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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Famous people, initially  — seemingly random words are actually meant to be read as two initials + a noun meaning "guy" or "woman"—so answers are famous men / women who fit the profile:

Theme answers:
  • MARIE ANTOINETTE (17A: Malady?) [her initials are "M.A." and she's a "lady"]
  • TOM ARNOLD (22A: Tamale?)
  • LINDA EVANS (30D: Legal?)
  • ROY ORBISON (27D: Roman?)
Word of the Day: LOLA (29A: Popular fragrance that's a girl's name) —

• • •

This is a clever idea, and I can't think of any other viable clues, i.e. word that can be reimagined as two letters + word meaning "man" or "woman." It's a pretty random assortment of people—would've been nice if there'd been a way to add more, I don't know, coherence to the whole thing. It wasn't that entertaining or exciting, as Thursday themes go, but it's consistent, and the core cluing trick is a good one. The constructor also worked out how to get her theme answers symmetrical, going with mirror symmetry over the usual rotational symmetry. I don't know if this was *necessary*, as I haven't taken / won't take the time to scroll through all the "ta males" I can think of (Tim Allen, Thomas Aquinas, etc.) or any of the other clue name possibilities to see if other theme answer arrangements were possible. I think TOM ARNOLD and LINDA EVANS date this puzzle terribly, as they were relevant 20 and 30 years ago, respectively, and have not been relevant since. MARIE ANTOINETTE and ROY ORBISON are both timeless, so no problem there. My general feeling is that, with so many options available (in theory), the names you go with should be either legendary or current. TOM ARNOLD and LINDA EVANS are neither. Perfectly good crossword answers, just ... when you have options, it's harder to justify them as your choices.


Fill-wise, fine. Weak points, strong points. SPIT TAKE, always good (4D: "You did WHAT?" reaction). I had TIME SUCKS for TIME SINKS, so that cost me (34D: Mindless but addictive app games, e.g.).

The wikipedia definition of TIME SINK(S) focuses on games, though not on the games themselves, but on certain features in the games that encourage / force players to spend more time in the game without making progress. "Players may use the term disparagingly to describe a simplistic and time-consuming aspect of gameplay, possibly designed to keep players playing longer without significant benefit." TIME SUCK(S) googles better, but only slightly. I use TIME SUCK. I will never use TIME SINK(S). That said, I think it's a reasonable answer, even as clued, and certainly the most interesting answer in this grid.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 4:43 AM  

SILENT E is pretty weak. I would never describe "adventure" in ending in a silent letter.

Unknown 5:01 AM  

I wonder how many people did a SPIT TAKE upon seeing the upside-down Satanic cross in the middle of the puzzle.

My partner and I solved this in record time, despite not knowing the word LAYETTE and wanting to write OKEY-DOKY instead of OKEY-DOKE.

We enjoyed cracking the code. We solved MARIE ANTOINETTE from the crosses but were flummoxed by its clue (Malady?). It didn't take us too long to crack the code as we soon spotted the male in tamale. Clever.

After finishing, I was curious and tried to come up with other viable clues. I didn't get much. Regal and human could be used in place of legal and Roman. Urgent, cogent, and regent. Remiss, ache, dobro, and salad. The only one of these that I kinda like is salad.

I liked how LEBRON mirrored SERENA.

Looking over the grid just now, I realize that we got UNOS (Big pizza chain, informally) entirely from the crosses. I hadn't heard of Uno Chicago Grill, despite loving Chicago-style deep dish. (Whenever I visit family in Chicago, I always make sure to grab a slice of Giordano's.) Checking XWords, this clue has been used 5 times before, but I'm not convinced. The chain has over 130 stores, but it exists almost entirely in the Midwest and and Northeast. I count just four locations west of the Mississippi River: Fort Worth, Texas; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Denver, Colorado; and Modesto, California.

I've been enjoying the puzzles this week (Monday through Thursday). Each one has shown a touch of cleverness.

Loren Muse Smith 5:14 AM  

Ok. So I immediately saw a tree. And immediately forgot that I had seen a tree.

When I got LINDA EVANS and saw how the theme works, I said, "Oh my gosh" and seconds later filled in OMIGOSH. I swear.

What a terrific idea and how unbelievably hard it must have been to find even two symmetrical entries famous enough to make the cut. Smart to limit it to just four themers, where the "man," "gal," "lady," and "male" really work as part of a phrase describing an adult. Like Rex said – no other viable clues that would be as elegant. No desperate scrambling to clue Phil Ochs or Sam Adams as young guys. And Maya Angelou is no dame. (Insert Adele/abroad joke here.) Didn't Eleanor Roosevelt have several children? So she was a 1D?

I. Loved. This. Idea.

Rex – me, too for "sucks" before SINKS.

Do EMOs EMOTE? Or do they just sit there, quietly creepy in their ANGST?

Funny what's taboo to give as gifts in other countries. I think knives are a big no-no in several countries. Chrysanthemums, anything white, purple, even numbers of flowers, handkerchiefs, adult diapers…

Oh, and all you Packers fans - don't run around China passing out hats as hostess gifts, either.

I appreciated the mini-BARS theme with ALE, AMSTEL, SAUCE, DRANK.

@Pshaw – dictionaries maintain that syphon is a variant of siphon. I thought the former somehow looked smarter, but maybe I was just tyred.

@Chaos – your doggerel would give Rudyard Kipling a run for his money. Hah!

CC – this is one of my favorite puzzles you've done. Bravo!

Hartley70 6:16 AM  

This was a very fast Thursday and I'm inclined to rate it easy, although the cluing and theme were left of center for me. I found myself saying "huh?" ATON. The men and women seemed random to me until I finished and saw the initials. Ahhh, a slim conceit, but it works for me.

OKEYDOKE is missing a Y in my world. I have never heard of a SPITTAKE. I don't do it, but it sounds delightful. AMSTEL made me wonder how anyone can keep up with the mergers in the world. What do you mean the Chinese own Volvo? Why are gift clocks TABOO in China? Never heard of TIMESINK. Do the Chinese believe in it? And Chuck? That could be any 4 letter combination.


GILL I. 6:49 AM  

I'm a TIME SucKS person my self. It causes me a lot of ANGST.
I got MARIE ANTOINETTE early on in this game and I thought to myself "oh please, don't let this be what I think it will be"... and it WAS !!
Lady/gal/male/man. Well, yes, that's exactly what these names are and then we have ERMA, LOREN, SERENA and LOLA (never heard of that popular fragrance) and of course , LOTT, NOLL, ROBIN and LEBRON. I guess you can say there was even gender distribution, so that's good.
I wasn't crazy about the product names but there was some good stuff in this EEOC puzzle. COYOTE! I can also picture some shrimp hanging at the end of a PRONG waiting to be dipped in SAUCE.
This was different, and different can be good.

Anonymous 8:04 AM  

@Martin- The upside down cross is an ancient symbol of Peter’s crucifixion. Tradition holds that when he was martyred, Peter insisted on being crucified upside down, not believing himself worthy to be killed in the same manner Christ was.

Nik 8:19 AM  

Didn't like the LAYETTE clue. A layette is a collection of outfits and necessaries for a newborn, not a singular outfit. Otherwise, enjoyed this puzzle. I only had to google Chuck LOLL. It's a good solving day when I finish the puzzle before I finish my iced coffee--at least on Thursdays.

archaeoprof 8:23 AM  

Loved LOLA atop KINK. "L-o-l-a , Lola..."

chefbea 8:28 AM  

Had no idea what was going on!!! Couldn't figure it out so came here. Hora is a dance we do at Jewish weddings...had no idea it was Romanian. Hated this puzzle. I'll wait to hear how it went over in Westport.

Annette 8:34 AM  

I had to check the calendar, for this is not a Thursday-quality puzzle, and I'm surprised at the medium rating. I found nothing clever about it, regret the close-to-fastest-time I'll never get back. Lame theme; after MARIE ANTOINETTE, thought please don't let this be what I think this is, but, sadly, it was. A few nice downs, SPITTAKE, TIMESINKS, ATM INSIDE, but they can't make up for EMO, ENO, WAS, ATON, PSST, COSA, NEO, SWEE. not

jberg 8:34 AM  

So at one point I had OKAY, OKAY at 10D and TAKE TAKE (i.e., double-take) at 4D, and thought I had spotted the trick. I struggled slowly on, finally saw "Roman?" parsed it as RO MAN, and wrote it Roy Orbison, which let me go back and get MARIE ANTOINETTE. Of course in those two answers, the initials are also the first two letters of the first name, which made me want Mr. Arnold to be Tad or Tam -- but EEOC was pretty solid. I actually wondered if this was a mistake in the puzzle, but after a couple of minutes staring at Ms. ANTOINETTE (eerily located just under REAP), I finally saw the initial thing. After that it was easy, even though I still have no idea who LINDA EVANS is.

I liked everything about this puzzle except T MAN. Does anyone ever say that?

I would have put in 'locals' for 46D if I hadn't had LOCAL at 49D already.

Dorothy Biggs 8:36 AM  

@Martin Abresch: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_of_St._Peter.

I didn't care for this one. Too many ?s that obscured the theme ?s.

Particularly bad: "Number of churchgoers?" (5D PSALM) Number? Really? Maybe if Lawrence Welk is your pastor. "Sign on a convenience store window" (33D ATMINSIDE) There are lots of signs on convenience store windows, not the least of which are neon beer signs, and "ATM Inside" could be in gas station windows or even some business buildings...so in the great Venn diagram of signs that could be in convenience store windows, ATMINSIDE is weak :ahem: SAUCE. And "Never-____" (59D WAS). You got your also-rans and your actual losers. I've never heard anyone called a "never-was" unless they were trying to make a play on "has-been."

DNL. And, honestly, really disappointing as a Thursday puzzle. Should've been a Wednesday puzzle. Or maybe fixed and then resubmitted as a Tuesday puzzle.

Suzy 8:40 AM  

Sorry-- finally got the gimmick, but thought no fun at all! Never heard of Lola as a perfume.

kithsef 8:44 AM  

Very fast solve today, Tuesdayish except in the S where rAn before WAS and, yes, TIMESucKS before TIMESINKS and not remembering AMA (even though we just had it) making ATMINSIDE hard to see conspired to slow me down a bit.

Also TRAK before TRAc, Knot before KINK.

Would have preferred SILENTo/doN/KINd, to get something more current into the puzzle and get rid of the subpar clue for SILENTE.

You want to see a bad row? ENO AMA EMO DEN. (In the case of DEN, it's the clue I didn't like.)

And yet I still liked thepuzzle, because the theme was fun and different and interesting.

Jim 8:52 AM  

Fastest Thursday ever (by far, better than average Tuesday). Never got the theme until after I was all done and then the "aha" moment hit me. Weird mix of people in the themers but okay with it. Fill was easy and brisk.

Lewis 9:15 AM  

Greatly enjoyed this. Figuring out the theme gave a big aha. There were some stellar answers: ATMINSIDE, TRIPUP, SPITTLE, and OKEYDOKE. There was some clever cluing -- NEO, LINDAEVANS, LEBRON, PRONG, DRANK. The constructor has admitted in the past that clever cluing was a weak point, and if these clues were hers, she is strongly improving. The puzzle put up a good fight, but I never felt discouraged or hopeless. This is my favorite puzzle to date by CC, and for the first time, when I see her name again on top of a puzzle, I will approach it with great eagerness.

kozmikvoid 9:22 AM  

Thought this would get an easy for sure. I guess it's either you see the theme early and finish the puzzle quickly or you don't see the theme and it takes forever. I got the clue at LINDAEVANS and then proceeded to fill in the remaining themers.

Outside the theme, and despite being done too soon for a Thursday, I really liked this. There's some crappy fill, but even some of that was clued well. ATON...or A xxx in general...should be outlawed from puzzles. But there were definitely enough great answers to make up for the one or two groaners.

Old Coot Curmudgeon 9:29 AM  

This blog is a time suck.

Steve M 9:36 AM  

Nope on theme conception

Sir Hillary 9:40 AM  

This one was really hard for me. Took me a while to suss the theme, and the overall cluing felt harder than a typical Thursday.

That said, a very nice theme. Lots of 3s and 4s due to the grid setup, but none of them egregiously bad. Agree that SILENT_ entries are kinda sketchy -- and in this case unnecessary, as there are many different ways to make it SILENcE.

My first thought after finishing was "I bet @LMS has a theme-appropriate avatar", and I was not disappointed. Wonderful stuff! (Best I could do before coming here was Oasis?, Salad? and Poboy?.)

One thing that I am sure was funny only to me was row 10; I have an acquaintance named ROBIN caSERTA. I'll have to find her and show her this grid.

Lobster11 9:42 AM  

I'm with OFL today on every point. Theme was pretty damn clever, and took a long time to suss out. Most important, it produced the big Aha! experience I always hope for (but too rarely have) on a Thursday. Yet, the theme felt a bit incoherent given that the four people have nothing in common beyond having initials that fit the theme. If the constructor had been able somehow to add that extra layer of thematicness (thematicity? thematociousness?), I would upgrade it from "clever" to "brilliant."

Something I've been doing lately, on days when I find the daily puzzle particularly unsatisfying, it to dig into the archive and do an older puzzle in hopes of making up for it. I won't be doing that today.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:56 AM  

Ouch! Actually, Double-Ouch!

@chefbea - since you ask how this went over at Westport:

I had composed a clever comment to summarize my reaction to the puzzle, having done it at Westport, so I did what I never do, came to the blog before opening my NY Times. But this was not Puzzle #4 at Westport!

So Ouch! number one, even though I saw very quickly that this was not the grid I expected, I couldn't avoid seeing a few stray words, spoiling my purity of solve.

And Ouch! number two, several entries were pretty hard anyway, like NOLL/LOLA, and OKEY-DOKE instead of OKEY-DOKY, and TIMESUCKS >> TIMESINKS.

But despite my inadvertant cheat, I think it was a good puzzle.

Carola 9:58 AM  

I'm with @jberg in getting MARIE and ROY before the others and thinking that we were looking for the first two letters of the person's first name - and thus facing ??? when the cross with EEOC wouldn't work. I finally got the idea when I was struggling to get LINDA EVANS. Lots to admire, here, I see; not sure why I didn't find it more fun.

RooMonster 10:00 AM  

Hey All !
Neat cluing concept. Have to agree with Rex a bit on the finding of names. I enjoy CC's puzs, and this one was really good, but maybe could've found all symmetrical names? No offense, CC! :-)

It is always nice to get your occasional left-right puz. Liked the untheme long downs, a little dreck, but solidly in crosswordiness. Few writeovers here and there (did online today, so can't see what was written over, though I know there were some), some neat clues. Medium overall here. Time says 29:23, so good for me on a ThursPuz!

Steelers fan here, so Chuck NOLL a gimmie!

@NCAPres, Never WAS is basically a put down for an arrogant person who thinks they're something special or famous, and, well, never was. 15 minutes of fame type thing.


Z 10:11 AM  

I was fully prepared to love this puzzle for TIME SuckS alone. Oh well. I'm in agreement with those criticizing the day placement, this is a great Tuesday or Wednesday puzzle in my book, not quite tricksy enough to publish on a Thursday. I do imagine, though, that the cluing wordplay may have caused some time separation in Westport. Took me quite awhile to grok the missing periods in the theme clues.

If you're going to put LOLA above the KINKs the clue has to acknowledge that LOLA was a man. Otherwise you sound like an IOWAN hayseed in the big city.

@Martin Arbresch - You're thinking of the upside down broken cross, as in a Peace Sign. I once had the leader of a service group almost in tears in my office because a "Christian" mom had seen fit to take offense at all the peace signs they had posted around the building (part of an anti-bullying initiative) and had ripped them all down. The leader had never heard that the peace sign was also seen by some as satanic.

@Pete from yesterday - MathIsFun.com is a rigorous site. Don't mistake "opaque," "jargony," or "hard" for rigorous. Of course, I've always agreed with Vonnegut's observation that if one can't explain it to a five year-old one probably doesn't understand it (although I'd go 13 year-old).

LEBRON and SERENA. Their kids would probably win the NBA Finals and Grand Slam in the same year.

Tita 10:12 AM  

@archaeoprof - great catch re: LOLA/KINK.

How fun would using Woman as a clue have been? William O'Reilly, or William O'Shaughnessy, the 19th C. Irish physician who pioneered therapeutic cannabis usage.

Started solving this well after midnight - since it was one I had already solved, I figured I wouldn't need many alert brain cells.
Didn't even look at grid design - that would have been my first indication that something was amiss. Just started in at 1A - huh? 5A - Wait - I don't remember these..

Well, Will switched out the puzzles!!!!
What we got in Westport was another very distinctive grid, but not this one!!!

Anyhow, I liked this just fine. I do agree with the offness of things like LAYETTE or COYOTE (Plains??? Aren't they almost anywhere? I've seen them lounging in my rock garden, ad in Truckee - both places far from plains, in both location and altitude), but didn't detract from the cute idea.

Thanks, CC.
And thanks Will - I got two Thursdays this week!!

Chim cham 10:16 AM  

It's TIMES SINK now. Probably due to the rise of Hate Sink (think Fox News). So "noun" Sink is anything you voluntarily, often recreationally, pour an inordinate amount of that thing into. TIME SUCK could always make a comeback; but it sounds awful, so let's hope it doesn't.
Loved the puzzle, by the way.

Nancy 10:33 AM  

I got MARIE ANTOINETTE early from the crosses, but didn't understand the clue at all. Yes, I saw the lady contained therein, but it didn't register. I think that the gimmick of this puzzle was very well concealed, and that the lack of a revealer made it tougher. I was very slow, though I finished, and if I'd been at Westport, they probably would have come and taken the paper away from me.

I had wrong answer upon wrong answer. TRIED instead of DRANK at 62A. REIN instead of MANE at 56D. WANES instead of EASES at 65A. WIN instead of WAS at 59D. The middle of the South was a hot mess for me.

But I loved the challenge and think it's a clever and original puzzle. Congrats to all of you who found it "easy."

Rex Parker 10:37 AM  

"It's TIMES (sic) SINK now" is just not right. I've never Ever heard of "Hate Sink" (?) and I never "think Fox News" (whatever that means).

TIME SUCK doesn't need to "make a comeback" because it's still there. (just check los internetos for recent examples in Vogue, Forbes, etc.). TIME SUCK is manifestly superior, as there is no ambiguity when you say it (Compare: Time sync? Times Inc?). It also conveys, in its horrid-soundingness, how bad it is. TIME SINK sounds like it might be adorable, or at any rate practical.


Mr. Benson 10:39 AM  

I've never heard the expression "TIME SuckS." Sounds like it could be a slogan for Newsweek.

jae 11:02 AM  

Easy again for me. This was OK but I like my Thurs. tougher and tighter.

Unknown 11:03 AM  

I thought it too easy for a Thursday. I am surprised at the many thumbs up for the theme. While I thought it was cool, I expected I might even be alone in this.

For a school year, I took pipe ORGAN lessons, so 46d didn’t “stop” me given a one letter cross.

We also have more to make a musical theme: NANOS to play it, the KINKs, ENO, EMO, PSALM, R.E.M, HORA, AMA (the American Music Awards show) and, of course --

ROY ORBISON, a singer’s singer, about the best compliment there is for one. He sure made some SWEE’ NOISES.

On the subject of music I regress and digress to yesterday’s LEROY Brown and two things about the song I KNOW you don’t KNOW.

This past summer, I met a lovely lady who used to run a boarding house many years ago. One of her boarders was a young man named Jim Croce. She was fond of using an expression which ‘apparently’ he liked: “Meaner than a junkyard dog.” He also frequented them for a time to get used car parts so was familiar with the “breed”.

I was delighted to meet her and shake her hand, as she, dear reader, had made rock & roll history.

In those days, recording methods did not always allow “corrections” after the actual recording was made or what audio guys call “fixing it in the mix.” It was likely in this case for this song. At the end the chorus (“Bad, bad, Leroy…etc.) is repeated. Then, to end it (YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvwDohEEQ1E starting at 2:50) the last two lines of the chorus are repeated as a “tag.” – “Badder than old King Kong / And meaner than a junkyard dog.” The bass player (gee, why would I notice this?) leads into this tag as if the chorus were to be repeated a 3rd time. He/she realizes the error and then actually fumbles a bit to get back on track for the last few notes. In other words those are wrong notes for more than a couple of beats!. Trust me (and you definitely can on this), those were NOT the notes he/she would have played for a do-over..

Another notable recording “flaw” was Joe Cocker’s voice ‘cracking’ at the end of “With A Little Help From My Friends.” Because his voice had basically failed him, he insisted he needed to re-record it. Well, it was him against most everyone else at the recording session. They had immediately sensed it was musical gold, a ‘flaw’ though it was.

In the case of the Croce song, the rest of that “take” (assuming more than one) was thought to be the musical gold and that bass ‘flaw’ was left in, but for the opposite reason. Rather than enhancing the music, it was likely decided it didn’t detract enough from it to correct it.

When you hear all the “perfect” recordings of today, very few have not been “fixed in the mix,” too often at the expense of the music.

A favorite JAZZ album is Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out,” “Take Five” the best known track. Unlike most of today’s sessions, it was recorded with all the musicians in the studio playing together, As such, “mistakes” could not be easily corrected without doing another entire “take.” It is also a considered prime and classic example of excellent recording technique to achieve an as-if-it-were-live sound.

Digressing further about the marriage of music/audio stuff, this little story warms my heart. As a sound guy, I actually don’t like to amplify things unless absolutely necessary. When I do, my goal is to make it sound like it isn’t amplified. --

For a jazz concert, “literally a truckload of PA gear was brought in and set up. The performers played a few minutes for a sound check while the sound people adjusted this and that. Then one of the players said, "What happens if it's turned off altogether?" And of course, in the fine acoustics of that hall, it sounded great just as it was. So all that gear was packed up and taken away.”

Love it when that happens! Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Many people operating audio equipment fail to consider this point in countless ways.I’ve got all these knobs I can turn, so I might as well use them!.


Chaos344 11:08 AM  

Took me a while to get the theme. I couldn't come up with a COGENT (Conan O'Brien) explanation for the clue/answer relationship. Like yesterday, the crosses revealed the names and I was able to suss out the trick. While I appreciate the difficulty of the construction I'm not a big fan of gimmick puzzles, so I never look forward to Thursdays.

I was not familiar with the term SPITTAKE. When it filled into the grid, I was thinking some kind of foul-tasting Japanese mushroom. When I looked up the definition, I saw that it referred to coffee-thru-the-nose prose and such.

@LMS: Ah, LINDA EVANS. OMIGOSH indeed! I remember her well. She will always be remembered more for her body, than for her body of work. Evans appeared in Playboy magazine at the behest of her then-husband John Derek in 1971. I may have to go into my archives and reminisce a bit after lunch. Mr. Derek was an American actor, director and photographer who had a penchant for blondes with a certain body type. He went from Ursula Andress to Bo(Derek) and finished with Linda. John also had a penchant for photographing all of them "en deshabille" as it were. Thank You Mr. Derek. Your artistic photographic acumen and keen eye for feminine pulchritude shall live on in your august body of work!

Thank you for the kind words LMS, but I could not hold a candle to my buddy Rudy. He is one of my favorite poets. I would have hoped to chat with him in heaven, but after the life of debauchery I've lived, I don't know how I'm ever Gunga Din?

@Pshaw: Give it up Sir! Ask not for WHOM the bell tolls, it tolls for WHOM! You cannot hope to save the English language nor cursive writing. LMS knows, because she has Millennial spawn. Did you not read her recent post exhibiting how well she is versed in TEXTSPEAK? Just be glad you'll be taking a dirt nap long before you'll live to see infants being born with thumbs that resemble dragon toes. Three times the size of current thumbs, but with tips that taper down to the size of a stylus for more speed and accuracy on those tiny keypads. Vocal cords with have long since atrophied in humanoids from lack of use, although the female of the species will be the last to lose the ability to speak! TTYL!

Z 11:31 AM  

@Evan Jordan - I love "Hate sink" for Fox News. Of course, I'm the guy who thinks NEO-con is short for NEO-confederate.

@Rex Parker - TIME SINK is what you call it when your mom is listening.

Leapfinger 11:34 AM  

@Steve M, what do you say to some contraception?

Easy filling in what a few crosses suggested would be MARIE ANTOINETTE, then a cute Aha looking back at the clue. It kinda ups the ante if you've dis-remembered the trick by the time you reach LINDA_EVANS. Thought LA_YETTE SILENTE somewhat an oxymoron till I realized I was SERTA thinking of LA_YENTE. Like some others, thought LOLA was either non-scents or I was inscents-itive.

So I was in NOLA sharing a po'boy with Peter O'Toole and he was telling me about this case of arson the cops had pinned on Andy Rooney back in the day but turned out it was Andre Rieu was responsible for that bit of violince. The bandleader asked what was our desire and we settled on some Duke Ellington (a huge favourite of Dwight Eisenhower's also). Things then got noisy with a chorus of "Yo, Mama!"s when Yvette O'Mimieux came in with Sra. Bringa Y Ortega Botteli. One interesting thing: the table next to us held Cy Young, Chuck Yeager, Cale Yarborough and Carl Yastrzemski. They DRANK A TON of PSST Blue Ribbon and each was sitting next to an empty chair. Then four little boys raced in with T-shirts identifying them as Cecil, Caspar, Calvin and Clive -- their team was the CY-C Lads -- and without a moment's hesitation each found the seat next to their Dad. Just Shows to Go ya it's a Y's child knows its own father.

Even though we were ROYed again, this was PSALM enchanted solving. Thanks to CCB

Andrew Heinegg 11:48 AM  

I think Ms. B's puzzles are getting better and more polished and that assessment appears to be reflected in the blogmaster's comments. I never heard of time sinks and I can't remember ever hearing spit take but, as they filled in from the crosses, no reason to complain. Only nit, as others have commented, is the Thursday placement. But, that is not the fault of the author of the puzzle.

cwf 12:06 PM  

Whew, I managed to finish it, but found this one difficult because I didn't understand the theme until I read @rex.

@jberg "I liked everything about this puzzle except T MAN. Does anyone ever say that?"
Only crossword constructors. See also: GMAN.

Pete 12:15 PM  

@Z No, clearly it isn't. When I was a rising sophomore in college the decision to major in math rather than physics was based primarily on the absolute objectivity of math. You start with universally accepted definitions, the absolute rules logical inference and proof theory, and go wherever that takes you. 8 years later, with an ABD PhD in Algebraic Logic, nothing about that changed.

So, the mathematically accepted definition of an imaginary number is x*i, i=sqrt(-1), x an element of any of integers, rational numbers, real numbers. It is invariant. If MathIsFun.com says an imaginary number is one who's square is negative, it is wrong. Just plain wrong (though only in an infinitesimally small proportion of the time). That's the difference between mathematics and everything else, absolute right or wrong.

puzzle hoarder 12:32 PM  

The spouse recently referred to my puzzle habit as a "time suck." To my memory it was my first exposure to the phrase. Being completely ignorant of games I had no idea where the clue was going anyway. Having the last four letters made it obvious.
I'm surprised by the medium rating. This was an interesting puzzle but mostly read and fill. 22A settled the first two letters versus the initials question.
I didn't even notice the inverted cross or the lack of total symmetry until I read the comments. If that's not clueless enough even after having the other three themers I didn't get the 30D clue until I had all but the first letter.
19D and 29A were new to me. So were 37A and 38D. Even with those minor road blocks finishing was fast and mistake free.

Mohair Sam 12:41 PM  

Wasn't a horse Sportsperson of the Year? (just getting Rex's blood up folks)

Worked from the top down so we got MARIE ANTOINETTE first and thought we had something with mal-lady, get it? Later on we spelled OMyGOSH in English making our friend ROY ungettable for a while, hence we found the puzz a little tougher than most. Finally saved by the obvious LINDA EVANS. Very much agree with Rex's take on this one.

Always confuse EMO and ENO, Zhouqin Burnikel sure threw me a curve today. Don't like the sound of the term SPITTAKE, don't like shiitake mushrooms either. TOM ARNOLD is in my Durwood Kirby Hall of Fame, if you know what I mean.

@archaeoprof - great catch on LOLA/KINKs.

The Internet has jumped the shark 12:45 PM  

In my never ending quest to provide definitive insights on today's issues, my efforts to establish the relevance of TIME SINK resulted in this, from the almighty internets

Examples from the Web for time sink

Dictionary.com - Definition of "Time Sink"
Historical Examples:
Even if she could avoid capture, the crew must in time sink under their constant and fatiguing efforts.

The Second War with England, Vol. 1 of 2

Dictionary.com - Definition of "Time Sink"

Dear Dictionary.com - Just because two words appear sequentially in a sentence somewhere in the internet doesn't mean that those two words comprise a phrase or, if so, it is not necessarily the phrase you're defining.

old timer 12:54 PM  

Very clever clue for HORA. There were, of course, many Jews in Romania, and that is where the Israeli dance name came from. Though when I think of Romanian Jews, I think of this marvelously decadent restaurant a few blocks from the Public Theater. Dessert alone would give you more calories than you'd need in a week. Found it years ago because I usually visit McSorleys and have been known to explore the neighborhood. And went there again with my family after we saw a play at the Public.

I did not actually get the theme in all its glory. But the puzzle was easy enough, especially when I changed "selena" to SERENA and "selta" to SERTA and "slip up" to TRIPUP. I think I have Selene and Luna too much on my mind.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Chagrinned to see how everyone found it so easy. Was flummoxed for the longest time, even after getting MARIE ANTOINETTE on crosses. Nearly screamed about the constructor’s temerity to ask me about some sort of BISON, ROY OR taking way to long to glean.

On the plus side, it occupied nearly every second of the 7:57 express from San Francisco to Palo Alto. Nothing kills the commute like a good, crunchy puzzle..

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

Yes to TIME SuckS (e.g. The Spider Solitaire app on my iPad) which meant the IOWAc tribe was dwelling on the upper Mississippi.

I first parsed the theme as a play on the French "mal" so MARIE was a 'bad lady' (historians argue but I'm going with the simplistic history i was taught lo, these many years ago). But since TOM ARNOLD was making no connection in my mind with "tamale", I tossed that theory out the window and came to the correct conclusion "initial" (oxymoron here) conclusion.

I thought there was a MINI theme of ETTE words, with ANTOINETTE and LAYETTE so with the TE in place at 39A, I was expecting a different result than SILENT E. Since there are a billion words that end with a SILENT E (hyperbole not an example :-) ), I expected that to be called green paintish but it didn't TRIP me UP.

Thanks, CC, for a kind and gentle Thursday.

dick swart 2:33 PM  

I tried to make 'timewank' work.

John Hoffman 3:14 PM  

Why did I waste my time on this puzzle? Tamale is Tom Arnold? Etc.? Makes me not want to do another puzzle when the clues are so weird.

Norm 3:33 PM  

She could have used F.E.MALE and W.O.Man just to mess with our minds, but I have no idea if there are any people with those initials who was well known enough.

xyz 3:47 PM  

Time of solve and degree of love fully FOK-dependent.

Fund of knowledge.
Fun factor relatively low

Fred Romagnolo 4:25 PM  

I am mystified. My paper names the puzzler as Zhouquin Burnikel, but at least 3 blogs make reference to C.C. What don't I know? UNOS is definitely not well-known on this side of the Rockies. Isn't the end of adventure's "s?" Tabu I've heard of, not LOLA. I've never heard of SPIT TAKEs; sounds unsanitary, especially during flu season. Hands up for OKEY DOKy. O. K. for a Thursday, but I've seen a lot better.

Mike D 4:34 PM  

This was super easy. The (NY) TIMES, INK. should make more of an effort.

beatrice 4:53 PM  

'It is better to be a has-been than a never-was' - C. Northcote Parkinson. I first heard this quote from an old stage actor, who attributed it to John Barrymore. Which made sense, he may well have uttered it.

How does someone who has lived in the U.S. for barely 15 years have the grasp of American English to create the clues that Ms. Burnikel comes up with? I am in awe.

For those who may be REAPing what they have sown - Penitential PSALM no. 7, by Orlandus Lassus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vmfn9ZraBs

Chaos344 5:11 PM  

@Leapy: OMG Lady! RUFKM? You wouldn't by any chance be pilfering a wee bit o medical cannabis from your employer now, wouldja?

Chronic dnfer 5:16 PM  

Dnfed (shocker) at okay sure which left me with rink Lula and Tim Arnols. Could have been worse. Trying to watch golf simultaneously and because it's a t pebble beach tough to concentrate on the puzzle.

Masked and Anonymous 5:50 PM  

C.C. is always an M&A fave Crossword Constructioneer.

Different & clever theme. @009: Tried to come up with more themers, and came up pretty dry. Best I could do was:
* {Dobro} (10 long)
* {Basis} (15 long)
Answers at bottom *.

TIMESINKS was new territory, to this Solve Questor, so … learned somethin new about sinks.

fave TOM ARNOLD quotes …
1. Ok, I've got two words for that: IN. SANE.
2. Yeah, I remember the first time I got shot out of a cannon.
3. She'd left me, and the house was completely empty. She even took the cube trays out of the freezer.

Masked & Anonymo2Us

* David Ortiz. Betty Applewhite.


OISK 6:26 PM  

Equestrians actually grab the mane? Doesn't that hurt the horse? Much too much garbage fill to please me. brand names, Lola,Amstel, UNOs, nanos, Odyssey, Trac, what is a Reddit session? serta, just far too much of this. Never heard of Jimmy eat world either, I finished, but didn't enjoy, despite clever theme.

Unknown 7:21 PM  

@Norm RE: F.E.Male and W.O.Man Ooh! I like this idea! Tricky!

G. Weissman 7:29 PM  

I think that's ENO sighting #2 for 2016. Not bad.

Joe 8:20 PM  

I was flummoxed. Had 80% of the puzzle easy, but could not see the theme. Oh well, another day.

Geo. Bernard Pshaw 10:31 PM  


WOman = William Osler
FEmale = Friedrich Engels, Frank Esposito, Ferdinand Esterhazy

Of course, that's used a pair of feminines to engender a couple of masculines, so a pretty poor ROR overall. Can't say exactly whom is the winner.

Z 10:46 PM  

@Fred Romagnolo - C.C. and Zhouquin are one in the same. Most other xword publishers cite her by C.C. Burnikel, but the NYTX insists on Zhouquin. I'm reminded of a college buddy who we all knew as Deju (pronounced DeeJew or perhaps DeeZhou is closer) but whose full name was Wladyslaw (excuse my poor Polish spelling). Upon learning his full name I asked, "How the heck do you get Deju from Wladyslaw?" To which he replied, "The same way you get Dick from Richard."

@LMS - When I think EMO I picture a high school production of Hamlet with the lead dressed like Kylo Ren and carrying a light saber guitar instead of a sword. So yes, they do EMOTE. I guess this makes me Polonius...? Or Han...?

@Pete - A better description of the prescriptivist viewpoint would be hard to find. I do wonder, though, how an area based on absolute unwavering definitions ever came up with non-Euclidean geometry. Or i for that matter. OHhhh - I know why... Definitions and usages change over time. Who woulda thunk that Mathematics operates like all other human languages? Other than descriptivists, I mean. Now where did I leave my Tweed Jacket?*

*The link is just a reminder of why I keep mentioning Tweed whenever I detect a precriptivist/descriptivist schism.

Leapfinger 11:31 PM  

@Chaos, surely you're aware of the distinction between CrossWorld and the external realities? The distance is easily covered (by such as i*), even w/o THC on board.

Elephant's Child 11:47 PM  

So far, we've had LEBON and LEBRON; I think we're moving toward LE BRONTOSAURIEN. Personally, I'd rather aim for Le Corbusier.

@Z, I don't think Mathematics operates like all other human languages, despite the fact that it evolves. There is evidence that the 'mathematical brain' is a different character than the 'verbal brain'. Btw, I think Einstein predated Vonnegut in saying there isn't anything that can't be explained in language a first-grader can understand.

Gravity waves Goodbye

Kimberly 10:35 AM  

I loved the "LOLA" crossed "KINK." Would have been better, of course, if KINK had been plural, but loved it none-the-less.

Jacob 11:18 AM  

Time sinks was incorrect. Clue should've been different. Time sucks are the apps themselves, time sinks are elements of specific gameplay within a game that waste your time. Also called fetch quests which, come to think of it, would be a great puzzle answer.

Unknown 1:34 PM  

I'm fine with time sink...I've heard it many times before and really like the phrase. Like a "heat sink" in a machine or electronic device dissipates a lot of heat...cooling fins on motorcycle engines for example. A time sink sucks up a lot of time.

spacecraft 12:53 PM  

Misses "medium" by a mile. Full-OUT challenging. I thought for sure I'd made a mistake, working the NE to a gridspanner ending of -TOINETTE. But there's no Chuck LOLL, it's NOLL for certain. Then I thought, y'KNOW, MARIEANTOINETTE would fit. But Malady??? Oh--and here comes the SPITTAKE (ugh, that's a modern term I never got in tune with. I come from the "double-take" era, and I'm too old to change now. I find the term gross.) TIMESINKS is another new saying that had to go in 100% on crosses.

Hey, what about EMO and EMOTE in the same grid? Is that OKEYDOKE? Never mind, the flag comes out anyway, for that #$%*(& SILENTE. Also PSST.

Hand up for having to move the LOCAL two stops west.

This puzzle tries to TRIPUP the solver, but there are just enough gimmes (LOTT, TRAC, NOLL, ROBIN) to make it doable. Gotta go with LINDAEVANS as the Y.B. of the day. B-.

Burma Shave 1:04 PM  


we had AMSTEL and ALE, and Jim BEAM - for the HORA big shot.
I KNOW when she WAS on the SAUCE she got KINKy hot,
and sometimes EASES MANE ORGANS INTO that TABOO spot,
when she slurs, “PSST, SWEE gonna get PRONE and LAYETTE or not?”
“OKEYDOKE, but OMIGOSH let’s not TRIPUP and get caught.”


rondo 1:55 PM  

As Mr. Horse would say, “No sir. Don’t like it.” This felt like a TIMESucK, and was because that’s what I entered down there. Even the appearance is off with that ENO AMA EMO DEN line just below the equator.

And ATMINSIDE and the SILENTE as clued? C’mon.

A coupla things were bright spots. Two yeah babies going down, as in sultry Sophia LOREN and statuesque LINDAEVANS. What a pair! And SERENA crossing them both. Wouldn’t mind working out some KINKs there.

I guess this is one puz you like or don’t. I’ll ADMIT to the latter.

Diana,LIW 4:00 PM  

I agree that the number of "?" clues obscured the theme for some time. Then, when I noticed the proper names, I didn't suss out their relationship to the clues. And I dnf cause it wasn't enough fun to continue, even tho I was close to a solve.

OHMyGOSH made a misspelling of ROY's name. I do have a cell phone, but use it rarly. (Like maybe 25 times in the last 5 years. True fact.) So I don't text, and a lot of techy words I only get from advertising. The theme was clever, but the puzzle didn't engage me. Maybe because I'm already married?

Wonder if the TIMESINK regarding mathematical definitions will continue for the rest of the week?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the Theme

Cathy 6:26 PM  

Flew right through but had no idea what the theme was. I'm not sure if I would have got it even with the hint. I started parsing the answers TOM ARN OLD. ROY OR BISON. But I was so excited to finish with such a clean grid, ran here to find out. OMIGOSH. Pretty SWEE!
I've got KINKs in my head but for good reasons today:)

leftcoastTAM 6:44 PM  

Late to the party but I'll post anyhow because I had to work to get this one, and I want to complete the exercise.

Took more time to see the gimmick than it should have, even after filling in a couple of names.

Some fill slowed me down further: SPITTAKE, PRONG, the M in the AMA/ATMINSIDE crossing, and what should have been a more easily recognized SILENT E.

Can't brag, but at least I finished it without cheats.

wcutler 12:59 PM  

Third Thursday in a row that I didn't get the theme, andonce again, I'm amazed that people are saying it's Tuesday or Wednesday level. But it's getting better. I was only missing the top third of the puzzle. I won't have time to do Friday's to prove that I should be able to do a Thursday.

Lola is NOT a POPULAR girl's name. I only know it from one person and one song. And I never heard of the perfume. Favourite clue was 10A Works at the Guggenheim (Oils).

crow 2:51 PM  

Thanks for explaining the theme. I got it filled in by cheating, but was baffled.

Anonymous 6:23 PM  

What complete crap! Tamale = Tom Arnold? Well, it's okay. Because I put a question mark at the end. If Zhouqin Bunikel is still getting crosswords published in the NY Times, there is no justice in this world. Lazy cheater.

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