Batman villain known as queen of cossacks / THU 9-22-16 / Palazzo architectural gem of Renaissance / Summit on Crete where Zeus was born

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Constructor: Jeffrey Wechsler

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: puns involving foreign numbers

Theme answers:
  • SEPT PIECES (17A: A number of stage items in a French play?)
  • DREI MARTINIS (23A: A number of cocktails in Berlin?)
  • SECHS THERAPISTS (37A: A number of Freudians in Freiburg) 
  • TRES ELEMENTS (46A: A number of chemical rarities in Madrid?)
  • HUIT FIELDS (57A: A number of grain-producing sites in Normandy?)
Word of the Day: Palazzo FARNESE (31A: Palazzo ___, architectural gem of the Renaissance) —
Palazzo Farnese (Italian pronunciation: [paˈladdso farˈneːze; -eːse]) is one of the most important High Renaissance palaces in Rome. Owned by the Italian Republic, it was given to the French government in 1936 for a period of 99 years, and currently serves as the French embassy in Italy. // First designed in 1517 for the Farnese family, the building expanded in size and conception when Alessandro Farnese became Pope Paul III in 1534, to designs by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. Its building history involved some of the most prominent Italian architects of the 16th century, including Michelangelo, Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola and Giacomo della Porta. // At the end of the 16th century, the important fresco cycle of The Loves of the Gods in the Farnese Gallery was carried out by the Bolognese painter Annibale Carracci, marking the beginning of two divergent trends in painting during the 17th century, the Roman High Baroque and Classicism. The famous Farnese sculpture collection, now in the National Archeological Museum of Naples, as well as other Farnese collections, now mostly in Capodimonte Museum in Naples, were accommodated in the palace. (wikipedia)
• • •

The basic idea here is promising, but the execution is a gangly mess. If you're gonna do a theme, Do It Right, not just Good Enough. The numbers and languages are without logic—2 German, 2 French, 1 Spanish, who knows why. The bigger problem, though, is the cluing, which is just ... dumb. Boring and dumb. The phrases are in no way what someone "in a French play" or "in Madrid" etc. would say. They are ridiculous hybrids. "A number" could not be a more boring, inexact, and unfunny way to set up these clues. Man, I miss Merl. He could've made something magical out of a concept like this, because he would've been patient, found the Right answers, nailed the comical cluing, had a logical answer progression. I miss artistry. Further, I don't think the constructor or editor knows what sex therapists are. That clue is ridiculously inexact. There is literally no mention of "Freud" on the wikipedia "sex therapy" page. For a reason. There seems to have been some confusion of Freud's concern with sex and the more pragmatic, functional work that sex therapists do. Calling sex therapy "Freudian" is cheap and lazy. Also, again, inexact and unfunny. YOU HAVE A SEX PUN, FFS! DO SOMETHING WITH IT!

FARNESE is terrible fill. Foreign, partial, not exactly super-famous. Ugh. Sore Thumb City. And clue on ODES is just ridiculous. What the hell are ODES of Solomon? You know what else fits there and googles a bajillion times better? Yeah, you do. I know you do. "Oooh, what a clever trap," somebody thought. No, I have have heard of the damn trap for it to register as "clever" when I fall into it. ODES of Solomon, my eye. Rest of the fill is just fine. Ordinary. Decent. How in the world, though—How In The World—do you think it's OK to put *another* foreign number in the grid. Just ... randomly. Shoved in there. "Hey, maybe no one will notice if I shove a non-theme foreign number in my foreign-number pun puzzle!?" C'mon, man. I'll allow EIN, but DIECI I will not allow under any circumstances (6D: Italian ten). Again, where is the elegance? The attention to detail? Oh well. So much promise, so little payoff.

In superior puzzle news—big announcement from the American Values Club Crossword:
We have a big announcement [see?]. Nearly four years after leaving the pages of the Onion A.V. Club, later this month the AVCX will move under the auspices of Specifically, the weekly puzzle will be offered as part of the site's premium "Slate Plus" platform. We couldn't be prouder and more enthusiastic about this partnership! We'll kick it off in the coming weeks with a free puzzle by AVCX superfriend Angela Halsted. It's a big moment in our history, and we're grateful to all of our subscribers for your support.
You can (and should) still subscribe to AVCX directly—archives, bonus puzzles, etc.—but this is a cool extension of their media footprint, or whatever bizspeak is appropriate here. Hurray!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:16 AM  

Medium-tough for me. Got hung up in NE with atTAIN before OBTAIN for way to long. It also took a while to figure out JOSE for 1d. The rest went pretty smoothly, except for being mediocre at counting in foreign languages (which made the solve a tad annoying).

FARNESE was a major WOE.

Liked it more than @Rex did but I can't really disagree with his take on this one.

Terry B. 12:26 AM  

Another nail in the coffin of a certain Mr. Shortz.

George Barany 12:46 AM  

Today's constructor, @Jeffrey Wechsler, had his first New York Times puzzle in 1969, and his second one in 2009 (do the math). This puzzle is his thirteenth, and no, I don't know what thirteen is in French, German, Italian, or any other foreign language. Since returning to the cruciverbal arts, @Jeffrey has published numerous puzzles in other venues as well--I've met him at two American Crossword Puzzle Tournaments, and we've corresponded about his ingenious puzzle that was used at the most recent Minnesota Tournament in June of this year.

Today's review by @Rex identifies both strengths and weaknesses of @Jeffrey's theme and its execution. As happened with @jae, I had atTaIN ahead of OBTAIN, so that corner took some work to unravel. NIH funds research on a grander scale than NSF. Amen to issues with ODES, EIN, and DIECI. The clue for JOYCE was wonderful, though.

Yesterday's blog provoked a spirited discussion that spoke to this forum's integrity and vitality--particularly since moderation was lifted towards the end of July. I hope we can go forward, with respect. And to those of you who root for the team from Detroit, tonight's game was postponed due to weather ... see you tomorrow!

mathgent 12:48 AM  

I think that TRESELEMENTS is inexact. The correct Spanish pronunciation of "tres," the Spanish word for three, is "tress" not "trace" as the puzzle would have us pronounce it. I just looked it up in The University of Chicago Spanish Dictionary. I think that some Spanish dialects may pronounce it "trace."

I also think that there is a problem with SEPTPIECES, pronounced "set pieces." The clue, "A number of stage items in a French play" isn't a proper definition of a set piece.

I got the gimmick at DREIMARTINIS but I didn't know how to count in German and French. And the off pronunciation of "tres" threw me off. So I needed to do a little research to get SECHS and HUIT.

I liked the clever idea but the puzzle has its flaws, many of which Rex pointed out. I'm still giving it a solid B.

Charles in Austrin 2:02 AM  

I think the harsh treatment of this concept and its execution is unwarranted.

The only real problem I have with the punning is in the German pronunciation of sechs. The initial ess is pronounced like a zee in German. Trace versus tress is a relative quibble, in my opinion, as is the difference in pronunciation of the letter r between English and German. Also between English and Spanish.

The clues for the theme answers seemed no more wacky than the usual stuff we get for contrived puns.

I found the idea clever and refreshing.

Mike in Mountain View 2:33 AM  

Ease up, everyone. They're puns. They don't have to be pronounced exactly the same to work.

Rex makes good points. I still enjoyed the puzzle, though.

Martín Abresch 4:05 AM  

This one was not in my wheelhouse at all. Felt like I was fighting the puzzle from beginning to end.

I'm with @Rex on this: good idea, poor execution. One thing that bugged me was that the clues and answers for the theme answers didn't really agree. Take "A number of chemical rarities in Madrid?" There is nothing in TRES ELEMENTS that implies rarity. The accurate answer to this would be TRES TRACE ELEMENTS.

I know my Spanish numerals, and I know the first three German numerals: ein, zwei, drei. That's it for my foreign language math skills. The HUIT in HUIT FIELDS was particularly difficult. Lots of other tough (for me) fill kept progress slow: ODES of Solomon, DIECI, OLGA, FARNESE, STIHL, UNH, MT. IDA, NSF, and EDNA crossing SEGAR. Why not give the foreign languages a break and clue REI via the outdoor gear store (said the BIASed guy from Seattle)?

Big thumbs up to Rex for posting Beck's "Sexx Laws." (Toot my own horn alert: on Sunday, in reference to B-BOYS, I quoted another song from the same album.)

I did like the clue for JOYCE (Writer whose wife said he's a "genius, but what a dirty mind he has"). JOYCE came to my mind at once (but I erased it and went down a blind alley with SONG of Solomon). My favorite quotation about Joyce comes from George Orwell: "When I read a book like [Ulysses] and then come back to my own work, I feel like a eunuch who has taken a course in voice production and can pass himself off fairly well as a bass or a baritone, but if you listen closely you can hear the good old squeak just the same as ever."

I also liked the clue for INCA EMPIRE (creator of 24,000+ miles of road before 1600). I was less keen on the trick clues for TOE (Sole end?) and STEINS (Porter supporters?). What's tricky about "Sole end?" Is it supposed to be a pun on "soul end"? And "supporter" is a stretch. STEINS hold beer, yes, and, yes, the clue has a question mark, but we don't say that a cup supports water or a glass supports wine. The answer just didn't land right for me.

Loren Muse Smith 4:16 AM  

I agree with @Charles in Austrin and @Mike in Mountain View - that the puns aren't knee-slappers doesn't bother me. I did notice the EIN and the DIECI, but at least the EIN is an indefinite article in this case, and not "eins."

Yeah – the thing I noticed more than those, though, was what @Charles said – the pronunciation for three of the four is spot-on, but the SECHS is a little different. My Spanish TRES sounds just like "trace." Oops.

I'll have to hang my head and admit I didn't realize Freud wasn't a sex guy. I did get OCCAM right off the bat, but that's a different field.

But, But… I can't be the only one who had for 27D "shirts" before SENSES for what you might lose after a bad decision.

I liked the long downs TECH SECTOR and LIAM NEESON. I love all his Taken movies. What a dad.

@Martin A – I'm signing up for your fan club, too. On mornings when I'm rushed and can't carefully read all the comments, I always read every word of yours. And you just reminded me - I went with "song" before ODES, too.

Ditto @George B – very nicely put this morning, sir.

Anonymous 6:47 AM  

I could do better, but I'm more destructive than constructive.

r.alphbunker 7:32 AM  

I was swimming right along until I cinq in the NW. It was necessary to verify that ODES of Solomon was correct before _O_CE became Joyce. Details are here

Tim Pierce 7:42 AM  

"DREI" is not a homonym for "dry," "SECHS" is not a homonym for "sex," and "TRES" is not a homonym for "trace." So what? Big deal. Look, folks, if that spoils the effect for you then that's your beef, but don't pretend that the rest of the theme is perfect except for this one outlier. Puns don't require exact homonyms. Lighten up, Francis.

@Martin Abresch: there is also nothing in FIELDS that implies "grain-producing" and nothing in PIECES that implies a stage show. This isn't a flaw in cluing. The clues are hinting at the full answer, not just the second word. (The problem with the definition of "set pieces" is a fair criticism, though.)

I liked the theme a lot, though as soon as I saw it I knew that the morning would be full of self-appointed linguists ripping it to shreds. Oh, well. Into each life a few misguided pedants must fall, etc. etc.

* OLGA - wow, I thought I knew most of the Batman villains (so much Golden Age comics reading in my youth) but I don't remember ever coming across this one. This is a Friday or Saturday clue for sure.
* YIPS - never heard of this. Is this really a thing?
* STIHL / LESOTHO: that's a straight-up Natick. DNF because of that square.

Tim Pierce 7:44 AM  

P.S. I have Hamilton to thank for the fact that I was able to recall "sept" and "huit" at all. Thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda!

Lobster11 7:48 AM  

I agree with most of what's been said, both negative and positive. My biggest gripe, though, is that even if were well executed, the theme just isn't Thursday-worthy to me. On Thursdays I look forward to rebuses and other forms of deception and trickery, not just bad puns.

Lewis 7:58 AM  

It's a clever concept, and was a tough solve for me, with tricky cluing and things I didn't know. I always like a challenge, if it's fair, and this one was, IMO.

I did learn something as a puzzle offshoot. The theme made me think of Dos Equis, the beer, which made me wonder what "Equis" meant, and I found out it means "Xes", which of course resulted in a head slap after remembering the beer's label.

Lewis 8:02 AM  

From the constructor, on Wordplay:

"I’m anticipating some commentary on the inclusion of the foreign language numbers DIECI (at 6-Down) and EIN (at 36-Across) in the grid. There seems to exist a certain notion of grid purity, suggesting that words relating to the theme (or even letter combinations) should be purged entirely from the fill. Otherwise, a degree of 'inelegance' intrudes. I can understand that to some extent, but I don’t see it as compelling in all cases. In fact, I mentioned to Will that I could probably get rid of DIECI if necessary. But this was apparently not a problem, and I’m happy to be on the same side with Will on this. As for 'EIN Heldenleben,' the translation is “A Hero’s Life”, so one can argue that this EIN is not a number, but an indefinite article."

Hungry Mother 8:11 AM  

I liked the theme, but I had to slog my way through the rest of the puzzle. Patience is my most powerful tool for solving some days.

George Barany 8:14 AM  

It was a pleasure reading the further musings about today's puzzle that have trickled in through the night and early morning. The intelligent discussion of the puzzle's strengths and weaknesses highlight what makes this blog a special place to visit on a daily basis.

I finally figured out where I had previously heard of Palazzo FARNESE. It is the venue of Act II of Puccini's opera "Tosca"--the site (in Rome during the Napoleonic era) where Scarpia confronts the title heroine while her lover is being tortured off-stage. There was a memorable movie version of the opera in which each of the three acts was filmed at the geographically correct site (updated--the stunt was done twice, both times co-starring Placido Domingo). For more information, click here, here, and here.

chefbea 8:29 AM  

I couldn't remember my French numbers and never took German so this was a DNF. Didn't even get half of it. Had to come here.

QuasiMojo 8:50 AM  

Rex, I don't think Freudians here are meant to be construed as "sex therapists." As the puzzle theme functions, it is just the word "therapists" that applies to Freud and I agree it is not exactly felicitous, but it is not technically a mistake, unless one is a traditional Freudian and the word "analyst" would be much more apt.

As for "sept pieces" that makes sense because "pièce" in French can mean "play". Une pièce de theatre, etc. But I don't think the puzzler meant to imply that the things on stage were "set pieces."

And yes "tres" can be pronounced to rhyme with "trace" depending on which variant of Spanish you speak. Pronunciation differs radically across the Spanish-speaking world, just as it does in the English. Peruvian is much different from Mexican Spanish for instance.

My problem here was the repetition of languages, not the lack of a consistent reason behind them. Two Germans. I would like to have seen an Italian in there.

Did anyone else think of "le cinq à sept" for the clue about after-hours activities? haha.

A shame so many good answers throughout were undermined by the rather tortured overriding concept. Yet another reason why I feel the NYT editor should shuck his increasing dependency on cutesy theme puzzles and give us back some standard ones that raise the bar rather than dumb it down.

Hartley70 9:00 AM  

I sailed through this from bottom to top until I got to the NE and NW little corners and got stuck in quicksand. Perhaps I should call it slow-sand.

Unfortunately, I don't know my Batman villains and I went with atTAIN for too long. In the west I chose song not ODES. I loved the tricky JOSE. YIPS means nothing to me. I wanted slump. The JOYCE clue is terrific. Good one, Jeffrey!

Luckily, I took French and Spanish in the Dark Ages and while I am generally deaf and mute in both, I can still count to ten in each and RETIE my shoes at the same time. I made flash cards for my son's German class and I've got one-two-three nailed. That took care of the puns. I don't care for puns generally, but having to remember the numbers made the puns more interesting so I wasn't groaning as loudly as usual when I saw them.

Variety is, you know, the ODE of life, so I'm only going to moan a bit about the lack of Thursday visual trickery. There's always next week.


Anonymous 9:03 AM  

Read through the clues. Wrote in HUITFIELDS, DREIMARTINIS and SEPTPI ECES. Had to work the rest of it. Didn't know OLGA or SAM. Is porter served in steins? - don't think so. Liked it. For an architect FARNESE is a gimme.

Nancy 9:07 AM  

I saw the playful clue at 1A and thought: "I'm in good hands today." And I did enjoy the cluing throughout. The answers -- not so much. How many languages am I supposed to be able to count in, anyway? Still, it's my own damn fault for not finishing: I do know French and I still didn't see HUIT FIELDS. Worse, I already had ---T FIELDS. But I don't know Spanish and didn't know TRES -- much less that TRES is pronounced "trace". And how am I supposed to know anything about chain saw brands? And all those initialed agencies? Other woes did fill in through crosses: the Batman villain and the voice of Aslan and the creator of Popeye. I ended up with HUIT unfilled squares in the middle bottom of the puzzle, plus IDA of MT IDA filled in very lightly. (There are other MTS in Greece, after all.) A mixed bag for me: great clues; a clever theme, but one that perhaps demanded too much of the solver; and some dreadful initials.

Autrement 9:08 AM  

I was sure the Freudian clue was going to be Zweichoanalysts, then was riddled with despair when it wasn't.

CFXK 9:08 AM  

Frankly, I think all these differences of opinion could be solve over a drei martini lunch

Z 9:18 AM  

Bad number puns are fine by me. As for "proper pronunciation"... Har. Regional variations in pronunciation are not just an American thing. Still, most of Rex's criticisms ring true.

@Lewis 8:02 - Thanks. A classic "is it a bug or a feature" moment. For me EIN is a feature because it's not a number, but it alludes to the number. DEICI is a bug because it is a number just like the themers but isn't a themer.

@Tim Pierce - The YIPS are definitely a thing, and can range from slightly annoying and humorous (elite pitcher can't throw accurately to first) to tragically career ending (second baseman can't throw the ball accurately to first). I recall a catcher not too long ago who couldn't lob the ball softly back to the pitcher. He could gun it back, throw accurately to second, called a good game, etc. But could not soft toss it back to the pitcher.

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns as a percentage of the puzzle. 33% or more generally means the PPP will cause some subset of solvers problems

30 of 76, or 39%. Unsurprisingly, it was the PPP Pileup in the NE that was my last area to finish. In that 5x6 area (OLGA to --RNESE) there are 25 cells to fill. 17 of them are PPP. That was my own personal nadir, but how about the African capital crossing the power tool brand at a hard to infer H. Or the "F.U. new solvers" of crossing FEY with cross author EDNA and crossriver YSER. All three are gimmes for veteran solvers, but have to be a real stumbling block for anyone working to get past Wednesday puzzles. 5-8 fewer PPP answers would improve this puzzle a great deal.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

@Quasi, I have to disagree with your Freudian thought. The problem with that logic is that if you know anything about Freud and know that the clue is so clearly wrong, you're penalized for knowledge. A crossword should make you feel a little good about what you know. So would be a perfect example of dumbing down

Wm. C. 9:41 AM  

@TimPerce --

Re: Is YIPS (Athlete's sudden loss of ability) a thing?

Yes, indeed. (I guess you don't play or watch golf.). Although I admit the clue was kinda difficult.

Whe golfers under pressure get very nervous while standing over an important putt, they can lose the ability to make a smooth directed stroke. In golf-ese one says that they've got the yips.

Interestingly, some of the best-known golf pros were afflicted by the yips in their careers, some just for a period of time and others with a career-ending case.

Although I don't think it was a "classic" case of the yips, Enrir Els' six-putt from two feet on his very first hole at this year's Masters Tournament was painful to watch. See:

Kim Colley 9:44 AM  

Surprised at the animosity, but even more surprised that some found it difficult. This was my fastest Thursday solve yet. "Odes" was odd, but having gotten enough from the other down clues NW, I felt confident with my original guess of Joyce. He was ... kind of a perv. I found the puns entertaining, and didn't even cavil at Palazzo Farnese. It just took me a while to dredge it up from my memory.

Nancy 9:49 AM  

I haven't looked it up, and I'm probably wrong, but I always thought the YIPS were mostly age-related. I've heard it most often applied to putting among golf pros: nerves, mainly, cause the (usually) older golfer to miss even very short putts. I've applied it myself to older tennis players in Central Park-- players who used to have very good serves, but now they can't toss the ball at all. It goes in front of them, behind their heads, way off to the right -- and the more they worry about it, the worse it gets. I saw that happen with 3 older players I knew very well, two that I played with. (One has since died, and two have given up tennis.)

I always wonder if the YIPS would have happened to me, had I been privileged enough to play into my dotage. I was 66 the last year I played, and I'd been struggling for many years with a tendency for my legs, mostly my left, to sometimes "give" when I ran. (66 is very, very young for a CP player to quit playing -- hundreds are playing through their '70s and into their '80s). But on the last day I ever played, my service toss was still completely reliable and straight as an arrow; my first serve still surprisingly strong for someone of my limited height and weight and relatively modest rating-level (high 3.5, to those of you who know about such things.) So, yes, there is such a thing as the YIPS. I hope none of you weekend warriors ever experience it.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

I thought this was a brilliant exceptionally interesting puzzle, but as usual, the ennui of the players cannot be penetrated. Do you find anything stimulating anymore? Why do you bother to solve crosswords when obviously they're all too boring for your genius? We need Einstein to construct a puzzle that would do your great minds justice.

Come on, guys, get a life....a life where you enjoy doing exciting puzzles such as this one. Can you ever be enthusiastic again?

Pete 10:04 AM  

The news that AVCX is moving to is, while likely good for the AVCX, bad news for me. I'm as liberal as they come, but is horrible. It's not news, it' a series of thin OP-ED pieces based on real news reporting of others with 100% of the writer's viewpoints matching exactly. It's an echo chamber. I may agree with their opinions, but it's an echo chamber and now the puzzle is behind its pay-wall.

And thus my live becomes even more limited as something I once had is taken away from me. Because I'm either cheap or principled.

Stanley Hudson 10:13 AM  

STIHL Freudian indeed . . .

Chuck McGregor 10:17 AM  

@George Barany said: "The intelligent discussion of the puzzle's strengths and weaknesses highlight what makes this blog a special place to visit on a daily basis." Amen.

I have a Stihl chainsaw so that was a gimme. Husqvarna is also a "big name" here, but, for some reason, I couldn't make that fit the gird.

I had no problem with SEPT PIECES. Working in theater I've heard "set pieces" many times referring to both objects and action.

No comments about LESOTHO? I admit I'm geographically challenged about Africa, but thought that was way too obscure for any day of the week. That said, I was glad to learn about it.

Loved the 62a clue/answer. Had the N from EDNA so wrote in Owens, though knew that couldn't be right. Apparently he was originally called J.C. However, a teacher in his early school years mistook his pronunciation and heard Jesse, which stuck for the rest of his life.

Trivia: As to Phelps, his record of 13 individual Olympic wins broke the record held by Leonidas of Rhodes for 2,168 Years. That record and his overall medal count will likely stand for a long time. Did you know his arm (wing?) span is 6 feet 7 inches? The height of common doors is 6 feet 8 inches so picture him sideways, touching the floor and the top of the door frame in your home and you'll get the idea.


jberg 10:18 AM  

As @Quasimojo points out, "pieces" means "plays" -- so in that case the whole answer is in French. That would be fine if it was carried out consistently with the other theme answers, but it isn't -- they all have a foreign number and an English word following. That bugged me, but of course that's just me. Aside from that, I liked the puzzle.

While I know my English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish numbers, I don't know Greek alphabetical order -- so I had ioTA at 55A for some time.

Jill Sullivan 10:24 AM  

YIPS is a term used in golf for what happens when you can no longer putt. It especially refers to jerking motions on short gimme length putts. Johnny Miller and Tom Watson at points in their careers "got the yips".

Mohair Sam 10:24 AM  

Everything @Rex said, but with a much milder tone.

Almost DNF'd with atTAIN for OBTAIN because we figured maybe a Batman villain wore all green (aLGA), but then couldn't understand why the A.C.L.U. would be targeting aunts (tIAS) - thankfully the "OB" popped into Lady Mohair's head and we got to the finish line.

JOYCE's wife - You English majors surely know this, but for others - the day JOYVE met her is Bloomsday, "The Dead" is based on her first lost love. The relationship and love between the literary giant and his wife, Nora Barnacle, a washerwoman and chambermaid, is a compelling story in itself.

@Z from yesterday - Late last night you defended Rex's scathing review of yesterday's puzzle from someone who said he was "Mean and cruel" by going point by point. Well here's my point by point, Rex said:
1. "Having both is *&%^ing ridiculous"
2. "You can de-LEK the grid in 10 seconds if you're a halfway decent constructor.
3. "Garbage." (this sentence stood alone)
4. "METSJERSEY is total B.S."

While "mean and cruel" sounds like a whine, I do feel that telling someone that their work is f--king ridiculous, bullshit, garbage, and they're not a halfway decent constructor is a tad nasty. Ya think?

GILL I. 10:32 AM  

@Rex is spot on today. The one answer, and the only one, that made me smile was DREI MARTINIS. Husband who is fluent in German said yes, it's pronounced DRY....
Then I come to TRES ELEMENTS. @Nancy, no, it's not pronounced "trace."
You gotta roll them R's.

Joseph Michael 10:34 AM  

Fun, witty puzzle with a hint of Ogden Nash mixed in. Loved the theme enough to forgive the bad fill here and there.

And now, the next time I need a chainsaw, I'll know what to ask for.

Billy C. 10:36 AM  

I popped an especially juicy zit this morning.

ArtO 10:38 AM  

A real workout for me. Agree with @jillsullivan on the YIPS. Have only heard it applied to putting in golf as she noted.

That said, I got a kick out of the puns.

Leapfinger 10:43 AM  

Just a little background:(a) One of the few jokes I didn't forget immediately after hearing it is the one about the feline crew of a sailboat (maybe it was a Hobie-cat or catamaran). Anyway, it ran into some Hi-Cs and foundered, so un deux trois quatre cinque. (b)  I grew up speaking French before English and German before French, so admit that I probably had an advantage, but STIHL I wish the nay-sayers would (frankly)SIX and desist!

I think that explains why I grinned at SEPT PIECES and loved the idea that someone would BIAS DREI MARTINIS. Not being any kind of expert in Iberian pronunciation, TRES ELEMENTS had no trace of tress for me, but I agree with the Germanic 6: I can almost hear my little Mum saying "Was ist EIN ZEX THERAPIST?". HUIT FIELDS was a nice surprise, as I was expecting something about solving HUIT FrienDS.  Y'all just otter be grateful  that there was no Hungarian hattrick: the potential for KETTONES would have been TRES disturbing to any of Our Chemists.

Very nice to see LESOTHO, which I know as a country entirely within another country (S Afr), and the only state whose economic inequality rivals the US (according to World Bank data). Loved the quirky informational content of many clues, and I CON also appreciate the homonymous flexibility of many entries (some more DIECI than others):
Mairsie DOTE
After sliding down OCCAM's razor, I SIT ME down sadder bud YSER. In a STEIN

Than a new baby's dAIRIER.

Thank you so much, JeffreyW. You STIHL THROE a REI of sunshine my weigh.

Masked and Anonymous 10:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 10:51 AM  

ZEX THERAPISTS. har. Well, U just gotta admire any constructioneer who tries to make puns outta German numbers. (yo, @muse) (@George: I think thirteen = dreizehn, auf Deutsch.)

Big themer-solvin problem for M&A: Can only count in English and German. I think I used to be able to also do Russian, but looong gone, now. Now, granted I can do sporadic number stabs in other lingoes, due to crosswords. Also, recall me some of the Spanish countin, due to havin played a lot of tennis with a dude named Sergio, who spoke no English: so … that got me TRES ELEMENTS.

Had no earthly idea, on the existence of French SEPT and HUIT. I guess that's on me, tho. Just didn't happen to come up, when I watched "At the Earth's Core" schlock flick with French subtitles turned on. What do those themers come out to mean? SIPPED PIECES? HEW IT FIELDS? Confusin, to the M&A. DIECI PROBLEMO.

Still, a pretty neat theme idea. I miss Merl, too, but I can live with this theme, as is. Merl, of course, woulda goosed up the humor level on the clues to the punny breakin point. I'd give examples for the puz's themers, but mighty hard to out-pun an absolute master.

FUNF FACTS? Yeah... Didn't think so.

fave weeject: GAS. Mainly cuz of the clue: {Bloviation}. Kinda image-evocative. Sorta like {Fartitudity}.

Thanx, Mr. Wechsler. Un good feisty puz. (har)

Masked & Anonymo5Us

deerfencer 11:08 AM  

Baseball infielders and even occasionally pitchers have been known to get the yips when suddenly they can't make routine throws to first base accurately. Liked the puzzle despite farnese and Lesotho

Carola 11:11 AM  

I really enjoyed figuring this one out. I thought the idea was really clever; it wasn't too hard to get the second word in the theme answers and it was fun to work out the punny numbers. I was definitely helped by having learned to count in German and French, and I've eaten TRES leches cake and lived in ROME a couple of times around the corner from Palazzo FARNESE. @George Barany, thanks for reminding me about Tosca's performing there; she THROEs herself, of course, from another ediface, the Castel Sant'Angelo.

For 1D I thought immediately of JOSE but had to hold it abeyance because it didn't go with the neighboring "song." I've mostly heard of the YIPS with reference to golf, but last year the Wisconsin Badger quarterback who suffered a loss of confidence and was throwing wildly was said by sports writers to have a case of the YIPS as well. STIHL went in thanks to a previous puzzle.

Masked and Anonymous 11:20 AM  

Ok. After further research drawn from the Comment Gallery, xwordinfo constructioneer comments, and a call to Fifi in Montreal (long story), M&A can now safely pass this on:

* SEPTPIECES is a pun on "set pieces".
* HUETFIELDS is a pun on "wheat fields".


Other stuff, while I'm here...
Learnt new stuff stuff-ins:
* FARNESE. Had no idea, but the crossins were reasonable.
* Maseru, LESOTHO. So many places on earth, so little time. Have been to Intercourse, PA, at least. Again, crossins were pretty neighborly.

Cusser's Last Stand: NW corner. Just could not wedge anything into there at all, during the start of the solvequest. Later on, scored EMPIRE, ODIUM, and ESS. Many precious nanoseconds down the bloviation hole later, trotted out CUT and ODES for a trial run, and they stuck. Took forever to think up YIPS, next. Man, tough corner. As Sergio would say: no friggin mas way -- DIABLO.

M&A Help Desk


Leapfinger 11:28 AM  

@Joseph Michael, delighted that you noticed the hint of Nashery!

@Autrement, so sorry that you're riddled with despair... or anything else! Before I left Montreal, I lived in a district called Outremont, so was pleased to see you almost there.

@GILL, not exactly DRY; needs a little trill with the tip of the tongue. @lms could splain it better.

@Chuck McGregor, glad I could throe in a little LESOTHO for you. Some years ago, I put together a dataset of indicators for all the world's countries, so I picked up all kinds of arcana. More research on six focus countries regarding reproductive issues in the wider context of the society just added to my store. Mile wide and two inches deep, but a lot of interesting things resurface from time to time. That Lesotho stat needs to be understood as a function of widespread extreme poverty and a concentration of wealth related to the diamond trade -- not otherwise similar to the USA.

Sorry to find so many pickers of nits. Can we remember, as another @Martin says, that these are clues, not definitions? Go ahead and have y'all's insightful analyses; I'll just play here in my yard.

O the SCARS, o the mores!!

Bookin' the Cooks 11:43 AM  

This puzzle certainly was challenging, but I liked and appreciated the use of numbers in foreign languages as homonyms for English words. But then I enjoy a good pun, and puns do not need to be perfect to work, imho. Sorry, Rex.

ODES of Solomon? I do agree with Rex, here. There are no ODES of Solomon in the Biblical lexicon. And yes, we know what it *should* be, which is why that corner had me stumped for so long until I got rid of my *correct* answer to allow for ODES to appear after solving some of the others.

Yes, there was much that was new to me that I learned about after consulting Google in order to help solve, but the learning was enjoyable.

Numinous 11:51 AM  

Tortured, I tell you, I was tortured by tortured puns. Ultimately, I suppose this puzzle was awrite. I have to agree with @Z though that the PPP count was a tad high. My ignorance is what brought me down here. I have no reason whatsoever to know LESOTHO. The Palazzo FARNESE? What? ODES of Solomon? Yeah, I fell into that trap. YIPS? Never heard that before.

DREI MARTINIS got a small smile and an "Oh gawd" outta me. SEPT PIECES was a stretch as was TRES ELEMENTS. When I figured out HUIT FIELDS I was groaning. DEICI, as a ringer, just fills me with ODIUM especially since he asked Will if he should change it.

I now feel woefully inadequate for not being able to count in Italian. For some reason my mother taught me to count in German, at least to zehn when I was a little boy. Growing up in California one just plain knows how to count in Spanish. I lived in Geneva for 18 months and if you can't count in Swiss-French, you can't buy a pack of smokes. I also once knew how to count in русский язык but that was twenty years ago and I've had no use for it since.

I know SEGAR. The first show I worked on at Hanna-Barbera was "The All New Popeye Hour". I bought a book that laid out the history of the Popeye comics and cartoons. Just so I would know.

I yam whatsk I yam and thatsk all whatsk I yam . . .
Toot toot.
Arf, arf, arf arf.

Joe 11:54 AM  

It seems Rex has gotten a little saltier about puzzles lately, or maybe it's just me.

Regardless, I'm still giggling about HUITFIELDS and cool hwip.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

I have a legitimate question. I used to read this blog daily, but the constant put downs have turned me away. Now, I only occasionally stop by.

My main question is if every post just complains about the puzzles, why do you keep doing them and more importantly, why do people keep reading it.

I do appreciate Rex's commitment to these daily updates, but lately I seem to enjoy it more when one of his subs takes over.

Sir Hillary 11:59 AM  

Like yesterday, OFL didn't lek the puzzle. Oh, well. I thought it was decent fun, but DEICI and EIN seemed pretty sloppy given the theme.

6 blazes in Bordeaux? 4 short snoozes in Strasbourg? 10 guys dressed as a cowboy writer in Cologne? OK, I'll stop.

Z 12:01 PM  

@Pete - Either you are not an AVCX subscriber or you don't read the emails.

@Mohair Sam - 1. Do you agree with the decision to have both those answers in the puzzle? Saying it is "pick your curse word ridiculous" is strong. It's direct. It's accurate. 2. People may read this with an implied "so you are not a good constructor." I read it as, "so why didn't you fix this." I can and do argue this says more about the reader than the writer. 3. See point 1. 4. See my list of jerseys from yesterday. I own a Tigers Jersey. I still agree "random sports team jersey" is green paint.

Using strong and unequivocal language, being direct, being accurate, providing supporting evidence, being consistent in standards. Sorry, this isn't being mean. This is being a good critic. If a constructor wants better appraisals from Rex they know what they need to do. That's not to say that I think Rex is the final word on crossword standards. Shortz has much more to consider than just fill quality and Rex. But, again, that Rex and Shortz disagree over what's acceptable doesn't make Rex mean. It makes him a good critic.

Chuck McGregor 12:12 PM  

@Leapy - Yes thank you for the LESOTHO info, the income disparity in particular. Some years ago, I visited Honduras where the same appeared true. Rich, poor, no middle.

puzzle hoarder 12:18 PM  

My only real gripe is the cluing for YIPS. That's what I technically call debut cluing. My gut reaction was where ever they got it from I hope they washed it first. Thank you to @WmC and @Nancy for the enlightenment.
I've said this before but I'll repeat myself. The only real rules are what the editor says they are. Either you're the editor or you're not. What the hell, I like to think of myself as a top notch solver. That's what's so appealing about this website (or whatever you call it) people get to wear their delusions on their sleeves.

Elephant's Child 12:19 PM  

@Z, I have two words for you: Matt Gaffney. I think you know that any given opinion can be expressed in a variety of ways. It's the communicator's choice.
You don't have to assume the role of Chief Apologist.

Bookin' the Cooks 12:21 PM  

Disagree with your assumption that new solvers would find FEY, EDNA, and YSER difficult to solve. I'm a relatively new solver and found those to be very easy. Respectfully, I think it has more to do with a person's interests and less to do with how long they've been working crossword puzzles.

old timer 12:42 PM  

I got the YIPS and almost couldn't remember LESOTHO. I certainly knew TRES though, because in California kids learn to count to ten in Spanish in kindergarten. I ended up taking AP Spanish my senior year in high school, and I do not believe there is any country where it rhymes with "tress". It always sounds like "trace". The very first you learn in Spanish 1 is that all Spanish vowels are pronounced the same in every word. Then maybe in Spanish 2 you learn the exception, that some vowels can become consonants: u can become a w if followed by another vowel and i can become a y.

I find there are "Odes of Solomon" but this is so obscure it deserved an easier clue. But in general, I think OFL is unfair in his criticism today. I found myself asking, "if there is something wrong with the themer clues, @Rex, how about suggesting better ones?" I also asked, "Why no criticism for HUITFIELDS?" Because as every French student knows, the h at the beginning of a French word is always silent and never aspirated.

Roo Monster 12:48 PM  

Hey All !
This puz took me a long time. Just finished, read Rex, but not any of the comments yet. This was definitely in my outhouse. Did manage all the currency thrmers, however, spelled SEPT as SEtT, and had no idea how to pronounce SECHS and HUIT. Also had yIELDS for FIELDD. Ugh. After many minutes of brain straining, finally gave up in NE and left blocks empty, only knowing for certain LIAM NEESON and OLGA (OLGA by Google).

Speaking of good ole Goog, also had to look up MT IDA, DIECI, and LESOTHO. LESOTHO? Who the heck knows that Capital??)

I do agree with Rex on the extraneous Foreign number at 6D. Eek. YIPS as clued a big WOE. What Agency is NSF? Not Safe for Work?

Did have some fun clues, though. Clues for JOSE, NO ONE, OCCAM, TOE, OSCAR, STEINS. But, bad clues for EVES, ODES, YIPS, GAS, EVENER (is that even(er) a word?).

So a mishmash of a puz. Maybe it was just too much for my ole brain to wrap around. Read: Not the sharpest knife in the drawer! (Tool in the shed?) (Machete in the forest?) (Micheal in the room? [Get it? Sharp...])


Belle du Jour 12:49 PM  

@old timer, the H in HUIT is silent, just as the O in OUI is silent. In both words, what you have is the WEE sound. Can UI agree on this?

Pete 12:50 PM  

@Z - They send emails? My spam filter is: SPAM = !(is from one of 3 people I know and want to converse with). In truth, it was all an excuse for my Slate rant.

QuasiMojo 12:59 PM  

Hey @Nancy, I posted a response to your delightful anecdote but it never made it to the blog. Or seems to have disappeared. Not worth fretting over but wanted you to know I enjoyed what you shared.

Tom 1:08 PM  

Some pretty obscure but eventually gettable answers. Got LESOTHO from S, H, O. SEGAR (Close, but no SEGAR?) after I erased a bad guess (edGAR). Wanted Vecchio for the palazzo since Firenze is my favorite place to visit in Italia.

As a language junkie, numbers were no problem. Kinda liked it because of that. Had forgotten OCCAM's Razor theory. Nice revisit. Last part to fill in was the NW, as I kept wedging "Song" in there even through my very first entry was JOSE.

Decided to read some of the Odes of Solomon. Meh.

Ellen S 1:13 PM  

I wonder if that's how @Rex grades his students' papers. "This is the STUPIDEST. #)$(%ing. B.S. I have ever seen! Any halfway decent student would have pointed out the difference between Popeye's forearms and bicep."

I find Jeff Chen often agrees with OFL's criticisms; he just expresses it more civilly.

Here's a thought: Have you ever read any of Matt Taibbi's columns in Rolling Stone? He writes their business column. But it's Rolling Stone, so it's not a business column from a sensible newspaper. In one article he mentioned that his editor requires him to use a lot of cuss words, to make it appropriate for the publication. So, by way of explaining the causes of the Great Recession, which he did very well, he also employed a lot of very colorful language. One might, anyway, given the damage that banksters rained upon the working class, lost savings, lost jobs, but regardless, Taibbi's had to let loose; he was being paid by the cuss word. So I'm thinking, people who have met @Michael Sharp say he's a nice guy. So maybe @Rex receives income for running this blog from another source than our donations. Maybe someone is paying him by the insult.

ANON B 1:20 PM  

I guess I'm not as smart as Rex and
most of the commenters but I caught on to
the theme quickly and could see nothing
wrong with it. I don't understand Rex's complaints or those of the commenters.

Ellen S 1:22 PM  

Oh, and I enjoyed the puzzle. I had _ _ _ _ THO and thought "What country ends in those letters?" And LESOTHO came to mind. I'd have been sunk if the clue had been "What is the capital of Lesotho?" Heck I just saw it in the puzzle and I still don't know! (It would have made me cinq? No. My solving would have cinq like a rock?) Anyway, I thought the themers were clever. I like puns, even bad ones. (I didn't know there is another kind.)

@Stanley Hudson -- thanks for the video. If the leaf blowers and hedge trimmers include that guy, I'm buying a bunch of em.

Joe Bleaux 1:23 PM  

After finally escaping the ODES (ugh) trap, I ran as fast and far as I could, where I remembered enough French to get HUITFIELDS, which revealed the gimmick. Tough puzzle, but no quibbling here over pun/pronunciation purity. The payoff of finishing without cheating was plenty good enough for me. Only nit: UNH = THE Wildcats of the NCAA? Uh-uh. That, IMHO, would be the University of Kentucky😊.

Teedmn 1:29 PM  

DREI MARTINIS gave me the first inkling of the theme which led me to TRES and left me scratching my head on how to spell HUIT.

I loved the clue for "No way, JOSE" but questioned it after JsY__ wasn't bringing any authors, dirty or otherwise, to mind. I finally had to clean the whole NW out and start over. Glad to see my original YIPS made the cut.

The NE actually was the toughest with FAR_ESE and S_M (I guessed LIAM NEESON off the ESON!) and _L__ at 10A keeping me from seeing any of that SECTOR. However, I finally read 19A aloud enough times to see TASK and finished this thing off.

@r.alphbunker, love your cinq or swam attitude, har.

Thanks, Jeffrey Wechsler, c'est TRES amusant! (Yes, I know I need the little accent on the TRES but my PC keyboard doesn't have all of those things easily at hand like my iPad does!).

Aketi 1:32 PM  

My husband is a clinical psychologist who actually is classically trained as a psychoanalyst (which no one wants to do anymore except Woody Allen)and is certified as a sex therapist. He of course thought the clue was dead wrong and started to spout the names of all sorts of "real" research in sex therapy which I promptly forgot.

As for "tres", my ear must be tuned to the "ay" sound like some people see some colors more vividly than others. When I learned Spanish entirely by ear (faking it by speaking my Africanized French until it came out Spanish) I heard "trace" with a tiny roll of the "r" just like I hear the same word in French as "tray".

@mathgent, I must of frequented countries that tend towards the "trace" and not the "tress" but even when I listened to this it still mostly sounds like "trace" to me.

@leapfinger, my Quebecoise friend in grad school not only made the best coffee on the planet, she also spent two years in LESOTHO doing operations research on whether growth charts were helpful tools for improving nutritional status. Who knew that her stories would help me remember a country I never visited for a crossword clue.

As for my "quatres", I have discovered that they did not "cinq" in a water filled bathtub but they sure did scratch. (I was desperately trying to wash their filthy paws after they gleefully ran into the black sludge that gurgled up out of a broken pipe and completely covered the kitchen floor). FYI, I liked your deLEKtable.

I have to say that even though I know my numbers from one to ten in English, French, Spanish and have a vague notion of some numbers in German thanks to one of the Martial Arts instructors who always counts in that language, I still much preferred Monday's number and time combos.

Very strangely most of the theme number answers of both Monday and Thursday's puzzles overlap.

Starting in the Northwest moving south:
->Today's French 7 completely overlaps Monday's English 9
->Today's German 3 partially overlaps Monday's English 4
->Today's German 6 doesn't overlap with any numbers from Monday
**** but it is a pun for the SEX in the Southwest of Monday's puzzle

->Today's Spanish 3 overlaps with Monday's English 16
->Today's French 8 overlaps with Monday's English 1

Plus the French 7 added to the Spanish 3 equal the Italian 10 that connected with the 3.

Plus you have the functions
->Monday's square ROOT hovers over the today's 7 and Monday's 9
->Monday's SQUARES are sandwiched between today's EIN and SINES

Chaos344 1:35 PM  

Just got back from digging some clams, so just enough time to post on the afternoon shift before the Detroit Tigers first game. A doubleheader today! I'm in heaven.

What @jae said, with a few minor differences. Liked the puzzle a bit more than Rex. Foreign numbers aren't my strong suit either, but I did cohabitate with a fraulein for just over a year, so I know a bit of German. Especially the secks part.

I often follow a very circuitous and/or convoluted path to arrive at an answer. When I saw the clue for 31A, I asked myself, "Hmm? What do you know about the Italian Renaissance?" The first thing that came to mind was the HBO series The Borgias. That brought to mind the lovely actress Holliday Grainger who portrayed Lucrezia. Then I remembered that the Borgia Pope's lover was Italian nobility and also also very hot. What was her name again? Yes! Giulia FARNESE fits with AFIRE at 24D, and two other downs confirm it. If the clue had read Tudor king or one of Henry's wives, I would have immediately thought of Natalie (Anne Boleyn) Dormer. That's just how my mind works? Easy peasy. LOL.

I cast the STINKEYE on EVENER. Does anyone actually ever use that word as an adjective? Sounds very GP (grammatically promiscuous) to me? No one else has mention it, so maybe I'm wrong?

@CFXK Re: your 7:13 AM post of today on yesterday's blog: LMAO!

@Leapy: Classic Leapy! Under The Water Sink indeed! Not all wet kitties are happy, right?

ANON B 1:44 PM  


Instead of Googling "sex therapy", Google
"Freud" and read the Wikipedia reference to
his work in sex therapy.

ANON B 1:58 PM  

P.S. If you Google "Freud, Sex Therapy"
you will get 243,000 hits.

alton rockthrow 2:06 PM  

I agree about {Bloviation} GAS. That clue is nicer than a berry in a cold bowl of corn flakes!

Anonymous 2:18 PM  

I'm with Mohair, and lots of others. Rex is often nasty and churlish and frankly a little thin skinned. I found your defense of Herr Sharp unpersuasive Z. Looking forward to your ad hominem attack.
Liked the puzzle, the puns. Not sure I like Joyce. I've read him now for going on 35 years and can't decide whether it's genius or hooey.

Dick Swart 2:41 PM  

By God, Rex, you take all the fun out of doing an amusing little crossword that wasn't too hard for a Thursday. You do seem to have a penchant for constructors who use a word or term with which you are not familiar ie the Villa Farnese is hardly unknown.

I found the little pins, whether exact to not, to be 'groaners' of the type one can view with affection.

mlm 2:41 PM  

Closest I've gotten to a DNF in...let's see, 42 days. The NW corner was killing me. I was *pretty sure* 7 is SEPT,, but maybe SEIT? Stupid French, and dropping letters out. Hmph. Went with WILDE for a long time at 1A, "writer" instead of "author" or "poet" hurt there. Kept trying IDES, which worked with WILDE.

So I had to shut it down for a few hours and take a fresh look later.

I thought the theme was perfectly fine, with some rough cluing, and iffy fill...EOE (??? I know EEO, EEOC, not EOE, though). FARNESE? Uh-uh...fair with crosses, though. I liked LESOTHO in there and the USDA/MEAT pairing

Kim Colley 3:11 PM  

@JoeBleaux -- Woot! UK wildcats forever! Okay, so now I need to make some puzzle-related remark.

Okay, I know "yips" because I'm also a Cincinnati Reds fan, You can't be a Reds fan without knowing about the yips, or any of the many other reasons why the Reds haven't won a pennant in 16 years.

Rachel 3:24 PM  

I thought this was fun and lighthearted, and am surprised at how negatively it seems a lot of people received it! Puns by nature are always a little terrible and eye-rolling, and I think that's part of the joy of them! They're not high art, to be sure, but they're not trying to be.

My only gripe was DIECI...that did feel a bit odd in a puzzle with foreign numbers in the theme answers. But other than that I found it really enjoyable.

GILL I. 3:51 PM  

@Leapy...where is your kitty?
Interesting thread today on foreign pronunciations. I go back to TRES because that was the biggest whaaaaat? for me. If someone has had some Spanish in school, then you might pronounce it "tress." Because most Spanish is phonetic ( I know, this is an over simplification) and if you were taught that, then you would sound out T R E S S. Trace...maybe, but only if you perhaps have a southern accent (Hi Loren).
I sound pedantic, I know...but I just love foreign languages and how most of them sound. For some unknown reason, a lot of English speaking people who learn another language at an older age, sound just plain awful. You can be fluent as hell but dang, you don't got the accent wright.
My sister is fluent in English, Spanish and French because she was born in Argentina, her mom is French and she grew up in the States. She lucked out in the language department....nary an accent in either.
Agreed @Leapy?

ANON B 3:58 PM  

@rachel @ 3.24PM

I don't understand your objection to dieci.
It is ten in Italian.

Sir Hillary 4:01 PM  

@Kim Colley - Guessing you know that and just made a typo, but unfortunately it's been 26 years since that glorious sweep of the supposedly mighty A's.

The UNH clue cracked me up. I have always thought it would be great to see how the CBS announcers would react to a Final Four of Kentucky, Kansas State, BYU and Northwestern. Or maybe Auburn, Missouri, Clemson and LSU -- sorry, Princetonians.

Aketi 4:04 PM  

@Chaos 344, I actually lost my iced coffee up my nose over the thought of you watching the Borgias. Somehow it did not fit with your trigger warning link last week. FYI "trigger warning" from you just reads as "triple dog dare" to me. We have a saying in BJJ lab that what happens in BJJ lab stays in BJJ lab and that applies even more so to what gets discussed in the women's locker room. So, I'm not divulging how far away the real chart is from their imagined chart of how women rank men at least in the locker room.

Chaos + Borgias. Made my day!!!!!

Ah drat. My link my way too long post didn't stick. Probably fir the best,

Kim Colley 4:15 PM  

@Sir Hilary: D'oh! Time flies when you're not having fun! :)

Chip Hilton 4:27 PM  

@Sir Hillary: UNH took me a while, cycling through KSU (which at least fit), then Arizona and Villanova. Nice to see a smaller school make the puzzle. Around here in southern CT, we confuse the University of New Haven with the one farther north. One correction for you. BYU teams are Cougars, not Wildcats.

Tita A 4:34 PM  

Love this idea...very fun. Would have liked more elegant repeat of languages, themers in numerical sequence...

But have no time to come up with more themers, or even to read the comments, so will simply thank Mr. Wechsler, and return anon..

OISK 4:38 PM  

This puzzle was delightful. I love geography, and know just where Lesotho is, love Tosca, and knew about Farnese (act II !!) . I speak enough French, German, and Italian to know the numbers; in Spanish I can count to 20, I think. I was trying to come up with a possible Hebrew I could come up with is "Two Israeli girls who won't leave Tel Aviv?" Answer is "shtey at home."

Only gripe from me is my usual objection to product names. "Stihl"?? How is that pronounced? I can't remember ever saying "evener" in place of "more even." I love puns, language, geography, opera. As Tosca said in the Farnese Palace "Vissi D'arte.."

Michael 4:52 PM  

I found this hard. I can speak Spanish reasonably well and studied long enough to remember the numbers. And I could figure out the Italian. But I know only few French numbers and had to Google to get huit (no clue) and sept (which I should have gotten). I've never heard of Farnese and the Odes of Solomon and Stihl..The clue that really got me, though, was Wildcats. I know my college sports teams reasonably well and cycled through Kentucky, Villanova, and Arizona. New Hampshire, though! Not a team that comes up much in the sports pages except perhaps in ice hockey.

Sir Hillary 5:17 PM  

@Chip Hilton -- Oops, couple of really lazy errors on my part: mis-mascoting BYU and, worse, leaving Villanova out of a Final Four reference. As a sports nut, I'm ashamed!

1997 was actually an all-Wildcats final.

Idreno 5:26 PM  

I found this theme to also be inelegantly executed...the nationality in each clue served to tell us the language of the numeric "homonym" (I use the term loosely as none of them except DREI actually work correctly). Including an Italian number as a separate clue is messy.

I'm not sure, however, why you seem to always get so defensive over any clues that are high culture? The Palazzo Farnese is absolutely famous and of the most beautiful buildings in Rome and just off the Campo dei Fiori--not to mention it is the setting of Act 2 of Puccini's Tosca. ODES is a bit obtuse, I had SONG of Solomon so that got me stuck in the NW.

Chaos344 5:27 PM  

@Aketi: Big smile! Blowing any swallowed beverage back through one's nasal passages due to an uncontrollable urge to laugh is always extremely uncomfortable. It can also wreak havoc on the surrounding environment. Stained clothing, upholstery, computer monitor screens, laptops and wireless keyboards are usually the most common casualties! After years of reading posts by Leapfinger, and more recently LMS, I have learned to eschew ingesting liquid of any kind while reading posts by either of them.

Having said that, and being almost certain that you and I are most assuredly on opposite ends of the political spectrum, let me say that I always enjoy your posts. As much as I truly detest "political correctness" I actually find the term "trigger warning" useful on this blog, and here is why.

I have come to accept the fact that some individuals are actually hyper-sensitive to a multitude of issues Aketi. I have no problem with that, but I am amused by your suggestion that my recent "trigger warning" was meant as a "triple dog dare." I wasn't trying to "bait" anyone. I was actually trying to warn Rex bloggers, "Hey! This is a Chaos link, and you know how I roll!"

You're obviously referring to the Hot/Crazy Matrix link I posted? Did it stereotype? Absolutely! Was it misogynist? Maybe, but remember there was also a female version. Was it insensitive to the transgender community? Probably.

Bottom line? It was satire. If a "left leaning" elite comedian had used the same material, it would be deemed hilarious! Some people just need to take that stick out of their ass, no?

Gratifying to hear that the conversations in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BBJ) lab stay there. Also relieved that you didn't use the initials BJ lab! That would have opened up a whole different conversation!

Mohair Sam 5:53 PM  

@Z - Four random symbols followed by "ing"? He was saying pick your curseword? Oh, the problem is me, I've got a filthy mind. C'mon Z, you can't bullshit a bullshitter. And don't tell me to go %^?$ myself.

Z 5:59 PM  

@Pete - Understood. The best part of Slate has been their Friday news quiz (which i haven't done in months - is it behind the paywall now?). I do follow Slate on Twitter and have increasingly found their click bait tweets annoying. I also follow The Hill which has decent news coverage but has a tendency to publish some of the most poorly thought out opinion pieces I've ever seen from both ends of the political spectrum. In both cases it seems being extreme to drive clicks is more important than the actual content. As for the AVCX - subscribers still will be getting it delivered to their emails.

@Elephants Child - If by "apologist" you mean "explainer" I can't argue. But if you or anyone else actually believe Rex is "mean and cruel" why are you here? I get were that reaction comes from. I, emphasis on "I," disagree. If I ever decide that Rex is being mean or cruel you won't be seeing me comment here. I know several commenters have left because they don't like Rex's tone. I respect that. Others are here because other sites are too "pollyannaish." I respect that, too. Some have said they read Rex because he is mean. That I cannot relate to.

@Ellen S - I have wondered if Rex's style is to drive web traffic. But I follow him on Twitter and read his other blog. It's his voice no matter the setting. He is also consistent. If he thinks something is crap he'll say so.

Okay - that's probably far too much from me over the past two days. Please wait until tomorrow to say anything interesting.

Nancy 6:18 PM  

@Quasi -- I'll take the wish for the deed, as they say, and also give you an "A" for effort. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Norm 7:17 PM  

SEPT PIECES should have been clued to French football matches.

Jim in Chicago 7:21 PM  

Another one I just binned. No fun. How long before Mr. Shortz can go to the retirement home? Does he even look at these, or is he too busy on NPR?

Mohair Sam 7:22 PM  

@OISK - Steel

Jim in Chicago 7:22 PM  

I lost it at ODES OF SOLOMAN. sorry that just isn't playing fair.

Gene 7:43 PM  

The YIPS is most definitely not a general term for "sudden loss of ability". The clue should have a "perhaps".

Debra 9:23 PM  

Very fun puzzle, cute and clever.

Devin W 9:48 PM  

So now I need to know my numbers in 4 languages just to get thru a NYT puzzle? JFC. You're killing me.

old timer 10:00 PM  

I think being able to solve W-Sa NYT puzzles is the essence of elitism. To do well, you need to known the numbers of every Western European language. You need to have a pretty good knowledge of French and at last a basic knowledge of Spanish. You need to carry a map of the world in your head, complete with capitals. And you need to your Shakespeare, your Austen, and many of the books you read in high school English, where you got A's for the most part.

The interesting thing for me is that none of this corresponds with today's politics, On this blog, some of us ended up liberals and some conservatives (just like in the Gilbert and Sullivan song). No, I don't want political comments at all in this blog, but I think what a lot of us must be grateful for is having had a good education followed by a lifelong interest in knowing more.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

@Devin W, presumably, you already know your numbers in one language, so you only have three left to learn

BC 12:52 PM  

Love Kate Bush, hated this puzzle

Tita A 3:27 PM  

@r.alph... 11 year old niece sent us a postcard from Paris describing how nice the George Sank hotel was.

@Gill...yes to the rolled R in TRES, but surely hubby is doing the proper back-of-the-throat guttural R when ordering that MARTINI.

@Leap...six and desist...clin d'oeuil...

Dolgo 12:36 PM  

People who've never heard of the Palazzo Farnese shouldn't quibble about fine points of pronunciation in multi-lingual puns (and, hes, I speak all three of those languages pretty well, if I do say so myself). Such folks have 1) never been to Rome or 2) seen/heard Puccini's "Tosca" and witnessed the heroine's suicide by jumping off a parapet (or both). The very nature of punning is that the two words don't have to be pronounced exactly alike.

Dolgo 12:50 PM  

PS Add 3) taken an art history course to the above list.

kitshef 8:51 AM  

Do I wish there had been five different languages instead of two repeats? Yes, of course.

But that's picking nits and the puzzle is a gem - one of the top ten? fifteen? of the year.

LESOTHO is completely fair game. Any country is fair game.

Only real slowdown was the NW, where seal of Solomon and wall (for YIPS) made things very hairy for a while.

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