Architect Louis / THU 10-9-14 / Comic Cenac formerly of Daily Show / Subject of National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius / Mil mess personnel / Feature of Polyphemus from Odyssey / Bygone brand in shaving aisle /

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: no Acrosses / Downs — clues are just numbers, and when a number applies to both an Across and a Down, the answer is Across + Down

Word of the Day: Louis KAHN (38D: Architect Louis) —
Louis Isadore Kahn (born Itze-Leib Schmuilowsky) (March 5 [O.S. February 20] 1901 – March 17, 1974) was an American architect, based in Philadelphia. After working in various capacities for several firms in Philadelphia, he founded his own atelier in 1935. While continuing his private practice, he served as a design critic and professor of architecture at Yale School of Architecture from 1947 to 1957.
From 1957 until his death, he was a professor of architecture at the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. Kahn created a style that was monumental and monolithic; his heavy buildings do not hide their weight, their materials, or the way they are assembled. Louis Kahn's works are considered as monumental beyond modernism. Famous for his meticulously built works, his provocative unbuilt proposals, and his teaching, Kahn was one of the most influential architects of the 20th century. He was awarded the AIA Gold Medal and the RIBA Gold Medal. At the time of this death he was considered by some as "America's foremost living architect."
• • •

The puzzle is clean enough, but the whole thing felt like a waste of time. I don't understand the appeal of this puzzle. Yes, I see, you have done this thing with the cluing that is unusual. But basically the only real point of interest in the puzzle is the Across/Down pairings, CASH / CROP and JEAN / JACKET and so on. And with nothing to tie them together, no … hook or revealer or meta or anything, the whole thing felt like a pointless exercise. Fill is unremarkable except for PARASKI (cool, original) and SKINNY DIP (not the answer so much, but the clue, for sure—63: Be unsuited?). ONE EYE and KPS and a few other answers are pretty subpar. Yesterday, the theme was tight, it made sense, it was well executed, so the unremarkable fill was not an issue. Here, the theme is unremarkable (it's more physical peculiarity than theme), and yet its density puts terrible stress on the grid, resulting in mediocre fill. Since theme answers are boring as answers in their own right, and since there's not very much good non-theme fill to grab our attention, MPAA and OEDS and HEMA and KIP and ABED and TRA and LDOPA etc. and such stand out. And irk.

Goes without saying (though it shouldn't) that this gimmick is largely lost on the (large and ever-growing number of) people who solve on-screen. I had heard that the puzzle had some element that wouldn't be as impressive in AcrossLite, so I solved at the NYT site, but all that got me was a clunkier interface. Because you don't see the clues laid out in space, and because clues appear right over the grid depending on where your cursor is in the grid, the whole "no Across/Down" thing doesn't really register. I don't think solving in the paper would've made much difference, except I'd've noticed the clue gimmick quicker. Feeling of pointlessness would likely have remained. I had no real trouble with this except at the very end, where I had Real trouble filling out the little western portion. Couldn't get YOLK from [White counterpart] for a long time, even with YO- in place, and couldn't remember if it was BUNSON or BUNSEN / BURNER, and never heard of KAHN, and think of LATE as a word much much much much more often used at the beginning of pregnancies than at the end of them. So I stood still for a bit. Then YOLK came to me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Whirred Whacks 12:02 AM  

Tonight I got a "double-dose" of Joel Fagliano: the MiniPuzzle and the Main Event!

I especially liked the interlocking of CAPE COD with Homer Simpson's POWER PLANT. I also liked the clue for 63 across: "Be unsuited" for SKINNY DIP (which brought back some good memories). [Agree with Rex on this one.]

A better clue for 16 across would've been:

The program sold with the promises

"If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor!"
"If you like your plan, you can keep your plan!"
"It'll save the average family $2,500 a year!"

Casco Kid 12:06 AM  

My game, such as it is, was off today. I thrashed through this one, hunting and pecking at clues for about 25 minutes, then stasis for another 20 minutes, then death. I ran aground in the NW and Center. CASH CROP did not occur to me. The clue [Put on a scale] put me on a mechanical bull and threw me pretty far. RATE did not occur. PARASKI as an extreme winter sport? I committed to heliSKI, to my certain demise. I had to cheat on the above to finish the grid.

OEDS as clued [Meaningful sets] was meaningless here until the post-mortem. BREADBOXES as [Place where wheat is stored?} still seems wrong. In the midst of all this uncertainty, the normally gettable ["Sure, go ahead"] FEEL FREE was blowin' in the wind.

As @Z pointed out earlier this evening, Shortz is rarely wrong, but I thought for sure CAPE COD was wrong as [Where the Pilgrims first landed in the New World]. In fact, the Mayflower did moor in Provincetown Bay and the Pilgrims explored the Cape before picking the mainland/non-Cape spot of Plymoth as a site to build on, so CAPE COD is correct, and the Plymouth Rock myth is well and truly exposed.

Tough cluing. DNF in NW and Center by a mile.

Tommy C 12:17 AM  

Clueing CASH/CROP with Corn or Cotton makes no sense. A cash crop is something you grow to sell rather than use. If you grow corn to feed your hogs, it's not a cash crop, your hogs are, unless you eat all of them yourself.

I know, I tried to raise a cash crop once. Built my own hydroponic system, had a nice greenhouse with auxilliary lighting and heat for an optimal growing environment. Somehow I never had any crop left over to sell though. Somehow, all the profits went up in smoke. I still made money off the effort though, as "Up in Smoke" turned out to be useful in another endeavor.

jae 12:18 AM  

Easy-medium for me too and thanks to @Just a heads up from yesterday for the heads up warning.  I printed out the PDF version, but it was pretty obvious what was going on.    Only erasure was sign before OMEN. 

Nice to see WYATT Cenac show up.  I always enjoyed his work on The Daily Show. 

Perhaps a tad to easy for a Thurs., but a fun solve.  Liked it better than Rex did.

George Barany 12:23 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle by Joel Fagliano which I solved the way it was intended, on hard copy. Theme was not difficult to pick up, and I have nothing but admiration for the constructing skills needed to make it work. Even willing to overlook the plural of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). BUNSEN BURNER especially made me want to rush back to the laboratory, though CARROT CAKE had me thinking of taking a break for dessert.

Funny that @Rex would pick Louis KAHN as his word of the day, since I found this a complete gimme. Just earlier today, I posted a sports-themed puzzle that has the architect's middle name as an answer word, although (with an assist from Martin Herbach) it was clued a different way. But what I think might really amuse this crowd is the saga of Kahn's personal life, which was even the basis of a fascinating 2003 documentary. The link I have provided tells plenty enough.

wreck 12:28 AM  

I got the warning that the on-line solve was going to be missing something the print version offered.
Well, I did my mine on the ipad app as usual and completed it with no real difficulty. After I finished, I looked at the NYT on-line app as well as across-lite app, the Puzzazz app, and the "print version" -- they were all a little different, but not really anything that would help or hinder you in any way.
The print version had no "Across" or "Down" delineations and the ipad app simply had a "-" where Across and Down clues were the same.
Once again, I think Rex was right on the money. Once you figured out what was going on - it was very easy. There was no "wow" factor as nothing was really themed or related to one another.

Steve J 12:48 AM  

Got the trick early, and found the solving experience to be pretty blah and mechanical. Wanted there to be something here other than crossing words sharing one clue whenever they shared a starting square. Unfortunately, there wasn't.

John Child 12:59 AM  

I appreciate the interesting theme idea, but the answers didn't excite me enough. Must send regrets.

Anoa Bob 2:48 AM  

The theme underwhelmed me, but some nice touches here and there made the solve worth the price of admission.

I long ago put SKINNY DIP on my bucket list, and you should too. Multiple times.

If you want to make a word nerd get out of his chair and do a standing back flip, just drop ETYMON in your grid. My web cam captured the moment.

HAIKU fan here, so that entry and it's lovely clue was a real treat.

The center put a DNF on me, especially WYATT crossing ROALD.

TWEEDLE? Really?

Anonymous 2:51 AM  

@Tommy C

Surely most growers of corn grow it to sell it. Large commercial farms grow acres and acres of it, far more than they could ever use themselves.

chefwen 2:55 AM  

Wasn't going to be fooled after Sunday's puzzle and caught on right away with CASH CROP.

Loved CARROT CAKE which I have made a hundred+ times. Best recipe out of The Silver Palate Cookbook over aBEET which I use in my "Absolutely Devine Devil's Food Cake" out of the Dessert Lover's Cookbook. To die for.

Went through this one very quickly and thought it was going to be as easy as yesterdays. Came to a halt at the BREAD/BOXES/TWEEDLE (had TWEEtLE) area, that took some time to sort out, but sort it out we did.

I guess the real tough stuff will be incoming.

Roy Leban 3:01 AM  

@wreck: The Puzzazz app always presents the Print Edition. Today, that meant a single clue list, with proper highlighting -- clue 1 is linked to both the Across and Down parts of the clue. Only Puzzazz got this right.

I liked the puzzle, though I agree it was pretty quick solve (until I froze on FREEZE FRAME). Although it wasn't a "wow" puzzle, I enjoyed it.

jae 3:51 AM  

Apparently Jon Stewart was incapacitated on Tues. so, instead of an interview with Bill O'Reilly, Jason Jones and Samantha Bee interviewed WYATT Cenac. Coincidence...?

Hartley70 5:52 AM  

What wreck said. I only used the app so I don't know what I was missing, but once I saw CAPE COD and CARROT CAKE right off the bat, it was pretty much a done deal. @chefwen mmmm Chicken Marbella! I could have some for breakfast.

Hartley70 6:25 AM  

The back story link on Kahn by @George Barany is great. I've always loved The Yale Center for British Art.

Moly Shu 6:54 AM  

Agree with the underwhelming and easy sentiments. Hand up for liking HAIKU, hi @AnoaBob. Also heliSKI first like @Casco, but fixed later by Mr. Chong's CASH CROP.

Weeks been unusually easy, probably gonna catch an ass-kickin tomorrow.

joho 8:06 AM  

Wow, @Rex, I couldn't disagree more with your take on this puzzle! Easy, yes, but "a waste of time" and "pointless a exercise???" I thought it was thing of beauty and a delight to solve.

I quickly got the theme at CARROTCAKE then went right back up to the beginning to make sense of CASHCROP.

Finding all the rest was really fun and mindboggling as to how Joel was able to pull it off.
The swath of theme answers falling from CAPECOD down to FREEZEFRAME is beyond impressive to me, especially with all the interlocking letters in FEELFREE, BREADBOXES and FREEZEFRAME ... all fresh phrases to me.

Am I the only one who sees the genius in this?

Thank you, Joel! I hope you had your fingers in your ears and were repeating, "LALALALA" while reading @Rex's write up!

NCA President 8:12 AM  

I solved on the NYT site and just tabbed through the clues, I didn't even notice the conceit until well into the game when I actually looked over at the clues and saw no across/down separation. FWIW, on the site, when a clue is connected to another clue, the corresponding answer is shaded, so for instance, when you're sitting on 1A, 1D is automatically associated with it. So early on I caught on to what was going on...and I kept expecting some twist eventually, which never came.

Someone please tell me how HIKE = Snap? The K was my last fill because I refused to believe that "Be a fall guy" would be RAKE. The autumnal/lecherous double entendre seemed tortured to me. I eventually succumbed and put the K in there...then the little jazz jingle played and done.

So I'd heard too that this puzzle was going to have some visual quirk that would only work in print, so I was braced for another E=mc2 type puzzle. So I got off to a slow start expecting the worst. After filling in a good bit of random answers, it was clear that nothing bizarre was at play. Then I saw the lack of across/down clues and just sorta shrugged.

So today a Thursday puzzle happened.

Debra 8:14 AM  

I thought this was lots of fun. Cute and clever.

Moly Shu 8:18 AM  

@NCAPrez, think football. Hike, snap. When the center delivers the ball to the QB.

Susan McConnell 8:30 AM  

Felt like kind of a chore. The first themers I got were CASH CROP, CAPE COD, & CARROT CAKE, so I was prepared for them all to start with C.

Casco Kid 8:30 AM  

@moly I've officially requested a box highlight feature
(Circle, coloration, something, anything) from the NYT App 2.0 team. My request was officially logged. I'm sill using Magmic.

But! I had occasion to use Puzzazz on this week's AVCXW, and the experience on my iPad was the best yet. Finger-trace to enter letters. Plenty of annotating power. I recommend it.

This week's AVCXW was a rule breaker from Tyler Hinman. Clever. Odd. I finished with 8 errors and an ornate misconception of the trick, because "I didn't know you could do that." 2 hrs.

NCA President 8:34 AM  

@Moly Shu: thanks! That's so funny...after I posted that I went to my favorite football message site, read all about my favorite team, then checked back here and saw that in football.

Wow. Sometimes a guy can't see the forest for the trees. I was thinking "snap" as in easey peasey...and HIKE as in a long way to walk. But now my eyes have been opened.

Mohair Sam 8:37 AM  

Didn't love it, didn't hate it. Printed out the Across Light version but still had little problem identifying the theme.

Zipped through most of it until I read "driving" for "diving" in 66a. Hence the erstwhile gimme PolE (position) cost us a ton of time and had us thinking natick at the H in EHUD who we'd forgotten. When wife said "diving" out loud I realized the error and: PIKE, HAIKU, done.

Loved the SKINNYDIP clue, YOLK was good too. Could there be a clumsier way to clue OBAMACARE? I mean any two or three words around Sebelius would do. What a great crossword name, Sebelius, wonder if she's been in the NYT puzz yet.

@Rex's point about solving this one on paper vs. online is well taken. I solve online on rare occasion and am surprised how much more difficult it feels.

AliasZ 8:42 AM  

Uniclue reminded me of unibrow, and a Carol Burnett skit in which she walks in with an exaggeratedly thick unibrow makeup. Someone points at it and says: "You have one brow!" to which she responds: "You should have seen me before I shaved off the other one."

I wonder if it would have stirred more interest and excitement to make the theme entries sharing a number two different words with the same clue, rather than two-word phrases. That would have required more imaginative cluing rather than straight definitions, which is what we have today -- except clue 40.

However even as it is, the construction is quite impressive with ten themers, which accounts for some of the OEDS, EDDY @ EDYS, YEAS @ AABA, ABEET, TWEEDLEdum and TWEEDLEdee.

Some say, compared to Bononcini
That Mynheer Handel's but a Ninny,
Others aver, that he to Handel
Is scarcely fit to hold a Candle.
Strange all this Difference should be
'Twixt TWEEDLE-dum and TWEEDLE-dee!

- by John Byrom (1692-1763)

Let me sign off -- not with Giovanni Bononcini (1670-1747) nor with G.F. Handel (1685-1759), but with JEAN-Marie Leclair (1697-1764) of the same era, and his Violin Sonata in D major, Op. 9, No. 3.

Enjoy! Au revoir.

Sir Hillary 8:50 AM  

Paper solver here. All the theme did was make my solve take longer, because my eyes are trained to look bottom right for Down clues.

I count 10 theme pairs, so 20 theme entries -- impressive. But there are 80 total entries -- isn't that over the supposed limit? Somehow I imagine that yesterday's grid was harder to pull off. I don't see how this can be called a "waste of time" but it wasn't very memorable either.

I knew @Rex would give us the J. Geils video, but thought maybe we would also get one from Fleet Foxes or Modest Mouse.

Leapfinger 8:53 AM  



Hard not to have any theme seem pale, after yesterday's elegance, but it definitely struck a minor chord for me. Kind of fun to see some of yesterday's MEN fallen to the bottom of the grid.

Also liked ETYMON but I'm past doing back flips; out of general consideration, probably should only SKINNY DIP at night. Cute having BENTSEN-BUNSEN and BREAD near the [runny] YOLK; also, the Haiku clue was a lovely choice.

I'm all in favour of 'Meaningful sets', but OEDS in the plural just seem weight too much to be borne.

Like @Moly Shu, am hoping for a big whup coming down the PIKE.

Andrew Morrison 8:58 AM  

TWEEDLE caused problems for me In the center. I started with TWITTER which slowed my progress a bit. I also wanted Homer to work in a tOWER, which was clearly nonsensical but the best I could do until I caught the theme.

gregg 9:05 AM  

I owe a debt of gratitude to the Jackson 5 and their recording of "Rockin' Robin" without which I would not have come up with TWEEDLE.

Generic Solver 9:13 AM  

Having solved it first on Across Lite and then having checked out the online puzzle, I think the "solving experience" was actually better on Across Lite. I didn't mind having to scratch my head and mutter "WTH?" at every "dash" clue, compared to having across and down in one list. The latter gives away the gimmick too easily IMO (not that the gimmick was all that memorable, but still). Part of the fun in solving these is the angst of feeling lost at first.

get a clue 9:26 AM  

Louis Kahn is one of the most famous architects of the modern era. Rex's ignorance doesn't make it a bad clue. He was a brilliant architect with a shattered personal life (see the movie "My Architect," which was nominated for an academy award in 2003). Once again, if Rex hasn't heard of it, the clue must be too obscure.

Leapfinger 9:30 AM  

Whups, almost forgot: the Grim Leaper? I kind of like that! I'm sure there's no intention of mocking any Asian accents.

@Hartley70, I've always liked Yale's Beineke Rare Book Library. Not by KAHN, it's by G. Bunshaft (go easy there, OK?), with an exterior of inch and 1/4 marble framed in granite. Most photographs don't reveal the dimensionality of the marble slabs, so its beauty can be hard to appreciate. When you're inside, however, the outside light glows right through the marble, lovely.

@Alias, I checked to see if the poem scanned AABA.

Norm 9:37 AM  


jberg 9:39 AM  

Very poetic today, with Robert Frost and a HAIKU. I thought the latter was too wordy, though - "into the pond" is just put in to make it 17 syllables. But that's a nit.

Is the numbering scheme a theme? I'd call it a gimmick (as is a rebus, for example), which is what we expect on a Thursday. The problem is, it's too easy to get -- in the papper, at least, the first time you look for a down clue, you see there aren't any (that took me about 30 seconds of running my eyes up and down the columns looking for the break. But once I got it, I just had to figure out whether it meant what @aliasz proposed, or what it actually turned out to mean. The rest was easy.

I did like the crossing of the obsolete RETYPE as a mode of correction with the digital PIXEL.

On to Friday.

John V 9:46 AM  

Fun, pretty easy. Got snagged by 26, screwed up the m.

evil doug 9:47 AM  

No, because that would be "glim leaper".


Bob Kerfuffle 9:50 AM  

Mostly very easy for me, except the center. Sorry, never heard of WYATT Cenac, and TWEEDLE was the last form of bird song I would think of. In fact, every written-over letter in my grid is within TWEEDLE! I came almost to the point of despair, then stuck with it for a couple more minutes, and finished successfully.

chefbea 9:55 AM  

What a great puzzle. Knew something was up when I saw the word CLUES.

as @chef wen...Love carrot cake and of course 33 was my favorite answer!!!

Charles Flaster 10:06 AM  

Easy medium. After 10 minutes had very little. Then hit "FREEZE FRAME" and the rest was done in another 10.
I think the construction was well done and could not have been easy to make.
Liked clues for SKINNY DIP,MPAA,AIR and USPS.
Did not see any crosswordEASE except maybe for EDYS.
Thanks JF.

RooMonster 10:25 AM  

Hey All !

Put me in the enjoyed immensely
camp! @joho, you aren't the only one who thought this was a very clever puz. To have minimal dreck with such constraints is awesome! (See NE corner)

I solve on the NYT site, and they had all the clues listed straight through without Across/Down. I think that definitely added to the great solve. I spent a good chunk of time looking for the Down clues! You get so used to something being one way, it's hard to retrain the brain to do it a different way!

Loved the clues, 59D, 63A! 6D was good, too! The puz was fairly easy, did have some crunch to it, though. Got bogged in the S center area, had to google for the NBA team, as I'm not a big bball fan, and the team just wouldn't come to mind. My only nit was OEDS, a bit of a stretch, but I'll take it for such a cool puz.


Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Can you read? Rex never said the clue for "Kahn" was bad, only that he (Rex) had never heard of him. Enough with the Rex bashing. If you don't like the opinions, find another blog.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

I wanted White's counterpart to be Jesse Pinkman.

Arlene 10:46 AM  

I started this puzzle (I solve on paper) - realized there were no Acrosses and Downs - and thought "Oh crap - I'm going to have to THINK!"
I was ready to throw it all in at that point - but the thought of coming here and saying that kept me on the straight and narrow path to absolution.
Now I sit triumphant - with a filled-in grid. And I have you all to thank for that.

And I really did think that the Across/Down theme answers, because they had to have the same starting letter for both words, was quite delightful.

Steve J 10:47 AM  

@chefwen and @chefbea: I've never understood ruining perfectly good spice cake by adding carrots.

@jberg: Agreed that this was more gimmick than theme. However, I'm not sure how RETYPE is obsolete. I just had a typo in that last sentence, so I had to RETYPE that bit. Until speech-to-text tech improves drastically, typing and retyping will be with us for a long time.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Another of "rex's robots" comes to his defense. Go wash the brown off your nose.

Carola 10:49 AM  

I'm with @joho all the way. I solved it in the paper and highlighted all the theme answers. Very neat the way they interlock. I found it fun to solve.

I liked the foppish ASCOT over the preppy IZODS, contrasting with the JEAN JACKET. Also the BOXES-PIXEL-FREEZE FRAME chain

Speaking of AABA and HAIKU, there's some internal rhyme: PIKE-HIKE, REND-MENDS, NEET-ABEET, AWOKE-YOLK.

Z 11:06 AM  

Put me somewhere between Rex and @joho. I waited for the paper to solve (very late today). The most salient feature during the solve was, like @Sir Hillary, overcoming the "where to look for the clue" training. I caught the conceit immediately (there is never a 2A) but even at the very end my eyes would go to just to the left of the grid looking for 70A. Nevertheless, I thought it a fun change of pace. I wish the solve had been a little more challenging, but I've noticed that there is often an easing of the cluing when something unusual is going on.

Favorite word of the day has got to be TWEEDLE. Say it a couple of times and try not to smile. Can't be done.

As for KAHN - Albert is the architect around here. Louis is just some second-rate hack for all I know. Seriously, name the top five most famous architects after Frank Lloyd Wright. We'll wait............... I'm sure some of the architects in the crowd came up with five quickly. Many of us, though, can come with five rap artists more quickly. Sad, perhaps, but true.

@Whirred Whacks - How about, "Most effective government policy instituted in the past 50 years." Does that work for you?

Leapfinger 11:17 AM  

I know, just checking. Plumbing the depths, as it were.

belly button
crash cart
dumb dora
flat feet/ flat-foot floogie
fun facts
goo-goo ga-joo
high hopes
jolly jumper
krazy kat
mickey mouse
nice nellie
rough riders
wild west

It's definitely a coup to work in 10 theme entries, especially in a way that leaves room for good non-theme fill. Working up a grid that places one at every square that starts both an Across and a Down entry has to be a real feat of construction, even if there's a very wide choice of theme possibilities. Seems that a number of people felt the solve suffered as a consequence, and it's the first time that I've felt that way also. At least for a Thursday.

RooMonster 11:17 AM  

Uh-oh! I smell a political debate a-brewin'!

Also, did you check out the Anon on Anon action a few comments ago?
Great stuff...

BURNERing away,


Tommy C 11:17 AM  

@Anon 2:21 - You missed the point. Nothing is intrinsically a CASH CROP. What makes something a cash crop is the growers intent, whether to use it or sell it. Cambell's used to be the largest grower of tomatos in the US. When they owned the farms, tomatos weren't a cash crop, they were feedstock to their soup manufacturing process. When they sold the farms, then bought the tomatos from the people to whom they sold the farm, the tomatos were the cash crop of the new farmers.

In the current state of agriculture, 99% of all crops are cash crops. An equivalent clue could have been "Beets or Turnips". Or, in three gloriously up to date states, weed.

Zeke 11:27 AM  

To all those who admire the gimmick, you do realize that all that's being done here is replacing the much despised trope

1A with 1D, Corn or Cotton
1D see 1A


1 Corn or Cotton

right? Has the proverbial spoonful of sugar ever really removed the noxious taste of medicine?

RnRGhost57 11:33 AM  

Rather enjoyable. Thanks Mr. Fagliano.

Z 11:37 AM  

@RooMonster - Unlikely that a debate will break out. Yelling back at forth from our immutable positions, maybe.

@Zeke - Yes. Still, a nice change of pace, in my opinion. Do I admire a no-hitter more than a bullpen holding a three run eighth inning lead. Of course. I still admire (or would if I could) a bullpen holding a three run eighth inning lead. And no, I'm not bitter. Honest. Really. I haven't cried in my coffee in days.

wreck 11:43 AM  

@Tommy C

Your not making sense -- both Corn and Cotton ARE cash crops to a farmer.

r.alphbunker 11:46 AM  

I solved on screen before looking at the PDF. Since a "-" clue is usually used in lieu of two clues that cross-reference each other, once I figured out what clues were being cross-referenced, the puzzle went quickly.

It was nice to see the PDF version when I was done.

Wouldn't adimensional clue be a better term than "uniclue?" Compared to cryptic puzzles in which every answer has two clues, a cryptic one and a regular definition, all American puzzles are uniclued.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Actually the pilgrims first landed and spent time on Clarke's Island in Cape Cod Bay just off the coast of Plymouth, before establishing their permanent settlement

r.alphbunker 11:49 AM  


We cross-posted. Using "-" is harder (or more annoying perhaps) because you don't know for sure which clues are referencing each other.

Charles Flaster 11:52 AM  

Baked beans
French fries
Silk stockings
Big Ben
Crash course
But fun trying to derive them

Masked and Anonymo5Us 11:52 AM  

Did the paper edition. Saw CLUES instead of ACROSS and DOWN. A wave of dejavuosity immediately swept over the M&A. Did another NYTpuz like that, many moons ago. In that one, the intersectin across and down answers were each seperate answers to the one, shared clue. At first, I proceded along that path again, rewarded with many frittered and tweedled away nanoseconds.

Finally figured out PARASKI, despite an earlier HEMo transgression. Then the CASH&CROP came in, and the rest was pretty easy, for a ThursPuz.

Kinda see @63's beef. Puz has funkiness. But maybe only WedPuz funkiness, at the most. Sure enjoyed the HAIKU clu, tho. fave combo clue: {Places where wheat is stored?}

fave weeject: KIP. Hard to beat a nice, obscure foreign currency. Little known fact: a bogus kip is, locally, known as a SKINNYKIP. Honrable mention to COD, for bein the only weeject in a combo role.

Now to figure out who did than legacy CLUES puz...


Anonymous 12:00 PM  

@Zeke, it isn't precisely the same despised trope; in the despised trope, the two parts are separated. In addition to the despised jumping around the grid, there isn't the important clue that both words start with the same letter. Big difference.

mac 12:01 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
mac 12:02 PM  

After getting over my panic attack I enjoyed this puzzle a lot! Cape Cod gave it away.

Tweedle/Wyatt/feel free and OED slowed me down a bit, but in the end the HIKE at 59 was the last word to be filled in.

Easy-Medium, with looking for the clues really slowing me down. Maybe because of sinus problems/itchy eyes. Rag weed, I think.

joho 12:17 PM  

It's not so much coming up with the answers, it's making all ten of them fit almost seamlessly into the grid! As I said before, brilliant!

M and A Rheasearch Dept. 12:23 PM  

p.s. follow-up.

Well, that didn't require much research. The Shortzmeister's comment today, over at, reveals that there have been 3 previous "uniclue" puzs. The most recent one -- the one I remembered -- was from 2007. Way to go, M&A brainbox.

Today's puz had 80 words. More fer yer money. Top half, with zero U's, scared m&e half to death. Bottom half made a nice, 5-U comeback. U learn so much here, no?

M&A Rheasearch Dept.

Fred Romagnolo 12:40 PM  

Can't you anons agree to disagree like decent people? I nominate Louis Sullivan as America's greatest architect. If you would see his monument, go to Chicago. Carson, Pirie (sp?), Scott will knock you out. Got to be 82 before I could finally stand there and have my pic taken. Lifelong dream! I didn'
t know PARASKI, PIKE, WYATT, OR HIKE. I always think of USPo, never of USPS. Liked the puzzle a lot - Bravo, Fagliano!

Ernest Nathan 12:41 PM  

I thought it was a great puzzle. Hadn't read your column in more than a year and remembered why. Don't you ever get tired of beating the heck out of these great constructors that make these great puzzles. Each one is very clever and you just read them the riot act every day. Do you wake up in the morning mad at the world and kick your dog or what ? Was hoping you'd change but guess not.

Tommy C 12:42 PM  

@Wreck - How could it be clearer? A cash crop is something you grow with the intent to sell rather than use. When Cambell's grew their own tomatoes, they weren't a cash crop, because Cambell's never sold tomatoes, they sold the soup they made out of tomatoes. When others bought the land and grew the same tomatoes, they were a cash crop because they were grown with an intent to sell.
The farmer across the road from me runs a dairy operation. He grows corn and timothy hay which he uses solely to feed his cows which produces the milk that he sells. To him, neither corn nor hay is a cash crop, its feedstock. His neighbor grows corn exclusively, which he sells. His corn is a cash crop.

It's the difference between vertical integration and an assembly/supplier business model. There are vertically integrated cotton product (sheets, tee-shirts, underwear etc) who grow their own organic cotton. There are other who offer manufactured products made from cotton produced by other organic growers. These various cotton crops are either cash crops or not, depending solely upon the intent of the grower.

What does define a cash crop, other than what I've said previously, is a high value product with a ready market (at least in the vernacular). Tobacco and weed come to mind (hence my choice of pseudonym). Neither corn nor cotton, with their being bulk commodities, really fit this bill.

As I've said before, with the structure of today's agriculture, 99% of all crops are cash crops.

Anonom-nom-nom 1:08 PM  

Wow, Tommy C! And here I thought weed made people stupider! (heh)

Z 1:08 PM  

@Tommy C - "Clueing CASH/CROP with Corn or Cotton makes no sense." "As I've said before, with the structure of today's agriculture, 99% of all crops are cash crops."

I have no idea what you are trying to say, but then I'm fairly confident that you don't either.

OISK 1:09 PM  

Always a pleasure to come here and read @AliasZ's contribution. For me, very enjoyable, inventive puzzle, continuing what has been, for me, a very easy week. Enjoyed mention of OSU, since I am headed to Columbus next Saturday for the Rutgers game. (Will wear something red…) Got nearly all of the theme clues immediately. Anyone else have to erase after misspelling Roald as Rould? (It couldn't be WYUTT, although I confess architectural ignorance) Nice puzzle.

wreck 1:13 PM  

@ Tommy C

What does that have to do with the clue and answer?? The Clue is "Corn or Cotton" and the answer is "CASH CROP?" Everyone else seems to grasp that. The puzzle is correct.

Anoa Bob 1:20 PM  

HAIKU redux. One of my favorite sub-genres is Redneck HAIKU.

Here are some.

r.alphbunker 1:26 PM  

@M and A
Is it a coincidence that the Nov 1, 2007 puzzle that you referred to has the clue 19A{Runtish}?

@Anonymous 12:00
I know that I have done puzzles where the answer to the - clue does not share a letter with some other answer. A uniclue is a special case of the phenomenon that @Zeke reported.

Lewis 1:33 PM  

My favorite clue in the puzzle was the one for YOLK. I love clues like that because if you get it, it's a very nice aha.

It doesn't sound like anyone had to work too hard to figure out the gimmick, and I think easy-medium sounds right. Never heard of ETYMON or MPAA or Louis KAHN so the mid-Atlantic was pretty gritty. The puzzle felt workmanlike -- and I don't mind that. If you can accept workmanlike and above, and reject awful and below, you'll like a lot more puzzles than those who only like ethereal.

I like to look for double letters and this had 13 -- ethereal!

Ludyjynn 1:49 PM  

Liked this one more than Rex. A lot more. Maybe it had something to do w/ solving while eating breakfast at IHOP and sopping up the YOLK of my eggs as I came across 35A.

This was a medium outing for moi, w/ the usual momentary confusion re the correct spelling of ROALD. Didn't care much for OEDS clueing, but enjoyed the Thu. trick (on paper, as always).

Thanks, JF and WS.

Hoping this beautiful Fall weather holds for tomorrow's Os playoff game against Royals, but rain is in the forecast.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

Thank you Ernest, for speaking truth to rex and his blind minions. Rex is a pompous, smug, cocky, know-it-all, and if he doesn't know something he blames the constructor. Most of the commenters on this blog are here to kiss his ass and stroke his ego.

Last Silver Haiku 2:03 PM  

@r.alph: U just probably wanted to bring that up, because of 50-A, in that same Nov 1, 2007 puz.

@AnoaBob: Soupherb Haiku collection. U do good work. Oughta include one, at the end of each of yer comments. They are so peaceful and calmin.


The Bell tolls at dawn
Ask not from whom
Last night's all-U-can-eat tacos
Live on in mellifluous back issues.

Tommy C 2:14 PM  

@Wreck, @Z - Certainly everyone got the cash crop clue, including myself. What "made no sense" is

A: Everything grown is or can be a cash crop, so why those two,

B: Nothing is specifically a cash crop, what determines that is the purpose it's being grown for(hence examples are meaningless), and

C: If you're going to pick one or two cash crops, why pick two of the crops with the lowest profit margins? Without federal subsidies, corn and cotton would have a negative profit margin based solely on an expense basis, much less an opportunity cost basis. Only soy beans and sugar sources among the mega crops are worse. Cotton nets < $130/acre, corn < $200/acre, both go negative if you consider factors such as not realizing the value of the land and how much you'd earn if you quit farming and greeted people at Walmart. Why not cite tobacco, the archetype of a cash crop? That nets $5,000-$7,000 per acre. Fresh strawberries is in the same range, hops are getting there. These have historically fit the vernacular of a cash crop, a side venture on a farm to supplement the family's income.

Tulips or lavender. Beets or turnips. Soy beans or lima beans. The list is endless. Why two bad examples?

LaneB 2:33 PM  

OEDS is a terrible match for the clue and caused me to take a DNF after using TWEEtLE.. Oh we'll.

Does anyone know why LMS no longer appears on the blog? I always enjoyed her comments, puns, etc.

Lewis 2:50 PM  

@laneB -- LMS has a job that gets her up early. She chimes in on the weekends. And yes, what a joy she is on this blog.

RooMonster 2:54 PM  

Hey, here's a fun way to turn CROP into CASH:


One letter-changed-at-a-time puzzles are fun!


Lewis 3:06 PM  

Factoid: Prior to fertilization, the egg YOLK is a single cell, the ovum or egg cell, one of the few single cells that can be seen by the naked eye.

Quotoid: "I generally AVOID temptation unless I can't resist it." -- Mae West

mskmoorthy 3:19 PM  

If cash to crop can be done as a word ladder
why not bread to boxes/
From bread to boxes (word ladder)

DigitalDan 3:56 PM  

Finally, in the end, Rex got the yolk.

Elephant's Child 4:02 PM  


re OEDS: I think I catch your drift about 'Meaningful sets'. In that case, it could also be 'con-sense-ual', if you catch mine.

Happy to find more runny YOLK fans; never did think of 2-cell omelets before.

sanfranman59 4:05 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 15:18, 17:32, 0.87, 24%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:58, 11:06, 0.90, 26%, Easy-Medium

Since I hate the interface with both of the online solving options and I don't receive the dead tree version of the paper, I solve it in AcrossLite. However, since the little tiny notepad icon appears at the top between the date of the puzzle and the constructor's name, I never seem to notice it until the end when I record the constructor name in my spreadsheet. So I had no idea that I was supposed to print it out to better see the gimmick. I must say that I get a little miffed when this type of thing happens. Online solvers are kind of treated as after-thoughts or second-class customers in these instances, even though we pay good money for the privilege of solving the puzzles. Oh well. It doesn't happen all that often, so I'll just continue to roll with the punches.

Anonymous 4:09 PM  

I thought this was pretty easy. It was not hard to find the hook. the only problem I had in the NW was I put in "Reuse" for copy over instead of "Erase" Once I figured out that was wrong, the rest of the corner went quickly

Anonymous 4:10 PM  

@ mskmoorthy

Why did they have "places where wheat is stored" for the clue for BREAD BOXES when "rye" would have worked?? ;)

Z 4:59 PM  

@Tommy C - Read this, check the sources, maybe find some other sources, then argue that corn is a poor example of a CASH CROP. Or maybe Agribusiness is exporting 20% of the corn we produce out of charity and good will, and not for cash.

Joe Dipinto 5:30 PM  

I was hoping for HERNANDO'S / HIDEAWAY -- Song from "The Pajama Game" -- as a theme entry, since you can sing the tune to the words of "Stopping By Woods..."

Roy Leban 5:55 PM  

@Casco Kid: thanks for the kind words. If you switch to Puzzazz for the NYT too, I am confident you won't look back.

Just to make sure you know the full range of annotations you can make in Puzzazz, you can highlight any cell in the grid with a circle or you can shade it, plus you can add a note to any clue.

bswein99 6:27 PM  

This also struck me as pointless. It took very little time to figure out the gimmick, and then it was easier than the usual Thursday puzzle. Mainly I kept on having to redirect my focus since I was looking for across clues in the typical location (on the paper version of the puzzle). Not very exciting, eh?

Davis 7:42 PM  

I'm still running on a grandfathered Magmic NYT subscription (which I believe was less than the direct NYT subscription at one point). Which, sadly, means no access to a PDF or official-site version. Wish I had the opportunity to do this one as intended.

Anonymous 7:57 PM  

The symmetry of the puzzle broke down in the SouthEast corner. Very disappointing.

Terry B. 8:06 PM  

I usually agree with Rex, but I thought his puzzle was fun and a pleasant mix-up.

Rick Starr 8:37 PM  

Well, Barany's back, promoting his personal interests on a blog of public interest.

It's just a good thing that he's the only free-rider that does this.

dogbreath 9:45 PM  

Classic Rex on the rag. This was a fine puzzle IMO with many creative answers. Won't waste my time arguing with a putz.

dogbreath 9:45 PM  

Classic Rex on the rag. This was a fine puzzle IMO with many creative answers. Won't waste my time arguing with a putz.

sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

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

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

Mon 5:51, 6:03, 0.97, 35%, Easy-Medium
Tue 6:59, 7:50, 0.89, 18%, Easy
Wed 7:59, 9:30, 0.84, 13%, Easy
Thu 15:49, 17:32, 0.90, 31%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:53, 3:57, 0.98, 36%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:42, 5:21, 0.88, 10%, Easy
Wed 5:00, 6:12, 0.81, 4%, Easy (11th lowest ratio of 249 Wednesdays)
Thu 9:45, 11:06, 0.88, 22%, Easy-Medium

Elephant's Child 10:12 PM  

@Tommy C, if I got your point, it's very likely that others did also.

As to why choose corn and cotton, possibly because those two are more likely to mislead the solvers' thinking, the same way 'wheat' did in 40A, and as 'rye' would have done, to different effect.

Badir 1:19 AM  

@sanfranman (I just moved back to SF myself!) and others who missed the gimmick with AcrosLite, the Wordplay blog has had an alert about it for the past few days. So if you glance at it every Wednesday, you can see whether they're going to do something weird on Thursday. But I agree that maybe they should have the stickie note on *Wednesday* to warn you about Thursday!

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

And one dimensional. Those who can do...etc, etc

LHS 888 1:20 PM  

Posting very late (days late, in fact)...
I solved on AcrossLite. This one was right in my wheelhouse. I finished in 35 min, unheard of for a Thursday. I got the gimmick pretty quickly as I entered Crop in 1A and had to change it almost immediately.


@Anoa Bob - Thank y'all for the Redneck HAIKU. Brilliant!

@gregg - Thank you for the Rockin' Robin ear worm. I haven't shaken it yet.

I did like the puzzle very much. Thanks JF / WS!

Jeffrey Dowling 8:32 PM  

I want to testify that my wife is back after a Divorce !!!

Hello to every one out here, am here to share the unexpected miracle that happened to me three days ago, My name is Jeffrey Dowling,i live in Texas,USA.and I`m happily married to a lovely and caring wife,with two kids A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she did not love me anymore So she packed out of my house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow her advice. Then she gave me the email address of the spell caster whom she visited.(}, So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address she gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my wife back the next day what an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my wife who did not call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that she was coming back So Amazing!! So that was how she came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and she apologized for her mistake,and for the pain she caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same website,if you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to “bringing your ex back. So thanks to Dr Brave for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again.{} , Thanks.

the long-suffering Mrs. Jeff 10:49 AM  

Oh, put a sock in it, Jeff, Or I'll divorce you again--this time for good.

spacecraft 11:11 AM  

Yeah, this gimmick looked disturbing at first, what with no clue axes. For #1 I thought maybe the "or" meant that the across referred to corn and the down cotton, or vice versa. But soon enough the answer was obvious, and it wasn't really an aha--it was more like "I knew that." JEAN JACKET did take a while, but CAPE COD and the rest were no probs.

No, the difficulty lay mainly in the attempt to fog the clues--which seldom succeeded. Okay, "White's counterpart" had me wishing for five squares so I could put in SAJAK, but the down helped me. Not familiar with ETYMON, though I should be, I still knew etymology, hence the third letter there RATEd to be a Y. Hence YOLK.

Not much else to snag the solver, though the very last letter I entered was the K of SKINNYDIP. Now there's a foggy clue! I make it "easy-for-a-Thursday." C.

940; more mediocrity.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

Loved this puzzle and thank you Joel F. I was stuck in the middle for awhile. I did most of the "downs" before sussing out the clever trick. Kahn was the architect who designed our local Salk Institute here in San Diego. Had to look up the spelling of etymon and that gave up yolk. I have crowned myself the 99,999th crossword King in So. Calif.

Ron Diego (no numbers)

Waxy in Montreal 1:24 PM  

@Jeffrey Dowling - Enough, already!

Not very challenging for a Thursday once the gimmick became apparent. Had problems in the NW with CASH/CROP and OBAMACARE and in the centre with the WYATT/TWEEDLE area. YOLK also took far too long mostly because I didn't grok the clue properly.

3761 --> 8. Think it makes me the current clue for 3 or 58.

rondo 1:26 PM  

Certainly didn't hate this one as much as OFL and previously described "minions". And I feel no pity for the device-solvers who whine at the drop of a hat if something is the least bit unique; put down your electronic toys and pick up your pens - solve like real people. Have to admire the construction for finding that many corners in which to have an alliterative answer. My biggest problem was looking for clues in the wrong places. So some of the fill was not great, you gotta like any puz with SKINNYDIP in it (used to play NTN trivia with a gal with that moniker). I would RATE this one as OK.

200 - YOLK's on me

DMG 4:57 PM  

Not my favorite clue layout-got a headache from chasing around after the clues. Other than that, an ok day. Didn't know KAHN,though I live near Scripp's, and I doubt I've ever heard a bird TWEEDLE, but my DNF was, once again the sports team. I send my packages thru the USPo, so my team was the unknown oPUR!! Shouldn't,t the real team be SPURs?

1146 So @Waxy you do appear to be the 3 today.

Dirigonzo 6:25 PM  

I skipped all of the prime-time comments because I didn't want the complaining about their on-line solving experience to drag me down. I loved this puzzle which was obviously created for us pen and paper solvers, especially those like me who solve "by the numbers" reading each clue in numerical order. I grokked to the gimmick right away when I figured the only clue for 1 had to apply to both the across and down words and the rest was too easy for a Thursday. Only write-over was ApAches/ARAPAHO, easily fixed by the crosswords. Today my "wrong" solving style (so pronounced by Rex a while back) was the right solving style!

1923 - I bow to @Waxy's superior numerology.

rain forest 7:18 PM  

I couldn't post a comment for, like, hours eh? Stupid computer. Anyway as you will see below I have the winning hand, though late like a 9 1/2 month pregnancy.

I did like the different take on listing the clues although I kept looking lower left whenever a down answer was called for.

Like @Diri I solved "wrongly" and so the NW gave up the game after AABA, HEMA, and OBAMACARE. Even solving using the wrong method, this went by pretty quickly, but that never bothers me. It WILL be tougher tomorrow and Saturday, so there's that.

1116 Told ya.

Waxy in Montreal 7:35 PM  

@rain, I officially relinquish my position as clue 58 to you. Congrats!

Anonymous 7:51 PM  

Au contraire mon ami!
It wasn't until I had a legal dose of the herb that I sussed this one out! 5 states legal, 45 to go!

Anonymous 7:56 PM  

You have now breached the no charlatan clause: please remit $34,000.00 U.S.D. To
Dewey Cheatem and Howe Ltd.

Ghostbusters 8:22 PM  

He's from Texas by way of Nairobi ! He also has money from a dead diplomat that he'd like to send you, after you send a $5,000 processing fee!

Anonymous 9:20 PM  

Thank goodness South Sudan joined the UN!

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