Director Besson / THU 10-29-15 / Addie's husband in As I Lay Dying / 1881 novel for children those who love children / Las Vegas casino opened in 2009 / Partner to Kenan in 1990s Nickelodeon sitcom

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Constructor: Sam Trabucco

Relative difficulty: No idea (solved while watching World Series / GOP debate)

THEME: LION'S SHARE (66A: Almost all ... and a hint to the five circled letters)— theme answers are two-word answers where first word ends and second word begins with same letter. Those repeating letters appear in one square together, i.e. they share a square. The shared squares spell out, sequentially, LIONS. Thus (I think) LIONS share squares (?). [Apparently, EVEN THOUGH THE SOFTWARE ACCEPTED THE ABOVE GRID AS CORRECT, you are not supposed to put a double-letter in the circled squares ... rather, the single letter (that is supposed to go there) is "shared" by first and second words.] [frowny face]

Theme answers:
  • SOCIAL LIFE (17A: Partygoing and such)
  • SKI INSTRUCTOR (24A: One whose work is going downhill?) (at this point, I thought the two "I"s in the single square represented skis and I was excited to have the circles represent someone skiing down a mountain ...)
  • DO OVER (41A: Second chance)
  • CHICKEN NOODLE (53A: Campbell's variety)
Word of the Day: Friedrich EBERT (Friedrich ___, first president of the German Republic) —
Friedrich Ebert (4 February 1871 – 28 February 1925) was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the first President of Germany from 1919 until his death in office in 1925. // Ebert was elected leader of the SPD on the death of August Bebel, and the SPD later became deeply divided because Ebert led it to support war loans for World War I. A moderate social democrat, Ebert was in favour of the Burgfrieden, in which domestic political squabbles were put aside and all forces in society were expected to support the war effort. He tried to isolate those in the party opposed to the war but could not prevent a split. // Ebert was a pivotal figure in the German Revolution of 1918-19. When Germany became a republic, he was its first chancellor. His policies at this time were primarily aimed at restoring peace and order and at containing the more extreme elements of the revolutionary left. For this he allied himself with conservative and nationalistic political forces, in particular with the leadership of the military under General Wilhelm Groener and the right wing Freikorps. With their help, Ebert's government crushed a number of leftist uprisings that were pursuing goals that were similar to those of the SPD. This has made him a controversial historical figure.
• • •

This puzzle took me forever, but that's because I kept getting distracted by things on my TV screen, and by the people I was chatting with online *about* the things happening on my TV screen. There is a reason that, as a rule, I solve in a state of Total non-distraction (no music, no TV ... no sounds of family shuffling around the house, even—can't deal. "Everyone sit still for five to ten minutes, dammit!"). But tonight there was just too much going on, so I solved the puzzle in fits and starts, toggling back whenever there was a lull in the action. I don't think I fully get or appreciate the theme. I see that the two (?) LIONS in the circled squares. I wonder why the letters are just single letters in the Downs. Seems like you could've made a grid to make the double-letter thing happen in both directions. But maybe there's some Meaning I can't see (beyond two letters simply "sharing" one square, and those squares spelling out LIONS).

Long Downs are good. Overall fill just OK. ANSE, however, is revolting (72A: Addie's husband in "As I Lay Dying"). Just ... godawful. I can't say enough bad things about ANSE. One notch above ASE'S (yes, that is a thing you sometimes see in crosswords a surprising amount). I think I was reasonably satisfied with the fill until that moment (ANSE crossing NEE), at which point I think I shouted "Nooooo..." dramatically, like in the movies. I found the whole N/NW section very hard. [Call at night] for HOOT, ["You got me"] for OUCH, [Come down hard] for POUR, the adjacent cross-referenced answers at 5D and 6D ... all this made things rough up there for me. [Partygoing and such] sounds way more ... specific than just SOCIAL LIFE, so I had -IAL LIFE and still had no idea. Seemed like JOVIAL LIFE from the clue, but JOVIAL LIFE is not a thing. Then there's the EBERT clue, ugh. WTF? Better (much better, a thousand times better) a funny / clever / tough Roger EBERT clue than this century-old snoozefest of a trivia question. PUZZLES SHOULD BE FUN. Make it so.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS this is Sam Trabucco's NYT debut, but he had a BuzzFeed puzzle a couple weeks back. Get it here.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:06 AM  

Too easy for a Thurs. and sort of ho-hum. A couple of nice long downs though.

KEL was a WOE.


Music man 12:19 AM  

I'm a little shocked. This was by FAR the easiest Thursday I've ever done. I had it solved in about an 8th my usual, maybe faster. And that double letter thing might make sense, at least on some level, with the fact that the app only let's you put in one letter, so you reimagine the double letter. I print and solve thirsday through Sunday, so, clearly I had double letters written in the circles, but when I put it in the app to check my work, it told me I was wrong, so I took out the extra letters and bingo. I still think it's a little inelegant, but perhaps thinking I it as one letter used 3 times (twice across and once down) it sort of works. I enjoyed it as a whole though. Nice debut.

Anonymous 12:21 AM  

I think the theme makes more sense with only one letter in each of the circled square--that way, the two words in the theme answers are "sharing" the letter there (rather than the repeated letters "sharing" a square).

Wednesday's Child 12:22 AM  

Didn't take long to figure out the double letter thing, but I'm still not sure what the end result is. LLIIOONNSS or LIONS LIONS. Still, I enjoyed solving it. Double LIONS? Two LIONS? Dual LIONS? What am I missing?

eveostay 12:27 AM  

Ditto on the N/NW. The cross-referenced ESL/ALIEN with very little clue as to what their relationship was tough. (Next time I see subj., I hope I'll think ESL.)

Otherwise, pretty fun. Easy to suss out because of the circles. Below average Thursday time for me. Did not notices that the circles spelled "lions" until I got here. Shrug.

chefwen 12:50 AM  

This was so easy I kept checking to make sure I was working on a Thursday and not a Tuesday puzzle. The only write-over I had was at 24A before I figured out to double up on the I when I ran out of spaces. OOPS!

O.K. But way too easy for our usual "tricky Thursday". I'm sure I won't be complaining about easiness for the next couple of days.

Anonymous 12:55 AM  

Got stuck on HUMOR me -- had HiM OR me and didn't know the cross. Other than that, lightning fast.

George Barany 1:55 AM  

Congratulations to @Sam Trabucco for his New York Times debut, and to both @Sam and @Michael Sharp for their respective BuzzFeed puzzles.

For the most part, I found today's offering to be delightful, with tough but fair clues, and a theme that emerged just gradually [getting toeholds in the southern and eastern regions, and figuring out the northern and western regions last]. I have to agree with @Rex on both ANSE and EBERT, but neither was a deal breaker [spoiler, I still remembered ONION_DIP from the Wednesday BuzzFeed, which helped with 56-Down]. The PORNO clue was cute, and common or semi-common words like IRA, ONE, YALE, IHOP, EVEN, and undoubtedly others had unusual clues that ramped up the difficulty. Interestingly, the "analyze this puzzle" functionality over at teaches us that only SKI_INSTRUCTOR and CHICKEN_NOODLE are @Shortz era debut words.

On the subject of NEPAL, I want to give a big shoutout to my cyberfriend @John Child, who was part of an All Star team that collaborated on Citi-zens United. Another contributor was @Charles Flaster, also a regular commentator on this blog. As to the subject of that Sunday-sized puzzle, they're currently in an 0-2 hole, but maybe they'll have better luck this weekend.

AliasZ 1:57 AM  

Why did the NYT puzzle applet not accept double letters in the circled squares as correct? I spent more time looking for non-existent errors than I spent solving the puzzle. Maybe because the downs crossings had only a single L, I, O, N and S? Sloppy!

Another inconsistency: the circled squares read in a down direction, but the double letters did not share the same square in the down answers themselves. They should have. ESLL and NNILLA were tough to clue, but I ICED [___ the sheriff], POOP [multiple clue possibilities] and RO-LESS [Man vis-à-vis Roman] could've worked.

Or else, forget the rebus trick entirely and go au naturel: SOC I ALI? FE! [Do I pop Cassius one? I don't like it at all!], SKIN-STRUCTOR [Teacher of aspiring 12D-producers], DOVER [The white cliffs of ____] and CHICKEN OODLE [Online marketplace for member-to-member sales of used barnyard animals].

I got so irritated, I couldn't care less about this puzzle. The theme limped, and the IGA, IRA, KEL, CLEF, CLEFT, ANSE, etc. type of fill didn't overly excite me either. The best clue today -- which is not saying much: "Sign at the front of some bars" to which the obvious answer is FREE BEER TOMORROW, but as much as tried, I couldn't fit it into four squares.

And so to bed. But first, another shot of cognac.

Dolgo 2:48 AM  

Gee, Rex. You often have trouble with things I find easy. Anse was one today. Each of us has things we know about. You seem to come up short with classical music stuff (Ase's?), I don't know many rappers (or Las Vegas casinos, for that matter). Does that make them bad clues? I say, the wider the subject matter, the more fun.

ZenMonkey 2:51 AM  

I'm studying the Irish language; I have two BURMESE cats; and I asked my husband to buy CHICKEN NOODLE soup today. So I was amused

Paige Reader 2:52 AM  

OK, I solved your Buzzfeed puzzle but I took some umbrage. Lasagna plural? LASAGNE.
That's actually the correct spelling of the dish, because it's made of large, flat noodles (plural). When in Rome, spell it lasagne.

Otherwise, I have to hand it to you. Fun to do.

Smorgan 3:00 AM  

I think the circled letters aren't actually supposed to be doubled. Thus, the letter is "shared" between the two words, solving the confusing down/ across issue that you mentioned.

Smorgan 3:02 AM  

I think the circled letters are in fact meant to be single and not doubled. Thus, the letter is "shared" by the two words to complete the phrase. This would help with the messy down/ across issue that you mentioned.

Elaine2 3:13 AM  

In Across Lite, I got Mr Happy Pencil without double letters in the circles. This made more sense for the crosses, which didn't use the double letters, as Rex mentioned. So, I think the idea was that in these words the single letter in the circle was SHARED between two words. So the "LIONS" were shared.


John Child 3:34 AM  

Congratulations Mr Trabucco for a fun and interesting debut! IDIOT PROOF and SEE IF I CARE are great and carefully placed to cross only one theme entry. Super reveal - the LIONS SHARE two words in the theme answers. Sweet.

Like Rex I saw two lions, but the iPad app didn't like the rebuses in the circles. While I had double letters in those circles I was a little put off by other double letters -- EE in EERIE and SEE IF I CARE, and LL in Nilla, but when the rebuses were rejected I let that go.

@Rex, I enjoyed your themeless more than any Buzzed puzzle yet. Tough long names, both unfamiliar to me, and the terms at 13-D, 25-D, and 40-D were WOES too. But it came in in normal Friday time. I was thinking of an occult thing for 1-D - I didn't know that factoid.

How can a book weigh 75 pounds? Joseph Smith's golden plates only weighed "40 or 50 pounds"!

Charles Flaster 4:06 AM  

Enjoyed this EZ Thursday-- much easier than yesterday.
Agree with Rex on many points especially when I thought the double letters were multi-directional. Probably very difficult to create.
Liked Cluing for CLEF and DO OVER( have not used it since my Brooklyn stickball days in the fifties.
Very little CrosswordEASE .
Congratulations on his debut to ST.

Anonymous 4:17 AM  

Dunno if anyone else had this problem, but if you solve on the NYT website it won't register as solved if you input the doubles in rebus mode. That needs to be fixed...I was going out of my mind searching for the mistake.

Anonymous 7:00 AM  

No rebus. The pairs of words in the theme answers are SHARE-ing letters. Specifically L, I, O, N, and S. It's a L-I-O-N-S SHARE!

Glimmerglass 7:47 AM  

@Dolgo: exactly! This is a common problem with Rex's opinionated pontificating (is that an oxymoron?). As I Lay Dying is a familiar, perhaps even a famous, novel. It's Faulkner, for pity's sake! I needed a couple of crosses to remember ANSE, but I thought it was a totally fair clue.

Lewis 8:22 AM  

@anon 12:55 -- I also had Him OR (me), which was tough, because I didn't know LUC.

This was spirited, smooth, and quite clean. Excellent clues on CLEF and EMAIL, and some long answers with spark: IDIOTPROOF, INKBLOT, SEEIFICARE. I like finding words of five letters or more that make other words when read backward, and we have two here, STRAP and NILLA (which makes a two-word phrase).

And there is fun to find, an EASE up, a high SPIRE, the feuding neighbors OIL and NONFAT, with that FAT so close to CATS. There's an east WEST, and those who work with concrete will appreciate the togetherness of POUR and SLAB.

In the end, what determines how good a puzzle is to me is how it felt to solve. And this solve was fun and lively. Terrific debut, Sam!

jberg 8:31 AM  

I got the double letter thing fairly early, with SKINSTRUCTOR -- once I had the U it was inevitable -- but had a lot of trouble with the names of casinos. I didn't know most of the proper names (except, actually, EBERT, (in)famous within the socialist movement), but most of them were the kind that you don't need to know -- or rather can read as "Irish political group that other groups split off from" or "4-letter restaurant chain starting with I." ANSE I managed to dig up from somewhere.

@Paige reader, it would be a good idea to refrain from posting spoilers for puzzles located elsewhere, that others may plan to solve in the future.

Karen Bruce 8:39 AM  

As a permanent resident who is originally from Africa, the ALIEN/ESL combination annoyed me, simply because I've spent years dealing with the assumption behind it. I've been asked to take English tests at work. I've had Americans ask me what my first language is. I've had Americans speak very slowly to me. My first language is English; I have a Ph.D in medieval English literature; I teach English literature to Americans at a R1 university; I have never even taken an ESL class except as part of my training in how to teach ESL.

Ugh, sorry. Apparently, that horrible, little combination struck a nerve.

GILL I. 8:46 AM  

@Sam loves circles...! Your BuzzFeed is FUN! This one is Tuesday ho hum NYT.
Hey...OIL change is in here - wow! And RAND not clued with Ayn which is just fine with me because I don't like her anyway. And look, there is a Rat FINK and a CLEF and a CLEFT. Then we have the good ole SAFES in our hotel rooms. Wait, we then have ANSE Not clued as a handle. But wait, there's more....the never heard of Vegas casino named ARIA and it's NOT CLUED as what the NON FAT lady sings! This is good stuff!
Folk....Go to BuzzFeed - lots more better! Speaking of... @Rex, I so wanted HART for 21A. Good puzzle that awakened the remaining brain cells I have.
@Nancy from yesterday. Your writing style is like your DNA...No mistaking you!
Sam I really hope Will will let up and let your talent shine the way it does at that "Other" place! Congratulations though, on this debut. It must feel wonderful.

Roo Monster 8:46 AM  

Hey All !
This was an easy ThursPuz! Only one writeover, one letter, actually. cAFES->SAFES. I like the explanations of the themers "sharing" the double letters, ergo, the Downs work. I still wrote in double letters, though. Some fun clues, CATS, ONE, HOOT, and CLEF was great!


A SNEER to a BLIND CHICKEN is better than a HOOT to a FINK. So sayeth DR SEUSS. Or something.......


Z 8:46 AM  

Seemed more Tuesdayish in difficulty here. Also seems a little staid compared to Trabucco's recent buzzfeed puz, but that is as much a matter of editorial sartorial choice as anything the constructor controls. She ain't called the Grey Lady for nothing.

I happened across a sign yesterday with the DR. SEUSS quote, taking the NE corner from easy to gimme. Speaking of the NE, I'm trying to decide if a PORNO SNEER is IDIOT PROOF. Maybe it is just an IDIOT PROOF. Or perhaps the director tells the MYSTIC SKINSTRUCTOR in NEPAL to put on a PORNO SNEER to make his character less cliché. Of course, he just looks EERIE.

@Dolgo - I don't think Rex said ANSE was hard, I think he said it was bad fill. It's the kind of trivial trivia that solvers pick up not because of its intrinsic worth but because of its useful letters. cf Ono, Eno, Ern, Oise, etc. etc. etc.

@Paige Reader - some may not have solved that puzzle yet. If you look at yesterday's comments you will find several examples of how to not spoil a puzzle for others.

Wednesday's Child 8:47 AM  

OK, I get it now, the letters are sharing a space. In fact, I was lying in bed thinking about the puzzle when the realization hit me. Of course! I'm an IDIOT. This puzzle is not IDIOT PROOF.

Then there is WEST in the southeast and CLEF and CLEFT and the pairing of ONION and ODORS.

When a puzzle originates in the United States and you are not from the US then you have to be aware of Americanisms, e.g. HUMOR rather than humour. Even now my computer has a squiggly red line under the word humour.

Actually, I was born in the states so I speak both American English and Canadian English. I should get a job at the border.

This puzzle was a HOOT.

chefbea 9:00 AM  

Fun easy puzzle. The LIONS letters share the same square. Easy for me to figure out. Almost time to make chicken noodle soup!!!

Nancy 9:09 AM  

I join the "much too easy for a Thursday" chorus. And LION'S SHARE, as in lions sharing their 5 letters, is a sort of peculiar gimmick, if you ask me. Plus they only are sharing their letters on the Acrosses. To make the theme work, they would have to share their letters on the Downs as well. It wold be a MUCH more impressive feat of construction and there are many brilliant constructors out there who would have been able to pull it off, I'm sure.

And, with fill this bland, at least your definitions should be precise and on the money. I am SORE about SORE at 43A. I am "bothered" by many, many, many things that I am not remotely angry about. Bet you are too.

Sam Trabucco 9:13 AM  

Hello! As others have noted, it's not meant to be a rebus -- the five two-word phrases SHARE, in order, L-I-O-N-S, which is why the letters are not doubled in the downs. Will and co. actually changed the way this was handled in a way I wasn't huge on -- my original clue for LION(S)HARE made this a bit more clear, and I also didn't have the circles in the original grid, so it played a bit tougher. Oh well, I think it turned out alright. Also, let's just say the first I've ever heard of this EBERT guy was when I saw the edited clues ;).

And yeah, with you on ANSE. This was the second puzzle I ever wrote, and my standards for fill were much lower back then (all those many months ago). When Will accepted, I actually asked whether I could redesign the grid to try to eliminate some of the trash, but unfortunately I put this on the back burner for too long. When I did finally submit a better grid too him it was too late. Here it is, for reference: It's nothing dazzling, but it fixes a lot of the original's problems (including that D(O)VER has surface sense while the other do not). I could probably have even gotten the word count down without making any fill sacrifices had I tried, the theme is pretty sparse.

A few weeks ago, that new grid took me less than an hour to make. I wish that, rather than just accept right away, Will had recommended I make some edits first (or even made them himself) -- could have made for a much cleaner and more fun puzzle that way. But ah well, you'll just have to look forward to cleaner from me in the future.

And thanks, all, for the feedback! Despite the issues, I hope you enjoyed it.

Arna D 9:15 AM  

It was an easy Thursday puzzle, but the online version marked it WRONG if you put in double letters. There goes my streak. Oh well.

Steve Reed 9:17 AM  

A rebus of double letters would make the downs not work. As Rex pointed out a little, that could have made for another interesting approach - it just wasn't the approach today. The letter is shared between words - not the space shared between letters.

I luckily caught this early, so ended up with one of my best times ever for a Thursday - which is usually an indication of easiness (as opposed to personal brilliance).

Prof. Gary Weissman 9:27 AM  

Drips are "causes" of insomnia? No.

Nancy 9:43 AM  

@GILL -- Thanks for your reassurance just now (although you may not see this for hours.) I really appreciate it! Especially from someone who has a pretty nifty writing style herself!

Ludyjynn 9:44 AM  

Some very nice clues, esp. for INKBLOT and PORNO. The LIONSSHARE of this solve was surprisingly easy 'for a Thursday'.

Two nits: did not like CLEF/T in the same grid and was unsettled visually by the spelling of FORGO sans 'E'. It just looks weird.

Here is my hotel SAFE story. The inside of the room safe, located in the closet, was lined in black fabric. My travel jewelry box containing a pair of $$$ earrings, bracelet and necklace, was black. As we were packing to leave, we opened the safe and retrieved our stuff, including passports and watches. Then, off to the airport for the flight home. Three days later, as I was driving to work, I suddenly realized I hadn't come across the aforesaid jewelry while unpacking. OMG, OMG, I panicked. In desperation, I made a toll-free call to the Hamilton, Bermuda Princess Hotel. The security guy headed over to the room, which was occupied by a new hotel guest. The safe was still open, just as we had left it. OMG, OMG, I was sure he was going to tell me it was empty and I'd never see my jewelry again. Lo and behold, it was still sitting there, the black on black serving as an optical illusion. He secured the jewelry, torturing me by making me describe each item in detail before he was convinced it was mine. The hotel then express mailed it to me at no charge. Happy ending! Only in Bermuda.

Thanks, ST and WS.

Rex Parker 9:54 AM  


Thanks for the explanation! As someone who is very used to putting two letters in squares, this concept was lost on me. I do rebuses on Th all the time, so two squares, bam bam. No problem. Also (important) the *software accepted my double-letter solution*. So ... yeah. Even the fact that the crosses didn't work with two letters in one square didn't bother me at all. I've seen much weirder stuff. The fact that "share" can be read / understood differently also mucks things up. I like the idea of this theme, but from this solver's perspective, the overall point of the puzzle wasn't clearly graspable. When people have to speculate about what you meant (and I'm getting lots of different theories in my mail...) ... that's an issue.


SmartJanitor 10:08 AM  

Dear Rex,
You continue to over-use the use of an initial capital to Signify Snarky Emphasis. It's a crutch. Your writing is snarky enough, and emphatic enough, not to need to rely on it.

Hartley70 10:12 AM  

As I filled in the squares, it never once occurred to me that this was a rebus. Maybe too much time on the iphone app has made me one with my electronics.. Maybe that's a result of the rebus overkill two weeks ago that still gives me an oh oh feeling. Whiskey Sours have had the same effect since 1966. In any case, removing any rebus hesitation made this solve ridiculously fast. I intuited the theme at SKINSTRUCTOR on a first glance.

Thanks for stopping by to say hello Sam Trabucco. It's great to get a puzzle back story, and hearing directly from the constructor is like bumping into a celebrity on the street. This may have been a quick solve, but it was fun and outstanding for a second attempt! Congrats!

Sir Hillary 10:16 AM  

I had no issues with the mechanics of the theme. And "As I Lay Dying" is one of my all-time favorite novels, so even seeing Addie's tooth-needing husband didn't bother me.

Horace S. Patoot 10:21 AM  

May I ask if anyone uses Crossword Classics by Standalone? They appear to have been out of commission for two days. So no crosswords, including this one, are available.

Nancy 10:38 AM  

@Ludy -- You're right! In my less-than-positive critique of this puzzle, I completely forgot about the clue for PORNO at 12D and how much I loved it. One of the funniest clues I've ever seen in a puzzle, actually. And INKBLOT was nice, too.

But @Ludy: why on earth are you carrying "$$$ jewelry" when you travel? Isn't there enough to worry about on any given trip? Bring the $10 watch, bracelet and necklace you bought from the street vendor, assuming you bring any jewelry at all. No one in Bermuda is going to care how fine your jewelry is, or even if you aren't wearing any at all, and indeed there are actually some people who can't always tell the difference between the real and the ersatz -- I being one of them. Leave your good jewelry safe and sound and snug and well-hidden at home!

Z 10:46 AM  

@Rex - I beg to differ. I did it on paper, put one letter per circle because that made the down right and worked with the "share" idea, the two words sharing a letter. You were led astray by the software, not the puzzle. Interesting that some software only allowed the intended solution while some accepted an unintended rebus. Nevertheless, the intended solution is perfectly sussable from what is provided.

My question for software coders here, "Since it is the same .puz file, how could some software allow the rebus while others would not?"

Joseph Michael 11:00 AM  

This turned out to be an easy Thursday in spite of the rough start in the NW.. Some terrific cluing, such as that for CLEF, OTHER, CATS, and INK BLOT.

The theme was OK and the fill overall was quite good. So nice work, Sam, and congrats on your debut.

Carola 11:05 AM  

@Sam Trabucco, congratulations on your debut and thanks for stopping by to comment. Cute theme! I agree with others that the puzzle was (somewhat disappointingly) easy for a Thursday; however, for me there was a brain-twisting aspect of trying to figure out exactly how the sharing worked.

Really liked the long Downs. My favorite fake-out entry was 45D, where I had INK.... and was trying to think of a word where IN was a prefix. Thus I rejected BLIND, as INKB... was obviously impossible. Laughed when that lightbulb finally went on.
Like others, I had to change HiM OR (me) and also CedE to CAVE.

chefbea 11:14 AM  

@Sam - thanks for stopping by and explaining your puzzle. Look for more in the future

George Barany 11:14 AM  

A quick post-script to my earlier post, in the context of having read all the comments that have shown up at this point in the morning.

* Many of the complaints dealt with technical issues that are neither the constructor's nor the editor's fault, but more a function of the solving platform.

* It's entirely plausible that @Will Shortz and his team decided to toughen up any number of the original clues, e.g., EBERT. The final published product is a collaborative process, and the constructor's original vision and quite a few of the details may change substantially along the way.

* Special "props" (is that the correct slang?) to @Sam Trabucco for having the "reveal" to the puzzle, i.e., LIONSHARE also fit the theme. That's a rather unusual feature, and not at all easy to pull off.

Roo Monster 11:21 AM  

@Sam and Rex,
This isn't a put down of your puzzle @Sam, but this goes to show that any given day, Will will accept what tickles his fancy.

Congrats on getting your second puz in the Times, I'm always jealous of people who get their first NYT puz, cause as of now, it ain't me! :-) Won't tell you what number submission I'm on, too depressing...

As a fun side story, I was actually at the Aria parking area when I got the ARIA answer! In case you didn't know (or didn't care to know :-P ) I'm a chauffeur in Las Vegas, and was hanging at the ARIA because I had time twixt rides. Neat.


Andrew Heinegg 11:28 AM  

I thought this was a decent puzzle but, I did not like ease for rest, drips for insomnia cause or spire for skyline feature. I also think that Nilla has reached the point of overuse as trivial crosswordese. But, a respectable first effort particularly with the explanation of the constructor.

Da Bears 11:34 AM  

Interesting Blog today with the feedback from the constructor and Rex missing the mark. Somewhere along the puzzle I rejected the rebus and concluded with the reveal that the common letter was being shared going across. Rex clearly had a bad night watching the Mets get pounded, the GOP attacking the Media and not focusing enough on the puzzle. I was also interested to see that Sam did not use the circles originally because after doing the puzzle I was wondering how it would have played without them. But I concluded the circles helped with understanding the theme and were an improvement. No angst over ANSE either.

Numinous 11:43 AM  

Yikes! I feel cheated. This took me one third as long as a normal Thursday puzzle. I feel robbed of my fun. The puzzle was good enough on its own but played like a challenging Tuesday. I figured out the double letters at SK(I)NSTRUCTOR, realizing that the circle took the place of a rebus square. The downs all required a single letter so that was a no-brainer. SOCIA(L)IFE was the last thing I filled in. This was a single pass for me to the bottom then a quick fill-in-the-blanks to the top.

I want to thank @Teedmn and @Tita for their kind comments. I also want to thank @Rex for allowing my shameless self-promotion yesterday and for publishing my little effort.

Congratulations to Sam Trabucco on his NYT debut.

Tita 11:59 AM  

Wow...i grasped the shared lion letters asap... Hmmm...I guess it the was the SHARE part of the revealer that was such a subtle hint...?
Come on, much more obvious could it be...?! Sheesh. I mean, I've never missed something like that... ;)

I Thought the ALIEN/ESL might rankle, and I appreciate @Karen B's perspective, but I still remember the TV ads when I was a mere tyke, reminding us ALIENs that we had to register... I always looked forward to that, and I thought that it was kind of cool that we were classified as spacemen...
I was only naturalized when I was out of college, even though I was born here, so they skipped the language test for me.

I loved this puzzle...two aha moments...first at DOOVER...then when I quickly processed the revealer answer as @Nancy did..."wait...they only share one letter" to " spells out LIONS!"

Great fun, Mr. T...thank you!

blinker474 12:10 PM  

I found the puzzle difficult, although I was able to finish it without help. I am surprised and dismayed that almost all others found this puzzle very easy. But I may get over it.

Masked and Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Solved it on paper. As I solved, was putting 2 shares of LIONS into each circle, wonderin, as I went along, why the downs didn't cooperate with that. When I got the reveal, I figured maybe I shoulda been puttin just one hunk of lion into each square, after all. So, kinda got the author's drift, but sure weren't sure.

So, a little Halloween week magic, what with the disembodied king of beasts and yer EERIE fill. Other slightly ghoulish stuff, bulleted …
* CAVE. "Give in"?!? No no no. Halloween clue desperately needed, with this here.
* TREAT. Ditto.
* HOOT. Ditto.
* ALIEN. Again ditto.
* POOP. Cool "Father figure" answer. fave quantum mechanics weeject.
* ONION. If U eat gobs of this, vampires'll leave U alone. Or think U are just the condiments table.
* INKBLOT. Rorschach Test! See recent runt puzzle. So, pretty horrifyin, in a flashback sense.
So overall, Halloween Index = 2.4.

About yesterday's NYTPuz. Veggies? Dudes. Halloween Index = 0.5. Could've vaulted up to a 6.0, if they had used (CREATURE FROM THE) BLACK LEGUME, tho.

ANSE. har. Good idea to have at least one kinda funky-clunky morsel, in yer debut puz. Then U have room left for improvement. Save somethin for the final heat. [But I caution everyone, this is not a competition. M&A implores U: No wagering.]

Thanx & Congrats, Mr. Trabucco. Keep that U-count up, and keep on crankin em out.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

p.s. Maine! duh. Finally thought of that ONE state.

**high Halloween Index gruntz**

Bob Kerfuffle 12:22 PM  

Scrabble-Confusing-Department: As I solved the first two theme answers, I felt (incorrectly, as has now been explained) that a correct interpretation required that each circle contain two of the same letter going across and one of that same letter coming down, so that the theme would turn out to be something about a Triple Letter Score!

Tilting-At-Windmills-Department: At least once before when this topic was in a puzzle, I pointed out that, although contrary to current usage, in the original fable the "Lion's share" is not, as the clue says "Almost all," but in fact is completely all. You could look it up!

Nancy C 12:29 PM  

This makes the most sense! I think you are right.

Lewis 12:33 PM  

@sam -- Thank you for stopping by. I would have loved the puzzle without the circles, and am curious as to what your original clue for LION(S)HARE was...

Master Melvin 12:43 PM  

Made me think of the pair of lions outside the NY Public Library on 5th Avenue.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

Thanks to Sam T for making an appearance on this forum - and congratulations on a fine puzzle, whether or not the 'theme' was entirely clear.

Like @Rex, I had the most trouble in the NW, as I had lightly put in MAMA for 2D, which didn't help with any cross. I solve in pen on dead-tree edition, so potential write-overs lead me to either circle back and wait for crosses to help, or write very lightly.

Not that it speaks to the theme of the letters of LIONS 'sharing' the space in the across entry, it might have been nice to have a reference the most famous 'twin lions' somewhere in the grid - meaning the ones in front of the Fifth Avenue NY Public Library, perhaps most well known to non-area folks from the movie Ghostbusters.

There was enough for this solver to enjoy the 'semi-rebus' puzzle, especially the down answers mentioned by many others, INKBLOT SEEIFICARE and especially the risqué (for the NYT, that is) PORNO.


Anonymous 1:33 PM  

@Barany's at it again, using this blog to promote one of hid (co-authored) puzzles.

Teedmn 1:52 PM  

I liked the implied POOP for a father figure at 33D. I started this puzzle at the bottom so I got the revealer first but never quite noticed that the double letters only worked across until I said POOP? Huh? And never saw that the shared circles were LIONS til I got here. As usual, the meta part went over my head.

I found this sort of hard, CedE before CAVE, SlalomRaCers (yes I knew at the time I wrote it in that the clue didn't call for a plural but I just saiid "SEE IF I CARE"!) at 24A, remiT before TREAT.

But a nice Thursday over all. Thanks Sam Trabucco and congrats on the debut.

Gregory Schmidt 2:08 PM  

Biggest complaint was with having the trivia answer EBERT and the cross-ref ESL/ALIEN all in the same area. Took me forever to grind that out, long after I'd zipped through the rest of the grid.

TimJim 2:39 PM  

In "The LION'S SHARE," the Aesop's fable from which the phrase comes, the lion get's ALL of the meal, not most of it.

the redanman 2:42 PM  

Very very easy, unnatural, in a way, for a Thursday

mac 2:45 PM  

Easy but fresh puzzle today. Got the theme very quickly, but still had a lot of fun finishing.

Interesting, @Bob Kerfuffle! I do remember now.

Congratulations, Sam, and thanks!

thfenn 2:45 PM  

Well I spent nearly 40 minutes thrilled with completing a Thursday without cheating, so am sort of disappointed to hear it was so easy. Jeesh. Slowed up in lots of places. HOWL before HOOT, TOWER before SPIRE, LAZE before EASE, HIM OR me before HUMOR me. PooP and PORNO certainly HUMORed me. PELT took me a long time, since I was trying to think of hiding something. Mixed up Forego and Forgo, only got EBERT from the crosses in the end. Very pleased with myself for getting the double letter thing relatively quickly, though couldn't see how they worked on the downs which slowed me awhile. Also couldn't figure out why the online version insisted I wasn't done until I started nosing through here, which I guess just proves the software isn't IDIOTPROOF in my case. You know, in the end, when you're not that good at these and you're coming here trying to get better, completing this one was just a thrill. Fun. Lots to like, including the II being skis going downhill. Very happy.

old timer 5:59 PM  

Thanks to the blog I got the gimmick, and ended up admiring the puzzle quite a bit. I just wrote in double letters and didn't get the Share bit, hence wondered why the down answers did not have double letters too.

ALIEN and ESL weren't that hard, because their crosses were easily found. Boggles my mind that anyone could find it offensive -- most alien immigrants do have English as a second language.

Sam Trabucco 7:45 PM  

To answer someone above, my original clue was something along the lines of [The largest portion -- or, what the two parts in the answers to the starred clues are doing?]. A little clunky, but it gets at the idea that the two words in each themer are the ones doing the sharing, rather than pairs of letters sharing a square.

I'll probably check in here a couple more times if anyone has other questions! Thanks for all the feedback (positive and negative).

Masked and Anonymous 8:49 PM  

@009: Finally finished all I could of yer themeless BuzzFeed Puz. Kinda hard, especially in the NW and SW, for m&e. I wasn't watchin tv during the solve, but I was gettin a flu shot.
Had 6 personal Nat-tick squares, all told. Guessed all but 2 of em correct. Learned a lot of new stuff. fave PEWIT-like word: 46-Down.

Zero U's?
0 <-- (tears of disbelief)


Anonymous 8:59 PM  

Me, I liked the Friedrich Ebert clue. What is boring trivia to some is fun for others. And what is exciting to you is sometimes boring trivia to me. Such is life and it keeps on getting sucher. Of course, It's your party and you can cry if you want to.

kitshef 12:15 AM  

I live in constant fear of leaving everything in the hotel SAFE, so I've started putting one of my shoes in there. When that early morning alarm goes off, no matter how tired I may be I'll still notice the absence of one shoe.

I thought this had a lot of fun clues, and yes, kind of easy for a Th. That said I had ample overwrites: HOwl before HOOT, Error before EMAIL, CedE before CAVE.

Only objection not already mentioned is clue for SNEER, which I think of as specifically condescending rather than mean, and don't think of as a grin at all. There's a little smiling element to it, but not a full-on grin.

@Karen Bruce: as a former alien myself from the UK, the idea of requiring an ESL course I found more amusing than irritating, but I've also never faced the kind of added discrimination you describe.

Burma Shave 10:41 AM  


With the SKIINSTRUCTOR and his BLIND wife,


rondo 12:37 PM  

Did this puz with MUCH relative EASE. CHICKENNOODLE Soup for the Rebus Xword Solver.

I suppose yeah baby Klum would be too easy for a Thursday HEIDI clue.

I haven’t seen the word FINK used lately in the Wizard of Id strip. It used to be in there a lot back in the 60’s – 70’s.

Glad that RAND was not Paul.

Packers at LIONS tonight. Vikes still in first!

What a TREAT to have PORNO in a puz. EZ thrsday IMHO.

Longbeachlee 1:12 PM  

I love this blog, and all the clever people who I'd like to think I'm like, but with one exception, the fact that so many have an issue with writing two letters in one square. I do it on paper, so I gather you are seeking the approval of the entity that tells you you are good boys and girls, and gives you a virtual gold star. C'mon, you know you solved it. Isn't that enough?

Jaime Gunderson 1:31 PM  

Not sure, but could a lion's share be double [everyone else's]? That's the first thing I thought of that could make sense.

rain forest 3:04 PM  

A sprightly and different puzzle today. After getting two of the themers and noting that the double letters didn't work for the down answers, I removed one if them, but couldn't see what the trick was until I got the revealer, and then, Aha! Nice.

Proudly, I say, I had no trouble in the NW, but didn't know EBERT or ANSE (should've--I read the book years ago), but the crosses fixed that.

If volunteers for costume-designing PORNO films were called for, I'm pretty sure @BURMA SHAVE and @Rondo would be first and second in line.

CROSSWORDS SHOULD BE FUN I heard someone say. For me, this one was.

leftcoastTAM 4:10 PM  

Got the trick initially at DOOVER, and then got the double LL, II, etc., as they came into view.

Herr EBERT and Addie's husband ANSE were the last to go.

Seemed a bit odd for a Thursday semi-rebus, and easy once getting the double LION in view.

Okay but missing a degree of cleverness.

leftcoastTAM 5:21 PM  

Okay, not apparently an IDIOTPROOF theme, but I got it. My lions were two LIONS occupying the same spaces; not one taking up and SHAREing the same spaces across.

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