Disrobing of Christ painter 1579 / Most-nominated woman ever in Grammys / Famed deli seen in Woody Allen's Manhattan / Green Hornet's masked driver / Dramatic ending to performance

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Constructor: Lewis Rothlein

Relative difficulty: Medium


THEME: MIC DROP (42D: Dramatic ending to a performance ... or a hint to answering the six starred clues) —answers are real words but don't fit ... until you drop the "MIC":

Theme answers:
  • BALSA(MIC) (19A: *What may keep a model's weight down?)
  • (MIC)RON (15A: *Onetime White House nickname)
  • POLE(MIC) (11D: *Word after North or South)
  • CO(MIC)AL (36D: *Shade of black)
  • (MIC)KEY (51A: *Anthem writer)
  • FOR(MIC)A (39D:*Discussion venues)
Word of the Day: Frances Moore LAPPÉ (8A: Frances Moore ___, author of the best-selling "Diet for a Small Planet") —
Frances Moore Lappé (born February 10, 1944) is the author of 18 books including the three-million copy, 1971 Diet for a Small Planet that The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History describes as “one of the most influential political tracts of the times." She is the co-founder of three national organizations that explore the roots of hunger, poverty and environmental crises, as well as solutions now emerging worldwide through what she calls Living Democracy. Her most recent books include EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think to Create the World We Want[1] and World Hunger: 10 Myths.
• • •

I've seen this concept executed better elsewhere, and honestly I've been subjected to that MIC DROP twit on the Verizon commercial so many times now that the whole concept of mic dropping feels as old as "phat" and "bling" to me already. The NYT is just ... belated. Here's a BEQ version of this theme from two years ago. And here's a David Kwong version from last year (from the best daily you're not doing, and possibly the best daily puzzle period, at the moment: the WSJ). This wasn't terrible fun to solve. I am not (at all) a big fan of randomly question-marked themers? I mean, if they're all "?"'d, great, but 19A: *What may keep a model's weight down? (BALSA(MIC)) was just awful, esp. as the first themer anyone's likely to encounter (in the NW). I was like "is this a fad diet? Is the vinegar making the model barf?" But then I saw the "balsa" in there and thought "pffft, I guess something's happening... I'll just keep going." Theme became obvious at POLE(MIC), and after that, there wasn't much more to do but slog through clues and enjoy/endure the fill (more the latter, though "GONE GIRL" was alright) (27D: 2014 psychological thriller based on a Gillian Flynn novel).


Do people know MBABANE? (1D: Capital of Swaziland). It's a world capital, so it's fair game, but I'll confess it was just a string of letters to me. Another string of letters (more familiar, far less pleasant) was OBLA, the kind of answer that makes me want to quit crosswords and take up, I don't know, whittling or something.



The LAPPÉ (who?) / ACHS crossing is truly atrocious, a. because LAPPÉ is the kind of name you should only use if your grid is literally on fire (i.e. in an emergency), and b. because the ACHS crossing is one of those terrible "ugh, which one is the Scottish exclamation and which one is the German?" "words" that makes the vowel a kind of a guess. I guessed right, but still: bad. KOED is also, even more, bad. Like, bad. Like, I keep looking at it, expecting it to suddenly look like a word to me, but so far no dice. Strangest moment of the solve for me was nailing MULEDEER with just -LED- in place (15D: Rocky Mountain forager). Ugh, INDC. I fought with my podcast cohost about this horrible answer recently. She's strangely enamored of it, whereas I wish it would (OBLA) die. It is absolutely ridiculous that ALKALINE was not clued as AL KALINE, especially with Opening Day of the baseball season just days away. As a Tigers fan, I reject this puzzle on the basis of that snub alone (though I also stand by everything else I said).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

129 comments:

Anonymous 12:04 AM  

You’re talking about the puzzle feeling old, yet you want ALKALINE to be clued as a 1950s baseball player?

Moly Shu 12:10 AM  

?ABARS crossing ?ENER was a natick to me. Never heard of either.

jae 12:12 AM  

This was on the tough side of medium for me. MBABANE was a WOE which made the NW difficult. Plus, it took a while to see how the MIC DROP worked.

Yes, KOED just looks weird.

Liked it more than @Rex did.

Gregory Nuttle 12:12 AM  

This played very hard for me. The ZABARS/ZENER and MBABANE/NENE crosses left me with two bad guesses. No fun at all.

Jerome C. Posatko 12:23 AM  

Right there with you. It was my last entry, I had to run the alphabet and, of course, it finally clicked at my 26th guess. Painful.

David G 12:23 AM  

I have never seen a sportswriter write "koed." It's always KO'd. ONECAR is green paint, despite the creative (?) cluing. What's next? "Drag race participants" = TWOCARS? Ugh, just ugh.

Trombone Tom 12:52 AM  

This one was tough for me to solve, mainly due to MBABANE which I had no clue about. Also I trusted that LAPPE was a real author. Those were really lucky guesses.

I find the whole MIC DROP thing kind of senseless, but as a theme it worked out fine here. I picked up on the theme with BALSAMIC after a lot of head scratching and wondering if there was a vinegar diet fad I was just learning about.

Hand up for questioning the spelling of KOED vs. ko'd, but the cluing was brilliant in any case.

Although I live out here on the Left Coast, I've been reading the New Yorker for decades, so ZABARS dropped right into place.

Nice challenge for a Thursday, after yesterday's so-so effort.

puzzle hoarder 12:53 AM  

LAPPE is bad but ALKALINE should have been clued AL KALINE, please tell me that's a joke.
I enjoyed this puzzle. It was difficult to figure out in a lot of places. I had the revealer well before the themers. Half of the clues were easy so I had a skeletal looking grid before I filled things in. The Z for the cards and the deli was the toughest part. It looked natural for the deli but I only had this vague hunch for the cards. After solving I found out I'd annotated it in my Webster's the last time it showed up. Even when you've forgotten writing something down it can help you recognize it when you see it again.
EEN has never been clued as a contraction of "indeed". It's always meant even or evening, am I missing something?
This was an enjoyable solve to a clean grid so no complaints. It's a crossword puzzle, do it for fun or just don't.

John Child 12:55 AM  

Well shucks, I quite enjoyed this. My time was like a themeless puzzle, and ... look, there are only 70 words.

Filled in a fair bit of the top rows without having any idea of theme. Banged out the lower right to find MIC DROP, but then still had to find the MICs and get through the tough and fun cluing. DNF at the K in KOED - just couldn't see it despite an alphabet run.

BRAN EMO, OLD ORES, and a SLO NENE are fine with me to get so many words that we very rarely see, like GONE GIRL, POLEMIC, PROTEAN, and INKLING. Lewis, did you submit a C. S. Lewis (har) clue for that?

George Barany 12:57 AM  

Our friend @Lewis Rothlein offers a veritable science lesson with ALKALINE, LIPID, and OCTANE, and throws in a classic Woody Allen reference for good measure. However, I'm guessing that the BEN clue was introduced in the editing process.

Sue T. 1:27 AM  

LAPPE was the first word I filled in. I had a copy of "Diet For a Small Planet" back in college.

tkincher 2:39 AM  

I switched from SKIMS to ScaMS because I the clue didn't click and cOED looked better than KOED, and so I thought, hey., maybe they were going for another meaning with "taking off the top". I also ran into a couple of the same NATICKs mentioned above ( ZABARS/ZENER and MBABANE/NENE). Couldn't we at least get an NBA clue for NENE?

Larry Gilstrap 3:03 AM  

Struggled with this Thursday effort. I was certain that the supermodel diet consisted of a Tic Tac and a cigarette. Can we lay to rest that whole "MIC" or "mike" argument? Please.

I guess COAL is the new renewable energy source. I thought it was dirty and expensive, but what do I know? As long as those dinosaurs keep dying, we're good. And another thing, just as TYRO should receive Melville immunity, ACH should receive Robert Burns immunity, but in the plural form?

For many years I have misquoted the lyrics of Donovan, "FREEDOM is a word I rarely use without thinking of the times when I've been lost." He says something else, but I like mine better.

At ACPT I met a darling of this puzzle world and actually discussed the whole mic drop thing. As I remember, I mansplained like the background and the Obama out thing, but she was probably looking for me to misuse the singular "they." The lie/lay distinction is outmoded? Crazy talk.

The clue is "Start of a Beatles title." Is that not missing some form of punctuation? Help me here.



Paul Rippey 3:53 AM  

We've all got different wheelhouses. I was delighted to see LAPPE not only from reading Diet For a Small Planet when my hair was much longer, but for her more recent work also. But I've never heard of GERI Halliwell, and I struggled weirdly with BEYONCÉ who I do know is a popular singer of course but, uh, just not one I have much knowledge of. Yeah yeah, my age is showing.

Moly Shu 4:08 AM  

@Rex, thanks for the Beastie Boys hookup. Awesome. The greatest MIC DROP of all time? Randy Watson of course. Sexual Chocolate!!!!!

zevonfan 5:31 AM  

?ABARS/?ENERS was brutal.

BigMistake 5:50 AM  

This played like a medium Saturday for me. Hated it! Hit the southeast first so had the "mic drop" fairly quickly, but it didn't help at all.

Michael Petrie 5:55 AM  

Lol... Randy Watson. That boy's good!! Um-hmm... Good and terrible.

Anonymous 6:13 AM  

I'm a dick.

Lewis 6:43 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 7:07 AM  

Lewis!! So cool to have one of our “own” with a puzzle! Thanks for the comments. Of course you weren't aware of those other puzzles.

This one delivered up a really satisfying aha moment. I was tooling along and had POLEMIC and then glanced at the reveal. MIC DROP. Ok. So the MICs all come down, they “drop.” Tooled along some more and got the first three letters of MICRON and thought, “Man oh man will he be eviscerated for that extraneous MIC coming across.” I had forgotten about the asterisks and all that. I was just so scared that there was this extra MIC. Scared. Nervous.

But then I revisited the clues and saw the deal. Hah! Drop the MIC and you get your real answer. Lewis managed to do something that lots of drop-an-element/add-an-element puzzles don’t: the entries before and after the surgery are bona fide words.

Clued as a singular verb, KOS shows up frequently, and after a cursory little check, I didn’t notice a lot of push-back on it. So is there a difference between adding the singular S inflection and adding the past tense ED inflection? “Kay-oh” is firmly in the language as a verb, so I didn’t hesitate at KOED. I agree that “ko’d” be more acceptable, but that way look just as weird in the grid.

Liked MULE DEER crossing LISTEN. They don’t listen to a damn thing anyone says. You can’t trust’em.

I also liked TRIMS and SKIM sharing the grid. TRIM – what a cool word. It can mean add on or take away.

DENTISTS next to ORDEALS. Yup. I’m a full-on “problem patient.”

LIAR LIAR Pants on Fire. Apparently, this really happened.

And my John Lennon at first was getting out of one “war” and in into another.

Rex – what you called awful was my second-favorite part after the terrific aha moment - the clue/entry for BALSAMIC. Loved it. Coming in a close third was the clue for CD PLAYER. I’m not up to date on music stuff, so I was of course thinking it was some cool singer that I had never heard of.

Lewis – We’re friends, and I knew you had a puzzle running today, but that’s all I knew. I was pulling for you, buddy. Nervous that you’d suffer the ever-worsening fate of other constructors here. I guess these days, though, an “I’ve seen this one done before” isn’t so bad. Lots of us solve only the NYT and haven’t seen this trick before, and of course you hadn't either when you constructed it.

I really enjoyed this. MIC DROP doesn’t feel dated to me. At all. Period.

Congrats, Lewis!

Lewis 7:09 AM  

Before I started making this puzzle earlier in 2016, I did research the theme answers and the reveal, and no puzzle came up. Between when I submitted it and when it was accepted, one with the same reveal did come out in Fireball, but its gimmick was completely different. But I didn't know about the two puzzles Rex pointed out, and if I did, I never would have made this one. I'm embarrassed about that, and my apologies to David and Brendan! And Rex, thank you for pointing that out -- criticism that teaches is the best kind.

@George, that clue was one of several I sent in for BEN, and @johnchild, no on C.S. Lewis (might have been a bit esoteric!) ...

Funny about wheelhouses. ZABARS is so engrained in my brain, I figured everyone knew it, but Jeff Chen speculated that the ZABARS/ZENER cross would be tough, and a couple of people here confirmed that. I did like the CDPLAYER clue my brain fed me ("Turner of music") , and I had another that I also liked -- "Runner in a dash".

Well, my biggest hope is always that the puzzle is a good solving experience, and I see it was for some and wasn't for others. I hope it was for you!

kitshef 7:20 AM  

I can see where this one will tick some folks off. That ZABARS/ZENER crossing is ridiculous, plus LAPPE, KOED, MRI TSP SLO EEN.

But I liked it. The theme went from ‘is that all there is?’ to ‘hey, that’s neat!’ once I realized the MIC words were words with or without MIC.

Plus there is some gorgeous fill: my favorite Tiger AL KALINE, MICRON, EL GRECO, MBABANE, PROTEAN, POLEMIC, FORMICA, ASTEROID, INKLING.

So today, I overlook REACT TO, RAN INTO, A BIT and IMA (but just this once).

BarbieBarbie 7:30 AM  

I liked this one. I have Selected Shorts as a podcast, so I hear Zabar's so often that at first I refused to believe it had anything to do with Seinfeld-- I was thinking they would have used a fictionalized name. Finally I stuck the Z in anyway, and voila. Oh, and I had OCTAvE for awhile, for no good reason. Knew Geri H but had forgotten the SGs actually recorded music. Loved the theme-- new to me, so it was a good AHA, and the word-in-word was clever.

Forsythia 7:43 AM  

I liked it since the revealer gave me the aha which enabled me to fill in others. I didn't trust BALSAMIC so had left most of that area open until I got the revealer. And deep in my brain the Zabars was brought to the surface. A hard but satisfying solve. Thanks!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 7:59 AM  

I don't think I ever would have understood how KOed could be right without David G's comment (and others following).

gcedwards10 8:07 AM  

Is [MIC]RON a "White House nickname" for Reagan? Because I don't remember him going by "Ron" but rather "Ronnie". "Ron" was his son. Honestly my immediate thought was Ron Ziegler but that seems pretty obscure to be clued that way. Am I just blanking?

Passing Shot 8:23 AM  

@gcedwards10 -- you're absolutely right. Reagan NEVER used the nicknam RON; and I doubt Mr. Rothlein was referring to his son, who did not share his politics and was not a frequent presence in the White House. Thie clue is off.

Devilishly clever clues for KOED and CDPLAYER. Finally got the theme but it was of no help to me in the NE. DNF.

Z 8:51 AM  

Way back when, before (MIC)RON was president, I dated someone who had grown up in Swaziland. She spent some time trying to teach me to pronounce that MB click correctly. I never did get it down. Side note, the first time Mrs. Z saw me I was wearing a shirt from Swaziland.

ZENER cards are filed somewhere deep in the "arcana I've picked up over the years that might be useful some day in a crossword" section. Not near the front, mind you, but still there. Not an easy cross, but hardly a natick for me, either. I've also never heard of LAPPÉ, but she is obviously crossworthy, so I don't get Rex's diss of her inclusion.

As for "50's baseball player," I wear #6 on my ultimate so maybe I'm a little biased, but HoF, batting title winner (.340 at age 20), 3,000 hit club, 22 years, 18 time all-star, and the man has a statue. So, hand up for AL KALINE > ALKALINE.

Nicely done @Lewis. Keep them coming.

Tita A 8:58 AM  


ZENER had a really good run for a while a year back...so I knew it. Today, well, I drew a total blank, other than knowing that I had known it.

I thought Lennon clever getting out of ONECAb into another, what with love bing in NYC...

ZABARS was a gimme, once I got the __BARS. wait...that's not the definition of a gimme, I guess. Alright, so I didn't know it from the clue, but anyone who has run through Grand Central twice would know, it is a NY thing. I can see it as a genuine nativity, though being featured in a movie makes it a bit less local.

@Larry G...one of my new ACPT friends...I like your lyrics better too. My personal wrong (and preferred) lyrics are "My Wild Irish Dream" for the Moody Blues "In my Wildest Dream". Maybe because my husband is Irish.

As for 1D, went to wiki to learn (post-solve - honest), and found " it is located on the Mbabane River and its tributary the Polinjane River in the Mdzimba Mountains. It is located in the Hhohho Region.
Coming soon to puzzles near you?

I liked the real struggle this puzzle gave me...I avoided the revealer until I figured out the trick... this is the kind of trick that I want for a Thursday. i forgive you your dreck. The good stuff was way good.
Thanks, @Lewis!!!








Z 8:59 AM  

@gcedwards10 and @Passing Shot - Friends called him "Ronnie," his son is known these days as "Ron." Nevertheless, "Ron Reagan" in reference to the president was hardly an uncommon usage in the 80's. In fact, the "Jr" was oft emphasized when Ron Jr. first came out as a public liberal to avoid confusion. No problem here with this usage.

Theodore Stamos 8:59 AM  

Agree....two naticks in one puzzle!

Hartley70 9:03 AM  

All the paper solvers should know ZABARS. They take out full page ads in the NYT Magazine section with a decent discount coupon code around the holidays. Their mail order is great!

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

This is really terrible. Can't answer the theme clues unless I do the revealer first - stupid!

Why FOR___A? "Forums" before "fora" in English.

"Turner of music": CD PLAYERS don't turn CDs!!!!!

Aketi 9:07 AM  
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Aketi 9:11 AM  

ASTEROID went in first.

I live less than 10 blocks from ZABARS so that was a total gift, but I can see how that could be challenging for those who don't live in such close proximity to it.

I thought I had the trick with BALSAMIC but I somehow dropped the M from MIC and had to reinstate and rearrange it after I put in ICs at the ends of all the starred entries, I clearly jumped the gun with that assumption, but FORMICA was such a nice surprise it made undoing my mistake worthwhile.

I too had OCTAvE at first.

Of course now that I've had one, I spot MRIs in all the puzzles. I initially doubted whether it was an MRI but BEN set me straight. From my Peace Corps days I was very familiar with the MB combo that starts many names and locations. I learned that the dreaded RAP music that everyone likes to rag about is not loud enough to mask the clanging of the MRI. If I ever have another one I'm going to request heavy metal music and see if that does a better job.

jackj 9:13 AM  

Lewis, you rascal; what a wonderful puzzle you've brought us!

From BALSA to FORA, the cluing was inspired, and despite the blogmeister's obligatory ranting, the crossword affinity group, "Solvers United Against Pre-canned Prejudice" rates it a ten.

Wm. C. 9:16 AM  


I'm not a New Yorker, but on a visit there decades ago, we went into Zabar's for a bagel with cream cheese and a coffee. So
got it off "-ABA--".

Never heard of ESP test cards. Is ESP really tested? By whom? The only Zener I've heard of is the dude who named the Zener diode. By running a "breakdown current" through it backward, a steady "breakdown voltage" can be maintained. I used this in circuit design to establish a steady 5-6V voltage level to power my digital logic components.

chefbea 9:19 AM  

too tough for me!!!

QuasiMojo 9:24 AM  

Hats off to our very own Jeff for this tight Thursday puzzle. I seem to recall we had the term "mic drop" just a few weeks ago. Being of an older generation that doesn't watch the Grammys anymore I have been unaware of the phenomenon of dropping mics (or mikes as I prefer to call them.) I thought it referred to that habit singers like Eydie Gorme had of dropping the microphone down as she belted out a high note. (If you ever get bored doing puzzles go watch one of her videos on Youtube, especially "Johnny One Note.")

But now I see it has something to do with literally dropping a mic onto the floor or podium. Kind of pathetic, if you ask me. I pity the sound technicians who have to work through that type of abuse. Has anyone else ever wondered why we live in the most technologically advanced period in history and yet whenever I go to a concert or a lecture or a reading, the microphones still squeak, shriek, go off and on, and have feedback issues? SMH.

I had Pacific before Polemic since I hadn't yet grokked the theme. But once I got it the rest fell right into place. I actually had a super fast time today.

My one gripe is that Zabar's is not really a deli anymore. It is a market, an emporium, with an amazing deli in it. I used to live across the street from Zabar's. In fact they were my landlord. I still went to H&H Bagel a block away each night for my bagel fix, however. Zabar's did have the best coffee in town.

Loved seeing El Greco here. And Kato. But it would have been nice to mention Bruce Lee. Thank you for "Yee-haw" as I never would have gotten Beyonce otherwise. When I saw "Anthem" writer my first thought was Ayn Rand! lol. Very timely.

Regarding Rex's mention of a balsamic diet, I wonder if anyone else remembers the craze back in the late 60s/early 70s of young girls doing a "vinegar diet." It was supposed to get you as thin as Twiggy. Rumors flew that several had died trying it. I'm glad that fad fell out of favor, although I often wonder if it would help me shed some of this avoirdupois I'm saddled with today.

QuasiMojo 9:24 AM  

lol. I meant LEWIS, not Jeff. My baaaaad.

Sir Hillary 9:27 AM  

Well done, @Lewis.

Personally, I loved the "What might keep a model's weight down?" clue. I laughed out loud.

Also, the idea that the a theme is somehow tainted because it's already been done is 100% bullshit. To paraphrase Keith Richards regarding rock music, everybody's been borrowing from everybody else for a long time.

I am totally with @Rex on the Verizon twit, though.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Lewis,

Runner in a dash is terrific. Hope you get to use it sometime.
Congrats on the puzzle. It was fun.

Happy Pencil 9:45 AM  

Well, I quite enjoyed this, and that was even before I realized it was our @Lewis. In hindsight, I think some of Rex's criticisms are valid, although I have never seen or completed a puzzle with the same theme, so I wasn't bothered by that. @Lewis gave a most gracious response.

I thought the MIC DROP was clever, and I had fun figuring out where the MIC's would go even after I got the gimmick. But most of all, I thought there was some excellent cluing in this puzzle, including for FREEDOM (It comes at the end of a sentence); KOED, spelling aside (Not getting up until after 10?); and CD PLAYER (Turner of music), although I take the point that it’s not wholly accurate. For only his second NYT puzzle, this was really solid (and much better than yesterday).

@Larry Gilstrap, are you thinking there's an apostrophe missing? Because if so, the clue is correct as written. Try substituting a singular band name and I think you'll see.

Have a great day, all!

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:49 AM  

Right in my wheelhouse. i have a globe within reach as I solve, so Mbabane was easy. Francis Moore Lappe is a great heroine of mine, I saw her speak in 1978 or so, it immediately changed my diet for the better many ways. Lots of chemistry. I even remember 'Baby IMA want you' from 1971, never mind OBLA di obla da life goes on. I do have one question: how is a LIMO steep?

Hartley70 9:49 AM  

I have an unbiased review because I didn't look at the constructor's name until I began to read Rex and had already formed my own opinion. Yea, yea, yea, Rex. I loved this puzzle. It was a totally satisfying toughie for me. The theme was not obvious until I got to the revealer and I liked that it was a down answer. As far as the complaint that this drop/add type of theme has been used before, so what? There are only so many fish in the sea. This was very cleverly clued and it doesn't feel over used to me. I never get tired of a rebus either. Then again, I'm generally a one-a-day kind of girl.

BALSAMIC was my favorite themer and the hardest to grok until the Pinewood Derby floated to the surface. Oh the anxiety and anticipation that floated through the house at that time of year. I don't miss it.

Thank you for not using an AL KALINE clue. I'd much rather see a Spice Girl. MBABANE would have been a demolition derby if it hadn't been so fairly crossed. NENE was a gimme since we don't all live in HI, (Hi, @chefwen) as was BEN and ALKALINE (as clued).

I don't understand the objection to OBLA. It's an upbeat BEATLES' tune. It makes you want to dance around. I'm all in!

My last entry was the FORMICA/IMPORTED cross which is pretty sad since my dad sold FORMICA and my husband is an IMPORTER.

BTW @LarryGilstrap, my husband just watched "In The Heart of the Sea" and thinks you might enjoy it.

Roo Monster 9:57 AM  

Hey All !
Funny how if you knew theme was done before, you wouldn't have submitted it, @Lewis. It got accepted, though! So, good on that.

POLEMIC I think has been heard by me once or twice. Still kind of a WOE. Put me in the crowd who Naticked on the ZENER/ZABARS Z. Had an S there. Close.

I'm not grokking the steep part of LIMO clue. Help me out @Lewis?

Grasped the theme concept at BALSAMIC. Thought that all themers would have a double meaning. As in BALSA for a plane model, BALSAMIC for a woman model. Or both could have been "For a runway model." But that one was the only one that worked like that.

Funky grid. More long Downs than Acrosses. Good one @Lewis, I haven't run across this theme before either, so it was all good. Normally it's just drop a single letter type thing. Echo @Lorens comment on all the themers are real words with the MIC on them. Bonus.

IM A FATTER OLD LIAR LIAR
RooMonster
DarrinV

GILL I. 10:04 AM  

I remember when I first met ACME we talked a lot about constructing puzzles. She encouraged me to try my hand at it. I had a ton of fun learning all the ins and outs; the no-no's and more importantly, how to make them fun. Well it's damn hard and I haven't the wits to try it solo. Further, I'd be scared to death that @Rex would kick my teeth in.
I vaguely remember some MICs here and there but this one seemed new to me. All I know is that I stared at that models weight loss program and thought how in the hell does BALSAMIC do that? Getting the reveal was joyous Lewis.....!
Loved your cluing especially the Turner of music. Esto Eso OTRO. Si!
Knew LAPPE and GONE GIRL because I've read both. ZABARS has appeared here many times. I still think it is the most over-rated, expensive market in NYC. I really don't think of it as a deli - more like a tourist trap to get a bagel schmeer.
I enjoyed this LR. You can put EL GRECO and ACHS in all your puzzles and I'd be a happy camper.

Nancy 10:04 AM  

I was having a much tougher time than usual on a Thursday, so I glanced up at the byline to see who was making me "suffer" so exquisitely, and I saw that it was our Lewis. Congrats, Lewis -- this puzzle provided a lot of "crunch" and much of the cluing was delicious. I especially loved KOED (48A), ASTEROID (17D), ORES (54D),and LIMO (44A).

This falls into the category of needing the gimmick to solve. Or at least it did for me. I was befuddled by BALSAMIC, which came in before I got the theme and I needed the revealer to get many of the theme answers. Then it all became much easier. But I forgot to check (and I'll lose this if I go back to look) -- Is 47A IMA? Making the title of the song: "Baby, Ima Want You"? Huh???? (If it's not, then I have a DNF; we'll see). But for me, this was a fun struggle, especially at the outset.

Nancy 10:06 AM  

@Roo -- Steep as in expensive. I didn't get it at first either.

Laurence Katz 10:12 AM  

Liked it. Especially ending with....what else?.....a mic drop.
And, btw, Rex, Lappe was the author of one of the biggest selling non-fiction books of the early '70s, a classic that is no more obscure than say, Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," which pops up often in xwords.

Nancy 10:18 AM  

The 1971 hit by Bread is "Baby Ima Want You>"! Well, Bread, whoever you are, IMA NOTTA FAN. I think you need to take an English course with @Loren. Or perhaps even with Grammar Nazi.

Mary Irvin 10:19 AM  
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Stanley Hudson 10:20 AM  

@Lewis, the most gracious denizen of Rexworld. Thanks for a nice start to Thursday.

Charles Flaster 10:23 AM  

Loved this one and who cares if it had been previously done. I remember doing one of the other ones and this is just as creative, if not better.
NENE fell right out of CROSSWORDease playbook so the NW became easy. I miss ZABAR's Norwegian salmon!
Favorite cluing was for OLD and FREEDOM.
There is a funny stand up comedian out there named Gary MULEDEER who is subtly hysterical.
AL KALINE ( fabulous player) crossing
MBA BANE ( annoying person with an advanced degree) is a terrific intersect.
Lots to analyze in this beautiful puzzle so thanks to LR.

Larry Tate 10:23 AM  

Love it when Aunt Clara tsks tsks and cluck clucks at grammar issues.

Masked and Anonymous 10:28 AM  

Yo, @Lewis. Keepin track of who did what puztheme where gets complicated. Wasn't any of this in the NYTPuz before, so seemed fresh to m&e. This was a feisty solvequest at our house, tho. U threw in some toughies, such as:

* ZABARS/ZENER. I went with JENER cards, for some reason.
* Didn't know MBABANE, but got it from crosses, once I figured out the theme enough elsewhere to get BALSA MIC.
* LAPPE/LIPID/PROTEAN was touch-and-go, but got that part right.
* Findin the U's. Got one, and still lookin for more…

As @John Child mentioned, only 70 words. Yikes. Blendin themers into those loong corner stacks musta provided hours of constructioneerin fun. Just noticed, nothin in the grid is longer than 8 letters; that makes this a truly unusual themed puz. Cool. It's like a giant runtpuz. Sorta.

staff weeject pick: (MIC)ROB(e). (It had a pre-puz MIC drop.)(Also a partial robe-drop.)

Some primo clues in here -- especially liked the ASTEROID and KOED ones. Fill was zenerally good, for a 70-worder: ALKALINE, MULEDEER, BEYONCE, LIARLIAR, INKLING, FREEDOM, SCRIMPS. For desperation fans like M&A, ONECAR was a nice touch, too boot. Grid design was a definite "plus".

Pretty darn good sophpuz, @Lewis. Thanx for the fun challenge. Maybe not so much U-drop, next time? [It's always somethin, with us solver crowd folks. har]

Masked & AnonymoUs


[this theme might been done somewhere before … no refunds:]
**gruntz**

mathgent 10:35 AM  

Nice job, Lewis! I had 17 red plusses in the margin, about double the average Thursday.

Mohair Sam 10:57 AM  

Katzs's. That's my six letter New York deli (hot pastrami to die for). Yeah, we personal naticked on the "Z". "Personal" natick because it is the NY Times, and it is the second best known New York deli (screw you Woody), so certainly passes the 25% test.

Hey, congrats @Lewis! Nice one. Played tough for Lady M. and I and we had lots of fun with it. We thought the MIC was part of the answer in several clues (MIC at 15a - was there a nickname for Michelle O?, BALSAMIC vinaigrette?, black comedy at 36d). Didn't clean things up until we got the revealer.

Loved the clue for CDPLAYER. "OBLA di Obla da" always puts me in a good mood. BEYONCE, who knew?, looking for another letter in Barbra. Walk before GAIT. And NE was sooo tough not knowing LAPPE.

Tip of the cap to @Rex for his AL KALINE quip and his Verizon MIC DROPping guy rant. Lord, I hate that ad series.

MULEDEER reminded me of the frosty November morning just a few years back when I got up early to beat the sunrise at the rim of the Grand Canyon. I walked along a trail to be alone to watch the sun come up. As I took in that moment I heard a quiet woody crackling not far away. A pair of mule deer were just behind the path about 20 feet from me grazing and looking up to enjoy the same sunrise. One of those moments you never forget.

Congrats again Lewis - as Loren said - Cool!

Craig Percy 11:03 AM  

Have owned Lappes book since 1976. Have seen nenes in HI. Order from Zabars often. I remember Al Kaline well, but appreciate the pH version as well. Liked INDC and KOED. What's wrong with OBLA, esp running parallel to its composer's quote in 7D? All seems just fine and dandy.

DJG 11:04 AM  

AL KALINE's MLB career ran from 1953 to 1974, so it's a bit misleading to single out the '50s as "his" decade.

He also is the only player in MLB history whose first and last name combine to form a (non-proper) English word. That is, unless you count Red Bird of the 1921 Washington Senators.

Leapfinger 11:18 AM  

What fun, @Lewis!! You totally proved that a ThursPuzz can be great without a rebus! I also thought about a Vinegar cleanse in the NW, but then the multiple MICs in the NE opened my eyes to the gravity of the situation. Nice variations on the theme with having MICs starting, ending, and hiding mid-word... esp liked the crossing pair. Of course, I had to later check out "words with MIC", and found there's a handsome plethora, but apparently few that leave a valid word behind after the DROP. I only found a dressing gown that had the germ of an idea*, and then there's nothing synonymous to notice about Julius Caesar's rival**. So bottom line, kudos on assembling such a great set, and filling it so well. The clues were just around-the-bend drive-worthy, although throwing an opening M'BABANE at us was A BIT IN D.Cent, you know.

Have drooled often enough on strangers' shoulders while crowded in the ZABAR mob, so that was easy, and I remember the AliasZsplanation the first time I saw ZENER, so I was able to correct the OCTAvE that I had entered first.

Also had
MOD --> EMO
YEA --> EEN
FREEDOM seemed too optimistic: I only wanted to go as far as PAROLEtooshort.

Am forced to say I wouldn't mind OCHS in the fill, even as a Scottish plural, but I rather balked at a plural ACHS.
A German 'oy' is ACH, but more German 'oys' would be ACHEN.
A ACHEN in German is Bad, but AACHEN is Aix-la-Chapelle in French.
In English, Aix-la-Chapelle is Hey, there's Dave on the TV!.
So you see, it gets confusing pretty quickly, and should be avoided.

Admit I found GERI a tricky one, but really liked that great meeting of songbirds where BEYONCE crossed with Maria MULEDEER.

So nice, @Lewis; I hope there'll be more, and soon.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

Right Rex, I am not doing WSJ xword. There seems to be no app. How can I get it please? Thank you.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

If you're trying to get the Bread worm out of your ear, I suggest the Spencer Davis Group's ______ Man

cwf 11:29 AM  

@Lewis: I liked it!

QuasiMojo 11:30 AM  

I don't understand the issue with a CD player being a turner. I had one years ago that spun the disc around like a whirling dervish. Sometimes it even tossed it out of the boom box. @leapfinger -- touché on the Aix joke.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

I'm a relative newbie, so I'm hoping someone will clue me in: what's "a natick"? I live in Massachusetts, so I know it only as a nearby town. What does it mean in gamer lingo? Thanks!

Alex 11:36 AM  

I enjoyed this. Like some other solvers, LAPPE was the first answer I filled in. I filled in MICDROP before any of the themers. I disagree that ZABARS was too obscure. Probably because I knew it. Didn't know MBABANE or ZENER, but I was able to fill them in from the crosses. Anyway, a nice way to start the day.

Norm 11:42 AM  

This was cute. Maybe something could have been done with MBA BANE to make it less obscure? This puzzle could actually have used a bit of humor (see today's WSJ for a similar but more entertaining puzzle), but I still liked it.

JC66 11:45 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
old timer 11:47 AM  

I thought this was a brilliant puzzle. Tough but fair, and OFL should have praised it, not panned it. Though one or two of his nits toward the end of the review were well picked.

My wife and I went to ZABARS on our honeymoon. I had read it was an amazing place, and it was. The lead guy behind the counter put on an amazing show. Don't recall what I bought, though my guess is it was a bagel with that great Nova lox and cream cheese. It was a far better experience than dining at Mamma Leone's, which my wife had heard of, and which had the most awful Italian food in New York. Very well known, yes, but I doubt there was a single New Yorker eating there.

Ellen S 11:50 AM  

@Anonymous 11:34, the explanation of "Natick" is on @Rex's blog, in the FAQs. It comes from a time, before my time, when one answer was NATICK crossing some other proper noun. Non-Massachusettsians or Marathoners wouldn't know Natick, and the cross was equally obscure. So the commentariat here, or maybe @Rex started it, took to calling those "unfair" crosses "Naticks." Kinda like ZABAR crossing ZENER. The "Z" of which, by the way, was the last square I filled in. Or rather, didn't, as "ZABAR" seemed very vaguely familiar but not much, and ZENER I never heard of.

But enough of that. @Lewis, I really enjoyed the puzzle and silly me, I thought @Rex surely would as well.

OISK 11:50 AM  

The first time I saw micdrop in a puzzle I had no idea what it referred to. The only example of it with which I am familiar is one that popped up repeatedly on the pages of some conservative friends...it was President Obama speaking to Trump - "Well at least I'll be able to say that I WAS President of the United States." Micdrop. " ( Oops). ( this is not meant in any way to be a political statement. Just my own experience with the term. )

I found this puzzle to be difficult, and agree with those who don't care for KOED, thought Gone Girl was a well written but absurdly plotted book, still don't know what EMO is, and don't like the clue for octane. For me it is an octane RATING that is usually in the 80s. Never heard of Geri Halliwell, but somehow "Baby ima want you" crept into my consciousness. "Long and steep" for "limo" is just a bit of a stretch for me. ( the pun on stretch occurred to me AFTER I wrote it!)

Lewis 12:24 PM  

Many kind comments here re my puzzle, and a heartfelt thank you for those!

Wm. C. 12:40 PM  


Re: Natick: I think the original clue was something like "Midway Point on the Boston Marathon." As noted above, it crossed an obscure piece of fill, and this crossword phenomenon was named for the town.

Doug Flutie (of BC's last-second "Hail Mary" winning pass against Miami in the 1984 Orange Bowl) played his HS football for Natick HS, and lives there today. In his honor, the town named a remote shopping center exit road "Flutie Pass" in his honor.

And my daughter and grandchildren live in Natick. ;-)

jberg 12:42 PM  

Really embarrassed -- when I was a lad reading Astounding Science Fiction back in the 1950s, it was full of reports of how this guy ZENER had demonstrated the existence of ESP using his eponymous cards; they had various shapes on them, and one person looked at them in a closed room while another one at some distance guessed what they were. Zener claimed the results were statistically significant; many others have questioned his methods. So I should have known this, but I just couldn't remember the name. Worse, I know ZABAR'S well. If the clue had just been "New York deli" I would have got it, I think. But somehow throwing Woody Allen in there made me think of some kind of humorous twist, and what could be funnier than our old friend bABAR the elephant? Terrible way to a DNF.

Frances LAPPE is a friend, so I may be biased, but she's probably second only to Buddha in the number of Americans she has induced to become vegetarians.

As for AL KALINE, yes, @Rex is joking. As he said, he's a Tigers fan.

But I always thought E'EN was poetic for even, not for indeed.

Thanks for the puzzle, @Lewis, hope to see more of your work!

bookmark 12:45 PM  

Lewis, congratulations on your fun puzzle. And I love "Lewis Rothlein, Ashtanga Yoga Teacher" on YouTube.

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

Thank you, Ellen S! A mystery solved!

Chubby Hubby 1:06 PM  

re Maria MULEDEER @11:18

Missed the connections with the EEN Dozen Jug Band, as well as the GERI Garcia Band.

mathgent 1:08 PM  

WSJ puzzles are available to print from their website.

JC66 1:22 PM  

Loved your puzzle @Lewis. Found it hard even though I know ZABARS; it's where I buy my lox.

@ Barbie

"Iceberg, Goldberg"

Teedmn 1:25 PM  

@Lewis, congrats on your sophomore NYTimes puzzle!! Reading @Leapfinger's late comment on yesterday's blog let me to suspect we were in for a 2nd Rothlein so I was not surprised to see your name up there. And wow, what a puzzle.

It would have been a total shame to have not seen this puzzle - and I agree with @M&A that you can't keep up with all the puzzles constructed in all of the different venues. I've only been solving BEQ puzzles for the last year or so, so I missed that one. But this puzzle was great; I kept head-slapping myself as each clever clue/answer arrived.

KOED was a total DOOK that left me scratching my head as I solved around it - I came to well after a count of ten! And BALSAMIC was my last theme entry (I found the NW most difficult today) and I thought it was brilliant, especially the way the accent on the syllable changed so radically with the addition of the MIC.

I had a DNF - on a gimme. I was so flustered by the NW, that having _EN crossing M_ABANE led me to think kEN, and lEN but BEN never crossed my mind and I absolutely know the guy's name. Really, he was just running for president last year. Sheesh. So kEN is what I went with, that looking likely as an African capital. Rats.

So thanks, @Lewis, for keeping the OLD lp (I mean CD)PLAYER turning!

Kath320 1:27 PM  

We misread the 1 down clue as "Capital of SWITZERLAND," got us off to a rough start!

Ellen S 1:49 PM  

Ooh, ooh -- @Kath320 you're not alone! I also read 1D as "Capital of Switzerland".

And I looked at it and said, huh, are there any cities in Switzerland that have that that many letters? I figured the Swiss may have adopted the U.S. practice of putting our capitals in towns far from any population centers. Cuts down on the peasantry swarming over the seats of government with pitchforks and torches. But a friend of mine told me yesterday that nobody these days has a pitchfork (how do they turn their compost?) so maybe the capitals can move back to the cities? Plus, some of them are cities in their own right. Sacramento even has a dog acupuncture clinic. There's plenty of us here to mount a revolution, if we only had pitchforks. (Was that only the battle of Puebla and Frankenstein? The Parisian women who stormed the Bastille were city folks, no pitchforks? Takes all the fun out of it.)

Hungry Mother 1:59 PM  

Z did me in. No fun today.

Ellen S 2:01 PM  

One more and I'm done. @Gill I., you're going to scoff and hoot at me. When I saw the clue for 4A, "Not eso or esto ", I thought, "this or that" ... well, what else is there? I filled in OTRO entirely from crosses, and only then, "this, that or the other" floated into the remnants of my brain.

Apparently I can't even think in English, which is my first and nearly only language other than a few cuss words and the clue and answer of 4A.

David Stone 2:05 PM  

The problem is, Zabar's isn't a deli. I shop there all the time. It's a market with a deli counter.

puzzle hoarder 2:57 PM  

@Lewis congratulations on your puzzle. Until I read the comments I didn't know you were the constructor. On my cellphone your avatars' likeness is invisible. I have to disagree with you on the originality issue. Who cares if someone else has used the theme before and has the lack of tact to say it was done better. All that really matters about a puzzle is the quality of the solve experience it provides. Yours as I said was excellent.

Blackbird 3:04 PM  

Bunch of "not in my wheelhouse" knowledge snobs, starting with Rex. Other people's naticks were my gimmes. "Never heard of it" as boast -- "If I don't know it, it doesn't count". Similar in snobbery to "too old-fashioned", "too old". Nene, koed, Zabar's, otro, all easy gimmes. Never heard of Geri Halliwell, know who Beyonce is but never heard her music -- so what! Know El Greco -- I want to say, of course -- but -- so what! Know protean,and know who Proteus is -- so what! We know what we know. Some folks listen to pop music and know who Beyonce is, some folks are immersed in Greek mythology and know who Proteus is, and where the term protean comes from. It's just a crossword puzzle, just a game, just amusement. So, complainers, what else you got?

JC66 3:18 PM  

@Blackbird

Well said!

Wednesday's Child 3:22 PM  

Oh, it's OUR Lewis! Thanks for the puz @Lewis, I enjoyed it but naticked at ZABARS deli. I had BABARS thinking it might have something to do with the elephant.

GILL I. 4:01 PM  

@Ellen S....Me thinks you need another infusion of Mexicano. Lets go to the new Centro Cocina downtown and I'll order you a Margarita in Spanish!

Anonymous 4:27 PM  

Tried BULIMIA for 19 across.

rutterj2 4:50 PM  

I'm glad I'm not the only person who can't stand those ridiculous Verizon commercials. That guy makes me want to punch him through my TV screen.

Doc John 4:56 PM  

I was hoping that, like BALSAMIC, the answers would fit the clue both with and without MIC. Disappointment ensued.

Wednesday's Child 4:58 PM  

Don't let the POLEMIC ORDEALS on this site get you down, @Backbird, it's part of the fun. To suggest otherwise SCRIMPS FREEDOM.

r.alphbunker 5:01 PM  

@Lewis
You are a class act. Not many people would have responded in that way to the criticism leveled at the puzzle.

@Teedmn
I ended with the same error and like you kicked myself for not think about the clue more carefully. My reaction was only to think of a 3 letter name.

@bookmark
Thanks for the youtube link to Lewis's video. It may just inspire me to start doing my asanas again!

LAPPE went in with no crosses. I read that book in the 60s and remember that it said that there were many reasons to become a vegetarian, pick the one you like.

I initially thought that MIC was going to be dropped FROM the answers instead of INTO them.

Details are here

Joe Bleaux 5:09 PM  

Wow, Mr. Rothlein! So YOU'RE the Lewis whose comments (along with a select group of others') I absolutely SAVOR here! I found today's puzzle truly excellent, i.e., a real challenge that I still finished. Congrats, and thank you!

Crane Poole 5:30 PM  

Nice job, Lewis. But I dnf after my brain froze in the NE on and around LAPPE. Befuddled by those downs. All else filled, I knew both ZABARS and ZENER (I miss the Boundary Institute website that featured parapsychology tests).

Z 5:44 PM  

Hey, Reinhold Niebuhr is in the news today, a name I learned from doing the NYTX and reading Rex.

Rug Crazy 6:02 PM  

Not trying to kiss up to Rex, but I agree with everything he says today. Way too much bad!

L 6:07 PM  

EXACTLY. It's NOT a deli. It's an appetizing store. And that's a NY thing.

Anoa Bob 6:51 PM  

I like the grid architecture with its nice balance between theme and fill. But then again, balance is what you'd expect from a Yoga instructor, right?

For kicks, I hooked up the POCometer to get a reading. Other than a temporary blip or two, the needle hardly moved. Unusually low POC score.

For all those who have noted their distaste for the Verizon MICDROP commercial, it's ironic that everyone mentioned "Verizon" in their comment. So the commercial obviously worked!

Very nice job @Lewis.

OISK 6:58 PM  

@Blackbird - "Never heard of it" is not a complaint, just a statement about how the solving went for me. If I were to say something like "Too much pop culture," which I did not, THAT would be a complaint. The exchange of knowledge bases on this site is interesting, and one person's gimme is another's WTF.

Andrew Heinegg 7:03 PM  

Same experience for me; since I didn't know the capital of Swaziland, it was destined to be a figure it out with the crosses. Your meandering into the peasant revolution with pitchforks was highly entertaining.

Doug 7:09 PM  

Word. Rex is being extra bitchy today. Good puzzle.

Carola 7:33 PM  

Lewis! Awesome! Before coming to @Rex, I'd planned to start my comment with "Nice one!" That was before I understood who the constructor was. Perhaps because I don't have a TV, I came late to this whole MIC DROP thing (within the last couple of months), and I thought the theme idea was very clever and the theme entries very satisfying, especially POLEMIC and FORMICA. But even after it became clear that something MIC-related was going on, the puzzle kept me guessing - COMICAL took me a comically long time to understand - and kept putting up resistance to a quick finish. Which I like. Thanks for the fun.

Aketi 7:39 PM  

@Lewis, definitely liked your puzzle!

Anonymous 8:38 PM  

Hey, @Blackbird, it's a blog to talk about puzzles and how you did and what you liked and what you didn't. That's what I got!

Anonymous 10:29 PM  

Better clue for alkaline: A base and a baseball player.

Tổng Hợp 2:31 AM  

dịch vụ mua hàng Mỹ,mua hộ hàng Mỹ, Ship hàng Mỹ, mua hàng trên amazon

j vicmag 12:39 PM  

As a newcomer to the world of crosswords, I admit to being at sea over this challenge and, after completing it, every answer looked wrong. After checking my answers this morning (West coast) and reading your and other seasoned veterans' comments, I wasn't wrong about this fiasco of a puzzle.

Lisa Rainwater 3:51 PM  

Ditto. No way, no how a deli.

Burma Shave 10:22 AM  

LIPID POLEMIC

LISTEN, it’s ABIT COMICAL to REACTTO an INKLING to marry
the FATTER of the GONEGIRLs I RANINTO - BEYONCE or GERI.

--- MICKEY ZENER ZABARS

rondo 12:02 PM  

So that Z was the last hole to fill. ZENER – Massachusetts warrior princess? ZABARS – where to drink in Paris? Coulda been any of a number of other letters and I might not have known, but I seemed to recall ZABARS somehow, don’t ask. Also pondered most of the head-scratchers as called out above. In the past, I did wake up in the room of a krazy KOED. I did use the revealer to help finish.

Someone above wrote that a CDPLAYER doesn’t turn CDs. Ever see how fast your disc is spinning when you open up the CD tray on a desktop computer? It is a “turner” indeed.

I think, for most who pursue it, their MBABANE is advanced economics.

If you ever get to St. Paul you might want to check out MICKEY’s Diner. The original downtown, not out on West Seventh St. Food guaranteed to make you FATTER.

In the former Soviet Union, musical acts such as yeah babies BEYONCE and GERI Holliwell are known as “singing knickers”. Self-explanatory.

And a pretty close nod to @SPACY Were you as SLO as me on this puz?

rondo 12:14 PM  

Almost missed the nod to me, in a themer, when you DROP the MIC.

Torb 1:04 PM  

Finished it but totally hated it. Was shaking my head during the entire ordeal.

Diana,LIW 1:35 PM  

I needed the teensiest bit of help for this puzzle, but not for LAPPE or ZABARS - both gimmes. And NENE is in crosswords all the time - pay attention!

And my eraser got another workout. But I got another 95%er. And I LOVED everything Rex seemed to dislike. BALSA, KOED - both laugh out loud. And CDPLAYER - fine misdirect. Liked the MIC dropping theme - it did help a bit with some answers.

And then to see that our own St. Lewis was the constructor. His gracious acceptance of OFL's critique was over-the-top goodness and mercy.

I have a friend from Swaziland - she was here studying to become the first audiologist in her country. Didn't know the capital tho - needed the crosses.

Happy Thursday!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords
Gone Girl was the worst book I couldn't not finish. Well written (which kept me reading), horrid story. Worst ending ever. I wanted to slap every character. I've mentioned this to several bookstore staff/folks - they agree.

spacecraft 1:46 PM  

This was potentially a great puzzle, chock-full of weekend clues and foreshadowing some serious cerebral work come Friday and Saturday. But it was ruined by no fewer than three (!) naticks--of which one KOED this solver. Maybe I should know cabinet members, but I don't; not all of them. And that absurd letter string going down from 1? No chance. I thought of KEN or JEN, missing BEN entirely, and picked JEN. So, a 1-square DNF.

It's really not fair to have so many obscurities in one grid. Who knows LAPPE? I mean, you might have even read this book and still not remember who wrote it. This is NOT a household name. And what is PROTEAN? Ever-changing?? If you say so. My Scrabble dictionary lists it only as a variant of "protein." Guessed that P okay--by elimination. No other letter makes any sense at all.

The third is that Z. This one I happened to know because of the cards. I was tested once; I have NEGATIVE ESP. I scored well BELOW average. I told them to take their stars and wavy lines and shove them. Why did they even test me??

So, how to score? The grid even contains a shout-out to yours truly, as @rondo mentioned. Those few trouble squares just shouldn't happen. Ungettable one way is OK, if the cross is fair. It's a shame, but I have to give this one a bogey. The yeah babies are indeed, EEN, co-DODs.

Teedmn 1:50 PM  

@rondo, nice alt clue on MBABANE. I *might* not have DNFed with that clue.

leftcoastTAM 2:11 PM  

Who started the MICDROP thing anyway? Seems pretty dumb to me.

It's use here was tough to get at first, but then FORMICA showed the way. Last one to go was MICKEY because I had the cross as cATO before KATO.

Was Naticked at the ZABARS/ZENER cross. Never heard of either. Guessed at a B instead of the Z, because of Babar in the children's story, and that maybe would have been a cute name for a Manhattan deli.

Clever enough, but a little dumb, too. Small dnf.

rain forest 2:19 PM  

Liked this puzzle a lot. Congrats to @Lewis whose comments I always appreciate, and now I appreciate his skill as a constructor.

If this "theme" has been done before in some fashion, I've never seen it, and the beauty of this one is that MIC DROP is appropriately at the end.

Good cluing throughout and lots of excellent entries. I have to admit that the "Z" was a guess, but I may have heard of Zener cards somewhere. Or maybe I used ESP to get it.

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

Awful lot of Lewis groupies out there....

Diana,LIW 2:51 PM  

Forgot to mention:

I did see @Ron in the puzzle!

And ZABAR'S is a fantastic place to buy Nova Lox:

http://www.zabars.com/fish-counter/

D, LIW

Teedmn 2:59 PM  

I can't believe @Lewis didn't manage to get Nova lox in the clue for ZABARS (hi @DLIW).

And if anyone did a MICDROP with my band's very expensive MICs, I would've kicked their patootie!!!

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Skipped down to 19A and had bullimia. Retraced my steps and could not come up with balsamic.

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