Law firm employees / THU 7-23-15 / On tenterhooks / Preternatural

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Pretty tough, maybe like a Friday almost

THEME: Letters of "Supercalifragilisticexpiolodocious" are Crushworded into the central 13

Word of the Day: LUNA 
The Luna programme (from the Russian word Луна "Luna" meaning "Moon"), occasionally called Lunik or Lunnik by western media, was a series of robotic spacecraft missions sent to the Moon by the Soviet Union between 1959 and 1976. Fifteen were successful, each designed as either an orbiter or lander, and accomplished many firsts in space exploration. They also performed many experiments, studying the Moon's chemical composition, gravity, temperature, and radiation. Twenty-four spacecraft were formally given the Luna designation, although more were launched. Those that failed to reach orbit were not publicly acknowledged at the time, and not assigned a Luna number. Those that failed in low Earth orbit were usually given Cosmos designations.[1] The estimated cost of the Luna programme was about $4.5 billion.
• • •
Tough! Almost 13 minutes. Didn't get at all what was happening for a long time, but then it became clear that I had everything around the edges of the grid but nothing at all in the middle. That's a little on the weird side. Got MARY POPPINS (62A: Musical featuring 39-Across) but thought 39-A then had to be CHIM CHIMINY, CHEREE etc. etc., you know the one. But it was that other song, parsed as in the grid: SU-PER-CAL-I-FRAG-I-LIS-TIC-EX-PI-AL-I-DO-CIOUS. Don't make me type the 13 downs! I won't do it.

Lots of maddening (good maddening) moments here, knowing IMF had to be right for (Global capital inst.) and NORAS for (Comedian Dunn and others) but neither making sense there. Wasn't expecting a Crushword (who ever is, really? -- it's the underhand serve of crossword themes) so it was effective in perplexing me.

So yeah, I thought this was pretty fun. The clues were tough and it took me long enough to grok the theme idea that I felt slow about it afterwards. That's OK once it a while, infuriating but OK, to get bested a little on a Thursday. Well-played, constructor.

Upper-left and lower-right of the grid were impressively filled. I had H????VI in the lower-right and thought, "Well, if that entry's clue doesn't reference an English king, I'm screwed." But it did. THE TUXE(DO) is also a nice entry.

I'll go ahead and give this an A-, which makes it tops of the week so far. Let's see if Friday or Saturday can unseat it.

Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent of CrossWorld for two more days


jae 12:03 AM  

Mostly medium for me.  Caught what was going on with APOLITICAL and then just needed to figure out how to parse the rebuses.  The NE corner, however, was tough!  Did not know ROHAN or THE TUXEDO and was only vaguely confidant about URIEL.  Plus I put in LOCAtE before LOCALE. 

Also did not know LUNA as clued and had diADEM before ANADEM.

Other than having the stupid song running through my head this was a fine Thurs.  Tricky and crunchy with not a ton of dreck given the constraints.  Liked it a lot.   

Steve J 12:13 AM  

Very mixed bag. Cramming SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALODOCIOUS in the middle was nicely whimsical (even if the non-rebused I's - but not all I's - set off my OCD). But there's a lot of junk in exchange.

Definitely played hard for me. Took me a while to figure out what was going on in the middle row. I sniffed a rebus early on, but I couldn't figure out any kind of hint to what that should be, whether there were certain locations, certain letter patterns, etc. I finally picked up what was happening at 25D. Once I realized what I needed to do with that middle row, it sped things up considerably.

Nevertheless, I completely bogged down in the north central and NE. I didn't help myself with diaDEM in the former. In the latter, my lifelong aversion to any and all literature involving wizards and the like left 17A completely impenetrable, and I couldn't get sufficient downs to do much with that section. DNF for me because of that corner.


wreck 12:13 AM  

Absolutely tricky and crunchy - I agree with Jae! I parsed the theme after considerable time, but finally tired of figuring out the downs. I pretty much quit totally frustrated. Not enjoyable for me, but appreciate the puzzle.

Mark Trevor Smith 12:14 AM  

So frustrating for a while and then fun, fun, fun.

DebinSac 12:16 AM  

I' m with @jae and Jeff Chen. The NE defeated me, too. I finally gave up and googled for Uriel. (I've never actually read Paradise Lost. I remembered there was an Archangel Gabrieli in it, but didn't think there could be another rebus on top if there was not one for the Mary Poppins line.). I liked this and enjoyed the challenge (and always love rebus puzzles), but.... Yeah. That song will now run through my head for hours if not days.

Mark Trevor Smith 12:18 AM  

Michael and Gabriel and Raphael wouldn't fit, and so it had to be Uriel, one of the comic highlights of Paradise Lost. In fact, Uriel can be legitimately blamed for the whole Fall! Without his help, Satan might have gotten lost trying to find Earth.

MDMA 12:26 AM  

The cluing was tricky and "off". A LA is not really "impersonating", PRAY TO doesn't quite fit "implore", etc etc. And "tosspot" bespeaks a wiggly spell-check underline, red like gloaming.

Felt like a Saturday because it took forever to get a foothold in the NE, where I didn't know Jackie Chan and LOTR trivia. By comparison the rebus gimmick wasn't too hard. Didn't realize until the end that it was split by syllables.

wreck 12:33 AM  

I forgot to add that I'm really enjoying Matt's reviews this week! Both fair and enlightening, without bashing the constructors and Will.

Anonymous 12:41 AM  

Agree with wreck! It's been a blast reading Matt's reviews. Nice to have an opinion posted that's not from a recent HS graduate (although those are also fun).

The Minnesota area was my last to fill. I echo Mark Trevor Smith's description of the solving experience.


David 12:52 AM  

Was really frustrated for a whole, due to a combo of the theme and general tough stuff stopping me from getting any footholds. Was afraid I was going to have to put it away for the night until my head was on straighter. But as soon as the theme finally jumped out, about 8 different baffling spots all came clear at once, which made for a nice moment. PER-sian rug, s-AL-tine, en-LIS-ts and others were all begging to be filled in, so they made for one very big EUREKA! There was still a lot baffling about the puzzle, so this might have made for a spot-on themed Friday instead, but even so, really clever work, well done.

Rocky Mountain Gigh 12:59 AM  

It was definitely a tough Thursday, and though I enjoyed it, I thought the cluing was awfully inconsistent.

Some of it was captial-G Great, like : "Sharp shooters?" for NAILGUNS and "Workers with pitchforks" for TUNERS, both of which were super clever. I also begrudgingly admired the misdirection of "42 for Mo" which had me thinking #42, Mariano Rivera, all the way. Sneaky!

But, there was also some really bad stuff. Can ULTRA really stand alone for "Zealot?" Doesn't it have to be Ultra-something? And, is SLID really a great answer for "Declined?" Close, but not really.

But the worst for me was "Kind of sting" cluing FBI. The FBI can execute a sting, but FBI Sting is GREEN PAINT.

Anonymous 1:01 AM  

Very clearly Saturday difficulty (well over twice my average Thursday time). And who on earth can think A Okay is a reasonable anything? The entire puzzle was a slog--clever but so not a Thursday puzzle.

Lydia 1:20 AM  

Actually this is an irregular 16-wide grid, so SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALADOCIOUS is in the centre *14*, not 13! It's divided by syllables, which makes sense to me, so the lone "I"s didn't bother me. I figured it out at SUFFRAGE after a pretty long struggle trying to get a foothold anywhere.

jae 1:21 AM  

Hey Matt - I also @wreck have neglected to tell you how much I appreciate what you've been doing this week. Thanks for the insights and making me smile.

jp flanigan 1:22 AM  

Man, i hated this. Personal taste, i never, ever like rebus (or whatever you call this) style puzzles, they always drive me batty. I can appreciate that others enjoy these...but holy jeepers, i don't. (yes, i just said holy jeepers)

Whirred Whacks 1:25 AM  

Agree with the others about this feeling like it had Saturday clueing. (I was a bit cocky after how easy Wednesday's puzzle went down for me). Today took me longer than my average Thursday.

For those of you who have been wanting a rebus puzzle in the worst way -- well, your wishes have been granted.

Felt smart for knowing FERMIS and SERIES E.

Music man 1:54 AM  

Love rebus and loved the theme, even if I had to ultimately dnf the whole north and left half of the north east. Tough cluing (to me) with some words that I just flat out don't know. Fun though. Love OH SNAP! And I DARE YOU, though early on I was expecting some other rebus theme, thinking I was wanting that to be "I'm all ears"

I skip M-W 3:30 AM  

Tough but fair, I thought, except that when I had it correctly filled in, the app said I didn't. Also, I don't get "OH SNAP" why is that a rejoinder to a zinger?

Back in '64, the Stanford band sang " super-escalated nuclear defoliation; if you shout it loud enough , you will rouse the nation" in [dis} honor of Barry Goldwater and his wish (or was it Curtis Lemay's?) to nuke North Vietnam. That was as the war was just getting started, but it (I'm now sure Goldowater's idea) did lead to Johnson's famous ad about what would happen wer BG elected. Anyway, the mary Poppins song always reminds me of that.

Charles in Austin 3:56 AM  

A refreshing review, without constructor/editor bashing.

It's more challenging, I would think, to find interesting and enjoyable positive things to say about crossword puzzles than to nitpick and obsess on details, obvious bad fill, etc... the latter being a waste of a high IQ.

Thank you for not taking the easy way.

Leapfinger 4:15 AM  

What a lovely tussle!

Wouldn't leave the NW till I got 'er done, though it seemed I might have to GOUP to DOOK. My first thought was of Continental breakfast, not SHELF, but knew enough to pick FERMI over FaRad. Was chuffed to figure out AGASSI, and caught on to TUNERS right away. However, I typo'd in TiNERS, which tickled me, considering the clue's pitchforks. It was when I was trying to decide if the Italian 'seven' is SieTE or SETTE that SUF[frag]ETTE jumped out at me, and that [frag]ment was the big giveaway for the equator. Knowing the endpoint didn't spoil the fun in figuring out how to fit it all in, and it was devious to have APOLITIC and NOTES seem adequate, not to mention APart for A[pi]ECE. Altogether very SUITE!

Don't know what I'LL USE as excuse for my problems in that big beautiful NE corner. I had RAN ANT at one end, and at the other end couldn't figure out why FIRES x FIX wouldn't play nice with INGE. I was doubting diADEM, but staring at that D let me see DEADBEAT, and that broke the logjam.

Have to say I loved THE TUXE[do] junction, which was just preCIOUS.

I'm another who wanted I'M ALL EARS (I'm all EERIE?), and I DARE YOU (any 'you' out there at all) to make a case for that 'lengthening shadows' clue. I felt like a total GLUTS figuring out BEARD from that, and I'm calling a foul on the basis of a systemic gender differential.

Am happy to report I've blocked out the obvious earworm, but admit I've pulled out a parasol and am having visions of dancing penguin 'toons.

It was MAGNIFICENT, Timothy P! Je suis SERIEuSE.

Anonymous 5:26 AM  

Rebus became obvious pretty quickly but the N/NE with Anadem, Luna, Inge, Uriel. The Tuxedo, Rohan, and what superfrag... was a pain.

I'm an ice cream lovin Robot!

Loren Muse Smith 6:39 AM  

First of all, I echo everyone's thanks and appreciation, Matt, for taking the helm this week. I always enjoy your insights. And, again, thanks to Rex for arranging substitutes.

I've never shied away from being the resident uncultured poster here; I had no idea about ANADIM, LUNA, URIEL, and ROHAN. (But did I know NIKI? Heck, yeah.) What's worse, I didn’t know what "pusillanimous" means, never remember "abrogate," and recognize the word "bespeak," but that's about it.

To have something like SPECIOUS in the grid, though, and feeling like I've never laid eyes on that one before, well, I just feel dumb. Man oh man, though, what a great word for crossworld! Google says it means "superficially plausible, but actually wrong." So @Leapfinger – me, too, for the specious "fires"/"fix" cross.

Here's the biggest disappointment for me: I know every single word to the song and could not suss out MAGNIFICENT. Maybe if I had had FBI in place I would have seen it. A while after I saw the clue for FBI, "sting" had mind-morphed into "shot," and I had "rim" there. Sheesh.

My mouthful was initially of sugar, you know, to help that medicine go down.

@jae – I also had "locate." I was going verb or advertisement, not site. And I was prepared to accept "politic" as a word (in the spirit of historic/historical, comic/comical, classic/classical).

@Steve J – me, too on not finishing because of the northeast. Aside from Harry Potter, I don't read wizard books, either.

Yep – the clues for BEARDS and TUNERS were excellent. Another thing I appreciated was that the FRAG was a soft G both ways. Glad it worked out so it wasn't part of, say, "fragment." And SUFFRAGE is so apt, considering what Mrs. Banks occupied her time with.

GOUP is a specious word. Like the Jamaican Chicken Souse I tried to make once. Sposa be a nice chicken soup, but it turned out to be a ghastly, dung-colored sludge.

SOTHEN is a specious word, too. Vaguely Shakespearian, no? “Music hath charms to sothen the savage beast.”

So starting from JAILS over, that due north and northeast dealt me a big ole dnf. That triumvirate of ANADIM, INGE, and LUNA, boom boom boom, just slayed me. In reptrospect, though, the theme, the fill, the clues all bespeak a talented constructor. Good one!

Thomaso808 7:15 AM  

Tough, tough, tough but yay, we got a rebus puzzle! ROHAN and THETUXEDO were gimmes, but as with any rebus puzzle there was some doubt as to how exactly it would play out. INSTRUMENT was pretty easy, which now knowing this was a rebus puz, led to TREX and SUFFRAGE and the SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS was becoming clear. Still a lot work to do - this was not an easy puzzle as others have commented.

@Lydia thanks for pointing out the 16 wide. I did not notice. You still mis-spelled the SUPERCALI... word just like MG in his commentary. How can you be expected to correctly spell a word that is not really a word? That EXPIALI versus EXPIALA is just not right!

Favorite clue for me was 14D "Member of a colonial army" for ANT. Best clue for a little three letter critter that I can remember!

Really tough but very fun solve!

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

Sorry, rebus puzzles don't cut it for me. If you have more letters than squares, build a different puzzle.

A.A. Milne 7:40 AM  

Anon@7:29: Is your name really Eeyore?

Lewis 7:56 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 7:58 AM  

@matt -- Excellent writeup! Funny and insightful. Learned "Crushworded", a terrific term.
@mdma -- Thank you for mentioning that the big word was divided into syllables. At first I thought the division was so random; now it makes sense.

I think Rex would either have waxed ecstatic over this one or given it a deep dark how-can-the-NYT-do-this pan, but I can't figure out which.

GOUP is a DOOK. And does anyone say, "That tinderbox house is going to GO UP one day."? I just don't know. I liked the clues for BEARDS, NAILGUNS, TUNERS, and ANT. I can't find an ATIP definition online -- has anyone found it in their dictionary??? Not knowing URIEL or ROHAN combined with the tough clue for ULTRA made that NE corner opaque, and I finally had to Google. And I learned what the big word meant, or rather, I'm not sure. Wikipedia says that according to the film, it is defined as "something to say when you have nothing to say" rather than "magnificent". And nothing in the lyrics indicates "magnificent" to me.

This one felt like an obstacle course and left me wrung out and satisfied. Thank you TP!

r.alphbunker 8:13 AM  

@Lewis, I too noticed "crushworded". MG should publish a dictionary of crossword terms.

I loved this puzzle. Timothy Polin does not disappoint. This is shown by my liberal use of the comments column in the usage analysis.

I had to be shown that TOPER(for DIPSO), BEE(for FBI) and DIADEM (for ANADEM) were wrong in order to finish in a finite amount of time.

Billy C 8:15 AM  

Here's a fun Mary Poppins entrance ...

Glimmerglass 8:18 AM  

Rebus puzzles? I can take 'em or leave 'em. But I loved this crunchyThursday. Friday hard and lots of fun. I'm reminded of an old limerick:
There once was a man from Japan
Whose limericks never would scan.
When asked did he know,
He said, "This is so
"But I always try to cram as many words into the last line as I possibly can."

Generic Solver 8:30 AM  

The theme became very apparent, so a reasonable solve, when there were obviously not enough grid spaces for some of the easier down clues such as T REX that intersected the theme answer. I'm not sure whether one can enter multiple letters in the online app, but with Across Lite, the ability to enter either the first letter or all letters of a "special entry" was a life-saver, as it would have been utter chaos keeping track of things with just the first letter.

joho 8:36 AM  

Not a snowball's chance in hell.

What a wonderful puzzle I could not finish!

Even with PIALIDOCIOUS in place I couldn't correctly remember the beginning to that phrase. I had reX for TREX which did not help. aSIANRUG, too. And PlAYTO. What a mess.

For a moment I thought it was SUFFRAGette and that answer was not only a "crushword"(thanks, Matt!) but also turned the corner!

I actually got MAGNIFICENT and THETUXEDO but still failed in the NE corner.

The one answer I did not like at all was AOKAY. That is not a word. It is phonetically how AOK sounds, but it is not a word.

Fabulous write up, Matt! Remarkable puzzle, Timothy Polin! Brilliant!!!!

Aketi 8:38 AM  

Thanks to Lord of the Rings and Jackie Chan I started in the North East. I thought of Mary Poppins when I read "mouthful frm a 1964 song". but thought, no way, SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS would never fit in a puzzle.

I think MARY POPPINS is the best role model for nannies. She understood how to rein in the children's misbehavior through even handedness while reuniting the socialite mom and banker dad wth their children. So many books these days are written by dominatrix nannies who employ tactics harsher than the worst orphanages of Dickens time. Mary Poppins taught the parents though example how to achieve the right mix between helicoptering and domination.

AliasZ 8:40 AM  

What a shame that the only way today's trick could be pulled off was to break the puzzle into three pieces. The center landing strip was great fun to figure out, and the SW corner likewise gave me some enjoyment. The north-by-northeast included words that I either never heard or seen in the sense they were clued, or I never heard period. Zealot = ULTRA? It's a rather ILL USE of the word ULTRA, I'd say. Maybe I'LL USE it in the future to see if it works: "Oh, ease up pal, don't be such an ULTRA." Then ROHAN who? Maybe the Zohan. I do not remember LUNA as a Soviet anything. Moth, yes.

GOUP, according to a Dook Univ. publication, is the French word for sludge. It is one of the ingredients in moo GOUP gai pan. Mr. MAGOO uses it in his cooking along a little DIS and a DAB of dat, as does Mr. YANG. It was one of the favorite dishes of Ann SOTHEN, quite a dish herself in her prime. ASTA, a Rep ANADEM walk into a SERIESE restaurant. "Lemme have some of that GOUP you're serving." (Where is Seria anyway? I think it's right next door to Buffa.)

Here's ATIP for you: never stop to tie your shoelace in a revolving door.

Fun puzzle, with some reservations.

Blue Stater 8:45 AM  

Just awful. My worst experience in years. It isn't often that I give up in disgust on a puzzle (even on a Thursday, which is Not My Day), but after a maddening hour, I packed it in on this one.

John V 8:48 AM  

Never got going. Fill was too hard to get a toehold. Too clever by half, for me.

Haiku Nerd 8:53 AM  


Lewis 9:14 AM  

Factoid: At the beginning of the MARY POPPINS film, some of the nannies waiting in line to apply for the nanny position were actually stuntmen in drag.

Quotoid: "I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in MAGNIFICENT glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet." -- Jack London

Nancy 9:16 AM  

This falls into the "Be careful what you wish for; you might just get it" category. For the longest time I couldn't figure out: Was this a rebus? Or was this NOT a rebus? Most of the time, it didn't seem like a rebus at all, except in the places where it did. Such confusion! Such a struggle! I came so, so close to giving up. What on earth was the 1964 musical? Musicals are my thing. I had -A---O-P-tS. That T (for OH StoP, instead of OH SNAP) really threw me off. But there was something about 39A. What WAS that musical that had that long, unpronounceable song? Oh, yes, MARY POPPINS!!! And now I saw that the rebus was occurring across only one line in the puzzle. And now I went from complete frustration to head-over-heels love. I just loved this impossible, Saturday-level puzzle. It has given me what we all seek when we do crosswords: the unshakeable feeling of being an absolute genius!

The toughest answer for me was GOUP. I stared at -OU- for, like, forever. And the cleverest clue for me, by a mile, was the one for BEARDS.

Rip Atip 9:21 AM  

WTF is ATIP? Can anyone find this in the dictionary? What am I missing?

chefbea 9:23 AM  

too tough for me. Got Mary Poppins right away and wanted A spoonful of sugar for 39 across. I too loved the clue for beards

Whirred Whacks 9:26 AM  

@Matt the Super Regent

I, too, have enjoyed your refreshing commentaries on the puzzles. Thanks.

This leads to the question: what other constructors is Rex on good terms with who would welcome an opportunity to come into this forum and do a week of crossword blog commentary? Does Rex get along with PATRICK BERRY or PATRICK BLINDAUER? Would they do it? How about JOEL FAGLIANO? It would be interesting to read his take on the puzzles. ACME, GEORGE BARANY, or DAVID STEINBERG? Or maybe a psychic could channel in the thoughts of EUGENE MALESKA. Perhaps that 15-year old PAOLO did Monday's puzzle. Who do you recommend? Looking forward to hearing your ideas.

pmdm 9:51 AM  

In a sense, Whirred Whacks, doing a blog like this one is problematic. You have to be critical, and you may not have your heart in criticizing your fellow constructors. If you are critical, some may say you are just throwing a fit because someone else beat you to a theme. And you have to be able to withstand some of the criticism from those who comment here, and there's no lack of willingness to criticize in this forum. I could easily believe most of the constructs would rather do something constructive and criticize. I wonder.

Aketi 9:59 AM  

@lewis, I'm using that factoid with parents. If they did a remake of Mary Poppins, who knows - they might cast a manny. Some parents swear by their mannies.
My Dad would have loved your Jack London quotoid. He was a big fan of Jack London.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Me too for A Spoonful of Sugar at first but no fit. Fun puzz!

mathguy 10:15 AM  

Absolutely great! A rebus where the multiple-letter contents of squares were all different. And they were all syllables (thanks @mdma and @Lydia). Also, I learned some things (e.g. that Henry VI was king during The War of the Roses, the word ANADEM). And there were nine goodies which needed to be dredged up for nourishment (e.g. SPECIOUS, NAILGUNS, FERMIS, ABROGATE). Mind blowing!

I hope tomorrow's puzzle is a good one. It's my birthday and I will need some cheering up. I just read Graham Greene's novella The Third Man in which he talks about "an old man past the age of usefulness." Not that that refers to me. Sometimes, when my wife and I go into a restaurant, one of us will say, "There are a lot of old people here tonight."

By the way, the number of my birthday is a member of a very small set of numbers: those with exactly five divisors. I've reached just one of these numbers before and will never hit another.

Ludyjynn 10:32 AM  

UPON reflection, I am of two minds (yin v. YANG?) over this puzz. On the one hand, clever, clever, clever theme and clueing; on the other, a GLUT of questionable (dare I say SPECIOUS) fill including ULTRA, SOTHEN, ILLUSE, ATNO, ALA, ATIP.

I was, like others, beSIEGEd in the NE LOCALE, causing a DNF. Sigh.

Thanks, MG, TP and WS.

Carola 10:50 AM  

Very challenging for me; I had to fight for nearly every square. I couldn't remember the entire SUPERCALI..something....something, so figuring out that row was like parsing the Rosetta Stone. Also had no idea about LUNA, ANADEM, THE TUXEDO. I came within several FERMIs of throwing in the towel but innate stubborness prevailed. Last to go in: the JAILS ULTRA ANNUL ROHAN chunk. Enjoyed the struggle, was happy to finish.

Hartley70 11:05 AM  

@Matt, 13 minutes?!!! Good Grief, you are a star! This was the toughest Thursday I can remember. The theme wasn't difficult, and it was doable but time consuming to figure out the rebus squares. It shouldn't have been a killer but every clue but the 3 themers was a struggle for me. BEARD was my favorite, ANT a close second. The top middle and the NE were the last to fall and it took me a long long time to finish. Still and all I adored the challenge and tip my hat to the constructor!

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

@Ludy, I don't think you know what SPECIOUS means.

Hartley70 11:23 AM  

@Mathguy, think positively. 625 is within your grasp!

Arlene 11:26 AM  

I almost gave up on this - then figured it's Thursday so maybe there's a rebus going on here. Oddly enough, it was SALTINEs that got me started. I already had MARY POPPINS. So from there I went back to all the downs that didn't make sense before (like SUITE) - and the last to go in was SPECIOUS.

I have to say that when you can come back from the brink of DNF, to complete the puzzle, that's quite a good feeling!

Ludyjynn 11:30 AM  

@Anonymouse, I don't think you know what SPECIOUS means.

Z 11:30 AM  

HEY Matt, the poor syndicated posters are stuck on Saturday.

Mexican Girl 11:32 AM  

Separating by syllables is much different in English than in Spanish, so it took me way longer to fill the middle line, even though I knew right away what it was (my daughter just did Mary Poppins for her school musical this spring, go figure).
Anyway, super-duper fun puzzle!! I thought it was MAGNIFICENT

jberg 11:35 AM  

When I saw that OH yeAh at 49D worked with THE MUSIC MAN, I started to put in the latter -- but somehow just at that moment saw that it could be MARY POPPINS, while I already had THE TUXEr at 12D, which gave me MAGNIFICENT. It all fell into place quickly after that, but oh, what a struggle up to then. Repeated restarts.

I don't mind GOUP, but ATIP, ATNO, ATIT,AOKAY were a bit much. Worth it for the splendid rebus, though.

You could argue that the Wars of the Roses started when HENRY iv ousted Richard II, but the crosses made that implausible.

It's getting late, so that's all! Thanks, Matt!

Hartley70 11:36 AM  

@Ludy, yes you may say "specious" and I'll throw in an "argument" and raise you "fallacious". LOL!

nick 11:54 AM  

Also really enjoying Matt's week at the wheel. Not a fan of the puzzle, though, despite the many delights in the cluing. Loved OH SNAP, BEARD, being forced to reach for URIEL. Don't see how zealot (noun) = ULTRA (adv.) In the end there was just too much junk in service of (imho) a dopey film. Also ATIP?

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

I'm with Lewis. Nothing in the song says or even hints at MAGNIFICENT. This puzzle was a groaner. Very tough for me. Clearly not the very pompous Rex...13 minutes? Get a life.

I tire of ANT clues. ULTRA as Zealot? Sure it can be a noun. Toss it out at the next dinner party and see if anyone gets it. ROHAN, really I'm supposed to have a mental map of Middle Earth? Ugh to THETUXEDO and all things Jackie Chan (boring). URIEL, really URIEL? Never at the tip of my tongue (Michael, Raphael, Satan, yes). NAILGUNS for "sharp shooters"? Sharp is an adjective and when it's a noun it refers to musical notes, NOT nails, or even something sharp. And OHSNAP, I say that All THE TIME...

and on and on.

Elle54 12:02 PM  

This was great! Had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to divide up SUPER... Northeast was really tough

Roo Monster 12:16 PM  

Hey All !
Tough, totally in my outhouse today. Nothing was forming in the ole brain. Managed to get NW corner, actually had to cheat and Goog SUPER... to see how it was spelled at the end. Had APart for APIECE until I saw it was EXPIALI, always thought it was EXPALA, so after that was able to get SE. Had rebS fpr UTES, that didn't help. Couldn't remember what musical the song was from. :-( Still not even close to being finished, but will slog on.

ThursOuthousePuz. Ouch.


Lewis 12:17 PM  

@mathguy -- Respectable age, with many years of usefulness ahead; you are certainly useful, interesting and enjoyable here. Happy birthday!

warren howie hughes 12:25 PM  

We, my better half and I, threw ourselves under the Rebus, simply because this THURXWDP by Timothy Polin, was entirely too arduous for us to see to the finish!

Matt Gaffney 12:38 PM  

@Lydia -- D'oh! on the 16x15 grid. Nice catch. I usually fail to notice that a grid is one square oversized, as happened here.

Masked and Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Magnificent U-count: 8.5. AOKAY.

Kinda tough, but somehow the M&A brain pulsed away until it was done (the ThursPuz was done, that is).
The @Gaffneymeister evidently wanted M&A to go ahead and post some bullets, since he left the "Bullets:" header at the bottom of the blog, like one of them fill-in-the-blanks dealies…

* THETUXE(do). Never heard of it, but kinda worked on it like clay, moldin on it, until the whole concept came into view.
* Theme: Figured this out very quickly, which really helped save my baconfat. Did not actually know that the Superyadayada rebus-word meant MAGNIFICENT, but, then, don't slap "Mary Poppins" on the DVD player for too many schlock movie FriNights, either.
* ROHAN. Also an ally of Martin, as I recall. Was this "Middle-Earth" clue somethin to do with LOTR's?
Thought so. (I always fall asleep during these and Harry Potter flicks, so my info is sorta sketchy.)
* ATNO. Mo is Mobyleadbellium, or somesuch. The runtpuzs luv Atomic Symbols. @r.alph even has taken to keepin a day-um diary on how many have been used.
* LUNA. Russian space program? Really!? How's that goin, for em? Are they practicin their landins in Ukraine? Wanted SOYUZ or VOSKHOD. Suspected more rebus shenanigans.
* SERIESE. Looks really cool and desperate, just sittin there, writ-out in the grid. Primo entry.
* TR(ex). fave weeject. Always a pleasure, when one of the lil darlins gets to participate in the puz theme. Luved the moo-cow-eazy-e clue for it: What else is it gonna be? Prehistoric crossword? Well… ok… I guess I'd go to a natural history museum, to check that out…
* GOUP. I'm sure someone in the Comment Gallery has called "Dook Word" on this, by now. "I'll have a goup of that on my cinnamon roll, please. Ah hell, make it SETTE GOUPs…"

Thanx, Polin dude. It was Super-U-weirdo-licious. NIKI sounds more like a Russian space program, tho…



old timer 12:43 PM  

Absolutely nothing came to me for a long, long time. I did know URIEL from Paradise Lost. And MARYPOPPINS made it clear that that nonsense song would be chopped up, and I figured out most of it. That's when I quit. Probably would have soldiered on if I had gotten ULTRA, which is indeed an extremist. Example: If you are a Frenchman who wants to see the return of the monarchy, you are a Royalist. If you ectually expect this to happen, you are an ULTRA. ISIS, it seems to me, appeals to the ULTRAS in Iraq and Syria.

So I had the bottom half of the puzzle, not the top. Would have preferred to do this on a Saturday.

Joseph Michael 12:44 PM  

It wasn't until I came here that I realized that GOUP is two words.

Loved the puzzle, though I DNF in the NE with the cross of LOCALE and ILL USE. Couldn't get past LOCATE and thus couldn't figure out how one barbarian would ILTUSE another.

The fact that the center row divides into syllables only adds to the MAGNIFICENT construction.

Thanks, Timothy, for a great puzzle and Matt, for a great week of writeups. It's been a welcome breath of fresh air.

Danield 1:31 PM  

Shout out to Timothy Polin. Great job on this one. I agree that it was somewhat more difficult than the typical Thu, but well worth the effort to solve the great clues (highlighted in prior posts) and interesting factoids like (like Agassi's dad). Can't imagine the time and effort that went into creating this one, but very much appreciated. Thanks.

Masked and Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Shoutouts to the Crowd:

@Lewis: yep. Knew someone had caught GOUP and done the Dook Word Award ceremonies. Good work, my son.

@Carola, @muse, etaliadarlins: M&e, too, on ANADEM, the garland of mystery. ANA-DAY-UM, dude.

@mathguy: The way old M&A looks at it, every new age number U get to see is a Primo Prime Number. Have great happy b-day, tomorrow. Go all fibonacci on the joint. Fractal til U drop. etc.

@r.alph: Mee too, on BEE sting. We was at least part right… F. BEE twerkin-I., bro!

@Gaffneymeister: primo write-up, again. I'd give it a BEE+. (U could get an even higher mark, if U supply some of yer own bullets.) I didn't latch onto the 16x15 vibe, either. More for yer moneybucks, tho. har: I just luvluvluv writin @Gaffney. (Sounds like m@Gaffney.)

fave cartoon name: GLUTS MAGOO.

"Old C-Roll and Gluts"

G. Mendeleev 1:37 PM  

There is nothing specious or argumentable, and most certainly nothing fallacy, about the Atomic Number of Molybdenum being 42. It's elementary.

Mette 1:40 PM  

Such fun. Figured it out with the first three letters at SUFFRAGE added to added to the last two letters of APOLITICAL. Even then, it wasn't easy. Like some of you, the NE was a struggle for me. Thanks to TP and WS for the work-out.

Bert the hot chestnuts vendor 1:46 PM  

Blimey and cheroooo

Fred Romagnolo 1:54 PM  

@Jberg: you hit it right, most Shakespearean scholars think of the plays from Richard II thru Richard III (chronologically by reign, not order of composition) to be the Wars of the Roses saga. It was during Henry VI's reign that the actual plucking of the roses in the garden occurred, which gave its name to the whole historical period. During WWII (the BIG one as Archie calls it) we referred to them as "Victory" bonds; after the victory we reverted to referring to them as Series E bonds; same number of letters! @Muse: I think, when you said Shakespearean, you meant "If music be the food of love." I caught on with SUFFRAGE and ENLISTS ( just a coincidence that sette follows at right angle). I still don't get OH SNAP - anyone?

Fred Romagnolo 1:58 PM  


Anonymous 1:58 PM  

Hey @Fred, I have an idea. Google "Oh, snap!" and see what you learn.

George Barany 2:14 PM  

Interestingly enough, recently retired Yankee great Mariano Rivera had uniform number 42 (he was grandfathered when MLB retired number 42 in tribute to Jackie Robinson). Even more interestingly, Rivera's nickname was "Mo" -- which I am quite sure was not a reference to molybdenum.

Charley 2:44 PM  

Awful. Horrid. The pits.

Can someone tell me what ATNO means for Mo Rivera's uniform number (18 across)?

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

Another puzzle based around popular culture that is dated. I'm not familiar with Mary Poppins or the songs from it, so I just gave up on this because if the song is not familiar nothing is going to fit, even if you figure out that each square is a rebus or crushword. first time I've tossed aside a NYT puzzle in years. Just pointless.

RAD2626 3:34 PM  

Brutally hard. First time I have had to cheat in months, er, weeks. No @Nancy genius moment. Tried forever to make sense of AT NO for Mariano Rivera's number. (@George Barany, Rivera was the last grandfathered 42 to retire. On April 15 every year now, all players and umpires wear 42 for the day). Cluing very hard but fun. BEARD, ANT, and NAIL GUNS particularly clever. Is AT NO for Atomic Number really acceptable?

@Mathguy. Happy Birthday. The movie version of The Third Man is a classic and recently redigitalized to make the dialog understandable.

Jerrold Krasny 3:45 PM  

You mean to say 42 for MO wasn't for Mariano Rivera (only kidding). Great puzzle, unique and definitely not chopped liver.

Anonymous 4:13 PM  

@Anon1159, when sharps is a noun, it refers to musical notes, and never to nails, or even something sharp...??
Ever since HIV came on the scene, essentially EVERY room in any clinical setting has a 'sharps' box [usually wall mounted] for disposal of used hypodermic needles, scalpel blades, etc. But that isn't the whole point. Try to take some of the edge off. I think you'll enjoy it more

Never once thought of the BEE sting Boys, but my mind did drift to RAY.

Thought this was a nice bit of cross-Polination, full of high-bred vigah.

Tyler James Young 4:23 PM  

"Oh snap!" is a rejoinder to a zinger because it is what people say after someone says a zinger. The less anachronistic clue might have been "burn rejoinder" since nobody says "zinger" anymore.

Mike D. 4:27 PM  

There seem to be a A lot of whiny anonymice today. Or are they all the same person?

weingolb 4:39 PM  

I'm whiny and will continue to be until MAGNIFICENT is explained as the meaning of you-know-what.

Google ain't divulging.

PL Travers 4:56 PM  

Despite that recent revisionist film, I have never forgiven Walter for remaking my severe Poppins to suit the culture that swoons over 'kittens in Technicolor booties', as JD Salinger put it. Generations admired her for the strict framework within which she worked her magic, and didn't need her made into a bit of fluff that heals all ills with a trill and a dimple.

Now, Dick van Dyke as Bert the Cat's Meat Man, I have absolutely no quarrel with.

Ahh, the West Wind is turning. Spit spot!

Anonymous 6:01 PM  

Can someone explain what "dook" for "go up" means?

Masked and Anonymous 6:13 PM  

@weingolb: Superyadayada is explained in Wikipedia as:

The roots of the word have been defined[4] as follows: super- "above", cali- "beauty", fragilistic- "delicate", expiali- "to atone", and -docious "educable", with the sum of these parts signifying roughly "Atoning for educability through delicate beauty." According to the film, it is defined as "something to say when you have nothing to say".

So, MAGNIFICENT might be a bit of a stretch.

@Anon 6:01pm-- Dook = Do OK = "Scrape by". Showed up in the 16 Dec 2014 NYTPuz. Goup, similarly, = Go Up = "Burst into flames". Now, a quiz… GOON = ?

M&A Help Desk

Now you see it 6:15 PM  

@Anon 1801, DO OK was recently used as fill in a puzzle, and quickly joined GO AT as a 2-letter, 2-word phrase turned into a single 4-letter word, esp ill-used since that word mimics the name of an institution known for Blue Devilry.

It's becoming a habit for some solvers to go at these 2x2 words with gusto in their replies; I believe it's a relatively harmless pastime, with fewer dangers than playing with sharps.

In other words, there isno relation between dook and goup.

Masked and Anonymous 6:20 PM  

@weingold: Oxford Dictionary:

Definition of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in English:

Extraordinarily good; wonderful:
the only word to characterize Kepler’s discoveries was ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’
a supercalifragilistic day of fun


1940s: apparently a fanciful formation based on super, popularized by the 1964 film Mary Poppins.

But, what do a bunch of Oxen ridin around in a Ford know?

Outlaw M&A Help Desk.

weingolb 6:27 PM  

@Masked and Anonymous Thanks for helping!

aging soprano 6:32 PM  

Happy bday Mathguy.
We tend to notice the prevalence of old people at concerts, not restaurants.
I am posting so late that all of my solving experiences have slready been mentioned by others.
The first thing I filled in today were the "s" es of all the plurals. I don't know why I thiught of Mary Poppins straight away, but also considered a spoonful of sugar as well SUPETCALI... SALTINE made up my mind for me. Hood night.

aging soprano 6:33 PM  

I mean, good night.

aging soprano 6:33 PM  
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aging soprano 6:33 PM  
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aging soprano 6:33 PM  
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Mark 6:34 PM  

"Magnificent" is perfectly justified as a synonym for "supercali..." The root "expiali" is more likely to be from "special" than it is from "expiate," and "docious" from Latin root meaning teaching/learning continues the positive punch. The wikipedia definition should be "above, beautiful, delicate, special, edifying." In context, something so wonderful has just happened that words fail to be able to describe it. Therefore M.P. needs a super, super, beautiful, inspiring, long, impressive word. It's not simply a substitute for any old word or lack of words but instead a triumphant fist-pump that goes on too long.

Christopher Letterii 7:27 PM  

Really didn't like this clue, as "rejoinder" suggests a response, usually witty, whereas "oh snap" is more of a reaction. It's also usually said by an onlooker, whereas a rejoinder would come from the recipient of the zinger.

Questinia 8:23 PM  

I can't even.

Anonymous 8:27 PM  

Hated it!

Leapfinger 8:48 PM  

@mathguy, your birthday is something that all of us should be celebrating. I hope you and The Closer have the most Super(etal)ocious of all possible days.

As an aside, until you mentioned quite recently which decade you're working on, I had thought, from the tenor of your comments, that you're in your mid-forties.

Nebraska Doug. 10:36 PM  

A big DNF for me. This one destroyed me. Haven't been this humbled on a Thursday in a long time. And I even figured out the gimmick.

GPO 12:04 AM  

Excuse me, wait a second: did this guy say it only took him 13 MINUTES to do this puzzle?

Does anybody else think that's freaking weird?

I had 25 minutes or so at the bar waiting for my wife after work, didn't finish of course, and then I took another 15 or 20 minutes after I got home from the concert we went to. That's at least three times as long.

I am very proud that I Always Finish, and Never Google, but Jesus, it takes me forever compared to the people around here. Should I just shut up and read this blog quietly or are there other mere humans here?

Teedmn 12:09 AM  

Me too on loving the clue for BEARD.

Started 15A with GOUt, thinking if you can have gouts of blood, you can have gouts of flame, but APOLITICAL gave me the DOOK.

Theme fell easily but like many, the NE caused me to officially DNF due to the use of the Check button. I put JAM in at 5D, thinking 5A would be JohnS. Is 'can' a regional term for bathroom? It works here in MN. aRIEL before URIEL So many wrong steps, but it was a blast to do, thanks, Mr. Polin!

@Glimmerglass, your limerick was nicely apropos.

Kevin Mcgue 1:15 AM  

I am new to crosswords and didn't even know wordcrushing was a thing. I knew "The Tuxedo" right away, but it was one letter too long. I started to wonder if Jackie Chan had made more than one film about magical jackets.

paulsfo 1:47 AM  

Liked it a lot.

Regarding ATIP: I'd never heard of it but it sounded plausible. However, after people here mentioned not finding it, I looked in the Oxford English DIctionary and in the New Shorter OED (only 4000 pages!) -- neither of which I seem to use more than about once a year. Neither has ATIP, both have a-tiptoe.
I then looked online and finally found this in the 12/29/11 version of this (Rex's) blog:
"OldCarFudd 12:49 PM
Webster's second unabridged:

atip (no hyphen) = a-tiptoe (with hyphen)

a-tiptoe = on tiptoe; eagerly expecting

Obscure, maybe, but kosher."

So it's apparently in at least *one* dictionary. :D

@Christopher Letterii: you explained perfectly why the clue for OHSNAP is wrong.

@Loren Muse Smith: The only reason I remember "pusillanimous" is from The Wizard of Oz:

"Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a
very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous
creature that crawls on the earth -- or
slinks through slimy seas has a brain!"

oldbizmark 9:38 AM  

no rhyme or reason to how many letters are in each rebus-ed box. found that to be a bit unfair and ruined this puzzle for me.

kitshef 9:50 PM  

Streuth! That was hard. Not just Saturday hard, but challenging Saturday hard. It started so innocently with ASTA being a gimme, then nothing for a long time then ITA, then nothing for a long time. Such a long time since I started that I can no longer remember where I finally started to get going. In the south somewhere.

Getting MARYPOPPINS was no help on the other themers, and then getting SUPER... was no help on the last one.

Like TREX and TYRANT and HENRYVI as a sorty of royalty mini-theme.

Had aSIANRUG and APOLITIC, neither looking great but each looking acceptable, plus the three Is in SUPER... so with five letters down no reason to think there was was anything funny going on.

john shields 4:33 PM  

It's not SUFFRAGETTE, just SUFFRAGE, for black men and for women. And what is ATNO for 42 for Mo?

Hays 8:59 PM  

@john shields, 42 is the Atomic Number (if you missed the discussion from last Sunday, No. is an abbreviation for Number) of Molyb­denum (Mo).

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

I did the entire bottom, below Supercal...., and even had Mary Poppins filled in. And I thought about the "mouthful" of the song but just couldn't figure out how to squeeze it into 39A. Totally frustrated, I gave up, threw my pen at dog, and ran stark naked down the street pulling chunks of hair off my head. Luckily, there was a nice old lady with a butterfly net who apprehended me and walked me home.

Seriously I have never seen a puzzle like this one and hope never to see one again. After coming to this blog, I feel like an ass. It all makes sense and is very, very clever. My humble kudos to Mr. Polin.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA (Where low IQs and being dumb is commonplace).

rondo 1:20 PM  

This is what I get for my birthday? DNF due to some of the N and NE answers, including URIEL, ROHAN, and ANADEM. And fix and fires for JAM and JAILS for starters, and bee and then dea for FBI. What a mess up there. Didn’t have the time or inclination to try to finish it. Even though I got the nonsense in the middle across and all the words crossing it. Good example of why I often dislike Thursday puzzles.

@spacey, how about that HENRY?

NIKI Taylor, super SUITE yeah baby.

There’s my ASTA from my question yesterday about intoto.

And another mention of OFL in TREX, and he’s not there to review. Ha.

Believe it or not, I do still have a couple SERIESE bonds in my possession. Dad had left them in his safe when he passed and it wasn’t opened until 20 some years later when we found the secret hiding place for the combination. I realize those INSTRUMENTs should be redeemed, but I just haven’t.

As cousin Ari in the movie Snatch would say ,”London, you know, the land of MARYeffinPOPPINS.” Off to celebrate for me.

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

This puzzle was precocious, which is the rhyme from SUPER. . .


SOTHEN, I hope to not be put on the SHELF.

leftcoastTAM 5:41 PM  

Everything that needs saying about this puzzle has been said above. Essentially, it was very challenging and, if I could finish (meaning not googled or otherwise outside-aided), quite gratifying and ego-building, at least for me.

Then I saw that Mr. Gaffney tells me that it could easily have been a Friday puzzle and that it took him "almost 13 minutes to finish it." (It took me two hours!)

After working hard for most of the way through it, I was almost sure I had finished. But then I saw here that in the NE I guessed wrong on the URIEL/ROHAN cross, putting an "m" instead of the "R."

Alas. I feel a little like Charlie Brown.

spacecraft 6:47 PM  

Remind me NEVER AGAIN to complain that a puzzle is "too easy." Every time I do, the next day's is a humdinger. My finished (! Yep, it agrees with the solution!) grid looks like a Jackson Pollock opus. Oh sure, I knew the "mouthful" that belongs there, but how many letters in which squares? APOLITIC looked AOK (NOT AOKAY, PLEASE!!!) to me, but it turns out the only single letters were three I's. Not together = APart; sure it does. perfect antonym. No-o-o. Turns out it's A PI E C E. My terminal approx. went from ETA to ARR, back to ETA, and finally, on the FOURTH writeover, to ETD.You can't even read it; it's just a mass of deeply pressed ink.

And that was far from the only problem. The cluing! Straight out of Saturday. There is no other possible slot for this puzzle. Too tough even for a Friday. "What shadows become as they lengthen--" without even a "?"!!! BEARDS. How could you not put a "?" at the end of that clue? I found one softball clue, for INSTRUMENT. I can't even imagine trying this solve if it had been "Will, e.g." So, thanks for that. Can't do too much with DEADBEAT; that's pretty much a gimme. But virtually all the rest: wow!

Do please never let us see "AOKAY" again. After that, HENRYVI is a walk in the park! No big deal. RN's at the end of people's names is far from ideal, but it beats randomly selected years during which nothing history-worthy happened. I won't call this MAGNIFICENT, but I'll go along with the A- grade. And a rating of UBER-challenging!

Madeline 3:43 PM  

Loved this one! I too had a hard time getting started and was about to give up for the time being, then TREX let me know that 37 across had to be that song I still can't get out of my head and never could stand. It was fun fitting in the syllables, though I didn't even realize they were syllables until Moma pointed it out. More of these, please.

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