Elemento número 79 / THU 7-5-12 / 1985 N.L. M.V.P. Willie / Like some observant Brooklynites / Poet Teasdale / Toyota model beginning in 1984 / Red Roof Inn competitor / Asian nurse / Hide's partner

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: DEAL WITH IT [edit: or Medium-Challenging if you're anon]

THEME: SHIFT KEY (68A: Something that's pressed, which helps explain this puzzle's theme) — The Down answers include the numerals 2 through 6, and the respective Across answers use the symbols that you get when you hold down the SHIFT KEY while typing the numbers on a keyboard

Word of the Day: OSSObuco (31D: ___ buco) —
Ossobuco (pronounced [ˌɔsːoˈbuːko]) is a Milanese specialty of cross-cut veal shanks braised with vegetables, white wine and broth. It is often garnished with gremolata and traditionally served with risotto alla milanese.
There are two types of ossobuco: a modern version that has tomatoes and the original version which does not. The older version, ossobuco in bianco, is flavored with cinnamon, bay leaf and gremolata. The modern and more popular recipe includes tomatoes, carrots, celery and onions. Gremolata is optional. (wikipedia)
• • •
Hello again! =0

Marvin here, filling in for Rex while he's on the other side of the world, in New Zealand.  (Isn't that where they filmed that movie with ENTS?)

I know Thursday is when the dirty tricks come out, but today's puzzle felt more like a barrel of Thursday jungle juice, with numerals, symbols, squares that read differently Across and Down, and a slew of tricky tricky clues everywhere else.

Though it was quickly apparent some kind of rebus was involved, the dual nature of the squares kept me from figuring out the theme's schtick until I'd gotten around half of the grid filled.  (In particular, the E section got me barking up the wrong tree, thinking 5 AGES had something to do with the classical Ages of Man.)

Theme answers:
  • 2PAC (6D: Big name in 35-Across [RAP MUSIC])
  • 3DTV (11D: Reason to wear glasses at home?)
  • 4RUNNER (26D: Toyota model beginning in 1984)
  • MAROON 5 (28D: Band with the 2004 hit "She Will Be Loved")
  • MOTEL 6 (44D: Red Roof Inn competitor)
  • SASQU@CH / SASQU[AT]CH (1A: Mysterious figure)
  • EX#ING / EX[POUND]ING (9A: Stating in detail, with "on")
  • SAND$ / SAND [DOLLAR] (22A: Potential beach find)
  • %AGES / [PERCENT]AGES (51A: Portions)
  • ^AKERS / [CARET]AKERS (67A: Nurses, e.g.)
After a slog through the non-theme answers, the puzzle suddenly broke open once I figured out the theme, and since the theme answers take up so much of the puzzle, that gave me enough momentum to finish.  I came close to a DNF a few times along the way, but came away satisfied; since nearly all the payoff was in the theme answers, your experience will probably hinge on whether you cracked the theme before giving up (hence the difficulty rating).

ELIAS AMAH in the SE was the weakest cross I encountered; I wasn't familiar with either one.

A bit eerie that today's theme came after the keyboard-themed ESC in yesterday's SW corner.

All ten(!) theme answers make sense with little to no stretching, there's symmetry with the numbers on top in the northern half and numbers on the bottom in the southern half, and as with this Tuesday's puzzle, the final theme answer is a bit of a sucker punch (in a good way).  Fun solve, and the theme is executed well enough to forgive a few cracked-out moments in the fill (esp. in the SE).

Random: HASIDIC crossed with RAP MUSIC in the W/NW reminded me of Matisyahu, though he's actually reggae and not rap.

  • 17A: Do-overs at a card table (NEW DEALS) — First thought MULLIGANS (too long).  I guess it sort of makes sense, but it also feels like a joke missing part of the punchline.  Maybe it could have been Roosevelt's card table.
  • 18A: Maestro Toscanini (ARTURO)  — Crossword fans probably only know his first name because his full name happens to be 15 letters.
  • 48A: Elemento número 79 (ORO)  — Not sure if anyone's ever done chemistry and Spanish in one clue before.  If it weren't ORO I suspect we'd be seeing chairs through windows at breakfast.
  • 65A: Neighbors, in a way (LIES ON)  — ...Maybe?  This was one of the shakier clues/answers today.
  • 66A: One with a lap cat, maybe (CARESSER)  — Legitimate, but a grand misdirection; I was thinking of types of VILLAINS or Ernst Stavro Blofeld until I had enough crosses.
  • 3D: Put in stitches (SEW)  — Thought CUT at first (as in "I'll cut you"), but later realized the pun was on "Put in" and not on "stitches".
  • 7D: Cooler part (CELL)  — Turns out 'cooler' is a slang term for prison, though it could also refer to the closed-cell foam in a styrofoam cooler (but I'm pretty sure that wasn't intentional).
  • 14D: Hulled grain (GROATS)  — Surprised to learn this was a word.  (Before I got the theme I was suspecting [QUAKE]R OATS.)  It sounds more like something out of Jabberwocky.
  • 43D: Sign holders (ZODIACS)  — Got ZODIAC_ early on; suspected the final square was a rebus and only got the S from  SHIFT KEY.  The clue seemed obtuse enough that it probably should have had a question mark.
  • 45D: Head cases? (CRANIA)  — Had CRANIi at first.  I felt like Tony Guida up against Rex on the CBS Evening News; "my Latin... my Latin."

Signed, Marvin, CARESSER of CrossWorld
(don't TASE me BRO)


Phil DeGrave 3:55 AM  

I have to say I loved this one. I did have to go to the keyboard on my computer to get the number answers. I got SHIFT KEY EARLY and knowing Thursdays are always a nut buster I figured it out. Lotsa fun for our CRANIA this week.

r.alphbunker 4:06 AM  

I got the SHIFTKEY revealer before getting any of the theme answers. Knew that SASQU@CH had to be correct and thought that the theme was characters that had to be typed using the shift key. Took a while to realize that the down answer had to contain the lower case version of the shifted key to make sense.

2PAC, 4RUNNER and MAROON5 made the down theme answers harder to get than the across theme answers.

Peeking at the keyboard definitely helped here

FWIW, I made the following comment regarding the ESC answer in yesterday's puzzle. "Please avoid clues that reference the computer keyboard. People who solve with a computer have to be very careful not to peek." I guess that Will Shortz didn't have time to pull this puzzle. :-)

chefwen 4:29 AM  

I've said it before and I'll say it again, not only does Ian Livengood have a cool name, but I love, love, love his puzzles.

Got it when I had SAND/blank in at 22a and blank/RUNNER in at 26D, filled in the reveal off of the downs with AMARETTO and the rest was history. Had some problems with EX#ING and CARE^TAKERS, but we worked it out.

Brilliant Thursday Puzzle! Thank you Ian,

Anonymous 4:32 AM  

Enjoyed this one, but it was harder without an American keyboard!

jae 4:33 AM  

Wow!  Impressively tricky.  Had it all filled in with the numbers fairly quickly and then stopped and stared trying to remember what was above each number on the keyboard.  Glad I do Wed.-Sun. on paper or I would have been tempted to peek.   Although, my iPad would have been no help.   So, medium-tough only because additional pondering was required.   Liked it a lot.  Clever and tricky is always welcome on Thursday.   Plus a touch of zip...2PAC, MAROON5... mixed in with some vintage crosswordese...AMAH, SARI...makes for well rounded puzzle.

Jeremy Mercer 5:37 AM  

Last week's puzzles gave us a little help as we had CARET in the June 27 puzzle and there was discussion about SASQUATCH being an option for the clue 'Literally, "man of the forest" in the Friday June 29 puzzle.

Also, I have to say, this is one of the many mornings I am grateful to be a print-and-solve guy. As @r.alphbunker notes, the temptation to look at the keyboard with these sorts of clues/puzzles can be overwhelming and it robs you of the satisfaction of a clean solve ...

Otherwise, bravo for a challenging and original puzzle.

orangeblossomspecial 6:29 AM  

This one was easier if you worked it on a computer, I'll bet. Without the keys in front of you, it was necessary to rely on memory.

It's a shame ARTURO Toscanini has been relegated to the trash heap of crosswordese. He was a dynamic conductor in New York and Europe, known for a short fuse.

retired_chemist 7:05 AM  
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retired_chemist 7:07 AM  

Nice one, for which I needed the reveal at 68A. But not easy. Not even close.

Problem: AL accepted the first letter of the word, e.g. "A" for both AT and 2, in the rebus squares. I thought SASQUACH was an alternate spelling and APAC was a rapper I had never heard of.

ANISETTE for AMARETTO, BUD or BUB for BRO, HOME IN ON for ZERO IN ON, MAGEE for MCGEE (and I was SO sure!). Add these to my confusion with the theme and I am actually glad I forgot to turn the timer back on.

Thanks, Mr. Livengood.

dk 7:24 AM  

Wish I had the option of DOORONE.

Got the theme answer and SAND4 early on but missed SASQU2SH. Most of my time was spent trying to visualize the keyboard on my Brother Typewriter from AEONS ago.

Nice try but no fun for this spent firecracker. LIESON as a neighbor??? Only in my wildest Acme dreams.

**(2 Sparklers) Mostly I am for, not AGAINST Ian. Just not today.

NancyKav 7:34 AM  

I usually can't stand rebus puzzles but this one was fun. I felt no guilt looking at the computer keys to decipher the meanings of the across theme entries after I was done filling everything in. Luckily I solve on the computer so it was very convenient. Not sure if a paper solve would have been as enjoyable.

I too had ANISETTE before AMARETTO.

Was a little bothered by DOORONE because it contained a number but I got over it.

Z 7:54 AM  

I didn't get the them until MOTEL6/^AKER, although I knew something was going on at 3DTV. Even without the theme I had 2/3rds of the puzzle filled, so easy.

@dk - I was thinking, "depends on the kind of neighbor...."

Sparky 8:05 AM  

I'm with @orangeblossomspecial. ARTURO my first entry.

Took me a while to catch on. Made it all the way to SHIFTKEY and thought Capitals? Or even the cursed caps lock which catches me all the time. SAND$ saved my bacon.

I finally got up and looked at the keyboard for 2 and 6. ^AKERS last as I had MOTEL8. Also Bud before BRO, spinster (my bad) before CARESSER (WHICH IS KIND OF CREEPY); see, there's that damned caps lock.

Good Thursday challenge Ian Livengood. Nice job Marvin.

JenCT 8:12 AM  

Solved this without a keyboard & didn't want to go peek, so took forever!

Got 3DTV & knew 22a had to be SAND dollar, but couldn't really figure out the theme until SHIFT KEY. Then, it was a matter of trying to remember keyboard keys.

Impressive that the theme answers read up and down, in two different ways!

Challenging for me, but I liked it.

JenCT 8:13 AM  

I meant Across and Down, of course.

evil doug 8:31 AM  

This paper-solver came thisclose to reaching for his keyboard---but I finally came up with '%ages' to close her out. Gotta love it when it takes seven letters to fill one square.

Coulda been "Pirate star Dick and others", but the Anti-Sports League here would have had a #$%&! fit.

Bothered by 'door one' and 'zero in on', what with all the numbers in the theme and all....

Not a gambler, but in my penny ante days we'd call it a re-deal.

Still hold a special place in my heart for Motel 6. Snuck back to Drake U. on leave halfway through USAF pilot training to surprise my fiance on Valentine's Day, and that's where we spent our romantic night. We didn't leave the light on, Tom Bodett....

Had the -erv-- and tried 'fervor' before 'nerves'.

Wanted 'skinner' before 'caresser'---there's more than one way to do that to a cat, you know....

Just about fed up with the constant rap music references. They're as legit as any area to be explored in crosswords, but through overuse it's sort of becoming cliche.


joho 8:47 AM  

Excellent writeup @Marvin on an outstanding puzzle.

To me this was everything a tricky Thursday should be complete with a big aha moment when I finally understood what Ian was up to. He's a shifty guy!

I liked the old crosswordese AMAH, SARI next to each other plus they really helped me in that corner.

Loved it!!!!

Sue McC 8:49 AM  

Cool fun on a hot Thursday. Was doing in Across Lite on an iPad so had some funky keying to contend with. Got the gag from MAROON % (which had to be entered as MAROON P).

Tobias Duncan 9:06 AM  

I sailed through most of this one but DNFed because I was unwilling to look at my keyboard for caret and I could not get CORinthians for the life of me. Great puzzle though.

Tita 9:08 AM  

LOVED this puzzle!! This is what Thursdays are all about for me. I really admire the trickiness of it. And loved how even when I discovered the theme, it made my CRANIA and its contents hurt to keep them all straight.

Had trouble with # - I called it HASH, saw hDTV, which didn't make much sense, but is a thing. Finally figured it out.

DOORONE and ZEROINON did give me pause. SASQUACH look like an alternate spelling. A rapper could be any 3 random letters. That crunchiness only made the solve more satisfying.

There was plenty of pop and obscurity (4th highest peak??), but didn't mind it one little bit because the journey was so much fun.

And, because I was delighted to see one bit of pop to whom I have a personal connection - grew up next door to MAROON5's mom, babysat for him. Now they've really made it! Congratulations. (His grandma introduced me to puzzles, and remains an inspiration...)

Smitty 9:14 AM  

Left the numbers blank cause I never did get the theme.

I tested the theory out on the hardest one CARAT akers (didn't help that I misspelled caret) and it didn't appear to work so I gave up trying

Tita 9:19 AM  

Oh - I DID look at the keyboard...funny - a clue like yesterday's ESC, I would never peek...but I very casually did so today... I know them all anyway, but now am feeling like I cheated my way through... @$%^@$!

@Tobias - I actually DNF, cause I had ENEStO/tOR when I hit Submit. (Serves me right for being a cheater...)

BTW - I love the word CAKERS!

JohnV 9:45 AM  

Well, guess my solving skills are on holiday, too. DNF, and not even close. Having to have a keyboard nearby while paper solving seems questionable. Keyboards on iPad/Droid don't really help.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

[slow, sardonic clapping]

chefbea 10:04 AM  

Got the theme at motel 6 and sand $ and assumed 38 across would be Door no. 1,2,or3. Had to cheat and look at the keyboard.

Nice Italian meal...osso bucco and tiramisu for dessert.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

@Evil - You know there's a saying among the groupie women living around the base about the pilot trainees in the USAF. - Always go after the trainees for the C130 cargo planes rather than bomber or fighter pilots . They, unlike bomber pilots, know that they can't drop their load until after the flight is finished. Your fiance was a lucky woman.

Nanny 10:15 AM  

When did George Enescu become Enesco?
Otherwise Loved it

jberg 10:16 AM  

Finished with an error - don't know MAROON 5, so I figured the band must be the MAROONs, and was puzzling over how sAGES coupld be portions - even though I was also thinking that a) there oughta be a 5 in the theme, and 2) 51A oughta be a theme answer. Somehow, I didn't think of all those things at the same time, so #fail.

Aside from that, it was hard but fun. My first guess, since you can change HASIDIC to cHASIDIC, was that it was a simple CH rebus, but that didn't work anywhere else. Then somehow I got MOTEL 6/CARETAKERS without understanding - I thought maybe that since a caret indicates insertion, that you just inserted it wherever there was a number, as in EXcaretING - no, wait. Finally SHIFT KEY gave it away, but I still didn't figure out where the 5 was. Didn't help that I was thinking it had an & above it, for no particular reason.

Not too happy about the AEONS/ENESCO cross - two variant spellings crossing on the variant letter. But it doesn't work the other way, so it was gettable.

I too thought of spinStER for 66A, but that was clearly too sexist to make it into the NYT - at least, I hope it is!

Nice puzzle! Now that I see it all, I'm really impressed. And nice writeup, as well.

Mike 10:43 AM  

Didn't get the theme before peeking here, so DNF for me. Now that it has been revealed, I like it.

Pangram lover 10:48 AM  

Only for lack of a J is this puzzle not a pangram. Too bad, that would have make this puzzle even more of an incredible feat.

Yes, too bad Toscanini's recordings are no longer bradcast over the radio. True, they are not in stereo. True, the recordings were engineer to sound well over the radios of the time, and today the extrememly dry acoustic sounds quite unpleasant. But what excitement. I have an old 1950's 10" RCA LP of him conducting Rossini's Sereramide Overture. The tension and excitement is unmatchable.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

MAROON5 gave it to me! Tough puzzle, but that's what Thursdays are for...

Clever, tricky consruction, Mr. Livengood!

Nice write-up, Marvin!

PS. Even tho I'm a fan of Maroon 5 does not mean I don't remember the Maestro Arturo Toscanini.

mac 11:00 AM  

Very good Thursday puzzle, tough for me to figure out. I did get it after finding shift key, but continued to have trouble in the SW. I had CRATES for the heads of cabbage or lettuce, and forgot about the term for ^. I also need to remember sasquatch....

And yes, I started with spinsters, too, and I looked at the keyboard after I figured out the method.

jackj 11:06 AM  

Another sign that the days of printing out the puzzle, moving away from the computer to one’s “solving place’ and solving the old fashioned way with pencil and paper is going the way of the buggy whip and the landline phone.

Compounding the typing problem is a reliance on that sturdiest of typing aids, a strong right index finger to pick and poke at the keys with none of that “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the quick brown fox” training stuff learned here, so, nothing to confuse this determined typist(sic).

And, so, nothing to help with solving this puzzle’s gimmick either except a trip back to the IMac and a look at the keyboard and a reminder that there are symbols with names above the numbers and a further reminder that # isn’t just “number” anymore.

A brilliant construction by Ian Livengood, who also clearly made a superhuman effort to keep the puzzle’s fill at a high level and mostly succeeded with the like of CELL, cleverly clued as “Cooler part”, the horse’s mouth thing that looked like OAT but, oops, was in fact BIT and those noted “Sign holders”, the ZODIACS, et al.

The main slippage seemed to be at AMAH and SARI and the string of threes next to them and one can envision him grimacing at each one as he typed them in.

Ian’s imagination seems to know no bounds!

Loren Muse Smith 11:11 AM  

Finally I get to do the puzzle! A dear friend, Rabbi Jim (of the NB story), is letting me take refuge from the heat in his synagogue, which has power. He’s not HASIDIC, but he’s sure a gem.

Count me in the “loved it” group. Really, really clever. Like so many others, I saw the trick at SAND $.

@retired_chemist – I had exactly the same experience and thoughts about SASQUACH/APAC. Plus, I, too, had “anisette” before AMARETTO.

@Nancy Kav – I felt no guilt either about crossing the room in the synagogue library to look at the keys.

@Evil – I, too, noticed the ONE and ZERO.

@Joho – I wish I’d thought of “shifty guy.” Too clever!

Aside from shamelessly consulting the keypad, I had a big DNF because I never think of the word CARET for ^. It is and always will be for me a circumflex. You can imagine my confusion while struggling with “circumflexakers.” It had me thinking that I hadn't quite sussed out the trick. Jeez Louise.

Thanks for the fun, Ian, and thanks for the great write-up, Marvin.

Norm 11:19 AM  

Very clever puzzle. Was almost done before I got the trick, and the revealer was anticlimactic by the time I got to it. For me, the down theme answers were easier than the across (thank you, darling daughter, for exposing me to Maroon 5 lo' those many years ago on that driving trip through Scotland),and I basically just figured (hoped) it would make sense at some point. At SAND$/4RUNNER, it did. Definite thumbs up for this one.

Carola 11:20 AM  

Genius. At 1A, I saw that something mysterious was afoot but wasn't sure how to spell SASQUATCH so went on and tried to forge a clockwise path around the grid, with spotty results. Reaching the SE, I was never so happy to see an Asian nurse with her SARI - they helped me get to the SHIFT KEY, and the puzzle was unlocked.

I liked seeing Georges ENESCO and ARTURO Toscanini facing each other diagonally. Enesco's Romanian Rhapsody #1 has long been a favorite of mine. Here it is, conducted by Toscanini. Really terrific.

@Nanny 10:15 - I wondered that, too. Wikipedia says that he's known in France as Georges Enesco....

Thanks, Ian Livengood, for the very fun accompaniment to my morning GROATS.

Marvin 11:28 AM  

@r.alphbunker 4:06
I was thinking of that comment as soon as I got the theme.

@Sparky 8:05
There was a bit of foreshadowing when I mulled over ALL over SNO for 42A (___-Caps), but the capital C swung me toward SNO (which ended up being right).

@evil doug 8:31
I had the same feeling about DOOR ONE but didn't pick up on ZERO IN ON. Kind of weird that the two of them lead right into the actual theme numbers, though.

@jackj 11:06
I too was thinking OAT, but after locking in _ROATS I was too suspicious to actually write it in. Filled it entirely on crosses.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:28 AM  

Frustration! So few rappers whose names I thought I knew, and then I got hung up at 6D. I thought the name was "Tupac" Shakur, which fit the rebus phonetically but not letter-by-letter as the others did. Now a quick look at Wikipedia shows that the artist went by both "Tupac" and "2Pac"!

Matthew G. 11:36 AM  

I had the exact same problem as Bob Kerfuffle with "2PAC." Glad that research supports the answer used.

I loved this puzzle, even if it means I now have a "She Will Be Loved" earworm. Maybe if I imagine MOTEL 6 spokesman Tom Bodett singing it, it will go away.

Marvin 11:42 AM  

@Matthew G. 11:36
"She'll Leave the Light On For You"

Dean 11:46 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle, but two beefs: First, the clue for Enescu should have added "var." or "in Paris" to get the non-English (and non-Romanian) spelling. Trying to get AEONS out of A_UNS took me longer than any other spot. Second, the NYT *really* needs to fix their iPad puzzle app's ability to handle rebuses. Even with the puzzle accurately completed, it DNF's me on the grounds of "incorrect cells."

Bird 11:50 AM  

What a BS puzzle mixing symbols and numbers and forcing us to run to the desk or laptop in order to get assistance.

Hah! Good challenging Thursday. DNF though with blanks in the SW corner. Had TAZE and MAGEE, didn't know 57A, which Latin 101 verb is it? and couldn't remember if it was Motel 6 or 8.

Today I learned that ESPRESSO and AMORETTO have the same # of letters and a few in common as well.

Masked and Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Just like the retired chemist dude, assumed I couldn't spell sasqua(t)ch, plus anything+PAC was a possible rapper name, as far as I knew. Forgot to revisit that, once I'd got my shift key thing on. So no bonus points for M&A today.

Really liked starting out with all 3-letter down gimmes. Old friends AMAH, DIEM, OSSO, VAVA, SNO, ORO, XER also very helpful. Neat diff clue for ELIAS. Fun theme. Nice puz.

r.alphbunker 12:28 PM  

# is also called an octothorp.

I really wanted *gell for MCGEE.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

I miss Rex
"Relative difficulty: DEAL WITH IT"

If you are going to sit on the blog at least make an effort.

Puzzle was fabulous, thanks Ian. Took me awhile to figure it out.

syndy 1:49 PM  

does it count as a DNF is you got a happy pencil but...SASQUACH worked for me and I never read the down clue;also counted for the life of me dredge up the word for #(made a hash of it)but I was happy and pencil was happy now though-like accidently shoplifting-still love it but who do I sent a check to-Wil or Ian?

GLR 2:04 PM  

Re: 38A - I haven't seen Let's Make a Deal in years, but in the days when Monty Hall was the host, I think it was always "Door *Number* One," not "Door One."

Maybe there's a potential theme around different versions of Shift-3, with it being used as "pound," "hash," and "number" in different answers.

Tita 2:15 PM  
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Tita 2:16 PM  
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Tita 2:17 PM  

Astonishing synchronocity!!!!!

I was just cleaning my dad's antique Royal typewriter, which I will be selling soon, and noticed that above the 3 is "£"...Pound!!!!!

Turns out the keyboard, though a qwerty layout, has that difference as well as being able to type diacritics without moving the platen.
Oh the memories of typing on a real typewriter! Especially the cheery "ding!" when you get to the end of a line (carriage return). Oh yeah - that's why it's called 'carriage return'.

Two Ponies 2:51 PM  

I got most of this and enjoyed what I got but a sports clue and a composer were too much for me in the SW.
Groats reminded me of Firesign Theater (you too @ dk?).
I'm so tired of rap music answers cluttering up my puzzles. It's not even music. It's just people talking.

Carola 3:01 PM  

@Tita 2:17 - Leroy Anderson's Typewriter

OISK 3:04 PM  

Would have finished had I looked at a keyboard, but as it was I had "Wages" for portions, which makes sense, and "MaroonW" which makes as much sense to me as "Maroon5." Maybe they went to Washington State. 2Pac and Maroon5 in the same puzzle is two too many for me, especially when the oxymoron "rap music" is also one of the answers. Agree with prior writer who is tired of all the "rap" references. Happy to see Enesco, though, which I HAVE seen spelled that way on my recordings.

Norm 3:07 PM  

@Matthew G. -- Setting "She Will Be Loved" on autoplay at NOW. Gonna defeat that earworm one way or another. (But I do like that song.)

@Anonymous@12:43 -- Please go away. It's a volunteer effort, and we should appreciate rather than criticize. If you miss Rex that much, don't read until he gets back. Sheesh.

@ndre@ c@rl@ mich@els 3:07 PM  

Brilliant, Ian!!!!!!

Hey, i just noticed yu can't even spell BRILL-Ian-T
without I-A-N!

Wow, so cool...tho did live in Napa, no keyboard to consult, so many many many mistakes for me...
Misspelled SASQUAsH, never figured out the name for CARET^....
I just think of ^ as the nose in a smiley emoticon :^)

@GLR, I'm with you...
Biggest hold up was DOORONE.
As i had the 2-5, I couldn't get past thinking it was some variation of DOOR#1.
I'm pretty sure Monty Hall used to say to Carol Merill
(hey, is that Patrick's mom?!?!) "Let's show her What's behind Door Number One!"
So if there was anything I'd change, is maybe not have the word ONE in the puzzle and have it not be a rebus.

(wow! Just looked it up, Carol Merrill has her own Wikipedia page! And it seems to bear out sense that they used the word "number" when discussing doors )

I often feel like one of the contestants/bagladies in the audience when Monty Hall would do quick deals at the end. I carry so much s#^t in my bags that if someone said "I'll give you $5 if you have a hardboiled egg and a calculator and/or an expired library card in your bag..." I'd probably shout out "I have those!" and start digging...

Anyway, phenomenal puzzle even tho I didn't get half the keyboard characters (#^@)...

You were Adam Levine's babysitter!!!???!!!
Wow. More stories, please! I mean, how often is MAROON5 gonna be in the puzzle?!
And THAT explains his tattoo TITA on his left shoulder!

hazel 3:10 PM  

Super creative puzzle. What will these kids think of next? SASQU_CH made me say hmmm, part of the gimmick came into focus with MAROON5, then SHIFTKEY completed the extended AHAAAA. Pretty cool all around.

Rube 3:19 PM  

Got the theme early on with 3DTV. Couldn't believe it was correct, but checked it and yes. Went back and revisited the strange spelling of SASQUaCH, put in a 2 and voila.

Never heard of MAROON5, but %ages works. Favorite answer is ^AKERS.

John 'o GROATS is a village at the extreme NE corner of Great Britain. Per Wikipedia, "in 2005 a popular tourist guide, Lonely Planet, described the village as a "seedy tourist trap" and in 2010 John o' Groats received a Carbuncle Award for being 'Scotland's most dismal town'." Just sayin'

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

Didn't quite get
Relative difficulty: DEAL WITH IT!

...even with attempted explanation.

Also thought WORD OF THE DAY should've been GROATS.

Just my opinion.(fighting back temptation to write DEAL WITH IT!)

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

@anon 12:43 PM
I totally agree, I wish Rex would choose people more familiar with the blog. Taking a stab at the relative difficulty is one of the most important parts of the process.Rex makes a guess. We all agree or disagree, then Sanfrandood comes in with the numbers at the end of the day.

Guy who actually read Marvin's Post 3:40 PM  

Quoting Marvin:

'I know Thursday is when the dirty tricks come out, but today's puzzle felt more like a barrel of Thursday jungle juice, with numerals, symbols, squares that read differently Across and Down, and a slew of tricky tricky clues everywhere else.'

Does not the phrase "a barrel of Thursday jungle juice" evoke a difficulty level?

" I came close to a DNF a few times along the way, but came away satisfied; since nearly all the payoff was in the theme answers, your experience will probably hinge on whether you cracked the theme before giving up (hence the difficulty rating)."

There, and explaination of the difficulty rating.

The kid was up 'til 3 in the morning writing this up for you. He wrote it as he chose to, as per Rex's instructions.

Anonymous 3:50 PM  

@ or 2 Guy who actually read Marvin's post

Hmm...OK, but I still think GROATS should've been the word of the day.

Anonymous 3:52 PM  

@ Guy who actually read Marvin's Post

The difficulty rating is a very specific five tier system.
This kid was up till three AM and was rewarded with the attention of thousands.Many people do a whole lot more for a whole lot less.

Wikipedia 3:54 PM  

@Rube -

Land's End to John o' Groats is the traversal of the whole length of the island of Great Britain between two extremities; in the southwest and northeast. The traditional distance by road is 874 miles (1,407 km) and takes most cyclists ten to fourteen days; the record for running the route is nine days. Off-road walkers typically walk 1,200 miles (1,900 km) and take two or three months for the expedition. Two much-photographed signposts indicate the traditional distance at each end.

Marvin 3:57 PM  

I will say that OSSObuco had a better-looking picture on Wikipedia, but for those who track it, I've added a five-tier-compatible difficulty rating to the post.

Anonymous 3:58 PM  


Thank you for the edit: medium-challenging...

...and for waking up at 3am!

Anonymous 3:59 PM  


Thank you for the edit: medium-challenging...

...and for waking up at 3am!

sanfranman59 4:10 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Thu 17:55, 18:54, 0.95, 44%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 11:16, 9:21, 1.20, 85%, Challenging

Online solve times for puzzles like this one are doubtless inflated because solvers don't know what to enter in the trick squares. Also, there are always fewer than the usual number of solvers for these puzzles, presumably because people give up on what to enter. I know that I first tried submitting my solution with the across symbols and it wasn't accepted. Then I tried entering the first letter of each square (which usually works with multi-letter squares), but that didn't work either. I finally tried entering the numbers and that was accepted. These machinations probably added at least 30 seconds to my approximately 16 minutes solve time.

Anonymous 4:12 PM  

Thank you Marvin!! All complaints withdrawn !

ranman 4:14 PM  

"didn't want to go peek"
"Would have finished had I looked at a keyboard"
"Having to have a keyboard nearby while paper solving seems questionable"
"the temptation to look at the keyboard with these sorts of clues/puzzles can be overwhelming and it robs you of the satisfaction of a clean solve ..."

Is it heresy to think that the use of a keyboard (since that is where many of us compose/complete puzzles) is not only not forbidden but, actually encouraged or acknowledged as an allowable refernce to solve this puzzle by the constructor?

I'm sure the mere mention will bring a CRITICAL CLUCK about my comment to the lips/fingertips of many.

I used my keyboard, enjoyed the puzzle, and chuckled at the righteous indignation or guilt implied in the blog comments above--a tough crowd.

Life is short--if I'm typing, I'm going to look at my keyboard!

Tita 4:35 PM  

@acme - Lol about the tattoo...I'm blushing!
He once asked me if I would hold on to my (then new) volcano red Toyota Celica, so he could have it when he turned 16. Ha! I don't think he wants it anymore...

@Carola - thanks for the link - perfect! I tell you, I forgot how wonderful it is to use one of these - the satisfying physical interaction with the machine...shoving the carriage back, ripping out the paper and crumpling it into a ball (many of my term papers suffered such a fate!)
Of course, the lack of a delete key takes all the romance out of it... ;)

@r.alph- I remember Willie *gell!

And forgot to thank Mssrs. Livengood and Marvin.

Lewis 5:11 PM  

There are comments all the time on how Rex is so often negative toward constructors, but I think his critiques are doing a service -- making constructors work harder to keep the fill interesting.

I bring this up from time to time: I think that the NYT Puzzle Page will continue to have the answers to Patrick Berry's meta-puzzle in October for at least a year. It's three quarters of the way there.

@carola -- I too am a big fan of the Romanian Rhapsody.

Great idea, great execution, Ian. Rock on.

Anonymous 6:34 PM  

I loved the puzzle inspite of my DNF. No shirft key in my ipad so could not peek.

@Matthew G. 11:36. If you sing "Moves Like Jagger" you'll get rid of your earworm.

retired_chemist 7:50 PM  

@ r.alph et al. - Willie *gell WAS NL MVP in 1979. Good stab.

Amaretto Caresser Maroon% 7:59 PM  

Entries and how to do it even affected the outcome of the Napa Valley tourney. One young guy didn't know he was supposed to put both, so he lost.
He was gracious about it...but it was a fair decision, because if you just put in the numbers, you didnt really solve it
(for example, i got all of the numbers, but did not get the shift answers in 3 of the five answers even tho I "got" the theme.)
Dan Feyer writes up the event nicely on his nonblog there is a link to.

Thanks for the mini (celica?) story! I expect more every time Adam is in the puzzle!

Anonymous 9:38 PM  

Gave up, even though i had it 99% filled. Didn't get the significance of the shift key. :(

sanfranman59 10:06 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 6:56, 6:50, 1.01, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:18, 8:57, 0.82, 5%, Easy (8th lowest median solve time of 158 Tuesdays)
Wed 14:09, 11:47, 1.20, 91%, Challenging
Thu 17:52, 18:54, 0.95, 44%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:27, 3:41, 1.21, 97%, Challenging (5th highest median solve time of 157 Mondays)
Tue 4:06, 4:38, 0.89, 15%, Easy
Wed 6:47, 5:53, 1.15, 88%, Challenging
Thu 10:54, 9:21, 1.17, 82%, Challenging

Clueless in Texas 10:31 PM  

Loved the puzzle--loved the rebus! Thanks for a fun Thursday! (usually I struggle a bit on Thursday, but I really enjoyed this one.... And I did it on my phone app, so I had to guess that the SHIFT KEY answers were correct!)

Will 2:04 PM  

It's Enescu, not Enesco. That's just wrong. It kept me from finishing because I thought aeons had to be right, but I knew Enesco couldn't be right. After looking it up, apparently it was spelled Enesco in France and is also listed as such in Encyclopedia Britannica, but boo on NY Times for that spelling.

BlogSpotRemover (!) or (?) 7:01 PM  

did anyone do what I did, and use DRDEMENTO for 47 across. I've missed that in >1 xword b4, so this was really Karmic retribution. Do you ever, when a clue just fits (ie has the right no. of letters, rebuses, etc), and you're proud of it, and it turns out wrong, say "But it fit so PERFECTLY !!!!"? As if it could fit better than just fitting? I do. And did on 47D. I also just wrote the sentence w/ the most clauses ever. (could be a clue, no?...."Man who wrote longest, comma-packed sentence in history of language?" D A V I D.

BlogSpotRemover (!) or (?) 7:02 PM  

I meant down. 47 down. so sorry. Also, the point was DRDEMENTO was wrong!

Anonymous 9:47 PM  

My question exactly. Why did no one else notice this? Definitely a flaw, in my opinion.

Not-quite-quotidian Dad 12:52 PM  

i guess i'm the only one who thought of misDEAL first?

DMGrandma 3:46 PM  

Got the rebus, but still didn't finish. We're in the midst of a heat wave, and I was unwilling to give up my perch in front of. the fan to go look at a regular keyboard, No upper case on this Ipad! As a result, I left the numbers in where I knew them, and blanks where I didn't. MAROON? Still cheers to the creator for a novel idea.

Dirigonzo 7:53 PM  

The SASQUaCH kept me from a perfect grid but I still feel smug because I (almost) finished without looking at a keyboard. I was totally blown away by the cleverness of the theme, and considered the ZERO and ONE in non-theme answers to be bonus featuresn ot distractions.

Jimmy Buffett has a song with the line, "Cause my whole world lies waiting behind door number three" repeated in each verse - can you guess the title?

Texas Solver in Syndy Land 9:18 PM  

I must be the only person that is so dumb that I cannot figure out rebuses. Hate them.

Spacecraft 9:32 PM  

First, what happened to my post yesterday? It said it was "saved," but from what? Publication??

Anyway, on to today. As I read down the various posts, I see that most solvers start at 1a, as is perfectly normal if you're not Hebrew or Chinese. But I like to scan the clue bank first, to catch a theme-style entry, like "Part of a floor, or a hint to the ends of 17, 23, 41 and 49 across." Or in today's case, the last across clue. When I see that I start right there. Just lucky that I'd heard of Kid ORY, and making short work of the short downs, I soon had my SHIFTKEY. I was a bit puzzled after ZODIACS went in, and ZEROINON seemed to fit, why the "ZERO" part wasn't rebussed. Seemed a great opportunity. But I (also luckily) knew MAROON5, and that gave %ages going across; the jig, as Maxwell Smart once famously said, was up.

Then after getting the easy SAND$ and 4RUNNER, I assumed all the theme entries were symmetrically positioned. So with the devilishly clever MOTEL6^TAKERS, I expected another one in the NE corner. This was very tough for me, as I did NOT know GROATS and thought some rebus must surely reside there. I almost DNF. Left it, went to the NW and tried to fit in SASQUACH--knowing that's not how I'm used to seeing it spelled. And the down was a rap clue: I HATE rap! But with _PAC in place, even I knew it had to be 2. Oh--and there's my "AT!" It IS right! But no symmetry in the SE, so I went back and finally, finally got rid of hDTV in favor of 3D. But what was "EXnumberING?" Oh, wait! That's also the POUND sign!!! The ultimate aha moment right at the very end! An absolutely fabulous puzzle!

Z 9:39 PM  

@Texas Solver - I remember the feeling. Here's a hint: If it is Thursday or Sunday and something feels off, consider that some sort of trickeration might be involved. Rebuses and other tricks happen on other days of the week, but Thursday and Sunday seem to be the days these games happen the most.

Solving in Seattle 10:18 PM  

@Spacecraft, you cheated by going to the revealer first. And, you can say that I cheat by using google with a clear conscience.

This puzzle was ***** in my book. Just loved how clever it was. Got the theme on SAND$/4RUNNER. Before that, my forehead was wrinkled on the EX3ING/3DTV cross.

Loved SASQU@CH/2PAC cross, although I agree with ED that rap is over used in CWs. I guess it's because the weird names and spellings give constructors cheap fill.

To Marvin, if you had read Michener's "The Source" you would know what GROATS are.

I love OSSO buco.

@DK, gettin' a little risque with that SWEETPEA, Acme, huh?

Super puzzle, Ian!

Joshua 1:00 AM  

BlogSpotRemover: Where would DRDEMENTO come in as even a possible answer in this grid?

Anonymous 9:03 PM  

There was a Sunday puzzle a few years ago, titled "Top Row" I think, in which all of the charaters from the top row of a keyboard were included in the grid. I had just started doing these things recently and when it finally dawned on me that there were characters in some of the squares I was mightily impressed. I'm quite sure that one was a DNF.

@Solving in Seattle 10:18 PM - Going to the revealer first is cheating? Is entering 2a before 1a cheating? Is starting with the downs cheating? That's ridiculous. The clues are laid out for you on the page; your only job is to use these clues to solve the puzzle.

I solve in the newspaper, but I was near a computer at the time and inadvertently glanced at the keyboard, happening to notice the one character I was not going to get from memory. That's because I had no idea that a PULSET looks like this ^. So Even though I completed this one, it goes in the books with an 8.

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