Tamiroff of Anastasia / WED 5-27-15 / Jazz players are incapable / Transport in Ellington tune / Singer Perry opted out / Drying-out woe for short / Female producer of lanolin / Ipana competitor / Often-punted comics character

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Constructor: Jim Quinlan

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Contraction/negation — Ordinary words / phrases the end with letter strings that sound like ordinary verbs (e.g. CAN, DID, etc.) have a negative contraction (e.g. "N'T") added to the end and are reclued in a fittingly wacky way:

Theme answers:
  • ANI MUSTN'T (18A: Singer DiFranco should heed a warning) (no "?" on these clues?)
  • CATS CAN'T (23A: Jazz players are incapable)
  • BUSH WASN'T (35A: W. never existed)
  • MATH ISN'T (49A: Calculus disappears)
  • KATY DIDN'T (55A: Singer Perry opted out)
Word of the Day: BUSHWA —
  1. rubbish; nonsense. (google)
• • •

This is bizarre, but not without charm. The concept is creative, but the execution's a bit wobbly. ANI MUSTN'T takes the theme off the rails a bit, as ANIMUS requires the addition of T + N'T to get to wackiness. That is, ANIMUS doesn't end in "MUST," while CAT SCAN *does* end in CAN, MATHIS *does* end in IS, etc. There's the appearance of a verb at the end of all the other theme answers. Further, BUSHWAS—in the plural—is exceedingly rare. It's just not word you'd ever see pluralized. If you google it in quotation marks, you get words lists, and only 7000 or so hit total. FATWAS works better, though it would be pretty hard to clue FAT WASN'T in a plausible way (though it couldn't be much less plausible than the clue for MATH ISN'T). My point is that this puzzle's wacky ambition is adorable, but the assembled themers are not all ready for prime time. Still, I'll take the creative concept that doesn't *quite* come off over a tired concept with all its papers in order.

There are come cool juxtapositions in this grid. I like that the A-TRAIN has pulled up to the STAtion, and that VAN GOGH sits ambivalently between highbrow museum ART and lowbrow museum gift-shop TOTE BAG. I still can't bring myself to accept that a SKIBOB is a thing. I've tried. It's not taking. I had no idea who that AKIM guy was. I had him as an ARAM (8D: Tamiroff of "Anastasia"). My QUITS started out as RESTS. Beyond that, I had zero trouble with this puzzle, which was both smooth and easy. I see that there are some stray not-great answers (CDL, OLA, ITE, AKIM), but they really don't get in the way of puzzle pleasure. If suboptimal stuff is fairly rare and easily dealt with, then I don't care. So this week has started with three puzzles in a row where the fill has been acceptable or better. I have this weird feeling of optimism. I'm sure it's unfounded, but I'm going to enjoy it while it's here.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


George Barany 12:09 AM  

Congratulations to @Jim Quinlan for his New York Times debut!

The Family Pet 12:09 AM  

ANIMUS is a real thing. I know what a CAT SCAN is. I just learned what a BUSHWA is. We all know what a KATYDID is.

What the heck is a MATHIS? It can't just be a proper noun, right?

Pete 12:18 AM  

So, you add a TNT, a T, a SNT (I demur on BUSHWAs), and 2 NTs, and you have a theme? In what universe? Four words and a Johnny MATHIS? Epic fail, theme-wise, and since it fills the grid with nonsense, epic fail grid-wise.

RAD2626 12:25 AM  

"Chances Are" it is indeed Johnny.

Thought the puzzle was very easy to solve. Liked all four east sevens: SASHIMI, TOTE BAG, VAN GOGH and TINY TIM. West sevens not as colorful, although BIG EARS could have been yesterday's Newman.

Theme was odd but easy to get. And always great to see ANI DeFranco, even if her theme answer was totally off the wall.

Congrats to Mr. Quinlan on his debut.

mathguy 12:25 AM  

Is Rex going soft on us? After pointing out clearly why the theme doesn't work, he seems to approve. Face it: it's a botch. Shortz should be embarrassed.

jae 12:34 AM  

This was easy-medium for me and I also think the theme has problems. That said I'm with @Rex on the fill and the clever attempt at something different. So, liked it. For those of you wondering what Will was thinking, here is what he had to say at Xwordinfo:

Will Shortz notes:
Is today's theme consistent? It depends on how you interpret it. By spelling, no ... but phonetically, yes, it works.
KATYDIDN'T, MATHISN'T and BUSHWASN'T are pretty tight. These all add -N'T to familiar words/names to turn a verb at the end into a negative contraction. So far so good.
CATSCAN'T is slightly different, but not in a bad way. Because CAN already ends in an N, you only need to add -'T to complete the contraction. Probably not many solvers will be bothered by that.
The sticky example is ANIMUSTN'T, which adds -TN'T. That would be a deal-breaker — reason for instant rejection — if the theme's consistency were judged solely by spelling. But since the first T of ANIMUSTN'T is silent, this theme example works likes the others when said out loud. So the whole theme is consistent in that way.
Some solvers may object to the puzzle's loose phonetics. Technically, MATHIS ends in an "s" sound, which turns into a "z" sound in ISN'T. Also, the "a" sounds in BUSHWAS ("ah") and WASN'T ("uh") aren't quite the same. You have to say these two examples quickly for them to work.
I'm willing to do that for such a fresh, amusing, and otherwise super-specific theme.

Whirred Whacks 12:36 AM  

Nice puzzle. I enjoyed the goofy theme.

OBAMA deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize?

Yeah, that worked out well.

dmw 12:42 AM  

Thanks @jae for the reporting of Will Shortz.

George Barany 12:48 AM  

@Whirred Whacks, I think the OBAMA clue was an attempt to be fair and balanced with respect to BUSH_WASN'T, but what do I know.

Anonymous 1:15 AM  

Posters are correct MATHIS does not belong with the other common nouns. Epic fail is correct.

Anoa Bob 1:34 AM  

I thought the theme was several words or phrases---ANIMUS, CAT SCAN, BUSHWA, MATHIS & KATYDID---that had either, in the same order, TNT, T, SNT, NT & NT affixed to their tushes to make new words or phrases of negation, contraction style (WASN'T for WAS NOT, e.g.). That's too much inconsistency, methinks.

Didn't consider the phonetic angle, and in retrospect that does work better. Still seems to be a bit of a stretch, though. I feel like some clue or entry is missing that would have told the solver to disregard the spelling and focus only on the sound.

Or how about this? Start using titles for the NYT puzzles as an easy and efficient way to add this kind of information and improve the quality of the solving experience. How difficult can that be?

Hartley70 1:47 AM  

In keeping with this "charm" bracelet of a week, I'll give Wednesday a place on the links. It's not quite as strong as the previous days because the themeless answers lack a bit of zip for me, but once I saw the themes (and it took a bit) their wackiness redeemed the puzzle. I don't think I've seen a theme like it. It certainly was easy, but that didn't detract from my appreciation. I just wish we'd gotten two for the price of one because this was over so quickly. I have great hope for Thursday!

chefwen 3:19 AM  

I was a little off with the inconsistenties of the answers, but I wasn't going to get upset by it, seemed kind of minor. Puzzle fell a little too easy for a Wednesday. I'm sure we have some tough ones up ahead, so no complaints from me.

I don't mean to get all political, but I thought OBAMA and SLIMY in opposite corners was interesting.

Lived in snow country for way too many years and never heard of a SKI BOB.

Carola 4:00 AM  

Fun to solve. I loved CATS CAN'T and the history-rewriting BUSH WASN'T. The A-TRAIN, besides being located at the STAtion, also goes nicely musically with CATS, OCTET, and LOW NOTE.

Thomaso808 4:38 AM  

I really liked this one. Had to get all the way to KATYDIDNT before I noticed the alternate parsing of the themes. No reveal needed but subtle enough to stay hidden for a while -- that makes for a great theme. Plus there were a LOT of sevens and sixes, both vertical and horizontal. Four pairs of sevens, each with an adjacent six, all crossing themes. Seems like very good construction

Funny that BIGEARS was also a common feature of W's caricatures back in the day, too.

I remember BUSHWA from a torturous DNF a couple of years ago when I was just starting to get serious about solving. Now I calmly accept the occasional DNF as an "oh, well". Rex even had one last week, right?

Anonymous 5:03 AM  

This was way too easy for a Wed. It took me 20min compared to a 30+ for a typical Wed. And yesterday's was much harder for me than a typical Tues. Strange week.

Charles Flaster 5:05 AM  

EZ and theme not needed to complete.
CrosswordEASE-- AGORA, PEG and OVA.
Liked clue for DEMISE.
Thanks JQ.

Danp 5:15 AM  

So who is going to be the first to suggest this puzzle proves OBAMA was ADOPTED and Quinlan can expect a visit from the Secret Service for exposing it?

GILL I. 6:07 AM  

I actually read Elizabeth Williams post because I can't sleep and I've already read every single book I brought up here. I'm really happy for her. She sounds like a nice person but maybe just a tad short of a CROUTON in a "Down Home with the Neelys" Caesar salad.
Jim Quinlan....I thought this puzzle was just great! It was different and I betcha TWAIN would've approved.
I did'NT know what a Fantasy league was and AKIM almost made me call it QUITS, but there was lots to ooh about.
The KATY I know always DID and every CAT I know always CAN...
Good Wed. fun solve......

cheeseguy 7:25 AM  

Theme makes no sense at all due to inconsistencies. Awful puzzle.

GeezerJackYale48 7:38 AM  

Heh-heh Rex! I remember Akim Tamiroff. One advantage to age. So OREITE for 59A? I immediately put in IDA.

Jim Walker 7:39 AM  

I thought the theme was fine and Will's defense of the seeming inconsistency was plausible. However, the puzzle only took 14 minutes. Now I have to find something on Netflix while I wait for the sun to come up. Hope Thursday is a killer. BUSHWASNT. Ojala.

Rhino 7:44 AM  

Strange and easy. After my DNF yesterday, I appreciated.

And I loved that ODIE was in there. I felt like @nancy and I had a moment.

L 7:54 AM  

One of those weird mornings when I finish the puzzle easily, but for the life of me I don't get the theme at all. Just makes no sense. Even after reading the writeup. Oh well...there's always tomorrow.

L 7:54 AM  

One of those weird mornings when I finish the puzzle easily, but for the life of me I don't get the theme at all. Just makes no sense. Even after reading the writeup. Oh well...there's always tomorrow.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

Rex doesn't know who "that AKIM guy" is. This should enlighten him:

Akim Mikhailovich Tamiroff was an ethnic Armenian actor. He won the first Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, was nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and appeared and in at least 80 American motion pictures in a career spanning thirty-seven years. Wikipedia

Z 8:06 AM  

Ahhhhh, there's my Tuesday puzzle. It even came in a minute less than yesterday's, and that was after staying up late to watch the Tiger's big bat decimate (hack into tenths that is) the Oakland A's.

I've learned to distinguish between "bad" and "I don't get it." I spent some time wondering about ANI MUSTN'T. It sounds a little like something ANI would have heard from her grandma when ANI was little, "ANI MUSTN'T touch the antique china." MUSTN'T sounds so scoldy. After spending a little time I decided it was just odd-ball enough to work. Would a non-proper noun be better than MATHIS? Sure. But ex post facto theme rules, while fine to discuss, are not deal breakers in my book. Besides, we went from noun to proper noun at ANI MUSTN'T, so going from proper noun to noun at MATH ISN'T gives the theme a nice balance.

@WW - probably not. But when your predecessor pushes Humpty Dumpty off the wall it is more than a little unfair to complain that the current guy couldn't put HD back together again.

RooMonster 8:17 AM  

Hey All !
Quirky puz today. Sorta kinda figured what was going on, but like many others here, felt it was inconsistent. Truth be told, ANIMUS is a new one on me, so that took a minute or two to parse. Thought Jim was going for a pangram, after unearthing the X and Q. But no, no J or Z. The X at square 62 could have been M, N, P, or T and still worked. Seems silly to stick an X there except to get a pangram. Just sayin.

Fill ok, however, we get PSA and GSA, ART and ANT, DTS AND QTS. Weird how we get 23 threes with only 34 black squares. Oh, and to @NCA Pres, no cheater squares! The single blocks in the W and E are tecnically not because if you remove them, the amount of answers change. I like to call them Helper Blocks, not really cheater squares, but they do help to fill puz cleaner. (At least sometimes...)

Long winded today, sorry. :-) Also, a RRN that could've been clued something like, "Semi license" or some such. Oh, just saw TWAIN and A TRAIN. One more thing, gonna Goog it after this, SKIBOB?????? Um, no.


AliasZ 8:19 AM  

My favorite comment today is by @Elizabeth Williams: well written and to the point, logically clear, succinct, insightful, fair and balanced. She deserves the No-Bell prize. Way to go, Liz.

RooMonster 8:24 AM  

Ok, just looked up SKIBOB, basically a bicycle with skis where the wheels should be. Interesting. Have seen them before, never knew the name. Learned something! Next!


aging soprano 8:25 AM  

That was Monday easy. Look how quickly I XED it, its rapid DEMISE and how early I am post posting. Maybe I was just super WAKED AFTER my kilometer plus swim in the cool pool. It is 43 C. here today! Brainboil?
Gee Jim Quinlan, I wish you could have disappeared Netanyahu while you were at it. NETANYAHOOD.

chefbea 8:26 AM  

Fun puzzle!! Got all the theme things..of course knew Johnny Mathis

Dorothy Biggs 8:27 AM  

BUSHWA. It's another one of those words that, just an hour ago, I didn't know existed. Seriously, does this freak anyone else out? I'm pretty sure there are lots and lots of English words I don't know (yet), but I figure they're more along the lines of science terms, medical terms, rapper names, etc. But this is supposed to be a "common" word...or at least it was in the 1930's or so. I'm going to call this phenomenon linguae ex nihilo and just accept that it's a thing.

It was the utter unknowing of BUSHWA(S) that messed up the theme for me. I got the "theme" from MATHISNT, CATSCANT and KATYDIDNT, or at least I thought I had a handle on it. ANIMUSTNT was a weird outlier, so I looked at BUSHWASNT to see if there was a connection/progression thing going on with NT/TNT or something. Without knowing what a BUSHWAS was, the theme was, to me, wonky.

Reading WS's defense of the puzzle, I still think it's wonky. He reasons that ANIMUSTNT can be seen as consistent when heard phonetically, but then goes on to say that two of the other themers (BUSHWAS and MATHISNT) aren't consistent phonetically. This is the very definition of wonky in my book.

Final question for constructors and Rex: a lot of the complaints about tired fill seem to dwell on three-letter answers. What other three-letter words would you consider to be acceptable? Seems like most have been used up and the ones that haven't would be so obscure that they would get complaints too. Just curious.

Long live Linguae Ex Nihilo!

aging soprano 8:29 AM  

That was Monday easy. Look how quickly I XED it, its rapid DEMISE and how early I am post posting. Maybe I was just super WAKED AFTER my kilometer plus swim in the cool pool. It is 43 C. here today! Brainboil?
Gee Jim Quinlan, I wish you could have disappeared Netanyahu while you were at it. NETANYAHOOD.

aging soprano 8:29 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
joho 8:29 AM  

Great write-up, @Rex! I do believe this is the first puzzle ever with a wacky theme that you liked!

To me, any inconsistencies in the theme were completely outweighed by its originality and freshness. I am so happy that Will took a bit of a risk in running this one. I also really enjoyed reading his rational for doing so (thanks, @Jae!)as it shows how much careful thought and consideration he puts into his evaluations.

I really enjoyed this one, thank you, Jim Quinlan, and congratulations on your debut. I'll be looking for more from you!

Andrea 8:30 AM  

We've skied consistently for the past 16 years (the northeast, the Rockies), and have NEVER heard of a skibob

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

I am with Rex today. Solve was easier than Tuesday's puzzle. The fill was nice. I knew AKIM. But the theme made not much sense. Forgive me all but KATYDID and BUSHWAS were not in my dictionary so I could not appreciate the wackiness of the theme. Never ever heard of these words before. Second I think CT scan and not CAT SCAN is the correct spelling. And finally MATHIS is not a word but a name of a singer. Ant the NT add on is not consistent. TNT, NT, SNT and NT.
But wacky it is and the fill was good.
Congratulation Mr. Quinlan! I am still working on my first one to be accepted.

Loren Muse Smith 8:33 AM  

Exactly what @joho said.

Am I the only one who put in "Briar" for "Rose from slumber?" And anyway, how does anyone even know if WAKED is "old style?" I can't use any form of that verb and always go the "Was I too loud?" route.

Also – "sno cat" before SKIBOB. Never heard of that one, but it sounds cool. As an inveterate musher (yeah, right), I have a snooty disdain for a motorized anything out in the pristine snowscape. How has this SKIBOB never been on my radar screen??

My son has his own apartment now, living alone for the first time ever, and has just visited us. Funny how guys forget their upbringing and rules. Now go back and re-examine 29A. Always a pleasant surprise in the middle of the NIGHT. Hey, Gardiner, how 'bout a, uh, heads-up next time, huh? EWE.

SLIMY crossing SASHIMI. It's not. Nattō on the other hand…slime city, man.

In Chattanooga, Roger V, Holly H, and I carpooled three times a week across town to Warner Park for AAU swim practice. There was a DQ on the way home, and while Dad never stopped for us, Dr. V and Mr. H would occasionally stop there and treat us to a cone- thanks to my sitting in the back seat quietly, desperately doing my Vulcan mind meld, willing them to stop. I always chose the dipped cone whose chocolate hardened, and I never failed to be utterly seduced by this magic. I was prone to terrible carsickness, and Roger would almost always relinquish the shotgun seat to me when his dad was driving, but when Mr. H. was driving, Holly wouldn't.

Roger, Holly, Joanne, and I had a summer RITUAL of always building forts to wage war against Davey, Eric, and other neighborhood kids. When it was pretty outside, our forts were in the woods in dug-out hills and could fit all of us. When it was rainy, mom let us put a blanket over the dining room table to hide under and concoct our elaborate plans. I tell you, though, a hidden hill fort will afford privacy and space. A table fort won't.

Jim – really nice puzzle. And your debut to boot! I loved this theme and its execution. Good job.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

Bush and Obama. Same old story: Republicans screw up the country, Democrats fail to fix it. Rinse. Repeat.

Billy C 8:56 AM  

@WW --

Re: Obama deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why not? With experience limited to a few years each as a Community Organizer, Professor, and State Senator, he was deserving of the Presidency, after all. ;-)

Actually, he's not at fault on this one; blame it on the Scandinavians, who thought it appropriate to "bless" our political wisdom in electing a black man. As to "peace," he did exit our troops from Iraq, with results we're now seeing, and the ultimate consequences of which are potentially disastrous for the US (ignoring, of course, the multitudes of already-slaughtered innocents). See, for example, Tom Friedman's column in today's NYT:


Clearly, Obama's victory stemmed in parts from his charisma, oratorical gifts, and -- sorry -- white guilt (non-PC, but facts are facts).

In a similar vein, I believe that Hillary will be elected (assuming no significant unforeseen event), in part because of gender guilt. However, in her case, we'll get an extraordinarily well-qualified president, and (to resuscitate an old phrase), "two for the price of one." And it'll be a hoot to see good ole Bill in his role as "first gentleman."

dk 8:56 AM  

🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

Thought it was Tuesday when I finished this one.

Alas there was a time when using contractions was considered poor form. Read Charles Portis' True Grit and feel how the language flows. The work contains no contractions.

I am also quite certain that a tuba has been used to hit various toons as well as a LOWNOTE

LOL moment was penning in Como instead of KATY at 55a.

Watched all 3 Mad Max films and then went to see the new one at a local Ultra Screen. Actioned packed way to spend a DREARY afternoon. If you have to spend more than the $5 matinee price: Do not!

Finally, I am so glad that CAPTCHA no robot process works so well. I wonder if Dr. Brave can keep the squirrels out of my bird feeders.

Leapfinger 9:06 AM  

Faith and AGORA! Some wordplay is based on appearance, and some is based on sound. Since they all sounded great to me, I'll trade in anybody's "Wah!" to "Wahn't more!", Along with the CATS, I'll pay the complaints SCANT attention. Appreciated the unique quirkiness of each themer.

No surprise in that, is there?... Esp considering I personally thought of:
BILL AND COOEDN'T -- when the lovey-dovey abruptly ended

That may have reached a new LOW NOTE; hope you're all logy enough not to have that put you in a DREARY PEERAGE.

Also liked AGORA VIDAL, and several other bits I won't torment yawl with (hi @NGrammar)

And now for something entirely different:

Little Sven was learning conversational French at school. He enjoyed the class immensely and was doing well until they came to the possessive pronouns. He could remember them, but really came a cropper with the pronunciation. He practiced assiduously, and finally got the hang of "mine, a moi'" by thinking 'armoire' and saying "Ah, mwah".

"Your, a toi" was a little harder, but little Sven had heard the word 'patois', so he practiced dropping the P and saying "Ah, twah".

It was the 3rd person, sing.-masc that finally did him in. Struggle as he might with 'his, a lui', he just couldn't get his tongue to slide from the L-sound directly into the 'wee' sound without letting a bit of vowel creep in. He tried and tried to develop a really quick 'wee', but finally had to settle for the SPIRIT of sayin' Louie.

(Later on, he had no trouble with the plurals 'à nous' and 'à vous', but he stayed home from school till they were done with 'à eux')

KATYDIDN'T QUITS, and she got her KIX

Thanks and congrats, Jim-not-Joe Quinlan, for a fine KIX-start. Happy ChefWen's Day to all.

quilter1 9:10 AM  

Hand up for Perry Como before KATY. I also knew AKIM, remembering him in several films. Knew BUSHWA as well. I liked this puzzle, no apologies. It seemed fresh and original. Good job, Jim.

Nancy 9:13 AM  

ODIE again! I actually came here to thank Hartley 70 for her imaginative and invaluable mnemonic device offered to me yesterday to help me differentiate between ODIE (the dog) and OPIE (the kid). And to repeat my thanks to Rhino and Anon 12:17 for their help on the same clue, in case they missed my shout-out yesterday. But even I can remember something -- even something this truly complicated and profoundly important-- when I only have to retain it for 24 hours. But the day will surely come when I'll need the mnemonic device again. Maybe even tomorrow.

I liked this puzzle. I found it silly, but amusing.

Ludyjynn 9:25 AM  

Very nice references to 4 chief executives by this constructor. That said, please stop TRADing political ANIMUS, everyone. You will not change anyone's opinion, but succeed in alienating those who do not share your views. By now, they are predictably TRITE (and I haven't been here that long!) and provide a DREARY LOWNOTE to the solve. Off soapbox.

TAMIL, who knew? SKIBOB, who knew, too?

49 Across was my fervent wish in h.s.

MARISA Tomei certainly has come a long way from "A Different World".

A quote by Mark TWAIN is a wonderful way to start my day. Thanks, JQ and WS.

Leapfinger 9:39 AM  

@GeorgeB, loved your 'fair and balanced'

@chefwen, I thought SLIMY went with SASHIMI, ie, don't eat it if it is.
As for BUSH_WASNT, that could be #1 on a wish-list...with Mission Accomplished in teeny-TINY Type.

Hi there @Gilly! Wanna take a ride on the A-TWAIN?

@Alias, hope you recover soon. Don't forget to cross DEMISE and to dot dem tees.

@Loren, at DQ, they have those fancy little tables a deux. Dammit, woman, I braced myself, and still had a groan-up moment.


Hartley70 9:43 AM  

We have a family friend whose a skibobbing expert. Stop in at Pedal The Peaks in Durango, Colorado and he'll fix you right up with your very own!

RooMonster 9:55 AM  

Yes, and really dig those run-on sentences!


Airymom 9:57 AM  

My Dad would have said this is a "Tuesday situation". This has nothing to do with progressive difficulty of crosswords during the week. Let me explain.

He was originally from Germany and often used the expression that something had a "komischer Nachgeschmack", meaning a funny/peculiar aftertaste.

When I was fairly young, and not yet conversant in German, I asked him to explain the expression. Here is his explanation:

"You take the milk out of the fridge on Monday, drink it and it tastes fine. By Wednesday you drink it and it's sour. This is Tuesday and it's got a komischer Nachgeschmack."

There is something off about the theme answers--they're not good, they're not bad. They're not right, they're not wrong. They're a Tuesday situation.

So, I'm not surprised by the wide range of opinion on the puzzle.

Congratulations to the constructor on his debut. I think it's great that he thought "out of the box" and had many of us stumped.

jberg 9:59 AM  

So does everyone else not pronounce the first T in MUSTN'T? I.e., mussn't? Seems wrong to me.

Still the theme inconsistencies didn't bother me as much as MAYAS. To me, the only plural is MAYA. But I'm willing to believe that I could be wrong.

I was going to make a joke about MATHIS der Maler, but it's too complicated -- so so long until tomorrow!

mac 10:14 AM  

Rex said it: bizarre but not without charm. I enjoyed the solve!

old timer 10:31 AM  

I miss the old snarky Rex. This puzzle should have been ripped apart mercilessly. Because stupid theme badly executed.

Elephant's Child 10:33 AM  

@jberg, there's the Central American MAYA and yesterday's MAYA Lin.

Ergo, MAYAS.

Hartley70 10:34 AM  

Sorry, @gn "who's"!

Joseph Michael 10:43 AM  

OBAMA, VIDAL, VAN GOGH, BUSH, MATHIS, TWAIN, AKIM, KENNETH, TINY TIM, ART, BOB, BEN, ED, CAT, SLY, and MONTE -- the real theme of this puzzle seems to be BOY CRAZY.

Arlene 10:45 AM  

Interesting comments - the likes and the dislikes - that was my opinion as well. Felt smug finishing a Wednesday so quickly, but left wondering about this theme. I'm glad I'm so normal as to wonder about this theme!!!

h_lina_k 10:45 AM  

Hey Hey Hey! Albert never existed = FATWASN'T

RnRGhost57 10:57 AM  

Isisn't, Bushwa lied, Isis is.

Carola 11:03 AM  

@loren - It took me a second to get it...then a laugh. A RAGE I know well. My guy went to boarding school with boys and never learned. Still married after 48 years, though.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:08 AM  

Strange puzzle indeed.

Not bad, but I would have liked it more if CATSCA were something other than "California Transparency in Supply Chains Act."

@GeezerJackYale48 -- On the slim chance that you were not joking, 59 A, "Ore suffix," refers to the ending of the names of metallic ores, such as bauxITE, magnetITE, etc.

Masked and Animustnt 3 U's 11:29 AM  

I'm with @63: Funky, novel theme. I'm a sucker for that, every time. Congrats on your debut, Mr. Quinlan. We welcome all SKIBOB-ridin, SASHIMI-chewin, TWISTED SPIRIT flyers. Keep yer TOTEBAG clean and yer U count up.

Nice weeject siding job, on this here puz. CDL, ITE, DTS and OLA especially were as crisp as a Mid-fifth century CROUTON, btw. Attempts to slow M&A down, such as AKIM, SKIBOB, OESTE, and that KENNETH dude, were pretty much all in vain. Breezed threw em all like an ATRAIN thru ANTs.
The SASHI?I/TA?IL crossin was slightly more SLIMY. Lost valuable nanoseconds runnin the alphabet for a best letter cattle call. Selected candidate M, fortuitously.

Thanx to all for a fun solve that bushwasnt.



Hartley70 11:34 AM  

@Loren, you'll be pleased to know there's no motor on a skibob, but from what I've seen a death wish will come in handy.

mathguy 11:39 AM  

There are two crosswords in my local paper. One is from the LATimes, I've recently learned. Their puzzles are similar in quality to those in the NYT, according to some bloggers here. So I've started doing them. Today's is by Robyn Weintraub. It's not any harder than today's NYT but it has a clever theme and virtually no junk. In the week or so that I've been doing the LAT, I've been enjoying them more than ours.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  


Lewis 12:35 PM  

Who is this Rex???

Certainly on the easy end of Wednesday, and a cute theme. Sub theme -- three letter words ending in A: OVA, OLA, ALA (these make a word ladder), TVA, GSA, STA, and PSAS wants badly to be included. As your resident alphadoppeltotter (for reasons I may never understand), I need to report that this puzzle has a highly unusually low count of double letters (4). It has been months since that has happened.

@nca -- I had never heard of BUSHWA either...

M and Also 12:43 PM  

@muse and other Dairy Queen addicts: Top hints that a DQ stop is crucial:
[note: no scoffing. These tried-and-true methods have been painstakinly developed and perfected by young M&A and siblings and amigos over the centuries.]

* Repeatedly chanting other things that start with DQ, until parents get caught up in solving the puz theme. (Some effective starter examples: Duck Quack. Don't Quit. Doody Quail.)

* Beeping. Much more compelling than it sounds. One beep per minute, while still far from the DQ. Frequency and intensity of beeps increase, as car gets closer to the desired destination. When within one block, beepers should emote their beeps.

* Car-sickness antidote scam (yo, @muse): Get really woozy actin, followed up with a dandy "Ulp. Pull over quick!" plea, just as DQ is visually sighted. Some bogus wretching required, after jumping out of auto. Deftly followed up by the line: "Ooooh. I can usually get over it, once I have something cold inside my tummy…"

* Screaming. Scream and fight constantly, until DQ comes within view. Then solid silence, as the desired destination is being passed. Punctuated with a barely audible whimper or two. May take several trip repetitions, to start implanting.

* Negotiation. This works in rare cases, where U are willing to give up really weird behavior, for a token (DQ) reward. (Examples: "I'll stop makin runtpuzs for a month, if…" or "I'll start puttin G's on all my gerunds, if…" or "I'll give up cinnamon rolls for a week, if…"


**no gruntz, if DQ**

Lewis 12:45 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jes Wondrin' 12:54 PM  

Speaking of PEERAGE, I've always wondered at women's insisting that men put the seat down. Why women prefer that the seat be always down, just so that they don't have to assume that responsibility, is beyond me, when assumes the risk that the guy there 3 minutes ago decided to trust his aim.

KRMunson 12:54 PM  

I'm with @old timer - stupid theme poorly executed.

Strike 3 1:07 PM  

p.s. @muse... And agree, chocolate-dipped vanilla softserve cone was The Best.

And Who is this MATHIS person? Johnny Mathis? Oh, yeah ... OK.
"It's not for me to say..."

"pure Animus TNT"

Bob Kerfuffle 1:18 PM  

Can you solve the meta for this 4/6/12 Matt Gaffney puzzle?

I.e, what is the chain?

Bob Kerfuffle 1:21 PM  

Sorry, that link doesn't seem to work, and I don't know how to fix it. But anyone can find Matt Gaffney via Google.

Lewis 1:42 PM  

Factoid: MIAMI is the only U.S. city bordered by two separate National Parks (Biscayne National Park and Everglades National Park), and is the only major U.S. city to be founded by a woman (Julia Tuttle).

Quotoid: "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can STEER yourself in any direction you choose." -- Dr. Seuss

Unknown 2:20 PM  

For the skibon skeptics: www.skibob.org. The International Skibob Federation, no less.

Unknown 2:20 PM  

For the skibon skeptics: www.skibob.org. The International Skibob Federation, no less.

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

I for one am an OBAMANT. I loathe/abominate this occupier of the Oval Office.

NeilD 3:30 PM  

I know ANIMUS and CATSCAN, but I've never heard of KATYDID or BUSHWAS. Furthermore, the only MATHIS's I know are in sports and none of them are really good enough to be in the crossword (in my opinion).

Abigail Rogers 3:39 PM  

I hope this isn't too much of an intrusion, but I feel compelled to do this. My husband Caleb Rogers, whom you knew as Zeke, passed away last Saturday. This crossword blog was one of the few things in life he was able to find pleasure in the past few years, and for that I thank you all. I never understood any of it, but he said at least here a few people "got him", so I'm thankful to those of you who did.


chefbea 3:42 PM  

@Abigail Rogers So sorry for your loss. We will miss Zeke

GILL I. 3:56 PM  

Oh my...Abigail. I'm so sorry for your loss. @Zeke always had great comments - funny, interesting, never political! I will miss him loads. Really....I'm so sad...

Whirred Whacks 4:17 PM  

@Abigal Rogers
Thanks for sharing the sad information about your loss. My condolences to your family.

Hartley70 4:24 PM  

Oh no Abigail, I'm deeply sorry. You are not intruding at all. It is so very kind of you to let us know of your loss. Although in most cases we remain anonymous, over time we learn so much of our fellow commentators thoughts and personalities that we become friends. Zeke will be very missed here.

r.alphbunker 4:35 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
r.alphbunker 4:41 PM  

Chain Letters. The meta answer is a fast food chain. You can print the puzzle from the browser.

I am sad to hear the news about Zeke. His posts were always witty and articulate. Was he a writer?

I still remember his post complaining about runt puzzles that inspired me to create runtpuz.blogspot.com.

joho 4:41 PM  

Oh, Abigail, your note brought tears to my eyes. Zeke was very much a admired member of this community and he will be missed.

Jim Quinlan 4:46 PM  

Hey, folks. It was a thrilling day for me to see my puzzle in NYT and to have stimulated such lively discussion. Thanks everyone.

@Abigail I don't comment often here, but I read daily. Zeke's posts were ones that I always stopped to read in full. It's great that you told us that he found pleasure here. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Lewis 5:22 PM  

@abigail -- Oh my gosh, my condolences. Zeke one of the posters who I just had to read; he had such a strong spirit. Thank you for letting us know.

Nancy 5:44 PM  

Abigail, that is such sad news. I've always thought that Zeke had one of the most interesting and original voices on the blog and I never failed to read his comments. I know he will be greatly missed here and I join the others in expressing my deep sympathy to you on your loss. It is thoughtful of you to take the time to let us know. Perhaps, at some point in the weeks or months ahead, you will want to tell us all a little more about him. I imagine he was quite an interesting person.

weingolb 5:57 PM  

@Joseph Michael Lots of boys in the puzzle, that's true. But the female persuasion also is represented:
MARISA, MAYAS, KATY, BET(te), ANI, PEG, ALA, OLA, OVA and EWE. And every time I see TWAIN, I think Shania.

I'd say the puzzle was a solid debut, with tight construction and good fill. Thanks @Jim Q.

@Abigail Rogers Very sorry for your loss. Zeke will be missed.

Loren Muse Smith 6:05 PM  

@Abigail – let me add my condolences to everyone else's. I remember Zeke because he was one of the first ones I engaged with in the whole prescriptive/descriptive grammar issue. He'll be missed here, and I'm very sorry for your loss.

Ludyjynn 6:39 PM  

Just got home and read your post, @Abigail. I am so sorry for your loss, which many here feel was our loss, as well. I, too, read his comments and will miss his insights. Please tell us more about 'Zeke', if you are so inclined. Regards to you and yours.

kitshef 6:47 PM  

Many have pointed out the numerous flaws in this not mess, but unless I missed it, none mentioned that CAT SCAN is two words, while all the others are one word. I was sure @Rex would light into this mess and am a bit disappointed that he didn't. Over-the-top umbrage, when it is deserved, is something I look forward to on this site. I do agree that the thought was nice, but the execution is pathetic.

For some reason, I was delivered a Washington Post rather then my NYT on Sunday. I am a former subscriber and so have done their puzzles before, but I had forgotten just how different they are. It took me a while to get into the puzzle as I readapted to the style - and I can't count how many times I thought 'oh, that will get savaged on Rex's Blog', only to remember that no, it wouldn't. If anyone is wondering, NYT is better overall, but also tends to have higher highs and lower lows.

Rex's Blog: Research Dept 8:20 PM  

Zeke or someone pretending to be Zeke was alive and posting at 2:03 pm Sun. He seemed witty as ever. Reports of his demise may be exaggerated. Caleb, for example?

Anonymous 8:25 PM  

I am sorry for your loss

Hartley70 9:42 PM  


GILL I. 9:54 PM  

If this is a joke, it's the vilest one I've ever heard on this blog...

Z 2:18 AM  

@Gill I. - more likely is that the Sunday posts (three of them) were from our resident imposter.

harga mobil jazz 1:15 PM  

very nice post.. great job ^^

Burma Shave 10:08 AM  


I BET KATYDIDNT have the SPIRIT to do the RITUAL last NIGHT with him,
AFTER she ADOPTED the position that her BUSHWASNT TRITE for TINYTIM.


spacecraft 11:21 AM  

I'm speechless. People LIKED this??? And the fill--the FILL, Fearless One...you see NOTHING WRONG with the FILL?????? I...I don't know where to start. I'm not going to. I will just say, added to all those other ...N'Ts: Jim, you shouldn't have. And Will: where were YOU? F.

rondo 11:32 AM  

Three decent puzzles so far this week, imagine. Even with the inconsistency of the negative contractions, it WASNT that difficult to get the joke.

Hard to figure the number of posters that didn’t know BUSHWA as a term.

MATHIS makes a return, and no, @Ron Diego, I didn’t do him.

MARISA Tomei is an always welcome yeah baby. And Shania (not Mark) TWAIN a country saingin’ yeah baby.

If you want to hit a LOWNOTE, I have an Eb tuba for sale. Great shape, low price. True.

It doesn’t make BENGAY to SKI(with)BOB.

ATRAIN a great tune, I might have to blare it out on my new speakers.

Wasn’t difficult to have the ladies in the VANGOGH at it all NIGHT, back in the day.

Enough TRITE and TWISTED commentary from me, this puz was more than OK.

packerbacker 12:17 PM  


DMG 2:43 PM  

Glad someone figured out the "theme", to me it was just some word with a negative something attached. Never saw the buried words! Didn't even catch BUSHWA which was one of my Grandmother's favorite put downs. Side note: Spellchecker wants to turn it into BUSHWALKING- guess i'll have to,look that one up!

We had rain yesterday!!!!

Waxy in Montreal 4:17 PM  

@DMG, we seem to have rain almost every day here - maybe we can arrange to ship some of it west to you.

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canucks. And Blue Jays win, Blue Jays win! Also, congrats to Team USA eliminating Germany last night here in Montreal in the Soccer Women's World Cup semi-final - good luck tonight to my native England vs Japan in Edmonton! Would love to see a USA-England final on Sunday in Vancouver.

Now, as for the puzzle, had I but known what a KATYDID was or BUSHWAS were, this would have been a lot easier. As it was, found it a pleasant, mid-week, holiday diversion. Little Havana clue very appropriate on the day (in syndiland) that the USA and Cuba announced the normalizing of relations after 50+ years.


leftcoastTAM 7:29 PM  

Solved it, but puzzled over SKIBOB, and thought MATHIS, a proper noun, was least consistent with the theme answers. Still, liked it as an easy-medium Wednesday.

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