2003 Bennifer Bomb / WED 7-27-2016 / Itemize / Refusal from Putin

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Constructor: Natan Last, Finn Vigeland, and the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class

Relative difficulty: A-OK for a Wednesday

THEME: RING CYCLE — Theme entries are things with between 1 and 5 rings

Word of the Day: PATCHOULI (13A: Scent in incense and insect repellents)
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth) is a species of plant from the genus Pogostemon. It is a bushy herb of the mint family, with erect stems, reaching two or three feet (about 0.75 metre) in height and bearing small, pale pink-white flowers...The word derives from the Tamil patchai (Tamil: பச்சை) (green), ellai (Tamil: இலை) (leaf). -- Wikipedia
• • •

This crossword gets the solver intrigued quickly: you hit 16A and the clue is (Place to find one O) and you say aha! Something is afoot here. Like a book passing the page one test; you want to see what happens next.

The answer there was THE HOBBIT, which does indeed have one O -- but it can't be that simple, of course. Soon you hit the clue for 22A (Place to find two Os) and the answer is VENN DIAGRAM. I got it there, and you probably did, too: these are not the letter O, but rings. The other three are:

CIRCUS TENT (28A: Place to find three Os), AUDI DEALER (40A: Place to find four Os) -- that's the automaker's logo -- and OLYMPIC FLAG (45A: Place to find five Os).

But wait, there's more! A reveal of RING CYCLE (59A: Wagner work ... or a possible title for this puzzle).

That's a nice Wednesday, don't you think? A little mystery, a theme idea you haven't seen before, a wide-ranging theme set, an apt reveal to tie it all together, and a little sense of self-satisfaction that you puzzled it all out.

Not to mention the clues, which are much more vigorous than the past two days. Let's try the best-three-clues test here:  BOOYAH (8D: "How do you like dem apples?!"), SAGELY (19A: In a Yoda-like manner), and ECHO (3D: "Hello ... hello ... hello ..."). Also notice the (Snatched) and (Snatches) pair at 52A and 53A for STOLEN and NABS

A nitpicker might pick the following two nits: 1) Wagner's RING CYCLE contains four works, so having five entries instead of four throws that off a tiny bit. And 2) the number of rings is set for 1, 3, 4, and 5, but a Venn Diagram can have three or four or more rings, so not quite as tight as it could be there. Maybe WEDDING HALL instead? Though perhaps the constructors didn't want to have two wearable rings as 1-2, so a reasonable decision. Very small dings there. And I'm not a nitpicker anyway, so I won't bring these two points up.

The fill is fine in retrospect, but you know what? I didn't even notice it while solving because I was so entertained by unraveling the theme. And incidentally the reveal was at the end, where it was supposed to be, so I got a chance to figure out what was going on before having it made plain.

Trying to decide between B+ and A-, and a final look over the puzzle pushes me to A- because I do dig that little trick with the letter O actually representing a ring. I bet the constructors realized that THE HOBBIT has one O in it, so we'd still go on thinking for a couple more minutes that it was going to have to do with how many O's the theme entries had. Also note the timeliness of the Olympics entry.

Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent of CrossWorld for 4 more days

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:04 AM  

Easy-medium for me. Delightful! Clever theme, smooth grid, liked it a bunch.

okanaganer 12:05 AM  

My favorite clue: "Messes with 007's martini".

Da Bears 12:07 AM  

As I said elsewhere, this puzzle is everything yesterday's wasn't Very enjoyable. Another nice write-up by MG.

George Barany 12:09 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot, and congratulate all involved in its conception and execution. Even learned a few new words (here's looking at you, PATCHOULI and YUBAN -- held my breath at the crossing).

Nice review by @Matt Gaffney, and I appreciate what you've accomplished over the past few days of your Regency.

Unrelated, I've been having recent problems with posting, and gather that (a) I'm not unique and (b) it might be tied to the html code. Thanks to all who have tried to help me trouble-shoot, off-Rex, and apologies in advance if I try to post the same content multiple times.

chefwen 12:51 AM  

This was a lot of fun, especially after I straightened out all of my mistakes. gAb before YAK, nOrma Shearer is the actress I remember before MOIRA which gave me BOOn before BOOM. I was strESSed before I OBSESSEd and my five O's were the logo before on the FLAG. That was a lot to mend, but mend it I did.

PATCHOULI was a brand new word for me, wonder how long I'll retain it.

AskGina 12:54 AM  

Smooth as a 15-year-old Macallan. A late week puzzle of comparable smoothness would be like a 25-year-old Macallan, almost too good to be true.

Anonymous 12:57 AM  

Liked this one, Venn in particular. I liked yesterday too.

Richard Rutherford 12:59 AM  
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Richard Rutherford 1:02 AM  
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Anonymous 1:13 AM  

I also enjoyed the clever theme & the smoothness of the puzzle.

Two of MG's minor complaints are potentially addressed by the existence of the theme answer he missed: 64A's I DO (It's said at the exchange of Os), which would make a total of 6 answers--I don't think they were going for the precise four of Wagner's cycle--and would also make WEDDING HALL an unsuitable swap for VENN DIAGRAM.

There's also 30D: END (An O doesn't have one). Is that a theme answer, too? The phrasing says yes, but it's kind of a weak offering, compared to the rest...

Marty Van B 2:15 AM  

Pretty nice Wednesday. Only section that gave me much grief was the northwest. The U crossing at patchouli and Yuban wasn't much fun. My brain despite groking the theme was on the lookout for Lord of the Rings rather than the Hobbit. That was the last to fall. Smooth sailing otherwise and that's wonderful considering Wednesdays are an often tricky to get right.

Michelle Turner 3:09 AM  

A thoroughly enjoyable puzzle. A big thank you to the constructors.

Loren Muse Smith 3:55 AM  

Matt – I liked your account of how the theme plays out little by little. Cool. I didn't get to experience it that way because I entered the grid at AT IT and solved willy-nilly. I did notice the O's in all the clues and got the trick at VENN DIAGRAM and CIRCUS TENT. I actually wrote in AUDI and OLYMPIC without looking at the clues because I'm just that smart. Snort.

But your catch on THE HOBBIT having only one O is great. Nice misdirect, that.

@George and @Marty Van B - I see your point on the PATCHOULI/YUBAN cross. I missed that problem because of all the patchouli oil I bought in Spencer's as a teenager. (Hi, @chefwen.) I think it was Spencer's, anyway. I imagine the patchouli gave my fellow school bus passengers a break from the strawberry oil I favored. Sheesh.

And how 'bout right there, smack dab in the middle – AN O. Hah!

Once I saw the theme, I kept hearing Ernestine.

I'm with Matt - loved, loved, loved the clues for BOOYAH and ECHO.

I also liked CIRCUS crossing SCREAM. Circuses scare the bejeezus out of me. Hate'em.

I've thought a lot about things like FLIED OUT. I joked with a student last year that I'd never "weed-eaten." Then we ran it in the ground the rest of the year. He'd always tell me he weed-ate the previous night. Fun that when some established irregular verbs take on another meaning, we slap on the regular past tense, and if we don't, it sounds funny.

*My paw-paw moonshone all during the '40s.
*That guy makes me sick; he grandstood the entire time.
*Mom moonlit as a waitress when she was a teacher.
*Man, did you see that couple? They bumped and ground all night.

Hey, Acre Circus Moira – was that really you? OH WOW!

NL, FV, and the J.A.S.A. guys – nice job. Always fun to solve one of your puzzles.

Anonymous 4:43 AM  

...Oh, wow.

Cassieopia 5:08 AM  

What a happy Wedneday solve! BOOYAH was my fave, followed closely by VENNDIAGRAM - fun fun fun! Loved all the redundant clues - not just the across Os but the one down O just for fun (END), the adjacent "snatched" and "snatches", the 2 "...said" clues...delights abounded in this one. Probably my fave clue was "hello...hello...hello" and while the app wouldn't allow this, I'm wondering if the printed version had a decreasing font size for each subsequent "hello"?

I completely agree with the previous posters and with Matt that this was an absolutely delightful puzzle!

Lewis 6:38 AM  

@lms -- Great catch on ANO.

This puzzle shines! Lots of answers with spark: GET_OVER_IT, DJANGO, NUFF, BOOYAH, and KITED. Lovely clues for PITS, ECHO, and STIRS. It was on the easy end of Wednesday but had enough rub to satisfy. It's one of those rare puzzles where the END is in the middle. We really don't need the reveal in this puzzle, but it is so clever, it deserves its place on stage. An unintended theme spinoff: Five answers end with a long O.

My only nit is that THE_HOBBIT, AUDI_DEALER, and OLYMPIC_FLAG make us think of the word "ring", but with VENN_DIAGRAM, we think "circle" (in the Wiki article "ring" is not mentioned once). But that is just a nit, because the spark and overall delight from this puzzle had me from the first theme answer. Bravo!

smalltowndoc 6:56 AM  

Agree with everyone else. The best puzzle in a long, long time. Very tight and clean, clever theme, good fill, nice clues and some answers that are actually not covered in cobwebs.

kitshef 7:16 AM  

I can say without fear of hyperbole that YUBAN is a million times worse than anything that has ever appeared in any puzzle, anywhere, ever. Then crossing it with PATCHOULI is just sadistic.

Hated both clue and answer for BOOYAH. Ditto for OHWOW. Hated CVS and CSI and PTA and GEOG and RTES and NOI.

But … I really dug the theme, and the reveal was nifty, so overall I liked doing this one.

At trivia night one time we got a sheet of car logos and had to name the brands. I went zero for ten, which included missing Toyota, which I had been driving for about five years at the time (I guessed Ford), and Mercury, which was my car for the previous decade (I guessed BMW). AUDI needed all the crosses is what I’m saying.

Martín Abresch 7:17 AM  

I enjoyed this a lot, but I think that VENN_DIAGRAM is out-and-out wrong. As @Lewis points out, they are less rings than circles, as they represent areas. Heck, they don't need to be circular at all. And as Matt pointed out, they can involve two, three, four, or more shapes. It's a fun entry, though, so I hate to dis it.

It's my only complaint. The theme was clever and a joy to discover. The clues were lively. I particularly enjoyed those for STIRS (Messes with 007's martini), END (A O doesn't have one), and BOOYAH ("How do you like dem apples?!").

@Loren Muse Smith - I enjoyed your list of regular past tense irregularities.

Cartoon Gamerz 7:40 AM  

Very nice puzzle but it didn't have enough crunch to deserve an A, IMHO.

Venn diagrams can be constructed with 1, 2, or 3 circles (rings), but not 4 or more. For 4 or more, other shapes are required. There is a pretty Venn diagram with 4 ellipses. It divides the plane into 16 (2 to the fourth power) regions. I have read that a Venn diagram can be constructed for any number of figures. I've seen one with 11. It divides the plane into 2 to the 11th power regions (2048). It uses irregular shapes of different sizes.

Danchall 7:47 AM  

Check out the PDF of the newspaper version, available from the print option. The rings in the clues are circles, not O's. , although they still look like them.

If you haven't read the Wordplay entry, then this might be of interest:
.... the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class is part of an ongoing series of college-level, continuing education classes for adults age 55 and over. This particular class meets in New York City to learn the art of crossword construction and sometimes gets their puzzles published in The New York Times. If you live in the New York City area and would like to join the class, here’s the information on signing up.


Here’s a peek at some of their other published puzzles.


math guy 7:48 AM  

The Venn diagram comment was done by math guy. Cartoon Gamerz is my grandson.

AskGina 7:53 AM  

@anonymous 4:43, beautiful. Mr. Shortz, standing o (that's an oh)!

Anonymous 8:04 AM  

I am glad to see that the rings were Os somewhere because in the printed version of the International New York Times they appeared as a lower case i that went below the line (almost like a j without the curve at the end). My main reason for checking the website was to learn what this symbol actually meant. All I learned was that the font didn't quite match up from the US to Switzerland. I will tell you that it was even more interesting to figure out when you had no idea what the symbol was.

Chaos344 8:06 AM  

Great Puzzle! Great week so far. Matt is doing a fantastic job!

Wm. C. 8:10 AM  

@Cass5:08 --

Yep, the dead-tree version had decreasing font in the clue for echo.

@DaBears -- to your comment yesterday about ESTES for the ST designator, it's pronounced ESS-tis in Estes Park. So no ...

NCA President 8:15 AM  

I liked it. And I still like PATCHOULI.

I have no nits to pick...there were no groans...and the solve was slightly more of challenge today than the usual Wednesday, mainly due to the theme.

So a hardy (if not rare) thumbs up for hump day.

GeezerJackYale48 8:19 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle, like everyone else, but I have to admit I wasn't sure what a Venn diagram was. After Wikipedia explained to me that its general use began with the new math in 1960, I realized why. Once again, I show my age! Which as of this day is now 88. You know, old people talk a lot about age and death and illness. I guess its normal. Having admitted that, I wonder if I am the oldest - one of the oldest - solvers?

Tim Pierce 8:30 AM  

On the easy side of a Wednesday for me (but that's not a complaint). Very well executed, very clean fill, overall lots of fun.

One very minor criticism: maybe a little of Rex's perfectionism is rubbing off on me, but the reveal didn't strike me as entirely accurate. There's nothing about the puzzle's construction to suggest a ring CYCLE. They're just clues themed on different numbers of RINGs. Maybe if the theme answers had been connected end-to-end. It's a very small thing, though, and did not detract from my enjoyment at the puzzle at all. Overall, great work!

AliasZ 8:36 AM  

We had a run on circles in puzzles this past week, so today let's call them rings. People won't even notice.

The clue "place to find two Os" at 22A is entirely correct, since you need at least two Os to make a VENN DIAGRAM.

By sheer coincidence, the internet radio station I listen to at work (http://mr3.radio.net/ --Radio Bartók) is airing a live broadcast of the RING CYCLE performance from the Beyreuth Festspielhaus. Yesterday it was the opening "Das Rheingold". All I can say -- despite Jim Horne's impassioned remarks at xwordinfo -- a little Wagner goes a long way.

What a lovely puzzle! Thank you Finn, Natan and the J.A.S.A.

Let freedom ring.

Z 8:59 AM  

It took me until CIRCUS TENT to see the RING because I was considering "hole" at THE HOBBIT and VENN DIAGRAM doesn't SCREAM RING to me.

Nifty theme, bonus theme material in I DO and END, and AÑ O. But I'm not surprised to see PPP complaints because it is extremely high to high depending on how you look at it.

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns as a percentage of answers.
I'll use an * for moldy, ** for fresh, and *** for personal WOEs.

30/76 for 39%. But 5/6Tths of the theme answers are PPP. Discount them and we still have 26/76 for 34%. Interestingly, some of the PPP is by cluing choice (STIR and NYET for example).

SAGELY (Yoda clue)
STIR (James Bond clue)
*GIGLI (2003 but it is moldy already)
**Angelina JOLIE

Roald DAHL
WHO (Abbott and Costello Clue)(This will NEVER be moldy)
OWNER (Ted Turner/baseball clue)
CORGI (Q.E. clue)
**NYET (Republican Presidential Candidate clue)
ACRE (Pooh Clue)
ARE (MTV clue(???))

The PPP comes from all over, so the high percentage will be mitigated. Still, I would have suggested a few different cluing choices.

I was all set to complain that the absence of moderation has brought back the spell casters, but then I noticed that the posts in my email are all from older puzzles.

Alec Schwartz 8:59 AM  

Found the North pretty crunchy as I've never heard of YUBAN and wasn't clear on spelling of Patchouli. As I finished there, the misdirect on The Hobbit was lost on me. Since I had "rings" figured out by Circus, I expected an Olympic reference so the bottom filled in very quickly -- even though the Ring Cycle was new to me.

Doug 9:06 AM  

Liked this puzzle a lot since it took me awhile to solve -- I was all over the grid. When I got the theme I just smiled. When I read the blog, I knew right away that it wasn't Rex. I kept wondering what he would be complaining about.

QuasiMojo 9:15 AM  

I do wish people would not wear Patchouli as often -- and as much -- as they do nowadays. Sometimes when I visit the hipster cafe near me, I run out of there, gagging. No joke! Fun puzzle, with zip and flair. Only bugaboo is "sagely." Seems like a phony word. "He sagely crossed the street"? Or "the spaghetti sauce was sagely spiced"? Wisely, I will move on. Happy Hump Day, y'all! :-)

JayWalker 9:15 AM  

I actually had a great and a fairly easy time doing this puzzle. I am somewhat amazed at the problems so many had with patchouli and Yuban Coffee, and yet I had never heard of a Venn Diagram - EVER. Not totally sold on clue for "booyah" (is that one word or two?) but other than that - had a great time solving this one. Geezer Jack: I'm 77 - you have me by 11 years, but, like you, sometimes that's a solving aid and sometimes a curse. But I totally agree with MG - it's worth an A- easily.

Lewis 9:21 AM  

@tim -- I just saw it as a cycle, progressing in order from one to four. My Mac dictionary has as one definition of cycle: "A complete set or series" and the example it gives is "The painting is one of a cycle of seven.".

the redanman 9:22 AM  

I struggled to like it, but I did it on the NYT website (JAVA?) and don't like that method,so I may not have a fair opinion as he fill overall was mostly pretty good and I did fine.

I'm going to guess easy for a Wednesday, had I solved on paper as usual, typically a printed A-Lite grid.

chefbea 9:24 AM  

I'm back...Havent done a puzzle all week...too busy with wedding stuff in SanDiego. Took the red eye back and now finally getting back to life. Had trouble with this puzzle..maybe because of jet lag. Will read all the comments later

Charles Flaster 9:31 AM  

Liked this easy one and enjoyed Matt's review.
BOOYAH--new to me and I understand it but what is it?
Very creative cluing for SAGELY, STIRS,and ECHO.
Could clue VOUS as "Nice you" for a bit of misdirect.
No apparent crosswordEASE which is difficult and a nice overall job by the whole crew.

Sheik Yerbouti 9:31 AM  

Pretty good theme, and some snappy clues. Wish they'd cleaned up that north section -- YUBAN and KITED are pretty rough. But otherwise, solid for a Wednesday.

AskGina 9:32 AM  

Re. Yuban and patchouli. If you're a woman of a certain age that section was nothin but net. You see yourself sitting at the kitchen table in the morning waiting to leave for school, your mother there drinking Yuban and working the crossword puzzle, while you sit there reeking of patchouli oil, staring grimly at her and thinking, "I'll never be you." HA!

Hartley70 9:41 AM  

I found the top third of this puzzle an A+ opening. I got PATCHOULI from the P and I couldn't say how, because I have only a vague idea what it smells like. I have a feeling it was floating around dorms in the 60's and probably wafts out the door of head shops today. Could I be wrong? I took THEHOBBITT clue literally until I saw VENNDIAGRAM which revealed the RING theme to me and I loved it. YUBAN was a stretch to remember. KITED and BOOYAH were great. At this point I was ready to create an award show just to give a prize to these creators.

However, once I understood the theme, the themers became more obvious and I knew what they would be before I read the clues, although I did try logo before FLAG. The Wagner answer was a gimme. I liked seeing ANO in the center and IDO was a nice touch, but there wasn't an entry to rival the rarified quality of the fill in the upper section. I would have to lower the grade a scootch here, sadly.

This was a very, very good Wednesday and had the sparkle and suspense been carried throughout, it might have been the best ever.

Mohair Sam 9:44 AM  

Loved it. Couple of sins here and there (I'm looking at you VENN) but who cares? Terrific theme overcomes all.

Played challenging for a Wednesday here, had to work bottom up because we were frozen out of the North, freaking PATCHOULI. A KITED check isn't a permanent bad check, btw. Back in the day it was good to know those outlining delis that only went to the bank once a week (if you don't know what I'm talking about you've had good luck in your financial life).

Good old YUBAN. When I finally realized the DIAGRAM would be VENN that "N" opened the top. After PATCHOULI filled I remembered a girl in my high school class (Patchogue) a few centuries back who would on occasion mumble "PATCHOULI High stinks" - I never got the joke until today, good one Anne Marie.

Great puzzle Messrs. Last, Vigeland, and The Gang. Thanks.

Nancy 9:45 AM  

Really liked it. (With the big, big exception of BOOYAH. WHATHOW?) Like @gagananer, my favorite clue is "Messes with 007's martini". I almost Naticked in the midEast, when I wrote down WELL [said] instead of NUFF [said]. The L of WELL gave me LOG (instead of FIR) for the Yuletide purchase. And because I knew neither JOLIE nor GIGLI from the clues -- though I do know the names of both -- it took UGLI to straighten me out. But the theme was lively and original. And it provided plenty of challenge for me, since I really didn't know the ring logos of most of the theme answers. One of the strongest Wednesdays in a long time.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

16A is clever in the the hobbit(s) had the one ring.

Aketi 9:55 AM  

So, another LFC today. All those years in the 70s when I had to suffer through the horror of exposure to the stench of the then highly popular PATCHOULI oil, I thought it was spelled Petulia.

@Quasimojo, I'm sorry to hear that the trend has returned in the hipster community, the new pot they smoke actually smells just as bad if not worse. I've already been struggling to cope with the rise in use of in Aromatherapy and Febreze. I FLEE the women's locker room in the dojo when someone thinks that adding the stench of febreze to the stench of sweat actually improves the situation. My parents did buy YUBAN from time to time which smells far better than any scented oil I've ever encountered. Maybe be ill buy some cans of YUBAN to open up in the dojo to see if that creates a less noxious mix.

@mathguy, your grandson is adorable. I prefer three-ring VENN DIAGRAMs to the 2-ring ones and they much more fun with varied shapes.

GILL I. 9:58 AM  

I never know if KITED is a bad word. It doesn't even appear in my dictionary but I've hear it before. PATCHOULI, on the other hand, yikes, that stuff is powerful. All the hippies in New York and San Francisco would drown in the stuff. It lingers like YUBAN leftover coffee grounds.
NICE Wed. puzzle. Didn't get IT, though. Had to come here to figure out that we're talking about RINGs. I learned about the VENN DIAGRAM here but it still didn't help me.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

I'm not so sure about the 007 clue. It's a nit, but I think the preposition matters. The directive to shake not stir is only used in the making of the drink. If the bartender stirs it then he's messed up the order not messed with it. To mess with something is to molest it. I'd be messing with James's martini, if I tried to slip a mickey in--whether it had been stirred or shaken.

Passing Shot 10:16 AM  

This ALMOST makes up for the crapp overstuffed puzzle on Sunday, the joyless Monday, and the meh Tuesday. When I saw the B and the H in the NE corner I said to myself, "could it possibly be?" BOOYAH!

Chaos344 10:21 AM  

@Tim Pierce :

How about something like this Tim:

Clue#1. Put on
Answer: Don
Clue#2. Wear
Answer: Erode
Clue#3. Sweat
Answer: Perspire
Clue#4. Lave
Answer: Wash
Clue#5. Rid of Soap
Answer: Rinse
Clue#6: Reiterate
Answer: Repeat

Clue in the center of the puzzle: Nab a perp or a clue to this puzzle.
Answer: Collar

Arrange the first 6 clues circling the grid around the center clue.

There's your true ring cycle!

Roo Monster 10:40 AM  

Hey All !
Wasn't PATCHOULI oil popular with the Hippies? That's how I've heard of it. Not that I am a hippie... And YUBAN is a popular choice of coffee, especially at CostCo.

Liked the puz, nice O's=rings theme. Was still thinking the letter O when I got CIRCUSTENT and was wondering why a CIRCUSTENT would have three O's.
Why not more? :-) Eventually the ole brain realized the O's were rings. Nice Ohhhhhhhh, now I get it moment.

Wonder if the clue was changed for ANO? Since END is clued by an O, should've been cross referenced. That's my only nit for this one.

Lots of the letter O throughout puz, NE has 5, a bunch of O's along with a bunch of bees (fun clue, that one.) Liked the clean fill, NUFF notwithstanding. That one ruffled a tad. But I'll GET OVER IT. Yoda speak= SAGELY. Funny, I wanted dyslexic or some such!

ALSO, I SEE OH WOW &BOOYAH. BOOMS! (Just a little fun with answers.)


Tim Pierce 10:41 AM  

@Lewis, fair enough. And in fact Wagner's RING CYCLE doesn't have a circular structure either, so I'll concede it's just me.

@Chaos344: I love it!

old timer 10:44 AM  

Great puzzle. No one who was alive in the hippie era can forget PATCHOULI. It was the dominant smell on Haight St in the Summer of Love (1967). In those days the cops would use the smell of pot as probable cause to search you. I always figured PATCHOULI oil was so popular because it hid the smell of pot on your clothes (or in your hair or beard). Also in those days it was somehow OK to smoke pot up on Hippie Hill, the grassy rise you find at the other end of the pedestrian tunnel near Stanyan St in Golden Gate Park. Unless of course a uniformed officer was present. Definitely not OK to smoke a joint on Haight St itself.

YUBAN coffee is something else again. You can still find it, but maybe it is only found in California where it is now made. My mother got her coffee at A&P when I was little. When she ended up shopping at other stores, she became a YUBAN drinker, before switching to an even better brand. But I can see that many solvers would not know YUBAN, especially younger solvers.

Despite my nom de blog, I am nowhere close to the oldest regular poster here. But old enough to remember PATCHOULI.

Joseph Michael 10:48 AM  

Best puzzle in a long time and a great Matt critique to go with it. Enjoyed the original theme and the cleverness of the clues. Also liked the bonus entries -- such as ANO -- sprinkled throughout the clues and grid.

Knew that the four rings had something to do with AUDI but couldn't figure out how "logo" could stretch to six letters. Considered "symbol" until the Downs finally yielded DEALER.

With BOOYAH, bOOMS, OH WOW, and GEE, this puzzle appears to be in a very good mood.

Also liked GET OVER IT over STEP.

Cassieopia 10:56 AM  

As a child of the 70s, this comment made my day!

Sheryl 11:06 AM  

I liked the puzzle - easy/medium for me. I also liked the write-up, which pretty much described my own solving experience.

As for whether Venn diagrams contain circles or rings, and the fact that they can contain more than two... These nits don't concern me. If someone said to me, "Could you show me what a Venn diagram looks like?" I'd draw the simple case - two intersecting circles. I mean, rings!

I want to once again mention the superiority of the iOS Puzzazz software in accurately displaying NY Times puzzles when they have unusual features. It showed today's puzzle with rings (versus capital Os) and the decreasing-in-size font for the ECHO clue ("Hello... hello... hello..."). It's much better than the NY Times own software - AcrossLite, or whatever it's called. What you see looks just like the paper or PDF version.

I mainly use Android devices, but I use my iPad Mini for the puzzle because of Puzzazz.

old timer 11:14 AM  

KITE, the verb, is in my Collegiate dictionary. Means writing a check against funds that are not in your account. Not a "bad word" at all, but uncomfortably close to a bad word.

Penna Resident 11:21 AM  

i rarely dislike a puzzle, so it is surprising that i disliked this one which everyone else thinks is great. i did like the theme but that was the only thing.
1. i don't ever like the cheater in 1A. starts off on the wrong foot.
2. yuban
3. too many actresses
4. gratuitous unmatched theme stub at 64A.
5. a bit heavy on the colloquialisms. dont mind a couple of these, but this had so many that OH was repeated in 15A and the 62A clue. surprised no one complained about that.

unlike rex i dont look for things to dislike - when i have this grating feeling while solving have to go back to see why.

Ellen S 11:30 AM  

Amen to what Sheryl said -- Puzzazz on my iPad always renders the puzzle perfectly -- as in this case, the descending font size for HELLO ... Hello ... hello, and the rings showing up as bigger, bolder and rounder than a mere capital O. The only thing I wish it would do would be let me use my external keyboard. And that mostly because ... Well, mostly because I always go for the external key board and it takes me a moment or two to remember to use the app's own on-screen keys. And then I feel like an idiot.

Anyway, I want to join the crowd that appreciates @Matt Gaffney's Regency. I look forward to his posts, something that has not been the case for, well, ever, and the flow of the comments is much improved when it's unmoderated. @Rex, even if you don't come back in a better mood, please leave it unmoderated at least, so we can enjoy the commenting.

I enjoyed the puzzle, as well, and the misdirect of the one "o" in Hobbit was nice. A good Wednesday.

Numinous 11:33 AM  

To add a baseball reference, Natan, Finn and the J. A. S. A. Managed to hit for the cycle. If you don't know, the "cycle" requires four, a single, a double, a triple, and a home run all from on batter in a single game.

@Matt, I bit on the single letter 'O' in the word hobbit too. I didn't get VENN DIAGRAM, right off and it wasn't until I looked at the clue for the CIRCUS entry that I finally heard "three ring CIRCUS."

@Alias Z, I can barely stand Wagner on a good opera day, Saturday's on my regular online station, KUSC, when they have the Metropolitan Opera on.

YUBAN took me a moment to remember. My wife drinks Maxwell House, and I drink espresso. I thought of Mrs. Olsen before I saw how many down letters were required.

If this wasn't Mr. Chen's POW, I can hardly wait to see what gets it. I liked this a lot and believe it deserves an A+.

Anoa Bob 11:39 AM  

Nice theme with some challenging fill, especially the names. I've heard of C. P. SNOW but not D. J. ANGO. Nor GIGLI, MOIRA & LEONI. Got 'em from crosses, so no ERR there.

Tried AUDI embLEm at first for the four-ringer. I guess those two Ms and the B would be tUFF to cross.

Yeah, there's a bonus ring in the center. ANO may mean year in the NYT xword, but in the Yucatan (as clued), and the rest of the Spanish speaking world, it means something else. Both it and its English counterpart, anus, come from the Latin anus, which, according to my trusty Random House, means, yup, ring.

Old hippie here, but I'm not familiar with PATCHOULI. I guess I should be thankful. Based on others comments, I think if I smelled it, I would SCREAM and FLEE.

Happy Pencil 11:41 AM  

I liked the puzzle, but like so many, I hesitated at that PATCHOULI/YUBAN cross. Having never heard of Yuban in my entire life, I couldn't imagine that spelling was correct, and that made me unsure about patchouli. I don't think we get Yuban up here in our Canadian igloos, so that seemed slightly unfair. Looking forward to some puzzles with lots of French in them to level the playing field again!

Anon@10:12: If you order a martini and demand the bartender make it shaken, not stirred, he may think you're a bit of a jerk and decide to mess with it -- and you -- by stirring it anyway. Or at least that's how I took it.

Tim Pierce 11:45 AM  

@Anoa Bob, that's not D.J. ANGO but "Django," as in Django Unchained.

WA 11:46 AM  

When I saw Booyah, I thought the puzzle was about Kramer and overheated financial advice. When I saw who were the constructors were, I was afraid of a puzzle by committee, but only one or two clues were tortured.

BTW, my parents used to drink Yuban 50 years and I have not seen it in the interim. Does the name Sanka ring a bell.

Numinous 11:50 AM  

BTW, I enjoyed seeing PATCHOULI. I had a girlfriend in 1970 or so who wore so much of it, it permeated my clothes to the extent that people thought I deliberately wore it. I actually like that scent. As I now spend most of the day outdoors with an enormous population day-feeding mosquitos, I wonder if I would prefer wearing PATCHOULI to wearing OFF Deep Woods.

And, I too thought of nOrmA before MOIRA though I did eventually remember her.

Matt Gaffney 11:56 AM  

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the two little bonus rings. Also forgot to say that the central Across could've been RIO for the Olympic tie-in.

mac 12:11 PM  

Very good Wednesday puzzle! I learned "kited". Maybe that team should stay together!

Nice to see @Numinous back.

Masked and Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Oh man. Talk about bein ganged up on: A whole classful of constructioneers, plus two pro ring-leaders. Like the results a lot, tho. A- sounds good, to m&e.

Had some initial troubles with theme sniff-out time. First of all, PATCHOULI and THEHOBBIT entries were the same length, so I naturally assumed that either both or em or none of em was part of the theme. Second, never heard of PATCHOULI. Only scents I am familiar with are:
* Cinnamon rolls are ready.
* Coffee is ready.
* Primo pot.
* Still some cinnamon rolls left.
* Time to change underwear.

To compound the problem, I did not know YUBAN, either. So that PATCHOxLI/YxBAN crossin was tense; lost several precious nanoseconds, before option for the when-in-doubt-pick-U rule.

Did not notice that the clue O's were a dash on the biggish side, until I finished up. So … that clever construction team brought in some ringers, too boot.

Thanx, Crossword Class and ring-leaders. Funner than snot.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

kitshef 12:43 PM  

@ANOa Bob - Great catch. I bet it was intentional by the construction team.
@M&A - They don't know who they are dealing with if they think they can Natick you at a U.

Master Melvin 12:53 PM  

Born in Brooklyn & my father was fluent in Brooklynese. I can't imagine anyone who says "How do you like dem apples" saying BOOYAH. :-)

da kine 12:55 PM  

That was an excellent puzzle and I'm glad to see 90% of the commenters are picking at nits on it. The one-O "HOBBIT" answer was devilishly clever. Good job to the constructors. I had no idea about YUBAN but the crosses were all fair. I thought PATCHOULI was standard issue at college orientation...anyone without a high and tight haircut got it issued to them with their student ID and dorm key, I thought.

Masked and Anonymous 1:12 PM  

Whoa, darlin … Break out the party streamers, and change my underwear. My first comment today stuck its landing!
I owe it all to clean livin, eschewin the harsh language, and denyin the existence of runtpuz weblinks.

@George Barany: The Blorg is a son-of-a-gun, ain't she? [See that? No harsh lingo. (Still plenty of new runtz U'd like over at that other website, btw.)]

@Mr. Gaffney: Primo write-up. U do good work. The NYTPuz clues tend to get more meat on their bones, as U go later into the week, btw.

@kitshef: har. Well, it's been done once in a blue moon, but talk about yer painful Nat-ticks.

fave weeject, today: AN O. Seems to be a fave with some of the rest of y'all, also. Correct answer will have the "O" part bigger than normal, of course.


Anonymous 1:19 PM  


I guess I can drink to that. Thanks

Teedmn 1:23 PM  

No problem here with PATCHOULI - my hippy-ish older cousin wore it often in the seventies, or maybe it was just from the incense she always had burning. When I go into Electric Fetus, the local record store/incense seller/head shop (I still buy my music on CDs), the aroma of PATCHOULI brings back memories. Not that I like the scent; the new knowledge from the puzzle that it is used for insect repellents doesn't surprise me at all!

It would have been cool if the type in the clue for 3D got smaller with each "hello". "TracFone User" didn't fit there (I get lousy coverage with my dinosaur of a cell phone, hi @rondo and @Diana LIW) but a "Can you hear me now?" answer was what I first expected.

I wanted a Common Yuletide purchase to be the FIgs for figgy pudding, but otherwise, this puzzle played easy for a Wednesday.

Fun stuff, thanks, N.L., F.V., and J.A.S.A.

Chuck McGregor 1:46 PM  

27a: = Locker room humor phrase (and probably best kept there):

Q: How would you like your drink?
A: I'd like a stiff one.

"That's what SHE said"


I seem to recall that LMS had a word for someone who says, "And I'm not a nitpicker anyway, so I won't bring these two points up," before or after doing just that: brining them up. I'm obviously not referring to the first part as @Rex never, ever nitpicks. :>)

The director of a chorus I accompany loves to wear PATCHOULI and I mean LOVES! The proof? Her neighbors once told her they like walking by her house as they could smell it out on the street.

As a scent popular with hippies, I liked the juxtaposition of the then popular hippiesque "OH WOW"

I ALSO liked JOLIE (French - nice) crossing GENIAL.

A CYCLE is ALSO a place to find Os (usually one, two, or three).

"The letter (O) is the fourth most common letter in the English alphabet."(Wiki). That the RING CYCLE has four operas seems fitting for the usage.

In 1970 our ship docked in Malta, a U.S. Navy port of call, several times while deployed with the 6th Fleet. One of my shipmates and I went to a European-based CIRCUS there. One of the skits by the clowns was a satirical parody of U.S. sailors. We were quite conspicuous as two of those (and the only two in the audience) being required to wear our uniforms at that time while on liberty. The audience seemed to be far more interested in watching our reactions than in watching the clowns. We did not disappoint them by being "UGLI Americans." It was quite funny and we laughed through the whole thing. At the conclusion of the skit most of the audience turned towards us and we DRWW far more applause than the clowns.

Later we met three British Navy chiefs who invited us aboard their ship for "a drink." Their rank entitled them to have rum and beer on board. The rum was over-proof Jamaican. They each proceeded to down a few glasses of rum (not shots!) chased with pints of beer. I'm sure that latter was more potent than the usual American fare. We SAGELY sipped on just one glass between the two of us (with no beer) which we did not even finish. In spite of that we had quite a serious buzz on when we all left their ship to get some dinner. In contrast, I swear those Brits seemed stone-cold sober!! The quantity of rum they consumed was far more than the “The daily tot” of 1/8th pint this article states was their ration at the time. From the taste and our reaction it did not seem at all watered down. My guess is it wasn't all that well enforced (at least on their ship).


Science trivia:
The mathematical reciprocal of the OHM is, figuratively and literally, the MHO. (one divided by OHMs = MHOs).


Dick Swart 1:50 PM  

I absolutely enjoyed today's puzzle! A very nice theme, very well executed. And it clears the air after yesterdays murky effluence.

Chuck McGregor 1:51 PM  

Oops, that would be @Matt who was doing the nitpicking, though my facetious statement about @Rex still stands :>)

Wm. C. 2:02 PM  

@ChuckMcG --

I thought the reciprocal of Resistance Unit Ohn is a Siemens.

Wm. C. 2:03 PM  

Oops, that's OHM, of course. (Blush)

beatrice 2:04 PM  

Very nice puzzle - good work, class! I thought perhaps there were some older students involved, what with PATCHOULI and YUBAN - both wafts from the past.

@Nancy, from yesterday - I apologize if you know this and you were just being sly, but in case you don't know - AliasZ has had puzzles published, both here (at least once) and at 'Barany and Friends', under his non-alias.

I certainly know of the 'bomb' GIGLI, and perhaps have remembered it only because it was the namesake of 'the most famous tenor of his generation' (Wiki), Beniamino Gigli (1890-1957), who was my mother's favorite opera singer. I decided to link to three of his recordings here - a Puccini and a Donizetti which were both made popular favorites by Pavarotti in his time; and a Mozart that is a particular favorite of mine.

'Nessun dorma' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ru8Lf_SAPIo

'Una furtiva lagrima' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WypCwmguX5w

'Il mio tesoro' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-RRyDK3s4k

Whirred Whacks 2:38 PM  

Fun puzzle. I've owned 5 Corgis (two currently) and it always puts a smile on my face to see that breed mentioned.

I'm delighted to read that PATCHOULI oil is still a thing. Like many of you, it made me happily think back to a girl friend I had in 1970 who liked nothing better than to have me rub warm patchouli oil all over her body. :-)

@Leapfinger Thanks for correcting the malady the "Awakenings" people (which I mentioned yesterday) were suffering from.

My bet is that Rex pulls the L-Dopa from us after the Sunday puzzle.

Joan 2:41 PM  

It did have decreasing font size for "Hello.. hello...hello"

Numinous 3:25 PM  

I won't mention, @Chuck McGregor, that the word you are looking for is paralipsis, that is, to call attention to something by ostensibly not doing so. See what I did there?

kitshef 3:29 PM  

@Wm. C - both Siemens and mho are used for the inverse OHM, though Siemens is the official name.

File as fog 3:57 PM  

That would be shakes. Finishes Bond's martini would have been proper. This crossword stunk

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

Regarding the theme I solved Circus Tent first...ah three ring circus. Next theme I solved was The Hobbit but not based on the one O in the word, but from the Inscription in the ring "...One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them".

Chuck McGregor 4:22 PM  

@Wm. C, 2:02 PM

This is probably TMI --

The siemans and mho are synonymous. The "siemens" officially replaced the mho as the unit of conductance (a derived SI unit of measure) in 1971. However, mho is still in use. Its symbol is an upside down omega whereas the symbol for siemans is S. This is usually done to avoid confusion with the symbol for the SI base unit second: s.

The siemans is both singular and plural, e.g. 1 siemans, not 1 sieman. Also, though it came from a proper name, it is not capitalized when used as a SI unit of measure. The same is true for faraday, ohm, hertz, ampere, kelvin, and weber. Also no "s" is added for plurals of these, e.g. 5 ohm, not 5 ohms.

Is the proper use of units of measure important? Does anyone care? It can be expensive and/or deadly when "do the math" with regards to measurements is not done properly. Just a few examples:



Chuck McGregor 4:47 PM  

@Numinous 3:25 PM

Thanks!....and I did see what you did there - LOL!

Paralipsis crossword clue?: Not to mention one mentioned it.


Allie Curreri 5:35 PM  

Nope, Bond wanted his martini shaken, NOT stirred, so the clue is spot on! Questionable martini taste on Bond's part though for sure

weingolb 8:07 PM  

Do people still use checks, let alone use the verb "KITE" to describe some of them?
Maybe just the YUBAN drinkers and PATCHOULI wearers?
Thanks for unearthing a time capsule. DNF

Warren Howie Hughes 8:22 PM  

OH GEE! Natan, It's been a long time since I LAST SINEW and NYET you scarcely look a day older. There AUDI be a law, it's so ERIE!

Aketi 10:22 PM  

The HOBBIT contains an O that represents a RING. But it could also potentially represent an O-RING. I still have a tool box full of O-RINGs because I once had an O-RING fail on a scuba diving tank when I was first learning to dive, fortunately the consequences were not dire since it was still at the slow leak stage near the end of the dive,

Leapfinger 7:20 AM  

O man! PATCHOULI reminded me of a coworker (Hi, Erica!)whose signature was copious use of the stuff. The only reason people took her seriously was that she was really, really good in her work. Like Wagner, a little goes a long way.

Re the erudite and interesting VENN_DIAGRAM expositions: good thing the clue doesn't specify "two and only two".

This theme was All mine, cuz "My precioussss" is my main mind-sticker from that set of films; My Girl's first car was an Audi 100LS that we sunk $2500 into fixing up just right to withstand her first wreck; and my mind's eye can still see the OLYMPIC FLAG at the '46 games in St Moritz (I was 3, and my mother told wriggling me to pay attention, as my father would be the next one coming down the ski jump. He wasn't, but it stopped the wriggling.)

Liked knowing DJANGO Rinehart's odd fingering is due to a hand deformity and am grateful to have heard Beniamino's name before ever seeing GIGLI spelt out. Don't think I know LEON I in the Papal succession. However,I did once shoot pool on some BOOYAH baize.

Great fun throughout. Some times, a committee gets it Just Right.

Let freedom wring out every drop.

AskGina 1:44 PM  

In retrospect, I decided it was me. It's a nice puzzle and I think Matt's grades have been spot on all week. But I slept in and hurried through it, slightly over stimulated by the fact that I was flying through a Thursday. @Loren, thank you for "carcass of the eviscerated." It just rolls off the tongue.

spacecraft 9:14 AM  

Ya gotta love any grid that can hold PATCHOULI. I liked this one, and am not that bothered by the VENN discussion. Yes, there can be more than two, but the most common use involves that number. There really isn't much to frown at here: maybe NOI, but I'll GETOVERIT.

Toughest problem for me today was awarding the DOD. JOLIE seems the obvious choice, but MOIRA was an exotic beauty, and I certainly wouldn't kick Tea Leoni out of...office. And we have yet to mention yesteryear leading lady Arlene DAHL. DREW Barrymore's not really my type, but would certainly qualify for many. OMNIA vincit amor.

My first thought was birdie, but then I thought, what am I saving my eagles for? I can't give 'em ALL to PB1, can I? Great job, kids; you have an eagle!

rondo 10:18 AM  

Seems the device-sters didn’t see rings (or circles), see what you miss solving on toys? How could PATCHOULI possibly be new to anyone? YUBAN nearly as easy. @weingolb – yes people still use checks, especially in places far from tall buildings. @Anoa Bob – challenging fill? You should get out more often, all of ‘em gimmes.

Nobody’s made mention of the two bonus ○ clues/answers at 64a and 30d as found in my print edition.

@teedMN – yup, walking into the Electric Fetus with the PATCHOULI and other incenses right inside the door still reminds me of going there in the ‘70s; have been going there for 40+ years.
Still haven’t made my new TracFone “smart”.

Madam Secretary yeah baby Tia LEONI gets the nod from several choices as @spacey has pointed out. Jennifer is all GIGLI in the right places.

If it takes a class to raise a puz to this level I’m all for it. I ECHO all WHO liked it.

Burma Shave 11:32 AM  


so GETOVERIT SHE’s ROMAN, WHO knew SHE’d ruin the ACT.


rain forest 1:39 PM  

I don't think the J.A.S.A. class has ever come up with a stinker, and today's puzzle is true to form. At an easy-medium level, it had creativity and sparkle throughout. Plus it had THE HOBBIT.

Interesting that it had YUBAN and PATCHOULI, which are/were of the same era. I hated the smell of the latter, and preferred Maxwell House to the former. Actually, I have always considered instant coffee to be a different drink from "proper" coffee, and I rarely have instant anymore.

@Loren Muse Smith - I noticed the 3 O binder as your avatar today. Cute. Coulda been a themer.

Nice puzzle.

leftcoastTAM 2:33 PM  

Matt Gaffney says it all.

BOOYAH? New one on me.

Hardest were the PATCHOULI-THEHOBBIT mini-stack and the VENNDIAGRAM/VOUS cross where I erred with tENN.../tOUS. Pardon my French.

I'll just have to GETOVERIT.

Diana,LIW 4:09 PM  

After an early morning appointment, I came home and picked up the puz and said, "This is going to be fun." I could just smell it. Must have been the PATCHOULI. I, too, had a friend in the 70's who wore it all the time, in lieu of deodorant. We worked together, and I always knew when she was in the office.

CPSNOW was my only total woe, but got it from the crosses. And the good clue. Seeing the Wagner reference had me worried, but even I have heard of the RINGCYCLE.

Liked the series of ECHO clues - "That's what ___ said" "___ said!" Snatched/Snatches You, in Nice/Nice ANO/NOI

NUFFF said.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

PS - @Rainy - glad to see you're still here. Thanks for pointing out LMS' 3-ring binder.

wcutler 5:25 PM  

Thanks to Anoa Bob 11:39 AM for the ANO explanation. That was great hidden themer, better than AN O.

The Vancouver Sun had great rings, but I don't think the hello echos are a reduced size. I'm of mixed feelings about whether I'd have wanted that extra hint, though it would have been fun to see.

So fun. Even the the hackneyed IDO was totally redeemed by the ring clue.

rain forest 2:28 AM  

@wcutler - welcome to the Syndi section. I too get the NYTxword from the Vancouver Sun, and it's nice to know I have company. Stick around.

Nightowl 4:57 AM  

Yes, from the 60's, too!!

Nightowl 5:30 AM  

Syndi, here-late night,also! Liked the puzzle, except for 'nuff said--boo!! Finally got it, after nog became fir. I knew patchouli and yuban by reputation.Maxwell House is not my choice for instant or brewed coffee; that would be Nestle, Folger's, or generic. Ring cy le was a gimme, my music major showing!! Fun!!

Nightowl 5:31 AM  

Syndi, here-late night,also! Liked the puzzle, except for 'nuff said--boo!! Finally got it, after nog became fir. I knew patchouli and yuban by reputation.Maxwell House is not my choice for instant or brewed coffee; that would be Nestle, Folger's, or generic. Ring cy le was a gimme, my music major showing!! Fun!!

Nightowl 5:32 AM  

Yes, from the 60's, too!!

leftcoastTAM 4:08 PM  

Mostly agree with Matt Gaffney again, but not on his grading (I'd give it an A) or his rating, "on the easy side." On the challenging side for me.

Symmetrical placement of theme answers did help a lot, but they didn't come easy. C[ART]HIEF and B[ART}ENDER were the last to go. "Auto booster" for the former was a new one on me. The latter was especially clever, as Matt pointed out.

Last entry was unrelated short fill in the NE, the ELLA/LALO cross, but an "educated" guess took care of it.

BENDER-BARTENDER combo, PEAT flavored Scotch, and
M[ART]INI added an imbiber's mini-theme.

I liked the puzzle a lot. Just found it more time consuming than I would like for an entertaining Thursday.

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