Gossipy Barrett / THU 2-20-14 / Big mailer to over-50 crowd / Flooey lead-in / Golf Channel co-founder to fans / Polish-born musician who was awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel and Don Gagliardo

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: WOODROW (37A: First nam of a former president … or, read another way, what each of the circled lines is) — four "circled lines," each of which contains three words that can follow "Wood" in a common phrase/word:

Word of the Day: Arthur RUBINSTEIN (28D: Polish-born musician who was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom) —
Arthur RubinsteinKBE (January 28, 1887 – December 20, 1982) was a Polish-American classical pianist. He received international acclaim for his performances of the music written by a variety of composers and many regard him as the greatest Chopin interpreter of his time. He was described by The New York Times as one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century. He played in public for eight decades. (wikipedia)
• • •

This makes for an interesting visual gimmick, but not for an interesting solve. None of the theme answers are interesting. They're just plain words. So the grid has nothing going for it, from a solving perspective. Once you get WOODROW, then you know that the circled words follow "Wood," and then the end. "I DON'T BUY IT!" is a fine phrase—and the latter half of it was one of the few areas where I had to work to get the answer—but the grid is pretty dull otherwise.

Not much else to say. Blew through this in under 5. Main issue was remembering who the hell RUBINSTEIN was. The fact of someone's winning a Presidential Medal of Freedom is largely meaningless, from a solver's standpoint. It's not as if people keep track of such winners. It's a damn long list. Do you know who Russell Train was? Me either. He won one. Not diminishing him—seems like he did really important work. Just saying that winning this medal is not a significant datum from a solving perspective. [D.C.-born dancer who was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom] = CHITA RIVERA. See what I mean. Anyway, I completely forgot there was such a person as RUBINSTEIN, and so with RUBIN in place, I tried to stick RUBÉN BLADES in there. Yes, that really happened. Yes, BLADES is from Panama, his name's spelled RUBÉN (not RUBIN), *and* his name doesn't fit in the grid. And yet...

The end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:04 AM  

Easy for me too and another perfectly fine but kinda boring grid.  My only erasure was POPstar before DIVA (which was one of the few zippy answers).   The only WOE was die SINE which I now know means to adjourn without setting a date for the next meeting.  So, I learned something.  Solid puzzle but I'd like a bit more challenge/excitement on Thurs.

Anonymous 12:07 AM  

Rex basically stated the problem with putting most things in crosswords: there are a hell of a lot of talented nobodies.

Garth 12:09 AM  

I don't think it's hyperbole to say that Arthur Rubinstein was one of the most important classical musicians of the 20th century. Thus the clue, "Polish-born musician who was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom" was spot on and gave it away easily.

Had an all-time personal best for a Thursday. Easy puzzle. Pleasant diversion.

wreck 12:11 AM  
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wreck 12:13 AM  

I still want to know why Tuesday was
twice as hard as Thursday. Thursday was easy, but I didn't find it "boring."

Anonymous 12:28 AM  

RUBINSTEIN was one of the most famous (and widely recorded) classical pianists of the last century. He's about as far as you can get from a "talented nobody". For those who haven't heard of him: look him up, and maybe buy one if his CDs or download some of his stuff on iTunes. You won't regret it :)


Anonymous 12:35 AM  

Bach is famous. Mozart is famous. Beethoven is famous. Rubinstein is a nobody. Just ask your neighbours.

JTHurst 12:37 AM  

Thank you for the Tuesday puzzle on Thursday and please no vice versa puzzles. It would have been much easier if the INYT had put circles in our puzzle. Seven answers starting with As, Hmm. My major stumbling block was that I refused to give up my popstar answer even though I knew the desierto clue must be agua.

Garth 1:00 AM  
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Garth 1:06 AM  

Anonymous 12:35: I just asked my neighbors. They never heard of you

Anoa Bob 1:22 AM  

There are four ROWs of words that can precede WOOD. Kicks it up a notch, methinks.

My POC-meter pegged the needle at the TAROS ICES & WAWAS TATAS confluences. Continued to show after-shocks at ADOS, ICES, ORIGINALS, ONES, & STANCES. Your results may vary.

Anoa Bob 1:36 AM  

Make that follow WOOD.

Steve J 1:54 AM  

WOODROW made me think each entire row was supposed to be a cohesive phrase that was somehow tied to wood. CHIP STOCKPILE would be the only row that would conceivably make a coherent phrase, but as far as I know there are no casinos dealing in wood chips.

Not that missing the theme made this difficult. This timed like a long Tuesday for me. Makes sense, since the NYT ran a Thursday puzzle this week.

Agreed that the theme wasn't terribly interesting, nor was there much in the way of interesting fill (POP DIVA and I DON'T BUY IT were the lone bits of zip). There's some dodgy fill - A DIET and its clue combined to make one of the more awkward partials I've seen - but it didn't quite cross over into groan-worthy.

Verdict: Decent but drab.

OldCaFudd 1:59 AM  

The President was THOMAS Woodrow Wilson. If we have to dredge up the middle names of obscure Presidents (e.g. Abram), shouldn't the NYT at least get the first name of a famous President correct?

Steve J 2:02 AM  

@Anoa Bob: The dual plural crossings, I can see your point. The others you cited? The logical extension of your citing these as POCs is that you can never use a word that has an initial or internal S if it's at an edge. That's just daft, and extremely limiting to construction. And while they can be abused, plurals are indeed part of the language. Is there ever a circumstance where you don't view a plural as a crutch?

@Garth and MAS: I didn't read Rex's comment about RUBINSTEIN as being critical of his inclusion in the puzzle (I don't know him, but from what you both mention, he's clearly worth of late-week puzzle inclusion). It's just that the particular attribute cited in the clue - the medal - isn't going to do anything to lead people to the answer if he's not someone already at the tip of the solver's tongue. Other clues - such as something like "20th century Polish pianist" - would be more relevant, yet still challenging to a wide range of solvers.

Unknown 2:05 AM  

I managed to complete the grid with a variant solution. Again. Just over an hour. POPstar blocked CARVER for about 30 minutes.

Zapped = LAzED. Kind of place = ONEz. I'll take a dop-eslap for that.

But the following empty talk AIN'T so bad. It cORKed it for this cADEt. WAaA.
[Do the trick] cORK
[Got one's feet wet?] cADEt (USCGA in New London has cadets)
[Empty talk] aINt
[Jazz trumpet sounds] WAaAS

With the exception of LASED/ONES, I think I got it right and the constructor, Will, Rex, et al., got it wrong.

(Sometimes, you have to manufacture your own confidence I'd you are going to have any at all.)

Beyond that, it solved themeless. The WOODROW thing was useless and largely uninteresting.

retired_chemist 3:21 AM  

DNF - spelled it RUBeNSTEIN and ORe looked like a legit answer when I checked. Never saw the clue.

Easy Thursday. For once the theme helped the solve.

retired_chemist 3:22 AM  
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Anonymous 4:19 AM  

Really loved this puzzle. It gave me a woody.

mathguy 6:06 AM  

I agree with retired chemist. I was having trouble getting CHIP until I started thinking about a word to follow "wood." As a tennis player and a mathematician, liked seeing CLAYCOURT and COSET. Coset is not a well-known mathematical entity and is hard to define.

Anonymous 6:13 AM  

Steve J: my comment was (and I think Garth's was too) directed more at the anonymous commenter than Rex.


todnas 6:56 AM  

Has anyone ever used the "words" TATAS or WAWAS in the context in which they were clued? As an upside that cross brought us the stunning LASED and ADIET not to mention ONES. LORE, LORI, ORI, ORZO, AROAR, AGORA, AGUA, AARP. Really? But then again, AROAR did enable the stunning confluence of SLATER and KER. Best Thursday crossword in the world....

Glimmerglass 7:01 AM  

I also blew through this one. But I have to say that a lot of my first thoughts turned out to be correct, even though other same-length answers would existed (WAWAS, TATAS, COGENT, EVADE, etc.). Just lucky today, I guess. I had I DON'T agree, but I DON'T BUY IT is a much better choice.

jberg 7:52 AM  

Thirteen theme answers, symmetrically placed - no doubt a challenge to construct, and that seems to be what the NYT cares about. Worth a few KERs and ORIs? That's a matter of taste, I guess.

As for the POC issue, it's just a matter of how far you stretch it -- TATAs may be a stretch too far. Not as far as SLATER, though.

@Glimmerglass, me too for I DON'T agree.

Finally, RUBINSTEIN is famous enough for me -- but I thought Pink was a Jermyn Street shirtmaker who went global.

Rich 7:54 AM  

Woodrow wasn't Wilson's first name. It was Thomas.

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

Would someone please explain how "Kind of Place" clues to "Ones"? Thanks!

johnnymcguirk 8:10 AM  

Do you know who Jake Beckley is ? He is in the baseball Hall of Fame and I had never heard of him until 5 minutes ago. Therefore, any reference to the baseball Hall of Fame is irrelevant from a solver's standpoint. This blog has jumped the shark. Its author is looking for any petty issue to criticize. To Will Shortz: please keep doing what you're doing and don't listen to the haters.

Unknown 8:12 AM  

@anon 7:55. One's place, ten's place, hundred's place, etc., are names of the digits of a number in base 10. One's, eight's, sixty-four's in based 8.

@glimmerglass @jberg I also had IDONTAGREE for a long time before IDONTGETIT and finally IDONTBUYIT.

FWIW, I had OATYS For Cheerios, which gave me LYSED for zapped, which are also perfectly good.

FearlessKim 8:12 AM  

@Anon7:55: in the number 42, 4 is in the tens place and 2 is in the ones place.

Unknown 8:12 AM  

Puzzle was too easy for a Thursday. Theme left me saying "Yeah, well, ok..." Meh.

Loren Muse Smith 8:26 AM  
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Notsofast 8:26 AM  

Oh, hey, ESME; nice to see you again! But there was none of that Thursday trickery we've come to expect, so kinda disappointing.

Danp 8:27 AM  

With 52 circles and a revealer, I guess they won't need a note tomorrow explaining the theme. WIND and CUTTER were appropriate, though.

AliasZ 8:30 AM  

I found the theme quite interesting, mostly because Pres. Wilson's first name is Thomas. Thomas WOODROW Wilson. His mother's name was Jessie Janet WOODROW. True, in the mind of the average American WOODROW is considered his first name, just as RUBINSTEIN is considered a nobody. The clue for 37A therefore is factually incorrect. Facts, who cares? Just another day at the Gray Lady.

It would be interesting to start a series of puzzles playing on some less-than-common first/middle names of US presidents:

GROVER -- The letter pair GR placed on top of theme answers.
MILLARD -- chopped up ARD scattered across theme answers.
ABRAM -- Synonyms of RAM that start with the letters A-B.
BARACK -- words from which ACK is removed (e.g. BPER clued "Nature enthusiast") etc.

Back to WOOD ROW. I wonder how CC / Don would have clued woodpecker or woodcock. The theme could have been made zippier by cluing the WOOD ROWs as phrases:

1A: Stacks in front of a winner at Caesar's - CHIP STOCKPILE
26A: Box containing chisels - CARVER WORK BIN
43A: Flatulent male - MAN WIND CUTTER
63A: Structure for storing bicycles, say - LAND CRAFT SHED

To all those who do not find RUBINSTEIN at the same level of crossword worthiness as J Cole or Snoop Dogg, let me offer this visual comment.

Here is the beautiful Cello Concerto No. 2 in D minor by Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894), a Russian pianist, conductor, educator (he founded the Saint Petersburg Conservatory) and prolific romantic composer.

Now I get it. If there is not much to complain about the theme or the fill, let's complain that there is not much to complain about. Cool. This way we will never run out of things to complain about.

Enjoy your Thursday.

Mohair Sam 8:32 AM  

Maybe our fastest Thursday ever. No Wite-Out, no write-overs. But can't knock a puzzle just because Will Shortz put it in the paper a day late. The theme revealer was quick to get, and made the theme answers way too easy, but the cluing was fun. They kept the bad fill to a minimum, so much so that I won't complain about the hated ONES.

Old Rex is getting pounded over the head for not knowing much about RUBINSTEIN. Fun to watch. I do agree that the clue was strained - probably to avoid using the word piano which would have given many of us a 10 letter gimme.

Anyhow - T'was a fun Wednesday puzzle.

Loren Muse Smith 8:32 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 8:33 AM  

@jae – I'll go you one worse – I was thinking "rap diva" but had CHIP in place, so I carelessly had an accidental dnf with "pap diva." GGGGG

The biblum origamium reptilium part of my brain had me fill in, with zero hesitation, "crane" instead of CRAFT. And I can't even fold a damn crane.

I keep coming back to "wood pecker" and wondering about a clue. . . Maybe cross-reference it with SLANG somehow.

@mathguy – so no easy COGENT definition of a COSET?

PREDATORY – anyone else here high-tail it over to the other side of the mall when you spot one of those lotion-wielding guys at a kiosk?

@M&A and @Bob – wow. Yesterday was too hard for me. Got a few, but not nearly enough to finish. It elicited an EDAM and an EACH. Clever, though!! Keep'em coming!

CC is rapidly becoming a constructor whose name at the top has me rubbing my hands in anticipation. I thought the WOODROW-circles gimmick was really clever. How 'bout BARROW? OPEN, SISSY, SAND, HANDLE, MINI, WET, RAW, CASH, ENERGY, WINE, CANDY, CROW?

Don, CC – YAW made a good'un!

joho 8:57 AM  

I really enjoyed this one but agree with those who thought it too easy for a Thursday. The constructors had nothing to do with that. It's a really well constructed puzzle with a clever concept. Had this run on Tuesday I think it would have been applauded.

@Alias Z, love your cluing!

schmuzz 8:59 AM  

easy thursday for me, considering i filled it and achieved the happy pencil on the first try...

to be truthful, i did start with putt but it didn't last long....

and now since all this talk about the tuesday puzzle - i'll go and attempt it! didn't have the time two days ago ((((((and it's a david steinberg))))))))

Nancy 9:09 AM  

I look forward to Thursdays for their cleverness and challenge. This had neither. Much, much too easy and, yes everyone, boring.

Ludyjynn 9:26 AM  

@Alias Z, Your visual had me AROAR w/ laughter. To quote Rod Stewart, "every picture tells a story, don't it?"

The clue and response for 28D was gettable, even for my neighbors!

Z 9:29 AM  

I think I have discovered someone more annoying than an anonymouse... a solipsist anonymouse. "I never heard of you so you're a nobody." Sigh.

@cascokid san - "complete(d) the grid with a variant solution." Been there. Done that. LOVE the new description.

Challenging here, but purely because of the solver, not the puzzle. Didn't get a toehold until RONA, and then had to work my way out of that corner. Finally getting WOODROW off of the terminal W made the shaded answers much easier. (And let me insufferably repeat - the shaded grid is so much more pleasant to look at than the circled grid). ROB for "Mug, e.g." never did click because I was locked into a facial answer.

Speaking of facial answers, most of the time the complaints about the "inaccuracies" in the clues belie a lack of flexibility in the mind of the complainer. Today, the editor did a Slopestyle face plant on the revealer clue. Oops.

Three writeovers here, RUBeNSTEIN (hey - I post B-52 videos and I've still of him), do or die, and trash caN. "...ORe go!" made no sense but it took me a few seconds. SINE die clicked after I had the S and E, which made INANE obvious. I had fun.

Questinia 9:38 AM  

@lms, I'll go you one worser, I had rapstar thinking, "Oh, Zhouquin doesn't know that Pink is a POP star".

Like @ Steve J, I thought the words were supposed to make a cohesive phrase. Until I got here.

My neighbors Ed and Peggy Philistine have no idea who RUBINSTEIN is so anonymous is absolutely correct.

Ludyjynn 9:41 AM  

One more thing--Constructors could have really irked/pleased folks by clueing 28D as: the Tony Award winning son of Polish-American classical pianist. That would be Jon Rubinstein, in case your neighbors never heard of him, either.

John V 9:52 AM  

Rubinstein is famous. Not sure about the clue, however, but any exposure to classical piano music will have you knowing about him. His Chopin, in particular, is unparalleled.

So, we have a grid that spans Pink to Rubinstein. I knew both, one of whom passes my breakfast test. @Rex, Google Rubinstein Chopin Mazurkas you tube, please.

I found the grid interesting, particularly the longer downs, 11D, 27D (again), 42D, etc.

My big writeover, 26A George Washington, wanted BRIDGE, which would have worked, i.e WOODbridge, NJ.

A fun Thursday from aN LAT team! HEAR HEAR!

chefbea 9:53 AM  

No time to read all the comments. Will do that later. Can someone explain why the answer to 57 across is ones??? Has to do with math??

Easy puzzle

quilter1 9:59 AM  

There's a POPDIVA called Pink? Actually I surprised myself by knowing that. I kind of liked the puzzle, jam packed with words in general use that can follow WOOD and create mental images. Fun and easy but enjoyable.

Lawprof 10:03 AM  

If I'd never heard of Artur Rubinstein, I'd sure as hell never admit it.

JTHurst 10:21 AM  

Your puzzle had circles and a theme revealer. No wonder it was an easy solve.

Junief 10:22 AM  

LOVED the visual comment. I play the piano and adore Rubinstein. I enjoyed this puzzle!!!

chefbea 10:31 AM  

Just realized…this was a puzzle in my honor. Too bad there wasn't a clue Beet lover…and the answer would be Barbara

JTHurst 10:34 AM  

@questina, Well if your neighbors the Philistines have never heard of Artur then there is need to ask my neighbors, the Maccabees. So Anonymous must be correct.

Sandy K 10:43 AM  

This puzzle was OKIE-dokie for me.
No problem with WOODROW- he's known as WOODROW Wilson.

Loved the three genres of music represented by RUBINSTEIN, Paul ANKA, and Pink- the POP DIVA.

My neighbors are more likely to have only heard of Artur. They play classical. Sorry about that @Rex.

The longer answers were pretty impressive- PREDATORY, I DON'T BUY IT, ORIGINALS, CLAY COURT, RUBINSTEIN, ETC. I liked WADing thru them.

pmdm 10:46 AM  

Those uninterested in a given field usually lack a certain knowledge of past persons of renown in that field. Unless you are interested in art, you probably would not be aware of a painter as famous as Monet, and I suspect that (sadly) a majority of people in this country would not recognize that name. One only need watch a show like Jeopardy! to be reminded how many very smart people lack rudimentary knowledge in fields they are not interested in, particularly a field involving a specific genre of music.

The rant about familiarity with lesser-knowns who received Presidential Medals of Freedom misses the hidden meaning of the clue. True, the clue could have been worded "Polish born classical pianist" but on a Wednesday the cluing should be a bit trickier. So the fact that Rubinstein was awarded the medal is totally irrelevant. What the clue really says is this: Polish born musician, probably involved with classical music, who some time in the past gained notoriety in the United States. From there, if you have some knowledge of classical music, you would have been able to, especially with some crosses, easily come up with the correct answer.

If you ask anyone who likes classical music "Who are the greatest interpreters of the music of Chopin" most would probably put Rubinstein at the top of the list. (I would put Brailowsky at the top of my list, a pianist who is all but forgotten.) So calling Rubinstein a nobody seems to be a problematic statement born from limited experience in the field of music. I am happy that other above comments have already taken issue with the complaints.

One of the less attractive characteristics of the world of blogs is the tendency of those posting comments to be very critical when something departs from the world they are comfortable with. Of course, they gravitate to blogs in which others reinforce their complaints. One of the better characteristics of this blog is the opposing viewpoints that are posted.

For those who are interested, a few brief words about the pianist. In the years between the world wars, he did some work for Hollywood and was known somewhat of a womanizer. He has a wide-ranging repertoire, but is was in the music of Chopin that he really stood out. His interpretation of Chopin is perhaps best described as elegant, facile, and simple. He eschewed the wild tempo fluctuations and fussiness many romantic pianist made as their calling cards. In later life, he suffered from the shingles which caused him to go blind, but he still continued to perform after he lost his sight. Because he stopped recording before the digital era, his recordings are seldom played today by the limited number of classical music radio stations still broadcasting. Those who enjoy the romantic piano literature and enjoy emotional interpretations that seek to avoid excess should seek out his recordings.

Steve J 10:55 AM  
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dk 10:55 AM  

🌕🌕 (2 Moons) I want to be a real boy...

Pinocchio here and although I got WOOD as any reference to TETON will do it… err wait I am a puppet and I always got…. never mind.

I had IDONTSEEIT and that blinded me to the easy fill of BIN and YAW. lengthened my solve time considerably.

Looks like LENO and ESME are our puzzle pals.

Carola 10:57 AM  

I was inwardly CLAPping for this puzzle pretty much all the way through, and was surprised when the crowd here wasn't all AROAR with admiration. I thought the theme was an ORIGINAL take on the "word that can precede" idea because of the (genius) ROW addition and got a kick out of all the combinations. Loved RUBINSTEIN, I DON'T BUY IT, PREDATORY and the clue for CARVER. Thought the flooey-preceder KER was very funny. Liked LADLE under STOCK (the kind in the pot on your stove).

Steve J 11:00 AM  

@MAS (and by extension, @Garth): You're right: I conflated the anonymouse's comments with Rex's comments, creating a straw man response. My apologies. (And you're both right: I personally don't know RUBINSTEIN - how, I don't know, other than my knowledge of performers is nowhere near up to par - but I completely agree that just because he isn't as famous as some other figures, he's hardly a "nobody".)

One thing missed in all the discussion about RUBINSTEIN: Even if you don't know him, the entry was very well-crossed. All of the crosses were easily gettable, even at the one tricky part where many people are apt to spell it Ruben... rather than Rubin... . You don't have to know him to get him. Which is a good thing.

C'mon man 11:06 AM  

@pdmd - People know more about things that they're interested in than things they're not interested in? Check.

"Presidential Medal of Freedom" was an Olaf ( "Norwegian King who [insert useless, arcane specification here"]) Check. Kind of explained in the writeup. No one seriously (Life's better if one reads outrageous comments with an eye towards seeing the joke rather than seeing the insulting) said RUBINSTEIN was uncrossworthy.

RUBINSTEIN isn't played much because he recorded on vinyl? Amazon shows over 2100 Rubinstein recordings on digital media. There are probably many dupes, but I'm sure a radio station could find something, no?

RnRGhost57 11:10 AM  

Awesome comments.

@AliasZ, you made my day.

@Questinia, ROFL "Ed and Peggy Philistine"

GILL I. 11:24 AM  

@Questinia I bet Ed and Peggy know the Barbarous family...Speaking of...I suppose I was the only idiot here to plop in ZUBIN Mehta. Yes, I know he's Indian born and I didn't really read the clue very well [sigh] still, this was an enjoyable romp.
Like @Carola I thought how ORIGINAL except maybe for WAWAS TATAS. I have a vision of Barbara Walters in a halter top.
Well, I do agree Tue. and Thur. should have been switched...Let's see what tomorrow may bring.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 11:43 AM  

@muse: har. That's better than an EDAY-UM, I suppose. Taught me a lesson, tho. If half yer puz is weirdball themers with the ?'s on their clues, U gotta back off a mite, or you'll fricassee the solvers. May now have to rethink my Nat-tick-themed puz...
But I digress.

Wood. A smooth, soothin theme, by contrast. Planed and simple. Gnarly, dude. Knot kiddin. Well dones, to C.C. and Don. Too bad there ain't no Presidents called FURROW; that'd make a dandy sequel followup puz.

fave weejects: UNE and UNI. Honorable mention to ORI. But the Kiddie Pool Krosswords (tm) would have to find that last weeject a nice, new, double-?? clue, of course. Stay tuned.

Wanted ICANTSEEIT. Then IDONTSEEIT. Lost valuable nanoseconds, wantin that.

Woodst thou digress,
Perchance to dream. . .

Rob C 11:57 AM  

There was an article that appeared in The Atlantic a few years ago entitled "How Will Shortz Edits a NY Times Crossword Puzzle". It walks thorough the process. In the discussion on the clues, it mentions that "the constructor's clue for 1 Across (WEEB) was simply 'Coach Ewbank'—perfectly fine—but I (Will Shortz)thought there would be some solvers who didn't know who Ewbank is, so I added the words 'who led the Jets to a Super Bowl III Championship.' That way, if you don't know the name, you'll learn something."

Perhaps Will S was doing the same thing with the facts in the RUBENSTEIN clue.

So Rex's comment that it didn't help the solve is probably true, but perhaps it wasn't the reason for including those facts in the clue?

Based on the comments, some solvers seemed to have learned something from the clue, while others don't quite seem to appreciate their newfound knowledge.

dick swart 12:02 PM  

Rubinstein could not have been more clearly clued.

In fact, the cluing was more interesting than the fill!

Noam D. Elkies 12:06 PM  

Flaming 28D:RUBINSTEIN, really?! Much better a Presidential Freedom Medalist than one of the hundreds of Hall of Famers or weekly #1 hits that litter the grid these days. Talk about meaningless lists that are pointless to memorize!

As a mathematician I'm of two minds about the 24A:COSET clue, because technically a coset is not usually a group (the exception is called a "trivial coset"). But yes, it's a hard word to clue properly. An example of a coset is the odd numbers, which are a coset of the group of even numbers. Another pair of examples: the Winter Olympics years (4n+2) and Inauguration years (4n+1) are cosets of US Presidential election years (4n).


mac 12:09 PM  

Easy-medium Thursday, but I did have to start in the middle since "putt" didn't seem to fit at 1A. Figuring out the theme helped me in that corner, since I also wanted rap diva for Pink.

I know both Arturo and his actor son, but I learned today that pere was Polish; I always thought he was from the USSR.

All in al, an enjoyable solve this morning.

jburgs 12:18 PM  

My knowledge of classical music is limited more or less to Bugs Bunny and Crossword clues. But I do remember a fine documentary some years back about a classical pianist having an emotional return to perform in his home country after many years away. Would this have been Rubenstein? Now that I write this, I think it was a Russian. Could it have been Rochmaninoff(sorry about spelling)?

Dick Swart 12:30 PM  

Also … INRE: One's place

Hear Tom Lehrer's 'New Math'.


Melodious Funk 12:41 PM  

What a terrific series of posts here. Questinia in particular mentioned her neighbor Peggy Phillistine. It put me in mind of what I read last night in The New Yorker. It was a piece about atheism and a bit of flippery from Mel Brooks' 2000 Year Old Man was quoted:

Mel Brooks’s 2000 Year Old Man, asked to explain the origin of God, admits that early humans first adored “a guy in our village named Phil, and for a time we worshipped him.” Phil “was big, and mean, and he could break you in two with his bare hands!” One day, a thunderstorm came up, and a lightning bolt hit Phil. “We gathered around and saw that he was dead. Then we said to one another, ‘There’s something bigger than Phil!’ ”

Brooks didn't pull that name from the air without some nudge from The Book. Quite apt in his way, off the cuff, adlib.

Whatevah, AliasZ wonderful stuff. And WAWA'S TATAS! Wahahaha! I hope my pants dry before dinner. I need to take a pill and lie down...

Numinous 1:07 PM  

I loved seeing ESME again today, she has terriffic TATAS (is it ok to discuss TETONs in this blog?).

@todnas, as a music editor for television cartoons, I've attended hundreds of music scoring sessions. I've heard WAWAS discussed frequently. I'll admit that they aren't a frequent topic of everyday conversation for Ed and Peggy, but they do come up.

@pmdm and @C'mon man, my classical music station plays Arthur RUBINSTEIN almost daily and he was even the "Artist of the Day" just recently on Dennis Bartell's Morning Show. Just like every other radio format, my classical radio station has a morning and an afternoon drive. Too bad I don't live in that city any more so I get them three hours late but, thanks to the internet, I get them.

Oh, yeah, I'm supposed to mention the puzzle. I found it disappointing in its easiness for a Thursday. Finished in half my usual time for a T day. Not one single write-over. I didn't really grok the theme until after the fact but that didn't bother me. My inner 14 year-old loved the bra busting in spite of the cluing. I'd have been happier with this yesterday, I think the theme is too good for a Tuesday.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

An interesting puzzle. Interesting in the sense of thought-provoking, not interesting to solve. I can see why the constructors thought this would be a good theme. It has a few layers, all of which seem great - reinterpreting/reparsing a base phrase, shaded squares, and a unique placement of theme answers (with each set of theme answers occupying a whole row).

However, it was a complete drag to solve. Nothing outside of the long downs is remotely interesting, theme included. 65 of the 78 entries are 3-5 letters long, and many of the long entries are wasted real estate, presumably because of thematic restrictions (STANCES, GOING OVER, etc.). And although the theme is sort of cool, it provides no joy in solving. It's an after-the-fact "huh" at best. In the meantime, it's a bunch of super-boring words, that kinda have something to do with wood (a very boring word). Yawn.

I'm torn. I like the core concept, but maybe it's just too flawed to execute in an engaging way.

Numinous 1:13 PM  

I hope Will doesn't get his Shortz in a twist because we're GOING OVER his choices of days the puzzles should appear this week.

Anoa Bob 1:25 PM  

@Steve J, I think most plurals in xword puzzles are there because they make it easier to fill the grid. It's similar to how "S" tiles in Scrabble make it easier to build and connect words on the board.

How much POCs influence my opinion of a puzzle's quality depend on what kind they are and how many times they appear in a grid.

I have elsewhere (POC) elaborated on this and have included this link in several previous comments on plurals of convenience.

If you read those remarks and still think ad hominem pop shots such as having lost perspective, wandered into the absurd, and being daft, are still warranted, sobeit.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

@NYTimes - In case you hadn't noticed, Venezuela is in the midst of a civil war, and pretty much the entire country is on fire. Maybe bump the live-blogging of the Woman's Finals?

Two Ponies 1:44 PM  

I have to confess that I only skimmed the long clue to 28D (skipping pretty much everything beyond Polish) and got the answer totally from the crosses. When I was done I wondered who
Rubin Stein was! Duh!
I do know the pianist, however.
The days do seem a jumble this week.

Lewis 1:53 PM  

This was not a walk in the park for me. The cluing seemed tricky to me. And Rubenstein's is with incredible sensitivity, and he has the perfect piano hands.

Lewis 1:54 PM  

That is, HAD the perfect piano hands.

Grammophone 2:02 PM  

@jburgs -

I believe you're thinking of Vladimir Horowitz.

Classical music brings out the passion here. First DOLCE, and now RUBINSTEIN.

retired_chemist 2:25 PM  

Dashboard Dictionary definition of COSET:

coset |ˈkōˌset|
a set composed of all the products obtained by multiplying each element of a subgroup in turn by one particular element of the group containing the subgroup.

I don't even understand this but I think it is not consistent with NDE's explanation. I'm betting on NDE - or maybe they are the same and he can explain it to us.

Anonymous 2:58 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 2:59 PM  

coset |ˈkōˌset|
a set composed of all the products obtained by multiplying each element of a subgroup in turn by one particular element of the group containing the subgroup.

That's the way I've always understood it!

Steve J 3:47 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve J 3:51 PM  

@Anoa Bob: I don't want to belabor this, because it is a side issue, but I said the argument, extended to its logical conclusion, becomes daft. There was no ad hominmen attack, from my perspective. There was certainly none intended.

I already outlined why I think that the argument leads to constraints that are too limiting, and I am genuinely curious if there's ever a circumstance where you don't view a plural as a compromise of some degree. I'm also over my quota for the day, and this really is turning into debating how many S's can dance on the head of a pin, so I'm signing off for the day and on this point.

sanfranman59 4:07 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 12:17, 18:35, 0.66, 4%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 8:01, 10:36, 0.76, 10%, Easy

Shaw 4:46 PM  

Re. COSET, Another mathematician here. I am not of two minds about the clue: it's just wrong! Whether or not it's hard to clue, we shouldn't settle for just wrong.

In my mind there are two categories of solver here: 1. one who knows at least a modicum of group theory, and 2. one who doesn't. Being in category 1, I thought I knew the answer immediately with one crossing letter, but I refused to write it until I got all the crosses because I thought I had to be wrong. Alas. However, someone in category 2 probably won't really be helped by the clue anyway!

Solution: make the clue a little less specific. Coset = "Particular subset of a mathematical group" or something. Anyone from cat. 2. that knew it before would know it now, and people in cat. 1. will remain unperturbed.

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

........ I hope everyone knows I was just kidding about my knowledge of COSET! ;)

Z 5:37 PM  

Not a mathematician here, but if Dictionary.com isn't a good enough source for a word puzzle, how about Princeton? "This is also the only coset that is a subgroup" is certainly sufficient to make the clue technically correct from a mathematical usage. Sorting through the description suggested to me that the mathematicians are suffering from too much knowledge. For comparison, one might argue that crimson, burgundy, chestnut, and scarlet are all different colors but they are all still "red." If I'm painting my bedroom I want to make sure I know the difference, but if I'm cluing a puzzle none of them are "wrong." Actually, I'd appreciate it if a mathematician would share a coset that isn't also a subgroup, because all the examples I've seen so far today seem to be of cosets that are also subgroups (making me disbelieve the "only") - at least subgroups in the non-mathematical sense of a group that includes some, but not all, of the members of a different group.

M and Also 5:39 PM  

re: COSET = "Particular subset of a mathematical group". Probably inadvisable, since both clue and answer have "set". That's kind of a no-no, in crosswordland.

I get that the "Math subgroup" clue would get one hooted out of the Abstract Algebra class, tho. Maybe they coulda used "collection derived from a mathematical group"; assuming group theory hasn't come up with some special gizmo, with the name "collection"?

What about (WOOD)MAN? I've heard of woodSman, but woodman is new to m&e. Not that I'm complainin about learnin new things. Or relearnin, in coset's case.

"Want some fiberglass for that?"
"No thanks. I'm a wood man."

Closet coset admirer,

Agora Coset Mans 6:14 PM  

Agree with @joho 8:57 am (and my therapist)...
It's ALL about expectations.
Had this been placed on a Tuesday, it would have gotten much more praise for denseness of theme fill, an interesting reveal and a few stand out phrases.

Rubinstein with an i is more unusual. I think it's interesting to have led @GillIP to guess zUBINmehta.
Most folks think he's Jewish not Indian because of his connection with Israel.

I think Rob C @11:57am. Correctly surmised why it was clued this way. Those who knew could have an extra moment of appreciation for RUBINSTEIN, those who did not would learn something.

I applaud CC/DON for having the full octave of PInk to RUBINSTEIN.

No TATAS comment?!!?

Noam D. Elkies 7:02 PM  

@retired_chemist, @wreck: yes, my examples are special cases; it's just that for commutative groups like the integers we usually write the group operation as "+" rather than "×". For the odd numbers, the group is the set of all even integers; shifting by the single integer 1 gives the set of all odd integers. For the Inauguration and Winter Olympics cosets, the group is all multiples of 4, and the shift is by 1 or 2 respectively.


Garth 7:11 PM  

@Steve J: Apology accepted (not that the issue was going to keep me up at night).

Anonymous 8:12 PM  

Funny, when I saw Woodrow and looked at the clue saying: read another way, I interpreted it as Wood. word, repeating D. Guess I was the only one to see it that way.

M and A Help Desk 8:13 PM  

G is the group of all integers with the + operator.
H is the subgroup of all integers evenly dividable by 5 and also using the + operator.
gH is the members of H, with 1 added to them. gH is a perfectly good coset of H in G.

So H is stuff like 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, and so on.
And coset gH has stuff like 1, 6, 11, 16, 21, and whatnot.
If gH is also gonna be a subgroup, members of gH added together will have to still be members of gH. But 6 + 11 = 17, which isn't in gH.
So gH is a coset, but not a subgroup.

I may be full of beans, but I think that's how it all works.
But, as always, no refunds.

foxaroni 8:30 PM  

Okay, I cry UNCLE (in a manner of speaking). The puzzle construction is attributed to Zhouquin Berniquel and Don Gagliardo. So who is "CC"?

Z 8:37 PM  

@foxaroni - Ms. Burnikel goes by "CC" in most other publications of her puzzles.

@M&A - Thx.

Unknown 9:11 PM  

I thought it was a struggle,but I finished in close to half my average Thurs, so, easy. N section was slow to yield. AROAR? Seriously?

Bob Kerfuffle 9:17 PM  

I did this puzzle at the end of a long, busy day. (Gotta look for some excuse.) As sometimes happens, I had a very hard time getting any traction, but I did eventually work my way up from SE to NW. No point specifying difficulties; the fault was not in the puzzle but in myself.

But isn't COSET "Little girl in Les Miz?" :>)

George Barany 9:27 PM  

@foxaroni: Click here to learn a bit more about C.C. , which may or may not stand for "Crossword Corner." Fascinating background, with this being her 8th NYT puzzle already despite having been constructing only since 2010.

sanfranman59 10:02 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 6:12, 6:15, 0.99, 44%, Medium
Tue 11:44, 8:18, 1.41, 100%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 219 Tuesdays)
Wed 10:21, 10:21, 1.00, 50%, Medium
Thu 12:27, 18:35, 0.67, 4%, Easy (9th lowest ratio of 217 Thursdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:15, 3:59, 1.07, 80%, Challenging
Tue 6:46, 5:14, 1.29, 98%, Challenging (5th highest ratio of 219 Tuesdays)
Wed 6:22, 6:19, 1.01, 54%, Medium
Thu 7:39, 10:36, 0.72, 6%, Easy (12th lowest ratio of 217 Thursdays)

Debby Weinstein 10:20 PM  

It's from math...ones, tens, hundreds, thousands, etc.

OISK 10:29 PM  

There are really people who think Mehta is Jewish? Rubinstein was a gimmee, although I had to change the e to an i like many others. Never heard of "Pink" the pop diva. I'd have preferred this clue, "Renee Fleming doing a Pepsi commercial?" but that preference is probably not shared by many. Easy solve for me, no complaints, but surely there are better clues for "Slater." if we are tired of "Christian," how about the lovely Helen? (Guest in a favorite Seinfeld episode…"You're so good looking…")

Stuart 11:45 PM  

Sorry, but as a Math Professor, I have to note that the clue
24 Across "math subgroup" with answer
"coset" is not correct. Cosets
are sets related to subroups in
the theory of groups, but they are
not neccessarily subgroups.

Can't help it- I remember only one
other mathematics (at a sort of
professional level) clue over the
last years- it had answer Erdos,
for Paul Erdos who wrote the most
mathematical papers in the 20th
century and for which the notion
of "Erdos number" is named.

As it was said in "Good Will
Hunting", the mathematician most
known to the world (at the time)
was the Unibomber, so we'll take
anything we can get in the mass

So I'm happy to see something in mathematics in the puzzle,
but it would be nice to get the details right. The puzzle writers get a C- for that clue :-).

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

I am glad someone commented that a coset is not generally a subgroup.

Anonymous 11:47 PM  

I don't understand why ORI is the answer to "...___go! I kept wanting to put in SET.

Z 2:55 AM  

Stop your complaining OR I go.

spacecraft 10:16 AM  

Let me guess. The constructors saw that they had LORI, ORI and ORIGINALS in the grid, so they impishly continued the mini-theme in the clue for CRAFT: "Origami."

An even more obvious mini-theme didn't draw comment so far: CHIP (as clued), ARNIE, STANCE--as well as the entire main theme: wood! Too bad they couldn't make CUTTER into putter!

I find this both densely-themed and cleverly revealed. To me that's enough to generate its own "excitement." Not sure what all the commenters who thought it "dull" want. What DO you want? Long stacks? A few "WOW!" answers, often at the expense of junk fill? Clues that bend you around three corners?

Yes, this was a little on the easy side for a Thursday--but give me well done at any strength over tough but crappy. Z&D: pay no attention to the babblings above. You get double thumbs up from this MAN.

Ouch, @Diri! You handed me a bad beat yesterday with those higher quads. I'll try again today with 33388. Nothing to raise with, but I will call.

Solving in Seattle 2:49 PM  

@Diri, hope you have a lot of fire WOOD to ride out the Noreaster. Stay warm and safe.

For 11D IDONTagree before BUYIT.

Can anyone explain how ONES is a "Kind of place"? Just not parsing it.

Had some delicious pork lau lau with TARO leaves, wrapped in ti leaf, during our vacation in Hawaii. Steamed TARO leaf looks and tastes like spinach.

Enjoyed your puz Z&D.

Not that anyone cares, but I'm skipping the Realtime posts these days in the interest of time. All I read is Rex's writeup and what's going on in Syndyland. Carpe diem.

Dirigonzo 3:38 PM  

Since all of the TATAS and TETON remarks were done to death by the primers I'll just add that my favorite clues were for POPDIVA and CARVER - loved that cross!

@SiS - me too for IDONTagree. And since you had the good sense to come directly here and missed all the earlier explanations, think "place" place as in ONES, tens, hundreds, etc. as you move to the left of the decimal point. The blizzard by-passed my section of syndiland, not sure how @Waxy's homeland fared.

@spacey - I guess with only two small pairs I'd better fold.

DMG 4:21 PM  

Took a bit to get started on this one, but the only hang up was with the George Washinsgton clue, initial,crosses left me with _A__ER. Toyed with fAthER, but he wasn't, except in the "of our country" sense. Then the R fell, and I made him a fARmER. To top it off, when I did get CARVER, I was surprised to learn that President GW whittled! Then minutes later, "Oh, GW Carver". What can I say.

@Sis: I understand why you jump the multitudinous day-of posts, but I think you're missing a lot of what this blog has to offer. Just read what interests you. Today I skipped a lot, but learned that Woodrow was not the president's first name, and sat in on an interesting, to me, discussion of COSETS. Tomorrow, who knows?

Four 8's.

Waxy in Montreal 4:38 PM  

@Diri, Atlantic Canada really took it on the chin - one of the worst winters (and springs) ever there - but thankfully the blizzard bypassed us in central Canada.

ESME, ESME, LENO, LENO - OKIE, get RIDOF them please or I'm GOINGOVER to the LA Times!

Nice to see ARNIE looking so hale and hearty on TV last weekend at his tournament. Fifty years after his prime, he's still the MAN!

3 3s and a pair of 9s?

Waxy in Montreal 4:41 PM  

@DMG, I fold.

GILL I. 10:11 PM  

@SIS...Well, ahem...I read all of you, and, frankly, a lot of you tend to act like we don't.... (I bet I had too many commas)....
Don't give up on us!!!!
@Diri: I don't play poker but I have 99998. Do I win something?

Dirigonzo 10:18 AM  

@Gil I.P. - There is, I think, nor can there be, ever, you know, no such thing as, what you call, anyway, too many commas, and I hope you'll agree, maybe? It does appear that your 4 nines are the high hand for this comment thread so your name will be enshrined in the Syndi-Poker Pot Hall of Fame - congratulations!

GILL I. 11:59 AM  

@Diri...Yay - I want a free packet of Soup for Sluts...;-)

Blade 12:58 PM  

"I don't get it." Yes. "I'm not buying it." Yes. "I don't buy it." Weird usage, as if by a non-native speaker unfamiliar with American idioms.

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