General Mills corn snack bit / THU 11-9-17 / James Luther of R&B / Orator who declared laws are silent in times of war / Battle of 1797 Napoleon victory

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Challenging (though once you grasp the theme, it's not hard at all)


THEME: BACK — phrases ending in "BACK" have, instead of the word "BACK," the penultimate word in the phrase turned "BACK" around (i.e. reversed)

Theme answers:
  • "WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK" --> "WE'LL BE THGIR" 
  • "I TAKE THAT BACK" --> "I TAKE TAHT"
  • "THERE'S NO TURNING BACK" --> "THERE'S NO GNINRUT"
  • "GUESS WHO'S BACK" --> "GUESS SOHW"
  • "... AND DON'T COME BACK" --> "... AND DON'T EMOC"
Word of the Day: UBS (36A: Credit Suisse rival) —
UBS AG is a Swiss global financial services company, incorporated in the Canton of Zurich, and co-headquartered in Zürich and Basel. The company provides wealth management, asset management, and investment banking services for private, corporate, and institutional clients worldwide, and is generally considered to be a bulge bracket bank. In Switzerland, these services are also offered to retail clients. The name UBS was originally an abbreviation for the Union Bank of Switzerland, but it ceased to be a representational abbreviation after the bank's merger with the Swiss Bank Corporation in 1998. The company traces its origins to 1856, when the earliest of its predecessor banks was founded. UBS has over CHF 2.8 trillion in invested assets, and remains a leading provider of retail banking and commercial banking services in Switzerland. It is the biggest bank in Switzerland, operating in more than 50 countries with 59,387 employees around the world, as of 2016. (wikipedia)
• • •

This managed to combine being very hard with being very stale (theme-wise). Me, after spending a long time trying to figure out the theme: "Oh ... you just turn the answers ... back ... great." I've actually seen variations on this reversal sort of thing before, though maybe not quite in this way. The whole thing is deadly, until you "get" it, and then it's just a boring sprint to the end. Took me about 8 minutes (ridiculously high for a Thursday), of which 5 or 6 were probably spent just trying to understand the theme. After I got it, the rest was no sweat. I knew something was off, so I went looking for a rebus. I kept thinking of the phrase "We'll be back after this" and kept trying to see how that concept might fit into the space for the first theme answer. Then wanted "I take it back" for the next theme answer, but couldn't make that do anything either. I could see "back" was involved, but didn't know how. Then ... honestly, I don't know the exact moment the concept snapped into focus. It was probably after having finally worked out most of the end of the third themer, checking All the crosses, realizing they were all unimpeachable, and then ... there it was. Turning, back. It was a legit "aha" moment, which is nice to get, but it was less "wow" and more "ugh, jeezus, how did I not see that hack idea earlier!?" Shame on me.


I think INGRAM (5A: James or Luther of R&B) might create problems for some; crosses ultimately seem fair, but if you don't know that name, that part UP TOP could get very, very rough.  So many things I didn't know. MORDECAI? Big whiff. Needed tons of crosses. I just stared at 8D: Agcy. issuance wondering a. if an uglier clue had ever been written, and b. what the hell it meant. I had RE- and *still* no idea what letter was supposed to round it out. Had SPORT instead of SHIRT for 23A: Polo, for one (as the clue writer clearly intended). Didn't know who wrote "The Black Tulip." Barely know UBS (Are there a lot of three-letter banks? It seems like there are). Getting to DECAL from [Transfer] took me forever. Things were just rough all over. But all that struggle came before I got the theme. Afterward, no sweat. There's still too much junk in this grid (PSY, ONAT, REG, HOOHA (!), ICER, NIA, NOL, OER... YARNED?!!?), but overall it's at least NYT average. All the longer Downs are just fine. I just wish the payoff on this theme had been more ... rewarding.


The only thing really amusing me is the crazy menu in the center/east, where a BANANA EGGO is being served with a side of BUGLEs and a shot of STOLI. I am not sure those things GO WELL together. If anyone wants to try that combo out, please report back.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

102 comments:

Pete 12:12 AM  

I'm with Helen

Steve Reed 12:14 AM  

YARNED?

Mark 12:19 AM  

Ditto on the objection to PSY as "liberal arts dept"

puzzlehoarder 12:29 AM  

This was a fun puzzle. The first theme entry at 17A was obvious as far as what it should be. I was thinking of some kind of rebus to make it fit.

Not knowing INGRAM and a couple write overs in the north center kept me from getting the theme at the outset.

As it was the fill allowed me to go right down west side of the puzzle filling in the unreversed sections of the themes along the way.

58A may have been where the theme lightbulb went off. After that it was a mop up.

The anagrams in the SW and NE corners along with SPRY in the SW didn't bother me all.

a.corn 12:33 AM  

Went looking for a rebus straight away in NW, and after moving on had GUESSSOHW from the downs. After a solid :30 of staring at it, had more of an OH, duhhhhh moment than aha- but nice regardless. YARNED was brutal, and ADAGE took longer than it should have. Psychology is 100% a department in the liberal arts, not sure why the HOOHA around that clue.

MInimal Google search 12:37 AM  

"Some typical examples of liberal arts majors include English, foreign languages, environmental science, biology, earth science, political science, religious studies and psychology."

Don of Math 12:48 AM  

Clue for 7 Down is inaccurate; GCHAT is no longer an option for instant messaging, since google took it away in favor of hangouts.

Anoa Bob 1:16 AM  

Got my undergrad and grad degrees in psychology from state universities where it was in the "liberal arts dept", so no issue with that. It's the PSY that looks weird, like it's missing a letter or two.

For today's PSYC 3904 assignment, compare and contrast INNER BEAUTY with PRIMAL URGES. Are they mutually exclusive or are they BOTH part of the WHOLE?

Johnny Jack Johnson 1:40 AM  

"This managed to combine being very hard with being very stale (theme-wise)."

The gimmick wasn't stale at all.

Puzzle was hardish because of the trivia and some difficultish clues/entries.

Nice Thursday puzzle.

Mike in Mountain View 1:41 AM  

Nice one @Anoa Bob.

I had anIMAL URGES before PRIMAL ones. Maybe that was my INNER BEAsT_.

Tom 1:45 AM  

It’s PSYch, not PSY. Never heard anyone say “I’m a PSY major.” Also object to YARNED. That’s a nonexistent verb. That’s HOOHA, which I always thought was a synonym for BS. got the trick about three-fourths of the way through and appreciate the cleverness...sort of.

Joel 1:59 AM  

While one certainly might object to PSY over PSYch, the notion that psychology isn't in the liberal arts is laughable. Virtually every liberal arts college/school of arts and sciences/whatever in higher education is going to have a psychology department. Psychology is one of the core social sciences, and the social sciences are a third of the liberal arts, along with the humanities and the natural sciences.

chefwen 2:03 AM  

Hand up for looking at back to be a rebus, just couldn’t figure where to squish it it. Like Rex, the AHA moment came a little late, but it did come and make the puzzle a lot easier.

My favorite was AND DONT EMOC back. Have wanted to say that to a few people, but lack the nerve. We actually had a business associate of my husband come for dinner who started moving our living room furniture around and said “it works better this way”. Who does that?

Loved the puzzle, fun Thursday.

Rev. Joseph Rockhead, S.J., M.R.I., D.W.P. 2:16 AM  

I got the theme at 1 Across and tore through the puzzle, finishing in 18.537 seconds.

I want to be cloned just so I can shake my own hand.

Mark 2:38 AM  

OK. I'll prepare myself not to be too surprised if I ever see BIO clued as "liberal arts dept"

Gerry Kahle 3:02 AM  

Didn't know RIVOLI or ENID. Guessed "i" but could have easily been Naticked there.

Loren Muse Smith 4:03 AM  

Hah! Yeah – this was really tough until I got the trick. That aha moment was so satisfying.

Unlike Rex, I haven’t seen this kind of trick so much. Played around with it at one point. Ahem.

Liked the clue for SOLAR CAR. And I appreciated WE’LL BE THGIR in this AD AGE. They’re never right back. It’s usually 4 or 5 minutes. Crazy.

I didn’t have the same reaction as some to HOO HA, but now I can’t help but notice its position right next to INNER BEAUTY.

And while I’m still in the gutter, PRIMAL URGES crosses RUT.

@nanpilla pointed something out to me at my first ACPT: SPRY is reserved for old people. It’d be weird to tell a mom that her TOT is SPRY, right?

SHIRT went right in; didn’t think “sport.” And I liked the two consecutive mob clues (5D and 6D) and two consecutive wine clues (12D and 13D).

A fine Thursday offering, Bruce! I’ll go stand over with @puzzle hoarder and @Johnny Jack (after I rearrange @chefwen’s furniture) - I really liked it.

I WANT UOY

(From yesterday – I admired all of your theme suggestions. I was impressed. @Mike, @Tita, @Nancy, @M&A – bravo! I couldn’t come up with one. I got stuck on “pinpricks” but never brought it home. Paul, Ivanka, N _ _. Putin, Idi (Amin), Noriega.)

Anonymous 5:40 AM  

Man, that Helen Rosner sure is a snowflake.

Lewis 5:59 AM  

Toughness, satisfying aha, and big smile on the clue for BOTH (which had me thinking "olio"). This puzzle gave me a fair fight all the way to victory, and that is a recipe for a terrific experience -- a delicious solve.

Mr. Haight, for this I thank you. You deserve A BIG PAT ON EHT!

clk 6:18 AM  

Do you suppose the ICER ever YARNED about his work for NITTI? Ugh, ugh, ugh. Fun theme that gave a satisfying aha moment but some really ugly fill.

Entering iCHAT and not knowing INGRAM didn’t help, nor did the unknown RIVOLI, ENID, NIA section.

Lots of universities use 3 letter dept codes for classes so PSY is fair game even if it sounds awkward.

kitshef 7:20 AM  

Super theme, so I’ll put up with some lumpy fill.

Puzzle definitely played hard for me, even after getting the them. I never got rolling – just pecked away here and there until eventually, it was all done except for the comical INGRAM/NITTI/GCHAT mess, which against all reasoning, I got right. And that was after navigating the NIA/RIVOLI/ENID hooha.

Helen Rosner’s tweet is incorrect on both of her assertions.

PSY/SPY/SPRY/RYE/CRY. ¡Caray!

Anonymous 7:22 AM  

I HAIGHTed this one.

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

Quite a nice puzzle. The "trick" resulted in an AHA moment for me. Just because speed solver REX got bogged down, doesn't mean the puzzle is poorly constructed, stale, unfair or otherwise boring.

"Hack idea"? I think not

Anonymous 7:32 AM  

pic love how it's a drake idea he admits he's never exactly seen before. but the little snowflake wouldn't finish the puzzle fast and so he tears it apart. seriously, rex, just do something else.

Gretchen 7:32 AM  

Bring Bruce THGIAH soon for another puzzle that is this much fun.

Tita A 7:39 AM  

Running out this morning, so only time to say,

This morning I was reading a financial blogger that I follow...his lead story was "Why are most bank names just acronyms?"

And...
I loved this theme. Just what a Thursday should be.

Birchbark 7:54 AM  

I finished in 6:39, which is a very fast Thursday for me (10-11 is more typical). Turns out I was in the archives and had solved the puzzle for Tuesday, November 29. It can happen when solving before fully awake.

OT THE FUTURE, some of the PSY sensitivity over today's puzzle may stem from a fear that if psychology is a liberal art, it is not a "real"science like physics or chemistry. This kind of debate has emptied many a pitcher of beer, akin to whether GREEN GOBLIN could beat the Joker in an arm-wrestling competition.

Howard B 8:00 AM  

A bit harsh today... theme was solidly done and fun to discover. Psych. is often liberal arts, so that is ok; but the abbr. is questionable. It's possible that this was reclued on edit, though only Bruce and Will can say for sure ;).
Small fill was a little rough, long fill was nice, and overall, I had fun with this, which is ultimately the goal. Thanks!

Brett 8:07 AM  

My first DNF in over a half a year because of the cross of INGRAM and GCHAT. I absolutely could not get away from the idea that it was ICHAT, and I’ve never heard of James Ingram or Luther Ingram, so that didn’t help.

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

I’m with Brett. DNF because of Ingram and gchat.

Unknown 8:28 AM  

Banana pie? Never had. Only banana cream pie.

sidneyellenwade 8:38 AM  

Hard hard hard, but a great AHA moment! Also got balled up in "Iniram" and "iChat." My only real complaint--BANANA Pie? Come on.

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

There was a woman who claimed Taco Bell was racist because they would not serve her french fries. Helen Rosner makes her look like a genius.

ColoradoCog 8:41 AM  

My solving experience was almost identical to what Rex described, other than being multiples longer timewise, and other than enjoying the puzzle quite a bit. At the point where I was about 150% of my normal Thursday time, I had only about 30% of the grid filled in and I was thinking seriously that this would be the first NYT puzzle in over a year to completely kick my butt. But then I got the theme, and the whole thing collapsed like a, well, you know. It feels gross to say that phrase these days.

mathgent 8:41 AM  

@Rev. (2:16): Bravo!

Terrific puzzle. Bruce Haight invariably delivers.

I get turned off when a puzzle has too much junk. I'm going to start keeping track to get an idea of what my limit is. I make today's junk to be HOOHA, ICER, NIA, UTA, and YARNED. That's not too much. Rex would add PSY, ONAT, REG, and NOL (perhaps for political reasons) but I disagree. Especially on REG -- government regulations are in in the news quite a bit lately.

UTA is borderline. She won two Tony's but I haven't seen her name mentioned in my careful reading about the theater for years.

Two Ponies 8:42 AM  

So fun and satisfying, thanks Bruce H.

@ chefwen 2:03 Someone rearranged your furniture? That's a new kind of crazy!

The air up here is full of the aroma of primal urges as the rut is on in deer and elk country. Those bulls do bugle.

I'm OK with yarned. It reminds me of David Copperfield and Peggity's family of fishermen.

All of the hooha about Psy is hilarious and so predictable.

Of all of the amusing comments so far @ Rev. Joe 2:16 takes the cake...or perhaps the banana pie!

Stanley Hudson 8:44 AM  

Enjoyed this one a lot.

LOL @ Rev. Rockhead, who I suspect is the dude From Accounting who, I’ve wondered, might be Fountains of Golden Fluids.

Oldflappyfrommississappy 8:52 AM  

Rikki Don’t Smoke That Number

Ken Aaron 8:53 AM  

I liked that! I thought the theme was fun and a nice a-ha moment. Though I'm not sure about YARNED.

Nancy 9:03 AM  

What a great week this is TURNING out (not back) to be! Another fun, imaginative, crunchy puzzle. Like yesterday's, it's hard until you get the trick and then it's easy after that. The trick is getting the trick. Isn't that the whole point, Rex? Oh, never mind, why ask him?

Started out with goTTI instead of NITTI. I TAKE TAHT straightened me out. INGRAM was a complete guess. It gave me GCHAT, which could have been ECHAT or ICHAT, for all I knew. That was the only really hard section for me, other than the theme answers. I don't much like DECAL for transfer and I really, really don't like YARNED. Are crosswords ruining the language? Well, even if they are, they can be a lot of fun, as today's certainly is.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

I screamed at the sky last night, but I woke up this morning and I'm still stupid.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

Urban Dictionary has several ways to use yarned besides telling tales. So kwicherbitchin and get hip.

Arden 9:23 AM  

Took a tad longer than the normal Thursday for me, but fair and fun. Got the theme at 58 across, then went back and everything fell into place.

Z 9:38 AM  

Gob Smacked. Here, before anyone else does the blog equivalent of sticking their foot in their mouth, check out this fine primer on liberal arts. And, yes, PSYchology and biology are both very much a part of a good liberal arts education. Interesting to be reminded that “liberal” shares it root with “liberty.” You really can’t be free unless you have a liberal education. Otherwise you are just a slave to your ignorance.

DNF at INGRAM. I spent many a precious nano-second wondering what Luther Vandross and James Brown (or maybe Etta James) had in common. iCHAT didn’t help.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

You're clearly a racist.

Nancy 9:45 AM  

@kitshef and quite a few others -- You are all the sweetest people and I know you mean well, but why did you have to mention "Helen Rosner" today? I know you had nothing positive to say about her -- a very good thing, I would AVER -- but I'm a curious person and, when I couldn't find her in the blog comments, I went back to [gasp] read Rex, where I found Helen's inane tweet lurking. One of the great things about not reading Rex and not being on Twitter is that I don't have to read any inane tweets. Compared with the inanity of the tweets that Rex sees fit to print on this site, Rex's writing is a combo of Plato and Shakespeare. Everyone says Don't Feed the Trolls. Well I say Don't Feed the Twitterers. Or twits, as I like to call them.

Speaking of twits: He really walked in and rearranged your furniture, @chefwen???? Good grief!

Steve M 9:46 AM  

Ruined breakfast for this???!!!

Sir Hillary 9:46 AM  

Did not like this one at all. The theme idea is fine, but the themers themselves are boring -- simply longish phrases that end in "back".

I would have preferred to mix it up a bit with things like RETRAUQSNEAK, PMUHWHALE, YGGIPRIDE, etc.

ALSO, for some reason this felt like a slog of 3-letter crap. Those corners are hideous. Is 21 3-letter entries a lot for a 74-word Thursday?

In massive contrast to yesterday, there are no fun entries at all. NEWIDEAS, meet green paint. SOLARCAR, YARNED...there was one?

A wine-related clue for YEAST, but not for SYRAH? Um, okay.

The puzzle is legit, and it all fits together, but what a bore. IWANTMYYENOM.

DavidL 9:50 AM  

Also Naticked by INGRAM and NITTI (I had ichat).

Puzzle trick was great, don't understand Rex's kvetching.

PRIMAL URGES - sweet. YARNED - lame.

P.S. if "lame" is to be disqualified as an acceptable word in polite company, what's a good substitute? "Pathetic" is too strong. "Weak" is too...weak.

Tim Pierce 9:53 AM  

INGRAM crossed with NITTI and GCHAT is absolutely not a fair cross, between the NITTI/goTTI confusion and the GCHAT/iCHAT ambiguity. Combine that with the weird vague clue for REG and the off-kilter ICER and that section nearly stumped me. The theme by comparison was an easy get (and one I liked a lot). Granted that it’s Thursday, but there was just too much weirdness crammed into that top pocket.

evil doug 10:12 AM  

I love it when someone pipes up like only they hold the final, authoritative truth about something, and get their lunch handed to them. AND DON'T EMOC, Helen....

Mike Rees 10:29 AM  

INGRAM crossing NITTI was a Natick for me. Also STOLI crossing NISEI. I still don’t know what that second one even is. Got the theme exactly the same way Rex did, and literally all the themers were my first entries in the grid.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Neither Rex or Helen has inner beauty.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Was Helen a student in Professor Sharp's comic book class?

Mohair Sam 10:37 AM  

Note to self: Fire off still another email to ARI Shapiro requesting he change his name to Ira so as to save me a ton of time on crossword puzzles. I will never get that right.

Enjoyed this one like most of y'all. Dynamite "aha" moment - got ours with GUESSSOHW. Great clue for SOLARCAR. I have never seen a character in a movie nor read of one in book named MORDECAI who was under 60 years old, they must be born at 55. Don't speak too loudly @Rex, the way they're flavoring hard liquor these days there may soon be a BUGLE VODKA on the market. Always remember - There is no "GN" in rut.

@Anoa Bob (1:16) - Nice.

@Loren - RUT? - I cannot believe you caught that one. What Joseph Welch said to Joe McCarthy.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

Neither nor ? Sorry pedants.

RavTom 10:44 AM  

PSY is legit. Many universities use 3-letter codes for departments, such as in a course catalog.

relicofthe60s 10:47 AM  

The liberal arts include the humanities, the sciences, and the social sciences, of which psychology is one. Apparently a lot of people think the liberal arts means the humanities. I liked the puzzle.

Carola 11:05 AM  

In the newspaper, UP TOP, above the puzzle is an ad for a book entitled Mind Game, which I thought was an apt placement for a Thursday. The tagline is "The mind can play tricks that kill." Fortunately, I didn't find the puzzle lethal. I poked and prodded 17A long enough that I saw how the trick worked, aided there by enforced childhood Bible reading (MORDECAI) and a high school crush on steel-jawed Robert Stack ("The Untouchables"..."with Bruce Gordon as Frank NITTI - loved him next to his ICER). I enjoyed anticipating how "back" would function in the rest; favorite: GUESSSOHW, but AND DON'T EMOC is great as the parting shot.

Hartley70 11:08 AM  

Terrific Thursday! I'm with @mathgent.

I generally get a little tense when I see Bruce Haight is the constructor, but today I was in sync with him. It took me a while to understand this wasn't a rebus. I saw the trick when I realized that THGI in 17 across more commonly appears in reverse. That was an aha moment that was just as pleasurable as the beloved rebus.

Getting INGRAM was key to the THGI clue and I pushed the Staples button, "that was easy". I think I spent years in the car listening to James Ingram and Linda Ronstadt sing Fievel Mousekewitz's theme song, "Somewhere Out There" as I drove my OBSESSed 2 and 4 year olds around town. "An American Tail" OBSESSed them until "La Bamba" came along. "Arriba Arriba"

I wonder just how many of us had to sing the chorus of "American Pie" to get 16a?

jberg 11:13 AM  

Yeah, I was thinking that thing about 'liberal arts' = 'humanities' myself until I read the comments. Big advantage of getting here late.

Loved the puzzle, loved the gimmick -- and transfer = DECAL is a virtue, not a fault; it's a beautiful misdirect.

As for REG, didn't we have that 2 or 3 days ago, with a similar clue? Or was that some other puzzle. Also EMISSARY, but clued somewhat differently.

I not only forget which end Mr. Shapiro's name starts at, but I get him confused with Ira Glass as a result. But once again, my IRA saved me -- big advantage of being retired.

I knew SOLAR CAR was a trick, but I was looking for something about a prison; though since prisons generally don't have cars in them, that was hard.

@Sir Hillary -- I don't get it. If a variety of grape isn't 'wine-related,' what is?

What I learned today: how the Rue de RIVOLI got its name.

old timer 11:15 AM  

Really, today's column is about as close as OFL ever gets to praising a puzzle from Haight.s

INGRAM was my last entry. It just seemed logical though I forgot about those INGRAM brothers.

Almost Naticked at RIVOLI. But the Rue de RIVOLI is a very important street in central Paris. I figured Napoleon could have given it that name.

Masked and Anonymous 11:32 AM  

First of all, I am flat-out impressed with a capital FO. Mr. Haight has splatzed down 30 -- count em -- 30 NYTPuzs in just 4 years. And I don't recall @RP ever likin a single one of em. [Do U remember one he ever really liked, @Haightmeister? "Liked" is a kinda misty term, I'll grant. How'bout one he didn't darn near annihilate with the @RP Haight-Ray, then?] Awesome record, just for the 30-count, anyhoo. Congratz, BH.

har. Puz constructioneerin is 50% persperation and 50% desperation. And I ain't singlin out the bottom South-Central zone today for its sweatiness. YARNED is stupendous. And it ain't there to valiantly preserve the likes of RIVOLI, DVR, NIA, and ENID, I'll betcha. The only thing I've seen today that's tougher to figure out than that there puzzone was "vag cc" (yo, @hels-a-tweetin). And I ain't altogether positive I wanna know what "vag cc" translates to, tho. Break it to m&e gently*, other nice Comment Gallery folks.

Got the theme mcguffin instantly, off the first themed clue I saw, at 17-A. There could be 2.5 possible reasons for this:
* I've seen this theme before somewhere. Think I have, but can't prove it to myself. I'm a tough sell -- especially on notions promulgated by myself. In any case, it's a great mcguffin, and deserves a second go-round, or EMOC, if U will.
* M&A is so adept at thinkin up weird theme ideas, he thought this one up instantly, just merely inspired by the puzclue alone. Well, that ain't happenin.
* M&A has used this general sorta back-up shtick about 250 times in runtpuz double-?? clues. There yah go. Bingo. [Recent example: Clue: {Deerg. Edirp. Or tsul.} Answer: NIS.]

staff weeject pick: PSY. Mostly cuz it spawned so many fun(ny) commentz. Didn't really lose any precious nanoseconds, on its account.

Great ThursPuz. Fun(ky) good. Thanx, Mr. Haight.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

* "Break It To Me Gently" = still another Brenda Lee hit from the 60s.


**gruntz**

Chris 11:48 AM  

Fun puzzle. I got the trick very early, which made it easier. Played well under my Thursday average, although I think the average must be skewed by some really long times when I left the puzzle open. Had GATTI before NITTI, but was sure enough of INGRAM when the other downs went in. Big dummy play was misspelling Who's so had LOOKESOHW, but got that untangled after INNERBEAUTY revealed itself.
Thanks, Bruce!

Puzzler 12:00 PM  

That North Dakota area had ALL PPP in it, 6A, 15A, 5 6 7 8 9 10D. Give me a HOOHAing break.
This puz needed to be TNES.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Two naticks in on puzzle?
Ingram/Nitti & Nia/Rivoli..

Trombone Tom 12:14 PM  

What a fun puzzle to start my day! I stumbled around on the themers until the light finally went on with 58A. After that it was smooth sailing except for that INGRAM/ICER cross, because I didn't know INGRAM. Eventually went with ICER and was able to complete things.

Also I didn't know Battle of RIVOLI, but the crosses were fair. Of course, I've heard the different usages of HOOHA, but my first choice was the correct one.

Things like BANANA and PSY don't really bother me. C'mon, man, it's a crossword and it's Thursday.

Thanks Bruce Haight and EMOC again soon.

JC66 12:18 PM  

Unknown 8:28 AM said...

"Banana pie? Never had. Only banana cream pie."

What'd it taste like? (Clue asks for pie flavor).


mmorgan 12:34 PM  

I thought this was crunchy and fun -- and yes, much easier once the theme was grokked. I got it almost simultaneously with GUESS SHOW and AND DONT EMOC. (I was then half-expecting to see BABYS TOG somewhere.)

Even though getting the theme made it easier, I got hung up with goTTI for 6D and iCHAT for 7D. And having no idea about INGRAM (especially having -GI-AM) left me in the lurch.

But figuring out the theme was fun.

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:38 PM  

DECAL and ADAGE crossing was what messed me up. Since English is my second language, obscure synonyms sometimes fly right over my head. Now I know what both are. Education!

I'm somewhat prejudiced against Haight's puzzles, so this one was a pleasant surprise. The theme offered a legit "ha!" moment. But after that the fill became a drag again, with clues that I find, um, OK whatever I say here is gonna sound ageist so I will shut up. 3/5 from me.

Ethan Taliesin 1:11 PM  

It was rather hard, but I thought it was one of the best puzzle in weeks. Did not know (battle of) RIVOLI

Teedmn 1:28 PM  

I have to thank SYRAH for my theme aha moment. That let me go BACK to 17A and finish what WE'LL BE started. I'm pretty sure I saw REG in another puzzle (non-NYT I think) this week clued as "Agcy. issuance" so REG went right in.

I suddenly developed dyslexia when looking at 39A. I knew the theme and had RUT and decided it must be a backwards TRUTH. It made MORDECAh hard to believe but I turned that back handily to GNINRUT. I was worried about a DNF at NOL crossing MEDLEY - I had never heard of the swim event. Do you do a MEDLEY of swimming strokes? Google says yes!

Reading @Rex's comment on 23A made me laugh - I'm so not into sports that SHIRT went right in without hesitation (hi @LMS). And I enjoyed wracking my brain for a word ending in L that meant "transfer" - nice clue.

Great story, @chefwen. That person must have been some feng-shui freak. (Did you keep the furniture in the new arrangement?)

Thanks, Bruce Haight, for a fun theme and a Thursday challenge.

Bob Mills 1:32 PM  

This puzzle made me made as a rattlesnake, in particular a DNOMAID.

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

Told the truth, "Nonyarned."

Tom Rowe 1:50 PM  

I have a PhD in psychology. I always thought it was a science, not liberal arts. Boo. I also thought yarned was a bit strained.

mathgent 2:14 PM  

If you need your Thursday rebus fix, try today's WSJ. It's credited to Alice Long. Is that a real person or one of Mike Shenk's pseudonyms? Do any of you constructors know?

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

Happy MAGA Day!

Hungry Mother 2:22 PM  

Major fail on proper names and a junk cereal. At least our President has inner beauty.

Fred Romagnolo 2:46 PM  

I had aCER & aNtRAM & tCHAT; otherwise O.K. Got the gimmick on ANDDONTEMOC. Surprised the heck out of me to learn that science was one of the Liberal Arts; I knew about Humanities and Social Science (in which I got my degree, and credential). Another AVER-avow choice, but crosses often (as here) help out. After all, only Elmer Fudd would say CwY ( am I being a vocal-problemsist here? Hard to keep up.

Fred Romagnolo 3:01 PM  

Ditto objection to YARNED, but crosses were fair.

Joe Dipinto 3:46 PM  
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Joe Dipinto 3:50 PM  

No Star Wars references, so I'm happy. The theme idea was fine, imo.

Fun fact: Don McLean of "American Pie" fame went to IONA college in New Rochelle, Westchester county, where he grew up.

And some people believe the line in the song is "Them good old boys were drinking whiskey in Rye," as in the neighboring town of Rye, New York -- since the drink rye is a type of whiskey, "whiskey andrye" is sort of redundant. I guess we'll never find out for sure which is correct, or if it matters.

chefwen 3:58 PM  

@Teedmn - Hell no, after I got done gaping at him I said “what the HELL are you doing” and moved it all back.

Anonymous 4:13 PM  

I was too depressed to get any writing done today, or get a real job. Oh well, mom and dad will bail me out.

tkincher 5:15 PM  

Count me in with the ICHAT/GCHAT GOTTI/NITTI INGRAM? CICERO? crowd. The rest of it went fairly smooth once the themer clicked (I got it on the "guess who's back" entry).

I keep hearing good things about the WSJ puzzle. They need an app...

Anonymous 5:26 PM  

Looks like Louis C.K. won't be on Colbert tonight.

Joe Dipinto 5:36 PM  

@Anon 5:26 -- And the premiere of his new movie was cancelled.

Anonymous 5:43 PM  

Damn, those two jokesters were really going to have some yuks.

Sometimes gullible 5:47 PM  

@Hungry Mother (2:22) You ARE kidding, are you not? Please, please tell me/us that you're kidding!

COIXT RECORDS 6:06 PM  

You don't HAVE to keep doing crosswords, you know.

Joe Dipinto 6:14 PM  

@mathgent 2:14 -- No idea if the byline is connected to this, but "Alice Long" was the title of a 1968 song by the duo Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, who wrote "Last Train To Clarksville" and other songs for the Monkees.

ChE Dave 6:27 PM  

Didn’t know Ingram, the only mob bosses I know are Gotti and the Corleones. Didn’t know there was GChat either. Inferred Nitti because it sounded correct. And maybe “Iniram” was some kind of R&B thing I don’t know about.

Otherwise, agree this was easy once the theme fell into your lap. Kind of boring for a Thursday.

Norm 7:44 PM  

Liked the puzzle. Did not know the Battle of RIVOLI. Wanted TIVOLI but was pretty sure Napoleon never made it to Denmark.

Totally off the wall, but Rivoli is my favorite restaurant in Berkeley, California. If you're ever in town, given them a try. The Portobello fritters are to die for.

Tita A 8:13 PM  

@Joe DiPinto...and here I thought he went to New Rochelle High.
Good catch!

Tita A 9:07 PM  
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Tita A 9:34 PM  

Love the extra themers from the Peanut Gallery today.
And thanks for the kudos from yesterday.
@Nancy - Speaking of which, I just got yours...!!!

Hungry Mother 7:36 AM  

I’m kidding, sorry! Just pissed at the puzzle.

Anon 8:12 AM  

Never got close. The theme eluded me. But unlike Rex, I knew both Mordecai and Ingram and just wrote them in

Outside The Box 9:15 AM  

Agree. Not stale. Hard but rewarding when finished.

Space Is Deep 11:15 AM  

8 minutes? Try two days. But I had fun.

Unknown 5:37 PM  

Those little “dot dot dot”s are ellipses, plural of ellipsis.

John 10:36 PM  

Best comment ever. Definitely made me lol.

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