Golf Channel analyst Nick / THU 1-21-16 / Chocolate treat since 1932 / PC task-switching shortcut / Ford aircraft of 1920s-30s / Outburst accompanying facepalm / It's below C V B N M

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Constructor: David Phillips

Relative difficulty: Beyond Easy

THEME: SIDE / BARS (35A: With 44-Across, off-the-record discussions ... or 12 answers in this puzzle?) — the two columns running along either SIDE of the grid contain words that must be followed by "BAR" to make sense of their clues:

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: Nick FALDO (21D: Golf Channel analyst Nick) —
Sir Nicholas Alexander Faldo MBE (born 18 July 1957) is an English professional golfer on the European Tour, now mainly an on-air golf analyst. A top player of his era, renowned for his single-minded dedication to the game, he was ranked No. 1 on the Official World Golf Ranking for a total of 97 weeks. His 40 professional wins include 30 victories on the European Tour and six major championships: three Open Championships (1987, 1990, 1992) and three Masters (1989, 1990, 1996). // Faldo has since become a television pundit for major golf championships. In 2006, he became the lead golf analyst for CBS Sports. In 2012, Faldo joined the BBC Sport on-air team for coverage of the Open Championship. (wikipedia)
• • •

This took me less than five minutes, and I don't have much interest in spending much more time than that writing it up. It's a theme, and it makes a kind of sense. It doesn't seem NYT-worthy, and it certainly doesn't seem very well conceived, in terms of delivering some kind of pleasurable experience to the solver. At core, there's wordplay, as there often is. SIDE BARS becomes (somewhat) literal, as the left and right sides of the grid have words that must be followed (in your mind) by BAR in order to make sense. SIDE BARS. Fine. But there are three main problems here. One, this is boring. Two, your definition of "side" is pretty arbitrary. Once you move in one column on either side (to 2 and 14, as opposed to just 1 and 15), and you make those Downs "BAR" answer as well, you are stuck in no-man's land, "side"-wise. You've left the true "side" behind, but in every case you've got banks of *three* Downs on the "side" (all of the same length), and you've only decided to "BAR" two of them? This makes your definition of "side" seem particularly arbitrary. Structurally defective, this grid is. One column (along the "side") would make sense. Three would also make sense (since the three columns on either side are *exactly* the same in terms of dimensions). Two ... is ridiculous. Neither here nor there.

Third, and this is the worst part: once you tumble to the gimmick, the grid just fills itself in. Yawn. Here, I'll show you. I pieced together the NW, lucking into PASTA as my wrong answer at 2D: High-carb bite, which gave me the "P" that got me SPLICE that eventually got me Everything. Once SNACK went in, I saw what was going on. Adjacent POWER, same thing. And ... the rest is history. This is what my grid looked like after about a minute:

This is far too much territory to just give away. Far far too much. An absurd amount. The only place I even had to work a tiny bit to get the "SIDE" answers was in the NE, where TOOL bar took me a second. Otherwise ... just fill those answers in. Twitter agrees (well, this random unscientific sampling of three agrees):


And it's not like the rest of the grid was spectacular, fill-wise. This whole puzzle feels like something that should've been kept in your puzzle notebook until you'd figured out exactly how to execute in a way that would be clean, special, memorable. This incarnation merely rises to the level of "it'll do." Not NYT-worthy. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Da Bears 12:04 AM  

Agree totally.

jae 12:05 AM  

Yes, very easy for a Thurs. Like @Rex I caught the theme almost immediately and just kept going. No erasures and no WOEs. In his comments at Xwordinfo David mentions that Will /Joel may have eased up on the difficulty of the clues. Perhaps they should not have done this.

My bride gave me an IPAD Air for Christmas to replace my somewhat erratic and outdated (no Twitter, e.g.) IPAD 1. It's a wonderful device. I highly recommend the upgrade (@M&A?).

More or less what @Rex said.

Trombone Tom 12:10 AM  

I often am more sympathetic to the construction than is @Rex, but today he is spot on. Way too easy for a Thursday. Was nettled, too, by the lack of third (BAR)s on the sides.

kozmikvoid 12:12 AM  

Really?!?! A Thursday? This falls in Monday-and-a-half territory. I was breezing through the across answers feeling pretty damn smart and got to 56A and thought, "OK, if this is really STRETCHER, then I fell asleep for 120 hours and I've lived today thinking it was a totally different day." But it is stretcher, and I did not oversleep, so I don't know what's going on. Maybe the world got exponentially smarter overnight?

Wednesday's Child 12:24 AM  

If I had constructed this puzzle I would be ecstatic. Construction is still a mystery to me.

From the perspective of a solver, though, it was rather bland.

Carola 12:36 AM  

Agree with @Rex about the theme - disappointingly easy to polish off, once SNACK and POWER were in place. I didn't find the interior all that easy, though - it took me a while to get TRIMOTOR and FIREOPAL. Liked NOUGAT, KRISHNA, VENIAL.

Sadly left to the SIDE were the SORTA BARS beloved by Wisconsinites - the kind made in a 9 x 13" pan and brought to every potluck.

George Barany 12:40 AM  

Yesterday, @Ludyjynn gently chided me for "TMI re PIA ZADORA's ex-hubby" ... all in good fun, I take it, so it was good fun to see TMI in today's grid by @David Phillips [his eleventh New York Times puzzle in less than a year and a half!]. I was particularly entertained or informed, I_GUESS, by the clues for CAT, EL NINO, and SPHERE, though the clues for OCTET and OPERAS seemed rather obvious.

Personally, I find that ANY BAR theme is of interest, and can only assume that my wife @BAR BAR A would have to agree. The BAR was set particularly high, BAR NONE, by this 1997 masterpiece by my friend @Charles Deber.

Ross Willits 12:41 AM  

Cake. 12+ minutes quicker than my average. Actually, since it took me 11 minutes, it took me less than half of my usual Thursday time.

chefwen 12:59 AM  

In a nutshell, what Rex said. Way too easy and downright boring.

Looking forward to Friday and I don't often say that.

Anoa Bob 1:36 AM  

¿Otra vez? Here's how 49 Down appears in the rest of the NYT:

Understanding El Niño

Looks like the crossword puzzle is not held to the same standards as the rest of the paper. Expediency in filling the grid trumps linguistic accuracy. Sigh.

Oh, wait. Maybe 66 Across is actually SEÑECA. Uncle Google, here I come!

Loren Muse Smith 3:26 AM  

I agree that once you see the trick, the BARS go in boom boom boom. Before I had completely sussed it out, I was kinda looking for the SALAD, OPEN, etc. to be outside of the grid on the sides. So I got all the outer BARS and was thinking, "twelve???" Then I saw the stacks. Cool.

My first thought on the wedding bar was "cash." Glad it was OPEN. It was my experience that when it was a cash bar, guests snuck in all kinds of alcohol – against country club rules (liquor license and all that) – and things got unpleasant. Word of advice to readers who will try it anyway – the staff will smell a rat when the wedding party keeps buying only cokes. And they'll start peeking under tables for the bottles.

I don't think I've ever seen the word VENIAL. I GUESS when I sin, I go big, man.

But I like the word LOOSED. As a verb, it feels really menacing. You just turn right around and git back in yer truck or Maw-maw's gonna loose the dawgs on ya. Little Possum and Booger ain't had no supper yet, so git, now. G'on.

Plus, I've been playing the MTC's Battle Hymn of the Republic in my car and have finally nailed the tenor part. (Even the staccato parts in the background when the women take over.) I'm pretty darn good.

No objection here to the two outer columns' being called SIDES. I enjoyed the conceit.

Lewis 7:16 AM  

@jberg -- Nice to see you in the puzzle, sir, and right by AAARATED.

Highlight for me were the clues for SPHERE, OPERAS (I was thinking of "works" as a verb), SPIEL, and ETS (the clue itself was clever, and, refreshingly, it had nothing to do with outer space). I also liked that side SALAD, and the beautiful word "lamina" backwards. Next to SMOOTH we have OPERA... and I so wanted OPERATOR. The grid is clean.

The theme answers were Tuesday easy and the rest of the puzzle not much harder, and I missed having some sweet long answers. So, overall, I wouldn't rate the puzzle


But I enjoyed it while I was in it!

Ryan 7:24 AM  

This puzzle and last Wednesday's puzzle should have been swapped. No "?" clues on a Thursday?! I feel robbed.

Georg E. Anybar 7:39 AM  

This was a disappointment. I look forward to wrestling with the Thursday puzzle and this was a straight fill-in. Theme was blah and the fill dull.

I had a dear friend who was a member of the Seneca tribe, about which I could spew many recondite facts, but since you readers have access to Google as well as I, I won't bore you. Well maybe I will bore you, but not with facts about the Seneca.

Lobster11 7:41 AM  

To me, what made this such a snoozefest wasn't just its simplicity or easiness, but the fact that there just aren't enough different meanings of the word "bar." Seven of the twelve themers (SNACK, DIVE, OPEN, TACO, CLAM, TIKI, SALAD) are places to eat and/or drink, and two are food items (POWER, MARS). That leaves only three (SAND, TOOL, SPACE) in which "bar" has a different meaning, and two of those share a computer theme. If "bar" were a word that had a dozen different, unique meanings, it would have been a lot more interesting. OK, well maybe somewhat more interesting.

Am I the only one who thinks ALTA is a terrible abbreviation for "Alberta"? I looked it up, and sure enough it's a thing, but... yuk.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

Just over 7 minutes, nearly 6 minutes faster than my Thursday average. I hopped around the board and so "salad" was where I got the gimmick. There's definitely no other application for a sneeze guard that comes to mind other than a salad bar. if this were a Mon. or even a Tues, it would be OK. Who on Earth decided this should be a Thurs.?

Hungry Mother 7:53 AM  

Shocked at how easy this was.

NCA President 7:57 AM  

The good news is I got a new best time for a Thursday. The bad news is that I'll probably never beat it again. Just as Rex said, once you get the theme...which for me was pretty early on, the thing just lays down on its back and dares you to rub its belly.


Chuck McGregor 8:16 AM  

Somehow I thought something must be amiss with this puzzle or me after breezing through it (relatively speaking) with only one cheat: the “D” in IPAD. Just couldn’t get “It’s an airline” out of my head (cf. TRIMOTOR). Ergo, I was somehow expecting something different from what @Rex said.

So, nothing amiss with me. I normally don’t pay much mind to difficulty vis-à-vis the day except that, regardless of my ability to solve them, I assume they will be inherently more difficult as the week moves on. In this case it’s now obvious this was indeed far too easy for a Thursday. As @Rex has oft said (I think), “It just filled itself in.” I also did it without looking at the theme until after I finished.

Loved NOUGAT, a word-blast from a past indulgence in my youth. Loved the name and loved the filling, whatever it actually is.

I have a little ceramic KRISHNA playing his flute as one of my musical chachkies.

Mini theme of computer-related stuff: IPAD, NCR, ATM, ALT TAB, TOOL BAR, SPACE BAR.

5D Have one. Absolutely loves, loves, loves chasing the red dot. She even “asks” do it. This was such a gimme I had to laugh.

SMELLY TRACT (to some, a mud flat in Maine at low tide)

Mud flat in Maine (where one harvests steamer CLAMs at low tide)

TOOL (something you don’t need to open steamers as they open when steamed. Tip: don’t eat any that don’t)

AAARATED ANIMAL (to some, a steamer CLAM; to others, a big name porn star i.e. an XXXRATED ANIMAL)

You may have heard the motivational phrase the British came up with when WWII was pending: “Keep CLAM and Carry On”



kitshef 8:38 AM  

ALOE is now being put in an astonishing variety of product, which I guess is OK unless you happen to be allergic to it, as I am.

Why is a CAT 'notably' entertained by a laser pointer??

Played like a Sunday. Neither resistance nor joy - just sitting and filling in boxes.

Odd mix of slangy and formal language (AWNUTS, D'OH, SORTS versus LOOSED and SHALLI.

Now off to get SOAKed in a TIKI BAR.

Hartley70 8:43 AM  

I think I can just write "ditto" today.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:46 AM  

Super easy, indeed. Just as well; no time today.

One w/o: 26 A, STINKY >> SMELLY.

Barfly 8:50 AM  

A few more stiff drinks would've made this more interesting . . .

Nancy 9:07 AM  

I love Rex's rating: "Beyond Easy." What a disappointment on a Thursday. But I was fooled early, before I had gotten to the revealer. I wrote down MARS at 12D and screamed out at the puzzle: "It's a MARS BAR, you cretin! There is no such candy as a MARS!" (I had no such reaction to TOOL at 11D, since I know nothing about computer task programs, and TOOL seemed just about as good an answer as TOOL BAR, once TASK refused to work.) Once I knew what was going on, however, it was a pretty mindless solve. The only momentary blip: I thought that ___Air was an airline. But mostly dullsville.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

A bit disappointed as well as @RP & others, once I did suss the theme, that the BAR visually represented in the upper 2 tiers could not be extended to the 3rd down of the side-stacks. I was also a tad slow to really get the theme because a couple of the theme answers could conceivably stand without the 'BAR'. DIVE for sure, TACO, SAND and MARS, kinda-almost, but admittedly a stretch.

That plus my inability to spell NEILL correctly really jumbled the area where half the reveal lived, so it was not immediately.

My own personal bar for puzzles is quite a bit lower than OFL, but then again, he is critiquing puzzles, and I am just trying to do them without googling.


Sir Hillary 9:25 AM  

Not so great. Revealer ought to be "bar none", no?


Roo Monster 9:33 AM  

Hey All !
Knew something fishy was up, looking for a rebus, but Across answers kept filling in straight. Hmmm, what is going on?, the ole brain queried. Caught it at SAND and TACO (actually wrote next to the clues question marks, as I was going to complain about the clues being off), and then SPACE [BAR], as wanting to but EBAR in last block, but not being able to think of a bunch of words ending in that. Looked next to SPACE ans saw SA___, then lightbulb moment, Ohhh, no rebus, just BAR outside the grid! Then got revealer, and it all made sense.

Funny side note, with SAND and TACO, before figuring out BAR, had written next to the clues, castle and stand, thinking each themer would have its own thing not included, but then couldn't come up with anything for thr revealer.

Agree with the easiness for a ThursPuz. Liked the not too much dreckness. TOOL tripped me up, as wanted Task. Had sUNDay for LUNDI whwn still thinking rebus (had AY in last square). Never heard of LUNDI. Will Goog shortly. Ante lightly written in at first for ACTI, but didn't commit, so technically not a writeover! VENIAL a new one also. LOLed at @Lorens reasoning!

Talks oneself into doing something... SHALL I? I GUESS.


Z 9:33 AM  

@Lobster11 - If you just put in ALTA in your search engine with no hint that you want Canada or an abbreviation it will appear... After ALTA ski resort, American Land Title Association, ALTA, Norway, ALTA Tennis, ALTA restaurant, Ulta cosmetics, Academic Language Therapy Association (hmm, curing academics of their tweediness?), ALTA, Utah, Latin American and Carribean Air Transport Association (don't ask me - maybe the acronym works in Spanish), ALTA Tapas BAR in Greenwich Village, Two links to definitions, ALTA Resources, ALTA-Aurelia Schhols, and ALTA California Regional Center before you see a mention of it being an abbreviation for Alberta. So, yeah, TERRIBLE.

Also, VENIAL? VENAL sins have always been good enough for me.

Tita 9:39 AM  

I feel robbed!
Yes, figured it out right away. Yes, avoided the revealer, hoping it would take me from the initial ho-hum to wow, but sadly, it did not.

Love the clue for CAT.
I have to admit that I feel terribly guilty when I taunt my cats with one. They are normally above any displays of silliness, looking on disdainfully whenever the slobbering, fawning labs perform for us.
But when puzspouse brings out the infrared thermometer to see where we're loosing heat, both cats just throw all decorum to the wind.

Maybe my feelings of guilt stem from the fact that when I play with their real toys, I always make sure they can catch it. There is no such satisfaction with a laser dot.
Btw..."real" cat toys are sticks (Paws down Marz's favorite...), twisty-ties, balled-up wax paper...

And while cheese can't be SMELLY enough for me, I have never tried Liederkranz. A quick wiki search tells me i shouldn't research everything... Turns out the guy who invented this cheese went on to invent Velveeta.

quilter1 9:43 AM  


Nancy 10:03 AM  

Gee, Rex -- I had hoped to go through my entire life without once seeing a Twitter message "in the flesh", as it were. Now you've gone and spoiled that. For shame, Rex. For shame.

GILL I. 10:05 AM  

Well, talk about being told to sit in a corner and wear a duncecap.
All I saw for the longest time were the little bars on the outside. I didn't think about the other SIDE BARS. To make matters worse, I misspelled NaUGAT, didn't know NEILL/FALDO nor ENGEL and the only three letter Pro I know is a TEM.
Had to go all the way to the basement and stare at the Buffet with shells clue for about a Jillion minutes before I did the DOH jig.
So yeah, I guess if you got the two side-by-side BARS right away, it would have been a piece of CLAM cake. Twasn't for me.
After about an hour....or so, I finished it all.
I don't like to sweat that much unless the ending makes me want to SOAK in a Spa. Instead, all I wanted to do was drink a dry martini.

thfenn 10:10 AM  

Clearly I'm still a novice. Can agree it was 'easy', since this is Thursday and I managed to complete it. Where Rex got in one minute is so laughably beyond my reach it's more than humbling. I still do these in sections. Take a whack at the acrosses up to 25, stop, go try the downs to 21, see if I can complete NW, North, NE, then move on (middle left to right up and down; etc. (Sometimes I go clockwise around the grid I guess). At that point, SNACK, POWER, TOOL, and MARS just feel kind of weird and I don't get what's going on. Of course, I had MENU there instead of TOOL, which seemed like a perfectly good answer for "it might include copy and paste', so that didn't help the BAR idea. Even when I finally got to TOOL, 'jeez, those all need BAR after them' didn't come to mind. How do people immediately get the theme? Even when I was there in the middle, SIDE BARS didn't jump out because I'd misread the blank in front of 'tots' and entered TYKES instead of TATER, and not being much of a golfer had FALCO instead of FALDO. As I was unsure at that point of LETBE and SORTA, SIDE BARS eluded me, and when I finally saw it, I had no idea what the BARS were, let alone where 12 of them mattered.

On top of that, stuff like ALTA for Alberta, and a SPIEL being a pitcher's delivery (I'm thinking strike, ball, cutter, inside, high, tight, low, away, chinmusic, none of which fit) still elude me, and with RYAN before IPAD and no idea who Georgia ENGLE and Charles EAMES are, this puzzle made me work.

Yes, I finished a Thursday, that's a 'yippee'. Took me half an hour, which is definitely my best Thursday among the few I can do and dropped my average. But today made me see I just have no idea how to get good at this...

puzzle hoarder 10:35 AM  

The theme is side bars and you only need two to make it plural. That and the extra work it would require to include that third row in the theme explains it's being left out. As people freely entering their times would indicate not that much effort went into it's construction. Speaking of times I solve on paper currently with a pencil. I've never done even a Monday in under 8 minutes. How do people read and write faster because that's basically what I'm doing. Some day I'll get the spouse ( who's never done a puzzle in their life) to read off all the across answers to an old Monday puzzle to see how long it takes me. That's just the kind of thing the hoarder likes to share. I'm a new comment or but have been reading all of you for months.Thanks for the entertainment.

Joseph Michael 11:05 AM  

A half-baked, inconsistent theme and nearly 30% proper nouns published on the wrong day of the week. Makes me want to belly up to the bar and forget this ever happened.

Matt Williams 11:08 AM  

Did this in 42% of my average time. And unlike Rex, I didn't even see the gimmick until I was done. I mentally filled in "bar" on those downs without even realizing it.

RAD2626 11:10 AM  

Okay, it was easy. But I thought fun. I GUESS and AW NUTS, great slangy answers. As a former parochial school student nice to see forgiveable VENIAL vs. damning mortal. Not bothered by bars being two wide rather than three. Still bordered the sides. Filled in the bars as a rebus so got lots of red lines when I checked why it was wrong but consider it correctly done. Knew the gimmick.

Aketi 11:23 AM  

I SORTA thought I'd redeemed myself for Sunday's epic fail, but really if I'm honest with myself the BAR was set too low even for me.

One of my fellow white belt Brazillian Jiu Jitsu mates won silver in the Europen Open IBJJF championship yesterday. He lost the final match when he submitted to an arm BAR. For a nanosecond, I felt proud of myself because about the only sequence I've successfully used on him is to trap him in SIDE control first, and from there move to submit him with an arm BAR.

I'm sure that was TMI. My only excuse is that I finished the puzzle so fast I'm SORTA bored.

@Tita, I have one cat that loves the laser. The other one ignores lasers loves chasing rubber balls just like dogs do, he even begs at the door to go out for a walk. Both love boxes for hide and seek games.

old timer 11:34 AM  

OFL has it right. This puzzle was way to easy for a Thursday. Tuesday would have been about right.

My writeover: SMELLY replaced "stinky". IIRC McSorley's Old Ale House used to provide you with a plate of ripe Liederkranz, accompanied by raw onions and crackers. A house specialty back when the bar was men-only, and when they had to allow women, there were no doubt many who chose not to return because of the strong aroma. Washed down with two beers that they call "ales". Those beers (light or dark, served in 8-oz schooners) were and are the only alcoholic beverages they serve. But they also do serve sandwiches, including an excellent liverwurst sandwich.

Liederkranz went out of business a couple of decades ago, but has been revived by a large maker/importer of specialty cheeses. Not available in California, maybe not even in New York City, but their website says it is in some NYC suburbs -- probably in Wisconsin, too, where it is made

AliasZ 11:43 AM  

At first I thought the BARS were supposed to be the horizontal triple black squares on either SIDE of the grid. Then I realized that the 3D and 10D columns were left out in the cold, the center entries would have required BARS on either end of them, and the bottom ones would have required the BARS at the start of the phrases, none of which worked. So I agree: it's a half-ASLed theme at best.

The fill wasn't all SMELLY, which made me like the puzzle a little more than @Rex, but not by much.

Today I would like to offer two examples of OCTET:

Stravinsky: OCTET for Winds.
Enescu: OCTET for Strings, Op. 7.

Enjoy your Thursday!

chefbea 11:44 AM  

Late to the party for me...had lots to do this morning. Of course loved all the food...eaten at bars..will read the comments later

Matt Messinger 11:52 AM  

You know, I read this blog most days. I find myself continually amused and amazed at how many nits Rex finds to pick every single day with puzzles that I mostly love. Maybe after years of blogging, one gets ornery. Or, perhaps I'm just not very discriminating. Alas.

Andrew Heinegg 12:01 PM  


Roo Monster 12:05 PM  

Ha! French Monday, LUNDI, French Tuesday, MARDI. Nice. Apparently npt up on my French days. Spanish, however...

Closed out my TOOL BAR (accidentally hitting the SPACE BAR, thus negating the closing), so closed it out again, frustrated. Grabbed a POWER BAR, then headed out for my daily walk on the SAND BAR of the beach. Afterward, wandered into the local DIVE BAR, which to my surprise not only had a SALAD BAR, but it being Beach Week, also had a CLAM and TACO BAR! Ate lunch, then heard about an OPEN BAR at the local TIKI BAR! After coming home quite inebriated, ate a MARS SNACK BAR,and went to bed. What an enjoyable day!


Martel Moopsbane 12:16 PM  

@ Sir Hillary: or perhaps the revealer could be "low bar"? Not much of a challenge, that's for sure.

Master Melvin 12:44 PM  

A low-class watering hole is a DIVE. Never heard it called a DIVE BAR. I.e. it makes more sense to me without the BAR.

A thick slice of Liederkranz on a slice of rye bread topped by a generous slice of Bermuda onion is a treat to some of us. Just have to stay away from other humans for a while. :-)

dick swart 1:07 PM  

Awful Thursday gimmick. Bad Monday fill. Annoying and disappointing start to the day!

Chip Hilton 1:29 PM  

Yes, way too easy for a Thursday. But I think Rex's dislike of the two column width of the theme answers was a bit strong. Three columns would have greatly increased the impressiveness of the design but two wide is, to me, far better than one.

I had to dig deep to retrieve VENIAL from my elementary school catechism days. Maybe the only interesting answer in a very dull puzzle

Teedmn 1:42 PM  

The most fun today was reading @Nancy's chagrin at seeing a Twitter post :-). I was having fun while solving, and the 8D/18A cross took some thought but the theme was easy, I got it at POWER. I, too, wondered about the themers being only two deep rather than one or three and I also thought @Rex would cry foul that the bottom ones had the bar over them (at least, when I pictured the first two layers, I pictured the word BAR in the black BAR but I suppose, per the revealer, the themers only have to be on the side, which they are, so no problem, I GUESS.)

I try to be a POWER keyboard user as much as possible, so the ALT-TAB keys are very popular with me. But I put in menu BAR before TOOL so I've got a bit of black ink in the NE and over at AW NUTS, which I started with "oh".

Thanks for the record-setting Thursday, David Phillips.

archaeoprof 2:21 PM  

Yes, easy for a Thursday.

But what's wrong with an easier puzzle once in a while?

I'm currently teaching a crossword course to a room full of brand-new solvers, and they certainly didn't think this was too easy.

If we're going to bring new (and young) solvers into our hobby, we can't always shut the door behind us on the late weekdays.

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

I was zipping through this one, filling in the squares so effortlessly that I began to think that the gimmick for this was that there wasn't a gimmick today. When I got to 35-A I was alerted to the fact that there was a gimmick after all. But it didn't make much difference in how fast I worked through it. Sort of a pre-Monday difficulty level.

the redanman 3:25 PM  

Only hang up was ____ air, then I remembered DOH, NYT - Apple whoooooooore

absurdly easy, WSJ puzzles far better lately

No. 1 Fan 3:38 PM  

Gee, Nancy -- You'd hoped to never once see a Twitter message "in the flesh"? You can't legitimately hold Rex responsible if you do your reading in your birthday suite.

Chronic dnfer 4:28 PM  

ATMs don't issue bills they dispense them. Only the us treasury can issue bills

LindaPRmaven 5:49 PM  

Was anyone else bothered by SIDE BARS being used to describe "off-the-record discussions"? In journalism terms a sidebar is a smaller accompanying article on a topic related to the main article. I think this usage is inexcusable in a paper of record.

Chronic dnfer 6:35 PM  

I agree with LindaPRmaven. Sidebars are not off the record.

Z 7:14 PM  

LindaPRmaven - In negotiations SIDE BARS are unofficial discussions negotiators might have to convey something that can't be said at the table. "We can't give you that, but if you ask for this instead I can sell it to my side." Why are these things called SIDE BARS you ask? I've no idea. Why can't some things be said at the table? Because people are funny.* But it's a perfectly okay answer as clued.

@Chronic defer - That depends on what you mean by "issue." And if you insist on words being used only one way your non de blog will be apt.

*First thing I learned as a negotiator was that I was negotiating with both the other side and my side. My side was always harder to deal with.

Joe 8:07 PM  

I got the puzzle, easy enough, without ever actually noticing the theme. Don' t know what that says about the puzzle or me.

Anonymous 10:44 PM  

@Linda PRM

What's a 'paper of record'? And why, as such, does this warrant a different level of excusablity?

Leapfinger 11:55 PM  

@Z, venal and venial are 2 different words. VeneReally.

All you need for SIDE BARS is one on each side. Give 'em two and next thing you know is they want three. Sheesh. Bleepin' ingrates.

Rene Descartes was nursing his absinthe at his corner table in the neighbourhood BAR.
"Last call, Monsieur Descartes", said the barkeep. "Will you have another?"
"I think not", he answered. And disappeared.

Hope the coming snow and ice does not the POWER BAR

LindaPRmaven 4:17 PM  

For Anonymous -A newspaper of record is a major newspaper that has a large circulation and whose editorial and news-gathering functions are considered professional and typically authoritative. In other words, a trusted source because of the high standards under which the paper functions. Therefore, the paper has a higher level of accountability. The clue for SIDE BARS referred to "off the record" discussions. In journalism if reporter and source agree to go off the record, it means the source is supplying information not for publication but which may be useful to the reporter as background. So, for me, being a former journalist, "off the record" has this specific meaning. It does not seem to me to apply to the negotiating process as described by @Z

Chuck McGregor 7:34 PM  

@LindaPRmaven 4:17 PM

Also there is this meaning that exactly fits the clue "off-the-record discussions":

SIDEBARS: discussions between the judge and attorneys at the bench off the record and outside the hearing of the jurors or spectators.

Diana,LIW 7:48 PM  

@Rainy from 2 daze ago. Hake. Red Herring. Sole. Laughed out loud - thot they'd all been used. Good ones.


Burma Shave 11:20 AM  

Think Hazelden-Betty Ford security


Like an ANIMAL this lady SOAK was LOOSED,
so I TRACT her to the EDGE of town.
Any SORTA DIVE BAR’S where she juiced,
in the first OPENBAR she SETTLED down.

I’d HANG with her, as SMOOTH as if we dated,
but IGUESS I had ALOT of TOOLs to fetch her.
AWNUTS, why’d this CAT have to be AAARATED?
SHALLI say I laid her on a STRETCHER?


spacecraft 11:21 AM  

I agree with @Lobster11 that there aren't enough different senses for BAR, and with OFL that one or three would make sense (good luck doing three!) but two is just...arbitrary. I think, tear it all out except the periphery and put some sparkle--and some teeth!--into the interior. And DIVE BAR?? No, no, no. It's a DIVE. Period. You could have used Dove Bar, with 1/4 cleansing cream. That might have caused you to get rid of Yet Another TTOP, along with that ridiculous ALTTAB. Here's a question even Wikipedia doesn't answer: what does the T in TTOP stand for? Never mind; I don't care. I only know I'm REALLY tired of seeing them in grids.

Methinks Mr. Shortz hath LOOSED his standards. SHALLI flunk this one? Nah, let's SETTLE for a D-. Sorry, sir.

rain forest 12:59 PM  

Hmm. I see the two sidemost columns containing all 12 (XII) themers which require BAR to complete theme, hence SIDE BARS. No problem here.

Apparently everyone had a Thursday-best time. Well, just enjoy it and stop complaining. Too often the commentariat just seems to want to find SOMETHING to complain about: too easy, too hard, wrong day, not enough "?" clues, too many "?" clues, bloody natick, things I don't know, things that are gimmes, no ABBR indicated, ABBR unnecessary, POCs, cultural references that are either old or new, rappers, Simpsons, proper names, French, Spanish words that should have a tilde, etc.

I enjoyed solving today's puzzle, easy as it was, and I will remember the theme for what it was. Plus there was little in the fill to complain about, although I know @Spacey will red-flag ACTI, but he gets a pass for that because his comments are invariably entertaining.

@Lady Di - thanks for noticing.

rondo 1:46 PM  

Not so sure about “easier than easy”, but not tough, IGUESS. Thursday is gimmick day for all of you who like that sort of thing, so this is what you SETTLE for. So I went bar-hopping early today.

Approaching record temps in MN on Saturday. Thank you ELNINO.

Saw yeah baby potential rising when KRIS___ showed up, but then disappointment after reading the clue.

Gambling can be fun, but it leaves a LOTTO be desired.

“I'm a man, but I can change, If I have to, IGUESS.”
Now really, NOBODY else thought of Red Green’s Man’s Prayer?!? C’mon people.

So this puz wasn’t AAARATED, deal with your precious gimmicks. SHALLI go on?

leftcoastTAM 5:12 PM  

Late to the party, but the BAR is still OPEN I hope.

Yes, it became easy after getting the revealer, but not so easy before that.

The one themer that I'm skeptical about is DIVE BAR. I've been to a few bars in my day; some of them were dives and some were just bars, but I don't think I ever heard of or patronized a "dive bar."

Not being up on the nuances of construction, I don't get what the "2 versus 3 columns" fuss was about. The whole structure seemed pretty solid to me.

strayling 6:37 PM  

One line down each side would be side lines; two turns them into side bars.

Side lines could make for a fun theme ...

leftcoastTAM 8:09 PM  

Yeah, IGUESS I was late to the party.

@spacecraft called out the DIVE BAR usage before I got here.

Anyhow, glad to share a moderated wave length with someone now and then.

Diana,LIW 11:25 PM  

One more reason not to speed solve - you actually get to enjoy a puzzle even when it's relatively easy. I say relatively because I also still solve the two puzzles in the Monterey Herald, and have plenty of EPEE, OLGA, OREO, OSLO, AYE, ETC, ETC. Makes this puz look like that cube by Mr. Rubik, whose first name I always forget.

This puzzle was a walk down memory lane for me. I briefly worked at a jewelry store (Bennett Brothers) on the 8th floor of a building near 42nd and Fifth Ave in NYC. From our windows we could look down on the stairs of the public library, and we often saw (and heard) the Hare KRISHNAs dancing and singing in their orange outfits.

Then along came the DIVE bar, Dirty Frank's, at 13th and Pine in Philadelphia. Think a low-down version of Cheers. Free peanuts - the shells all ended up on the floor. Along with the cigarette butts.

At a museum in London I noticed a sign for concessions. Good, a SNACK bar, I thought, only to discover (after asking the dumb American question as to its locale) that this is the Brit term for senior discounts. Put that in your bonnet, which, of course is part of your car. And not a T Top.

When I saw C V B N M - I was reminded of a story my Grandma used to tell me as a kid. A guy walks into a breakfast joint and asks:

"F U NE X?"
"S, V F X."
"F U NE M?"
"S, V F M."
"F U NE T?"
"S, V F T."
"OK, I F X N M N T."

Guess it helped that I was about five years old.

So, another drunken day at the Crossword Bar.

No Anne Klein today. I think she has a thing for Rondo. ;-)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords



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