Financial writer Marshall / THU 7-31-14 / Noire Russie borderer / Sardonic Larry / Antipolio pioneer / Pacific nation once known as Pleasant Island / Hit 1996 live-action / animated film

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Constructor: Jeff Chen and Jill Denny

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: [SPACE BAR] (55A: Visual representation of this puzzle's theme) — rebus puzzle where  you have to insert (or imagine) "SPACE" in each of the squares in 55A in order for all the crosses to work. Two other theme answers take [SPACE BAR] as their clues (one straight, one wacky):

20A: 55-Across, e.g. (COMPUTER KEY)
28A: 55-Across, e.g.? ("STAR WARS" CANTINA)

SPACE answers:
  • AIR SPACES (41D: Areas that may be protected by military jets)
  • DISK SPACE (36D: You might need a lot of it for your files)
  • "SPACE JAM" (56D: Hit 1996 live-action / animated film)
  • SPACE AGE (57D: We're living in it) (I thought I was living in the Digital Age)
  • SPACE BAR (58D: Name for 55-Across)
  • DEEP SPACE (37D: It's far out)
  • SUBSPACES (43D: Regions within regions)

Word of the Day: ANDREA Bargnani (9D: Bargnani of the N.B.A.) —
Andrea Bargnani Italian pronunciation: [anˈdrɛa barˈɲani] (born 26 October 1985) is an Italian professional basketball player who currently plays for the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was selected first overall in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors. He is a power forward/centerstanding at 213 cm (7 ft 0 in) and weighing 113 kg (250 lbs). Prior to his NBA career, Bargnani played for Benetton Treviso in the Italian Serie A and theEuroleague. In his first two seasons with the Raptors, he helped the team reach the NBA Playoffs. They won the Atlantic Division title in 2006–07. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one was doubly tough—first, the theme was nowhere to be found up top (except possibly by inference from COMPUTER KEY if you were able to piece that one together entirely from crosses) and took some work to uncover even when I got down to where the [SPACE BAR] was; second, the cluing on the short stuff was toughened up quite a bit in places (see, for instance, [Where the nose is] for BOW (of a ship), or [Stroke, in a way] for OAR or [It might make one's shadow disappear] for RAZOR, etc.). I don't normally like definitions as answers, but the cleverness of "STAR WARS" CANTINA as an additional type of [SPACE BAR] won me over. The SPACE crosses were a little ugly on the ends, with the plurals, and I thought 54A *was* the [SPACE BAR], so having [SPACE] BAR be a separate answer was slightly odd / redundant, but otherwise I thought this pretty solid and entertaining. Tough, though. Not brutal, but definitely well on the tough side of Thursday.

Where did I shoot myself in the foot today? Well, the foot, presumably. The question kind of answers itself. But where, geographically? Well, worst early mistake was having --TA- at 32A: Come to and writing in GET AT. I was thinking that one might "come to" one's point, i.e. GET AT something. It's a poor answer, I admit, but there it was. Stalled me over there. Oh, that error was compounded by a (possibly) worse one at 5D: Who said "The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers" (CHOPRA). I would like to apologize to Frederic CHOPIN for ever considering that me might have uttered / written such a banal piece of bathroom-mirror affirmation nonsense. Well, not nonsense. I'm sure it's true enough, the sentiment. But it's hardly an original thought. Here is some CHOPIN as a token of my sincere regret at the brief misattribution.

  • 1A: Financial writer Marshall (LOEB) — No idea. Never had one, never will. I am doomed to continue not knowing this person's name forever. I accept this.
  • 10A: Captain played by Patrick Stewart (AHAB) — Here's where I first suspected a rebus, because PICARD didn't fit...
  • 25A: Dangling piece of jewelry (EARBOB) — [frowny face]. This differs from an EARRING how? Oh, not at all. I see. Wonderful.
  • 34A: Antipolio pioneer (SABIN) — I got caught in no man's land among SALK, (Nick) SABAN, and (Carl) SAGAN. Apologies to you, too, Mr. SABIN.
  • 22D: Nebr. neighbor (KANS.) — Ouch. That's about as bad as OREG. … which I have also seen, sadly. My guess is that whoever is still using these four-letter abbrevs. is also wearing EARBOBs.
  • 51D: Pacific nation once known as Pleasant Island (NAURU) — I kind of have to let "Pacific nations" slowly come together from crosses. I feel like there are a bunch of 5-letter ones, though right now I can think only of TONGA and PALAU. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:08 AM  

This was tough for me too.  Put in LED and then Elm tree (rebus) and then erased everything.  It went more slowly after that.  

Had CHOP and wondered if @Rex CHOPin had some pithy quotes. 

I've seen NAURU tons of times and still can't remember how to spell it.  Kinda like ISAO AOKI (thanks Andrea if you are still out there for the trick on that one).

Wanted EARBud but the downs were impossible.

note before REST.

Soap before SUDS.

Tried to put an H in BEGORRA.

Really liked this one.  Tricky theme with some ZING. 

Whirred Whacks 12:09 AM  

Using the rebus button and typing in SPACE in each of those boxes was also accepted by my Times iPad as being correct, i.e., I received the "You correctly solved the puzzle" message with that answer.

Moly Shu 12:18 AM  

Challenging DNF at BLEW/BOW, had BLEd/BOd. Seemed reasonable. Also CHOPin before CHOPRA like @Rex, made USURER take a long time to get there. Had COMPUTERKEY early, but it didn't help with the theme at all. Some of the cluing was really tough, ACE and OAR being prime examples.
DEUS was new to me and SQUIB rings a bell, but maybe I'm confusing it with other SQUIBS like football kicks and firecrackers. Yea, challenging.

Evan 12:44 AM  

There's a funny moment in a Dr. Steve Brule segment on "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" where Brule (John C. Reilly) tells the viewers about the planets by murmuring "SPACE SPACE SPACE SPACE SPACE SPACE SPACE...." to himself. That's what jumped to mind when I finished this puzzle. You can watch that clip here.

Somehow I had a fairly easy time with this one -- I caught the rebus early on and didn't look back. Good stuff. I thought the clues for both EVE and HOLY BIBLE were great. And you can count me among those who had CHOPIN instead of CHOPRA at first.

okanaganer 12:45 AM  

@Rex said "SPACE AGE...I thought we were living in the digital age".

Well believe it or not, at first I wanted to put ICE AGE. Because we are in fact living in (an inter-glacial period of) an ice age...honest! Look it up. But not the space age any more...I think it ended in about 1972. Or 1986 with Challenger. Or 2011 with the last Shuttle; take your pick.

There will of course be a new SPACE AGE, eventually. Elon Musk may be the first man on Mars.

[ ]...the final frontier...

Zeke 12:52 AM  

I hate explicitely violent films, but I totally would go to one where there was a serial killer murdering all purveyors of platitudes such as "The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers" in a manner which directly contradicts the platitude. Such a scene would be where the killer injected air directly into CHOPRA's heart, while gloating and murmuring "Yeah, you're heart's open now, how does it feel? Good? Happy now?"

I'm sure that Morgan Freeman (who else could play the lead detective other than he?) and some pretty-boy junior detective would leave the case unsolved in the name of humanity.

Evan 12:55 AM  

I stand corrected: that video clip of Dr. Steve Brule is from a Tim and Eric spin-off, "Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule." Either way, I say go ahead and add BRULE to your word lists, puzzlers.

Questinia 12:57 AM  

Also put in Chopin in disbelief. Figured it was something he might have said to Georges Sand while on paregoric and nibbling on her EARBOB.

First puzzle since Monday I solved without a dnf.

Danny 1:21 AM  

I, too, tried CHOPin, but was thinking of Kate, not Frederic.

RnRGhost57 1:22 AM  

Hey @Zeke,
That "pretty-boy junior detective" turned out to be a pretty good actor. See the film on Benjamin Button, par example.

Campesite 1:59 AM  

If you squint, the grid ever so slightly resembles a SPACE Invader alien.

Or not, it's late here.

Steve J 2:02 AM  

Wanted to like this, and there's a lot I do like about it. But there's one huge problem with the theme that I can't get past.

20A and 54D are the exact same thing. They describe the exact same piece of plastic on your keyboard, and there's no way I can think of that they can be conceived of as different things. That's a major blemish on theme execution, if you can't pull it off without repeating yourself. At least from where I sit.

STAR WARS CANTINA does definitely add a good amount of gloss back on, but the theme's still got a big ol' blemish on it.

Outside there: mix of nice cluing (23A, 47D) and cluing that seemed to try a little too hard to be obscure or obtuse (2D, 13D ).

I can never remember Marshall LOEB, no matter how often he shows up. That made the NW slow to get. In my years in newspapers, I don't recall us ever referring to SQUIBs, so I couldn't see that at all. Slowed in that corner as well. End result was definitely a challenging - and mixed-bag - Thursday.

John Child 2:54 AM  

Yes indeed @Campsite. A good representation of it I think. I saw that when I got the first rebus square.

Space Invaders (スペースインベーダー Supēsu Inbēdā?) is an arcade video game developed by Tomohiro Nishikado and released in 1978. It was originally manufactured and sold by Taito in Japan, and was later licensed for production in the United States by the Midway division of Bally. - Wikipedis

r.alphbunker 3:01 AM  

Stalled for 2min 23secs at the following incomplete grid

_ VE Second of all?
U_ T_ D You, on the Yucatán
_ TARWARSC_ NTINA 55-Across, e.g.?
ANDRE_ Bargnani of the N.B.A.

Came alive when I realized that EVE was the second person. Really wanted ELL (too many runtpuzzes?). The final minute and half of the puzzle was spent coming up with CANTINA and it took another five minutes to realize that it was a space bar. That aha was a nice way to end the puzzle.

Anonymous 3:40 AM  

Almost a pan-gram. Nice that puzzle nut ruined by desperate attempt to find a place for an "F"

Anonymous 3:41 AM  

NOT ruined...its late!

Gill I. P. 5:05 AM  

Well all you cultured people who had CHOPin instead of CHOPRA are smarter than I am because I had CHARRO. You know, the cuchi-cuhi who was married to Cugat? Except she only spells her name with one R...
Didn't know LOEB, ANDREA, HULU and could not remember ROARK although I read the "Fountainhead" twice because that was the thing to do if you wanted to sound all sophisticated and everything.
I was feeling pretty good that I got STARWARSCANTINA and the space trick although it took forever.
I only knew EARBOB because it was discussed here at length about 5 or 6 years ago!
OK puzzle with lots of fun fill but just a tad too many HUH's?? for me to really enjoy.

Gareth Bain 6:28 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
pc 6:35 AM  

Poorly executed garbage. Lots of cluing that shows basic ignorance of the intended answers. We haven't lived in the SPACEAGE for about 30 years. A SPACEBAR is not a COMPUTERKEY, it's a bar. EARBOBs don't dangle, they clamp on. Throw in the asinine quote to squeeze in pop-psychologist feel good doctor CHOPRA; and great original fill like KANS, OOH and you have an alert for me: if I see either of these constructors associated with a puzzle again I simply won't do it.

Doris 6:56 AM  

Scarlett O'Hara wore EARBOBS. That's the only place I've ever seen the term. They do dangle and bob; that's where the "bob" comes in. Remembered this because (a) Margaret Mitchell describes clothing and jewelry in minute detail and (b) I read and re-read GWTW countless times as a "tween." The costume designer for the film was careful to heed most of Mitchell's descriptions. I see that Word doesn't recognize "earbobs," but does.

Muscato 7:23 AM  

I, too, associate EARBOBs only with long summer afternoons reading Gone With the Wind, and for a while I wondered whether, in addition to revolutionizinng modern dress, CHANEL was given to annoying platitudes.

loren muse smith 7:27 AM  

Whew. So glad others found this one hard. I dug my heels in because I knew Jeff and his wife wouldn't put one out there that wouldn't be doable. And I was right. Finished with one error.

Several early missteps:

AIR "zones" was my first rebus entry, followed by
SUB "sets"
"reword" for REWORK
"ell" for EVE
"soap" for SUDS (Morning, @jae)
some kind of weird spelling for Salk to fit there – I always do that. Always
"bezel" for BANGS (terrific clue, by the way)
"bled/bod" for BLEW/BOW, and I never changed it (Morning, @Moly Shu). I rarely separate the laundry.

And, of course, I had that warm, fuzzy Chopin and his butterflied, flowered poster quote. I can sniff cynically that I don't know much about CHOPRA, but then again I was busy scurrying off whenever possible to buy the Tea/Supplement of the Week as per Dr. Oz' instructions. (My first hint that something was up with Dr. Oz was a rather dismissive comment by the girl working the health section in Whole Foods as we were looking for the lavender mist, having already secured the lemon grass tea. Whatever she said, I pictured the same people showing up every week to look for the green coffee bean extract and the pulverized dried Nauru rosemary poultice 12 packs. Mercifully, John Oliver set me straight. FWIW -the FDA still hasn't investigated that flea-poison supplement that had Mom growing a bunch of hair on her temples.)

@jae – I truly, actually, smiled when I stumbled on the spelling of BEGORRA, wanting an H somewhere, too, and knowing you did the same thing.

Listen, all you doubters – I used the term EARBOB and only EARBOB up until we moved to Atlanta from Chattanooga. Mom wore them, these clip-ons, that either sat firmly in place up on her ears or dangled a little down below. (Two other terms oldish terms we used - wash rag and underpants. Wash cloth and underwear or panties replaced these much later.)

Jill, Jeff – I, like @Campesite and @John Child, saw kind of a guy - mine standing there with his hands up as though he were being robbed, but it was all sorted out in the end, and I really enjoyed it. Nice work, you two!!

AliasZ 8:30 AM  

Jeff and Jill made plans to fill
A crossword grid with SPACE junk,
But Jeff played clown and went to town,
Left Jill to fill a large chunk.

Jill caught him in SPACE CANTIN'
Where Jeff was 'ready quite drunk,
Jill got fierce, she grabbed his ears
And plopped him in the car trunk.

Jeff woke up and drank a cup
Of joe without a laughter,
Jill was pissed but then they kissed
And lived well ever after.

Susan McConnell 8:33 AM  

Another hand up for seeing the space invader dude, especially after getting STAR WARS CANTINA filled in.

Words can't describe how I loathe CHOPRA and his ilk.

Liked TREE rings and ONION rings.

Mohair Sam 8:37 AM  

Humbled by this puzzle - which I thought was terrific except for 5d (how did Will let that horrid clue through?) and SPACEAGE - has anyone checked the NASA budget lately?

Was dead sure BEGORRA was BEGORhA, and the Knick was ANDREs, and fell for the CHOPin feint (My thought - if Chopin said anything why would he say that? Oh well). And just never sussed STARWARSCANTINA. Great clue - and hence a dnf here.

But I liked it a lot. Nifty rebus, and outstanding cluing - CHOPRA excepted. Thanks much Jill and Jeff.

Mark 8:44 AM  

Very enjoyable to figure out. The theme fell early, but the imagination quotient was delightfully high. Jeff and Jill triumphant.

jberg 8:56 AM  

Me too for BEGORah at first. I hadn't noticed the space invader, but that's definitely him (or her, who knows?). Other little problems: Ell before EVE (thinking "I'm on to that little trick!"), Rate before RISK (Ayn Rand set me straight there), and thinking if it was Patrick Stewart it must be a movie from one of those Patrick O'Brien novels, which held me back from seeing AHAB for far too long.

Yeah, some of the rebus downs are awkward -- SUB SPACES? Really? -- but worth it, it's a beautiful puzzle.

You can get the pangram if you use one of those blank tiles for the F. But that makes it too easy.

Wade 9:01 AM  

Nauru was the subject of one of the best This American Life episodes I've heard. It was several years ago. Here's the Squib: "Nauru is a tiny island, population 12,000, a third of the size of Manhattan and far from anywhere: Yet at the center of several of the decade's biggest global events. Contributing editor Jack Hitt tells the untold story of this dot in the middle of the Pacific and its involvement in the bankrupting of the Russian economy, global terrorism, North Korean defectors, the end of the world, and the late 1980s theatrical flop of a London musical based on the life of Leonardo da Vinci called Leonardo, A Portrait of Love."

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:16 AM  

Erm, it's the CREATURE CANTINA not "STAR WARS" CANTINA, innit?

joho 9:17 AM  

This really fit the bill for a Thursday: perfect!

Even though I got the blanks pretty quickly at 55A it took quite a while to figure out COMPUTERKEY and the brilliant STARWARSCANTINA. At first I had STARWARSCene___ thinking it would be III or one or two. I was so happy to finally get the correct and superb answer which brought on a big smile.

I laughed at seeing Shark as a clue as I was watching "Sharknado 2" while solving.

I spelled it SAuLK at first.

Thank you Jeff and Jill -- I so enjoyed your little jewel of a puzzle!

Casco Kid 9:26 AM  

1:48. 4 errors. ElE/STOlE. SlUIB/iTS No googles. One spoiler/cheat: CHOPRA. (I shouldn't read my texts until I'm done!)

Challenging for sure. So many rabbit holes I lost count. That is why we should all use @r.alph's program.

Ultimately I'm nonplussed. I thought there would be more cleverness with the SPACE theme. COMPUTERKEY is a DRAG, and the leap from seven spaces to STARWARSCANTINA only occurs to me now. The seven space constitute a "space bar" -- get it? -- which is what the cantina was -- get it? Yes, finally I do. And I'm proud to say I solved it entirely from the crosses, including the spoiler A in CHOPRA.

Not this puzzle but others have led me to read about NAURU. Fascinating history. Cautionary environmental tale. This is what the end stage of environmental externality looks like, as I'm sure @jberg will attest.

chefbea 9:31 AM  

Too tough for me. Got the southern part with all the spaces but thats it.

But we did have a kitchen prop left over from yesterday...stove

ranman 9:34 AM  

Laughed out loud at your Chopin/Chopra comment. Deepak took some ZINGS in "10% Happier" as well. Perhaps his 15 (years?) of fame is finally fading?....

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

Ugh. A space bar is not a computer key; it's a keyboard key. Thought this one tried too hard to be clever, and there was little reward at the end.

jdv 9:42 AM  

Medium. Had AMIGA before CHICA; AWAKE before TOTAL; REWORD before REWORK. Left/Right symmetry. That's a pretty long space bar; mine is 5 keylengths, not 7. Earbob is a new one. Liked it.

John V 9:42 AM  

Quite hard. Neat theme; alas I DNF. The cluing, as noted was, IMHO, Saturday hard.

Nice puz from Seattle's number puzzle couple.

Leapfinger 9:47 AM  

Hi, @Rex! That's Dr. SABIN. [Salk it to me!]

O ye of little faith who thought CHOPin! Good for youse guys who came up with Charro and Chanel. That one finally made me glad I'd seen Tupac CHOPRA on OPRAh all those years ago when I had nothing better to do. He struck me as being very happy within himself.

@Zeke, now I know what to do if ever I want to torture you a la "Clockwork Orange" ending: just set you up with an endless loop of SNL Stuart Smalley 'Daily Affirmations".
@Q-tinia, loved your morphing that paregoric panegyric.

@Campesite, @lms, me too, but what I saw in the starting grid was definitely Artoo Detoo, so I'm sure that tipped me toward STARWARS. I pretty much zipped from the NWCorner down to AIR[_], and with DISK[_] adjacent, had that old space bar clicking early on. Boy, the sequence of the solve sure makes a difference!!

Plenty of places where you had to US UR, ER...what? US UR head.
Marshall was not in my frontal LOEB.
RAZOR was clued about as un-GENDERNEUTRAL as I can take. I was thinking about shadows disappearing at High Noon. LESSEN learned!

Loved the subtle misdirect of 32A. I 'came to' just in time to get TOTAL. Anyone out there interested in how many cars I've TOTALled? And I'm an excellent driver, you know.

Other tidbits:
SQUIBS came from being weaned on the New Yorker in ages past.
Saw ARI, looked for GATO.
No gato, but what's with this MULATA-MESTIZA-CHICA progression? Who are we messing with?

Bottom line: With a puzzle this good, HULUks anywhere else? SSSSSSSizzling!!

Arlene 10:21 AM  

Perseverance paid off - slogged through only to be held up by not knowing the movie SPACE JAM.
That's par for the course for me - as I couldn't go to the movies back then because of my hearing loss, and none had captioning. So there's a big gap in my puzzle-solving data base. A quick Google, and I was done.
And I agree - looks like a space invader to me, too!

Z 10:23 AM  

Cluing AHAB via Patrick Stewart in a SPACE puzzle is pure, unadulterated evil. How does one fit Jean-Luc Picard into four squares? This wasn't a rabbit hole, this was the Grand Canyon. Add in that I just wasn't on the cluing wavelength today and this was a Saturday plus time for me.

Hand up for CHOPin. I wish CHArro had occurred to me, a far far far better wrong answer. As LOEB Marshall and Deepak CHOPRA's success indicate, peoples gullibility for Snake Oil Salesmen continues unabated (to be fair, LOEB is a WOE to me - but I've long believed that the only difference between various financial writers is the subtlety of their platitudes - "the less you open your checkbook to me the more my heart suffers").

The POCs at the ends of the {SPACE BAR} don't have to be there unless you want to complete the Space Invader image in the grid. I wasted many a quarter on Space Invaders and Galaga back in the day, not to mention Tempest.

I thought Szechuan was the spicy southern Chinese food and HUNAN the blander, Madison Square Garden laden variety.

Nancy 10:27 AM  

Challenging but do-able and I had a really good time. Saw the trick only at the point that it had become necessary to see it -- not too early and not too late. But I didn't see the relationship of 28A until I came here, and because I had ANDREI instead of ANDREA, that gave me STAR WARS CINTINA. Was so thrilled at finding the space bar representation at 55A, that I forgot to correct 28A. Since, in a puzzle competition I WOULD have checked this answer, I am awarding myself a "Solved."

retired_chemist 10:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 10:29 AM  

Pretty good. Nicely challenging.

Figured out rather late that the rebus was all in 55A. There were several miscues before that - foRtS @ 41D, SUB(area)s @ 43D followed by a frantic look for other places where (area) could be a rebus square, sort of wanted rAGE for what we're living in @ 57D. Nah, too pessimistic and existential.

But when I had most of the crosses filled correctly in with a bunch of blank squares in 55A, I saw the light and finished quickly.

Wanted EARfOB for 25A (never heard of either that or EARBOB), which led me to consider HOLY faBLE for 11D. Again, nah, not unless Will wants the religious right to NAIL him.

Thanks, constructors. A good time was had by all. Most, anyway.

RooMonster 10:33 AM  

Hey All!
Puzzle was overall good and Thursdayish, however, once the theme came about, my heart skipped a beat, because just yesterday, (really! yesterday!) I mailed a puzzle to the NYT with a similar theme! (Although, mine is laid out differently.) I guess it's true what they say, Great minds think alike!!

On this puz, had BLEd/BOd before BLEW/BOW, Ell before EVE, wOw before OOH, BEGhoRA (??) before BEGORRA, SAulk, then rABIN, before SABIN, eroS befor DEUS (thinking Greek/Roman god-swap). I see we have another AND answer, hasn't seemed to raise quite the furor as yesterday.

BEGORRA! I RISK DESPAIR as I REWORK the ZINGS and BANGS of this puzzle. INOT CARE the puz JIBES with SPACEBAR cluing. It BLEW (not really!). I will have a PBANDJ and REST>

See ya!


Anonymous 10:33 AM  

It's Deepak CHOPRA, not Tupac.

Leapfinger 10:56 AM  

I knew that, Anon10:33. Joke.
Besides, we already had enough DEEPS in the grid. [Come out, come out, whoever you are.]

@Z, I agree with your HUNAN/Szechuan take. Funny, how you worked in the MSG! Which reminds me, I left you a late MSG answering your late question last night. Did U C?

We're getting some fine poetry from the pros today. Yup, this Thursday is definitely no WENDSday

quilter1 11:08 AM  

Never got any traction here today so DNF. After reading the review I knew I never had a chance. On to BEQ.

RooMonster 11:22 AM  

Thanks for the compliment @Leapfinger!! ;-D

Love this place.


Fred Romagnolo 11:39 AM  

As I said last week, if you have LOEB, can Leopold be far behind? I really struggled because I didn't get the theme till late. ANDREA is a pretty common Italian name (either sex) and "Bargnani" was certainly Italian, although I don't follow basketball. Also didn't know Larry DAVID and had to guess between that and DAVIs. Hands up for REWORd. But did finally finish. It seems to be a truism that four letter captains are either AHAB or Nemo.

Martin 12:16 PM  


(Late from yesterday -- I'm on a road trip so it's hard to be timely.)

I prefer ENESCU and would love to see it in a puzzle too. But the bigger issue is that a quick search at the Times site shows that "Enesco" is the preferred spelling there, going back to his first mention in a 1910 article. It's a strange transliteration, but one that's pervasive. Google romanesco/romanenscu to see it in play. You seem to imply I was arguing that "Enescu" is wrong. Not at all. I was just arguing that "Enesco" isn't wrong either. As to it being the preferred spelling at the NYT, that isn't even up to Will Shortz.

Elaine and I will be spending a couple of days in Victoria and having a cup of coffee with MAS will be a highlight.

Masked and Anonym007Us 12:25 PM  

Really like the L-R symmetry and how the rebus reb-bits are all huddled together on one line near the bottom. Very different. Very good. thUmbsUp.

Initial inspection of everything led me to try unravelin 55-Across, first. First ten minutes of that yielded AGA. So I proceded to solve the SW and SE corners, which went mucho faster. Had dINGS in 60-A too dayum long. Neat how those two corners were yer basic scrabble cornucoopia: XWZK to the left, JQ to the right. Said "Pangram City" to self, and went back to my assault on that 55-A thing from outer space.

When I got down to havin AIR?S and ?AGE and DEEP? and SUB?S, the big ahar moment hit, and the rest was mopup.

Thanx for the workout and the 007 U's and the SOV weeject and the ARK of RO and for that superhard upper center part and two golden ___ rings in a pear TREE...


mac 12:30 PM  

Challenging alright.

Hand up for ELL, wow, and wanting to put in Szechuan somehow. I had the best food of that cuisine in the Queens Chinatown.

What's a honey child?

Sir Hillary 12:49 PM  

Good theme. Loved STARWARSCANTINA as a gag answer.

CHOPin for CHOPRA? Indeed, at least until crosses ruled that out.

BLEd/BOd? Yep, that one too. Actually, that's how I ended, so technically a DNF. That's basically a Schrodinger cross, so I don't feel bad at all.

Carola 12:51 PM  

Medium here, as I caught onto the theme only at the end: the [SPACE BAR] was the last thing I filled in, or rather didn't fill in.
Struggled in the CHICA and USERER SUB[SPACES].
In the small-moment-of-triumph category: I got STAR WARS CANTINA from the W, second R and TINA. Still had no idea what it had to do with anything.
Having in a previous puzzle located the Tuareg in bALI, I can't feel too great about not considering CHOPin for that platitude.
Thank you to fellow GWTW fans for reminding me how I know EARBOB.

Carola 12:58 PM  

@mac - "Honey child" is a term of endearment, like "Sweet pea" or "Sweeite pie."

Andrew Heinegg 1:08 PM  

Poorly constructed, as I have come to expect from Chen and company; There is an odor of triviality to his puzzles. Quoting Chopra is an example of this. There will always be followers of his type of sensible/nice-sounding platitudes meaning nothing. I do think that Tony Robbins is the king of this kind of crap. I just 'love' the way these kings of scam operate. All you have to do is give them money and you can learn the big secret of how to make money or be happy in life or love or whatever. Then, after you give them the money, you inevitably need to give them more money to 'progress' further. I consider Robbins the king because he essentially keeps saying over and over: 'you need to be positive-minded to be successful'. Oh really! I never would have thought of that.

I worked in an office building in downtown Seattle some years ago. Across the street was an old building with large picture windows. There was a desk visible through the window with a plaque on it with the letters' L RON HUBBARD'. My wife, who also worked nearby, would regularly inquire whether L Ron was at his desk that day (he had been dead for 6 or 7 years). It is that kind of worship, setting aside a desk for a dead person, that just makes you scratch your head.

Old P.T. said it: 'there's a sucker born every minute' . The sad part is the fact that there never seems to be a shortage of snake oil salesmen who have a bloodhound's nose for finding those suckers.

Lewis 1:09 PM  

@Rex -- Loved your writeup, funny and insightful.

Loved the clues for JAB, EVE, and REST. I liked the look of the puzzle and kept trying to figure out what it represented, thinking it was related to the theme. This puzzle fought me all the way; I found the cluing tough, but in the end, fair. I do like the scrabbly third line from the bottom.

POST PUZZLE PUZZLE (PPP): Find the (at least) one row and one column in which all the words therein can be used as both nouns and verbs.

If you wish to post an answer, just post the second letter of the first word of that row and column, or use

big steve 46 1:26 PM  

I had no idea that there was so much anger and bile out there toward poor Deepak Chopra.

Gee, when John Lennon wrote a song repeating "Love is all there is" about 20 times in 2 minutes, everyone thought he was profound.

PPProposal 1:27 PM  


Name a place to buy string quartets, that's an anagram of a recently extremely popular Rexville captcha?


Carola 1:29 PM  

@Lewis, re PPP: A, O, I

OISK 2:04 PM  

Ugh. Really annoying DNF for me since I got the theme immediately, but never heard of an ear bob, and I assume that Star Wars Cantina is something related to the movie series - no idea. I ended up with Cantini, with Xings ( feature of some cuts, Xings, makes some sense.) I still should have tried harder; if I tried other letters, BANGS would have made sense. Never heard of Chopra, although I did get it from the crosses, don't know what hulu is, although I am sure I have seen the term before… Not a bad puzzle, really, but frustrating for me. As I often say at Belmont Park…"Shudda haddit."

anonymous 2:10 PM  

Tough but literate, and no rappers!

Leapfinger 2:11 PM  

@Carola, there's nothing to keep the Taureg from going to Bali, isere?

@RooMie, you're welcome! I'm with you; this blog reminds me of that great Stephen Leacock line:'He jumped on his horse and rode off madly in all directions.'
I keep meaning to get to that other site and tell you about solving that cool pangramlet. Also interested in what country DarrinV rules, or is he more like LeoX?

@Martin, Dang, a convocation of Martins! I'm jealous, wish I were there to raise a cuppa, wave a maple leaf or two. Will you consider me there in spirit? Hugs to any who'll accept them from a stranger [who loves quad stacks]. To the sainted Elaine, also.

Too bad you aren't getting to Vancouver. Much less British, even had an official town fool at one time. I believe it's home to two short scientists, one Elfin, the other Hungarian.

Wish you had time to describe how you prepare SQUIB.

Sorry. Now back to your regular scheduled programmimg.

Bob Kerfuffle 2:20 PM  

Challenging indeed for me, but a fun puzzle to come home to.

Two write-overs, ELL/EVE, REWORD/REWORK (hi, r.alph, loren, jberg, mac!)

Old bit of trivia: Name the only nationality which is a palindrome. Answer below after a suitable amount of SPACE.


Z 2:26 PM  

@athleticdigit - C. Wee. Duh da da da. Mercy Buckets.

Big Steve 46 - anger and bile? Naaaah. He's right there with Ayn Rand as someone I can't believe other, sometimes very intelligent, people haven't grown out of. But if my otherwise very sweet MiL wants to buy Tupac's books (hi anon), well, who am I to worry about it. As for John Lennon, the difference is it he said it once or twice but then didn't feel the need to keep saying it, hat in hand.

Steve J 3:29 PM  

@Z and @Leapfinger: Hunan food is definitely spicy. Most American Chinese food is loosely based on Cantonese cuisine, and that's likely what you're thinking of in terms of being relatively bland.

Mohair Sam 3:29 PM  

@big steve 46. As one who always enjoyed Lennon and could only scratch my head at CHOPRA (sort of the Kinkade of philosophy) I have to admit you have a point.

Maybe it is what it is (that should piss a few phraseologists off here) because Lennon set it all to music.

Anonymous 4:43 PM  

@pc, I'm with you -- if God had meant for the SPACEBAR to be a COMPUTERKEY, he would have called it SPACEKEY. A bar is a bar is a bar.

I admire all you solvers who had CHOPIN for the sappy sage. For the longest of times I had only -----A and couldn't think of anybody whose name ended in A.

We have a NEW HUNAN restaurant and one would never guess from its cuisine that Hunan is renowned for its spicy dishes. Of course, it is the "new" Hunan.

Lewis 5:00 PM  


ROW -- the one that begins with ZINGS
COLUMN -- the one that begins with BOW

@carola -- Wondering what your third one was!

@M&A -- Your stumper sure stumped me. Clue? Or... answer? And, by the way, did you smile in delight when you saw HULU?

sanfranman59 5:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
sanfranman59 5:04 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 19:29, 17:37, 1.11, 69%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 14:45, 10:49, 1.36, 87%, Challenging

I needed a Google or two to get through this one and have no clue how I was supposed to enter the spaces in AcrossLite so it accepted the correct solution, so a DNF for me. Nonetheless, I found it to be an enjoyable solve.

FWIW, I think today's Top 100 rating will be a better gauge of the puzzle's difficulty. The All Solvers median time is almost surely artificially low. There have only been 172 successful solutions submitted through the online app. The previous 5-year Thursday low is 196 and the 2014 mean number of Thursday solvers is 268.

Carola 5:18 PM  

@Lewis - The column that begins with OAR. Just now I checked to make sure I was right that STOVE is also a verb - I'd had in mind the phrase "stove-in" (like "smashed-in"). The OED has a citation from Treasure Island: "I'll stove in your old blockhouse like a rum puncheon." But it turns out that there's also another meaning: to treat an object by heating in order to apply a surface coating. I always like learning from puzzles.

M and A Soars into the Porno Sphere 5:39 PM  

@Lewis --
1. Thinkin @Carola may be right, cuz STOVE can be a verb!
2. PHOTO SPHERE --> ___ ___ SHOP.
3. Am fond equally of all the duck brothers HULU, DULU and LULU. Twin U's always rate both a smile and a har.


Leapfinger 6:02 PM  

@Lewis, I also had the row ZINGS and the columns OAR and BOW.

Would like to offer for discussion
column ACE -- if I may ONION that up for you
row DRAG, if we allow (O)LORD as a modification
row DESPAIR LESSENS may be a stretch, but I tend to go for quantity over quality sometimes. Besides, I like the sound of that as a sentence.

RAD2626 6:02 PM  

Hard. Had the apparently common BLEd/BOd Cluing and fill certainly not offensive accept for maybe KANS.

michael 6:26 PM  

I found this much easier than most of you. But then found yesterday's harder than most of you. I am sure this has been covered before, but I was surprised by left-right symmetry but not top-bottom symmetry. One of these days I'll figure out the rules of puzzle construction.

Norm 6:39 PM  

@michael: There are many forms of acceptable symmetry -- in mathematics at least, and, I assume, in crossword construction as well. Left-right and top-bottom mirror symmetry (one or the other or both) is common. Also, rotational. See Wednesday's grid for 180 degrees and noting else. Also mirror image on the diagonal. Not sure I've seen that in a crossword grid. Plus various combinations of all the above. I think that's it. I may have missed one. The mosaics in the Alhambra have examples of all, I believe.

mathguy 8:16 PM  

If you've studied linear algebra, you're familiar with vector spaces. An example is the set of all the three-dimensional vectors which start at the origin of an x-y-z coordinate system and end at any point in the system. A subset of a vector space which is itself a vector space is a SUBSPACE. For example, all the two-dimensional vectors on the x-y plane form a subspace.

Norm 9:15 PM  

puh - leeze. "Finite Dimensional Vector Spaces" turned me from a math major into a psych major. You just gave me a major aaaaaaaaaagh flashback. :)

Anonymous 9:21 PM  

Hated it. Not fun. Too 'off' logic and slangy in some places. (Space age? Zings? )

Anonymous 9:50 PM  

Blech. Twice in a month I've been repelled by a puzzle.

Kathy D. 9:50 PM  

First I balked at this puzzle, but once I got a few key answers, it went quickly.

Except I got a few things wrong, but right in my solving, although ultimately wrong.
I had "ruined" as "bled," as thinking of doing laundry, washing colored clothes with white attire; colors bleed, white stuff is ruined.
And so for where "nose" is, I had "bod," thinking it's a short form of "body," and a modern term.
Only other snafu: I put in "earbow," and then "wings" for certain "cut." I was hungry, so was thinking of chicken "wings," a cut of poultry. "Earbow" seemed weird, but not totally off the charts.
Glad to see the puzzle worked out with explanations, and note that others were puzzled, too.

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 8:01, 6:01, 1.33, 100%, Challenging (highest ratio of 238 Mondays)
Tue 10:15, 8:14, 1.24, 92%, Challenging
Wed 8:23, 9:15, 0.91, 29%, Easy-Medium
Thu 20:01, 17:37, 1.14, 75%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 5:11, 3:55, 1.32, 100%, Challenging (highest ratio of 238 Mondays ... by far)
Tue 6:59, 5:21, 1.31, 98%, Challenging (6th highest ratio of 241 Tuesdays)
Wed 6:08, 5:58, 1.03, 59%, Medium
Thu 14:38, 10:49, 1.35, 87%, Challenging

Charles Flaster 10:15 PM  

Big time DNF.
Computer key and its environs was my downfall. Had everything else in 20 minutes.
Outer space equals deep space I guess.
Not enjoyable or educational.

Lewis 10:26 PM  

Forgive me for coming in so late -- just came back from dinner.

@carola -- Yes, I love the learning too, such as just learning that stove can be a verb. Loved your OED reference.

@leapy -- I can see onion as a verb, but dried as a noun? You got the three that Carola got, and I always love your creative stabs.

@M&A -- Didn't know about the captcha, but I do like The Rope Shop. And love Hulu, Dulu, and Lulu. Are they related to Harvey, Darvey, and Larvae?

qtbluemoon 9:41 AM  

Yeah, well, sometimes you just can't get a toehold on Thursdays. Started off very slow, then just petered out to nothing. Got about 6 answers, none in the same area, and just couldn't get going. Came here, and really liked the theme, wish I could have gotten farther along. I never would have come up with earbob, though.

143, not a robot

spacecraft 11:50 AM  

Challenging, to be sure, but fun. Very little came easily, and there were many I-have-no-clue-s that went in on crosses. To show just how disinterested I've become in the NBA, I never heard of this Bargnani fellow. LOEB is another one. SQUIB to me is a short kickoff, not a short news item. Can the word mean anything that is short?

I see the repetition of [SPACEBAR] with [SPACE]BAR, but strangely it doesn't bother me. 55a is what it says, a visual representation. You look at the finished grid, and that's what you see. 58d (NOT 54d!) is the "name" for that. Conceptually, I guess it would be strictly better if the entry were "SPACEBAR," but what's there is ok by me.

Not OK is yet another one of those abbrs. with AND written out., it's too painful even to type out. No. Just, NO.

Also, a small nit, people swear ON, not "by," the HOLYBIBLE. They swear BY "all that is holy."

Overall this puzzle would deserve an A, if not for 50a, an automatic deduction of one letter. B.

145. Oh well.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

When I saw Jeff Chen's name I was happy for about 3 seconds. Really hard for me to crack this one open. Little by little (over an hour) it developed, and, finally I got the space thing.
All in all a terrific puzz.

Ron Diego 9:50 AM PDT

DMG 3:37 PM  

A real challenge! Got the space idea, but that doesn't mean I finished this one. Not recalling CHICA and not knowing the sports figure made the center north a mess. Then a combination of not getting DAVID and DISK, and having dINGS led to a pretty messed up SW where I wasn't even sure my right answers were right. Seems to be how my Thursday's go lately.

On the other hand, 395 looks pretty good!

Dirigonzo 4:31 PM  

I love tricky Thursday themes and this one did not disappoint. Like others I was on the alert for a rebus early-on, with Elm[tree] and [picard] heading the possibilities at the top[ of the grid. I knew something was up at the bottom where JAM, AGE and BAR all needed a head - when I figured out it was SPACE I just put a - in each of the boxes, which taken together do indeed look like a SPACEBAR, as @SPACEcraft as already observed. The Q in SQUIB convinced me a pangram was afoot but it only got 25/26 of the way there, missing an F (or so someone said earlier - I didn't check).

18a left me with this enjoyable ear worm.

165 - no prize for me today.

Anonymous 4:56 PM  

The space of my day trying to suss this crossword out was truly wasted space!

rain forest 6:17 PM  

I solved this in two sittings. The first one got me the NW and NE and CHICA, and a few other entries sprinkled about. Had to go to the winemaker's supply store, and had another stab at it. Very slowly, the theme emerged, first with AIRSPACES, and DISKSPACE. Filled in the bottom pretty quickly, and my last letter was the U at the HUNAN/HULU (??) cross. Overall, pretty enjoyable, challenging, and a reminder that the AGE I'm living in is OLD.

6114 gimme a card.

Waxy in Montreal 6:27 PM  

"Spacecraft" certainly sums up this puzzle well as, interestingly, syndiland's own @spacecraft did just a few entries earlier.

On behalf of @SiS: Go 'Hawks Go!

131- ooh (but not meaning amazing!)

Patricia Kincaid 7:41 PM  

Please ...
Why is "One with a staff position". REST???

Waxy in Montreal 8:15 PM  

@Patricia Kincaid, think musical notation.

Patricia Kincaid 10:28 AM  

Thank you, waxy!!!

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