Gulf of Finland feeder / THU 1-24-13 / Madness put to good uses per George Santayana / Several Boris Gudonov parts / Decorative melody added above simple musical theme / Title boy in Humperdinck opera / Small image displayed in browser's address bar

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Constructor: Michael Shteyman

Relative difficulty: Medium (6:25)

THEME: -TRA — I think.

Word of the Day: DESCANT (66A: Decorative melody added above a simple musical theme) —
  1. also dis·cant (dĭs'-Music.
    1. An ornamental melody or counterpoint sung or played above a theme.
    2. The highest part sung in part music.
  2. A discussion or discourse on a theme.

Read more:
• • •

Unless there's something I'm missing, I'd hardly call this a theme. It's essentially a (pretty decent) themeless w/ a bunch of symmetrically arranged answers that end in -TRA. Shteyman brings the Russian yet again, but this time in a more subtle, less obscure kind of way (via NEVA, TSARS, and Mussorgsky (50A: Several "Boris Gudonov" parts => BASSI). You've got at least three stray TRAs in this grid, which I find mildly distracting (though not abhorrent). Couple of partials right off the bat (A PAR, AN IN), some awkward plurals (ERICS, AFTS). Some interesting fill here and there, like FAVICON (17A: Small image displayed in a browser's address bar) and the Porsche CARERRA (65A: Line of Porsches whose name is Spanish for "race"). Not much to say about this one. I did it. My time was normal. Nothing really held me back. The end. (But I'll go on for a bit anyway, just ... 'cause).

Theme answers:
  • 19A: Subject of a 2010 biography subtitled "The Voice" (FRANK SINATRA)
  • 11D: Dangerous family (COSA NOSTRA)
  • 20D: Colorful fish (NEON TETRA)
  • 39A: Tabloid TV show co-hosted by Mario Lopez ("EXTRA")
  • 29D: Affair of the 1980s (IRAN-CONTRA)
  • 55A: Compact since 1982 (NISSAN SENTRA)

Got totally stumped (unsurprisingly) by the somewhat high-end musical clues (in this case BASSI — I had -ASSI and still had no idea what was up — and DESCANT). Somewhat slow going early on—even though BANANAS was a gimme (1A: Chiquita import), it was so much of a gimme that I didn't trust it, and when I could only make a couple of the crosses work, I abandoned that corner to work elsewhere. Had BASH for BOFF (1D: Sockeroo). Did not connect the NEVA with the Gulf of Finland (3D: Gulf of Finland feeder). Needed the majority of the crosses to get SANITY (7D: "Madness put to good uses," per George Santayana). REAMER also required nearly every cross to come into view (26D: Metalworker's tool). Basically, if the fill came from a highly specialized vocabulary, it eluded me for a while. ADSORBS I somehow remembered, at least partially (a cross or two triggered it) (16A: Gathers on the surface, as a layer of molecules). I don't quite get how 9D: First lady of the 1910s is just a first name. Usually the clue needs a clear signal that the name will be first and not last. Whose wife is EDITH, anyway? Wilson? Yes, though clue could've read [First lady of the 1900s] and been equally true (T.R.'s second wife was also named EDITH).

OK, now I'm really done.

Today's L.A. Times puzzle is one of mine. I'll link to it as soon as it becomes available. (Try this)

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:07 AM  

Pretty subtle theme.  And, in addition to the six theme answers there are two ERA and four single A endings.  Seems like a lot of As.  This seemed medium to me, just about the right amount of crunch. Catching the theme half way through helped.  

Erasures: ulnae for RADII and hEad for TETE. 


Pretty zippy Thurs., in addition to the theme answers...CARRERA, ABUTTAL (sounds vaguely off color), SWAINS, REAMER (see previous paren), ABREAST(...), STD (?)...  I liked it, but it fails on the "clever/tricky puzzles onThurs." criteria.

Random rant only slightly puzzle relevant:  When NewsWeek went digital I could get it on my iPad for a while, now I can't.  Tried emailing them and got some sort of stock reply.  So, far they aren't taking any calls.  I'm a tad pissed!

Um, It's not for me, it's for my little brother. Honest. Seriously, it is, I swear 12:17 AM  

I think this whole puzzle was a product placement for SEXTRA, that being the only reason to fashion a puzzle around six TRAs

C. Ross Word 12:20 AM  

Nice, clean puzzle from Michael Shteyman with great fill: ADSORBS, FAVICON, YOWZA, ABUTTAL, DESCANT, SWAINS. Trouble in the NW until hEad gave way to TETE.

Interesting: FRANKSINATRA crossing COSANOSTRA (he never crossed them in real-life).

Also: Sockeroo...BOFF; "Kapow!"...BAM; bleedovers from yesterday's comments?

Fun Thursday!

Anonymous 12:25 AM  

Seemed themeless to me. The "sockeroo", "Finland feeder", "browser image" combo in the NW did me in.
Seemed a little unfair (sour grapes for a DNF perhaps).

Joma 1:24 AM  

Liked the TRA theme. Got stuck though with the northwest corner

Agra Carrera Moans 1:25 AM  

Stumped on FAQ ICON? FAn ICON?
FAVICON/NEVA i would never have guessed. Well, maybe if I had 20 guesses.


YOWZA, I didn't know you could just end things with the same letters, but it makes me happy, bec it means more possible themes!

Last week too...wasn't there a theme where things just had ends?
Oh yes, the end is NEAR...

I kept looking of a reveal, a unifying phrase, or anagram. Or that it was N-TRA, till the whole TETRA thing (I missed EXTRA as a theme)
you had siNaTRA, NosTRA, coNTRA, seNTRA,!?

I don't know, skeptical, but it's playing with words, so that's what it's all about. I tried it with ---OLA ten+ years ago and got a no.
But now I think I might try it again and just make a better puzzle.

Bleedover: EEL
and KILL became SLAY. NICE!

with your risque list of ABUTTAL, STD, REAMER, ABREAST, you left out BOFF, MOAN and REAR. DE NADA! ;)

Would've liked a Woody Allen clue for 1A.

chefwen 1:28 AM  

@C. Ross Word - YOWZA, just read the late comments from yesterday. Hoo Boy, glad I was out of the fracas.

Struggled with today's and pulled another DNF on a Thursday, hope it's not another run of 3 DNF's like last week. Had the most trouble in the NW, won't go into detail as it would put most of you to sleep. Oh, you probably already are.

@Rube - What did you decide on the new kitty's name?

Anonymous 1:36 AM  

Had more problems getting started on the whole right side, it seemed. Highlight for me was getting NISSAN SENTRA off just the N.

Rube 2:02 AM  

Like @jae and others to follow, had hEad before TETE.

Had the most trouble with FA?ICON. Tried 4 possibilities before sttlling on "V". Otherwise, a straightforward puzz.

Really don't agree on YOU "yeah" YOU. What the hell is this about?

ACE as "PAL"...? sounds like an old Bogie movie.

UAR as "Bygone political initials"... that's UAE.

Talk show times are anytime after 9 AM on my radio.

Ah yes, ANGORA. Brings back fond memories of my youth when the tender young things wore these sweaters. Do they still wear these?

Good puzzle!

acme 2:16 AM  

you know, now that I notice all the answers cross and that NEONTETRA crosses THREE of the theme entries, I'm wowed.

Rube 2:18 AM  

@chefwen, Misty is our our new cat's name. Eastern philosophical names were being considered when it was realized that two previous kitties, Jos 7 & Kismet,. had met untimely deathes.

Rube 2:20 AM  

that's "Jos & Kismet had met untimely deaths"

chefwen 3:10 AM  

@Rube - Pictures please! Can't wait to meet the new Christmas Card Kitty.

Elaine2 3:25 AM  

One question: I don't get 12D -- how is "ORT" a "Meal Morsel?"

Otherwise, this was ok -- I also had trouble with FAVICON/NEVA, wasn't wild about the "theme," but puzzle was ok.

chefwen 3:31 AM  

ORT - A morsel left after a meal. Scrap.
Skippy's favorite thing in the whole wide world.

syndy 3:59 AM  

My only write overs were Ulnae and Kills.An okay thursday although YOWZA and BOFF were a little weak.Kind of echoey APAR/ASPER BASSI/EMBASSY QBUTTAL/ABREAST.A pair of?

Z 6:13 AM  

I did this last night in Play Against the Clock mode. My computer started off not liking the Java application - screaming at me in grey (or gray) that the Java version has security issues. I started the app anyway. Then I realized I couldn't read the clues completely and hit "enlarge the grid." This took me back the warning so I had to restart the app in my browser. The clock was still going but my answers were gone. Not enjoyable. And the grid itself in the app is just kind of ugly. The lines of the grid and the font used make it seem very dated to me.

For those of you who didn't read the late posts from yesterday, John Stewart (While doing that liberal bias thing of quoting politicians when they're being hypocritical) made a "Paul Rean" reference. Makes me wonder if the horned duck is really JS.

Oh - today's puzzle. Seemed pretty meh. Since I prefer solving in the paper and only dabble in online solving on occasion, perhaps that colored my reaction. But if you have to go looking for the sparkle maybe its not really there, though.

MetaRex 6:44 AM  

A pretty smooth solve. The puzzle might have sung a bit more if there had been three thematic answers ending in TRA and three ending in LA.

Tra (La La)

Z 6:45 AM  

LA Times crossword gets delivered to my doorstep on Thursday and Friday so I got to do OFL's puzzle this morning. A much more fun solve than the NYT's today.

WA 6:48 AM  

Favicon sounds like some Hollywood type who is doing hard time.

Crossing clue:Luddite who thinks this neologism is stupid and worse that it used in a puzzle.

OTD 7:06 AM  

Didn't get the theme at all, but loved the fill, especially FAVICON, BOFF, DESCANT, and FRANK SINATRA crossing COSA NOSTRA.

Agree that a Woody Allen clue for BANANAS would have been nice.

Milford 7:14 AM  

Tricky Thursday for me, I never saw the theme. Wish I had, as it may have helped me with the entire North earlier. Had to google FAVICON and EDITH to finish, so DNF here.

Wrote in BANANAS right off the bat, but doubted it the whole time. Hand up for hEad before TETE.

Knew immediately that 25D was Diana, but were we really still calling her LADY DI at the time she died?

Finished puzzle feeling a little blah, but maybe I was just missing the rebus or similar maneuver.

I can confirm that Jon Stewart deliberately mispronounced Paul Ryan as Rean last night. I though it was funny that he even brought up Paul as his main opening monologue, but now I think he did it just to make that "error". Too funny.

Elle54 8:00 AM  

My only error was faNicon. So you think Stewart reads this blog?

wordie 8:04 AM  

Or someone on his staff. Lets not scare them away.

wordie 8:07 AM  

I'm having problems commenting on my iPad, anyone else? It just freezes before I finish. I think the 1A clue/answer are incorrect. Clue means successful performance or something like that, answer means have sex. Meh puzzle tho some nice fill as has been pointed out.

Unknown 8:33 AM  

@wordie, it's a common issue. Someone directed me to go to the web version at the bottom of Rex's home page...problem solved.

I thought this was pretty easy for a Thursday, but I assumed it was themeless until I got here and then DOH! (Head slap)

joho 8:35 AM  

FRANKSINATRA was riding in his NISSANSENTRA while discussing IRANCONTRA on his way to see the COSANOSTRA.

That was a far as my theme got. Nice to see the rest here.

Because this did seem more a themeless to me I sort of missed the expected tricks and twists we might get on a Thursday.

Tita 8:42 AM  

Surprised to see FAVICON, since it is an extremely obscure and technical term. I only know it having designed a few web sites.
I suppose the theme was mroe of a technical achievment to construct than a fun solve.
Well, it was still a good solve, just not the tricky Thursday I hope for.

Here's some more good stuff: Crossing SWAINS with HANSEL, NAP above LIE, PITSTOP & CARRERA, the symmetric "I" plurals RADII & BASSI (alright, that last one's a stretch...)

Anyhow, thanks Mr. S.

Dr. Fartmonster 8:55 AM  

1. No way this was intended to be a Thursday, right?

2. Anyone have a problem with the clue for 30-Across: Word before and after "yeah", for the entry YOU? Seems a little not-quite-in-the-language. I get it, but still.

3. Regarding some of yesterday's comments: does making up a completely fake name somehow make you less anonymous than someone who just uses the name "anonymous"?

evil doug 8:56 AM  

Tried to use 'Paul Ryan clan' as the dangerous family, but it wouldn't fit. Same with 'Kennedy's'--Mary Jo, we hardly knew ye. Wasn't there a suspected link between Frank Sinatra and the Cosa Nostra?

Turning the shortest clue---'two'---into a three-word answer is a clever gambit.

I always thought "Artemis" was a guy's name (wasn't it Ross Martin as Artemis Gordon in 'The Wild, Wild West' with Robert Conrad?).

When we went steady in junior high, we'd buy 'friendship rings' at Kresge's, and the girls wrapped them in angora yarn.

Agree with Joho, et al: Miss my Thursday tricks. But lots of vivid entries (or 'entrees'), so not complaining too much.

Quilter: Hope you made it to the game last night...


B Donohue 9:02 AM  

If I had remembered the headline below, EZINES would have been more intuitive. Though I still dislike that word, which has been clued several times. (

I missed a few tiles in the east and northwest, thanks to a problem also with FAVICONS (never heard of them). I had S--IN, but couldn't get SWAIN even though I am certainly used to seeing the clue "Beauty's swain" as a clue for "beast."

Thanks, Rex.

ECNC 9:05 AM  

Just did LA Times. Enjoyable. Recommend

Elle54 9:07 AM  

Ok, what about this? Extra is in the middle...that's the reveal. Ex=x=cross Tra's that cross.

So a favicon is a thing? Thought it meant Fave Icon as in favorite.

jackj 9:10 AM  

We have the TRA(s) but no LA(s) or Fa(s) or Sha Na Na(s), so let’s play Peggy Lee and ask:

“Is that all there is?”

And the answer is “No”!

In fact we have a terrific puzzle from Michael but the way the “theme” is introduced (or rather, not introduced) it seems to denigrate his work, leaving it wrapped in awkwardness, looking for someone to introduce it to Crossworld.

Forget the “theme” then and consider the fill, colorful, clever and carefully contrived:

“It may have one or two sides”, that’s an ENTRÉE;

Michael goes all “Variety”-ish with BOFF for “Sockeroo”;

MOAN along with George H. W. Bush asking, “Broccoli again?”;

“Quick break” doesn’t get you a cup of coffee, it gets you a tire change at a PITSTOP.

New words to enliven one’s vocabulary, (or old friends not seen for years), are treats that sparkle---FAVICON, DESCANT ADSORBS, SWAINS, maybe even YOWZA, if you’re of a mind or Santayana’s SANITY quote.

And of course there are the TRA(s), none of which are very exciting with the possible exception of the group that slays together to stay together, the COSANOSTRA, but there are six TRA(s) and that makes for a “theme” and to think we could have had a “Yes, we have no BANANAS” theme starting at 1 Across.

Thanks, Michael, with your indulgence I’ll just praise this as a Thursday themeless extravaganza!

Elle54 9:10 AM  

Try pushing publish or preview til it unfreezes

John V 9:23 AM  

Really liked this one, even though not seeing the theme. Thought is was FANICON. Oh well. Lots of really fun fill, esp DASCANT, BASSI. Great, fresh clue for AGRA. Liked APAIROF. Excellent puzzle.

Have a copy of the dead tree version of @Rex' latest opus, next in queue. Congrats on your latest, boss!

John V 9:38 AM  

Or DESCANT, if you prefer.

jberg 9:48 AM  

I never saw the theme, I'm embarrassed to say - and if I'd thought about EXTRA, I'd have thought it was some sort of substraction rebus - take TRA out of words and use what's left. But the bill was good. I spent a week in Leningrad back when it was Leningrad, so NEVA was easy - otherwise I too would have struggled with FAV ICON; that's an icon on your favorites bar, right? But you drag them there from the address bar, so the clue is correct.

I think of DESCANT as either a high harmony, or else just the top part of a piece - but I see from Rex's quoted definition that the clue is also a valid meaning. That leaves me with only one quibble, namely that the COSA NOSTRA is composed of a number of families, not just one. (Well, two quibbles - "YOU, yes YOU" I've heard; with YEAH, not so much.

I'd better go read yesterday's late comments, sounds like I missed something.

chefbea 10:00 AM  

Got that all the answers ended in TRA but figured there had to be more to it.

On my Mac, at the top are my favorites...not favicon.

Wonder if we will have 113 comments today like we did yesterday....youza!!!

Notsofast 10:09 AM  

This seemed more like a Tue or Wed puzzle to me. Pleasant enough, but lacking an irritating Thurs twist.
I guessed at FANICON and NENA crossing a natick for me. Oh, well. Like Duke win some, some are a DNF!

Milford 10:28 AM  

@Rex - thanks for the LA Times link - great puzzle! Loved 39D.

Two Ponies 10:34 AM  

Nice puzzle but I missed having a trick on Thursday.
@ Evil Doug, I had that exact thought as I wrote Artemis.

lawprof 10:42 AM  

Seemed a little on the easy side for a Thursday. Would have been even easier if I'd picked up the theme (if it is a theme), but I didn't. Actually, I did notice the surfeit of TRAs, but just assumed them to be coincidental, so they didn't help with the fill.

As a themed puzzle, this was a pretty weak effort; as a non-themed puzzle, it was wonderful. How can that be?


(This is my 3d attempt at cracking the captcha)

jae 11:04 AM  

@ED and Two Ponies -- Me too for ARTEMIS Gordon. Made me doubt my answer for a second or two.

Sandy K 11:06 AM  

Surprised that the theme was TRA...was hoping for more.

Nevertheless, it was a fun solve for me- having met FRANK SINATRA at the Fontainbleu Hotel. He was dining with Mia Farrow and Paul Anka, and maybe the COSA NOSTRA. He was friendly and fabulous- with big blue eyes! (I was a mere child.)

Someone WARNED me that I should clean out my cookies to speed up my pc...deleted lots of FAVICONS!

Liked the EXTRA TRA in the middle.

Carola 11:09 AM  

An ode to a favorite crossword syllable - thought that was very cute. But I had to look at the grid for a while after finishing until I found the theme. At first I thought there might be some sort of anagramming going on.

Really liked this puzzle, lots of great words - DESCANT, SWAINS, ARTEMIS, ANGORA... Unknown to me: FAVICON; luckily knew NEVA, from Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky, of all things.

mac 11:27 AM  

Medium and not quite tricky enough for a Thursday.

Neva was a gimme, but the F in Boff was hard.

I too always thought Artemis was a boy!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:44 AM  

Hey you, yeah you

Sparky 11:53 AM  

Saw the TRA fairly soon but kept looking for more.

tsars before BASSI as I figured there may be more than one in the course of the opera. 52D fixed that. Is that a malapop? The Marie Antoinette clue came right away. Husband gave me CARRERA.

DNF: The V in NW my Natick and did not get ApAIROf and ASpeR. Liked it but left the table a bit hungry.

GILL I. 12:22 PM  

Sockeroo means to BOFF???? or is it the other way around? I thought it meant like an afternoon quickie or something. I always think of SWAINS as swash buckler types.
I did like the puzzle and learned somke new things. Also had me wanting to pounce on a rebus but he wasn't to be found.
CARRERA is fun to say if you say it fast enough..

MikeM 12:29 PM  

had FAxICON, as in "Click on that fax icon". Doing the hard copy I could not tell it was wrong until I got here. Oh well

Sandy K 12:53 PM  


Enjoyed your puzzle- Whey to go!

Sarah 12:59 PM  

I still don't get ACE for "Pal." I too doubted BANANAS -- too easy for a Thursday, I thought. The TRA thing was obscure to me until I came here.

JFC 1:01 PM  

@ Dr. Fartmonster, #3: No, though I understand your logic. It’s not the same because if you make up a fake name, other bloggers will know who not to read. And the persona of a fake name takes on its own life, whereas Anon is ephemeral. Also, when I was an Anon. people would dismiss my comments out of hand. Now they enjoy saying nasty things to me, which being the masochist I am gives me even greater pleasure....


jackj 1:43 PM  

Today's LA Times puzzle has a familiar name attached to it as Rex uses his nom de realite´, Michael Sharp.

It was crafted with a deft touch and is well worth your time. Fun, devilishly clever and intelligent, can one ask for more in a crossword?

There is a link to it at the end of Rex's comment today should you choose to give it a go.

Sparky 1:44 PM  

Enjoyed the L A Times, Rex. Nice puzzle. I got stuck in the SW corner but that's okay. Congrats.

John V 1:46 PM  

Great puz, @Rex. Fun theme. Had to rip out the SW and do over once. Bit of tricksy indirection there. Fav clue: 6D!

wordie 1:46 PM  


Bird 2:19 PM  

So no gimmick? Just a few answers that end in the crosswordese “TRA”? Okay, but next week better have a Rebus or other gimmick.

I still DNF as I didn’t know 3D or 17A, no matter how many times I ran the alphabet (FAQ ICON seems like a thing, but NEQA does not). I do like the bottom 3rd with the fresh fill. My second car was a 1989 NISSAN SENTRA. CARERRAs are nice but, at 6’ 6” tall I don’t fit. Maybe I do a Hightower and remove the front seat. Needed to correct ULNAE and HEAD (I thought it would be TETE the moment I wrote it, but left it in anyway – should have checked the crosses).

@Rube – “Hey You! Who me? Yeah, you.” is the phrase I know.

Hand up for ARTEMIS as a guys name, as in Artemis Gordon.

mac 2:36 PM  

I found Rex's puzzle last night and enjoyed it!

Tita 2:40 PM  

@Sparky - what a nice husband you have! For which anniversary is a CARRERA the gift?

@Rex, you swine - loved the puzzle. Very very clever, very well-executed...
Tell me - is the clue for 65D your own?

Lewis 2:53 PM  

Darnit, M&A, now you've got me counting U's, and there is but one in this puzzle.

I was Naticked at FAVICON/NEVA, ended up Googling.

I kept waiting for the Thursday "trick". Maybe THAT'S the trick, that there's hardly a trick, and it kept us on our toes.

Masked and Anonymoustra 3:00 PM  

Lots of juicy, long stacks of words. Plus six TRAs, a TREE, a TRAY and a TRAM. Not bad.

This was either:
a. A real extra tricky ThursPuz, because everyone is lookin' for a big twist, and the twist is that there ain't no twist. Or...
b. A real real double secret extra tricky ThursPuz, because its twist is so subtle, no one can see it. Or...
c. It's obvious, if you know Russian. That'd be horrorshow. (See: "A Clockwork Orange")

Fave fillins:
YOWZA - I think this can have lots of different meanings, depending on inflection. Sorta like "in person".
CARRERA - Same as last comment, but in Sp.
NEVA - I want to go there. For a neva happening.
AGRA and ANGORA - Mainly, just cuz they round out the "ends with an a" coset of faves that the puz themers started.

Three U's. Need more. May go on strike, until the next 15x with at least a civil 6-pack. snort.

Not anonymous, but not famous either 3:19 PM  

I don't know why it's called FAVICON (which is short for Favorite Icon). Just because I'm at that site, doesn't mean it's my favorite.

sanfranman59 3:19 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Thu 14:54, 17:02, 0.87, 23%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 8:59, 9:34, 0.94, 33%, Easy-Medium

Masked and Anonymo3Us 3:20 PM  

p.s. @Lewis: Good work, my son. Yer U-count was a little hasty today, but it's the thought that counts. Go ahead and count the anemic ones for a while, and I'll step back in for the heavy liftin'. (6 U's or more.). Real nice to have a sub, kinda like 31 does whenever he gets lickerd up.

chefbea 3:25 PM  

@Rex great puzzle but I too had trouble in the southwest. Bee's charge stumped me.

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

I couldn't believe that TRA was the theme, and noticed that if you start at the end of the word you can spell ARTIST with contiguous letters. In two cases you have to reuse a T.

Probably a coincidence, since there's no reveal, and no great phrase that goes with it.

morecraft 4:11 PM  

Rube, UAR stood for United Arab Republic, a pan arab politcal bloc created by Egypt's Nasser. UAE is of course today's present United Arab Emirates.

Cheech 4:30 PM  

@Aaron B - What are you smoking and can I have some? I don't see any backward ARTISTs in the grid.

Norm 4:45 PM  

Great LAT puzzle! 39D was wonderful!

Carola 4:48 PM  

@Rex - Very nice puzzle. Loved the owls and mice answer!

Anonymous 5:33 PM  

Blew it on ANGORA. Used argyle and never quite recovered. The rest was okay.

Lewis 6:59 PM  

M&A -- sorry, I'll be more careful next time. You are the master, I'm patiently learning the art...

Lewis 7:21 PM  

Rex, just did your puzzle. That was a blast! I loved the misdirects and the theme worked well. A couple of crosswordese, but absolutely forgivable. It's plain that you set the bar high for yourself. Bravo!

Anonymous 8:03 PM  

Very disappointing Thursday puzzle. Never finished the East block, but lost interest once I realized there was no Thursday-ish gimmick. Loved FAVICON, giving me the same feeling you get when the answer is an obscure town that happens to be where you live.

jae 8:20 PM  

I also just did the LAT puzzle. Nice one and about right for a Thurs. LAT!

Anonymous 9:52 PM  

No one can get on Newsweek. I'm irked too

Anonymous 11:26 PM  

I agree. I found the puzzle way too easy for a Thursday and the "theme" was tame and uninteresting. There was none of the fun of discovery that usually comes with a Thursday puzzle.

Anonymous 11:48 PM  

Wasn't she Princess Diana when she died? This irked me and made that section slow.

sanfranman59 1:20 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 5:45, 6:12, 0.93, 17%, Easy
Tue 8:31, 8:37, 0.99, 46%, Medium
Wed 10:47, 11:44, 0.92, 30%, Easy-Medium
Thu 15:04, 17:02, 0.88, 24%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:39, 1.01, 54%, Medium
Tue 5:04, 5:01, 1.01, 54%, Medium
Wed 6:22, 6:29, 0.98, 43%, Medium
Thu 8:48, 9:34, 0.92, 30%, Easy-Medium

Spacecraft 9:47 AM  

@ED, two ponies &jae: I believe Mr. Gordon spelled his name with a U: ArtemUs. Great series, especially the episodes involving Dr. Miguelito Loveless.

I for one never noticed the -TRA theme till I came here. Must mean something good about the construction--or maybe just obtuse about me? Have a couple of clue-bones to pick: YOWZA does not mean "Whoa, baby!" It's a corruption of "Yessir!"--an expression of emphasis made most memorable by the late, great Gig Young as the dance barker in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" for which he deservedly won an Oscar.

Also, I'm with the group that wonders how you get ACE from "Pal," and the whole "YOU, yeah, YOU" thing is really stretching it. And yes, a PITSTOP is sort of a "quick break" in car racing--for the driver I guess--but off track it has another, more, um, functional meaning.

Never heard of a FAVICON; thank goodness for the xwordese NEVA crossing. Liked the twin I-plurals in symmetry: RADII and BASSI.

Dang; Sinatra into Cosa Nostra. I should have laughed at that, and might have noticed the TRAs. Time for some coffee!

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

Just had had had to read yesterday's posts! I would have to say, "Madness put to good uses." And, you can quote me. teehee
Ron Diego 2/27 I think Evil Doug is in the closet, as a screaming liberal waiting to come out.

Waxy in Montreal 3:11 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waxy in Montreal 3:14 PM  

LADYDI (25D) she wasn't at the time of her tragic death in 1997. Even following her divorce from Charles, she was still Princess Diana as the covers of the two Time Magazines in question make clear.

MOANs: didn't like the SW corner at all. ACE-PAL, BAM, URB. Also with @Spacecraft on YOWZA. Bring on the broccoli instead.

rain forest 3:52 PM  

I don't know that you could call -TRA a theme (perhaps a pattern; repition of letters), but I liked it. After I got IRANCONTRA, NISSAN SENTRA was obvious off only the N. I was thinking that somehow the crossing of EXTRA and NEONTETRA was the revealer ("reveal" is not a noun, people), but I couldn't work anything out. Came close to putting in 'pee stop' for quick break.

If you go to Portugal, you must go to SINTRA. Gorgeous setting, Moorish castle ruins, tarted up National Palace, and a very engaging little town.

Dirigonzo 6:32 PM  

I couldn't decide between FaxICON and FAqICON so I left it blank - never even considered FAVICON. The pal for ACE cluing was discussed at length here some months ago but apparently not resolved so now it's back - I didn't have a problem with it then and I still don't. ABO reminds me that I have an appointment with the Red Cross next week - does giving blood count as a donation in exchange for downloading the American Red Crossword puzzles?

DMGrandma 7:26 PM  

Busy day, so late to the party. Puzzle threw a few curves but once I decided BANANAS must be the answer, though I was looking for a Thursday curve, things went smoothly. Never heard ABUTTAL or FAVICON before, but they were right. The latter was put in in faith, as I'm not sure what a browsers address bar is. I think I was thinking of those little picture some of you know how to post with your comments. Some day I must join the 21st century, or whatever this is!

Ginger 7:29 PM  

The crosses gave me the huh? FAVICON, so I post solve googled it. Interesting word. Totally missed the 'TRA' connections until I came here, but found the puzzle easier than yesterday's entry. Only writeover was ACE for AmE, (thinking French I guess).

Tita 9:50 PM  

@rain are spot-on about SINTRA... if anyone wants to go, let me know...there is SO much to explore all around that area!

Anonyrat 7:01 AM  

Got Naticked at 17A/3D - the Gulf of Finland feeder? NEVA hoid of it. Crossed with FAVICON? Still can't find one in my browser's address bar - can your security settings prevent it from appearing? Reluctantly guessed FAx instead - didn't make much sense, but at least I think I've seen a Fax icon somewhere before. Like Acme, V would have been about my 20th guess.
@ Dr. Fartmonster 8:55 AM - Re your third question: so that's actually your real name? Cool!

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