Old-time actress Meadows / THU 1-16-14 / For whom Alfred Pennyworth is butler / Glass Menagerie woman / Wheel with sloped teeth / Roman rebuke / Cartoonist who said I don't read watch TV to get ideas My work is basically sitting down at drawing table getting silly

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Constructor: Elizabeth A. Long

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: DOTTED I (36A: Lowercase letter illustrated six times in this puzzle?)— all "I"s have the letter string "DOT" directly above them.

Word of the Day: JAYNE Meadows (48D: Old-time actress Meadows) —
Jayne Meadows (born September 27, 1919 in WuchangChina) is an American stage, film and television actress, as well as an author and lecturer. // Meadows' most famous movies include: Undercurrent (with Katharine Hepburn), Song of the Thin Man (with William Powell and Myrna Loy), David and Bathsheba (with Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward and Raymond Massey), Lady in the Lake (with Robert Montgomery and Audrey Totter), Enchantment (with David Niven and Teresa Wright), andCity Slickers (as the voice of Billy Crystal's oversolicitous mother). Among her earliest television appearances, Meadows played reporter Helen Brady in a 1953 episode of Suspense opposite Walter Matthau entitled, "F.O.B. Vienna."
She was a regular panelist on the original version of I've Got a Secret and an occasional panelist on What's My Line?, the latter alongside husband Steve Allen. She also appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood. During the early days of the burgeoning live entertainment scene in Las Vegas, the Allens occasionally worked together as an act. Prior to Allen's death in 2000, the couple made several TV appearances together - in 1998 they played an argumentative elderly couple in an episode of the TV series Homicide: Life on the Street (based on the hypothetical Ronald Opus case) in which Allen's character accidentally shoots a suiciding man as he is plunging from the roof of their building. In 1999 they made their last joint TV appearance (again playing a couple) in the all-star episode of the Dick Van Dyke series Diagnosis: Murder, entitled "The Roast", which marked Allen's final screen appearance during his lifetime. Meadows has also been active in Republican affairs although Steve Allen was a Democrat. She is the recipient of several Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from various universities. (wikipedia)
• • •

Had no idea what was going on—none—until I was finished, and I didn't get the "revealer" until very late in the game. I can see, in retrospect, that this theme is clever, conceptually, but it was not pleasant to solve at all, in large part because of the revealer. DOTTED I … I have to say that it's not a thing. You dot your "i"s, sure, but you say "lowercase i" not DOTTED I. It's just not tight, as a phrase, and when I saw [Lowercase letter…] in the clue, all I could think of was, "What?" A letter is a letter. A lowercase letter is a lowercase letter. What the hell answer could it be? Is DOTTED J a thing? It follows the same logic. What exactly is an "undotted i"? It doesn't exist. So, a DOTTED I is … an I. A lowercase "i." If it is lowercase, then it is dotted—so you would never call it "dotted" because its lowercaseness makes that a given. There's just something about the phrase DOTTED I, and the way it was clued, that sat very poorly with me.

Also, the cluing. It was what I would call Newsday cluing. Now, I love the Newsday "Saturday Stumper," but too often difficulty is achieved in that puzzle via ambiguous one- or two-word phrases. Not imaginative; just vague. There just wasn't much cleverness or playfulness in the cluing here. It was all [Turn], [Lead], [Grasped], [Coll. units], so the puzzle ended up being kind of a drag to work through. ANECDOTE is [Speaker's aid]? That is so forced, it hurts. An ANECDOTE *is* speech. The speaker is speaking when telling an ANECDOTE. I get that it somehow "aids" you in getting your point across, maybe, but that clue seems tenuous. [First of all] should have a question mark for sure. SCH., however, *doesn't* need "Abbr." because the "Tech" in the clue is already an abbreviation (27D: Tech, e.g.). Other difficulties came from stuff I just didn't know, or stuff that looked weird. AMANDA? (16A: "The Glass Menagerie" woman). No. CANOEIST? (17A: Paddle pusher). I'm sure that's right, but spelling-wise, I was having trouble buying it. UNBELT? (42A: Start to take off one's pants, say). I got that easily enough, actually, but until *all* the crosses checked out, I wasn't sure (credit to the clue, though, which is by far the most interesting of the day).  DOT over I is a cute concept, but I think it needed a different revealer, and the cluing overall just needed to be more interesting/better/tighter. Good idea, wobbly execution.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:07 AM  

Easy-medium for me, mostly because I held on to LinES before LACES too long.   Reasonably smooth grid and a BEQesque theme made for a fun solve.  Liked it.  

Cluing JAYNE as "old time" is a tad harsh.  According to IMBD she was acting in movies and on TV in the '90s. Plus she's still around at age 94.  Those of a certain age may remember her sister Audrey from The Honeymooners.

Steve J 12:15 AM  

Not much to say about this one, other than I found it blazingly easy (a record Thursday time, in fact, and on par with my average Wednesday). Didn't get the theme until the puzzle was done, so that didn't factor in one way or another. It really felt like a themeless.

Didn't find the fill terribly remarkable, nor the cluing. But I didn't find anything particularly bad, either (although I thought UNBELT was a little odd). This one was just kind of there and was pretty unremarkable.

okanaganer 1:14 AM  

When I picked up on the theme, I started looking for "i"s formed by the black squares as pseudo-pixels. I guess I'm just too visual.

Rex: TECH is darn near a proper word nowadays, so I guess it is not automatically regarded as an abbrev.

Info: HOG comes from "Harley Owner's Group" and is their NYSE symbol! My friend tried to go to a Harley show and was turned away at the door by: "Man, if you ain't a HOG, you cain't come in."

AliasZ 1:15 AM  

What a strange little puzzle. On one hand, there were an awful lot of black squares which caused a chopped-up feel to the grid and caused sections of it to be rather isolated. On the other, the theme was cute and well executed. What also felt strange was that of the six down "OI" words two were French and one Russian. I liked that all the I's in the grid were DOTted, and that all DOT words above them had different meanings.

What made the construction extra difficult was that there could be no I's in the top row or right below a black square where a DOT could not sit above. Thus, outside the revealer DOTTED I, no DOT words could contain an I, and the meaning of these words could not actually mean DOT, like: microdot, polka dot or dotted line. But Herodotus, endotherm, dotal (dowry-related) would have worked. With so many restrictions, no wonder the overall feel of the grid was a but restricted and choppy.

In places I really enjoyed this one, in places I was ATSEA. Some of the cluing was excellent, especially the waiter's GODOT who never comes, and ADAM, the first of all. Also, every time I COINED a phrase, I was always made up: eyeliner, mascara, lipstick and some blush. Not too heavy. Yeah, and nail polish too.

In the "Not So Fast!" category, you should know that MUTTs will be allowed to compete in the Westminster Dog Show. Go MUTTs, you are no longer weejects! (Hi, @M&A)

Good night owl.

Evan 1:26 AM  

I'd put this as easy-medium, as I didn't get stuck for very long much at all, though some of those clues are definitely tough. The clues for ADAM and GODOT are both really good, though I'll admit I have zero idea how VAN makes any sense for "Lead" -- is that part of some old term or expression I'm not aware of?

I think the puzzle concept is fine, and I can understand how difficult it must have been to limit the grid to six I's in specific places below an O. Having said that, something felt a little amiss. Not the DOTTED I entry that Rex mentioned, but rather the word DOT above the I's. I see what it's going for, but something seems a little awkward about using three squares for DOT above one square for the I.

That's not really a big problem for this puzzle, but I guess I couldn't shake the feeling that I wanted something a little more from it, like a much trickier theme to suss out. I don't remember where I've seen something like it before, but I think it would have been neat if the crossing down words really truncated the answers to signify a lowercase I, so you've have a clue for DiT instead of DO IT at 5-Down, or AMi instead of A MOI at 9-Down, or the home repair TV host Bob ViLA instead of VOILA at 46-Down. Somehow I feel like that would have made for a bigger a-ha moment.

As they say, your mileage may vary.

Garth 1:28 AM  

Agree with @Steve J about how easy the puzzle was. I would have smashed my Thursday record if not for a brain freeze in the SE corner. Instead I came in just over my record time. Got the theme when I hit the revealer. Nice puzzle.

Just skimmed over @Rex's review. It looked like one his rants which, for me, don't make for enjoyable reading.

Captcha poker: Four of a kind tonight

ESP 1:51 AM  


VAN as in VANGUARD, which I only knew because of "Game of Thrones".

Anonymous 1:56 AM  

I'm new to the world of solving and this is the first NYT Thursday I've ever completed cleanly. That must make it Easy/Medium, at most.

Evan 1:58 AM  


Really? I watch "Game of Thrones" but don't recall hearing them say that -- perhaps it's more common in the books, which I haven't read yet. Either way, it's a super-tough clue.

Carola 2:23 AM  

I got the reveal but failed to connect the DOTs in interpreting it: I saw the O's over the I's and thought that they represented the DOTs. Completely missed the flanking D's and T's. So I appreciated the puzzle much more after reading @Rex.

I found the cluing on the tough side, enjoyed figuring it all out. Do-overs: SnortS, cRS (for "credits"), rICER, SCi, ZAnd. Didn't know DAPS or VAN with that meaning.

Just noticed that I's sometime partner TEE (as in "Dot your i's and cross your t's") also appears.

Anecdote Catsup Meters 3:55 AM  

Ha! I too thought the O's over the i were big fat dOts... didn't see that the word DOT was over i,
so now I go from like to love!!!

And to limit only six I's in one puzzle!!!
Don't get rexrant, but then I never do! Dotted i's are very much a thing, as are crossed t's!

LindA/BELLA which led to lAdydi instead of BATMAN, bec of the L.
And I had layLOW...if I had grokked the theme earlier, that would have helped me get AIM earlier.

I liked that the CANOEIST (that is a freaky-looking word) was ATSEA.

And a propos to nothing, ZAHN means "tooth" so maybe Paula's great grandpa was a dentist...or she just has a nice smile.

I thought Elizabeth Long, no HACK she, AIMed high and succeeded brilliantly!

Anonymous 4:29 AM  

So easy if one isn't a crossword maven. Rant on, Rex. Amazed that you didn't grok AMANDA, or accept the fact that speakers employ ANECDOTEs to make points.

Danp 5:16 AM  

Made up = ATONED, giving me DOTTEDO. My first thought was, "and Will Shortz thinks there are only so many ideas in the world."

Clark 5:50 AM  

I liked this a lot. I especially liked being stumped by the revealer for quite a while. Figuring out the theme got me VOILA, which I hadn't been sure about because I couldn't get the stuff around it. VAN and DOTAGE got me BATMAN, etc.

DOTTED I seems like a thing to me. And an undotted I would be an upper case I, or perhaps an iota.

John Child 6:04 AM  

Different, fun and clean. Quite easy, it still a win!

Anonymous 6:06 AM  

I don't like TECH=SCH. Tech is an abbreviation for technology. Technology is the object of the prepositional phrase 'of technology' as in the Georgia Institute of Technology. INST seems like the appropriate clue here.

DrXWord 6:37 AM  

I learned two things today (via Google). First, there are quite a lot of small businesses that go by the name "DOTTED I" or some variant thereof, like DOTTED eye. Not sure why. Second, in Turkish alphabet, there are dotted and in dotted Is, two different letters. Who knew (besides Turks). The second point convinces me that the revealer is legit. But that clue could have been a lot tougher (Turkish lower case letter or online bridal shop!)

DrXWord 6:39 AM  

That should have been dotted and undotted Is.

Loren Muse Smith 6:39 AM  
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Glimmerglass 7:06 AM  

Two things happened today. The puzzle was right in my wheelhouse. Amanda Wingfield is one of my favorite characters in drama. (My wife makes fun of me by quoting Amanda: "You're a regular Christian martyr.") The clues were not easy, but they fell quickly for me. The second thing was that the puzzle happened to be outside Rex's wheelhouse. It happens, Rex. Deal with it. A "dotted I" is not a thing one says. "dotted" is a descriptor. An "undotted I" is an upper case I.

Jeremy Mercer 7:14 AM  

Surprised to see the compliments for the GODOT clue. I had always thought GODOT was a person, not a thing, so shouldn't that be 'Whom some waiters never see?'

Jeremy Mercer 7:15 AM  
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Unknown 7:25 AM  

I also found this blindingly easy, even though I never heard of either Amanda or Jayne. Sometimes, things just click, I suppose. I think Rex is pretty accurate with his comments, though.

@evan - read virtually any naval history and you will see VAN. The destroyers are always in the VAN of the attack.

jberg 7:29 AM  

Medium for me - I was stuck in the NE until I got the theme, which gave me DOTE ON. Until then, I was looking for a gizmo-synonym at 21A.

I liked it, and DOTTED I is fine with me. I liked CANOEIST, too. Yes, that's what people who canoe are called - they are also called "paddlers" but that does not distinguish them from kayakers. Why is one an ist and the other an er? Does it have to do with French? (That would explain Oboist as well -- and Yo Yo Ma may well be one, when he wants a break from the 'cello!)

A minor cavil, though -- one propels a canoe through the water almost entirely by pulling one's paddle, so the clue does not quite work. I'm not entirely happy with the clue for 4D, either -- to me, ADE is a kind of drink, so orange is the prefix. That's really minor though.

There's a real missed opportunity in the clue for 2D, ONAN, though!

I had UNsnap before BELT, Stephen Fry before REA, PENAnce before PENALTY, and found PEOPLE way too vague for the clue. Still a fun puzzle, though, with all those DOTTED Is placed in symmetrical answers.

Elle54 7:44 AM  

Wow this was great! I loved the O over the I 6x and now I see the word DOT over the I's. clever!

Loren Muse Smith 7:49 AM  

ACME – Right – ZAHN means "tooth," so the fact that the clue for 10D included the word teeth, my whole puzzle experience was just ruined. Hah!

Seriously – I'm with @Clark -DOTTED I definitely feels like it's in my language, and I saw a two layer take on the themers: both the word DOT and also the big fat circle that all the cool girls used in seventh grade when we wrote notes to each other on colored notebook paper and folded into these elaborate origami-like self-contained envelopes. (Yes, I hung out with them but was kind of always on the periphery. I think I was tolerated because they got a kick out of playing the game, "Loren. Come over here." "Say 'shit.'" And then they would cackle at how weird it sounded if I said a bad word. Even back then, I secretly wore that as a badge of honor. So all the notes with these circles over the I's, fancy E's and R's, they all began with, "Hey! Whatcha doin?" And then some would go on to talk about who you "liked." Each girl carried around a three-inch thick, rubber-banded stack of notes, and if your friend's notes were confiscated or stolen, they you got to have your huge drama moment (namely crying at the lockers surrounded by these friends who laughed at you when you said a bad word, comforting you and secretly wishing one of the stolen notes had had one of their secrets so they could be the one crying) because the whole world would now find out that you "liked" Tommy R.

@AliasZ – I'm not quite sure I followed you, but like @Evan and @Acme pointed out - the only I's in the whole grid are the themer I's. El. E. Gant.

Agreed – CANOIEST looks weird. Is Yo Yo Ma an oboeist? ;-) Sir Walter Scott expert an Ivanhoeist? Ninja a tiptoeist? Is one "preparing to plant" a HOEist?

Last weekend, my son and I played chess. Twice. The games went pretty fast – I just have to wait forever to open while he LACES UP. He offered to be black both times and both times he handily beat me. (Watch out, kid – I'm gunning for you this weekend. I'm switching to Queen's Gambit.) Yes, he has started checking in here almost every day to see what I'm up to. This pleases me enormously, and I'm going to try to get him to do Lynn's Monday puzzle with me to further indoctrinate him. . .

Tried "Stella" before AMANDA. ;-)

Little known fact – the composer of the song tried for weeks with

I'm a little teapot, short and corpulent…

Fortunately, he consulted some synonyms to get STOUT. I would much rather be called STOUT than "corpulent." At STOUT, you just haven't crossed that line yet.

SPOIL, DOTE ON (no dad UNBELTING for a whoopin' here)
Does DOTE come from DOTAGE?
BORZOI, MUTT (update – mother in law is fine now, and the newly, proudly, CORPULENT Rat Poison MUTT Tucker is going home to Raleigh to be once again DOTED ON)
And I guess you could find that LARSON quote in Bartlett's REF?

This is true – I usually avoid saying ANECDOTE because deep down, I panic that I'll confuse it with "antidote." In fact, I have this, uh, story. . . when I was speaking on business etiquette in the prison. . .

Nice Thursday work-out, Elizabeth! How 'bout a rebus with a heart over the I next time? I think that was eighth grade. . .

r.alphbunker 8:31 AM  

N̈ïc̈ë p̈üz̈z̈l̈ë.

Given that the answers to crossword puzzles are always capitalized it is unusual to see a DOTTED I in a grid.

It took a while to see ANECDOTE in _N_CD_T_

Mohair Sam 8:40 AM  

This one played easy-medium here. Clever theme, btw. Really enjoyed it, great clues for GODOT and UNBELT.

@Rex is just wrong in his complaint about DOTTEDI, it's part of the language. Also disagree with him on ANECDOTE. When speaking before a group ANECDOTEs are a tremendous aid. If the clue had been "Talker's aid" I'd agree with Rex's logic.

@okanaganer - The word HOG was attached to Harley motorcycles long before there was an owners group, and long before Harley went public. Friend of mine has driven one since the sixties and we've always called it his Harley Hog. Hog is slang for a big motorcycle, and Harley is famous for the biggest, noisiest, and most powerful bikes out there. The H.O.G and NYSE simply took advantage of the nifty acronym.

joho 9:13 AM  

I like @Carola and @Anecdote Catsup Meters thought the nice fat "O" directly over the "I" was the DOT. To come here and discover that the word DOT is there was icing on the cake! Great theme idea beautifully executed!

My only write-over was lindA before BELLA (Hi, Andrea!).

Loved it!!!

Dorothy Biggs 9:19 AM  

Quad-stack puzzles make me wish for puzzles like this. Puzzles like this make me wish for quad-stack puzzles. I guess there's no pleasing some people...

This puzzle, in retrospect, made me feel a little claustrophobic. I needed a couple of 15s to open it up just a little. It felt very choppy somehow.

I grew up in Nebraska, so I appreciated the shout out for the Platte (along with Peyton Manning's incessant shout outs to Omaha).

Only mess up came with DICERS v. rICERS. ugh. Once I got my LADD on, I was cool.

CANOEIST. Um...yeah. One who canoes? If the -ist is okay, why not -er? a canoer? This word could be argued the same way Rex argued against a "dotted i". If you are in a canoe, you are just in the canoe...you are not an "ist." If you are an *expert* at canoeing, you *might* be an -ist at it, but I doubt that very much. Call me a doubtist.

I'll need to google further the -ist v. -er endings. In music we have pianists, flautists, oboists (no E), and timpanists. But we don't have drummists or trumpetists or singists. I wonder why?

RnRGhost57 9:23 AM  

The best part of waking up
Is Rex's bitch-rant with a cup

Tita 9:28 AM  

Like @carola and @acme, I saw only the "o" above each "I" as the "dot". But it was a fun enough aha for MOI.

Nice puzzle, Ms. Long.

I defend ANECDOTE as a speaker's aid. It is an aid - a tool - a crutch - you want just the right one to open up your crowd.

OK - here's my favorite meta-ANECDOTE.

My boss when I lived in Germany was a very brilliant guy, and very accustomed to public speaking.
He was addressing a large group of businessmen in Japan. His hosts had provided an interpreter.

He opened his speech with a carefully chosen ANECDOTE. He told it - took only 2 minutes or so, then waited as the interpreter retold it. In mere seconds. Producing resounding laughter.
He was surprised at how concise the Japanese language must be, but compared to German, anything is, so he kept going.

At the end of the night, he asked his host how it could be...

The host politely explained. The interpreter had said "Our illustrious guest has just told a joke. Please laugh.

Loren Muse Smith 9:53 AM  

@Tita - Love it!!! How utterly Japanese.

@NCA President, @Carola, et probably al - "ricer" before DICER. Just bought a ricer, and it has changed our whole Mashed Potato Experience.

@NCA President, continuing with your musings on IST, I guess a proctologist could loosely refer to him/herself as an "assist?"

chefbea 9:56 AM  

Too tough for me. DNF Hand up for seeing only the o above the i

JFC 10:05 AM  

Dear Rex, I'm sure before you post your blog each day you cross your T's and dot your I's....


Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Rex sure was wrong about everything today:
Of course "dotted I" is a thing.

MetaRex 10:15 AM  

This worked beautifully for me. My favorite part of puzzling as a not very fast solver who times himself is getting into mental ruts and (quite often slowly) seeing my way out of them. Got everything pretty quickly except for the surroundings of the reveal, which I just could not see...got locked in to the idea that the theme had something to do w/ the lowercase dot as part of an internet address...dot.edu was glue on my synapses...after long minutes I saw the I connection and finally got the answer. Still didn't notice all the DOTs were above all the Is until coming here...another aha moment then, though a much less satisfying one since the revelation came from outside rather than from my own sticky neurons.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:36 AM  

Nice puzzle. I had to complete the entire eastern half before I got the theme, which then helped me complete the western side.

And how could I forget:

The sons of the Prophet are brave men and bold
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest by far in the ranks of the Shah,
Was Abdul Abulbul Amir.

If you wanted a man to encourage the van,
Or harass the foe from the rear,
Storm fort or redoubt, you had only to shout
For Abdul Abulbul Amir.


Z 10:46 AM  

The NE stalled me out. I had Cameron Diaz as a "gimme" at 8D. Yikes. Zester wouldn't fit, though, so I pieced it all together one letter at a time. Hand up for rICER before DOTE ON finally, finally gave me Cheryl LADD. Other mistakes included flipping my U and E at first in FEUDAL and needing to fix rOILA. rAN worked for "Lead," so I had to cross my i's to fix that one. So, a self-inflicted challenging here.

DOTTED I is definitely a thing. Paddle Pusher is a thing, Paddle Puller is not. VAN is a thing. UNBELT is what dad's did once upon a time, before most of us learned that corporal punishment had no redeeming value and just made the adults assholes. Depending on how you want to interpret the play, GODOT can be a "who" or an "it." So, zero complaints on the cluing here. I guess that make me a zeroist. If anyone agrees with me I guess we would be zeroesists.

pmdm 10:50 AM  

Jeremy Mercer: Just to acknowledge your astute comment. Of course you are correct. Sometimes it humors me reading some of what I fell are nit-picking criticisms while poor cluing such as you refer to go unmentioned.

Steve J 10:54 AM  
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LMS Admirer 10:56 AM  

@LMS , Yo Yo Ma may be an oboeist in his off hours but he's a professional cellist

Steve J 11:02 AM  

I'm curious: For so many people saying DOTTED I is in the language, outside of the expression "dotting your I's and crossing your T's" (and its variants), how do you use it? Where does it show up in the language? Instead of asking someone if something should be spelled with a capital or lower-case I, do you ask, should it be spelled with a dotted or undotted I?

Personally, I've never once seen or heard any reference to DOTTED I outside of that well-known expression (save a scattered pop song and discussions about the dotted and undotted I's in the Turkish alphabet). If DOTTED I doesn't exist outside that expression, then I would argue that if it's out there without reference to its parent expression, then it's *not* in the language in its isolated state (sort of like "combobulate" is not in the language on its own, but it is in the language when it gets preceded by dis-). That was Rex's point.

His point also was that, as clued, DOTTED I is a tautology. In English, the lower-case I always has a dot (and since we do our puzzles in English, that's really all that's relevant). It would be like having ROUND O as an answer. Well, yes, it is round. But there aren't any un-round ones.

Now, I don't think that its use in the puzzle was as big a failing as Rex does. We all easily inferred the expression that the answer was referring to. Since crosswords aren't exercises in precision, to me it fell within the realm of acceptable constructor's license. But I do think that having the reveal not make direct reference to its parent phrase is not as elegant as it could have been. Even Jeff Chen, who no one will ever accuse of being excessively picky, let alone bitchy, noted at XWordInfo that he didn't think this was the best choice for a revealer in this puzzle, and speculates that its use was for ease of construction. His suggested alternatives - DOTTED THE I'S or DOTTED ALL THE I'S - would have directly referenced the originating expression and, in my opinion (and his) would have been more elegant.

I know many love bitching about Rex's bitching, but sometimes (often) there's substance there. And while I differ in my opinion of how much impact this had on the overall puzzle, I agree that it's an odd use.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Totally agree with @Garth - gee, Rex, bad day?

oldbizmarchy 11:10 AM  

i have never, ever, seen "naan" spelled as "nan." that really threw me for a loop. otherwise, had some trouble here and there but as rex said, just not a fun puzzle to solve. that makes the puzzles 2/4 this week for me (Monday and Wednesday I thought were well done, although yesterday's could have been more challenging).

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

You don't say 'dotted i", you say "dot your 'i's". So the first phrase is not in the language, while the second phrase is.

Being "in the language" is different from "I guess that's a way to describe a concept I've kind of heard of."

Sandy D.

Getrag 11:29 AM  

@anecedote - More on ZAHN and RATCHET - Zahn plus Rad (wheel) yields Zahrnrad, gear or cog - as in ZF Friedrichshafen AG, maker of automobile transmissions, among other things. ZF is short for Zahnradfabrik.

Always wanted Paula Zahn to sign off with "And that's the tooth."

John V 11:37 AM  

Cool theme, SW gave me a DNF, cause of the BATMAN bit, for which no idea. Nice look for a Thursday, challenging, from Socorro, NM.

John V 11:40 AM  

Oh yeah, VAN was/is a stinker. Makes no sense to me.

gifcan 11:40 AM  

I, too, stalled in the NE (@Z).

I, too, got tripped up by NAN rather than NAAN (@Oldbiz . . .).

At that point I had to go through and figure out the theme, DOTTEDI. Initially I thought it had something to do with VAN as I had never come across that term. Then I saw it, the DOTs above the Is.

With this information I was able to latch on to DOTEON and the rest fell into place.

Nice puzzle.

@LMS - enjoyed your school-girl memories

DPH 11:43 AM  

If your username or password has an i in it and try a cybercafe in Istanbul, you will quickly learn that the key for their undotted i is where QWERTY has the dotted one. They have a dotted i but its a little hard to findg

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GILL I. 11:56 AM  

I thought this was genius...! Great idea. I will though agree with @Rex on some of the cluing being a bit bland. That would be my only complaint. Did like the GODOT one.
Mr. Burns: Ketchup...CATSUP. Ketchup...CATSUP.
Whooo, I'm way over my head here.
@Tita: Your ANECDOTE made me laugh. I'm picturing the room suddenly bursting with loud laughter!
One of my male bosses used to always make little circles over his I's. I told him that was something only girls did. He wasn't amused but at least he didn't change to little hearts...
Good work Elizabeth Long...I enjoyed this puzzle.

Unknown 12:04 PM  

But Rex, there is a 7-letter word for a lower-case letter that even begins with DO. That, of course, is DOUBLEU, which matches the clue but not the theme, as opposed to DOTTEDI, which matches the theme but not the clue.

Not fun when you write in the only possible answer in the center of the puzzle, then find that it works perfectly until it doesn't.

Bill 12:05 PM  

Why does selecting Google account leave me as Unknown?

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Wished it was DOUBLEU. Would be a very interesting puzzle if no one's done that before. Give this puzzle a big UUHATEVER, though.

Z 12:39 PM  

@Steve J - I think you're making a straw man argument. The closest anyone before you came to saying that DOTTED I is "in the language" was @lms saying, "it is in my language and @DrXword observing that lots of companies use it (which actually is evidence that it is "in the language," but wasn't his point). My own observation is that it is "a thing." Lots of things that aren't "in the language" make the puzzle. ELAND, ALAND, and ÖLAND have all been in puzzles but I have never seen them anywhere else. While I have never, in my memory, used DOTTED I in a sentence, I had no problem recognizing it as legit, nor did it feel at all stilted or odd to me. So, I agree with @anon11:12 and that's fine by me.

Unknown 12:43 PM  

I think we should confer with @anjali gupta re: the spelling of NAaN.

Enjoying this one even more now that the dots have been pointed out. I got the 6 i's, but that's about it. Thought of fungi before ODORS for what's picked up in the locker room. Pretty easy for a Thursday.

OISK 12:54 PM  

@Bob, - always surprised that anyone else knows that song, Ivan Skavinsky Skavar pops into my head. But I thought it was Abdullah Bulbul Amir. Also, I remember the line as "The bravest of all is a man I am told (to rhyme with "bold") called…" I am sure there are multiple versions of that song!

These days, any puzzle I can finish is a good puzzle, so this one qualifies. (Missed a square on Tuesday) Agree with others who didn't get "Van", or especially "Daps." Fist bumps are daps??? Was sure I would have another DNF, but not this time.

Cute puzzle, generally fair but not-too-easy cluing. Pretty much what I enjoy on a Thursday. Thanks, Elizabeth.

r.alphbunker 12:58 PM  

What else could DOTTED I mean other than what was intended by the constructor? Did anyone think that it meant that the I was a discontinuous vertical array of dots?

I think the "in the language" requirement can be relaxed in cases like this.

I think my CAPTCHA is cingshr because the second letter is clearly dotted. The blob at the top of the vertical part of the H is probably not a dot because it is attached. Here goes.

mac 1:39 PM  

Clever puzzle, and after hearing about the complete dot even more so!

I find the anecdote clue fine and the word beautiful. Also like dotage. Thought the clue to dote on was

In my kitchen the knives are the dicers, but I can think of a couple of space-taking gadget that can do dicing for you.

JFC 1:52 PM  

@Steve J, I love your defense of the indefensible. You must be a lawyer. Here's a suggestion for you. Go over to Wordplay and defend the new format the NYT rolled out there for comments. So far everyone there dislikes it with varying degrees of intensity.

Bird 1:53 PM  

Ok puzzle with tough/obscure clues made this challenging for me. Hand up for not liking revealer. Always appreciate the work constructionIf I were constructing (and I’m not, yet) I would have tried to not have an O unless it was above an I (COWERS, PEOPLE, etc.).

Took a long time to get the SW corner.
Didn’t know DOTAGE = senility (oh, it’s an archaic definition). Never heard DAP used to describe fistbump (DAP makes silicone sealant among other products for kitchen/bathroom projects) and never heard VAN used in place of LEAD. Never. I have heard VANGUARD, but couldn’t get VAN.

UNBELT = ouch (not as bad as DERAT though)

jazzmanchgo 2:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
sanfranman59 3:45 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Thu 14:59, 19:03, 0.79, 14%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:29, 10:36, 0.90, 26%, Easy-Medium

Lewis 3:53 PM  

tita -- terrific story

I greatly liked this puzzle, and especially the cluing. I started out with more white space than usual because of the "vague" cluing, in Rex's words. The vague cluing makes you have to think more, but when you get it right, there is great satisfaction. There's a place where it can be too vague, though, so it's a fine line. For instance, the clue for GENERATE -- produce -- is tough, because produce can refer of course to vegetables. So you need some crosses and you need to think of the possible answers. But it's not so vague that the solver feels defeated from the start. This "vague cluing" is probably anathema to a speed solver, who has a host of automatic answers in his/her brain, but to someone like me, solving a puzzle with clues like this is more of an accomplishment than one in which I've automatically barked out a lot of answers.

Steve J 4:07 PM  

@Z: Fair enough (although, Mohair Sam had also mentioned it). And, as I stated, I do come down to the angle you implied: We could all figure out what it meant. But I do agree with the Jeff Chen point I noted: it could have had a stronger reveal. I don't agree with Rex that it was as bad a thing as he stated, but I do get where he was coming from.

Plus, I was, for whatever reason, in a bitchy mood this morning. Which makes matching bitchy with bitchy (especially in response to bitchy) seem like a good thing.

@JFC: Nope, not a lawyer. Although, you're definitely not the first person who's asked that over the years. I should probably be disturbed by that.

Haven't looked at the new comments format at NYT. I comment there maybe once a year, if that much. Don't look at Wordplay that much anymore, actually. I've found I like XWordinfo better for information about the puzzle and the constructor.

Z 4:26 PM  

@Steve J - Been there, done that, although I didn't take your comment as bitchy so much as maybe misunderstanding my comment and others' (something else I've done in the past). I counted @Mohair Sam's "part of the language" as "thing" as opposed to "in the...." How's that for trying to split DOTTED I's?

@Bird - UNBELT DERAT - Two word synopsis of On the Waterfront?

@Bill/Unknown - No clue. Was it you who asked this awhile ago? I can recall someone asking this question but never saw if it was a resolved issue.

wreck 4:35 PM  

I was prepared to bitch that it was Hunt's KETCHUP instead of CATSUP -- but just read that Hunt's is CATSUP east of the Mississippi and KETCHUP west of the Mississippi. I always thought Del Monte was the only "CATSUP" -- (alas it is now KETCHUP as well!)

David IN CA 5:02 PM  

Apologies if this is a repeat - but isn't it a big double no-no ot have 31D ADDUP with "UP" in clues for both 32D and 30A?

As to "is dotted i" in the language - who cares? (Well, obviously lots of people here) It was a great revealer that perfectly summed up the theme, which then helped me finish the puzzle. (Well, except for the &$*# BOR_OI _AHN cross.) Gave a great "AHA" moment too, as it was hidden way too long by having antes instead of laces and pack instead of floe.

Nice puzzle, with some crunch.

Now...I can NOT tell if this stupid captcha has 2 dotted i's in it or not...

LaneB 5:24 PM  

The SW corner did me in as I apparently went brain dead after grinding through the rest of the damned thing. DAPS is not within my ken; "lead" as a clue for VAN [as in VANguard, maybe]; "Behold! being pretty strong for VOILA [a tough clue for sure]; and SANYOS not being a very popular maker of TVs. But I should have been able to fill in PLATTE and DOTAGE after getting EWES, GOTO and AIMLOW. Embarrassing to DNF a non-rebus Thursday.

Bird 5:31 PM  

@Z - lol

Evan 5:34 PM  

@David IN CA:

Not in my opinion. I think it's okay to repeat very common words between different answers and clues, and UP is common enough that I don't think it matters. Having said that, I wouldn't like it if the word "up" appeared in the clue for an answer that contained UP.

(Just for the record, Will Shortz once told me via e-mail in late 2011 that he doesn't mind repeats of very common words between two different answers, but he prefers that they don't cross one another.)

Tita 5:46 PM  

@NCA Pres, @lms, @Z - thank you for the additions to the checklIST.
I love getting stuff like that pointed out.

@Getrag - love the sign off idea. Ganz toll.

dk 5:54 PM  

*** (3 Stars) fine puzzle.

Two gripes

Whom for GODOT clue, although one could argue GODOT is a concept, thus.....

VAN for lead. Very obscure for an elitist who watches no TV

And, of course It took reading Rex and 5 minutes of staring at the puzzle to get the trick. DOTTEDi is not a theme just a fine stunt.

Sandy 6:02 PM  

Am I the only one who doesn't see how "van" equals "lead?" In what language????

Google 6:23 PM  

English, maybe?

I'll let you take the lead.

noun: van

1. the foremost part of a company of people moving or preparing to move forward, esp. the foremost division of an advancing military force.
"in the van were the foremost chiefs and some of the warriors astride horses"

the forefront.
"he was in the van of the movement to encourage the cultivation of wildflowers"

early 17th cent.: abbreviation of vanguard.

Not Plumbum 6:34 PM  


1. first place, winning position, primary position, vanguard, van

Questinia 7:15 PM  

I will not say what I thought the dotted i's meant. Never. Ever.
You never read this.
Thank-you in advance for being so tactful.

JFC 7:34 PM  

@Steve, I'm a lawyer, so take that as a compliment. I can't speak for the others, however. I think lawyers rank slightly behind the mafia on the scale of respect....


Clark 10:10 PM  

On the question whether something is a thing or not, I am always reminded of the recurring David Letterman segment Is this Anything? It's pretty much the same exercise. Is this something? Or is it nothing?

Debby Weinstein 9:32 AM  

I am not a genius silver, but this puzzle was so easy for me, I kept checking to see if it really was a Thursday. No problem anywhere except for that "van" thing, which I never heard of before. I'm female, age 69. Could the discrepancies in level of difficulty that people experienced be an gender-generation thing?

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

For example, a simple one 13D Indian bread. You should be able to get nans from the cross but it is not correct. Naan is the correct current usage unless you get involved with umlauts. 51D maybe I am in left field but daps is an old fishing term on how you throw out your line. 38D passed on, in a way and of course when you put 'in a way' you can correlate to almost anything, but 'repeated' that is a reach, in a way. 29D 'turn' (a verb) in no way relates to 'spoil' (verb). Of course it sounds like it should but use each in the same sentence. It does not work. The closest 'turn' comes to spoil is when your milk 'turns' but it still does mean 'spoil'. Tell someone your [meat, vegetables, fruit] 'turned' or your crossword puzzle was turned because of the incoherent mapping of the clues.

And finally, 28D the Tao, you don't meditate on the Tao you become one with it. By eschewing your attachments and ego you become tranquil and thus become part of the Tao and this puzzle has surely 'turned' my tranquility such that there will be no 'daps' at the dojo tonight and as such I will not pass this on, in a way, and will probably have to repeat it in a future life.


Anonymous 12:05 PM  

For example, a simple one 13D Indian bread. You should be able to get nans from the cross but it is not correct. Naan is the correct current usage unless you get involved with umlauts. 51D maybe I am in left field but daps is an old fishing term on how you throw out your line. 38D passed on, in a way and of course when you put 'in a way' you can correlate to almost anything, but 'repeated' that is a reach, in a way. 29D 'turn' (a verb) in no way relates to 'spoil' (verb). Of course it sounds like it should but use each in the same sentence. It does not work. The closest 'turn' comes to spoil is when your milk 'turns' but it still does mean 'spoil'. Tell someone your [meat, vegetables, fruit] 'turned' or your crossword puzzle was turned because of the incoherent mapping of the clues.

And finally, 28D the Tao, you don't meditate on the Tao you become one with it. By eschewing your attachments and ego you become tranquil and thus become part of the Tao and this puzzle has surely 'turned' my tranquility such that there will be no 'daps' at the dojo tonight and as such I will not pass this on, in a way, and will probably have to repeat it in a future life.


Anonymous 12:18 PM  

I am sorry but it truncated my comments. So I will restate what I said.

I stated that while many people found this an easy puzzle I thought it was one of the worst puzzles I have ever encountered. I like a puzzle to say what it means and mean what it says. There is no correlation between some of the clues and the answers and there appears a purposeful obfuscation of the thread tying the clues and answers together.

For example, a simple one 13D Indian bread. You should be able to get nans from the cross but it is not correct. Naan is the correct current usage unless you get involved with umlauts. 51D maybe I am in left field but daps is an old fishing term on how you throw out your line. 38D passed on, in a way and of course when you put 'in a way' you can correlate to almost anything, but 'repeated' that is a reach, in a way. 29D 'turn' (a verb) in no way relates to 'spoil' (verb). Of course it sounds like it should but use each in the same sentence. It does not work. The closest 'turn' comes to spoil is when your milk 'turns' but it still does not mean 'spoil'. Tell someone your [meat, vegetables, fruit] 'turned' or your crossword puzzle was turned because of the incoherent mapping of the clues.

And finally, 28D the Tao, you don't meditate on the Tao you become one with it. By eschewing your attachments and ego you become tranquil and thus become part of the Tao and this puzzle has surely 'turned' my tranquility such that there will be no 'daps' at the dojo tonight and as such I will not pass this on, in a way, and will probably have to repeat it in a future life.


BobF 3:29 PM  

I used to bowl about 40 games per week. I no longer do but I am still an enthusiast. This encompasses almost 50 years. Never heard the term "Dime Store" for the 5 - 10 split.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

I realize I'm very late to the game here but I only got to solving the Wed Jan 16th puzzle today. There is a character called a "dotless i." It is found in the unicode character set at position 0x0131 (full name is "latin small letter dotless i"). The primary use is in the Turkish alphabet. The Irish apparently also use it from time to time, but in their case they mean the "standard" 'i' but only omit the dot to avoid confusion with other marks.

The dot over the i and j, by the way, has a name and is called the 'tittle' (like the tilde ~ and the umlaut/diaeresis ¨) and can be considered a modifying mark. Don't confuse the tittle with the 'dot' diacritic, which is something else entirely.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Firstly, I found the puzzle easy for a Thursday. Secondly, it was absolutely delightful to find so many commenters who disagreed with Mr. Sharp (a/k/a Rex). The naysayers and nitpickers abound on this blog. I've been doing cw puzzles for over 50 yrs. and found this one to be clever, completely doable and correct in every way. So put that in your collective pipes and inhale. And thank you Liza Long.

Ron Diego 8:40 AM PST 2/20/14

Torb 12:20 PM  

fun puz. like rex, didnt get theme till very late. all clues were correct and puz was solvable.

spacecraft 12:29 PM  

I am with @Jeremy Mercer re the GODOT clue; though we never see actual proof of it, we assume that M. Godot is indeed a person. The "what" of the clue was the stickiest point of the whole solve, for me, since that is the narrow alley for access to the NE, so I agree with @Alias Z as well.

Also with @Carola and @Arf Mutt Canoeist about the "D-T"s. Never saw that till I got here. I did think, so big deal. O's over I's. Is that all there is? I see now, that would be a no. My admiration increases threefold.

The lovely JAYNE was also a mainstay on various game show panels of the day, including the one on "To Tell the Truth" that led off the Frank Abignale, Jr. story "Catch Me If You Can."

UNBELT bothers me more than DOTTEDI. In countless OATERs, when getting the drop on the [gang/posse], the [good/bad] guy will say "Unbuckle your gun belts." Not a single one has EVER said "UNBELT." The flag flutters in our springlike breeze (eat your hearts out, Northeasterners!), but stays put.

And now will someone please tell me: what in BLAZES does "Lead" have to do with VAN? Oh wait, VAN Morrison was the "lead" singer on "Them." (Millionaire question)

Today I am a CANOEIST: deuces full.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

P.S. Today's Los Angeles Times has a very clever puzzle by Paul Hunsberger. It's "Fill in the blank" and I, for one, have never seen it done before.

Ron Diego 2/20/14

Syndicate Bob 1:33 PM  

Urba n dictionary. from google search

The knocking of fists together as a greeting, or form of respect.
He gave me a dap when we greeted.
by Phil March 10, 2004

Dirigonzo 2:13 PM  

I liked it and I think DOTTED I is a fine theme (which I didn't fully appreciate until arriving here. I seem to remember from learning to write in cursive that an undotted i is a sign of sloppiness and an uncrossed t, well I guess that's just an l, n'est pas?

@spacey - of course gunfighters didn't UNBELT, because they kept their pants on!

Two pair does not a winning hand make.

Solving in Seattle 3:17 PM  

Congrats to all our Canadian amigos (@Waxy, @Rainy, @Red, @Joe, @et.al.) on taking the women's hockey gold. What a comeback!

Like Rex, i didn't solve the revealer until last, then saw the "dot"s over the "i"s. Pretty clever when you realize they are the only "i"s in the puz. DAPS to you, Elizabeth.

When i get ready for bed at night am i an UNBELTist?

Nit: shouldn't the clue for 22A contained "abrev?"

No numbers in my capcha today, so I am not a pokerist.

Dirigonzo 3:32 PM  

@SiS - re 22a, "e.g." is, I believe, the signal that an abbr. is needed, doncha think?

Solving in Seattle 3:42 PM  

@Diri, yeah, i spose - reluctantly.

Waxy in Montreal 3:49 PM  

Thanks @SiS. It was a golden day all around for our Canadian ladies as the women curlers from Winnipeg also won gold today. Still, the American lady hockey players gave it their all today and it's just too bad both teams couldn't receive gold medals.

Have no problem with today's puzzle (other than with VAN) but once the theme was eventually sussed out of 36A, I thought in the words of the old Peggy Lee standard "Is that all there is?".

Three 9's, two 8's. Might be more gold in store...

DMG 5:18 PM  

DOTTEDIS was hard for me to decipher-I solve in capitals, so no dots anywhere, unless, of course, you count the DOTs the clue referred to that I never saw! So finished this one, and didn't get the point until coming here? Again!

For me, an "old time actress" would be someone more along the lines of Sarah Bernhardt. Someone who was gone before I came. I've enjoyed many JAYNE Meadows performances. Surprised no one mentioned her appearances on an early 1980’s PBS children's show. Wish I could remember the name. Maybe my inability to recall it is due to my DOTAGE?

And thanks to those who reminded me of my Dad singing of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

Four 9's!

Page the page 6:56 PM  

@DMG, That would be Mathnet (thanks, IMDB) in which she played Lady Esther Astor Astute.

@Anonymous 12:04 12:05 & 12:18 PM, I tried to define "daps" on google and inadvertantly typed "dabs," which turned up the fishing reference. Also, if you REPEAT a rumor, you are PASSING it ON, so that makes sense to me, but it didn't make it an obvious answer! (If you don't think that milk that has turned is spoiled, do you drink it? lol) I tried to make SPOoLS work for a while for "turns."

Back to DAPS: I'd never heard of it, and my google search defined it as a greeting consisting of a complicated series of hand gestures. I watched an entertaining youtube video which showed many examples; and while several of them contained touching fists vertically (the top of one fist with the bottom of the other), when I hear the term "fist bump" I think of the congratulatory bashing together of the knuckles.

Hand up for never having heard of VAN; vanguard, yes, VAN, no.

When I got the revealer, I just thougt it meant there were only 6 i's in the puzzle, and since they were in the middle of the words, naturally they would be lower case. Never even got as far as noticing the o's above them, not to mention the entire "dot!" Way too subtle for me!

I avoided "ricers" instead of "dicers" by leaving the first letter blank until LADD revealed it(her)self!

I started out thinking this would be super easy, but after zipping through the NW, I got stumped in the SW after only getting BELLA and BATMAN. After that, I had no trouble with the SE, and couldn't get anything in the NE. So this one ended up taking me quite a while.

In a funny coincidence, the "Bizaaro" cartoon that appeared in the same day's paper was captioned "Another day at the Beckett International Airport" and showed a chauffeur in the arrivals area holding a sign with the name "GODOT" on it. That definatedly helped me think of the answer to 34A!


Page the page 6:58 PM  

Definatedly? Damn!! Proofreading is DEFINATELY becoming a lost art!

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

As others experienced, I saw the O's as dots and completely missed the DOTs. It was only upon seeing the answer in Friday's paper and noticing the italicized D where I had guessed a T (tAPS)that I saw the bigger picture. Had I noticed that while filling in the grid I obviously wouldn't have had to guess at that last letter.

I have no problem with ANECDOTE as a speaker's aid. Also no problem with DOTTED I...because it beat the pants off LITTLE I or BABY ELL, both of which I considered first.

Aisha paal Call Girl in Pune 9:56 AM  

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