1927 automotive debut / THU 9-21-17 / Formula One racer Prost / Operative villains often / Vacuum tube innovation of 1946 / Ragtime legend Blake / Helmer of Doll's House

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Constructor: Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: Challenging


THEME: UEY (57D: Often-illegal maneuver that is key to answering the asterisked clues) —answers double back on the subsequent Across line (once they hit the black square):

Theme answers:
  • TWO-TIM / EL OSER (1A: *Adlai Stevenson as a presidential candidate, e.g.)
  • SALAR / Y CAPS (21A: *Limits on team payrolls)
  • STRIK / ES A BA / LANCE (31A: **Doesn't go to either extreme)
  • TATTL / ETALE (47A: *Snitch)
  • PRIVAT / E LINES (60A: *Individual telephone connections)
Word of the Day: GIVE EAR (25A: Listen (to)) —
Verb1.give ear - give heed (to); "The children in the audience attended the recital quietly"; "She hung on his every word"; "They attended to everything he said" (thefreedictionary.com)
• • •

So the basic concept is solid—answers do a U-turn, and the comeback portion of the answer is itself a viable word in the Across. The double-UEY in the middle of the grid is a nice twist. The fill is just OK, but the theme is pretty demanding, so no strong complains there. What I dislike, to the point of resenting, is the deliberate trap set in the west. Now traps are fine, but when you set them where your Stupidest answers are, then falling into them is deeply unpleasant. A good trap should make you go "Ah, right, good one." But GIVE EAR (?!) is a phenomenally stupid thing, and crossing VEEPSTAKES ... ? Is VEEPSTAKES the thing where candidates decide on VP candidates? We gave that a name? The clue makes it sound like an official thing. It's not. There is not necessarily a "stakes" involved. Just pick a running mate. Anyway, back to the trap. 25D: A whole bunch (_O_S) ... crossing 36A: Social gathering (_E_). The latter was what really got me. I wrote in TEA and then that gave me LOTS for [A whole bunch]. And that was pretty much that. Had LI_EEAR and _EAPSTAKES and couldn't see how any answers I had were wrong. Because they weren't wrong. They were just wrong for This Grid because stupid GIVE EAR and stupid VEEPSTAKES thought they'd have a stupid party for ugly answers. Luckily at some point my "tear it all out" instinct kicked in, and somehow I was able to get to GIVE / GOBS / BEE / VEEP. Again, theme was solid, but not solid enough to absorb the blow from the GIVE EAR train wreck.



MISCALL is superdumb (28D: Poker blunder). What the hell is that? Where you call but shouldn't have? How is there a name for that kind of stupidity? What is an ALAIN Prost? (48D: Formula One racer Prost) People know that? People know Formula One racers? Talk about niche sports. Worst mistake I made all day wasn't the LOTS / TEA thing (that was a very reasonable mistake). No, it was reading "Scoville scale" (40D: Topping the Scoville scale) but thinking "Beaufort scale." So I could see the answer wanted to be HOTTEST, but ... winds aren't measure by hotness.


My favorite clue in this thing is probably 43A: George I or V? (SOFT G). Clever. Take it from an erstwhile medievalist, a knight does not "need" a LANCE, no way, no how, no. NOSED IN is almost as dumb as GIVE EAR. But again, most of the fill (though oldish and awkward at times) holds up, and the theme is fine.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

143 comments:

jae 12:05 AM  

Easy except ... I caught the "theme" immediately and pretty much zipped through the rest of the puzzle with the exception of MISdeal before CALL and ABASh before ABASE.

Then there was the @Rex GOBS/BEE (lOtS/tEa) minefield with the odd VEEPSTAKES further complicating things (I was sure it had to be lEaP something). Precious nanoseconds (@M&A) were squandered sorting that area out.

Liked it. A twisty theme with some fine traps which I seem to have enjoyed more than @Rex did.

Z 12:06 AM  

Easily the best puzzle of the week.

andrea carla michaels 12:19 AM  

Caught same place! Shoulda looked before I LEAPed...
Love the Woody Allen clue!!!

Dave in California 12:22 AM  

Veepstakes is possibly the worst answer I have ever seen in a NYT crossword puzzle.

George Barany 12:33 AM  

@Matt Ginsberg has contributed a LOT to the crossword field, and seems to have written this puzzle, at least in part, to test his Dr. Fill computerized solving algorithm. @Rex's review deftly identified an area that tripped up several of the early commentariat, myself included. With TEA confidently in place, I even considered LEAPSECOND, though clearly that would not be restricted to the U.S. Interestingly, Adlai Stevenson from 1-Across set up a seminal VEEPSTAKES in 1956, when Tennessee Senator ESTES Kefauer was chosen ahead of future President JFK, among others.

John Allston 12:33 AM  

I just love how if Rex falls into a trap it's a construction problem. VEEPSTAKES is real, current, and clever.

puzzlehoarder 12:34 AM  

This is one of those trick puzzles that's so bad it's actually good. I went well into late week territory figuring it out. Looking ahead for the revealer could have saved a lot of time but I wouldn't have had half the fun. In typical can't see the forest for the trees fashion I filled in the NW corner completely without getting the theme. In the center I supported my MISDEAL write over with LANDS. LIEGE could fit in there too. Anyway MISDEAL got me EEL, ERLE and what I thought was YEP. I read the clue for 57D to confirm that Y and the lightbulb went off.

Anonymous 12:35 AM  

VEEPSTAKES is of course a play on sweepstakes. I think reading Scoville as Beaufort is much stupider than the phrase GIVE EAR.

GIVE EAR to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. - Psalm 5:1

Larry Gilstrap 12:55 AM  

I liked it! I'm never quite sure what to do when I'm confronted with an asterisk. Hi @ Castor & Pollux! Wasn't their mother HELEN? Better consult my Edith Hamilton. Those U-turns were terrific and it began up in the far NW. I had a hunch about AES and then bingo! Words coming and going and then coming; nice payoff, right there in the middle of the grid. @Lewis was asking about what makes a puzzle great and then this baby shows up. It's hard to put into words, but I know it when I see it.

I had no problem with any of OFL's quibbles. I always kinda hate to contradict him, but he revealed that he never reads this comment section, so don't waste your time and mine in personal attacks on Rex Parker. It's a persona, like Dear Abby or Aunt Minnie Pearl, or Charley Weaver, or...

What's a four letter word for hypermeticulous, and what does that have to do with the orifice of the digestive tract, and why does that not flunk the breakfast test? Asking for a friend.

The Scoville scale was the HOTTEST thing in food news way back when habaneros showed up in pony packs at the Home Depot twenty years ago. Hot ANAL wind, indeed. Ignore that!

I MISCALLed the clue for 63A. I read Mentally unfirm and threw in pENILE. And, I'm not even a speed solver.

This puzzle is rated ***** on the Larry Scale.

Alicia Stetson 1:03 AM  

Should have clued MISCALL as "Butt dial, e.g." Much better.

Anonymous 1:03 AM  

A great and clever theme, but "give ear" and "veepstakes" are godawful. I can see easily that "veepstakes" is a thing, but it has surely never crossed my visual field. Ditto "give ear" – who says that? Answer: No one.

To Rex: A miscall is a very real thing in poker, referring (mostly) to a stupid procedural mistake call (like you meant to fold and inadvertently said "call" -- online, clicking the wrong button) or a stupid strategic mistake (like you called when you had no chance of winning and were too stupid to realize it).

But a very challenging Thursday.

mathgent 1:04 AM  

Terrific! Loved the gimmick, the symmetrically placed ueys with the double uey in the middle. Among the many virtues of the puzzle is the low number of Terrible Threes -- only ten.

Johnny 1:17 AM  


Great puzzle. My favorite part was realizing that the center was three lines. Very nice.

So the Twitterverse was abuzz with "lots" of "tea" eh? I don't use or read Twitter and I got BEE and GOBS the first time. Twitter must make you stupid or maybe it just attracts stupid people.

Anonymous 1:21 AM  

Excellent gimmick, dull puzzle. To be expected when the fill is in service to the trick.

Robin 1:28 AM  

Had a bit of trouble in the same area as Rex, but only because I wrote in tOnS too quickly in what should have been GOBS. After tearing that out but leaving in ODES and SOPH, I figure out VEEPSTAKES quickly enough (because yes, I had heard the term, years ago even) then got BEE and GIVE_EAR.

Did not figure out the gimmick until I hit PRIVATE_LINES, but STRIKE_A_BALANCE eluded me until I was done and went back to see what the heck was in there.

Overall time was just a few seconds faster than my Thursday average.

Anoa Bob 1:46 AM  

I play a lot of poker, both tournaments and cash, I've read a lot of books on poker, and I've never heard nor seen MISCALL used in that context. I may err by calling, as when my opponent has a better hand than I thought and I end up losing, but I didn't make a MISCALL, I simply made a MIStake. I second @Alicia Stetson's "Butt dial" as being a better clue.

25 Across jogged a memory of a raunchy joke I heard somewhere in my past, I'm not sure where or when. It's explicit and NSFW. Guy confides to his pal that his wife stopped performing fellatio for him and now only wants to GIVE EAR. What do you mean, says his friend. Whenever I try to put it in her mouth, she turns her head to the side, says he. You were warned.

I'm definitely going to use Woody Allen's "Knowing all the facts" for PARANOIA out in the wild in the coming week, maybe twice. My all-time favorite W.A. quote: I'm not afraid of death, I just don't want to be there when it happens.

Mark 2:11 AM  

I just want to chime in that I also thought it was a great puzzle. I was tripped up by the same section everyone else was, but I don't think it's unfair to have "gobs" and "bee". They are perfectly good answers, just different from normal crossword ese, which is a good thing, but adds to the difficulty. Once you figure that out everything falls into place.

Anonymous 2:28 AM  

I probably know more formula one drivers than I know baseball players but then I’m British.

Anonymous 3:24 AM  

Thought it was a really great crossword. Also, I know nothing about sport but I knew Alain Prost from the superb documentary Senna - highly recommend.

Hal 3:32 AM  

I've heard VEEPSTAKES for a while. Oxford Dictionaries places it from the 1960s, and it wouldn't surprise me if Ted White came up with it in one of the Making of the President books. Oldest NYT search I find is 2008, but that feels far too late.

Hal 3:40 AM  

VEEPSTAKES shows up in Google's Ngram viewer starting in 1964.

Hal 3:47 AM  

GIVE EAR, as a phrase, gets 4 hits in an NYT search since 2010. As I recall, words & phrases in the paper itself are fair game, yes?

Hal 3:49 AM  

Oh, and same for VEEPSTAKES. (See my comments below.)

Loren Muse Smith 3:59 AM  

I agree with @Z – best puzzle of the week so far. @Lewis – so hard to name that je ne sais quoi element that makes for a great puzzle. Someone said yesterday that you just know it when you see it, know that you’ll remember it for a long time. Today’s is a case in point.

For me, it’s theme, theme, theme. (And a silky smooth Saturday one letter shy of a rebus – the E) - Watch it; the link is the solution.

This one had four “moments” for me: 1) Seeing that 1A and 21A turn down to TWO TIME and SALARY. 2) Realizing they don’t just turn down a square, but finish all the way to the left for the backwards word. 3) Finally getting that STRIKES A BALANCE curves twice (!). 4) Fixing the TEA trap and finishing. Unlike others, I just had a good-natured Ah, you sure got me there reaction.

TATTLETALE went in with no crosses because I couldn’t figure out the downs there. I never would have gotten TEMPI, so I wouldn’t have seen INST.

I was thinking a knight needed a “steed.”

Didn’t know VEEPSTAKES, either, but I liked learning the expression.
The Bachelor and The Bachelorette could be annual Weepstakes.

I prefer just a bald pate, but a “rug” is certainly preferable to an awkward, sprayed, desperate comb-over.

I agree that the clue for SOFT G is brilliant. Brilliant.

This one reminds me of one by, again, Sir Berry, from Dec 2, 2004. (Here is the solution.)

Loved this. Thanks, Matt.

BarbieBarbie 5:15 AM  

@Alicia, har, great clue.
Medium-difficult for me because of the W but at least I'm not alone, and I did fix it (via teardown, also).
Enjoyed this puzzle- fresh-feeling answers. Not one of the greats-needed @Alicia to help make the clues equally fresh.
Anyone who hasn't seen the Borowitz Report on Kim the RM needs to go look it up right now. Now that's clever. I can't put more details here because it would attract troll-puke.

Z 5:55 AM  

VEEPSTAKES as an answer didn't bother me, as a phenomenon it does. It's one of those cutesy terms developed in political media indicative of reporting on the race rather than the actual politics of candidates. We get zero discussion in political media about Pence's or Kaine's views and votes but all kinds of discussion of how their selection "plays to the base." Bah.

As for GIVE EAR, @anon12:35 pretty much hit the nail on the head. My search turned up a bunch of dictionary sites followed by bible sites. I guess I wasted enough of my youth in tawdry churches that I could dredge the term out of the muck (I know you know what it means - I just linked because, yes, that's exactly what I mean). If I hear someone use the term today I assume he or she is a charlatan trying to separate me from my money so they can live in luxury. "Cynical" also fits Woody's definition...

Z 5:58 AM  

(and then my link didn't work... tawdry)

Anonymous 6:12 AM  

Take it from a no time medievalist, Hillary is a two time loser.

Chris 6:14 AM  

A MISCALL in poker can also mean when you announce a hand you don't actually have at showdown, ie. you say you have a flush but only actually have four of that suit, you've MISCALLed your hand.

evil doug 6:16 AM  
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evil doug 6:19 AM  

Finally a Thursday to sink my teeth into. And a theme that's both clever for the constructor and useful for the solver. Nice job.

GOBS is outstanding, and BEE is fine too. If the answers had been 'lots'/'tons' or 'tea' we'd be griping about tired crosswordese.

Brandon 6:42 AM  

I guess the Soft G thing is going right over my head other than the literal meaning. Someone care to explain?

Theodore Stamos 7:09 AM  

Great Thursday puzzle! Loved the triple uey in the middle. Agree that the SOFTG clue was the best one.

Theodore Stamos 7:09 AM  

The first and fifth letters of George are a soft g

Irene 7:13 AM  

Did anyone else have trouble with COPSE meaning stand? I guess if you looked at a really good dictionary it might turn up way down on the definitions, but only in the phrase "a stand of trees."

Otherwise, a hard but invigorating puzzle.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Two errant entries cost me a lot of time today. LAdakh before LAHORE slowed things down in the SW, but that wasn’t too bad. Rex’s lOtS/GOBS/tEa/_EaPSTAKES/lIV_EAR, on the other hand, took a lot of time to fix just those four letters.

But, yeah, this was fantastic.

@Lewis, don’t show this to your class, ever … it’ll set the bar much too high. Although it does demonstrate that a puzzle can survive a MISCALL or a NOSEDIN or even the dreaded UEY if the payoff is good enough.

Abby Friedman 7:27 AM  

Can we stop putting pedophiles in the puzzle, even in clues?

Lewis 7:42 AM  
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Lewis 7:43 AM  

@evil -- Yes! I was thinking the same thing. Yesterday, people were discussing constructor feat vs. solver experience, but this puzzle was tops on both counts.
@rex -- I don't understand why "give ear to" is stupid. To me, it's a common phrase I've heard plenty in my life. I'm wondering if it's as strange to most people as it is to Rex.

This was a wow for me. I still can't believe it didn't make Chen's Puzzle of the Week -- something very good must be coming up in the next couple of days. This is one of those memorable ones, one of those special ones, with a brilliant theme, terrific feat (how did he come up with those theme answers?), terrific grit from devilish and clever cluing, and payoff (two big AHAs, one from figuring out the theme, and the second from seeing UEY as the reveal, a word so many commenters here hate -- he must have put that in wth a smile). On top of all that, a mini double-E theme (7).

This is easily among my favorite puzzles of the year, one of those twinkling stars that stand out. Bravo, sir!

QuasiMojo 7:45 AM  

I knew the answer had to be VEEPSTAKES but I couldn't come up with GOBS. I had TONS there before LOTS (since that one seemed too easy for a Thursday). But I guess I got GOB-SMACKED.

Is a VEEPSTAKES really a quadrennial occurrence? If a President indicates he is not going to change his vice-president there is no VeepStakes happening.

Not a fan of UEY or UEI at any time or any place (especially on the road!) People where I live do them right in the middle of an intersection all the time, in front of oncoming traffic. I don't mean the quick sharp left turn thing we all do at times, I'm talking about right smack dab in the center of a four lane intersection when they have a red light! Drives me crazy.

Apparently there are five Adlai Stevensons to choose from.

And finally SOFT G. What do you call the G that is softer than the one in George, the one that is in GIGOT? Or is that just French. Sorry for running on. I promise I am not SENILE. Just a few loose SYNAPSEs.

Oh and @LEWIS, The answer to your query is "If it is contructed by Patrick Berry."

evil doug 7:45 AM  

COPSE MOIST FEELS

Jonathan Alexander 7:51 AM  

Fell into the LOTS TEA GIVEEAR debacle...was thinking, is LIVEEAR a thing (as in "I am lending you a live ear")? And then with VEaP... I knew something was wrong for sure.

Finished the rest and circled back and finally blew it up and figured it out.

Really liked the puzzle, theme was dense and tricky (especially the middle one).

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

The worst answer/clue is tempi/beats. Tempo and beat are very different things in music - "beat" depends on time signature and style, not tempo. Awful.

Two Ponies 7:55 AM  

The double turn in the center made it all worth it.
My version has the clue for 31A marked by two **.
I loved figuring out why.
Matt G. is a real pro.

If you got the George I or V clue didn't you love that feeling?


Trudy Morgan-Cole 8:10 AM  

Great puzzle. I fell into the LOTS/TEA trap, but I made it much, much worse by confusing the Scoville Scale not with the Beaufort Scale but with the Mohs Scale, for some unknown reason. So I confidently wrote in HARDEST, and since the H worked in SOPH, I was unable to see what I'd done wrong even though I was stuck in that corner for the longest time.

Eventually, after staring and staring, it dawned on me that the scale that measures hardness of minerals had a short, one-syllable name, and thus the Scoville scale, whatever it was, must measure something else beginning with H. After that it didn't take long.

chefbea 8:23 AM  

Still do not understand the theme...ok now I sort of do. Love stew and wanted pie crust!!! which I usually do not make myself...buy it pre made!!!

Biff Gnarly 8:26 AM  

Complaining about Formula One as being outside the realm of most Americans (with this being the NYT puzzle) knowledge might be valid. But calling it a niche sport on the other hand seems ugly American parochial. I'd guess that by a lot of metrics its the world's second most popular sport after soccer and more popular than any US racing. And the amount of sponsor dollars that gets put in there is huge. Wasn't Michael Schumacher the highest paid athlete in the world for years?

Hungry Mother 8:38 AM  

Super nice puzzle, but I spent a long time sweating over it. Finally got it with GOBS. Wanted “EDVAC” too long.

ColoradoCog 8:41 AM  

I have to laugh when I read comments that go something like, "Yeah, who the hell says X?? But sorry, Rex, Y is real and legit." Maybe X and Y are both real and legit, and you just don't know as much as you think you do.

G. Weissman 8:44 AM  

Yeah, man! Veepstakes is real! It's current! It's smarter than you and cleverer than you! My veepstakes can beat up your dad! Don't like it? Go suck a veepstakes.

G. Weissman 8:46 AM  

Michael who?

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

Michael O'Keefe also played Danny Noonan in Caddyshack. He saved me in this puzzle.

mathgent 9:05 AM  

I think that falling into the LOTS/TEA trap is what happens to speed solvers. They tend to put in something that fits before seeing whether it's going to work in the larger context.

The Woody Allen line reminds me of the David Foster Wallace line. "Yes, I'm paranoid -- but am I paranoid enough?"

GeezerJackYale48 9:15 AM  

Absolutely loved the puzzle. I was also tickled by Rex "super dumb" and "people know that?" comments about things he didn't know. But the weirdest thing was that I almost instinctively put in "veepstakes" because of a totally unrelated and erroneous train of thought: that this clue referred to the fact that US presidents elected every 20 years between 1860 and 1960 died in office, which could I guess cause "Veepstakes".

Joseph Jakuta 9:19 AM  

I kept screaming for a bit you don't spell it "VEAPSTAKES" that's just not right!

Carola 9:28 AM  

After being a TWO-TIME LOSER on understanding the theme over the past two days, I was happy to see what was going on here pretty early (SALARY CAPS, then back to finding the missing E on TWO-TIM). Nifty theme, fun to figure out. Like @Rex and others, I went with lOtS x tEa, followed by a full erase of that section, and a square-by-square refill of the it's-gotta-be's. VEEPSTAKES was a new one to me.
Favorites along the way: COPSE,PARANOIA,

Tita A 9:37 AM  

@Larry...wracking my rusty Classics Minor brain kept me from seeing the obvious STARS...yes...those twins, sons of Helen, are in fact the Gemini twins, which any self-respecting astronomer or astrologer should know.

@GeorgeB...you're probably right...this was undoubtedly one of Matt's tests for Dr. Fill.

DOOK of the day...NOSE DIN... What you experience when my husband sneezes (always 7 times in a row.)

LOtS/tEa here, wanting a lEAPevent... glad to be in such fine company with that.
Dnfd with TEMPo/oNST. I was fine with that, figuring oNST was some obscure thing that let the constructor make it a thing.
Oh look...it is the Office of National Security Technology.

Matt...really fine Thursday. Just the kind of trickery I like. Oh...except I was really annoyed to have stumbled onto the revealer so early...made it too easy. I try to look all squinty-eyed and jump over the revealers, hoping to figure it out on my own.

More Whit 9:39 AM  

I understand some of the complaints, but this was one of the best solves in weeks. The theme is clever and 43 across is superb. Loved it!

robber 9:47 AM  

Hmmmmm.....i've had a trend going for quite some time now where rex finds it challenging and i found it easy, as well as the opposite,,,,i struggle on many days that rex breezes through....that applies to today's puzzle as well......hmmmm.....parents always said ii was different ;-)
I certainly agree with rex that 25a and 27d were bad! I just didn't think they were solid enough for what was an entertaining puzzle, however good job Matt, i had fun.
Cheers all

Nancy 9:47 AM  

Show this one to your crossword puzzle-solving class, @Lewis! It manages to be both an absolute miracle of construction and a joy to solve. I loved it! But I have one nit about 43A: Neither George I or V is a SOFT G. Rather, they both have a SOFT G. Other than that, a terrific, terrific puzzle. I don't know how people manage to pull these things off.

Mohair Sam 9:48 AM  

Funny happening here. I wanted to "tear it all out" at "lots and tea" and Lady Mohair insisted I not do that - cost tons of time. I finally erased against her will and she immediately yelled GOBS, BEE, GIVEEAR. Women.


VEEPSTAKES not perfect but worth the price of admission. Wanted badCALL poker and bOxed cigars for too long (don't smoke), lost some time. Professional poker playing son says badCALL and MISCALL are different things but MISCALL is a poker term, so that's OK. If you read enough English mystery stories (you should all read every book written by Josephine Tey) you'll be used to GIVE EAR. Yes, I asked my wife if she'd ever heard of a "Modela", we've all done it.

Challenging Thursday, but lotsa fun.

Tita A 9:49 AM  

@Larry...ya got me! Leda was their mom...not HELEN, though would that not have been cool...?!

@Trudy...me too for Mohs scale...I dropped in HardEST, but by the time I got to the T, I was thinking something ain't right.
I was so happy that it gave me SOPH, since I was trying hard to figure out how SOns could fit the clue, that I left it alone.
Since that section was so fraught with misdirection, I kept coming back to it. "It's Mohs for hardness. But there's that H..."

Stanley Hudson 9:52 AM  

GIVE EAR to has been around forever.

And take it from an erstwhile political historian, VEEPSTAKES is an oldie.

Wonder what Sharp is like in department meetings?

Sir Hillary 9:54 AM  

This was great fun. Fabulous use of the UEY maneuver, even better than PB1's gem from 2004 (thanks @LMS). Yeah, the fill is a little compromised by the theme constraints (AFLOWER, anyone?) but not nearly enough to diminish my enjoyment.

Classic Woody. What a great clue.

@Evil -- Spit-take here at your word string. Kudos.

Not sure what makes a misdirect a "dickish trap". I had the same lOtS/TEa error as many others, but when I figured out what was going on, I smiled. My thought was, "Why, you clever SOANDSO" -- not, "You asshole". Isn't this type of thing exactly what we should expect, if not demand, in late-week puzzles? And there's absolutely nothing wrong with GIVEEAR or VEEPSTAKES.

Unknown 10:09 AM  

Going with "tea" instead of "bee" is your problem. It's called a misdirect. Such a baby!
"Rex" should be called "Regina", for all his mincing tantrums. Such a whiny diva.
And Regina Parker failed to give adequate credit to the elegant u-turn construction here.
Breathe, Regina.

jberg 10:14 AM  

I liked it a lot, although I do think the clues for EEL are getting too abstruse. I got the theme before I saw the revealer, so when I reached the latter I wanted it to be U-TURN, which would have required 51D to by NRUT. Hard to clue that one -- "something observed during literal mating season," maybe?

I also liked MODELA sitting there looking incomplete, as if it had to make a u-turn too.

My experience was just like @Loren's - both TWO-TIME & SALARY CAP, and being annoyed at the arbitrariness of the number of letters involved after the turn before I realized what was going on. And the clue for SOFT G went right over my head (@Nancy, @Theodore Stamos explains it in an earlier comment; you must have missed it before you posted).

Me too for lOts, tEa, and lEaP something. But, like many, I think these little deceptions are a virtue, not a vice. And really, BEE is a better answer than tea.

twin before STAR slowed me down, too.

My only problem was PIE SHELL. I call it a pie crust (Hi, @chefbea!); a pastry shell is what you buy to make cannoli, and this seems to be some kind of ugly hybrid.

@Irene, that's exactly the kind of stand that was intended.

@Larry Gilstrap, Helen was their sister, not their mother; all three were children of Leda. Sources differ as to which of them were fathered by the swan, and whether they hatched from eggs. See this picture.

blinker474 10:33 AM  

The 'poker blunder' miscall that I'm familiar with occurs when the player lays down a straight flush, and calls it a flush. He is then stuck with his miscall and loses to a full house. This kind of miscall happened so often in the very low stakes game I host that we introduced "the cards speak for themselves" rule. No matter what you call it, it is what it is.

Joseph Michael 10:34 AM  

Kudos to Matt Ginsberg for the best puzzle in weeks. Loved everything about it, especially the double UEY at the center of it all.

Thought for a while that the Don Rickles remark was "I never." And didn't understand why "rugs" was in quotation marks. So had a tough time in the NW, which was the last area to fall.

Also thought for a while that cigar aficianados might keep their prize smokes "on ice."

MODELA looks more like part of the brain than an automobile. And LAHORE was for me a total guess made easy by the crosses.

Loved Woody Allen's definition of PARANOIA and am reminded of a quote by someone years ago that "We live in an age where paranoids are usually right."

Aketi 10:43 AM  

@ Tita, NOSE DIN is exactly what my husband does too and it's only slightly less disturbing than the trails of dental floss he drops on the floor and doesn't notice.

Got GOBS. Though I can't dissociate it from its other meaning: a lump or clot of a slimy or viscous substance."a gob of phlegm"
So great GOBS of goo came to mind, doesn't help that I have a cold.

After yesterday's' mind-numbring numbered puzzle, the TWO TIME and ONE BY ONE made me hope for a simple number subtheme, I briefly thought of connecting all the numbers yesterday like a connect the dots drawing puzzle, but I would have yielded a tangle of LINEs more messy than the spider webs I discovered under a kitchen cabinet. Wasn't there once a puzzle that connected dots or Os into a picture?

The prior UIE made me doubt plunking UEY. I liked that there was also a EUBIE. Kind of added to the U-factor for M&A.

Dan 10:48 AM  

Amen to that

GILL I. 10:52 AM  

Oooof...What a workout. I was all over the place trying to figure out what I was missing. When I finally got the theme at SALAR/SPACY I decided I really, really like this puzzle. I wasn't liking it at the beginning because I just couldn't see COPSE at 7D nor SYNAPSE at 10D. Never heard the term GIVE EAR. I've only heard the GIVE H*** and I don't think they'd use that here. Also never heard of FLESH out. Really? That's a term? I've seen VEEP STAKES in print somewhere - probably some magazine I read while waiting at the check-out.
STRIKE A BALANCE right dab in the middle is brilliant. The symmetry is brilliant I just wish I understood some of the answers. Why is GORE "Saw" stuff? Didn't know OKEEFE unless it's Georgia and was so sure the ORCA ate the poor squid.
@Larry....Thanks for the morning laugh....!!!!

Tita A 10:56 AM  

@Gill... "Saw" is a horror movie that I never saw, but know that it involves a chainsaw and lots of ensuing GORE.

Btw...fromxwordinfo, from Matt...
"The only thing I was really sad about was seeing the clue for 52-Across change from [Parisian woman?]. I really liked that clue, figuring everyone would think of a *different* misdirection and happily (and with great confidence) put FEMME in the grid."
I gotta agree...

GILL I. 11:15 AM  

@Tita...Thanks (I think) I thought I've seen all the GORE films but never saw SAW. I'm totally immersed in the GORE splashed all over the place in "Game of Thrones." I'm on season 7 and hating it to end. Talk about PARANOIA addiction.
I thought Parisian woman? would have been fabulous but I think that's more of a Sat. misdirect?
P.S. I'm a 13 NOSE DIN. Why, is beyond my ken. My children love to start counting them...and they aren't those little choo noises either. I take the AH to the limit.

QuasiMojo 11:18 AM  

@Nancy -- I think the I and V are referring to the placement of the letter G in George. So "is" would work.

Hartley70 11:39 AM  

Now this is a Thursday puzzle that doesn't leave us whining for a rebus! The theme/gimmick is terrific and the double twist in the center seals the deal for me as best puzzle in a long time.

I thought the fill was excellent too, although that may be because nothing defeated me. I enjoyed COPSE and GOBS/BEE was my first choice. Both PARANOIA and VEEPSTAKES made me laugh because they were completely new to me. Synapse was tough and my last answer.

Great job, Matt!

old timer 12:06 PM  

On paper, all the themers but one had a single STAR next to the clue. One had a double star, and it was a delight to figure out what it was. Last entry too for I also got trapped by that "tea" that turned out to be a BEE.

I was not at all fooled by the Scoville scale. Decades ago my girlfriend and I went to the SF Farmers' Market pretty often, On one occasion, I tried to eat some very hot peppers raw. Later we hopped into our naked bed and tried a little 69. GF soon found out that capsicum invades the mucous membranes -- you can guess where. There was nothing to be done but put our clothes on and postpone the loving until another day.

Ellen S 12:07 PM  

Just wanted to check in. Made the same mistake tEa/lOtS as @Rex, but didn't think that made the puzzle stupid. OFL doesn't like puzzles when they stump him, nor when they don't. Oh, well. I liked it lots, or GOBS. Liked the theme and most of the fill. There was an EEL, and they do seem to be making a comeback, but not on a daily basis. It feels like I haven't seen ERLE in decades. Makes me want to read one of his books (like, true fact, every time I see a Mini Cooper, I have an urge to go home and re-watch The Italian Job. I never have the slightest urge to buy one of the cars.)

@Anoa Bob, all I can say is, I'm glad GIVE EAR isn't often found in common parlance. I'll never even think of it again without remembering your joke.

Ellen S 12:10 PM  

P.s. I used to know the names of Formula I racers but that was 50 or so years ago.

Trombone Tom 12:24 PM  

What a terrific puzzle! And the double UEY in the middle was icing on the cake. A tip of the hat to Matt Ginsberg.

I held off on the tEa/BEE misdirect until I could be sort of sure, although that VEEPSTAKES left me wondering. Hand up for automatically thinking Mohs scale for Scoville.

Calling Formula One a "niche sport" seems awfully parochial.

Kudos to @Alicia Stetson for best clue revision of the day; butt dial, HA!

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Just an FYI,, Lahore is no longer the capital of Punjab....its Chandigarh...

jb129 12:30 PM  

I thought I had it made in the shade for this one when I got "Two Time" for Adlai Stevenson early this am. But then I struggled. I also had Tea for Bee & Soft G was a killer. Great puzzle, Matt Ginsberg

JC66 12:32 PM  

@Anoa Bob

Great joke!

@old timer

Thanks for sharing. ;-)

Me too, for the lOtS/tEa trap. Never heard of VEEPSTAKES and GIVEEAR a vague memory, so it took a while to figure out.

Like most others I thought this was a terrific puzzle.

Surprised nobody's mentioned the juxtapositioning of the beat(s) at 13D & 47D

GILL I. 12:43 PM  

Holy Toledo @old timer. Talk about a hot tamale!

Malsdemare 12:45 PM  

In case someone's keeping score, I'm in the "loved it" group. Personally, I really like misdirects; they're what keep me humble, and the aha I get when I see it's GOBS and BEE is worth the prior frustration. What I hate is being stuck in a place that I can,t get out of because it's all slang, rappers, and sports figures. Thankfully, that doesn't happen a lot.

I really wanted VEEPSTAKES, but that A from tEa was totally messing with my mind. It wasn't til I finally succombed to my instinct there that the rest fell. I don't know whay I know VEEPSTAKES, but I do so I guess, at least here in the midwest among the boomers it's a real thing. And, honestly, while GIVEEAR is a little iffy, it's not nearly as bad as some of the crap we've had foisted on us. I think that's the only "ouch" I saw here so that makes it a super puzzle. Yes, @Lewis, a goal for your students.

When I caught the theme, about a third through, I almost laughed. See, I really wanted SALARYCAPS at 21a, but I'd done TWOTIME as a rebus (me) without the u-turn and ALARY as one square just wasn't going to work. Oddly, I caught the gimmick at the reveal. and so I revisited Adlai, saw the trick, and triumphantly redid SALARYCAPS. Then had a ball seeking out the other themers.

Thanks, Matt.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

If anyone is qualified to speak dickish . . .

Joe Bleaux 1:05 PM  

I saw Matt Ginsberg on a Thursday, so I knew I was in for a sleigh ride. It turned out to be such an enjoyable one that I sincerely take back what I said about ... you know, the gobs and bees. Thanks, MG. @Larry Gilstrap. The gal with the price tag dangling from her hat might've been Castor's aunt, but she was *Cousin* Minnie Pearl to the rest of us. You ain't from around here are you, boy?😉

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

please forgive me if these points have alraedty been made. But reading Rex's post got my goat. Alain Prost was at one time the winningest driver in F1 history. So, yeah Rex people know the professor (Prost's well-deserved nickname). In fact, as I write I realize he was a big part ( rightfully) of the well known and well regarded documentary on Ayrton Senna. As for F1 being a n niche sport. Please!!! How parochial can the bumpkin from Binghamton get? F-1 is huge world-wide. I mean enormous. Waaaay bigger than MLB or the NFl or the NBA, or the EPL. I could go on, but you get the idea. F-1 is by far the biggest and most popular sporting thing in the world.
Coincidentally a co-worker just went home to accept delivery of hos F-1 tickets to the US grand Prix in Austin, Tx.

Rex, you are a tool.

Teedmn 1:25 PM  

I had to get to the reveal to see that TWOTIM did more than a runt-roll (Hi, M&A). And I hesitated there - UEe, Uie, UEY? YES.

RE: NOSE DIN, I'm a reliable tri-sneezer unless I'm exposed to anything topping the Scoville scale. Then I'm in for GOBS of sneezing. We have grown habaneros in our garden for years and this year we have ghost peppers also. We dry them and make a pepper shake out of them, hence the sneeze factor. My husband wears gloves when cutting them up so there's no love interruption. YES, learned from experience.

I backed into GIVE EAR (no comment on the joke). I wasn't touching _I_EE__ until I knew what was going on. BASALT gave me the basis for the EAR.

I circled 43A and 49A as my favorite clues today (for SOFT G and FLEAS).

Thanks, Matt Ginsberg. I'm glad to have a puzzle where I can outdo Dr. Fill.

Bob Mills 1:30 PM  

I finished it, but only after realizing "REASSURE" should be "MAKE SURE" (I like reassure better). Nice puzzle. I agree that "VEEPSTAKES" is not a good answer, but overall it's clever and just hard enough to be fun,

Adam Frank 1:41 PM  

I liked the theme a lot, but got caught by VEEPSTAKES and GIVE EAR - same mistake as OFL and others. Grrr. Had STEED for LANCE, but that got corrected quickly with RAN, so no major problems in that section - and like @Rex, I liked the double UEY in the middle very much - once I figured it out. Great misdirection for FLEAS!

Despite Anonymous (1:19pm), F1 is not big in the US, and the NYT is a US-based puzzle. I live in NYC and I still have never heard of Alain Prost. I figured his name out from the crosses, but I think @Rex's commentary was fair given the intended audience. Overall a good puzzle - I quite agree with other solvers, best puzzle of the week. (A low bar, but still....)

Anonymous 1:44 PM  

Mr. Frank

With or without my comment, F-1 is the biggest sporting endeavor in the world. World wide audience numbers and broadcast rights fees dwarf all other sporting entities. You shouldn't crow about your ignorance. Try to get out more, or least do some reading.

Masked and Anonymous 1:56 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 2:16 PM  

Wow. Superb ThursPuz. Most reasons why are already in the books. Great theme [runt-rolls-with cinnamon twists on em] with ultimate weeject revealer [UEY]. Clever clues. Funny, misty shimmers of desperation. Ahar moments. DER [staff weeject pick]. Fun and feisty solvequest. Rodeo.

Wrong again M&A moments: MISDEAL for MISCALL. TEA for BEE. LOTS for GOBS.
fave fillins: VEEPSTAKES. DIRTBAG. SYNAPSE [with cool clue]. PARANOIA [with cool clue too].

Thanx, Mr. Ginsberg. That's a wrap!

Masked & Anonymo3Us


**gruntz**

Gene 2:46 PM  

Usually disagree with Rex. This time, agree with everything, including the wrong paths taken 😆

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

I was def caught in the LOTS/TEA trap. Also, hadn't heard of a VEEPSTAKES before, but definitely took it as VEEPS' TAKES. 😂

Matthew G. 2:56 PM  

VEEPSTAKES is absolutely a term that gets used by political junkies (both professional and armchair) every presidential election cycle, and I got it off the V. It’s not only not a bad answer, it’s an excellent one and one of the freshest in the grid.

Matthew G. 2:59 PM  

@QuasiMojo — even if the incumbent president keeps his VP, there will still be a VEEPSTAKES for the opposing party.

Matthew G. 3:03 PM  

This is Rex’s wrongest review in a long time. This was one of the best M-Th puzzles in many a moon, and I loved every bit of it. GIVE EAR is pretentious but real, and see above for my thoughts on VEEPSTAKES. I fell into the TEA trap but that was on me, not the puzzle.

Lively theme answers that double back _and_ form in-the-language words in the reverse direction? More, please!

Anonymous 3:32 PM  

No. A miscall in poker is calling yoyr hand wrong. It happens in Texas Hold 'em, but the "cards speak" rule rectifies it. For example, you see and say "Straight, but didn't realize you had a flush" in other games you would not get credit for flush. In hold 'em if someone else points it out, you get the flush.

Larry Gilstrap 3:34 PM  

I stand corrected @Joe regarding the relation of the comedian Minnie Pearl. And @Tita correctly identified that HELEN was actually a sibling of The Twins. How could I have forgotten Leda? Yeats describes the event in Leda and the Swan:

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

Sue Carrington 3:43 PM  

I agree with the stupidity factors and am particularly annoyed because it is my birthday!!! 80 at that!!!

Joe Dipinto 4:02 PM  

I made the LOTS/TEA error as well, and stared at that section for, like, forever trying to figure out what was wrong, since I thought 27d was going to be LEAP-something (as in Leap Year). I also don't get how a COPSE is a stand -- I can't find it defined as such anywhere. And @Anonymous 7:55 is correct: the beat is determined by the time signature (4/4, 3/4), while the tempo is the speed at which the music is played (lento, allegro). They are absolutely not the same thing.

Still, I thought it was an excellent workout of a Thursday puzzle.

Nancy 4:11 PM  

Since I was running out to a doctor's appointment this morning. I didn't read any of the comments. So thank you @Theodore Stamos, @jberg and @Quasi for explaining the SOFT G clue. It turns out (U-turns out?) to have been a very good clue, not a very bad clue.

I also see that others also suggested this for @Lewis's class. Including @Lewis himself! I love it when I love a puzzle and GOBS of other people love it too. Wonderful to be in the same enthusiastic camp as Z, Larry G., Loren, mathgent, Evil, kitshef, Tita, More Whit, Joseph Michael, Hartley and so many more. I agree with those who think it should be Puzzle of the Week. (Of course, we haven't seen the last three, yet.) But this sets a high bar.

AP 4:21 PM  

(Daily reader, scarce commenter here-) This is one of the rare times that I've disliked the puzzle even more than Rex did. Reasons why:

1. Same GOBS/BEE corner that Rex commented on. I like VEEPSTAKES and think it is a perfectly fine answer, even if it's somewhat obscure, but the construction problem is putting a) this somewhat obscure long answer, b) the GOBS/BEE trap, and c) the not-in-the-language GIVE EAR *all in the same spot*.

2. Revealer is crosswordese - spelled-out UEY/UIE is always so awkward-looking. For a theme that depends on U-turns, I would have liked the constructor to work in the full phrase U-TURN(S).

3. Strained fill - often when Rex complains of this, I find that it was stuff I just breezed past and didn't impact my enjoyment of the solve, but today it very much did. Maybe it's because many of the unsatisfying answers were longer, not the usual 3 letter crosswordese: Multiple awkward Italian -I plurals. IDEO prefix. MODELA. INST. Legit-but-overrepresented-in-crosswords ENIAC.

The theme itself was satisfying and well done, but this is one of the few puzzles that left me feeling that the poor execution ruined the value of the theme.

Ralph Phillips 4:45 PM  

I like it!

Anonymous 4:47 PM  

This may have been written previously but I think
that the "uey" clue should have been positioned
near the top so we could have an earlier idea of the
theme.

semioticus (shelbyl) 5:02 PM  

Great theme. Meh fill. Horrible clues.

I mean, your theme is already pretty hard; so why make the clues even more ambiguous? That, on top of the problems Rex has already mentioned, made this puzzle not-so-enjoyable.

I put in AFLOWER a few times and erased it thinking "no way this is going to be a legitimate answer". Alas, I was wrong.

Patrick Butler 5:06 PM  

Loved the execution of the u-turns but the W and SW were brutal. Took forever, though I did get it. Same TEA-LOTS-LEAP(something) as others had. GIVEEAR is awful. SW was also super-hard for me because of TEMPI and ALAIN (who would know that one?). But I disagree with Rex on VEEPSTAKES, which took me a while but is definitely a real thing and made me smile when I got it. I thought SOFTG was a little more unfair in a tough region. And kill ENIAC forever!

Cleared2Land 5:08 PM  

Took me forever to finally complete, but I loved every minute. I've been doing some of the old crosswords in the archives ( they are MUCH harder, trust me) and this puzzle reminded me of some of them. Lately the damn things have been too easy. This one felt like an accomplishment to finish. Fun puzzle.

Matt Ginsberg 5:29 PM  

Most people seem to like this, which is great. I've put a description of how I constructed it on the Wordplay blog.

jae 5:34 PM  

Colbert had a tongue on experience with the Scoville Scale recently.

Orphan Black used a twist on Leda Castor myth as a plot device.

Joe Dipinto 6:31 PM  

@myself 4:02 -- well now I've learned that there's such a thing as a "stand of trees" -- an expression I've never seen/heard before. But at least the clue for COPSE makes sense now.

Anonymous 6:49 PM  

Absolutely horrendous, Worst puzzle this week. I dislike a theme which plays with the structure of the grid, and didn't find this clever at all. "Give ear"?? Please. "aflower"? Not a real word. "make sure"? Weak sauce. Hated it.

robber 6:58 PM  

to the poster who keeps saying that F1 is the biggest sporting competition/franchise (whatever) in the world .......i doubt it comes near too football (soccer in usa)......and i watch a fair amount of F1, so yes Alain was easy for me but it is not that popular in the usa so fair play to those of the solvers that hadn't heard of him

Anonymous 7:09 PM  

Robber,
F1 is the biggest. Surely you can't count all the soccer leagues around the world as a single entity can you? Come now, be reasonable.

Thomaso808 7:56 PM  

According to Forbes, last year the Formula One corporation reported total revenue of $1.8 billion and the ten racing teams that competed in the 21 events that make up F1 reported a combined total revenue of $1.5 billion. The NFL last year had revenue of $14.7 billion, MLB $11.2 billion, NBA $7.0 billion, and England's Premier League $5.8 billion.

Renita Jenkins 7:59 PM  

I do not understand why just because something falls outside your realm of knowledge it is instantly not worth knowing and not worthy of a crossword puzzle.

Anonymous 8:28 PM  

Tom8,
Too tired to explain. Briefly, the f1 Corp is only a part of the equation. F1 as a governing get body is not at all set up like MLB or NFL.
For example, the NFL has very little revenue. It's essentially a pass through entity. The money belongs to the 32 teams. Anyway, Google or wiki f1 ownership. It's byzantine and part of the reason your revenue numbers are bit off.

Alison 8:43 PM  

Loved it too -- and always love your comments 🙂

Mohair Sam 9:26 PM  

@Matt Ginsberg - Love the Parisian woman clue at 52A - it would have killed us, Will shoulda left it in.

Thanks for stopping by.

Chance 10:27 PM  

I had the exact same TEA / LOTS blunder as Rex.

However, my challenge was the opposite: I caught on the to theme, but just didn't know some of this fill. It took me nearly half an hour.

ira schloss 10:28 PM  

Clever is one thing... George IandV...but some were just no fun/stupid, per your comments.
Still respect the challenge of creating these challenging puzzles.

redrube 10:53 PM  

Who's OFL?

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Anonymous 8:10 AM  

@Jual Cytotec etc. Always nice to hear from foreigners on the blog (see above). Actually, I think Rex liked it since he gave it a grudging ok. A great puzzle for him is one where he is challenged but still speeds through it. I thought this was a fantastic puzzle and couldn't figure out what was happening until I came here. I had to do a lot of googling as the answers were out of my wheelhouse.

kitshef 11:16 AM  

@redrube - short for Our Fearless Leader - used to refer to Rex.

Dawn 10:01 PM  

Ha! That was my feeling too.

muskox 3:24 PM  

Beats is not a great clue for TEMPI, which would be better clued as Speeds or Rates. Beats are the accented points in a musical meter, the location or identity of which really has nothing to do with tempo.

Nancy C 5:56 PM  

Lightbulb went on!

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spacecraft 10:25 AM  

Will, or the Times, or both, have become a TWOTIMELOSER this week. I'll just briefly mention yesterday in passing: if you throw that &wich at me at 1-across, I'm not doing your puzzle--and not even entering a blog that day.

And this one! Befuddled, I had to search for a way in, and found it at the most unlikely place. I think all car racing is abysmally stupid and a colossal waste of fuel (drive 500 miles and wind up RIGHT WHERE YOU STARTED--and didn't even see any round-trip scenery for your trouble? Unbelievable) yet somehow when I see the name Prost my brain associates it with ALAIN. I must have left SportsCenter on too long one time. Anyway there it was, and the dessert thing looked like PIEcrust. Head nor tail. Checking 57-down...oh hello, here's the reveal clue! WHAT?! UEY? They're putting that abomination in as the REVEALER???? No way! And it IS PIE CRUST anyway. Nobody says PIESHELL. BAH!

I'll say this: if this crap keeps up here's one guy who's gonna find a new hobby.

spacecraft 10:29 AM  

P.S. Just as Carol said "I need you to pay me a compliment right now" in "As good as it Gets," I need you to print me a Patrick Berry. NOW. And since I didn't scan the grid for s DOD, I'll give it to Helen Hunt. Why not?

Diana, LIW 11:58 AM  

Whoa @Spacey - maybe you need a piece of that pie. I'll have to look in the store today to see what they really do call it, but it's crust in my book, too. And by most folks opinions, you missed a meh yesterday.

Actually, I was pleased to see UEY, that much dreaded runt of puzdom, being used as the revealer for once. Every dog has his day. And the twists and turns were more satisfying than a rebus for me. I noticed the two asterisks on the double turn and thot it was an error, so was pleased to see they had a purpose.

I still ended up with a dnf, due to PARANOId vs. PARANOIA - duh.Made my heart grow WEdRY, I guess.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 12:37 PM  

EUBIE WEARY?

TOOLATENOW to MAKESURE you’re NOT
MOIST and AFLOWER which reveals
that your HOTTEST FLESH is the SOFTG spot,
where he STOPS and COPSE his FEELS.

--- NORA GORE

thefogman 12:43 PM  

It took a bit longer than normal for a Thursday but I managed to finish with no mistakes after quite a few write-overs. The cluing was tricky and at times nasty. In the end I was surprised I found a way to solve this one. I came very close to bailing but persevered. If OFL found this challenging then I guess I can feel okay about the time it took me to solve this one.

thefogman 1:15 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
BS2 1:41 PM  

SYNAPSE MISCALL

INSULT baked goods? ONEBYONE ABASE them as well?
If you’re SENILE with PARANOIA, give those PIES_HELL.

--- HELEN OKEEFE

rainforest 2:56 PM  

Excellent puzzle, and it even has @Spacey (almost) in it.
PIE SHELL - before baking. PIE crust - after baking.

I almost fell into the lots/tea trap, but I knew that GIVE EAR (to) was right, but I still took some time to get BEE.

GEORGE I or V - devious, but good.

Anyway, liked it a lot.

rondo 3:00 PM  

Had that whole NW corner filled and was too dense to get the trick. Must MAKESURE to put on thinking cap, might help SYNAPSEs fire. And I fell into the trap OFL pointed out. And when did you ever see TEMPI and BASSI on the same day?

It’s NOT PARANOIA if you know they’re after you.

If 55d woulda been NoTE we coulda had a MODELo beer instead of a Ford.
And I guess ALAIN is no longer actor Delon. Gotta keep up with F1.

A little research tells me that NORA Helmer was played by STAR yeah babies Julie Harris (1959), Jane Fonda and Claire Bloom (both 1973, different films!!), and Juliet Stevenson (1992). And others in previous versions, you pick the HOTTEST. Based on the play by Henry Gibson. Er, . . . Henrik Ibsen. The Laugh-In guy did that on purpose. You knew that, right?

This puz took GOBS of effort, at least that’s how it FEELS to me.

leftcoastTAM 3:26 PM  

Very, very clever , and too tough for me. Combination of a very tricky Thursday and a challenging Saturday. I'm simply not in that league.

Had the UEY revealer but couldn't figure out what to do with it. Words missing an E, like PRIVAT or TWOTIM? Others missing a U or a Y? No, certainly not that easy. Then what? Beats me (as did TEMPI, for that matter).

So threw in the towel, went to the finished puzzle, filled in the many blanks, and marveled at the ingenuity and skill of the constructor.

Karen Essene 5:25 PM  

Didn't "give ear" sound Shakespearian to anyone else? It's in "King Lear," "Twelfth Night." and "Love's Labour's Lost."

wcutler 3:34 AM  

If you all were as bad at doing these as I am, you'd have found the revealer a lot faster. I do what I can starting at the top, then give up and start up from the bottom, so I had the revealer very early on and had fun using it to help with the answers. I've read comments about puzzles that seem impossible and then, all of a sudden, there they are done and you feel so clever. This was like that for me.

I knew TEMPI was technically incorrect, but it seemed a forgivable stretch to have beats in the corresponding corners.

I kept trying to figure out what S OF TG would be about, finally got it together.

Comments today were fun too. Thanks, y'all.

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