Media icon with eponymous Starbucks beverage / THU 5-29-14 / Afflictions known technically as hordeola / Facetious words of understanding / Where Macbeth Malcolm Duncan are buried / Hillary Clinton wardrobe staples / Writer with most combined Tony and Oscar nominations / The Sphinx's is bland pitiless as sun per Yeats

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Constructor: Anna Shechtman

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: SHARP —theme clues all contain the symbol their answers describe … it's hiding there in plain sight, as a simple number sign (i.e. "#")

Theme answers:
  • 20A: #1 (TIC TAC TOE BOARD)
  • 33A: #2 (POUND SIGN)
  • 43A: #3 (SPACE MARK) — that's an "insert space" editing mark, in case that wasn't clear
Word of the Day: PAULO Coelho (15A: "The Alchemist" novelist ___ Coelho) —
Paulo Coelho (Portuguese: [ˈpawlu kuˈeʎu]; born August 24, 1947), is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist. […] He is the recipient of numerous international awards, amongst them the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum. The Alchemist, his most famous novel, has been translated into 80 languages. The author has sold 150 million copies worldwide. (wikipedia)
• • •

Just had the biggest "Ohhhhhhhh…" moment I've had in a long time. "Ohhhhhhhh…" moments are different from "aha" moments in that they are belated—moments of awareness that come not in the heat of battle, but afterwards, when you're staring at a puzzle going "… huh … I must be missing something." It was only when I began to type out the theme clues that I noticed the "#" symbol appeared in the clues themselves. My brain was just going "number one, number two …", never registering that the theme clues had always contained the image the theme answers were describing. So for that quite distinct and vaguely pleasant "Ohhhhhhhh…" moment (that's 8 h's btw), I give this puzzle a moderate thumbs-up.

I know Anna and am in a reading group with Anna and she disagreed with something I said about George Eliot earlier this week so I considered taking this opportunity to exact some petty passive-aggressive vengeance, but then reconsidered. I was oddly in tune with this puzzle and its cluing. I have this vague, completely unsupported theory that knowing someone personally, even in the most limited way, makes you better able to solve that person's puzzles. I mean, Brad Wilber used to give me fits. Now he's my friend and I *own* his puzzles (in that they now take me just an eternity instead of an eternity x 2). Feel free to test this theory for yourself. I'm sure Brad would love the attention. But back to Anna's puzzle—for me, there was an equal mix of frowny and smiley face where the fill was concerned. There were some grimace-inducing patches, mainly in the center north (from AAND across EPEES to ELEE and including INREM). TREN, TELEO, AS BIG, ISAO, ORAS, AHSO … these all gave me various feelings of uncomfortableness. But those long Downs are hard to resist, particularly BUBBLE WRAP, WHERE IT'S AT, and GAY ANTHEM. And there's even fantastic shorter stuff like HELL NO and SHTUP (!), the latter of which I wrote in immediately, certain it would be wrong but wanting to write it into the grid anyway. So despite the grimaces, I enjoyed myself.

Coincidences: I used both SCENARIO and RUBE in separate tweets (SANS TWITTER HASHTAG) just minutes before solving this puzzle. I had an OPRAH Chai Tea Latte last weekend (Wife: "What's the difference between the Oprah and the regular Chai Tea Latte?" Server: "Oprah is spicier.") (25D: Media icon with an eponymous Starbucks beverage). My STYE of EPICNESS is almost gone now, so that's not really much of a coincidence, really.

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. "Ohhhhhhhh…" is to be said with a tone of slowly dawning realization, not orgasmically.
P.P.S. if you liked this puzzle, you really, really have to do this one (by one Mr. N. Fogarty). I mean it.


jae 12:17 AM  

Tough Thurs. for me.  Maybe I'm just dense tonight but like @Rex it took me a long time to realize that the clues were looking for # meanings.  D'oh!  Once I finally caught on it went pretty smoothly except for the middle north where EPICNESS, PAULO, and EURO (this one I should have known immediately) remained elusive for far too long.   Plus I was looking for a rebus when Nate Silver wouldn't fit 64 across and SHack UP wouldn't work for 36a.  

So, fantastic zippy Thurs. with more than enough crunch for me.  This one had me at GAY ANTHEM (I highly recommend The Normal Heart now playing on HBO), but when you TOSS in EPICNESS, HELL NO, WHERE IT'S AT, SHTUP, the FONZ....just wow!

Moly Shu 12:20 AM  

Was ready to agree with @Rex on the awfulness of this puzzle, but the constructor is a friend of his, so.....

C'mon, INREM, AAND, NEUE. ORAS, SHTUP, ESTO, TREN, TELEO, ISAO, ESPN. That's pretty bad stuff, not to mention SPACEMARK. I'm not well read or educated, I've never heard SPACEMARK. Maybe that one is on me.

Did like BUBBLEWRAP, one of my first entries, and the FONZ. The rest? UGH. Daddy no likey

wreck 12:28 AM  

I wanted to like it because it really had me scratching my head to trying to figure out the theme. I thought I had it (a play on the # sign), but then SPACEMARK had me flummoxed. There was some good fill, but way too much dreck overall. Not overly enjoyable for my taste.

Keldy23 12:32 AM  


Mark 12:35 AM  

Kept wanting to fit octothorpe in somewhere

Steve J 1:00 AM  

Loved the theme. Didn't have the oooooh (or aha) moment until read Rex's writeup and noted the # was right in the clues. I completely missed that. Makes the theme that much better.

Lots of fill I really liked: BUBBLE WRAP, GAY ANTHEM, WHERE IT'S AT, HELL NO, SHTUP.

Unfortunately, there was a lot of really ungainly fill along side the great stuff. No need to enumerate it, as it's largely been covered already.

Plus, 62A bugged me. Twins don't share UTERI. They share one uterus. If we're talking multiple, unrelated twins .. well, it still doesn't work.

Highly mixed bag, this one. Good outweighed the bad for me, but by a narrow margin.

@Moly Shue: In copy editing/proofreading, you use a # sign to indicate where a space needs to be inserted. Hence SPACEMARK. Well, really, SPACE(#)MARK, since that should be two words.

(Meanwhile, Starbucks has a beverage named after OPRAH?!?! As if I needed more reasons never to set foot in one. Although, Starbucks' horribly over-roasted coffee was already more than reason enough to completely avoid them.)

Josh 1:03 AM  

I also didn't figure out that # sign in the clues for a while, but after I got "tictactoeboard" I noticed that the grid was shaped like one (more or less) which got me the theme. I had "sharpmark" for "spacemark" for a long time, not knowing the editing notation. I'm a musician, not a proofreader.

mathguy 1:48 AM  

Loved it!

Needed to make some guesses which turned out, including ERTE. Learned that it came from pronouncing his initials, R.T. Also learned that MacBeth is buried on an island named IONA.

Isn't SHTUP breaking some ground?

Davidph 2:08 AM  

SCHTUP certainly raised an eyebrow here. It's like schmuck, which is Yiddish for penis. If the one is not appropriate for the New York Times, neither is the other.

Davidph 2:13 AM  

Sorry, that's SHTUP. I used the alternate spelling.

Fugu 2:31 AM  

This very afternoon, I wondered if anyone had made a crossword themed with the various uses of the # symbol. I assumed it had been done, and it's not like I was going to follow up on the idea if they hadn't, so I moved on. Solving this puzzle ten hours later was a bit surreal.

I like the elegant theme clues.

Billy 2:35 AM  

@Steve J
Agree on the starbucks coffee, and with you on not noticing the hashtag in the clue itself.

Why do some names I never would have known (Isao) and some I knew (Tal, Erie) appear over and over and over in the NYT crosswords? Do the authors all use the same program?

chefwen 2:47 AM  

Medium/difficult here. Had the most difficult in the TAC TAC TOE BOARD area. Had brother Mark been here, he could have helped me with the GAY ANTHEM, but no, guess I should have called him. Thought it was cute and original. Kept looking for a rebus because of 22D. Kept thinking of the book Sh*t my Dad says (or something like that) and kept looking for other keyboard symbols, couldn't be farther from the theme. Finally caught on and finished, but not without a struggle.

Next time I fish a GNAT out of my wine I will say "get out of my wine you tiny irritant".

chefwen 2:55 AM  

Must learn to reread my comment before posting. Pls add a ly to my second difficult.

Hey, @Rube 37A, we miss you. How is Mrs. Rube?

Unknown 4:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 4:39 AM  

Rex likes to point out when theme answers are not really consistent, so I am surprised he didn't here. For theme answers #2, #3, and #4 the # sign is used as a symbol for a function, shorthand if you will. But the tic tac toe board really isn't a # as shorthand, it is just intersecting lines that make up a game board that happens to look like #. Given that a musical sharp is symbolized by a #, that would have been a better fill for that area and consistent with the rest of the puzzle.

Conrad 5:18 AM  

No Ohhhhhhhh moment here. The NW fell easily -- unusual for a Thursday -- and once I had TICT it was clear what 20a had to be. Only then did I look at the clue and I "got it." Almost Naticked on the EURO/INREM cross. I'm not up on pop culture, so I never heard of EUROPOP (I was thinking soda at first). Finally guessed R and got Mr. Happy Pencil. Good Thursday!

Danp 6:12 AM  

I'm glad "one being used" wasn't FOOL, resulting in something FAG. There was enough offensive stuff without it. Schtup, rube, pantsuit, gay anthem, greaser. Any one of these would have been fine, but after a while, I feel I knew the constructor, too. I really didn't like this puzzle.

Susierah 6:34 AM  

Most difficult Thursday for me in a long time!!! Way too many clues I just couldn't figure out what they meant. My word of the day is littoral. Never seen that word before, and had to go to my dictionary, and still don't quite understand the answer,

Moly Shu 6:50 AM  

@SteveJ, thanks for the SPACE#MARK info. Glad I'm not an editor/proofreader. Wouldn't know when to stet, dele or #. Good point about UTERI, I just filled it in and didn't bother to dig in to the clue.

@DanP, I had fAG at first also, but knew it couldn't be correct, so I ran the alphabet and hit on TOOL.

jberg 7:07 AM  

Me too for not noticing the # in the clues until pretty late; I had TIC TAC TOE BOARD and _____ SIGN already when I figured it out and immediately wrote in TWITTER HASHTAG and POUND. SPACE MARK took a little longer.

@Keldy23 -- TREN is Spanish, like its clue. I think the rule is that to solve crosswords you should know French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Yiddish, and a little Italian, as well as all the currencies and capitals of the world (and you need to be aware that sometimes "capital" in a clue means currency). Nothing to it!

Speaking of which -- RIEL?? Really?

Hardest parts for me:

SOMBER or sombre?

TELEO? I thought it meant driven by a purpose, as in teleological. Complete?

@susierah LITTORAL comes from some Latin word (oh yeah, you're supposed to know that, too, plus Greek and a little Hebrew and Sanskrit) meaning 'shore.' Here it's referring to LITTORAL floral and fauna, which live in the zone affected by waves.

@Billy, those names are popular because they are full of common letters in unusual sequences, so they help with crosses.

(I don't mean to be a know-it-all here, it's just that those questions have been hanging there unanswered.)

What I learned: where all those Scots were buried. Also ERTE's real name.

Oscar 7:15 AM  

No, but they use the same alphabet.

Time to pony up the money and get some software.

John Child 7:25 AM  

@Danp is right that there are a lot of stereotype words here. I'm not sure how to draw a line between n***er, crip, and greaser. The first example would be off limits in most any puzzle. The second would fail if clued to a disability but could pass if it was a gang reference. The third didn't raise an eyebrow here when solving, but it might have.

When is it the word and when is it the context? Moron is, per Wikipedia, a "disused term." Should it be banned from our puzzles as disrespectful, insulting, or hateful?

Intellectually I think that all words are fair in a crossword puzzle. Editors and constructors can set limits, and solvers can choose puzzles they like. But I would still be offended by some things. So is there a line, or just "my line"?

Doris 7:37 AM  

Re comment by @mathguy: I am SHOCKED, SHOCKED that the (formerly) good Grey Lady would allow 36A to pass muster. Or isn't the constructor aware that this Yiddishism isn't merely slang, but really vulgar? Ick! Talk about lowered standards!3366

Doris 7:39 AM  

P.S.: You could probably see that I accidentally typed part of the captcha in my comment—I was so rattled by the inclusion of 36A.

Leapfinger 7:44 AM  

I also had a hard time visualizing a pair of twins sharing a couple of UTERI. Messy, messy, messy. Reminded me of Sam Levenson, who was also a NYC principal for many years, telling one student's test answer to describe the circulation in the human body: The blood flows down one leg and up the other.

Was browsing an online auction catalogue a couple of days ago; they had several ERTE prints, so serendip on that.

Thanks for splaining TREN.

Glimmerglass 7:45 AM  

@shelby23: TREN is Spanish, as is the clue. I enjoyed this very much. I didn't catch the #clue until I had TWIT....TAG. Until then I was foundering. Big aha moment, which makes my day. Liked the long downs. Isn't SHTUP a Yiddish word?

evil doug 7:54 AM  

Liked that the obvious way we'd read each theme clue--"number one", "number two", so forth--as we pondered possible themes, didn't itself show up as an answer.

I wanted "hook up", with some kind of double o rebus, early on.

Output--> put out--> shtup--> where it's at--> duet--> epicness scenario....

...but not if she's wearing a pantsuit. Hillary, you're looking more and more like somebody in Mao's army....


L 8:02 AM  

DNF today because I never got the theme. Now it seems so obvious. But any puzzle that gets me to think of Lili Von Shtup is a good thing.

Unknown 8:02 AM  

Felt easy-ish for a Thursday to me, theme became apparent quickly, I can only imagine the different tone of the write up had Anna not been a friend,,,,that list of dreck would not have been described as merely "grimace-inducing" or part of "an equal mix of frowns and smiley face."

joho 8:19 AM  

Besides the totally original, very visual theme there's lots to love: EPICNESS, HELLNO, WHEREITSAT, BUBBLEWRAP, GAYANTHEM and the naughty SHTUP. I know all of these answers have been mentioned but they're so great I mentioned them again.

At one point I thought I was playing TICTACTOE on the grid BOARD with # for both POUNDSIGN and TWITTERHASHTAG and an empty grid square for SPACEMARK giving me square shapes for XOX. I was wrong but the idea of actually playing on the grid is a fun one.

I never like AHSO but because it had the best clue I've seen for that answer, pass.

I loved it, brava, Anna!!!

AliasZ 8:21 AM  

Is this Thursday? Where is my rebus?

I disliked AAND, ORAS, NOI, ESTD, ELEE and FLEE, and the Fr.-Ger.-Sp. connection of SANS OUTRE ETATS, NEUE and ESTO TREN, YETI still enjoyed this puzzle a lot. I got a WHIFF of the cute theme with TIC TAC TOE, and found four to be just the right number of theme entries.

I did miss the musical SHARP SIGN, but it would be unacceptable with the most common term for #, the POUND SIGN, already in the grid. Although, it could have been clued simply as "1 #" and the answer could have been IN G MAJOR.

SHTUP crossing GAY ANTHEM and WHERE IT'S AT was fun to see. But wouldn't it be more correct to say AT WHERE IT IS?

NEAR SHORE, BUBBLE WRAP and NEIL SIMON in a PANTSUIT were some fine long downs, but I cannot imagine a SCENARIO in which EPICNESS would be the preferred word, in slang or formal usage. It is not a word I hear or read any more often than minusculeness.

This was fun. I hope to see Ms. Shechtman again RIEL soon.

Unknown 8:24 AM  

Google-less and error-free, limping across the finish line in an hour and 40 minutes. Mrs. Kid with a late save on It's-Raining-Men as I was staring at GAYANT_E_ and couldn't see it. Tough but doable. To the constructor's and Will's credit, the cluing was just on the hairy edge if gettable, so I couldn't give up.

OUTRÉ is a huh? MJ was Spider-Man's girl. Who was GWEN? Solide and liquide were French-for-matter, then French-for-phases-of-matter then French-for-states-of-matter, when the light went on. sodaPOP before EUROPOP, meaning I was trying to get INREM and PAULO, neither of which I knew, with a deep bad cross.

The theme clues took 1:15 to become apparent, but SPACEMARK was still a guess. OPRAH is new. IONA was a deep pull. What a workout!

Leapfinger 8:34 AM  

Super good for me; I had my Oooooh somewhere in the third quarter, and the good outweighed any bad by a long shot. BUBBLEWRAP alone is good for all kinds of fun.

Liked DIE for 'outdated cry' ("DIE, you scoundrel!"), esp since DORM visitors in the waiting room seemed pretty reasonable...once upon a time...

But I spent most of the solve in a daze, so many thoughts kept intruding.
'ETNA, I'm glad I metya'. Still waiting to meet the dude/ dudette who's thrilled by time spent interacting with the insurance industry.
HoRATOS Alger stories, and those old Bob and RATIOS.
Crossing the RUBEcon with one of my favourite inventors, RUBE Goldberg.
A winter spent in HELLNO Montana, a summer in Bedford-STYEvesant.
Thinking 64D was going to be LOUIS, turned out to be RIEL (With hugs, that's for all my Canadian buddies)
Seeing that tweeting seems to go way back, to that pioneer of mass communication, Johannes GuttenTAG.
It oughta be EPICOSITY and 'the WHEREAT which ITIS'

The very worst of all was 28A: I was positive NYC has doens, if not hundreds, of _____Galeries, so ran a quick program to select them, then sorted to cut out the 4-letter ones. In EINE TAGE, I got NOCH AUCH UBER DOCH NEUN ZEHN options. Unfortunately, I chose the ALTE one.

Thought this was a really interesting theme, shows you need to not only look ahead, but look back also. It points out that there's all sorts of informational content in our environment that we aren't aware of processing, and even when it's ambiguous [like all the different ### meanings], we seem to do it correctly. Usually.
I'm sure there's a word for this.

A FONZ Farewell till next time.

Mark 8:36 AM  

Pantsuit is a ridiculous word, for at least 3 reasons. (1) grammar: Using "pant" in the singular is as silly as saying "please hand me the scissor." (2) sexism: Men's suits have pants, too, but they are simply suits. (3) "humorouous" politics: David Letterman can get a laugh by simply saying "Hillary's pantsuit," which is not even funny.

Mohair Sam 8:46 AM  

Medium here, loved the theme. But the EPEES/ELEE cross, the grammatical failure at UTERI, and confusing SHTUP (where's the "c" and do you really know how it's used?) spoiled the fun.

Guessed right on ERTE/TELEO so we avoided a personal natick. Read "transportacion" as English and hung up too long on TREN (amOS instead of ENOS of a while).

Hope nobody at the NYT got a brain cramp working on the unusually clever clue for ELEE at 8d (Gen. Robert____), it is Thursday after all.

Finally, next time we use SHTUP let's clue it "bang" to be more in spirit with the usage. And ain't it spelled schtup? Guess not.

Sarah 8:52 AM  

GAYANTHEM for the win! I loved this puzzle. I did get the # cluing, although only noticed the shape of the grid after reading @Josh's comment. I'm ok with SHTUP, less so with "greaser" as a clue (although that slur may have lost its sting somewhere around 1963; I live in NYC with an Italian American mayor and governor, after all). I really liked the mix of old and new school fill: for every FONZ and TWITTERHASHTAG there was an ERTE and IONA. Satisfying and fun for me, and surprisingly zippy.

Charles Flaster 9:00 AM  

Very tricky. DNF as I had trademark and not spacemark.Best clue was 59A with prior.

Sir Hillary 9:03 AM  

Tough Thursday for me, but eventually it fell.

Is it PANTSUIT or PANTsSUIT? My mom used to wear them all the time. How it can be read as sexist is beyond me.

Can't express how much I love SHTUP in this puzzle, as much for the outrage it causes here as for anything else.

Did not know "It's Raining Men" was a GAYANTHEM, but it makes sense. To me, it's a tune to which all the Cornell women would dance loudly in Ithaca in the 1980s (and at 1980s nostalgia parties today). If I am not mistaken, one of the Weather Girls sang the "everybody dance now" part of that ubiquitous 1990s dance song.

Shakespearean characters are buried in New Rochelle??

SANS is among many lousy short entries, but at least it's clued originally.

#Welldone #ThanksAnna

Zwhatever 9:07 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leapfinger 9:09 AM  

@anyconcerned citizens, SCH- is the German, SH- makes it Yiddish. Yinglish cold probably go either way.

I wouldn't mind a little mo' hair. Still dark and curly, but getting a weebit thinner on top. Same for Mr.Sam?

Zwhatever 9:11 AM  

The entire Mississippi basin from Minnesota to New Orleans gave me trouble. Eventually got it, but it was slow. This even though I got the theme relatively early so had big sections of letters to work from. Not knowing SPACE MARK hurt.

SHTUP was surprising. Hardly offensive to me, but I knew it would be for many. @DanP confused me a little. Not sure why he included GAY ANTHEM and PANTSUIT in his list.

My sister's twins shared a uterus. My cousin's twins shared a uterus. They shared UTERI. A perfectly reasonable misdirect.

@John Child - Any word can become a pejorative, and some pejoratives can become terms of affection or power in other contexts, so it's never easy. When one reduces a person to a single trait that diminishes them it is offensive. That is why @Evil's Hillary comment isn't funny. He minimizes her by implying all that matters is her looks.

I fixed my apostrophe. I didn't want to win the Apostrophe Atrophy Trophy today.

Questinia 9:13 AM  

Best puzzle of the week just on the SHTUP/OUTRÉ crossing alone. I like it when the Gray Lady "épate les bourgeois".
Since I went straight from finishing the NW to the SE I saw HASHTAG and the themes came a-marchin' in. So this puzzle was easy-ish.
I hath SPaKE and ESTa at erst (which I believe are alternatively correct answers). I just wanted to be a bit old-fashioned.

evil doug 9:19 AM  

Not at all, Z. You chose to infer that, all by your lonesome. I think she's much more than that hefty look in her preferred wardrobe. Benghazi, for example.

Mark: Don't get your panties in a knot....


Nancy 9:24 AM  

Wow! Talk about hiding the ace up your sleeve! I've never agreed with Rex more than now, when he talks about hiding in plain sight. After struggling with the theme answers for what seemed like hours (but were only long minutes), I, too, had an OOOOH moment. Really clever misdirection, and a lot of fun. What's more, I doubt I would have solved this puzzle without my belated OOOOH moment, which makes it the perfect OOOOH moment!

Steve J 9:39 AM  

@Z: "They shared UTERI." This is what I was getting at with saying that even if we're talking multiple sets of twins, it doesn't work. Your sentence construction implies that both sets jointly shared multiple UTERI, which obviously isn't true. And using this logic, all siblings - hell, all humans - shared UTERI, albeit at different times. At its best, the clue falls into that category of technically true if you really stretch it, but still widely off the mark.

@Dan P: How is GAY ANTHEM offensive?

Meanwhile, I never knew "greaser" was ever considered pejorative, at least beyond any other social-group label like jock, preppie, yuppie, etc. Maybe it's that by the time I came around - and I'm hardly young - the term had already become a relic.

Danp 9:51 AM  

@Z - The obsession over Hillary's pantsuits is often used to subtly suggest that she is inadequately feminine. Gay anthem suggests a stereotype and the song suggests hyperbolic promiscuity.

BTW, the Malcolm buried at Iona was not the Shakespeare character. That would have been Malcolm III. But it made for a nice clue, and both Malcolms, Macbeth and Duncan were all part of the same family.

Arlene 9:51 AM  

I had TICTACTOE right from the beginning, so the pressure was off for the rest of the solve. I was looking for SHARP somewhere, though - anywhere! And I also figured that HASHTAG was coming.

As for SHTUP - I was watching the Don Rickles tribute last night on SPIKE tv cable station - and he used the word SHTUP, as he is wont to do. So to find it in this esteemed newspaper's puzzle was a bit of a surprise!

chefbea 9:52 AM  

Too tough for me. Tougher than a Fri or Sat puzzle!!!
Too many things I had never heard of.
Thank goodness the captcha is just a number...280

Leapfinger 10:12 AM  

I'm feeling unutterably sorry for the owner-carriers of all this UTERI-sharing, am starting to get sympathy cramps. The implied visuals are downright alarming.

As @Questina, was in line with Esta Spake Zarathustra, MARK before TOOL, as well.
Lke Sir Hillary with SANS, feel that a great new clue goes a long way to redeeming a tired entry.

@Alias: Really, my RIEL (Louis) is pronounced RE-YELL. I'm sure this REminder will REecho with you.
I ZINC, therefore I am.

My, my, my. the Inflexible Flyer rides again...

Unknown 10:20 AM  

I PROFFER Shakespeare, and assert that the blue-hairs at NYTXW (who taught me all the dirty words I know) can give SHTUP a pass as it is portmanteau of Yiddish and Elizabethan.


Are your doors locked?

    Why, wherefore ask you this?

Zounds, sir, you’re robbed! For shame, put on your gown.
Your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul.
Even now, now, very now, an old black ram
Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise,
Awake the snorting citizens with the bell
Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.
Arise, I say!

Coming soon to an OTHELLO-themed puzzle near you: SCHWING clued as [Arise] and THEBEASTWITHTWOBACKS -- on a Sunday, no less.

Carola 10:24 AM  

I echo @joho's "Brava!" Tricky and fun. Going through the Acrosses, it took me all the way to the far SE to get traction, so the first # answer I had ended in -HTAG, and at that point I had TWITTERHASHTAG and the theme. Scanned around for the right number of SPACEs for the POUND SIGN and wrote that in. But SPACE....wha? That was hard. And the TI-TA-T-E--ARD took forever to see.

Slowed myself down by misspelling PAoLO and RIaL.

Loved all the grid treats others have mentioned. Very fun to finally see EPICNESS after thinking it was some Frenchified sounding épince, and to have it parked next to non-epic PANTSUITS.

Interested in all the HELL NO reactions to UTERI. I felt that SHTUP and UTERI were involved in some sort of SCENARIO.

Thanks for the fun, Anna. Look forward to your next one.

tensace 10:28 AM  

Thumbs down to NEARSHORE. Littoral means related to the shore. Period. Not near shore. The is no "far" shore.

Thumbs up to Hillary Clinton wardrobe staples - PANTSUITS. My but don't they look dashing. "Hillary's idea of fashion" would have been a better clue. Plus when you hear the name Hillary, do you really have to add Clinton? It is, after all, Google's first suggestion.

r.alphbunker 10:33 AM  

Was disappointed that one of the #s was not RUNTPUZ. This one fits the bill:

Unknown 10:37 AM  

Technically, the use of '#' in the clue IS the Thursday rebus, as rebus means pictogram. FWIW, @AliasZ.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Theme answers were clever except for SPACE MARK?

HELL NO, OPRAH won't like crossing AS BIG, POUND SIGN and ORB!

Must be some EPICNESS associated with SHTUP appearing in the NYT puzz. However, if you're looking for Patrick Berry elegance- this ain't it.

mac 10:56 AM  

Excellent Thursday puzzle, with only the NE giving me some trouble.

I also thought spake/esta might be right, but guessed the o.

Isn't it odd uterus is a masculine word?

Leapfinger 11:00 AM  


Anonymous 11:09 AM  

I didn't have an aaaaaah or an oooooh moment. More like a pffffffft moment.

GILL I. 11:10 AM  

Well I had HASHFAG and just left it. I'm going to use SHTUP today.. Can I say I'm going to SHTUP my husband tonight???
I had absolutely no idea what this puzzle meant and really didn't care because I liked it plenty. Maybe not the word UTERI which is such an unfortunate sounding word. But then we have GAY ANTHEM, the FONZ and one of my favorite authors PAULO Coelho.
Good job Anna and mucho fun.

Hartley70 11:10 AM  

Great Thursday for me. Orb gave me bubble wrap. Gay anthem was a gimme. Fag was never going to fly so tag gave me twitter hash. I got stumped on tic tac toe and the upper middle. I wanted Hillary's clue to be headband, but once I got the theme answer I was home. Just a great workout!

Hillary 11:11 AM  

@ED - Benghazi? That old chestnut? Yeah, I'm worried about the 17th congressional investigation. It most assuredly will be different than the previous 16. You remember those, the ones where I didn't even bother to hide my disgust as I listened to one and all mansplain things. Incorrectly mansplain BTW, so that I had no choice but to bitch-slap them into submission to the point where they went to the Salvation Army store to by a '70s pantsuit of their own, then go home, put it on, stand in front of the mirror and affirm to themselves, over and over, "I am a powerful man".

Yeah, keep talking Benghazi.

Zwhatever 11:29 AM  

@Leapfinger11:00 am - !

@Steve J - Doesn't feel tortured or just technically correct to me at all. It feels like a wonderful misdirect - all the better because it twists really smart people into knots trying to parse it. Part of the issue is that "twins" can mean one set of twins or, as hers, multiple sets of twins. Each set shares one womb, but they don't all share the same one, so the share wombs.

@DanP - Gotcha. Since we have events like Gay Pride parades and Gay Anthems, both as ways to reaffirm that sexual preference isn't some sort of sin, the terms don't register for me as offensive. Add that I don't find youthful promiscuity particularly noteworthy whether it is heterosexual or homosexual - just horny kids being horny - and I never made that connection to the stereotype.

@Evil Doug - perhaps you could explain how "Hillary, you're looking more and more like somebody in Mao's army" is something other than "implying all that matters is her looks," because I certainly don't see anything to suggest otherwise.

Zwhatever 11:30 AM  

here not hers. AAArghhh - hating seeing that right after I post.

Sir Hillary 11:32 AM  

Regretting my nom de Rex today.

Keldy23 11:41 AM  

@jberg - thanks for the explanation on TREN. Somehow, I didn't read the clue as Spanish (or foreign at all) - not sure how I missed that! I totally agree with your take on what you need to know to get through crosswords. You also need to know a bit about baseball, and a little bit about hockey (though the names Bobby ORR, Gordy HOWE and the team the Buffalo SABRES may be enough there).

Masked and Anonymo8Us 11:51 AM  

@r.alph: Epicness. Every r.alphruntpuz Down answer was drippin desperation. Could not be prouder, my son.

Welllll . . . more U's, maybe . . .


jdv 12:10 PM  

Challenging. Brutal. This is one of those rare puzzles where I really liked (noticed) the theme; in fact, I don't think I could have finished without it. In my opinion, the theme overpowered the grumble-inducing fill.

I'm now dreading the next Brad Wilbur puzzle.

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Apparently this puzzle was hand-constructed.

Now, constructing by hand isn't entirely bad, but Crossword Compiler is a good way to solve the corners you just can't fill. Likely, ETATS, ETNA, AHSO, ESTD, NOI, SANS, AAND, NEUE, IONA, ISAO and FIE could have been improved upon with just simple AutoFill.

Mohair Sam 12:37 PM  

@leapfinger - When I adopted the name (stolen from a Charlie Rich song) in the '60s the pun Mo'hair had no meaning to me. Now, unfortunately, it does.

@PC police. Shut up. Gay guys call the song a Gay Anthem, it's OK. Fonz types were called greasers because of the grease they applied to their hair (see Broadway show), so that's fine. Pant suits distinguish themselves from suits with skirts, so that's an identifying factor - not sexist. And the fact that Hillary does look a bit like a Red Army Colonel in some of those things is funny, not hateful.

There are lots of good things about the PC trend - the death of the term "retard" comes to mind - but we gotta lighten up.

AliasZ 12:40 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
OISK 12:49 PM  

Way, way out of my wheelhouse. Apparently, vulgarities are OK, as long as they aren't in English, would expect to see "merde" and "scheiss" in the future, but not their vulgar English equivalent. I knew this was the case when "schmuck" was used many years ago.
Never heard of "Raining Men," Gwen from spiderman, epicness, Anne Bradstreet…people actually say "epicness?" Never heard it, even though I spend my day among teen-agers. I dislike "gay anthem" as an answer. Is Hava Nagila a "Jew Anthem"?
The really clever clues for such as bubble wrap, where it's at, are redeeming features.
I was always a terrible proofreader; I was reminded of that when I repeatedly read "Transportacion" as "transportation, " and couldn't figure it out. Finally wrote in "tren" thinking - but that's Spanish! and then noticed the "c" .

mac 12:50 PM  

No thoughts on the pop and post office clue? Bubble wrap appeared quickly, but initially I thought it was going a different way.

AliasZ 12:53 PM  

@Leapy, EURO one to talk! Let me RE-YELL this for all to hear: all is fair in puns AAND war. We all have our own STYES, and eye 4-1 am proud of mine. HELLNOs no fury like a punster scorned. I ERNEd my stripes. What do they say about Caesar? 'E came, ESAU, 'e concurred. Am IONA roll now! I TELEO, ISAO want to continue but NO,I am UTERI swamped at work, and these DAZE I must know GWEN to say GWEN. I would like people to refer to me as: "This guy, ENOS when to SH'TUP."

GAZE and GAYANTHEM - a punny coincidence? The latter reminded me of this beautiful lullaby from the ballet GAYANeh by Aram Khachaturian.

If you want to hear some fancy ZINC-ing, you must give a listen the Flower DUET from the OPRAH Lakmé by Léo Delibes (I almost wrote Léo ad libs).


M and Also 12:54 PM  

thUmbshtUp. Good theme misdirections. This played hard at my house. #-ed me. M&A trouble spots...

* GWEN, PAULO, ANNE. But did know ISAO, ESAU, and ENOS. So, fair and balanced.
* ORAS. High marks for desperation, but a real stumper, as a fill-in-the-blanker. M&A tried ONCE. Then WHAT. Then BILL.
* TREN. Totally misread this clue. Thought I was lookin for "transportation". Had T??N. Thought TRAN would really be a cool answer, if the clue had been "Form of transportation??". Double?? cluin, Will -- U know U want it.
* INREM. Legalese for "in a room".
* TELEO. Crossin one of the crossword currencies. The desperation was palpable. Anna fought hard for that U, down there.

Weeject woundup:
* There were only four 3-letter words. Altho ORAS sorta seems like a kindred spirit.
* NOI. Better clue = "Noise abated??"

Thanx, Anna darlin. I like yer style and yer U-count.


Anonymous 1:00 PM  

Fairly tough but doable; surprised that "shtup" got past the censors, since it is basically the Yiddish equivalent of the f-word for coitus.

Dan Ruby 1:01 PM  

The new NYT app launched today, replacing Magmic Social. The game play seems good on first use--haven't looked at things like rebuses. But unless I am missing something, there are no rankings or stats, which is a real loss. Also, archive access is available for last 12 months only--I guess so they can push their puzzle packs. I'm disappointed.

Anoa Bob 1:14 PM  

Agree with #David Krost #4:39. A TIC TAC TOE BOARD has lines crossing at 90° angles, while all the others look like italicized versions.

Nominate #Mark #8:36 for having the best avatar, with #Gill I. P. #11:10 for a close second place.


And then there's the less often seen use of a POC where instead of gratuitously boosting the letter-count, you get a reduced letter-count, to wit UTERI.

The Navy is developing a new Littoral Class of warships that are meant for NEAR SHORE use.

Oceanographers and marine biologists use "littoral", often, but not exclusively, to refer to the inter-tidal zone

Lee in Denver 1:16 PM  

I solve in ipad with Magmic. Today it prompted me to update to NYT. That wiped out all my past Magmic records. Any one else have that problem? Can it be restored?

EdFromHackensack 1:28 PM  

Never hear of the term SHTUP. Maybe my Irish Catholic altarboy, Eagle Scout upbringing steered me clear of this term, to my regret.

GILL I. 1:29 PM  

I looked up SHTUP and asked Google to give me a sentence using that word since I've never really used it...It gave me:
"Oy, that goy needs a good SHTUP"
Hee Hee.
Off to meet @Ellen S for lunch and we will not be discussing any of you at length...

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

Not at home to check my ipad ... but looking at the update notes on my iphone, it appears that MAGMIC is now completely ran by the NYT. IOS will sync between your shared devices (you can start in your iphone and finish with your ipad).
It claims access to "past puzzles in our calendar archives" -- doesn't say how far back!
"Support for special or highlighted squares."
"New puzzle options to allow you to play exactly the way you want to."
"More intuitive progress tracking of your recently played puzzles."

I guess we will find out!!

Mark 2:37 PM  

@Anoa Bob Thanks for nominating my avatar. Biggest honor I've had in a long time.

Leapfinger 2:38 PM  

Zoinks, 'U's are trouble!

@interAlia, sZo what?
You know what WC Fields said: 'Scratch a man who looks like a turnip, and I'll show you a man who looks like a scratched turnip'. Obviously, there is no pun you turnip your nose at, everWHERE ITSAT.
I may be but a pest, but still thought it funny we picked up on some of the same points. At this point, of course, you've outstripped me by a cupola kilometers.
Not sure exactly what you're ZINCing, but you've seen my other avatar: do you RIELly think OPRAH's Lakme? Wondering if that was Desliberate

Ludyjynn 2:39 PM  

I saw SHTUP early in the solve, and was dumbstruck by the constructor's chutzpah and WS' rubber-stamp. Was so amused and amazed by its inclusion in a NYT puzz. that I was distracted for a moment from the rest of the puzz. and found myself giggling unaccountably as I resumed. My only nit is the clue itself. "Sleep with" is a bit disingenuous, as I sleep with my dog and cat, but I do not shtup them! My name is not Catherine, after all! Oy vey!

Also, found the theme early on, once I stopped laughing, and liked it, a lot. For me this was mostly medium, w/ a few challenging spots, which were gettable via crosses and some head-scratching.

Thanks, AS and WS. Still in shock... in a good way.

Zwhatever 3:16 PM  

I've wasted most of my day trying to fix a two-year old dishwasher. ####$*%&##((@)(#*#$#* is about where my mood is at the moment. Reattaching a disconnected hose has led to needing to replace the control panel. Looking at how this was put together, it is too obvious where the manufacturer cut corners to save pennies. I want to bill them for the time I've wasted. I'd name the manufacturer, but I cynically suspect that they all cut costs in many of the same ways.


@Mohair Sam - I don't view going through life trying not to insult people as PC. I personally find the "anti-pc police" to be at least as censorious as the "pc police." You seem to be saying "how dare you be insulted by my 'innocent' comment" is okay. It is not. If someone tells me that my comment offended them I try to understand why, not blame them for feeling insulted. I have a big enough vocabulary that I can generally find different words to get my point across. I don't find this onerous, and I don't let it shut me up.

@Gill I.P. and @Ellen S - I seem to remember reading somewhere that where there are no policemen there are no speed limits.

Lewis 3:23 PM  

@aliasz -- what's not to like about FLEE?

At first I figured "Sleep with, in slang" had to relate to something benign, like sleeping with a pet, this being the NYT. Then when the answer came in, I too, like @ludyjynn, laughed out loud. And happy to see it.

I loved that the clues included the #, which I'm guessing was the seed in Anna's mind from which this puzzle grew.

Benko 3:24 PM  

People who think "GREASER" refers to being Italian are the ones who are being offensive. It has nothing to do with ethnicity. It refers to a subculture of American kids who greased their hair up into pompadours and wore leather jackets. Haven't any of you read The Outsiders???

Fred Romagnolo 3:29 PM  

@jberg: teleo means complete the way a past tense implies completeness or perfectness: hence teleological - dealing with the ends or perfectness. I hope that helps. @mohair: retard has been merely superceded by r-tard. :tensace: when I hear "Hillary" I think "Sir, and I'll bet at least one other in this blog does so, too". @Hackensack: I too was an altar-boy, and I guess it's a miracle neither of us were "Shtuped," all things considered. To those of you who resent all the Benghazi references - if she doesn't run, you won't hear about it anymore, if she runs, it's fair game. I am so old that I still resent the term "greaser." Things I learned today: gay anthem, twitter hashtag, Romain de Tirtoff, and space mark.

M and A pound-3 3:30 PM  

@Z -- har. Well, heck, there's yer #5 usage, right there in yer openin sentence.

My darlin spouse always leaves the room, when I start up in on a do-it-yer-cheap-project like that. Can't abide the harsh lingo.

Why would some Chinese dude want to make a gizmo for U that lasts a real long time? He wants to sell U more of em, every couple years. Logic. Live long and prosper, etc.


p.s. "The Chef" is a real primo flick. U gals might consider it, after yer luncheon gettogether.

sanfranman59 3:39 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 19:53, 18:08, 1.10, 67%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 12:57, 10:44, 1.21, 77%, Medium-Challenging

@Z ... I believe the term is "planned obsolescence" and I feel your pain. It's one of the latter day free market economy's not-so-charming strategies. Appliances that once lasted for 10, 20 or 30 years now last for 2 or 3 unless you pay through the nose for top-of-the-line models. In which case, you might get 5 years out of them.

Loren Muse Smith 4:08 PM  

First of all, congrats, Anna! I wasn't able to post this morning, so I'm late to the fun. I loved the theme idea and the long downs. Good for you! It was hardish for me, too, especially due south, but I managed in the end.

@ralph – yeah! Liked it! Good for you!

@M&A - so here's my runt stunt. It's really easy, I think; @benko and @Bob will chew through it like a bag of Fritos. Two notes. . .

-The clue for 6A needs to be "falls" instead of "fell." (Jeff Chen was nice enough to convert the puz into acrosslite and then post it with the title – it was all way beyond my ken. But I couldn't go and fix that tense after it was up).
-Don't ignore the title.

@M&A – you'll salivate over all the desperate stuff. Sheesh. And I was able to keep the U count pretty low for you.

Theme density is horrible, but the fill is so sparkly and outstanding that I know everyone will forgive me. Right.

Anonymous 4:20 PM  


I think there are only a couple of manufacturers that make 90% of all the brands of household appliances. Switching brands probably wouldn't help!

retired_chemist 4:31 PM  

HELL NO and SHTUP in a NYT crossword?

Listen to me and you shall hear, news hath not been this thousand year:
Since Herod, Caesar, and many more, you never heard the like before.
Holy-dayes are despis'd, new fashions are devis'd.
Old Christmas is kicked out of Town
Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down.

Supposedly played by the British band as Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown (1781).

Benko 4:42 PM  

@lms: I think you made @m&a proud. A true runtpuz. I didn't get it as fast as you thought. Had a couple writeovers. Nice theme, clever title!

Dan Ruby 4:43 PM  

If you previously synced your iPad to a computer, then your old Magmic app is probably there. I deleted the new app from my device and reinstalled the Magmic from my Mac. All the old stats were there. I expect the number of daily players will soon drop sharply.

Outlaw M and A 5:06 PM  

@muse. I would comment, but I have already used up my daily allotment of pewit-talk.
Well, while I'm here...

Real f rt puz.

Took me 17:14. Had way too many good, wrong answers goin. Plus I was savorin it all. Especially loved 6 and 8 and 9-Across. Atta girl. But, do not be afraid to trot out the double-??, on them clues.

Neat theme, but the runtpuz ref called it for taunting the M&A.

Say 10-Across ain't true!

2 guest runtpuzs in one day. Be still, my leapin heart...


WS 5:18 PM  

SHTUP crosses the line. It's just a common vulgarity, no matter how entertaining it is to find it in the NYT. But, given the pedestrian fill, I guess we should be grateful.

Mohair Sam 5:21 PM  

@z - Man, you put a lot of words in my mouth. My point is that we cannot expect the NYT and crossword constructors to anticipate that words like PANTSUITS and GAYANTHEM may be offensive to someone. It's the Times for Heaven's sake, they avoid offense at all costs. I am however going to back off my defense of "greaser" - that is normally meant to be offensive. I was wrong.

And the Hillary joke was funny - we have to be able to laugh at our politicians, even if they are not Republicans.

Back off Z, you're talking to a guy who spent the last two decades lending to minorities, made a lot of friends, and learned a lot about respect. And a lot about diversity - it's part of what makes life in the USA enjoyable.

Trash the dishwasher and get a new one, btw, those things never hold a repair.

Anonymous 5:32 PM  

Hated, hated, hated this puzzle. I don't know what Rex sees in this.

Among the faults:

The theme was confusing. What do the numbers in the clues (1, 2, 3, 4) have to do with anything?

Golfer Aoka AGAIN? Isn't that in, like, every other puzzle?

Since when is SNOW a symbol of softness?

Twins don't share UTERI. They share a single UTERUS.

Anonymous 5:35 PM  

Also surprised to see SHTUP, which I always considered the Yiddish form of F*CK. For a second I thought I was on BEQ's puzzle site.

mac 6:51 PM  

Saw "Chef" last night, it was great!

Outlaw Z 6:52 PM  

@Mohair Sam - Not sure what words I put in your mouth, lots of "I" in that post. Closest I can see is "you seem to be saying..." which you did, indeed, seem to be saying. I'd like to think that, "@PC police - shut up," was not meant as harshly as it comes across. I agree that constructors, and people in general, can't anticipate everything that might offend; "can't" as in "it isn't possible." It probably wasn't evident, but the only answer/clue/comment I, myself, found troubling was the Hillary/Mao joke. The, to me, harmless clue reminder that Hillary is noted for pantsuits is unremarkable. Still, if someone says "x is offensive" I ask "why?"

As for the repair - Yep - but this is the dishwasher in the house we will be selling - I'm not spending a lot of money for someone else's dishwasher. So I'm replacing the $75 control panel myself and uttering all sorts of things that will not appear in the xword anytime soon.

I'm pretty sure that, with my half correction, this is post #5, so I'm shutting up for the day. Please hold your applause.

Mohair Sam 7:15 PM  

@Z - Agreed on 'bout everything. And yes, if someone is offended always ask why - and respect what they say whether you agree or not.

PC story: About 15 years ago I was asked to do business with a Native American group on a reservation in upstate NY. I drove to the reservation and the native met me at his construction site wearing a Cleveland Indians baseball cap with the image of Chief Wahoo. I stood 1/2 a head taller than the man and my eyes looked straight at the offending cap. "Surprised by the cap?", he said. "Umm, yeah", said I. "So I should root for the f--king Cowboys?" said he. Talk about an ice-breaker.

Good decision with the dishwasher, btw. Post #4 for me - see ya.

adrenalinrunnoff 7:38 PM  

@Dan Ruby and other Magmic users: I hate it. I just hate it. All my history wiped, nothing beyond a year of archives. I'm not much of a complainer, but I've already submitted 2 feedback emails. Very disappointed.

Leapfinger 8:06 PM  

Another TUPpence' worth.

Shirley Sen/Sect'y Hillary is aware of the pantsuit buzz. My guess is that if she were perturbed about it, she'd either speak out or leave off wearing them. Since she has done neither, apparently it is that big a deal to her, and probably shouldn't be for others. It's just another Bengazi.

The Khulture Khorner was VERY nice, though I thought the lullaby was going to wake the baby at around half-time. The Flower Duet was pure magnificentce, but will note as a very minor point it's a mercy Sutherland never bore a child to Jay Leno.

Condolences to Magmic users.

wreck 8:24 PM  

4th post today .. but it is late and hopefully those of us affected by MAGMIC changes can have a place to vent without imposing on everyone else too much for brief moment this evening.
The cosmetic changes are just fine and the ability to complete puzzles across different platforms is a nice addition - but, that's about it! Gone is the ability to go back to prior puzzles over a year. That is fine for new subscribers, but for those that have been here for longer than a year, you are SOL.
Gone is the tracking of anyone's timing or rank. While I don't give 2 flips what my actual rank is -- it does give me a personal barometer of where I stand or how difficult others found the solve. No longer do you have to wait 24 hours to unlock the puzzle - you can reveal or check answers at anytime. I guess there are other ways to cheat -- but this I'm sure, will make it all the more tempting.

geordiegirl 9:53 PM  

@AliasZ - I think the sign that denotes a musical sharp is ever so slightly different from the pound sign, in that the horizontals are not level, on order to differentiate the sign from the staff clef. I'm not expressing this too well, since it's a long time since I dealt with scores. But I don't think it would have been proper to insert this slightly different symbol into the mix.

r.alphbunker 9:55 PM  


That was good. Nice aha when I understood why the title was so important. 6A was the relic that made it into a runtpuz.

Do you know what the world was before October 24, 1945?

Tita 10:10 PM  

@Steve J - what you said re UTERI and Starbukks...
On no level whatsoever does UTERI work. If you had no way to avoid it, then at least clue it in a less tortuous way.

I got it the joke with POUNDSIGN. I really thought Rex would hate it.

I did like what y'all liked.
Also liked RUBE, Comes from the German for turnip.

And sorry to see that in my absence, our oft hilarious and insightful cohort has gone back to his schoolyard bully mode of dropping bombs to see who will bite.
Oops - I just did...damn - I hate when I do that.

@Gil & @Ellen - have a wonderful lunch!!

Thanks Ms. Schectman.

sanfranman59 10:10 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 no data
Tue 7:37, 8:46, 0.87, 13%, Easy
Wed 8:17, 9:54, 0.84, 12%, Easy
Thu 19:50, 18:08, 1.09, 66%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon no data
Tue 4:57, 5:21, 0.93, 22%, Easy-Medium
Wed 5:07, 6:11, 0.83, 7%, Easy
Thu 11:55, 10:44, 1.11, 68%, Medium-Challenging

Paladin 12:21 AM  

Anyone please tell me what "Naticked" means ?
I am late to the dance. Thanks.

Anonymous 8:31 AM  


A Natick is the square where two unknown entries cross; the solver can't get help from either the across or down clue, and is Naticked.

It's a town in MA, and was the entry in a puzzle. Someone who didn't know some crossing word coined the term.

FAQ 10:28 AM  

@Paladin and @ anon8:31 - At the top of the blog is a FAQ link. Many questions are answered there.

ANON B 3:53 PM  

I haven't read all the comments,
but can someone please explain
why FACE PLANT is ATE IT and
and what did Rex mean by crossing
an IT phrase with an IT phrase?

mjddon 5:08 PM  

Re crossword apps. I have paid the forty dollars annually for the times puzzles. It has been worth it. When I got an ipad, when they first came out, I got the app called " crossword classics". There is a free version, and then I bought it. I love it. You can have it bring in puzzles you are subscribed to, but it also has lots of free weekly puzzles. It works correctly, never crashes, and is far superior to magmic. You can browse the web for puzzles. I can click on links mentioned in this blog, and I can play those puzzles in the app. You can check for wrong answers at any point. I highly recommend it and was surprised that people on this blog rarely mention it. Ps I have no relationship to the app other than being a several year satisfied customer.

spacecraft 11:20 AM  

DNF because there was just too much fill that I didn't know; only a super-intellectual has a chance at this one, which I am not. But I did get the theme (all except "SPACEMARK;" is that a thing?) and stuff like NEILSIMON and the GAZE/FONZ corner. What I got I liked.

But some of it...let's see, would Spike be the AANDELEE? Iyiyi!

5645 is zero again. Bring back poker!

rain forest 3:57 PM  

Very slow start to this one mainly because I misread the clue for 4d as "solids and liquids", missing the French. So the NW remained unfinished until the end. The first themer I got was the Twitter one, and then POUNDSIGN appeared and I re-read 4d (D'oh!). Same thing happend with "transportacion", so I didn't understand what TREN was.

Totally unimpressed with the over-the-top discussions about faux political correctnss, pantsuits, and runtpuzs. Why can't some of these commenters simply email each other and keep this stuff out of the blog.

Anyway, I liked the puz quite a lot. A different sort of theme which did give me something akin to an OHHHHHHHH moment, as I let SPACEMARK pass.

6315 = out

Dirigonzo 5:01 PM  

I'm another one who did the whole puzzlez without noticing the # sitting in the clues, so I put in all the right names without know why. After POUNDSIGN went in I thought of this comic strip. Still not sure how SPACEMARK fits in but the crosswords made it so.

@rainy - you've been reading all of the comments again, haven't you?

112 - I'm with @spacy, bring the poker game back.

DMG 7:11 PM  

Don't know Yiddish, PC or not, don't read/watch
Spiderman, don't know modern slang,.... Too many unfamiliar domains in this one for me. Got 3 of theme answers, with no idea why, stared at SPACE---- and threw in the towel with no regrets. Just one of those days!

Captcha 179 does give an pretty good 8, but I'd vote for more poker!

Steve O. 10:48 PM  

I like doing puzzles from a year ago, in the archives.


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