1958 Physics co-Nobelist Frank / THU 5-17-18 / Jagged mountain range / Friend of Sheldon on Big Bang Theory / Soft drink whose logo features red circle / Hester Prynne's mark / TV personality in bow tie

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Medium (6:47—on the high side for me, but I solved this around 12:30am after napping for the better part of four hours (!), so the slowness-upon-waking adjustment applies)

THEME: MAY 1718 (37A: See 18- and 60-Across) — apparently the cities of NEW ORLEANS and SAN ANTONIO were founded in that ... year .. three hundred years ago this ... month? OK.

Theme answers:
  • 11D: 60-Across site (ALAMO DOME)
  • 33D: 18-Across sights (JAZZ BANDS)
Word of the Day: ILYA Frank (16A: 1958 Physics co-Nobelist ___ Frank) —
Ilya Mikhailovich Frank (RussianИлья́ Миха́йлович Франк) (23 October 1908 – 22 June 1990) was a Soviet winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1958 jointly with Pavel Alekseyevich Cherenkov and Igor Y. Tamm, also of the Soviet Union. He received the award for his work in explaining the phenomenon of Cherenkov radiation. He received the Stalin prize in 1946 and 1953 and the USSR state prize in 1971. (wikipedia)
• • •

I don't get this at all. We celebrate city foundings? By month? Since when? And who cares? This puzzle exists because NEW ORLEANS and SAN ANTONIO have the same number of letters. That is the only reason this puzzle exists. Do you want to know how thin this theme is? I'll tell you. Please consult the long Downs. I mean ... it's like you knew, "man, this is not enough for a theme," and so you were like "let's put in a couple answers associated with the cities! Brilliant. OK, what's iconic?" And then your idea of iconic is ... [drumroll] ... the ALAMO! (nice) ... DOME! (.... what?). And then some JAZZ BANDS. Iconitude complete! The End! [kisses fingertips] [daps] [Tebows] [moonwalks out of room]
The numbers-in-the-grid thing is only irksome because today is May 17, 2018, so what the hell was the date gonna be? Even when I (finally) got that numbers were supposed to go in there, I didn't know if I was looking for a specific date (May 18 ... some year?) or what. Further, "7" and "8" are properly numerical, whereas "1" and "1" are stupidly numerical (i.e. no one writes them like that).  Further furrther, the fill is not good, and it's especially bad in the NE. I mean, ILYA / MYNA? Blargh.
[SAME! (10A)]
I kinda like the concept of a TATTOO RIOT and also the phrase, "DON'T ASK, DOORMAT." That's exactly what you'd say to a DOORMAT who got too nosy, and then the DOORMAT would of course reply, "sorry, sir / ma'am." Because that's what DOORMATs do. SEISM remains one of the ugliest words and SRTAS one of the absurdest abbrevs., while DAZS remains a sad name part. WE WON? No. IN A WORD, no.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. it's a *scarlet* A

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Harryp 3:15 AM  

I somehow managed to stumble through this in below average Thursday time. big bird before BILL NYE, don't ask me why. I have Haagen Dazs in my freezer now, but had no idea how to spell it, and used the crosses to get it. ILYA is another PPP that I didn't know. Last to go in was 1718 in complete reverse order! Tough, but fun. 24:56 v 30:43 avg. Slow Solver.

sanfranman59 3:22 AM  

I had a DNF because I chose to try numbers for the year and it wasn't accepted. Having to look at MAY OSOE in the middle of the puzzle is kinda ugly, but such is crossword life solving on a computer.

The themers all came very quickly except the year and, for that matter, so did the fill, for the most part.

-- deAl before CLAP (1A)
-- WE WiN before WE WON (15A)
-- Bob hopE off the B before BILL NYE (58A). My fellow Ohioan certainly wore many a bow tie.

Speed bumps
-- ILYA Frank (16A)
-- Took an embarrassingly long time coming up with AMES (17A)
-- Blanked on the meaning of dilettante (24A)
-- IONE ... no idea

Thumbs up from here.

Anonymous 3:24 AM  

Ditto on the Alamodome. I initially refused to put it down because it's such a stupid answer. It was only after trying to force something to do with the real Alamo itself which still would have been stupid. It's the Alamo. Full stop.

If there's a historic year Texans remember regarding the Alamo it's 1836 which is the year of the battle and the year the Republic of Texas was founded. When I was in school, we had two years of Texas History: one in elementary and then one in junior high. The year 1718 never came up.

This is easily the worst puzzle I've done in recent memory. Any joy it did have was zapped by generic sights associated with the two cities that really compromised the quality of the other fill.

da kine 3:46 AM  

I got 7-Up pretty easily, which gave away the trick of there being numbers in the grid, so it was easy. Also, it was a fun puzzle and a cute theme. A-. 5:55.

jae 4:01 AM  

Very easy for a Thurs. The numerals went in second to last when I went back and actually read the cross referenced clues (@sanfran - my iPad Standalone app took the numbers, no problem.) My last square @Rex was the Y in 16a/12d. Liked it, slightly more than @Rex did.

Daniel 4:54 AM  

Down in New Orleans the tricentennial is a pretty big deal. Lots of people rocking JAZZ HANDS this month.

Charles Flaster 5:01 AM  

Liked it much more than Rex although I agree with the medium rating.
Favorite clue was for VOODOO.
My two writeovers were theme related: NOT 1 BIT for NOThing and ALAMODOME for AstrODOME ( before the theme was sussed).
My eighth grade English teacher ( Mr. Smith ) would never accept RED A . Oh well.
Thanks DJK

Unknown 5:13 AM  

I think the year is a sort of play-on-numbers. Today is May 17, 2018, or 5/17/18, or May/17/18.

Thomaso808 5:22 AM  

Fun puzzle, because:
1) interesting new fact (the NOLA / SA thing);
2) pretty clean grid;
3) rebus!!!!;
4) ...all together now...different is good!

mathgent 5:43 AM  

Excellent puzzle! Rex is wearing his cranky pants.

It's not a rebus of course, but it has three semi-rebus squares. All but the 7 in 1718. Semi-rebus because the numerals represent sets of letters coming down but not going across. The first 1 represents "one" in NOTONEBIT. The second 1 represents "one" in ONELS. The 8 represents "eight" in EIGHTBALL. The 7 doesn't represent "seven" because the name of the soft drink is 7 Up. I'd like to see a bona fide rebus with a string of numerals.

I put eleven red plus signs in the margins, average for a Thursday. Among them, DONTASK, "Something to be stuck on," "Expert spelling," "One often saying 'hello,' maybe." That sufficient sparkle plus having to figure out that 37A represented a date with a string of numerals made it fun all the way through.

Thomaso808 5:53 AM  

@Nancy, I guess I missed all the fun yesterday talking about AUDRA, but to start it off you posted that link to “I Won’t Mind”, a very, very beautiful song that I would never have otherwise heard. Thank you!

BarbieBarbie 6:03 AM  

The number trick was obvious from 8BALL and the rest of that part went quickly. But I DNF’d the NE even though after cheating MYNA seems obvious. Maybe should have left it for morning. But then how could I have slept?

Lewis 6:33 AM  

Not only did I have to labor my brain to crack some vague cluing and names I didn't know -- and this is a good thing -- but I also had a satisfying aha at figuring out the number gimmick, and I learned about two tricentennial anniversaries. That's a lot of good bang for my stint with this offering and an energizing springboard to my day. Very grateful to the Kahn man for this one!

Anonymous 6:51 AM  

If you visit the Tricentennial website for New Orleans, you learn that it was established in the month of May 1718 - and you see a photo of a jazz band on the home page.

If you visit the Tricentennial website for San Antonio, you learn that it was established in May 1718 - and you see that this is also the 25th anniversary year for the Alamodome, where several events for the celebration are being held.

If you visit Rex Parker, you learn ... something about a complicated personality ...

three of clubs 6:55 AM  

Is a MELT really an alternative to a wrap? Also some of these names seemed a bit obscure. For example, I can barely remember Joachim Frank winning the Nobel last year, let alone ILYA.

kitshef 7:18 AM  

DNF with NOT a BIT, which seemed fine, and MAYA 718, which seemed ... not so fine. Otherwise, very easy.

I once dressed for Hallowe’en as the 7-UP spot.

In addition to his work popularizing science, BILL NYE has a patent for a shoe “capable of providing support to a ballet dancer's foot while dancing en pointe”.

Elle54 7:30 AM  

I liked it! Fun puzzle

Hungry Mother 7:30 AM  

I’m still against numberals in puzzles, so I treated it as 4 rebuses, acceptable online. I was ATAD bothered by the recurrence on 2 of the rebuses however. Anyhoo, got it.

Stanley Hudson 7:33 AM  

As a historian I enjoy learning about important anniversaries. To mingle that with a favorite pastime, crosswording, makes for a special solve. Thanks David Kahn.

Airymom 7:35 AM  

I just read in the Baltimore Sun that today is ENYA's 57th birthday. It hit me that I've written her name countless times in puzzles, but have no idea what she looks like and couldn't name one song she's sung. I also thought she was in her 30's. Now I have to Google her. I'm thinking we should have a cake for her.

Trombone Tom 7:46 AM  

This was a different sort of quasi-rebus that went together fairly quickly. "Different" is good.

I can barely remember this year's Nobel winners, let alone ILYA.

A jagged mountain range is properly a sierra as in Sierra Nevada, but I and many others often refer to it/them as "the SIERRAS." In any case I am thankful that this majestic scenery is an easy drive from where I live.

I give the puzzle good marks for its twisty cluing.

Suzie Q 7:58 AM  

This has a theme like a granny in a see-thru blouse. Way too thin!
Seriously though, if the details of a theme require a Wiki search then I don't think it deserves a crossword to celebrate it.
Also, can anybody name another Seaway besides St. Lawrence?
I've never seen Big Bang Theory but does it merit two answers in 1 puzzle?
Gotta go with Rex on this one.

La Moda 8:05 AM  

The Alamo is NOT “a pile of limestone bullshit,” as one twitter twit put it. The answers are no more foolish than those who complain endlessly about every puzzle.

QuasiMojo 8:10 AM  

The first time I read "Le Rouge et Le Noir" by Stendhal (in English) it was translated on the cover as "The Scarlet and the Black." So I'm fine with RED A for the Scarlet Letter. (Which reminds me, it always bothered me that SCARLETT O'HARA had that extra "T.")

People are not going to be crying out "REMEMBER THE ALAMODOME!" a hundred years from now.

Nor will someone ever call a DILETTANTE a "nonpro" again. I hope. Dilettante is one of those words like its cousin "amateur" that have evolved over the centuries. It used to be a nice way of describing a connoisseur of the arts, now it is almost always derogatory. But "nonpro" is just offensive on its own.

I think Rex is way over-reacting, as is his wont (and his shtick in case you haven't caught on yet) but I wish he wouldn't add those awful tweets to his posts. I could give a rat's sacro ILYAc that some twitting geek out there in cyberspace got slowed up at MYNA. That is standard croswordese. HELLO?

You know I'm older than ENYA when I think the guy with the bowtie is WALLY COX.

And why do we say NEW Orleans rather than NOUVELLE if we kept SAN rather than SAINT for ANTONIO/ANTHONY? Discuss... (Or don't, but please talk about anything other than the meaning of LAIC.)

American Liberal Elite 8:18 AM  

Awn? Looking forward to haha and adit tomorrow.

Mohair Sam 8:22 AM  

It was awright. Had to battle for a while until it became easy once I saw the clues for 39D and 40D. And I have no Rexian problem with celebrating the 300th anniversary of two large American cities with a puzzle. Why not?

My only problem with ALAMO DOME is that it could have been ALAMO Rent-a-Car, a nice 13 that could have been paired with JAZZBANDmusic. Of course that would have caused a complete rebuild, but still. Disappointed too that ILYA wasn't clued "Sixers' power forward Ersan ____sova" - I'm sure you,re all watching the NBA playoffs and would have found that one a gimme. (at least it's current)

Liked the clue for VOODOO a lot. For those of you who don't know: Haagen-DAZS is not a Danish company - it originated in The Bronx. Two sports arenas in today's puzzle - anybody else notice we're getting lots of sports arenas mentioned in the puzzle lately?

ArtO 8:23 AM  

Quite easy for a Thursday. Thought the theme was fine and got a kick out of the added play on today's date which apparently went unnoticed by OFL but astutely pointed out by my predecessors this morning.

Matthew G. 8:28 AM  

I beat Rex's time? I believe that's a first for me. So I will celebrate that even as I agree with his review.

I have never heard of ILYA Frank, but I figured I'd throw a Y in there since ILYA is a common Russian name, and see if it led to a happy pencil later on. Luckily, it did.

Teddi and Teddy 8:40 AM  

Totally agree with OFL. Mid East hung us up for some time. Wanted Tab for the soft drink but could only recall the so very rocket science 60's logo... No red ball. 7-Up finally (der!) but still with a dnf because MAYa7blank8.? Sheesh.

Uncle Alvarez 8:56 AM  

Well you drove off Two Ponies. Hope you’re all proud of yourselves.

Mohair Sam 8:58 AM  

@Quasi - That would be Red O'Hara, yes? And I'm picturing your telling a June grad that it's a scarlet letter day for her - she must be very proud.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

How is that a play on numbers and what is play on numbers?

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

Ready for a dope slap but 39 down, what is a onel? Or however one should pronounce it?

Nancy 9:32 AM  

The "Aha" came very, very late, as I wondered why I was having 5x as much trouble in one small section as I was having anywhere else. I of course wanted 1Ls at 39D -- I had read Scott Turow's marvelous law school memoir ONE L years ago -- but that, of course, was how I wanted it spelled. And I couldn't make it work. I didn't know 7UP as clued (38D) and I never thought of NOT 1 BIT. (Who would?) Until my Aha Moment, I had mostly been irritated by the cross-references and some of the PPP: LILI and ILYA, notably.

Some good clues for CHADS, CLAP, VOODOO and TYLER and a lovely answer in DON'T ASK. But most of the puzzle was pretty dull, I thought. With the exception of the trick. The trick was fiendish and worth waiting for.

GILL I. 9:39 AM  

"I do't get this one at all." Thank you. Exactly what I said. WHY?
ALAMO DOME last thing in. I was looking for a fort or even a home. It's just THE ALAMO to me. Nothing else. If you're gonna get all landmarky and well known for, why not have Mardi Gras or the now-famous Hurricane cocktail or for the beignets wich is New Orleans signature sweet. I mean every city I know has a JAZZ BAND for cripes sakes.
I can't say much about San Antonio because I think most people will always think ALAMO. But they do have great TEX-MEX food and the River Walk.
For some reason MELT took me forever to get. I cry fowl. My tuna melt is nothing like a wrap. A wrap is bland and dry with unknown food stuff. A MELT is ooey gooey cheese over some yellowfin tuna.
I liked CLAP standing on the head of HERO Sully. Now the female pilot for Southwest that landed with a blown out window and the poor lady who got sucked out will probably have a movie made after her as well. Wanna bet Meryl Streep will play her?

michiganman 9:45 AM  

Pretty much disliked the puzzle. It was a joyless slog and then the number rebus-YEESH! I get spelling/VOODOO buy why expert? Some interest initially as 1A could have been deal, CLAP, or help. Went downhill from there. Ugly.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Rex is unnecessarily harsh. JAZZy puzzle, I liked it.

Carola 10:01 AM  

@Suzie Q 7:58 - I love your image of the see-through blouse. SAME feeling here about the too-thin theme.

@Unknown 5:13 - Thanks for that parsing of the date!

Re: SEISM - In case you missed it - fascinating article on how elephants' "SEISMic signatures" may help save them from poaching.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

Is Rex jealous? This is a pretty good puzzle. Tercentennials anywhere are a big deal, an a country only 242 years old, they're enormously big. I can't say I know what San Antonio is doing, but the Crescent City is doing it up. Come on down rex, maybe you'll lighten up.

For the mods,
Why can @Z use the disparaging terms anonymouse and anonymice with impunity?
They're strictly meant to insult, they don't further the discussion; Frankly, they seem to me a perfect example of why the board is, once again, being moderated.

There are plenty of civil and cogent commenters who prefer anonymity. @Z may be a big noise around these parts, but ought he not be subject to the same rules as those who go nameless?

(I assume this post will be blocked. But if it is, can a moderator or Rex make a statement about what ad hominem insults are allowed?)


Some no name.

howard a. brenner 10:02 AM  

Not complicated at all just a nasty little boy who learned a bad way to get attention. Try Jeff Chen xwordinfo constructor comments and thoughtfulness

Brett 10:14 AM  

@La Moda

That’s the joke - that to have this puzzle reference the Alamodome instead of the actual Alamo is as bad as a family traveling to San Antonio and ignoring the actual Alamo as “that old limestone building we parked near”.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

or foul

Mr. Benson 10:20 AM  

I can't see why people were stuck on the ILYA/MYNA crossing. MYNA should be well-known and ILYA is inferrable as a very common Russian name. What other letter would fit there? We recently had this issue with the hockey player ILYA Kovalchuk. So figure it out, people: ILYA is a name. A common one.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

I have a soft spot for SAN ANTONIO where I attended Trinity University. If I remember correctly the school's original campus was located in Waxahachie TX. Waxahatchee is evidently a creek in AL.

If you ask me, the ALAMODOME is frankly something of an eyeSORE.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

Saying "sierras" is like saying "mountainses". "Sierra" is already plural.

Canon Chasuble 10:33 AM  

One L means someone in her first year of Law school.
Very cute puzzle. 8-ball might have been a giveaway to some, but not to me. Who would guess there would be four numbers in there?

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

I must be a total moron. I do the NYT crossword every day and never complain about it. Some days I learn a new word or fact and every day my brain gets a bit of exercise. I just enjoy the game for what it is. Some days more than others but every puzzle provides some enjoyment. Cannot fathom why some folks do the puzzle just to nit-pick and complain. What fun is that? Or, am I just a moron who is missing the point?

JOHN X 10:46 AM  

This was a nice puzzle. It was a Thursday with a bit of a twist.

Rex, I really liked your celebration after you achieved Iconitude. However, instead of "[kisses fingertips]" you should have done a Johnny Manziel "money" thing with your fingertips instead. That would have been fresher, more current, crunchier, more in-the-language, and less Maleskian.

Can we get rid of BILLNYE already? Never trust anyone who wears a bow tie, ever. Also, he's not a scientist he's a failed stand-up comic. I guess it's his preachiness that irks me. I'm open to everything but don't preach to me about anything is what I'm saying, especially if you're wearing a f***ing bow tie.

Anyway this was a fun if easy Thursday puzzle.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Amen....from a LAIC

jberg 11:05 AM  

The theme was pretty easy to get, although adding the DOME was a bit harder -- but after I figured out that it isn't spelled HAAGEN-DASZ, I just naturally thought that Z hadto be part of ZYDECO. JAZZ BANDS, although a perfectly good answer, didn't come to me until I got ADZE.

big A before RED, dorK before GEEK, rAbbiT before BASSETT.

Does one lose plasm when one has a seism?

Johnny Bohnen 11:06 AM  

I'm with Rex, if for no other reason than I've never heard the phrase "sore sport".

Anonymous 11:06 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jim Finder 11:09 AM  

Agree with Anon 10:34am.

Kath320 11:12 AM  

Had Jazz HANDS for Jazz BANDS. Still think it's a better answer, don't @ me.

old timer 11:15 AM  

OFL is OFR today. Great puzzle and very clever and *who knew* both cities were founded in the same month and year? Good fact to learn. And the right time to make that point in the NYT puzzle.

One of my daughters lives in Bishop, CA. To the East are the 10,000 foot White Mountains. To the West, the jagged crest of the --- what? It is always the SIERRAS and never the plain SIERRA. The most impressive view of the SIERRAS, BTW, is from the Mill Pond county park just NW of town. Worth a detour as the Michelin guide would say.

GILL I. 11:17 AM  

@Anony 10:17....Quack Quack!

Tim Aurthur 11:18 AM  

Fun fact about John TYLER, who was born in 1790: two of his grandchildren are still alive.

G. Weissman 11:23 AM  

I wouldn’t say that sounding ignorant makes you a moron. But given your lack of interest in critical thought related to crossword puzzles, why would you read a blog devoted to crossword puzzle criticism? Also, replace the crossword puzzle in your post with any other form of entertainment or art (films, tv shows, books, paintings, etc.) and your post is an argument for uncritical reception of whatever comes your way. Fine for you, but other people enjoy critical thinking — hence the existence of film reviews, book reviews, art reviews, and this blog. You are entirely free to enjoy the NYT puzzle without reading this blog.

Masked and Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Primo Utah blocks in puzgrid central.

Splatzed in NOTHING where NOT1BIT shoulda been. Lost copious nanoseconds. Liked the "different" theme pretty well, but kinda had my hopes up that it was all about Utah. (What with "JAZZ…" and all.)

Toughest part of IL?A/M?NA for m&e was whether to go with I or Y. Was pretty sure it was MYNA bird, tho. Sooo … no problemo. That 1718 area was my big hangup. Don't know my N.O./San Antone history all that well … In fact, like I said before, NOTHING.

staff weeject picks: 7UP and 1LS. Extra point to 1LS, becuz of its desperation.

fave longballs and other fillins: DONTASK. VOODOO. INAWORD. RIPSAW. DAZS har.

Thanx for the historics, Mr. Kahn. Liked the 1LS part better than the 1U'S part.

Masked & AnonymoUs


Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Cranky pants? Rex is assuredly cranky au naturel.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Ah, helpful - thanks for the tip. Rex's tantrums are truly tedious.

Joseph Michael 11:52 AM  

Liked the surprise of numbers in the grid instead of letters and the double meaning of May 17 18. Otherwise this seemed pretty easy for a Thursday.

Hard to see "Don't ask" without thinking of "don't tell" and one of our country's dumbest military policies. Just let people be who they are and quit forcing them to play games involving their identities.

Cool clues for VOODO and TATTOO.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Brett. If that's the joke then the joke's not funny. It's not a matter of which structure you feel is most important. The world doesn't revolve around your preferences. It's a crossword puzzle. Calm yourself.

puzzlehoarder 11:57 AM  

I found the puzzle to be enjoyable. Mostly I solved it by avoiding the theme. Not hard to as the tricky part comprised only four squares. A 25D write over of NOTABIT really threw me off the theme until I'd solved the rest of the puzzle. Then I figured it out pretty quickly but wasted time trying to put in numbers or rebuses. The solution was to use the initial letters OSOE

Chip Hilton 12:05 PM  

Geez, lighten up. I’m in total agreement with @LaModa (8:05) and @Anonymous (10:34). I toyed with zIPSAW, yielding zEDONE and thought it might be some Britspeak reference. Also, thought St. Lawrence might be a zealot and went with DAZz for a bit, but still came in with 22 minutes which, for me, is Thursday appropriate.

I liked this. The two cities sharing their month of founding was pretty neat and, if you can’t have a rebus on a Thursday, why not throw in some digits?

Noam D. Elkies 12:08 PM  

Rex is half right about the 1's: "not 1 bit" would be ludicrous, but "1L" is the usual way to write this in law school (likewise 2L and 3L); "One L" is only the book or movie, and "ONELS" is 1-ly crosswordese. Anyhow it was good enough for a Thursday's crossword entertainment; nice that both cities were founded in the same month 300 years ago, and that "May 17, '18" happens to be a Thursday.


Anonymous 12:13 PM  

@anonymous isn’t Z one of the moderators?

JC66 12:37 PM  

@anon 12:13

Where'd you hear that?

Z 12:43 PM  

@Lewis makes valid points, but I still lean Rexian here. There just doesn't seem to be enough there there.

@Anon10:01 - Fair question. You have noticed that the term "anonymouse" is pejorative. I cannot deny it. But neither I nor others use it recklessly. I use it in response to very specific behavior. Be strident, wrong, and anonymous and you have earned the scarlet A. I will disagree on one of your points, if I respond to a scarlet A wearer my response is always furthering (or sometimes seeking to end) the conversation. I will let you in another not so secret secret, have something explained earlier in the comments and then double down on your mistake in an even more strident voice and "anonymouse" is the gentle term. The commentariat generally refrains from more colorful yet accurate descriptors.

TJS 12:44 PM  

Thought this was one of the best Thursdays in some time. Agree w. @ mathgent, @ Lewis and @ quasimojo. Would much rather have a puzzle that takes some thought than one I could reduce to a sub-4 minute run-through. Three hundred year celebrations for U.S. cities is pretty amazing (but of course people of other cultures would be laughing at us). But I am more amazed at @ Tim arthur, 11:18 factoid. If Tyler had a child at 60, that would get us to 1850. If that child had a child at 60, we are at 1910. The two grandchildren would be 107. Good genes !

Anoa Bob 12:51 PM  

In many areas there are obvious professionals and obvious amateurs, but there is a gray area between them for which the proper term isn't quite as obvious. Take poker, for example. I know players who have day jobs but play two, three or more times a week and go off to play in the big casinos whenever they can.

On World Series of Poker or World Poker Tour tournament broadcasts, I've heard this type of player described as a NON-PRO, and it is no way derogatory. In fact, it's more of a badge of honor, since it means that player can hold their own against the real PRO while still working for a living.

I think a similar category exists in xword construction. My term for someone who has more than a handful of puzzles published but who is nowhere near the level of the top guns would be "dabbler".

If you are an amateur constructor who would like to kick it up a notch or two, there's a useful constructor's trick on display today of what to do if one of your possible theme entries is spot on but, unfortunately, is a letter short of the designated slot.

To wit, the 8-letter JAZZ BAND would be a fine avatar/symbol for NEW ORLEANS, but it won't fit the 9-letter slot at 33 Down. What to do? Just tack an S on the end. Problem solved. POC to the rescue!

Most people, even if they notice at all, will care NOT 1 BIT that you had use a plural of convenience to make the themer fit in. Well, maybe this old xword dabbler who lives a couple of hundred miles south of SAN ANTONIO.

PoopyPants 12:52 PM  

Liked the puzzle, appropriately challenging and I learned something about history along the way. This doesn't happen every day. I agree that AlamoDOME is a little silly in a puzzle celebrating the history of these two great America cities. A puzzle can't be all things, it can only be some. And this puzzle's things are good enough by me!

Spiro A. 12:53 PM  

No,Z is not a moderator, but he is the pompous pedant of polemics. Still, he does add to the discussion.

Dick Swart 1:07 PM  

Good Heavens, Rex ... you are a spoil sport. Just because you don't get spmething, probably a defect in your funny bone, it is not any good at all and the creator should burn in the fires of hell.

A Commercial! 1:12 PM  

The aha moment of this puzzle gave me the feeling Ralphie had when he decoded the secret message with his Little Orphan Annie decoder pin.


But it was fun before that.

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

With Aldrich AMES crossing an unknown (to me) ARENA, I started pouting at this puzzle. Not too excited about the clue for VOODOO. Expert spelling? People who practice VOODOO are experts? ILYA Frank? And with A_AMO in place, I couldn't reconcile with the crossing NEW ORLEANS so ??

Once I saw the 1718 in the center (nice that on paper, I didn't have to worry about whether the puzzle accepted numerals), I cheered up a bit but still had a minor SEISM in the SE due to IONE, BILL NYE, TYLER and LILI. Plus misspelling Haagen DaaZ in the west to start with didn't help but the St. Lawrence SEAWAY was a no-brainer. Yesterday's DULUTH port is the western end of the SEAWAY and when it finally opens in the spring for shipping, there's always an article in the paper around here.

So in a SENSE, this puzzle did fine for me, albeit with a couple of SORE spots (I didn't know Congressman Schiff from ADAM). So thanks, DJK, for a diverting Thursday.

Azzurro 1:24 PM  

As a former 1L myself, I had no problem with that spelling, and it’s what clued me in to the other numbers. I share the groans over ALAMODOME, but the puzzle was overalla cute way to celebrate a rare tricentennial event. Lighten up, Rex!

Azzurro 1:25 PM  

Rex isn’t a spoil sport. He’s a SORESPORT (at least for today). :-)

Laurel Grotto 1:29 PM  

Having just started reading this site, it is puzzling to me why Rex still does this crossword since he dislikes it so much. Perhaps he should find something that gives him enjoyment rather than making him angry.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

No one asked you a question. get over yourself.

QuasiMojo 1:33 PM  

Good points! @Anoa Bob. 12:51AM. Someone else said Two Ponies is gone? I hope we don’t lose LMS and Lewis and Nancy and Gill et al. I still wonder if George and Doug and the Grammar guy and Casco lurk here now and then. I miss the classical music dude.

Charley 1:37 PM  

Preservation Hall is a sight. A jazz band isn’t a sight.

Kimberly 1:52 PM  

The trick inspired a slow head shake rather than a grin. Jazz bands and the Alamodome are not remotely equivalent. I’m turning into Rex. I’d better find something positive to say before I turn into a curmudgeon.


It feels like it’s been a while since they used numbers. So that’s unique and almost makes this feel like a Thursday.

Almost grumble grumble grumble

Kimberly 1:54 PM  

Here it is, perfectly said:

“A Commercial! said...

The aha moment of this puzzle gave me the feeling Ralphie had when he decoded the secret message with his Little Orphan Annie decoder pin. ”

TJS 2:07 PM  

Ran into so and so yesterday.A sight for sure eyes.

KarynLD 2:08 PM  

I try not to be too critical of crosswords (being in no way talented enough to construct one myself), but sweet jesus on a breadstick, I have to agree with the masses that using "Alamodome" as some kind of iconic San Antonio sight is ridic.

The ONLY thing that would make it forgivable, possibly, would be if the corresponding New Orleans landmark was "Superdome" (which, FYI, is the same number of letters). I mean, aren't references to domed stadiums (stadia?) that happen to be located in cities that share a tricentennial marginally better than references to two random things that happen to be associated with and/or located in cities that share a tricentennial?

Joe Bleaux 2:15 PM  

The most joyous moment of today's solving experience: Thinking, "Well, I'm glad I didn't let the damn thing beat me" when it was over. I don't recall exactly when, not far out of the easy NW, that it turned from fun challenge to surly, defiant slog that left me dependient on crosses to suss out answers. All other criticisms have been covered and all other nits picked. (And I will never CLAP for RAZ or any other "Big Bang" GEEK in any puzzle. They can all stay in the Star Wars and Harry Potter bin, far as as I'm concerned.)

Whatsername 2:21 PM  

Got the “city“ theme answers easily enough and the questionable sights unique to each one. However, I wholeheartedly agree with others that Alamodome is a particularly bad answer and jazz bands could apply to many cities - Kansas City and Memphis, to name two. If I was choosing an iconic image for the marvelous port of New Orleans, it would be the Mardi Gras or Jackson Square or the French Quarter or the Mississippi River or even the Super Dome - many things other than a jazz band. This theme was a clever concept, but IMO could have been better if clues for 37 across had been a tad more specific. “City founded this month” Or “city founded today?” would have at least made me think in terms of a date. Then I might have had a smiling “aha” moment instead of a disgruntled shrug. I’m with Rex today. I get it but I didn’t like it.

Whatsername 2:32 PM  

@KarynLD - I had the same thought about the Super Dome/Alamo Dome. Or the Alamo Bowl and Sugar Bowl would have worked too.

@Gill I - interesting fact, New Orleans also has a Riverwalk. It’s a collection of outlet stores which runs along the Mississippi River.

Nancy 2:35 PM  

@Thomaso808 (5:53) -- So glad you enjoyed the song [from yesterday]. It's always a pleasure to share awareness of excellent creative work that's come in under the radar. There's so much talent out there that most people, unfortunately, will never encounter.

@Quasi (1:33) -- Many thanks for the shout-out, if only as part of a group :) Happily, it's not so easy to lose me and I fervently hope it's not so easy to lose any of the others you've mentioned, either. Regarding @Two Ponies: it's going to surprise a great many of you that I already miss her (assuming she's gone, that is). While I don't think I have ever agreed with her on a single political or social issue-- and she's been recklessly outspoken about more of them than you can shake a stick at -- still, she's a sharp, colorful, engaging and lively writer who adds a certain je ne sais quois to the blog. And as much as I may disagree with her on politics and gender issues, I frequently agree with her terse, witty and well-phrased views on crossword puzzles. (This post may shock some of you, but I'm sure it won't at all surprise such off-blog friends of mine as @Aketi and @Hartley.)

Larry Gilstrap 2:53 PM  

My old friend has lived in Truckee for many years and bristles when he hears SIERRAS as the name of his local mountain range. I know others who have the same strong feeling, so I balked at 10D, as well. My wife has a cow when she sees PANINIS on a menu, and I quibble at RBIS in a puzzle. I know; a BIT too precious, AWW!

Never really watched the Science Guy on TV, but his book Undeniable is a well fashioned cogent argument, readable and enjoyable for us science dilettantes.

It's nice to be reminded that some places in the New World, are not that new. On the other hand, I remember visiting Winchester Cathedral during the celebration of the congregations 900th anniversary. Quite a head start!

TomAz 2:53 PM  

I'm pretty much where Rex is on this one. I don't actually mind the two cities being the theme, and the fact they were both established in the same month/year is sort of cool, and I like the 5/17/18 play. But that's it? There needs to be more. And ALAMO DOME? I had ALAMO and 4 blank squares and I was.. huh? Then the eye roll.

My favorite part of this puzzle was BILL NYE, because it reminded me of (and caused me to go back and re-watch) the Isaac Newton vs Bill Nye rap battle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yis7GzlXNM

semioticus (shelbyl) 2:55 PM  

This puzzle had some of the worst cluing I've ever seen. The fill was also boring af. Sore sport? GTFAH. Expert spelling? No.

Drew 3:31 PM  

I only got the theme because I've heard quite a bot about SA's 300th anniversary the past few months. But I initially wanted to put SPURS GAME for 11d. I had the hardest time getting NEW ORLEANS to click.

I did not like JAZZ BANDS coupled with ALAMODOME. The latter is actually a pretty iconic place in San Antonio, speaking as someone who has been there a half-dozen times over the years for various football and basketball games (somewhat related: it hosted a few Saints games after Katrina).

Agree that MYNA/ILYA was dreadful.

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

The Michelin Guide would say Sierra.

Banana Diaquiri 4:52 PM  

@Tim Aurthur:
Fun fact about John TYLER, who was born in 1790: two of his grandchildren are still alive.

which just proves that White People MAGA!! :)

sanfranman59 5:16 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. Your results may vary.

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

Mon 3:46 4:24 0.86 10.3% Easy
Tue 5:24 5:26 1.00 48.1% Medium
Wed 7:49 6:07 1.28 84.6% Challenging
Thu 9:03 9:42 0.93 37.4% Easy-Medium

I neglected to post my relative difficulty rating with my comments last night. Here it is, on the off chance that anyone is interested.

OffTheGrid 5:56 PM  

Probably no one is reading this anymore but I was thinking. Sierra is a mountain range so if one says "the Sierras" it is technically wrong (unless one is referring to multiple ranges}. But it sounds OK and makes sense to people. I'm mostly a stickler for proper language but sometimes I think it's OK to ease up a bit. Another example is the letter "O" and zero. We say the year 1907 nineteen "O" seven (technically wrong), not nineteen zero seven. It works and sounds more smooth. But, I'm also good with nineteen aught seven.

Anonymous 6:54 PM  

I'll pass.

Zilla 7:32 PM  

Only been doing NYT puzzles for about a year, but this one is the worst I can remember. The POSTIT clue is awful. There's always tomorrow.

Anonymous 11:06 PM  

Rex didn't like the puzzle because he had trouble with it.period Who drove Two ponies out? good job. most of the complaints about the puzzle were excruciatingly pedantic, mostly without merit.The puzzle was kind of clever and refreshing,

GPO 12:24 AM  

Plural of CHAD is CHAD.

La Moda 9:57 AM  

Thank you for your comments!

Michael McCormick 9:50 PM  

What a bullshit puzzle. When they have to be so fucking cute to throw numbers and not let you know beforehand. That's bullshit!!!!!!!!

Michael McCormick 9:53 PM  

What a bullshit puzzle. When they have to be so fucking cute to throw numbers and not let you know beforehand. That's bullshit!!!!!!!!

Burma Shave 10:10 AM  


NOT1BIT of SASS they’ll abide,
then they get SORE and give you a RED_A TATTOO.


rondo 11:49 AM  

Well, NOThing was right in the middle until MAY1718, then NOThing was NOT1BIT correct. Then the light BULB went on and the 8BALL got things rolling further down south and west through SANANTONIO and INAWORD or two, no more write-overs to be REDONE. Was looking at __LL_YE and was wondering if the MN state fish, the waLLeYE might appear, but no, it’s the science guy. Rather thin theme but a coupla nice factoids.

I once had my computer wallpaper set as a Big Bad VOODOO Daddy album cover. Love that swinging big JAZZBAND stuff.

ILYA has sddenly become popular.

I’ll POSTIT: LILI Taylor for yeah baby.

Is this a good puz? Depends on what the definition of ISIS.

spacecraft 11:58 AM  

I wondered when they'd start with the numbers game. I once saw a word search that was all like that; my favorite entry was "VER1000000.*" The date was cause for a single space writeover: I at first thought "Zero" was NOThing but held off until getting the end BIT--when of course I wrote in NOTaBIT. Still had no idea what was wanted for 37-across.

Downs cleared that (7)up; 1LS being pretty desperate. A couple other spots raised ?s: Never saw MYNA without the H, and SORE sport?? Not in the language. I can never remember whether it's -DAZS or -DASZ. It's all Dutch to me. The grid started to stutter: NANA ISIS LILI.

Overall, though, I enjoyed it. Number rebi can be fun. The toe has been dipped; let's wade in a little farther. The amazing TIA Carrere is DOD. Birdie.

thefogman 1:09 PM  

It took me forever to solve the centre but then the light BULB finally switched on. I was stuck on Tab for awhile instead of 7UP and that put me behind the 8BALL. I don't like the use of numbers like this - especially in 1LS. Roman numerals in a xword are fair game because they are letters of the alphabet. DONTASK how long it took me, but I did finish - but only after performing a little VOODOO. The puzzle was ATAD too clever for me.

Diana,LIW 1:46 PM  

Well - of course I was wondering what "A 718" was. But I was not correct in my complete answer. Not "one" bit. Phgggghhhh.

And I even got the (&**( numbers thing. Even when I had determined that a rebus was not going to ruin my Thursday morning.

What a lot of work for one vs. A.

As I said, Phggghhh

Diana, LIW

leftcoastTAM 4:10 PM  

The switch from numbers to letters in the middle got me, and I'm feeling a bit SORE.

Had 1718, but then stopped cold. Was sure I needed more numbers to fill out the line. None came, not a 1,2,3, etc., that made any sense. Should have grasped that something else was up. But no.

So was force-fed some history. Both cities founded in MAY, 1718. Okay, fine, good to know, I guess.

No wake-up ALARM and no TIA or TOY, either.

Give me a RED A for Absence of mind.

leftcoastTAM 4:33 PM  

Better: Give me a RED A for Asleep at the switch.

thefogman 4:36 PM  

If 1LS and NOT1BIT were as good as 7UP and 8BALL I'd have no problem with this puzzle. I too had NOThing for a long time and had an arghh instead of an aha! moment when I solved the numeric gimmick. Was I impressed? NOT1BIT !!!

rainforest 4:43 PM  

Numbers that aren't Roman in a puzzle. What a caper! Kind of interesting that two cities were founded in the same month 300 years ago. I agree that the ALAMO DOME is hardly a point of interest, but 9 letters, eh. Maybe Tim Duncan would've been a better choice.

One write-over with IN shORt before IN A WORD. Took many nanoseconds to suss the date, but 7 and 8 gave a clue. Was I upset? NOT 1 BIT.

Nice to be reminded of the famous TATTOO RIOT of 1718.
Different. Liked it.

spacecraft 7:35 PM  

*vermilion, in case you were wondering.

wcutler 10:57 PM  

I really liked the comment that pointed out that the sights were ones FEATURED on the cities' websites. Makes those clues totally reasonable.

Those of us in syndiland seeing this for the first time on June 21 aren't thinking about what date it originally appeared, so the play-on-numbers May/17/18 is lost on us. I see it now above the puzzle, but that's usually only relevant for finding an old blog posting. I didn't know the law school beginners, and there was no centenary suggestion today, so I was guessing 8 or 9, was amazed to learn that these places were founded so early. Once again, I'm so appreciative of this blog and all your comments.

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