British poet/critic Sitwell / WED 3-2-16 / Muscular Japanese dog / Corrida combatant / Setting for highest-grossing movie of 1939 / Drive popular light-powered watch / Circus horn honker / George whose name is lead-in to film

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Constructor: Fred Piscop

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: pasta puns

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Politician in charge of pasta? (ZITI COUNCILMAN)
  • 40A: Pasta, apparently? (ORZO, IT WOULD SEEM)
  • 58A: Card game with pasta for stakes? (PENNE ANTE POKER) 
Word of the Day: EVAN Hunter (12D: Hunter who wrote "The Blackboard Jungle") —
Ed McBain (October 15, 1926 – July 6, 2005) is one of the pen names of an American author and screenwriter. Born Salvatore Albert Lombino, he legally adopted the name Evan Hunter in 1952. While successful and well known as Evan Hunter, he was even better known as Ed McBain, a name he used for most of his crime fiction, beginning in 1956. He also used the pen names John Abbott, Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins, Ezra Hannon, Dean Hudson, and Richard Marsten. (wikipedia)
• • •


This puzzle feels like an emergency replacement. Like, the puzzle you had booked canceled to do something better and now you're scrambling to find a new puzzle so you go halfway through your rolodex until finally this puzzle goes, "Sure, I'm not doing anything these days. Put me in." Even leaving my reasonably well-known pun aversion aside, this puzzle's theme feels weak. And thin. Puns are deathly boring. Clue on ORZO, IT WOULD SEEM doesn't make much sense. Not enough context for it to be amusing. [Pasta, apparently] is way way too general a clue for ORZO, IT WOULD SEEM to apply. Also, you have to pause (after ORZO) to make grammatical sense of the answer, in a way you wouldn't when just saying the base phrase. Bah. The other two seem like actual, viable puns, but [shrug]. And then the grid—it's all short stuff, all dull / ancient. This crossword actually seems nostalgic for a time when crosswords were more terrible. See the clue on OREO (35D: Dessert item that was clued as "Mountain: Comb. form" in old crosswords). Seriously? This puzzle belongs in 1986, and while I know there are some who long for Reagan's America, as it relates to crossword puzzles, this is not a nostalgia anyone should be getting behind.

Looking it over, I have no idea why it didn't play Easy. Possibly the puns, which I just couldn't make sense of. I had ZITI COUNCIL--- and still didn't know. COUNCILLOR? It's possible that once I got a whiff of the fill (right away), I just checked out mentally, and went about solving the whole thing half-heartedly, with worse and worser political speeches playing in the background. Is it possible that I would have enjoyed this puzzle had the soundtrack not been so dispiriting and heinous? No, it is not. But I might have disliked it slightly less. Slightly. I mean, there is Nothing of interest outside the three themers, and even with the themers, "interest" is being very kind. Missteps? Well, I had WHAT? for AHEM (1A: "Beg pardon...") so that was exciting. Also TRICE for TRACE (8D: Tiny amount). LADED for LADEN (53D: Filled with cargo). My mistakes are about as interesting as the puzzle was. I should go to sleep now.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:06 AM  

Very easy Wed. for me. Groan worthy theme, not much dreck, liked it much more than @Rex did.

I knew that Orchard Field is now OHARE (hence airport code ORD) from crosswords.

Jane Smiley's book A Thousand Acres is based on King Lear and is worth a read. It won a Pulitzer.

Max Sherer 12:07 AM  

This puzzle was pasta its prime. I DNF'ed because I read "Corrida combatant" as "Corrida component", and decided that DINERO was suitably Spanish. So I had ???D for "it follows second and upper" and confidently wrote in hand. I was doomed.

Hb 12:14 AM  

40-across had the worst clue of the year... orzo it would seem.

madchickenlittle 2:25 AM  

This was way faster than my average. Maybe you suffer from being too good at crosswords, Rex?

I mean, in general I'm terrible so just being able to finish (although I never notice/DNF before Thurs., knock on wood) is a major accomplishment for me.

This was a romp. I just filled in as I went. I didn't even see many crosses. Super odd for me to do that.

Rabi Abonour 4:38 AM  

I thought this puzzle was hella weird. I actually had the opposite response to you on the themers - ORZO... was maybe the one I enjoyed most. But the cluing thoughout just felt so off. "Philip Morris brand" for MERIT on a Wednesday? "Orchard Field"? 12D seems wrong to me; I want something like "unit equivalent in length to 12-point type."

Also, this feels like the 32nd day in a row we've seen RIGA.

The English Avocado 6:03 AM  

Maybe it was so lackluster *because* last night was Super Tuesday.

George Barany 6:33 AM  

I'll respectfully disagree with @Rex, though I'll admit that his report brought a smile to my face.

@Fred Piscop is a veteran constructor, and one of the class acts in the field. He has 149 New York Times puzzles listed in the database, but this is his first one in print since January 2011 (others appear as "bonus" puzzles on the crossword website). Also, Fred has taken over the "Split Decisions" franchise from the late and great George Bredehorn, both in the NYT and on his own website.

As for the political news that @Rex alluded to, all I can add is that the Clown Car rumbles on, and the GOP is facing An Embarrassment of Riches.

GILL I. 6:45 AM  

About the only newish thing in here was UBER.
DES DAS MAS MOC is a new pasta I found in the back of my shelf.
At least the clue for OREO didn't involve a cookie you dunk in 2% milk.
Good night NEMO and ELMO and ETHER and ETHEL, see you later....

Billy 7:04 AM  

Actually, you don't need to pause after "orzo." And is that even a valid criticism of an answer that was clued with a comma after "pasta"?

Loren Muse Smith 7:22 AM  

I was surprised at the "medium" rating; this was very easy for me. My mistake was not "laden" but rather "tnt" for that cap material. I immediately went to "blasting" cap.

OLE crosses TORERO over there in the OREO mountain range. And, hey, I’m always up for some new, weird clue to disguise our ubiquitous OREO. I had no idea; that clue amused me. I'm learning to calm down at clues like this (or yesterday's "prey for a barracuda"). Or maybe a "bored heckelphone relative made of grenadilla wood, originally called an hautbois." You’ve got your basic, tired crossword glue, and you’re slapping some lipstick on it. I appreciate the effort. Hello, OREO – mwah!

Mini gambling vibe going with MADE A BET, ROLLS, PENNE ANTE POKER, DEAL, OWE…

Rex – I don’t understand your objection to ORZO, IT WOULD SEEM because of a missing comma/pause, whatever. Are you arguing that it doesn’t work because “or so it would seem” doesn’t have a comma?

This one was my favorite themer. Not a great cook, I can imagine that this phrase was whispered at some point at my house as guests examined some kind of starchy blob on their plate. What the heck is this stuff? Hah!
The phrase could’ve been “ORZO, or so it would seem.”

I guess this theme calls for a Gnocchi Gnocchi joke.

Gnocchi gnocchi
Who’s there?
Cannelloni who?
Can a lone emu tango?

There, Fred, this stinker makes your themers shine.

Today’ll probably be a, well, a Split Decision between those who like puns and those who don’t. I liked it.

Alysia 7:23 AM  

I finished this puzzle in roughly half my usual Wednesday time. I jumped on here, sure I'd find Rex tossed this puzzle into the "easy as pie" pile. Imagine my surprise to find a "medium" difficulty rating. What a great early-morning ego boost.

Got stuck for about half a minute in the west, where I'd mistakenly typed BOLERO (give me a break; it was pre-5:30 AM here) for TORERO. Quickly remedied and quickly solved.

Lobster11 7:28 AM  

I disliked this somewhat less than did Rex. Played Tuesday-easy for me, and though I'm also not a big fan of bad puns, I thought the theme was okay. My grip was the excess of 4- and 5-letter fill, which made it feel sloggy.

Rex, I think you are underestimating the capacity of political speeches -- not to mention the endless analysis thereof by so-called pundits, interspersed between a relentless barrage of commercials -- to make you grumpy. Personally, I can't stand to listen to speeches by candidates I like and agree with, much less the ones I don't.

Hungry Mother 7:40 AM  

Tame for a Wednesday. I always expect more of a challenge.

Aketi 8:01 AM  

AHEM, I was expecting Rex to explain ZITIICOUNCILMAN to me. Is it supposed to be "city"? Even though the i is pronounced differently?
As someone who doesn't adhere to set routines or schedules, I tend to think about establishing good HABITS rather than contemplating kicking or breaking them. So of course I confidently wrote in board first, which didn't fit with ABIT.

Steve Marcotte 8:09 AM  

Regarding 35D, Will was on a podcast on NYTimes Insider where he mentioned this alternative clue to our favorite chocolate sandwich cookie. A little cross pollination as we get closer to spring.

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

Never heard of the word METIER (am I alone in that?), and the cross with ETHER made this tough. Would not have finished on paper -- had to plug in every vowel until one worked.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

The NYT is on the wrong kind of streak since Sunday. Maybe Thursday will turn the tide.

jberg 8:25 AM  

It's cold and rainy. Flowers are starting to bloom, at least witch hazel and snowdrops and while I haven't seen CROCI, I did see one yellow crocus yesterday. Still, it's bleak -- but I don't care, because in 9 days we leave for a beach resort. Where is it, you ask? Why, on the SHORES of Captiva Island.

I'm fonder of puns than OFL, and very fond of characters from King LEAR, and I did like the length of the three theme answers, so there's that.

The great thing about not having a TV is that you can spend an evening watching the Washington Post's electoral map refresh itself every 25 seconds -- strangely fascinating. But now I need some rest.

Dorothy Biggs 8:26 AM  

Monday and Tuesday's puzzles I zipped through, this one, not so much. Worse than average.

I had trouble thinking that ERIE, (PA?) is called the Gem City because of it's "sparkling lake." Lake Erie sparkles? And MERIT is a cigarette brand I only know because I occasionally buy junk food at convenience stores.

FWIW, I tend to use ALIKE more as an adjective than an the clue "In the same way" seemed wonky to me.

PENNEANTEPOKER...ugh. Reason #2367 why I hate puns.

I got John Oliver's Chrome extension that changes "Trump" to "Drumpf." It works within the NYT puzzle applet, just fwiw. I know, I know...the British did the same thing to Hitler by insisting his real name was "Shicklgruber" and laughing at him because of his name....but I guess it just goes to show how Trump manages to draw just about everyone down into the mud.

Z 8:40 AM  

Competent. Nothing to make you scowl, but nothing to make you stand up and cheer, either. A couple of murder victims, Shakespeare, the Bible, LUCAS driving an ECO-ROLLS while smoking a MERIT cigarette. A classic Tuesday.

PPP comes in at 33%, but it is spread out, 12 across, 14 down, a fair amount in the cluing, and 4 of the 26 from Christianity or Shakespeare, so it played here like much less. Yet I wonder at the choice of clues for MERIT, ECO, LOT, and COACH. These are perfectly fine words, why clue them as products or through film?

Cain before ABEL, because naturally I went with the subject not the object in the quote. Other than that a pristine puzzle.

"[S]he has no ideas of her own, her special vileness is always to increase the measure of pain that others are prepared to inflict; her mind itself is a lynch mob." Hmmmmm....

kitshef 8:44 AM  

Demon dull. Dull themers, dull fill. Nothing wrong with it - there's little of the junk fill we sometimes get, but there is nothing, not a single word, that makes me think 'neat'.

RAilED before RANTED only overwrite.

Was in a book club for years. We all still shudder at the month we had to read The Crying of LOT 49.

We've had the discussion before about using Latin plurals for Greek words. Yes, CROCI is in the dictionary, but I still don't like it. They are CROCuses.

chefbea 8:58 AM  

Love pasta...what's not to like

Will read the comments to an appointment

chefbea 9:01 AM  

Meant to say earlier...We have one cruces in our garden....waiting for the other croci!!!

Tita 9:06 AM  

I don't like puns, but I liked the puzzle.
I thought Rex would moan about not all of them being Z-based. I would have liked it more had it been so, since my M&A-style letter obsession is with Z, my name having one.

Thanks, Mr. Piscop.

L 9:07 AM  

Painful - I hated this puzzle. I still don't get OREO, 35D clue. Maybe because I didn't start doing the puzzle until the '90s?

Nancy 9:09 AM  

Like @Aketi, I would quibble about the ZITI COUNCILMAN. The two "i's" ARE pronounced differently, and it bothered me as soon as I saw it.

Another too-easy, meh puzzle this week -- although it was enlivened by one clue that made me scratch my head. I don't get the OREO clue at all. And I must be getting hawkish in my old age, since I was looking for a military answer for 9D. The Trump clue at 38D seems appropriate for the day after Super Tuesday. But for me, even for a Wednesday, this was a HUGE disappointment.

Vincent Lima 9:25 AM  

"This crossword actually seems nostalgic for a time when crosswords were more terrible." Nice response to the OREO clue, @Rex!

@anonymous 8:25 AM: There is a line in John Le Carré's Single & Single, where a Georgian woman married to a monster says of her husband, "He likes very much blood. It is his métier. You say métier?" Our hero responds, "Not really." I guess he's right!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:09 AM  

I liked this one, probably because I like puns.

I join those who respectfully disagree with Rex on 40 A. I believe the answer should simply be read as ORZO IT WOULD SEEM, no comma.

And thanks to @Steve Marcotte for mentioning the NYT podcast interview with Will Shortz regarding the clue for OREO. I imagine this was Will's clue, but wonder how long ago he composed it.

RooMonster 10:10 AM  

Hey All !
Sorta liked it a little ORZI. Agree with lotsa short fill, but semi-open grid, reason being for both is 42 black squares. That's really high, when max is usually 38.

Made one stupid mistake, had tZAR in, messing up my MOST/MOC cross. I know it TS, CZ. To borrow an @LMS-ism, Sheesh!

Puns are OK in my book, but these aren't the best. Just meh. And just what are CROCI? Sounds like something Steve Irwin would've said. Cricky, these croci are bloomin like crazy!"

So our next president (Read:Trump) says HUGE all the time? I don't watch any of these political circuses (oops, meant caucuses) because I don't care who gets elected. 1) There's really nothing I can do about it (personally believe my one little vote truly doesn't matter [let the bashing begin by people who are gonna say, "Are you serious? Vote, you ass!"]), and 2) Politicians tell you what you want to hear so you'll vote for them, then get into office and do whatever the hell they please.
IMO, of course. :-)

Mini political rant (anti-rant?) aside, this puz was serviceable. Will forget about probably as soon as I hit Send!

Uh-Oh, as much as I like M&As comments, one of him is enough! Today we get multiple MAS! Har! Might run into a cinnamon roll shortage...


Steven, S.C. 10:11 AM  

Rex, you're getting cranky

Cassieopia 10:26 AM  

Grumpiness abounds! Can't really fault anyone as the political landscape is awful enough to make anyone exclaim, "orecchiette!"

I adore puns, and this was a super fast Wednesday for me. Put me in the column with the other happy solvers of this cheerful Wednesday puzzle!

Sir Hillary 10:41 AM  

This should have been a Monday. Cute enough theme, but hardly one to AMAZE.

-- Agree with @Rex on the replacement feel. There is nothing in the grid that postdates 1986 -- ELMO is the most recent (named as such in 1985).
-- Only bits of post-'86 evidence are the clues for HUGE, UBER, CZAR, ECO and maybe RIGA (perhaps would have had to reference the USSR back then).
-- The ORZO themer actually made me chuckle as I wrote it. To me, though, its issue is that when spoken, the syllable emphasis of the pun doesn't match that of the original phrase. The other two don't have that problem.
-- How are OLE and TORERO not cross-referenced?
-- Coupla crossword studs at 12D and 64D.

Joseph Michael 10:42 AM  

I liked the ZITI and ORZO puns. Not so much the third one which seemed tired.

Fill is decent and the solve was pleasant enough. Nothing to write home about, but not terrible either.

So, from me, this puzxle gets a smile snd a yawn.

AliasZ 11:00 AM  

I loved this punnini puzzle, but two or three more theme pastas would have been a welcome addition. Here are a few I came up with:

FETTUCCINE AL FRESCO -- Open-air Italian restaurant.
FEDERICO FEDELINI -- Pasta served on the set of "La dolce vita" for ₤8½.
FARFALLE FRUIT -- Prodigal son's pasta.
GNOCCHI ENTRY -- Pasta cooking contest dish.
RIGATONI AWARD -- Latvian pasta prize.
REP ROTINI -- Minuscule copy of a pasta dish.
MANICOTTI PEDI -- Complementary pasta served at a full-service spa.
FUSILLI JOKES -- Inveterate prankster' favorite pasta.
CANNELLONI TWENTY -- Pasta for a friend always short on cash.



Leapfinger 11:15 AM  

I love punny wordplay and good pasta, so the only things I was missing here were garlic, buttah and a slew of fresh-grated Parmesan. So, Basta! Guess I'm just easy... or so it would seem.

@jae, A Thousand Acres is excellent (as is most Jane Smiley), but those liver and cabbage preserves put me off my feed in a big way.

@kitshef, at least The Crying of LOT 49 is short. V or Gravity's Rainbow would've brought you to your knees
I also balked at CROCI, though my CROCs never bloom in the Spring.

@AKeTi, you almost made the grid!

METIER or bailiwick: your choice

Second or upper ___: ECHELON wouldn't fit
George of film-fame: wanted CUKOR first, a nice fit with the star billing for SUGAR. I wouldn't be surprised if Cukor drove a ROLLS COACH in Kocs.

Not much grief as of yet, but I won't be surprised to see many caught in the beguiling web of complaining about ZITI/city and PENNE/PENNy pronunciation. Can a lone independent voice in the wilderness stem that tide? Lasz, on ya rests the outcome, mayhap. Just so the niggling wienies don't take the day.

A light diversion for a Wednesday, but like Dame EDITH, it AWL Sitwell with me.

Masked and Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Liked the theme idea just fine. Sorta like Spaghetti Westerns, gone plumb loco. ORZO IT WOULD SEEM had to have been the seed themer -- thought it was out-and-out exquisite. har. Fun stuff. {What a pasta apple will never do?} = FARFALLE FROM THE TREE. Close, but sounds sorta wrong, somehow. {Scandalous Broadway pasta activity?} = RIGATONI AWARD. Wait wait. Still workin on a RAVIOLI one. OOOooh … and how'bout LINGUINE WITH THE LIGHT BROWN PASTA HAIR? Yeah, kinda long.

@009 does raise an interestin question, in the abstract sense, that should be thoroughly explored …

Top reasons for the Shortzmeister to bring in a last-minute, substitute WedPuz:

1. Discovery that original puz's constructioneer is M&A.
2. Dying person that puz was dedicated to pulled through.
3. Puzzle grid art was real suggestive, when shown to cattle.
4. Not enough U's.
5. Decided it was way too soon to use BOUERREE (or whatever it is) again.
6. Some of the grid letters did not have Patrick Berry Usage Immunity.
7. Test solvers all developed some kind of strange, similar mental disorder.
8. Pasta just sounded tastier.
9. Grid's birth certificate qualifications were called into question by Trump.
10. One grid entry was found to spell out PEWIT, when turned upside down.
11. Blu'Bel was tired.

Thanx, Mr. Fred. Come by and sub, any old time.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Z 11:23 AM  

@kitshef - Crocus is from Latin, but even if it were not CROCI is far more elegant sounding than the nasally "crocuses." Beauty before correctness.

@NCA President - A party's leadership spends 50 years actively pandering to the worst elements of our society and then is SHOCKED to find the KKK is part of their base. cf the quote in my first post

@anon8:20 - You obviously don't hang out with enough tweedy pop Prescriptivists. Check out the example sentences and then promise yourself never to use the word.

@Aketi & @Nancy - City. Puns make liberal use of vowel sounds. I guess I don't get why different vowel sounds is any worse than changing the soft c to a zed sound.

@Titi - My favorite letter as well.

Cassieopia 11:23 AM  

MANICOTTI PEDI made my day!

Andrew Heinegg 11:35 AM  

Unlike the blogmaster, I like puns but, I consider them a 'dangerous' part if a puzzle in the sense that, if they are not absolute groaners, the puzzle tends to fall on its face, if you will excuse my anthropomorphic description. These puns make a valiant attempt but don't quite get there. As always, the constructor is not responsible for the day of the week the puzzle us published but, when a Wednesday puzzle comes in with both Monday and Tuesday ease of solving and puns that are not quite there, the result is not a happy one.

old timer 11:54 AM  

CROCI has a twee feel to it, just like hippopotomi. It's "crocuses" folks. Used to plant them and they did bloom in February (spring where I live). But ultimately they were too boring to bother with.

As was this puzzle.

OISK 11:58 AM  

@ Rabi Abonour observed " Also, this feels like the 32nd day in a row we've seen RIGA." When does Riga Mortis set in...? I have actually visited Riga. This one played like a Monday for me, easiest Wednesday in recent memory. I love puns, and enjoyed the puzzle very much.

puzzle hoarder 12:02 PM  

I'm surprised by the medium rating. This was over 90% Monday easy. The only actual write overs I had were ORSO/ORZO and LADED/LADEN
I'll have to reread the comments as I still don't understand the 35D clue.
@anon8:20 a very good example of METIER is Jack Nicholson's use of it in the movie "China Town". It's a scene in the first half where he's speaking to the Faye Dunaway character in a restaurant.
@Rabi Abanour I'm surprised by your reaction to RIGA. I don't have any record of it appearing in the NYPT recently and as my handle implies I like to keep track.

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Hey MAS seems like a great entry to me...


Lewis 12:04 PM  

@sir hillary -- Good catch on EVAN and MAS!

The ORZO answer made me laugh; to me, it was the class of the puzzle, though I did also like METIER and the clue for GALLON. I like how the puzzle gets our attention with AHEM and by the end we are all SANE. As I scan through the puzzle I smell A RAT backward, and we have a SCOUR down. I see ALIVE after yesterday's ALEVE -- are we in a progressive daily word ladder?? Will tomorrow feature OLIVE?

I would have liked some more clever cluing, but the puzzle comes in clean, and I had fun guessing the theme answers with just a few letters, which I was able to do with three of them. So I enjoyed the heck out of this!

Leapfinger 12:10 PM  

@AliasZ, I have to rig a toney response for your musical selection today, since I expected you'd go with Beniamino GIGLI. Yours was a real ThRILL to hear, and a virtuoso performance. The piece has a great backstory, but I suspect that Devil had a touch of the cigeuner about him.

ps. Your MANICOTTI PEDI just nailed it for me!

Croak en bouche 12:50 PM  

Trying to find just where 'crocuses' gets nasally. Nope, can't do it.

jack 1:23 PM  

"Ziti" for "city" is not a pun, just a homophon-ish mis-spelling.

Teedmn 1:23 PM  

Slower than average today. I blame yUGE blocking my COACH and the subliminal influence of METIER making me put in "tier" in at 34D (I don't think I've ever seen a SEAL honk a horn but "clown" didn't fit).

When I play poker, we never play PENNE ANTE - it's always a quarter. RIGA must have been a bonus themer that got cut off from its TONI. ALIVE mirroring ALIKE in the grid is nice. NEMO is a reverse OMEN, ORZO IT WOULD SEEM. I did not have to ENDURE a long, boring caucus last night because there were no chairs; the place was packed so I voted and skedaddled. And no, I did not vote for REGAN :-).

Thanks, Fred Piscop, a fine Wednesday, even if @Rex liked it as much as twice-cooked pasta.

And @LMS, thanks for the new (to me) clue for everybody's favorite four letter instrument.

Unknown 2:08 PM  

Seemed an easy puzzle as it went down smoothly with only one typo to correct for success. Too many great comments today to single any out. In sum, they were far more entertaining than this puzzle.

I had considered pasta for dinner last night, but decided on other fare. Thus, solving this puzzle, had it been before that fact, might have affected this decision.

And I thought I’d seen just about every possible clue for OREO. I always like to see OREO in a puzzle. It’s a singular element that cuts across all manner of grids. I liken cluing OREO to something like writing an ongoing gag for a sitcom; a fun little challenge to make it different and “sparkly” each time. I don’t recall the show’s name (not really relevant), but in each episode two friends would make a stupid bet, usually with no relationship to the storyline. “I bet you $5 you won’t give me $5.” With not a word of further dialog, the other guy hands him a five, which he puts in his pocket. He then takes it back out and hands it back to pay off the bet he just lost. How many “fun” ways can you craft a really stupid bet...or a clue for OREO?

Responding to some questions posed the past couple of days re the sea stories ---

So glad you (@Leapy et al) liked the sea stories. Needless to say I’ve got a bunch of good/interesting ones. As clues answers permit, I’ll may try to slip more in. The Cap’n Crunch was a simply a gimme to relate those I did.

@Anonymous 11:31 PM “….destroyers more or less bobbing like corks during storms.” Those destroyers were designed to “give” with the waves, like some trees are “designed” to easily bend in the wind. I can attest that the design was successful as we would roll even in the calmest of seas. During several strong gales we sailed through on the Atlantic, 30 to 40 degree rolls were common. One night we set a ship’s record with a 53(!!!) degree roll. Yup, easier to walk on the walls (‘scuse me, bulkheads) at that moment. Supposedly she could do some 60 degrees before capsizing. That was close enough, thank you! I had all I could do to hang on and not get tossed out of my rack (bed)….an upper one.

“Must have been scary fun aloft during big waves.” The only “aloft” in such weather was the signal bridge, restricted to the signalmen on watch for safety. Being relatively high up, one did get quite the ride up there during heavy seas. I was in tight with them so snuck up there to enjoy the ride and watch “greenies” (solid water) break over the bow, sometimes completely submerging the forward twin 5-inh gun mount. Not much else to do and loving amusement park rides anyway…..It was also scary being at the mercy of a dangerous Mother Nature.

During such weather I concluded (don’t actually know) there’s a good reason a ship’s “cafeteria” is called the “mess deck.” Go to a playground. Take your loaded dinner plate and a partner along. Get on the see-saw (with the dinner) and see-saw away….while eating said dinner. You will quickly learn what “mess” means.

@Hartley70 “ Did you really mean to say you went to sea on a destroyer with a hole patched with wood and mattresses? Unfathomable!” (I see what you did there ). Yes I did mean just that. Saw it with me [sic] own eyes. Did I mention we were setting out into a moderate gale to add to the merriment? Good training though. When you’re at sea there’s no one but yourselves to fix what needs fixing with what you have. Also, it was the Navy. We had our orders to go, hole of no hole.

Fixing your own holes and going through, not around, storms is just part of the “drill” for things you might have to do if at war. Crashing into other ships and docks? Well, not so much.


Kimberly 2:46 PM  

This one was fine, I guess. Solve time was quite a bit faster than usual; felt more like a Tuesday. The only remotely "NYT Crossword is psychic" moment was that my cat was (and still is) on my lap while solving, but there was no actual woo-woo-cue-twilight-zone-theme-song moment so clearly the force was not with this puzzle. Also no giggle moment, although I'm still in real-estate-deal hell so nothing short of an anti-rapture (wherein all greedy bastages and all stupid people are whisked away in an instant) would make me giggle these days. Overall rating: Meh. Who cares.

Chronic dnfer 2:50 PM  

About 50 mins. No dnf. I would rate it easy-medium. I like any nyt puzzle I can solve with no mistakes. Agree croci is a stretch. Look at the croci! I don't think so. It's look at the crocuses! Spell check agrees.

Chim cham 4:11 PM  

@Rex Perhaps there is such a thing as pun blindness. The pieces are all there, you know what's supposed to happen, but it just doesn't ever land. I love puns. Thought these were great. But you with puns, I think I'm that way with massages. I 'd like to enjoy a massage, but no matter how many people try to give me one, and keep going "relax" "don't clench up", I don't know how to go any slacker and it always just hurts. People look like they want to slap me when I say I don't like massages. Oh, well. I can live without them. I'm sure you could live without puns.

Z 5:03 PM  

@puzzle hoarder - OREOgraphy is not the study of chocolate sandwich cookies.

@Croak en bouche - I absolutely meant that literally. Keep trying. You'll hear it soon.

@jack - "just a homophon-ish mis-spelling" is pretty much the dictionary definition of "pun."

@oldtimer - I may have to change my norm de blog to Twee Z.

kitshef 5:32 PM  

@Z - Crocus from Greek via Latin, like hippopotomus. Preferred plurals (OED) crocuses, hippopotomuses.

aging soprano 5:44 PM  

This was the easiest Wednesday ever, even for me. As the words went down like SUGAR I thought it must have been misplaced from a Monday. I liked the clue for 9 down, and also thought HUGE should have started with a Y. What in G-d's name is happening over there in America? It all looks so "dysfunctional" from the other side of the ocean. Mad Donald Fury Road.

Aketi 8:41 PM  

@Leapfinger, took me a while the find AKITA. I think it's one of those days when my brain goes on pause. @z that's also my excuse for just stating dumbfoundedly at ZiTICOUNSELMAN this morning.

teevoz 5:08 AM  

Easy one. If you're too lazy to google OREO,

Z 8:58 AM  

@kitshef - Preferred by whom?* "-uses" is an ugly construction. I don't really care what the Greeks or Romans or Semites did to form their plurals, I speak English and there's no reason to inflect our language with ancient ugliness.

*You do realize I mean all this absolutely literally don't you? ; )

Suzy 9:08 PM  

Pretty simple--- thanks for the easy diversion!

Dr. John 5:29 PM  

I still don't understand the OREO clue whatsoever. Would someone please enlighten me? Thank you.

Burma Shave 10:42 AM  


TARA played with the ZITICOUNCILMAN, as was her HABIT,
she RANTED, ”I’m not ABEL to ENDURE such a joker,
DEAL, SUGAR. You may EARN a chance to LEAR ABIT
if I’ve MADE and lost ABET in PENNEANTEPOKER.”


rain forest 2:22 PM  

Pasta puns, please! I think it is hard to make puns other than the ones in the puzzle because of all the -ini, -ili, -oni, and -iti endings. Itty bitty capelliti, eeny meeny fettucini - argh. Hell hath no fiori (absence of pasta in Hades?). So, unless you are like @Alias Z (manicotti pedi), we're kind of stuck with the ones here, and they aren't bad.

Mostly, this puzzle was easy and competently constructed. Maybe not so memorable, although I rarely think of a crossword puzzle in those terms. Heck I forget last week's puzzles already.

I think the plural of crocus should be croci, trying to sound like another pasta, but if it were, it would be pronounced more like croach-ee. Lovely language, but everything all sounds the same somehow. Enlivened by a flurry of hand gestures, though.

Anyway, I liked it. Wondering how others feel. Penne for your thoughts?

rondo 3:10 PM  

Well, the themers might not have been gutbustin’ wacky, but pretty harmless in any event. Thought the clue for the gridspanner was apt enough. But CROCI?? Really?

I used to be a ZITICOUNCILMAN in my hometown. 6 years of that was enough, I’ve done my time.

Tried to SCOUR the puz for a yeah baby, but will revert to the clues and mention of UBER yeah baby Gwyneth Paltrow. She certainly MERITs it and any SANE fellow would yearn for a few ROLLS with her, ORZOITWOULDSEEM.

Call up DAS UBER for a ride, maybe in a COACH. Or in a ROLLS.

Kinda silly attempt at humor, but not too hard to ENDURE.

leftcoastTAM 3:36 PM  

Kinda cute and amusing theme, but a little on the thin side. I liked the "Z" words, and it was nice to see a CZAR again after so many TSARS.

METIER is a good word I'll keep in mind, and maybe even use it some time if I can avoid sounding pretentious.

Diana,LIW 4:26 PM  

True fact - I finished this puzzle completely and correctly - just me and my lil box of ORZO in the cupboard. And I like puns. So I liked it.

Was going along swimmingly until I hit the far mid-west and had "hand" in place for the longest time. Much staring ensued. But then decided MOC and SEAL had to be two answers, and all else fell into place.

I have a friend who is a chef, and he came up with something he calls "Spaghetti Westerns." Just flip around red sauce of your choice with red salsa, Italian stuffing stuff (ie ricotta and spices) with Mexi stuffing stuff (beans, pulled pork, Mex cheese, chicken, what have you) and you stuff your cannellini with Mex stuffing, cover with salsa. Reverse, too, for ricotta and Ital spices in a burrito covered with red sauce. As I say to Mr. W at the dinner table, "try it, you'll like it."

The croci are definitely blooming in Spokaloo, we have predictions of 80 degrees for Friday! Spring sprang into summer.

I left a message in the future for GBarany regarding the tourney - we'll see if he gets it and answers. Told him Syndieland was wondering.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Pasta tonight

Waxy in Montreal 6:58 PM  

@Dr John, I was baffled too but found this explanation elsewhere - the prefix “oro-” (sometimes “oreo-”) comes from Greek, and is a combining form meaning “mountain”. “Oros” is the Greek word for “mountain”. ORZOITWOULDSEEM.

Diana,LIW 9:31 PM  

Thanks, Waxy, for answering Dr J's ?

However, for a quick answer to any such question, try looking at Bill Butler's NYT puz blog - he explains many of the answers every day.

Diana, LIW

Waxy in Montreal 10:30 PM  

Thanks @Diana, LIVV - that's actually where I found the info.

Steven 8:31 PM  

Coming at this year’s later, by way of one of the “Best of the Week” books. We’re stumped by 69 Across: “H H H” -> ETAS?

Z 9:15 PM  

@Steven - Those are the Greek Letter ETA, so three of them would be ETAS.

Steven 9:20 AM  

Aaaah! "Est. Time of Arrival" was SO stuck in our head - thank you, @Z

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