Capital of Roman province of Africa / FRI 4-1-16 / Actress Issa of Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl / Like blackjack hands with ace counted as 11 / Sister brand of Scope / Agrostologists study / His .366 lifetime batting average is best ever / Comedian who married Joyce Matthews / Gloaming to sonneteer / Darkness fall L Sprague de Camp novel

Friday, April 1, 2016

Constructor: Peter Gordon

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


Word of the Day: ANOSMIA (52A: Inability to sense smells) —
Anosmia (/ænˈɒzmiə/) is the inability to perceive odor or a lack of functioning olfaction—the loss of the sense of smell. Anosmia may be temporary, but some anosmia (including traumatic anosmia) can be permanent. Anosmia is due to a number of factors, including an inflammation of the nasal mucosa, blockage of nasal passages or a destruction of one temporal lobe. Inflammation is due to chronic mucosa changes in the paranasal sinus lining and the middle and superior turbinates. Since anosmia causes inflammatory changes in the nasal passageways, it is treated by simply reducing the presence of inflammation. It can be caused by chronic meningitis and neurosyphilis that would increase intracranial pressure over a long period of time, and in some cases by ciliopathy including ciliopathy due to primary ciliary dyskinesia (Kartagener syndrome, Afzelius' syndrome or Siewert's syndrome). Many patients may experience unilateral anosmia, often as a result of minor head trauma. This type of anosmia is normally only detected if both of the nostrils are tested separately. Using this method of testing each nostril separately will often show a reduced or even completely absent sense of smell in either one nostril or both, something which is often not revealed if both nostrils are simultaneously tested. // A related term, hyposmia, refers to a decreased ability to smell, while hyperosmia refers to an increased ability to smell. Some people may be anosmic for one particular odor. This is known as "specific anosmia". The absence of the sense of smell from birth is called congenital anosmia. (wikipedia)
• • •

The funniest thing about this puzzle is that the crossword is probably the ONLY part of the NYT that is reliably profitable. The very, very last thing you'd cut is the crossword. If you ended the crossword, the paper would take a massive financial hit. You think I'm kidding? I'm not. Not by a long shot. End the crossword puzzle? It's The Only Part Of The Paper They Sell Separately Because They Can. Dead-tree subscriptions would Plummet without the crossword. Budget Cuts!?!? LOL times one million. "Alas! We just can't spare that $300 to pay the crossword constructor!" I love that this puzzle was made by a man whose own puzzle (Fireball Crosswords—subscribe here) pays $301, a fee that is a straight-up middle finger to the NYT and its a. cheapness and b. claim to pay the most in the business (a claim made most recently here). So the April Fool isn't you, solver. It's the typical constructor who accepts being paid primarily in "prestige" and "cachet" while the NYT profits like mad. It's also the NYT for running a puzzle that is essentially making fun of the its own stinginess toward crossword constructors. Rest easy, solvers. THE NEW YORK TIMES / CROSSWORD PUZZLE / WILL END when hell freezes over, or Manhattan floats out to sea, whichever comes first.

Solving this puzzle was a weird experience. Since the theme is a made-up quotation, you have to work at it through the crosses, and it took a while for the thing to fill itself in. Puzzle wasn't hard, but it played a little choppy, as it's mostly short answers, and I had to run a lot of them before the quotation elements became clear. My first move was a straight diagonal across the grid, from NW to SE:

You can see that I inferred the word "YOU" on the second theme-answer line there. That ended up being wrong. But the rest of this is right, and I was able to slide across the bottom (via OCEANARIA (62A: Large marine fish tanks), a word I learned just this week while I was making one of my own puzzles...) and then fill in the missing parts of the grid from there. This is about the point when I was able to start making inferences about theme words. I was wrong about "YOU" there, but I was right about TOMORROW, and once I ditched that errant "U" on the second theme line and replaced it with the "R" from 36D: Overhaul (REDO), I saw immediately that the third theme line was CROSSWORD PUZZLE. Here's where the first big breakthrough came:

And onward from there. The non-theme stuff was smooth, but the theme is the only important element of this puzzle, and on April Fools Day, I guess that's OK.

Peter Gordon has a Kickstarter going for Fireball Newsflash Puzzles, puzzles that he writes to be as jam-packed with current events as possible. Great for those who keep up with the news and want ultra-fresh, high-quality puzzles. Get in on it here.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Dolgo 7:29 AM  

OK, ya got me, Shortz and Company, and I've been on the lookout for tricks like this for a LONG time. I guess there's no FOOL like an old FOOL!

Chuck McGregor 7:45 AM  

I did think going into it that there might/could/should be a 4/1 joke. However, SEDUCED by the solving challenges, that thought faded completely into the FOGGY reaches of the brain. In this all-too-serious mode, I was actually buying into the “message” as it unfolded.

However, I did not get the “WILL END” part until...well...the END. I was thinking it would be shorter, cancelled Saturdays, suspended, or something. Filling this in to complete the message, I had a somber moment indeed for a second or two as I filled in the “A” for NARE” to finish. Then the NYT pop-up popped up with “April Fools,” thus quickly discovering I’d summarily been had, hook, line, and sinker.

I’m glad I forgot it was an April 1 puzzle. Going from OMG! The puzzles WILL END somehow? to laughing at myself a moment later made my day. Was it a good puzzle otherwise? Don’t care. The gotcha alone made it great for me. It’s been quite a while since I was genuinely April Fooled.

As such it was, for me, a bona fide, well executed April Fool’s joke and I be the Fool.

Forsooth, I do fear I may be the only Fool who actually fell for it, but, by gosh, somebody had to do it.


PS Reading @Rex, after penning this, and learning of the real financial picture for the puzzles, I no longer feel like a fooled Fool. Idiot comes to mind. (sigh)

Nkptny 7:51 AM  

Easy for me. The hardest part was that it took a full 5 minutes for me to realize it was an April Fools theme. My app did not have the pop up...

johnnymcguirk 8:11 AM  

Great April Fools day puzzle. As for the reviewer, he is a tool. Once again he projects his inadequacies on others. So sad.

Kathy 8:17 AM  

Could someone please explain "2 letters" please? Thanks.

Gary 8:17 AM  

Loved it, solved it. But can someone explain 48A --2 letters = ABC?

Loren Muse Smith 8:31 AM  

Okie dokie. I'm sitting on the Tarmac at Dulles waiting to take off for NYC! Had to solve this in my phone. Ick. I don't know how people do this.

I thought I was so smart not to fall for "banana" by putting in "papaya." Hah.

Entering a comment on a phone is even worse, especially if your thumbs are like fat little Vienna sausages.

ACPT bound!

GILL I. 8:33 AM  

Damn ICBM.
CLOISONNE just slid in cool as my feet entering a freshly made bed. I think I have some of that stuff hiding around my jewelry box.
Cute, fresh, fairly easy puzzle. I suppose it's meant to elicit a HA HA or two.
ANOSMIA is not fun when you love to cook. Too much Fluticasone for allergies can cause you to OD on the garlic and cilantro.
I had a San Francisco boyfriend who owned an OCEANARIA. Actually, his entire apartment was filled with tanks. I was usurped by a fish...
Have fun at ACPT and you know we love updates and fotos.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

2 letters?

Roo Monster 8:50 AM  

Hey All !
Very cool to have an April Fools puz! As Rex said, you have to try to infer the message, but I also first got CROSSWORDPUZZLE, and then THENEWYORKTIMES. Neat that they are both 15s. Finished middle section first, then after SE corner, had MORROW, knew it'd be TOMORROW. In SW corner, actually got ANOSMIA first! Only reason for that is I used to be addicted to the TV show Scrubs (remember that show? Awesome, awesome show. Extremely well written and funny) and JD made a WAH-WAH joke about ANOSMIA. So finished S after that. N was the harder section. CLOISONNE a WOE, but managed to suss out BUDGET from B__G_T, as I had SaFe for SOFT screwing up the Downs. Which led me to DUETO, and the finish. Did the puz printed out, but might do online again just to get April Fools message like @Chuck McG!

At 29A, put in _A_A_A, thinking either pApAyA or bAnAnA. Turns out to be CASABA! That might've been another foolin?

Don't understand clue 2 letters. Does it mean letters you learn/know at 2 years old? Liked clue on SOUP. Also liked the low dreckness with a large theme.

So, very good, Peter Gordon. Didn't fool me, as I knew what day 'tis. Not only Fools day, but also my Mom's birthday! No foolin!

And me, in French. ROUE. Har!


Nancy 8:50 AM  

To Will Shortz: If you were anywhere near me right now, I cannot be held responsible for what I would do to you. But it would not be pretty. My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking by the time I was two thirds of the way through solving, and I was planning my outraged phone call to the NY Times cancelling my home delivery after 42 (but who's counting?) years. Now, Will, I have high blood pressure, and even though I take medication for it, this could NOT have been a good or a healthy experience for me. Of course, if I looked at dates like everyone else... But, of course, I don't. What relief I felt when I looked at the paper and saw it was April 1st. I have to say grudgingly that it was a brilliant stunt. But it was also exceedingly cruel. So a Happy April Fool's Day to you, Will, NOT!

Tita 8:52 AM  

Somehow I thought this was Thursday...maybe because I got robbed of my Thursday this week.

And yes, my brain knew full well that it was April 1, but it did in fact suspend that tidbit while solving, and I had more than a nanosecond of "Wait, what?" befor coming back to my senses. No, Virginia, the NYT will never eliminate its money maker.

I'm a bit disappointed that this was not a tricky puzzle, just a gotcha puzzle.

Where are all the fabric haters the hatred reserved only for MOIRE, but BROCADE gets a free pass?
It is pretty ritzy up there, with CLOISONEE nearby. Maybe the Marquis de Sade used it to SEDUCE the DOPER.

UTICA crossing IONA Is nice, and clue for SENOR is great.

This choice of theme does bring to the forefront the question of puzzle profits and profits vs value.

Well, off to prep.
See some of you tonight!

bro 8:57 AM  

Yup. I was about to email the nyt: "Then so will my 30+ year subscription!"
Then I remembered the date. Yuks galore!

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

There was a pop-up? If so, it didn't work on the phone app. This puzzle went fairly quickly - it only took a few critical crosses to realize what the theme answers were. I had a moment of, "Wait...what?..." before the April 1st connection sunk in.

Clever, a little on the nose, but overall I enjoyed the joke.

Leapfinger 9:02 AM  

Just a quick pre-feature (rather like the Looney Toons before the movie yusta be)

@Chuck McG, re your 'Flotsam and jetsam = Double debris'
Didn't want to go all technical (again) about the identity of 'flotsam and jetsam' but have to say that 'double debris' sounded pretty damn painful to me. Till I remembered (heh) it could happen 7 days after birthing twin Jewish boys.

DoubleMince gum

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Could someone explain the answer to 48 across? Thanks!

Unknown 9:14 AM  

Easy for Friday.
I did not panic as I realized the date.
And if the NYT ever stopped the puzzle I would cancel in a flash.

Rex Parker 9:19 AM  

[2 letters] = numbers on the "2" key of your phone


Debra 9:19 AM  

Sounds like constructors deserve a raise, but if the puzzle keeps the newspaper going, that's a good thing, no?

Steve M 9:23 AM  

Found it fun and easy and no I don't get 48across either

Hartley70 9:23 AM  

I'm jealous that @Chuck got a pop-up! That must have been surprising, but it didn't happen on my device. There is more entertainment to be had over at Wordplay, however, where the constructor notes have a meta, as do the comments by Deb Amlen.

I didn't fall for this, but I throughly enjoyed the tricksters' efforts. Thanks!

David 9:30 AM  

As an amateur solver I typically am stymied on Fridays (and simply laugh at Saturdays). What a fantastic April Fool's surprise for me - got the entire theme answer in about 5 min (a lucky guess) and finished the fill in another 20. Fastest Fri ever! Too bad it's the last one... ;-)

Pete 9:44 AM  

Man, last evening was a major disappointment for me. First I get a Wednesday puzzle in place of a Friday puzzle (I beat my previous best Friday time by over 25%). Second, I had an idea a few weeks ago, one that would make me rich. I cancelled my cable TV years ago and live on streaming services, as between equipment rental and actual content fees I was paying >$100/month for about $40/month of actual service. My idea was an internet based cable service, just stream whatever shows you want over Roku / Apple / Chrome streaming devices, and avoid all equipment costs to the customer, as well as installation and maintenance costs for wiring every damned house in your service area. Just contract with the content providers, put the service in the cloud, and rake in the money.

So, disappointed in the puzzle but still dreaming of the untold riches about to accrue to me, I went to watch some tube, only to find that Sling Television was up and running, performing the exact service I was about to offer.

Thus, I face the day in the exact position the NYTimes would be in if this weren't an April Fools joke: How to make a decent income when the world that has passed you by. I wish us both luck.

Z 9:45 AM  

Thank you @Rex Parker. I've seen those phone clues before, but I, too, was head scratching.

Saw "somber" in the clue and immediately thought, "What April Fools bull hockey are we going to get?" Some of the cluing was precious, but over-all this was a sloggy solve for a not especially funny "prank." I had such high hopes when I saw the byline, but it was not to be.

I do have to disagree with Rex on one thing, history is resplendent with businesses that did incredibly stupid things. We even have a phrase for it, penny wise pound foolish (dollar foolish if you want to be all American about it). The local Fox station in Detroit is apparently experiencing it right now, where the national corporation is cutting popular local news people to meet their quarterly goals. Yes, the NYTX is a money maker, but never underestimate people's capacity for stupidity.

Aketi 9:55 AM  

@Nancy, the vision of you going after Will Shortz with a tennis racket in hand made my day, especially after last night's conversations Sbout how underpaid constructors are and by the fact that they don't get royalties when their puzzles appear in books. I knew it was April Fool's thanks to a coversation at the other end of the table last night and got the theme quickly.

To all the puzzles constructors, instead of YOU DESERVE A BAKER TODAY, it should be YOU DESERVE A RAISE TODAY.

Amie Devero 9:57 AM  

Thank Rex. Feeling stupid and chastened.

Roo Monster 9:57 AM  

DOH! *Major head slap*
Thanks Rex, for 'splainin the 2 letters clue. Sometimes unfathomable to think how fast technology advances, to the point that a bunch of us forgot about the phone keys/letters connection. Man.

Good Luck and Good Fun to y'all at the ACPT. If you see Will Shotrz, can you ask him why he hates me? Re: puz rejections... :-)


chefbea 10:14 AM  

I normally don't do Friday puzzles but decided that todays might have something to do with April fool's day. Am glad I did it
Great puzzle!!! Now to get out my stock and make some soup!!!

Maruchka 10:15 AM  

@Nancy's response sums it up. When WILL filled the first four squares of 60A, I thought there might be a Shortz play on words. Oh, no, it got very scary fast. April Fool's ain't no joke when it comes to the puzz. Whew!

ICBM/SCUD, elbow/STRAW (useful only for Margaritas and such like).

Fav of the day - OCEANARIA. If the Monterey Bay Aquarium's is that, it's the best I've seen.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

The New York Times Book Review is also sold separately from the newspaper.

Jen Brooks 10:23 AM  

It's the letters on the 2 button on a phone.

Mike Burke 10:26 AM  

Got me!

DBlock 10:31 AM  

I refused to finished because I was getting physically ill at the thought of losing the favorite part of my day
I hate pranks, practical jokes etc
I particularly loathe April 1-- it was my parents wedding anniversary (today would have been 65 years) so I see nothing but joy on this day
Grateful to have the write up or I wouldn't have realized the 'joke'
Not funny although puzzle fairly easy

Warren Howie Hughes 10:35 AM  

I say, Rex, old top, What with all the "easy" designations you've been rating the NYTimes Xword P's of late, shouldn't you have moved up to being, at the very least, the 5th leading Crossword Puzzle Solver in the Universe

doorslam 10:40 AM  

Oh, duh. Thanks @Rex!

Alysia 10:41 AM  

Thank you. :) I usually get these, but today it seemed to elude me.

Thank You Josh 10:42 AM  

Puzzle related: I work in a high school special needs classroom so I was absolutely aware of today being April Fools well before I started this puzzle. Having kids scream horrible "pranks" at you for 20 minutes with no sense of timing ("MY-IPAD-IS-BROKEN-APRIL-FOOLS-HEY-THERES-A-SPIDER-APRIL-FOOLS") before 8 AM really drills it into you. So I caught on to the gist of the theme right away. I solved the theme answers bottom-to-top weirdly enough and I'm proud to say that I got DUE TO BUDGET CUTS with exactly 1 cross. Beat my Friday record on this puzzle.

Not related to this puzzle: Rex, your write up inspired me to finally subscribe to fireball crosswords. Looking forward to it. Happy to support independent puzzles.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

Thanks Rex, for the 48A explanation!

demit 11:14 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle, except for having immediately put down ELBOW for Drinker's bender, and stubbornly leaving it there far too long because, even though I could see it wasn't going to be the answer, I thought it should've been.

ArtO 11:41 AM  

Too many folks without much of a sense of humor, including OFL. Please lighten up.

Went in looking for the April 1 theme and sure enough it came through. Well done!

puzzle hoarder 11:45 AM  

The real news is not how easy of a Friday puzzle this was or that anyone even momentarily bought the theme or even @Rex confirming what a cheap pack of 1%ers I think Will Shortz and the NYT are. No the big news is that the hoarder has paid his 20$ and learned how to use xwordinfo. This is like giving a machine gun or a flame thrower to a monkey. I'm on this mission to develop , and objective method of determining the difficulty level of a puzzle. It's time consuming and rather crude but effective. I take the number of times each entry has appeared in the Shortz era (keeps the numbers smaller) add them all up and then divide that number by the total word number. The ratio this produces is a crude yardstick of the puzzles' difficulty. The bigger the number the easier the puzzle and vice versa. So far it seems to match the weekly gradient of difficulty. This method can also allow you to really analyze a puzzle. Today's is like two puzzles in one. The 15 character themers force it into a horizontal configuration and the Shortz downs kill the difficulty level. The across ratio excluding the themers is 48.5. For the downs it's 63.22 (yes I use a calculator) that's a significant difference. I don't know if Mr. Gordon knew this was going to be a Friday April Ist puzzle but the longer across nontheme entries are where the puzzle really shines and rises to the late , week level. CLOISONNE and OCEANARIA are Shortz debuts. GRASSES and ANOSMIA have only appeared once before. On the longer downs he does quite well too,WEBINAR 2,TIERACK 4,BROCADE 6. STAMEN is fairly common but the filament clue is something of a kicker. Xwordinfo allowed me to see how filament is a recurring clue with STAMEN. This is like a lifter discovering steroids. Pardon the TMI but expect regular difficulty ratio updates.

MissouriMule 11:50 AM  

As to profits. Every business does a loss leader. For newspapers like the Times, that might mean the opera news. If the profits from the crosswords move to the assets column and help support other information and entertainment efforts, that's the way we get what else is good about the Times. Like the physician who feels entitled to compensation for years in if there was no choice. No one forces the creation of a crossword either. If a perfect world? Everyone's value provides comfort and recognition.

A Martin 11:58 AM  

I had to believe it was an April Fool but got no pop up, and until I was able to load Rex's page had no confirmation for my belief. To make it more frustrating, I just paid my yearly fee for the subscription and was furious that they would take my money and cancel the only puzzle I do! Thanks for lowering my blood pressure.

Lewis 12:07 PM  

Miss the @loren exegesis today, but we will be repaid in spades, I'm guessing, with her reflections on the tourney.

At first I though it was going to be difficult because things weren't filling in, but the theme answers filled in with relatively few crosses, and that was that. Loved the prank, but I did get a popup that said April Fools! -- and the prank could be a mean one to those who didn't get that popup (hi, @Nancy!). Wonderful clues for STRAW, SOUP, AREA, AERATE, as well as some terrific answers: BROCADE, RIOTACT, UPROOT, WEBINAR.

So, was Uncle Miltie's wife ANTE BERLE? On April Fools it is appropriate that BELOW is above, and that the symmetrical puzzle mate of TWOS (which are evens) is ODDS. I'm guessing the Zika virus is bringing some new elements to RIO TACT.

Fun puzzle from top to bottom from one of the best!

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

Easiest Friday ever at 11 minutes and I had kept in mind today's date so even though the message in the puzzle gave me a momentary frisson of unease, I knew in my head that it was all a big joke. Not funny, but a joke all the same.

So are people who were SEDUCEd by the joke DOPERs? Not at all. Fear makes the brain FOGGY and UPROOTS one's ability to think clearly. So if you are tempted to read Will Shortz the RIOT ACT, (hi @Nancy) I say go ahead and don't LET UP! Or you could choose to take a soothing SITZ bath (just don't tell me about it, TMI) and AERATE some nice chicken SOUP LEST you allow your blood pressure to SOARs.

Now that I have proven to be an April Fool, I will wish all at the tourney good luck.

Thanks Peter Gordon, for the jolt.

Fred Romagnolo 1:26 PM  

Thanks, Rex, for 48 across; I figured it to be either B or m, but couldn't figure out why for either. WEBINAR could have been WEmINAR. I was not familiar with the term.

Chip Hilton 1:42 PM  

Like @ArtO, I figured there'd be an April Fool theme, so no heart palpitations here. Fun solve, even though I had no idea on the ABC clue nor WEBINAR.

Happy April everyone.

Masked and Anonymous 1:52 PM  

First of all, bah, re: "Easy-Medium". Easy, if U is a medium, who can foresee each answer, maybe.

I mean, I did pretty much cruise (in M&A-relative terms), down as far as the 40-A CROSSWORDPUZZLE line. Then, big big trouble brewin, below that.
Bullets, freshly removed from my easy-medium lily-white puzbottom:
* OCEANwhatsit + ANOIdontknowthat. This effectively sealed up the SW side of the puzbottom.
* 50-A: {Pennsylvania, and others: Abbr.}. I was sure it was AVE. Especially since…
* 51-D: {Drinker's bender?} = ELBOW. Which had to be gold, as it crossed both AVE's E and SWABS's W. This was deemed solid money in the bank. Especially since …
* 44-D: {Pulls out} = UNVEILS fits snuggly in that hot mess just fine. So ,,, ok, the SE puzbottom is now royally screwed up.

Little things, at that point in the proceedings, began to torture the M&A:
* ?BS = 48-A's {2 letters}. Didn't have a prayer. Had some great desperate theories, tho.
* SO?N = 46-A's {You might put stock in it}. SOON? SOWN? SOIN? Somethin is definitely smellin bad, in this baby's puzbottom. M&A does the stink eye. Time for a change. But which part do U back out? Meanwhile, desperate sweat beads begin to form, as each precious nanosecond loudly, relentlessly, ticks off the atomic clock…
* ??EL??? = {Vigorous reprimand}? KEELING? N??B = {(Dude with .366 average)}?
* Final ruling of death: Everything is ok, except for SWABS. Erase SWABS.

Crack in the puzbottom problem: Finally realized that the final themer was probably WILL???TOMORROW. After discarding the obvious ??? = (SH)(RI)(NK) rebus solution, M&A SOFT&FOGGY brain came up with END, and the rest was cleanup. Massive cleanup, I'll grant. BP oil-spill-level cleanup. (Except in my case, I finished it.)

Fun and feisty, Mr. Gordon. Let this be a lesson, to other constructioneers. If yer gonna labor away 13 years to write up a NYTPuz, save up at least 007 U's, for the occasion. And have a cheery message to pass on, as a theme. rodeo. Thanx, Fireballboy.

So, hey -- tomorrow's it, huh? Grand Finale, dudes & dudettes & dudepersons.
Agent 007-U will … oh … Will not return?

Masked & Anonym007Us

Due to budget cuts, some runtpuz links may not work right:

Gregory Schmidt 2:11 PM  

Wow, IONA. A tiny Catholic college 20 miles north of NYC, with a whopping 4,000-student enrollement, which only a native New Yorker who has applied to all the colleges in the state would have ever heard of. Seems like kind of a "snootiest, most elitist and exclusionary kind of crossword clue".

Alby 2:30 PM  

Left the puzzle unfinished yesterday, reeling from a couple cocktails, then found to my horror that the NW corner still looked unsolvable in the light of day and with a mild hangover. Then I made one of those miraculous connections that sometimes happen when one does the crossword: I remembered the beautiful BROCADE skirts I saw on farmer girls in Laos. Puzzle falls.

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

What the heck is a casaba?

OISK 4:48 PM  

Sitting outside in 78 degree weather, and the puzzle was a lovely companion. No complaints from me!

Chuck McGregor 5:02 PM  

@Leapy 9:02 AM: Technically or any otherly-wise, I’m not a constructor. So beware. Any clues or answers I make up in any context are fully capable of inflicting pain on even the least-hardened cruciverbalist.

I’d wager most people don’t know the accidental/purposeful distinction between flotsam and jetsam. It’s all just debris on the sea.….Even less likely would they know the accidental/purposeful distinction between those twins if the plan was for one and the two arrived (heh).


KevCo 5:02 PM  

I actually caught on to the theme/trick very quickly because I started in the SE and had "-rro-," which I thought would become "error," and so thought to myself "Oh, they're going to tell us there is an error in the puzzle somewhere, but there won't be one...April Fool's." Obviously, that didn't pan out, but it put me on the right track. I liked this puzzle. Didn't love it, but it was nice enough.

And to those asking "2 letters" -- "ABC" refers to the letters on the 2 button of the phone. I've seen this clue several times. "5 letters...6 letters" It's always the same payoff though. You know it's coming because they use the numeral instead of spelling out "two" and the answer always has three spaces.

Masked and Anonymous 5:03 PM  

@Roo: Check it out … NYTimes paid M&A *not* to publish this, as today or tomorrow's mini-puz!* (U can do the math, based on its size, on how much of the full $300 they paid.) I think this is yer way to go, for makin the moneybucks on NYTPuzs.



*p.s. Well, full disclosure: They wouldn't pay the $33.33 this time. But after this here comment, they'll know I mean business, in the future. har

Tim Aurthur 5:22 PM  

@Rex this may be your funniest rant yet.

A few weeks ago on the NPR Sunday puzzle segment, Will Shortz was asked about the plagiarism scandal at USA Today. Part of his answer was admitting that constructors get paid horribly (i.e., the motive for the plagiarism wasn't money), and WS sounded genuinely embarrassed admitting this. I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt and think he's not the cheapskate and that the NYT management is. What would argue against that would be to find out that he's getting an enormous salary to the detriment of the constructors. I don't know that; if anyone has any info, please let me know.

Andy Nelson 6:28 PM  

you mean my answer for large marine fish tanks was wrong? Orcapools! Ha ha! I guess orcas aren't fish, but I l ike my answer better.

jae 6:34 PM  

An easy end to a mostly easy week (except Tues.) and a nice Apr. 1 chuckle.

CLOISONE was a WOE as were RAE and UTICA as clued.

No erasures.

PURIM reminds me of the movie "For Your Consideration" from the same folks that brought you "Best in Show".

Fun one, liked it.

Leapfinger 7:39 PM  

In all años mia, I don't think I've seen a better-executed 4/1 puzzle. In passing, I'd like all tilde-philiacs to note the lengths I went to avoid being rear-ended.

@GILL, funny that you were usurped by A Fish. Was she Called Wanda, I wonder? I know, I'm scaling new depths, but think I'm finished now, 'pon my sole.

@paulsfo, re yesterday's doubt about any such thing as a "double Natick"...
Am proposing some evil constructor who would cross two obscure names with a third obscurity. What else would you call that -- in polite company?

Wanted 'murky' before FOGGY and thought [Closet organizer] should've clued for NEAT_FREAK. Hand up for being disarmed by STRAW in place of the expected ELBOW.
Looked for SEAQUARIA in the SW and some kind of TOLEWORK in the NE. When that resolved, I had to mumble CLwah-son-aye/ CLoy-son-aye several times before moving on.

Extra Points for ROUE crossing SEDUCED and (for the foot-weary) SOAR DOGS;
RIO TACT underlined the niceness of Brazilian friends, along with Bahia TACT and
São Paulo TACT
Saying Agrosolongogists study GRASSES skirts the issue.
BROC_ADE is the new drink for down-and-outers

You SHORE threw some nice BERLEs before us, P Gordon. I hope you're back soon, if it's not ASPEN too much.

@Warren Howie Hughes, glad you popped in today. Hope the Bard of Quincy revelled in the recent Welshness and is having a Happy WHH Day on the Banks of Old Muddy!

Anonymous 8:34 PM  

I am so very relieved to be reminded of the date. It's the main reason I'm willing to pay a zillion bucks a month for this paper. Love it!

jberg 11:28 PM  

Fortunately, I'd read Seth Godin's blog before trying the puzzle, so I was primed for an April fool -- still didn't get it until my solve was halfway through. Solving in the paper, though, nothing popped up at the end. They could have done it -- my son and his wife sent us a card that popped up just the other day.

I had ICBM before SCUD -- griping inside that ballistic missiles are not 'guided,' but then, the SCUD is intermediate range, not long-range, in my understanding. Fired from Iraq to Israel in the second Gulf war, but not from Iraq to, say, London.

For some reason, while thinking REAM for 65A I wrote in REAp instead, which led me to put in ROmp instead of ROAM, and wind up with OCEANARIm, wondering about the lack of a U. If I'd noticed the clue was plural, I might have spotted the error, but as it was, DNF. Still a fun April Fool's puzzle!

Anonymous 1:00 AM  

DNF. One square wrong. No clue about what had a filament. Definitely no clue about the clinical name for a lack of a sense of smell.


DavidB 9:06 AM  

First of rex is awesome. And this is no place for personal insults. If you have a different take, let's hear it.

Andrew Gordon 9:19 AM  


the redanman 10:43 AM  

Unfair. Had to Google the Jewish Holiday. Otherwise, about as easy as Friday gets. Happy Spring, y'all

Joan Weisblatt 11:16 AM  

Anonymous I feel your pain

Raphael 11:58 AM  

FWIW, SCUDs aren't guided missiles -- they're ballistic missiles with no terminal guidance systems...

Sal Pfeffer 12:21 PM  

Fun puzzle and fun puzzle commentary. And good for you, Rex, for socking it to the NYT for their parsimony and profiteering: well roared!

kishef 4:14 PM  

Couldn't imagine it was true, but as I solved the puzzle on the morning of Monday, April 4 in vacation catch-up mode, I suppose I have an excuse for not realizing the date of the puzzle.

Hand up for needing the 2 letter explanation (thank you, @Rex). CLOISONNE was, and I suspect will be next time I see it, a complete WoE.

The best puzzle of the three I've done since returning from Boston, though alas too easy for a (normal) Friday. On puzzles where the date matters I get that you can't be too choosy.

Burma Shave 12:08 PM  


but ODDS are it WILLENDTOMORROW , you see,
I licked her OLD CLOISONNE and NICE SOFT loving cup,
then came the RIOTACT, “There will no more ORALB!”


eastsacgirl 12:11 PM  

In Syndiland, our paper had a disclaimer that "this puzzle was originally published 4-1-16" which in itself should have been a giveaway. Literally flew through the puzzle with no hiccups even though my brain didn't connect April Fools Day. Obviously knew it couldn't be true since I'm on this web site almost every day. Thought for a second though that it was our local paper that was not going to run it anymore. Very clever but extremely easy. At least I don't have to write a nasty letter to the Sacramento Bee since it's the only reason I subscribe.

LongBeachLee 12:53 PM  

Glad i do syndicated, or I too may have panicked until I realized the date.

rondo 1:01 PM  

I learned 3 new words today (ANOSMIA, CLOISONNE, and OCEANARIA), but that did not prevent a cleanly filled grid in a reasonably quick time. No April foolin’.

I guess Issa RAE is the yeah baby by default, though I wouldn’t be able to pick her out of a lineup. She must be the new Charlotte___ or Norma___.

OLE’S here again, but still no “Sven PAL” clue.

Had a friend whose dad was a real womanizer and he had a houseboat on the SHORE of the St. Croix River called the “Sea Deuce” where he, of course, SEDUCED the ladies. No point to that except I can never see the word SEDUCE without picturing that boat.

Quite the April Fools joke, but I think OFL was pretty much on the money as he SITZ and MOCS THENEWYORKTIMES.

Old Gambler 2:37 PM  

Two glaring factual errors in this puzzle, crossing each other! 1. In blackjack, the ace can be counted as 1 or 11, so a hand that contains an ace, e.g. 6 A, can be counted as 7 or 17. This is called a SOFT 17, since taking another card cannot break you. Counting the ace as 11 turns the hand into a "hard" 17. 2. As @Raphael pointed out, a SCUD missile is "shoot and forget", and in no way is it a guided missile.

Old Gambler 2:52 PM  

P.S. For those still reading 5 weeks later, go read Peter Gordon's constructor comments at, and as Jeff Chen points out, check out the first letter in each sentence of the commentary. Brilliant!!

Elizabeth Trimble 4:01 PM  

SO glad someone asked this question (and that someone else knew the answer)!! Clever.

Diana,LIW 4:39 PM  

Having noticed that yesterday's puzzle was from March 31st, I was prepared for some combo of Feisty Friday and April Fool's Day. Thought it quite clever, and was amazed at how many solvers had at least a momentary "gotcha."

Bought a car one April 1. Saw the dealer at lunchtime, told him to have it ready by 5. On the way home I bought a piece of cake for my DH. (Hadn't told him I was buying the car.) Once home, I asked him to help me with the groceries - "the trunk is open." Trunk, same color as old car, didn't give away the secret. Husband put hand on trunk and thought, "Huh! She had the car washed and waxed." (I never ask for his help with the groceries, and I never, well, seldom, have the car washed. There are reasons why one of hubby's nicknames is "Oblivious Man.") Came back in the kitchen, related the above, and then noted that I had the car painted as well. ;-) He was shocked. (And pleased. He's always on my case to buy a new car.) Best April Fool's joke ever.

Hand up for being caught on the ABC clue, 2. Duh!

And I do believe that BANANA was the real April Fool's joke.

An otherwise clean fill for me, so of course it gets rated easy. I think I'll change my name to the Rodney Dangerfield of Crosswords - my solves get no respect!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for at least a medium rating

rain forest 4:53 PM  

As a syndi-ite, rarely am I aware of the date of publication unless it is Christmas or some other holiday. Today was no exception, and only when I finished did I realize when this puzzle came out. Good one!

Got the NW and NE quickly, stalled for a while, then went down to the SE and very confidently put in "elboW", and SWABS, and tried to work with that. It was pretty obvious that 'elbow' was wrong, and inferring TAE BO got me STRAW, and things went reasonably smoothly thereafter. Resisted SCUD because I didn't think it was "guided", but BUDGET CUTS was clearly correct.

ANOSMIA (?) had me for a bit but the other answers meant I had to accept that disorder. Sometimes, anosmia might be a boon, no?

I no longer have ties, so I guess no closet organizer, dang it.

leftcoastTAM 5:16 PM  

Fun puzzle, and easy because of the theme until I got down south, where it got tougher. There, I Naticked at the WEBINeR/OCEANeRIA cross, settling for the "e" instead of "A".

I went with ABC without knowing why until I came here.

Not bad for a Friday.

Unsatisfied 2:26 AM  

No ANOSMIA here! This stinks! Way too easy! It's Friday. I want a Friday challenge.

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