Antipiracy org. / WED 10-21-15 / Maxim by Publilius Syrus / Cipher creator's need / Between periods equipment / 10-year-old Oscar winner for Paper Moon

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (just 'cause quotes are kind of hard to suss out)

THEME: quote / word ladder 

Theme answers:
  • "LET A FOOL / HOLD HIS TONGUE / AND HE WILL PASS / FOR A SAGE" (17A: ... a maxim by Publilius Syrus, hinted at by the series of circled letters)
Word ladder:
Word of the Day: Publilius Syrus
Publilius Syrus (fl. 85–43 BC[1]), was a Latin writer of sententiae. He was a Syrian who was brought as a slave to Italy, but by his wit and talent he won the favour of his master, who freed and educated him. Publilius' name, due to early medieval palatalization of 'l' between two 'i's, is often presented by manuscripts (and some printed editions) in corrupt form as 'Publius'. // His mimes, in which he acted himself, had a great success in the provincial towns of Italy and at the games given by Caesar in 46 BC. Publilius was perhaps even more famous as an improviser, and received from Caesar himself the prize in a contest in which he vanquished all his competitors, including the celebrated Decimus Laberius. // All that remains of his corpus is a collection of Sententiae, a series of moral maxims in iambic and trochaic verse. This collection must have been made at a very early date, since it was known to Aulus Gellius in the 2nd century AD. Each maxim consists of a single verse, and the verses are arranged in alphabetical order according to their initial letters. In the course of time the collection was interpolated with sentences drawn from other writers, especially from apocryphal writings of Seneca the Younger; the number of genuine verses is about 700. They include many pithy sayings, such as the famous "iudex damnatur ubi nocens absolvitur" ("The judge is condemned when the guilty is acquitted") adopted as its motto by the Edinburgh Review. (wikipedia)
• • •

It's two, two, two Old Ideas in one. I have to say right off the bat that I don't care for word ladders, and (unless they are brilliant / unexpected / genuinely funny) I really really really don't care for quote puzzles. No idea who Publilius Syrus is (I just typo'd "Publilius" like five times). Did he do anything besides say this? Anyway, the quote is kind of tired, and the fill in this thing is adequate and (largely) stale, though SEX SELLS (40D: Advertising truism) and ZAMBONI (29D: Between-periods equipment) are decent. But ADREM? EWW. And ADIN and OOP and OHOH etc. It's pretty rough. And, again, tiring. A walk in the park, but not a terribly nice park. A kind of run-down park. Here's what I remember about this grid (and I *just* solved it): "Ugh, quote puzzle." "Circles? ... I guess I'll just figure out what those do later." "ZAMBONI! Cool." "TOW BAR ... and ... no ... no ... hmm ... OK, it's SKI TOW (?) (8D: Winter lift) ... moving on." And finally "RIAA!?!?! (51D: Antipiracy org.) ... Wow, that is not an abbreviation I am ever likely to remember. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say 'I'm really glad I know who TIA Carrere is'" (58A: Carrere of "Wayne's World"). And that was that. Oh, wait, sorry. I left out one other happy moment: seeing Art Spiegelman's "MAUS" (26D: First graphic novel to win a Pulitzer (1992)). If this puzzle leads even one person to seek out and read "MAUS," it will have been worth it. Phenomenal stuff. "In the Shadow of No Towers," also great. And for a career retrospective, I recommend "Co-Mix." Spiegelman attended the university where I teach, which is completely coincidental to my fandom, but a fact nonetheless.

I was too early for the whole (sad) SAT PREP phenomenon (46D: Extracurricular study for many a high school jr.), so that section of the grid was toughest for me. I'm sure SAT PREP existed, in some form, in the late '80s, but my SAT PREP was me and a book (made of paper!) of old tests. And I went through the whole book over the course of, I don't know, several months, probably. And then I took the actual test. Once. In the spring of 1986. And that was that. Raised my score a ton (from the PSAT), which is yet more evidence that the SAT is a joke. I practiced taking a test, and thus got a lot better at taking a test. I doubt I got any smarter or better prepared for college. This is all to say that I didn't get SAT PREP until the last letter, the "T" in TIA. Man, that woman did a lot of work today. Thank you, TIA.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Mary Lou Guizzo had another puzzle published recently (solo!)—it's yesterday's WSJ puzzle, "Following Orders." Nicer solving experience all around. Delightful.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:47 AM  

Sure. Two ideas in one. I’ve kicked around word ladder puzzles and quip puzzles. I found both kinds really hard, each on their own. But to marry the two ideas. Oh. My. Gosh. How did they Do this?

1. Get a quote that divides evenly.
2. Make sure the first and last two parts end in four letter words that, hey!, can be the start and finish of a word ladder.
3. Place the eight steps of the ladder symmetrically.
4. Go ahead and make sure that two steps of the ladder can be cross-referenced.
5. Throw in some great downs like ZAMBONI, MONOLITH, GOOD BAR, SAT PREP, SEX SELLS, and SO SUE ME.

Two bears in the grid. I guess POOH is the one who PAWS AT something. The KODIAK, not so much. FYI – best defense against a KODIAK attack while on a hike – be with someone who runs slower than you do. Yeah, yeah. Old joke.

I just added this sign to a wall I have with funny examples of English gone wrong: TONGUE

Mary Lou, Jeff – really, really cool puzzle.

George Barany 7:00 AM  

HI, @Rex. I'll strongly second your recommendation of MAUS.

Given the caveats already stated in the review, nice puzzle, @Mary Lou Guizzo and @Jeff Chen.

I had never heard the theme quote, with its attribution, but something impressed upon me very early in my academic career was this: "You can keep your mouth shut and have everyone think you are an idiot, or you can open your mouth and remove all doubts!"

Oh, one more thing, seeing AOL in the grid reminds me of something a friend of mine posted yesterday on Facebook. "The question is not whether the CIA director's AOL account was hacked by a teen. It's: Why the hell does he still have an AOL account?"

Z 7:05 AM  

Hey Look. Bro again. TUESDAY BUZZFEED SPOILER ALERT All the bro-ness of the Buzzfeed puzzle made yesterday's offering less than wonderful IMO, so just another demerit for this puzzle. Bro is the new eel. /SPOILER /rant

I know others like quote puzzles and word ladders, but I'm with Rex on them. At least this wasn't a Sunday quote puzzle.

I was reading a not particularly well sourced list of presidential extramarital affairs and IKE made the list. No SKITOW was involved.

My SAT PREP was partying the night before and taking it hung over. Some wacky tobacky may also have been involved. I still managed to get a very high score. Want to prep kids for that SAT? Start reading to them when they are in diapers (my sons had books before they could roll over). Almost every standardized test they will take is essentially a reading test, including the Math sections of the SAT and ACT. As that old PSA said, reading is FUNdamental.

John Child 7:17 AM  

I liked this pretty well - I don't dislike word ladders, and the quote was well used to set the basis for the word ladder. I got TALL and TALE backwards and had to go back to fix that, so a technical DNF.

@Gracie H -- what fun! Even with the help of the alumni directory I'm stumped as to who you are. My email is in my Blogger profile and on the directory, so drop me a note offline if you wish.

Thanks for the B-Day wishes all... I'm still on the right side of the sod.

RAD2626 7:17 AM  

Thought puzzle was fine but tried to fill in word ladder in order of appearance and knew TALL TALE were answers but could not get them to fit with crosses. Otherwise pretty easy solve. ZAMBONI great as is its clue. Pretty nice Daily Double for Mary Lou Guizzo with today and yesterday's WSJ (which I liked better). Congratulations to her.

mom 7:19 AM  

Hard for a Wednesday, and not helped at all by the GRU/MRE and RIAA/TIA crosses. Otherwise, fun.

Unknown 7:33 AM  

19 A inidle????? in what part of this country is that a phrase?

Charles Flaster 7:33 AM  

Very easy and picked up theme early on.
Write over ZAMBONI for tAMpONs.
SAT PREP was ok in my view.
Thanks MLG and JC.

Eleanor 7:40 AM  

19A "in idle" is a phrase I've never heard. Is it a regional thing?

joho 7:50 AM  

@Rex, I AVOW you say YEOW when you don't like the theme. Your dislike colors your review. Had the theme also been wacky all hell would have broken loose!

This puzzle has two word ladders that take us from a FOOL to SAGE in a four line quote that all fit neatly into the grid ... well done, Mary and Jeff!


The only thing that sounded weird to me was INIDLE. I didn't know that was a thing so wrote in Idling at first.

Nice Wednesday!

blinker474 8:15 AM  

Although I took 6 years of Latin (high school and college, I never ran across the author of today's quote. But the quote was not hard to figure out. Liked the puzzle. My view of Rex's complaints about fill is that constructing a puzzle is difficult, and we should allow a lot of slack. But I really hated 'eww'.

AliasZ 8:27 AM  

It is great to learn new things from crosswords. I knew this aphorism in a different disguise: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt", attributed to Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Maurice Switzer, John Maynard Keynes, an old Chinese proverb, etc., it was fun to learn that its originator may actually be Publilius Syrus whom I did not know until today. In the Bible however we find this: "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue." (Proverbs 17:28) So who said it first? We may never know.

A quick research in Brainyquote shows that we all know aphorisms by Publilius Syrus without knowing the source: "Practice is the best of all instructors", "No one knows what they can do until they try", "Familiarity breeds contempt", "There are some remedies worse than the disease", "Where there is unity, there is always victory", "It is better to learn late than never", "Opportunity is often lost by deliberating", "The weeping of an heir is laughter in disguise", and my favorite: "He whom many fear, has himself many to fear."

Oh, there was a puzzle. From MORONS and IDIOT on Monday, Mary Lou and Jeff stair-steps us from FOOL to SAGE today. How thoughtful. As much as word ladders are trite, this one I found enjoyable because it tied in perfectly with the maxim, creating an awful lot of restrictions for fill quality.

Very clever and enjoyable puzzle though, OOP, GRU, ITD, PAWSAT, MAUS, and a few other clunkers notwithstanding. I liked SEX SELLS because it does, ZAMBONI, MONOLITH, and I'm not looking for Mr. GOODBAR. But I love PAELLA and SOSUEME noodles.

Good Wednesday, all.

Peter 8:48 AM  

I ran into a real problem in the SE corner, which I filled with the following entries:

AVER (instead of AVOW)
YELP (instead of YEOW)
GEL (instead of GOO)
ERP (instead of EWW)

Had to put it down and come back the next morning to search out the problem. But -- while I know the answers are wrong, and don't fit the clues quite right -- I kind of like mine better.

Especially ERP for "That's Icky!"

Mohair Sam 8:57 AM  

Hand up with the masses who have never heard of Pubililius nor his maxim. But the fun of quote/quip puzzles is discovering a new and clever way of saying something old, so we enjoyed this one with its mixed in double word ladder.

Might have naticked at TIA/RIAA but what other letter save "I" could complete a first name for the previously unknown Ms. Carrere. And how many ways are there to spell the name ONEAL?

@Steve J from yesterday - Of course I noticed that Rex hadn't any numbers - but I figured he could count (or get some help from the math department there). But to a keyboard addicted, clock racing solver (OFL) going back to pen and paper must have been akin to swiping the coffee and wite-out from we over-breakfast analog solvers with time on our hands.

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

I don't mind an occasional word ladder or quote, and this one was fine for my tastes. But hopefully it will be the last one for a while. Too many of the same kind of puzzle and things get dull.

Loved KODIAK, PAELLA, & GOODBAR. TAZ was good for a chuckle. AVOW vs. AVER throws me each time either is used, but mostly I'm just tired to death of them.

Difficulty-wise it felt more like a Tuesday puzzle, but I enjoyed it.

L 9:03 AM  

Absolute nowhere.

jberg 9:11 AM  

I don't much like YEOW crossing EWW -- but that is made up for by the most impressive feat of this puzzle, its having one theme answer sitting directly on top of another. And I liked the quotation. Once I got FOOL, I guessed the LET A and HOLD HIS TONGUE, but I was expecting something like "when a wise man speaks" to finish it up, so needed the crosses there. Other than that, my main problem was Tier before TOOL; but then SKI TOW gave me TOOL, which revealed the word ladder, and the only question was whether to go left-to-right or down the diagonals.

Is there RAGU in MREs?

joho 9:18 AM  

Excuse me, Mary LOU!

Hartley70 9:18 AM  

Who doesn't use INIDLE? Oh right, the bajillion drivers out there who don't know or choose to forget how to drive a manual transmission! In ancient times, you were idling when your car was in neutral, ie running but not moving. It's Automotive History 101.

This puzzle was strangely easy to complete considering all that was going on. Between the relatively obscure quotation and the word ladders this was a party on the page, and I had fun! Best Moment was SEXSELLS and worst was RIAA, but it was all a good mix of highbrow and lowbrow.

GeezerJackYale48 9:20 AM  

Rex: I was under the impression that SAT preparation is still big business these days - although perhaps it is now done extra-curricularly?

quilter1 9:33 AM  

Hand surgery yesterday makes it hard to type but I was able to fill in the puzzle by pen. It was OK. Got it all but the actress with only the I missing. How can I update my slang vocab? Never heard of BOGO.

mac 9:35 AM  

I don't particularly like word ladders, love quote and maxim themes, and am pretty impressed with a Wednesday puzzle combining the two!

My last letter filled in was Tia's I, and it was a complete guess.

Yes, enjoyable one.

The Ear Worm 9:41 AM  

I did this last nice late enough that my eyes were crossing and still got a very Wednesday time, so easy-medium here?

I mostly liked this one, though I was a little annoyed at the last three. In a word ladder, I want a different letter to change each time, otherwise, what is the point of the rung.

So SALE, SANE, SAGE was infelicitous, though I admit that it would be a challenge to rework it. Maybe going through SAGA instead, but you wouldn't be able to have your nice TALL TALE that way.

Speaking of which, put me down for one of those that put those two in backwards, but the crosses sorted me out quickly enough, when I found my self looking for a woman's magazine that started LLL_ (though for a half a second I thought it was some sort of silly/clever phonetic joke) --- kind of like a corollary to pirate joke, but with the Asian liquid consonants turning 'R' to 'L' ... You know: what's a female Japanese pirate's favorite magazine? LLLL.

Okay it's a stretch...

Back on topic, also didn't love IN IDLE. Looking at above comments it looks like it was sort of a DOOK.

ZAMBONI had me completely stumped for a bit looking a ZAMB___ and knowing that all the crosses were super solid. But it eventually came once I had the terminal I.

AVer for AVOW for half a second, expecting to see Err (looking at the grid not the clue), though thought GOO was probably right so got there eventually.

Truth be told, it seems that with minimal rework that bottom corner cleans up a bit. Put in DEER for YEOW and AVER for AVOW and you end up with GEE (at least as good as GOO) and ERR (better that EWW). Admittedly ASSAD is not as lovely as ASSAY, but I think it's better than having YEOW in your grid.

Anyway, all that said it was a totally fun easy Wednesday, and looking forward to a little more bite as the week moves on.

Leapfinger 9:43 AM  

@Charles Flaster, I'm not sure how you spend your idle hours, but maybe this year you can watch a little more pro hockey, eh?

Although we see quite a lot of fill allez OOP, I did like the novelty of a folding step-ladder and was IMPressed by how nicely the quote was SPLIT. Some days I dream of a MONOLITHic Mr GOODBAR; I've no idea why something so simple is so irresistible.

Nice pairing the complementary KODIAK and POOH, and we even got part of a KOAla. Bear with me, PLEAs.

YEOW -OW -OW! My laptop dooked it out with the Forces of Gravity, and apparently the brightness doohickey got knocked loose, so until that's restored, I'm reading and writing through a glass darkly. That ought to keep me LOKI mnd holding my TONG for awhile.

Happy Wensday, all.

chefbea 9:43 AM  

A little tough for a Wednesday. Lots of stuff I didn't know. Originally had pilaf (spelled wrong) instead of paella. Didn't reaize it was a word ladder until I finished.

GILL I. 10:08 AM  

I thought this was quite enjoyable. GPS/GOODBAR held me up for a tad but otherwise zipped through happily.
Never did the PSAT's and never did SAT PREP. We were given a week at ASM to do what every sane 17 year old does to prepare for this exam and that is to party. I did. Yes, reading, reading and reading will do wonders for the brain. Both my adult children could read at the age of 4. Our dumb school system wanted each of them to go straight to first grade!
Now that I read @Loren...I can appreciate this much more. Do love me the FOOL/SAGE.
Now to try Mary Lou's WSJ.
@John C. Belated Happy!

Bronxdoc 10:14 AM  

Liked the puzzle, loved zamboni, never know those cartoon references, and pretty sure that no one knows RIAA.

John V 10:15 AM  

Agree with @Rex that yesterday's WSJ offering was a happier solving experience.

Ludyjynn 10:19 AM  

I'm familiar with SKEET as a recreational activity done off the stern of a cruise ship while "at sea" between ports. It is a way for the cruise line to make extra revenue from bored passengers, as this is not included in the fare. Today, I learned it is an actual sport, even an Olympic competition. But more interestingly, I was intrigued by the Urban Dictionary definition of the word, which I guess qualifies as BOTH a recreational activity AND a sport! That's all I can say here; Google it, people...!

@Quilter1, BOGO = buy one, get one free.

I got fairly close to a black bear while touring Alaska, but no KODIAK or POOH bears were visible. I was intrigued by the fact that it seemed everyone outdoors was walking a fair sized dog. On a trip outside Juneau, I asked our driver about this, wondering why so many dog lovers per capita? His answer was that the jangling of the dog's tags and scent of the dog would discourage bears from approaching their humans, and if a stray bear wandered too close, the dog could offer a defense or at least a distraction for the person to escape. YEOW! Also, the garbage cans in public places in downtown Juneau had "bear proof" lids to prevent scavengers, but I found them to be "people proof" when I tried to use one!

Rex's valid criticisms notwithstanding, I kinda liked this one. Thanks, MLG, JC and WS.

Cassieopia 10:23 AM  

New(er) to NYT crosswords, I was delighted to find that FOOL went to SAGE and although I'm familiar with Publilius, I am not with the term "word ladder". So I loved this puzzle and its theme. It was an average Wednesday time for me, so "medium" difficulty. The SE corner also gave me fits, I had UGH crossing OUCH which led me to think the last word in the quote was YOU. Yeah, I was way off base until ASSAY saved the day. Very happy with this fun puzzle!

Nancy 10:32 AM  

I've always hated quote puzzles and this one was no exception. Except that the quote was, for me, the easiest thing to suss out. Other than that, I...
1) Naticked at TIA/RIAA (what does RIAA stand for, anyway?
2) Had TAs instead of TAZ at 28A.
3) Have no idea what ZAMBONI is. (Not helped by having s--cONI, instead of Z--BONI. But even if I'd had the right letters, I still wouldn't have gotten ZAMBONI, because, though I watch a lot of sports, I've never heard of it.
4) Couldn't think of what verb you employ to get a free cigarette. (My bad: of course I should have known that; it was a pure case of Senioritis. But the only verb that came to mind was "cadge", which didn't fit. I ended up with "cops" instead of BUMS, knowing that didn't seem at all right.)
5) Although I solved that section of the puzzle, I have no idea what a KOA is. None.
6. I don't know any supervillains, I am happy to say, 35D included. Well, maybe Moriarty.

So, as Wednesdays go, this one was tough for me.

Wednesday's Child 10:43 AM  

I never like quotes but this one crossed easily enough. Naticked in the heart of the puzzle as I ran the alphabet. GRU and MRE made no more sense to me than GnU and MnE or GoU and MoE.

Generally, I liked the puzzle. No favorite answer.

Casco Kid 10:49 AM  

@Peter I had the same alternate solution. In a 15 minute solve, which is a pretty fast Wednesday for me. Let's declare a Schroedinger!

jae 10:59 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  I had the most trouble in the MAUS/DUELS/TALE area.  I wasn't sure which direction the word ladder was taking and I didn't remember MAUS until I filled it in.

DOst before DOTH.

Add me to list of those who aren't particularly fond of quote and word ladder puzzles, but this one had some fun fill...GOODBAR, PAELLA, SEX SELLS, GRU ( delightful movie) ZAMBONI, MONOLITH (a fine word)...and was pretty clever.  Liked it.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

@Hartley70 -- I'm 70 years old and have driven cars with manual transmissions since I was 14 years old, growing up in the midwest and living in Texas most of my adult life and I've never heard or seen the phrase "in idle" before this puzzle. When sitting at a stoplight, you might shift into neutral and the engine will be "at idle" speed, but not "in idle".

Leapfinger 11:15 AM  

Yesterday, DOG-MA elicited a cat's Pa, and today that cat PAWS AT a MAUS. I read MAUS when it first came out (I think it was a Literary Guild offering); when I showed it to my brother-in-law, who lived through those events as a teenager, he thought it a reprehensible misrepresentation of history. Another person's opinion.

Love the mini-compendium of aphorisms; apparently elemental truths recycle well.

Won't argue that SEX SELLS, but you gotta admit that after a certain point in time, you can't hardly give it away. Or so I hear.

Joseph Michael 11:25 AM  

Liked the quote in relation to the word ladder in which FOOL literally PASSes into SAGE.

However, I thought word ladders are supposed to appear sequentially in the grid. This one zig zags in the middle and made it tough for me to follow the path during the solve, especially since TALL and TALE could work either way.

DNF thanks to the MRE/GRU cross which was brutal and pretty much hated EWW and OHOH. But otherwise liked the puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:30 AM  

Circles - quotation - word ladder - all beautifully meshed -- Loved it!

Roo Monster 11:42 AM  

Hey All !
(child-like singing) Word Ladder, Word Ladder, so much fun to do, Word Ladder, Word Ladder, without too much GOO. (OK, stop singing!)

Agree with the points Ms. @LMS said. Not an easy puz to construct. Had the quote parts laying atop one another, plus a word ladder, without too much dreck.

IN IDLE seems normal to me. What else would you say when you're at a red light? "My car is idling" , "I'm IN IDLE." You'd say "in park" if you're parked, right? "IN IDLE" when you're idling. Just sayin.

Brain took a slight break trying to spell TONGUE. Wanted tougne for some weird reason, thank goodness for ADIN, as ADIu just looked ridiculous. Only one writeover, had yuk for EWW. AVOW & YEOW got me off that.

Word Ladder, which of course I like, after all, I am the resident VerbumleiterMAUS! (In case you don't know what that is, don't ask, cause I'm not sure myself! :-D )


Lewis 11:46 AM  

@rex -- Very enjoyable writeup, funny and whimsical, with good points.
@quilter1 -- wishing you a quick heal!

As @loren has detailed, this is an impressive constructing feat, but that doesn't mean much to the solver if the puzzle solving experience is meh or worse. And this one delivered -- not a wow, but a strong and pleasing solve. It did feel more like a Tuesday, save for the MRE/GRU cross (I always forget MRE, and it's a have-to-know). I would have liked it more if there were more tricky cluing, more clues like the one for TOOL, and there should be more like that on Wednesday. I did like KODIAK, MONOLITH, PAELLA, FLIT, and ZAMBONI, which added spice to the solve. And I liked SPLIT/SWIT/FLIT with a nearby SKIT in TOW.

Thank you J&M!

Mike D 11:49 AM  

26d reminded me of an old joke:

Q: "What's the difference between a hockey goalie and your mom?"
A: "At least a goalie changes pads once every 3 periods!"

Gross, but awesome to this (once) teenage boy's ears.

Indypuzzler 11:49 AM  

I very much enjoyed the puzzle and was even more impressed when I discovered the FOOL to SAGE word ladder. Like @ Z I have great disdain for the new focus on SAT prep. I don't recall having cracked a prep book and it even seems like teachers said, "just get a good night's sleep, eat breakfast but MORE IMPORTANTLY don't forget to bring a No 2 pencil". Ah, the good ole days.
@Hartley70, count me among those that has never used the term IN IDLE. I certainly am IDLING when I have the car running and I'm in Park or Neutral, or have my foot on the brake at a stop light but while on the phone (Bluetooth!) I have never said "I'm in idle at the light on Elm Street.

Andrew Heinegg 11:56 AM  

I'm with RP on this one. The saying about fools has had many forms over the centuries and, while I did not know this particular version, as soon as I filled in 'let a fool', I knew where it was headed. There were far too many trivial answers, particularly in the se corner. The one clue that I liked was 2d, Physician turned revolutionary for Che. More and more, I am inclined to think that finding an interesting puzzle for 365 days a year is indeed a challenging task for Mr. Shortz.

Carola 11:59 AM  

After finishing the puzzle last night, I tried in vain to see how the word ladder told a story that would lead from FOOL to SAGE and reflect the content of the quote....Let's see, a FOOL is a TOOL telling a TALE...? Nope. Honestly, I don't think the puzzle worked out all that well. Yes, the ladder takes us from FOOL to SAGE but otherwise is unrelated to the quote; TALL TALE is backwards; and (hi, @The Ear Worm) the ladder has a superfluous rung.

Master Melvin 12:13 PM  

Since the blurb says his name was sometimes presented as Publius I thought he might be the fellow that provided the nom de plume for Hamilton, Madison, and Jay in the "Federalist Papers", but it appears they had a different Publius in mind.

old timer 12:21 PM  

So, that's a "folding stepladder" eh? Must explain why the ladder words seem out of order. I got the concept with TALL and TALE, and since I knew Mr. Lovett's name is LYLE, I knew where each went.

I really thought OFL would slam this one -- far more than he did. I know I went through a phase where I thought I would never figure out the quote, though I did eventually. GRU, TAZ, SWIT, TIA -- all strangers to my ken.

I still wonder what a BOGO is. And I can tell you, you can read a thousand court opinions and never see "ad rem". Never. "In rem" is legit, though, meaning a legal action is brought against a thing -- a ship,for instance, in an admiralty case.

Hands up if you only got PAWSAT because you've seen it before in NYT crosswords. Two hands up if you've never seen SAT PREP in a crossword before. (Me, my SAT PREP was having some coffee and breakfast in my dorm and ambling over to the room assigned for the test. No prep needed, because in 1961 there was no real pressure to get a super-high score, and equally no real likelihood of getting under 700, at my fairly demanding prep school.)

Numinous 12:29 PM  

I don't usually pay much attention to circled letters. They fill themselves in with crosses so why worry? If I'd tried to solve the word ladder by itself, I'd probably be bald. This time, after the puzzle was completed (in about half the time a Wednesday requires, on average for me), I looked at the circled letters and realized it was a word ladder, I kinda liked the move from FOOL to TOOL, a word my kids used for FOOL.

RIAA was a gimme. The Recofding Industry Association of America has been struggling against piracy for quite a while in this age of digital media. Originally, it established standards for things like gramaphone disc dimentions and format of stereo grooves. The also concerned themsleves with performace rights, an earlier form of anti-piracy.

I don't mean to single anyone out here (honest, I don't) but the misuse of the word analog drives me crazy. Basically, it means something that is similar to something else. A clock with moving hands on a dial is not time, it represents time. Similarly, the circular spedometer and tachometer in your car are analogues for what they are expressing, They are not the things they are expressing. The imitation crab meat you see in the seafood section of the supermarket is an analogue of crab meat. In fora for e-cigarettes, folks will refer to analog cigarettes vs. e-cigs when, in fact, the e-cigarettes are the analogue. A digital clock is an analogue too. It is not that the dial clock is the original and the digital clock is an imitation. They are both imitations of time passing, they are not time itself (whatever thing that actually is).

I've never heard of Publilius either but I appreciated seeing that quotation and have probably proven that I am by no means a SAGE. I'm now motivated to find a book of his sententiae. I'd never heard of TIA either but she filled in very easily.

Our local supermarkets do BOGOs all the time. Essentially, that means that if you onlly buy one BOGO $15.00 bottle of extra virigin olive oil it only costs $7.50. Those are deals I can't pass up. SAT PREP and TALUS gave me a bit of a problem but the crosses took care of them.

So, unlike @Rex, I found this to be easy, more like t Tuesday than a Wednesday.

Masked and Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Happy B-day, @John Child, and happy new hand day to @quilter1 darlin.

That SE corner is sure cry in out, for somethin … YEOW, EWW. The golf Masters has its Amen Corner, so cool to now have a Ewwyeow Corner, in crosswords.

Word ladder/quote combo reminds M&A of the old step-quote-themed puzs of yore. If U haven't experienced one of those, M&A would make one for U. But better yet, check out the 3 Jan 1982 NYTPuz. It sorta gibes with today's quote.

RIAA/TIA. har.

fave weeject: GRU. Knew this one. Ain't he the dude that the scientist guy does in with a fart gun? Anyhoo, Shortzmeister Era debut weeject! Made M&A's day. Now if Marty McFly can only go back to the future "one more time" and save the Cubs …

Speakin of savin stuff, here's the Patrick Berry Immunity Roundup bullets:
* ADREM. Better clue: {State of dreaming about Mila Kunis pummeling Seagrams whiskey casks}.
* TIA. har
* SALE/SANE/TALE/TALL/TOLL/TOOL. Has PB1 done this ladder before?
* EST. It almost adds zEST to yer grid.
* … plus 24 more.

HUEYS! Brother of DEWEYS and LOUISE.

Fun solve. Knew it would be a hit with @009, as soon as I saw them circles.
Thanx, Mary Lou and Chenny Lou.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

**gruntz with circles**

Teedmn 1:48 PM  

Thank goodness for circles today. TIA/RIAA and having SATtest spilled ink all over my SE. Following the word ladder gave me SAGE and helped me finish.

TOUT? Are they referring to the video networking service that I just looked up on Google? 'Cause my idea of the definition of TOUT doesn't fit the clue. I haven't read the comments yet so I suppose I'm the 30th person to mention it, sorry.

I thought this was a great puzzle for the reasons @LMS mentions (yeah, I read her comment but not all of them SO SUE ME). I don't like "maxim" puzzles much but the word ladder addition spiced it up and the fact that this wasn't my Sunday solve being wasted on a quip made it quite palatable and quite a feat. With some drek, yes. But with PAELLA! I'll never forget the first time I ordered that dish, visiting California for the first time and having no working knowledge of Spanish pronunciation - I blush for my 30 year old idiotic self. The waitress was kind enough to not mock me. The PERILS of ignorance. Next time I will just point to the menu and perhaps I WILL PASS FOR A SAGE.

Thanks MLG and JC.

Purple Pride 2:14 PM  

@Hartley70: Like others, I am very familiar with IDLING (which is what I first wrote in that space) but I have never heard of "in idle".

I don't mind quote puzzles and I thought the word ladder was fine too. Both of those are well-worn themes but they're fine with me.

There was a lot of junk in the puzzle to create it though: ACDC, OHOH, GPS, OOP, AOL, ADIN, EST, ITD, MRE, GRU, ADREM, KOA, TIA, GOO, EWW, YEOW, IKE, RIAA, and TAZ are all questionable in my book. Of course you expect a few of those on every puzzle but there were a lot of them here.

I actually had ERA instead of EST (I still don't know what EST is after looking at the answer); TALUR looked reasonable for a bone and SKEEA was ugly but somehow reminded me of skee-ball so I kept it.

Masked and Anonymous 2:29 PM  

M&A Help Desk Oughta-Correct:

@M&A: Wrong again, masked dude. ** What follows is a possible Spoiler Alert, for people who have not yet beheld the magnificence of "Despicable Me Too" **

GRU was the main hero-ish character, that the scientist Dr. Nefario mostly works with, in the interest of peace, harmony, and world conquest. Dr. Nefario levels the villain and Mexican restaurant owner El Macho with a fart gun, after skysurfing a shark into a volcano failed to finish El Macho off.

******** End of Spoiler Alert. Resume breathing normally. *********

Auto-correct correction, in my first message, second paragraph:
...SE corner is sure cryin out…
(not cry in out.)

TuesPuz and WedPuz both had the circles. MonPuz should have em, too. Then we could have a potential special All-Circles Week goin, here. Well hey -- just go ahead and pretend that the following letters in the MonPuz are encircled:
Last letter in 17-A, plus all the letters in 24-D, except for the "A" one. Ette Voila!

Despicable M&E

Anonymous 2:57 PM  

IMO, word ladders should only be permitted if they're the shortest ones possible, at last the shortest ones without obscenely obscure words. In that respect, this one fails, as there is one (readily found on the internet which has everything, including word ladder generators)with one fewer entry. FOOL/POOL/POLE/PALE/SALE/SAGE.

Roo Monster 3:17 PM  

I'm surprised not a lot of people here haven't heard of TIA Carrera. "She's a babe! Schwing!" from Wayne's World! She was, natch, the babe. And True Lies? Movie with Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis? She was the villainous babe in that. How avout daughter of Barbara Carrera? Also actress, who was a babe back in the day.

BOGO (pronounced bow go)= Buy One, Get One ____

TAZ= Looney Tunes tasmanian devil! C'mon people, never watched Saturday morning cartoons? :-)


Hartley70 4:19 PM  

Not to beat a dead horse, but a phrase that comes to my mind is. "I've got it in idle." It was used interchangeably with "in neutral" back when I learned to drive the little red Renault Dauphin I shared with my mother. It had a country horn and a city horn. Loved that car! Somehow to me being in idle has the sense of holding the clutch in, more than moving the gear shift to neutral, when you are paused somewhere for a bit. Of course I probably speak better Urdu than Car Talk or Football, so consider the source.

Happy belated birthday, John Child. You're just a kid! Quilter, I hope you heal quickly.

Bob Kerfuffle 4:38 PM  

Busy day, but now that I have had a chance to read all comments:

(1) Re 9 D, it struck me that not all of the Easter Island statues were MONOLITHS. Those red hats make them di-liths at best! But most apparently were mono, so, puzzle's right.

(2) Adding to what @Numinous mentioned, Wikipedia says, "From 2005 through 2008, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) saw lawsuits against individual consumers as a way to combat the problem of Internet-based copyright infringement. RIAA President Cary Sherman claimed that the large number of lawsuits filed has 'arrested the growth of a runaway solution that would have grown worse and worse.' As of July 2006, the RIAA had brought lawsuits against more than 20,000 people in the United States suspected of distributing copyrighted works."

Lawsuits for thousands of dollars against college students, etc., got a lot of attention! And made RIAA a well-known name.

(3) @Mohair Sam asks, "And how many ways are there to spell the name ONEAL?" According to,"Variations found of the name O'Neal include O'Neill, Neal, Neale, Neales, Neil, Nihill, Niell, O'Nail, O'Neil, O'Niel and many more."
I was recently given the job of updating a mailing list for a local organization, and I was warned that a name similar to these might have been entered incorrectly. Upon investigation, I found that the correct spelling for this particular family was "Oneil," just one capital letter, no apostrophe!

Honeysmom 5:33 PM  

Easy Wednesday for me, except for Gru and Mre. And once I got first part of quote, the rest was pretty obvious. Surprised Rex graded this challenging!

Roo Monster 5:42 PM  

Oh, and forgot to mention, today is the day in Back to the Future II that they went to when they traveled to the future! Huzzah!
There was a cool article on that showed how much they got right.

Still no flying cars, though...


Anonymous 5:43 PM  

"Between periods equipment" Somehow I filled it with TAMPONS.
Could be handier than ZAMBONI

Indypuzzler 6:02 PM  

Fair enough @Hartley 70. I was just kind of giving you the business for suggesting it was common amongst us. My father used to work on his car when I was a kid and he used to say "the engine idle is set too high". But when it comes right down to it, that clue/answer didn't really give me much pause. But I'll defend to my death those that thought it odd!

Trombone Tom 6:51 PM  

Liked this better than some of you. I am amazed at the amount of "hate" that appears concerning a crossword puzzle. I would get bored if word ladders or pangrams or anything else showed up every day, but am not bothered by the occasional one. Likewise I can't bring myself to "hate" certain quite arbitrary fill words. I'm not overly impressed with things like EWW, but SEXSELLS more than makes up for it.

Any audiophile of the 50's would know of RIAA who published the specs for recordings. The "RIAA curve" covers frequency equalization. More recently they sued many CD pirates. Thank you, Mary Lou and Jeff for an interesting and enjoyable puzzle.

Mohair Sam 6:54 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - Thank. Wow, no wonder the name drives us batty.

Hi @Numinous - I do feel just a bit singled out. You should know that the misuse of the word analog is a running joke around this household that bled into my comments today. Dry wit (or attempts at that) translates poorly on paper. Anyhow, around here anything not absolutely technologically up-to-date is referred to as analog (like my non-smart cell phone, and the neighbor's old reel lawn mower).

Teedmn 6:59 PM  

A few people mentioned that they had mixed up where TALL and TALE went in the puzzle. I may be wrong here but I have noticed there is a protocol of how split answers are clued. Seems to me that the first part (in this case TALL) has the clue and the second part (TALE) just has the "See 'X' Across(Down)". Of course, I never remember this when I'm stuck on one but it could be a TOOL to avoid confusion.

@Nancy, the ZAMBONI is the machine that smooths the ice between hockey periods. Back when I was in college, my boyfriend had Gopher hockey season tickets so I went to a bunch of games. I was always nauseated by the exhaust fumes from the ZAMBONI and dreaded when a game went into overtime because it meant three exposures to the exhaust rather than the usual two. Gives me a headache just thinking about it.

old timer 7:46 PM  

Should be BOGOF, then (Buy One Get One Free).

My problem with those deals is,I don't always want two. Fortunately,most food items are just priced at half-off even if you buy only one.

Nancy 10:02 PM  

@Teedmn -- Thank you for the ZAMBONI info. The curiosity was killing me. My ignorance can be explained by the fact that hockey is one of the very few sports I've almost never watched. The usual reasons: Not enough scoring and you can't see the puck. Well maybe OTHER people can see the puck. I can't. Especially on goals, which is when I most WANT to see the puck!

@Ludy -- Thanks for explaining BOGO. I never heard of that either, but didn't mention it, as I thought I had displayed more than enough ignorance for one day. I also found your bear story very interesting. It's amazing how many women on this blog have had real-life encounters with bears. Happily, I haven't (though from a safe distance, they do seem kinda cute.)

Brian W. Ogilvie 10:18 PM  

Seemed pretty easy to me, which was good because I slept in until 8:15 am this morning and I have a 10:10 class with a 20-minute bike commute. But as an early modern historian who works on the classical tradition, Publilius Syrus is practically a household name. My only complaint was 27A, ACERB. ACrid seemed much better.

AliasZ 1:08 AM  

For anyone who cares:

The mechanical modulations of a long-playing record's groove are analogous to the sound waves that vibrate your eardrums. The groove's modulations are visible through a microscope. You can actually see sound waves in vinyl.

Thomas Alva Edison was one of the first to recognize that cutting a spiral groove into a wax cylinder with a cutting needle that is driven (excited) by a human voice, collected and amplified by a funnel-shaped "microphone", modulates the width, depth and the length of wiggles within the groove in an analogous manner to the frequency and amplitude of the original sound waves. During playback the needle follows and is likewise excited by these mechanical variations in the groove, creating a very faint sound which, when amplified, produces a voice recognizably that of the person who made the recording.

Fast forward to the electronic era and "Micro Groove" technology. The RIAA, who actually established the world-wide standard for record dimensions, speeds, groove size, 45° angle, etc., designed an equalization curve in order to approach the highest fidelity to the bandwidth of human hearing (nominally 20Hz to 20KHz). There is no possible way mechanically to cut grooves analogous to a 20-30Hz sound (extremely long, wide and overpowering) and a 16-20KHz sound (extremely short, tight and very faint) and the full range between them, with one cutting needle.

An equalization curve was needed therefore to severely lower the low frequencies and boost the high frequencies when cutting the disk, in order to accommodate the mechanical limitations of vinyl and cutting needle. Its precise mirror image is necessary during playback to "decode" and recreate the frequency balance and range of the original sound. This pre-emphasis and de-emphasis (roughly a -20dB cut at 20Hz and +20dB boost at 20KHz during cutting, and the exact opposite during playback) is called the "RIAA Equalization Curve" and has been the world-wide standard since 1954. Many older LPs (1970's and before) still have the original RIAA logo on their jackets.

More than you ever wanted to know.

Steve Haner 10:52 AM  

Buy one; get one (free).

Steve Haner 10:53 AM  

Buy one; get one (free).

Burma Shave 8:58 AM  


LETAFOOL ADIN some dung (to his puzzle) – SEXSELLS!
But OFL won’t HOLDHISTONGUE, FORASAGE like Rex tells.


rondo 9:29 AM  

As @LMS pointed out, there’s a lot going n in this puz. I’m not usually a fan of the word ladder or quip, but this is quite the construction combo platter. I might POOH POOH INIDLE, but most of the rest is OK.

I’ve seen LYLE Lovett live a couple times with his big band. Excellent.

SOSUEME, SEXSELLS, just ask yeah baby TIA Carrere. And perhaps Ms. SWIT as Hot Lips. And 33d could have been ELLE Mac. Just look for the NIP, YEOW.

Do you suppose MRE is fifteenth in line before Mr. T?

Ruffles have RIDGES, I guess the others only ripples?

SEX isn’t the only thing that SELLS. This puz/blog sent me off to buy a Skor bar today after recent mentions. As a longtime Heath fan it should be an interesting comparison. I’ll let you know.

I’ll AVOW (or AVer) that I got some enjoyment from this Wed-puz. Enjoy T-day.

Jaime Gunderson 9:43 AM  

Exactly. You'd be idling in neutral.

Jaime Gunderson 9:47 AM  

Idle isn't a gear, it's a state of being. So, one would say "idling in neutral" but really you're just in neutral. This is all really only in regards to driving a manual transmission. Just sayin' :)

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL THE SYNDIES on this blog who will be feasting & celebrating tomorrow. Just scanned the puzzle so far and it looks interesting and fun.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA (Where the word "turkey" is used quite often in his presence).

dragon@hart 10:54 AM  

When your motor is not running, i.e., stopped at a red light, it is in idle.

spacecraft 11:38 AM  

When I saw OHOH, that's what I thought. But thankfu8lly it didn't get much worse...OOP! Well, we do have a pretty dense theme, what with having to locate the word ladder symmetrically and all, so allowances have to be made. Besides, if we're granting all kinds of PB immunity, doesn't JC deserve some too?

Luckily, WOEs MAUS and RIAA went in on crosses, and the solve was easy-medium. I don't get OFL's dislike for word ladders. Do you have to either love or hate something? Is there no "meh?" I mean, it is what it is.

I thought at first we were going to be dealing with the parting of a fool and his money. I'm ALMOST always snagged by AVER/AVOW, SCAB/SCAR, and the trifecta AVOID/EVADE/ELUDE.

Love the ZAMBONI smoothing a path right down the center of the "rink." SOSUEME, I liked that one too. B-.

Longbeachlee 1:48 PM  

brainless smarts ?

Longbeachlee 2:02 PM  

@aliasz, Not boring at all. I loved it. I worked with acoustics and vibration, so equalization is in my wheelhouse. The idea of equalizing mechanically on vinyl blows me away.

leftcoastTAM 6:32 PM  

Day before Thanksgiving in syndiland. Busy, so checking in late. Happy T-day to all.

Publilius Syrus is right only when the FOOL is smart enough to shut up. Nice word ladder. It also works in reverse.


Anonymous 2:30 AM  

Long time spo-rad-ic viewer Robert here. I liked the puzzle but loved the learnings today. Pubililius. Did I get it right? Try saying that correctly - 3 times in a row. Thanksgivings indeed

- - - Robert

Roxy 5:10 PM  

Wake up Brian Ogilvie! We are on Wed. puz, you're still on Tues.

Liked this puzzle, too. Don't know what zamboni is tho. isn't Tia Spanish for uncle?

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