Old TV Uncle / THU 7-15-10 / River site Javert's demise / 1970s supergroup for short / Jiang's predecessor / Tessellation piece

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Constructors: Brendan Emmett Quigley and Patrick Blindauer

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (leaning toward the latter...)

THEME: Shhhh... it's a SECRET — eight theme answers all start [After 66-Across ...], only there is no 66-Across in the puzzle. You have to figure out what it is and then imagine it, sitting right underneath 63-Across, in order for the theme answers to make sense, and for the Downs in the SW corner to make any sense.

Word of the Day: ILGWU (43D: Labor grp.) —

The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union was once one of the largest labor unions in the United States, one of the first U.S. unions to have a primarily female membership, and a key player in the labor history of the 1920s and 1930s. The union, generally referred to as the "ILGWU" or the "ILG," merged with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union in 1995 to form the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE). UNITE merged with the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) in 2004 to create a new union known as UNITE HERE. The two unions that formed UNITE in 1995 represented only 250,000 workers between them, down from the ILGWU's peak membership of 450,000 in 1969. (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow. I feel strongly both ways. Very strongly. First of all: the theme is really brilliant, first because it requires us to think (literally) outside the box, not once, but twice. I mean, I got blind-sided by the theme, mainly because I was sure I had figured it out — there's a 66-Across that I have to imagine, and it is the word "SECRET." Yay. Issue solved. Only ... only ... why was the bottom half of the puzzle not going anywhere? I mean, I was just stopped. Well, there are two answers to this question: one, the SE was just terrible for me, having nothing to do with the theme (more on that below); and two, I had yet to discover the other feature of the theme. SECRET didn't simply exist in the imaginary—you have to physically insert it (or imagine its physical presence, I suppose) underneath 63-Across for any of the Down answers to make sense down there. Until you get this, you're screwed. Had the "A" and wanted AS YET for 48D: Still (AT REST). Wanted ORNE or some other four-letter French river for 54D: River that's the site of Javert's demise in "Les Miserables" (SEINE). AMO for 56D: Member of a Latin trio (AMAS).

This AMO/AMAS confusion makes a nice segue to one of the things I did *not* like so much—cheap trickery. Cluing that, in retrospect, is deliberately intended to make you think a specific wrong answer. Trickery is good if it's not heavy-handed, but too often today, it was. The AMO for AMAS was the least of it. LADMAG (46D: Maxim, e.g.) was another where the payoff was more ugh than wow. That's a British term. Maxim is not British. Not exclusively, anyway. I see that it is "International," but whatever, LADMAG is a specifically UK term, and nothing in the clue tips that. Here's the wikipedia def. of LAD MAG:
Lads', Lads, or Laddie mags (magazines) (known exclusively as men's magazines in English-speaking North America - the United States, Canada, and the Bahamas) contain non-nude photography (or bare-breasted photography in the case of some British "lads' mags"), accompanied by articles about women (usually models or actresses); consumer stories about cars, tools, toys, foods, alcoholic beverages; or "guy tales" of sexual encounters.

Note the part that beings "known exclusively as men's magazines in English-speaking North America." Hey, *I* live in English-speaking North America; therefore, Maxim, *not* a "LAD MAG." Further, the clue (here's the cheap trickery part) is deliberately vague in a way that could have you thinking adage or Nissan, and possibly other things I can't think of. Oh crap, the Nissan is a MaximA. OK, my bad. The worst cheap trickery, though, is 62A: 1970s supergroup for short (ELP). 99% of you will have entered ELO, and I'm guessing over half had to at least stop and think about what the hell ELP could possibly stand for. Some of you are still waiting to find out. It's Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Come on! Clue is written so that you will think ELO. Not so that you will be misdirected, but so that you will be wrong in a very specific way, and clue stretches significance of ('ulp) ELP to do so. Me no like. Yes, they sold a lot of albums in their time, but ELP? That's Eliza Doolittle singing the Beatles. ILGWU (while we're down there) is about the fugliest abbr. in the history of mankind. And "squarepants" is just a toon to me (not self-evidently a DWEEB), so I was well and truly screwed in the SE until the very end (ELP was the very very last thing to go down).

[40 million albums sold? Really? How wasted were people in the '70s?]

So it's a tale of two puzzles—the theme is pure Win. The cluing and fill, in places, less than palatable. I've got REAIM and YOGAS (31D: Options at a gym) and a couple others irking me as well. ANO is never good (39A: Agosto to agosto). Don't understand ION (5D: One in an accelerated program?), but that's because I'm sci-illiterate. Got very held up by both SNARFED and ALKIE, largely because I would never think to look for them—super slangy. I love them both, so no complaints there. That's the kind of "Wha?" I like. I think I'm going to start using ILGWU to mean "horrendously ugly," as in "LEADY? Man, that is some ILGWU fill."

Theme answers:
  • 17A: After 66-Across, Batcave feature (ENTRANCE)
  • 21A: After 66-Across, anonymous Valentine sender (ADMIRER)
  • 23A: After 66-Across, participant in a gift-giving activity (SANTA)
  • 35A: After 66-Across, election standard (BALLOT)
  • 40A: After 66-Across, classic 1911 children's book, with "The" ("GARDEN")
  • 49A: After 66-Across, spy (AGENT)
  • 53A: After 66-Across, exposé subject (HISTORY)
  • 58A: After 66-Across, marketing gimmicks (FORMULAS)
Those last two were *far* less obvious than the others, adding to my problems with solving the entire southern half of this grid.

  • 19A: Popular headlights (XENONS) — guessed off the "XE-"; not familiar with these as a kind of headlight.
  • 30A: Mideast city that is the captial of the world in H. G. Wells's "The Shape of Things to Come" (BASRA) — H. G. Wells's what now? I had CAIRO.
  • 36A: Kitchen gadget brand with a rotationally symmetric logo (OXO) — nice little winky metacrossword clue there (crossword grids are, almost without fail, rotationally symmetric(al))
  • 42A: Janis Ian, Billy Preston and George Carlin were its first guests (SNL) — doesn't require an abbrev. cue, apparently.
  • 48A: Literary character who says "For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee" (AHAB) — sweet, sweet gimme. This line was made very famous as part of KHAN's (not KAHN's, 29D: "Clue" actress Madeline) last speech in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan":

  • 60A: Old TV "Uncle" (MILTIE) — embarrassing how long this took me. I could think only of Uncle Charlie on "My Three Sons." Lots of "Old" stuff today. ILGWU!
  • 64A: Jiang's predecessor (DENG) — DENG Xiaoping. Leader of China from late '70s to early '90s.
  • 3D: "Der Ring des Nibelungen" war god (WOTAN) — whoa. No way. Had WODEN in there at first (whence the name "Wednesday," which would have been "ironic," as it is Thursday...)
  • 11D: Judicial area dealing with athletes (SPORTS LAW) — I like this. Feels solid. Straightforward. Real. Also, original.
  • 12D: Host (TON) — A HOST of something = a TON of something? Like ... a LOT of something?
  • 26D: Chief Joseph ___, after whom a Maine college town is named (ORONO) — Will let a lot of these long, explanatory clues stand today. My brain: "blah blah Maine college town => ORONO. Next!"
  • 35D: 2,100-square mile island with six volcanoes (BALI) — long island with volcanoes = probably south pacific = wait for crosses, aha, BALI.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Harry 12:40 AM  

Really liked this puzzle; it got progressively harder as I went clockwise around the grid. I suppose it was a good thing thing that I had recently done BEQ's Puzzle #243 from last week.

Funny, ELP and ILGWU were gimmes for me. ELO, BTW, is not a supergroup, i.e. a group formed of known solo artists or well-known members of other bands, like The Traveling Wilburys or ASIA. The ILGWU is "The Union Label" song Union. Oh, and an ION could be (is) a particle in a particle accelerator or collider.

I do agree about LADMAG, though. That just ain't right.

PurpleGuy 12:46 AM  

Oh man, do I agree 100% today with you @Rex.
You're write up is spot on.

My write over was ScARFED for SNARFED. I was looking for some synonym for maxim as in adage,etc. Could think of nothing that ended in MAG.

I agree the theme was great. The cluing was ILGWU awful !

I guess I need to pour some more Johnny Walker Green. Does that make me an ALKIE ? Certainly not my mom☺

I'll be anxious to see what darling Andrea's take is on this puzzle.
Shall I say ta-ta, pip-pip,cheerio !!!

chorism- the belief in choirs !

Happy Thursday all. Off for my yearly physical.

D_Blackwell 12:58 AM  

I wondered about LAD MAG too, but it looks legit; UK based, first issue in '95, first US issue in '98. Last UK issue in '09, but still with solid UK credentials.

Wikipedia - Maxim (magazine)

Got to watch out for Wikipedia for very specific facts, but first guess is that this pans out as good to go.

Anonymous 12:58 AM  

Interesting. All the things Rex hated were exactly the reasons I love this puzzle. I knew ILGWU and I guessed ELP based on how the clue was written but the other traps were, for me, fun instead of frustrating. I love those kinds of intentional misdirections. The more I erase the better the puzzle. Even LADMAG made me laugh. This was a near-perfect solving experience for me.


Steve J 1:33 AM  

I agree that LADMAG should have been tipped as a Britishism, but using Maxim as the clue is absolutely, 100% spot on. As @D_Blackwell points out, Maxim originated in the UK and later came to the US. In fact, it and 1-2 other publications (FHM, perhaps something else) are why the term LADMAG was coined in the first place. No trickery at all.

No trickery with the ELP clue, either. Definitely misdireciton, but no trick. @Harry correctly points out the meaning of "supergroup," and ELO doesn't fit (although one if its members, Jeff Lynne later became a member of noted supergroup Traveling Wilburys).

Those two points aside, I absolutely agree with the analysis. The partials (secret ENTRANCE, secret ADMIRER, etc.) were great.

Requiring the filling in of a secret row - which doesn't extend across the puzzle - not so much. I may have been hurt by my technology - the iPhone app handily highlights cross-referenced answers, but for some bizarre reason it was highlighting 42D, and I never paid attention to the 66A reference, since I never need to note clue numbers. So I couldn't figure out why ALCOHOLIC wouldn't fit, whe SEINE wouldn't, etc. As a result, the SW stayed completely blank. At which point I gave up.

Mixed feelings, indeed. But the good parts were really, really good.

shrub5 1:51 AM  

Loved the theme and the secret SECRET at the bottom! When I realized there was no 66-Across, I thought the operative word preceding the theme answers might be 'missing'. But as I scooted around and got ADMIRER, I realized it was SECRET. Made the rest of the theme answers near gimmes.

Hand up for SCARFED before SNARFED. I, too, put ELO but TBSPS changed it to ELP, which I failed to recognize as Emerson et al.

@Rex: I think XENONS are those *very* bright white (almost towards blue) headlights one sees when driving at night that look different from everyone else's headlights!

Rube 2:17 AM  

I admire you experts who can debate the nuances of this puzzle. To me it was a Saturday level solve, which is to say I DNF. As I cheated myself into the SW corner, I did figure out the secret "SECRET" , but I needed a lot of help from @Rex.

There are umpteen clues/answers with which I could take exception, but I'll leave this to others, I'm too tired. Nite, nite.

Jamie 3:17 AM  

I guess it helps to have been working a lot of BEQs lately - I'm pretty sure he had a similar gimmick recently about the internet, in which the endings of answers were off the grid. Once I knew that Seine had to be the answer for 54D, I remembered the off the grid thingy. However, for the folks who only do the NYT puzzle and don't look at the constructor(s)' name, I'd agree this was a challenging Thursday.

(That said, I "finished" with ELO still in place - I didn't notice that it made no sense for the cross. I've heard of Emerson, Lake etc., but never heard them referred to as ELP.)

I can't share the outrage over ladmag. It came to me instantly off the two As in the crosses. For some reason (that probably being that I have been doing too many BEQs!) Maxim, the ladmag, popped into my head before the more usual definition of maxim.

Actually, when I saw that BEQ was a co-conspirator on this, I groaned, expecting the entire fill to be indie music stars I've never heard of...

I'm with you Rex on the cluing of Orono. Standard crosswordese, and now I know another thing about that Maine college town, although I couln't find it on a map to save my life.

I've often come across "host" in the sense of multitude, so that didn't send me out for Botox, but I'm still not clear why 31D is YogaS. Do people really use that word in the plural?

captcha = supsom (what I've been doing!)

Anonymous 3:43 AM  

Wow -- the double trick to the theme was brilliant!
Got the "secret" as the first word of the phrase early on (from "secret Santa"), but had to keep redoing the SW until "workaholic" forced me to literally think outside the box. It didn't help that I originally had Martin for the old TV uncle. Remember "My Favorite Martian"?

Ions are the particles accelerated in cyclotrons, and ILGWU used to be on the label of all our clothing, (back in the days when a lot of it was still made in the USA.)

Thanks for explaining ELP and ladmag -- I had no idea what they were. Even after I filled them in, I just figured I must have made a weird error somewhere, and would have to hope you would be able to clue me in!

Jamie 4:07 AM  

Hmm - I googled it and it seems there are various styles of yoga, so a gym could have several "yogas" on offer.

chefwen 4:15 AM  

Caught onto the theme with ADMIRER, took me a while to plop in SECRET under 63A but when I did the rest fell easily, filled in all the secret clues with ease. BEQ usually sends shivers of doubt through my spine, but this one was a joy.

Thank you BEQ and Patrick. I'm off to get an ICEPOP, it's warm here, trade winds are down.

r.alphbunker 4:19 AM  

This was a nice variation on BEQ's infamous puzzle 5 at the 2010 ACPT! Got the word "secret" early on and hoped that there was more to the theme than that! If not, "absent" would have been a better word for 64 across.

chefwen 4:29 AM  

Oops, forgot to mention 1A isn't always the case. If you look at our sheets you will see the outline of red dirt paw prints (impossible to get out) sporting five digits, thanks to our Paddy boy who is polydactyl. Husband calls him PAWlydactyl, he's a sweetheart, but man, he's got some enormous hoofs.

Falconer 4:53 AM  

Fantastic puzzle. Loved the Emerson Lake & Palmer reference (huge fan in the '70s); loved the ILGWU reference (my grandfather was an ILGWU member for 40 yrs); loved the slangy alkie and snarfed; amazing theme; fantastic trick to go outside the box; awesome to see the clutch Paul O'Neill in the grid; really liked the clever new clues for old standby fill IPO and SNL.

All in all, a tour de force - everything a Thursday should be.

CaseAce 7:06 AM  

And ONEBYONE the dirty little SECRET's came out in the wash!

Rex Parker 7:27 AM  

Yes, *technically*, Maxim originated in UK, so OK. But do people who read it here in the U.S. know that? Honest question. "Oh, you mean the Maxim that they publish in the UK as opposed to the one I see all the time on the rack at the drug store." Seems wrong.

Lots of magazines exist in multiple countries such that you would never know their country of origin. To me, Maxim is just some magazine for jackasses who want to impress stupid girls / each other—as the Daily Show once put it, "porn for guys who are too afraid to buy porn." I have seen LADMAG in a BEQ puzzle before, I'm pretty sure, so I should have picked it up earlier than I did.

Still, in this country (where I happen to be solving this puzzle), "Maxim" on its own simply doesn't say "British," whatever its actual, researchable, literal origins.

Greene 7:32 AM  

One of the many things I like about the NYT puzzle is that even though I might occasionally be disappointed in a few puzzles (i.e. Monday and Tuesday this week), my disappointment never lasts long. Things start to look up (i.e. Wednesday) and then along comes something clever and brilliant like today and all is forgiven.

I absolutely loved this puzzle, even though it vexed me for a time. I got the SECRET gimmick early, but like many, it took me some time to figure out the SW corner. I knew that Javert threw himself into the SEINE, but why won't it fit? Is there a rebus? I knew Uncle MILTIE too, so I immediately fell into the AMO trap. It was a really good trap too. Things finally became clear when I realized that DISINTER and AT REST were not going to work until I started to think outside the grid.

So once again I am saved by a reference to a Broadway show (or French literature if you prefer). Thanks for that Patrick. A Blindauer puzzle without a Broadway reference is like...well, a BEQ without an obscure Indie reference.

Congratulations to the constructors for a challenging, yet delightful puzzle.

Captcha=mushabb. The result of lying in bed working too many crosswords?

David 7:33 AM  

The two related "Aha's" of this puzzle, secret and the presence absense of 66 Across, were highly engaging.

And the cluing showed more wit and intelligence than usual, in my humble opinion.

But I think LADMAG has to surpass ILGWU just in visual ugliness. The crosses made it achievable, but even with it filled in, LADMAG looks ugly and wrong!

CaseAce 7:42 AM  

WOW! What freakin planet was I on when Carly Simon, was looking that delicioso...what a fox!

redhed 8:12 AM  

I am with Rex on this one. While I found the (nonexistent) 66A notion really neat, the cluing and some of the knowledge I did not have was vexing, not that I was RILEd up or anything. Really tough puzzle for a Thursday, IMHO.

JenCT 8:17 AM  

DNF for me; solving online didn't help (nowhere to write in SECRETS).

Had Uncle FESTER, GUYMAG (??), others. I can admire the construction, though.

@Rex: ILGWU fill - good one.

Zeke 8:26 AM  

My pet peeve #27: YOGA derived from the same root in Hindi as does yoke, and means a method by which you attach oneself to the infinate. There are six schools of YOGA: Raja (Meditation), Karma (Actions), Jnana (Knowledge), Bhakti (Love) and Hahta (Physical discipline).
Everyone seems to think that Yoga is simply Bhakti Yoga, when in fact none are of any use, spiritually, without the other five.
People don't have the options of choosing from multiple YOGAS at any gym I've ever been in. They may have the options of choosing from different schools of Bhakti yoga.
On to the puzzle: Picked up on the missing SECRET early on, got predictably hung up when I wasn't bright enough to put it where it belonged, so Baja CA was a bear. Aside from hating ILGWU, wishing I hadn't missread the clue for 30A as MidWest city and trying PEORIA, BISMARK,..., great puzzle.

fikink 8:32 AM  

Before today, I cannot tell you the last time I thought about Emerson, Lake & Palmer, much less thought of them as ELP. All I remember is the ubiquitous Moog synthesizer after Lucky Man came out.
Like @Rex, I initially only discovered the SECRET missing word and never did make it to Step 2.


@Rex, how are we going to pronounce ILGWU?

Zeke 8:33 AM  

Oh shit - I wrote that in the middle of the night when I was woken by a coughing fit. Thought I was smart enough to save it, and post later after I could re-read it. Never got back to sleep, and just now posted without editing.
The YOGA everyone talks about, does at the gym, is Hatha Yoga, not Bhakti.

Dough 8:35 AM  

@Rex, you really need to take a chill pill. This was a truly refreshing and wonderful puzzle. It gives us new entries, fugly and otherwise, to spark up the puzzle. I had no problem with LADMAG -- never heard of it, but it makes perfect sense, kinda like "Chick flick." The 66-Across gimmick worked perfectly for me. I put in AMO and then WORKAHOLI tipped me off to the missing 66-Across location; I switched to AMAS and smiled. This is what good, inventive puzzle construction looks like. Congrats to BEQ et al.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

Tough, tough and tough, but I liked the cluing and thought the theme was well, brilliant, even if I never picked up the second part since I hit the SW acrosses and never looked at the downs. It's nice to know where ORONO came from, and while I filled in ELO first, it didn't take too long to figure out it should be ELP. (Thanks, Rex for the Pictures video).

And ILGWU was GREAT. Who doesn't remember those TV commercials from the 70s (except those of you who weren't born yet or were too young to watch TV)-- Look for, the Union Label when you are buying a coat, dress or blouse. . .

Leslie 8:48 AM  

Holy cow, what an amazing puzzle. When I saw that it was by BEQ and Patrick Blindauer, I knew to fasten my seatbelt! Having SECRET sit outside the grid was so fiendishly clever--I can see that others have experienced this before, but I never have.

I got I-GWU, and was sitting there thinking "What other adjective will fit with "International blah-blah Garment Workers' Union?" The L was just a guess. Everyone has already mentioned the obvious challenges, but in addition, I also had problems with the sports answers--Paul ONEILL and NEALE Greasy--so that slowed me down even more.

But I don't mind being slowed to an absolute crawl by such an ingenious puzzle.

dk 8:50 AM  

Nice one lads.

Nothing to add, except the joke about the dog with a 4A who walked into a bar and shouted: I'm lookin for the man who shot my 1A!

With BEQ and Pat B. I expected a puzzle with both the profane and the sacred. Thus, I tried to fit assess into 4D and expected LADMAG, knowing Pat's contributions would pass the OATmeal test.

Got the theme but stalled on HISTORY as YOGAS and WORKAHOLI where deep inside the box I was working outside of. ICEPOP was another, I am not sure I like this one... but hey I don't make-em I just reintegrate them.

** (2 Stars) Just because I think YEWS are bushes not trees.

David L 8:59 AM  

Twigged to the SECRET trick early, but then took a while to figure out the SW -- I agree that the AMA(S) thing goes a little over the top in trickery.

But some ugly stuff -- YOGAS? XENONS? ILGWU? And I think EELER, STAS, and OHO are signs of desperation. Oughta to be a law against them.

Didn't mind LADMAG, though. Whatever its origins, it has some currency in the US.

And YEWS are certainly trees. I've seen them 40 to 50 ft high...

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Some YEWS are trees, some shrubs.

Van55 9:15 AM  

Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

Great puzzle that I am proud to have solved without resort to any outside aids.

SethG 9:16 AM  

I seriously considered TOGAS.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Loved the puzzle, and loved ELP
(yup, I certainly was pretty wasted...)

jesser 9:23 AM  

What Rex said about loving it. Not what Rex said about hating it.

I've never heard the phrase LADMAG, but as it appeared, I loved it, and it now enters my lexicon.

I caught the first part of the theme at ADMIRER and went back immediately to fill in ENTRANCE. I then abandoned my usual left-to-right/top-to-bottom filling pattern and sought out the other SECRET somethings, nailing all but HISTORY and FORMULAS without crosses.

The SW only confused me for a moment, because WORKAHOLIC just had to be right. And then I remembered last Saturday when I did a recent BEQ (Technological Breakthrough, I believe it was titled) that featured answers outside the grid. The C in WORKAHOLIC then solved Theme Part Deux for me and wrote in 66A.

I have so much love for this puzzle that I may toast it tonight with the good bourbon that I hide way the hell in the back of a top cabinet, where my bother-in-law (intentional spelling) won't happen upon it.

The Wow Factor is high today. Thank you, BEQ and PB for a terrific morning motivator. Makes me want to Carpe Diem (because what you seize is what you get!).

Stacate! (It has something to do with the rapid onset of indigestion assocaited with the aftermath of speed-eating) -- jesser

joho 9:27 AM  

My solving experience was almost identical to Rex'. Especially in the SW where I made all the same mistakes until, after what seemed forever, I saw the invisible SECRET under 63A. I have to agree that the cluing in that corner was brutal.

I also know Maxim as an magazine sold on newsstands here in America. England never entered my mind. That's why I didn't like LADMAG so much. But at least it's fresh and I learned something new.

In the end my admiration for this puzzle totally outweighed my frustration with it. It's truly AHHsome and a "two" de force by those devils, BEQ & Patrick B. (I know insert GROAN here.) Thanks, guys!

ArtLvr 9:35 AM  

'ELP! I had SECRET early on, and I WON in the end, but it was veddy veddy difficult to fill in the last twiddly bits! Whew... I'm LIMP. But thanks to BEQ and Blindauer for a beaut.


Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Criminie (sp)!!!
I went with "missing", not "secret", for the longest time. Missing Link, Missing Heir,(missing the point), and all that sort....Doh! Doh! Doh!
Love it when I'm done in by a "gotcha!"

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

Anyone else think the crossing of 51D and 62A was a Natick? A hall-of-fame inductee from 1969 (a coach, not a player) crossing a music group from the 70s? Gimme a break! When I had NEA_E for someone nicknamed "Greasy" I immediately plunked in "S" to make the first and last terms rhyme, as "greasy neasy". ESP, for a "supergroup" was no better and no worse than ELP. Overall, though, the puzzle was "superfun."

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

i think i used to call emerson, lake and palmer, ELP...but then i also used to call blood, sweat and tears, BS&T. i don't remember calling crosby, stills, nash, and young, CSNY though. I don't think ELP was ever "official" the way ELO was. FWIW, i was familiar enough with the name ELP that with TBSPS as the cross, i knew it was a misdirection clue. ELO is a monday/tuesday/maybe wednesday clue...ELP is more thursday-like.

as for the intentional misdirection, the very reason we all know "ORONO" is an automatic fill, is a good enough reason to leverage us toward something else. sometimes it's good to give us a little kick in the butt to keep us honest.

personally, this was a tale of two puzzles. the north half was like a tuesday, the bottom half was like a friday...i guess the average is a thursday. i breezed through the top half so quickly i thought sure i'd get it done before i finished my first cup of coffee. HA! was i wrong. two cups of coffee and a bowl of cereal later...

btw, uncle ARTHUR fits there too. so does uncle FESTER. neither work, btw.

one last thing...the word "SECRET" was not exactly "secret" but just hidden. there was no challenge to figure out the secret word...even the location wasn't secret. i knew the word was SECRET at the very beginning, and i wondered where the hell 66a was, but it was, turns out, where it should be...just hidden. for that reason the theme, though well thought out, left me just a little wanting.

my .02

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

DNF as I did not figure out I had to add SECRET as missing 66 across answer. Had WORKHORSE instead of WORKAHOLIC, AMO instead of AMAS, AS YET instead of AT REST, etc. Emerson Lake and Palmer was a real blast from the past; but I didn't remember them as ELP. Thanks to Steve J for the definition of a supergroup!

Entrap Vapor 9:48 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot, and actually rather appreciated ELP and LADMAG... felt good to have to stop and think for a second instead of going on autopilot for those usual ORONO-type fills. Sure, ELO went in, but then ... WAIT ... a minute ... doesn't work ... yeah, ELP was a "supergroup" and ELO wasn't ...! Thursday always has some weird stumbling blocks anyway, I think.

chefbea 9:50 AM  

What a great puzzle!!! For the longest time I thought the missing word was NO...No 66A No Santa, No Ballot.
But then the aha moment when Seine wouldn't fit.

Thanks for a great workout

Oh yes.. I love all my OXO gadgets

JayWalker 9:51 AM  

For those of you who finished and liked this puzzle - good on you! But for me? It made me feel like an ass - and I don't like that. It's not what I want to "feel like" while I'm drinking my coffee and doing my puzzle each morning. I feel like I was made a fool of on several levels and I won't accept that as "okay." It's not. This was a completely unenjoyable and ultimately maddening exercise in frustration and futility. Hated it.

donkos 9:52 AM  

Scientists can accelerate ions in a particle accelerator, often with the intention of smashing them into an atom to atomic structure.

I got the "secret" part of this puzzle pretty quickly and was able to fill out most of the clues after that. Have to admit, it took me a while to add 66A at the bottom,which left me with a 34A feeling.

Martin 9:53 AM  

To pile on the "yew misguided slut" thread: the oldest tree in Europe is a yew.

tomwp 9:54 AM  

I think ELP was an easier get than you think. Outside of the crossword world they're much more well-known/beloved than ELO. Nice to see an actual good band make a puzzle that isn't edited by Ben Tausig (thought it is written by his BFF, BEQ.)

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

I'm not always a fan of BEQ's puzzle I thought this one was a home run. Very clever and well executed.

My own experience was that I picked up that SECRET was in all the 66-across clues quickly but eventually stalled in the bottom left. I asked my wife if she knew any children's books with the word secret in them, she did, and I figured out the rest.

I think criticism of ELP and LADMAG is way off-base. I wouldn't even count ELP as misdirection (since ELO was not a supergroup). For several years, ELP were huge ... not only did they sell a ton of records, they had several hits, toured the world, and sold out stadiums. And I got LADMAG because (1) I'm pretty sure Brendan has used it before in his puzzles (2) I remember reading a slew of articles when FHM and Maxim got popular explaining they were an American version of the British "laddie mag" phenomenon.

archaeoprof 10:08 AM  

Sorry, but I cannot agree with the criticisms of this extraordinarily good puzzle. It's ALL about "thinking outside the box," ESPECIALLY the cluing.

It's got high culture (Cormac MCCARTHY, Rembrandt van RYN), low culture (uncle MILTIE, ENYA), sports (ONEILL, NEALE), pop culture (ALIENS, SNARFED), old stuff (ILGWU, ELP, ICEPOP) and new stuff (XENONS, OXO).

Plus it has WORKAHOLI(C) crossing ALKIE.

This is one seriously good puzzle.

Nancy in PA 10:19 AM  

I'm with @Frances--greasy neasy. ELP never crossed my mind, though I certainly lived through 70's music. Never knew the definition of "supergroup" as given here. Assumed it just meant "big hits." Aside from that tiny corner, all clues and answers right up my alley. Great Thursday.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

Enjoyed it a lot, kept thinking I would have to cheat, but never did. ELP and LadMag came easily, but was stumped on the bottom -- had MARTIN for the TV uncle (from 'My Favorite Martian') and AMO. Yet I wanted ALIENS... and when the fog lifted (and I realized the 2nd part of the "secret") it was a beautiful thing. Main complaint: had the OGAS part of 31D but could not conceive of Yoga in the plural. Overall, very fun and inventive puzzle.

Lanier 10:32 AM  

This puzzle is pure awesome!!! Rex summed it up nicely: some ugly fill was necessary to pull it off, but it was well worth it. Bravo!

Two Ponies 10:49 AM  

I am still grinning ear to ear over this one. Wow.
I know every note ELP recorded and they are still played frequently at my house. ELO may live on in xwords but they were no supergroup.
McCarthy made my day today like Zappa did yesterday.
No problem with lad mag in fact I think it's a cute phrase.
BEQ puzzles sometimes vex me but the addition of PB today made it a real home run.
I loved the clues that were tricky like GTOs.
I think @ archaeoprof said it best.
Bravo guys!

matt 10:57 AM  

I enjoyed this, even though I've heard of neither NEALE nor ELP. Seems like a long, obscure way to go to avoid the usual Zora _ Hurston. I had no problem with LADMAG since I was vaguely aware of Maxim originating in Britain. As for the SECRET theme, loved it, and was definitely aided by the fact that I solved on paper today, making 66A easier to visualize once I made my way down south.

Oh, and for some reason, I've only ever used the word SNARFED in regards to the act of a drink coming out of one's nose while laughing. But maybe that's just me? Ah, looks like M-W agrees with the puzzle, but Urban Dictionary agrees with me.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:59 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Kerfuffle 11:04 AM  

The very first commenter, @Harry, and later @tptsteve, both referred to the Union Label song, but neither posted a link to the video. Can you really hate the ILGWU after watching this?

My one write-over, no surprise, was ELO before ELP.

I finished with one letter wrong, at the cross of SNARFED and ONEILL,because I could believe OCIELL but could not and cannot believe SNARFED, which I have Never, Ever heard of. (Have to look it up.)

Beautiful, delicious puzzle!

JC66 11:11 AM  

Fantastic puzzle. Like some others, I agree with all the positive comments but not the negative ones. Great job, guys.

BTW, I'm more familiar with Greasy NEALE than Zora NEALE Hurston.

Then there's this.

JC66 11:12 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle

You beat me to the punch.

mexgirl 11:13 AM  

I wanted the exposé subject to be SECRET IDENTITY.... That really stumped me there, along with the unfinished SW corner.
Nevertheless, this was areally clever puzzle!; and I agree with the comment up there that said the top part was a Tuesday and the bottom part a Friday. Nicely put!

Jo 11:25 AM  

I liked the puzzle although it took me too long and I still had some empties, mainly in the NE. First, I had virtually nothing, until I got a handle in the NW. Too much I just did not know. Got LADMAG had no idea what it meant, do now. Got the theme while away from the puzzle and thinking about it, then SW gave the added word, because I knew the answer to 33 down had to be WORKAHOLIC as I am one.
ILGWU came very easily and I was happy to find a name that represents women in an otherwise very malestream crossword, as usual. Also, the label is still used.

Stan 11:29 AM  

I love being forced to think outside the grid. Feel like I have warded off Alzheimer's by at least a week or two. Thanks, Patrick and Brendan!

Tex 11:42 AM  

Sounds like a case of sour grapes for Rex.
How about some cheese to go with your whine.
Can you imagine the public tongue-lashing any of us would have to suffer if we complained like that?
C'mon, it was brilliant.
Am I missing something in the Lad Mag explanation?
If it is "exclusively" for North America what's the problem?
Last time I looked that's where we were. Maybe I'm missing a joke somewhere.

Kurt 11:43 AM  

What @jesser said. Times two. I loved everything about this puzzle. Even figured out ELP, although I didn't make the connection until Rex pointed it out.

Thanks Brendan & Patrick

Mr. Obvious 11:59 AM  

@Tex - Yes, you're missing a lot. The whole point in fact. Magazines such as Maxim are know exclusively as "Men's Magazines", i.e. not LADMAGs but Men's Magazines, in North America.
LADMAGs is exclusively a British term. We are in North America, where they are referred to as Men's Magazines. Hence the complaint that there was no British reference in the clue

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Headline of this puzzle: "Rembrandt Now Irish."
59D: RYN...?

It's Rijn. Rembrandt van Rijn.

@Rex: Surprised no mention, or chastisement for such a blatant contortion.

CaseAce 12:10 PM  

Tis rumored that Uncle Miltie, lived large, very VERY LARGE, and left specific instructions that he be laid to rest along side his genitalia!

Shamik 12:27 PM  

@JayWalker: No one can make you feel like an ass unless you choose to feel that way.

Saw a quote on FB that this was an awesome puzzle today. Felt really smug that I picked up on the SECRET so quickly and gave a delightful laugh when the SW offered its bonus twist.

Ok...not crazy about LADMAG and definitely didn't like ELP, but refused to give up on the TBSPS. If you went to BEQ's site, this one would probably be termed an easy one. How do I know? After several days of no puzzles, I whipped through Sun.-Wed. NYT in record or near record easy times and then chose BEQ's Monday puzzle for some humble pie. He always serves that up with elan! Off to finish that puzzle. Add P. Blindauer to the puzzle and you have a gem today.

Only pffft...the ear worm: "Look for the union label...if you are buying a coat, dress or blouse..."

Calling this one at 11:14.

Martin 12:35 PM  


The RYN alternate is used just to annoy people, and because no other language uses the letter "ij." It was discussed extensively last month.

fikink 12:44 PM  

Just framed my Cheap Thrills record sleeve yesterday (art by Robert Crumb) and, with this discussion, returned to the vinyl to see if I still had my ELP album. Sure enough, there it was right next to "Everything As Nice As Mother Makes It."
Life is good!

"finara" - female fig newton

Masked and Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Could not finish this puppy. No trouble visualizin' SECRET layin' in the weeds under the ALIENS, but man, that SE corner...

Is that **really** the best fill these Puz Masters could muster for the SE? I mean, these guys are great great constructors. And they come at me with ILGWU/OCEILL (I insist on the "C" there, BTW) and OCEILL/LADMAG/DENG? Wobbly. QED.

One measly "U"? And it's in ILGWobblyU? Dang. Hard times at the ThursPuz. Maybe there's a secret holding area in the grid for extra U's?

Really fresh, twisted, unique, clever theme, BTW. So what 44 said. Hot and cold.

Ooxteplernon 1:10 PM  

"Ilgwu" is the name of my pet kobold.

andrea exalt michaels 1:20 PM  

yay this column, off to catch a plane to ny so can't comment. did not get the bottom se and secret secret...just left AMO and the rest blank!
Kept seeing I was a letter short for WORKAHOLIC and DISINTER SEIN but just figured I messed up!
trembled when i saw the constructors name in good and bad way

Steve J 1:30 PM  

@Rex: Regarding your question about whether people in the US know Maxim was originally British: In my experience, it seems a fair amount do. My evidence is strictly anecdotal, but I'd suspect that it's on par with other somewhat obscure bits of knowledge that are required to solve more difficult late-week puzzles, such as science, biblical references, opera, lesser-known authors, etc.

And, at the time Maxim was released in the US, they made a point of noting that they were coming from the UK, playing up on the reputation of British men's magazines being racier than their US counterparts. Yeah, that was 15 years ago, but I'm confident in guessing I'm not the only one that marketing message stuck with.

All that said, I'm still absolutely in agreement that this should have been flagged as a British expression.

retired_chemist 1:35 PM  

Wow. The theme was apparent from 21A. I finished everything but the SW rather handily, then made the well-precedented error of forgetting that SECRET was 66A and was needed to complete the downs in the SW.

MILTIE was of course a geezer gimme, so AMO was locked in, and AS YET fit in 48D. Many iterations of the SW later I gave in and googled to make sure The Secret GARDEN was 1911. That locked 40A in for me. Since SOUSE @ 44A fit so poorly with GARDEN, it had to go. And so matters stood for a LOOOOONNNNNGGGG time. Thought there was a special 3-letter (_I_) kind of TILE @ 57D, and that I just didn't know my French rivers as well as I thought: none fit __I_ @ 54D.

Finally, the light dawned. AMO became AMAS, TILE appeared, and the mystery revealed itself. Finished error-free, since I was ready to believe ELP @ 62A and not TBSOS @ 52D.

All this took a Saturday time for a Thursday puzzle. It was worth it. My hat would be off to the constructors if I wore one.

redose - take a 52D again.

Anonymous 1:50 PM  

Interesting puzzle. Great theme and execution.

However, SNARFING is the uncontrollable act of fluid (milk, soda, beer) coming out of your nose while you're laughing at a joke. Sometimes even funnier than the joke that caused you to SNARF in the first place.

edmcan 2:11 PM  

Okay, okay, I finished it correctly,only because I knew the down had to be 'tablespoons' as dosage. Yes, I had to think and all, but I do agree completely with Rex.

Tinbeni 2:41 PM  

Caught the theme at ENTRANCE, and wrote SECRET where 66a "should be" so the the themes were easy.

ONE BY ONE, cross-by-cross, the rest slowly fell into place. In the end, I WON!

Didn't fall for ELO being a Super-Group. Nope, I was a big ELP fan from the git-go. (Does that make me a 1%er?)

Probably should have been enjoying some Avatar through my slog. Hmmm, maybe that thought process leads to being a 44a, ALKIE.
Oh, well! Cheers!!!

Yesterday we had a Tuesday level on Wednesday.
Today more of a Friday level on Thursday.
Can't wait to see what we get tomorrow.

Perplexed 2:52 PM  

@Zeke said...

There are six schools of YOGA: Raja (Meditation), Karma (Actions), Jnana (Knowledge), Bhakti (Love) and Hahta (Physical discipline).

... and a few minutes later ...

The YOGA everyone talks about, does at the gym, is Hatha Yoga, not Bhakti.


OK, so granted the original misspelling as part of your hangover, I still count only five. And the sixth is ___?

And why six anyway? From one source, "Dozens of yoga types are practiced worldwide..."


pauer 2:58 PM  

FWIW, one letter was changed in our submitted grid. Anyone care to guess which one?

JeffCO 2:58 PM  

Next time any of you are in Boulder, I invite you to check out a tasty sandwich at the very aptly named Snarf's!

Tony from Charm City 3:03 PM  

I saw "Wrath of Khan" before I ever saw or read "Moby-Dick", so I will probably always think Khan over AHAB.

As soon as I saw Quigley and Blindauer did the puzzle, I knew this was going to be a treat.

Zeke 3:09 PM  

a) I left out Prayer, I forget the name.
B) The "Dozens of yoga types" are all schools of Hatha Yoga, the physical discipline, one of which is Hatha Yoga.

My point was that Yoga was, originally, a spiritual discipline wherein one sought to understand god, the nature of the universe, whatever it was one was looking for. It is achieved through prayer, meditation, comporting oneself well, the seeking of knowledge and wisdom, love of ones fellows, and a physical discipline. One must follow all of these to attain the desired result. Reducing this understanding of Yoga to only one of its parts, and inverting the importance of the physical exercise with the spiritual goal within that one part, grossly misinterprets the original understanding of Yoga.

This is all from a long-ago phase of my 25 year quest to keep from putting a gun in my mouth, and I've forgotten most of it. Now, I simply try to be less of a DB than it is my nature to be.

PuzzleNut 3:21 PM  

Loved this puzzle!
Was misdirected all over the place, but at the end, everything was in place correctly. Had ELo for the longest time, even though I knew that TBSPS was correct. I grew up with Emerson, Lake and Palmer and still didn't understand ELP until I came here, but I can't disagree with it. LADMAG was iffy, but I got it (barely). Thought AHH should be spelled AaH, didn't like YOGAS at all and thought WOTAN was spelled WOTiN (obviously confused with ODIN).
Had ATONER, MILTIE and ALIENS in the SW and kept trying to figure which one was wrong (my guess was ALIENS) until I finally saw the SECRET.
Took me forever as my wife thoroughly messed up the grid and I decided to try it diagramless. That said, I enjoyed every moment and really got my money worth today.

Loki 3:29 PM  

WOTAN, Woden and Odin are all one and the same, just different believers (High German, Old English, Norse).

ShortShrift 3:36 PM  

A minor cavil, but don't think I've heard "Oho" to mean "What's all this?" Or is it "Oh, O"? or "o, ho"? Some texting abbreviation, perhaps? What am I missing?

sanfranman59 4:09 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Thu 20:48, 19:10, 1.09, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:41, 9:10, 1.16, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Clark 4:20 PM  

This is my favorite kind of puzzle!. I did everything except the SW. I had figured out that the theme answers followed the word SECRET, but I had not yet figured out what the reference to 66-Across meant. I should have dwelt on it a bit, but instead I just forgot about it. Philosopher-house-guest joined in to sort out the SW. We had the latin trio in mind, we wanted workaholic to fit but it didn't, the only river I knew in Paris was the Seine, we were spinning our wheels and then Philosopher-house-guest figure it out. Awesome.

Zeke 4:23 PM  

@Perplexed - I've come to join you. Seems there are only five, not six as I said. I think I broke out worship & love of man into two. I give up, though there is a salient point in there somewhere. Take your yoga classes, and if you come to some spiritual understanding of anything, or simply manage to calm your mind, more power to you. More than any of this did for me.

Martin 4:27 PM  


How about a hint.

Masked and Guessing Anonymous 4:28 PM  

@pauer... Guessin' games are kinda fun. Some possible places where a change would work:
Am I warm yet? Elsewise, sorry, think I'll need to send Igor down to the village for a bigger brain, if it's more complicated than that.

While I got your attention, what's the story with ILGWU? I know it's been used once before, but Yowch City, guys.

Masked and Anonymous 4:38 PM  

P.S. @pauer...Unless, of course, you pulled a BIL at 57-Down.

PIX 4:46 PM  

I spent most of my freshman year at SUNY Binghamtom listening to ELP's Tarkus album with friends...{often there was a strange smell in the air}...and drove to Buffalo to see them in concert...they were always called "ELP"...so very happy to seem them in a puzzle.

Puzzle was brilliant and it's this kind of creative thinking that makes Thursdays the most fun, at least for me.

D_Blackwell 4:51 PM  

"FWIW, one letter was changed in our submitted grid. Anyone care to guess which one?"

I wanted to dump YOGAS, but TAW / TIERS at 1A&D seems likeliest, except that the edit would be entirely arbitrary, so why would that be it?

D_Blackwell 4:54 PM  

R or T for the H in OHO / AHAB. Ff somebody was in love with OHO, I could see that.

Masked and Anonymous 4:58 PM  

@D_Blackwell...Brilliant! NO GAS and NEWS! That's it! You're my Igor! Alert the media!

Martin 5:02 PM  

"Common sign in 1973." What was the problem?

D_Blackwell 5:43 PM  

If BEGAT isn't too horrible, then:


Surprisingly, BBWS has never been in before, I like BLASE, TEAS is better than STAS, TEN and THY replace WEE and WHY. (SHY / SEN would work.) ASK IN for ALKIE. As a bonus, we get to mess with people's heads, 'cause now ELO is already in grid. {evil laugh)

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

LOVED this puzzle to the extent that I am showing to a bunch of noncrossword folks art work. Agree, ELO is not a supergroup and I penciled in ELP right away. LADMAG? Give me a break. I got the theme quickly via SECRET SANTA But it was not until I got to WORKAHOLIC that I realized you actually had to pencil it in. These are the kind of days I am thankful I do the oldfashioned hardcopy. Cheers Mike

pauer 6:01 PM  

It was in the lower-right.

Bala Cynwyd senior citizen 6:22 PM  


ArtLvr 6:32 PM  

Okay -- Des (Moines or Plaines) for RES?

I was thinking OAS and BAS (relief)


ArtLvr 6:34 PM  

"He eeled his way around the floor" from My Fair Lady?

Martin 6:36 PM  

"The Odessa File" director NEAME in exchange for ELP?

pauer 6:41 PM  

Hm - this is trickier than I thought.

It was a newish internet abbr.

Martin 6:50 PM  

RSS? On the theory two NEALs are better than one NEALE.

ArtLvr 6:51 PM  

And I was mistaken -- the song "You Did It!" has the line "He oiled his way around the floor"....


lingiset -- and match!

michael 6:55 PM  

Great puzzle! Except maybe for Elp. Good thing I knew Neale but can understand if there was a Natick for some.

But the gimmick was terrific-- the SW just didn't make sense for a while and then I had this great "aha".

Well, I forgot about "eeler." -- not so great.

Elizabeth 7:08 PM  

I was so sure of the answers in the southwest that I used the insert button to squeeze the last row in. And then I noticed that S-E-C-R-E-T was hanging over. Ta-da!

PlantieBea 7:09 PM  

Loved this creative and challenging puzzle. Congrats and thanks, BEQ and Patrick.

I actually saw ELP in concert in high school; they were super /

Two Ponies 7:13 PM  

Eeled and DSS?

Two Ponies 7:16 PM  

Doh! that would change two letters.
A plural of Neals would work but
I think I'm wrong.

Harry 7:45 PM  


Must be RSS ----> RES. I guess they're still pretty niche, but RSS feeds should make it into the puzzle at some point, though.

william e emba 7:50 PM  

This theme has been done before. NYT Saturday April Fools' 2006. A fantastic puzzle. If you haven't done it, save it, put it away, and come back to it two years from now when you forget why.

My time on this was only Medium-Difficult. The biggest delay was probably because I wrote IAGO instead of AHAB without thinking, so while I was unnecessarily hung up in the SW (wrong uncle!), I couldn't finish the center either to help. (I'm also very bad at guessing vowels in front of -AT.) Really, I know better. I had to claw myself through to finish, after repeating both WORKAHOLI(C) and DISINTE(R) over and over again, trying to jam them in somehow.

I have never read Maxim or the rest, but somewhere along the way I've known the British call it a LADMAG.

I never would have guessed ELP stood for something I've actually heard of, but we had NEALES a few weeks ago for some sports guy, so I just went with NEALE without thinking about it. Sometimes ignorance helps.

ILGWU was once very famous.

I first had Uncle Martin, though. I have actually met Uncle MILTIE. In his last years, he was once hired to do his shtick as part of the Purim entertainment for some large Jewish event, and I was assigned as his handler. Woo! I bet I was picked because I'm not just reliable, but very talented as a SECRET ADMIRER: I never ever engage in fan behavior in the least degree, nothing beyond politeness. (As in, I didn't even acknowledge that I or my parents actually knew of him.)

Ralph Kramden (kidding) 8:27 PM  

I thought amas was great. I also (being a fan of The Nice) thought ELP was great. To you, our host, Ed Norton would only say about your comments today: "Sheesh! What a grouch!"

pauer 8:54 PM  

RSS is correct!

Van55 9:00 PM  



Is that the short changing you experienced, PB?

Anonymous 9:07 PM  

I'm no expert on prog rock, but I was a teenager in the '70s and:

1) Emerson, Lake and Palmer were pretty darn big back then. Moreover ...

2) They were frequently known as just "ELP"... even amongst people who were not big fans of the group.

Anyway, the reference to the band as a clue for ELP definitely sucks far less than any references to Eliza Doolittle, IMHO.

Stan 9:07 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moonchild 9:20 PM  

@ Zeke, I don't know if you are still reading but I'm glad that yoga or whatever kept you from seeing the great unknown before your time.
Thanks for sharing that with us.

Fantastic puzzle!
I'm glad I'm in the pen & paper group because it was fun to write the "secret" word below my grid.

sanfranman59 10:09 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:33, 6:56, 1.09, 85%, Challenging
Tue 9:21, 8:49, 1.06, 71%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:40, 11:46, 0.82, 11%, Easy
Thu 21:08, 19:10, 1.10, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:10, 3:42, 1.13, 91%, Challenging
Tue 4:48, 4:31, 1.06, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 4:44, 5:47, 0.82, 11%, Easy
Thu 10:22, 9:10, 1.13, 75%, Medium-Challenging

David 10:54 PM  

Agree w/ everything Rex said---tripped onto the theme in the SW, got really happy and excited, then had to put away and come back to the SE it was so painful. I put in TBSPS early enough that I left it in to make ELP, but still ended up with two bad squares. At a loss with --EEB, put in plEEB, making LApMAG and ILGlU. Given that I hadn't ever heard of two of those answers, or the clue for the third, I was willing to just leave all three there. (Frankly, lapmag still sounds more plausible than ladmag---even that definition quoted in today's post only used "lad" in the plural!)

But theme was brilliantly done. Personally, I even liked the fake-out on AMo---since we always know that it's one of those three answers, I thought it was clever to lure us into AMo and then let the psuedo-rebus shoe fall as it all came together.

Oh, and add ORONO to my list of "what in God's name is this constructor trying to do to me" moments. Since "I win" is just as likely as "I won," that crossing was a personal Natick, or thereabouts.

I think I still respect it more than I resent it, but it was surprisingly rough going for sure.

CoolPapaD 11:08 PM  

Put me in the "totally loved it" camp! Imaginative, tough, and ELP, one of the most amazing supergroups of all time! Pictures at an Exhibition and Brain Salad Surgery are superb, must-have albums. Could not be more excited, despite a few wrong boxes in the SE. Thanks, gentlemen!

Happy Birthday, tptsteve!

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

re ELP


listen to BITCHES CRYSTAL and BATTLEFIELD and then tell me you still don't like E L P


Anonymous 11:50 PM  

Rex, this puzzle did require you to "think outside the box." It slightly rips off the April Fool's puzzle from a few years ago that asked the solver to write THINK outside of the grid.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

As usual it took me about 10 days to figure most of this out (a little time here and there) but a good bang for the buck on this - loved the Secret

wcutler 3:02 AM  

Thanks for being here. I never got the SW corner at all, except for Uncle Miltie, so never realized that I had to actually put the secret down there to make it work. Now that I read what was going on, I like it.

I remember ILGWU too. It was on a label on all the clothes back in the days when the labels didn't have to be made of some "permanent material". So you could read the label for a while and then it would eventually fade away. Nowadays, the labels are all done in some sturdy stuff that's so bothersome I have to cut them off right away, so I never do learn what they say.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

@Francis: I don't see it. NEALE is so much more common than any other NEA-E name that it's a toss-up between that and the rhyme.

The real natick is 43A and 26D since IWiN is actually better than the answer and ORONi works just as well. I understand that there's crosswordese, but it's junk like ORONO that should be the byword for ugly fill, not ILGWU.

@Steve, Rex: I dislike needless Britishisms as much as you guys, and sure, "lads" is restricted in American use to RenFests, but in BEQ's defense, it was flagged: they used Maxim as their example.

Rex may not have known it was British, but ... well, it is.

@Zeke: Sorry about your problems, but you're just talking about some other language's word for "devotion."

English "yoga" is always just going to be girls playing around on mats.

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

I didn't read all the comments, but I have two more gripes about this puzzle. Rembrandt van Ryn? Usual spelling is Rijn. And since when does "Oho" mean "What's all this?"

Unknown 4:56 PM  

I love the trickiness of theme, and I agree the cluing needed sharper editing. But, heaven help me: what does PAW have to do with the theme? According to the online version, it is connected, because when you click on a the starting square for a theme answer, those squares AND the ones for 1A, PAW, are highlighted: the website's usual way of telling you those answers go together. Can anyone explain how, or is it a programming glitch?

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