Old you're going to like us sloganeer / WED 1-13-16 / Equine nibble / Frost mixed with pebbles / Pond admired from back porch / Poison used on TV's Breaking Bad / Type of laptop to printer connection

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Constructor: Jeremy Newton

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: THREE R'S (39A: Elementary education ... or feature of the last words punned upon in 17-, 29, 49- and 66-Across) —last words in theme answers are supposed to be puns (!?!?!) on words -ending in RR(O)R:

Theme answers:
  • ROCKY HOAR (17A: Frost mixed with pebbles?)
  • CLERICAL HEIR (29A: Priest getting what's coming to him?)
  • REARVIEW MERE (49A: Pond admired from the back porch?)
  • SHEER TEAR (66A: Chiffon mishap?) 
Word of the Day: MERE
• • •

SPECIAL MESSAGE for the week of January 10-January 17, 2016

Hello, solvers. Somehow, it is January again, which means it's time for my week-long, once-a-year pitch for financial contributions to the blog. The idea is very simple: if you read the blog regularly (or even semi-regularly), please consider what it's worth to you on an annual basis and give accordingly. In making this pitch, I'm pledging that the blog will continue to be here for you to read / enjoy / grimace at for at least another calendar year, with a new post up by 9:00am (usually by 12:01am) every day, as usual. This year is special, as it will mark the 10th anniversary of Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle, and despite my not-infrequent grumblings about less-than-stellar puzzles, I've actually never been so excited to be thinking and writing about crosswords. I have no way of knowing what's coming from the NYT, but the broader world of crosswords looks very bright, and that is sustaining. Whatever happens, this blog will remain an outpost of the Old Internet: no ads, no corporate sponsorship, no whistles and bells. Just the singular, personal voice of someone talking passionately about a topic he loves. As I have said in years past, I know that some people are opposed to paying for what they can get for free, and still others really don't have money to spare. Both kinds of people are welcome to continue reading my blog, with my compliments. It will always be free. I have no interest in cordoning it off, nor do I have any interest in taking advertising. I value my independence too much. Anyway, if you are so moved, there is a Paypal button in the sidebar, and a mailing address here:

Rex Parker
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And here: I'll stick a PayPal button in here for the mobile users.

There. Hope that helps.

For people who send me actual, honest-to-god (i.e. "snail") mail (I love snail mail!), this year my thank-you cards are "Sibley Backyard Birding Postcards"—each card a different watercolor illustration by ornithologist David Sibley. You could get a Black PHOEBE. A California TOWHEE. Or maybe even a picture of some fabled SCARLET TANAGERS (15). Or give via PayPal and get a thank-you email. That's cool too. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As I say in every thank-you card (and email), I'm so grateful for your readership and support. So thanks, not A TAD, but A TON (partial fill! coming in useful!). Now on to the puzzle …

• • •
This was the hardest Wednesday I've done in a long, long time. Comically hard for a Wednesday. My time was Friday ... maybe a little north of Friday. What in the world? Several things made this thing much tougher than your average Wednesday fare. Well, two things: structural issues and really, really hard cluing. So, structurally, this puzzle has that horrible quality where non-theme Acrosses are as long as theme Acrosses: in this case, they are right on top of one another (CHINA SHOP + ROCKY HOAR) , and *both* have "?" cluing, so, having done a billion puzzles, I see stacked, long "?" clues, naturally I think "they're both themers." The fact that the *next* long Answer (PEN NAMES) *also* had a "?", and was *also* (like CHINA SHOP) not a themer, made the whole top part seem like some kind of cruel joke: all the long answers have "?" clues, but only half of them are themers somehow? Yuck. In a well-made grid, you'd ditch the "S" in CHINA SHOP (or, rather, you'd ditch that white square, before you even filled the grid). But here, the puzzle is already at 78 words and can't go higher, so we get the awkward non-theme on top of theme thing. Then there's the matter of "What is the theme?" The revealer points to words being punned *on*. So ... it points to words that aren't here? The original words? This is a long, long way to go for a "joke." Further, those aren't "puns" so much as "mispronunciations." Lastly, MERE? As a "pond"? I see that it's "literary," and maybe I've seen it before, like in, I don't know, "Faerie Queene" or something, back in grad school, but holy mackerel.

More problems: SIDE TWO? Yikes. I am so used to A-SIDE SIDE A B-SIDE SIDE B that SIDE TWO looks bonkers (26D: "Hello Goodbye" to "All You Need Is Love" on the Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" album). Also, the phrasing on that clue makes it sound like it's cluing the relationship between the two songs (that is, what "Hello Goodbye" is "to" "All You Need Is Love"), rather than describing a gamut of songs running *from* one song "to" the other. Rough rough rough. Hard clues everywhere. Some of them are quite good, but man, save something for Friday / Saturday. The ZIT clue, for instance (23A: Bad spot for taking prom pictures). There's not even a "?" on that thing to let you know you're being had. That's at least the third trick clue in the upper third, and that's not counting themers. Then there's non-tricky, simply tough stuff. [PX patron] in three letters? Couldn't that be like a million different military abbrs., in theory? I've never heard of "Grand TIER" (opera house section). Again, WTF? I wrote in LOGE at first, I think. And does this puzzle really have Hitler in it? Really? Really? Hitler? *The* Hitler? I assume ADOLF is not the [First name in infamy] because Coors sucks. (Oh, sorry, that's ADOLPH Coors, not ADOLF  ... I guess you're pretty limited if you're gonna *insist* on going with ADOLF in your grid) (it's not like you *need* ADOLF Hitler down there, so I have no idea what the rationale was for including him).  In conclusion, this wasn't a Wednesday, and the revealer was just strange, and the puns aren't. Not really. Some of the cluing in this puzzle is quite clever. But this should've been a Thursday, for sure. It's tricky enough, and definitely Challenging enough.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:06 AM  

Tough for me too.

Reasons: (In addition to what Rex said).

SUlkY before SURLY, ACes before ACME, emo and rap before SKA, aspEN before OGDEN ( need to brush up on my Mtn. ranges).

EMMA was WOE as clued...Sands, Peel, Watson, Stone, Roberts...all would have worked.

Did not believe MERE was right even though it fit the theme.

Really liked this one, a crunchy Wed. with an unusual theme that actually helped with the solve (see above comment about MERE.) Plus some nice long downs.

Anonymous 12:08 AM  

Finished it and was still baffled by many of my (all correct) answers.

SIDETWO was a gimme (pace Rex).

Anonymous 12:09 AM  

Also, in NYC mere is spelled meer, as in Harlem Meer in Central Park. Messed me up for a bit.

Diana,WIL 12:25 AM  

Wow!! I mean, here, here - yes?

Enuf for me coming into the future, but I want to make a blast for the very recent past.

Many years ago I went to a conference in California where the speaker talked about the importance of cultural understanding via language. One of his examples was the Chevy car - the Nova. In EspaƱola, this means "no go" (no va) - not what you want your car to do. This impeded car sales in Mexico.

Some (more than 5) weeks ago, commentators were discussing a particular type of fish product that you could place upon a bagel, and many stated that they had NEVER heard of this "N-word" in relation to this fish product.

I grew up in NYC/Philly/Pa/NJ/NY-land, and since about 20 to 25-percent of my schoolmates in K-12 were Jewish, about 20 to 25-percent of my friends were Jewish. This brought about several benefits: 1) we had the Jewish holidays off from school, 2) we learned many Yiddish words and phrases, 3) we got to celebrate more holidays, 4) we learned about foods that were not in our parents' or grandparents' wheelhouse(s). For example: Nova Lox. So Nova Lox has always been a gimmee to me, just like Quaker Oatmeal or Oreo Cookies.

So, dear folks, here's my theory: We (East-Coasters near NY/Phila) learned to think of Nova Lox as a basic life form. Like fried chicken, or mac and cheese. We take it for granted that any store will have our Nova Lox. Those of us who grew up outside of this particular golden triangle didn't have this basic reference. So.............These folks don't look for the Nova "type" of salmon when they go shopping. They just don't notice what is right in front of them. However....

IT IS THERE!!! I am here to tell you - Nova is here. Where you are. I have lived in all four corners of the USA and the middle (Chicago.) I have NEVER lived anywhere in the US where you could not find Nova Lox. I tested this out in Pacific Grove, CA this week, and sure enuf, all four supermarkets had Nova Lox - most had two varieties (including Safeway and Trader Joe's).

So test this out. Right now. Yes, this means you. Get up from your desk and go to the store. Go to the deli, or fish and meat counter. You WILL see NOVA lox - most likely more than one option.

ghkozen 12:35 AM  

I'm mostly just offended now that I've Googled the "three r's." Reading, writing, and arithmetic? Are you for real?

Anonymous 1:14 AM  

egregious in every way, not least with its placement as a Wednesday puzzle. the "china shop" non theme answer was not tricky but ridiculous. just a terrible Wednesday puzzle and not a whit of pleasure in it

Carola 1:28 AM  

Hm, not sure about the theme...a metaphor for elementary education is used to characterize the second word in a two-word phrase, except instead of that actual word, we.....get CRAZY-EYED trying to explain it. But it was definitely "different," as we say around here.

Medium for me, as I got off on the wrong track in understanding the theme, thinking that the first was a play on "ROCKY shore," leaving me quite puzzled about the CLERIC. Once I got the reveal, I saw the HEIR-or in my thinking, and then the REAR VIEW MERE and SHEER TEAR came quickly. That chiffon catastrophe was the best of the puns, I thought - easy to imagine the terror at what might be exposed when hearing the r-r-r-r-rip: nice overlap between the feeling and its cause.

Grand TIER - do any opera fans know if any houses besides the Met have that section?

@Rex - In Beowulf, Grendel and his mother live in a MERE.

Deep Mac 1:39 AM  

@Rex: I agree with you about MERE. Meanwhile, thank you for making me aware of that meaning of the word (esoteric though it may be). I thought the "pun" was supposed to be taken literally (a still pond = a mirror?), which obviously would have violated the puzzle's internal logic.

John Child 1:57 AM  

Four perfect homophones where adding an R sound makes the wacky answer into a common phrase. Pretty cute! Ah'll take Mr Newton's word fur it that these sound lack dah-lect.

I saw this as add-an-R or even add-two-Rs wordplay rather than "three Rs," but was still glad for the reveal. Agreed with OFL that it was Friday difficulty. I'm perfectly happy with that. ;-)

Excellent takedown of ADOLF as clued. If you have to have the word in a puzzle at least make it something like {Shoemaker Dassler who equipped Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympic games}.

Phil 2:17 AM  

Better than my average. Only problem is the C in shakespear/rapper cross.
ZIT is not a play on words. Actually none of the theme answers are play on words.

Fun puzzle as crosses helped with any trickiness. I mean what else can it be but a TIER with TABOO and ICU gimmes.

Just an off day for Rex I'm sure

chefwen 2:20 AM  

Imagine my surprise when I saw Rex's rating as challenging, I gave it a medium slightly leaning toward easy, very slightly. I guess the difference would be that Rex analyzed it and I just went blindly ahead plugging in answers until the lightbulb flickered on and it all came together making some sort of sense. The first flicker came with SHEER TEARor, then ROCKY HOARor, then AHA we have theme, let's go. The THREE R'S bit ruled out the other longs as theme answers.

Only two write overs old before SAW at 20A and DwI before DUI. Both easily fixed.

Fun Wednesday puzzle, thank you Jeremy Newton.

Unknown 2:45 AM  

I'm with you on this one, Rex. I looked at my time, and thought "so-so for a Thursday", then remembered it was Wednesday. The theme was weird, but I kinda liked it. Getting it early helped. But "oil spot?" for MUSEUM was so not Wednesday. Having two side-by-side alternative answers (LOGE and APEX, instead of TIER and ACME) was also frustrating.

Anonymous 2:58 AM  

I agree with OFL. This was way harder than usual for a Wednesday. I checked my calendar to make sure I hadn't time warped to Thursday. I got the the little bell thingy without Googling so I guess it was fair. THREE R'S = HOAR HEIR MERE TEAR = horror error mirror terror. I never even saw it until I finished. Fun though.

Z 5:28 AM  

Back in the days when music came on vinyl there were a few odd albums that were side one and TWO instead of side A or B. I have no idea whether that was a label thing, an artist thing, or what. I don't know about Beatle's albums, but I bet somebody does.

Challenging here as well. The themer/non-themer stacks didn't slow me down, but the cluing did. Couples' getaway? When is the last time I needed two-thirds of the letters to suss ARK? I also had to work hard on some of the trivia answers. I'm not recalling having ever read EMMA Lazarus or visiting OGDEN. I've heard "a crazed look in his eyes," but CRAZY EYED got a definite, "huh?" from me. Lots to chew on today.

George Barany 6:05 AM  

@Jeremy Newton is one of the most creative constructors currently plying the cruciverbal arts -- usually on Sundays (a dozen times since his 2008 debut). I enjoyed this weekday puzzle (only his third such in the New York Times) a lot, and did not mind working through the tough parts. @Rex does bring up numerous valid points, as do several of the early commentators, and they've certainly given us a lot to think about.

Ultimately, the published product is a collaboration between constructor and editor, so when there is something specific that we especially love or take exception to, it's never clear who to exalt or criticize, respectively. Suffice it to say that I thought the fill/corresponding clues for CHINA_SHOP, SORCERER, and ARK were wonderful, and the chemistry angles in RICIN, ETHER, and LYE, and music angles in CUE and TIER, were very much in my personal wheelhouse. OTOH, the crossing of SKA with KOA was a "hold my breath" almost-Natick, and anyone who knows me can probably guess the two entries that I'm scratching my head about.

Loren Muse Smith 6:07 AM  

My fill-in-the-blank starts all failed me this morning, so I had "gyros" off the R in RICIN right out of the gate.

Yeah – I agree about the confusion of the length and ? clues of 14A and 17A. Before I looked at the reveal, I was thinking, wow. Look at those stacked themers.

I'm so glad Rex rated it challenging. It was definitely hardish for me for a Wedesday. @Andy Piacsek -at one point, I was considering "musk ox" for that oil spot.

I guess because the reveal names 3 Rs, and with the puns, I'm seeing either 2 that are removed or 1 that remains. I kept thinking I was not understanding something and that I'd be all, "Oh, I get it now" when I looked at the explanation.

Despite that, I appreciated seeing the words formed with two Rs vamoosed. It probably would have been wicked hard to construct and wicked hard to solve if there had been phrases where all 3 Rs are vamoosed, right? TRUCK DRIVER can become TUCK DIVE. Real knee-slapper, that.

Cool to see BUM so close to SKI and APR so close to SHOWER.

SURLY is a great word. So is HOIST.

MERE was a new one for me, too, in English. Even non-French majors could see "mom" there. I kinda like REAR VIEW MERE. Boy was my mom one. The eyes in the back of her head missed nothing that happened in the back seat. I could just reach over and thump my sister, and here came Mom's arm – left hand on the steering wheel, right hand looking for a leg to swat.

All in all, since my school is on a delay this morning, I was glad to have more of a challenge this morning, and liked this more than others. I'll just go stand with @jae (even though he's kicking my sari ark on Trivia Crack).

Anonymous 6:20 AM  

Hard for a Wednesday for sure.

What was that rant about nova? I pronounce that poster "bagel-eyed." And EspaƱola? WTF? The "nova" urban myth has been debunked. Just Google "nova urban myth." Here's a little more about it:


Don't even mention the "20-25% of my schoolmates...so 20-25% of my friends..." thing. You went to some markets in PG and this proves something? What is this? The new math?

Either drink more coffee and wait until the lights are on or resist the temptation to post.

smalltowndoc 6:22 AM  

I actually thought this was fairly easy. I liked the theme in general but the revealer was really a stretch. SIDE TWO is legit. It's certainly how I've always referred to the second side of an LP. When I here "side A" or "B side", or "flip side", I think of a "45".

Brett Hendrickson 6:27 AM  

This was a fun one. I did have ROCKYROAD before ROCKYHOAR, and AMP before ATM, but eventually figured it out. Normally the griping here is about bad fill. Today it was about hard clues.

smalltowndoc 6:29 AM  

@Z: Who authored the inscription on the Statue of Liberty? Clue: Her first name was Emma.

blinker474 6:51 AM  

Very tough and very strained, think I. Not at all enjoyable. Still shaking my head at "mere". Will never forget it. Least favorite answer in 50+ years of doing crosswords.

Anonymous 7:11 AM  

@Z, in my recollection, 45s had A and B sides, but 33s had Side 1 and Side 2.

elitza 7:18 AM  

SIDE TWO is maybe more a cassette tape thing, says the child of the 80s who's constantly perplexed by a-side, side-a, etc.

GRAND TIER I've definitely seen before. The Wharton Center in East Lansing uses that name for a section.

Weirdly, dropped in NCO and SKA right away, no trouble at all. We've been SCALDing milk to make Ovaltine pretty much nightly of late; it gets cold up here in the hinterlands of Northen Michigan. Lots of snow over the last few days, leading me straight to SKIS.

Good, fun puzzle for me that came in a solid 2:30 over average Wednesday time.

Chimera Phalse 7:26 AM  

For me, Wednesdays are usually the calm before the storm, but today the seas were quite choppy. I liked a few of the clues/answers but overall it was a bit of a slog. I believe MERE is a not uncommon suffix in England for some lake names. Think Windermere.

@Nancy-- Well played. It was fun while it lasted.

Anonymous 7:27 AM  

I'm surprised some folks found EMMA Lazarus to be obscure. She is most famous for her sonnet "The New Colossus" which is inscribed in the Statue of Liberty - "Give me your tired your poor your huddled masses yearning to be free. . ."

-- Jim C. in Maine

CerintheM 7:27 AM  

I thought the theme was a little silly. And it was definitely rough for me. I got a Friday time. Interestingly, I may have been less hung up about the themers, because I wasn't necessarily thinking ?+long=themer (relative crossword novice here.

I really liked the cluing, though. I thought ZIT, CHINA SHOP, and ARK were cute. Another thing that makes this puzzle harder - I bet if you're under 35, getting TWA and RAE will be headscratchers.

Someone said ICU was a gimme. I was held up because I had ACU, which is what I've seen as the surgical recovery unit specifically. Also had GO AWAY instead of GO AWOL.

I still don't know what a "Y" wearer is.

Imfromjersey 7:40 AM  

Tough Wednesday! If this were an AVCX puzzle, 73A would have been HORNY instead of RANDY.

Norm 7:47 AM  

Buttermere is one of the most beautiful lakes in England's Lake District National Park up in Cumbria. Windermere is even better known, and there are many other examples. MERE didn't bother me at all, and that was actually the only themer that I found amusing. Is ROCKY HOAR supposed to refer to the Rocky Horror Picture Show? Weird puzzle.

CerintheM 7:48 AM  

Also, I'm Jewish and grew up with NOVA so it's no weird to me. I've moved to the DC metro area and order it regularly here, so it's creeped below the Mason Dixon line. But I assume it's not a thing everywhere else. I'm wondering: should a clue be a nation-wide word? Would a word specific to the Pacific NW be okay?

Unknown 7:56 AM  

I didn't like MERE but I loved everything else. Had a blast and found it slightly easier than most Wednesdays (less opera trivia and more wordplay).

With very few exceptions, I don't see why any word should be banned from crosswords. I've argued this before, but to me crosswords are apolitical. They exist free of any context and are as able to offend as a dictionary. Also, the standards we apply to them are nonsensical. Bimbo is bad but nutso or loco (to describe a person who is mentally ill) is fine? Hitler is off limits but Idi Amin is okay? It makes no sense and it is an unnecessary critique.

Lobster11 8:00 AM  

I always find it interesting when half of us find a puzzle "challenging" and the other half find it "easy." More often than not I'm in the former group, but today I'm in the latter. In this case (and probably many others) I think it's a matter of the puzzle containing a lot of deceptive, Friday-like cluing, and you're either on the constructor's "wavelength" or not. On this lucky day I was.

Another factor for me might have been that I've been doing a lot of Patrick Berry puzzles since Santa brought me a copy of "Patricks' Puzzle Pandemonium," so I've had a lot of practice recently with tricky cluing.

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

I was tearing through this, delightedly taking all the non-theme word-play longs in stride, I knew MERE, but, alas, also "knew" it was a homonym of the adjective. Somehow I assumed it was MEir. (Golda from the back porch?) That derailed me considerably. I'm not a member of team gumdrops and lollipops, so I can stomach the name ADOLF. (Very tasteful to clue the name, not the man.) I was baffled by OFL's confusion regarding LP side designation; I hope the comments here have since restored him to his senses.

GILL I. 8:04 AM  

I got it, but I didn't get it...More of a "what happened here" moment.
But then I stared at it after I finished and I decided I liked it.
In Scotland, saying someone is RANDY means they are rude. I only knew of the "horny" thing until I met a RANDY who insisted his name was Randolph.
My mistake, which I didn't correct, was leaving in mEN NAMES because when I jettison I SCRAm.
@Z. "Give me your tired....."

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

NY Times crossword goes Godwin.

mambridge 8:10 AM  

I remember skating on Framlingham MERE (UK) way back when. I thought this was an easy Wednesday.

L 8:23 AM  

Totally messed up my MERE MEER misspelling (Harlem Meer in central park was my cue); liked ARK cluing a lot; the MET opera house has a grand TIER, but I didn't think that was a universal term so it seemed unfair; SIDE TWO is ridiculous. I cringed at the clue for CLERICAL HEIR at first, but am glad it went in a different direction. I can do without Hitler references in the puzzle as well. Very hard Wednesday, DNF for me.

mathgent 8:26 AM  

@Carola: The War Memorial Opera House here in San Francisco has a Grand Tier.

TABOO for "Don't do it" is unusual. You can't substitute one for the other in an expression as you can with similar clues and answers.

RooMonster 8:31 AM  

Hey All !
Yowza. Put me in the hard-clues-for-a-WedsPuz group. Also the thinking at first extra themers group. Did enjoy once I grocked the missing RR's thingamajig, but revealer seems skewed. Each one has an R, but are missing two. Is that what it means? Or the R that's there is arbitrary, and each resulting "rror" spin just happened to end up with an R? I kept thinking that it was just a removal of "or" resulting in, as Rex puts, wackiness, but the revealer basically SCRAPed that. So, odd.

Fill was good, that SW corner needed a redo. I mean ADOLF and the cheating PATS? Come on. Wanted "asses" for the PATS answer. :-) I don't mind teams that are good and win alot, but how many times can a team be accused of something before people start not liking them? /rant

Ha erodE for ABATE causing all sorts of havoc. Couple of other writeovers, bOoST-HOIST, her-SHE. Left half of puz was way easier than right half, not sure why. But managed to wrangle everything out, and finished with no airs (har, errors)! Big threes count, 26 of them critters. Light dreck, though.


Hungry Mother 8:42 AM  

I always break a sweat on Wednesdays, so this didn't seem too strange. I got the theme early on and just kept at it.

Rex, thanks for providing me with a place to go after I solve the NYT puzzle each day. I'm so stubborn that I don't come here when I DNF; those are the days when I could learn something. My check is in the mail. As a former resident of Cape May, I eagerly await a Sibley card.

Tita 8:43 AM  

Well, I liked the puzzle themers, but thought the revealer was not spot-on. Even after reading Rex and @lms, I don't buy it. And what of the R's in the first words?

Let me instead quote the famous OGDEN Nash ditty...
The 3-R'd MIRror is so you can see..
That 2-R'd MERE, a tiny inland sea.

Liked the ARK clue. Oil spot feels like it is trying too hard.

AMI is no bud. It's friend. Maybe copin, mec, type...and even then, not apples to apples, since bud is short for buddy.

But, I mostly enjoyed the solve, and guessing the themers.

Rex...this is another one of your posts that cast a glimmer into the fog that surrounds the constructor-wannabe part of my brain. I want to understand this, but I confess I don't...can anyone clarify further?
"In a well-made grid, you'd ditch the "S" in CHINA SHOP (or, rather, you'd ditch that white square, before you even filled the grid). But here, the puzzle is already at 78 words and can't go higher..."

Thank you, Mr. Newton.

r.alphbunker 8:45 AM  

This puzzle brought to mind the use/mention distinction
For example,
Rex Parker thought today's puzzle was hard. (Use)
"Rex Parker" has 3 Rs (Mention)

Omitting quotes to confuse use with mention is done a lot in crossword puzzles. For example {Plot element} instead of {"Plot" element}


RooMonster 8:54 AM  

Better SW corner (also ODON??, which I missed dissing in my original post:-P)

I'm sure I can get it a little better, but this will do!


Generic Solver 8:56 AM  

Aside from the complaints about certain clues that have been duly noted, my main gripe is that the puns depend to some extent on speaking with a certain accent. For example, "mere" has a long "e", but I don't pronounce the word "mirror" as "meerror", although I have met some people who do. Puns should be at least "similar sounding", and it is a little bit of a stretch IMO to say mere and mirror are similar enough sounding so that one may be used as a pun for another.

Z 8:58 AM  

@smalltowndoc - Thanks.

@Anonymous 7:11 - I think you are probably correct. All my vinyl is long gone and I never did buy 45's, so I've no way of (personally) confirming.

@ghkozen - You had to google THREE R'S? Wow. Just... Wow. It is amazing how cultural memes that you think will never disappear do. I always preferred the new three R's, Rigor, Responsibility, and Relationships. All good teachers practice, instill, and demand these from all their students.

Ludyjynn 9:09 AM  

This was a very unpleasant medium solve, owing to some bizarre cluing and answers others have duly noted. However, it also contained a nice reference to EMMA Lazarus, who penned "The New Colossus" from which we all know "...give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free..." (coincidentally, an answer on "Jeopardy" last night).

I have had the pleasure of being seated in the Grand TIER at the Met in NYC and at the Royal Opera House in London. This is a common designation at opera house venues. Best views also mean higher ticket prices, BTW!

Worst childhood memory, still vivid, was being a five year old in the ICU vomiting from ETHER, the 'state of the art' anesthetic of the day. Maybe that's why this puzzle left a bad taste in my mouth?

Amidst the wreckage, I also liked the clever clues for CHINA SHOP and MUSEUM. That's about it.

Happy Hump Day.

ArtO 9:17 AM  

Tough and tricky for sure. Didn't know MERE but knew the punned word had to be MIRROR so DNF.

As for the nova lox references....nova is generally considered a step above lox in quality. Until today I'd never heard it referenced as nova lox. It's either one or the other.

Dorothy Biggs 9:28 AM  

@CerintheM: An "Eli" is the name of a someone who goes to Yale. They wear a "Y" on their clothes.

This one definitely took longer than normal, but it went fast and it didn't seem to be all that challenging...just longer.

Thanks to this puzzle, I now have the "School Days" ear worm..."Readin', and writin', and 'rithmetic, taught to the tune of a hick'ry stick..."

quilter1 9:40 AM  

I'm in the @chefwen camp, just kept putting in answers until I got the theme and then easy-peasy. Guess I was on the author's wave length today. Also surprised to hear how many are unfamiliar with Emma Lazarus. Learned about her in history in elementary school and then learned more through PBS programs throughout my long life. MERE was no problem. I guess we all got different educations.

jberg 9:42 AM  

"Perfect homophones" (@John Child)-- really? Do some people (most people?) pronounce MERE and mirror the same? To me, the latter has two syllables, the former one. That's OK, because you can do that in puns, and all the themers do it consistently. I'm just wondering if there's regional usage i'm missing.

"MERE, MERE, on the wall,
Who's the fairest of them all?"

I don't think so.

What's a little not OK is that "Rocky Horror" doesn't stand alone, it's got to have "Picture Show" added to be a thing -- all the other punned-upon phrases are things-in-themselves, as old Kant would have said.

And to get really picky, Japan has imperial palaces in Tokyo and Kyoto -- maybe more for all I know -- so the "the" in 69A should be "an."

On the other hand, I don't mind seeing infamous people in the puzzle as long as they are clued as such.

I liked the puzzle, maybe because I knew MERE. The one in Central Park is named in Dutch, to go with Harlem.

jberg 9:45 AM  

I wasn't going to mention it, but there were a couple quotations from the poem. What those huddled masses are yearning for is to "breathe" free. Synecdoche, I guess -- much more poetic!

chefbea 9:49 AM  

Too tough for me. Hated the puzzle. Will now read all 47 comments...maybe someone has explained the word RANDY...never heard that term

Tita 10:00 AM  

@jberg and John Child...I beef to differ with you both...
Far from perfect homophones, unless you're from Texas.
At least, that's the part of the country that I hear when I say the punny phrases.

I had an instructor from Dallas deliver a class to a room full of Germans. When I pleaded with her to try to enunciate as much as possible, she replied "But i cain't taaawk any slaaaar."

Also, my sister has a poster that the first grade teacher when they lived in Houston made of what the kids wanted to be when they grew up.
One kid wanted to be a baseball plar.

Hartley70 10:01 AM  

Interesting analytic distinction today used as a constructor's trick, or should I say "trick" @r.alphbunker?

The clock is telling me this was tough, but I didn't have any HEIRS, I just had to think ALOT. If you binge watch "Orange is the New Black" you know about CRAZYEYED women sitting up in the Danbury Correctional joint. (Take care @Tita cause I'm a little concerned about all that Presepio building. LOL!) Even knowing about CRAZYEYEs, I still found that corner tough until I didn't. I kept trying LAN until USB smacked me in the face.

It was a really, really weird theme, but I got it, so what does that say about me?

Louise 10:05 AM  

Finished grid correctly, but still didn't "get it" because "mere" was pulled out of the ether. This is the first time I have made a comment on your blog, but because I love it, look for a PayPal donation from me.
One more note: I'm on vacation on a small island off the SC coast, but the daily NYT is available, praises be. I'm reminded of Jon Stewart's quip when asked (in the film "Word Play") whether he "needs" to do the puzzle every day.
"Well, it's not insulin, but......"
Have a good week, all!

Sir Hillary 10:06 AM  

Yes, super difficult for a Wednesday, for all the reason OFL and others have stated. But since Saturday-esque crunch is welcome in my world every single day, hooray!

Yes, very tough theme to suss. But it feels original, which is really hard these days. Plus, I learned a new usage of the word MERE. Again, hooray!

Yes, seeing ADOLF in a puzzle is unusual. But the great takedown of a clue (noted by @John Child) mitigates the shock of what, to me at least, is a silly TABOO anyway. Not a hooray moment, but certainly a whew.

Thank you, Jeremy Newton!

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

In nyc we say nova without the lox.

PoorLittleLamb 10:21 AM  

Eli ad in Eli Yale.

ghkozen 10:24 AM  

@Z I definitely prefer these new three R's, which I am also just learning about. Not only do they seem critical to successfully running a classroom, they also evince a basic understanding of how R's work.

TonySaratoga 10:26 AM  

Agree with ZIT clue fail sort of. Buzzfeed, which Rex raves about almost to the point of suspicion, employs lots of clues that don't indicate a twist coming, so I figure it's the new thing. Loved to be challenged on a Wednesday. Loved it.

cwf 10:26 AM  

I didn't find this all that difficult; only had to go through the clockwise rotation twice and then polish off a few empty squares. Also, as to @Rex's complaint regarding non-theme ?-clued answers stacked with ?-clued theme answers, well, the theme answers were explicitly listed in the revealer clue. This is one of the few times when that was actually a useful feature.

chefbea 10:35 AM  

@Louise Aucott..welcome. Hope you stick around....are you related to the author of my favorite book? Little Women

kozmikvoid 10:36 AM  

Agree with Rex today with all but one comment: I don't think this would be OK even for a Thursday. I've been solving for a while, but am relatively new to this blog. I've learned quite a bit about the process behind puzzles appearing in the NYT, from inception of the idea to actual publication. And I just don't see how this one made the cut. Theme answers are supposed to stand out. Stacking themers and non-themers of the same length just looks unnatural. And the fill? The "puns"? Blech.

I liked the clue for MUSEUM. But I think we're getting a little loosey-goosey with the words associated with volunteers. They have both said and been told quite a few different expressions in 2016 alone. It seems a bit lazy.

Emma Lazarus 10:36 AM  


'Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free'

There's a 'reath' inside that 'be'

Unknown 10:45 AM  

@ Diana,WIL 12:25 AM – Si va (‘yes goes”) on the NOVA (not “no va”). It SAYS A LOT. Nothing to SNEER at.

@ Anonymous 6:20 AM – Re my post @yesterday, your rant against @ Diana,WIL is a perfect example of the incivility many people seem to think is acceptable these days. Do you know the old saying, “If you can’t say something nice….”?

Hmmmm…I did it today using the NYT online, filled in my last letter and was fully expecting my usual “Almost there” message. Instead “Dum…,da-di-da-da-dunt…dunt…dum-donk!” YAY ME!

So, says I, given I thought it was quite tough, but was able to get it anyway, I came here to see an @Rex “Easy.” “Challenging?” YAY ME! And I liked it a lot, in spite of not really getting the theme until I read @REX.

“Eclipse” – thought I nailed it with OUTshine! Such a clever answer! Like shadow something to shine. Oh well……

The musical clues for this musician:

The Beatles tunes: I wanted “same key” (don’t know if that is even true).

“Maestro’s signal:” I was at my weekly orchestra rehearsal last night where our maestro gave many CUEs. Could I figure that answer out? Not until I had both the C and E filled. (sigh) .

I often watch re-runs of Law & Order: SVU, so ICE-T is sort of a “house-hold” name for me. I’m also impressed he morphed into being a fine actor. Likewise there is rapper Rob Van Winkle - Vanilla ICE – who morphed (starting in the 1990s [Wiki]) into a being luxury home renovator.

I was an NCO (in other parlance a petty officer), but only was in a PX once. However “ship’s stores” (by land or by sea) were another matter.

Lastly: “Y” wearer??? YMCA? “Y” what?? Only got it with the crosses....WTF....after having spent 4 years if my life during which I wore one many times!!!???…..(BIG sigh!)


Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:46 AM  

I learned 'The New Colossus' by Emma Lazarus in grammar school. I suppose they must have stopped teaching it, probablyu around when they stopped teaching grammar. It's a pity, it's a major piece of what ma(de)kes America great.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning,
And her name, Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome;
Her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor
That twin cities frame.
"Keep, Ancient Lands, your storied pomp!"
Cries she with silent lips.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Mohair Sam 10:47 AM  

Agree with most of you that this was a really tough Wednesday, but I think we liked it a lot more than most, great cluing. Oddly, we kind of agree with most of @Rex's grumps as well.

Grand TIER a gimme - actually once sat there at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center for "Tosca" (and yeah, we're green with envy @Ludyjynn). All the bad guys in "The Count of Monte Cristo" sat in the Grand TIER, if I'm not mistaken.

I'll bet Donald Trump has his hand up with the group who had no gimme with EMMA Lazarus.

Puzzle was made a bit easier for me because Syracuse native Mrs. M. always pronounces mirror as MERE, error as HEIR, and horror as HOAR - so the theme was a snap. I'm thinking it's an upstate New York thing. For some reason terror remains terror, go figure.

Took a trip through England's Lake District about a century ago and got used to a MERE being a lake, so the shift to pond wasn't to difficult.

gifcan 10:50 AM  

Failed in the NE corner. With GUCCI and CITI, OSRIC and ZIT. Couldn't put it together.

Otherwise, I did ok, relying on crosses.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

Unless something goes horribly wrong or you're horribly sick to begin with, ICU is NOT a "Post-operation site, for short". Speaking of ICU, Rex would all but have to be there for me to spend on time on his whiny blog.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Clearly Diana has strong feelings about NOVA, which did NOT appear in today's puzzle. But then neither did OBAMA. So I'm happy about that.

mac 11:05 AM  

Challenging for a Wednesday, alright!

I spelled Risin with an s and that produced "risky ..." Trouble right off the bat. Muscat at 51D got me into trouble there.

The "mere" was no problem, have read it enough (Lady Windermere?) and the word for lake, in Dutch, is meer.

I enjoyed having something to gnaw on this cold morning.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

This played like a thurs. I generally do o.k. with puns and found this on my brainwave. I rarely can do end of week puz so I don't think this is Friday difficult. I thought the comment about amin being OK but Hitler not in a puzzle thought provoking. Likewise that a puzzle like a dictionary can have any word but I do think the cueing is important. For instance if amin were clued as world leader I'd find it offensive. Did the puzzle imply that early ed is filled with horror terror and errors??

archaeoprof 11:08 AM  

Dassler's frinds called him Adi. When a certain athletic shoe company was born, they shortened Adi Dassler to Adidas.

Masked and Anonymous 11:10 AM  

@009: Just went to the upstairs closet, dug deep, and pulled out an LP album. It was on RCA. Examined the labels on each side of the record. First side has a real big "1" on it. Second side has a real big "2" on it. QED. And, U R welcome -- M&A doesn't dig into that day-um closet mess for just anyone.

fave weeject: DUI. Duck bro of HUI and LUI. (Always luv doin that.)

I didn't have all that much trouble with the puz. It's just a pretty much normal puz, after all. U want tough?? -- then, do that last Saturday Stumper by Frank Longo. This here Jeremy Newton is a pussycat, by comparison. (Like @John Child, I don't mind it when a WedPuz gets slightly feisty, anyhoo.)

And what's all this confused excitement about how long some of the non-themers are? Shoot, the dern 39-A revealer clue plumb spells out all the themers for yah. Hard not to notice 39-A: it has a clue that's longer than snot, and the clue has a buncha grid numbers piled up in it. The 39-A clue was even positioned right at the top of the puzpage, if U do the paper version. If it had been any more obvious, it woulda reached out and grabbed yer cinnamon roll.

Gotta admit, I wasn't too familiar with the MERE in the 49-A themer, tho. Learned somethin, there, bigtime. Next time I go fishin with Cletus, will have to point out how calm (or whatever) the MERE is that day. Good salty conversation starter.

@roo--Nice refill on the SW region. I'd probably gone with ALOOF over ANOAF (or ADOLF). Does get U some foreign OYE stuff, since there ain't a whole lot decent to put into a ??K?O slot other than TOKYO. The rest of the SW-fillins then become a cakewalk.

Thanx, Mr. Newton, for the fun Rocky Hoar Show.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

Unknown 11:15 AM  

@Z 8:58 AM to @ghkozen 12:35 AM -

A perfect example of civility: You didn't make fun of him for having to look it up but rather expressed surprise that this was evidence that a well-known cultural meme may no longer be a meme.

Nicely played!


Unknown 11:17 AM  

No, no, Diana! The "no va" is an urban auto industry (incorrect) legend, much like FORD - fix or repair daily/found on road dead. The Nova sold pretty well in Spanish-speaking countries. You could look it up - try Snopes!

gifcan 11:21 AM  

And another thing, with an incorrect CITo I tried Zoo. What's the problem with taking prom pictures at the zoo? Oh yeah, monkeys throw crap and camels spit. That's not good for suits and dresses.

My stretch-to-fit led to a DNF.

Unknown 11:47 AM  

@ Wednesday's Child 11:21 AM - You're not alone. My thoughts exactly about "Zoo." Sort of plausible so I had in and out for a while. Llamas spit as well and the after smell of the rental duds? Think fumigate.

Gene 11:58 AM  

One of the rare times I completely agree with Rex's critique.

Lewis 11:59 AM  

What @Lobster11 said in his first paragraph.

For me, crunchy but still in Wednesday level of difficulty. I guess it comes down to if you're on the wavelength. Loved the clues for PENNAMES, ZIT, ATM, ARK, and MUSEUM. I only marked down one answer I liked: BUMASMOKE because I love the verb "bum". I think the cluing for the consecutively clued down answers TIER and ACME might have been a touch more elegant if the former was clued "Top _____" and the latter "Top".

The theme had one layer of complexity more than a typical theme, and that is to its credit, IMO. Out of the box? Check. Brainwork? Check. Boring? No. Thanks for this, Jeremy!

Anoa Bob 12:04 PM  

jberg@9:42, glad to see I wasn't the only one who noticed that three of the punees, CLERICAL ERROR, REAR VIEW MIRROR & SHEER TERROR are stand-alone phrases, while ROCKY HORROR isn't. That seems like a glaring, discordant, 110 decibel disconnect to me.

Roo@8:45, why are you giving me a failing grade in your SW corner rework?

Waiting with baited breath for the final word in the lox/nova debait.

Nancy 12:10 PM  

Now that my computer has finally deigned to allow me to post (more about that to come), I'm here to say that this is one of the most challenging Wednesdays I've ever seen and that I loved the puzzle, even though I think the theme is really weird, pronunciation-wise. Why did I love it? Well, I'm always begging for oblique clues that are not straightforward -- and this puzzle had it in spades. "Market not to be bullish in" may have been my favorite, though I also really liked "Pick from another's pack", "Couples' getaway" and others too numerous to mention. The theme, because of the errant pronunciations, failed to convince me or satisfy me, but it didn't matter. And that's because the solving experience was such truly "puzzling" fun.

My computer this a.m. was hijacked by some endless 17-step downloading Microsoft function I didn't ask for and was powerless to stop. It took forever. Fortunately, Hartley 70 picked that time to call, and by the time we finished our long, enjoyable conversation, the computer was turned back over to me. It helped me forget about my annoyance and frustration, although I'm now posting so late, I doubt this comment will appear much before midnight. I HATE COMPUTERS!

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

I was very curious about Rex's take on this one, which I solved yesterday evening (if 9-10PM counts as evening): I thought I was having a bad day, so I was happy Rex also had difficulty.

I got through it at a steady, if slow, pace, getting stuck in the NE. ZIT finally came to me, and that was the major hurdle to completion. But it took me a long time to get it, with that clue (CAR seemed more logical).

I hope this is not an foreshadowing of Thursday-Saturday difficulties!

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Disagree with @anonymous 11:05AM: I visited my attorney in the ICU after his bypass operation---he was conscious, alert, and just resting, so I presume it was precautionary; but definitely not just in cases where something went wrong.

Andrew Heinegg 12:40 PM  

I started out not liking this until it won me over somewhat. I liked some of the clues but, as always,if you are going to pun your puzzle, make them groaners or don't make them at all.

Young uns that have never used vinyl records may be excused for not not knowing side 1 and 2. But, they were listed as such on the LP itself and/or the album cover. And, oh by the way, vinyl stereo records produce a better sound quality than cds do.

I have no objection to the Adolf Hitler clue or any other crossword clue and answer that references historical evil or historically evil people for the simple reason that, if you forget about history, you are doomed to repeat it. You are not glorifying the acts or the people if you put them in the puzzle with appropriate opprobrium, so to write.

I did not remember meer/mere as a body of water but the crosses demanded it so I put it in. To me, that is a prime example of being fair in a crossword with an answer that is not generally known by crossing it with sussable words.

I would give it a B- if I was a crossword professor grading it.

Janine 1:14 PM  

The theme is based on the observation that there are many times that actual human speech is at variance from the perfect pronunciation indicated by written speech. For example, if you say “She went downtown” — nobody pronounces the first “t”. (Or when you say the word “it’s” the “t” gets dropped.) It’s something we do that we’re not aware of, and it’s something that people who actually do it will deny they do. But if you make it a project and try to write down every time your conversational pronunciation takes such a short cut away from “perfection” you’d need a big piece of paper. In the phrase “Mirror mirror on the wall” you will of course pronounce “mirror” with two syllables, because the rhythm dictates. But when you’re speaking quickly to a garage mechanic and use the phrase from the puzzle, you won’t. You may feel the tongue muscle spasm, but the mechanic won’t hear it. I thought the theme answers were interesting examples that are not obvious, and that people might at first deny.

It’s under-discussed and under-noticed. Somebody told me she always comes to a complete stop at every stop sign. But I went for a ride with her, and she didn’t realize that in fact she (an excellent driver) NEVER comes to a complete stop. She thinks she does though. Same thing. (I’m looking at you @jberg) We all do things we don’t realize. We’re human, right? Ah, humanity, bring us your tired …

The B-side on a 45 is the side the band writes in the car on the way to the recording studio.

thfenn 1:22 PM  

I liked this one. Completed it without any cheating in slightly under my average (still a thrill for a Wednesday, for me - finishing one of these continues to be a thought provoking way to spend half an hour). Little confused by what were themes and what weren't, but that got cleared up once you hit the cluing for THREERS (tho initially wanting PRIMARY there didn't help). And getting that revealer help me complete the themes, which is also still fun (fell in to place for me with TEAR/TERROR). Couldn't for the life of me figure out how 'Oil spot' led to MUSEUM, or how 'Use in great excess' led to ODON, but the lightbulbs eventually went off (or on, I suppose). Still think the ODON clue should have hinted at an abbreviation, but guess that's OK. All in all, a fun one.

Teedmn 1:45 PM  

Tougher than average but mostly due to being homophone challenged today (auto-correct wanted that to be "homophobe". Boy, would my face have been red!!). 9D was GOAWay which led me to put SeW in at 21A for some odd reason. Later, when I came back to fix my 9D problem, i was hindered by 22D being un-suss-able due to the E of SeW. Finally I decided NOSY would fit 27A and I was done.

I had a Greek restaurant in my Indian cuisine, a la @LMS, starting 1A with pitAS but almost immediately overwrote that to SARIS, confirmed by INK. I'm ashamed that even while I was entering EzrA for poet Lazarus, I was thinking, "Wasn't the woman who wrote the poem on the Statue of Liberty named EMily Lazarus?". I fixed that while thinking such ignorance should be TABOO. I assumed 2D was being said with a SNEER but "give me A break" didn't fit - nice to see it was the lead in to 'Home on the Range'.

I thought the puzzle was fun, although reading @Carola's summary made me see the inherent incoherence ("Whackiness ensued" seems to describe it well enough). So thanks, JN for a fresh theme and the plethora of ?? Clues.

dick swart 1:56 PM  

While this was gettable with a lot of work, the so-called 'puns. were the worst in the history of man.
Usually a bad pun is a 'groaner'.But it is still funny ... which I thought was the point of a pun.

There were pronunciation to be worked on with Professor Higgins!

John V 2:14 PM  

First Wednesday DNF in memory. Just could not get it.

Ludyjynn 2:22 PM  

@EmmaL, thanks for the shout out. I could say I was just testing the waters to see if anyone would catch my taking poetic license...or just admit I screwed up in my haste to post the excerpt before running errands. Sorry about that!

@ChuckMcG, I agree w/ your comment about ICE T and Vanilla Ice's transformations. But now you've got me stuck w/ an "Ice, Ice, Baby" earworm!

OISK 2:24 PM  

I love puns, but for some reason did not particularly enjoy these. This played like a Thursday for me, but I did finish it. The stuff I had no idea about - POM is a juice drink brand??? - Beatle songs?? was easy enough to get from the crosses.

Surprised no one mentioned (or perhaps I missed it) "Randy Andy," an epithet frequently applied to Britain's Prince Andrew...

nick 2:51 PM  

Foundered on 'mere' but loved the curveball of a hard Wednesday.

Are there no 21st-century clues for 'rae'?

Blue Stater 3:05 PM  

Absurdly difficult, absolutely joyless, even though I got it. The rot continues.

Unknown 3:16 PM  

I'll be honest Rex -- I love it when I breeze through a puzzle and come here to find that you called it 'challenging' (often enough it's the other way around) :D

CerintheM 3:19 PM  

And while these puzzles are too often New York-parochial, let me say that to a native New Yorker, HORROR without the -OR definitely does not sound like HOAR. More like HAR.

Unknown 3:31 PM  

Looking at my vinyl copy of Magical Mystery Tour on Capital Records, it has Side 1 and Side 2.

RooMonster 4:01 PM  

Ok @Anoa F, er, I mean, Bob! Here's a non-you-involved redo:

YAKKO would be Warner Brother sibling, from Animaniacs.


Z 4:56 PM  

Apparently the challenging puzzles bring out the entire commentariat. 88 and counting.

@ghkozen10:24 - your "evince" comment elicited a genuine LOL.

@Chuck McGregor11:15 - Thanks, although it's a little sad that it is remarkable.

@Anoa Bob, @jberg, @Tita and @Janine - I'm more or less with with @Janine, in typical speech these words are so close to perfect homonyms as to be considered perfect homonyms. Sometimes the meter or the need to be clearly understood will make mirror or horror into two syllables.

@chefbea - RANDY = horny

@Tita8:43 - No constructor here, but make CHINA SHOP into CHINA HOP with a black square in between and the same length issue is taken care of. However, 78 words is the upper limit, so this would require major reworking ( since the change here and in the symmetrical spot at the bottom makes it an 80 word puzzle.

I'm feeling bad now that I didn't know EMMA Lazurus. I have never been big on memorization tasks, but can we require all political candidates to recite this poem in public before being allowed on a ballot anywhere. I'm sure we'd be a better country if we made this a requirement for office.

Charles Atthill 5:05 PM  

Maybe it helped that I am English: lots of Meres in England; I am often Randy, but seldom Horny (not such a common English usage); and yes, very nice Grand Tier at the Royal Opera House in London. My wife (American) and I had fun with this, for us, Easy Wednesday puzzle, much easier than yesterday's. She is great on American cultural allusions and language, I on classical references, European rivers, musical terms. The rest we wrangle together, until we end up laughing at Rex's and the rest of your comments, read aloud with an English accent.

Moebius 5:35 PM  

I owned a lot of vinyl in the years before the advent of CDs. For singles, the A-side was what the publishers wanted the radio DJs to play and the B-side was almost a throwaway (although there were a battery of 45's whose B-sides were so good that they were sometimes referred to as double-A-sides). With albums, there was never a B-side, it was side TWO, the continuation of side ONE. You didn't listen to the first side and think to yourself you'd listen to side two when you got bored with side one. Sic semper erat, et sic semper erit, seculo seculorum.

MattG 5:58 PM  

Found this to be pretty tough. As for the southwest corner, I don't mind Hitler (after all, he is a real historical figure) but ODON and POM seem less than ideal. I think the easy fix of:


(ODON to UDON and POM to BUM)

Clearly I've been reading Rex for too long!

DigitalDan 6:12 PM  

On the straightforward side for me. Got theme early, didn't know MERE. Finished higher than usual. Go figure.

Joe 7:11 PM  

I thought this was hard. I got MERE, but only because, until now, I thought that was how the Harlem Meer was spelled.

LindaPRmaven 7:33 PM  

Played medium for me. Surprised @Rex's challenging. MERE fell right into place. The UK Lake District must have made a bigger impression than I recall

Nancy 8:26 PM  

@Janine (1:14 pm)-- Just as we all have our own illusions, we likewise all have our own elisions. Please don't tell me that I don't pronounce the first T in "went downtown", because I do. Don't tell me that I don't pronounce the T in "its", because I do. On the other hand, I plead guilty to not pronouncing the first T in "Don't tell me." I also say "Donchoo know" and "I'm gonna do that". Everyone elides, but not everyone elides in the same way. Also, thanks to whoever pointed out that, for a native NYer, the shortened form of "horror" could never be "hoar". It would have to be "har".

Bob Kerfuffle 9:30 PM  

May have been an advantage to come to this puzzle late in the day, tired, and a trifle grumpy. I found it to be pleasant, mildly challenging, and fun.

What hasn't been said in 100+ comments? Well, @Bill Foy: Years ago, one of my best friends always said that FORD stood for "Fix or repair daily," but as a knowing joke, not that he actually believed it to be so. But I, as one who was much more into words than cars, would always think (but never say), "Why doesn't he say it means 'Fix or replace daily'? After all, "fix" and "repair" just mean exactly the same thing."

Diana,LIW 10:39 PM  

@McGregor - thanks for the "courtesy please" call

@Nancy - coming from the Philla/NJ area, I'm sure you're familiar with "Hey, hah yah dewin?" "Good! I'm goin' dahn tha shua this weekend."

All others - sorry! I buried the headline. My previous post was not about Nova (the car or the lox). It was about our all too human tendency to, when seeing something out of our wheelhouse, think that thing/idea/reference must be a "regional thing." For example, how one refers to his/her Grape NeHi as a soda/sodapop/pop/tonic/coke/cocola/soft drink, etc. I just used Nova Lox as an example of a non-regional thing - one I CLEARLY labeled as a response to a 5-week-old post (I live in Synderella Land, for pities sake!) However, Nova (as in the salmon or lox) has been mentioned on this blog a few times, always with the astonishment comment "I've NEVER heard of this!"

My point, again, is that just 'cause you haven't heard of something (or aren't aware that you've heard of it) doesn't mean it doesn't exist in your own back yard. I chose this example because most of you (I'm assuming here) go to the grocery store now and then. So, while you're roaming the aisles, you could check the deli section for Nova Lox. (Yes, BOTH words will be on the package.) I can pretty much guarantee that whether you live in NYC, Florida, Texas, Washington (State), Idaho, California, Alaska, or Peoria, you will find Nova Lox, humbly awaiting your Sunday brunch. And my further point is that if you live in an area where ANY ethnic/religious/cultural/national group might make you aware of something, you are more likely to be familiar with that thing/product/idea/brand etc.

My mom's parent's were Finnish, so I grew up with Lutefisk - a delicacy that is an acquired taste that I never acquired. I would never suggest you try it. Garrison Keillor makes fun of it. (Think bland, gelatinous fish thing with bad texture.) So if you've lived around a bunch of Finns, you most likely haven't acquired this "taste."

That's all. If you're not aware of "it," it just might still exist in your neighborhood.

Just sayin'

Diana, Lady-In-Waiting for Crosswords

Nancy 11:37 PM  

@Diana LIW -- But I DON'T come from the NJ/Philly area. I'm a born and bred Manhattanite, and other than my time at college, have always lived here. I have a friend from college, born and raised in Summit NJ and she doesn't talk the way you describe. I have another friend from Philly originally, came to NY around age 9 or 10, I think. She doesn't talk the way you describe either. I'm not sure I've EVER heard anyone talk the way you describe, to tell the truth. Maybe in a TV sitcom?

Teedmn 12:07 AM  

Aw, but @Diana LIW, the trick is to bury the fishy jello-like substance in the mashed potatoes and smother it all with the all-spice flavored roux. That's what the Swedes I know do to their "delicacy". It hides the texture at least. And you are supposed to be drinking copious amounts of punsch (schnapps) with it also.

Anonymous 12:35 AM  

Y = Yale, so an Eli (Yalie) wears it

Phil 2:58 AM  

'Too abstract even for Joan'

No. 1 Windermere Fan 6:57 AM  

I'll bet @AnoaBob is still chortling over his 'waiting with baited breath'. Put a lox on it, @A-bob!

Hoardy, hoard hoared!

Greg 10:20 AM  

Nashville Opera at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center has a "Tier".

Louise 7:36 AM  

Always loved her books as a kid. It's been my surname since 1973. People are always trying to put an "L" or two in it. When I have to spell it out aloud, I alternate between "A, U as in Uncle, C, O, TT" and "AU as in AUnt, C, O, double T" just for fun. Thanks for the welcome!

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

Clues were definitely Friday/Saturday. "Side Two" - in the days of records Side A was the side of a single/45 intended to be the hit. Side B was just filler. Albums were Side One/Side Two as the whole of the second side was not intended as filler.

spacecraft 9:44 AM  

The sensitivity over ADOLF is understandable from a certain point of view, but on the other hand, maybe it's a good thing to set the name before the public now and then, as a reminder of what must never be allowed to happen again. It is a "HOAR." Let's not forget what a "TEAR" it is in the fabric of human history. I won't take Mr. Newton to task for it. After all, it's not like he's being honored or anything--it's just an entry in a grid.

Though the down centerpiece is what we consider "weak fill," it reminds me of a moment in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" when Mike tells Rat to put on "SIDETWO of Led Zeppelin 4," which supposedly guarantees a lay. (Bulletin: it doesn't work!) Riotous movie, just pass on the censored version.

I agree that the clue for ZIT should have had a ? at the end. That NE corner was tough enough, what with the rapper and all. Although ICET and LLCoolJ are SO mainstream it seems an insult to call them rappers. They're both fine actors. Still, overall it wasn't much more than a medium for me, advanced cluing notwithstanding. Theme was kinda fun; the fill not too bad. Lot of initials, especially my last entry, which gave me a mini-fit for a couple minutes: ODON. Tough parsing that one (didn't know POM). CRAZYEYED is not that familiar a phrase to me, seems forced. C+.

Unknown 10:32 AM  

Can someone please enlighten me as to what ODON means. I am clueless!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:53 AM  

@Bobbie Baird - To "O. D. ON" is to overdose on.

Z 11:17 AM  

@Bobbie Baird - O.D. ON, Over-Dose On. You'll see ODED, past tense, a lot in puzzles, too.

Burma Shave 11:45 AM  


don’t SNEER it’s not TABOO.
and then get RANDY on your SIDETWO.


BS2 12:54 PM  


SHE took a SHOWER with OUTCLASS nor SHAME, the NOSY crowd SAW SHE looked great.
The REARVIEWMEREly fanned the flame, but SHE couldn’t make the mass ABATE.


Anonymous 12:57 PM  

I had a terrible time with "odon" as well. Finally, it dawned on me that the "od" part was a slangy, shortened form of "overdose." It does seem that the clue didn't help much. After I was fairly certain that I had all of the across answers in that corner filled in correctly, I was still left wondering, "what the heck is an 'odon'?" I must admit that I weakened and Googled it at that point, but even by engaging in that shameful bit of cheating I got absolutely nowhere.

I thoroughly agree with the earlier poster who commented that this puzzle was "absurdly difficult" and "absolutely joyless."

rondo 1:05 PM  

@Bobbie - If I use heroin in excess I may very well O.D. ON it.

Longbeachlee 1:11 PM  

Bobbi Baird - OverDose ON
Wednesday's child - Me too on the NE, although I saw Gucci and Abate, and probably could have sussed out zit, and then IceT, but by then I no longer cared, a tribute to the crumminess of this slog.

rondo 2:16 PM  

And the gimmicks just keep rolling in. I didn’t find this puz particularly challenging, but some of the clue/answer combos seemed a bit obtuse rather than clever. I’m glad there wasn’t much gnashing of teeth over ADOLF, other than OFL spelling it out a handful of times.

@D,LIW – in my neck of the woods we seek out lutefisk feeds at the local churches, etc. during Advent, or thereabouts. One will see many of the same faces in venues 30 and 40 miles apart. Those with the acquired taste, that is.

If EMMA is the yeah baby in this puz, that SAYSALOT about something.

If I didn’t know my ballfields and make the 4 square rapper ICET (who else?) that NE would have been more trouble than it was. Didn’t much like the gimmick, just find me some ROCKYHOAR.

rain forest 3:04 PM  

Definitely harder than your average Wednesday (speaking of pronunciation, or enunciation, how do YOU say "Wednesday"?), but I very much enjoyed solving it.

At first I thought CHINA SHOP might be a themer, but ROCKY HOAR enabled me to see the "pun". However, I kept looking for a pun on "Picture Show" for a while. There were so many deceptive clues that it was slow going until I hit SHEER TEAR, and then it all clicked. George W always says "tear" and "tearists". Maybe he misunderpronounces those other themers too. Maybe it's a Texas thing. At any rate, it was fun figuring out. MERE, I knew from Lord of the Rings, btw.

@Lady Di - if 'nova' means 'no go' in Spanish, does that mean one will become constipated from eating lox?

Waxy in Montreal 3:46 PM  

Actually found this one relatively easy perhaps having visited Windermere in the English Lake District a while back. Only real challenge was BUMASMOKE, an expression I haven't heard in about 30 years, made more difficult because POM as a juice (POMegranite? POMme?) was an unknown - in these parts, POM is a baker.

And with apologies to OGDEN Nash - "Candy makes RANDY but liquor is quicker".

Cathy 3:55 PM  

Challenging? I did a little happy (baffled) skip. Easy for myself. I caught the theme right away with ROCKY HOAR. (Oh horrors, there's no picture show following)

REARVIEW MERE? Looked in my dictionary, yep, MERE- pond. What's the big deal? (Oh, my mere self looked in a dictionary on Wednesday)

PX patron. Like I've never seen NCO before.

OD ON. How many times have we seen ODED? @Bobbie, yeah, took me a while to parse ODON:)

No question mark for ZIT clue. Bad spot for taking prom pictures. Really? Really?

Oil spot? Museum. Awesome!

I don't mean to sound smug, just baffled at all the negative comments.

Thanks Jeremy Newton/Will Shortz for a fun puzzle.

strayling 7:28 PM  

When I read the theme clues in Roy Blount Jr's voice it all became easy.

Memories of Grasmere helped too.

leftcoastTAM 7:33 PM  

I guess I've had an off-day, but this is one of the worst Wednesday puzzles I've ever seen.

ADOLF? Please. Even if clued as "First name in infamy", he's beyond the pale. Is there a second or third name that even comes close?

CLERICALHEIR? A "Priest getting what's coming to him?" Given the depravity and corruption in the Church connoted here?

There's much else I could criticize about the clues and answers, but nothing like what I've just objected to.

leftcoastTAM 8:03 PM  

@BS1 and BS2: Yes, they 48D clue.

BS2 1:31 AM  

@leftcoast - He say, "One and one, and one is three."
Got to be good-looking 'cause he's so hard to see

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