Physicist who studied supersonics / WED 8-7-13 / Sarcastic remark upon hearing bad news / Phil who sang Draft Dodger Rag / Oil-rich nation invaded in 1990 / Rte with terminus in Key West / Tierra surrounded by agua / conventionality is not morality

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Constructor: Erik Wennstrom

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: TWIST OF LEMON (23D: Drink garnish ... or a hint to five letters in the answer to each starred clue) — theme answers contain rearrangements of the letters L, E, M, O and N:

Theme answers:
  • 4D: *Precious, brief time with a loved one (STOLEN MOMENT)
  • 20A: *What paper profits aren't (REAL MONEY)
  • 31A: *Photo gear with variable focal lengths (ZOOM LENSES)
  • 42A: *Titularly (IN NAME ONLY)
  • 53A: *Sarcastic remark upon hearing bad news ("KILL ME NOW")

Word of the Day: Sam RAIMI (12D: "Spider-Man" director Sam) —
Samuel M "Sam" Raimi (born October 23, 1959) is an American film directorproducerwriter and actor, best known for directing the cult horror comedy Evil Dead series, the superhero film Darkman, and the Spider-Man trilogy; his most recent work is 2013's fantasy film Oz the Great and Powerful. Raimi is also the producer of several successful television series. He is also the founder of Renaissance Pictures. Recently, he worked as the producer of The Possession, and the 2013 remake of Evil Dead. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a very nice puzzle. Revealer is a fresh phrase as well as an apt play on words. The LEMON rearrangements are impressively varied. The one small flaw in the execution here is that the LEMON letters aren't implicated in every word in every theme answer, as (ideally, most elegantly) they should be—IN NAME ONLY is the outlier in this regard. Still, the theme is dense and there are tons of Scrabbly letters and there's very little in the way of bad fill, so thumbs up. What I'm most obsessed by here is the failure to use "V." It shows such glorious, almost perverse restraint to pull up one letter short of a pangram—and not even a difficult-to-shoehorn letter like "Q" or "J." I mean ... I can put a "V" in here easy, with absolutely no damage to the quality of the overall fill. And so, likely, could the constructor. But he didn't. God bless him, he didn't. I want to shake his hand. Pangrams are, still, for suckers.

"KILL ME NOW" is the highlight of this grid. I balked at NEW DAD (59A: One passing out cigars, maybe) as I was filling it in, but about a second later did a 180 and decided it was just fine. Weird experience, that. I tore through this puzzle somewhere in the lowish 3s. Felt as if getting EYRE from crosses and (thus) JANE as a freebie really catapulted me (7D: With 2-Down, book that includes the line "Conventionality is not morality"). Everything just fell into place. The one area I flailed around slightly was in the SW, where I finished. That "Q" didn't come into view easily. With several of the 5s down there, I didn't get them at first glance. And yes, on a Wednesday, with letters in place, I do generally expect to get a 5 at first glance. Missing several in a row can definitely feel like a dead stop, even if the reality is only a lost 10 seconds or so. Oh, I got a little disoriented by the ERNST / MACH connection (13D: With 61-Across, physicist who studied supersonics). I got ERNST from crosses. Then when I got to MACH I thought "whose name is MACH? That's not a name?" I was thinking *first* name, probably because I know ERNST best as a last name (of artist Max ERNST). When you sail through a puzzle in just over 3, small anomalies and glitches like this stand out.
    \Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Gill I. P. 12:03 AM  

    What a terrific Wed. puzzle.
    I could spend hours making up a story with these TONI answers.
    Just KILL ME NOW CZAR Erik Wennstrom.
    P.S. Damn it, where is your V?

    Evan 12:07 AM  
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    Evan 12:08 AM  

    Agreed -- I thought this was great. All those themers are sweet.

    I think the only thing that made me wince a little bit (besides STNS) was X-FILE. It's odd seeing it as singular. I'm sure I saw many episodes of that show several years ago where either Mulder or Scully said it in the singular, but I can't imagine any other context in which you'd hear or say it. The show's name, for which the public is familiar, is plural.

    That's a small nit though. This grid's a winner -- one of those "I wish I had thought of that" ideas.

    jae 12:08 AM  

    Easy-medium for me.  Had teLL for KILL before I read the clue and pres for CZAR.   No WOEs although I didn't know MACH's first name.  When ERNST appeared I was @Rex thinking Max having failed again to read the clue.

    Stuff I only know from doing crosswords: UMAMI and STNS (I don't remember seeing this abbreviation in real life).

    The puzzle was just fine for a Wed. Very smooth grid and twisty  in an easy way with a zesty reveal.  Liked it. 

    B Donohue 12:08 AM  

    Fun puzzle and it was cool reading Rex's write-up since my own solving experience was so similar (though doubtless involved a slower solve).

    The Q of SQUAD was my biggest and last holdup and I definitely thought of max ERNST and wondered if MACH is a real name.

    Abject-a Czar-la Mach-els 12:15 AM  

    So much Scrabbliciousness…SQUAD, ZOOM, XFILE, ABJECT I looked for a pangram, alas, no V, but lots of Ws to make up for it, even three phrases with both a K and a W:
    Gotta love it!!!

    TWISTED LEMON, nice! INNAMEONLY so smooth. STOLENMOMENT, sexy! KILLMENOW- funny!! GREAT theme answers.

    I think I've only heard the word ABJECT when attached to "Poverty", it's one of those words I don't quickly recognize out of context.

    I put in TWIzzlestick. Nevermind that it’s SWIzzlestick…and that was wrong anyway!
    Anyway, lotza fun.

    Steve J 12:21 AM  
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    Anonymous 12:21 AM  

    Horrendous fill.

    That NW corner is a disgrace.

    JFC 12:21 AM  

    And, Rex, just where would you put a V? I actually liked this puzzle until you explained it was only one letter short of a pangram....


    Steve J 12:22 AM  

    I'm the outlier in the small sample set thus far: I found this completely underwhelming, especially for a Wednesday. Way too easy for a Wednesday. It would have been easy for a Monday, if my time was any indication. I think Wednesdays should offer some resistance, and this offered as much resistance as a stick of butter in the face of a hot knife (other than UMAMI, there wasn't anything outside the early-week norm, and even then I filled that in uncrossed). The only missteps I had were having BASS clef and CHEW (out) instead of REAM. Those were quickly corrected when it was clear that there were no _ZBC anything in the executive branch, let alone a tunnel that's also a _OAH.

    The theme was nice for what it was, but I didn't find it contributed anything to the solve (again, admittedly harping on the Wednesday aspect, the reaction to a Wednesday theme shouldn't be to finish the puzzle and say, "Ok, so what was the theme?"). One theme answer came with zero crosses (ZOOMLENSES) and one came with one (TWISTOFLEMON). That said, KILLMENOW was great.

    On a Monday or Tuesday, I may would have liked this more. But for me Wednesdays and Thursdays are my favorites and directly in my wheelhouse, where things offer enough challenge without being impossible most weeks (like Friday and Saturdays are for me), so it's letdown for me to have such a cakewalk.

    PurpleGuy 12:30 AM  

    I agree with @Steve J as I was surprised to have such an easy puzzle on a Wednesday.
    However I did find it fun to fill in.
    I'm embarrassed to admit that I had a hard time
    parsing INNAMEONLY until the final letters were in
    place. Especially being an English major and teacher!

    Good writeup Rex, as usual.

    Happy Wednesday?Hump Day all.
    Shanti -


    August West 12:33 AM  

    I'm not in the most patient frame of mind, currently. Frantically trying to clear decks at work before end of business Friday, so that I might actually experience some modicum of relaxation next week in Corolla. Out the door at 6A. Home at 8:30P. Looks like tomorrow, I'll do pretty much the same. Twelve teens other than my own in my house and pool as I pull in this Tuesday night. I get it; it's their summer and, truth be told, the kids were great. Still, J...H...C! All I wanted to do was catch up with Ray Donovan and enjoy the puzzle, which picked the wrong night to drop at nearly 11P.

    It was with this mindset that I dug into it and found myself almost immediately becoming increasingly, ABJECTly...annnoyed.

    We ___ the 99%? Really? Why not just use "World?" ___ Heels (college team)? Really? Do we really need to be patronized with a "clarifier" for that three word partial dreck? But wait! Slim to ___ (poor odds)? Really? Really? Walk into a middle school auditorium on 6th Grade Concert night. Grab the mic and ask the assembled throng of kids, and parents, and grandparents, and great-grandparents to shout out the word that completes this phrase: Slim to ___. Every single person in that room is going to shout NONE! Except the blue haired ol' gal in the back with the ear horn muttering, "WHAT?" best B.B. King..::

    "I'm tide o' this $#!+! T-I-D-E, TIDE!!!"

    Know what else I'm tired of? STYEs. And EGGY. And BRINY. And STNS. And I DIG. And that biotch, JANE EYRE. Mostly, I'm tired of unimginative, unclever cluing. Here-let-me-just-give-you-the-answer-with-a-clue-that-pretty-much-is-its-definition. Agggggghhhhhh!!!

    The "big reveal" was utterly unnecessary to aid solve of its theme-related answers, all of which were clued such that they really couldn't be anything else. No challenge. No appreciative, tip o' the cap AHA moments. TEDIUM. KILL ME NOW.

    I need a vacation.

    Anonymous 1:15 AM  

    ". . . STNS (I don't remember seeing this abbreviation in real life). . . ."

    You don't get out much.

    The blog is getting pretty old. WTF are we supposed to do our own HTM for links.

    Anonymous 1:23 AM  

    To lowest pitch of abject fortune fortune thou art fallen.
    Samson Agonistes, Milton

    chefwen 1:32 AM  

    @August West - I agree, you need a vacation NOW!

    Like @Steve J - Thought the puzzle was way too easy for Wednesday, but I liked it anyway.

    As many cooking shows that I absorb, UMAMI was a gimme. Only write-over was because I filled in a correct answer in the wrong spot, so that doesn't count.

    Last letter in was the C in OCHS/MACH crossing, it was a wild ass guess, but it made sense with "supersonic" in the clue. Yea me!

    How about a lovely little rebus for tomorrow?

    Anonymous 1:44 AM  

    KILLMENOW is misclued. It isn't really "sarcasm" in the literal sense as it is not a cutting or biting remark. Nor is it "sarcasm" in the sense that the word is often used today--that is irony--as it isn't the opposite of the intended meaning. KILLMENOW is more like hyperbole. The speaker is wounded, but not to the literal extent the expression suggests.

    Anoa Bob 1:47 AM  

    The TW at 23D gave me TWIST OF LEMON right away. I knew tending bar during grad school would pay off some day. With REAL MONEY already in place, the theme popped out.

    Lots of quality stuff in this one. I especially liked the TEDIUM/KUWAIT/UMAMI get together.

    Nice to see one of the giants in science and philosophy, ERNST MACH, in the grid. In addition to pioneering work on supersonics, he made contributions to the field of sensation and perception, such as Mach Bands.

    Never like to see a POC in a theme entry. ZOOM LENS fills the bill for the theme, but is two letters shy for that slot. That's why it's called a plural of convenience.

    Steve J 2:23 AM  

    @Anoa Bob: The singular of convenience (XFILE) bugged me more than the plural of convience. ZOOMLENSES isn't an awkward construction or unusual use. Plurals are part of the language, so I don't see why they shouldn't be in crosswords. If they create something awkward or nonstandard, then that's a problem. But a common plural like this shouldn't be seen as a fault, in my opinion.

    jae 4:31 AM  
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    jae 4:36 AM  

    @Anon? - Actually I used to get out quite a bit.  I was Platinum on American for a few years back in the '90s.  I just never rode trains, so the STN/STA abbreviation was new to me when I started doing crosswords.  And I'm not sure a bunch of Wiki links represents the real world. 

    Anonymous 6:22 AM  

    August West: the examples you gave were
    not partials.


    loren muse smith 7:14 AM  


    Kind of a psychopop – I kept considering LEMONs the other day in a BEQ for “fruit cup items.” Then I realized it anagrams into “melons.” Hah! Versatile letters! Nice puzzle! Ever since Andrea announced that Douglas anagrams to USA Gold, I’ve decided they’re growing on me. (Bad choice of words on a day with CYST in the grid.)

    For “empty, as a math set” I put in “nill,” vaguely thinking, “I thought there was just one L in that. I corrected it when I started paying attention.

    Why is it never “csar” or “tzar?” Or is it?

    EGGY is, well, an ugly word. Of all the suffixes to choose from to make it an adjective, couldn’t we have done a little better there? Eggish? Eggesque?

    @Anoa Bob – in my first job I was a cocktail waitress. People always asked for a TWIST of lime with their gin and tonics. Only we ELITE understand that they wanted, actually, a wedge of lime. Sigh. Isn’t it so very lonely at the top?

    I had another dnf because I had no idea about the “friendship” NASA clue. I guessed Mich (first name) crossing “nisa,” thinking it was just another organization I had never heard of. So I’ll scoot down a few steps down from my imperious I Know That A Wedge Is Not A TWIST perch.

    TWIST OF LEMON anagrams to Leftmost Wino. “Would you tap the shoulder of that leftmost wino and ASK him if he’s fallen asleep in any STNS in PRAGUE or KUWAIT?” I’ll go over and stand next to @jae on the STNS discussion.

    @Tita - how fun that you collect Stangl, too!

    @Melodious Funk - I'm still considering your mirror question. It's a real poser!

    @Lewis and @M & A - Paula and I correspond more than I would like. :(

    This clip has nothing to do with the puzzle, but I saw it again yesterday, and it never fails to move me.


    Gotta go start packing some CHINA. We’re moving to our farm in three weeks. Yikes!

    STOLEN MOMENT crosses REAL MONEY and ZOOM LENSES. And TWIST OF LEMON crosses IN NAME ONLY and KILL ME NOW. That couldn’t have been too easy. Nice puzzle,Erik.

    dk 7:41 AM  

    Nice! Huh. When I am told: I had a nice (diminuendo) time it usually means anything but.

    This must be the week of cute, as this one is cute. No REAL complaints just very easy for Wednesday.

    For some summer fun: Find the small bottles of Coke with cane sugar, get a glass, add some ice. Into the glass squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lime, add 1.5 ounces of Mount Gay or some other dark rum and an equal amount of the aforementioned coke: Cuba Libre! Have Loren bring it to you on a little tray.

    @chefwen: lovely little rebus! KILLMENOW. 😱

    👍👍 (two thumbs up)

    @August West are you one of Rex's gentler personalities?

    Mitzie 7:58 AM  

    I cannot disagree with @Rex. I have some experience with this type of puzzle, and I think these theme answers are *awesome*.

    My only real issue was with some of the cluing, which seemed needlessly easy. I agree with @August's issue with the clarifiers in the fill-in-the-blanks.

    I did like the tired, classic clue at 14A being used for something other than 'acne.' Had me going.

    davidph 8:11 AM  

    C'mon. Baseball SQUAD? Football, yes. Basketball, maybe. Baseball, no.

    Milford 8:20 AM  

    I'll take a puzzle with fresh LEMONs any day. I enjoyed this, easy with just the sticky points in the mid-left side and the MACH area. I appreciated how the LEMONs were TWISTed in the phrases to span two words (and three with KILL ME NOW, a great phrase)

    Liked the extra food stuff, UMAMI, MENU, APRON, CHINA, even BRINY and EGGY, goofy as those words are.

    I've done the tourist-y thing of finding Mile Marker 0 for US ONE in Key West, kind of near Hemingway's house.

    Excellent ice cream place in New Buffalo, Michigan called OINKS. Just went this past weekend. @Z - the lake was much warmer and wavier (a word?) this time around. My beer of choice was the cute 7oz Little Kings.

    Lewis 8:31 AM  

    @lauren -- I hear you!

    I agree with many observersations made here already -- very, if not too, easy for a Wednesday; and a clever/cute theme. Clever and cute as the theme was, it didn't help my solve. Did it help anyone's?

    Grid gruel: SEIS, STNS, DES, ISLA, EGGY, STYE. Not too bad on that score.

    I like MACH crossing NASA, and NULL crossing INNAMEONLY. CYST crossing SCAR -- eww.

    Clues were Tuesday-ish.

    Good sparkly feel to the puzzle, and I enjoyed the solve. Thanks, Erik!

    Susan McConnell 8:35 AM  

    Fun. Theme answers practically filled themselves in. Clueing was more Monday than Wednesday but sometimes a gimme is a nice way to start the day.

    Hang in there, August'll make it!

    joho 8:39 AM  

    I was super impressed that Erik found six phrases using LEMON so elegantly.

    The reveal is simply perfect.

    All theme answers are fresh and in the language, the funniest being KILLMENOW. Made me think of "just
    shoot me," another funny phrase.

    Great interesting theme, smooth grid filled with sparkly words ... what more can you ask for?

    chefbea 8:47 AM  

    What's not to like?? Fun,easy and lots of food. Think I'll go put on my apron and make some pickles, a umami soufflé..served on my good china. Then have my favorite drink..scotch on the rocks with a twist of lemon.

    Go Tarheels!!!

    Tita 9:22 AM  

    Anagrams leave me underwhelmed - not my cuppa.

    No knock on the puzzle - just not for me.

    @lms - Thought for sure that you would comment on your "good Stangl dishes" at 26A CHINA.

    PRAGUE Beach on the banks of the Vlatava is an amazing, man-made beach, volleyball, restaurant, and club happening place.

    Agree that SCONCE is a great word.

    I DNFd, as I thought Casey's last name was KASEn.
    Had absolutely no idea what INNAnEOmLY could be!1 (I knew there had to be an "M" there, and TOmI was as likely a pseudo celeb name as TONI.

    Maybe the "V" is hidden - is the "W" in Wennstrom pronounced as a V?

    Nice job with the puzzle, and for getting OFL out of his funk.

    Craig 9:24 AM  

    Anonymous at 1:44, I would consider KILLMENOW properly clued and sarcastic -- in the sense that it’s biting. If someone delivers bad news, such a response would easily add some sharp teeth to the exchange.

    The word “sarcastic” has picked up the sense of being ironic, however, the definition of “irony” as being the “opposite of the intended meaning” is way too limited to be correct. The word irony contains the idea of a third person or more (either real or imagined) and therefore an ironic expression or episode is always a kind of mini-performance. KILLMENOW is a melodrama with a murder weapon. Any definition of “irony” that would also limit anything “ironic” to short expressions, would rule out all those great longer passages or scenes you run into on the page.

    Anyway, it was a terrific puzzle, and I agree with those who felt that Rex’s experience with it was eerily familiar, but when I do the puzzle it seems to be in slow motion no matter what.

    Z 9:28 AM  

    @August - Whatever else you do, make sure you "forget" your cell phone.

    @Steve J - just for you, Hot Knife by Fiona Apple (have I mentioned that I love this video?)

    STNS/STaS is a wait for the cross situation. I can't recall ever noticing either in the real world.

    @LMS - EGGvocative gets two V's into the puzzle... Except for the whole "it's too long and not a word" thing.

    @Milford - Little Kings are fun. I imagine @Augest West downing the entire 8-pack upon finding a dozen teens in his pool.

    Bob Kerfuffle 9:29 AM  

    Continuing our theme from yesterday, we begin with 4D, a STOLEN MOMENT . . . Or maybe not.

    Good puzzle anyway.

    How many Rexites should we expect to see at Lollapuzzoola 6? I'm planning to be there.

    joho 9:42 AM  

    @loren muse smith ... thanks for the uplifting clip! The joy on the faces in the crowd, especially the kids, is priceless.

    Carola 9:46 AM  

    Lovely puzzle, though I agree, QUITE easy for Wednesday. Loved STOLEN MOMENT, ABJECT, SCONCE, KILL ME NOW....also PLANE + MACH, ALTO + SINGER.

    @Anoa Bob - Thanks for the Mach Bands - was never aware of them!

    [captcha = tericatu....sounds like it might have UMAMI]

    Newbie 9:55 AM  

    @ACME: I too put in Twizzle Sticks, and knew it sounded wrong but couldn't figure out why. Quickly saw the zz's weren't working, but funny how the letters just seemed to fit!

    John V 10:05 AM  

    More medium than not for me. KASEM/INNAMEONLY cross last to fall. Crossing anagrams is way cool. Good puz,Erik. Neat theme.

    Ray J 11:09 AM  

    A nice folksy twist with SINGERs ARLO and OCHS. Glad that Erik didn’t xref these clues.

    I think I first heard UMAMI from that cooking guy, ALTOn Brown. You know, the man who knows more about food than you do. Is it over-the-top to fill your crisper drawers with sand for storing root vegetables? Yes, it is.

    Fun Puzzle. Thanks, Erik.

    @Melodius Funk – from yesterday – upon further review the Subaru has the message on the passenger side mirror. Guess I don’t look there often enough. Sorry though, no answer for you.

    Melodious Funk 11:41 AM  

    Mirror redux.

    All cute comments. Thanks.

    For LMS, the quotidian thought is that some doofus engineer at GM came up with the locution which became embedded in numerically controlled machinery. Outsourcing to a factory somewhere that has an order for 10,000 mirrors did the trick. Game over. Convexed perplexed.

    @Craig. Irony is often confused with coincidence. "Isn't it ironic that we meet here at the zoo?" Actually, Irony is a feature when my shirts are pressed.

    Joe The Juggler 11:42 AM  

    After EGGY and BRINY, I wanted the raccoon tail answer to be RINGY.

    I thought this theme was sort of pointless.

    Too easy for a Wednesday, I think.

    OISK 12:04 PM  

    When I DNF it is almost always due to pop culture ignorance. Never heard of Toni Basil (and have no idea what a "Mickey" vocalist is...there is a song called "Mickey"?) Still, got Toni from the across clues. Also never heard of Casey Kasem (or is it Kasem Carey?) and almost had a natick, but have done enough crosswords to vaguely remember "umami", so I did finish. My annoyance at the completely obscure (to me) pop culture, (include Raimi in that) vanished when I got to the Draft Dodger Rag clue. Phil Ochs!! "Sarge I'm only eighteen, I gotta ruptured spleen, and I always carry a purse.." Great cover of that song by the Chad Mitchell Trio.

    All in all, a very enjoyable Wednesday puzzle, thanks.

    Questinia 12:06 PM  

    TWIST OF LEMON... kicky theme.

    Would " peri-ocular sebaceous gland infection" be preferable to the tired "eyelid woe" for STYE? Would have bookended CYST nicely.

    I'm doing all the Saturday puzzles from the archive so most anything else feels like a Tuesday. Some of the Saturday's from the late nineties are tough! Especially the unexpected rebus...

    M and A, Twisted 12:17 PM  

    Six twists of U equal many stolen V moments, in my book.

    So, what R U sayin here, 4-Oh? That this was a silky smooth, thUmbsUp WedPuz [agreed] but if it had dared to pull a V out of the holster, it woulda been stand yer ground and blast away time, instead of give Erik a handshake and key to CrossWorld city time? har. Weird. I can dig it. I like weird. Probbly why I pull up a seat here so often.

    Hey! My fave Max Ernst painting! Angle in the Foyer, or somesuch. Never quite got the title. Anyhoo, classy blog touch. Almost as commendable as the rare days anymore when U have the bullet list.

    Only 8 3-letter words. Really keeps the weejects in check. fave fill = NEWDAD. Rhymes with doodad. fave wongject (4-letter long weeject, when there ain't any smaller fish to fry) = STNS. Talk about yer stolen vowel moment.

    @muse lady: Keep tryin, darlin. Maybe Paula sends out the acceptance msgs, too. Howbout tryin a rhymin themed puz? Every puz entry rhymes with its symmetrically positioned companion, or somesuch. Shouldn't be too hard to pull off, if U stay away from the likes of STNS. But we digress.

    gifcan 12:27 PM  

    Technically a DNF, had a couple of errors but, hey, all the squares were filled in.

    @August West had some good observations, a bit cranky in the presentation, though.

    Enjoyed the flash mob, muse.

    the redanman 12:39 PM  

    meh, SW or SF to LA was sloppy .. plus any station abbr. is crap

    still don't get "IOTA", didn't see it in comments. Will never gets anatomy correct anyway...


    Evan 12:46 PM  

    @Loren, @M&A, @Lewis, et al:

    Paula sends out the acceptance messages too -- many more rejections than acceptances, yes, but I've got the e-mails to prove it! In fact, I've never gotten a NYT puzzle response from anyone except Paula....I know, it'd probably be awesome if Will Shortz called you personally when he accepts a puzzle, but he ain't got time for that, I'm sure.


    I accept SQUAD as a good clue for baseball team if only for that classic Simpsons scene where Apu says "The Nye Mets are my favorite squadron."

    jae 12:56 PM  

    @the redanman -- Ilium is also an ancient Greek city hence the I is the Greek letter IOTA

    Tita 1:06 PM  

    @lms - I first saw that flashmob on a banking industry blog that I follow...
    It is actually a publicity stunt by the bank that you probably barely notice in the background on some of the shots.

    It is the only such one that I applaud and really is magical, and it is so much the opposite of "in your face".

    Thanks for the chance to play it again. I love how the kids are so enraptured!

    M and A also 1:10 PM  

    @Evan: yep. Paula evidently handles everything exceptin the "restraining order"s. Was interestin to learn that there was a "restraint" on the number of E's one can put into a puz grid, tho. Another peek under the hood of the Grey Lady's nuts and bolts operations, I reckon.


    quilter1 1:45 PM  

    My spouse had minor surgery this morning so I just finished the puzzle. Good afternoon, Miss Eyre, nice to see you again. Yes, a very good and easy puzzle, a pleasure to do. Thanks, Erik.

    Bird 1:46 PM  

    IMO, awkward cluing and crosses made this a slog. And many write-overs made it a mess. I did like the OCHS/MACH crossing (for some reason it reminds me of a hilarious book my father has, “Mox Nix, Cartoons About Your Tour In Europe”, Niles, 1952.

    ACNE before CYST
    T*CK (waiting on cross for I or O) before TOLL before PEAL
    FATHER before (immediately correcting to) NEW DAD
    PRES before TZAR
    TUBE (better answer) before HOLE

    I always think of the archenemy of James Bond when I hear “ERNST”.

    @quilter1 - Best wishes to your better half.

    ahimsa-NYT 1:52 PM  

    This puzzle was a good one, with SEIS theme answers (well, 5 plus the revealer at 23 Down) that werew QUITE nice. Good thinkg I know un poco español or that SEIS/ISLA cross would have been harder. :-)

    My one writeover was REALgains/game before I figured out REALMONEY/MEAL. After I fixed that the rest was pretty easy.

    TWIST OF LEMON came quickly and that helped me see the theme. I had no, "What was the theme?" reaction. Maybe those who felt that way just don't like anagram puzzles?

    Regarding plurals, I agree with others that normal plurals are just fine. There's nothing wrong with ZOOM LENSES. Most professional photographers, and even some amateurs, might own several of these. Or think of it as a category in a photo supply catalog or a website.

    Kudos to Erik Wennstrom!

    Anonymous 2:01 PM  

    Dying to know where you would put the V. Anyone?

    Melodious Funk 2:12 PM  

    Anon 2:01

    62A replace ask with AVE. 58A becomes URL. 49D becomes OILER.65A becomes DER. The clueing I would leave to you


    Soapbox Doodoo 2:16 PM  

    @Firebreathin Juggler dude: I for one would welcome slightly more challenging WedPuzs. Every other day seems about right...

    Moo-onday: Easy words. MOO-cow easy clues. Themes so obvious that a revealer would be insulting.

    Tuesday: Easy words and up to two hard words. Easy clues, but not quite as remedial. People names even M&A can remember. Themes often use the revealer or the circles.

    Thursday: Psychotic themes. Turn loose the ? clues. Allow all the hard words fit to print, as long as they don't cross. People names other than ARLO are now allowed.

    Friday: reserved for Patrick Berry. Hardly ever a theme.

    Saturday: Hard. Asking "how hard?" would be like evaluatin different sidewalks by jumpin headfirst off adjaceant roofs. U's are rare.

    Sunday: other.

    Ok. So... Notice the vast gaping chasm between yer TuesPuz and ThursPuz. This does not sing "WedPuz = TuesPuz with a twist of lemon", to m&e.

    WedPuzs should have some teeth. The clues, in particular, should not be simply tryin to gum us to death. That's where I'd goose these Wednesday puppies up, more. Make the Across clues hard; keep the Downs easier. Or some similar arrangement. Bring out that ? a little. We can take it.

    Yer thoughts?


    LaneB 2:17 PM  

    Reasonably fast finish and an enjoyable use of the twisted LEMONS. Also liked looking at the other anagrams, like DELMONICOS which employed the key letters. Another came immediately to mind, particularly since this puzzle had something of a foreign flavor to it, e.g.SEIS, DES, ISLA, MESA, UMAMI. In Boito's opera Mefistofele the bass aria is sung by the Devil himself whilst holding a sphere [the earth] in his powerful hands. He sings "This is the world!", in Italian ECCO IL MONDO. It ain't no lemon, either.

    Anonymous 2:52 PM  

    @chefwen, Susan McConnell, Z, gifcan: Admittedly cranky last night; feeling less overwhelmed today. I see light at the end of my work week tunnel/pre-vaca obligations, and will definitely "forget" the cell while down in OBX next week. Thanks for the "Hang in theres" and other exhortations or well wishes.

    @dk 7:41: lol! Funny, I knew I was going to blast this thing before @Rex put up his review, and I was QUITE certain he was gonna smash it for Not Wednesday Worthy Simplicity, too. My initial reaction? Christ, I'm worse than Rex! Heh!

    My online persona spawns of hard smack NFL trash talk boards where PC Thinskins don't survive. I love dark, sardonic humor, where no subject matter is off limits; no insult goes "too far." Where I hang, the best-loved and most popular contributors are the most unrelentingly brutal. It's like The Aristocrats or a Friar's Roast, "at 11." I try not to be an a$$hole in real life. I only play one on message boards. Going forward, I will try to remain mindful that this is a "kinder, gentler" place.

    @Anon/MAS 6:22: You're right, I'm stupid. Shaddup!

    Anonymous 2:53 PM  

    August West above. Work 'puter wouldn't open the "Name" bar

    Anonymous 3:06 PM  

    Nice one Melodious! The cluing wouldn't be a problem. Maybe the constructor didn't want to have consecutive abbreviations at 58 and 62-across, although you could always clue AVE as "Roman salutation" which I've seen before.

    ahimsa-NYT 3:41 PM  

    @LaneB, you got me thinking about lemon anagrams. How about LENO MONOLOGUE? (how The Tonight Show usually starts) Of course, I'm not sure if that counts as in the language. :-)

    @Melodius, very nice V addition.

    Outlaw MandA 3:45 PM  

    @Melodius: Nice. Could even go with AVE, URL, BED. Kevin Der could then escape detection.

    mac 3:50 PM  

    Beautiful puzzle that would have benefitted from some tougher clues. Great theme, though!

    I started with "airy" for soufflé, but that was easily fixed. Had the hardest time with the zoom/hole/czar area, that was the last to fall.

    So sorry not to be back in time for Lollapuzzoola......

    sanfranman59 4:06 PM  

    Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

    Wed 8:57, 9:43, 0.92, 32%, Easy-Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Wed 5:24, 5:35, 0.97, 42%, Medium

    joho 4:15 PM  

    @LaneB, "Twisted LEMONS" sounds like a really bad garage band.

    @Rex, I don't see how SQUAB, CURVE, OILED, URN, AVE, BED screws up the puzzle to get the "V." Yes, AVE is an abbr. but BED is better than DES.

    Anonymous 5:06 PM  

    "Shoot me now" is way more common than "kill me now." Theme is of the more common ilk resulting in an "is there more to it?" response.

    Anonymous 5:10 PM  

    @Rex - "Pangrams are, still, for suckers."

    That is your opinion.

    I like the fix @joho listed.

    retired_chemist 5:45 PM  

    UMAMI sounds like a real dis.

    Fun theme, decent fill.

    Get your pangram by adding ", to Bela Lugosi" to the clues for 24A and 23D,then use a V at the cross.

    Thanks, Mr.Vennstrom.

    joho 5:49 PM  

    @Anon. 5:10, just to be clear, I was repeating the fix that @Melodious Funk and @M and A came up with. Not my fix ... but a really good one!

    jberg 6:05 PM  

    Well, I'm on my 4th day of vacation now, so I liked it fine-- easy enough, but fun. And I've seen STN a lot more than STA.

    I was collecting Stangl "Bittersweet" until I felt like I had enough - may have to go back to it. As our late cat broke the lid of the butter dish.

    August West 7:54 PM  

    @chefwen, Susan McConnell, Z, gifcan: Admittedly cranky last night; feeling less overwhelmed today. I see light at the end of my work week tunnel/pre-vaca obligations, and will definitely "forget" the cell while down in OBX next week. Thanks for the "Hang in theres" and other exhortations or well wishes.

    @dk 7:41: lol! Funny, I knew I was going to blast this thing before @Rex put up his review, and I was QUITE certain he was gonna smash it for Not Wednesday Worthy Simplicity, too. My initial reaction? Oh, man, I'm more of a curmudgeon than Rex! My online persona spawns of hard smack NFL trash talk boards where PC Thinskins don't survive. I love dark, sardonic humor, where no subject matter is off limits; no insult goes "too far." Where I hang, the best-loved and most popular contributors are the most unrelentingly brutal. It's like The Aristocrats meets a Friar's Roast, "at 11." I'm not an a$$hole in real life. I only play one on message boards. Going forward, I will try to remember that this is a "kinder, gentler" place.

    @Anon/MAS 6:22: You're right, I'm stupid. Shaddup!

    Sfingi 8:50 PM  

    Used the theme to solve, and solved no Googling, so I liked it.

    Liked OSHA crossing NASA, and I tend to hate initials.

    Loved Phil OCHS back in the day, and never heard of TONI Basil.

    @JBerg how do you know when to stop, if you're OCD? I stopped at 8,000 books and have given away 1/4. And most of my tins.

    But, per @Bird, my opinion "machts nichts."

    TINY BUSCUS 9:21 PM  

    I liked it a lot, although I had some issues along the west coast. LONGLENSES looked pretty good to me, along with BASS clef. (I thought the choices were only bass and treble, and treble was too long). But that gave me the untenable CLBR situation and I could see that things were very wrong. It was really STOLENMOMENT that broke the log jam.

    Looked at another way, KILLMENOW could be a sarcastic reaction to GOOD news. Like, this is so awesome I don't need to experience anything else in life and I'd like to die in this perfect moment so kill me now. See what I mean?

    Erik 1:09 AM  

    Hi everyone! This is Erik, the author of this crossword. Thanks for all the kind words and (usually) gentle criticisms. This is only NYT crossword #3 for me, so I still read all the blogs I can find, but I like this one the most.

    The lack of a V was not a conscious decision to thumb my nose at pangrams. I like pangrams! I always have a twinge of sadness when I get to that point in filling a grid where I have to give up on it being a pangram. I honestly can't remember if this was a case where I just couldn't find a way to work in a V, or if I had a pangram and then changed something at the last minute without realizing that I was destroying the pangram. Kudos to those of you who were able to solve the problem better than I did.

    joho: Actually, finding natural phrases with the LEMON letters in them was the easy part. The letters are so common (except for the M) that I had lots to choose from. I'd never have been able to get them all intersecting without having so many to work with. As a look behind the scenes, here's a short list of some of the twisted lemons that didn't make it into the final puzzle: BELMONT STAKES, DEL MONTE, SQUIRREL MONKEY, SOLEMN OATH, LENO MONOLOGUE, DON'T FAIL ME NOW, FOOL ME ONCE, SALMONELLA, SALMON EGGS, WATERMELON (MUSKMELON, BLIND MELON, ETC.), MENLO PARK, PHENOMENOLOGY, I'M LONELY, SMOLENSK, HORMONE LEVEL, SIMON LEGREE, UNMELODIOUS, TURN ME LOOSE, UNMOLESTED, PATROLMEN, ENROLMENT, LINCOLN MERCURY, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. It was nice to get the chance to find ones that fit together well and that felt relatively fresh.

    Re: Plurals of Convenience
    I try not to use them when I don't have to. They aren't as elegant, but they're pretty far down on my list of inelegant things to avoid (well beyond crosswordese, foreign words that don't appear in the US yet, uncommon abbreviations, obscure proper names, partial phrases, etc.) And as you can see, many of those made their way into this crossword too. So I'm okay with ZOOM LENSES. (But I was a little disappointed that I couldn't get around X-FILE in a way that satisfied me.)

    Re: Clues
    One of these days I'll come up with a theme difficult enough for a Thursday puzzle, and Shortz won't have to rewrite most of my too-clever-by-half clues. (e.g., "One way to turn?" for LOOSE or "Sounds like Babe?" for OINKS or "Beginning of Homer's Iliad?" for IOTA)

    the redanman:
    In this case, "Ilium" refers not to the bone, but to the Greek name for the city Troy, which would technically be spelled "Ιλιον" in Greek, starting with the letter Iota.

    jae 4:00 AM  

    @Erik -- Liked your puzzle, but I have the feeling that you missed my post on Ilium?

    Erik 8:05 PM  

    jae: Indeed, I think I did miss your comment. Or maybe I just wanted to type in some Greek letters so I subconsciously ignored it. We'll never know.

    spacecraft 11:04 AM  

    I agree with @davidph: there are military SQUADs, basketball, football, police, and M-SQUADs. Baseball? Nah. Forget Apu.

    That was one of a few clues that just seemed off, to me. Take 26d. Now I know without a doubt that it has to be CZAR; ZOOMLENSES is locked in. But "Executive branch VIP?" I guess it's legit enough; I recall the phrase "newly appointed drug CZAR." Still, the clue Hate to keep using that nebulous word, but there it is.

    Another was ABJECT. Though it does mean the lowest level of something, it does NOT necessarily mean "hopeless." The clue is...well, you know.

    And then we come to 53a. This expression must be a local phenomenon; I've never heard KILLMENOW, and it strikes me as a stupid thing to say, sarcastic jest or no. I can't even imagine an occasion when it would be appropriate.

    Yes, I filled all of these in handily; the puz was easy enough--maybe as some have said, TOO easy for Wedensday. But I just didn't get a good feel for it. Five very common letters rearranged? Uh, someone wake me when it's over, please. "TWISTOF:" minimally clever, I suppose; enough to raise a pinky halfway. Alas, the thumb has not moved. It's still down.

    rain forest 1:07 PM  

    I too balked at ABJECT for 'hopeless', but checking two on-line dictionaries, the first entry in both is "utterly hopeless", the exact clue in this puzzle. I guess it was easier than most Wednesdays, but so what? I had fun doing it, and I liked it.

    Briefly thought that 'nine, in baseball' was going to be RTFLD. As M&A saya: har.

    Ginger 1:26 PM  

    The SW corner did me in, guess I should have had another cuppa, but could not see the Q. And it's Wed, and now I see it's rated easy.

    The rest of the puzzle was fine. My raccoon had a baNdED tail until APRON fixed that. Like STOLENMOMENT, didn't know how to spell RAIMI, until I had the crosses.

    Happy Hump Day Syndilanders

    Waxy in Montreal 5:15 PM  

    Sometimes you're just not on the same wavelength as the constructor. My baseball SQUAD is comprised of many more than nine - that's simply the number of players in the lineup at a given time. Familiar with treble and bass clefs, not so much ALTO. SCONCE? RAIMI? UMAMI? KILLMENOW? TONI who?

    @Ginger, not a happy hump day (crosswordwise) for this syndilander. ATSEA the whole way. Bring on Thursday.

    Anonymous 5:25 PM  

    36-Down: Empty, as a math set is exactlky that - there is nothing there. Null, nil, zero are references to an integer between -1and +1.

    Dirigonzo 6:19 PM  

    Before I discovered bourbon my go-to hard drink was vodka with a twist of lemon (which is not, as someone suggested, the same as a wedge), so I liked it. Only write-overs were chew out before REAM out and, yes, STaS before STNS - but I have seen both versions in the puzzle before. I did not know that MACH is an eponym, so good to learn that factoid.

    strayling 7:21 PM  

    I disliked this puzzle right up until I realised it had tricked me into thinking this was Monday.

    Ginger 8:40 PM  

    @Waxy the alto clef is between the treble and bass clefs. As far as I know, the viola (violin on steroids) is the only instrument that uses it. It's 4 notes lower than the treble.

    Speaking of steroids, I think the captcha guy must be using something. How can you type a letter, if you're unable to tell what the heck it is?

    Waxy in Montreal 9:09 PM  

    Thanks @Ginger.

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