Unagi sources / THU 7-22-10 / Worshiping figure / Wooden-soled shoe / Positive thinking exponent / Nostalgists opening words

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Constructor: Jeremy Horwitz

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "3" — unnumbered center square has following Across/Down clues in puzzle note:

  • Across: Shortest title of any #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 [Britney Spears, 2009]
  • Down: Length of the eight runners-up to the Across answer, all of which are answers to starred clues in the this puzzle.
Puzzle contains eight 3-letter #1 Billboard Hot 100 hits

Word of the Day: KEDGES (15D: Small anchors) —
A light anchor used for warping a vessel. (answers.com)
• • •

With apologies to Mr. Horowitz and his perfectly good puzzle, I can't expend much energy on this one — I am in no condition. You'd *think* the main reason for my bowing out would be the fact that my daughter was in a camp-related van accident earlier today and had to have a head wound stapled shut. But no. That ended up being ... eventful, but, luckily, not at all serious. No. I'm in no condition to write this thing up because *on top of* the aforementioned accident, I sat down to a puzzle that was half doable and then half ... incomprehensible. Top half filled, bottom half ... a wasteland. Nothing falling into place. Mostly empty. I couldn't do Anything with it. 15, 20 minutes go by (I normally do Thursdays in 6-8), I start looking up answers (which I *never* do) ... and they Don't Fit. I then look up the 1972 Michael Jackson song and sure enough, as I thought, it's "BEN." So Why Does My Puzzle Say It's FIVE LETTERS LONG!? Well, after a bit of sleuthing, I find out it's because Black Ink (my solving software) absolutely butchered the .puz file. Whatever special coding the NYT had to do to make this puzzle work did not take with Black Ink. Here are some funny moments from my nonsensical version of this puzzle—
  • 40A: Unworthy of (BOWED TO)
  • 52A: Succumb to mind control (CLEOPATRA)
  • 39D: Greeted deferentially (HUBCAP)
And so on...

So then I went and solved directly on the NYT page (in the applet), and bam, everything numbered correctly, and all the answers I'd wanted So Bad (that wouldn't fit in my Bizarro puzzle) were right where they were supposed to be. Sigh. Anyway, I think (I *think*) the puzzle is kind of cute, but my analytical mojo is spent, so who knows?

Theme answers:
  • 5A: *Jackson 5, 1970 ("ABC")
  • 22A: *Usher feat. will.i.am, 2010 ("OMG")
  • 45A: *Michael Jackson, 1972 ("BEN")
  • 59A: *Frankie Avalon, 1959 ("WHY")
  • 12D: *Michael Jackson, 1987 ("BAD")
  • 32D: *Edwin Starr, 1970 ("WAR")
  • 34D: *Flo Rida feat. T-Pain, 2008 ("LOW")
  • 54D: *Rihanna, 2006 ("S.O.S.")

I guess I can do ...

  • 19A: Capital whose name is Urdu for "place of peace" (ISLAMABAD) — ah, this was part of the grid where the clues and answers still matched. Good times ... started out very fast on this one, getting all the first Downs off of YIPS and filling in the long Downs almost immediately thereafter.
  • 26A: "Harlequin's Carnival," for one (MIRÓ) — one of my favorite artists. Got this off the terminal "O."
  • 28A: Nostalgist's opening words ("TIME WAS ...") — about the last answer I got before the wheels came off. After I threw IRENE CARA down (29D: "Fame" actress), it was all over. Nothing worked.
  • 43D: Taft and Bush, collegiately (ELIS) — my puzzle had this in the 42D position and I confidently wrote in YALIES.
  • 51A: Earliest million-dollar movie role (CLEOPATRA) — my puzzle had this clue in the 50A position. Me: "C... C... CUJO?"
  • 55A: Gypsum variety used in carvings (ALABASTER) — Couldn't define "gypsum" or "alabaster" for you (though I know from poetry that the latter is white).
  • 3D: "Positive thinking" exponent (PEALE) — Norman Vincent, who wrote "The Power of Positive Thinking." Infamously anti-Catholic.
  • 5D: Longest book of the Book of Mormon (ALMA) — Longest? Who cares? At least give me a good reason for having to know this book. Longest. Pfft.
  • 38D: Outer covering for some nuts (HUBCAP) — great clue.
  • 30D: 1864 battle site that was the source of the quote "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" (MOBILE BAY) — not a place I'm familiar with. Got almost all of it from crosses.
  • 11D: Subject of the 1997 best seller "Into Thin Air" (MT. EVEREST) — well, it's a mountain ... luckily, I had MTE- in place, so that mountain in question wasn't too hard to come up with.
  • 49D: Word repeated before some relatives' names (GREAT) — another good clue. Sadly, in my screwed-up version, the answer was also five letters, and so I wrote in GREAT, which just kept me confused even longer. "Some of these answers fit ... What's Wrong With This Puzzle!?" Seriously, it was maddening. I wonder if anyone else out there actually solves in Black Ink, and if so ... what happened to you?
  • 24D: Like the first of May of the end of June? (NASAL) — didn't like this trick only because of "first of May," which really should have been "beginning of May." "First" implies the letter "M" (not the NASAL consonant sound) and doesn't parallel "end of" well at all (esp. considering "June"'s last letter is "e," and asking us to imagine that a one-syllable word has a discrete "end" —here, the NASAL consonant sound of "N"— that is not letter-related is slightly irksome); there's such a thing as getting carried away with your trickiness. Elegance and consistency above everything else.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


jae 12:52 AM  

Glad your daughter is OK. I still worry about mine and she is your age.

Medium for me too. Didn't read the note pad at first so I'm left with the center square and no ideas. I broke down and read the pad and "3" was the only logical answer. Biggest misstep for me was MAMET for LUMET. It took a while to fix. Must remember not to confuse my "METS."

andrea ;) michaels 12:58 AM  

Jeremy had that fabulous puzzle with all the movie directors of M, Z, etc. so he definitely has a style and I love it!!!!

I love that he notices things like the shortest titles...so it must be another record Michael Jackson holds...hits with short titles, the anti- Fiona Apple.

Jeremy is the cool constructor who teaches with Byron Walden and perofrmed the wedding on that IDOIDOIDOIDO puzzle day.

Loved the idea...and altho the theme answers (by definition) were sort short short, he had those incredible 4 stacks of 3 nines...

So it's too bad Rex's puzzle got all fersplungeoned, bec this wonderful puzzle sort of got shortshrift in terms of Rex's usual eagle eye and wit.

That said...thoughts and thankgods that the accident wasn't more severe.

andrea booboos michaels 12:59 AM  

oy with the typos, sorry. exhausted after a week in nyc combined with rex withdrawl

PurpleGuy 1:06 AM  

Wow, Rex, I hope your daughter is OK. Sahra is such an integral part of this blog, from all the pictures and stories you've shared. My prayers are with her and both of you for a speedy recovery.

I printed the puzzle from Across Lite, so there was no number problem. There was even a notepad with clues for the middle square.
This seemed like an easy Thursday for me, and went down fairly easily.
Between many YIPS, tried to be MELLOW so the YENTA next door would not hear me enter at ONEO'CLOCK. I was forced to descend MTEVEREST because DEBORAH was in a SNIT over IRENECARA, and I was forced to become ORANT and made to REEXAMINE theEMOTICONS in the ATTIC of my brain.

Oh, the puzzle was fun, and relatively easy. It is SOHOT here in Phoenix, I'd like some cold GUACAMOLE with chips right now.

Agree with @Rex about the book of Mormon. Who gives a rat's ass. If you SAYSO.

OK. Enough babbling.
Happy Thursday ALL.
Hope everyone else has a SOLIDER solving experience than @Rex and I did.

perliers - the tool for removing the gem from

chefwen 1:38 AM  

I had to have a gash stapled in my head about a month ago, tell darling daughter that the removal of said hardware does not hurt, that was something I was fearful of, but she is probably more brave than I.

Puzzle was pretty easy, wasn't crazy about the theme, I like a little more spice in Thursday puzzle. My only write over was CRUMB over trace at 8A.

Into thin air was one gripping book, literally had to keep taking deep breaths while reading it, I cannot imaging how difficult it is to breath at that altitude. I thought I would pass out just going to the top of Piz Gloria. GASP!

foodie 1:55 AM  

Rex, I'm sorry to hear about your daughter's accident, and so happy that it's minor. When he was little, my son had a bunch of those that required some stiches- running into a brick wall (literally), playing ball, learning how to ski (blood dripping on the snow was quite dramatic!). After one of those events, the ER doctor asked him if he's had a lot of accidents and he said proudly: "Yes, lots of head injuries!" Oy! We had to endure a long cross-examination about it all-- They finally went back and spoke with him and realized that we were not torturing him, and that he was rather proud of his adventures. Like Jae, mine still scare me... As long as they're safe, life is good.

I think it took special thoughtfulness on your part not to let this accident in combination with the frustration of the solving experience determine your judgment. You put the information out there for us to know about and essentially recused yourself from judging. I hope that those people who ask whether you got up on the wrong side of the bed when you don't like a puzzle will remember the way you handled this.

It was interesting to hear Andrea's very positive perspective on this puzzle. When I finished, I did not know what to think. It's certainly different. I didn't help that I couldn't think of most of those short theme answers (although OMG was a gimme) and mostly got them through crosses.

But I loved CLEOPATRA on top of ALABASTER, and it was great to see EMOTICON and GUACAMOLE. And the fact that the only 3 letter answers are part of the theme is truly remarkable. So, the more I think about it, the more I appreciate the puzzle. See, I'm educable : )

Off to celebrate my father in law's 90th birthday tomorrow. New Orleans will probably be TOO HOT.

Opus2 2:32 AM  

iPhone version also didn't work. Clues didn't appear in notepad AND when I solved it finally, it doesn't recognize it as complete.

Unknown 2:36 AM  

Best wishes to your daughter for a quick and full recovery. I'm sorry to hear about the accident. I hope you and the missus can de-stress as well.

submariner 3:21 AM  

Got the answer to the May and June clue from crosses, but too cute for me. I can't connect the clue and the answer.

r.alphbunker 7:36 AM  

Glad your daughter is okay. She looked like such a happy camper in the picture your posted a while back.

My brain just couldn't put the 3 in the middle square (nor could my iPhone). There was just one too many boundaries to break. I understand that occasionally digits appear in crossword puzzle answers. OK. But weakened from that concession, I was unable to come to the final realization that a song title could be a digit.

JenCT 7:42 AM  

@Rex - hope your daughter's okay.

Got the top half of the puzzle, plus a few more, but the South just killed me - DNF.

Had SWAT for SHAG, WHY for BEN, thought the Fame actress was IRENE CARTER, so thought it might be a rebus...bah.

JayWalker 7:54 AM  

Sending lots of positive energy your way -- for you and your daughter.
The puzzle? Well . . . I always do it with a pencil on the newsprint so I don't have all those stupid problems. I just have "stupid" problems. I trust I make myself obscure. The puz "seemed" obscure all the way through, but oddly enough, it all fell into place rather easily. Except, of course, for the hated "nasal" - STILL makes no sense to me, even tho I got it. I like misdirection but this was overly cute.

Noam D. Elkies 8:17 AM  

Well this looks like one Thursday I'm glad I missed (by spending the week in Germany). The conceit is appropriate for a Thursday, and the grid does boast four 3*9 stacks, but still there are only 24 or 25 theme squares, and the theme is just a bunch of Billboard hits going back as far as 1959 that are distinguished only by having really short titles. WHY indeed — that F.Avalon tune does sound more interesting than the generic boom-boom that floods the airwaves these days, but still... 50 years makes about 2500 weeks of #1 hits. I imagine that, even with some songs topping this hit parade for weeks on end, there must have been many hundreds since 1959 (Wikipedia lists 24 different songs for 1985 alone). Do people really know enough of these that
ABC/OMG/BEN/WHY/BAD/WAR/LOW/SOS/3 makes a satisfying theme? I sure don't, and don't care to. BOO.


P.S. Glad to see that "van accident" plus "head wound" plus "staple" added up to something not nearly as horrible as the ingredients suggested!

David L 8:20 AM  

I feared this was going to be impossible, since I didn't know anything about many of the artists cited, but it ended up being strangely easy -- except for the guess at OMG/KEDGES, which seemed pretty plausible.

As for NASAL -- the 'm' and 'n' sounds are classified as nasal consonants. A bit esoteric, I think.

Van55 8:22 AM  


Ranger John Smith 8:23 AM  

Yogi, BooBoo. Where's Cindy ?

Joe 8:54 AM  

I solve with Across Lite and noticed that once I finished I got the Mr. Happy Pencil, which means that it came already Unlocked. You usually have to wait a day. Not a big deal, but with Rex's Black Ink tragedy in mind, is it a relevant tech episode?

Unknown 8:55 AM  

Glad to hear your daughter is alright Rex. Growing pains.

Really a fast Thursday solve from my usual time. Never would have gotten 22A or 34d without the crosses.

Even with David L's explanation, I'm with everyone else. Didn't like NASAL at all. Otherwise, a pretty good puzzle, if not a tad easy for Thursday.

Hey @submariner. Just curious. What boat- what years?
Me-USS.COBBLER- SS344- 66-70
Rate- EM2(SS)

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

Glad your daughter will be ok.
First Thursday in a while I had a DNF, which was not a #1 hit.

I had written in PYT for 12D, which made the entire NE unsolvable- I remember now that PYT was on Thriller, which was earlier in the 80s.
But 33A took the take- SOLIDER, is that even a word?? If it is, it should be relegated to crossword hell.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Whoops- should've typed "took the cake." I forgot to reexamine my comment

dk 9:16 AM  

@rex, glad all is well.

@foodie, imagine being a forensic psychologist whose job it is to help adjudicate child abusers, taking your kid to the ER with a twist fracture of the femur explaining he slipped on a wet floor. Needless to say child protective services had a field day at my expense, they even got a judge to issue an order that I had to read my son stories for at least one hour every night.

The puzzle:

No idea of the B. Spears hit so I filled in I. Got all the other theme fills except OMG, fortunately I know KEDGES.

HUBCAP was my LOL moment as I had strained my botany memory banks for 3-4 minutes.

*** (3 Stars) Thanks Jeremy!

Welcome back Andrea.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

I didn't see the notepad explanation of the center square, so I basically stared at my almost finished puzzle with a wtf thing going on...came here for enlightenment. I thought the clocks roll back (or forward as the case may be) at two oclock. Loved the naval quote. Also loved yogi and booboo in the same grid.

OISK 9:21 AM  

If you have to look something up, then you are admitting failure. I could not finish this one. Hated it. "Nasal" is too contrived, and I do not follow pop music at all, so had no shot at any of the three letter clues. Never heard of the "Fame Actress" either, nor Gospel singer "Winans." When there is this much pop culture, it just is no fun for this 64 year old. First Thursday I have failed to complete in about a year. Last previous failure was the "Gaydar" puzzle.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  


John V 9:27 AM  

Well, this was interesting. Finished in abt 20 mins on the train, which is good for me. Got the theme largely with fills, which is good, given my pop-culture blank mind. Only error, oddly enough, was 28D/38A, had "Z", not "D". Do not understand 28D clue answer. Anyone?

SethG 9:34 AM  

Remembered (or in some cases had heard of) few of the songs, so the theme did nothing for me. But the stacks of 9? There was some really nice stuff in there.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

@Joe: yep, my puzzle was unlocked from the git-go too. i knew it was correct before coming here...when i usually come here to find out if it's correct.

speaking of sexist, for some reason i wanted 37A to be a man. silly me.

i just had a hunch that the great fire in rome would not include an "M" or a "D"...but i have (had) no idea when it occurred.

favorite clue: 31D, (They often begin with colons, EMOTICONS) :)

@rex, his daughter and everybody else out there: stay safe.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

oops, not Joe, but Jae. :P

chefbea 9:38 AM  

There was no note pad with my puzzle that I download in Acrosslite. What exactly did the note pad say.?? And what's with Britney Spears?? No clue in my puzzle about her. All in all I did not understand the puzzle.

I thought daylight savings time ends at 1:59

Solider..is that a word

Loved lofty story

@Rex hope your daughter continues to do well

CaseAce 9:46 AM  

"How are things in GUACAMOLE?"
"Has it DEBORAHcur to you?" Just like ye olde crayola on the ALABASTER.
As for SHAG-ging CLEO, ORANT Julius and Marc can fill your ear.
Underall, this was one of the more SOLIDER entries of late!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:48 AM  

@John V -- 28 D, Kids = little boys = TADS (originally short for tadpoles?)

For this 64-year-old, who knows very little pop culture, today's puzzle was a reversal of my usual reliance on short answers to get long answers, as others have noted.

Agree that SOLIDER was hard to swallow, but overall loved the puzzle too much to complain.

When I first read the clue for 36 D (paper edition), I had visions of some sort of super BEQ/Matt Gaffney puzzle where the "runners-up" were songs which had been the artists' releases previous to those named in the puzzle. Breathed a sigh of frelief when I understood the much simpler meaning.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:53 AM  

Merriam-Webster says TAD and tadpole both derive from a word for Toad!

frelief: simple typo or Freudian slip? (With my fat fingers, just a typo.)

jesser 9:56 AM  

@ Rex: Good thoughts for a speedy recovery are zinging their way from New Mexico.

The puzzle was fun. The SW took the longest time to untangle because I had ManILa BAY for far too long. I need to brush up on my Naval battles.

Long day. Short comments. Fun puzzle.

Chshfu! (no idea) -- jesser

ArtLvr 9:59 AM  

Memorable puzzle in that the 3-letter answers, rather than being early aids to solving, were all the unknowns -- last to fall! I got it, but obviously the subject matter wasn't exactly my cup of tea...

Very glad to hear that Rex's daughter wasn't badly hurt, and that all will be well.

@ foodie's experience as a suspected child abuser, however fleeting, rang a bell -- There I was, me, president of the elementary school's PTA that year, being asked in weird roundabout fashion about minor scratches on my son's arms. I finally GRASPED the drift and nearly threw up. I told the interrogator she might have tried asking the boy himself -- she'd have quickly learned about his new puppy! Egads.


Father Time 10:00 AM  


"... when DST ends, you turn your clock back, and it's now 1am.


ArtLvr 10:07 AM  

p.s. just read about @dk's ordeal -- field day, indeed. I expect they were trying to cook up sauce for the goose, etc.

p.p.s. i knew KEDGES, but what does "warping a vessel" mean? That's a new one on me!


chefbea 10:16 AM  

@bob kerfuffle what 36D not in my puzzle

x 10:24 AM  

Can’t remember a NYT crossword puzzle with a hindu-arabic numeral answer. Silly me, I thought letters were exclusively those little symbols you find in the alphabet.

Number of those commenting here (so far) that that seems to have bothered (one letter): 0.

P.S.: Amount that that staple removal will hurt (one letter): 0.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:25 AM  

@chefbea -- Sorry. In the paper version, the "unnumbered center square" which Rex refers to at the beginning of his blog is numbered as 36 and has both across and down clues - again, the same ones Rex quotes.

Two Ponies 10:25 AM  

Head injuries can be scary.
Hope your day improves and your little girl recovers well and soon.

I glanced at the clues of my dead tree puzzle and when I saw the pop music, proper names, two religeous texts, and Roman numerals I just tossed it aside. Zero interest on my part.
Edwin Starr? No clue.
Flo Rida T-Pain? WTF?

I can go a day without my puzzle.

All of these child abuse accusations make me glad I have only four-legged children.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:32 AM  

@R Bloyce -- This puzzle is just a small sample of the use of non-letters in the grid. (Warning - this is a solved grid.)

Deb Amlen 10:35 AM  

Oy, hope your daughter is OK. A speedy recovery to her. And you and Mrs. Rex. Sometimes it's worse for the parents than it is for the kids.

Deb Amlen 10:35 AM  

Oy, hope your daughter is OK. A speedy recovery to her. And you and Mrs. Rex. Sometimes it's worse for the parents than it is for the kids.

mac 10:45 AM  

I liked this puzzle, done in the NYT for the first time in two weeks, a lot, and it was quick and easy. Knew a couple of the titles, the rest fell into place. Interesting, thought Alabaster was a marble, but I guess it is softer.

Did not like solider, and have a totally different understanding of "shag".

@Rex: glad your daughter is ok. My father would buy me a book of my choice every time something traumatic happened, or when he wanted to bribe me to have my hair cut.

Good to be back.

DBGeezer 10:51 AM  

@rex, your comment about Norman Vincent Peale reminded me of the old joke:
What is the difference between Norman Vincent Peale and St. Paul?
Paul is appealing, and Peale is appalling.

Rex Parker 10:56 AM  


I think that joke belongs to Adlai Stevenson (AES!), whom PEALE vehemently opposed bec. AES was (gasp) divorced.


JC66 11:17 AM  


Accidents can be tough to deal with, but kids are very resilient. Glad everyone's doing well. My thoughts are with you.

Tinbeni 12:14 PM  

Rex, best wishes on your daughter's recovery.

3 - Dale Earnhardt's number.
Number of snifters I'll have at sunset.
And the lenght of the 8 starred theme songs.

Apparently it is also a B.Spears song. I think I'll pass on trying to find/listen to it.

WOD, KEDGES, another nautucal learning moment.


Mel Ott 12:21 PM  

You KEDGE a vessel by repeatedly throwing out an anchor and hauling in the line to move the boat. Very inefficient, but sometimes the only way to move a boat that is dead in the water. Warping apparrently means to move a boat by hauling on a line, and kedging would be a special case of warping. I think.

Masked and Anonymous 12:39 PM  

@44: Sorry to hear about your daughter's accident. Always scary. Sure am glad she's okay and on the mend. Hope your head's okay, too, after runnin' into the bent grid from hell.

Puz put up some fight here, even in the un-bent world of across-lite. Stacked nines are always a crowd pleaser and a M&A mystifier.

Knew I'd probably like this puz a lot, when I saw that weirdo isolated square just sittin' there eyeballin' us. Mucho differento. Piques yer interest. And theme was about pop tunes; even better. Thumbs up. Coulda used a couple more U's, but did have 3, which kinda tied into the theme thataway. Fun stuff.

Way off the forest preserve a bit: went and saw "Inception" at the local bijou yesterday. What a ride. In the spirit of the movie, had a short nap about halfway thru; but *my* dreams are always about showin' up late for math tests. Not as film-worthy: no shootin'. Fortunately, woke up before they got on the plane and the game was a-foot. What do yah think at the end? I say the top drops. Discuss.

jae 12:46 PM  

I meant to add last night that I thought this was clever and enjoyable. I just wish 54d had been clued via ABBA. It would have given the boomer generation more of a chance. The only thing I know about Rihanna is that her jerk of an ex boyfriend beat her up, speaking of abuse.

Doc John 12:56 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doc John 12:58 PM  

Glad your daughter is OK, Rex.

As for the puzzle, I had all the clues in the right place but still found the puzzle to be on the hard side. Plus, I refuse to learn the books of a corporate-like entity that preaches and actively pursues that taking my rights away will help its followers get into heaven. 'nuff said.

Leftover Rant from Yesterday 1:02 PM  

See what I was getting at yesterday? As @Mel just said, you simply stand in the boat pull on a F***ing rope (I know, there is only one rope on a boat, the bell rope, all the others are lines, but you really didn't care, did you?). You'll notice he didn't say pull on the INHAUL. Becaues you're standing in the boat and pulling, which is all you can do with a rope on a boat.

Shamik 1:08 PM  

Head wounds can be very bloody. Glad your daughter is ok, Rex. You never stop worrying. Our 25-year-old lost a fight with an Xacto knife this weekend along with the tip of a finger. And we're 3000 miles away. :-(

While I knew a little more than half the songs and my Notepad worked on my version, I thought this puzzle uber-easy at 6:40 for me on a Thursday...until my arrival showed 3...yes, the dreaded numeral...wrong squares. :-( again

Mel Ott 1:10 PM  

INHAUL is not part of my vocabulary.

Two Ponies 1:14 PM  

@ Doc John,
To you I say "Amen!"
with tongue firmly in cheek.

Zeke 1:30 PM  

KEDGE reminds me of a family vacation of 40+ years ago to Nova Scotia. All the lobstermen had these homemade anchors, a slab of rock wedged between an upright Y branch, the branch embedded orthoginally to another piece of wood. One or the other of my parents were quite taken with them, finally asked what they were called ( a KEDGE ) and persuaded a lobsterman to part with his, I'm sure at an unreasonable price. We schlepped that mostrosity for thousands of miles, and it was displayed prominately in front of our house. Whenever someone would come over and ask what the hell that was, they were treated to a long story about the KEDGE, how it was a Scottish traditional construct, dating back millenia, blah blah blah. One person finally said "You know, KEDGE just means anchor, right? That you bought an anchor? You asked the guy what it was and he told you it was an anchor."

Rube 2:22 PM  

Like @OISK, there was just too much pop culture here for me. Like @JenCT, did get the top half, (actually found the NW quite easy), but the SW killed me. Didn't know SOS, CECE, SABOT, ORANT, and IRENECARA in the SW. Hard to do a xword with that big of a patch empty. Had to Google, so, DNF

Did get a chuckle out of the clue for HUBCAP. In fact, that was the highlight of this puzzle. Wait, the clue for YENTA was good too.

I was thinking earlier in the week that there hasn't been much pop culture lately. This puzzle caught up. So many pinks means I did not like.


Rube 2:32 PM  

I forgot to mention that I told the wife about MONDEGREEN. About an hour later she informed me that she had just run into a very famous one.

In The 12 days of Christmas, the 4 birds that were given, or sent, are usually called "Calling Birds". Apparently they were originally "Calle Birds", or "Cally Birds", another name for a blackbird. The Mondegreen is so prevalent today that it's hard to find the original lyrics on Google.

fergus 2:44 PM  

Yeah the NASAL Clue was a real dud. A complete Natick at square 51.

And much suspicion about CRUMB for Soupcon. Yes, the dictionary includes "a small amount" but I have always associated the word with slight degrees of feeling or sensation. If the better French speakers can assert that a soupcon can also mean a little morsel of something tangible, then I would be happy to withdraw my skepticism.

edmcan 2:50 PM  

Rex-my best to your family and daughter

I made this puzzle much harder that it was-nuts. I completed it without cheating, but kicked myself for looking for things that weren't there. 'Solider' is disgusting.

Rube 3:04 PM  

I meant to write Colle or Colly Birds. Curses.

fergus 3:08 PM  

Found in a French dictionary that a Soupcon can also refer to something physical, so I withdraw. Combining pedantry with ignorance is not the sort of speciality I care to profess.

thewertle 3:25 PM  

I did this one on Magmic's NYT crossword app for iPod/iPhone. they didn't butcher it as bad as Black Ink but there were definitely problems. For starters, the notepad didn't show up right. It said (see notepad)->"the answer to the center square can be solved using the following 2 clues:" but didn't give the clues at all.

I was also a little annoyed that "3" had to be spelled out "three" with rebus. even though I've definitely done other puzzles on the app where numbers were used and spelling them out wouldn't register as correct. That's a trivial concern though.

thewertle 3:44 PM  

Immediately after I made the above comment, I checked my app and they'd sent out a message explaining and apologizes for both of those issues. So, uh, sorry for being upset at you Magmic...

joho 5:17 PM  

So late here to day to comment on this marvelous puzzle ... I rate it a 3 X 3. My cable was down most of the day making it impossible to work and to get here. Guess which one bothered me more?

Anyway, I loved the theme, the innovation and the stacks of 9 (3 x 3!).

Kudos to you, Jeremy Horwitz!

And to Rex, Sandy and your lovely daughter, Sahra (I hope I'm spelling that right) thank God!

william e emba 6:36 PM  

WOW. I did this in the paper, found it Medium-Easy, perhaps because there were no cluing screwups. The middle square was explicitly numbered 36. Clued as 36A, I guessed I, thinking Ridiculously Not Fair, but what else could it be? Then I found the 36D "cross", and I got it. That I love! (Heck, it was my only writeover!)

Somewhere there has been published a 1x1 cryptic, with four remarkable clues for, well, I won't say.

Of the hits in question, I have heard ABC and heard of BAD. The others were complete blanks, although eminently guessable in most cases. I like how there are no other 3 letter words in the grid!

I got NASAL off the N. The clue was of the standard cryptic gag form to rely on whenever the clue makes no sense.

I wish to say I remembered the C in IRENE CARA off of my years of crossword experience, but I did not. But when staring at the cross -ECE, C popped out, and then I did recognize CARA.

I think some of the software out there is "smart", numbering automatically and the like. So long as the puzzle follows the standard rules, everything works OK.

foodie 6:38 PM  

@fergus, I think your instincts about "soupçon" are correct. The word comes from the same origin as "suspicion" so it definitely started off having a connotation of thought or feeling. It then migrated to mean a whiff or a tiny amount, essentially something so subtle that you barely suspect it's there. So, in a recipe, you might add a soupçon of a spice.

To me, it was not a good clue for crumb. Because while it can connote a tiny amount of a physical object (e.g. the spice) it's not a visible presence, like a crumb-- and a crumb does not have the connotation of a hint... Nope... not the same.

Aren't you glad you asked?

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

I always remember sabot as the source of the word sabotage…..from wikipedia:

** That it derives from the Netherlands in the 15th century when workers would throw their sabots (wooden shoes) into the wooden gears of the textile looms to break the cogs, feeling the automated machines would render the human workers obsolete.

**That it derives from the French sabot (a wooden shoe or clog) via its derivative saboter (to knock with the foot, or work carelessly).

**That it derives from the late 19th-century French slang use of the word sabot to describe an unskilled worker, so called due to their wooden clogs or sabots; sabotage was used to describe the poor quality work which such workers turned out.

fergus 8:47 PM  

Foodie - thank you for providing an analysis of the term in the way I prefer. A soupcon, might crudely be attached to a tiny bit of something, but in my mind it's always the hint, the tease, the vague suspicion or the sensual vague presence of something. Dare I say again, it was a crummy Clue-ANSWER combination.

Your finesse with language would only surprise me if you became hard-core about an allowable dissolution of the meaning of terms. I don't see you battling for precision; yet carefully gauging usage and grammar in any of your mother tongues.

For me, Soupcon is never going to be a CRUMB, but since it's nicely cedillae'd in the NYT puzzle, I'll accept its alternative interpretation.

PIX 8:53 PM  

A theme that is entirely pop songs with three letter titles is simply boring...very disappointing for a Thursday...

Stan 11:11 PM  

Briefly, thumbs up on the theme and the puzzle.

Best wishes to Rex and family, and happy that it was very minor.

Gopman 6:41 AM  

Did anyone else notice the significance of the shape? I thought it was really clever, tied the puzzle together, and made it work for me.


kb 3:04 PM  

SOLIDER is not a word!!!
Something could be MORE SOLID, but not SOLIDER. When they put in made up words, that's just taking it over the edge. Boo to SOLIDER.

wcutler 2:14 AM  

@chefbea and anonymous, re: time it is when daylight saving time ends - after you set the clock back at two o'clock, then it's one o'clock. I thought that was cute.

Penny 4:30 AM  

to rex: glad your daughter is OK. Hope she enjoys the admiring looks from her peers..for some reason, children reap much kudos from their battle scars, which helps to distract them from any discomfort.
I use the six week delayed version in our local paper (Calgary Herald, Alberta) and find it very frustrating to read that,in this case, italised clues have significance. Only problem: no italics. This, and similar instances, are a common occurrence.
I always have problems when the answer is "shag", as this is considered rather more than a naughty word in the UK, to the point that the movie "The Spy who Shagged Me" was in lights above some cinemas as "The Spy who ***** Me". I am sure that the same thing happens in the opposite direction over the ocean - one example being "knock me up in the morning" - and would love to find some more. Anyone know of any publication with this info?
I did manage to finish this puzzle without too much trouble, but my "fast" is turtle speed for everyone else. However, as long as I can use my legally blind sight to figure out the answers letter by letter, I will continue to be one very happy camper when I come in under one hour.

jpChris 1:49 PM  

Is it just me, or did anyone else sit there scratching their heads with "14D: Wheels inside a car"?

A CAM is not a wheel but a shaft with lobes on it; neither of which is wheel.

A WHEEL in a car is a CEO.

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