Green topper / SUN 8-2-15 / False god / Part of a dealership

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Constructor: Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: 0:33 faster than average, says the iPad app, so...about average

THEME: Literally speaking —the circled squares follow the internal directions.

Word of the Day: SKOSH (6A: Tiny bit) —
From Japanese 少し ‎(sukoshi, a little bit). // Noun, plural skoshes. // A tiny amount; a little bit; tad; smidgen; jot. He added just a skosh of vinegar, to give the recipe some zip. (Wiktionary)
• • •
[NOTE FROM REX: Comments section is now moderated. It will take between minutes and hours for your comment to appear, depending on my (and a few others') access to a computer. This policy is not up for debate and not likely to change any time soon. Complaints about bad actors just piled up and so I had to do something. This is it. The last two days' worth of comments have been moderated and the Comments section is much, much nicer—thanks for all the kind notes, btw. OK, now on to today's featured Rex stand-in: the wonderful Melissa!]

Hello! I'm Melissa, and I'm pinch-hitting for Rex today. I, too, live in New York State, but that might be about all I have in common with our illustrious absent host. Rex, I hope you're enjoying your vacation!

I found this puzzle on the meh side: I feel like I've seen this sort of theme somewhere in the not-too-distant past, but I can't dredge up exactly where it was. I also felt like the puzzle was overloaded with proper names. But the puzzle does contain a whopping 11 theme answers, ranging in length from 8 to 13 characters and nicely positioned symmetrically in the grid.

Theme answers:
  • CALLBACK (20A: Result of a successful audition)
  • SPLIT SECOND (25A: Instant)
  • TORN TO SHREDS (37A: In bits)
  •  MINCEMEAT (46A: Kind of pie)
  •  DRIFT APART (54A: Lose that loving feeling)
  •  SCRAMBLED EGGS (62A: Diner offering)
  •  MIXED MEDIA (72A: Art type)
  •  HASH MARKS (83A: # # #)
  •  INTERMINGLED (90A: Like 0's and 1's in binary)
  •  FAST SHUFFLE (105A: Card sharp's deception)
  •  UNBROKEN (112A: Whole)
If you're keeping score, that's one reversal, five slices, and five anagrams. I'm a little bothered that of the sliced answers, one has the cut between two words (TO/SHREDS) whereas the others are all cut in the middle of a word (S/ECOND, M/E/AT, DRIF/T, U/N). I also would have liked to see more than one reversal, or no reversals at all, since it's the odd one out here.

I typically solve on my iPad, which means that I generally am working sequentially through the clues. On my first pass through, I also tend to enter only the things I'm absolutely certain of, because I always forget about the pencil tool. (Then again, even when I solve on paper, I prefer to use a pen, preferably a Pilot G-2 Extra Fine or Ultra Fine blue: I'm a southpaw, and for me, this pen's ink is relatively quick-drying and therefore relatively smear-proof.) One advantage of solving electronically is that when I'm done, there's no evidence of any mistakes I may have made along the way!
Here's what I had after my first pass through today's puzzle:

Not so much, eh? This was a bit sparser than usual, for my first pass through. And so much for certainty, especially with respect to 73D, 76D, 28A, and 60A. (Uncertainty? Paging Schrödinger's buddy Heisenberg, who was stopped for speeding. When the officer asked him if he knew how fast he was going, he said, "No, but I know exactly where I am!" Ba-dum-bump.)

Speaking of 60A (Puffed ___), puffed rice is fairly common, especially among those health food nuts who prefer their breakfast to resemble styrofoam packing peanuts. (There's also puffed wheat, of course, which becomes almost edible if it's coated with sugar, or these days more likely 7D, but that doesn't fit here.) I don't think I've ever seen puffed OATS. When I googled "puffed rice" (with the quotation marks) I got about 491,000 results, compared to about 6,400 results for "puffed oats." But those numbers don't tell the whole story. When I looked through the first couple of pages of puffed oats results, all but one of the hits were for UK links. The only United States-based link went to Amazon—but the box of cereal was fulfilled by a UK company, it's definitely not an American brand because the picture of the box shows that it's "high fibre," and one box would set you back $8.35. Thus, I question this particular cluing decision.

Once I started to make a few successive passes through the puzzle, my errors became obvious. By about the third pass through, I had both SPLIT SECOND and MINCEMEAT and the theme clicked, so I could make some educated guesses at the other theme answers. The NE was the last part of the grid I filled in, largely because (as you can see) I had a taxi instead of a large body of water. Once I erased that, I goofed again by putting Apex instead of ACME (16D: Zenith), which didn't help matters any.

  • RATSO (1D: ___ Rizzo of film) — I hesitated here because Betty also has five letters, and that's the first name of Rizzo in Grease. After my first pass, I was able to fill this one in and the rest of the corner fell fairly easily. But it took me a little while to properly parse 1A (Move, as a plant) and fill in REPOT, even with that initial R in place.
  • SOD (52A: Green topper) and ELF (59D: Figure often dressed in green) — I might know Matt Ginsberg's favorite color now. 
  • LOTION (93D: Bottle in a beach bag) and FRY (109D: Linger in the hot sun) — I had to bring this up because it gives me a chance to put in this, from the great Ella Fitzgerald singing the great Cole Porter.
  • I could have done without the crosswordese of STG ESAI OTOE AMAT OTTOII ASTA DIGHT (11A 14A 45A 97A 110A 47D 64D).
  • START A FIRE (71D: Rub some sticks together, as at camp) — I initially had light A FIRE. Do people still rub sticks together for this purpose? Even back in the dark ages of my Girl Scout days, we had matches.
  • ANODES (80A: Battery ends) — Those poor neglected cathodes never get any attention in CrossWorld! (What did the anode say to the cathode? "You're always so negative!")
  • SHE-CAT (6D: Tom's partner) — I've never heard anyone refer to a queen by this name! (My own neutered tom answers to Leo.)
  • SAYS (15D: "___ You!")Says You is one of my favorite public radio shows. I was sad to hear that the creator and original host, Richard Sher, passed away earlier this year, but I look forward to hearing the new shows with new host (and long-time panelist) Barry Nolan, once they're taped.
  • ORCA (31D: Boat in "Jaws") — Has anyone else who solves on a platform that includes the Mini Puzzle noticed that there's often duplication, or near-duplication, of answers between the little and big puzzles? Today's Mini includes ORCAS (1D: Animals in the acclaimed documentary "Blackfish"). This particular example doesn't bother me so much because it isn't an exact duplication, but there have been multiple instances where the same answer will be clued identically in both puzzles for a single day. Since I use the Mini as a warm-up exercise for the big puzzle, it's always really obvious to me when it happens. I wish I could access previous Minis so I could give you a specific example, but it seems that if you miss the window for a particular Mini, it's closed forever.
  • ME LIKE (92D: Informal approval) — The few times I've heard something along these lines, it's always been "Me likey." That said, I haven't heard even that for a few years.
  • SKID ROWS (9D: Lush locales) — I like this clue. My favorite Skid Row is the one that's home to Seymore and Audrey II.
  • MALI (72D: Country once known as French Sudan) —This is my chance to publicly thank Mrs. Smith, my sixth-grade social studies teacher. In her class, we studied the geography of Africa and Asia, and which enabled me to confidently fill in this answer when I first saw it. So, Mrs. Smith, for this and much more, domo arigato!
Thanks for reading. I'm not Rex, but I hope this has been up to his standard.

Signed, Melissa, off the bench in CrossWorld


Moly Shu 12:11 AM  

Thanks @Melissa, nice in-depth write up. Liked it much more than the puzzle. I'm going to go right past meh and stop on yuck. SIDEMEN being the worst offender.

Unknown 12:14 AM  

I don't get the answer to 23 Across.
How is "Herein" the answer for "Yellow?"

Steve J 1:01 AM  

Completely joyless puzzle. Sure, there's a modicum of neatness about the fact that you can scramble eggs or split a second within those phrases, but the clues were as dry Death Valley. I didn't smile or have a nice aha moment once. Just a mechanical, tedious solve.

@fred eisman. I'm afraid you're misreading something. [Yellow ___] is the clue at 28A; HEREIN is the answer at 23A.

Anonymous 1:09 AM  

@Fred # My puzzle has the clue for 23A "Found on this page" My puzzle is obviously more dedicated to making sense than yours.

jae 1:49 AM  

Easy  Sun. with a cute theme.  SW was the toughest section for me, but still pretty easy. 

Erasures: onto before INON and TEnse before TESTY


Liked it more than @Steve J, Melissa, and Moly Shu did.

@Fred - always double check the clue numbers.  I mess those up all the time.

Nice job Melissa, bullets and all! 

DrLee77 1:50 AM  

I never got the theme until I got to the blog. Therefore, I solved it as a long themeless puzzle. Despite the lack of understanding; I had relatively few write overs. I agree that it was bland in many spots. @Melissa Very nice write-up.

Yellow SEA was a gimme to someone who was raised on WWII books and movies, since much of the US Navy submarine warfare took place there (eg.Famous book and movie "Run Silent, Run Deep") As noted above; HEREIN was the answer for 23. This was clue 28. @Fred# my eyes had trouble reading 28 on the NYC app. I also thought it was 23 at 1st.

I enjoyed the joke about the Uncertainty Principle. I also had trouble between Apex and ACME but my heart went with the shout-out to
old friend constructor @ACME

Aketi 2:19 AM  

The puzzle started off with such a relaxing image. Who can't love the white sand and turquoise water of ARUBA?

@oldtimer and @curiousyellow, you don't have email links to respond to you directly about your comments from yesterday but perhaps the admins allowed my off topic response to be posted near the end of yesterday's comment section. If so, no one else would need to read it.

Spoiler alert, if you haven't watched or read all the Hannibal Lectorv movies or books but intend to, skip the following.

I have now learned my lesson about trying to solve a puzzle while simultaneously watching a movie as horrifying as the Red Dragon on Netflix with the dh. I swear to you that the SPLIT SECOND I read the clue for 37 Across (in bits), Francis Dolorhyde bit off Freddy Lound's lips. TORN TO SHREDS was a shakily entered gimme. I really should have left the room as I worked my way through the puzzle. MINCEMEAT was so Hannibal Lector. Perfectly innocent answers liie HASHMARKS and SCRAMBLED EGGS started to take on nefarious undertones. Clues like pinkish bloom and Red Holy Roman Emperor filled me with dread for what might be revealed in the answer. Didn't Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs take patches of skin from his overweight or slightly OBESE victims that he later SEWED together into a costume that he put ON himself? And Dolorhyde's CLEFT, the putative source of his being bullied by his evil grandmother and rationale for his murderous tendencies is in the puzzle too?

Really Lewis' SNAILS with teeth were nowhere nealy as traumatic.

I wish we'd watched UNBROKEN instead as I'd suggested to the dh. Even though we'd have had to purchase it since it's not on Netflix yet and it got mediocre reviews, I would have preferred something uplifting tonight. Maybe I'll reread a little of Boys on the Boat before I fall asleep to scrub my mind clean of nightmare producing material.

I did finally get the reveal of the circled clues on my own after a few futile attempts at looking for anagrams.

paulsfo 2:27 AM  

it was -- fine. I mark clever clues and today i marked none.

Rex, thanks for having multiple moderators. I'd go for several, so as to keep as much interaction between commenters as possible.

paulsfo 2:30 AM  

@Moly Shu: Not sure why SIDEMEN bothered you but it's a legit word: "A sideman is a professional musician who is hired to perform or record with a group of which he or she is not a regular member. They often tour with solo acts as well as bands and jazz ensembles."

chefwen 2:33 AM  

And once again,I have to agree with @Steve J. Nothing to add, nothing to take away, he said it all for me. Thanks Steve.

Unknown 3:26 AM  

This only joy I felt with this puzzle was the speed in which it was finished- just shy of 22 minutes. The last part of the grid to be filled in was SKOSH and SHECAT. As for the theme, I didn't even bother trying to figure it out until afterwards. And even then, it wasn't until I came to this blog, where it made any form of sense.

So all in all, a pretty blah puzzle in my opinion.

Charles Flaster 4:44 AM  

Liked the wordplay of this EZ puz.
Enjoyed the review immensely and agreed with most of it.
CrosswordEASE-- ORLE and RECTO.
Liked cluing for AD RATES, SEWED ON, STORM and my favorite themer- UNBROKEN ( great movie of recent vintage).
Thanks MG.

Questinia 5:20 AM  

I was eating a peach cobbler while solving so I loved the puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:16 AM  

Nice idea for a theme, but somehow the result felt quite lame (sorry, I'm obviously not in a good mood.)

In particular, 62 A, SCRAMBLED EGGS yielding S E G G reminded me of a Simpsons episode in which Lisa attends a school for gifted children: A game they play involves anagramming the names of celebrities. Given "Jeremy Irons," Lisa can only come up with "Jeremy's iron." Lame.

Ultimately, the joke was on me. Filled the whole grid correctly, no write-overs, yet even though I knew what was going on with all the others, I puzzled over 90 A, INTERMINGLED >> T R I N E. Why are binary numbers TRINE? Googled, looked in dictionary. Took me a half hour or more to realize that I was looking at the mixed-up letters of "INTER!"

Anonymous 7:04 AM  

Little-known facts about the dog who played Asta:
Regarded as the most intelligent animal actor of filmdom during his career, he came to resent being typecast as the on-screen foil of the Charles couple as well as his role’s lack of character development. He was once quoted as muttering: “I can act circles around those two drunks. Give me a part with some meat.” In his later years, he would remember his tour de force performance as Mr. Smith, alongside Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, as his best work. It also ruffled his fur that he was so often called by his character’s name, Asta, and not Skippy, his given name. When “Asta” became an oft-repeated answer in the New York Times crossword puzzle (due to its book-ending of two consonants between two vowels), he would cram in the six letters of his real name as a kind of protest.

F.O.G. 7:25 AM  

Didn't care for the theme, but liked many of the clues: my favorites were "No. 1 person" for PUBLIC ENEMY; "Lush locales?" for SKID ROWS; and "Something to pay through?" for THE NOSE.

"Wreck 'em at a diner" at 62A would have been a better clue for SCRAMBLED EGGS. But on the whole, ME LIKE.

Loren Muse Smith 7:27 AM  

Well once again, I'm truly surprised by the reaction here. SPLIT SECOND fell very quickly, and it wasn't just an aha moment; it was an Oh. My. God. Moment. @Steve J – I couldn't disagree more. Yes, you can scramble eggs within the phrase itself! You can spell CALL backwards within CALLBACK! You can break up UN within the word UNBROKEN! I'm not screaming at you; I'm just jumping up and down on the couch ala Tom Cruise. Melissa – you've seen this recently? I sure can't remember when I've seen autonyms that work like this. And you also listed seven crosswordese entries. I agree, but I would argue that 7 out of 138, given these constraints, is pretty darn good.

Look, I know I'm the Boy Who Cried Hyperbole here, but I tell you, I was delighted and impressed. AND… I just rubbed my hands together because we have eleven ELEVEN! circle-alerted autological discoveries to uncover. Discoveries that Matt figured out and presented in a terrific puzzle. I can't even imagine how hard it must have been to come up with symmetrical pairs. I'm betting there wasn't a lot of wiggle room here. SPLIT SCREEN could have fit for 25A, but that's all I could come up with.

A few margin notes:

Melissa – my first thought was puffed "adder." And you talked about being unsure of 73D ("aware of"). I was certain it was "on to" and was considering how "on to" feels like you got there yourself through sleuthing whereas IN ON feels like someone shared the secret with you. The clue works either way. Cool.

I kind of like this new system of posting when you can't react to many previous posts. I'm imagining that some will cry "green paint" on START A FIRE, TWO ROOM FLAT, and FAST SHUFFLE. I haven't weighed in much in the past, I don't think, on the gp issue, but ever since ACME a long time ago casually dismissed my LACROSSE PASS as "not a thing" I've felt a little protective of such entries. (Granted – she was totally correct in nixing that.) But is START A FIRE less of a "thing" than START A JOB or START A CAR because it doesn't google as well? I don't get all testy with entries that elicit this objection. On the contrary, sussing these out almost gives me greater satisfaction, makes me feel more detectivish. So I liked these entries.

I never remember whether it's "caro" or KARO, and I actually had a dnf because I went with the C, acceptING "scosh" even though the transliteration of Japanese sukoshi is always spelled with a K. Ah me.

@Evil got me the other day when I used "plum" and not "plumb." I had no idea. Here's another one: I thought it was (105A) "card shark." And I've said before, I always come so close to saying "unchartered territory" and then periodically go back in my mind reviewing what I said, panicked that I did indeed say it wrong after all.

19A could have 67D's clue. Ever noticed how his name works like that?

TUBER/ERUPT. I'm still new to the potato-digging thing, but I swear, taking that little clawlike cultivator and digging where you see a small eruption, finding potatoes underneath, I get a small thrill akin to finding an Easter egg.

This is a trick I'm going to kick around all day – the sign of a great theme, if you ask me. Hmmm… STRETCH THE TRUTH, STOP GAP… Nah. Anyway, thanks so much, Matt Ginsberg! Now I'll go to Wordplay or Xword Info to see how Dr. Fill fared. Excellent puzzle!

Yontifsadie 7:30 AM  

Nice write up. Love that you're a southpaw using a Pilot G2 fine who references all clues with location.
I never heard of a card shark referred to as a card sharp. Thought it was a typo.
I thought the puzzle was pleasantly easy which, for me, is a good thing!

chefbea 7:43 AM  

gosh... last post was at 1:09am..I'm #4. guess there are a lot of posts waiting for moderation!!
Did not like the puzzle..too confusing. What does STG stand for at 11 across?

Leapfinger 7:59 AM  

@Steve J, correction: EREIN lies the answer at 23A.

Mohair Sam 8:01 AM  

Agree with @Steve J on the puzzle and @Moly on the write up. Melissa nailed it. Just couldn't feel the love here, and not a single "aha" in the solve.

But did love Melissa's deep research into puffed OATS - I've eaten the damned things (while in England, btw), they are hideous. And agree heartily with her choice of the Pilot G-2 pen - best ever (although I use the 07 thickness for these older eyes).

Speaking of older eyes. I saw "Mr. Holmes" last night and using his logic I deduce that @fred eiseman (12:14AM) is over 40 and has short arms.

Cabe Franklin 8:29 AM  

Sort of cute that the nature of the circled-letter-mishmash matched the wording of the answer (eg in scrambled eggs, mixed media, intermingled, fast shuffle they were all mixed up - whereas in drift apart, unbroken, split second there were clean breaks).

Dan K 8:36 AM  

Perhaps another way of describing "rnto" between the words "to" and "shreds" is "torn" in "to shreds." (Torn into shreds)

Susierah 8:41 AM  

Regarding solving on paper, I love the red Papermate Erasermate. The red ink makes a sharp, easy to read contrast to the newspaper. The eraser makes a very clean, neat erasure. Much better than a pencil! They are not available everywhere, so I buy a large package at Staples.

Dorothy Biggs 8:42 AM  

I know I compare what I think puzzle constructing is to what I know composing music is a lot, but given Sondheim's penchant for doing both, I think it may be apt.

This puzzle reminds me of my early days of composing. It's easy, with that blank piece of paper, to get all jiggy with themes and instrumentation and all the nooks and crannies that sitting around staring at that page can lead you to. It can become, in the words of one of my professors from long ago, "precious." The other way of looking at it is trying to do too much at once. As a composer, you sort of have to make friends with the idea that you will be composing for a while, and all those cool ideas you have can be worked in over the course of a lifetime...i.e., you don't have to try to get them in all at once.

Given Matt's comments on xword about his initial theme construction, then the subsequent tweaking of his clues (of which he gives examples), and then this final product full of inconsistencies in the theme (pointed out by Melissa), it seems like he got lost in the "precious: weeds at some point and was unable to pull himself out entirely. It's an idea that needs some time to steep a bit.

The entire puzzle, over all, was fine for me...if not on the easy side...but those theme answers were just goofy. As Melissa pointed out, either ixnay the LLAC answer or incorporate a couple more. SCRAMBLEDEGGS isn't really "scrambled." INTERMINGLED is more scrambled than S...EGG is.

I don't know...I guess the payoff wasn't that great. He had a different seed idea to start and ended up here. Maybe he should have worked on the first idea more.

Aketi 9:07 AM  

@LMS, your profile picture today is hilarious. I'm sure my brother the firefighter considers START A FIRE to be a thing.

Unknown 9:07 AM  


joho 9:08 AM  

Who knew ASTA's real name was Skippy?
Loved learning that.

I also loved the wordplay this puzzle offered up. I especially liked the backwards LLAC in CALLBACK.

There's a lot of theme to uncover and I was happily entertained while doing so from beginning to end.

Thanks, Matt!

Nancy 9:21 AM  

I had SlOSH/lARO, instead of SKOSH/KARO, and had no idea I was wrong until I came here. I call that a Natick and it was frustrating to see after otherwise cruising successfully through a long Sunday puzzle.

Like @DrLee77, I solved it as a themeless, ignoring all the tiny little circles. Have I mentioned how much tiny little circles annoy me? Yes, I do believe I have. :)

After suffering through the difficulties of Friday (a puzzle I DID really enjoy) and Saturday (a puzzle I hated and that was unsolvable for me, unless, of course, I had Googled all the proper names, which seems to me to defeat the whole raison-d'etre of puzzledom), I was not unhappy with this easier-than-usual Sunday. My solving muscles needed a wee break, if truth be told. So, while bland and familiar-seeming, this puzzle was just what the doctor ordered. I have no idea exactly how the tiny circles reflect the breaking into little pieces theme of the puzzle, nor do I particularly care.

My biggest nit? ME LIKE at 92D. One of the worst answers I've ever seen in a Times puzzle. Where are you, @grammar nazi?

Z 9:28 AM  

Typical Sunday. I did note that the NW and SE are very segregated, playing like separate puzzles. Those were actually the easiest sections for me, but there were few ways out, especially to the SW for me.

Got the theme early, but knowing it doesn't really help the solve that much. The theme didn't grab me, but 11 themers is impressive.

Where's Lewis?

@Rex - of course it's up for debate. That the debate won't change your mind doesn't mean people won't debate it. Personally, I think it's sad that you felt the need to go to moderated comments, but the trolling was out of control. I don't see that you had much choice. I absolutely agree that the comment section has been much more pleasant since you went to moderation.

maripro 9:39 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith - Right on! I always look forward to your comments.
@Susierah - I use a black ink Papermate Erasermate but find it doesn't last as long as it used to. In the good old days my eraser would wear out before the ink ran out. Now I have a large collection of erasers. I'm not that much better at solving!
I enjoyed this puzzle and Melissa's write-up. Loved the theme. It feels like such an accomplishment when that aha moment appears.

Ken Wurman 10:01 AM  

Somehow "she-cat" doesn't feel good to me. Never heard of a beverage called "the" (thought I made a mistake). Otherwise very easy. The theme answers were very literal. .

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

I'm a bit surprised by the generally so-so (or worse) reaction to this puzzle. I found it extremely clever and lots of fun to solve, with many nice misdirections. Very impressive. Also enjoyed Melissa's writeup.

John Sayles 10:38 AM  

A quick scan of the comments indicates that I am the only one that objects at all, let alone vehemently, to the clue "like 1's and 0's in binary numbers". The 1's and O's in a binary numbered are PRECISELY SEQUENCED, not randomly intermingled like T-R-I-N-E/I-N-T-E-R. Of all the intermingled things in the universe, how did we choose the digits in a binary number? Yikes.

For the record, this is first time Mr. Shortz has been completely wrong in my view. Not a bad record.

Also: How sad that a forum for supposedly educated and erudite folks has to be moderated. Like Rex needs more stuff to do.

AliasZ 10:39 AM  

I am with you @LMS, I loved this puzzle. It had a novel theme that I do not remember seeing before. My favorite was MIXED MEDIA, with FAST SHUFFLE a close second. I often wonder what other kind of joy some solvers expect from a crossword puzzle. This one was ingenious with a clever trick that did not reveal itself easily for me, but once it did, I looked back at the autonyms in the completed grid with a big smile on my face.


This new and welcome moderated commenting method highlights the fact that it is not plagiarism but a proof that great minds think alike. It has repeatedly occurred in history that great scientific innovations -- the telegraph, telephone, periodic table of the elements, the lightbulb, etc. -- were discovered or invented by more than one person, unaware that anyone else had been working on the same idea, at about the same time, sometimes only a couple of hours separating the times their respective patent applications have been submitted. Some people chalk this up to these geniuses' ability to tap into the Universal Knowledge along the astral plane. True, a crossword blog is no reason to access the akashic records, but this eerie phenomenon may provide the definitive proof of its existence.

"The Nose" is an absurd satirical short story (1836) by Nikolai Gogol, in which THE NOSE of a government official leaves his face and takes on a life of its own. Dmitri Shostakovich composed an opera in three acts based on the Gogol story in 1928. Here is a brief excerpt from it. I dare not link to the entire 1 hr. 45 min. opera for fear that @Rex will hunt me down and give me a BROKEN NOSE.

Enjoy your sunny Sunday!

Teedmn 10:44 AM  

This puzzle wasn't as exciting for me as it should have been. Like @Nancy and some others, I ignored the circles while solving and was about to read the write up when I realized I hadn't even tried to figure out the theme. After trying to read them as a message, and then sighing that I was going to have to write out all the circled letters and do anagrams with them, I finally saw LLAC in CALLBACK and had my aha moment. Nice cryptic tie-ins.

Cluing was excessively straightforward. Only 17d for IKEA, 48A for SEER and Lush locales? made me smile though I liked seeing OBEISANCES.

I really had trouble in the NE. I had the entire grid filled in up to SKIDROWS on the left and EGGS to the south and the NE was blank. HEREIN there be dragons. I was in unchartered waters ( @ LMS :-) ). If @maripro had had my solving experience, she would have added a couple more erasers to her collection - that section is pretty black on my paper. But I finally decided that ESAI was correct and eventually succeeded with no errors. Never heard of SKOSH and the clue for 81A, Concert pieces, made me grit my teeth.

Overall, a pleasant 48 minutes spent. Thanks, Matt Ginsberg and thanks for the write up, Melissa.

Ludyjynn 10:53 AM  

MEnoLIKEy very much. Puzzle was just SOSO. Theme, what theme? Those circles drove me nuts so it went down easily as a themeless. (Hi, @DrLee and @Nancy).

Thanks, Melissa, for your SOTRUE commentary.


Least favorite answers: TWOROOMFLATS should have been 'bedsit' or bedsitter', a tiny British flat; DIGHT, ORLE.

Hand up for cARO. It was fun to learn the Japanese etymology for SKOSH from Melissa. Had TORNassunder before TOSHREDS.

TEAROSES come in many hues other than 'pinkish'. IMO, clue was off. Also, you lookAFTER someone or something; you don't SEEAFTER them. Awkward.

I'm getting TESTY picking nits. Time to go water the garden (no SOD), feed the fish and recover my happy mien. Peace OUT, all.

Nancy 10:55 AM  

@susierah (8:41) and @maripro (9:39) -- I just bought the Papermate erasable pen in black for use in the tournament (in real life, I solve in Bic pen and write over, if needed. I tried both the new pen (awful, it skips and is uneven) and the eraser (that's great). I stuck the pen in a drawer. WILL IT "BREAK IN" IF I USE IT FOR THE NEXT 2 WEEKS? WILL IT STOP SKIPPING AND WILL IT BE MORE CONTROLLABLE? Please tell me it will.

I appreciate your answers in advance, as I'll be out all day and won't see them till evening. So thank you now.

Norm 10:57 AM  

The theme was okay, but I found the puzzle kind of a slog, since there wasn't anything to be amused by or even smile at. Just, okay, I get it: eggs are scrambled, etc., etc. Actually "CALLBACK" was clever, but the rest just followed one of two patterns, so it got kind of boring.

Lizanne 10:57 AM  

Did anyone notice the anagrams were in answers with shuffle, mixed,mingled,hash, all words that described mixed up?
The only reverse had " back" in the answer. The splts were appropriate too as in the "t" drifting away from the main word drift.

I cheat a lot, but this was not to hard even so.

Arlene 11:00 AM  

This puzzle was different because I had several wrong answers that I had to contend with before finally finishing. So, yes, solving in pen does leave the paper trail of all the write-overs that online solving hides. It reminds me of when writing my books - there's no paper trail of my rewrites, erasures, crossouts that would have existed had I not written it on my computer.
What gave me trouble was in the SW at INTERMINGLED - because I had DARK instead of DAWN.
And up top ONE NOTE and surrounding areas slowed me down - not sure why.
But I persevered - didn't want to give up on this. But some squares look mighty dark - more than any puzzle in recent memory!

MDMA 11:11 AM  

@Kenneth Wurman, that's thé, French for tea.

@Nancy, I got the same Natick. Actually, it was worse because for "Tom's partner" I thought of Tom and Jerry, and therefore tried "tHE CAT" for Jerry. I didn't realize Tom is the cat and Jerry is the mouse. Even after giving up and asking the iPad app to reveal the S, I took a wild guess with "slosh", which I rationalized as akin to adding a splash ("tiny bit") of vodka to your thé after suffering a DNF. Not familiar with SKOSH or KARO, they must be regional things.

Also, I agree, this is a classic example of a puzzle where the theme is only apparent after you've finished. Did anyone at all actually make use of the circles to aid in the solve? I guess you and I think alike, except for the part where you no like the Saturday puzzle whereas ME LIKE it a lot and gloat about it.

STG as an abbreviation for (pound) sterling is not a thing I've ever heard of. The modern abbreviation would be GBP.

Anagrams for OBEISANCES:
A niece sobs, "I see no cabs".

TORN TO SHREDS: short rodents

Leapfinger 11:12 AM  

@Questinia, you'd better watch all that xwp snacking or you might go from LEAN TO OBESE.

Strange start, because a REPOT in no way has to 'move a plant'; all you really change is dePOT. Second strange was SHECAT, with only good fortune being insufficient space for SHEturkey, which would have been an even greater 'thumbs down'. Third strange was the alignment of TUBER,THEN OSE. I've heard of splitting hairs, but see no reason to thus divide the fragrant TUBEROSE. We might as well just REPOT it. (I later saw no such havoc was wreaked on the TEAROSE.)

Which leaves me with the essential and pervasive strangeness of the theme. For example, let's look at those terrible TO's: the TO of the TO SHREDS in TORNTOSHREDS is indistinguishable from the TO of the TORN in TORNTOSHREDS. Since we can't tell which TO of the two TO's came from the TORN and which from the TO SHREDS, we have to take it on faith that any TO at all was TORN from any place TO take another TO's place. We simply have TO take it on faith which TO of either TOs each TO is TO be or not .... Well, you see where this is headed...
For all we know, the TORN-away TO tumbled down TO STORM or TO OTTOII
Any evidence TO the contrary is bound TO involve a circular argument.

While I'm at it, I may as well pick on 44A: I have SEWED ON many patches. Those patches were SEWn ON by me. The ones that are ironed on go faster, but they also go faster.

Although the solve seemed a SKOSH INTERMINabLE, AMASS of it was OKAY BY ME. PUBLIC ENEMY was a great example of "Look out for No. 1", and OBEISANCES is lovely. CARLOT[ta] helped me choose ETTA over Ella, and I remembered END ORSON as the stuff that gives you that runner's high. I also discovered with some handy googling that the ancient Romans had the equivalent of a towncrier, who would make special announcements whenever a personage of stature was leaving the city. Such broadcasts were called the AVE NUES.

Now on the lookout for a SYM BAAL Om-ist, perhaps on that yogamat.

THANKU to all involved.

Maruchka 11:20 AM  

Don't quite know yet whether the slog was worth it. Yes, @chefbea, what is a STG? I thought 'sts' for stone, maybe, or 'kgs'.

Anyhoo, no Googles, no cry. Thanks, @Melissa.

Favs of the day -INTER, MINGLED; MEDIA, MIXED. They scan nicely.

Good old CALL BACK. Had a colleague in drama school with the last name 'Kallbach'. Hope he is/was, and often.

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

"The" is French for "tea", as suggested by "au lait"

mathgent 11:41 AM  

I'm not a fan of Sunday's, but I thought today was excellent.

Since they are so big, Sundays need to be on the easy side, and this one was. But it still had a pleasant crunch.

In Jeff Chen's blog, the constructor tells us that he submitted the puzzle with the entries having the circled squares unclued. Will wisely put clues in.

I was amused that Bill Butler in his blog didn't explain BEDDED for "Hooked up with."

Even though I really liked the puzzle, I think that the TORNTOSHREDS entry was a real flaw. To be consistent with all the other themers, "torn" should have been written in circled squares.

Carola 11:43 AM  

I'm with @loren in liking the puzzle a lot. I thought it was amusing to see the gathering of various "mix up the letters" themes seen in weekday puzzles, a chance for the anagrams, splits, and reversals to all get together for some fun.

And I found plenty more to like, too - from THE NOSE to SPOT ON, the agreeable OKAY BY ME and ME LIKE, and little dollops of STAGY and FLIMSY. I thought the long Downs ranged from stellar: PUBLIC ENEMY and OBEISANCE to sketchy: TWO-ROOM FLAT (DIGHT in green).

@loren - Love your cARO syrup: what the Italian -ETTA lovingly calls hers :)

jberg 11:46 AM  

@Kenneth Wurman, 'THE' (with an accent on the E) is French, to got with au lait.

@chefbea, STG=sterling, a truly horrid abbreviation.

My first reaction was like that of most, but thinking about what @LMS said, there's a point there -- but that point is better for CALLBACK than it is for TORN TO SHREDS. Circling every letter in SHREDS in order to get SHREDS is just a little lame.

But the puzzle gives me a chance to tell my KARO story. We once had a teen-age boy babysitting who evidently did not have a lot of experience in the kitchen, but decided to make popcorn for the kids. He grabbed a bottle of KARO syrup thinking it was oil, and of course it turned into a solid caramelized mess in the pan. When I got home, I ran hot water into the pan to melt the syrup, and poured the whole thing down the drain. That might have worked if I had kept the hot water running, but I didn't, and the syrup resolidified in the drain pipe, blocking the whole thing. Fortunately, I had a little hand-powered snake, so I decided to clear the drain with it. Unfortunately, the snake somehow managed to cut a hole through the copper drainpipe instead. The whole episode cost me a couple hundred dollars before it was over.

@Melissa, you're just not old enough. The original Puffed Oats, at least in the US, was introduced by the Quaker Oats company, up to then famous only for its oatmeal. They offered Quaker Puffed Rice as well, and advertised both with the claim that they were "shot from guns!" followed by a ricochet sound.

Leapfinger 11:48 AM  

Sorry to say that 10D is HUN, so 19A is THANKU, not THANKs, which leaves Tom Hanku out of the picture, @lms. However, START A FIRE can ride on Jack London's To Build a Fire any day of the week.

@Anony0704, abject gratitude for your backstory. I never thought anyone asta Skippy about his K9 opinions. Smart dog retired at age 8 and allowed his under-puppies to take the role over.

@Chas Flaster, another opportunity to make sure you got your SECTagenarian congrats!

Have realized the comments seem to be released in intercalating batches, so have to check back to earlier times to see if something new has been inserted.

@Z, @Lewis said he'd be away for (I think) a couple of weeks.


GPO 11:55 AM  

I liked this, but I am extremely easily impressed by the gimmicks these guys come up with. I liked the scrambling of EGGS and the BACKwardness of CALL.

This felt medium but it took me a really long time, which was fine with me because it is such a beautiful morning to sit outside and do my puzzle.

Tragically, my nice puzzle was marred by three cross-outs: Erin before ESAI, Spam before SENT and SEEAbout before SEEAFTER. Why, oh why, didn't I check the crosses before plunging ahead so recklessly? I felt like hitting myself upside the head like Chris Farley's talk-show host from SNL: "Argh, so STUPID!"

I had never heard of puffed OATS. Do they taste like Cheerios?

Jim Hendler 11:58 AM  

I liked it more than some of you, but did get caught on "scosh" -- there's a web blog called "Caro's syrup" and scosh is an accepted alternative for skosh (see for example) - if if known the blogger was punning, I guess I'd of been better off...

OISK 12:03 PM  

Finished the puzzle last night, and then realized this morning that I had never figured out the theme. It took me a few minutes of staring at the complete puzzle to get it. It was very cute, though.

As others said, this one was very easy.

Just in case anyone is misled by the cute joke about cathodes (you're always so negative), I need to point out that it isn't true. In chemical cells that produce electricity the ANODE is negative.

Am I the only one that thought "Skippy" referred to a kangaroo? I even can sing the song "Skippy, Skippy, Skippy the bush kangaroo...." ( Skippy was a kind of Australian equivalent of Lassie. Really!)

On Sundays, I really don't mind "easy." No complaints about this puzzle. What I don't like, which occurred in Friday's and Saturday's puzzles, are made-up words, and obscure slang. (if I never heard of it, it qualifies as obscure...) Free union crossing friend zone was irritating.

old timer 12:03 PM  

And ... Melissa comes off the bench and steps to the plate. She swings and it's a high fly ball. Parker goes back, back, and ITS OUTTA HERE! Home run! And over the left field wall in the deepest part of the park!

(Fellow Giants fans will know I am channeling Duane Kuiper, Giants play-by-play man on TV).

I really liked this puzzle. I got the theme at SPLIT SECOND, and it was fun to try to figure out how the words were split or SCRAMBLED. Smiled at HASHMARKS and FASTSHUFFLE. I think the only themer that did not work was TORN TO SHREDS. Because "to shreds" means torn into little pieces, and just separating the two words is, well, not impressive.

For once, the NW was the easiest part of the puzzle, so I basically could solve from top to bottom, in sections. My only mistake was "USMC" for USCG. But I've been to the GETTY near Brentwood/Westwood, so that was easily solved. One of the best museums in the country because they have selected such perfect examples of each artist's work.

I don't get 11A though. In what way is STG "Brit. pounds"?

Carola 12:07 PM  

@MDMA - My solving experience was the opposite of yours: understanding the theme at SPLIT SECOND helped me get MINCE MEAT and DRIFT APART immediately. The others came more slowly, but the theme was definitely a help for all, and I really enjoyed seeing the variation in the word play.

@mathgent - About TORN TO SHREDS: I saw it differently - the phrase "to shreds" is torn between the two words, so that TO and SHREDS appear separated in the circles.

Anonymous 12:14 PM  

@john sayles - Intermingled doesn't imply random to me...the IEEE 52-bit mantissa for pi is "1001001000011111101101010100010001000010110100011000" (with leading hidden bit), and 1's and 0's are "precisely sequenced" but are also most certainly "intermingled". Sorry, but I don't object, let alone "vehemently".

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

@John Sayles - My mistake, the hidden bit was not included in my previous post. The binary value for pi is more precisely represented as 11.001001000011111101101010100010001000010110100011000...

Moly Shu 12:52 PM  

@Paulsfo, thanks for the SIDEMEN explanation, it now rings a tiny bell in my memory. Still didn't enjoy the puzzle. The best thing about the moderated comments? @KennnethWurman's double and triple posts not showing up. Sorry @KW, low hanging fruit and all. I sort of liked the un-moderated version, somehow I can't get all riiled up by nasty trolls on a blog, I'm more entertained than offended. That being said, I trust in OFL's judgement.

'mericans in Paris 12:52 PM  

Late to the game because I was out in the countryside, far beyond a news agent that sells the International New York Times. Went to pick up Mrs. 'mericans from the airport at noon, and she had picked up a copy in Atlanta and had filled in the NW, NE and SE. It then took us hours, ultimately requiring several Googles (among which, Skippy's stage name) before we filled it all in.

Like many of the commentators here, we felt it was a slog without much pay-off. Absolutely agree with John Sayles regarding the cluing for INTERMINGLED. The counter example is easy enough to produce -- something like 111000. No intermingling there.

Also don't agree with "Try to grab" as a clue for "SWIPE AT" (87A). To me, taking a swipe at something (e.g., a housefly) means trying to hit it, not grab it.

And I don't get the circled part of HASH MARKS: "AS MARK"? "A MARKS"? "KARMAS"?

This puzzle already took too much of my day, so no Matt Esquare this week. Not sure it would pass the moderators' standards in any case. (Too off-topic.)

@Susierah: Thanks for the recommendation on the red Papermate Erasermate. Don't know if they sell it on this side of the Atlantic, but I'll keep an eye out for it now!

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

Liked "'Big' star" next to "big big big," hashmarks next to "attention grabbing, " and.... One other proximity cleverness I can' t find now. I thought a few of the clues were clever, but when I looked back to find the clever ones, I found all the other commenters were right. Not impressed by the fact that if you take a compound word, and remove the letters that form one component, the other letters form the other component. That isn't wit. It's just math. Sorry to see the clues must be moderated, though I can understand why. If it is possible just to maintain a no-access list, it might be easier. I always like to see my confusions cleared up by other people and this way it is less probable/immediate (thanks for the eventual SGT explanation, btw) and I guess could turn out to be redundant. Always impressed to see times like 22 minutes. For me, it is "easy" if it is not a DNF, but the time is more like two hours! I am humbled.

SundaySyl 1:04 PM  

@mathgent, agree on the TORNTOSHREDS. Bad clue, Will. Love the skosh etymology, though it is confusing because the only place I commonly hear that word in the US is in the Midwest. You would think Pacific coast, but I grew up there and No. So it must somehow be war-related...? Why Midwest? Weekly ponderable...

Anoa Bob 1:14 PM  

Had no idea why the answer at 11A "Brit. pounds" was STG until I read Melissa's write-up. Another, perhaps equally obscure clue, would be "Ping jockey, in the USN". That's the nickname for a Sonar Technician, Surface (I was one) and that gets acronymized, sorta, as STG. (STS stands for Sonar Technician, Submarine.)

Lots of names today. I knew OTIS, OTTOII, & ORSON, but who the heck is CARL OT (35A)?

Leapfinger 1:20 PM  

As noted by @DoctorMaster, thé is French for tea, so the puzzle has both a "thé rose" and an English "tea rose". How cool is that?

Also cool was SIDEMEN, once I realized "Boys on the Side" eventually had to grow up.

@AliasZ, as you probably know, I'm hooked on seeing the connections between things, and you have a Cyrano-sized NOSE* for doing same, I suspect without even having to Googol for it. I hope you won't think me terminally unfeeling for having burst out laughing over your BROKEN NOSE. It did wonders for my RAVELLED SLEAVE of care. It certainly put the 'el' back into D.IGHT. *(NB: That's a compliment.)
My next exercise will be to googol for 'smart vinyl', aka chic records. Bets on a sharp chronicle to rival a well-turned cankle.

Returning now to regular programmimg.

Malsdemare 1:30 PM  

I only got half the theme, the mix/scramble/split thing. And I needed lots of help understanding the second; thanks, all!

I was mad at myself for struggling for LYNCH, after the whole mess about getting her confirmed. Loved BEDDED (my, my but the old lady's getting feisty!), SKIDROW, PUBLICENEMY (that took forever to see). And OBEISANCES, even with the extraneous S was a delight.

I can see how dense the theme is but I sure hated MELIKE. And SEWEDON is just wrong. No seamstress would say that (well, at least this one wouldn't; it's SEWNON, please).

Still a good Sunday workout. Thanks Matt! Oh, and really loved the writeup; Ella and Cole? Me like!

Malsdemare 1:34 PM  

@Ludijynn. I was just thinking yesterday about reviving that lovely 60s signoff, Peace out! You beat me to it.

And a tip o' the hat to Melissa; nice writeup.

mathgent 2:10 PM  

Surprised that no one has complained about "Art" being a clue for CRAFT.

We don't seem to have an accepted definition of a green-paint entry, but I agree with @LMS that TWOROOMFLAT is one.

Steve J 2:21 PM  

We need a new term for crossings that feature things that we don't individually know. Because "Natick" is not it (sorry, @Nancy and @MDMA). Karo's been around for ages - both my Boomer mother and my Depression-era grandmother used it in baking - and while it's probably not as widely used as it was in earlier generations, it's still out there. Look the next time you're in the baking aisle at the grocery. I don't think the crossing qualifies as a true Natick as a result.

@Z: That's not what "up for debate" means. People will debate anything and everything. That doesn't mean that it's up for debate. That the earth is round and orbits the sun is not up for debate; nevertheless, there are people who will vainly dispute that.

@Moly Shu: I look at it as a vastly improve signal-to-noise ratio. It's much nicer not to have to wade through a lot of junk to get to comments worth reading.

@LMS: I agree that it's pretty interesting that you can do those things with the theme phrases. For me, that wasn't enough to carry this. The theme phrases on their own aren't especially scintillating - although, with the exception of FAST SHUFFLE, they are all at least solid and in common use - but what's worse is that nothing outside the theme is. At the time I'm writing this, there were 64 comments, and so far there's hardly any commentary about how much people enjoyed certain answers. Usually there's quite a bit of that, even in puzzles that have a mixed reaction. The theme clues were far too literal. With one or two exceptions, so were the non-theme clues. There's no sense of playfulness.

Not trying to change your mind on the quality of the puzzle. Just elucidating where my "joyless" comment came from.

Meanwhile, "the boy who cried hyperbole" gave me a good laugh.

@Melissa: Missed your comment note last night about "Says You". I've always liked that show (I just wish they'd podcast; that's how I listen to most things now, and without podcasts, I'm at the mercy of being able to coincidentally have a radio on at the one inconvenient hour KQED decides to air the show). I hadn't heard that Richard Sher had died. Sad news.

Tita 2:51 PM  

Favorite was the ironic UNBROKEN.
Gotta run.
Thanks, Matt, thanks Melissa.

RooMonster 3:13 PM  

Hey All !
TORN TO SHREDS the outlier to me. Agree with @old timer on that one. All the others are literal, that one reads to me as a wrong theme. Just sayin.

A lot of answers starting with S today. Am I the only one who noticed? @Lewis, help me out on that.

Liked the puz/theme, agree with @LMS it was a bear to construct, and only with minimal dreck/ese. (On a slash / tear today!) Nice execution of the theme (except the aforementioned TORN...)

Few writeovers, steT->XOUT, arab->SErb->SECT, idol-> BAAL, OslO II (who?:-D )->OTTOII (DOOK?), TAKESas->TAKESON.


Ludyjynn 3:13 PM  

@JohnSayles, I can't resist asking if you are THE John Sayles, indie filmmaker. If so, let me thank you here for the many hours of pleasure your works have provided. Personal fave of all your movies (and it is a tough call since I admire so many) is "Lone Star". For those on this blog unfamiliar w/ Sayles, Google the name and you're in for a treat.

Carlotta Stern 3:46 PM  

@Melissa, the Grease Rizzo was primarily 'Rizzo' (how many people knew from'Betty'?). otoh, Midnight Cowboy's anti-hero is indelibly RATSO Rizzo. 'HEY! [smack] I'm WALKing here!!'

The Heisenberg joke was certain to elicit some follow-up:
Rene Descartes was sitting alone at a small table in the back of the neighborhood taverne, nursing his drink, when the proprietor approached him.
"Monsieur Descartes, it's last call now, as we'll be closing soon. Would you like another absinthe?"
"I think not", answered Descartes.
And disappeared.

In similar fashion, shall take my cue from those SCRAM BLED EGGS and beat it.

Hartley70 4:12 PM  

This puzzle added an extra half hour to my usual time. I just wasn't in sync with the cluing. On the plus side it didn't bore me and I finished cleanly. I couldn't find the theme either, but in my case because they just weren't visible on my iphone. Even after reading the blog and going back to look, they are barely there. They are extremely faint. It was a disappointment because I so enjoy a good theme.

Best puzzle/comment item of the day: Anonymous @7:04! I love the Asta/Skippy backstory. Too cute!

Joe M 4:18 PM  

I didn't even know there was a comment section and I've been using your site enjoyably for a few years. I have no idea why there would be a need for monitoring of this wonderfully witty site Rex and I'm saddened by it. Times we live in where all the haters in the world have a voice. You do a great job, so thank you Rex.

wreck 5:10 PM  

While I didn't find it tedious, it was pretty easy and pretty much solved as a themeless. The theme clues made it too easy, buut without them it would have been too hard! If the puzzle could have had trickier theme clues, it would have been a much better puzzle (IMO).

CVB 5:12 PM  

I like mentions of asta. From my favorite movie.

RAD2626 5:40 PM  

Liked the puzzle a lot. Theme answers clever, consistent and plentiful without a lot of junk fill. A little surprised BEDDED survived as "Hook up" answer. The world has changed. But then again, so have I. I wanted "Ash up" for my Lenten observation.

CV 6:02 PM  

I worked for years in jobs that involved foreign exchange, and I've never seen the British pound abbreviated as STG. It's always been either GBP (Great Britain pound) or PST (pound sterling). Bad clue.

Loren Muse Smith 6:50 PM  

@MDMA - you said, ". . .this is a classic example of a puzzle where the theme is only apparent after you've finished. Did anyone at all actually make use of the circles to aid in the solve?" Just like @Carola, I got SPLIT SECOND and saw the trick instantly. So I was looking for themers with this in mind.

@Steve J – different stokes and all that, huh? Someone could have shown me simply a list of these themers – outside of any kind of puzzle - and I would have been delighted to see how they work. I would joke here that as a solver I'm a cheap date, and most of the time I am, but on this one, I'm digging my heels in and still maintaining this one has a huge wow factor. And amen on not having to wade through junk now to read comments.

@Joe M – welcome! About the need for monitoring… you have no idea.

@Aketi – thanks for noticing my avatar. I'm particularly proud of this one – another themer.

Nancy 7:06 PM  

@Steve J -- Usually I'm on your wavelength, but I don't agree with you about KARO. The reason I was hesitant in calling my one wrong letter a technical Natick wasn't KARO, which is a brand name, but SKOSH, which is not a proper name. It's evidently an actual word, however obscure. So because of the latter, I knew I was stretching with my Natick claim. But as for KARO, it fits the Natick definition perfectly. It's a brand name and it doesn't matter if this product goes back to the Revolutionary War. YOUR grandmother may have used it but my grandmother DIDN'T use it. Since almost no one here knew this product,I bet most people's grandmas used the baking products my grandma used. CRISCO. PILLSBURY. Now there are brand names no one will Natick on. :)

old timer 7:11 PM  

Joe M, the best part of the blog is the comments section.

'mericans, I think OFL would have no trouble with Matt Esquared. He wants comments to be about the puzzle, not about politics or seers who can save your marriege. Your wordplay is very much about the puzzle (or at least the answers). And, you know. if I took on the difficult job of moderating the comments, I would cut the good guys a lot of slack, if the are regulars who are as amusing and interesting as your posts always are. The anonymice? Not so much.

And I *still* don't get STG. I'm off to Wordplay for a possible explanation.

paulsfo 7:15 PM  

@MathGent: I agree that 'Art' is a bad clue for CRAFT. I've been trying to think of a good analogy, unsuccessfully. Maybe "Law" as a clue for "ORDER". If they were the same thing then then the we wouldn't have debates about what is a work of art versus craft.

paulsfo 7:18 PM  

CV: I'd also never heard of STG. However, I googled
stg exchange rate
and the first page worth of hits are all for converting British Pounds, so apparently it *is* a real thing in the industry.

JFC 7:44 PM  

Thankfully, Rex has taken steps to end the harassing and insanity.

Puzzle was clever and challenging. Never saw the theme until I finished, so the puzzle was more like a long Wednesday.


chefbea 7:54 PM  

STG has to do with sterling!!! never heard of it

Aketi 7:57 PM  

@Melissa, great write up. I'd forgotten how much I liked little Shop of Horrors.What a combo, from plants eating humans on SKID ROW to sharks eating humans in JAWS when I'm watching a movie about cannibalistic behavior!

General The 8:01 PM  

I never travel far
Without a headful of Big Star

Michael & Leslie 9:29 PM  

I think that clues should not be sometimes right and sometimes wrong. The 1's and 0's in binary numbers are sometimes intermingled, 1101, and sometimes not, 1111. Or, perhaps, 11111000.

Tita 11:18 PM too for the theme helping the solve...a few wrong answers obscured some areas, so being able to restrict the pool of available letters helped.

@leap... SEWEDON wore me thin too... one complaints over the many POCs?
As I was solving, I groaned over some undefendable plurals, which made me notice lots of others. I'll have to check @r.alph's stats to see if my perception is reality.

I did love that there were so many ways that the words were mangled.

Music man 12:41 AM  

So I'm pretty late to the party, but I'll just say I enjoyed this one a lot more than others. I got the theme at CALL BACK, so maybe that hooked me in from the start. I also just plain thought some of those themers were quite clever and cute. I do agree though that there was some junk thrown in, but I didn't mind it because I ended up liking enough of it that I don't even remember the bad.

Hartley70 12:44 AM  

Sorry, @Nancy, stop picking on KARO. It was a no brainer here, thus not worthy of a comment. If we're not talking about it, it may be because it's an obvious item in the baking section for those of us who like to cook, like ARGO for corn starch. You need to step away from the foie gras case and explore those other aisles to move beyond Crisco and Pillsbury brand names. You never know, McIlhenny's may come up in a Lollapuzzle. Oh and my grandmother was addicted to Crisco too. Her pies were amazing! So bad for us, yet so good.

Unknown 3:01 AM  

First time I heard the word skosh was in a Levi's commercial probably over twenty years ago. Middle aged men were being targeted as Jean-wearing consumers and there was a new cut that advertised a "skosh more room." Definitely a polite way to say these were not your son's jeans.

Leapfinger 7:51 AM  

Ha-ha @Tita, I see what you did there! I'm one who's been on the mend for years, having learned the art/craft/skill from both Mum and Big Sister, and can think of a plethora of instances, all with great emotional impact. It's really too bad that no-one seems to give a darn anymore.

John 8:48 AM  

@ludyjynn: I am not that John Sayles, but congratulations on having an extensive knowledge of film. I can count on one hand the number of times someone has recognized the name, and one of them was a film student. And I agree with your opinion of his work, as do most film critics. For a long time I was "Google-proof" because of the shared name, but Google's algorithms have improved.

Another version of the Heisenberg joke (while I'm here): Heisenberg gets pulled over and the cop says, "Do your realize you were going 58 mph?". Heisenberg: "Great ... now I'm lost."

kitshef 10:34 PM  

@mdma - hands up here for making use of the circles to aid in the solve. In my case, I could reject my initial answer of FAkeSHUFFLE based on mailing to match the theme.

@Michael&Leslie - it seems to me that all puzzle contain clues that are somethings right and sometimes wrong. Sometimes binary digits are INTERMINGLED; sometimes they are not. Sometimes a parental lecture is STERN, sometimes not. Sometimes that bottle in a beach bag is LOTION; sometimes it's suncreen.


Anonymous 1:36 PM  

I believe "Skid Road" was the original term, coined Seattle. A hill was used to slide (skid) logs down to the mill on what is now Yesler Way in Pioneer Square area. Not a snazzy area, as one can image, as it lined with businesses catering to rough and tumble loggers of the old west.

Burma Shave 11:05 AM  

BTW - I think @Anon is correct regarding Skid Road.

HEREIN I’ll take a SWIPEAT a SKOSH of my ONENOTE versifying CRAFT. Please note that if you STARTAFIRE according to my FLIMSY tale, you may be TORNTOSHREDS or MINCEMEAT in a SPLITSECOND.


as I INTERMINGLE ANEED between both SADE and EMMA.
THO IMIGHT OPT for one or THE other, it’s SOTRUE where it headed,


If you LEANTO sowing your OATS as described, your CREED should include a CALLBACK to THE both of them or you will surely DRIFTAPART.

rondo 11:26 AM  

Was it just me, or did this puz seem really EZ? Not particularly interesting, but passable. Got it right away at SPLITSECOND. But if THE weather HEAR wasn’t so dreary, IMIGHT have given it up right there.

These puzzles seem to have a lot of BAALs lately.

I dated a woman named DAWN for a while. After Daylight Savings Time DAWN came one hour earlier. SOTRUE.

EMMA Stone (and the other H’wood EMMAs) yeah baby.

I recall playing SADE music in my TWOROOMFLAT in Odesa, Ukraine for Natasha, double THE yeah baby, double THE fun.

A plain-ish puz, but it brought back some memories. So I SAYS this puz didn’t STARTAFIRE under my butt, unexciting but OKAYBYME.

eastsacgirl 1:25 PM  

Got the theme pretty quick but still struggled more than I should have for a Sunday. Hand up for hating SIDEMEN! Never ever heard of this term. Even though I finished, wasn't really satisfying.

AnonymousPVX 3:10 PM  

A week late here in Charleston, SC.
Just 2 comments:
(1) kind of sick of all the French in these puzzles, 100 A was especially painful. This is an English speaking country, I don't mind the occasional French (or any other language) that is used or known, but 100A is the limit.
(2) I really going to miss the idiotic posts by those who believe in the occult…NOT AT ALL. Thanks for doing this!

rondo 3:17 PM  

I thought SIDEMEN very fair, even common. THE star musician usually doesn't play alone whether live or on recordings. Those supporting players are often SIDEMEN. Probably the most famous were THE "Wrecking Crew" in L.A. in THE 1960s (THO their bass player was a woman). They played on hundreds of recordings. Nashville is full of SIDEMEN for various country stars, and others. Jerry Douglas has played steel guitar with dozens of "stars" as a sideman.

Cathy 4:46 PM  

I DNF due to SKOSH and SHE CAT. Was sure of KARO but couldn't get TOM'S PARTNER. Kept thinking of Jerry. Tried THE CAT, ran the alphabet trying CARO to come up with TCASH? Is this a new slang? Woe is me. Blew through the rest of the puzzle and got stuck in this little spot. Uugghhhh!

By this time, I gave up on trying to figure out the circles, which normally I love to do. My brain was so fixated on completion, I forgot to have fun. Doi!

I like the history of skid road (row?) Will have to check it out:)

I hope this comment will pass muster as my previous ones did not?

Later gators!!

Anonymous 7:20 PM  

Liked the puzzle. Didn't know what the circles revealed, until I came here. What a great blog:)

She Cat...hy

Unknown 4:29 PM  

Was pretty disappointed with ME LIKE. Not only is it a very uncommon form of "ME LIKEY," but the latter is well known to be grounded in racial stereotyping. I thought the theme of the puzzle was very well implemented, though.

Blogger 2:00 PM  

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Jason Fury 2:09 AM  
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Jason Fury 2:19 AM  
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