Failure to sneeze / THU 4-21-16 / Brilliantly blue / Textbook market shorthand / Drunk's woe / Redheads book lovers maybe / Title figures in Gilbert Sullivan opera / Nevada county with part of Death Valley National Monument

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Constructor: Alex Bajcz

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: SST to SD — ST- goes to D- at the front of the second word in two-word phrases where first word ends in -S, creating wacky near-homophones, clued "?"-style:

Theme answers:
  • BLUEGRASS DATE (19A: Romantic night in Kentucky?) (Bluegrass State)
  • NOSE DUD (4D: Failure to sneeze?) (nose stud)
  • PLEASE DAY (34A: "Come on, Doris"?) (please stay)
  • FALSE DART (41A: Counterfeit Dodge?) (false start)
  • CHILDREN'S DORY (57A: Fishing boat at summer camp?) (children's story)
  • ICE DORM (45D: Student housing in Fairbanks?) (ice storm)
Word of the Day: Harvey MUDD College (8D: Harvey ___ College) —
Harvey Mudd College (HMC) is a private residential liberal arts college of science, engineering, and mathematics, founded in 1955 and located in Claremont, California, United States. It is one of the institutions of the contiguous Claremont Colleges, which share adjoining campus grounds. The college's mission is: "Harvey Mudd College seeks to educate engineers, scientists, and mathematicians well versed in all of these areas and in the humanities and the social sciences so that they may assume leadership in their fields with a clear understanding of the impact of their work on society." (wikipedia)
• • •

I woke up to this in my Twitter feed:

This never happens. That is to say, this kind of immediate collective outcry about a single answer, this kind of anguish, this kind of astonishment that is so keen you have to shout it at someone the second you're finished—people do shout their puzzle displeasure at me from time to time, because they know I'll understand, if not agree, but to wake up to this kind of singular unanimity: weird. So it was with trepidation and an odd excitement that I dug into today's puzzle, wondering if the answer would have the same impact on me. As I saw 25-Down coming together, my only thought was "... no ... it's not ..." but because other people had already BORNE the impact of that one, I laughed instead of some more violent reaction. How can you not have known that putting that answer in your puzzle would render Everything Else You Did In Your Puzzle virtually invisible. I think this is a relatively novice constructor, so I'll forgive the very common new-constructor thing where you overlook really bad fill because Holy @&$%! I actually built a grid that's fillable! But the editor should've been like "Uh, fix that. Please. Now."

Theme is pretty ho-hum. I think it must have been deemed acceptable (or deemed Thursday, at any rate) because of theme density (i.e. you get those extra Down themers in the NW and SE). There is a Bit of a problem with the answers where the "S" is actually more of a "Z" sound—the homophone part works a lot less well in those cases. That is, PLEASE DAY sounds like PLEASE DAY, not "please stay," and NOSE DUD, well, that second "D" was my last letter and I still didn't get it. I just kept saying NOSE DUD over and over to myself until it dawned on me the base phrase was supposed to be "nose stud," which a. is a million times less familiar / common as a phrase than the others, and b. has the "Z" problem mentioned above, which kills the sound gag.

  • HERSHEL (7D: ___ Greene, character on "The Walking Dead") — gave up on that show after season 1. Had HERSHEY there for a bit.
  • POWERED ON (11D: Booted, say) — had POWERED UP. This made the SKYEY section more ... I don't know, SKYEY?
  • ET TU (51A: "I thought you had my back!") / GUN SHY (48SD: Nervous and apprehensive) — "ET TU" is never not facetious in modern parlance, so a "facetiously" would've been appreciated. As for GUN SHY, I needed every cross and then thought it was a one-word adjective pronounced "GUN'-shee"; I mean, you've already got SKYEY, so why not?
  • TYPE (27D: Redheads or book lovers, maybe) — still not sure about this. Is this a dating thing? Like, a kind of woman (man?) you tend to be attracted to? It's a weird, weird clue.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld



[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Nickyboy 6:29 AM  

I was going to make a comment about 25D, but I see that everyone else has had the same incredulous reaction as me. I am going to use it 4 times today in a sentence, and I will bet you I get four really weird looks in return. Stay tuned!

Grace Lee 6:43 AM  

I hated 25 down! Never heard of it...hope it never shows up again!! Ugh.

Loren Muse Smith 6:58 AM  

Yeah, ok. So I thought I had made some mistake that led to SKYEY. But I’m fascinated to see it's a real word. Hah! Can a tempeh be too soyey? Bluegrass too hayey? (And I guess the consensus yesterday was that a hat trick isn't playey enough.) Cool that this adjective shares the grid with ISH.

And of course, I had "masseuse" before MASSAGER. And "hoe" before BEE.

I'm convinced that clue/entry dupes are just not the deal breakers I had thought I was supposed to believe they were. And I loved the clue for STEAL, anyway. Does "home" there really interfere with SEE HOME?

Where oh where is @Steve J? I love themes that mess with pronunciation. Love them. I'm powerless not to play around with this idea. And once I started kicking this around, I realized how tight this theme is. I’m sure Rex picked up on this immediately, but it took me a while to see that you can’t have things like “pig’s DYE” or “chicken’s dock” because that first word has to end in an S or Z sound. And “gas dove” doesn’t work because of the pronunciation change.

The fear of being called toadyey has never stopped me. I liked this trick a lot.

Anonymous 6:59 AM  

I never abandon a matter how difficult, easy or groan-worthy...but, today...entering skyey!?!?!?...I wanted to walk away...just didn't want to bother wasting my time or effort filling in such bad fill....please bring back the greatness of the NYT puzzle that used to make me proud to say I finish these puzzles...ugh

Lewis 7:10 AM  

Since I'm guessing everyone's going to talk about SKYEY -- and let's do that and never talk about it again, that is, may it never appear again -- I'll focus on other aspects of the puzzle. Answers I liked include GUNSHY, PROTEGE, MOPPED (as clued), and OILTYCOON. I think the INSTORES is not precise enough, as items can indeed be in stores while still on tv or online. I do like the backward KAY crossing ELK. And MOPPED up, indeed, is. I wanted "naifs" for 1D and that held me up.

I liked the theme and theme density. I rarely feel like one bad choice in the making of a puzzle irreversibly stains that puzzle, but 25D was simply too mistakey for my tastes.

Anonymous 7:21 AM  

Anybody else have SPAZ crossing AZURE? :)

dmw 7:39 AM  

For me this is an example of a puzzle that, at first I wonder if I am going to get anything, then it all comes together pretty well, and the theme helps me solve it. These are all good things, so I liked it.

CFXK 7:53 AM  

"When twilight came I had vaguely wished some clouds would gather, for an odd timidity about the deep skyey voids above had crept into my soul."
H.P. Lovecraft, The Colour Out of Space

Though not sure how that translates into BRILLIANTLY BLUE....

Chris 8:11 AM  

I'm a redhead and a book lover, so that clue had me stumped and apprehensive
. When it became obvious that TYPE was the answer my fears were confirmed. Way to make me feel objectified NYT!

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

One of the things I like about doing the NYT xword is that I often learn stuff. And it is a fun way to learn. So today I got the surprise of my life to learn that "skyey" is an actual word and had some fun researching the word and its use. Why so much complaining about learning a new word? You don't have to actually use the word but knowing it exists is, IMO, a plus. This old dog enjoys learning new tricks!

So, quit yer bellyachin' and revel in the fact that you learned something new today.

Z 8:22 AM  

This was not a DNF, it was a DIF? Sadly, I had finished. I was having a discussion on Twitter last night with a couple of prominent constructors about fill and "constructor shaming." One of them pointed out that, of course, constructors want the Best Fill Possible. I agree. Which, in my opinion, puts it on editors to determine when BFP has been achieved. This is Bajcz's 2nd published NYTX. I put SKYEY on Shortz.

After yesterday's "debate" I thought I might spend a few days counting up the non-OWM* stuff in a few puzzles. Let's see what we have today:
A SLED from Frozen
WOODY from Toy Story
Doris DAY
Marco Rubio (although, to be perfectly candid, we kicked him out of "Hispanic" ages ago, so I almost didn't count him)

So our non-OWM count includes movies aimed at OWM's grandkids, a film star ogled by OWMs, one of the most powerful media stars of the past 30 years, and a Republican (AKA - the AOWM party). So I guess you can put the count at 5, but there's a case to be made that this puzzle is 100% Old White Males.

Sigh. How about a Wake Me Up.

*You want PPP, too? Today's is low, just 15/74. But then you knew it was low, didn't you?

Z 8:26 AM  

@LMS - Lions and Viking fans' name for Packer fans.

Tim 8:28 AM  

I really wanted SKYEY to be read "Skye-y", as in "like the shade of Skye blue". Hope against hope. Turns out "Skye blue" is apparently not a thing after all, so my desperation failed me. Well, Google tells me "Skye Blue" is an actress, but not the sort of actress you'd expect to appear in the NYT puzzle, if you catch my drift.

Easy fix: change GEEK / BEARD / SKYEY / WINDY to GELT / BLARE / STYES / WINES. Presto!

My guess is that the constructor (and Will) thought this was one of those entertainingly cheeky answers where the solvers would be entertained at how silly the answer is. It's a fine line to walk and I actually admire the ambition. It didn't work out this time. Not a big deal.

Unless, of course, some poor sap uses it again, in which case, oh gosh, may the lord have mercy on their soul.

Joseph Welling 8:32 AM  

Other than SKYEY: INSTORES does not mean not sold online or on TV. POWEREDON is not the same thing as booted. And then there's MASSAGER . . .

jberg 8:37 AM  

Yeah. I won't even mention it. So I'll just say that I figured Vitamin World must be one of these new-fangled stadiums named for a commercial brand. Once I had the GN_ at 48A, the logical conclusion was that there was now a team in some sport called the GNUs. That didn't last long, but it was fun while it did.

Enjoy what may be the most famous dory picture of all time.

NCA President 8:44 AM  

Echo all of the sentiments to SKYEY. If there is anyone who can justify it in any way, please speak up now or forever hold your peace.

INSTORES, in the plural, seems to be pushing it. Maybe, if you're a retail manager, you might refer to them as "Instores," but to us non-retail manager TYPEs, no.

And speaking of, could there be two more random TYPEs chosen? Seriously? A book lover is a type? What type? And most certainly my apologies on behalf of the NYT for typing redheads. Usually, when someone is "typed" it is a way of categorizing and over generalizing a person...stereoTYPE-ing, prejudice, bull pizzle.

And continuing to speak of, puns are not my TYPE of humor. NOSEDUD and PLEASEDAY are absolutely ridiculously awful. Puns only a mother of the person who spoke them could love. What TYPE of person would consider this high-humor? So much nope here there is little more nope to be given.

What little nope there is to be given is left for MASSAGER. Again with taking a verb and adding -ER to the end to get a noun. Stop it, NYT xword. There are two words for one who massages...two perfectly good that making up a new one is just not needed.

I've said this before, but if the English language, presented in all its glory in NYT xword puzzles, can embrace this kind of noun construction, then by golly, my favorite comparative adverb, "worser," should be admissible.

This puzzle is definitely worser than the other puzzles this week.

kitsheff 8:53 AM  

Just awful. MASSAGER, RETRIES and SKYEY should not be permitted. ELHI, POWEREDON and TYPE (as clued) are the kinds of things that you put up with in an otherwise good puzzle, but those first three are never OK.

@Z - the PPP 'felt' higher because of the relative obscurity e.g. of HERSHEL and ARI. Also, to reclassify someone as OWM because they become famous and/or successful (e.g. OPRAH, Rubio) seems to beg the question. Can the NYT demonstrate inclusiveness only by including young/non-white/women that we've never heard of? [note: for the record, I am in the 'NYTPuz sometimes demonstrates a level of insensitivity to racial considerations' camp]

Lobster11 8:58 AM  

I actually stared at SKYEY for the longest time, but not for the same reason as everyone else. I simply couldn't parse it. There are so many weird names for colors -- many of which I've learned from crosswords -- that I just thought it might be another weird color name I'd never heard of before. I kept trying to figure out some way to pronounce it in a way that sounded familiar, but of course to no avail. It honestly did not occur to me until I came here that that it was simply an adjective created by adding -ey to a noun, at which time my reaction was the same as everybody else's.

Well, not everybody. @Anonymous seems to be the lone outlier who thinks we should revel in the experience of having learned a new word. Sorry, but I don't think this counts as learning a new word, even though I (thankfully) have never heard it before. You can add -y or -ey to the end of any noun in the language to make an adjective out of it. Looking around my desktop right now I see that I could describe it as computery, printery, piles-of-papery, and pencily. Do you feel like you just learned four new words? OK, so none of these (I presume) have been used enough in the past for them to currently have dictionary entries, but if they catch on because of this post (God help us) they eventually will.

Sorry for the Rant. I guess I'm just feeling Rexy this morning.

Tita A 9:00 AM  

Thanks @lms and @8:15...I will grouse not about 25D.
Thought the idea was fun, and it helped me finish, almost didn't thanks to MASSeuse.

Biggest disappointment was to learn that NOSEDUD was part of the theme. That last D was the last letter filled. I was parsing it as NOSED Up? Huh?? When I realized it had to be D, I let out a laugh, as that is such an apt phrase!! But then I got here and found out that it was "just another themer"...
And one that totally fits with the rest...I don't see a problem with the pronunciation.

I do hate LENS as way too green-paintish, and TYPE as way too random.
I like that SKYEY ends at WINDY.
My stepdaughter used to say "I'm windy!" when outside on a blustery day. So seemed fitting.

Thanks Mr. Bacjz.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Me, I blocked out SKYEY from my consciousness, and focused on the theme, ST to D. It's Thursday, so the theme has to be some kind of hidden trick, right? What we're left with is then a STD puzzle. You got gonorrhea on a bluegrass date, chlamydia from Doris Day, syphilis in the back of the Dart, and herpes from a counselor in the camp dory?


Blue Stater 9:08 AM  

Utterly bizarre. And typical of the WS era. Too clever by (at least) half.

chefbea 9:19 AM  

Hand up for 25D!!!!
Tough puzzle but liked the herbs and icing!!

Hartley70 9:24 AM  

Last entry to go in was of course SKYEY, eye roll and "blech" sound. I wasn't a big fan of TYPE either. It felt lazy.

For a Thursday theme, it was serviceable but missed the sparkle mark. CHILDRENSDORY worked the best for me, but NOSEDUD is an abject failure. It's not a dud nose. It's a dud noise, but even a discussion of sneeze failure annoys me.

On the slightly positive side, I'm trying. The difficulty level felt correct. I'm not familiar with UTE, TYR, or NYE, but I would have preferred longer challenges. Oh right, Saturday awaits.

marysue 9:28 AM  

The awful 25D was such a disappointment that it took any tiny vestige of fun out of the puzzle. For a moment there, I closed my eyes and imagined collective puzzle solver heads exploding all at once. Just terrible. A mediocre Thursday is one thing, but SKYEY? Should have died in editing, even if it is a real word.

Ludyjynn 9:32 AM  

In a word, meh-ISH.

RIP, Doris Roberts.

Cassieopia 9:38 AM  

Why not talk about the awesome clues, like "lengthening shadow?" which made me laugh outright when I finally got it. Cellular before ETHERNET which I enjoyed uncovering; and I for one really loved the clue for ETTU.

This was one of those puzzles where I stuck with it despite some sticky spots and was rewarded with many "aha!" moments. But as someone who grew up on the UAF campus, how can I not adore a puzzle that reminds me of the time Miss Alaska 1968 invited me and my bestie into her ICEDORM and played songs on her guitar for us? Thank you, Alex, for the Fairbanks memories! And I liked the puzzle too!

Steve M 9:59 AM  

I'm skyey high over this one😎

Bob Kerfuffle 10:02 AM  

Felt quite challenging for a Thursday with no rebus or other structural tricks.

Since @LMS has shown SKYEY to be a word for over 500 years, it's OK to me.

But even as I filled it in, I felt uneasy with TYPE, as clued.

Carola 10:07 AM  

I liked the stuffed-up-NOSE theme answers + PROTEGE, OIL TYCOON, YEOMEN, ETHERNET, SEE HOME, GUNSHY and the old-fashioned ANNOTATE crossing today's TAG.

Nancy 10:19 AM  

I seldom complain about anything that presents a challenge -- even when it includes SKYEY and is also NOR. (Not a rebus). NOR even when the puns are as lame as they (mostly) are today. (Like @Hartley, I liked CHILDREN'S DORY best. PLEASE DAY and NOSE DUD were awful.)

Initially misspelled YEOMEN, because I had HOE instead of BEE at 61D. At first, technophobe me had POWERED UP instead of POWERED ON at 11D. I avoided writing in two other potential mistakes: NAIFS instead of LAMBS at 1D, and A RAIL instead of WAFER at 31D. Oh, and yes, I wrote in HERSHEY before HERSHEL at 7D.

This puzzle is proof that a fairly lame puzzle can also be a quite enjoyable one. But I miss my Thursday rebus.

This is the 5th or 6th spectacular day in a row in NYC, weather-wise. Tomorrow, showers are predicted -- so if there's anyone on this blog to whom I owe an email or phone call, tomorrow is likely to be the day :)

David Krost 10:19 AM  

I am a little confused by your description of the theme:

"ST- goes to D- at the front of the second word in two-word phrases where first word ends in -S, creating wacky near-homophones, clued "?"-style:"

False, Nose, Ice, Please; none of these end in -S so I am not sure what you meant or what I am misunderstanding. If you meant an "S" sound, that isn't true either since, as you pointed out, a couple have "Z" sounds. Perhaps the constructor didn't mean for that to be consistent, which while a potentially nice touch, doesn't spoil the wacky theme, such as it is.

@CFXK said:

"'When twilight came I had vaguely wished some clouds would gather, for an odd timidity about the deep skyey voids above had crept into my soul.'
H.P. Lovecraft, The Colour Out of Space

Though not sure how that translates into BRILLIANTLY BLUE...."

It doesn't translate, because it isn't a word from a foreign language, although it might be as close as an English word can be to one. It is a definition, so it is what it is. "Deep skyey voids" become "Deep brilliant blue voids". At least that does make sense, although I see my spellchecker is underlining skyey, LOL.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

@Lobster11 - In defense of my "outlier" position on skyey - This is not merely adding 'y' or 'ey' to a noun to make it an adjective. According to Merriam-Webster, skyey has been around as a legitimate word for over 500 years. The fact that it none of us have ever heard of it makes it (at least to me) an item of interest (and a learning opportunity).

Donkos 10:28 AM  

I'm not a constructor but it took me less than two minutes to get rid of Skyed and I'm sure there's a better solution
25D: skyed (as in a high baseball hit)
24D: Beane: easy to clue
40A: une
44A: wiped

I agree with Rex, this may be a sort coming of the constructor but it is a failure of the editor.

jae 10:48 AM  

Easy Thurs. except for, of course, doubting SKYEY and triple checking the crosses. (My crossword mantra is that "if it looks wrong it probably is wrong).

Had to read Alex's comments at Xwordinfo to get why ST to D is actually a theme. Apparently it's a specific type of elision...@lms sort of explained it.

Erasures: BLUE GRASS band before DATE and hoe before BEE.

Also triple checked the grid for the other double D theme cross. Never found it.

Interesting but.....

Trombone Tom 11:05 AM  

The almost homophones didn't work so well for me. On the other hand, some of the cluing like 24D's "lengthening shadow" was clever. SKYEY and MASSAGER were duds.

Crossity 11:08 AM  

I enjoyed NOSE DUD crossing with SLED! Nobody seems to have noticed.

old timer 11:14 AM  

I feel better about SKYEY now I learn Lovecraft used it. But it was still pretty awful. I got (Harvey) MUDD right away *(the son of a friend went there). That gave me BLUEGRASSDATE, and the realization that I was i for a series of (mostly) very bad puns.

It took me the longest time to remember the YEOMEN of the Guard -- before that I wondered if it could be "seamen" (as in the Pirates of Penzance). I was glad to remember it at last, because it brought to mind what I think of Gilbert and Sullivan's very best song, "I Have a Song to Sing, O". Which is now my Earworm of the Day.

Best non-theme moment: getting the cross of TBOONE with OILTYCOON. I bet was what sold the puzzle to WS.

GILL I. 11:15 AM  

I loved NOSE DUD. It was part of the theme? I just hate to sneeze because it gives me a headache so I do everything I can to stop it. Results vary... but when I become successful, I will claim a NOSEDUD.
Wow, I had to work hard at this and wondered if it was at all enjoyable. Had to get to CHILDRENS DORY before any light came on. Ooof! Still, there was lots of good stuff. SKYEY didn't bother me, I've seen a lot worse made up words. At least this one is legitimate...
Liked the clue for BEARD and BEE. Love the name T.BOONE Pickens. Sounds like a company that makes fried chicken.
GUNSHY ahoy...on to Friday.

AliasZ 11:15 AM  

If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep: a breath thou art,
Servile to all the SKYEY influences,
That dost this habitation, where thou keep'st,
Hourly afflict: merely, thou art death's fool.

Measure for Measure, Act III, Scene 1, William Shakespeare

There, in an opening, lay a bank of violets, springing in the sun. Their blue was a challenge to the SKYEY blue above; it pierced the sight, awaking new longings and strange memories.
A Stolen Festival (from Tiverton Tales) by Alice Brown (1857-1948)

These and many other men and events of Marshfield are properly given a place in the history of New England, but the special glory of this spot will always be that Daniel Webster chose to live, chose to die, and chose to be buried under the vast vault of her SKYEY spaces, within the sound of her eternal sea.
The Old Coast Road From Boston to Plymouth (1920) by Agnes Edwards (1888-1954)

This was September, season of full tides; the marsh between here and the island this afternoon was a sheet of SKYEY water flecked by the tips of salt hay turning golden.
The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike

SKYEY looks funny because we expect a word ending in -Y to be an adjective -- many of them are: shy, sly, frisky, risky, musky, etc. -- and rarely do we need to add a -y or -ey suffix to turn it into an adjective. But it is a real word. Let us embrace it.

Andrew Heinegg 11:17 AM  

I could get past the skyey,in stores, massager and the other lousy or incorrect clues if the d themed business had even a glimmer of lightness or good punditry to it. But, it doesn't and so the puzzle is a total buzzkill for me.

Ellen S 11:18 AM  

@Donkos -- not a "sort coming of the constructor" -- is that a serendipitous typo? Not a "shortcoming" either, as everyone says ... More a "Shortz-coming".

@Lobster11, SKYEY is worth it if it spawned our new adjective "Rexy" -- I think that's a keeper.

Joseph Michael 11:29 AM  


Anonymous 11:37 AM  

If skyey means ethereal,why was it defined as a color? Ugh


George Barany 11:39 AM  

With all the emphasis today on SKYEY, I may have overlooked any mention of the fact that several of the non-theme down answers are the same length, or longer, than the two down theme answers.

I'm also not comfortable with cluing OIL_TYCOON for the Koch brothers, but then trying to shoehorn in a different OIL_TYCOON in the clue for T_BOONE. Either cross-reference or don't, but don't try to have it both ways.

Seeing the clue for 10-Down inspires me to ask those @Rex-ites whose political leanings mesh with my own to take one more fond look at the Clown Car.

To @Alex Bajcz, the thrill of being published in the New York Times [note that this is the second time; the first being almost two years ago] will surely trump the criticisms that are being directed towards your puzzle. If it's any consolation, many of us care deeply about the art, and try to be welcoming to fresh faces and voices. Hang in there, and we look forward to more from you in the future.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

"Skyey"! What a brilliant synonym for "bright blue"! Said nobody, ever.

Martel Moopsbane 12:04 PM  

Alternate clue for 25D: Like a character in "Guys and Dolls".

Still lousy, but perhaps a tad more palatable.

Joe Bleaux 12:13 PM  

Hu hu! Bona fide LOL. Thanks.

Martín Abresch 12:20 PM  

For 27-Down (Redheads or book lovers, maybe) I wanted PALE.

Liked the clue for BEARD (Lengthening shadow).

Z 12:24 PM  

@kitshef - I take your point, I don't want to get into the "not black enough" game. But I would say that OPRAH has to be on the List of Top Two Non-Whites known by OWM, in a virtual dead heat with "you know who." Even though her bona fides are beyond reproach having her in the puzzle is still catering. As for Marco, when I say we kicked him out long ago, I wasn't kidding. You have to be a special brand of incompetent to be a moderate ethnic politician and lose your ethnicity vote right from the beginning (the link is from before he flipped on immigration reform). Regardless of all that, using presidential candidates, as opposed to Bill Richardson for instance, is still catering to OWMs. Five is better than nothing, but none of these are as inaccessible as Renata Tebaldi.

Chuck McGregor 12:24 PM  

IN ALL this one seemed off. I kept looking for something to ADD interest, but no. On the one hand there was the “ho-hum: SLED? A vehicle in “Frozen?” Who would have thunk it? On the other (ignoring the already well-maligned SKYEY) there was 3-letter NYE that, for some reason, needed the longest clue in history.

POWERED ON Is sorta redundant as clued. SYSTS for systems? Never (e.g. if animals had circulatory SYSTS, I’d call a vet). UTE? Google says it is in UsE, but smacks to me of affectatiousness. TYPE? I’m with @Rex. Something odd about DROWNS tense-wise vis-à-vis its clue. Also odd is ADD equated to contribute (give) and IN ALL equated to an adverb. The clues do not seem sharply crafted.

STEAL – why was the “in more ways than one?” needed?

So a BEARD is a “lengthening” thing? There’s the 5 o’clock shadow, but at that time, it is just a thing. Does one think of it as “lengthening?” I’d say no. As a shadow, it just is what it is.

> Science Lesson

For GEEKS only and this is not a nit-pick: Wi-Fi (the 802.11x protocol) is a method used to transmit information wirelessly that is formatted using Ethernet (the 802.3 protocol). Thus, Wi-Fi always uses the Ethernet protocol. As such, Ethernet It is not an alternate for Wi-Fi.

For non-GEEKS (as simply as I can): If you have a thing you are moving from one place to another and put it in a box to do so, the box is not an “alternate” to the thing in it. The box is simply what is being used to move the thing that’s in it.

Thus, the correct answer to the “Alternate to Wi-Fi” would be cable. (n.b. Lest wire comes to mind, a “wire” is a single conductor; a “cable” has two or more wires, as does an Ethernet cable.)

Congruities would be – Wi-Fi : cable as box : bag.

Correct congruities for the clue/answer would be – Wi-FI : Ethernet as box : dishes. However, the terms in either one are in no way “alternates” for the other, unless you choose to set your dining table with boxes.

I don’t make up the science, I’m just reporting it.

> End Science Lesson


Kimberly 1:00 PM  

Terrible. 25D was just a nail in a ho-hum coffin.

When I figured out the theme, all I could think of was "ok... and..." It was pointless and far from clever, which is what I count on for Thursday/Sunday.

Not one giiggle moment. Not even a wry smile. Questionable clueing throughout. "I thought you had my back?" Really? And there is never a need to add "in more ways than one" to a clue. I felt like I was at a bar being nudged by a drunken idiot who kept saying "Get it? Get it?" to some lame pun.

My ever-changing, arbitrary rating system labels this one "annoyed."

Fred Romagnolo 1:02 PM  

I've appreciated Will Shortz' contributions to crosswords in the past, but lately it does seem as if he (or one of his assistants) has gotten lax about the reputation of the NYT crossword. It's not only the newspaper of record, but the crossword puzzler of record, after all. Today's was a disaster. Never heard the term "Nose stud"and didn't know of a slangy alternative to S.U.V. No problemo with zoom LENS, but what's a hand LENS? All the previous comments about the dreadful SKYEY were too kind. It may have been a word, but what about the "brilliantly" part? Perhaps Will needs some R and R time. I see where Andy Jackson got the toss, and we all know about Thom and his Hemings affair - will the Democrats, the P.C. party continue to hold Jefferson - Jackson dinners?

Teedmn 1:24 PM  

I'm with @Anon9:06: I gave 25D a side-long glance of suspicion and went on with the puzzle. That it turns out to be a real word just makes me giggle. The themer PLEASE DAY made me grit my teeth and shudder so getting a little SKYEY wasn't a problem.

I do have to ask my subconscious just what it's doing when I have my back turned. For 10D, I threw in PROTEGy at first. If said subconscious was thinking PROdiGy applied to 10D's subject, well it has some 'splainin' to do.

I liked the new "thin" simile of WAFER and BLUEGRASS DATE and GUN SHY were fun. It would have been fun to see MUDD clued as Harry, the blowhard who made a couple of appearances on the original Star Trek. Did anyone else have Beget before BREED at 55D?

Thanks, @Rex for the link to the MN favorites, The Replacements. Unfortunately, breaking news has just announced that another famous Minnesotan, Prince, has died. RIP.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

Even SKYES/WINDS (SKYES = 'certain terriers') would be superior.

Dick Swart 1:35 PM  

A slog and no reward of cleverness in the six dts. I liked 13D as a theme clue.

Masked and Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Stupendous puz! HARdly know where to start. So …
LETSDART up top with my congratz to Alex Bajcz, my new fave scrabbleyey-named constructioneer, on a brilliantly epic NYTPuz second appearance of the fourth kind. thUmbsUp, dude! day-um. Keep this stuff comin.

Try sayin any of these themers' real-world versions real fast several times. U start accidentally sayin the themers instead. And what themers. CHILDRENSDORY. har. NOSEDUD. har2. Great theme. Agree with @muse entirely; it's to dyey for! Probably oughta be a WedPuz, but, heyey -- goose it up with some weirdball & wily clues (yo @Cassieopia -- BEARDS clue is indeed wileyey), and U have yer full, twenty-horse rodeo.

ok. I'm gettin tired, now, of addin extra -ey's to myey y's. Let's talk about the purple gorilla in the room … SKYEY does, admittedly, look pretty wild-west-crossword-ish. We can all probably agree on that. But, consultin the Official M&A Multi-volume Dictionary: it's a real word. So …
1) We learnt something, there. That's all good, right?
2) Words are more than welcome, in crosswords. What the heck else should be in crosswords?
3) It's funky good. Just the spot of desperation M&A cherishes, in his daily puzfix. Yer mileage may vary, etc. etc.
4) @Tweeter Michelle: yo! That is one beastly-420 mustache, darlin. Primo. No NOSEDUDs for U!

Big relief moment: Not bein corralled into havin to spell MASSOOSE correctly. Thanx U, MASSAGER.

fave non-themer: IAGREE. Lost precious nanoseconds, tryin to play Wheel of Fortune with this puppy.
fave weeject: TYR. Tyrsday: kinda catchy.


Masked & Anonymo4Us

p.s. STAINLESSDEAL? Didn't think so. Too much like BASSSAX.


Roo Monster 1:48 PM  

Hey All !
Besides icky SKYEY, we have crossed themers where one is correct, as in shared D-ST, and one incorrect, non-shaed D-ST. Wha? And they are all just D's otherwise (except for shared o.e). How the hell did Will like this puz? Where did Random Letter D changed to Random Letters ST come from? The themers aren't even in-the-language phrases. This shoulda been summarily rejected with Will's famous, "The theme answers are too obscure, made up phrases."

I cry Shenanigans on this whole thing.

FALSE DART indeed...

puzzle hoarder 2:17 PM  

If SKYEY is good enough for the likes of UPDIKE and LOVECRAFT who cares what the peanut gallery thinks. If you can quickly come up with a blander version of that puzzle section congratulations you have the makings of a very bland puzzle constructor.
I understand people's anger towards the puzzle. Any puzzle that forces you to shut off the autopilot and really work for the answers is going to be frustrating but that work is what's going to make you a better solver wether you like the answers or not.
Besides from the themes density no one has mentioned the density of the three character entries. There are 18 of them and they're all over the grid. Only 5 of them were out and out gimmies. Two of those made the NE easy to start. Another five I was pretty sure of but waited for the crosses. The remainder were either difficult in and of themselves or were simply embedded in difficult sections. ORE has appeared 380 times just in the Shortz era alone. If you can make a small army of experienced solvers hesitant to put that E in it's not something you should just dismiss. Keeping this many short answers from being a liability is to the constructors and editors credit. The clue for 40A is out there because it's supposed to be. I thought the clue for 24D was brilliant.

Z 2:45 PM  

This says it better than I ever could.

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

Skyey is really, really bad. One of the worst ever. But it is still only the second worst clue/answer in the last two days. A HAT TRICK IS NOT A SCORING PLAY. Sorry for shouting, but that felt good.

Chapps 3:21 PM  

Honestly, even though this is a themed puzzle, I thought it was pretty lazy and sloppy. Yes, 25D is a travesty - and, no, I have no idea what idiot put it into the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The fact that it was used by Lovecraft pretty much dooms it for me (although any time Cthulu is used, I feel happy, oddly enough). And, like others, I was frustrated by INSTORES, which doesn't preclude it from being online or on TV - but it was an easy fill for me, since I had enough down fills. The whole ST-D (whoah - that's nasty) thing seemed weak-ish. Meh, I'm not loving NYT puzzles these days.

Peterk 3:50 PM  

Am I the only one bothered by the fact that the theme only works in both directions in one spot. ("Ice dorm" and "children's dory") Since that was the first place I noticed it I was thrown off by looking for it to work that way elsewhere.

rjs 3:59 PM  

I hated skyey also, but purely by chance today I was reading an essay by William Hazlitt about Shakespeare, and to my shock, he used this word by a quotation out of Measure for Measure. My hatred of 25D is exceeded only by my shock at the incredible coincidence of coming across this word being used the
very same day!

bswein99 4:39 PM  

All the constructor had to do was change skyey to skyes (certain terriers) and windy to winds. It wouldn't have been inspired but we wouldn't be howling about it either. I mean, c'mon...

Aketi 4:41 PM  

Since everyone else commented on the obvious, just thought I'd comment on Harvey MUDD since it has vying with Pomona on my son's list of Californis colleges to visit during his spring break next week. I dubr anyone could accuse Harvey MUDD of being politically incorrect. Along with a rich list of ethnicities you can choose to identify with, it is the only college that my son has considered that allows kids to pick from a rich array of six different choices of gender identity with the additional choices of "not listed" or "prefer not to answer" when they sign up for a tour. Since I work wth babies, which can sometimes be born with ambiguous biological gender, I actually can come up with one unlisted category.

@rex, you missed an opportunity to comment on the inclusion of a highly inclusive college in today's puzzle.

beatrice 7:13 PM  

Lovecraft, yes. And how can you argue with Shakespeare (rhetorical question)? ('Measure for Measure'):

Be absolute for death; either death or life
Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life:
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep: a breath thou art,
Servile to all the skyey influences,
That dost this habitation, where thou keep'st,
Hourly afflict: merely, thou art death's fool;
For him thou labour'st by thy flight to shun
And yet runn'st toward him still.

Also George Eliot and John Updike. I assume it elicites so

I suspect the acutely negative reaction is due to the sheer awkwardness of pronouncing the word. OK. It's a 'literary' word, but an evocative one.

So to make the best of it, I went with three masters - Petrarch, Cipriano de Rore, and Monteverdi. The sonnet 'Hor che'l ciel e la terra' ('Now that the SKY and earth (and the wind are silent'). Here are all three:

Anonymous 7:36 PM  

I don't get it. It's a 500 yr old word. Get over it!

Sir Hillary 7:43 PM  

Yes, SKYEY could have been easily eliminated. My solution: BRAND and STYES at 24/25D, crossed by GERT (Frobe), ONE and WINDS.

But so what? SKYEY gives this otherwise boring puzzle some character. That few or none of us have ever heard it used is irrelevant.

kitshef 9:58 PM  

Re the Shakespeare defense of skyey, I don't want runn'st in my puzzle, either.

OTOH, I'm officially flip-flopping on MASSAGER, thanks to its use in e.g. 'foot massager,.

Nancy 11:02 PM  

My vote for the two best SKYEY comments today: @Anon 11:46 a.m. and @kitshef 9:58 p.m.

@Aketi (4:41 p.m.) -- Six different choices???!!!

OISK 11:28 PM  

I object less to an obscure word than I do to needlessly poor cluing. And as others have said, "SKYEY" really is a word! I can use it in Scrabble! I really disliked the clue for UTE. I have never heard an SUV called that. "I am going car shopping; I will be looking at utes." No. Utes are teenagers in Brooklyn. But better clues certainly exist. How about "Beehive athlete."? Utah is the Beehive state, right?

And then the really bad clue for "Type" that so many others have mentioned. There are SO many ways to clue that word. For us seniors "What to do on a Royal or an Underwood." "he's not my ___" " most folks are A or B." But "redheads or book-lovers..." Why? Not clever, not funny, not leading to the answer...Just bad.

Anonymous 12:12 AM  

I think MASSAGER is only ever used as a euphemism for vibrator, right?

I can't be the only one who desperately wanted 11D to be vomitedON? I know it ain't breakfast-worthy but...

Anonymous 9:25 PM  

My major gripe is Massager rather than the obvious Masseuse. Massager?Where is that the professional title?

Bur Davis 10:58 AM  


Burma Shave 8:23 AM  




rondo 10:12 AM  

More obtusity than I called out earlier this week. Clue for STEAL? Clue/answer for TENTO? That makes me TENTO think this puz could have stood some brushing up. 25d ridiculous, but fell due to crosses. More trouble because of atALL in the NW, but that appears to be the only w/o.

Having studied Swedish at the U of M, I know (and have forgot) more about Norse gods than one has a right to. Especially when it comes to naming weekdays. It’s Tisdag in Swedish, they just kinda swallowed that R.

Severe lack of yeah babies unless we stretch it out to include Doris DAY. Milton Berle once said, “I knew Doris DAY before she was a virgin.” BORNE to BREED?

Don’t ever mention the name HERScHEL Walker to a Vikes fan. We sold the farm to get him and after the first game here he PLAYED poorly. Meanwhile his former team, the Cowboys, became “America’s team” and the Vikes fell into obscurity for a long time.

Despite all the good stuff the weak areas were obvious. “25d” may become a term like Natick. “I can’t believe the constructor 25ded that answer.” “A 25d like that should been caught by Will.” Maybe in his next effort there won’t be much to Bajcz about.

spacecraft 11:22 AM  

Two posts today; I'm sure one of them (the other one) will make it to print. Why not this one? Observe.

I know why my post yesterday never appeared. I broached a taboo subject (I will not name it here, for obvious reasons); I just thought, really, we're all intelligent people here, and so who wouldn't...well, I cannot go further. Sorry, censors, it won't happen again.

spacecraft 11:42 AM  

Now for today's offering. I found it tough in the extreme; nothing medium about it. Yes, 25-down is in fact a real word, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it. It is an abomination, and I'm with the solid majority who think it should have been handed back with a "Fix this" note. But even that doesn't draw the flag. MASSAGER does. Folks, you're either a masseur or a masseuse; you can never be a "MASSAGER." That's a real word too, but I don't care. Out-of-bounds penalty.

Also, I've never "POWEREDON." I power up. You do too. Wow, look at that entire 15th column! DTS SKYEY SYSTS. Surely there's been some kind of mistake, and don't call me Shirley. Thus I could back-door into a DOD, via MacLaine or Jones, but there is one here because YEOMEN automatically makes me think of Janice Rand from the old STTOS. Kirk (or rather, his "bad" half) once said to her: "You're too beautiful to ignore. Too much woman." IAGREE wholeheartedly. Grace Lee Whitney, we miss you. RIP.

The MASSAGER thing nearly caused a DNF, but many of the clues were off the wall. Theme is OK-ISH; fill is weird. Double-bogey.

Torb 12:16 PM  

Finished quickly but had to hold my nose throughout the entire puz. Frankly, lame. Oh well, they all can't be gems.

rain forest 1:52 PM  

I laughed when I put in SKYEY. After I finished, I found that it is a real word. Then I shrugged.

I know the phrase back MASSAGER, and also foot MASSAGER. You can buy these things IN STORES, so I also shrug that one off.

Regarding that last one, if you can't buy them on TV or online, where else are you going to get them?

There's a WAFER thin line between good puns and bad ones, and this puzzle more or less walked that line, or was close to it. Puns. Didn't miss the rebus, or should I say "my" rebus, as some do.

Today, here, the sky is cloudyey, ie, brilliantly cloudy.

rain forest 1:57 PM  

@spacecraft - I'd really like a hint about what the taboo subject of your censored post was. I had one censored a couple of months ago, for what I think was a bogus reason.

Diana,LIW 3:59 PM  

When I sneeze, my cat, Lambo, makes a funny sound - sounds like he's concerned about something. He makes the same sound if I almost sneeze - he knows what's coming. Now I have a word for that, a NOSEDUD. That one made me laugh, even before I know the theme.

Upon consulting my OED, sadly, SKYEY is a word, with no less than 2 definitions. (Of the sky, and the colour (sic) of the sky.) I smiled as I put it in, knowing it would draw blood.

Agree, MASSAGER sounds sleazy.

Spacey - I've had a post or two vanish - I think more likely user error or, as a teacher once told me, shift happens. (The gerbils inside the computer powered off.)

Enjoyed the ST = D, knew it would be "wackyed."

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Longbeachlee 5:20 PM  

How is ess related to ette except for being a suffix? Does a person with a nose stud not sneeze? Help me.

Diana,LIW 5:25 PM  

One more thing I forgot before. I also do a daily puz in the local paper by a well-known constructor. I've mentioned before how odd it is when a seldom-used word shows up in the NYTP and a day or two later (or before) the same word is in puz#2. Do they get together? Does he do this for the sake of syndies, who have learned a new word? I now predict that we just might see a certain shade of blue in puz#2. Skies the limit, right? I'll let you know.

Diana, Waiting for the Sky to Open

D_Johnson 5:39 PM  

I'm in the minority, but I liked INSTORES. I saw it as a mild jab at the countless TV ads with the come-on "not available in stores.

I found this easy for a Thursday.

leftcoastTAM 6:43 PM  

Challenging head-scratcher, ultimately gettable, meaning it took quite a bit of time, and worth it.

Unrevealed revealer: DTS.

Clever, hard to see themers: PLEASEDAY, FALSEDART

Some tough fill: TYPE, TYR, GNC and especially SKYEY. GUNSHY tough because of its vaguest of clues.

I liked it, I think.

Diana,LIW 7:49 PM  

@Longbeach -

I could be wrong, but here's my take:

ess and ette are suffixes, but IMO feminizing suffixes. "The actrESS won the statuETTE."

NOSEDUD is a pun (within the context of the puxzzle theme of ST = D) on nose stud. A NOSEDUD is a sneeze you feel coming on, but then it just doesn't happen. It's a dud. Unlike a Milk Dud. Which, you must admit, would be another kind of dud if it ended up in your nose.

Diana, Waiting to ah! ah! ahch... rats

kitshef 11:06 PM  

@longbeachlee - they are both suffixes used to turn a masculine or neutral word into a feminine one, as in host/hostess, drum major/drum majorette.

Longbeachlee 12:24 PM  

I think of ette as a diminutive suffix. Statuette is a small statue regardless of the gender of the recipient. I'll give you drum majorette, and admire you for pulling it out of thin air, but alone, it isn't convincing. As far as nose dud meaning a sneeze that doesn't happen, does that make a mirage an eye dud, etc? I don't mind clever or smart, but we're approaching claivoyant with this garbage.

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

I'm feeling the need to add that SKYEY, when used to describe a color, rather than altitude or ethereality, usually does not imply "brilliant" blue. The blue of the sky, in most places at most times, is a relatively soft shade. A "brilliant blue" sky is the exception. There are many different interpretations of "sky blue" but most of them are not a shade that could be called brilliant. You could look it up (and both the constructor and editor should have).

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