Celebrity couple portmanteau / THU 9-18-14 / Tree in giraffe's diet / Tree-dwelling snake / Unhelpful spelling clarification #1 / Female motorcyclists in biker slang

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: CASEY (16A: Man trying to clarify the spelling of his name in 21-, 25, 38-, 52- and 57-Across) — Theme answers all start "C as in …," "A as in …," etc. with each answer ending (unhelpfully) in a word that sounds like another letter of the alphabet; thus:
The "punchline" being that one might think the fellow's name is "QRCIU" (66A: What the listener might think 16-Across's name is?)

Word of the Day: KIMYE (32D: Celebrity couple portmanteau) —
Proper noun
  1. (slang) The couple consisting of celebrities Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
Blend of Kim and Kanye. (yourdictionary.com—"Your Dictionary: The Dictionary You Can Understand")
• • •

This was a weird one—mostly in a good way. 16 wide. That's a little weird. I got the basic theme concept early on, at C AS IN CUE. Before I had that answer filled out, I thought it was going to be something playing on different possible pronunciations of "C"—something like "C AS IN CEL." Once I got it, though, I saw that the resulting words were going to sound like different letters. Cool. Funny. And the man's name is going to be CASEY. Great. Let's go. The problem for me was mainly one of let-down. First, the other theme answers, by their very nature, didn't have much playfulness about them and (since I knew the core concept) were in no way surprising. And since the grid has no real sparkle—it's very clean and solid, but it's mostly Monday-level fill with no remarkable longer answers—I worked through it without that much pleasure (except a bit of smug pleasure, which turned quickly to guilty pleasure, at getting KIMYE and YOLO so quickly).

Let-down part II was that the revealer is an absurdity. I don't just mean that QRCIU is literally absurd, i.e. meaningless, but that the core conceit—that one would think that that is how the fictional CASEY was spelling his name—is preposterous. If you say "C AS IN CUE," no one thinks you are saying the first letter is "Q." Actually, scratch that. With "C AS IN CUE," the conceit actually kinda Does work, in that there is a word that sounds like CUE (namely QUEUE) that *does* start with "Q." It's the other letters where it doesn't work. Anyone hearing "blank as in blank" knows that the first blank is a letter and the second blank is a word. Not a letter. A AS IN ARE could not lead anyone to think that the second letter is "R" because there is no word *starting* with "R" that sounds like "ARE." And I see there is a "?" on the end of the 66-Across clue, so … OK, but this is simply not how the "blank as in blank" thing works. I can see now that picking up on the "the last words in the theme answers all sound like letters" concept almost instantly really spoiled whatever the revealer was supposed to do for me. So I started out impressed, but the feeling wore off a bit by the end.

Best wrong answer—66A: What the listener might think CASEY's name is?: QUE SI.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:03 AM  

Easy-medium for me too.  No real erasures.  It was helpful that BEQ had an identical down clue on Mon.  Also automatically  filling in ASIN 5 times sped things up.   

Because my knowledge of French is almost entirely crossword based I ran the alphabet on 13d only to have it given away at 63d ( which is only an ARC if you don't skull, chunk, or shank it). 

I'm almost sure Jeff Chen was kidding about YOLO in his xwordinfo comments.

Clever, funny, breezy and probably not going to generate over 200 comments.  Liked it!

Baldrick 12:06 AM  

"A AS IN ARE could not lead anyone to think that the second letter is "R" because there is no word *starting* with "R" that sounds like 'ARE.'"


wreck 12:16 AM  

Well, it was fairly easy because you could fill in ASIN in all the theme answers, but this was clever and fun. This was one of my favorites in a long time!

Zeke 12:33 AM  

So, the point of this puzzle is that if Person A says a series of really stupid things and Person B takes them seriously, Person B can jump to a stupid conclusion?

Gotcha. Man, that was fun.

paleolith 12:48 AM  

The theme was a lot more fun than Rex's long vapid rant about it.

Jeff510 12:58 AM  

This took the bad taste away from last Thursday's disaster!

Whirred Whacks 1:00 AM  

Double-Dose of Joel Fagliano tonight (main puzzle and the Mini). Both were enjoyable.

This is neither here nor there, but the "AS IN" scheme reminds me of George Bernard Shaw's comment that the word FISH could be spelled GHOTI:
GH as in enough, O as in women, TI as in nation.
GH-O-TI = fish.

Anoa Bob 1:03 AM  

What the farouk?!? Five eight-letter themers where the first six letters are automatic? CASINC, AASINA, SASINS, EASINE, & YASINY doesn't leave much for the solver to figure out. Very strange. Very strange indeed.

I thought yesterday's puzz had a refreshingly low number of POCs, two or three as I recall. Today's leans way more heavily on them to get the grid filled. Let's see, MAMAS, OWNS, ALIBIS, LIONS, TAGS, ALLEYS, IAMBS, SOBS, SCATS, LOTS, TONS, ORIENTS, NANAS, IQS, AILS, & USES. Still wondering about CORONAE & AMICI.

Steve J 1:40 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve J 1:44 AM  

Agreed with Rex that this was weird. Completely disagreed that weird somehow appeared in a good way. That certainly wasn't my experience. And it didn't appear to be Rex's, either. After reading the writeup, I'm still waiting to see where the good part comes in.

Yeah, stuff works phonetically. That's the only level it works. And that's not enough. As Rex correctly pointed out, nobody is going to interpret this sequence as someone named QRCIU. Nobody's going to hear "letter as in homonym" and forget the leading letter. I don't expect crossword themes to have unassailable structure, but the conceit has to have at least a whiff of plausibility, and this had none. The theme falls completely flat.

@Anoa Bob: Maybe we should just ban the letter S. Of the 16 plurals you listed, if I count correctly, only 4 crossed another final S. All others crossed S's that started or were internal to words.

retired_chemist 2:24 AM  

Easy-medium and fun. Reminded me of the proper pronunciation of ghoti.

Thanks, Mr. Fagliano.

chefwen 2:39 AM  

I'm with @wreck on this one "clever and fun", also thought in was pretty easy after you got to slap down all the AS IN's. Only write-overs were a couple of silly mistakes of my own doing. 1A zest and tang before BITE and god only knows what I had at 49D, can't read through the wite-out. ArenaS, as in wrestling pins before ALLEYS. Just dumb stuff.

Really enjoyed this one.

chefwen 2:41 AM  

IT was not in was. DOH!

Numinous 2:55 AM  

@Whirred Whacks

I believe I have mentioned that i have a cat named Ghoti. @Chefwen, say hi to Laiki for me.

Just have to mention the hidden theme: NY, the city of origin. We start with mention of NYTimes and then of NYUniversity. As we look around the grid we find hurRAI NY. So, YA SI NY OUtcry. This puzzle is SO NY but I guess it's all in A NY DAY.

Ok, I'll admit it. I AM BS, SO BS. That's what I get for trying to be ARTSY.

Charles Flaster 3:10 AM  

Feenominal and terriphick. Did not get theme immediately as I thought it would be something like Casey implies KC.
Then finished quickly after "as in" was realized.
Liked clues for reup and alleys.
GHOTI was introduced to me during a spelling lesson in 1953(third grade).Love GBS anyhow.
Thanks JF

George Barany 3:30 AM  

What's not to love about @Joel Fagliano's little gem? This is a Thursday after all ... such puzzles are supposed to get easy once the solver gloms onto the gimmick (which in my case was quite early; being familiar with the NYU Violets certainly didn't hurt). Still, had to work through some details, like SEE vs. SEA, and YEW vs. YOU, from the crossing down words.

I very much appreciate @Whirred Whacks, @Retired Chemist, and @Numinous, all reminding us of GHOTI. And thanks @Rex for showing us the Senator from Pennsylvania, though I had been hoping for the protagonist of this.

Anonymous 3:55 AM  

Hated it!

chefwen 4:19 AM  

@Numinous - Laiki says "Hi back atcha". Still working on a new avatar, but can't get the one pound whirling dervish to sit still long enough for a decent photo.

Loren Muse Smith 4:53 AM  

I loved this. Loved it. Loved it so much that I have to post this morning and just be a bit "late" to school.

Filling in some AS INs didn't bother me at all; this played harder for me than some are reporting, so this bit of help was fine by me.

Rex has a fair point about the theme's not really working if you're really trying to help someone spell CASEY, but I never noticed/considered this. I just soldiered on, eager to see all the words that sound like letters. Then I tried to play around with other ones that could follow the pattern, got as far as "W as in Why" and just gave up.

I was truly surprised to read that so far not everyone shares my enthusiasm. I'm sure like so many, I play the What Are Rex Et. Al. Gonna Say game before I read the comments, and I was guessing some people would be complaining a bit about the two AS's crossing in AS ONE and A AS IN ARE.

Joel – this is my favorite Thursday in a long time. Scratch that. This is one of my favorite puzzles period. You young whippersnappers. You're as fun as Caleb, David, Gareth, and, well (someone's got to say it), AS IAN.


Gill I. P. 5:15 AM  

@Loren.....I'm Right behind you!
I, too, loved this puzzle. Never would have thought "conceit" would be used to describe its whimsical reveal.
SASIN SEA is where KIMSE became a MISSUS. Here's YASIN YOU kid.

Anonymous 5:17 AM  

Totally original, charming and fun to solve. A little easy for a Thursday, but thoroughly enjoyable. Thanks, Joey!

Danp 5:50 AM  

Somehow, I can't imagine Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lamar Alexander or Martin Scorcese yelling, "Go Violets!!". Woody Allen, perhaps, but only in satire.

Easy puzzle, Tuesday theme.

Anonymous 5:53 AM  


R me
Nay we
Err Force
Ma Rheims

Questinia 5:53 AM  

My NYT's app puzzle contained no horizontal lines.
There were no squares only down columns. I thought this was somehow part of the puzzle's theme.

I saw the theme being about a deficit in receptive/auditory processing causing subsequent errors in spelling. The presence of only down columns being an allusion to the aberration in neural circuitry responsible for the deficit.

Then I had cookies and milk. They were gluten-free because I remember how gluten can cause an error in processing everything period.

So I think this puzzle's meta was really about being gluten-free otherwise you're apt to spell CASEY as QRCIU.

That's my interpretation and if you don't like it you can go BITE an ASIAN MAMAS LOOP. Just amke sure it's glyten-frii.

Anonymous 6:11 AM  

As always, cunning to clue AER with "___ Lingus".

RAD2626 6:38 AM  

Thought it was great. Had CASEY right away but not theme so like others thought it might be KC or Casey at the Bat. Thought the fill was fun and harder than Monday. YOLO and ORYX late week fill. Not fair to bang LIONS as a plural. They are never the Detroit Lion, except when Barry Sanders was on the field. Messed up with RAINs/KIMsE but caught it soon enough. Should have heeded JF admonition in the mini-puzzle.

Oscar 6:47 AM  

Y as in yawn.

dk 6:54 AM  

OO (2 mOOns)

Nko Case collects pianos. She is so cool..

Interesting idea and fun solve. Agree with Rex in the M as in Monday feel to the fill. Does not take away from the novelty. Nice job.

dk (as in knave)

dk 6:55 AM  


Leapfinger 7:08 AM  

Well. This put the "glee" in Fagliano for me!

@Rex, @SteveJ, I think it's a mistake to deny the reality of the ridiculous in this world: just look around. Especially in this 21st century, we've seen worse practically on a daily basis. We may as well come to terms with it, and a xwp ain't a bad place to start.
@Eex, back atcha with QUAY-C
@Chas Ghlaster - Also love GBS, no Pshaw!
That goatee may have to be traded in for a soul-patch; GHOTI's gonna mess me up with Ghirardelli and Ferlinghetti.
@Numinous - so what else is NYU?
@Loren - I'm happy to have you be LAIT for school!
@Questin, lost horizons? Need some help finding the perps?
@Gil, almost forgot: yesterday, I discovered that EMMA PEEL had the role of Dr. Gillyflower on a Dr Who episode. Pretty fun, eh?

Occasionally, I've wondered about CASEY Kasem's name, and finally looked him up. His full name is Kemal Amen Kasem, of Druze Lebanese origin. Cool, and the first new thing I learned today.

Loved the nonsensical rationale of the puzzle -- LOTS of BITE -- and thought it made a KILN with QRCIU.

EXPO facto.

SandySolver 7:15 AM  

I'm with those able to suspend disbelief. Amusing fun.

NeuroSturgeon 7:41 AM  

Ms Qustinia, May I offer an alternate diagnosis? The 'columns only' format you mention suggests involvement of the spinal cord. Some of the accompanying signs you cite suggests considering Brown-Séquard syndrome.

As opposed to Charcot-Marie-Tooth, who were three, it is of interest to note that Brown-Séquard was but a single individual.

Glimmerglass 7:56 AM  

@anoa: LIONS is not a "plural of convenience." There is no Detroit Lion football team. Similarly LOTS as clued is never "lot." TONS, I'll give you, but OWNS is a verb and singular. This puzzle was too easy for a Thursday.

Mohair Sam 8:13 AM  

What @LMS said. Wassamatta with you guys? You're over-analyzing silliness. This was a lot of fun, different, clever.

Played medium/challenging for us because KIMYE and YOLO are advanced Greek here, didn't know what giraffes prefer, and had Yew for YOU forever. Got hung up in NE because I thought Sheen was a RAoul, and ALIenS were "Outs." Finally remembered AVOIR from French 1 and saved the day.

btw - "QRCIU at the Bat" may be the best piece of Americana that exists.

Susan McConnell 8:14 AM  

@Questinia, I solved on the app with no missing lines.

Thought the puzzle was fun. Agreed that the QRCIU revealer is weird, but not nearly as obnoxious as reading Rex's overkill description about it.

jberg 8:35 AM  

I liked it. Of course, I like most puzzles -- after all, they have the basic quality of being puzzles. I did share the expectation that the answers would be something like "g as in gel," but I would have settled for having 66A turn out to be an actual name, rather than QRCIU. That took a little of the shine off for me.

Malapop: lOtS before TONS at 3D. Straight writeover: IN A sec, then jIf, before BIT. And SOil before SOLE (always underfoot).

The theme answers would have been more puzzling, though shorter, if they were written as "A AS IN ARE," "S AS IN C" etc.

For the past 4 or 5 years we've been spending our spring break in Captiva, FL, where there is a place called YOLO Watersports (they rent jetskis and take people parasailing). It wasn't until this past March that I realized what the name meant, so I was happy to be able to use the information today.

Gotta SCAT.

joho 8:35 AM  

@Rex, I know it's your job but this is one time I believe your over thinking this puzzle is what took all the joy out of it for EWE. There's another one for E, E AS IN EWE. Another C version is C AS IN CAY. And the only new one I could come up with was (Hi, Loren!) W AS IN WHY.

I joyfully jumped into this one loving every minute of it! Talk about original! Once I saw what Joel had come up with I marveled at how different and fresh this is right down to the seemingly nonsensical reveal, QRCIU, which makes perfect sense in the end.

I'm with anybody who LOVES this puzzle! Thank you Joel for imagining this fun and crazy concept!

AliasZ 8:39 AM  

What a fun diversion!

The theme reminds me of a movie in which a man on the telephone with a bad connection tries to spell out a name by using unusual example words, which the person on the other end can't hear well either, so he has to spell out the example words also, using yet other unusual example words, and on and on and on in a never-ending gig. I wish I could remember the movie. Or was it a sitcom?

Fun, fun, fun! No, not sun, sun, sun. Fun: F as in Fontainebleau, U as in Urquhart, N as in nephelococcygia. The MURAL of the story is, fun EASINEYE of beholder.

AGAVE at the office. Which is where I have to go now, and I cannot bee L8, like @LMS. Wright, Leigh Pfinger?

evil doug 9:15 AM  

So, now we finally know how to tell if Loren doesn't like a puzzle: she doesn't bother to comment on it. No news is bad news, constructors....

With all the horrible revelations about the NFL players abusing their mamas and kids, I'm truly offended that a team called the Violents would appear in the grid this week! Harrumph! [What's that? Oh.] Never mind....

First useful anonymous post ever: "Err Force". I really could have used that during my 6 year tour....


RnRGhost57 9:19 AM  

Pleasant, harmless puzz.

evil doug 9:20 AM  

Speaking of which: the US Err Force is 67 years old today. Keep 'em flying, sky jockeys....


joho 9:30 AM  

@evil doug, you're wrong about Loren, her teaching schedule is such that she's leaving her house so early in the morning she has no time to comment.

Nancy 9:33 AM  

I also found this charming, original and fun. It was very easy for a Thursday, with the only temporary setback YEW for YOU. OBIT straightened that out immediately, so I basically whizzed through this. I'll forgive the lack of challenge since it was so cute.

evil doug 9:39 AM  

Yes, joho, I know. Just yanking her chain. Yours, too....


Z 9:41 AM  

"I think it's a mistake to deny the reality of the ridiculous in this world." Yep. Otherwise what @LMS said with just a smidge less love.

Rex's write-up today reminded me of sitting in the dorm, Eno on the stereo, Creature from the Black Lagoon on the tv, a heady mix of Huber and Big Sur gold increasing our analytic abilities. I'm not sure what you're saying bit I'm sure it is deep.

DNF at the NYU/ORYX cross. I went with I. I hate when that happens.

Jerry Garcia 9:42 AM  

Drivin' that train
high on cocaine,
QRCIU Jones you better
watch your speed.

chefbea 9:42 AM  

Tough puzzle. Got all the theme answers but did not understand QRCIE un tip I came here.

Loved 56 and 48 across

Questinia 9:50 AM  

OK, now I'm worried, @Susan McConnell has indicated she has no columns such as mine and my consult with @ Neurosturgeon is inconclusive.

As you can see by my avatar, my columns have not gone away.

{{{ wringing of hands }}}

Perhaps it's a gastrointestinal meta and the columns are the digestive tract and after eating CASEY one ends up with QRCIU as it goes through a cruciverbal vowel movement.
As they say "Same tube, different enzyme".

Is there a GI doc in the house?

Milford 10:01 AM  

I liked this just fine, I thought is was cute and a fun piece of wordplay.

It reminded me of two things:

The list of the alphabet in alphabetical order. "Aitch" is first.

Also, the time we had a post-doc coming to our lab from India, but she had been trained in England. She was trying to spell her name, Zahra, over the phone, and she kept saying "Z as in Zed", confusing us each time (I've come to learn this is common usage, but at the time I had no clue).

Thanks to those that shared Ghoti. I'd never heard of that, pretty funny.

I'll admit, the first word I thought of for 10A was not MAMAS, but the clue asked for a plural and mine wouldn't fit.

I learned YOLO a couple years ago when we went to Wildwood, NJ and every single store on the boardwalk was hawking shirts with that on the front.

@Rex's source for KIMYE is "Your Dictionary: The Dictionary You Can Understand". Seriously, this is necessary?

Hartley70 10:09 AM  

I liked this Thursday almost as much as a rebus. KIMYE and YOLO were my fav fill. I thought the theme was clever and unique in my experience. I'm a big Rex fan but I had to stop reading this post because it was giving me a headache!

Arlene 10:10 AM  

This was good - on many levels. And a relief that a Thursday wasn't going to be spent Googling.

I got the theme on CUE - so figured I'd fill in all the ASIN's and the CASEY letters. Always like a fresh approach to solving.

I filled it all in, eventually - interesting that I had a lot of write-overs.

I remembered NYU's logo being purple. Had no idea what YOLO meant, even though I got it right (You only live once). Still learning current lingo wherever and whenever.

This is my idea of crossword heaven - fun, clever, and new routes to a filled in grid!

Steve J 10:11 AM  

@Leapfinger: "I think it's a mistake to deny the reality of the ridiculous in this world." Eh?

I get that many people are enjoying the whimsical playing with homonyms. I suppose if the first things you start getting with the puzzle are some of the X as in Y answers, that's what you notice. For me, because of how the crossing downs filled in quickly for me, CASEY and the bulk of QRCIU were filled in before any of the X as in Y answers came into place. So I came at it as trying to crack some kind of code, and being very disappointed when I saw how flimsy the code was. I know it's not to be take seriously, but I still cannot willingly suspend disbelief that anyone is going to go, "He said S, but then he said C(sea) - clearly he meant an entirely different letter!"

As far as ridiculousness: One of my favorite genres of comedy is farce. I love embracing ridiculousness.

Carola 10:13 AM  

Cute idea, had fun with it. The free ASINs did make it EASY, but I still needed crosses to get the "wrong" letters. I liked the Greek EPSILON crossing the Latin CORONAE, MISSUS, SALUTE, ANY DAY.

NICE array of fauna: the SEA creatures MARLIN and SOLE, the MAMBA (BITE!), ORYX, LIONS, wee GNAT, and zodiacal ARIES.

I know ACACIA from the Hugo von Hoffmannsthal poem "Early Spring," which describes the fleeting touch of the personified spring wind: "He shook down ACACIA blossoms and cooled limbs that breathed and burned." Complete poem here, in German and English (interestingly also cited by commenter Ulrich in 2009). Very lovely, if you have a moment to read.

851 10:33 AM  

My day is made! Three posts from the evil one. I always thought well of the USAF, but his affiliation gives me pause.

Masked and Anonymo6Us 10:38 AM  

Hey, dude! U deaf?! It's...
C as in Chez,
A as in Air,
S as in Symbol,
E as in Eyer,
Y as in You.

"Oh, yes.... Shay-Ere-Cymbal-Ire-Ewe.
Thanking you velly much, mister QRCIU.
We are promptly mailing order of Masks Variety Pack right out on you now, sir..."


4:53am is runnin lait?!? They definitely ain't payin @muse enough.
Joel! They let U off mini duty! Glad to see U move up to the bigs. Theme was pretty out there. Liked it.

OISK 10:44 AM  

thanks to Arlene for explaining "YOLO" - a complete mystery to me. Never heard of Kimye either - have heard the name "Kanye West," but don't know who he is, and have also heard of Kim Karkashian MUCH too often - give me Kim Novak any time. That aside, this was a brilliant, fun puzzle, and just right for a Thursday. I speak French and Italian, but not Spanish, so it was nice to see Amici and Avoir, along with UNO. Got held up when I put "Soso" for "Fair." instead of "Expo." But I know what an Oryx is, so that worked out… Thanks Joel!

mathguy 11:00 AM  

It was like eating a plate of nachos. It was fun but afterwards, even if you don't have indigestion, you wish that you had eaten something more satisfying.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  


Err Force Juan reporting.
Yer welcome. Maybe that'll help reverse the over-bearing/ smug/ condescending or whatever it was you called me that one time.

One high point in life was the first time I went up in a glider. So okay, it was a two-seater, and not the kind of flying you did, but let me tell you... the experience of soaring, with nothing but the sound of the wind... Can't be beat.

evil doug 11:46 AM  

Well, maybe; but probably not....

You ought to log yourself in, Juan.


DigitalDan 11:46 AM  

Only in crosswords is STP still relevant to racing or Indy in particular. Those cars burn 85% ethanol, are machined to a gazillionth, and wouldn't let STP within twenty kilometers of the place. I don't think it's a major advertiser, either. Put it in the category with OATER, RAREE, UTE, RCA ....

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

Glad to see the NYT now realizes GNATs can be seen to the point of a "Black cloud". On Sunday GNATs was synonymous with "Noseeums", which they are not, No amount of noseeums can form a black cloud. They're too small, hence NO SEE 'EM. And the little bastards bite, unlike the gnats I deal with in Michigan.

851 12:02 PM  

So you flew trash haulers, eh, Doug? Pretty exciting ... Not!

Anoa Bob 12:06 PM  

Unless you have some word nerdiness in you, please skip over this post.

@Steve J, no need to ban the "S", just keep the frequency of it in the grid---today it's a little over 11%---close to it's frequency in English writing/text---a little over 6%.

In Scrabble the S tile frequency is 4% because it makes it so much easier to connect words on the Scrabble board grid. Same thing in a crossword grid.

I think what elevates crossword puzzles over other word games is that they are so difficult to construct. So I think that using devices that make them easier to construct, like abbreviations, partials, Roman numerals, crosswordese, & POCs, lowers the overall quality of the puzzle. The more that these devices are used in a grid, the more negative the impact on the puzzle they have.

For me, the ideal puzzle would have none of these devices. I doubt that is possible, so the best approximation to the ideal would be to keep them to a minimum.

@Glimmerglass, re LIONS, words are usually put in the grid and then clued after the fact. And I think of a POC as an xword, not a grammatical, device. It's adding an S or an ES to a word to make it fit a bigger slot in the grid.

Not convinced POCs make it easier? Draw a 4X4 grid and fill it in without using any plurals. Then try it with plurals allowed, say by putting SASS in the right hand column or bottom row. Report back.

RooMonster 12:12 PM  

Hey All!
Didn't like this puz basically because I didn't see the "as in"s! Brain must be on vacation! Got QRCIU on crosses, let out a big Huh?, then when I did read the themers, read them as literal, like sass-in-sea and yass-in-you. Totally flubbed. Managed t finish puz, the NW held me up (not sure why)(Maybe was flustered at not getting theme). I imagine it would have been neat kad I figured it out!

Interesting 16x15 grid, I guess it helps being Shortz' right hand man.



Leapfinger 12:17 PM  

@SteveJ, I suppose you're right. Recognizing the ridiculous can depend on whether you approach it from the North or South end. No way will I Ms Underestimate your capacity for embracing ;)

@Questia, I move we start calling vowel progrssions 'vowel movements'. As M&A would say, 'May-urd!'
I may just start embroidering a sampler: Same tube, different enzyme.

I think it was in "One, Two, Three...Infinity" that it was pointed out the tube of the gut is continuous with the entire external universe. So if an individual could be turned inside-out, the entire universe (formerly external) would now be on the inside... Seemed quite a stretch.

@ALIBI-Z, at the risk of sounding smarmy, I'll say you can't 'bee L8' if you're always ahead of the times.

I'm used to SAS more than to SPSS, so no surprise I saw the center as SAS IN SEA. A little more parsing took me to: YA SIN, YOU SOBS.

Would I LIE? @Numi isn't the only one who 'AM BS'.

Andrew Heinegg 12:31 PM  

I am of the unshakeable opinion that any person or the output (like a crossword) of any person with an i.q. over 75 should never ever mention the name or a substitute for the name Kardashian. Can we not all agree that the 'fame' this family has 'achieved' is irrefutable proof that the end is nigh.

Bomaka 12:35 PM  

My daughter KC, while horseback riding in Dubai (Mom, I'm going to Dubai...bai bai) came across a dead oryx. She wrote "Alas, poor Oryx. I knew him well."

Fun and clever puzzle, though a tad easy for Thursday.

fiddleneck 12:44 PM  

A as in the middle a in acacia in my language.

Ludyjynn 12:59 PM  

Meh, medium Thursday for me. Like @Andrew H., above, I was less than thrilled to fill-in the answer for 32Down, although I am always elated to see the word 'portmanteau' used in any context! If we never hear of or read about or see any reference to the INfamous 'K' brigade of talentless, sex-tape hucksters again, I, for one, will breathe a sigh of relief.

mac 1:28 PM  

Very cute puzzle, but a little light for a Thursday.

Happy to say I've never seen the Ks on TV.

Lewis 1:32 PM  
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Lewis 1:34 PM  

I'm with Loren, I liked it a lot. This puzzle was based on a funny story that Will Shortz told to Joel. It's basically illustrating a joke, and not meant to be taken seriously or even to be possible in real life, as is true with many jokes.

This week for me has been (crediting Q) Pinch the Puzzle's Cheeks week. I felt that way about this one, it was so cute. Only objection is that it felt more like a Wednesday than a Thursday.

dick Swart 1:37 PM  

I always start Thyrsdays with dread. And so I was very self-satisfied that this thursday's went so easily. Always good for an old guy looking forward to a nuclear stress test of Friday. Be still, my heart!

Getting the as-ins was fun but the payoff was a big disappointment!

okanaganer 2:19 PM  

The theme reminds me of a mini-puzzle: what two VERY commonly used words have homonyms with which they share NO common letters?

Lewis 2:41 PM  

Factoid: Many have heard of the combination eating UTENSIL known as the spork. Here are a few more (Wikipedia):
Chopfork – A utensil with a fork at one end and chopsticks/tongs at the other.
Knork – Knife and Fork
Spoon Straw – A scoop-ended drinking straw intended for slushies and milkshakes.
Sporf – Spoon and Fork and Knife
Spife – Spoon and Knife

Quotoid: Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a RAINY Sunday afternoon. -- Susan Ertz

Lewis 2:45 PM  

@okanager -- I think I got it. One is part of one of the answers in today's puzzle, and another (starts with y) was in a recent puzzle. Good one!

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

Fun puzzle. Rex is a jerk.

the redanman 3:40 PM  

too many taking too much too seriously ho-hum

Anonymous 3:42 PM  

Mighty QRCIU has struck out.

sanfranman59 4:19 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 14:34, 16:57, 0.86, 23%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:39, 10:29, 0.92, 31%, Easy-Medium

David IN CA 4:34 PM  

An Alphabet Song
author unknown

Come my dear children beginning to spell,
Learning your Ays to your Zees.
Here is an alphabet, study it well,
And remember to always say “please”.

A is for eighteen, B to exist, C is for season of snows
D is de race track, de lady, de song
E is for Aesop who knows

F is for effort, G is for Jeep, H for achievement good show!
I is for eyesore, J is for genuine
K is for cadence like so
(musical cadence)
L elementary, M for embarrass, N for entwist and entwine
O is for eau du cologne you smell loverly
P is appearing in time.

Q for cucumber, R for don’t argue, though S esoteric this rhyme.
T is to England what rice is to China,
And U is for you will be mine

V wiener schnitzel, W money back, X is for extra my friend
Y is for why not, Z is for Xerox
And we have come to the end.

Loved the puzzle. Agree with all who say there's just way too much analysis going on!
And, honestly, we have seen weirder names than QRCIU in the puzzle before, I think!
(If anyone knows the author of the above song, please let me know!)

retired_chemist 4:36 PM  

Trying to construct a word ladder based on four letter acronyms. YOLO - BOLO - BOGO -dead end? any help?

Fred Romagnolo 5:06 PM  

I loved it: grazie, Fagliano. Sure, it was easier than most Thursdays, but don't forget LAST THURSDAY'S. The idea was charming, and working it out was fun. Didn't know about NYU's team being the violets, hope no botanists will protest the name.

Fred Romagnolo 5:08 PM  

@chemist: gogo?

wreck 5:41 PM  


retired_chemist 5:56 PM  

Are GOGO and LOGO acronyms?

chefbea 5:58 PM  

@David in Ca..where did you find your alphabet song? I would like to share it on face book

okanaganer 6:15 PM  

@Lewis...you got it. Actually I didn't even notice until now, but both words are part of answers today, placed nicely kitty-corner to each other!!

okanaganer 6:16 PM  

Or I should say, one word and the homonym of the other are kitty corner...

wreck 6:32 PM  
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wreck 6:46 PM  


Isn't Logo short for Logotype?

..... I guess while many acronyms are logos, logo isn't really an acronym by itself.

Sfingi 8:19 PM  

Loved it because, although I often don't notice the theme, this time I saw the whole theme first and ripped through - well, not like Rex would, but my personal Thurs. best.

I did hold on to STeNo too long before I tried STAND, and had no idea of the sports, which I got by crosses.

But, basically on Fagliano's wave length, today.

Lewis 10:05 PM  

@okanager -- by golly, I see it!

Anonymous 2:03 AM  

@Dick Swart

Good luck, and remember not to say 'Be still my heart', lol!'

LHS 888 10:27 PM  

I enjoyed this one LOTS. Although I ended DNF due to MAMeS crossing eVOIR. I don't know much French (clearly) and I'm not up on biker lingo. Oh well.
Write overs included EASINEau and YASINYew which gave me CASEY = QRCoU for quite ABIT before crosses straightened it all out.

Thanks, Joel!

Nichael Cramer 4:55 PM  

To give credit where credit is due, the song "A is for Eighteen" was written by the songwriters Shari Ajemian and Sarah Newcomb. It appears in their book of songs "Partially Sage"

Here is a link to their website:

Nichael Cramer 5:00 PM  

Here's a small variant on the original puzzle above:

Consider the words "Bee" and "Tea". These words are homonyms (i.e. "sound like") letters in the English alphabet (i.e. "B" and "T").

Now, consider the word "Eh". This word has the interesting feature that, while it is also a homonym for a letter in the English alphabet, "A", it does not, however, contain that letter.

The puzzle: Find five other word/letter pairs with this property (i.e. the word is a homonym for the letter, but the word does not contain that letter).
Once you have found the five words, arrange the five corresponding letters to form a common English word.

(For those who are interested, the solution can be found here: http://homepages.sover.net/~nichael/puzzles/ans-eh.html )

spacecraft 11:21 AM  

It's about time we had a puzz with a little BITE to it. Not finding much of a foothold up top, I started with IQS (be sure to catch "Scorpion," the season's best new show)--and then thought: this can't be right. But it was, and the SE filled out perfectly except for 66a. QRCIU! "Bless you!" Of course, looking at 57a I could see the trick, and my nonsense line started to make SENSE.

Working back, then, it's easy to pick up CASEY and things went LOTS faster. TONS even.

Some stray A's: ALINE, EASYA. KIMYE had to go in 100% on crosses. I'm proud of that ignorance. I did happen upon YOLO before, so that bit of modernese didn't throw me.

Of course the theme "helps" aren't serious attempts at helping. It's a gag. Lighten up, Fearless One; everything doesn't have to make SENSE. It's like college kids used to write in to Ann Landers or Dear Abby with wildly improbable problems. The sisters always caught them at it and told them to use that invevtiveness in class. Don't think it's in earnest. A fun A-.

619. No natural, but I'll STAND.

eastsacgirl 12:50 PM  

Even after getting CASEY pretty quick still took a good half hour to suss out the theme. Didn't get the meaning of QRCIU till I came here.


rondo 1:40 PM  

And a MARLIN is a ghoti.
Clever enough puzz, slow start in NW, but moved over E 2 W and things just fell together. Sorry to say I was aware of KIMYE.

243 - STAND

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

Happy to say I finished OK but had to come here to understand the punch line. I think my tiny gray cells need a tune-up. I imagined the letters stood for some esoteric modern saying or something in computerese.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA

Dirigonzo 2:20 PM  

Atypically for me, I caught onto the gimmick very early-on and proceeded to write ASIN in the appropriate spaces in the rest of the theme answers, as enumerated so helpfully by the constructor. CASEY gave me the first letters and figuring out the homophones was fun.

146 - about as dismal as the weather here.

Mallard 3:15 PM  

Enjoyed the cluing and didn't mind the theme. As mentioned above, if you don't get mild amusement out of GHOTI, you're taking the world too seriously.

DMG 3:58 PM  

Even getting the X as inY idea, I found this one a slog. My French is mostly puzzle learned; read the book ages ago, but misremember the fish as a tARpoN; know nil about biker slang and modern acronyms; wanted my sunthings to be something auROR... And so it went! Finally straightened the whole mess out except for having AVOIc, ( thought AVOIR had to do with goodbye), and came here to find why I couldn't shake the weird QRGIU!! Glad someone explained why it was right!!! There really is a team called the Violets?

And even my 314 doesn't hold up in the face of @Rondo's draw. Time for a cup,of tea!

Pippin 3:59 PM  

Everything Loren said! Loved it! It was fun, and clever and if it wasn't up to Thursday's difficulty, I, for one,could care less. Way too much analyzing - lighten up people! Thanks Mr. F.

Dirigonzo 4:35 PM  

@Pippin, it's been a long time - nice to see you back!

rain forest 7:12 PM  

People like OFL who are trying to use logic in order to explain why or why not the thems works are completely missing the point. This is a bit of whimsy, wacky even, and OFL always says, if you want wacky, go WACKY. Aw, never mind.

If it weren't for the -as in- clues, I might not have finished this, or might still be working on it. The cluing had good BITE, several sections of the puzz were beauts (BUTTES, har), and the theme "name" was BATS enough to make me laugh, as I did when ghoti first made an appearance.

Anyway, I'm with those who loved it. Great stuff.

Aha! 2781 Tied with Rondo, so let's draw another card. Again, aha! 9 (just kidding)

leftcoastTAM 8:08 PM  

Might not the "listener" have thought, after the odd misdirections, "Curse you!" (a plausible pronunciation of QRCIU)?

Anonymous 12:23 AM  

Kimye as in kuite yukky?

Anonymous 7:45 AM  

It's scary that there are so many weird people on the loose. I'll bet that most of them even thought that "Gone Girl" is a great movye...

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