Nickname for filmdom's Lebowski / WED 6-25-14 / Woman in Wrinkle in Time / Admiral Zumwalt / Field for Gerard Depardieu Audrey Tautou / Porch light circler

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Constructor: Patrick Merrell

Relative difficulty: Medium 

THEME: Wacky cluing of phrases that start with -LESS words — Three phrases, each beginning with words that end with the suffix "-LESS," are clued in a wacky way that reimagines the meaning of the part of the first word that precedes -LESS:

Theme answers:
  • TIRELESS WORKERS (20A: Goodyear employees when they're on strike?)
  • LISTLESS FEELING (39A: Result of Santa misplacing his papers?)
  • RUTHLESS TACTICS (56A: What the Red Sox had to start using in 1920?)

Word of the Day: ELMO Zumwalt (32D: Admiral Zumwalt) —
Elmo Russell "Bud" Zumwalt, Jr. (November 29, 1920 – January 2, 2000) was an American naval officer and the youngest man to serve as Chief of Naval Operations. As an admiral and later the 19th Chief of Naval Operations, Zumwalt played a major role in U.S. military history, especially during the Vietnam War. A decorated war veteran, Zumwalt reformed U.S. Navy personnel policies in an effort to improve enlisted life and ease racial tensions. After he retired from a 32-year Navy career, he launched an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate. (wikipedia)
• • •

I liked this very much. Didn't think the clues were as funny as they could've been—for instance, I like the idea of cars stuck in traffic with no tires better than the idea of a Goodyear plant simply not functioning. It's the wacky principle—if you're going to do the Wacky Thing, be Very Wacky (like, Absurdist Wacky) or don't bother. But the humor got better on LISTLESS FEELING and RUTHLESS TACTICS, so all in all, this worked well. Lovely restraint on using just the three grid-spanners for the theme answers. This allows for a grid that breathes, full of solid short- and mid-range answers. Clean as a whistle, this one. Even MRS. WHO (a complete WTF to me) earns her keep by being interestingly anomalous (8D: Woman in "A Wrinkle in Time"). This one felt old-fashioned in a good way: simple, well-crafted, fun.

MRS. WHO and ELMO were my big sticking points today, though they weren't That big in the end. I never liked "The Big Lebowski" as much as everyone I know seems to think I ought to, especially considering I love (like, Love love) Raymond Chandler and that was supposed to be the Chandler installment of their crime fiction trilogy or whatever (I think Cain was "Blood Simple" and Hammett was "Miller's Crossing" … I don't know what "Fargo" was … besides Perfection). So I didn't get all atingle at THE DUDE, but I do like it very much as a contemporary crossword answer. I got slightly more atingle at SLAPSTICK, as I do love Buster Keaton (38D: Buster Keaton genre). Also, BUS ROUTE, as I ride on one many times a week (just today, in fact) (9D: It may be diagrammed on a city map). LEGO LAND, also snappy (40D: Theme park based on a toy). Did not at all like the clue on GREEK MYTH, though (answer good; clue not as good) (4D: Story set on Mount Olympus). I want the word "often" to be in there. Plenty of GREEK MYTHs (most?) are set Not on Mount Olympus. It's like cluing WESTERN with [Story set in Tombstone]. Off. But again, most of this puzzle: On.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Phillip Murray, President USW Ret. 12:16 AM  

Strikes must be very different than back in my time. It used to be the whole point of striking was that you didn't work.

retired_chemist 12:22 AM  

Solid, straightforward Wednesday.

Hand up for not knowing MRS. WHO. B SIDE was side b first - easily fixed. UPLIT is ugly.

Crosswords have taught me everything I know about the LUNA (65A) MOTH (25A). I am not STOKEd. AS IF.

Thanks, Mr. Merrell.

JFC 12:29 AM  

Rex, Could not agree more. Smooth, smooth, smooth.

PS. Loren, Not smoothe.


Casco Kid 12:34 AM  

Medium challenging, for the many rabbit holes. 37 minutes, no googles, cheats or errors. BUT...
peelED potatoes before MASHED
dOrmS before LOFTS
[Breather] rest before LUNG
cAgEs rattled before SABER
layup before TIPIN
FirE before FLUE
eSe (and many variants) before OST
OCHOA is new. KNOX is new. ISSUE's clue is too clever by half.

I thought I was the only person in the whole world who said UPLIT instead of lit up, and that only because I make fun of German syntax. I wouldn't let myself put it in until I entered STOPPAGE TIME.

GREEKMYTH had me trying to remember a few that explicitly took place on Mt. Olympus. That hurt.

Sorting out the theme was comparatively easy. RUTHLESSTACTICS was first as the top half of the puzzle wouldn't budge.

So, a heavy Wednesday when all was said and done. But doable, and fun.

okanaganer 12:46 AM  

@casco... I was stuck with LIT UP for a while. Interesting the subtle difference depending on the word order. Ah, English.

For some odd reason I was also stuck with RUTHLESS STATISTICS (requiring a rebus), which makes no sense theme wise.

jae 12:55 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  Primary erasure was crow before DEER.

The theme gave me a chuckle and there were some fine long downs.  Plus, I gotta like any puzzle that includes THE DUDE.  

@Rex -  I though they were just looking for a different way to kill off Steve Buscemi. 

AliasZ 1:22 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. I liked the fact that theme density was lower than average, thus giving the grid a little more room to breath. The theme phrases were all elegant and not repetitive. Each theme word either changes its meaning once -LESS is added, or it is a homonym, or it doesn't even exist without the -LESS suffix. As far as I know, RUTHED is not a word. That's quite tricky and interesting. My favorite was RUTHLESS TACTICS.

Can I try a few grid spanners?

BLOODLESS REVOLT - Pirate mutiny without the captain aboard?
GROUNDLESS RUMOR - Mill product without dregs?
SHIFTLESS DODGES - Chrysler products with busted transmissions?
TEARLESS SHAMPOO - Hotel amenity that can't be ripped open even with your teeth?

I also liked the long down entries: GREEK MYTH, SLAPSTICK and the BUS ROUTE to LEGOLAND. I wasn't so sure about some of the shorter fill: IDBE, ENGS, IPOS, OPER and SODOI. UP-LIT sounds like some prose or poetry that is elevating to the spirit so you can't downput it. OST and MSG, where have I seen them recently?

But the overall effect and the solving experience was a positive one. There was nothing OBSCENE in it, and it did not BOAR me in the least. The cluing was clever too starting with 1A. Who hasn't entered REST at first?

Mack the Knife from "Die Dreigroschen OPER" by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Bertolt Brecht, is masterfully performed here by Satchmo himself.

And to all a good night.

Moly Shu 1:46 AM  

Hand up for rest, and not liking UPLIT. The rest was really good. RUTHLESSTACTICS being the best of the themes. I got hung up on ASIF, had sure for a while, before redoing the whole section. I never know if it is TIPIN, TaPIN, layup, or layIN. I usually call them bunnies or chippies. I also wonder who would win in a match between Lorena OCHOA and Isao Aoki.

Sorry @JFC, gotta stick up for @LMS and disagree with you. It was smoothe.

chefwen 1:53 AM  

Just said goodbye to week long houseguests. Such fun! I am now ready to hang up the apron and kick off the cooking shoes.

I have managed to do the puzzles (loved Elizabeth's Sunday in particular) but no time to post. Too much cook, eat, drink, clean and repeat. Kinda like the shampoo thing. Funny, Tearless Shampoo @Alias Z.

Easier than Tuesdays in my not so humble opinion.

Steve J 2:37 AM  

Like everyone else so far, thought this was solid, smooth and fun. Definitely agree that not going crazy on theme density - the trend over the last few years of more theme density being a goal and at times a seeming aim unto itself has not been positive in many cases, in my opinion - allowed for a nice, open grid that left room for a lot of very good medium and long fill. I especially liked SLAPSTICK and THE DUDE (the movie's 16 years old now - wow! - so I'm not sure how contemporary that is, but it's still nice fill).

Interesting that the theme puns got progressively better in sequential order. TIRELESS WORKERS was weak as clued, LISTLESS FEELING was mildly clever, and RUTHLESS TACTICS was fantastically clued. (For those wondering, Babe Ruth was originally with the Red Sox, but he was sold to the Yankees after the 1919 season.)

Speaking of RUTHLESS: @AliasZ: Ruth is actually a word, although it's archaic and never used anymore. My dictionary defines it as "a feeling of pity, distress or grief"; RUTHLESS literally does mean without ruth (the pity part).

(Captcha carping: If Google's going to force me to help its robots learn to read, the least it could do is provide images that are actually readable by humans. At least half of the address pictures are too dark or blurry to make out.)

jae 5:08 AM  

Maybe "thought" instead of "though"

Gill I. P. 5:55 AM  

Like every person of integrity I had FIRE for 17A which left me in a dilemma as I tried to figure out what the Statue of Liberty was doing at night.
I did not know that HAM is someone who chews the scene or that the Knicks home had something to do with MSG.
THE DUDE was pretty cool running down the middle and MRS WHO was the TIPIN the iceburg.
Fun Wednesday from PM. FLUE aside!

Billy 5:58 AM  

I feel like the curmudgeon today, but maybe I'm just not getting it. I also had crow before DEER, and still don't know what makes deer humble. Never used B-side ever, it was always side B, and not quite sure how a ham chews scenery (steals the scene?).

Danp 6:14 AM  

Uplit and Lit up are not the same thing. The former is lit from a source below (sort of like back lighting). The latter can be have a light source anywhere.

Loved the theme and the execution. Especially loved the Santa clue.

Never heard of humble pie as a real food. Hope I never do again.

James Dean 6:48 AM  

Polished off this very nice puzzle in 2/3 the time of yesterday's and thought it was a lot of fun, even though I wanted "rest" at 1 across and had to scramble to fix it. Loved "ruthless tactics" - the clue and the answer.

James Dean 6:50 AM  

@Gill I.P. - MSG = Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks make a mess of basketball.

Anonymous 7:01 AM  

UPLIT? Seriously?

Glimmerglass 7:45 AM  

I also love Buster Keaton, and some of what he did was slapstick, but what he did best was deadpan humor and physically demanding stunts. SLAPSTICK describes the Stooges or Laurel and Hardy. Chaplin and Keaton were several grades above. Good puzzle today: lots of fun and about as challenging as we can hope for on a Wednesday (medium).

Victor 7:51 AM  

Uplit, seriously. I was on the local planning board and we reviewed lighting applications for "dark sky" compliance. Looked at whether signs, building faces, etc. were uplit or not, as most applications with up lighting did not comply.

Great puzzle.

Susan McConnell 8:00 AM  

Great Wednesday puzzle. Smooth is definitely the right word for this one.

Dawn 8:01 AM  

Really enjoyed today's puzzle. Author, author!

loren muse smith 8:16 AM  

In preparation for a trip to Maine and the very real possibility of not being able to access the daily NYT puzzle, I printed off about twenty puzzles from XwordInfo yesterday, making sure to print *anything* I saw by Patrick Merrell, among others. I love his puzzles. Also, I had the pleasure of meeting him at the ACPT and seeing that he is truly one of THE DUDEs in crossworld – nice, nice, nice. Nice.

So, as I entered in "enlit" off that "rest" (@AliasZ "Who hasn't entered REST at first?" – yeah. That had to be a deliberate trap), my mind was wailing, "Noooooo! Patriiiiiiickk!" Not you!!!!!" After changing "rooms" to LOFTS and seeing LUNG, I was left with "unlit." Who knew? When I realized that "oner" could not be a phone button, I fixed it all.

I agree with @Victor –UPLIT works for me. I lived in a town where so many people's houses were UPLIT at Christmas. And at the club, lots of people paid DJs to put lights along the floor for UPLIT walls, trees, arches. . . I think it's a fine word. (Made finer by the fact I erased "enlit" to get it. I was weak with relief, I tell you.)

MRS WHO made me smile because any other answer from a work of literature, "Mrs. _ _ _," would have made me say, MRS WHO?

@AliasZ, @Steve J – what about these: "Hey, kid. Could you show a little more feck, please? Put your bowl in the dishwasher! And while I'm nagging, your driving could use a bit more reck, too."

Bottomless pit – my box of Tupperware lids. Seriously. How do these things disappear so fast? They running off with my socks?

Hopeless romantic. Solo's boyfriend? Well. Let's not talk about her. Let's talk instead about THE Biter DUDE from Uruguay. (Sorry, @ludyjynn) OH BOY. @JFC, maybe he's known in the old country as Ye Olde Toothe.

"Shampoo" is being tossed around again today. I've been thinking about that word. It's a good one.

Shampoo - the fake dog doody I regularly order at
Shampoo - the gift my cat leaves me on the fancy new pillow cover

Patrick – loved it! Always a pleasure!

bwalker 8:18 AM  

Isn't crow the meat in humble pie? You learn something new every day! The best this week so far, I thoroughly enjoyed today's puzzle. RUTHLESS STATISTICS was excellent.

AliasZ 8:26 AM  

@Danp, you are absolutely right, there is nothing wrong with UPLIT. I merely punned it up (up-punned it) a bit.

@Anon 7:01, when a statue is lit up by a circle of lights at its base pointing up, it is UP-LIT as opposed to being side-lit, top-lit or back-lit. Seriously.

@ Steve J, I have plenty of ruth, I am also couth, and always combobulated and sheveled. Hey, this sounds great.

joho 8:27 AM  

I wrote in my margin last night: super clever theme!

It's so interesting to me that a puzzle with three grid-spanning theme answers would be a throw back to a gentler, less complicated time. Maybe we have gone a bit crazy with theme packed grids. This puzzle is so elegant and beautifully filled -- it's like a breath of fresh air in our frenzied crossworld.

Thank you, Patrick Merrell, I loved it!

John V 8:41 AM  

Nice one, pretty easy over all. Esp liked 56A. However, got snagged at ROAR/OCHOA cross as I knew neither. Crossing two proper names -- in a corner -- is surprising. Knew the cross had to be a vowel, but guessed wrong with an I.

jberg 8:44 AM  

Proud to say I did not start with REST--only because it was too obvious, so I checked 1D and saw that it was probably LOFTS. I didn't have the nerve to write anything in there, though -- instead started with B SIDE/BUS ROUTE, and filled in the entire East side before I got a letter into the West. Almost the only way out of the E involved guessing the theme, which was hard from the East end. I finally restarted, saw OPER an dFire, and it all fell into place (except for idaHos as my potato type.)

Turns out humble pie is a traditional English dish, a pastry filled with DEER organ meat -- name derives from 'umble' which comes from the French 'numbles' -- but you knew that. Anyway, I love these traditional English dish names. I'm waiting for someone to put SPOTTED DICK in a puzzle. (Possible theme -- dish names clued with other meanings, as in "Saw Nixon at the mall.")

Benko 8:50 AM  

@lms: Your mention of the word shampoo reminded me of the Mr. Show sketch with David Cross as a nervous drug smuggler at customs (he has hidden cannabis in his shampoo bottle and can't stop saying the word "shampoo"):

What is this, some kind of shampoo court? This guy is trying to shampoo me. What about my shampoo rights? You can't shampoo a shampooer.

Fred Smith 9:03 AM  

@Steve J

Re: Babe Ruth sold by the Red Sox to the Yankees in 1919.

This was not well-received by Boston fans, whose a Sox had won five of the prior 19 world championships. Nor by the Gods, apparently, who cast "The Curse of the Bambino" on the club, keeping them from winning another World Series for 85 years, until 2004.

Not smart to anger the Gods ... ;-)

-- Fred

Z 9:10 AM  

hASHED potatoes and eST left me with ELhe Zumwalt. I did avoid the rest problem, so there's that.

I can't believe that no one has pointed out that MRS WHO is the Doctor's mother. Also wondering if SODO I was king of Gomorrah.

@LMS - the biter DUDE is a perfect example of why athletes should never be held up as heroes. He is amazing to watch, just came back early to represent his country, is apparently a great family man. But in the heat of competition something that should stop him from stupidity just is not switched on. Sigh.

Wasn't Lorena OCHOA just in the puzzle - first name last week and now the last name.

lawprof 9:13 AM  

Query: "Where have the NBA finals been played the last fifteen years?" Ans: "No MSG."

Only one writeover (IraS/IPOS) this time around, but only because I exercised restraint when confronted with LUNG (thought rest), FLUE (fire), STOKE (slake), MASHED (idahos). Also kept my powder dry at the BSIDE/sideb option until crosses pointed the way.

My least favorite crosswordese clues (or at least among 'em) are of the "Oshkosh to Wabash direction" genre and their variants (of which, If I count correctly, there are eight possibilities). Nice to see the German actual-word twist on this old warhorse.

I agree with just about everyone: a fine Wednesday from Mr. Merrell.

Sir Hillary 9:15 AM much love for this puzzle, and I didn't really like it. Theme came off as flimsy to me, and despite the preponderance of non-theme 7s, 8s and 9s, the grid felt super-choppy. Basically eight separate mini-puzzles around the perimeter, and a stairway of 3s and 4s in the center. An overreliance on short multi-worders (AMFM, BSIDE, OHBOY, CTSCAN, SODOI, ASIF, RANDD, IDBE).

I'm sure other puzzles that I love suffer from the same maladies, so I'll just chalk up my apathy at this one to "horses for courses."

Some nifty vague clues, I have to say -- for LUNG, FLUE and especially ISSUE. And the clue for RUTHLESSTACTICS is, well, a home run.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

Really liked this one. As a Red Sox fan 1920 made ruthless obvious. I think uplit is usually used in landscaping, trees or statues. Had crow for deer and mrswho only from crosses. Hopeless for listles for a while. A decent time for me on a Wednesday. smb

Nancy 9:33 AM  

Had UnLIT for UPLIT (the Lady with the Lamp goes "green" to combat global warming?), giving me OnER for OPER (#1, a speed-dial option?) And why did I think an IRA was a good investment option? TIP IN finally gave me IPOS. Other than that, smooth, enjoyable sailing. I loved RUTHLESS TACTICS, btw.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:45 AM  

Good one.

Medium-Challenging for me. Held off at 1 A until it made sense, so no write-over there, but at 7 D threw in FATTY before FATSO.

mathguy 9:51 AM  

I was expecting someone to give a better clue to TIRELESSWORKER. The one given doesn't make sense to me.

chefbea 9:56 AM  

Wanted rest at first. Didn't know Ochoa. Have made many pies but never humble. In fact...made a key lime pie yesterday. yummmmm.

Good puzzle!!

Z 10:05 AM  

@mathguy - Snowcat driver?
Tank driver?

Carola 10:06 AM  

Lots to like! Clever theme, especially RUTHLESS TACTICS.

While I resisted writing in rest and fire, I did go wrong for a while on side b, and also could not see LISTLESS ?EE?ING - I thought Santa would be doing LISTLESS gift delivery or something like that; had to get the F and L from crosses.

I liked the parallel Downs GREEK MYTH and SLAPSTICK bracketing the charachters THE DUDE and MRS. WHO.
Also liked SNAKY next to BUS ROUTE.
B-SIDE is indeed UNDER the A-side.

johnny stocker 10:12 AM  

I scuffled quite a bit in the NW corner, but the rest of it went down real nice and smooth. Well done, I thought.

RnRGhost57 10:12 AM  

A fun Wednesday. Good shout-out to James K. Polk, who as US prez added significantly to size of USA (at great cost to Mexico, one should add).

Horace S. Patoot 10:18 AM  

"Story set among mortals with occasional interference by folks from Mt. Olympus", now that's a typical GREEK MYTH.

dk 10:21 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 Moons)

Random observations:

TINA and the BSIDEs were a popular band two decades or so ago in Mpls.

Ruth was known as the Baby Ruth before being known as the Babe --- That said the candy bar is allegedly named after Grover Cleveland's (a 7d) daughter whose name was… Ruth.

This one was as Rex wrote and I share his opinion of the Big Lebowski and Mr. Candler.

Listening to the 87th precinct series by Ed McBain these days and have admitted I am powerless over Audible

Steve J 10:23 AM  

@AliasZ: I'm just glad you stayed plussed throughout the whole thing.

+@LMS: I've long been fascinated with how many words there are that have false roots (I have no idea if that's the actual term, but it's what I call them). Combobulated, sheveled, reck (oh wait, that's a word; like ruth, it's archaic), etc. I'm always curious how they came to be.

My personal favorites: things can explode or implode, but they can't plode (which makes sense; it's tough to go to pieces while staying in place). And while there's defenestration (perhaps my favorite word in the entire language; I love that at some point someone came up with a word specifically for the act of throwing someone out a window), to my knowledge there's no fenestration. Apparently no one ever really threw people in a window.

Raphe 10:30 AM  

How is "Fatso" Round One?" Otherwise, puzzle not very challenging.

Leapfinger 10:33 AM  

'Heveled', not 'sheveled'; sheveled is what you did with the snew last winter.

Love all yer shampundits; shampoor me, I might never wash my hair again. Thinking those cats wouldn't upchuck so much if they weren't trying to inhale all their own before the others came astealing.

GADDSzooks, this was TERPific! I took it slow, so I could really SABER it. Temporarily wandered into the litup rest-room, but straightned up once I hit my NEUROsurge.

LESS was more than enough, themes to me.
*Characteristic of orphanages: MOTHerLESS Nature
*The Beltway has no apples, no bananas today: FrootLESS Loop
*ZipLESS Lock: Ha! I'm looking at@Loren's lid-box; bet y'all thought I was going elsewhere!
*Of course, Kosher means HAMLESS, or is that the end of the Melancholy Dane?
*MRS WHO's on First?: The genderLESS version...OK, the gender-equity version.

So here I sit, RUTHLESS among my ALIEN corn.

Other gleeful touches:
BSIDE above UNDER, and AFAR is
Is A CID related to El CID? Only CHeston knows for sure
MSG near NOSALT seems fairly tasteless
ESTEEmed Readers, am I BOARing you? Sowrry!

A number of musical selections come to mind for today. There's
SHOEDLESS Joe from Hannibal MOE -or-
Sometimes I Feel Like a MOTHerLESS Child
My final choice, however, went to LUNA Rossa, which I had thought recorded by Julius LaRosa, but not so. I bypassed Old Blue Eyes in favour of this 1954 fine old Italian HAM:

Hope that some will take the time to copy this url, and if someone will point me to insert-capability, I'll be happy to not annoy.

Merrelly we roll along.

Casco Kid 10:38 AM  

Today by the Statue of Liberty clue is my expression UPLIT. Ja.

Two Ponies 10:46 AM  

Very enjoyable solve just as I expected from one of my favorite constructors.
Thanks @ jberg for the humble pie explanation.
Hoping for a rebus tomorrow.

Leapfinger 10:56 AM  

@SteveJ, try or

I see the opposite of nonplussed as minussed, and figure if things plode, they're just holding steady. For some reason, I thought that defenestration also had the meaning of putting out someone's eyes, but can't back that up. I suspect now that it came from reading Big Sister's Candide when I was 10, and just getting the wrong idea.

Gill I. P. 10:56 AM  

@James Dean....Thank you. I feel better knowing it wasn't a side-dish for my dumplings.
@Z...Hannibal Lecter bites again!

Lewis 11:05 AM  

I liked that the "direction" clue had a different answer than the usual NNE, SSW, etc., and that KNOX wasn't clued with Ft. Never heard the expression about chewing scenery. Like the clue for ISSUE and would have liked a couple more zippy clues for a Wednesday. Very little grid gruel and as most have said, a smooth solve, to which I'd add, just enough crunch.

Post Puzzle Puzzle (PPP™)(This uses one of today's answers):


If you post an answer, so as not to give it away, just post the second letter of the answer.

Numinous 11:07 AM  


This will show you how to embed a URL.

When I was in high school I dated a girl named Rebecca Ochoa. I didn't fall for rest but did try side b first. I have a beautiful matched set of Raymond Chandler trade paperbacks taking pride of place on my book shelf.I think Robert Mitchum may have been the best Phillip Marlowe. All the others were too small.

I'm surprised that @LMS didn't comment on the almost paraprosdokian nature of the theme clues. I liked the long downers even though I don't associate Buster Keyton with SLAPSTICK which is, more or less, two pieces of lathe separated with a short piece of lathe at the handle end. When someone or something is struck with it, it makes a sharp cracking sound. I was intrigued that the admiral was named for the patron saint of sailors.

I enjoyed this one.

wreck 11:21 AM  

@ Lewis
I get "i" - but maybe too convoluted!

loren muse smith 11:24 AM  

@wreck - that's what I get, too.

@Lewis – for some reason, I absolutely cannot do the Jumble in the paper. Can. Not. I have the same trouble with your PPPs, but today, I think I may have it.

chefbea 11:33 AM  

@Lewis. I should be able to get it cuz you used the word BEET. But I can never solve your PPP's

Masked and Anonym007Us 11:36 AM  

Threw in UPLIT first thing. This puz had almost Everything an M&A likes...

* 007 U's. More on this later.

* Grid-spannin themers. No unsightly black boxes muckin em up. Primo. Was mysteriously compelled to write an "S", in the right margin, after 39-A, tho.

* Great fillins (just goin from memory): GREEKSTICK, SLAPROUTE, LEGOSCAN, BUSMYTH, MRSDUDE, THEWHO. (har. Long way to go, to set up that last one.)

* Patrick Merrell. QED.

* Some little darlin weejects: OST. Extra point for the OST/ASST combo. Field goal for the OST clue. OSU. Like OST, only extra point for its pretty rear end. REC room. Extraspecially like havin both BSIDE (half a record?) and REC (half a record??) in the same puz.

* Dabs of lush desperation: IDBE. Stop right there. We have our winner. Just looks so... shapely. So... funky. So... not from around here. Honrable mention to ECONO-IPOS.

Well, little pardners, thar's yer rodeo. thUmbsUp.

Agent 007-U will return in
"From OCHOA With Love"


Andrew Heinegg 11:48 AM  

Well, let's celebrate when we can. This is two puzzles in a a row from the NYT that were appropriately difficult for the days they were published and we'll constructed. As far as the uplit business (which the spellchecker insists should be pilot), if you have seen the Lady in the dark in person or in pictures, you know the light comes from below so, you only need to use that image and the crosses to come up with uplit, no?

PPP Solver Z 11:56 AM  

@lewis - I am with @lms and @wreck, but I am in the mood for a spat or three about it.

AliasZ 11:58 AM  


On "disheveled" Etymonline states:

late 14c., from O.Fr. deschevele, pp. of descheveler "to disarrange the hair," from DES- "apart" + CHEVEL "hair."

So it is des-chevel'ed, not dis-heveled. Luckily I am almost entirely UN-chevel'ed, therefore never disheveled.

If you'd like further assistance in embedding URL's in this here blog, and in case you have a problem with the example on the page @Numinous so generously provided, feel free to email me. I walk you through it step-by-step.


Over and out for today.

Arlene 11:59 AM  

The kind of Wednesday I like - got the first word - LUNG - and enjoyed finessing the theme answers before finishing had one error - didn't know THE DUDE so had CAM for 35A).

M and Also 12:02 PM  

M&A presents, From OCHOA With Luv...

Lewis 12:12 PM  

@lms, @wreck, @z -- I is correct!

@loren -- Ain't that the truth? I LOVE KenKen and usually breeze right through it. I HATE Jumble. I sweat, twist my hands, pace through the house, and the answer eventually comes, but it's just a thorn all the way through.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:17 PM  

@M&A - 6:20 for me, but U really oUtdid Urself with this wUn!

loren muse smith 12:20 PM  

Yeah! @M&A - 3:09! I beat @Bob and didn't have to cheat one bit. Wow.

Very pretty grid – I had to look at the finished product for a minute. Nice! 17A went right in with no trouble. Don't know if that's a good sign or bad sign. Wanted a past tense for 11A. Just kidding.

A few M&A runts back, I mistakenly thought the theme was headed down one path, but I was wrong. So I'm kinda shamelessly "stealing" from M&A here and heading down that path now. Sorry, buddy.

wreck 12:21 PM  

My original analysis was maybe thinking too hard -- I saw the more "rational" analysis right after I posted it!

I'm amazed how you come up with these everyday!!

Leapfinger 12:23 PM  

@Numinous, thanks will try yours, and am comforted to have back-up. Must tell you that I love your name, but that having you back on board is apt to make me spill about my tour at the local VA some day. Hate what's happening there now; so many of us worked double time to make things right for the good, the bad and the ugly. Also with you on St. ELMO's FUEL, though I'm equally intrigued by Zumwalt --- so many possibilities...

@AliasZ, Ditto thanks. If you were able to walk me through the avatar thingy, you can do anything. [There's still one heifer roaming loose around my house.]

re: sheveled -- I know enough to run after I light a fuse. Should we ever get together, we'll have to sing a few verses of "Shevaliers de la table ronde". Maybe over a glass of Baratsk pálinka

The day beckons.

Steve J 12:25 PM  

@Lewis: I also get I, bit I don't see the resulting word in today's puzzle. Perhaps we have a case of multiple correct possibilities?

Bob Kerfuffle 12:27 PM  

@lms - 3:34. Great puzzle, and not so runty! Must admit I only *got it* after finishing, but great idea!

Fred Romagnolo 1:02 PM  

I laughed out loud at all three theme answers. Polk was Harry Truman's favorite predecessor. In "The Senator Was Indiscreet" there is a marvelous take-off on words: the stupid, bumbling hero (played by the usually urbane and sophisticated William Powell) is campaigning under a banner that reads "He is AGAINST inflation; he is AGAINST deflation; he is FOR flation!" @Glimmerglass is entirely correct on Buster Keaton (after whom I named my favorite dog) slapstick is more Three Stooges; Keaton like Chaplin was high comedy - a class act. Otherwise, I loved the puzzle.

mathguy 1:11 PM  

@Z: "Tank driver" would have been a nice improvement.

@ Lewis: I do a KenKen every morning. Do you choose from the online set or the ones in the paper? I do the 8x8 from the online. I'm able to do about two out of three.

M and A Editor in Briefs Desk 1:12 PM  

@muse: runtalicious. I had me a big time.
First entry: 10-A; got one of those at our house. Caught onto the theme at 9-D. Essential, for gainin valuable nanoseconds on the perimeter. 5- and 22-D register high and mighty on the desperado scale. Not quite sure what M&A puz yours was an ode to; the one with the roads, maybe? Anyhoo, thUmbsUp on everything except yer U-count.
o <-- tears for some lost city in Utah

3:09 is mucho impressive, on any runtpuz. ACPT regional runnerup territory. Keep up honin yer skills. Go dribble a ball right next to @63's place, if necessary.


Hopthumb 1:13 PM  

Very nice, @Lorena, tho my state of spin had me gunning with a CARBIN [sans E] for a bit

[we seem to be in a run of fuzzy math]

LaneB 1:16 PM  

A bit tougher than medium for me, but managed to grind through it with more trouble than usual in the NE corner. A nice Wednesday, so Thanks Mr. Merrell!

Outlaw M and A Minor Infraction, sorry 1:32 PM  

@muse: Alternate 16-A runtclue: "F. ___ Schwartz??"

PPP Solver Z 1:44 PM  

@Steve J - ADDS is from the puzzle - the rest not. Else, I didn't solve.

wreck 1:57 PM  

@Steve J @Z

The "answer" with the "I" is from the puzzle.

Ahsan Afsar 2:20 PM  

World Most Popular and Top Amazing Speedy Cars

Numinous 3:03 PM  

I'll get to the new runtzs soon. In the mean time, I have one up too. It's here and soon to appear at

Numinous 3:10 PM  

I've been advised to mention that the above mentioned runt puz has two unchecked squares.

wreck 3:29 PM  

@Steve J and @ Z

I know where you are going .. and you have a point, but since the answer has to be in the puzzle, the commonality of both "is to's" is only one answer. I do think you have a valid complaint!

r.alphbunker 3:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
r.alphbunker 3:33 PM  

@M and A

I am pleased to inform you that your runtpuzzes have been accepted for publication at

Our policy is that if you have the guts to publish the link here we have the guts to publish it at

@Loren: They can find your type in Eli, Texas.

@M and A and wouldn't it be nice if you were from Hideo, Utah

And @Numinous, you can call me r.alph bon coeur.

Lewis 3:46 PM  

@mathguy -- I do KK online. Somehow it's just in synch with how my mind thinks...

Post Puzzle Puzzle (PPP™) solution:

The problem was ADDS: BEET ; SHEER: _____

The answer is TIFFS. To get from ADDS (one of today's crossword answers) to BEET, you go to the next letter, that is you go from A to B, from D to E, etc.

wreck 3:53 PM  

Then I was the one that was wrong! I did see TIFFS, but since I thought you were stating the answer was in the puzzle -- I was using TIPIN.

ADds : BEet

SHeer : TIpin

Ludyjynn 3:54 PM  

One of the most uplifting experiences I ever had was during an evening cruise in NYC when the boat reached the banks of Liberty Island, the Captain idled directly in front of the UPLIT Statue of Liberty for several minutes while patriotic songs played aloud and every single person on board cried.

If you're ever in Baltimore, a similar sensation occurs at the Ft. McHenry Monument Visitors Center at the end of the slideshow. The curtain rises and the huge American flag waves as an Annapolis choir sings the Star Spangled Banner. Once again, everyone cries. Just beautiful.

Terrific Wed. puzzle. Thanks, PM and WS.

mathguy 4:24 PM  

@Lewis: I print out the KK because I need to write little numbers in the corners of the squares.

sanfranman59 4:40 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)

Wed 9:33, 9:36, 0.99, 49%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:38, 6:08, 1.08, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Anonymous 4:56 PM  

An archaic umble-pie might well be made of deer offal, but the meat in humble pie is plain old crow. The clue springs from a Mondegreen. (After she eats humble pie we might watch as the girl with colitis goes by because there's a bathroom on the right.)

because I must 5:06 PM  

Dang, @Numin, I thought sure I knew my Botany, but 13A wouldn't ----in8 in CANE. Starin' @ 3 & 5 in place when I saw 15D would be the GOAT.

Your'n seem tougher to me.

These little DUDES are like tater chips.

Carola 5:19 PM  

@Ludyjynn - I second you on Baltimore, where I lived several decades ago. One of my fondest memories is of a 4th of July evening at Ft. McHenry in the early 1970s. I went mainly for the fireworks (rockets' red glare, bombs bursting in air!) over the harbor, but what was really memorable was the unexpected - the ceremony in which some 100 people became U.S. citizens, the Marine Corps band, and the unfurling of that amazing 30 x 40 foot flag.

loren muse smith 6:17 PM  

Aw man, @Numinous – brutal! I got 9A on my own, and then I had to start cheating. You know a lot of words!!

@r.alph – I got Hideo, but not the Texas one. Some that didn't make the cut but that I liked:

Redo, Arkansas
Comma, North Dakota
Cruel, Louisiana
Thor, New York
Conga, Maine
Days, Pennsylvania
Gasped, Alabama

Oh, and I had Ratso and Cameo, Utah!

Numinous 6:24 PM  

And you do realize, I hope, I started making this puz specifically for you.

-- Numi

Lewis 6:27 PM  

@lms -- your new cities puzzle is very clever; that's a terrific theme. Bravo!

Sfingi 6:28 PM  

Of the 6 clues I had to Google, 5 were sports. UGH.

Numinous 6:35 PM  

I'll mention this again tomorrow, I suppose but if you like cryptics, try This.

mac 6:42 PM  

Very good Wednesday puzzle, easy-medium for me. I avoided rest and side b because of crosses

Uplit is a totally normal term for anyone who has had some outdoor lighting put in. Deer at 12D and fatso were surprising to me.

At the moment most of the world knows GUILLERMO Ochoa better than the golfer! Playing Holland on Sunday.

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 5:17, 6:04, 0.87, 4%, Easy (9th lowest ratio of 233 Mondays)
Tue 8:33, 8:33, 1.00, 50%, Medium
Wed 9:40, 9:40, 1.00, 51%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:33, 3:55, 0.91, 9%, Easy
Tue 5:30, 5:21, 1.01, 54%, Medium
Wed 6:29, 6:08, 1.06, 66%, Medium-Challenging

Wednesday's Child 12:50 AM  

If you do like salt with your Margarita then don't go to MOES because MOES HAS NOSALT.

I likes LEO LEGOLAND, too.

Nice Wednesday, Patrick. Satisfying.

Under my usual Wednesday time but I'm ok with that.

spacecraft 10:53 AM  

A ton to like in this one. What is it about constructors named Patrick? I happened to finish up in the NE filling in acrosses. When I saw IDBE, I eagerly went to the clue, anticipating "____ inclined--:" words heard during the seventh inning of a 56a home game. What a great tie-in clue that would have been! The actual clue was a letdown.

Unfortunately, this gem cannot earn more than a B from me; the flag was pulled for RANDD. No, no, NO! The word AND cannot be written out in an abbreviation!

Hand up for UnLIT. The across saved it. Wow, UPLIT, really? As in, lit from below? I wonder about the alternative. Would they fly helicopters with searchlights all night?

Almost inked in LAYUP for the easy two, but held off long enough. The TIPIN looks easy, but positioning for it is an art. Rodman was a master.

There maybe oughta be an asterisk beside the U count, as we have two U-niversities. One should really be the limit, don'tcha think?

Re humble pie: I think DEER after it's dead should be "venison," just as COW is "beef."

So THAT's why ELMO's pet is a fish! It all makes sense now.

Great, funny punny themers. An enjoyable do. Too bad about 67a.

515; that KNOX me out.

DMG 2:11 PM  

Liked this one. A good mix of "write right in" clues, and "have to think about it" puzzlers. In the end, it all worked out, including the totally unknown to me OCHOA and MRSWHO. Also, I thought humble pie contained berries. Maybe that's bumble berry pie? My final letter was the K giving me GREEKMYTH where I had originally wanted a specific tale.

@Z: thanks for your patient explanation of how to make the reference trick work on the iPad. Discovered there were 19 references to ICEMELT, and how to page through them! Probably off to spend today playing with this new gizmo.

4641. I join @Spacecraft on the sidelines.

Dirigonzo 2:29 PM  

It's always refreshing to arrive in syndiland and find @spacy actually commenting on the puzzle at hand as the real-time commentariat seems to have morphed into a blog covering other matters (not that there's anything wrong with that). Other than having the Knicks home as nyc before the more specific MSG came along, I managed with no write-overs, so maybe a little easier than the typical mid-week puzzle?

If one dials OPER does an actual operator come on the line to help with the call, or is it there just for nostalgic reasons? I'd try it to find out but I'm afraid of what the related charge might be.

502 - maybe a winner?

Dirigonzo 6:25 PM  

And speaking of commentary unrelated to this puzzle, I just finished the Sunday puzzle from July 27,2008, which had the clue, "Tic-tac-toe plays" with the answer being XSANDOS. I mention it only because I think it might help @spacy feel better about RANDD by comparison.

spacecraft 7:51 PM  

Ew. You're right, @Diri. egad!

rain forest 12:39 AM  

What a nice, lively puzzle. This has been a good week, so far, and I expect no less as we forge ahead.

If backlit is fine, so is UPLIT.

I was thinking (briefly) that, down here in Syndiland, we could get an alternate conversation going, about things that the real-timers either wouldn't ever read, or else would not have a clue about what we are talking. Well, maybe not. Here, I don't think there is much interest in one-upping one another, and I am proud to follow the excellent lead of @Spacey and his seamless transition from the phlug of the guys upstairs to the rather more homespun offerings of we little people.

2275 = out

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