Wings to zoologists / SUN 5-14-17 / Apple of Discord thrower / Onetime tool for talking online / Cult leader killed in Waco siege / Contraction lacking just v / Power machine in woodworking

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Constructor: Will Nediger

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Places, Everyone!" — circled-square answers are all two-part answers, where first part must be inferred by the answers place in the grid: for the Acrosses, LEFT, MIDDLE, and RIGHT; for the Down, TOP up top; MIDDLE in the middle; and BOTTOM down below.

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: SAUK (77D: Fox neighbor) —
The Sac or Sauk are a group of Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands culture group. Their autonym is oθaakiiwaki, and their exonym is Ozaagii(-wag) in Ojibwe. The latter name was transliterated into French and English by colonists of those cultures. (wikipedia)
• • •

In retrospect, it's all reasonably logical, but while solving, none of the "places" made any sense to me. It all seemed very haphazard, and I just inferred the answers the best I could. Had trouble at first because I couldn't believe that the fact that the theme answers *crossed* each other meant nothing, but ... yeah, it means nothing. Nothing as far as the execution of the theme itself goes. Means a lot in terms of theme density, which is, on the one hand, impressive, and on the other, troublesome—as with all dense themes, it puts a lot of pressure on the fill. Don't believe me, just ask the ALAE PLANER, or, uh, just PUPATE the ETHELS, if you've got the nerve. Well do ya, punk? The theme works fine, but it wasn't any great delight. Also, the "Right" answers seemed particularly weak. Right-HANDER, Right-MINDED, Right-Clicks ... none of them very snappy. No ANGLES or WINGERS. Also, what is "Bottom BRACKET"? I've heard of teams being at the top or the bottom of the bracket, but the adjective (?) "bottom-BRACKET" ... wait, is it an adjectival phrase? [Where teams ... are found?] They're found bottom-BRACKET? That is awkward.

We need to talk about a few of the answers in this puzzle. First, ASHINE (3D: Glowing). I literally LOL'd and then looked around for someone, anyone, to confirm that that is the single dumbest / most ridiculous A-anything word. AREEL, AGAZE, ALOP ... all of them are ordinary, everyday words compared to ASHINE? I mean ... ASHINE makes AGLEAM look good. This ASHINE's third time *ever* being in the NYT crossword. Amazingly, it even appeared once during the Rex Parker era. I clearly and smartly suppressed this memory. So there's that. Then there's the serious, Natickulous trauma of SAUK, which *also* makes only its third ever appearance today (77D: Fox neighbor). I ... do not know this tribe. Which is fine, I don't know a lot of things. But to cross this obviously not-commonly-known tribe name with _-TESTS!?!?! (82A: Mushroom makers) That could be three different letters. That *has been* three different letters. This is why crosswordese suuuucks and why editing is an important skill. That is a godawful crossing. How did the constructor not know this, the editor not know this, the testers not comment on this. Just dire. SAUK > SNUK or SHUK, I'll grant you, but not by a lot,and by no means definitively. It's not like I look at SAUK and think "o yeah, it's *gotta* be that." This is in the same area where people are going to have KISS instead of BUSS (at least for a bit), so ... blargh city.

Important Crossword Event News:

THE INDIE 500 crossword tournament is happening SATURDAY, JUNE 3, 2017 (i.e. *in three weeks*), in Washington, D.C., and registration is open open open. This is one of two tournaments I try never to miss (the other is Lollapuzzoola, in NYC, in August). Indie is such a welcoming, fun place to be, and the puzzle constructor slate for the tournament this year looks amazing (talented *and* diverse!—check it out!). This a great tournament for veterans and rookies alike. Don't be afraid of your own nerddom. Register now. You'll be happy you did.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:09 AM  

Parse these sentences; "Amazingly, it even appeared once during the Rex Parker era. I clearly and smartly suppressed this memory." His ego has no bounds.

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

Rex Parker era LOL

Moly Shu 12:33 AM  

@Rex. got hubris?? Geez.
Yea SnUK and ShUK both tried here. First themer I got was BRACKET and Immediately thought of losers BRACKET and couldn't connect it to the theme, then right CLICKS turned the light on. I kinda liked it.

Bad series finale said... 12:37 AM  

Fictional woodcutter = Dexter

Austin 1:02 AM  

last year's indie 500 was my first crossword tournament and i had the blastiest blast ever. if you can make it, go!

Brian 1:20 AM  

Didn't mind SAUK myself, I grew up near both the Fox River and Sauk County, so even the neighbor relationship made sense. It still took me forever thanks to BUSS, which held up a lot of the SW for me (I had the same complaint about BRACKET, maybe if the clue had been tax related instead of sports?).

Anonymous 1:25 AM  

Surprised to see Rex call this Medium and not get the theme immediately. Top left is full of gimmes and forces the themers out. I got it right away, and was able to use that to fill in all of the rest. I'm a slow solver (just got my Sunday average under 30 minutes), and this fell in 12 minutes for me.

Rex just needs to grouch about everything. PUPATE and PLANER are completely legit. Name pluralizations (ETHELS) always seem kinda cheap, but it's not a big deal. And sure I've never seen ASHINE before, but it's in the dictionary and makes total sense.

My complaints--SAUK/BUSS as usual, and EDINA/ELEA. Themer HANDER is clued poorly, I've still never actually seen an UGLI in person, or anywhere outside of a crossword puzzle for that matter, and ETS is still a term nobody ever uses.

In all, I thought this was a nice puzzle, with surprisingly few bad spots for this many themers.

Anonymous 1:32 AM  

""Woke, triggered, and stupid is now way to go through life son, " Dean Wormer's grandson said that. I'm ambivalent about the Oxford comma btw,

Anonymous 1:42 AM  

no . not now frickin spellcheck oh well

jae 1:59 AM  

Easy-medium for me. The A in SAUK was my last square, N and H looked weird. Liked it.

chefwen 3:02 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theodore Stamos 3:20 AM  

Ugh. That SAUK/BUSS cross killed me. Never heard of either word. And as much as I like the guy's work, I can never remember how to spell AMECHE....

chefwen 3:29 AM  

Took me a while to grok the theme (sometimes it takes a two by four upside the head) loved it when the light came on.

SAUK was no problem for this Wisconsinite. SAUK City is in SAUK County near Prairie du Sac, nicknamed SAUK Prairie.

SIRLOIN made me smile, one of our cattle is named Sir Loin, the others are Bubba Burger, Stu and Bob. Cute little guys that follow us around like puppies, waiting for a treat.

Hand up for kiss before BUSS, and l Ike Rex, hated ASHINE, no excuse for that.

Mr. B 3:49 AM  

Medium/Easy for me...finished faster than my Sunday average time. It offered just enough resistance to be interesting. But that pesky SW corner has given me trouble the last few days. I knew the ETHELS. I got AMECHE and PUPATE (cool that these were side by side as Don AMECHE starred in "Cocoon")...but I am so glad I never heard of IPECAC (had to look that up post-solve). DEETS was new to me too!

Yup...that SAUK / ATESTS / BUSS area was the last to fall for me.
I thought that the "Fox neighbor" was a reference to that popular song from a few years back about "What the Fox said..." heh. This was fun.

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms !!!

'mericans in Paris 4:43 AM  

When we saw this grid and all its white spaces (85% of the possible squares), we though, this looks interesting! We zoomed through most of the east and middle AMERICA section, but slowed down in the west. We never figured out the trick until after we had finished the whole puzzle.

Or not: actually DNF. Like @Theodore Stamos, I did not recall correctly how to spell Don AMECHE and entered it instead as AMiCHi. I guessed BUSS early (after Mrs. 'Merican's "kiss" didn't work), but like @Rex couldn't decide whether the answer to 82A should be A (atomic), H (hydrogen) or N (nuclear) TESTS. The Comprehensive Nuclear-TEST-Ban Treaty was signed more than 20 years ago, for cripes sake. Yes, North Korea is still carrying out tests of its nuclear weapons, but does anybody use the term A-TESTS to describe them?

So we finally got off the FENCE and TYPEd IN an "N". We later Googled SnUK and up it popped in the Urban Dictionary. A SnUK is "a very cool person who is very [elite]! He will usually attract all the attention from all the girls, he has a huge d**k and has the perfect body." So, neighbor to a "fox" -- i.e., "A beautiful and attractive woman" (according to the UD) -- makes sense, non?

All in all, a very impressive construction feat. Some of the fill was iffy, but I guess it is nigh impossible to create such a dense grid without the occasional ASHINE and DEETS.

Interesting juxtaposition in the Michigan area: DRASTIC REBIRTH of AMERICA. I guess that's one way to look at it. Today France is witnessing its own DRASTIC REBIRTH, as President Macron takes the keys to the Élysée Palace. Found out earlier this week that a former summer intern on mine is now a spokesperson for Macron. Pretty cool, that!

Finally, I don't know what Anonymous at 1:32 AM is going on about. I'm also ambivalent about the Oxford comma. What I find sad, however, is the trend towards replacing the usual comma between coordinated adjectives by the slash, as in @Rex's rant about ASHINE ("that is the single dumbest / most ridiculous A-anything word"). To me, "that is the single dumbest, most ridiculous A-anything word" just looks and sounds smoother.

Mike in Mountain View 6:08 AM  

Loved the theme. Add me to the list of people Naticked by Sauk, even though I have run the Fox Cities Marathon.

Jonathan Alexander 6:15 AM  

One error, right at the Natick...SNUK instead of SAUK (got the chime with the next guess of A). Stood there trying to figure out the theme for a bit also getting trapped into think that the crossed circled letter actually meant something.

Felt like there were a lot of verb preposition combos to which kinda junked it up a bit.

Lewis 6:30 AM  

I got the theme early, which made the puzzle fly, because after that, each of the many theme answers had basically two clues (one being the positional one) which made them much easier to slap down, some without any letters in it. The isolated corners made for four mini-puzzles. I loved the clue for FENCE, learned "dead man's hand", and took a while to figure out a sentence where PRIDING made sense ("He is priding himself on his excellent solving skills"). Between the direct cluing and the easy theme answers, this puzzle TEETERED quickly, while still charging up my synapses.

And mothers are not left out -- word searchers will find seven MA's in the puzzle. God bless days like this, Mother's Day, where love is in the air.

Loren Muse Smith 6:32 AM  

Tricky theme. Once I caught on, I was impressed. I especially liked the two instances of “left” that used them as verbs: LEFT SCHOOL and LEFT BEHIND. (More on that later.)

@Mr. B – the southwest was hardest for me, too. And terrific catch on the AMECHE/PUPATE (Cocoon) pair.

@Lewis - I agree about the clue for FENCE.

@’Mericans – Hah! DRASTIC REBIRTH of AMERICA. I have to point out we also have PRICK’S METIME and wait for a smack down from our DRAKE alum. I totally deserve it, but there it is.

That SAUK/A-TESTS cross didn’t really bother me; somehow I didn’t really entertain “N-tests” or “H-tests.”

Seeing the CHILD/BEHIND cross. No child left behind. Right. Ruined my morning. What a mess we have in public schools. I’ll post a rant separately so that you can just skip over it.

The theme density is quite impressive, but even more impressive is the symmetry. Not only did Mr. Nediger find words that cross, he found words that cross at the exact symmetrical points. Just look at the top and bottom crosses and see what I mean. Very cool. This could explain why Rex’s “angles” and “wingers” didn’t work.

Well done!

Loren Muse Smith 6:34 AM  
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Anonymous 6:35 AM  

Somehow guessed BUSS.

Relative difficulty: middle.

Loren Muse Smith 6:38 AM  

No CHILD (left) BEHIND rant:

I teach in one of the poorest counties in West Virginia. The vast majority of my kids are not college-bound, don’t aspire to be college-bound. They will be welders, carpenters, mechanics. Most of them read at about the fifth grade level. Here is one of the standards I’m supposed to see that they master (copied from the WV Dept. of Education website):

“Demonstrate a deep knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature, including how multiple literary texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics.”

Just to see once, I found an article on the ten main differences between a diesel engine and a gas engine and gave it to three stalwart trouble-makers. Just gave it to them – no directives. The transformation was staggering. They read, they discussed, one came and asked for a pencil and paper (they NEVER have either), they took notes, they underlined stuff, they argued, they stayed even after the lunch bell rang.

If I had the time, I would burn the text book with its too-high reading level and stories about art museums in Chicago, throw out many of the state curriculum standard objectives, and gather material they would engage them. But when? It took quite a bit of time even to find that one article that could work for those three students. I have about ninety students, all with various interests, and I lose my planning frequently because we have very few subs and not even enough teachers. I spend a great deal of my out-of-class time entering standardized test data, color coding it, filling out cya forms for IEP students, going to meetings, jumping through ridiculous bureaucratic hoops.

I know I whine a lot about my job. And I offer no solution to this mess. I’m lost, I’m discouraged, I go home every day feeling like a failure. And much, much worse, so do my kids.

(I’m not fishing for the “You’re doing great!” and “They’re lucky to have you” comments. I’m really not. I’m just so bitter and so tired. I want the TOP BANANAS to fix this for me. Right.)

'mericans in Paris 7:05 AM  

@LMS: I won't say "You're doing great!" and "They're lucky to have you", but your rant was truly enlightening. Interesting that the standard for foundational works of American literature stops at the "early-twentieth-century". No Catch 22?, no The Poisonwood Bible?

Hungry Mother 7:09 AM  

Whew! Tough for me today. I got it with a couple of wags in normal time for me. Easy theme, but some really crunchy spots.

Anonymous 7:11 AM  

Wonderful puzzle, I thought. But "sauk"?

Lojman 7:11 AM  

@Anonymous - please write three lucid paragraphs about today's crossword. Just three. Include stylistic editing to separate the puzzle answers from your own commentary, images to pep it up, and references to both the process of construction and the solver's experience. Publish online. Then tomorrow, repeat. And Tuesday, repeat. Continue daily. For years. Want a day off? Find a substitute.

Yeah, there's a Rex Parker era. And we're living in it.

Liked the puzzle, got the theme early, found SAUK-ATESTS as bad as Rex did.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there!

Bob Oppenheimer 7:23 AM  

For me, ATESTS was a gimme. Didn't even have to think about it.

BarbieBarbie 7:38 AM  

@'mericans, the slash is and/or, while the comma is and. Perfect for brief, informal writing.
@Mr. B, thanks! And if you were mom, you would have heard of ipecac. A gimme for the mons, to add to the MAs.
Interesting comment on the out-of-date lit list. As in all areas, the people setting the standards tend to be long in the tooth and not active contributors to their fields (those people don't have the time). @LMS, do you teach English language literature or do you teach reading?

Embarrassed to say that I didn't grok the theme at all, and finally just agreed with myself that some of the clues made no sense and the words just had to be inferred from crosses. Even though my first entry for [middle] AMERICA was Midwest! I kept thinking it couldn't be just straight-up America. Wanted at least Amurrca, the country we hear about on pickup truuuuhck ads. So I am very grateful for The Rex Era. Also I feel stupid.

Mimosa time!

chefbea 7:46 AM  

Too tough for me!!! Happy mother's day to all mothers!!

Maruchka 8:03 AM  

Let's get to the important stuff first -

@LMS - Brava! When in HS back in the day, shop was an obvious and honorable option (strictly for guys, then, though my town was Rosie the Riveter central during WWII). My stepfather took this track, became a master welder AND a voracious reader, especially loved poetry.

Hooray for the American working class!

Well, onto the puzz. I liked it when done, not so much in doing. Vague cluing can be fun but must have some zip. No AHAs, not much resonance. Nicely constructed.

Fav of the day - VAGARY. Not a word one sees often, maybe in a 19th c. lit. class.

Trisha/TRICIA, feeders/FEEDING (doh).

Sheik Yerbouti 8:13 AM  

Why couldn't SAUK have just been SHOE with HTEST, BOSS, SPARE??

r.alphbunker 8:14 AM  

I think that the use of +s to mark locations in the puzzle is quite elegant but they did not help me grok the theme during the solve. I got it at the end when I had to justify entering 24A {Dexterous one} HANDER. All the other circled answers were words by themselves.

Details are here

Glimmerglass 8:19 AM  

I liked the theme, mostly because I didn't catch until 2/3 through the puzzle. BEHIND is sort of the same as [LEFT] BEHIND. Any TACKLE prorects a quarterback. I just slogged along themelessly., until [BOTTOM] DWELLER and FEEDING. When the light came on, I thought it was clever, and it helped me with [BOTTOM] BRACKET (yes, Rex, that's a real classification), and that made me change kiSS to BUSS. SAUK was my last entry (with a shrug). Never heard of the tribe (or the Sac), but A-TESTs were the ones I associate with the mushroom cloud.

QuasiMojo 8:24 AM  

"What's Aleppo?"

Moving right along... That SW corner. Knowing very little about sports team rankings, I had K-RACKET instead of BRACKET. KISS seemed logical for smooch. No idea what DEETS are. Isn't that a bug spray of some sort? SO I had a big fat DNF today. I don't mind. But I wish it had all made a bit more sense. ASHINE is asinine. And SAUK? For Fox neighbor, I was thinking CNBC or something of that sort. On a TV directory. And am I the only one here who was taught DO RE MI SO??? Not SOL? I was certain that was going to be TRA LA. The other day I watched a movie on TCM. No, ETHEL wasn't in it. Although I wish she had. But the kids were singing "DO, RE, MI, SO, LA..." I never heard SOL except in England.

I also have dubbed a new cut of meat. The Sir LOON. (I had SHOPPER instead of Shipper.) It tastes just like EMU.

@LMS, very interesting postings today. Many people are more visual than verbal. I think our education system has always been skewed far too much toward the verbal. And I'm a former literature major.

nyestreet 8:36 AM  

Bottom bracket is a garage door part. They come in left and right

mmorgan 8:49 AM  

Finished the puzzle (except for one particular Natick that really SAUKed), but it took me another 5-10 minutes to figure out the top/middle/left/whatever theme. So for me,, the theme wasn't at all helpful but I could sense I was missing something while solving.

AW 9:02 AM  

Never got the theme, but then I rarely do so I was flummoxed by the seemingly incomplete answers. Since when does "Abandoned" mean BEHIND, I harrumphed indignantly to myself, or "Drops out" mean SCHOOL? Thank goodness for this blog or I'd be harrumphing indignantly all day.

BUT, since when does "Dexterous one" mean (right) HANDER? A dexterous person can be left- or right-handed. Phooey.

Doctorblue 9:14 AM  

I had Ntests rather than Atests so could never get to Sauk, but never heard of it anyway. And I took a course on Native Americans !! Go figure.

Had Epicac instead of Ipecac. So embarrassing.

Kim Scudera 9:16 AM  

DEETS = shorthand way of saying "details"

Kim Scudera 9:20 AM  

And the clue for 24A, had it been "Dextrous" (of the right side) rather than "Dexterous" (agile, skillful) would have fit the answer better.

Kim Scudera 9:21 AM  

And @LMS, I admire you immensely, although you weren't fishing. Three and out!

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

I lived in California when Schwarzenegger first ran for Governor. He was promoting bringing back vocational classes in public school. Teach a kid plumbing, or farming. Realize we need all sorts of skills. But that died quickly.

I grew up in Wyoming, and most of the kids were in "vocational agriculture" classes. They learned welding, farming, raising cattle ... That's what they wanted and needed. You could also take auto mechanic classes and beautician classes.

Tax-paid public education needs to recognize the whole range of needs.

I'm with you, LMS.

John McKnight 9:26 AM  

i liked it. i was all the way through to the southwest corner where, oddly enough, bottom BRACKET made me revisit the parts i'd already completed whereupon i understood. NTESTS v. ATESTS with SNUK v. SAUK was an unresolvable problem for me. but anyway i enjoyed the puzzle and am thankful all of you are here to validate my experience.

Tita A 9:29 AM  

@AW...Dexterous, dexterity, etc. all come from Latin for "on the right".
Same as "Adroit".
As opposed to Sinister, which is from the Latin "on the left".

Shows the evolution of language - their are many words that started with what we now consider to be a very sinister meaning, or at least, a very different meaning.
Kind of like "hang up the phone" - not accurate at all in my time (and I'm old) - will it survive post-smartphone era, harkening back as it does to the days when the mouthpiece was, in fact, hung up at the end of the conversation?

Lewis 9:32 AM  

@kim -- I thought that was so cool, that "dextrous" means "of the right side", and I went to look it up and find it defined as that somewhere and couldn't find anything that said that. Can you pass on a link or tell me where to look to find this meaning? Thanks!

SouthsideJohnny 9:34 AM  

Noobie help - Why are some clues in brackets (see 75 Down ) ?

jberg 9:39 AM  

Today's comments reveal a basic division in the world -- those from Wisconsin, who said "oh, SAUK, of course," and everyone else. I don't live there anymore, but it's a great state!

@Loren, you're illustrating a basic principle of learning to read, obvious to everyone except those who have somehow got control of curriculum design, viz., read what interests you. It worked for me.

@Quasi -- I got DEETS from the crosses, and groaned at the belief it was going to be a POC -- the worst ever -- of the insectide ingredient; so I was really happy to read the clue and see it was something else.

Rap before SKA, and I had the hardest time remembering David KORESH's surname (tried KOREtz first), otherwise pretty easy once I had the theme. As Loren said, impressive symmetry.

Tita A 9:43 AM  

@Barbie...great, succinct defense of "/".

Kinda liked the puzzle, though it was too much of an OK thing. The theme did help me with the solve.

Liked clue for GASMAIN.

Learned that "deadman's hand" is a card=playing term. In Portugal, there is a shellfish called Deadman's fingers, so I couldn't see beyond that.
Yes, I've tried them, because I will try almost anything, foodwise, once. But let's just say I won't be ordering them again. They've gone to the same bin as diced pig's ear.

@lms...I agree about the value of a broader range of education, as also illustrated by @anon @9:23. Mix that up with a hefty dose of critical thinking skills, and we've got some hope for the future.

GHarris 9:43 AM  

Any puzzle I finish is a good puzzle. Got the theme halfway through and that confirmed the correctness of answers I otherwise found questionable. For me Sauk was a nobrainer even though I'm an old Bronx boy I had a deep interest in Indian lore.Did have to change kiss to buss and loved the clue for fence.

CFXK 9:44 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny. Clues in brackets are generally verbal expressions that are asking for its non-verbal equivalence. So when says "that's painful," its non-verbal expression could be GRIMACE.

BarbieBarbie 9:47 AM  

It's just as wrong to profile students into fence-fixing classes or Eurocentric Studies classes as it is to insist that everyone needs to read Lord of the Flies before graduating from highschool. But it isn't wrong to expect that highschool graduates have BOTH the capacity and skills for critical thinking AND familiarity with common toolbox tools and diesel engines. Taking exposure to college prep material out of the common curriculum for some groups of students would deprive us of our Sonia Sotomayors. But we need to expand (not segregate) the idea of what the common curriculum should be. Americans are smart, curious, and know how to do stuff. It's our competitive advantage. Spending tax money to make sure of that is spending on a common good.
Just one more dollar spent on me and I might have figured out today's theme! Sigh.

Tita A 9:54 AM  


Google OED DEXTEROUS, look at the section on etymology or origin

Also, interesting articles here
This page focuses on heraldry - note that on our Great Seal, the eagle holds the olive branch in its Dexter talon, and the arrows in its Sinister one.

BTW - LEFT also comes from Old English lyft (not MIDDLE ENGLISH), meaning weak, foolish. (I guess there were no linguists at Lyft when they looked around for names...)

Left-handers are right to be indignant.

'mericans in Paris 10:07 AM  

@BarbieBarbie and @Tita A: Sorry, but you haven't convinced me. Informal doesn't mean ambiguous. I read @Rex's comment as "and", which in that situation can be substituted by a comma (which is only one keystroke). But you didn't, and therein lies the problem. Because the virgule has become a universal punctuation mark, for readers it can mean anything and therefore nothing. Strunk & White has a good, pithy discussion of "and/or". in case of interest. THIRD post today, so over and out.

JR 10:15 AM  

I liked it alot, although I was half way through before I got the theme. America and manager turned the light on that some word had to go in front of the darkened boxes for the answers to make sense. Rex is a bit too critical, not sure what he expects. This had to be pretty hard to put together.

heidi seitz 10:16 AM  

FYI it's not the syringe that gives a prick sensation, it's the needle.

Rob 10:17 AM  

SAUK/BUSS killed me, as it did lots of other people. Even with Rex's writeup for it as word of the day, while I can accept that it's a tribe I don't know about, I have no idea what makes it a "Fox neighbor." Is it the river someone mentioned upthread? BUSS I had to look up; in general, if the dictionary only lists it as "archaic," maybe find a better word to put there. I got ELEA/EDINA, but that first E was a total guess.

As a ska dork, I dug the shout-out to Prince Buster. RIP. If you're going to use SKA, which I concede is crosswordese, at least the author referenced a legend.

I understood the theme... once I had filled everything in. Until then I was just filling in the only words that fit. Pretty clever nonetheless.

Two Ponies 10:19 AM  

When I saw the title for this puzzle then ran across Dote On, Sleep On, Type In, and Phone In I thought I was onto something but no.

Puzzle rated too high on the Crap-O-Meter.

I guess I'll just go back to the benthic zone to sauk.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

In a double elimination tournament, losing teams are moved to the BOTTOM BRACKET. They can still battle their way back to the top, but it is unlikely that they will win the tourney.

Teedmn 10:24 AM  

Baffled - that was me for most of this puzzle. I was not on my game at all. What's a six letter word B______O that's a relative of a brasserie? A four letter SHIPPER? A Knightstick that isn't a sword? All things I couldn't come up with for far too long. Or the theme, which could have helped me solve this if it would have dawned on me what it was. The title did nothing for me.

I liked the clue "It lacks locks" for BALDSPOT. I see ISLE dumped its SILENT A to become part of a chain at 78D. The well-to-do Minneapolis suburb of EDINA made the puzzle once again. But ALI BABA was a woodcutter? SMURFs were looking for the "lost village"? The SAUK are neighbors with the Fox? That one shouldn't have been the WOE it was - Sinclair Lewis was born in SAUK Centre, MN. I am not PRIDING myself on my solving this one.

But I enjoyed myself, so thanks, Mr. Nediger.

And if anyone wants to see my unforced ERRORS, my solve is here. I used @r.alphbunker's solving program in the randomization mode, as I usually do on Sundays. It eliminates the sloggishness of Sunday puzzles.

David Stone 10:26 AM  

Wow, Rex. You really have a bizarre fount of knowledge. That you don't know about a bottom BRACKET is astounding given that (a) you are a man living in the US and (b) you enjoy watching sports like basketball (unless I'm confusing you with another Rex Parker). I do NOT enjoy watching sports, but I used to, and even then it was only baseball. And yet like most of the people solving this puzzle, I knew about bottom brackets. Sheesh.

More depressing is the thought that you zip so quickly thru these puzzles that you don't take time to enjoy them. You missed the theme while solving the puzzle? Well, that's on you. Most of us do not solve these (a) in under 12 minutes or (b) without thinking about the theme.

I understand that you are an expert crossword solver, but many of us have expertise in one area or another but still manage to enjoy savoring those things. Take time to smell a few roses, man.

As for SAUK: Yup, that was awful, more so by how avoidable it was (as Sheik Yerbouti said...
Why couldn't SAUK have just been SHOE with HTEST, BOSS, SPARE??). But that was the one low-light in a puzzle full of funny and/or clever cluing and some impressive crosses. It was also the best NYT Sunday puzzle in over a month.

As for difficulty, for anyone unlike Rex who solves at a medium pace, it was EASY since the 18 (18!) theme answers practically gave themselves up after a person had solved two or three of them.

Mohair Sam 10:30 AM  

Got the theme early (thank you middle CLASS) and filled almost all the themers in a jiff. With a theme this dense that pretty much completed things, played very Sunday easy.

Only holdups were the infamous SAUK "A" - as @Rex implied, the "A" just felt better - and spelling TRICIA as "sha" at first. ERIS had to fill, we wanted Ares.

@Loren - Well said, thanks for the insight. Those of us on the outside generally feel teacher's pain in the matter, but can't get down in the weeds. Your story offers rare clarity.
Mike Rowe (he of "Dirty Jobs" fame) has been popping up where he can on radio and TV making your case. Not enough are listening.

And a Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there. Especially you Lady M.

Politics: As a commercial lender I did a loan with four guys from TANZANIA for a "pack and ship" shop about 15 years ago. Talk to them about love for the USA, our freedoms, and our economic system - wow! Hard workers all, they succeeded wildly and have expanded and long since paid back the loan. One was a US Citizen, three were on Green Cards. Since then two of the three have become citizens, the third will be soon. I use these guys to remind my friends on the extreme left that there is such a thing as "American Exceptionalism" and it is in the system - please don't tinker with it too much. I also use these guys to remind my friends on the extreme right that there is such a thing as "American Exceptionalism" and that it is NOT born into you, it is available to anyone living under the American system - regardless.

David Stone 10:30 AM  

As Sheik Yerbouti said...
Why couldn't SAUK have just been SHOE with HTEST, BOSS, SPARE??

I just realized that this points out Will's shortzcomings as an editor.

Am I the first to come up with that? I'm guessing no, but I'm still proud of it :)

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

Doesn't happen often, but I entirely agree with pretty much all that @Rex has to say today (except bracket, ok with that, even though I didn't get the theme until I came here. I felt that the shaded fill was odd, filled them pretty much by crosses, then stared at it for a while before finally coming here to get the theme. This was just a bridge too far.

OK, I enjoyed doing it, but was entirely robbed of that smileband satisfaction that I get when I finally grok the theme.

There shoulda been some much better hint than "places, everyone." Shame on you, Shortz; you robbed me of a big piece of the fun today!

Me too on sAuk, no chance! Never should have been left in! Eff you, Shortz!

There, now I feel better ....

QuasiMojo 10:36 AM  

I didn't get the dexterous clue until I read these comments. That's why I like this blog! It recalls my summers biking in Italy when I was taught the difference between directions: "a destre" and "a sinistre".

Blue Stater 10:54 AM  

Yup; "editing is a skill." Nothing more need be said about this atrocity.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Don't feed...

Dragoncat 11:12 AM  

I liked this one. Took me forever to get the theme but when I did I had a great "eureka" moment. Rex needs to lighten up: Sauk is cool when you realize it's a tribe. "Atests" also obvious. BUT I quibble with GED as "HS level exam" since it is a college level exam not high school. However I still like this one.
I've almost stopped reading Rex's complaints and just go to the website to check my answers. Enjoy these comments more.

old timer 11:19 AM  

OFL solves online, and I kind of suspect his program omitted the shaded squares, which are in the Magazine. I got the theme with (right) HANDER and confirmed it with (Middle) AMERICA, and boy was knowing the trick helpful as I slogged through the rest of the puzzle. There were plenty of potential Naticks, and I was so happy with SAUK that I forgot to put in PUPATE and SPARK instead of what I originally had, which was "mutate" -- which IPECAC had already made impossible.

I think every high school student should know about the SAUKs and Foxes, and in fact the reason I do know it is there was a map in one of my HS textbooks that included these tribes.

Not to say that I expect every HS student to know that, too. But it should be there for him or her. @LMS, this is the best time in decades for voc ed kids to prosper. There is a desperate shortage of skilled labor. Everyone with even a little training can find a job, and wages are going up in factories and the construction trades. At least true where I live, but the news articles I've read say it is more or less true everywhere, though wages don't need to rise in the parts of Middle AMERICA where housing is still cheap -- in fact, a lot of skilled workers are moving there from the Coasts because they can afford a house in Michigan or Ohio or Kansas, and cannot afford California rents or mortgages.

BTW, my girls went to the best of all possible public schools, one where they still had shop class and ag classes, where there was a magnet program for the arts, *and* where a select coterie of kids from wealthy families managed to fill the AP classes, and produced as many National Merit scholars as the more ritzy school across town.

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:26 AM  

Good theme, decent fill words by themselves but oh my gods some of those clues/answers were horrible. I wholeheartedly agree about the BOTTOM BRACKET thing. I'm an avid sports watcher and I've never ever heard that phrase before. I actually had a few more complaints in my mind but I've forgotten them and I'm too lazy to go through the puzzle again, so yeah.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

This was a fine puzzle. One quibble :The only place I've ever heard a $5 bill referred to as abe is crossword puzzles. The Prime Minister of Japan is Shinzo Abe. Seems like a better clue.

KevCo 11:38 AM  

So validated by a whole section devoted to "SAUK." I tore through this puzzle almost without stopping, and got everything except "S__K" crossing "_TESTS" and "B_SS." Had absolutely no idea what to do . . . and ended up not finishing after filling in all but two boxes in near-record time for me.

Carola 11:52 AM  

Easy here (except for SnUK!), and enjoyable. I got the theme idea after I had to erase Midwest and replace it with AMERICA, liked anticipating what the rest of the left, right, and middles would be.

For me the DNF at SAUK was a DNF of Shame - I live just south of Sauk County and west of the Fox River.

Brian 11:58 AM  

@Rob The Fox are another tribe who (at least at one point) lived near the Sauk, hence the place names being near each other.

GILL I. 12:04 PM  

Took me ages to grok the theme. Finally got it at Middle CLASS. Too bad Will didn't clue it as booboisie.
I actually enjoyed this. Thought it very clever and different. Why can't I remember that ALI BABA was a woodcutter and not a thief. I want Paul Bunyon. Speaking of SCHOOL, I loved getting into One Thousand and One Nights. Loved the movie remakes as well. Now I understand that word is a bit of a slur used against anyone in the Arabian world who is thought to be a thief. I thought they just cut your hand off.
When I came to the States, the electives I was offered were sewing, cooking, typing, drama and chorus. I had fun in all of them but the only one that did me any good was typing. Well, at least I learned about Shakespeare in Drama and I learned all about Betty Crocker in my cooking class The first thing I sewed was an apron for my mother. Speaking of.....Even if you're not a mamacita, you had one. So, for all the MOMS of the world, enjoy your day.
My daughter just yelled at me to come and get my Bloody Mary.
@chefwen...Hah. Are you planning on eating Sir Loin?

Davin Kuntze 12:18 PM  

I mostly enjoyed this one aside from the SAUK / BUSS that seemed the trip up so many. Definitely a few grinning "aha" moments. But two things bugged me on in this puzzle that no one has brought up. First is the DOTEON right next to SLEEPON. Too close for confort. Second, and this may just be me, but BOTTOM DWELLER and BOTTOM FEEDING both seem dangerously close in meaning, especially as theme entries (ie. no one refers to anything as bottom feeding except fish and lawyers) and to add to that I've never heard or used the term BOTTOM FEEDING. Bottom feeder, sure, but feeding? I was able to infer it but groaned when I did.

Joseph Michael 12:22 PM  

Fun theme. Took a while to figure out how SCHOOL could be the answer for "dropped out." Then came across the BANANA that ASHINED the light on what was going on.

Too many ITS (knew IT, does IT, IT couple) and, well, PRIDING just ain't {right}. But aside from that and a few other annoyances such as the avoidable SAUK, thought that this was a solid puzzle with an original theme. So good on that.

The I'M GAY in the middle of all this led me to notice a number of amusing double entendres in the grid, but in honor of Mother's Day, I shall refrain from pointing them out.

Andrew Goodridge 12:26 PM  

How is "planer" an example of bad fill? It's an incredibly common and well known piece of equipment.

Masked and Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Holy moly Mother! 18 themers in a wider-open-than-snot SunPuz-sized grid. Adventuresome.
Kinda knew SAUK (not exactly sure how, tho). And BRACKET gave away the BUSS/KISS trick, for m&e.

But all that stuff has been covered several times already by many a sharp Comment Gallery dude and/or darlin. What can M&A possibly add to the conversation, that hasn't already been said … ?

…?… [careful, analytical, razor-thin thought]

Ahar! I got it…

1. Really liked ETHELS.

2. "Guardians of the Galaxy version 2" was a hoot, Groot. thUmbsUp.

3. staff weeject pick: CDV. Roman chariot engine size.

4. @muse: yep. I really feel sorry for most school kids, nowadays. Too many cooks spoilin the soup -- and that's just the school lunch program. Education of young minds is maybe a higher religion that governments probably oughta mess with as little as possible. Little M&A did have a wide knowledge of American Lit, however: owed it all to Uncle Scrooge comic books.
U hang in there, darlin. U and other good teachers may be all that stands between knowledge with independent thinkin, and that there pre-cooked alternative knowledge.

Missin U, Momma.

Thanx, Mr. Nediger. Can see now why U had been gone for quite a spell -- U musta spent all yer spare time gettin this here SunPuz to work.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


Anonymous 12:58 PM  

Cute; I guess.

Stanley Hudson 1:23 PM  

Enjoyed this one a great deal, except for the awful ASHINE.

"Are we not all born of mothers?" Attakullakulla, 18th century Cherokee (not SAUK or 🦊)

Jim Hendler 1:32 PM  

Seemed a bit straightforward for something aiming at such a clever gimmick... not too hard once I realized the wood cutter wasn't Gepetto

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

@LMS I teach at a community college ? I feel ya. I long for a technical math class that has useful info.

robber 2:02 PM  

I do not post often and usually only when it's positive.
Cluing was horrid. Theme was horrid. It was horrid overall.
This may have been the dumbest NYT xword ever.
Rant over.

Masked and Anonymous 2:07 PM  

… 5. Can't help wonderin, if anyone else had a slightly different first take, on the top row of gray squares, a la M&A:

No? Yes? … Is this a gray area?



brainman53 2:55 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
brainman53 3:09 PM  

In Latin right-handed is dextral and left-handed is sinistral.

Roo Monster 3:12 PM  

Hey All !
Haven't read y'all yet, so apologies if repeats.

I thought this puz was nifty! Was having a heckuva time trying to parse the theme, gpt stuck in a few spots, then a genuine Aha! moment when the ole brain clicked and got it at BANANAS. I didn't want that as the answer, cause I kept asking myself, How are BANANAS pooh-bahs? But then the Top occurred to me, and a big smile. Went back to my other mystery, SCHOOL, and saw LEFT SCHOOL. Cool! Wrote in all the LEFTs, RIGHTs, TOPs, BOTTOMS around grid. And then figured the MIDDLE, which made it even better.

So, WN, a great puz! Different, tres cool, hatd to construct, I'm sure. I'll go back and see if anybody thought this was a SunPuz slog, as you can see, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

My SW mess gave me a DNF. Rex's KISS, as never heard of BUSS, but did change K to B for BRACKET. Also had nTESTS, giving me SniK. And more troubles there, SPatat for SPITES, tEETh for DEETS, aPECoC for IPECAC, oLah for ALLS, and the ridiculous aThEaS for ETHELS. So major crash and burn there. Oh well, still enjoyed puz very much!


Fountains of Golden Fluids 3:21 PM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

Joe Dipinto 3:39 PM  

Um, about the crosses "meaning nothing...":

Top left -- Top Middle -- Top right

Middle left -- Middle -- Middle right

Bottom left -- Bottom middle -- Bottom right

pamjohn 4:22 PM  

How can anyone finish a puzzle in 12 minutes? I can't even type that fast and I won the 8th grade typing award in 1976.

Malsdemare 4:22 PM  

I caught the theme late, but that helped me figure out a few answers (MINDED, HANDED), and of course I always feel brilliant if I catch the theme before reading Rex. I liked lots of stuff about this puzzle, enough to make me forgive ASHINE. And it took me a long time, another feature that places the puzzle squarely in my happy place.

@ all I shall comment on the education standards only as far as to say, "Hear, hear, LMS." Between the ill-conceived standards (one size does not fit all) and the continued sexism, racism, and bullying, which I won't go into, our schools need a redo. I'm reasonably confident the current administration won't do that. Maybe no one can.

Filled in "corset" before BISTRO because I read brasserie as brassiere. Took it out when I realized it would never work, but it wasn't until I went back and reread the clue that I entered BISTRO and filled in the rest of the corner.

I'm another one who was fixated on Fox TV. It wasn't until I randomly inserted the A in ATEST (pretty much a wild-ass guess) and studied the result that I did the head slap. But me? Who did research on Native Americans? Who taught on the Navajo reservation? Who lives in Illinois, went to school in Wisconsin? Did I think "tribes"? Oh, no, I thought to myself, "Self, are the Sauk and Fox rivers next to one another?" More evidence of brainectomy.

@Tita. In an episode of West Wing, President Bartlett tells some people in the Oval Office to look at the rug on the floor. It depicts the Great Seal as you described it. But here's the kicker. In peacetime, the rug features the eagle facing the olive branch. In war, that rug is replaced with one of the eagle facing the arrows. Just thinking about it gives me the shivers.

Anonymous 4:28 PM  

You mean classes in comic books don't properly prepare our kids to get well paying jobs?

RnRGhost 4:33 PM  

@Anonymous 4:28 PM, no need for snark good brother, especially on Mothers Day.

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

I'm not your brother asshole.

Suzanne Hurel 4:40 PM  

Are there any other free sites that provide the completed puzzles? I'm sick of this whiner, Rex, who hates every f'ing puzzle lately and will not admit when he's just stupid. This was a good Sunday puzzle. Go suck lemons Rex.

Nancy 4:47 PM  

It wasn't just SAUK that was the WOE. It was that whole section. Didn't know if it was A-TESTS, H-TESTS, or N-TESTS (82A). Had MUTATE at 93D. Had, at first, nothing at 92A, and then patted myself on the back for "getting" StARt. I had already changed kiSS to BUSS, but a lot of good that did me. I also had no idea what the 2nd letter in I-ECAC was. A complete DNF in the BOTTOM/LEFT. Or LEFT/BOTTOM. Whichever. But I liked the gimmick a lot. There was a real Aha Moment for me, which occurred as I was filling in the top third, and it made the rest of the puzzle much, much easier. Which is exactly what a good gimmick should do. One of the better Sundays, I'd say.

JC66 4:48 PM

evil doug 5:03 PM  

Smack! Down!
And “You’re doing great! They’re lucky to have you!” Which is true.
Happy Mother's Day,

chefwen 5:42 PM  

@GILL I - they will be slaughtered when the time is right, but I don't think I will be able to eat something that we've named and raised as pets, we will most likely just sell the meat. It'll probably be excellent meat after all the good stuff we've been feeding them. Carrots, mangoes, papayas, rutabagas, etc.

Anonymous 5:45 PM  

@Dragoncat - you may be confusing the GED (high school equivalence exam, taken by those who don't finish high school the usual way) with the GRE (Graduate record exam, taken by college seniors).

@Malsdemare - Glad I wasn't the only one trying to figure out "relative of a brassiere"!

Anonymous 7:16 PM  

He's also a mainstay in the philosophy, woman's studies, sociology, political science departments. Theology wanted a course, but after you say you're a god, well there's no place left to go, except to his altar.
All hail the asshole.

Anonymous 7:39 PM  

Yeah, that great sports fan, Mike Sharp, has the stones to talk about Saulk and not mention the greatest athlete in American history?
Guess they didn't make a vlasssic comic about Jim Thorpe. Anyone care to guess what helse described as his tribe.
Mike Here's a pro tip: Don't be so smug if you're going to be so silly.

michael 8:22 PM  

Both my profession (anthropologist) and geographical location (Iowa) made Sauk easy for me. But I can sure see how it would be hard for others, especially with the unclearness of the clue and the cross. Of course, lots of things that are easy for others (for example zztop yesterday) are hard for me (even though I have heard of the group). I guess I think Sauk would be ok on Friday or Saturday, but it's too obscure for a Sunda.

Aketi 8:54 PM  

@LMS, my sister would love your thoughtful post about education in your part of the USA. She has issues that are both similar and yet different with the kids she teaches in the Inland Empire. I don't ever copy stuff from the blog. I treat it like fight club. What happens in fight club stays in fight club. In this case, however, would you mind if I shared your post with her? She's spending her Mother's Day grading papers.

@M&A kinda glad u liked Guardians of the Galaxy 2. My pre-Mothers Day gift was going to see it with my son last week who still likes going to Marvel movies with mom. Enjoyed ur additional take on the LEFT MIDDLE, MIDDLE CENTRAL, and RIGHT MIDDLE.

Lewis 9:46 PM  

@tita -- Thank you! Very helpful! Sorry to reply so late -- busy day...

Leapfinger 11:45 PM  

@Sheik Yerbouti(8:13), interesting alternative you suggest, but I think the SAUK is meant to come before the SHOE.

Tarheeled 12:11 AM  

I danced through this one in about an hour. I'm a little shaky and can't write very fast - and still be legible. Only reason for my dnf was that I had Oltec instead of Olmec and I never heard of Aubrey Oday.

kitshef 8:34 AM  

Avoided back-to-back DNFs (today and tomorrow) only due to a guess on SAUK.

Agree BOTTOM BRACKET is not a thing. Indeed, the BOTTOM themers in general seem much less genuine than any of the others.

Love the clue for HANDER. Before I twigged, thought I was heading for a DNF in the NW, with ANDREI/PLANER/PHDS/HANDER all flummoxing me.

Tim Pierce 12:29 PM  

The SAUK/ATESTS and EDINA/ELEA crossings were both Naticks for me. I liked the puzzle and the theme otherwise, but come on.

Mark 8:24 PM  

I hated the puzzle. I didn't get the theme and it just seemed like a lot of poorly written clues to me If they are going to do such a theme, the answers in the themed entries should be obviously not clued by the actual clue and only clued properly when top, middle or whatever is added. This wasn't the case here

spacecraft 12:03 PM  

Aha, finally gotcha! ASHINE is *NOT*, repeat *NOT* a word! You can't just blithely stick an A in front of any noun you please to turn it into an adjective. YOU CANNOT! FAR too much of this crap goes on anyway, but legitimized (somehow!?) by actual dictionary entries. BUT NOT THIS TIME!! OUT!!! Out, I say! This shot is clearly out of bounds, and the penalty will be fully enforced, thanks to that SILENTA down below. [Rant on the latter omitted; only one rant per post]

Kind of a tough start, but once I got the gist it wasn't too bad. As mentioned, the theme density resulted in some wild swings fillwise, but a whole grid full of these "placements" is impressive. Dotted with more single black squares than I've ever seen, the grid presents a ton of short answers, bringing on a sloggy feeling. The solve was...OK; would've made par without those two clunkers. I do not watch any "reality" TV, so ODAY was filled on crosses, but after the solve I Googled her just to double-check--and immediately installed her as DOD. Who could blame me? Despite that final shot of adrenaline and other hormones, I can only go bogey. Keep those drives in bounds.

rondo 12:34 PM  

Sometimes it pays to live in MN, especially if you live in posh EDINA and have a cabin on SAUK Lake between SAUK Center and Little SAUK. You might even cross the SAUK River near SAUK Rapids on your way there. By the scenic route. I don't have those luxuries, but I've been to those places.

My last entry was at SMURF [GRIMACE], held off for the lonest time even with the __URF showing. "Film" eh? Maybe animated movie?

Sorry, but a GASMAIN does not lead to the pilot. The GASMAIN is out under the street or boulevard from where a GAS service line runs to your meter, after which a GAS pipe runs to a pilot or two. NOT a good clue.

Aubrey ODAY lends whole new meanings to Dumblonde and yeah baby.

It took METIME to finish with no ERRORS, but I'm still wonderin' if I'm LICHEN it.

fakt chekker 1:22 PM  


Burma Shave 1:49 PM  


IKNEWIT! ITIS any time O'DAY she DOESIT, 'cause of LICHEN kicks,
she gave METIME and MADEWAY, she's my TYPEIN that it CLICKS,
when she DENIES she's closed MINDED
yet CLASPS me with a GRIMACE to say, "OK_CORRAL me some PRICKS."


this ENGLISH SCHOOL VAGARY brought to you by IPECAC

rain forest 2:25 PM  

The GAS MAIN's connected to the service line, the service line's connected to the gas meter, the gas meter's connected to the gas pipe, the gas pipe's connected to the pilot. Now hear the work of the Lord. Sung with heart.

This took a little time, medium-ish, and got the theme at BANANAS. Lotsa theme, and the placement of the crossing themers is self-desriptive, to boot. I was ASHINE with the feeling of victory, aside from writing-over kiSS, and mulling the H/N/A possibilities. BALD head before BALD SPOT.

Those VAGARies aside, I didn't find this a slog or rant-inducing. Enjoyed the solve.

Diana,LIW 3:22 PM  

Arrgghhhh! Totally missed the theme. As you can imagine, and I know you can, that made a lot of the answers seem - weird. A colossal head scratcher maker. Like answering "what's in water?" with "water." AMERICA is the US Heartland? (And I actually was thinking of the Midwest.) (duh) Bring on the IPECAC.

Puzzle - 1, Lady Di - 0

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the light to come on

AnonymousPVX 5:27 PM  

Got to say, I was all set to rant on SAUK with the -TESTS cross, and I see that's been there, done that. So I won't pile on.
I don't like gimmick puzzles but other than the nuclear-natick issue, the puzzle was fine, the gimmick was easy to figure out and at least made sense.

leftcoastTAM 7:36 PM  

Didn't grasp the theme (hi, Lady Di), but filled in about 95% of it anyway. Top middle and bottom left were the main problem places.

wcutler 1:00 PM  

@David Stone 10:26 AM, it took me all week to do this puzzle. I was not racing through it. I like puzzle gimmicks. I looked for the gimmick all week. I never got it until I came here to read about it (so thanks again, Rex, for providing this blog). Now that I know the gimmick, I love it, wished I'd recognized it, even wished I could have used it to solve the puzzle.

I got everything except the T in BRACKET/DEET). It seems I heard of SAUK, was pretty sure that was the answer I wanted to put there. I agree with the comments about ASHINE, and so early into the puzzle. I don't understand the NEEDLE under the Christmas Tree.

dude ward 9:08 AM  

Can't believe no one mentioned the truly egregious "onel".

manitoba 12:36 PM  

Fucking stupid theme

Yvonne Bruce 12:37 PM  

Wow: wonderful blog! I was googling my frustrations with this June 4 puzzle frantically and happened across "Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle." Thanks for the extended commentary on "Places, Everyone!" A very disappointing puzzle. I got it filled in all right (finally: the paper was starting to yellow and curl), no thanks to the theme, which I could not figure out until I reached your site. I had filled in "school stories," "class manager," and "child behind" pretty quickly, leading me to figure the theme had to do with school. Then I figured "child behind" must signal "no child left behind," but I couldn't get the "no" or the "left." Awkward puzzle, poorly edited. Eugene Maleska never would've let this one through . . .

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