Latin diphthongs / THU 7-9-15 / Nabors title role of 1960s TV / South Pacific island nation that's only 8.1 square miles / French narrative poem

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Constructor: John Guzzetta

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: RIGHT ON CUE (61A: Prompt ... or a hint to entering five answers in this puzzle) — five theme answers start as Downs but then veer right (i.e. Across) at the letter "Q" (neat trick: the "Q" word formed by the Across is clued separately):

Theme answers:
  • ILLEQUIPPED (1D: Not ready) / 24A: Produced laugh lines?
  • SUMMERSQUASH (5D: Crookneck, e.g.) / 38A: Put down
  • GIANTSQUID (10D: Army terror?) / 33A: Pounds
  • PEPSQUAD (50D: School spirit raiser) / 67A: Leg muscle, informally
  • ANYREQUESTS? (48D: D.J.'s invitation) / 68A: Challenges for knights
Word of the Day:  LORDE (11D: 2013 Grammy winner for "Royals") —
Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor (born 7 November 1996), known by her stage name Lorde, is a New Zealand singer and songwriter. Born in Takapuna and raised in Devonport, Auckland, she became interested in performing as a child. In her early teens, she signed with Universal Music Group and was later paired with the songwriter and record producer Joel Little, who co-wrote and produced most of Lorde's works. Her first major release, The Love Club EP, was commercially released in March 2013. The EP reached number two on the national record charts of Australia and New Zealand.
In mid-2013, Lorde released her debut single "Royals". It became an international crossover hit and made Lorde the youngest solo artist to achieve a US number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1987. Later that year, she released her debut studio album, Pure Heroine. The record topped the charts of Australia and New Zealand and reached number three on the US Billboard 200. Its following singles include "Tennis Court", "Team", "No Better" and "Glory and Gore". In 2014, Lorde released "Yellow Flicker Beat" as a single from the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. // Lorde's music consists of the subgenres of electronica, pop and rock, including dream pop and indie-electro. In 2013, she was named among Time‍ '​s most influential teenagers in the world, and in the following year, she was in the Forbes‍ '​s "30 Under 30" list. (wikipedia)

• • •

I'll start by saying I think the theme is clever and well-executed. Revealer is a solid phrase, and the theme is based on solid wordplay. The fact that the Across parts of the theme answers are all stand-alone answers, and are clued as such, is a nice added touch. Puzzle would be considerably less interesting if those Across parts were just clued with a "-" or something. So, good. But the problem, once again (Once. Again.) comes when we get down to everything that Isn't part of the theme. The fill. She is NOISOME. Not always, for sure. NOISOME, for instance, great. Actually, let me rephrase the issue. The fill is not overwhelmingly bad. It's creaky and unpleasant in perhaps too many places, but despite your LAIs and your EPHs and your INEs and your INYOUs and a lot of other less ugly but awfully common short stuff, it stays just this side of acceptable. Until it doesn't. Until the bottom drops out. Until the worst 3-letter answer I've ever seen, the worst 3-letter answer in the history of crosswords—worse than any Random Roman Numeral or plural suffix or anything. I challenge you—sincerely challenge you—to find a three-letter answer worse than OES (58A: Latin diphthongs).

You do not get to pluralize a diphthong. In this case, the diphthong is not two discrete letters. It's "Œ" (fittingly, today, made (on my Mac) by typing [Option-Q]). You can break it into two letters—it's certainly represented that way in writing at times—but you can't break it into two letters and then *pluralize* it. That's nonsense. I mean, nonsense. AES? Would that be an acceptable (non-Adlai Stevenson-related) answer? Jesus Mary and Joseph, I do Not understand how you don't tear out As Much As You Have To in order to refill the grid without OES. That answer is shameful. All the goodwill this puzzle built up with its cute little theme—right out the window. I will remember the atrocity that is OES and nothing else.

I got the theme quickly today. Here:

I guess at that point I didn't know that the pivot point would always be "Q," but I knew pivoting was the point and the point was pivoting. I had real trouble with SUMMER SQUASH, as "Crookneck" is totally meaningless to me. Also EPH. was NEH. and ETH. (?) for a while, and the trying-too-hard (TTH) clue on TAYLOR, predictably, threw me (9D: Swift, in music). Phrasing there is too forced not to have a "?" on the end of the clue. Later on, I wanted PEP RALLY and even PEP DANCE (?) before PEP SQUAD. ANY REQUESTS is a question, not an "invitation," so yuck to the cluing there too. See also "vehicle" as a clue for IRA. Why are you spending all this time trying desperately to cutesy-up the clues instead of spending it Getting Rid Of OES!? Gah. There is only one acceptable "O.E."—the common New Zealand term for "overseas experience." It's a longish period spent abroad, traveling and working, typically in one's 20s, traditionally in London. But even that term you'd be hard-pressed to pluralize. I mean, really. There's a reason OES hasn't been in the NYT since 1994 (!?). And even then it was clued, mysteriously, as [Whirlwinds]. I'm not sure the cruciverb database even has that right. [...does some googling...] OMG, there seems to be a definition of OE as follows: "a whirlwind near the Faeroe Islands." That Is One Specific Whirlwind.* I beg you to forget OES or anything I have told you about all the various OES. It's been dead and buried as an NYT answer for 21 years. Here's to 21 more.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*speaking of wind, "A"-less EOLIAN is pretty ugly too (65A: Wind-borne). Like OES, only 1 NYT appearance in the entire cruciverb database (2002).

[Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


jae 12:07 AM  

Easy-medium for me.   Caught the theme at SUMMER SQUASH and it went pretty quickly after that.  

Erasures: Cnote before SPOT and REprint before TREAD (shoulda checked the crosses). 

EOLIAN is still wafting around in memory.

Rex is right, OES is not attractive especially as a plural, but John apologizes in his Xwordinfo comments.  And I quote

"The whole grid almost died with 58-across. The saga included trying to move black squares, dream up new themers, inelegantly split up the revealer to eliminate the interlock, justify random three-letter "words" with Wikipedia (OGA, it's a peninsula in Japan! That works, right?), and even expand into two different Sunday ideas. But in the end, I held my nose and used a word, OES, meaning "whirlwinds," which is probably known mostly to Scrabble players. I hope solvers can look past this blemish."

LORDE was a gimme from Trivia Crack.

The LAI/NAURU cross could be tough if you aren't a crossword addict.

Like my Thurs. a bit tougher, but this was fine.  Fun, breezy solve.

George Barany 12:10 AM  

This puzzle by @John Guzzetta was a nice capstone to a day spent tracking down DOI numbers of literature references for a chemistry paper I've been working on. According to, the constructor feels just as bad about OES as @Rex. Plus, his oeuvre has inspired @Hayley Gold to come up with another spot-on webcomic (click on the link).

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

"Boy, DOI!"
"DOI right now, boy!"
This had me baffled a full ten minutes after I finished the puzzle.

Anonymous 12:19 AM  

Definitely medium-challenging. Two points:

1. I was surprised it took me so long to see GIANTSQUID as my favorite all-time clue is "Army threats?" for OCTOPI.

B. A BOSUN (also bos'n, short for boatswain) is not a petty officer. A bos'n's mate, however, is. Bos'ns are officers.

Good write-up!


wreck 12:24 AM  

"Army threats" is perfect for Whirred Wacks project! I thought this was a nice puzzle (despite OES). Really enjoyed it!

MDMA 12:31 AM  

Never heard of LAI, but the cross NAURU was a geography wheelhouse gimme.

OES was only a problem because I never ever heard of NEHIS and figured œ was a digraph and not a diphthong. But per Wikipedia it turns out that œ was invented in Latin to represent the "oi" diphthong of Greek. Maybe classical scholars were aware of that but I certainly wasn't. It's fun trying out pronunciations like Oedipus as Oydipus... subpoyna? amoyba? foytus? and the foyderal government. It's almost a pity that late Latin changed this pronunciation to a plain "e", which we inherited, otherwise we'd all be talking with a stereotypical old-timey Brooklyn accent.

OES last made an appearance in 1994, at the very start of the Shortz era, but per xwordinfo it was a perennial entry in the Maleska era and earlier, usually clued as "Faroe Island whirlwinds" or similar. Crossword puzzles used to be a lot Scrabblier and we're fortunate to be living in a golden age of computer-assisted puzzle construction.

EOLIAN is "wind-borne", while AEOLIAN from exactly a week ago is "wind-blown". Glad we got that straightened out, and I'm sure we'll all keep this subtle distinction in mind from now on to avoid any vocabulary faux pas.

Whirred Whacks 12:44 AM  

I had no problem at all with the constructor making a plural out of a diphthong. It served a noble purpose: nice puzzle. (I think Rex got a little too prissy on this subject; but it's probably just entertainment on his part.)

MDMA 12:52 AM  

Rex: if, at the end of a date, you are asked "Would you like to come in?", and you interpret that as a question rather than an invitation, then you will probably die a virgin. Some questions are implicit invitations.

Whirred Whacks 12:53 AM  

@wreck Thanks for the kind thought.

Several of my favorites so far are:

"Lighted-headed workers" -- not only employees at a Friday afternoon beer bust, but also MINERS

"Break one's word" -- not only the act of telling a lie, but also HYPHENATE

"Dry measures" -- not only units such as bushels, quarts, and pecks, but also RAIN DANCES

Steve J 12:55 AM  

It seems like there have been several turn-a-corner puzzles so far in 2015. I'm too lazy to look it up, but I feel like we just had something similar a few weeks back (probably on a Sunday).

Nevertheless, this was nicely done. I definitely liked that the across portions of each themer were real words, with appropriate clues. That's definitely a nice touch. There's some nice fill elsewhere, too.

Yeah, there's OES. Hardly great fill. Hardly the epic disaster Rex makes it out to be. Fer chrissakes, we had DNAS as fill quite recently. If we live in a world where that's "acceptable", we can live with mere OES.

Steve J 12:58 AM  

Oh, I'm sure I'm having an incredibly dense moment, but I'm not getting the connection between GIANT SQUID and its clue (Army terror?). Can anyone elucidate?

Aketi 12:58 AM  

@MDMA, good one!

The puzzle evoked a vision of QUESTing after ORCAS and GIANT SQUID in a SPEEDBOAT.

Pete 1:01 AM  

@Steve J - I had a similar dense moment, until I realized that squid had a multitude of arms, hence army.

Steve J 1:14 AM  

@Pete: Ah, of course! Thanks for clicking on the lightbulb above my head. Great clue, now that I finally read it the right way.

DebinSac 1:19 AM  

I' glad you explained the Army thing, Pete, because I sat there wondering why it wasn't a Navy terror.

Music man 1:58 AM  

Tough one for me today, finished, but ended up googling many words. Knew something was up when I was getting words that had to end in Q, had the UE on the end of 61a and inferred it was something about Q/CUE. When I finally got RIGHT ON CUE, I was thinking it would be the word RIGHT on the downs instead of Q, I was looking forward to reading a mega-rant about that lol, but fortunately I cracked it with ILL EQUIPPED. oer AND oes?! How?! Liked the theme but could do without most of the fill. Wanted BOILS at 28a, I know absolutely nothing about Harry potter so that made things tough.

Also, is it just me, or do speed boats make wakes, not waves?

chefwen 2:55 AM  

Tough one for us too. Took a very long time to get QU bendy thing, I can't even remember when the lightbulb moment occurred, but it was pretty well into the puzzle. Took me forever to get off of the V8 vegetable juice, in fact I could have made good use out of one of those cans when I figured out PISTONS. DOH!

Good puzzle when all was said and done, it just took a long time to get it done.

JTHurst 6:04 AM  

Good and tough puzzle. Took a while to 'grok' to square the 'Q'. I was really energised by the 50a clue instead of the normal expected clue like "The Palace players?", we got something automotive, the first I have seen besides Beach Boy car references.

I really hope this is a foreboding of more automotive clues like "Enzo's favourite color?" or "Foose's show is called ?" We could cut back on the biblical, rap, and French word clues and load up on "Gas Monkey", grease under the nail clues.

'Overhaulin' should be the number one show on TV.

QED 6:19 AM  

From the constructor at Wordplay:
The whole grid almost died with 58-across. The saga included trying to move black squares, dream up new themers, inelegantly split up the revealer to eliminate the interlock, justify random three-letter "words" with Wikipedia (OGA, it's a peninsula in Japan! That works, right?), and even expand into two different Sunday ideas. But in the end, I held my nose and used a word, OES, meaning "whirlwinds," which is probably known mostly to Scrabble players. I hope solvers can look past this blemish.

QED 6:19 AM  

From the constructor at Wordplay:
The whole grid almost died with 58-across. The saga included trying to move black squares, dream up new themers, inelegantly split up the revealer to eliminate the interlock, justify random three-letter "words" with Wikipedia (OGA, it's a peninsula in Japan! That works, right?), and even expand into two different Sunday ideas. But in the end, I held my nose and used a word, OES, meaning "whirlwinds," which is probably known mostly to Scrabble players. I hope solvers can look past this blemish.

Anonymous 6:31 AM  

DOI turned into a DOOK for me once I got "Boy toy" in my head for an answer. The rhyme did me in. (And yes I know there is a comma after Boy in the clue. Sometimes our (my?) brain(s) ignore essential bits based on predispositions.)

Like many other comments, I liked the puzzle in spite of OES. I remember "helping" my father do crosswords when I was quite young and being amazed at his fund of what I called "crossword puzzle words." A few obscure/awful answers do not tweak me as much as @Rex.

- Jim C. in Maine

Rex Porker 7:05 AM  
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Casco Kid 7:11 AM  

1:42. No errors or googles, so PROUD but boy, what a haul! Deep, persistent wrongness everywhere. Lucklily, most of my wrongness was only a letter or two off the correct entry so I could keep going. In the NE every entry was wrong at least once, except for OTTER, which I came to distrust. (Do otapi have webbed feed? Wait. What are otapi again?...)

[Lump] poOl GLOp before GLOB
[Army locales] fortS campS before BASES
[Dance and drama] AcTS before ARTS
[Bit] mOTe before IOTA
[Borrower] LendEE before LOANEE
[Sherpas, e.g.] nepaliS guidERS leadERS before PORTERS
[Hogwarts professor] a rebus with {dumble}dore which meant that I was working off the wrong trick. Then albus before SNAPE.
[O Captain] dirGe before ELEGY
[Latin diphthongs] aES before OES

Essentially unclued, aka who? wha? aka needed every cross

Solve exoerience was draining, but I was lucky today so I can't complain. Fine idea. Fine execution. Vague, Friday-tough clues.

Glimmerglass 7:16 AM  

OES could be clued "Baby's injury (var.)" Ugly, but maybe better than "Latin diphthongs."

Rex Porker 7:18 AM  

I have been doing puzzles for a really long time, yet I still have cow when I see bad fill. Every puzzle has bad fill, so every puzzle makes me give birth to a cow. You think I would have learned by now, because cow birthing really hurts. Yet I somehow keep letting these steers take advantage of me, so I'm always pregnant. With a cow. Ouch.

Zeke 7:20 AM  

My experience with this puzzle: Wow this is hard. Wow this is hard. Wow this is hard. Oh. Wow this is easy!

Haiku Nerd 7:31 AM  


RAD2626 7:32 AM  

Thought this was a terrific puzzle, OES notwithstanding. Gettable theme from ILL EQUIPPED and having Q words that stood on their own was a nice touch and helped the solve. Had bLOB for GLOB and hORdERS (total brain cramp; I do know what a Scherpa is) so struggled trying to figure out why a BI AND SQUID was an Army terror. Wonder if the clue for POSSE means the old fashioned cowboy deputized citizens, or the new kind of celebrity hangers-on? Clue could be either.

Lewis 8:11 AM  
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Lewis 8:13 AM  

I loved the clues for GIANTSQUID, TAYLOR (did not think it was trying too hard), ELATE, and IRA, and there was much tricky cluing besides -- cluing overall, thumbs up. I liked ELEGY, LUNCHMONEY, and JETTISONS. It was a gritty solve, my favorite kind. I thought the theme answers were excellent.

I think of RIGHTONCUE as "perfectly timed" rather than "prompt", unless I'm missing something. Am I?

Regarding OES, I'm ambivalent. If I have a pimple on my nose and that is all another person sees, then the other person is shallow, right? But on the other hand, if there is a word in a puzzle that clearly doesn't follow the implicit rules of what should be in a puzzle, should you ever allow it in a puzzle? Can we put BLCTH in a puzzle, say, if it justifies a tremendous puzzle otherwise? So I guess it comes down to how acceptable is OES, and I'm just not sure one way or the other.

dk 8:32 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

POSSEs my get stars but I give moons: Ha!

The laugh lines over GIANTSQUID as a terror with many arms carried the day.

I have been playing Words with Friends (now I do not have any) and have used both OES and NOISOME see earlier parenthetical phrase. So no need to apologize for OES.

Ran through every Andy Griffith Show character until I remembered that it was Gomer PYLE, not Floyd or Otis or Opie or Aunt Bea or Barney Fife. Now of course I have the whistling in my head from the theme.

Boring story alert!

Was once asked to deliver a speech to a school on bullies. I compared them to serial criminals making reference to the Hillside Stranglers etc. And, that in many cases a bully cannot be reformed as they may be addicted to a need to control so -- when caught and punished -- like a large mouth bass they just hide in the weeds until a new opportunity comes along. Needless to say Psychology Noir was not a hit with the administration. When I was asked: Should we not try to understand the bully and attempt to address the root cause? My response was: You mean aide and abet? Every kid in the room who had been bullied nodded in agreement. I was not asked back.

AliasZ 8:33 AM  
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AliasZ 8:34 AM  

I think "turn-the-corner" themes are becoming RETREADs. Still, this was an excellent example of the genre, made more interesting by the separate cluing for the tails-turned Q-words. Nice touch.

Jeff Chen points out that the theme phrases actually turn left. If you head south and turn right, that would be west. In the puzzle the themers head south and turn east, which is left. But then "stage left" is "right" to the audience. And we are the audience.

@George, "œuvre" - nice touch. ŒS is pretty bad, especially coupled with ŒR. I also disliked NEHIS since I was knee high.

I.M. architect PEI. Here's my business card.

I am composer LAI. Francis LAI. Does anyone still remember me? "A Man and a Woman", "Love Story"? Where do I begin? On second thought, the French narrative poem is a much better clue.

I was going to offer a work INE major with four Sharps, but one of them already spoke, and I don't think there is any music INS, major or minor. Thus I opted for a LAI insted.

Guillaume de Machaut (1300-1377) was a French poet-composer, whose poetry was greatly admired and imitated well into the 15th century. As a composer he was part of the Ars Nova movement. Machaut mostly composed in five genres: the LAI, the virelai, the motet, the ballade and the rondeau. He also wrote the first complete setting of the Ordinary of the Mass ("Messe de Nostre Dame") which can be attributed to a single composer. Here is one of his secular songs, the monophonic LAI "Qui n'aroit autre deport" from "Le Remède de Fortune."

Have a great Thursday.

quilter1 8:35 AM  

Very enjoyable. I got the trick when I saw crookneck and SUMMERSQUASH had to be it. Did not even notice OES and don't care.

joho 8:49 AM  

Jeez, @Rex, I hate it when you focus in one ONE THING in such a negative way! This is an exceptional Thursday puzzle that deserves accolades not a rant on OES. And you, of all people know that the constrictions of a grid can back you into a corner, in this case OES, that you just can't get out of. To me, these three squares in no way take away from the brilliance of this puzzle. I especially loved that the phrases turn at Q. And, as @Rex stated that all the new words going right are great.

Bravo, John Guzzetta.

NCA President 8:58 AM  

@jae: I'm a crossword "addict" of sorts, and that LAI/NAURU crossing was brutal for me. Also, I had Cnote first as well.

@MDMA: My cursory google research says that EOLIAN is basically the same aeOLIAN. The only distinction is that aeolian may be more directly linked to a musical instrument. I think I would have liked a "var." in the clue just as a courtesy.

As for OES (ŒS), is that diphthong the same as the written out German form of Ö? Because I most certainly know it better from German than Latin (cheap, lower-tier education alert...). But maybe the biggest faux pas is the inclusion of OER in the same puzzle. Missing OED for the trifecta.

I got the ARM-Y connection only having read the xword review. I kind of like it...but only kind of.

If I could comment on the xword blog, I would tell Mr. Chen that, while I appreciate his engineer geekery, the clues are oriented to the "right" from the perspective of the solver. So while, from the word's perspective it does indeed move south and then takes a left to the east, at the very same time from our perspective, it moves south then takes a right to the east. Try not to overthink it, mkay?

I'll say this was a bit harder than the usual Thursday...mostly due to cluing and odd spellings.

And Rex...NEH in the New Testament? NEH?? I mean we don't all need to be Bible scholars, but that's just inexcusable.

pmdm 9:23 AM  

The hint is for the benefit of the solver, and from the point of view of the solver the theme entries turn right in the grid. Don't overcomplicate. {Actually, I am jesting. I love seeing other perspectives pointed out.)

The write-up states that you cant pluralize a diphthong, which is "nonsense." I guess the following sentence is nonsense. "How many Ss are there in the word MISSISSIPPI?" Obviously, the sentence is not nonsense, and the pluralization of the letter S is not nonsense. So we have a new rule today: you can pluralize letters but you cannot pluralize diphthongs. Now that is truly nonsensical.

I do acknowledge one problem with my example. To be perfectly correct you would write the question this way: How many esses are in the word MISSISSIPPI." But it's common usage to contract esses to Ss or S's - although while the use of S's is common such a use is, I think, grammatically incorrect. Is that true Grammar Nazi? Anyway, if you insist on using esses as the plural of the letter S, then you would insist on using the word oes as the written out plural of the letter O.

Perhaps I overcomplicate.

Michael C. 9:24 AM  

This is being good at crosswords: L _ I is what you're looking at. Had to be a vowel. Options LAI, LEI, LII, LOI, LUI. All of these except LAI could be clued more easily/appropriately (which is likely for bad fill) (Hawaiian wreath, Roman 52, French law, French pronoun) so you guess, correctly and with apretty high level of confidence, LAI. Bingo, happy pencil. (Similar guessing game applies to the NAURU cross...).

grammar nazi 9:27 AM  

@pmdm: That was beautifully stated, and grammatically correct.

Peter Phillips 9:36 AM  

Rex Porker's epic, futile quest to rid Rex Parker of his absurd quixotries.

Billy C 9:40 AM  

I don't get why such a big flap over OES. OE is a diphthong, It can be pluralized. Yes, a bit unusual, and not crafted into the puzzle voluntarily, but so what? Besides, the vertical crosses were benign. "Overseas Experience" better known??!?!? And Rexy goes on and on with it, ... And on and on and on and on ...

BTW, @Professor Barany .. As always, tnx for the pointer to Hayley's WebComic. She's a very clever and entertaining lady. But it looks like she mistakenly took the clue for 41A (get tiresome => wore) for 42D (unoriginal work => retread). Nit, nit, nit ...

Z 9:48 AM  

Rex states things with more passion than I would, but I usually pretty much agree with him. Not today. In English we generally write dipthongs as two letters, so no big problem for me with the separated OE. And if you have more than one you have OES. Besides, nothing, N.O.T.H.I.N.G. is worse than RRNs. So OES once every 21 years is fine by me. Now, if we see it once a week I may go Rex on it.

Jabber was yAk -> gAb -> gAW -> JAW. My HEMOSTAT started life as a rheOSTAT. C-note to C-SPOT. Yes, I struggled through the middle.

Liked the theme a lot, very well executed. I prefer EQUIPPED and REQUESTS to the SQ words, but what a great way to get five Q-words into the grid. The fill was good enough.

@D.K. - I encouraged a three prong strategy, understanding the bully's needs and finding socially appropriate alternatives to fulfill them, understanding the victim and giving him or her the skills needed to not be a victim, and making the adults alert to bullying and intervening to stop it early. Even doing all this, a school never cures bullying, and must always focus on it.

demit 9:59 AM  

"Cute little" theme? You'd think someone who likes words would be a little more interesting in how he expresses condescension.

Rug Crazy 10:08 AM  

Partials "Do I" and "ONS" just plain sucked, but the puzzle was clever and otherwise enjoyable.
I am a robot

jberg 10:09 AM  

When SQUASH wasn't long enough for 5D, and I saw that it could start with SUMMER, I was looking for a rebus at the end -- meanwhile I had had QUIPPED, but gave it up for C-note. Finally got enough crosses to see that it really was QUIPPED and C SPOT, and then saw the round-the-corner trick. Nifty.

I didn't mind the dipthongs, but it seemed wrong to give us the dipthong-less version of aEOLIAN right beneath it.

But ERE as a conjunction? Preposition, yes, adverb, sometimes, but conjunction? Am I missing something? I guess I can see an argument for it, but i don't like it.

@RexPorker -- Steers? I guess you're a city fella. Steers are steers, rather than bulls, because they've been castrated.

Phil Schifley 10:13 AM  

I had Death Squad for 10D "Army Terror?" before I got the correct answer. Still not sure what that clue means.

Mr. Benson 10:16 AM  

I don't see the objection to the clues for TAYLOR and IRA. I thought they were great.

Norm 10:17 AM  

Given that the crosses were extremely easy, I see no reason to get worked up over OES. I hope Rex has had a physical recently. I worry about his blood pressure if little things set him off to such an extent.

Mr. Benson 10:18 AM  
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Mr. Benson 10:20 AM  

For those asking about "Army terror": it's a pun, hence the "?". Think of "Army" meaning "having arms (lots of them)."

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Hey could somebody else ask about "army terror?" Could somebody else explain it?

Laurence Katz 10:26 AM  
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old timer 10:29 AM  

Thanks, @AliasZ, for another wonderful piece of music.

Thanks, Mr. Porker, for another hilarious putdown.

Personally, I *liked* OES, though I first put in "aes".

I found the puzzle quite easy *for a Thursday*. That's because I love to grow (and eat) crooknecks, so when I got SUMMERS QUASH I was able to go back and fill in ILLE QUIPPED, and then have a good laugh when I wrote in RIGHTONCUE. My only hold up was GIANTS QUID because I did not understand that army pun. For quite a while I had SPEED ? (bump?) so adding the BOAT was the last thing I did.

Now, since I really liked OES, my criticism would have been that LENDEE is not a word. You'll never see it, anywhere. That's the word I would have moved Heaven and Earth to change, were I Mr. Guzzetta.

Steve J 10:29 AM  

@NCA President: The resemblance between the Latin OE and the oe substitute for ö are purely coincidental. For one, the ö sound in German is not a diphthong; rather, it's a single vowel sound. It's quite distinct from o, and since American typewriters and typesetting machines generally didn't support diacritical marks, the oe (and ae/ä and ue/ü) convention was established to distinguish the two different sounds.

@pmdm: Technically speaking, punctuation is not a function of grammar, but rather of style. Most style guides will specify using 's to pluralize individual letters, both so as to avoid confusion (e.g., dotting all the Is) and to be consistent across all letters (i.e., no one is mistaking Ss for a word, but they may mistake Is for one, and it would look odd to have I's but Ss in the same text or publication).

And if I were to pluralize the letter O spelled out, it would probably be ohs rather than oes, precisely because the latter spelling would imply a different vowel sound.

Laurence Katz 10:30 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Generic Solver 10:37 AM  

And to round out the derivation, EOLIAN (or more commonly AEOLIAN) is named for AEOLUS, the Greek god who was the keeper of the winds.

As I mentioned last week, Aeolia was a region in Ancient Greece derived from this deity's name, and to quote Wikipedia: "According to Homer's description, Odysseus, after his stay with the Cyclopes, reached the island of Aeolia, who provided him with the west wind Zephyr."

And finally, as I mentioned last time, the diatonic modes in music, including the AEOLIAN mode, were named after various regions in Ancient Greece.

Hartley70 10:40 AM  

@Lewis, think stage where the prompter gives a cue just in time to the unfortunate actor with brain freeze. At least that's how my brain worked.

I had to run the alpabet for the NAURU "R" and it still means zip to me in either direction. I also didn't understand GIANTSQUID until @Pete enlightened me. I was stuck on GI's in the ARMY, or ARMY ants, way scarier, ask @Aketi.

I would give this a "pretty tough". PEPSQUAD saved me for the theme, and then looking back, they were easy, but it took a while to get all the way down to PEPSQUAD! I didn't have to Google, but I did use the "check puzzle" function. OES didn't hit my radar...just fill to get from crosses.

bswein99 10:40 AM  

what annoyed me even more than oes and eolian in this puzzle (though they are really bad) was the cross of lai and Nauru. Having two answers that beg to be googled cross each other is bad. I only got lai because I figured it was the "a" was the only possible vowel since all other vowels had alternatives that were a lot less obscure.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:44 AM  

Here's a RETREAD:

What is the only nationality which is a palindrome?

Arlene 10:46 AM  

I almost gave up on this one - even though I knew that there were Q's and the reveal had something to do with CUE. I was trying to substitute a word for Q - and that obviously wasn't working.
And then - RIGHT ON CUE, ILLEQUIPPED popped up - and the rest fell into place.
LAI/NAURU got me - didn't even bother to guess - what was the point?
Definitely satisfaction at finishing the theme points of the puzzle - glad I didn't give up.

Nancy 10:47 AM  

Hard, wonderful puzzle, with one huge SQUawk from me. ANYREQ at 48D was a big WTF? on my part. First of all, there's no hint from the clue that this is an abbreviation. I had ANYONE, which threw off my ability to get the all-important revealer. Second, I've never heard anyone say "Any req?" Have you? (Haven't read any comments yet, including Rex's; the Serena-Sharapova semi is about to start). My ability to get the revealer was further stymied by DIRGE instead of ELEGY at 56D. This prevented me from seeing NOISOME (which was easy to get, once I changed to ELEGY and had an E, not a D, at the end of the word.

So I was in the dark for simply ages, as I found myself with ILL-Q at 1D, PEPSQ at 50D and GIANT SQ at 10D. Didn't know what the hell was going on, since I still didn't have RIGHT ON CUE. Then I changed DIRGE TO ELEGY and (almost) all became clear. I finished with one wrong letter: aOLIAN instead of EOLIAN and ANY RaQ instead of ANY REQ. Which made no less sense to me than the right answer would have. With this one exception, I thought this puzzle was truly great. But the exception, for me, is a really huge one! Will come back after the match to find out if all of you, as well as Rex, had the same objection.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

@DK - I know you're a somewhat famous forensic psychologist, an expert in criminal psycopathy, but want an opinion from a layman? There's no such thing as a bully, bullies are just misunderstood people whose mothers didn't hug them enough as young children. And there really isn't ever a "victim", "victims" are just people who were too stupid not to have been beaten up/raped/otherwise taken advantage of.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

@Arlene: Um, the point for most solvers is to correctly complete the puzzle. Any other questions?

Hartley70 10:48 AM  

Nauruan? Clever boy, Bobby.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

A Nancy@10:47: It's a theme answer. Stop ranting and turn right.

Michael C. 10:52 AM  

Wow I just said that. I guess you don't read comments.

Tita 11:00 AM  

I do love me exactly this kind of Thursday puzzle! An Oh-so-clever-why-couldn't-I-think-of-that moment when I finally hit the revealer.

Loved Rex's OE tirade, loved @Porker's comment today!! Best one ever.

Thanks be to this blog for learning me why the answer to Army terrors is what it is.

It was med-challenging for me. I thought there were lots of very vague clues, so had tons of white space waiting for crosses, which didn't come.
Actually DNFd because I insisted that 53A had to be NauSOME.
Yay for PISTONS clued automotively. @JTHurst - let's collaborate on a grease monkey puzzle!

What are the chances of seeing AEOLIAN/EOLIAN within a week of each other. @r.alph - can you create an algorithm that analyzes the proximity of appearance of very rare crossword fill?

58A and 65A made me think there was a dipthongian theme going on...

Thank you Mr. Guzetta for a primo Thursday - I just loved it! (And I will remember this theme on its own merit - not cause of OES, which I would have forgotten if not for the rant.

Hartley70 11:00 AM  

@Nancy, FYI the B side of Lorde's hit song "Royals" is TENNIS COURT!! (Caps for emphasis) I thought you might enjoy a new "anthem".

Bob Kerfuffle 11:03 AM  

@jberg - You raise an interesting question regarding ERE as a conjunction. All the references I have googled, plus my paper dictionary, agree that ERE and its synonym BEFORE can serve as conjunctions -- but none of them give an example of such use, let alone a convincing example.

So I will join in asking if anyone can demonstrate such use.

(@Hartley70 - You got it. But note that I didn't claim it was original to me!)

Leapfinger 11:06 AM  

One big old kudo for the brilliant misdirect at 10D. I was still tzudreyt, what with doubting I'd figure out how to stuff that SQUASH before SUMMER was over, so I was ripe for haring off in the Wrong Direction. Can't believe that I'm the only one who thought "Army terror" just screamed for GIANT ANTS. Like, fire ants, carpenter ants, Army ants ... and 'terror' makes them GIANT, right? No fit, however, and specially distracting to have ANT already grinning at me from upstream.

It took a while for the SQUID to emerge from the midEast section; I think they were probably HIDDEN by their seepy INVISIBLE INK. A nice tie-in with earlier puzzles of the week, kind of a QUID FRO quo.

After all that, I still don't get it: maybe for a Navy submarine, but how are GIANT SQUID an 'Army terror'? My apologies if this has been asked already; I hope today y'all forgive ANY REQUESTionS.

@EllenS, thanks for mentioning the fearless invasion of Grenada the other day. I read up on the 10 smallest island nations, and I guess NAURU (the tiniest) was safe by virtue of distance alone.

@Rex, you goethe love a sensibility so fine as to be laid low to the point of distraction by the cameo appearance of OES. Have to admit I hmmphed briefly at the appearance of the A-less EOLIAN, but if we can discuss our A's, our E's, and our I-O-U's... Well, it might be sometimes Y's not to purse our lips over OES.
As for NOISOME, well, I started out with WOESOME, but I don't see the beef there either. If you glance above, you'll see I start my sentences with NO I SOMEtimes.

PROUD to have two Can. provs today: PEI and QUE

Relief it was to not see Luke Skywalker clued as one of the JETTISONS.

One last question: Will @weinGLOB comment today??

Loved the solve, Signor Guzzetta, esp the outstanding revealer. EPH is for Fabulous.

hayley 11:17 AM  

@Billy C---thanks for the tip, fixed it. FYI, you don't need to be tipped off about updates if you subscribe.

Leapfinger 11:27 AM  

Oh crud. Should have read comments, at least to #3. 'Arm-y'...

I think of them as tent-acles.

Danield 11:28 AM  

Kudos and thank you, John Gazzetta. As usual, my thoughts are aligned with those expressed by@Lewis. Compared to analytical types, I probably tend to take more of a "Blink" approach--go by how the puzzle strikes me as I flow through it. I loved the theme and thought the clues were creative and just right for a Thursday. In the end I easily overlooked the minor negatives that Rex and a number of posters have raised.

RnRGhost57 11:37 AM  

Beginning to think that "Rex Parker" should be in the OED definition of "dyspeptic," or perhaps "First World morning diversion."

JFC 11:40 AM  

Rex has deleted six comments so far today, at 7:05 AM, 8:11 AM, 8:33 AM, 10:18 AM, 10:26 AM and 10:30 AM. One of those was apparently mine which was an expression of concern over his well-being when he becomes so apoplectic over something so trivial. I can only imagine what the others said but I suspect most of the others, if not all, were anonymous. I have on numerous occasions expressed my admiration for the tolerance Rex has for comments here. Along with his increasingly shorter fuse for what he sees as NYT XWP imperfections, he now seems to be increasingly intolerant of commentators.

Today’s puzzle is what most would expect from a Thursday puzzle in the NYT. The fact that the constructor had to settle for one really lousy three letter fill word should not distract from its brilliance. The fact that Rex seems incapable of overlooking some constructing issues in a puzzle with this much cleverness and execution says more about Rex than the constructor or the puzzle, which Rex Porker so succinctly illustrated today.


Anyone read the comments? 11:47 AM  

Let's see the blog opened with a copy John Guzzetta's comment from Xwordinfo followed by a reference to that comment followed later by a reposting of that comment.

And then there's the ARMY thing

AliasZ 11:52 AM  

Random thoughts:

- Where is the C-SPOT relative to the G-SPOT? Four letters away.
- Œdema, Œnophile, Œrsted, Œuvre, Œcumenical, Œdipus, Œsophogus, etc. start with Œs.
- We had two NBAers on Tuesday (PACER and CELTIC), today we get the PISTONS.
- Loved JETTISONS and the PORTERS, Cole and Wagoner.
- I think "army" in the sense of having many arms should be spelled "armey", just like "tiny stabber" for a pitchfork having four tines should be spelled "tiney".

"Neither a LENDEE nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry."
(Polonius' advice to Lærtes, Hamlet, Act 1, scene 3, 75–77)

Here is one of the ŒS: Œdipus Rex by Igor Stravinsky. Trust me, it's much better than "Œdipus der Tyrann" by Carl Orff.

As you were.

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Rex Parker - Taking the joy out of simple pleasures.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

@JFC - What part of "this comment has been removed by the author" implies to you that it was removed by the administrator?

Lewis 12:23 PM  

Factoid: Regarding ENERGY, in America, burning coal releases more CO2 in the air than all cars and trucks combined; furthermore, America burns nearly half the world's gasoline.

Quotoid: "When God sneezed, I didn't know what to SAY." -- Henny Youngman

Carola 12:30 PM  

I had meandered down into the SE, leaving a sparse trail of entries, and thus happened to have CUE in place before eny of the earlier theme answers, so I surmised that some mischief might be afoot with Qs. I'd already wondered why SQUASH wouldn't fit in 5D (hi, @jberg), so took another look and saw that SUMMER SQUASH did indeed have a crookneck, well, at least a corner. Still, it took me a while to get the rest - lots of fun getting it all figured out. Last in was the treat of RIGHT ON. Then... I had to think about "Army" for a l-o-n-g time before I understood.

@jberg, @Bob Kerfuffle - I thought of "Able was I, ere I saw Elba."

Leapfinger 12:32 PM  

@MDMA, re (A)EOLIAN: I'd say that anything wind-borne is wind-blown, but not necessarily vice-versa. We're still in trouble if the ywoare pronounced the same.

@Aketi, you can't be questing after GIANT SQUID in a SPEEDBOAT. You're going to need a deeper boat.

@Alias, that was a lovely LAI; it really hit de spot.

Three and the world is safe for another day.

Roo Monster 12:33 PM  

Hey All !
Cool puz. Agree with whoever said the turn theme is getting used quite a bit, but this one was pretty neat. Especially having the turners as actual words. And using Q's as the corner. And with the revealer spelling CUE. So, as you've guessed, I liked it. Had the CUE part of revealer, sussed out RIGHT ON, then went back to NW and confirmed my suspicion on QUIPPED, which I held off because I couldn't see the five letter 1D ending with Q. Then saw the ILLEQ (turn right), and had the ole Aha.

Agree with most on the OES answer, after reading y'all, an okay answer. I didn't like that LENDEE either, (too lazy to go back through comments to see who first said that) because seems like a non-word. And Army, ha! That never came to me till it was explained here. Nice. Held up with the rollover clue, had ute, then suv, then atv, finally figured it must be QUID, and then saw IRA. Nice one.

OES :-)

Mohair Sam 12:46 PM  

Proof positive that ignorance is bliss: Latin is Greek to me. So I blissfully finished this fun and challenging Thursday while struggling to fill every letter of LORDE, LAI, and OES. Then came here to find out that it was a terrible puzzle because OE can't be a plural. Oh my.

Had a Wellesley (near Natick) at LAI/NAURU cross but guessed right.

Fun Thursday challenge - Thanks John Guzzetta.

Masked and Anonymous 12:54 PM  

This ThursPuz has 10-U Immunity. No matter what them snarlin bloggers say, M&A has yer back today, Guzzetta dude.

Lotta fur flyin, over one innOESent lil weeject. ANYREQUESTS crossin RIGHTONCUE really sucks up a lot of the air in that lower central area. Some carnage pretty much has to be expected, desperation-wise, in payback. OES? Can a diphthong be pluralized? Sure thing: "diphthongS". Eazy-E. EOLIAN? It's right there in the dictionary, Webster. ONS? Can a preposition be pluralized? … C'mon … Y'all know.

Enjoyed the solve. Had a tough time gettin started, due to immediate thematic shenanigans in the opening NW corner. "Arm-y" clue was commendably sadistic, since it was on one of them themers which already had the tendency to turn on yah. It kept the NE safe from invasion, until the finale battle.

Thanx, Guzzetta/Shortzmeister.



Bob Kerfuffle 12:56 PM  

@Carola - Thank you for keeping the conjunction discussion alive. Your palindromic example led me to ask, "If "before" is a conjunction, why not "after"? I looked it up, and "after" also was credited as a conjunction, confounding me!

In all my years, I had never learned about Subordinating Conjunctions!

Now where is that hair shirt I must don ere I eat ashes?

mathguy 12:58 PM  

Wonderful puzzle! RIGHTONCUE was a brilliant revealer.

@Lewis: I would agree with you if OES hadn't been so easy to get. Not like BLCTH. Since the clue told us it was a plural, we were pretty sure that the third letter was S. Any experienced crossword solver knows OGLE and NEHI well. Plus the first two letters have to be vowels.

Today it was hard to tell Rex Parker and Rex Porker apart.

Ludyjynn 1:01 PM  

Had to leave the puzzle half done to get to my hair appointment on time. Good thing, as I was not seeing the theme. It amazes me how it materialized immediately upon return! RIGHT ON CUE. This Jersey girl says, MOO!

@MohairSam, hand up for a Wellesley at the same cross. BTW, did you coin that term? I love it!

One nit; I believe Sherpas are considered to be guides as opposed to porters, a separate category of hired hands on Nepali expeditions. Am I right, @JohnChild? My reference point is "The Parable of the Sadhu", which does differentiate the two.

Overall, a nice, gritty Thursday. Thanks, JG and WS.

Roo Monster 1:23 PM  

And to me, "diphthong" sounds like an insult!
Hey, look at that diphthong over there, what a weirdo!


Benko 1:31 PM  

When I was in my early twenties, "O.E." meant one thing--"Olde English" malt liquor. Used to buy quarts of it at the convenience store down the street. Awful stuff unless you're a poor kid.

Nancy 1:35 PM  

Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. @Anon 10:50 was right: ANY REQ was a theme answer, which made it into ANY REQUESTS. (I never read Rex's comments, since I was rushing off to watch the tennis.) Confucius says: Never comment on crossword puzzle without checking on answer you don't understand. I'm surprised (and relieved) that no one else called me out on this. In any event, I'm now re-evaluating this puzzle and calling it ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT from start to finish.

Lewis 1:56 PM  

@mathguy -- I lean your way, as did most of the posters today. I just know nothing about whether a diphthong can be plural or not. If it can't, as Rex maintains, then it shouldn't be in the puzzle, but if it can, as many today gave examples for, not a problem.

Fred Romagnolo 1:59 PM  

Russians (samovars are Russian urns) do not have TEA in their samovars, only hot water. The TEA has been prepared in advance and is exceptionally strong; by adding the contents of the samovar to their glasses of tea concentrate they get the right balance. So, the clue was wrong; and OES is perfectly acceptable, right, Nazi? It was a good puzzle, all told, but, I'm with the anti-EOLIAN crowd. P.S. adding red raspberry jam and lemon to one's glass of tea is heaven (goes perfectly with blinis). My mother's maiden-name was Pashnekova.

Z 2:02 PM  

A lay is sometimes a noun meaning:
1. A narrative poem, such as one sung by medieval minstrels; a ballad.
2. A song; a tune.

The clue was, " A French Narrative poem."

With the current aversion to all things Greek on the continent right now how hard is it to imagine that the "Greek i" would be replaced by "I?". I basically ignored the "French" in the clue since I already had the "I" and the "narrative poem" part made it easy. Sometimes thinking harder about a clue can cause self-induced trouble.

@jfc - I see a bunch of "removed by authors." As for yours, are you sure it actually posted and was removed?

@Steve J - re letters/apostrophes. Of course! Thanks.

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

I call bullshit on @JFC@11:40. I think he's mental.

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

One way to do well at crosswords: read clues incorrectly when necessary. I read "conjunction" as "contraction" and assumed it was some old contraction of "before." Hence ERE. Problem solved.

LindaPRmaven 2:50 PM  

A Thursday puzzle full of ESPRIT and not at all WEARing.

Liked the literary opposition of LAI and ELEGY.

Loved the clues (CUEs?) for MOO (Jersey delivery) and GIANTSQUID (Army terror), and dose of ENERGY for the PEPSQUAD.

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

@Generic Solver 10:37am: Those poor Locrians. Nobody ever plays their least not on purpose. :/

Elephant's Child 2:52 PM  

@ludyjynn, metoo was expecting to hear from some Nepalis ired about that Sherpas:PORTERS thingy.

Obvious it is that the room has fans of PISTONS; surprised that we haven't had a little love for the PISToffs also. My auto-motive is that if you see an overhead cam, you should tappet.

Warm memory from when I was NEHI to a grasshopper is of Radar O'Reilly, who always ordered a Grape.

Perhaps it was the GIANT SQuare, but I went to Columbus CIRcle before Columbus AVE.

Anonymous 2:52 PM  

@Nancy had a little too much bad beer prior to solving this morning, methinks.

Tita 3:03 PM  

@jfc...pretty sure that when Rex removes comments, it says "Comment removed by Moderator" or "by Administrator"...
"Comment removed by Author" is what shows up if a known user (like me) removes one of her own comments - usually, when she reads it *after* hitting Publish and realizes that it is gibberish.

Weird, though - I just happen to remember someone asking about why QUID should not have been clued as singular POUND - I was all happy cause I knew the answer - but when I went to look for that comment, I couldn't find it...

joho 3:22 PM  

@Tita, you're right, that comment is missing: odd! What is the answer?

Tita 3:31 PM  

Hi @joho...
A Brit will say - that costs 20 pounds, or that costs 20 quid. Never 20 quids.
Is there a term for such a phenomena? Does anyone have other examples, of a word pluralized with s, but whose synonym pluralizes like fish?

Z 3:37 PM  

@joho and @Tita and @JFC - I don't know why any comment goes missing, but I know that it has happened in the past. There would be emails of posts, but the posts would disappear. There is also the occasional "unknown" poster. An imp in Blogger, maybe? A "blimp."

NCA President 3:48 PM  

@Tita: Where I grew up, in Nebraska, 24 inches is the same as 2 foot.

Is that what you mean?

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

@ Tita

I think I've heard it both ways used when speaking of the "Euro."

"It cost me 100 Euro" or "It cost me 100 Euros."

(I could be quite wrong!)

Angela M. 3:58 PM  

Yeah, it cost you 130 Euro(s).

Prokopis Pavlopoulos 4:17 PM  

@Angela - Don't you mean 130 Euro + another 5 years of crawling at your feet?


Here are the 35 instances of negativity expressed today about this "clever and well-executed" puzzle:

-once again
-awfully common
-until it doesn't**
-bottom drops out**
-worst 3-letter answer i've ever seen**
-worst 3-letter answer in the history of crosswords**
-you do not get to**
-you can't**
-Jesus Mary and Joseph**
-I do not understand**
-right out the window**
-totally meaningless
-too forced
-yuck to the cluing
-desperately cutesy-up
-getting rid of**
-I beg you to forget**
-dead and buried**
-pretty ugly

(**these 21 entries concern a single three-letter answer )

Anonymous 4:37 PM  

Just watched the LORDE vidoe, and it was amazing - what a talent! Her vocal range spans almost a full octave! And the ennunciation - why I could understand almost half the lyrics!

JFC 4:52 PM  

To those who question my statement about "removed by Author" I also thought that meant the author of the comment but now believe it means the author of the Blog who has complete control over it. And I did check it as being posted before I left the site. It's Rex's blog and he can do what he wants.

To the anonymous post who thinks I am mental, I probably am otherwise I wouldn't be here in the first place. Aside from that, do you have any reason to believe that Rex is not after reading his rant about OES?

How blog comments disappear 4:54 PM  

If the commenter removes the comment it will say:

"Comment deleted
This comment has been removed by the author"

If the blog administrator removes the comment there will be no trace of it. For confirmation of this go back about a week when Rex posted that he removed several comments related to bickering or name calling. There is no trace of those on the blog.

If the commenter thinks he/she posted but didn't, well that's a different story.

Charles in Austin 5:00 PM  

Challenge accepted.

I consider ANY 3-letter compass direction worse than OES clued as a Latin diphthong, which I in fact enjoyed.

Also arbitrary 3-letter abbreviations. Mitch Hedberg explained how to abbreviate Arkansas: You start writing Arkansas and then you stop.

How blog comments disappear 5:00 PM  

To clarify, commenters can only remove comments if they post through their Google Account i.e. you blog name appears in blue. So, I would not be able to remove this comment. Rex, however, could.

Anonymous 5:15 PM  

@JFC: It is in the realm of possibility, even likelihood, that both you and Rex are mental.

Tita 5:34 PM  

@NCA Pres - you found another Noun with Identical Singular & Plural! Now that I see it written, I think I have heard people speak that way - it doesn't sound off to me.

But what I was really going for was a word that forms a "normal" plural, but its synonym does not.
Like pounds and quid.

I had to, of course, go down a google rabbithole on this now...
I found this site:,
but it shows mostly just names of animals, for which "synonyms" don't really work...
(Interestingly, SQUID is one.)

Same site does list:

Stone (as the measure) -
You weigh 100 pounds, but 7 stone. (What is it with the Brits??)

A carrier can hold 90 aircraft.
A carrier can hold 90 planes.

Any others? Where is @lms when we need her...doesn't she get the puzzle in Maine??

Charles Flaster 6:02 PM  

Fun puzzle. Did not catch theme until ANY REQUESTS.Last Thursday and today offered two fine rebuses I thoroughly enjoyed.
CrosswordEASE-- PEI and IOTA.
Liked cluing for PISTONS,IRA,POSSE and ESPRIT.
Thanks JG.

Anonymous 7:34 PM  

@Tita --

Speaking of singulars and plurals: Phenomenon, phenomena (pl)


JFC 8:14 PM  

I'm slower than Rex but I think I'm starting to realize why he used to refer to Anons as Anonymice and now refuses to reply to them altogether....


Bronxdoc 9:13 PM  

Steers have been gelded, and thus are incapable of impregnating anyone - even Rex.

Anonymous 9:23 PM  

@JFC: You are anonymous too. Also, Rex doesn't respond to anyone on this blog, anonymice or otherwise.

Anonymous 10:12 PM  

@Bronx @9:13: I suspect Rex thinks he's capable of having a virgin birth, bovine or otherwise.

Anonymous 10:29 PM  

Place for 2 tablets: SKYPE. My youthful hipness screwed me.

kitshef 10:52 PM  

Medium-Challenging?? No, this was easy for a Thursday.

Every puzzle is going to have some bad fill, but that doesn't make it a bad puzzle. A bad puzzle has lots of bad fill and little good stuff. This puzzle, yes, has OES, but it also has SUMMERSQUASH, GIANTSQUID, RIGHTONCUE, LUNCHMONEY, JETTISONS, SPEEDBOAT, ILLEQUIPPED, ANYREQUESTS, LORDE, ELEGY, and PEPSQUAD. Plus delightful cluing for GIANTSQUID, PISTONS, AND TAYLOR.

This not a good puzzle; it is a GREAT puzzle. This is the kind of puzzle I'd like to see every day, forever.

Anonymous 11:48 PM  

@Tita: does "cows" and "cattle" fit the bill?

Anonymous 12:17 AM  

Rex why are you always so grumpy?

Burma Shave 11:33 AM  


They had ESPRIT and ENERGY, and we had someone to OGLE or do,
but they were too PROUD to make us LENDEEs, they took no IOU.


rondo 11:50 AM  

Not much time today, gotta do vacation things. Like the RIGHTONCUE idea. Knew OFL would not like OES - who does?

TAYLOR Swift, big-time yeah baby, and then some. I would OGLE or PYLE on.

Different EOLIAN today, should one be a var.?

CSPOT sounds more like erotica than money. C-note more common (money).


Lake Geneva calls - maybe rent a SPEEDBOAT today?

OK Thurs-puz


Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Great puzzle thanks to J. Guzzetta. I rate this Medium after sussing out summer squash, as did Mz. Quilter. Boo and boo on the oes thing. Who cares? The giant squid clue is a bit of a stretch. Are there really words like ear-y or toe-y or knee-y? I don't think so. A better clue would have been "Arms full of terror." But I shouldn't complain cause I really enjoyed the solve. Have to admit, I looked up the spelling of Nauru. One of my tiny grey cells turned orange because orange is the new black.

Anyway, enough of my idle jabbering.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA (Where all the schoolboys have girl names and all the schoolgirls have boy names just to confuse the teachers).

spacecraft 12:12 PM  

I knew this puzzle would be @M&A heaven. He believes "INYOU." That, with its cross the inimitable Gomer PYLE, was my starting point. I got the whole thing--theme and clever revealer--from that corner. Still, with Saturday-level cluing, this was no cakewalk. Biggest headscratch was that "Army" thing, which eluded me until @Pete explained it. Thanks, @Pete.

I always thought ANYREQUESTS was an invitation for the audience to participate in the selection process, so no problem with that. Plenty of them elsewhere, though, with those sideways clues. Too numerous to list, I'll just give one example: "Jersey delivery?"

Despite these snags, I did get through it in reasonable time. In addition to getting the theme "RIGHTONCUE," it was easy to plunk down LUNCHMONEY. Hard to come up with a murky clue on that one. SAY, medium. I liked what everybody said about the theme, plus those two Z-shaped blocks in the center, a conceit to the Z's in the constructor's name, perhaps? OES is bad, sure, but I'll leave the cow-having chores to OFL. It's no worse than an insignificant RRN. B.

Longbeachlee 12:51 PM  

Hard until the reyvealer, atnd then easy

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

P.S. to Nancy, Kathy, LeftcoastAM and all the Syndies. I, for one, always go back to the previous day's comments by the Syndies, so please don't feel like you're in the middle of the forest talking only to the trees. I'll bet other Syndies do likewise. The Syndie comments usually start with the Benevolent Burma Shave or the Special Spacecraft, or the Raucus Rondo. Thank you for tuning in. This commercial brought to you by Ipana.

Ron Diego

leftcoastTAM 4:24 PM  

Got it and I'm ELATEd. Hesitated at length over GIANTSQUID, trying to make something of the GI to fit with "army." Didn't understand until I came here.

rondo 8:20 PM  

Yes, what @Ron Diego said at 2:26 about checking back. Even on vacation, when/if possible. Like today.

Vanesha Prescilla 2:54 AM  

Taji Ayam Sabung

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