Late TV newsman Garrick / WED 1-7-15 / Third-largest French speaking city in world Ivory Coast / Slangy word of regret / JFK-based carrier

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Constructor: Greg Johnson

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Story of THESEUS and the [Minotaur] — theme answers relate to this myth. Circled squares spell out "MINOTAUR," which the puzzle note says goes in the center of the grid: "When this puzzle is done, the circled letters, reading from top to bottom, will spell something that belongs in the center of the grid."

Theme answers:
  • THESEUS (13A: Maze runner?)
  • LABYRINTH (22A: Home of the [circled letters])
  • THREAD (15A: Item used by 13-Across to navigate the 22-Across)
  • KING MINOS (48A: Ruler of 30-Down)
  • ESCAPE (63A: Avoid, as the [circled letters])
  • ARIADNE (64A: Daughter of 48-Across who helped 13-Across)
  • CRETE (30D: Home of the [circled letters])
  • SWORD (26D: Weapon used to slay the [circled letters])
Word of the Day: Garrick UTLEY (21A: Late TV newsman Garrick) —
Clifton Garrick Utley (November 19, 1939 – February 20, 2014) was an American television journalist. He established his career reporting about the Vietnam War and has the distinction of being the first full-time television correspondent covering the war on-site. (wikipedia)
• • •

This just doesn't work, for several reasons. First of all, it's a very straightforward puzzle masquerading as some kind of elaborate, tricky puzzle. But the elaborate / tricky part is smoke and mirrors. The "circled letters" are not uncommon letters, scattered asymmetrically around the grid. No great feat to find MINOTAUR in a descending pattern in the grid. In fact, you can do it in yesterday's puzzle. Go ahead, check. The center blank square: who cares? Not hard to construct, filled with nothing. The grid is not exactly "maze"-shaped (any more than any other grid is). So, what is there? Just a myth puzzle with blah answers. I don't know how this puzzle looks in the actual paper—maybe there's some cool visual element that the online version can't capture. The weirdest / least explicable thing about this puzzle is that the thing in the center (the isolated center, ???) is indicated by letter strewn all over the grid. So … it's not in the center, the MINOTAUR. Literally, not. But it is. So … I don't know what that's all about.

Fill was average, skewing poor/tired. Hardest part for me was the NE, which was also the Oldest. Garrick UTLEY (???) crossing 12D: Old TV's "Queen for A DAY" (??). Actually, the latter was easy to infer. But SHOULDA wasn't (17A: Slangy word of regret). And ATH (!?!) wasn't. [Sports dept.] is ATH? The ATHletic department? Yikes, that's weak. Unwelcome returns include OHNO, RRR, NSC. How does the "hint" in the ABIDJAN clue help? (42D: Third-largest French-speaking city in the world [hint: it's in Ivory Coast]) I've never heard of ABIDJAN at all. I kept looking for cognates of "ivory" or "coast." Nothing. That answer redefines "outlier," in that it's by Far the most obscure thing in the grid. Well, that and UTLEY, but I'm guessing far more people know UTLEY than know ABIDJAN. I'm just too young to know UTLEY. Nothing wrong with learning some geography, but in this puzzle, ABIDJAN is a sore thumb.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Whirred Whacks 12:02 AM  

Nice job, Mr. Johnson!

Knew the myth and its component pieces; it was an easy and enjoyable puzzle to solve.

Interesting placement of SEISM right next to CRETE. Most scholars believe that the earth-shattering volcanic eruption on the island of Thira (today: Santorini) around 1500 BC caused a series of 50+ foot high tsunamis that severely damaged Crete to the south. This led to a fairly quick collapse of Minoan civilization on Crete.

Carola 12:14 AM  

I see Rex's point(s), but I loved this homage to one of my favorite myths. After THESEUS appeared, I filled the circles with MINOTAUR and then enjoyed encountering the other characters and plot elements along the way. I liked how the circled letters were scattered, as those negotiating the LABYRINTH never knew at what turning they might encounter the monster. (I wondered if the word LABYRINTH originated with Daedalus's contruction for KING MINOS - anybody know?)

At one point I went astray, confusing the newsman Garrick UTLEY with the pianist Garrick "Olsen," in reality, as I discovered, "Ohlsson," so a double OOPS there. Having several family members in the Peace Corps in West Africa made ABIDJAN easy.

Away from home this month, I have to solve online instead of in my usual newspaper. Would have enjoyed drawing the beast in the center square.

Norm C. 12:14 AM  

Gosh, you CAN find MINOTAUR in yesterday's puzzle. Also HELEN OF TRO...Oops, so close. Oh, there's ST PATRIC... Drats. OK, there's LIBERACE.

Wood 12:19 AM  

Knew both UTLEY and ABIIDJAN after a few crossing letters were in (and the Ivory Coast hint was the difference between a Wednesday and a Friday clue).

I'm 49. Too old?

Steve J 12:21 AM  

Rex, regarding this - "So … it's not in the center, the MINOTAUR. Literally, not. But it is. So … I don't know what that's all about."

I think it's obvious what this is all about. It's Schrödinger's minotaur.

As to the puzzle: Ambition is good. Ambition is what allows people to move forward. It's what pushes them into new territories. It's what drives people to get beyond the current boundaries of what's accepted or known. But ambition isn't always successful. It's often not.

And so we have Wednesday's puzzle. Ambitious? Yes. Successful? Not from my chair. As Rex rightly pointed out, the circled letters are just there (just in the last week, there are at least three puzzles where you can spell MINOTAUR from top to bottom). Why is the MINOTAUR both in the puzzle and in the center square?

At least the various theme answers were well-crossed, so even if you don't remember the details of THESEUS and the MINOTAUR, you could piece the answers together pretty easily.

Nice try with this one. But not a successful one in my book. I'm sure there are many who will love this one, though. I'm guessing we'll have one of our most polarizing puzzles in a while.

jae 12:22 AM  

Medium for me too. Just remembered enough of the MINOTAUR story to fill this in, but I needed to stop and think every now and then, which is about right for a Wed. 

ABIDJAN was WOE for me too.  It didn't ring a bell.   Azerbaijan on the other hand does.   And, I'm old enough to know UTLEY.

Liked it much more than Rex did. 

Graham 12:31 AM  

The animals trained in circuses (to balance, etc.) are sea lions, not SEALs...

Daedalus 12:35 AM  

First, you don't make lefts and rights in the maze, you just keep going as straight as possible and always down. Second, you don't escape the Minotaur. You may kill him, but you don't escape him. Oh, and he's not in a locked room without any exits.

Other than that, great puzzle. Just great.

Anonymous 12:41 AM  

Is anyone else having trouble getting this crossword to register as correct? Mine keeps telling me the puzzle isn't correct, and yet all the squares are filled in the same as Rex's above. SOMEONE HELP ME MY STREAK IS AT RISK!!!!!!!!!

jbum 12:43 AM  

YES, I'm having problems with the Ipad app as well.

Okay puzzle, but it wasn't clear to me at all what to put in the center. An M? A rebus for "MINOTAUR" ? A little drawing of a stick figure with horns? Unfortunately, this puzzle seems to have broken the NYT Crossword App (iPad), perhaps due to the clueless square, and I couldn't get it to confirm I had it right, so I came over here to confirm.

Whirred Whacks 12:50 AM  

@jbum @anonymous 12:41
I think they've "improved" the rebus function on the iPad version in the past month.

You need to push the "rebus" button, then type in MINOTAUR, and then -- and this is key -- hit the "rebus" button again. I don't remember having to hit the rebus button again on the way out in past puzzles.

Anonymous 12:52 AM  

Rebus worked on the app...

Anonymous 1:14 AM  

On the iPad app I had to delete a letter, then renter it after filling the center square using the rebus button. I've found that the app doesn't always 'see' rebus (rebi?) answers.

Anonymous 1:24 AM  


chefwen 1:33 AM  

Jon and I spent a few weeks on Crete many moons ago, that made this one a little easier that it could have been. Still thought this was a little dicey for a Wednesday. Jon, bless his heart, filled in KING MIdaS at 48A. I got to say Jesus, Jon, it's about Crete, see 30D. OOPS, said he.

@Carola - Maui again? Skipping over the best Island again? I will convert you at some time. Bring your longies, it's a little nippy here, not like anything you are going through where you are now, but nippy nonetheless.

Carola 1:59 AM  

@chefwen - Not yet, in March. Currently hanging out in L.A. with our daughter and her wife, so glad to have ESCAPEd the single digits at home.

Anonymous 2:07 AM  

@Anonymous @12:41,

I filled in the center square with the rebus MINOTAUR, and the app did nothing at all, the clock just kept ticking.

I then deleted and re-entered one of the other squares, and then it registered the completion.

jbum 2:21 AM  

Thanks for the help with the app!

Anonymous 2:27 AM  

It's understandable not to know that ABIDJAN is the capital of Ivory Coast aka Côte d'Ivoire, although some of us do. But from what Rex wrote, it's clear he's never heard of the entire country. That's OK for mere mortals, but this lack of domain knowledge is a huge gap in the arsenal of any wannabe crossword puzzle authority.

All of us have active vocabulary (you can come up with the word on your own) and passive vocabulary (you can at least recognize the word when someone else uses it). Not having a major item as even part of your passive knowledge is exceptionally weak.

How does the "hint" in the ABIDJAN clue help? It tells you the name of the goddamn country the city is located in, that's how. I kept looking for cognates of "ivory" or "coast." Seriously??? The constructor is practically holding your hand here, and somehow you let it become misdirection for you?

AliasZ 2:29 AM  

Theme density was pretty impressive, but I found spelling out MINOTAUR in the circles entirely unnecessary. The MINOTAUR was already in the center square to indicate where it actually lived. That was neat, and should have been enough. If the circled letters were arranged to wander around in a maze-like fashion towards the heart of the grid with the black squares providing the walls, it would have been even neater.

However: except for the fact that the solution was not accepted unless you squeezed in the 8 letters, the center square didn't amount to a hill of beans. It added absolutely nothing to the difficulty of constructing the puzzle, or an "Eureka!" moment while solving it. That unchecked square was impenetrable even for THESEUS. The MINOTAUR lived. The history of Greece changed forever.

The "maze runner" clue and THREAD gave away the theme early on. The neatest part of this puzzle is that the word "clue" or "clew" originally means ball of thread or yarn precisely from the THESEUS story. The weakest theme entry was ESCAPE, which I didn't feel was specific enough to the myth to have made the cut. The purpose of THESEUS was to find the MINOTAUR in the heart of the LABYRINTH and kill it, rather than to ESCAPE. The "clew" given to him by ARIADNE helped him find his way back out again after completing his mission.

The fill was fair if somewhat uninspired: IT SAT there with SOAMI and SEAKTO, RINSERS and LOADERS, ATH, NSC and NSA. SOB and SOBA didn't help things much either, and I am definitely not pro ACTIV. I did like ABIDJAN, the clues for LEGOS, ARTISTE, TRUTH that you tell the judge, and a few others.

This played as a fair-to-middling puzzle for me that I still enjoyed solving.

Let's see what Garrick Ohlsson makes of this Chopin Scherzo. Not quite a Richter, Rubinstein or Horowitz, but pretty good.

Have a great Wednesday.

Andy 2:46 AM  

Whirred. Thanks for the tip of hitting rebus a second time in order to finish the puzzle. It took me more time to figure that out than it did to complete the rest of the grid lol

I really wish they would notify us when they make changes in the app like that. Especially for such a stupid and unnecessary change

Purist 4:00 AM  

All this app whining is getting really tiresome.  Buy a pencil, print the damn thing out or buy a paper and do it like Shortz intended when he invented the ACPT.   You find out if you were right or not when you check a blog or wait until the NYT prints the answers the next day.  Electronic solvers are a bunch  co-dependent wusses (or is it pussies/pussys, only ED knows for sure)!

Ellen S 4:06 AM  

I thought it was a fun puzzle, though agree with all the observations here. I briefly had SOdoI and thought it was a little "EELY" after yesterday's IDOTOO, but mollified slightly by the switch to SOAMI. I guess.

Thanks for the Chopin, @AliasZ. Your musical selections are a real bonus.

Isn't LEGOS another one of the Greek islands?

Anonymous 4:22 AM  

I'm with Anonymous's comments on Abidjan. Rex should be mortified by his ignorance of basic geography (it's the third-largest French-speaking city in the world, as the clue baldly states). Instead he assumes everyone shares his ignorance. But, oh, yes, it's In Africa, so it doesn't exist for Americans--unless Ebola turns up there. Shame on you Rex.

dk 5:58 AM  

������ ( 3 out of 4 on the applaue - O - meter)

I found the combination of the Maze et. al., and Queen for a Day oddly satisfying. As a young dk my grandfather described Queen for a Day as a Greek tragedy except we (the audiance) were traped in the maze. Grandmother would feel sorry fot contestents. Gramp just hated the show. No one ever won an OLDS but dragons may have been slain.

All told an enjoyable puzzle. A new years resolution is to ignore the readings (posts) of the Rune Stones and simply experience the solve. This one was fine Wednesday fare even if I had to solve it on a pad in a hotel room.

Greetings from a non descript location outside of our Nations capital

dk 6:00 AM  

Huh clapping hands 👏👏👏 got trashed

John Child 6:21 AM  

The constructor's notes on xwordinfo discuss his original, very-original grid. See it here (pic only, from the NYT web site here or on It looks pretty cool.

smalltowndoc 6:23 AM  

Some thoughts:

The circled letters are integral to the puzzle, because along with the instructions provide unambiguous guidance how to correctly enter the rebus.

ESCAPE is terrible as a "theme" answer, since it has nothing to do with the myth.

Garrick UTLEY should be a gimme. Not only was he a renowned news correspondent, but he had many Roles on TV from anchor of NBC Nightly News and the Today show and moderator of Meet the Press.

ABIDJAN is not the obscure city that Rex makes it out to be with his whining. It's more populous than any North American city other than NYC and is the sixth largest city in all of Africa, ahead of Nairobi, Cape Town, Casablanca, Tripoli, etc.

George Barany 6:30 AM  

On the day after Cooperstown anointed its class of 2015, let's cut to the Chase, UTLEY that is. Tackling @Greg (not Randy) Johnson's puzzle which was meant to a maze, I encountered a slight hiccup with 46-down (IED fits the clue as well as the desired WMD, easily fixed). Otherwise, knowing the myth and its cast of characters resulted in a solving time that was more than doubled trying to figure out how to get that beast into the central square. Covering what happened after THESEUS ditched her, one of my least favorite operas, ARIADNE Obnoxious.

Anonymous 6:45 AM  

Abidjan was a major transit point through West Africa on Air Afrique (otherwise known as Air Tragique) and Air France (otherwise known as Air Chance). Due to the unreliability of connecting flights I often ended up stuck there for a few days. The best time I had was when I was stuck for a week with the Minister of Health from Niger and her staff on the way back from a conference in Ghana. The beaches and the music were great, The sand was such a vivid red and the palm tree such a vivid green and the sky was such a vivid blue that it almost hurt your eyes.

Seriously Rex, you haven't heard of Côte d'Ivoire?

Danp 6:53 AM  

Dumb question: As a typical NYT puzzle solver, am I expected to know a) greek mythology, or b) a video game. I just spent a half hour googling the characters to see how they all fit together. Still haven't gotten to where Ariadne fits into the plot.

I am, however, happy to concede that following the circles to get MINATAUR was a maze-like experience. So I did find that rather cool.

Anonymous 6:59 AM  

Just checked my teen on his knowledge of geography and he definitely knew that Ivory Coast was a country located in West Africa and not something he needed to google. I want to make sure he doesn't grow up thinking Africa is a single country full of starving babies, warlords, and freaky diseases - or that it is just one giant game park.

Jp 7:01 AM  

I disliked this puzzle intensely. The story of Theseus and the Minataur is not some story I ever care to remember. Add the circular cluing and the result is not enjoyable at all.

GILL I. 7:31 AM  

Well, I liked this puzzle.
I Could have done away with the ATH ISH TIC RRR entries but anything that has to do with a myth is OK by me.
Without even thinking or reading the clue correctly, I just knew that every one in ABU DABI spoke French and yes, damn it, it's located on the Ivory Coast!!!. KING MINOS and ARIADNE (bless her soul) took care of that.
What took me by surprise was entering PUNT for 57D. Give up, at least for now? Don't understand that one.
Don't SEISM and ISLET look all wrong?
Interesting Wed. puzzle for this wannabe ARTISTE Mr. Johnson. Did you plan on TRUTH and HELL to be side by side?

Charles Flaster 7:42 AM  

Medium and did not see any hint in the Across Lite version. Stringing to get Minotaur only helped me realize I needed some common Greek names.
Knew of Ivory Coast but not ABIDJAN. JET BLUE saved the lower right.
ATH and NEWBIE made me wince.
CrosswordEASE-- ISLET and STP.
Liked cluing for SEISM, APRON, PUNT and
Thanks JG.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

How was one supposed to know that Minataur, which I figured out, was supposed to be placed rebus style in the middle square? Where could those directions be found on the iPad app?

Lewis 8:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 8:07 AM  

I was thinking that maybe originally there were no circles and just the minotaur in the middle, but then Will thought too many wouldn't know the myth and so added the circles. But I see in X-word info that Greg originally had circled letters (and a horned head in the middle). Having the circled letters plus rebus-ing it in the center seems redundant to me. I thought of writing "minotaur" i the center square but then thought "nah, they wouldn't do that, it's already spelled out". And thus, puzzled and with no idea what to place in the center, I DNF.

Otherwise the puzzle seemed easy for Wednesday, with straightforward cluing for the most part. I would have liked some more clever clues. But, as usual, I enjoyed working through the solve, and I did learn ABIDJAN.

Doing the circles the same way, we can get POTHEAD, BONG, TOKE, and certainly more to beautifully balance out the archaic myth.

Imfromjersey 8:07 AM  

I thought the puzzle was okay, fairly easy, but stupid across lite didn't let me type anything into the middle square, I couldn't even select it. So no Mr Happy Pencil though I filled all the other squares.

Z 8:14 AM  

@Steve J - "I think it's obvious what this is all about. It's Schrödinger's minotaur." 'Nuff said.

@smalltowndoc - ABIDJAN only makes it to 79th on this list, behind 10 US cities. As for "obscure" or not, the Factbook lists the Côte d'Ivoire's GDP at ~$28 billion. Compare this to the Detroit Metropolitan Area (#101 on the list) with a GMP of ~$200 billion. In other words, an "economically depressed" rust belt US city has 8 times as much economic output as ABIDJAN and the rest of its country. I could go on, but ABIDJAN is a pretty obscure city by most measures. I mean, how many people could find Guangzhou–Foshan on a map (#12) or Nagoya (#28) or Chennai (#34). Heck, I bet most people reading this don't even know what country those cities are in.

As for the print version, unlike yesterday, it looks exactly like the online version.

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

Garrick Utley - distinguished foreign television news correspondent. A worldly man of discretion and erudition.

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

Rex is an embarrassment. Plain and simple. Just a typical, self-centered, self-important, cocky, ignorant, xenophobic, arrogant American.

Lewis 8:33 AM  

Factoid: On March 27, 2012, an incident on JETBLUE Flight 191 involved the captain being locked out of the cockpit and being subdued by passengers following a panic attack.

Quotoid: "Go to heaven for the climate, HELL for the company." -- Mark Twain

Susan McConnell 8:37 AM  

Rex nailed this one, and AliasZ offered a way to greatly improve this puzzle: ditch the circles. It felt stupid to just put all of the circled letters into the middle square. Better for us to have to come up with the solution ourselves. This one left me annoyed.

Anonymous 8:38 AM  

Let me guess: The constructor of today's puzzle beat out rex one time 25 years ago at a crossword competition, and rex still holds a grudge. That's the only explanation for Rex's ridiculously harsh and blatantly unfair assessment of this solid and creative Wednesday effort.

RnRGhost57 8:38 AM  



Anonymous 8:40 AM  

I consider myself fairly worldly and have been blessed to have travelled to every continent (except Antarctica). I have been to Africa twice, both times to Uganda.

All this to say, I did not know Abidjan either and I think it is fair to call it 'obscure'.

Leapfinger 8:40 AM  


Agree with John Child that Greg J's original idea of putting the grid's M-I-N-O-T-A-U-R at critical maze turnings was extra-cool , ThursdayISH even. As repeatedly noted, what we got looks at least moderately random. Evenso, all on its own, the myth was good for a smile, and the clew/clue background for THREAD is a definite bonus. Also, if you shade in the themers, a maze can be imagined.

Wish I could say my Finish was with SOAMI, but frankly, it came as I polished off the end of ABIDJAN (which my mind also links with AzerbaiJAN). After the recent BOTHA, nice to see de CLERKS.

Anyone else think the puzzle title should be "NO EXIT"? After all, we have the LABYRINTH, and, according to the Existential ARTISTE J-P Sartre: "HELL is other MINOTAURs".

Time to PUNT: ASTHMA used to say, 'If I had a YAMMER, I'd YAMMER on that SPIKY'. Like John Henry, she worked on the R-RR...

Yup, as ASSAYED, thought this was A RIEL fine puzzle, enjoyed the solve. Wishing all y'all a lovely Wednesday.

21st century 8:41 AM  


The monks had similar vapors about that Gutenberg deviltry.

Bearasgar 8:49 AM  

STP is an additve not an oil type

Gabe Tuerk 8:58 AM  

I only regret poor pasiphae's absence in this puzzle. A mother should be with her "sun"

Jonathan Antin 9:12 AM  

There are no RINSERS in salons. There are however assistants that wash, RINSE, sweep among other tasks. Geez.

Z 9:12 AM  

@Bearasgar - And a gasoline additive no less, but STP makes a motor oil, too.

Casco Kid 9:13 AM  

A Monday-easy Wednesday, but I missed the iPad app note regarding the center square (it's there if you look for it), so my only error was [-] x. Oh well. I'll count it as a win even if NYT does not.
Cultural reminders of THESEUS, MINOS, ARIADNE and ABIDJAN are exactly what I like in my themes and fill. and an occasional contemporary meme. So I ask: moar pleez.

@Leapy, you are at the top of your game!

Ludyjynn 9:27 AM  

Oh, HELL. I managed to erase my remarks before I posted them...let's see if I can remember what I wanted to say.

I wonder how many folks had heard of 'Natick', Mass. before reading this blog. Likewise, after today, some of us learned ABIDJAN, or at least how to spell it!

@ChefWen, like your Jon, I started w/ King Midas, but then noted the theme. Was able to solve this as a medium effort via crosses despite having little knowledge of this particular myth.

Rex, thanks for your link to "ESCAPE". Drinking pina coladas sure beats the prospect of braving the near-zero wind chill/temps. here today for me to get to the ATH gym later; ugh!

@SteveJ, the only thing I know about Schrodinger I learned from watching Sheldon explain his "cat" to Penny on "The Big Bang Theory". Who says t.v. is mindless?

@Purist, I could not agree with you more. There is something about the tactile enjoyment of folding the Arts section into quarters and smelling the newsprint and gnawing on my pen before filling-in the blanks that I am loath to abandon. I also have not gone to E-readers for the same reason; sorry @21stCentury.

Got a kick out of AARP showing up after all the snark about NYT x-words skewing "old".

Finally, for those of you who clearly detest and disrespect Rex, you SHOULDA stopped coming here a long time ago!

Thanks, GJ and WS.

pmdm 9:29 AM  

The difficulty level on Wednesday is not supposed to be that hard, so the unnecessary circles in the grid may just be put there to make the puzzle easier to solve. It certainly made the puzzle easier for me to solve. Did anyone else besides me initially get King Midas mixed up with King Minos?

The critique of today's write up is more interesting than the write-up's critique of todays puzzle. At least to me.

Garrick O. got his big break by winning (I think) the 1970 International Chopin Competition. When he came back to the States from the competition, he appeared on the TV show To Tell the Truth. I don't remember the exact results, but he may have skunked the panel who were trying to guess who was "telling the truth." After revealing himself to the panel, he played this Chopin etude. (I remember because I was leaning the piece at the time.)

I remember a few years later I was impressed when he was directly in front of me on line for a Mostly Mozart chamber music concert at Avery Fisher Hall. p

Arlene 9:33 AM  

I also solved this with Across Lite and it doesn't let you type anything in the center square. I first thought we were going after a Cyclops.

pmdm 9:38 AM  

Just after posting my first comment, I discovered the real reason for the circled letters. As the puzzle was originally submitted, a maze was imposed on the grid. As you moved through the maze proceeding to the center, you passed in order the circled letters whic, I guess, are supposed to warn you where you are headed towards and to turn back. Nice. You can see the grid here.

ArtO 9:38 AM  

How many times has Rex had a puzzle accepted by the NYT? Is that, perhaps, a reason for the constant negativism? It's fine to be a critic but it shouldn't mean a negative review every single day! Folks work hard to put these crosswords together and there's often likely to be some "crud" to achieve the desired effect.

A fairly typical Wednesday in terms of difficulty. And not, IMHO, a poor effort by the constructor.

pmdm 9:41 AM  

The link didn't appear above. I'll try again.

chefbea 9:42 AM  

Hated the puzzle. Don't know anything about Greek myths so it was too difficult for me. Too many posts to read so don't know if anyone felt the way I did.

Loved apron...of course I have many!!!

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

How do you allow NSC and NSA in the same grid? Don't the first two letters of each stand for the same thing?

Chris Feldmann 9:59 AM  

The plura of LEGO iris LEGO (or "LEGO bricks").

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Yes Ludy, we should ONLY read people whom we agree with. Brilliant.

mac 10:14 AM  

Except for the NE, I found this puzzle easy to fill in, although I still don't understand "punt".

All these critics of Rex's critique seem to be unaware that Rex does not read the comments after he has posted. Don't feel you need to do it for us, please.

quilter1 10:19 AM  

Nope. This was OK by me. Caught the theme early and just enjoyed filling it in. I did think there would be more of a twist, but it is fine as is.

Caryl Baron 10:20 AM  

Can't get a complete online. All squares filled in correctly. No rebus option on NTY computer puzzle app. No letter at all works. Can't erase any correct square (so Anonymous' method doesn't work).
But I enjoyed the puzzle, the theme was great fun, brought me back to my HS art history days.

Caryl Baron 10:23 AM  

Went to the iPad and hit REBUS, input MINOTAUR, hit REBUS again and got the completion.
So it works on iPad but NOT on the MacBook! NYT, please clean up your act!

Z 10:26 AM  

@Chris Feldman - Fortunately, usage is not determined by corporate fiat. The first answer here is a good explanation.

@Ludyjynn - There has been an unusually high number of anonymice lately, many of them very disagreeable and who apparently think telling us how much they hate Rex and the regular commenters is somehow useful. I glance through the anonymous posts for the occasional question looking for an answer and the occasional cogent observation. Otherwise, I suggest not wasting electrons on them.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

The NYT print version begins: "When this puzzle is done, the circled letters reading from top to bottom will spell something that belongs in the center square."

I fail to see why an "M" belongs in the center square. Can anyone explain to me why the initial letter of Minotaur "belongs" in the central square? I considered putting an "M" there, but left it blank because to me the clue made no sense. Am I missing something?

Joseph Michael 10:41 AM  

Puzzle concept doesn't quite work, but I appreciate the effort. Was surprised to discover that I know more of the myth than I realized.

Thought both the clue and answer for 65A were among the worst I've seen in a long time. Ditto for the answer for 43D. Did like LABYRINTH, TWEETED, and JET BLUE. Agree that Rex's criticisms are too negative.

Anoa Bob 10:41 AM  

Mythology is not my best subject, so after doing this puzz, I ran to wiki to check out the Minotaur meme. Whoa! When I came across the part of how Pasiphaë and her lover got together to beget the half-man, half-beast, all I could say was "Holy cow!". Those Greeks were pretty kinky, right?

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Unlike Rex, I thought it was pretty clever especially for a Wednesday puzzle. And it made me look up the story of Theseus. So fun AND educational.

Still I can do without AARP which is nothing more than a insurance marketer disguised as an advocate for seniors, though not this senior.

And who know that I'd never heard of a city of 12 MILLION - ADIDJAN? Turns out Antarctica and its ice gets more news coverage than Africa and its near wall to wall poverty.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

@Ludyjynn, I fully appreciate the irony here, but skip the anonymous posters for awhile. There is a classic troll posting here the last few weeks trying to pick a fight with anyone. If everyone ignores him long enough, hopefully he'll go away.

OISK 10:49 AM  

Really nice puzzle! Greek myth and geography are right up my alley, as opposed to hip hop slang, rock lyrics, blog names (reddit?..) easier than average for me, but amusing , engaging, clever! My feelings are generally the opposite of @chefbea's, as they are here. That is fine...nearly every puzzle pleases at least one of us.

old timer 10:49 AM  

About halfway through, I thought, "What a great puzzle". Then I noticed a lot of dreck. As in OHNO, RRR, SHOULDA. And at the end, I was frustrated by not having a clue as to what to put in the center square. The idea that it is the whole theme word is unreasonable and unfair.

The other thing I hated was seeing a hint about ABIDJAN. It would have been gettable with crosses. Easily gettable, because logically the third-largest French speakng city in the world is going to be in some former French colony in Africa. Kinshasha, maybe though for all I know they speak Flemish there instead of French. Brazzaville (Congo) Dakar (Senegal) -- I don't think any of the other countries are all that big in population.

To be a good solver, it helps to have spent some time with your atlas. It helps a lot to have learned French, and helps some to have a bit of very basic Spanish and German. And to know those Hebrew months.

Though Rex was a little harsh, I have to agree, the puzzle just does not work. But thanks, commentators, for digging up the original maze design. Which would have been amazing and fantastic, and I'm sorry Will rejected it.

Tita 10:49 AM  

@AliasZ - THANKS for the Clew insight. If I had known that, I forgot it. Cewl.

I also agree with your write-up today 100%, and will take this opportunity to thank you for the musical side-trips.

I loved the game Labyrinth as a kid, and actually, still do. Come now, how many of you slant as old as Rex labels this puzzle and remember that box with a gimbled platform and a metal ball...

Front LOADERS have been 'the' washing machine in Europe forever. They were always low-water devices - Europeans are generally more efficient consumers of resources like electricity and water then we are.
When front-LOADERS became trendy here, they of course morphed into these absurd behemoths that cost thousands instead of 100s.

@chefbea - I often make aprons as gifts for folks - and have many of my own too!

Not my favorite puzzle so far this year, but I still enjoyed the reminder of the colorful myth, and all the stories it is inspiring here. Thank you Mr. Johnson.

Z 10:58 AM  

Anon 10:38 - The center square should be (MINOTAUR), not just M. You're not alone. I left it blank in my puzzle (dead-tree version) because MINOTAUR is too much to fit into the one square, I couldn't draw a pretty picture that small, and an "M" just seems wrong.

mathguy 11:02 AM  

I thought it was very good. It probably would have been better if Will had published the original submission with the maze highlighted. I learned about the original from @John Child -- thanks.

Thanks also to Z for making a strong case for the obscurity of ABIDJAN.

I applaud Rex for admitting he didn't know ABIDJAN. He knew he would get rapped for it. I like It when Rex cops to not knowing certain entries.

Mac. You say that Rex doesn't read our comments. Then who deletes certain comments?

Nancy 11:03 AM  

SHOULDA known the myth, I suppose, but didn't. Solved anyway. Ignored the round circles (I always do; I hate round circles that are irrelevant to solving), so they didn't affect me one way or other.
Wanted ABU DABI at 42D, but what is ISC? Like @Charles Flaster, saved by JET BLUE (though I at first had AER -something-or-other in that space.) Basically, I found it more challenging and more fun than most Wednesdays -- many of which I don't bother with. And I learned something, I guess. Though I have no idea how a THREAD was used to navigate the LABYRINTH.

OISK 11:03 AM  

Apologies to chefbea for my comment above. I was actually thinking of someone else, who sometimes chides me on my lack of more "timely" knowledge.

Chris Feldmann 11:08 AM  

@Z - excellent point!

Numinous 11:16 AM  

Seems to me that OFL is just a guy who has a somewhat larger than normal crossword vocabulary. He solves quickly and does pretty well in the ACPT. It also seems to me that he is not an Authority on crossword puzzles. True, he goes into his write-ups in greater depth than most of the commentariat and he has a few Blog-owner tricks up his sleeve to dress up his remarks, but in the end those remarks are no more or less valid than anyone elses' here. Why pick on him? I am greatful to him for having this blog and making this community possible. We have become a community, have made friends here, made enemies here, met each other face to face, enjoyed meals and feasts and holidays together; we have been blessed with a place to congregate. As for the 'mice', to me. they remain outsiders. Some I feel I would like to get to know but can't, others I could do without. As a group they are no more than skulkers here.

Oh, yeah, the puzzle. Stupidly, at one point I had rODAn instead of KODAK. Took me a few moments to figure out that MINOS wasn't a rING. Fond memories were stirred when I got ARIADNE. When I lived in Geneva I was smitten with a girl named Arianne. My friend Zdsyslaw (pronounced something like Juslav) always called her ARIADNE.
Entering MINOTAUR in the center stumped me for a while but I got there and it worked for me on the iPad app with no problems.
I went to to see what the constructor had to say and discovered that what was a rather blah grid was brilliant in its inception. Too bad it was too far out of the box to be accepted as was. Links to that grid have already been mentioned here and I recommend taking a look at it.

I had forgotten all about the 'clew' and was never really very conversant with the LABYRINTH myth so I was pleasantly surprised to remember THESEUS and the rest of the themers once the theme became clear. To be honest, at first I wanted "lab rat" but it wouldn't fit. Also, I watched the movie Maze Runner a few nights ago and recall contemplating whether there were any similarities with I did recall of the myth. Today, I was surprised it took me as long as it did to figure out the theme as the NW didn't fall until I'd got ARIADNE.

Thanks to REX, the community, WS and all constructors everywhere. Y'all give me an extra something interesting to help me fill my day.

wreck 11:20 AM  

9 seisms in Dallas yesterday! I had never felt one before. There was an internet meme going around with a patio table with only one chair tipped over -- the caption was "Dallas Earthquake - We Will Rebuild!"
I was rusty on the myth, but still finished in medium time. It wasn't perfect, but an enjoyable solve.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

Go back and re-read Rex's write up. He never says he hasn't heard of Ivory Coast, he just wants to know why that extra hint is in the clue.


Susan McConnell 11:39 AM  

@Anonymous at 11:24, Rex doesn't say he's never heard of Ivory should go back and reread the post.

The Anonymice really are on overload lately.

Fred Romagnolo 11:43 AM  

@Barany: couldn't agree more about the Strauss Opera, except for the last 15 minutes. Hands up for being mystified about what to put in the middle square, especially since MINOTAUR was already in the circles. I don't know rappers so I can sympathize with those who don't know Greek myths, although I suspect their loss is greater than mine. ABIDJAN was fair, Rex can sometimes be embarrassing, although I think the anonymouses, are really offensive about him. San MATEO is the county directly South of San Francisco City and County, the only one directly connected by land, so heavy with commuters.

Hartley70 11:51 AM  

Happy with the theme. Happy with the execution. Happy with the Ivory Coast. It's been a good week so far for me. My only concern is that Rexworld is becoming an earworm in my subconscious. Last night I dreamt that I hung out with @Ludyjynn and friends in her giant tricked out white RV. Way to go @Ludy!

Fred Romagnolo 11:53 AM  

Garrick UTLEY was also a distinguished host on PBS programs of opera, a real gent!

Fred Romagnolo 11:58 AM  

I grew up with believing it was string, not THREAD that ARIADNE gave THESEUS, are they interchangeable?

Mazed and Anonymo4Us 12:11 PM  

Kinda different. Drew a little cow-boy dude in the center square. Looks like the minotaur got trapped in a cavein. Or maybe like he's in the light at the end of the tunnel. But, I like different. So, thUmbsUp.

Interestin, that the constructioneer originally circled a different bunch of letters, and had a maze actually drawn within the grid. Of course, that all goes down the mineshaft, anyhoo, once U get the puz into Across-Lite. Which woulda made it one of them "everybody do the newspaper version, or you'll be real confused" puzs... So, trade-offs. It's lonely, at the top, where the Shortzmeister sits, and has to be the decider.

@63: Knew UTLEY. Didn't know ABIDJAN.

Six themers, plus random roamin circles, plus a cavein in the middle... starts to mash things together just enough to buy us some mighty tasty desperation...
* LOADERS. The ultimate, of course, would be RELOADERS.
* RRR. Sound the cow-boy, buried alive in the puzgrid.
* ATH. What a math major remembers, after twenty years.
* STP. St. Patrick's oil brand.
* SOBA. National dish of Abidfeb.


** gruntz **

Martel Moopsbane 12:12 PM  

Will tomorrow's clue for OHNO be "Yohko?"?

Z 12:29 PM  

@Fred R - I believe it's been discussed above, but look at the origin section here. As to whether or not string and thread are different - to my mind they are the same object at different times, it is a ball of thread before the cat gets it, a pile of string after the cat gets it. Maybe be can ask Schrödinger....

Steve J 12:32 PM  

@Z: I'm not convinced we have a swarm on anonymice. I'd bet we just have one or two really persistent trolls, as so many of the comments read with the same voice.

johnnymcguirk 12:48 PM  

Garrick Utley, among other things,
co-anchored CNN's coverage on the morning of September 11, 2001. Just how young are you ?

RooMonster 1:14 PM  

Hey All !
Cool puz, will check out original grid after commenting. Grid looks a little maze like... (squint your eyes) :-)

To amswer the two peeps who didn't understand the PUNT answer, it's in the realm of football, the NFL. When it's fourth down, you "give up" the ball "for now " and punt it away.

I agree that the NE corner was the hardest. Didn't we just have NSA, NSC, et. al. yesterday? Oh well, or OHNO.


mac 1:16 PM  

@mathguy: Almost all deleted posts are deleted by the person who wrote them. I can't remember when Rex last deleted a post, and when he did he may have been warned about something really ugly.

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

He should have gone with Chase UTLEY, all -star second baseman for the struggling Philadelphia Phillies.

Booj 2:00 PM  

Some of the cluing in this puzzle was downright baffling. Not using "Baseball's Chase" for UTLEY or "NFL Scout's position" for ATH were unreasonably sports-phobic clues that turned fill from reasonable to obscure.

Insert fake name here 2:05 PM  

I do love how the regulars with their fake names think they're superior to everyone else on this board with fake names. They're as anonymous as the rest of us, but oh so smug.

LaneB 2:18 PM  

Fortunately knew something about the myths surrounding Theseus and Ariadne from the 17th century French dramatists, particularly Racine. Also Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos. Slowed down by ABIDJAN and UTLEY but otherwise finished fairly [for me] quickly. Enjoyed the puzzle and theme.

Smug! 2:22 PM  

Yes, we are all vastly superior in every way to just your run-of-the-mill Anonymice. Shoot, I thought everyone knew that. Smug? ,Nah!

"You love the smell of your own farts!"-South Park

mathguy 2:44 PM  

I use a fake name because most commenters were using one when I got interested in the blog a couple of years ago. My name is Jack Abad and I live in San Francisco where I was born in 1934. I graduated from the University of San Francisco with a mathematics major in 1956. I worked in the San Francisco public schools for my entire career, teaching mathematics and doing a variety of administrative jobs. My email address is

RooMonster 2:49 PM  

Hey, @mathguy. Jack Abad is a cool name. IMO a cooler handle would be @abad mathguy! What'd'ya think?


OISK 2:59 PM  

I use OISK for the same reason Mathguy uses math guy. But if you click on "OISK" you get my profile, with a lot more info about me than you could possibly want to know. My name is Paul Cohen

Z 3:09 PM  

@mathguy - Ha! Let's see... I've never been to ACPT but have met two other regulars (one a now former regular who came up to me on a field 250 miles from my house) face to face. I've shared emails with a goodly number of others and read peoples' blog posts. I know of the travails others have faced as well as some of the successes and points of pride. I don't use my real name much of anywhere on the internet because there are too many idiots in the world, but if one has the interest one can pretty easily figure out who I am. My Nom de Blog is also my Nom de Ultimate (my first name is common in my age group and is also an ultimate term so something else is needed while playing) and Mr Z was my Nom de Work because the last name gets butchered more often than not. So, when coming up with a Google User name, Z was a natural. Oh, I think Rex is usually pretty funny and the regulars here share my interest in Xwords as well as being pretty good at disagreeing without being disagreeable. I think anyone who thinks we feel superior to others either hasn't been reading very closely or is bringing so much baggage with them that they probably need something different than feedback from me.

It's been said before, but I'll say it again; All it takes to be a regular here is to have an opinion. Adopt as Nom de Blog, say things nicely, and admit it if you're ever wrong and you'll soon have some new friends.

Fred Romagnolo 3:15 PM  

Silly me, I use my real name (who could make up one like that!) I was surprised to know the identity of Mathguy as we actually know each other. We're both people who have slogged careers in the San Francisco schools. Incidentally, he has a great reputation as an administrator.

Numinous 3:25 PM  

@Insert fake name here:
My point was and is, those of us who have Blogger or google+ accounts make ourselves accessible and allow others to get to know us.

@OISK, nice to meet you, Paul.

You too, Darrin V. I think Monster is a wonderful thing to append to Roo. When I lived in Australia, I drove a Mini Moke. When I was driving out in the country, I would be terrified when a roo would hop along beside me fearing that it would decide to bounce off the side of my car to make a sudden left turn. Hitting a kangaroo while going eighty or ninety in the outback will put the car's engine in the occupant's laps without a heavy "roo bar" on the front of the vehicle (a not so uncommon experience). But I digress.
I enjoy getting to know the "regulars" here, it enhances the sense of community many of us share.

Martel Moopsbane 3:31 PM  

Anon 1:24 and Booj - potential clues for UTLEY should tend to increase in difficulty depending on the day of the week.

Monday: Baseball player Chase
Wednesday: Late TV newsman Garrick
Sunday: Poston role on Newhart show

chefbea 3:38 PM  

I too like all the regulars here...have even met a lot of them, and have shared e-mails with many and even play word games with some and shared recipes with others. A great community.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

When is the Times going to hire a better-educated person to construct and edit the crossword? For years, the Times did not have a regular crossword, then Margaret Farrar convinced them and became the crossword editor and it was a good addition to the Times. Shortz is truly uneducated boob, he makes many mistakes--such as constantly confusing DNA with RNA--and depends on pop culture. i.e., soap operas, comic strips, etc. I am not a snob but his stupidity is very irritating. And when he constructs and edits a puzzle with some sort of design or "action", there is simply no consistent rules to follow. It has become a waste of time.

Ludyjynn 4:30 PM  

@Z, @Anonymous10:44AM and @Numinous, Thanks for your input, above. Duly noted!

Mr. Benson 4:43 PM  

I think the puzzle would have worked better, visually, if LABYRINTH had been the word that twisted through the grid from top to bottom (with only one way to get in and out of each section to the next letter), and the word MINOTAUR had actually been placed in the center.

Mr. Benson 4:49 PM  

Also, agreed with the above majority view that @anon 2:27 is way off base in presuming cultural/geographical ignorance on Rex's part. There's nothing in the write-up even hinting at that.

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

@Mr. Benson,

Rex wrote I kept looking for cognates of "ivory" or "coast."

Why would you do that unless you fail to recognize that a country named Ivory Coast even exists? He mistook a rare outright hint for some kind of sly wordplay or misdirection.

Certainly I could have expressed myself more nicely. But as others have pointed out, Rex has a pattern of criticizing a puzzle as being poorly-constructed for no other reason than the fact that it exposes a gap in his own knowledge.

We all have strengths and weaknesses in our domains of knowledge, and we can all try to improve our general knowledge rather than complain. For instance, I've never been much of a sports fan, but I'm taking the time to learn the names of NBA, NFL and MLB teams and their stadium names.

Benko 5:10 PM  

@oldtimer: Kinshasa is in fact the world's second largest French-speaking city, so your instincts were right on. Personally, I like learning about new places, so what might have been a "sore thumb" to some I found a good opportunity for something to read about. I think its difficulty level was appropriate for a Wednesday.

Rex says something negative, anonymous posters get negative about Rex's negativity, then the regular posters get negative about the anonymous posters' negativity about Rex's do see what's happening here, right? Not that I pretend to be above it all.

Ludyjynn 5:12 PM  

Forgot to thank you (I think) for the shout out, @Hartley 70, re your interesting dream... "Giant, tricked out white RV", oh my!

Lewis 5:25 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 5:26 PM  

@benko 5:10 (second paragraph): Well said!

Anonymous 5:27 PM  

I'll wager that they do. And I have been to every one.

mathguy 5:50 PM  

Fred Romagnolo: Thanks for the kind words. I recognized your name but I didn't recognize you from your picture. Please email me. Maybe we can reminisce about our days in the SFUSD.

Casco Kid 5:59 PM  


Online reputation is real.

@dirigoblue, a twitter aquaintance of mine whose Identity is well known, has suffered professionally by allowing his real name to become associated with his online left-wing political activism. His nearly uniformly rich/conservative clientele simply found other "less controversial" service providers, and he's paid for his candor with his family's financial security.

Eric Jarosinski also paid a price for letting slip that he is the hugely popular @neinquarterly. What did his candor cost? His tenure track Ivy league professorship. Evidently, his twitter life was too demanding. Hard to believe, but when Angela Merkel follows you and celebrates your tweets, well, that day job can take back burner. His dean disagreed. #Aufwiedersehen #FailedIntellectual and a big, big #FF!

I'm 2% as popular as @nein and a much tinier fraction as twitter-incisive. I'm also an iota as politically active as @dirigoblue, but could still suffer his consequences. as my customers also may have more money than they do tolerance for dissenting opinion. So, for now while I try to keep my little career going, I must insist on anonymity for that most primal of motivations: Plausible Deniability.

Besides, I'm only a first grader, remember? Leave the kids alone!

Respectuflly yours,


Teedmn 6:51 PM  

Today's theme is one of the few Greek myths I remember from a children's book of them (very sanitized versions!) so I had fun with this one. My AcrossLite version doesn't allow for entering rebuses but usually will accept the first letter, a la @Rex's solution but today it wouldn't let me even get into the center. So no happy pencil but I consider it a finish.

There was dreck but there were some nice clues also - for APRON, CLERKS, OLDS, PUNT, SHOULDA. I liked the puzzle, so thanks, Mr. Johnson.

Since I have a Google profile, anyone can check out my fave books or movies, my alma mater, etc. but for the record, my name is Theresa, if anyone cares. I love coming here for the regular commenters and the crossword education I get from all of you and @Rex, including the links to the various outside passions people display here. So thanks for letting me join the club! Not that anyone will read this, I'm often the last poster :-) .

RooMonster 7:09 PM  

I read it! :-)

And a shoutvout to @Numinous, there's a story behind the RooMonster nickname, one day it will be told! (Cue eerie music) Loved your Aussie story, and best of luck to you and the missus on everything *shitty* that has come about.


chefwen 7:22 PM  

Me too Theresa.

Tita 7:42 PM  

Top 5 reasons to have an actual online persona here...

5. You can choose to have new comments emailed to you (so we can see comments by @Teedmn no matter how late she makes them...

4. You can delete your own posts.

3. Rex might read your posts.

2. Other folks can contact you (though at a sorta safe distance)

1. It instantly makes you superior to all other humankind.

(@Hi Teedmn - I'm Tereza...!)

Carola 8:19 PM  

@Casco Kid - Yikes! I know Eric - or rather knew him before he entered the tenure track...minefield? snake pit?Had the chance to hear him speak last month, but my disability got in the way. Heck.

@Teedmn - I read you! I know when you post :)

michael 8:48 PM  

I am not sure what this says about me, but I knew Abidjan right away. I am confused (as are others) about the center square. Why M? Why not Minotaur? I do the puzzle on paper so at least I didn't have to worry about what to do with the app.

Anonymous 9:37 PM  

@Casco Kid,

I never heard of Eric Jarosinski before, but according to The New Yorker and Slate, it was his own choice to withdraw from consideration for tenure and leave academia because he simply disliked writing the kind of dry academic papers that are a requirement for that.

Is there some other non-public information that you're aware of?

Fred Romagnolo 9:40 PM  

mathguy: I'm maladroit in internet use, did try to get you but failed; try me at Should have mentioned that your good rep comes from the only people who count - teachers. I'm pretty sure I taught your son in then seventh grade.

Way Over the 3 Post Limit Z 12:21 AM  

@Tita - Perhaps you should explain that what makes us superior to the rest of humankind is our special relationship to SpellCasters!

Virginia 3:59 AM  

Rex, why so cranky today? This was a fun little puzzle. The story of Theseus and the Minotaur is an old favorite of mine, so once I got THESEUS, everything else was pretty easy. But it was fun to see how it all fit together, despite some of the fill being pretty dumb (RINSER is not an actual job title). Also, having deleted the NYT Crossword app in disgust last week,this gave me the opportunity to figure out how to enter a rebus in Puzzazz.

I did not remember that ABIDJAN is in Ivory Coast, but I certainly recognized the name once it got mostly filled in with crosses.

Bottom line: I liked the theme and the execution and would love to see more like it. Also, folks who are not familiar with the Theseus myth should read Mary Renault's magnificent book "The King Must Die."

Virginia 4:02 AM  

@Carola, to answer your question, yes, I'm pretty sure that Daedalus's Labyrinth was the original one and that's where the word comes from. Wikipedia thinks so, anyway!

Jennybean 12:05 PM  

Actually if you took high school French you likely would have heard of Abidjan? People in my French books and tapes were always saying they were from Abidjan or traveling to and from's actually a joke with my husband and myself, as his French books also featured Abidjan a lot. So that clue was actually very easy for me!

the redanman 1:21 PM  

Got busy, didn't fully do yesterday so late to the party. Messy, sloppy, ugly fill - Rex nailed it. Blech

Anonymous 6:33 PM  

@ oldtimer,
They speak French and Lingala in Kinshasa. The Belgians were not big on encouraging education during their tenure in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I did however learn a little Flemish in what was the Haut-Zaire, which is the area in Bend in the River and Heart of Darness territory. My two years there were one year after an Ebola outbreak and just before they realized HIV was a problem there. The dancing was wonderful. I loved going to Kinshasa on my breaks to listen to the bands. You could already tell though that things were destined to fall apart under the reign of Mobutut Sese Seku Kuku Bendu Waza Banga.

As for those who choose to dis the anonymice, some of us don't consider ourselves good enough to play in the big leagues with those who finish puzzles in 4 minutes. Rex dishes it out so he's a big boy and should be able to take it in return. Agreed that some of the anonymice seem to cross the line of good taste, but the harshest thing I've ever called him is a buzzkill which I turned around and admitted I can be too,

Quite frankly I don't want my clients knowing how bad I am at most of the classics, classical culture and sports trivia in these puzzles. My memory banks don't hold that info too well.

So from your lofty levels of expert puzzle solving, don't stomp on the mice. We are much smaller and vulnerable than the great elephants with their prodigious capacity to remember things forever,

Z 7:08 PM  

@anon6:33Thursday - I hope it is clear that it isn't being "anonymous" that is the issue - it's using anonymity to be trollish that is the issue. As for "not good enough" here's what I wrote earlier, "All it takes to be a regular here is to have an opinion. Adopt a Nom de Blog, say things nicely, and admit it if you're ever wrong and you'll soon have some new friends." Personally, I think someone with a couple of years of life experience in Kinshasa could add something to the discussions here.

Aketi 7:37 PM  

Ok Z. I'm taking you up on this.

Had it not returned in the latest and biggest out break I would have chosen the nickname I adopted for the Xbox when my son first Introduced me to Dead Space (which is the best scary gane I've ever played). Given Ebola's recurrence, however, I've abandoned that one. I lived about 200 km away from one of the earlier outbreaks when I was young enough to feel invincible and now it makes me as sad as the massacres in Rwanda did. So I'm nowpartially uncloaking as Aketi which is a dinky dot on the map pretty much in the middle of Africa. The locals called it Aketi bisengo, which means joy or happiness in LiNgala. Be kind. My memory banks are degrading with age and the trivia stashed within contains eclectic tidbits from traveling to obscure places to work on nutrition programs. Not much good on other trivia.

Tita 7:58 PM  

Welcome, @Aketi!
Not many of us are in the real "big leagues". Lots of us, myself included, don't time ourselves. A Friday or Saturday could take me all week, and even then, I often don't complete them.

Many here will tell you that coming here regularly will improve your crossword experience - not by memorizing crosswordese, but by learning about construction. You also learn (and not just about crosswords) from the commentors' comments...I just learned something from your experiences in the Congo.

See my tongue-in-cheek "Top 5 Reasons to not be anonymous" at the end of Tuesday's comments.

And please don't confuse our close-knit community with clicquishness (sp). We just like each other!! And in my coupla years here, have been welcomed myself, and in turn, seen lots of other new folks arrive.

@Z - amazingly well said. Thanks.

Virginia 10:06 PM  

@Aketi, nice to meet you! For what it's worth, I am so not in the crossword big leagues that I frequently use Google to find answers. Sometimes even on a Monday. My husband thinks it's cheating and refuses to borrow my answers when I do it, but I have no shame.

Also, I am almost breathtakingly ignorant about Africa and would love to hear more about it.

pfb 2:10 PM  

I'm inclined to agree with Rex on this one. SOB and SOBA in the same grid bothered me.

Jill 3:05 AM  

Oh TY! We had to switch to a computer and click on return to get it to complete. Next time I'll tgy the rebus button twice!

spacecraft 12:15 PM  

Some major problems with this one. In the first place, I'm a bit rusty on my mythology. Some of the elements I could link together, like KINGMINOS of CRETE and the minotaur of the LABYRINTH (marvelous word!), but I thought THESEUS was a real guy, and knew nothing about a THREAD. ARIADNE I dimly recall from somewhere, but her connection to this story ESCAPEs me.

The NE was also hard for me, but not for OFL's reasons. How would you clue SHOUT? Definitely not this way: give me a BREAK! "Give me a SHOUT??" OK, I'll give you a shout, Greg:


And out comes the flag. Whilst we're at it, let's penalize RRR--and the entire west central section. ITSAT ISH SOAMI ACTIV: OOPS! SHOULDA reworked that area.

After doing this I need RINSERS. C-.

longbeachlee 12:19 PM  

I had no idea that mythology is part of the real world common core. My life has been wasted.

Bill Young 12:51 PM  

Actually thesus did not have a sword but broke the Minotaurs neck
Then he left Ariadne on some beach alone

rondo 1:56 PM  

No mythologist am I. Had to get the themers with crosses. Guess I missed out on all those pointless stories by studying engineering, which can actually provide for a living.

Wasn't THESEUS a book by Roget??

Isn't ARIADNE one of those new pop-tart-singers??

SOAMI was actually a 16th century painter. Check it out. No less obscure than much of this puz.

Agree with someone above that STP (Scientifically Treated Petroleum) is an additive, not an oil.

As stated numerous times, too many abbr.s
Did not much like this puz :-(

Burma Shave 2:16 PM  

SHOUT TRUTH to the masses
so everyone HEARS,
this LABYRINTH puzzle
left me INTEARS.

DMG 3:06 PM  

Made it through the maze, but needed the U in MINOTAUR to get JETBLUE which in turn led me to the African city. I had originally been looking for ABU..something, but I guess that's further east? At any rate, I finished up and confidently drew a bullseye in the center of my on paper solve! So it goes!

rain forest 6:25 PM  

I guess it's time to admit that we down here in Syndiland *are* superior to your average commenter, particularly the anonymice, although we, ourselves, are anonymous, too. Maybe I should reveal that I am actually Stephen Hawking, but I think that might be intimidating to some. So no--I'll remain rain forest, say I like @Rex, I like this puzzle, and I just *hated* thatf SOB and SOBA were in the same grid. Can you imagine?!

Sum Dimho 8:22 PM  

Where is Detroit?

Anonymous 8:26 PM  

Hated it too! I wish they could ban Greek mythology and obscure operatic references from crosswords! Kind of takes the fun out of em! And I thought abidjan was a bird known to sit on statues.
Who knew???!

Waxy in Montreal 8:45 PM  

ABIDJAN might be no. 3 but we're no. 2! Stabbed at most of the theme answers having only encountered the Classics Illustrated version of the myth but obviously needed a sharper SWORD, finally floundering at the SOBA/ARIADNE cross. Also, had SAE rather than STP for my motor oil choice.

Must have missed the passing of Garrick Utley last year. IMO, back in the day, he was one of the most erudite & trustworthy foreign correspondents on TV, especially when reporting from London in the 70's.

Waxy in Montreal 8:47 PM  

Whoops, make that foundering.

Anonymous 9:36 PM  

Rondo, I am an engineer also and had very little difficulty with this puzzle. Finished faster than a typical Wednesday.

strayling 9:48 PM  

Bah. Buy a pen; pencils are for wusses.

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