Choreographer Lubovitch / THU 12-5-13 / Nephew of Moses / Democritus Leucippus philosophically / 2012 political chant / Locale of long-running Mideast conflict / Holyfield rival / Clarke who played bride of Frankenstein

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Constructor: Dan Schoenholz

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: CONFUSION (34A: Puzzlement … or a hint to getting the 10 words on the perimeter of this puzzle) — Looks like CON is "fused" to the fronts of all the words that go around the perimeter. I thought the "fusion" was due to the intersecting theme answers in the corners, but that doesn't explain TEMPT and TRITE, so … yeah, that first thing I said. I think that's it.

All (Mod) CONs:

  • CAVE
  • TACT
  • CORD
  • TEST

Word of the Day: ELEAZAR (43D: Nephew of Moses) —
Eleazar (or Elazar; pronounced /ɛliˈzə/), (HebrewאֶלְעָזָרModern Elʻazar Tiberian Elʻāzār ; "God has helped") was a priest in the Hebrew Bible, the second Kohen Gadol (High Priest) - succeeding his father Aaron. He was a nephew of Moses. (wikipedia)
• • •

Liked it somewhat better when I thought the corner answers were what were being "fused," but it's still a decent puzzle with the "fusion" simply being the *addition* of CON- to the beginnings of the words around the perimeter. Theme was pretty simplistic, and very easy to solve once you caught on (and I caught on very early, in my first pass at the NW). It's not a very interesting grid, except for NBA DRAFT, which I like quite a bit (35D: June event televised by ESPN). Otherwise there's nothing terribly contemporary, nothing terribly special. SE is easily the weakest corner, but overall there's not a ton of weakness. Fill is just OK. You'd expect somewhat better than just OK with all those cheater squares* in there. But it is what it is. Sparkling fill is clearly not the NYT's standard, however much it should be.

This is not a puzzle about which there's a lot to say. Crosswordese MAE is given an old-timey, non-West clue, which does little to endear it to me (24A: Clarke who played the bride of Frankenstein). I don't believe anyone ever chanted MITT (7D: 2012 political chant). That was possibly the hardest answer for me to get in this relatively easy puzzle. "MIST? Did people chant MIST?" Wow, the more I look at this grid, the less I find to love. ATOE = painful (16A: Vol. 1 of a four-volume encyclopedia, maybe). The "maybe" in the clue should be changed to "please, I know this is terrible, forgive me." Hard to imagine calling anyone a RIBBER. LAR? CMI? IST? ON AN? PES? FATAL, indeed.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*black squares that do not increase word count—they are added solely to make the puzzle easier to fill. Today, see, for example, the black squares that precede 38-Across and follow 33-Across, respectively.

PS here's a different take on this CON game: Tyler Hinman puzzle from 2002.


Steve J 12:10 AM  

I also picked up the theme straight away in the NW, and I also thought it was a corner rebus. Took me a little longer - over at (con)TACT/TADA to get that the trick was to add CON to the start of each perimeter word.

What's impressive about the theme is that every answer is a real, in-use word. No dreck, no partials, no abbreviations. That raises things up a notch in my book.

Having both LAZE and LASED - in the same corner, no less - brought things back down a notch. Frankly, LASED will always bring things down a notch.

The bottom half of this played much tougher for me than the top. I blazed through the top, but I had lots of confusion below CONFUSION. LAR and TATI next to each other did not help, it took me an embarrassingly long time to remember the French word for sky (CIEL), and CAROLE King just would not come to mind, even though some of my earliest memories as a kid are of my mom playing Tapestry over and over again.

Outside the theme, things are a bit dry, but the theme stood out enough for me on this one to make this a fun solve.

JFC 12:15 AM  

What is interesting is that AL/MHP accepts CONC as a rebus in the first square.

So, we have a rebus, CONs off the grid and CONs in black squares. And no mention of an inconsistent theme? I think Rex is crawling out of that hole he dug for himself yesterday....


jae 12:18 AM  

Not often you get both tricky and zippy.  A fine medium Thurs. for me.  Took a bit of effort to sort out where to put the CONs, but that's why it's a Thurs. 

Erasures: pAns fro RAPS and ISm for IST.

This could get a challenging rating depending upon how easy it is to do it on line.

Lots to like here and I did.

wreck 12:33 AM  

This was hard for me. The lack of getting foothold perimeter answers really set me back for a long time. I suspected a rebus, but couldn't get anything to work right away.

retired_chemist 2:01 AM  

Pretty easy. Also fun. Got the theme early, which was a big help.

A few clunker 3s but not many clunkers overall. Generally good fill IMO. Guessed A TO G for 16A but was prepared to give up on the G: The E came easily.

Does a surgeon really say s/he LASED an eye? Sounds hokey to me.

Thanks, Mr. Schoenholz.

Keenan Mahoney 4:15 AM  

Really liked SODACAN and BATTENDOWN. Took me forever to figure out the theme though, even after I got CONFUSION. Need to do the puzzle when I'm more awake!

John Child 4:33 AM  

I guess I'm glad that this isn't a rebus, though I played it that way throughout. As a rebus it's ugly, inconsistent and, gasp!, asymmetrical.

But if not a rebus puzzle then it's what . . . An easy puzzle CONfounded by changing 10 clues so that after getting the answer you have to remove the CON before entering the (new) answer? Or we are expected to write the CON outside the grid? Or what?

Not much fun here. Finished correctly but wished I hadn't bothered, since it took me a lot longer than any puzzle in months.

Atomist Carole Monos 4:34 AM  

I loved how all the words that CON was fused with were real words. That is plus plus plus. Ten no less!

I didn't know how to spell CAROLE King, despite just seeing a fantastic musical about her last month...
So with - - - OLE in place, i tried to fit NAT COLE, or nkcOLE, i was so confused.

ATOE not so good, and maybe today's 24D MONO had escaped from yesterday's THEIST...
but All in all, more pros than CONS.
Bravo, Dan!

Acme 4:38 AM  

I meant, CONgrats, Dan!

dk 6:30 AM  

SODACAN is sparkly fill! Is it not?

Not feeling that effervescent this AM as I have developed an addiction to Audible and Pendergast. The result is the same as when I read to my son at night..... No desire to sleep only want: "more story!"

The numbers are gone from my robot test.... They must have found my SAT results.

** (2 Stars) Conflicted.

Loren Muse Smith 6:36 AM  

My first thought, with TEMPT, TEST, TACT, I was kicking around some kind of T*T theme. Happily, I moved on and had way over half done - finally gave up because I was convinced it was a rebus involving CON, CONT, or CONC in a square. Heck – I saw CONCAVE, CONCURRENT, CONTENDER, CONTEST. . .and just couldn't let go of the rebus idea. Love the reveal and its literal parsing!

@Steve J – agreed – elegant that every CON-FUSEd word can stand alone. What's better is that "court disaster" could actually be a valid clue for TEMPT.

The clue for NOMINEE threw me – I wanted some kind of "winner," but I guess the winner started out as a NOMINEE.

One of my first entries was "atoner" for TRITE, thinking "ouch." So SEAMED got the "ouch," but like yesterday's REUNE, it made me smile.

Liked the C-final BRAC/BLOC cross.

Had "in decay" for a while before ATE AWAY.

I felt so pleased and smart to get VESPERS very early on off only the R. And speaking of religion, I got ELEAZAR off only the R, too. And LAR off the R. Right.

ATOMIST was a total gimme as I just finished Megas Diakosmos over the Thanksgiving break and just last night dipped A TOE in Peri Nou. (And if you believe that, email me – I have some oceanfront property in THE SINAI. . .Hey – I'm an incorrigible RIBBER.)

@retired_chemist – a PUG is a toy? Didn't know that. Kept erasing it and trying to rationalize "pek."

My, my – emerging obsesshin with TIBIAS recently! But maybe ULNAe (ULNAs?) will take over now?

@Joe from last night – ok. I'll make an appointment today for my &%$#tooth. And do you yell at the radio when people add the ly when they shouldn't?

I felt so badly for her.

Hey, Dan – nice job. I know, unfortunately first hand, that themes like this – with all the border words- are really, really hard to construct. (I have one that I just cannot fill. And it's an ingenious, brilliant, sparkling, earth-shattering idea, if anyone wants to help. Right. See ATOMIST comment.) Uh, grats!

Anonymous 7:13 AM  

Great MEDIUM Thursday puzzle!

Evan 7:25 AM  

Tougher time than usual on this, which I blame partly on being tired. I filled out the revealer first before understanding how it worked. I had TEMPT, but reading the clue, I was thinking of "tempt fate," which I guess is sorta like courting disaster. Didn't even question the fact that FATE wasn't in the answer and I didn't think there was some special gimmick to it. Also writing in TALK before TACT made things difficult to work out in the northeast.

Overall though, I thought it was a pretty enjoyable puzzle. It seems appropriate that a puzzle based on CONFUSION successfully confused me for a while. This basketball fan loved seeing NBA DRAFT, though I probably liked that entry as much as I disliked the southeast corner with BRAC, ON AN, and PES crossing ELEAZAR, though....yeesh.

Evan 7:41 AM  

Also, Jim Horne of Xwordinfo fame has a blog post up taking crossword bloggers to task based in part on yesterday's....lively discussion. I disagreed with several things he wrote, but I still encourage people to read it (I have a lengthy response to him in the comment section there as well).

Logan 8:13 AM  

@JFC - Please explain what you mean by AL/MHP. I don't understand what you mean. Thanks so much.

Unknown 8:13 AM  

Hard for me. Pretty much what @Wreck said. Without being able to get the perimeters easily I was 'fused. But I like a chewy Thursday, so it's all good.

AliasZ 8:20 AM  


Across Lite / Mr. Happy Pencil - the cartoon figure that pops up in the application after the successful completion of a puzzle.

Mohair Sam 8:38 AM  

What @Steve J said about the theme. No strained words to make it work. Impressive indeed. And fun too, great job.

We zipped through once we caught the theme, but crashed and burned in the SE. Never heard of ELEAZAR, thought the phrase was "iNAN unrelated matter", and (embarrassed here) could not come up with conCORD. And how easy was BLOC, but we never saw it because we were so sure of the "i".

Disagree with @Rex on this one - liked it a lot, MAE or no MAE.

Logan 8:38 AM  

@AlliasZ - Thanks! Since I solve on paper, it made no sense to me. I appreciate your cluing me in.

Dorothy Biggs 8:44 AM  

According to Will, the clue for 16A was originally "Stick ___ in the water" (or something to that effect) and his assistant came up with the encyclopedia clue. Either way was easy..."A TO..." was a gimme, and I didn't even have to figure out the E since TENDER came with no problem. It is fascinating to see how some clues make it and some don't, and how much Will (and his assistant) are involved in the process.

I would have like ONAN to be referenced to a certain biblical character known for a certain action that not only got him in trouble with the Lord, but used to be a bit of a taboo for teenagers when I was growing up. #spillingyourseed

Otherwise, this is one of those that once you figure out the theme, you're almost done...unless LAR and TATI and PEER are involved...

OISK 8:51 AM  

Liked this one a lot. Theme was clever, and none of the answers were contrived. It went faster than usual for a Thursday, probably due to lack of pop music clues, except for Carole King, whom I think I have heard of. (Wouldn't know her/him? from Sky King, but the name is buried in the same section of my brain that now knows there were Joey and Dede Ramone…)

Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle!

jberg 8:54 AM  

I was going to say that about ONAN, but @NCA President beat me to it. And I was sorry that 'yeanling' didn't turn out to be a young EEL - but EWE is almost as -esey.

I loved IN LALA LAND, and I thought the theme was OK. What would have stolen my heart completely would have been clues that captured both what you see in the grid and what you get after adding CON. TEMPT does that all by itself, but others need more work -- "Baby-sitting title seeker," maybe?

Carola 9:01 AM  

Very nice! I also thought it was impressinve that the perimeter words worked so well on their own without the CON-. Which in fact kept me from understanding the theme for a while. Without having the reveal, I accepted TEMPT (fate, Hi @Evan) and even DESCEND as stand-alone answers, if a little off-sounding. When I got the reveal, I first thought, "Oh, CON can also stand in front of them." It took a few more moments for me to see that it had to be fused on the front to make the clues work. Fun.

I found it a pleasure otherwise, too - BATTENED DOWN, seeing INLALALAND appear from the unlikely looking middle string of Ls and As, ATOMIST, COWERED. Liked CAROLE King crossing SOPRANO, although I don't know if she really is one.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:14 AM  

Two write-overs, both of which gave me a little smile, and CONsecutive, no less: 52 A, Kidding type, FIBBER before RIBBER; and 54 A, Give a whuppin', TAR before TAN.

Could we say this was an all-around fine puzzle?

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

The sin of ONAN was a lot more than just spilling his seed. It was refusing to impregnate his dead brother's widow (and thereby provide an heir). It's interesting that that little detail got omitted from the anti-masterbation zealots' sermons.

John V 9:20 AM  

Good one! Got snagged at ATOMIST cross but loved the theme. Did think that 5a clue and answer worked without CONcatenation, so got slowed up there. Nice puz, Dan Schoenholtz.

Zwhatever 9:29 AM  

Great theme, especially since it threw people off while being fairly straight-forward in the end.

I caused myself problems in the SW when I confidently threw down Nfl DRAFT and teasER, and tentatively added lord where PEER belonged. Yikes. probably 75% of my solving time was spent unraveling that mess.

No biblical scholar here, but I think ONAN gets misrepresented. If I'm remembering correctly, he was supposed to impregnate his brother's widow but avoided doing so by using the withdrawal method. This got twisted around to suggest that there was an Old Testament injunction against ONANism in order to scare teenagers. This also serves as a reminder of just how weird the OT God was when judged by modern mores.

George Barany 9:30 AM  

Delightful theme. Re 32-Down, I think that a PUG is a toy dog. Re 47-Across with its deceptively ingenious clue, CAROLE King has had one of the most amazing careers in pop, co-writing some of the all-time classics like "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and then coming out with her own iconic Tapestry album that opens with "I Feel the Earth Move" and then gets even better. In the fall of 2004, CK came to the University of Minnesota to campaign for John Kerry. At the conclusion of the event, she graciously signed a note to my daughter Deborah, 15 years old at the time, with a few songs of her own under her belt. I will never forget the combination of incredulity and awe when I brought home the note, sans explanation of how it came into my possession.

Norm 9:42 AM  

A nice chewy puzzle with some bite and a good aftertaste. Yeh, some questionable fill (NARCOS? puh-leeze, I hardly believe that's even a word), but not enough of it or bad enough to detract from a very fun puzzle.

mac 9:42 AM  

Yes, @Bob, an all-around fine and easy-medium puzzle to me. Got the theme quickly and the outer edge was filled in pronto.

Only eraser-area was because of "ate into" which made some of the crosses hard to see.

Mitt doesn't sound like a cheer, maybe they yelled Mittens?

Today is Sinterklaas, and I'm spending it with a large group of Dutch people, with little presents and funny rhymes, and of course lots of good food!

joho 9:46 AM  

Like others have already mentioned, I love that the 10 theme words are all real, nothing fake or hokey. CONCURRENT was my fave. Very smooth, Dan!

I loved the aha moment when I figured it out at TEMPT and TACT/TENDER. That's what I look for on a Thursday ... it's supposed to create CONFUSION!

I's hard for me to call a PUG a toy just because most I've known were so solid and stout "toy" just doesn't come to mind.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Somebody tell me why a "light headed one" is a candle.

retired_chemist 9:56 AM  

@ Loren, @George, @joho - yes, a pug is shown in the toy group. Check ours out. The web site is a bit outdated - in particularly young Keebler has been quite hot lately, which doesn't show up. Won a half dozen toy groups this year, including three since November 1.

Pete 10:01 AM  

I'd have preferred JAILBREAK as the reveal, as in all the CONS have escaped the enclosure.

@Anon 9:50 A CANDLE has a light (flame) at its upmost part, i.e. its head.

chefbea 10:02 AM  

tough puzzle but finally got the theme. Loved the clue for Bart.
Off to a NARFE meeting.

r.alphbunker 10:03 AM  

WARNING! The following paragraph contains fill that may be disturbing to some people. Reader discretion advised.

What if exactly one of the perimeter answers was not a word. E.G., instead of TRITE the puzzle had {Legislative body} cluing GRESS.

Your gress is as good as mine but I bet that would cause a lot of grid rage.

@NCA president
Dorothy Parker named her pet bird Onan because he spilled his seed on the floor.

quilter1 10:19 AM  

Easy once I got the theme about halfway through. Love the ONAN comments, and agree his sin was a social failure to provide his dead brother with an heir and his sister-in-law with family security. ELEAZAR was a gimme for me, but I think it would be a big zero for most. I enjoyed INLALALAND as well.

Joe The Juggler 10:48 AM  

I also at first thought there might be more going on than there was. I thought maybe both TEMPT and CONTEMPT. I really wanted TENDER (or maybe "tenderer") and CONTENDER both to work, but it's just not there.

Hmm.. . my captcha includes the word "conduct". I don't guess it'll work if I only enter "duct". . .

lawprof 10:56 AM  

One writeover: nuts/BLOC.

AliasZ 11:12 AM  

Excellent puzzle, I liked it. Once again I was inspired to come up with more CON FUSION. I especially like the ones that without CON have a different pronunciation and meaning than with it: science, stable, sequence, vent, etc.

Some of the short fill was less than stellar as @Rex et al already mentioned, but INLALALLAND, SODACAN, NBADRAFT and BATTEN DOWN the hatches provided a valid counterbalance in this overall quite satisfying puzzle. ULNAR, TIBIAS, PES: anat. mini-theme, but don’t get your IRISH up for CIEL, "Mon oncle" and Voilà! A little French never hurt anyone, nor O Tannenbaum.

I will try to dense what I want to say as best I can. This secret weighs heavily on my science. Nothing and no one can sole me. I never learned how to duct a symphony orchestra, I feel fined, I am not tent with my life. I have a genital inability to done debauchery. I am founded by it, but will have to front my fears. At my age I have to serve my energy, and I must learn to form to rules better and stop sorting with strangers. I am no longer interested in quest, even if the lady possesses attractive tours, and may sent. Summation may have dire sequences. I am past the age when I can tort my body and mind. Maybe I'll join a vent, but I will never approach a stable in London. Let me firm what I just said as all true.

If I want to figure a computer in this text correctly, I must template using the manual.

I can no longer tribute. I could've been a tender...

Here is All-Night Vigil or VESPERS by Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Happy Thursday.

Uncle John C 11:28 AM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle; - but I do have one question.

Since "Angela's Ashes" is a work of non-fiction - do we still refer to them as characters?

Greg 11:53 AM  

Michael, Have you had too many puzzles rejected by Will Shortz lately, or what? You are getting to be such a whiner I wonder why you even fill out the puzzle. Is it now a perverse pleasure only? Otherwise love the commentary. Regards, Greg

AliasZ 12:05 PM  

Another lovely VESPERS reference occurs to me:

Elena's Bolero from Act V of I vespri siciliani (Sicilian VESPERS) by Giuseppe Verdi here sung by Dame Joan Sutherland, with the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Paris, ducted by Nello Santi.

Questinia 12:14 PM  

Got the revealer at 1A and my scanning eyes picked up 34A immediately as CONUndrum
Knitted the perimeter on speed stitch then spent the rest of my time ripping out the seams of CONundrum.

Doing it on an IPad on a bobbing and weaving beleaguered MTA train reminded me of that Hurricane themed puzzle a number of Thursdays back. Migraine-inducing.

Questinia 12:18 PM  

@ Alias Z, love "founded by debauchery".

Notsofast 12:30 PM  

Liked this one. A lot. Don't see how "back-of-the-envelope figs" are ESTS, though. Guess I need to read through the other comments. Anyway, KUDOS!

MikeM 12:58 PM  

Great puzzle. Found it challenging as I did not get the trick until 20 minutes in. One questions - Why is Duke a PEER?

Wikipedia 1:06 PM  

Full Definition of PEER
: one that is of equal standing with another : equal; especially : one belonging to the same societal group especially based on age, grade, or status
archaic : companion
a : a member of one of the five ranks (as duke, marquess, earl, viscount, or baron) of the British peerage

Benko 1:10 PM  

This was a very tough Thursday for me. I thought it was some kind of weird rebus, with "CONC" in the first corner, didn't notice that "TEMPT" needed to be "CONTEMPT", and so the theme got lost for me until the revealer of CONFUSION, which is what I was feeling until then. Good work!
Agree that NARCOS is used far less than NARCS in English, though NARCO is a popular Spanish concept.
Didn't know ELEAZAR, and like others thought perhaps there was a missed opportunity to clue the crossing ONAN biblically as well.
Someone, somewhere, sometime during the campaign must have chanted MITT. Can't imagine it, but it must have happened.
Overall a puzzle which left me satisfied, since the theme was so hard for me to grok.

MikeM 1:12 PM  

thanks Wikipedia. I never real thought about it from that angle.

Zwhatever 1:24 PM  

@Notsofast - One might do ESTimates on the back of an envelope.

Bruce 1:26 PM  

@Benko - You've never heard anything until you've heard 100 multi-millionaire heter-sexual WASP males try to chant MITT! MITT! in unison.

Benko 1:29 PM  

Forgot to add:
@Rex-- Thank you for posting a video by one of my all-time favorite bands! Just watched a Paul Weller performance last night.

@Mac-- Watch out for Zwarte Piet!!!

Masked and AnonymoUUUs 1:37 PM  

Wanted 64-Across to start with a hidden "PRO-".

Bird 1:42 PM  

Hand up for thinking “corner-Rebus theme” at 1A, but spent a couple seconds thinking of 4-letter alternates to CONCAVE. Once I got the theme the perimeter filled itself in. That 54A/54D crossing was tough – I needed to run the alphabet.

Love how the unfused words can stand alone and the clue for BART.

Don’t care too much for some of the crud (ATOE, NARCOS, thought it was IN AN unrelated manner, CMI and IDS). NBA DRAFT is nice (was NFL DRAFT at first but wrong month).

Captchas are getting harder to decipher again - where's the picture of a number?

retired_chemist 2:55 PM  

@ Bird - Didn't like NARCOS much myself but it is in the dictionary as clued, so that's that. ON AN/iN AN - either works well for the clue IMO.

We now have pictures of words, for which 42 works as well as it did for pictures of numbers. Agree that the real captchas are tougher now.

Jordan V. 2:57 PM  

@Rex: You liked NBADRAFT??

(De gustibus ...)

mac 3:33 PM  

@Benko: we were all good. Just can't keep out of the bowl of pepernoten!

Lewis 3:39 PM  

Of course people have shoulted MITT during the campaign.

I liked the longer answers, many of which were two or more words, which seems to make a puzzle more interesting.

Theme made the puzzle go quicker. I did not like NARCOS -- please! And if you are going to have a four volume encyclopedia, I'm thinking the first volume would go farther than E. But that's picky.

Overall, it was fun, enough fun to overlook the ugly fill that was scattered about. I learned PES, and will never ever use it in my life.

I was looking for other words in the grid that could start with CON, and the closest I came was TADA, but unless one is a bad speller, it won't work.

Obama 3:52 PM  

@Lewis -

You suck MITT!
Get on your boat and sink MITT!
How does RomneyCare sound now MITT?!
I kicked your ass MITT!

August West 6:23 PM  

More to like than not. Hate all "Early (insert century here) year" clues, and various geographical time settings, and LTD, however clued. NARCO and ATOE are bad, mmmmmmkay? But, although ATOMIST and ELEAZAR slowed me down, I recognize that they're not necessarily "bad" entries, but, simply, outside my knowledge base. The theme was easily picked up and very well executed. As mentioned by many, I really liked that all themers were fine stand-alone words before their "fusion," and that clue for 6A was a great CONcealer early on. Finished in 6:02, well under usual Thursday time, so I give Dan an "easy" A.

okanaganer 6:54 PM  

Rex...I can't believe you didn't use THIS as your video today.

LaneB 8:04 PM  

Late start. Dog care day @ Humane Society. Dtdn't do well. Until got the reveal at 34a. Then it went pretty fast until I misspelled CURRENT with a second U.. Finished the NW last. RiPS not RAPS gave me aDNF, but I felt good about the solve anyway.
Please explain 51a--unless it refers to the Greek letter. 9:13 PM  


pes/pis, peɪs/ Show Spelled [pees, peys] Show IPA
noun, plural pe·des /ˈpidiz, ˈpɛdiz/ Show Spelled [pee-deez, ped-eez] Show IPA . Anatomy, Zoology .
a foot or footlike part. 9:23 PM  

51. Anatomical foot : PES
The Latin word for “foot” is “pes”, the genitive singular of which is “pedis”. “Pedis” evolved into the suffix -pede, as in centipede and millipede.

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, 6:07, 0.93, 19%, Easy
Tue 8:18, 8:12, 1.01, 57%, Medium
Wed 10:50, 9:52, 1.10, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 19:17, 17:47, 1.08, 66%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:40, 3:46, 0.97, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:46, 5:01, 0.95, 31%, Easy-Medium
Wed 6:26, 5:49, 1.11, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 10:32, 10:07, 1.04, 57%, Medium

dogbrea 10:11 PM  

Rex = old crank. Get a life pal.

gifcan 12:09 AM  

Like @Mohair Sam said. Exactly!

And . . .

Great revealer @Pete - JAILBREAK!

Also failed on CAROLE King. I couldn't get Elvis and Michael Jackson out of my head.

So ONAN did the map of Hawaii thing?

ZenMonkey 2:20 AM  

The best of the week, and I'm not damning it with faint praise. I fought with the theme, knowing something was up when I got CORD. I thought maybe it was a variation of "accord." For some reason I missed the clue clue, so once I got that it all fell into place. (Except TEMPT, which was a nice reveal eventually.

I appreciated the symmetry of it as well as the neatness of all the theme answers being actual words and not some kind of Thirsdayish nonsense. Living in SoCal where the Oscar races are underway, I enjoyed the grouping of SCRIPT, NOMINEE, and INLALALAND, which made up for the only really dismal answer (RIBBER? Sounds like a frog with a speech impediment.)


Zwhatever 9:01 AM  

@gifcan - Best reason to get the comments emailed? Late comments like yours.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Terrific puzz. I agree it was an easy/medium, once you cracked the "con." Thank you Dan S for a pleasant 1/2 hour while sipping on my morning coffee.

Ron Diego 8:30 AM PST 1/9/14

This ancient old man has been doing puzzles on and off for 50 yrs. Like Poirot, it helps my little grey cells.

spacecraft 11:47 AM  

I could've done without all the comments on ONAN; TMI, IMHO. There is much to like in this one. Clever, tight theme. Since CON- is a prefix, it's not too surprising that the perimeter words all stand alone; I wouldn't make as much of that as others seem to. But the revealer, centrally located, is spot on.

Also to like is a lot of the longer fill; INLALALAND is great.

Now for the not-so-much to like. The O of NARCOS is almost like a "cheater square." It's legit, but the O-less NARC is much more often used. ATOMIST? Never heard of it: those guys were surely WAY ahead of their time! But the killer is ELEAZAR, a prime candidate for Mr. Obscurity 2014. I had to run the alphabet--literally all the way to the end--to come up with LAZE, which doesn't exactly mean unwind, but close enough, I guess. Toughest square of the grid, for sure.

Then there's the THE of 9d. THE SINAI? Is that a place? Mount, OK. Peninsula, OK. But THE? Yuck. That's flag fodder. Many of the 3's were ugly too. CMI is the worst.

Solving experience-wise, it took a little work to get the trick; it was slow going till then, but picked up ***siderably once I got it. Thank you for the nod to CAROLE King; she's one of the greats. One thumb up and one down. Hate to be ***trary.

LongBeachLee 1:49 PM  

A little irony here. One of my last discoveries was Eleazar, my Hebrew name.

rain forest 3:09 PM  

Not a lot to add, but I'll do it anyway. After getting TEMPT, and squinting at it, and then struggling with TACT, it dawned that CON was involved somehow, but I stuck to the notion that 1A had to start sith 'T', until I got the revealer, and then all was well. Sure, a couple weak entries, but overall, a tight, clever, and enjoyable puzzle.

DMG 4:49 PM  

Except for the mid-east my only write over was BuTToNDOWN to BATTENDOWN. But the mid- east!! Foiled by seeing the revealer as CONFUSIng, and misreading the music clue as "kind", so wasn't looking for a proper name. So, once again, DNF, but had fun solving what I got. "@lawprof"s write-over gave me a smile!

Dirigonzo 5:17 PM  

I like Thursday puzzles for the trickery they usually employ and this one was just fine - but then, I live in a constant state of CONFUSION.

If the skies (CIELs) are clear in your part of syndiland tonight, look for the Northern Lights which promise to be brilliant due to recent solar storm activity. Check out the forecast here.

Solving in Seattle 6:33 PM  

Felt a bit of ***ceit at figuring out Dan's trickery pretty early. Really ***curr with those who like this puz.

@DMG, thanks for the heads up re @law prof. Agree. My lol was @LMS selling THESINAI oceanfront lots.

@Diri, @Ginger, four nines.

Ginger 7:16 PM  

My brain was totally addled with CONFUSION, and I was unable to grok this perfectly fine theme. My fault, not the puzzles. Was watching Gov Christie's press conference. He didn't make sense and neither did the puzzle. I'm hoping for better luck tomorrow.

House rules, deuces wild, I have five nines and a pair of fours..;-0 (9 9 9 2 2 4 4)

Waxy in Montreal 9:14 PM  

Was stymied by this one for a while so worked on the revealer which suddenly cleared up the, uh, CONFUSION. Fun, very creative Thursday puzzle. Loved INLALALAND (which Quebec often is) and BATTENDOWN.

Creepiest VESPERS service I ever attended was held in the Norman crypt, deep in the bowels of Worcester (England) Cathedral surrounded by ancient coffins and sarcophagi(?). Brrrr.

Studied ancient Greek philosophy in university but somehow must of missed the ATOMISTS. (they're pretty tiny, I guess).

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