Brother Antonio Girolamo in music history / THU 5-26-16 / Foe of Ottomans / Nursery bagful / 1777 battle site / When shortened topic in sexology / 1836 battle site / white one said to symbolize I'm sorry

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Constructor: Andrew Zhou

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: transformative compressions — two-word phrases are clued as if they were "[first letter of first word]-second word" words, "[w]hen shortened." Thus, for example, [When shortened, June 1944 offensive] might clue the answer DORIS DAY (because "when shortened," "DORIS" becomes "D"...). And so:

Theme answers:
  • VITAL SIGNS (4D: When shortened, winning symbols)
  • QUICK TIPS (18A: When shortened, ear swabs)
  • FOXHOLE (24D: When shortened, violin feature)
  • ONION RING (11D: When shortened, rocket seal)
  • GUEST SPOT (34D: When shortened, topic in sexology)
  • TAPAS BARS (58A: When shortened, ski lifts)
  • BLINDSIDES (one-word verb? two-word plural noun?) (31D: When shortened, lesser-played songs) 
Word of the Day: PAAVO Järvi (50D: Conductor Järvi) —
Paavo Järvi (Estonian: [ˈpɑːvo ˈjærvi]; born 30 December 1962) is an Estonian conductor.
Järvi was born in Tallinn, Estonia, to conductor Neeme Järvi and Liilia Järvi. His siblings, Kristjan Järvi and Maarika Järvi, are also musicians. After leaving Estonia, the family settled in Rumson, New Jersey. He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with Max Rudolf and Otto-Werner Mueller, and at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute with Leonard Bernstein. // From 1994 to 1997, Järvi was principal conductor of the Malmö Symphony Orchestra. From 1995 to 1998, he shared the title of principal conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra with Sir Andrew Davis. Järvi was music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 2001 to 2011. The orchestra made a number of recordings for the Telarc label during Järvi's tenure. In May 2011, he was named the orchestra's Music Director Laureate. Since 2004, he has been the artistic director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Bremen and an Artistic Advisor to the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. In 2006, Järvi became the principal conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, and served in the post until 2014. In 2010, he became music director of the Orchestre de Paris. He is scheduled to conclude his tenure with the Orchestre de Paris at the conclusion of his current contract, at the end of the summer of 2016. In June 2012, the NHK Symphony Orchestra named Järvi its next chief conductor, beginning in the 2015–2016 season, with an initial contract of three years. Järvi recently starred in the documentary Maestro, directed by David Donnelly, which followed Järvi and an array of brilliant musicians as they performed across the globe. (wikipedia)
• • •
Wow, this was not an easy theme to describe succinctly. It's kind of bizarre, in that there's no connection at all, meaning-wise, between the answer in the grid and the "shortened" answer that's actually being clued. There's just this clever bit of wordplay going on, over and over (and in intersecting answers—nice). I found it oddly delightful. Wacky in a way I somehow appreciated. I can even forgive the Absurd Scrabble-f*cking in the SW corner—why is that "J" there? TAJ really really limits cluing possibilities, leaving you only with proper noun / fill-in-the-blank cluing options (here, the banal 58D: ___ Boston (luxury hotel), yawn). TAN or TAB or TAG or TAP beats TAJ any day. Any. Day. It is *bizarre* that there is no "Y" in this grid, because the only way I can understand that corner "J" is if the constructor was actually going for a pangram (i.e. a puzzle with every letter in the alphabet represented at least once). But there's no "Y". There's no Y!!! It's so weird. I feel like there must've been one that got edited out. Wait, where was I? Oh, right. I actually enjoyed this theme, and most of this grid.

TAPAS BARS was both my favorite answer and the hardest (for me) to get. This is partly because of TAJ (?) [shakes fist], partly because I don't think of a BOT as a "harvester," partly because that [Remover of dirt...] clue was doing nothing for me, partly because I wasn't *entirely* sure of the spelling on PAAVO. But I just hacked at it wildly and finally things fell into place. Two other trouble spots were a. in the north where ETAS and SALE were not at all apparent to me. The latter really looked like it would be OPEN, and the former was just inscrutable; and b. in the east, where the BILGE / ASTER / LILT / DEBRIS mash-up was mildly befuddling. Clue on DEBRIS was particularly vexing (30A: Refuse). Other than that, I had TOYS for 10A: Nursery bagful (LOAM) at first, but not many other hiccups. Finished in somewhat under my average Thursday time.

I think QUICK TIPS is the weakest themer here, in that I don't really know what those are. Or, I do, probably, but that answer just doesn't stand alone as well or seem as snappy as the others. I mean, yes QUICK TIPS are a thing the way GREEN PAINT is a thing, but ... HELPFUL TIPS googles twice as well, and no one in their right mind thinks *that's* a great phrase (HELPFUL HINTS, however, would be good ... but I (really) digress). I'm not faulting the answer so much as noting its wobbliness vis-a-vis the other answers. It's good enough—not much else you can do to pick up the Q-TIP reference. Weird, inventive, interesting. FINE!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


lg 12:33 AM  

My first two passes through the puzzle yielded very little help. Once I finally cracked TAPASBARS I understood the theme and things started coming together.

Got hung up on BLINDSIDES because I wanted Scald for SINGE and because I didn't have SARATOGA yet, nothing on the east side was working for me (and I can never remember LAIRD when a clue like that comes in). Finally just kind of plugged away until solved, though I tried BroadSIDES and BLaNDSIDES before the correct answer hit me and everything came together.

I enjoyed it, though I wish I had been faster.

Anonymous 12:38 AM  

10A was wOol for me, as in 3 bags full. Then LOAd as in laundry bag. @Rex - maybe AXIS completes the pangram?

George Barany 1:20 AM  

I enjoyed @Andrew Zhou's puzzle, and was particularly impressed by the way the seven theme entries partially interlocked and stacked. Thanks @Rex for the positive and illuminating review.

No real stumbling blocks with any of the fill or clues; my own favorites were ESQS and RAG, along with the romp through American history with battle sites at SARATOGA and the ALAMO. Plus, it was nice to be reminded of "Bedtime for BONZO," which co-starred someone who later left a mark on American politics.

Loren Muse Smith 5:10 AM  

What a novel idea. I agree with Rex; this was delightful. How can you not try to think of others? Trombone, air hole, cross section, inkpad… But Andrew snagged the best ones with GUEST SPOT and ONION RING. GUEST SPOT is the only one that could be clued in a blushsome way. Hey, be my guest. Ahem.

I almost had a dnf but guessed correctly on the PAAVO/OVAL cross. Considered other letters besides V, though. I also had a dumb moment when I almost put in "smokin" for STOLEN.

One other thing that brought me up short: AROMA for me for some reason feels like something heated up and then sent wafting around. So the bouquet of a glass of wine, the startling smell of my son's, uh, BUTTERBALL shoes, even a gardenia… I don't use AROMA with those. Scent, odor, smell feel more natural. Probably just me.

Andrew – you brought your AWAY GAME today. Really cool.

derrick eckardt 5:37 AM  

There is a y in it, it's clued right in the middle in 35A: AXIS I think that's pretty slick that the only letter which doesn't appear in the crossword, is written just as the letter in the clue.

Marty Van B 5:55 AM  

Finished this one far more quickly than usual. Had to double check that I printed out today's puzzle and not yesterday's.

On a side note, my sister is an audiologist and she would tell you QTIPS are NOT! ear swabs.

GILL I. 6:41 AM  

Loved it. Puzzle was different and fun. Not a single UGGS in the entire package today. A vase full of TULIPs and ROUGE ASTERS being serenaded by granddad's STOLEN AMATI. He might have been AMISH.
So many gorilla names to choose from like Rex Mantooth, Kung Fu Gorilla,Gorilla Grodd or Grape Ape. BONZO is good though, just like Reagan was.
Loved the clue for ASHES. Are we grateful? Are the Grateful Dead?

Passing Shot 6:48 AM  

Enjoyed the theme but DNF. Had "wool" for LOAM (thinking of nursery rhymes); "BroaDSIDES" for BLINDSIDES threw me off in that whole ASTER/ANGER area. Not crazy about the ASHES clue.

No BS 7:05 AM  

Liked ETAS crossing TAU.

Carola 7:06 AM  

Neat puzzle! It took me quite a bit of hopscotching around before I got the idea. On the way to getting it, for a long eyebrow-raising moment I thought we were going to have "GUESs SPOT" and thought "Tell me about it."

Wm Martin 7:43 AM  

Nice to see the vital classical music scene in Estonia getting some recognition in this puzzle.

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

Loved it. Hard but worth it, because of the fun of the long answers once I got the message.

Hungry Mother 7:59 AM  

Fast Thursday for me, but not without a lot of sweat.

Peen F. Grail 8:18 AM  

Nice puzzle.

Liked RAG and it was nice to see PAAVO. And even though it's breakfast time, I'm hungry for chicken tikka MASALA.

I wavered a bit at the LASSE/GESSO crossing but ultimately nailed it.

chefbea 8:26 AM  

Fun puzzle but a bit tough for me. Had to google a lot of those PPP things. Of course loved the food items ...especially onion rings!!!

kitshef 8:27 AM  

I realize we're only eight comments in, but I'm astonished that no one has yet commented on the LASSE/GESSO crossing. I spent at least a quarter of my time on this puzzle contemplating that one spot. Finally decided LASSE sounded microscopically better than LASKE or LASCE or LASHE or LASIE.

Three WoEs in the entire puzzle, and you have to cross two of them? (PAAVO was the third).

And it would be so easy to make two of those WoEs go away, just using Finnish distance runners Viren and Nurmi, both household names.

Hand up for SmOkiN as first thought for STOLEN.

cwf 8:41 AM  

Went clockwise and got *nothing* until ALT. Then ANGIE and the puzzle flowed from the west to the east coast. So first I was hating it but by the end I found myself charmed. So I guess I agree with @Rex. Nice to have a more difficult trial after the breezes that started the week.

Larry David 8:52 AM  

It doesn't exist:

JERRY: But there's no "t" in your name. What about G-bone?

GEORGE: There's no G-bone.

JERRY: There's a g-spot.

GEORGE: That's a myth.

kitshef 8:55 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith (et al) - my particular insanity is to try and come up with one for each letter of the alphabet. I'm missing H, L, R, U, W, X and Z.

I feel like X should be easy with Xmen, Xfiles, Xray available, but I'm blanking on the longer phrase.

ghkozen 8:57 AM  

That Lasse--Gesso crossing was an abomination. I got to only that square left, thought about running through the alphabet, and realized that no, screw it, that will just sap every ounce of enjoyment I have in the puzzle.

Then it sapped the enjoyment anyway

Z 9:00 AM  

@LMS - Such a potty mouth.

@Rex - Thanks for the Tiny Desk video. Any music ecumenicalists out there who aren't subscribed to the Tiny Desk Podcast need to fix that. Three songs. About 15 minutes. And just about every style makes an appearance. Tom Jones, Rodrigo y Gabriella,, Esperanza Spalding, or Gogol Bordello might be appearing on any given day. I do hope all you "rap" haters give T-Pain a few seconds listen.

@Aketi - following up from yesterday, today is pretty PPP dense in the NW and yet 8 squares don't have a PPP element in either direction. I wonder just how aberrant yesterday's NW corner is.

@anon12:38 and @derrick eckardt - Nice catch on the Y-AXIS.

Nice twist, FINE puzzle, the only short fill that I noticed while solving was ETAS and ENO, nice job of turning ese T-BARS into a themer. Good job all around.

jberg 9:03 AM  

@kitshef, they're household names in those households that follow distance running, maybe -- I'd never heard of them. But I'm of an age that when you hear "Jarvi," you think "Neeme," so it took me pretty much all the crosses to get that one.

The TAJ Boston was in the news last week because it's losing money and the owners want to sell it, asking $50 million less than they had paid for it when it was the Ritz. But I'd probably have got it anyway, as there aren't that many three-letter luxury hotels here in Boston.

My big problem was putting in Queue TIPS, thinking that the theme would be the initial letter spelled out. That, plus the wool for LOAM error, made the NE obstinate. Finally the crosses forced me to QUICK, and BONZO>LUTZ gave me LOAM.

Grammar question: I can see an argument for the singular "foe" in the clue for 1A, but I'm not convinced. So that held me up until I got the V, after which there was no choice. (Also, I'm shaky on history. I know the Swedes conquered Constantinople, but maybe that was while the Greeks still controlled it?)

I did like the Greek-alphabet mini-theme. And I would buy the Y-AXIS-completes-the-pangram if it were actually in the center, but it isn't.

Mohair Sam 9:04 AM  

Wow! Something new, very impressive.

We got the theme quickly at ONIONRINGS. Yet found enough resistance through clever cluing and some tough PPP to make this medium/challenging for us. Battled through a couple of naticks-in-waiting (don't know LASSE, how do you spell GESSO and PAAVO?). Not knowing what an F-HOLE is didn't speed us up at all either.

Filled in SIGMA before TAU and later wasted much time assuming I was looking for the letter before SIGMA at 7d - which I still can't remember.

Yup @derrick eckardt - As soon as I read Rex bemoaning the lack of "y" in the puzzle I also thought "look to the clue for 35A". Nicely done by the constructor.

Great Thursday puzz Andrew Zhou, thanks.

Z 9:05 AM  

Oh - I did notice the mini-lesson in the Greek Alphabet. I wonder if the clue for ETAS has changed. Almost raises the bug to a feature. Has the Greek Letter/Random Roman Numeral theme been done yet?

@kitshef - Didn't we just have GESSO earlier this week? For me a very recent LFC, so no problem.

Nancy 9:09 AM  

I join in the praise for this quirky, original and unusual puzzle. I think Rex's description, "wacky", is very apt. I didn't find it all that easy: at 24A, I wrote in MIND confidently, and think that answer is a lot more accurate than the (to me) rather peculiar FINE. I also had OUTDUEL before OPTIMAL at 57A. These two mistakes kept me from seeing such otherwise easy answers as KNEE and AMISH for a while.

Because our little group skews old, I guess many of us here remember ROUGE (38A). I'm embarrassed to admit that I do. But I haven't used it in decades, and I'm sure the rest of you ladies haven't either. It's blush, now, in the compact of every hip woman.

Question of the day: Why does the clue "Out" for ALIBI always get me? Every. Single. Time. You'd think I'd have learned that clue by now.

Mark McCarter 9:16 AM  

Toyo is a tire brand, so the pangram puzzle could have been pulled off if 66 across was changed from togo to toyo.

Hartley70 9:16 AM  

I found this really difficult, like Saturday difficult. I only could get 2/3rds of the answers last night and had to have a second go at it this morning to finish. I didn't have the theme until GUESTSPOT this morning and it was so theme rich that was a real handicap. Of course, not knowing ANGIE didn't help a bit. PAAVO and SPAMBOT are head scratchers, actually everywhere scratchers because I'm tortured with hives the past few days. Even a week of Mondays might be beyond me at this point.

oldbizmark 9:18 AM  

oh. grateful. like a BBQ. clever but not fun. otherwise, pretty blah (and easy) for a Thursday. got to make it easy for the holidayers.

Pete 9:31 AM  

My only slowdown was caused by 27D - My initial entry of ATTAR just had to be correct, because crosswordesse. I briefly wondered if Q-Tips were initially called quick-tips, but that foolishness was dropped quickly.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

I've always been amused at the prefix TAJ used to induce people to show up at a place. The "Taj Boston"? What's their come-on? Stay at the Taj Boston and sleep the sleep of the dead?

Rivjjs 9:41 AM  

I am fairly new to NYT crosswords. Typically only try Mon. Tues. & wed. This is my first complete Thursday. Took me just over an hour, but I knew I could get this one. Starting to see why you all love doing them. New to Rex too. Hmmmmm interesting bloke.

Tita 9:59 AM  

@derrick observation!

@Marty...while it says that right on the box, everyone knows that IS how they're used. Just the mfg lawyering up.

Didn't know TULIP, but inferrable once I got the had to be referring to flowers. Back in the day when your beau dared not speak his true feelings...sending flowers was a language.
I consulted my "Langage des Fleurs" book...(yes, I have a flower language dictionary...!), and to the French, at least, regret is symbolized by asphodelus.
Btw, in case you were wondering what flower means "my best days are behind me", it's the fall-blooming crocus. Oh those French.
And pansy comes from the French common name pensé symbolizes souvenirs, or fond memories.
So think twice before choosing flowers for that bouquet!

My first hint at the theme came with confidently writing QueueTIP. Figured they would all be letter homophones.
I liked it...what a Thursday should be. Even if it played a bit hard due to some of those ppps.

Thanks Mr. Zhou.

Jon Alexander 10:00 AM  

Really enjoyed this....too easy for a Thursday tho especially because I got the theme pretty much as soon as ESQS dropped

Elihu Root 10:18 AM  

To quote Teddy Roosevelt, deeeeeelightful!

Sheryl 10:26 AM  

I really liked this puzzle. I enjoyed solving it, and I'm proud of myself for finishing it without googling even once.

Anonymous 10:28 AM

Lobster11 10:40 AM  

Enjoyed this, but not sure I'd go quite so far as to call it "delightful." The unfair GESSO/LASSE cross really irked me. Or perhaps I should say "irks" me, because 15 minutes later I'm still feeling the irk.

B(lack)list 10:43 AM  

Lame theme for a Thursday. I mean, the tail ends of the themers were too obvious giving away too much for the crosses.

Lewis 10:44 AM  

Loved it. There is not only clever cluing (SLOMO, FINE, RAG), but there is also vague cluing (ALIBI, DEBRIS, SALE) which made this a fun struggle on top of the clever theme (which actually helped the solve). And there were some answers that my ear liked (SINGE, LILT, DEBRIS). I had BroadSIDE before BLINDSIDE.

With such a fresh theme, this is one of those diamonds in the rough, and the NYT crossword is a high-bar rough to begin with. Thank you for this, Andrew!

Trombone Tom 10:57 AM  

Wow! This was different and clever.

I looked at this last night and got no traction at all, just some maybes. This morning it went smoothly. No clue at all about PAAVO.

#Rex really nailed it.

Joseph Michael 11:14 AM  

Fun theme and lots ot it. Played difficult for me but managed to solve it with a few lucky guesses, such as LASSE, MASALA, and PAAVO (all names).

Favorite themer: G SPOT. Favorite nonthemer: SPAM BOT. Regarding the latter, neither of those words existed when I was a kid. Well, maybe SPAM did, but it was something undesirable on your plate not something undesirable in your mailbox.

Mohair Sam 11:19 AM  

@Tita A - Would your QueueTIP be the front of the line, the back of the line, or a suggestion of what to do while waiting in line?

@Pete - AtTar before ASTER here too. We clung to for way too long as well, like you said - it just had to be right.

@Rivjjs - Love your take on OFL: "Hmmmmmmm interesting bloke". Indeed.

John Child 11:31 AM  

Lots of wow without much ow. Tough proper names for me, and since it took basically a Saturday time here I have to call it challenging. But I'm now using the Times's online solver for the first time and not yet in the right time zone after travel. All the smart kids say it was easy, so I bet it was.

Interesting to be back in the US after a while. Big roads. Big people. Fabulous grocery stores where $50 disappears instantly. Silly politicians.

Unknown 11:31 AM  

I thought UNPC was a bit of a cheat, and too found the LASSE/GESSO spot stifling. Doing this puzzle was perhaps the only time being in a fraternity helped with a NYT crossword, having to learn the Greek alphabet and all.

jae 11:35 AM  

Easy-medium for me too. PAAVO and LASSE were WOEs but the crosses were fine, except for maybe @kitshef, lobster 11 et. al. GESSO.

Clever and unusual theme, smooth grid, three film directors, liked it.

old timer 11:37 AM  

DNF for me because I had "Tivo" instead of TOGO. I had no idea what a "rav" might be. RAG is much better. I did have to Google for SPIKE LEE, but having done that the NW fell easily.

The particular part of the Greek alphabet used in this puzzle is easily inferable from our own alphabet:


(note, no Q for the Greeks)

Greg 11:50 AM  

I thought the theming was bit weak in that 5/7 were two-word answers and 2 were one-word.

RooMonster 12:02 PM  

Hey All !
Different kind of puz. Common words/phrases clued as just a letter/word thingamabob. Easy puz except for the South Center and SE. Big ole DNF down there. Had SPAMBOx, but thinking it could've been BOT, but still not getting anything for 66A. Left that and 63A blank! Ouch... SE corner just a cluster. Had OPTIMum, and not knowing the Natick GESSO/LASSE just torpedoed me there.

We get a hugh RGL day today! (Random Greek Letter, like an RRN, but letters...) Three of em, and criss referenced! Awesome.

Maybe Y was at LILy/ASyEt/ANGEt. But don't know what ANGEt would be. Like the theories that it's thr y in the clues.

MESSed UP (Me, not the puz!)

Unknown 12:52 PM  

First themer I attempted was 18A, which I misplayed as QUEUETIPS. That led me to some misery in both misunderstanding the theme and then not revisiting it after I realized I wasn't looking for homophones in the themers. Found the overall experience enjoyable though.

Teedmn 1:36 PM  

While this wasn't your usual tricky Thursday puzzle, I found it to be great fun. I "got" the theme at TAPAS BARS which allowed me to understand VITAL SIGNS and to figure out how GUEST should end. I liked the clue for RAG a lot and was glad to see TAJ clued differently than usual since TAJ Boston was an unknown for me.

My Dad paints so GESSO went in with no crosses but I went astray at 61A and had some weird idea, perhaps inspired by MASALA, that PINDAR was an Indian "state" rather than a Greek poet, so that turned out to be my one write over.

I always love it when I can put my memorization of the Greek alphabet to good use, so those three clue/answers were a plus for me.

Thanks, AZ!

xyz 1:43 PM  

I'm always late to the party because I do these at work. Steady solve, mediumish, clever and I can't remember which theme I got first but then went to fill then all in by reasoning rather quickly. FOXHOLE was probably the one.

Greek letters seemed so random especially with ETAs up on top as well.

A fun Thursday, sometimes they are just sooooooo tedious

Masked and Anonymous 1:44 PM  

Super-B theme.
Bullets for @indie009:

* I like to think of the theme as a one-step-removed fill-in-the-blanks. Example: {Ear swabs} clues something. Once U get that midway themer answer, it then always becomes a fill-in-the-blanks clue, after the first letter: {Q___TIPS??}. Great and weirdball. thUmbsUp. Would make a "good" biter runt puztheme, if done in reverse.

* fave weeject: TAJ. This pup is only a whatchamacallit upsweep line dealy away from TAU, which is also in the puz. Also, the "J" gets U within a "Y" of a pangram. [U know U want it.] And pangram-topia is pretty easy to get to, from here [See new NE corner clues, below.]

Revised pangramatical NE corner clues:
10. Tending toward pinkish
16. "I'm totally ___ pangrams" (Classic Rex Parker sentiment)
10. High on the hog living
12. Classic Del Vetts 1966 tune "I Call My Baby ___" [Hint: What would a hot-rodder do?]
13. Rocky greetings, in a way

This revision not only accomplishes the pangram, but also adioses a coupla abbrs. However, there is disastrous collateral damage to the U-count. So … screw the pangram; never mind; I digress.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Faster the average time but I was perplexed with the abundance of battle sites, movie directors, foreign names and Greek letters

t-dawg 2:53 PM  

ODIST/LASSE was a ridiculous crossing. I had to guess to get the S.

Unknown 3:04 PM  

I got the gesso quad, vital signs, but "Spambot?" DNF.

puzzle hoarder 3:07 PM  

This could have been a difficult puzzle if it weren't for the theme. TULIP and ALAMO gave me the NW. Having VITAL SIGNS made guessing the other themers easy. With the themes I had a leg up on the more difficult material such as PAAVO and LASSE. My own write overs at SAVE/STOW and OPTIMUM/OPTIMAL slowed me down more than anything else. I'm a bit surprised people are still finding GESSO to be a mystery but then again I've never really learned the Greek alphabet in all the years I've been solving.

Chronic dnfer 3:12 PM  

Good puz. Dnf'd at load/dcs. Provably would have caught that if I looked there again. Calling this one up as.... You guessed it. Victory!

Z 6:06 PM  

I though GESSO was even more recent, but 2 ½ months is not long ago.

Larry 8:24 PM  

Not crazy about the clue for LILT, thought ODIST a bit old hat. Is it my imagination or have compass points and Roman numerals disappeared from the NYT puzzles?

kitshef 8:28 AM  

@Z yes, I see GESSO caused me a DNF last time. Clearly I'm not a learning bear.

Z 9:04 AM  

@kitshef - I'm not sure "Oh, yeah, GESSO is a word" qualifies as "learning." Hence the LFC designation. I often admit to a "mile wide inch deep" knowledge pool. GESSO is in the shallow end.

kitshef 11:10 AM  

@Z again. I see it was clued last time as 'canvas primer', which doesn't necessarily bring to mind painting. Could have been a camping term or sailing term. I think I arbitrarily assumed the latter, sailing having all kinds of odd lingo. Had I taken the time to google it before, maybe it would have stuck.

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

You people are so much smarter than me! Because it was Thursday, expected letters to be crammed into one square or fall off the page or disappear altogether. I got the tips and the rings and the signs easily enough, but was innocent (gullible, naive, stupid) enough to believe that the rocket scientists actually called them onion rings; and Q tips was from quick; and b sides were blind; and guest spot, well...... I even talked myself into believing that the victory sign had been originally called a vital sign. When the troublesome southwest finally fell, Tapas bar made no sense at all. Ohhhhhhhhh! I get it now!

Diana,LIW 7:35 PM  

Dear Forest where it Rains,

Check out my reply to you yesterday, @Rainy! (And a coupla daze ago.)


Burma Shave 8:37 AM  


A few QUICKTIPS for an OPTIMAL ALIBI, you know,
Don't MESSUP; no ANGER: and don't let VITALSIGNS show.


spacecraft 11:24 AM  

I get it now. OFSTTSW (Our Fearless Slave To The Stopwatch) rates as follows: Difficulty = solving time. Period. Thus there have been puzzles which required some sort of time-consuming process that he called, maybe, "medium" or even "medium-challenging" that weren't hard at all.

And then there's today. The theme wasn't that hard to pick up (although I went momentarily astray with QueueTIPS, thinking that these were actually written-out letters), but the cluing at every turn was Saturday-brutal. Don't give me a PAAVO Nurmi or a LASSE Viren; no-o. We have to deal with Obscure Unpronouncable Guys #1 and #2. I'm supposed to know what follows Chicken tikka, or that SPIKELEE directed "Chi-Raq" instead of myriad better-known films? And what, pray tell, is a "TAPASBAR?" Is everything on tap there? I'm only lucky that I fell across UGGS in another puzzle. But even the ordinary words received tough clues: "Out" for ALIBI; "Untried" for NOVEL. Certainly FINE clues, just anti-gimme.

Gimme ANGIE was the way in; I'll supply the surname Dickinson to yield a DOD of the first water. In fact, I'd take SECONDS.

No way you can apply "easy" to this one, I don't care how QUICK you did it. It's a toughie, but an "I-did-it!"-ie. Gosh, I think I coined a word: Ididitie. So I shall award the OPTIMAL grade of eagle.

Diana,LIW 2:47 PM  

My first go-through I couldn't get a toe hold, more like a nose tip hold. But it was enough to have a second go, and after sussing UNPC I finally got a themer. Oh so clever. No cheats, no errors. Plan is to be happy all day.

And then to come here and not have Rex say it was easier than a stroll in the park on a sunny day. Miraculous!

Knew GESSO from crosswords, so that crossing didn't MESSUP my solve. But having kiln for OVEN kept me in the mid-west for a while. Realized something had to change. Pop-country - is that a genre? nooo If only I'd thought of some of my misadventures in cookery, OVEN would have been obvious.

Must. Memorize. Greek. Alphabet. (good for you, @Teedmn!)

Perhaps I'll get some Chicken tikka Masala from Trader J's today to celebrate.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and O'er the top Odist

Anonymous 2:59 PM  

Can someone explain 6-d esqs? How does it relate to lawsuit?

rain forest 3:08 PM  

Coffee cup nearby (see what I did there?), laptop at the ready, I have to say this was a fun puzzle. Not catching on to the theme until FOXHOLE, which allowed me to get BLINDSIDES, where I had previously floundered, I moved semi-smoothly through this FINE effort.

I wasn't particularly aware that this was a near pangram, but when it was pointed out that it lacked a 'y', the clue for AXIS jumped out in its self-referential way as a possible 8th themer. Cute.

Sometimes you do learn things here, although it is hard for me to see why UGG boots originated from surf culture. Apres-ski perhaps?

@Lady Di, @leftcoastTAM, @Teedmn, thanks for the boost. I'll keep on keeping on, but where is our Syndi leader, @Spacecraft? I hope he is not lost in space.

leftcoastTAM 3:25 PM  

SLOMO workout, but both challenging and satisfying in the end.

Picked up the trick at Q_TIPS, but entered quill before getting QUICK. G_SPOT helped me get up to speed. ONIONRINGS were a FINE snack to nibble on afterward. VITAL SIGNS returned to normal, but too tired TOGO back for SECONDS.

Could tell you more, but probably more than one such tale already told above.

Anonymous 4:57 PM  

Diana, LIW - you seem to be clean gridding the 'not easy' puzzles more frequently; congratulations for that.

Anon at 2:59. ESQ is short for Esquire, a phony-baloney title often self-appended to the names of lawyers.

@spacecraft. AGREE COMPLETELY. One puzzle might take twenty minutes sweating it all the way through. Another you might blow through in five minutes, then spend fifteen minutes worrying over one Natick area. To me, those are in no way equivalent. I time only two puzzles per month (fourth Monday and fourth Tuesday), but I would never imagine my times correspond to puzzle difficulty. Is a puzzle more difficult just because I misread my "E" as an "F" (or whatever the equivalent is solving on a device)?

Diana,LIW 7:39 PM  


Mr. Waiting and I discovered the tapas bar concept about 10 years ago. It is a Spanish pub-style establishment that serves "small plates," or appetizers, only. So you can order several and share. Think 2 small sliders vs. a giganto burger. A few specialty shrimp vs. shrimp scampi. All on one table. And they do often have stuff on tap. Only a coincidence.

Lady Di

Sailor 8:55 PM  

There was a similarly entertaining theme in the WSJ puzzle today. That one required a memory for decades-old pop hits, so maybe not for everyone, but if your tastes run in that direction, its worth a look.

rondo 10:57 PM  

Late, late comment having been on a workday on a paddlewheel on the St.Croix River to check out the new bridge at Stillwater. Impressive. And then golf. Got the trick, but had to solve by fits and starts.

@anon 2:59 - Lawsuits = lawyers, in suits = their titles as ESQuireS. I don't have that title since I am a law school dropout. And not ashamed of it.

Yeah, ANGIE D. will do even though not the clued answer since it's been that kinda day for me.

Pretty nice puz even though I wasn't fully able to enjoy it. But cocktails at the Freight House were just FINE.

Waxy in Montreal 11:29 AM  

Even later. Don't Australia and England play for the ASHES on The OVAL?

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