Scannable black white boxes / THU 7-8-17 / Letter before Peter in Joint Army Navy Phonetic alphabet / Grease actress whose first name consists of same two letters twice

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: MINCE / WORDS (26A: With 45-Across, not be direct ... or what four groups of black squares in this puzzle do?) — the four black-square crosses "mince" (in the sense of divide into parts) the answers that run through them:

Theme answers:
  • DIETITIAN (3D: Certain nutritionist) / TITIAN (30D: Red hair tint)
  • ADORATION (8D: Extreme fandom) / RATION (32D: Allowance)
  • WARRANTED (21A: Called for) / RANTED (22A: Sounded off)
  • COPACETIC (48A: Just fine) / ACETIC (49A: ___ acid)
Word of the Day: Jim EDMONDS (61A: Eight-time Gold Glove winner Jim) —
James Patrick "Jim" Edmonds (born June 27, 1970) is an American former center fielder in Major League Baseball and a current broadcaster for Fox Sports Midwest. He played for the California/Anaheim Angels, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, and Cincinnati Reds. Known for his defensive abilities – particularly his catches – Edmonds also was a prolific hitter, batting .284 with 393 home runs and an on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) of .903. He is affectionately known by Cardinal fans as "Jimmy Baseball"  and "Jimmy Ballgame". (wikipedia)
• • •

Stupid penguins. Stupid crosswordese penguin species, ugh (14A: Penguin species). I had the "A" and thought "Oh, I've seen this a bunch in crosswords ... uh ... AMELIE!" Pfffffff, that's a whimsical French movie. That teeny error was very important, and it happened in the *one* letter in that answer that is involved in the theme, and so I could think of *no* word starting AMO- that fit 8D: Extreme fandom, and so I got St-uck (more than most of you all, probably). SEINES (63A: Nets with weights) is the bottom-of-the-grid Long Crosswordese counterpart to ADELIE. They are both ATAD tired. The theme was OK, I guess. In the end, it's just words broken into pieces, which I've seen plenty. Nice little twist here is that both the answers that every grid-spanning themer has inside it a shorter themer (one that crosses only one of the black-square crosses). OK. But I still can't say I enjoyed this much. I recognize that the grid has some nice features, but solving this wasn't that pleasurable, for a host of reasons. Mainly the cluing.

EDMONDS is gonna be hard enough for most people; you'd think the clue would at least give *some* indication of years he played, position he played, team he played for ... something besides the dreadfully dull award clue 61A: Eight-time Gold Glove winner Jim. The cutesy "stood up" / "sit down" clue for ROSA Parks felt tonally off. [Embarrassing spots?] is not a "?"-worthy clue. I don't even know the wordplay that's supposed to be involved there. "Spots" as in "positions"? Is that the base phrase? The clue works fine without the "?" (though it might come across as A TAD shaming / judgmental). George Eliot wrote poetry? (4D: "Our deeds still travel with us from ___, / And what we have been makes us what we are": George Eliot). That AFAR clue was (a)far-fetched. Baffled by EVAN Peters, who is a white dude in a lot of things I don't / won't watch ("American Horror Story," X-Men movies, etc.). And then, beyond cluing, there were just some nuisance answers. E-SIGNS is not quite as e-dumb as yesterday's E-INK, but it's close. CAPITAL Q is a cheap-as-heck way to get a "Q" in your grid, and that stupid clue (36A: MapQuest feature), ugh. Yeah, it's got a CAPITAL M too, so what? And are QR CODES still a thing? (39D: Scannable black-and-white boxes). I literally never see that term / hear anyone use it. Had -R CODES and couldn't even remember the letter that went there. POP TABS is the STEEL TIP boot of today's puzzle (they're POP TOPS or PULL TABS). Also very much not a thing: BAR TRAY (1D: It might hold your glasses). (I asked a bartender just to confirm: "LOL not a thing" was her response). Too much unpleasantness PERMEATEs this thing.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. here's audio of the interview I did with Adrianne Jeffries about the NYT crossword's continued tendency to be exclusionary and tone-deaf, particularly where race is concerned.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Jeffrey Jones 12:37 AM  

Phenomenal puzzle. So much fun! I don't know how puzzle creators do it!

Clark 12:37 AM  

Didn't know QRCODES, and CAPITALs looked reasonable to me (as a feature that might make capital cities appear -- I'm a GoogleMaps man myself). So dnf. My response to revealing the CapitalQ in MapQuest was "fair enough." I liked it. I especially liked how each theme row or column had three clued answers plus two more unclued three-letter words to boot. Now if I could just figure out what DIETIT, ADORAT, WARRAN, and COPACE mean . . .

A shoutout to Rex and Chefwen and the other familiar faces. I'm still a regular; I'm just out of synch. Usually the post is not up when I finish the puzzle so I miss out on commenting.

George Barany 12:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 12:51 AM  

no complaints? no time bragging? smh.

this was an excellent puzzle. no more no less.

George Barany 12:54 AM  

As far as I'm concerned, this puzzle is a technical tour-de-force by @David Steinberg -- identifying four 9-letter words in the form X-Y-Z (X, Y, Z each 3-letters) so that X, Y, Z, Y-Z, and the full-length X-Y-Z are all real words, then arranging them in a pleasing criss-crossing grid with four big symmetrically placed "+" signs. Plus, an extra level of explanation with MINCE // WORDS. That more than justified a few entries that were stumpers, like QRCODES and HDMI, and some of the other issues identified in @Rex's review -- which (as usual) I appreciate both for points of agreement and points of difference.

As for the clues, I'm satisfied that ACETIC and ION came out well enough for a stressed-out chemistry student to get by on TEST DAY. I was glad to see the incomparable guitarist @Eric CLAPTON, one letter removed from an individual who has showed up in the comments section of late. @DIDI CONN is practically impossible to conjure up, but had a helpful hint within the clue. @Jim EDMONDS was great fun to watch throughout his career, though a Google search reminds me that he did not get enough votes to remain on the Hall of Fame ballot. "Sequoia, e.g." did double-duty on clues; I'm pretty sure that's the shortest word that uses all five vowels.

Only a few more days until the Minnesota Crossword Tournament (Sunday June 11), click here for more information.

Anonymous 12:54 AM  

E-ink is a thing. I have some e-ink displays. That's what it's called. E-ink.

puzzlehoarder 1:43 AM  

This was the hardest Thursday I've done in a long time. Getting the theme took me forever. The fill was a mixture of difficult cluing and some odd entries. The Q of 36A was the last letter to go in. This was a variation on the old SILENT (fill in the letter) entry. A frustrating puzzle but we'll worth sticking it out.

Martin 1:47 AM  

With 53,000,000 hits for bar tray, including lots of bar trays for sale, it's possible that bartenders call them "trays" and the rest of us call them "bar trays," no?

puzzlehoarder 1:48 AM  

That first comment went right into the ether. Great puzzle. Well worth the effort of finishing.

Larry Gilstrap 1:49 AM  

Thank goodness the Ultracool person clued in 1A was not an ESKIMO. but a BAD ASS. Not certain which is more acceptable and by whose standards.

Hand up for being mystified by the CAPITAL Q/QR CODES cross. One was clever, but the other was unfair. There, I said it!

That was a good Thursday effort. The MINCE WORDS grid spanners are impressive and made the whole thing come together. Those of us who like to grumble about three-letter fill have just been graciously shown the door.

I shared the penguin problem with OFL. I know the DOBIE Gillis TV show, which was very hip back in the day. Maynard G. Krebs was the stereotypical slacker before the invention of slackers. He recoiled at the word: "Work!" Definite Beat vibe to that whole show.

Factoid: The Giant Sequoia is the fastest growing conifer and one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, but still many of them are ancient. Ever try to take a picture of one?

Mike in Mountain View 2:08 AM  

Wow. What a cleverly constructed puzzle! This may be my favorite David Steinberg work.

Rex sells the theme short. As @George Barany mentions, each of the themers consists of no fewer than five words: A nine-letter word, that (i) ends in a six-letter word that ends in a three-letter word, and (ii) begins with a three-letter word, and (iii) has a three-letter word in the middle. Two of those five words are unclued. Plus, there's a symmetrically placed revealer and a grid that not only MINCEs the WORDS but also uses the black to createt "plus" signs that provide a hint to what to do with the three-letter words that connect to bisect those plus sides vertically and horizontally.

I say again: Wow.

All that, and SHEBANG, too.

Have no idea who DIDICONN is, but didn't care and didn't need to know, as the crosses were fair (to me, at least).

Thanks, David!

jae 2:13 AM  

Tough Thurs. for me. Some of the same problems as @Rex. Empire didn't work for penguins and I kinda knew ADELIE from previous crosswords but was very iffy on the spelling as the singer Adele shows up a lot. Same problem with QR CODES. I initially had S (@Clark) but changed it to Q after a bit of staring at something I didn't trust.

I liked this one a bunch. Clever, crunchy, made me think I might not finish...a fine Thurs.!

Brian 2:21 AM  

Thursdays are all about clever themes, and this one was really well done. Both a feat of construction and fun to solve - the former is often sacrificed for the latter, but not here. Rex is grumpy as usual, but I think he's off base here.

Andrew Heinegg 2:40 AM  

Thought this was a good puzzle although I turn cold at the gimmick and, yes, I know it is a feat of construction and it is the Thursday N.Y. Times crossword so you have to expect it.

Or, maybe I am distressed at spelling Dobie (Dobey) Gillis wrong which led to a dumber than dumb need to cheat to finish. Never really watched the show but definitely saw and heard the theme song to start the show enough times to spell it right. But, one of the few people worse than a stupid person is a stubborn stupid person. Didn't change it until I cheated and saw I had to.

Meanwhile, I had literally no answer for the red hair tint clue in spite of the fact that I had figured out the minced words theme and, of course, diet above and Ian below left no choice but t for the ending of ti. And, like Rex,I thought the capital Q for MapQuest feature was kind of cheesy crosswordese.

I will try to pay better attention next Thursday.

phil phil 2:40 AM  

EINK QRCODES both are 'today' words!! A little shortsighted to expect up to date when it doesn't fit your wheelhouse.

Audrey Tautou is a great actriss. AMELIE made her popular but you have to catch her in 'He loves me...He loves me not' great film...written, directed, acted. Especially if you've seen cute little Amelie.

Anyway had diet for paradoxocal word before food and couldn't see how it could be allowed with DIE TIT IAN in place so got that fixed and thoroughly enjoyed the solve

tkincher 2:44 AM  

QR CODES are definitely still a thing, and a great way to present dense information. The next version of the iPhone OS will have native support for QR recognition without the need for an app. I gather that they may be used more profusely abroad.

Really liked this puzzle, other than getting hung up on that penguin. Theme was a nice "aha!"

Mark in Mountain View 3:07 AM  

Agreed with most here: this puzzle was good. The theme and its elegant deployment were a joy. Not sure why Rex is so cranky about everything. Yes, QR codes are still a thing. And what's with calling Evan Peters "a white dude"? Rex seems to revel in crowing about how progressive he is, so I guess it's a point of pride to be ignorant of a quite talented and likable actor who, yes, also happens to be white?

Jack B Nimble 4:32 AM  

I used to hate Steinberg puzzles due to their high rate of esoterica, but for the last several years it'd be hard to say there's a better or more creative constructor out there. 5 stars

joebloggs 5:26 AM  

The US military hasn't used the Army/Navy phonetic alphabet since 1956! That is a horrible clue for oboe! I realize oboe is overused but that clue is light years beyond a stretch. Abysmal!

Anonymous 6:01 AM  

Baffled by white dude Michael Sharp's objections to much of the cluing.

Anonymous 6:13 AM  

Yep, I looked it up. Evan Peters is a white dude. And that's remarkable because? Sharp is such a tiresome twit.

evil doug 6:13 AM  

DOBIE had quite a cast--Bob Denver, Tuesday Weld, Warren Beatty, Frank Faylen, William Schallert, Florida Friebus....terrific early TV sitcom.

Cassieopia 6:23 AM  

COP ACE TIC For that reason alone I would have been thrilled with this puzzle! But include BADASS and the perfect level of difficult fill crossed with enough easy fill to suss out the entire puzzle google-free...well I'm in crossword nirvana (or SATORI?) The theme fell at TITIAN for me; for some reason "her Titian hair" is a phrase that has burrowed itself into my brain and emerged to save the day - or at least solve the puzzle. There was SO much to love and solving this was pure delight! Kudos to David Steinberg for the truly marvelous construction!

Lewis 6:27 AM  

One BADASS puzzle. Look what David did here. First, he came up with the idea. Second, he found workable theme answers; third, he devised a design concept (just look at that gorgeous grid!); fourth, he polished it down to squeaky clean fill; and fifth, he wrought tough and clever cluing. This was the whole SHEBANG.

I didn't know ADELIE, HDMI, DIDICONN, SEINES, TITIAN (as a tint), HDMI, and QR codes, but I had faith that David would make the crosses fair. And he did, with two exceptions for me, the "i" in HDMI, and the "q" in CAPITAL Q, both of which I guessed correctly.

This was a tussle, the kind that draws me in with intrigue, not the type where I feel like I'm getting beat up and just want to leave. I loved this. This is the work of a pro. Thank you greatly, David!

evil doug 6:37 AM  

I listened to your interview, Michael. Nothing new. Same old unnecessary white guilt trip, looking for trouble where there isn't any, serving only to dilute the real problem. Anything to say about what's been going on at Evergreen State College?

PKelly 6:40 AM  

The theme answers are groups of three, no? Not groups of two as Rex is showing. Dietitian, Titian and Ian, etc. Super puzzle!! Loved it!!

Loren Muse Smith 6:45 AM  

I whole-heartedly agree with @George, @Mike in MV, and @Lewis. This is wow. The added oomh that each of the four nine-letter spanners are actually three words (DIETITIAN > TITIAN > IAN) is so, so cool. And every little three-letter segment could be a real word.

and AND, David didn’t just divide words, lazily chunking at only affixes and inflections like, say, having SUBATOMIC > ATOMIC > MIC. This is a very fun puzzle. Fun to try to think of others. BLUE STATE.

TITIAN was no problem for this former Nancy Drew wannabe. Sigh. Nancy with her titian hair tooling around in her roadster…

I was trying to fit “camelcase” before CAPITAL Q. And I had “lap tray” before BAR TRAY.

David – excellent. And I agree that 1A is your sly self-referential entry. Seriously.

Forsythia 7:01 AM  

Whew! Got it! Happy dance! Loved sussing out the words. Tough tough but doable, or at least the last guess was right. Got the whole SHEBANG!

Threw in ADELIE immediately and was sure I would have to take it out. As others have said, the construction is clever and rewards one bit by bit. IAN makes me smile. I can remember when I first realized all the ways the name John plays out in other languages, William also.

COPACETIC is a beautiful word! Reminds me of my Dad's favorite expression "cogitating on the vicissitudes of life!" Just lovely four syllable words that sound like what they mean to me.

We watched The Secret Life of Bees just last night with Queen LATIFAH. Lovely movie.

I worked in Seqouia National Park when I was in college, and being in a grove of the trees is a holy experience. And yes, @Larry Gilstrap made me laugh about trying to take a picture!

Thanks David Steinberg

BarbieBarbie 7:04 AM  

Fast for a Thursday, probably because I had to pause and figure out the theme when two emerging answers (ACE acid?? TIT-red hair??) didn't make any sense. That made it a very satisfying, drawn-out Aha. What a fun ride. What a great puzzle. I'm in awe of all conctructors, and this is beyond that by at least one order of magnitude. Even down to the positions of the revealers. Wow. Can't wait for SPLIT INFINITIVES.
It even met the NYT "2017 ACNE Eruption Challenge!"

Hungry Mother 7:10 AM  

Fun theme, tough puzzle.

Anonymous 7:14 AM  

Not only is Evan Peters a white dude, he plays one on TV! Islamic terrorism? World hunger? Nuclear proliferation? Wake up people! We have real problems here!

kitshef 7:16 AM  

Theme is dreamy, and for the most part the fill stands up, too.

ESTD, AGTS, IM BEAT, PAW AT, and especially POP TABS are the low points, but I’m happy to put up with those and the obscure DIDI CONN for that theme.

For anyone interested, #1 guitarist on Rolling Stone’s list was Jimi Hendrix. [Top 5: Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Clapton, Hendrix]

Leon 7:26 AM  

QR codes will be making a big comeback with Apple's IOS 11.

ACNE makes a twelfth appearance in 2017, 277th in the Shortz era and 394th when you include pre-Shortz.

Glimmerglass 7:33 AM  

Not only does @Rex dis an excellent puzzle, he doesn't even understand the complexity of its theme (as mike in mv points out). This is an awesome construction. Maybe we should write a new Aesop's fable: "The rex and the sour grapes."

Z 7:34 AM  

Just a few days ago I made the common observation that 3 letter words are something we have to live with and that they are never going to be interesting. Way to prove me wrong, Steinberg.

@Evil Doug - Yeah, I'll comment. Why do white men think phoning in threats of violence is an appropriate response? Oh, wait, you wanted me to be upset that a bunch of students are going after a Prof's job because he chose to misunderstand an event in the most "white privilege" way possible? Nah. "Harrumph! How dare they suggest that I share their experience for one day. Harrumph."

Lewis 7:52 AM  

p.s. -- As your resident alphadoppeltotter, I must report that this puzzle has an unusually low number of double letters (4). Anything less than five is highly unusual, happens two or three times a year.

p.p.s. -- David's notes on this puzzle (in Xword Info and WordPlay are insightful and endearing, worth the read.

evil doug 7:57 AM  

From the NYT itself, Z:

Comic Book Prof. 8:21 AM  

So I'm going to carp until the cows come home about having fresh themes and young, hip constructors, so when there's a fresh theme from a young, hip constructor I can totally concentrate on what annoys me about his puzzle.

chefbea 8:23 AM  

Too tough for me!!!

Anonymous 8:38 AM  

Z - someone with your intellect is best advised to stay in the shallow end of the pool.

QuasiMojo 8:38 AM  

David Steinberg pulled this very clever Thursday puzzle off with great aplomb! Rex's quibbles seem almost "mincy" compared to the constructor's challenges in putting this all together so seamlessly. And Rex's (deliberate?) use of "white dude" before and after styling himself as a champion against tone-deafness underscores the problem with singling out certain words and phrases for criticism. The fact that the actor Evan whoever is "white" has no bearing on the clue or answer.

I used to find David Steinberg's puzzles too obscure or esoteric (in a hip, millennial way) but this one today demonstrates his ingenuity and panache.

Sir Hillary 8:41 AM  

Brilliant feat of construction by young white dude Mr. Steinberg, but I didn't enjoy solving it as much as I do most of his puzzles. I wish I could articulate why. There's nothing inherently bad (although the CAPITALQ / QRCODES cross is close) but for whatever reason it just didn't hit me.

I do love the BADASS FATCAT top row.

ESIGNS following e-ink is a bit much. E-sign o' the times, I guess.

Jim EDMONDS made what some people (including me) consider to be the most spectacular baseball catch of all time, rivaling Willie Mays's famous one in the 1954 World Series. I'm terrible at embedding links, so just Google "Jim Edmonds catch" and you'll find it easily. For those who care about such minutiae, you will also see him wearing the Angels' dreadful late-90s uniform.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Anyone know the the racial makeup of the staff of The Motherboard?

More Whit 8:49 AM  

Had an above average Thursday solving time for this one, but I liked the whole shebang! Enjoyed the split/minced words and memory of walking among giant sequoias many moons ago. I don't know what QR codes are... or how they pertain to my iPhone...will have to research that or maybe a tech savvy guru can enlighten me. Anyway, enjoying two sunny days in a row here in the Northeast.

LePew 8:54 AM  

Evan Peters. You mean they still allow white men to act in movies?
That simply will not do!

After all, if not for a group of black women we would never landed on the moon.

Lars 9:04 AM  

Got three-quarters done and realized I had to figure out what the word trick was or it wouldn't end up out well. After a few recent ones where getting the theme wasn't necessary, that I liked. Sort of wanted something about "cuts in threes" as the mincing is all in blocks of three squares, while actual mincing doesn't give regular pieces. But when I got it all and the complexity of it, was greatly impressed by the construction.

However, got stumped by the upper part of the SW because not having heard COPACETIC before. Surprised that it is barely mentioned by others, so clearly something most know.

Where and how is copacetic being used regularly enough that most don't flinch?

TAGG 9:11 AM  

As a retired bar owner, a bar tray is the small round cork lined tray the server uses to carry drinks from the bar to the table.

Two Ponies 9:13 AM  

This constructor usually kicks my (bad) ass but today he wrote his clues for a wider audience than usual.
Dobie Gillis was ahead of its time. I can still see his dead-pan look at the camera as he shared a knowing look with the viewers.

I refuse to deny my ancestors the respect they deserve.

Drew 9:18 AM  

As a [relatively] younger solver, I'd just like to point out that QRCODE is just the type of instant gimme that I need to solve Thursday-Saturday puzzles. Same with EINK yesterday, which I didn't mind at all and would consider a very familiar term even with my limited knowledge about how e-readers work.

I'm not offended by your "unfair" claim, but I'm always amused how baseball players from the 50s, brand names of toiletries my parents used, and actors from black-and-white movies/TV shows (DOBIE Gillis?) are gimmes for some and the very same "OK, well there's no way I could have gotten that" types of answers for others, yet in the crossword community, it always seems to be the "modern" answers that are called out for being unfair or lazy.

My only point is that "unfair" answers are relative to the audience, and I generally find most of the ones Rex and his commenters call out as such to be common knowledge, yet struggle with many answers that would probably be obvious if I had been born a few decades sooner.

But I understand it, and I actually appreciate [some of] the history lessons I get from doing NYT puzzles. After all, we entitled Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers have the AV Club puzzles to get our fill (pun intended!) of MANSCAPE and TWEEP answers where they feel right at home. :)

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

I'm a dietitian. As a profession we have a collective chip on our shoulder (so many people call themselves nutritionists, but only dietitians have passed the board exam, are required to do continuing education, are endorsed by an academy and can work in hospitals). When I saw the answer to the clue "certain nutritionist" was only three letters long, I was steeling myself to be annoyed at the solution. Maybe I'll print this one up and frame it!

Took me forever for a Thursday (a little over ten minutes, agh) but I really enjoyed it.

Tonto 9:42 AM  

We used to just have wood and stones and bone but then we got metal.
Now we have knives and tomahawks.
Make them ourselves? Naw, have no clue.
Why should we when we can just steal them from the white guys?

Trombone Tom 9:43 AM  

A DNF for me today because I couldn't remember QR CODES although I use them on my I-phone from time to time. Still this was a remarkably good puzzle with a fresh and interesting take on the theme, despite our resident curmudgeon's grumblings.

David Steinberg usually knocks me for a loop, but (except for that "Q") I managed to stay with him this time. It helped greatly that I just happened to check the origin of COPACETIC a few days ago.

I considered the Rosa Parks clue clever and not in the least "tone deaf."

Thank you David S. and Will for a delightful Thursday.

Zulu 9:44 AM  

Hey, that worked for us too!

Wm. C. 9:45 AM  

@LarryG -- My foremost memory of Maynard G Krebs was his entries onto the set with "You rang?" Rivaled only by Kramer's crashing entrances on Seinfeld.

Oh, yeah, the puzzle: played too hard for me. As noted above, what pct of solvers today ever heard of Didi Conn? Should never be used, even on a Saturday. Adelie? Fuggedaboudit! Heard of Clapton, of course, but who'd know he was number two on who-gives-a-damn list? Oboe? QR codes?

Got a sile out of "spit" when I realized it was the noun, and what versions of "bar" and "roast" were intended.

mathgent 9:47 AM  

I liked it, too. Eighteen red plus signs in the margins, a record for a Thursday. Especially got a kick out of BADASS.

Will someone please explain RAT for "Allowance"?

Wm. C. 9:51 AM  

@Mathgent: Allowance => Rat-ion.

Sir Hillary 9:52 AM  

@mathgent - It's RATION.

@Drew - Point well taken.

@Anon 9:20 - My wife is a DIETITIAN and has the very chip on her shoulder that you describe. Amusingly, near that chip she a bee in her bonnet about how to spell the word, which she prefers as DIETIcIAN. I'm going to tell her that Steinberg knows best.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

This was my favorite puzzle in a long time. Thanks David. The reviewer should seek help ASAP..

cwf 9:57 AM  

Fabulous puzzle.

When POPTABs were invented (to replace the disposable "pull-tabs" that produced rafts of curvy, sharp, metal litter), the aluminum can industry marketed them as "STA-TABS", which I imagine Rex would like even less as an answer.

Nancy 10:01 AM  

I am filled with admiration for the construction of this very clever puzzle that I didn't enjoy working on much at all. The theme left me completely in the dark through three-quarters of solving. I finally picked up the theme at WAR RAN TED and confirmed at DIE TIT IAN. And I said "Aha", but it was a very weak Aha, since the ultra-contemporary clues still left me stymied in many places anyway. I didn't know -RCO-ES at 39D, nor H-MI at 54D, nor -I-I CONN at 58A, who could have been FIFI or LILI or MIMI or BIBI or just about anything other than DIDI. So I had a DNF. But even things that came in (HUTT: Huh???) were way out of my wheelhouse. Sometimes I feel that David Steinberg and I inhabit two entirely different universes. Multiverses, perhaps. All this technical jargon I've never heard of. David, honey, you're a brilliant constructor, but you made me feel really old today. Not all of us have sat in school computer rooms from the age of three on.

Mohair Sam 10:02 AM  

Fabulous Thursday - What fun. That rare occasion when a tricky feat of construction leads to joy in solving. We were struggling with the tough cluing Rex was bitching about, but once you got the "minced" cluing trick an awful lot filled so we thought the tough clues were justified.

Wicked clue for baseball great Jim EDMONDS. I always wonder how they pick among the great guitarists, it's a tough call. Who remembered DIDI CONN? Not us. What's Rex's problem with the CAPITALQ clue? Only thing Rex got right today? - "Amelie" was a neat flick.

Has anyone noticed that anything created after @Rex's thirtieth birthday that he hasn't heard about really pisses him off. I'm thinking EINK today. For two days he's complained about it now. Kindle users have known the term for years, others were happy to learn it yesterday, it's not going away. But our man Rex can't let it go. And today it's those blasted QR CODES, I guess he likes UPCs. (no doubt @Nancy prefers a reliable price tag). Can't wait until OFL hits 60.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

I think Rex, Z, and Kathy Griffin are double agents for Trump. A llitte over the top.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  


You really should stop embarrassing yourself. Better yet, dry up and blow away.

@Anon 6:13
It's not twit. It's twat. Didn't you know, Sharp is a feminist? He's got the sand in his vagina to prove it.

@David Steinberg.
I assume your smiling at all the praise you're ( deservedly) getting.
But I wanted to say thanks. It was a genuine pleasure AND a terrific achievement

AlinMPLS 10:07 AM  

Harsh review! LOVED this puzzle. Challenging and pleasurable to solve. More like this , please.

anon. 10:12 AM  


DJG 10:17 AM  

Very good puzzle!

It is true, I think, that it's more of a "constructor's puzzle" than a "solver's puzzle," by which I mean the construction is extremely impressive from a technical standpoint -- an A performance -- but solving it was more like a B+ experience.

But that's still quite good, so I agree with everybody who says Rex's commentary is too harsh.

Carola 10:25 AM  

Fun! For me, it went from "What in the world...?" to Easy, once I saw WAR+RAN+TED. I echo @Mike in Mountain View in my admiration of the construction. Loved the two headliners, the BADASS and FATCAT who started things off with a SHEBANG. Genius reveal. And COPACETIC as an extra treat.
On the possible trouble spots: I knew ADELIE from reading nature books to my kids; changed the incorrect "s" to a Q, as "sR CODES" didn't look right; had to get DIDI CONN and EDMONDS from crosses.

@David Steinberg, this is my favorite of yours so far.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Z is in over his head. He seems like a smart guy but is trying to defend an indefensible position.

Aketi 10:29 AM  

Our now almost 17 pound CAT Charlie is very pleased with his appearance headlining the puzzle today as a BAD ASS FAT CAT.
He prefers that to my calling him a BAD CAT with ASS FAT.

BAD ASS and HOT RODS should not be in the same puzzle.

The most BAD ASS RATs in NYC are those that PERMEATE the MTA system. They are the best indicators of approaching trains.

There are BAR TRAYS are readily apparent, but the TABS for the drinks are hidden under POP.

Trying to figure out if BART RAYS are a new weapon of WAR to protect public transportation in Nothern California or an Aquarium pet for the son of Homer.


johnny stocker 10:35 AM  

Yes, this was excellent. Lot of interesting stuff and just enough pushback for a Thursday. As per the usual routine, if ol' Rex runs into any trouble the constructor sucks, the puzzle sucks, and Shortz sucks.

Molson 10:39 AM  

QR Codes are definitely still a thing.

Aketi 10:43 AM  

@Sir Hillary and @Anonymous 9:20 am, I have a PhD in Nutritional Sciences, but I would never dare to call myself a Dietitian or Dietician (both spellings were recognized by the NY Office of the Professions) because I don't have that type of training.

@Sir Hillary, you beat me to the BAD ASS FAT CAT while I was doing my three fingered typing.

Mohair Sam 10:45 AM  

@Aketi - LOL, great to meet Charlie

RooMonster 10:45 AM  

Hey All
Agree with the construction feat, but didn't move me much as some of you. Not sure why.

No one mentioned I'M BEAT as how DS felt after constructing this! I GUARANTY. :-)

Could combine YesterPuz and today's and get HUTT BUTT.

9Down is still a mystery to me. Anyone care to give me a Doh moment?


Stanley Hudson 10:54 AM  

This was a superb puzzle, even if its complexity, or at least some of its complexity, eluded the grasp of Rex.

Thanks David Steinberg, from a middle-aged white male.


jberg 10:59 AM  

I loved this puzzle, and thought it was easy until I noticed an inadvertent DNF -- I put in 'baR CODES' without noticing that I had somehow skipped the A. CAPITAL b didn't make a lot of sense, but what do I know from MapQuest? A moment's thought -- and remembering that I had BAR TRAYS already -- should have fixed that.

I got IAN and ION before I had the theme, and thought that was pretty cool.

I misread "Gold Glove" as "Golden Gloves," so I thought I was looking for a boxer, not a baseball player. I didn't know either way, but I got EDM from the crosses, which made the rest inevitable. Similarly, I had no idea about DIDI CONN, but had the DI already, which gave me the second DI, so I only needed a few more crosses.

E-TCHER seems worse than E-SIGNS, but no one's complaining? Seriously, though. that's a great clue.

@Joebloggs -- I dunno, but the Naval ROTC caded in the dorm room next to mine in 1961 had a deck of flash cards with those signal flags and the accompanying phonetic alphabet on them, and he had to memorize them. A bunch of us did them with him -- so that alphabet was still round then.

Racism in the NYT is certainly not the biggest issue in the world, but I don't know why that's a reason for getting upset when anyone talks about it.

jberg 11:03 AM  

Almost forgot! ADELIE penguins are really cute -- here's a picture of one leaping off an ice floe. So let's show them more love!

Tim Aurthur 11:26 AM  

I'm in the wow amazing awesome camp. Yes, a construction feat doesn't always make for a pleasant solve, but this one did.

GILL I. 11:37 AM  

EVAN...White dude? Seriously? He's a fine actor and I LOVE American Horror Story. The very first episode got me hooked...Jessica Lange and the evil twins.
This was probably my favorite Steinberg to date. I'll tell you where he had my BAD ASS doing the huh dance. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why TIT was a red hair tint. Seriously. What the hell? When I got to the very easy IAN I screamed with joy. TITIAN!!! Aha..! and of course I went back upstairs to fix the dead nutritionist. DIE TIT IAN. Oh wow...this is great.
I so wanted SEGOVIA instead of CLAPTON. Then of course, I figure Rolling Stones wouldn't bother with the classics.
I know my penguins because I love to watch documentaries on those amazing birds. The Emperor lives a pretty rough life as does the ADELIE. They'll be moving to Southern California just as soon as the Antarctic melts.
I did have to Google QR CODES because I didn't know DID CONN nor EDMONDS. Still didn't care...
Did anyone else want to try and fit a vacuum in that Roomba clue?
Wanted ENCHILADA but I like SHE BANG covering LATIFAH. By the way, @Forsythia....The book is so much better. I read it twice.
@Mohair...I want to follow up with you on Pennsylvania, but for now I'm going to list to Comey.
Excellent job DS....More, please.

mathgent 12:06 PM  

@Wm.C., @Sir Hillary: Thanks. I had forgotten that it was part of the gimmick.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

Can someone please explain how FAST FOOD is "paradoxical" (7D)?

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Never mind, I think I get it... 'cause FAST can alternatively mean abstaining from eating... Lame sort of paradox imo

Forsythia 12:36 PM  

@Gill I. Yes, I did read the book and enjoyed it much more, but that was a few years ago, so enjoyed being reminded of it again. Books are almost always better than the movie!
@RooMonster - I assumed the TENS for 9down was just the ten dollar bill produced by the Treasury Dept?

Gene 12:37 PM  

Terrific puzzle. Not surprised that Rex didn't comment on BADASS, as it would violate his world-(or NYT puzzle)view.

Tita A 12:45 PM  

Just want to drop in to say how much I loved this puzzle. It was really tough for me, having no idea what was going on. I studiously avoided the revealer, making it even harder.

Probably many of you have said that it was not just two, it three... three... three words in one. That elevates it many notches above mere broken words.

I did have a DNF...same penguin problem as Rex, and thought AmORATION stemmed from AmOR.
Another at CAPITALs. I mean, those CODES could be any two letters at all, and I figured MapQuest showed you state CAPITALs.

BADASS and FATCAT cute, though clue is off for the former.

Thank you David for a really tough, really clever puzzle. This is what thursdays are all about.

Teedmn 1:17 PM  

Ah yes, the CAPITAL Q was my last entry. I seriously considered a "ba" rebus in the Q square which would give me baRCODES for 39D but CAPITAL ba didn't give me any route to MapQuest so I eeny-meeny-ed between the M and Q and got lucky.

I wandered the grid with that lonely feeling I get when when I think that everyone else is probably racing through the grid and I'm still trying to catch the trick. With DIE and TIT in place and thinking DIE[{TITIAN}], the IAN at 57D brought it all together ON CUE. Fun.

ADORATION went in before I had to come up with the penguin species so that wasn't a problem.

Very nice Thursday, David, and I'm sure your Dad will appreciate his early Father's Day tribute.

Tim Aurthur 1:23 PM  

FAST FOOD is paradoxical because it could mean FOOD you'd eat for a FAST, the way diet food is food you'd eat on a diet.

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

Oh my god I think you just slayed him I can't stop laughing

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

Ever notice the people who see racism everywhere they look are actually racist?

Masked and Anonymous 2:24 PM  

Primo puztheme idea. All the buildin blocks are made up from lowly, darlin lil weejects. Caught on to the reveal and theme real early, which definitely helped with the M&A solvequest.

Trouble spots in gettin the collateral fill abounded, with yer penguin specieses, Zen terms, Sequoias (yo, @General Sherman), financial guaran-thingies, Biblical names, etc. Big killer was the CAPITALQ/QRCODES/DIDICONN/EDMONDS zone of tenuous footholds. Lost many valuable nano-seconds, plus guessed wrong on the Q [went with "S"] (yo, @lotsa y'all).

Agree with @evil D: Dobie Gillis show was ground-breakinly good. (yo, @Endicott Building!) Was where lil M&A first learned to look apprehensive while utterin "Work?"

Only weejects in the whole grid were themers or themer bodyparts. Extra-neat that all the 3-letter bodyparts was also perfectly good standalone words. staff picks: The IAN, ION twins.

Best Ow de Speration: AGTS. fave fillins: BAD-ASS. DIE-TIT. SPIT. HDMI. HOTRODS. DOBIE.

Thanx, Mr. Steinberg. Cool grid design, with all them lil "+" stars spittin out runtwords. Fun & feisty thUmbsUp solvequest. [No words was beminced, in M&A sayin that.]

Masked & AnonymoUUs


Ray Yuen 2:25 PM  

Really enjoyed this one--theme was excellent, despite what Grouchy-pants says.

puzzlehoarder 2:59 PM  

@roomonster, thank you for bringing up the TENS clue. I was confused by that too. After reading your comment I got a hunch. Luckily I had a ten in my wallet. I looked at the back of it and sure enough there was an image of the U.S. Treasury. I know because a use it says so right at the bottom.

CDilly52 3:04 PM  

You have all beaten me to the punch but I nonetheless feel compelled to pile on. Tour-de-force indeed!!! And until 10 minutes ago I was stumped! Knew there was a theme in there and it had to do with the dang black "plus signs" so what did I do? Fell for the deke like an amateur (which of course I am by this neighborhood'a standards despite my 55 years of solving) and threw in Cross WORDS. Half right. Well, in baseball that's a great batting average. Ugh.

So much to love that is new and fresh: BADASS, QRCODES, homage to MapQuest. Great people: Queen LATIFAH, Jim EDMONDS (speaking of high average), ROSA Parks.

But plenty for the old crowd, too. Remember the theme to DOBIE, Dobie, Dobie? And his buddy, Maynard G Krebs, America's first prime time hipster dufus! Loved that show. Would buy the DVDs. How about BICS and

What finally enabled me to finish at the speed of light was just sucking it up and realizing that the bird HAS TO BE A MACAW (not a Cacaw)!! MINCE fell and so did everything else. I finally quit reading COPACETIC as co-PASTE-ic (and wondering what the
!#*%£¥#!) and the other themers suddenly made such clever, wonderful sense.

Done with aplomb as @Quasi mentioned. Made me think that Mr. S is like Little Jack who, with aplomb stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum!! This one is a perfect plum of a puzz and provided the best theme "aha" moment I have had for ages. Frustratingly "Thursday" and a delight to finish. . . finally.

Two Ponies 3:56 PM  

If anyone cares, you can get "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" on Netflix.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

Nasdaq closed at all time high. But you should keep reading what Adrianne Jeffries thinks if you're a self-loather.

Nausee 5:09 PM  

I've never seen a puzzle that extends across black squares. Guess that veteran puzzle solvers sussed this out. This will help me think outside the squares next time! Very clever, though baffling until I revealed some answers.

Robert Grady 5:21 PM  

Very happy to finish this one after a lot of trouble. While I got the capital q quickly, my stumbling block was tuCAn instead of MACAW. That left me struggling for a while.

hankster65 5:23 PM  

Immensely enjoyable! I got a nice rush on figuring out the busted up words trick. Nicely done. CAPITALQ nearly did me in.

Robert A. Simon 6:35 PM  

I loved Dobie Gillis for two reasons: Tuesday and Weld. The 12-year-old version of me took one look and thought, "You know, there just might be something to this whole girl thing after all."

Billfishco 6:46 PM  

Hey, so in Gregg Allman's obit last week, the author cited his late brother Duane as Rolling Stones' #2 rock guitarist, behind only Hendrix.

Anonymous 7:09 PM  

Eric Clanton was #3.

Steve M 7:12 PM  

Dobie Gillis made this an awesome Thursday

David Schinnerer 7:37 PM  

Is Eric Clapton REALLY the second (or third, even) best guitarist ever?? Wow.

Like this puzzle. made me go over it several times and I like that. Not here to race the clock or I would just clicl "solve". Love taking the time to enjoy it.

Sorry, King of Snark, like this one AND the theme.

Anonymous 9:06 PM  

Anon 4:04
Black Tuesday ring a bell?

Happy Pencil 9:36 PM  

I'm late to the party, but I didn't want to let this one pass without adding my two cents to the chorus of praise. What a fantastic puzzle! A clever, unique theme, with four nine-letter words that also work as six-letter words and as three-letter words. (Did Rex even get that part? It's not clear to me from his write-up.) And then to cross those four theme answers in such a way that you constrain yourself but still manage to produce this absolutely beautiful grid. But wait, that's not all! You also have an appropriate and well-placed revealer, an almost total absence of gluey bits, some fresh non-theme answers, and a bunch of clever clues.

I've learned a ton about what makes a good crossword from reading Rex over the years, but I have to say that I don't understand how he can claim to love puzzles and not even appreciate what a beauty this was. Compare this review to the relative rave he gave his buddy a few days ago for a puzzle that was demonstrably inferior in every way. I don't get it at all.

DrBB 11:14 AM  

Long comment thread but I did a word search and did see any remarks on the one clue I DID think was a clunker: 27D PROVIDER [singular!] for "EAVES" [plural]. Dislike!

That said, I mostly enjoyed this one. Guessed QR CODE early on and didn't put it in because it was going to make the cross and in LQ, but and it took a while before I saw that 36A was one of those "clue refers to a letter in the word" clues, which I actually like--they almost always catch me out at first, result in a nice Aha! when I finally get 'em, and remind me of cryptic crossword clues which often hinge on that kind of referentiality. There's actually a branch of linguistic philosophy going back to the Middle Ages about that category of reference or "intention," and I actually like that sort of esoterica, so from me it's kudos not kondemnation for that one.

Space Is Deep 1:43 PM  

Tough, but fun puzzle. Never heard of QR CODES. as a non-constructor, this seems amazing to me. Bravo!

william levine 4:33 PM  

TENS are bills. From the treasury. Alexander Hamilton was the first secretary of the treasury I believe and Hamilton is on the $10 bill.

william levine 4:37 PM  

Also the first secretary of the treasury Alexander Hamilton is on the $10 bill

fakt chekker 9:10 AM  

Hey @wm levine - maybe that's why the U.S. Treasury building is on the back of those TENS. Use your noodle ATAD.

rondo 10:03 AM  

Didn’t notice it was a DS puz until 2/3 done. That’s quite the trick to MINCE WORDS with those plus signs. A thousand times better than a rebus and a great Thurs-puz IMHO. MY biggest problem was LAhtifa/LATIhfa/LATIFAH – knew there was an H, finally put it at the end where it belongs. Clean otherwise. Q was last in on a guess only because it’s in the midst of MapQuest.

Won one of those breakout ATARIS in a raffle many years ago. Fun at the time.

DS is usually short on the yeah baby front and sorry, DIDICONN, but the aforementioned Tuesday Weld as Thalia Meninger from DOBIE Gillis gets the nod. She falls into the TENS column.

This puz didn’t go by FAST, but I liked the whole SHEBANG.

Burma Shave 10:15 AM  



who say doggerel got no meter?

rondo 11:37 AM  

BTW - today is DIDICONN's 66th birthday

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

One in every crowd: thought this a joyless puzzle, full of pissers. Rejected.

Diana,LIW 1:42 PM  

Thought I'd try my "do 3s, then 4s, then 5s" solving trick from yesterday. It became apparent very quickly that more was going on with the 3s, and the plus signs gave away a great clue. Wonderful puzzle fellow Grover!

As usual, my dnf was due to my tiny-but-ever-growing wheelhouse. And as far as I'm concerned, it's all fair, from HOTRODS to QRCODES.

And DOBIE Gillis! Oh that brings back memories. Back in the days when we only had 3 channels but something worth watching was often on. And the repeats of those great old shows are still on, so it's fair for the young'uns.

That clue for TOYOTA tripped me up - along with the CAPITALQ.

Hmmm - @Rex didn't point out how "old" ENOCH was - 360 or so years? And then he died.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 2:06 PM  

This was one BADASS puzzle in which I was totally engrossed throughout. I spent way to long trying to imagine letters within the "+" signs, leading to deep distress. Agh!

It took me awhile to even start, which I did with ON CUE, ROBOT, GUARANTY, EAVES, and then noodled around in the SE, writing over EsCHER with ETCHER. Like many others, I assume, I had a number of three letter words that I didn't know what to do with. I knew the "+" signs were MINCing WORDS, but it only became clear at COPACETIC/ACETIC/TIC. I think I actually said "wow" to myself.

I was so pleased/impressed with this achievement that I risked reading Rex for a similar response. Oh God, Rex, you are such a buzzkill. I've heard of ADELIE penguins (don't remember them in previous crosswords), and you have to dump on that because you didn't know it, and then called it crosswordese! Man, you really know how to kill a party.

I haven't read any other commenters yet, but I will now, hoping that others share my joy. BTW, I just learned about QR CODES the other day when a guy at a winery scanned one on a bottle and found out all sorts of stuff about the wine. Cool.

Magnificent puzzle,

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

A one-square DNF: 39. In a grid too tech-y for my taste, this one finally got me. I know no codes of any kind.

The theme is ingenious; it had to be with that byline. Wasn't extremely hard to glom onto, yet required a little brainwork. Nice that 9>6>3, all the way through. Also, all the threes stand alone.

I balk at calling DOD Latifah "Queen of rap," as she is so much more. She has a marvelous sense of humor and a keen mind.

I'd like to award a birdie here, but the DNF takes scoring off the table. I just put...CAPITALs.

spacecraft 2:11 PM  

The above "anonymous" is me; I don't know why the name didn't go through.

leftcoastTAM 4:40 PM  

Same error as @spacecraft/anonymous. Bit of a let-down after thinking I had gotten the whole SHEBANG.

Steinberg is sometimes brutally clever, but I'd call this one more ingenious than brutal. It was a struggle and well worth it. The "aha" moment was most satisfying.

Took time to get MINCE; had "cross" instead, even though it didn't feel right. Then BADASS opened up the rest of the NW corner.

Lots more to say about this, but am sure it's all been said above.

leftcoastTAM 5:10 PM  

Well, I do have one more thing to say. After reading Rex, I think he's being a bit...uh...irascible?

Diana,LIW 7:02 PM  

@Lefty and @Spacey - don't you hate it when that happens? Rrrrrr. I mean, I still enjoy playing the puzzle immensely, but getting almost all of it and then, one square, yes it's a letdown when that happens, and you have to say IMBEAT. (It didn't today - I had many more holes than one.)

BTW all - I read @Lewis and went to XWORD to read DS's comments (and tribute to his dad) on his puzzle. Worth it. This young man (the Mozart of crosswords?) is a class act all the way. First class. IMVExHO In the brief amount of time I spent with him after the ACPT, I saw his gracious personality in action with several people, including yours truly.

@Rex's review today made me feel sorry for OFL. Kind of like a certain president - does he realize how foolish he appears to be? And transparent? Sad. To tell you the truth, I really think @Rex is probably a fun and self-deprecating person "in person," but sometimes he lets his online persona go too far. Jekyll? Hyde? You decide.

Lady Di, Waiting for Your Response

rondo 10:48 PM  

To not appreciate a fine puz like this is . . . well . . . EXTRAordinary in itself. A byproduct of a need for speed and not able savor a special moment. As a prominent tweeter might say, sad.

leftcoastTAM 11:06 PM  

Rex may need some R&R. He is very smart and apparently intense, he does this blog and a lot more every day, and I think he may need a break now and then. He has some good, talented friends who could fill in for him quite well. I would hate to see him leave the blog altogether though. He does a great job of keeping us all interested, engaged, and entertained.

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