Tumbler locale / THU 9-6-12 / Commandments 1958 hit / Hoffman who co-founded Yippies / Routine with one-handed freeze / I now prophesy that I will dismember my dismemberer / Town in Hersey novel / 2001 Sean Penn film

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Constructor: Ben Pall

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: JOINT ventures — there are four pairs of parallel, adjacent theme answers, and each pair shares a word in common. The sharing is represented in the grid by extra wide boxes, in each of which one letter does double duty for two theme answers.

Word of the Day: MARCO Island, Fla. (62A: ___ Island, Fla.) —
Marco Island is a city in Collier County, FloridaUnited States, located on an island by the same name in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Southwest Florida. It is a principal city of the Naples–Marco Island Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 16,413 at the2010 census. [!?!?!?!?!] (wikipedia)
• • •

A clever idea that played out very, very strangely. This was possibly the easiest theme that I've ever solved, for any day of the week, ever. Figured out the gimmick quickly at TRADE/CIVIL UNION, and all the other pairs fell almost instantly as soon as I reached them. The one exception was the ROTARY part of ROTARY JOINT. That didn't want to come. But the SW corner was done in a matter of seconds, and the SE didn't take much longer. The only thing making this puzzle "Medium" at all was some "hard" cluing (MARCO Island!? What the ... ????) that seemed to be concentrated, for me at any rate, in the NW. I struggled quite a bit with VEG, ELITE, A LIE (?), RUSE, LIEN, LOCK (39A: Tumbler locale), and BELLA (the last one is my bad—I've actually read "Twilight" and should've known that one). Flat-out guessed INSECT (24D: Six-footer?), which is what gave me the traction that allowed me eventually to put that corner away. By contrast, I went through every other corner like it was M or T.

Theme answers:
  • 2D: Domestic relationship 3D: Protection for a mechanic, say => CIVIL/TRADE UNION
  • 19A: Italian hangout 22A: There's one between the ulna and the radius => PIZZA/ROTARY JOINT
  • 54A: Blink of an eye 54A: Nitpicked => SPLIT SECOND/HAIRS
  • 33D: Splinter 33D: Routine with a one-handed freeze, say => BREAK APART/DANCE
The one thing puzzling me is the choice of shared words. I can see how UNION, JOINT, and SPLIT apply—the wide answer creates a UNION of two answers, it's a word that two answers hold in JOINT custody, the two answers SPLIT the word between them. But BREAK? That seems to refer to the words that follow BREAK, not BREAK itself. Like ... the word breaks in two after BREAK? Seems incongruous.

Note: part of the reason the puzzle felt (in the main) so easy for me was surely due to the fact that many of the proper nouns were flat-out gimmes, including ABBIE Hoffman (17A: Hoffman who co-founded the Yippies), ARANTXA Sanchez-Vicario, "I AM SAM" (32D: 2001 Sean Penn film), and EZRA POUND (16D: Poet who made radio broadcasts in support of Mussolini). I can see how not knowing even one of those could make things a lot harder. Then there's the crosswordesey proper nouns, which I also knew, or at least had seen before: stuff like ADANO (58A: Town in a Hersey novel) and BARI (38A: Italian city associated with the real-life Saint Nicholas).

  • 40A: "The ___ Commandments" (1958 hit) ("TEEN") — I'm surprised I've never heard of this. I'm also surprised at how terrible that pun is. Wow ... wow ... this "song" is a phenomenal embarrassment to all involved. It's like young people saying (literally speaking, not singing) stuff Pat Boone would say to you.
  • 64A: Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum ___" ("EST") — I just read this, or parts of it ... I wanna say it's quoted in Christopher Hitchens's "Mortality," which seems like the only place I could plausibly have encountered it in the past week.
  • 1D: Fictional character who says "I now prophesy that I will dismember my dismemberer" (AHAB) — well who else? Great line, that.
  • 43D: Pursue some e-mail chicanery (PHISH) — Nice PHISH clue. I'll take email scam over jam band Any day of the week.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:10 AM  

Easy-medium for me too.   Interesting grid/theme with some zippy stuff...PHISH, BABES, VEG, MINX, STUNK...

Erasures:  DABSon for DABSAT, opTED for ACTED

Possible Naticks (what ever that means):  None that stand out except for stuff crossing ARANTXA which was a WTF for me. 

jackj 12:10 AM  

(Now, let’s remember that Ben’s first crossword for the Times, a Monday, was published when he had reached the ripe old age of 14, in 2009, making him the youngest person to ever create a puzzle for the Times).

Today, four years later and, presumably by now the proud possessor of multiple college degrees, a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur Genius Grant and a yet to be settled short listing for a Booker Prize, young Ben returns to dazzle us with a puzzle that breaks all the rules of presentation by having one word complete two entries, in four separate instances.

The gimmick makes for some strange bedfellows, CIVIL and TRADE are joined by (UNION) for example and (SPLIT) combines with SECOND and HAIRS. The other two are PIZZA and ROTARY followed by (JOINT) and then (BREAK), that precedes APART and DANCE. Simple combos all, but completing them involves a major change from our normal solving routine.

For the rest of the puzzle the fill is a virtual potpourri of the new and the old with AVANT and ARANTXA, EZRAPOUND, making the acquaintance of ABBIE (Hoffman), PHISH and INTEL, BABES and MINX, but nothing that STUNK, SOTOSPEAK.

A tad confusing at first, but this is really clever stuff from a talented young man and not at all baffling once you’ve done the puzzle.

Anonymous 12:13 AM  

I misread Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum ___" as Wilfred Brimley's ..., so of course the answer was OAT. Sweet and lovely OAT.

globular 12:34 AM  

I see the blogmeister is still referring to himself as the 31st greatest crossword solver when in fact he didn't even participate in this year's ACPT. What does that make of the person who in fact DID finish 31st?

Abbie Civil Minx 1:55 AM  

Clever clever clever! Bet lots of constructors wish they'd thought of it!
Crunchy cool and @rex's unearthing the 1958 "The TEEN Commandments" made it all worthwhile.
"Your parents brought you UP, don't let them DOWN". Love it!
And the fact Ben is still a teen, all the richer!

Mini- malapop in that I put in artE instead of CINE initially for Renoir, even tho I knew it was film not the painter...but then it mala-popped up at ARTSY.

Also tons of probs with Free = LEISURE.
i would think FreeDOM = LEISURE...even tho I could swap out free time / leisure time, but i tried LOTS of other stuff first. Not helped by having STaNK.

ABBIE Hoffman was my idol with "Steal this Book".

First there were Hippies, then ABBIE and the Yippies...then Yuppies...
Now with everyone on their cels all the time, we are now amidst a generation of YAPPIES!
(may be I'll trademark that?)

syndy 2:00 AM  

Since my laptop is not speaking to my printer I was left feeling a lot like old Ahab. I bet it worked better if the joints were deliminated ;>

Anonymous 2:01 AM  

I think the theme is more complex: it's "joint" and "union" when the split answers come together into the single word, but it's "break" and "split" when the single word then goes into two answers.

I enjoyed this very much.

Anonymous 2:23 AM  

Ugh. Writer doesn't know what a powder puff is. It's big and awkward and you don't dab with it.

chefwen 4:04 AM  

I think I downed a stupid pill tonight as it took me a crazy amount of time to get with the program, once I did, with UNION it was a lot of fun. Had the same problem as ACME with STaNK before stunk and I really wanted an H somewhere in RAJAS. Even spell check wants an H in there. ARANTXA was courtesy of my favorite uncle Google, thanks UNC.

Jeremy Mercer 5:06 AM  

Loved the theme and loved that I had a 'He really did that???' moment thanks to the EZRA POUND answer.

Only hair to split would be the proper name cross of AYRES and ARANTXA because if you're forced to guess, as I was, AYMES and AMANTXA seem perfectly viable.

optionsgeek 6:53 AM  

Very surprised to see "easy-medium" rating on this one. I had significant problems with multiple areas and had an anemic time. However, I still broke into the top 100 when submitted so I'm guessing a lot of other folks had trouble with it as well.

Milford 7:54 AM  

I liked it, something a little different. Even though you could guess right away that the answers were going to share a word, the extra bonus of those words appropriately coming together or splitting apart was pretty cool. Reminded me of a zipper, visually.

Got bogged down on a lot of it, but that may have been because I normally solve with Magmic, with one clue at a time, and the paper version somehow overwhelmed me. No systematic solving approach, I kept bouncing all over the grid.

I'm embarrassed to say I first put in Gabby for the Hoffman clue. That would be a cute kid actor, not a yippie.

That TEEN COMMANDMENTS "song" is just awful. I can't imagine anyone ever thought that kind of approach ever worked with kids. Thank god Rex gave us the Hitchens video to balance it out. Just wonderful.

joho 8:05 AM  

LOVED this puzzle!!!!

Got the theme at SPLITSECOND/HAIRS then worked my way counter clockwise to CIVIL/TRADEUNION having a ball all the while.

My biggest problem, not having a clue about ARANTXA, was realizing that RAJA lacked an "H" and EBON didn't require a "Y." Other glitch was having sAMiAM before IAMSAM.

At first I thought the two top answers meant "together" and the bottom two "apart" but I like Anon. 2:01 AM's take on the complexity of the theme. Ben?

Fresh and fascinating grid with clever cluing ... bravo, Ben!

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

Much harder when the computer grid doesn't show the extra wide boxes. Then it takes a while to figure out why none of the crosses work...

Sue McC 8:34 AM  

DNF, due to frustration. Normally solve in AcrossLite on iPad, but puzzle format prohibited that. Printed out PDF, but only got one page, missing some of the Down clues. Tried to get them from AcrossLite, and noticed that the format messed up the clues & squares numbering. Not in the mood to go to the trouble of figuring out the mess. Looks like a cool approach to the puzzle though, and the fact that the constructor is a teen makes me feel like a slacker. It's gonna be a great day!

Wreck Sparker 8:35 AM  

Really liked this puzzle. Since I did it in Across Lite and didn't read the blurb, it played out a lot harder. (There were no double wide boxes.) Got the gimmick in the NE.

I really, really like ACME's coining of the word "YAPPIE". I'm sure we'll see that elsewhere so remember where you saw it first.

Glimmerglass 8:40 AM  

I had enough trouble seeing how the theme works to call this easy. I was trying to make 10-letter phrases for a while. I was glad to finally see that it wasn't as hard as I was trying to make it. Anonymous 2:01 is absolutely correct, and I didn't see that until I read his/her comment. I remembered that 26A was a tennis player, but had no idea her name was ARANTXA. Lucked out with the crosses. Medium for me, and a great Thursday puzzle.

Loren Muse Smith 8:54 AM  

This lover of circles and other gimmicks panicked at the sight of this grid. Huh. Once I calmed down and saw the trick at UNION, I finished the west, but it was a struggle. My whole ACC territory was a big dnf. Rex called it – this puzzle was really hard for me because of all the unfamiliar proper nouns.

I did not know AERO, ARANTXA, AYRES, or ARANO . I did know or got from the crosses AHAB, AVANT, AMI, ANT, AMEN, AHSO, ABBIE, A LIE, A BIT, APES, ACTED, ASHE, ARTSY, and ABED.

For once, Cairo is actually in Egypt. Tricky for a Thursday, Ben!

Liked INSECT crossing ANT.

I agree – anon 2:01’s take on the difference in UNION/JOINT vs BREAK/SPLIT. Elegant distinction.

@joho – mixing up Dr. Seuss with Sean Penn – funny!

Neat idea for a puzzle - just a bit beyond my ken, Ben. AMEN.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

Nice that a teen uses cluing that has some traditional feel to it. Lew AYRES, Camille Saint-SAENS, ADANO, EZRA POUND. As I recall, a powder puff absolutely DABS AT a shiny face or five o'clock shadow in the case of Richard Nixon (although not quite enough dabbing done there.!) Did have trouble with "Twilight" girl. Showing my age.

dk 9:08 AM  

Well, well, well. Once the paper arrived and I could see the puzzle it all made sense. My iPad x-word app gave up the ghost and told me to print the puzzle off… of course you cannot print from an iPad so I puttered about till the satisfying thump of NYT on my stoop.

Then I was off to the races. Had wink instead of MINX for some whiles.

A great idea that suffered a bit in the execution.

🌟🌟🌟 (3 Stars) Ben any puzzle full of JOINTS is fine by me. Time to VEG

Bob Kerfuffle 9:25 AM  

Bravo to Ben Pall for a fresh idea!

I enjoyed doing the puzzle, but I share with ACME an objection to 23 A, "Free" = LEISURE. Can anyone come up with a defense for this?

Also, 1 A, "Didn't wait to make the decision" = ACTED? I have often ACTED after taking hours, days, to make the decision. The clue seems flat out wrong.

OK, so I have 54 A'ed. (Nitpicked) Still liked the puzzle.

jackj 9:38 AM  

FREE/LEISURE discussion:

"See me at your leisure." i.e., when you're free.

Free time= leisure time

Or, M-W's Collegiate Dictionary Eleventh Edition has this definition of "leisure" (in part):

"1 : freedom provided by the cessation of activities; esp: time free from work or duties."

Carola 9:51 AM  

Terrific puzzle, original and creative all around with the theme and some tricky cluing and no clunkers. Loved it.

Borderline challenging for me, but that only meant I got to enjoy solving it for a longer time (I'm in the savorer camp, not one of the solvers for time). I did not see the UNION/JOINT vs. SPLIT/BREAK theme until the grid was filled.

MARCO Island is a well-known LEISURE destination for Wisconsin snowbirds who'd rather VEG out on the beach with a DAN Brown novel than be at home chipping ice off their sidewalk in their WOOL underwear so that they don't fall and BREAK a KNEE cap or SPLIT a lip.

@Rex, thank you for the Hitchens reading.

Shamik 9:57 AM  

@ACME: Love the idea of the word: yappies!

Hard to compare my on paper time to my computer times. The gimmick was easy enough to figure out. I'm just slow today and had a lot of hokey pokey going on. As a couch potato, I'm still doing something...reading, watching tv, etc. while I SIT. And older people often say "My life is OVER."

I don't even know if they sell perfumed powder anymore. They always came with powder puffs and you could dab or pat. Tweets emanate from NESTS. Thought Jean Renoir was in the field of ARTE. Would have preferred a "Y" at the end of EBON. And I usually spell RAJAS as RAJAHS.

ARANTXA? Really?

Not a pleasure.

Loren Muse Smith 10:03 AM  

I just listened to The Teen Commandments. Ouch. It reminded me of something I heard on NPR - two artists, Komar and Melamid, polled people on what they do not like in a song. Then they had someone compose a song made up of only those things.


GILL I. 10:18 AM  

Foe once I knew all the proper names which of course helped me solve this terrific puzzle. I got the theme at PIZZA/ROTARY JOINT. Well, i got the Pizza part but I had never heard of a ROTARY JOINT. I wanted cuff in that little corner. The UNIONS came about and I got my BREAK.
ARANTXA might be difficult for a Thur.? She is well known in the tennis world but her name is Basque and even sports pros would mangle her name.
PHISH BABES great words. Hand up for STaNK and etching to memory @Abbie Civil's "Yappies." You better trademark it...
Ben Pall is still a teen? I wonder if he's heard the "Teen Commandments?"

Carola 10:28 AM  

@loren -
On that song, I'm SPLIT - don't know whether to say "Thank you!" or "Thank you - NOT!" But wait, "UNION" says it better: hilarious AND excruciating, laughing AND crying. Really, thanks - it's hysterical.

Matthew G. 10:33 AM  

@dk: You certainly can print from an iPad, and it's how I print the puzzle out every day, although of course in this case I had to print the PDF rather than printing out of the Crosswords app.

I liked this, but I have no idea how hard or easy it is because I leisurely filled it in while watching Bill Clinton's masterpiece of a speech.

Thoracic 10:38 AM  

First time joining discussion. I do the puzzle on Magmic iPhone app. If I can't do the puzzle on there because of format, how do I submit it? My(admittedly pitiful) stats will suffer!!

Sandy K 10:48 AM  

Thought this was fresh and creative, with tricky cluing and nice payoff. No crappy fill- a really clever Thursday!

Took me more than a SPLITSECOND to get MINX/ARANTXA, VEG/VAPOR, and LIEN/ENSUES/INSECT area, but all was gettable.

Loved the UNION of Lew AYRES> BELLA. Something for everyone...

@Milford Liked the zipper visual!

Excellent puzzle, Ben!

Two Ponies 10:54 AM  

Borderline challenging for me but I stuck with it and I'm glad I did. I like it when rules are bent or broken. Good one Ben!
Agree that Anon. 2:01 discovered the real beauty of the theme.
Andrea, Yappies is great. Trademark it immediately!
Almost every day I wonder as I am surrounded by yappies "Who are all these people talking to?" My favorite kind of day is one in which my cell never rings.

quilter1 11:06 AM  

Different indeed! Like @loren I panicked a bit at first glance, then dove in. I got the theme at JOINT. The NW was the last to fall as BELLA was unknown to me and my tumblers were in a safe instead of a LOCK, but it all worked itself out. Clever and well done. I liked it better when I finished than when I started.

Norm 11:09 AM  

This played hard for me although I expect it would have been easier had I read the notepad and printed out the pdf -- which made pretty obvious what was happening. The SPLIT answers were my aha moment and let me immediately finish off the large blank areas I had in the NW and NE, but the BREAK section still baffled me for the longest time. All in all, quite enjoyable.

John V 11:10 AM  

Liked this a lot. Hand up for not getting ROTARYJOINT, but otherwise okay. As I fell short on more than one crosswordese proper noun, so this played medium/challenging for me, esp the NW, as @Rex suspected.

I really liked the device of, say, UNION, presaging the union of the two words above it.

Refreshing Thursday. Thanks, Ben.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:11 AM  


Thank you, @jackj. After posting, I was doing my chores when it occurred to me that my LEISURE time was my FREE time. I really should think twice before writing once!

Nooner 11:34 AM  

I WOULD've loved this puzzle but I was doing it in AcrossLite, and all the boxes were normal-sized. So I had no idea what was going on until I got to 51D Editor Brown and I knew it was Tina. Finally in frustration I revealed the answer and it was TIINA, according to AcrossLite. So I googled all around thinking, "What, her name has two I's? How did I not know this?" And only then did I give up and come to RP for succor. Shouldn't AcrossLite have a "this one is funky" warning, or something?

JFC 11:47 AM  

Clever concept but otherwise it was okay for a Thursday and looking at the PDF made it seem easy. I'm looking for a comment on word count from someone who knows about that....


Anonymous 11:57 AM  

@ Nooner: It did have a warning in the Notepad icon up top. If you'd read that, you would have been led to the gimmick.

xyz 12:35 PM  

Interesting counterpoint-awkward cluing of simple answers to addd a level of difficulty to make it a Thursday - that one day NYT proffers quirky rebus puzzles and the like. Easy gimmick to figure out, several really horrid clues. Easy-Hard rating because it was so contrived to force sone of the fill. Might have made a fine Tuesday or even Monday, but I rankle violently at such polarity and awkwardness in the name of what?

Too cute for school, not a fan despite 100% - not AMEN.

mac 12:41 PM  

Easy to find the them, but I had a very hard time in the NW. Wanted "leapt" for 1A, avant looks sort of pathetic without garde, and it took a while to see leisure. Stunk was easy, somehow.

@Acme: great word, Yappy! What do you call the twitter crowd, Twitchy?

Masked and Arantxamous 12:46 PM  

Gloriously good. thUmbsUp, Ben. Like the way you think, on the UNION vs. BREAK gimmick. Looks like a mighty hard one to construct. Heck, standing O, for the funky-lookin' grid, alone. And kudos to the Shortzmeister, for daring to go with a different look. Great stuff.

B+ on the handwriting, @31.

Remember Arantxa. She was a real scrambler and a hoot to watch.

John V 12:49 PM  

@JFC xwordinfo shows word count of 80.

Sparky 1:14 PM  

DNF. Feel like old IskipM-W only in reverse. Filled in the whole bottom. Top not so much. Had ABBIE, PlaZA before PIZZA JOINT. But stuck with arTeRY.

I was beginning to get the idea that what was put asunder at the bottom might be joined together at the top even if it had to be a CIVIL UNION. ACTED never entered my mind for reason @BobK mentioned.

Nice idea though; an anti-rebus. Instead of letters being crammed into one square they have plenty of room to move about.

skua76 1:18 PM  

Well, that was different, and fun, although the X in MINX/ARANTXA was almost a Natick.

@acme, I did have to check the Urban Dictionary for YAPPIE--a great word, but it's already in there. And surprisingly for the U D, all of the definitions pass the breakfast test (!)

JFC 1:20 PM  

Thanks, John V. So it exceeds the 78 but is justified by the special theme?

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Isn't the saying "too COOL for school"?

Masked and 3 regular Us and 1 fat U 1:25 PM  

@John V: I get a count of 78 words. Wonder how the xwordinfo robot is countin' the fat parts?

(But, must admit, the M&A-bacus also got counts of 74 and 77, on other "trial" run-thru's. But couldn't get 'er up to 80, no matter how I counted 'em.)

hazel 1:26 PM  

I'm piling on - yea to @acme for Yappies!!!! And to the anon for her/his elegant explication of the theme!! And to the outlaw puzzle itself! Awesome. Took me a while to catch on, but like @milford i will blame it on the fact that i was solving out of my element (on paper).

@dk - to print from an ipad you need a wireless printer - they're super cheap now (they stick you on the ink cartridges!) but are well worth the upgrade IMO.

M and A's Last Rusty Bullet 1:35 PM  

Nope. 80's right. Forgot that there are 2 33-Downs and 2 54-Acrosses. Mind-bending little detail. Wrong again, M&A breath.

Outlaw M and A 1:43 PM  

P.S. But it's a 16x16 grid, too.

joefrombrooklyn 1:51 PM  

I would call this a medium. Theme came easily although I agree that BREAK doesn't seem to fit. SPLIT made more sense but in my mind they probably should have all been words that mean some variation of together. That mild quibble aside, it was a fun puzzle. I just found some spots tricky. I had trouble on the SE with ADANO on top of MARCO. Even more trouble was the PIZZA/ROTARY JOINT section. I guess as a New Yorker I'm not really familiar with the phrase PIZZA JOINT. Having that intersecting AYRES did not help. And, for some reason, I found the very solvable VEG and A LIE unsolvable. I had to sneak a peak at the answe VEG and then, with those 3 letters, the entire section got filled in.

chefbea 1:55 PM  

What a great puzzle. Got stumped a bit but then finished it with my neighbor down the street.

@Shamick..I have lavender scented poder that comes in a plastic container with a puff. I dab it on every day.

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

The NW which gave Rex his easy entry was the VERY LAST thing I figured out. Despite the explanations given here, I still can't see how FREE=LEISURE. FREE TIME=LEISURE, yes, but it seems to me FREE is an adjective and LEISURE is a noun -- always.

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

@Anon 1:59PM
I need more FREE time.
I need more LEISURE time.

RI Squasher 2:32 PM  

I'm a sports geek so sports clues are always welcome (I'm kind of the anti-Tobias) but I'm surprised no one is complaining about 37D (AERO). A minor league hockey team in Houston, TX seems a bit obscure to me. The Houston Aeros were also a World Hockey Association team in the 70's. Gordie Howe played for them.

Also, while 28D (ASHE) is technically correct no one actually calls it "Ashe Stadium". It is always "Arthur Ashe Stadium" or just "Arthur Ashe".

Bird 2:49 PM  

Just couldn’t get on the same wave as Ben and did not understand all the cluing. DNF, despite liking this puzzle. Two not-well-known names crossing (26A and 20D) forced me to guess wrong. I had “N” which makes sense and looks good for both answers. As someone posted the other day, last names can be spelled anywhichway.

FACT at 48D would not let go without a struggle. Houston has an NHL team? Oh, they have a minor league team. Crossing that with a song I never heard of, and maybe even never heard, made for a difficult time.

One malapop – LOCK for 35A.

@dk – My wife has an iPad and she downloaded an app for sending docs to our printer. We have a wireless printer, but I think there is an option of going through the Mac – not sure about a PC. I also wonder if you use the USB plug on the other end of the iPad cable.

JFC 3:07 PM  

There are 80 clues and I assume each answer is counted as one word, regardless of the actual number of words in the answer....


Milford 3:45 PM  

@Thoracic - I did the puzzle on paper, then entered on Magmic. The app for the iPod let me enter the answers in each square, duplicating the letters when necessary. For instance, pizza joint and rotary joint both entered, but then entered rajjas, eboon, abiit, minnx, and setta. It let me submit it this way and I got my "well done". Hope that helps.

Geof 3:55 PM  

Unfortunately IHT did not print double squares so theme was very hard to fathom, even after googling a few. A pity as the theme was great.

JFC 3:56 PM  

Of course, the grid is 16 x 16, not 15 x 15, so a higher word count is expected....


Arantxa Carla Michaels 5:24 PM  

Damn!!!! You are right! there it is in the Urban Dictionary...and I quote:
" yappie 13 up, 17 down
A yuppie with a cell phone growing out of their ear. In the 19th century, men carried big guns on their belts to make up for a lack of size in other areas. Cell phones have replaced the gun on the belt. A cell phone on the belt gives the wearer a since of importance.
"I am so important, I have to carry a cell phone on my belt so that people can get in touch with me anywhere and any time when there is a crisis that only I can handle."
It is hard to enjoy a meal in a restaurant with all the yappies constantly talking on their cell phones."

Well, you just saved me a ton of time trying to pitch an article to Slate!

Everyone! Come on out to Oakland Saturday!

And again, fabulous job, Ben, especially not casting a pall over the proceedings...quite the opposite, you little genius, you!

jae 5:29 PM  

@joefrom.. -- I think anon 2:01 has a more accurate take on the theme. Check out that post for why BREAK makes sense.

@Hazel & ACME -- I think you guys are right about what should constitute a Natick, i. e. intersecting WTFs. For the spelling challenged (my hand is up) though, I don't think crosses like NUREMBERG/OLEA are "personal" in that a lot of solvers make identical errors. So, it might be useful to identify pitfalls for the "spelling challenged" in some way. One of the reasons I started doing crosswords was to improve my spelling and so far it has helped.

Stevlb1 5:59 PM  

I got it........finally.......took a long time.......

ksquare 7:30 PM  

ASHE Stadium is a very short distance from what used to be called SHEA Stadium, a frequent crossword entry, in Queens, NY. Coincidence?
And please try to make the captchas
easier to decipher. This is my fourth attempt!

skua76 7:31 PM  

This old guy is VERY impressed by young Ben's work with this puzzle...it only makes me wonder how frequently Will gets out-of-the-box (ie app-unfriendly) grid arrangements. So far I have no complaints about any such published puzzles that I've seen to date. I'm just glad that I saw the note to print the PDF!

ksquare 7:32 PM  

Ha! I am not a robot.

Tobias Duncan 7:40 PM  

Almost got weepy during the Hitch video.
He is one of four celebrities in the past few years whose death actually bothered me.
The others are
David Foster Wallace
David Rakoff
William F Buckley
Not exactly sure why.

Zwhatever 7:47 PM  

(Almost) Always solve in the blue bag version, so problems with the app or printing or the like. Too little sleep and having to get to a meeting this morning, however, made this tough. Then tonight IBM and BARI were new to me, so a DNF.

Fun puzzle.

@JFC - since 8 of the clues are pairs, I'd argue that the word count is really only 76.

On the previous days "True Natick" discussion - I believe naticks are relative to the day. A Monday natick would not necessarily be a Wednesday or Saturday natick. For example, Monday's LUXOR/ELUL would not be a "true natick" on a Saturday, where ELUL can reasonably be presumed to be part of Saturday solvers crosswordese arsenal. On a Monday, though, its a natick in my book.

GILL I. 9:33 PM  

@Tobias: I too am a W. Buckley fan but his son Christopher, I think, is even better. If you haven't already, read his "Losing Mum and Pup." I told our son that I would hope he would remember the two of us in the same funny manner that C.B. did his parents.
His "They Eat Puppies, Don't They." is a funny, good read as well.

Tita 9:54 PM  

This was way hard for me!! Didn't know so many of those movies and names. Knew SAENS & ABBIE, inferred EZRAPOUND, but not much else.

@sparky - I like the anti-rebus observation!

And really like learning here about the together/apart distinction.

Thx Ben!

McSean 11:42 PM  

Too clever by half x doubled words = about a quarter of the fun I usually have with the puzzle. In the immortal words of Aeschylus (or maybe it was Bart Simpson) "this one blows."

Anonymous 11:43 PM  

A fun puzzle. I snickered a bit with "joint" next to "Abbie" Hoffman.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

Wonderful, clever, original puzzle. Ben Pall could be the next Berry or Gorski! Too bad such creativity is limited to Thursday and Sunday. I find it hard to believe that anyone thought that this was easy, especially given the misdirects. Noone else tried multiple letters in the large boxes, or wrote LOCK for LIEN, EGOTISM for EGOTRIP, EVE for EEN? Yes I figured it out, but it wasn't easy- it was a delightful thought -provoking journey.

xyz 10:30 AM  

This was a schoolboy trying too hard to be cute, NOT a cool mix of bad & awkward mis-directing clues trying to hard up a meh puzzle.

YAPPIE brought me to post again- used to be that doctors & drug dealers (pain doctors sadly are the same) used to have them. Now if you really are important, you have some a$$wipe answering the phone for you.

Ginger 1:12 PM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle. I think the theme is clever and original. Had most of the fill in, but the split answers eluded me for a time, then AHA.

Consider myself a sports fan,and a tennis fanatic; and although I've watched Sanchez-Vacario many times, I misspelled ARANTsA. She was like a little bumble-bee, buzzing all over the court. For her opponents it was like playing against a back-board. I understand she and her brother have established a tennis academy in Spain.

GOESape and PlaZAJOINT needed correcting, but no ream glitches.

Thanks Ben,

DMGrandma 2:59 PM  

Cute idea once I realized what was happening, but couldn't quite finish. CIVIcUNION hid the L in LEISURE, but I might not have gotten it anyway,as I join those who have trouble equating it with "free". VEG also escaped me. Had _EG and ran the alphabet, pronouncing it as in leg and peg, so no solution. Not having any idea about BELLA also hurt. However, I enjoyed the challenge of something new. It got the grey cells warmed up for the day!

Anonymous 3:45 PM  

What a tremendously great puzzle! Medium for me but well worth it. Kudos and blessing to young Mr. Pall.
Ron Diego

Spacecraft 4:55 PM  

Could not finish in the NW. Fatal error: laborUNION instead of trade. Once onto that, my brain just wouldn't let go, and I couldn't make anything work. I knew something was wrong, but what it was eluded me. Now seeing the answer, I could have a bone or three to pick.

"BRINGS on" for HIRES? No, that would be TAKES on. "Brings on" means a whole host of different things. To use it as a clue for HIRES is subversive at best, and downright unfair at worst.

"Free" for LEISURE? OK, one very narrow usage: as an adjective for "time." Sorry, but that clue goes beyond the pale.

And as for 25d, well, there are two choices: STANK and STUNK. So, I picked the wrong one, and so was trying to figure out what ENSA_S might be for "succeeds." Now I see it's ENSUES. This is yet another instance of a DELIBERATE red-herring clue. This whole section was designed NOT to be solved.

Dirigonzo 6:21 PM  

Original, fun, seemingly impossible then ultimately doable - loved it! Labor>TRADE, over>ALIE, and BirdS>BEAKS slowed things down some but speed is naver an issue for me. The funky grid gave me yet another reason to love solving on paper as the gimmick was apparent from the oversized squares. Favorite clue was Six-footer? for INSECT -it took a while to figure out what the clue wanted and then the obvious answer was the literal one. Last letter in was the x in MINX even though the cross made it seem improbable.

@Spacecraft - Lots of businesses bring on (i.e. hire) extra help for the holidays so that clue seems fine to me. I kind of liked the misdirection of the other clues; it makes me feel smart when I finally have the aha! moment.

Joe in Montreal 7:43 AM  

in syndication here. Leisure is a noun, free is an adjective. how does LEISURE solve for "free"?

Solving in Seattle 11:55 AM  

Ben Pall, I loved this puzzle. Worked on it, on and off, for two days.

My writeovers were 34D MeNuS before MINTS, and 55D fIlm before CINE. Oh, and I had GaZA before GIZA.

UNION & JOINT, and SPLIT & BREAK were super clever.

Will, bring us more of these.

Capcha: swanly. A new adjective for the graceful water fowl.

Speaking of fowl, @Dirigonzo, where do your osprey go once they're done raising their brood? And do you think mom and pop hang together during the winter?

Solving in Seattle 11:56 AM  


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