Dummy of old radio / THU 7-18-13 / Shade tree with deep-red winter buds / Elton John duettist Don't Go Breakin My Heart / Guy seeking love letters / Hit 2012 animated film / Advance notice request

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Constructor: Todd Gross and David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Medium (though that apostrophe might throw folks)

THEME: "DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND" (23A: Classic song from a movie celebrating its 60th anniversary on 7/18/13 [starting from the second square])— title found inside circled squares, which form shape of a diamond. Bonus answer: MARILYN MONROE (20A: 23-Across singer)

Word of the Day: LINDEN (21D: Shade tree with deep-red winter buds) —
Any of various deciduous shade trees of the genus Tilia having heart-shaped leaves, drooping cymose clusters of yellowish, often fragrant flowers, and peduncles united into a large lingulate bract. Also called basswoodlime.

[Middle English, made of linden wood, from Old English, from lind, linden.]

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/linden#ixzz2ZMRIUTM0
• • •

No. Did not care for this at all. It's flawed (ha!) on many, many levels. First, it just doesn't work. if you want to do a stunt, you have to stick the landing. Stick It. This thing is dead from the cue [starting from the second square]. In what universe? No. I do not want to start from the second square. That is cheating. Some concepts seem like they might be great, like they might work, but then they don't and you ditch them because you are fastidious and care about details. DDIAMONDS? Come on. Then there's the apostrophe. Again, cheating. And again I ask, In What Universe? We have apostrophed words in puzzles all the time, or at least some of the time, and never ever ever does the punctuation mark get its own damned square. Again (again), this concept just didn't work, but it's been jury-rigged rather than abandoned. Start in second square, count the apostrophe as a space even though that's nuts and even though ABC'S should not not not have an apostrophe in it. No.

But here's the bigger issue—even if you're thinking "oh, come on, give 'em some leeway, I like old-timey movies, blah blah blah whatever," you have to admit: this theme made for a *dull* solving experience. You can fill in all the theme stuff instantly. At a glance. Fill-in-the-blanks. No mystery. Nothing. It's just Over as soon as it begins. Then what's left is the tiring process of filling in the rest, which just isn't great. It's average at best. Like NEAT FREAKS (26D: Obsessive organizers), but you can take the rest. So it's both awkward and ungainly at the level of theme execution, and completely uninteresting at the level of solving experience.

Lastly, WARN ME is not a thing.

  • 1A: European capital ENE of Warsaw (MINSK) — Hard for me to see because I had EMIR at 2D: Kuwait V.I.P. (IMAM), which is a trap-by-design, and which is super-cheap. I don't think of IMAM's as belonging to countries. There are IMAMs in the U.S. (no EMIRs, though). May as well say [Canadian V.I.P.]. I'm sure it's true.
  • 6A: Guy seeking love letters? (SWM) — And I know he's white how?
  • 4D: Dummy of old radio (SNERD) —It only struck me just now that the idea of a dummy being a radio star makes next to no sense. And yet he / it was.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jackj 12:02 AM  

It wasn’t the lack of advice that there was a second “weird” square in the puzzle, it was that when it became obvious that there was another “weird” square, (in addition to the cheat at the song title’s apogee), the solver was left to wonder if some similar sort of accommodation had been necessary at the puzzle’s nadir or what.

Whether the apostrophe was worth it is another question.

I don’t know whether Todd led David astray or vice versa but there certainly was a slip twixt cup and lip for this contrived birthday salute to “A movie” on its 60th birthday.

In their puzzles, some gentlemen prefer blondes and others, especially crossword aficionados, don’t care if the theme star has red, white and blue streaks in her UPDO, just give us a worthy puzzle. But, sadly, it was not to be today.

Only four things to take from this puzzle, the appearances of SLATHER, NEATFREAKS and ADJURE and a reminder to beware of apostrophe crossings.

Jesse 12:13 AM  

This puzzle was absolutely terrible. That is all.

Steve J 12:13 AM  

I didn't dislike it nearly as much as Rex, but there was definitely a night/day effect from the moments before I figured out the theme and after. Once I sorted it out, it felt like half the puzzle was instantly solved, both from completing the them answers/squares, and the many crosses that fell quickly thereafter. That kind of took the bloom off the rose. And while the apostrophe didn't bother me that much - it's a Thursday, and I expect gimmicks - the second-square start is indeed lame. I'm not a constructor, but I can't help but think that if I were one, if I find I have to start something in the second square, I'd realize my theme doesn't work.

One thing that definitely frustrated me was the grid's geometry left lots of areas that had only one point of entry, and if things weren't coming, they were nearly impossible to get (the SE was the worst for me in this regard).

For those who use the Magmic iPad/iPhone app, has anyone gotten the puzzle to register as completed? I followed the instruction to use the first letter of the punctuation mark (i.e., A), and that didn't work. I've rechecked the entire grid 3-4 times now, and I don't spot any other errors. I finally entered every goddamn letter in the alphabet in that square, and it still doesn't register as complete. I'm wondering if the puzzle's busted, or if there's something I filled incorrectly elsewhere and haven't noticed despite repeated checks.

I skip M-W 12:15 AM  

We were instructed to replace the punctuation mark by its initial. How is it Z?

jae 12:23 AM  

I guess I'm the dissenting voice so far.  This seemed about right for a Thurs. to me. So, medium. And, while circle puzzles can be annoying, I thought this one was fine.  Zippy theme, zippy fill, zippy apostrophe, fun solve!  Liked it!

But, I did it one paper and avoided the electronic BS, so maybe that made it more likable.  The apostrophe was an amusing a ha for me. 

MINSK always brings to mind Rochelle Rochelle.  ED?

syndy 12:24 AM  

Thank you Rex for so beautiflly articulating my disatisfaction with the puzzle. If left alone I was going with calling them a knot of toads. It reminded me of a murder mystery I once read where,I kid you not, the murderer was introduced in the last chapter.Yup you fooled us now go away! reCAPCHA challenge image is not doing the job!

Anonymous 12:28 AM  

Seriously don't know how to finish. Triple-checked the rest of the puzzle against yours and tried every letter, number, symbol, and the rebus 'apostrophe' and can't get anything to take.

Questinia 12:40 AM  

Jerry-rigged conceits like the one found in this puzzle better be fanciful enough to make one forget any crude awkwardness. Not so here.

Elaine2 12:43 AM  

Hi --

I'm kind of with Steve J -- didn't hate it, but wished it was better.

I did get Across Lite to recognize it as finished with an "A" in the apostrophe box (not a "Z").

Garth 12:44 AM  

I'm with @jae on this. I found it to be a very enjoyable solving experience.

Bob O'Brien 12:59 AM  

I'm with anonymous... the apostrophe isn't working in the Magmic NY Times Mobile app. "A" doesn't work... nothing works. I really wonder why the NY Times continues to put up with Magmic's poor product for mobile/iPad users!

Matty 1:04 AM  

I liked it. Though I'm a bit of a sucker for MARILYN. Wanted more MONROE trivia. But we've got some good geography in there and an ENTENTE to boot. I suppose the apostrophe could be fixed but so it goes.

kay_rock 1:15 AM  

I, too, have tried every single letter and every one of the available symbols and numbers for the apostrophe and can't get it to register as complete. I even tried using the rebus function to write out the word "apostrophe." Nada. For me this exacerbates the annoying nature of the puzzle and just leaves me frustrated.

Dean 1:18 AM  

Nothing works in the Magimic iPad app for the apostrophe space. But then, Magimic still hasn't come up with their promised fix for the calendar bugs they introduced last update. Boo to the Times for hiring Magimic, and boo to Mr. Shortz for greenlighting this puzzle.

Masked and Anonymo7Us 1:21 AM  

So this puz is about the 60th anniversary of some masked & anonymous movie, starring Marilyn Monroe? Are they tryin to horn in on my schtick?! OK by me, actually. I'm game.

Can't stop by tomorrow, so will have to go ahead with the list now...

Top m&a 60th Anniversary Flick Name Possibilities (based on puz entry hints):
1. DDIAMONDS Are Fforever
2. Apostrophelips Now
3. The Seven U's of Dr. TAO
4. DIY Hard
5. IMAM All Right, Jack
6. The Russians ARR Coming The Russians ARR coming
7. ALG Quiet On the Western Front
8. For Whom the BELS Tolls
9. The SWM-er (outlier option, starring Burt Lncst-er)
10. SLATHER-OUS-Five (Dude. Vonnegut!)


Anonymous 1:29 AM  

The A worked for me with the NYT Magmic. Wonder if they fixed it since these postings. May also explain why I ranked so high. So many DNF only due to the inability to submit.

Anonymous 1:34 AM  

Ditto on iPhone app being busted today. Also have not had it register completion times, streaks, etc for weeks but at least something changed so I can do the puzzles now; some sort of bug related to accessing puzzles from different time zone I think.

Davis 1:37 AM  

To my fellow Magmic victims: I'm not sure if they fixed the puzzle or what, but I managed to get the all clear putting the A in for the apostrophe.

But holy cats what a miserable puzzle. Guessed (correctly) at the ALBA/ELIEL crossing--I didn't realize there was another Saarinen besides Eero. Guessed correctly again at the MOC/CAPEK crossing. "Moc" is just not something that I hear, ever. And I also fell into the eMir/IMAM trap--that was a lame trick.

The theme was unsatisfying and the fill was terrible--I really just cannot find anything positive to say about this puzzle.

Anonymous 1:42 AM  

I am so frustrated! Nothing works for the ipad app! This will kill a streak of 378 days for me! Aaarrrgggghhhh!

JFC 1:44 AM  

I sometimes wonder if Rex had Will Shortz’ job how many puzzles the Times would publish each week. Maybe three? This “stunt” puzzle is a tribute to a classic on its 60th anniversary. For those of you too young to remember either the movie or its stars, it’s worthwhile renting.

As for the puzzle, Rex’s first two objections are essentially without merit. If DIAMONDS were started in the first square the last letter would have been a stray. It’s a diamond in all those circles, so what difference does it make where the song title begins? As for the ‘, if you are doing the puzzle with the technology available 60 years ago, that would merely be a Thursday puzzle within a puzzle on paper and might add to its enjoyment.

Rex’s better point is with the fill. But, if you are doing a stunt puzzle, we all know - even I who knows nothing about constructing a puzzle - the fill will suffer.

So, rather than condemn this puzzle, it should be praised for its cleverness and originality. It should be praised for its tribute to a classic. And there is some very good fill, albeit the shorter stuff might be left for another day. Other days can bring all the technical qualities Rex enjoys in crossword puzzles.

In the words of Joe E. Brown at the movie’s ending. “Nobody’s perfect.”


Greg Charles 2:29 AM  

I can't submit either. A doesn't work, nor does Z. Oh, well.

@JFC - wrong movie.

Anonymous 2:30 AM  

JFC, you're thinking of "Some Like It Not." Of this puzzle, "Many Like It Not," including me.

Aria Capek Mormons 3:05 AM  

I strated piecing together MARILYNMONROE so thought it might be Happy Birthday Mr President...but dates were wrong, etc.

Liked the MIT Pi clue...

Godd point that we shouldn't presume SWM is white. Had to run the alphabet a few times.

Overall, tho, Very cool that it is in the shape of a DIAMOND!!! But, yes, Weird to start 2nd letter.

NEATFREAKS and lots of Scrabble letters.

I suspect @Rex put a Z in for apostrophe to make it a pangram...just to show his feeling how absurd they are, which I have to admit (ADJURE?) is pretty damn funny!

KFC 3:06 AM  

Hey, JFC has a point.  All you app users should just buy a f**king pencil! 

C'mon, how could you not like TART UP, NEAT FREAKS, LORAX, MINSK, MARILYN MONROE, WARN ME, CAPEK (the RUR guy for crosswordese fans), REEKED, ADJURE, JET LI, SLATHER, a non-Simpson APU, the iconic KIKI DEE.  These are gems folks, gems!!

Eat more chicken, now boneless!

Eejit 4:01 AM  

That makes sense. I wondered why I was in the 300 range.

There was a lot of strange stuff in this one. Some clues seemed to need a ? or something.

Doug 4:32 AM  

The puzzle was just a bit too clever and sadly not clever at all. Some challenging clues, but no real "aha" moment when you see what it's all about. It was boring and irritating. The DDiamonds answer is not a great stunt; it is a distracting nuisance. And an apostrophe - how hard could that be to devise in a puzzle and how pointless an exercise could there be? No enjoyment here. Just disbelief.

Anonymous 5:25 AM  

Still can't get this solution to work for iPad, not with A,Z, blank, etc, etc, or clearing puzzle, starting over. Anyone get this to work for iPad yet? Massive streak on the line! Thanks

Unknown 5:37 AM  

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Anonymous 6:00 AM  

My iPad completed with an A for the '. This was at 545am.

Anonymous 6:36 AM  

Mine won't complete....... Massive streak gone. I needed to get a life .... Glad yours worked !!!

dk 6:44 AM  

Side with @KFC. Some excelent fill and the diamond pattern, second square thing is no lamer than other rebus, stunt puzzles.

Note: not a rebus/stunt puzzle fan.

SWM always reminds me of the Village Voice and trying to figure out what those flippin initials meant.

Still, try as i might.... See 31A.

* (1 Star)

Bob O'Brien 6:48 AM  

"A" still not working for me either, retried just before posting this. The fact that it appears to be working for some other MagMic users only makes this more frustrating.

wordie 6:49 AM  

Ugh!!!!! Hated this! Got it done but for the extra square where, I now see, a bleeping apostrophe is supposed to go?!? Came here certain that finally an error had made its way into the NYT puzz, which is still my opinion, as punctuation is Never included in the answers.

I also wondered about the shape of the shaded squares, I thought maybe a flawed diamond or a cut diamond. Now I see it's a side view, whatever. DDamn!

I agree re IMAM, and all of Rex's and other commenters' criticisms. Blech.

The capcha is indecipherable. Second try.

Doris 7:02 AM  

Every time I see Minsk mentioned, I can't help thinking of Tom Lehrer's "Lobachevsky":

have a friend in Minsk,
Who has a friend in Pinsk,
Whose friend in Omsk
Has friend in Tomsk
With friend in Akmolinsk.
His friend in Alexandrovsk
Has friend in Petropavlovsk,
Whose friend somehow
Is solving now
The problem in Dnepropetrovsk.

So that sustained me throughout the puzzle. (The Lehrer song also contains the immortal line,
"Plagiarize! Plagiarize! Don't let another's work evade your eyes!")

I think that my ancestors came from somewhere near Minsk, irrelevantly enough.

jberg 7:09 AM  

Gee, I kinda liked it -- even though I had TRolL instead of TRAWL, and thus lIKe instead of WIKI, and therefore figured MIT couldn't be right, and that Levine guy must be named oDAn. Drat!

But the apostrophe is a fair-enough Thursday trick (though I agree, ABC's is just wrong), and I'm willing to start at any square you put a number in. It's true enough, though, that once you see MONROE the rest of the theme fills itself in. Even the apostrophe, after you come up short the first time.

@Rex and @ACME - you don't know he's white from the clue, true, but 'bARN ME' is even less of a thing than WARN ME, so it's fair enough. I mean, it's a crossword!

p.s. Captcha is 'youicki.' I'm insulted.

Evan 7:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan 7:12 AM  

Just not my favorite Thursday. I like the underlying concept, just not the execution. I didn't like the beginning of DIAMONDS in the second square and that apostrophe was only put in there to squeeze one extra square in the diamond pattern and make it fit -- it felt forced. That northwest corner could potentially be really beastly, if you've never heard of NAPA Auto Parts and Karel Capek. And of course, there's some less-than-ideal fill with OUS, SNERD, ELIEL, AER, ALG, ETTE, BELS, SWM, the old Latin word VALE (?!), and as Rex said....WARN ME?

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

I like MARILYN MONROE and a clue that begins with Double D's. Just sayin'.

Glimmerglass 7:44 AM  

OK. I'll concede that the apostrophe is lame (maybe even cheating). But I think the diamond necklace could have been clued so as not to give away where the "clasp" is. The problem is that without that giveaway hint, the answer might have been too hard to see. With it, the answer is too easy. Some of the fill is very difficult, with tricky clues (AUDIO, SWM, TOAD, TUDOR, WARN ME, and more). As clued, the song gave me 29 squares, which counterbalanced the difficulty of the fill and made this puzzle, for me, a medium. I wonder if WS changed the clue and added the note to make this appropriate for a Thursday.

Dr XWord 7:45 AM  

I usually consider Rex's (with an apostrophe) comments overly critical, but I completely agree with him today. There is much to dislike with this puzzle, but I find ABC's (with an apostrophe) the most unforgivable.

Dr XWord 8:01 AM  

BTW, JFC, the movie being referenced in this puzzle is "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", not "Some Like It Hot", although, given this week's weather, the latter may have been more appropriate.

Norm C. 8:02 AM  

Finished without error, so no complaints there, but I solve using Times Reader which does not display circles. So I'm left staring at the
grid looking for the rest of the title, thinking WTF?

After coming here and seeing the complete title in a diamond shape, including the apostrophe, I liked the puzzle a lot better. Quirky, let's say.

r.alphbunker 8:03 AM  

I liked the ahastrophe.

It would have been even better if we weren't warned about the punctuation mark. It is ironic that this was done for the puzzle solving programs and most of them seemed to have messed it up anyway.

What if the clue for 23A was
{Start and end of a classic song from a movie celebrating its 60th anniversary on 7/18/13}? That would be a good Thursday clue.

Joe The Juggler 8:06 AM  

I was officially a DNF, but I finished it in a little under 10 minutes. On the on-line app, it wouldn't accept the apostrophe. I spent forever trying to find an error, and now I see I didn't make any.

But yeah--plurals don't take apostrophes! (I caught the irony of Rex doing just that with "IMAM's" in the "Bullets" section.)

George 8:10 AM  

Oh, the joys of the internet! 20 years ago you would have NEVER stumbled across a video of Carol Channing and Miss Piggy singing 'Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend'!

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Instead of circles, the puzzle could have used diamonds, no?

Just a thought.

wordie 8:25 AM  

There is no note in th paper version. . . .

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

My husband started the puzzle last night on his iPhone. I started it this morning on my iPad. I was able to submit with no problem (using a to represent the apostrophe). He had exactly the same thing, but kept getting Incorrect Cells. He was able to submit finally by deleting the app and installing it (and logging in again and redoing the whole puzzle). You might try fixing it by using the reset option in settings--that may work, but we didn't try it.

Unknown 8:27 AM  

Anon @7:25, your comment made this puzzle worth doing. Thanks!

Otherwise, I agree with Rex 100%. Also with acme..I had MARILYN MONROE and the circles filled in before I even got the NW finished and so completing it felt routine. Plus, the shape made for so many 3 and 4 letter words....ugh.

remplit 8:30 AM  

I got the iPad app to accept the answer with an "A" by uninstalling and reinstalling. Kept my streak alive (the last interruption was another app issue) but, since I already knew the answers, I'm now #2 on the leader board! I know it's cheating but it wasn't on purpose. If it happens again I'll let the timer run for several minutes before submitting. I'm usually lucky to crack the top 10%.

Questinia 8:37 AM  

I did the puzzle on an iPad at 10PM yesterday. Used A for the apostrophe and it worked.

evil doug 8:42 AM  

Guess I'll take the over on San Fran's accounting today. Could there be a 'metaphysically impossible' rating as a result of the poor shlubs who continue to obsessively try every letter/number/symbol in order to keep their massive 378-day streaks alive? I'm a fan of any puzzle that causes such aggravation among anal morons.


Carola 8:52 AM  

DNF because of the apostrophe. I solved in the newspaper, which, as @wordie noted, did not have the Note about the punctuation mark. Just was totally stymied by the extra square. Otherwise liked it fine, with MARILYN MONROE across the the opening of the song (okay, the opening word plus the last letter of the last word, um, yeah.)

Some more music...ARIA, ARR, AUDIO on your iPOD...

New to me: KIKI DEE, JET LI, AHN, FLO, ELIEL, and this particular ADAM. Didn't understand SWM until coming here.

Milford 9:08 AM  

I still can't get Magmic app to accept, but luckily I have no streak to care about. Finished in a medium-ish kind of time.

Gimmick was fine, the diamond looked like a diamond to me, and I'll go with the DD start as a MARILYN-reference, as Anon 7:25 suggested!

ARGO and VALE were written in quickly, which gave me MARILYN MONROE, and soon half the puzzle was filled. Got more bogged down with the fill, especially the middle, where the grid sort of worked its way into a bottom corner, oddly.

Loved NEAT FREAKS and TRAWL. KIKI was in one of the first puzzles I did, and it killed me then.

@Evan - if it helps , the Latin good-bye VALE (actually pronounced wall-ay) is the base for the word valedictorian, the person who gives the good-bye speech. Cool, huh?

lawprof 9:19 AM  

Fun factor for me is determined by how sloppy my grid looks after finishing (which is one reason I use ink on paper - there's no disguising the writeovers). Today's puzzle was a big sloppy mess, which equates to tons of fun. Yeah, it was gimmicky; yeah, it was inconsistent; yeah, it didn't follow expected (NYT) conventions. But c'mon...sometimes weird is good. This was good.

Bob O'Brien 9:24 AM  

The suggestion to reset the app in iPad Settings worked. Thanks to those who suggested it. Of course I lost the "completion" history for the several years of puzzles I had done, but perhaps that's a blessing as now I get to do them again!

Disclaimer - upon finishing, I (VicariousBob) appeared as #1 for the day. I transcribed my prior answers, so this is a false time. My completion was more like 20 minutes for this one.

fitchick 9:33 AM  

I thought it was one of the worst puzzles I've ever seen! Perhaps the ipad app version had more information regarding the weird substitutions. The newspaper version was just badly conceived. Often when I find the daily crossword, well"puzzling", it'a challenge and I learn at least one useful word or concept from it - not today!!

Norm 9:33 AM  

Thank God it's Thursday, and there's a BEQ to do. This one was ... (Rex would not like the word I want to use, so I'll leave it at that.)

Notsofast 9:33 AM  

I liked TARTUP, SNERD, KIKIDEE, NEATFREAKS, JETLI, and several clever clues. Also like the left-right mirror image grid. And Rex's comment about WARNME not being a "thing" puzzles me. I think the clue is a good one. So, except for the forced diamond shape fill, I thought it was very nice. And even that didn't bother me too much. I like weird stuff.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Rather than uninstall and reinstall, I did the puzzle on a different device. So my streak is alive, but my score for today and my overall rank for the next few weeks is a complete lie.

Zwhatever 9:49 AM  

Liked it fine until I didn't. Nothing in the paper about the apostrophe, so the song title is simply too short. Best part of the puzzle is I turned off the dithering on the radio about the "offensive" Rolling Stone cover. Apparently much of America is shocked to learned that good looking people can do evil things.

Anyway, back to the puzzle... The animated NE (BRAVE and the LORAX) was the first to fall. Then KIKI DEE got me into the NW. That gave me enough letters to see MARILYN MONROE and the Diamond. Oops, the title is too short. I worked out everything but that little ABC-S section. An apostrophe never occurred to me since Diacriticals and punctuation are never included in a puzzle.

In the end we have a DIAMOND with flaws.

chefbea 9:52 AM  

60 comments already!!!! I'll read them later.

Tough puzzle for me and DNF. What is SWM. Too many things I didn't know.

And I'm sure this question will be answered in the comments...What is the Movie celebrating it's 60th anniversary today. Shouldn't it be in the puzzle??

Questinia 9:56 AM  

@chefbea SWM= Single White Male. Movie= Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

B Donohue 9:59 AM  

Wow, after super easy M-T-W this week, I struggled with a few squares here. Am embarrassed to say that I needed some crosses and time to pick MARILYNMONROW.


I'd never heard of any of them, except perhaps once of SNERD.

I missed, but love in retrospect the clue "Mr. Hamburger?"

I agree with Rex on IMAM. It would have been better to pick a Middle East country with a more pronounced religious population (e.g. Egypt, Yemen, Saudi) rather than one known to most Westerners as simply a very wealth enclave with oil and gas companies, financial services firms, and emirs.

The first capcha I was given had an umlaut!

Thanks, Rex.

Michael Leddy 10:00 AM  

Gosh, this was awful.

The apostrophe with ABCs is a tricky point. I lean to no apostrophe. But with the plural of a word, an apostrophe is an option (see Garner’s Modern American Usage. And ABC is a word, not an acronym. But even so!

I often have difficulty fathoming Will Shortz’s idea of what’s clever or amusing. To my mind,
is about as exciting as

B Donohue 10:00 AM  

I meant to spell MONROE....

John V 10:03 AM  

Count me just frustrated at not seeing the apostrophe, getting snagged in the North and SW. Liked the theme but the fill was brutal in spots.

Not a candidate for my short list, alas. Saw David's name and was excited. So it goes.

joho 10:33 AM  

LOL at @anon. 7:25! I hated the DD's until I didn't with your hilarious comment. Not to mention, if the double D's were intentional I can even forgive that awful apostrophe!!!

Noam D. Elkies 10:35 AM  

Solved on paper (IHT in Germany), and enjoyed it, even though I had no idea (and no reason to care) that "Diamonds are a girl's best friend" was a Monroe doctrine. [If either a diamond or a dog is your best friend then you must go out and get better friends, but I dogress.] The "ahastrophe" (nice one, r.alphbunker!) helped, and made it appropriately tricky for Thursday even though the entire song title was so familiar. "Second square" complaints make no sense to me: the pentagonal "diamond" is a closed contour, so any starting square is as good as any other; if anything, starting on an unusual square made it more interesting. My thanks to Todd and David (and Will), who should ignore the grumps and dumps from Rex and his acolytes: durum Rex, sed non lex (Rex is harsh but he's not the Law).


Toad 11:16 AM  

Those here who disliked this puzzle have well covered my reaction to it, but my curiosity lingers on. In the paper version, how does the letter z substitute for an apostrophe? Whatzs goinz on hereq

Another poser: Several comments here refer to the image formed by the grey squares as a diamond shape, which, obviously, it is not. The image is in the shape of a diamond ring, not a diamond. How can people who do crossword puzzles make such a mistake? Gee whi''

Miette 11:19 AM  

"A" worked for me with the Magmic App on my Blackberry.

OISK 11:31 AM  

I am with JFC. I liked, enjoyed, and correctly finished this one. I started out NOT liking it, since I don't enjoy product (NAPA) and pop culture (LORAX) clues. But once I caught the theme, I changed my mind. It took me a long time for a Thursday, but time well spent! Great work, David and Todd. (never heard of Philip Ahn either, but I had _err, and when I got to "H", OH!! someone who lives in Hamburg!!!)

One minor quibble. I have never known anyone who pronounced his name "R T " who didn't spell it "ARTIE". I think that "ARTE" is a bit "ARTY" .

Milford 11:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Kerfuffle 11:48 AM  

At first glance at the grid, I thought we might have a Superman theme coming. But, no.

Ave atque VALE!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:50 AM  

Must confess to one write-over, 33 A, had ABJURE before ADJURE.

jackj 11:57 AM  


Two immediately come to mind, ARTE Johnson of Laugh-in fame and ARTE Moreno who owns the LA Angels of Anaheim baseball team.

Dansah 12:15 PM  

"A" worked on magmic with iPhone 5

DigitalDan 12:16 PM  

What Rex said.

Mr. Happy Pencil can be obtained by letting Across Lite reveal the apostrophe and then checking the entire grid.

A BEL is not a sound measure, exactly. It's a unit of power. Sound power, along with other kinds such as electronic signal power, are measured in BELs, or more commonly DECIBELs.

chefbea 12:18 PM  

@Toad It is the shape of a diamond that is set in a ring, not the diamond you see in a deck of cards

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Being a bluegrass music fan, as soon as I got ROE I thought "Aha! BILL MONROE!" But his name would have to spelled out in full as WILLIAMMONROE to fit the spaces, producing all sorts of problems with the crosses. And I couldn't think that he ever even appeared in a movie, much less sang in one. (Bluegrass musicians aren't exactly movie idols, not even the Father of Bluegrass Music.) I got the title in the diamond formation before I came up with MARILYNMONROE.

Kay_Rock 12:24 PM  

Still doesn't work with iPad version of magmic. I even tried clearing the puzzle and re-entering the answers.

Probably time to end this subscription. Why pay for something so terribly buggy?

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

When I finished the puzzle, I had an "i" instead of the A" for apostrophe. So, I had no punctuation mark in the puzzle. It took me longer than I care to admit to figure out where the "A" needed to go and then it was a guess.

I use Magmic's iPhone app. The "A" worked to solve the puzzle. However, I too have not had a finish time or ranking for weeks. Can't Magmic to solve that failure.

I initially HATED thus puzzle. But after mulling it over, I find its cleverness very appealing.

LaneB 12:33 PM  

If this had been submitted by anyone other than regular constructors, it would have been rejected with a kind note. It violates so many of the rules and standards. GIRLZS?, DIY?,, too many abbreviations, etc. . Finished the thing but couldn't agree with Rex's write-up more.

Mohair Sam 12:34 PM  

Didn't hate this as much as most folks, probably because it was easy when you got the theme.

But hey, that movie wasn't all that good. Will we get a 25th anniversary puzzle for Ferris?

OISK 12:38 PM  

a@Jackj - Thanks for the "Artes". Arte Johnson jumped into my mind right after I posted. Thought Moreno was just "Art," but I am sure you are right. I still think that it ought to be spelled "Artie" though!

Unknown 12:47 PM  

I got it to work with an "A" using the iPad app. I could not get anything to work for the iPhone app.

Good luck.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

This puzzle 31-across.

Unknown 12:58 PM  

Boring, dumb, pointless.

AZPETE 1:00 PM  

Glad at least some of you are sane! Puzzles are fun for me. I try to finish without googling, but sometimes I can't. When I do ... yes! I don't time myself and could care less. I guess a lot of you have nothing better.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

I thought of Superman too based on the theme shape, but with no singable theme song, and being only a 35 year old movie, quickly abandoned my initial assumption.

jburgs 1:14 PM  

i can't remember exactly but had difficulty with the puzzle registering complete as well but on checking with the revealer, I found that I had made an error elsewhere that was messing things up and once that was corrected the puzzle was recorded as complete. Since it seems that the "a" for apostophe worked for many apple users is it not possible that those who it did not work for actually had an error elsewhere. Not being an expert on this I would like to hear if this makes sense.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

No, jburgs, someone from Magmic admitted there was a problem and fixed it last night, but for some software-related reason many users haven't been able to download the corrected version without uninstalling and reinstalling the whole app. (I had the whole puzzle done, with only the glitchy apostrophe/A left, and was eventually able to submit the corrected version with no other changes. I also had checked it against several solutions on the web, before I was sure that the problem was the software, thinking that I might have some other error.)

I think the problem only affected those of us who tried to do the puzzle when it was first released last night, while those who waited until this morning never downloaded the defective version.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

First glance at blank puzzle suggested Superman's S -- but I got MARILYN MONROE and figured out "Diamonds are a girl's..." in a few brief moments. But then I just... couldn't... make... it... fit... GAKK, that apostrophe is obnoxious!!!

Bird 1:47 PM  

Wow! 93 comments already?!

This did not “stick the landing”. By a long shot. Awkward, obscure, difficult, clue/answer and/or cross combinations. Big fat D.N.F. My first thought about the shaded squares (dead tree version) was that they looked like a heart and didn’t look twice (if I saw the diamond I would have gotten a lot further, but probably still not DNF). Tripped up big time by 65A (hand up for never using the apostrophe: ABCs). Does anybody clip an iPod to their belt?

I think the concept of the theme is very good, but this one needed more work.

@Anon7:25 – Nice observation.

joho 1:59 PM  

ok, more I think about it, the more I want to know if starting out with the double D was done on purpose. Todd? David?

Rufus Bergen 2:05 PM  

Yeah, crazy that ventriloquism works on radio. I took a lesson from Edgar, as I did all my life, and tried to make it work for me. See, I was a magician (we had a dual act when we were kids), and if ventriloquism could work on radio, why not magic? I mean, what's the difference between pulling a rabbit out of a hat on the radio and making a dummy talk on radio?

Somehow, magic doesn't work on radio. That rat-bastard Edgar always had all the luck.

allan 2:11 PM  

I don't post often, and I don't always agree with Rex, but today he is dead on. It's puzzles like this that make me shout: "When will Shortz retire?"

OISK 2:18 PM  

Yes, I clip an IPOD to my belt, when carrying it in a pocket is inconvenient - at a baseball game, for example. The case is designed to be clipped to a belt.

Again, I enjoyed this puzzle, despite the liberties that were taken in construction. Creative, inventive, and fun.

Bird 3:00 PM  

@OISK - Thanks. I see all kinds of phones, but can't recall ever seeing an iPod or similar tablet. Then again maybe what I'm seeing are tablets, phones, pdas, etc. BTW - I carry mine in my pocket.

PS. Googling "marilyn monroe cup size" yields 36D as the answer. Too bad.

ahimsa 3:15 PM  

Hi! I'm a new NY Times puzzle subscriber. I've been following this blog for a while, though, since I've been doing the syndicated version of the puzzle up 'til now.

I like the overall theme and the diamond pattern in the grid. And I did not mind the fill being rather constrained by the gimmick. That's a tradeoff I can live with especially when the fill also includes SLATHER, NEAT FREAKS, and LORAX.

Even the apostrophe in the song title and HE'S did not bother me (but I print out the puzzle to solve it so no online issues for me). As soon as I realized that the song title was one square too short ("oops! I'd better stop filling in these circles...") then I waited for the crosses and eventually figured it out.

However, the apostrophe in the plural ABC'S is a real clunker. I was hoping the NY Times would adhere to a style that omits apostrophes in most plurals (other than a few minor exceptions).

So, while I'm no grammar or punctuation expert, I do wish the cross had been a possessive rather than a plural. Maybe ABE'S? (change TICS to TIES) I can't think of a good clue for ABE'S but even an obscure one seems better than ABC'S.

There are several websites bemoaning the poor use of apostrophes (e.g., http://www.apostropheabuse.com/) so it's clear that people feel strongly about this. :-)

retired_chemist 3:27 PM  

A bit annoying, for the reasons others have stated vociferously, but I don't think it deserves the odium it is getting. The double D and the apostrophe, annoying as they are, aren't IMO fatal flaws. Apparently some of you found a hint about the apostrophe - AL, no.

The theme was a big help in the solve (my criterion for a good theme). The fill was actually good overall. Hand up for EMIR, of course, for TAN as a neutral shade, and for Penn STA (or STN).

Eventually worked it all out but never got Mr. Happy Pencil. AL wants a Z, which was SO not obvious for the apostrophe, but I knew apsotrophe was what went in that square.

Not quite a diamond in the rough but pretty good overall. Thanks, Messrs. Gross and Steinberg.

Peter T 3:33 PM  

Twice "capital" was used in a definition making me think it was a trick requiring an answer that was a type of money, not a city. Dictionary check suggests that this spelling is acceptable, but I was always taught that it should be "Capitol".

janinedc 3:38 PM  

I was taught that "capitol" is used for the actual building, but "capital" is used for the city. Did anyone else learn it that way?

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

@Peter T - The building is the capitol, the city is the capital.

Peter T 3:43 PM  

Right you are. I stand corrected!

Lewis 3:46 PM  

I like the big old happy face in the middle. It's interesting in that this puzzle is symmetrical E/W but not N/S.

Rex brings up a good point. If you can't figure out a way to make the theme elegant, do you scrap the puzzle? Rex says yes, WS thought it was close enough to elegant to publish. I lean toward Rex, but I can see that in the end, it is a judgement call. Where do you place the bar?

There was some good clever and tricky cluing (I especially liked the clues for IOU and HERR) and a good amount of grid gruel (APU, ELIEL, ALG, AHN, URI, SRTA, ALBA, WARNME).

For me it wasn't an OHNO as it was for Rex, but not one to hand out AUTOGRAPHS for. Not a big fun factor...

Unknown 4:00 PM  

I agree that the DDIAMONDS thing and the apostrophe thing both are lame accommodations to the theme. It's like a toy you have to break to get into the box, ruined by the fact that it doesn't FIT.

But I'm a sucker for puzzles that include pretty pictures-- I was sitting in a hosp. gown a month ago awaiting surgery when I solved the SECRETARIAT Sunday Puzzle, with much awe and joie that the circled letters were also in alphabetical order.

The thing that really galled me about this puzzle today is something I don't think anyone else has mentioned: 22D "Like some books nowadays" ONTAPE. On TAPE??? Dear god is this "nowadays" we refer to 1986? The one remaining cassette player in our life is covered with paint, out in the garage, where my husband sometimes listens to a our few surviving late-80s cassettes.

Couldn't they at least clue it "Best format for Jane Fonda workout"? or something?

Nowadays! I ask you!

Joe The Juggler 4:02 PM  

@ Ahimsa (and others agreeing with Rex that "ABC'S" is really bad): did you see Rex's more flagrant abuse of an apostrophe?

"I don't think of IMAM's as belonging to countries."

Sorry, but I have to do this:

O! Thou oft-abused punctuation mark!

Mighty Nisden 4:06 PM  

I remember long ago the first time that I did a rebus puzzle. I was so mad!!! It was so unfair!!

Now, I love them. I look forward to Thursday's and am disappointed when there is not a gimmick.

Years ago a rebus was not tolerated, but then, I believe that the puzzle world needed to have some more difficulty, so it was accepted and then became part of the culture. We may be seeing another change, and change is good.

I loved this puzzle, even though I could not figure out the apostrophe. I decided that the weird square would be placed at the bottom of the diamond as if it were a setting.

Dare I say that there will be more of these tricks in store. Thank you Todd and David for the excellent effort, and thank you Will for letting them go a little out of the box.

ahimsa 4:10 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ahimsa 4:14 PM  

I agree that the "ON TAPE" clue should not have included nowadays. I thought someone else had already mentioned that here? I see now that it was Deb Amlen on the Wordplay blog.

Another tidbit from the Wordplay blog that has not been mentioned here yet (or maybe I missed it?) is that 60 years is the diamond anniversary. So that's another layer of the theme.

@Joe The Juggler, I thought Rex was making a joke when he typed IMAM's.

Anonymous 4:15 PM  

Joe E. Brown was in Some Like It Hot. This song was in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

sanfranman59 4:16 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 17:32, 16:12, 1.08, 67%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 13:06, 9:27, 1.39, 89%, Challenging

Carola 5:21 PM  

With that apostrophe still rankling, I just did a search on the NY Times site for "ABCs" to see what their style manual dictates. An apostrophe is used in their headlines: "The ABC’s of the Health Care Law and Its Future," ABC’s of Accommodations," "The ABC’s of HFR 3-D" but not when quoting someone else's title: "The ABCs of Death (2012)."

retired_chemist 5:26 PM  

@ Carola - are you just reporting facts or do you see an implicit logic in this? If so, please tell us.

acme 5:33 PM  

Yes, the idea really was a gem...
esp if it's true that 60th anniversary is DIAMOND...
Plus the shape was nice and there was still symmetry...
and the DoubleD in ref to Marilyn is funny.

I think folks are more bent out of shape over the tech not working properly.
It would have been much better if the apostrophe thing worked in both directions or that that was the gimmick that ALL the punctuation marks were in the puzzle,
that would be really neat!!!

So as @rex said, it was flawed, but not enough to warrant the outcry that has more to do with technical failures than with a bright idea, which this certainly was.

I mean, DIAMOND anniv of DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND is fabulous anyway you look at it...and the shape of a diamond to have the letters be the right amount!!!

So, drag about the apostrophe, but let's not lose sight that the idea still shone thru for the most part.

I also thought books ONTAPE seemed dated. I put in ONlinE. So funny!

I am going to get that latin phrase tattooed over my heart: DURUM REX SED NON LEX

Wayne 5:34 PM  

I have to agree with Rex 100% on this one. What a mess. DNF in the SW. Not because I couldn't have puzzled it out. But because by then I DNCare.

jae 5:45 PM  

@Catherine Park -- I had to erase ONLINE.

I printed this out in AL, did it with my PaperMate ClearPoint .05 @KFC, and never saw the note. So, figuring out the apostrophe was part of what made this a fun/tricky Thurs. When I revisited the NYT site I spotted the note. Very glad I missed it the first time. It would have cheapened the solve.

jae 5:49 PM  

@Andrea -- You posted ONlinE while I was writing. Great minds...?

Unknown 6:05 PM  

I originally had ONLINE too!! That would be a little more like reality nowadays.

Unknown 6:13 PM  

Re: SNERD. First off, I was thinking that just referring to him by his last name was weird. Hello, it's MORTIMER Snerd, people! Maybe "Dummy of Radio's nametag?" would've been better. But then, like Rex, I was all, "Wait a minute-- what's the point of having a ventriloquist on the radio?" It makes no sense, not nowadays anyway.

Carola 6:18 PM  

@retired_chemist - Just reportin' - although it seems right that they wouldn't change someone else's title to fit their style guidelines. I was mainly curious to see whether the puzzle's "ABC's" matched the Times's usage otherwise.

Noam D. Elkies 6:46 PM  

P.S. It's a riff on this ancient Latin legal maxim.

Miss Riggy 7:23 PM  

I agree with all the complaints about the puzzle. Especially, as an editor, it is painful for me to put an apostrophe into a plural!

michael 7:40 PM  

This is one day that I am really glad to have solved with pen and paper. But even though I solved the old-fashioned way, I blanched at on tape. Didn't mind the apostrophe (except from the standpoint of punctuation), but found the double dd weird.

Sandstress 8:20 PM  

My biggest complaint with the puzzle is that I haven't been able to get "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" out of my head all day...

Rube 8:56 PM  

Atrocious puzzle!

jburgs 9:18 PM  

You purists should stop whining (except those poor souls who did not have the note explaining the trick and those who had software glitches). I had the note on my version and felt it was fair notice and had fun getting to the aha. I liked the puzzle.

Zwhatever 9:27 PM  

Very curious that the paper version had no note. I have always presumed the paper had the "official" version and that software then adapted the puzzle based on the limitations of the software (circles instead of grayed squares, for example). I'm sticking with "flawed diamond."

C Strecker 9:38 PM  

I didn't hate thiis puzzle. I only hate not being able to get a Well Done from the NY Times iPad app.

Sean Dobbin 9:52 PM  

Pure bologna.

Good for David and Todd for getting this published, and I'm sure they're fine people, but the truth is that this puzzle would never have been accepted, imo, if the name Steinberg wasn't attached to it.

I feel like during the next editorship people will look back on the Shortz era in disbelief at the sheer amount of cronyism, in much the same way that people today shake their heads at the amount of crosswordese during the Maleska era.

Sorry, this is just an insult to other constructors.

sanfranman59 10:03 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 5:43, 6:09, 0.93, 18%, Easy
Tue 6:51, 8:13, 0.83, 7%, Easy
Wed 7:39, 9:43, 0.79, 8%, Easy
Thu 17:43, 16:12, 1.09, 68%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:32, 3:46, 0.94, 18%, Easy
Tue 4:09, 4:57, 0.84, 4%, Easy (8th lowest ratio of 189 Tuesdays)
Wed 4:44, 5:36, 0.84, 11%, Easy
Thu 12:27, 9:27, 1.32, 85%, Challenging

Due to this puzzle's idiosyncratic nature, I suggest taking today's stats with a fistful of salt. Only 3 previous Thursdays in my spreadsheet have fewer online solvers (today=238 vs. a Thursday average of 357 since last July). IMHO, I think Rex is about right with his relative difficulty rating of Medium.

Masked and Apostrophous 11:52 PM  

Hi, from Tulsa. What a smorgasborg of commentary today. Just gettin back on the hotel computer, to see it all. Relieved to see that 4-Oh has evidently behaved himself while in these parts, and his site ain't blocked, here.

Fave stuff: Diamond anniversary theme. Hadn't thought of that angle. Give that puz an uptick.
Good or bad, concensus seems to be that this puz is one weird mother. That's a big uptick, in my book.
The double-D innuendo. I think that theory is a bust. Neutral tick.
ABCZS punctuation riff. Unusual. Zpostrophe? Uptick, for bein so mysterious. I'm told that the NSA is tryin to figure this one out.
Puz never mentions the movie's name, which was my early mornin bonepik. Was sure fun tryin to come up with a list o'candidates, tho. Fun = uptick.
Lost in the shuffle was the decent U-count of 7. Seven upticks.

Clearly this puz has lots of ticks. I say give these constructors and Shortzmeisters a break. They went to the wall, and off the wall, for us all. Clean off that there wall, and move let's on.

Joe The Juggler 10:23 AM  

@Joe The Juggler, I thought Rex was making a joke when he typed IMAM's.

So did I. I mostly mentioned it (a second time) to whip out my apostrophe to the apostrophe.

Toad 11:04 AM  

I have just read all 133 comments here and find that on balance they miss the mark. This is the worst crossword puzzle construction I have ever seen in the New York Times, and solvers with good things to say about it here should have been fare more critical of these flaws:

1. Starting the answer to a clue from the second square with no hint whatever to the transposition is, as Rex Parker has noted, cheating. It is not a challenge; it is an unacceptable failure of construction.

2. The apostrophe is represented by the letter A in the version for iPads and iPhones and the letter Z in the newspaper version. This is an unprecedented bungle.

3. On-line solvers were instructed to replace the apostrophe with an A, and those filling in the blanks of the newspaper version had absolutely no way of guessing that a Z was required. Obviously, Therefore, the puzzle was unsolvable.

4. Neither and A nor a Z represent the apostrophe in grammatical source books – including the New York Times Style Book, and neither letter substitution makes any sense whatever.

5. The squares that are gray on paper and circled on line do not form a diamond shape. They form the shape of a diamond in a diamond ring.

6. It is doubtful than anyone on earth has ever called a moccasin a “moc.”

Avid puzzle solvers all have interesting things to say here, but those who enjoyed solving this puzzle imply that it was, therefore, suitably designed. With that logic, it seems to me, things here could get a lot worse before they get better.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

My ipad app would only show it completed by leaving the "apostrophe" cell blank!!

Head-Desk 3:49 PM  

"5. The squares that are gray on paper and circled on line do not form a diamond shape. They form the shape of a diamond in a diamond ring."

What kind of diamonds did you think Marilyn was singing about????

Chip Hilton 3:55 PM  

@Toad. You sound like you need a sedative, or a stiff drink. Geez, lighten up. This is meant to be recreation. Yeah, you didn't like it. Got it.

Lois 7:21 PM  

I can see from here that most are strongly against using an apostrophe with ABCs. But as Michael Leddy points out and as Carola asks pertinently about usage at the Times, it is possible to use the apostrophe there, though apparently it has become less common than 40 years ago, I think. The idea would be related to pluralizing letters and numbers, such as in "There are two t's in the word 'letters.' " A similar case would be in the pluralization of decades, as in "the 1980's." Apparently, most people use "the 1980s" now, but I don't know what the Times usage is on that one. "1980's" used to be common indeed. My Harcourt Brace Handbook allowed both usages, I think. See http://www.grammar-monster.com/lessons/apostrophes_show_plural_of_abbreviations.htm
It's true that I wasn't wild about using the apostrophe for ABC's here when it was unusual anyway to use punctuation in a puzzle, but the Times often uses variants to add difficulty - or to avoid it.

acme 7:49 PM  

David Steinberg also had the syndicated puzzle same day!
It is not cronyism, constructors are NOT only as good as their last puzzle...
There is no dispute that David is a little genius boy and even his flawed ones are worth taking a look at. I wildly disagree with folks saying it's the worse or should not have been published etc. And Todd ALWAYS tries to be inventive!

It was a swing for the walls (or whatever baseball DIAMOND metaphor you want to put in here) and ended up being a single or double...but definitely on base!

My printed out puzzle had no instructions at all and was still doable...so, there's that! (tho admittedly I tried ABCDS)

spacecraft 10:34 AM  

Sometimes I disagree polarly with OFL; we are VERY different people. Then there is today. He has echoed my thoughts to a T. (Or more properly, I his). I have but one additional PLEA: guys, can you PLEAse stop putting rappers in your puzzles?

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Really? The Lorax was a "hit"?

Gamardo 12:05 PM  

As a syndicated user, our edition had no circled squares, thus the puzzle with an apparent arbitrary apostrophe made absolutely no sense. Yuk.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

Garmado @12:05 Ditto here. I gave up because of the double "D" and the ABC thing, thinking the entire puz was misprinted. Not a nice thing. Put me down as a non-gruntled solver. Blah!!

Ron Diego

Waxy in Montreal 2:30 PM  

Luckily, my paper shaded the squares in question so it was obvious that something special was being spelled-out and/or pictured. In the minority, I guess, as I really enjoyed today's workout. However, solving ground to a halt on the east coast, so had to resort to WIKIpedia for JETLI (who?), after which all was revealed. QED.

Original sermon follower had been AMEN which messed up things but good! Also had ABIE before ARTE and MORTIMERSNERD at 4D, turning the corner at "I".

Enjoyed the Double-D Marilyn reference as well. Too bad the Elton John song in this puzzle wasn't "Candle in the Wind" (Goodbye Norma Jean), written in honour of Marilyn.

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

Did anyone else catch the error in the answer to the "Bloody Mary" clue? She was a Stuart, not a Tudor.

Waxy in Montreal 2:58 PM  

@Anonymous 2:39, actually, the clue is correct. You appear to be confusing Mary, Queen of Scots (a Stuart) with Queen Mary, (Elizabeth's older sister) a Tudor known to history as "Bloody Mary" for having hundreds of Protestants burned at the stake.

Singer 3:05 PM  

The gray squares in my newspaper were so light that I didn't know they were there, so 23A was in a weird place and the song was DDIAMONDS, which was bizarre. Without seeing the shaded squares in the shape of a diamond in a ring, the theme was useless and the apostrophe square was completely uninferable. If the gray shading had been darker or circles had been used, there might have been a chance, but I ended up with a blank square where the apostrophe goes. I also had a personal Natick were KIKIDEE and CAPEK crossed, although I guessed correctly that it was a 'K'.

Solving in Seattle 3:05 PM  

The Seattle Times had no circles and no "apostrophe" instruction, so, I was in the dark scratching my head over the Double Ds (or is it "D's"? or "Dzs"? or Das?) and the square where 65A/58D cross. Wasted about 20 minutes trying to suss it out. After coming to Rexville, I wish the paper had published it with the circles because the diamond actually is a clever idea on several levels.

Todd and Jeff, I forgive you the double Ds.

amen before ETTE. tan before ASH. ONlinE before ONTAPE.

@Waxy, thanks for the history lesson.

capcha: aphserty. Maybe a new noun about apostophy insertion in a crossword puzzle?

Dirigonzo 3:43 PM  

Mine will be the 150th comment on this puzzle (or higher is someone chimes in before me) - I love it when a technical glitch brings out the ire in the speed-solver set. My paper had shaded squares to alert me to a gimmick, which I liked (including the apostrophe, which I also predicted would incur much wrath). I came up one square short at the crossing of the Duchess and the architect.

trylds - advice from a dyslexic tripper.

DMG 4:26 PM  

No circles, no note, no finish, no care! Somewhere between emir and ABCD I decided I have better things to do today, so,off to do them.

Anonymous 5:42 PM  

I guess I found it weirder than the rest of you, because there was no instruction about punctuation, and no circle squares, in the Portland Oregonian's issue of this attrocity! Talk about adding insult to injury!


Anonymous 6:01 PM  

"moc" used frequently to describe shoes....as in "driving moc" as found in Land's End catalog: http://www.landsend.com/pp/StylePage-400675_6H.html?amp;CM_MERCH=REC-_-LIPP-_-GGT-_-1-_-400675-_-400673

Cary in Boulder 6:32 PM  

Agree with Dirigonzo about the online speed solvers whining. My paper puzzle had no circles, shading, nuttin', so no clue what was going on there. Still, I DID get the apostrophe but wondered "so what?"

After breezing through M-W this week I thought, "Gee, maybe I'm finally getting pretty good at this stuff." Wrong. This was SO off my wavelength. Cluing was like a Saturday as far as I was concerned. Amazingly, the first answer I dropped in was FLO, as in Rida, which I only knew because there was a hilarious bit about him on Colbert last week. If I'd done this on 7-18 I would have had no idea.

Anyway, with all the vitriol here today, I guess I'll just pile on and blame my ineptitude on Will S.

Ginger 7:51 PM  

I liked it, yeah, I really did. My paper (SW Washington) had shaded squares (but no note) which helped a bunch in the solve. Write-overs: tan, emir, and amen. While not elegant, it was fun figuring out the ARE A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND. Confess I fell short on the apostrophe, but IMHO, there was much here to like.

@ahimsa-NYT - You have arrived in 'real time', but we'd love to have you drop in to the time warp of syndic-land now and then. I'll miss you.

Unknown 8:10 PM  

You might note that there is an International elementary school in Viet Nam called ABCIS - and the I makes perfect sense as an apostrophe.

eastsacgirl 2:53 PM  

Grrrr...... Sac Bee had no note, no shaded squares, no circles. DNF but I came close. This is the second time in a couple weeks the Bee has screwed up a puzzle for me because of printing errors.

Anonymous 9:01 PM  

No, no, no no. No.

I wanted to like it because of the gimmick, but it broke rules. Change the rules, or give a heads-up explanation to the cheat.

Agree with every single thing Rex said, and everything that anyone above said calling these cheats and clues into question.

And I'll add one more: Penn, e.g. Ivy. No.

Anonymous 9:04 PM  

I will add, however that like eastsacgirl, my syndicated puzzle had no circles nor explanation. I assume that means that others did, and I might have not been so disgusted had I had advance warning.

ahecht 5:58 PM  

With all the talk about the shape of the gray/circled squares, I'm surprised that no one has mentioned how the black squares form the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe with the billowing skirt from “The Seven Year Itch"

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