Golfer Bob his golfing son Kevin / TUE 11-3-15 / Frequent enemy in comics set in 1940s / Old Pontiac muscle car / Geographic depression / Name used by five popes

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley and Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Challenging (for a Tuesday)

THEME: KENKEN (47A: Newspaper puzzle suggested by this crossword's gray squares)— four numbers in grid are answers in a KENKEN section (such numbers appear in the grid followed by an operation, i.e. +, -, x, or ÷). Thus ... I guess ...

Theme answers:
  • 2÷ => TWO *divided by* ONE = 2
  • 5- => NINE *minus* FOUR = 5
  • 11+ => THREE *plus* EIGHT = 11
  • 42x => SIX *times* SEVEN = 42
Word of the Day: Kevin TWAY (13A: Golfer Bob or his golfing son Kevin) —
Kevin Tway (born July 23, 1988) is an American professional golfer who has played on the Tour and the PGA Tour. He won numerous junior tournaments, and most notably, the 2005 U.S. Junior Amateur. // Born in Edmond, Oklahoma, Tway is the son of Bob Tway, an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, including the PGA Championship in 1986. (wikipedia)
• • •

Really, really not for me. For so many reasons. I don't do  / care about puzzles that are not crossword puzzles. I especially don't care about this one. Puzzle seems designed to advertise a puzzle type that the editor has his name plastered all over in book reprints. Conceptually, this is definitely bold, but ... I just know that I don't do boring number puzzles. I don't really get why there are four number sections, why they're placed the way they are in the grid, etc. There's a huge chunk of the grid, from center, to SW, that has no number stuff going on in it. I guess that's 'cause that's where KENKEN is. This just seems like almost every crossover TV episode ever made, i.e. makes a hash of two things that people like perfectly well when they're on their own. Also, the fill here really hurts, throughout, perhaps because the theme is demanding and/or the grid is ultra-choppy. ECARTE and SIXTUS and REUNES and a lone GALOSH ... the EHS and the PHU and the WURST SWALE ever. IN A NET? If you say so. This was a befuddling slog to me. The concept is no doubt high-end, as the numbers of the grid are brought into service as numbers in KENKEN. That can't have been easy. But pleasure factor was near nil for me.

Totally forgot who TWAY was. Absolutely no idea who non-German-author Thomas MANN is (26A: Actor Thomas of "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"). That's a great new MANN, but it sure as hell isn't a Tuesday answer. Who the hell (under 40) knows Catherine OXENBERG? (39D: Actress Catherine of "Dynasty") I knew her, as I watched "Dynasty," despite Prince's telling me I didn't have to. Seeing her on a Tuesday is just retro and bonkers. I hope you enjoyed this / appreciated this Quite a bit more than I did.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:04 AM  

Tough Tues. for me too plus I've never done a KENKEN so the theme didn't exactly resonate for me.  I'm still not sure what is going on and the Xwordinfo explanation didn't really help.  So, let's just leave it at "I'm too lazy to try to figure out what is obviously a clever Tues."   No opinion, or maybe what Rex said.

Da Bears 12:12 AM  

@Rex, you said it better than I could. And you didn't even mention the puzzle doesn't work in AL.

Whirred Whacks 12:23 AM  

Fun puzzle, BEQ and JF. Thanks for the challenge.

Off-topic: I've been reading the various notes on the passing of the gifted constructor Henry Hook. Many of the remembrances mention that in his later years he became a curmudgeon and would make strident comments on various X-word blogs. I'm curious to know if he commented on this (Rex's) blog, and what name(s) he (may have) used.

Pete 12:25 AM  

The NYTimes had an article this evening about a surprising number of deaths among middle age white people - seems they've had a 30% increase in mortality rates compared with a decade ago. The second big surprise was the cause: suicide and mortality directly traced to substance abuse, particularly opioids and alcohol. Where the article lacked substance and specificity was the cause of the increased drug and alcohol use, and the suicides - it devolved into unscientific speculation: job loss, a lack of faith in the future, etc. I'd like to use this space to offer an additional possible explanation, above and beyond job loss, etc: Puzzles like this one.

dreisands 1:04 AM  

Total Natick for me at PHU and SPRIT. The fill was just atrocious and definitely my longest Tuesday ever.

Anonymous 1:11 AM  

I hated this. I got the answers but I still don't know what kenken is nor do I care. Mann and Tway are too obscure for a Tuesday too.

Anonymous 1:29 AM  

Agreed, an abomination. Also, notice that the first one isn't mathematically correct; the order of the operands matters (tho not in KenKen, apparently). Another Xword apparently designed by people who hate Xwords. What is the Times thinking of?

Leapfinger 1:57 AM  

Howcum there's a NINE in the theme? I thought KenKen operands only go up to 8 (in the 8-square).

No Notepad, no tiny operators in the corner of the answer squares with the app I use, so I was in the WURST possible position to catch the theme, which was way beyond my KENKEN. Till I came to the reveal, it just looked like pairs of numbers misbehaving at random. After it wa sexplained, it seemed to me that mixing something crossword people like with something number-puzzlers like, is apt to produce something neither group likes quite as much.

Minus the theme, I liked OWNS crossing ONZE, the Christmas-y SILENTT Nightt, the IOTA-OUGHTA row, and BEFOUL followed by PHU. Still don't know who TOQUE that other GALOSH.

Interesting try at cross-fertilization, guys, but just like with Congressional laws, it all boils down to the implementation. Saving grace for some of us that it solved nicely as a themeless also.

chefwen 2:16 AM  

This puzzle was totally wasted on me. Got the dang thing done and came here to read the write up. Oh yeah, there WERE circles, looked at the puzzle, O.K. They spelled out numbers. Hmmm! Remember filling in KENKEN which I know is another puzzle in the paper, one I always ignore. So this just sailed over my head, theme wise.

Jumping on Puzzle Girls band wagon today.

Graham 2:24 AM  

Today's NE is probably the ugliest corner I've ever seen in a NYT puzzle. STS, PHU, REE, SPRIT? No thanks.

Anonymous 2:37 AM  

Way too many little 3x3 or 4x4 gridlets for my taste. Didn't suss the ken ken theme until i came here. the gray pieces don't fit together like tetrus, their shapes don't indicate how the words are related, and the NYT kenken is 3x3 with 9 numbers in each 3x3.

dude, this made no sense. and the fill? nothing to add to rex's riff.

maybe we can get the author to weigh in.

phil phil 4:30 AM  

I guess i need to see what a kenton is because i dont get it.

I see all the non zero numbers except five represented. Is that part of it??
I don't agree with most of the fill nit picking but pushing up daisies is the only wording used of that phrase.

Lobster11 5:49 AM  

A rare day on which, had I been guest blogger, I would have written what OFL did pretty much word-for-word. My only addition would be to note that I despise highly segmented grids that solve like several independent puzzles.

I'm glad these days are rare, or coming here wouldn't be much fun!

George Barany 6:34 AM  

@Rex, Your review says it all ... but let me see if I can add anything anyway. I went through a phase when I solved quite a few KEN_KEN, and they provide quite a good mental workout, more so than say sudoku. I'm pretty sure that you're right about them being generated by computer.

In an 80-word grid, only IN_A_NET and OXENBERG are @Shortz-era debuts, but whoa, why come up with new and/or obscure clues for MANN crossing ALAN, for ALI, for CAPO crossing CAKE_MIX (a B in place of the C certainly seemed reasonable enough to me). I did not enjoy being reminded of the Vietnam war, the Holocaust, or the anti-TAX crowd, to name a few.

BTW, I love love love your graphic, referring to the great Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. of baseball fame. Certainly better known than the TWAY father/son combo (I've heard of Bob, but Kevin was news to me).

Cassieopia 6:42 AM  

I liked it. Once I found kenken, it was easy to see the shaded squares were numbers and that helped me change dEFile to BEFOUL. I didn't bother to do the math, so thank you Rex for pointing out how cleverly the shaded squares gave the clue numbers. Also laughed at "Christmas feature?" as I kept wanting to force it into SILENce. This was a novel puzzle and I enjoyed it very much!

Lewis 7:41 AM  

I think this would have worked better as a Thursday puzzle with no mention of KenKen. The puzzle works without having to know what KenKen is. You've got numbers and operation symbols and the answer is the number next to the symbol. The math is easy and figuring out the concept would be a terrific aha. All you'd need to do is toughen up some of the cluing and it would be a lovely Thursday.

As it was, this must have been hard to design, and props to BEQ and JF for that. Even if you didn't figure out the math part, this could be solved as a themeless. As it was, the theme helped me in two places. I love when a puzzle has a fair number of answers that are not in my knowledge bank, and I get them anyway -- and this was one of those. I did guess at the PHU/SPRIT cross.

Like @leapy, I loved the IOTA/OUGHTA line, and happy to see a DEW east. Loved the clues on EYELINER and FREEBIE. Isn't OUGHTA a six-letter partial, and isn't the limit supposed to be five?

Some people have been complaining that after the special week of out-of-the-box puzzles, things have become same-old same-old. Well, not today. Terrific concept and an excellent brain wakeup!

AnnieD 7:49 AM  

I like kenkens and I liked this puzzle. What kenken I say?

mac 7:50 AM  

Tough Tuesday. I know KenKen, so I got the trick quickly, and it even helped me out in two of the cases.

Favorite word: befoul. Funny.

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

The NY Times print edition has two kenken puzzles daily (four, six numbers)and two on Sundays (five, seven numbers). No kenken that need to use the number eight (the 11+ square in this crossword.)

Lewis 7:52 AM  

Yesterday, a number of people voiced that they'd like the old unmonitored system back; that they missed the immediacy of how the comments used to be. On the other hand, Rex doesn't want the pettiness and rudeness that marked how it was.

How about if, instead of every comment be premonitored, as things are now, how about letting everything in (as things were), but Rex do exactly what he's doing now -- monitor the comments a few times a day and take out those that are inappropriate? The only difference is that inappropriate comments may be published for a little while before being zapped. To me, this seems like a compromise that could work.

My two cents.

Karen Bruce 7:55 AM  

This did not feel like a Tuesday puzzle. I spent most of the solve wondering whether I was particularly tired and stupid this morning, because it took me ages to get it out. Indeed, for the wretched CAPO/SWALE cross, I had to run vowels until I got Mr Happy Pencil. A pretty technical term crossing a dialect term seems less than optimal.

When I figured out that all that bad fill was just so it could kinda sorta maybe approximate a kenken, it really did not seem a worthwhile trade. I agree that puzzles are most enjoyable when they do what they're best at, not when they're trying to imitate another puzzle.

In addition, the NYT app again did not have the shaded squares. I may start solving via the puz if this continues.

jberg 8:02 AM  

The squares in a crossword grid are quite a bit smaller than those in a Kenken grid, and my vision isn't that great -- so for most of the puzzle I thought the square with a 2 in it had a plus sign, rather than a division sign. Since one + two does not equal two, I thought that there was a huge error. Finally I got up close and realized my error.

My other problem was having a hard time believing that the T in Christmas was really silent. Finally, I tried to say it out loud, the result was cross-referenced at 62A: an INANE T.

@Leapfinger, there are 9X9 KENKENs, too -- they're just too hard for a normal person to solve.

Mohair Sam 8:16 AM  

Well. We've heard of KENKEN and Bob TWAY. And remember Dien Bien PHU, and Pope SIXTUS, and god old TOQUE, so we completed this medium/challenging for a Tuesday thing. BUT . . we agree with pretty much every word OFL says. And although we are safely over 40 we still didn't know actress OXENBERG.

Besides, we print the puzzle in AcrossLite every morning so the little math operators were not visible to us, and the shaded areas were circles. Would have made no difference anyhow, because we've never played KENKEN.

No fun for us.

L 8:23 AM  

Wurst tuesday performance in a long time. Had to Google to finish...on a tuesday! I do Ken Ken every day, and still this made no sense. This puzzle befoul.

Vincent Lima 8:24 AM  

Just for a new perspective: I do like kenken.

Also, I love BEQ and thoroughly enjoyed doing two of his other puzzles just yesterday (one on his site and one on Buzzfeed).

This puzzle was NOT (oh, wait, I can use html tags) NOT a Tuesday and it was NOT enjoyable in the least. It offered none of the mathematical reasoning challenges of a nice kenken. The fill was painfully obscure.

If Rex is usually too harsh about minor or contrived deficiencies of NYT puzzles, he was way too generous in his assessment of this one.

chefbea 8:30 AM  

Having never done a ken ken puzzle this was greek to me. Didn't get it at all. I went to camp with Leon Uris's niece..she was my best friend. Liked that toque crossed cake mix

pmdm 8:31 AM  

I liked the puzzle a good deal more than most of those here. That is beside the point concerning my next thought.

A little while back, we were treated to/tortured by [your choice] a week of puzzles that were supposed to have characteristics never before seen in a crossword. Reactions to those puzzles included some complaints (justified in my opinion) that a few of the alleged never-before-seen features were simply a variation of something that had already been done before. To my knowledge, the theme of this puzzle is totally original and has never been done before. (If any of you can provide details of when this theme was done before, please step forward.) Today's puzzle might have been a better choice to include with that week's puzzles than a few of the puzzles that made the cut that week. Obviously some of you would prefer that the puzzle had not been published at all. That's OK. But since it was, shouldn't it have been published during that week?

I solve the paper version in fairly dim light. The boxes which included the arithmetic signs were all shaded. Between that and the smallness of the print, I did not even notice those four signs. Had I seen them, I would have appreciated the puzzle more. But I'm fairly certain that those who don't know the rules of KenKen will find this puzzle to be wretched.

Interesting that for those who solve the print version, the answer to 47A can be found right alongside the crossword.

I understand the difficulty of getting the theme answers into the grid, and have a pangram at that, but this puzzles certainly should have been rejected pending clean-up of the fill.

Leapfinger 8:34 AM  

@phil phil, the FIVE is disguised as a NINE, which isn't supposed to be there, far's I know.

Seems to be a lot of sound and PHU REE to VENT OUT there about this INANEsT of puzzle themes. Thought-provoking hypothesis from @Pete. ;D

Nancy 8:44 AM  

Yet again another "after-the-fact" theme. Like @chefwen, I solved just fine without paying one IOTA of attention to it. I liked the fact that the puzzle was more challenging than most Tuesdays. The theme, which I didn't see at all, even "after the fact", seemed really sloppy, with the letters of the "numbers" strewn about in no consistent pattern. I do do Ken Kens from time to time, but would not have made the connection on my own. Didn't matter at all. A theme ignored is seldom a theme despised.

Lewis 8:47 AM  

I think if you changed SUEY to SONY, that corner wouldn't have been quite as opaque.

RAD2626 8:50 AM  

Still do not get theme but irrelevant. Rest of puzzle very hard and some really awful stuff: GALOSH, IF AT, IN A NET, SPRIT, etc. Just not very much fun. Did not say "oh, I SEE, " to a single clue. Disappointing given the constructors, each of whom I really enjoy.

OldCarFudd 9:02 AM  

Boy, are you guys grumpy! The NYT publishes 6 kenkens on line every day, and I do them every day except on the fairly rare occasions when I screw one up more than once. This crossword was a worthy effort, but it may have compromised too much to accommodate the theme. Also, the little math signs were printed too small for my aging eyes; I thought the division sign was a plus, so at first I thought the upper left theme answer was wrong. But if we're expected to know all about obscure actors, authors and politicians, is it unreasonable to expect us to know something about a quite-popular math puzzle?

GILL I. 9:03 AM  

I have never once tried KENKEN and well, now I know why. I dutifully copied down all the circled answers: ONE TO NINE FOR THREE EIGHT SIX SEVEN....!Whaaaat?
OK, I do a lot of BEQ and I really enjoy his puzzles. When I saw his name today I thought we would all be in for a treat. He's a bit heavy handed sometimes with proper names that usually leave me Google searching. Never heard of MANN OXENBERG TWAY. That OUGHTA be banned for a Tuesday.
BUT I still kinda enjoyed it! Hey, I think it's a pangram...
Favorite was MOJO. Liked the clue for SPA and EYELINER. If you're gonna put NAZI in, his clue was pretty PLUM ASS EAU PHU DEW.
BEFOUL and enjoy the rest of your day!

Monte Jaffe 9:08 AM  

I struggled with completing this puzzle, but I loved the theme because I'm a big KenKen fan. For those unfamiliar with KenKen (as demonstrated in other comments), the order of operands doesn't matter and the grid can be any size square. You can see different sizes (from 4X4 to 9X9) on the NYT website.

Instead of darkening the KenKen squares, they should have outlined with bold separation lines for what is within the KenKen, since that is how a regular KenKen puzzle looks.

wreck 9:15 AM  

Not that it mattered today, as I had no idea what the "shaded" squares referred to, but I really get annoyed that on the ipad app, when you highlight a clue - the shaded squares disappear. It makes grasping the the theme nearly impossible.

Steve M 9:20 AM  

I don't Jen kenken

Cheerio 9:22 AM  

Seems the perfect opportunity to complain about those STUPID Kenken puzzles. I do them because they are there, but every day I send a "negative vibe" out to the NYT for having these over Sudokus. Are they better or classier? No, they are dumb, easy, and mathematically boring.

Roo Monster 9:28 AM  

Hey All !
Well, I kinda liked it. (Ducks thrown tomatoes) Agree it wasn't the most awesome way to shove a KENKEN into a crossword, but hard to get the written out numbers by the actual square number. If that made sense. Liked SIX SEVEN the best.

I also agree with that NE corner. SPRIT a definite WOE. And REE, PHU? Foo! "Why, I OUGHTA...!" To borrow a SE word, EGAD!

@Anon 2:37am, you're thinking of Sudoku. I actually thought of that first myself. Anyone here like (or heard of) Kaikuro? That's a challenging one.

Good clues for EYELINER, NO LESS, SILENT T. Always think of Austin Powers movies when I see MOJO! And do remember Catherine OXENBERG. To borrow another Mike Myers line, "She's a babe! Schwing!"

I FAT from eating WURST

Lewis 9:29 AM  

Oops! Scratch the SONY suggestion I made above. It would not have worked because of the theme.

Ludyjynn 9:32 AM  

If I was any good at math, I would have been a veterinarian instead of an attorney. If I enjoyed math puzzles, I would do KENKEN instead of the crossword. So I say PHUey to BEFOULing my Tuesday solve with obscure shaded numbers. Like @Chefwen and @Nancy, I did my best to ignore them altogether in what was for me a relatively easy solve.

EYELINER was worth the price of admission despite all the other junk Rex duly noted. WURST clue was for TWAY, but was gettable via crosses.

Two positives: My sailor friends acquainted me long ago with the term 'bow SPRIT'; seeing EAVE in the grid reminded me to call the handyman to go up on the roof and clear out the falling leaves in the next week or two.

Note to WS: I could care one IOTA for numbers. Words, however, are the source of positive MOJO. Stick to the words, please!

Wm. C. 9:32 AM  

@Bob Tway's father, Bob Tway III, worked at the same company with me, as a Regional Sales Manager in California. We played golf together once at Torrey Pines, and when we signed in at the Pro Shop counter there was a picture of his son behind us with the PGA Tournament trophy from the event he had won a few months earlier.

It turns out that this father/son pair looked very much alike. The guy behind the counter did a double-take, immediately recognizing that this must be Bob III, and said "this round is free."

John V 9:43 AM  

The shading was not obvious on the pdf, so that was a problem. Even so, the explanation here took a couple of reads to sort of get it. All in, just annoying -- surprising, considering the constructors.

Uncle Milford 9:46 AM  

Unfortunate puzzle. I finished it and wanted to read Rex's comments. When I first started I didn't read the notes, so didnt see the kenken clue. that said, I filled in NW then NE and thought he was doing a Fibonacci sequence. would have been way cooler.

Chuck McGregor 9:51 AM  

Contrary to many of the comments seen, I loved this puzzle. I mean It had a Guitar clue (CAPO), a Winter clue (GALOSH), and a Political clue (ROVE) or G.W.P. -- Gee What a Puzzle!

I wonder if anyone has ever been BENT on having an OXEN BERGer?

However, the WURST problem NO LESS was, surprisingly enough, it is a pangram and I only know 23 letters of the alphabet. So, that BEFOULED my solving. Just not fair!


IN A NETshell? PHU, EGAD, and. EAU de chop SUEY. A JAR of the WURST OILS across the middle seems to say it all. Guess that’s TWAY it goes, yessiREE!

Oh yes, I PLUM forgot. KENKEN was also GNU to me, so the theme had not one IOTA of MOJO.


Good suggestion from @LEWIS 7:52 as a way to moderate the blog, but with a "Removed by moderator" tag for deleted comments.

rorosen 10:00 AM  

Nice anecdote, Wm. C. How's your golf game these days?

Joseph Michael 10:02 AM  

I don't have a clue about how KENKEN works so this theme was lost on me. I did finish, thanks to a couple of lucky guesses, but it wasn't a whole lot of fun. Next!

Indypuzzler 10:09 AM  

I had something happen with this puzzle I have read NEVER had happen. With my husband being out of town I started the puzzle in bed with pillows propped up behind my back. At one point I woke up suddenly and found...I had one square unfilled. I filled it and the app did its congratulatory message! I think that says something about this puzzle. My app had a message which was cryptic and meaningless to me since somehow I was supposed to know or figure out where the number and math symbol was supposed to fit. Maybe next thing will be an attempt to put a Xword in a Kenken.

GILL I. 10:35 AM  

@Lewis. I second your suggestion. I remember when @Rex did monitor his blog and delete offensive and rude remarks. I wonder why that can't be done again. At least bring back some of the spontaneity we all enjoyed.
@Nancy. You do do Ken Ken? How rude....
Joel Fagliano...I left out your name when I commented and that is PLUM ASSinine of me...Sorry!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:42 AM  

Initial reaction: "Hunh?"

Reaction upon reading explanation: "Must remember that experimentation is a good thing. And in any honest program of experimentation, there will be failures. Like this one."

I never saw the little mathematical operators (Hey, anybody hear the Sunday challenge on NPR? "Can you calculate 20 using three 9s and standard mathematical operations?" Just a coincidence?) so the puzzle was meaningless to me.

In fact, I had 47 D as KOALA, and, pace @Roo Monster, I thought 47 A might be KAKURO(which is closer in format to a crossword puzzle.) But I held off putting it in, so no write-overs.

thfenn 10:43 AM  

Definitely hard for me. Had GOLOSH instead of GALOSH which left me with Betty Crocker doing something to POKEMON. Didn't know ECARTE, or MANN, or that chef's wore TOQUEs, or that you could REUNE separated things, or people. Couldn't see how the cluing led to XAXES until it dawned on me that two graphs would have two XAXES. But I do play KENKEN and SUDOKU a bit, got the theme pretty quickly, and it led to DEITY, OUGHTA, and SIXTUS, and then I invested the time to try and finish, so I ended up thinking it was fine. Yes, much harder than most tuesdays, for me. Yes, should've been in that week of puzzles with new twists to them. But ended up thinking this was a pretty good one.

Wednesday's Child 10:44 AM  

IOTA, iOUGHTA, IOTA, iOUGHTA - I just like the sound of it.

Solved as a themeless, had no interest in the theme even after I finished.

Almost failed at SPRIT PHU REE but managed to pull it out of the hat at the last minute.

The grid is too chopped up.

Andrew Heinegg 10:46 AM  

I wish I could 'see' some of these puzzles with the rose colored glasses that Lewis wears. I thought that the ne was horrible for reasons already stated. The kenken business was just uninteresting. And, BTW, I can find no dictionary that defines sledge as a tool. It needs to have hammer after it and, yes, I got the answer but that does not make it better. I have also never heard it used in speaking of the tool as in:'give me a sledge!'. All in all, a far less than an enjoyable solve for any day of the week;

Oscar 11:00 AM  

Blech. They can't all be gems.

chefbea 11:02 AM  

@Lewis..good idea. I think it will work

Z 11:08 AM  

Everything you never wanted to know about KenKen.
(A Kenerator?!?)

Hadn't seen this kind of red-headed step-child of a puzzle in awhile. 15 minutes here where 10 on Tuesday is typical. I'm with the crowd on this one (I solve KenKens - Can't say I like them, but they appear in the papers I get and I always like a little deductive workout)

@Pete - good one. I've seen several theories on why the uptick is happening (to be specific, the rate is attributable to increased deaths in middle age non-Hispanic whites with less than a HS education). The most troubling is that conservative theories cite too much welfare and liberal theories cite too little. The numbers, of course, don't provide enough information to indicate that welfare is even an issue.

Masked and Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Si-ilent T
Ho-oly T
All is calm
All is bright
Round John virgin
Mother and child …

har. I give em points for trying somethin new. I have tried Ken-Ken a time or two, so I at least caught on to what they were up to. This puppy does maybe cross over some sort of semi-sacred border of "really messin with people's crossword puzzle". If it don't cross that border, it definitely sits on the border and jumps up and down and yells foreign expletives at em. Result: trouble brewin.

M&A didn't mind the nasty expletives, as he was too busy gatherin up the bonanza of U's (9) that cornucopiated out of this here grid. Had SILENTH for quite a while, which really kanned up my ken, in the Minnesota area, tho.

Kinda see what @009 means, about the layout of the shaded Ken-Ken gray zones. It's like they went totally nuts with em, at the top of the grid, and then tossed one more token one in, for the whole rest of the puz.
Theories on why this is so:

1. Like @009 says, they had KENKEN as a fifth entry down in the bottom half, and figured that was enough. No use upsettin crossword people any more than necessary with Ken-Ken stuff.
2. They wanted exactly one Ken-Ken zone for each math operator (4).
3. SIXTUS. har. … But, I digress.
4. They each filled half the grid. The constructioneer dude that got assigned the upper half packed three Ken-Ken zones into his assigned section, lick-spit-quick. Then coughed up somethin, while makin a "SPRIT PHU REE" sound. The dude doing the lower grid half weren't really into this whole Ken-Ken schtick, and bailed after only one Ken-Ken zone score. Or maybe he had two, but to get em, had to cough up a "PEWIT + random Roman numeral + PTUI" sound, so backed the second zone the hell back out, out of sheer embarrassment.
5. It's a gray area.

fave weejecta: NAW. The G is so silent, it's a no-show. PHU. REE. Hell hath no phu ree, like a crossword addict scorned by a Ken-Ken infestation.

Thanx, BEQ and JoelQ. That was real … interestin. And sorta Fun-ky.



Warren Howie Hughes 11:10 AM  

"Many men smoke, but PHU men Chu"

jack reeves 11:13 AM  

Two things:

I was totally befuddled by the upper right corner. Never heard of "Riddle-me-Ree" (I had NOT in there) and "DEITY" was confusing because two were listed (implying a plural).

"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" is a wonderful movie and highly recommended -- it's funny, affecting and packed with references to classic cinema. Thomas Mann's performance indicates he'll likely be a more recognizable clue in coming years. If you haven't seen it, you should check it out.

Malsdemare 11:18 AM  

@Z Thanks for the kind words yesterday. I am STILL giggling over that puzzle.

Today's puzzle left me a little, well, flat. It came together pretty easily; I knew SWALE and SPRIT (all those years before the mast), and EYELINER got me TWAY. Some nice clues, and I get the concept, I think, but I don't really know where the operands are in the grid and that's got me wondering if maybe I'm missing something that would clear up this foggy feeling. Or not.

I, too, wondered why it wasn't used in last week's salute to "Now for something completely different."

And I'll add my yay vote to dropping the moderating and seeing what happens.

Seth 11:18 AM  

Wow, tough crowd. I thought this was so cool. People complain about seeing the same old themes time and time again, yet don't appreciate a really novel idea. THIS is the type of puzzle I was expecting during the "New Things" week. This is more original than any of those.

I also believe that "I didn't notice the theme until after I was done" isn't really allowed as a complaint. It's your choice whether or not to notice the theme. If you want to notice the theme...then look at the theme. It's right there in front of you. If you're the type to go through puzzles without paying attention to the theme, that's just your solving method. And it's fine. But it can't count as a complaint. That's like complaining "I didn't notice any of the Down clues until after I was done" because you're the type to only solve using the Across clues.

Warren Howie Hughes 11:21 AM  

"Waiter, where is the Frankfurter with Sauerkraut that I ordered?" "Sorry, Sir, the WURST has yet to come"

Carol S. 11:26 AM  

Oh NO they did NOT. This thing sucks like the suckiest sucker that ever sucked.

DNF on a Tuesday because of SPRIT/PHU.

Google SPRIT and you get:
.... did you mean "spirit"?
.... paid links to Sprint's new rate plans
.... an Urban Dictionary link: apparently this word means a type of SLUT. Yay, we need more of those!

And 1954? Seriously? I know this about Korea: 1) we didn't win; and 2) eventually Hawkeye and BJ had to take their still down. Don't remember why. My dad is a 92 year old WWII vet so I am ALL about honoring our aging heros, but not on a Tuesday, and not with a random grouping of 3 letters that very obviously was googled because they needed PHU to fit in the spaces.

REUNES? Is that a word, that is used, in English? Really? 100% of my (admittedly lowbrow) circle of humans would say "HAVE A REUNION" or "REUNITE" or some such apparently wrong thing. Again - save it for later in the week.


And I agree with Rex about Catherine OXENBERG. Talk about a blast from the 80s - which is in my wheelhouse, so I am not complaining, but talk about obsolete pop trivia. Although I believe she played Princess DIANA once in a now-sad biopic made in the 80's when she and Charles were still in the super-cute family phase. Or maybe that was someone else pretty and blonde with 80s hair.

What the hell is KENKEN? I do this puzzle on my ipad so I've never even seen it. Is it like SUDOKU?

Billy 11:26 AM  

Yeah, the five is represented visually by the grid's center dark squares.

old timer 11:32 AM  

To paraphrase Dorothy Parker (or, IMO, Robert Benchley): "This is not a puzzle to the tossed aside lightly. It should be hurled violently, and with great force."

I don't think I have done a puzzle in a long time that made me angrier. TWAY? OXENBERG? MANN (as clued)? All names that would be too obscure on a Saturday. XAXES? INANET? easily solved but totally lame. REUNES is even worse -- not a word at all, not in my dictionary, and in fact the kind of inane back-formation that Fowler would have whipped from pillar to post (the real word: "reunite").

SILENTT? I am very tired of these SILENT (anything) answers, but there are many people who pronounce the T in Christmas, though not distinctly. more with a kind of lingual stop. I do, anyway. SLEDGE, as defined, is just wrong. The term in use for the breaking tool is "sledgehammer". Though of course a SLEDGE is a heavy sleigh used for transporting heavy goods.

If I have one good thing to say, it is the clever clue that reminds us there were only five popes named SIXTUS, and a daresay we will never see a SIXTUS the Sixth.

So why did OFL give this one a pass (while admitting he did not enjoy it? Because Joel F and BEQ are buddies of his. And have created some brilliant puzzles over the years, though this certainly was not one of them.

Tita 11:33 AM  

Never knew kenken, so theme totally lost on me. Neither did I see that here were tiny operands in the grid.
I think that it is a coolish feat, and can't ding it just because I am kenken-clueless.

@Anoa Bob... I thought of you at 44A... Is that a Singular of Convenience? Can here be such a thing as one GALOSH? Autocorrect doesn't want to let me type it.

The reference to Clue with Mr. Plum brought back great memories of that game...I always wanted to be Miss Peacock...
Not wild about xref clues, and in-your-face annoying ones like IOTA/THETA ones are particularly irksome. Like the constructor is just saying "Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah" at me. No redeeming value whatsoever.

Thanks, BEQ...even so...

Jamie C 12:18 PM  

Seems we are having a titillating week--BOOBYs yesterday and KENKEN dancers today. Can't wait 'til tomorrow!

AliasZ 12:23 PM  

I have no idea what the point of KENKEN is, what rules are and how to play it, thus I cannot comment on the theme.

As a themeless it wasn't good -- surprising from BEQ and Joel.

Chaos344 12:26 PM  

I'm down with Rex! I am a purist when it comes to crosswords. With the exception of an occasional rebus,(if it is done well) I hate gimmick puzzles. As soon as I see the little "notepad" icon, I start to grit my teeth. Nuff said about that. It's really a personal choice. I can understand that some people like gimmicks, but I'm not one of them.

Having said that, it's great to be back on this blog. I feel like a racehorse who has spent the last decade in a corral but has now been let loose in a fifty acre pasture. Moderated or not, this forum is still heads above the Emu invested terrain I recently fled. I do agree with those who feel that the new moderation format limits the badinage between posters. Perhaps Rex will consider another alternative?

@leapy: My favorite Y-less poster. It's great to have my funny bone tickled on a daily basis again. Had I known you were a regular here, I would have returned ages ago.

@Da Bears: After reading leapy's comment yesterday, I went back and read your Sunday post on Rules For Understanding Rex. I agree totally agree with leapy. It was indeed a very perspicacious perspective.

Jennifer Freeman 12:27 PM  

Thank you for the laugh. I needed it after this puzzle.

Numinous 12:33 PM  

The NW didn't fill in easily for me and I nearly had a heart attack when I saw TWA and, for a moment before reading the down clue, I feared a word like Etcetera. A perfectly good word in England that guys use to refer to each other but here? Okay, okay, maybe I haven't been getting enough sleep and I'm "jet-lagged" due to the time change but, wow, that gave me pause.

@Leapy didn't help either with her typo "wa sexplained" especially after accusing me of cross-dressing elsewhere. I read that with two esses and nearly choked on my coffee.

I don't know what a KENKEN is and I don't want to. What one thing I did like about this puzzle is that it included the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. On that note, there is a YouTuber I watch regularly and find pretty interesting.

It never occurred to me that a NYTXW could BE FOUL.

Masked and Anonymous 12:37 PM  

More Ken-Ken zone placement theory bullets …

6. They've already used up everything except FIVE, TEN, and ZERO. (Unless they wanna start imbeddin stuff like THIRTY-SIX in the grid boxes.) So, they'd haft maybe stuff somethin like FIVE and TEN into a Ken-Ken zone built around square #50 with an "x" sign, or somesuch. But #50 is already in use as part of another zone! Checkmated and bingoed.

7. Them square numbers at the grid bottom are gettin pretty day-um big. Probably don't want to take on a "+", "-", or "divide" symbol, down there. Example: square with 58 in it. If you add a "+" sign in there, then you have to build a Ken-Ken zone with somethin like TWENTYFIVE (+) THIRTYTHREE jammed into that poor, defenseless little zone , as grid letter strings! woof.

"The More U Ken, the More U Ken't"

Mark Rosenfield 12:39 PM  

I didn't particularly enjoy the puzzle, mainly because of the top right corner, but the KenKen puzzle is right next to the Crossword in the printed paper, and I usually do both, so I don't quite understand the idea that people only do one or the other.

Blue Stater 12:49 PM  

Worst in recent memory. And that's saying a lot. I agree about unfiltering the comments, btw. What's the worst thing that can happen if there's a snarkfight?

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

that upper corner was ridiculous. I had never heard of the Tways, Mann, Singer Jackson, Actress Catherine or a soccer star named Krieger and Italian for eleven? I had never heard of Ken Ken and I'm not sure I'd call Igor Frankenstein's "aide," which i thought was weird. Oughta just left me cold, and I'm not sure I ever heard of a single galosh, although maybe there are peg leg pirates who only need one boot. Reunes? what is that? and what's up with "no less" for "surprisingly enough"? Bad day in crossword land. Also, I do the puzzle from the actual paper version of the New York Times, and it seems, oddly enough, that I may have been looking at a different grid, as I can't figure out how these gray squares relate to anything.

Rabi Abonour 1:01 PM  

Fill is atrocious and it took me way to long to knock this one out. I'll give them credit for doing something original, but it needed to have another grouping in the SW and the revealer in the center. Don't half-ass it.

Da Bears 1:22 PM  

In an attempt to show the more social side of me, I have the following comments (none of which are addressed to any Anonymous):

@Da Bears, I couldn’t have said it better.

@Whirred Whacks, HH often commented on Amy’s Blog as HH. I don’t recall seeing him here. He was even more acerbic than I am and would have leveled @Rex if he have posted here
@Pete, LOL!

@Leapfinger, naughty girl!

@chefwen, your Packers got whupped by Denver because I am now rooting for Rodgers.

@Graham, I agree but THETA and SUEY make up for a lot of sins.

@phil phil, I feel your pain but anyone with a double name should learn to do KenKen.

@Lewis, this would have worked better as no puzzle or maybe a variety puzzle.

@AnnieD, you must be a Midwesterner.

@Mohair Sam, I don’t remember her either, so I looked her up. Her full name is Olly Olly Oxenberg.

@Vincent Lima, if you had read my few simple rules for understanding @Rex, you would realize that he likes these two constructors so he will never be as harsh on them as you think he should. @Rex was almost apologetic in his criticism. If the constructors were unknown, you would have loved it.

@chefbea, only @Rex is allowed to drop names.

@Nancy, you are here and at Wordplay (and I think Amy’s blog). I can’t keep up with you.

@OldCarFudd, I detect a certain bias in your comments.

@wreck, I use Android products and give Apple products to the Wife, which should tell you something about what I think of them.

@Cheerio, I love your critique, especially since I’ve never done them.

@Ludyjynn, that’s no excuse for being a lawyer. I know because I suffer from the same ailment.

@Wm. C., you must be one helluva good golfer!

the redanman 1:34 PM  

Ugh. Rather unpleasant even with a full grid. BEQ has obtuse clues generally, this KENKEN or whatever was too uninteresting for me,


Da Bears 1:46 PM  

@ Chaos344, "I'm down with Rex!"? We both know that you are a wuss when it comes to @Rex. But for my putting some backbone in that fickle spine of yours, you would have caved on diners having jukes to be real diners.

BTW, I posted my list of replies before your post appeared, which in some respects is lucky for you.

Masked and Anonymous 1:55 PM  

@Da Bears: har. That's the spirit. Let's show @muse darlin that we still got some interaction between Comment Gallery folks goin on here, even under semi-glacial-mudderation. Maybe then she will come back, sooner.
(I tried singin a Christmas carol in my first msg, to try and fool her into comin back for the holidays, kinda early-like.)

Go Vikes!

Masked & Anonymo3x3Us

Auto-correct correction in previous M&A msg: "haft" should be "hafta".

Teedmn 1:56 PM  

This puzzle didn't exactly provide NECTAR from the DEITYs but it didn't BEFOUL my mind either.

ONZE I got rid of sOld for GONE and NAh for NAW, it was a CAKEMIX walk. (Actually, this did take two minutes over my usual Tuesday but I was proceeding cautiously after seeing the KENKEN symbols). I'd probably like KEN KEN more if I was any good at them but a SIX by SIX is a challenge for me and I haven't played them enough to get the tricks, though I seem to remember watching a video of Will Shortz explaining the methods of solving them. I like math and think I'm logical but..(then again, don't we all?)

I'd rather learn how to solve Cryptics (I'm still trying, @Carola).

And per @Lewis' suggestion at 7:52 AM, I could really get behind that solution. @Rex could have a disclaimer at the end of the blog write up saying that the comments would be moderated eventually so don't get your undies in a bunch if you think something is inappropriate, which could help in preventing his getting irate emails. Just a thought...

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

Just finished the HIGH:low puzzle sent to me by K. Austin Collins. Fresh, young, definitely the next wave of puzzles. Sorry, Billy C, I'm not promoting my own puzzle so don't get your panties in a twist. If his puzzle picks up speed and starts to appear daily, I'd axe my NYT puzzle subscription in a heartbeat.

I don't subscribe to any of the puzzle databases but would be interested i seeing some data on the answers to HIGH:low. I doubt if a lot of the answers have ever seen the light of day in the NYT.

Maybe if someone has time...


Mike D 2:13 PM  

Am I the only one who had SILENTh instead of SILENTT?

Brett Chappell 2:18 PM  

I have no idea what a kenken is, nor do I give a rat's patootie. Living in Denmark, we have crazy vowels: æ, ø an å. That was How I dealt with the puzzle this morning. Lad os se I morgen.

Wm C. 2:24 PM  

@Da Bears, '
Yeah I was on the amateur circuit for a while until I decided a boring career in business was more likely to feed my family :)

Charles kluepfel 2:34 PM  

NINE and FOUR are in a 5- cage, meaning they are supposed to subtract out to 5,and they do. Likewise a ONE and a TWO are in a cage where a division is supposed to come out as 2 and it does. There are indeed 9x9 KenKen, but they seem to be found only in books of KenKen collections. Monday through Saturday the xword page has a 4x4 and a 6x6 and Sunday a 5x5 and a 7x7.

Warren Howie Hughes 2:43 PM  

@Chaos344, Hello, My old friend, You touched upon the "Emu invested terrain" in your remarks, from which you recently fled. As you're no doubt well aware, yours truly has achieved 'Pariahood' (Like the new coinage?) in WP since late April, and there isn't the slightest indication I'll ever be permitted to comment, reply, or even recommend a fellow commenters submissions ever again on the Gray Lady's Hallowed Ground! I am, however, extremely grateful to partake in the gaiety Rex's Blog site provides, with Leapy, AliasZ, JFC, and your scintillating self to share sterling society with! Howie

Warren Howie Hughes 3:26 PM  

@Leapy, Here's a rather Wilde option for you to consider "The Importance of Being Inanest" I certainly hope you sorta fancy it?

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

AARP magazine sometimes uses letters instead of numbers in suduko. Using letters in a kenken would require a code. Not a bad idea.

woolf 3:43 PM  

One time, in the vegan section of my local megamart, I saw this product called "Bolo-no," with the slogan, "For vegetarians who love the taste of balogna!" I thought that was kind of funny, imagining throngs of vegetarians in turmoil, desperate for a crappy soy imitation version of a mediocre processed meat product.

This puzzle was the Balo-no of crossword puzzles.

michael 4:44 PM  

I disagree with the majority -- I enjoyed the puzzle. I do ken-kens regularly even though I don't find them nearly as interesting as crosswords (though I prefer them to sudoku). But this seems irrelevant -- the puzzle is understandable without solvers knowing anything about ken-ken. And I appreciated the originality of the puzzle as well as the constructors' ability to make the answers work with the clue numbers.

I did think this was considerably harder than the typical Tuesday and got stuck (though I shouldn't have) at sprit/Phu. But this didn't strike me as a bad thing -- Tuesdays are usually not all challenging for me.

My main point, however, is that people often comment about how blah and boring Tuesday puzzles are. Can't say that about this one! And that alone in my view makes this a worthwhile experiment.

Charles Flaster 4:45 PM  

Rex said it all!!

Carola 4:49 PM  

I enjoyed puzzling over this more-difficult-than-usual Tuesday. Seeing how two of the math problems worked helped speed things up for the remainder (and helped reveal TWAY, SIXTUS, and OXENBERG), although I had no idea what the connection was with KENKEN.

Meg 4:59 PM  

The KenKen is right next to the CW in the paper, so I saw that immediately.

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

I have a problem with square 2. Its inconsistent with other operators. Seems to me it reads one / two which is one half. Multiplication and addition are transitive whereas division and subtraction are not. Square 5 is correct as nine - four does equal 5.

Anonymous 5:31 PM  

I have a problem with square 2. Its inconsistent with other operators. Seems to me it reads one / two which is one half. Multiplication and addition are transitive whereas division and subtraction are not. Square 5 is correct as nine - four does equal 5.

Anonymous 6:06 PM  

There is no such word as reunes...why put such a dumb clue ?

Ed 6:20 PM  

You always express exactly how I feel about a puzzle. Bravo!

Glimmerglass 6:31 PM  

@ oldtimer. I've been saying "Christmas" all day, and pronouncing the T. My wife finally told,me, " For heaven's sake, let it go!"

Anoa Bob 7:08 PM  

Yep @Tita, GALOSH is one sore thumb of a SOC (singular of convenience). I think I've seen it before in a NYT grid. We do get several POCs to balance things out, e.g., SLEDGES.

And yep, the tool is a SLEDGEhammer. I own one, a well-used one at that. Years ago when I was a starving grad student, I heated my house with a fireplace in the living room and a warm morning wood burning stove in the kitchen. I cut the wood by hand with a crosscut saw and split the bigger pieces using a sledgehammer and wedges. I believe it was Thoreau who said that cutting fire wood warms you twice, once when you cut it and once when you burn it.

kitshef 9:22 PM  

Another paper solver who did not notice the symbols (well, I saw the + but figured it was a printing error). All the complaints I have about this mess have been covered, so I'll limit myself to I LOVE Catherine Oxenberg. In an era when most of the female stars were strangely thin/angular, she stood out as more ‘real'.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 10:54 PM  

Hated! Solved. But wondered why I bothered.

Anonymous 10:56 PM  

I agree with the earlier commenters Seth and Michael. This was fun and different ... and yes KenKen is right next to the crossword in the Times, I don't know how people could not be aware of its existence!

Lighten up, folks, and enjoy a bit of a change!

It would have been fun to have even more of the theme answers but that's a minor thing.

Da Bears 10:58 PM  

@Owie, nice to know you are still alive and spinning puns.

Cathi M 11:00 PM  

I feel so much better for having abandoned it now.

David Storrs 7:14 AM  

I have never commented on a puzzle and am in a real minority here. I hate the old style crosswords that ask for dictionary arcana (South American blackbird = arara)and much prefer the new approach of more imagination.
Anyone who doesn't know how KenKens work - come on, about as simple as anything can be but challenging in a different way.
And anyone who doesn't know Dien Bien Phu should learn more about one of America's most tragic periods, only 40 years ago.

rondo 9:40 AM  

@spacey - have you been enjoying prime time TV the last two nights with the Sinatra tribute and Scorpion, both featuring the luscious Ms. McPhee?

rondo 10:36 AM  

Found this puz easy to very easy. Our local papers don’t carry KENKEN, but when I travel I do those puzzles when available. Apparently, most commenters here can’t or won’t do more than word puzzles, so their minds can’t be that great. It’s a shame not to be well rounded enough to handle both. Too bad for you.

Ms. OXENBERG a definite yeah baby all the way. And ALI Kreiger is an athletic yeah baby who doesn’t mind posing without her uniform for those Body issues, check her out, it’s only a google away. EGAD!

I expect that @spacey will have something to say re: the SILENTT and XAXES.

I can picture stooge Moe saying, “Why I OUGHTA . . .”

I don’t care about the whiners, pretend it was a themeless then. I didn’t mind this puz at all.

Burma Shave 12:01 PM  


We BEFOULed the WURST saloon
and the GNU bar MANN had OUGHTA fixed us,
for NOLESS than EVEN a TEAM moon,


spacecraft 12:27 PM  

Let's just blow the whisSILENTTle and throw one giant hankie over the whole grid. OFL said it, he didn't. There's more, but I just won't bother.

Most inexplicable of all is the byline. I KNOW you guys are better than this; WAY better. And what of Will? Snoozing again, old man? You're a screen door with the screen torn out! WAKE UP! F. Wait, is there such a thing as F-?

Ginger 1:46 PM  

The @LMS / @Acme puzzle yesterday was all the fun that this monstrosity wasn't. My paper did not print the signs, I've not heard NOR seen a KENKEN, and tons of c*** fill, made for a time-wasting slog. Part of the problem was the anticipation for some good stuff when I saw the BEQ signature. I've enjoyed his entries in the past and on his web-site, so I was really disappointed this morning.

In a rush now, but will be back later to read the other comments.

rain forest 2:11 PM  

I'm one of the few (few but ripe, as Gauss would have said) who has never seen a KenKen but who liked this puzzle for its belligerence, creativity, and attempt to be different. Whatsa matta you people just because we get a word puzzle which is about a number puzzle. You get 365 puzzles in a year, and you gripe about something because it is, gasp, different.

And, for heaven's sake, what is the noise about the fill. There is nothing in there that is as bilious as some would have us believe. PHU, REE, MANN, OXENBERG--just dandy, in my opinion.

My only ?? is 23A. I can't figure out why IOTA is after 1D. Of course with the new and wonderful moderation, I'll never find out, will I? It's probably a head-slapper, but still, I wanna know. @Z, @M&A, @Lewis. Tell me!

rondo 2:27 PM  

@rain forest – Greek alphabet, . . . zeta, eta, THETA, IOTA, kappa, lambda, mu . . .


A Voice in the Chorus 3:20 PM  

@rain forest - IOTA is the Greek letter after THETA, which is the answer to 11 D, not 1 D.

leftcoastTAM 4:13 PM  

Rex has it right: "a befuddling slog."

@rain forest: probably answered by others a dozen or so times by now, but IOTA is after 11D, not 1D. (I had some problems myself with making out the arithmetic signs. Have to get my glasses checked.)

spacecraft 8:15 PM  

yes. @rondo; missed the Sinatra thing, but oh boy! that short skirt she had on last night! Hubba hubba! Katherine id indeed a "yeah baby of the first water, and the Scorpion series will thrive at LEAST as long as it takes for her and Walter to GET. IT. ON!

strayling 8:22 PM  

Ok, so I have 2 5 11 42

What am I supposed to do with them?

Anonymous 10:19 PM  

I don't care about kenken, but found this a perfectly reasonable Tuesday puzzle. Not great fill or cluing, but easy-peasy and moderately entertaining. Quite solvable while ignoring the theme, which I did. I'm particularly surprised at the complaints about the NE. C'mon, people, Dien Bien Phu was one of the seminal battles of the 20th century, as consequential as Waterloo in terms of geopolitics. You may not know much about the military history of Indochina, but anyone who claims to be aware of world events has to at least be aware of it. And SPRIT? Can a person have possibly read Robert Louis Stevenson and never have encountered the word bowsprit? The NE was was a cakewalk for anyone with a passing acquaintance with history and literature. So kwitcher whinin.

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