Solid orange ball / WED 5-31-17 / Former senator RNC head Martinez / Hoof essentially / Blaster toy gun / Fancy cracker topping

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Constructor: Jacob Stulberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (slowest Wednesday for me in years, but I think some of my slowness was weird and idiosyncratic)

THEME: Fishing — there's a warning to some fish (DON'T TAKE THE BAIT) (3D: Warning for easily provoked types ... or for the answeres to the six starred clues?) and also some fish names and then a Down answer that's supposed to look like a fishing line: 9D: What might tempt the answers to the six starred clues?:

(this "J" is the "hook" on the end of the line) 
(there's not actually "bait" on that hook)
(fish aren't normally "tempted" by a bare hook)
(but whatever)

Theme answers:
  • CARP (4A: *Complain)
  • SMELT (24A: *Extract with heat, in a way)
  • PIKE (32A: *Weapon with a point)
  • BASS (44A: *The Mikado in "The Mikado")
  • PERCH (53A: *Birdcage feature)
  • SOLE (69A: *Shoe part)
Word of the Day: MEL Martinez (63D: Former senator and R.N.C. head Martinez) —
Melquíades Rafael Martínez Ruiz, usually known as Mel Martínez (born October 23, 1946), is an American lobbyist and former politician who served as a United States Senator from Florida from 2005 to 2009 and as chairman of the Republican Party from November 2006 until October 19, 2007, the first Latino to serve as chairman of a major party. Previously, Martínez served as the 12th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President George W. Bush. Martínez is a Cuban-American and Roman Catholic. He announced he was resigning as chairman of the Republican National Committee on October 19, 2007. (wikipedia)
• • •

Laborious. Cluing was so weird and ambiguous and hard and oblique and "?"-laden that all the joy got sucked right out of this one for me. Also, why would you warn a fish? Also, who can talk to fish? Is this puzzle for Aquaman? The whole hook-on-the-line thing is cute, in retrospect, but overall this thing was painful to solve. Tries to do too much, too cutesily. I'm sure I've seen the whole "I"s-making-a-line thing before. Very sure. Can't remember where, but dead certain. It's interesting that all the fish types can be clued as non-fish things, but again, these things are all interesting in retrospect, outside the solving experience. *Inside* the solving experience, bah. I don't know who's monitoring difficulty levels these days, but they've been wildly off. Two impossibly easy days last week, and now this thing.

I just couldn't get anything. The NW destroyed me, both at the beginning, since I wasted time trying to start there, and at the end, where I had run the alphabet to get the last letter of the puzzle—the "V" in FIVE (1D: Solid orange ball) and VENT (16A: Jacket feature). Didn't get the context of either Across or Down there. Theme clues ranged from straightforward to kinda hard (24A: *Extract with heat, in a way) to *&%^ing brutal (44A: *The Mikado in "The Mikado") (that last clue—a Saturday clue if I've ever seen one—can shove it). EXTORT doesn't involve physical "force," so that clue didn't compute (19A: Take by force). Speaking of force(d), ugh, those "?" clues on AIM (5D: Fire starter?) and GLIMPSE (22D: Short notice?). Painful. The theme itself is already too clever for its own good—why are you jerking around with these clues? DISCI? (29A: Things hurled at the Olympics). Oh sure, they use that word all the time at the Olympics.

STOOL is a [Bar sight]? Sure, OK, but ... Again with the vague cluing. Not big on BYPATHs (?). I never really think about the existence of LABRADOR—didn't occur to me until I had Many crosses. "Ash" is not a TREE? (36D: Ash, e.g.). I had -R-- when I saw that clue, and I had literally just read about an ash TREE (improbable as that may sound)**, so that hurt. TRALALA is cruddy enough w/o the winky little "?" clue (26A: Refrain from singing?). Don't dress trash up in taffeta and try to get me to dance with it. Nothing doing.

I actually think the theme itself is fine and the little hook thing is cute. But god, the meat on this thing was inedible. To me.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

**in George Gissing's New Grub Street (1891)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Robin 12:08 AM  

The solid orange ball when shooting pool is the FIVE. Pretty sure there was a puzzle recently the equated eight=black using the same reasoning. You cn google Jacket and VENT to get the context for the other cross on that V.

I saw no problem the the Mikado clue. Had the B, filled in the rest without thinking abut it. And since I'm sitting in a bar right now, in a STOOL, that one makes sense to me.

Have to agree on few of the others, though, such as TRALALA.

Ended up working this one out of the NE, so the IIIII... showed up real early. Got the fish theme not too long after. So then was able to fill in 3D with just a few crosses.

Finished in medium time. Seems about medium quality.

JohnR 12:13 AM  

What Rex finds hard, I find easy, and vice-versa

George Barany 12:19 AM  

It's a JOY to have you back, @Rex, and get your take on @Jacob Stulberg's puzzle, which reverts to the American spelling of GRAY. I'm guessing that the solid orange (FIVE) ball refers to pool (considered nInE for a bit), but you probably figured that out yourself, post-solve.

Permit me to share, from "The Mikado," the title BASS aria "my object so sublime", and as a bonus, from the tenor, "the flowers that bloom in the spring, TRALA (and if you listen carefully, there's a tralalala in the lyrics).

RAD2626 12:19 AM  

Normal Wednesday time. Liked the puzzle, the gimmicks the layout and the clung. Fun solve. Clue for THINE was great and, unlike Rex, thought clue for TRA LA LA was clever. Nor do I think it is a bad phrase even without a redeeming clue. Only objection was DISCI but pretty minor CARP. Not worth VENTing over. I wish DILL had been "worm" instead hanging on the hook but all in all nice puzzle.

Johnny 12:33 AM  

This was remarkably easy (for me) and I liked it. FIVE and VENT were obvious, as was TRALALA. Extracting with heat is obviously SMELT, the neighbor of Quebec had to be LABRADOR, and of course you would see a STOOL in a bar, at least in my experience. I loved the fishing line gag and it helped me correct my entries for DISCI and HEIGL. I don't see how anyone could have trouble with this softball puzzle, unless they are Twitter users, in which case they are f**king morons.

Anonymous 12:41 AM  

Couldn't disagree with Rex more. I thought this puzzle was a joy. Also, I found this Wednesday pretty easy; one of my best times (although a multiple of Rex's, I'm sure).

It was fun, original and had tones of themers. I loved it!

Arlene 1:13 AM  

I enjoyed this one - caught onto all those Is rather quickly - and I always liked making pictures in a grid, so was happy to see that J hook at the end of the line, as well as all the fish names. It took longer than average to complete, but I had a good time getting there.

Theodore Stamos 1:13 AM  

I had REAR instead of REAP, which gave me LABELED and RAKE instead of LIBELED and PIKE. Somehow all of my mistaken answers made sense in my addled mind.

CDilly52 1:15 AM  

Clear out of my wheelhouse for time, but I truly enjoyed the gritty clues. Just finished coaching "Three Little Maids" for high school vocal state contest, so that was a gimme. NW, though almost caused me not to finish but perseverance paid off (and added three minutes).

The fish hook thing completely escaped me until reading the blog-how dense can one be??? A bit gritty for Wednesday (for me), but lack of dreck made it a good puzzle.

I need to play more pool, though. A while ago, one of the striped balls was featured and I had to resort to the crosses. I only know the 8 ball. And am clearly waaaay behind it today!

jae 1:18 AM  

Medium-tough for me too. Nice to have a Wed. with a bit of crunch.

I though I knew my geography fairly well but Newfoundland and LABRADOR as a Canadian Province is a new to me. I always thought it was just Newfoundland. Did something change since I was in Junior High circa late 1950's or was I just not paying attention (highly likely).

Clever, delightful, liked it a lot more than @Rex did.

Jeff Schuh 1:45 AM  

All fell into place pretty easily for me, but had to go through the completed puzzle 3 times to find the last wrong cell. Plural of disc isn't discs? I recall using (S)inkers on the line when I used to fish as a kid. Just that single letter bumped up my average time a bit.

Larry Gilstrap 2:07 AM  

I wonder how long OFL labored to finish this puzzle. Every day somebody's in the wheelhouse and somebody else is outside feeling all "weird and idiosyncratic." His time of solve was probably less than mine and I cruised through this Wednesday effort. Did you notice the retrospective insight? And that whole thing about "outside and inside the solving experience." Nice puzzle and revelatory review. Some folks claim to read the comments and not the review? Really? According to HOYLE, you gotta eat the wasabi with the sashimi; I know, mixed metaphor.

Now more praise with faint damning; the hook is devoid of BAIT because one of the fish has already taken it. My policy is to abhor grid art, in all of its forms, but this one almost resulted in JOY. And another thing: how the hell can you EXTORT somebody without force? Your lunch money or...incriminating photographs? Come on man!

So, yesterday we had a great conversation about spelling the color that shall not be named. Ok, got it until today when I again have no clue. Thank you IRA. And the EIRE/Erin things rear their ugly heads. I balked at the misleading BYPATH and DISCI trickery, who didn't?

It just seems like yesterday, but thanks @Nancy for filling in my anecdote about Sondheim. Of course the song is "Somewhere." I called it "beautiful" for lack of a better word. Perhaps, "beloved." Many of his lyrics are a bit chatty, think Sunday in the Park with George, etc. The song is iconic, grant me that. I bet he doesn't cringe when he's cashing those royalty checks, if those still exist.

phil phil 2:10 AM  

SwEaT for SMELT.

Loved FIVE (1D: Solid orange ball) but similiarl to Rex had to run the 'F' to get the 'ah hah'
And AIM (5D: Fire starter?) and GLIMPSE (22D: Short notice?)

Still don't agree with foreign endings not clued appropriately
DISCI? (29A: Things hurled at the Olympics) maybe should be
DISCI? (29A: Things hurled at the original (or Athens) Olympics)

Anoa Bob 2:35 AM  

Just for the record, the balls used in pocket billiards, except the cue ball, are combinations of white, black and one of seven different colors. In both the five ball and the thirteen ball that color is orange, but neither is a "solid orange ball".

Here's a set

When playing eight ball, the one through seven balls are called "the solids", for convenience, and the nine through fifteen are called the stripes.

The only solid color balls in billiards that I know of are the ones that are used in three cushion billiards.

Here's a set

Just for the record.

Dolgo 3:27 AM  
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Jisvan 3:27 AM  

I was so sure it was hAKE, which is certainly a fish, and maybe a pointed weapon, who knows, crossing LaBELED, which is sort of correct, but I could not figure out for the longest time what REAh could be. Count me in the delighted camp. Normal finish time, Google-free, a lovely Wednesday.

Dolgo 3:37 AM  

It was all pretty easy for me, while others you all thought were easy were harder. Yeah. Mel Martinez--a gimme for me. Had to second guess several clues, but no third guesses. Hooked on to the gimmick right away when I saw all the i's. Basically kind of silly, though.

chefwen 3:38 AM  

After the second I in 9D I thought huh, wha, then Katherine Heigl showed up and I just went ahead and filled in all of the i's. Pretty easy to change the last one to a J when the time was right. I did have to change DISCs it DISCI. Oooh, spellcheck does not like DISCI, neither do I.

Sure do miss a good old Wisconsin Friday night PERCH Fry.

Struggling 4:44 AM  

Easier for me than many puzzles. But I could not get "five", although had "vent" as a possible cross. I have been reading enough Rex to guess that "disci" and "by path" would irk him

Anonymous 4:49 AM  

If anyone knows about sucking the joy out . . . . .

blogger on 5:12 AM  

Really good ! Puzzles if so boring i think.

Anonymous 5:31 AM  

Thank you Kathy Griffin, Michael Sharp, Maxine Waters et al. You're doing all the heavy lifting for Republicans in 2018. Well played.

Anonymous 6:01 AM  

Good Wednesday puzzle with little crossword glue, six themers that all had legit double meaning, and cluing that gave it a little grit. Right on my average time and thoroughly enjoyable.
Sorry OFL "couldn't get anything". Been there myself. But don't blame the construct. I didn't get FIVE even though I love billiards, but I did get that the cross VENT is a tailor thing with jackets. I thought AIM had a clever clue -- Fire starter -- good one. For EXTORT, sometimes non-physical force is more compelling than physical, so that clue is fair. I thing the Latin plural DISCI is fair game for a Wed.
This would be too easy for a Fri, not tricky enough for a Thurs, so just right for a Wed.

Trombone Tom 6:18 AM  

For once the shoe is on the other foot. So often @Rex seems to breeze through what I find to be challenging. Today's puzzle was very much on the easy side for me, although I admit to staring at that darned string of "I"s for a long time before I tumbled to the picture.

Only problems were popping in tRee before GRAY and BYPAss before BYPATH.

Just returned from a delightful vacation in the Utah/Arizona National Parks and found this to be a pleasant puzzle welcome from Jacob S.

evil doug 6:25 AM  

I prefer BYPAss. Could have clued it: 'Indirect route, to a lisper"....

I started with "tRAY" for 'Ash,e.g.'

Loren Muse Smith 6:41 AM  
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Parex 6:43 AM  

The Rextser is right about the solve itself but the puzzle's so creative it's 5 stars worthy.

Loren Muse Smith 6:44 AM  

This is beautiful. There are six fish, symmetrical, floating in the water with that line and hook, waiting. Rex – your carp Who can talk to fish? had to be tongue in cheek. Seriously? I’m probably overthinking your comment more than you’re overthinking the reveal, but c’mon – we talk to things all the time that have no hope of understanding us. Please start please start please start – to my car. Please flush please flush please flush – to a commode at a dinner party. Please don’t be on please don’t be on please don’t be on - to the hall security camera when I’m slinking back to my classroom with 6 mini banana bread loaves that Mr. Minny’s wife sent in and we’re probably supposed to take just one but there are usually some left over in the afternoon and yeah you can rationalize anything.

Serendipity – last night I was watching Hazen Audel (Supreme Survivalist Beast of the Universe) trolling a fishing line behind his tatala boat that the Lao Lom built, and whenever there was the the nifty underwater shot, I was willing one of those ginormous fish to bite. It’s human nature to implore things to coöperate with you.

So when would you tell a creature DON’T TAKE THE BAIT? Well, every summer in Maine, we buy an extra lobster that we release back into the ocean after reciting a stupid little poem to that lobster that ends and for heaven’s sake, stay away from that trap. (This whole thing started when the kids were little, the year we had one too many lobsters for the pot. So you’re standing there with this live lobster and no where to put it… and, well, the tradition began.)

I loved the clue for GLIMPSE. Loved it. Didn’t feel forced at all. In fact, the only thing I have in common with Rex this morning was the last letter in: the V in FIVE. Nice aha moment, that.

Jacob – I. Loved. This.

BarbieBarbie 6:47 AM  

@Evil, me too wanting BYPAss. I didn't resist BYPATH but there was a silent "eewww" with that.
Enjoyable for me. OK, no bait or lure. Also no sinker, bobber, rod, boat, fisherman. So what? It was cute and clever and a nice AHA.
@George, thanks a bunch. Even without following your links I've got today's earworm firmly in place. Let the punishment fit the crime.

It's not disturbing that G&S might be outside someone's wheelhouse, but it's a bit weird to hear an English professor complaining about it. I would think that body of work would be part of the foundation for cartooning. Unless maybe comics and cartoons are two different things? Yet it seems to me that if two chemists keep G&S near the front, OFL should at least have heard of it. And of course TM is a bass. The clueless pompous guy is always the bass.

BarbieBarbie 6:49 AM  

Sorry, forgot to ask. For the fishermen out there: are those fish arranged by depth?

Hungry Mother 6:51 AM  

I missed the picture of the fishing line, but did the puzzle in quick time for a Wednesday. Very cool theme and a real puzzle rather than a trivia contest. Almost makes up for yesterday.

puzzlehoarder 6:59 AM  

For someone who doesn't care for themes in the first place this was an especially bad experience. It was the crossword equivalent of a handshake buzzer or a woopee cushion. I came here for a puzzle and CAUGHT a bad fish joke. I assume it's easy to spot Mr. Steinberg at a party. He's the one with the lampshade on his head.

Glimmerglass 7:06 AM  

Here's the difference between me and @Rex: "weird and ambiguous and hard and oblique" sucks the joy out of the puzzle for him. That IS the joy of a puzzle to me. Yeah, this one was hard, clever, and unusual. Great fun.

kitshef 7:08 AM  

What a lovely, clean puzzle. In a perfect world, I’d like for LETSBE, THATSO, and DISCI to go away, but I love the rest.

Plus, cluing had a bit more bite than I expect for a Wednesday. Nice way to end the month.

Nan 7:31 AM  

I hated this puzzle. Too cute, and the clues were graceless. I guess I took the bait.

r.alphbunker 8:10 AM  

Loved it.

23A. {Hoof, essentially} PAW-->TOE
I guess horses PAW the ground with their TOE.

Details are here

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

I wanted covfefe for 26A. Couldn't make it work.

Two Ponies 8:23 AM  

Really enjoyed this one. Got the fishing line early and got a smile from 3D when it appeared. Just the right amount of creative "back door" clues to keep me happy. The hidden fish were a bonus. Caviar might be another fish answer.

Bypath was the only iffy answer. If I heard someone say that I would think bypass? (like E.D.) Or maybe bike path?
Small nit to pick in a very fun puzzle.

@ LMS, Good lobster story.

Aketi 8:25 AM  
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QuasiMojo 8:30 AM  

I took the bait and put an I in the last spot, so I was filled with IOY. Sounds Greek to me.

This puzzle was too easy for even a Wednesday. I flew through it. I liked some of the clueing but the words themselves were unremarkable for the most part.

Many of the Amish have left Pennsylvania for other REALMs, including upstate NY, because the land is cheaper and less congested.

Refrain from singing was funny. "O SOLE mio!" Lighten up, Rex. Or for heaven's SAKE, light one up! Stop BAITing us! You angling for some COLD FISH award? You didn't even see the humor in citing "New GRUB Street" vis-à-vis this piscine-themed puzzle?

mmorgan 8:35 AM  

I actually enjoyed the cluing more than the fish and the fishing line (which allowed me to fill in I's all the way down very early on), but I got stuck on FI_E/_ENT.

Aketi 8:36 AM  
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Mr. B 8:41 AM  

I liked the fishing line visual which I got early and made the rest of the puzzle fall into place.
My only snag was putting mottO instead of CREDO - which prevented me from seeing PERCH and left much of the middle bottom section a mystery to me for a time...
I also couldn't see the FIVE/orange ball connection until I came here post solve (haven't played in eons).
Finished just a minute above my WED I'm satisfied.
This was different and fun...thanks Mr. Stulberg.
Happy Hump Day

Barbara Hohenberg 8:43 AM  

I loved the stories in this comment! Especially the lobster! Now there's a family tradition to celebrate!

howard a. brenner 8:44 AM  

A reel pleasure for me.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Again I'm baffled, and yet have the fun of agreeing with Loren Muse Smith. My suggestion on Monday wasn't taken, no surprise, but at times, repetition has charm. or I think so. Forgive me for slamming it in, again:

it's been a lot of fun just to go along with the puzzles, to attempt them and then see what others, skilled solvers and Rex followers do... but, now, after having genuine fun on a Monday, and expecting that Rex would have the same, I'm finally sufficiently baffled and amazed to make a suggestion: the disconnect between Rex and most of us is obviously profound. We don't get his love of being above it all and genuinely nasty. Why, Rex, don't you apply your astonishing brain power to figuring out that distance, the opening between what your bio chemistry gave you, and the relatively sane one the rest of us enjoy? The pith and vinegar is finally, silly and sad. Put you deep solve side to work on yourself. Please. For the health of honest and joyful crosswording by a whole lot of us who come back to your space.

Hartley70 8:47 AM  

What a sweet Wednesday puzzle! I enjoyed every bite. The theme wasn't too obvious. The hook and line was my final aha and I didn't TAKETHEBAIT and went with the J. This was clever enough to make it as a Thursday.

ArtO 8:51 AM  

Certainly tougher than usual Wednesday for me with many of the same reactions as @Rex...especially in the NW. Very tricky clues overall. And, I will no longer "take the bait" from the politicos who express their opinions here. Let's stick to the topic.

AWS 9:02 AM  

Yesss--I was wondering if anyone else served as the 7th sucker in this puzzle, blithely plopping a whole line of I's down that column without a moment's hesitation. Really added to my enjoyment in the end... Unlike the other 6 victims, presumably.

John 9:04 AM  

Agree with anonymous on Rex. Looking for thematic consistency in his rants. I get the impatience with trite cluing. And I hated "publishers of Biblical material," or whatever it was on Saturday, and similar "let's see how obscure I can be" clues. But, honestly, this puzzle seemed a charming, not too taxing diversion, and it put a smile on my face. What more can you ask for on a Wednesday? I'm mystified by the intensity of Rex's dislike. By the time Saturday's Ph.D. oral exam arrives, I'll be ready.

pmdm 9:31 AM  

Anoa Bob: You hit on another example of common (but inaccurate) usage justifying a technically inaccurate clue. Too bad there isn't a blog which reprints all such clues.

Jackie 9:40 AM  

Like most normal people, I wrote DISCS. Once I figured out the fishing line gimmick, I figured the S must stand for a sinker or some other kind of attachment to the line that would actually attract the fish. Note to Times constructors: fish are not in fact "attracted" to hooks alone! The hook is not the bait!

Nate 9:43 AM  

I really wanted FORMALIST where LEGALIST went. Or even ORIGINALIST. I'm an attorney and definitely see FORMALIST/FORMALISM plenty, but LEGALIST? Eh. It's dictionary definition correct, just not common vernacular.

The EXTORT cluing was a smidge too obscure. I think if they replaced the word "force" with "threat" or "threat of force", the clue would ring more true. Sure, it works as it, technically, but it could be better.

Sir Hillary 9:47 AM  

Tough puzzle for a Wednesday -- I just couldn't get an angle on it.

No issue with the theme, clues or difficulty, although I agree with those who would have preferred to see a WORM down near the hook.

Hands up for LaBELED, which begat haKE, which begat a delay. Fixing the PIKE was my last bit of work.

What, no picture of Mike Trout? Or of an earlier Angel, Tim Salmon?

RooMonster 9:47 AM  

Hey All !
Kinda sorta cute puz, but the "fishing line" seemed a bit taxing. I'm sure it wasn't too easy to construct, and I did like the "hook" J on the bottom. And really no dreck with all those I's, DISCI notwithstanding.

So Canada has a new province? Are they all dog people? (Har) That damn FIVE ball eluded me also. And what the heck is a jacket VENT?

Not too TERRIFing a GLIMPSE from the APEX, but not the best JOY in a puz. AOK I BET.


hankster65 9:48 AM  

Ouch! Made me laugh, though.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

This puzzle was great. Seriously, Rex. Or maybe, lighten up!

hankster65 10:00 AM  

Enjoyed it a lot. First i had STEAM then SWEAT and finally SMELT. All those I's showing up in a row looked fishy and proved to be. (Too easy, I know.) The rationale behind FIVE totally had me baffled until I read the comments here.

Nancy 10:00 AM  

One man's meat is another man's poisson. The cluing that Rex CARPed about, calling it "weird and ambiguous and hard and oblique", is cluing just the way I like it. Yes, this was hard for a Wednesday -- which made the theme answers very helpful to the solve, which meant that they weren't just floating there, uselessly, to be completely ignored. But when I got to -- and solved -- 9D, non-visual me kept trying to twist it into a word. I got that the J was a hook, but the IIIIIIIIIIIIII????????? Can you catch a fish with a fourteeneyes hook? With a manymanyeyes hook? With a ninedowneyes hook? I pondered, and then I came here. "Oh, it's just a line", I thought. "How simple. Hiding in plain sight." But the thought never occurred to me because I don't think visually. It's a miracle I even knew the J was a hook.

Love the way THINE, TRALALA, and GLIMPSE were clued. Enjoyed the resistance the puzzle put up. Thought 9D was inspired. Liked this puzzle a lot.

GILL I. 10:04 AM  

I thought this was kinda neat. I've eaten all these fish except SMELT. Well, maybe I have and didn't know it. I know they're good for you - like sardines.
Loved seeing the long line shimmering down to a hook just waiting to catch the SOLE floating toward it.
There's a picture somewhere of me at the age of 5 or 6 sitting on the Malecon with a bamboo pole I found. I had some string and some bread and my mom's bobby pin. I used a pebble I found and tied it around the string to keep it from bobbing up, then I'd wad up the bread and stick it on the pin. I'd sit for hours and would very patiently re-fill the bread that some huge fish ate from my bobby pin. When I got older, my dad bought me a real fishing rod but I sorta lost interest. He always told me that everything you kill, you gotta eat it. I was scared to death I'd catch a real fish and have to skin it and eat it. I told him that. So....we did the old catch and toss back in trick.
I agree with @Two Ponies about the CAVIAR except they're eggs that haven't been hatched yet. Fish to be...just spread on some crackers except I spoon them on some delicious rye with a bit of capers and some lemon.
Fun Wed. JOY to LIEU.

Aketi 10:22 AM  

I liked to eat CAVIAR and hatched fish but ny opinion about biting the BAIT is:


I think the fish and baby birds might disagree.

The Fishing Tailor 10:23 AM  

@ Jackie, A sinker might put the bait where you want it but that little weight on your line is not what attracts the fish.
@ RooMonster, The slit in the middle of your coat tail is the vent or perhaps a pair of them on either side of the center seam.

Mohair Sam 10:36 AM  

Unusually clever Wednesday puzz. Just loved it. We lost tons of time by pulling a double Casco with hoRRIFY at 49A and BYPAss at 43D, hence she played challenging here.

Just like Rex I could not think of LABRADOR for some reason (and I've been there). Speaking of Rexford, our English Prof might look to Hemingway for an answer to his "Also, who can talk to fish?" question. Chuckling at how many of you got suckered into dropping an "I" into box 70. John Grisham's "Playing for Pizza" is set in PARMA and is a fun read outside of his usual legal thriller genre.

@Glimmerglass (7:06) - Well said.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Originally thought that the S in DISCS was the worm, then realized that it certainly wouldn't be in the middle of the line. I wish that every day were as playful and clever.

Joseph Michael 10:53 AM  

Another Jacob Stulberg gem. Clever clues and a theme with a sense of humor. Liked everything about this.

To those CARPing about the empty hook at the bottom of the fishing line, look again. It's not a hook but a worm wriggling up from one.

Looks like there's one fish dangerously close to TAKING THE BAIT. If it doesn't heed the puzzle's advice, it will soon be a LOST SOLE.

Aketi 10:53 AM  

I wanted the BAIT to be attached to the hook. Should have let the WORMS dangle.




I see potential for a


themed puzzle.

Wm. C. 10:54 AM  

Like many others, I wrote "DISCS." Clue shoulda been something like "Roman Platter," or added ", archaically." That incorrect "S" totally obscured the meaning of 9D. Sat scratching my head about "s" and "j" embedded in a bunch of "Is" until I came here.

Ditto on "EXTORT" for "Take by Force," which strongly implies physical force. If "force" needed to be used, try "force to turn over," or somesuch.

Overall, a bit harder than my usual Wednesday's work; nothing wrong with that though.

Lewis 10:56 AM  
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QuasiMojo 10:59 AM  

Shouldn't the plural of Discus be "discopodes"? Lol. JK. Nod to LMS.

Lewis 11:00 AM  

What a cute idea for a puzzle, rather ingenious, plus some devilish and clever cluing: TRALALA, FIVE, AIM, GLIMPSE, EDEN. Not only did I get my SUC (satisfaction upon completion), but it left me with a smiley feeling. This was a memorable one! Today, Jacob I have loved.

Even with that solid line of I's, which counted as seven double letters, this puzzle still did not have an unusually high double letter count. This from your resident alphadoppeltotter.

Sign of the times. When I saw the first down clue ("Solid orange ball") followed by the second ("Top"), a certain person flashed into my consciousness.

Lewis 11:01 AM  

@quasi -- Ha!

JC66 11:04 AM  


The clue for EXTORT (19A) is Take by force mention of physicality.

mathgent 11:06 AM  

Brava, @Nancy! "One man's meat is another man's poisson."

All the sparkle came from the novel and well-executed theme, but that's enough for a Wednesday.

wgh 11:09 AM  

I don't care what anyone thinks, this puzzle was cute and I liked it so there.

Lewis 11:10 AM  

@rex -- Liz Gorski's Sunday 11/2/08 has a similar string of I's (but with something different than a hook at the bottom).

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Some may call it CARPing by OFL, but OTOH he is all about the 'solving experience' and style points, so why CARP about the CARPing?

DISCI as plural of DISC I can understand the complaints, but the event is the discus throw, so I think it did not need any kind foreign-language indicator, for that to be a valid plural.

Like OFL and some others V in FIVE was my last fill-in, and I still did not connect it with pool's #5 ball for a bit. I could think of nothing else for _ENT except the 'V'. I was literally running the alphabet in both directions looking for words that at least made sense, but kept getting led to try FIrE for the 'orange ball', which kind of made a little sense, but the cross did not.

Have to say, and I may be repeating someone else, but I fell for this hook, line and sinker! Really liked it - thanks Mr. Stulberg!


Andrew Heinegg 11:25 AM  

I thought this was Thursday-Fridayish in difficulty. Got orange five to complete just as I was getting ready to quit. Shameful for someone who wasted so much time playing pool decades ago;

I'm with Rex on the sort of weirdness to the some cluing and answers. I am on the side of the thumbs down folks mostly because I didn't get any real enjoyment out of the fish theme and picture. But, that is a matter of taste. My robotic method of solving is such that I am only concerned about solving the puzzle. I don't pay attention to themes or visuals. Guess I had better try to see and enjoy more of what is in some of these crosswords.

Cassieopia 11:32 AM  

Loved the puzzle.
Found it easy.
Got a kick out of the line and hook.
Really, REALLY loved the puzzle!

That is all. Now on to finish reading the comments, which are really good today.

Happy Pencil 11:34 AM  

I thought this was cute and clever, and a good puzzle for people just beginning to successfully solve beyond Mondays and Tuesdays. I especially liked that all the fish were clued as something other than fish, keeping the theme consistency that Rex usually complains about. I think that fact alone should have tempered his review a bit more, but who am I to say?

@jae, we always used to refer to Newfoundland on its own, but Labrador is part of the province (even though physically it's part of Quebec). I think it was about fifteen years ago that we started calling the whole province Newfoundland and Labrador, officially speaking.

@Quasi, fun fact about the Amish. Thanks!

@Nancy, for some reason it really made me laugh that you didn't "see" the line until you came here. Your alternative theories remind me of something CascoKid would have come up with.

Gwinns 11:35 AM  

I liked it!

But I would have liked it better if the J was instead a rebus square with WORM or LURE or something in it.

jberg 11:35 AM  

I liked it a lot. I happened to be wearing a single-vented jacket while solving, so that was easy but like @Anoa Bob, those white circles with the numbers in them kept me from seeing the 5-ball as solid orange

My biggest problem is that I always write Is with the little bars on top and bottom, so it took me until late solve to think of them as a line--and then I wanted 70A to spell out some kind of bait. Too short for worm; fly isn't really bait, but I would have settled. I needed the cross to see the bare hook, though.

As for LABRADOR, the clue doesn't say province, just neighbor

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 11:35 AM  

Just musing here, I'm thinking that DISCus might be Greek, it being part of the original Olympics. In which case its proper plural might be along the loines of the proper plural of Octopus. DISCodes?

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 11:36 AM  

Anybody else stare at that "S" in the almost middle of the fishing line and wonder what it was supposed to mean? Maybe I need to stop solving at night when my brain has already gone to sleep.

Blue Stater 11:46 AM  

Absolutely and utterly dreadful. And full of mistakes. Standard fare these days, alas.

Blue Stater 11:50 AM  

@Fall River - I'm thinking maybe you're right. I *was* thinking that "discus" doesn't feel like a Latin second-declension noun to me, and if it is instead a fourth-declension noun the Latin plural would be just "discus," I think, But I'm not enough of a classicist to answer either question.

Alexander 12:05 PM  

Yup, last Wednesday's puzzle actually. 31A: Black ball - EIGHT

jb129 12:17 PM  

Got it but never really "got it" -I agree with Rex, laborious is a good description of this puzzle.

I guess billard balls are the new rappers... oh well, at least I finished it even if I didn't enjoy it

Masked and Anonymous 12:29 PM  

In the game of eight-ball, one side takes the stripes, and the other side takes the solids. Sooo … "Solid orange ball" don't seem way out of line, to old pool player M&A.

@RP liked the theme, kinda liked the (albeit unbaited) hook, seemed ok with the fill (I think?), but disliked the clues hook, line and stinker.

@M&A liked everything a lot, except maybe that there 9-D unbaited hook. But that SOLE may have just recently swam by and nibbled the bait offa it, I reckon. Be that as it may be -- Might I humbly suggest the followin adjustment, to the bottom part of 9-D? …
Now there is still some worm (or somesuch) left wrigglin on yer hook. Use the U's … they're eager to serve.

DISCI. har

staff weeject pick: UOY.

Clues were superbly feisty, but did boost this snarlin puppy up to somewhat fishy challengin, for a WedPuz. This don't bother M&A worth a minnow's gray matter. Forget what day-um day it is, @RP. This was primo puz meat!!! Have a couple more mimosas (mimosae?) and a toke poke, and U can happily forget what day it is, too ... just like old M&A do … No problemo:
FIVE ball in the friggin corner pocket, dude. kpop! I've got the solids. [Trump's orange balls hafta remain in a blind trust, in case y'all were wonderin]

Thanx a boatload, Mr. Stulberg. Solid orange thUmbsUp. Even tho yer puz was a might light on the U-bait. (yo, @Aketi)

Masked & AnonymoUs


old timer 12:34 PM  

This was a brilliant and enjoyable puzzle, and tricky too, if like me you got DONT TAKE THE BAIT early and then concluded that this was a warning to the solver not to put in the obvious answers like SOLE and BASS. By the time I found SMELT I decided, no, each starred clue refers to a fish, spelled normally.

I agree with OFL on one point: As a LEGALIST I can assure you that if you EXTORT someone you do not use force, though you may use the threat of force or embarrassment or whatever. If you take something by force, your crime is robbery, not EXTORTion.

Seems to me a BYPATH is an indirect route compared to the main road or trail, and a bypass is often the more direct, or at least more speedy way to grow. Highway 101 used to go directly through the center of all the towns it passed through, and over the years, those towns have been bypassed by the freeway, and today, taking the old highway would be less direct than staying on the freeway.

Also seems to me that the FIVE ball is solid orange, for all intents and purposes. The use of different colors on the "solids" in order to make the numbers visible is irrelevant. Though I take the point that a different solid-color ball is used in billiards.

Tita A 12:35 PM  

@Nancy = funny on multiple levels - poisson indeed...! Thanks @mathgent - I missed it in my quick scan.

@Quasi - I've seen many Amish on the roads and in the fields along the St. Lawrence.

@lms, Rex...yes, we most certainly talk to lots of both animates and inanimates.
Last spring at the NY Botanical Gardens I was standing over a section full of the most beautiful variety of the most deadly Pitcher Plants, and actually talking to the flies being lured to their demise.
I hate flies. But I still felt compelled to warn them away from that devious trickery.

And shout-out to dear Yvette, who graduates second in her high school class this Saturday. A TOI!

Very fun, different idea. I love visuals in the puzzle, and this was a great one. It helped me with HEIGL, and heloed disambiguate the EIRE/Erin conundrum.
Of course 70 was to be a J.

I fished twice in my life...when I was about 8, would go à la Gill, with a stick and some bread.
Then on a trip to the Amazon, went on a rowboat tour of the Amazon from Manaus at high water season. At one point in our tour, the fairly well inebriated "captain" gave us a bowl filled with chunks of red meat, and bamboo sticks with twine and hook.
We were instructed to dangle the bait in the water, then he splashed at the surface with his fingertips.
But the piranha were smarter than the tourists, though. They knew very well to just nibble at the meat rather than swallow it whole.
When we would bring the fish out of the water, he would simply let go and drop back in.

That was not at all a disappointment to me - what would I have done with 4 or 5 piranhas flapping about at my feet?

Maybe if I had had as many Caipirinhas made with homemade cachaça and Amazon River water, I wouldn't have worried about it.
(We did have one each - we figured the homemade rotgut would kill anything before they had a chance to kill us.)

Fun puzzle, Mr. Stulberg.

(@lms - love the Lobster pardoning story...)

Joe Bleaux 12:36 PM  

Hey, cap'n -- I hope you saw my note about the C-130 on Monday.

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:38 PM  

This was the most original puzzle I've seen on NYT in a while. See, you can still be creative and fun, NYT?

I hear Rex's complaints about the cluing being a bit tough and obscure, and I guess this could've been a Thursday, but it was such a fresh puzzle I opt to ignore that part.

old timer 12:38 PM  

I return with a question about the Homer Simpson clip. On my computer, after Homer's brief appearance, the covers of four music albums appear. And it so happens that three of them, featuring the Holy Modal Rounders, Jesse Colin Young, and Ry Cooder, feature artists that I have Googled for or YouTubed for in the past month. Coincidence? I'd love to know what your experience was.

Joe Bleaux 12:39 PM  

Yeah,me too, but my fishing time was several minutes later than usual.

Carola 12:39 PM  

I thought it was cute - by the time I got to SMELT and had the first few segments of the line,I saw that we were goin' fishing, and I looked forward to seeing how the rest of the fish would be disguised in the clues. I was hoping for a worm rebus at the end, but the J-hook was apt (not sure about the JOY though, if there's not going to be a bite).

Two trouble spots for me: the NW, where there was one "No idea" after another, and the Mikado - I thought the character was a BoSS, which meant that it was an Oops that got bleeped out (x pEtRIFY). The SRTA made me rethink.

JC66 12:42 PM  

@old timer

My dictionary says:

obtain (something) by force, threats, or other unfair means.
"he was convicted of trying to extort $1 million from a developer"
synonyms: force, extract, exact, wring, wrest, screw, squeeze, obtain by threat(s), blackmail

JC66 12:46 PM  

@old timer

I get four covers, too; none of which I recognize.

Joe Bleaux 12:54 PM  

After I left the gate tripping over my feet in the NW, I gave it up, went to the NE, got the "I" string, and essentially finished the right side of the puzzle. After I "caught" the theme, the goal then became simply isolating and finishing the NW. Big "DOH!" moment was the FIVE ball. After all, I was one of the few who immediately knew the blue striper in a recent puzzle was the 10 ball. This was dang near a Thursday puz, but despite a couple of groaner clues, it was more fun than a typical Wednesday. Thanks, Mr. Stulberg.

Masked and Anonymous 12:55 PM  

Ooooh, ooooh …

Maybe go with DISCO, and then have one of them bobber dealies, on yer fishline?!

… Will miss the fresh smell of desperation bait with DISCI, tho ...


Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Here's my complaint that Rex didn't bring up. Pike, carp, smelt, perch, sole they are all fish names clued by their other meaning homonyms... but all pronounced the same. Bass the way it is clued does not sound the same as bass the fish.

edlor 1:07 PM  

Surprised that Rex doesn't recognize "ash" as a tree. It grows widely through the NY region, and until recent years was used to make baseball bats. Ash trees are now dying in large numbers because of fungal infections and the actions of a particular beetle introduced accidentally from Asia in the 1980s. Ash bats rarely broke; the woods now used to make bats cause them to shatter easily, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

Tom4 1:11 PM  

I agree with @Rex on this one. Even if I did finish it in record time (I remembered LABRADOR) it was unpleasant.

Teedmn 1:26 PM  

I could hate this puzzle for the stupid DNF I had at 1D/16A but instead I loved it. I had a big smile on my face when I GLIMPSEd what 9D represented after I finished filling in 3D. Nice job, Jacob.

Yeah, I've played many a pool game and I know what color goes with which ball but I settled for FIrE at 1D, giving me rENT for a jacket feature. You can imagine my speculations thereon: "Hmmm, I know "rENT" is a tear - is that a fashion term for "slit" in jacket making?" Sheesh!

I love to fish but I don't spend much time doing it. I used to belong to a CARP Club where we practiced "catch and release" with the big, slow, nasty tasting things that we caught down on the Mississippi. My husband still does it every Thursday in the summer. And I've certainly caught BASS, PIKE and PERCH. Sometimes you can't keep the little PERCH off the bare hook, they are so eager to TAKE THE BAIT.

It flashed through my brain to wonder if there was some Central American country (Guatemala or Honduras, obviously) that had a state/province named Quebec. Off the ______DOR, all I could think of was El SalvaDOR. The L in ALTAR saved me from that embarrassment. So like @Hartley70, @Nancy and everyone else who liked this puzzle, I really enjoyed this Wednesday solve.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

The clue was keyed to the Olympics. The Olympic event is discus, not disc. The plural of discus is either discuses (which doesn't fit) or disci (which fits). All the carping about Discs is just...carping.
The Greek plural of diskos is diskoi, a perfectly regular correspondent to the Latin second declension. Sheesh, crack a book, folks.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

I agree with Rex. Beep boop beep.

Ray Yuen 2:17 PM  

Tons of fun but the gimmick gave away almost 1/3 of the puzzle. Very easy and witty, despite what Mr. Grump thinks of it.

Mr. Fitch 2:32 PM  

There are also solid-colored balls in snooker, of course.

Malsdemare 2:39 PM  

I thought this was fun. There were lots of places that held me up for a bit, scratching my head, and then the answer would drop in place. FIVE was my last entry. VENT made perfect sense to me. Almost all jackets have vents unless they are tailor-made. Vents are necessary for those who aren't perfectly shaped. If your caboose is a bit larger than the standard, a jacket without vents will pull and look awful. So this has me wondering if Trump, who really doesn't seem to be someone who cares about his sartorial image (the too-long tie with the tape is my first clue), has his suits custom-made. Must check for vents in his photos, cause his derriere would definitely demand vents.

I've been wracking my brain for a kind of bait that's four letters, with the second an I (do fish like rice?). Alas, I have failed, but if such a word were possible it could replace the dill. In the same vein, replace ROVED with lures or worms and the image would be perfect. But I am not, in any manner at all, a constructor. I'm betting those options were tried and just didn't work.

Too many drugs (post-op recovery is slow) to be able to remember everyone's comments but today's were great. Thanks for the distraction.

Sarah McCleary 2:41 PM  

You remember correctly There was a NYT with Spiderman once that had a string of I's in the same theme. About a decade ago!

Anonymous 2:45 PM  


In fact broken bats are up. Or have been for the past couple of years. ( I don't think there are stats for the current season). There is no consensus about why, but one of theories is the number of maple bats being used these days. About 70% of MLB players use maple, 20% use the traditional ash and 5% use yellow birch. ( Some guys use one bat in cooler weather another in the Summer months).

As for the emerald ash borer, you're right. It's a scourge.

Anonymous South Jersey

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

Wake up liberals, there will be no "blue wave", no Democratic majority, and no impeachment. Andrew O'Hehir - Salon.

evil doug 3:50 PM  

Joe Bleaux,
Went back and got your Monday post. Thanks!

David from CA 4:28 PM  

I only see 5 "?" clues, is that really considered '"?"-laden Rex? And how is the clueing of the 6 fish with non-fish meanings "outside the solving experience"? And how can a theme be "too clever for it's own good"? I don't get it, don't you like cleverness - you aren't even doing the usual trashing of the fill quality.

But....thank you so much for your occasional "for me" qualification! Sure makes a difference in the tone of the "review".

I join the thumbs up crowd - thought it was a great Wed. puzzle. And given the roughly comparable numbers of people saying "it was too hard" and those saying "it was too easy", I would say Will was right on playing it on a Wednesday.

David from CA 4:30 PM  

but...isn't the phrase:
So "start to fire" should be READY, nto AIM!

David Schinnerer 4:30 PM  

I liked this, but played more like a Thursday for me. Thought cluing was fair but just difficult enough. The only reason Rex didn't like it was because he couldn't fly through it and get it over with in record time. Again, going on record that I enjoy taking my time and savoring the puzzle. For Rex, it's an irritant to get out of his life. What fun is that? Also, can't believe Rex didn't criticize the choice of fish used. How could they be the right ones if Rex didn't think of them??

Sorry, but he's such an ass...

Anonymous 4:51 PM  

Now Ken Jennings is mocking Barron Trump. These lefties keep one-upping each other in classlessness.

iamjess 4:53 PM  

@QuasiMojo HA!! That might be the best thing that happens to me today :)

Hands up for wanting something at the end of the line. I first had


Then changed to


Alas. But I found the puzzle enjoyable nonetheless.

Anonymous 5:22 PM  

Michael Sharp is the spawn of Kathy Griffin and Michael Moore.

jae 5:31 PM  

@Happy Pencil - thanks for LABRADOR info.

@jberg - I googled "Canadian maps" and "list of Canadian Provinces" last night and both had "Newfoundland and LABRADOR" as a province.

Aketi 6:10 PM  

@Malsdemare, sorry post op recovery has been slow. As for your question, some people used canned CORN for fish bait.

CDilly52 7:00 PM  

The clue refers to the discus, thrown in Olympic and other field events. Completely disagree that the plural would be disci, though.

CDilly52 7:05 PM  

And Amen and AMEN!

old timer 8:09 PM  

with regard to the images I saw on the clip, it occurred to me that Blogger has some connection to Google. And Google knows everything I've recently Googled for -- at least what computer I've used and my e-mail address, which surprised me. So probably the searched for things I'd like to listen to and somehow benefit them on. OFL, I hoped, might have an explanation.

Anonymous 8:36 PM  

Kathy Griffin is losing gigs hand over fist. Nice career move, hater.

Fountains of Orange Fluids 9:05 PM  

Does anyone remember couvfefe?

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Mr Parker,

It tooklonger for me as well. Not in your league soe we are talking a hour. Solved it without hints but confused Credo with Thedo. So two letters off for that. Also had Fite not Five. Handicap myself one letter sometimes. So two or three letters wrong without looking up answers or hints.


spacecraft 11:26 AM  

Well, it certainly was different. Maybe this was done before, but it was before I started doing these. So, OFL lets a few weekend clues bother him? Gee, it must've taken all of...FIVE minutes. Poor guy. Some days you just have to be the David Blaine of puzzle solving. Hang in there, dude; we'll send you food and water.

I enJOYed it--especially that last letter in: the J. I agree there's no BAIT on the hook, but what can one do? Personally, I did TAKETHEBAIT twice: my TAIL end was first a rear, and I took--like everybody else--the BYPAss. I've never heard the word BYPATH, but it is one, so, AOK.

DOD, of course, is the gorgeous Katherine HEIGL. Theme and execution solid, and no fill crap (not to be confused with CARP). Birdie.

Burma Shave 12:24 PM  


IBET down the PIKE he’ll CARP on how she SMELT,
THATSO sad, from his PERCH IT’S his SOLE TRAIT,
LETSBE clear, IT’S ANGST in LIEU of JOY that he felt.
At any RATE, if she’s on the STOOL, DONTTAKETHEBAIT.


Diana,LIW 2:06 PM  

I was hunting and pecking my way thru, kept getting a little here, a little there. Never got stopped, but...Yeah - kinda hardish at first. But then, I looked at the two long revealer clues, noticed that the two * answers I had at that time were fishies, and boom, bang, bing! Went to town, both with the long downs, all the fish, and many others.

And I had TRALALA right off. I've been doing a bunch of "Wednesday" books, and puns and ???s are their forte. So I was in a Wed frame of mind. It worked. If I had to guess my time, taking minutes off for cat petting/conversation and coffee sipping, I'd say between 10 and 15 minutes. Sometimes we middle school kids can act all grown up like.

Last night we had Copper River Salmon for dinner. Could have been the worst meal I ever made. The two salmon pieces were big vs. little, so neither came out perfectly. And they were full of bones. And the rice side dish was an experiment. Rice "with heat, in a way." The results reminded me of George B's Milk of Magnesia experiment. Promised Mr. W I'd take him to a restaurant of his choosing whenever he would like. Maybe this puzzle was my reward.

Anyway, because of the above, I loved doing this puzzle.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and a better meal

rondo 2:29 PM  

Knew something was fishy with the first three Is in line and knowing they were correct. One word w/o where my “take in” was originally earn instead of REAP. Minor inkfest.

I used to shoot on a pool team. Solid orange ball as the FIVE was a gimme. Add 8 (for the eight ball) and the thirteen is a striped orange ball; same with all the colors.

SHEL Silverstein wrote lotsa songs for Dr. Hook and also Johnny Cash’s hit Boy Named Sue. Did I ever mention that I once played in a band that opened for Johnny. Yeah I did.

IBET you could guess that I’d give a big yeah baby to Catherine HEIGL.

Funny goings-on in the grid before Thursday. Hope this does not become a TRAIT.

leftcoastTAM 2:54 PM  

Yeah, it all come down to the "hook" at the end of the line of I's. Kept staring at it, trying to make something of the "eyes", but nothing came.

Then they EXTORTed the "aha" that "eyes" had nothing to do with it. It was just a fish line with a hook. And it had to be a BAITed hook, didn't it?

Stulberg can seem a bit too clever sometimes, and this time I enjoyed his playfulness a lot.

SharonAK 7:42 PM  

Anonymous @ 11:18.
I was speeding down to the comment form - even knowing that My comment, coming from the west coast in syndiland, would probably never be read - because I was astounded at all the criticism of disci as plural for disc when it is a "discus" throw. but I saw that you had long beat me to it.
I had found the northwest difficult and agree that extort is not to take by force (rather by threat) but enjoyed many of the clues Rex complained about. have a smiley face by 66D, tho some of you may have been too fast with that one to find it an aha, that's fun moment.
I think I've seen the fishing line done before, sometime. But I thought the whole thing worked very well together and made the whole puzzle fun because so many them entries. Once I saw the fishing line it helped me with some of the "fish" I hadn't yet thought of.

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