Totally stoked / THU 1-30-14 / Like a rat's eyes / Sch. near Albany, N.Y.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Constructor: Dan Schoenholz

Relative difficulty: Medium-difficult

THEME: "The Riddler" -- an old riddle gets a Schroedinger twist

Word of the Day: ANKARA  — [Site of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations]
Turkey's 'other' city may not have any showy Ottoman palaces or regal facades but Ankara thrums to a vivacious, youthful beat unmarred by the tug of history. Drawing comparisons with İstanbul is pointless – the flat, modest surroundings are hardly the stuff of national poetry – but the civic success of this dynamic and intellectual city is assured thanks to student panache and foreign-embassy intrigue. The country's capital has made remarkable progress from a dusty Anatolian backwater to today's sophisticated arena for international affairs.

[Lonely Planet Guide to Turkey]

Kocatepe Mosque, Ankara

• • •

Theme answers:

17-Across [With 27-Across, an old riddle] = WHAT'S BLACK WHITE
27-Across [See 17-Across] = AND RE(A)D ALL OVER
49-Across [Answer to one spelling of the riddle] = THIS NEWSPAPER
63-Across [Answer to another spelling of the riddle] = A SUNBURNED PANDA

Just one curiously circled square in the grid, intriguing. Turns out you can put either E or EA in that circle to get "red" or "read," which answer different versions of that old riddle: "read" for "this newspaper" and "red" for "a sunburned panda." The versions of the second one I heard as a kid had a skunk, panda, penguin or zebra in a blender, which shows you what awful people I had as childhood friends. Note that either the E or EA works on the down entry too, with either SET or SEAT working for [Box ___].

So that's an OK theme, not thrilling but if you hadn't heard the "sunburned panda" one I guess it's good for a laugh. Minor dings for rephrasing the original joke and punchline to fit the grid -- it's really "What's black and white and red all over" and "a newspaper," not "What's black, white and red all over" and "this newspaper."  But the idea of a one-letter Schroedinger puzzle (those puzzles where certain squares work with either of two letters in them) is novel to my knowledge, as is the idea of a Schroedinger square where you can use either one or two letters. So points for that.

I also liked the cluing style of this one. I enjoy solving (and writing) clues that reveal just enough history/geography/politics to make getting the answer a challenge, like [U.S. city known to some locals as Siqnazuaq] for NOME -- looks like an Inuit placename, but you've got to puzzle that out -- or [Capital in 2004-05's Orange Revolution] for KIEV, or [Site of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations] for ANKARA. Clues like that are like solving a mini-Sporcle quiz.

The fill is fine. Four long theme entries are pretty constraining, plus the Schroedinger square, so it'd probably be tough to knock the fill out of the park. I liked EPHEMERA, JOHANNES, METEOR, IMHO and NO LOSS. On the downside, I've never head a baseball field/stadium called a BALLYARD as it is at 6-Down [Home is one corner in it].

My favorite puzzle of the week so far.


Check out yesterday's comments section for a contest (with prizes)! There are lots of entries there already, but we'll give one more day in case anyone missed it. Leave your entries in comments there (not under today's comments, under yesterday's) and I'll announce the winners tomorrow.

Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent for four more days of CrossWorld


Carola 12:10 AM  

The riddle part was easy - though the second answer I knew was "an embarrassed zebra" (in a blender, @Matt - yikes!) but the rest put up a nice challenge for me. Didn't know BALLYARD and misinterpreted "I won't miss it" to mean "I'll be there for sure," so NO LOSS was hard to see. Liked EPHEMERA, DOWAGER, METEOR, JOHANNES, ANKARA. Nice central cross of DUD and LOUSE. Echo: PAW-PAWN, anagram: NOME-NEMO

jae 12:13 AM  

Easy-medium Thurs. for me.  Had ifsO before ERGO and put in zebrA before I read any clues in SE cause that's the version I heard back in Junior High.  

Liked it partly because I a had a nice lunch in PISMO Beach (funky little place) and partly because it was cute and amusing with a touch of zip.  Liked the Vs anchoring the 54a row.   Also liked the subtle circle, had to go back and put the A in it after reading the last theme clue.

Re: Yesterday's back and forth.   It seems to me there is a continuum of fill quality assessment.  There is a bunch of stuff almost everyone agrees is not good...RRNs, EELS, URGER... and some stuff some solvers like (@OISK) and others not so much, for example I was fine with DEBI yesterday but I watch a lot of movies/TV. Today, even though  ANIL is vintage crosswordese  I'm fine with it as long as it doesn't show up too often (haven't seen AVISO/Dispatch Boat in a while).  At the far end is the stuff we all like.    So, to me it seems like there is a gray area in the middle where disagreements may reside/tastes may differ.  And, of course. zippiness is also a gray area.

Ellen S 12:13 AM  

what the hey? Am I in the wrong place?
First here again for the second time in ... my life.

Okay, yes, better fill. If this is better, there must be such a thing as worse. I hope we can't complain too vociferously about BALLYARD, because I'd be willing to bet a pretty that it is a unique answer. (Also my least favorite. But never mind, I wanted "Uncle Wiggly.")

I liked the clueing. Didn't just depend on trivia knowledge, or plug-in-the-ENOL, but made me think. And here I am, and with no cheating, what's more!

Ellen S 12:14 AM  

Well I was the only one here when I started, anyway.

Anonymous 12:17 AM  

The only answer I had ever heard for the second spelling was, "A wounded nun."

In a ballyard. Yeah.

wreck 12:19 AM  

I knew BALLYARD would cause a stir, but I actually see it occasionally. Not in a serious recap of an actual game, but more so in a light background article -- "I went out to the ballyard yesterday and talked with a few players about the upcoming series...."

Anonymous 12:20 AM  

Ballyard is common. Do a Google, particularly for the expression "ol(d) ballyard."

r.alphbunker 12:21 AM  


I think I have your whole piedmontese system implemented. My score was piedmont(113)-ese(48) = 65. We need to use it everyday to understand how to improve the interface. Right now it feels like grading an exam.

So that I don't have to keep posting the link here could you put it on your web page?

When I had BALL____ I actually said out loud, "please don't be BALLYARD" but it was. The reason I reacted was not because it spoiled the aesthetics of the puzzle but rather I feared it would stir up trouble here. Maybe I need to get my discussion jones satisfied by using the piedmont system with you.

The non-newspaper version of this riddle that I know involves a nun.

I did not know Vermeer's first name. I don't think that @Questinia mentioned it in her post about him the other day.

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

ballyard is never used.

It's a bogus entry and the puzzle
should have been sent back.

SallyAnn looks like it might be
an alternative entry.

Anonymous 12:25 AM  


chefwen 12:35 AM  

Every time I see the clue 48A I have an overwhelming urge to put down BOB. Every. Single. Time. I really need to get over that.

Another easy one for the week. IMHO!

Keldy23 12:36 AM  

For the last 12 years, my dad and I have taken a summer trip to a major league park. At least once during each trip, he mentions the "ballyard" (as in "What a nice ballyard!" or "When are we heading to the ballyard?"). So I'm on Team Ballyard. Of course, my dad also has a propensity for calling the Cincinnati Reds "the Redlegs", and once asked if you can call a regular phone (i.e., a landline), so perhaps he's not the utmost authority on current, or relevant, terminology.

Keldy23 12:38 AM  

For the last 12 years, my dad and I have taken a summer trip to a major league park. At least once during each trip, he mentions the "ballyard" (as in "What a nice ballyard!" or "When are we heading to the ballyard?"). So I'm on Team Ballyard. Of course, my dad also has a propensity for calling the Cincinnati Reds "the Redlegs", and once asked if you can call a regular phone (i.e., a landline) from a regular phone, so perhaps he's not the utmost authority on current, or relevant, terminology.

Garth 12:39 AM  

Thumbs up for this and every other of the approximately 9,000 NYT puzzles I've done* over my lifetime. Why? Because the act of working on crosswords makes for an enjoyable pastime. It's interesting (up to a point) to read others' wrangling over the objective** merits of crosswords and then deciding if a puzzle is worthy of a thumbs up or thumbs down.*** But when it gets down to it, they're almost all good enough to give me great pleasure.

*not necessarily finished

**It's funny how philosophers have been arguing for centuries about whether or not we humans are undergoing a subjective or objective experience and that discussion is now playing out in a blog that deals quite a bit with crossword fill. (Of course the answer is both).

***I still miss Roger Ebert's columns

Steve J 1:01 AM  

@Matt: You and I are of essentially the same age (I think you said yesterday you're 41; I'm 43), and I also grew up with various black-and-white things in a blender. Perhaps that was a generational thing.

@Anon 12.20: Common? No, at least not compared to "ballpark". But it is a thing.

@Anon 12.22: See above. BALLYARD is also the antecedent to the expression "went yard" in reference to someone's hitting a homerun.

@Garth: It gets lost sometimes in the various debates, but I always hope that it is self-evident that for all of us who make the effort to read about and comment on crossword puzzles pretty much every day, we have a baseline enjoyment of them, even when we say we "don't like" them. It's all relative. Over the past year, I can think of maybe two puzzles I honestly didn't enjoy anything about. Even then, I still enjoyed the challenge of finishing them.

Like Ebert, even when he was panning movies (his zero-star reviews are the best things he ever wrote), you knew he still enjoyed being able to watch movies.

@This puzzle: Neat idea putting alternate answers in place. Some nice fill, particularly most of the long downs: EPHEMERA, DOWAGER, JOHANNES (my grandfather's name, which added a nice little something for me personally). Some good cluing throughout. Relatively free of groaner fill.

I had many spellings for 13D before this was done. Started with OKEY. Decided that can't be right, as phonetically that's essentially OK. So went with OKEE. Nope. OKIE. Nope. Not the Dust Bowl. Back to OKEY. That and BALLpark for BALLYARD (a misstep which I'm guessing at least 80% of people doing this puzzle had) were my only significant stumbles.

Garth 1:13 AM  

@SteveJ: I agree that it sometimes gets lost in the various debates. That's why I think it's important to say it sometimes.

Andrea Dal Lover 1:13 AM  

Well, BALLyARd is esp hard since BALLpARk is more common and that AR makes yARd hARd to see, esp if you're a girl!

But kUD is not a thing, so that's that.

I also kept trying to fit in embarrassEDPANDA, esp bec my go to as a teen was "A nun falling down the stairs" but that might have been what's black and white black and white black and white (and red all over)

Missed the tricky square, just had the lonely E in there, even tho I thought to myself that it's technically reAd...but that still didn't tip me off.
Wish I had seen it, bec now it looks like ANDREA DAL LOVER
which is bizarre bec that's what I serve at Curry Without WOrry as rice lady every Tuesday and have some leftover DAL in my fridge as I write this!!!!!!!

Gotta agree with @Matt, slight fudge to put in THIS as opposed to A NEWSPAPER.
Then again, it was in THIS newspaper if you were doing the hardcopy, so I liked that weird meta-shoutout...
not as much as ANDREA DAL LOVER
but close!

Me also thinks "modern methinks" for IMHO was very funny!

Matt Gaffney 1:19 AM  

Roger Ebert wrote a compilation of his brutal reviews call "Your Movie Sucks." A crossword version would be awesome.

Keenan Mahoney 1:38 AM  

BALLYARD is not a thing. No.

I enjoyed it otherwise but that crossing was blank for some time.

Anoa Bob 2:18 AM  

How could a panda possibly get sunburned? That's just stupid, methinks (IMHO).

Is it "O SAY" (4) or "OH SAY" (5)?

(Manipulate your letter count as needed.)

Really liked EPHEMERA. Has kind of a trippy, existential feel to it.

okanaganer 2:52 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elaine2 2:53 AM  

Liked the puzzle, hated BALLYARD.

(I also tried to enter "embarrassed zebra," but was ok with "sunburned panda", even though it's weird.)

I missed the rebus in the circle -- but it is the coolest part of the puzzle.

acme 3:44 AM  

Oh, and @Matt, loved the panda video, and the one after that and the next one and that koala one... thanks for taking up the rest of my night!

mac 4:50 AM  

I found this puzzle easier and quicker than most Thursdays. Fun though, and nice long words. Ephemera! And Johannes, of course. My father's first name, second was Gerardus. He was called Hans.
Vermeer was Jan.

Another rainy day in London…..

Eddie Wilson 4:52 AM  

I was about to chime in in total agreement with everything said, and then I was trawling through the back catalogue and found the Inauguration Day 'MARCH FORTH'/'MARCH FOURTH' puzzle, which also had a single Schrodinger square.
Aside from that, absolutely right. I don't *hate* BALLYARD, but it's a weird one for me. To be fair, I'm not in a place where baseball is really a thing, so I got the whole thing through crosses.

Anonymous 5:23 AM  

I'm old enough to remember walking to the ballyard with my bat and glove over my shoulder.
Guessed ZEBRA for PANDA. And my first thought for the black and white and red was a nun falling downstairs...

GILL I. 5:37 AM  

When I finished I asked myself if I was supposed to laugh....I'm not much of a riddle person - well, actually, I don't know any riddles because I don't get them and besides it's JAN Vermeer because nobody calls him JOHANNES.
I too ask myself is it OHSAY or OSAY and is it OKEE or OKEY or TEENY WEENY ITTY BITTY and also Violet Crawley is a COUNTESS for heaven sake.
I say add riddles to the "Do not construct in the future" list.

A Nonni Nonny 6:13 AM  

I tried solving this with one eye on the TV when I was tired out and up past my bedtime. Not the wisest thing to do. I did not 'see' the rebus, being content with just the E.

I wanted PARK but YARD was fine by me. 'Take me out to the BALL GAME' was my more automatic response. BALL FIELD is pretty common. After more than 20 years in Ohio, which is all about baseball, one has a large vocabulary of ball-related phrases, expressions, and terms.

Not worth fighting about.

A Nonni Nonny 6:15 AM  

@Anoa Bob


Either way, there is a comma after O/OH.

optionsgeek 6:49 AM  

Here's the boldest statement you will hear all day: the Schroedinger equation is wrong. A 90-year lie.

jberg 7:10 AM  

I forgot about the circled square, so I never figured it out - but the riddle was easy to get, even with all the possible variants -- losing the zebra was the hardest part for me - so that made the whole thing easy. Some stretched clues (not only BALL YARD but metro AREA; not enough of a phrase to clue as a partial. But like Garth said - it was fun.

Loren Muse Smith 7:49 AM  

@chefwen – me, too, for wanting "bob" for ADO. By the way, Bob – I will be there on Friday if you want to do lunch!

@Matt - Thanks again for filling in. The panda video was terrific!! Somehow I hate to think of one of those creatures suffering from any kind of misfortune or SUNBURN. Also - whoa – I would have completely missed that the A/EA works going down, too.

baby panda

@Garth – agreed. As I sat and scowled at this fairly tough Thursday for me, as I erased "okie" (Morning, @ Steve J) to get OKEY/EENSY, as I fell to a Natick at the ADIA/SSI cross (yeah, I really did), as I checked for the third time to reconfirm that 1A really *was* PISMO (??) (morning, @jae), I actually did a mental check to make sure that, yes, regardless of what I like or don't like, I. Love. Working. This. Puzzle. Every. Morning. I have to agree that the other fare out there is top-notch. No question. But the NY Times is the one that brings us together here. Dispatching Tausig's "Clogged Hearts" last night was great. But aside from Fiend, there's not really anyone to talk about it with (never heard of STAG HEELS). And even on Fiend, most of the time, the discussion is mainly about the NYX. So at least for me, this solver whose day is not complete now without solving the NYX and then following this blog and all its illuminations and disagreements, this solver who really cannot look at yesterday's NE corner and immediately think, "I could do better than *that*, they're all "good enough to give me great pleasure."

"Hyped" before AMPED and, of course, "Adam" before EASU.

I got NOME off only the O.

Whooda known that two ocean guys both claimed to be "not what you'd call a civilized man."

Loved the clue for OWLS. For the longest time, my husband and I thought we were hearing OWLS hoot gently in the morning until a local guy set us straight – we were hearing the morning doves coo (while the, hello, nocturnal OWLS snoozed). Sheesh. Oh - @M&A – we're still kicking it around. Word ladder from CITY to FARM? And STRETCH LIMO and FOUR WHEELER are both 11's.

Dan – I've come to look forward to the solve when I see your name/picture at xwordinfo. Today's was fun!

John V 8:03 AM  

Well, I stared and stared and did not see the circle, so that cross produced an error. Also had PYRO for 33A, thining PYROMANIAC.

Don't know Sarah McLachlan, so ADIA/SSI cross went blank. Is SSI a thing? Hmmm.

All said, a good one, Dan.

Dorothy Biggs 8:04 AM  

Yesterday's ADO over subjective v. objective qualities regarding what is essentially an artform (IMHO) reminds me of the constant yammering within the music community about good music and bad music. This also happens when you hear experts talking about wine around people who love wine.

After all these years, beauty still lies in the eye of the beholder. For connoisseurs, it can be frustrating.

The hope is that the trend would continue on the upward path based on the criteria for excellence...but that "upward" trend is very often not linear.

Mohair Sam 8:20 AM  

I'm betting Phillies' fans had no problem with BALLYARD, I sure didn't. The late, great Harry Kalas used the term frequently as in "The Cubbies are here in the old BALLYARD today." He always modified the term with "old" even in the first season at Citizen's Bank Park. (pitchers and catchers in 13 days, btw).

Puzzle played a medium Thursday here and we really enjoyed it. @Matt's point about learning something with your answer is well-taken (ANKARA, KIEV, VERNE, NOME). Really adds to the fun.

Nice to not read complaints about junk fill for a change.

Airymom 8:25 AM  

It is definitely "O", not "Oh". Visit the Maryland Historical Society (went with each of my kids on a school trip) and you will see the actual piece of paper on which Francis Scott Key wrote his poem, "Defence of Fort M'Henry." There's no "h".

The entire story of the poem and how it eventually was set to music and became the National anthem in 1931 is fascinating. Wikipedia gives an interesting account.

MikeM 8:26 AM  

Is PISMO Beach a city?

AliasZ 8:27 AM  

EPHEMERA from the Greek ἐφήμερα meaning "ball yard" -- just kidding -- "for a day," in other words, any transitory written or printed matter not meant to be retained or preserved. Crossword puzzles are EPHEMERA. Although I enjoyed today's puzzle, I wouldn't frame it and hang it on my wall as a Johannes/Jan/Johan Vermeer painting.

The theme riddle in all it's variations (blushing/sunburned/bloody zebra or nun, or a cop car that hit a pedestrian, etc.) was cute, and the dual-use E|EA square ingenious.

What I really liked about it was the clean fill and some of the clever cluing. "Luminary in a late-night show?" and "head-turning night fliers" stood out. I had no idea what SSI was, the only reason I got it right, I remembered the Sarah McLachlan hit being the backwards version of Aida from the last time it appeared in a NYT puzzle, maybe two months ago. Truly ephemeral. NEMO, NOME - missing OMEN.

JOHANNES Ockeghem (1410 or 25-1497) was the most famous and influential Netherlandish composer of the late 15th century. Here is the Credo from his Missa "L'homme armé". Listen to it, it will sooth your savage breast.

Happy Thursday all.

Unknown 8:29 AM  

Fun and on the easy side. I was wondering about that one little circled proud of myself for figuring out that the EA could work both ways.

Anyone who went to Catholic school can tell you that the alternate answer is "a nun in a blender".

joho 8:38 AM  

I have a friend in San Luis Obispo so PISMO was easy for me but could see how that would be a big ? to many.

I promptly wrote in zebrA. That's the only answer I ever heard but the leap to PANDA wasn't too far. @Matt, I also asked, "Where's the AND between BLACK/WHITE?" Then decided poetic license applies here in order to make a cute puzzle. Cute as a PANDA? You decide.

Loved the one rebus square: very elegant!

Thank you, Dan, for bringing back fond memories of an earlier time when jokes like this were new!

Suzy 8:38 AM  

Loved this puzzle! Pismo was ahHA moment after pawn!

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

We used to say "a nun rolling down a hill."

Mohair Sam 8:51 AM  

@Susan McConnell - Thanks for the visual, aaargh, my day is shot.

We used to use "Pravda" or "The Daily Worker" as the alternate answer to the riddle back in the day when you went to them to READ RED.

dk 8:54 AM  

Anon at 8:41 AM beat me to the punch line so I will have to settle with:

Zebras on a safari.

Went to PISMO beach for the 4th of July some years back. The cars on the beach, smoke from fireworks, and camp fires all reminded me of scenes from Apocalypse Now. Funny moment was when then 4 year old son was sprayed by a clam.

🌕🌕🌕 (3 Moons) I have been told that today is smile like Snidely Whiplash day or is it PEEK like Pandora day…. never get those straight.

RnRGhost57 9:19 AM  

Very enjoyable. No sympathy for BALLYARD whiners. Just because you're unfamiliar with a term doesn't invalidate it.

Stan Newman 9:20 AM  

It's amazing how many of you good, more-learned-than-average folks are so absolutely sure that BALLYARD isn't a "good word" just because you haven't heard of it.

That's the kind of thinking more associated with the late Dr. Eugene Maleska of blessed memory, who rejected two puzzles from your humble correspondent because he hadn't heard of CAR SEATS and TAILGATE PARTIES.

Read my lips: CHECK GOOGLE NEWS. Per which, it's not widespread, but it has appeared in the LA Times and the Plain Dealer in just the past week.

Case closed.

chefbea 9:29 AM  

Easy puzzle..once I got the theme.

As for lemons…I would never say "Think I'll add a little acid to the roasted veggies" Sounds awful.

and speaking of lemons

Z 9:37 AM  

PISMO Beach immediately made me think of Bugs Bunny.

BALLYARD needs the antecedent "old," but is definitely okay. Serious baseball fans have as many different names for the place the game is played as normal people have for sexual intercourse. Well, maybe not quite as many, but it is close.

My first thought was, "Vermeer has a first name?" Then the "guess a letter MAJ" answer brought Jan from the deep recesses and my second thought was, "O, SAY, how am I supposed to remember his middle name?" The H in THIS finally cleared that up.

I don't know about NOME, but much of southern Alaska was warmer than Atlanta the past few days. I hope all of you are safe, regardless of where your car ended up. This resident of WAYNE County wants to laugh at the havoc a little snow caused (38"+ this month here) but knowing how dangerous those iced over freeways can be brings me up short. Be safe.

PapaLeroux 9:46 AM  

Ballyard? I wouldn't touch a line like that for a free trip to Pismo Beach.

I really liked the puzzle.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Now we must prepare ourselves for Friday and Saturday.

black eyed susans kitchen 9:51 AM  

Well okay....puzzle came together quickly, easy....and then I had to google the meaning of tyro...learned a new word today.

Milford 9:59 AM  

I completely forgot about the lone circle rebus square, so technically I DNF, but no matter, it was still a good, tricky Thursday.

The joke version most popular for us involved two nuns in a chainsaw fight, so I must have had really sick classmates.

I used to live in WAYNE county, like @Z, but now live in the metro-AREA of Detroit.

I never use the word LOAM, but I must say that I love the way it sounds - it's one of those words that fits what it describes (is there a term for that?).

I didn't mind BALLYARD so much, but it took forever to see because I kept trying to make some type of board game name work. Good clue!

@Carola - I was reading the "I won't miss it" clue exactly as you did, making NO LOSS a tough one to get.

My dad's middle name is OKEY, named after his West Virginian grandfather, Okey Virgil. I don't think I've ever heard of another person with that name.

quilter1 10:00 AM  

Nice and crunchy. I've heard all the answers to the riddle so let the PANDA emerge slowly.

chefbea 10:11 AM  

@Milford is he related to okie from muskogee?

Fred Romagnolo 10:20 AM  

Frisco: grew up with ol' ballyard and in Jr Hi, Gnome, Alaaska lol

jburgs 10:38 AM  

Very enjoyable, clever puzzle.

Had to guess at the I in the SSI/ADIA cross and luckily was right. What does SSI stand for? Social Security Insurance??

My biggest WOE is trying to google what a Schroedinger Twist is. How does a dead cat in a box have anything to do with this puzzle? Was the cat black and white? Would appreciate a 20 word or less definition of the term or a link to an idiot proof definition.

Strange what things stay in our memory. As a kid I heard the riddle, "What's orange and writes?"

I have no idea why this would have stayed in my brain for 50 years.

Answer: "A ballpoint carrot stupid!!"

Matt Gaffney 10:44 AM  


There was a quick definition in the review:

"But the idea of a one-letter Schroedinger puzzle (those puzzles where certain squares work with either of two letters in them)"

Two Ponies 10:48 AM  

Medium for me and I liked it.
I care so little about baseball that the grassy area can be called whatever you want.
Genesis man. Hmmm, lots of 4-letter choices. Adam, Cain, Abel, Esau.
Ever notice in paintings of Adam and Eve that they both have belly buttons? Where did those come from??

Steve J 10:58 AM  

SSI = Supplemental Security Income. It's the part of Social Security that pays disability benefits.

@jburgs: The essence of the story of Schrödinger's cat is that something can be in two states simultaneously. So Schrödinger has come to be adopted to describe puzzles that have entries that can be multiple things and fit within the overall puzzle. The 1996 election-day NYT puzzle is the most famous. One of the indie constructors did one this week, too, that was a lot of fun.

@chefbea: I actually have heard lemons referred to as acid in a cooking context. It's usually stated in discussing a recipe's composition, like "we added a little lemon to provide some acid to balance the sweetness of the caramelized onions". You wouldn't hear it that way in everyday speech, though.

@Z: Thanks for the Bugs Bunny clip. I'd totally forgotten about that one.

For Californians like me, PISMO Beach was a gimmee. It's a very nice beach town in one of the prettiest parts of California. There's a whole string of really nice beach towns near San Luis Obispo.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:04 AM  

With regard to The Debate of the Day, the first thing that came to my mind was Camden Yards. But since no one else has mentioned it, should I regard it as irrelevant?

OISK 11:07 AM  

Today I agree with Matt! Nice puzzle, cute theme entries, and good fill. Like several others, I hit a Natick at ADIA, and of course, never heard of Sarah McLachlan. I guessed correctly; I think the entry for social security on a W 2 says "SSI." (I could be wrong....) I didn't know PISMO either, but it was gettable from the other clues. Liked the clue for "meteor" a lot. Nice puzzle, Dan!!

h_lina_k 11:08 AM  

Having Pyro instead of Tyro for someone on probation really confused things for a long long time.

Noam D. Elkies 11:10 AM  

Matt Gaffney writes:

"But the idea of a one-letter Schrödinger puzzle […] is novel to my knowledge"

Um, not to be a *utz about this, but you've forgotten this. (Though I don't remember a precedent where one of the options is a multi-letter "rebus".)


Steve J 11:13 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: My understanding is that Camden Yards part of the stadium's name (the official name is Oriole Park at Camden Yards, although everyone just calls it Camden Yards) is in reference to an old railyard at that location that was called Camden Yard. So, not directly related to BALLYARD, although I'm guessing in choosing the name some people probably noted a bit of resonance.

David 11:38 AM  

PISMO Beach was a near-gimme only because it was featured in a Bugs Bunny episode as a place he and Daffy Duck were desperately trying to reach, to eat clams. There's no accounting for what stays in long-term memory. I probably first watched the show 40 years ago.

Although BALLYARD was a write-over from BALLPARK, I have no problem with it. I've heard it in live broadcasts on occasion, and Sportscenter highlights many times.

Schrödinger 11:38 AM  

No, the essence of Schrödinger's cat is that the cat cannot be in two states at once. The cat is either alive or dead. The Copenhagen school fails at a macroscopic level.

You'd think that after 100 years people would have figured this out.

Notsofast 11:39 AM  

Glad Rex liked it. He's like Mikey. He doesn't like anything. I didn't like this one either. BALLYARD was critical to the solve. BURY was the last word I would try for "Hide". And BALLYARD is just a made-up word. Too many pop TV references as well. I'll give it a solid "D".

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

@Notsofast - not so fast. "Too many pop TV references"? Two? Two is too many? "BALLYARD is just a made-up word"? As opposed to, well, opposed, another made up word? Or word, a made up word?

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

@notsofast - We know Matt liked it, as he said so in the write-up. I don't know how you know that Rex liked, as he is in an Absinthe induced green haze and is thus otherwise occupied. At least according to Matt, our blogger all week.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:01 PM  

Great puz, Constructor Dan. Was just real relieved that 65-Down weren't = MAW. Or that the front end there wasn't another one of them P/M Schroedingerholtz dealies.

Havin all kinds of trouble findin that there contest SubBlogRegent dude is describin. Have falled on my ass at least five times, lookin for it. Finally gave my backside a break, and assumed it was that Scowlometer Contest. So I am all entered up.

Primo writeup, today. AMAJ success. Glad OKEY and OSAY passed the OASTerizer test.

fave weejectae: ODS. Better clue = "Short odds??"
SSI. No better clue. RPI. No better sch.

fave fillins: DOWAGERS. Downton Abbey clue! I hear they kill off almost everybody this season. In a big blender.


Numinous 12:11 PM  

O (or is it OH) boy, PISMO Beach really had me digging in the back yard of my memory. I thought it might have been Aunt somebody but I knew it couldn't have been Bea. Then I thought it might have been Bob Collins's sister, but she was too young. Aha! I think I may have UNEARTHed it. It was Cosmo's wife, Henrietta Topper (Lee Patrick) who was always wanting to go of to PISMO Beach. And she always Used to call the islands Ha-why-ya. She and Leo G. had those slightly Anglicized American Radio accents of the first half of the last century. I'll bet a good number of you don't even know what I'm on about.

BALLYARD didn't really ring a bell, maybe just the ting ting of a silver quarter dropped on the marble shelf of an old cash register. So I know I've heard it.

I didn't bother with Schrodinger's A and Magmic liked my puzzle just fine so I guess my cat was dEad.

Riddle answers are, as long as they make sense, whatever the riddler cares to WEAVE, so while we all remember different versions, Dan Schoenholz is the Riddler here.

I never get TYRO as a beginner since to me, as Cicero's amanuensis he more or less invented shorthand to take down His Master's Voice.

Overall I thought this puzzle was fairly easy and enjoyable. Interestingly twisted cluing had me trying a lot of alternate solutions. Fortunately the delete key doesn't wear a hole in the page.

Thank you, Dan for an aMusing morning.

Numinous 12:18 PM  

Now I'm going to listen to more Johannes Ockeghem

Milford 12:21 PM  

@chef bea - ha ha, no, not from anywhere in Oklahoma, in fact. He is from the crossword-friendly city of Gary, IN!

Steve J 12:29 PM  

@Schrödinger: I probably should have stated that the popular conception of the cat paradox is that the cat is logically dead and alive. What it actually says regarding physics is well above my ability to comprehend.

Unrelated: I'm amused at how many people keep insisting BALLYARD is not a thing, despite numerous citations today. I suspect that's what I've looked like when I've latched too hard on a first, impulse impression.

I've exceeded my quota for the day. On to Friday.

r.alphbunker 12:53 PM  

Here is a puzzle where over half the letters in the solution are U. Although not a crossword puzzle, it arguable has the highest U density of any puzzle ever created.

The 15x15 with 210 U's is on hold. It requires knowledge of how to convert to the base 32 number system and I am going to wait until that is being taught in high school before I release the puzzle.

M and Also 1:12 PM  

Hey, @r.alph... thanx U!
Base 32 is a bitch. Uses up plumb near the whole alphabet.
Will work that list puz.
Best I can trade yah in return right now is this little varmint:


Bird 1:47 PM  

Wow, tough for a Thursday. I’m all for trick puzzles, and this was a good one, but the cluing was Friday/Saturday level so I got nowhere fast. Not until I got WEAVE did I see “WHAT’S . . . WHITE” and things started fill in a little easier. Never heard 63A, but was able to get it from crosses.

Can’t recall the last time I heard the term BALL YARD. Especially for a baseball diamond. Is that a British term for a cricket field or something?

@Z - 1A also reminds me of that scene. Bugs Bunny is the best.

What’s black and white, black and white, black and white, black and white?

Karl 1:47 PM  

Q. What's Black and white and black and white and black and white and black and blue?
A. A nun falling down a flight of stairs!
p.s. If the clue does not prevent you from solving the puzzle, can it still be considered an awful clue, or just a poor one?

r.alphbunker 1:52 PM  


Nice puzzle. Got congratulated but am still processing the {Wraparound wagon track}. 5D was a nice AHA. You get a point for that and its oblique reference to a U which I assume was deliberate.

Bird 1:56 PM  

@Karl - Don't know the "black and blue" version, but answer is same.

Anyway, here's the second part of that riddle . . .

Q: What's black and white and smiles?

A: The priest who pushed her.

Z 1:56 PM  

@Schrödinger - Wikipedia says you've been dead for over 50 years. You aren't typing from a superimposed state in some unobserved box somewhere, are you?

I have been using the base 2 version of "42" in my captcha for quite awhile. @r.alph and @M&A have inspired me to switch over to base 32. Let's see, a 1 in the 32s place and an "A" in the one's place? Or should I use ∝?

Last Silver Bull Woot 2:04 PM  

@r.alph: yep. Those -?? clues may require extra processin time. But, then, my puzs are usually black and white and desperate all over.
So far, I got DN?G?TKVXUHIMLSYFPZECAWRBO. I've got. to. think. . .

Go Hawkeyes.

Dick Swart 2:05 PM  

'ball yard' ??. "ball yard' ???? 'ball yard' ??????

Other than that, fun.

r.alphbunker 2:08 PM  

The G answer is some karma coming back to you. You pulled that trick on me in pear tree puzzle.

jae 2:12 PM  

@lms - try DRAGHEELS


Mid-America BALLYARD

Anonymous 2:52 PM  

Mohair Sam,

I miss Harry. But are you sure about him using ball yard? I did quick poll of some of our fellow fans of the fightins and none recall him using it.

I miss Whitey too

ahimsa 3:29 PM  

For me, this was much easier than usual for a Thursday. At 1A I thought of PISMO instantly and saw that it fit. Then I wondered, "How in the world do I know that answer?" @Z, your link to that Bugs Bunny cartoon is probably the answer. I love how Bugs pronounces La Jolla in that clip.

My only slow spots were pYRO before TYRO (which shows you where my mind is at, I guess!) and BALLpARk before BALLYARD. I don’t object to that word at all, by the way. I just didn’t know it. No trouble SET/SEAT duo.

I was wondering where the "Crimson" part was in 35D (TIDE, 'Bama, with "the"). I guess that's why it's 'Bama instead of Alabama? Anyway, that nickname always makes me think of this song - Deacon Blues

@lms, I had to chuckle over your story about thinking that the mourning dove sounds were made by OWLS. We sometimes hear a western screech owl in our back yard at night. Check out this web page for a recording.

In case anyone cares, SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is a means-tested benefit for those who have limited income and assets and does not come from payroll taxes. It's quite a different program from the social security disability benefits based on the person's work history and his/her payroll tax contributions.

Lewis 3:35 PM  

Garth -- excellent post. I'm in your camp.

I think the cluing should have been made easier and that this puzzle should have been a Tuesday, or possibly Wednesday. With a few letters, I think most could have gotten the whole riddle written down, which makes the puzzle easy, not to mention quickly figuring out the two answers. That's a lot of letters that everyone knows easily.

THIS in front of newspaper? I think Rex would have gone off on that. As Matt points out, that isn't the answer to the riddle that everyone knows.

ahimsa 3:44 PM  

@Andrea, I forgot to say that I almost missed your comment because it was not signed with your usual ACME acronym. ANDREA DAL LOVER! So funny!

I also love dal/daal/dahl (दाल) of all kinds - moong, masoor, channa, toor, urad, etc.

Anonymous 4:09 PM  

@Two Ponies, it's a good thing constructors usually choose the most common 4-letter names from Genesis. Besides Adam, Cain, Abel, Noah, Shem, and Esau, they could pull out Irad, Enos, Cush, Heth, Eber, Elam, Uzal, Obal, Aner, Aram, Hazo, Levi, Omar, Anah, Ezer, Hori, Ebal, Onam, Akan, Aran, Bela, or Iram. Lord help us if they do.

The belly buttons on Adam and Eve came, of course, from the painters' imaginations. Or perhaps God created them that way so their kids wouldn't ask, "Why do we have belly buttons, and you don't?"

There's an old joke about St. Peter telling a new arrival in Paradise that he can't be admitted unless Adam vouched for him. Shortly, the arrival comes back with Adam. St. Peter says, "How did you find him so soon?" The arrival answers, "It was easy. I just looked for someone without a belly button."

sanfranman59 4:19 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 15:01, 19:03, 0.79, 14%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:26, 10:36, 0.89, 25%, Easy-Medium

LaneB 4:20 PM  

Did this one while sitting with my dogs at the Humane Society, and they were a great help. I needed some Google confirmations with ALAN, ARDEN, NEMO and ANIL, but the rest of it went fairly fast after ghetting both anwsers to the riddle.. An enjoyable Thursday and no rebuses to foul it up!

R. McGeddon 4:35 PM  

In order to be complete, shouldn't there also be a "rad all over" answer. Like the top raddest B&W movies I can think of, e.g., Sunrise, Beauty and the Beast, Psycho....?

Nameless 4:36 PM  

Q: What's black and yellow and screams?

A: A school bus going over a cliff.

lawprof 4:47 PM  

Anyone who remembers that odd three-fingered Stan Musial mitt (everyone says "glove" today) will remember "ballyard." No problemo here.

MetaRex 5:09 PM  

Fell for the PYRO trap and never noticed the circle...

@r.alph: Piedmontese link posted here, along with a few thoughts on the interface.

r.alphbunker 5:12 PM  

RUT Har!

Loren Muse Smith 5:21 PM  

@jae – Thanks. I went back and checked – I did actually have DRAG HEELS. Just changed a couple of letters in the translation.

@ahisma – they're mourning doves??? Wow. We always hear them only in the morning. What the heck are they mourning? Shows just how little I know about birds. At the zoo, I always skip the aviary and spend my time in the reptile house instead.

I have to say, though, I once watched a mother plover (or killdeer?) exercise our teenage puppy for about thirty minutes with her "broken wing" shtick. Fascinating.

Thanks for the link to the site! I was surprised at the sounds; I had heard that a screech owl's screech can be pretty startling. These guys didn't sound too scary.

Dave 5:22 PM  

Blasted through this in 15 min at my son's piano lesson. Thursday is usually a little tougher than this.

Skunk with diaper rash also came to mind. There are more, but no reason to get gruesome or obscene.

Mohair Sam 5:58 PM  

@anonymous 2:52. Pretty positive, I'm sure it's not a Whitey comment (miss him too), and I am sure my knowledge of the term comes from Phillies broadcasts. Good Lord, I hope I'm not quoting Wheels!

ahimsa 6:41 PM  

@lms, Hmm, why are the Mourning Doves mourning? Who knows! Maybe we could ask Prince? (a link for "When Doves Cry" would go here if I could find one...)

The gentle hooting of the Western Screech OWL does not live up to its scary name. But many birds have an array of calls/songs. Maybe it can also screech when it wants to?

Here's a sampler of several OWLS -

Anonymous 6:52 PM  

What does IMHO mean? Please don't tell me a modern methinks?

Text Speak 7:14 PM  

In My Humble Opinion

chefbea 7:41 PM  

@anon 6:52 in my humble opinion

JDipinto 8:06 PM  

Two of the Jeopardy categories tonight were "Black and White and Read" (books with one of those colors in the title) and "Newspapers" (terminology related thereto). Hmmm...

chefbea 8:39 PM  

I watched jeopardy and saw that. Looking forward to the tournament starting in February…go Ken Jennings!!!

Anonymous 10:45 PM  

zebra with diaper rash was the second answer i was thinking of

Outlaw M and A 11:16 PM  

Delighted RUT gave U such a nice ahar moment.

My answer to yer puz is:

and mUcho thanx,

acme 12:37 AM  

saw that on Jeopardy too! SYNCHRONICITY!

Anonymous 7:31 PM  

@text speak
@chef bea
Thank you

Bob Kerfuffle 2:55 PM  

FWIW, I spoke to Will Shortz at the Westport Xwd Contest, and he expressed surprise at the Jeopardy! synchronicity, said it was news to him and purely by chance.

spacecraft 10:36 AM  

@Mohair Sam (fellow Phillies fan!): Thanks for the reference to Harry Kalas; he was the best of the best. I was so super gratified that he got to see his boys as world champs before he made his final out.

So yes, BALLYARD is fine, but like much of this puzzle, gettable only after filling in the riddle. I was first trying to think of board games.

Isn't having "-Dokey" in the clue for OKEY some kind of violation? I didn't throw the flag, because what else can you do? But there's the entry, right in the clue, with only one extra letter! Anyway, doing that NE box gave me -ITE, and I was already thinking of my drunk driver as doing the WEAVE, so it was ...WHITE and ...OVER--Bingo!
The whole theme (except for that final variation: our version was a bleeding nun--nevermind why she was bleeding) fell into place, and that was a great help for several murkily-clued entries. Say, easy-medium (for a Thursday).

Yesterday we had SIDEA, today it's SIDEB. Reminds me of the old joke "Didja hear about the Mexican who had twin sons? He called them Jose and Hose B." Now could we please put those SIDEs aside? As they say in volleyball: "SIDE OUT!"

Other fill was good. The E/EA square, working both ways, is marvelous. Enjoyable solve.

Boat, 99933.

Waxy in Montreal 12:32 PM  

A rare easy Thursday. Only problem came at the much-cited ADIA/SSI intersection but managed to guess right. also didn't know PISMO or BALLYARD but they emerged READily from their crosses.

Syndi-synchronicity with KIEV (or KYIV) so much in the news this week.

Like others, tried to fit ANEMBARRASSEDZEBRA into 63A before PANDA came into play.

Three 8's and a pair of 9's.

Waxy in Montreal 12:37 PM  

Arrrrgh. Have just realized it's BALL YARD and not BALLYARD (which I took to be an obscure board game. Ouch!

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

I called each and every one of the million plus people in San Diego County and not one have heard the term, "ballyard." Other than that, this puzzle was a darned good workout. Had to look up Vermeer's first name.

Ron Diego 9:45 AM PST 3/6

Dirigonzo 3:36 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dirigonzo 3:44 PM  

I nearly forgot about the lone circle until I was looking a the (almost, it turns out) completed grid and realized it could be either of two possibilities, and that was my aha moment - EPHEMERAl though it may be. Oh, wait - I just had another one when I realized where Andrea Dal Lover got her name du jour - very clever (as always)!

A little voice in the back of my head tells me that I know BALL YARD from a much earlier time but I'll be darned if I know why.

My boat sank before it left the dock.

(My apologies to those who received my earlier comment with the erroneous date reference - sometimes my snark gets ahead of my facts (that, plus a little wishful thinking about winter finally being over). I really do know what month it is.)

(To those of you who don't get email updates of the comments, you'll hever know what your missing.)

DMG 4:20 PM  

This one took a little thinking, which is not a bad thing! Paused at 6D when "diamond" wouldn't fit, and then it filled itself. Other than that only had to replace Adam with ESAU. So a good Thursday for me!

As I recall, PISMO Beach is where all the muscle-bound types used to show off their wares. don't know if it's still true!

Couldnt read the letter Captcha at all, so turned to the dealer and got a full house, 9's and 5's.

bananafish 1:45 AM  

BALLYARD is definitely a thing. There are well over 10,000 Google hits for "OLD BALLYARD" alone, and one of them quotes a Vin Scully broadcast:

Such as Vin Scully on the final day of the regular season:

"Looks like McNamara's going to keep Smith in to face Mattingly. Oh my, what a game here at the old ballyard in the Bronx. The winner goes to face the A's tomorrow in the playoffs. The loser goes home to watch the playoffs on TV." See

If Vin Scully says it, is definitely a part of baseball lore, so all you whining weenies who objected to it can stick it where the sun don't shine (as the Bad News Bears would say).

bananafish 1:46 AM  

BALLYARD is definitely a thing. There are well over 10,000 Google hits for "OLD BALLYARD" alone, and one of them quotes a Vin Scully broadcast:

Such as Vin Scully on the final day of the regular season:

"Looks like McNamara's going to keep Smith in to face Mattingly. Oh my, what a game here at the old ballyard in the Bronx. The winner goes to face the A's tomorrow in the playoffs. The loser goes home to watch the playoffs on TV." See

If Vin Scully says it, is definitely a part of baseball lore, so all you whining weenies who objected to it can stick it where the sun don't shine (as the Bad News Bears would say).

Red Blender 6:36 AM  

Turns out you can put either E or EA in that circle to get "red" or ...

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