Yachter's itinerary / THU 1-25-18 / Boastful mother of Greek myth / 1950s service site / Music boomlet of mid-90s / Japanese meal in box

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: ISLAND HOPPING (33A: Yachter's itinerary, maybe ... or a hint to understanding the answers to the starred clues) — answers to starred clues "hop" island names, creating other answers, which are nowhere clued

Theme answers:
  • SCUBA TANK (16A: *Smelled) ... so STANK "hops" CUBA
  • CONCRETES (24A: *They're not pros) ... and CONS hops CRETE
  • VERBALISE (46A: *Poetry) ... and VERSE hops BALI
  • BALTIMORE (55A: *Hayloft item) ... and finally BALE hops TIMOR
Word of the Day: OTIS College of Art and Design (52D: Los Angeles's ___ College of Art and Design) —
Otis, long considered one of the major art institutions in California, began in 1918, when Los Angeles Times founder Harrison Gray Otis bequeathed his Westlake, Los Angeles, property to start the first public, independent professional school of art in Southern California. The current Otis College main campus (since Spring 1997) is located in the Westchester area of Los Angeles, close to the Los Angeles International Airport. The main building (built in 1963) was designed by architect Eliot Noyes for IBM and is famous for its computer "punched card" style windows. (wikipedia)
• • •

My daughter was just (literally, just ten minutes ago) describing to me her experience seeing "Once On This Island" in NYC at the Circle in the Square Theatre this past weekend, so that was a semi-odd coincidence. Islands! OK, this theme works fine, I think. Yeah. I mean, the resulting answers are super-random and weird and have nothing to do with anything, but the revealer is a nice play on words, and the execution of the theme is consistent, and ... yeah, sure, I"ll take it. I found the cluing off and irksome in some places, but when is that ever not true? I think the thing I object to most in the theme is the British VERBALISE, with the "S" spelling. Feels like cheating to have your final random "real" word be a spelling we don't use here. Also, plural CONCRETES? These "real" words aren't feeling so real to me half the time. But SCUBA TANK is a great discovery. You gotta "hop" to a completely different, second word to make it work, but it's my favorite of the bunch by far. I was more impressed by the overall quality of the grid, which is good, and especially by short answers that I actually liked, like O LINE (18A: Group of football blockers, in brief), BENTO (7D: Japanese meal in a box), and "OH, SNAP!" (though that clue felt very off to me—both inaccurate and not colloquial enough) (1D: "Did you just see that ?!").



I lived through the '90s and sure I remember some SKA-infused stuff but a "boomlet"?? (4D: Music boomlet of the mid-'90s). Do the Mighty Mighty Boss Tones and No Doubt constitute a "boomlet"? And is a MONOCLE an "accessory"? (27D: Accessory on a chain). I guess if it's pure affectation, then OK, but ... do some people really need it to see? Also, does anyone actually carry one at all, ever, anymore? Did they ever? The only MONOCLE-wearer that I have any familiarity with is Col. Mustard in the version of Clue that I played as a child (with the photos of the suspects), so I don't know. I just know that "accessory" never would've led me to MONOCLE if the crosses hadn't made it evident. Oh, crud, it looks like Col. Mustard was actually wearing glasses; its just that one gleamed more and so it looked like a MONOCLE (?). Bizarre. Anyway ...


DESI Arnaz was a man, not a "boy," when married to Lucille Ball, so boo (35D: Ball boy?). [Ugh, please don't tell me this refers to DESI Jr. because you and I both know it does not ... the clue wouldn't need the "?," for one...] Took me forever to get AHEM because that clue is awfully specific (53A: "Um, don't look now, but ..."), and AHEM can signify a jillion things. I forgot that NIOBE was boastful (54A: Boastful mother of Greek myth). I just remember the crying. Hers is yet another "Do not boast to the gods unless you want your ass handed to you" morality tale. See also Arachne, Capaneus, etc.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

129 comments:

jae 12:06 AM  

Just about right for a Thurs. I did not figure out what was going on until after I finished, which is fine. Clever, smooth and fun, liked it.

An interesting solving phenomena for me is being quite sure I don't know an answer (in this puzzle BENTO) and then having it float to the surface as I'm reading another clue.

Anonymous 12:07 AM  

Wrote Eno for ONO, and nearly went mad trying to find my mistake.

Anonymous 12:13 AM  

Lucy and Desi’s son was also named Desi - albeit Desi Jr. - so the “Ball boy” clue pretty well fits.

a.corn 12:14 AM  

Clever, fun...felt a little all over the place, especially NW, until I completed the grid and went oooooooh I see wtf is goin on here! Ugh, SKA- that was definitely a boomlet, remember Brian Setzer’s annoying reaurgence AND the poorly named cherry poppin daddies? Oh and let’s not forget Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Yes I know that’s more swing than ska, but those cheesy fools were all going for the same crap.

Sherman 12:15 AM  

According to another blog, DESI Arnaz, Jr. certainly was Ms. Ball's boy.

Mudcub 12:21 AM  

Is from Issy? What?

Unknown 12:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 12:35 AM  

I thought this was a terrific puzzle. And tough! I was HOPPING all over the grid, trying to get some solid footing. The cluing seemed to be warding me off at every promising crossing. Anyway, I backed into the reveal, and then, after a long staring contest with CONCRETES, finally understood. I needed the remaining ISLANDs to help me finish. I really enjoyed working it all out.

Missteps: Ludens cough drops, EVILdoer, and Met up before MATED, in addition to thinking that PASTIME has two Ss and INNATE has one N. And, me, too, for identifying NIOBE only with tears; it would have saved me some time if I'd taken a chance on her.

As a Wisconsinite in love with frozen custard, I was happy with CONCRETES (custard + mix-ins). As someone perennially not with it, I have no idea of OH SNAP usage.

@Mudcub - Issy is a city in France, so the clue is asking for the French word for "is" = EST.

TomAz 12:42 AM  

Yesterday I stated I thought Rex was too harsh. Today, I think he was too easy. My (own, personal) solving experience qualifies as: Not Fun.

I could pick nits all over the place, but I'll just stick to the theme. Random islands (unclued) in the middle of random words (also unclued). The only thing clued the word formed by taking some random number of beginning letters and appending some random number of ending letters.

So by the lower half of the puzzle I'd figured out the game. I look at 46A: "Poetry". ok, VERSE was what popped into my head. Now: what island (of all the islands in the world) do I stick somewhere (who knows exactly where) into VERSE to get the answer? It all depended on the crosses, of course, but a few of the downs (34D, 41D) were so vaguely clued I would look to the crosses to help with those... you get the picture. Yes it eventually got all got worked out but it felt to me like a chore and not fun or 'aha!' or enlightening or pleasantly surprising. (And on top of that, Rex's apt observation of the Brit spelling).

and then. "ISLAND HOPPING". Really? My mind goes to: Cuba to Crete is not a 'hop'. It's a *%^&ing haul. I mean, it's across an ocean and then most of the way across a sea. Bali to Timor, that I can see. But there is nothing resembling an "itinerary" here. It's just random islands.

I guess tonight I am more Rex than Rex is. Oh well.

Anonymous 1:12 AM  

Better clue for "Island Hopping" would have been the US strategy for beating Japan during WWII.
GWood

Stanley Hudson 1:25 AM  

@GWood, my thought as well. I kept looking for islands in the western Pacific. Only Timor fits geographically and I don’t believe it was a Pacific War battle site.

Greg Charles 1:44 AM  

OK, the Desi thing has been covered, but Col. Mustard is the only monocle wearer you can remember? What about Mr. Peanut?

chefwen 1:49 AM  

It took a long time for the “lightbulb moment”. Filled in SCUBATANK and CONCRETES with a lot of help from the downs. Saw Cuba And Crete (one of my favorite places) and did the famous AHA, got it. Kinda knew that BALI was going to fit in somewhere, but where? We had a BAL in 46A and 55A.

Finally finished and was SATED, but where is my REBUS?

Larry Gilstrap 2:23 AM  

I read Moby-Dick, so I'm rather nautical. The novel excludes CUBA and CRETE, I think. Yankee whalers first avoided Polynesia because they feared cannibalism, later, because they feared the temptation of the seductive culture. Read OOMO! It's a short book. CUBA and CRETE, not so much. One chapter includes a run to avoid pirates around TIMOR. Nantucket whalers shunned the Lee Shore for up to four years, never touching land.

Speaking of ISLANDS, I went to a luau and the girls wore grass skirts and the boys were grassHOPPers. I'm not even a dad.

Thank God! I went form PASSION to PASTIME and let out a sigh of relief. No, I'm not in denial. I'm not sure I've ever been passionate about anything. My mom never was.

Nice to see PIPPA, anytime. She showed up once in this little town as part of the Race Across America, bike shorts and all. Guys still talk about it.

Anybody have some No Doubt memories from the 90s? SKA enough, and boomlet enough for Thursday. And another thing! Doesn't TINA have a tilde? Discuss.

I actually laid eyes on DESI Arnaz near the Winner's Circle at Del Mar Racetrack in the early 70s. He was with a gorgeous redhead.

Ilsa (She Wolf) 2:23 AM  

Monocle?

COLONEL KLINK

Also: Pete Carroll

Loren Muse Smith 3:56 AM  

Neat concept. I totally agree with Rex – terrific play on the words ISLAND HOPPING.

@TomAz – I think the idea of ISLAND HOPPING wasn’t so much hopping from one entry to another but rather hopping over the island embedded to finish the word. I read and reread your post and am thinking you were just seeing the hop as going from themer to themer?

And yeah, SCUBA TANK is my favorite, too.

Rex – speaking of a “semi-odd coincidence,” last Thursday first thing I gave myself not one but two paper cuts on my lip, holding two sheets and then messing with my bangs. Later in the day I was in the library chatting with a 5th grader, and after a while, the librarian came over to introduce us. His name, I swear, was N. Cutlip. Same day. Now tell me that’s not just weird. To cut your lip in the morning and then meet someone whose name is Cutlip the same day.

@Carola – me, too, for “Ludens” first.

@Larry – liked your instinct to go with “passion” before PASTIME.

IN DENIAL. I guess we all have our in-denial things. Mine might be that it’s ok just to sleep three or four hours a night. My rule is that I have to stay in bed until after midnight, but if it’s even one minute past, it’s ok to go ahead and get up. And when I hear how important sleep is to so many things, I just shrug and ignore it. Watch that clock. Wait for the antique Seth Thomas to chime in my morning.

Mr. Eaton-Salners – enjoyed this idea!

Mr. Fitch 4:25 AM  

The concept was fun and yet weak. Fun, because for once in what seems like forever, I actually sussed out theme answers using using the theme revealer and the wordplay was enjoyable enough. Weak, because the full theme answers weren’t clued or otherwise used anywhere. They were like unused props in a play.

Conrad 4:51 AM  

Okay, I'm an idiot. Or maybe just unobservant and guilty of overthinking. I solved the themers from crosses only, pretending there were no clues, since the clues seemed irrelevant. After I grokked the theme I tried to retrofit it to the answers. Everything worked except I totally missed CUBA. I saw BATAN and had to come here to figure out why SCUK means "Smelled". Oy!

Mister Mooney 5:04 AM  

DESI can't mean Lucy's son, because her son was Little Ricky. No, daddy was her boy, and she made him jump when she called.

BarbieBarbie 5:42 AM  

@Mister, DESI was the son IRL.

Fun puzzle. Finally an Aha that occurred while I was still solving, independent of revealer-peeking, and helped with the solve but didn’t turn the themers into gimmes. Feels sooo satisfying when that happens. Thanks Alex. I don’t have to say More Please because we see AE-S frequently.

CONCRETES is my least-favorite, because the contained island name is pronounced the same as it is in the containing word, which feels a little bit off. Loved EVILTWIN and SOURNOTE. And enjoyed seeing PTFE spelled-out in the NYT crossword clue list!

Thanks @LMS, @Nancy, and other Blues who took the time yesterday to explain to me the benefits of Blue-hood, Leaning! Now, about this darn inertia.

Anonymous 5:46 AM  

ditto

Anonymous 5:51 AM  

French for is = est

Abby Friedman 6:23 AM  

I get that they were trying to be clever with 10D, but as a queer person I find the hinting around "inverted morality" to be incredibly insensitive.

Lewis 6:28 AM  

Three reactions to this fun and solid puzzle:
* Row two (HIT KOREA RIVAL) made me flinch.
* The clue for SATED ("Now full") brought out my inner pedant, which railed that the "Now" is unnecessary.
* Two entry pairs -- NAS crossing OPERAS, and ROARS next to PEEP -- made me marvel over the breadth of the human voice.

Passing Shot 6:57 AM  

I’m sure I’m missing something quite basic but can someone explain 9A? Got it from the downs but have no idea what either the clue or the answer means. Otherwise, quite liked the puzzle.

Anonypuss 7:16 AM  

@Abby Friedman, since when does "inverted morality" mean queer? As a straight person, I am flabbergasted that there's a connection between the two. And not just a connection - but apparently an "incredibly insensitive" connection.

Rex is usually sensitive to insensitivity. I thought he was hypersensitive, but Abby makes Rex seem oblivious.

Nice, challenging puzzle today, and yet I finished in less than my average time.

kitshef 7:27 AM  

Loved it. Theme was clever and well executed.

Never heard of TEC in my life … except that I have a nagging feeling I said the same thing last time it was in a puzzle.

TEL as a feature … yep, the Wyndham Harborside has a big sign, “Telephone in room”. It’s just above “We have color TV”.

Loved DESI and EDU clues. Hated OH SNAP and AHEM. IDA found different clues there.

Lost in space gray 7:30 AM  

Fine fine fine. I enjoyed it - except for 1D. The clue is wrong. I think. OH SNAP is a light-hearted way of saying, “Oh, you got me”. There’s an acknowledgement of an error, but it’s trivialized. When a Google page doesn’t open, they put up an error message that says, “Oh snap. Something didn’t work right.”

There might be more nuances to the phrase - the Urban Dictionary says Disney characters said it because they couldn’t say Oh shit. But - I’m pretty sure it DOESN’T mean, “Did you see that?”

Kodak Jenkins 7:33 AM  

There are loads of great nicknames for "private investigator" but TEC is not one of them. Is that word more common in the police force? I've never seen it anywhere but in desperate crossword fill.

Nice Thursday, challenging but not daunting. I liked the theme and the fact that I was actively trying to decipher it , was completely baffled and then got the big eureka moment.

Got super stymied by NODE/BERTOLT/ONO crossings and misremembering RICOLA as RICCLA

no like:
clue for EDU
TEC
clue for HIT

learned:
EST
NIOBE

Joe Welling 7:35 AM  

@Passing Shot: A TEC is a private investigator...at least in crosswordese.

Two Ponies 7:42 AM  

What a waste of a Thursday.

Boomlet? What sort of stupid made-up word is that?

Ricola had the most annoying ads but they must have been effective since I can recall them with no problem.

@ Abby 6:23, You might as well go back to bed, your day is complete. You found a reason to be offended where there was none.

I can't believe Rex didn't trash this mediocrity trying to pass itself off as a late week puzzle.

Hungry Mother 7:42 AM  

Enjoyed figuring out the theme, which ultimately helped. I’ll be in Bali in early February on a cruise from Singapore, so nice to see it in the grid as one of the islands.

dfan 7:42 AM  

Anonypuss: look up "sexual inversion". (I only know it from Proust.)

Chuck McLeester 7:43 AM  

Mr Peanut has a monocle

MexGirl 7:49 AM  

The Ñ in España has a tilde (that squiggly thing above the N?)

QuasiMojo 7:56 AM  

Rex, have you never read The New Yorker? Eustace Tilley uses a monocle as an accessory. I don't know how to load images here (and no @Nancy, I do not want a BLUE name because it would link to other stuff on my google page that I don't especially want to broadcast here.) And speaking of @Nancy, can you really say, as you did yesterday here, that you have "never heard the song" At Last? Where were you when Obama was dancing with Michelle at his inauguration ball? Or the media blitz that accompanied it? Reading The New Yorker, perhaps? :)

Tec is one of those slang words that seems to only appear in the NYT crossword or in "neo-noir" novels that try desperately to be "noirish." It may have been common in the heyday of Black Mask and other pulp detective magazines.

As for MENSA, I went to one of their websites recently and was "shocked, shocked" to find that they had misspelled and misused the word "premiere" to mean "premier." I know, @LMS, it's not important. Kind of like that "principle/principal" thing.

I see Rex's point about VERBALISE but the clue is about VERSE, so whether it should be an S or a Z is not really germane. The answer is VERSE hopping over BALI. The English spelling is irrelevant.

And what about this puzzle? I loved it. Few sournotes. Not a sad lot among them. Plus I had no idea canoeing was an olympic sport. Never heard of PIPPA Middleton, but the clue made me smile when I thought of THOMAS H. Middleton who did the acrostics so well many a moon ago. (Forgive me, but now they seem overly timely and trendy and badly chopped up with too many ... in the final quotation.

crackblind 8:04 AM  

Really got delayed in the NW because I got OPUSES for 3 Down from the U cross in SCUBATANK. 1, 12, & 19 Across still made words that kinda fit (Oro is Spanish for gold, Hip made no sense for the clue though I thought I was missing something, Nose would work as a "flowchart" by a stretch if the clue had a ?). Lost a good bit of time figuring out that's why I wasn't getting the happy done notice in the app.

Lewis 8:11 AM  

Mini-theme: KOREA, PIPPA, MENSA, RICOLA, IOTA, TINA, IDA.

gruffed 8:11 AM  

Speaking of monocles, let's not forget The Penguin, Karl Marx, Sir Patrick Moore.

ghthree 8:12 AM  

TEC = deTECtive or Private Investigator (P.I.)
To me, MONOCLE as an affectation means Eustace Tilly of the New Yorker.
Never saw a picture of Colonel Mustard.
I'm more used to AW SNAP. An error message when a web page won't load.
Had SOHO before NOHO. After figuring out the theme (from CUBA and BALI),
BALTIMORE fell quickly, and re-visiting 24 Across, corrected SOHO to NOHO.
So the theme was actually useful in solving, not a post-solve AHA!
I always thought of the four rows with starred clues as independent
examples of island-hopping. Never expected a grand tour of all four.

Harryp 8:21 AM  

Played easy for some reason, about a third less than average time. Didn't get the solve till finished. Liked the clue for Scripts.

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

One properly says OH SNAP only when a vicious Yo Mama (or similar personal insult) joke has landed . Any other usage as an abomination perpetrated when Chipper & Ashley started using the phrase. Or the NYTimes.

TomAz 8:39 AM  

@LMS: yes ok I get that. I think it's the word "itinerary" in the revealer clue that just makes the whole thing feel wrong to me.

Who can say why a puzzle thing can annoy one reasonable solver and be totally cool to another? Chocolate and vanilla, I suppose. Not a "right" and a "wrong".



relicofthe60s 8:56 AM  

Lord Peter Wmsey is another famous monocle wearer. Nice puzzle, but played like a themeless. Needed Rex to explain the theme to me.

Bob Mills 9:24 AM  

Rex, you're way off base with your criticism of "Ball Boy?" Desi Arnaz, Jr. was born to Lucille Ball, so he was a Ball boy. In fact, his birth was merged into the script of "I Love Lucy." The question mark doesn't refer to his age, but to the misdirection aspect of the clue. Without the question mark the solver would be looking for a synonym to a ball boy at a baseball or tennis stadium.

I didn't like "Oh, Snap" as an answer. Who would say that? Otherwise, a clever puzzle and fun to solve.

Peamut 9:26 AM  

Me too!!

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

PI =Private Investigator; Tec = deTECtive

kfja 9:50 AM  

LOL!

GILL I. 9:52 AM  

I wasn't as enamored of the puzzle as some of you were. ISLAND HOPPING went in before I figured out the theme. Light bulb moment at SCUBA TANK. Oh, I see. Islands! In the West Indies? Somewhere close to where a yachter might hop around. Jamaica or maybe Haiti but what can AES do with Puerto Rico? That, I'm' afraid, was my train of thought. So...@TomAz, I was with you...especially when I got to CRETE. Whoa - you'd need the QEII for this kind of voyage. Perhaps over thinking, but it soured my enjoyment.
What I did enjoy was some of the cluing. I liked Ballboy? I also liked MONOCLE as an answer. It's really a fashion statement and evidently it's making a comeback. I'll always think of the penguin in Bat Man. Have you ever tried to wear one? How do you keep that thing from slipping off. I suppose if you have one droopy eye, it will keep it from shutting. I also liked seeing ROARS sitting on top of PEEP.
Filled in all of my Islands which was easy enough but just not satisfying for me.
Top 2% group MENSA? If you happen to be a member and you go around crowing about it, I can guarantee I will most likely find you a total bore. The test is easy!

oldbizmark 9:52 AM  

second time this week i have solved a puzzle (and quickly) without having any idea what the "theme" was all about. got island hopping out of the gate and sped through this one. fine solving experience just wish the revealer was more revealing. i kept trying to hop over the black squares to make sense of this thing.

Anoa Bob 10:00 AM  

Liked SAD LOT, SOUR NOTE & IN DENIAL. Kinda themishy.

Played football in H.S and have watched a shit load---uh, make that a SNAP load---of games over the years, and have never encountered O LINE.

That O would have been better served in front of BENTO because that's what it's called in Japan, OBENTO.

In the style of @Lewis: ORE, OHSNAP, OLINE, ORS, ONO, OED, OTIS & OPERAS.

I have an EVIL TWIN, Anoa Blob. He's done a lot of ISLAND HOPPING, hoping to hook up with some BABES and get MATED and SATED. And he could give a SNAP less about being PC.

Me, I'm just hoping they put SUAVE PHD in my obit.

Kurt Weill 10:03 AM  

Good to see the shout out to Brecht. Without Brecht there would be no Sondheim as we know it. Surprised Rex didn't link a Threepenny song. So here's one.

abalani500 10:04 AM  

TomAz, my sentiments exactly. This felt more like a slog than a PASTIME

paperandink 10:06 AM  

i was looking at batan as the island and cldn't get smelled ending in uk..totally dnk oh snap...and still dnk oh snap... once printed out definition for f--k from the oed and posted it on our trading floor to give the boyz some breadth in their choice of exclamation.. haha

pabloinnh 10:12 AM  

Pretty sure Nick Danger, aka "Regnad Kcin", was a tec. Possible a peeper.

mathgent 10:13 AM  

I liked it a lot. Lotsa sparkle, satisfying theme.

Enjoyed remembering all the characters who wore monocles mentioned here. There used to be a giant Mr. Peanut on top of their factory here in San Francisco. I seem to remember that The Count wore one when I would watch Sesame Street with my kids.

Whenever I've heard "Oh, snap!" I've taken it to be a polite way of saying "Oh, shit!" So the clue seems off.

Z 10:17 AM  

Three out of four ain’t bad, but using a POC to make CONCRETES work is inelegant at best. Not going with Z in VERBALISE also got the side eye from me, but I assumed it was just my own foible.

@Lewis - I think “Now” is in the clue to signal past tense more clearly, emphasis.

@Passing Shot - It’s been answered elsewhere, but just in case you are searching for your nom de blog to find the answer (you see, smartphone solvers, other platforms do not have in-line replies so your answers to questions often look like non sequitars and aren’t easy to find which is why politeness requires using the “@BlogName” convention when replying”) “España” has a TILDE over the N, that little squiggly line that indicates it should be pronounced like an “ny” and not just an “n.” So a TILDE is part of España. You will never see this cluing trick for a circumflex.

I can think of a way to make 1D work, “OH SNAP. Did you see that.” But that’s quite a stretch for a guy who can’t touch his toes.

Are we just going to talk about SKA? How about a musical interlude? PIPPA she ain’t.

@Abby Friedman - Hand up for you losing me, too. I guess it’s a good thing that the notion of sexual preference being a “moral” issue is disappearing. I see your point now, but I didn’t detect a whiff of a hint while solving.

IN DENIAL is too au courant. There’s the resignation statement of Michigan State’s President and the interview of the Board President both indicating to me that they are in the deepest depths of DENIAL. As a former school administrator I get the difficulty of handling these kinds of accusations. But someone either forgot or never learned that their first responsibility is to protect the students.
And then, of course, there’s white evangelicals, who think it’s okay to give a “mulligan.” If I believed in eternal damnation in the fires of hell I wouldn’t be risking my soul for a serial adulterer and unrepentant liar. But hey, that’s just me. You do you.

Nancy 10:24 AM  

The revealer seemed quite well-protected today, surrounded by a Superbowl-level O-LINE. Oh, please let me get the revealer, oh please, so I can figure out what the bleep is going on in this perplexing puzzle, I thought to myself. Because I needed the theme to solve today. Desperately. And that for me is the best kind of theme. Other than the godawful OH SNAP, which I've never heard said even once, but which appears in puzzles clued as just about anything and everything, I thought the fill was pretty good. But what really stands out are the theme answers -- baffling when you don't know what's happening, but completely fair once you do. I "suffered" a little too much to say I loved this, but I really liked it a lot. Congrats to all who found this Easy or even Medium; I found it Hard.

Malsdemare 10:35 AM  

Well, I had to do some research on cough drops, had PIPPi instead of PIPPA, mainly because I wanted Timidest for 45D— yeah, I know, but I was thinking maybe this was a rebus puzzle. And I wanted the poetry island to be BeLIze, which really made a mess of things in the SW. But the theme, once I caught it, helped me with SCUBATANK, even though I initially put in arUBATANK and then scratched my head trying to figure out how that had anything to do with smelling.

Puzzle was entertaining, which was nice as I'm in Wisconsin dogsitting my daughter's elderly pooch as he recovers from surgery to remove a herniated disk. He can't be allowed to stand on his own because if he falls — and he's pretty wobbly — he could break his neck. So I'm confined to about 200 square feet of space; I could use more puzzles. Tuesday I binged on Sue Grafton books and yesterday it was genealogy research. Today? Probably more genie.

Did anyone see the news about the accident on I74 that resulted in tons of money littering the interstate? That was about 8 miles from my house and instead of helpfully joining the cleanup, I'm in WI. Of course. Sigh!

Malsdemare 10:37 AM  

@Carola. I am three blocks away from Michael's frozen custard. And confined to one room. Arggh!

chefbea 10:45 AM  

Too tough for me ...again. Didn't get it at all. But tonight we are go into to a restaurant here in Wilmington with some other people. It is called...Bento Box!!!!! Knew that one.

the redanman 10:49 AM  

Nice puzzle and trick but the clue-ing was not up to the task in spots

DJG 10:52 AM  

Mighty Mighty Bosstones
The Specials
Reel Big Fish
Rancid
No Doubt (ska-ish)

Seems boomlet-y enough...

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

ONO was my first entry in the puzzle. Bought John and Yoko album “Sometime in New York City” in 1972. Funny the things you remember.

Nancy 10:57 AM  

I had no problem with TEC. It seems if you watch any 1940s noir movie, the detectives are always referring to themselves with cutesy, but tough-sounding abbreviated descriptors: TEC; P.I.; gumshoe; shamus; dick. It's always been one of the things I like least about 40s noir. (Although when Bogie said it, I could almost overlook it. Because he's Bogie [sigh].) Still, a question: Hands up, ladies, for those of you who, like me, prefer him in "Sabrina".

Answer to Quasi (7:56) -- There are four possibilities:
1) I didn't see them dance or I watched a different dance, not that dance.
2) I watched that dance but didn't hear/notice the song -- probably because I didn't already know it.
3) I did hear/notice the song, but didn't know it by name.
4) I did hear/notice the song and knew it by name, but have long since forgotten it.

Roo Monster 10:59 AM  

Hey All !
OH SNAP! This puz made the ole brain work for the theme. Had an inkling that CONCRETES was correct, but said how does that work for They're not pros? Had the lightbulb moment at BALTIMORE. Words HOPPING ISLANDs. I see. KNOT?

When did PAStTIME lose its second T? I ROARS about that. Wanted potatoes for UFO but wouldn't fit. :-) Also wanted conservative for INDENIAL clue. Seems a more accurate answer. :-)

TEFLON SUAVE SADLOT RIVAL AVOID MATED SATED WINO. AHEM. OH SNAP!

ONO NOHO
RooMonster
DarrinV

jberg 11:01 AM  

Is my face red. I had U NK when I read the clue for 16A, so naturally put in StU----NK, and looked for a 4-letter island. Eventually, the crosses gave me BATA. Scratching my head, I went on to finish the puzzle, then resorted to Google Maps, and discovered the isle of BATA in the middle of the Trent River in Ontario, just north of the eponymous lake. Only, what was a ScUBATANK? Had I known of the cough drops, I might have gone on puzzling -- but instead I searched for RItOLA, got RICOLA, and just couldn't figure out how that would work -- all the result of an incredible blind spot created by my first wrong guess.

It also took me forever go realize that the blockers would be on the O LINE, rather than the D LINE, but I did manae to sort that out.


OK, I'm going off to sulk.

Old cis-gendered White Guy 11:07 AM  

I've lived for 75 years not knowing that "inverted sexuality" and simply "inverts" has a long and disgraceful past referring to homosexuals as being depraved individuals out to destroy the moral fabric of society.

I want to join on and all for lambasting @Abby for ruining my blissful ignorance.

Calman Snoffelevich 11:16 AM  

Can someone explain why PARD makes sense as the answer to the clue "Dusty trail figure"?

johnny stocker 11:23 AM  

Of course it refers to Desi Jr. His birth was a BIG deal at the time (he was on the cover of the first TV Guide, in fact)

My much bigger objection was with the preposterous BERTOLT (wtf?)/ONO crossing.

mac 11:25 AM  

Nice puzzle, I enjoyed the solve.

Certainly has a British vibe, not just with verbalise, but William, Pippa, TS Eliot and OED. Is Alex from England?

old timer 11:30 AM  

Interesting. The New York NOHO is based on Soho, for South of Houston (pronounced "Howston". I assume NOHO is across Houston from Soho. Not a place I hang out in, but I know the term. The L.A. NOHO is quite different: Short for North Hollywood, out there in the Valley. If it ought to exist at all, it ought to be pronounced "No ha".

I liked the puzzle, and thought something was going on when I noticed CUBA in the middle of STANK. But I remained confused by BALTIMORE -- just did not see there were BALEs in that hayloft with TIMOR hiding in the middle.

VERBALISE was just wrong, I think. At least the clew needed some reference to England.

jb129 11:31 AM  

When I see this constructor, I immediately am blocked... even if I can do it, I usually have to cheat (never would've gotten Evil Twin). My problem, I guess, not hers.

Ball Ball was cute (not to beat it to death) - Desi Arnaz Jr was her boy.

Joseph Michael 11:37 AM  

This puzzle was quite a feat given that each themer had to contain the name of an island, a second word that matched the clue, and a third word that included the other two all at the same time. On top of that, the grid had some great fill, such as EVIL TWIN, OH SNAP, SOUR NOTE, and IN DENIAL. Bravo. Another Alex Eaton-Sainers gem.

My first MONOCLE association was Mr. Peanut (hey, @mathgent). He always wore it when he sang "At Last."

Laurence Katz 11:39 AM  

Curious if anyone can cite the usage of "tec" in a book or movie. I've read many, many detective novels from all eras and seen many old detective flicks, but can't remember ever encountering "tec" outside of xword puzzles.

Masked and Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Kinda neat that Mr. E-S was able to uncover these primo themers. Fairly well-known islands inside of (sometimes slightly desperately-)known words/phrases. Cool.

Spotted that there was a reveal, and wheresoeverafter concentrated all initial efforts in the equatorial 33-A belt. The {Ball boy} and the {Playwright Brecht} and the long corner stacks ate up valuable nanaosecs, while I was usin that strategy.

Wide open grid, filled nicely. Bravo. Best desperate corner: NE. (OLINE. TEC. CONCRETES. har)

staff weeject pick-m&e-up: PHD. Short-but-sweet clue and central grid position of honor.

Coulda almost been a theme contender, in France:
TSELIOT*. Theme-related clue: {Tar gur??}. A bit of a reach? … thought so.

Hey, thanx for a solid theme-week-zone close-out, Mr. Eaton-Salners.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


serious biter:
**gruntz**

* ILES inside TOT = {Rug rat}, all backwards-like.

John Hoffman 11:41 AM  

Yes I’m in the top 2%. I’m a stable genius!

Masked and Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Kinda neat that Mr. E-S was able to uncover these primo themers. Fairly well-known islands inside of (sometimes slightly desperately-)known words/phrases. Cool.

Spotted that there was a reveal, and wheresoeverafter concentrated all initial efforts in the equatorial 33-A belt. The {Ball boy} and the {Playwright Brecht} and the long corner stacks ate up valuable nanaosecs, while I was usin that strategy.

Wide open grid, filled nicely. Bravo. Best desperate corner: NE. (OLINE. TEC. CONCRETES. har)

staff weeject pick-m&e-up: PHD. Short-but-sweet clue and central grid position of honor.

Coulda almost been a theme contender, in France:
TSELIOT*. Theme-related clue: {Tar gur??}. A bit of a reach? … thought so.

Hey, thanx for a solid theme-week-zone close-out, Mr. Eaton-Salners.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


* ILES inside of TOT = {Rug rat}, all sorta backwards-like.

Gareth Bain 11:59 AM  

Sublime (6x platinum album by band Sublime), 311, Rancid, Reel Big Fish... Seems pretty much at least a boomlet.

Masked and Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Another French themer: [aarrrghh … what are these crosswords doin to m&e!?!!]

{* ___ chic} = TRELLISES.

M&Also


extreme biter:
**gruntz**

Lost in Space Gray 12:06 PM  

Reminded me of when I lived in Uganda for five years and went rafting several times on the big river that flowes across the country. Terrifying and thrilling. The joke that more than one rafter thought up was about a fictitious rafting guide, a former alcoholic, who got fired because he was always IN DENIAL.

That’s the only place I’ve ever gone rafting but people who have been around say it is sensational: great rapids, warm water, beautiful scenery and birds and the odd hippo.

Ol' Deaf Joe 12:33 PM  

I LIKE THIS PUZZLE THESE ARE MY FAVORITE WORDS

puzzlehoarder 12:37 PM  

This was a fun little solve. I got the theme as soon as BERTOLT gave me SCUBA. The island of CUBA popped out immediately and I then knew why 24A was CONCRETES. Knowing the theme made it easy to spot the lower two islands.

My only real difficulty came from my own mistake. I had the ISLA of the reveal and I went to write in the ND to complete ISLAND but somehow only wrote in the D. Now HOPPING came up short and of course I couldn't come up with anything on a chain that started with MOD. I fixed all this after completing the lower half of the puzzle. Inspite of having no idea what "Issy" was that lower half had little resistance.

Dennis Doubleday 12:37 PM  

Yeah, that's not what "Oh, Snap!" means. More like "You just got owned!" or inulsted.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Your absolutely right, awhile ago I was reading a book published by MENSA and their were quite a few misspelled words in it. I misspelled a couple just to get your goat, as it gets mine... Loved the puzzle, though.

Joe Bleaux 12:50 PM  

Zackly! My daughter entered her teens in the '00s, and until 2010 or '11, I was fluent, or at least conversational, in cool. Now I have to rely on crossword blog commenters to school me.

puzzlehoarder 12:57 PM  

This was a fun little solve. I got the theme when BERTOLT gave me SCUBA. This also explained CONCRETES and made the reveal and the lower two themers easy.

semioticus (shelbyl) 1:14 PM  

Even after I figured out island names were hidden in the theme answers, I wasn't sure how this one worked. I really thought "Not pros = Concretes, hmm, I guess it is a construction thing" or "Huh, maybe Baltimore has a lot of hay whatever." SCUBATANK really bothered me, and because I wasn't sure about that (again, I was thinking "you inhale from a tank but how does that mean smelled? That's a bad clue.") I couldn't solve the SITBY-KOREA section. And then it hit me. And boy, was I relieved. My opinion on this puzzle flopped immediately.

This is a nice puzzle. A potentially stale theme executed in an innovative way (at least to my knowledge), with some really good answers elsewhere. EVILTWIN, INDENIAL... Also, RICOLA and OLINE making their debuts! Wow, I would have thought someone out them in at some point but no, apparently. Good.

My one problem with the puzzle was that some clues were trying too hard to be witty. I had never heard of "gurney" before so that took me a while, although that's on me. But clues for AHEM, EST and DESI were unnecessary imho.

But yeah, this one gives the solver some nice moments, and it is as smooth as it can be. I'm totally blaming myself for not figuring out the theme even with the quite clear revealer.

GRADE: B+, 3.65 stars.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

I had many of the same issues with this puzzle. The "ise" spelling is definitely British, this is not the "Times of London" crossword. The theme was too clever by half for me and "ska" did enjoy a "boomlet in the mid-90s in this country, please see the following from Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge):
"Ska (/skɑː/; Jamaican: [skjæ]) is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae."
Not a bad Thursday effort, but man, the constructors are really stretching things this week.

Joe Bleaux 1:17 PM  

Out on the dusty trail, all them cowpokes called each other "Partner," which became "Pardner," which got shortened to "Pard" -- but only in crossword puzzles in the weekly Old West Thunderstorm & High Plains Defender newspaper.

sanfranman59 1:17 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:14 4:08 1.02 60.7% Medium-Challenging
Tue 6:00 5:33 1.08 65.7% Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:34 5:54 1.11 70.0% Medium-Challenging
Thu 24:27 10:16 2.38 100.0% Very Challenging

I've tracked over 8 years of NYT puzzles in my spreadsheet and this is the 2nd highest relative difficulty ratio of about 400 puzzles. I'm writing some of it off to this virus that's got me dragging this week, but yeah, this was a real slog for me. I just couldn't get into a groove and didn't get the theme until after I was finished. A few answers that were out of my strike zone: BENTO, the British spelling of VERBALISE, NIOBE (from that clue, that is), NAS (I have a large hole in my musical knowledge where rap should be), there's a NOHO and an OTIS College of Art & Design in LA?, there was a SKA "boomlet" in the 90s?

QuasiMojo 1:20 PM  

@Nancy, great reply. You would have made a good lawyer!

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

I found this puzzle out and out challenging today. By the time I had decided a "sellout" wasn't a raT (12A) and got SCUBA TANK but tried to put the C in at the beginning of 16A giving me OH crAP at 1D for a couple of flicks (hi r.alph), just one of many other missteps, I had a lot of extra black on my grid.

I had a brief DNF panic at 46A. When I went back over the puzzle to inspect the themers, I saw VERBALI, oh my gosh, that should be a Z...oh but zUAVE wouldn't be right, whew. I then Googled VERBALISE and yes, it showed up in the VERBALIzE definition. That's the one PEEP I have about this puzzle.

WI____at 32D led me to WIndsor - only TSELIOT being non-negotiable enabled me to replace it with WILLIAM.

@Carola, I did the PASsTIME thinking also. MENSA candidate here? Nope, nor a PHD! I couldn't see MONOCLE for a while because my brain had appended the word "key" into the clue for 27A. When I finally settled on MONOCLE being correct, I tried to picture someone with one hanging off their keychain before I reread the clue and said, "OH SNAP".

Was Hamilton just Burr's RIVAL or his EVIL TWIN?

Nice job, AE-S, thanks.

QuasiMojo 1:24 PM  

Oh, and @anonymous 12:47 -- Touché!

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

@Nancy, not sure what you mean about preferring the Sabrina Bogart. I am 63 year old woman and while I think Humphrey Bogart was a great actor In all his roles but never in my life thought of him as a "sex symbol" for his time and didn't think his performance in Sabrina stood out. Do you mean you like him more in a role where he was more polished looking/nice guy?

Aketi 1:29 PM  

@m&a, Haha, at least I didn’t have to reverse the letters to read your second French clue. I already tied myself up in a KNOT this morning with left right choices in BJJ. So my brain rejected puzzling out your first offering and immediately went straight to the asterisk cheat section.

semioticus (shelbyl) 1:29 PM  

I hope you get better soon, @sanfranman59. You don't wanna taint your data! :P

Weirdly though, some of my fastest solves happened while I was sick. I guess cold medicine helps me think outside the box sometimes.

phil phil 1:30 PM  

@LMS re cutlip
Who can say the gods have no sense of humor

Fey Fop 1:31 PM  

I'm prancing as I revel in my inverted morality!!

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

No, you need treatment!

Aketi 1:43 PM  

@Nancy, you should be happy to know that OH SNAP disappeared from my son’s vocabulary a few years ago. So eventually it will fade from use in Xword puzzles as well.

Carola 1:45 PM  

@Malsdemare - So near and yet so far! Normally, I'm very near, but I'm in Los Angeles at the moment or I'd do a Michael's run for you. Sounds like you could use a treat - and deserve one! I hope the convalescent is doing well.

Kimberly 1:56 PM  

I 100% went straight to Desi jr in my mind for Ball boy. She had two children. A girl and a boy. The boy was named Desi. My husband is a junior, we don’t call him “Bob* Jr.” Just Bob. Don’t tell me not to tell you that the clue meant her son. It did. It’s almost intuitively obvious. Just because your mind didn’t go there doesn’t mean perfectly sane people didn’t get it. Also, don’t get so panty-twisted over a man being called a boy (even if that WAS what the clue meant, which it wasn’t). Women have been called “girls” forever. Your privilege is showing.

Stepping aside from smacking Rex, I found this puzzle really, really hard, particularly the upper half. Could be the fact that I’m coming down with a cold. Even after I got the theme (got BALTIMORE first and stared at it forever, then shrugged, then saw BALE, and sighed rather than grinning) I still struggled with huge sections of the whole thing.

*not his actual name.

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

Do you know if their is a digital album of the Lincoln center production?

Cheerio 2:29 PM  

Hands up for Batan Island. That's how I figured out the theme.

David Balaban 2:58 PM  

pi stands for private investigator, which usually means detective, shortened to tec.

Chris Ott 3:43 PM  

Colonel Klink!

Whatsername 4:08 PM  

It wasn't awful but I didn't love it. Like yesterday's, it sort of made me squinty and cross, even after I figured out the theme. Cute idea but just didn't really click for me. And "did you see that" doesn't equal "oh snap," even in puzzle speak. For my money, "I can't believe I did that" would be more apropos.

OBD 4:11 PM  

Oh snap. Someone else watched Hogan's Heroes. Thanks Chris. I was beginning to wonder.

Joe Dipinto 5:48 PM  

I thought the concept for this puzzle was terrific. Yeah, VERBALISE with the S looks a bit askew, but really, everything else worked so well I really can't fault it. Plus, I'm a sucker for musical entries: Schumann's Etudes (probably not as well-known as Chopin's), the Ring cycle, Yoko Ono, Nas, Tina Turner, Bertolt Brecht -- and, even Ball Boy was a member of the short-lived 1960's group Dino, Desi and Billy. Not a SOUR NOTE anywhere.

George 5:49 PM  

As a yacht (ok, sailboat) owner who goes ISLANDHOPPING, I kinda liked this one.

Joy2u 7:05 PM  

QuasiMojo 1:20 PM "@Nancy, great reply. You would have made a good lawyer!"

Isn't that a contradiction in terms?

the redanman 7:40 PM  

TEC must be pure crosswordese, no?

GILL I. 8:54 PM  

@George - Curious. Would you sail from CUBA to CRETE? Be sure and stock up and black beans if you do...:-)

Anonymous 9:22 PM  

@Mac: TS Eliot is considered an American poet (he was born in Missouri and did not emigrate until his mid twenties).

Joe Welling 9:27 PM  

Someone asked for an example of TEC. Here's an excerpt from a short story called Self Help by W.W. Jacobs (in a collection called Sailor's Knots, 1900, available on Project Gutenberg).

“Nobody ever ‘as yet,” ses Sam, smiling at ‘im.

“And nobody ever will,” ses the dark man, shaking his ‘cad; “if they was all as fly as you, I might as well put the shutters up. How did you twig I was a detective officer, cap’n?”

Sam, wot was taking a drink, got some beer up ‘is nose with surprise.

“That’s my secret,” he ses, arter the tec ‘ad patted ‘im on the back and brought ‘im round.

“You’re a marvel, that’s wot you are,” ses the tec, shaking his ‘ead. “Have one with me.”

Sam said he didn’t mind if ‘e did, and arter drinking each other’s healths very perlite ‘e ordered a couple o’ twopenny smokes, and by way of showing off paid for ‘em with ‘arf a quid.

“That’s right, ain’t it?” ses the barmaid, as he stood staring very ‘ard at the change. “I ain’t sure about that ‘arf-crown, now I come to look at it; but it’s the one you gave me.”

Pore Sam, with a tec standing alongside of ‘im, said it was quite right, and put it into ‘is pocket in a hurry and began to talk to the tec as fast as he could about a murder he ‘ad been reading about in the paper that morning. They went and sat down by a comfortable little fire that was burning in the bar, and the tec told ‘im about a lot o’ murder cases he ‘ad been on himself.

Fountains of Golden Fluids 11:26 PM  

Does anyone remember prancing?

Hartley70 1:31 AM  

Great theme and execution of it. I thoroughly enjoyed the solve and found it medium challenging. I followed a clock face around and got stuck in the NW corner. I had RICOLA easily but couldn't see SCUB for the life of me..

Anonymous 5:40 AM  

Or how about another Col.? Klink of Hogan's Heroes?

Tom Beckett 7:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Beckett 7:44 AM  

I never understood the theme, didn’t finish the puzzle. Yup, loser. But after reading Rex’s write up, which I liked, and which let me grok what was going on, I thought it was a super clever puzzle.

Burma Shave 10:09 AM  

AVOID YAK YAK YAK

Just SITBY and VERBALISE
and INDENIAL you’ll be SATED,
ORE be SUAVE in your BABE’S eyes,
unlike your RIVAL, you’ll be MATED.

--- BERTOLT “BAM BAM” BALTIMORE

rondo 11:40 AM  

Kinda funny how I needed BERTOLT to confirm ONO; that’s what 35+ years as a public radio member will get you. I think OFL had the HOPPING backward; seems to me the ISLANDs are HOPPING into the clued words. Whatevs. One w/o with WIndsor before WILLIAM; funny how he crosses his sister-in-law PIPPA, and funnier nobody mentioned that, what, no MENSAns? Or do MENSAns not stoop to things in real life?

Only place I’ve ever seen TEC is xwords, still don’t consider it legit. BENTO’s a new one on me. Out of PEPSI? Time to RICOLA.

MONOCLE. Col. Klink. End of story.

Looks like a couple of yeah BABES in TINA and the aforementioned PIPPA. As Bob Seger might say, “They do respect her, buuuut . . .”

If IDA had to VERBALISE it, IDA called this theme a bit lame, but anything to AVOID a rebus is OK.

Diana, LIW 12:28 PM  

This puzzle had just about everything that I like:

1 - I finished it
2 - I didn't "get" the theme - stared for a while
3 - I had to come here to find out the theme
4 - Head slap - Crete was SO OBVIOUS
5 - Duh (repeat of 4)
6 - Discovered my errors, to wit, sOHO and Benita
7 - hey - I don't know my boxed meals, esp. Japanese ones, very well
8 - do you?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords
thoroughly enjoying today's dnf

spacecraft 12:34 PM  

Medium? For a Saturday, maybe. This thing was hard work from stem to stern of that yacht. I was about 7/8 done till I finally figured out what was going on. And so many WOEs! BENTO? Really? I heard of Obento; didn't realize (-se?) that there was an O-less variant. Once again, constructors: LETS at least approach fairness and indicate variants!

OHSNAP is not in my language, never was, and is very unlikely ever to be. Of all the stupid-sounding expressions...well, enough. The cluing was definitely Saturday-level: "Is from Issy?"??? I mean come on, LETSGO! What does that even mean? Theme is good; execution fine except for the Brit-spell mentioned above. DOD TINA's hit "What's Love Got to Do With it?" is sorta my theme for the day. I got it, but it does NOT belong in a Thursday slot. Par.

rainforest 2:41 PM  

Very nice puzzle with a theme format much superior to a rebus. When I got SCUBATANK (thanks, crosses) I saw CUBA in there but didn't twig to what was going on. Same with CONCRETES. By the way, there are several types of CONCRETE, so the plural is OK.

Jumping, er, HOPPING to the South, I got BALTIMORE, again from the crosses, and saw TIMOR in there. I was on to something, so I went to the grid spanner and just plopped in ISLAND HOPPING, and *that* helped with VERBALISE, since VER----SE had to be right there, and thus: BALI. Love British spelling, as you might guess.

Learned BENTO from a sweet young thing years ago. Visited ISSY, a suburb of Paris when I was in France in 2015.

Overall, a satisfying puzzle which was maybe medium-challenging for me.

leftcoastTAM 3:52 PM  

Theme clues and answers were at first just confusing until the revealer did its work, making some sense of it all.

Aside from the four ISLANDs, the longer entries containing them were random distractions.

BENTO and RICOLA were unknowns and had forgotten NOHO, but fortunately the crossing themers required them.

Enjoyed this clever work by AES.

Anonymous 8:51 PM  

I LOVED this puzzle because................ I finished it.

wcutler 12:13 AM  

@semioticus (shelbyl) 1:29 PM "... some of my fastest solves happened while I was sick. I guess cold medicine helps me think outside the box sometimes." I do my best solves way after my bedtime, when I'm so tired I think I can't think straight. I save the weekend puzzle for after I'm in bed, hoping it will put me to sleep. My goal is to get it done by the end of the week. Impossible puzzles just seem to finish solving themselves on a really late night.

I liked this puzzle a lot, got hung up for a while trying to convince myself that CONcaicoS was just some word I didn't know, ignoring the fact that the S couldn't belong to the island. I enjoyed using the gimmick to solve the theme words. I thought it was hard, took me three sessions to complete it, but I finished it correctly, so I felt very clever.

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