Soap star Deborah / THU 2-26-15 / Eponymous Soviet minister of foreign affairs / Tabloid nickname of '80s / Hunter of wallabies kangaroos / Coin first minted in 1964 / Azalea with 2014 #1 hit Fancy / Liberian president Peace Nobelist Johnso Sirleaf /

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Constructor: Caleb Emmons

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Half words — theme answers end with "half ___," represented in the grid by only the first *half* of the missing word; thus:

Theme answers:
  • KENNEDY DOL (for "Kennedy half-dollar") (17A: Coin first minted in 1964)
  • SUPER BOWL TI (for "Super Bowl half-time") (24D: Occasion for a much-hyped performance)
  • GOING OFF COC (for "going off half-cocked") (10D: Acting rashly)
  • FLYING AT MA (for "flying at half-mast") (54A: Signaling remembrance, in a way)
Word of the Day: Deborah ADAIR (48A: Soap star Deborah) —
Deborah Adair (born Deborah Adair Miller on May 23, 1952 in Lynchburg, Virginia) is an American television actress, primarily known for her roles in soap operas. […] In total, Adair has appeared in seven different projects produced by Aaron Spelling; DynastyMatt HoustonThe Love BoatFinder of Lost LovesHotel (in which she played four different roles between 1984–87), Melrose Place and the television movie Rich Men Single Women (1990). She has also appeared in a variety of other primetime series such as Murder, She WroteBlacke's Magic and MacGyver. She also played a supporting role as Kate Chase in the Emmy Award-nominated miniseries Lincoln (1988).
• • •

I was deep into this one before I understood the theme. Got KENNEDY DOL and thought "well, DOL is a cruddy abbr. for "dollar," so this should be interesting," forgetting that there is no such thing as a "Kennedy dollar." Got the whole center of the grid and then finished the tail end of SUPER BOWL TI and that's when the dime dropped. Ah … Half. Half-time. Half-dollar. OK then. I like the concept, though it makes for an ugly grid, with those nonsensical themers. It also just looks like the answers got lopped off.  The visual impact is poor. But the concept is solid. I wish it had been possible for all the themers to come out looking like actual phrases, a la FLYING AT MA! Maybe they could each have had their own wacky clues. FLYING AT MA could be [Like one involved in a family squabble?] GOING OFF COC is one letter shy of being fantastic. [Becoming celibate, perhaps?]. At any rate, relative ugliness of themers aside, the fill is remarkably solid, and the longer non-theme answers interesting and vibrant.

This was a pretty easy puzzle, but I got slowed by a couple of things. First, I couldn't tell which longer answers were and weren't theme answers. Long Acrosses both are and aren't themers. Long Downs both are and aren't themers. Because both 31A: Crazy place? (FUNNY FARM) and 38A: Company with a lot of bean counters? (STARBUCKS) ended with question marks, I thought they were in on the theme wackiness (failing to note that KENNEDY DOL did not have a "?" clue…). Also, answers that could've been clued in very familiar ways were given rather obscure clues. No Red ADAIR today. No [Comedian Degeneres], either (ELLEN). Those were both super-tough for me. I also found the partials a bit rough. Who says "JUDO chop"? And what is an ANNO mundi? A year of the world? What is that? I should know, I guess, but I don't. I also didn't know bees WAGGLED, or that waggling was dancing. But I did know IGGY. I'll cling to that.

    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    PS here's a nice article re: the upcoming charity crossword tournament in Ithaca (where I'll be next Saturday, Mar. 7). Lots of crossword folks were interviewed for this. Check it out.


    DaBA 12:04 AM  

    Austin Powers says "Judo chop!" Thanks, Rex, you my man, dude!

    Steve J 12:13 AM  

    Liked this a lot, even with the lopped-off themers (where I liked the concept more than the appearance). Really good theme idea that had me stumped for a long while (finally got it at KENNEDY HALF DOL as well - with the same realization as Rex that DOL wasn't indeed a crappy abbreviation for dollar, since there is no such thing as a Kennedy dollar). And I liked that the theme didn't just automatically go into any long across or down, keeping me guessing for a bit.

    Good fill outside the theme, such as MOLOTOV, FUNNY FARM, JACKO and HOODWINKS.

    This took me quite a bit longer than my normal Thursday. Partly due to taking a while to grok the theme, partly due to having cUpS at 34D for a long time, preventing me from seeing FUNNY FARM (FUNNY ___C made no sense) and having a really tough time piecing together the SW.

    Very fun Thursday challenge.

    Unknown 12:18 AM  
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    Unknown 12:28 AM  
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    Anonymous 12:30 AM  

    Pensacola? Whodathunk? Jax, or St. A, or maybe somewhere in Va or SC. Clever theme and a little harder than the usual Thursday. Didn't see the theme until i was almost finished and the SE corner was last to fall. charger/adair/ellen made me work hard.

    Unknown 12:31 AM  

    38 min, but DNF 3 ways: 1) I needed googles for Big Daddy Kane and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 2) I ended with whack-a-vowel bad guess with at ["Danced like a bee"]WiGGLED/[___ mundi]iNNO rather than WAGGLED/ANNO, and 3) I went with ["Family Ties" mom]aLYSE and failed to be bothered by [Return to sender?] aCHO. Because I fixed everything before quitting, my submission was scored. But still. DNF.

    I got the trick almost instantly: KENNEDY_ _ _ pieced in as KENNEDYDOL, and that was that. SE was the toughest. I was staring for 15 minutes before I broke down and googled ELLEN and KANE. That made the slow crawl around that corner possible. FLYINGATMA was just invisible until the crosses started filling it in as the "remembrance" in the clue just didn't signify anything for me.

    What is a "waggling" bee, and why isn't it a "wiggling" bee? I decided against WAGGLED because the verb implies the subject shook an object. X WAGGLED Y. If the subject shook itself, it WiGGLED. Ergo, iNNO had to be true, while ANNO was certainly more familiar . . . Well, it seems the WAGGLE dance is a term of art. That is all. Sigh.

    At this hour (11 p.m.) I am #342 of 724 NYT solvers, but I'm not on the solvers list, which ends with #339 in 34 min. As my first submission was marked "almost" I may be denied a spot on the list, but not a score or rank, as I did finally get it right. Has anyone figured this out?

    Lastly, and not leastly, Puzzle Fans, there's a new challenge puzzle from Ellen Ross and George Barany to try. It is chock full of high and low culture. Brand new, new-ish, retro, romantic, classical , and positively ancient references. Perhaps most importantly, you'll learn what the kids are calling it these days. (I concede: it made me blush.) It will lead you on with some low hanging fruit, then turn and kicked your heinie clear into the stratosphere. Come take the challenge. But be sure to read all the instructions very carefully, then keep your eyes open. At the very least, you will marvel at the stellar construction. What a concept! The red carpet awaits.

    jae 12:34 AM  

    Medium for me too. Very clever.  I didn't try to stick in a rebus but I was sorely tempted.   Finally figured it out with COC.   

    The ELLEN/KANE cross was an educated guess as both were WOEs as clued.  N seemed most likely and my granddaughter confirmed it ( the rapper not the Nobel Prize winner). 

    Tricky with some zip, my kinda Thurs.  Liked it.

    Whirred Whacks 12:55 AM  

    Fun puzzle, Caleb Emmons!

    I first encountered the term WAGGLE when (as a kid) I read golfing great Ben Hogan's classic book "Five Lessons." Ben was really into waggling, and taught it to all of his students.

    Here's a fun one minute video showing a golfer WAGGLING.

    (I also knew that bees do it.)

    wreck 1:03 AM  

    Bees do it ...Birds do it .... educated fleas do it ... never-mind!
    It took me a long time to grok the theme as well, but when the light bulb went on - it was satisfying. Good Thursday in my books!

    Anonymous 1:16 AM  

    Clever. If answers are interesting or entertaining, who cares how they look in the grid, especially if "fixing" them risks damaging the concept?


    JTHurst 3:25 AM  

    I thought this was a great puzzle even though I had to google to finish. It is one of the first puzzles in recent memory that did not have any two word answers outside the theme. No "are too's or add in's", etc. Reminds me of the old days when one word puzzle answers were de rigueur.

    I did not understand the surfer locale answer. If 'cali' is supposed to be informally California and were to be used on Huntington Beach or in Santa Cruz, we would look at you like you just got off the bus from New Jersey. Like calling San Fran - Frisco.

    Moly Shu 3:35 AM  

    egret before HIPPO and HighjINKS before HOODWINKS kept the top obscure. That and something ending DDYDgL. Went elsewhere and knew it had to be SUPERBOWLhalfTIme, but couldn't get it to fit. Finally caught on with help from the crosses and finished up smoothly.

    Gimmies, KANE, ABDUL, IGGY, ELYSE, and GHOSTS. Looking back, those seem to be pretty big helpers. Glad I know old rappers, old sitcoms and old Laker girls. Liked the clue for TAILS and the slight misdirection of OLEMISS.

    @Ellen, saw the clue for 13d and thought "no, it can't be, in the name of everything holy, please, no". All to no avail.

    pfb 5:53 AM  

    Got the theme right away but like Rex, I was not sure which of the longer clues were themed. SE corner slowed me down and had "WIGGLED" for "WAGGLED". Sort of a half-assed approach.

    GILL I. 6:01 AM  

    After pulling each answer out in a slow painful (ANNO) modus operandi, I had to decide whether I liked this puzzle or if it belonged in the FUNNY FARM bin....
    I decided I liked it especially after reading @Rex and his FLYING MA...
    I'm not up on my Liberian Presidents so ELLEN and that Straw poll AMES never came to fruition.. CCING took forever but it just had to be GOING OFF COC right?
    Wanted KIWIS instead of DINGO but I guess that would have been unpc. WAGGLED? Bees do that?
    HODDWINKS is just plain fun to say. Wanted Lopez instead of ABDUL...but eventually this all came together in a half cocked way.
    Good one Caleb Emmons...

    Danp 6:19 AM  

    What's left of TV news? Slate? Mother Jones? Reality? But not MSNBC. That is TV News.

    Anonymous 6:41 AM  

    Not "What's to the left of TV news." It's more like, "Of all the various forms of TV news, which one is to the left (of all the others)."

    Loren Muse Smith 7:29 AM  

    I was still asl when I tackled this beaut, and what a jarring start – to picture some kind of elegant avian wader over there in the Nile only to have HIPPO slowly reveal itself. Hah! (Morning, @Moly Shu)

    @Casco -I didn’t know ANNO mundi, so my bee was doing a “wiggle.” I also can’t spell PENSACOLA, so I missed that “What I’d Say” was on the “i SIDE.”

    What a great idea and great execution. Thanks, Caleb!

    mathguy 7:36 AM  

    The most fun I've had with the puzzle for quite a while.

    Bill Butler's blog has a good explanation of WAGGLED.

    I would have liked a few more themers. I tried to think of some but couldn't. It's as hard as executing a perfect VOL. Or escaping a well-applied NEL. I may ask that short English professor down the street, the guy they call PI.

    pfb 7:44 AM  

    Ten Down brings John Bobbitt to mind.

    OldCarFudd 8:00 AM  

    A waggle dance is what a bee does back at the hive to convey the direction of a source of pollen.

    Dorothy Biggs 8:07 AM  

    Looking through these comments on a regular basis, I think we should come to a consensus about what a DNF is. I mean, there are "DNF without help" puzzles, which you actually do finish eventually, and then there are "DNF puzzles even with help" which you don't finish because you either give up or ask the puzzle to actually reveal a letter or word.

    Personally, on challenging puzzles, I consider Google, checking the answers, and the good old fashioned dictionary to be fair game. After all, you are still "solving" the puzzle by doing a little outside "research." I believe I've even read Rex to have checked his sources during a solve...I could be wrong.

    DNF to me is when you are able to fill in the blanks by "research" but are still stumped on completing the puzzle. I also, personally, consider Naticks to be an outlier to this...if I can't fairly solve it, then it doesn't count against me.

    My mother was the one who turned me on to xword puzzles and she taught me that when you get to that point where you don't know, you just do your best and forget the rest. If you don't finish, no one will know and probably more importantly, no one will care. So, you fill it in best you can and move one.

    This puzzle dangled there on the edge of the precipice of a DNF due to not caring. The saving moment came when I saw FLY---ATMA along with KENNEDYDOL (which I had help because originally I had ELiSE until I found out through "research" she spelled her damned name with a Y). Once I figured out the missing "HALF" the rest of the puzzle fell.

    So, my question to you all is: what do YOU consider to be a true DNF?

    jberg 8:16 AM  

    Am I the only one who put inMOOer at 12D? Or just the only one not too embarrassed to admit it? With that right next to EELED, I was ready to slam this puzzle -- but IN USE and WAGGLED somehow set me straight.

    ELLEN Johnson Sirleaf was living in the USA when she was named President of Liberia, which got a lot of publicity at the time -- but it was several years back.

    I couldn't get started with this puzzle until I got to OBOE, which made 10D my first theme answer. Once I had GOING, it couldn't be anything else, so the rest was easy. Except for looking at 50A and thinking "well, an OAf might be strong, but surely not a symbol?" And remembering whether Ms. Witherspoon was REESE or REEcE.

    Anonymous 8:28 AM  

    DNF should be taken literally. It should not matter how. Exception, using the puzzles electronic checks.

    Logan 8:33 AM  

    @jae - what does WOEs mena? Thanks

    Carola 8:39 AM  

    Very nice! I hesitated at KENNEDY, not sure how to handle the DOL(lar?), but soon caught on at [half]TIME. Really liked the other two phrases. Was slowed down by not knowing ELYSE, KANE, ADAIR.

    I liked the COOPS next to the FARM and the slightly distorted ECHO of MUSED, IN USE, ACCUSE and DOL next to IDOL.

    Ω 8:40 AM  

    The DUDE aBIDES. Well, almost.

    I got the half part of the theme after filling in KENNEDY--, but didn't get how it was going to be represented until I got the crosses of SUPER BOWL TI (I worked north to south, not east to west).

    I suspect the PENSACOLA clue was written as a misdirect for our Brit-centric mi d set. I loved that.

    ELLEN/KANE was a brutal crossing until I sussed out ALE, giving me enough to see that aLLEN would fit, which helped to see CHARGER for my cell phone and CCING. Tough corner.

    @NCA Prez - I don't always report my DNFs unless it is germane to some other point I want to make. I've gone from "research is okay" to "any help outside the puzzle is a DNF." However, that's just my own personal take now. I'm not that far removed from the time when that triple WOE in the SE would have nailed me, so if it takes a little research to finish who am I to judge?

    AliasZ 8:41 AM  

    I waded into this puzzle like a HIPPO into the Nile. Too bad it had such a loud ECHO of a GAME of Trivial Pursuit.

    The theme was sort-of half baked, with no rhyme or reason given as to why only the front of the half-words were used and the rear end discarded. Since it would be impossible to use the top half and discard the bottom, the down themers should have used the rear halves: SUPERBOWL ME (asleep on the couch) and GOING OFF KED (kicking the sneaker habit). But I was fine with the acrosses giving us the front parts of Marilyn in KENNEDY DOL and FLYING AT MA.

    The other long entries confused me. I was expecting ARISTO BEE (insect of nobility) but got the rear TLE, and expected the HOOD half-WINKS but got the full WINKS instead. Are the BUCKS of STARBUCKS the front half or rear half? I give up.

    Unfortunately, the effect of many lovely entries today: PENSACOLA, ARISTOTLE, FACE VALUE, FUNNYFARM OLEMISS WAGGLED, etc. was obliterated by a collection of obscure and pop-trivia names, which sucked

    the joy out of my solve. ELLE? crossing KA?E made no sense to me. When it comes to obscurities and rap references, two in a puzzle are one too many. When two cross each other, it is a classic case of Natick city, or Caleb Emmons trying to out-David-Steinberg David Steinberg. Whatever enthusiasm I had for this one, ABDUL, JACKO, IGGY, ADAIR, ELLEN, REESE and KANE quickly dowsed the flames.

    My suggestion to Caleb Emmons: make a quick U-turn and try follow the example of a Patrick Berry rather than a David Steinberg. But that's just me.

    Thank God for this Mozart wind quintet to soothe the savage breast.

    Ω 8:41 AM  

    WOE = What (or Who) On Earth? The kindler gentler WTF.

    Logan 8:45 AM  

    @Z - I appreciate your explanation.

    Sir Hillary 8:55 AM  

    Great theme idea, lively fill, minimal dreck -- what's not to like? Well, maybe the WAGGLED/ANNO cross and the CALI clue, but that's it. I got the theme pretty early, which made for an easy solve. So, while not Thursday-hard, this certainly was Thursday-fun, and I'll take that every time.

    As to what constitutes a DNF...the standard I set for myself is that a DNF is anything other than finishing the puzzle on my own, with zero outside assistance. Ask a friend? Use Google? Guess wrongly (like WiGGLED/iNNO)? All DNFs if I am the solver. I think seeking an agreed-upon definition of a DNF is folly, as each person can define it as they see fit. My standard applies to me -- I don't really care what standards others apply.

    RooMonster 9:03 AM  

    Hey All !
    Interesting concept, I must confess to not grocking the theme. :-( Put me in the SE corner was a bear group. Had GHOSTS, ARISTOTLE, RANT, MUGS, and REESE, then stared at the rest forever. Never knew Bill Murray played FDR! After FDR, got DYED (tough clue), then TAILS (clever clue), TRACT (tough, clever clue), then sussed CCING. After all that, my brain hurt, so I had ADAIn/CHAnGER, and AcES. So, a DNF (a real one, as definition: left wrong letters in :-) ).
    Also had the WiGGLED for the bee. Wiggled, waggled, wuggled, whatever! Unfortunately, knew IGGY Azalea, only because she was playing out here in Las Vegas, and her billboards were everywhere!
    So, cool puz. I think more of us (ok, maybe only me) would have figured out the theme with a title to the puz. Just sayin. Good fill, some tough clues, three letters from a correct finish.


    weaselsnark 9:04 AM  

    STARBUCKS and Oregon DUCKS? RANTs and GOING OFF HALF COCked? It's like my very own "My Favorite Things." Thanks for a fun one, Caleb Emmons!

    Leapfinger 9:05 AM  

    Dang, @Z! For a few madmoments,I thought I could be first withthe DUDE 'BIDES. Time to pout.

    @jberg, I didn't have any MOOer, and personally would have like a more General BullMOOSE clue. Will admit I led with ELLis before ELLEN, probably being led astray by the "Sir"leaf.

    Back after some coffee and snow-work, but not before (i) agreeing with @AliasZ on the SE corner and (ii) noting that the REDS ADAIR combo was OIL well done

    Unknown 9:08 AM  

    I agree with Sir Hillary. If I have to consult an outside source, I have failed. That works for me, but I certainly don't judge others who have different standards. It's just a crossword puzzle after all.

    Easy-Med puzzle for me. I agree that the theme results look ugly.

    Sir Hillary 9:38 AM  

    I doubt any of these are crossworthy, but alternative themers with sports tie-ins abound:
    -- RUNAMARA - Jog 13.1 miles
    -- PUTINANEL - Win a submission, perhaps
    -- HITAVOL - Make contact just after a bounce
    -- CLIMBDO - Scale a Yosemite landmark
    -- SKITHEPI - Shred in the X-Games
    -- MAKEAYA - Convert on third-and-short

    Ludyjynn 9:40 AM  

    Who knew HIPPOs wade in the Nile? I always picture them dancing (WAGGLing?) in "Fantasia".

    No RANT from me today. This puzz. had BITS of everything, pop culture, xwordese, cleverly chewy theme, historical figures, animals, geography; what's not to like?

    I ECHO @Sir Hillary's definition of a DNF. it's GAME over if I rely on any outside source/help. But what is IDEAL for me may not work for you, so play by your own rules and I won't tell!

    Thanks, CE and WS.

    pmdm 9:42 AM  

    I must admit,Jberg, that you were not the only one to enter MOOER as I enter that word also. Feel any better? Can't say I do though it's nice to know I'm not alone in the mistake.

    Don McBrien 9:56 AM  

    Fun puzzle, but got lucky with guesses on ANNO / WAGGLE and maybe another.

    For me, if I have to go to Google, it's a DNF.

    Don McBrien 9:58 AM  

    Should also mention that I had one write-over because who would have ever thought that a lesser know Elvis song would be the A side to a more famous song.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:05 AM  

    Very interesting concept, and a puzzle full of clever clues and relatively obscure answers, almost all of which I knew . . .

    But I Just Didn't Get It. :>(

    Never understood the gimmick, finished with wrong letters in three of the four themers.

    And because I have failed, I'm a bit grumpy, and feel free to complain about two critical answers: CALI (OK, now I get it, but, really?) and KANE (the infamous "Rapper names can be anything, no logic need apply" rule!) Neither of those gave me any help toward figuring out what was going on, and I gave up knowing I was completely in the dark. (And obviously, it never hit me that it was the Kennedy HALF-dollar!)

    Leapfinger 10:31 AM  

    @pfb, John Bobbitt was more like GOING OFF. Being generous, maybe GOING OFF C. Lorena was nothing if not thorough.

    Thought this was a Thursday in a minor mode, rather. Started off lumping KENNEDY with Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea, so nothing much registered till GOING OFF 1/2(COcked), with which I have ample and a wide range of experience. Once understood, the theme was fun but slim. (Unlike me.) I don't mind being EELED, so thought the fill generally good. Clues like 'Draft classification' elicited a small beam, but, as noted, the SE corner is far from IDEAL. Not sure whence IGGY Azalea came to mind, but my stabat LEOX was OIL wrong. Also was well and truly fooled into biologicaland penal cells before CHARGER came tothe rescue.

    As mentioned, it's the apian way to WAGGLE Dance to indicate both the direction and distance of flower fields. There was a lead article in Scientific American in, umm...the 1970s.

    CALI not clued to Ecuador
    ABDUL not clued to Abulbul Ameer
    MOLOTOV, instead of his cousin, Mazel

    A TRACTive bits:
    Most teens apparently think FLYING AT MA pays off more than FLYING AT Pa
    LO-CAL: the train for dieting commuters
    ARISTOTLE his students, and he taught them all well
    PENSACOLA: the thinking person's drink
    HOO DWINKS? HOO evah feels dwy.

    This OLE MISS has another snow day; no time to be IDOL. When the puzz gives you Emmons, make Emmonade.


    Mrs. S 10:36 AM  

    Very cute gimmick!

    But done in by WiGGLED/iNNO! Darn! = [

    John V 10:46 AM  

    Got the gimmick, got the solve, liked it. Pretty challenging here. Pensacola was larr to fall. That was a hard corner.

    chefbea 10:48 AM  

    Couldn't fire out the theme...maybe because I am a year older and busy reading all my birthday wishes. Don't think I will be having Brats for dinner but will be wiggling a lot!!

    Norm 10:53 AM  

    Although I understand and sometimes agree with Rex's distaste for gibberish in the completed grid, I think the critique needs to be a bit more nuanced. A rebus puzzle also ends up with nonsense, but no one complains -- presumably because it's obvious what is going on. I think the same standard applies to today's puzzle. When you look at the grid with the theme in mind, it's not gibberish: your mind fills in the blanks for each theme answer. Contrast last Sunday's puzzle (which I loved, by the way) where it was a struggle to see the theme answers. There, the resulting gibberish was a fair trade for the cleverness of the theme; here, I think you call it mental shorthand, and there's no gibberish to it at all.

    old timer 10:56 AM  

    No Naticks for me! I was almost certain the Pres of Liberia was ELLEN, but I got mislead and wrote "Iowa" for the straw poll place. It wasn't until I wrote ARISTOTLE that I realized my first guess was right, and also remembered that the straw poll comes out of AMES, Iowa.

    Practically my first answer was OLEMISS in the NW, so I got the rest of the section very quickly and therefore caught on to the half trick. I remember the KENNEDY (half) DOLlar very well.

    The rest of the puzzle was slow but steady. ACTS surprised me, though I think I know my New Testament. At the very end, I had C-AT crossing C-OPS. I had thought about putting an R or an H there, then figured out the right letter.

    dk 11:00 AM  

    🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

    Ithica is a great place to go. As a young dk i spent many a fine weekend there. Wish i could be at the X word fete.

    This one was a slog. Took a long time to get the them and when I did I was not happy. Grain of NACL as I do not like gimmick themes.

    Those of you interested in predictive modeling - read up on Bee WAGGLES. Shows you that seemingly random movement is not.

    Arlene 11:01 AM  

    I got the theme right away at KENNEDY half-DOLLAR. It's the half-cocked that had me stumped, as I just didn't know that expression.
    I also wondered which were theme answers and which weren't - but I did notice the theme answers didn't have ? but that wasn't definitive for me.
    Good fun on this one - and I'm one of those who thinks it's fine to do some "research" to finish. My objective is fun.

    Kretch 11:12 AM  

    Isn't Crossword solving like golf? Some will use a mulligan and enjoy the game, for others to use one would spoil the game… Par is Par as long as everyone enjoys themselves.. That said… Don't carry a handicap if you use Mulligans.

    Anonymous 11:20 AM  

    Well said sirhilary@0850. Why the fuck would posters on a crossword blog site have to come to an agreement about what DNF means? People here can be real asses.

    hungry hippo 11:24 AM  

    HIPPOs kill more people in Africa than all other wild animals (except, of course, other humans) combined.

    Ω 11:28 AM  

    @anon11:20 - You make it hard to argue with your last sentence.

    Nancy 11:28 AM  

    If only..
    I had known that Kennedy is on the half-dollar, not on the dollar.

    I had had CCING instead of CuING.

    I had not erased the T in BRAT, thinking that SUPERBOWL TI had to be SUPERBOWL VI or XI or one of those Roman numerals.

    Then maybe I would have gotten the trick. Or not.

    I came here and was surprised by the many, many people who loved this, got this and solved this. I was expecting many more DNFs and complaints. My complaint isn't that this wasn't a clever theme, but that the plethora of obscure pop names interspersed at the most inconvenient times made it impossible for me and not nearly as much fun as it should have been.

    George Barany 11:37 AM  

    Many interesting comments today, and being late to the party, I have just one thing to add. Phrased a different way, the question of what comprises a DNF has been answered by @Will Shortz here: once on the linked page, switch to "single page" view, and search for the word "cheat." @Shortz credits another Will, i.e., @Weng, one of his predecessors as New York Times editor, as saying "It's your puzzle. Solve it any way you want." Thanks to @Dan Chall for quickly directing me to this quote.

    Fred Romagnolo 11:43 AM  

    I got the gimmick right away when I balked at a Kennedy dollar. DNF 'cause of WiGGLED and JACKy, figured INNy mundi was a rapper name. Got ELYSE because an actress in '40s movies named Elyse Knox married Tom Harmon, the football star. We CALIfornians really do object; it's either CALIf (old fashioned) or CA (current); Cali is a city in Colombia, with an accent over the I, I believe. cf. drug trade. @Alias Z right on with your advice to Emmons, it's a question of the high road vs. the low road. @Leapfinger: Laughed aloud at Mazel, your hoodwinks was worthy of Elmer Fudd, and surely there can't be too many who remember "Vile Infidel know, you have trod on the toe, of Abdul Abulbul Ameer." @Alias Z: it comes up from time to time, and surely there is no Papal Bull that applies to all, but I'm with the "Whatever works for you," crowd. I use reference works, dictionaries, atlases, almanacs, Leonard Maltin, etc. when I just don't know - the old-time practices of a school-teacher before the age of google. Kalpernia, thanks for the kind words.

    Fred Romagnolo 11:45 AM  

    The John Bobbitt comments were hilarious, if a bit blue.

    Dorothy Biggs 11:48 AM  

    @anon 11:20am: Harsh much?

    mac 11:51 AM  

    I appreciated this puzzle a lot more after I read Rex's explanation.

    Flying at (half)ma(st was the toughest, since I was thinking light bulb. In the end Kane's A was my only mistake, but I didn't enjoy the solve much.

    Have a great birthday, chefB!

    Steve J 11:52 AM  

    @Norm: I'd disagree that rebus puzzles result in gibberish. They almost always still have complete, real words when completed. It's just that there are cases where multiple letters are squeezed into single squares.

    I do agree with you that the level of gibberish - or, today, bobbited words (hi @leapfinger) - has varying levels of tolerance based on the cleverness of the theme and the overall quality of the puzzle (which really can be broadly spoiled to all themes). Today, the payoff was good from my perspective. Even when my initial reaction to the cut-off words wasn't positive. The whole outweighed the sum of its parts today.

    Fred Romagnolo 11:53 AM  

    @Z: loved your comment to (about?) Anon 11:20, I can imagine the language he would use in response.

    Tita 12:00 PM  

    To me, I am most impressed with myself when I finish with only what's in my noggin.

    Everything else is a DNF.

    I don't care a bee's WAGGLE if I needed to resort to "cheating". In fact, even when I do Finish, I will google to learn the 'rest of the story'.

    There are degrees of cheating- from least blatant to most... 1) asking whoever is nearby; 2) reveal wrong letters (my app only tells me an N should be an E - but not WHICH N - os it's not an outright gimme); 3) googling.

    Bottom line, outside of the ACPT, chacun à son goût.

    Oh, the irony, that our @ELLEN EELED.

    Happy birthday, chefbea!

    @Hungry - a HIPPO flung my great granddad into a tree and killed his friend.

    Today's was a level 2 DNF for me. I liked it, copped on at KENNEDY, after getting the downs to show me the DOL.

    Thanks Mr. Emmons!

    Thursday's Chilled 12:01 PM  

    Funny that there's no real difference between 'assed' and 'half-assed'.

    That said, @NCAPrez, consensus? Here? What were you thinking? I doubt we could even get to atrial or ventricular...i.e., half-hearted.

    Now I need help with @MUSED's avatar du jour. A BRAT? FLYING AT MA? Do not have a clue.

    Very sporting of you, @Sir Hilary! I got them all, except the 1/2(YA--). The 1/2(dome) was a nice link to Ansel Adams also, but I would clue NEL as "Ozzie, without Harriet". Yep, I'm that old.

    Nancy 12:06 PM  

    @NCA President -- Like you, I was turned on to crosswords by my mother. I've inherited my aversion to Googling (although there was no such thing in her day, just reference books) from her. Her philosophy was that it was verboten to "look up" answers, but it was OK to "check" answers once you(thought) you had them. Is that a distinction without a difference? I'm not sure. Anyway, I allow myself a few cheats, if I can do it in anolog fashion and one such is geography, a complete blind spot for me. My "handicap" in this regard is the 1950s-era Hammonds I inherited from her, which is not only disintegrating as we speak, but is woefully out of date, esp. in Africa. But it's fine for all the lakes and rivers I don't know.

    A few years ago, I was privileged to have a phone conversation with Will Shortz and he mentioned the philosophy some of you referred to above: "It's your puzzle. Solve it anyway you like." I can respect that, but for me, because of my mother, looking everything up that I don't know really DOES feel like cheating. (Geography excepted.)

    Anonymous 12:14 PM  

    Didn't see theme until the end. My wife called it "half-baked."

    mathguy 12:23 PM  

    It's been clear to me for some time that there is consensus definition of DNF among us. When I see it here, I simply take it to mean that the poster found the puzzle difficult.

    MikeM 12:25 PM  

    Its funny how can bark up the wrong tree and really spin your wheels. I breezed through it until I got to the Southeast. I figured out the "halfMAst" part and had FL in front. So I figured it HAD to be FLAG something or other at halfmast. It was until I put the puzzle down and got a coffee that it dawned on me. DNF though at the crossing of KANE and ELLEN (guessed R)

    RooMonster 12:48 PM  

    Hey All !
    Interesting concept, I must confess to not grocking the theme. :-( Put me in the SE corner was a bear group. Had GHOSTS, ARISTOTLE, RANT, MUGS, and REESE, then stared at the rest forever. Never knew Bill Murray played FDR! After FDR, got DYED (tough clue), then TAILS (clever clue), TRACT (tough, clever clue), then sussed CCING. After all that, my brain hurt, so I had ADAIn/CHAnGER, and AcES. So, a DNF (a real one, as definition: left wrong letters in :-) ).
    Also had the WiGGLED for the bee. Wiggled, waggled, wuggled, whatever! Unfortunately, knew IGGY Azalea, only because she was playing out here in Las Vegas, and her billboards were everywhere!
    So, cool puz. I think more of us (ok, maybe only me) would have figured out the theme with a title to the puz. Just sayin. Good fill, some tough clues, three letters from a correct finish.


    Anoa Bob 12:49 PM  

    So, ARISTOTLE, KENNEDY & MOLOTOV WAGGLED into a bar and saw that LEO, JACKO, ADAIR, ELLEN, REESE, OHARA, ELYSE, IGGY, ABDUL, AMES, KANE & some DUDE named MOOSE were already there.

    Karl von Frisch won a Nobel Prize in 1973 in medicine and physiology (shared with Nikolaas Tinbergen & Konrad Lorenz) for his research on bees. One of his discoveries was how a bee's WAGGLE dance can relay information to other bees about the direction and distance of a potential food source. Subsequent research showed that a lot of the bees ignore the info and go back to spots where they have already been. So much for the hive mentality.

    Lived in California for 12 years and never saw or heard it called CALI.

    Martel Moopsbane 12:50 PM  

    HAANDLF - Coffee additive

    Tim Aurthur 1:08 PM  

    With the first theme answer I wondered if KEN...DOL might be leading to a Barbie theme.

    RooMonster 1:08 PM  

    Whoa, not sure how my post reposted! Some strange stuff os afoot...

    Do-do-do-do do-do-do-do

    Leapfinger 1:10 PM  

    @AliasZ Bacsi, the Mozart Quintet for piano and winds is indeed ery melo and soothing. Am in no way disappointed, but do admit I had anticipated a link from Dvorak's JACKO Bin.

    The Duet, Act II

    Or, from a century ago, the Burgrave's aria

    Or, of course, Julia's Lullaby

    Numinous 1:10 PM  

    @Fred Romagnolo, I couldn't agree with you more about CALIf. I hate those answers unless they are clued as what fools, boors and outsiders call CALIfornia. I'm an expatriot fourth generation Californian and I have never been to CALI with or without an accent over the I. I suspect we will hear (read) the language Anon 11:20 will use.

    I"m royally ticked off @Bob Eisen who wrote on yesterday's comments:
    How do you know the theme of a puzzle? I download and print the daily puzzle through my NYT crossword subscription but there is never a title/theme at the top. Only the constructor(s)' name. I was stuck on today's pyzzle until I logged onto Rex Parker who said the theme is ''half words'. I am so frustrated If anyone knows, please help. Thx.
    That ruined the theme for me as I was merely checking to see if anyone had added anything to yesterday's comments before starting today's puzzle. So I figured it out (recognized it) at KENNEDY half DOLlar. The other three weren't that hard after a few crosses. Even thought I know better, I was disappointed there were only four.

    I try not to google and usually don't. I would regard a FINISH as getting the "congratulations" pop-up with no corrections. If I get the "one or more errors" pop-up and can figure out the mistakes to get the "congrats" I call it a FINISH with an asterisk but still a finish. If I have to google and get the "congrats" I think of it as a technical DNF since I couldn't get it without help.I never use the app's help features. If I did, in the interest of honesty and full disclosure, have to tell all of you and I couldn't bear the shame of it. Ok, that's a bit dramatic and the reality is, as has been seid above, "It's your puzzle, do it your way."

    I am deeply impressed by @Casco's development. When we first met him he'd have been lucky to fill in 10% of today's answers and five of them would have been wrong. @Casco Kid, You've Come a Long Way, Baby! Light yourself a Virginia Slim. I think you're ready for middle school.

    I too had to look long and hard at JACK_ and WiGGLED to kill the "almost" P-U. I had a hard time getting Mrs. Onassis out of my head until I re-read the clue and saw "80s". Figuring out JACKO gave me ANNO and settled the WiGGLED/WAGGLED dichotomy. Do I gave myself an F*.

    Great puzzle, great theme, Mr. Emmons. And, @REX, SUPERBOWLTI isn't gibberish if you know what it really means.

    Atlantasolver 1:11 PM  

    I don't get "Cali"

    Numinous 1:30 PM  

    Damn, I forgot!

    Happy Birthday @chefbea! Raising a glass (too bad it's only half-full) to many more for you.

    @Atlantasolver, read the comments above, CALI has been discussed. I hope you're enjoying the rare snwofall as we are in the mountains of north GA.

    @Beatrice and Leapy and everyone else who paste URLs. Embeded links are very easy to do here and I'm going to include one to a very simple explanation of how to do them. On the iPad, copying and pasting a url is a PITA. It's much easier to "click" on a link and chose "Open in another tab"

    Masked and Anonym007Us 1:39 PM  

    Epic cool theme! Caleb had me at FLYINGATM&A. @63: In what way does that not make perfect sense, when U direct-eyeball it?
    thUmbsUp, at full MA.

    So, just to clarify this thicker thn snot themer list...
    1. KENNEDY DOL(LOP). Was soooo relieved, when this weren't KENNEDYDOA, or somesuch.
    2. GOINGOFFCOC(OAS). Very rashly, imo.
    3. SUPERBOWLTI(TS). Wardrobe malfunctions!
    4. I DOL(LOP).
    5. CALI(ENTE). Surfers love them the hot sauce.
    6. ESS(AYS). Dot's what U get assigned a lot, in English class. Nice use of weeject power.
    7. JACKO(LOPES). (sp?)

    Great fill in a wide-open grid. Keep em comin, (NEVERL)EMMONS...


    ** gruntz **

    Anonymous 1:42 PM  

    Bees' waggle dance: familiar to anyone who took bio and/or psych courses in college. Researched by numerous ethologists and apiarists.

    "Half-mast"? That's a stretch. Perhaps this is done in the Navy, or other seafaring organizations, but the usual expression is "flying half-staff." Got the theme right away with "Kennedy dol," but had trouble with SE corner (unfamiliar with Big Daddy Kane, and figured it was probably Ames Straw Poll, because Ames is in Iowa, an early presidential caucus state, but the "half-mast" threw me for a while.

    M and Half Witchy 1:46 PM  

    @chefbea: Happy Beets-Day, U sweetie.

    "than" instead of "thn", in last typing exercise.
    Man, does this NYTPuz theme have a lotta runtpuz possibilities...

    "Flyin Right at Yah"

    Leapfinger 1:58 PM  

    Oh, ah, just noticed the Camelot subtheme. Jacqueline Bouvier married first a KENNEDY,then an ARISTOTLE, to end up as JACK(ie)-O.

    Thanks, @Numi,dear boy. I used to embed links, but mislaid the format in my recent move. Have just been practicing lazy. (PITA sounds really crumby.)
    ReEchoing the birthday wishes to @chefbee. Waggle on!

    And thanks to @FredRom, for the gentle reminder that I should quit to put CALI in Ecuador.

    Chip Hilton 2:02 PM  

    WiGGLED, dammit. Otherwise, got it after an enjoyable Thursday struggle. Loved the clues for OLEMISS and TAILS. The theme fell on SUPERBOWL-- and I rolled from there.

    ADAIR alternatives: Old-timer second baseman Jerry and jazz pianist BeeGee.

    Good one, Caleb!

    johnranta 3:00 PM  

    A terribly stupid puzzle. The "half" answers were random, gibberish. Just garbage...

    Unknown 3:06 PM  

    Are you going through a mid-life crisis for example a divorce,miscarriage,can't find love no need to worry can help you with any personal need.many people will try to sugar coat the truth and give you false hope but not Dr.Brave he will tell you the truth and nothing but the truth and keep your hopes high and alive so, please dont waste your time and hope on somebody who doesn't deserve it..
    Via Email:
    Via Mobile: +2348071622464
    Via Website

    RooMonster 3:09 PM  

    That'll be $30, please...


    Benko 3:19 PM  

    Big Daddy KANE's classic rap hit can be written out using today's theme idea..."Ain't No Step" for "Ain't No Half Stepping".

    chefwen 3:47 PM  

    @chefbea - Happy Birthday! Thought of you yesterday when I opened up my March Bon appetit mag and saw a recipe for Beet Panna Cotta and Meyer Lemon Mousse. You might want to snag a copy.

    @jberg - Right there with you and the rest of the MOOers.

    Caught on early with KENNEDY and his DOL. the rest was just downright fun.

    Thanks Caleb Emmons.

    Nebraska Doug 3:48 PM  

    I agree with Sir Hillary, a DNF is anything other than finishing the puzzle on my own, with zero outside assistance.

    chefbea 4:38 PM  

    @Chefwen - thanks for the good wishes..and everyone else too. I'll look for that recipe. Yummm

    Don McBrien 4:59 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    I swear I'm not a moron 4:59 PM  

    Check out @Numinous's 1:30 "How To" link, described in the post as "simple", and tell me it's NOT simple and that, when I find it absolute gibberish, I AM NOT A MORON! Please!!!!

    Don McBrien 5:14 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    beatrice 5:21 PM  

    I took a rather tortuous path from ANNO mundi to Salomone Rossi (c.1570-1630), a contemporary of Cima (I featured a trio of his the other day - Rossi may have in fact originated the form), and of Monteverdi, with whom he apparently worked at the Mantuan court. Rossi was the most significant Jewish composer of the late Renaissance (at least writing within the European tradition), being one of the innovators of early Baroque. Though his music was thoroughly European, and his secular vocal works in Italian, he also set Hebrew liturgical texts and devotional pieces for use in synagogue services, which he eventually published (1622, 1623), under the title 'Songs of (by) Solomon'. These are (apparently) the only known settings of Hebrew texts to Western art music before the 19th century.

    Here are two lovely pieces from that collection:

    I don't know what this is, I didn't find a translation:

    Sinfonia Grave and Kadish(sp?)

    Here's also a section of a monograph that was apparently used as program notes - well-written, fascinating - not least, re the composing and printing of Hebrew texts set to European music.

    Rug Crazy 5:23 PM  

    I finished, but cane someone help me with dot-dot-dot equals ESS.


    Ω 5:26 PM  

    @I swear- When you go to the link that @Numinous posted don't bother with the explanation. Copy and save the text in the white example box. When you want to post a link copy that text into the comment box on blogger. Then replace the URL (the characters in blue in the example) with the URL you want to link to. Replace Visit! with whatever text you want to appear. Good Luck! Once you do it a few times it will probably start to make sense to you.

    mathguy 5:27 PM  

    @Rug Crazy: Morse code.

    Ω 5:28 PM  

    @Rug Crazy - dot dot dot is Morse Code for the letter S. ESS is Crosswordese for the letter S.

    allan 5:40 PM  

    I know I’m very late to the party again, mostly because this puzzle seemed much harder to me than most. Themed puzzles with no revealers are more difficult; almost solving like a themeless. I did figure out the theme at SUPERBOWLTI. That finally got me to a point where I filled about 95% of the puzzle, but I was totally stumped by the SE. I liked the fill, especially the non-theme answers.

    @NCA President Interesting take on DNF. I’d always gotten the impression from this blog that if you Google, you’re a DNF. Today was the first time in a long time that I googled an answer. I was stuck in that SE because of CHATTER instead of CHARGER for 40D. I’ve also gotten the impression that when using Across Lite, having the app find errors was kind of a DNA also (that’s something that I do frequently, especially with Friday and Saturday puzzles. And I agree with @Z that DNF is kind of personal. And Thanks Z. I’m sure you realize that there are many on this site who are very quick to judge. And here, I do not mean those who stated their opinion on how they look at the issue. I mean those who have condemned others for using outside assistance.

    @jberg Add me to the list of MOOERS, although I corrected that pretty early on.

    @chefbea Happy Birthday

    Rug Crazy 5:44 PM  

    thank you Z


    jae 5:49 PM  

    @logan - I wasn't ignoring you. It's been a busy day and I just now had time to check the blog. Thanks @Z for chiming in.

    And happy birthday @chefbea

    @Sir Hiliary covered what a DNF is for me, i. e. ACPT rules. I called my granddaughter after I finished. If my N had been wrong thart would have been a DNF. But, again what constitutes a DNF is really up to you. I know when I first started doing xwords I wore out a xword dictionary.

    aging soprano 6:22 PM  

    I was so excited when Leapfinger and Fred R. referred to Abdul Abulbul Ameer. My dad, who would have been 99 today, sang that song in the Boy Scouts in Chicago in the early '30s. He taught it to us kids and it was part of our regular repertoire on road trips, along with other favorites like Sippin' Cider through a Straw. I was sure that my bros and sister and were the only people in the world to sing that song. Gee. What memories you managed to invoke.
    I started the puzzle at Aristotle and worked from there. Didn't need to Google ole Ari. But I am happy with any puzzle I can finish, with or without Google. I usually circle clues which will be Googlable if I need to later on, then fill in as much as I can alone before resorting to help.
    If I hadn't Googled I would never have discovered this blog, and would have been much the poorer for that.
    I also read lots of interesting info when I Google an answer. Big plus.
    So until tomorrow...SEND MY REGRETS TO THE CZAR/TSAR, ect.

    Numinous 6:34 PM  

    To suppliment what @Z said, be sure you post the URL between the pair of "s. Place what you want to use as a link description between the first > and the second <.

    Thank you @Z.

    Teedmn 7:21 PM  

    Excellent Thursday puzzle. I missed the theme at KENNEDY DOL, forgot about the half. 10D was looking like GOING OFF COurse to me until I reread the clue (yes, I actually reread a clue, me!) and saw it had to be "half COCked" which let me get the rest of the themers. Though I also started thinking "sTaf" rather than AT MA in 54A but somehow fixed it. No help from the crosses down there, for sure!

    Hand up for a tough SE but got it, no DNF today per @Sir Hillary's definition, third time this week for me which might be a record.

    @Numinous, I saw the comment about today's puzzle in yesterday's comments and it ticked me off too but I was lucky in that I had already done the puzzle so no spoilage here. But I've seen it before at least once, where it did spoil it for me.

    Thanks CE and WS!

    Teedmn 7:32 PM  

    Test How to Copy and Paste on an iPad

    Teedmn 7:36 PM  

    Slick, it worked. Thanks, @Numinous and @Z! I've got the original saved in my iPad notes so I can recreate it. Now I just have to find something interesting to link to....

    Blue Stater 8:12 PM  

    How is MOLOTOV an "eponymous" foreign minister? "Molotov" (his nom de guerre; his real name was Scriabin) means, I think "hammer," not "foreign minister." Molotov is probably best known for the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. I don't think that qualifies as making him "eponymous." Isn't this a stretch, even for WS?

    Mette 8:41 PM  

    @NCA President - years before Google, I used reference books to finish puzzles. Never cared about DNF because I had spent a happy afternoon getting sidetracked. That is why I have loved The American Heritage dictionary from its onset. It is so enticing to spot a picture and want to learn more. That kind of enjoyment led me to haunt bookstores and book fairs for decades and to score gems like the Dictionary of Imaginary Places. A DNF is unimportant. Your personal satisfaction is all that counts.

    Nancy 9:09 PM  

    @Blue Stater -- MOLOTOV is eponymous, not as a foreign minister, but as a cocktail, As in Molotov Cocktail, an explosive device. The clue is phrased as though he's eponymous as a foreign minister, so I think it's both misleading and unfair. But once you have a few letters, it becomes pretty obvious, at least it seemed to me.

    Andrew Heinegg 9:23 PM  

    Thank you Roo Monster. The check is in the mail.

    Andrew Heinegg 9:24 PM  

    Thank you Roo Monster. The check is in the mail.

    Andrew Heinegg 9:31 PM  

    Duh. Arguing anything other than an unaided solve is not a dnf is revisionist history.

    Andrew Heinegg 9:31 PM  

    Duh. Arguing anything other than an unaided solve is not a dnf is revisionist history.

    Ω 9:51 PM  

    @Nancy and @Blue Stater - Eponymous is a tricky word since it can mean either the person or the thing. Since this is a crossword puzzle I think this was a top notch clue. According to Wikipedia, the Finns coined the term Molotov Cocktail as a dig at Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov.

    @Logan, @Teedmn, @Rug Crazy, and @Numinous - You're welcome. @Numinous - I seem to recall our Muse having issues posting links, now she changes her avatar picture to make us think.

    @Fred - It's always good to know that a comment was appreciated.

    @Leapy9:05 - I was fully expecting to write it and then discover someone had posted while I was typing. What do you make of Bridges' recent ad spree?

    I'm predicting an ARIZONIAN LLAMAS on the LLOOSE theme tomorrow. Speaking of which, check on the combination platters on this menu from a local Detroit restaurant. 1 free Google on Saturday if you can guess which platter I ordered Tuesday night.

    Leapfinger 9:52 PM  

    Cool beans! I used to have to look it up before each use, but since @Z explained how to get bold and italics, I now realize that embedding is just doing the same operation with 'a' and '/a', with adding href="url" in the opening set.

    Now to see if that works properly:
    test to see if Harsh law of loveworks

    @aging soprano, what nice serendipity! On account of picking up that 'bulbul' is the Persian for nightingale, for a long time I thought it was Abdullah Bulbul Ameer.

    Nancy 10:30 PM  

    @Z: The Arizonian?

    Ω 10:38 PM  

    @Nancy - 👏 👏 👏 That just leapt out as a "must have" dish after the recent "I or no I" kerfuffle.

    OISK 11:12 PM  

    For me, I solve myself, no help and no errors, or it is a DNF. And since I never heard of Big Daddy Kane, Ames straw pole, or Ellen Sirleaf, I got a DNF today. Other than the SE, where that mix is unfortunate for people like me - the only "raps" I know are Alcoa and Reynolds,- a very fine, clever puzzle. I just think that even on Thursday, when the "downs" are Ames and Kane, "Ellen" ought to be clued a bit easier. Just for me. (Had Ellis, Amis, and Kase) BTW, I have more DNF's on Thursdays than on any other day.

    Nancy 11:20 PM  

    @Z Don't remember an "I or no I kerfuffle (was it about the spelling of Arizonian, perchance?), but the dish sounded amazingly good to this carnivore. What's more, the price sounded amazingly modest to this New Yorker.

    Ω 11:21 PM  

    @OISK - I really like the notion of the AMES Straw Poll as a Rapper/Stripper.

    Half-massed 1:10 AM  

    @Martel MB -- Half and Half, good one!

    @anyone who cares, the MOLOTOV cocktail is an incendiary rather than an explosive device.

    Akei 7:09 AM  

    @numinous and @ Fred R, I'm fifth generation Clifornian on my father's side of the family and no one in my family has ever used CALI. I was also born in San Francisco and we never use Frsco either. They consider me a deviant for having left paradise for NYC.

    I will always consider myself an unrepentant cheater with crosswords since the whole purpose for me is to procrastinipate with a coffe in bed before I get up for the day. As a perpetual amateur, I do enjoy watching the professionals at work, especially the hilarious one minute solve clip.

    Anonymous 10:14 AM  

    @ Danp MSNBC is NEWS? Come on. Not even MSNBC could defend Keith Olberman's lunatic rants when they fired him.

    Or, it reminds me of Mort Sahl's quote (and I paraphrase) "your left is my right". in this case your right is my left.

    Or you're just out of your rational mind.

    Unknown 8:39 AM  

    Really clever. Really good. I was totally baffled. Thanks.

    packerbacker 9:31 AM  

    So. . ., lots of our supposed "brainiacs" are CHEATERS after all. Try googling at a xword tourney and see where it gets you (not that I'd care to enter a xword tourney).
    To me each puzzle is a test, and if the answers don't come from your very own gray matter, it's a DNF.
    Go ahead and cheat to fill in the squares, but that's a DNF fairly.

    rondo 9:42 AM  

    DNF mostly because DNL (did not like), even though I had the KENNEDYDOL and SUPERBOWLTI. Did not finish the SE because of the other two, the rapper, and an unknown-to-me Liberian prez. Turns out that the theme is half-assed.
    Most of the fill was fine, probably above average, like PENSACOLA and ARISTOTLE and HOODWINKS and FACEVALUE. Gotta like that stuff. Usually Thursdays try to stuff a lot of letters into a square, but omitting letters does not compute in my book.

    rondo 9:50 AM  

    BTW -IGGY should be clued as "Pop musician" (as in Iggy Pop who actally has talent) not as this popular, but talentless, Azalea "singer".

    spacecraft 11:21 AM  

    DNF, due to the triple-natick in the SE, as well as the wrong guess at the bee dance (WiGGLED vs. WAGGLED; who knew from "_NNO mundi?" C'mon, man, wiggle and waggle are interchangeable. You can't put some "I have no idea" thing in the down.

    Nor can you foist yet another rapper on me, crossing this Sirleaf character, known only by those who memorize Nobelists, a straw poll I never heard of, and--the sockdolager--the two-way possible answer to "Draft classification:" AgE or ALE. This whole section is grossly unfair, and so is the square at 26.

    My first headache was in the NW, where, like hordes I'm sure, I had HIgh for "Up," with the HI already in. Plus, of course, bSIDE instead of ASIDE. Eventually PENSACOLA straightened all that out, and short work in the north central forced the theme idea onto me. While some didn't like the concept, I had no quarrel with it; after all, it IS different. And as the mentioned Bill Murray said once, "Different is good."

    This was a strange mix of long gimmes--31 in both directions, e.g.--and impossible naticks. The last themer, in that horrid SE, was giving me fits because I couldn't divide STAFF in half. Didn't, at first, think about maritime remembrances.

    Oh yeah, JUDO chop?? Is there such a thing? I saw some Olympic JUDO footage, and I never saw a chop. Wrong discipline, methinks. CCING my shrink on this one. INC.

    Burma Shave 11:39 AM  


    This is a TALE of a LOCAL OLEMISS
    and this DUDE “MOOSE”, who she wanted to kiss,
    and how that FRAU would grin
    when she shows her IDOL in
    and HOODWINKS him into IDEAL bliss.

    --- IGGY OHARA

    BS2 11:56 AM  



    --- AMES KANE
    This stream of conscientiousness sponsored by STARBUCKS

    ecanarensis 1:28 PM  

    @Spacecraft 11:21, I have to go along with you; there ain't no such thing as a judo CHOP, at least not that was ever mentioned or hinted at in the 4 years I took judo. Throws, blocks, rolls, falls --a major point of the exercise is to use the opponent's moves to overcome the opponent, so pulling & balance work, but no CHOPs (whacking) the way I was taught. Maybe those come in when you get expert. I got the answer, just hated it.
    Theme was pretty fun, tho I would've like it better if the 'half' words were more symmetrical.

    leftcoastTAM 9:33 PM  

    Concerning the DNF issue:

    When I first started doing NYT puzzles some years ago, I used whatever reference books I had, atlases, dictionaries, etc. I was teaching myself to learn crosswordese and how to think about clues and answers. I didn't think of any of this as cheating.

    After I started to catch on, I imposed progressively tougher standards on what I considered a successfully solved puzzle. Now, for me, a successful solve is one that uses no sources outside the puzzle itself. Anything else is a DNF.

    Today I erred at the WiGGLE/iNNO cross, a clear DNF. Nonetheless, I feel good about completing everything else successfully, though it was very slow going.

    I enjoyed this puzzle.

    KariSeattle 2:56 AM  

    Happy Birthday Chefbea!
    I hope you had some lemon moose!
    That would get anyone waggling!
    DNF; to me I finished it on my own.
    I finished 3/4 (more than half!) Of today's puzzle, but after struggling with the theme answers I came here, egregiously cheating! I call it research for future cruciverbalist attempts.

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