Lake Oahe locale / SUN 4-3-16 / Carson who won 2001 TS Eliot prize for poetry / Mayan food staple / Olympic sprinting champion Devers / Politico with autobiography American Son / 2009 Grammy nominee with lyric But this ain't seaworld this is real as it gets / 2003 #1 hit for Outkast / Fifth century pope great / Post-menorah-lighting treats

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Constructor: Natan Last

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: "Jumping To Conclusions" — the theme is really IN ONE EAR AND / OUT THE OTHER (23A: With 113-Across, heard but disregarded ... or a hint to interpreting the Across answers with circled letters). There are six theme answers, three sets of two. Each set of two has one clued answer coming into a space containing the letter string "EAR" but then coming out of the  "EAR" in the *other* answer. So

Theme answers:

  • 31A: Common query from one about to leave the house ("WHERE ARE MY KEYS!?")
  • 46A: Indignant replay when someone withholds information ("I HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW!")
  • 55A: "Come on ... be daring" ("TAKE A RISK")
  • 77A: "Oh, boo-hoo!" ("CRY ME A RIVER")
  • 86A: "Would you consider this suggestion?" ("CAN I MAKE A REQUEST?")
  • 100A: Comment to the not-yet-convinced (YOU'LL COME AROUND)

Word of the Day: TERZA rima (109A: ___ rima (meter of Dante's "Divine Comedy")) —
Terza rima (Italian pronunciation: [ˈtɛrtsa ˈriːma]) is a rhyming verse stanza form that consists of an interlocking three-line rhyme scheme. It was first used by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. // The literal translation of terza rima from Italian is 'third rhyme'. Terza rima is a three-line stanza using chain rhyme in the pattern A-B-A, B-C-B, C-D-C, D-E-D. There is no limit to the number of lines, but poems or sections of poems written in terza rima end with either a single line or couplet repeating the rhyme of the middle line of the final tercet. The two possible endings for the example above are d-e-d, e or d-e-d, e-e. (wikipedia)
• • •

Way too tired to do this puzzle justice. I solved six tournament puzzles today, and ate and drank and talked a lot, and watched a very touching tribute to the late, great Merl Reagle, put together by "Wordplay" director Patrick Creadon. So, I'm a bit exhausted. There were four of us sitting here in my hotel room trying to solve this, and it was clear we were all pretty bleary-eyed. I was the only one with the stamina to finish, and the only one who really got the theme, and that took me a while. The EAR thing came quickly. Put the EAR in the circles. Great. Done. But then what? I got the Downs to work, but the Acrosses were nonsense. Not sure why the OUT THE OTHER part didn't register more quickly. Probably the gin. Anyway, once I was done, I really appreciated the theme. i found the cluing generally to be very tough and occasionally ... off. [Slip (through)] for SEEP? I refuse to see those as equivalent. I also totally misread 40A: Show wear and figured it was clothes you wear if you are in a show, like gowns or boas. But "Show" is a verb, so ... FRAY. That "F" cross also didn't click for me. [Awesome] = FEARED. Yes. I suppose. I mean, yes. Possibly. But there is no necessary connection between awe and fear. The fill swung between great and less so. OBELI and COR and [Laugh half] HAR = not great. A Lake Oahe (where the what the???) to clue ratty old S. DAK? Grumble grumble. And then the near-dupes. CATE crossing CATO. CIMINO *and* CAMINO in the same grid!? I don't know. They *are* totally different words. So OK. Odd, but OK. To sum up: theme was ingenious, the rest felt a bit rough, and also a bit amped up, difficulty-wise.

I think I'm going to go to bed. I gotta get up to solve the last puzzle at 9am. I was in 30-somethingth place but then made an error on Puzzle 5 in precisely the area I knew I should've rechecked but I got greedy for time and just turned it in quickly. Rookie mistake. Wah WAH. I'm still in the 50s somewhere, which is OK. I keep falling, though, as (apparently) people are successfully contesting some error they did (or didn't) make. Lots of great things happened at the tournament today. I'll write more about them when it's all over. For now, to bed.

Oh, one last thing: BCS is really really not good (93A: Some Johnny Hart panels). First of all, a "panel" is not a "[comic title]." Not ever. But even if you were to read "panels" as "sets of panels making up a completed strip," it's still bad. You just can't pluralize a comics title that way. Not comfortably. GARFIELDS? PEANUTSES? CALVINS & HOBBESESESES? I live in Broome County (B.C.!), whence Johnny Hart (born in Endicott, NY!), and there are "B.C." characters on our buses and in other places. I don't know how this is relevant, but I feel that it is. BCS as a plural = just BS. Except as the bygone college football championship dealie—the Bowl Championship Series. That would be legit. Bygone, but legit.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


chefbea 8:26 AM  

Didn't understand the theme at all. Knew that EAR was in all the circles. Will come back later and try to figure it out

Looking forward to hearing all about the tournament!!!

Lewis 8:47 AM  

It started easy in the NW, then got crunchy, even after I figured out what was going on, due to vague (vague in a good sense) cluing. It took a long time to figure out that the theme answers worked in pairs: 1/2, 3/4, 5/6. There was some clever cluing (ALEPHS, TAPS), but not enough for my taste in a Sunday puzzle, and I liked HANGTIGHT, BENTON, and TIRESWING.

ABETS and AMOK -- yes. ATILT and ABOIL -- no, these are crosswordese. I learned that INBOXZERO is a real thing, and the theme did help the solve. Even though it's not spelled right, starting with CHI and ending with TOS reminded me of a favored childhood snack.

This was no slogfest; I felt like an explorer on a journey in this one, and I love that feeling when solving.

Glimmerglass 8:52 AM  

Really, really hard for a Sunday. Hooray! I love when that happens. My printer for some reason misses the very top of the puzzle. And when I got to the puzzle the next morning, I'd forgotten that Jumping to Conclusions was the title (only Sundays have titles, so I don't pay much attention). I might have caught on sooner to the swtcheroo part of the theme if the title had been before my eyes. So my printer made the puzzle just a tad harder. Clever theme -- some nasty cluing. Fun!

NCA President 8:53 AM  

This struck me like someone telling a really long joke with no pay off for having sat through the entirely too long set up. I guess I appreciate it at the construction must have taken a lot of planning to make it all work, so kudos for that. But just because the construction is a tour de force doesn't mean it's appealing. Bruckner's symphonies are long and intricate but there's a reason no one performs them...they are an acquired taste that not everyone this puzzle's theme.

I'm trying to imagine in what world "INBOXZERO" is a common term. The combination of words makes sense and I think I've heard it somewhere...but even in looking for email apps for my phone, which I do semi-regularly, many of those apps offer ways to manage email...sorting, prioritizing, filtering, etc...I don't recall "inbox zero" being a thing they strive for. Maybe in the arcane world of corporate IT people sit around in an office trying to figure out ways to get their employees' inboxes down to zero?

10A Get heavily (into) is more like dive in rather than WADEIN. When I go to the ocean and I "wade in" it means I am tentatively moving deeper into the water until I get most of my body used to it (I'm getting lightly into it) and then I dive in which is heavily into it. Maybe "Get heavily (into) cautiously" would make more sense.

Finally, I think I have Election 2016 PTSD. The sight of RUBIO in this puzzle is a trigger for me. I'm so tired of reading/hearing about Trump this and Hillary that and Cruz that and Sanders the other. It BLEARS my entire soul.

Please NYT xword puzzle constructors: respect my triggers (and the triggers of 322 million other Americans and countless citizens of other countries) and keep all names from the 2016 election out of puzzles forever. Like the welcome avoidance of "Adolph," there must better, more desirable alternatives?

Dolgo 8:59 AM  

Okay, okay, I figured it out, already. But the whole concept, described very clearly by Rex, was just simply DUMB!!! So what? I know that doing crosswords don't make you a better person or anything, but at least they give you a sense of satisfaction when you finish. I had to work entirely too hard to solve the gimmick, and it wasn't worth it when I had.

Glimmerglass 9:00 AM  

Really, really hard puzzle for a Sunday. I love when that happens. For some reason my printer leaves off the very top of the puzzle, and when I got to the puzzle in the morning, I'd forgotten that the title was Jumping to Conclusions. I might have caught on sooner to the switcheroo part of the theme if the title were in front of my eyes. So my printer made the puzzle just a tad harder. Clever theme, some nasty cluing. Fun!

jberg 9:02 AM  

I saw from the revealer that it was going to be some sort of wormhole thing, but I took I HEARD to make me realize the EAR rebus; then it was just a matter of trying to figure out which beginning matched which end. It was only after I had four of the six that I realized they were in pairs. Thank God I figured it out, as I was totally stuck until then -- too many points where I needed a crossing letter from a themer.

The GAIL/ALI G crossing was almost a total guess, combined with a plausibility factor; I always think it's CAit Blanchett; or it took me way too long to spot our old friend, the TOAT. All fair enough, good puzzle.

Oh yeah-- I think 'fear' is the original meaning of AWE. @Loren, do you know?

CFXK 9:09 AM  

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the "fear" of God means "awe" of God. To be "feared" in this sense is not to be one who is frightening, but to be one who engenders deep reverence. Hence the equivalence of AWESOME and FEARED in 40D.

John McKnight 9:09 AM  

i bet lots of people figured this out pretty quickly. as far as the fill: moving from northwest and working towards southeast, it started impressively and then fell apart and became hideous, much like driving from portland to miami.

Aketi 9:20 AM  

It took me a long time to solve this puzzle even though I got IN ONE EAR AND right away and was searching for OUT THE OTHER. I didn't think of rebuses at first because of the circles and I'd only seen one puzzle that combined circles and rebuses and if I remember correctly the rebuses weren't in the circles. By the time I noticed that parts of the answers were hopping from one place to another I had dimmed the lights so I didn't wake my dh. So I no longer saw the circles and forgot about them, . Once I got that the leap occurred at a rebused EAR, it was easy.. Brings back good memories of the best video game I ever played: Portal. Someone should create a GLaDOS ouzzle.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

I need some help here. How do i get the puzzle on an Android device? I have on Apple, but can find the app in Google Play. Thank you.

Ruth F 9:34 AM  

Nice challenge. I, too, quickly put the ears in the circles. And I noticed they formed an earring. Nice. Then I stared a long time at the completed 31A and al the unfinished across ear clues. Finally, "aha!"

Honeysmom 9:41 AM  

Simply sadistic! Doesn't deserve a thoughtful comment!

Nancy 9:41 AM  

I guess this comment will eventually appear, as yesterday's eventually did, but I'm not going to put much effort into writing this. I "did" most of the puzzle yesterday, finished a tiny little section this morning, and only then, belatedly, made sense of the theme answers: that the last part of the answer went with a different clue. I assure you I didn't see it while I was solving, so that nothing in this puzzle made any sense at all.

Even so, I might have enjoyed the challenge -- and challenging it surely was! -- if it hadn't been for all the pop trivia nonsense that stymied me at every turn and made me want to throw the puzzle against the wall in frustration. Can't wait to see Z's PPP breakdown. Natan -- when will you learn that most people don't WANT an exercise in arcane pop culture knowledge when they turn to a crossword puzzle. Any more than people back in the day enjoyed having to know the name of a three-toed sloth in Colombia. (I'm making that up, but there were those sorts of clues back in the days when my mother was solving.) You obviously have a prodigious ability at creating complex puzzles, but you're ruining it with this devotion to ephemeral trivia. David Steinberg has learned to listen to the solving community; will you?

Teedmn 9:41 AM  

ERRors abounded here today. The far SE and the lower western edge got me. INBOX mEmO made no sense to me (you wrote yourself a memo to remind yourself to read all your emails, huh?) and having Sally RAnd and Quattros being AUtoS left me with Tennyson ntYLs and VLADoMIR. Considering how many WOES there were for me, I'm lucky that's the worst of it.

It didn't take me long to decide to solve bottom up because the NW wasn't going anywhere. My first "EAR" went in at MIDYEAR so 31 A has to be WHERE ARE MY KEYS, except 33D is clearly ILES so... Getting OUT THE OTHER gave me IN ONE EAR and explained YOU'LL COME A REQUEST. I was even able to use the theme to get CRY ME A RISK and TAKE A RIVER. But the WOES (ORANGE MEN, GAIL, I'M ON A BOAT, EGO-surfing, CIMINO, ANNE, AUNT Viv, Oscar ISAAC, EL TORO) kept me from breezing through this so I accept the "challenging" rating by @Rex, even if for different reasons.

Thanks, Natan Last, for a fresh theme and a Sunday work out.

Alan_S. 10:08 AM  

A brilliant theme executed brilliantly! Pretty tough but the payoff was worth it, for a change.
I'll let the other commenters parse the grid and just say thanks for the best Sunday puzzle in months, maybe more.

Lobster11 10:14 AM  

Theme was interesting enough to keep me fighting to the bitter end -- I eventually finished, albeit with a few errors -- but in the end the joy-to-slog ratio wasn't favorable. It took me forever to get my first themer because I just couldn't get a solid toehold anywhere: just too many PPP WOEs for me among the downs.

Biggest error that held me up for a long time was having "ride" instead of RAID at 63A. I was sure that that's what the word sally, as in "sally forth," meant. It probably didn't help that the words are cross-referenced in my brain because of both the astronaut "Sally Ride" and the "Ride, Sally, ride" chorus to the song "Mustang Sally."

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

I liked the idea behind the puzzle, and agree that it was as tight as could be, I just didn't like the solve. Once you got the idea, it was like being in sequential traffic jams - You got to the circled ear, waited in idle until you got to the coupled answer, went on apace, got to another circled ear, waited, ...

chefbea 10:26 AM  

No comments yet...guess Rex is on stage doing the final puzzle!!!!!

puzzle hoarder 10:28 AM  

This was a great Sunday puzzle with a little extra twist thrown in. By the time I remembered the title and figured out why the two halves of the themers weren't going together the puzzle was nearly finished. Unless you have no other choice I strongly recommend that you never solve a Sunday puzzle on your phone. As small as a week day puzzle appears the Sunday is borderline microscopic. I was at work last night and had no way to print it out. The difficulty rating will have to wait.

Trombone Tom 10:29 AM  

If he weren't in the middle of a competition I'd advise @Rex to imbibe some hair of the dog. His column from the Marriott bar was clever and much lighter than the usual.

As to Natan Last's puzzle I found it really difficult to suss out the theme answers. I, too, got the EAR business early on but couldn't make sense of the rest until done with most of the puzzle. The "- surfing" clue lost me until the crosses were in place. Got as far as HANGT _ _ _ _ until I remembered Clement ATTLEE to complete HANGTIGHT. 115D could have been Hee or HAh until the crosses cleared it up. I'd rate the puzzle fill medium/challenging but getting the theme answers pushed it way up to Very Challenging. Thank you Messrs. Last and Short for a very rewarding workout.

robber 10:46 AM  

here's something i thought i would never say

"here's to all the Kanye West fans doing the NYT puzzle on a sunday morning"

Cheers ;-) drop da beat

jae 10:57 AM  

AARGH! The puzzle part of this was probably medium, sussing out the theme, however, was a tad agonizing. I made the mistake of starting in the middle so I didn't get to IN ONE EAR....until it was about half filled in. Even with that in place it took a considerable amount of staring to grok what was going on. So, it was more like "IN ONE EAR AND gone with the wind" for a while.

Glad I wasn't in a hurry. Tricky and clever, liked it.

Wm. C. 11:08 AM  

Hated it!

I have myself to blame, since I tried to solve it as a themeless, coming up with phrases that made no sense, which kept making me question the downs (which I mostly had correct) in the "ear" areas.

But this is a puzzle that cannot be solved (in a fully-understood way) without seeing the theme conceit.

So maybe it's "my bad," but still -- I wasted about an hour of my time today in a state of high frustration.

After the fact, I guess I'll admit that this was a clever trick, but still .... Grr-r-r-rrr!!!

Ben Eggenberger 11:18 AM  

Difficult but enjoyably so. Really liked the theme once the second trick to it clicked. Agree that BCS is garbage. 45 minutes! :-)

Ben Eggenberger 11:32 AM  

P.S. Rex, I'll assume it's the gin talking when you say "But there is no necessary connection between awe and fear.". Right?

Kimberly 11:35 AM  

Wow. After weeks of complaining that the Sunday crossword was stealing my "aha" moment, they gave me a doozy. The ears came quickly, but I sat there staring at what should have been "cry me a river" trying to figure out why it didn't fit and was completely perplexed. Once it finally hit, when "where are" ended with "know," I wanted to grab my ipad and run outside and accost strangers to show them how incredibly awesome this was. It's an aha moment so delicious you don't want to keep it to yourself. I am perpetually dismayed that nobody I know cares. The usual response is "yes, yes, you're very clever, shut up." "No! " I want to shout. "Not me. The PUZZLE is clever. I demand you 'ooh' and 'ah' with me!" But they do not get it, and my joy wilts a little.

I was fine with awe being fearful, but blearing is not dimming. It's just not.

Overall I am happy and the NYTC has mildly redeemed themselves. Or at least it's a start (and now I betray my stodginess with a little giddy crossword dance).

Joseph Michael 11:56 AM  

Got the theme and the gimmick early on, but boy was this complicated. Very otic puzzle.

Though there were a lot of proper nouns and pop culture references, all were gettable via the crosses. Solved it in the end but ended up cross-eyed.

MattG 12:29 PM  

I guess there might have been enough pop culture already with Kanye and Carly RAE Jepson and AUNT Viv and Hey Ya and the SUMMER HITS, etc... but I'd have to think that Lance ITO is always better option than the partial I TO, plus it's sort of timely since there's that TV show about the Simpson trial right now that people are apparently watching. I think "Apollo and Adonis" might have been a fun clue for CREEDS as well.

Overall this was a fun, tough puzzle, though I agree with Rex about BCS and I'm a little leery of INBOX ZERO. Is 368,000 google hits good or bad?

Gregory Schmidt 12:41 PM  

Holy good God, what a mess. If the theme is so complicated, that the only choice is for the fill to be that awful, why bother?

Gregory Schmidt 12:44 PM  

@Nancy - Thank you!

Masked and Anonymous 1:12 PM  

1. HAR = great.
2. "PEANUTSES"?! har. Gotta admit: BCS = desperate weeject of the day, as clued.
3. Is drinkin the bugjuice a good idea, during the Big Puz Tourney? Does Dan Feyer do this? 9am Tourney SunPuz on a hangover sounds like trouble brewin.

RAE/ADA/COR = primo weeject stack. RAE = ear backward, so ok for not bein a circled portal dealy.
Cool theme idea; sorta like worm holes in space-time. EARworm holes.

PuzEatinSpouse & M&A did this puppy as a team, mostly. If there's ever a pairs-solvin competition in the ACPT, watch out for u&s. Ripped through it in a hurry. Lost precious nanoseconds only when the budgie waddled across the grid area. He did not make a puzzle entry -- but we kinda held our breath. Did chew up the corner, a might.

This was a fun puz, if U got some night-night rest and weren't fierce hungover. (Hint, hint.)

Masked & Anonymo12Us

p.s. Agree that SEEP = {slip} is a bit edgy. VLADIMIR is hard to spell.
LEAPY(EAR)WAX. Just sayin.

Carola 1:13 PM  

Great puzzle! Loved getting it all figured out. For a long while, I was really groping in the dark, with most of the theme answers partly in, up through the EAR part, followed by what seemed to be gibberish. Took a break from writing in answers and wrote out what theme answers I had in the margin. That was the only way I saw how the conclusions were jumping AROUND. That helped me lot to finish.

The only thing that took a little of the bloom off the rose for me was, as @Nancy mentioned, the overdose of proper nouns. I, too, thought, "Can't wait for @Z's breakdown."

Cassieopia 1:40 PM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle! "Cry me a river" was the first solution where I started to get this was going to be tricky ("cry me a risk"? I don't think so!) but I remembered when I had given up before and come here for a solution, and remembered how dissatisfying that was. So I persevered and with some help from Google on obscure hit songs, such as "I'm on a boat" and "heyya", the " in one ear and out the other" solve came to me in a flash! Extremely satisfying. Yielded a Sunday time one minute faster than usual, so I was pretty pleased. Really, really nice puzzle! Thank you puzzle constructor!

aa 1:43 PM  

I agree about the nice theme and also I agree about the more-than-usual number of questionable clues.

In the category of word-association-does-not-automatically-make-a-good-clue (e.g. FEAR and AWE as Rex pointed out):
what is the connection between FROM MEMORY and BY ROTE?

They are certainly not synonymous. Almost everything I recall from memory did not get there by rote. Am I missing something about this clue?

Julie Gomoll 1:44 PM  

InboxZero is very popular in the tech/startup world.

Roo Monster 1:47 PM  

Hey All !
Put me in the didn't-like-too-convoluted group. I figured Rex was gonna tear this puz a new one. Guess he's just too puzzled out.

That NW corner was an absolute nightmare. Natick everywhere, PPP central. Lots of other bad fill/WOEs, BYROTE, INBOXZERO(?), OILY/TOAT, ECUS, OBELI, HEYYA, and probably a few more.

One bright spot, figured out the EAR-thrus were paired, thank goodness for that, or else I would've quit doing it.

One word sum-up? Ugh.

EWE (As in, EWW...)

Martín Abresch 2:19 PM  

I liked this one a lot. Clever theme and much interesting fill.

I can't help wondering how this puzzle would have played if the trick wasn't signaled so early. I filled IN ONE EAR AND OUT THE OTHER before even reaching the other clues. I entered EAR into the circled boxes quickly. Figuring out the teleporting answers was pretty neat, but I feel like I could have figured it out without the circles.

Loved the ephemeral pop trivia nonsense that other commenters have decried. I'M ON A BOAT made me smile. HEY YA is one of the best tracks ever. ANNE Carson, AUNT Viv, GAIL Devers—the names jazzed up some boring fill. Loved SUMMER HIT next to INBOX ZERO. You just have to love a fresh term that has an X next to a Z!

Elaine2 2:56 PM  

I liked this puzzle; I appreciate a challenge on Sunday.

One small quibble (with the cluing) -- "Terza rima" is not the meter of the Divine Comedy; it's the rhyme scheme. Not the same thing....

Daniel van Hemert 3:18 PM  

Try printing your puzzles at 97% the normal size. You'll get the whole thing on the paper then, especially on Sundays!

Lurker Librarian 3:31 PM  

@anon 9:21 I find the Shortyz app works very well for Android. You can set it up for the NYTX plus it has the option to automatically import most of the other free daily crosswords. The only downside is it doesn't show the notes that occasionally accompany the puzzle.

Old timer 3:35 PM  

Got in one ear and out the other right away but took a while to see they jumped at each EAR and never figured out there were three independent pairs. Double DNF at ARES (I had Eros and forgot to fix it) plus forgot ALIG and did not have GAIL in my brain

Good tough puzzle and best regards to those at ACPT

Mohair Sam 3:42 PM  

AHA moment of the century (in Cruciverbia at least)! After much cursing and complaining that second when I said "HANG TIGHT, RIVER fits if it COMES OUT THE OTHER 'EAR' AT 55 across" made this a delight. And what fun filling in the blanks behind the EARs (keep your wisecracks to yourselves) after that. Sure the cluing wasn't PB level, and there was maybe a little too much PPP, but well worth the trade-off.

@Rex - Think HARdy HAR HAR. No problem with the AWE and fear clue at all - very biblical as @CFXK pointed out.

Aren't they still ORANGEMEN and ORANGEwomen? Or are they all just The Orange now? Older 'Cuse fans will know they used to be the Saltine Warriors too.

@Z from yesterday - Says a lot for our EPITHETS does it not? I've had several, usually linked to my assumed parentage or parental relationships.

@Lobster11 - EARholes, wormholes, EARworms - "Ride, Sally, Ride" will be with me for about a day. Thanks, thanks a lot.

Best Sunday puzzle in a long time. Challenging, different, fun. Thank you Natan Last.

pat mcmenamin 3:46 PM  

is it me or the puzzle 55A takeariver? 77A crymearisk? duh

Heller Maychem 3:49 PM  

Wow @Nancy, self-righteous much?

Norm 4:32 PM  

What a fantastic puzzle! So frustrating; so satisfying when the light bulb (LED?) went on. I'll even forgive Natan the stupid (my opinion) Kanye West reference.

Anonymous 4:55 PM  

Actually, Rex, the original meaning of "awe" is "fear" (and really great fear at that), so FEARED made good sense to me.

Kimberly 5:01 PM  

@aa your question confuses me:

"In the category of word-association-does-not-automatically-make-a-good-clue (e.g. FEAR and AWE as Rex pointed out):
what is the connection between FROM MEMORY and BY ROTE?

They are certainly not synonymous. Almost everything I recall from memory did not get there by rote. Am I missing something about this clue?"

Rote is a process of memorization... usually repetition of information until it is memorized. If you know your social security number, you likely learned it by rote. Although I do agree the "from" in the clue is suspect, since "rote" is the process of committing something TO memory, we often talk about people reciting "by rote," usually implying it's clear the speaker is only quoting memorized material rather than speaking with comprehension.

Alicia Stetson 5:08 PM  



The front is like a car, the back is like a truck,
The front is where you drive, the back is where you


Hugh 5:11 PM  

Not a very satisfying solve for me. I got the EAR thing right away and INONEEARANDOUTTHEOTHER soon after, but took forever to figure out the themes were in sets of two even with that.

And then...blah. Like someone else said, "so what??" Three sets of two... I'm hoping the effort it took to construct it was worth it for Natan, for me it just fell flat.

I did like INBOXZERO.

For some reason, also liked TIRESWING, no real reason, just like seeing it in a crossword.

Did NOT like BCS - like Rex. Also did not like BLEARES, not much of a word.

Agree with Nancy, a bit too much pop culture dreck but enough that I knew to make it tolerable.

Have a great week all!

chefwen 5:12 PM  

What a fun way to kill a Saturday afternoon, and that's about how long this puppy took to unravel. Like just about everyone else, I got the ear thing right away, the other part of the equation, not so quickly. It took TAKE A RISK for the lightbulb moment.

M & A would have scoffed at my HEE before HAR at 115D.

Clever puzzle, but there was a sigh of relief when I entered my last letter.

@Carola - That was a slap-in-your face Welcome Home. Snow squalls in April, Yeech! Although there were a few days while you were here that I thought we would see a snow flake or two. I exaggerate, but BRRR, it was cold.

Z 5:22 PM  

You are correct, @Nancy, a plethora of PPP today, amping up an already challenging puzzle.

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Products, and Proper Nouns as a % of answers. If it gets to 33% someone is likely to complain about the puzzle being unfair

52/140, 37%. However, 12 answers are only PPP because of their clues, which clued differently would have yielded a 29% PPP. I've given those answers an * below.



Challenging Puzzle Fan 5:25 PM  

@Nancy - I have no idea how you know what "most people don't WANT". Have you done a scientific survey?

Lisa H. 5:46 PM  

It was challenging, all right. My local newspaper forgot to put in the circles! Finished anyway. The puzzle was wholly unsatisfying,IMO

Chronic dnfer 6:44 PM  

Puzzle sucked. Total waste of time.

Z 7:45 PM  

@Challenging Puzzle Fan - I don't know that you can call it "scientific," but the PPP Analysis was developed specifically because of complaints like @Nancy's (and others) today.Sometimes a puzzle skews old, sometimes young, in its PPP. Because of this the "who" may change, but when more than a third of the answers are based on proper names and pop culture it is fairly certain that someone will struggle. As I solved I was constantly having to work through some obscurity or the other, adding probably a third to my solve time. While not universal, I think the general consensus amongst the commentariat* is that Wordplay>trivia. Sure, we all get a little dose of superiority whenever an ATTLEE or TERZA Rima falls, but sussing out the puzzle "wormhole" is where the real Ahas lay (hi @lms).

@Cassieopia - Congrats.

@Kimberly - You will always have the commentariat when the proletariat fails you.

@CFXK - I take your meaning, but I'm pretty sure neither awe nor fear are Hebrew (sometimes my inner pedant just has to be let out).

*I saw "commentariat" in the wild last night referencing the DC chattering class. I don't recall ever seeing it anywhere but here before.

Mr. Benson 8:05 PM  

I liked this quite a bit. The theme took a while to figure out but there were enough gimmes in the crosses that it became clear before too long. One of those impressive feats of construction that happen to make for an entertaining solving experience -- a rarity these days. Based on my completion time I'd call this easy-medium.

pmdm 8:09 PM  

I am not going to complain about the theme, even though I probably should. I am going to complain LOUDLY about the fill. That is to say, I am going to complain about the plethora of proper names. See the post by Z above. Terrible. Absolutely terrible.

NCA President: Listen to Van Beinum conducting Bruckner's 8th symphony, then listen to him conducting the other symphonies that he recorded. In general, the original versions make more since (even if they are longer), so listen to Inbal's recordings. In general, Bruckner is conducted too slowly, so listen to the symphonies that Norrington has already recorded. Bruckner isn't appreciated because most interpretations are as bad as this crossword puzzle. Perhaps listening to the interpretations I recommend (if you haven't already) may modify your thoughts about Bruckner.

GILL I. 9:01 PM  

NCA Pres said it all for me in his first paragraph. The only difference was my analogy.
I reckoned this to a blind date my best friend set me up with. She said he was cute. I agreed to go out because I like cute. I sat through about 3 hours of sheer hell and all the while smiling at him while he explained to me how incredibly smart and complicated and funny he was. I then remembered the fish tank guy I dated who named all his fish. (No @Leapster, nary a one called Wanda). I chose the latter.

Anonymous 9:40 PM  

Great puzzle if you like themes stupidly executed (this thing didn't even go in a circle; just adjacent pairs of phrases sharing "ear") that aren't that interesting to begin with (really: "ears"?!), are a fan of Anne Carson's poetry (I'm a New Yorker AND Atlantic subscriber as well as the daily dead-tree NYT reader, and I've barely heard of her) and of Kanye West (I know he's from Chicago so that one wasn't too tough) AND Outkast (with a song titled, wouldn't you know, in an already ridiculously pretentious and obnoxious puzzle, not "Hey Yo," which at least is a hiphop term familiarly to everyone, but "Hey Ya," much less obvious) and silly cluing like Rex's mentions of "BCs"/"panels" AND of some obscure pop song from seven years ago called "I'm On A Boat." Otherwise, you may not think it's so great. I certainly did not. The MOST annoying NYT Sunday puzzle in quite a while.

Anonymous 9:58 PM  

@Nancy: Well put critique; don't hold your breath. More and more, the Times puzzle seems to be designed for puzzle geeks and not for the majority of puzzle solvers. The Sunday puzzle was an abomination and Monday's is also pretty terrible.

another bad hair day 10:00 PM  

Too much for me. Never got the theme. There goes my streak. Boo hoo.

Anonymous 10:17 PM  

Worst puzzle ever! In my 40+
Years, I've never seen s worse one. Refused to finish!

Anonymous 10:54 PM  

Too cute by half.

Charlie Mitchell 12:54 AM  

It's like portal the video game but a crossword.

For fill didn't understand why Oscar Isaac wasn't clued for Star Wars especially since there was a force awakens nod in the clues. Would have been easy to link up also he is probably much more known for that now than ILD.

I was the opposite. Got the linking of puzzles then the ear thing clicked shortly after I got the theme.

Challenging puzzle fan 3:10 AM  

@Z - First, the "PPP was developed" is an odd choice of words. You developed it based on a "gut" feeling about what might irritate a sub-set of solvers. Got a Person's r?

Second, an admittedly small sample frequency count on today's unique comments shows a 24 to 15 positive reaction to the puzzle, which is no where near "most."

Z 9:36 AM  

@Challenging puzzle fan - Yeah - passive voice is usually a no-no. Still, while I do the counting I can hardly take credit for noting the issue. In fact, product names never bothered me much, not even the Ipanas of the world, until others pointed them out. If you go back to the 2/13 puzzle blog you will find the discussion that prompted me to start counting. It also highlights the impact of "wheelhouse" v "outhouse." That puzzle was in my wheelhouse so I found it hard to understand some of the complaints about it. The PPP was so in my wheelhouse that I didn't even realize just how much PPP there was in that puzzle. My curiosity on this issue is to separate out what is inherent in the puzzle and what is on the solver.

As for "most," I think I was unclear on my meaning. There is nothing bad in PPP in and of itself. But, if a puzzle stumps me because of a natick or an inscrutable section filled with PPP I don't know, I blame the puzzle. If the puzzle stumps me because of ingenious wordplay or a puzzling trick my response is "well-played" or to keep plugging away at it until I get it. There are regulars here who disagree, but I think it is fair to say that most agree that they'd prefer to struggle with a puzzle than struggle over PPP.

As for a Pearson R - Har. I don't think my version of SPSS will even run on this computer, and if it did I certainly wouldn't bother to figure out how to code the variables. Feel free, though. As I've said before, I don't own PPP, it's not copyrighted, and I mostly do it because a fair number of people seem to find it of interest.

Thanks for the questions/observations. It's always good to stir up a little discussion.

Hartley70 9:54 AM  

So true@puzzlehoarder! And yet I do use my phone to solve every Sunday, cursing the whole time! It helps to be myopic.

Hartley70 10:08 AM  

@IGill, LOL! Hooray for Aquaman.

I'm a day late completing this puzzle, but I needed to show up here to give it the applause it deserves. It was a corker! I love the difficulty level! I love the Pop culture and the proper names! There was just the right amount of each. I'm the Anti-Nancy today!

suebear37 11:16 AM  

The Syracuse Sub-Standard published this puzzle without the circles. No wonder I was struggling. 😠

Gregory Schmidt 1:42 PM  

I feel compelled to second (again) Nancy's sentiments. I enjoy crossWORD puzzles as an enjoyable diversion to test my vocabulary knowledge, and my ability to decipher creative WORDplay. I am not a big follower of popular culture, nor do I have a degree in Tertiary Literary Figures, Greek Mythology, or Names of Tiny Islands Involving 4 Random Vowels, etc. If I wanted to play trivia, I would seek out a trivia contest.

kitshef 10:41 PM  

Following the easiest week in living memory, a very hard Sunday. Took way longer than usual, but I thought I had it done. Came here and it turns out I was wrong so first DNF since March 11 thanks to TERZe/eRES.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

Great Puzzle. Out with the old in with the new. Sorry Nancy.

Rina 4:23 PM  

I'm always a day or two late. Got theme almost immediately after thinking there'd been a mistake in the cluing. Right. Laughed it off and got "...KEYS". So I had it after all, no mistake. Slogging cross so it couldn't be TRUCK for "Rig" or STEAK? Hard enough at a couple levels to finish with some satisfaction.

john 12:55 PM  

Talk about being late, I meant to have commented sooner but it escaped my alleged mind. I doubt anyone will peruse this anyway at this late date.
Re 3 Down, this led me to read the so-called lyrics to "I'm on a Boat". What an abomination! I don't think there should be any reference to such crassness in the Sunday NYT puzzle. End of comment.

Anonymous 6:30 PM  

What is TOAT??

Diana,LIW 7:12 PM  

Just re-stating from yesterday:

Checking out flights/rooms for the St. Paul tourney in June - there's a direct flight to/from, and a very nice hotel about a block from the tourney site. Tickets are not yet on sale on the website. Do y'all think there's any chance of a cancellation for the tourney? I doubt it, but don't want to get flight tickets 'till I'm certain. It would be so much fun to watch the pros in action!. Gonna try to post this paragraph on tomorrow's (Sunday) puz so I might get a response.


Anonymous 8:39 PM  

"To a tee" as in fits you to a...

Michael Sapio 10:59 PM  

Impeccably: To a t

Burma Shave 11:41 AM  


or TAKEARISK to just BEATIT and go.


Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Wasted the morning trying to solve this one. Still don't get it. Ironically I whizzed through our newspaper's usually incredibly difficult Saturday puzzle. Should have been an omen.

rondo 12:57 PM  

If last Sunday made me want to give up Sundays, this one may have done the trick. Can’t say how much I hated it. Got the INONEEAR . . . phrase quickly, then the EAR circles, then took, no, wasted, a long time figuring out the nonsense. And who was to say that it wasn’t going to be random “EARS” going in and out. Poor fill and clues, IMO. WADE is totally clued wrong. Others have mentioned further dreck. May not even look at next Sunday.

FEY RAE, two current yeah babies as a homophone for one from 80+ years ago. You may not care for Carly RAE Jepsen’s “Call Me, Maybe”, but it was huge in 2012 when I went to CA to buy a car; every radio station west of the Mississippi was playing it. Someone really missed out on the perfect time to clue for Barbi BENTON, one of Hef’s favorite yeah babies.

Though I live in MN, I bought my current car from a dealership in Sunnyvale, CA with an El CAMINO Real address. Really.

If I weren’t such a GENTLEMAN, I’d say this puz sucked.

From late last night-
@D,LIW - It's been my impression that the MN tourney expects more contestants AND more spectators this year. Maybe I can try to do some recon. Or maybe @GB will shed some light.
The St. Paul Hotel is the top spot to stay, has a great bar, and is only steps away from the tourney, if you're not too concerned about the price. There are a few less expensive yet acceptable lodging options within range if it matters.
I'm in St. Paul most days, so it's possible, depending on schedule, that I could be your airport shuttle. And, of course, the first round is on me.

spacecraft 12:58 PM  

DNF. No chance for this one. It's just plain undoable. It's not enough to switch halves of answers; we have to wade through a morass of ungettable, uber-obscure entries. I mean, c'mon. Lake Oahe??? There may be six people who have property near there; for the rest of us, forget it. And was it Oscar ISAAC, or ISAAC Oscar? I'd have to toss a coin. And he's the "star" of...what??? "Inside Llewyn Davis?" Are we actually supposed to RECOGNIZE this literary (stage? film?) "classic?" I guess both of the people who saw that know it. The rest of us, no way.

There's lots more in the same vein, but I won't bother. This has been the single most hopeless case ever for me. ALIG? OBELI?? I'm outa here.

DrJean 2:16 PM  

This one was particularly hard because I live in Philadelphia and get the puzzle in the Inquirer, one week later, and they didn't print the circles in the puzzle grid.

AnonymousPVX 4:51 PM  

I absolutely hate puzzles of this type. I don't understand the attraction at all. And this is the result, horrible clueing and ridiculous answers, all for what? This mess?

rain forest 6:31 PM  

Very challenging, especially when watching the Masters and Jordan Spieth letting so many back into the tournament. Always high drama on the back nine on the last day.

Oh yeah, the puzzle. I was more or less lost up top and wandered down to the middle/bottom, getting AMOK (which made me think it must be either N or S DAK.
Then for the two themers down there, I figured it out. They both had EAR in the circles and just switched endings. Aha! From there it didn't just fall down, though. Lots of fierce cluing and little twists had to be negotiated, and the entire middle North was a bear for me. Guesses on COR and ADA, although ADONAI seemed familiar. Then the last pair of themers, which were by far the toughest.

Anyway, I got it all done, but definitely challenging, yet fun.

strayling 7:49 PM  

This one was so much fun! Nice tricksy theme and some witty clueing made for a very satisfying solve. I do wish I'd been right about the letter I got wrong though. IN BOX HERO deserved to be correct.

Diana,LIW 8:22 PM  

Naticked by Natan, who out LASTed me.

My "solve" was similar to OFL's, only probably hours longer. Here's a recap:

1) First glances, uh oh, lots of PPP WOEs

2) First go-thru - got a few

3) A few more

4) Some real traction

5) Bleep! Stuck. Utilize rule allowing me to look up some PPP's I'll never ever know no matter how many crosses I get.

6) More traction. Getting sick of this puzzle. What's going on?

7) Oh... A bleeping rebus. OK. Keep going. Looks like they're all the same, and indicated by circles. Not too bad.

8) Bleep! What's going on? Where's my right to know??? I'd like to know!

9) It's gotta be Cry Me a River. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Puzzle goes from Hellish to Bellish (Bells are ringing, for me and my puz.) Enjoy the finish. Admire the puzzle. Nice little tough guy that he is.

To recap - Me, Sunday morning, sober as a judge and drinking coffee = OFL, bleary eyed after drinking on a Sat evening of an intense tourney. Plus a few hours (for me). Sounds about right.

And to all a good night.


PS more to come re the St. Paul June Tourney.

leftcoastTAM 9:53 PM  

No way this one should have made the cut. Little but mental masochism here.

Anonymous 10:55 PM  

OMG! A really clever and challenging puzzle that was well worth the effort required to solve! And yes, I agree, too much PPP. And also a few really weak fill clues. And yet, the challenge of the theme answers more than compensated. Kudos to Mr. Last!

Diana,LIW 10:58 PM  

So, on to the Minn Tourney in June. Yes, I am planning on staying at the St. Paul hotel in dntn SP, near the tourney site. Looks lovely.

Should be coming in on Sat about noonish, and leaving latish on Mon, so I can make a 3-day mini vaca out of this.

@Rondo - Mr. W says weather is awful in M/St.P in June. Looks like there are good/bad days. Eh? The bar at the hotel sounds good.

Gonna fly to the future to post some of this - Teedmn was also interested in meeting up. Don't know (remember?) where she (he?) is from.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for her first Tourney!

Anonymous 11:00 PM  

For those who haven't yet Googled it, "Inbox Zero is a rigorous approach to email management...developed by productivity expert Merlin Mann." But I agree with @strayling: INBOXHERO is a terrific answer and did, indeed, deserve to be correct. 8-)

Phillip Blackerby 9:00 PM  

Thank you!

Phillip Blackerby 9:13 PM  

"TO A 'T'"

Phillip Blackerby 9:22 PM  

I certainly understand people's complaints about PPP, but I consider a successful crosworder to be masterful at wordplay, an inveterate punter, and a dull participant in the culture. As for ON A BOAT, it won both a Grammy and a People's Choice award, and was critically acclaimed. The video drew 110 million YouTube views. Not exactly "obscure."

Wilbur Charles 6:04 AM  

Well, here it is, three weeks later and I just finished. I was busy OK? @Kimberly I completely identify: wanna talk about it and there's no one to listen
I can't possibly do anytime this tough which is why I slog on and somehow my cerebellum comes thru. I needed one more put it down and pick it up and I'd have had OILY and TO A T. I had ALIVE for bubbling and never got rid of the E
Finally, in the latimes x I ended up with ZERONES for Dupes and my son tells me his crowd had a term GEBRONES.
Again. So satisfying to finish a puzzle like this even if it takes a week.

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