1971 #1 hit for Carole King / WED 1-1-14 / People of Rwanda Burundi / First King of English / Economics Nobelist William F / Fire-breating creature of myth / White Stripes OutKast / Tree with extra large acorns / Frank's partner in funnies

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: HAPPY 2014 (37A: New Year's greeting) — individual numerals in "2014" work as words (homophones) in the crosses.

Theme answers:
  • 27D: 1971 #1 hit for Carole King ("IT'S TOO LATE")
  • 39D: Classic Stephen Foster song ("O SUSANNA")
  • 24D: Achieved through difficulty (HARD WON)
  • 32D: "Try!" ("GO FOR IT!")
Word of the Day: BUR OAK (17A: Tree with extra-large acorns) —
An oak tree (Quercus macrocarpa) of eastern North America, having pinnately lobed leaves, acorns enclosed within a deep fringed cup, and hard durable wood. (thefreedictionary.com)
• • •

An odd puzzle, but it's a holiday puzzle, so some oddness is allowed. Very tough for a Wednesday—much more like a Thursday, theme-wise, except for there not being much of a theme, density-wise. Just five answers, affecting just 31 squares in all. Much of this puzzle may as well be considered a themeless, which makes me wonder why those corners aren't a. cleaner, and/or b. flashier. The EGBERT (1D: First King of the English) / BUR OAK (17A: Tree with extra-large acorns) / SHARPE (5D: Economics Nobelist William F. ___) corner is especially strange. Buncha weird names from fairly narrow areas of knowledge. I like TAKE A NIP. Rest of that corner, however, was toughish without sparkle.

The theme is pretty cute. "HAPPY 2014" is *not* a "greeting"—"Happy New Year" is a greeting. "HAPPY 2014" is something one might say … I don't know. I want to say "at a New Year's Eve party," but I think you're supposed to shout "Happy New Year!" Anyway, "HAPPY 2014" is a phrase I can imagine one saying, even if I can't imagine the specific context. And the homophone crosses are a nice idea. I wanted "IT'S TOO LATE" pretty early, but it didn't "fit" and I had written WATUSIS instead of WATUTSI (53A: People of Rwanda and Burundi) —I knew the TUTSI were a people, but the WATUTSI, I did not know. I think the WATUSI is a dance. In my defense, if you google "WATUTSI," google asks you if you meant "watusi." [Turns out Tutsi and WATUTSI (and also Batutsi) are all the same thing] Anyway, that flub kept me from picking up on the theme earlier than I might've. I struggled most in the NW (all because of BUR OAK, a plant form of which I was unaware), but it was pretty tough all over.

Anyway, I hope you are having a HAPPY 2014. I know I am. Actually, it's still 2013 as I write this, but I'm gonna go ahead and say my tomorrow's going to be great.

See you later in the year.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:03 AM  

Medium-tough for me.  Had to stare at the NW for a while.  Finally remembered ERNEST and that a guy named EGBERT who I played golf with a few decades ago (@lms - see here I could digress and tell an EGBERT anecdote but most of them are X-rated,  involve illegal activity, or are kinda depressing, so I'll pass) once told me he was somehow connected to the first King of England.  This was helpful as BUROAK and SHARPE (a shout out to Rex?)  were WOEs.

The rest went pretty quickly.  

Great puzzle Peter.  Loved the rebus and the lively stuff in the grid.  Nice way to kick off the year!

Question: Did online solvers have to put both answers in the rebus squares to be accepted?

Anonymous 12:06 AM  

All was smooth but the NW was nasty nasty nasty!!

Happy 2014! Have a goat!

Steve J 12:10 AM  

Still 3 hours left of 2013 here. But Happy New Year / HAPPY 2014 to everyone.

Found this very much a HARD 1, as I never seemed to get into any kind of flow. The bottles of bubbles haven't been broken out yet, so I can't even blame it on that.

NW was a bear. I didn't help myself with hAvE A NIP up there.

Likes: TAKE A NIP, AUSTERE, CHIMERA, VIADUCT, BUDAPEST (one of my favorite cities I've ever visited, too.).

Dislikes: There were several, but it's a holiday. I don't care.

Hope everyone has a great holiday and great year.

Pau Kagame 12:18 AM  

"[Turns out Tutsi and WATUTSI (and also Batutsi) are all the same thing] " - Yeah, if you're a fucking colonialist pig, my dear Wikipedia.

Unknown 12:59 AM  

TRIREME exposed my ignorance, as did ARTE Johnson's preferred spelling, or whoever that MIKE guy is. But CHIC/HOARSEN crossing was a killer. I had CcIC/cOARSEN, and gave a tenth of a second reflection to the a-la-mode ice cream possibilities of "ccic" -- a tenth of a second but no more as the clue was French, after all

I'm not sure how I could improve the cluing for HOARSEN, but CHIC is easy to clue. It seemed consciously hidden, and next to the problematic "make rough", it certainly HOARSENS? the puzzle. Fridayesque.

And my time suffered by 30 minutes while I probed every answer until I saw 2O14 was really supposed to be submitted as 2014. Grrrreeeeat!

Anoa Bob 1:15 AM  

I thought I knew my trees but BUR OAK told me I was wrong. So I learned something and with GEISHA & NIRVANA to boot, that corner was a real treat.

A couple of chestnuts that helped me out were CHIMERA (40D) and TRIREME (46D). Both are interesting and both have crossword-friendly letter sequences, so be on the lookout for them in future puzzles. There was also a bireme, but I don't know about the unireme or quatrireme versions.

Wasn't BUDAPEST VIADUCT a cello sonata by Zoltán Kodály?

I like the minimalist feel of the theme. Understated but very effective.

Part of me says New Years is just another click on the cosmic clock, but another part says HAPPY 2014 everybody!

Questinia 1:19 AM  
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Questinia 1:22 AM  
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Questinia 1:24 AM  

Attempt #3

~~***HAPPY 2014***~~

I was able to put in numbers only (@jae) which I see as a positive harbinger of IT progress being made by Our Blessed Gray Lady of the Gridderati.

However I choose to read EELS beneath HAPPY 2014 as intended irony with a touch of the burlesque ..

AliasZ 1:58 AM  

First, let me wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014!

Second, @Anonymous at 5:42 PM yesterday, I must thank you for pointing out that my imagination is limited. All these decades I have been working under the false impression that it was at least average, if not slightly above. Thanks for setting me straight. I wish you hadn't felt the need to hide behind the "Anonymous" disguise to express an honest opinion, but I'm glad it gave you the courage you may lack without it.

Moving right along, I loved this puzzle. The timed applet accepted the numerals 2, 0 (zero), 1 and 4. My mistake was, I entered the letter O instead of 0 in square 39, which forced me to waste a few long minutes looking for a typo someplace else. After I found none, on a whim I entered 0 (zero) et voilà! my solution was accepted.

True, a rather thin but very appropriate theme. Entries like BUDAPEST (if you haven't been there, you must visit - you'll fall in love with it), TAKE A NIP, NIRVANA, CHIMERA, CALYPSO and VIADUCT ("Why a duck? Why a no chicken?") made it well worth it. Good to see our old friends EELS, ETUI and ESO to start off the new year in style.

My eyepits are closing as we speak. I better go take a nip before I turn into a goat. Night all.

chefwen 2:03 AM  

As with all Peter Collins puzzles, I had no difficulties, he is a master. Only write-over was at at 1D Edward before EDBERT, never heard of him. Good one!.

Garth 2:52 AM  

Healthy and Happy 2014 everyone.

Thanks to @Rex for tirelessly educating and entertaining each and every day.

Thanks to all those whose comments make for a rich, and at times hilarious* diversion.

Thanks to Mr. Shortz and the NYT for their enjoyable puzzles.

*@Questina's first comment yesterday made me laugh out loud.

George Barany 3:53 AM  

0mg, between @Rex and @AliasZ and @cascokid san, my s0lving experience exactly. Was nice to see my birthplace, BUDAPEST, in the grid. Technically, I was born in Pest, and I still know the Hungarian words for the numbers 1 through 10, just not in that order.

How appropriate, too, since it is a New Year's Day tradition to listen to Johann Strauss, including the Blue Danube, the same melody that was playing from my Itunes at the moment my mother drew her last breath 2 1/2 years ago.

If I may repeat a promotional bit from yesterday, I heartily recommend solvers of this blog to Joust in Time for a Happy New Year!, a never-before published themeless with a quadruple stack by the amazing Martin Ashwood-Smith. And if you're still in a mood for puzzles, have a go at Doubly Distinguished or Crossword 2.0, both of which come with "midrashim" to stimulate and/or entertain once you are finished solving.

Happy 2O14, indeed!

George Barany 4:14 AM  

As a p.s. to the post I just made, there is some unfinished business from yesterday. @AliasZ asked me if I could contribute to the discussion about duplicate themes occurring independently to constructors. A week and a half ago, my website published the wonderful Think Twice by Marti DuGuay-Carpenter; after solving the puzzle, please refer to the back-story. @Loren Muse Smith told about her Recreational Crossword Puzzle puzzle that we posted in June 2013, and she mentioned another puzzle that is still "on deck" but that I might as well share with this devoted group so long as you all understand that it is still undergoing beta testing and may not be ready for "prime time" for another week or two.

I hope that these additional puzzles provide further holiday solving enjoyment. Feel free to contact me privately, at barany@umn.edu, if you wish to follow up.

Once again, Happy 2014, and thanks again to @Peter Collins for continuing to amaze and delight.

Danp 5:36 AM  

Very nice puzzle. Theme seemed to be musical styles (ITS2LATE, Calypso, Reba, Geisha, Don Ho, OSUSANNA and White Stripes twice). It may or may not have been Collins' intention to have so much music in a New Year theme, but it worked for me.

Z 6:35 AM  

AnOTHER lap around the sun completed. Congratulations to everyone, even the EELS.

The White Stripes, Nirvana, Mike LOVE, Carole King, DON HO, NAT King Cole, REBA McIntire, all doing a New Years CALYPSO version of 0 SUSANNA while EGBERT and PAULINA dance the night away. It's time everyone ROCK out to the new year.

HAPPY 2014 everyone.

jberg 8:11 AM  

Nice theme, and those 3X3 boxes were kind of fun. I'm guessing part of the idea here was to have no non-theme answers longer than HAPPY 2014, which made everything on the short side.

I didn't know about EGBERT either, but we're told he's Engliah, so once you get the G from GEISHA that's about the only choice.

I'm off to England later today, back January 12. I don't think they sell the NYT over there, and I'm strictly an on-paper solver, so I'll be gone until then. Happy New Year, everyone!

Loren Muse Smith 8:13 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 8:21 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 8:25 AM  

I rubbed my hands together in anticipation when I saw Peter's name at the top. Maybe it's because of his former picture with that headband - I adore harmless, playful irreverence. (Check out BEQ's ACPT constructor picture from 2013 – total nostril shot.)

I caught the trick early on once I let go of trying to truncate "I Feel the Earth Move." Then I confused IT'S 2 LATE with Ronstadt's "You're No Good," so it took a while to NEATEN that all out. (Hey – too bad about Linda's voice being HOARSENed now and she can no longer sing – what a loss.)

I would have enjoyed this more if this very same thing hadn't been done last New Year's Day by EGBERT Junco Pewit:


Hey, but I'll let it go.

@Anoa Bob – CHIMERA and TRIREME went right in for me, too. I've been going out of my way to throw around TRIREME in conversations, and I guess it's paid off. People are avoiding me at Planet Fitness, and I get my work-out in a lot faster now.

Am I the first to have had TAKE A "sip" before NIP? I'll add that nifty pair to the arsenal I'm amassing for my Schrödinger masterpiece in its early stages. Right.

How jarring to see OTHER in English. It's always in una otra lengua.

Jamel in prison taught me the greeting, "SUP doh." ("What's up, though.) See above Planet fitness comment.

I don't know from aperitifs and digestifs, but I do know my grandmother-in-law had her SHERRY before dinner and not after. Ruined the whole &%$# puzzle for me.

@jae – "@lms - see here I could digress and tell an EGBERT anecdote. . ." You show great restraint. Look, I know I've been running off at the mouth. Enough about my poofy haired, snake-digging Chattanooga days! Cheerfully undeterred, doh, I'll digest (mornin', @M&A – thanks for the feedback. I looked back at that grid and winced at all the drek) to a high school REUNION story. But I'll post it separately.

Peter – great fun, as usual. I bet you ROCK the Wah Watusi in SANDALS (and that headband.)

Happy New Year's, fellow word nerds! Fellow puzzle guzzlers? Fellow grid kids?

Mohair Sam 8:36 AM  

HAPPY2014 @Rex! Of course it's a greeting. Jeez.

Played easy/medium here because the dreaded NW had EGBERT and NIRVANA as gimmes for us and filled quickly. Also the old Carole King tune is a favorite and with the Steven Foster gimme gave us the theme and got us rolling on the East side of the puzzle.

All in all a nice start to the year. Happy 2014 Peter Collins.

Loren Muse Smith 9:01 AM  

As a freshman at Berkmar High School in Lilburn, GA, I had lots of friends who were seniors. So seven years out for me, the ten year REUNION for that senior class was scheduled. I bought a ticket and attended. . .but first a back story-

One of my friends in that senior class was this guy, Steve, who did puppets, so you can imagine he wasn't among the popular movers and shakers of the football-jerseyed, cheerleading-skirted "it" crowd. Steve was remarkably talented and had the grace not to enter the annual talent show but rather have his puppet, "Otis," emcee it every year instead.

I heard that after he graduated, he joined Sid and Marty Krofft. Then I heard that he had joined the Muppets, and in the mid '80s I made my date sit through the credits after The Muppet Movie so I could see that he was, indeed, listed among the puppeteers. He was.

Fast forward many years to my cousin's wedding, where Brian Henson (Jim Henson's son) was the best man. At the reception, I approached him and asked if he knew Steve. He said, "Do I know Steve?? Now that Dad's gone, Steve is Kermit the Frog!"

So back to the REUNION. It was my first REUNION experience, and it was ok until they got to the awards part: "Most-Changed," Least-Changed,". . . and all the "it" crowd guys were back in the spotlight even ten years later (I'm doing the finger in throat gag thing).

Until. . . . they got to the "Who'd a Thunk It?" award. This guy who had been playing with puppets all the while the O'Toole brothers were the BMOC thanks to football, this guy, Steve Whitmire, got the award and a heartfelt, enthusiastic, minutes-long standing ovation. It was so satisfying to witness.

So I know Kermit the Frog (and Ernie). And he's a swell guy – still married to Melissa, his high school sweet-heart.

Milford 9:01 AM  

Flew threw this, thankfully, as it was 2AM when I solved it. Fun little Wednesday rebus.

Got the trick at Carole King's IT'S 2 LATE. Spent New Years Eve with my oldest and dearest friend, who happens to share the name of the songwriter, so that was fun to see in the puzzle.

Whites Stripes in not just one, but two clues! Just listening to them last night, too.

Long downs were all lovely, especially CHIMERA. Did have cOARSEN at first, but CcIC made no sense, even as a RRN.

Got a little tripped up at BUR OAK, thinking it should be BURR OAK. I blame Laura Ingalls Wilder books.

Loved that the slippery EELS found their way under the HAPPY 2014 answer.

@George Barany - I did look at your link to your page about your mother. Amazing woman.

Happy New Year, Rexites.

Go State! Sparty On!

jburgs 9:41 AM  

Fun puzzle.

Knowing ERNEST and NIRVANA right off made the NW go pretty smooth but TAKEAsIP caused problem for a while. I also had WATUsis first.

I did not figure out the theme til near the end but all the other sections fell pretty quick. I had committed to COARSEN early on and my only thought of a la mode related to ice cream so I knew I had a problem like @Milford with CcIC. Finally decided to run the alphabet again and got the proper answer of HOARSEN.

chefbea 10:00 AM  

What a Sharpe puzzle. I of course knew Cos Cob!!
Happy 2014 to all…I can now start my new puzzle calendar by Fred Piscop, which puzzle husband gave me for Christmas!!

retired_chemist 10:07 AM  

Basically an easy puzzle that threw me for a loop at the 2014 rebus.

It'S 2 LATE - didn't know the song. Had I'M SO LATE at one point. That hardly sounds like Carole King though...

0 SUSANNA - yes. Once I decided it was a rebus teh O - OH dichotomy reared its ugly head and I kept waffling.

HARD 1 - "Achieved through difficulty" is an adjectival construction while the answer is a (modified)noun. Bah.

GO 4 IT - the one that tipped me off in the end. The last non-rebus clue I got was TARGETS, which was _A__ETS until then, obviously NOT helping with the rebus downs. That said, the clue for TARGETS was superb!

And then, once I saw what it was suppoesd to be, there was the complete failure to get the rebus formatted to Mr. Happy Pencil's satisfaction. I am SURE I tried the obvious "2014" and had it rejected, before giving up and asking for the incorrect letters. Or, in this case, numbers.

Thanks, Mr. Collins. Good one to start the year.

Michael Hanko 10:13 AM  

@retired_chemist, I think you might be less annoyed with the parsing "HARD-WON".

Joe The Juggler 10:14 AM  

Took me forever to realize that the on-line puzzle wasn't accepting my answer because I had 2O14 rather than 2014.

John V 10:15 AM  

Yep, this was a tough one, for sure, but fun. Rebus/theme as good. Happy 2014, Rex. Sheesh. Really did play like a Wednesday themeless.

Finished with CICC/COARSEN in the NE. COARSEN seems a better answer to 11 down, to me, and I did not get 10A until I saw it here. Oh, well.

Now, off for some scrambled eggs and eels. Oh. Wait. Didn't I have that 3.5 years ago at my sister's house? Can't do that again at my house. No sir.

Happy 2014, all.

Joe The Juggler 10:19 AM  

retired chemist said:
"HARD 1 - "Achieved through difficulty" is an adjectival construction while the answer is a (modified)noun. Bah."

Hunh? Both "achieved" and "won" are past participles (which can be used as adjectives) as used here. "My success was hard won." "My success was achieved through difficulty."

There's no way "hard one" is the solution to this clue.

retired_chemist 10:21 AM  

@ Michael Hanko - D'oh! Thanks.

retired_chemist 10:23 AM  

and thanks to Joe the Juggler and others who will later point out my error.

quilter1 10:44 AM  

The thing is, being a long time solver I knew TRIREME right away, but being old I did not know NIRVANA except in the spiritual sense. Got it all, though, and found it mostly easy. See yesterday's Camp Fire Girl patch for tree knowledge. BUROAK, no problem.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:48 AM  

Nice puzzle start to the new year!

Had my herring at midnight, now two more traditions: The Rose Parade and the New Year's concert from Vienna.

HAPPY 2014 to all!

AliasZ 10:52 AM  

The Danube starts its long journey from the Black Forest (not the ham or the cake but the mountain) in the Baden-Württemberg region of Germany. Through its long, colorful and historically rich journey between the Black Forest and Black Sea, it flows through, or touches the borders of, ten countries. It is the longest river in the European Union, second only to the Volga on the whole continent.

Many great cities have been built along its basin. In Germany: Ulm, birthplace of Albert Einstein and Sam Rosen, the voice of the NY Rangers; Regensburg, one-time home of astronomer Johannes Kepler, Oskar Schindler, and Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger AKA Pope Benedict XVI. In Austria: Linz, birthplace of world famous tenor Richard Tauber as well as Frederic Austerlitz AKA Fred Astaire; Vienna or Wien, the birthplace of Franz Schubert and the Strauss family. By the way, don't miss tonight's New Year's Day concert of the Vienna Philharmonic, broadcast on PBS at 8:00 PM eastern time. The encore will be The Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss II, as it is every year. In Slovakia: Bratislava (Pozsony in Hungarian), birthplace of composers Johann Nepomuk Hummell and Ernst von Dohnányi.

By the time the Danube winds through Hungary, it becomes this slow-flowing, lazy, massive and tame creature that still rears its head every spring just to show everyone who is boss. It flows through the city of Esztergom, one of the oldest cities and one-time capital (10th-13th centuries) of Hungary, and home of the Primate of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary. Then there is BUDAPEST.

Just north of BUDAPEST the Danube takes a 90° turn, changing its course from a West-East direction to due South, slicing Hungary in half. The Western half of Hungary is called Dunántúl or Transdanubia.

After leaving Hungary, the Danube winds through Croatia, Serbia, also touching Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine before its delta empties it into the Black Sea in Romania.

More than anyone needed or wanted to know, I am sure.

Enjoy the first day of the year.

Nancy 10:59 AM  

I was on my way to this site to look up 37A and the surrounding downs. (All I had was O SUSANNAH. Then, bam, I got TARGETS, clued so subtly the answer had eluded me completely. So then I saw that it wasn't "I'm So Late," but rather "IT'S_ LATE. It could only be TOO, but too many letters. And then I saw it: "2"! And I already had 0! And suddenly 32D which was driving me crazy was GO 4 IT. Eureka! A wonderful puzzle!

joho 11:00 AM  

Loved it! Thank you to Peter who is always pushing the ENV!

Also, thank you for including our beloved EELS and ETUI.

This was the perfect start to the new year. My thanks and best wishes to @Rex, Will Shortz and all constructors and contributors to this wonderful site!

Catherine 11:09 AM  

In Swahili, the prefix "wa" means "people of." So the "Waswahili" are the Swahili people, and the Watutsi, are the Tutsi people. The prefix "ki" means "language of" so Kiswahili is the Swahili language and Kitutsi is the Tutsi language, and so forth. Also I think the "watutsi" was a '60s dance that sort of loosely aped some white people's idea of what someone saw the Watutsi doing some time.

Jeff in Ann Arbor 11:12 AM  

Fellow Ann Arborite Pete Collins is familiar with the bur oak, sometimes spelled burr, because it's on the Ann Arbor seal. http://arborwiki.org/Seal_of_the_City_of_Ann_Arbor

Tita 11:12 AM  

Happy 2014 to all!

@Anoa Bob - TRIREMEs are a gimme for this gal too (not from puzzles - from my Classics minor - ain't I smart)... But your musing led me to wiki - there were in fact polyremes above three, but are now believed to refer to doubling or tripling up of men on the oars, and not to how many *rows* of oars.
Thanks - I will henceforth refer to any rowboat I see as a unireme. What would my kayak be, I wonder...

@GeorgeB - your birthplace is indeed a beautiful citym and full of music. I saw La Traviata at the jewelbox of an opera there.

And thanks for the reminder - I'm never disappointed in the puzzles you proffer.

@lms - great story about Kermit!

Mom and I often paint Acorns for Christmas decorations, and even for Easter and Halloween. I'll have to find some BUROAK Acorns - will give us a much larger *canvas*.

Had Kerry won in 2004, I could have explained to people how to pronounce my name: "Tereza - like the first lady..." While she is a Teresa, she too is Portuguese, and hte prononciation is the same.
That's not the only difference between us. There's that whole HEIRESS thing. Well, I s'pose I will be one one day - it's just a matter of 0's.

Thank you Mr. Collins, Mr. Sharp, and Mr. Shortz.

George Barany 11:13 AM  

@AliasZ, thanks for your wonderful travelogue which went through BUDAPEST as well as LINZ, clued a few years ago by @Liz Gorski w/r/t one of Mozart's relatively late symphonies. Contact me off-blog if you want to continue this discussion, which we need not inflict on everyone.

CBCD 11:17 AM  

C'mon Fellow Nitpickers! Are you asleep at the wheel?

I am surprised I am the first to point out that EGBERT is by no means the default answer for the clue First King of England.

Egbert was the King of Wessex.

Athelstan was the first king to unite the smaller kingdoms such as Wessex, East Anglia, and Kent. Athelstan is considered by some historians to be the first King of England..

Alfred the Great also ruled some of the united kingdoms and is considered by some historians to be the first king of England.

EGBERT? Not so much.

August West 11:18 AM  

Mornin' everybody. Happy 2014. I ripped through this at about 1:30A after return home from a party, and found my eyes too heavy to post at that time. Really had none of the troubles encountered by others in the NW, as ERNEST, NIRVANA, REUNION and TAKEANIP went in off their clues and provided more than enough fill to grok the potentially troublesome EGBERT and BUROAK. Only hit the brakes at CHIC, as all a la mode has ever meant to me is "served with ice cream." Got the trick at ITS2LATE, as confirmed by GO4IT, and then sailed straight through.

Thanks to 53A, I'll now have Revolution 9 running in loop through my consciousness all day.

"The Watusi, The Twist. Eldorado."

Lovin' me some all numbers captcha, yo.

Tita 11:20 AM  

@AliasZ - thanks for the travelogue!
I passed a few of those places when we *sailed* the Danube on a Russian-built high hydrafoil from Vienna to BUDAPEST.

Malsdemare 11:23 AM  

@lms, your stories are the highlight of my morning. Keep telling them.

DNF for me as. I had a brain fart at HAPPY 2014 and typed ooonefour. Because the crosses worked, and I didn't think to use numerals, I missed the sheer idiocy of 0014. If I'd paid attention, or not killed an important brain cell last night with the bubbly, I might have twigged to the need for a 2 and fixed the rest. But it was a fun reveal, nevertheless.

Carola 11:25 AM  

Very nice! I had fun filling in the corners (NIRVANA, CHIMERA, CALYPSO, TRIREME), then had to face the center. For the song, "I'm sO LAme" fit but seemed unlikely. Were the far sides of ranges "gAs jETS"? Suddently 2014 popped into mental view from the O in O SUSANNA. Then I just had to puzzle out how "HARD one" could possibly fit the clue - fun when that light bulb went on.

On the campus where I used to teach, many of the trees were labeled - I walked by a magnificent BUR OAK with it's HOARSENED acorns every day.

I liked how CALYPSO, besides fitting in with the musical theme (to which I'd add VOCAL RECITAL) also fit with CHIMERA in Greek mythology.

HAPPY New Year, everyone!

Lindsay 11:32 AM  

I got the rebus idea earlyish with ITS2LATE, but not knowing whether the year would be 20one/four or 20four/teen I worked around the last two theme squares until the end.

@jberg --- I haven't been abroad in, er, more than 10 years, but the International Herald Tribune used to carry the NYT puzzle. (back after a brief google) apparently the IHT is still published, but renamed the International New York Times. Sounds like a good bet they still run it.

Happy New Year to all.

Sandy K 11:48 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle TO NO END... thanks to Carole King, the rebus went in smoothly.

@George Barany- My grandmother was born in BUDAPEST, and I always begged for her emotional RECITAL of my favorite poem, "Pokaine" by Magyar poet Gyulai Pal.
I can count from 1-10 in Hungarian, but can write only phonetically, eg, edgy, keto, harom, nadgy, ut, hut, hat, njoltz, kilenz, tisz...??

HAPPY 2014 to everyone!

Unknown 11:49 AM  

This was fun. So glad I read the blog, as I was thinking today was Thursday and the puzzle was overly easy. Now I know it is Wednesday. No Mr. Happy Pencil for me, since I just have the cheapo version of the app and numbers are not available. Perhaps I will splurge and upgrade this year. If anyone out there has the non-free version, is it worth it?

Happy 2014 to all.

Lewis 12:48 PM  

@q- I love "Our Blessed Gray Lady of the Gridderati", and of course @r.alph takes some credit for it.

Fun puzzle sets the tone, hopefully, for a great year of puzzles ahead, some that get on OFL's good side. And may everyone's year sparkle!

Loren Muse Smith 12:57 PM  

@AliasZ – how cool to read about the Danube. How on earth do you know all that? Can you get back to me on the same account of the Little Kanawha River?!

@George – I had forgotten that you were born in BUDAPEST. To add to @Sandy K's inventory, I can say only köszönöm szépen. The Hungarian language is (at least when I was studying what's now probably Model T Linguistics) a real poser as to what family it belongs in.

@Catherine – you speaka my language – ki-morphology. You're an interesting wahine. (Different wa, huh?)

@Tita – "I passed a few of those places when we *sailed* the Danube on a Russian-built high hydrafoil from Vienna to BUDAPEST." Wow. And here I thought I was well-travelled just to have had a coffee served with a chocolate square in Vienna. I need to add to my bucket list.

So bucket list and back to @AliasZ's Blue Danube. I would love someday to do the Viennese Waltz to the Blue Danube in a dress like my avatar. In the world of ballroom dancing, the regular Waltz is like preschool compared to the post-graduate wicked-fast difficult, technical Viennese Waltz. I tried to find a clip of Ginger Rogers and Fred AUSTERE but to no avail.

Masked and Anonym007Us 1:02 PM  

Happy To Oh Won For!
Y'all make any Razor Loo Shuns, Prof. 4-Oh?

HOARSEN. Now that's the kinda quiet, understated desperation that M&A so pitifully thrives on. Personally, CCIC is pretty good stuff, too, tho... as in Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, of coarse. yummers.

Muse, muse, @muse... Never admit to havin "drek" in yer puzs. (Anemic U-counts, yes.) Take the high road. I prefer one of the following more platable terms, for my own "verbally challenged" puz areas...
1. Odas D'Esperation.
2. ?? Clue opportunities.
3. Gentleman's weejecta.
4. Nat-tick city limits.
5. Cheese cutter's argot. (aka Gas attacks)
6. Pewit wannabes.
7. Accidental toxic incidents.
8. Narrow escapes.
9. Blooper reel highlights.
10. Exotica.


Agent 007-U will return, in "The Spy Who Buroak-ed Me"...

Steve J 1:41 PM  

@AliasZ: I had to smile a bit at "it becomes this slow-flowing, lazy, massive and tame creature that still rears its head every spring just to show everyone who is boss". When I visited BUDAPEST in April of 2006, the river was well over its banks (I gathered from locals it was the worst flooding they'd seen in their lifetimes; if I recall correctly, last spring duplicated if not surpassed that). The river was high enough that they were sandbagging Parliament, and you felt like you could reach out and touch the rushing waters when walking over some of the bridges.

Hope everyone had a fun night of revelry. Meant to say it last night but forgot: Thanks to Rex for being our host and consistently providing something to think and/or talk about (I know I improved greatly as a solver as a result of reading commentary here). And thanks to everyone for providing such interesting and entertaining discussion. I enjoy the hell out of this place and the people who make it what it is.

August West 1:48 PM  

@Susan, If you solve on a handheld device, I strongly recommend the Magmic app over AL, for its ease of use. In my experience, the qwerty keyboard, directional change, switch between letters and numbers/symbols, and rebus square access are all ergonomically superior to AL. For $16.99/yr (less than the cost of 9 daily NYT papers), you get the puzzle delivered at no later than 10P ET, access to over 6K puzzles from the archive, categorized by day-of-week, and the ability to track your solving times against both prior personal performance *and* all other users of the app. I must sound like a shill for the company, and others will no doubt hold the contrary opinion, but I suspect you would find purchase of the app among the best 17 bucks you'd ever spent. I use AL only for puzzles outside the NYT library, and my solve times always suffer solely due to its inferior navigational functionality.

Happy New Year!

M and Also 2:09 PM  

Meant "palatable" in prev comment. But maybe "platable" is a word,too? (in the HOARSEN sense, at least?)

@muse: Touchin reunion story. Over the years of class reunions, I have also noticed that the other alums start to look more and more like frogs...

@Q: So, were U goin fer a sorta eely effect, on yer New Years greetin? I take it as a bad sign of yer mental progress, that lately I'm astartin to understand (along with continue to enjoy) most of yer primo comments. Anyhoo, thUmbsUp on fightin to get yer squiggles right.

@Barany dude: mucho thanx for the latest Muse puz. Do U accept anonymous submissions of puzs that use ??-clues? There would be extra U's in it, for yah...

Happy New Year Times!


Steve J 2:09 PM  

@August West: I also use the Magmic app, and it does have some benefits. They finally seem to have addressed some of the buggier aspects - it's been months since I've had a puzzle fail to mark as complete even when every square as correct, as happened from time to time, and they finally seemed to have upgraded their servers so looking up your comparative times doesn't time out after literally a minute of spinning - so it's a smoother user experience now.

I use the Crosswords app from Standalone, Inc. for all my other puzzling on my iPad (which I prefer doing puzzles on over the computer, because I'd rather do puzzles on my couch or in bed than at my desk). The Pro version (one-time fee within the app) unlocks automatic access and downloads of puzzles like BEQ, Gorski, Chronice of Higher Ed, Matt Gaffney, etc. You can also load .puz files (Across Lite format). You can access the NYT puzzle through there, too (with subscription through the NYT).

The Crosswords app is better than Magmic at switching between acrosses and downs (just tap the displayed clue in the bar above the keyboard), but Magmic handles rebuses better and has a cleaner layout overall.

Long-winded way of saying, for those who like to do their puzzles away from their laptop or desktop computer, those are two good options. (I've tried Puzazz; I have a hard time liking it. Very quirky.)

jae 2:21 PM  

@lms - I hope you didn't take my comment the wrong way. I adore and look forward to your posts. My problem is that when an answer evokes a memory for me it's usually neither delightful or amusing. Yesterday, for example, MALTA brought back the last/only time I was there. It was shortly after the 6 Day War in 1967 and I was in the Navy. I was an enlisted journalist and went aboard the Liberty, which had been towed there after being shot up by the Israelis, to talk to the crew about what had happened. Not a cheerful story.

Your REUNION story on the other hand was delightful and amusing.

@AliasZ - Thanks for the Danube travelogue.

Carola 2:23 PM  

@Susan McConnell - I sprang for the paid version of Across LIte so that I could enter rebus squares. However, sometimes when I have a rebus accurately filled in (as today with the numerals 2014), I don't see a "Congratulations." For anyone solving for time (I don't), that kind of thing would have to be frustrating.

Ellen S 2:31 PM  

@Steve & @Susan, I also prefer solving in bed or on thecouch, hence (HENCE?) only using iPad apps. I haven't tried Magmic, but gave up AcrossLite in favor of Puzzazz, which I do like. One bad about the paid version of AL is, the Rebus feature is only activated when the puzzle does involve a rebus, thus telling you in advance. I want to cheat on my terms, not theirs! However, there's been a new version, which I haven't tried, and they may have fixed that.

Puzzazz is free, so you can try it without making a commitment. I like it because it allows handwriting, like R.alph's web-based app. Puzzazz is a little quirky, as it doesn't always recognize my letters, but it's not completely weird like the old Palm alphabet. Once it recognizes letters (it's good at rebus entries too) it will tell you if you completed correctly, and also highlights the "trick" parts, like anagrams.

I solved last night lying in bed while my 50-pound dog was having a goat at the celebrations going on in the neighborhood. He finally climbed on top of me, panting and drooling. I finished the puzzle (no problem with 0 SUSANNA, because I blanked on the name of the sone and filled in the 2014 before messing things up with the "O") and then wrote a brilliant post and was just about to tap on "submit" when said 50-pound dog jogged my hand (so convenient to have a dog to blame) and changed the page and wiped out my post. Then, having messed up my New Year's greetings, and saturated the blanket, and broken some of my ribs, he moved to a different part of the bed.

I didn't mind starting out the year with EELS, and thought the puzzle was fun, though somewhat damp. Oh, no, that was just dog drool. I do wonder at NONAME for 67A "Little-known." I think of NONAME as meaning "generic". But since I never heard of White Stripes (twice!?), what do I know?

Keep up the stories, @Loren!

okanaganer 2:34 PM  

I assume I'm the only one who tried HAPPY MXIV. I was only off by a millennium.

Next year it will fit: HAPPY MMXV!!

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

any puzzle with this many names sort defeats the fun and purpose of a crossword puzzle. that to me shows poor design.

August West 2:44 PM  

@ Steve J: "because I'd rather do puzzles on my couch or in bed than at my desk)" Heh! Exactly!

Thanks for the hip to Standalone. I'm going to give it a try.

Captcha: PlayPal

Sfingi 2:52 PM  

Totally agree with Rex 2-day.

Also, sites/cites don't even agree on who is the first king of olde Engaland.

Also agree with @Cascokid.

HOARSEN - let's see - a homophone of whore's son.

The WATUSI (sans 2nd T) was a dance in my day.

ANON B 2:59 PM  

I may have missed it , but how
does chic=a la mode?

ANON B 3:00 PM  

I may have missed it , but how
does chic=a la mode?

Anonymous 3:07 PM  

a @anon B

"a la mode" = of the fashion, as does


LaneB 3:08 PM  

conAuunt aveedDefinitely a challenging Wednesday, but a nice way to start the year. much confusion until I caught on to the numbers and their pronunciation.. Plenty of erasures and one wrong letter: the cross of HOARSoN and TARGoTS. I guess that makes it a DNF, but I'm not unhappy [2014] about it. Also didn't really know MIKE Love or that ETUI was a tailor's case. Still. . . .

OISK 3:23 PM  

Sorry, but this was awful. I finished, although one could say I didn't, because I was forced to ask "Do you know any Carole King songs?" My guest said "It's too late," (I actually have heard that one, although I know who Sky King was, but wouldn't know Carole if I sat opposite her on the IRT.) No one says "Happy two o one four." No one. So it is not a greeting, but a wise-guy conceit, mucking up the center of the puzzle. The puzzle was full of pop slop, which doesn't bother others, but ruins things for me. Never heard of Frank and Ernest, Know of Nirvana only because of past puzzles, never heard of White Stripes or Outcast, nor the name of any Beach Boy. (Mike Love???) There was also Ian and Don Ho, and Paulina - OK, I knew those, but it is a huge overdose of pop culture for me. No fun. A big BOOOO from Brooklyn

mac 3:26 PM  

Great puzzle, with a nice discovery of the numbers in the end. Somehow I wound my way there.

I had some trouble in the NW because of pin oak and then of course Santana. Should read the clues more carefully.

I also know sherry more as an aperitif, but there are some aged ones that are served after dinner, with the cheese. There was not enough space for sauterne.

mac 3:26 PM  

A la mode = chic? My first thought was whipped cream.

Last Silver Range Bullet 3:33 PM  

@Jeff Chen et al: Up top, the xwordinfo summary of this puz says that it's missin the letters {J Q X}. All right, then. I have tried and tried to find a Z in this grid, but can't get it.

@nice crossword people: Clue for TARGETS seems slightly off its feed, to me.
Usually we have targets at one end of the range, and folks with guns at the other end. Unless it's one of them Civil War enactment dealies.

Confusin to the M & A. Some of which could be caused by all the homemade champagne yesternite and in the wakemeup mamosas, I'll grant.

2014. Finally, a year that ain't odd.


Carola 3:44 PM  

@Ellen S - About that rebus feature in Across Lite - in the version I have, in Settings you can turn off "Display rebus keys automatically...."

Loren Muse Smith 3:46 PM  

@mac – Trockenbeerenauslese didn't fit, either. Heck – how do they even fit that on the bottle?

@Ellen S – to quote a beloved poster here, "I think I love you." Anyone who allows a panting, drooling 50 lb dog on the bed is ok by me!

@jae – I consider you one of my earliest friends here, and I think even if you felt all snarky toward me inside, you would never slap my hand. I totally did not take your remark the wrong way. I just like to take every opportunity to admit that I'm aware that I run off at the mouth here, but when I'm waiting for the kids, husband. . .it's more fun to write stuff than to clue that, er, puzzle, Mr. P! I'll get right on it!

@M&A – thanks for the tutelage. DREK is actually an acronym: Desperate Rakish Eelistic Kraft. Aforementioned DREK stemmed from the arrogance of a novice constructor cramming in all that other periphery, uh, paraphernalia into the grid. I need to add that there was the Desperate Entry of the Year that editor George Barany deftly, quickly, fixed for me. Somewhere around Madison, Wisconsin, I had had PETTI, clued as, and I'm not making this up, "____coat Junction" or something just as frantic. Thanks, @George!

Tita 3:47 PM  

@Sandy K, lms, george...
I found Budapest to be wildly frustrating, linguistically...
Being anywhere from near fluent to passingly dangerous in a few languages, I kept trying to read signs, Laura, menus, placards, assuming I would be able to grasp a word or two...Semmi!
Most humbling.

In the subway,(predating the IRT by 8 years), does the sign say "exit", "toilet", or the name of the stop?

Benko 3:57 PM  

Now I have Wilson Pickett's "Land of 1000 Dances" running through my head on an endless loop: "Do the WATUSI, like my little Lucy."
Like @retired chemist, I thought this was an easy puzzle made tough by the inclusion of the rebus. Like @carola, I briefly considered "gas jets" for TARGETS.
Today is going to be a lot of hiding in bed wading through a hangover.

Doc John 5:24 PM  

Happy New Year, everyone!
I was going to reference "Revolution No. 9" but August West beat me to it.

Doc John 5:25 PM  

Happy New Year, everyone!
I was going to reference "Revolution No. 9" but August West beat me to it.

mac 6:38 PM  

Just reading a few more comments and seeing the nice blog relationships that have developed, I think Will Shortz should be very grateful for RP's effort. It makes doing the puzzle more enjoyable and more important to all of us.

GILL I. 8:13 PM  

Rocky Mountain High.....Colorado. @Questinia you have to show me how you do the music symbols!
2014 HAPPY to all of you special Rex friends.
Peter Collins, this was damn good.

dk 9:09 PM  

Hi kids,

Coming here late is great. What a way to start the new year reading puzzle-pal comments.

As with most once 2014 revealed itself. I was in like Flint. Same gripe as Dr. Parker over HAPPY2014. Got over it!

***(3 Stars) thank you Peter.8285932

dk 9:11 PM  

Darn I revealed my robot code. It is what happens after New Years Eve in Austin TX

Z 10:28 PM  

When I solve on the iPad I use Crux. Decent app.

Bon Soir from Quebec.

retired_chemist 11:14 PM  

@mac 6:38 PM - I agree. While Rex is frequently curmudgeonly and overcritical of many puzzles, his thoughts do spark us all to think about them.

sanfranman59 2:57 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 7:38, 6:18, 1.21, 97%, Challenging (7th highest ratio of 210 Mondays)
Tue 7:37, 8:12, 0.93, 26%, Easy-Medium
Wed 14:15, 10:26, 1.37, 97%, Challenging (8th highest ratio of 209 Wednesdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:42, 3:56, 1.19, 96%, Challenging (9th highest ratio of 210 Mondays)
Tue 4:45, 5:09, 0.92, 20%, Easy-Medium
Wed 9:00, 6:11, 1.46, 100%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 209 Wednesdays)

spacecraft 11:47 AM  

I didn't have THAT tough a time with it. Yeah, I was 2nd-guessing myself in the NW because the word BUROAK just looked wrong--and I was only guessing at the A in Mr. SHARPE's (NO-)name. Ask 1,000 people on the street (no fair using Wall!) who William F. Sharpe is and you'll get 999 "I haven't the foggiest"s. Our own fearless leader enjoys (?) far more fame.

As with OTHERs, I caught the bagless cat at 27d. The amazing Ms. King is a rock icon with few peers and many fans, including yours truly, and ITS2LATE was a total gimme.

Hand up for cOARSEN, which fits the clue far better IMO. I was doing the downs in the NE, so I had CCIC filled in for 10a, expecting to find a clue such as "Late third-century year." Oops. That square was my only w/o.

More self-doubting at the two-T WATUTSI. I shrugged and groused that if P.C. was gonna use a variant he should say so in the clue. But apparently this is a completely different people. Again, who knew? Betcha none of that same thousand.

The top half seemed awfully proper-name-heavy; not so much the bottom. The SW is a super corner; great work there. CALYPSO is a fabulous word.

Small nit: The Foster work, as far as I can find out, was "Oh, SUSANNA," WITH the H. It's repeated immediately in the lyric: "Oh, don't you cry for me." However, this and the extra T, and that strange tree--oh wait! It's not "buroak," it's BUR (space) OAK! DUH!!! [headslap]...Anyway, those aren't enough to turn down a thumb here. Besides, can any grid with the awesome PAULINA be bad?

Another 2 pair *sigh*.

DMG 2:29 PM  

Names, names, names! I've never heard of t
PAULINA, Carol King, Mike Love, the White Stripes, OutKast...you get the idea. Also misspelled WATUsSI, and thought "range" referred to either mountains or a stove (gAsjETS fits). Even so, I got everything that didn't involve the rebus. Those crossings are surrounded by blanks. Maybe next time. And Happy belated New Year!

Three pairs??? 8's, 5's, and 2's.

Waxy in Montreal 2:34 PM  

As pointed out by @CBCD way above, EGBERT as the first king of the English is by no means a consensus pick. I knew Frank's pard was ERNEST so I couldn't go with ALFRED (a better choice IMHO) or ATHELSTAN which plain doesn't fit. So gave up and went with EDWARD, not a HAPPY2014 start.

Count me in the COARSEN/CCIC camp even though CHIC seemed much more likely. BUROAK (obviously a var. of BARAK and BARACK which have appeared here recently) was ne to me as was the WATUTSI spelling.

Still, a very sound puzzle - if today was a Thursday or holiday, might have realized what 37A was all about.

And wishing a belated HAPPY YEAR OF THE HORSE to syndilanders, one and all.

Waxy in Montreal 2:39 PM  

Typo - should be new, not "ne" above...

This time also have 3 pairs, 9's, 8's and 6's. Anyone with a very full house?

Dirigonzo 3:39 PM  

I felt so smug at discovering the rebus that I never bothered to go back and change the random Roman numeral produced by cOARSEN. And by the way, the clue for 51d is just plain wrong - what you take home is a lot less than you EARNED, n'est pas?

Needed a 7 for my straight, didn't get it.

rain forest 5:20 PM  

Very nice puzzle to start the year, and I thought the corners were great. In addition, once I relented on HOARSEN, no dreck.

I was going to tell all about my high school reunion--maybe another time...

Alice 6:54 PM  

I get the NYTimes puzzle in a Minnesota paper and this was especially hard because we got it on February 5th! I didn't know numbers were allowed in the puzzles, but I MIGHT have guessed 2014 on Jan. 1. I definitely didn't guess it on Feb. 5, and ended up looking for the answers here. That's a huge drawback of having all the puzzles printed a month or more late.

Dirigonzo 7:29 PM  

@Alice - When you are solving the syndicated NYT puzzle five weeks after it was originally published, as many of us do, it helps to look at the puzzle number which indicates the date it originally appeared. Today's offering is No. 0101, which means it was published on January 1. Does that help? Now that you have found us I hope you will come back often to add your comments or akk your questions - we're here every day!

Solving in Seattle 8:34 PM  

Just back from mingling with 699,999 other 12s at the Seahawk celebration parade - just awesome! (And that's a word I don't use lightly.)

I smiled when I got the "too oh won for." Clever theme, Peter C.

eat before SUP, and the only place it really took me awhile to work through (while on the bus to downtown) was the WATUTSI/ITStooLATE/ohSUSANNA jungle.

@Diri, thanks for the 411 on the cwpuz No. I hadn't previously taken notice of that.

Capcha: byptius: Caesar's wild younger brother.

JD 10:37 PM  

Rex, I wonder if you value consistency over artistry. I'm not making a judgement. I appreciate expertly crafted things and at your level of solver ability I can see that you need a certain type of challenge. . But I think the fact that the theme was compressed and to one side made it sort of a small gem. It's what sunk us on the whole puz. Can't be a theme. It's all just right here. But that's our level. And we're Californians.

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