Heraldic band / THU 8-16-12 / Hipster Captiol worker after collapsing / Singer with 1986 #1 album Promise / Cyclades setting / Speaker of line Listen to them children of night

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Constructor: Ethan Cooper

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Keyboard words — wacky phrases made out of words on keyboard keys; clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: CCC (1D: New Deal work program, for short) —
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 17–23. A part of the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments. The CCC was designed to provide employment for young men in relief families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression while at the same time implementing a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000; in nine years 2.5 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a small wage of $30 a month ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families). (wikipedia)
• • •

It took me an inexplicably long time to get the theme. Perhaps I wasn't trying hard enough. I just plowed through answers at various places in the grid, assuming crosses would make sense of things, but for the longest time, they just didn't. I had completely traversed the grid without any of the theme answers coming into view. Of course once I finally picked up the theme, the puzzle seemed easy. So I'm guessing that's how it will go for most people—somewhat variable as to when the theme gets picked up, but afterwards, easy. Beyond the theme itself, the hardest thing for me to pick up was BAG CLIP (41D: Twist-tie alternative). Not a phrase I've ever said, though I know exactly what is meant by the phrase. We have several in the house. I think we call them CHIP CLIPS. Maybe we call them "clips." Or maybe we even call them BAG CLIPs and I somehow haven't noticed. Anyway, I had BAG and nothing at all made sense to me as a follower. Also, the things I clip with a (so-called) BAG CLIP are not at All things I would twist tie. I twist tie the plastic bag the bread comes in, or the plastic bags I put my vegetables in at the store. I clip bags that are not amenable to being twist-tied. So BAG CLIP is not so much an alternative as it is a completely different (if parallel) closing mechanism.

You didn't expect so much attention to be devoted to BAG CLIP, did you? You probably thought "He'll probably say he's seen this before and isn't impressed" or "he's gonna hate ORLE" (60A: Heraldic band) or "I'll bet he says something about how this is the second time we've seen a reference to WERNER Klemperer in recent days." But no—BAG CLIP! Excitement!

I actually have seen a number of keyboard-related themes. But this one is an interesting and (to my knowledge) original variation.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Prison guard system? (ESCAPE CONTROL)
  • 30A: Hipster Capitol Hill worker after collapsing? (ALT-PAGE DOWN) — goofy, but enjoyable
  • 39A: Bill at the "Star Wars" cantina (SPACE BAR TAB) — I like this
  • 52A: Restyle a bit of a D.C. hockey player's hair? (SHIFT CAP'S LOCK) — supergoofy, to the point of preposterousness. And why not?
Not a fan of the Alphabet Soup answers, largely bec. I'll Never be able to remember any of them except TVA (1D: New Deal work program, for short => CCC). Couldn't come up with CHARD even though there's a boatload of it growing in our backyard (red chard, to be precise, but still...) (1A: Swiss ___). Wanted ABBA (no) and INXS (maybe, but no) before AC/DC (10A: Multimillion-selling band from Australia). Thought CIGNA was CITGO (which is gas, not insurance) (17A: Aetna competitor). Love the creepy clue on DRACULA, though I needed many crosses to get it (5D: Speaker of the line "Listen to them—the children of the night"). He's referring to wolves—not exactly an iconic line, but a great one nonetheless. I should be rereading that instead of reading "Camilla" (by Fanny Burney), which is breaking my back. It's eternal and it's all about dancing and the social mores of the elite and omg I want to call in Austen to do some script-doctoring. Did they not have editors in the late 18th century? And pacing. Come on. There's leisurely, there's slow, and then there's drifting aimlessly with no hope for rescue in sight, which is where this book lives.

  • 48A: Company that introduced coin-slide washer in laundromats (MAYTAG) — sure, why not? That makes sense. Tougher than a clue referring to their iconic repairman.
  • 63A: Singer with the 1986 #1 album "Promise" (SADE) — Default position for my brain is roughly 1986, so stuff like this tends to be my bread and butter. 
  • 3D: Cyclades setting (AEGEAN SEA) — was having real trouble closing out the NW until I picked up this baby. 
  • 51D: Two-finger salute (V-SIGN) — ha ha. I like how there is no indication of what the V-SIGN is supposed to mean in this case. It has ... multiple meanings. Clue allows you to think "peace" or "victory," but also allows you to be like me, and imagine someone gesturing "up yours!"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


The Bard 12:13 AM  

Hamlet > Act III, scene I

HAMLET: To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

Bela 12:17 AM  

What music they make.

jae 12:36 AM  

Clever and, yes Rex,  initially tough (started with watch/wpa for 1a/1d), but fairly easy after catching the theme.  So, easy-medium for me.   Pretty zippy theme clue/answer pairs with ALTPAGEDOWN my favorite.  Add DRACULA, BETONIT,  SCOTFREE, DROOL.. and the solid smooth fill, and you've got an excellent Thurs.   Good one Mr. Cooper!

The NW corner looks kinda tough in retrospect.   CCC, CIGNA (could be sIGNA if you were guessing), and COEUR are not exactly tip-of-the-tongue answers.  If one fails to dredge up Civilian Conservation Corps from ones high school history course one might be SOL.

retired_chemist 12:40 AM  

I liked it. Easy. Also a nice writeup. Rex.

No real problems - traction all over the grid. Gifts: CHARD, Sacre COEUR, HYPO, WERNER Klemperer. Got lucky and guessed right the first time: MAYTAG, ORLE, PEEN. Got DRACULA with a couple of crosses. NECROpathy to start - yuck.

The theme was fun. Thanks, Mr. Cooper.

Anonymous 1:14 AM  

In my house we call them HAIRCLIPS we use on bags of chips.

Clark 1:30 AM  

I was very proud of myself for discovering the rebus at 1A. CHeeSE with the double e in one square, confirmed by HOI and SUMS TO at 2D and 4D.

Me: "Bag, Bag, ... ?"
Semi-Puzzle Partner: "BAG CLIP"
Me: "Is that a thing?"
Semi-Puzzle Partner: "It certainly is a thing."
There followed a lengthy recitation of evidence for it being a thing. I'm 51% convinced — sometimes SPP just makes stuff up.

chefwen 2:11 AM  

It took me forever and a day to catch the theme, once I did, as Rex said, it got a lot easier.

This one was not up there with my all time favorites. Felt like it was kind of a yawner after all was said and done. Oh well, I guess I don't have to love them all.

Didn't know CCC and spelled CIGNA with an S. Should have known better, I used to be in Insurance Biz, even though that was about 40 years ago.

Alottodo Carly Monologs 5:03 AM  

I loved how simple yet fresh the theme felt...seemed original and right at my fingertips (if I solved on line...which I do not)

I would have thought it a Tues/Wed theme, but an editor I am not.

Since I take in a series of short term roommates, (catsitting while I travel) I always end up with an odd assortment of things to be given away/thrown out when they move out (Shampoo with instructions written in German; Chocolate syrup; single socks)
my latest left me with a set of plastic BAGCLIPs. But as I don't eat chips, etc. I have no use for them, yet have thus far refused to thrown them away.

Anyway, am also amazed how many SWISS ____ things come to mind before CHARD:
CHeese, Bank accounts, army knife, miss...I feel a puzzle coming on!

Unknown 6:15 AM  

My first thought at 1a...ooh, cheese. It's going to be a rebus...Drat the luck.

And is there any way to post without having to prove I am NOT a robot? Can't read the stuff half the time.

Unknown 6:19 AM  

@Andrea Carla Michaels.....saw you on Chopped....loved it. Am really going to try to get to the tournament in 2013.

dmw 7:15 AM  

Never saw "peen" used without "ball"

Ahora cross orle caused me to fail.

Four words in eight letters? alottodo.

Didn't like "control." Should have been "ctrl"

On to Friday.

Glimmerglass 7:16 AM  

Like Rex, I saw the theme late. I'm still puzzled about ALT PAGE DOWN. ALT and PAGE DOWN are keys (on a PC, not on my Mac). So I got it right, but since when is ALT a meaning for "hipster"? Alt[ernate] as in "alternate rock"?

Doris 7:22 AM  

Amusing puzzle. My favorite Dracula line, which I think has been in more than once before, is: "I never drink (pause) wine."

Bela 7:48 AM  

Wine,From my son's Vineyard.

Milford 8:13 AM  

Felt difficult to get through, but my time was totally average, so maybe I was just trying too hard to look for a rebus.

I liked SPACABARTAB best as a theme answer. Also liked SPIRE, EPIC, and CHARD entries. Thought 5d was an author at first (Dreiser?), but really liked it being DRACULA.

I like INXS, and my husband likes AC/DC, we even have a dog named Malcolm. I actually guessed the latter first.

Never refer to any child, especially my own, as ever being a TYKE. Antique word, IMHO.

Used to work in a diabetic NEUROpathy research lab at UofM years ago. We stained nerve samples with osmium tetroxide - remember having osmium as an answer a few weeks back?

Sue McC 8:15 AM  

Fun theme. Easier than most Thursdays for me. CHARD took me way too long. Who knew the Klemperers would have such a legacy? CIGNA is big in my neck of the woods, so that was a gimme.

John V 8:21 AM  

What @Rex said about getting the theme and then easy afterword. West side came much faster then East. LARA/CARLY cross was perilous for me. What is it with the NE crosses these last two day, huh? Shades of ENA/LEBON.

Long downs were all fun.

9D: Shouldn't this be clued as "var."? The usual spelling is MONOLOGUE, with E at the end, no?

A good, non-rebus Thursday. Good one Ethan. Thanks.

Z 8:29 AM  

Hand up for wanting CHeese and a rebus at 1A. Immediately knowing CCC and HOI didn't help.

With half my mind never quite giving up on the notion of a rebus, the theme came to me late in the game. Once the light switch flipped up ALT PAGE DOWN finally filled in and I was done. The answer is a little off. I read the alternative press, I listen to alternative rock and alternative country, I play a sport that was featured on the alt-sport show on CBS on Sunday. I've never been hip.

In this house they are "chip clips." We have two types, the better of which isn't actually a clip but is a single piece of molded plastic which folds back on itself and latches shut, creating a better seal to keep out the humidity and keep the chips crisp. What a wonderful world we live in.

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

Re peens: that's because it's the second most popular hammer and must try harder. The first, the claw peen hammer, we just call a hammer and the other specialized peens (chisels and shapers and cutters) aren't in the DIYer's toolkit. Peen means that other side of the hammer that performs some work other than hammering.

Jeffrey 8:59 AM  

@Bard: Show me a Shakespeare quote with BAG CLIP and I'll be impressed.


For a Thursday, this was comparatively very easy. The gimmes 48D, 49D and 40D suggested that the "restyle" in 52A referred to a shift, and if you realized 39A involved a bar tab, the theme became obvious (which greatly helped ease the puzzle solving).

I'm a little annoyed at space bar because it is the only theme component whose 22D is not printed on the key itself.

This is somewhat similar to a puzzle I remember that used the shift-number key symbols as rebuses in the puzzle. Perhaps some fine constructor could combine both themes into a single puzzle. That would be fun.

The best part of a puzzle like this one is that the answers at truly at your fingertips.

orangeblossomspecial 9:17 AM  

Thanks, Bela, for the film clip.

Rex is correct. Bram Stoker's Dracula is a good read. The first chapter has to be one of the most exciting in all of literature. After that, it devolves into readings from journals.

Not too many songs have ESCAPE-CONTROL or ALT-PAGE-DOWN as lyrics. But one version of the 51D V-SIGN is for Victory, as in the "Victory Polka".

roscoe 9:18 AM  

thought this was easy. once one of the keys appeared in the answers the pattern was evident. loved slomo, maytag and wondered about peen. don't do much hammering. puzzle was really interesting: i dig, slomo, a lot to do, etc.

Loren Muse Smith 9:22 AM  

I was in SLO MO and becoming increasingly TESTY until bam – I saw the theme, and then I loved it! I shamelessly consulted my keypad after that.

Wanting an adjective at 32D, I had OPEN SKIEd for too long. That, and “peace” for VSIGN held me up even after I got the theme.

When I saw “cheese” didn’t fit, I immediately put in CHARD, and with COEUR and STATURE, I unfortunately had for 5D DR _ _U _ _. Tita – here’s one for the books: The NW fell last for me when I finally changed it to DRACULA from “Dr. Seuss!” Sheesh.

dk 9:22 AM  

💀💀💀 (3 skulls) Nice one.

Instead of the BAGCLIP rants

I like the dead theme. I am sure the folks in Newton Iowa understand why Maytag is in the "dead" grid.

One of my careers was as an innovation/intellectual property consultant (ideator in x-word land). I often worked with companies that were trying to recreate the magic they once had. Think reanimating the dead as in Pet Cemetery. What amazed me was both the hubris and magical thinking that went/goes on within corporations. Maytag was one, Lehman Brothers another… the list goes on. The prevailing wisdom (sic) within the organization was if we just stand in the same spot and wear the same clothes lightning will strike again. And, those who do not believe are put to death. One of my shining moments was when I began to send CEOs of such firms a copy of the Golden Book: The Emperor's New Clothes as a review of their strategy. Shamefully it was done anonymously as consultants are… well… you know whores… sigh my head is hanging down.

The result in Maytag's case was a body blow to the justly proud town of Newton IA. We all know about Lehman, Ceridian (nee Control Data), etc.

Ok the absolute worst is: after 4 days of no paper I pony up the 19 clams to get back the on-line puzzle. I am half way through the electric tree version when I hear my favorite sound: the plop of NYT on my porch. Curses foiled again.

Tobias and barrista queens - Newly harvested wild rice is on the way.

The Bard 9:23 AM  

Pericles, Prince of Tyre > Act V, scene III

PERICLES: Pure Dian, bless thee for thy vision! I
Will offer night-oblations to thee. Thaisa,
This prince, the fair-betrothed of your daughter,
Shall marry her at Pentapolis. And now,
This ornament
Makes me look dismal will I bag clip to form;
And what this fourteen years no razor touch'd,
To grace thy marriage-day, I'll beautify.

Jeffrey 9:27 AM  

I'm impressed!

joho 9:32 AM  

I, like @Rex took forever to get the theme but once I did at SPACEBARTAB the rest was pretty easy.

ALTPAGEDOWN doesn't really work for me but I enjoyed the theme overall because it is so original.
Maybe if the clue didn't have "hipster" and something more hip ... ALT would take on the meaning of cool ... I don't know.

Fun Thursday! Thanks, Ethan Cooper!

John V 9:34 AM  

Oh, forgot this: many should remember that in the early days of PCs, esp. MSDOS, which frequently gave us the BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death), the only way out of this mess was the, "Three Finger Salute", which was ALT+CTRL+DEL. Yeah, I'm looking at you, @BillGates.

Captcha getting less annoying lately, it seems.

chefbea 9:42 AM  

Didn't get the theme at all - I'm not very computer savvy-

Hand up for thinking cheese and a rebus.

Make swiss chard all the time - sauted in a little olive oil(not canola) and garlic.

GILL I. 9:52 AM  

I had ESCAPE, SPACE and SHIFT as part of the theme answers and nothing else. I was thinking maybe it would turn out to be an alien movie. I kept plugging away and finally got that ALT PAGE DOWN portion. 24D was a head scratcher since I've never heard of TAGUP. Didn't like RUNS TO, A LOT TO DO, I DIG, V SIGN or THAT.
I once read this thing that had all these lists of ways to protect yourself in an hotel room. One said to use a BAGCLIP on your curtain to prevent peeping tom. So @Alotodo just stuff a bunch of them in your overnight bag just in case...!
Loved Swiss CHARD. If your children won't eat green veggies, get thyself and the kids on a flight to Spain and order a plate of "acelgas" (swiss chard)They stuff the stems with jamon serrano and queso manchego.

jackj 9:54 AM  

The last puzzle Ethan Cooper had published by the Times was six years ago but he certainly has been fiddling with his computer during this hiatus, sufficient to create an interesting PC themed Thursday crossword challenge.

Even though ESCAPECONTROL was the first theme entry completed, it wasn’t clear to me what we were looking for until the back portion of 30 across showed PAGEDOWN and then the rest of the theme bits were a piece of cake.

There was a lot of nice fill to entertain us with AKIN being brilliantly clued while ALOTTODO proved to be a nice multiword entry and SCOTFREE, BETONIT and TAGUP were also clever keepers, (not so much love for BAGCLIP and OPENSKIES, though).

Continuing on, “These days” for LATELY; “Mouth watering?” giving us DROOL; TESTY for “Quick to flip” and “Unbeatable” as the clue for IDEAL seemed to also belong in Ethan’s very fertile bounty of clues.

I had to pause for a bit to remember that the quote about “children of the night” was referring to DRACULA hearing howling wolves and accept that the “D” of CHARD wasn’t signaling Daddy Warbucks musing about Little Orphan Annie.

Interesting puzzle from Mr. Cooper who on his track record will be back in 2018 with his next offering. Sooner is better, Ethan.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

@bard - well done even tho a little poetic license adding "bag"

roscoe 10:06 AM  

does anyone know where to get instructions on how to construct say a NYT puzzle.

richnrbq 10:13 AM  

I'm thinking that the bag clip is one of those flat plastic slotted things that often comes with bread or hamburger rolls rather than those big chip clip things (which are oddly unsatisfying...).

So those are a good twist tie alt(ernative), right?

Milford 10:18 AM  

@chefbea - love Swiss chard with olive oil and garlic. Nice and simple. (also, my captcha, no kidding, is "edibea", how fitting!)

Really shouldn't continue the whole BAGCLIP discussion, but it just occurred to me that perhaps the clue means to reference those small, square, plastic doo-hickeys they put on sliced bread bags, with the date stamped on them? Maybe?

Milford 10:21 AM  

Hey, @richnrbq- looks like we had the same thought almost simultaneously.

Loren Muse Smith 10:26 AM  

I google imaged (verb, right?) BAG CLIP, and most of the pictures were of longish plastic clamps..

FWIW, we use clothes pins; they work a lot better than BAG CLIPs.

jberg 10:29 AM  

This blog can be humbling sometimes. I thought thinking of Swiss CHeese with a rebus was a mark of crosswordy cool, only to come here and find everybody else thought the same thing. Nice misdirection, indeed! Also, I'm with those who thought that if you had ALT you should have ESC and CTRL, rather than spelling them out - on the other hand, it's still pretty neat to combine two keys into a phrase with some semblance of meaning - especially, of course, SPACE BAR TAB.

BAG CLIPs are for closing bags. Chip clips are for cutting a chip in half, so that you can share it.

Norm 10:38 AM  

I like the definition of BAG CLIP as those little square doohickies. I actually have big versions of the type Rex was talking about that are labeled CHIP CLIP.

Fun puzzle. Like others, took me a long time to grasp the theme -- even when I had _L_ PAGE DOWN. ELF? SLY? FLY? Aha!

For fans of Dracula, I recommend The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Could have used some editing (tales within a tale within a tale always give me a headache), but very entertaining.

Carola 10:41 AM  

I guess I'm one of the few who VOTES NO instead of saying I DIG for this theme, but I liked A LOT of the rest - the AEGEAN SEA, the OPEN SKIES, SCOT FREE, BET ON IT, and DRACULA.

I also found the West easier to complete than the East. There I was grateful for the earlier discussion of WERNER Klemperer, who previously was unknown to me and gave me the toehold I needed today.

Like the CHARD next to its STEM and the nod to the French with COEUR, RUES, PLIE, and the Marquis de SADE.

@Mary Rose Goldberg -
Did you happen to see @JohnV's (I think) comment from a few days ago that you can hold down CTL and tap the + sign to enlarge text on your screen? If you have a Mac, I'm not sure if it will work with CMD and +.

Two Ponies 10:50 AM  

In the Gary Oldman version of Dracula that line is iconic. The expression on his face along with the line are unforgetable.
I think @ Milford is right about the bread clips. At least it makes the clue seem better.
Does anyone know what Opie is short for? That can't be his real name can it?
Reviving the CCC sounds like a great idea.
I have seen many amazing a beautiful structures built by the CCC. They have endured and still are being used.
The puzzle was not very exciting thus the rambling.

DSSinDC 11:04 AM  

I thought this rose to Medium-Challenging, at the least. It took me a long time to get the theme, and the fill was unusual, or new to me.

John V 11:13 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
John V 11:21 AM  

@roscoe re: constructing puzzles, have a look at Patrick Berry's book , which is excellent.

Z 11:26 AM  

We call those little square doohickies "little square doohickies."

I cannot believe that some anonymouse accused the Bard of misuse of his poetic license. I am outraged. Unchain the Bard's license, I say.

Sue McC 11:31 AM  

@Two Ponies
From Wikipedia re: Opie's name:
"There are two explanations of the name's origin. One is that Opie Taylor was named by Andy Griffith after bandleader and radio actor Opie Cates.[1][2] The other is that he was named for Opie Shelton (1915–1999), a childhood friend of Griffith, who went on to become president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.[3]"

Opie Cate's real first name was Opal.

Al O'todo 11:32 AM  

Bag Clips

Bread Clips

retired_chemist 11:38 AM  

@ AL for mac users - to enlarge or shrink the text of the clue, click and drag the bottom edge of the text box (if your clue is at the top) in the appropriate direction.

Also, the grid size toggles between large enough and too large for me with a menu button, "full grid."

Lojman 11:46 AM  

Felt challenging at first, but once the theme fell, timed at easy-medium for me. Liked SPACE BAR TAB, but especially liked ALT PAGE DOWN. Reminds me of "So I Married and Axe Murderer" (http://youtu.be/eJMfbrFEric).

Can't you just hear Harry Reid: "Mr. Speaker, before I yield my time to the honorable gentleman from Tennessee, I first must announce that we have an ALT PAGE DOWN. There is an ALT PAGE DOWN."


Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Many a blogger RUNSTO skip-
Yield to EPIC comments on BAGCLIP!

Harold Bloom 11:58 AM  

@Z - The Bard has cheated death for several hundred years now, any you think he cares about a little criticism on a blog for fudging his work?

The man "Invented Humanity". All writers since should have had the humility to take up basket weaving or something in the face of his genius. All writers prior should have risen from the grave and had their works redacted in their entierty. All this, and you think he cares about a friggin blog?

Two Ponies 12:02 PM  

@ Sue Mc, Thanks. One possibility I thought of was a verbalization of the initials O.P. but I guess not. Cute name for a kid maybe but as an adult?

Nooner 12:13 PM  

I'm so glad someone explained PEEN. I could only envision some poor lad trying to hammer something with his... um.... tool?

Sorry! That was in poor taste. But I've never heard PEEN other than short for something else entirely. I think I just read too much dlisted.

Otherwise I liked the puzzle a lot. It was tricky for me of course. I tried to make Swiss COCOA work for way too long, with that "Swiss Miss Instant Cocoa!" lady yodeling in my head. I loved the Dracula quote and once I caught on to the theme I enjoyed it. SPACEBARTAB being my favorite and SHIFTCAPSLOCK being so over the top I thought it was too far.

Merle 12:19 PM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. Nice work, Ethan Cooper! Nice balance of gimmes and WTFs. The theme was intriguing. Since I've used both a PC and a Mac, I didn't even think about what the words actually are on the keys. I just got the gist of the clue and ran with it. Gimmes: [Swiss] chard, [Sacre] Coeur, Maytag,rues, orate, MSDOS (trip down memory lane on that one), peen. Remove nails with the peen end, nail nails with the hammer ball end. Nothing in the puzzle to get 65 A testy about. Even Sade became obvious, although 1986 is in what is for me a musical wasteland, and I wouldn't know a Sade song if I heard it -- although I would know a sad song, fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa, thank you, Otis.

Merle 12:21 PM  

Oh, and once again, sweet Bard, thank you for the immortal lines of the immortal Bard of Avon that you so generously share.

syndy 12:38 PM  

*overheard in a high school auditorium-"I don"t know why everybody"s so hot for this Shakespeare fellow-all he did was string together a lot of cliches!" @ Gil p "Tag up" is a baseball reference.Dracula was a gimmee and as my dad was in CCC this all skewed easy but still fun!

joannamauselina 12:39 PM  

I'm reading "Cecilia" by FB, and feeling exactly the same

notsofast 12:44 PM  

Not one, but TWO baseball terms! 24D: "Go back before proceeding" ( tag up ), which I really like, and 28D: "in the cellar" ( last ), which is also very nice! Easy. Fun.

Masked and Anonymo4Us 12:47 PM  

Welcome back, Ethan C. See. If U stare at that keyboard long enough, somethin' will come to yah.

Fave crossing: HIS/THAT. They both had clues that didn't want to give an inch.

Fave fill: SCOTFREE, DRACULA, AHORA (Navigator gal on the Starshift Anterprize. Would like to do a bag-clip-like dissertation on her, but I ain't gettin' paid by the word.)

mac 12:50 PM  

I had the same experience many of you had - slow going until I got the theme about two thirds down.

Lots to like, including clues. Scot free was my favorite, and a lot to do's great, too!

thursdaysd 1:08 PM  

Nice to have a non-rebus Thursday, although I was briefly tempted by cheese. The west seemed a lot easier than the east, at least until I finally added CONTROL to SPACE, and gave up on the Klemperer starting with O. I did remember CCC from visits to National Parks, and I only just switched from CIGNA to Aetna, so that corner was easier than it might have been. No keyboard on my iPad so nothing of use at my fingertips.

This is my fourth attempt at the captcha.... Maybe I'm a robot and didn't know it.

Bird 2:33 PM  

That was a decent puzzle. Thank you Ethan.

The first time through yielded very little. I had *S**P*CONTROL when ESCAPE appeared out of nowhere and, with the others partially filled, revealed the theme. With the exception of the NW corner the rest of the puzzle was a snap. Never heard of CCC or the Paris landmark and Swiss CHARD was hard to come by. Only nit is that ESCAPE and CONTROL are on the keyboard (at least not on any of mine) as ESC and CTRL, so the theme is not perfectly executed. Still liked it though. And as I’m staring at my keyboard I notice there is only one key that is not labeled. Another demerit?

Kept trying to figure out how CAPITAL would fit at 52A before I got the theme. A few writeovers make the grid a little messy, but neatness does not count.

Love the clue for 24D and nice to see WERNER make the puzzle.

Like @Rex I thought of the 3rd variation of the V-SIGN.

@John V – my thoughts also on 9D.

@orangeblossom - Gong - Escape Control Delete

Today is National Rum Day. Cheers!

Dean Martin 2:44 PM  

@Bird - I'll drink to that! Hic.

Sandy K 2:59 PM  

Enjoyed this not-so-easy, but computerese-y puzzle a lot.

This has been a good week, so far...V-SIGN @Ethan C.


xyz 3:04 PM  

I had more fun with this one than a sissy in a CCC Camp.

Politically correct my @$$

This was weak, at least use what the keys actually say on them!

Lewis 3:23 PM  

I found the clues to be hard, didn't get much of a foothold for a while, then things fell. Ethan, contribute more often -- this was good!

Anonymouse 3:32 PM  

@redanman - Why so negative? This was a good puzzle with some minor flaws. I did chuckle at your comment.

Ahora Canola Msdos 3:43 PM  

@Two ponies, @sueMcc
That's interesting! I would have guessed it was short for Opium... Sort of like Swee'pea

LOL, love mistakes like that...so cool that DRseUss and DRACULA share so many letters!
the Bat in the Hat? The Places You Will Go...and Suck Blood? Horton Hears(e) a Who?

I actually considered MAtTel for MayTag. EZ Bake Ovens, so maybe coin operated washer Dryers!?!
Tho I doubt TYKEs play make-believe about laundry.

treedweller 3:52 PM  

Those little square doohickeys are also useful when your thongs (flip-flops) fail. If the little button on the bottom has pulled through the Hole in the sole, poke it back through and clip on a bag clip keep it from pulling out again. I thought I had a "vessel with the pestle" thing going there for a minute, but it petered out.

NY Times 4:23 PM  

Even in a Scrabble Match, ‘Cheat’ Is a 4-Letter Word

Not sure why this is in today’s Sports section, but thought you folks might find the article interesting.

Z 4:48 PM  

@NY Times - Scrabble cheating was all over the sports talk shows yesterday. Add some steroids controversy and they can probably land on ESPN.

Our pal Gareth has the LA Times puzzle today. It is a real Almond Joy in my book.

long suffering mets fan 5:15 PM  

Always have the rebus radar up on Thursday which screwed me today.
As @John V said, held on to MONOLO-GUE forever.
Was double certain when I had CAP_L and knew ITA went in that one square

Overall liked the puzzle-- just crunchy enough thanks, Ethan

long suffering mets fan 5:42 PM  

@Loren -- DRSUESS made me laugh outloud. Can just picture as I harken back to when I used to read Dr. Seuss to my toddler son, uttering that chilling phrase

One of the most entertaining features of this blog and of 31's reviews is our ability to be self-depricative and share our shortcomings with others

Bob Snead 6:26 PM  

ALT PAGE DOWN = my favorite answer. I can just picture the poor kid.

r.alphbunker 8:09 PM  

My Mac does not have a PAGE DOWN key. I need to do fn+down arrow.

Sparky 8:13 PM  

Had VEETOES at one point pushing for a rebus and thought I would change CHARD to CHeese. Naticked TAgUP/AgS. Didn't know either. Now I get them. Thanks @syndy.

Caught on with ESCAPE, SPACE, SHIFT and was able to continue chipping away till done. LILI Taylor in Monday's BEQ.

Very good @Bard. Made me go look it up. Cousin Walter spent a summer in the CCC.

Sparky 8:20 PM  

@treedweller. Great tip. The doohickeys are also useful to put at the end of a roll of tape so when you go back to use it it's not all stuck down.

Thanks Ethan Cooper and Rex. This was a good day.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Kerfuffle 9:24 PM  

My apologies. The one time I skip reading all comments, I picked the wrong word to look for. I am chagrined.

Stephen 11:14 PM  

Lots of good stuff. Took a really long time, though. Wrote in "Isle of MAN", "ANDY Taylor", and ONEG for "blood sharing"; had to slog slog slog them all back out. The hard work was OK, though, because some of the clues were just so good.

Never heard of TAG UP, even though I did play that deadly game as a kid.

Did not like "all THAT", although it did occur to me. The clue just did not fit into the pattern of great ideas that do not suggest themselves but do confirm themselves.

Capchas getting worse! Why do we need this on a crossword blog???? Save us!

Anonymous 1:55 AM  

I followed so many wrong paths, but eventually got the theme, and yes, that helped immensely. Just over 20 minutes. This was the most enjoyable puzzle I've solved in recent memory.

DROOL! Love it!

Got TAG UP right before seeing the clue to LAST, so the Baseball Fu was strong with me for that one.

Great puzzle Ethan Cooper! I'll be looking forward to his puzzles again.


Spacecraft 10:59 AM  

@Stephen: TAGUP refers to the rule that baserunners must not advance on a fly ball until after it is caught. Usually runners will take a lead, so that if it's not caught they'll have a head start; hence they have to "go back before proceding."

I got the theme OK, but it didn't impress me. As far as I can figure out, the entries are simply a series of keys mashed together willy-nilly. The lone exception might be SHIFTCAPSLOCK; well, at least it's two keys doing the same thing. Meh.

This is not to say that the puzzle is no good. Interesting fill pretty much all over. Once again the NW was the hardest. I have never heard of "Cyclades." HOI was my lone gimme there--and in fact my only entry till the very last. TAGUP helped, and after running the gamut from ADDSUP to ADDSTO finally to RUNSTO, I managed to infer the rest correctly.

3/4 of the puzzle: easy-medium. The NW: challenging. I guess if you average it out, it's...medium.

Had no idea ACDC was Australian.

Solving in Seattle 1:26 PM  

Also had DRseUss before DRACULA. ACMe cracked me up with "The Bat in the Hat."

Had Isle of Man instead of ELY and DNF'd the SE.

Caught on to the theme when I couldn't figure out 52A (I had SHIFT----LO--) by studying 20A and 39A for pattern. Aha, keyboard words. I them went to my computer and found CAPSLOCK. Fun puz.

To this day, the SPACE BAR scene in Star Wars is one of my favorite movie moments. Totally blew me away.

Capcha: byArib. Policy of Defense Dept. in Saudi?

DMGrandma 3:31 PM  

Mostly got hung up in the NE where I had lotsTODO, but CONTROL put the "t" where it belonged. Needed that because I'm lousy on bands and a lot of today's actresses. Once I worked that out and re-spelled COueR correctly, the puzzle fell. Must admit I still don't understand the use of ALT, but it's probably generational. I knew CCC and MAYTAG right off.

Dirigonzo 3:36 PM  

This played "PEFAT" for me - "pretty easy for a Thursday" and maybe that's why I liked it; or it could have been the cluing, which I thought was fresh and witty, or the general lack of dreck. Whichever, I had fun and it didn't even take all afternoon despite thinking that the unfettered air space at 32d would be dangerouS instead of OPENSKIES which I don't particularly like. Ethan Cooper should come back more often than once every 6 years.

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