White-crested ducks / SUN 6-22-14 / Summer weather stat / 2014 for Doublemint gum / Town on south shore of Long Island / Southern university whose newspaper is Hullabaloo

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Dime Store" — rebus puzzle where the "¢" sign (represented by an "I" in the Down and a "C" in the Across) must be written into ten different squares in the grid, always as the first letter in the letter string "CENT" in the Across answer—ten "CENT"s = a dime, hence the puzzle's title:

Theme answers:
  • ¢ENTENNIAL (23A: 2014, for Doublemint gum)
  • VI¢ENTE FOX (25A: Mexican president of the early 2000s)
  • ¢ENTRIST (40A: Middle-of-the-road)
  • IRIDES¢ENT (44A: Like mother-of-pearl)
  • RE¢ENT PAST (66A: Several days ago, say)
  • ¢ENTIPEDES (70A: Bugs that technically are misnamed)
  • PER¢ENTAGE (93A: Agent's cut)
  • TEN ¢ENTS (96A: Total value of the symbols created by the special crossings in this puzzle)
  • DE¢ENT MEAL (113A: Something square to eat?)
  • "I'M INNO¢ENT!" (116A: Defendant's cry)

Word of the Day: THI (29D: Summer weather stat.) —
Temperature-Humidity Index, or THI, a number used to indicate the discomfort caused by the combined effects of heat and moisture in the air. The formula used to calculate the index is designed to yield a value ranging from 70 to 80. In general, almost all persons are comfortable when the index is 70, and almost no one is when it is 80. In 1985, the National Weather Service officially adopted the Heat Index to replace the THI, but in some areas the THI is still given with summer weather data. (HowStuffWorks.com)
• • •

Did you read this interview with Liz Gorski last week (on the Ravishly.com website)? I forget if I linked to it here or just posted about it on Twitter and Facebook. Anyway, it's charming and interesting and well worth the read.

The "Challenging" part of my "Medium-Challenging" rating is entirely for the time it takes you to pick up exactly what is going on with the Across/Down, "I + C = ¢" thing. Once you get a feel for it, the puzzle plays pretty normal, maybe even a little on the easy side (since you know all those CENTS are coming down the pike). I'm a bit surprised to see this theme appear so soon after a very similar Sunday theme—Daniel Finan's DOLLAR$ AND ¢ENTS puzzle from last year, which I Loved, and which had not only the I/C rebus, but the I/S rebus (for the "$") as well. That puzzle appeared in the NYT less than a year ago (7/14/13), and while Liz's version is clearly not identical, and does have both the "Dime Store"/TEN¢ENTS angle and the "¢ENT" letter string angle (neither of which featured in last year's puzzle), still, it's a bit strange to repeat a basic core concept in so short a period of time.

Anyway, this puzzle looks pretty good on its own, less good when compared to Finan's masterpiece from last year. Once you pick up the concept, as I say, things get easy, and there's not a lot of oomph left in the grid. Nothing that's going to surprise or amuse you. Just more ¢ signs. There were bits here and there that I found entertaining, like the double-rebus answer PA¢NP¢LL (12D: Percocet, for one), or the phrase NO RELATION (28A: Tyler Perry, to Katy Perry, e.g.), which is common, but which I can't remember ever seeing before (nice clue on that one, too). But otherwise the puzzle felt pretty average, fill-wise. Good chunk of common crossword stuff, lots of RLSTNE words. An unfortunate pair of anatomical partials in EYE ON and EAR TO. A word I didn't know was a word (SMOOTHEN? Next you'll be telling me ENSMOOTHEN is a word… what's wrong with How is SMOOTHEN different from SMOOTH?). Most baffling answer was THI—I was happy to see that this is a standard of measurement that hasn't been used by the National Weather Service for almost 30 years; made me feel better about my ignorance. That is perhaps an initialism we should put out of its misery right bleeping here and now.

It's late and I smell like campfire and I want to go to bed, so I'm going to rattle off my

Puzzles of the Week 

for the last three weeks in pretty quick succession here.

First week of June: Patrick Blindauer's "Something Is Rotten in the State of Denmark" (patrickblindauer.com)—a puzzle you can get here for free (under "Play"). It's a toughie, so A. pay attention to the title, which is very important, and B. remember that the "Solution" is also available at his site (again, under "Play").

Second week of June: Merl Reagle's "The Homer That Never Happened" (Merl Reagle's Sunday Crosswords), an astonishing Sunday-sized puzzle about a familiar MYTH. Can't describe it much without giving it away. You'll want to do this one. Merl described it to me as more of a "killer find" than a "killer feat," but … well, you'll see. I see what he means, but he's being modest.

Third week of June: Caleb Madison's "Put the Gun Down" (American Values Club), a smart and entertaining oversized (18x19) offering. Tricky, funny, and very contemporary. Despite two short music answers that absolutely gave me fits (Because I Am Oldish), I found this one irresistible. Get it here for a buck (or just subscribe to AVC already)— or read about it here, at Crossword Fiend.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    allan 12:11 AM  

    Liked this puzzle, although I found it to be a bit on the easy side. I liked it even more after reading Rex's writeup. I never noticed that each of the across rebus answers had the word 'cents' in it.
    Nice job Liz, but what else do we expect.

    retired_chemist 12:13 AM  

    Medium. Liked the theme. Fill, sort of disappointing in places. ENROBE - who ever says that? ISM, SO A - crosswordese partials. I OWE - another d**n partial. All told, more good fill than bad though.

    Thanks, Ms. Gorski.

    jae 12:25 AM  

    On the easy side  for me too. Only erasure was jAws before TAIL.  Getting the theme fixed that. 

    Cute theme, breezy solve, not too many clunkers...SMOOTHEN, STEALER...liked it!

    Steve J 12:42 AM  

    I was definitely slowed by this one. Took me a long time to get the trick, but agreed that once it's figured out, most of the rest of the puzzle falls into place quickly.

    Liked NO RELATION and how NONE was clued. Kind of liked that 66D could fit either LATHER or REPEAT. At the same time, there wasn't a lot of zip or playfulness in this one.

    Agreed with @retired_chemist that there's some questionable fill in spots, SMOOTHEN being by far the worst (yes, real word, but not in use and does nothing that smooth as a verb doesn't already do). Also not in any real use: STEALER.

    Nicely executed theme mostly makes up for the dings, but this is a little bit below Liz's usual standards overall.

    The Usual Suspect 12:54 AM  

    Just a brief dedication to all the Francophiles in the room:

    Honi soit qui MALI pense.

    JFC 1:30 AM  

    SMOOTHEN leads to ENL. But a more common word would be SMOOTHEr which leads to ERL, which has been accepted a number of times. Is ENL so much better than ERL to justify SMOOTHEN? Or did Ms. Gorski just want to show off her vocabulary? Or did she have some other motive? It is curious....


    Moly Shu 1:30 AM  

    Cool concept that played easy for me. Like @SteveJ (as usual), lather before REPEAT and the lack of real zip is noticeable. My only problem occurred with POLA, had GOOs and EBRa, which gave me saLA. Finally remembered it's EBRO and then got POLA. Thing I know only from crosswords, SMEWS.

    Thank you @LG, very enjoyable Sunday.

    Bob Kerfuffle 5:57 AM  

    66 D: So I'm a guy, an older guy, but I still have some hair. I've always wondered: "Rinse, lather, REPEAT." Does anyone, male or female, actually REPEAT?

    pc 6:02 AM  

    No sir, I didn't like it. In order for this rebus thing to work for me the insertion should apply to the across and the down clues; otherwise you just have nonsense. "Smoothen"?? "Apish"?? "Trala"?? Oy gevalt.

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:02 AM  

    Just noticed I had finished with a wrong letter: 30 D, had ATTITTER. ("Nervously excited"? Not impossible.) Looked strange, but I went on and never looked back.

    chefbea 7:27 AM  

    Figured out that there was a C going across and an I going down. But couldn't figure out why?? What do C and I have to do with..10, dime store or cents??? Needed Rex to explain it to me.

    A fun puzzle...but smoothen?? My husband always uses sandpaper first on whatever he is going to paint. Guess he's smoothen.

    Leapfinger 7:46 AM  

    Forgive me if I fail to see the cORELATION between the TAIL and the dangerous end of the alligator. In my view, one good Whack! and I'd guess you'd be cent flying, and be well shot of the beast. One close encounter with the JAWS end, otoh, and the relationship is probably permanent, and results. by all reports, in a visit to the watery bottom until all struggles cease.

    Frankly, I couldn't shekel off this disturbing image, and it rially spoiled the entire solve pour moi. Some may think I'm inflating a thin nit, but I mint no harm, am shilling for no-one and not asking for truble. On the cointrary, I'm just tired of being nickel and dimed into submission, and will give no quarter on this.

    So sou me.

    Do not mean to HARASS Ms Gorski, who, as usual, sent my ECG ATWITTER. How did she know I AmaPOLA Negri fan?

    AnnieD 8:03 AM  

    I got naticked at TAL/LURIE...what the "L"!

    Carola 8:07 AM  

    Found it very tough to get into - stared a long time at the VICENTE FOX - PAIN PILL cross until the penny dropped. But even then, it took a while before I saw the other embedded CENTs and realized the crosses needed I's (like in ISLIP). The bottom half went faster. Enjoyed it, admired the array of different CENTs.


    r.alphbunker 8:13 AM  

    My two cents worth

    jberg 8:28 AM  

    Like others, I found it hard to figure out the theme. My problem was that 23A contains the whole dime -- CENT overlapping TEN -- but then IRIDESCENT doesn't, so I couldn't tell what was going on. I could eventually see that we weren't talking about the croc's FACE crossing an F-SLOT, but then I wanted an anagram of dime in the rebus, as in 'demi-centennial' -- even though that didn't work. Finally I started to get it with VICENTE FOX, but it took me even longer to figure that there must be 10 of those cent signs. After that my only trouble was 'ten percent' before PERCENTAGE.

    Unlike @Rex, I liked the paired EAR and EYE entries. I also liked the crossing ENRs of ENRAGE/ENROBE. But what I liked most of all was learning that there is another ERLE besides the creator of Perry Mason!

    We've added a Sunday morning yoga class to our routine, so that's all, folks!

    Anonymous 8:34 AM  

    Well, the difference between this puzzle and the Dollars and Cents puzzle was that there were no other C's in the grid besides the theme ones. On the other hand all of the theme entries in the other puzzle had to do with Wall Street or money, so that was clever, too. So similar themes but very different approaches.

    loren muse smith 8:34 AM  

    Hard for me! I had a dnf because I just didn't guess the L in the TAL/LURIE cross (Hi, @AnnieD)– both were such a mystery that I could have rationalized several letters there.

    No one has mentioned yet the biggest hold-up I had in figuring out the trick: since CENT is present in every themer, I was trying to cram the whole string in one square to be represented by the ¢ sign. I finally stopped trying to do that, and it got a lot easier.

    It didn't help that I had "I didn't do it" way before I saw the trick and hence I'M INNOCENT.

    @Questinia – I thought of you at 51D.

    Had "iradescent" before IRIDESCENT. *&^% schwa. Where's a spelling elixor when you need it?

    @Steve J – I agree on the clues for NO RELATION and NONE. I fell for both. For the longest time I was marveling over that fact that O'Toole had won nine Oscars and that I didn’t know that.

    @JFC – better for me would have been "smoothes/esl."

    @Bob – I rarely REPEAT.

    I kept going back to the HEAVE/WEAVE cross. In a big WHOOP the DO, she HEAVEd the WEAVE across the room.

    I still get a kick out of ISM's promotion to a full-fledged word, though for the life of me, I cannot imagine using it in a sentence. "So a stealer and a fink walk into a bar to argue their conflicting isms when three smews and an adder approach. . ."

    @r.alph – I love punny clues – the more the merrier!! Hard runt this morning. I didn’t know 2D (surprise, surprise), but I figured it out! Good job!

    @M&A – hard, hard, hard one yesterday! I got 1A, 9A, 10A, and 14A (I'm on to you there, buddy), but then everything slowed down. Impressive grid. Nine intersecting 7's. I'm playing around with grids to avoid just that kind of problem!

    I did read the article on our La Liz and enjoyed it very much. A treasure to Crossworld, for sure. Nice puzzle, Liz!

    Mohair Sam 8:36 AM  

    Very easy Sunday for us because we got the rebus quickly. Worked bottom/up on this one and first word was IAN, then quickly the IMINNOCENT fell into place: Confused / revealer clue search / aha!

    Pretty much zipped through (for us) after that and finished with brief argument as to whether she was POLA or oOLA Negri. Wife decided there was no Eugene O'Neil in the clue so POLA made more sense.

    @Rex - Thanks for the link to the Liz Gorski interview. Good stuff. I hadn't realized the "elevator" puzzle was hers - a true classic.

    Glimmerglass 8:39 AM  

    Hey, Bob K. I repeat. I thought you had to. There was a Seinfeld episode where Kramer breaks the rule, with grotesque consequences. Phoebe Buffet wrote a song with "Lather, rinse, repeat" in the chorus. (I'm in the shower and I'm writing a song. Stop me if you've heard it... And Tegrin spelled backwards is Nirget") I'm fine with ENROBE -- Shakespeare uses it. I'm not fine with SMOOTHEN -- maybe somebody's grandmother says "Smoothen the sheet before you put the blanket on," but no one smoothens with sandpaper.

    joho 8:39 AM  

    @Rex, I really wanted you end your write-up with, "A penny for your thoughts?"

    I always love a rebus and a Liz Gorksi puzzle so what's not to like? So much fun counting all the pennies to get to ten cents!

    Before I figured out the theme I confidently wrote in IdIdNtdoiT! before I got IMINNOCENT.

    Again, I'm loving all the pennies I've drawn on my grid, they sparkle just like this puzzle ... thanks, Liz, for a providing me with a delightful Sunday morning.

    joho 8:44 AM  

    @Hey, Loren, I hadn't read your comment as I was posting, now I'm thinking a lot of us must have had the same IdIdNtdoiT answer.

    Leapfinger 9:05 AM  

    AttaMuse, I also had O'Toole winning NINE times out of eight nominations. Then I realized he's good but not that good.

    Also thought FINK coulda been clued [One who drops a DIME]. If we're allowing ONEs in the clues...

    In line with the Snead/ Sneed kerfuffle, if MEESE were MEASE, we coulds had IOWA in place of I OWE, which makes me go kinda shivery.

    I SWEAR I'M LATE for almost everything, though I LEDA fairly boring life. But I RIDE SCENT only rarely, schwa enough. Wouldn't mind a RIDE in a STUS Bearcat, however.

    APISH tosh on all that. The day looms.

    r.alphbunker 9:08 AM  

    As a computer programmer I have always had problems with shampoo instructions that mention REPEAT because they do not tell you when to stop. It is an infinite loop.

    Ludyjynn 9:12 AM  

    Been under the weather the last couple of days, so did not post my half-assed attempts to finish Fri. and Sat. puzzles. Feeling a bit better today, I got very excited to see Ms. Gorski as the constructor. Got the theme right away, but sorry to say I just did not enjoy this overall, despite being a big fan of her work. Is it me or is it the fill?

    Maybe dragging my butt outside and harvesting first veggies of the season will improve my state of mind. Think I'll watch CBS "Sunday Morning" first. It always makes me feel optimistic.

    Z 9:28 AM  

    I took the special squares to be 1 cent, not the cent sign. Ten of them make a dime.

    Otherwise, Sunday.

    Captcha is something that looks vaguely Cyrillic with the number 15. Google desperation?

    Arlene 9:48 AM  

    This was the kind of puzzle I enjoy doing on a Sunday. Fun and no Googles. Just one error at the TAL/LURIE cross.
    One question - why is 103D Craving = JONES?

    Numinous 9:58 AM  

    @Arlene, I first heard the term "jones" in the 60s from some people I knew who were not the most savory.

    Merriam-Webster's definition of "jones"

    RnRGhost57 10:05 AM  

    Good fun on a beautiful morn in northern Cali. Thanks E Gorski.

    Stanzi 10:06 AM  

    I read through all the comments to find the issue I had....JONES as an answer to craving. Does it have something to do with keeping up with the Joneses? Still makes no sens to me.

    Kenneth Wurman 10:09 AM  

    I felt "leavened" by this puzzle..

    Kenneth Wurman 10:11 AM  

    People who crave things (like drugs) have the Jones...

    Tim 10:16 AM  

    This was a dumb puzzle. If you want to use the "cent" sign, then don't spell out "cent" in every answer! Also, it sucks for iPad users, who don't have a cent sign. The iPad app accepted a rebus of IC in each of those squares, which is pretty inelegant. I really hated this puzzle. I also didn't care for the crossing of TAL and LURIE, since neither of these are household names, but that's just my ignorance.

    Anonymous 10:28 AM  

    Fabulous puzzle, even though 96 across was my first answer. Love EG, love rebuses. A fine Sunday indeed.

    Blue Stater 10:47 AM  

    Not up to Liz's usual standard, I thought. SMOOTHEN is just out. And, as someone else pointed out, there are good alternatives. She didn't have to ruin an otherwise good puzzle that way.

    Anonymous 10:56 AM  

    @LMS-I too would have ended up with a DNF at TAL/LURIE had it not been for my recollection of the great 80's-90's band the Lounge Lizards featuring the brothers John and Evan Lurie."L" was the only letter I could think of at that moment. Had I been watching documentaries about Nobel Prize winning physicists in the 80's rather than listening to jazz, i'm sure I would have ended up with TAc/cURIE, resulting in a DNF.

    EdFromHackensack 11:01 AM  

    It bugs me that people judge a puzzle based on problems they may have with an app. These puzzles are first and foremost designed to do on paper. If you choose to do en electronic version, well, that's the price you pay. I loved this puzzle though it was a struggle until I got the twist. It was one of those puzzles that I showed the family when I was done. Thanks Liz!

    JFC 11:13 AM  

    @Loren, that was my first thought, too, except SMOOTHES is not a word (SMOOTHS is and so is SOOTHES). And there is no EDL, so SMOOTHED is no good. Hence, SMOOTHER and ERL, ETC.


    Hartley70 11:20 AM  

    Allison Lurie IS a name in my household, but smoothen not so much. That "n" became an "r" on my grid and I never even noticed "erl". In my defense the Sunday grid is sooo tiny on my phone that those 3 letter answers need a magnifying glass. Also, IC didn't work on the iphone app. It has to be CI which has a sneaky quality I appreciate.

    AliasZ 11:31 AM  

    My favorite aspect of the theme was that CENT was present in all ten of them answers, and not always in the original meaning of the Latin word for hundred or hundredth. I liked VICENTE FOX, IRIDESCENT, CENTRIST, RECENT PAST, DECENT MEAL and I'M INNOCENT more than the others. Realizing all the CENT words, and the fact that there were no C's in the grid except when followed be ENT, helped a great deal in making this one of the easier rebus puzzles by our divine Liz Gorski.

    I also liked the EAR TO the street and EYE ON the prize pair. I was waiting for the nose to the grindstone with a tongue in cheek. But STEALER would have been better served by a different clue: "Ricky Henderson, most notably" or "Mephistopheles, according to legend." The former a STEALER of bases, the latter, of souls.

    ForensiC ENTomology for determining the time of death is a fairly reCENT development. However the liCENTious use of adolesCENT words and phrases, and the acCENT we place on rooting out said evil, has been around for CENTuries.

    What's wrong with SMOOTHEN? From M-W: "SMOOTHEN the edges of the two parts before trying to join them together." I heard and used the word innumerable times. If LIGHTENER is OK, SMOOTHENer is also.

    Why is that creepy guy LINGERING in the lingerie DEPT.? Trying to be a STEALER of 1SLIP.

    @Leapy, loved your dizzying diatribe spangled with hidden fillérek, but not a pfennig anywhere.

    An ingenious puzzle that offered me a very satisfying solving experience. Thank you Liz.

    Here is the closing part of Act 3 of Aida by Giuseppe Verdi. The action takes place on the banks of THE NILE.

    Steve J 11:34 AM  

    @Tim: I hadn't noticed that CENT was spelled out in every answer. Combined with the cent sign, that does seem a little redundant.

    Meanwhile, the app's inability to handle special characters is not a fault of the puzzle; it's a fault of the technology. I always solve on my iPad, but I accept that I'm going to have some issues from time to time as a result until developers come up with a better solution to various puzzle tricks.

    @Loren: Interesting that a schwa tripped you up in IRIDESCENT. I pronounce that second I like the leading I in imitate. There must be some regional variances in pronunciation for that one. Which makes sense now that I think of it, since I've heard imitate (which has the same vowel sound in both I's when I say it, and in how dictionaries list the pronunciation) said as im-uh-tate in some areas.

    Anominous2 11:43 AM  


    I figured it had to be TAL/LURIE because both of them cross either RET or RHETT, which is close enough to RED to make me think of Colorado, ergo I TALLURIEd.

    otoh, the Curie query makes the LURIE'd leery.

    mathguy 12:07 PM  

    When I started doing crosswords, they seemed to be filled with rivers in Europe, so seeing EBRO in today's was nostalgic.

    Did the puzzle last night while watching The Big Country on our PBS station. William Wyler, a young Gregory Peck (1958), Charles Bickford, Burl Ives (who won Best Supporting Actor). It worked well because neither the movie nor the puzzle required my full attention.

    jdv 12:15 PM  

    Med-Challenging. Puzzle was fine. My biggest problem occurred at 84a AME crossing SHIES and MASTHEAD. Couldn't remember AME and didn't know MASTHEAD. Recommend all who got tripped up by Mikhail TAL to commit him to memory, you will see him again (and again). Never heard of Alison LURIE. Wasn't crazy about the i.o.u clue. Is i.o.u. an initialism or something else?

    mac 12:35 PM  

    It took me a while to figure out the theme, then it was pretty smooth sailing. I still think it's not the cent sign, but 1 c(ent) in every theme answer; (ent) would be superfluous.

    I must have read all Agatha Christie novels, so it was pure luck that I picked The Nile right away. No problem with smoothen.

    I've been told that the second shampoo and rinse is not necessary with modern products.

    Casco Kid 12:42 PM  

    How did the DNF happen this Sunday? No googles. 2:25 to get the rebus. 2:35 to get the theme. 2:45 to finish the puzzle with 7 errors. ADANO/rON was a Natick I guessed right on, albeit I had RIPEr rather than RIPeN crossing above, and rON Reagan was a [partisan leader?] AMa/SHIaS wa as Natick I guessed wrong on. So it goes.

    Medium Challenging. Sure. I'll spare you all the ways I tried to make the I or C work in both directions. I finally figured it out at IAN McKellan and IMINNOCENT.

    Leapfinger 1:39 PM  

    @AliaSZ, thanks, I was just idly flipping through my coin collection.
    As you see, the grid provides only a T-SLOT, so no Z-SLOT for my zloty, and similarly no place to pfit my pfennig. what can I say? The pen go where the pen can.

    I was waiting for your centerpiece, and am a bit surprised you didn't mention the centaur in Central Park. Not that I'm complaining. :)

    Also pleased with your musical selection; I'd halfway expected to see TARSIfal, and am not really a big Wagner fan.

    Back to tend to my mouton, now

    Tim 2:41 PM  

    In the past, I would always get a warning when the puzzle had elements that couldn't be solved using the apps. Not this time. My main gripe, still, is the redundancy of the cent symbol and the word "cent". A more clever puzzle would have used answers that incorporated the word "cent" as represented by the cent symbol and not both the symbol and the word spelled out, which makes no, um, sense,

    Fred Romagnolo 2:51 PM  

    @MathGuy: you forgot Charleton Heston. I did balk at IOWE, when "i o" was in the clue; seems to break a traditional rule. I never figured the combo of i & c was a cent sign, but did realize "c" across & "i" down was the gimmick so I just entered i/c in the square. (I solve the old-fashioned way, on paper). SMOOTHEN naturally occurred to me; I'm an old time Shakespearean. I got the gimmick with IAN. JONES is a completely new thing to me.

    Anonymous 2:53 PM  

    @anominous2-11:43 AM

    With all this talk of the Lounge Lizards, Madame Curie and spellings similar to a town in Colorado, I am now certain to remember the last name of "Chess champ Mikhail". Hoping to not think of Rhett, ret. or red next time I see this clue. Crap, now I'm confused again. My little brain hurts. Is TAL tall by any chance. Damn, I'm really screwed now.


    Melodious Funk 3:22 PM  

    There's an apocryphal story I heard many years ago about shampoo. I don't recall the manufacturer, they were having sluggish sales of their shampoo line and wanted to increase them(of course), so they put it to their people to devise a way to do that with either product enhancement or selling techniques.

    Turned out that the marketing folks suggested adding one word to the instructions: REPEAT. Sales doubled.

    And if you believe that, the Tappan Zee Bridge can be yours for a song. We hear test pilings being driven into the bedrock for the new bridge, and I know the old one will be available soon.

    LaneB 3:28 PM  

    Once I managed to figure out the gimmick, things went along pretty quickly [for me, of course.] This made for a very happy Sunday-- so now I can relax and take in both the Giants game AND the USA in the World Cup. Does it get anybetter than this?

    Anominous2 4:04 PM  

    @Anon 10:56-2:53

    I don't know about Mikhail's elevation, but have heard that his brother M.N.'s taller. [cheez!]

    If all else fails, think of the William TAL Overture, cuz you can always bank on the Swiss for 'alp.

    Lewis 5:03 PM  

    @loren -- loved the clues for 14A and 5D on your latest runt...

    mathguy 5:18 PM  

    @Fred Romagnolo: I find it easy to forget Charleton Heston, and I'm not talking about his politics.

    jae 6:11 PM  

    @jvd's advice about committing TAL to memory is spot on. I've seen him quite a bit in puzzles (especially in BEQ's) and that was helpful today. That said, I've actually read the book (it won a Pulitzer) and was reasonably sure about the L. TAL just made it a certainty.

    Anonymous 6:16 PM  

    Spoiler Alert for Patrick Blindauer's puzzle:

    This is really easy--65D is a gimme for old Unix nerds, and supplies the essential clue. "rot13" is a utility that works as the hint describes. 13 is important because applying it twice yields the original letter string. Its primary use in the old days seems to have been to lightly encrypt and decrypt racy jokes in that Usenet newsgroup.

    So one can ignore the gibberish in the quotes from "Hamlet." At the end it turns out that the operator applied was actually "rot10", which does not have the encrypt/decrypt property that rot13 does. Only this variant makes the puzzle difficult.

    ahimsa 6:36 PM  

    I loved this puzzle! I didn't care that it was fairly similar to the Daniel Finan puzzle from last year (loved that one, too!).

    There was definitely some confusion early on but once I figured out that "C plus I" equals a ¢ symbol (although it was a CI rebus in my online solving software, would not accept the ¢ symbol) then it was smooth sailing. The "Dime Store" title helped me out or it would have taken a lot longer.

    I noticed while solving that the ¢ was the start of CENT for each theme entry. But I had not noticed that there were no other Cs in the puzzle. That's great!

    While solving this puzzle using software I thought about how this is one of those puzzles that's probably better with pen and paper. The "writeover" is actually the correct answer (reminds me of the crossed out puzzle recently).

    Oh, if only all writeovers could so easily transform themselves into correct answers instead of resulting in messy, barely legible grids. That's one reason I finally switched to software. :-)

    Re: puzzle of the week, I also recommend Merl Reagle's Sunday puzzle. Lots of fun.

    Anonymous 8:10 PM  

    For those who complained about having the C/I rebus in the word CENT:

    Haven't you ever seen the word CENT written with a 'cents sign'? (Or 'dollar' writen with a $in place of the LLs? This woul look more elegant if I could find the dang code for the 'cents siymbol', but I think you can visualize it. Do$ars looks better written than typed, because the written form has two verticals.

    DO$$ars to doughnuts, that ought to clarify the intent.

    On Borrowed Time 8:56 PM  

    Formerly known as anonymous 10;56-2:53

    @anomino u's 2?
    I have been lurking here for 6 years. First posts today.
    Is it possible that the legendary M&A has responded to an anonymouse? If I have misidentified you, do not correct me. However, if u are up to it could i just get a quick "har" for confirmation. 3 and ouuut.

    lawprof 9:33 PM  

    Medium/challenging seems about right. I nibbled away at this one all day. Started early in the morning. Put it down. Went for a bike ride. Did a little more. Had lunch. Chipped away again. Watched U.S. - Portugal soccer (sorry, futbol) game (sorry, match). Finished late this pm.

    Caught the CENT across themes early on, but didn't see the I's coming down until later. Then I simply thought that the crossing squares contained both a C and an I, which made for a pretty ugly grid, until the lightbulb appeared. (Don't we all love those aha moments?)

    Thought I was going to hate this one (and I hate to hate a Liz Gorski puzzle) until I caught the cent sign rebus and it all came together. Another delight from my favorite constructor. Thank you.

    (Had to refresh the captcha six times before one came up that was vaguely recognizable. Still don't know if I've got it, but here goes....)

    Charles Flaster 10:37 PM  

    Easy finish because it came at 1 down and 23 across. After it was gotten puzzle flowed. Love ECG's work and this was no exception. No real aha moments but there were some very good common sense(not puzzle sense) answers_---NO RELATION AND DECENT MEAL.

    sanfranman59 1:35 AM  

    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 6:36, 6:04, 1.09, 83%, Challenging
    Tue 7:54, 8:46, 0.90, 20%, Easy-Medium
    Wed 8:35, 9:40, 0.89, 25%, Easy-Medium
    Thu 18:06, 17:32, 1.03, 60%, Medium
    Fri 20:16, 21:06, 0.96, 43%, Medium
    Sat 25:17, 25:21, 1.00, 51%, Medium
    Sun 27:58, 28:02, 1.00, 52%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:26, 3:55, 1.13, 91%, Challenging
    Tue 5:07, 5:21, 0.96, 34%, Easy-Medium
    Wed 5:46, 6:08, 0.94, 34%, Easy-Medium
    Thu 11:23, 10:40, 1.07, 61%, Medium-Challenging
    Fri 14:44, 13:26, 1.10, 67%, Medium-Challenging
    Sat 19:12, 16:56, 1.13, 77%, Medium-Challenging
    Sun 22:05, 20:13, 1.09, 69%, Medium-Challenging

    Alan 3:36 PM  

    Many years ago the devilishly comic duo of Claven and Finch, on WNEW, introduced THI during an incredibly hot summer as the "Temperature Hostility Index" and provided daily examples which were real and uproariously funny. The concept could probably be reintroduced with little difficulty at finding examples.

    soopersizeme 2:49 AM  

    My first post, although I have been doing the crossword for 3 years. I have only been able to finish one without help in that time. (I framed it.)
    I liked this one, even if I did not complete it missed only 5 words. Also, for 63A I had BADSCENT because it worked with 64D!!!

    Anonymous 4:15 PM  

    I guess you have to be of a certain age to remember THI,and I am !

    Anonymous 2:30 AM  

    Are they designed for paper, really? And, did you use a pencil, too?
    A contemporary puzzle writer should be aware of the limitations of modern technology. What do you do when faced with a rebus square?

    paulsfo 2:46 AM  

    @Anonymous at 8:10 PM
    Usually I just find the symbol or character I want online someplace and then just copy and paste it.
    e.g., ¢

    spacecraft 11:06 AM  

    First, I must address a concern left over from yesterday, then I'll tackle today's offering.

    Due to some glitch, my usual early post got lost in the shuffle; later I reposted but too late to be read. But I feel I have to say this so that at least a few hardy syndi-souls can have an EARTO it: While I enjoyed a very difficult solve, I object strenuously to OFL's blog, which contained a string of obscenities, ostensibly to explain who NEKO Case is. I don't care who she is; I don't care if I never again hear that name. No one should have to hear ANYTHING from that foul mouth. Shame on the constructor for including it in the grid, and double-shame on @Rex for subjecting us to this filth. If ever I actually threw a flag, this is the time.

    On to pleasanter things. I'm fast becoming aware: Gorski is good. I had a hangup right off in the NW, unable to reconcile 1d with 23a. I one way, and C the other. Well then, put 'em both in! That makes ... wait for it ... cents! Wasn't quite sure how the "DIME" in the title related, until I got to the revealer clue. Very clever--as always, my dear Liz.

    One nit: "Part of i.o.u." = IOWE. But the i. in fact stands for...I. Isn't that a no-no, having the same element in the clue as in the answer? Just askin.'

    Another near-flag is EYEON. Your saying, if it please the court, is "EYES ON the prize." The plural is important, since it rhymes with "prize." No one ever says "EYE ON the prize."

    On a 21x21, there are bound to be a few spots that need to be SMOOTHENed (ouch!), but in a Gorski, they are few and far between. Thumbs up.

    2304 = 9: a natural! "Neuf a la banc!"

    Dirigonzo 3:46 PM  

    I stumbled on to the ¢ gimmick at the top of the grid, figured out from the title there would probably be ten of them and the rest was relatively trouble-free. I needed lucky guesses at ABRO/POLA and TAL/LURIE but the xword gods were with me (highly unusual). Re the summer hair LIGHTENER - isn't that called "the sun"?

    Z 7:55 PM  

    @spacecraft - that little picture of a twitter exchange was hot news on May 23 and 24, the day of original publication was May 24. I don't think even Shortz has the god-like foresight to see that sort of synchronicity. Also, many many many people found Ms. Case's response to Playboy laudable. I know this May seem unfathomable, but the F-bomb is well on it's way to being, for millennials and younger, little worse than "geez" is for my generation. It also works on several levels when someone marginalizes your work because of your gender, especially if that "someone" is playboy.

    Anonymous 3:29 PM  

    Crossing two names at 74 down and 86 across pissed me off. There's no way to deduce the cross letter if you don't know the names.

    Anonymous 5:56 PM  

    If you live in Texas, you hear the weatherman talk about THI almost any day the temperature is above 90 degrees.

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