Soviet nuclear-powered submarine / THU 12-28-17 / Affair for bingers / Ancient kingdom east of Dead Sea

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Constructor: Gary Larson

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: UP THE ANTE (55A: Increase what is at stake ... or a hint to answering 20-, 30- and 46-Across) — letter string "ANTE" goes up (instead of continuing Across) in the three theme answers:

Theme answers:

WADPOSTER (20A: Where you might see a criminal)

DEBUTABALL (30A: Coming-out party)

DASINFERNO (46A: Account of a hellish trip?) 

Word of the Day: Abe BEAME (1A: 1970s New York City mayor) —
Abraham David "Abe" Beame (March 20, 1906 – February 10, 2001) was the 104th Mayor of New York City from 1974 to 1977. As mayor, he presided over the city during its fiscal crisis of the mid-1970s, during which the city was almost forced to declare bankruptcy. (wikipedia)
• • •

Not too hard to uncover this theme, and not too fun to uncover either. Feels like cheating to have one of the upped ANTEs be just ANTE in reverse, i.e. ETNA. I mean, the least you can do is disguise all the damn ANTEs inside other words. Also, very weird to have ACADEMICS and TURNABOUT just sitting there, same length as the adjacent themers but, you know, not themers. Those answers are in theme answer positions ... but aren't. So that was odd and disappointing. Actual theme answers in the grid are gibberish—nothing wacky about them. More disappointment. Fill is average to below average. There are some mildly interesting bits (IN DISARRAY, DRINKATHON), but mostly this is pretty bland fare. The only real inventive part involved finding places to put the upped ANTE. I don't count ETNA as "inventive," but PET NAMES and WETNAP work. "ETNA," it turns out, is not an easy letter string to work with. Still, would've liked this puzzle at least a tiny bit better if VIETNAM could've been worked in somehow (instead of ETNA). 

My NYC mayor knowledge does not go back to BEAME, so even though I've seen his name before, I needed almost every cross (1A: 1970s New York City mayor). Had no idea there was a [Soviet nuclear-powered submarine] called ALFA. I'm assuming Gary Larson is 10-to-20 years older than I am, given his frame of reference (and heavy reliance on old-school crossword answers, e.g. SWIT, ROC, AGAR, ESAU, RAU, etc.) Slowed myself way down with adjacent wrong letter guesses at 37A: J.F.K. posting, for short and 42A: Something a Mississippi cheerleader repeatedly calls for. ETA / ANS instead of ETD / ANI. Yet another thing that did not endear me to this puzzle. Wrong guesses are a part of solving life, but when they pile up, and they are in bad fill, pleasure diminishes. OK, gotta go make sure all the teenagers are out of my house now, i.e be the annoying dad, i.e. be myself. Bye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


John Hoffman 12:08 AM  

I thought that ANTE was a rebus answer, so I typed those letter in the three squares.

Ando 12:29 AM  

I really liked the Mississippi cheerleader clue.

Robin 12:38 AM  

ALFA was a class of Soviet submarines, using NATO terminology. Apparently the Russians called them the Lira class.

puzzlehoarder 12:38 AM  

TURNABOUT as "an act or instance of retaliating" is a new one to me. I did this on paper so there's no bells or whistles to announce my completion. This led to a little extra checking of the crosses. The 47D clue had me favoring IRAQ and the plausibility of EVENTFUL for 34D would have put a Q right next to a U in 60A and what are the odds of that just being a coincidence? Apparently very good as those letters made no sense in 60A and there's no way 54A could be RAF. Still I was doubting TURNABOUT. I just think of it as a synonym for 'about face'. It's always a bonus to learn a new (to me at least) nuance.

A tip of the Santa's cap to the constructor on his debut. In his xwordinfo comments he makes some good points about dealing with the arbitrariness of the editor's rules.

I didn't see the ANTES doing their head stands until I read Jeff Chen's comments. I'm okay with that as theme deciphering isn't a big priority for me.

Moly Shu 12:39 AM  

Finished correctly but somehow parsed it DEBUT ANTEBALL, and thought it was some kind of southern thing I’d never heard of. Maybe akin to antebellum. I don’t know.

BarbieBarbie 12:41 AM  

I loved this puzzle. Fun cluing. A double-aha as you figure out the rebus, then realize it can’t be a rebus, then suddenly get the meaning of the revealer. So satisfying. More, please.

Greg Charles 1:13 AM  

Gary Larson is the creator of The Far Side. I suppose this isn't the same one? Does anyone know?

Tom Gilson 1:21 AM  

@puzzlehoarder The clue for turnabout in the paper was "an act or instance of retaliating"? Strange. The clue online was "Fair play, to some." Wonder why there was a difference!

Larry Gilstrap 1:35 AM  

I've seen folks complaining about lack of theme symmetry in this very venue. Am I supposed to expect that consistency or not? Help me here! I, too, wrote in a bunch of letters in a box in the NW, then realized that was not the ticket. All in all, not a bad conceit for Thursday.

M*A*S*H, the movie and the TV show, were a big deal. Loretta SWIT played "Hot Lips" Houlihan in the latter. This just in! Her moniker no longer makes the list of acceptable PET NAMES. Did anyone ever call her that to her face? I guess that makes it alright. I sure wouldn't have called ESAU "Hairy Guy" to his face. Maybe, behind his hairy back. Red-haired step child, indeed. The guy had issues, but then again, who doesn't?

On the culinary front, SPAM is a meat product? Good to know. I like adult beverages as much as the next guy, but a DRINKATHON takes binging to a new low. Getting drunk is passe. Ever been to a Karaoke bar? I rest my case.

UOMO takes me back to a bike trip in Holland where I lived on a canal boat with a bunch of Euros. The Italians were more delightful than annoying, I'm looking at you Germans. Laura was a bit rustic, and who wears a mini-skirt on a bicycle? She seemed friendly, but had no interest in English or childish Italian. One night we went strolling through the streets of Schoonhoven looking at the silver in the storefronts. I tried to promise to buy her something the next day. The words got stuck in my throat. Oh, the curse of Babel!

Brief rant: "The Blues Brothers" were the rage. Were their cover efforts tributes or goofs? I suspect the latter. Remember that movie "The Commitments" about Irish potty mouths covering Black American soul music? Wow, these folks sound almost as good as the original artists, apparently, was reason enough to listen to them. I admire a good cover band, but the goal should be interpretation and not imitation. ELWOOD was a comic character, no more, no less.

redanman on fire 1:48 AM  

Solved on my Amazon Fire, so a little slow. Thought a one way rebus, duh - wrongo. Clever me, didn't look closely enough. Cuteish, I guess. Easy.

Trombone Tom 2:25 AM  

A little different for a Thursday, but not too challenging.

Tried BEAnE for NYC Mayor, but couldn't account for nOPPETS.

Liked the clue for DRY.

Cartoonist Gary Larson retired over 20 years ago and his many fans can only wish for his return.

The very idea of DRINKATHON is revolting to this geezer.

Gregory Nuttle 2:27 AM  

@Greg Charles, per the Wordplay blog entry for today:

"No, this is not the cartoonist Gary Larson of “The Far Side.” If that was the case, there would probably be giant mutant insects crawling out of your puzzle."

jae 2:31 AM  

@Larry - your comment leads me to "suspect" you never saw the movie?

joebloggs 3:07 AM  

However the constructor didn’t do his homework. It’s misspelled. It’s ALPHA not ALFA. They were just designated after different letters of the military phonetic alphabet. Needs to change the clue to have something to do with the Italian car manufacturer and not a Soviet submarine.

Kevin 3:25 AM  

Wikipedia says it is right.

Anonymous 3:28 AM  

@joebloggs - ALFA is the proper spelling of the NATO code word.

da kine 3:31 AM  

joebloggs, you are incorrect. The NATO phonetic alphabet spells it "alfa" and (at least according to Wikipedia),the Soviet sub was also spelled "alfa". "Alpha" is the first letter of the Greek alphabet.

MaharajaMack 3:42 AM  

So does I. I’ve read lotsa Tom Clancy novels.

Thomaso808 4:03 AM  

DNF on UOMO / LEMME. I had UOtO / LEtME. I don’t know any Italian, and I missed the “wanna” hint. It was more painful cuz I changed my ANTE rebuses back and forth to A’s twice before giving up.

Huge congrats to Gary Larson on his debut, who says in Xwordinfo that he got 41 rejected submissions before getting this one accepted! He says Will kept encouraging him, but wow! Way to persevere, Gary!

S'up 6:40 AM  

55a -Increase what is at stake ... or a hint to answering 20-, 30- and 46-Across : UPTHEANTE

44a. All ___ up : SHOOK

14a. Touch base : TAGUP

gerry Kelly 6:56 AM  

When i saw the name gary Larson I was hoping it was thee gary Larson!! Could you imagine far side type crossword puzzles!!

webwinger 7:01 AM  

Among the massive (and frequently well deserved) collateral damage of the #metoo moment/movement is the banishment from cultural reference and enjoyment of many once iconic pieces of entertainment. I never really watched M*A*S*H on TV but vividly recall the movie, particularly the scene in which nurse Hot Lips, who got her nickname (used to her face) after being humiliated by a surreptitiously broadcast intimate conversation, was further abused in a “prank” engineered by her male army medical colleagues that left her publicly naked. It was cringeworthy on the screen at the time, and now seems almost unbelievably cruel, the moreso for having been directed at a woman brave enough to volunteer for a very dangerous humanitarian assignment. She took it “like a man” and won increased respect as a result. Hard to believe it once made us laugh and helped establish the serious reputations of its director and stars.

Hungry Mother 7:17 AM  

Not happy that my rebuses didn’t solve it.

Trey 7:20 AM  

Isnt there a phrase “turnabout is fair play”?

Trey 7:25 AM  

Ditto on UOtO and LEtME - does not seem fair since Italian is much kess likely to be taught in schools here in the US compared to French and Spanish and LEtME is a reasonable answer

kitshef 7:25 AM  

Very good theme, well executed. BEA_E/_OPPTES my nominee for Natick of the day. I’m very fond of the theme results: DUBUTABALL ain’t so hot, but DAS INFERNO and WAS POSTER float my boat.

Odd clue for PUMA. Certainly it’s true that they are fast, but speed is just not what I think of when I think of PUMAs.

Z 7:57 AM  

I liked this way way more than Rex. ETNA was a bit of a cheat, true, but overall I liked all three themers and the revealer is spot on. The equal length non-themers is another flaw, but minor and didn’t really bother me as I solved. I did double check both of them, though, to make sure they weren’t theme related. I see others saying this is a debut. Congrats and nicely done.

@Larry Gilstrap - The theme answers are symmetrical, one of them symmetrical with the revealer. If Larsen had managed to get all the ETNA letter-strings to be symmetrical as well would have been an added touch of elegance. I think in a Sunday puzzle (with more themer placement options) we might more reasonably expect more symmetry, Here, the three themers make symmetry impossible. What would have been worse in my opinion would have been to have partial symmetry with two symmetrical answers and one lone answer going STAG.

QuasiMojo 8:07 AM  

Abe BEAME, who was 5ft 2in tall, was mayor when the NY Post ran that infamous headline "FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD." He also was mayor during the 1977 blackout. A former accountant, he lacked the matinee idol appeal of Mayor Lindsay, or the chutzpah of Ed Koch who came after. If you lived in NYC in the 70s as I did, it's hard to forget him.

I had a beef with SPAM. It is a brand name not a "meat." It's made from ham and pork and flavorings. And a TON of salt.

I got the gimmick pretty early on with WANTED POSTER but also thought it was a rebus. I was too lazy to type in the extra letters. Then at the end I had a slight OOH moment, realizing the missing letters went straight up.

Fun debut.

And while a bit lackluster, and bland, as Rex points out, and a bit old school (STAG), I much prefer it to the Star Wars/Star Trek/Harry Potter/Top 40s/comic book stuff we too often get nowadays.

TomAz 8:10 AM  

Count me among those who thought those squares were supposed to be rebuses. Oops.

Disliked: ANA, RAU (dunno either), DRINKATHON, ANDS. Although if you're gonna have ANDS in there I liked the way it was clued.


All in all this worked.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Not nearly clever enough or appropriately challenging for a Thursday. Dollars to doughnuts BEQ will unleash something far better.

spamh8er 9:01 AM  

@QuasiMojo: you know ham and pork are the same thing, right? That said, there are so many mysterious ingredients that go into Spam™ I would counsel against eating it.

Source: I grew up in the town that made/makes Spam™.

TL;DR: Spam™ is terrible.

evil doug 9:15 AM  

If you want to see a Thursday puzzle done right, check out the WSJ.

Wm. C. 9:19 AM  

@Tom Gilson --

In my copy of the NYT, the clue for 60A ("Turnabout") is "Fair Play, to Some."

Non Gary Larson 9:26 AM  

@Greg, I think it might be the real Gary Larson. The only thing we have is a heavily disguised pic.

Birchbark 9:45 AM  

No lifelong education is complete without a visit to the SPAM Museum in Austin, MN (home of Hormel Foods). You go in thinking Spam is too salty, but you leave proud to be an American. And convinced that without that particular brand of canned meat, World War II would have turned out differently.

Speaking of meat brands, I might have clued DEBUTABALL as "The turkey with a Boston accent?"

Numinous 9:45 AM  

Whiskey tango foxtrot, senility seems to be creeping up on me. Half the time I can only remember about half the letters of the phonetic alphabet (or should that be alfabet?), other times I can reel them off without a thought. Somehow, anomia, the curse of us over 50s, doesn’t really seem to be a problem with crosswords.

I filled in all the ANTEs as rebuses too before I closely reread the revealer. SADly, without ETNA, there was no way to get the first themer even in the fourth row. For the life of me I couldn’t remember “The Far Side” so the name of the constructor plagued me throughout the solve. Continuing disremembering TFS, when I read Gary Larson’s comments I thought it wouldn’t be unreasonable for a cartoonist to be a stand-up comedian as well. Ya gotta give him a kudos* for hanging in after 41 rejections and 16 revisions.

Side note: LEtME does not matchup with “l wanna” in the clue. Knowing how important it is to read clues closely, we all miss that from time to time. Figuring that out can sometimes be part of the fun of solving.

Before I got SWIT, I remembered the name Loretta and couldn’t get Lynn out of my head for the longest time. The SW was my nemesis today but, even so, I still finished this twenty minutes under par which was a tad disappointing. When they are this easy, my coffee gets cold much faster as I don’t have moments in which to sip and think.

MOPPET and TURNABOUT is fair play are very common in England and Australia so they came to me easily. Contrary to @Rex’s apparent belief that everything in a puzzle should be instantly accessible as commonly in the language of everyone everyone solving, I think that would be boring. Kind of like those vocabulary crossword puzzles that teachers might make for their fourth graders. We all have different experiences and and bring different things to the solve. Some solutions are easy and others are learning experiences. What fun! I don’t read Tom Clancy so I had no idea about the ALFA class of submarines. I’m sure you all would be distraught (and Will would disallow it) if I made a puzzle with the occasional clue referencing Discworld.**

Anyway, this was a terrific DEBUT[ANTE]BALL for Gary Larson “the intrepid”.

*Kudos is singular in Greek.
** Terry Pratchet, well loved English author has written between 36 and 40 books set in Discworld. If you like satirical fantasy, you should look these up. He recently died of Alzheimer’s but his daughter picked up his mantle and has finished some books he had in the works.

Benjamin Franklin Pierce 9:47 AM  

Thanks to @webwinger for that enlighting essay. I missed all of that when I watched the movie. I did notice however, that Sally Kellerman had realy, really sexy legs.

GILL I. 9:48 AM  

Not a bad Thursday. A bit on the easy side. Saw the ANTE at DEBUT A BALL. Immediately went to the reveal at 55A and UP THE ANTE it was. voila! Game over.
Then I went a wandering to see what words appealed to me. SPAM! It's the new go to foodies like to promote. So many ways to serve it up. The Hawaiians like it a lot. They have a SPAM Musui and then there's the Spamaletta and the Speuben and the list goes on. My dad loved a SPAM sandwich on rye with thinly sliced onions and stone ground mustard.
Liked the clue for PET NAMES although I do't think any one has called me sugar. DRINKATHON sounds a bit deadly. Are they now finally outlawed at Frat parties? WET NAP ? Something you do in your sleep?
Liked starting with BEAME and ending with SWAYS. He tried to but wasn't very luck. My favorite New York mayor was John Lindsay only because he was so good to look at. Then Ed Koch comes along.
Congratulations on the debut Gary Larson. I hope to see you again.

Nancy 9:49 AM  

This puzzle was easy enough that I didn't fall into the rebus trap that so many others fell into. For my part, all I knew was that several NTEs had gone missing. I had to get to the revealer to find out why. Then I said: I bet those letters can be found right above the theme answers, as in UP THE ANTE and, sure 'nuff, there they were. Well constructed. Very well constructed. But it's Thursday and I much rather would have had an actual rebus. Wouldn't you?

My only real problems were 1) having ETa instead of ETD at 37A, and not knowing if the cheerleader wanted AN S or AN I at 42A. Nor did I know ANA Gasteyer (64A). These three small Acrosses prevented me from seeing IN DISARRAY (29D) until the very end. (Even with more Acrosses, it's kind of a DOOK-y answer, anyway.) Other than that, no problems.

It's 14 bleeping degrees right now in NYC. I'm hibernating. I wish there had been a lot more challenge in this puzzle and that it had kept me much more engrossed...and for longer.

Wm. C. 10:07 AM  

@Nancy --

You think it's cold in NYC? You should be up here west of Boston now. I am here, but tomorrow I'll be in Southwest Florida. ;-)

irongirl 10:22 AM  

To some, getting even/revenge (turnabout) is simply fair play.

Others appreciate forgiveness/being the bigger person. Yay others.

pabloinnh 10:22 AM  

-15 here in NH, but don't tell your neighbor, as he will say -18 at my house. First lie always loses.

Those who thought uoto was OK probably think of us as hoto sapiens.

Two Ponies 10:30 AM  

I loved this. I knew there was some funny business afoot but avoided the revealer until the very end. So much fun.
It played for me like reading a good book.

I could not understand "bingers" for the longest time because I was pronouncing to rhyme with "swingers."

Fantastic debut Mr. Larson.

Now I'm going to take @ed's advice and swing over to the WSJ.

'mericans in Paris 10:33 AM  

I wasn't going to attempt today's, as I assumed it would be too difficult. But then I tried a few answers ANDS got hooked. Like several others, I entered the theme squares as rebuses and of course got the message telling me that the puzzle wasn't correct. Did not notice until coming here that ANTE goes UP from the theme answers. Wow, how cool is that! Had I seen that, I would have finished a lot faster. Duh!

I was hoping, too, that it was the cartoonist Gary Larson turned crossword constructor. Oh well. In any case, congratulations, GL!

Pretty clean fill for the most part. Never heard of TREY, nor TURNABOUT as fair play, but the rest is pretty good. Really liked IN DISARRAY and the German version of that literary classic, DAS INFERNO. DEBUT A BALL sounds like a trick volley return.

Surprised that nobody commented on BLOW alongside ETNA. It's gonna do that one of these days. SHOOK would have been good in that corner, too.

Most puzzles have somethin' Hawaiian in them, so I suppose that SPAM counts for this one. Some of the grocery stores in the 50th state stock their shelves with a dozen varieties, including -- yes, lo-fat bacon SPAM. I guess adding bacon reduces the average fat content.

Here's MUD in your eye. Or, to quote the great ELWOOD GOAD: "Ad HOC UMA ANI RAU. TWA ESAU ROC."

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

@Nancy hibernating AND whining.

Pet Monkey 10:44 AM  

@ webwinger, The disappearing shower curtain scene was hilarious. Hot Lips' sexuality was a vital element of her character. She was proud to be smart and capable but also used her sex appeal frequently. In the TV show when visiting brass would arrive they often chuckled together alluding to prior encounters. She might have pretended to be embarrassed in that scene but I suspect she loved the attention.
Men and women laughing and teasing about sex can be fun.

QuasiMojo 10:45 AM  

@spamhater, ham and pork are not the same thing. Ham is a type of pork but not all pork is ham.

jberg 10:56 AM  

Not only did I misunderstand the revealer, I thought the "up" implied that the rebus should have been in the downs, rather than in the acrosses -- then I came here and read @Rex, and boy, is my face red. Now I like the puzzle a lot better.

Same ETa and AN s as so many others, but my most fun problem was reading "Affair for bingers" and thinking it was something about users of a certain search engine. I needed most of the crosses to sort that one out.

I'm a bit surprised that some aren't familiar with the saying "Turnabout is fair play," as I've been hearing it all my life. Just goes to show how diverse the crossworld is.

Nancy 11:10 AM  

I've liked all our NYC Mayors a lot -- including (surprise, surprise, everyone) Republicans Giuliani and Bloomberg. The one huge exception was Abe BEAME -- surely the most hapless and ineffectual Mayor the city ever had. He headed the city during the '70's fiscal crisis -- a crisis he was ill-suited and completely unable to TURN_ABOUT. Fortunately, there were two leaders who managed to save the city from total DISARRAY: Governor Hugh Carey and banker Felix Rohatyn. They were the white knights of the era, they proved to be incredibly resourceful, and we New Yorkers will always be grateful to them. Were it not for them, we might be Hoboken today. (Oh, dear, there's no one on the blog from Hoboken, is there?)

Time to drool, @GILL. I met John Lindsay on a high school class trip to D.C. He was possibly even more gorgeous in real life. Unfortunately, I only came up to his kneecap, so I missed most of him. You might have fared much better, from what you say about your height.

@Wm C (10:07) -- I just spent the last hour researching resorts, hotels, and vrbos in southwestern FL. Your planned escape tomorrow makes me green with envy. You don't happen to stay somewhere where you don't need a car, do you? I don't drive and southeastern FL is not very hospitable to people on foot.

Joseph Michael 11:13 AM  

Congrats to Mr. Larson on his NYT DEBUT after 41 rejections. Now that is perseverance!

Liked all of the themers, especially DA(NTE)S INFERNO. Just wish there had been at least one more.

Also liked the clever cluing for AN I since the repeated letter might have been an S or P.

Knew UOMO because it was the name of an Italian men's store in San Francisco where I once bought a leather jacket.

The act of having a COW seems to be a recurring phenomenon in the NYT of late. Some attribute the expression to Bart Simpson, but it's true origin may go back to Gertrude Stein who in the 1920s used it as a metaphor for having an orgasm. Gives the clue for 45D a whole new meaning.

Amelia 11:19 AM  

Also in the NY Times today. JACOBSON--Maura B.,

New York magazine's well-loved crossword compiler, died on Christmas Day in White Plains, New York. She was 91. A Brooklyn native, Maura was born on April 28, 1926, and graduated from New York City's Hunter College at 19 years of age. Her career began as a kindergarten teacher in the Bronx, where she lived, married and had one child. In 1964, she became a three-times Jeopardy! winner when the television show was just three weeks old. Maura soon turned her intelligence towards constructing crossword puzzles. Teaching herself the art and carefully honing it over the following years, it wasn't long before she began submitting puzzles to The New York Times for its Sunday magazine. Maura worked for Cue magazine for two-and-a-half years, until the publication was taken over by New York magazine in 1980, and her first byline appeared on its pack page on May 19th. For the next three decades Maura never missed one week, and developing a faithful and enthusiastic fan base across the United States in the process. With her considerable creativity and vivacious vocabulary, she routinely tested and delighted her loyal following with her wit and punning--indeed many fans claimed they owed their entire magazine subscription alone to her puzzles. A best-selling author of more than 25 crossword books, her work was described by former New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor Will Weng as: "...piquing your interest from the start, and holding it with wittiness, inventiveness and pleasant variety." The newspaper said she was 'revered among puzzle devotees', and American Crossword Puzzle Tournament founder and director Will Shortz said Maura was 'a national treasure.' A judge and annual contributor to the national competition for more than 30 years, Maura finally hung up her pencil in 2011 and was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the panel of the tournament in 2016. Maura passed away peacefully on Monday with her family and devoted husband of 69 years, Dr. Jerome Jacobson, at her side. She leaves behind her husband Jerome, daughter Jo, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Her funeral will be held at the Ballard-Durand Funeral Home in White Plains on Friday, December 29, at 10am.

JC66 11:23 AM  

I',m embarrassed to admit that I parsed 10 D "stinger" with a hard G for way to long.


Your "WET NAP ? Something you do in your sleep?" is hilarious.

QuasiMojo 11:27 AM  

Thanks @Amelia, for the Maura Jacobson obit. I used to be addicted to her puzzles.

QuasiMojo 11:34 AM  

@Nancy, you wouldn’t need a car in Sarasota or St Pete, both have good walkable downtowns with great restaurants, museums and galleries. But if you want to be on the beach, you are better off at one of the resorts. Sanibel is sweet if you like quiet and shell hunting. Fernadina Beach on the east coast is a nice walkable town on Amelia island. But a bit chillier until March. Also Cedar Key on the gulf side is cute and walkable but you better like bikers and beer bashes.

old timer 11:42 AM  

DNF because I did not know the names in the SW and had "an m" instead of ANI. Of course I did finish once I looked up those names. ELWOOD a vaguely knew but when I think "blues brothers" I think of the performers and not the characters.

My paper is printed in Palo Alto where the Western edition of the WSJ is also printed. My paper copy of the puzzle had the same clues that were online. I guess the New York edition was different?

Whatsername 11:46 AM  

Made the same mistake as Rex with a Mississippi S instead of I - simply because there are more of them. Also did not remember Mayor Beame and had "poppets" instead of moppets in 4D. But overall I thought it was a fun Thursday, pretty easy reveal but clever enough to make it fun. My only disappointment was only 3 theme answers. That and wishing the other Gary Larson would start doing cartoons again. [sigh]

jb129 11:48 AM  

Gotta agree with Rex.

Carola 11:49 AM  

Very enjoyable. I needed the reveal to tell me what to do with the "missing" NTEs, and then that helped me get my last theme answer, DA[NTE]S INFERNO. Btw, DAS INFERNO makes sense in German. Loved the clue for TURN ABOUT.

Whatsername 11:50 AM  

Oops. Meant to say same number of them - S vs I.

GHarris 11:55 AM  

Liked it a lot and didn’t realize how clever it actually is until I read Rex’s unfairly disparaging review which alerted me to the antes concealed in non theme answers.

Wileyfex 11:58 AM  

The clue in my print paper is Fair play, to some

Calman Snoffelevich 12:02 PM  

Can someone please explain 58D and 60D?

Masked and Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Cool DEBUT, ANTEd UP here.
Congratz, Mr. Larson. Wish we could see your first rejection puz of the 42. Always good for a few laughs, as was my first flameout.

staff weeject pick: RAU. [Thor Heyerdahl's next rejected boat, after the Ra T.]
fave ow de speration: UOMO. LTCOL. MOAB.

Thanx, [Near Side] Gary Larson. Way to hang in there, dude.

Masked & Anonym007Us

Nancy 12:06 PM  

Thanks for the suggestions, Quasi. I'll do some online research now. Am I right that you live in FL? Think I remember that you do. If so, you'd be something of an expert on vacation options.

Hamish not Spamish 12:19 PM  

@ Nancy, My experiences in FL showed me that the east coast is full of New Yorkers and the west coast must have a direct pipeline to the Midwest for the snowbirds of MI, OH, & IN.

Ellen S 12:20 PM  

Hand up for thinking it was a one-way rebus. At least I realized that the missing letters were all the same.

Ando 12:51 PM  

This one says he has been a standup comic for a couple decades so presumably not that Gary Larson. (plus if it were there would be a lot more animal humor in the puzzle.)

QuasiMojo 12:53 PM  

@Nancy, I'm no expert on the vacation angles, just the lifestyle ones. And yes, I do live here. It was supposed to be part-time but I ended up lingering. I try to spend three months a year up north. So I am a somewhat snowbird. As for Hamish's remarks, that might be true further south but I have found that a lot of the seasonal people in the Tampa Bay area are actually from Oregon and Washington state and Colorado. I've reached my limit for comments today. Talk to you tomorrow. :)

Joe Bleaux 1:02 PM  

@Wileyfax, it's "Fair play ... " in my print version too, fwiw.

puzzlehoarder 1:18 PM  

@Tom Gilson, the quote I put in my comment was taken from the "2d" definition of TURNABOUT in Webster's dictionary. Right after the section I quoted it gives the phrase " Turnabout is fair play" in parentheses with a blank in place of the word TURNABOUT. I didn't include that second half of the definition as I try to keep my comments brief. Apparently this is a well known phrase to some but I'd never heard of it.

Joe Welling 1:22 PM  

@ Calman Snoffelevich --

TREY is a card-player's word for a three.

Beverage cans were once only opened with can-openers piercing holes in the top, then were later opened with TAB tops (where you pulled a ring and removed a small tab of metal).

Kimberly 1:30 PM  

“Turnabout is fair play” is a pretty well-entrenched idiom. It shows up endlessly in literature and films and tv. I’m trying to imagine how one gets through life without hearing/reading it.

Ps- for an example of mature criticism, including finding the positive, once again check out crossword fiend.

Roo Monster 1:34 PM  

Hey All !
Here is the Spam skit from Monty Python. It's an extended scene which has elements of other skits from earlier in the show.

Liked puz overall, but seemed too many Abbr.'s. But the end result is pretty good, with the ANTEs UP. Didn't rebus the NTE, as the Downs didn't jive with a rebus. Took me till the revealer to see the ruse.

I still have Gary's rejection number beat.


mathgent 1:42 PM  

UTA, Queen of Crosswordese, R.I.P. The constructor reports that Will Shortz wouldn't allow him to use UTA in today's puzzle, insisting on UMA instead.

I just got back from 9:30 Mass which was said by the aging Father Landi. Afterwards he was greeting us as we left. "Good morning, Father," I said, "Nice to see you." "Better to be seen than to be viewed," he said.

@Joseph Michael (11:13). I remember UOMO, the men's store. I think that it has been gone for decades. I didn't know it was Italian for "man." From "homo," I suppose.

I liked it very much. Gary Larson seems to be a very bright guy.

mathgent 1:48 PM  

There's a hot new restaurant here in SF featuring Hawaiian food. They serve a SPAM dish, but it's made with good meat.

Joe Bleaux 1:56 PM  

Favorite cartoon by the first famous Gary Larson: In the cockpit, co-pilot says to captain: "Huh! Wonder what a billy goat's doin' way up here in a cloud bank?" Congrats to the newly famous Gary Larson, king of perseverance, on the debut! @Rex: Medium? I thought it was closer to easy, 'specially for a Thursday. Hands up @kitshef: Me too, re PUMA. I think stealth, not speed, and @QuasiMojo: Amen! Welcome mats for Star Wars / Harry Potter references are in tatters; get a clue.
PS -- Re SPAM: Best if eaten without reading the can. Goes with sweet onions, saltines, and a nice Merlot. Or try it fried!

Monty Boy 2:28 PM  

I got most of this one with two lookups. Didn't know Lacedaemon or Santha Rama ____. Took me a while, as most late week puzzles do. Also fell into the Rebus trap. It is Thursday after all.

For other novices (or slow folks like I am), here's my rules for deciding a DNF:
M/T - no googling (if that's a word)
W/Th - no more than 3 or 4
Fri/Sat - unlimited.
I know that's a "cheat" but it works for me.

Bob Mills 2:49 PM  

Once again I finished a puzzle without getting the theme. I was just about to complain that "ANTE" wasn't missing, only "NTE" was. Then I saw the "NTE" going UP from the A. I guess I should give myself a "B" for finishing it with ignorance.

One minor complaint. "STEAD" does mean "PLACE." But it's never pluralized. If I'm going somewhere in place of several people, I would say, "I'm here in their STEAD." I wouldn't say, "I'm here in their STEADS." Instead, that is.

Charles Flaster 2:54 PM  

I have stayed for extended periods of time in South Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Did not have or need a car. LOVED not having one.

Charles Flaster 2:56 PM  

Terrific, intelligent debut( ANTE ),
Loved clue and misdirect for EONS.
Thanks GL.

Calman Snoffelevich 5:43 PM  

Thank you. Why is a TREY least likely to turn a trick? Is it referencing a particular game?

Calman Snoffelevich 5:47 PM  

@ JOE WELLING -- Sorry I thought that the reply would show up directly after your comment.

Matsuo Basho 5:53 PM  

Days constipated
Finally a healthy dump
Nirvana abides

Candy Darling 6:00 PM  

Is it true that evil doug was in the USAF?

Oldflappyfrommississappy 6:02 PM  

@Larry Jockstrap, keep babbling bruh.

retired guy 6:16 PM  

trey = three. in bridge, it would be quite rare to take a trick with a three.

for the record, the headline "Ford to City: Drop Dead" was from the NY Daily News, not the NY Post.

Eric Rodgers 9:39 PM  

Yup. That was me, too.

Anonymous 10:25 PM  

Fuck YOU

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:28 AM  

I guess not bad for a debut puzzle, but not so good for NYT Thursday standards.

NIE, RAU, ROC, MOAB, SWIT, BEAME, TAGUP, MOPPETS were the answers I wasn't particularly fond of. Some nice longer answers to cover up for those, but the fill simply felt stale. Unfortunately, the same was true for the theme. Good answers, but only three of them so it doesn't totally make up for what the puzzle is missing in quality. %26.3 3-letter words and %28.9 4-letter words demand at least one other good theme entry.

Now, I've read that the constructor is a professional comedian, and it did surely show up in the clues. "Leave hanging, maybe", "future fish", "End of many a Trump tweet", "Volcanoes develop over them" and "Blast from the past, astronomically speaking?" were legit good. Some clues felt like they were trying too hard to be difficult/tricky, so not perfect, but good enough. However, all things considered, this one didn't exactly lighten my day -or night, I guess-. An OK job.

GRADE: C+, 2.95 stars.

+wordphan 3:21 AM  

Rex mentioned “old school...” Larson isn’t that old. Yes, and more Animal references, I guess.

Ana Carla Moppets 9:57 PM  

Thought it was terribly clever to have UP THE ANTE (Or ANTE UP) very cool.
Like others, was sure a rebus and that NTE were missing so at one point I decided the theme might be "Hang TEN" like the TEN/NTE was hanging over the puzzle. Or NET.
(Anyway, perhaps an idea for someone in that).

My grandpa was close friends with ABE BEAME back in the 50s and 60s in Brooklyn, I guess. So in highschool, I was visiting my grandparents in NY and was invited to go by Mary (?) Beame to visit Gracie mansion with my grandmother Maidie.

I'll never forget it. The First Lady was wearing slippers, and had this heavy Brooklyn accent and said "Here is where (The queen or someone) visited", "Over here we had the President", etc.
She was like this schleppy housewife who was put upon to have to meet and greet dignitaries. No hoity-toity airs there, for sure!
It is a bizarre, but fond memory.

pcardout 5:20 AM  

Love the Beame, Gracie Mansion story. I thought ANTE was cute and that "up the ante" was a very clear clue indicating it wasn't a rebus.

spacecraft 11:08 AM  

Did the NW, saw WADPO____, said huh?, looked for reveal clue, found it (gimme), grokked at once. So the themed stuff was a piece of cake. But the fill was already in trouble with LTCOL atop ONEPM--and things got worse. RAU?? UOMO??? ANI ANA? Help, this wheel of fortune vowel-buying is making me dizzy!

Obviously, many have engaged in a personal DRINKATHON, but to name it as a sort of public event seems beyond the pale. Other than that the longer fill seems OK; it's the short stuff that's INDISARRAY.

The puzzle wound up being easy-medium, thanks to a weird SW. Clever, different theme idea, but he dropped the "DEBUTABALL" on the fill. Nothing a little experience and patience can't cure, so I say stick with it. Lots of old familiar DOD title holders today, but let's give the sash to one who doesn't appear that often--and who surely qualifies: Loretta SWIT. Giving this one a par: gotta encourage the new blood.

thefogman 11:38 AM  

Foiled by MOPPETS and BEAME. I had lapPETS (little dogs etc.) and everything else in the NW was a shambles. "Not fun" as Rex stated above sums it up. I saw the across ETNA theme early on but I only saw the down ETNAs after reviewing my unaccomplished work. I was INDISARRAY because of the NY-centric cluing and that awful LTCOL. Harder than usual for a Thursday. A bit DRY. One for the ACADEMICS. LEMME be clear: This one is to puzzles what SPAM is to meat.

Burma Shave 11:49 AM  


LEMME say they were EVENTUALly gone.
He SHOOK as he SWAYS finding DRINKs on TREYs


rondo 12:40 PM  

What does an Alabama cheerleader repeatedly call for? ANA. Just clue ANI as DiFranco and save the space. Especially when there’s just as many esses. And what’s wrong with St. ELMOS Fire in STEADS of multi-dolls? DASINFERNO looks German-ish and WADPOSTER just weird. Had to write over earnED with NETTED.

Knew ELWOOD from the flick and further engrained by visits to the House of Blues. I have stayed at a motel in Jamestown, ND that has a STATUE of Jake and ELWOOD Blues out front; posed for pics with it, of course.

MOAB, UT. Arches Nat’l Park. Go there. Or raft on the Colorado River. Fun times.

And just what are your reveries if you take a WETNAP?

Yeah baby UMA should get royalties for being so xword friendly.

If this was a DEBUT I gotta say atta BOY.

Tom M. 2:22 PM  

Nice and easy. WANTEDPOSTER revealed the revealer early on when ETNA showed up like a neon sign. Loved it.

Diana, LIW 2:25 PM  

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Har.

I was so proud of myself for getting the rebus - my puzzle nemesis. A tough nut to fully crack, but crack it I did. Pats on the back all around. Tiara in place, royal scepter on hand.

Then I come here, only to see the ANTEs going up. Up, up, up. "See ANTE run." The joke was more clever by half. And 'twas on me.

So not a complete DNF, but at least a DNG - "did not get."

Egg on face. At least it's a tasty egg.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and the punchline

rainforest 2:58 PM  

Well, I got quite tangled up with this one, through stupidity mainly. At 1D/2D/20A, I was looking for a rebus. It took me an embarrassing length of time to accept that BLOW was the answer to ID as is. So I was looking at W(ant)AD POSTER. Told you I was stupid.

Anyway, I left the relevant parts of the other two themers blank, incorrectly put in Tit for taT for the fair play clue, and then hit the revealer. Can you imagine my chagrin at that point? Even after I correctly applied the theme revealer, I still had to deal with fair play. UNO and UOMO finally gave me TURNABOUT (head slap) and that was that.

So, for me, challenging, but exultant. I might go on a DRINKATHON. Actually, I many have experienced one, long ago, but I don't think it was called that then.

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