Gloria of Miami Sound Machine / THU 7-28-2016 / Sweetums / Kind of chat

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Constructor: Adam G. Perl

Relative difficulty: On the easy side for Thursday

THEME: LOST ART — Eight grid entries are missing the letters ART as clued, but still form familiar words

Word of the Day: AEROFLOT (42A: One of the carriers in the SkyTeam alliance)
OJSC Aeroflot – Russian Airlines (Russian: ОАО "Аэрофло́т-Росси́йские авиали́нии", OAO Aeroflot-Rossiyskiye avialinii) (MCXAFLT), commonly known as Aeroflot (English pronunciation: /ˈɛərˌflɒt/ or Listeni/ˌɛərˈflɒt/) (Russian: Аэрофлот, English translation: "air fleet", pronounced [ɐɛrɐˈflot]), is the flag carrier[3] and largest airline of the Russian Federation.[4] The carrier operates domestic and international passenger and services, mainly from its hub at Sheremetyevo International Airport.
Aeroflot is one of the oldest airlines in the world, tracing its history back to 1923. During the Soviet era, Aeroflot was the Soviet national airline and the largest airline in the world.[5][6] Following the dissolution of the USSR, the carrier has been transformed from a state-run enterprise into a semi-privatised company which ranked 19th most profitable airline in the world in 2007.[7] Aeroflot is still considered the de facto national airline of Russia.[8] It is 51%-owned by the Russian Government. As of September 2013, the Aeroflot Group had 30,328 employees.
• • •

I knew something was up when I couldn't get that northwest corner to work. Finally puzzled out that 1-Across was CHIEF (Auto booster), which I didn't understand but figured it must be some car slang I didn't know. Turns out it was C(AR T)HIEF, since 39-A (Letter writing, they say ... or a hint to eight answers in this puzzle) was LOST ART.

So these entries lose their ART but leave another (unclued) word. That's mildly amusing. Not a barn-burner of a theme, since it's not really that fun to go searching for the remaining missing ARTs, but it's not unpleasant, either. I would cap this idea at a B+, so it's only a B+ if the constructor did pretty much everything else very well.

Which he in fact did, as follows:

1) He made the ART-less (not "artless") entries symmetrical. This is both elegant and a nice courtesy to the solver, since the post-reveal hunt could be a bit tedious without it.

2) He didn't overstuff the grid with theme. Eight looks like the sweet spot here, especially since you've also got the central LOST ART to contend with; any less would seem thin, but any more wouldn't let the fill breathe.

3) He gave himself the chance for a nice grid with 2), and then knocked it out of the park. Look at all those above-average 6's, 7's, and 8: EAT WELL, MR. TOAD, AEROFLOT, FEEL FREE, TAKE THAT!, ESTEFAN, POLARIS, LET'S GO, EDWARD I. That's some fine word-weaving; every 20 seconds of my solve I kept mentally noting "good entry" over and over. I would have worked obscure SAAR out (just make it SEAR with EDEN crossing) but not much else beyond that. Very good grid.

4) While the theme per se is only moderately interesting, its eight words are well chosen. C(AR) THIEF is a nice find that might have been overlooked, and was interesting to finally parse, And that "The Artist" becomes THEIST is also fun. BENDER/B(ART)ENDER is an interesting pair, since bartenders have seen many drinkers on a bender. M(ART)INIS is another good one. The others are P(ART)ISANS, P(ART)IES, P(ART)ONE, and REST(ART)ED. 

While I don't think this theme is quite snappy enough to put an A on, it's still perfectly good and the constructor maximized the concept and execution nicely. This is a skillfully crafted piece of work.  Letter grade B+.

Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent of CrossWorld for 3 more days

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


George Barany 12:10 AM  

It was hard to give @Adam Perl's puzzle my full attention with all the drama from Philadelphia playing in the background, but @Matt Gaffney's analysis gibes quite well with my own. CYCLE seems left over from the previous day's puzzle, which also had a standout clue for STIRS that put me in the right frame of mind for today's M(art)INIS clue. Kudos to all!

Please bear with me as I gradually continue trouble-shooting difficulties with getting posts to stick; will try to minimize disruptions to the flow.

jae 1:34 AM  

Medium mostly because it took some effort to suss out the LOST ART clues.

I'm still trying to decide if this was fun or irritating, although Matt is right about the fill. That part I liked.

chefwen 1:41 AM  

Couldn't for the life of me figure out how pies were involved in having a ball. Luckily, I uncovered LOST ART early on in the game, that made solving a whole bunch easier. Mini theme going on with PARTIES, BARTENDER, MARTINIS and EATING WELL going on. Sign me up for that, sounds like fun, LETS GO!

Anonymous 2:07 AM  

The clue for CAR THIEF was nicely misleading but also a bit ridiculous seeing how a
"booster" is a shoplifter. Auto shoplifter? Right.

Marty Van B 2:17 AM  

Nice write up, Matt. Thanks for the insight into the engineering of the puzzle.

I, too, noted as I was solving the fun entries including the FEELFREE and the TAKETHAT columns in the center of the grid.

I once worked for Air France which is member of the SkyTeam alliance yet still took longer than it should have to remember AEROFLOT. Gotta admit, I miss the perk of business class travel for $130 between NYC and Paris. I had a ball with the PARTIES in Paris over a weekend but I was never any good at avoiding jet lag which made that Monday morning return to the office rather tortuous.

Anyway, this was a fun one. Nothing put up too strong a resistance and minimal on the drek side. Felt lucky to realize 12d was referring to ELLA Fitzgerald lest that crossing with totally unknown composer to me would have resulted in a DNF.

Mín Abresch 3:35 AM  

I thought that I would get into the spirit of this excellent puzzle.

I found it tough due to the high PPP. I look forward to seeing @Z's analysis, but just eyeballing it I'd guess it has to be in the neighborhood of 40%. I felt as if I was running into a tough proper name at every turn.

Robert Browning came to my rescue in the SE when I recalled his poem "Fra Lippo LIPPI":

... This world's no blot for us,
Nor blank; it means intensely, and means good:
To find its meaning is my meat and drink.

Shout out to Argentine LALO Schifrin, who composed the "Mission: Impossible" theme. It uses the rare 5/4 time signature.

Never heard of ENFIELD or AEROFLOT, which made the west region the toughest spot in the grid for me. Guessed at ENFIELD/LORI. In the case of AEROFLOT, I had --ROFLOT for a while and my brain kept parsing it --R_OF_LOT. Argh! What the $%&! could that possibly mean? The A in AEROFLOT was the last letter to go in.

I liked the cluing. Favorites include: EVEN (What people who are hurt may try to get), VETS (They're out of service), ELLA (Scatter?), TAKE_THAT ("So there!"), and LSD (Subtext of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit").

@George Barany - There is a third reminder of yesterday's puzzle: CYCLE stood alongside HALOS (Celestial rings).

Aketi 5:50 AM  

@Martin Abresch, depending on how far your stretch the link, PIES are a fourth reminder of the circles but you'd have to eat out the center to have a RING. As a child we had a dog that did exactly that, ate out the middle of the pumpkin pie left on the dining room table to cool for our Thanksgiving dinner. All we had left was the ring of the crimped crust round the edge.

Even though I found the LOST ART fairly quickly I had trouble figuring out where it invaded the clues. I blame it on waking up way too early for my brain to function.

Lewis 6:56 AM  

Maybe that lost art is the anagrammed 62D (TAR)?

I loved this; it had so many things I liked. A very nice aha. Lots of problem solving. Terrific clues (ELLA, VETS, LASTS, TERSE, EVEN, B(ART)ENDER, C(ART)HIEF. Some nice answers (FEEL_FREE, CLEFT, MEWL). Righteous indignation morphing into, "Oh wait, that's fair!". Several moments of doubt vanquished at the last instant.

I liked it so much that ping was such sweet sorrow.

kitshef 7:10 AM  

Superb theme. Made more challenging by the asymmetric placement of the lost arts.

At one point I had an extra themer, as I figured it was the GETTY art Museum, and I even thought how neat it was that one of the missing ‘art’s was just the word ‘art’.

M(art)INIS again. I do not understand their popularity. Give me a choice between a martini and a warm Scheafer, I’ll take that warm beer.

Liked the anagrammed ART at 50D and 62D.

I wonder about that clue for 49A. I always thought active duty military personnel were veterans. Certainly that’s the way we use the word outside of the military – an active baseball player is either a rookie (basically, first year), or a veteran (everyone else). Any actual veterans know more about this?

Loren Muse Smith 7:20 AM  

Tough for me. I know a few hymns, but the lyrics to "Rock of Ages" – nope. So CLEFT never would've occurred to me. I guessed "clean" there, so that rifle, Footloose singer… hopeless.

But, Matt, I agree with your four points. It would've been a bear had the entries not been symmetrical (@kitshef?), and I loved that the carcass of the eviscerated word was a word in itself. That BARTENDER/BENDER pair – what a fortuitous delight!

I had no idea Scotch could have PEAT in it. I considered "pear" for a bit. I tried on the persona of a Scotch snob for a while. Would order Ballantine neat (Ballantine peat neat) and try to give off a bored, haughty vibe. It was short-lived, and I put my gin snob clothes back on. Bombay on the rocks -funner person. Somehow juniper feels happy and bright. PEAT??? Dirt, right? Wow.

The clue for 63D, "Skye cap," was inspired.

And for 51A EAT WELL, my first thought was "eat clean." Isn't that a newish thing? Didn't I see an ad for Panera bragging that a big percent of their food was "clean?"

OH HI again. Sharing a grid with IDLE chat. That's the reason I duck around corners. I'm probably an impatient, uncaring person, but I just don't want the full update on this person's mother's back problems.

I did my darndest back in the day never to respond to any anonymous comment because of all the trolls and because I just wish it were not an option to comment anonymously, but this is a new era, right? So, @anon 2:07am - I can totally hear two guys in some movie talking about "boosting" a car. Works for me fine.

It's a fun exercise for me to take parts of words out to see it you have anything good left. Really fun. I loved this trick and the pairs Adam chose. Once doing a MISSING PARTS (changed to THE DEPARTED thanks to Jeff Chen) theme, I figured out that if you take PART out of HIP HOP ARTIST, you get HIP HOIST, which still makes me laugh for some reason. Hey. You're running to Walmart? Pick up one of'em hip hoists for Maw Maw so's I can reach her heating pad.

Adam – terrific Thursday. Thanks.

mathgent 7:24 AM  

Not at all easy for me. I was lucky enough to guess my way through NW because I didn't know FIT (even though my friend has one), CLEFT (the constructor fooled me into thinking of the movie, not the hymn), the actress Lori SINGER, or the rifle ENFIELD (which according to WikiPedia isn't its complete name). I enjoyed finding the eight "arts" but that corner left a bitter taste in my mouth.

I just did a little surfing to try to figure out how Honda came up with the weird car name FIT? It seems that they were going to call it the FITTA, but that word has a sexual meaning in parts of Scandanavia.

Joseph Welling 7:32 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"The clue for CAR THIEF was nicely misleading but also a bit ridiculous seeing how a "booster" is a shoplifter. Auto shoplifter? Right."

No. The verb boost also means generally "steal" (not just "shoplift") so one who boosts a car is an auto booster. For example.

Z 7:37 AM  

Eight is a tad high for me. Fortunately they were symmetrical so I knew the 4D/20A crossing wasn't part of theme, allowing me to resignedly put in LORI. Is that the preacher's daughter and does she sing the song in the movie? I guess Uncle Google will probably tell me. On the other hand, EDWARD RRN took a little extra time to suss out. If U were a RRN I'd have gone with MuNIS and not looked back.

@Min Abresch - I see what you did there. Nice. I will commence my toting up in moments, but it felt high to me, too.

Anyone else mildly amused by "subtext" in the clue for LSD. I pretty much think of it as the text, that's about the least subtle sub-text I can think of.

Gloria ESTEFAN? I prefer her uncle

Z 8:06 AM  

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns as a percentage of the answers. 33% is the somewhat arbitrary standard for excessiveness.

26 of 78 for exactly 33%. If it feels higher it may be due to 15 of the 26 being in the across clues.

OSLO Accords
CLEFT (Rock of Ages clue)
LALO Schifrin
Gloria ESTEFAN (I've got her uncle going on YouTube)
Bklyn HTS
TRIPS (Orbitz clue)(missed opportunity for an LSD cross-reference!)

Honda FIT
EDAM (Babybels clue)
GETTY Museum
Fra LIPPI (not Fra Lippo LIPPI

chefbea 8:16 AM  

Too tough for me. Knew ART was left out but still could not do it. I love scotch but had no idea that it contained peat.

NCA President 8:17 AM  

@Lewis: Excellent catch. I definitely wonder if "ART" was actually lost and you could "find" it in the TAR. That would be a nice touch to the theme.

BUT...MG writes: "Eight grid entries are missing the letters ART as clued, but still form familiar words" as the description of the theme...but should he have said, "Eight grid entries are missing the letters ART as clued, but still form familiar RANDOM words?" Because I don't see any connection to those words that are artless except they are words. PIES has nothing to do with having a ball. CHIEF has nothing to do with auto booster (which I agree with @Joseph Welling, that is stretching "booster" a bit too far), and so on. None of the words formed mean anything relevant to anything else. Just words with a missing A-R-T.

Lewis' idea of an actual missing A-R-T sort of redeems that problem for me, but if that were the case, then the themers would have been better had the A-R-T been in different order in the different places.

I dunno...I think the theme is weak...especially for a Thursday, the marquee day for grid shenanigans. You're just missing ART here and there (albeit symmetrically) and leaving random words. Sooooo...yeah.

A lot of the fill was really easy...almost Monday easy. STAYAT, EATWELL, KNORR, LETSGO, CLEFT...all were gimmes for me. The thing that I spent most of my time on was trying to make the lost ART work both ways. For example, I got P[ART]IES, but somehow couldn't figure out how the missing ART affected POLARIS or ISAY. I just stared at it. In every instance it happened.

I came here to find out why...and now I know.

So, meh. I give it a C. Average with good fill, but a major ding because the theme was wonky.

Glimmerglass 8:28 AM  

I thought this was about right for a Thursday. (If you thought it too easy, why would you soften the "obscure" SAAR?). I really enjoyed the theme and found it challenging, even aften I sussed out the gimmick. I agree that the fill was outstanding. This one gets an A in my grade book. (When I was an English teacher, I reserved the grade of A+ for an essay I wished I'd written -- and yes, I awarded many over the years.)
@Aketi. I'm not much of a pie crust man, but it must have been embarrassing that not even the dog would eat your pie crust.

Joseph Jakuta 8:56 AM  

I am so glad that the app didn't make you put in the "ARTS" I could not for the life of me realize that it was C[ART]HIEF.

Mohair Sam 9:21 AM  

Wow. Gave up with only 7 missing ARTs. Wrote in CYCLE and guessed right - never noticing the symmetry. Very clever theme, we loved it.

Terrific clues throughout. Loved "Scatter?" for ELLA. And don't know the actress LORI Singer, but we're damned sure of Kenny Loggins - so we went nuts with that misdirect.

@Z - ON the LSD clue - the lyric doesn't suggest we "Go ask Timothy O'Leary" so I'm good with "Subtext" in the clue - but I see your point.

Fun Thursday Adam Perl, thank you.

Nancy 9:36 AM  

A very, very, very clever rebus -- but too hard for me. I didn't complete 4 squares in the NW. I had YAN--, but wasn't sure of the one-named singer. I didn't know and still don't know, what FIT is at 5D. Can someone explain? And I was cursing the fact that there were 2 singers I didn't know and 2 car clues I didn't know in the NW. I thought that CHI-- (at 1A) was some sort of engine-like thingie or carburetor-like thingie in the belly of a car where I've never been and I was going to give this puzzle a C- for making me cope with such arcane car knowledge (Plus singer knowledge, of course.) Now that I see that 1A is the very, very clever C[AR THIEF], I'm revising my score to an A Minus. I'd give it an A if it weren't for all the proper names. Did everyone else know the ENFIELD rifle, btw? I've heard of a winFIELD, but never of an ENFIELD.

I dodged trouble by avoiding writing down ENSNARES before checking it, and thus came up with ENMESHES first. But I didn't check 33D before writing it in -- and therefore gave myself era trouble with NOSE before BEAK.

What can you say about a puzzle that at 33A gives you a tricky theme answer AND a misleading pun in the same clue? B[ART]ENDER. You can say: now there's a very hard puzzle!!

Nancy 9:38 AM  

Extra trouble. Sometimes my 8-year-old computer skips letters as I'm typing. And sometimes I neglect to look.

AskGina 9:40 AM  

This ranged from easy to impossible for me. I filled in lost art right away but got all the theme answers, except chief, on crosses. So my arrogance did me because I didn't go back to see what id done. I don't know whether I don't feel good about the puzzle or myself.

Whirred Whacks 9:48 AM  

Knowing THE (ART)IST broke it open for me. Intriguiging concept, kind of a pain figuring out where all the ARTs went. It would be interesting to know if Mr. Perl discovered any good F(ART) jokes but left them out for reasons of good taste.

@ Matt Gaffney Good review. (As others have also expressed), I especially enjoyed your focus on the puzzle's engineering and the feats it accomplished. You ultimately awarded it a B+ which seems fair.

That said, I think you should revisit your grading (F) of Bruce Haight's Tuesday effort, which in hindsight seems overly harsh. It also was a "feat of engineering." Your main complaint was the pronunciation of the name ESTEE. It seems to me that the right way is ambiguous. Ambiguity is the soul of cross wording -- especially in clueing.

On Monday evening, I gave Haight's puzzle a "meh" which is a C-. It's now Thursday. Does his puzzle look any better to you today?

I'll be sad to see you go -- you've been an exemplary Regent!

kitshef 9:49 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith - the words from which the ART has been stolen are symmetrically placed in the grid, but the exact squares from which the ART has been stolen are not. For example, in B(art)ENDER, it is missing from the beginning of the word. For it to be symmetric, THE(art)IST should be missing the ART from the end of the word.

@Nancy - FIT is the name of a car model sold by Honda.

Roo Monster 9:58 AM  

Hey All !
Managed to grock all the non-ARTs (even though I didn't see them symmetrically for some odd reason), but still ran into a Natick or two. That L of ELLA/LALO was a complete Hail Mary, was thinking B,S,L, or Z. Managed to write in L. Also, F of CLEFT/ENFIELD. Very odd clue for CLEFT, and since I had an A in ESTaFAN, and not sure about LORI, ENFIELD, besides being a WOE, was some shaky ground there. Imagine my surprise when I checked puz here, and found it all correct! Except that blasted A, giving me my infamous one letter DNF.

Did like the puz. Had E center messed up for a while with nose for BEAK, and wanting shiRR for KNORR, and oVEr for EVEN. But figured the -FLOT would likely start with AERO (another WOE, BTW), so finally saw BEAK/B(ART)ENDER. Seen this type theme before, but still executed well and stretched the ole brain without injury! Couple of good puzs in a row.


QuasiMojo 10:03 AM  

Starting out with "Phase" instead of "Cycle" helped me little. I DNF and cheated to get the F in Chief. Never heard of a Honda FIT but then I've been carless now for a few years. Are they affordable? Nothing else seems to be these days. Since when did used cars automatically start at ten grand? Give me back the 70s, please! I enjoy your commentary @MattGaffney but I thought this puzzle was a bit too clever by half. I did love the 007 Martinis clue however. (Altho I had put in Munis first thinking it was a municipal bond!) Woe is me.

GILL I. 10:04 AM  

Like @Lewis, I loved this puzzle. I just kept filling in answer after answer just waiting and waiting for something to jump out and bite me arse because I know that's what Thursdays do. AHA..LOST ART. So I go back upstairs looking for the places I'm supposed to insert ART. THAT was the fun part. The only one I didn't see was REST[ART]ED. Dang...
I flew AEROFLOT precisely one time. It was sometime in the 80s. We flew JFK to Moscow in what was one of the oldest, noisiest rattle rattle jet I've ever encountered and will hope to never encounter again. Gadzooks, I sang "Rock of Ages" the whole way there and back. Moscow was fun though.
I give you a solid A Mr. Perl. This was fun; it wasn't musty and it wasn't fussy - it was just right.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Not an expert, but I think it's more correct to say that Scotch is flavored with peat--specifically with peat smoke--than to say that it "contains" peat. I understand that the malted barley grain is dried, arresting germination, over peat fire. Did not catch on that the ART-less entries were placed symmetrically.

Nancy 10:10 AM  

Thanks, @kitshef, for explaining. But really! FIT as the name of a car model? Just awful. MUSTANG. CUTLASS. CORVETTE. SILVER CLOUD. Now THOSE are what I call appealing car names!

AZPETE 10:22 AM  

Dogs, gotta love em!

Cheerio 10:27 AM  

Loved this! Interesting clues, interesting answers, picked up some good crosswordese ("soot" goes into my list of black colors). "Ella" - that was a tough, tough clue, but awesome once I figured it out (by getting the answer from the crosses and then having to think for a good while about why the clue might work....)

That Lippi had a messy life....

Alex 11:00 AM  

DNF because of LALO/ELLA, dang it! OK, I doubt that LALO is going to make it into my regular lexicon, but I should be able to figure out that famous scat-ter by now! I was thinking diagrams and messiness and - well - everything except for scat.
And I didn't think to look for the lost ART in the downs. I nailed the revealer pretty early, and figured out the theme Downs from the Acrosses. SO - a very good puzzle, and enjoyable, but not my best day. As I said, dang it!

Hartley70 11:30 AM  

Nailed the puzzle! The theme, not so much. The theme became clear enough at LOSTART and any thought I had that there might be various of the ARTs involved was killed by THEIST, the most obvious of the missing ARTs as clued.

The crosses gave me all the correct answers, but it wasn't so easy to decide if ART made the answer better, and of course I didn't know there were eight. I never did see PISANS because I was "speaking" Italian, so I thought, and forgot it was Paisano. BENDER also worked for me as it was sorta, so I let that be. Since MUNIS didn't fit, who to say there aren't Mini MUNIS? Me...because I caught the "Bond, James Bond" reference. Good one, that!

This was an easy/tough puzzle and that makes it unique in my experience. Easy to complete/Tough to comprehend. It's perfect for #trickythursday. A+

newspaperguy 11:30 AM  

Loved the theme and the fill. The only thing stopping this puzzle from rating an A++ was not using FED, clued with "Raised a stink".

mac 11:46 AM  

Fantastic Thursday! Can't remember one I enjoyed more!

Of all the theme answers I liked C(art)hief the best.

old timer 11:48 AM  

I've been known to cheat, and did, Googling for LALO. I had no idea why ELLA was there. Otherwise, a pretty easy Thursday for me. LOSTART was easily guessed, and made the solve pretty simple once I found it.

CLEFT I knew. I have a good memory for hymns. I was quite amused when my then-girlfriend told me she used to sing, "Rock of ages, split in two! Let me hide myself in you." (For those of you who don't remember, the original version is "Rock of Ages, CLEFT for me, let me hide myself in thee. The first verse continues,

"Let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure."

"Be of sin the double cure" always made me think of Doublemint gum. I probably was not all that pious.

Joseph Michael 11:55 AM  

Found this challenging, but really liked it and would give it an A for creativity and construction. Love the fact that the ART-less words become new words with different meanings.

Caught on to the thene early on, but had a hell of a time locating the LOST ART. It was very satisfying to finally find them all. Though my biggest hangup wasn't a themer but rather the intersection of ENFIELD, CLEFT, and FIT.

In some cases , the double themers form interesting associations, such as the BARTENDER who goes on a BENDER, THE ARTIST who is a THEIST, and the PARTIES where PIES are served.

Here is a case where the ever-persistent OREO can be forgiven because of its excellent surroundings.

OISK 11:58 AM  

Heard of Eduard Lalo, not Lalo Schifrin. Aeroflot is the national airline of Russia - surprised it was unknown to some (but I do fly a lot...) I can never remember whether the shoes are AVIA or AVEA, (out with brand names!!!) but Lippi seemed vaguely familiar. Add Evian, PAM, Knorr, and Enfield, and you have overstepped my personal product name boundaries!! However, in this case, I knew all of them. And then there is the Honda Fit. Never heard of it, and in a puzzle that already contains 5 product names, just a bad clue for a common word that can be clued so many ways. Too many product names just give me fits...

The Saar is a major river, and also a major wine region. (Saar wines are similar to Mosels.)

All of that said, I got the theme immediately, so the trick was now just to find the "art" works. That was fun.
So despite the rather unbalanced reliance on product names, I give this one A-.

Anoa Bob 12:00 PM  

I usually count the black squares, aka blocks, pre-solve. Today's grid has 36 and you can see what this does for the overall quality of the puzzle. Not only do we get a theme, but there is also room left over for some entertaining fill like POLARIS, TAKE THAT, MR TOAD (my favorite), & FEEL FREE. I even liked ORVILLE.

Compare that with Monday's grid with 42 blocks. There's room for the themers, but that's about it.

So there's typically a negative correlation between the number of blocks and the overall quality of the puzzle: As the former goes up, the latter goes down, and vice versa.

kitshef@7:10, VETeran here, USN 1964-1970, and I thought the clue for VETS was okay. If you're active duty or in the reserves, you're still in the military (and still under the jurisdiction of the Uniform Code of Military Justice). You become a veteran after you get your discharge. You are then a civilian again. (And can become a hippie and listen to Jefferson Airplane and FEEL FREE to "feed your head" and...but I digress.)

Masked and Anonymous 12:06 PM  

U's … wherefore ART thou? Brutal sub-theme, for the M&A.

Was able to cobble together the openin NW corner after some major stubborn gruntin, but like most everybody, wondered why they were accusin some poor native American CHIEF of grand theft auto. Major TRUMP-ed up charge, the M&A snorted.
This is a real hard kind of theme, where the stuff U need to make sense of it ain't there. This can plumb burst the precious nanoseconds flood gates wide open, solve-quest-wise. Looong solve time, at my house. I guess it's just sorta like a ghostly rebus thingy, hidden between two squares, that only operates in that one direction … yeah … "just" ...

Like some other folks in the Comments Gallery, I didn't notice the symmetry of the ART-thefts, due to the ghostly rebus placements themselves not bein quite symmetrical. But agree with Mr. Gaffney, that havin semi-symmetrical themers is a nice touch.

* TAR. Fave weeject. Where the stolen ART is rolled up at. (yo, @Lewis)
* CLEFT. Had always thought that this word was a verb in the song. Kinda like U were askin the rock to form a crevice for U to cuddle up into. Or hide yer stolen artworks in. Learned somethin.
* SAAR. Always admire double-AA words. Agree tho, SEER or SEAR woulda been easier on the solver, already distraught on account of his artworks gettin boosted.

Thanx, Mr. Perl. Fun & feisty workout.

Masked & Anonymo_s
"Arrest the Chief and Let's Pound Down Some Minis"

AliasZ 12:33 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle full of artless words. Had the roles been reversed, would we have been able to discover where the ART was missing? As example, if C[ART]HIEF were clued "Primary" could anyone get 'car thief', even though we knew the theme was LOST ART? Perhaps not.

To stout, the NW was a total blank because of the proper name cluster there. Other areas, not knowing KNORR and KIOWA, were spotty. But I did know Fra' Filippo LIPPI.

-- I can imagine seeing Scottish men in tan plaid dining on traditional fish and chips and dipping it into tar sauce.
-- I wonder if many Spans visit the Phenon in Athens.
-- The men is a furry creature living in forests of the Northern Hemisphere.
-- I wish someone like James Stew as Mr. Smith would go to Washington.

The best way of ping is with this Serenade by Wolfgang Amadeus Moz titled "Gran Pita".


Aketi 1:20 PM  

@GILL I, back in the day when there was a U before SSR even the most daring 20-something Peace Corps Volunteers were afraid of flying on AEROFLOT.

Masked and Anonymous 1:21 PM  

@Alias Z: A&m jealous, that yer comment stuck its landing, and U had *three* weblinks in it. The Blorg likes U best. What's yer secret? I've plumb given up everything but cinnamon rolls, tryin to get my first comment to stick. And after I work and work, undo in all them *@#$%* auto-corrects. [See that?! Shoulda been "undoin", in that last sentence!]

@muse darlin: har. yep. PuzEatinSpouse and I and friends were recently tryin to decipher that there Pan-era Bread sign, also; kinda like inventin a puztheme. Wished U'da been there, to help us posit our "unclean food options" list. Gets the acai juice gurglin outta yer nose, before long. "Roosted Turkey Sand-twitch" was one of M&A's faves. But, I digress …

@Mr. Gaffney. OK, so … C- then C+ then F then A- then B+. At my alma mater, that'd give us a GPA (Grid Point Avg,) of around 3.2 (C+), for this week's themed puzs. Assumin there ain't no surprise FriPuz or SatPuz themes, mind U. Feels mighty mighty low. Any chance of a make-up paper, on that Haightful F?
Anyhoo, U are continuin to be amazin and Amazon [auto-correct joke] with yer primo write-ups. Thanx.

And thanx to @RP, for mashing the moderate button to "off". Also: Luv Mr. Gaffney, but kinda still miss yer unique slant on things, too.

"The bender rested the vodkas, after M&A threatened to finish fing out the tune to Rock of Ages."


Teedmn 1:32 PM  

I give this puzzle a big thumbs up, with its inverted rebus concept and the symmetry (thank goodness) and the clean fill. I got boosted from a clean solution by not knowing what _NFIELD or_IT were. I tried kIT (didn't we just have a CAR kIT?) but finally gave up 21 minutes into it. I even tried placing ART in the different spots. Auto booster, hmmm, C(ART) HI?? If I had thought C(AR T)HI, would I have seen the thief?

I'll try to keep my MEWLing about my DNF to a minimum. Nice Thursday, AGP.

And @Martin Abresch and @Lewis, I liked seeing your LOST ARTs. Perhaps other too, I haven't read all the comments.

Whirred Whacks 1:37 PM  

I'll throw out one more comment today. Occasionally, someone on this blog will say "the NYT puzzle quality has gone down." I don't agree, but I will say that you can find some top notch puzzles (almost every day) over at the WSJ.

For example, today's is by one of your favorites, Brenden Emmett Quigley, and it's kind of the opposite of Mr Perl's, that is, it adds -- rather than subtracts -- a word in the theme answers. If you liked Perl's work, you'd prolly like this one as well.

Here's a link (not sure if there is a pay wall, but it's worth a try):

AskGina 1:45 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.

MetroGnome 2:14 PM  

Cute gimmick, relatively easy to suss out (although I agree that an auto "thief" is NOT a "booster" unless, perhaps, he's stealing the car from a showroom or a used car lot, and even then it's a stretch) -- but I have to call "Foul" on combining names/proper nouns/trivia answers with a gimmick that depends on knowing what the answer "should" be in order to solve it. Both THE [ART]IST and ENFIELD were simply unknown to me, and since I also didn't/don't have any idea how FIT is a "Honda offering" [friggin' BRAND NAMES!], C[ART]HIEF did not reveal itself to me. NW = DNF.

Warren Howie Hughes 2:17 PM  

I'd love to give this Thursday Perl by Adam, more than just some LIPPI service, however,I'm coming off a huge BENDER that seems to LASTS and LASTS. How INERT I allowed that to happen,I haven't the foggiest? LALO, LALO

Don McBrien 2:37 PM  

I disagree with the gripes about booster. I don't think that is limited to shoplifting. I have definitely hear that phrase used in relation to stealing a car. "Boost a car," "Do time for boosting cars." Very slangy, but 100% OK to me.

AskGina 2:48 PM  

I've heard "boosted a car" on the east coast, but I've never heard anyone called a "booster" for doing it. That term was reserved for the parents organization that raised money for the school band or sports teams.

Joe Bleaux 2:58 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Bleaux 3:10 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 3:15 PM  

I guess it has something to do with living in Metro Detroit, but a little surprised at how many hadn't heard of the Honda FIT. If you notice them when you are out and about you'll get a sense of Honda's marketing. A disproportionate number of FIT drivers will be athletic looking women, often with a "26.2" bumper sticker. Nevertheless, the Product Name clue struck me as unnecessary given all the other PPP.

@Roo Monster - Grok was how Heinlein spelt it when he coined the word. I'm guessing your auto-correct has taken over.

@old timer - just in case, ELLA Fitzgerald sang Scat so she was a scat-ter.

@Anoa Bob and @Mohair Sam - Remember what the dormouse said.

Hungry Mother 3:17 PM  

A bit of a slog today, but I got the theme about half way through and then pushed through. I thought it was a nice concept, but I enjoyed it only because I got it done. My very last entry was ELLA, when I saw the meaning of the clue.

GILL I. 3:18 PM be fair, AEROFLOT has come a long way since the demise of the Soviet Union. I can't remember what type of aircraft we took but it sure as hell wasn't a Boeing 747. It was a charter flight and the crew were Russians. Service was just awful especially on the way back. I remember asking for caviar (just to see the stew's expression and yes they were called stews then) she was very sweet and told me that I had to travel first class....(no first class on a charter). They now have a very modern fleet, they are inexpensive and I understand that you do get caviar in middle class!
Best airlines in the world: Singapore Air and Philippine Air.
Worst: All American carriers...;)

Joe Bleaux 3:26 PM  

@newspaperguy: Me, too (newspaper guy, that is)! I have more time to solve puzzles since I retired (although I still compulsively edit). I'm looking forward to seeing more of your posts.

Nancy 3:55 PM  

@GILL (3:18 p.m.)-- Anyone who flies coach and has the chutzpah to ask for caviar -- whether on a Russian plane or on a plane of any other nationality -- sounds like someone I'd really like to know! :) And, knowing that you were in the airline profession for so many years, I think I'm going to fly Singapore Air or Philippine Air... or not fly at all.

kitshef 4:11 PM  

@Joe Bleaux - FIT is the name of a car model sold by Honda. You can buy a Civic, or a Accord, or a Honda FIT. Also the overwhelming unlikeliness of someone asking me for input on cars will become clear if you read my post yesterday on car logos.

Aketi 4:47 PM  

@GILL I, seltzer just went up my nose reading about the caviar. I agree about Singapore Airlines. It was in the 80s when PCVs wouldn't dare fly on AEROFLOT.

@Glimmerglass,since my Mom made the pie crust and our dog ate the center of the pie crust, just not the crunchy crimped edges, I'm not the least bit embarrassed. My Mom would not let me make the piec crusts since I made such a mess with the flour. My only C in high school was in the Home Economics class that girls were required to take.

Just noticed the PEAT PIES combo. Now that definitely sounds unappealing.

BocaBoy 5:05 PM  

Easy for a Thursday? Really? What Thursday is on your calendar? The strange thing is I got "lostart" from the crosses but still never put it together to be the missing letters in the theme. Guess I just don't have crosswordese in my veins.

George Jackson 5:20 PM  

Had turbo for 1a so brengun for 4d as I knew the other rifle was a LeeEnfield so was completely messed up. Do the print edition daily in ink and have decided to stick to mornings rather than waiting 'til the afternoons

Joe Bleaux 5:41 PM  

By the time I can post each day, most everything's already been said, but hand up here on kudos for Rex's stand-in, and for the constructor of a fun Thursday puzzle that was not too tough for a solver of my stature. (As a late poster, my consolation prize is that, day in and day out, @kitshef usually has already put up a good bit of what I was gonna say anyway, and has said it better😊.)

jberg 6:47 PM  

Coming here late, as my wife had surgery today. She's fine, and sleeping now. This was tough for me, as I got the idea that a cARseaT could be a lost art word, and tried forever to make it FIT. (Which I didn't know, finally got from crosses.

And then BENDERS seemed ok for the clue-- you make the rounds of bars when you're on one--and I didn't know the movie, so I came up short on the mets

@NCE Pres, having the visible theme answers be random words is indeed ARTLESS. Hmmm...

On the other hand, PARTISAN PART ONE & PARTIES all have the same root, which is not ideal.

@Loren, you can't come off as a Scotch snob by ordering blend. Try Laphroiag, or better yet Bowman's, for that PEATy Islay taste.

Anonymous 7:32 PM  

Could someone please explain the "scatter/ella" clue/answer?

Leapfinger 7:53 PM  

Artlessly artful, plus I get to add EDWARD (Edouard) LALO Schifrin to my Horatio Alger Hiss folder. I have intimations of an anti-rebus addiction in the making. Quite a smash today!

I was thinking RESTED/RESTartED pairs up as nicely as BENDER/BartENDER, but without the wry. CHIEF/CartHIEF (my favourite) could at least be the Top ChopShopper. Don't want to suggest LOS TARTS and the PartIES PIES were baked in the same hearth (heh!)

Speaking of PIES, @Aketi, your eating-out-the-middle dog needs no excuse beyond being a dog. Otoh, I've known a human-type biped to eat all the filling out of half a peach pie, leaving behind a full complement of crust even more deflated than the panty-hose meringue pie a housemate once baked for me. Some people have neither couth nor consideration.

@AliasZ, your stone men is adorable, and I agree about sending Jimmy Stew to Washington. It's mixed-up and artless to think about a POL PATROL when it's highly likely we wind up with just another MOD MR TOAD.
(PS: Loved your Pita, but expected a STAYAT Mater)

My BRIEF problem was werse than TERSE, but I rather enjoyed my mistake for 'Enemy of early Christians' being LION. At least I was in the right arena.

What on E*h? I've just found out that Sonny Bono had rewritten one of the classics... perhaps with the help of some Pisan Partisans?... I can't Stendhal the cheesiness he was Hav*ing spread throughout "The Cher House of Parma".

Time to have a heart-to-heart with the Mini Martini cart.

Anonymous 8:25 PM  

@Anon 7:32 ELLA Fitzgerald famously sang scat, hence a "scatter"

Leapfinger 8:36 PM  

Mini Martinis seem to make Frau Leapy LIPPI.

Raucous Ages
CLEFT formi_dabble,
Neither soup KNORR nuts
Are 'Sur la table'.

One if BY ROAD
Two if bi CYCLE,
A MEWL Train will GET you
As much as some TYke'll

(PAWN my word, if that wasn't a little Frank Elaine!)

Warren Howie Hughes 9:14 PM  

You can't leave Mel Torme out of the conversation when the subject of Scatter is tabled, as He and ELLA loved to Scat together!

Avia Cycle MrToad 9:20 PM  

I got duped, only found Five missing pieces of ART.
Missed CHIEF, BENDER, MINIS tho I knew they were there.

Today I agree with Matt's thoughtful parsing of the theme, tho he's tough! Wouldn't want to be in one of his classes, unless it was totally graded on the curve.

All the way through even tho I got the theme, I kept wanting it to work for both the across AND down entries. I guess that would be too much to ask, but I spent WAY too much time wondering if MAMARTE was a thing, or COMPART.

@nancy, @kitshef, et al
As a namer, have to chime in on FIT! HATE that name! Least favorite car name of all time. So stupid and inelegant.
And negative...You have a FIT, you are FIT to be tied.

But you can almost hear the ad pitch "It Fits their budget! It will FIT into your lifestyle, it will FIT into a parking space... Fit is in shape for a FIT lifestyle!"

That said, even tho I didn't get the CHIEF theme, I love that there was a car crossing that clue.

Teedmn 12:17 AM  

@Leapy, your soup was sur la table yesterday with your BOOYAH baize!

Rina 7:52 AM  

Buying the paper in the afternoon doesn't give much of a head start. Doing the puzzle in ink is my little quirk. But I actually read the paper so it's all good.
ENFIELD got me stared in NW. It was the only fit; Springfield, Mauser, and chauchat, etc. WWI is my thing. Of course RICHARD was a big boo boo, but the Bond theme time-warp gave me the I.
Pop culture is my heel. Who could forget YANNI? Me, that's who. And if not LOGGINS then who? Natick.
But the fill was very good with nice 'aha' clues, and interestingly the longs weren't part of the theme.
Missed the symmetry thing, so never figured RESTED was the 8th themer I couldn't find.
Fun, this one.

Warren Howie Hughes 11:10 AM  

We're back to SCAT, so LETS AGREE to ACT on it and HITIT maestro!

Tim Pierce 10:02 AM  

Very clever theme. Sad for me, it was too clever by half. I did not understand the theme until well after finishing, staring at the puzzle and trying desperately to understand what was going on, until finally somehow I made the PIES -> PARTIES link.

My big difficulty here was that the theme clues did not clearly show that some interesting wordplay was going on. PISANS simply sounded to me like a variant of "paisans." And as Matt pointed out, someone on a BENDER is "making the rounds," in a sense. Going back to square one could be interpreted as RESTING for a moment. In restrospect, none of these are really quite right, but they were close enough that I didn't stop to think whether there was something deeper going on.

Meanwhile, my confusion was compounded by an odd mistake I made in the SW: with M-N-S for "69A: Bond orders" I confidently wrote in MUNIS. Then I noticed the EDWARD crossing clue, and started thinking that it must be EDWARDV/MVNIS, and the "lost art" of "letter writing" must refer to literally writing letters in the archaic Roman style.

So while I was unknowingly dropping ART all over the grid, I didn't notice because I was searching for other U -> V transformations that would make my interpretation of the theme take hold.

Thankfully no one else seemed to fall down that rabbit hole. :-) A good theme and well executed, but again, too subtle for me by half.

BC 12:14 PM  

DNF but got most of it even though I got hung up on the Footloose clue, thinking it was missing ART somehow "there is no ART in Loggins or Kenny!!" wrongly thinking I must do some intense word calculus to get the ART to fit into the other mystery spots, because the only LOSTART clue I knew I got was THEIST. I hate when I miss the other meaning in clues like Footloose Singer! ! The damn S is even capitalized! Ugg

BC 12:48 PM  

DNF but got most of it even though I got hung up on the Footloose clue, thinking it was missing ART somehow "there is no ART in Loggins or Kenny!!" wrongly thinking I must do some intense word calculus to get the ART to fit into the other mystery spots, because the only LOSTART clue I knew I got was THEIST. I hate when I miss the other meaning in clues like Footloose Singer! ! The damn S is even capitalized! Ugg

Burma Shave 9:36 AM  


to TAKETHAT glass to the B(ART)ENDER
for M(ART)INIS and TRIPS on LSD.


rondo 10:11 AM  

A decent gimmick puz that had me confounded in the NW mostly because I was missing the yeah baby LORI Singer clue (Doh!) and was thinking some sort of stARTer for the auto booster. Took me too long to see YANNI even though he’s from here. Finally got it. Further confusion in that PISANS and BENDER sort of worked too, before finding the LOSTART.

BTW, in Syndi-land it is yeah baby Gloria ESTEFAN’s birthday today. TAKETHAT!

I’ve been to the GETTY museum in L.A. Highly recommended.

ENFIELD must have been British; my grandpappy brought home a .30/40 Krag from the WWI era. That rifle packed a punch. He was stationed in the American SW with the Border PATROL.

A nice puz so I won’t MEWL or get LIPPI.

spacecraft 11:58 AM  

Happy birthday, DOD (and my secret love) Gloria ESTEFAN!

Starting in the NW (!) I had a major glitch due to the printer's habit of beginning each clue with a capital letter--which is The Evil Clue-maker's golden opportunity. "Singer [sic] of 'Footloose.'" Well, we all know that's Kenny LOggins! So here I am with LO__ and wondering how the rebus is going to stack up! I forgot the name of the female lead of the MOVIE, duh, not the song, until the rest of it was filled in. Big, swinging headslap on that one.

I'm not sure why O(substitute)FL would put a cap on the grade based on theme quality. As he himself admits, Mr. Perl hit all the marks: just-right density, symmetry, sparkling fill...seems arbitrary to hold back the A just because of a perceived weakness in the theme. For my money it's plenty strong anyway. This was an eagle putt that lipp(i)ed out. The miss is attributable to two factors.

1) the clue for 6-down--at least in my paper. If our local printer dropped a letter it's his bad; otherwise it's Will's. "One [sic] taking sides" is clearly singular, but the answer, P[ART]ISANS is just as clearly plural. That's a no-no, whoever you are.

20 OHHI. This is a bleedover we DO. NOT. NEED.

Other than those, I found it fun to do and medium-challenging; so a fairly sizeable triumph factor applies. A tap-in birdie.

centralscrewtinizer 1:35 PM  

CHIEF is an auto parts store. Don't think anybody got that, so they are a kind of auto booster, heh.

An ENFIELD rifle was used to assassinate Medgar Evers. Took thirty years to lock up the assassin. That sucks. And at first they would not let the mortally wounded Evers into the hospital because of his skin color. That sucks worse.

Great puzzle, but I had SINS for (Has a ball) and nLLA did not compute. Gotta love scatter for ELLA, but would it not be scat'er?

Waxy in Montreal 2:02 PM  

@space, must be your local paper. Mine has the clue correctly as "ones".

Well, that was fun. Luckily, solved 39A early making the search for LOSTARTs simpler. Had CABLE for 1A for far too long as we often need to boost autos with battery cables in winter here in frozen tundra.

Wonder if CLEFT is ever used as a verb (past tense of To Cleave) other than in Rock of Ages?

Clever cluing throughout - particularly liked 32D's Second hand for ASST.

rain forest 3:31 PM  

Once again, I displayed (at least to me) my stupidity. First of all, at 1A, I immediately thought "turbo", har. I realized that FIT could be the only answer there, but I left that corner and went elsewhere. Got LOST ART right away, and started looking for rebuses in the puzzle. Nothing was working because in two of the themers there was an extra "e". So then I thought I was looking for a lost ARTe. Again, har. It was only at RESTED when I saw that the ART was indeed lost. After that, things went well, although it took some fing around to work out the NW.

So, alcohol. I prefer PEATy Scotch - Lagavulin, Laphraoig, Talisker, but all Scotches are just fine. I also think that if you confine yourself to single malts you are missing out on some fine blended whiskys. A recent book on the whiskys/whiskies of the world (Jim Murray's Whisky Bible 2016) has ranked a Canadian rye, Royal Crown Northern Harvest as the best there is (proud Canuck here), but I actually don't agree. Gimme peat.

Also MartINIS. Shaken gives you nice and cold, but also 'bruises' the gin. Preferred is Hendrick's Gin, stirred. Mucho "clean"juniper flavour there.

Excellent puzzle with nifty cluing and a theme which, once figured out, was kinda neat what with actual words being there after the ART was removed.

leftcoastTAM 4:15 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.

Anonymous 6:24 PM  

I knew some kind of rebusy thing was going on, but didn't get the point until I finished and came here. Very clever. I thought it was something about art works, since we had the Florentine artist. Some answers almost made sense, like BENDER, and others, like PIE, left me scratching my head.

Just a side note - it really helps to put the correct letters in the correct squares. Try to keep that in mind.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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