Form of flamenco / WED 3-19-14 / Particle theorized in 1977 / British upper-cruster for short / Willy who lent his name to historic Manhattan deli / Caffeine-laden nuts

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Constructor: Samuel A. Donaldson

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Get Lost — phrases meaning "Go Away" all clued following the pattern [Go away as a [***] might?], where the [***] gives you some hint to the idiom involved:

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: SOLEA (5D: Form of flamenco) —
Soleares (plural of soleápronounced: [soleˈa]) is one of the most basic forms or "palos" ofFlamenco music, probably originated around Cádiz or Seville in Andalusia, the most southern region of Spain. It is usually accompanied by one guitar only, in phrygian mode "por arriba" (fundamental on the 6th string); "Bulerías por soleá" is usually played "por medio" (fundamental on the 5th string). Soleares is sometimes called "mother of palos" although it is not the oldest one (e.g. siguiriyas is older than soleares) and not even related to every other palo (e.g. fandangosfamily is from a different origin) (wikipedia)
• • •

Pretty ordinary "these phrases all mean the same thing" puzzle, with the added bonus of the final epic three-part themer, which really gives the puzzle a nice dose of pizzazz. There's some odd fill—most notably SOLEÁ, which I've never seen, and which hasn't been seen at all, crossword-wise, since 2003, and which even then was a [Roman sandal] (???). XOX is terrible and always a bad way to pick up "X"s. But aside from SSGTS and ASOU (frowny face) and ARISTO (boo) (13D: British upper-cruster, for short), most everything else is solid, even interesting. TEN-DAY is pretty damn arbitrary, but … it is what it is (52D: Like some short-term N.B.A. contracts). I'm giving this one a slight thumbs-up. My perspective might be warped by yesterday's debacle, but I think this one holds up pretty well for a Wednesday.

I came in under 4 on this one, which was nice, as I have been noticeably slower of late, despite doing more puzzles than ever. No idea what that's about. Maybe it's aging-brain, maybe I'm just paying closer attention as I solve, maybe maybe maybe. Had no real hiccups besides not knowing SOLEÁ. Briefly thought the tree in the Garden of Eden was a FIR (no lie) (38D: Garden of Eden tree). Balked at AXION (44A: Particle theorized in 1977), in part because AXON was in the grid and my brain wouldn't accept the near-duplicate. I also had "BY GODS!" at 71A: "For heaven's sake!" ("MY GOSH!"). So I guess I was imagining the exclamation coming from Thor or Hercules.

My brain is mildly fried from having just experienced the end of "Breaking Bad" (finally), so I'm gonna go process.

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:06 AM  

OK, back to our regular programming.  Easy-medium for me, no erasures and only SOLEA was a WOE.   Zippy theme which more than off-sets the glue it took to get there, and nothing extremely cringy, gotta like it!  Thanks Mr. Donaldson for correcting yesterday's U-turn.

AMSCRAY is a fine word.  Reminds me of my Dad when he wanted some peace and quiet.

August West 12:09 AM  


JTHurst 12:14 AM  

Today's puzzle is the et capillus de canis for yesterday's puzzle.

Expect less than 75 posts for today.

Moly Shu 12:18 AM  

Didn't much care for the theme, but the rest of it was pretty good. Not a lot of gunk. PREMOLAR and TUBB being my favorites. SOLEA ?? Rough for any day of the week.

Patiently awaiting @LMS's post. Like others have said, it's one of my highlights in this here blog

Kim Scudera 12:19 AM  

I'd add ORU and its Prayer Tower to my WOE list, but liked it just fine. Sure, XOX is never GREAT, in tic-tac-toe or in puzzles, but what a crazy section of puzzle we get: BOTOX, BUZZOFF, and AXION. Not perfect -- we do also have AXON in the grid, which is weird, and quite a number of the usual suspects these days: ESS, ABBA, SSGTS, YADA, ANO, IRR. But given all the theme material, and the general Scrabbliness of the grid, I'd give it a thumbs-up.

chefwen 12:35 AM  

It was nice to complete this puzzle while breathing normally. SOLEA was my unknown (thanks for the WOD) but I was able to fill in nicely around it.

OsU at 2D didn't work out too well as PsEMOLAR make no sense, whatsoever. cOLAS to KOLAS, another easy fix and rAce to DASH
at 61D.

A most enjoyable puzzle, thank you Mr. Donaldson

Michael Jordan 12:41 AM  

Rex calling a TEN DAY contract "arbitrary" makes me think he believes there are also 30 day contracts and 90 day contacts, etc. There are not.

Contracts are offered in year increments, or "rest of season" contracts, or 10 day contracts, which are used to plug a roster hole, or try out a player.

Colleen 12:55 AM  

Oh, come on, Rex. ARISTO is kinda boss and you know it. At the very least it's a misdemeanor, whereas AXON and AXION in the same grid ought to be a felony, or at least a major "boo". Lots of fun, this one, unlike yesterday's unpleasantness, of which the less said, the better.

Steve J 12:58 AM  

Cute theme that was executed very nicely. The theme answers (outside the three-fer) all would make nice fill outside a theme, but put together they're really good. AMSCRAY was my favorite.

Nice touch having SNOW and SKI BUM share an S.

Thought I was going to get stuck in that scrabbly west section, with random tic-tac-toe characters, a conductor I don't know and my knowledge of subatomic particles being pretty damn limited. But it all came together, and the puzzle came together in easy-medium Wednesday time for me.

I'd have liked this on its own, but it was a very pleasant puzzle after yesterday's mess.

Carola 1:06 AM  

Cute, over too fast. SEE YA was a nice bonus.

Benko 1:39 AM  

Best part for me was seeing Ernest Tubb. Big fan of classic country.
Puzzle was pretty easy besides SOLEA and the not-yet-proven-to-exist AXION.

Ellen S 2:13 AM  

I had a suspicion that everybody except Sarah had a kind of good time here yesterday. Not arguing, however, that today's puzzle wasn't better.

I'm winding up finishing with too many errors injected by Puzzazz misinterpreting my finger marks for wrong letters. I don't know if I should look for another app, or keep Puzzazz because I can claim it as an excuse for DNF.

Questinia 2:14 AM  

Orthopedic shoe of a puzzle saved only by the BANANA over URANUS.

Jisvan 3:15 AM  

Oh MY GOSH, Questina!!

Billy 4:58 AM  

I found yesterday's considerably easier than this one.
I guess that's the crossword novice speaking.
I really didn't get the outrage over yesterday.

Danp 5:33 AM  

1) I want 47A to make like a tree and leave.

2) Trivia of the day: While a bad pork chop may taste like shoe leather, the tender, flaky sole got its name from the Roman sandal (solea) because of its shape.

3) Theme or odd coincidence? Abba over Sam over Tenday. I wouldn't have gotten tenday except for the fact that Jason Collins has been in the news lately for getting one of these contracts.

loren muse smith 5:41 AM  

Rex – right there with you on thinking "fir" first.

@Steve J – yeah – cool SNOW cross there. And "a conductor I don't know..." I will never forget OZAWA'S first name ever again. ACPT last year – puzzle 5? I was so close.

@Carola – agreed on the SEE YA. Elegant. And you can have all my %$# cherry gumballs *and* Mom's Whipping Cream Pound Cake (it's flavored with almond extract). I love fresh cherries and I like salty almonds in a can, but that almond extract like in maraschino cherries (here, have mine off this BANANA SPLIT) – ick!

@Bob Kerfuffle and I are going to do an edgy SOLEA at next year's ACPT. I was reluctant at first , but he convinced me when he showed me some really cool moves - right before the bartender told him to BEAT IT.

@Ellen S, @billy – I'm with you both, there. I liked yesterday's puzzle.

Since I was a deckhand for all of five weeks once in Alaska, I am the ship expert here until someone usurps me (morning, @M&A), and we called rope on the ship "line."

@Questinia – hah! I noticed UR ANUS, END, BUM.

I truly was looking for "go away, as a stripper might?" TAKE OFF, but if you think about it, IT'D be kind of an outlier – not so "order"ish.

ISH – I've said it before and want full credit in the OED when it's cited – first time at least this amateur linguist has seen a humble little suffix grow up into its own word. I'm so proud.

Q: "Was it cold here while I was living for TEN DAYs with the Maasai?"
A: "ISH"

AMAZE, AMAZing. Gag. You see this word too much in People and Us. (See above "ship expert" remark and switch out "ship expert" for "why-am-I-even-buying-this magazine expert") "Kal-el Coppala Cage is going to be such an amazing father."

There's a great little HYENA Boys' Choir at the Zoo in Asheboro, NC.

Funny how we have so, so many ways to tell a guy to "make yourself scarce" but not nearly so many that mean the opposite with the same sarcastic vibe. Hey! You! Get URANUS over here now!

"Tooth" clue next to BEWARE. Ok – I've asked this here before and no one answered me. *Someone* - a lurker (please email me - I have a gazillion other anthropology questions for you!)- out there must know. Why is it that when I, a mammal, show my teeth to another mammal, it's 99 percent of the time a friendly signal, but when a dog, say, shows its teeth to another dog, it's 99 percent of the time quite an unfriendly signal? I called a guy I went to Ga. Southern with who teaches anthropology at Michigan – (Andrew Shryock – look him up. Wicked smart guy) He said that wasn't the kind of anthropology he does, but off the top of his head (and he insisted it was most assuredly wrong), the reason historically we wave is to show we don't have a weapon, so maybe we smile to show others we don't have scary sharp fangs anymore. I thought that was a pretty cool idea, even if it's wrong. Still. The phenomenon of showing our teeth around. . . fascinating. Cave canine!

STATUARY – something you admire, as in the Rodin collection at the NC Museum of Art
STATUERY – statuary you have marred with graffiti.

Sam – Come on back real soon, ya here? This was a fun way to brace myself for subbing in an art class today. Oh, the paint. . .

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

The Cake video was a nice bonus!

Susan McConnell 7:55 AM  

@Anonymous 7:24, Agreed...I am never disappointed to see Cake come up in the rotation.

I loved this puzzle on the strength of AMSCRAY alone. I use it regularly.

I am no sports genius, but I knew TEN DAY because of all of the coverage that the gay basketball player got recently. I will have to google his name and team later. Jason something? I remember thinking that a TEN DAY contract seemed weird, but I guess it is A Thing.

jberg 7:55 AM  

Gotta run --

But first a few comments on the puzzle. Mostly, AXIONs are completely unrelated to AXONs, and spelled differently, so I don't see a problem. Like putting SCAM and SCRAM in the same puzzle would be OK; SCRAM and AMSCRAM, not so much.

Before somebody else tells a URANUS joke,

I'm outta here!

Mohair Sam 8:02 AM  

Pretty much "What Rex said" today. Enjoyed the theme, especially the ancient soda jerk joke. Had no problem with AXON and AXION in the same puzzle, actually kinda liked it.

Yeah, as any Sixers' fan can tell you, the TENDAY is an NBA standard. At any given time this season about half the team seems to be on a 10 day contract.

Still chuckling at the wonderfully old and totally corny MAKELIKEA . . . . And how about AMSCRAY? - the only word my big sister spoke to me until my 19th birthday.

Wednesdays don't get any better. Thanks Samuel A.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:04 AM  

There is always a bit of peril in filling a grid with dismissive phrases, which casual commenters could direct back at the puzzle. But not to worry today; I found this smooth, easy, and fun.

As by now several others have noted, even a non-sports person like myself could not have avoided all the recent coverage of a "TEN DAY contract." (It's that sports talk they inject between the weather and the international news.)

Casco Kid 8:05 AM  

Prepare ye, one and all, for the FIFTEENDAY disabled list. The boys of summer are heading for home. Easy Wednesday here, meaning not a DNF.

RavTom 8:09 AM  

For us print edition solvers, kudos to the NYT for making an effort to put the puzzle on the back page of the Arts section. Makes for easy finding.

loren muse smith 8:09 AM  

@jberg - I don't gotta run now (hi, Mom) - the school cancelled but said they'd probably call here in a little bit. And, yeah, the URANUS joke was expected and trite. Sheesh. Predictable one-liners - I've wrecked'em before, and I'm sure it'll happen again.

@Numinous – I never lived in Morgantown. I'm so wobbly with Facebook that one day I decided to add places I've visited, and it now looks like I've actually lived in any place I've ever stepped foot in. Sheesh. That said, I do live in Burning Springs, WV but have yet to see any moonshine. I'll keep you posted.

Looks like your life has been quite full, but you're in Georgia now! I grew up in Gwinnett County.

When I was subbing a couple of years ago, we were talking about height and how unusually tall my son is. One shortish 7th grade boy said, "Man, if I could just grow one more foot. . .I'd have three feet!" I jumped up and down and said, "You have just come up with a paraprosdokian phrase!!!"

How I understand it is this – take two phrases and have the second phrase conclude with an unexpected twist, *especially* if it can be a play on the usage of a word in the first phrase.

Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like bananas.
You can always tell a linguist. You just can't tell her much.

Yep – if you raze that house, it's gone. So for me, if the house burns up, it has totally vanished, but if it burns down, you can still see its carcass, as it were. Up feels like a completive kind of addition.

Moon Unit, honey - drink your milk down. (You don't have to finish it.)
Moon Unit, honey - drink your milk up. (Finish the damn stuff.)

Daisy eats the cone DOWN, but Cooper, well, he, like me usually, opts for the UP route

Z 8:10 AM  

The count was nearing 170 late last night for comments on yesterday's puzzle, but since 125 of them belonged to @sarah I wouldn't make to much of that number. Now, the überchallenging rating from @sanfranman59's stats, that's another matter all-together. Learning that BWI could also be Jim Palmer's airport for roadtrips was kinda cool in an übernerdy sort of way.

TEN DAY contracts don't usually make the front page of the sports section even in the hometown paper of the team handing one out, so it does look a little arbitrary. However, it is a very real thing in the NBA, so perfectly okay in my book. As stated above, used to fill a gap on the roster or give a player a look.

As I was solving (identical write-overs to @chefwen) I was imaging a certain someone giving critics everywhere a giant middle-finger. "Hey, NO HASSLE here. You can BEAT IT, TAKE A HIKE, BUZZ OFF, AM SCRAY. What? You're still here criticizing the missing Q and V? MAKE LIKE A BANANA AND SPLIT." I know that would be my reaction if I were he.

Final observation for this comment... Didja all ever notice that reading and writing anything here in the comment section is a voluntary act? No one makes us read everything. No one makes us respond to anything. No one compels us to write anything. Even rules like "no more than three posts in a day" are enforced by the honor system.

AliasZ 8:35 AM  

This was at about the same level for a Wed as yesterday's for a Tue. Some obscurities spilled over from yesterday: Michael SAM or SAM Michael (who?). For SAM I would've liked the clue "Newsman Donaldson".

I know IKEA but never heard of MAKEL IKEA.

Seiji OZAWA and Zubin Mehta have been standard crosswordese for decades. Shouldn't be that tough even if you're not a classical music lover or a regular concert goer.

It is known that Sir William Herschel (1738-1822) discovered URANUS in 1781. It was the first planet discovered by telescope. When he asked his friend over to the telescope to look for himself, he asked Herschel: "Is that URANUS?" he responded: "Not mine." Later it was discovered that the planet had a thriving humanoid population. The Uranian National Anthem was called "Up, Uranus!"

Here is URANUS handed to you on a platter, from The Planets by Gustav Holst.

And here OZAWA-san is doing his best Leonard Bernstein impersonation of his career.

Happy hump day.

NCA President 8:39 AM  

SOLEA, like yesterday's CHAO, went completely unnoticed since it was completely filled in by the crosses. I'm actually okay with weird words like that if the crosses are so easy that the word fills itself in. Naticks happen when you get a word like SOLEA and cross it with a name or word like CHOA...for that I would complain. But today's SOLEA was a non-issue.

MAKELIKEA must double as a Hawaiian word. (an Hawaiian word?)

Finally, like Rex, I semi-consciously ignored AXION/AXON because who would put those two in the same grid? Sure, they mean very different things, but visually, they are virtually identical.

No erasures, no hiccups, no googling today. I would classify it as easy...for a Wednesday.

lawprof 8:44 AM  

I normally start a puzzle by working the first two or three across rows and then the top row of downs. For some reason, today I kept forging ahead with the acrosses and had zilch until I got to USA and BOTOX.

So my initial take was "this is a toughie." But then I went back to the top and dropped in NPR, ORU and HEN, and the whole thing came tumbling down with no writeovers.

BUZZOFF was my first theme answer, and then the rest came easily. Lotsa zippy fun today. Unlike yesterday, where BrI (for BWI) remained doggedly in place until I realized that I wasn't having fun anymore, said "@#$% it" and quit.

Larry 8:47 AM  

In the midst of reading an account of the Pacific Theater of WW2 I kept thinking that "Yank" rival was "Jap." Of course not, but couldn't see Jay because of it.

Tita 9:08 AM  
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Tita 9:09 AM  

@lms - we'll have to wait 6-weeks for full-time ship expert, part-real-time Rexvillian @Dirigonzo to chime in re: TYE. (Though I'm not so sure it's a square-rigger he be sailing these days...)

@danp - thanks sole much for that fishy bit of etymology...I love learning things like that.

Puzzle was fine. Fun, in fact. Even though I thought I finished until I got here and saw that it was USA/TUBB. I had ToBB and thought - that's an odd name...
In fact, that section was a complete disaster!
I was cheering "ole" at my Olympics, so KeTZ's deli, and not giving AlOU were head-scratching, but stayed.
I never head of TUBB or ToBB.

Thank you Mr. Donaldson - a very dynamic puzzle.

dk 9:32 AM  

🌕🌕(2 Moons)

Questina, my favorite bumper sticker is from the movie Spaceballs: I ❤ URANUS. I may be persuaded to use: My 🍌 ❤ URANUS. I also noticed our little sentence ended with MYGOSH

Forgot the brand of the ortho shoes we all dreaded to wear in the 50s and 60s. My slightly pigeon toed sister had a pair and turned into a mathematician: CAVE PEDE

chefbea 9:50 AM  

Easy puzzle today...and fun.When I checked the posts from yesterday- as I always do every morning to see what I have missed- saw that there were 176!!!!

joho 9:57 AM  

This puzzle was off to a great start at NOHASSLE and lived up to its promise. No doubt SOLEA is obscure, but the crosses there are not.

I loved ALL the theme answers, very cheeky, especially AMSCRAY, BUZZOFF and MAKELIKEABANANAAND SPLIT.

I think XOX is fun but like it better when clued as a sign off on a love letter. @Rex, didn't you use XOX once in a puzzle? I seem to remember that for some reason.

Some of the fill also elicited XRATED comments which is always amusing.

Sam Donaldson, hope to SEEYA again real soon!

RnRGhost57 10:16 AM  

A fine way to start Wednesday. A tip o' the hat to you, Mr. Donaldson.

quilter1 10:31 AM  

Fun and easy. 'Nuff said.

Two Ponies 10:37 AM  

I thought all the slangy phrases were fun. Much easier than yesterday.
I think I'll go back and read the rest of yesterdays comments to see if the questions and mystery ever was resolved.

@Rex, Processing the end of Breaking Bad might take awhile. Unforgettable.

Nancy 10:39 AM  

Colorful and fun to solve. Once I got the first theme answer, it was pretty easy the rest of the way. But much better and more challenging than most Wednesdays.

tensace 10:53 AM  

British scientists may use KGS. But the unwashed and non-technical still prefer and use pounds and stones as well as miles (on the roadways) and inches and on and on. The metrification of the UK has been weak at best and frankly I can't imagine the need there or here. Just because something is readily divisible by 10 doesn't make it terribly useful or relevant. And if so, do you really want 10 hour days and 100 minute hours?

Steve J 11:02 AM  

@Z: Speak for yourself. I've been held captive for the the last year or better, and my captors force to do crossword puzzles, read about them and post comments here. It's torture. On the plus side, I now have puzzle-focused Stockholm Syndrome.

@AliasZ: Michael SAM isn't terribly obscure, as he was big news about a month ago, as he acknowledged he was gay before the NFL draft. In a few months, he'll be the first openly gay player in the league. Like Jason Collins, who recently got a TEN-DAY contract, that was sports news that crossed over into pretty heavy general news coverage.

Evan 11:15 AM  

This definitely had a lot of fun fill, and I enjoyed the puzzle overall -- MAKE LIKE A BANANA AND SPLIT is neat, plus it sorta reminded me of when Biff told Marty in "Back to the Future" to MAKE LIKE A TREE AND GET OUT OF HERE.

Still, the puzzle also had its share of short crap (like SSGTS crossing KGS). Much as I like BUZZ OFF as an answer, I think that whole section of the puzzle gets into the Scrabble-f***ing territory that Rex talks about.

@Two Ponies:

Here's the explanation behind Tuesday's puzzle.

Ramona Barbagallo 11:24 AM  

Be sure to watch the alternative ending to "Breaking Bad" on YouTube. Fans of "The Bob Newhart Show" and "Malcolm in the Middle" appreciate the 5 minute clip.

JTHurst 11:41 AM  

The more I think about Tuesday's puzzle, I would like to praise Rex in his restraint in commenting on the puzzle. I had no idea of the foofaraw caused by this puzzle until a post linked a Will Shortz interview.

For someone like me who doesn't know TED beyond United Airline promos and isn't a crossword puzzle insider, the bilious and acidic comments seemed extreme.

Therefore, I believe it was very gracious of Rex to exclude comments about the puzzle and let us neophytes either enjoy or dislike it on its own superficial merits.

Thank you.

Two Ponies 11:49 AM  

@ Evan, Thanks for the link. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole affair. I guess it would have been nice to be warned or hinted or anything to keep me from feeling like a pawn.

mac 11:53 AM  

Very nice Wednesday, dense and smart. I did have a little trouble figuring out "make like a".

Are the Prince Edward Islands anywhere near the former NWI?

Masked and Anonymo6Us 12:13 PM  

@4063 may snark now at some poor little weeject like XOX, but he'll feel bad(ISH) about doin it, later in the day.
o <-- teardrop.

The BANANA themer-phrase made this puz really take off. As @4063 sagely points out: "epic".

Mornin back at yah, @muse. This pairadoprokian dealy sounds like a good crossword idea. M&A must work on that, right after he learns to spell it good.

Other semi-magical moments, today:
ASOU - This is the rare (and precious) partial/weeject combo. This crosses the puz over into thUmbsUp glory.
SAM - This is the rare (and magical) constructioneer Easter egg. M&A has an upcomin Kpool Krossword with one of these dealies in it.
IRR TYE - which phonetically, sounds like another useless appendage garment that'll never catch on.

Starts of today's clues: ELTTGGZYPGAOSNW... etc. I think we can safely blow the All Clear sireen, this time.

Time to make like URANUS, and blow.
Hey. @muse. Is that one of them peardopekreakin jobbers?! Was afraid not.


Z 12:18 PM  
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Z 12:19 PM  

@tensace - Yeah! Sixteen ounces in a pound, twenty pounds in a stone, 100 stones in a ton is so much more useful and relevant than just adding zeroes. Same for the whole 12-3-220-8 progression that we all still use for distance. Going to a system based on exponents of ten will just make kids lazy in their studies. Slackers!

Ludyjynn 12:21 PM  

Enjoyed this easy, NO HASSLE Wed. outing. Like @Larry, initially thought JAP as YANK rival, but quickly self-corrected, realizing such a negative connotation would not be constructor's intent.

Enjoyed the theme; gotta SPLIT now.

Fred Romagnolo 12:28 PM  

Surprised at all the puns on Uranus accenting the 2nd syllable, if you think about it you can do things with accenting the 1st. Don't do Tues. puzzles, but all the vituperation is forcing me to take a look.

Lewis 12:33 PM  

I liked the theme and answers. The LONG of RUNALONG seemed appropriate for a marathoner.

Was that a record for # of comments yesterday?

The SE downs feel like the beginning of a joke. A SKIBUM, NOTARY, and OLDNAG went into a bar...

Two Ponies 12:35 PM  

@ Z, I thought a stone was 14 lbs.

GLaDOS 12:41 PM  

The cake is a lie.

Z 12:42 PM  

@Two Ponies - You're right, but I had a justifiable reason for the error, which wasn't my point but is still pretty relevant.

chefbea 12:43 PM  

And I still don't know who Ted is.???? Does he eat beets???

Steve J 12:47 PM  

@JTHurst: Good point about Rex not spoiling the trick, even though he clearly knew it. And I agree that the vitriol yesterday was way over the top. Yes, it was a bad puzzle (from my perspective, and from many others'). Was it the worst thing to happen ever? Hardly.

By the way, since a couple people have mentioned Yank/JAY: Can someone explain? Is a yank a type of bird that fights with jays? I had initially written in REB there, but quickly changed it. Never noticed that it evolved into JAY. I'm stumped (and I can't find reference to yank and JAY paired on Google, aside from references to crossword clues).

M and A Help Desk 12:55 PM  

@Steve J...
Think NY Yankees and Toronto Blue JAYs.

AliasZ 12:57 PM  

A few more "go away" phrases occurred to me:

Beat it, as Ben Franklin might: GO FLY A KITE
Buzz off, as a reality show participant might: GET LOST
Take a hike, like Jack might: HIT THE ROAD
Amscray, as a mobster might: GEDOUDDA HEA
Just leave, as a hockey team might: GET THE PUCK OUT OF HERE


Steve J 1:00 PM  

@M&A: Dear god, how did I miss that? Duh. And I call myself a baseball fan.

Milford 1:05 PM  

Wow, I thought I would join the convo last night about the Tuesday puzzle, but I was too exhausted after trying to read them all! I feel numb about the puzzle now.

Today's puzzle was very fun, although my favorite phrase, "Make like a tree, and leaf" was not included.

Liked the scrabbly-ness, and was also amused by the BANANA over URANUS. Thank goodness for crosses to get TYE, KOLAS, SOLEA, and AXION.

@Rex - the "Ozymandias" episode of Breaking Bad had me audibly sobbing in my living room. This has rarely happened. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to recover to watch the last couple episodes. Glad I did, though.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

@steve j... Enjoy and generally agree with your commentary. Thanks for the thoughtful insights.

NY Yanks and Toronto Blue Jays.

TED 1:25 PM  


DigitalDan 1:32 PM  

I wanted HIGGS for the particle. Guess timeliness wasn't a factor here.

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

"fewer" not "less"

Alby 2:14 PM  

As each theme answer became revealed, I could hear Biff from the "Back to the Future" series saying them. Either him or a bully in the Encyclopedia Brown books. How '80s.

Notsofast 2:43 PM  

Good, fun puzzle. Now I'm gonna make like a baby and head out.

Last Silver Bull Woot 3:10 PM  

@muse: this puz's for U. Hope I did it right. Day-um... doin that there magic part was terrible hard.

@others: OK to work, if U divulge UR time. Or not.

@Notsofast: har.


sanfranman59 4:10 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 10:04, 10:06, 1.00, 50%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:44, 6:14, 1.08, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Bob Kerfuffle 4:16 PM  

@Masked & Unanimous -

You knew I would jump to do your latest para-puzz. Can't report my exact time, because I was interrupted by a phone call inviting me to a cousin's 104th birthday, but 9 1/2 minutes is very close, no help.

(P.S. - Had a laugh at your deliberate (?) mis-spelling at 3 D. Can hear the coach saying, "There is no "I" in . . . . ") (Only mention this because lms is such a stickler.)

Outlaw M and A 4:31 PM  

@Bob K.: Spelling. Not a specialty of the House, in the M and A manor of speaking.

As always, no refunds.

Hey, here I go over the day-um limit, again, Sarah breath.


Sarah Breath II 4:42 PM  

@Bob K...
Man, if I had a nickel, for every time I've heard that 104-year-old cousin birthday excuse...

nice time, actually.

Anonymous 5:50 PM  

would someone please explain the hen answer? thanks.

Not Sarah Breath 5:57 PM  

I am madder than a wet HEN. Colloquial.

Kim Scudera 5:58 PM  

@Anon 5:50 -- from the expression "madder than a wet hen"

loren muse smith 6:51 PM  
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loren muse smith 7:01 PM  

@M&A – Yay! Loved the shout-out to me at 4A! And I totally fell for the misdirect at 14D. Elegant. 12A was your best P Phrase – nice! That and 17A remind me of your clue for REUSE the other day.

@Bob – I would've missed the misspelling. I'm not the stickler I strive to be. Mom delighted in calling me to tell me I used "here" instead of "hear" today.

Thanks for the Puz, Mr. 17A!

Tita 7:18 PM  

Haalp... How do I find the M&A puzzle??!

John V 7:32 PM  

Bringing up the rear -- travel day today.

Wanted LETSGO for 14D, so wound up with a hitch for ADDTO and AXION. Otherwise, good puz, typical Wed. Loved 56A, 63A and 64A. Good one, Sam!

Z 7:36 PM  
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Z 7:39 PM  
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Tita 7:42 PM  

Found it...
Har, @M&A - 14 minutes!
Thank u muchly.
And liked Keats so near to the Bard.
SPOILER ALERT (in a "this is NOT the answer kinda way")

Though I was guessing rrn at 1D.

Clueless in Texas 7:59 PM  

What was the secret message yesterday? Where was it in the puzzle?

okanaganer 8:28 PM  

@Clueless... see here. Message was the first letter of each clue.
Expect the video of David's talk to be available in a day or so here..

LaneB 8:55 PM  

Must have been an "easy" because I didn't have to suffer a DNF (unlike yesterday). As to yesterday, I am solidly in the camp of the many who hated it and felt it did not comply with the puzz rules--which have on occasion been suggested to me (upon rejection of a couple of my own constructions, which rejections were for good reasons otherwise justified.) That was one irritating Tuesday! (But then I'm kind of a sore loser when it comes to finishing.)

Ann Heil 9:06 PM  

Fun puzzle. I did not that it was not a Wacky Wednesday as we've been seeing. I guess yesterday was wacky enough. I did get my wacky fix with the Wednesday LA Times today - it's a good one.

sanfranman59 10:19 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 6:01, 6:15, 0.96, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 12:39, 8:20, 1.52, 100%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 223 Tuesdays)
Wed 10:17, 10:13, 1.01, 55%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:55, 3:59, 0.99, 36%, Easy-Medium
Tue 7:56, 5:11, 1.53, 100%, über-Challenging (highest ratio of 223 Tuesdays)
Wed 6:26, 6:14, 1.03, 59%, Medium

Anonymous 4:26 PM  

Interesting question about facial expressions. Ethology may have some answers.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

I wanted "EYEPIT" for 55 D so bad I could hardly stand it.

- Mike from Ohio

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Great puzzel Only problem is that Uranus is NOT ice giant, since it it totally gas. It's a gas giant

BedfordBob 12:15 PM  

For those commenting on Britain's use of the metric system.

"They are going to metric inch by inch."

DMG 2:49 PM  

Enjoyed this one. No problems once my reamS became FORMS. Loved AMSCRAY, haven't heard it in something like 60 years!

Thanks to those who explained all the fuss about yesterday's puzzle. I had tried looking at the first letter of the clues, but I just didn't see what was in front of me. A mathematician, not an artist, I saw "cobal" (programming language), not "cobalt", and the following "thorseam..." led me to think that wasn't the trick. Ah, well.

Two pairs 8's and 6's. Probably ought to fold.

rain forest 3:05 PM  

I kind of miss yesterday's puzzle and accompanying pyrotechnics.

However, this was a nice one with mucho theme material and some crackle. I wondered, though, that if the Garden of Eden tree is a FIG, where'd the apple come from? SNAKECHER? See, I do miss it. In honour of @Spacey--XOX--flag!


Dirigonzo 4:13 PM  

A puzzle that garners more than 200 comments and people are still talking about it the next day has to be some kind of xword phenomenom - I wonder if it will ever be used in any of the collections of puzzles the NYT publishes?

Today I questioned AXION and expected to find out here that it was wrong, but it was right. I also wondered about TYE (sorry @Tita, I guess I need to hang out with the square-rigger crowd more often to get the language down) but the crosses were solid. I always like Samuel A. Donaldson's offerings and this one did not disappoint.

@DMG - you better hang in there with your two pairs because I can't beat them.

Dirigonzo 4:27 PM  

@LongBeachLee - Blogger won't let me reply to the question you posed to me on the 3/14 puzzle so here's my reply in case you stop by again:
@lbl - I went back and checked my comment on that puzzle (I solve in "real time" on Saturdays) and the puzzle didn't give me much trouble. I think there's no accounting for what we may find "easy" or "hard" on any given day so I just rate them "fun".

Anonymous 5:04 PM  

As just one minor representative of La Mesa, CA, just chiming in to say thank you Sam D. for an easy, clever, normal, well put-together puzzle which brought all the vituperative mean-spirited parties of yesterday back to a more amiable state.

Ron Diego 2:PM PST 4/22

strayling 7:54 PM  

Loved the theme and the witty theme answers, but I got totally destroyed in the NW.


Yeah, klaatu barada nikto right back at ya.

Dirigonzo 9:02 PM  

@strayling - I might have shared your fate had I not been married to a dental hygienist for a while, but with PREMOLAR in place the crosses came pretty easily. The "Prayer Tower" was a flat out give-away for Oral Roberts University, but I'm with you on SOLEA - that puppy needed all of te crosswords. My sister lived in Florida where LANAIS are also common so I had some help there. That corner was the last to fall for me.

Mark M 4:20 PM  

I haven't seen the best "Make like a" phrase in any of the comments - Make like a duck and get the flock out of here".

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