Greek township / FRI 3-27-15 / Temple square group founded in 1847 / Quite ill in Lille / Biao Mao Zedong confederate / Title religious school in classic Crosby/Bergman film / Prairie transport / First wife of Julius Caesar / Theater reproof / Big source of blueberries

Friday, March 27, 2015

Constructor: David Kwong

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: UTAH (STATE) (31A: University suggested by this puzzle's black squares) — all the grid's black square blocks form, roughly, the shape of Utah. Two other theme answers relate to Utah:

Theme answers:
  • TABERNACLE CHOIR (19A: Temple Square group founded in 1847) [shouldn't this have "MORMON" in front of it?]
  • LATTER DAY SAINTS (47A: Young followers) [this clue is probably my favorite thing about the puzzle]
Word of the Day: ION BEAM (53A: Ray gun ray) —
[Wait, ray guns are real now? Cool.]

• • •

Take out everything but the theme answers, refill the entire grid competently, and release this on a day where somehow Utah matters, and you've got something. As is, it's yet another decent, cute idea made painful by the less-than-polished fill. I knew things would be GRIM before I made it out of the NW, with its absurd non-phrase IN LATIN and its absurd recherché Frenchism A LA MORT (16A: How zombies like their apple pie?). I was pretty well checked out by the time I got to the NEBO ITES shortly thereafter. Just … done. There's no delight, no play, no craft. There's just fill. The theme, when I got it, felt like an afterthought. I couldn't appreciate it on any level because ISS ISA ATMS SHH OAS HOI IPODS GRIM ASP etc. Worse, though, was the fact that the longer stuff (mostly) had no pop. Short junk can be overlooked when the longer answers pop. Popless, I say, was this. Not to mention the fact that the clues on this puzzle were a huge downer. All the joy of being held HOSTAGE in an ASSISTED living facility. ENCAGEd.

Remember: If you aren't up to filling a low word-count puzzle cleanly, then just don't do it. Please. The bar is just too high today. I mean … Only 62 words, *And* it's themed? No. No way. Unless you are Patrick Berry, stop. Please. I'd say "add black squares to make filling the grid easier," but I see that would ruin your whole (mysterious) Utah vibe. The theme answers aren't interesting enough to hold the puzzle together, and the theme has no topicality, and too much of the fill just doesn't work. It's either bad or dull. Editors have to help shape this stuff. Too often a good idea is DEMEd to be all that's important, and clunky execution is just given a pass. [Is that how you pronounce "DEME"? I have no idea] (49D: Greek township)

I'll give you HIPSTER and SHANKAR and HOSTAGE and PEACH PIT and BEATS ME. Maybe even CONESTOGA and TABITHA. But I will not give you TWEEDLE (one of the least "enticing" words I know) (55A: Entice with music) and I most certainly won't give you the ridiculous, enormous partial, END HOUSE (10D: Agatha Christie's "Peril at ___"). That answer is neck and neck with IN LATIN for Biggest Head-Shaker. Again, there's a clever state pride angle here, but in order for that cleverness to shine, the non-theme fill (which, today, is an enormous part of the grid) has to be, at a minimum, clean. It wasn't.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Phaedrus 12:03 AM  

    Is it too much to ask for "peach pit" to be clued with a 90210 reference?

    Zeke 12:06 AM  

    I told you earlier in the week, but you all scoffed. Well, not all, some out and out called me a tired old man yelling at kids to get off my lawn. But, as always, I am proved correct, with this puzzle being proof positive. It's Duchamp's fault - his, and his alone. He got away with painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa and calling it art. Turn a urinal upside down and put it on a stand and it gets a glorified place in MoMA. Now anyone can call anything "art" and bam!, everyone's afraid to call it crap. No less than Clement Greenberg, Leo Steinberg, and John Russell , major art historians and critics all, have each directly traced this phenomenon directly back to Duchamp. So, we get crap grid "art" and we're supposed to meekly accept it on a Friday? Because you stole the Utah's from 3yo's jigsaw of the US, dropped them on the floor and liked it? It's art if you say it's art? I think not! Damn you Duchamp!
    Wait, do the letters that intrude into what would be perfect 3x2 black rectangles anagram to something, could this be a hidden excuse for the puzzle? Do they spell out "Mormons be cray-cray"? Yes - they spell out MASS SNIT! It's why the Mormons went to Utah, it was a case of a MASS SNIT. Genius.
    Maybe I was wrong about Duchamp.

    mathguy 12:18 AM  

    I got double-naticked where CONESTOGA was crossed by both NENO and LIN. On the other hand, I filled in the grid rather quickly. 43 squares were filled in with gimmes.

    The Jeff Chen blog gives the number of blocks in the puzzle every day. There are 40 blocks in this one and 62 words. I haven't been able to figure out what a block is.

    I admire Casco for having the courage to enter the tournament this weekend. I'm looking forward to hearing about it.

    Whirred Whacks 12:18 AM  

    This puzzle was just fine. I appreciated the constraint of having all the black squares conform to the 5-square Utah-shaped block. Nice!

    Some fun clues, especially "Taps on the links" for PUTTS. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who initially had SURFS.

    Wednesday had UNPEN, and today we have ENCAGE. It's open and shut!

    Calling IN LATIN an "absurd non-phrase" is quite amusing coming from a university lecturer with a specialty in "Medieval Literature."

    Brian B 12:29 AM  

    The clue for CONESTOGA is wrong; Conestoga wagons were used in the East and South and as far west as Ohio but not on the prairie.

    And the clue in my Across Lite file for 16A is "Quite ill, in Lille." Nothing to do with zombies. Whu?

    Anonymous 12:30 AM  

    @Whack job - There's a difference between two words which are frequently adjacent and a phrase. The Aeneid was written in latin, but that doesn't make "in latin" a phrase. "in flagrante delicto" is a phrase, "in latin" isn't.

    Unknown 12:35 AM  

    I suspect masses in Utah were never IN LATIN.

    Wood 12:48 AM  

    I thought Fridays were supposed to be themeless? Ignoring the Utah angle, the grid is nice and open and pleasing to look at. The fill didn't bother me. But this was one of the easiest Fridays I can remember.

    jae 12:56 AM  

    Easy for me too. Even with END HOUSE, DEME, and ISOTONE as WOEs, this went by awfully quickly.  

    Rex makes some good points, but mostly based on the grid "art" I liked it more than he did.

    MDMA 1:03 AM  

    Chiming in with another "easiest Friday ever", finished in record time (for me).

    Anonymous 1:28 AM  

    Easiest Friday ever

    Carola 1:29 AM  

    "BEATS ME" is what I usually say to myself repeatedly on my first pass through a Friday puzzle, but not today - it practically filled in itself. I liked if much better than @Rex did: besides the state tribute, I liked CORNELIA, TABITHA, and CONESTOGA (which, along with the HORSE to draw it, I'd thought might be a theme answer, too, expecially because of the central cross, so thank you to @Brian B for explaining that these wagons didn't ROLL across the prairie. On the GRIMmer side: TASES + ION BEAM-->A LA MORT.

    Clark 1:57 AM  

    "The house itself was large and rather dreary-looking. It was shut in by trees, the branches of which actually touched the roof. It was clearly in bad repair. Poirot swept it with an appraising glance before ringing the bell—an old fashioned bell that needed a Herculean pull to produce any affect [sic] and which once started, echoed mournfully on and on." Peril at End House.

    Steve J 2:09 AM  

    Little to enjoy in this one. The Utah grid art is kind of cute, but I'm not sure why we need to extend that out to a small theme, and why the theme has to be confined to Mormonism (there's more to Utah than the LDS, and there's more to the LDS than Utah). Setting that aside, this fell under the weight of an abundance of junky fill that wasn't sufficiently balanced by lively fill or clever cluing.

    Most of this was easy, but I ground to a halt in both southern corners. Totally forgot there are both ISOTOpEs and ISOTONEs, and so I couldn't undo the former, leaving to me to wander what the hell _OpBEAM could possibly be (hop beam? pop beam? bop beam, wielded by Miles Davis to slay anyone who dared challenge him for trumpet supremacy?). And then there was ENCAsE, and I never saw the G because in no way was my brain ever going to reach HOSTAGE from such a lousy clue for that word.

    @Brian B: The zombie clue was Rex being sarcastic. And it would be a better clue than what was offered.

    @Wood: You'll see themes on Fridays once or twice a year. Rare, but definitely not verboten.

    Colby 2:29 AM  

    Not the greatest puzzle, but IN LATIN really is not that bad. Pretty common phrase and far from an arbitrary pairing of words.
    Almost a record Friday time for me until I had to iron out the SW corner.

    chefwen 2:31 AM  

    Biggest mistake was confidently filling in arrest at 54A, our buddy Ravi Shankar set me straight there.

    Had a unpleasant Dr's appointment Tuesday which included fasting, I rewarded myself with a BIG MAC on the way home, something I haven't done in about 10 years. JEEZ LOUISE that was tasty. Might have to break down more often.

    Hand up for the easy column. Love that on a Friday.

    jae 3:07 AM  

    Left out TILSIT as a WOE, Stilton yes, Tillamook yes, TILSIT not so much.

    Loren Muse Smith 4:52 AM  

    Basically what @jae and @Carola said – I liked it fine and really got a kick out of the Utah shapes everywhere.

    Two really big hang-ups – "nearer" for DEARER and, of course, "isotope." Hi, @Steve J. In fact, I never corrected the latter and just couldn't see ION BEAM even though I knew TILSIT. Sheesh.

    I sold a ton of TILSIT at this unbelievably cool store in Chapel Hill (congrats, Badgers) called A Southern Season. Check it out if you're ever in the area. Block off three hours for the visit. And about $250.

    Two ties to UTAH – a sister lives there. Hi, Shum. And I got to see the MTC rehearse once for free when I was visiting back in grad school. I know so many of you are all learned and sophisticated when it comes to music, and I enjoy a lot of your links. My taste runs probably too pedestrian for you, but I tell you what TWEEDLES me – just watching any great choir sing any song I can figure out the tenor part to and sing along perfectly. Perfectly. In the car by myself. Especially the staccato part -Truth. Is. Mar. Ching.


    Also – no one has mentioned this yet, but if you're not familiar with David Kwon and his other talents, you have to get a load of this. It never ceases to amaze me - this clip or the several others where it's always a different card.

    Are you seriously kidding me????

    Thanks, David. I enjoyed this. Happy weekend, everyone.

    pfb 5:22 AM  

    I thought this was pretty easy for a Friday and I started filling right off the bat. That is unusual on Friday. SW corner slowed me down with TWEEDLE and TILSIT.

    Thomaso808 6:21 AM  

    After getting a few downs I was able to get TABERNACLECHOIR and based on that without any crosses wrote in LATTERDAYSAINTS, followed soon by CONESTOGA, so it was shaping up to be the fastest Fri ever but then I got stuck on ISOTOpE, which blocked the cross, compounded by I never heard of TILSIT ( how can something pasteurized become cheese? Don't you need some bugs?). So DNF because of a parallel mysterious cheese and physics term crossed by _OpBEAM.

    The 31A clue on the black squares really did not help me because their orientation flips around so much. I first thought is this a site plan for the buildings at pennSTATE?

    Several years ago I had frequent business trips to Salt Lake City and on one visit had an opportunity to sit in on a choir rehearsal for the famed Tabernacle Choir. After listening to about 15 minutes of what I thought was the best vocal performance of any group I had ever heard in my entire life, I then heard the choir director berate them on how rough they sounded. He st a pretty high bar!

    Anonymous 6:38 AM  

    This was my quickest Friday by far - less than half my usual time - in a long time. I guess I do better with a lot of junky fill, as others have noted. I'm not a chemist, but I was not tempted to put in ISOTOpE for ISOTONE. I wonder if isotoNe was derived from isotoPe because it refers to atoms with the same number of Neutrons in the nucleus while isotoPes have the same number of Protons in the nucleus?

    - Jim C. In Maine

    GILL I. 7:25 AM  

    David Kwong puzzles seem to cause an uproar or two. He had a "trick" one that caused a few on this blog to explode and demand their money back...
    I rather enjoyed this one. Is it an "in yo face" Friday theme? I guess more of a TWEEDLE dee TWEEDLE dum...
    I had to look up reproof because I couldn't remember what that meant. SHH sounds about right.
    @Zeke. I'm not drinking anything now...thank goodness, since liquid coming out of my nose is not fun....
    @chefwen. One day I will order a BIG MAC with large fries and a chocolate milk shake and not get violently ill....

    George Barany 7:35 AM  

    Incisive analysis by @Rex of today's @David Kwong puzzle. Writing as a chemist who uses the word ISOTOPE several times a week, I am ashamed to admit to being completely unfamiliar with ISOTONE as defined in 34-Down. It's a magic trick, me thinks, like 12-Down in The Gang's All Here. For more fun (albeit nary a NUDE_MALE), try Quite the Pair by a new constructor, Peter Pomp. And those of you who will be in Stamford for the ACPT, say hi in person tonight or over the weekend.

    St. John Travel Forum 7:49 AM  

    9 of 10 on Rex's Snit Meter.

    wreck 7:59 AM  

    I had pretty much the same reaction as Steve J. and jae. I sat and stared at the SW corner trying to figure out TILSIT, and why ISOTOPE wasn't working.

    Mohair Sam 8:07 AM  

    Way too easy for a Friday, although we were held up a bit by using ISOTOpE.

    Traditional Masses are said INLATIN, and ENDHOUSE is an easily fillable Friday clue. I have no idea what @Rex is mumbling about. Maybe I should check @St. John's snit meter.

    Anyhow, this would have been a nice Wednesday test.

    r.alphbunker 8:16 AM  

    The puzzle is a bit of an inside joke. Check out the constructor's comments at

    It brought back memories of this fireball metapuzzle (FB4-37) by Andrew Ries. Unfortunately I guessed Lousiana for the state.

    I wish I could be in Stamford this weekend but I blew the xword budget on the runtpuz contest (it was worth it).

    Assuming that ACPT is pronounced Ack Pit, I leave you with this.

    Twas the night before ACPT and all through the house
    Not a creature was stirring not even a PEWIT.

    Dorothy Biggs 8:24 AM  

    It could be me, but if you hold the puzzle up to a mirror, those Utah shapes become really bad Nebraska shapes. Which makes me wonder why Utah gets its own puzzle? Are there forty nine others like this somewhere?

    I'm sure Utah is a very nice state, but I don't think I could care any less about it. I grew up listening to Mormon Tabernacle Choir albums (it was a thing back in the 60s to buy those I guess), and I'm a big fan of South Park, but it doesn't really redeem UTAHSTATE as the university of note in that state. Utah and BYU are infinitely more famous.

    I am intrigued with @Zeke's post above about Duchamp's contribution to art. Interestingly, and maybe ironically, while Duchamp's art might have been awful, it has become iconic. How can you argue with that? The meta of Duchamp is what lasts...and I wonder if that wasn't his intention.

    The minimalists in music (Philip Glass, most notably) tried to do the same thing: force people to listen to music differently. They came around at a time when composers were trying to find a new identity. "Chance" music just wasn't cutting it as a next step from serial music...tonality had gone to crap in the mid 50s, and so Glass et al set about to do what Schönberg and Stockhausen tried to do. I personally like minimalism (in small doses), but the professors at CCM hated them for a lot of the same reasons Zeke mentions in the art world's hatred of Duchamp.

    Whatever the product, the overarching result was that people noticed art more and were forced to reckon with what they liked or didn't like and then defend their answer.

    Oh yeah, and the puzzle today was just weird.

    Billy C 8:24 AM  

    @Nancy --

    Even though you've forgotten the loofa lessons you had, I'm sure you'll get 25A today with no trouble. ;-)

    Logan 8:25 AM  

    While I got 'iss" from crosses, I don't understand the answer. Would someone clue me in please? Thanks

    Billy 8:26 AM  


    Oh, my. Unwanted help from the spell checker. Is that a word. Even? I meant "golf," of course.

    Z 8:32 AM  

    @Thomaso808 - So the director isn't just a hypercritical asshole? Amazing. Your observation reminded me of two people. My band director could get away with some of the most outrageous behavior towards the kids (no, he never slapped anyone) and neither the kids nor the parents ever complained to me (recognize that I got complaints about everything from 7th grade basketball play time to having peace symbols posted by a club in the halls). Why? Because, for all the bombast and histrionics, the kids and parents all knew he loved kids and music, and the students would improve. He also was the best reading teacher in the building, an observation that didn't sit well with the other teachers.

    Tomorrow is the anniversary of UTAH's victory over Dartmouth in the NCAA tournament. Reason enough for a tribute puzzle?

    Anonymous 8:36 AM  

    Iss is short for issue, which is what a magazine publishes.

    Z 8:43 AM  

    BTW - Just in case someone is impressed with my deep knowledge of NCAA basketball history, this exists. I will not watch much more than three minutes of March Madness.

    @r.alphbunker - inside jokes are fine when one is off with one's friends. They are inherently rude in company not in on the joke. Some people's children.

    The New Yorker is a magazine that puts out ISSues. That clue tricked me for a bit, too.

    Armagh 8:43 AM  

    WTActualF is with the NYT puzzles this week? I can't remember a stretch like this of subpar clues, three-letter drek, and bad constructing.

    Lewis 8:44 AM  

    Rex -- good writeup, without bile.

    The grid is gorgeous to look at. The puzzle filled in too easy for a Friday, for me. The clues were straightforward for the most part, not tricky. Hmm... could TABITHA BEATSME be in the fantasy of yesterday's MALE NUDE?

    TWEEDLE -- has anyone used this word in this context?

    Every puzzle I began my scan for double letters, looking for that first puzzle ever without them, and at some point, inevitably, my shoulders slump as the first appears -- once again today (and today's was in the normal range, between five and twelve).

    Hartley70 8:46 AM  

    @BillyC add an H at the end and you can scrub your back. Also I think you meant 26A.

    Norm C. 8:47 AM  

    @Logan - Think of "New Yorker" as a magazine, not a person. A single magazine is an ISSue. A pretty bad abbreviation, if you ask me.

    RnRGhost57 8:52 AM  

    Aaahh, the graciousness of Jeff Chen, the curmudgeonly grumpiness of OFL, the pleasant banter on this blog. It's gonna be a good Friday.

    RnRGhost57 8:53 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Maruchka 8:58 AM  

    Went in so slick and easy, I don't dare diss it. Did not get the grid art until finished (doh). Maybe they were meant to be Lego segos? Tanks, Mr. Kwong.

    @Rex - It's a Roman Catholic thing. 'Is it IN LATIN?' i.e., endless, or out in time for brunch.

    Fav of the day - ALAMORT. Not quite dead - yet.

    @Ralph - I didn't know about 'the dreaded Utah'. Thanks!

    @jae, @LMS - TILSIT looms large on my Danish side. Sprinkle some dill on it, mustard up a not-too-hard cracker - makes a nice canape.

    Nancy Klein 9:06 AM  

    Much too easy for a Friday. No challenge at all.

    Hartley70 9:08 AM  

    @Ralph thanks for the link to I appreciated the puzzle more after reading it. My first and last thought was how surprisingly easy it was. I only paused at my last entry, TWEEDLE, when I tried to use "tweed to". It certainly wasn't the Friday fisticuffs I'm used to, but if the ACPT puzzles are like this, Casco and the Kids will be bringing home some trophies, golden happy pencils and some swag! Good Luck All!

    Logan 9:10 AM  

    Thanks to @Anonymous 8:36, @Z, and @Norm C for helping out with The New Yorker clue.

    Bird 9:10 AM  

    I wonder if today was made more difficult (for me) because I wasn't expecting a theme. Became easier though when 19A fell in place. Finished with an incorrect A at 22A/20D. And ISOTOpE would not let go either.


    Unknown 9:11 AM  

    Will we ever get back to NORMAL xword puzzles that don't try to be cute? Imo

    duaneu 9:21 AM  

    Mt. Nebo is also the highest peak in Utah's Wasatch Range.

    quilter1 9:22 AM  

    DNF even though I filled in from top to bottom quickly, while eating my cereal. But one letter finished me. I had ISOTOpE and that made the SW wacky. I never expected TWEEDLE to be the answer, although it stared me in the face. I kept thinking it was some new word for a kind of serenade that I'd never heard of since I don't twitter or tweet. Otherwise, easy.

    Charles Flaster 9:24 AM  

    Very EZ and learned ISOTONE.
    Liked cluing for STOOLIE, EPEE and ACORN.
    I remember when saying Daddy-o was a popular fad!
    Thanks DK.

    crabsofsteel 9:24 AM  

    Besides Tweedle, my other quibble is that the clue "Quite ill" would imply an adjective such as "Mourant". "A la mort" is not an adjective. I have never heard anyone say "il est malade a la mort". Although that could be a regional expression in Lille, I doubt it.

    Nancy 9:33 AM  

    @Billy C -- Didn't understand your comment at all, even after you changed "loofah" to "golf". But that's because you also had written 25A instead of 26A. As I scrolled down to let you know, I saw that the always sharp, eagle-eyed Hartley70 picked up the error first. Amazing that she noticed. Anyway, now that I understand your reference, I find it adorable.

    Like just about everyone else, I had ISOTOpE instead of ISOTONE. Unlike the smarter people, I never could figure out how to correct it. Thereby ending up with IOp BEAM, that dreaded, dreadful weapon of mythic reputation.

    Did anyone else find the respective answers to 33D and 37D
    rather depressing?

    I enjoyed the puzzle, though for the life of me I couldn't figure out what the shape of the black squares had to do with UTAH STATE. I only found out by coming here. Frankly, I wouldn't know the shape of the State of Utah if it fell on me. But then, as I've said before, I'm quite hopeless at geography.

    Unknown 9:34 AM  

    I dug this one out in 67 minutes. No errors, but the last 30 minutes were grueling as I had to suss nonsense like TWEEDLE and ASP. But I'm happy with a clean win.

    I had ISOTOpE because I didn't trust Will to get the meaning of "isotope" right. Seriously. That's the damage David Woolf's infamous "E=MC" rebus did to my confidence in NYTXW science clues. I was glad when ISOTONE appeared.

    Other wrongness: ENCAsE kept HOSTAGE from appearing until the last seconds. HIPSTER was hard to see from [Daddy-O] because they are 50 years apart in regular usage.

    I'm not sure how ASP is a toxicologist's topic. I was considering Azt as the metabolism of Azt and all AIDS therapies are of regular toxicological interest. Oops, but that's real science. OK, my bad.

    But everywhere else was excellent. Great cluing in general. CONESTOGA, IPODS as clued, STINKSAT, PEACHPIT all way above average. Nice puzzle. But ASP? Oh, do you mean snake venom as a toxin? Oh. That's dumb. Well, can't win 'em all.

    So what's with Utah State? Hey, isn't that the infamous/bad-science cold-fusion university? (Actually, University of Utah was implicated, not UTAHSTATE, but the resonance was there!)

    Anonymous 9:35 AM  

    I wanted to like this, but I too rate this one more "moist nipple" than "male nude santahat phonesex."

    Z 9:45 AM  

    @Casco Kid - Remember, no spoilers on the tourney puzzles. Some of us solve at home. I never got ISOTONE, I got ION BEAM. Thank you decades of reading science fiction. I noticed in my link that cold fusion and Ted Bundy both figured prominently in UTAH STATE history.

    @Billy C - "loofa lessons" are available through Community Ed, I think. Top notch auto-correct.

    chefbea 9:53 AM  

    Too many comments to read. Busy day today and the whole weekend. Gotta go pick up grand kids and entertain them . Had a lot of fun things planned but now it's going to be in the 30's...brrrr. Maybe we'll just make a peach cobbler

    Robso 9:56 AM  

    I kind of agree with Rex, in that this puzzle could have been really fun with just a few wholesome answers: "smores," "The Osmonds," "Family Game Night," etc.
    What the hell is Tilsit cheese?

    Name that tune 10:09 AM  

    Well, when I was up on Mt. Nebo with Moses in 1273 BCE, we had to invent a way to kill some time, since Moses would not be descending. That is when I came up with the brilliant idea of a puzzle whose answers consisted of interlocking words and clever clues. Who knew that half of the answers in those original puzzles would eventually be chided as "crosswordese," like NEBO and MANAH, and ESAU? Hey people, without Moses and me (otherwise known as Rex Yahweh Parker ), there would be no dreck fill at all. All of your modern puzzles would consist only of Berry-like genius and they would all be praised by yours truly as "a pretty darned adequate effort, I'd say" or something equally effusive. Otherwise, any puzzle not created by said Berry, and any puzzle with a theme at all, shall be panned, at least until my second coming.

    John V 10:10 AM  

    Just watched the David Kwong clip linked by LMS. Wow. That is worth the price of admission. Have a look!

    Anonymous 10:13 AM  

    Way too many verb-preposition pairings that weren't especially exciting: STINKAT, LEADSTO, OPENSUP, GRABSAT, USEDTOBE.

    Arlene 10:18 AM  

    I got stuck in the SW on this puzzle - was solving quite quickly for a Friday. Thought TILSON and ISOTOPE - and when the music enticing (55A) and ray gun beams (53A) weren't happening, I just didn't want to spend any more time on this.
    I have to get packing for the drive up to Stamford!

    grammar nazi 10:18 AM  

    Anonymous@10:13: I am not sure you know what a preposition is.

    Unknown 10:19 AM  

    @Z My goal for ACPT is no tears and no accidents. I will be the kind of last place finisher that I would want to finish ahead of. Seriously, I would probably do respectably on the puzzles given my natural solving times, but in 15 minutes. . ? There's a 50% chance that I won't finish any puzzles. I kinda hope I finish one, just for bragging rights.

    Keep you eye on this space for the atmospherics and color of ACPT, but no spoilers! I am duly admonished! ;)

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:23 AM  

    My "scientific credentials" continue to shrivel, as I had never heard of ISOTONE, but I see that it is in my Big Paper Dictionary. My one write-over, as the ION BEAM assured that the crossing letter had to be N.

    And now, I join @Arlene and @Casco Kid, and a few others, I imagine, and head for Stamford.

    imnotbobby 10:24 AM  

    Also, shouldn't we try to avoid using "_____ at" twice in the same puzzle?

    Whirred Whacks 10:33 AM  

    @Casco Kid
    Good luck to you this weekend, and enjoy the experience. When ACPT comes to the Bay Area (or Calif), I might give it a whirl. As for now, my group competitive urges will have to satisfied by Masters Swimming meets.

    After this weekend, you'll no longer be able use your "aw shucks, I'm a first-grader" routine. That's because you'll have made it through Xword combat (something most of us haven't done). I hope you out-score Mike's Harp!

    RAD2626 10:37 AM  

    Thought the mini-theme was fine and agree with those who thought this was easy for a Friday. Seemed like a Wednesday. Also agree with @John V. If you have not watched or already seen the YouTube clip posted by @LMS do so. It is truly astonishing. And the short clips at the end suggest that not every card was the eight of hearts (that's not a spoiler).

    Teedmn 10:44 AM  

    No one else thought that "quite ill" could mean "cool" as in "sick" and put in A LA MOde? It left me with Caesar's wife named COdN something. Finally I thought of TABITHA instead of something to do with Endora (which didn't fit, duh) and I fixed that part.

    Hands up for the _OpBEAM in my paper solving version. But when I filled in the Across Lite version (I do this to check my paper version), I figured TILSIT was probably correct, letting me see ION. But I found an error in CONaSTOGA, so a DNF in more ways than one.

    Good luck @Casco and everyone at the ACPT - you're all braver than I!

    Thanks, Mr. Kwong, for the puzzle. And @Zeke for the MASS SNITs. I thought you were onto a meta for a sec.

    No LEOs today, shucks.

    Ludyjynn 10:53 AM  

    Missed it by that ENCAGEd in the ISOTOpE trap and unlike many of you, did not escape unscathed.

    @Casco, I'm rooting for you to have a great time at ACPT, representing MAINE and the rest of us little ACORNS. Good luck to you and all the other Rexville participants.

    Let me plug south Jersey blueberries as among the best and most numerous for 'fresh' consumption. According to the US Highbrush Blueberry Council, Maine lowbrush blueberries are more often grown for use in food processing. one of my favorite past-times as a kid was GRABbingAT and gorging myself with the buckets of ripe, sapphire colored berries my father brought home from the Jersey shore. Messy but delish.

    TWEEDLE, who knew?

    Thanks, DK and WS.

    RooMonster 10:59 AM  

    Hey All !
    If you squint your eyes, the upside down "Utahs" become "Nevadas"! Course, I'm a little biased!

    Cool puz design. Agree with the too-much-dreck crowd. Although there are some nice longer answers. Can forgive some of the dreck, as this grid and theme constraints will inevitably lead to it.

    Hey @mathguy, not sure if you were being serious, but blocks are the black squares.

    Also had ISOTOpE/IOpBEAM, thought the IOp was some fancy scientific term for a ray! Only mistake. So agree with on the easy side FriPuz. And a writeover at DEARER, N first till 33D set me straight. Nice misdirect, that one.


    PUTTS (Putz?)

    AliasZ 11:01 AM  

    I entered TABITHA, CONESTOGA and ST. MARY'S at first scan, and the rest came just as easy. More a Tue/Wed than a Fri when I expect a little more crunch. This was more like oatmeal. Except, like everyone else, I fell into the ISOTOPE trap in the SW. I Wikied ION BEAM to make sure it is for real. It is. It also gave me the word of the day: Duoplasmatron. What a cool word!

    Prior to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) the Mass was performed strictly IN LATIN, vernacular languages were prohibited. Leave it to the Vatican to do a uey and issue an edict during the above Council, according to which the Mass now will be preformed in the vernacular language, not IN LATIN. "The Council did not outright abolished Latin as the liturgical language of the Roman Rite: the official text of the Roman Missal, on which translations into vernacular languages are to be based, continues to be IN LATIN, and Latin can still be used in the celebration." - Wikipedia

    - Of all the ENRICO's in the world, he had to walk into Berlinguer.
    - TILSIT sounds so clumsy, it's an awkword[sic]. By its looks it should be spelled SITSTILL.
    - STINKAT reminded me of Lisa Kudrow.
    - As the PD tries to decide who would make a good informant, they test multiple sources. The data collected during the initial testing period is called STOOLIE samples.

    The feud between G.F. Handel (1685-1759) and Giovanni Bononcini (1670-1747) was satirized by the following little rhyme written by John Byrom (1692–1763):

    Some say, compar'd to Bononcini
    That Mynheer Handel's but a Ninny
    Others aver, that he to Handel
    Is scarcely fit to hold a Candle
    Strange all this Difference should be
    'Twixt TWEEDLE-dum and TWEEDLE-dee!

    Here is No.8 of the Préludes, Book.I, by Clawed Debussy called "La fille aux cheveux de LIN" (Très calme et doucement expressif)

    Have a very calm and sweetly expressive Friday.

    Benko 11:13 AM  

    Made it to Stamford. I would like to be the best competitor who spends his non-solving time this weekend drinking cocktails and beer. A laudable goal!

    Ruth 11:26 AM  

    I took 2 courses at Utah State U in the summer of 1970--my dad was teaching there for the summer term--and oddly enough, that just came up in conversation this morning before I had even seen this puzzle. Hmph.
    I always know Tilsit because of multiple hearings of the Monty Python Cheese Shop Sketch.

    Joseph Michael 11:27 AM  

    Liked the surprise of a theme on Friday and the Utah shapes in the grid. My fastest Friday ever.

    Some great fill, such as PEACH PIT, STOOLIE, and TWEEDLE, and clever clues, especially for 33D and 37D.

    For 52A, however, "Do poorly" is not parallel to "STINK AT" since the former requires a preposition to link to an object. Otherwise, for example, "I do poorly at math" would translate into "I stink at at math."

    Lost clue for 11D:
    Table scraps for the burro - ASS ORTS

    Nancy 11:28 AM  

    @lms -- Wow, indeed! I absolutely love demonstrations of things and this is clearly one of the most amazing demonstrations I've ever seen. David Kwong has to be an absolute genius. Thanks so much for bringing the video to our attention and providing the link.

    Masked and Anonymo3Us 11:45 AM  

    @Zeke: ASS MINTS?

    Like the black squares indicate:
    * 3 thUmbsUp.
    * 3 thUmbsdown.
    * 2 thUmbs undecided or hitchhikin.

    * Primo weejects: ISS. SHH.
    * NEBO. State handle, to the bros in Omaha.
    * ENDHOUSE. U can't make this stuff up.
    * ALAMORTTABERNACLECHOIR. Hear they can really rip into a funeral dirge.
    * Only 3 U's in a puz about Utah?
    * Wanted ZAPBEAM, at 53-A. Aw, assmints. DNF.
    * Poor HOI clue. Better: {Endless choir with no high-Cs??}.
    * ITES.
    * All Greek townships. But admire the desperation that clearly went into it.

    New at the ACPT this year: Final 3-way contest will not be a puz. Champ is whoever can sink the most freethrows. And everybody knows the venue was changed to Utah, right? Enjoy!


    old timer 11:50 AM  

    I did not see IONRAY, and left in "Iop Ray" because I just *knew* "isotope" was right.

    Except for that part, the entire puzzle was way too easy for a Friday. And the fill was ugly. I got all the long words with scarcely a thought -- especially CONSESTOGA.

    TILSIT was not hard. I've eaten it, domestic and imported, though the best I had was actually at Lake Thun in Switzerland, and, I think, made nearby.

    I don't get Rex's objection to INLATIN. But I share his objection to STS MIA ENT all next to one another. I'll add the ugly ISS ITES and the poorly clued ALAMORT and HIPSTER and TWEEDLE. Especially that last one.

    My writeovers were few. ATMS, which I did not believe because I could not see someone going through withdrawal AT MS (good clue there, I think). And I had "nearer" before ASSISTED gave me DEARER.

    I wonder if this was a maiden effort for Mr. Kwong, held in Shortz's Slushpile for a couple of years.

    Anonymous 11:51 AM  

    I'm mostly with Casco Kid on ISOTONE. I knew it couldn't be ISOTOPE (I sold tritium and a bunch of others for a dozen years), but didn't trust NYT. And I have to admit I had never heard of ISOTONE despite having a few years of chemistry under my belt. And in some ways it's a bit of a gimmick - mostly a novelty of the Periodic Table. Change the number of protons and you change the atom to another element (and it's reactivity). Isotopes have utility. Isotones do not. But I'm open to correction. (and btw the built in spell checker on this site, doesn't like isotone one bit).

    Ellen S 11:51 AM  

    I wanted to read the comments before getting lost in the links (golf,loofah or otherwise), but hope I get to them. I thought the puzzle was easy, except I DNF because for some reason I put lASES at 39A, giving me "LILSI_" for the cheese. I thought it was going to be one of those snacks like the Laughing Cow or those little goudas or whatever they are, or string cheese. A while back I saw some cheese product wrapped in bacon at Whole Foods (of all places), so why not some kid-cheese called "Lil Sis"?

    And before I go to Loren and AliasZ's links, I have to look up Tilsit. I've heard of it, but didn't know it was special for being pasteurized. At the Farmers Market, there's a stand that sells Raw Milk Cheddar as well as "not Raw Milk" Cheddar, so I figured the norm for cheese was "not raw" = pasteurized. And as for cows' milk, well, again, the labeling sometimes says sheep or goat, but most of the cheeses are cow.

    Back to the puzzle, although it was awfully easy for a Friday, that gave me a chance to catch up and get here before tomorrow. Glad I did; the comments are highly fun today. Thank you all for your cleverness.

    old timer 11:59 AM  

    Oh. Another problem with STS as clued is that Francisco St is barely known even to San Franciscans unless they live in the neighborhood. Unlike California, which has a cable car and some famous hotels.

    Probably most solvers had to take it on faith that both streets exist.

    wreck 12:06 PM  

    I liked this David Kwon "trick" much better than the "TED Talk" demonstration that caused so much anguish when Will published it on the same day!

    mac 12:08 PM  

    Easy Friday, and at first glance I wasn't very happy with all those big black shapes minimizing my words.

    Perfectly doable, even when you have never seen the word tweedle before. Spell check doesn't like it.

    I'm pretty sure "deme" has two syllables in Greek.

    Two hours "til departure for Stamford!

    mathguy 12:11 PM  

    @Roo Monster: Thanks. I was serious.

    @Joseph Michael: I agree with your criticism of the clue for 52A. But when similar transgressions have been pointed out in the past, no one seems to care very much.

    r.alphbunker 12:14 PM  

    @Casco Kid

    Someone in the 2014 tournament who finished all 7 puzzles with no mistakes in the maximum amount of time allowed for each puzzle would have scored 8190 which would have been good for 358th place (out of 580). Those 25 points you get for each minute under the allotted time really matter.

    These are the scoring rules:
    10 points for every correct word entered across and down;

    25 bonus points for each full minute you finish before the time limit. However, this bonus is reduced by 25 points for each letter that is omitted or entered incorrectly, up to, but not beyond the point the bonus returns to zero;

    150 bonus points for a complete and correct solution

    I am sure there are times when your score will be higher if you hand in an incomplete puzzle early rather than eat up your time bonus on answers you may not get anyway.

    Good luck. May the correct answers occur to you first!

    Lewis 12:20 PM  

    Factoid: HORSEs have bigger eyes than any other mammal that lives on land, and each eye has three eyelids.

    Quotoid: ". I am the literary equivalent of a BIG MAC and fries." -- Stephen King

    RooMonster 12:21 PM  

    Ha! Awesome remembrance!
    Not much call for it around here.
    Not much ca..., it's the single most popular cheese in the world!
    Not round here, sir.

    Classic MPFC


    M and Also 12:30 PM  

    @Casco, r.alph: OTOH, ACPT puz score loses 25 points of the time bonus, for each incorrect letter, tho...

    Go, @Casco!
    Go, @BobK!
    Go big, @mac!

    What tv channel is the ACPT live coverage on?


    AZPETE 12:33 PM  

    F'ing AMAZING!

    Steve J 12:36 PM  

    Re: IN LATIN. Yes, it works with the clue. It would be a poor crossword puzzle if it didn't. I think the objection is that, looking at it in isolation, it doesn't look like great fill. Remember, the fill typically comes before the clues. I didn't dislike IN LATIN as much as Rex, but I didn't find it to be great fill. It looks like a partial, because on its own (without reference to something), it's kind of meaningless.

    @NCA President: South Park is set in Colorado, not Utah.

    @grammar nazi: Unless I'm missing something, all of the examples cited by @anon 10:13 a.m. have verb-preposition constructions, except for USED TO BE.

    @Benko: A worthy goal. I wish you great success in your endeavor.

    @old timer: I never lived in the Marina or Telegraph Hill, but I had no problem recognizing Francisco St. Probably because there's a stoplight there as you head to the Golden Gate Bridge just after Lombard curves north.

    Don McBrien 12:38 PM  

    I don't think the answer for 52A agrees with the clue. "Does poorly" is STINKS. It can't be STINKS AT unless there's an "at" in the clue.

    Don McBrien 12:42 PM  

    Sorry, "Do poorly" and STINK. My gripe does not agree with the puzzle. :)

    Point still applies, though.

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    Dunkle 12:57 PM  

    @Don McBrien -

    I do math poorly.

    I stink at math.

    Michael Hanko 1:05 PM  

    Considering the tricky bent (bent bent?) of the constructor of today's puzzle, and the fact that today is the opening of the ACPT, I am left wondering if there is something additional to be revealed as regards the Utah grid and its ostensible weaknesses.

    r.alphbunker 1:15 PM  

    @Michael Hanko

    Interesting. Utah Beach was the code name of one of the landing beaches at the invasion of Normandy on D-Day. A definition of D-Day is "the day on which an important operation is to begin or a change to take effect." The ACPT begins today.

    wreck 1:25 PM  

    @Michael Hanko

    Interesting!! I'm now looking for a "meta!" We have "Utah", maybe "Beach" (or the like) is in there!

    Fred Romagnolo 1:30 PM  

    @AliasZ: Wasn't there also a big Handel-Piccini rivalry? (spell Check doesn't like Piccini) I learned ISOTONE today, also TWEEDLE. No one's pointed out that NEBO is from the O T, and TABITHA from the N T and they cross. I'm not sure why ROLL is a sushi selection (anyone?). "Peril at ENDHOUSE" is one of those David Suchet Perots that have been endlessly repeated on PBS; things I'm familiar with instead of Harry Potter stuff.

    Don McBrien 1:31 PM  

    Thanks, Duncle. I see it now. Kind of.

    Anonymous 1:31 PM  

    I'm confused--does this mean my isotoner gloves have an extra proton?

    Anonymous 1:35 PM  

    @Nancy likes demostrations of things. She must therefore be a big fan of the Kama Sutra.

    grammar nazi 1:44 PM  

    Ok, let's take a vote: who thinks the "at" in STINKSAT or the "to" in LEADSTO are prepositions? If you do, please use it it in a sentence and point the preposition out to me. Can we all at least agree that USEDTOBE does not contain a preposition?

    grammar nazi 1:46 PM  

    Reminds me of the old joke:

    Prospective student: "Excuse me, where is the library at?"
    Harvard senior: "Here at Hahvahd, we never end a sentence with a preposition."
    Prospective student: "O.K. Excuse me, where is the library at, *asshole*?"

    dk 1:54 PM  

    🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

    Just could not get traction on this one.

    @zeke, Ayn Rand in her magazine the Objectivist used to rant about Emanuel Kant the same way you go on about Duchamp. I point this out if you need additional bombasts.

    So the whole puzzle was a mess for me as I kept thinking about the joke:

    What do you call an ill informed choral group that performs for apples and low calorie cola?

    The Moron Tab and Apple Choir.

    As one can easily see the joke is woven throughout the puzzle.

    Egads! Time to don the isotoner slacks and TASSELED mocs and get those kids off my lawn.

    Ellen S 2:06 PM  

    "at-sign" Grammar nazi, I have reluctantly accepted that the meaning of words changes over time with (mis)usage, meaning that we get to vote on definitions. But voting on parts of speech ... I dunno.

    I'm not going to get into the adverbs vs prepositions fight. I'm too far removed from the days when I could diagram sentences. I was always shaky on tenses, having opted for French instead of Latin. In English they never drilled us on tenses, and time has erased what little I was taught. I have a dim sense of past, present and future, but as my own future gets shorter, and my past gets longer, ... what I mean is, everything seems to be past tense.

    I'll stop here.

    grammar nazi 2:15 PM  

    Ugh. The point is that in the sentences "I STINKAT math" or "adultery LEADSTO misery" there are no prepositions. Period. @Steve J @ 1236, without question, you are definitely, indubitably missing something. I suppose if you said "I didn't shower today and now I STINKAT the library," "at" would be a preposition. This was not at all the meaning of the clue.

    Carola 2:33 PM  

    @loren - Thanks for the nice nod to the Badgers. Man, that N.C. team can shoot!

    Steve J 2:41 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Trombone Tom 3:07 PM  

    The curmudgeon meter did not hit the pin today, but I disagree with OFL about IN LATIN which to me is squarely in the language. Overall a fun and easy puzzle. Blown away by the Kwong video.T

    Steve J 3:07 PM  

    @grammar nazi: It took me a while, but the cobwebs finally cleared. "At math" is an adverbial phrase in the example sentence, not prepositional. As would be the case for the other instances.

    english teacher 3:09 PM  

    You are both correct--some people would think of "stinks at" or "leads to" as phrasal verbs, where "at" and "to" are particles, part of the verb phrase. Some people would call them prepositions. Nobody cares.

    grammar nazi 3:36 PM  

    Wiki makes this clear as mud: "A verb combined with a prepositional adverb is called a phrasal verb only if the verb's meaning is changed by the prepositional adverb." I think this is what we've got here. So we have a phrasal verb and/or a prepositional adverb, but not a preposition. Even nazis can learn something once in a while.

    RAD2626 3:48 PM  

    @LMS @wreck
    I enjoyed the TED talk too but I think that all works if Gwen is a plant. Still, the puzzle construction is a pretty mean feat.

    Rug Crazy 4:09 PM  

    END HOUSE - Last attached condo in the building

    TWEEDLE - Dum or Dee from Wonderland

    AL AMORT - Hit Man from Napoli

    Lin - Jeremy of the Lakers

    Repeals - Takes Wallpaper off again

    Unknown 5:15 PM  

    Sorry, but a ray gun would not fire ion beams, except perhaps alpha particles. Would not be a very dangerous ray gun at that point.

    Dorothy Biggs 7:06 PM  

    @Steve J: South Park (and Matt Parker and Trey Stone) make fun of Mormons endlessly. Check their films out on Netflix...

    Z 7:13 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Z 7:15 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Z 7:16 PM  

    This might help. The AT in STINK AT unequivocally is a preposition. The TO in USED TO BE is equivocally a preposition.

    @english teacher - interesting assertion to make when there is clear evidence to the contrary. Perhaps, "Most people don't care" would be more accurate. Of course, "those people" don't visit this blog much.

    grammar nazi 7:28 PM  

    @Z you did a very nice job citing a reference that completely contradicts the point you are trying to make. Yes, "at" can be a preposition, and as every example on the page you refer to says, "at" is a preposition when followed by a place or time (real or metaphorical). "Math" is neither a place nor a time, so in the phrase "ISTINK at math," "at" is a particle in a phrasal verb, or it is part of a prepositional adverb, but it is most definitely not a preposition. And what makes your comment look even more ignorant (to the point of embarrassment) is your assertion that the "to" in USEDTOBE might be a preposition. It is part of an infinitive, and the "to" in infinitives is absolutely not a preposition, it is merely part of the infinitive form of a verb.

    Anonymous 7:52 PM  

    GN - Blah, blah, blah.

    Z 7:53 PM  

    @ GN - I think you're defining "preposition" too narrowly. It is never "I stink at". You have to "stink at something." The most important sentence in the link is the first, "A preposition describes a relationship between other words in a sentence." One could write a sentence absent a relationship, "I stink." Add "at" and you have to complete the relationship. Now, if you want to debate if "math" fits better in the set "place" or the set "time" I bet we could really tick off @english teacher.

    Way over my limit again, so "until tomorrow."

    grammar nazi 7:57 PM  

    @Z: Title of the piece you referenced:

    Locators in
    Time and Place."


    Vladimir Putin 8:58 PM  

    You all ignored me last week. Do I have any takers now? It will cost a litter more - I'm thinking half of Lithuania -but trust me, it will be worth it.

    peta 10:10 PM  

    But vlad, what will you do with all of those puppies?

    Vladimir Putin 10:36 PM  

    @peta - русский автозамены (Russian autocorrect), coupled with is notoriously bad, turning немного (little) into приплод (litter). BTY, spelling nazis are included in the package along with grammarians.

    Putin a new translate pkge 4:39 AM  

    By the yay, Vlad?

    Loren Muse Smith 5:50 AM  

    @The Particle/Preposition Posse – I tried to follow the big argument over AT. Once in a blue moon I try to get my mind around whatever difference there is between a verb particle and a preposition, but I just never can decide and give, uh, up.

    All I can say is sometimes the little guy feels like it belongs more to the verb:

    Oh – you have a dictionary? Look up "her skirt."

    And sometimes it feels more like it belongs to the noun:

    Oh – you have a mirror? Look up her skirt.

    Forced to come down on either side, before truly giving it a lot of thought – Maybe you could call it a particle if it can end a clause and make sense (without referring back to some kind of object):

    He ran off.
    She threw up.

    But a preposition if you can't end a clause with it.

    How do you usually perform in math class? I do poorly.
    How do you usually perform in math class? *I'm bad at.

    I guess I'll go stand among those in the "I really don't care so much" group. Ridiculously, I worry more about whether a word is a participle or an adjective. But I've never looked into this question seriously.

    Leapfinger 7:33 AM  


    Love your stuff, Lady. You have a curious (in at least 2 senses) and twisty mind.

    Based on your examples, I'm thinking that maybe the official grammarian rules and regs wander into strained territory when they wander into colloquialisms.

    For example:
    'She threw up' was once a stand-alone 'she vomited'. Maybe that led to 'upchucked' and 'chucked up' and led to this whole misleading impression that the chucking is 'up', when in reality we all know it's much more a horizontal slash downward phenomenon, with a definite lateral component. Me, I think that 'spewing' is good.

    Less graphically, 'ran off' used to be simply a single word like 'fled' at one time, with no 'on' or 'off' required, since obviously, the running was 'on' the ground surgace, and the 'off' is senseless, since it implies what else but running 'off' the face of the earth? It used to be a personal bugbear to view 'running off' as a first step on the road to perdition: that goes back to hearing a local newscaster report that 'the suspect took off running'. I thought there should be better role-modeling on TV; use as colourful phrasing as you like in casual conversation.
    So don't you think 'scarpered' is a great word?

    ps. I used to perform in math class until Teach told me to sit down and behave myself.

    pps. Your posts are insightful and always a delight to read. You'd get many more replies and acknowledgments if people weren't so much in awe.

    Steve J 11:07 AM  

    I know pretty much nobody is reading the continued grammar discussion, but @Z, I know you follow the email threads:

    The "to" in USED TO BE is unequivocally not a preposition. TO BE is an infinitive. Also, prepositional phrases need to end with a noun (or at least feature one; I'm sure it's possible to find a construction where the noun may not be at the end), and BE certainly doesn't fit the bill.

    As for the others, I still argue that in a sentence like "I suck at math", the "at math" part is functioning as an adverb. The others are phrasal verbs (a term I wish I would have recalled yesterday).

    And, ultimately, none of this matters. I enjoy geeking out on this stuff, but I fully recognize it's geekery in the extreme. The key thing with any language is, are you expressing things in a way that is easily understandable by your audience. Grammar's just our attempt to document the systems by which we understand each other and each proficient speaker of a language knows at a pretty inherent level.

    Unknown 9:57 PM  

    Late report from Stamford. I'm oh-for-six and am ranked 550th. No shows are ranked 568th, so I'm pretty near the bottom. Lots of really superior Solvers here. First and sixth puzzles were easy except for a couple of clues that were gottchas. With enough time, I may have seen into the blind spots and finished every puzzle with the possible exception of 5. I won't say any more.

    Had dinner with Rexites Bob Kerfuffle, Tita, Dave. I met Arlene briefly.

    Rex didn't show. I'm disappointed, but then, why should I be disappointed? Unsurprising things should not be disappointing.

    I am an hour into today's Steinberg. About half way through. I must be mired in wrongness. If only Incoud tell where. . . .

    Z 10:10 PM  

    @Casco - 1:08 for a DNF here. Classic natick. I saw Rex tweet to the effect that he wishes he were there.

    Anonymous 8:54 AM  

    isn't utah in the sweet 16 of the ncaa tourney?

    Ellen S 3:20 PM  

    Oh, dang. I typed a whole long boring comment about why I never praise @Loren (inspired by @Leapy's post earlier), and was scrolling down to the "Publsh" button when I dropped the iPad. In grabbing it, I discovered that there is some gesture that brings up an "Undo Typing" option. Since in the course of the fall-and-grab I had also injected some extraneous letters into my completed post, I tapped "okay", and... deleted my entire post. Cmd- oh. I typed Cmd-V instead of Z, so maybe I could have undone the delete. But then the page reloaded.

    And this is why I don't post as often as some of you.

    But @Loren, I love reading your posts, and reading them is much safer than trying to write my own.

    Ellen S 3:20 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Ellen S 3:20 PM  

    Oh, dang. I typed a whole long boring comment about why I never praise @Loren (inspired by @Leapy's post earlier), and was scrolling down to the "Publsh" button when I dropped the iPad. In grabbing it, I discovered that there is some gesture that brings up an "Undo Typing" option. Since in the course of the fall-and-grab I had also injected some extraneous letters into my completed post, I tapped "okay", and... deleted my entire post. Cmd- oh. I typed Cmd-V instead of Z, so maybe I could have undone the delete. But then the page reloaded.

    And this is why I don't post as often as some of you.

    But @Loren, I love reading your posts, and reading them is much safer than trying to write my own.

    Ellen S 3:25 PM  

    And then the Publish button didn't seem to work, so I pressed it again. And again. And another time. Finally the page refreshed and my post appeared multiple times. Google let me delete couple of them, and then said (even though I'm signed in below) that I don't have authority to view this page. The one I'm viewing. And signed in to (what part of speech is that?).

    So I'm going away now before I do any more damage. (I worked for IBM for 28 years. In a technical position. Sad how easily I am bested by technology.)

    Unknown 3:56 AM  

    I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity. See the link below for more info.


    Anonymous 10:43 AM  

    brian B @ 12:29 knows his western history. Mormon pioneers did not use Conestoga wagons to cross the plains.
    This is a Hollywood construct.
    Spoiled the puzzle for me.

    spacecraft 11:20 AM  

    Tetris, anyone? That, not UTAH STATE, was my first impression. But what's this? A THEMED Friday?? Too bad; it took a potentially challenging grid and turned it into easy-medium.

    I bet there was a time when OFL USEDTOBE a fun guy; that time's gone. OK, this isn't perfect: he who GRABSAT partials ISA constructor who STINKSAT grid-filling. So does one who uses S-filled crutches like ASSORTS and ASSISTED. But there's lots of stuff to enjoy, the SW corner, e.g. TWEEDLE is fine; most of us associate the word with -Dum and -Dee, and thus dismiss it as nonsensical. My experience was not nearly as joyless as OFL's. Let's call it a C. NEBO is a real outlier, or it might've been a B-.s

    eastsacgirl 12:18 PM  

    Hand up for ISOTOpE. Was feeling so smug. Finally sussed it out. One missed letter. Pretty easy for a Friday. Have an issue with calling a BIGMAC a sandwich. .. a burger is a burger. Don't care what OED says.

    rondo 1:43 PM  

    Also had ISOTOpE, until it was obviously wrong. That was my only write-over square today. This puz was not terrible, also not great.

    Sort of accidentally visited Temple Square several years ago. It's worth spending a few hours there at least. My wife, a godless Commie, thought it quite interesting. Me too.

    Interesting to note there is a distinction between the CONESTOGA and plain covered wagons. The CONESTOGA was angled out in front and back and was too heavy to pull the long distances across the prairies. The prairie schooners were smaller, and shaped more like a box than like a boat. Huh.

    This was a tolerable "themed" Friday.

    Burma Shave 2:05 PM  


    The HIPSTER USEDTOBE hassled,
    it BEATSME just why he wrassled
    and ASSISTED the stripper
    when he GRABSAT her zipper
    and suddenly she USEDTOBE TASSELED.


    today’s stream of unconsciousness not sponsored by the LATTERDAYSAINTS

    rain forest 2:37 PM  

    Chenistry guy here. ISOTONE was a gimme. I also like Tilsit, and most, cheeses.

    My goal when solving a crossword puzzle is to enter what I know, and to analyze the clues for their multiple meanings to see what the answer can/must be. My goal is definitely not to discern what is "wrong" with a puzzle. I still don't understand why partials are frowned upon. My grammar is OK, I think, but I'd have a hard time using grammar nomenclature to point out what mistakes people might make. If there are a lot of plurals, I don't care. If a learn a new term, place, religion, etc. that's a bonus.

    Where I tend to struggle while solving is when particular American spelling, people, cities, amendments, etc. are referred to.

    All this to say that I mostly dislike @Rex's analysis and tone. My moderate skill at solving, and my lack of knowledge of crossword arcana, combined with my quest for a pleasant diversion, have me in the "liked it" camp pretty well every day. I'd say this IN LATIN if I knew any.

    Anonymous 4:20 PM  

    Bueno, bueno, Rain Forest. From where I stand we are kindred souls when it comes to cw puzzes.

    Have to admit, I left in Isotope so my ray guns emit iopbeams. Everyone on the West Coast should be familiar with Tilsit.

    Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum I told my alter-ego I aced it. I lied and now my nose looks funny.

    Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA

    leftcoastTAM 5:19 PM  

    Mostly easy for Friday, but not quite. Wife helped me with TILSIT, and I misspelled CaNaSTOGA and TABaTHA on my own. Thus a big DNF in the upper middle.

    Fortunately, @Burma Shave gave me something to chuckle about at the end, which he almost always does.

    sdcheezhd 2:01 AM  

    No problem w INLATIN. Made me realize tres mal was wrong. Really? Tres mal is a perfect fit yet wrong?

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