Island off Gabonese coast / THU 5-2-13 / Diplomat Annan / It's a kick in a glass sloganeer / Shrek creator / Part of pedestal between base and cornice / Dormant volcano in Cascade Range / McCarthyite paranoia / Modern response to hilarity

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Constructor: Josh Knapp

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: NEITHER (here) NOR (there) (35A: *Irrelevant ... or what the answers to the five starred clues have?) — familiar phrases that start with HERE or THERE have those words removed, so the puzzle contains "neither here nor there."

Theme answers:
  • 19A: *2007 Best Picture nominee ("[There] WILL BE BLOOD")
  • 25A: *"Hope this works!" ("[Here] GOES NOTHING!")
  • 51A: *"Abbey Road" track ("[Here] COMES THE SUN")
  • 56A: *Start of many limericks ("[There] ONCE WAS A MAN...")

Word of the Day: H-HOUR (15A) —
H-Hour is the specific hour on D-Day that a military operation is set to commence. For amphibious operations, H-Hour denotes the time that the first assault elements are scheduled to reach the beach or landing zone. (
• • •

Thought this was Medium-Challenging, then realized that it's 16-wide (to accommodate the even-numbered central theme answer), so of course I took a bit longer than normal. All my struggle came early and late, and all of it in the NW. Immediately wrote in SCAB (1A: Target of union hatred) and then ASCETIC (3D: Like monastery life). Then stopped. Never heard of H-HOUR. Wanted IPSO and -ESE, but they conflicted with the obviously right ASCETIC (so much more spot-on than AUSTERE), that I didn't bother testing them. Instead, completely abandoned the NW and again had trouble getting my footing. Conflated MELVIN and MARIO and came up with MARVIN Van Peebles (8D: Director Van Peebles). VAIO (23A: Sony laptop line), STEIG (9D: Shrek creator), and BANE (20D: "The Dark Knight Rises" villain) finally got me going, and very shortly thereafter I got [There] WILL BE BLOOD. [Here] GOES NOTHING came weirdly easily, and so the revealer, when I got to it, was a piece of cake. Put it right in. After that, no trouble until I had to return to the NW. Well, CHACO gave me a little trouble. Knew SHASTA (9A: Dormant volcano in the Cascade Range), did not know CHACO (48A: New Mexico's ___ Canyon). So, batting .500 on Geography. But back to the NW—I had short-lived but legitimate fear that I was going to go into freefall. Entertained MIDGITS (?) for 21A: Mental lightweights (NITWITS). Actually wrote in PERUSE for 4D: Look around (BROWSE). But going back to basics (the IPSO and the -ESE that I suspected way back at the beginning) got me rolling up there, and that was that.

Overall, I liked this one. Theme is a clever twist on a familiar phrase. It's true that you're left with something close to nonsense in the grid (bunch of very long partials), but I have no problem with the idea of mentally supplying a missing word. Oh, and the fill on this one is tight. For once. Thank god. 

  • 32A: "It's a kick in a glass" sloganeer, once (TANG) — seems pretty saucy for a TANG-era slogan. Took me nearly every cross to get this, as I thought it had something to do with panes of glass...
  • 59A: Part of a pedestal between the base and the cornice (DADO) — no idea, though I guessed it after a cross or two based on my having seen it somewhere before in relation to carpentry. 
  • 10D: Wandering soul (HOBO) — I don't quite get the "soul" part here. Seems tonally off from HOBO.
  • 12D: Island off the Gabonese coast (SÃO TOMÉ) — rough, though once I had the SAO, I could guess.
  • 37D: McCarthyite paranoia (RED SCARE) — first RED SCARE predates McCarthy era by a good bit, but his was the second and still counts.
  • 30D: Whom some novelty disguises imitate (GROUCHO) — Even with the GROU- I had no idea what was happening here. Seems a very dated clue.
  • 46D: Modern response to hilarity (ROFL) — got this instantly, though I think I see it more often with the "T" in it. Come to think of it, I haven't seen this initialism much at all lately (in the last couple years). I think it might have died.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:08 AM  

Medium for me too.  Caught the theme quickly, but  BEAM for SEAM jammed me up for while in the NE as did MartIN for MELVIN.  The rest was fairly easy. 


Lotsa zip plus my all time favorite song minus the HERE.  All that's missing is S**T on a ______ for 1d.  Liked it a lot!

Danny 12:09 AM  


Loved this puzzle. Best in a while.

Brendan McNamara 12:09 AM  

GROUCHO glasses are ALL THERAGE with ironic COOLCATs these days.

Loved this puzzle. Just great.

JHC 12:18 AM  

It's funny what different people find hard or easy. I had to run the alphabet to get SHASTA/SAO TOME (and didn't even see the two words on the down until after the fact). But I threw down GROUCHO on testing the G for a possible GAMES. Different strokes.

Meanwhile, came across this in this week's New Yorker: "In Qyshk, Serbian militia members responsible for the massacre left behind photographs of themselves posing with machine guns..." I dare some constructor to use Qyshk in a puzzle. That is all.

benko 1:36 AM  

Overall, liked this one. REDSCARE and SCREWIT and some other lively answers. Remembered Mario, but not MELVIN until mostly filled...Yes, Sweet Sweetback's Badassssssss Song--the first movie to be produced by, directed by, and star black Americans.
VAIO/STEIG is a difficult crossing.
GROUCHO I thought was know, those goofy toy glasses with the fake nose and mustache.

Ellen S 1:55 AM  

Like Rex I started with SCAB, and then because of the "A" I confidently filled in ASCETIC and unlike Rex, I never recovered. Well, I "finished" it, if you allow Googling about 20% of the clues in the top half, and then doing a little better in the south, but at the very end, putting in "EqUAtOR" for 42D, looking at it, saying "DAtO" isn't part of a column, but isn't there such a thing as a DADO? and "But the Equator is a, THE, center line, how could it be 'crossed by' one?" And still didn't get it until I checked my answers.

Be careful what you ask for, I guess. Thank you, Josh, for teaching me humility. Very fun theme, without which I wouldn't have gotten even as many answers as I did. Foop.

austere criers mascaras 1:56 AM  

I got the GOESNOTHING immediately, but I had the film as (Good)WILLhunting.

"Films with WILL as a second word, please, Alex."

So I thought he had left out GOOD, HERE and other words to come that would form a sentence.

Whatever. Lots of fun and fresh cluing, right up to Francis, which I initially guessed caPE!

TWO wrong squares as I put in EqUAtOR.
(DAtO and CHAqO both looked strange but I didn't think enough about it).

Made the same MarVIN mistake as @Rex. MELVIN is actually MARIO Peebles father.

Oh! And the Beatles clue!!! I struggled with. They have a song they recorded from the Music Man... HERE, THERE and EVERYWHERE so if you start one letter over the ER and HE sort of match up.
I had grokked the theme but I tried to put in AND EVERYWHERE.

And I messed up the baseball clues (surprise!)...Had ImOnIT + TOR could have been ANYONE.

Baked = HIGH seemed very risque and of this century for the NYT. STREAM's clue was very modern.
So that offsets the GROUCHO (I loved that clue, needed no letters it was so visual) and COOLCAT.

Very nice puzzle. For missing words, lot less awkward leave than could have been.

Plus I learned SWOT!

Everyone, pls do me a favor and follow me on twitter (acmenaming). I'm trying to get the word out about a new funny book of essays I'm 1/36th of:

I've been patiently waiting till there was a puzzle ref that I could tie it in to, but it hasn't happened in weeks, so SCREWIT, I want everyone to buy the book!
Great NonMother's Day present! ;)

chefwen 3:45 AM  
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Tim 3:47 AM  

I plugged in equator instead of Ecuador, and chaqo/dato were equally unknown to me as the correct answers. So I was hung up there, but otherwise found it pretty easy. Full disclosure: I misspelled existent and I feel bad.

Milford 5:50 AM  

Medium Thursday, figured out the theme fairly easily with (here) GOES NOTHING and then the NEITHER NOR center reveal. Paused at the limerick one, first thought (there) once was a MAN... from Nantucket.

Had lots of write-overs - hand up for both MarVIN and EqUAtOR. The latter didn't really make sense as the answer, but CHAqO and DAtO were unknown to me anyway.

Also spelled VeIO wrong which made the Batman villain BeNE - the silliest name ever for a bad guy.

But my real problem was the SEAM and AXLE stack - I could not click with either of those clues for the longest time. But after all that managed to finish sans google.

Loved HIGH as clued and SCREW IT. Getting edgy. And loved GROUCHO, good one, I GOT IT immediately.

Agreed that ROFL already seems dated, but LOL is still ALL THE RAGE.

Loren Muse Smith 6:12 AM  

Hand up for “ascetic” before AUSTERE and a dnf with “Equator,” “Chaqo,” and “dato.”

And I have made a DADO!! With only a Skilsaw, thank you very much. I VAIO never to do *that* again. My arm was SORE for a week. Give me a panel router any day.

Very early on I entertained “on a rampage” for ALL THE RAGE.

Because this NITWIT put in “adreess,” the NE was a big mess for a bit.

Mom never allowed me to say GOT without a form of have, so as an outfielder, I would have to yell, “I’ve GOT IT!” Hi, Mom.

Another Beatles possibility: “Now Man.”

OLD MAN crosses COOTS. Nice.

SCREW IT was just in a puzzle and made some people KNIT their BROWSE!

Fun puzzle populated by a COPIOUS number of people: COOTS, NITWITS, COOL CATS, NERDs, HOBOs, TROOPERS. . .

@Benko – agreed – GROUCHO glasses are just plain fun.

Great puzzle, great theme, Josh!

Thoracic 6:21 AM  

Equator for me too. Seemed totally reasonable as I had never heard of the canyon or the dado thing. Small voice at the back of my head knew that equator WAS a line, not crossed by one, but I never listen to that little voice anyway. All in all, very enjoyable Thurs. thanks

baja 7:06 AM  

So much better than yesterday's. Had to regroup too many times to mention. Niggling thought that equator was wrong but left it in.

MetaRex 7:08 AM  

My favorite puzzle in a had ESE, but then again it didn't. Don't think it is as great a puzz for the woman on the street as it is for the CrossWorlder...reax and reasons are at HERAGE and THERAGE

Z 7:20 AM  

EqUAtOR is the first Paul Rean we've had in awhile. Between that and the Ascetic trap I think we have to call this one challenging.

One crossbird, one scoreboard city, one RCD (clued as a suffix) and one kitty sound. Since you have to have three letter words, this is exceptionally clean fill. Like it.

OTD 7:46 AM  

Medium is about right for me, too. Gave the old brain a good run for its money, which is what I look for.

Loved GROUCHO, SCREWIT, VAIO, REDSCARE. Having never seen the Batman movies I had to Google BANE.

Didn't like the clue to HOBO.

jberg 7:50 AM  

Like Rex, except I got IPSe right away, so didn't write in SCAB until much later. Came together then, except I didn't think of STEIGER so ended it with N and somehow put in NOTHIGN. SCREW IT!

r.alphbunker 7:56 AM  

Loved this puzzle. I wish I could find all NYT and NYS puzzles with revealers that refer to themselves. Is that a category that anybody has thought of yet?

Thanks to Kindle, I had purchased and read your contribution within minutes of reading your post. It was fun. Your motherly instincts are evident on this blog because of your willingness to help us construct puzzles.

How about this CAT themed puzzle. The phrase "Sling the cat" is a euphemism for "calling Ralph on the big white telephone". Make that the revealer and distribute the six permutations of CAT around the puzzle. Maybe BEQ would give it a guest spot on his blog.

I hope you got more than $200 for the story

Glimmerglass 8:10 AM  

Bard alert: There's a quote from Macbeth in this puzzle. @Rex: I made exactly the same mistake with Ascetic. Fun puzzle -- took me a long time.

Unknown 8:12 AM  

Rey fun. Got GOES NOTHING and was gonna complain here about it: "Who says GOES NOTHING?" Then got WILL BE BLOOD and poof! - lightbulb went on. So, clever theme, and lots of fun clues thrown in too. Yay!

e.a. 8:31 AM  

not only did MELVIN star in "sweet sweetback," he also composed the soundtrack (despite not knowing how to read or write music), with a little-known band called earth, wind & fire.

Mohair Sam 8:39 AM  

Great Thursday. Clever theme with good fill throughout.

Surprised DNF here. Like others I got fooled by EqUAtOR. @Thoracic got it right - a little voice said "that can't be" but it filled so nicely. I'll have to study up on pedestals and SW geography.

I see several, including Rex, thought Ascetic off the gimme SCAB. I wrote AUSTERE immediately and NW filled quickly. Also unlike Rex I got the SE wrong, ECUADOR indeed . . . .

joho 8:57 AM  

Yep, I ended up with the EqUAtOR/DAto snafu, too. Not only that, I guessed wrong at the T in TOR not thinking as far north as Canada. Still, it's nice to see such a pleasingly fresh-themed puzzle with equally as fresh fill ... DNF or not!

Thanks, Josh!

ycnan 9:15 AM  

Had knish for wonton, gent for coot,handler for trooper,red spies for red scare. Otherwise OK

dj1969 9:26 AM  

Like everyone else, I really liked this puzzle. But I had a problem with "(THERE) WAS AN OLD MAN". I am much more familiar with "(THERE) ONCE WAS A MAN". Although no one else called this out, Rex must agree, based on his list of theme answers. :-)

jackj 9:36 AM  

A reveal that requires you to know a phrase that identifies the missing words in theme entries but which doesn’t reveal those theme words directly, only by inference is incredibly clever!! NEITHERNOR showing “what the answers to the starred clues have”, NEITHER (HERE), NOR (THERE) is truly something to savor!

Josh has given us a crossword version of matryoshkas, the wonderful Russian nesting dolls that reveal surprise after surprise as they are opened.

As I jumped around the grid seeking out the things I knew I knew, my first exposure to the theme came at the Beatle’s song COMESTHESUN that was missing its HERE. Discovering the missing (HERE) had me quickly back track to the clue “Hope this works!”, as (HERE)GOESNOTHING, which became an obvious gift, a surprise gimme.

The (THERE) entries first showed up with the limerick clue but the starred entry for the film was no help until completing the crosses, which meant some struggling and contorting with VAIO, BANE and STEIG but “praise be” for having known MELVIN Van Peebles.

Things also were knotty in the lower part of the upper right quadrant when “Francis, for one” was entered as a surefire bit of cleverness looking for MULE, as in “Francis, the Talking MULE” and the “M” down entry gave MATE.

But, as the rest of the quadrant began to fill in, my MULE was clearly in need of being scrubbed and the “P” in TROOPER showed me the light when the correct answer came wafting in through a puff of white smoke (and The Holy Father will hopefully forgive me a devilish mix-up).

What a wonderful puzzle, one that gives a nice glow when you put down the pencil and think not SCREWIT but IGOTIT!

Thanks, Josh, this was as good as I could ever hope for on a Thursday!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 9:45 AM  

Loved this one. Did the same thing re. Ascetic. Go see Chaco of our favorite places when we traveled the Country.

pmdm 9:52 AM  

Similar theme to that of May 10,1997 (No "if's "and"s or "but"s) with the theme revealer nossors. Today's theme was nice, but I would have like it better if the deleted words were not uniformly at the beginning of the phrase.

Eric 9:58 AM  

....and the allusions to smoking ganja keep on coming! Seems to be a weekly occurrence now. Not complaining, just noticing.

9A made me think of this gem from George Carlin: "...because that's all that's in those vending machines at a motel; Mr. Pibb and Diet SHASTA Orange. And that bottle of Canada Dry Tonic Water that NOBODY WANTS!"

(here) COMES THE SUN: Confirming my belief that George Harrison was the best/most highly overlooked Beatle (see also: While my Guitar Gently Weeps, Something, Within you without you, Taxman, I me Mine, For you Blue...and so on).

Happenstance palindrome: WON TON? Not now.

Ugly food name: CHARD. Doesn't sound like anything I want to eat. "MMMMM, honey, you want a CHARD salad?" "Uh, no thanks, I prefer it medium-rare."

Norm 10:16 AM  
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Norm 10:17 AM  

Medium-hard for me, but a great puzzle. Didn't catch the theme until [Here] COMES THE SUN and thank God I've been to CHACO Canyon.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:31 AM  

Great puzzle, even if I did crash and burn on the EQUATOR.

@Eric - MMMMMM, I do love Swiss CHARD, with lots of butter melting over it.

Two Ponies 10:52 AM  

Dimwits for nitwits made the NE a bit of a nightmare. I really liked the theme and reveal.
A lot of this puzzle seemed to be aimed at a younger demographic to which I do not belong.
Batman, apps, Shrek, texting, video games. Yuck.
Baked was, however, familiar.
The Tang slogan would have been better if it was "It's a kick in THE glass." Too edgy I suppose.

mac 10:52 AM  

Fantastic Thursday puzzle! I had the same problems in the NW ad with vaio, Bane and Steig.

Got the theme early on, after two of them, and was just waiting for Gertrude Stein's "There's no there there".....

Z 11:03 AM  

Shrek! Was published in 1990. Dr. DeSoto in 1982. Newer works than Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak, but old enough to be considered classics.

Ellen S 11:24 AM  

@ACME -- I think "SWOT" has been in the Brit language for a long time, meaning "study" - people would swot up on some subject for their A LEVELS. One who bothers to study for exams then were identified by the act they are performing.

I'm concerned that so many of us, the heavy hitters, not just me, put in EqUAtOR. Maybe we're so used to applying the Kefuffle Principle, that even if the clue is wrong for the answer, we go ahead and put it in. What center line were we thinking crosses the equator? Greenwich Meridian, maybe? No, we knew the equator is the center line, but - "if the gloves fit you must wear them even if they don't match," as Johnnie Cochran would have said.

Or maybe we shouldn't be doing these puzzles while we're BAKED. BTW we had fun with that three weeks ago (April 10, Juian Lim, the clue was "On Pot").

Now off to buy ACME's book.

p.s. hand up for mule before POPE.

Sandy K 11:48 AM  

Due to difficult (for me) cluing, after initial SCAB, had NOTHING- until COMES THE SUN- like @jackj.

Lots of write-overs, and alphabet runs, made me a bit GROUCHy. NEITHER MELVIN NOR ROFL came easily, but finally I GOT IT!

HIGH marks for a COOL Thursday puzz that was almost the BANE of my EXISTENce. So many punny words-
I need some KOFI...

syndy 12:00 PM  

Mule check Equador (i have no excuse)check Mario? Check no pothole I did not fall into! There once was-good grief just SCREW IT!

Bob Kerfuffle 12:23 PM  

@Ellen S - ;>) Please, no! If there is to be a Kerfuffle Principle, it must be that a crossword answer must only be plausible, not just in the top ten on the Family Feud board (a game I have always hated because it left the determination of a "correct answer" up to a man-in-the-street survey, it seems.) So "if the clue is wrong for the answer", it is wrong, but if the tenth or twelfth definition in the OED, or the opinion of a single Linux user, says the clue is right, then it is right, despite all the protests from Persistent Fulminators. :>)

And the reason I finished wrong today is that I never can spell ECUADOR anyway!

Notsofast 12:51 PM  

A fun, fresh Thursday. No dreck. Tons of good fill. THIS is how you do it. Thank you, Josh. It's my Birthday Puzzle, too!

retired_chemist 12:56 PM  

Avoided the ASCETIC trap, though I thought about it, because IPSO and ESE were so clearly correct.

Had KEEL and SPAR before SEAM, as random 4 letter ship's parts, then left SEAR in unthinkingly while I got flustered by Minnesota. REL_IN @ 8D, ___O @23A, STE_G @ 9D, none of which I knew. Never heard of any of the three. So asked to check letters in AL and finally fixed it, but I count that as a DNF.

Nice to know I am not alone in having problems in that region (is that a schadenfreudian slip?).

Other error was in calling Francis a POLE and wondering what my error was in TROOlER. No, that was an earlier Pope.

The puzzle was certainly better than I was last night. Bring on another, Mr.Knapp, and thanks.

Acme 1:44 PM  

@dj1969 9:26 am
Good catch about the limerick starts! I knew there was something odd! Looks like on Google it's either but i don't know how to tell which is more common.

I wonder if even @rex realizes he listed the other in his theme list!

@r.alphbunker, Ellen s, et al
Thanks for such immediate support! No, I got $100 and two books! Less than the NYT! Otoh there are 36 of us, so we ain't getting rich! Editor Henriette Mantel pulled together a great assortment of women comedy writers/standups from "back in the day" ranging from Margaret Cho to Merrill Markoe, Wendy Liebman!

Doing this for her, because it would be fun if it became like a Vagina Monolgues where we've shared our nonMom stories and now others might come forward and celebrate theirs!
Trying to get Mon May 13th declared nonMothers Day and "No Kidding" (which I wish I'd named!) would make a great gift for the childfree in your life!

@Bob Kerfuffle 12:23pm
I actually watch "Family Feud" for that exact reason! It's fascinating to see there isn't one correct "right" answer, but what the most people said.
Plus you can get great inspiration for puzzles... Like last night they said "name a phrase with the word BLIND in it" and after seeing seven phrases/words that sparked a crossword idea.
(not to mention Steve Harvey is a great host...and it's on right before Judge Judy whom I'm obsessed with!)

retired_chemist 1:52 PM  

Am I alone in thinking SCREW IT is a bit vulgar for the NYT? Saw it from ___E_IT but didn't put it in until much later for that reason. Doesn't offend me at all, just a bit surprised.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

Liked the puzzle, but is there some reason, in a puzzle about "neither here nor there," that the puzzle starts with the words in reverse - THERE and HERE? The bottom pair has it in the logical order, but it just struck me as pointless and weird that either pair should be switched, let alone the first set. Surely there must be lots of expressions starting with HERE and THERE to make the theme answers match the center revealer.

Paul Keller 1:59 PM  

Also loved it. Lots of stuff that was hard (for me) to get, but gettable. Would have gotten it all if only I'd paid more attenton to the problems with EQUATOR.

Anoa Bob 2:01 PM  

Got the NW straight away---loved the COPIOUS AUSTERE BROWSE stacks---and then came to a screeching halt at "2007 Best Picture nominee". Couldn't name the Best Picture for that year, let alone a nominee. Then MELVIN, STEIG & VAIO ganged up and put a big DNF on me.

Like jackj, tried MULE for "Francis".

Okay, I tried to explain the different levels of being "on pot" after Julian Lim's April 10 puzzle used that as the clue for BAKED (good eye Ellen S). Judging from today's clue for HIGH, it didn't take. So I'll try again and this time type slowly and use simple words.

When you smoke a little cannabis, you get a buzz. Continue and you get HIGH. If you don't stop there, you will get stoned. The last level, before complete incapacitation sets in, is when you are BAKED. Think Cheech & Chong.

No personal knowledge here, just used to teach a course in psychopharmacology.

Bird 2:02 PM  

I enjoyed the solve, but every Thursday I hope for some type of gimmick (i.e. Rebus). Took a little while to get the theme (at 51A), but once I figured out what was going on the answers started to fill themselves in. The fill is very good, too.

As I look at my grid I notice all the write-overs are in the bottom-right triangle (as if you drew a line from the top-right to the bottom-left). Strange.
NYC before TOR
ARF before MEW
IRED before SORE, which was SERE because I had MEE (who? mee?) at 58D and LEAP before TIED at 64A. Messy.

Hand up for Limericks starting, “There once was . . .”

56A reminds me of this ditty that my father taught me, which I then taught my kids . . .

Oh, there was an old man
Who had a wooden leg
He didn’t want to borrow
And he didn’t want to beg
So he bought four spools
And an old tin can
Called it a Ford
And the darn thing ran
Shave and a haircut two bits
Who’s gonna marry Tom Mix?

retired_chemist 2:14 PM  

Tried "There once was.." @ 56A but it was one letter over. :-(

Unknown 2:26 PM  

DNF b/c of the NW corner that many others had a problem with. I never locked onto SHINGLES which probably would have made the difference for me. Oh well, I must be one of those NITWITS. In spite of my problems, I thought this was a fine puzzle.

@ret chem - I think we just had the SCREW IT debate about 2 mmonths ago when it last appeared in the NYT puzzle. As expected, some minded, some didn't, and the conclusion was ah, screw it, there's nothing we can do about it anyway.

Masked and Anonymous 2:35 PM  

So, technically, on the first pass, should the "expanded" theme = NEITHER HERE NOR T? There's aways some wiseguy, huh, Josh?

I rate this puz an "F". For: Feisty, Fresh, Fun, & Food For Fought.

Ellen S 3:15 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, for sure Equator is not a remotely "plausible" answer to the clue, if you're hung up on looking for "matches gender, number, tense, or what the clue said." But language evolves and along with it, misuses of it.

Perhaps (or I hope) we're seeing today the nadir of blind acceptance of words just because they are in the same category or maybe arrived at by free association: what's the first thing you think of when I say "Center Line runs through"? Quick, write that in. And it's okay. Cue the Cole Porter.

ANON B 4:01 PM  

I'll bite. Whats the center line
that crosses Ecuador?

Lewis 4:07 PM  

I got held up in the SW because I wanted ALL inaRAGE. That one took a while to undo. I like Josh's answer better, though.

I like Josh's puzzles too. He keeps them minimally junky. At first I thought the pop culture answers were going to do me in, but then as letters filled in, they emerged.

HIgh quality puzzle and marks, Josh. Thank you!

Unknown 4:23 PM  

@ANON B - get ready to have a Homer Simpson D'Oh! moment ---
the equator

sanfranman59 4:45 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 19:53, 17:17, 1.15, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 12:00, 10:01, 1.20, 78%, Medium-Challenging

LaneB 4:49 PM  

Not being a texter, I had no idea about the cross between a46 and d46. What does ROFL stand for? Otherwise with some Google help I got almost all the rest, erring by using EQUATOR instead of ECUADOR and thus missing a59 DADO [ended with DAtO] Not too bad for a medium Thursday. At least there were no troublesome rebuses.

Bird 4:53 PM  

@LaneB - Rolling On Floor Laughing. COPTER adds Can't Operate Properly Till Eyes Refocus

Anonymous 5:14 PM  

I saw "soup dumplings" and got really excited that it was xiao long bao, which are dumplings with soup in them, rather than dumplings that go in soup.

Of course, it wasn't. But maybe one day!

Sandy K 5:32 PM  

Who couldn't figure out this "NEITHER/NOR"...
He googled Rex's page
"I GOT IT!" Now he's a fan
forever more.

okanaganer 7:09 PM  

If you look up "equator" on Wikipedia, the first picture is of a monument marking its location in...Sao Tome! I assume it was deliberate...sneaky constructor!

PS...surprising wikifact: "The Equator, like the Tropics, is not quite fixed. The true equatorial plane is always perpendicular to the Earth's spin axis; this axis is fairly stable but its position drifts about 15 metres (49 ft) during a year and the equator shifts likewise."

Not the bard 7:44 PM  

No Macbeth Quote in grid. "There will be Blood" is not a quote from Macbeth. Most think it inspired the film:

"However, it does have a Shakespeare allusion (though not a direct quotation, so it's not exactly titularly parasitic) in its title. There Will Be Blood seems to allude to this speech of Macbeth's from III.iv:

It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood."

ZenMonkey 7:51 PM  

As a gamer, ROFL crossing RAID gave me a giggle, also because my husband is a developer at Blizzard (which makes World of Warcraft).

I too was surprised at SCREW IT, but I have zero problems with it.

JenCT 7:57 PM  

@Anoa Bob: "No personal knowledge here, just used to teach a course in psychopharmacology." Cue John Lovitz on SNL: "Yeahhhh, that's the ticket...."

Thought the puzzle was very clever, but Challenging for me - ultimately DNF; the same mistakes as others.

Off to look up ACME's book...

Cheerio 8:13 PM  

@sandy K. ---ROFL!

Great puzzle. It's humbling that Francis = pope was hard. I mean, was I not sufficiently blitzed by CNN on this last month?

sanfranman59 10:01 PM  

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 6:28, 6:14, 1.04, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 6:35, 8:09, 0.81, 3%, Easy (5th lowest ratio of 178 Tuesdays)
Wed 11:36, 10:07, 1.15, 83%, Challenging
Thu 19:51, 17:17, 1.15, 75%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:59, 3:44, 1.07, 82%, Challenging
Tue 4:08, 4:47, 0.86, 8%, Easy
Wed 7:18, 5:59, 1.22, 93%, Challenging
Thu 11:18, 10:01, 1.13, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Unknown 11:23 PM  

I'm so used to my videogame knowledge being completely useless for NYT crosswords that I got a *huge* kick out of seeing a WoW-related clue for RAID. Hooray! The 21st century has arrived! :)

Angry Bird Grandma 11:38 AM  

"Groucho" clue and answer "seems a very dated clue"? Really, Rex? Is anything that happened before your 18th birthday too dated for you? History begins with your pop culture and no one else's? "ROFL" is totally out of my frame of reference. Rolling on the floor laughing is not dated? I'm 70 years old, I never heard it, but I'm way beyond LOL. LMAO would work with me. The only way I got ROFL is from the KOFI cross, and I thought perhaps both constructor and editor made a mistake. Ah well. So, we all know different stuff, different facts, different cultural references. Is one generation's frame of reference "better than" another's? I remember Tang, for instance, but wouldn't drink it, even though the astronauts did. Hey, Rex, are limericks too old-fashioned? Is "cool cat" way too out of date? WTF? When's the last time you saw the word "scab" in a news article about labor disputes? Oh, and what about people who don't need "Recu"? It's pretty useful crossword fill, I guess, but it isn't in everyone's wheelhouse, is it? Knew "swot", knew "dado", knew "crier" (well, I was born in the early 17th century, when we still had criers). Yes, had "ascetic" before I got "austere". Theme was "neither nor", ascetic or austere is "either or".

Tita 7:45 PM  

Liked it, though I thought it was really hard. Lots of pop I don't care about.
Was a fun aha moment when I finally got it.
First put in mAdeira for SÃO TOMÉ. Not too far off...

I too was surprised by the saucy tag line for TANG.

ROtFLd over GROUCHO disguise. A friend, part of a big Italian family, organized a family photo to present to the matriarch on her 90th birthday.
Every last family member, including the babies, wore GROUCHO glasses.

@Bob K @12:33 - welcome to the brave new world of Crowdsourcing!
(Which is, of course, what we are all unwittingly, an d unpaidly, recruited to do with every captcha.)

@Sandy K - brava!

Anonymous 7:02 PM  

Here there and everywhere is not from the music man. That's till there was you. Just fyi.

spacecraft 10:35 AM  

Great puzz today, even if * was a spate of unknowns (SAOTOME, CHACO, "Swot"). NW wasn't a bit of trouble for me, as I went from SCAB to BROWSE to HOUR to AUSTERE. Had that section down in seconds, looking at GOES....

North was thorny. BEAM didn't make sense to me because that would logically be a strong point, not a weak one. Still it took a while for SEAM to come. Had to defer to the SW and try to figure out the rest of the "hot" saying, then work back. Did not know the movie.

I hesitated on SCREWIT, considering the flap than went on the first time it showed up *. I guess the precedent has been set, and we're off to things beyond. But having got over it and the grammatically incorrect but popular IGOTIT, the SW fell, so THERAGE had to be preceded by ALL, enough to finish the north.

Then the SE. By this time, * was no doubt as to the Beatles tune, and I had it all filled in--including EqUAtOR. What's a "DAtO?" Wait, I've seen a crosswordy word close to that...not DAtO but...was it DADO? Aha!! It's ECUADOR, and now the clue makes sense!

That was a (RED)SCARy moment *. So *'s my vote today: thumbs up!

Oh, and @anon 7:02: "Till * Was YOU" IS from "The Music Man."

Torb 11:31 AM  

Hour & 15 mins but finished..Fun puz!

Connie in seattle 1:58 PM  

Interesting that H-HOUR showed up in syndiland on D-Day. My husbands's father landed on Omaha Beach on that fateful day. Cute having MEW above COOLCAT.
And as Obama said, "There's no there there".

Syndi Solver 2:16 PM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. I immediately thought "[here] GOES NOTHING" as the answer to "Hope this works!" And I already had -BLOOD for 19 Across. So when I looked at 35 Across I knew the theme had to be NEITHER [here] NOR [there]. I like that it's self referential, e.g., both here and there are missing from the central answer, too.

Kudos to Josh Knapp for a very fun puzzle. There were some challenging bits in it for me (it took all the crosses to see H-HOUR, for example) but it all came together in the end.

I did have to guess on the T for SAO TOME and TOR cross. I figured it must be T for Toronto but I'm never sure when it comes to most sports clues.

Speaking of sports, I just saw Serena beat Errani in the French Open. I'm looking forward to the Nadal/Djokovic match tomorrow although the Tsonga/Ferrer match should also be interesting since Tsonga is in good form.

rain forest 2:36 PM  

I haven't commented in awhile because I would be just agreeing with what has already been said, but for a puzzle this good, let me say "I agree with everybody. Great puzzle!" Amazing in a puzzle this well-crafted that Rex just HAD to find something not so positive ("dated" comment on Groucho mask--really?!). What a curmudgeon...

Loved the self-referential revealer. Best puzzle in quite a while.

Solving in Seattle 3:21 PM  

Exactly what my Canadian Syndie neighbor @rain forest said.

I keep a pair of GROUCHO nose glasses in my locker at the golf club and put them on after a terrible round.

Like @Spacecraft, trouble changing bEAM to SEAM. Finally got it running the alphabet.

Capcha: vinglev spoken. Sign on the Starship Enterprise cafe door?

Dirigonzo 3:55 PM  

75% fairly easy, 100% fun. Figured out HERE/THERE early and cruised through three-quarters of the grid (although I tripped and fell on the EqUAtOR) until I arrived in the NE corner, where a 2007 movie crossed by a movie director, a movie creator and a movie villain lay in wait. I sorted it all out but it wasn't pretty.

@Connie - thanks for mentioning D-Day; I had completely blanked on the significance of June 6 until I read your post.

@rain forest - nice to see y
you back!

@Waxy - TORonto!

DMGrandma 4:50 PM  

Figuring out the "hint" helped me solve most of this one, but I fell down in the Dark Knight/ Sony cross. These, like ROFL are as much (more?) out of my sphere as GROUCHO apparently was for Rex. Things that seem important at one time of life become NEITHERNOR at another. And some things you can't infer. I just simply didn't remember KOFI's name, and didn't get the K because I wanted "linked" to refer to uNIT, but not badly enough to write it in! So it goes!

@SIS: Seems you get all the "translatable" Captchas. I'm jealous!

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