Greek colonnade / WED 10-31-12 / Macbeth recipe / Eternally nameless Chinese principle / Banned book of 1955 / Australian city named for naturalist / Aleph follower

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Constructor: Stu Ockman

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: WITCHES' BREW (64A: "Macbeth" recipe) — theme answers are a very incomplete list of ingredients from the WITCHES' BREW in "Macbeth"; each ingredient is clued [64-Across ingredient]:

[Kind of glad the puzzle excluded "liver of blaspheming Jew"...]

Word of the Day: Peter GELB (59D: Peter ___, general manager of the Met) —
Peter Gelb (born 1953[1]) is an American arts administrator. He is currently General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. (wikipedia)
• • •

Mixed feelings here. I like the basic idea, I think, and I appreciate a Halloween puzzle on Halloween. But these ingredients are not going to be familiar to anyone but a hardcore "Macbeth" aficionado (just as GELB (really???) is not going to be known as anybody who is not a hardcore NYC opera aficionado). So the solving the puzzle basically involves getting enough crosses to infer an answer creepy enough to sound like a brew ingredient, and those crosses really aren't very pleasing—there's a slew of mediocre short fill in this thing. Plus, these theme answers hardly form a cohesive group. They are merely four of a much, much longer list of ingredients. These four allowed for symmetrical grid placement, I guess. Doesn't seem like a tight enough grouping to justify building a puzzle around. These ingredients just seem too arbitrary. Thumbs up to PROBOSCIS (3D: Notable nose) and BISHOPRIC (37D: Seat of a Catholic official), though. Very worthy long Downs.

Had only one real struggle—the LEG in LIZARD'S LEG. I had HAH instead of HEH at 55D: Villain's chuckle and had noooo idea who GELB was, and since it's not as if LIZARD'S LEG is something very famous, I had to exhaust possible LA- words before I realized the "A" was wrong. Switched to "E" and answer was obvious (despite the fact that GELB looked like a wrong answer).

  • 7A: Billy of "Titanic" (ZANE) — I feel like he was somebody in the '90s (for instance, he was "The Phantom" in 1996), but now ... I don't know. I could picture him clearly, but it took me many seconds to retrieve the name.
  • 19A: "From my cold, dead hands!" sloganeer (NRA) — they adopted that Heston bull*$&% as their *actual* slogan? Oh ... turns out the slogan (not originally the NRA's, but definitely popularized by that org.) preceded Heston's famous anti-Gore speech. Alrighty.
  • 47D: Australian city named after a naturalist (DARWIN) — first thought: "DARWIN was a nudist?" I always get "naturalist" and "naturist" confused. Just an Al away.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Bird 12:06 AM  

@Rex - Glad to see you're back. And safe & sound I hope.

I am also hoping to get the paper in the morning so I have a puzzle to work on. Shall be a nice distraction.

Anonymous 12:13 AM  

This is about as dull as a crossword gets. The GELB / BRECHT cross took me out and I would expect to see a lot of victims here (though it isn't the only cross where people will be throwing darts and just hoping).

TheCapo 12:23 AM  

Really did not like this puzzle. The theme was OK I suppose, but like you mentioned unless you recently read Macbeth or are a hardcore fan, not all of those ingredients would jump out at you.

As for the fill, there were a bunch of crosses that I wasn't crazy about, i.e. GELB/BRECHT!?!

NW was the hardest for me because I have never heard of either Proboscis, ensler or sabu before!

Evan 12:34 AM  

Nose of Turk probably wouldn't have gone over too well, either, but I'd have laughed out loud if that were one of the entries.

I, too, had HAH and almost settled on both LIZARD'S LAP and LIZARD SLAW. The latter was a real hit at Macbeth's company softball game and barbecue.

To be fair, though, there were some bonus Halloween-related answers, even if they weren't clued as such. Cousin ITT, vampire BITES, the FLY, and a PROBOSCIS which was probably protruding from the FLY. My first exposure to the word PROBOSCIS was from this Homestar Runner cartoon. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Strong Bad and Homestar Runner -- if you've ever met puzzle speed demon Tyler Hinman at various crossword tournaments, you may have seen him wearing a t-shirt with a cartoon dragon called Trogdor. That's from Homestar Runner, only the funniest internet cartoon that ever was (until they stopped updating it two years ago).

m_crabb 12:52 AM  

To me, Billy ZANE is from Zoolander ("put a cork in it, Zane!"). Otherwise I felt pretty much the same. PROBOSCIS and BISHOPRIC were the stars, along with DARWIN Barney, Gold Glove winner ;)

jae 1:33 AM  

Easier than yesterday's for me.   Very clever Halloween theme and 2 fine long downs, but....too much iffy stuff.

Erasures: STeril for STABLE , erS to UhS to UMS,  and RtS for RDS.  Plus, wasn't sure about spelling PROBOSCIS, but BLIND looked better than BLUND.

WOE: GELB, I mean really.

LFC (Learned From Crosswords, stolen from whoever said it earlier this week):  OZAWA, ADREM, ABOU, SABU...

Adrem Carla Michaels 1:38 AM  

I totally enjoyed this puzzle!!!!
(And I am not saying that to be contrary!)

I found it very erudite and I was having tons of fun awaiting what the ingredients would be, as I only vaguely thought there were things like eye of newt or frogs legs (which helped me get LIZARDLEG)

I loved all the Zs (ZOWIE! OZAWA! AZTEC!) and how "cultured" the SE felt with BRECHT and LOLITA.

Even tho GELB was a big ??? for me, it's a very common Jewish last name (I think it just means yellow or gold) so inferable, but I guess I can see that that was a tough cross.

Anyway, totally loved it as I didn't know one theme answer and had to actually solve the puzzle to get them...wonder or wonders!!!

Liked the parallel EASEUP/LOOSEN.
Other answers had a lot of energy to them: SASHAY, SNAG, open FLY, that creepy NRA slogan, HEH and AAH.
Plus I have Lou RAWLS "You'll Never find Another Love Like Mine" going thru my head...not a bad earworm, considering.

Loved it, Stu Ockman! Smart, right amount of challenging, and cool to have BLINDWORMSSTING running thru the middle of a puzzle!!!!

Now to bed to get up for the Giants parade!


Oh! One mini-story...Upon my plane transfer in Australia this summer, I went from Sydney to Brisbane. My bags went from Sydney to DARWIN. Had never heard of DARWIN, but my clothes have been there!

chefwen 2:07 AM  

Is Lou RAWLS music making a comeback? Two day in a row for the guy, I really did like his style.

Spelled PROBOSCIS incorrectly and had a U in there (Hi M & A) but like @jae knew that BLuND WORMS made no sense so that was easily fixed. Had reSt UP at 32A, another fixer upper. Finished up and felt pretty good until I got to the blog and realized that I never filled in the first letter at 71A and the last letter at 59D. I'm not sure if I would have come up with a B.

Two days early week with a DNF, AAARGH!!

elaine2 3:01 AM  

I'm glad I'm not the only one who liked this puzzle! (Thanks, Andrea!)

GELB/BRECHT a no-brainer for me (musician by training) and I found getting the "Scottish play" quotes to be fun, even though I didn't specifically remember them.

Eve Ensler should be a household name....but along with the above was also a gimme for me...

Yup, I liked this one.

Happy Halloween to all!

Jeremy Mercer 4:57 AM  

I felt quite satisfied with having SLIPS OF YAK as one of my ingredients ...

George Barany 5:11 AM  

Peter GELB's biography on the Met web site is quite fascinating: , including many of his activities before taking on his current role. Besides, his father Arthur GELB is well known to anyone of my generation who grew up reading the New York Times. Nevertheless, couldn't the clue referred to the German word for "yellow" hence making the solver a bit less dependent on the crossing of two proper names from the cultural sphere? In the latter regard, Bertold BRECHT was Kurt Weill -- surely songs like "Mack the Knife" have made it into the more general sphere.
Switching gears, 50-Across marks the 28th time our current president with his unbelievably crossword-friendly name has made it to a Times puzzle. In contrast, his challenger's name has made it only once, in 2002, clued as "Hardy English sheep." Draw your own conclusions!

Glimmerglass 6:35 AM  

A agree with Carla. Good midweek puzzle. Nice variety of fields. I just got back from Vienna and Prague, so I'm easing back into the NYT puzzles. Got this one right, but it seemed hard. I'm out of practice.

Milford 7:13 AM  

On the challenging side for me. Wasn't able to figure out some of the delicious BREW ingredients, and was resigned to googling the Macbeth scene. Also had the reaction that the chosen list was random, but I understand why.

Was happy with myself for getting OZAWA, ENSLER, LOLITA, and BRECHT. Made me feel somewhat cultured.

Liked PROBOSCIS, ZOWIE, ESPRIT, and DARWIN. Never been to the SOO Locks. Had HaH before HEH, also.

BISHOPRIC is just an odd looking word, but cool for a crossword. I can't help but think it looks a little profane, though.

Took me a minute to figure out why the Steve Martin cover was included again.

Unknown 7:17 AM  

Was just ok for me. Best part was (as acm pointed out) that I had to actually *do* the puzzle to get the theme answers. I wasn't crazy about all of the fill-in-the-blank names: LUC, NORMA, ABOU, ITT, GELB. Glad I knew BRECHT or GELB would have been rough.

The Bard (without power) 7:23 AM  

Macbeth - Act 4, Scene i
[A Cavern. In the middle, a boiling Cauldron.]

[Thunder. Enter the three Witches.]

First Witch
Thrice the brinded Cat hath mew'd.

Second Witch
Thrice and once the Hedge-Pig whined.

Third Witch
Harpier cries: 'Tis time, 'tis time.

First Witch
Round about the Cauldron go;
In the poison'd Entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and Nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd Venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

Double, double toile and trouble ;
Fire burn and Cauldron bubble.

Second Witch
Fillet of a Fenny Snake,
In the Cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of Newt, and Toe of Frogge,
Wool of Bat, and Tongue of Dogge,
Adder's Fork, and Blind-worm's Sting,
Lizard's leg, and Howlet's wing,
For a Charm of powerful trouble
Like a Hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toyle and trouble,
Fire burn and Cauldron bubble.

Third Witch
Scale of Dragon, Tooth of Wolf,
Witches' Mummy, Maw and Gulf
Of the ravin'd salt Sea shark,
Root of Hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of Blaspheming Jew,
Gall of Goat, and Slips of Yew
Silver'd in the Moon's Eclipse,
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips,
Finger of Birth-strangled Babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a Drab,
Make the Gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a Tiger's Chaudron,
For the Ingredients of our Cauldron.

Double, double toyle and trouble'
Fire burn and Cauldron bubble.

Second Witch
Cool it with a Baboon's blood,
Then the Charm is firm and good.

OTD 7:38 AM  

Enjoyed this one for a Halloween Wednesday. Listened to the Met's production of the Neibelungen on PBS so heard of GELB. Enjoyed PROBOSCIS from the old Jimmy Durante days (after all, I'm OTD). Struggled on some of the more modern words like ENSLER but got them from crosses and guesses.

Nice puzzle, and thanks to @ The Bard for giving citing the entire speech of the witches. Didn't have to run to my Shakespeare to read it all. One the bard's most enjoyable creations.

Unknown 7:43 AM  

Count me in with those who enjoyed the puzzle. Didn't know the ingredients from memory, but I enjoyed puzzling them out. Great theme for Halloween!

Z 8:01 AM  

@Jeremy Mercer - I was likewise satisfied. OZAkA seems just as likely as OZAWA. And while AD REM is an LFC for me, AD RaM seems plausible.

This was a total mess for me, starting with putting TANYA at 12d instead of 11d. I also tried ENguLf before ENFOLD, saran before ALCOA, and UhS before UMS. Then I thought GELB was the NY Mets GM and wondered why I didn't recognize the name. At least BRECHT and LOLITA were gimmes.

This was a fun, challenging puzzle. I agree with ACM - I had to solve it, in some spots letter by letter. Lots of meh fill, but okay in the end.

jackj 8:28 AM  

“Something wicked this way comes”

By my quick count, the Bard listed at least twenty-three ingredients for “Macbeth’s” witches brew so Stu hasn’t given us a full-fledged crone’s cocktail, more like a carafe of Rumpole’s plonk.

Using four of the less familiar ingredients for the theme entries cleverly adds a soupcon of difficulty to the solve but our brew must be bland indeed with no “toad” and no “eye of newt”. (We’ll probably have to add something later on).

Some nice fill, starting first with people, a thumbs up for OZAWA and BRECHT, thumbs down for GELB but four cheers for that classy quartet of LOLITA, NORA, NORMA and TANYA.

NILS was good with its soccer score clue rather than the standard clue of “Rocker Lofgren”, RITUAL gave a gentle nod to the theme and PROBOSCIS looked like it was volunteering to be the official sniffer of the witches’ pot.

But, it’s SASHAY, a wonderful word that tickles the tongue when pronounced that is best of all.

Thanks, Stu for a clever Halloween treat!

Joe The Juggler 8:48 AM  

I liked the puzzle, but I disagree with the consensus on PROBOSCIS. A proboscis need not be notable or a nose (or even notable if a nose), so it's a pretty fuzzy clue.

Tyler Clark 9:05 AM  

Gelb is a hero of mine, so no problem there, but I didn't want to accept ESPRIT for Quick wit. And though I read Macbeth ages ago I couldn't believe a BLIND WORM'S STING was an actual thing (or even a fictional one, as may be).

joho 9:16 AM  

NORA’S UGLY, SNAGgle TOOTH dangled below her OLIVE-skinned PROBOSCIS as she SASHAYed up to the huge cauldron to begin her Halloween RITUAL. She stirred in a TOOTHOFWOLF and some SLIPSOFYEW then sprinkled in a BLINDWORMSSTING and finally a withered LIZARDSLEG which briefly FLOATed to the surface of the foul-smelling mixture before she SWATted it back down into the bubbling WITCHESBREW with her wooden stick. At last, with a long, satisfied AAH, she uttered with glee, “Whoever EATS this will be forever ATRISK. HEH, HEH, HEH, HEH, HEH!”

joho 9:19 AM  

I was hoping for a Halloween theme so I'm happy! The only ingredient I knew from memory was "eye of newt" so these were all new to me and fun to find along the way.

Thank you Stu Ockman and Will Shortz!

George Barany 9:20 AM  

Apropos of the holiday, I reacted with horror when my 5:11 a.m. post showed up with several key words having been written with the electronic equivalent of disappearing ink. What I meant to say, of course, was that Bertolt BRECHT was Kurt Weill's long-time lyricist in masterpieces of 20th century musical theater, including "The Threepenny Opera."

Here are youtube links to some of their songs:

Closing the loop (somewhat), the Metropolitan Opera had a tremendous success in the late '70's with Mahagonny, albeit long before being under the helm of Peter GELB.

dk 9:39 AM  

No Eye of Newt?

No knowledge of GELB or OZAWA but got both in the crosses. Epic fail was AdOU instead of ABOU. My trick, not treat.

So I often rant about function over form and this is a good example of the triumph of function. It is all hallows eve so a WITCHESBREW is just what any puzzle gourmand may desire. So what if a few of the clues are a bit obscure.

@Bard, I plan on handing out your post tonight.

@Evan, Thanks for the Homestar memories.

🌟🌟🌟 (3 Stars) 👻 Boo!

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

Thumbs up for Peter Gelb as it would be for Rudolph Bing. Why are there problems with having a well-known cultural icon as opposed to obscure sports figures. Fair is fair. This was easy Wednesday for this woman of a certain age.

DocRoss 9:47 AM  

@George Barany, or as we Brecht scholars prefer to say, Weill was Brecht's sometime composer.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

New rule:

The Taozawa Rule (a subset of the Natick Principle). No vowel crossings where the crossing words both originate in languages that use a non-Roman alphabet.

chefbea 9:59 AM  

tough puzzle. Only ingredient I remember is eye of newt...and it was missing.

Rawls 2 days in a row!!!

Happy halloween to all

Carola 10:00 AM  

I loved this one! I thought it was an inspired idea and great for Halloween. I liked the challenge of figuring out ingredients that are less well known than eye of newt and toe of frog (was hoping for the fillet of a fenny snake, but, sadly, it's too long to fit). I'm going to erase the grid and send the puzzle to my Shakespeare-teaching daughter.

As an opera fan, I read a lot about Peter GELB and I used to teach BRECHT, so those were easy for me but can imagine they are big question marks for many (perhaps as TANYA and ZANE were for me - I DNF because I guessed wANE).

@Evan - I loved the idea of LIZARD SLaw. Would go well with the OLIVE BITES (SW corner).

@joho - Love your story!

Thank you, Stu Ockman - delectable!

quilter1 10:17 AM  

A lot to like here. ZOWIE, BISHOPRIC, PROBOSCIS. We've seen OZAWA before. While I didn't know GELB, I knew BRECHT, so no problem there. So we needed some short crosses to get the theme answers. But they weren't the customary crossword dreck. They were OK. FLY, with a cute clue, SOO, UMS, and I liked FLOAT and OLIVE, although root beer and OLIVEs wouldn't be good together.
I say good medium puzzle with an interesting theme. What more can I ask?

HBrown 10:25 AM  

Great New Yorker cartoon of many years back:

Pair of witches tasting the brew in the cauldron. One is saying, "You forgot the eye of newt."

jberg 10:29 AM  

I read the clue for 59D as MetS rather than Met, and was going to complain about the obscure sports clue until I came here. Personally, I don't mind an obscure opera clue; I wish 41 D had been "Bellini heroine," and RAWLS as "theorist of the initial situation."

OK, I'm kidding about that - but I've gotta ask, if you've never heard of Bertolt BRECHT, why are you doing crosswords?

OK again, I've got it off my chest. My real point is that there aren't any areas of forbidden knowledge in crossworld. Take it as a learning opportunity!

I'm from Boston, so OZAWA was a gimme, and anyway he's a regular - still waiting to see Koussevitsky in a puzzle!

As for the theme, I enjoyed it - I never like it when you can just write in the theme entries, and all of these were very guessable, once I decided that there probably was no such thing as LIZARD SLaG.

And finally -- ABOU and SABU, NORMA and NORA, and a BLIND WORM'S STING sandwich between relax and relax! Pure fun.

Two Ponies 10:45 AM  

Many thanks to the Bard for the complete list. Hope your power is back soon. What a ghastly list it is indeed. Not only enough animal parts to create an endangered species list but also a dead baby's finger??!!
DNF because of the aforementioned Gelb/Brecht cross and up top I had wowie and never looked back. Wane made as much sense as any for a proper name.
Looking back I like this one better now than when I was solving it. I prefer my Halloween to be traditional with witches and ghosts and black cats. Unfortunately some of my neighbors are using it as an excuse to stage chain saw massacres and fatal accident scenes in their yards.

Carola 11:10 AM  

@jberg - I missed the NORMA-opera connection! It was hearing Joan Sutherland sing that role that made me an opera fan forever. "La Stupenda," no kidding!

The Bard 11:17 AM  

Actually @Rex you were more on point with LIZARDSLA__ than you might realize. In my first draft, the ingredient was LIZARD'S LABIA. Then the damned censors got wind of it, and it had to become LIZARD'S LEG. What's icky about a LIZARD'S LEG? Nothing, it was a pointless change. The damned French consider frogs legs to be a delicy, so how bad can a lizard's leg be.


Masked and AlwaysReadyForHalloween-amous 11:24 AM  

@31: Maybe this is a quickie witch brew recipe, for informal occasions. Hell--My friend Connie won't cook anything that takes over three ingredients. Don't see having to run a category, in order to use it in a xword theme. Get in the Halloween spirit, you spook.

I had much toil and trubble in my journey thru puzville today:
1. Wanted PROBOSCUS (hey back, chefwen).
2. Wanted SLIPSOFYAK. Almost sure that's right, in the Joy of Cooking version. Jeremy Mercer can back me up on this.
3. Wanted my momma, when I zipped into the SE corner minding my own business. ...HESBREW armlet helped, but...Danger, Will Shortz... er... Robinson! Kinda knew BETH in high school. Didn't know LOLITA, since she got banned. GEL? and ?RECHT were as scary as runnin' out of candy at 6:35.

Wonder if Connie leaves the LizLeg out, at her house...
Not sure how to count them U's, since I went with the PROBOSCUS var.

Sandy K 11:29 AM  

I agree with Rex's "Mixed feelings here" thru "very worthy long downs", but threw in Billy ZANE and DARWIN with no second thoughts.

I liked the idea of the theme, but preferred @joho's recipe- HEH HEH HEH!

@HBrown- That cartoon summed it up for me!
"You forgot the eye of newt."

syndy 11:31 AM  

Not knowing GELB I went with LIZARD"SLip,luckily SLIPSOFYEW made me revisit that!I kept waiting foe the NEWTSEYE to go in.(hate when that happens)put me in the plus column and I second JBERG on Brecht!Mr Ockman I see has crossed WITCHESBREW with BETH!Hint hint!.

Notsofast 11:42 AM  

Nice, quick, easy , fun Wednesday! I'm reminded it's about time to cook a Brunswick stew!

andy 11:42 AM  

Medium... Seriously? Between being utterly clueless on the Vagina Monologues and lacking value = LULL (?), this was simply not possible unless you actually remembered Macbeth from HS English. I was able to guess GELB from guessing LOLITA, but the center of the grid was one guess too many - BLIND EYE was the end for me.

Sounds vaguely familiar 11:49 AM  

@The Bard

Your LIZARDSLabia goes well with clue 27A.
and very reminiscent of ED...

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

Billy Zane - Dead Calm

Anonymous 12:09 PM  


Lacking value= NULL

JFC 12:15 PM  

It's days like this I miss Evil Doug. I can only imagine his comment about Acme, self-promoting her clothes.

Rex actually makes a fair comment today (he says, like Rex's comments are never fair). Whereas Acme sees this as erudite, one might see this puzzle as obscure.

In any event, it was different and interesting and I'm closer to Rex's reaction than Acme's.

Tita 12:20 PM  

Loved it!

One of my go-to shower songs:
3 deuces and a 4-speed, and a 389.

Syncronicity – watching “Inherit the Wind” while answering DARWIN.
Also ironic to have the Banned in Boston LOLITA to remind us of how narrow-minded folks can be, and how little has changed.

Talk about eclectic mixes…Tanya TUCKER, Lou RAWLS, Peter GELB, Seiji OZAWA, Berthold BRECHT, Eve ENSLER…knew them all excepting Eve.

I also had HaH, which gave me LIZARDSLaG – hey – Will uses some pretty bizarre words (Shakespeare, that is…hmm – I guess it applies to Shortz too.)

M and A of Newt 12:20 PM  

p.s. YEW further muddies the U-count today. But the "mean" U count might be six, I reckon.
Hey, Brew Stu dude ... cool puz, btw! Had lots of Farkle.

Recommended Trick or Treat surveys to run at yer house:
1. Ohbummer or Etchasketch?
2. Percent that say thanx. Or Happy Halloween, which also has Farkle.
3. For the weezler subgroup: hold out two different treats, one in each hand, and say "take yer pick!". Record percentage that grab both. Sub-survey: record percent that ignore offer, go inside, and just grab choice three out of yer candy bucket.
4. For those with extra candy to risk: Just leave the whole darn candy bucket outside, and record how long the contents last, on the honor system. Don't use a bucket you can't live without. Tip: will last longer, if you include somethin' weird in the bucket.

Happy All Hollow's Eve, y'all. Save me a Butterfingers.

Davis 12:42 PM  

A big fat "meh" for this puzzle.

I made short work of most of the grid, but the center was a bit of a disaster. BLIND WORMS STING was a total WTF until I had almost all the crosses. But I originally had UhS instead of UMS, which took me a bit to fix. SOO, RAWLS, and ENSLER was a big pile of "no idea" for me. I ended up just Googling ENSLER and figuring out the rest, because I wasn't having enough fun with this puzzle to justify experimenting in that area.

Moving away from my trouble spot, GELB is also a major WTF entry, though I never saw it because I got it on crosses. And I totally agree with Rex on the theme answers. I loved PROBOSCIS, I really liked SASHAY, and I'm tepid on BISHOPRIC. SABU is fill I'd be happy never to see again. And AD REM is one of those legal terms I only see in crossword puzzles — I graduated law school a few months ago, and never encountered the term during my three years there ("in rem," on the other hand, was not uncommon).

Kevin 12:43 PM  

STOA/SABU is just ugly.

Wicked 12:57 PM  

@M&A. You are one scary customer. Great bucket list.

@Tita. LIZARD SLAG. Gets the blind worm's blue ribbon.

Evan 1:26 PM  

@dk and other Homestar Runner fans:

It is absolutely unconscionable how I could mention a connection to Homestar Runner and completely miss the most obvious one: WITCHES' BREW. It's one of Homestar's recurring phrases, heard in episode after episode after episode after episode.

lawprof 1:37 PM  

Count me among those who, once the theme was apparent, kept looking for "eye of newt." Funny how that ingredient seems to be the most memorable. Can't for the life of me understand why; all the others seem equally disgusting from a culinary standpoint.

Have to agree with @Davis 12:42 pm who, as a recent law graduate, had never run across the term AD REM (12D). I've practiced/taught law for 40-something years and I'm pretty sure I have never encountered it in either spoken or written form. Sometimes I think crossword constructors take a random English word or phrase, translate it into Latin and dress it up as a "legal term." (I'll stop now with the ad hominem attacks).

Lojman 1:45 PM  

I know that NRA slogan from at least two movie references:

In Red Dawn (the Patrick Swayze version, not the coming re-make), the slogan is seen on a bumper sticker on the back of a pick-up truck. The camera then pans down to, you guessed it, a gun being held by a cold dead hand. An invading Soviet soldier obliges the bumper sticker's offer.

Men in Black. The alien crashes into a redneck farmer's field. The farmer peers into the hole in the ground, from which a voice orders: "Place projectile weapon on the ground!" The farmer recites Old Man Charlton's favorite line, to which the alien voice replies: "Your proposal is acceptable."

Good times. This puzzle, on the other hand, not so much.


Bird 2:01 PM  

DNF because of the level of obscurity in this puzzle. Maybe this should have been a Sunday puzzle with a larger grid to allow for more ingredients and more gettable crosses.

21A was SL*PS OF YAK. I thought 7D was ZOWIE, but could not figure out what a SLIP was on a YAK. I should have gotten 12D, but YAK looked too good and I thought all the theme answers were parts of animals. Seiji who??

BRECHT crossing GELD (as clued) is not fair. I do not know who either person is (and I see I’m not the only one). I got LIZARD’S LEG but 59D could have been any number of answers and I was leaning towards GELD and GELT, which would have been wrong either way.

And WITCHES BREW looked wrong as I thought it was WITCH’S BREW.

A few more spots were difficult, but I was able to infer and guess my way through them.

I was disappointed that there was no EYE OF NEWT and thought there were too many 3-letter answers.

Happy Humpday!

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

I agree with jberg. Part of the pleasure of the puzzle is in learning. I knew proboscis right away via Durante but had forgotten the spelling. Other noses of note:
Tristam Shandy, Cerano and Gogol's. A fun word.
I had not thought of J. Rawls for a long time but it occurs to me that he hit the big time in the same year as Nozick.

Lewis 2:36 PM  

I guessed quite a bit this puzzle, and all my guesses were right, so it left me feeling pretty good. The puzzle certainly has a Halloween feel. Getting into the mood for tonight. I happen to live in a place that gets 700-800 kids!

JohnV 3:00 PM  

A good one. GELB okay, ZANE/ODIN cross not so much.

Good to have the paper today. Rowayton really got pounded by Sandy. Gonna be an ugly couple of weeks.

John Muir 3:23 PM  

'I always get "naturalist" and "naturist" confused'

We're frequently one and the same.

Two Ponies 3:56 PM  

@ Bird, I thought you might be onto something about witch's v witches but if you punctuate it witches' brew then it works. There was more than one witch in the kitchen.

sanfranman59 4:09 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)

Wed 11:36, 11:50, 0.98, 49%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:34, 5:57, 1.10, 77%, Medium-Challenging

(Easy-Medium rating in both groups when using just the previous 12 weeks of Wednesday puzzles as the standard)

It looks like we'll have a second straight day with a record low number of online solvers. We're at 349 now and the previous low since June 2009 is 408. It's unlikely that we'll get to that number today. I assume this is still related to Sandy.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you who've been affected by the storm. I can't begin to imagine what some of you have been through.

Anonymous 4:14 PM  

Why is "eye of newt" so memorable?

Acc. to Google

"This line, uttered by the three ugly witches in one of the most familiar phrases associated with witchcraft."

"Eye of newt is thought to be a common name for a magical/medicinal herb, not the eye of a living newt."

"...referred to the seed of the wild mustard plant, which could look like the small yellow eyes of the newt."

"Eye of newt" has been commercialized and propagated to represent the names of businesses, retail stores, and at least one musical group. The term is currently being used in a popular computer game."

Or maybe it reminds us of Mr. Gingrich?

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

Worst puzzle of the year. Should have been distributed to visitors at Shakespearean plays in Stratford, Ontario only, not the general public vis a vis the NYT.
Who cares about MacBeth or Shakespeare? What percentage of the population? This puzzle is a prime example of why people I know stop doing NYT crosswords.
A theme devoted to Shakespeare. Are you kidding me?
Does one actually feel smarter if they knew these theme answers? If so, a reality check is overdue.
Waste of time. Only completed because I guessed right.

Bird 4:28 PM  

@Two Ponies - Absolutely right. Witches' Brew is what they are concocting in the kitchen.

Sparky 4:35 PM  

Lights went out 8:30 Monday night. ConEd, Verizon, AT&T all down. So delighted Times delivered this AM that I ran downstairs without keys and locked myself in the foyer. neighbor let me in. Oy veh!

All that being the case, loved this puzzle and yesterday's too.

Have moved to a friend's apartment. She lives north of the blaackout area. Glad everyone in CT and upstate is okay.

ksquare 4:36 PM  

@ Acme 1:38 & Bird 2:01 GELB is yellow and GELT is gold. GELD is something nasty for horses. Just sayin'
Cant make out mystery word below. Must try again.

Reality Check 4:47 PM  

@Anon 4:18 I'm betting that (virtually) no one knew the theme answers off the top of their head. No one. They weren't expected to. What everyone who's graduated High School has done is suffer through reading MacBeth, and has at least been in the room when the scene was read or discussed. That's the sum total of my experience with MacBeth. That's all that was expected, that everyone is aware of the scene where a bunch of Witches were adding odd stuff to a cauldron.

You fill in what you know and end up saying 'BLINDWORMSTING' is a thing? Well damn! I can't say whether the 'Well damn!' was worth it or not, but that's the nature of any themed puzzle.

dk 5:34 PM  

@Anon and @Reality, Sorry to dis the NULL hypothesis (wait that was another day), but I knew them all and I feel superior because of it. Do you want me to recite the Raven?

Halloween was a big deal when I was in school. The Women from Scripps came to one Halloween party as punctuation marks. I was a baby in diapers with a little pocket in the back from which I offered up tootsie rolls- those were the daze.

@Evan, if I am up late tonight watching Homestar I will happily blame you. Maybe some Invader Zim for dessert .

Anonymous 6:22 PM  

How often has "vagina" been in a clue? Sure Eugene T. Never used it, and certainly not Will Weng.

Clark 6:41 PM  

@davis and @lawprof -- If you ever took admiralty law you would have run into the phrase 'ad rem'.

Here's a quote from Gilmore & Black: "[T]he ship, personified, is itself ? or herself ? the defendant in a proceeding in rem to enforce a lien. The ship is 'the offending thing'; the lien itself is, in an obscure Latin jingle which has been so often repeated that it is no longer polite to inquire what it means, jus in re rather than jus ad rem." GILMORE & BLACK at 589.

I took Admiralty back in the day from Charlie Black. He sat at a desk in the front of the class, and whatever admiralty issue he started with would turn into some discourse on constitutional law.

Bob Snead 6:43 PM  

Couldn't finish this and (gasp!) didn't know any of the theme answers by heart, and still thought this was a great puzzle.

I guess things don't have to be perfect to be good. Whiners: suck it up!

Favorite quote of the day: (@anon 4:18) "a theme devoted to Shakespeare. Are you kidding me?"


chefwen 7:25 PM  

@joho does it again. Loved your story!!

sanfranman59 10:05 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 6:25, 6:47, 0.95, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 10:10, 8:58, 1.13, 85%, Challenging
Wed 11:45, 11:50, 0.99, 52%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:41, 1.00, 55%, Medium
Tue 5:45, 4:41, 1.23, 97%, Challenging (7th highest median solve time of 175 Tuesdays)
Wed 6:23, 5:57, 1.07, 73%, Medium-Challenging

Misspriss58 10:10 PM  

No power or cell service so I had a captured audience of a teen and trivia savy husband. I think they were ready to put me in the cauldron, but they really do deserve the credit for the solve. Wish I could have them stranded here for the Saturday! We loved the theme and ingredients! They still read Macbeth in high school!!

Misspriss58 10:15 PM  

Savvy oops

Tita 10:42 PM  

@Sparky - lol!!! So glad that you're doing alright. We lost power for a mere 21 hours. Very lucky, considering the devastation elsewhere.

syndy 10:46 PM  

As I sat nodding-nearly napping suddenly there came a tapping-as of someone gently rapping,rapping on my chamber door

Anonymous 1:19 AM  

"and the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me--filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

How is the poet supposed to know some terror if he hasn't
felt before?. It must be some totally out of date old timers thing.
No wonder he wants the damn bird outside his chamber door. He is trying to finish the puzzle in record time , and the bird knows like two words! Lenore, Nevermore, ugh!

Anonymous 5:55 PM  

Just now catching up on this week's puzzles. Did not really like this one but here is a bit a trivia. Eve Ensler is Dylan Mcdermott's adoptive mother. His biological mother was sadly murdered when he was a child. Cannot wait to see his guest appearance on American Horror Story.

Spacecraft 11:10 AM  

Guess I would've appreciated the theme more if it had appeared in Syndiland around Halloween. In the first week of December it's "so what?" There are some things I liked: crunchy letters and a pretty serious attempt at constructing a "guide to kulchur." ALSO the twin "relax"-es in the center, as @Acme mentioned and the long downs as per OFL.

But lots more I don't like. How in Tophet do you get ESPRIT out of "quick wit?" That is NOT what that means, but every cross worked, so...whatever. AAH crossing HEH? There wasn't some way to clean that up? And, could we please just recruit all these ONEA's and send 'em off to war, already? I'm tired of seeing 'em.

My overall impression of this is: UGLY.

rain forest 2:47 PM  

Well, @Spacecraft, I wouldn't call it ugly, but maybe a little homely.
I was with many others who had to guess in several places, and just because I guessed correctly everytime doesn't mean much. I was really looking for "eye of newt". I mean, if that had been in there, this puzzle would have been fabulous. As it is, it's obscure but OK.

DMGrandma 4:03 PM  

A year of Shakespeare in college didn't help with this one. With all the plotting and such going on, who paid that much attention to an arcane list of cauldron ingredients? So, like others, I struggled to piece them together, implausible as some sound. My two ?'s were the B at square 71, which I guessed correctly, and the Z at square 7, where I guessed incorrectly. I had no idea about Billy's name, and decided wOWIE was the probable exclamation. I guess I really should see "Titanic" someday!

Wishing you a belated Happy Hallloween!

Waxy in Montreal 4:16 PM  

Agree with @Spacecraft that this puzzle certainly loses much of its punch by appearing in December rather than on Halloween.

Personal Nattick: not knowing ADREM, had ADEEM at 12D which gave me the NEA rather than the NRA at 19A. Thought at the time the quote was odd to be associated with an educational group but rationalized it as a somewhat bizarre way of requesting bequests for academic institutions. The mind is indeed a wonderful thing, though ofttimes wrong.

Dirigonzo 6:56 PM  

Finished with no errors only because Puzzle Partner (the "Weekend" part seems pointless on a Wednesday) knew BRECHT. Nice to see the LLAMA appear so soon after TWOL was in the grid - synchronicity! I Only knew OAR because I learned what biremes and triremes are from this blog. I really, really wish I still had my '65 GTO.

Best rationalization for a wrong answer award goes to @Waxy for his explanation for confusing NeA with NRA - the mind is indeed a wonderful thing.

WHS 8:17 PM  

Waxy, worth the effort to find a clip (no pun intended) of the original Heston speech. WHS

Anonyrat 5:58 AM  

@ ksquare 4:36 PM - Actually, GELT is money, gilt is gold (plated).
@ Clark 6:41 PM - Why would anyone take admiralty law? We're not living in the 1800s anymore (except the NYT xword puzzle constructors).
caphcha - "okeepol" - Interswamp police?

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