Gas giant since 1966 / THU 10-22-15 / Phishing targets / Mint family plant harvested for its seeds / Japanese dish whose name means literally eel bowl / Like terms mailman comedienne say / Place for pre-20th century medicines / Tart English jelly fruit / Dark horse bring to light

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Constructor: Tracy Gray

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: POTHOLES (60A: Road hazards ... four of which are illustrated literally in this puzzle) — phrases with the letter string "CAR" in them have the "A" part disappear inside a black square, signifying, presumably, the idea of a "CAR" hitting a pothole [nope ... looks like the "A" is underneath the black square...? Adds to the pothole effect that way...]

Theme answers:
  • OSCAR NOD (14A: Recognition from the Academy)
  • CREME CARAMEL (22A: Flan)
  • APOTHECARY SHOP (36A: Place for pre-20th century medicines)
  • DALE CARNEGIE (46A: "How to Win Friends and Influence People" writer)
Word of the Day: UNADON (16A: Japanese dish whose name means, literally, "eel bowl") —
Unadon (鰻丼?, an abbreviation for unagi + donburi, literally "eel bowl") is a dish originating in Japan. It consists of a donburi type large bowl filled with steamed white rice, and topped with fillets of eel (unagi) grilled in a style known as kabayaki, similar to teriyaki. The fillets are glazed with a sweetened soy-based sauce, called tare and caramelized, preferably over charcoal fire. The fillets are not flayed, and the grayish skin side is placed faced down. Sufficient tare sauce is poured over so that some of it seeps through the rice underneath. By convention, pulverized dried berries of sanshō (called Japanese pepper, although botanically unrelated) are sprinkled on top as seasoning. (wikipedia)
• • •

Theme was simultaneously very easy and very hard to get. That is to say, I got the disappearing "A" part almost immediately, before ever leaving that little NW corner, but I got the whole *concept* of the puzzle ... well, never. Even after reading the POTHOLES clues, I couldn't figure out why the POTHOLES were all "A"s. Black "A"s ... I don't get it. So I had to check with a friend. This is what (sometimes) happens when I solve early in the morning. Part of my brain just shuts down or hasn't warmed up sufficiently or ... something. So my experience solving this puzzle was not terribly joyful. I've seen words jump black squares and disappear inside black squares before (which is why I cracked the thing very quickly), and just having "A"s disappear didn't seem very interesting, and then the rest of the puzzle was very stale / ordinary / rough / workmanlike. Lots of wincing (from the old crosswordy-ness of TOTIE-upon-SNELL, to the SLOE OTOE crossing the ridiculous NOT (and somehow not NON-, which would also be bad) PC, to the kids in ETONS taking their PSATs, to ... well, everywhere. There's not an answer in the grid (outside the themers) that is inherently interesting or is clued in an interesting way. Kind of a chore to fill out. Once I realized, however, that the POTHOLES weren't just "A"s but were, in fact, "CAR"s that had gone over / through black-square POTHOLES, my appreciation for the concept jumped considerably (even though technically your car does not *disappear* inside a pothole ... this approximation of the experience seems fine). Still, the rest of the grid, yeesh.

Some hesitation in that NW corner because I don't think of LOL as meaning [I crack myself up], though I guess it can. I thought it represented ... just ... laughter, or was minimally a conventional way of indicating to others that something funny had occurred (not that I, myself, had said something funny). Also, the term described in 1D: "Kitsch" or "kindergarten," from German is "LOANword." LOAN on its own seemed weird. If you look up "Kitsch," as I just did, many definitions in fact begin "LOANword from German." LOAN is close enough, probably, but it's awkward, technically.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


tkr 6:09 AM  

Interesting concept that was just ruined by the fill.

Lewis 7:08 AM  

Oh, this was lots of fun, with a gimmick to figure out -- and a very good one at that, where I could kind of experience the pothole bump -- and some tough cluing to battle with, plus a few crackling clues, such as those for IDO and ARENA. Also we have the outer LIMITS, the literal TOTEM pole, and a mini-theme of words ending in O (9). Someone once said that some ugly fill is justifiable in service to a good theme, and I think what clunkers there are here are okay for just that reason. Good one! Thank you Tracy!

Lewis 7:14 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Child 7:29 AM  

I agree with OFL that my appreciation for the puzzle jumped an order of magnitude upon seeing the disappearing A revealed underneath and understanding that the CAR was bouncing. I had to depend TOTIE on the crosses for 12-D, but I think SNELL is a excellent word.

I didn't really get it until I saw the gimme


so it was a normal Thursday time for me. I liked UNADON - manageable with some experience of eating at Japanese restaurants, The Importance of Being IN EARNEST, and CHOO CHOOS. 'TAINT much to complain about here - I liked it Ms Gray.

Adam Prince 7:43 AM  

Probably also worth noting that the A from the car has fallen into the hole and shows up under the hole in each instance

Toni 7:59 AM  

To Adam's comment above, I didn't see the "pothole" concept as the letter A "disappearing" into the black square as much as dropping into the square below it, thus simulating a "cAr" falling into the hole beneath the black square, and as such I thought it was very clever.

The Oxen of the Sun 8:01 AM  

SW was dreadfully hard for my wife and me. Had DIVAS instead of DAMES, ESSO instead of ARCO. Even with CHOOCHOOS and LETBY where they belong I couldn't see METEOR or ARETHAS for the life of me. We were certain what we had was correct.

Imjustsaying 8:02 AM  

C'mon Rex -- A-holes are truly road hazards. Look at what just happened in ABQ!

AliasZ 8:03 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 8:04 AM  

Does it bother anyone that APOTHECARY SHOP has an extra S? Is it meant to be a possessive, like APOTHECARY'S?

AliasZ 8:18 AM  

I loved the visual aspect of the CAR taking a bone-rattling dip while driving across those POTHOLES. But the best part of the theme was AL D'AMATO, nicknamed Senator POTHOLE.

@Rex, that should have been "workwomanlike," not "workmanlike". Or did you do that on purpose to point out how un-PC NOTPC was? Clever!

The puzzle had its flaws, starting with the fact that not all POTHOLES were symmetrically placed. This however could have been possible only if all of them were stand-alone black squares, but the OS[CAR]NOD has a two-block deep pothole to drive over. Therefore its symmetrical pair would have to be UNT[OOT]AN, in which the OOT jumps over a two-block high speed bump. Plus UNTOOTAN is not a word, and it would've been hard to clue anyway. Perhaps "A light shade of summer beach skin color"? A bump is not the same as a pothole, so scratch that.

But I still liked the puzzle. I loved Chattanooga CHOOCHOOS, TOTEM and TOTIE, IDIOM instead of IDIOT, but not quite willing to ACCEPT BETELS as a plural. I will LETBY gones be bygones.

APOTHECARY comes from the Greek ἀποθήκη (apothiki) meaning storage place or repository.

Some men have so much hair in their ears, a hummingbird could build an IN-EAR NEST.

Lucky coincidence: I am going to [CAR]NEGIE Hall tonight. Not DALE, Andrew. One of the works on the program will be the cantata "Alexander Nevsky" by Prokofiev. In this brief expert we can hear contralto Lili CHOOCHOOkasian delivering a heartwrenching song in "The Field of the Dead".


Karen Bruce 8:20 AM  

I think that I'm still too new a solver to register easily when a grid has a trick of this kind. I stared at the five letter box in which I believed I had to fit DALE CARNEGIE for a shamefully long time before realizing that it was meant to span the grid. I also was baffled by the - in the clues at that point. But it's a Thursday puzzle, I'm still learning the conventions, and I'm fine with finding them tough for now.

Anyway, I actually wanted to comment because the discussion of LOL reminded me of a cool TED talk that I watched with my students. John McWhorter was talking about texting as a new language or at least a profound language change. He made the argument that LOL was now often functioning as a pragmatic particle, which indicated empathy and accommodation. It was often used in instances where there was nothing funny at all, such as "lol, I have a ten page paper to write by Sunday." I found it absolutely fascinating.

chefbea 8:23 AM  

Got the pot hole theme right away but didn't see the cars until I came here. Love flan and never heard of snell.

Janice Greer 8:32 AM  

clever clue: Al D'amato was known as the "Pothole Senator."

Charles Flaster 8:48 AM  

Agree totally with Rex.
Theme was creative and took a while to decipher.
30 Across should indicate Abbr.
OTOH 65 Across was nicely done to indicate an abbreviation and many times it slips by the NYT.
Thanks TG.

blinker474 8:50 AM  

I echo the comment about APOTHECARY SHOP and note that Rex, in his comments, had it without the extra S. And I agree with Toni's comment about how to see the gimmick here. That makes more sense to me, and produces a more attractive result. Nice puzzle.

Debra 8:58 AM  

Very cute. Somehow made me feel better about $2500 estimate from the mechanic yesterday.

quilter1 9:08 AM  

Got it all plus the gimmick except DNF the NW corner. I couldn't come up with LOAN, did not know the senator so there you go. If you think a car cannot disappear into a pothole you haven't been to Des Moines, IA. Chronic complaint all winter.

Robert Rothschild 9:12 AM  

Bothered me mucho!

Hartley70 9:16 AM  

Absolutely nothing bothered me about this puzzle. The concept was clever and fresh for me and didn't hit me in the head until I saw DALEC RNEGIE. The missing A appearing in the space below was perfection.

Best thing about this puzzle was the theme, the theme! Worst thing was UNADON crossing SNELL, but who doesn't like a bit of a challenge?

K488 9:19 AM  

Wasn't Senator Al D'Amato known as "Senator Pothole"? Best part of the puzzle for me.

joho 9:26 AM  

Very clever concept and just what I want on a Thursday. Thanks, Tracy Gray, I always look forward to your puzzles!

Tita 9:28 AM  

I thought the concept was fun. I definitely did not notice the dropping A...I just thought that my C_R disappeared into a pothole.
Agree that to is an APOTHECARY possessive required. Apothecary is the shop, not the person.
It's not a coffe's shop... Oh hell...look what you've got me doing, ana@8:04...

Now that you mention it, Rex, there's some bad fill, and the clue for LOAN was a lousy choice. But there's lots of clever clueing too.

Thanks, Gray lady...this was just clever enough for my Thursday fix.

Nancy 9:32 AM  

Exactly what Rex says. I solved the puzzle fairly easily, without understanding the "why" of the puzzle. It seemed that only As were missing, but why? There were some black squares that had missing letters, but many more that didn't. Again, why? It seemed arbitrary. When POTHOLES came in towards the end, I looked for the missing letter words to be about "pots". But they weren't. Again, why? Had to come here to find out.

I was helped by having AL D'AMATO, DALE CARNEGIE, and CREME CARAMEL in my wheelhouse. On the other hand, the German and Japanese words were not in my wheelhouse. Still, not that tough -- greatly helped by the relative lack of junk. I liked it.

Pete 9:33 AM  

I don't know what this says about me, but none of it's good: I solved the puzzle by adding the missing 'A's to the preceding 'C' square, saw the reveal and said "well, that's not good - The 'A's should have fallen down, disappeared into the pothole." I knew what "should" be going on and rather than check to see if that were the case I proceeded to be disappointed by the puzzle. I feel about myself now as I felt about Carly Fiorina after her diatribe against Planned Parenthood: Either you're too stupid to evaluate a simple situation accurately, you're too lazy to do so, or you don't care in the first place, because facts are irrelevant when they contradict a point you're trying to make.

I strongly suggest that none of you vote for me to be a candidate for President.

cwf 9:45 AM  

@Anonymous 8:04. Yes, it bothered me. Locatable on the web, though.

But, SNELL? TOTIE? NOTPC? No, no, no.

Sir Hillary 9:47 AM  

Sad to say, this was not much fun to solve. Like some others, I completely missed the "underneath A" until reading @Rex's write-up, so the ho-hum fill was exacerbated by my incomplete understanding of what appeared to be (but isn't) a lame theme. So, my lack of fun was at least partially my own fault.

@Imjustsaying -- Your A-hole comment actually did make me 1-Across.

So did Chrissie Hynde in a sequined top hat. Ah, the '80s...

jberg 9:54 AM  

Yeah, that APOTHECARY'S SHOP is a possessive of convenience -- a new kind of POC. I had store for a long time.

I didn't see the dropped A until I got to the revealer; that did, indeed, raise the quality of the puzzle for me. The crossing of a stadium name with a fighter jet name was killing me until I figured out the above SSHOP thing; then I got the C by plausibility.

I can see that it's impossible, as there is nowhere to drop the A to, but I still didn't like having no symmetrical match for OSCAR NOD. Maybe that would be too much to ask. Still, it was fun.

Ludyjynn 9:54 AM  

Writeover city: 'Hess' and 'Esso' before crosses forced ARCO.

'Heartfelt' before INEARNEST.

'Custard' before CARAMEL.

Felt it should have been APOTHECARY 'shoppe'.


Despite all of the above POTHOLES, I really appreciated the overall clever execution of the theme. And yes, Rex, a C-R can literally disappear into one. During rush hour traffic, I once had the OPTion of avoiding one the size of NJ by changing lanes and causing an accident or facing the pothole. I chose the latter. Let's just say, nobody got hurt (phew!), but my poor car was enSNARED and had to be towed in for repairs. BTW, the insurance co. classified it as a "collision"!

Fun Thursday, Thanks, TG and WS.

Adam Prince 9:58 AM  

I kind of wish I hadn't noticed the A dipping below the pothole. Sort of makes the whole visual of the theme not work. If CAR were supposed to visually be an actual car, then the C or the R should have fallen in, not the A.

Indypuzzler 10:00 AM  

This was a fun and easy ( for a Thursday) puzzle for me and the only thing I rolled my eyes at was TOTIE. With all due respect to anyone talented enough to be famous for more than 15 minutes in the 60-70s, TOTIE Fields just doesn't stand the test of time for anyone younger than 60. Someone send me a message to the great beyond in fifty years to see whether Psy/Gangname Style makes it into a crossword puzzle.

Mohair Sam 10:00 AM  

What @Lewis said, word for word. Loved this one.

Got the basic gimmick at OSCARNOD but hung up thinking CREME needed to be d' something or other. Finally worked our way down to good old DALECARNEGIE and aha'd on the actual CAR in the POTHOLE thing, LOL'd for real, got CARAMEL and were able to fill what had seemed like an impossible NE (thank you TOTIE).

Noted that @Rex pointed out that cars don't technically disappear in potholes. I left the Syracuse area before the introduction of the Smart Car and wonder if a few of the little things haven't been lost in the POTHOLES left by Upstate New York Springs.

Thanks Tracy Gray, lots of fun.

Wednesday's Child 10:00 AM  

Similar experience with others, saw the As before I noticed CARS. Very nice, in my estimation.

Hey, can we drop the OPTS. Getting a little tiresome.

Is SAYS SO really stating with authority? Seems milder than that.

All in all, a fine puzzle.

Unknown 10:02 AM  

Al D'Amato's nickname, "senator pothole", also adds to the theme.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:13 AM  

Clever theme, had me guessing, took a minute to see those dropped A's; Easy solve otherwise.


Bob Kerfuffle 10:16 AM  

Also wondered if there would be any complaints about 16A, AL DAMATO, well-known in the New York area, perhaps not so much elsewhere.

But it is important for the them of this puzzle to note that Damato, because of his attention to very local issues, was known as "Senator Pothole"!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:19 AM  

Had the nickname right but flubbed the name: D'Amato. (But that's just an indication that I remembered it, hadn't looked it up!)

Tim 10:20 AM  

Some hesitation in that NW corner because I don't think of LOL as meaning [I crack myself up], though I guess it can. I thought it represented ... just ... laughter, or was minimally a conventional way of indicating to others that something funny had occurred (not that I, myself, had said something funny).

bro do you even internet

mac 10:23 AM  

Very cute theme, but I have a real problem with that double s in apothecary shop. Even Rex leaves it out in the write-up, although it is in his solved puzzle.

I also think 1A sounds more like ROTFL!

Chia is in the mint family?? I have to look that up.

Laurence Katz 10:25 AM  

Yeah, the possessive "'s" added to apothecary seems a bit of a cheat. Anyone ever go the butcher's shop?

mac 10:25 AM  

... and when I did look Chia up (yes it is in the salvia family) I found out we can purchase a
Chia Obama.

GILL I. 10:29 AM  

I pretty much figured out the conceit at OSC A RNOD. Even so, I had lots of trouble. For one, I refused to give up CREMEC ustards. So now I'm dealing with a CAR and a CUS. Dang, something taint right.
@Anonymous 8:04... I too didn't like that extra S in APOTHECARY. It just didn't look very nice.
UNADON > unagi on top of rice in a bowl. This is probably the only Japanese fish dish I don't like. In Spain, little eels are called "angulas" and they are delicious. They also cost as much as Beluga caviar.
I like how this dips along into the POTHOLES and I like Tracy Gray puzzles...this one, not so much.

Wednesday's Child 10:30 AM  

And then there was MAMBA. At first I put in cobra (I had the A) but it didn't sit right. Aren't cobras more of an Indian snake? I had to think for a while to come up with mamba. Made me think of Randy Newman's America.

In America you get food to eat
Don't have to run through the jungle and scuff up your feet
Ain't no lions or tigers, ain't no mamba snakes
Just the sweet watermelon and the buckwheat cakes

jae 10:38 AM  

Pretty easy for a Thurs.  My only real erasures (other than writing things in the wrong places) were @Rex NOnPC before NOT and essO before ARCO.

Thought this was cute with a nice visual component, although, like Jeff Chen (see Xwordinfo) and apparently @Rex, at first  I saw the POTHOLES as the black squares instead of dropping down a square as Tracy intended.  Liked it.

jack reeves 10:39 AM  

"Apothecary's Shop" is a correct usage. Apothecary is the name of the tradesman and their shop is something they possess.'s+shop

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

Yes! @ anon 8:04

Roo Monster 10:52 AM  

Hey All !
Total Fail here. Too many names, too many obscurities. 12D, 13D, huh? and huh? Who the heck is TOTIE Fields? And SNELL?
Knew what the theme wanted, but never figured it out. Had the SE corner completed, so got the revealer, just couldn't figure out the themers. (Granted, should've got OSCAR NOD...)

Decided to quit this, as had absolutely nothing in the NE. My SW was a mess also, with essO, pEcanS, AmEcHeS. Ugh.

The names got me. AL D'AMATO, don't follow my own state senators, never mind anothers, DALE CARNEGIE, not well read, (as you should know by now). LOAN(word) a new one on me, UNADON also new (don't eat eel, or other nastiness like that!)

Not saying this was a bad puz, just not my ken. Or AL.


Peter E. Schmidt 10:53 AM  

Looks like you missed the reference to Al D'Amato, known as Senator Pothole for looking after his constituents.

Peter S.

johnny stocker 11:04 AM  

Yeah, I had the exact same experience in the SW as Oxen of the Sun. Right down to having ESSO and DIVAS. Almost gave up on it, but finally managed to come up with DAMES, and the whole thing clicked into place.

Joseph Michael 11:09 AM  

Did'n't see the CARS until I read the comments here. What I came away with was just a bunch of A HOLES.

Either way, got a chuckle out of it. Thanks, Tracy, for a good start to the day.

Andrew Heinegg 11:10 AM  

RP is spot on with his critique here. Between the abundance of sub par fill and the single themed 'a' as the middle letter of car disappearing into the black pothole of the puzzle, this was an uninspired Thursday offering. And, Anonymous at 8:04 is right. There was no reason for the S at the end of apothecary other than to fill in the down answer. That's not terrible but, it is a bit clumsy.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

4. To happen or come to pass; to occur.
[1913 Webster]

Note: This sense of the word, which is of comparatively
recent introduction, is common in the United States,
especially in the language of conversation and of
newspaper writers, and is used to some extent in
England. Its use, however, is censured by critics of
both countries.
[1913 Webster]

Molson 11:19 AM  

I wanted Loanword at 1D so much I was looking for a disappearing word theme at first. Tori's and Snell crossing Unadon is just awful and unfair.

Shamik 11:28 AM  

Thank you for the CAR explanation! But I agree with Imjustsaying about a-holes being the road hazards.

Heading out today to the LA Crossword tournament.

Wednesday's Child 11:29 AM  

And then there was MAMBA. At first I put in cobra (I had the A) but it didn't sit right. Aren't cobras more of an Indian snake? I had to think for a while to come up with mamba. Made me think of Randy Newman's America.

In America you get food to eat
Don't have to run through the jungle and scuff up your feet
Ain't no lions or tigers, ain't no mamba snakes
Just the sweet watermelon and the buckwheat cakes

old timer 11:47 AM  

I am *much* more impressed with the puzzle now I know that the missing A has just dropped down a square,causing the car to bounce. Way more impresed.

The solving experience was pretty easy,for a Thursday,until I tackled the NE. Didn't guess LIMITS, didn't remember SNELL, didn't know the LUST quote. Ended up having to Google for TOTIE Fields, which gave me SEMITE and the rest of the puzzle. Not that I knew UNADON, but I do know "unagi" is eel, and that was enough.

I really thought AT A BOIL was lame. Is that what you call Green Paint? Ugly, for sure. NOT PC is just fine, though. I've seen that much more often than OFL's hypothetical non-PC.

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

To Anonymous 8:03: Yes, it's possessive.

Infuriating Natick in the NE sector kept me from completing an otherwise extremely easy puzzle. I knew 15-A had to end with either a vowel or N and I already had T-TIE for 12-D, so I knew the blank space had to be a vowel. But I had no idea about which person named Fields was apparently famous for being funny, so I had to guess the missing vowel. And of course I guessed wrong.

RAD2626 12:25 PM  

Good non perjorative clue for DAMES. Was sort of Meh about puzzle Gil it was pointed out here that the A's fell into the potholes (sort of like this year's Oakland A's). Changed my view of the puzzle entirely. Very clever.

Carola 12:30 PM  

Very clever. Like @Rex, I first wondered what was special about a disappearing A's theme (after OSC_R NOD), then wondered what the non-A's had to do with POTHOLES...and then saw the cars dipping into them. Outstanding reveal.

Early on, I'd also wondered if the theme was somehow language-related, with LOAN words, an IDIOM, NOT-PC terms, and the METEOR metaphor.

Learned from previous puzzles: SNELL. New to me: UNADON. Do-over: C_RNaGIE. Favorite clue: for LUST.

nick 1:08 PM  

Had to read the comments to catch the pothole/car conceit, which is pretty nice. But the fill. Dreary. Complete the captcha correctly is more fun.

Anoa Bob 1:09 PM  

I got the "A" in CAR disappearing into the black square early on, but, until @Toni's comment, missed the fact that it doesn't really disappear at all but just drops into the POT HOLES and bottoms out one column below "road level".

That extra level of theme complexity makes for a higher degree of difficulty in filling the grid, and is probably why we see another illustration of how valuable the S "tile" is, as in Scrabble, in xwords. Around 12% of the letters in the grid are S's, about twice the frequency in standard English text ( There's even a super POC at 58D, SSNS. Not only is it a plural of convenience itself, it also enables three other POCs. Not shabby for a four-letter entry. Similar to its cousin, SSTS.

Who gets to decide what is PC and what is NOT PC? Is there a PC "Pope". And is "Pope" NOT PC because it is gender specific. Does Hallmark make a birth announcement card that says "It's a person!"?

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

I thought the theme was pretty clever and that the fill had a minimal amount of "clunk" in it, plus some nice clueing. Perhaps Mr. "Parker" would find more joy a bit later in the morning!

jp flanigan 1:25 PM  

Not my favorite

Warren Howie Hughes 1:36 PM  

A Metaphor for a blazing success would be the way the New York METEORs "Swept" thru the Chicago Cubs like a devouring flame in the Friendly Confines last night, to add even further frustration to their age-old quest to win a World Series!

Teedmn 1:44 PM  

Fun puzzle. Of course, I missed the CAR in the POTHOLE and contented myself with a uni-directional rebus (on Thursdays, always go for the rebus!). So coming here and getting the visual of the tire in the POTHOLE (and we get some doozies here in spring) was great.

APOTHECARY'S SHOP was nice to see, and IN EARNEST, CHOO CHOOS and the clues for ARMOR and SNARE.

Thanks, Tracy Gray

Leapfinger 2:15 PM  

Did you practice, practice, practice?

Masked and Anonymous 2:16 PM  

Caught on to the imbedded CARs passin over the POTHOLES gimmick, but didn't spot the A's under the holes, until coming here. Very nice, joltin infrastructure theme.

Had a tough time out of the chute in the NW. Usually I don't shop around my gettin-started locale, until I get to Fri- and SatPuzs. So was pretty stubborn, trying to crack this NW corner.
NW difficulty bullets:
* LOAN. Wasn't on the right wavelength with this clue. Read clue and just wanted to answer "YEP".
* LOL. Wanted HAR. I guess the NYTPuz clue is acceptable as written, since it at least sorta has Patrick Berry Immunity. Former PB1 clue: {I'm so funny!}.
* OSLO. Does this mean (a) that the scene in "The Scream" painting is depicting somewhere in OSLO? Or (b) does it mean the painting itself is currently living somewhere in OSLO. Was thinking (a) and hence wanted BRIDGE or maybe MOAT.
>>>.A. I wasn't quite smart enough to figure this out yet. Wanted BOO, only cuz that's the only weeject I could think of that made any sense.
* ALDAMATO. Don't follow NY politics much.
* NOSCORE. Finally got this, after help from ASTI/ARMOR/TOTEM/IDO.

3 U's. Most U-Usages were smooth and dandy, except maybe for UNADON. Learned somethin there, which is fine. Just that during the solve, M&A assumed that UNADON was somehow POTHOLES-ed.

Patrick Berry Usage Immunities of interest: ERS. ESC. IDO. LOL. OKS. PSAT. SLOE. POTHOLES.

Really fun, different solve. Thanx, Tracy G.
Liked how the whole day-um CAR swerved off the road and cracked up on a bolder, at 54-Down.



Kryptogram 2:26 PM  

Fun puzzle! I had SALLY for TOTIE - who is Totie? Loved the clue for ARMOR, even if I did put CHAIN at first. The theme made me think of this, some local excitement:

Z 2:48 PM  

Much easier to get the conceit in the paper because the second half of the themers are unnumbered. For example, the RNOD has no number and UNADON is 15A, not 16 A. Saw the Reveal clue (56A in the paper) and knew it had to be some sort of POTHOLES theme. Still, wondering how to fit OSC(A)R award slowed me down quite a bit.

Neat puzzle by a non-male who is not CC. Amazing.

I put in the N of UNADON/SNELL last. Total guess. ShELL, SkELL, SmELL, SpELL, StELL, and SwELL all seemed at least plausible, and my knowledge of Japanese cuisine begins and ends with Japanese steakhouses. So I finished correctly, but likely because SNELL is lodge somewhere deep in the esey part of the ol' eely noodle.

Now, off to do the buzzfeed puzzle and probably feel old.

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

To some extent, the worse clue was Totie Fields. I had never heard of her and, even running it through google didn't help. I liked the Hobbes quote---much more on my turf than the Black Eyed Peas, who I had never heard of either. I'll be ordering my Chia Paul Ryan in the morning.

bwalker 3:30 PM  

I got it with DALE CARNEGIE, so that was the easy part. In the Army we called warrant officers "Mister" or "Chief". I know CPOs are "Chief" in the Navy (and they would agree), but I have no idea how that branch refers to its warrants (other than they are N O T Chief). BOSUN? Really? We were told to call them Mister .

And like all officers, "Sir."


Chuck McGregor 4:23 PM  

An inversion of the theme would have been what we get a lot of here in Maine: frost heaves (we get potholes, too!). With the "A" in CAR above the black squares it would have added a different dimension in that the "A"s resemble the shape of the "heaves" (not so for the potholes) and what the car would do going over one.

However, the whole "hole" thing (fill in the [pot]hole with a missing letter) would have been lost.

Generally, frost heaves are gentler than potholes on things like tires, tie-rods, and wheel bearings. However, unlike potholes, frost heaves can't be "fixed" when they do appear. Thankfully, even the worst of them pretty much fix themselves when the ground thaws.

Though I got the answer, I take issue with BOSUN clue. A BOSUN (aka boatswain or boatswain's mate) is an occupational rating, not a rank. Boatswain's mate (BOSUN) is a job. Their rank might (or might not!) be that of a warrant officer. Contrarily, warrant officer is rank. Their job might (or might not!) be that of a boatswain's mate. An apple used as a clue for an orange?

A question that has plagued mankind over the ages (a real stretch using anagrams of all but the R letter in the “-“ answers and all of the revealer):


kitshef 4:36 PM  

No problem here with APOTHCARYSSSHOP, and possibly this is a regional thing but NOTPC was my first instinct - NOnPC sounds pretentious to my ear.

TOTIE/SNELL/UNADON was a bit much for a Thursday, but I'll allow it.

BETELS, on the other hand, bothered me.

My visualization for the theme was that the letters reading across were like a tire rolling along, and when it comes to the pothole it drops down, then bounces back up on the other side. Could have been made symmetrical if the top themers were potholes but the bottom ones were speed bumps, where the tire bounces up before continuing on. I wonder if there is a Senator Speed Bump out there?

Chuck McGregor 4:47 PM  

@Leapfiger (yesterday): "My laptop dooked [sic] it out with the Forces of Gravity..."

In the shop of a friend who is a computer technician, I'd continually see several rather large piles of laptops, all obviously kaput. One day I finally queried him as to the causes for them all to fail.

His immediate answer: "Gravity."

So, be careful with those $$ things, especially if you happen to be near some gravity... Why? Because all three of us (me, myself, and I) SAYSSO, EN BLOC :>)

paulfahn 7:18 PM  

Is no one else bothered by the grammatical mistake at 47D: GOTTA filling The Black Eyed Peas' "I ___ Feeling"? "Gotta" is casual form of "got to" and should be followed by a verb, as in "Later, dude, I've gotta run". It is NOT short for "got a", followed by a noun, as in "I've gotta feeling". The latter should be written "I've got a feeling" or, to be more casual, "I got a feeling". At least that's my opinion.

Oh well, I guess it's overly esoteric to discuss grammar points in slang within rock song titles clued as partials.... Just bothered me. Puzzles shouldn't validate errors by quoting them.

Mostly enjoyed this rather fresh-themed puzzle. Unadon's one of my favorite Japanese dishes, so puzzle solved easily.

Sorry for late comments. I solve in daytime on West Coast.

Anonymous 9:33 PM  

paulfan, I agree with your critique of GOTTA as a grammatical issue. But the clue for 47-D does put the word inside quotation marks and if the music label spelled it that way, the answer has to spell it that way."

Teedmn 10:16 PM  

UNADON, the one toed relative of the P(ter)anodon flying reptile.

Leapfinger 11:51 PM  

Sheesh, @Pete! At least you finally saw the light, which is more than I expect from the existing roster of bozos and bozettes

lynn 12:11 AM  


Waxy in Montreal 10:56 AM  

Would have been easier for me had SNELL been clued "Former New Zealand middle-distance runner" (Peter Snell) - maybe an age thing - but otherwise not too challenging for a Thursday. Thought at first the theme might be BLACK ICE which is certainly a road hazard, at least up here in the frozen north.


Burma Shave 11:51 AM  


ENBLOC LUST UNTO me no more.
“IMHOT, OCOME on this has GOTTA stop”,


rondo 12:28 PM  

I did notice the missing As were sitting on top of other As, but was totally oblivious to the CAR thing – duh.

It OCCURS to me that TOTIE might not be known to folks younger than I; never found her that funny anyway.

AMY TAN not exactly a yeah baby, unless someone else SAYSSO.

In the former USSR you still buy your meds at the АПТЕКА (APTEKA) shop, OTC or scrip. And they have some interesting concoctions in their showcases. I believe some folk medicine elixirs and such are available.

Where to buy a good guitar? At RY’SSHOP, of course; Cooder you know.

POTHOLES are no little thing here in MN, and it’s just about that season. Sometimes you think your CAR will fall into one.

No write-overs today so it couldn’t have been too difficult. GEE.

spacecraft 12:48 PM  

Medium-challenging for me. The double-natick at ?NIDO? was a pore guess. S_ELL yields SHELL, SMELL, SPELL and SWELL, but none of them have to do with fishing. I think. I don't fish. So I just picked a letter that diphthongs with S and shoved it in. Meanwhile, I also didn't know the Hobbes quote, so what from LAST LEST LIST LOST LUST? GEE, all five are words! LUST I guess makes the most sense. So I was doubly lucky there. Please don't ask me to sniff out UNIDON again. Even more urgently, please don't ask me to actually EAT the stuff.

Tough clues made the rest of it gettable after some cerebral exercise. I did get the POTHOLE in the middle of CAR, but didn't notice the A below in each case till coming here. A good holiday workout. Happy Thanksgiving to all syndilanders! B.

Longbeachlee 1:26 PM  

I did this puzzle in syndication land, and I knew I had done it before. I looked at my calendar to see where I might have been on 10/22 that had real time NY Times puzzles, and no clues there. I think I'm in a time warp. Anybody else on my personal time zone?

leftcoastTAM 3:27 PM  

Got the trick at DALEC_RNEGIE, with its gimme clue. The others were mostly filled in, so they became pretty obvious, but OSC_RNOD was the last to go.

I stared at the UNADON/SNELL cross before I let it be.

Fun puzzle, and not too taxing for T-day Thursday. I hope it's a good day for all.

Piers Lyman 4:44 AM  

Well, I believe that gas is one of the important part of cooking. Most of us uses gas to cook.

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