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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Constructor: Charles M. Deber

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "It Was 50 Years Ago Today" — celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first live television performance in the US on "The ED SULLIVAN Show" (2/9/64). Circles make the rough outline of a GUITAR, and the circles spell out the names of THE FAB FOUR, with "Paul McCartney" and "John Lennon" running down the left side and "Ringo Starr" and "George Harrison" running down the right.

Other theme answers:
  • 3D: Craze caused by this puzzle's subjects (BEATLEMANIA)
  • 17D: Song sung by this puzzle's subjects on 6-Down's show on 2/9/64 ("SHE LOVES YOU")
  • 86D: Song sung by this puzzle's subjects on 6-Down's show on 9/12/65 ("YESTERDAY")
  • 70A: Much of the audience for 6-Down's show on 2/9/64 (TEENAGERS)
  • 110D: 1965 and 1966 concert site for this puzzle's subjects (SHEA)

Word of the Day: LOLLOP (32A: Move in an ungainly way) —
  1. To move with a bobbing motion.
  2. Chiefly British. To lounge about; loll.
[Alteration of LOLL.]

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/lollop#ixzz2smHUmQXc
• • •

Probably the most impressive part of this grid is the way TEENAGERS lies across the center of the GUITAR in the middle of the grid. But that intense thematic density also highlights the very weakest part of the grid, fill-wise: AAU crossing NEUER! Yikes. I don't really know what AAU is (Assoc. of Amer. Universities?? Nope, Amateur Athletic Union) (66D: Junior Olympics org.), so that "U" was an educated guess based on my (crossword) knowledge that NEU is "new" in German. So … NEUER, sure, why not? (76A: More modern, in Munich). Anyway, this puzzle was far, far, far too easy. I've been seeing this anniversary heralded in print and on television for weeks now, so theme-wise, nothing made me think. I just filled in the blanks as fast as I could. Got the theme from the title and got most of the theme answers with very few or no crosses. Slowed up the most in the SE, where I just couldn't get SAFARI off the "S" (128A: Kind of jacket with pockets on the chest) or (more understandable) TROYES off the "T" (131A: City on the Seine upstream from Paris). Otherwise, cake. Fastest Sunday solve of all time, or close to it. Didn't hate it, but didn't love it. The circle-drawing is more sitar than guitar—fitting, if the time in question were later in the Beatles' career. But sure, GUITAR, why not? I'm sure some GUITAR somewhere has roughly those dimensions.

LOLLOP and "REALTV" were the big "????"s of the day. I'm sure I've seen LOLLOP before, but that didn't keep me from checking and rechecking all the crosses to make sure I wasn't missing something. There is a bunch of short fill one could complain about, but I don't think it matters much today, first because it's not Sooo bad (compared to NYT norms) and second because the crud didn't add to the difficulty in any way. Only thing worse than bad fill is bad fill that makes the puzzle harder to solve because of its badness. Do you just wear one EARPHONE? (67A: Announcer's ear) … OK, so it appears that "headphones" is always plural because it's essentially two EARPHONEs? I think of the things over your head as "headphones" and the thing in one ear as an "earpiece." But EARPHONE is a thing, because I looked it up, so … this has been "Musings on the Nature of the EARPHONE" by R.P.

Puzzle of the Week! This week was competitive, with Peter Broda continuing to kill it at his site with "Freestyle #28" and Jeffrey Wechsler bringing an impressive variation on the "answers-change-direction" theme to the latest Fireball puzzle ("Following Directions"). But the win, for cleverness as well as timeliness, has to go this week to Brendan Emmett Quigley for "X Word." It's not pornographic, despite the potential implications of that title. It's a basic theme concept, but it's done Just Right. I won't tell you any more so you can do it yourself.

Lastly, a big public thank-you to Cynthia and Olivier Kaiser who sent me a financial contribution all the way from France and then asked that instead of a thank-you card, I send my thanks via my Sunday blog post. So that is what I am doing. Right now! And while I'm at it, a big shout-out to all my International Herald Tribune solvers, wherever you may be.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS, in the battle of the tribute puzzles, I think this wins: Merl Reagle's "Beatles, on the Flip Side."


Steve J 12:07 AM  

Meh. "Didn't hate it, but didn't love it" is a good description.

Maybe it was because I figured out the theme before I'd filled in a single square, just from reading the puzzle's title, and therefore I found this ridiculously easy (this finished like an easy-medium Thursday for me). Maybe it's just that there wasn't much interesting going on. Not much of anything to complain about, either. It was just there.

Did the BEQ "X Word" puzzle earlier today. Very good, indeed.

Anonymous 12:10 AM  

Pretty much like Rex. Puzzle title gave it all away in a flash, easiest Sunday *ever*, but the SE held me back for a while until ECOSystem morphed into a sphere (and I blanched at AAU/NEUER). Not a "great" puzzle, but I really appreciated the thought, and I remember that night 50 years ago very, very well. A really big shew.

Anonymous 12:14 AM  

Easiest Sunday ever for me. Not so much fun when you don't have to work at all to sort out the theme and theme answers.

Kretch 12:15 AM  

I dunno - A ton of Beatles memories made it nice for me. Typed in Ed Sullivan and thought of the performance, Yesterday brought back memories of, well, yesteryear. Many answers that evoked mental images for me.. Liked the fab names winding their way through the puzzle without a ton of drek to make it happen. Not tough but very enjoyable..

Anoa Bob 12:22 AM  

Hand up for knowing the theme before even looking at the grid or clues.

"It was twenty years ago today
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They've been going in and out of style
But they're guaranteed to raise a smile
So may I introduce to you
The act you've known for all these years
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

Mick J 12:34 AM  

By far the best tribute puzzle I've ever done, one that captured the essence of the honoree: Too easy, insipid, ultimately a waste of time.

Evan 12:38 AM  

Definitely one of my fastest Sundays. I didn't figure the theme out with the title, but on getting ED SULLIVAN very early on. So, easy, but there's not much in the way of sparkly fill and the short entries really suffered in places because of how theme-heavy it all was: TSE, VAS, OONA, APTER, RICE U, WYES, NEUER, OBEYER, AERIE, MANY'S, RONI, LII, -OMA, -ASE, AAU, ANON, ERST, -OSIS, and lots of partials (IT BE, I WAS, A RUT, UP A, A TEE.... and AM I too, although you could easily clue that one as the simple French word). It was a bit weird seeing NEST both as an answer and in the clue for AERIE, though that wasn't too big of a deal.

I'm all in for the ACPT next month.

OISK 12:39 AM  

I imagine that Beatle fans will enjoy this for the memories, as they whiz through it. I was in college in 1964, and paid them little attention. But unlike the other rock groups of the time, they were such major cultural figures, that I knew their names and songs in spite of myself. ( I can name exactly one Stones song, and zero Dave Clark five, for example). So it was easy, but not particularly interesting to me. I did appreciate the German though; the more commonly used Spanish terms always throw me. I participated in AAU track meets at one time (as a manager, not a runner), so no problem there. In general, I think Rex got this one exactly right. Welcome back, Rex.

jae 12:41 AM  

Yup, a nice easy tribute.  Saw them on Sullivan in '63.  Have all the albums. Still the best band ever IMHO.

Anonymous 12:52 AM  

If I want a stupid easy puzzle, I can look in my local newspaper. You'd have to live in a cave to be unaware of this anniversary. I can't believe Mr. Deber got paid for this lame effort.

Unknown 1:05 AM  

Announcers frequently wear an earphone, singular, so they can be addressed privately but hear what is going on around them with the other ear. Nowadays usually in the form of an earbud.

mforrest73 1:10 AM  

Easy? Yeah. I wasted 2 minutes hunting down a stupid typo and still finished well under my average sunday time.

chefwen 1:43 AM  

I grew up in the Beatlemania craze so this one was a cake walk. Went to a concert when I was 15 and remember just being pissed off because you couldn't hear the music over all the screaming kids and I couldn't even see them because I'm built so close to the ground.

When I first printed it out I thought "that's the weirdest tuning fork I have ever seen".

Holding out for next Sunday!

Bob Kerfuffle 2:10 AM  

I will endanger my membership in the Love Every Puzzle Club and say the best word I could think of to describe this puzzle is "joyless."

But, hey, earlier this week I noted having not seen TOTO in awhile, but here he is at 26 A!

Shouldn't the word "count" in 21 A be capitalized? In this use it is not a generic title, it's a nickname.

Time for me to LOLLOP back to bed.

Garth 2:33 AM  

@Rex: A sitar doesn't have a square or rectangular body--Its body (resonator) is like half of a slightly imperfect sphere. The instrument I can think of that's closest to the one represented in the puzzle is Bo Diddley's guitar. Its body was more rectangular than the one in the puzzle, but that's all I got.

Garth 2:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jody Bilyeu 3:51 AM  

This puzzle maintains bilateral symmetry on its vertical axis; most NYT grids do not.

jae 4:00 AM  

Typo correct '64. Fat fingers on the IPAD syndrome.

evil doug 4:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 4:56 AM  

Yes--"Don't thank us privately; rather, name us publicly so everyone can celebrate our generosity!"

Glimmerglass 7:34 AM  

Hated this one, because it is too easy. I don't keep track of time, but this might also be my "fastest Sunday ever." It isn't even a memorable tribute puzzle, except maybe for the cubist guitar. Not much to cavil about -- two in the same row: OIL CAR and OBEYER. Neither is really a thing in my book. Maybe M. Deber might have better combined them. "79A with 85A: Chocolate supervisor" (OIL CAROB EYER).

chefbea 7:38 AM  

Hand up for everything that has been said…easy. saw the really big shew., guessed at the u in aau/neuer.
Loved the Beatles and still do.

Elle54 7:39 AM  

Yep, saw the title and that was it! Loved the tribute and memories, but usually like to hang out with my Sunday puzzle for longer..

Rob C 8:22 AM  

One of the easiest Sunday's I can remember. Like others, I got it from the title and plunked down all the themers first with no crosses. Far too easy. Sunday's supposed to put up a bit of a fight. Raced through it like a Tues. Only hangup was refusing to accept ECO crossing ECO for a while, until it had to be.

I thought the instrument shape was a xylophone mallet.

I liked the clue for 69A ETATS. Thought it was EARPiecE too at first b/c, as Rex pointed out, EARPHONE sounds odd in the singular.

Mohair Sam 8:29 AM  

Agree with Rex except AAU was a gimme here. Way too easy for a Sunday.

If the theme was "50 Years ago Today" we have only three theme answers because SHEA stadium was still under construction on Feb 9, 1964 and YESTERDAY hadn't been written. And where was some reference to "I Wanna Hold Your Hand"? - they actually performed that 50 years ago today, should have been worked in.

I don't care what a sitar really looks like, that thing in the middle stirred sitarian thoughts in us. I thought maybe this was one of those (var) clues without the (var), but UTEP blocked the thought that there might actually be a misdirection clue in this puzzle.

AnnieD 8:41 AM  

I was a tad disappointed. I knew the theme before starting and expected to have more song lyrics or trivia worked into the puzzle. Instead I got thither!?!

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Hey Mick J. (12:34)
Sucks to be No. 2 don't it?

Unknown 9:03 AM  

Yup, the title give it away, for sure. I tried to fill in as many theme answers as possible first without crosses and did pretty well. The only real question was what order the names were going to be in, and I needed just a couple well-placed crosses for that. Completed while eating yummy buttermilk pancakes.

John Child 9:15 AM  

Of the four names, the living are on the figurative guitar's fingerboard and the departed are around the body, which is marked with a cross. Neat.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

If IKO IKO, why not ECO ECO??

Unknown 9:37 AM  

Only error was an oversight at RHi/iSIS. Easy puzzle. Two hours. EARPiecE before EARPHONE. WhyS and WiES before WYES. All the rabbit holes were the right ones this time. Even the ones I scampered out of: UTEP, RICEU. ASSENT

NEUER could be clued with any German language geographical reference, but Munich is apt because the NEUER Pinakotek is a major destination for the ARTIER crowd. Like Rex? (Maybe not.)

@John Child I'd been looking for a meaning for the cross. Thanks.

Dean R 9:47 AM  

Normally , after I finish a puzzle I come here to read the comments and marvel at how smart all you people are (no joke). Today all I found were a bunch of idiots. Too easy????? Are you people effing kidding me? This was a beautiful puzzle celebrating a landmark moment in the history of two countries, and probably civilization as a whole, and you people have the nerve to piss and moan that it was too easy? As though it was beneath you? I was born in 65, so I missed the "shew", but I was 15 when John Lennon was murdered (just drove past The Dakota yesterday) and it remains one of the significant moments of my life. Also, I was a musician once upon a time, and I'm here to tell you, The Beatles were so good it was scary. Sorry to go on and on, but it seems like most of you are missing the point.

Leon 9:50 AM  

Interesting that the print version had different grid numbers and that the Across Lite version was re-formatted.

Today's Parade Magazine cover: It was 50 Years Ago Today.

A Nonni Nonny 10:01 AM  

Usually Deber's puzzle are fantastic challenges and demanding to solve; this one, of course, was a gimme from start to finish. The GUITAR looked more like a banjo to me, and ASTA is my go-to terrier, but what the hey.

I was 16 when The BEATLES came to town... Except for their misguided druggie period, THE FAB FOUR truly deserve respect for their contributions. Amazing music.

LOLLOPing would describe a rabbit's casual gait pretty well; I think you'd find the term in _Watership Down_, for instance.

Z 10:03 AM  

Flipped through the Freep before starting the puzzle and right there on the first page of the "A Better Michigan" section is Mitch Albom's column,Why the Beatles are Still Simply the Best.

Too easy? Waa Waa Waa. Definitely the crossword equivalent of a "First World Problem." Timely theme, a nice visual (again, gray squares in the Magazine, far more visually interesting than those lame circles), little bonus theme answers here and there, the cross feature (great observation @John Child, I missed that), and a relative lack of dreck given the constraints of the grid layout. Tribute puzzles are notoriously difficult to do well. Deber gets two thumbs up from me.

Hey - the Evil Duck grew a goatee. Very dapper. Interesting choice of topics to comment on. "Shout-outs" and "Retweets" and "posting Selfies" are not my thing, but hardly worth batting an eyelash at.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Quite possibly I've been reading too much ERRATIC poetry, but I can't fathom writing an ODE to Social Security Administration.

Did enjoy the nod to Josip Broz TSE TSO

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

NOW IS, er, MANY'S the time I've wondered, where did RICHELIEU leave his HELI? Must have been at RICEU.

(What else can you expect from a Canuck?)

Joe The Juggler 10:32 AM  

I don't think John in particular would have favored the crucifix symbol.

quilter1 10:45 AM  

The last four down clues did not make it onto my puzzle, but I got them anyway. Easy and fun.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

I agree that AAU/NEUER was awful. I'm sure Mr Deber considered other options -- really the only easy fix was to change 66D -- but I think this works better: Go with NEWER for 76A, change AAU to MAW (66D), and then clue 65A as "Two days after 83D, abbr." to get TMR. Ok, maybe it's not great, but it stays with the theme of the puzzle and gives the solver only one ugly answer instead of two.

This was definitely the easiest Sunday NYT puzzle I've ever tried. I was wondering what the shaded part was meant to reveal, so it was nice that I didn't get 'GUITAR' till nearly the end (I seem to have solved the puzzle from left to right).


Carole Shmurak 10:51 AM  

Easy but fun for me. Rex left out a bunch of theme answers: LET IT BE, it's Only Love lyric (Why AM I so shy), LIVERPOOL, When I WAS so much younger, maybe even the S in CBS?

joho 11:08 AM  

@Dean R, great comment.

@Rex, I'll add to your theme list: LIVERPOOL, "Let ITBE" and from "Help!," "When IWAS younger ..." just to further emphasize the density of this delightful theme. Very seldom do we see so little dreck in the fill with a theme this dense. Bravo, Mr. Deber!

RnRGhost57 11:15 AM  

The equivalent of a People Magazine feature on the Beatles: lightweight fare that helps one pass the time in the dentist's waiting room. All but forgotten five minutes after completed.

Steve J 11:25 AM  

@John Child: I hadn't noticed any pattern to the order of the names. Thanks for pointing that out. That's kind of cool.

@Dean R: Finding the puzzle easy is in no way a slight on the Beatles or the significance of their cultural impact. It just means that a lot of us would have liked the puzzle to be a little meatier so we could have spent more time with it.

jberg 11:27 AM  

Sure it was easy, but I enjoyed it - for the Beatles, for the intricate construction, and because I am old enough to remember when the Amateur Athletic Union was a much bigger deal -- mainly because there were still amateurs then. In fact, I'm even willing to let the needless French in the clue for 120A go by (English music students play etudes, too, just like English-speaking audiences go to operas and concertos). C'mon folks, this is Sunday, it's not supposed to be hard!

I just realized that I failed to correct MANY A, even though I knew that had to be an S - just couldn't bring myself to write it down.

I thought it was a banjo, myself.

OK, gotta check out of this hotel and catch my plane home. Hope I beat the snow!

mac 11:29 AM  

Very quick but timely and fun puzzle. Looking back some of the grid looks weird, NONNOSI, GEHARRI, etc.

I thought "obeyer" would get some complaints.

I know it's all been discussed a long time ago, but I bought an iPad mini yesterday and would like to know how I can best do the NYT crossword puzzle on it. No timing or comparing necessary. Thank you!

Charley 11:33 AM  

Puzzazz app. works best for me.

AliasZ 11:44 AM  

All right, all right, we all know this puzzle was too easy, but do we have to read about it 48 times (Rex + the number of comments)? All this HOOPLA about the small stuff, while the main point goes mostly unnoticed. I think the ingenious design, theme density, six unchecked squares, and how the OJY, ORG, OHNLENN, GEHARRI and NONNOSI entries made no sense, added to the charm of this clever puzzle, and trumped some of the iffy fill and many partials. Charles Deber gave us some of the most ingenious and clever puzzles in the past, including one in which the theme answers turned corners, and one in which the theme clue numbers and clues were given in reverse, so for the 27 Across clue "DRAB" the solution was SHAKESPEARE at 72 Across.

And let us not forget that among the admittedly large number of sub-per entries, we also find ECOSPHERE, IMITATORS, the beautiful town of NEW HOPE, Pa, Count BASIE, The MOODY Blues and ABBA to whom you may listen to through EARPHONEs with other TEENAGERS, and the NUISANCE of solving a 21x21 puzzle through a 15x15 hole in the timed Java applet.

The adventurous among music lovers should definitely check out the Piano ETUDES by György Ligeti (1923-2006). This is No. 13, called L'escalier du diable (The Devil's Staircase). Hearing this piece could be compared to the sensation of a team of miniature devils slowly dancing up your spine from the tailbone all the way to your neck, over and over again. What an amazing piece!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Steve J 11:48 AM  

@mac: if you have an existing NYT Xword subscription, I like the Crosswords app from Standalone Inc. If you don't have a subscription, the Magmic NYT Crossword app works well. It's what I use (and a year's subscription to the puzzle is about half what it is through the NYT - but you don't get to okay it on multiple devices (other than anothe iPad or iPhone).

Clueless in Texas 12:05 PM  

I absolutely loved it. It was breezy and fun and memorable. It was over too fast, and then I was sad--just like when the band stopped playing together. (Perhaps, the speed of it is another "wink" at them.)

Yes, some of the "boys" may have preferred a non-cross in the middle, but the puzzle is still beautiful. The image looking like both a guitar and a sitar makes it even more a perfect toast to the variety of time-tested music they gave us.

I am impressed with Mr.Deber's puzzle--lots of tributes to the Beatles when you keep looking! Thank you!!!

OISK 12:24 PM  

@DeanR and others - I expected the comments to be far more positive, since the Beatles meant so much to so many. (just not me). If on October 4, 2015 the Sunday puzzle commemorates an event that sent all of Brooklyn into ecstasy, that occurred exactly 60 years before that, I will be delighted, no matter how easy the puzzle is to solve. I hope that 17 across is "OISK."

Smitty 12:32 PM  

Guess I should have read the fine print when I struggled with YESTERDAY - I was looking for something from the "meet the beatles" Ed Sullivan show 50 years ago. YESTERDAY was sung in a 1966 ES show

AAU wasn't obscure for me either.But lots of stuff that's easy for Rex is obscure for me.

Unknown 1:08 PM  

@Dean R - I'm not sure why you
think the comments that the puzzle was too easy are in any way suggesting the theme was not worthy or the puzzle was not "beautiful". As far as I can tell, that's not what anyone said or meant.

DeanR 1:24 PM  

@Rob C
First off I'm not a constructor (not nearly smart enough) but this puzzle to me was perfect. So many theme answers hidden in it (without actually being clued as such), plus the way their names wrap around one another...brilliant. And it's not about The Beatles...as much as I loved them once, I don't really listen to them anymore. I guess I just get annoyed by snarky comments by people who suggest that a puzzle like this is "too easy." Saturdays are supposed to be hard...Sundays, to me just need to be fun.

Joe The Juggler 1:45 PM  

The cross on the guitar is also inappropriate given that the guitar is formed by the names of all four of them--including the two living Beatles. I found it to be particularly jarring (and to me, it stands out visually very obviously and couldn't possibly be inadvertent).

Numinous 1:48 PM  

A nice little trip along Memory Lane. I watched that Shew 50 years ago and I wasn't impressed, or, rather, I was but with how vapid they were. I was more into jazz and blues in those days. I didn't get to appreciate the Beatles until much later that year when, more out of boredom than anything else I went to see A Hard Day's Night. But it was their whacked out humor that got me more than their music. But they were infectious. Everyone, well, everyone young in Berkeley then was running around with fake Beatles accents (LIVERPOOL IMITATORS). It was painfully funny. The main thing, though, was that they opened the door for The Rolling Stones, The Zombies, The Kinks, and a whole host of other British bands.

@Garth, Bo Diddley's guitar was indeed rectilinear and Danelectro used to make a few like that too, they may still. I aspired to owning a Danelectro bass in those days but never managed it.

Without even thinking about it, I had the theme at 3D off MOBILE. Easy, easy puzzle though I fail to see how anyone using Magmic could do all that typing in two + minutes. And Magmic won't let you use a hardware keyboard. There were no real hitches for me in this, I don't think I even had a write-over.

@Rex, Sports announcers wear a headphone, a single EARPHONE on a headband with a microphone attached by a boom.

Well done @cascokid. See, you can do it. I sometimes wonder if you overthink.

Not a bad puzzle at all, I was just a bit disappointed when the theme answers ran out.

Carola 2:13 PM  

I found it an impressive construction and an enjoyable tribute - fun to be reminded of my Beatlemania (well, Paul-mania) years.

Liked LEDA and A SWAN.

Sandy 2:35 PM  

Stupid easy=no fun. Long walk for a short drink and all that. "Yesterday" was more fun. Yeah yeah yeah.

wreck 2:55 PM  

It was my fastest Sunday as well, but many of the same people bitching that it was too easy and 'beneath' them are the same people telling us the same thing every day. It seems that EVERY NYT puzzle is a complete waste of time for them.

wreck 3:00 PM  

..... conversely, if a puzzle has a few words that the solver doesn't know, the puzzle is a complete waste of time because it is 'impossible' to solve!

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

Is a nacho reay a chip or is it chip filed with something

chefbea 3:17 PM  

@Anonymouse 3:12…guess you could call it a sandwich!!!!!

LaneB 3:30 PM  

Nice fast Sunday and clever theme. Slow start via use of Asta for TOTO in NW. Took a while to get the order of the names in the shaded area, but I'm not too good with that kind of thing. I actually saw that Sullivan show and FABFOUR debut. The long hair scandalized my Dad! Imagine. 50 years has passed quickly and the pace is accelerating.

Wikipedia 4:01 PM  

@Anonymous, 3:12 -

(Sometimes I even surprise myself!)

Nachos may have originated in the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, just over the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, or in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico, at a restaurant called the Victory Club, owned by Rodolfo De Los Santos. In 1943, the wives of ten to twelve U.S. soldiers stationed at Fort Duncan in nearby Eagle Pass were in Piedras Negras on a shopping trip, and arrived at the restaurant after it had already closed for the day. The maître d'hôtel, Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya, invented a new snack for them with what little he had available in the kitchen: tortillas and cheese. Anaya cut the tortillas into triangles, added shredded cheddar cheese, quickly heated them, added sliced jalapeño peppers and served them.

When asked what the dish was called, he answered, "Nacho's especiales". As word of the dish traveled, the apostrophe was lost, and Nacho's "specials" became "special nachos".

wreck 4:18 PM  

"Nachos" the dish are chips with cheese and jalapeños. Nacho chips are what you put the cheese and jalapeños on. Nacho chips as a type of chip
is correct.

mac 4:32 PM  

Thank you @Charley and J Berg; I do have a subscription. I can't figure out how to get out of the clutch of puzzles at Standalone, but Puzzazz worked very well. I still have a lot to learn about this gadget…..

Fred Romagnolo 4:32 PM  

missed the symbolism of the cross. I find it offensive that some find it offensive; I'm an agnostic, but I don't have Dracula's reaction to a cross. Surely John, who bragged they were more popular than Jesus, might be expected to go easy on that.

art mugalian 6:00 PM  

I don't think the Beatles' "druggie" phase was misguided as it led to a heightened creativity. Their "transcendental" phase may have been misguided, although it ultimately shaped George's worldview.

Anonymous 6:06 PM  

"Manys" the time?? I mean. Really.

chefbea 7:30 PM  

@mac - don't they give lessons at the apple store?? That's what I did when I got mine. Or I just go in and ask a question.

Anonymous 7:56 PM  

Easy easy, pretty fun even if you've never been to England but kind of like the Beatles.

So now can it please be the anniversary of something else?


JDipinto 7:57 PM  

Meh to the Reagle puzzle. Not really a tribute or a "homage", as he puts it, at all. Just a strained attempt at cleverness that doesn't ultimately succeed. "Go Together?" Really? (Barf)

Deber's puzzle strikes a much better commemorative tone and is a fitting tribute. So what if it was relatively easy?

sanfranman59 8:28 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:04, 6:22, 0.95, 27%, Easy-Medium
Tue 10:30, 8:18, 1.27, 94%, Challenging (13th highest ratio of 217 Tuesdays)
Wed 8:25, 10:26, 0.81, 7%, Easy
Thu 18:20, 18:35, 0.99, 44%, Medium
Fri 18:20, 20:15, 0.91, 34%, Easy-Medium
Sat 27:31, 28:13, 0.98, 44%, Medium
Sun 21:03, 30:00, 0.70, 2%, Easy (2nd lowest ratio of 122 Sundays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:01, 4:00, 1.00, 47%, Medium
Tue 6:33, 5:14, 1.25, 96%, Challenging (9th highest ratio of 217 Tuesdays)
Wed 5:26, 6:15, 0.87, 15%, Easy
Thu 10:09, 10:24, 0.98, 42%, Medium
Fri 11:06, 11:32, 0.96, 42%, Medium
Sat 16:26, 18:12, 0.90, 30%, Easy-Medium
Sun 15:44, 20:29, 0.77, 9%, Easy (11th lowest ratio of 122 Sundays)

Yup ... it was an easy one. But any Beatle-themed puzzle gets top marks in my book.

chefbea 8:38 PM  

Watching the Grammy salute to the Beatles. It is fantastic!!!!!

Anonymous 8:58 PM  

@Joe the Juggler
@Fed Romagnolo

Here's the thing about the cross: I wasn't aware of this at the time, being deeply involved in my higher education North of the Border, but there was significant uproar in some parts of the country subsequent to that 'more popular than Jesus' comment. Given that years later, Mark Chapman cited that issue as the/one reason that he decided to murder John Lennon...Well, let's just say that cross next to his name caused some cognitive dissonance.

Sfingi 9:16 PM  

I haven't done a Sunday (except a week late) for a long time, and thought it was terribly easy. So, I guess everyone thinks so.

But I always learn things here from the bloggers.

JDipinto 9:36 PM  

@chefbea - I am watching the Beatles special too. Loved Ed Sheeran's version of "In My Life".

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

RICEU was terrible. In Houston everyone just calls it RICE, not "RICE U," as if it was some sort of state college.

gringa 12:53 PM  

While I was doing this puzzle, I remembered a Vietnam vet jokingly talking about a military award that was so easy to get they called it the "Alive in '65" medal.

Well, finishing this puzzle was just as easy. If you were alive in '65, you should be able to finish this puzzle without lifting a pinkie.

I was only 3 years old when the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan show so I qualify for the award but only barely.

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

Can someone explain the bikini blitz clue for me? (8 across)

ESF 12:14 AM  

I actually *assumed* the cross was a wink to their "bigger than Jesus" comment, since the names of the Four encircle the cross in that... sure, a guitar shape.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Could someone please explain "STP" as an answer for 110 across - "500 letters"/

Wikipedia 6:08 PM  

"STP is an American brand and trade name for the automotive additives, lubricants and performance division of Armored AutoGroup," whose trademark you will see often on cars etc at the Indy 500 race.

Ron Levenberg 5:44 PM  

There are guitars with a rectangular body. Try searching for "cigar box GUITAR" on eBay. I doubt the Beatles ever played one, though.

spacecraft 12:11 PM  

Yes. Well. Not much fun sussing out the theme--duh!--but the way their names LOLLOP (?) through the grid in GUITAR shape was impressive...sorta. I mean, everything's all right going down the neck, but as it breaks into the body we just have to suspend the rules for a moment and accept OJY, OHNLENN, GEHARRI and NONNOSI as legitimate entries (ORG could actually be used). I guess it's OK if you simply DON'T number the starting squares. Seems like a defect to me, though.

Sidebar theme entries were cooler; they actually integrated with the crosses! Though some of those crosses: yeesh! LOLLOP? RICEU??? C'mon, man. But those are just high--er, LOWlights of a long list of crap fill that really ERODEd most of the fun, so I ENJOYED it less.

Too, there are long strings of one-pointers: STATIST (more unloveliness), STREET/STRASSE, ASSENT/STASES. I liked the Beatles; especially after having my mind blown by the poignant YESTERDAY the first time I heard it. I thought: wow, these guys aren't just rockers, they have actual TALENT! And I just think they deserve a better product than this ERRATIC effort for their 50th tribute.

Speaking of YESTERDAY, I was absent because the puzzle took too much time and it ran into an appointment. I got the top half OK but the bottom scuttled me. Start me with a Wisconsin WAU_____ and I'll put in -KEgan in ink and never look back. Obscurities abounded. PALESTRINA? Who dat? And NEALE Greasy? No wait, is that backward? Either way, not being a Black Sox historian, he's the King of Obscurity to me. DNF the MAS.

Joshua 2:39 PM  

@Anonymous: If you mean "Bikini blast, informally" at 16D, Bikini Atoll was the site of a famous atomic bomb test, or A-TEST.

Joshua 3:06 PM  

Actually, I should have said that there were multiple A-TESTs at Bikini Atoll.

Anonymous 4:36 PM  

Insipid? The Beatles???
You appear to be a real nowhere man that needs Help

Dirigonzo 5:47 PM  

I liked it for all the reasons mentioned by @Z last week. YEMENI almost did me in because for too long I had pLASTIC as the band material and TYRONE wasn't exactly a gimme. I'm just glad 43 across was clued "___ectomy".

Dirigonzo 5:49 PM  

Of course I meant, "was NOT clued.."

Anonymous 6:00 PM  

I'm surprised at the grousing. When the major theme (the guitar shaped string of the names) breaks a big square into two vertical rectangles, there has to be a lot of short answers - ergo, easier fills.

To me that's much better than having a fill that runs the length/width of a puzzle, consisting of 4-5 words, with an ambiguous clue or some flip-flopping of letters within a common phrase (as in this week's (18th) puzzle.

I wonder how hard the author tried not to use the abused crosswordese fill of "ono" within this short word grid. At least "eel" didn't show up. ;-)

Solving in Seattle 7:04 PM  

For those out there that didn't like this tribute, I say Let ITBE and don't be an ATHOL. Jolly good puz, Charles.

THITHER kinda goes with THENCEFORTH. Thenceforth I will go thither.

121A - NONNOSI was my grandmother's nickname. Cool clue for 21A

Hope all you Eastern types are staying warm and dry.

Drat! another three sixes. @Diri, cue the TwiZone music.

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