Judge John who was Time's 1973 Man of Year / THU 6-4-15 / 1998 Sarah McLachlan hit / Girlfriend group 2002 / Many early internet adopter / Schoolmaster in Washington Irving tale / Mythical huntress / Morris signature on Declaration of Independence / Singer with 1994 double-platinum album Under Pink

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: CAVERN — Note: "This puzzle seemingly as more than one solution … but only one is 'correct.'"

Theme answers:
  • CAVERN (1A: Location containing 10-Downs and 25-Downs)
  • STALACTITE (10D: 1-Across sight)
  • STALAGMITE (25D: 1-Across sight)
The gimmick: the crosses for the "C" and "T" in STALACTITE seem correct if you write in STALAGMITE, and vice versa with the "G" and "M" in STALAGMITE. Thus
  • 28A: *Features of some front teeth = CAPS (but GAPS works)
  • 34A: *Work hard = TOIL (but MOIL works)
  • 44A: *Undermine, as a government program = GUT (but CUT works)
  • 48A: *Plural suffix with organ = ISMS (but ISTS works)
Word of the Day: John SIRICA (57A: Judge John who was Time's 1973 Man of the Year) —
John Joseph Sirica (March 19, 1904 – August 14, 1992) was the Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, where he became famous for his role in the Watergate scandal. He rose to national prominence during the Watergate scandal when he ordered President Richard Nixon to turn over his recordings of White House conversations.
Sirica's involvement in the case began when he presided over the trial of the Watergate burglars. He did not believe the claim that they had acted alone, and persuaded or coerced most of them to implicate the men who had arranged the break-in (G. Gordon Liddyremained silent). For his role in Watergate the judge was named TIME magazine's Man of the Year in 1973. (wikipedia)
• • •

The core idea here is interesting, but the fact that the joke/trick can't land w/o the note is a bit of a problem. I am curious if anyone out there (like me) failed and/or refused to read the "Note" ahead of time, and if so, if you had any trouble at all placing the STALACTITE and STALAGMITE in their correct places. Once I had STALA- at 10D: 1-Across site, I knew the answer was STALACTITE. Everyone knows that STALACTITEs stick "tight" to the roof of caverns, while STALAGMITEs rise up from the ground. So I wrote in STALACTITE and STALAGMITE in their visually appropriate places, bam bam, one two, the -TITE up top, the -MITE down below, without ever, for one second, considering that they could've been switched. Why would they be switched? Who would make a puzzle with a STALAGMITE up top—not plausible. Sooooo…. yeah, then I finished and wondered what the big deal was. Only then did I read the "Note" and see that, in theory, you could've swapped the -TITE and the -MITE and had the crosses work. The note starts, "This puzzle seemingly has more than one solution," but it never "seemed" that way to me at all. The Note is the only thing that called my attention to it. I think reading the Note ahead of time would've confused me. Again, I think this concept is interesting, but the puzzle just didn't play right. The gimmick is a post-solve curiosity, not a mid-solve challenge.

Also, the either/or concept here (where either of two different letters "works" in both the Across and Down) is not new, or, in this case, very taxing. The effected words are these weak little things, and there are just four of them. Who would guess MOIL over TOIL? Also, the "choice" between "-ISTS" and "-ISMS" is a profoundly ugly and largely meaningless one. I generally love puzzles that can pull the either/or thing off—the most famous example of the type is, of course, the rightly legendary BOBDOLE / CLINTON crossword of Election Day, 1996. But this one just didn't bring much new or delightful to the gimmick.

At 1-Across, I had -AVERN / -AMP and not idea what could go there; or, rather, I couldn't conceive of anything but "T" going there, but TAMP made no sense as clued (1D: Overly theatrical, maybe). The fill has some pretty terrible moments, most notably ADELES, some crossing Roman numerals (MCCI vs. ACTIII!?), DOSO, ENOL, both TSE and TSETSE (!!??), NEY, ROBT, AOLER (dear lord, still!?), and then a bunch of mediocre stuff. But several of the longer Acrosses were nice, if you can call DIRT STAINS nice. Can't believe COMEDY TEAM wasn't clued via Stiller & Meara. Really, really can't believe it, considering her recent death, and her crossword-common name, and her having been a crossword aficionado in real life. Missed opportunity.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    George Barany 12:06 AM  

    I figured out the gimmick of the @Joe Krozel puzzle fairly early, with mostly the top half filled in, and then my mind wandered to a wonderful 10x3 word rectangle that my friend @Noam Elkies created a few years ago. Try it, and be sure to read the notes after solving.

    wreck 12:12 AM  

    This started kind of slow and finished methodically faster as I went along. I guessed STALACTITE first before even considering the alternative. Like Rex, I would have never thought of "moil" for TOIL in the first place! Enjoyable solve and about 5 minutes faster than my normal Thursday time.

    jae 12:24 AM  

    Easy-medium for me too, and I did read the note.

    Erasure:  t'DAY (toDay, I mean the Aussies have G'Day) before B' DAY and colt before PONY. 

    Unlike Rex, I'd forgotten the "rule" so my biggest problem was trying to remember which one went up and which one went down.  Eventually I gave up and flipped a coin.  Got lucky!  (I did not factor the coin flip into my difficulty rating).

    Nice Thurs. twist.  Liked it. 

    Moly Shu 12:31 AM  

    I'm with @Rex, only considered the correct solution because I once toured some caverns I can't remember where or when or who with, the only thing I remember is something about stalactites clinging tight to the ceiling and stalagmites might reach the ceiling. Why that stayed with me is a complete mystery. The puzzle seemed very easy to me also, but the added layer of interchangeable answers was kinda cool.

    RAD2626 12:32 AM  

    Liked it all a lot, even though I never saw any note and wondered why 1) some of the clues were italicized even though the answers seemed to fit and 2) why there was no clever Thursday wordplay. Had STALA down in both answers so got overall theme right away and just blithely solved from there. Only hitch was wArnIng from the Red sky in morning ditty, then BADomen before finally scoring with BAD SIGN.

    Since I only solved it once, really very quick Thursday. Ignorance is bliss. Loved clue for cc's. Totally fooled me.

    Anonymous 12:35 AM  

    Team - I'm telling you themes are dumb. We should be able to submit the theme to the NYT after the puzzle has been printed, soft of like the "write the cartoon caption contest" in the New Yorker.

    Act III? Roman numerals again? Please stop.

    Maybe we'll see some comments on the pronunciation of moil. Rhymes with mohel?

    Hey I like the new "prove you're not a robot." Click on the three photos of sushi? sandwiches? traffic?


    Pol Pot, Mao Zedong, Saddam Hussein and Joseph Stalin 12:48 AM  

    It's fantastic to see the NYT not dwell on trivial little distractions like the murder of millions of ones own citizen and instead give ASSAD rightful credit for being a very important person.

    Anonymous 12:52 AM  

    Following the extensive commentary on Tuesday, I would say Jeff Chen likes today's puzzle less than Rex even though he is, as always, unfailingly polite with his criticism.

    Anonymous 12:55 AM  

    Rex, confusing stalagmite and stalactite is a pretty common, classic, often-joked-about-and-discussed thing. I'm pretty surprised you've never at least heard of the confusion. I think the vast, vast majority of solvers will understand and appreciate the Note.

    I learned the difference between stalactites and stalagmites in this way: Stalactites have a "C" and are on the Ceiling, and stalagmites have a "G" and are on the Ground.

    Speaking of the Note: I think it's unfair to criticize a puzzle's theme while acknowledging that you didn't read the note, when the note is part of the theme. The note is there for a reason. I appreciate that you don't like reading the notes, but realize that notes usually add something to the puzzle. Fairness dictates that you take the note into account when judging a puzzle's theme.

    Noam D. Elkies 1:06 AM  

    Thanks to George Barany for the links to my "caveat solver" puzzle - and for alerting me to Krozel's Krossword today. The printed version also draws attention to the theme by italicizing the clues for the Across entries 28/34/44/48A of the four "quantum" letters(*) so the solver is warned to consider alternatives. (I knew MOIL from the opening stanza of The Cremation of Sam McGee.) I suppose that mildly annoying fill like MCCI/ACT_III, and the unusually low word count and high "cheater" count of 70 and 6 respectively, can all be traced somehow to the unusual theme.


    (*) Can't believe Rex used "either/or" instead of "quantum". Really, really can't believe it. ;-)

    paulsfo 1:21 AM  

    Can Rex possibly be serious when he says this "At 1-Across, I had -AVERN / -AMP and not idea what could go there; or, rather, I couldn't conceive of anything but "T" going there?"

    I liked the puzzle, including the alternate entries, though I didn't know "moil."

    Anoa Bob 1:38 AM  

    If the NYT xword would start using titles for its daily themed puzzles, as is the case already for its Sunday puzzles, then there would be less need for notes like today's. That kind of info can be worked into the title. That adds another layer of interest, and even charm, if the title is cleverly constructed, for the solver. It's like getting another theme answer to the puzzle up front, for free.

    I have a fail-safe, super-easy-to-remember, visual mnemonic for the -MITE vs -TITE dealie. Look at the M in STALAGMITE. It represents two STALAGMITEs growing up from the ground. By elimination, a STALACTITE drops down from the ceiling. Combine that with the "C for ceiling" and "G for ground" mentioned by @Seth Cohen, and you should be good to go.

    AliasZ 1:43 AM  
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    AliasZ 1:47 AM  

    I said: "This must be a Schrödinger puzzle!" Joe Krozel responded: "Psych!"

    This was my kind of puzzle. How many solvers know which of the STALACTITE / STALAGMITE pair hangs or stands? An easy way to remember is: the one with a C for "ceiling" hangs, the one with a G for "ground" stands. Joe, you missed the STALAGNATE, the column formed when a STALACTITE meets a STALAGMITE.

    The crossings at CT and GM were fun too. I got stuck with gAPS and mOIL, and cUT and IStS for quite a while, which caused all sorts of headaches, not realizing that Joe had placed the two limestone cave formations appropriately hanging from the ceiling and standing on the floor of his grid. When I looked at the incorrectly filled completed grid for a while and still didn't get the happy tune, I finally got the AHA! moment, which made the whole exercise worthwhile and wildly enjoyable.

    What was less enjoyable was MISSAY, TSE and TSETSE, ADIA and ADELES, MCCI and ACTIII (two Roman numerals crossing? Ugggh!), DOSO, ROBT (who?) and BDAY (the European bathroom fixture), and the worst of all, AOLER. But I enjoyed REARMOST -- the MORASS, the better, I always say. The COMEDY TEAM of Caesar and Coca was worth the price of ADMITONE. The fact that wArnIng came before BADSIGN didn't bother me much -- just a nice misdirect there. I somehow remembered John SIRICA, I have no idea how, but I couldn't care less about TORI AMOS or NSYNC. I enjoyed the IOWA/IOTA pair too, and NY STRIPS (or Manhattan goes naked).

    I was ASSAD as could be for organIStS being squeezed out in favor of organISMS. Just for that, listen to Helmut Walcha (1907-1991), one of the great organisms [sic] of the last century playing the toccata from Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564 by J.S. Bach, and enjoy the pedals from 0:45 to past 2:00 of the clip. No hands, only feet. Some fancy footwork!

    Not unlike Krozel's excellent puzzle today. Thanks Joe.

    chefwen 1:58 AM  

    Didn't see the note, as usual. I remember the note used to be bright yellow which caught one's eye, now it's white and blends in with the puzzle. Oh well. Of course I got it backwards as I filled out 10D first and filled in MOIL which we had not too long ago in another puzzle, maybe a LAT Puzz.

    Never considered which was pointing down and which one was formed upward. Still think I was successful.

    50A could have been clued, Chefwen's skin.

    MDMA 2:35 AM  

    On the iPad app, you don't see any Note unless you make a point of clicking on the "i" button to check to see if there is one. I didn't.

    I knew the difference between stalactites and stalagmites from some childhood memory, and just shrugged off the italicization of the clues. MOIL is (would be) awfully obscure.

    7 Across needed to be wArnIng ("Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning"). But I suppose you have to be suspicious of too-obvious answers late in the week.

    Misread "Morns" as "Moms" and wondered how AMS made sense.

    Thomaso808 4:22 AM  

    "T is for TOP" is how I remember STALACTITE, which I learned on a South Dakota cave tour many years ago. Some of the other mnemonics mentioned above may be more clever, but this one works for me.

    I read the note and saw the italic clues, so I was really looking forward to a brain teaser. The answers went in pretty quickly, but unfortunately I entered EASEsBY and didn't catch it for a long time. So there I was fiddling around with all permutations of the theme answers for ten minutes thinking I was missing some subtle point, when in fact it was a dumb error not even related to the theme. What an anti-aha.

    That being said, the puzzle was fun and I learned a couple of things, though it was easy for a Thursday.

    John Child 4:24 AM  
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    John Child 6:23 AM  
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    Anonymous 6:30 AM  

    On my iPad, the "I" blinks (har) until you read the note. So many comments and nary an incivility!

    John Child 6:35 AM  

    I would have liked to see the STALAGMITE run upside down in the grid. It is Thursday, after all. The Schrodinger trick might be lost then, but that was the least interesting part of the puzzle for me. I was never going to enter mOIL, so STALACTITE was fixed in place.

    Or since it's a 70-word grid, maybe do it as Friday - a mini-theme with or without CAVERN. And an upside-down STALAGMITE too!

    I wish the fill had gotten more work to be interesting as the nice idea for the puzzle.

    Rug Crazy 6:59 AM  

    USAID?????? couldn't get an "oh yeah" out of my brain.

    I like American Passport as a clue

    Z 7:13 AM  

    Does the theme justify the dreck?

    No. But then, if you've got not one but two RRNs and they cross you are going to have to do better than fifth grade science to make your puzzle interesting.

    Loren Muse Smith 7:23 AM  

    Fun trick, though I had a tough time finding a place to start with this one. I can’t be the only one who considered “xmas” before BDAY. And I very nearly didn’t finish because I couldn’t accept ROBT as a first name that’s not an abbreviation and SIRICA is a complete unknown to me. BESOT had to be it, though, so I pulled out a victory.

    Well, not really a victory because though I finished, I, too, had failed to see the note *and* had spelled them both with a G – STALAGMITE and “stalagtite.” Cool that it’s a Schrodinger. Another great one is Tom Pepper's he did a while back as a guest at BEQ's site. I couldn't manage to embed it.


    Spelled it “Ichibod” first, working nicely with those “pin stripes” on a baseball uniform. Oh, and “throw” before DITCH.

    Of course the MISSAY piqued my interest. In our ever-evolving language, when does it go from a full-on mistake to just a variant? Meriam Webster already offers “nucular” as its second pronunciation. Yay, Mr. Webster!

    nu·cle·ar \ˈnü-klē-ər, ˈnyü-, ÷-kyə-lər\

    Other ‘mistakes” that have now graduated in Meriam Webster to “Ok, Ok, We’ll Let This Go”:

    podium - a stand with a slanted surface that holds a book, notes, etc., for someone who is reading, speaking, or teaching. See ya later, lectern. Your days are numbered.
    infer- to hint or suggest (something)
    beg the question - to elicit a question logically as a reaction or response The quarterback's injury begs the question of who will start in his place

    This next paragraph will be boring for many, but I’ll cheerfully add it, and those who don't care, just stop here. But, hey, it has to do with an entry and clue. @Steve J – come back! The phenomenon of pronouncing it “nucular” is always attributed to metathesis, just like “psketti,” “calvary” and “ask” (used to be “aks”) – that is, it shows the process of switching two sounds. I would argue that the driving force with “nucular” is rather more like vowel harmony, but I’ve just sniffed around, and apparently English has only one word that shows vowel harmony:


    And I can’t even begin to answer why I always say “fermiliar” rather than familiar.

    r.alphbunker 7:33 AM  

    I loved the theme. If the note had not been there I hope that I would have realized that the mere placement of STALAGMITE and STALACTITE was not enough of a theme for a Thursday puzzle or any puzzle for that matter and I would have uncovered the Schrodinger clues on my own.

    The halfway grid shows that I had STALAGMITE and STALACTITE reversed. What it doesn't show is the misspelling STALAGtITE. The red in the middle was ACTtwo instead of ACTIII.

    GeezerJackYale48 7:40 AM  

    I immediately filled in "warning" for 7A, which is how the sailors' ditty really goes. Then I filled in 15A with "admitone, but it didn't fit my 7A answer, so I tried "letonein". For a split second I considered that maybe there were going to be two apparently correct answers to each clue - then begrudgingly had to accept that 7A was "badsign" and the rest of the puzzle was not going to be some wild impossible fun creation. Instead, a semi-cute gimmick and too easy a puzzle.

    Dorothy Biggs 7:48 AM  


    First, reading Mr. Krozel's comments on xword kinda pissed me off. "..and I'm so naughty for this sly prank: Someone should look up what percentage of the population doesn't know which is which." It's not a prank. It's stupid because a) TOIL is far more known than MOIL, b) once you get the T, you know (because STALACTITES hold on "tight") that 10D is STALACTITE and so the other is STALAGMITE, and c) what kind of intellectual BS is this to mock solvers who don't know the difference? Heh, heh...I bet most solvers don't know what the extended solo of Sibelius' Second Symphony is so I'm going to intentionally try to trick them...ooh...naughty me.

    Second, the joke's on Mr. Krozel...while he was being all "sly" and "naughty," he put TSE in a puzzle with TSETSE. Mr. Krozel, ::ahem:: did you know that Kong-fu-tzu could be spelled a bunch of different ways? Oh wait, you didn't know that? Naughty me.

    Third, why in the name of all that is holy would you put in a "rebus," tell us about it, then take it away? This isn't trickery, it's just lame. I could make the case that if I actually did fill in the rebus as CG and TM and then turn the puzzle upside down...you know how you get turned around in a cave sometimes?...then I'd be right both ways.

    Don't even get me started on the MCCI/ACTIII crossing, or the fact that 1D should be an adjective (CAMPy = Overly theatrical, CAMP would equal "over theatrics).

    Terrible puzzle. Even worse comments from the constructor. I'm surprised Rex didn't go all Rex on this one.

    Lewis 7:58 AM  

    @aliasz -- great catch on MORASS/REARMOST!!

    I didn't see the Schrodinger angle or the note, and blithely wrote in STALACTITE and STALAGMITE in their right places without remembering which was which or thinking about their position in the puzzle, and afterward thought "this is a pretty weak theme". Now I appreciate it more, and smile at my luck and failure to see what I was supposed to see.

    Love the clues for VEST, BDAY, DITCH and PONY, and the answers CASTAWAY, ICHABOD, VANILLA, EASEDBY, MORASS, and PAPERTHIN. The puzzle felt easy for a Thursday but was still a blast to solve.

    I liked the intense verbs in the grid: GNAW/CLAW/DITCH/SLAM/GUT.

    r.alphbunker 8:03 AM  

    As M&A revealed in a clue of a recent runtpuz, the Rex Parker icon is from the cover of the 1976 book "The Galactic Invader" by James R. Berry. The artist was the Kelly Freas.. The image is a picture of Captain Keith Cranston (notice the captain bars on his collar). Here is the blurb from the back cover of the book.

    On his way to headquarters for briefing, someone tries to murder Captain Keith Cranston--an ominous start for a space mission! But this is just the beginning. As his expedition progresses, Cranston realizes that not only is his life at stake, but everyone in the vast galactic empire of the Earth Federation is in peril. Incredible as it seems to him, the entire civilization is threatened by unimaginably strange aliens. But Cranston suspects that behind these sinister creatures lurks someone who is no stranger to earth."

    Wouldn't it be awesome if James R. Berry was Patrick Berry's father? And if the person behind the sinister creatures was the editor of the NYT crossword puzzles?

    Anonymous 8:09 AM  

    Thanks for keeping an accurate body count. It is shameful that the clues are so non judgmental.

    joho 8:12 AM  

    I liked this a lot more after coming here. I didn't see the note (I never do it seems) and knew STALACTITEs are attached "tight" to the ceiling so wrote it in where it obviously had to go. However, I spelled it wrong with a G (Hi, Loren!) so had GAP not CAP but it seemed just fine to me as the whole "trick" was lost on me.

    I wrote MISSAY in the margin because it just doesn't look right.

    I also @NCA President thought it should be CAMP(Y).

    I wish I had understood what was going on because I'm sure I would have enjoyed it much more. This is not Joe's fault, it's Jo's fault.

    Carola 8:28 AM  

    An enjoyable solve. Having read the note, I appreciated the variant possiblities for the C/G and T/M squares (I knew from the -TITE/ tight mnemonic which went where). So the theme part was easy but the rest put up just enough of a challenge to keep things interesting. The pleasure of writing in the longer entries made up for the weak spots already mentioned (as well as the creaky ADIA and NSYNC).

    AnnieD 8:35 AM  

    Technical question for you wise ones. I solve on line and notice that for no apparent reason...at least as far as I can determine...sometimes a small yellow box will appear around some of the square numbers...not the squares, but just the numbers. They seem to be random and change at various times. Can someone fill me in on what they mean, if anything? TIA!

    chefbea 8:36 AM  

    I saw the note and thought 7 across could either be warning or delight...but no. Had to google a bit but finally finished. Loved the clue for bday. I use vanilla all the time in baking...never heard it used as ordinary.

    AnnieD 8:44 AM  

    chefbea, methinks vanilla refers to ice cream which is pretty plain as opposed to all the other flavors and combos, including my favorite, raspberry swirl chunk, with a close second of reverse chocolate chip (chocolate ice cream with white chocolate chips)...but how could I forget dulce de leche, cappuccino crunch, mint chocolate chip, praline.....

    imsdave 8:47 AM  

    I took John Child's suggestion while solving. As soon as I had STALAC in the grid, I smiled and smugly wrote in STALAGMITE (from the bottom up) with no crosses. Oops. I didn't read the note, and until I read this post didn't realize the complexity (I'd thought it was a pretty meager theme). Clever stuff.

    Z 8:54 AM  

    For some reason, after reading a late anti-NCAPrez diatribe posted psuedononymously, Under Heavy Manners came to mind. Seems a perfectly appropriate song for today (for one very obvious reason but then also a hidden "TSE"). Feel free to dance. Or crank it up really loudly while watching "Creature from the Black Lagoon" with the sound off. "I am resplendent in divergence."

    pmdm 9:03 AM  

    Chefbea: I first heard this use of VANILLA referring to the original UNIX operating system, in the sense that it was the original version of the program without any bells or whistles added. That's how I've usually seen the word used: describing something that hasn't had any bells or whistles added to it.

    Charles Flaster 9:06 AM  

    Medium and did not consider the two solutions.
    Liked ICUS misdirect.
    aSpca before USAID.
    Thanks JK

    Billy C 9:13 AM  

    When I see "nucular" I always think of Shrub.

    RooMonster 9:20 AM  

    Hey All !
    Put me in the CAMP of those who forgot the CTITES and GMITES. Hopefully now after reading all the mnemonics about which is which I'll remember for the future! (Probably not!)

    Of course wArnIng before BADSIGN. Also RuN A TAB first. ENVELOP looks cool without the last E. So why does that E change the pronunciation from en-vel-up to en-va-lope? I prefer to call them en-vel-o-pees, and the girls name Penelope, pen-e-lope.

    Cool grid, nice longer fill, willing to overlook the iffy fill mentioned by others! Ended up with a one letter DNF. AARRGGHH! Had BEgOT. Ding dang it!

    PONY up

    Sir Hillary 9:26 AM  

    Not the greatest, but fun enough. I solve in the newspaper, so had the obvious note and italicized clues to help me out. Favorite thing was the clue for BDAY -- superb double meaning, which led me to drop in tDAY immediately. Easily fixed, but a small "oops" nonetheless.

    Dorothy Biggs 9:28 AM  

    @Z: huh?

    For what it's worth, I doubt I would have reacted so strongly to the puzzle had Mr. Krozel not insulted his audience by implying most wouldn't know the difference between a stalactite or stalagmite. Maybe I should have just said that was bad form and left it at that. But, like I said, it pissed me off.

    So if Z's post somehow cryptically challenged the strong wording of my post, I missed it because...well...it was pretty cryptic.

    PS. I think from now on I'll sign all my posts with a question wondering what the percentage is of readers who don't understand the words I use...

    lawprof 9:28 AM  

    How 'bout another mnemonic: "When the mites go up, the tites (tights?) come down." Eww. Anyway, that's the one I learned first; "tight/might" came later.

    FWIW, I had GAPS/MOIL and CUT/ISTS, and thought that was just fine (although MOIL did make me clench my knees together briefly).

    oldbizmark 9:35 AM  

    too easy for a thursday. this week has been horrible.

    Anonymous 9:39 AM  

    One more mnemonic: Stalactite has a T in it, and the vertical line in the T "hangs down" from the top of the T.


    RnRGhost57 9:41 AM  

    Sometimes stalactites and stalagmites grow toward each other and fuse into a column called a "mightytite."

    Z 9:50 AM  

    @NCA Prez - I'm sorry for being seemingly obtuse. You must not get the email updates. Someone wrote some odd to follow comment about your Cave analogy (was that yesterday?) that was in my email this morning. Having just pondered the lack of depth in the ISMS/ISTS quantum grid cell, that post brought to mind my favorite Fripp/Byrne collaboration. Nothing deeper than that (well, maybe something deeper for that late night poster).

    As for your comment today, I pretty much agree with you. I don't mind a good misdirect, I wouldn't even mind MOIL in a puzzle (I actually looked it up to make sure it was a real word), but testing me on whether I remember which is CT v. GM? Bah. I would even go farther and say any of the four possible solutions are "correct." Yeah, Yeah, one goes up and one goes down, but any of the four possible solutions fit the clues AND the note puts "correct" in quotes. Those quotes change the meaning of the word when used this way: There's correct and then there's "correct."

    Three and out.

    Hartley70 9:52 AM  

    I too have to tap the tiny i to get a hint, and never do during the week since it's nearly always disappointing. It wasn't necessary to the solve or to the gimmick since I got them both and found the puzzle enjoyable, if on the easy aide for a Thursday.

    Thanks for the Rex's avatar explanation, @r.alphbunker. Its certainly unusual and obscure, but YES to your suggestion on how to improve the storyline. Add in the Borg and some Daleks and I'm in!

    @Loren, Really dispiriting to read that Merriam Webster includes mispronounciations as alternatives. I expected the nuclear one to be attributed to Bush today. I expect it's endearing to some, but appalling to others. I'm firmly in the appalling camp. I may have to toss my 1966 Collegiate Edition, regardless of it's rare book status.

    mathguy 10:03 AM  

    Delightful puzzle. I print up the puzzle so I couldn't miss the note. It's in a box immediately above the clues. Reading the note prepared me to see the gimmick on the two similar down entries. It made the solving more enjoyable.

    Having both TSE and TSETSE in the same puzzle seems to be a major goof. Surely it could have been avoided.

    Jeff Chen writes that he corresponded with Joe Krozel about the puzzle. He must get it prepublication. Does he have a special connection with NYT?

    I didn't like the value for DITCH. I think that it crossed the line between being cleverly misleading and being incorrect.

    Billy C 10:06 AM  

    @hartley --

    I DID attribute "nuclear" to Dubya today. See above ...

    BC 10:08 AM  

    Oops, darned spellchecker. Meant "nuclular" of course.

    Nancy 10:10 AM  

    What right do I have to feel that this was much too easy for a Thursday, when I was wrong?! Well, the solving experience FELT easy as I was doing it and I deeply, deeply missed the rebus. But then I cam here and found out that there's no such word as STALAgTITE, which I filled in happily, never thinking of CAPS, only of GAPS. And I only thought of TOIL, surely never of MOIL. On the other hand, 25D was correct. (I never considered other possibilities there, either, but there it didn't matter.) I found the fill fairly lively and would have enjoyed it just fine on a Monday or Tuesday, but not today. I thought yesterday's was much more fun.

    @Mohair (from yesterday). I'm thinking Bubbles.

    jberg 10:10 AM  

    I never saw the note, but once I got CAVERN and saw STA_ at 11D, I immediately filled in STALA__ITE for both themers, and then noticed the italicized clues for the first time. I wrote in what seemed like the obvious (go figure!) GAPS and MOIL, but eventually saw the quantum thing. (I'll call them that, since I can't type an umlaut here for some reason). Since I still had not seen the note, I just treated the four squares in question as containing each of two letters.

    Very few American plays have had an ACT III for the last 50 years or so, so i first wrote in ACT TWO (guessing), and then when that didn't work, ACTIon. Finally forced to see the truth by HIES.

    As a teenager, I once argued with my mother (who enjoyed that sort of thing) for 45 minutes about whether MCCI or MCC should be considered the start of the 13th Century. (Well, it may have been a different century). Glad to see this puzzle taking my side.

    Dorothy Biggs 10:11 AM  

    @Z: Ah, so. I don't get the email updates...kinda glad I don't. Thanks for the clarification...makes sense now.

    @mathguy: I think Chen was given a heads up in advance by Krozel about the theme or something...but I didn't get from Chen's post that he knew what was coming specifically.

    Is it true we only get 3 posts? If so, this is my third...so any further posts here will be made by an unauthorized impersonator.

    BC 10:11 AM  

    Either that or "nucular." Third's a charm. ;-)

    Rhino 10:14 AM  

    I really liked this puzzle and I really like the theme. I also really liked my fried eggs, and my two cups of coffee. And I like that I'm still in my pajamas at 9 o'clock in the morning. And I like my dog, my new phone and my wife, but not necessarily in that order. So, yeah, it's been a pretty great morning.

    I needed my ten-year-old to help me with the stalagmite/stalactite difference - but that can't be counted as cheating, can it?

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:14 AM  

    I came to the puzzle in a bad mood, because I had been exposed to spoiler comments in another blog, not crossword-related. Not the puzzle's fault, but after that I didn't enjoy it much. Good time to remind everyone that it is bad form to discuss puzzles on the wrong day or in the wrong place. Not everyone does every puzzle as soon as it is issued.

    Even knowing the theme, I still managed to get the spelling of STALACTITES wrong (after finding that the STALAGMITES did not come up from the bottom), so I never figured out why GAPS and GUT had italicized clues. MOIL I knew, but that didn't help.

    Like @lawprof et al., I learned the mnemonic as "The mites go up and the tights go down." Think of ants at a picnic, and maybe there isn't so much of a "eww" factor.

    Name that tune 10:16 AM  

    This puzzle blew, but my friend Joe has been doing this a long time, so I'll give it a "meh." The theme is fine, but the list of terrible fill is endless. Bad plurals, bad abbreviations, bad partials, the TSE thing, green paint (DIRTSTAIN). Just awful. Any other constructor, and I would have trashed this, and Shortz. I would have said that this should have been rejected and burned and restarted. But I like Joe, so i went easy.

    Anonymous 10:23 AM  

    @NCAPRES and @Z going at it. Two of the biggest asses on this board. You deserve each other.

    Oscar 10:26 AM  

    Time to stop drinking your own Kool-Aid, Joe.

    Wish Shortz would stop encouraging you and your inane ideas. Clearly, your ego is big enough as it is.

    NeilD 10:40 AM  

    I had STALAG_ITE and my mind would only consider WWII POW camps

    cwf 10:43 AM  

    I always assumed Chen sees the week's puzzles in advance. Else how could he award a "Pow" before Sunday?

    George Barany 10:46 AM  

    Continuing our seminar on blogging the New York Times crossword puzzle, @Will Shortz sends out an e-mail to the paper's paymaster midweek of the week before, about the coming week's menu of puzzles (including the extra Sunday puzzles). Cc'ed on the e-mail are all constructors for the week in question, as well as @Deb Amlen and @Jeff Chen. This allows plenty of lead time to create and vet the blog postings on Wordplay and on xwordinfo.com respectively, each of which go live at 10 p.m. EDT on weekdays, and 6 p.m. EDT on Saturday, timed exactly with when the puzzle goes live at the the crossword subscription site of nytimes.com. On the other hand, neither @Michael Sharp (aka @Rex) or @Amy Reynaldo (aka @Crossword Fiend) get the puzzle in advance ... they see it the same time as the rest of us.

    MCCI-ed and AnonymoUUs 11:08 AM  

    Got the vertical themers right away, after I saw CAVERN poppin into view. Had STALAGTITES danglin down from the BADSIGN. Crosses (talkin to U, GAPS) verified my funky PAPERTHIN knowledge. Wrong again, spelunker breath.

    Good to see good old ENOL, back in the big applepuz, again. Last used way back in Nov of '14 by... Joe!
    And BFF's ADIA et SRAS, tu. fave weeject was NEY today.
    Lots of neat loooong nonthemers made this 70-worder an interesting and unusual solve. Thanx, JoeK. U are so unusual.



    old timer 11:10 AM  

    I think the only *correct* answer is STALACTITE at the bottom and STALAGMITE at the top. My reason: in each case, the two-sided across clues work better. GAPS are a *natural* feature of some front teeth, while "caps" are not a feature, but an add-on. MOIL really does mean to work hard, while "toil" can also just mean to work steadily.

    On the bottom, the clue at 48A is "plural suffix with organ." ISTS is a direct and clear suffix here. ISMS is less direct and less clearly related to *an* organ rather than a collection of organs. The other clue, to undermine as a government program is clearly GUT, not "cut". You can cut a program without really undermining it or destroying its utility. But if you GUT it, you do destroy its utility and undermine it.

    In other words, folks, Krozel is playing with your mind. He pretends that it all depends on the location of things in a cavern, but he knows the English language well enough to know that reversing TITES and MITES is really the only *correct* decision.

    dk 11:17 AM  

    🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

    Another cute one.

    Warning for 7A as in, red sky at night sailors delight, red sky in morning sailors take warning, resulted in delays. The same with gaps (as in Alfred E. Newman's what me worry) for CAPS.

    SIRICA in the grid has me humming the David Broomberg version of Send me to the L'ectric chair.

    And as many of you have written I tried to cram aBushie into 16A.

    Thanks Joe

    Anonymous 11:23 AM  

    You always seem kinda jacked-up on your own goofballs. "It's stupid because..." followed by you giving examples that are personal, but that you present as emphatically universal. Though your comments have always been reliably self-satisfied and unhelpful, today you revealed that you are truly unhinged. It's easy to imagine you whining the entire rant to "yourself" in front of a mirror. It's not tough to puzzle out - you need help. Put down the crossword and get some professional attention.

    Hartley70 11:23 AM  

    @Nancy, but me thinks that bubbles doesn't live in Europe.

    @BillyC I saw your shrub, but I was surprised the answer didn't reference W. I'm happy to see in your subsequent posts that you had difficulty mangling it. Your "cc" education has trumped his Yale one.

    Greg 11:24 AM  

    My ipad Times Crossword Ap doesn't show the icon that's supposed to be on the home page to let you see your statistics. Does anyone know how to activate that? Thanks!

    Z 11:24 AM  

    @old timer - A++ reasoning. I decided to exceed my quota to come back and thank you for it.

    @George Barany - Thanks for the timeline info. While I doubt very much it is the case, the insiderness of Mr. Chen could be taken to mean that his reviews have to be gentler. I personally think the different tenors are a function of personality, but the appearance of a conflict of interest exists.

    @10:23 - I hate to burst your bubble, but I don't think the discussion qualifies as "going at it" since @NCA Prez and I agree. Besides, my ass isn't big, it's smooth and supple. My belly on the other hand....

    Anonymous 11:24 AM  

    Sussing out the B and S in BESOT took almost as long as it took to fill in the rest of puzzle!

    Tita 11:28 AM  

    Don't know why, but with just _TAL_____, I got STALACTITE, so of course threw in the corresponding STALAGMITE. In spite of that, CAVERN was just about my last entry - couldn't shake grotto. Also only saw the note at the end - while the G/C confusion really stood out during the solve, I never notied the M/T possibility.

    @Seth G - the G-Ground C-Ceiling thing is way easier a mnemonic than wondering "so does it cling 'tite' to the ceiling or to the ground...?" method.
    @Anoa - I like your visual too - unmistakable.
    @Z - never knew STALAGNATE...

    @MDMA - hand up for wArning. I overlooked the reversed g/n, so DNF for me... I already DNFd with dORIAMOS, knowing that TSE couldn't be in the puzzle 3 times...

    Not quite challenging enough for a Thursday, but I still liked the visual play. (Yeah, too bad the STALAGMITE didn't build from the ground up - but jsut to show how unimaginative I am, that thought never even occurred to me...)

    Ludyjynn 11:28 AM  

    Ironically, the taste of high quality VANILLA beans is anything but ordinary, IMO. Neither is the end-product they are used in. In Ina Garten's cookbooks and tv episodes, she always reminds us, if not cutting away the 'caviar' yourself directly from the vanilla bean pod, to use the best quality prepared liquid vanilla extract in recipes, as many of the little brown jars are full of imitation flavored ersatz vanilla.

    I go nuclear when I hear folks MISSAY it as nucular, esp. a former POTUS who was a phone call away from using such a device. Hand up, @ Hartley for being appalled by the M-W inclusion of a mispronunciation!

    This puzz. reminded me of a fun visit on the way home from Shenandoah Nat'l. Park one summer when we stopped at Luray CAVERNs/Auto Museum for the tour. Touristy but worth the detour. I will probably never commit the TITE/MITE distinction to memory, but will always recall the eerie beauty of these formations.

    Wondering whether yesterday's snarky @YoungTurk will have an ageist comment about the inclusion of Judge SIRICA in today's puzz. Yes, I was alive and kicking during the Watergate Hearings; get over it! And it seems like just yesterday that Sarah McLachlin hit the charts w/ ADIA. Time HIES by.

    Thanks, JK and WS.

    M and Also 11:31 AM  

    @muse: agree that nUcUlar indeed has real nice vowel harmony. May I suggest my fave spelling of nUcUlUr? I just noticed, that we also had stalagtite harmony, today. Stalag-buddies! DNFF's!

    ACTIII crossin MCCI! Random Roman buddies.

    NYSTRIPS crossin ROBT! Abbrevbros?


    Ellen S 11:34 AM  

    @OldTimer, I'm reluctant to agree with your logic, only because I didn't apply it in my solve. Like @Chefwen I know which is which (I use the "mites go up /tights go down" mnemonic), but I didn't think about the placement of the answers in the grid. I know the word "moil" and just picked one set of answers (the wrong one) at random.

    I think in a universe where USAID is a "humanitarian organization", ASSAD is nothing more than an important person.

    @Loren, thank you for supplying "metathesis." I was hoping the answer to the clue would be some linguistic term I could learn. MISSAY was just boring. But at least clued as "wrong" instead of "variant".

    Michael C. 11:34 AM  

    @Z, so much for "3 and out." Thus proving anonymouse's point.

    Tita 11:36 AM  

    Too-long-post and relevant-to-yesterday's-discussion(but-no-spoilers) alert...

    @Carola - I love your portrayal - I too am a cheap crossword date!
    @Questinia - "I don't project my own couture construction abilities onto a puzzle because I haven't any and that sets me free from disappointment." I hope to remember your post for a long time.
    @Lewis too.
    and @NCAPres' Plato's Cave.

    Great comments like these bring me back to why I stick around.
    In addition to everything I learn from Rex and y'all, I really love learning why my own opinion of a given puzzle is "wrong". (Tongue firmly in cheek, h8ers...)

    I gotta say that I do miss ACME, as she is the queen of seeing the good in every puzzle, even while keeping a critical eye on the less-than-perfect.

    @Rexporker, @Hartley - the mom across the street would open cans of things like Chef Boyardee and cheese pizza in a blender to feed her son during the 3 months he had his jaw wired shut from a softball accident. To this day he tells people that my mom saved his life by continually bring over homemade soups that she would puree into a tasty velouté.

    @Teedmn - if you grew up in a Portuguese family, from the moment you see light of day you kiss twice to greet every human you meet. When you can't do it under your own power, your mom would carry you. Upon arriving or leaving any gathering, no matter how many people are there, you double-kiss every single one. Therefore, it becomes reflexive.
    Note - this does not apply to bank tellers, cab drivers, policemen, etc. - it is only for social occasions - just in case any of you get the wrong idea - it's not like you just took a swig of Love Potion #9.
    My family has modified this to handshakes upon meeting new friends, kisses upon departure (assuming, of course, we all clicked!!)!
    @Gill - I'm sure it's the same for you...!

    BC 12:01 PM  

    @Hartley --

    But my prior post did mention Dubya. "Shrub" was sometimes a joking reference to "bush Junior." And BTW, I did go to school with Dubya, though not at Yale. At the time, his old man was UN Ambassador (earlier a Congressman). George was very down-to-earth, well-liked by everyone.

    Anonymous 12:07 PM  

    @Greg, I think you need to update the app to the latest version (2.5.1) to see the statistics icon.

    Lewis 12:24 PM  

    Factoid: According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the world's most dangerous TREE is the manchineel tree. Its bark is covered in sap that blisters the skin and can blind if it gets in the eyes; its fruit, called a "beach apple", causes mouth ulcers if eaten and can be fatal. Finally, smoke from burning manchineel wood can cause blindness.

    Quotoid: "Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone ELSE." -- Margaret Mead

    Nancy 12:38 PM  

    Finally catching up with everyone's comments today:

    @Billy C. & @Hartley 70 -- I'm pretty sure that either Molly Ivins or Ann Richards coined the term Shrub for Bush, Jr. Anyone know which one? (And, note to all Anons here: Please don't tell me to Google the answer. What fun is an interactive blog if you're not being interactive?)

    @lms -- I'm shocked, shocked to learn of the Webster acceptance of "nu-cu-ler." THEY may choose to cave, but some of us still have standards. I, for one, will NEVER accept it!

    mathguy 12:47 PM  

    @George Barany: Thanks for the information about Jeff Chen.

    Kid OC 12:49 PM  

    My dog does not give me a hard time like my wife and phone.

    Anonymous 1:01 PM  

    Did not read the note in advance. Had no trouble with the puzzle. Seemed super easy for a Thursday.

    Mohair Sam 1:18 PM  

    @Nancy - The Silverman kid?

    @Tita - Nephew Married a Portuguese girl a couple of years back. And yes - a million double kisses at the end of the loud and wild reception. What a joyous family.

    Oh yeah, the puzzle. Did not like it. Had 25D been ETIMGALATS I would have considered it clever, but the simple tite/mite confusion didn't make enough of a challenge for me, not on a Thursday, not even with the optional T/M and G/C clues.

    Throw me in with the "MITES go up Tights (TITES) go down" crowd. Third grade, thought it was both edgy and witty at the same time - have never forgotten.

    Greg 1:28 PM  

    @Anonynmous 12:07 Thank you! That worked (I had to update my operating system as well). Now that I can track my times, I will be even more addicted! -- Greg

    Fred Romagnolo 1:30 PM  

    @Muse: I'm generally the most adamant about insisting on cluing with (abbr), but in this case, it's correct because that's how he signed the D of I. @Oldtimer: totally correct in every way! @JBerg: not an American play; by an Irishman written in French! @Chefbea: to add to what others have blogged, it's also used the way "white bread" is to indicate a lack of diversity. @Muse (again): My bete noir is mispronouncing "February," even Walter Cronkite did!

    LindaPRmaven 1:32 PM  

    Way to remember: stalagmite has a "g" for ground and stalactite has a "c" for ceiling. Learned that on a Carlsbad Caverns tour years ago.

    Fred Romagnolo 1:35 PM  

    @Mohairsam: totally agree about ETIMGALATS.

    Fred Romagnolo 1:40 PM  

    Webster's Third (1965) unabridged lists nukular as sub-standard.

    Anonymous 1:49 PM  

    Name one government program that has been GUTted. Hell, damn few have ever been CUT, except the military. Speaking of military it was former NUKEAR sub tech Carter that was in the Navy. He never could say the word right. Even though he has often been over credited in the field of NUCLEAR energy.

    Anonymous 1:55 PM  

    @old timer If you're a NYTimes liberal - and most who read it are - any CUT to a government program is GUTting it. So in their minds - including Will Shortz - they're interchangeable. It's why he didn't catch what you correctly pointed out.

    Josh Duggar 2:10 PM  

    Looks like the lunatic fringe is around today. Maybe next we can hear some defenses of child molesters.

    Hartley70 2:37 PM  

    @BillyC, we're at cross-purposes today. I saw and understood your "shrub" reference the moment I saw your initial post. I hadn't seen "shrub" used as a moniker for W before and you gave me quite a chuckle. I generally avoid snarky nicknames for all our Presidents in deference to the office, but I think "shrub" is sort of cute. It gets my seal of approval. I was trying to say, poorly obviously, that I expected the answer in the puzzle to refer to W, not that I hadn't understood your amusing post.

    @Nancy, she refers to a 6 hour time difference in an earlier post.

    Matt 3:02 PM  

    I remember the stalagmite/stalactite difference with "Ants in the Pants."

    The "mites" go up - the "tights" go down!


    mike253 3:20 PM  

    Started with wArnIng, AMS, IOWA, ADMITONE for a very confusing NE until I decided no way did 12D start "NN.." and ADMITONE was too solid to be the ONE to go.

    Wanted Bushism for MISSAY before realizing I was one letter two long.

    Least favorite ese: HIE. Wish it would dIE.

    ANON B 3:50 PM  

    A little knowledge can be a dangerous
    thing. At 7A, there's an old saying, "Red sky
    at night, sailor's delight, red sky in the
    morning, sailor's warning."
    So I immediately put in "warning" which
    gave me all kinds of trouble.
    Sorry if I'm repeating somebody else's
    comment. I didn't read them all.

    Warren Howie Hughes 4:33 PM  

    Yes, SIRICA! AMOS amusing Xword TORI by King Krozel, that IOTA mention ranks right up there with his best!

    All Jokes ASSAD...

    ENVELOP, Please!

    Nancy 5:04 PM  

    @Mohair: Yes, exactly. Except that @Hartley 70 informed me earlier, off-blog, that the person in question died in 2007. I checked it out myself just now, thinking: Can this really be true? Is she REALLY dead? And, sadly, she is. I gather that Hartley has been laughing at me all day, thinking it's just about the funniest post she's ever seen. I imagine you've been laughing too. (Or is it possible that you didn't know she was dead, either?)

    Wood 5:27 PM  

    Saw the note and got the gist almost immediately -- but didn't know TITE from MITE so I appreciated the quantum cluing and the possibility of a double solution. It happened that I guessed right the first time, but had an error elsewhere so there was some switching around before finally getting everything right.

    CAMP can be an adjective as well as a noun. "Helena Handbasket wore fantastically camp gogo boots rivaled only by her RuPaulesque wig."

    I appreciate roman numerals (in moderation) because they reduce the number of possibilities for their squares from 26 letters down to 7. It's frequently a help for crossing answers. I wonder if anyone has ever tried constructing a puzzle consisting of ONLY Roman Numerals? The puzzle could be titled "When in Rome."

    Bob Kerfuffle 5:57 PM  

    @Wood -- There is nothing new under the sun:


    Z 5:57 PM  

    @Wood - Here you go. Have fun.

    @Michael C. - Neener Neener. ��

    old timer 7:10 PM  

    I'd love it of Krozel read my post and admitted I was right. It was a delightful puzzle, if I did not say so before. And written by someone who, I tend to believe, could easily do OFL's job as a professor of English.

    I also wanted to give a belated shout-out to SIRICA, My friend and I, both lawyers, watched Watergate pretty much from start to finish, except when we had to be in Court. In some ways, Watergate Summer was the best moment of my life -- or at least the best moment of my virtual life. I loved Sam Ervin. I was transfixed by John Dean's testimony. And I was GOBSMACKED when that guy from the Nixon White House revealed that everything the President said in the Oval Office had been recorded.

    Oh -- and much as I despised Shrub when he was in office, I will not blame him for saying "nucular". Why? I am old enough to remember Eisenhower, who pronounced it the same way. And NYT liberal though I may (almost) be, I think Ike was one of the best presidents in my lifetime. Clinton was best. The 50's (until 1958 anyhow) were the most prosperous time in recent history, and the Clinton era was even better. I attribute it to the policies of the Presidents, and would love to see more Republicans like Ike and more Democerats like Bill.

    Teedmn 8:00 PM  

    @LMS, my two shudder-inducing mispronunciations are "realtor" (reel-a-tor, and yup, it's a choice in the online MW dictionary) and asterisk (as-ter-ix, not in MW).

    Back when Bushisms were being ridiculed, I read an article that listed numerous well-educated people who said 'nucular'. Jimmy Carter is the only one I remember, but it seems to be a regional thing (but I still don't like it).

    Like many here, 7A caused me problems. AMS and IOWA worked with wArnIng. So did cAutIons but I finally got BDAY and fixed it.

    I was relatively certain that STALACTITES hung down and STALAGMITES went up but with no handy mnemonic in my brain, I experienced a tiny bit of DRED that I wouldn't get the Happy Pencil Rag played at the end of my solving but no problem.

    And 14A makes me want to say, "Well, MISSAY, tell us what you've been up to or we'll have to give everybody a PATERNITY test. And don't try giving us any of those PAPER THIN excuses either as to where you got those DIRT STAINS!"

    Thanks, JK, for a GUT Thursday puzzle.

    Teedmn 8:07 PM  

    And @Tita, since my husband and I are enamored of all things Portuguese, I will try to consider the obligatory social hugs and kisses as a chance to emulate those lovely people!

    Anonymous 8:44 PM  

    Do you have any idea who Tori Amos is? She's a trained classical pianist who writes modern art songs. I'm 70 years old and love classical music and appreciate what you post but there is always the pleasure of learning something new.

    Michael 8:52 PM  

    I'm not feeling too smart. I puzzled over 11 down and didn't get it until I filled it by crosses. That might be understandable except that I live in 11 down...

    Billy C 8:59 PM  

    @Old Timer --

    I too am an admirer of both Ike and Clinton, and most of their policies.

    However, I think that the Congress with its control of the purse strings, and the Fed with its control of monetary policy, have more effect on the economy than the President. The President can influence the economy by leadership actions that bolster consumer confidence, and he can influence Congressional actions, but these are indirect levers whose coupling to the economy is indirect, and with a longer timeframe for realization than actions of the Fed and the Congress. jMO ...

    So while I credit Ike and BC for some of the economic wellbeing during their terms, I am not as strong in this as I think you are.

    kitshef 11:47 PM  

    We seem to be in a mini-groove of puzzles with neat themes undercut by poor fill.

    delight before wArnIng before BADomen before BADSIGN.

    ACTone before ACTIon before ACTIII. I think ACTIon would have been an excellent answer, given the play chosen.

    Ameer before ASSAD.

    Did not like TSETSE as clued as they are found in in savannah as well. Although I suppose that's a minor point in a puzzle with ROBT and ISMS and AMS and, lord help us, MISSAY and AOLER.

    I did fully expect the STALAGMITE to read bottom to top. A little surprised and a lot disappointed that it didn't.

    Unknown 8:04 AM  

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    He cast spells for different purposes like
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    (2) if you always have bad dream
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    (4) You want women/men to run after you.
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    Burma Shave 10:32 AM  


    It’s a BADSIGN when the PATERNITY test DATA HINTs that you didn’t pass,
    Just OPENUP and ADMITONE time that U SAID you were after MORASS.


    rondo 11:45 AM  

    I did the wArnIng thing like others so the NE was a write-over mess. And gAPS first (think Lauren Hutton, yeah baby) before correction. I remembered all the “rules” so knew the correct spellings.

    I had more write-over ink in @spacey’s bane of RRNs (crossing, no less) by having ACTtwo. Didn’t remember how many acts. And almost “aroni” for PILAF before checking a cross or two.

    Appreciate yeah baby Taylor Swift as a clue for IDOL. Now there’s a doll.

    I was afraid to put in MISSAY, seems like misspeak is the commonly used term. MISSAY seems clunky. Mostly tolerable, and no more than one correct letter in each square. Kind of a VANILLA Thurs-puz.

    spacecraft 1:00 PM  

    As is always the case, my paper does not print "notes" to the day's NYT puzzle. Thus for me, I had to come here to realize that the four acrosses were interchangeable. There was no confusion in my weird brain; I was on a cave tour as a kid, learned the names, and that was it. Never needed any mnemonics. Though the theme seems exceptionally thin (only two down words, really, plus a common six-letter word that could fit in anywhere), the addition of the dual solutions--which both work--thickens it considerably. Pulling that off was a tour de force. But again: there's only one way for it. Why bother creating a second solution if it's WRONG?? Same reason a dog licks himself.

    I don't quite know why the fill has to suffer so much. Two RRNs intersecting is bad enough; do we have to take MISSAY as well? Spellcheck red-lines that one! MISSPEAK I buy (and so does spellcheck). It's In The Language. MISSAY is not. Flag that baby.

    Lost time in the NE with that sailor's wArnIng; was surprised that I had to go all the way down to @dk's post before finding another. I'd have thought that misdirect would have been nearly universal. The clue "Present time, informally" was particularly nasty to solvers. Oh, THAT kind of "present." O-o-okay. Fair enough. Nasty as hell, but fair.

    Should TSE even be allowed in the same grid with TSETSE? I think a successful constructor's career would be one in which he never used TSETSE, EKE, or ALOE. At least an NYSTRIP tastes good. Overall: C.

    BS2 2:52 PM  


    IOWA large debt because I RANATAB down at the CAVERN Inn,
    The PILAF sucked and you know what ELSE AS SAD? The NYSTRIPS were PAPERTHIN.


    rain forest 3:31 PM  

    I've never been in a cave, but I learned the ants in pants, tights, mites thing when I was twelve. However, having read the note and having realized that there was the either/and/or (what the heck does "quantum" mean here?), I totally overanalyzed the situation and thought that if JK was being visual, he would have the STALAGMITE reading upwards. Of course he didn't, so I thought that I would have to use logic, a la @old timer, to determine which was which.
    My logic differed from his, and so I finished with the published solution.

    I enjoyed solving this one, for the interesting longer answers, and the perceived need to really suss out the meaning of MOIL, TOIL, CAPS, GAPS, -ISMS, -ISTS, CUT, GUT.

    I'm unbothered by the crossing Roman Numerals (JK has done this before, mainly to tweak critics, I think). Also, I think that to MISSAY is to mispronounce, while to misspeak is to state an untruth. Feel free to disagree. Anyway, I thought this was a very good puzzle.

    DMG 4:06 PM  

    Warning note left me wondering if this puzzle was made up of "alternates". A theory not helped by the fact while 7A seemed to call for WARNING, maybe it's opposite, "delight" was intended. Thus encumbered, it took me a while to CLAW my way to a solution, but eventually I got there, even if it did involve a last minute transposition of MITESand TITES. And now after reading @Old Timer at 11.10 AM I'm not really sure which answer set is right! A salute to Mr. Schrödinger's cat! Did love the clue for "present day".

    Cathy 4:31 PM  

    I Had to look up moil in my badly battered crossword dictionary. Yes, puzzle completed. Or so I thought. Felt blasé for a Thursday and knew there must be a catch. As with @Spacecraft, the Vegas Sun does not print "notes". Nor the constructors name, (although that wouldn't have made a difference).

    Liked seeing "AOLER". Me and my Dad use to "IM" each other when AOL first came out. We would write anything (it rained today) cause it was so exciting. I would always throw in a quote from Steven Wright. My Mom couldn't understand the fuss. Still doesn't. 85, No internet, no cell phone.. Yet put her in a casino, hold the fort!! God I love her (and miss my Dad).

    @Rondo- hope your feeling better. Wasn't sure if you really called in sick.

    @Burma Shave- wrote morass and thought here we go:)

    There's no rain today. If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?

    Cathy 5:09 PM  

    Sorry, the Vegas paper does print the constructors name. Just not on Sunday's.

    leftcoastTAM 5:36 PM  

    After having read the note and filled in the grid, I saw that the STALACTITE-STALAGTITE combo could be reversed. I had it right the first time, but started flipping coins. Fortunately, I went with my somewhat foggy memory and went with what I had.

    MISSAY made me hesitate because I thought of W's "misunderestimated", which he wasn't.

    @BS, twice today: Laureate status.

    leftcoastTAM 6:04 PM  

    P.S. USAID is not just a "Humanitarian org." It also has less altruistic functions with Cold War roots.

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