Part of krone / THU 1-8-15 / Marias Mexican penal colony / 2005 Nobel-winning playwright / African nation with much-disputed border / Singer with #1 debut album Animal 2010 / Brand once pitched by Josephine plumber / Nobel-winning novelist Kertesz

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Constructor: Jacob Stulberg

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: HALF MEASURE (59A: Inadequate effort … or the contents of six squares in this puzzle?) — rebus in which two juxtaposed measures (provided by Downs) become twice that measure in the Across, e.g. CUP from "cupid" (35D) and CUP" from "hiccup" (23D) create HAROLD [CUP] [CUP] ER in the Across; and since two [CUP]s make a "PINT"—you get HAROLD [PINT]ER (in your mind)

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: George MAHARIS (25D: George of "Route 66") —
George Maharis (born September 1, 1928 in Astoria, New York) is an American actor who portrayed Buz Murdock in the first three seasons of the TV series Route 66. Maharis also recorded numerous pop music albums at the height of his fame, and later starred in the short-lived TV series The Most Deadly Game. (wikipedia)
• • •
Big thumbs-up for the theme concept. Took me a long to pick it up, but when I did, I thought it was cute. Execution, however, had major issues, and really cut into my puzzle enjoyment significant. We'll start with a minor but still irksome theme issue: nobody but nobody uses the word "GILL" to mean "1/2 cup" anymore, so that's a bit of a black eye against this thing. Quart and Cup and Pint are ultra-common, and Gill is the opposite, so Gill has serious Fourth Square problems (a concept I borrowed from "Sesame Street"'s whole "Which of these squares is not like the others" bit):

[One of these kids is ….]

But the bigger problem was the fill, which was D.O.A. at 1-Across (1A: Nobel-winning novelist ___ Kertész). I'm exaggerating, but not by much. I wrote in IVOR because ugh it's one of those names constructors never use except in desperation. MOIRA, better, but still not great, ARETE, not a name, but worse. NEER, please NEER pack your NW with this much junk again ever, please. Speaking of desperation names: MAHARIS (25D: George of "Route 66"). No one wakes up and thinks "Oh boy, can't wait to put MAHARIS in my puzzle." More like "aw … crap … what the hell am I gonna put here … well, database says MAHARIS is a thing [looks up MAHARIS] … I guess it's OK?" End scene. I had an errer. An errar. I had MEHARIS. Why, because ERA (the "correct" Across answer at 27A: Time past) is inaccurately clued, and ERE means "before" and I thought maybe it could mean "time before," like, uh, YORE or something. I feel certain it had that meaning in Middle English, but this could be an erstwhile medievalist's false memory. At any rate, the clue on ERA is just wrong, in that one can be living in an ERA. Currently. Like, now. ERAs do not belong exclusively to [Time past]. Just a terrible crossing / clue / yuck. But core problem is, of course, MAHARIS.

Rest of the grid isn't as bad, fill-wise, but it's subpar. EEO EFTS ULEE AHAT and what not. Still, theme is good, and as we all know, that's the only thing that matters in this Administration. I'm still gonna give this a thumbs-up, overall. It's a very rough product with a very good core idea.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS What is a "Bugs Bunny pun"? (see  47A: Word in many Bugs Bunny puns (KARATS)). Is it a pun Bugs makes? A pun you make about Bugs? Are there lots of ("many") Bugs Bunny cartoons where he (he?) talks about gold? I get that Bugs likes "carrots" and that's the pun, but … 


Conrad 7:11 AM  

Lots of Googling but this time Sergey and Larry were of little help and I DNF'd. Never did really get the "half measure" idea, thanks in large part to GILL. On to Friday, as they say.

AugustJune 7:13 AM  

I guess nobody much liked this one. I've never heard of GILL and I got it first because I knew the downs. But had no clue it was half a cup... I was trying to make it REgenERATE! I agree with Rex except for the thumbs up part. MAHARIS popped into my head from somewhere long ago, and I knew ULEE. But IMRE??? And, yes, the theme was interesting, but only three with one dud? An overall pretty unpleasant solving experience.

GILL I. 7:32 AM  

If this had been a jewel I got from Tiffany's, I'd still ask for my money back.
OK, so I love Thursdays....I have to really put my thinking cap on. This one was just miserable for me. I suppose I should know what GILL means but I've never heard of this as a measurement?
VALIDLY is an actual word? Did BLANC utter KARATS? fun at all. And that's all folks!

Danp 7:35 AM  

I have never seen such awkward cluing in a NYT puzzle before.

a) ERE/ERA - agree with @Rex
b) Pogo, eg = HOP. What's the eg about?
c) As well - ELSE. While both suggest something beyond that mentioned, "As well" means similarly; "Else" means differently.
d) Short Race = ONEK. Sure, if you are a marathoner. I think in track and field, that is considered a middle distance.
e) A, B and others = INITS. A cluewriter can't get much lazier than that.

jon 7:50 AM  

I agree w rex...good idea, but a massive execution problem...

Some of the worst clueing I have seen in a while.

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

I have a problem with the rebuses here! I initially put them in contrasting pairs (i.e. QUART and PINT, then PINT and CUP, then CUP and GILL). I was thinking that each row favored the first across answers and second down answers and that the other two were interchangeable. I still think that might work better...Either way this puzzle theme is in no way intuitive. The theme hint claims that "half measure" is a hint to 6 tiles. This is why I thought they needed to be paired. Technically, the theme hint is only descriptive of 4 tiles (i.e. What is QUART a half measure of as it relates to this puzzle?!). This caused me major puzzle-solving dissatisfaction. I agree with Danp, awkward to say the least

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

Ambitious but not qunite a success. I was happy to see MAHARIS. A gimme to this old lady. @Gill - did you get GILL?

Anonymous 7:56 AM  

I can't remember if I've ever NOT finished a NYT puzzle. Just said WTF and gave up. UGH! And old enough to know Maharis instantly.

r.alphbunker 8:04 AM  

Well at least we don't have to worry about this one being puzzle 5 at the ACPT.

I had HIC[CUP] and [CUP]ID and the penny dropped when I realized that _AROLD[CUP][CUP]ER had to be HAROLD[PINT]ER.

I also knew that {Got well} RE[CUP]ERATE not RE[PINT]ERATE. But I was drawing a major blank on the {Montreal University} and {Funny Terry} even though I was positive I knew the university and that the funny Terry was a member of Monty Python. I finally got MC[GILL] which gave me [GILL]IAM and then I vaguely remembered the GILL measurement.

Elle54 8:08 AM  

Agree. Never heard of Gill.

Imfromjersey 8:10 AM  

Had to look up Gill mid solve to figure out it meant half a cup. Also One K race is not a thing. 1000 meter race is not a thing. 1500 meters known as the Metric Mile in track and field circles IS a thing. But no one calls that 1.5k. Google 1k race you get nothing. But I guess a will decided he liked the theme enough to allow it. Had heard of George Maharis, and I thought he was in West Side Story, but that was George Chakiris, who played Bernardo. Wrong George.

Mohair Sam 8:11 AM  

The good news is we knew we were gonna be naticked at the very first square in the puzzle. Therefore we had no heart to battle this thing, and accepted a dnf early. Not in a million years would we have gotten the gill/gill.

Got most of the East and South of the puzzle, and had the MC for MCGILL, knew it had to be that, but didn't know GILL was any sort of measure - never had a chance.

Oddly, we got HAROLDPINTER by guessing that there must be a winged god named INTID, and thought we had the rebus. But then what the hell did he mean by HALFMEASURE?

George Chakiris got in our way instead of MAHARIS and we looked for a rebus there. What a disaster! Didn't know many of the proper names either - especially our friend in square one.

Like I said, glad we gave up early - would have never solved it.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

The first time ever that I gave up on a Thursday. And now that I've read Rex's explanation I feel comfortable saying I gave up in disgust.

Unknown 8:29 AM  

DNF. Got most of puzzle filled, revealing HALFMEASURE, and tried to figure it out. Knew something was up because I knew Terry (gill)IAM. But between the crappy fill and some ridiculous clues I decided I no longer cared enough to finish.

ArtO 8:32 AM  


L 8:40 AM  

DNF. Never heard of a gill either. And I cook quite a bit. And to me, tear asunder sounds far more dramatic than merely rip in two. Crappy start to a freezing day. Sigh.

Unknown 8:45 AM  

Deb Amlen DNF'ed. So did Rex. Ralph, did you actually solve it? Anybody?

I had MC[GILL] but ripped it out when HALFMEASURES came along, GILL not being any kind of measure. Then I wondered if McQuarie is in Montreal. (Well, it's MacQuarie, and it's in Sydney, Australia, but that wasn't going to stop me.) So, CUP CUP CUP CUP for quart ~ McQuarie, but there was only room for one CUP; the other three were implied. So, MC [CUP] helped me misspell RECUPerRATE.

Oh, and CUP CUP for LIVINGQUARTERS, too, since violating exactness of measure seemed to be the rule in the puzzle. except for HAROLDPINTER, which was actually CUP CUP,

Wanting it does not make it do. 100 minutes until I capitulated and aked for the whole-puzzle reveal.

I'll point out that a proof starts with "Given . . ." or more commonly " Let . . ." as in "Let x be an element of the real numbers . . ." A proof uses AXIOMs, but I've never seen one start "AXIOM . . ." It is just not in-the-language.

But I learned GILL. That's not nothing.

Susierah 8:45 AM  

Add me to the list of did not care and gave up after 40 minutes. Never ever heard of gill, McGill, or terry Gilliam. So, no way to get that. Got the rebus at hiccup, but too many proper nouns to finish this one off. The concept was clever, but too hard for me.

Dorothy Biggs 8:45 AM  

I hate puns. My friends say I hate puns because I can't do them. Maybe that's true. My biggest misunderstanding in making a pun is that a homophone does not a pun make. Just because carrots sounds like K(c?)ARATS doesn't make it punny. Bugs, never in my memory, used the two interchangeably as either a pun or a double entendre.

I hated this puzzle. By the time I got to GILL, I didn't care at all but only to finish the thing and get on with my day. I googled most of the proper nouns and most certainly GILL. Terry Gilliam is many things but to minimize his work by simply calling him "Funny Terry" is ridiculous. I'm sure there's an analog to this misclue, but I don't care enough to think of one.

I got HALFMEASURE long before I figured out what it meant, and even then it didn't help until I googled PINTER and saw the double measure thing. CUPCUP, PINTPINT, was okay...GILLGILL, not so much.

There are times when solving challenging puzzles when you finish and you feel good about the struggle...there are other times when you struggle and the get angry about it.

This was one of those times for me. Hated the puzzle because I hated the solving experience.

AliasZ 8:59 AM  

I loved this puzzle because I learned that GILL is about half a cup and is pronounced Jill.

thesaurus dot com says:
ELSE (adverb): besides; in addition; as well.

I also loved the fact that the grid was bracketed by IMRE and PEST.

The first permanent bridge across the Danube in Hungary, the beautiful Széchenyi Lánchíd (Chain Bridge) was opened in 1849, which eventually led to the unification of Buda, the historic capital of Hungary, with the sprawling city of PEST across the river. The new city was officially renamed Budapest and established as the new capital of Hungary in 1873.

The only Hungarian Nobel Price recipient in literature, IMRE Kertész (born in BudaPEST in 1929) gave an interview for The New York Times in November, 2014. Kertész claimed the reporter was expecting him to question Hungary's democratic values and was shocked to hear him say that "the situation in Hungary is nice, I'm having a great time". According to Kertész, "he didn't like my answer. His purpose must have been to make me call Hungary a dictatorship which it isn't. In the end the interview was never published". (Wikipedia)

And here I thought The New York Times was the gold standard of unbiased reporting. What a shock!

joho 9:05 AM  

I can't remember the last time I just quit. No more. Nada.

I was thrilled to get CUP at CUPID but missed the double CUP CUP with HICCUP because I had acne. solidly instead of VALIDLY. What a mess. And, obviously the meaning of HALFMEASURE, which I got, never dawned on me.

I think I would have kept at it if I hadn't been completely stymied by not being able to write in RECUPERATED. GILL? GILL?

I do like seeing MRTOAD! (But is ACR a thing, really?)

Jacob, I have to hand it to you for a brilliant concept, I am really impressed ... but it was too much for me.

Oh, and we got CYCLOPS today ... I was with @Arlene yesterday thinking the single square in the middle of the grid was his eye.

Unknown 9:10 AM  

Challenging. Agree with Rex. I actually got the GILL because there was no other possible answer for the University. It sat there looking ugly with an empty square next to it until I recognized the trick and saw GILLIAM. Didn't need to know that a GILL was half of anything!

I will admit, though, that I was forced to Google the singer (Kesha) so I consider that a defeat. Given the results of others posting here, though, I suppose it ranks as a resounding victory! Unfortunately I still feel vanquished.

Tough puzzle.

jbum 9:10 AM  

This feels like a post-google puzzle. Would never have figured out Gill if I hadn't googled "gill cup pint" after googling "Montreal Universities". Like the theme idea though.

jae 9:19 AM  

Holy sheep sh*t.  This is the toughest NYT puzzle I've done in a very long time.  I was going to blame it on being on a mini vacation and drinking, but when I realized GILL had to be right and I had no idea why,  I knew this was more than  Fireball tough.  

Plus IMRE Nagy I know, Kertesz not so much and the clue for ARÊTE = WOE.  Good thing I knew MOIRA and KESHA otherwise DNF?

Caveat, I normally solve on paper (@purist, I'm with you), but the vacation situation caused an iPad solve (my hosts ran out of printer ink) which involved the rebus button.  Fortunately, I use Stand Alone so I got its version of Mr. Happy Pencil as soon as I filled in the last square...the H in HOP.  Not sure what I would have done if I had been left staring at the grid.

Anyway, did I like it?  Not really.  I mean GILL makes Natick look like LA or NYC.   So I got this one but I don't think it was fair.  Or what Rex and pretty much everyone ELSE said!

Charles Flaster 9:20 AM  

Big time DNF and felt it was unfair cluing.
Ice cream came in GILLS when hand-packed back in the '50s in Brooklyn.
Could not piece theme together.
Had GILL, PINT, QUART. Now looking for three other measures!
Agree with Rex again and puzzle could have used more careful editing.
Thanks JS.

chefbea 9:21 AM  

Couldn't do it. Never heard of Gill. Knew harold Pinter but it wouldn't fit. Hand up for hating the puzzle!!!

noone 9:25 AM  

I might have stuck with this one if there were a way of actually doing it on my computer in whatever the NYT app is (AcrossLite???). But alas, there's no way of inputting the correct answers.
So it was frustrating, infuriating, and absolutely no fun at all.
I DNFed because I simply hated it so much.

Dorothy Biggs 9:25 AM  

@AliasZ Can you tell me why you love the puzzle because it was "bracketed by IMRE and PEST?" Not sure what you see in it or mean by it...?

Just curious.

John Child 9:30 AM  

This was seriously tough, 53 minutes which is Saturday for me. But I enjoyed it because the difficulty in identifying the theme - it looks like a rebus, OK the reveal says six squares, where in blazes are they? - seemed to balance the clue difficulty. I could have been upset with either, but somehow two wrongs made a right for me today.

Agree that the NW had some unfortunate fill. KESHA crossing KARATS was nasty too. Saturday sadistic. ;-)

RAD2626 9:37 AM  

Agree with the comments re cluing. Very tough overall. SW and NW had no easy entry points. For some reason I had mAHINIS which made me want "menagerie" for TENT SHOW" which does not fit but I tried to force it in anyway. MAHARIS is fair in my opinion although ULEE was I thought relegated to the dustbin some time ago.

Ω 9:42 AM  

Well, after reading the previous posts I am once again feeling superior to the rest of humanity. I'm with Rex on the theme, and I don't disagree with him on the fill as much as I think the theme is good enough to overcome IMRE and ULEE.

I have my residency in HockeyTown to thank for finishing. I got the theme at HAROLD (CUP)(CUP)ER, which helped me suss out LIVING (PINT)(PINT)ERS, but GILL is not something I've ever heard of. However, Mike Babcock is the coach of the Detroit Red Wings, the Canadian National Team, and a MCGILL graduate. I had discarded GILLIAM before I had sussed out the theme, so I probably would have come to (GILL) eventually, but it was Mike Babcock that opened up the SW for me.

Between IMRE Kertész, HAROLD (CUP)(CUP)ER, and George MAHARIS, I am more than a little happy with finishing this one. Pinter I have heard of but I wasn't going to get him from the clue alone. The other two are new to me.

Again - "wrong" should be used only when it actually always applies to a clue/answer. Rex is wrong in his "ERA is wrong assertion." ERA is a perfect acceptable answer to "Times past." Sure, ERA can be used to describe the now, but it is far far FAR more common to use it to describe times past.

For me, a fun tussle. I'm giving this an Undertaker Belgian Style Dark Ale rating. A dark, sinister pour with notes of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and a hint of dark cherries. The lingering finish whispers molasses and roastiness. If you finish it you love it, but not to everyone's taste.

wreck 9:46 AM  

Gave up after 41 minutes, severely beaten and bruised. I was fully expecting to come here and find that everyone thought it was easy!

Whirred Whacks 10:05 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle a lot, i.e., didn't think it was half-assed. Solved this using only my left lobe!
[in 40']

Got HALF MEASURES first, then figured out the trick with the HAROLD cup cup ER answer. (Would've been interesting to have had BRA as an answer under the 2 cups.)


The Charlie Hebdo murders put a real damper on yesterday. I remembered this quote from physicist Niels Bohr: "Some things are so serious that you have to laugh at them." That sentiment certainly includes religion (and ideologies).


Enjoy your Thursday's everyone.

raittd 10:11 AM  

I'm with Casco - had Given in for the longest time as the start of a proof.

I eventually got the theme from Gill/Gill but I split the across word over two squares (i.e. CU/P) and inferred the Gill for the university. That didn't work so well for the Quart in LIVING QUARTERS, however, so at that point I just punted and took a DNF and came to see how I should have laid it out.

Davidph 10:16 AM  

This is the first time in ages that I just gave up on a puzzle. I got the revealer, and CUP CUP, but was never going to see PINT or GILL. I thought the clueing was extraordinarily hard for a Thursday.

RnRGhost57 10:16 AM  

Recall reading that back in the day, the British and U.S. navies issued a daily ration of 1/2 gill of rum to each sailor. That was about 2 ounces per day.

Steve J 10:26 AM  

Last night, I thought I just wasn't on the right wavelength for this puzzle. It's a little encouraging to read that nearly everyone had massive problems with this significantly flawed puzzle. Like many, I just gave up after a long while.

I had the same issues as many - GILL is hardly at the tip of anyone's tongue, cluing was frequently awkward, there's lots of ungainly fill. I liked the idea a lot, but the puzzle's theme was not nearly enough to overcome its myriad problems.

@NCA President: If I recall correctly, Alias Z is Hungarian. The puzzle begins with a prominent Hungarian author (IMRE) and ends with PEST, which is the eastern side of Budapest.

@Casco: I think you're overthinking and being to literal regarding proof and AXIOM. The clue didn't say first word of a proof, just the start of a proof. Much as one ends a proof with a conclusion (yet never writes "conclusion" at the end), one begins the proof with a postulate or AXIOM.

JTHurst 10:31 AM  

I have been rebusized. This puzzle had too many sinuosities of forms. I got Harold Pinter and recuperated but could not decipher the rebus enigma. This puzzle had, not only oblique rebus fill-in, but its quota of obscura. I never knew that Mr. Toad was considered the squire of Toad Hall. Maybe some one can help me, is Cyclops like sheep, both plural and singular. Then is Polyphemus a Cyclops or Cyclop. Is Cyclops a genus, family or a phylum? This puzzle had some excellent clues and answers like 43a – pdf's and some of the worst like 9d – acr. Wresting answers from this puzzle reminded me of my recent visit to the dentist where a back molar tooth was wrested from my gums: pull, twist, drill and cut, pull, twist and scream.
I suppose it describes my mental processes that I got 25d - George Maharis right away and unlike ‘Rex’, I thought it was the ‘core’ essence of the puzzle. When I saw clue 30a – Bad state to be in, my mind beget Utah. I now understand the expression “Schlocked to the Gills.

r.alphbunker 10:36 AM  

@Casco Kid
Since you asked it was a DNF. I allotted 30 minutes to do the puzzle. At 30 minutes I had 48/78 correct answers. Finished in 65min.

Needed to be told that the following were incorrect
{They're marked} EXITS/EXAMS
{Use, as a resource}DI[PINT]O/TA[PINT]O
{Singer with the #1 debut album "Animal," 2010}TESSA/KESHA
{What may have quite a stir} TEA/ROW/WOK

However, I did not reveal the contents of any square. For that I think I deserve an honorable mention.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

Well, I liked this puzzle. I want my Thursdays to be tough with a clever gimmick, this was both. I don't really care about the fill.
20:09, no googles.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

Well, the northeast was tough, then I got to the middle, which was brutal and undoable, but then at least the end was impossible!
Great to be so humbled by a puzzle once in a while.
I'm off to drink a GILL or two of whisky. Any maybe a dram of, um, whiskey.

evil doug 10:56 AM  

Go jum [cup cup] he effin' lake, Jake.


Ω 10:59 AM  

Wow - you guys are continuing to inflate my ego. Keep it up.

@Casco - I have to agree with @Steve J - every proof starts with an AXIOM. If I'm remembering correctly (and a quick perusal of Wikipedia suggests that I may not be) all of Euclidean Geometry can be undone by changing the AXIOM, "Given that in a plane, through a point not on a given straight line, at most one line can be drawn that never meets the given line," to "Given that in a plane, through a point not on a given straight line, more than one line can be drawn that never meets the given line."

@Whirred Whacks - I have a goodly number of friends who are Muslim. Yesterday had nothing to do with religion. I think The Arab American News says it well. I fear that we have lost our ability to understand and respond well to Nut Jobs armed with hate and weapons.

Blue Stater 10:59 AM  

Another non-crossword puzzle in the WS era. And a vicious and nasty one, too.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

POS puzzle. Abandoned very early on due to heavy reliance on obscure proper names.

dogbreath 11:04 AM  

DNF this dog as I couldn't get a toehold after quite a few blind stabs. Liking the LA Times's puzzle more and more and the NYT's less and less.

Arlene 11:08 AM  

I did this in Across Lite, and it was taking C for CUP, G for GILL, and P for PINT.
I caught on to the rebus at PINTER that didn't fit. Had to do some extensive Googling. Really thought it was HICCUP, and finally realized we had two squares that had to have the rebus.
Knew it had to be McGILL University.
Also agree about some of the cluing - totally bizarre. How to get HOP form POGO? OY!
But I did get the CYCLOPS which I thought was going to make an appearance yesterday with that big eye in the middle of yesterday's puzzle.
I can't claim to have finished this puzzle without a little help, but I did get the theme. And agree with everyone's comments!

Danield 11:08 AM  

To all:

Thanks for the company in my misery. This one crushed me and I feared it was just me.

Kurt 11:10 AM  

I am really surprised by how many folks don't know the word "GILL". It's not an obscure word by any means in my view. You still see it in bars and pubs on occasion. Gill seems like fair game for a Thursday puzzle.

With regard to the entire puzzle, I thought that it was a great Thursday challenge. The theme was both difficult to suss out and really clever once you did. Names of Nobel Prize winners seem like fair fodder for a NYT puzzle. I hadn't heard of Imre Kertesz either but I was able to discover him pretty easily from the crosses. This is what makes late week puzzles a challenge.

Finally, Rex objects to EFTS, ULEE and A HAT. I don't see the problem. They seem like perfectly acceptable entries to me.

Nice work, Jacob and Will. Count me as a fan!

Nancy 11:10 AM  

Just because I can't finish 'em doesn't mean I don't like 'em. Like @jae I thought this the toughest puzzle in a long time. Like @JT Hurst, I couldn't figure out what the rebus wanted from me, even when I knew it needed HAROLD PINTER and RECUPERATED and I already had HALF MEASURES. If only I had had ORE instead of URE at 31D, I might have gotten COMA (instead of CUBA) which might have given me McGill, from which one of my closest friends graduated. (By then I already had GILLIAM right next door, but still didn't get the puzzle's conceit.)
My beef isn't the use of GILL. My beef is similar to @Mohair's: You know you'll be naticked at the first square. In a puzzle this hard, you can't also have all those obscure foreign names. You simply can't! And I agree with @NCA Pres: I'm sure Bugs Bunny never made a KARATS pun even once! But I liked the rebus concept a lot and just wish I were smarter.

mathguy 11:20 AM  

Feeling very pleased with myself for having finished without Googling. It took a long time but I'm a slow solver. Concurrently, I watched the amazing Warriors win another game and that excellent new show, Empire.

Both Deb Amlen and Bill Butler DNF. Wow.

Somehow I knew that a gill was a unit of measurement and, from the other rebuses, inferred that it was half of something. RECUPERATE was almost a gimme.

A proof in geometry can be thought of as a sequence of axioms, postulates, and theorems. And since a theorem is a sequence of axioms and postulates, a proof can be broken down into a sequence of axioms and postulates. So I would say that the clue for 48D is correct.

The only drek for me was ELSE and ACR.

I love all rebuses and this one more than most.

Mike E 11:22 AM  

One more quibble. Lookied up gill to verify that it was indeed a unit of measurement, but pronounced it for me as "Jill." Or have I been mispronouncing McGill all these years, Terry?

Carola 11:33 AM  

I enjoyed solving this one, but, WOW, tough. Starting out in that discouraging NW corner: I had only a LONE RAVEN, whose CAW said "Nevermore," as far as a Mexican penal colony, Greek excellence, Hungarian writer, etc., were concerned. Moving ACR to the center top, I'd forgotten that the irresponsible MR. TOAD was a squire, so no traction there, either. Thank goodness for the CAROL-ADORE-WOWED cluster that opened the way into the center.

The rebus remained VEILED to me for a very long time. I'd say that MCGILL was my "Aha" point, but it was actually more a "Huh?", as I was also hobbled by not knowing what a GILL is - I'd thought it was something wee, like a dram. Only when I had HALF MEASURE in place did I understand how HAROLD PINTER worked with its TWO CUPS, and then MCGILL and GILLIAM also made sense.

Returning to the upper tier to look for the QUART, I resorted to the "Let's see, what could it possibly be" method, as in, "What Hungarian (crossword) first names do you know?" Erno and IMRE, which fit the R and let me guess ISLAS. And so on. Still took an ERA and a HALF to get RI[PINT]WO and TA[PINT]O.

Still had to mop up the pun area in the SW, but having been away from it for so long gave me the "new eyes" advantage. Last in was the K in KARATS x KESHA.

I loved the way all the MEASURES were hidden - diabolical in a good way.

@Mohair Sam - Thankfully MAHARIS emerged from the memory depths before Chakiris, which I could sense drifting at the edge.

@GILL I. - I also got a kick out of BLANC complementing the wascally wabbit clue. (HOP.)

Ludyjynn 11:34 AM  

This one started out soooo promising, what with tasty TAHINIs(again, so soon) and RAVEN (go B-More Ravens!). Plus, I saw the theme early-on at MCGILL/GILLIAM and HICCUP/CUPID.

The DESCENt into Hell began w/ my holding on to 'O'Hara' instead of MOIRA. Her career is ascendant, she's presently starring on B-Way, while we haven't heard much from Ms. Moira in several years. Of course, she spells it Kelli, not Kelly; doh!

I NEVER EVER EVER Google. But after realizing I was dealing w/ a Sat. level puzz. and watching the morning fly by, I Googled FOUR times to finish this monster. @JTHurst got it right w/ his dental extraction/WRESTing analogy.

I do appreciate seeing the double meaning for BLANC, first as the vin answer and then in conjunction w/ the Bugs Bunny clue, channeling Mel, the voicemeister.

Feeling a bit ILL after this struggle; will bundle up to take out the recycling and RECUPERATE in the arctic temps.

If your goal was to shake things up "for a Thursday", thanks JS and WS.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

@Kurt: totally agree with you. Excellent concept and an enjoyable challenge that we successfully finished. McGill is probably the most well known university in Canada. Do you suppose that a Canuck doing some puzzle in the Toronto Mail might say "What the hell,is this Harvard place?"

Mr. Benson 11:48 AM  

Agreed with today's assessment. The theme idea is good, but (1) fill was terrible, and (2) what the hell is a GILL. Overall it felt like a CHORE.

AliasZ 11:51 AM  

@NCA President,

Yes, I loved the puzzle for the two reasons I already mentioned, plus I always welcome new words and unfamiliar concepts into my vocabulary, although two weeks (days) later I may not remember them. Today it was GILL, ARETE meaning "excellence" or "virtue" in Greek (ἀρετή), the fact that TAHINIS can be used as a plural, KESHA is a person, MR. TOAD's voice is sorta RASPY and was never voiced by Mel BLANC (but Elmer Fudd was), there is at least one other MOIRA besides Shearer, Renée ADORÉe was a famous silent movie star, and it is OK for two of Santa's reindeers, COMET and CUPID, to come to the party two weeks late. (If TAHINIS, why not reindeers?)

I like to learn new and exciting things from puzzles. Doesn't everyone? The theme was quite ingenious and fun to figure out. I welcomed the challenge.

@Steve J, you are correct. Thank you.

The IMRE/PEST bracket also gives me the excuse to mention Kálmán IMRE (better known as Emmerich Kalman, 1882-1953), composer of the operettas "Die Csárdásfürstin", "Gräfin Mariza" and many others, as well as Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 9 titled "Carnival in PEST."

Have a cheerful Thursday!

Bird 11:52 AM  

Ouch! Too many unknowns and Google was not much help. Looked at all the blanks in the grid after the first pass and thought Rebus, but could not figure it out what it was. Worked around the revealer until I got it, but not knowing GILL killed it for me. Knew Terry must be GILLIAM, but couldn't confirm with crosses.

I like the idea just not the presentation.

@Gill I - Hand up for appreciating Mel BLANC meeting Bugs today

Zeke 11:55 AM  

Before I got the conceit of the puzzle, I had the two CUPS and I wondered who Harold BRAer was.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

@Alias Z - Kálmán IMRE composed Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 9 ? Sounds kind of fishy to me.

Google takes my word for it that I'm not a robot. I finally fooled the Mighty Google!

old timer 11:58 AM  

also a DNF. I did get the reCUPerated/McGILL cross and the PINTer hicCUP cross and the others.

My problem was the concept that *two* squares are used for the rebus. Never figured that out, though I did think of GILLIAM and have known almost all my life that there are two GILLs (pronounced jills) to a half-pint.

I am not ashamed of having had to Google for KESHA. Why? Because "pogo" is not a word for "hop". I doubt it has ever been used in that sense. My dictionary says it is (or once was) a trademark of the Pogo company that invented the jumping sticks. So Google provided the only way out of that corner.

RMFL 12:10 PM  

Having attended an English grammar school in the fifties the word "gill" was very familiar. We enjoyed a free gill of milk mid-morning until Margaret Thatcher cancelled the freebie while was the Minster of Education.

I agree that the puzzle was challenging, but I enjoyed it.

Steve J 12:18 PM  

@Blue Stater: In what way is this not a crossword puzzle?

Wonkword 12:22 PM  

Got everything but the Northwest because I had MINKA Kelly instead of Moira, who I never heard of.

Davis 12:33 PM  

@Z - Sorry to nitpick, but it's not the case that "every proof starts with an AXIOM." AXIOMs are foundational, but theorems of any complexity are commonly built on the "bricks" of other theorems, rather than directly on the foundation. The key point here being that "proof" includes a lot more than the middle school geometry proofs you have in mind--it includes pretty much all of modern mathematics (where the structures are built up so high that it's uncommon to look back much to the foundation).

Dansah 12:42 PM  

I rarely DNF or complain. Asked myself why I had to google Imre. The NW is (arbitrarily on my part) a 4x5 grid--20 squares. 17 of these are used as part of a proper noun. Frustrating to get a difficult rebus and be Naticked into oblivion.

OISK 12:44 PM  

Finished it! Almost had cesha and carats since I 've never heard of Kesha nor of her album, but I guessed right. Really clever puzzle, although I agree with the complaints about the cluing. Never heard of Terry Gilliam either. Have heard of Jim Gilliam , 1953 rookie of the year for Brooklyn.

Aliasz mentioned Imre Kalman; my grandmother saw Csardasfurstin in Vienna when it opened in 1915, and it is a favorite of mine. I am planning to visit Vienna this June to see Grafin Maritza, which I also love.

Nice to finish a puzzle that is "challenging" after 3 DNF last week on "easy" ones...

jennybean 12:52 PM  

After getting HALF MEASURE and GILL GIlL first, I just couldn't figure out what was going on...wound up Googling GiLL. Maybe if I'd gotten one of the other half measures first I'd have figured it out...

I don't mind MAHARIS since KESHA was in the same puzzle...something for all ages :) Cheers to those who knew both...true pop culture vultures!

I do object to what I felt were bad clues...ERA and ELSE seemed to be entirely misclued...I realize "also" is in the online thesaurus for "else", But can anyone construct a sentence where it's used that way? And ERA definitely does not imply past.

A. and B. for INITS is very bad, Horizontal for ACR...just...ick. As others have said, a "ONE K" is not a thing, "Pogo e.g." for HOP is also pretty bad. And perhaps Bugs Bunny pun for KARAT should have had a ? because I dont think there really are a lot of "karat" for "carrot" puns in the actual cartoons (can anyone think of any?)

Bad/lazy clues are a pet peeve for me. So while I agree this was a clever concept (even if the tricky GILL stumped me), I really didn't like this one. Too clunky!

Masked and Anonymo5Us* 12:52 PM  

@Zeke--yep. And I was also wonderin what REfishERATED meant.

This puz put up a heckuva fight, in my livingpinipinters. Overturned bed and dressers. Two Kerfuffles, enroute.
Thanx U, Shortmeister, for only pullin this stunt 3 times, in the puz. If there'd been a fourth, instead of a helpful lil revealer, I'd still be workin this puppy, on my eighth cupcup of coffee and sixteenth cinnamon roll. And lovely spouse callin the ambulance ...

Liked how old Jacob just tells yah, right up front: "U ain't just gonna traipse in off the street and into my puz at 1-Across. NoooOOOooo..." har

Lui, lui, ... ayyyyr ... and we gotta go now ...


** gruntz ACPT trainin **

M and Arete 1:05 PM  

Errata from main message:
Probably some other day-um thing, that I missed.

Sorry. Puz shook m&e up, a little bit.

Yo, @GILL I! U cute lil half-measure, U.


okanaganer 1:21 PM  

Well I loved it!! By a minor miracle, I finished totally Googles, no errors. Although at 40 minutes it took about twice as long as a normal Thursday.

I'm sure that if I had still been mired down after that long I would have stormed away cursing "I hate this #$% puzzle". The cluing was pretty tough...Saturdayish. But I loved the theme and I somehow inferred all those obscure names and words. If GILL hadn't been so archaic, and it was a Saturday, I would pronounce it one of the best puzzles this year. Er, I mean in the last year.

Back in my B.Sc. days, I took a course in theoretical calculus... 100% proofs, all the time. We never began with the word AXIOM; generally it was "ASSUME...", which means the same thing, starts with the same letter, and almost fit.

For quite a while I had WABBIT for 47 across. Evidently I temporarily forgot what the word "pun" means.

MDMA 1:51 PM  

This was very tough. I actually knew MCGILL and KESHA, but "died on the beach" with RAggY instead of RASPY. Convinced myself that Pogo the cartoon character was a (hedge)HOg, and maybe SIg for "signature" was a family moniker. Tiredness makes nonsense plausible.

It took so much time and effort to figure out the rebuses, and I needed every single cross for MAHARIS, so I just didn't have the energy or willpower left in the tank at the end to recheck anything.

Really should have just set it aside, slept on it, and finished up in the morning. This isn't the ACPT. We have 24 hours, why not use them.

Hated it while working on it, but in hindsight I feel much more favorable. We need puzzles like this from time to time, they build character. But Saturday might have been more appropriate. There's no rule that says rebuses are for Thursdays only.

55D "As well" was clued for aLSo, not ELSE. That was a minor annoyance.

David Glasser 1:54 PM  

Showing my youth, George Maharis is only familiar to me as a pseudonym on the Netflix season of Arrested Development. (And I still made Rex's ERE mistake.)

ANON B 1:55 PM  

A horrible puzzle. Even when I
saw the explanation it took awhile
to understand it.
I appreciate the cleverness
of the puzzle maker, but on a
Thursday?? Not even on a
Saturday. They would have to make
an eighth day of the week for
this one to be appropriate.

abstractblueman 2:03 PM  

@Casco Kid @Steve J @mathguy @Z @Davis @okanaganer

I agree that technically the clue for AXIOM is correct in that an AXIOM is the basis for an argument which constitutes a proof. The quibble that I have with the way this was clued is that we quite often see QED as the answer to the clue "End of a proof", and QED is literally used at the end of a proof to indicate that the proof is complete. I earned a PhD in mathematics in MAY of 2012. I bring this up only to justify the comment that I have read/written thousands of proofs over the last ten years and I've never seen a proof literally start with the word AXIOM.

Oh yeah. I also wanted to say Holy Crap! This one was the hardest Thursday that I can remember from the last three years. @Mohair Sam I too was naticked from square one!

Props to @Rex for the term "Fourth Square"!!

Fred Romagnolo 2:09 PM  

It may be a generational thing, I knew GILL and ARETE, but not KESHA, or AMY Adams. I wanted a q.e.d. tie-in to the math proof, and soLIDLY for good grounds. Even though I DNF'd, I did figure out the rebuses, and how they were used. I'm a bit surprised that there are folks who didn't know Terry GILLIAM; Monty Python! It was too tortured a puzzle all in all. Here it is after 11:00 am PST, I'm usually finished before that.

orangeblossomspecial 2:16 PM  

Who can forget George Maharis and Martin Milner in Route 66
, featuring theme music by Nelson Riddle? The show made us all want to own Vettes and pick up chicks along the highway.

Benko 2:20 PM  

I usually enjoy being contrary and playing devil's advocate...but I also thoroughly disliked this puzzle. What most everyone is saying about it, I agree with.
I did manage to finish, and under ten minutes. But barely.

Fred Romagnolo 2:20 PM  

@Alias Z: as a conservative, I was long used to the NYT's Editorial Page liberal bias, but, alas, it has now crept into the reporting itself, a definite slant on how the news is actually written. Sad.

Last Silver Bullettes 2:26 PM  

Top Bugs Bunny puns:

* Bags bunny.
* Bunny bags. For leftover salad, at the bistro.
* Bags Bonnie.
* Begs Benny.
* Buns Buggy. Cinnamon roll rejection comment.
* Scut the cheese.
* Hare today, gone tomorrow.
* Cony Island (!)
* Buck to the future. Rabbit time travel flick.
* Doe nuts for karats.
* Pika card.
* Fur example.
* Just "Karats". That one does just kinda lie there.


Outlaw M and A 2:52 PM  

* Bunny bugs.

and, correction...
* Bugs Bonnie. My intentions were entirely honrable.


mathguy 2:56 PM  

Abstractblueman: Steve J's point was that a proof can start with the truth in an axiom, not the word "axiom."

By the way, congratulations on your doctorate in mathematics. That's a staggering achievement. I derailed at Galois theory.

Ω 3:05 PM  

@AXIOM Nit Pickers - I have to admit that your struggle with the AXIOM clue is making my schadenfreude GILLGILL runneth over. The clue says "Start" and you (almost) all go literal minded. Every proof starts with at least one AXIOM. That's AXIOMatic. I don't care how high the building goes, you have to start with the foundation. @Davis - as an educator but not a mathematician let me say with absolute certainty that if the mathematician doesn't know the underlying AXIOMs they don't really understand the Math (which is partially the reason that "Euclidean Geometry" was a redundant term until relatively recently).

I think this qualifies as another "einstein" moment since the clue managed to trick people who know too much. I last took geometry in 1978 but got it right off the M in AMY. Meanwhile Doctors of Mathematics were led astray.

As for carrot/KARAT puns - Never say never (I had to wait for the video game ad to go away).

Numinous 3:19 PM  

I got a finish today and my "streak" went up a number but I had to google for Natick names like IMRE and KESHA and even AMY. But I finally got the rebi to to give me a finish and get a congrats on the iPad app.

GILL I knew on accounta in England, as i recall, they serve spirits in 1/4 GILL "shots".

Dunno what's wrong with ACR. I've seen it used and thought it was kinda funny when I twigged.
If one thinks of a pogo stick as a hopping stick, HOP isn't all that far fetched. It does argue for creative use of language which is something I rather enjoy in a puzzle. Yeah, yeah, Rex and many of y'all prefer answers to be "in the language," while I don't mind the occasional use of creative interpretation as long as it's inferable. I coulld argue that [PINT][PINT] for quart and [CUP][CUP] for pint is also creative use of language.

On the whole, I agree with Rex today (a rarity) but only by about 60%. I enjoyed it and am pleased to have finished with only a few googles.

John V 3:22 PM  

I got nothing.

Lewis 3:22 PM  

Terrific theme, some questionable cluing (as has been pointed out) and I had to Google because there was just too much I didn't know -- but I loved the struggle, and, as someone said earlier, puzzles like this build character and they're good to come along every now and then. There was some yuck fill, yes, but a really good theme can justify it if it is pulled off.

@aliasz or @leapy or anyone else -- I'm trying to think of an answer that includes (QUART)(QUART)(QUART)(QUART) but am running dry. Any ideas?

Oh, this is not a PPP, I promise! I'm looking for ideas and have no answers!

Gabe Tuerk 3:26 PM  

Arete was my first word in this puzzle and built nicely on yesterday's Theseus theme. I loved this puzzle but Gill stuck in my craw. 42 minutes and change

Lewis 3:32 PM  

Factoid: The largest pearl-bearing OYSTER is the marine Pinctada maxima, which is roughly the size of a dinner plate.

Quotoid: "No problem can be solved from the same LEVEL of consciousness that created it." -- Albert Einstein

Blue Stater 3:49 PM  

@Steve J: This mess was not a crossword puzzle but a word game, in that it is a rebus and has a "meta" aspect to it as well. Once you figure out the rebus you then have to do something else to get the answer: in this case add the HALF MEASURES to get the word that fills the gap. For me this takes the experience much more in the direction of something like Games magazine (is it still around?) from which, I believe, WS came to the NYT. It's a completely different intellectual experience from crossword puzzles.

You could subsume my many objections to WS's reign at the NYT under the critique he has used the power of that position to redefine the genre. I lament its passing. I keep doing the NYT puzzles in hopes that it will return, and out of a determination not to let myself be driven away.

xyz 3:52 PM  

Far too clever and deceptive for its own good, a rebus - a double double rebus - with a twist AND rather deceptive clung made me lose interest very quickly and just not give a damn. Pfffffffft did I mention that the Gil in general was poor and poorly clued? ONEK is not a short race to anyone who had been on an athletics team as I was for my university. Turned me off even more as I discovered that level of "added challenge". Whatever floats yer boat.

LaneB 3:56 PM  

Glad to see so many of those who found most puzzles "easy" receipted for DNFs on this one. Needless to say, I did too despite plenty of Googling. Never did figure out the rebus despite knowing that HAROLDPINTER and RECUPERATED had to be correct. Agree also that the cluing was pllenty tough and IMO unfair and that fill such as IMRE, ISLAS, KESHA TAHINIS ,etc. were a bit much.
Congrats to the finishers, particularly one blogger who apparently did it in ten minutes. I'd love to witness that.

xyz 3:59 PM  

Now that I've read some other comments (I never do before I post) I find that I'm not even close to the biggest whiner today. Haha. This puzzle was total crap and in no way enhanced the breed.

Hartley70 4:00 PM  

Well after whining endlessly for a rebus I can hardly complain when I get two for the price of one in every themer. I got the trick at HAROLDPINTER and the revealer HALFMEASURE pretty quickly. I had GILL from the Uni and Terry. I was undone by people from Natick. Never heard of MOIRA, and I wanted Minka who is pretty obscure in her own right. Joan Rivers used to make fun of KESHA but I don't know any of her songs. Never heard of IMRE. KARATS does not make me think of Bugs. Not even close.

AliasZ 4:04 PM  

@Lewis, see if any of these work for you:

bein(QUART)(QUART)(QUART)(QUART) the same page


Katzzz 4:09 PM  

Is it possible Rex does not know the definition of "erstwhile"? Seems so from his use of the word in his writeup. An "erstwhile medievalist" is a former medievalist, not a wannabe one.

RooMonster 4:16 PM  

Hey All !
Hands fervently waving in the air on the challenging-impossible scale! Knew it was a Rebus, but couldn't find 'em. Had CUP/PINT for the HICCUP/PINTER cross, but that left TER at the end of pinter, and after Googing it, (one of the many proper names I had to Goog) knew there wasn't two T's, so said Hmm...

Also never would have gotten GILL, just learned it today! Did have a good chunk of the puz done, of course, after a few Googs :-). Know of KESHA (I won't tell if you don't!) but thought she was later than 2010 (times flies for us aging folk, you know who you are!)

Clever concept, was stymied for quite a while, which made the solve a slog, finally said, "That's enough of this silliness" and came here for the I sholda known that, but didn't get it on today. Oh well, still don't think it's been the hardest in recent Puzzladom, remember the Crossout Puz, by PB2, I believe.


Evan 4:20 PM  

@Blue Stater:

All opinions about today's puzzle and the current state of the NYT puzzle aside, I think you have the wrong idea of what a meta is, as least as it's commonly used. It's not simply doing something extra to grok the answer in a crossword. A meta is an additional layer to a puzzle that leads you to a unique, real answer -- for instance, if the rebus squares themselves spelled out a specific word or phrase relevant to the theme, like HALF or AMOUNT or MEASUREMENT.

There's no meta involved here because the rebus squares -- even though they're to be read differently across and down -- don't lead to any additional, unique answer beyond what they already are.

nkmcalli 4:30 PM  

Hate :(

Anonymous 4:37 PM  

Awful, the hints were dreadful.

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

had no chance. 1 down, 1 across, 2 down. even after seeing the answers i have no idea or have never heard of any of those people/places.

Leapfinger 5:18 PM  

1A reminded me of Letterman's infamous Oscar intro: 'Uma, Oprah; Oprah, Uma'. Except that today, it was "IMRE, Erno? Erno, IMRE?"

Like @imfromjersey, AMohairS et al, I conflated the Georges MAHARIS and ChakiRIS, and further threw in enough of Babe Zaharias to consider a starting Z.

Thought this was the most infuriatingly frustrating puzzle...until I caught on, and then thought it brilliant theme. My having gone to McGILL for two degrees was offset by my thinking it was Friday, ergo not a rebus day, and So annoying to have a disrespectful MCG abbrev! Thought first of Terry-Thomas, and after the Pythonesque Terry GILLIAM came to mind, thought there was some odd step-over arrangement with MC-GILL-IAM. Like @r.alph, it was CUP-ID that showed me the end of HIC-CUP and the key to CUP-CUP-ER=PINT-ER. No trouble with GILL as a measure, since my favourite dictionary to pore over has all conceivable measurement conversions on the inside covers, so gills and drams and long tonnes are somewhere in my awareness. Last to fall was 17A; I thought of LIVING QUARTERS when LIVINGareaS didn't work, but thought of the money instead of the liquid, and couldn't do a thing with PIECES OF EIGHT. Finally, clarity and the finish with letting RI.PIN.TO become RI.PINT.WO. As they say, sometimes you just have to WOK the TOK.

multiple possibilities with Mom & Pop, SIS & Bro
Some self-inflicted pain, with reversing the clues 60D and 63A; looking for the Scottish Parliament in ulSTER. Discovered anew the importance of Reading for Comprehension, and got to enjoy the Bar-Bed connection.

Decided that this construction was the product of a decidedly convoluted mind, and since the first and last words in the fill are IMRE and [Buda]PEST, I must, in all Kerteszy, suspect Jacob Stulberg of being Hungarian.
Wrote the above after reading only some of the comments; probably most of it is now redundant/ unnecessary, but I'm vastly surprised that so many a) turned off, and/or b) DNF'd. @Casco, yes, I finished w/o help, but I guess it was a major advantage to have gone to McGill, to be born Hungarian, and to read old cookbooks that measured in grams and gills.

Will now read the rest of the comments; I think I saw some of you guys were down a couple of quarts.

Love you all, a bushel and a peck.

Anonymous 5:21 PM  

Knowing that 33-A had to be HAROLDPINTER and 41-A had to be RECUPERATED, ťhe light dawned on me when I realized that 23-D was HICCUP. I even knew what a GILL was, and that helped me puzzle out 32-D as MCGILL. But instead of GILLIAM I read 42-D as CUPIAM for some dumb reason and thought I had not finished correctly.

mac 5:38 PM  

I got the theme at Pinter, but I couldn't finish the gill area. Tough puzzle.

Ω 5:41 PM  

POGO seems fine as clued. It's been a long time since POGO sticks were a part of my world, but POGO as a verb meaning the same as "hop" was common enough. Is it a dated usage?

@Laurence Katz - I'm pretty sure Rex's secret identity has a doctorate in medieval lit or some such. I thought it was still his specialty and crime fiction was more of a fun addition to his course load, so I'm not sure how "former" applies either - but definitely not a "wannabe."

Sir Hillary 5:56 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sir Hillary 5:58 PM  

Anyone else looking forward to this weekend's National [INCH][INCH][INCH][INCH][INCH][INCH][INCH][INCH][INCH][INCH][INCH][INCH]BALL League playoff games? Hard to believe Baltimore TRAVEL[POUND][POUND][POUND][POUND][POUND][POUND][POUND][POUND][POUND][POUND][POUND][POUND][POUND][POUND]W England yet again. It will also be fun to watch Marshawn LYNC[INCH][INCH][INCH][INCH] Russell Wilson battle the Panthers.


ANON B 6:09 PM  

And on the other side of the
fence, a ridiculously simple
CAPTCHA. Just check the box
that says "I'm not a robot".
At first couldn't figure out
that it couldn't be so simple.

nkmcalli 6:16 PM  

@Sir Hillary - your comment is the best thing to come out of today's puzzle. Thanks for the laugh.

Anonymous 6:34 PM  

This is the first time, ever, that even when looking at the completed grid I had no idea what was going on. I thought I had it with the cups and pints, etc., but then looked at the "gill" squares and thought, no, I must be wrong. How can all of us have reached our ages, advanced age in my case, and never, not once, heard of "gill" as a unit of measure? That is the real problem with this puzzle, as many have pointed out. Good idea, worst execution ever.

RooMonster 6:45 PM  

So, 14 POUNDS is a STONE? Just learned something else useful for puzzles! Thanks, @Sir Hillary!


Carola 6:54 PM  

@Sir Hillary - Outstanding! And,to answer your question, yes! I can't wait to see the Packers OUNCE x 16 the Cowboys at Lambeau.

abstractblueman 6:56 PM  

Thanks @mathguy! Galois theory wasn't my cup of tea either.

@Z What you say is absolutely correct. Knowing a bunch of useless math is certainly no help with a crossword puzzle. In fact, it's often a hindrance like it was today. Just recently one of the puzzles had "____ algebra" as a clue, with answer LINEAR. LINEAR was one answer that popped into my head, along with BANACH, VECTOR, MODERN, UNITAL, MATRIX, JORDAN,...
At any rate, I always appreciate a reference to math in the puzzles!

Lewis 7:01 PM  

@aliasz -- Bravo! I knew if anyone could do it, it would be you.

Elephant's Child 7:07 PM  

conjuGAL LONging!?!!?


Leapfinger 7:26 PM  

@WhWhacks, perhaps having BRA under CUP-CUP would be interesting to ATHletic supporters. Let @Zeke know, will you?

It's likely to have Carrot/KARAT puns in a BBunny 'toon, just because Rabbit; no way is it mandatory that Bugs himself makes it. Fun one, @Z!!

As per @joho, CYCLOPS appearing in yesterday's comments was a leg up.

@mathguy, you surprised me yesterday; from your comments, I had you placed at easily 20-30 years younger. Speaks well of you, as did FredRoma. (I thought ACR was funny, in a self-referential way.)

@Sir Hillary, you had me at STONE. Go, Panthers!!

Teedmn 7:47 PM  

I think this is the first time that, while reading @Rex's write up, I found myself saying "Yeah, what he said!" for every comment.

I also agreed completely with @Nancy.

I was so close to figuring this out but didn't see, on my own, that there two half measures for every whole (well, duh, you all say!)

MAHARIS a total WOE. TENT SHOW seemed very green paintish to me but I see it is real, so something learned. BLANC brain on 63A, wanted poSTER.

One thing I will differ on with some commenters is ONEK; they often hold them here along with a bigger race, as a "fun run" so people can run with their little ones.

And I'm so embarrassed to not have heard of McGill (sorry @Leapfinger) so one more educational gap filled today.

@Z, I could use a couple of CUPCUPs of that Undertaker Belgian Style Dark ale after the drubbing I took with this puz. But you gotta love the challenge!

(@Tita, thanks for sharing your name yesterday. I imagine it is pronounced in the lovely way my European and Scandinavian friends say mine.

I. Kertész 7:58 PM  

Apparently, many of you think IM REcondite.

btw, @mathguy, @abstractblueman, isn't Galois a French cigarette?

@Lewis, Atticus Finch: role played by Gregory EightQUARTS.

demit 7:59 PM  

Look, face it, you're just too young for some clues. I was able to put Maharis in without hesitation. Ditto with Ulee, which was all the rage as a crossword answer some years ago.

As someone posted recently, we all have different stores of knowledge. If a thing is obscure to you doesn't mean it's unfairly obscure.

Now "gill," I agree with you entirely.

Tita 8:27 PM  

@AliasZ...thanks for the insight on PEST and IMRE. Makes me feel better for not knowing the writer, and knowing I would never be able to infer it, since Hungarian is unlike any other language out there. And please don't tell me it "tastes just like Finnish". That won't help me very much... ;)
(And I envy your mastery of that language...)

@Z - lol

@et alii - I'm in good company with the mega-tough experience and dnf.
I can't remember the last Thursday that completely beat me up! Thank the CYCLOPS - as I feel I can still retain my superiority.

I finally got PINT at TA[PINT]O, then [GILL]IAM because of Terry, but the combination of not realizing there were TWO rebi per themer, and never having heard of GILL as a measure, and never having heard of the writer or the playwright (feelings of superiority rapidly diminishing...), meant I barely got half the squares filled in. Started to reveal individual letters - finally gave up.

Got here, and now I really admire the idea, but wow - no sour grapes, but...
I have to agree that there was some awful obtuse/inelegant stuff.

And me, who loves rebus puzzes so!!!

@SirH - Bravo!

@Teedmn - yes - its Portuguese...

Anyhow, Mr. Stulberg...really awesome concept. Congrats to those who finished!

Aketi 8:57 PM  

I knew of McGill from having visited friend in Montreal, but still didnt know what a gill was without googling.

I knew that a stone was some large number of pounds, but thanks to Sir Hilllary I now know it's 14, just as I know that horses are measured in hands, but not that it was 4 inches. Women's medium gloves, however, are 3 inches across knuckle to knuckle having just lost my favorite touch screen usable light ski glove after checking the size chart. So I'd have to multiply my measurements by 0.75 to get an officially correct measurement on a horse.

I am pretty fast, however with converting ounces and ounces to grams and back again since I weigh babies all the time for work. Amazing how many health care practitioners make mistakes due to the crazy base 16 system. I know for a fact that there a many misdiagnosis because the U.S. won't go metric,

Abstractblueman, I finally hit my limit when my dissertation advisor wanted me to take matrix algebra thinking somehow it was essential to understanding epidemiology. I did pretty well in math up to that point, but then all those symbols that I thought I knew just danced before my eyes as gibberish and I finally developed the fear of math that is often attributed to my gender.

abstractblueman 9:38 PM  

@I.Kertesz Galois is a 19th century mathematician who did some very elegant algebra. Equally as interesting is the fact that he died at the age of 20 from wounds he got in a duel! It may very well be a cigarette, but I've never heard that.

@Aketi At least you gave it a shot! I imagine that the number of people in the world that share your view of matrix algebra has swelled to epidemic proportions. :)

I. Kertész 11:14 PM  

@abstractblue, I may have been pulling your leg a little: the French cigarettes are Gauloises. But thank you for the additional information on Galois, quite the impassioned firebrand, apparently. His early death was intriguing enough that I looked him up, wondering whether perhaps Alexandre Dumas pere, notorious for duels, was involved. As it happens, Dumas was not Galois' opponent, but interestingly he did write an account of the duel, though it seems he implicated the wrong principal.

btw, I recommend against Gauloises; they're pretty harsh. If you must experiment, I suggest Sobranies.

Unknown 12:06 AM  

Strangely enough, the last Fireball Crossword of 2014 [5-45] had a similar gimmick. Two rebus BITs down added to become a QUARTER across. Odd coincidence...

Doc John 1:34 AM  

Never heard of GILL as a unit so I had to google "Montreal University" and then finished from there. I thought of Terry GILLIAM as a funny Terry but just couldn't see how that would fit, again being ignorant of GILL as a unit.
"The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat"- a great read of very interesting neurological oddities by Dr. Oliver Sacks, who also inspired the movie "Awakenings" (and was played by Robin Williams).

Jeff510 9:43 AM  

Loved this puzzle!!!

Melodious Funk 2:33 PM  

@Steve J . When a clue says Famous Manhattan deli, I would take that to mean a deli, not a purveyor of deli-like foodstuffs of which there are many.

There are three "famous" delis in Manhattan. Zabars isn't one; it may walk like a duck and talk like a duck, but it don't got no feathers and won't quack.

Meet me in the alley...

Nebraska Doug 10:14 PM  

Impossible. This one destroyed me.

pfb 8:22 AM  

I was sure this would be a DNF but somehow finished (although it took a few fits and starts). I've never heard of a GILL as a half cup. I knew MAHARIS but took a while to dredge it out of my memory.

Overall, I enjoyed the challenge despite some weak cluing.

Unknown 6:10 AM  

DNF for me but I kind of lost interest after a while. I was still proud of myself when I got the theme but GILL was just never gonna happen. Half a cup is 4 ounces to me and 2 GILLS make a fish. Anyway I haven't read all of the comments but re the Bugs Bunny KARAT clue, I don't know about 'many' or whether 'pun" is the right word but I do remember carrots being equated with karats on occasion. This episode is dedicated to the concept:
Still a pretty awkward clue though.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

We liked this truly puzzling puzzle, though we had to leave it overnight to see newly in the morning. We don't usually look anything up, but were intrigued by measures and our limited knowledge, so we looked in our 1942 "Joy of Cooking" and found "gill", and then all became clear.

spacecraft 10:19 AM  

Oh, I was ready to tear OFL a new one if he rated this ANYTHING but challenging. I knew there was a gigantic problem right away: two total unknowables at 1a and 1d! I mean, come on, not one person in a billion knows those. The purest natick I've ever seen. I almost stopped right there.

My eyes were drawn to the unusually long clue, which was, as in most cases, the revealer. Working that area, I was perplexed that the whole S/SE quadrant made sense WITHOUT any of the rebus squares! Here again, I was so troubled I almost quit.

I did try my hardest to make sense of the "measure" squares, but never glommed onto the trick of doubling up the verticals, then converting for the across. Big DNF. The whole SW is still BLANC; that modern singer (for me, music died in the '80s, except for Sheryl Crow) not helping. The Bugs Bunny clue still doesn't make any sense to me. That's not a pun, it's a homophone. Bah. This thing draws flags all over the place. F.

rondo 11:53 AM  

Troubles and more. Five letter actress Kelly – you mean it’s not Grace?? That took some redoing in the NW. Got the whole south done and worked up, leaving rebus squares unfilled. Filled in the east and realized there was the cup cup thing and vaguely remembered that Pinter guy. Couldn’t figure out why there were 2 cups in REgillgillERATED, and then the Monty Python association hit. Made LIVINGpinpintERS easier to manage, after fixing the whole Grace Kelly thing. What a struggle.

In my wheelhouse with the krone part which is actually ÖRE. It’s my Swedish thing, you know.

And the yeah baby is actually KE$HA. Got it from only yeah baby AMY Adams’ A. Love those special characters.

MCGILL would have been easier for me if clued “ LPGA golfer Jill” (also yeah baby).

Would not have gotten TAHINIS except for its recent occurrence. Most helpful. And reach far back into the memory banks gave me the crossing MAHARIS.

Started with snORE for CHORE, more slowness.

CYCLOPS easier than yesterday’s mythological nonsense.

Bugs could be making puns with either cARATS or KARATS, but I already had the singer.

This was a real bear and I almost threw in the towel. Kinda frustrating and not exactly enjoyable.

Burma Shave 12:14 PM  

A PEST of a puzzle,
It made me quite ILL,
especially the answer
containing GILL GILL.

The rest was a CHORE
with unpleasant fill.
Not much to ADORE,
what's up with that Will?

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Got crushed by this one. Too many clues I didn't know, and in my world, googling is cheating. Never did get the handle on the half measure gimmick. Slunk off early with my tail between my legs.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Actually a gill is one quarter of a pint, which is the same as a half cup, from those olden days when people used measures like peck and bushel. I knew that, but looking up the definition to be certain, I learned that the word is pronounced with a soft g, like giant or jam. That was new to me since I've never heard it spoken.

rain forest 2:57 PM  

So tough. RAVEN was my only entry in the NW for the longest time, and I sensed a rebus was afoot, but couldn't see where it might appear until the winged god ending in -ID. Had to be CUPID, meaning CUP was the rebus. Yahoo, thought I. Not so fast premature ejaculation breath (per M&A)... Got the entire East, and then thought PEST might be PES(ter) as another rebus. You can imagine that much confusion and frustration ensued.

Anyhoo, eventually, HICCUP, HAROLD CUPCUPER, knew MAHARIS, intuited MCGILL and GILLIAM, but that meant nothing to me.

My interest waned around then. Shoulda know KESHA, the singer at the World Cup last year, but I decided to cash my chips. Monumental DNF. Having looked at the completed grid,I appreciate the idea and the cleverness, but just too many unknowns for me. Had I known that 2 Gills make a cup, who knows what might have happened?

Dave Kennison 3:15 PM  

I finished this puzzle all right, but it reminded me of a quote (from somebody, I don't know who): "Writing is easy. You just sit down at a typewriter and stare at it until little drops of blood appear on your forehead!"

Anonymous 4:47 PM  

I gave up on this one and I'm glad after reading the comments.
This one was ridiculously hard and not worth the time......unless your career is "code breaker" for the CIA.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA

DMG 5:21 PM  

Played with this one until I just didn't care. Got the HALFMEASURE but didn't make any sense out of it. Combine that with a plethora of proper names and my choice is google or quit, and I really have better things to do than play the Google game, but I'll bet this constructor did! Didn't catch it in the puzzle, but when I was a wee one we used to buy whipping cream by the gill right here in the US at Safeway. Can't use it anymore, so don't know how it's sold now. But the non-dairy substitute I use comes by the quart- must be a comment on our changing diet!

@Ron Diego welcome back!

leftcoastTAM 7:45 PM  

Probably the most vexing NYT puzzle I've ever tried to do, including all the DNF Saturdays.

Anonymous 7:50 PM  

Thanks, DMG. Good to be back among the Syndies.

Ron Diego

Anonymous 10:24 PM  

This one made me green in the gills!
Gee, Jacob, it took a lot of gill to publish this one!

LadyDi 10:48 AM  

Wow! What a puzzle. As a longtime lurker to the blog I am astonished that so many of the regulars were stymied while I was able to complete it sans google or any other form of cheating.

Perhaps being an aged Canadian helped with the gill measure which I was able to dredge up from the depths of my memory. No idea what amount a gill actually specified but knew for absolute sure that it was McGill University on the cross.

Joe in Montreal 2:31 PM  

Syndication land chiming in a day late. Whenever the clue smells of Magyar (unusual accents) and it is 4 letters, I start with IMRE for a first name and NAGY for a last name. Haven't been wrong so far.

Michael Leddy 10:06 PM  

I was too young the first time around, but my wife and I watched all four seasons of Route 66 on DVD in 2013. It’s a great, great show, with an amazing array of guest stars. In our happiness, we wrote to George Maharis and Martin Milner. And George Maharis wrote back.

Suffice to say I was thrilled to see MAHARIS in this puzzle.

Unknown 4:46 PM  

I hated this puzzle. No fun at all.

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