Robert of Quincy ME / THU 10-3-13 / 1986 top 10 hit for Billy Idol / Belgian battleground during WW I / One with ergophobia / Yokel in slang / USS Enterprise chief engineer Geordi / Fictional substance in Disney film / Classic rock song in Easy Rider / Like myth of Ragnarok / Locale for Village People hit informally / Ohio city WSW of Columbus

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Constructor: Evan Birnholz

Relative difficulty: Challenging


THEME: BB or not BB — 8 squares contain "TO BE" going Across and [two Bs] (i.e. BB) going Down

Theme answers:
  • SUCKS TO BE YOU / HOBBIT
  • "TO BE A LOVER" (21A: 1986 top 10 hit for Billy Idol) / FLUBBER (8D: Fictional substance in a Disney film)
  • SEEMS TO BE / ABBOTT
  • "TO BE OR NOT TO BE" / ABBÉ + EBBS
  • BRIDE-TO-BE / ROBBERS
  • "TO BE HONEST..." / BB GUN
  • "BORN TO BE WILD" / PIBB

Word of the Day: TWEE (12D: Overly precious) —
adj. Chiefly British
Overly precious or nice.

[Alteration of tweet, baby-talk alteration of SWEET.]


Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/twee#ixzz2gces30pF
• • •

Very nice work. The cluing is too clever / cruel by half in parts, and there is perhaps an over-reliance on names / proper nouns, some that are going to be absolutely baffling to a good portion of the solving audience. Still, this is good. In its modernity and its playfulness and its slanginess, it plays much more like an A/V Club puzzle than a typical NYT. Both the A/V (American Values) Club and Fireball Crosswords produce better puzzles on a regular basis than the NYT does—a fact of modern puzzling that not enough people are aware of. This puzzle feels like a valiant attempt on the NYT's part to be less of a dinosaur, so hurray for that. I caught on to the gimmick reasonably quickly—figured something w/ Bs was involved at the SUCKS answer and confirmed it with the Billy Idol song (one of those potentially baffling proper nouns I was talking about). Still, this was clued so tough that the puzzle ended up playing hard anyway.


I have no idea who wrote "The Tao of Pooh." I know one HOFF. His name is Syd and he is awesome. This Pooh HOFF can get lost. Robert ITO??? Really? (41A: Robert of "Quincy, M.E."). Wow. Most obscure ITO I've ever come across. [That's the point] is brutal for DOT. [Part of a pickup line?] likewise brutal for TAXI (esp. since CAN I or MAY I seemed to fit so well). [Shiner], hard clue for STAR. I haven't heard anyone called a GOMER in forever (61A: Yokel, in slang)—got that one entirely from crosses (luckily, that corner was the easiest one). And about LAFORGE—a total gimme for a certain class of solver, and a completely baffling WTF for everyone else. Crossing LAFORGE with "TO BE A LOVER" is essentially a giant "*&%# you" to people who are a. over 50 b. not Trekkies c. not immersed in pop culture or d. some combination of the above. My daughter is currently all up in "TNG," so LAFORGE was a gimme for me.


MAN is not a "what," so [What fell in the Fall] really irked me. But mostly my frustration was based on  the puzzle's toughness, not its annoyingness. The "BB" thing is very well handled. I feel like I *just* saw a gimmick puzzle with a "To Be or Not To Be" revealer/central answer, but I can't dredge it up. Oh well. No matter. This is solid and original and clean work. Well, mostly clean. OHOS, Evan? Plural? Et tu?
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    118 comments:

    jae 12:07 AM  

    Medium-tough for me.  Figured out the rebus almost immediately, but had the same experience as Rex with the  tough cluing and trying to figure out where 2B went.

    Only one erasure, but that was because I misread the clue.  

    One WOE: @Rex LAFORGE 

    Possible tough cross: 8d/21a/10d

    Thank you crosswords for YPRES,  ORYX, and GAEA

    The problem here Evan is that if I go on and on about what a terrific puzzle this is it'll seem like I'm just kissing up.  But, fact is this was amazing!  More zip than I've seen in very long time and very funny.  Kudos, the only down side  is how to top it.  

    PK 12:18 AM  

    Challenging, yes, but worth the struggle - mos def! Almost got it at "sucks bb you" but couldn't quite wrap my mind around it. But then "flubber" managed to make the light bulb shine. Loved it. Great Thursday puzzle!

    PK 12:21 AM  

    @jae Learned Ypres from Oh What A Lovely War, but it has certainly come in handy for solving!

    Elaine2 12:23 AM  

    I had fun with this, although it was VERY hard at first, until I got the rebus. "Flubber" did it for me, too (until then, I kept wanting to type "tobe" in the rebus squares....and I really didn't expect "sucks to be you" to be in the NYT...

    Ok for me despite my being WAY over 50...but I've been a Trekkie for 45 years...

    Happy Thursday!

    John Child 12:26 AM  

    WOEs: GAEA (doesn't that need a Var.?), CHET Walker, Robert ITO, and ESTÉE all in the same area. Never ate a SNO Ball or drank a Mr PIBB.

    SCREW IT and SUCKS BB YOU under ORAL? My, my, my...

    Very fun.

    Clark 12:27 AM  

    The Tao of Pooh was a good light read. Man(kind) [the general not the particular] fell in the fall. That makes it a what.

    This was a really tough Thursday. Not knowing how to spell GAEA, not having any idea about either ITO or CHET got me a DNF. But the whole thing was offbeat enough to make it a fun ride.



    Z 12:34 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    The Bard 12:36 AM  

    Hamlet Act III scene 1

    HAMLET: To be, or not to be -- that is the question:
    Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
    And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--
    No more--and by a sleep to say we end
    The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep--
    To sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub,
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
    Must give us pause. There's the respect
    That makes calamity of so long life.
    For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
    Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
    The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
    The insolence of office and the spurns
    That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
    When he himself might his quietus make
    With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
    To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
    But that the dread of something after death,
    The undiscovered country from whose bourn
    No traveller returns, puzzles the will
    And makes us rather bear those ills we have
    Than fly to others that we know not of?
    Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
    And thus the native hue of resolution
    Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
    And enterprises of great pitch and moment
    With this regard their currents turn awry
    And lose the name of action.--Soft you now,
    The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
    Be all my sins remembered.

    Z 12:41 AM  

    I don't normally time Thursdays, so I don't know how tough it was, but I was surprised by the challenging rating

    I'm over 50, but I am a bit of a Trekkie, so not knowing Billy Idol's oeuvre beyond White Wedding was not a problem. Only real issues were GAiA and dISH, but those were mild hang-ups. Oh, with the FF in place I tried jeFF at first. Grokking the theme gave me HOBBIT, so I fixed that pretty quickly.

    Great puzzle, Evan.

    (damn spell check)

    Anonymous 12:45 AM  

    My time skewed high today, but it's a great crossword.

    GOMER / GAEA / TWEE and the MAN / XENIA cross were the tough ones for me.

    OVID *** OMAR --- What's the dif right?

    Would like to have seen 5A clued to 'The HOFF'. Cluing it "The _____" would have been hysterical. More of a Jonesin' or BEQ clue, though.

    Sent Evan my grid:

    nyt-13-10-03-opt.jpg>

    Any handwriting experts want to render an opinion? Ha!

    ESP 1:00 AM  

    Great stuff here. The rare sweet spot: challenging but goes down smooth, and lively, in-your-face fill to boot. Buncha stuff I had never heard of was gettable through crosses.

    Couldn't see HOBBIT for whatever reason and had raBBIT there for the longest time. Also had OnYX because I don't know what an ORYX is. These two mistakes gave me an interesting answer for 15A: Kind of tradition, but eventually figured that would have been one bawdy step too far.

    My favorite answer here, somewhat improbably, is DRYNESS. That SW corner was the last to go, and once I had DRYNESS, lights out.

    Amish Chessset Michaels 1:01 AM  

    Got off on the wrong foot with Hoop/HULA skirt

    and have never heard of HOFF, LAFORGE, ISSA Darrell, Mr PIBB, CHET walker,and that ITO.

    That's a lot of did-not-knows, which made this crazy challenging for me.

    BUT cottoned to the BB right away and was very very very impressed by the construction!!!!

    SUCKS BB YOU, SCREW IT, HOMO!!!
    Wow, Evan...push push push that envelope!

    And there was a nice echo to the theme with the Three-S CheSSSet and the double D DDay.

    AMISH was tough for me, despite having stayed up till 4 am the other night watching "Amish in LA" reality series back to back while others were bing(e)ing on that meth show (Breaking Bad...BB!)

    Anyway, you really put your money where your mouth is and made a great puzzle and I predict you will be much gentler on the OHOS of others' future works!

    Maybe they'll resurrect the ORYX award for best debut!
    :)

    mathguy 1:11 AM  

    Figured out the gimmick when I got SUCKSBBYOU. Whenever I got stalled, I started looking for phrases containing "to be." With that help, it became solveable. There were only five gimmes and there were five words I didn't know. Therefore hard for me. Highlight of the puzzle was learning the word "ergophobia." I could be the poster boy.

    Questinia 1:12 AM  

    Being a co-Libra (10/1) I appreciate the SCALE.
    Ergophobe was great for SLOTH. It's a word to be used. TWEE is a fav. Never saw a Mr PIBB

    Thought at first SUCKS Being YOU but soon realized the more elegant BB.

    BRIDE BB made me think Evan is a rapscallion of a certain magnitude and having it mixed in with the wan OPEN AREA, tricky TAXI, damn-it-isn't-Akron XENIA, shiner-STAR neighborhood made me think I WNF. I appreciated the momentary jolt of near-failure. Medium-Challenging is about right....

    Incidentally, GOMER in HOSP lingo is an acronym for Get Out Of My Emergency Room.

    Groovy puzzle!

    Anonymous 1:58 AM  

    I a amazed that Rex approves any puzzle that contains OHOS, OHS, and UHUH, mostly because I disapprove of it. Besides that I found it tone not bad, but a little challenging with all the proper nouns I didn't know. ( and agree that GAEA needs a var)

    chefwen 2:23 AM  

    I also caught on right away with FLUBBER, but this was no walk in the park, it took two of us to bring her down and we did. Happy to see the difficulty rating.

    Trying to break "renter boy" from starting every sentence with BB HONEST (what, you've been lying to me all along?) and basically. Kinda/sorta beginning to work. We did get rid of awesome in every other sentence.

    I am embarrassed as to how long it took me to get 1A HULA. Tried mini, maxi, midi, like Andrea hoop, then the light bulb was illuminated and I had my big DOH moment. Color me red!

    Great puzzle Evan, I loved it.

    Mike 2:46 AM  

    Tough puzzle, because my instinct as to where the clue was going was wrong so often. I started suspecting something funny at BORN_WILD but it took a while to figure out how the downs worked.

    Evan 3:02 AM  

    Wow. Seeing your own name in the NYT byline is a trip. And getting a thumbs-up from Rex on your first puzzle? Finer than the finest dry wine (though I'm a sweet wine guy, myself).

    Thanks for everyone's nice comments so far. I've got a lot I want to say, so I'm gonna break it down for you in four separate comments:

    First, I'm repeating my invitation from yesterday to send me any pictures of your completed grid, or pictures of you solving the puzzle, or pictures of drawings that you've drawn on the grid (I love those), or whatever. It's for my scrapbook. Send it to ebirnholz AT gmail DOT com.

    Next, in addition to what's written here and Amy's blog, I invite everyone to read a couple of things by and about your humble constructor regarding today's puzzle:

    * The notes from Wordplay, where I say a little bit about my background, how I got into the puzzling world, and how I approached creating this grid.

    * The notes from Xwordinfo, which has some of the same information as Wordplay but also a funny crossword-related anecdote regarding my mother and my mother's mother. Jeff's comments are really good, as always.

    * An interview with me from Temple Today, the school news of Temple University. I talk about how I got into creating crosswords, how I go about constructing one, and how Rex Parker himself originally gave me the lead on how to submit puzzles to the Times. It's also got my most artistic selfie phone pic ever, partially featuring a shot of a recent puzzle by Brendan Emmett Quigley.

    Evan 3:02 AM  

    Second, as others have alluded to, one thing I want to get across in this puzzle (ha) and my upcoming ones is a certain edge. Whether that be from using some PG-13 phrases that you might not always see written in the Times pages (SUCKS TO BE YOU, SCREW IT, etc.), or by using contemporary references and wordplay in the clues, I think it's good to push the envelope.

    On the difficulty: I knew this puzzle would be tricky, but I wasn't sure exactly how tricky. Here's some neat information for comparing the original submission vs. the final draft, as best I could tell:

    * Will did not change any of the letters. Those are all mine.
    * He left 32 of my clues (41% of all clues) basically intact.
    * He made minor revisions to 13 clues (16.7%), meaning he kept the intended meaning of the clue as well as most of the same words but changed their order or added/deleted others.
    * He made major revisions to the remaining 33 clues (42.3%), meaning he changed most or all of the words and basically went for a completely different angle on the clue.

    Did the NYT ramp up the difficulty from what I originally submitted? That's tough for me to say. What I can say is that none of the clues for GOMER, STAR, or ITO were mine (I originally submitted clues referring to Gomer Pyle and Lance Ito, for instance). The clue for DOT, however, was mine.

    Evan 3:02 AM  

    Continuing from the last comment, here are my five favorite original clues which they changed:

    * SLOTH = Deformed Fratelli brother in "The Goonies"
    * XENIA = ___ Onatopp, femme fatale in "GoldenEye"
    * SEANCES = Dead ringers' settings?
    which is right next to….
    * TOMBS = Dead settings
    * AMISH = People unlikely to solve this puzzle online

    I knew it was highly unlikely that they'd take my clues for SLOTH and XENIA – those probably would have been pretty dickish for people who aren't familiar with either movie – but I went for them anyway because I have many fond childhood memories watching "The Goonies" and playing "GoldenEye" for the N64. The clues for SEANCES and TOMBS might have been fine by themselves, though they have the word "settings" when CHESS SET is already in the grid. And, well, I still think my original clue for AMISH was great. I just do.

    My five favorite original clues which they did not change (or didn't change much) are for the following answers:

    * SUCKS TO BE YOU
    * PHOENIX
    * BRIDE-TO-BE
    * ARIA
    * ESTEE

    My five favorite revised clues from the NYT are for the following:

    * MAN – sorry, Rex, I dig this one.
    * SEANCES
    * ROBBERS – my clue was [Those who take the money and run]. Theirs is better, though probably way tougher.
    * OMAR
    * BRIT

    And the revised clue that completely stymied even me when I saw it for the first time? That would be for THE Y, since I submitted a clue for the pronoun THEY and couldn't parse it any other way.

    My least favorite answers:

    * OHOS – yup. You caught me, Rex. Sorry about that.
    * HOSP. – Sorry about that too. I wonder if I should have tried to dump both of these by getting rid of PHOENIX. Oh well. SCREW IT!

    Evan 3:02 AM  

    Finally, at the risk of turning this comment section into a cheesy Oscar acceptance speech, I want to take a minute to thank Michael and all of the commenters who've made the blog as excellent as it is. Whatever disagreements people may have with Michael's daily commentary or his approach, I can assure you with 100% confidence that it has helped make me a better solver and a much better constructor ever since I stumbled upon the blog four years ago, which – not coincidentally – is when I started to build puzzles of my own. I very much doubt that I would have ever gotten a crossword accepted for publication were it not for Michael's insight and the contributions of too many other puzzle enthusiasts to name. This blog is one of if not the biggest reason that I gained an appreciation for how to make a crossword hang together – by understanding how to make theme answers tight and consistent, striving to fit the best and most interesting fill, and recognizing which answers to avoid putting in a grid, among other things (okay, fine, I plead guilty on OHOS and HOSP.).

    I hope that for any others who are reading this blog and are considering creating puzzles of their own that they can be as inspired by it as I have been.

    Eejit 3:41 AM  

    I had several "tobe" rebus squares around but that wasn't getting me anywhere. Figured it out eventually. Good puzzle.

    Anonymous 6:50 AM  

    TMI, Evan, but great puzzle.

    MetaRex 6:59 AM  

    Damn, this is a nicely executed theme...lots of density and lots of edge, helped out by the fill...

    Usually when I'm over twenty minutes on a Thursday I'm grumpy...this time my numerous screw-ups were diverting until the end...

    Saw FLUBBER right away but couldn't parse the Billy Idol song or Scottie's successor...put in PALAVER and FLUPER, thinkin' that maybe that's what the Nutty Professor made in the sequel...

    GAIA/IMANI...long delay in W where I had SEMI/SCAMS for TAXI/TOMBS...was grumpy about the Ohio town but de-grumpified when I finally realized it was XENIA...had a final fluff w/ BREEDED/PEBB/DISH in the SE.

    Anonymous 7:31 AM  

    As a GW grad, I appreciated the clue to UMass (64A). Go Colonials!

    jberg 7:34 AM  

    I never saw the movie, but sort of remembered FLUBBER -- but I couldn't make it work until 39A revealed the gimmick. That helped a lot. Aside from a brief flirtation with ESmEE, my only real problem was the SE where, like @Evan apparently, I just couldn't see 69A as two words. I'd never thought I would say this, but thank God for Darrell ISSA -- without him I would gone with FIle (from a different kind of menu) at 58D, and been stuck.

    A lot of this was just on my wavelength -- asnwers like ON TV and APART were vaguely clued, but I just wrote them in, and they all worked.

    @Questinia, thanks for explaining GOMER in hospitalese -- it's used all the time in the novel THE HOUSE OF GOD, and I was always mystified.

    @Evan, I really enjoyed this, keep it up!

    Di 7:36 AM  

    Did mine online and was just curious....if one entered 2B instead of BB would it be accepted as correct? Didn't feel like going back and trying it.

    Love the puzzle! My favorite? Suck to be you!

    Anonymous 8:02 AM  

    Did anyone have a problem that "BB" is "two Be" not "to be"? Just didn't feel proper to me.

    Z 8:32 AM  

    @Evan - Just a little geeked today, are we? You've earned it.

    @chefwen - The verbal tic that gets to me is, "needless to say." Needless? Then WHY ARE YOU SAYING IT?

    @anonymous8:02 - I think that makes you a HOMOphonphobe. Tsk Tsk.

    Paul Keller 8:34 AM  

    I had no idea any regular solvers would find this one challenging. The theme revealed itself quickly and the parts I didn't know came easily enough from the crosses. Guess I was just lucky on this one. It helped to have seen YPRES, ORYX, and ADESTE in other crosswords.

    Mohair Sam 8:44 AM  

    Very challenging here, but we finally got it. What a great puzzle. Kudos Evan, struggled with this one but had a ton of fun.

    Had a neat aha (not OHO, Evan) moment getting the BB thing. I was struggling to find a way to get "Born to be Wild" into the grid when my wife looked over my shoulder and said, "There's a Mr. PIBB but I think it has two b's." Aha! And the puzzle fell (not without a fight).

    Liked the MAN clue. Had Frodo for HOBBIT until we got the BB bit. Still don't know HOFF - but he filled.

    And thanks for posting the details of the puzzle constructing experience Evan - informative and interesting.

    joho 8:52 AM  

    Congratulations, Evan, on your most impressive debut. Today it definitely does not. SUCK(S)BBYOU! Enjoy!!!

    Like others, HOBBIT gave me the trick. And while it was hard to believe, having HOSP, UHUH, LOCO, ASKEDIN and SNO in place, it had to be SUCKS. SUCKS in the NYT, never thought I'd see it. You go, Will!

    I read the clue at 48D as "Fancy suit amenity" and wrote in tieBAR.
    Anybody else?

    I had a friend in college who when I'd say, "Let me honest ..." would say, "OK, I'll be Frank." And, yes, his name was Frank.

    Thank you, Evan and Will, for a truly breakthrough puzzle!

    loren muse smith 8:52 AM  

    Evan – CAN WE talk? I loved it! Really, really tough, but I dug my heels in and *almost* finished. I forgot to go back and guess the letter at the LAFORGE/GAEA cross, but I probably would have guessed "d."

    Anyone else have "split" before APART?

    Also – I had "bobbin" for that ring bearer, rationalizing that it, well, it kind of resembles a ring. So of course "don" mystified me, (but I'm often mystified with my personal woes. . .) And sewing is on my mind as I'm constantly fascinated that the Walmart in Pettyville, WV has a huge sewing department with fabric, patterns, etc, and it's always busy. I had no idea so many people still made their own clothes. I briefly made my own clothes back in the 90s, and I loved it.

    You all SEEM BB saying you saw the trick right off? Not me, nosirreebob. (Say that in Frances McDormand's Fargo accent.) It. Took. Me. Forever. I kept getting that vague rebus tickle, but it wasn't until I had filled way over half, that I finally saw it with BB GUN. The crazy part is that I sensed a rebus in the northeast with "Mister, overseas." This German major was considering only "monsieur" or "señor." Sheesh.

    I unabashedly use rebus symmetry to help me with the fill, so the fact that these weren't symmetrical made it that much harder.

    And let me say the "reveal" is brilliant. Was that the seed?

    I'm with you on the sweet wine, Evan. Give me Vouvray over Chardonnay any day. Remember, Mom? "That wine was sweetness in my mouth."

    It's always so much fun when the constructor chimes in – I enjoyed reading about all the cluing. Loved the clue for CHESS SET. But I have to say, our enormous CHESS SET has two pairs of queens for when a pawn is promoted.

    Evan is so right about how Rexville helps you grow as a solver, and if you're so inclined, as a constructor. To get the most out of it, you really have to comment, too, and I encourage all you lurkers to get an avatar and pull up a chair.

    Congrats, Evan, on your NYT debut and on all the compliments. You have officially arrived as a very capable constructor.

    dk 9:10 AM  

    Well! My picture to Evan is a Dalek pointing at the puzzle exclaiming: Exterminate.

    I got the theme/rebus/trick at 17A. The only challenge (albeit a very big challenge) was the write overs as I corrected for the 2BS v. TOBE.

    TWEE was the only fill that just plain (see 17a first 5 letters).

    As a one time Jungian scholar I would like to point out that Ragnarok is generally thought of as Vedic. My point is if you want to be Mr. Puzzle edgy pants you might get your mythology down.

    Carping and nit picking aside, nice job Evan.

    ������ (3 Stars) At 4 posts Evan you sure are a proud parent. TOBEHONEST I love seeing one who openly revels in their success.

    Susan McConnell 9:17 AM  

    Fun, and harder than your average Thursday...at least for me. I got it at SUCKS(2)BYOU, but still, figuring out where those Bs were gonna show up was work.

    I wondered about the clueing for THEY...good to get Evan's explanation of how many clues were edited.

    I was thrown off a bit by the two Bs that show up in the SE that are not rebus squares (the Bs in WETBAR and BRIEFED).

    Anonymous 9:19 AM  

    anonymous said:
    TMI, Evan, but great puzzle

    Yeah, it's not like we want any info about
    crosswords on a crossword forum. Sheesh.

    Rob

    Laurence Katz 9:27 AM  

    Don't know if it would have been too much of a giveaway, but I really wanted to see BB King in there -- the king of the blues always deserves a nod, which I was glad to see he received from Rex.
    Loved the puzzle -- and the bonus insight from Evan's comment.

    Milford 9:28 AM  

    Played like a medium Thursday for me - I love puzzles that have a rebus that works differently for Across and Down.

    Did have some hang up in the GAiA area, couldn't figure out who iSTEE was (oops). GAEA must one of those gifts to constructors, along with Princess Leia. When our third daughter was born, we decided to (middle) name her after a grandmother. I thought her name was spelled Alouise, which was cool because it was a name with all 5 vowels! Turns out the spelling is Aloise.

    True the puzzle is heavy on some obscure names, but they must have been fairly crossed for me. River PHOENIX was a teen-age heartthrob for me, I was crushed when he ODed. And I had to think of three other Billy Idol songs (White Wedding, Rebel Yell, Eyes Without A Face) before finally seeing BB A LOVER.

    Lovely, clever debut, Evan. Have a great day getting comments and praises! I'm sending you a photo soon.

    AD 9:28 AM  

    @rex what's your deal with age? You write about it too often here. Do you think that a number defines a person? Get over it and so should America. It insults all people when we imprison someone into a category because of the number of years they've walked the earth. Especially today with such research and communication tools right at hand nobody SHOULD know this or that because of their age. If you automatically define people by their artificial Madison Avenue demographic designation you will miss their essence. Or maybe I shouldn't be so hard on you. After all wisdom does indeed come with age.

    Nancy 9:30 AM  

    Got BB or not BB early, so this wasn't all THAT hard. Liked it, although there were many too many names.

    North Beach 9:34 AM  

    Some people >50 are quite familiar with Mr Idol…

    Would have thought this would've failed the Gray Lady's breakfast test (I have never liked SUCK in this context and was taught it was practically a swear word). I was able to keep my breakfast down.

    @acme : surprised you don't know Darrell ISSA. He ran for governor of CA a while back and is currently making it his business to gut the EPA.

    @Evan : loved the commentary and the peek behind the curtain!

    When I was still working with TOBE in downs, I thought pLU[TOBE]ER to be a perfectly viable imaginary Disney substance!

    North Beach 9:42 AM  

    Fact Check: oops, ISSA ran for US Senator but was the $$ behind the Gov. Gray Davis recall.

    joho 9:43 AM  

    @Loren Muse Smith, yep, I had sPliT for a time, too.

    Z 10:05 AM  

    @AD - There's a big difference between noting that things like age, race, or gender inform what you know and reducing someone to nothing more than their age, race, or gender. So, crossing an 80's pop musician with an 80's TV show is going to up the difficulty. Both are from roughly the same era and were most popular with 16-24 year-old white males, so I think Rex's observation was spot on.

    Just like @ACME's pointing out male bias in puzzles or the discussion of the accuracy of the INUIT cluing, I think Rex's discussion of age exactly the kind of discussion that @Evan cites as helping him become a better constructor.

    Benko 10:27 AM  

    @dk: Although Ragnarok corresponds to the Vedic concept of the destruction of the world, it certainly is NOT thought of as Vedic, but Norse.
    Really liked seeing SUCKSTOBEYOU in the puzzle. Very much in the language for years and years, it's about time.

    Anonymous 10:36 AM  

    This is the first puzzle I've done in a while that I enjoyed so much that I've been telling some of my non-solving friends about it. This is the sort of puzzle that makes me do puzzles. Really fun.

    Two Ponies 10:54 AM  

    @ Evan, I sure was swearing up a storm for a while on this one. When I got it at Easy Rider then the real fun began. Great Thursday rebus and wonderful debut.

    Notsofast 11:02 AM  

    Nice work, E.B. But I really wanted "Part of a pickup line" to be HEMI. Maybe next time.

    Questinia 11:16 AM  

    @ dk, ...before NORSE I put in Eddic, referring to Edda.

    Vedic, Eddic ?

    ♬ ♭Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy ♮♪♫


    @ Evan *not* TMI. Loved your breakdown.

    baja 11:21 AM  

    Much fun and hopefully 2B continued!

    Anonymous 11:41 AM  

    DNF. And this is the first one in a LONG time I DNF, though I have struggle mightily on many. This one was way too cruel in the cluing. Perhaps Mr. Birnholz can provide just a couple of more moderate crosses next time.

    okanaganer 11:57 AM  

    @loren...I had _PAR_, and instantly thought, of course: SPARE! "In two, say"...you know, bowling?

    It was such a beautiful answer I had a long time admitting it didn't work.

    dk 11:59 AM  

    @Benko, I have had this same conversion about Freyja. The path of the gods are twisty turn. So we (including Questinia and Even edgy pants) may all be right. I see the chariot pulled by two cats has arrived: gotta go.

    Master Melvin 12:03 PM  

    I would have loved this puzzle except for all the proper names and pop culture stuff.

    Really enjoyed figgering out the rebus. Foe a long time I thought the rebus was '2B' and struggled to make the downs work. Finally realized that not only is it 'BB' but the acrosses and downs work differently.

    Great construction. Some great content and some crappy content.

    BB Continued 12:07 PM  

    @Evan... On the road, but had to drop in...
    1. Bought a Nyt paper at a downtown hotel. Solved the puz on the fly.
    2. Wanted SUCKS 4 YOU at first. Stumbled onto SUCKS TWO BS YOU theme trick, much later. I think 39-Across plus nine or ten hunh?s finally shoved m&e over the hump.
    3. Killer debut puz. Congrats. Bet it feels good BB the guy messin up millions of NYer's brains.
    4. fave weejects: ORI. ITO. A-not tobe-E.
    5. fave clue: "Ball mate". But also lotsa honrable mentions.
    6. fave scrappy entry: SCREWIT.
    7. fave tobe-but not-tobe entry: ITHADBBU.
    8. fave entry to stare at until it looks all wrong: CHESSSET.

    Keep 'em comin. Keep yer UU count up.
    M&A

    Rob C 12:17 PM  

    Challenging Thurs for me. Slow going for a long while until I coaught on, then things fell fairly rapidly. I did struggle with some of the proper names though-LAFORGE and BB A LOVER had me tied up in knots for a while.

    Noticed a mini IT theme: hobbIT, screwIT, brIT, rITz, ITo.

    Liked the opposing WETbar and DRYness too.

    It does not suck BB Evan today! Congrats!

    Rob C 12:20 PM  

    caught

    LaneB 12:23 PM  

    Very clever, but a bit too much so for me. With FLUBBER and HOBBIT I figured out there was a rebus, but failed to see its dual edges.
    Also instead of HULA I put HOOP and never recovered. Lost interest and didn't want spend all day on the sum bitch so settled with a gigantic DNF. The combo of rebus and really tough clues were more like a Saturday than a Thursday and I'm not up for such challenges. Congrats to all of you who are.d

    quilter1 12:28 PM  

    Good job, Evan. I DNF because of BBALOVER and FLUBBER, but I sure enjoyed the ride and felt proud to get everything else. Do it again soon.

    Sallie (FullTime-Life) 12:31 PM  

    Couple decades past 50 and didn't feel &@7?d by this puzzle at all. Liked it a lot. Rex I think you might be surprised at how much people over 50 know about pop culture if you got to know some of us. And besides that, we have all the wisdom that comes with age))))!

    Gill I. P. 12:56 PM  

    Well goodo Will for letting us taste something refreshing. Challenging indeed....
    Like @Loren, I had to go all the way to the basement before I spotted the rebus at BORNBBWILD. Hopped back upstairs and started looking for all the BB's
    Never heard the phrase SUCKSBBYOU, had OnYX/anal thinking it's ok these days I guess. Was I the only one having YMCA instead of THEY?
    Well Evan, you had me working hard but damn, it was a fun work-out.
    Enjoy your day and as they say in Spanish "enorabuena."

    DigitalDan 1:03 PM  

    In this parlous times, I would strongly recommend sacrificing an hour or so of contentment per day to watch, read, or hear the news, preferably in a venue that doesn't totally make things up, sufficient to know right away who ISSA is. Things are happening to our republic, folks, and you might not want to be totally caught off guard when they bite you in the ISSA.

    Mette 1:14 PM  

    On the medium side for me at less than 30 minutes on a Thurs. DNF because of the JD Salinger perfume ESmEE (OK, that should be Esme) and ARNeZ. Before catching on to the theme, kept telling myself that Disney did not make a Harry Potter film, but kept trying to fit FLUe?? (had to Google floo powder).

    Thanks, Evan, for the truly delightful puzzle and all of your comments, particularly the shout-out to Rex.

    chefbea 1:30 PM  

    Great puzzle @Evan!!! Too tough for me..DNF. Got the theme right away..but still too many hard clues/answers

    OISK 1:35 PM  

    I did miss a square (Mr. Pibb?) but that aside, and despite the wonderful comments by Evan, someone I really admire, I don't like this puzzle at all! ( a lonely voice) Don't like the ohos uhuh cross, never heard of To be a lover, (nor of anything about Billy Idol other than his name), Don't like the clue for "aria," and consider "screw" and "sucks" to be unacceptably vulgar. No stars from me.

    joefrombrooklyn 1:48 PM  

    A good idea wasted with terrible fill. Theme was challenging enough that the proper names absolutely destroyed it for me. HOFF, GAEA, ITO, CHET, PHOENIX, YPRES, ISSA, LAFORGE, XENIA, ESTEE, ABBOTT, OMAR, ARNAZ. Only one or two of these were gimmes. I've completely forgotten Billy Idol's TO BE A LOVER despite being an MTV kid in 1986.

    I'm disappointed because this is such a good puzzle theme which would have been really fun to solve if the cluing had been a bit better.

    Bird 1:49 PM  

    A good challenging puzzle. I liked theme, but too bad it wasn’t perfectly symmetrical. There was some stuff I didn’t know or the clues were tricky, but I was able to fill in from crosses.

    Almost finished with an error, but at the last second I changed the T(ERSE) to P by somehow remembering YPRES.

    I liked the clues for 23A and 25A. Clever.

    Thanks Evan. I’ll take a snapshot of the finished product and send it on its way.

    MikeM 1:57 PM  

    OISK, I thought about the vulgarity as well and was surprised NYT let it pass, though more would comment on it. I admonish my kids when they say "suck". That being said, I loved this puzzle . I filled in ( hard copy) TOBE on the acrosses and for the life of me couldn't understand the downs. It finally dawned on me on the thing filled in. Had YMCA for way too long in 69A. Even after I entered THEY I couldn't parse it and it looked odd

    ahimsa 1:59 PM  

    Loved the puzzle! Kudos to Evan Birnholz on a great debut and thanks for sharing all that behind the scenes information.

    I agree with @Rex and others, this seemed more slangy and modern than most NY Times puzzles.

    I saw that 17A was SUCKS BB YOU quite early. It actually made me laugh out loud because I was not expecting that from the NY Times.

    When I see ORYX I always think of Margaret Atwood's book and wonder why it's not clued that way more often (book title is ORYX and Crake).

    I wasn't sure about LAFORGE (vs LAFaRGE), and I do not know the Billy Idol song (I'm the right age group but not a fan), but I still don't think crossing that with BB A LOVER was so bad. What else could a song with the title BB A L-VER be? (at least, it's pretty obvious once the theme has shown you that BB = To Be)

    I actually had a bit harder time with Mr. PIBB - do they still make that drink?

    Mohair Sam 2:04 PM  

    @loren muse - sPliT for APART here too. Had STAR and OPENAREA and couldn't move. Luckily I remembered XENIA (actually been there) and therefore had an aha moment at MAN - lead to HOMO and a completed puzzle.

    ahimsa 2:26 PM  

    Re: those who don't know ISSA, maybe you've heard his name on TV or radio news and didn't realize it? It's pronounced EYE-suh.

    Here's a story from Slate from last year when ISSA was holding hearings on health insurance coverage for contraception:

    http://tinyurl.com/85nzc4m

    Lewis 2:48 PM  

    @bird -- I'm glad the BBs were not symmetrical. That would have taken challenge out of the puzzle.

    Evan, wow! Bravo! Congrats on your premiere, and I was smiling all the way through. Those clues that Rex calls brutal are the ones I love. Not vague clues that can have skads of answers, but clever misdirects, like the clues here for CHESSSET or BRIDEBB.

    You did have your share of grid gruel as Joe from Brooklyn pointed out. But it didn't take the spark out of this puzzle, with its edgy answers and clues that rang.

    Your comments were helpful to me, in that I've been constructing but yet to be accepted. Thanks for your posts today.

    jburgs 2:50 PM  

    Is there any such thing as a "dry" bar?

    Nameless 3:05 PM  

    Great first puzzle Evan. I hope you haven't set the bar to high for yourself though.

    I like how TO BE goes across only and BB goes down only.

    And the centerpiece is perfect.

    Congrats!

    retired_chemist 3:42 PM  

    Good job, Evan. One small nit to pick: having no non-theme B's would have been an improvement IMO.

    @ Gill I.P. - Hand up for YMCA, but it did make me ask why the clue said "informally." THE Y answered that.

    A longish Saturday time here, so I call it challenging. Thursdays are typically my worst showings of the week. Having loki, then GAiA @ 29A didn't help.

    Thanks, Evan.

    sanfranman59 3:49 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)

    Thu 20:11, 16:30, 1.22, 84%, Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Thu 12:34, 9:27, 1.33, 86%, Challenging

    Steve J 3:59 PM  

    Great debut, Evan. And Will Shortz deserves some congratulations, too, for publishing a puzzle that indeed felt more like an AV Club/American Values crossword (my favorite puzzles week in and week out).

    I don't know if it's a generational thing or something else, but I don't find suck or screw in these sorts of contexts to be remotely vulgar, nor can I think of anyone among my colleagues and contemporaries who would. Nevertheless, I recognize there are plenty of people who do, so I do appreciate the bit of a risk the NYT takes with this one. It's good not to see things always played middle-of-the-road.

    Picked up early that there had to be some kind of rebus going on, but it took a long time to see how it worked. It was a great aha moment. Only thing that may have made it even more interesting would have been to have some of the "to be" meanings also show up vertically. Unless I'm missing something, they're all on the horizontal.

    Agreed that some of the cluing was unnecessarily tough in spots and was borderline dickish once or twice (thanks, @Evan, for the info on changes; some of them were for the better, but some definitely contributed to the tougher feel at points). That said, I loved some of the tougher ones, like for DOT and MAN (which is indeed a what in certain contexts, including this one).

    All told, great Thursday puzzle. Just the right amount of challenge, and a great amount of freshness and verve.

    Benko 4:02 PM  

    @jburgs--
    WETBARS have at least one sink and working plumbing. Dry bars just have places for storing bottles.
    @dk--
    You may be completely correct that RAGNAROK is originally Vedic in origin. I was just trying to make the point that it is certainly thought of by most people as Norse, and not without reason.

    Steve J 4:03 PM  

    @retired_chemist: Good point on the non-theme B's. The TOMB/BRIDE(BB) cross was one of the last to fall for me, because I didn't think there would be an extraneous B like that.

    Anonymous 4:06 PM  

    A generous helping of modern language in a puzzle is never a bad thing IMO.

    Anoa Bob 4:46 PM  

    I was not able to make the transition from "BB" to "TO BE". Seems like a disconnect there. "TWO BEE'S" or "TO BEE'S", yeah, but not "TO BE".

    It appears that I'm the only solver in all of xwordworld would didn't read them "TO BE". Worrisome.

    Dean Martin 4:54 PM  

    @Benko - I hope your dry bar has a place to store glassware.

    Pete 5:02 PM  

    Darrell ISSA gets his second citation in the NYTimes today, being a self-important douche bag to police guards trying to protect the Capitol building.

    Talk about fame going to your head.

    ahimsa 5:09 PM  

    I could be wrong but when @jburg asked about "dry" bars I thought it was a joke about the other meanings of dry (e.g., prohibiting the sale or consumption of alcoholic drink).

    Melodious Funk 5:18 PM  

    Absolutely terrific, Evan. I'm gonna keep an eye out, so be careful, we want more beautiful puzzle constructions like this. High bar, indeed. Your explication was on the mark, good of you to take the time.

    @Questinia.

    Hut-Sut Rawlson on the rillerah and a brawla, brawla sooit.

    If you know this, I wanna marry you. I hope your husband will understand.

    Carola 5:27 PM  

    Busy day, late to the puzzle. But I'm glad I had time this afternoon to spend on the puzzling-out and then savoring the terrific theme. Agree with @Rex entirely on the difficulty and the reasons why.

    Struggled themelessly through the top two thirds. Gloom, thoughts of throwing in the towel. Finally saw BB/to be in BORN TO BE WILD x Mr. PIBB, and the skies brightened.

    MAN, that TAXI to STAR cluster was tough!

    @jberg - Ditto your thought on Darrell ISSA!

    @Evan - Congratulations! On the difficulty level - having read in your comments on previous puzzles your ideas for alternate clues, I was afraid I might be done in today by pop culture references. So I was helped by Will's changes for SLOTH and XENIA. On the other hand, Robert ITO was a mystery, and I would have known Lance.

    Joe The Juggler 6:09 PM  

    MAN as in "mankind" is indeed a "what" not a "who".

    August West 7:16 PM  

    Nice. Needed all crosses for LAFORGE. Thankfully knew GAEA from crosswords. Ovid first for OMAR; YPRES filled without being seen. Enjoyed it and got it done in 8:42, so just about right for a Thursday. Thanks, Evan!

    Questinia 7:49 PM  

    @ Melodious Funk, Now I know the words cause I always knew the melody! But, weren't the last words

    "and a so on so on so forth"?

    It was a cartoon. Was it a dopey vulture with the Hungarian accented mother?

    Or was it Horton the elephant? My mind's eye.... my mind's ear... the elephant?

    Final answer.

    Luisa Massim 8:56 PM  

    Loved it. Over 50. Not a Trekkie.

    Melodious Funk 8:59 PM  



    @Questinia

    I believe you're in my wheelhouse. The dopey vulture may have been Chuck Jones - or maybe Fritz Freling. Certainly Warner Brothers.

    Back to the series...

    r.alphbunker 9:30 PM  

    TWEE sounds like 2E
    IT SUCKS 2B YOU but 2U want to dance.

    Liked the independent feel of the puzzle.

    WS must be set for life financially. Why doesn't he jump ship?



    sanfranman59 10:03 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 6:45, 6:07, 1.10, 87%, Challenging
    Tue 9:17, 8:15, 1.13, 78%, Medium-Challenging
    Wed 9:38, 9:44, 0.99, 47%, Medium
    Thu 20:05, 16:30, 1.22, 84%, Challenging

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:12, 3:50, 1.10, 85%, Challenging
    Tue 5:21, 5:10, 1.04, 60%, Medium-Challenging
    Wed 5:55, 5:36, 1.06, 66%, Medium-Challenging
    Thu 11:50, 9:27, 1.25, 83%, Challenging

    sanfranman59 10:06 PM  

    oops ... I forgot ... Go Sharks!

    Anonymous 11:37 PM  

    fao rhymes with mao

    Anonymous 11:42 PM  

    My only concern is that the "revealer" is slightly off. It should be "2B or to be". The not does not make sense.

    Anyways, perfectly good puzzle by NYT standards. Best one compared to M, T + W

    jburgs 12:31 AM  

    Thanks Benko (4:02) for the explanation on what "wet bar" refers to. I've heard the term before and when it came up in the puzzle it prompted my question. Your answer clears it up. I had assumed the term had something to do with the booze in some way.

    Acme 4:10 AM  

    Wait, did anyone mention DRYNESS next to WETBAR?!

    powerastro guru 7:50 AM  

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    NIck 12:57 PM  

    A "gomer" is an elderly patient in an ER, as in Get Out of My ER. Not used properly here. Still, fun and hard puzzle. Also? Kinda shocked to come across "screw it" in the staid NYT.

    Daniel Ryder 7:14 AM  

    Getting money from your pension is sometimes known as get pension release. Our experts Pension Release Services can help with general guidance about pensions release advice in UK.

    Stephen 1:10 PM  

    In what sense is G.W. a competitor to UMASS?
    I spent 5 years at UMASS, and --even after seeing the answer to this clue-- I have no idea what is meant.

    spacecraft 11:10 AM  

    It almost took me longer to read @Evan's blogs than to do his puzzle, so I'll try to keep you BRIEFED. Strangely, my lead-in gimme was ITO, lab assistant to Klugman, of whom I've always been a fan. Couldn't get 36a to fit, then saw the clue for the centerpiece: "That is the question." Well, when you put it in just those words, dude, you virtually scream "Hamlet soliloquy" at me, so the game was afoot. Mindful that it was Thursday, I just stuck double B's in those squares without a second thought.

    Did I get lots of stuff purely on crosses? Oh, yeah. But as it happened, there were no naticks, thanks B. This wound up playing more medium-ish (SEANCES?) than challenging for me.

    There SEEMSBB a schizophrenic cast to the fill: on one hand two X's and a Z--all very well used, sir, tip o' the hat. On the other, there were vast OPENAREAs of one-pointers: ADESTE ESTEE CHESSSET, e.g.

    Doesn't UMASS play George Washington U. in basketball? Well, at least he didn't say "rival."

    Would you stock a WETBAR with the DRYNESS of Chardonnay?

    My only previous encounter with TWEE was in the comic strip Shoe (I sorely miss it; it was great), when nephew Skyler was playing BBall. The ref's whistle was always "TWEE!" Thank you again, crosses.

    Enjoyed it, @Evan. Looking forward to Plan CC.

    Anonymous 12:59 PM  

    Great puzzle, thanks Mr. B. To me it fell into the easy/medium.
    BTW, Andrea Carla Michaels & Greg Cameron have a nifty puzzle in today's LA Times. That is, Thursday, 11/7. A very clever puzz for the wine enthusiasts.
    Ron Diego (San Diego Denizen}

    Joe Cue 3:10 PM  

    I like ready Rex'x take on puzzles almost as I like working them.

    Dirigonzo 3:57 PM  

    I started out writing "to be" in the squares where I knew it had to be, but it took a while to realize I should be writing two "B"s, instead. With that change in strategy the puzzle went from "impossible" to "great fun". Thanks @Evan, and congratulations on your debut (too bad that only has one "B") - keep 'em coming and keep pushing the envelope!

    LongBeachLee 3:57 PM  

    Off topic, but is there some way the date as well as the time can be included in the comments?

    Cary in Boulder 4:08 PM  

    It's puzzles like this that put me in my place. Not a rookie, but not a power-solver either.

    I was totally flummoxed by most of this one. Never heard of SUCKSTOBEYOU. When I Googled it I got a truly awful song. I'm way more of a BB King kinda guy. If I ever do a puzzle it'll contain tons of obscure blues and soul references and piss on people like Billy Idol and '80s TV references.

    But ... glad on of the blog regulars managed to hit one out of the park for everyone else.

    DMG 4:40 PM  

    Got a slow start on this one, but trying to fit Hamlet's lament into the allotted spaces led me to a fairly speedy solve, aided by realizing BB doesn't equal TO BE. Like others, I found some of this one outside my wheelhouse, but those words seemed to fill by osmosis, or figuring nothing else made any sense. And, sometimes it didn't. I'm glad someone explained THEY, which I left because everything else seemed to fit. Can't say I enjoyed all the "language", but, to quote Rex, it's no doubt generational!

    Solving in Seattle 8:04 PM  

    I'm late with my comments cause I solved while binge watching Jason Statham flics.

    @Evan, congratulations on a really great debut puz. I'll email a photo of my inked dead tree solve.

    I did not care for OHOS, unless it could be clued as "Short for Oregon prostitutes."
    Also did not care for TWEE unless it could be clued as "What Elmer Fudd chopped down."
    Otherwise, all fine. And it was interesting to see the numbers on clues left alone, modified and changed all together.

    BTW, have always loved XENIA as played by that goddess, Lucy Lawless.

    Capcha: dynaiti. @Diri, isn't this latin for "a spiked afternoon drink?"

    Dirigonzo 8:13 PM  

    @SiS - I do believe you have stumbled upon a new clue for TNT: Main ingredient in a dynaiti. But why wait until afternoon to start drinking them - it's always "five o'clock somewhere".

    Ginger 8:20 PM  

    Late to the party, and haven't as yet had time to read all the posts, but @Evan, Loved it! I'm way over 50, not a trekki, know very little about pop music, but the crosses were fair, as were my guesses.

    Issa does not pass the breakfast test.

    Thanks Evan, looking forward to more.

    Solving in Seattle 8:20 PM  

    @Diri, by golly you've got a good idea! It's after five here in the PDT and I'm going to have a Dynaiti and toast those Ohio folks that named a town after Lucy's character.

    Evan 10:46 PM  

    I usually don't wade into Syndiland, but being that it's my puzzle there, I had to drop by! Thanks for the additional kind comments.

    @Ginger:

    I wavered back and forth on whether to do ISLA instead of ISSA. I avoided ISLA because a) I thought I already had too many foreign words to clue it as a Spanish isle (AD ESTE, ABBE, HERR, YPRES), and b) I couldn't clue it as the actress ISLA Fisher because FISH was right there in the corner. I figured ISSA would be a decent compromise, although now I wonder if he's well-known enough to merit inclusion. If he is, then I may have opened the floodgates for his name to be crossword fill for everybody.

    Anonymous 11:51 PM  

    Challenging? Well, I feel pretty good about myself now. Sniffed out the rebus right off the bat when "Sucks to be you" fit perfectly but didn't fit...and a quick glance at the center clue gave me the "to be" rebus. the Two B's aspect took a few more minutes to register, but once I got EBBS it was off to the races.

    Initial blank grid guess on the Easy Rider song: THE PUSHER.

    eastsacgirl 2:38 PM  

    Just got around to solving today. Had born to be wild right off the bat but took me a few minutes to figure out how to fit in there. Then sucks to be you slipped right in. Had 2 wrong letters so officially a DNF but fun.

    John 10:06 AM  

    Challenging for me, particularly as a Thursday NY Times published in the Baltimore Sun. Managed to conquer it, but I still don't understand "they" as answer to Village People clue.

    Dirigonzo 7:12 PM  

    @John - Parse it as "The Y(MCA)" and it makes sense if you are familiar with this.

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