Eurasian ducks / SUN 10-20-13 / Bell Anne Bronte pseudonym / 1796 Napoleon battle site / Times Square flasher / Italian writer Vittorini / 1980s-90s German leader Helmut / Actress Graff

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski 

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Country Road" — a puzzle honoring the centennial of the LINCOLN HIGHWAY (122A: With 124-Across, dedicated in October 1913, project represented by the 13 pairs of circled letters). States that the highway runs through are represented in the grid by their location and state codes.

Theme answers:
  • 25A: Nickname for the 122- / 124-Across (MAIN STREET ACROSS AMERICA) — I made a "Hands Across America" reference just a few hours ago, while eating Jacques Torrès chocolates with my wife. They sometimes have these little patterns on them, and ... well, you can see it there.
  • 40A: With 105-Across, historical significance of the 122- / 124-Across (THE FIRST MAJOR MEMORIAL TO / THE SIXTEENTH PRESIDENT)
  • 148A: Follows the east-west route of the 122- / 124-Across (TSAOC OT TSAOC MORF SLEVART) — i.e. "travels coast-to-coast" backward)

Word of the Day: LINCOLN HIGHWAY —
The Lincoln Highway was the first transcontinental improved highway for automobile across the United States of America. Conceived in 1912 by Indiana entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, and formally dedicated October 31, 1913, the Lincoln Highway spanned coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, originally through 13 states: New YorkNew JerseyPennsylvaniaOhioIndianaIllinoisIowa,NebraskaColoradoWyomingUtahNevada, and California. In 1915, the "Colorado Loop" was removed, and in 1928, a realignment relocated the Lincoln Highway through the northern tip of West Virginia. Thus, there are a total of 14 states, 128 counties, and over 700 cities, towns and villages through which the highway passes at some time in its history. (wikipedia)
• • •

Never heard of it. Literally, never. Almost 44 years old, driven across the country several times and ... never. Just one of the many yawning gaps in my knowledge of ... everything, I guess. Not knocking the puzzle, just explaining why it doesn't have much meaning to me. I've seen the "states represented in the grid" thing before, and I've seen the backward thing before, a lot (here, awfully gratuitous—no reason to go east-west except just 'cause). It's nicely executed, and I like the mirror-symmetry grid with the weird black shapes. Fill is rough in patches but given the relatively challenging theme, that's not that surprising. Had a bit of a scare at the proper noun crossing of ELIO (104A: Italian writer Vittorini) and ILENE (95D: Actress Graff), but the "L" was inferable (actually I knew the "L"—but I had the actress as ILONA at first; that's Massey. ILONA Massey. Also an actress. This Graff person ... ?). Probably the toughest part for me to get was APPLIED TO (138A: Concerned). I see the connection now, but it wasn't computing mid-solve. Overall, however, this one was stunningly easy. I was done in just over 11 minutes, and this is an *oversized* Sunday grid (23x23 instead of the more standard 21x21).

"Hedgehop" is a word I don't know, so AVIATE (esp. crossing ACTON (33A: ___ Bell (Anne Bronte pseudonuym)) took some work. A lot of the NE was thorny, but somehow I was able to drive enough crosses through there to unlock the tricky multi-word answers and the proper noun I couldn't remember (MORITA) (18D: Sony co-founder Akio). Spelling JANEANE is always dicey. I completely failed my first time through. Had HORNED instead of HOOFED at 125D: Like cattle and reindeer. Wonder if that trap was intentional. It's a good one. Had the war heroes as NCOS (?) (137D: Some war heroes = ACES). Loved discovering IN DRAG at the end of my solve (136A: Wearing clothes fit for a queen?)—nice to finish on a high note. So all in all it's a very professionally made puzzle, but my ignorance of the subject coupled with my having encountered the various theme elements before meant that it didn't resonate much with me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Unknown 12:06 AM  

Well, this was a lot of fun. Quite an involved bunch of theme clues and answers, and that little trick on the last one held me up a bit. Read the clues carefully, why don't ya? I struggled to see DO WORSE, for some reason. Didn't know SOFIA and got a little botched up there. TENPM before AT TEN. As usual, happy to see Ms. Gorski's name, and she didn't disappoint.

Z 12:15 AM  

135 days until spring training.

Didn't read clue to 148A closely so that was a WTF for a long time. Otherwise, what Rex said.

jae 12:16 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  The only things I needed to erase were TasselS for TOECAPS, SMEeS for SMEWS, Agirl for ADATE,  and what I put in 98a when I misread the clue.  Oh, and I had to change the V to an F in HOOFED.  Apparently both are correct?

Didn't realize SLATE TILE was that expensive, was thinking Terrazzo.

Had to guess at the ACTON/ NISI cross, but the N seemed pretty likely.

Delightful breezy Sun.  Nice visual across the center and a tricky final theme. answer made this fun.  

retired_chemist 12:22 AM  

DNF - 6D was ACT I and 29A was IVA. Also Naticked at E(L,r)IO/I(L,r)RENE but guessed right there.

Other than that, medium. A few overwrites. 142D was OFF, then AXE, but finally ICE. 80A was POT before GUT. 8A was TASSELS.

Theme well done. Fill solid and lively,mostly. Favorite clue 136A. I could do without E-MAG and E-BOOKS in the same puzzle.

Thanks, Ms. Gorski.

jburgs 12:31 AM  

Oops I did it again. I had several dnfs lately due to one letter wrong. My last entry today was the 42d(Eurasian duck) and 64a (Freight carrier) cross. I guessed and went with SMEe and ReY thinking that Rey must be a trucking firm or something. After doing so I googled SMEe and was reassured when I found there is a duck named a smee (pintail). It was not until I was filling in the circles and determining they were states that at 64a I should have put in a W. The freight clue now made sense.

It was a fun puzzle that took me a long time to figure out just what exactly the theme was.

As a Canadian, the OTTAWA clue was easy once I had a few letters of it. When Holland was liberated in the fall and winter of 1944, Canadian troops were a large part of this action. In recognition of their efforts, after the war, Holland gifted Ottawa with millions? of tulip bulbs which I believe was the origin of the Ottawa festival. I believe that Holland may still contribute bulbs on a regular basis. My father was one of those troops as part of the Lake Superior Regiment.

Steve J 12:39 AM  

I have heard of the LINCOLN HIGHWAY. I've probably driven on parts of it.

Sad to say, I'd enjoy a long, boring drive across the faceless stretch of NE/IA/IL/IN (and before anyone gets uptight, I lived in two of those four states; while they have nice bits, they're dull as dirt to drive through in a long stretch) more than this puzzle.

Too many Naticks (just had to guess letters at ACTON/NISI, AGLET/AARE and ELIO/ILENE), too much bad fill (NOU, especially paired with that clue, standing out), too large a grid. For this kind of density, and for as much short and ugly fill as a grid of this size and geometry requires, you need an outstanding payoff. This wasn't it.

But what was worst of all was 148A. Why is it right to left? Yes, I should have picked up on the fact that the clue says east-west rather than the typical west-east, but that doesn't remove the question of why this answer, and no others, is flipped? You can communicate the exact same idea in regular left-right/west-east order.

If ever an entry proved the adage "just because you can doesn't mean you should", 148A is it.

I usually like Gorski's puzzles. She does clever things with grids, her clues are usually snappy, and she typically keeps things fresh. I really wanted to like this. And, yes, there were bits I liked. But they weren't enough to overcome what was, for me, a very unpleasant solving experience. To the point that this is probably my least favorite NYT puzzle ever, sad to say.

Anonymous 12:49 AM  

I've long wanting to meet JANEANE Garofalo just so I can grab her by the lapels and shout in her face "Your name is pronounced JANE ANN, not Jeanine"

August West 1:12 AM  

@jae I don't know what your 98A misread might have been (sheA, perhaps?), but I also first entered TasselS, SMEeS, Agirl and HOOvED, as well as seCreT for ESCORT. All miscues except seCreT quickly became clear thanks to the ease of their crosses and surrounding material. The latter vexed me for too long as DO WORSE, STAMPED and DEAF TO were just not leaping out at me from their clues. Chiefly, I think of people stOmping their feet. That NE corner caused me more time than any other part of the puzzle, because I wasn't hung up anywhere else along the solve.

Never heard of the LINCOLN HIGHWAY. Never seen a marker, plaque or other reference to it anywhere within Times Square. Never even noticed, much less needed the states' postal abbreviations filling the circles, as my pen basically flew over the grid.

Actually, I don't see how the state abbreviations could possibly assist pick up of the theme. No one would look at them, slap their forehead and exclaim, "Look at THAT, Hon! There's not only 13 states hidden in here, but they are placed in the sequential order of states we visited last year on our cross-country trip along the Lincoln Highway!" Neat feat of constructing, but superfluous to filling the 23s and reveal. Those unfurled on their own merely by dropping their crosses through them.

Still in under 14 despite my NE debacle. Easy, breezy, sprawling, fun Sunday that some curmudgeonly prig will probably still bash for its inclusion of both EMAG and EBOOKS.

chefwen 2:38 AM  

I was trying to put into words exactly what @Steve J said, now I don't have to. Thanks Steve. By time I got to 148A (I didn't read it thoroughly either)I just said, "I'm sick of this one". I have never said that about a Gorski puzzle before. I even subscribe to her on-line weekly puzzles, which I love. Oh Well!

Save one of those chocolates for me Rex, I like the one with the little yellow figures on it or the dark chocolate heart shaped one, I bet you gave that one to Sandy.

paulsfo 3:16 AM  

I liked it. Took an ungodly long time for me to think about going right to left for 148-across.
I don't see how the L in ELIO/ILENE was inferable, given that IRENE is a more common name.
As a teenager I was once driving 85mph in a pouring rainstorm on the Lincoln Highway (in Indiana) when I was passed by a cop. Apparently there was someone even more stupid than I was, up ahead.

Ellen S 4:46 AM  

All the same writeovers as everyone else, but I enjoyed it, @Jburgs, I think we all need a seminar or crib sheet on Smee, Smew, Snee, and maybe Shmoo. Ans thanks for the nice story on the Tulip Festival!

@anon12:49, I think the same thing every time I see Ms Garofolo's name. But it makes it memorable so I had no trouble with 43D.

Always makes me wince when the English prof is stumped by a literary reference. Not knowing Lincoln Highway, not such a big deal.

Carola 5:18 AM  

Beautiful construction with that undulating row of states across the middle. Nice to learn about the LINCOLN HIGHWAY and the OTTAWA-tulip connection (thanks, @jburgs). Toughish Sunday for me, kept me interested.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:36 AM  

Fine, fun puzzle for me.

Does anyone have anything to say about 155 A, MOTT'S sauce? Somehow I don't use "sauce" and "applesauce" as equivalents. I suppose by my own rule it is remotely plausible, but I wasn't tuned into my Spanish and finished with CUATRE crossing METTS.

MetaRex 7:19 AM  

Time over 2x Rex and also over 2x August West...harrumph...and I knew all of the CrossWorlder's TAE/EMAG/CCCL/SDS CUATRO-some at the top right away...and have driven on the Lincoln Highway w/ MetaRexia and the MetaRexians...a v. pretty stretch of forested ridges and rolling farmland east of Pittsburgh...a slow route but a pleasant one, kinda like the solving process for some of us.

Took my glasses off to see if the black squares pattern would resolve into old Abe...turned into Grumpy Cat instead...

Will the good humor of M&A be threatened by 130A?!?...hard to see it as anything other than a pointed dis...

OldCarFudd 7:41 AM  

Talk about wheelhouse! I think Liz made this puzzle for me. I wonder whether the NYT would allow it to be reprinted in the Horseless Carriage Gazette?

I saw the puzzle title, saw the reference to the dedication, plunked in "Lincoln Highway", and was off to the races.

Speaking of races, Carl Fisher, an early and tireless promoter of the Lincoln Highway, was from Indianapolis. He was one of the developers of the racetrack on which the Indy 500 is run. He was into Florida real estate, having developed a lot of Miami Beach. After the east-west Lincoln Highway, he developed the north-south Dixie highway so people could get to south Florida. He originally made his fortune developing Prestolite, a way of carrying acetylene in tanks on car running boards to operate the gas headlights of the era before automobiles had electrical systems. Before Prestolite, a car with gas headlights had to generate the acetylene as is went along; that was messy and dangerous. My 1912 Buick has a Prestolite tank on its running board (note to Rex: have you heard of a running board?), but it's just for show; it's illegal to refill Prestolite tanks now, not that I'd drive a gas-lit car in modern traffic even if I could.

Separate note: While I appreciate that Canadian soldiers helped liberate Holland, I believe the gift of tulip bulbs to Ottawa was a more personal "thank you". Canada sheltered the Dutch royal family during World War Two. I was briefly in elementary school in Rockcliffe Park, a suburb of Ottawa, with one of the little Dutch princesses.

chefbea 7:45 AM  

Great puzzle!! Have driven from NY to St. Louis (Yeah Cards!!!) many times and have never heard of the Lincoln Highway. Had trouble with the north east and a Natick at acton/nisi...but all in all a fun easy puzzle.

Mohair Sam 7:55 AM  

So 50 years ago I bet on a pacing horse named Belle Acton and lost. Somebody in our group informed us that the horse's name was the name used by Anne Bronte, only flip/flopped. I have no idea how I retained that info but, finally, the bet pays off.

Easy yet really fun Sunday.

Sir Hillary 8:13 AM  

This was not my least favorite NYT puzzle ever. Aside from that, Steve J @ 12:39AM wrote basically what I would have written, including my usual sentiments on the constructor, so I will save myself some keystrokes and everyone else a little time.

Only additional TASER really a verb, as used here? I thought the verb was TASE.

jburgs 8:43 AM  

Old car buff: Thanks for the correction regarding the Ottawa tulip festival. I also had the numbers wrong. The dutch royal family gifted 100,000 bulbs. I really do learn a lot at this blog.
In reading today I also discovered that I had other errors in the grid. Had ACT1/iVA and ErIO/IrENE that had appeared fine at the time.

Questinia 8:45 AM  

Sprawling, as @ August West says, and something for everybody.
The kind of puzzle I remember as a kid. All Sunday puzzles seemed like a carnival.

Little potholes of smee, tassels like @ jae et al. on the road...

@ Steve J. If this puzzle were a pizza, wouldn't it be an extra-large with the works? Maybe the E=>W would be anchovies.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

I'm new to this blog...what's Natick?

Brookboy 9:45 AM  

I liked this one a lot, and like Rex, found it easy. Maybe that's why I liked it. I felt as if I were on the same wavelength as Ms. Gorski.

Unlike others I thought the sly east-west misdirection (148A) was nice. I started the southern portion of the puzzle in the southwest corner, and when I got TSAOCO to begin 148A, I had a WOE moment, then I decided just to do the rest of the fill and see where it took me.

@Anonymous 9:29 - you need to click on the FAQ link at the top of the page and your question about Natick will be answered. Other good info there as well.

bunella 9:46 AM  

Jan eane for the block

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

1-- Many have never heard of the Lincoln Highway including me. Thank you Elizabeth for entertaining _and_ educating.

2-- The New York Times is located in NY. To travel the Lincoln Highway from the origin of the issuance of the puzzle one would have to go from east to west or from right to left (when north is represented as the top of the map which is the convention in N.Y.)

Unknown 10:14 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jberg 10:34 AM  

Finished with an error at IrENE/ErIO. I think I got the R from Ottorino Respighi, not a writer (at least of words) at all. But really I got it from Irene, forgetting the rule that crossword names have to be spelled funny.

I wisely held out on the shoe ornaments until TAE kwon do told me that it was TasselS and not buckles -- took me many crosses to climb out of that hole! Fortunately, TasselS didn't work with sAar. Oh, wait...

And both girl and then Deal before DATE at 128D. That and thinking those animals were HOOvED kept me from seeing even the backward answer (aided by my compass-point dyslexia, which had me thinking the East side of the puzzle was on the left). But really, it was a clever puzzle, and I enjoyed it despite the error.

I had diaN before EGON, too.

@chefbea, the LINCOLN HIGHWAY avoids MO, so you probably didn't take it to St. Louis.

Things I learned from crosswords:

If the duck is Eurasian, it's a SMEW.

But I learned about ACTON, Currer, and Ellis Bell legitimately -- maybe in the editor's foreword to Wuthering Heights. The kind of thing that sticks with you.

Easiest clue ever: 5D
One of the worst ever: 130A. A word plus part of a hyphenated word; does that make it a partial partial?

ArtO 10:36 AM  

Dwight Eisenhower as a Lt. Colonel was in the motorcade making the first cross country trip in 1919. It is perhaps the travails experienced on this trip that inspired him to create the interstate highway system when he was president.

Ellen S 10:36 AM  

@anon 9:29 that's the FAQ link on top of Rex's page, to learn about Natick. Depending on how you got here, these comments might be on a separate page.

Z 10:42 AM  

There is even an interactive map on the interwebs.

WV seems like a stretch since it seems that little stretch was later addition, not a part of the 1913 original.

Beer Rating: Java Vanilla Stout. Creamy, good head, but a little too much going on so you have to be in the right frame of mind to really enjoy. Watching your team blow lots of opportunities and still only lose because of two bad pitches is not the right frame of mind.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Thanks to oldcarfudd for the history about the Lincoln and Dixie Highways. Used to work where the two cross in Chicago Heights, Illinois. Never knew the history but made the theme easy for me.

Glimmerglass 11:02 AM  

@jberg. There are several fascinating biographies of the Bronte sisters (and their equally bright but strange brother). They published at first under male pseudonyms as Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, preserving their initials. For some reason the name "Lincoln Highway" was familiar to me, but it has long since been replaced by Eisenhower's Interstate Highway system. Most solvers will be too young to have driven any part of the LINCOLN HIGHWAY.

Nancy 11:13 AM  

It's always seemed to me that there are two types of hidden tricks in a puzzle: those that must be figured out in order to solve it and those that eventually fill in without the solver even being aware that they are there. The state abbreviations in this one are the latter; I had no idea they were even there until I read this blog. And I wonder: Is this the constructor merely showing off his or her prowess at difficult construction? It's admirable in its way, I suppose, but it adds nothing to the intrigue or pleasure of solving a given puzzle. If I were the constructor, I would skip the whole thing and save my abilities for those things that do add to a solver's delight: the east-to-west answer in this puzzle, for one.

JFC 11:21 AM  

I hope John from Chicago at Wordplay doesn’t mind me repeating his comment here because it’s exactly how I felt:

The significance of the Lincoln Highway, which is not disclosed in the puzzle and only hinted at in the write-up, is that it was the first transcontinental highway that was improved for specifically automobiles.

I am reminded of something I was telling my son recently. When the expressways were built transecting Chicago, they were named more for the direction they went or the street they extended. Shortly after John Kennedy was assassinated, the City renamed the Northwest Expressway after him. In bipartisan spirit they named the Congress Expressway that went east-west to the suburbs the Eisenhower Expressway. But the expressway going south from the Loop was named after a local politician, Dan Ryan.

My avatar is a photo I took looking back over the 16th hole at a course about an hour's drive from downtown Chicago. We had a tee time for three of my son's friends and me for a number of years. As I drove to the course every Saturday morning we would pass under US Rte 30, which the sign said was the Lincoln Highway. Until this puzzle I always thought that was a local naming since Lincoln and Illinois go together. Thanks to Ms. Gorski I have learned it was part of a much larger piece of Americana.

As for my son, he once missed a putt at this hole, causing him to throw his putter to the tops of the oak trees surrounding it (about 150 feet in the air). When it landed the shaft was bent, causing him to spend a few bucks getting it repaired.

PS. The hole is a par 3 about 170 yards. In a playoff in a tournament our foursome entered, my son's associate made a hole in one on the fly, netting my three partners and me $200 apiece.


GILL I. 11:21 AM  

I remember travelling the LINCOLN HIGHWAY. I think it was around 1962 when my mom packed up my sister and me in her 1959 green Chevy Impala. We drove from Sarasota to New Hampshire then shot across country to California.
I don't think I-80 was built then since we sure drove thru lots of towns. We'd only stop if mom spotted a HoJo to spend the night. She said they always had a good martini and a pool for us.
About the only thing I remember vividly (because I slept most of the way which infuriated my mom) was entering Wyoming. I've never seen so much cattle or smelled so much cow shit. Even the restaurant that we went to promising the best steak in the USofA stank.... Then something like this would be sung by mom:
I wish I was a glow worm
A glow worm's never glum.
Cuz how can you be grumpy
When the sun shines out your bum!
Thanks for the memories Elizabeth.
@Tita: Yes! The Alfa Romeo and I should have added the BMW!!! glad you haven't left us...

Steve J 11:26 AM  

@Questinia: Good analogy. I don't typically like pizza with everything on it, because it ends up being a jumbled mess with too many competing flavors. And the crust usually can't stand up to the weight, so it flops around and you spill stuff everywhere. I do like anchovies, though, so I'm going to replace the line of anchovies with pineapple, which I absolutely cannot stand to have on pizza.

@Sir Hillary: I had the same question at first about TASER. Put an A in front of the clue (so it's A stun from a gun ...) and it makes sense.

@Glimmerglass: There are still quite a few stretches of the old route that are marked as part of the old Lincoln Highway, and several communities still use it as a street name. So, even though the interstate system was 80-90% built out by the time I was born, I have personally driven parts of the old route (in Indiana and Iowa, if I recall, and I'm pretty sure I've also seen markers in California).

Norm 11:33 AM  

90D is incorrect but acceptable. ILENE/ELIO was a complete Natick. Thought that 6D should have been clued in a way that indicated you were looking for the French ACTE rather than ACT1, but EVA was more logical than IVA (although, with a jazz/blues singer, it's anyone's guess). I liked the theme, although I think Matt Gaffney's Appalachian Trail puzzle from some years back did it far more elegantly. There was so much short fill in this one, that it was kind of tiring, and I bothered to finish more out of a sense of completeness than enjoyment.

Master Melvin 12:03 PM  

For me the best part of solving this puzzle was learning a lot of new stuff about the LINCOLN HIGHWAY.

The generally elegant construction includes some real clunkers, tho: crossing CATES & ARHAT with STEROLS. ELIO/ILENE. Worst of all: RAZR/RWY.

"Don't TASE me, Bro."

Milford 12:10 PM  

Easy puzzle, solved while watching the Tigers fall apart at the seams.

Never heard of the LINCOLN HIGHWAY. Not sure I've ever traveled on it, I'd have to ask my dad. Did get the state abbrev. fairly early, and was able to fill them in.

Daughter just took the PSAT yesterday, so that was timely here. Had to laugh at the E-MAG next to CCCL - a couple crossword favorites here.

LOW VISION is an awkward phrase, to me.

INKER makes me think of "Chasing Amy" ("you're a tracer").

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

How is the Lincoln Highway the first major memorial to Abraham Lincoln? I was thinking of the Lincoln penny, 1909. But weren't there plenty of memorials to Lincoln before 1913...the SF park that was the inspiration for the name of the highway, for instance? Depends on what you call a memorial, I suppose. Is a highway a memorial? If so, I think a penny is. I think a park is. I think his gravesite is etc.

Google 12:29 PM  



1. a weapon firing barbs attached by wires to batteries, causing temporary paralysis.

verb: taser;

1. fire a Taser at (someone) in order to incapacitate them temporarily.

Mike in ABQ 12:31 PM  

Anyone else think "stun with a gun" is poorly phrased? "Gun with a stun" is more appropriate. Answer to "stun with a gun" would be TASE. Stuns with a gun: TASES.

Ray J 12:42 PM  

@Norm – I’d say “Tartuffe” was the tipoff to think French. Unfortunately I missed it and went with ACTi/iVA. My grandparents lived on Iva Avenue so it had a familiar ring.

The last time I drove across the country was to retrieve an old pickup truck I had left with a friend when I moved back east. It was August and the truck had no AC making for a somewhat uncomfortable trip. I can only imagine what the trip would have been like in 1913. Quite an improvement over wagon trains I suppose.

Ruth 12:53 PM  

The Lincoln Highway runs right smack through my little old home town of Mt. Vernon, Iowa--right down Main Street of the town, past little old Cornell College, my alma mater. My parents both grew up near Chicago, and traveling the Lincoln Highway to go to college was a major element of stories of their youth. Very meaningful to me, for sure--thanks, Liz Gorski!

Questinia 12:53 PM  

@ Steve J, funny because I was going to write pineapple instead of anchovies (which I adore).

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

I travel the Lincoln Highway in Pittsburgh every day. I pass a copper statue of Abe perched on the hill, standing guard over his route.

Yes, the puzzle was fun and easy for me. And I found the necessary state abbreviations useful in solving.

Thank you Ms.Gorski.

quilter1 1:00 PM  

This was fun. We in Iowa have been treated to a few human interest stories involving the Lincoln Highway observing the anniversary year. It's not Rt. 66, but an interesting drive if one wants a different kind of road trip.

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

feel compelled to do my 1st posting here to say this is a very bad puzzle, clues are bad, theme is bad.. Gorski is one of my favorites, is she trying to be cute?

okanaganer 2:38 PM  

I didn't like 75A: "ocean" = noun, BRINY = adjective... at least, it's an adjective 99.99% of the time. Kind of a desperate attempt at a new way to clue a common answer?

But I just loved 24A. Plus, today's grid gave me a flashback to Space Invaders.

Unknown 2:53 PM  

Never heard of TOECAPS. STEROLS even more obscure. Nonetheless loved this puzzle, esp. CASTANETS (they really click) and PANT (hot dog breath)

Badir 3:15 PM  

I think this is the first 23 x 23 in over a year. San Fran Man, do you count them in the regular statistics, since the larger grids naturally take more time to do? I'm guessing Will tries to make the difficulty the same, but then they should take about 23^2 / 21^2 = 529/441 ~ 6/5 as long.

I decided that "ErIO" wouldn't be a good Italian name, so went with ELIO. I know that "NISI" is a legal term, and "ACTON Bell" rang a vague bell :), so I went with that. But then I spent several minutes staring at my ACTa, probably getting confused with "arta". But I knew "entr'acte" (from crosswords), and EVA is more common than aVA, so I finally went with the right choice. I would have had a 23 x 23 record, though, if I hadn't agonized so long.

dick S 3:37 PM  

Before there was "Route 66" on TV, there was "The Lincoln Highway" on radio.

Dramas each week with different casts and writers. This was in 1940-1942 on Saturday morning. I was 7. If you got tired of America's Main Street, there was "Grand Centrel Station". Gas was rationed. You got your travel how you could.

It even had a theme song ... give a listen:

mathguy 4:21 PM  

Delightful puzzle. Learned what the Lincoln Highway is (even though it originally ended in my home town, San Francisco, at Lincoln Park (a golf course and home to one of our museums, Legion of Honor). It also listed the states it ran through. A lot of cute clues, especially "wearing clothes fit for a queen?"

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

I Think this puzzle was crummy. It was filled with a lot of crap answers, to be honest. Low vision? Taser? Lincoln Highway was a slam dunk for me, but all the bogus misused words screwed me up.

joho 4:55 PM  

What I love about Liz Gorski's puzzles is ... everything.

Her attention to detail (see circled states along the route), extreme theme density (see 25A, 40A, 105A, 122A, 124A and 148A. And always a twist, here it's a twist in the road at 148A.

I also think Liz loves beautiful things such as the memories this puzzle evoked for @Gill I.P. and @ Ruth among many others I suspect.

I have never heard of the LINCOLN HIGHWAY but am happy to know it exists and have an urge to travel north here in Ohio just to find it! 5:33 PM  

PBS stations in MD periodically run an hour-long show about the history of the Lincoln Highway and its deteriorating condition. Just saw it last month so the theme was readily apparent to me. A very entertaining and informative program for you to catch sometime.

LaneB 6:47 PM  

Finished but found it boring and replete with odd words and misleading clues, An unsatisfying Sunday.

OISK 7:02 PM  

Finished it, giving me a perfect week after 4 DNF (usually just one pop-culture square) last week. Pleasant puzzle, solved it on the plane from Columbus (went to Ohio State game yesterday) to NY. Never heard of Lincoln Highway either, but its existence is interesting, unlike the existence of "DMX ," "Whip it" and "WhatsupG" in yesterdays awful (for me) puzzle. Being away from home saved this site another nastygram, short and semi-poetic -
Hip-hop, pop slop, STOP! ( I did not, as many others did, find Saturday's puzzle easier than Friday's. Disliked both, finished both, but Friday's went faster, because I just couldn't accept that "Whatsupg" could possible be an answer. On topic, though, thanks for a very suitable and interesting Sunday.

mac 8:32 PM  

Quick for a Sunday for me, but I did end up with the R in Erio/Irene.

Wasn't very happy with the clues for Taser and low vision, either.

@SteveJ and @Questinia: I'm reading an interesting book called "My Berlin Kitchen" by Luisa Weiss in which she also says to not put too much stuff on a pizza or it will spoil the crust. Today I went to Eataly to buy anchovies, salted capers and colatura sauce (anchovy based). Am concocting a dinner on Wednesday will 4 of her recipes.

John in Philly 8:47 PM  

Brilliant puzzle. Thank you, Liz. Btw - big article appeared on the Lincoln why recently in the NYT!! hello Rex??!

sanfranman59 9:22 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 6:13, 6:07, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:14, 8:15, 0.88, 15%, Easy
Wed 13:48, 9:44, 1.42, 97%, Challenging (6th highest ratio of 198 Wednesdays)
Thu 11:33, 16:30, 0.70, 7%, Easy
Fri 27:17, 17:47, 1.53, 100%, Challenging (highest ratio of 199 Fridays)
Sat 28:35, 26:35, 1.08, 74%, Medium-Challenging
Sun 34:34, 27:42, 1.25, 91%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:43, 3:46, 0.99, 38%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:24, 5:09, 0.85, 6%, Easy
Wed 7:39, 5:37, 1.36, 98%, Challenging (5th highest ratio of 198 Wednesdays)
Thu 6:58, 9:27, 0.74, 8%, Easy
Fri 14:53, 10:07, 1.47, 96%, Challenging (8th highest ratio of 199 Fridays)
Sat 18:51, 16:56, 1.11, 75%, Medium-Challenging
Sun 26:21, 19:20, 1.36, 87%, Challenging

Today's ratings are somewhat inflated by the jumbo size of the grid, but since I kind of flew through this puzzle (albeit in twice our host's time), I'm a bit surprised that it rates as it does. It helps that I was born and raised in a northeast Ohio city through which the Lincoln Highway passes (Massillon, in case you're interested).

Steve J 10:20 PM  

@okanaganer: BRINY is also a noun (a bit slangy, and more than a bit British) meaning "the sea". Legit clue/answer.

phage 10:46 PM  

Thought the geographic spacing of the states was awesome. Just chiming in to point out that Gorsky has employed this answer-runs-in-reverse gimmick before; see her "High Definition" puzzle, published April 29, 2001.

phage 10:47 PM  

Oops! I meant Gorski, not Gorsky.

Unknown 10:59 PM  

I hate it when I spend an hour on a puzzle and Rex rates it 'easy'.

sue pb 11:57 PM  

Always love me a Gorski puzzle! The Best!

Davis 1:36 AM  

Another ErIO/IrENE finisher here. Not sure why Rex thought that was inferrable.

I'm normally a big fan of Gorski puzzles, but I have to say that this one didn't do much for me. Cool construction, but the solving experience was very middle-of-the-road.

nurturing 1:59 AM  

I was just thinking about Elizabeth Gorski (and wondering when another puzzle constructed by her would appear)when I opened today's NYT Magazine. I was so delighted to see her name!

SUCH an enjoyable, clever puzzle. Gorski never disappoints. I wish she constructed the Sunday puzzle EVERY week!

I solved with a smile on my face, especially when the last theme answer finally dawned on me!

Unknown 2:17 AM  

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Anonymous 3:19 PM  

Rex: Just a small quibble, because I love your commentaries: the sometimes over-emphasis on the speed of your solve. As with music -- when someone says that so-and-so's version of a song is 'better' than someone else's -- we're not all in this to 'win.' James

Anonymous 6:58 AM  

First heard of the Lincoln Highway in the sixties as a folkie. There´s a Woodie Guthrie song called Hard Travelin. As sung by the Kingston Trio: "I been doin´ some hard travelin´, I thought ya knowed...I been travelin´that Lincoln Highway...I been travelin´that 66." Since then I noticed the signs whenever I drove on parts of it.

Roberto 10:26 AM  

Ok I'm otta' here. For me this was not easy. Eurasian ducks and travels coast to coast backwards are not easy for this guy. I have to believe they're not easy for a lot of people. This site is for a very elite group of puzzle solvers. You're just out of my league.

Anonymous 5:06 AM  

jburg ~ Ottawa has a tulip festival because the Dutch royal family was sheltered there during WWII, with one of the princesses being born there. In appreciation Ottawa was gifted with tulip bulbs.

spacecraft 11:33 AM  

First of all, can we PLEASE have our Syndicated site corrected? Yes, I can find the right puzzle, but it's SUCH a hassle. I'm REALLY getting tired of it. It almost makes me want to quit bothering with this.

And today's entry does little to recharge my batteries. TONSOF problems; where to START?

OK, Mr. Fearless one, you "get the connection" of "concerned" to APPLIEDTO. Please tell me, 'cause I am still baffled. In no way, shape or form does that clue relate to the answer, as far as I can see. It. Makes. No. Sense.

Two naticks--I guessed them both right, DANKE. One, I suppose, is my fault for not being an oenophile, and tech-ignorant as well. Put in SIRI/CRU because CLU looked, well, SILI. But the other one? Obscurity crossing obscurity? That one draws the flag. Go ahead and try to tell me that I'm some kind of idiot for nevar having heard of either ELIO or ILENE. I literally tossed a coin on that one: L or R? Only bet I won all day.

And what the heck is LOWVISION? What, my head's bowed so I can only see people's feet?? There's no such real term.

The theme itself was no picnic; I never heard of this RWY. Hard to believe they had the VISION to build a transcontinental road in 1913, when cars were still horseless carriages and many people thought they were a fad. Anyway, I learned something.

Much of the fill was Bleah!, right down to the Romanumeral. My cattle were HOrnED before they were HOOFED (not HOOVED??). I agree that the circled states were a superfluous addition.

The entire experience was a junky slog. I expect better from Ms. Gorski.

And to top it all off, I somehow misread my captcha. What a day this is turning out to be!

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

Part of the Lincoln Highway runs through my home town of Metuchen,NJ it's called Middlesex ave there.Alsoknown as Route 27 in NJ.Just sayjn'.George Douglass

Idahoconnie 2:47 PM  

I don't understand why commenters complain about not liking a puzzle because they never heard of something. I do puzzles to learn about something. I had never heard of the Lincoln Highway and discovering it while doing this puzzle was exhilarating. It is a fascinating piece of history. I am so grateful to Ms. Gorski for making my day. Now I'm off to can pasta sauce from my bounty of garden tomatoes.

paulsfo 3:06 PM  

@Spacecraft: If you google "low vision", that exact phrase gets 3 million hits, many from medical sites. It kinda *is* a real term. :)

"The critique concerned his poor spelling."
"The critique APPLIEDTO his poor spelling."
That's how I saw the clue fitting the answer. Not great, but...

Dirigonzo 3:23 PM  

I guess I was riding in the bus with the folks enjoying the scenery and taking in the history lesson as we journeyed across the country - it sounds like others were trapped in a minivan full of children screaming "are we there yet?". That is to say, I enjoyed it. I thought the arrangement of states along the highway was the 'pièce de résistance'.

Speaking of construction feats, consider this factoid from the wiki article Rex posted about his WOD: "Conceived in 1912 by Indiana entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, and formally dedicated October 31, 1913..." Under two years from conception to dedication - how long do you suppose such a project would take today?

@space craft - I took RWY to be an abbreviation of 'railway' as the freight carrier, not a reference to the theme, I can understand your aggravation with it. I had ReY (because of SMEeS) until I realized EY is not a state, so the circles saved me there.

@idahoconnie - Welcome!

The number in my capcha is 77 which is clearly the wrong highway.

Solving in Seattle 3:33 PM  

Still recovering from my kidnapping by the spellcasters. Fortunately no probes during captivity (@Diri).

I started out with the instant idea that we were dealing with the Panama Canal, but when that didn't fit I googled what was dedicated in Oct 1913 and came up with the Lincoln Highway. After that, I didn't cheat. Couldn't make any sense out of 148A until done, then read it backwards. Doh.

BTW, for those of you who didn't know, most houses are EAVED. Yup.

Go Hawks!

Capcha: heiseit. A German planning a robbery?

Anonymous 8:11 PM  

Newish too.
I found that natick is when the cw constructor uses a proper name that is somewhat obscure (1/4 of solvers would get it, then it should be crossed by a more reasonably answerable clue or a very common proper name.

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