Charles Lamb collection first published in 1823 / THU 9-17-15 / One-named German singer / Novelist Santha Rama / Mexican rolled tortilla dish / City west of Provo Peak / Device-linking system for short

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: say the letters, one then three — parts of theme answers are rendered by letters that you have to say out loud, as letters, to make the answer sound right. In each case, it's one letter followed by three letters. Thus:

Theme answers:
  • Essays of Elia becomes SAAA (ess, As) OF ELIA (17A: Charles Lamb collection first published in 1823)
  • Jesse Owens => JESSE ONNN (25A: Track star known as the Buckeye Bullet)
  • Excise tax => XIII TAX (36A: Duty on gasoline or tobacco)
  • The Emmys=> THE MEEE (39A: 39A: Annual gala usually held in September)
  • 80s music => ATTT MUSIC (47A: Prince and Journey output) (terrible clue)
  • Public Ivies=> PUBLIC IVVV (58A: Informal group that includes the Universities of California, Michigan and Virginia)
Word of the Day: FLAUTA (4D: Mexican rolled tortilla dish) —
A taquito (Spanish pronunciation: [taˈkito], lit. Spanish for "small taco"), rolled taco, or flauta (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈflauta], lit. Spanish for "flute") is a Mexican food dish most often consisting of a small rolled-up tortilla and some type of filling, including beef, cheese or chicken. The filled tortilla is crisp-fried. The dish is often topped with condiments such as sour cream and guacamole. Corn tortillas are generally used to make taquitos; the dish is more commonly known as flautas when they are larger than their taquito counterparts, and can be made with either flour or corn tortillas although using corn is more traditional. In some areas, such as New Mexico, taquito refers not to the rolled-up tortilla dish, but rather a smaller version of the taco. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hey, so, yeah, not much time because I have to teach in the morning and I am wiped out from (stupidly, self-harmingly) spending the last three hours watching the GOP debate. I solved while watching the debate, so my judgment is not to be trusted. But I can at least discuss facts. This is a type of puzzle that comes up from time to time, where you say letters as letters, where words are represented in the grid as letters. I've seen it, though not quite like this. There is a theme density and a consistency of execution (always a 1+3 letter pattern, a nice symmetry to whether the 1+3 appears at beginning or end of theme answer) that I admire. Very hard getting off the ground because of NW corner. If you don't know what's going on (SAAA), then everything's SNAFU in there. Also FAJITA fits where FLAUTA is supposed to go (4D: Mexican rolled tortilla dish), and I canNot be the only one who got snagged on that particular branch. Otherwise, I don't know, it all works fine. AGETEN blows, but otherwise fill seems fair. Inoffensive. Decent. Hated the clue on ATTT MUSIC, because Prince and Journey made a lot of music not in that decade, and because they were never making "80s music," they were just making music. Clue should've been something about being the subject of radio stations aimed at Gen Xers. It's a genre of radio play, not an actual genre of music. Could've tied it to NENA, maybe, as she (unlike Prince, Journey) is known (if she's known) *exclusively* for music she made in the '80s. But even then, the radio format is probably the better / clearer way to go there.

Wish I could have a martini with a little LEMON PEEL after that debate (12D: Yellow garnish), but I need sleep (which is "peels" backward ... just FYI).

Good day,

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:10 AM  

Easy-medium for me with SE the medium part.  Caught the theme immediately, so this went quickly until the SE where I did not know VIVRE, was unsure of sombre, and RAVING was hard to see.  

@Rex - Fajitas are more open faced than rolled and the tortillas are not typically fried.

Fun puzzle, liked it but would also like more of a challenge on Thurs.

chefwen 12:33 AM  

Got it right out to the gate when I thought "what the hell are all those AAA's doing together?" Tried to find where I erred, then I said it out loud OH ESSAAAYS, got it! ONNNs confirmed it and I was off to the races. What fun.

Loved LION TAMER as the whipper snapper. Oh hell, I liked the whole puzzle.

Thank you Mr. Polin, you made my Thursday, O.K. Wednesday evening.

Charles Flaster 3:48 AM  

DNF in lower left. Agree with Rex about 80's music. Missed FINE TUNES.
One more miscue with 41 A-- agO and not FRO.
Remainder of puzzle was easy and flowed nicely.
Creative cluing for ROE, TONSIL , PUBLIC IVVV, and LION TAMER.
THETA-- 2 consecutive days.
Thanks TP.

h_lina_k 4:48 AM  

saaaoNelia looked like it made so much more sense and saNe seemed like a perfectly reasonable answer to tagged? Did not like that.

Hungry Mother 6:52 AM  

Got AAA early and had to figure out how to deal with it. Afterward, Thursday cluing brought it home.

Unknown 7:39 AM  

Completely agree that the clue for 80sMUSIC is ignorant. Prince has consistently made excellent music for the last thirty years (released two well-regarded albums in the last 12 months), and, as Rex pointed out, no one, not even White Snake or Poison or Cyndi Lauper (all better examples than Prince) has ever made '80s music'.

Other than that, found it enjoyable enough, but way outside my knowledge base. Big ol' DNF.

George Barany 7:45 AM  

Unlike @Rex, I missed the show from the Reagan library, but then I had the misfortune of tackling @Timothy Polin's Thursday puzzle while watching the Twins and Tigers contest going into extra innings. "Excise tax" and "Jesse Owens" were clearly the correct answers, but the number of letters were off and my mind was too tired to suss out the trick (rebus?; turning a corner?, etc.).

Yesterday, I was pretty unhappy with the clue for ION, so today's IONS clue is a definite upgrade. It reminds me of some jokes we tell our chemistry students: (1) A neutron walks into a bar and orders a drink. "How much do I owe you?" The bartender replies, "For you, no charge!" (2) A sodium atom walks into a police station, "Help help, I've lost an electron!" The desk sergeant asks, "Are you sure?" Reply: "Yes, I'm positive!"

Norm 7:49 AM  

And Rex didn't even complain about good old ELIA. Way to sneak that in, Tim.

Lewis 7:58 AM  

This for me was one of those that was opaque early on because of tricky cluing, but I got the theme at Jesse Owens, and it was a great aha. Learned FLAUTA and ESSAYSOFELIA. I loved the clues for IONS, ALBINO, SAFE, PUMP, and ROE, and the word SALIENT. FRISBEE is close to a theme answer, and I like that ARSE is literally at the bottom. It was a tough solve for me, making the completion that much more satisfying. Timothy, you XLLLED on this one!

NikTheFin 8:08 AM  

Hard to reconcile Journey and Prince in the same decade. Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin' was early Steve Perry and released in '79. My sisters and I used to grab our PSEUDO mics and belt out the lyrics.

joho 8:11 AM  

Very clever concept with a much appreciated and always anticipated Thursday trick. I especially loved how we have to speak the themers to get the full effect ... solver participation!

agO before FRO, onEND before NOEND, idoL before BAAL, GAVEup before GAVEIN and GRim before GRaY ... yes, I dnf with that darn "a!"

Great clue for IONS!

I have nothing but prAAA for this beauty, thank you, Timothy Polin!

Zwhatever 8:12 AM  

@chefwen - I also said "what the hell are those A's doing together." It wasn't until I was putting the I in LION TAMER, though, that the light bulb flickered on. I was thinking "it has to be 'excis...' OHHhhhhh."

@Rex - Why would you do that to yourself? It's like looking for gold in a manure pile, there's no gold to be found and you end up smelling like horse shit. I was watching the DNC Chair explain the lack of Dem debates and her answer was basically, "the more they talk the better we look." Hard to argue with that logic.

Also, there is a distinctive genre called 80's music, but neither Prince nor Journey are part of it. More like Human League or Twisted Sister. I'd put two specific strands into it, over synthesized (with drum machines) pop and hair metal. In some ways very different, but both strands evoke cocaine fueled trickle down economics. Even my favorite artist put out an "80's music" album. His liner notes for the re-release of Goodbye Cruel World read like an apology.

Lots of self-inflicted wounds, though ignorance of the SAAAS OF ELIA was the hardest to overcome. I know ARIOSO only from prior xword appearances, otherwise I would have needed uncle Google to finish. GRim before GREY, elevEN before AGE TEN, Ian before IKE, so this was more challenging for me.

GeezerJackYale48 8:17 AM  

Knowing "Owens" just had to be right and Charles Lamb was an "essay" guy forced me to get the theme. But I never did understand what ATTT music could be. I can only suppose my total ignorance of Prince's music and who the heck Journey is/was contributed to that blind spot. Anyway, I enjoyed the puzzle.

Carola 8:41 AM  

Liked it! Challenging for me, despite my seeing how the theme worked early on: having SAAA in place didn't prevent me from first writing in the wait-isn't-it-Owens JESSE Owen or being able to understand for the longest time what I was seeing with THEMEEE or ATTTMUSIC. On the other hand XIII and IVVV came quickly, maybe due to familiarity with seeing Roman numerals in crossword puzzles :)

I liked the treat of SOUR NOTE next to LEMON PEEL and the idea of a PSEUDO-FRISBEE, which describes the cheap discs we somehow got ahold of.

I needed all the help I could get from previous puzzles: MOES, OMNI, OREM, and NENA for the proper names and the now almost automatic SEDGE, JINX, ISLA, IMP (first occupying the ELF's place, though), LAN, AROMA, HAS AT, EVAC.

jberg 9:00 AM  

Like @chefwen -- had ELIA from the clue, SA, then another A from LEASE, which gave me pause until I thought it out loud -- 3 As rather than 2 is arbitrary, but consistent throughout the puzzle, so OK.

But who is Timothy Polin to say that BA'AL is a false divinity?

Also, IONS twice in a row too -- or was it singular yesterday?

Nancy 9:01 AM  

I was fast to solve and very slow to understand. What on earth were all those triple letters? I was tripped up by my first theme answer, SAAAOFELIA, because I pronounced it "saze" instead of "essays." (Stupid, stupid Nancy). Also was wondering what a "thirteen tax" was and why JESSE OweN didn't have his final "s". Finally, LEMON PEEL at 12D gave me the 2nd of Jesse's 3 Ns and I said "aha!" But until I came here, I still was pronouncing ATTT MUSIC as "at ease" music rather than "'80s music." Which sounded more like Lawrence Welk than Prince. (I've never heard of Journey. Have you, OISK?)

An interesting puzzle that I'm sure most people will find easier than I did to understand, if not to solve. But because there are only 4 answers here right now, I may not find out for hours how smart everyone else was.

r.alphbunker 9:03 AM  

Puzzle report

Got the theme at JESSEONNN. Missed the English spelling of {Sombre} and carelessly finished with GRaY/VIVRa.

Looking at answer debuts (see the puzzle report) I found that two of today's answers had been clued as Comb. forms in the preshortzian era.
04/05/1942 NEO {Recent: comb. form} Today: {Natal opening?}
10/14/1950 OMNI {All: Comb. form} Today: {Upscale hotel chain}

I was curious if any clue of the Shortzian era used "comb. form". The answer appears to be no. See Combining forms. The last occurrence of an answer containing "Comb. form" was on 11/18/1993. The Shortz era began on 11/21/1993.

Thank you Will.

ZenMonkey 9:14 AM  

This drove me up the wall in circles until I got XIIITAX and then it fell into place. SAAA definitely did not help!

Whether or not the theme's been done before, this puzzle reminded me of Thursdays back when they were the only gimmick day. Not only was the trick well done, the cluing and answers were inventive and challenging. I'd classify it as "hard until you get the trick, then medium."

chefbea 9:15 AM  

Fun puzzle. Got it at Jesse owen. Never heard of a flauta..wanted tamale because they are rolled. Love a twist of lemon in my scotch!!!

Nancy 9:18 AM  

@Ludy, @Gill I, @Teedmn: I am finally over my envy of the various personal critters you all have in your various gardens, ponds, back yards and woods -- both the ones that are named and the ones that aren't. For 12 nights in Bermuda, my friend and I had our own personal critters in the form of tree frogs (have you heard of them? I hadn't) that vocalized from sunset to sunrise, non-stop. Their call, or whatever it was, was sort of a cross between a cricket, a rooster and a crow -- more than loud enough to penetrate our two heavy double doors in front and our double-paned windows in front. The first night, I slept 2 1/2 hours total. The next day I called the front desk and begged abjectly for a white noise machine. They gave me something better -- a floor fan that set on 3 (the highest setting) was able to block it all out. From then on, I slept like a baby. But my romantic idealization of having one's own personal critters has been punctured completely. From now on, I am content to experience my critters in Central Park and leave them there, to their own unique noises, when I go home in the evening.

Sir Hillary 9:25 AM  

I liked this a lot. I knew there was something rebus-ish going on when JESSEOwens didn't fit in his nine-letter slot, but it took me forever to figure things out. My breakthrough was the SE, where the consecutive Vs were all quite gettable from the downs. Even then, I thought IVVV was some sort of Roman numeral nonsense before finally parsing it the right way. I didn't help myself with idoL at 28D and solE at 63A (nice misdirection clue there).

Lewis 9:47 AM  

Oops! Should have said "XLed" on my post...

Arlene 9:50 AM  

My favorite kind of puzzle - all wordplay. My AHA moment came with JESSEONNN with THEMEEE next - and then over to the NW to fill in those SAAA. It took me awhile to get into this puzzle - but well worth sticking with it. Truly fun!

astroman 9:59 AM  

For once you are way too easy on this total dreck puzzle. BTW FAJITAa do not feature rolled tortillas. I'd like to see ENCHILADA as an answer. And you will improve your life if you skip all political debates.

gzodik 10:21 AM  

Actually, fellow word freaks, "faja" is the Spanish for "girdle", and "fajita" refers to the cut of meat known as "skirt steak".

Nancy 10:23 AM  

I've been reading the Rex comment section for some of the vacation days I didn't see the puzzle, but the problem is that you see the answers, but not the clues. For Saturday, 9/5, (which I gather was a bear of a puzzle for just about everyone), does anyone remember what the clue for BOBBY RIGGS was? Also, what was the clue for PERRY MASON? Just wondering if I would have gotten the answer from the clue, as both are answers from my era. Thanking you for your help in advance, those of you with really good memories.

Mohair Sam 10:55 AM  

Always love a challenge so we liked this one a lot - probably because we were baffled by the theme until PUBLICIVVV became totally obvious. Had been doing much hair tearing until then, phonetics not being our long suit.

Held up for a while with the erstwhile gimme "sole" at 63A (Oxford bottom) - ARSE seemed too Cheeky for the NYT.

Was going to scold @Rex for his gripe about Prince and Journey as the clue for ATTTMUSIC, but he's got a point when you think about it. Maybe Culture Club? Liked all the long downs and their clues; FLAUTA new to us and a real tough fill; only complaint: AGETEN.

Nifty Thursday Mr. Polin, thanks.

Chip Hilton 11:20 AM  

I enjoyed this one. Knocked most of it off while waiting for an eye check-up. I, too, erred on SAnE but can't complain as the clue works better for SAFE. AGETEN really tied me up because I had gone with JESSonNNs even though I knew it was JESSE.

I agree with Rex that the symmetry of this construction is quite impressive. Good one, Mr. Polin!

RooMonster 11:33 AM  

Hey All !
Hah! Finally figured out the theme! It took me until I was 85% done with puz, until finally getting JESSE ONNN (had OwNN first), then went back and looked at the other themers that weren't making sense (looking at you ATTT), and the theme and answers clicked. Didn't help that I had PUBLIC IVys first! Man, what a convoluted theme. Is this a triple threat?

Tough getting started, since the theme answers weren't apparent, obviously. I see THETA is with us again. Odd clue on ALBINO, IMO. Cool clue on FRISBEE.

Gonna rest my brain for a bit now...


Bob Kerfuffle 11:36 AM  

Maybe I'm still woozy from yesterday, but this one played Very Challenging for me.

Still, great puzzle, very clever, loaded with fresh entries.








GILL I. 11:42 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. Was pleased as punch filled with GRaY Goose that Timothy started this conceit with Charles Lamb. I read his SAAA in my AGE 13 or so adolescence because I just loved his name.... I also enjoyed reading Santha Rama RAU because she sounds so exotic...!
Hand up for FajitA - but just for a sec...TONSeL gave me a problema because I wanted TE AMO but then, no Italian worth his garlic would TE you.
Puzzles like these make me happy. I could do them all day long and sing along with NENA (whom I've never heard of!)
@Rex....I too felt like a martini with a LEMON PEEL after watching the debate....Carly is quite pretty in my estimation....!

Carola 11:53 AM  

@Nancy - I'm sure others will have answered you by now, but just in case not: Bobby Riggs was clued as the 1939 Wimbledon winner, and Perry Mason as "Street boss" or something ver similiar to that ("Street" was the first word of the clue).

AliasZ 12:00 PM  

Shouldn't that have been SA SA SA of Elia and The ME ME ME?

Fun theme, the exact replica of which I don't remember seeing before. Well, recently, anyway. Although Jeff Chen tells us he worked on the same exact theme a few months ago (what are the odds?), but he missed JESSE ONNN and PUBLIC IVVV. His puzzle was accepted in a different publication.

My favorite was XIII TAX, which at first glance looks like a levy imposed on the use of arbitrary Roman numerals in crosswords. Hey, that sounds like a great idea. Some baseball managers have been known to penalize a player who failed to bunt, even if he hit a 3-run homer instead. I wonder if Will Shortz published a list of crosswordese for which he will deduct $10.00 per occurrence from the $300.00 stipend, would it improve the quality of fill in NYT puzzles? The list should contain all Roman numerals, NHLER, AOLER, CBER, TOAT, ATOZ, ORR, OTT, ONO, all E-words, etc., etc. Today there were very few of these SOUR NOTES, the bad fill bottomed out at RAU.

Speaking of which, I loved seeing SOUR NOTES balanced out by FINE TUNES.

There are so many FINE TUNES to choose from. The PRAYER of St. Gregory by Alan Hovhaness is one of them.

Enjoy your Thursday.

old timer 12:06 PM  

Got the theme with AAA, which gave me the public Ivies and Jesse Owens. But DNF, for the simple reason that I put "sole" down where ARSE is, and saw no reason to change it. Even though I finally guessed ELF and EXT.

What I needed was to think of "Excise TAX" Should have, too, because "user tax" would not fit.

Just goes to show that sometimes I don't know my ARSE from a hole in the ground. I also did not know that the British backside is a permitted word in Shortzville.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:13 PM  

@Nancy who asked about finding clues for past puzzles:

Bookmark this site:

Bill Butler provides a complete list of clues and answers for every Times puzzle. He expands on the more interesting ones, and below that lists the complete set. You can search by date at the top of the blog.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  


nick 12:45 PM  

Had to check here mid-solve for theme explanation and still had a dnf in the nw. (Sorry, Charles Lamb.) Agree with everyone re: the Prince dis. Even so, really enjoyed the puzzle.

Loren Muse Smith 12:45 PM  

Yeah, that northwest was the last to fall for me and took a big fight. When I finally revisited the clue for 1D and stopped thinking things like "ensues" or "follows," then slowly it all righted.

ADDD could've worked, at least phonetically, for 47A, too. Cool.

Very timely given yesterday's EVIE clue. (@Lewis – "Ivy" was a great find.)

@Bob – I bet you meant you had “Owen” first. Me, too. And also “on end” first, too.

@joho – “prAAA” good one!! How ‘bout this one - Cain and ABEL were NMEEE, right?

Loved this theme!!

mathgent 12:59 PM  

Even after getting the gimmick and understanding that TTT was pronounced "tees," I couldn't see what went into the square in front of TTT. I thought that it might be the numeral 8, which would be very cool. But I couldn't get that to make any sense. After much head scratching, I saw that it had to be A.

Lovely puzzle.

GILL I. 1:03 PM  

@Nancy....Are you tan and happy?
Bossy Boots and Chutzpah only come up to flutter in my face when they want some sugar....I'm trying to get them to sip out of my hand.
Tree frogs on the other hand, are annoying, loud, (but real cute) critters. The mating season is short lived (thank you very much) and they usually come down to a pond or a pool to strut their stuff and hope to get lucky.. Oh, they also swallow their young if a predator should happen by. The tad poles are later thrown up so that they too can grow up and annoy the living hell out of everyone....

David G 1:08 PM  

I have a major issue with the cluing of AHOY: ("Land ___!").

"Ahoy" is a greeting, basically like saying "hi", hence "Ship, ahoy!" when calling to another ship. I suppose one could imagine circumstances when mariners might have called "Land ahoy!" (i.e., when calling to people ashore), but it seems pretty clear to me that the puzzle intends this as just undifferentiated nauticalese, interchangeable with the well known "Land ho!".

Liked the theme, though: simultaneously straightforward in concept, yet the actual answers took some work. The whole puzzle was rather difficult, I thought.

quilter1 1:14 PM  

Had to go away and come back but got the theme at SAAA and thought it was very clever. I liked it. Thanks, Tim.

mac 1:25 PM  

This one was fun!

I always think of Bob Kerfuffle on Thursdays, I knew he would like this one! I had some of the
same write-overs, plus Ritz instead of Omni. That corner was a bit messy for me.

Informatics, Anon. 1:30 PM  

@Nancy, what my 'really good'memory tells me is that if you scroll down the main puzzle page, you'll find a row with the previous 7 puzzles' icons, just waiting for you to click on them, and you'll find all the clues you're interested in. For puzzles predating the past week, click on 'archives' and all you have to know is the date of interest. Please consider this as teaching you how to fish instead of giving you some Dover sole. Self-sufficiency is not to be sneezed at.

@Mohair Sam, I'm not sure why you didn't like AGE_TEN. In case you thought that was premature for 'verging on adolescence, it might interest you to know that current studies have noted significant lowering in the AGE of puberty, with girls of nine and even as young as seven showing budding and PUBICIVVV. It seems that the prevalence of phyto-estrogens in the environment are implicated in this change.
If that wasn't the source of your displeasure,I apologize forinflicting this extraneous information on you.

Returning now to your regular scheduled programming.

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

No sailor ever, ever, ever said "Land Ahoy!". It's "Land ho!" and "Ship, ahoy" or "Ahoy [the ship]."

Diana,LIW 1:44 PM  

Nancy - Meant to mention, if you want to look up clues/answers from previous puzzles, Bill Butler usually lists them on his blog. I read Rex every day, but when I still don't "get" an answer, I read Bill's explanations.

Now, back to the Spokesman's 5-week-old Thursday.

Diana, Lady in Waiting of Crosswords

Masked and Anonymous 1:45 PM  

Why get all lathered up and sweaty, tryin to solve a day-um hard ThursPuz? Dare to BUUULESS.

@009: Didn't think of FAJITA, but also misspelt the right answer as FLOUTAS. Then I was facing a 17-A themer answer that started with SAAIO… That, plus 24-A and 18-D jabberin in some sorta foreign lingo, really slowed M&A down, in the NW.

Not to mention this whole "pink elephant" vs ALBINO controversy:

"A white elephant (also albino elephant) is a rare kind of elephant, but not a distinct species. Although often depicted as snow white, their skin is normally a soft reddish-brown, turning a light pink when wet."

The only "pink elephant" I'm familiar with is a hallucination. Hallucination = ALBINO not.
I mean, even M&A turns a light pink, if U douse him with enough hot water, but he sure ain't no ALBINO.
Anyhoo, lost precious nanoseconds on NW corner + ALBINO.

I get to hear buckets'o AT&TMUSIC, whenever I call up the phone company to complain about our DSL speed. Or about gettin charged for text messages sent to my cellphone from random unknown folks sayin "Whasup bro". But, I digress.

fave weeject: RAU. fave mystery artist: NENA. fave opposite of a mystery word: VIVRE. fave clue = {Whipper snapper?} for LIONTAMER. It sounds kinda desperate to be slippery, somehow, even tho it had no need to go there. Different. Cool.

Might make a good alternate universe puz theme:
* LIONTAMER = Whipper snapper?
* PASTRYPLATE = Roller coaster?
* PROCTOLOGY = Butter finger?
* GALEFORCEWIND = Wiper snapper? (…nah)
* SWORDDUEL = Counter offer?
* DEFENSIVESPREE = Fender bender?

Masked & Anonymo5Us

**gruntz -- new format!**

Teedmn 1:58 PM  

This was fun. I usually start Thursday puzzles squinting in suspicion - where is the trick? and today was no exception. I saw three NNNs in 25A and knew something was up but was sure of the crosses so I left them. Got the trick at IVVV and was even able to use it to help solve 20A, 36A and 47A.

Not that it was smooth sailing. Not knowing if 38D should be TeAMO or TIAMO, I left in the "e". And having mistook the clue for 43A's NENA as belonging to 40A, I was thinking TONSIL might be haNSel. Seeing the M__K of 60A, I plopped in MarK and had to work that out. SEDum for SEDGE made AGE TEN hard to see and I had NO END of trouble with "on END". In other words, a typical Thursday for me.

Very nice clues for ROE, FRISBEE, HALF and SAFE. I didn't like the clues for ABEL or AHOY ( I always hear Land Ho) and I'm warming up to the clue for PRAYER but didn't like it initially.

Nice puzzle, as usual, Mr. Polin - no need for the pre-publication jitters in my book!

Sandy 3:10 PM  

WTF is themees supposed to be?????

Norm 4:02 PM  

@Michael Collins: I prefer my fajitas in a folded tortilla, to be sure, but I'm not aware of any law against rolling it. I love it when people make silly absolute statements here.

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

The NE and SW most answers almost could have been themers.
10A Spanish getaway locale IBBBA
63A Oxford bottom RRR

Alias V 5:07 PM  

@ Rex- Last night could have been UBER-distressing if it weren't so entertaining. Or, vice versa. What's not to enjoy about 11 distinct pathologies on exhibit, proud and confident in their fact-free zone of dis and misinformation? The Sandbox Junkie is going to talk to Putin! It will all be O.K.! Of course, apparently they are all unaware of the amount of talking Kerry did to get Russia on board for the Iran deal. China too.
The most bizarre element was the candidates' inability to respect President Obama, the office and the Constitution. They used "Barack Obama" as an epithet.That's how deeply he's gotten into their psyches.
Going forward, after two "debates" you can be smarter and self-protect. I"m offering to send you a review of the next one, if I can summon the Zen to watch myself. Admittedly, it was provocative and hard to determine which side of the stage displayed more obtuse reasoning: the moderators, or the people on the dais. What was worse? Hearing CC use 9/11,twice,as a political ploy, or the fact that none of them seemed to know that we've got fighter pilots up at 10,000 feet over Syria and Iraq looking for targets everyday and have been for quite a while now. Ask them if the military isn't the best.

@Tita- The candidates hardly need the NYT crossword to highlight their misadventures: they seem to do that quite well on their own.

@ Alias Z: request that you reconsider your antipathy to OTT. We need Mel every once in a while, no?

gifcan 5:30 PM  

Nancy, thinking "saze" does not mean you are stupid. It means that, like me, you are still processing the information and on the way to full understanding.

Difficult start but, once I got it, a great finish. Satisfying Thursday.

Mohair Sam 5:33 PM  

@informatics - Nah, my gripe with AGETEN was more of the green paint variety. But thanks for the update on the lowering of the age of puberty anyhow - I was going to make a bad joke about wishing I was a kid again, but I really don't.

@David G (and others) - Land AHOY exists on wiktionary, but my Navy veteran brother-in-law has never heard it. Maybe it's used in the English Navy.

@Z - Your post was a bit vague, were you implying that you may not be voting Republican next year?

Nancy 5:44 PM  

Ah, what a great group you all are! Thank you. To be more specific:

@Carola: Thanks for giving me the clues directly. I now know that I WOULDN'T have gotten BOBBY RIGGS, other than with the help of a few crosses. I wasn't alive in 1939, I'm happy to say. I was wondering if the clue had anything to do with the Billie Jean King match, but I see that it didn't. And PERRY MASON was clued in such a way that I would have needed help from crosses. A very subtle clue. But I do remember Della Street.

@Bob K: I haven't a clue how to "bookmark" anything, or where the bookmark would even appear on my computer. But your website is valuable to have. So here's what this low-tech Luddite's gonna do. I'll write down the website on an email that I'll send to myself under the title line "Finding old Times crossword clues." Then I'll "star" it in yellow. Then, maybe, I'll put a cross reference in my analog address book under "C" for crossword clue, and put the date: 9/17/15, so that I can find it two years from now. On second thought, maybe I'll just put it in my analog address book and skip the computer entirely. (Yes, yes, I know, I know. Please don't make fun of me.) BTW, Thanks also to @Diana LIW and @Informatics, Anon, though since I solve on paper, I probably don't have the "puzzle page" you allude to.

@Gill I: I trust you, truly I do, on how "cute" tree frogs are. Not for a moment would I doubt the enormous extent of their cuteness. Unfortunately, I never got to see 'em; I only got to hear 'em. And for that reason, I suspect they will never be among my favorite critters. But, remembering that "he prayeth best who loveth best all things both great and small," I will certainly try to keep an open mind :)

jae 5:50 PM  

If NENA was a WOE, here is her one hit from the 80's.

99 Luftballons

BEQ uses her as an answer every now and then.

Zwhatever 7:19 PM  

Opera lovers here might be interested in the Notorious RBG DJing a show on opera and the law.

@David G - I had the same thought, but found sources citing Land AHOY as a synonym for Land Ho.

Teedmn 7:45 PM  

@Gill.I, kudos on reading the SAAA OF ELIA. I have had a copy in my possession forever, and have flipped through it a few times but have yet to succumb to delving therein. But my copy is so cute, about the size of my palm, with violets on the cover. It has no publication date, and there is a very lengthy introduction that is unsigned, by someone referring to himself in the first person quite frequently, as if I should already know who it is. Since he refers to Lamb in the third person, I assume it is not Charles Lamb. Googling with the printing house name yielded no information regarding my edition (I didn't look too hard): Donohue Henneberry of Chicago.

@M&A, I was also thinking Delirium Tremens upon seeing pink elephants (not literally seeing, that is) so ALBINO was quite a surprise, as I suppose pink elephants always are.

@Diana LIW, a subscription to the NYTimes puzzles is only $40/year, a bargain IMO. I took the plunge about a year ago and left Syndiland, though I still go back for the updated comments.

@Nancy, good to have you back. Don't go to Vieques, PR if tree frogs bother you - the constant rooster crowing and dogs barking had my husband complaining it was like sleeping in an insane asylum. Luckily we could close the windows and turn on the AC.

chefbea 8:39 PM means emmys

Zwhatever 9:29 PM  

@Mohair Sam - Yeah, I do keep my politics pretty close the vest. Of course, if I end up pulling the lever for Hillary I will be voting for someone who is ideologically a moderate Republican, right there with the likes of Gerald Ford and William Milliken.

@Norm - hopefully your fajitas are arriving at the table on a sizzling hot plate, with some warm tortillas in a warmer. What you do next is up to you. A FLAUTA, on the other hand, should arrive at your table rolled, fried, and topped with guacamole and pico de gallo (not sour cream, yuck). If your restaurant is serving (and charging you for) fajitas that are already in a tortilla you need to find a better restaurant. Now, can we discuss whether or not a taco is a sandwich?

kitshef 11:06 PM  

@M&A - best post ever. @ Nancy. Spent 10 days camping in the Puerto Rican rainforest a few years back. Tree frogs were (figuratively) deafening. But after the first night we got used to it, and by the end we loved them and didn't want to go back to frogless nights.

Leapfinger 3:29 AM  

Very MUUUing, @Alias! Trust U to have a different take, eh? However, can't agree that OTT to be reviled, given that OTTER almost always gets alot of love.

Enjoyed the theme immensely, esp liked XIIITAX highlighting a RRN:
The TAX on a Baker's dozen?
The clock chiming wrong at one o'clock?
A reminder things can get rough when the kids hit their teens?

Not to mention the nod to THE MEEE Generation...

Definitely plan to keep an eye out for a FLAUTist next time I'm out eating Mexican, will see if they make FINETUNES or hit SOURNOTES (Hi, @!)

Must say I'm surprised nobody got the DROP on the ALBINO ELF ANT (where's that ALEF when you need it?), or noticed the juxta of ARSE and NO_END.

The one thing that confused me: Putting the major Biblical figures in alphabetical order, seems to me ABEL is first, Adam second. What am I not seeing?

Good theme, good clues, but the best part has to be the constructor's notes. How can you not love a great TP riff? Great Scott, he's on a roll!

oldbizmark 9:12 AM  


glad today's (Friday) puzzle was easy...

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

@Leapfinger: Possibly Aaron.

Hays 4:16 PM  

@Leapfinger I'm assuming Aaron. There's also Abraham before Adam.

spacecraft 11:08 AM  

I was TBONED by this puzzle, and totaled. Never got off the ground. Nor should I expect to, if you're going to use "letters as letters" as a THEME!! Never mind. Thursday never happened. On to Friday.

Burma Shave 11:42 AM  


To cure ORAL SOURNOTES they’ll throw a LEMONPEEL to ya,
But I’ll ASSURE you there’s NOEND to SAAAOFELIA.


BS2 12:27 PM  


It’s SOSAD you GAVEIN to RAVING and howling at HALF moons,
save your TONSILs, DROP the needle on some ATTTMUSIC – FINETUNES!


rondo 2:01 PM  

I liked a lot of the fill, but the THEME(EE)? I can’t decide thumbs up or down. And some answers only came via guesses. I’ve got the A-E write-over on GREY and can’t honestly remember which was first/last. And the return of THETA. Huh. UNPIN was in the Harper’s puz which I knocked out yesterday.

Had some trouble in the W and SW with tel for EXT and solE for ARSE, an Oxford is a shoe, right? And the solE is the bottom of a shoe. Seemed right at the time.

Don’t TV shows sometimes have MCCC?

Maybe my indifference to this puz is that I’m not AWARE of any yeah babies in there spicing it up. Does that make this puz HALF ARSE? I did not have a BAAL.

leftcoastTAM 7:05 PM  

@BS1 and 2: deftly done with challenging material.

For me, this was fun and challenging. Saw the makings of the theme/gimmick at JESSEONNN and worked at it from there. Last to go was ESSSOFELIA with its confounding FLAUTA crossing. The last of them to realize I had right were ATTTMUSIC and THEMEEE.

This was a delightful ttt.

Anonymous 11:35 PM  

It's late so I guess I'm writing this to myself, for myself and by myself. I caught on, somehow, at Jesse Owennnnnnnnnns. But......not a finish because I had DaaasofElia. I don't understand Atttmusic but I guessed correctly.

I rate this Easy/Medium and really liked it. Thanks, Mr. Polin.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA (Where, I can attest, the sun sets best in the West). Silly me. The older I get the more loonier I become.

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