Pele's given name / SUN 4-14-13 / Italian Renaissance composer Giovanni / Aunt of 1960s TV / Knitter's stash / Sufficient in Macbeth / Actress Lorna / When repeated 1963 #2 hit

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "My Treat" — theme answers all start with a kind of chocolate, signaled by the revealer at 59D: Kiss alternative ... or a hint to the starts of 3-, 5-, 10-, 14-, 26-, 64- and 68-Down (CHOCOLATE DROP) [the "drop" part presumably refers to the fact that the theme answers, and thus all the chocolate types, run Down, i.e. "drop"]

Word of the Day: CHOCOLATE DROP 


• • •

Hi everyone. Sorry to be gone so long, but I got sick in a way I haven't been sick since I was 11. Four days totally out of it and two more somewhat out of it. Then my cat died. Or, rather, I finally had to have him put down. He was 18 and I'd had him since he was a 2-month-old kitten. So, in short, April sucks it hard. But I'm feeling about 80% healthy, which means I'm good-to-blog. Thanks to all my stand-ins. I'd say you did great work, but honestly, I haven't looked at my blog in a week. It was that kind of illness. Nothing. Happening. Except almost three full seasons of "Mad Men." That happened. Nearly up to date. God bless you, Netflix streaming. Also god bless you to my wife, who cared for the increasingly bewildered and frustrated invalid, and PuzzleGirl, who just said "go to bed" and took care of everything, blog-wise.

If I owe you an email response or anything else, thank you for your patience. It may be a while.

The puzzle! What's a "CHOCOLATE DROP"? Honestly, I've never heard this term in my life. In my country, "drop" implies some kind of hard candy-type substance. See [cough drop], [lemon drop], etc. Google wasn't much help (except in taking me into some horribly racist territory). But I guess it's just like a "Kiss" only ... not brand-named, and British? Yeah? OK. But you can't have a HOT CHOCOLATE DROP, can you? The liquidity implied by "hot" and the solidity implied by "drop" would result in some epic battle of states, which would leave you with, I'm guessing, a gas. So the "DROP" part must just refer to the Down-ness of the theme answers. I love this grid, and I love chocolate, but both the title and the revealer are inexact and odd and confusing.

Theme answers:
  • 3D: 1984 "educational" Van Halen song ("HOT FOR TEACHER") — first answer I got. I love the clue, the answer, everything about this. And the song *is* educational. The video, even more so. I feel that, as an adolescent MTV addict (i.e. a card-carrying member of GEN X) (34D: MTV's early fan base), I know I learned a lot. 
  • 68D: Flowering plant used to treat liver ailments (MILK THISTLE
  • 5D: 1998 Grammy-nominated song by the Verve ("BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY") — a huge, huge song. I feel like it was in every commercial and every year-end sports wrap-up and every everything at the turn of the millennium.
  • 64D: Light, fruity alcoholic drink (WHITE SANGRIA) — never heard of this. I've heard of "sangria," obviously. I didn't know it came white. In my world, it doesn't. Just like chocolate. Wine is red and chocolate is brown and snow and/or my late cat are white.
  • 10D: Setting of Barbara Kingsolver's "The Poisonwood Bible" (BELGIAN CONGO)
  • 26D: Classic novel subtitled "Adventures in a Desert Island," with "The" ("SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON") — read this with our daughter a few years back. It got to be a running joke—every time a new animal appeared, we would speculate on which of the Family would murder it, and how. They shot first, asked questions later, those folks.
  • 14D: 2012 film starring Johnny Depp as a bloodsucker ("DARK SHADOWS")—much better known as a long-running British TV show, I'd've thunk, but it was easy to get with this clue too.
Theme answers are all really interesting. Rest of the grid is basically holding it together. Not much to see there, though BIRTH RATE (37A: It's high in West Africa) and (esp.) YOU BETTER (100A: Response to "I promise I will") stand out. Had the most trouble in what felt to me like the ugliest part of the grid—down in the environs of SANGRIA. Lots of junk like ERSE and RAU and SSA and the funny plural NUDGERS. Wasn't hard, really. Just took some thinking, and you don't want people "thinking" on the one part of the grid that's clunky.

OK, I gotta preserve energy. Gonna wrap things up, format this baby, and get back to drinking tea and watching movies. See you tomorrow.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:13 AM  

    Easy- medium for me too. Only real erasure (unreal being misreads or wrong numbers) was risesTO for SOARSTO.  Not much else to say about this one. Cute theme with mostly fine fill, but not very zippy. A tepid liked it.

    retired_chemist 12:25 AM  

    Easy-medium. A popular rating, so far.

    A bunch of stuff I didn't know but with a few crosses the answers could be inferred.

    REAR @ 69A instead of TUSH caused problems for a while. Got it worked out. 47A ATTAIN instead of SOAR TO, ditto. Took _NC @ 62A and made it Mandela's ANC, which made 51D CARO_ a real poser. Fixed. Recalling EDSON (13A Pele) was,I felt, a coup. Not a soccer fan.

    A decent theme, decent fill, but not much exciting. favorite answer: YOU BETTER.

    paulsfo 1:01 AM  

    I DNF because of the NW.

    But I really want to rant about the uniformly boring clues; or, instead, to ask a question. Are there crossword duos where one does the fill and one does the clues, like songwriting teams? Because there have to be many, many people who could write clues which are more clever, or amusing, or *something*, than these were.

    Anonymous 1:14 AM  

    So sorry about your kitty. We just put down out Chocolate (I kid you not)Lab a few weeks ago, and it is indeed a rotten experience. Super easy puzzle for me--and I never say that. Actually, it was too easy to be much fun. I like to have to wrestle a bit--actually I like it best when I am totally stumped, go away for a few hours or overnight, and suddenly see it all fall into place when I come back. I got briefly stuck in the northwest corner, but the light dawned without my having to take a head-clearing break.

    The Bard 1:16 AM  

    Macbeth , Act II, scene III

    Porter: Here's a knocking indeed! If a
    man were porter of hell-gate, he should have
    old turning the key.

    [Knocking within]
    Knock, knock, knock! Who's there, i' the name of
    Beelzebub? Here's a farmer, that hanged
    himself on the expectation of plenty: come in
    time; have napkins enow about you; here
    you'll sweat for't.

    Macbeth , Act IV, scene II

    Son: Then the liars and swearers are fools,
    for there are liars and swearers enow to beat
    the honest men and hang up them.

    chefwen 2:56 AM  

    @Rex - Happy that you are feeling better, but so sad about your kitty. They just don't live long enough, do they?

    Found the puzzle to be quite easy and had to keep slowing myself down to make it last longer. Biggest goof was at 65A where I had put in Leon and was soooo sure about it that I refused to take it out for way too long.

    Think I'm working on a couple of zits after all that Chocolate. Favorites are DARK and BELGIAN. Our local little pharmacy sells Chocolove Almonds & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate. Must have a bar or two in fridge at all times. Blurb "At first bite, crunchy almonds release their flavor in a swirl with chocolate. The sea salt crystals continually reset your sweet taste buds and make a tantalizing taste combination that keeps you wanting more." I can attest to that.

    Numinous 3:11 AM  

    Got this in less time than yesterday's. Maybe ten minutes less. Such a crossword hero I am, I finished around 1600 in the iPad app and I had to google a bit.

    @Puzzle Girl, Braves got your Nats again today, I bet we do it again tomorrow.


    Anonymous 4:28 AM  

    I thought the non-theme fill had more going for it than you're giving it credit for. GOT REAL is pretty nifty. BIG TOP. GEN X. EARLOBE. BOING.

    Thoracic 5:47 AM  

    Best. Sunday. Time. Ever.
    Enjoyed many of the clues for fill- boing, birthday, yew tree etc. For the theme answers, The Poisonwood Bible was a great book, Dark Shadows was a truly awful movie. What was Johnny Depp thinking?
    I finished this up, totally Google free in just under half an hour, while the Leafs were thrashing my beloved Canadiens. Bittersweet indeed.

    leah712 6:47 AM  

    Poisonwood Bible is my all-time favorite book.

    Easy for me, except for the NW. Between Jesus and Lady Bird Johnson, I had a hard time seeing the answers.

    chefbea 6:58 AM  

    Did this last night with only one google - Lady Bird Johnson's name - and finished before I went to bed. (Now what do I do today???)

    Love the puzzle..yummy. Friends of ours in Ct. who are from Belgium use to have a chocolate shop. Boy was that good!! Well any kind of chocolate is good.

    @Rex glad you are on the mend and soo sorry about your cat. Thanx Liz for a puzzle that was quite a treat

    Anonymous 7:37 AM  

    I thought CHOCOLATE DROP referred to CHOCOLATE being DROPped from each of the theme answers.

    I parsed BELGIAN CONGO as BEL GIANCONGO, some sort of pretty Mona Lisa, I guess.

    Evan 7:38 AM  

    Very sorry to hear about your cat, Rex. My condolences.

    I'm also amazed that you haven't looked at the site for the entire week -- that shows quite a lot of security in your blog to put it in others' hands and not check in at all while you were out, even though you've been posting on it nearly every day for six-and-a-half years. I guess that means it's taken on a life of its own, eh?

    I had the same thought as the @anonymous poster one minute before me. I thought the DROP referred to the fact that the word CHOCOLATE is dropped after the starts of the theme answers. It didn't even occur to me that it could refer to their "downness."

    Fairly easy, but I got stumped for a while in the northwest -- could not remember the Van Halen song and had MIME before ECHO, DRAT before RATS, and EDGE before OUST (all fitting with each other, of course; one mistake in a single corner can make things difficult, three can make it feel impossible).

    loren muse smith 7:42 AM  

    I’m very sorry about your loss, Rex. It’s a bittersweet miracle that our pets wrap themselves so completely around our heartstrings. I’m sure almost all of us here know exactly what you’re going through. Sending good vibes your way.

    And further thanks to PG for taking over and arranging subs here. Great job!

    Aaah. Dropping down. The whole time I kept wondering about all the downs, thinking maybe she’s just bored of her usual Sunday wonders. Thanks, Rex, for pointing that out. It clarifies the theme a lot more for me. And I *have* heard of chocolate drops, so I like the theme.

    “My” “initial” thought was to look for M_ Y_ treats like Mello Yellow.

    I work with a very creative event planner who always likes pretty SANGRIA stations at her events, with both red and WHITE.

    @chefwen -NOAM was one of my toeholds, but of course I studied theoretical linguistics and have met him. Twice. Ahem. Brag, brag. (I’m polishing my nails on my lapel right now.) Sigh.

    I had “finding” for WENDING for a while, which made that Pontiac tribe a real poser.

    TRAGIC crossing OUTGROW. My jeans. ENOW said.

    And we have a cager corner with ON COURT crossing SPUR and SPHERE.

    Speaking of basketball, when my son was in middle school, I bought him Odor EATERS, and sometimes I thought his entire feet might just disappear.

    LOUIE LOUIE is one of the all time greats. Didn’t some state try to make it the official song? On the very first season of America’s Funniest Home Videos, there was a bird who danced to LOUIE LOUIE. I’ve never been able to find it, but it was similar to this:

    Great job as usual, Liz!

    Evan 7:53 AM  


    Maybe there are "Elton John and Bernie Taupin"-type constructing teams out there like you're suggesting, since filling a grid and coming up with original, clever clues are two different skills. But even so, you have to remember that Will Shortz edits a lot of the clues that we see (offhand, I remember reading that he might edit as much as 50% of them), and of course he has to tailor them to fit the difficulty setting for the week. If you think the clues weren't as fun as you might have liked, you can't necessarily blame that on the constructor.

    Anonymous 7:55 AM  

    Having to put down a pet is a terribly difficult experience. Sorry for your loss, Rex.

    Finished the puzzle last night...fairly easy. What shall I do this morning?

    Hope you are soon feeling like your old self.

    David Lee Roth 7:58 AM  

    Siddown, Waldo!

    Anonymous 8:01 AM  

    So sorry about your cat...feel better soon..

    OTD 8:05 AM  

    Glad you are feeling better, Rex. PG did a great job filling in. Continue to improve. Rest and movies and tea always did it for me.

    Sorry about the loss of your cat. We had to put down our dear little Chihuahua last December after 12 1/2 years together. I'm still not over it. Rotten thing about pets--they become part of the family and then die.

    Puzzle was easy-medium for me, too, but a fun run.

    JFC 8:17 AM  

    Sounds like a real bummer, Rex. Take care and feel better soon....


    Glimmerglass 8:20 AM  

    Sorry about your cat -- been there. I've also been there with sickness this month. I've had Influenza B -- not a fun experience. I had a flu shot last fall, but my doctor says it wasn't very effective this year, especially with old croaks like me. Welcome back. mI liked today's puzzle and thought some of the fill was clever.

    Glimmerglass 8:20 AM  

    Sorry about your cat -- been there. I've also been there with sickness this month. I've had Influenza B -- not a fun experience. I had a flu shot last fall, but my doctor says it wasn't very effective this year, especially with old croaks like me. Welcome back. mI liked today's puzzle and thought some of the fill was clever.

    webwinger 8:38 AM  

    Welcome back, Rex—glad you’re on the mend. Wish I could summon more empathy re the cat (though 18 years is a long time!), but I’ve never been a pet person, and find it as hard to really grok the feelings arising from most non-human relationships as I do with those of genders different from my own. Before I stop raising ire, I’ll throw in that, as always at this time of year, I am utterly relieved that March Madness is finally over. Am I the only person in the world who will admit that I couldn’t care less about the seemingly endless and endlessly complicated NCAA tourney? Seems like even people who claim to be sports-indifferent get gaga over the final four. Maybe it has something to do with going to a college that never qualified for inclusion.

    Did not find this puzzle particularly easy, though, as often seems to be the case, had no difficulty at a number of the sticking points mentioned by @Rex and @others: ALOU (though I’m hardly a baseball person), CLAUDIA, CHOCOLATE DROP, and WHITE SANGRIA all came quickly. Also as often, had trouble with the post-1970 pop songs (BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY, HOT FOR TEACHER—no problem with LOUIE, LOUIE though!) Googled early for Pele’s name, which was reported by some sources, including Wikipeda, as “Edison”, making me search in vain for rebus. Overall liked the theme, particularly the Down/Drop association, and most of the theme answers; as noted by others the cluing seemed rather pedestrian.

    The Glass is Half Empty 8:54 AM  

    Off the _____RATE in 37A I threw in DEATHRATE, and thought Mz Liz was getting pretty outré with her cluing.

    Then I began to wonder - Since 100% of the people in west Africa were born, and 100% will die, what's so special about that?

    MetaRex 9:01 AM  

    Great to have Rex back...sorry about the cat! excellent week of guestblogging...many thx to PG.

    Reactions to the puzz at Fudge for Teacher

    Elle54 9:03 AM  

    Sorry Rex, you've been through a lot. Glad "MadMen " could help you through. Don Draper is quite complex and entertaining, no?
    Since you said the Verve song was Huge, I watched the video, and was surprised I've never heard it before!
    Also didn't know Dark Shadows played in Britain. It was an afternoon soap opera I used to watch when I was a kid.
    Feel better!

    Elle54 9:07 AM  

    @webwinger for the first time this year, I printed out a bracket and guessed the winners of all the games. This made the NCAA tournament really fun and interesting. Try it next year!

    retired_chemist 9:07 AM  

    Sorry about losing your cat, Rex, and about your lab, Anon 1:14. As Chewfwen says, we never have them long enough. Glad Rex and Glimmerglass are on the mend.

    Did not notice the verticality of the theme on my own, but that's cool, especially with the reveal being CHOCOLATE DROP. If you reflect the puzzle about its main diagonal, it looks like the downs become acrosses and the acrosses become downs. The numbering changes but I think it would be in essence the same puzzle. Mathematicians, is that right?

    Penn, Gal 9:11 AM  

    so sorry about the cat. don't know what i'd do if i had to put one of mine down. it was bad enough when he needed emergency surgery.

    thought puzzle was kinda blah. expected more from ms. gorski.

    retired_chemist 9:14 AM  

    I just remembered I was going to ask about the ONYX panther figurine. No idea. Turns out it is something in Dungeons and Dragons. TGFC.

    baja 9:22 AM  

    @Rex Sorry for your loss. Rest well. May spring finally boing and lift us from our doldrums.

    dk 9:34 AM  

    Not bad for a Sunday. Midwesterns note: Nice Fish does not fit in 112A.

    *** (3 Stars) Odd desire to watch Willy Wonka.

    joho 9:39 AM  

    I loved that the reveal, CHOCOLATEDROP, told you that the theme answers would be dropping down ... just another delicious layer of fun whipped up by Ms. Gorski.

    This was pretty easy for me with the NW being the toughest part of the puzzle. I, too, like @The Glass Is Half Empty had deaTHRATE for a while plus isO for ODO. I finally saw that it had to be EARLOBE which saved me there. Love seeing ALOU clued as "Jesus, for one" without the usual baseball reference.

    The theme made me think of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" which made me happy.

    I'm really glad you're back Rex but so sorry to hear about your illness and, what's worse, your heartache over losing your beloved cat. :(

    lesgio 9:40 AM  

    So sorry for your loss!

    Record time for me (I must like chocolate more than I thought). Got stuck on "step aside, judicially" But really, isn't "recase" a better (albeit made-up) word for the definition than recuse?

    burgundy 9:51 AM  

    To me, chocolate drop refers to the shape of a chocolate kiss... looks like a drop, I heard it called a drop.


    Carole Shmurak 10:00 AM  

    Onyx for a panther figurine: I don't think you need a specific D&D reference. If you make a panther figurine, it has to be from some black substance. As soon as I had the 'y' from Swiss Family, and the 'x' from exited, it was clear which black substance it was (not 'ebon' which was my first thought).

    Steve Wolf 10:12 AM  

    My favorite clue of the day was 28A "Contracted agreement" for TIS. Even after getting it from crosses, it took a few beats for my "aha" moment: 'tis is a contraction for "it is", which is agreement.

    I enjoyed the puzzle.

    JC66 10:15 AM  


    Sorry for your loss. Losing a pet isn't easy.

    Tita 10:32 AM  

    My first day back I missed many guest-bloggers?
    So sorry to hear about the cat. Always so sad.

    While the past 2 days find me sick too, early week it was my BELGIAN cousins who kept me away. They brought lots of CHOCOLATEDROPs.

    NW also did me in...maybe if I'd popped in ALOU right away, instead of telling myself, nah - Jesus would have to have an accent...
    Having the pessimistic deaTHRATE there certainly didn't help.

    @chefbea - were your friends the owners of Belgique in Kent? The former White House chef?
    HE's back in DC now, this time working for the Brits.

    Joe The Juggler 10:36 AM  

    Now I want something chocolate. . .

    duaneu 10:47 AM  


    There was an effort a number of years ago to make LOUIE LOUIE the Washington state song. Supporters had to settle for it being designated the official state rock song. It's still played right after Take Me Out to the Ballgame at the 7th inning stretch of every Mariners game.

    jackj 11:10 AM  

    It’s Ladies Day at the NY Times puzzle site with Liz Gorski fronting for the X chromosome, chocolate afficionados among us and the verdict is reaffirmed that women love, love, love, their chocolate:

    HOT, BITTERSWEET, BELGIAN, DARK, SWISS, WHITE (well, maybe not so much for this one), but also MILK and all other variations of the sweet addiction that didn’t squeak into the Gorski grid.

    Chocolatiers are the vicars of this religion, with Godiva being the High Priestess.

    Bring your lady roses on Valentine’s Day and be prepared to get a sniffling, “If you really loved me you would have brought chocolates.”

    Even better than sex, they say.

    Some of the secrets surrounding this addiction can be discovered by cadging some Dove dark chocolate bites from your ladies’ stash and reading the uplifting, supportive messages women send to each other included on the inner wrapper:

    “Calories only exist if you count them.”

    “Listen to your heart and dance.”

    “It’s OK to be fabulous AND flawed.”

    “Always follow your heart - it’s never wrong.”

    But remember, when the lights are down low and your honey purrs ”OHOHOH”, you haven’t necessarily turned her on, she is more likely enjoying a treasured rare treat, a salted caramel ganache bon-bon or an Argentinean dulce de leche, perhaps.

    Somewhere in all this hypothesizing lies the answer to why the BIRTHRATE is so high in West Africa and surely it is because the only gourmet chocolate available in that part of the world is at Caterina’s Cacao Shoppe in Lagos, Nigeria and those ladies who can’t get to Caterina’s are forced to pursue more mundane pleasures to satisfy their cravings.

    So Liz, wallow in glorious chocoholicism, emulate Lady Gaga in a chocolate-covered muumuu, take all your vacations at Hershey’s Chocolate World, campaign for a fondue pot in every kitchen, but please, please, don’t make your puzzles so easy!

    Welcome back to the King of Crossworld!

    lawprof 11:14 AM  

    For some reason I got off to a slow start in the North (e.g., wanted wheee for BOING for a while, had to wait on the first half of the bellybutton answer) and then picked up steam in the South. Got the theme early on and ended up with one of my fastest-ever Sundays.

    Didn't catch the "drop" = "down" part of the theme until I came here, but that didn't affect the solving.

    WHITESANGRIA at 64D wasn't a problem except that it seems somewhat oxymoronic to me. Regular sangria, made with red wine, presumably refers to the Spanish word for blood, sangre. So how can a wine cooler (that's what it is, really) made with white wine be called sangria? Is there such a thing as a white bloody mary? I'm more than willing to be educated on this point.

    Sandy K 11:15 AM  

    Glad to see you back, Rex. Very sad about your cat. Pet lover here too. Beware of TV ads with animals- they can really get to you. : (

    Enjoyed the puzzle- didn't knock the kishkas outta me like yesterday's. And ended on a happier note.

    Isn't a SNO CAP or a BON BON a BIT of CHOCOLATE too?

    Keldy23 11:24 AM  

    Hershey's is marketing a new product, literally an alternative to the Kiss, called Hershey's Chocolate Drops, so the product placement nature of the revealer clue really, really bothered me.

    Rex, many condolences on the kitty. I recall being a kid when I got my first pet and thinking "please don't let buddy die until I'm old enough to handle it" - 30 years later, I know there's no such thing as "old enough".

    quilter1 11:31 AM  

    @Rex and @Tita, my first day back, too. Great puzzle, went down as easy as CHOCOLATE DROP cookies, which I make and have in the freezer as I type.
    @Rex, I think there is a bad luck streak through April this year. Sorry about your cat--mine were 15 when they departed.
    We left on our trip with a 2007 silver car and came home in a 2010 red car. No crash, just a major mechanical failure that baffled the dealership. They all felt sorry for us but not enough to waive the $6000+ repair fee, so it made more sense to trade up. Also Hubby lost a credit card. I hope that is it for the month. Oh, yeah, income tax.

    Anonymous 11:39 AM  

    @steve wolf - thanks for the TIS explanation. I couldn't stop thinking TOS for terms of service. Then for the cross some strange term for someone from Oneonta. It was the only place I got stuck.

    Carola 11:41 AM  

    As often, I appreciate the puzzle even more after reading Rex (the CHOCOLATEs all DROPping down) and the comments - thanks especially to @Steve Wolf for explaining TIS.

    Found the puzzle pretty easy, starting in the NE and sweeping around clockwise, and then suddenly impossible in the NW, RATS! Didn't know the TEACHER song, for the life of me couldn't remember Lady Bird's first name, and had the doubly incorrect anO(METER). Thankfully, I have DARK CHOCOLATE at hand as a comfort for my DNF.

    Rex, glad you've turned the corner. I'm sorry about your cat.

    Carola 11:54 AM  

    @Sandy K - Very nice extra morsels!

    Gill I. P. 12:38 PM  

    @Rex - Yikes...Talk about a double whammy. I get teary eyed when any one loses a pet - even if I haven't met it.
    Our patio faces this huge large field that always has the most beautiful burst of wild poppies and yellow mustard that bloom in the spring. It's filled with jackrabbits, lots of Black Phoebes, the Redwing Blackbird and all sorts of animals. Every year, just as everyone within miles is enjoying the view, this jackass comes with his huge machines and mows it all down. Every living creature tries to scatter and lots don't make it. I and several others have tried to stop him but he just waves us off saying he's just trying to prevent fires!!! I morn the loss every year.
    @jackj your post made me laugh though. I was never much of a CHOCOLATE lover until I once went on a diet. All I could think of night and day was GODIVA and I'm not even gay!!
    I've never heard of WHITE SANGRIA. Red is my choice.
    Like others, zipped through but Liz G always makes my Sunday brighter.

    Octavian 12:38 PM  

    @SteveWolf -- Another possible meaning of TIS is "tenant improvements."

    TIs are a common part of real estate transactions: changes to a building for the benefit of a tenant whose costs are negotiated between lessor and lessee as part of the contract agreement.

    As long as I'm here might as well say I thought this would be rated Very Easy. Theme was Tuesday level; clues were Tuesday-Wednesday level. Seemed too straightforward for a Sunday.

    jerry k 12:42 PM  

    Glad you're feeling better Rex and so sorry about your cat. Love your blog. Easy for me.

    Paucle 1:08 PM  

    Funny you should mention 100 across, then attach the Who's video.
    I'd've felt much better about the clue if Elizabeth had used the Who. Her clue should've said "likely response to..." or "improper response to", but I guess that's just the picky linguist in me who bemoans the disappearance of necessary helping verbs.
    Am I that old fashioned? Is "You better" now officially acceptable when "you'd better" is clearly meant?

    Dick S 1:32 PM  


    Very sorry for the loss of your cat! Amazing how they become such confidantes.

    The NW ... Enlightened completely and entered DERN without paying attention. Took many minutes to look more closley and see LUFT.

    Anonymous 1:48 PM  

    Hope you're feeling better Rex. I have put down 3 cats and numerous dogs so feel your pain.
    I found this puzzle very easy even tho I did not know Van Halen or the Depp movie...alot to be said for the crosses so didn't have to I had no excuse but to start weeding the garden in prep for the veggies...broccoli goes in this week.

    Z 1:50 PM  

    high SEAS before OPEN SEAS caused me some issues, as well as not remembering the Verve song. BITTERSWEET SYMPHONY did seem to be everywhere when it was huge. But my real tough area was the NW. Threw down HOT FOR TEACHER but then nothing. Went and finished everything else. Even with BIRTHRATE, EATERS, and RATS in place I had to start the alphabet to see EARLOBES. That finally gave me ECHO to OUST.. The U in the CLAUDIA/LUFT cross was my last letter.

    Sorry to hear about your cat. Our corgi has a degenerative nerve disease and we're faced with the decision of when. He seems happy enough for now, but he can't do all the things he used to love.

    rudiger45 2:20 PM  

    I also flew through this & concur with an "easy" rating; only medium-fun, though, because the theme was quickly deduced and resulted in too much standard fill with unimaginative cluing.
    Minor quibbles:
    1A: Parrot, to me, is to copy or repeat, not necessarily ECHO.
    21A: Would be better to clue it "In N.Y.C., it starts in March." As stated the clue sounds like it was created by someone who believes the world revolves around NYC (like an ESPN programmer).
    109A: On the two phone pads I checked, there's a key for PQRS; seems like cheating for the convenience of the fill to omit the Q.
    16D: Can't think of any basketball drills that aren't ONCOURT, can you?!?

    That said, I did like the misdirection of 51D ("Flat storage site" for CDROM) and 41A ("Worldly figure" for SPHERE).

    M and A 2:20 PM  

    @4-Oh. Man. 23-Across pretty much sums up your week. Sympathies, all around.

    Since you have been out cold for the duration, thought I'd recap the week for you. So, major spoiler alert, here.

    *** (spoiler barrier) ***

    Monday: O/S, which stands for April Fools, in Bulgaria. BFFs stage a coup. coop? coupe? whatever.
    Tuesday: Debut. For the new traffic sign "GOON AHEAD", alerting one In advance to encounters with weirdball motorists.
    Wednesday: Stacked 15ers that are Movie Themers. My fave of the week.
    Thursday: Sunglasses that can see around corners. Evil Doug loses it.
    Friday: Wraparound rear ends. Very few U's. Some new guy named Patrick Berry. I'd skip, if I were you.
    Saturday: Mutha's Day themeless. Lotsa French stuff.
    Sunday: Chocolate til you drop. Sweet! Welcome back, blog dude Rex.

    syndy 3:29 PM  

    UM@Jackj.MILK(THISTLE) WAS one of the theme answers-I guess Rex missed it too! Rudders for NUDGERS messed me up in the sw! -never heard of the Verve-never heard the song! wanted(kept singing) BITTERSWEETmemories! REX been there-the hardest act of love may you ever have to fulfill

    Fitzy 3:34 PM  

    First of all, condolences on the loss of your cat, Rex. Putting a cherished pet to sleep is never easy. April truly can be "the cruelest month". I got about 50% of this puzzle on the first go down & across and then spent about 2 hours filling in rest... got about 90% done before I came to the site. This is excellent for me. I really enjoyed this puzzle & some of the quirky cluing. My fave was 44 Across "Naval flier"... I immediately thought "AVIATOR" but was one letter too long and "PILOT" one too short. When I finally filled in "ENSIGN" I asked myself "But can't those ranked as Lieutenants, etc.. be naval fliers too" Then it hit me that an "ENSIGN" can be a flag. Great cluing Ms. Gorski. PS Was "DARK SHADDOWS" a British show? I remember Barnaby Collins on ABC when I was a kid.

    Z 4:06 PM  

    @rudiger45 - rotary phones associated letters with numbers 2-9, three letters per number. Q and Z were omitted. This slight was corrected when texting became a telephone function.

    EdFromHackensack 5:00 PM  

    if you google, its a DNF folks. Rex sorry about thecat. My grandfather used to tell me "Good pussy is hard to find"

    OISK 6:04 PM  

    Waiting for someone else who disliked this one. I do not know Van Halen from Van Johnson, never heard of Bittersweet symphony, Hot for teacher, The Matrix hero, have no idea who Yanni is, but knew it from prior puzzles, Never heard of anything by REM ether, so until CDROM jumped into my brain I was stumped . There is a point at which the pop culture gets annoying enough for me to just want to toss the puzzle. This one got close to that point. (never heard Louie Louie either, but I vaguely recall the existence of the song.) The theme did not excite me either. I'm from Brooklyn, but this puzzle gets my Bronx cheer.

    sanfranman59 6:12 PM  

    This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

    All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

    Mon 5:33, 6:10, 0.90, 10%, Easy
    Tue 7:16, 8:15, 0.88, 15%, Easy
    Wed 9:50, 10:16, 0.96, 40%, Medium
    Thu 13:57, 16:58, 0.82, 18%, Easy
    Fri 16:46, 22:14, 0.75, 13%, Easy
    Sat 28:50, 25:16, 1.14, 84%, Challenging
    Sun 24:23, 29:29, 0.83, 17%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:22, 3:42, 0.91, 9%, Easy
    Tue 4:25, 4:49, 0.92, 15%, Easy
    Wed 5:12, 6:04, 0.86, 12%, Easy
    Thu 8:37, 9:56, 0.87, 22%, Easy-Medium
    Fri 8:38, 12:47, 0.68, 5%, Easy (9th lowest ratio of 172 Fridays)
    Sat 17:27, 15:01, 1.16, 82%, Challenging
    Sun 15:03, 19:51, 0.76, 7% (6th lowest ratio of 82 Sundays)

    So ends (mostly) easy week with the NYT crossword. Sorry for your health woes, Rex, and for your loss. 17/18 seems to be a common age for these heart-wrenching decisions for cat-owners. Get well and hang in there.

    JenCT 6:25 PM  

    @OISK: Come out from under that rock, would ya?

    So glad you're on the mend, @Rex, and sorry about your cat. It's hard to lose a pet that's been with you for so long.

    I haven't been sick, but it's been a rotten day for me, too: Our 9-yr.-old German Shepherd (my avatar) suffered a ruptured spleen tumor last night (we didn't even know he had a tumor), and the vet put him down today.

    Duke was super-friendly, always ready for a hike or a car ride, was great with kids & other animals, a wonderful watchdog, and a loyal family member.

    I'm really hoping that my service dog will be ready soon...

    I enjoyed the puzzle very much: yes, it was on the easy side, but Liz Gorski puzzles are always right in my wheelhouse.

    Airymom 6:47 PM  

    Most of us wait all week to pick up the Sunday NYT from our doorstep or driveway and then settle into our most comfortable chair or prop ourselves up in bed to do the puzzle. It's a great (sometimes the best) part of my week.

    But today, extra special....You Gen X guys got your thrill from revisiting "Hot for Teacher". We baby boomer gals got our thrill from the chocolate theme.

    Yes, it is better than..................anything!

    Get well soon, Rex.

    OISK 6:53 PM  

    @JenCT - Rock is exactly what I have managed to avoid for most of my life! I am certainly not about to start paying attention to Van Halen, REM, INXS, or the Verve(??) in order to improve my crossword skills! I did finish this puzzle successfully, despite all the pop. At least I knew who Phil Ochs was. There but for fortune go you or I...

    chefbea 7:04 PM  

    @Jen Ct sooo sorry!

    Tita 7:59 PM  

    Oh Jen - so sorry about Duke!
    He was friendly indeed, lumbering along with the cats and the chicks...

    I know he'll be sadly missed. I hope the rest of your menagerie (and family) can help make this a tiny bit easier on you all.

    jerry k 8:26 PM  

    Agree with Ed From Hackensack. Googling is a DNF.

    LaneB 9:26 PM  

    Once I filled In SWISSFAMILYROBINSON, BITTERSWEETSYMPHONY, BELGIANCONGO andHOTFORTEACHER, the rest came relatively easily (for me--meaning that it took "only" a little less than 2hours. I enjoyed it.

    Sparky 9:41 PM  

    DNF. A few blanks in Mid West. Puzzle okay. Liked SKEINS, SCALDS, chunky words.

    My husband accidently brought home Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter with Reeses. We don't like chunky ice cream. I am bravely eating it so it won't go to waste. Oh, the horror.

    Glad you are mending Rex. Really sorry about the cat. Such a hard decision. George Carlin got it right about letting a pet into your life.

    Oh, @Jen. He was such a big woofer. I am sorry. He was a hugful.

    Thanks for the update @quilter1. Glad you are coming along.

    As for @Sparky: Have been having a lot of migraine episodes, have carpel tunnel and PC sholder. Yoikes! I think I'll take a rest from the computer for a while. May lurk, though. Be good.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:47 PM  

    I hesitated at 48 A, because I associate the answer so strongly with:

    The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam as translated by Edward FitzGerald.-

    A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
    A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread — and Thou
    Beside me singing in the Wilderness
    — Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

    (Much more pleasant than the scenes from Shakespeare!)

    Anonymous 10:24 AM  

    So sorry about your cat, Rex. We had the same experience New Year's Eve with our 16 year old, we're still missing her so much. Glad to hear you're feeling better.

    This one was easy-medium for me too.

    Dirigonzo 3:34 PM  

    From SynCity, my heart-felt condolences to those who lost their beloved pets last week.

    PP and I struggled with parts of the grid, notably the NW corner where my idea to put in "aper" at 1a (Parrot) made it harder than it had to be. I usually finish a puzzle with at least one answer that I get right without understanding why and today had gtwo perfect exxamples: TIS for Contracted agreement and ENSIGN for Naval flier. Then I come here and somebody explains them for me - thank you Rexville!

    Spacecraft 4:14 PM  

    Turned out to be more of a straight medium for me; I got off on a couple of wrong feet: rENter before TENANT, dsT instead of EDT--and, the only "white" drink I know is WHITErussian, which I filled in without an inkling that it might be wrong. That, folks, took a while to SORT out.

    However, all got straightened out in the end; so thanks for the "guilty pleasure," Liz!

    Syndi Solver 8:53 PM  

    @Rex, belated condolences on losing your kitty.

    @jackj, regarding that comment about chocolate:

    "Even better than sex, they say."

    I LOVE chocolate but my reaction to this old saying is always, "I think they must be doing something wrong." :-)

    Very enjoyable puzzle! Nothing much to add to the existing comments. I loved all the literary clues. When I got to ARCADIA I thought of the Tom Stoppard play which is one of my favorites.

    Joshua 12:27 AM  

    DARK SHADOWS wasn't a long-running British TV show -- it was an American show, taped in New York City and originally broadcast by and owned by the ABC network.

    Kevin Quinn 10:27 PM  

    I think the alleged hostility of anonymous posters here is the emperor's new clothes of this blog. So many well wishes from so many "anonymice" today... Too bad Rex doesn't read them. Or DOES he?...

    @Rex- I hope you're all better by now. Being sick sucks. So does losing a pet. I buried my female cat, "Kits" just a few months ago. I had at some point decided she would be my last... Pay no attention to the beautiful tom cat sleeping at my side ("Mr. Felix")... Yeah, he probably won't be my last either;-) My condolences to you sir, and to @JenCT... -Kevin Quinn

    mccart 3:02 PM  

    my name is mccart i never believe in spell casting, until when i was was tempted to try it. i and my husband have been having a lot of problem living together, he will always not make me happy because he have fallen in love with another lady outside our relationship, i tried my best to make sure that my husband leave this woman but the more i talk to him the more he makes me fell sad, so my marriage is now leading to divorce because he no longer gives me attention. so with all this pain and agony, i decided to contact this spell caster to see if things can work out between me and my husband again. this spell caster who was a woman told me that my husband is really under a great spell that he have been charm by some magic, so she told me that she was going to make all things normal back. she did the spell on my husband and after 5 days my husband changed completely he even apologize with the way he treated me that he was not him self, i really thank this woman her name is Dr Aluta she have bring back my husband back to me i want you all to contact her who are having any problem related to marriage issue and relationship problem she will solve it for you. her email is, she is a woman and she is great. wish you good time.

    mccart 3:06 PM  

    my name is mccart john i never believe in spell casting, until when i was was tempted to try it. i and my husband have been having a lot of problem living together, he will always not make me happy because he have fallen in love with another lady outside our relationship, i tried my best to make sure that my husband leave this woman but the more i talk to him the more he makes me fell sad, so my marriage is now leading to divorce because he no longer gives me attention. so with all this pain and agony, i decided to contact this spell caster to see if things can work out between me and my husband again. this spell caster who was a woman told me that my husband is really under a great spell that he have been charm by some magic, so she told me that she was going to make all things normal back. she did the spell on my husband and after 5 days my husband changed completely he even apologize with the way he treated me that he was not him self, i really thank this woman her name is Dr Aluta she have bring back my husband back to me i want you all to contact her who are having any problem related to marriage issue and relationship problem she will solve it for you. her email is, she is a woman and she is great. wish you good time.

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