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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Constructor: Mike Buckley

Relative difficulty: Easiest Thursday I've Ever Done (give or take)

THEME: three songs Down, three songs Across — all 15-letters long … yes, that is the theme … yes, it is … I swear.

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: ARNEL (11D: Trademarked fabric name) —
  1. a synthetic fiber made from cellulose triacetate.
    • fabric made from Arnel. (google)
• • •

Beat my Tuesday (!) and Wednesday times on this one. Seconds away from breaking the four-minute mark. The fill is Monday-easy (possibly easier, since this grid doesn't have Monday's ridiculously unMonday JON SEDA). Anyway, anyone who thinks this is some kind of amazing feat—finding six 15-letter songs that can intersect like this—clearly has zero experience with the multiple databases and websites and other resources out there. I'm sure it took a little while to get six songs that worked, but a. why? They have nothing in common besides being songs; and b. filling in the grid from there is a cakewalk. There's nothing ambitious or interesting here. It's all paint by numbers stuff. The puzzle isn't bad; it's pointless. On a Thursday?—the marquee, pull-out-the-stops, kick-out-the-jams bad-ass theme day?—very disappointing.

Honestly, I have nothing to write about. I know a lot of song titles, so getting the 15s was no trouble. Barely needed crosses. The one exception was the [1953 hit for Julius La Rosa], which is an LOL outlier, esp. for anyone under 60. I can sing at least the chorus, and in most cases much more, of the other five songs. Julius La Rosa is from the pre-Rock era, so I have literally never heard a thing he's ever sung. But classic rock and oldies stations were playing Jackie Wilson and the Shangri-Las regularly when I was in high school (and trying to reject '80s pop music), so that stuff is super familiar to me even though it was popular before I was born. Other than Mr. La Rosa, not much trouble. Mistook the play on words in 3D: French capitalists? (PARISIANS)—thought "capital" would refer to currency (a la [Mexican capital?] = PESO), but it's the capital city that was at issue. Let's see, what else? Nothing. See you tomorrow.

    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:05 AM  

    Very easy for me too, maybe easier than Tues.  All the songs were familiar as were the names so this was a no pause solve.   My only issue was whether STIEG was IE or EI.  

    I kept looking for something to tie these together like one per decade or James Bond related (Skyfall?) or....? I came up with zilch and then went to Xwordinfo   and found out zilch was the right unifier. 

    OK, so an easy puzzle with six interlocking 15s and some iffy fill...I actually liked it.  Fun solve Mike, just way too easy.

    However, I suspect there will be some solvers who not be particularly pleased with this one.

    Steve J 12:06 AM  

    I liked this quite a bit. Probably in part because, once I realized we just had song titles, I viewed this as a themeless (and there's absolutely nothing wrong with a themeless Thursday).

    I liked it because, aside from a few scattered spots, the fill was clean and didn't have a lot of well-worn stuff. I especially liked it because of cluing. "French capitalists" was a good one. "Giant Jesus" was absolutely fantastic and definitely justified the well-worn ALOU at 33A.

    One thing I'm not getting: 24D. How are three and trois EGAL? Is the clue just saying the two words mean the same thing? If that's the case, this is the one glaring weak spot in the puzzle.

    (And, yes, this was easy, but not Monday easy.)

    Whirred Whacks 12:09 AM  

    I had fun with this puzzle. It had answers from many different decades and cultural areas. Thanks Mike Buckley! Played to the easy side for a Thursday, but still enjoyable!

    For those of you who are interested, one of my products, the "Ball of Whacks" is featured in a New York Times article and slide show about "Executive Toys" on Thursday (2/5/15). I'm mentioned (Roger von Oech) about halfway through! Much fun!

    Here's the link:
    Designing Distraction: Executive Toys

    MDMA 12:13 AM  

    @Steve J,

    égal is the French word for "equal", and trois is the French word for "three".

    Steve J 12:18 AM  

    @Whirred Whacks: Now your nom de blog makes sense. Congrats on the shoutout. And I'll try not to hold it against you that your invention sitting on colleagues' desks has served to piss me off on numerous occasions I try to figure out how to get back to where I started.

    @MDMA: That's what I figured: It's just saying they're cognates. That one falls flat for me.

    Norm C. 12:19 AM  

    I wonder if "Anywhere I Wander" would have been easier to get if it were clued as "Sung by Danny Kaye in the film Hans Christian Andersen."
    The movie introduced the song in 1951. Julius LaRosa recorded it two years later.

    The movie's still available on DVD, so younger generations may have seen it.

    Wood 12:46 AM  

    Fast for me, in spite of not knowing a single one of the song titles. But got hosed and DNF because I guessed LONELYHEART.... instead of LONELYTEARD.... and never heard of Jesus ALOU (I'm guessing baseball), so was seriously messed up on 35, 36, 38 and 39 down. The rest of the puzzle practically solved itself though.

    wreck 12:48 AM  

    My only real slow-down was trying to figure out what I was obviously missing in a theme! Turns out - nothing.

    Moly Shu 12:58 AM  

    Yep, super easy, and no Thursday payoff. Finished on the SHERRI/EGAL cross. Thanks @MDMA for the explanation. No writeovers or missteps. Wish there was a LONELYTEARDROPS link, guess I'll get my fix elsewhere. Thx for the MC5 clip though, @Rex.

    Unknown 1:33 AM  

    Medium challenging. 55 min. 5 errors. Song titles, sure, but did I know *any* of them? Not as clued. Song titles go through me. The tunes stick, but the titles? No way. So all 6 15s were essentially unclued. That is NOT an easy puzzle.

    From LONELY _EAR____ I sussed LONELYhEARtrags. As that didn't work with a few of the crosses, I had to rework it to LONELYhEARtROPS, which didn't make much sense, but song titles don't really have to make much sense. That gave me that hON was a great tEAL. Something was wrong, but LONELYhEARt was way too credible to be doubted.

    GERAlD/SHERlI were the other errors. I know GERARD Depardieu. Doh. My bad.

    So this was a tough exercise in six unclued 15s with 90 affected squares, 81 of which were uncrossed and 9 of which totally out there, unclued in both directions. I sussed long and hard and am pretty proud of my result.

    chefwen 1:57 AM  

    @jae - love the new doggie pic, very cute.

    Onto the puzzle, where is my Thursday rebus, DANG!
    Where is my trickery? I guess I'll just have to be happy with Tuesday and let it go.

    Knew 17A and 57A. 37A had to fill itself in. Google free week so far, let's hope I can finish the week thusly.

    John Child 1:58 AM  

    I can hum two of the six songs and have probably heard a third. Three WOEs, so this came in as a quick Thursday time for me. With a little bit broader knowledge base this would have been too easy.

    High marks technically, not enough theme for a trick-free Thursday, IMO.

    My times on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were almost the same. Weird week...

    Anonymous 2:33 AM  

    john@1:58: indeed on the puzzles this week: we've had a Monday, a Wednesday, a Wednesday, and now another Wednesday.

    I thought this was a pretty solid puzzle - easy for a Thursday, but not Monday-level, in part because of some good cluing and in part because of a couple of outliers: ICEE/SKYYY/ELREY is a little tricky for me, as is ERIQ. I probably had the most problem when I initially wrote down AISLES instead of ANKLES (hey, it made some sense, especially with planes cramming in more and more seats).

    George Barany 4:25 AM  

    I congratulate @Mike Buckley on the technical feat of finding six song titles of length 15 and getting them to interlock in a reasonably clean 72-word grid, and thank @Rex and the earlier commentators for their instructive insights and interesting links--to which I have little original to add on my own.

    That said, I would still like to call everyone's attention to @Hayley Gold's latest acrossanddown.net webcomic, which asks the same question we've all been wondering, viz what's the theme?, and to @Will Shortz's note over at xwordinfo.com, which provides the answer! Since the latter link may be protected by a paywall, allow me to paraphrase and condense: There is no theme and there is none of the Thursday-type trickery that so many solvers expect. In the opinion of the only person whose opinion really counts, this puzzle was run on a Thursday primarily because he found it harder than a Wednesday and not as hard as a Friday [the full remarks are well worth reading].

    On a different note, I appreciate this blog for allowing me to e-meet @Whirred Whacks over recent months; have a look at his 12:09 AM post today and the link it contains to today's New York Times. What a thrill that must be!

    GILL I. 5:32 AM  

    Wow...What a -----y puzzle! Feel free to fill in the blanks!
    I didn't know any of the songs. Well, I heard LEADER OF THE PACK when I was very young and vulnerable. I really, really could not figure out why she was really going out with him....
    @Milford....If you're still peeking in...Happy birthday amiga. We're having TAPAS tonight!

    Anonymous 6:00 AM  

    Co-Op BOARD?

    I understand that this is the NEW YORK Times crossword and references to New York are common but do Co-Op Boards exist anywhere else?

    Hartley70 6:33 AM  

    I've been robbed!!! (Sorry @SteveJ but it is indeed wrong, wrong, wrong)

    I'll admit it was a sweet little quick solve, like a giant mini. It's perfect for the start of the week. I knew all the songs. Hello Mr. LaRosa! I haven't thought of you since TV's switched to color. But as a Thursday, it fell flat for this rebus lover. Come to think of it, Tuesday's challenge should have been switched with this. Nice job Mr. Buckley, but Mr. Shortz has done this puzzle wrong. It's put me back to sleep....

    Hartley70 6:51 AM  

    @Numinous, I hope the recovery is progressing well for you and your wife.

    @WhirredWhacks, very, very cool!

    jberg 7:20 AM  

    Like probably anyone over 70, I knew Julius LaRosa and could sing ANYWHERE I WANDER if i could sing anything at all. But like several, I guessed LONELY HEART and couldn't let it go, so DNF.

    Even aside from the songs, there seemed to be a lot of prper names.

    OldCarFudd 7:20 AM  

    As an old fudd who's never been much into popular music, I only knew the oldest song. But everything was inferable with a bit of imagination, so I got it all without Googling.

    In looking at the comments on xwordinfo, I ran across the project of putting all the pre-Shorts NYT puzzles into a data base. It seems to be called litzing, and the people doing it are litzers. Can anyone explain this word to me? What's its origin?

    bwalker 7:37 AM  

    @OldCarFudd, maybe they're blitzers, since blitz is what I did to todays puzzle. Donder and Blitzen (of reindeer fame) is German for thunder and lightning.

    So easy I thought I must be doing something wrong.

    Elle54 7:43 AM  

    We've got co op boards here in Chicago suburbs, also condo boards

    Unknown 7:45 AM  


    bwalker 7:53 AM  

    @chefwen -- Thursday puzzles often have me pulling out what few hairs on my head are left after raising teenage daughters. I never get the rebus, just frustration.

    @ Whirred Whacks -- very cool write-up. Congratulations on the new and improved Ball of Whacks.

    evil doug 8:01 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    evil doug 8:04 AM  

    Shortz: "Somehow over time, Thursday has gotten the reputation of being the "trickster" day for the Times crossword. This is when you're most likely to encounter a rebus, answers that read in unorthodox directions, letters getting entered onto black squares or outside the grid, etc. In truth, though, at least to me, Thursday is just supposed to be harder than Wednesday and easier than Friday. That is all."

    Well, of course, that's simply bullshit. "Somehow"? It's because more than 90% of the time that's precisely what you serve up, Will. We've become conditioned, and happily so, with a clever, out of the ordinary, confection. 

    So don't pass the buck to us. We are who you know we are, because you crafted our Thursday expectations this way. And stop giving us random crap puzzles--fine on Wednesday--when we demand something more. 


    Rhino 8:13 AM  

    Huh. I liked it fine but I came here expecting to wipe spittle off my screen from all the hate.

    I'm a little disappointed.

    Dorothy Biggs 8:16 AM  

    This one took longer than average for me. I had --NE-YTEARDROPS for a very long time. I wanted a number there and only niNEty fit...which is an odd number of tear drops so I knew that wasn't right. I sat for a while and then got EGAL...one letter closer --NELYTEARDROPS. But then I was obsessed with a pizzeria named SAmS. And I didn't watch Star Trek or whatever show TROI is on. I also wanted faSI. So my biggest enemy in that San Luis Obispo area of the grid was my own belligerence in refusing to give up my initial impulses.

    I eventually sussed out the LONELY part and finished the damned thing.

    Not a bad puzzle, but I was disappointed that there was no theme to speak of.

    RAD2626 8:17 AM  

    Enjoyed solving it, regardless of day. Probably my fastest Thursday as well but a significant multiple of Rex' time.
    Thought clues for French capitalists, Giant Jesus (I wanted Christ of the Andes to fit) and Zero person were extremely clever.

    Zwhatever 8:20 AM  

    Nowhere near record time for me, at least partially because the only song here I find the least bit interesting is ANYWHERE I WANDER. Toss in the excessive load of pop ephemera (I counted 28 pop culture clue/answers) and this played more like a trivia game, much of it of the most trivial sort:

    PAMS Dawber and Grier
    IVANA Trump (unlike Diana Krall, the only reason we've heard of this person is her husband)
    ERIQ (is that Q your parent's fault or your manager's?)
    ALOU (yes, baseball)
    SISI (not actually pop culture, but a proper name)
    DEEDEE Myers
    Milo and OTIS
    Ken KESEY
    GERARD Depardieu
    Martha RAYE
    AA MILNE (okay - more culturally important than the ex Mrs. Trump but still a proper name)
    SALS Pizzeria
    CIA clued by a TV show
    ENOTES (would ARNEL and ENOTES ever worth being in a puzzle if not for the useful letters?)
    ADELE (what a voice - still another proper name)
    SKYY (I wonder if ERIQ's parents are the naming consultants)
    And six random pop songs from VH1's "Top 100 songs you forgot were hits."

    "There's nothing wrong with a themeless Thursday." There's nothing wrong with KALE smoothies, either.

    L 8:26 AM  

    Ditto the comment above on clever cluing! I was completely befuddled by the capitalists. And always happy to see Depeche Mode in a NYT puzzle.

    Leapfinger 8:27 AM  

    SHERRI, oh-oh-oooh SHERRI,
    Won't you come out tonight?

    Themewise, I thought maybe the song titles made a second-order tic tac toe BOARD, but could not find a sufficiency of O's and X's to support that hypothesis. A mild let-down, given Thorsday expectations.

    SPAT before TIFF
    Fun to have TEARDROPS again, though these be LONELY instead of dropping.

    Top marks to
    :[Giant Jesus], which had me first think of Rio
    :those capitalist PARISIANS, not far from their feelthy UKR
    :those ANKLES which weren't quite a yard; I gotta love a good musculo-skeletal joke.

    Some nice fill and good clues with a clever interlaken of 6 song titles; it would have 'alped to run it on a Wednesday.

    Now, maybe U PEND but I'm PEND not; as Bertie Wooster was wont to say, Time to ANKLE off to work.

    All y'all enjoy your respective DAYS.

    Leapfinger 8:34 AM  

    @Z, 'There's nothing wrong with KALE smoothies'.... You're kidding, right?

    Hit it, ED!!

    joho 8:35 AM  

    It would have been cool if all the theme answers were tied together by having a day of the week in the title. One answer could have been THURSDAYSSORROW or JOYLESSTHURSDAY.

    I actually really liked the puzzle and was totally impressed by all the intersecting 15's ... just not on a Thursday. Really great puzzle, Mike Buckley ... not your fault it ran today.

    Oddly my toughest spot was the first "I" in SISI ... I didn't know the Egyptian president and thought SISI would be, "Yes, yes!) (Spanish). I got it, though.

    Loved the clue for PARISIANS and the brilliant "Giant Jesus" has to be a first!

    @Whirred Whacks ... bravo!

    Bob Kerfuffle 8:45 AM  

    Busy day; didn't mind so much an easy puzzle.

    Only 57 A, LEADER OF THE PACK, could I fill in instantly with no crosses!

    But one objection: My one write-over, 1 A, Some finger food, had TACOS before TAPAS. When I have eaten at our favorite Tapas Restaurant in Mallorca, I have always had small portions of various dishes, all of which required a knife and fork. I would say that real Spanish tapas are not finger food!

    Unknown 8:54 AM  

    Correcting previous math by broad light of day: 6 intersecting 15s = 81 unique squares, 72 of which were clued only by crosses and 9 were totally unclued. Of the 72 uncrossed square, I needed help on the two that referenced each other: TON and DEAL. Not bad, but I needed the whole hour to permute and suss the rest of the puzzle.

    Hard. Not a particularly fun solving experience. This puzzle would go very well in a song-name buff magazine.

    I'll issue my regular plea to radio DJs, etc., to announce the names of the songs they play. How are we supposed to learn them? Buy/study the late-night-TV-advertised song collections. There has to be a better way.

    Anonymous 8:57 AM  

    Dislike! If I wanted a puzzle that was all pop culture I could pick up one of those tasteless celeb mags. No puns. No interesting definitions. Yuck!

    Ludyjynn 8:59 AM  

    FWIW, I enjoyed the puzz. a great DEAL. A TON of proper names...so what? The cluing was, as repeatedly noted here, first rate and amusing. Plus, it is refreshing not getting HOSEd on a Thursday by one of WS's wacky rebus numbers.

    CACAOS over EDEN was esp. appropriate, as chocolate is my definition of heaven. I attended the annual Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden Chocolate Festival in Miami a few years ago, where there are exhibits and plant samples of cacao cultivation, not to mention luscious samples of every possible chocolate confection known to man. A must-see event for all chocoloholics!

    My word of the day: ELREY for Elvis.

    Rex, Thanks for the Journey earworm, which I will be singing all DAY.

    Good puzzle? SISI! Thanks, MB and WS.

    Sir Hillary 9:06 AM  

    Lame theme for a Thursday (or any day really). I would rather see this run as-is on Tuesday or on Friday as a real themeless and clued harder.

    And yes, WS's comments are bizarrely disingenuous.

    On the plus side, the interlocking songs are a nice construction, and I loved the clues for IVANA, ALOU, ANKLES, BEER, PARISIANS and OPER. The less said about the clue for EGAL, the better.

    Tita 9:06 AM  

    A handful of great clues. But I need my Thursday tricksy fix.
    @Will - I'm looking out for those doozies - don't let us down again! (And please read @Evil Doug above.)

    @Steve J - agree that the clue for EGAL is bad/lazy. "'Cinq moins deux' et trois'" makes sense. Or "'Five minus two and three, to Pierre'". Or "Yve's even" (I stole that one from Wordplays.com)

    @Whirred - thanks for stepping in and providing the trickiness I want for a Thursday! Congratulations indeed!

    Tangential rant: can anyone tell me how vegetables have become things that can be trendy? I've eaten KALE for forever. It has always been the food of the poor in many countries. So a hipster tastes it one day, maybe because a microscopic amount was served foamed on a huge plate at a 3-month-waiting-list restaurant, and it suddenly becomes a *designer* veggie?
    How do you think all this attention is making poor Collard feel?
    OK - maybe I shouldn't have had that extra cup of coffee...

    Airymom 9:16 AM  

    I got "For Your Eyes Only" and "Lonely Teardrops" first, so I thought there was some "eye" theme going on. But no theme.

    I know folks are a little disappointed with this puzzle. For 2015 I have turned over a new leaf. In addition to giving up chocolate, I am trying to look at the positive. It is very hard to pass a bowl of Hershey Kisses and equally hard to rid myself of my native New Yorker sarcasm.

    I have completed thousands of puzzles, many enjoyable/challenging/even frustrating, many not.

    Regardless, I wouldn't have a clue how to construct a puzzle and therefore admire anyone who can.

    Thanks Mike Buckley for your work.

    Lewis 9:19 AM  

    Not knowing any of the songs, this was tough for me, with so much pop culture in addition. But in this case tough was good because it made me work hard and I got them all through crosses. It seems like this was a cinch for most everyone so far -- but not me. Some very clever clues that made me smile, and because of all the ahas, this was a terrific solving experience!

    When I was in elementary school, I had a thing for Julius LaRosa. Maybe it was his name. I don't know. But I once made a miniature stage of of cardboard, as well as a figure of Julius LaRosa, and performed a "concert" with it for my parents. What was I thinking???

    Bird 9:19 AM  

    After Tuesday's puzzle I was looking forward to today's offering wondering what the trick would be. Disappointed after filling in the grid, trying to discover the theme then coming here to learn that there wasn't one.

    Basically an easy Friday. Bah!

    The puzzle itself was fine though Mr. Buckley

    Nancy 9:19 AM  

    Like you, I want my Thursday rebus. And, in the absence of that, I CERTAINLY don't want this!

    I didn't solve this puzzle. I didn't try to solve this puzzle. I didn't WANT to try to solve this puzzle. I see from the comments above me that many, many people will not agree with me -- that they enjoy trying to remember long, obscure song titles from various eras. I don't. I don't know the obscure songs from my era, nor the era that followed my era, nor the ones after that. This is not, exactly, THE AMERICAN SONGBOOK.
    How about songs worth remembering like "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" or "Send in the Clowns." How about "Blowin' In the Wind" or "Mr. Tambourine Man" or "Like a Rolling Stone." What's in this puzzle is such boring pop trivia -- at least to me.

    As I say, not everyone will agree with me. But I absolutely know that OISK will! Right, OISK?

    Ludyjynn 9:35 AM  

    @Tita, I read recently in the NYT Food section that the KALE trend is waning, just as most food 'fads' do. Remember bacon? Fried egg atop everything? Jicama? Broccolini? What fascinates me is when old stand-bys suddenly become passe and mocked: iceberg lettuce (superseded by arugula, microgreens, etc.), only to come back stronger than ever. Also, witness the parmesan cheese dishes highlighted in yesterday's NYT.

    My bottom line: eat what you like, whether it is deemed popular or not. BTW, no matter how nutritious kale may be, I agree w/ @Z, it is detestable, even hidden in a 'shake'. Collard greens--double yuckh. If you can stomach them you go, girl. Pass me the CACAO, please, which studies show is also healthful!

    Norm 9:50 AM  

    Ugh. Name, name, name, title, title, title. I hate this kind of puzzle.

    John V 9:54 AM  

    Pretty easy and well constructed. I immediately knew most, but not all, of the songs but got everything with the crosses. Had to simply guess at SISI but guessed right. Agree that it sort of worked like a themeless which is fine by me.

    Good puzzle, Mike. Nice to have an unfair age advantage is what I'm saying.

    RnRGhost57 10:15 AM  

    @Whirred Whacks: that's waycool. Congratulations.

    OISK 10:20 AM  

    Hi Nancy. I actually knew three of the songs, but didn't care for this puzzle very much either. Lonely teardrops, people are people, I believe I can fly - never heard of them. But "For Your Eyes Only" was a Bond theme, and I knew that Adele sings that, because it came up on a Times puzzle. Anywhere I wander is a lovely song. Before Julie sang it, it was sung by Danny Kaye in the film "Hans Christian Anderson."

    My big objection was the SE corner, with two product names next to each other (ICEE and SKYY), both of which I know only from puzzles, and the fairly obscure Kesey across. Do Spanish speaking folks actually refer to Elvis as El Rey??

    I finished quickly and correctly, but when half of the theme clues are completely meaningless, it does take some of the joy out of the process...

    Nancy 10:26 AM  

    @Whirred Whacks -- I saw the desk toys article in the Times earlier today -- how could anyone miss it?! -- but skipped over it, because, to tell the truth. I'd never SEEN a desk toy and had no idea what these odd photos were of. But once I saw your post here, I went back and looked more closely. While I still don't get any of them -- I'm a completely left-brained verbal-type person who struggled through the spatial relationship sections of the IQ tests back in the day -- I can see that you're a really, really smart right-brained, inventive-type person and I heartily congratulate you on your success. It's interesting that crossword puzzle-solving turns out to be a passion and a talent that can be shared by both the left of brain and the right of brain!

    Steve J 10:33 AM  

    @Gill: Spiffy? Nifty? Dandy?

    @Evil: I had the same thought when I read Shortz's comment. There's no "somehow"; it's a deliberate direction from Shortz.

    @Casco: It took the crosses to figure out LONELY hEARtrags wasn't going to work?

    @Z: Nothing wrong with kale in a smoothie (although I got tired of the kale-everything fad two years ago; you couldn't walk into a restaurant in San Francisco without practically being assaulted by the stuf). As the primary ingredient? No.

    @OISK: "For Your Eyes Only" was sung by Sheena Easton (as said in the clue). Adele sang the theme from another Bond film, "Skyfall".

    @Nancy: Three of the six songs, I wasn't familiar with, making them "obscure" to me. And yet I was able to get them without much trouble. You may have been able to work them out had you given the puzzle a try.

    old timer 10:36 AM  

    Rex really knows his music, doesn't he? I don't. I got FORYOUREYESONLY only because I know that's a Bond book or movie title. Down at the bottom, I immediately knew LEADEROFTHEPACK. It came out in 1964. I was in college. I had a car. The car had a radio. Nuff said. Same with LONELYTEARDROPS, though I heard it on WBZ, home of the hits.

    And like the Casco Kid, I was misled for a while into thinking it was "Lonely Heart - something at first, maybe "Heartbeats". Correcting it was the last thing I did, and it took a while.

    I thought the fill was of exceptionally high quality. When the closest you get to Crosswordese is EEK, you're in Patrick Berry territory. The fastest four-letter for me: ALOU. I probably saw him play at Candlestick, and have been a Giants fan off and on since the mid-Sixties.

    Gracie H 10:38 AM  

    I join the camp that found this a tough solve and not particularly rewarding. Too many proper/product names, and song titles are never my strong point. Looking forward to puzzles that stretch my vocabulary and exercise my brain. But I did like cluing for ANKLES.

    Anonymous 10:52 AM  

    Congratulations, Roger aka WW!
    Totally agree with George Barany, chefwen, Evil Doug and anyone else who likes a Thursday theme. This should have been a Wednesday, or the songs should have been related somehow- anything but this. UGH!

    Nancy 10:59 AM  

    Hi, OISK,
    Because I dropped this puzzle with a loud thud, I never saw the clue for ANYWHERE I WANDER. That's the one song I DO know. I played it on the piano -- really, really badly, the way I played everything else -- when I was a child, having just seen the movie and having asked my piano teacher (poor, suffering man) for the sheet music. I can't play the piano any more. So now I just sing ANYWHERE I WANDER -- very, very well, I feel. You might-- or might not -- agree. :)

    AliasZ 11:05 AM  

    The theme is so obvious. It is a "Make Your Own" song title writing contest. Each of the existing titles have to turn a corner in any direction, and sometimes more than once, to create wacky new song titles. There are no other rules, just use your creativity. The most imaginative and wackiest titles win.

    The following is what I came up with:

    FOR YOUR EYE SUEDE - In honor of thy leather patch.
    LONELY TEAR DE ALES - Sole rip caused by French beers.
    LEADER OF THE EKESEY - The top person who habitually barely makes a living.
    ANYWHERE I WHEK YT - [You figure this one out]
    I BELIEVE I CANKLES - [This too]
    PEOPLE A' LOUSES - [This three]

    Speaking of wackiness, @Whirred Whacks, that is so neat. It's an entirely different Ball of Whacks®. I know where I can get one, but an autographed copy may be worth some serious money on eBay in 50 years, if you get my hint.

    Here is the overture to the opera "La BELLES Hélène" by Jacques who was Offenbach, but not always.

    Whirred Whacks 11:05 AM  

    @Steve J @George Barany @Hartley 70 @bwalker @joho @tita @RnRGhost and others: thanks for the very kind words about the NYT piece about Executive Toys that included my "Ball of Whacks." So, yes, I'm a puzzle maker of sorts, just not crossword puzzles.

    This will be my one and only day of shameless self-promotion. I thought it would be okay on this site because of the NYT connection.

    I originally created the "Ball of Whacks" for "cubicle geeks" but I've received letters and emails from a wide variety of different types of users: math teachers, recovering stroke victims, therapists of ADD students, grandparents, sales managers etc. It along with the Big Ball of Whacks, X-Ball, Y-Ball, and Star-Ball are available at Amazon.

    You can see a video of some of the many shapes you can make with it here!

    @Nancy I'm probably best known as the author of "A Whack on the Side of the Head" (originally published by Warner Books, and now by Hachette), and also for the "Creative Whack Pack" card deck of 64 creativity strategies.

    More info about me here.

    Enjoy your day!

    pmdm 11:10 AM  

    Nancy and Norm, I'm totally with you. There were so many proper nouns in the puzzle that I didn't bother to solve it. I don't mind searching the web for names of people, songs, cities etc. on a Friday or Saturday, but not today. I would rather shovel snow (which I have bee doing a lot of lately). Sure, it is impressive to fit so many song titles in the grid, but the theme is a bit drab. By far (very far) my most negative response to a puzzle ever. At least many enjoyed the puzzle more than I did.

    beatrice 11:11 AM  

    A couple of gems, a bit lighter than the musical TEARDROPS of the other day, sung by two of the LODESTARS of Lieder singing.

    Fritz Wunderlich, Schubert's "Der Einsame' ('The Hermit', lit. 'the lonely one')

    Hermann Prey, Schubert's "Das Wandern' ('WANDERing')

    Hope you enjoy!

    Noam D. Elkies 11:46 AM  

    I'm with Nancy et al. Even outside the theme there's almost 30 d*mn names in this 72-word freak, for a total of about half of all the entries. Yes I *could* solve it, and did, but there's no joy in it when all the confirmation you get for every other entry is "yes, that looks like a name or title that could be right". And all that with no theme payoff at the end, let alone a Thursday twist.

    Thanks to Beatrice for the Schubert therapy :-)


    Zwhatever 12:03 PM  

    @Steve J - "Nothing wrong with kale in a smoothie (although I got tired of the kale-everything fad two years ago; you couldn't walk into a restaurant in San Francisco without practically being assaulted by the stuf). As the primary ingredient? No." Exactly! The good fill got totally overwhelmed by nutritious but not exactly wonderous trivia -ADELE Easton sang PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE for AA MILNE's Bond Flick "LEADER OF THE PACK" in 1964! Who Cares‽

    @Bob Kerfuffle - TAPAS started life as bar snacks, classic finger food. TAPAS as shared, often gourmet, small plates is a more recent development.


    GILL I. 12:05 PM  

    @Whirred Whacks: How spiffy nifty dandy is that? Shameless self promotion is just fine with me..... Oh,
    what did you finally name your pup?
    @Ludyjynn. When they start promoting okra shakes, I will never, ever, eat anything green again.

    beatrice 12:13 PM  

    Noam Elkies, you're so welcome -- you've made my day!

    RooMonster 12:14 PM  

    Hey All !

    This has been a test of the Roo Broadcast System, as my last post was unceremoniously scrubbed.


    RooMonster 12:15 PM  

    Well, that worked.

    Anonymous 12:17 PM  

    25 proper names. I prefer crossword puzzles to crossname puzzles.

    GILL I. 12:17 PM  

    @Bob Kerfuffle....Wonderful memories of TAPAS or pinchos as we called them. You could always tell a really good bar in Spain by the amount of shrimp carcass on the floor. You always had to save your toothpicks though so that the bar keep could tally up your consumption....
    It just so happens we're having a TAPAS fete tonight in honor of moi!

    Fred Romagnolo 12:25 PM  

    @Airymom: I first got FOR YOUR EYES ONLY and then the EAR of 37A, and figured the theme would be anatomical! @NCAPrez: Just as we Westcoasters bridle at the excessive NYese of the puzzles, we mustn't be equally guilty in our comments; don't think too many non-Californians have any idea about the geography of San Luis Obispo. @Oldtimer: ALOU was of course a giveaway to us. @Ludyjynn: my cousin, who is one, says "chocoholics." @Lewis: I'll bet, when you were a kid, you hated Arthur Godfrey's guts. For everybody else:, I didn't know any of the songs, or pop artists, but acrosses all worked, so It's an o k puzzle by me.

    Jp 12:37 PM  

    I am with Nancy on this puzzle. The six songs were a complete turnoff for me. I quickly gave up.

    MusicMan 12:45 PM  

    All the songs are, or can be, played in the key of F.

    mamasan 12:48 PM  

    We just bought a Helicone. That thing is wicked cool.

    The puzzle not so much.

    nick 12:57 PM  

    Not easy for me, but dreary. Agree with Rex re: the song names, and any puzzle that cites ancient pop culture like Martha Rae is just plain depressing.

    LHS 888 1:01 PM  

    Challenging DNF for me. I was able to drop in FORYOUREYESONLY from the clue, but all other songs needed crosses. I've heard LEADEROFTHEPACK, but I don't know (or remember) any of the other song titles. I'm with @Casco in his frustration with radio DJs these days.

    I really struggled in the center to mid-Atlantic. Great DEAL and TON was a huge WOE, and it royally gummed up the works. Complete white space from ALOU to APERS and E of LONELY-EAR----- with no entry into the space. Like others above I had hEARts in there, but that wasn't working and the unconfirmed h t s came back out. DECiDE had me staring at Co-op BiA--?? When I finally gave up and hit the "Check All", I saw my single error and changed it to DECODE which immediately gave me BOARD, and the rest fell.

    CACAOS in the SW was hard for me to see as I had CAtAlpa in my head and couldn't shake it loose for a long time.


    This was more than enough Thursday for me. Tricksy or not, I'm impressed by all you folks who found this record-setting easy. I guess one person's wheelhouse is another person's quagmire.

    Numinous 1:01 PM  

    @Hartley70, I'm deeply touched you asked. I'm doing well, thank you. Wife has 'wound care' at the hospital tomorrow and we will see.

    @Roger Whacks, I've seen those thingies before. I wouldn't touch one with a ten foot hungarian. Rubik's Cube made me nuts. I think your toy is diabolical and in my house it would always be missing at least one pyramid; the one I threw across the room in frustration? Good guess but no, the one a cat decided to play with. Honestly, I think your mention in the Executive Toys article is terriffic and the ingenuity of your product is amazing too.

    The puzzle, Hmmm? I thought it was ok. I might have missed there being no tricksyness. I simply solved it in a "here and now" way with no expectations. After the first pass through the clues I felt I'd never manage with the titles and the proper nouns but there were just enough 'gimmes' that I got through it in less time than even yesterday's. @Casco, I too was thinking hEARtache but USES scotched that notion. Speaking of Scotched . . . naw, I'll wait until the pre-prandial bar opens at five.

    OFL reckons he's the king of Crossworld. That implies something to me that has been on the edge of my consciousness for a while. When I was young, maybe 12 or so, I was fascinated by my mother doing crosswords. I would try them out and get nearly no answers. I'd look at the ones she'd done and wonder how she knew that stuff. She told me that apart from being older and more experienced generally,there were some things one just knew from doing, guess what, crosswords.
    While many of us, including OFL, expect the solutions to have some real world basis, it occurs to me that crosswords are a world unto themselves. CrosswordESE, green paint, WOEs, I think they are all fair, things we learn from doing crosswords. It surprises me that there are folks here who have been doing crosswords for the past 101 years who don't know things that I know exclusively from doing crosswords. So it seems to me that crosswords are a world unto themselves and don't have to be related to anything other than fun with words. I don't think answers need to have a counterpart in the real world, I think they need to make, hopefully amusing, sense relative to their clues.

    WS may or may not be BSing re Thursday puzzles but I do recall a while back his commenting on xwordinfo.com that he had too many rebus puzzles in his pile and was looking for something else to throw into the mix.

    I have to appreciate the effort that went into today's UNtheme. Seeing the titles unfold was surprise enough for me. That I got them all, another nice surprise.

    AliasZ 1:03 PM  

    I must include the following piece of music inspired by ANYWHERE I WANDER and LONELY TEARDROPS

    It is from the collection of piano works titled "Années de pèlerinage" (years of pilgrimage or WANDERing) by Franz Liszt, Troisième année, No. 5: "Sunt lacrymae rerum" / En mode hongrois (there are tears for things / in the Hungarian mode). The mood of the piece is very evocative, descriptive of falling TEARDROPS and saturated with profound sadness.

    "Lacrimae rerum" is the Latin phrase for "tears of (for) things." It derives from Book I, line 462 of the Aeneid by Virgil. In this passage, Aeneas gazes at a mural found in a Carthaginian temple, which depicts battles of the Trojan War and deaths of his friends and countrymen. He is moved to tears, and says:

    Sunt hic etiam sua praemia laudi;
    sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.
    Solve metus; feret haec aliquam tibi fama salutem.


    Here, too, the praiseworthy has its rewards;
    there are tears for things and mortal things touch the mind.
    Release your fear; this fame will bring you some safety.

    M and A Help Desk 1:34 PM  


    to convert a crossword puzzle into the Across Lite (.puz) format, so it can be solved on a computer (after "Litsoft")

    There is an example of a Litzed crossword file, at runtpuz.org. Pick the FAQs, and look at item #2.


    chefbea 1:52 PM  

    Too many posts to read. Easy puzzle...Did it during a very Booooring meeting

    Masked and Anonymo3Us 2:00 PM  

    Took a loooong time starin at the puz, tryin to figure out the theme gimmick. Advanced numerous weird theories to self which, if they were collectively as dumb as dirt, woulda filled about an acre. But do have a wealth of ideas for new runtpuzs, now.

    In the end the gimmick was the most brilliant, unfathomable, and downright sneakiest of variants: nothin.

    Knew all the Across songs vey well. Was unfamiliar with the three Down songs. So this made for a fun, semi-challengin solve. Finished with an "aw sh*t" moment, when the easily fooled M&A brain circuitry finally processed the {Giant Jesus} clue correctly.

    fave weejects: UKR. KWH. KOI. A strike-out's wortha K's.

    Some funny indirect clues, today. Also admire the entries SQYDS and SKYY. If U stare at em long enough, U almost start to believe they can fly.


    Whirred Whacks 2:23 PM  

    @Numinous 1:01
    Many thanks for your comments. As I see it, the point of the Ball of Whacks isn't to re-assemble it back into its "home shape" of the rhombic triacontahedron shape. That's pretty easy to do. The point, as I see it, is to take the 30 pyramids and make/create other shapes with them. That's where the creativity comes in.

    Quick story: I gave a Ball of Whacks to a venture capital friend who took it home and let his two sons play with it. The 15-year old took it apart, put it together again, and said, "big deal." His 8-year old took it apart, and spent the next hour having fun making a variety of different shapes with it.

    The moral: as many people go through school and get socialized into adulthood, they get taught to look for "the one right answer." This approach is fine for certain problems, but most of life has a variety of right answers. If people stop with the "first right answer" they find, all the good alternatives will go undetected. The Ball of Whacks is simply a fun way to encourage people to look for and design other right answers.

    I think that cleverly-clued crossword puzzles also encourage us to look for the second right answer!

    Anonymorass 2:37 PM  

    Squids can fly??

    Lewis 2:42 PM  

    Factoid: BEER and marijuana are cousins, since beer's hops are in the same flowering plants as pot.

    Quotoid: "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted." -- Mae West

    mac 2:56 PM  

    Congratulations, Roger, and glad you are better, Numinous!

    Got stuck on Lonely Hearts something and gave up. I only know two of the songs, so it was a lot of piecing together. No great fun today.

    dk 3:00 PM  

    🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

    No trick, rebus or whatever else WS claims is not a part of the Thursday fun fest.

    And I knew all the songs :)

    Arthur Wenk 3:17 PM  

    As an over-70's solver I found the puzzle more challenging than the rest of you. But I will add this comment: the singer I most associate with "Anywhere I Wander" is Danny Kay, who sang it in the movie "Hans Christian Andersen."

    Ludyjynn 3:55 PM  

    @FredR., Right you are; I went loco on my spelling of what should be 'chocoholics'; thanks!

    @Whirred, may I add my kudos to your inclusion in the NYT 'toys' article. As I recently expressed to you here, your books and creative whack pack are invaluable tools for brainstorming, thinking outside of the box, and going beyond the first right answer in a classroom, business or real-life setting. The techniques encouraged and enabled my adult students to shed their conformity and think more freely, like children. Keep up the great work!

    Sir Hillary 3:58 PM  

    @Lewis - Did you see that quote on last night's Jeopardy episode? It was there.

    @Whirred Whacks - Please add me to the chorus of congratulations. I get the NYT delivered to my home, and the article was great fun to read, with excellent graphics of yours and the other executive toys. Yours has special appeal to me, dealing as it does with geometry, tetrahedrons, etc. I am an absolute nut for this kind of thing -- can't tell you how many of my kids' toys of this ilk have gotten way more use from dear old dad. Of course, this means I am going to buy yours immediately, because heaven forbid things like commenting about crosswords should be my only diversion from the routine of daily life. Cheers!

    Reedster 4:26 PM  

    This was my first Thursday complete solve. So, I wasn't that surprised when I came here and saw that it was rated easy. So it goes. I'll take it. I enjoyed the puzzle once I got past a few hiccups and I definitely enjoyed getting a Thursday solve under my belt, even if it was an easy one.

    Lewis 4:52 PM  

    @sirhillary -- Yep! Good catch!

    Lewis 4:53 PM  

    and... I believe Alex Trebek actually leered when he said it!

    mathguy 5:40 PM  

    Numinous: I've had the same thought as you. How do I know some crosswordese while others who have been solving as long as I do not. Maybe we have a greater passion for words?

    Fred Romagnolo: As a fellow native San Franciscan and a Giant fan, I am embarrassed to admit "Giant Jesus" had me scratching my head for a long time. Great clue!

    It seems that the difficulty of the puzzle is a function of how many of the six songs you knew. I knew six and I found it tough.

    mathguy 5:41 PM  

    Numinous: I've had the same thought as you. How do I know some crosswordese while others who have been solving as long as I do not. Maybe we have a greater passion for words?

    Fred Romagnolo: As a fellow native San Franciscan and a Giant fan, I am embarrassed to admit "Giant Jesus" had me scratching my head for a long time. Great clue!

    It seems that the difficulty of the puzzle is a function of how many of the six songs you knew. I knew six and I found it tough.

    Zwilling 5:41 PM  


    Close. German thunder is Donner, not Donder.

    Zwilling 5:42 PM  


    Close. German thunder is Donner, not Donder.

    bwalker 6:03 PM  

    My German grandfather always said it was "donder," but Google says you're right. Who would have guessed he knew Afrikaans?

    Dona Flor 6:20 PM  

    @AliasZ, I know That Virgil said it, but I don't agree in general that fame brings any measure of safety. Perhaps in that instance, perhaps in Aeneas's eyes.

    Although there are other comments with interesting points and perspectives, it is pure pleasure to read comments with true erudition, and to listen to musical links of such high quality, apposite to each day's puzzle and offenbached with word-play. Definitely a reason to make this a daily port of call.

    Incidentally, there is such a thing as a CANKLE.

    Anonymous 6:45 PM  

    I know lots and lots ... And lots ... of songs -- probably (modestly) more than most people -- but not pop songs and not these. Ugh. Narrow and unpleasant and I usually love every puzzle, even the ones that get mega-slammed by Rex. This one was written in Martian for me.

    Zwhatever 7:15 PM  

    @Reedster - Congrats. On To Friday!

    Dave 7:24 PM  

    Fwiw, I was unfamiliar with 3d, 10d, and 37a. Once I gave up on "heart" being part of 37a, it all fell into place. Seemed mediumship while I struggled, but once I finished it was easy in hindsight. Such is life!

    Dave 7:25 PM  

    *medium-ish (#%*?! Autocorrect!)

    mathguy 7:40 PM  

    My comment at 5:41 contained a typo. What I meant to say was that because I only knew three of the songs the puzzle was tough.

    Teedmn 7:50 PM  

    Puzzle - iffy; comments - priceless. Between @Z's KALE, @Joho's joyless Thursday and @Steve J's question for @Casco, I was in TEARDROPS. Speaking of LONELY, I must be the only person who regularly spells TYKES "TiKES" (am I mixing it up with British TYrES?) So even though I knew the song, I was held up seeing it by wanting LONELinEss for a while.

    So I'm with @Lewis in finding this puzzle difficult.

    @Whirred Whacks, now that you've made the NY Times, next step is the NY Times Crossword puzzle! Your surname is crosswordese-worthy at least as much as that Rubik's cube guy :-). Congrats for the success and the recognition.

    Thanks, Mr. Buckley, for the Thursday, though I'm with Hayley Gold on still looking for the theme.

    OldCarFudd 8:03 PM  

    @M&A Help Desk - Thank you, I think. I'm not sure I know a whole lot more than I knew before, but I enjoyed that web site.

    Teedmn 9:18 PM  

    OMG, Radio K is playing "LEADER OF THE PACK".

    Mike 10:10 PM  

    Also DNF because of TEARD!

    Unknown 4:44 AM  

    @Anonymous 6:00 AM - I agree with you about Co-Op BOARD. Where I live there is a Co- Op Bank and a Co-Op Supermarket which I assume have boards but still... LONELY DESDEMONA is a song right? No? Oh it couldn't be because PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. So it must be LONELY DESPERADO! Giant Jesus...

    pfb 3:55 PM  

    I expect more of a challenge from a Thursday puzzle. I had to check the day of the week on the ARTS section. I don't know SKYY or ICEE.

    rondo 9:45 AM  

    So, we’ve got tunes from the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. Maybe the theme was that there were no songs from the ‘70s, which is the decade responsible for bringing us disco crap, at least during the second half of it. I was actually glad that there was no rebus; don’t really care much for them, I find the rebus concept generally lame and unfunny, with very few exceptions.

    Got FORYOUREYESONLY immediately, having seen every Bond pic in theaters and consequently owning them all on video. Sheena Easton was the only performer to be shown on-screen doing a Bond theme, probably because she looked really good with no clothes, yeah baby. Today’s trivia bit.

    Bonus Bond theme singer in ADELE – mini-theme?

    Saw Depeche Mode at the MN State Fair in 2013; fantastic, if under-attended show FWIW.

    Anyone else remember “Leader of the Laundromat”? A spoof by the Detergents.

    Unlike OFL, I did not find this puz pointless. I enjoyed it. Many musical memories in the interlocking 15s.

    spacecraft 11:02 AM  

    Easy-breezy, even though I didn't recognize two of the titles. Julius I know from guest shots on the old Arthur Godfrey (and all the little Godfreys) radio show--till they had a falling out. But the song needed a TON (great DEAL) of crosses to suss. As to the Depeche Mode one, what kind of a stupid title is that anyhow? PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. Duh. I find myself in the middle of a Streisand number instead. You know the one.

    IBELIEVEICANFLY through this one; as OFL said, I can't recall doing a Thursday any faster. Today's and Tuesday's should have been UPENDed.

    Pleasant enough, and very little junk fill. B+.

    Burma Shave 11:28 AM  


    is IDLE on SNOW DAYS, we hear,
    and USES SKYY mixed with SODA,
    or ELSE she drinks BEER.


    Unknown 2:56 PM  

    Twenty odd pop culture references? There were a bunch in yesterday's puzzle as well. I've noticed a change in the clues (no Will Shorts?). What's going on here or am I going nuts?

    rain forest 3:53 PM  

    I had a lot of fun with this puzzle, from my first entry PARISIANS with no crosses, through all the songs and people. Some of them I knew right off, but others were revealed by the smooth construction of the puzzle.

    I didn't know a puzzle needed to have a "point", as OFL opined. It's just a puzzle, not the Magna Carta, and this was a good one. I'm not of the "gee whiz, where's my rebus crowd", so I was pretty delighted by this little beauty.

    DMG 6:16 PM  

    What @Z said better than I could. Overload of "pop ephemera" in this one! Managed to,work out most of it by guess and by golly, once I gave up my CArOb tree, but finally failed at Larsson somebody ( or is it somebody Larsson?) crossing whatever a Half-Betazoid is. How have I survived not knowing this? Bring back crossWORD puzzles, not crosstrivia exercises!

    leftcoastTAM 7:27 PM  

    RP usually writes his comments entirely from his personal point of view. Okay. On this one, he virtually threw it in our faces. "Easiest for eons" (my paraphrase). He certainly doesn't waste words of empathy for those outside his wheelhouse. I guess that's OK, too.

    I did not finish this in record Thursday time, but I finished it correctly by inferring some unknowns, particularly the bunched up Naticks in the center West: STEIG/SALS/TROI/SISI.

    Thanks to Mike Buckley for the challenge.

    Anonymous 9:20 PM  

    Wow! I did not know that! Interesting fact! I like the Mae West quote too!
    Loved this puzzle! It was fun! People who complained it was too easy are above my league, I guess.

    Anonymous 9:29 PM  

    Fun puzzle: no googles! I'm feeling good even with people complaining about it being easy! Let me enjoy a Thursday puzzle and delude myself about intelligence! Lol
    I have done an occasional Friday without google, but far be it for me to solve a Saturday. I'll keep plugging away though.

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