Roman emperor who overthrew Galba / THU 10-15-15 / Financial guru Suze / Orpheus Spartacus by birth / Follower of roger to radioer / Yuri's love in Dr Zhivago / Companion of Quasimodo

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Constructor: Kevin G. Der

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: spirals — theme answers are things that spiral, and also there is a chain of double-letter squares (the circled squares pictured above) that spirals clockwise from the NW into the center of the grid...

Theme answers:
  • SNAIL SHELL (18A: Home that's never left?)
  • YULE LOG (24A: Christmas edible?)
  • WHIRLPOOL (41A: Big name in appliances)
  • MILKY WAY (55A: Our place in the universe)
  • GUGGENHEIM (63A: Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, with "the")
Word of the Day: OTHO (2D: Roman emperor who overthrew Galba) —
Otho (/ˈθ/; Latin: Marcus Salvius Otho Caesar Augustus;[2][3] 28 April 32[4] – 16 April 69), was Roman Emperor for three months, from 15 January to 16 April 69. He was the second emperor of the Year of the Four Emperors. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was weird. Basically had two solving experiences, the first was a boring, easy puzzle that seemed themeless except for all this 2-letter square stuff. The second actually didn't involve solving. It involved looking at the grid and wondering what the 2-letter square pattern was all about. Then I noticed GUGGENHEIM and SNAIL SHELL, and I got it. *Then* I notice WHIRLPOOL. Then YULE LOG and MILKY WAY. That's a lot of theme material. So a two-tiered theme like this—very impressive. Solving it—very very easy, kind of plodding. The spiral effect doesn't quite come off because the circled (or shaded) squares a. don't really spiral, since they turn on right angles, and b. conflict visually with the black square pattern. So the grid just doesn't scream "spiral" at you. It barely whispers it. I've seen the shaded-square version at the NYT site. There, you've got white squares and gray squares and black squares and you have to really Want to see the spiral. Anyway, I'm impressed by the architecture, even if it wasn't a delight to solve.

Speaking of architecture, all I could think of after grasping the theme was Liz Gorski's masterful Guggenheim museum puzzle from 2009 (commemorating the museum's 50th birthday).

Here, the grid really evokes the museum's unique shape. Other constructors have used spiraling to interesting effect. Matt Jones had a puzzle called "I'm Getting Dizzy" with some great themers:

And Merl had an asymmetrial hurricane puzzle, I'm told, but I can't find it at the moment. Anyway, this particular version of spiraliness is a "New Idea," I guess. But both rebus squares and spirals have been done. This week should be named "Commissioned Thursday Puzzles" week; also "Why Aren't We This Innovative More Often?" week. Seriously, even having "New Ideas" week is a pretty serious indictment of your other 51 weeks. You're the "best puzzle in the world" (self-styled). You should have "New Ideas" all the time.

Not much to say about the solving experience besides the fact that it was easy, even though my time was much longer than usual because of all the extra keying I had to do to get the two letters into each square. How long did it take for me to pick up the double-letter gimmick? I'd say under 10 seconds. Here's where I got it:

It helped that the circled squares were, well, circled, and that HOED (1A: Did some gardening) was a gimme and that I then wanted HINT straight off (1D: Help for the flummoxed). From there it was just a matter of "What if 'IN' goes in that first circle." After that, it was a simple matter of writing answers in as soon as I read their clues, except in that tiny northern patch where PLINTH (6D: Bust supporter) crosses THRACIAN (22A: Orpheus and Spartacus by birth) and there's a "?" clue for SNAIL SHELL. Throw in all the circled squares involved up there, and I had a little bit of a struggle on my hands. But not much of one.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Steve J 12:04 AM  

Absolutely tedious. Completely joyless.

paulsfo 12:05 AM  

i stopped halfway through because, in Across Lite, it's just too painful to select Edit:Insert:MultipleLetters 50 times, given the payoff.

Whirred Whacks 12:07 AM  

Inspired by Will Shortz's "do something different week" and especially by Kevin Der's "Rebus-palooza," I've decided to make my own rebus puzzle -- or least the beginnings of one. With Rex's permission, I'll share some of the answers.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when Pol Pot was an answer, and there some discussion whether such a nefarious character should be used in a NYT puzzle? And then the next week, another such character was used and a similar discussion developed? My rebus puzzle answers were inspired by this person. See if you can solve it.

In each blank area, put in a rebus to solve the answer.


Have fun and enjoy your day!

Elaine2 12:09 AM  

I finished, and it wasn't too hard, but I did not get the spiral theme AT ALL, probably because I was too busy figuring out the double letters.

So, 50-50 for me. Would have liked it better if I'd gotten the spiral theme.

jae 12:10 AM  

Mostly easy for me too with FLAMed before FLAMBE as the only erasure.  I caught the rebus trick very quickly and most of the cluing was straight forward, hence mostly easy. The toughest part was north-central where @Rex THRACIAN/MEDICI/ANKARA/UNLINKED made for some slow going.

Impressive, liked it a bunch!

wreck 12:28 AM  

This was a real pain to solve on the ipad app. When you would highlight a clue, the shaded squares would disappear making it hard to suss. I agree it was easier when I gave up trying to highlight the clue, but it took me double the usual time. Great construction, but I should have solved on paper.

jp flanigan 12:31 AM  

I found this beyond difficult. As long as I've been solving puzzles, i've had an unnatural inability to "see" rebus grids. Don't know what it is, something between my eyes and my brain just doesn't connect. So for me, this was my worst nightmare (as far as crosswords go of course). I gave up half way through, breaking my solve streak at just over 100 days. Oh, well!

Pete 12:34 AM  

I'd like to think (hell, I lie to and about myself all the time) that I would have picked up on the spiral them had I bothered finish over 1/3 of the puzzle. I didn't, because I hated it so much. What's the point of putting 2 letters in all the circled squares, besides throwing off any rhythm I might achieve? I'll grant that it must have been a bear to create, i.e. you can't have your computer help you, but it does absolutely nothing for the solve.

Earlier today, reflecting on how not new and exciting this week of new and exciting was, I thought it was at least better than the last time Will did this - some years ago there was a similar week if I recall. I particularly remembered a pun puzzle that was widely, and wildly, excoriated. I thought this week, lame as it was, was at least bereft of a stunning swing and miss. I was wrong.

steveo 12:40 AM  

Took about 15 minutes of staring to get the double-letter trick, including putting in HOED, then SAW/SLAW and deleting them again. Almost went to bed with an empty grid; finally got the trick on GugGENHEIM. Still didn't trust it until several other crosses.

I also was slowed down by the extra entry time for the doubled letters, and THRACIAN, finally a typo (LETMm instead of LETME).

Didn't grok the theme at all, and I was so worn out by the end that I didn't care to look for one. So reading Rex's write-up was a bit of an extra aha moment.

This one pushed my Thursday average to slower than my Friday, after 218 puzzled solved on the NYT online applet. Tomorrow may rectify that, however.

JP 12:43 AM  

Tedious to fill out on the iphone. It took a long time to fill in all the rebuses (rebi?) I didn't get the spiral theme at all, though I loved the puzzle's overall look.

Evan Harrel 1:21 AM  

This was somewhat methodically slow, but it was also fun. I agree. Let's have "New ideas we want to try." Often.

John Child 1:36 AM  

Gray squares in the iPad app, and I immediately saw a spiral. I'm not sure how to judge the difficulty - it took me longer than many Saturday puzzles, but it only felt challenging in a couple isolated spots. The grid is highly segmented, and a few odd words like STATAL and HUMBUGGED bothered me, but all that is easily forgiven for The Mother Of All Rebus Puzzles. Great fun here.

Anoa Bob 1:46 AM  

On the NYT site, there are white squares, black squares (54!! of them; that has to be a record) and gray squares. And then all the squares for whatever across or down entry that is being solved at the moment turn blue. This makes it difficult to determine if the underlying squares were white or gray, and whether each square should be a single- or a double-letter square. And to top it off, the individual square where the cursor is at any given time is orange (or is that mustard). Talk about "flummoxed" (1D)!

I ran out of gas after the fourth or fifth row and threw in the towel. Too much moving the cursor to shift the blue color around to see again if the underlying squares were gray or white. Too much ctrl+insert+type+enter. I think this is my first ever DNF due to fatigue. I would not have seen the spiral part anyway because the grid black/white/gray pattern looked more like a maze of some kind. I thought the payoff/reveal would be in the center of the maze.

chefwen 2:14 AM  

That was so time consuming I didn't know if I should quit half way through or take a nap. I'm still on the fence deciding if I enjoyed it or not. By the time I put down my pen I was downright woozy.

I SHUDDER to think what may be in store for us for the rest of the week.

MDMA 3:13 AM  

Some kind of problem with the iPad app: after completing it, it said "Only the first solve of a puzzle counts toward your average". Obviously it was the first solve. It broke the streak, it's blue in the calendar instead of gold. The final square entered was the "NT" of NTEST, so maybe the app gets confused when you finish with a rebus square? It seemed to pause for a second before giving the victory chime, which is usually instantaneous.

The puzzle itself felt a bit plodding and joyless. Maybe it was the rebus gimmick slowing things down, maybe it was the fact that a puzzle like this needs fairly literal clues for the most part, so there weren't any aha moments. Only a couple of items clued with a question mark, and they were pretty straightforward.

Charles Flaster 5:04 AM  

Agreed entirely with Rex. The actual filling in was rather straightforward.
Caught the double letters at SUNS.
Liked cluing for SHINNY and GLIDERS.
Beating with DRYS coming after DTS.
No CrosswordEASE but SIDELINER=? Pour moi.
Thanks KGD

Music man 6:00 AM  

Weird i found this way more difficult than you did

Loren Muse Smith 6:22 AM  

Oh, wow. I almost finished and felt really pleased. I agree that the first part of the trick was readily apparent. I think I got it at ARF/FLAMBE. But I had "suet" for SPAM and couldn't finish that center north part. Shame on me for not getting MEDICI to clear that up. (I’m still not sure I know just what suet is, but it was always listed under the “Non-Food Items Not to Eat While Pregnant,” along with laundry starch, clay, and chalk dust. Glad flea-killer didn’t make the list.)

My only erasure was "shimmy" for SHINNY.

I never would have made the connection to the four themers and swirls even though I saw that the circles swirled in a pattern from the outside around to the center, and even with WHIRLPOOL there center stage. Obvious. I can see how a grid with shaded squares instead of circles would highlight the swirl more effectively. Whatever the case, I was impressed with the conceit and the construction.

A Martin 6:31 AM  

Is it "cute" puzzle week or something?
This was not only dnf but dns - at least unlike the blog enlightened me. Then as Rex says the fill was pretty easy but I was clueless how to start.
Looking forward to straight forward puzzles for the next couple of days, even though I tend to flag at the end of the week. I prefer harder clues to awkward (for me) grids.

Annette 6:59 AM  

I stopped halfway through because I no longer cared. Plus it was difficult to do on the NYT app, as the clue highlights made it impossible to see if a square was shaded or not. This likely works much better on paper but is still uninteresting.


doorslam 7:12 AM  

I'm glad it was a gimme for you. I spent ten minutes trying to figure out how to fill this in without placing a single letter. Kept trying to have answers follow the grey or white boxes. I never expected this many rebus squares til I came here for a clue as to what to do. To say I don't care for this puzzle is an understatement.

Bageleater 7:38 AM  

Well, I enjoyed it. Thanks, Rex, for revealing the spiral theme. Completely missed that. Funny how so many commenters "couldn't be bothered" to finish this puzzle.

furpurrson 8:02 AM  

I don't like rebus puzzles anyway, but this is just out of control - also very tedious on a mobile device.

mom 8:10 AM  

Cranky again, Rex? Come on: this was fun.

Kae 8:14 AM  

I had a similar experience to other commentators. I got the gimmick and I admired the ambition, but I have a cold at the moment and simply didn't have the energy/enthusiasm to enter that many rebuses into AcrossLite over my morning tea. It feels as if all of these new ideas are very unfriendly to the technology a lot of solvers use, which I guess makes sense since the software isn't designed to accommodate them, but which has made for a rather frustrating week so far.

Lewis 8:18 AM  

@WW -- Got it!

I was thinking that the rebus squares, in their spirally journey, would spell out some statement that would relate to the spiral, which would help the solve -- which would have been quite impressive. As it was, I tried to figure out the theme after I solved, thinking it wasn't just a puzzle with lots of rebus squares, then saw the WHIRLPOOL in the middle and thought "aha!". I didn't catch the other spiral theme answers, the ones that seemed so obvious to Rex, and I love that they are symmetrical in the grid. The puzzle played medium to me, and the only answer that made me wince was STATAL, so a very clean grid with lots of theme answers and rebus squares. Speed solving isn't important to me, so I took my time and savored the ride -- and enjoyed it.

AliasZ 8:18 AM  

Seventy-nine rebus squares! WOW! That means 158 extra keystrokes (Insert + Enter) in the online app, not counting for errors.

I was thinking, since the Shift key in on-line puzzle solving is useless anyway, it would've made more sense to design the app so that holding down Shift would allow you to enter as many characters in one square as required by the rebus. That I wouldn't even consider an extra keystroke because we are all used to holding the Shift key during normal typing, not impeding the speed at all. If I remember correctly, the original NYT Java applet did something similar. In that one you could also change the color of squares (rebus or not) with Shift+M to a light blue, if you wanted to highlight them after solving. But the "New and Improved" app (as advertised when it was rolled out at least two months too early) made it more complicated and clumsier to use. So much for progress.

The puzzle? It was great fun for me, except for the mechanical aspects of those 158 extra keystrokes. Loved the theme and its execution, and yes, all those rebi. "BESTRODE my friend, we'll get through this together" - I said to myself. And we did, somewhat longer than our average Thu time.

STATAL was fatal. But if "societal" is a word, why not STATAL?
Didn't you hate FITTO? Ditto.
LA LAW reminded of my favorite side dish: Ohm SLAW. Deeee-lish!
I wonder if F.Scott Fitzgerald was ever the prisoner of ZELDA.

There was a training seminar held at my company a few weeks ago for sound system installation and operation in houses of worship, but the system we installed for demonstration purposes was HUM-BUGGED. We finally figured out why it was humming: it didn't know the words.

Good Thursday, I can't wait to see what Will has in store for us for Fri-Sat.

chefbea 8:21 AM  

Hand up for not seeing the spiral theme. Just thought it was a very tedious Thursday rebus. I too gave up and came here. It was a feat of genius to come up with such a puzzle. Kudos to Keven

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

Too complicated for me, just gave up.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

A boring slog. Nothing else to say.

jberg 8:37 AM  

I solve in the paper, and saw the spiral right away -- but that made me look for a long quotation spiraling into the center of the grid, or something like that, so I never noticed that a) there were theme answers, and b) that those theme answers were spirals. That's a neat touch

Got the theme early on, with OTtO at 2d. Wrong, but it was all I needed. PLINTH helped, too -- nicely clued, and I had SPAM already, so it had to be right, as did ANKARA, so there was UNLINKED.

So, easy and with a lot of junk fill (STATAL?), but worth it for the gimmick, I thought.

@Loren, I've got a cake of suet in my freezer right now, ready to be put out for the birds. They think it's tasty.

joho 8:42 AM  

I think Kevin Der got sucked into the vortex of brilliant crossword construction in order to put this grid together ... his creation makes my head spin!

I didn't think the rebus squares were at all boring ... the more the merrier! And this was the most rebus merriment I've ever experienced.

I had trouble in the NE corner and even more in that top central north spot. I got SPAM but, even with ____CIAN in, the lack of PLINTH made THRACIAN impossible. Who knew you can suffer from a lack of PLINTH?

Thank you, @Rex, for explaining the theme. I'm usually so visual, but I didn't see the spiraling. I had a brief moment thinking a SNAILSHELL is a spiral, but my thought was UNLINKED to YULELOG, WHIRLPOOL, MILKYWAY and GUGGENHEIM. Loved WHIRLPOOL in the center!

Beautifully done, Mr. Der! A tour de force.

The weirdest thing, though, ever since I finished, these lyrics are swirling in my head:

Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again.

Generic Solver 8:46 AM  

If I had known about the "Activate Rebus Mode" hidden in the tool options for the onlne app, I might have actually bothered to try and solve this. When I realized the rebus thing early on and had no idea how to enter multiple letters, and given the sheer number of rebus squares, I instantly thought of how watching the lawn dry from the sprinkler overnight would be more fun.

Vincent Lima 8:47 AM  

I get Rex's point that you should have new ideas all the time, but If these are the new ideas, maybe not....

Jonathan Alexander 9:00 AM  

The iPad app made this much longer than it should have been. Got the theme pretty quickly with 1 down necessitating a 4ltr word (although I initially had HAND instead of hint. The over all theme was excellently layered but the inputting issues made it less enjoyable than it should have been

Dshawmaine 9:20 AM  

I too didn't see the second-theme answers as was too busy figuring out the rebus squares - but I liked this a lot. OTtOinstead of OTHO held me up, and Pro-AMS as a plural just sounded wrong. PLINTH was the last to go in, with a satisfied aahhh. Nice, penetrable, Thursday puzzle.

NCA President 9:21 AM  

@Anoa Bob: I agree that solving on the NYT applet was annoying. I had to move the cursor out of the way to see if I was dealing with a white or gray square. That took a while.

@paulsfo: I believe if you hit the ESC key it is a shortcut to creating a rebus entry.

I liked the puzzle. I didn't like PLINTH, THRACIAN, or really that whole upper midwest section. I didn't get the second part of the puzzle...the spiral part. I'm an art rube and so knowing that the GUGENHEIM was FLR was my big triumph...knowing that it spiraled, not so much. And WHIRLPOOL, as clued, obscured its spiral nature. So that part of the solution was lost on me.

I thought you burned YULELOGs? Or am I thinking of fruitcake?

Carola 9:23 AM  

Loved it. Solving in the newspaper, I saw the spiral after I had the SNAILSHELL and GUGGENHEIM in place. At that point, I interpreted the double letters as indicating the two overlapping spirals and thought that was delighful. But then later on came the MILKYWAY and WHIRLPOOL (I missed seeing the YULE LOG as theme-related) maybe "double helix"?

I had some trouble establishing the rebus pattern, as I first wanted help for the flummoxed to be a Hotline and the bust to be on a Pedestal. @Loren, I also started out SHImmYing.

I thought this was a marvel of construction, getting all of those double letters to fit: THRACIANS, ESMERALDA, HUMBUGGED..., and great fun to puzzle out.

William Palmer 9:27 AM  

I can't imagine a more boring, tedious and contrived puzzle than this. But it's only Thursday. Feh.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

I didn't even notice the theme of spiral objects. I just thought the spirals were a neat way of dividing the rebus/non-rebus squares. That said, having a lot of rebus material was FUN! A great puzzle.

Gerry W.

John V 9:30 AM  

So, in the music world, do we call this and Etude?

Rebus was obvious, tedious, pointless, IMHO.

Steve J 9:39 AM  

@MDMA: I got that same error a few days back. It was on a Friday or Saturday puzzle, so it's not a rebus issue. Just a garden-variety bug.

And it seems to self-correct. The next day, my streak was intact and the calendar showed the puzzle as gold rather than blue.

Tita 9:39 AM  

Once I realized that yes, in fact, there is gonna be a rebus in Every Single One of those gray squares, I told myself to print the puzzle and solve on paper. But I didn't. So it was a slog.

I kept thinking there has to be more than just a bigger puzzle jammed into the confines of a little one.
Maybe a hermit crab had moved into that SNAILSHELL, but refused to leave home when he outgrew it?

I did notice a spiral, but no matter how much I stared, I didn't notice the spirally words.
That isn't interesting enough to salvage it for me.
I felt that this was way out of balance - probably an amazingly difficult puzzle to construct, but a pain to solve, with very small reward.

Glancing at the finished grid, looks like our own WHIRred WHACKS is sucked up in the vortex at the center.

My mom always makes the YULELOG, using Julia Child's recipe. My specialty are the meringue mushrooms.

Sorry, Mr. Der. Not my cup of tea, even had I solved on paper.

GeezerJackYale48 9:45 AM  

For some reason, all the squares in my downloaded printout are either white or the same shade of gray - no contrasts, no "circled squares", to which Rex refers, to let me know that there are any sort of borders or separations. Needless to say, I struggled, and still don't understand why my download came out this way. Ah, maybe it was the use of the Ink Saver? Guess I need to go back and check.

Michael Collins 9:55 AM  

Joyless slog.

GILL I. 9:58 AM  

I liked it! Maybe if I had to go someplace important, I might have just put this down and walked away.
Impressive construction, don't you think? Easy enough to see what I had to do, I mean WILCO practically gave it away, no?
Loved seeing Goya's THE DOG. I love that painting (it's in the Prado I believe)...I remember my art professor opening up to debate whether the dog was drowning or just peeking up looking at birds. I was of the latter impression.
Good job Kevin Der although you had me shaking my head for quite some time at the Orpheus/Spartacus intersection. Was I the only one who put in MUSICIAN? Of course I was, no one is a musician by birth.
Gotta go download BEQ for my Thursday head scratcher...
P.S. Didn't see no spiral [sigh]

Lobster11 9:58 AM  

Enjoyed it for awhile, but it eventually became a slog. DNF because of OTHO and STATAL crossing TOSCA, and PLINTH crossing THRACIAN. Not fair.

The spiral theme was completely lost on me. I solve on paper, and still cannot see a spiral without tracing it with my finger.

Laurence Katz 9:59 AM  

Never noticed the spiral theme until I read Rex. Rough sledding in the northwest because of "statal," a new word to me (and "skosh" didn't come easy either). Fun puzzle. Not as innovative as I was expecting on Thursday, but I probably would have appreciated it more if I had caught the spiral thing.

Paul Johnson 10:11 AM  

@paulsfo ESC will open up the square and allow you to enter letters and characters (but not all).

On another note I hate it when answers defy my Mac Dictionary. Never heard of LEE TIDE. LE was my last fill. I only got it because of the very awkward ALES. Sure there are many types of ales. But you'd only put one kind in in a given flagon. And I had to cheat. I would have never come up with THRACIAN on my own - and the built in spell checker on this webpage just flagged it. So I'm not alone.

Odd too that I wasn't entirely confident of all the doublets until I spotted GugGENHEIM.

Paul Johnson 10:11 AM  

@paulsfo ESC will open up the square and allow you to enter letters and characters (but not all).

On another note I hate it when answers defy my Mac Dictionary. Never heard of LEE TIDE. LE was my last fill. I only got it because of the very awkward ALES. Sure there are many types of ales. But you'd only put one kind in in a given flagon. And I had to cheat. I would have never come up with THRACIAN on my own - and the built in spell checker on this webpage just flagged it. So I'm not alone.

Odd too that I wasn't entirely confident of all the doublets until I spotted GugGENHEIM.

Z 10:18 AM  

Schadenfreude Delight.

When I saw that this was going to be a "new idea" week I immediately decided to solve them all in the paper for the simple reason that I didn't want my solving tools to wreck my solving pleasure. After perusing the 35 comments so far, 42 of which complain about an app, I am patting myself on the back. YAY me.

HOED EELS clued me in, so 15 seconds to suss out the rebus conceit. However, HOED EELS made me fear the compromises might ruin the puzzle. Of course, this being "new ideas week," I'm wondering if Chefs Bea and Wen have a HOED EELS YULELOG recipe. Um, yummy. Maybe with a nicely crisped side of SPAM. My mouth is watering.

I do have a technical DNF since I didn't suss out the deeper theme. I looked at the spiral and noted that it didn't spell out any phrase and looked no farther. Dang. The spiral theme answers, with WHIRLPOOL in the middle, Nice.

Otherwise a fairly straightforward solve. I tripped myself up by not reading the clue closely and putting in TOKYO japan where TOKYO GAMES belongs. Spanish title ending in OJ seemed plausible, so it wasn't until URAL made SLAW appear that I noticed my lack of critical reading skills.

I admire the construction more than I enjoyed the solve, but I enjoyed the solve. Good puzzle.

One major MAJOR point of disagreement with Rex, "You should have "New Ideas" all the time." Uh, yeah, that's not how it works. That's a whole other discussion for elsewhere, but wanting "new ideas all the time" is going to leave one wanting all the time.

old timer 10:41 AM  

This is a puzzle I should have printed out in some enlarged form, on copy paper rather than newsprint, because I cannot write small enough to produce legible answers when so many squares require double letters. Ended up being unsure about the NW (because OTHO) so solved it bottom to top and after about a half-hour, I found myself finally solving at a reasonable pace.

As a result I hated it at first and then as I picked up speed, came to admire the puzzle quite a bit. Spent way too much time afterward looking up OTHO and the Year of the Four Emperors on Wikipedia.

Arlene 10:47 AM  

I solve on paper, so I had no problem with the rebus squares - got it at FLAMBÉ. I enjoyed the solve - I guess a simple pen will alter your experience. Didn't notice the spiral theme - was just happy to finish. In an ideal world, there should have been a meta question to respond to - like the WSJ Friday contest puzzles. A really beautiful puzzle!

Mohair Sam 10:50 AM  

We print the puzzle from AcrossLite every day so we missed the gray spiral thing and hence the theme - for us it was a 15x15 with lots of double letter circles - and we enjoyed it.

Got the rebus right off with HOED/EELS and SPAM/SUNS/MEDICI and ran through it fairly quickly. Hangups with STATAL and SKOSH being so close because both words new to us. And Mrs. Mohair will be laughing until January because I never knew a YULELOG was an edible thing, I thought it was a scented log for your fireplace.

@LMS gave us a chuckle with her lunch-ruining Suet thought, SPAM ain't bad enough?

DEACONESS - Wasn't aware that titles amoungst the clergy specified sex except in the case of nuns, thought a Reverend was a Reverend and so on. Live and learn.

I see here that we liked this one more than most. Things aren't perfect, but we're enjoying Will's week of different ideas - looking forward to the weekend.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:50 AM  

Whip me with a Slinky -- I never noticed the theme answers with helical attributes.

Finished the grid cleanly, no write-overs, but as I solved my feeling was "Ho-hum." Two letters in a square, not much of a rebus, even if there are a lot of them and they are in a pattern, the meaning of which I missed.

Being shown the second layer of the theme increases my respect for the puzzle, but, sadly, doesn't increase my enjoyment.

Wednesday's Child 11:07 AM  

I agree with @kae, I admired the ambition of KGD. But, as others noted, it was tedious.

I printed it off with ink-saving gray squares and was faced with two shades of gray (not as seductive as 50) only a tone apart. Had to shade in the darker ones to get started.

Got the rebus right away. A slog.

Caryl Baron 11:10 AM  

I will rejoice when the NYT figures out how to design these multiple entry puzzles in a way that they can be done online. This one was totally frustrating and infuriating—not because of the puzzle itself, but because of the NYT's technical incompetence.

Joseph Michael 11:23 AM  

Well, gee, I got to the end of it, but this was damn hard. Quite a feat of construction.

Did not see the spiral theme until I came here. But what does spiraling have to do with two letters in a square?

Nancy 11:23 AM  

Anyone else think this required patience up the wazoo? (Actually, I've skimmed the comments so far and I see many of you do.) This falls into the "be careful what you wish for" category: it's sort of all rebus, all the time. Too much, maybe? Certainly a tedious solving experience. But not terribly hard, once you figure out that:

1) There are exactly 2 letters in every rebus box
2) All the gray squares are rebus squares and all the white squares aren't.

Much of my initial time was spent figuring this out. After that, I plodded forward dutifully, completely ON TA SK. I needed SKOSH to be a word to make this all work. I typed it hopefully into Google and, poof, there it was -- meaning exactly what I needed it to mean.

Had CO LL AR ST ud before CO LL AR ST AY, but MILKY WAY straightened me out. Wanted something or other with EARTH for that answer; could not think of MILKY WAY until it came in. And if I would only stop spelling TOKYO with an E! (This is not the first time I've done that.)

Enjoyable, I guess, in a masochistic sort of way. But almost too much of a good thing.

Gregory Schmidt 11:28 AM  

@Paulsfo - There's a keyboard shortcut in Across Lite to enter multiple letters. Select the square and hit the Escape key. Shift-Escape gives you symbol entry.

Nancy 11:33 AM  

Just read all the comments about the "spiral theme" and I'm thinking: NOW what have I completely missed? But since the vast majority of the rebus answers have nothing whatsoever to do with a spiral, while only a few do, I'm not sure why it's a "theme" at all. Nor, of course, do you need to think about spirals to solve.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 11:37 AM  

Just for the record, it was tedious to solve on paper. When I had to write two letters into a darkened square, I couldn't read it afterwards so for help with the crosses I had to keep looking back to the clues to see what it was I wrote. Maybe they should have made the NON-doubled squares shaded -- that would also have been a spiral.

Tyler James Young 11:39 AM  

Knowing that crosses have two letters in common makes things pretty easy on its own, so solving sped up for me after figuring out that each shaded square held a pair. Add to that the Monday-level cluing and there wasn't much to ponder. I really enjoyed this installment of “new ways to punish non-paper solvers” or whatever the theme is, and I think if it were more difficult it would be one of my favorite puzzles of all time.

Chuck McGregor 11:54 AM  

9:00 AM

My first post here, although I've been reading this blog on/off for several years until recently. As to that, I've been doing the puzzles every day for the better part of this past year and then reading this blog.

Some of today’s comments were a bridge too far not to comment. My comment is that my comment about many of the comments for this puzzle (so far as I pen this) is the comment: “technology run amok.” (Parse that sentence!)

@Anette 6:31 said, "This likely works much better on paper." Well, yay-uh!

Crossword puzzles originated as pencil and paper games. Software programmers have their work cut out for them to electronically emulate what constructors evasion can be done with pencil (or my choice: pen) and paper.

So, to complain about not being able to solve or have your solving experience degraded because of problems with a computer app or device you are using I think is somewhat gratuitous. This puzzle is a good example of prima facie evidence that the current trend of relying so heavily on electronics to do one’s bidding most certainly has limitations. Other puzzles have evidenced similar limitations.

So, if you DNF'd because of your device and/or app, that is on you. Complain about yourself (as @Anette correctly noted) for not printing it out, seeing it as the constructor (be it woman OR MAN) likely intended, and thus actually being able to DO the d**n thing! Then you can complain about the software or hardware engineer’s chops. But, you can’t really complain about the puzzle being hard to do because of the software or hardware. It was your choice to use less than the optimum tool for the game.

Seem to me this is like bringing a baseball bat to a golf game then complaining that it’s too hard to play golf with it or even quit the game because it is.

There's a reason that software, like AutoCAD and Adobe and Illustrator that emulate doing things with....well THINGS (in particular pencil/pen and paper)...are so expensive. Expecting one’s $10 app (or whatever puzzle apps cost) to do similarly with crossword puzzles is, I think, a bridge too far.

For what it's worth (eschewing FWIW as I don’t do text-eze) among my favorites reads amongst the regular throng here are @LMS and @RooMonster. Why? Because they always seem to be having fun in their respective, mischievous ways, regardless of a puzzle’s vagaries. In my humble opinion, FUN is what games, like crosswords, should be all about - good, bad, or indifferent.

[I miss @ Lewis’s Factoids & Quotoids, so in his stead this one time:

The term "coleSLAW" arose in the 18th century as an anglicisation of the Dutch term "koolsla" ("kool" in Dutch sounds somewhat like "cole") or "koolsalade" meaning "cabbage salad". (Wiki)

“He is the richest who is content with THE LEAST.” (Socrates)]

The comments indicate that the richest solving experience METHOD for this puzzle could have been found IN THE LEAST of tools: pencil/pen and paper.

LET ME now crawl back into my (ARM)hole….

Roo Monster 11:55 AM  

Hey All !
Wow. That pretty much sums this puz up. Still working on it, just wanted to get my Wow out. Incredibly difficult to construct. Hats off to KGD.


Anonymous 12:00 PM  

I hate gimmicky puzzles in general, but I liked this one--even though it took me a long time to solve.

I didn't check to see if any of the digraphs repeated.

Hartley70 12:03 PM  

This was the March to Bataan for me! Do I whine for a rebus on a regular basis? Yes! Will I stop whining? Probably for quite a while! I am totally rebussed out.

It's a good thing I have absolutely nothing to do today because for reasons enumerated above it took forever to complete this on the iphone...longer than any Sunday I can remember. About halfway through I was mentally screaming "Make it stop!", but of course it was a rebus extravaganza so I couldn't. I had the same problem with a giant bag of m&m's last night while American Horror Story was on.

So thanks Mr. Der for making my rebus dreams come true. It's the morning after Halloween and I'm surrounded by empty candy wrappers with a chocolate covered face.

Leapfinger 12:07 PM  

Looked at the circle-infested grid and thought 'Labyrinth? SNAILSHELL?' Pure luck there, but since it gave me my first fill and the theme trick, I'll take it. When I got the symmetrical GUGGENHEIM, I almost fell over with admiration; till then, concentrating on rebus circles had blocked out noticing the other themers. Seeing them all together, I think the spiral gyri have a certain naughty luster. And the YULELOG is delicious, too.

Of course, all those rebi made for a sloggish solve. On my chromebook, it's [search dot, LETTER LETTER enter], so 4 extra strokes per box, which totals roughly 320 more strokes to finish. That definitely made this something of an OCD special. I'll admit freely to that, but still wonder if that inverted cross in the grid wasn't a warning.

Slower solving made for few errors, but admit to smIRLPOOL/smACK and to being baMBoozlED before I was HUMBUGGED. I was sorry to lose that one.

@Alias, loved the Prisoner of ZELDA, and hope your friend didn't mind being BESTRODE.

Enjoyed the novelty and the fine fill like PLINTH and THRACIAN. TO TERM a coin, I'd be happy to see more of such Derision.

inverted cross

SpeedoBoyNY 12:09 PM  

Doing this on paper was a joyful experience. Figuring out the "two box" gimmick took me a little while. Got it on "Guggenheim" crossing with "Egos". After that it was like a regular Thursday, albeit easier than a usual Thursday for me.

Thus far I've enjoyed this week (didn't care for Wednesday, seemed like it was a usual puzzle with no flair).

Cassieopia 12:19 PM  

Liked it. Got the spirals right away. Was hoping for a long quote using the spiral (top letters in, bottom letters out) but that would have been truly genius. Got stuck on MILKYWAY - kept wanting to fit "highway" in there somewhere, thanks to Douglas Adams. Our place in the universe? Just another impediment to constructing an intergalactic highway...

nick 12:19 PM  

Liked this one a lot. I solve on paper so had none of the techno-tedium others are mentioning. Never did get the spiral theme, and got stumped by 'lee tide'. But there was very little junk in an impressive feat of architecture so, very happy. Thanks, Kevin.

Benko 12:29 PM  

I think this is one of those puzzles which was designed without thinking of the headache it would be for electronic solvers. This is much better to do on paper. I recommend printing it out.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

I thought the theme was "Hey, all you people who are always whining for a Thursday rebus puzzle? I'll give you a f'n Thursday rebus puzzle."

I solve on paper (Pilot G-2 07), so I'm not feelin' it for you electronic solvers.

quilter1 12:33 PM  

So glad I solve on paper. I can't imagine trying to do it on a small screen. I caught on to the rebus fairly fast, but, as always, never saw the spirals. I appreciated the layers once I put it all together.

Masked and Anonymous 1:11 PM  

Gray areas! Grayest of the gray for M&A =

Who needs Nat-tick? Long live the Thracian Plinth! (a.k.a. rebus nat-tick). har

Weird Week finds Kevin Der, who always wished he could sell a puz to the NYT that had 54 black squares and 84 words. This kind of leniency in crossword specs renews M&A's hope, that a runtpuz might someday be accepted for publication in the Big Show. In fact, I am now so confident, I'm just agonna hold my breath now, until it happens ...

Returnin from digressionville -- This ThursPuz was actually a pretty easy solve. (I did the pencil and crayon version, as always, btw.) The Thracian Plinth death spiral was avoided, by me hollerin into the kitchen for a PuzEatinSpousal assist: she immediately knew PLINTH, from its clue and the PLIN?? start. Figured out the Weird Week Puz gray area gimmick pretty early on, up in the NW statal region. [Note: Auto-correct prefers stRatal. This may not be a good sign, on the desperado-meter.] Did not figure out the spiral gimmick aspect, until I got to the Guggenheim. Filling in the two letters in each gray box wasn't much of a chore, what with my craftsmanly-like sharpened crayon. Just important not to select a gray crayon, today.

ESMERALDA drove me nuts, and I pretty much had to reconstruct her in my memory from lotsa crossin answers. Wanted Desdemona. Then Esperanto. Then ...

[wheeze. wheeze. wheeze.]
Rat fudge. [wheeze] I used to be able to hold my breath a whole lot longer, when I was in 8th grade.

fave weeject: O IN K. As in: "Y'all come over for BBQ real soon, down at my Bar O in K Ranch, dude!"




AZPETE 1:15 PM  

Really, a spiral? Think u all must be smoking something!

Masked and Anonymous 1:29 PM  

For those comment gallery folks who totally rely on the daily U-count recap, to get em past all the CNN medical ads, here it is, but it's kinda weird…

4 rebus square U's: UN, YU, HU, and UG.
1 regular occurrence of the lil darlins. (At URAL GAUZES.)

Oh, and while I'm back here, thanx very much, Mr. Der, for a (cumulatively) different and fun-ky puz. fave rebus squares: the ones that were yer various Atomic Symbols. May have inspired a runtpuz idea, there. (Hope U can live with that.)



North Beach 1:32 PM  

@MDMA This happened to me too. Bummer.

Teedmn 1:53 PM  

No spiral galaxy aha for me today but the rebus was fun. It's surprising to me how much longer it takes to see the answers just because they are accordioned into fewer squares.

Never knew a LEE TIDE was trouble for small boats so 15A was my last entry. I took TA SK out of 20A and later re-entered it, because ST A TA L looked wrong and SK O SH is only in my vocabulary from crosswords. SH I mm Y before SHINNY.

This was fun - it certainly sated my rebus craving. Nice job, Mr. Der.

RAD2626 2:07 PM  

Figured gray boxes might be rebuses (rebi?) so did the puzzle on paper rather than slog through it on line. Very clever construction albeit use of lots of common pairs and y enders to make it work. Very little lousy fill given the number of letters involved. Favorite word was ESMERALDA. Would not have gotten spiral theme in an EON.

Norm 2:16 PM  

I liked Tuesday's letter rebus a lot more than this one.

Warren Howie Hughes 2:18 PM  

We Rebus Haters of the World, Unite! Rebus remember this, as being the most sledge-hammering assault on our senses, since the dawning of solving Xwords on line of the NYT's! Yes! You got my not so subtle implication correct,I utterly abHOED it!

Nick Danger 2:46 PM  

Ambitious and impressive construction. I am not a fan of rebus puzzles so this ended up being a joyless slog to solve.

bwalker 2:50 PM  

For someone who has trouble on rebus Thursdays, I managed to get all the way through it, though in Sunday time. Whew! Like others, I had trouble seeing where a space was shaded, but got them by reading the clue, then going to the next clue to remove the app's highlight on the grid. My brain is swimming like it has been caught in a WHIRLPOOL as big as the MILKY WAY. It feels like I should have finished AGES AGO, but I don't mind the challenge IN THE LEAST.

I enjoyed THRACIAN, COLLAR STAY, and YUCCA PLANT. Also liked FLAMBÉ and MAIN DISH, just not so close to THE DOG.

GILL I. 2:53 PM  

@Chuck McGregor:
Good post!
You had me chuckling....and that's a good thing.

Warren Howie Hughes 3:01 PM  

The wifey and I tossed in the towel very early on, as well! If we never see a week like this again, it'll be too soon! Thank you very much!

Anonymous 3:07 PM  

"Why Aren't We This Innovative More Often?" week. Seriously, even having "New Ideas" week is a pretty serious indictment of your other 51 weeks. You're the "best puzzle in the world" (self-styled). You should have "New Ideas" all the time.

Couldn't agree more. I had a lot of fun this week with each puzzle, and the experience just highlights how much less fun the "regular" puzzles are.

Pete s 3:23 PM  

If you do the syndicated puzzle you'll have to do this on Thanksgiving Have a nice holiday

Pete s 3:25 PM  

If you do the syndicated puzzle you'll have to do this on Thanksgiving. Have a nice holiday

Jayke 3:26 PM  

I was okay with this, sort of an easyish Thursday for me until I got jammed up because I didn't know PLINTH. I didn't think about the theme at all until I saw Rex's mention of things that spiral. That's when I had my "Aha, the theme is Double Helix" moment. And now I like this puzzle quite a bit.

Clyde Aniano 4:00 PM  

Skosh? Have never encountered this word before.

Bronxdoc 4:03 PM  

I solve on paper. It helped enormously that the double letter squares were grey. Who couldn't admire a puzzle with the answer Not sure I've ever heard anyone say ''statal', but who couldn't live a puzzle with the answer 'Guggenheim'. Made my day.

Anonymous 4:21 PM  

using Crosswords by Two Across in the windows store - seems like there's a bug in the rebus squares when you try to backspace. but at least you can just press the shift key to get to rebus mode instead of the klunky menus others are reporting.

Roo Monster 4:24 PM  

@Chuck McGregor 11:54,
Thanks for the kudos! I just write 'em like I feel 'em! For me personally, M&A gets my vote for awesome-ness-ity. Would love to see a scam of his brain!

I also agree with Chuck McG on the Solving Online Conundrum thingamajig. This puzzle is so mind boggling hard to construct, having an online trouble/problem with solving it shouldn't have made you think less of this puz. I saw the shaded squares, said, "Hey, it's a spiral to the center of the puz. Neat."
But I also missed (post solve) that it actually had symmetric spiral-y theme answers. Wow! To come up with not only Rebus squares in a spiral (80 of them! 80!), but also put in themers (symmetrical even!) is having my head explode like on those commercials for that shopping thing. POOF!

Mad respect for Kevin (Great puz-maker) Der.


the redanman 4:48 PM  

some awkwardness is there in the Northeast. Agree with tedious. an awfully long run for a short hop

the redanman 4:48 PM  

Northwest, duh

Numinous 5:12 PM  

Hahahae (as Roman playwright Publius Terentius would have it). Y'all been punk'd. After constant whining about the lack of rebus puzzles on Thursdays . . . . Score one for Will.
Why Roman laughter? Because of Glaba, OTHO, Vitellius and Vespasian, the four of the Year of Four Emperors of course.
Interesting side note: While animal noises are rendered differently in various languages, eg oink oink for a pig in English, there is röf röf or uí uí in Hungarian and soch soch in Welsh, almost every language on earth includes a variation of ha ha, hee hee or tee hee.
I got through this but it took a long time. I guess it was worth it. It was, at least, a surprise.

Anonymous 5:22 PM  

I appreciate the puzzle but Jesus what a pain in the ass to solve. And that TH in PLINTH and THRACIAN was making me pull my hair out.

mac 5:40 PM  

I finished this thing after looking it over and getting the trick at Zelda, but the spiral went right by me....

Now I'm really worried about Friday and Saturday, and the likelihood that one of them will be done by
Patrick Blindauer. He is a master at constructing outside the box, as I've learned the hard way several times.....

August West 5:53 PM  


North Beach 5:58 PM  

Per @SteveJ for @MDMA & moi: Already resolved, as you said! Paltry streak intact. Ahhhh.

Norm 6:36 PM  

@Clyde Aniano :

Skosk = "a little bit," Korean War armed forces slang, from Japanese sukoshi "few, little, some." That's according to and rings true, since the Colonel used it all the time. Definitely Marine Corps usage.

Annette 6:55 PM  

@Chuck McGregor the NYT app I use is the program sold by the NYT at a hefty $40/year, which I do not consider cheap. In the the NYT puzzle is what draws many to the publication itself, I would think its own app would simply work better. For this particular NYT puzzle, the NYT app was clearly a fail.

I did not print out the puzzle by choice; one cannot do so from the app.

And the hardship with technology was not the only reason I DNF halfway through it; as I said, I no longer cared. I found it a colossal bore.


Nancy 7:43 PM  

@Chuck MacGregor (11:54) -- Welcome to the blog, and amen to your anti-tech rant. Amen to you too, @Z. Loved both your posts. Like you,I remain GOBSMACKED by the hordes of people who remain so wedded to their digital toys, even when they know their toys are completely dysfunctional and when they are clearly suffering. While I may not understand why rebuses are harder to solve on a gadget, it's clear that attempting to use them is a total misery for everyone. SO WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO MAKE YOURSELVES MISERABLE? Just asking, people.

Anonymous 11:10 PM  

One more dull, inane puzzle in a week of dull, inane puzzles. The concept of the invitation to the contributors was intriguing, but the puzzles didn't live up to expectations. All they elicited was a so what? response, big whoop, who cares. I expected innovation, originality, and found nothing but a dreary slog, day by day. Whatevah....

Hartley70 11:59 PM  

Because it feels so good when we stop. And because these tech gadgets are so convenient and let us suffer wherever and whenever we like.

paulsfo 12:12 AM  

@Gregory Schmidt, @Paul Johnson, @NCA President : You're right! Thanks. Hitting Escape is much faster. I actually looked for a keyboard shortcut in the usual place (i.e., next to the item's name on the menu) but this particular shortcut isn't listed. :/
thanks again.
Given that, i probably would have actually finished. However, it still just very boring.

@Chuck MacGregor: welcome to the blog though I must note that, for someone who likes happy blog posters, you personally did an awful lot of ranting. :P

Unknown 8:23 AM  

Me too.

Chuck McGregor 8:48 AM  

@ Annette (sorry for your name misspell in my post!)

I use the YT online and have their app on my iPod, but almost always use them just to print the puzzle. Apart from potential techno-hiccups, I just like the experience of hand-writing in the answers :>)

Besides I would be doing them on my laptop, but right now the "n" and "b" keys do not work. Doing a lot of copy/pasting of those letters to write this. This doesn't work in the YT app.

Thanks for the additional info.

Chuck McGregor 9:00 AM  


Yeah I did :>) I'll try to do better!

@ Annette

Sorry for misspelling your name. I access the puzzles via the Times online to print it. You are right that for this puzzle their software rated a fail. It actually would be a relatively easy fix to use a different color when a grey square (or some other variation from single letter white) is selected.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  


spacecraft 11:29 AM  

Aw, poor online solvers! Today is the day when the old-fashioned scores bigtime! Remember NEWSPAPERS? Remember (SHUDDER!) PENCILS?? Hah! Gotcha! I'm lovin' it!

I must say, though, that the spiral theme never dawned on me. I thought it was tough enough to put anything together with this many doubled letters--but to carry a theme yet: wow!

A few objections: SKOSH (red-lined by my spellcheck) is one of those words I hear often but don't see in print--outside of guess-where. In my mind's eye I always imagined it spelled SCOCHE; don't know why. Perhaps I was Frenchifying it. BESTRODE is another weirdo, and it crosses ROOKS, which I would never associate with flim-flam. A ROOK is one of two things: a bird or a chess piece. That was a natick of sorts, but it passed.

STATAL, however, is a flaggable offense. Yes, a real word...just not in real life! I put you ONTASK to find an instance when that word was actually used--in speech OR print. I'll be generous and give you a month.

Despite these, I finished the thing. As many have said, it wasn't that "hard," as solving goes. Luckily my antique solving METHOD spared me from the tedium of all those keystrokes. I'm much more impressed by what it must have taken to build this "masterpiece" than by its solving enjoyability. 13-down docks a full letter from the grade, so I'll call it B-.

Burma Shave 12:06 PM  


AGESAGO and this METHOD she planned,
“I’m ONTASK and FITTO fulfill your wish,
So don’t SHUDDER, LETME take you INHAND.”


rondo 12:28 PM  

Poor, poor device-meisters – can’t solve a puz on their toys so they throw in the towel. And I agree with most of what @spacey said (although I use a pen). Even I, who hates to cram multi-letters into the squares, had some fun with this. Maybe a bit tedious, but at least you knew where the letters doubled up. Only write-over was SHImmY, for some dumb reason, shaking instead of climbing.

I’ve heard of the flimflam ROOK. As kids we might say “He ROOKed (cheated)me out of that baseball card.” Or some such.

Can’t see ZELDA without thinking of Dobie Gillis. Not a yeah baby, but certainly eager and willing.

I’ve been to the GUGGENHEIM. Genius at work there and in the design.

Didn’t really notice the spiral going on to the WHIRPOOL in the middle, so that was lost on me. This did consume some time and I’d say some of it was a bit above average difficulty.

Jaime Gunderson 12:42 PM  

Actually you're off by a week but thank you!! ;)

rain forest 2:28 PM  

Well, this puzzle definitely continued the week-long theme of "different puzzles".

I'm torn between admiration for the construction (I just can't imagine how difficult this must have been to put together), and the impossibility, for me, of 'seeing' the theme. Spiral schpiral, I say. I couldn't identify which answers might be themers, nor could I see a spiral, try as I might. Whatever, I was able to finish by dogged determination, despite so many instances where I was putting two letters in white squares and only one letter in grey squares. Frustrating , as well as messy, since I solve in pen.

I was able to see what was up right off the bat with HOED, HINT, and TOSCA, but that certainly didn't lead to a quick solve, a solve which was held up for a while with STATAL(??) and DEACONESS. Agree with someone up there that there is no 'ministress', 'padress', or 'reverendess', so why DEACONESS? Okay, maybe there is a priestess, possibly, perhaps.

Regardless, it was fun, in an uncertain way, to tackle this impressive feat. Now I'm wondering what tomorrow and Saturday will bring.

Longbeachlee 2:32 PM  

No grey squares on the printout. I just checked the actual puzzle, and yes, grey squares. Done in by the printer. How do I get the time back?

leftcoastTAM 3:25 PM  

Yes, it was fairly easy after getting the trick, thanks to ZELDA and ESMERALDA coming across one another.

Then it was mostly a matter of filling in all the letters, with one exception: it took most time to fill in the ONTASK/SKOSH crossing.

I've never, never heard of the latter term, but it was the only one that would fit!

So I'm glad to finish, but it was something of a slog.

Anonymous 4:28 PM  

No living English speaker has ever said "STATAL." I declare shenanigans.

SharonAK 7:38 PM  

@Alias Z 8:18 am Don't know if you'll ever see this - 5 weeks later- but the 2nd half of your comments had me literally LOL. Wanted to tell you I enjoyed it.

D_Johnson 10:37 PM  

After struggling a while, I finally got the southeast corner, and guessed what the pattern would be: single letters in white spaces, double in shaded. But guess what, I had absolutely no interest in continuing. How about getting back to true crosswords.

5wkslater 11:20 PM  

A drag to solve, etc., etc., but when it comes to the spat over technology and the right tool for puzzle solving, count me in. During the Space Race, NASA reportedly spent a fortune developing a pen that would work in zero gravity. The Russians? They used a pencil.

Longbeachlee 7:16 PM  

May I help? In the future if something like this comes along, you do not have to write anything in the blanks. If the Wizard of On-line-solution will not give you a Gold Star, I will.

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