Archaeological handle / TUE 12-19-17 / Fate who cuts thread of life / 2000s teen drama set in Newport Beach

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Constructor: Andrew Kingsley

Relative difficulty: Challenging (for a Tuesday)

THEME: CANDY CANE (36A: Christmas tree decoration ... or a hint to what the circled letters form) — circled squares form four cane shapes, each of which contains the name of a brand of candy. Top of the grid has related answer pair: SWEET / TOOTH (4A: With 14-Across, weakness for sugar):

Word of the Day: ANSA (33D: Archaeological handle) —

noun, plural ansae
Archaeology. a looped handle, especially of a vase.
Astronomy. either of the apparent extremities of the rings of Saturn or of other planets, especially when viewed from the earth or from spacecraft under certain conditions, when they look like two handles. (
• • •

I'm sitting here wondering how, in nearly 2018, so much Maleskan garbage is being allowed into a Tuesday crossword grid. I haven't seen this much super-archaic crosswordese in one puzzle in a while. So: LEU (44D: Romanian currency) and ANSA (33D: Archaeological handle). Can we talk about LEU and ANSA? I mean, we all agree -ETIC is god-awful (the price you pay for trying to cram SWEET / TOOTH in there, I guess), but LEU and ANSA are at least words, so perhaps people will not understand their terribleness. LEU is a word that only hardcore solvers and actual Romanians know. Please don't try to convince me otherwise, because I will immediately ask you "OK, then what's bani?" (it's the plural of ban; there are 100 bani in a LEU; bani is also the Romanian word for "money"—see how smart the internet makes me!). You used to see it back when Maleska thought "People should learn things! Exotic, obscure 3-letter things!" You hardly ever see it now, because a combination of software and good judgment has caused constructors to have to rely less on "it's a word somewhere!" junk. Those of us who have been solving for 25+ years can pull LEU out when we have to, but ick. Ick. So many EWS (also a terrible answer, btw). ANSA falls in the same category as LEU. Old-timey solvers: "Sigh, let me pull out of my Uncle Gene's Big Bag of Crossword Arcana and ... dig around ... yep, here it is ANSE ... nope, that's a Faulkner character, I think ... ASE ... nope, she's in some opera, maybe? ... ABIE ... nope, that's the Irish Rose guy ... here we go: ANSA. Good ol' ANSA. Who could ever forget ...?"

So this puzzle apparently had a theme, one which was both dense enough to crush the Fill Quality under its weight, but inessential enough to be totally invisible until the end. I could feel the circles aplenty, and I could also feel myself not caring (this is the bad fill's fault, not the theme's fault). When you get super-ambitious and full of your grand ideas, you start excusing all the consequences, all the junk that starts popping up in your grid. It all starts looking Just Fine to you because "OOH, my Big Idea, the Precious!" Sadly, I gotta solve all your ideas, small and big. And since I didn't even see the big, the small ... man, the small just destroyed the experience.

Plus this puzzle is totally misslotted on a Tuesday. I was 50% over my normal Tuesday time. And even if I adjust for sunrise solving (always slower), still, rough. The whole SE corner! Just getting in there was rough. Totally forgot the Gilmore girl; RENTAL has one of those stupid "it" clues on it (41A: I'm not buying it!), so no hope. BURST's clue was no help (54D: Succumb to pressure?). SIT's clue—yet another "?" clue—also no help (67A: Put an end to something?). I'm not even sure I get how it fits SIT.*** And "TANGLED"!?!?! I saw that movie in the theater and still couldn't get it. It's a normal word. It's Tuesday. That corner is already a *&%! show. It's Tuesday. Black sheep are RARE!? That is ... not how I think of them, idiomatically. And what is this phrase, "shore dinner"? (64A: Part of a shore dinner) Like ... a dinner you eat on / near the shore? "Shoreside," maybe? Also, shouldn't that clue have a "perhaps" on the end? Or is there some specific MUSSELS requirement now for shore dinners (whatever those are)? #notallshoredinners ... Now I'm looking over at ATROPOS! (40D: Fate who cuts the thread of life). LOL, wow, OK, sure, *Tuesday* puzzle, whatever you say. Seriously, you can hear the puzzle straining under the weight of its theme. I'm worried the whole grid is going to collapse any second. See you later.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

***Re: that SIT clue, my wife just realized that [Put an end to something?] probably refers to putting your *rear* end ... to ... something that I hope is a chair. Or Santa's lap. Something!?  Anyway, what a horrible clue.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Brett 6:36 AM  

Can someone explain 11D for me? How is GAS “Number for a surgeon?”?

Z 6:42 AM  

“ When you get super-ambitious and full of your grand ideas, you start excusing all the consequences, all the junk that starts popping up....”


phil phil 6:46 AM  

Rex was way to kind today.
LyCHEN was a woe. The theme actually helped me around these piss poor clues.

John Morrison 6:48 AM  

Worst clue: Lorelai. That name is normally spelled Lorelei. Yecch. He had to go snuffling for a misspelling of that name.

Vero John 6:48 AM  

The gas makes you more numb before your operation

Anonymous 6:52 AM  

Liked it! Didn't like ALL of it (I share some of Rex' quibbles.) but, apparently unlike Rex, I love candy and greatly enjoyed watching various candies from my lifetime emerge (I like the slightly old fashioned Bit o Honey sharing the puzzle with Pop Rocks and Airheads) Yes, the SE corner was particularly crunchy, but all that esoterica was gettable from the crosses, and I liked having to struggle a bit with the ? clues to find, once filled, "Oh, yeah, that makes sense." Enjoyed the slightly "off" sensibility. So, slower than usual, but ultimately a winner.

Lewis 6:54 AM  

... and what side of bed did Rex wake up on this morning?

First of all, the clue for SIT -- he got you good, Rex. I thought that was a world class clue; it gave me a terrific aha. He also got me for too long with that "Number for a surgeon?" (@brett -- "number" as in something that makes you go numb) -- and I thought it was very well played.

This grid is beautifully designed, and yes, there are some old-timey answers, but there are some quirky lovely ones also, like BOHO and PEDICAB. There's also a RIG up and a SIT down. That SE corner fought me but good, as I didn't know TANGLED and LEU, and had IST instead of ISM, and didn't get RENTAL right away, but it all fell together, and I was glad for the fight.

Speaking of fight, THE OC. It was a guilty pleasure for my wife, our youngest, and myself for a couple of seasons and all I remember is that every episode seemed to involve a party and a fight.

Terrific theme idea, Andrew and a very nice solving experience for me -- thank you greatly!

Glimmerglass 6:56 AM  

Probably too hard for a Tuesday, but not a horrible puzzle. Yeah, there’s some antique stuff, but why is that worse than super-contemporary stuff (rappers, ppv tv shows, neologisms, slang)?

kitshef 7:12 AM  

Found this unusually hard for a Tuesday. More like a hard Wednesday or easy Friday. Liked ATROPOS and CODDLE and LICHEN.

But, it was a terrible puzzle. 1) Pooh’s pots are invariably labeled ‘HuNnY’, not HONEY. 2) BeeCH trees are smooth-barked. BIRCH trees, for the most part, are not. 3) ANSA. There is much, much more, but those were the worst offenders.

Exubesq 7:19 AM  

I have no idea how long this took because mid-puzzle I had to wrangle the two extra dogs we are babysitting for the holidays and forgot to exit the app. It’s quite a pitty party here.
As for the puzzle, there was one moment when I sounded like Seinfeld (“Newman!”) but it was “Maleska!” True story

Sherman 7:21 AM  

ATROPOS of nothing, today we are transported to the recent past when BIT-O-HONEY stuck to our teeth and we trudged to the mailbox to return our Netflix DVD's. Poor RFK, forgotten so soon after they honored him with a multi-boro bridge. The puzzle? Best thing was the cane shaped candy.

Hungry Mother 7:21 AM  

Had LICkEN for a while, otherwise just a bit slow. Luckily knew BANTU.

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

I get my news from Buzzfeed. What can I say?

Forsythia 7:26 AM  

I usually think Rex is rough....but today's puzzle took 3 times my average. The cluing was more end of the week as other's have said, which can give an "aha" (ie. numb-er).

But what killed my time was IRaN LAW. I was sure the Absolutist would be IRAN (ESaS works) and couldn't see my mistake.

BeeCH before BIRCH. Can an arborist confirm BIRCH has smooth trunk? I always thought birchbark canoes had those rough sides, smooth inside maybe.

Agree that black sheep are not particularly RARE.
Too much OOH, AHA, EWS, BAA.
So my rating is bah!

Two Ponies 7:37 AM  

Did not care for this at all even though I really wanted to.
I loved seeing the Dutch painters, all in my list of favorites.
Atropos was interesting, made me want to learn more about her.
Throw in some Hamlet and I'm feeling pretty good.

Then...iron law, boho-chic, exotic currency, and another movie for children? (BTW does Disney own the NYT or something? They certainly get a lot of free advertising.)

I spotted the canes right away but have never tried pop rocks or air heads.

The SE corner of socialist democrats was amusing.

Overall it reeked. Let's talk about tree bark. I'm certain someone will.

ghthree 7:44 AM  

My first reaction when I saw the puzzle (before writing anything) was "Those circles look like candy canes." I guess I was just full of holiday spirit.

Not only was 36 across a gimme, but I used the internal patterns to help fill in the circles. I had MOP instead of SOP for 1A, but POPROCKS gave me the necessary traction into the NW, so I corrected the error.

My wife and I both found it a bit hard for a Tuesday, but nothing unfair. We never saw Gilmore Girls or Tangled, but we got the answers with the help of the crosses and internal cane patterns.

Is there any significance to the fact that the internal patterns are clockwise in the West and counter-clockwise in the East? Like wind patterns, perhaps -- away from the equator. From hot air to colder air? Or just coincidence?

Loved the clues for 11D and 67A. "Number" has been used in previous puzzles as a clue for ETHER. And when you SIT down you put your end to the chair. Several groaners. I like to groan.

ghthree 7:48 AM  

If you're going to have LORELAI in a grid, how else would you clue it? I know the usual spelling, but I learned something new today.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

Had to google in the end to get atropos. Puzzle was definitely not a Tuesday. I didn't enjoy it very much.

Unknown 7:49 AM  

I still don’t get gas=number for a surgeon. Is gas the same as “anesthesia “? Wouldn’t it be “anesthesiologist “? Not surgeon? I’m pretty sure surgeons do surgery, not be in charge of anesthesia.... Help

chefbea 7:51 AM  

When I saw the circles...I thought candy canes. So I knew 36 across . Loved the sit clue!!! Some was hard for a Tuesday. Knew all the candys except air heads...never had one

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

Not a Tuesday, and that's about the nicest thing I can say.

A full 2.5 minutes over normal. Cluing was awful in places. I give this one many EWS.

Robert Moses 7:54 AM  

Adding to @Sherman

The Triborough bridge has officially been known as the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge since 2008.

Most New York City residents still refer to it and spell it as the "Triboro" (39d.)

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

Not a Tuesday puzzle! This is supposed to be fun, but today was all struggle. I smiled at lichen though.

kvilksen 7:57 AM  

Am I the only one who had S_V__ER for 32A Sharper and plunked in SeVerER? Didn’t help that I did not know the song the Holly and the IVY.

George 7:59 AM  

I think the GAS clue should have been "Number for a dentist?", but whatever. I struggled but emerged victorious on this one, all the while thinking, "Am I really gonna get stumped by a Tuesday?!?"

I have been to Romania recently and could't have come up with LEU if my life depended on it, but that's why we have crosses, right? I pretty much need the crosses for every Disney movie, every Gilmore Girl, and every muse.

Birchbark 8:00 AM  

Though not arborist, I feign one on crossword blogs. Some BIRCH are smoothish, such as paper birch and yellow birch. The bark is peppered with rough spots -- smooth, except where it's not. It is a good sort of bark.

The anger over learning things in crossword puzzles is curious. I have from time to time conducted clever and passionate arguments on all sorts of topics with made-up adversaries. It is a good way to get the last word. But sparring with a latter-day Maleskian over LEU and ANSA never occurred to me. Especially when the last word is "People should learn things!" as though people should not. ANSA LEU, there's nothing wrong with you.

Jay 8:04 AM  

Rex was way too kind in his review of this puzzle. Not just challenging but on the brutal side for a Tueasday. Some obscure entries, cross-referencied clues, some bad clues and not enjoyable at all. All this contributed to a time of close to 45 minutes - three times my usual time.
I did finish the puzzle and saw the "candy canes". But by the time I was done I did not care anymore about what was in them.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

Join our sit-in and put an end to an end

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

Right on average time for me. Half a minute faster.
Enjoyed this puzzle.
Laughed at gas/numb-er. Lichen is clever.
Only see leu in x-words. Big deal.
For those of you apoplectic over a damned puzzle, I hope the rest of the day gets better for all y'all.

keleng 8:33 AM  

watched Gilmore Girls with my daughters; knew Lorelei but didn't know it was misspelled in the series as Lorelai (even spellcheck doesn't like it!). Stared at ARTSELE and reluctantly changed it to almost be surprised to see Mr. Happy Pencil pop up. Agree it was more of a Wednesday level.

Mark Laser 8:33 AM  

I’m a surgeon. Gas makes you “unconscious” not “numb”. It’s an important distinction. If you want numb, you need lidocaine or something like it. Lidocaine is a liquid.

ArtO 8:34 AM  

Hand up for how un-Tuesday this was. For all the reasons cited. For once, OFL screed was well deserved.

Outside The Box 8:35 AM  

The answer to the “New York City bridge, informally, with ‘the’” clue is wrong.

The Triboro (or Triborough) bridge moniker doesn’t exist anymore (in officialdom). It is now the RFK Bridge.

Irene 8:48 AM  

What's really wrong about the black sheep clue is that although they may be rare, scarcity isn't why we cite them. We call someone a black sheep when he or she is disappointing or bad, in contrast to the rest of the group.

mmorgan 8:56 AM  

Found it a bit hokey (I don't have a sweet tooth) but not nearly as awful as Rex did. I also struggled in the SE.

A shore dinner is a very common term in New England. An old amusement park, Rocky Point, in Warwick, RI, used to boast having The World's Largest Shore Dinner Hall. Usually it's clam cakes, chowder, steamers, often lobster, sometimes sausage, watermelon, sometimes mussels, among other variations. But it's really gotta have the clams.

I ralphed on your puzzle 8:59 AM  

I definitely agree with the consensus here. The puzzle, in a word, stinks. When was the last time anyone here rented a dvd from netfix? Add in all of the other garbage that has already been discussed and you have another crappy, esoterica-laced slog-fest courtesy of Will and the rest of the NYT stooges. Yuk, yuk, yuk.

Dr. Z 9:01 AM  

A birch (tree) does NOT have smooth bark!
A Beech a HAS smooth bark.
People often confuse these.

comfortably numb 9:11 AM  

i would hope a surgeon does more than "numb" me when s/he does surgery on me. are there any surgeries done where you are awake, but the part they're cutting into is numbed...with gas? dentist is the better clue...even though novacaine does the numbing not the gas. i just don't think "gas" numbs anything...i could be wrong.

also, i grew up with a couple of birch trees in my yard. they had white bark that you could peel off the tree and the peelings were as thin as paper. i believe aspens have the same kind of paper thin bark.

BuckyBadger 9:14 AM  

Is anyone using the iOS app?

They changed the keyboard again and its really bothering me...typing feels weird and my eyes are drawn to that pointless whitespace above the keyboard....

Or am I crazy??

Amie Devero 9:14 AM  

I'm glad it wasn't just me. I thought perhaps this was the day i learn o of early Alzheimer's ... More specifically, I also require an explanation for "gas"... WTH???

TomAz 9:17 AM  

I thought Rex pretty much nailed it today. This was not a Tuesday puzzle, and regardless of what day it may have been slotted, it wasn't a ton of fun.

I had LEU confused with LEk for a while, which held up seeing BANTU for too long. I've never seen a single Gilmore Girls episode and so the alternative spelling on LORELAI was not a big deal -- it was the entire answer itself that I found ridiculous.

I did like the clue for SIT, though.

QuasiMojo 9:17 AM  

Back in Maleska's day, since Rex brings that up, people who did the NYT crossword for the most part actually knew stuff beyond what was on TV last week or what kids movie was a hit at the box office, or which pop song was winning big at rigged awards shows. They traveled, they read these things called "books" that had actual pages and covers, and they had conversations with other people when they went out to dinner and gorged on mussels, rather than staring at their "smart" phones. They did not know much about different types of candy, especially their brand names. They left that to their children as well. In short, they lived well. Now the average puzzle doer (at least in Shortz's mind) sits at home and binge watches Netflix and cheap teen angst soap operas, and listen to lousy top-40 music on their iPods. And worse, they have to be "entertained" by contrived, inane gimmicks in the grid that have nothing to do whatsoever with intelligence, knowledge or ingenuity. Why not just publish Word Searches and be done with it.

Two Ponies 9:17 AM  

Whoa @ Anon 8:59 (aka I ralphed)! Without the snail mail bringing me my Netflix DVDs I would have no movies to watch at all. I barely have internet so "When was the last time?" Yesterday!

I knew the tree bark question would be the discussion of the day.

Irene 8:48, That's what I think of about black sheep as well. Being rare is the least of their problems.

Shore dinner, in my experience, is just an excuse for a place to charge more for a fish entrΓ©e just because it sounds cool.
Like "pan-roasted". What else are you going to roast it in? A shoe?

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

If I were a squirrel, I would like to have a lifetime supply of acorns, safely hidden and preserved. That way I could just romp around all day and not have to be constantly foraging.

GILL I. 9:21 AM  

I want a rant about EELS.
I do agree it wasn't very Tuesdayish. And I do agree it was Maleskaish. Even so, I thought the CANDY CANE in the middle was cute and clever.
I don't eat candy and never really did because we never had it in our house. My kids, thought, would bring home all these mysterious things from school. Our son loved POP ROCKS. He'd stuff his mouth full of the purple ones and open it wide like a hippo waiting for the explosion. Amazing what manufacturers will invent in order to entice the innocent.
ATROPOS was new for me and so I will look her up. Never saw THE OC nor TANGLED. I watched "Gilmore Girls" once. It was once too many.
I like the clue for RENTAL and MIC. Don't like GAS. My first American dentist gave me GAS all the time. I remember he was pretty good looking and his assistant told me that I was always trying to grope him. All I remember is that GAS made me laugh.
So BANTU gives us banjo? Oh, Susana with a BANTU on her knee.

Whirred Whacks 9:29 AM  

Consolation: The amazing BRUCE HAIGHT had a good one yesterday.

Mohair Sam 9:33 AM  

@Rex - We laughed like all Hell at your review, don't agree totally, but you definitely made our morning.

Well we dnf'd in the NE, on a Tuesday no less. Don't know our Greek gods, nor our Spanish (had esso), and never heard of AIRHEADS (although I'm sure they're bad for your teeth). And the delightful clue for GAS wasn't going to get AHA'd with only one letter.

Still, we liked it. Clues for GAS and SIT were terrific. Each corner gave us a fight, words like LORELAI, and ATROPOS, and trying to fit St. Elmo in for OILLAMP. I drive to New York a lot and have heard traffic reporters refer to the RFK from time to time and have wondered what the heck they were talking about, now I know. Never got the "RO" in IRONLAW - tough puzz for us.

@keleng (8:33) - Finally! Someone who has actually seen "The Gilmore Girls." I take it the long dead show is a cult classic, and Will Shortz and whoever is in charge in Cruciverbia are members of the blasted cult.

Blue Stater 9:36 AM  

Not often that I disagree with OFL, but it isn't "Maleskan garbage" that sinks this horror, but WS-ian garbage -- mistakes, perplexities, weirdnesses, the lot. "That would stink" = HOPENOT? Huh? Utterly no connection, as far as I can see. Like OFL, I was 50% over my normal Tuesday time.

Eugene Maleska's puzzles were pedagogical wonders. You always learned something from them. I, at least, fiercely resent the philosophical change from pedagogy to sterile trickery that WS has forced upon the NYT's puzzle community. I hope his successor (isn't it time? Isn't it *past* time?) reverses this unhappy cultural shift.

Dave OB 9:36 AM  

I thought that one was the nicest misdirecting clue in the puzzle.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Hey Blue Stater, how high are your pants hiked above your waist?

Two Ponies 9:41 AM  

@ Quasi, You and were typing at the same time but now that I've read back I see you have hit the nail on the head and, as usual, I agree.

Now, hand me that box of crayons so I can do the maze on my placemat.

Nancy 9:43 AM  

This was so good for a Tuesday! So much wonderful misdirection in the cluing: GAS; SIT; RENTAL; SAVVIER. It made us work, it didn't CODDLE us. I felt that I couldn't afford to be DIM today or I wouldn't solve it. If only every Tuesday could be so challenging.

My only nit is HISS AT (20D). "Show disdain for in a way." I'd say you're showing disdain in a Very Big Way. (I wanted "Ignore" there.)

I solved as a themeless -- and still don't see any CANDY CANEs in the tiny little circles. But then, as I've said so often, I'm not visual. The circles were easy to ignore, and I happily did so. Going back now to read everyone and find out exactly where the CANDY CANEs are lurking.

Linda Vale 9:46 AM  

Verily scurvy. Sooth.

Jonathan Polonsky 9:47 AM  

Number as in to numb the patient. Not a number as in 1,2,3. It took me forever to get that.

pmdm 9:47 AM  

QuasiMojo: I loved your rant. I'd be a little kinder to today's crossword solvers, but your assessment of the constructors is all too accurate. Some, like Jacob Stulberg, seem to avoid the "I wanna be hip" trap. But as this puzzle (which is way too tough for a Tuesday, seemingly a puzzle to discourage new solvers)seems to show, most of todays constructors seem to want to make sure their puzzles will be totally obsolete in the future.

Amazingly, I am tending to think that the write-up today is too kind.

And if you don't eat candy, as I do not, the letters in the candy canes mean nothing to you. Today was a BIG DUD for me.

Blue Stater 9:48 AM  

@QuasiMojo: Right on, bro'/sis. And while I'm here, sorry for the extraneous second "but" clause in the opening sentence of my 9:36 AM effort. I was still steaming from this hot mess of a puzzle. It affected my math, too: I was 100%, not 50%, over my normal Tuesday time, although I don't pay overmuch attention to timing when I'm doing these. I, too, still get DVDs from Netflix; like whoever coined this bon mot above (which I will steal), I'm barely on the internet as well (no streaming) and thought it was just me.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

My catheters are delivered discretely to my door.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Looked at the circles, looked for the revealer and wrote in CANDYCANE. The rest was easy.

Nancy 10:09 AM  

@Quasi (9:17) -- Bravo! So true and so well said.

No wonder I couldn't find the CANDY CANEs. They're all candy brands and I didn't know any of them. Never eaten them, never seen them in a store, never heard of them at all. I could have stared at the tiny circles till hell froze over, and I still wouldn't have seen them. Candy is not one of my guilty pleasures -- something I'm sure my doctor is quite happy about. My brand knowledge is limited to Hershey, Nestle, Godiva, M and M, and Almond Joy. Oh, and marzipan -- though that's not a brand.

BIRCH gave me no trouble since I don't know a BIRCH from a beech. I had a friend who volunteered as a guide in Central Park, and she once chastised me for not being able to identify a great many varieties of trees. To which I replied: "Marie, I can love them all without being able to name them all."

@Outside the Box (8:35). I live in NYC. Trust me -- no one has ever called it the RFK Bridge ever.

jberg 10:17 AM  

Hard to imagine how anyone didn't notice the theme -- I looked at the grid, saw all those circles, checked the calendar, and said AHA! CANDY CANEs. That really helped in the solve, especially changing for SALE to ART SALE to get STARBURST. (I never eat candy either, but I used to work in a convenience store).

The puzzle had its problems, esp. LEU and LORELAI (ANSA, though -- that's just Latin for handle. Gotta know Latin if you're going to solve these things, right?)

BIRCH --sure, not as smooth as a beech, but a lot smoother than an oak or a maple, so that was OK with me. And for all those complaining that The TRIBORO has been renamed, please note that the clue says "informally" -- ie., what people actually call it.

A shore dinner is definitely a thing, closely related to a clambake but you don't have to bury it in sand.

Biggest complaint -- it's a little weird to say that CANDY CANE is "a hint" to candy canes.

GHarris 10:24 AM  

A rare day. For once I agree completely with Rex. SE sunk me too. Wanted Cajun for 54 across and thought coin was a lek. Only after google got me leu was I able to finish. Have to say, there was a lot of satisfaction in working out everything else.

Z 10:25 AM  

Words have this nasty quality of being amenable to adaptation and misdirection. I can feel numb without being unconscious, but if I’m unconscious I am numb.

BTW - over twice as long as yesterday, more Wednesday than Tuesday in difficulty. I agree with Rex on the quality of the fill. 26 three letter answers is at least 20 too many.

Roo Monster 10:33 AM  

Hey All !
Well, to me, this seemed like a normal TuesPuz. It was ever so slightly tougher than normal. But so was yesterdays. My holdup was actually in the middle. SAVVIER just wouldn't show. Plus the Netflix clue (TV show? Movie? Ads??), and the odd clues for MIC and DIM, and I was sunk. Had to Reveal Word for DIM, then was finally able to finish. So easy until the middle. :-)

Cool grid, although we get lots of blocks and 3's, 40 Black Squares, 26 3's. But, considering the constraint of the theme, I don't think puz suffered as much as Rex did. Sure, some junk, but every puz has junk. Not as UGGS as some feel. No SOBs. YAY!


Vlad 10:35 AM  

Is beink tough puzzle for Tuesday but Vlad don't care! I push on and make to the finish line.

You are all beink cry baby. Is not too hard! I must depart now.

mathgent 10:35 AM  

A bad puzzle is a bad puzzle regardless of the day of the week. I liked the theme but it exacted a terrible price. Twenty-four (!) Terrible Threes including EWS, BAA, HPS, OOH, LEU, ELS.

I like learning things too but not if they go into that part of my brain which is only activated when solving crossword

@Nancy and I have been communicating as we work our way through the Sunday Puzzle supplement. We enjoyed Building Blocks and Tri-Cities. She has gotten all but one of Word Doodles (3D). She helped me get a couple of them with broad hints. What the rest of us feel about these puzzles?

Jack Effin Gladney 10:37 AM  

Lost in all of this kvetching is the fact that this is a pretty great theme. Rex spends so much time criticizing themes that, in his estimation, don't work. This one does. Each themer is clearly a cane made of candy: the circles form unmistakable cane shapes, the candies are all well-known, and the revealer has a perfect double meaning.

So the puzzle is a little harder than usual — big deal. Is it under some obligation to cater to us speed solvers, to ensure that each day's difficulty perfectly matches our expectations? I like to finish a Tuesday under four minutes. Today I didn't. Oh well.

Yes, LEU and LORELAI and ANSA are crap. ATROPOS is not common knowledge. ORTO is a dumb partial. But the crosses were fair, and the fill is mostly clean overall, especially given the constraints imposed by the theme.

I share a lot of Rex's frustrations w/r/t the NYT puzzle, especially since it's a product I pay for. But I would think that he'd be at least a little understanding about the need for some less-than-desirable fill to make a good theme work. Look at his own recent baseball puzzle. Very clever theme, but one that required him to give us DENIECE Williams and RSA and ITOR and ODO.

Anoa Bob 10:37 AM  

I think MIC is more of a "Speaking" than a "Hearing aid".

There are a number of words in (American) English that come over from (Mexican) Spanish, in somewhat changed forms. Today we see SAVVIER (32A), a two-letter boost from the base word SAVVy, that is a phonetic transmutation of the Spanish sabe, the third person singular of the verb saber, meaning "to know", "to have knowledge". Since the "b" and "v" sounds are indistinguishable to most non-Spanish speakers, sabe became "savvy" in days of yore, and it stuck.

Yeah, we've seen "number" before as something that "numbs", as with "flower" as something that "flows", "tower" as something that "tows", and the like.

Was this Maleska character ever brought to justice for his wanton crimes against humanity, or was he able to escape to Argentina and change his identity? Could be the basis of a mystery/thriller, right?

By popular request from earlier comments: Grew up in Tennessee surrounded by woods and climbed many a tree when I was a lad. The tree with the smoothest bark of all? The mimosa, no contest. Its bark is almost like skin. There were a number of tress we wouldn't climb, like the pine tree. Too much sticky resin. The birch was another one. This image of birch tree bark shows why. That ain't smooth.

TomAz 10:38 AM  

@Blue Stater:

We all have gripes about Shortz-edited puzzles but would you really prefer to revert back to mindless trivia? I mean, I know the quality level is inconsistent, but the Shortz approach of emphasizing cleverness over rote knowledge is a vast improvement. What on earth could you find "sterile" about tricky cluing? What you call "pedagogical wonders" I call elitist obscurantism for the sake of obscurantism. F&^* that s*&^.

Aketi 10:38 AM  

@Nancy, I knew you don't like circles so I made another picture out of the puzzle of CANDY CANEs for you. There are also two black squares that look like mini candy canes or bent licorice sticks.

Ditto on the TRIBORO bridge. Officials can rename things but that's not always the name people will adopt.

Nancy 10:52 AM  

@Aketi (10:38) -- That's really nifty! Howdja do that? I assume it's all computer-generated, sort of like special effects in movies nowadays? But a person has to tell the computer how to do that, right?

Hartley70 10:59 AM  

Yards yada, most fun on a Tuesday in a long time! Sure it took me twice as long, but isn't that a good thing? I prefer to savor a puzzle. I saw the little circles were candy canes but promptly ignored them until I had finished this as a themeless. I was delighted to find they were candy brands. I've tasted them all and I can attest that POPROCKS is the most fun and easiest on the teeth. BITOHONEY is my generation and earlier. AIRHEADS are tasty. Beware! A STARBURST really did loosen a filling. I had a taste of the others from my kids' stash and obviously the low brow fill is just fine with me, if not my dentist.

I knew LORELAI because I watched Gilmore Girls with my daughter years ago, and yes there is a cult. They made new episodes on Netflix recently to satisfy them. I liked to see that the setting was CT.

@mmorgan, thanks for reminding me. The shore dinner was a way of life in the summer for generations of RIers. Rocky Point (1840s - 1995, I googled that) was the prime destination for rides, clamcakes and more. I have good memories of the place in the 50s and 60s.

That VV in the center was fun.

nonanything 11:04 AM  

@rex, You aren't fit to carry Maleska's muddy boots. Truly, you aren't. Just as engineering and technology evolve, so do the arts. Sure, puzzles have taken a clever turn. But on the other hand pop culture - star wars, rappers, game of thrones - is just rote knowledge of trivia (@TomAz).

Those who can't do, teach. And those who teach can still supplement their income at the expense of the people who can do.

Mark 11:07 AM  

I really liked the puzzle. Although I agree, much harder than many Tuesdays. It's obviously not easy to put that much theme in, and there really wasn't much horrible fill.

Mark 11:20 AM  

Are some of you going to get lost in NYC when someone directs you to sixth avenue? (It's officially the Avenue of the Anericas, but no one uses that name).

David Schinnerer 11:26 AM have never heard of "BIT'O HONEY"?? Pop rocks, airheads and star bursts are all relatively new, but Bit'o honey has been around for a million years, like Abba-Zabba, Milk duds, Necco wafers. My SWEET TOOTH is kicking in. Now I need some SEE's candy. The milk chocolate caramel wafers. Not the one's that are like fruitcake inside...who eats those? They end up with a bite out of them and left in the box.

Took me forever to finish this puzzle(kinda like this post. Ha! Beat ya too it!) Had CAJUN for BANTU for the longest time, (but I do all the acrosses first, then go back and do the downs...not how the experts do it, I know, but I find it fun to see things slowly evolve. Not obsessed about my time...)finally gave up on cajun and finally finished. Also had SAUCIER for sharper...what do I know?

Didn't love it, but got it done. Now back to the wonder of work...

Oh, and since I'm rambling...wanted to comment on the whole "anonymous" being chickensh*ts...Although most of the anonymous postings (not all) are small-minded cretins with nothing better to do, aren't we all here under made-up names? In essence "anonymous"? I use my real name because I wasn't smart enough to make up a fake name. But if I ran into Quasimojo or Nancy in the street, I wouldn't know them. My point is, I usually just skip over the anonymous postings and try not to get too riled up over these cries for attention. Just my take.


Amelia 11:40 AM  

First of all, a hard Tuesday? I loved it. What could be better than a hard Tuesday? I had such trouble in all kinds of places, and as I recall, I didn't have that trouble this past Saturday. Second of all, going to defend the constructors on the bridge clue. New Yorker here. There isn't one goddamn person here who calls it the RFK Bridge, at least not yet.

It's the Oh shit, I got on the Triboro and I meant to take that exit into the city Bridge!

Loved the cluing for number and sit and I'll raise my hand to knowing the weird spelling for Lorelai which just auto-corrected to Lorelei. Go know.

I ignore circle clues. They rarely help (usually on a Sunday, if they do) and I wish they would stop already.

QuasiMojo 11:49 AM  

Lots of great comments today. Don’t forget the Ed Koch Bridge, too! Thanks for the feedback everyone. Just for the record I was referring to the puzzledoers in Will Shortz’s mind, not anyone here. Or any actual demographic in particular. I think the NYT puzzle would be even more popular than it already is if it were less dependent on the stuff I was complaining about. Time to go out and make some popcorn strings for my Scotch pine while listening to Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters sing Christmas carols. Lol. Jk!

jb129 11:49 AM  

Hard for a Tuesday - I didn't know atropos & had to cheat which always puts a damper on things especially on a Tuesday.

I agree with Amelia right before me at 11:40 - hate circle clues.

Malsdemare 11:51 AM  

Oh dear, I didn't like this puzzle and that's odd for me. There were too many places where I went "ouch!" The Romanian currency, Vermeer's contemporary STEiN (no art patron I), ANSA, and why has no one mentioned OCA? And to add to it, I saw the first CANES at the top and didn't recognize them as CANDY; never heard of AIRHEADS and I thought POPROCKS was some variation on the pet ROCK craze years back. For some reason, I hated HOPENOT. I'm not in a bad mood, honest, and now that I know all those CANEs are some kind of CANDY, I'm somewhat mollified. I did like the clue for GAS, even though it's true it doesn't numb. And LICHEN made me yearn for warm hiking weather, and it's just December!

My Facebook page has a post today about how people used to just walk away, cross the street, hang up the phone when they encountered crazy ranters. The suggestion was we need to learn to do the same thing in our virtual worlds. So, @David Schinnerer, you have a very good point. Here we say, don't feed the trolls, but that of course, is name-calling and drawing attention to them. Best to "cross the street." But I will gently point out that those of us with blue names aren't really anonymous; go to our profiles and for most, there you'll find a link to our email. It's true you still won't know me if you see me on the street, (hint: I'm the woman with the Malamute wearing a therapy dog vest saying "Unseat Rodney Davis.") but telling you I'm Mary Rivers doesn't help you there.

Now to groom that dog in prep for pet therapy, sans the political posturing, at one of the University libraries. Final exam time and we provide stress relief.

kitshef 11:51 AM  

The Cabin John Bridge opened in 1962. In 1969 it changed names to The American Legion Memorial Bridge. There are still many DC area residents who call it the Cabin John. I expect in 40 years the same will still be true for Triboro.

Nancy 11:58 AM  

I'm over the limit, but just thought I'd respond to @David Schinnerer's 11:26 post. All of us who use names consistently on the blog, even when it's only a partial name (me) or a made-up name (Quasimojo) are identifiable for the purposes of the blog. You don't need to find us on the street, heaven forfend. (I wouldn't feel entirely safe if everyone here could find me on the street, to tell the truth, what with some of the comments I've seen.) But you can tell @Quasi from @Mohair from @Aketi from @GILL from @mathgent. OTOH, how do you know if Anon 3:03 = Anon 5:31 = Anon 7:22? You have no idea. It could be one person posting or three. Or 3:03 could = 7:22, but not 5:31. And then tomorrow, there will be Anon 8:06 and 9:51 and 2:34 and you don't know who in hell any of them are or whether they're repeats from yesterday or not. From a blog standpoint that's the true anonymity.

Scrub 12:03 PM  

I thought maybe I was just groggy this morning when half the clues seemed like torturous stretches, especially for a Tuesday, but I feel validated by Rex and the majority of the commenters. Usually M-W I can rely on picking up at least one long answer, cold, from each corner to get the ball rolling, but today ... nothing. I just barged around in the fog until the puzzle was done.

Unlike the ATROPOS, EWS, ANSA and LEU haters (and granted, those are rough), my least favorite clue was "Netflix item" for DVD. That's because while I know that Netflix started out as a DVD rental service (and still offers it, apparently, but I had to Google to confirm that) for the last 5-7 years or so I've *only* heard Netflix mentioned in reference to online streaming.

JC66 12:28 PM  
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JC66 12:29 PM  

A New Yorkese primer

Mario Cuomo Bridge - Tappan Zee Bridge

Ed Koch Bridge - Queensboro Bridge

RFK Bridge - Triborough Bridge

Avenue of the Americas - 6th Avenue

Houston Street - HOWston Streeet

Masked and Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Not exactly feelin the blog-luv, for this puppy. Howsomeever…

Works ok for m&e: The candy cane-shaped circles have candy in em: check. SWEET-TOOTH bonus themer: check. Bonus nutsnack ACORN: check. Christmas spirit theme-related: check. Evenly scattered bits of tasty desperation: check. Five U's: check. The normally-friendly TuesPuz canes U brutally with its solvequest difficulty: checkmate.

staff weeject pick: LEU. French for: le U. [zee leetle darlinks]

Best desperation in a themed area award: The BITOHONEY Cane. Begets: ORTO. BOHO. ATROPOS. HPS. OCA. M&A always thought BOHO was short for belly button, or some such. Learnt somethin new. That's a good thing.


Thanx, Mr. Kingsley. Over-the-top feisty for a TuesPuz, which is ok by m&e.

Masked & Anonymo5Us & Caned Senseless

On the 7th Day of Christmas, my true luv gave to m&e…

Seven LOREes LAI-ing.


Five. Gold. U's.*
Two Tiny Feys,
And a SIRENE in a FERRITE tree.


G. Weissman 12:34 PM  

Gas does not numb patients. It puts them in a reversible coma. Hence, a bad clue.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Re @mathgent 10:35
Awful format! SPIRAL could fit easily on a half-page and be more fun; SUPER MEGA
could also fit on a half-page and not require a dining room table to spread out three Times-sized pages - and the numbered boxes are too small. I usually like CRYPTIC puzzles but the clues were weird, overworking a word to represent just one letter in the answer shows a lack of imagination in the clueing. Enjoyed BUILDING BLOCKS, SPLIT DECISIONS, MARCHING BANDS, ACROSTIC and 3-D WORD HUNT.

G. Weissman 12:34 PM  

No, it doesn’t.

Masked and Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Really really liked the GAS and SIT clues.
Primo East-West grid symmetry. Even the circles participated, symmetry-wise!
I think I even see Santa in the grid art, tryin desperately to fully materialize.
Well, cane m&e and put m&e away wet.


G. Weissman 12:36 PM  

Yep, everyone gets their DVDs from Netflix.

BenM 12:38 PM  

I’ve been doing puzzles from the archive at a rate of about five a day for the past couple of years and this has to be one of the all time worst. That this was published in 2017 is shocking.

Unknown 12:49 PM  

Thank God for Keith Emerson's "The Three Fates" or I never would have known Atropoa.

Jill McCourt 12:54 PM  

Not for Lorelai Gilmore though, which was the clue. It was one of the few I knew on my first pass, so if they had spelled it the normal way I'd have been even worse off!

Carola 1:08 PM  

Cute theme with some other SWEET nuggets (CHATTY, CROCHET), but I agree with @Rex on the overload of arcana - OCA was what finally pushed me over the edge - and too-clever cluing. I also was in the BeeCH camp.

Visiting the Rijksmuseum earlier this year and enjoying Jan STEEN's various depictions of domestic chaos, I smiled to learn that in the Netherlands "a Jan STEEN household" became a phrase for a messy house. I'm an indifferent housekeeper but having so far managed to keep the frying pans off the floor feel I haven't sunk to full STEEN conditions.

Teedmn 1:23 PM  

Hah, while I had every single question about the puzzle that @Rex did (SIT? LEU? ANSA?), I didn't finish feeling the same way even though this took 100% more time than my USUAL Tuesday, not 50%. Poking at ANSA on Jeff Chen's website told me that I should have seen it more than 16 or 20 times since I first started doing NYT puzzles but I don't remember it. I honestly thought "handle" in the cLEU was referring to some archeologist's name that I should know, sheesh!

I kind of liked "OR TO" as clued. I always love a highbrow cLEU that I know the answer to.

"Banjo" and "gumbo" come from Cajun, doncha know. So "succumb to pressure" was going to be cURSe? Crossed by SIe? (as good an answer to the 67A cLEU as SIT, in my opinion :-). ) Nah, couldn't be. I cleaned the whole SE mess up, happily. But isn't it an IRON LAW that Tuesday's are supposed to be easy?

Mr. Kingsley, thanks for the clever theme but please put out an APB next time that the clues are going to be themeless tough!

puzzlehoarder 1:29 PM  

No time to read comments now. The Xmas crunch is setting in. Harder than average Tuesday. Adjacent Vs and "Tangled"? Just a little extra time to solve. Due to years of crosswordese ATROPOS and OCA helped out. ANSA not as much. A nice puzzling bonus for a Tuesday.

mathgent 1:35 PM  

If any of you are teaching algebra, here is a problem you can assign. It's more real than what you find in the average textbook and the NBA fans in your class will love it.

The Houston Rockets have two superstars, James Harden and Chris Paul. The coach plays them for about the same number of minutes each game. One of the two is on the court at all times. If in a given game they each play x minutes, for how many minutes are they both playing together. An NBA games lasts 48 minutes.

Odd Sock 1:41 PM  

Oooh, @mathgent, I can't handle the stress of an algebra problem. I need my therapy dog. I'll be in my safe space until they get here.

William Coddington 2:03 PM  

Here, here!
I must admit knowing, however, that iPods are no longer being manufactured. I believe I learned that not-even-remotely useful tibit either in my extensive internet travels or while binge-watching BET on Hulu.

Anonymous 2:18 PM  

Oh I hate that Trump!

He's orange!


Anonymous 2:49 PM  


Anonymous 2:51 PM  


JTHurst 3:07 PM  

Yay, nay. Ooh, Aha. SOS, please. APB on this puzzle. Something to Hissat. In Leu of any other Isms just plain EW !!!!!!

JTHurst 3:15 PM  

Mathgent. Zero to 48 minutes, assuming equal playing time.

GILL I. 3:17 PM  

@JC66. Thank you. I will never ever be able to bring myself to call It Mario Cuomo, Ed Koch nor RFK bridge. Ever!. I'm not a New Yorker but I lived in the city for two years back in the 70's. The times I drove over those bridges. The times I walked them as well and I'll never forget my brother telling me upon arrival to never pronounce Houston street like that place in Texas....!

Oldflappyfrommississappy 4:00 PM  

A hard Tuesday? I’m hard every dang Tuesday!!!

Whistling Jack Smith 4:02 PM  

TMI Oldflappy.

Suzie Q 4:11 PM  

Even a hard Tuesday can't stop the silliness today!
A little too much brandy in the ol' egg nog?
Here, top me up please so I can join the party.

Kimberly 4:25 PM  

Some night the ghosts of crosswords past, present, and future will visit Rex and soften his heart and teach him the true meaning of crosswords. After that everyone will always say of him “He kept crosswords very well.”

Will Shortz bless us, every one..

Shelby Glidden 4:36 PM  

@David Schinnerer 11:26 AM I got your back, bro. πŸ˜€ Same difficulty with gumbo/bantu.😬 I did enjoy Rex's write-up. πŸ€” @Nonanything 11:04 AM Non-apropos of anything, but since Atropos may snip your thread at any moment, what is it that you are actually doing with what may be your last day? @Nancy 12:58 AM I think David's comment is much more directed toward negative nabobs of anonymity than towards kindly and salient comments such as yours and Two Ponies and Mathgents. In point of fact, these monikers say something informative about you. (Didn't John Lennon include you in the song, Rocky Raccoon?) Happy holidays. πŸ˜€

David in CA 4:54 PM  

Oh why wasn't 7D clued as "Path follower?". Guess it would have made a really tough Tuesday even more so, but what a missed opportunity .

What a battle. But put me in the "liked it" camp, despite the many namesI had never heard of. I do't understand the people criticizing the puzzle for being of the wrong difficulty for the day. Is it so upsetting to have your expectations not met?

Anyone else notice the increasing use of the word "fair" in the comments to mean "things I know"?

@Nancy: How can you look at this and not see the candy canes? I don't understand, it is about as perfect "grid art" as I've ever seen. Maybe a new glasses Rx that doesn't filter out everything circular is in order :).

FrankStein 5:16 PM  

@Sir William Coddington, the iPod Touch, I do believe, is still being made.

Joe Dipinto 5:40 PM  

@mathgent 10:35 -- Loved the supplement for the most part. Didn't care about the visual ones (Spinning tops and Close-ups.) Only identified two pairs of the Cartoon eyes.

Otherwise, finished the Spiral, Switcheroo, Split Decisions, Acrostic, KenKen, Marching Bands, Cryptic, Building Blocks, and The Green Umbrella Mystery. And I got the hidden contest #.

Still missing two of the Word Doodles and three of the Magic Words. Solved just enough of the surrounding areas to get the captions for the Supermega; I don't know if I'll bother to finish the rest. The Sudoku and other number puzzles I may or may not continue to work on.

What is Tri-Cities? I don't see anything called that in mine.

Joe Dipinto 5:52 PM  

Oh, and also have 31 words in the 3-D Word Find.

Never mind about Tri-Cities, I just realized that was in the Magazine.

Teedmn 7:05 PM  

Now I know the EON I spent standing on the M60 bus last August, from LGA to Lexington and 110th, was mostly due to all the road construction on the RFK aka TRIBORO bridge. And I know why it is the TRIBORO bridge because I was standing right behind the white line near the bus driver and there was a map of the route. I kept watching road signs, trying to decide where we were on it, mostly clueless.

@mathgent. 48 - 2(48 - X) = Y where Y is the # of minutes both were on the court. Unless it is a trick question and both players are centers who would never be on the court at the same time (though the formula works for that case also, when they each spent 24 minutes in the game.)

thfenn 7:57 PM  

I thought I'd gotten past the point where a Tuesday puzzle could make me feel stupid, but apparently not. Way way too hard for a Tuesday. All my complaints already noted, beech not birch, Lorelei not Lorelei, Cajun not Bantu etc. Also renter before rental. And, of course, lobster before mussel. Shore dinners might have mussels, but always have lobster. But the most annoying thing for me was candycane. That isn't a hint to what the circled letters form, it IS what the circled letters form. Couldn't believe the rest was so hard and that was so ridiculously easy. Anyway, I couldn't finish it without coming here, and for a Tuesday that's just embarrassing. Thursday, sure, still trying to up my game,but today it was just agonizing.

semioticus (shelbyl) 8:01 PM  

Cute graphics, meh puzzle.

Fill: ERNIE ELS and BAA are crosswordese that I don't mind. Actually, the fill's overall freshness was OK, and almost impressive for a Tuesday. But -and I can't believe I'm saying this- it was too fresh. ANSA? LICHEN? ATROPOS? IRONLAW? That I have never ever heard of in my life. You rule with an IRONFIST, but iron law sounds made up. (I guess people are generally OK with it though). OCA, OOH/AHA xing, I don't know, it was too much for me. All that being said, I appreciated a few of the 6+ letter answers.

Theme/long answers: I love candy canes more than a normal person should, so that is an inherent bias there. I would have loved it if all the candies were the same kind, but I guess that's a tough ask. It wasn't mind blowing or anything obviously, but it deserves a passing grade.

Clues: Now, some I enjoyed, some I really didn't care for. LICHEN was a double whammy. Weird clue that didn't help the entry at all. Something was off with "Retro" = BACKIN. I don't know what to think of RENTAL's clue. Same for "Number for a surgeon?" SOS and ACORN clues were the highlights imho. Some commenters loved the word play, some hated it. I wasn't offended by the clues (maybe because I don't know the nuances of tree barks) but yeah, this can't get more than an average grade.

Pleasurability: Perfectly meh.

GRADE: C+, 2.8 stars.

P.S.: Wow, the rating at is horrendous so far. 2.1 stars.

semioticus (shelbyl) 8:12 PM  

Oh, and Rex, I'll argue against your wishes.

"LEU is a word that only hardcore solvers and actual Romanians know."

I'm neither of those things but I know LEU (but i) I grew up in Europe so I guess that helps and ii)I first put in LEV, I guess something got lost in transliteration.)

goodantall 8:22 PM  

Eugene T Maleska in addition to being the NYT Crossword editor was a NYC School Superintendent in District 8 in the Bronx. He was the only living person to have a school named after him. Times and NYT change. The school was closed several years ago.

Candy Darling 9:00 PM  

Semi-idioticus, no one gives a shit.

Anonymous 9:03 PM  

Anyone seen a one year chart of the Dow? Looks like a freakin' hockey stick.

Anonymous 9:14 PM  


August West 9:36 PM  

You never walked over the Tappan Zee Bridge.

No. You didn’t.

GILL I. 10:28 PM  

@August...No. I had no desire to commit suicide in those days. Just the Triborough - with my bike.
Why don't you come back? I miss your lawyerly comments.

JJ 10:51 PM  

I'll be the 20th surgeon to reiterate that gas doesn't make you numb, it makes you sleep. Worst clue in the past month.

retired guy 11:35 PM  

The folks who call it the RFK Bridge probably also refer to Sixth Avenue as the Avenue of the Americas.

+wordphan 2:54 AM  

By the time I finally finished, I was not in the mood for candy or canes. Sheesh.

Anonymous 4:03 AM  

Wasn't Winnie the Pooh's potful actually "hunny"?

Luisa Ryan 6:07 AM  

My name is Luisa Ryan from Germany, me and my husband had been married for 10 years and we have 3 lovely kids, my husband was always busy with work but when ever it is weekend he always take me and our kids out for dinner and sometime we went shopping together because the kids like to buy things, our family was happy until my husband went on a business trip when he came back he started acting strange he didn't have time for me and the kids anymore, last month he told me that he is tired of our marriage that he want a divorce at first I thought he was joking until he packed out of the house leaving me and the kids alone I was heartbroken I couldn't eat for some days I cried and cried and the kid was always asking for their dad i lied to them saying he went on a business trip I couldn't take it anymore I decided to search on how to get him back I came across Dr Great email I didn't want to email him at first but knowing am losing my husband I emailed him and explained my problem to him, he replied my mail and told me he will help me but I should give him sometime to consult the gods after sometime he told me that the spell was done. 28 hours later my husband came back begging for forgiveness and I forgive him now my marriage is save, all thanks to Dr Great for saving it. If your husband or wife left you and you want him or her back the right man to bring him or her back is Dr Great he is a good man he is a messager send by God to help us in time of problems he can put a stop to your problem email him at

William Coddington 6:11 AM  

😐 Hear, hear!
Result of NYT’s Crossword erosion of my intelligence.

Blue Stater 4:03 PM  

@TomAz – Sorry I’m a bit late getting back to you on your comment. I didn’t think Maleska’s puzzles were “mindless trivia.” On the contrary, I thought they were very mindful indeed. They evinced a meaty substance that to me far outshines Shortz’s mindless trickery for its own sake. YMMV, of course. Maleska tested our knowledge of worldly and linguistic fact. Shortz tests our ability to play word and logic games – his efforts are for the most part not crossword puzzles at all, IMO. I am hopeful that with Shortz’s coming retirement – the sooner the better – the pendulum will swing back and the great cultural asset that was the NYT crossword puzzle will be restored to us.

sanfranman59 12:17 PM  
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sanfranman59 12:19 PM  
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sanfranman59 12:37 PM  

This was my slowest Tuesday since early February 2016 and 50% above my 6-month median. Since Mr. Kingsley has mostly appeared on Friday and Saturday in the NYT, something tells me that Will is running short of early-week puzzles and tweaked the constructors cluing to suit a Tuesday solving audience (unsuccessfully, imho). While I agree that LEU and ANSA in particular are not in the language for most English speakers I know, I don't understand Rex's intolerance of some odd words but full of praise for anything current, no matter how obscure for much of the crossword-solving public. While I don't want to see a puzzle full of obscure words and hip-hop artists, I love learning new words and things, old or new.

Edac2day 4:43 AM  

Pretty sure “Indy” counts as an archaeological handle. This was awful!

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

Case in point... inhalational anesthetics (gas) do not provide any significant level of analgesia (numbness. They do provide immobility and amnesia.

Sloaka 9:44 AM  

This was exceedingly difficult for a Tuesday. So what...does that make it a good one or a bad one? I'm still relatively new.
But I know what I likes and what I don't likes. This was horrible all the way around. Ridiculous cluing and just stupid answers. "retro" does not mean BACKIN. Couldn't have worse clue for LICHEN. MIC isn't a hearing aid - if I have difficulty hearing I don't grab a MIC. Just.....I could keep going.

Ooh look! Candy canes made of candy! Who cares.

Grade: F

spacecraft 10:19 AM  

This might possibly be the single worst puzzle I have ever (somehow) successfully solved. You're gonna throw a South American tuber at me? On a TUESDAY??? OCA????? Wait, where's that Mongolian river? That beetle genus? More: OOH crossing AHA? And "Retro" = just BACKIN?? OK, maybe BACKINTHEDAY I could live with. But not just BACKIN. There's only one way to clue BACKIN: "How to parallel park."

There's more...tons more. I'm not buying it! If you're gonna clue HONEY via Winnie, you HAFTA spell it "HUNNY." Hey, I think there's a song in there. And what in the world--or out of it--does Saturn's rings have to do with an archaeological handle???

I never even heard of the movie "TANGLED," so I don't think Disney got their investment back on that one. Put an end to something: SIT. Groan! Yeah, I'll put an end to this; I've been too CHATTY as it is. I assume pop rocks and airheads are candy; must be regional. Didn't even look for a DOD. Will the rest of the week be like this? God, IHOPENOT!

thefogman 11:07 AM  

I hated this one. It was way too difficult for a Tuesday. Difficult is okay, but hard just for the sake of being hard is not okay. Some of the candies were not familiar (AIRHEADS, BITOHONEY). I finished in the middle. I had DaD before DVD (Dad was/is a TV series, although maybe not Netflix). Then I realized SAVVIER (who says SAVVIER?) was the answer to 32A, 27D became DVD and I was finally put out of my misery. It ENRAGES me when the constructor flexes his MUSSELS just to prop a lame theme up. Will we see more like this? HOPENOT!!!

thefogman 11:11 AM  

@Space - My last line unintentionally echoes yours.

Burma Shave 11:40 AM  




rondo 12:09 PM  

Knew the LEU, hard to answer the ANSA, finished it off there. Remembered TRIBORO signs from 2001 NY visit. ARTSALE, IRONLAW: green paint. A shore lunch/dinner around here includes walleye, not MUSSELS.

Yeah baby gotta be BITOHONEY Lauren Graham, portrayer of LORELAI Gilmore.

Wish I could say this puz ROCKS, wouldn’t be ATROPOS. BOHO HOE!

Diana, LIW 12:09 PM  

Eeeeyyyyeeeesss - twas hard for this early in the week. Hard due to woes, which isn't really hard, just unknown, in my book.

But ultimately doable. Sa all's fair, por moi.

@Burma - read that poetry over again - huh?

Off to eat some BURST RATS.

Diana, Lady

BS2 1:34 PM  

Way to go Ms. Ivy!
Lou, that woman doesn't look too bright. But we both jumped into the hot tub and used up all of our orgasms. But of course!
Mike O. Casaba

rainforest 3:16 PM  

I don't know what to make of this puzzle. I finished it correctly entering 5 flat-out guesses. At least, at the time of entering they were guesses. When I finished and perused the entire puzzle, I realized that they really weren't guesses, but simply things that (sort of) made sense: TRIBORO, BANTU, ATROPOS, LORALAI, BOHO. They really couldn't be anything else. ANSA I knew from somewhere, and LEU could only be LEU.

CANDY CANE was my first entry, natch, and once I got STARBURSTS, I knew that those CANDY CANES were made of or contained some brand of candy, though I didn't know the other three.

Compared to Douglas Fir, Hemlock, Cedar, Spruce and probably others, I'd say BIRCH bark is smooth.

So, I can't call this a "bad" puzzle. Bad puzzles, like the daily in the Vancouver Sun have answer/clues that absolutely make no sense. That wasn't the case here. I have to give it the rainforest stamp of approval.

@BS/@rondo - wha?

Tom M. 3:49 PM  

Sure, was able to piece this baby together, but no fun, no interest. Rex is right.

BS3 4:04 PM  




Way to go Ms. Ivy!
Lou, that woman doesn't look too bright. But we both jumped into the hot tub
and used up all of our orgasms. But of course!
Mike O. Casaba

Tom M. 5:05 PM  

BS3--You just made it fun and interesting.

Diana, LIW 8:55 PM  

Thanks @BS 1,2,3, or @Rondo, or whoever you are! I had most of it. Too funny. Glad @Tom got a kick out of it too.

Lady Di

Jimmy Wood 10:58 PM  

So nice to see a reference to Eugene Maleska, crossword guru in the youth of 86-year-old me. I wrote a letter to him once, surprised to get a page-long reply for the simple reason I lived in Hollywood. What movie stars did I know? He mistook my lower-middle-class geographical Hollywood for the city of legend. I had said I enjoyed his puzzles because (as Rex noted) I always learned new things from them. That was his objective, he said.

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