L'chaim / THU 5-5-16 / Nonstick pan brand / World's second most translated author / 7 on the Beaufort scale / Sports org. with the Calder Cup

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Constructor: David Poole

Relative difficulty: Thursday

Hi, everybody. It's me! PuzzleGirl! And I'm here to talk you through your Thursday puzzle. If it seems like I'm in a bad mood, it's because I had surgery on my foot three weeks ago and I've been in bed since then. Three weeks! And it wouldn't be so bad if I had been expecting it. Do you know what my doctor said when I asked him back in January about what the recovery time would be like? Of course you don't.
Well, I'll tell you. He said, "You won't be able to drive for a week." What he failed to say was, "And then you won't be able to drive for three weeks after that." And, "There's a good possibility you won't be able to drive for the three weeks after that either." No, he didn't say either of those last two things. And yet, here we are.

So, if I'm in a bad mood, now you know why. If, on the other hand, I say anything crazy, well that's just the Vicodin talking. Got that? Okay, here we go.

Theme: "Ace in the Hole" - the word ACE is presumed to reside in four squares (holes) in the grid.

Theme Answers:
  • 1A: Cel material - [ACE]TATE
  • 13D: Sourness - [ACE]RBITY
  • 24A: Spiritual that lent its name to a 2015 Broadway musical - AMAZING GR[ACE]
  • 12D/30D: Period when dinosaurs became extinct - CRET[ACE]OUS
  • 52A: Hidden advantage that this puzzle employs four times? - [ACE] IN THE HOLE
  • 35D/56D: Neighboring - ADJ[ACE]NT TO
  • 68A: Big name in Italian fashion - VERS[ACE]
  • 51D: Longtime Vegas performer - LIBER[ACE]
This puzzle gave me fits. You should be able to see in the grid above where I made my mistakes. First, I had IRELAND where ICELAND was supposed to go [6D: European country whose telephone directories list people alphabetically by first name]. Then, I had IN OUR instead of IS OUR [65A: "A Mighty Fortress ___ God" (hymn)]. The crosses might have helped me if I had taken the time to think about it. But I didn't. ARRE could be an Israeli port just as well as ACRE to me. And I typically don't pay attention to the cities named in the Random Direction clues, but if I had in this case, I would have seen my mistake.

But that third error? Well, what I think we have here is a living, breathing Natick. Crossing [41D: Charlie Chan's creator Earl ___ Biggers] and [23D: Cubist Fernand] at the last letter is just ... well, that could have been any letter in the alphabet as far as I was concerned. I guess if I'm going to put a positive spin on it, I learned something today. But that's all you're getting.

What else?
  • 21A: TAROT [Holder of The Sun and The World] - I was thinking this was referring to newspapers. Are there any newspapers actually called The World? Now that I think about it, that seems like a fake newspaper name they would use in, like, cartoons.
  • 33A: DEN [TV spot, often] - I had a hard time talking myself out of "spot" meaning "advertisement," which really slowed me down here.
  • 35A: ARIETTA [Short piece at La Scala]
  • 55A: DEMI [Starting half?] - I entered the last three letters and then had to wait to see if the first letter was going to be an H, an S, or a D.
  • 67A: METS [N.L. East team] - Of course, I wanted this to be NATS. Sigh.
  • 8D: SEP [Mo. with Talk Like a Pirate Day] - My favorite line of the Talk Like a Pirate Day origination story is this: "They were playing racquetball, and, as so often happens, they began talking like pirates."
  • 46D: AHL [Sports org. with the Calder Cup] - Darn it! I knew it was a hockey award, but didn't realize it was for only one league.
  • 61D: JAM [Showy basket] - I had to ask Doug Peterson to explain this one to me. He sent me this:

I have two quick things to plug before I let you go.
  1. I contributed a guest puzzle for the American Values Club Crossword this week! If you're not a subscriber, you can subscribe here. Or you can buy single puzzles (including mine!) for the low, low price of $1. I hope you'll try it. And I hope you'll like it!

  2. It's not too late to register for the Indie 500 crossword tournament, which will be held June 4 in Washington, D.C. I attended last year as a competitor and had a blast. This year I'm on the organizing team and, if I do say so myself, it's shaping up to be even better than last year. Don't miss out! Register now!
Thanks, everybody. With any luck, Rex will be back tomorrow.

Love, PuzzleGirl

[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter]


jae 12:28 AM  

Tough Thurs.! The NE took a long time. I had ID TAG and AMAZING GRACE theme square and then just stared. I was iffy on spelling CRETACEOUS, also got fooled by the newspaper misdirect for TAROT, did not know RIPLEYS was a Sun. paper feature, and had a hard time coming up with TAME. After trying French and Spanish words for blue I finally remembered DEMORNAY was able to finish.

sEMI before DEMI.

I imagine the LEGER/ARIETTA/TFAL/DERR area will also cause some @PuzzleGirl problems.

Even though I caught the theme early this was still an extra crunchy Thurs., liked it.

Lee Coller 12:29 AM  

41 across, 23 down, definite Natick. My last slot filled, and I had to run the alphabet until I got the happy pencil.

gourmand 12:51 AM  

I struggled a bit to work out the theme (those "-" clues in the NE and SW really threw me for a loop), but when I had filled in all of AMAZINGGR I nerdily cried "Ace in the hole!" out loud. Everything slotted into place quite nicely after that revelation.

On that note, Ace in the Hole is a fantastic movie. Highly recommended.

George Barany 12:56 AM  

Lovely review, @PuzzleGirl, which pointed out any number of nuances that tracked my own experience solving (most of) @David Poole's puzzle, which (spoiler alert) has both similarities and differences to last week's (April 29) Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle by @C.C. Burnikel and @Don Gagliardo. Congratulations, too, on your (i.e., @Angela Halsted's) AVCX puzzle, that I enjoyed solving earlier this evening, and nice plug for the Indie tournament that will be IN_DC.

That gif of a basketball player throwing down a JAM is a member of the local Timberwolves team (Zach LaVine, I think). Very sneaky of you to show a picture of the reigning National League Cy Young winner, Jake ARIETTA of the Chicago Cubs (who lost to the METS in last year's playoffs). Personally, I would have clued OPERA more classically, perhaps even with respect to La Scala.

Seeing AVIV clued as "Tel ___" reminded me that just two days ago, TEL was clued as "___ Avivian." We continue to get chemistry into the New York Times puzzle with (ace)TATE and ANION, and it's always interesting to learn fun facts such as those used to clue ICELAND and JULES_VERNE.

In closing, I refer interested @Rex-ites to L'Chaim, which means TO_LIFE [first link is to a puzzle, second to a classic song from "Fiddler on the Roof."]

David W 12:58 AM  


Jaundiced 1:25 AM  

41 Across is not only a Natick, but also resurrects an insidious racial stereotype in the process. Who's next? Helen Bannerman?

There's a reason he's not a household name in 2016, duh.

paulsfo 2:23 AM  

thanks for the writeup. I just came to find out what a "Showy basket" was. :)

I got naticked on *both* ends of LEGER. I'd never heard of TFAL. I initially thought that this was a theme answer and that somehow I'd be able to fit Teflon into 22A.

puzzle hoarder 2:25 AM  

When prodigal son didn't fit I came up with BLACKSHEEP which allowed me to see BAHAMA over CAYMAN. Oddly the NW corner was not where I got the theme. 1D and 2D were easy and I got LEGER off the L and kept filling in the SW so ACEINTHEHOLE was where I got the theme.
It's a little unusual to have related clues share a letter ala GAS and STOVE. Overall a little difficult for Thursday. The last corner was the NE. This was partly due to reading "Risky Business" and picturing "The Color of Money". It's hard to explain but what I think over rules what I see sometimes. Also I thought that 21A clue was about papers at first.
I didn't get JAM until I saw the video in the review, doh!/

Unknown 3:04 AM  

It would be Risky Business to comment much about this as I missed the “ACE” thing completely so lots of problems. That said, I thought the puzzle was much better than my solving of it.

I think “Risky Business” is a GAS, not at all STALE even after these many years. This zany, racy comedy has a script good enough to have been nominated by the Writers Guild of America for: Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen. As such, I agree with Roger Ebert review from that time: “The very best thing about the movie is its dialogue.” Also, “The next best thing about the movie is the casting,” referring particularly to Ms. De Mornay.

If there’s a BLACK SHEEP in my family, I AVERS that I’m the ONES that’s it.

And that's it.


chefwen 3:10 AM  

This was a tough one for us. It took me forever to get the "trick" and the finished product was an ugly mess of Wite Out, write overs and muddy puppy prints. Can't turn my back for s second with that little guy around. Partner filled in blackHOLE at 52A and I said "you can't have BLACK SHEEP and black HOLE in the same puzzle". That didn't set well with him and the balance was pretty much up to me. He did give me RIPLEYS, BAHAMA and ALEHOUSE however, so I can't complain. (ace) IN THE HOLE finally came to light and made things a little easier. I still messed up with CRET (ace) OUS and like Puzzle Girl had ENE at 62D and never fixed it.

Fun puzzle that we had a great time struggling over, too bad that we ended up with errors. Oh well, tomorrow is almost here.

chefwen 3:15 AM  

P.S. Puzzle Girl, thanks for filling in and I hope you're back in fine form and kicking butt soon!

Charles Flaster 3:41 AM  

Medium except upper right so a big DNF.
Three very clever clues -- JAM, DEN , and BIBS.
BUT the answer for 9 across-- IN DC is extremely contrived although I eventually sussed it out. My downfall was LEGER and DEMORNAY.
Caught theme at VERSACE who was in my Tuesday evening trivia contest -- designed Michael Jackson's "Thriller" outfit.
Thanks DP.

Dean 4:19 AM  

LEGER / DERR is definitely a Natick. I caught on to the gimmick almost immediately, but found some of the crosses a slog. AN ION, IN DC, A SET, I IN all felt clumsy.

Condolences to PuzzleGirl. Not to feed the rage, but my "for a week" foot surgery was in January... and I just now re-entered Two Shoe Land. Hope your recovery is faster.

Loren Muse Smith 4:31 AM  

Hey, Puzzle Girl – sorry to hear about your foot troubles. Yuck. Thanks for, well, for stepping in anyway this morning.

I try not to use the word "Natick" because so many throw it around to mean various things – namely just a tough cross – even though the official explanation involves some (obscure) *proper* noun. Hey, PG – I left that square blank. Two obscure proper nouns. Ouch. And I never considered "Iceland," but good point on that cross, too. What a cool fact about IRELAND.

And I hooted when I finally got I IN. Hi, @M&A. Hey – it has BEQ immunity. So I'm good with it.

What a terrific aha moment I had. The reveal itself provided it, and I was delighted with the trick. Even then, it wasn't that easy to get'em all – symmetry helped a lot. Had to erase "elo" for JLO to get ADJACENT, my favorite of the themers. But CRETACEOUS/ AMAZING GRACE cross was good, too.

Before the aha moment, AMAZING GRACE was giving me fits, mainly because I glanced at the clue and just saw "spiritual name." Hmm. Amazing Oz? Amenhotep?

When I was a senior in high school, the class officers adopted a new policy: the four officers brought on a fifth officer, an ACE IN THE HOLE. To this day whenever reunion time rolls around, the inaugural ACE, Jim M, still works tirelessly to plan the party.

This delivered exactly what I want from a tricky Thursday – a deliciously satisfying aha moment. Thumbs up.

Alby 5:35 AM  

Bitch of a Thursday. Took me about thrice as long as average. Not so much because of the theme, which was rote enough after I figured it out, but because of some obscure answers that were obscurely clued: IDTAG, RIPLEYS, ICELAND, BLOOD instead of BrOOD, LEGER crossed with DERR, and the just-plain-bad INDC. Feel like it could have used some fine-tuning by Will.

Unknown 6:21 AM  

Liked the theme idea, but I was not on my game today.

I solved the revealer and in a moment of brilliance wrote in ACE IN HOLE. Later, while having trouble in the SW corner, I was muttering to myself about how the revealer's ACE should have been in the hole, too. "As is, it reads ACE ACE IN HOLE," I grouched, "What poor design."

Yes, dear reader, the correct answer stared me right in the face for several minutes before I finally spotted the missing THE in ACE IN (THE) HOLE. I consider it comeuppance for my ignorant complaining.

As such, I'm not going to whisper any complaints about this puzzle. I loved the VERSACE/LIBERACE cross, and BLACK SHEEP and JULES VERNE were nice long answers. As the son of a Lutheran pastor, I know "A Mighty Fortress IS OUR God" by heart. I enjoyed the interesting trivia in the clues, from telephone directories in ICELAND to J-LO's '01 album to the Beaufort scale's NEAR GALE (and I liked how that answer was near BREEZIER).

Good night, everybody!

Unknown 6:28 AM  

Re: newspapers. There is, of course, Le Monde. . . .

George Barany 6:32 AM  

Fortunately, we didn't have the same kind of glitches today that were encountered yesterday, so my comment about @David Poole's puzzle, and about @PuzzleGirl's review, has already passed the first round of moderation. The present post continues the plugs started in the main review.

3. It is assumed that anyone reading this far already knows what's driving today's New York Times puzzle. Next, find the Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle called Aces (April 29, 2016). I have hyperlinked to a printable pdf of the puzzle, but this link gets you to a general page from which you can also download a puz file.

4. After completing the AVCX guest puzzle mentioned in 1, you may want to try this puzzle, the title of which is related to one of the features of the AVCX puzzle. The new puzzle also contains an Easter egg shoutout to a third puzzle with the same theme that I haven't personally seen, but that can be obtained by e-mail subscription as explained at this site.

5. Regardless of whether or not you plan to go to the Indie tournament mentioned in 2, you may want to consider joining us for the Minnesota Crossword Tournament on June 12, 2016 (link provides more information), and click here to register directly.

Thanks for your patience in going through this, and happy puzzling!

George Barany 6:47 AM  

This will be my third comment, and that should do it. Thanks @gourmand for reminding us of the fabulous "Ace in the Hole" movie. My friend @Brent Hartzell e-mailed last night about this George Strait song, which interestingly enough, also contains lyrics about rain (tie-in to the Wednesday theme).

@Loren Muse Smith, your comments usually leave me in stitches, and today is no exception. But just to be clear, the country with the cool fact is ICELAND, not IRELAND. That crosses a rather difficult geographical clue for ACRE, that could have been clued in a much more straightforward manner.

@Jaundiced makes a good point. Challenge to this group, what relatively easy fixes in that TFEL/LEGER/DERR section of the puzzle can remove the much-discussed Naticks?

da kine 7:01 AM  

LEGER/ARIETTA/TFAL/DERR is only so much Natick. I had ARI_TTA and TFAL and I still DNFed on that mofracky. Very tough for a Thursday.

Lewis 7:52 AM  

I like how the ACEs are such that two begin answers, two end answers, and two are in the middle of answers. Very nice clues for BIBS and GASSTOVE, and very nice answers ACERBITY, BLACKSHEEP, and DROPLET. The aha was sweet, the struggle mighty for a while, but after the satisfaction of the solve I felt PE*FUL and COP*TIC.

Tim Pierce 8:10 AM  

DNF on the triple Natick at TFAL/LEGER/DERR. Also had ARIATTA rather than ARIETTA, but at that point what difference does it make? Also stumped at the JAM/METS cross -- that could have been JETS, NETS, or METS, and none of the crossings made sense to me.

In addition to being a terrific Billy Wilder movie, "Ace in the Hole" is an outstanding Paul Simon song.

Tim Pierce 8:19 AM  

The crazy thing about that TFAL/LEGER/DERR Natick, for me, is that you could fix it with one letter: change 23D/31A to LEPER/PAS. You lose the cutesy cross-reference clue for 31A/32D, and PAS is not great fill, but it's otherwise such a better tradeoff I don't see how you don't do it.

I hate the way Rex is always second-guessing the puzzle editors, but this is just bizarre.

Generic Solver 8:27 AM  

Earl DERR Biggers is crosswordese for me, although it's been a little while since it's been used in the NYT (about two years). If you look at http://www.xwordinfo.com/Finder?word=DERR, it has been used 6 times before in the Shortz era (last on 3/9/14), and 28 times before that, so it's not a totally rare bird as an answer.

kitshef 8:35 AM  

Wonderful theme, nicely executed. But on the other hand, INDC and IIN are very bad.

TFAL was in the brain somewhere and was able to pull it out, but DER-/LEGE- was a genuine Natick. Went with E at the cross for the first DNF in almost a month. Sadly, R was my first thought, then toyed with Y before guessing E.

Chaos344 8:40 AM  

@ Jaundiced : PUH-LEEZE, grow up! Take your pathetic PC complaints up with Will Shortz. Maybe next time, he'll put a "trigger warning" in a note box just for you? I suppose you'd like to banish Mark Twain's body of work from crosswords as well? Go back to your safe space!

jberg 8:51 AM  

Beautiful construction, as @Lewis points out. The HOLEs the ACEs are in would all be cheater squares, the only ones in the puzzle, if they weren't theme squares. Very nice.

I needed the revealer to get the theme, then it was easy. What do I know about Italian designers? I'm ready to believe VERS -- although that was the one that helped me understand the revealer.

A friend did her PhD research in Cairo, and tells me that those phone books, as well, are alphabetized by first names (or were in the 1970s). There were about 100 pages of ALIs. In both cases, I think they are countries without a well established system of surnames; Icelanders all seem to have patronymics, and a lot of Egyptians are ibn something or other, so I guess the first names work better.

I'm surprised JULES VERNE is so widely translated; my sense of relative obscurity is poor, and I'd have thought LEGER would be about the same. But I'm really surprised some don't know RIPLEY's Believe It or Not!. I bet it's still in some Sunday comics, right next to Prince Valiant.

I enjoyed this one a lot, but ended up with an error: I never thought of DEMI instead of sEMI, so I was looking at BLOOS and decided it must be BLOgs (sort of 'relations'), and then forgot to come back and sort that little bit. Gah!

@PG, best wishes for a quick recovery; thanks for doing the writeup today.

chefbea 9:18 AM  

too tough for me. Loved all the cook ware and gas stove!!

Z 9:18 AM  

This puzzle is oh-so-close to being great that its flaws almost hurt more.

I spent the most time in the NE mostly because I had Patricia Arquette on the brain and was thinking Beaufort was on the rocks. I worked that out. I spent less time but DNF'ed you know where. I spent too few nanoseconds wondering about the obscure clue for DERn. D'Oh. That natick is the majorest flaw, but having (ACE)RBITY at 1D hurts, too. I love, love, LOVE all the other ACEs. VERS(ACE)/LIBER(ACE) makes me want to wear some glitter. But having a word that would make me grab my ROGET's if I ever found it in something I was writing ("Geez, Z, do you want people to wonder about that word or understand what you are saying?) is not good, especially to kick off the puzzle.

Pop Culture, Product Names, and Proper Nouns Analysis
is CRET(ACE)OUS a Proper Noun? Beaufort in the clue make a difference?

25/76, right at 33%, counting CRET(ACE)OUS but not "Beaufort Scale." The PPP is right at my somewhat arbitrary line for troublesomeness. However, dePPP the ARRIETTA area and I think this puzzle would get nothing but praise.

Dorothy Biggs 9:19 AM  

I can only guess, but I think Rex might have commented on the IIN/TFAL carnage up in the NW. I'm no constructor, but my guess is that the theme caused that awful little clusterf*ck begetting YESES and the beginning of the LEGER/DERR natick.

Groans a plenty in this one. INDC? Do constructors even use words any more? Do they just find random letters and then shoehorn them into clues that fit? INDC and IIN is bad enough, but along with that you have other (more common, to be sure) random letters put together that aren't actual words: TNN, CEO, JLO, ESE, AHL, STA. This doesn't even include the partials: ISOUR and ASET.

Words. You know crossWORDS.

Like so many of these puzzles, it isn't just the one thing that is the problem, it is the collection of a bunch of things that is the problem. And, if I were a constructor, I would endeavor to build trust with my solvers by including words in a puzzle rather than having them wonder what the hell an IIN is or what an INDC is. Those are not words..those are letters put in a row.

I got the ACE theme early, but there were so many other places that were wonky, the theme was the least of my worries...like the aforementioned NW and the NE (NEARGALE and DEMORNAY) and ANO crossing BLAU. Yeah, no.

Ugh. The shoehorn is big in this one.

chefbea 9:19 AM  

Also..hope you are on the mend Puzzle girl!!!

Nancy 9:20 AM  

The frustration I felt trying to solve this was ginormous -- making the "aha" moment really huge. A wonderful and very difficult challenge that I wish I had found more enjoyable while struggling with it. But I didn't see the ACE in the hole until I got to AMAZING--. Then, finally, I saw it. Meanwhile, TATE and RB---Y were giving me fits. (I hadn't gotten to LIBER and VERS yet.) My frustration was compounded by my not knowing the names JLO, DERR and TFAL. But it was all worth it when I finally saw the gimmick, nicely hidden by the revealer answer IN THE HOLE. It doesn't give away the game in advance -- at least it didn't to me -- but it cinches it once you figure out the trick. A really good Thursday rebus.

Amie Devero 9:35 AM  

I print out the puzzle rather than doing it online. In the printed version of the puzzle it's impossible to tell that the holes are not just blackened squares of the grid. They are completely black when printed. The NYTimes ought to put a note on the printed version expressing that those squares are in fact part of the puzzle. It makes the grid confusing and completely stymied me as to how to solve. If it weren't for this blog I would still be waiting and hoping to be struck with inspiration. Thanks for the help.

Amie Devero 9:40 AM  

disregard my comment. Just checked online version. Now I'm feeling even stupider than before.... no idea how you made that leap to solve. I would not have thought to use blacked squares as "holes" without the tip.

Nancy 9:42 AM  

@Puzzle Girl -- So sorry about your slow foot surgery recovery. My father had an expression about doctors: he liked to say "It doesn't hurt them a bit." Your experience reminds me of one of mine. About 30 years ago, I needed surgery for a quite common, but unpleasant problem. Prior to the operation, I asked the surgeon how soon after I would be able to play tennis. "About three weeks," he said. I saw my surgeon exactly three weeks after the operation. He was tanned and ruddy from a sailing vacation. I felt like hell warmed over. I barely was able to climb on and off the table at that point, nor tie my shoelaces. "It seems one of us has had a terrific three weeks," I said. He smiled a well-rested, happy, suntanned smile.

I continued. "When you told me three weeks, were you saying that I would be allowed to play tennis, but neglecting to say I wouldn't want to?" "That's about it," he replied.

"Well, Doctor, when will I want to?"

"Another three weeks," he said.

At exactly 5 weeks and 6 days, I went back on the tennis courts. I was OK, but didn't feel all that great. At exactly 6 weeks and 1 day, I tried again. I felt 100% fine.

Mr. Benson 9:56 AM  

I can only assume there is a guest blogger today because IIN, INDC and the LEGER/DERR crossing sent Rex into a catatonic state.

Sir Hillary 9:58 AM  

Nice job placing the aces, and good theme entries, but I really disliked this puzzle overall. The cluing of ACRE is ridiculous, given that there are two I_ELAND countries. TFAL / LEGER / DERR...'nuff said. Finally, IIN, ASET and INOUR are three of the worst partials I have ever seen, and to see them all in the same grid? Well, no.

EyeDoc 10:01 AM  

Trouble with Leger, really? Turn off the tv & go to a museum sometime.

Hartley70 10:13 AM  

Tough and Terrific Thursday. It took me a long while to see the gimmick and even then it wasn't a cinch to implement it.

JULESVERNE was a total surprise. I was going mass market as in James Patterson who seems to publish 6 or 7 best sellers a year. How does Jules compete? I suppose it's like compound interest. "Time" is on his side.

Of course DERR and LEGER were my Natick, but N or R seemed most likely. I got lucky.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  


Mohair Sam 10:27 AM  

Personally I can see no reason why Leslie cAROn should not own two newspapers, so I am denying our double natick today. Thought Spike TV might have changed its name because the initials conflicted with the more famous CNN, and we don't know our dino ages - hence the fail. We did guess right on on the DERR/LEGER cross however, so we take comfort in that.

Read this in a book just recently (was it "Cod"?): ICELANDers traditionally take their father's first name (say Jon) and add "son" or "dottir" to it for their last name. This would lead to a hell of a lot of Jonsons and Jondottirs in your phone book, first names just make more sense. This naming tradition is changing with the times as more and more are taking (or being given) the mother's first name - but the phone book thing will surely remain the same.

Pleasantly surprised by the JULES VERNE answer, always learn something nifty in the Times puzzle. JLO knocked the Beatles off their last stand? The times were indeed achangin'. With the ACE hidden in the hole we had a hard time seeing ACERBITY even when it was totally spelled out. Discovered TFAL today, good thing my puzzle partner knew it.

Liked this Thursday a lot, nice one David Poole.

Hey @Puzzle Girl - A couple of stress fractures give me just a taste of what you must be going through. Sympathies. Hang in. The cure for most ills is gin.

kitshef 10:29 AM  

Last round of comments made me realize I had a second DNF zone, DEMORNeY/BLeU.

@Tim Pierce's change would go a long way towards fixing the Natick. DERR and TFAL might still be WoEs for a lot of us, but LEPER, appropriately clued, would make them sussable from crosses.

QuasiMojo 10:30 AM  

"INDC" was indecent.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

Knew Leger but derr was a nattick. Have no idea what near gale is. Didn't like in dc. Had wa dc. Kinda figured something was up at Grace and versace but needed the revealer to realize it was in the hole. Had an aha moment when getting adjacent.overall enjoyed this puzzle.

RooMonster 10:34 AM  

Hey All !
Nice one. Am constructing a similar Sunday size puz. Seems every time I come up with an idea, someone beats me to it. Then Will rejects it as, We just had this theme. (Do I hear violins?:-P )

Anyway, cool puz. That SW whole area was a bear! Agree with the R Natick. And who knew JLO would've been that popular?

Figured out the gimmick at LIBER(ACE)/VERS(ACE). Actually knew something was funky at the 12D dinosaur clue. Did knoe (Rebecca) DEMORNAY, as she was one of my famous Babes (Schwing!) when I was a young un. GAS STOVE held me up some, as the ole brain couldn't get off flying.

Did online today, once completed, the ACEs show up written in white in the black squares. Neat!


Masked and Anonymous 10:41 AM  

@PuzGirl: All the best to U for a speedy foot recovery. Very nice write-up and bullets.

Gritty little ThursPuz. Today them corner cheater squares got put to primo use.

Biggest problem in the NW was ROSIE, as had no earthly idea who those other people in the clue were. TFAL and LEGER and ASANAS went write on iin. (yo, @muse.)

Biggest problem in NE was spellin DEMORNAY and CRETACEOUS. INDC was a near-gale-gimme. Think I've seen it several times before, in other puzs, so that helped.

SW and SE were pretty easy, having been spotted a couple ACEs down there.

Didn't recall DERR, but sounds vaguely familiar. Certainly a fair entry, since it's the dude's name. Always tense when two names cross, tho -- like LEGER and DERR did, there. If U don't know either of em, U have to go fish.

Thanx, Mr. Poole and Ms. PuzGirl. U are both ACEs with M&A.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Dave C 10:44 AM  

Jake Arrieta (not ARIETTA) would be a terrific Friday-Saturday answer, if only b/c many don't know the correct spelling of his name. Reminds me of a Saturday Joon Pahk puzzle from some years back, he had the full name DWYANEWADE - I floundered around that corner for a long time, thinking his first name was spelled DWAYNE.

Go Cubs!!

Glimmerglass 11:00 AM  

This one trashed me! Didn't know DEMORNEY or the German word for blue. I had BrOOD for BLOOD, and so never saw RIPLEYS (and I'm old enough to remember the feature). The NE was a disaster. Ouch!

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

In reference to Sylvester's lisp wednesday, just realized so many toons have speech problems such as lateral lips and stuttering. Not pc.

Z 11:05 AM  

@Amie Devero - Part of making the leap is having done enough puzzles to have seen tricks like this before. Also, of all the days of the week for Shortz to publish a trick like this Thursday and Sunday are the most likely by far.

@Chaos344 - There is a reason Charlie Chan and Earl DERR Biggers are relatively obscure while Perry Mason and Erle Stanley Gardner, for example, are not. Biggers bothers me no more than Ché or Mao, but I get why others would react negatively.
As for Arietta - you buying his outrage at the steroids speculation? Looking at his career stats certainly makes one wonder. His age 29 year was very close to the future Mr. Kate Upton's age 29 year. Nothing before Age 29 suggests he was the next JV. Looks like a duck. Quacks like a duck. I'm thinking its an HGH filled duck.

RAD2626 11:05 AM  

I seem to remember Ripley's Believe it or Not being a daily feature with Sunday being a larger thematic entry, much like the comics or xwords for that matter.

Liked the puzzle quite a bit. Normal Thursday time probably because I got IN THE HOLE early which allowed me to hunt for the ACEs. I knew LEGER so did not stumble there. For some reason I did not like the two - clues which, while necessary, seemed inelegant.

Fred Romagnolo 11:22 AM  

Due to the fact that I got a decent education at San Francisco State College (now University), I didn't consider LEGER - DERR a natick, but I almost DNF'd at at I IN and TFAL, and JAM; I finally got them on sheer guesswork, hoping that I was right. I've got to agree with @Chaos 344 at 8:40 AM; people who are so PC that they resent the inclusion of something they disapprove of in a crossword should really lighten up; they are the contemporary version of the Puritans in the worse sense of that word. I do agree that too many modern puzzle creators are relying on combinations of letters rather than words; there's a reason they're called crossWORD puzzles. IN D C is just rotten, and I IN is pretty bad. The movie Ace in the Hole has another name, I think it's The Big Carnival, and it's a really good, but harrowing film.

old timer 11:43 AM  

IIN seems OK to me. But INDC would arouse some Rexian ire.

I had a full Natick at the LEGER TFAL cross. I occasionally visit a cookware store, and don't think I've ever seen T-Fal. And M. LEGER is as obscure as they get. I did dredge up DERR from my memory, and smiled at RIPLEY. A childhood favorite, Ripley's "Believe it or Not". For many years there was a Ripley museum in that house built from a single tree, in Santa Rosa.

I didn't get the trick until I had IN --- HOLE. HOLE has been used before to refer to a black square, so I had [ACE] INTHE HOLE, which gave me VERS[ACE]. I was delightfully surprised to find that the Ace was in the middle of a word or phrase running down the sides.

I think WS goofed in allowing AMAZING GR[ACE] to be defined as a spiritual. It sort of sounds like a spiritual because everyone likes to make up spiritual-like harmonies when singing it in a group. But I think of spirituals as going back to slavery days, and therefore reserved to African-Americans. The hymn was written by John Newton, who had been a slaver, and repented, and became an important figure in the anti-slavery movement in Britain. In fact, the hymn was written to tell the world about his conversion experience. But Newton was a white man, and became a minister in the Church of England for the rest of his life.

Unknown 11:48 AM  

@George Barany: Most certainly this is not a “relatively easy” fix as you requested, but it was sure fun to figure out:

1d TO LIVE (____and Die in L.A.)
22a TV AD (Often seen in 33a) [a sort of misdirection based on the 33a misdirection]
23d DEGEN (German épée) [maybe too tough, but I think getable with my crosses. Possibly a NYT first use?]
41a BERN (German-speaking European capitol)
35d ABE (Burrows of Broadway fame)[Pulitzer prize winner for "How to Succeed..."]
45a ELO (“Shine a Little Love” band) [maybe with a helpful 1979?)
33a DEN (Television spot) [to get rid of “TV” in clue re 22a but retaining the misdirection]


AliasZ 11:52 AM  

I think the theme would have been more elegant if the ACE in VERSACE and LIBERACE were not pronounced identically, but that little nit apart, I enjoyed this one. It's always good to have an ACE IN THE HOLE, unless one doesn't know his ace from a hole in the ground.

It was fun learning about cubist painter Ferdinand LÉGER (1881-1955). His works belong in the Léger domain. Here is "La femme en bleu" (Ger. Frau in BLAU).

Andrew Heinegg 12:03 PM  

Wonderful write-up by Puzzle Girl; recovery times from surgeries are always frustrating for both sides IMHO. The doc doesn't want the patient to get too pessimistic about the recovery process plus everyone recovers at a different pace. When famous athletes are injured, hotshot doctors predict when they will be back in action. But, they are frequently wrong in either direction by a lot. And, those athletes doctors know they are working with bodies in magnificent condition and which bodies will be treated post op in the best (and most expensive) fashion. Thus, when us ordinary folks are wanting to know a recovery time, the doctor may be a better healer than a prognosticator. And, in this age, you can always Google it to see what world renowned experts think. Mr. Benson is correct that several answers to this puzzle would have made OFL apoplectic.

Unknown 12:12 PM  

OOPs!! Completely ignored that "ACE" for the 33d theme. So, close but, alas, no cigar.

Still had fun trying. :>)

Anoa Bob 12:50 PM  

Ignorance or by design for 29 Across "Julio is in the middle of it"?

Here's Merriam-Webster Spanish Central's definition of ANO. Check out the "Sometimes Confused with" note.

Maybe Julio is the ACE IN THE HOLE.

Martel Moopsbane 12:57 PM  

@Z - if Mr. Arrieta were a duck, HGH would most likely not affect him.

Larry 12:59 PM  

After griping all week, I wanted to like this puzzle. But it's a game not worth the candle. I went mano a mano with a vintage Will Weng last night (probably from the 1960s, judging by some of the references), which I liked much better.

AZPETE 12:59 PM  

How can Julio be in the middle of the ano? Last time I checked there were 12 months!

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

A salient features of holes is that a hole is a hole, regardless of its size. So, I'm supposed to buy that there's an ace in the hole only when the hole is small, and you've got a dozen other holes in the puzzle?

Chaos344 1:19 PM  

@Z: It’s not the relative obscurity of the clue that I have an issue with. My umbrage arose from the fact that @Jaundiced had to go full bore SJW about it. We all know that the DERR/LEGER cross had a very high Natick potential. Many people mentioned it, but no one else felt the necessity to whine about the Charlie Chan stereotype issue. This isn’t the correct forum for that. @Fred Romagnolo is obviously in agreement. Quite coincidently and just this morning, I read a very interesting article about the current state of affairs on college campuses. The article also contained a link to a YouTube video that would have been hilarious, had it not depicted exactly how bad things have gotten with today’s youth vis-à-vis political correctness.

Re: the Arietta comment and given the penchant for Millennials to combine the names of celebrity couples, do you think the upcoming nuptials will produce Verupton or Uplander?

@AliasZ: I understand your issue with the different pronunciation of the ACE in VERSACE and LIBERACE, but I can’t see any possible work-around for that. Got me to thinking though:

What do you call a man who hates women that wear designer clothing?
Answer: A VERSACENIST. Groan!

Hungry Mother 1:22 PM  

I felt good about getting the theme, but bad about missing 4 letters (all noted above). Too much TV for me, I guess.

Chip Hilton 1:23 PM  

Feel better, PG! @EyeDoc - There's a nicer, less pompous, way of making your point.

I enjoyed this one despite a few careless mistakes. IrELAND, TORe, ACETonE. The last two easily correctable if I took the time to check the crosses. You'd think I would've learned by now. I caught the theme early with VERSACE but needed a bit of time to realize it applied vertically as well. Very cool, Mr. Poole.

Teedmn 1:25 PM  

24 minutes and two errors and it wasn't that tough. But unlike @Puzzle Girl, I didn't wait to see if 55A needed a S, D, or H, I jumped right in with sEMI and my relations were BLOOs which is kind of fun crossing BLAU but incorrect.

And not liking how ARIETTA looked, I switched it to ARIaTTA since LEGaR or LEGER were equal in my eyes. And I cheated by Googling Beaufort scale. I was pretty sure it was related to wind but was afraid to put GALE in. Once I confirmed that GALE was correct, the NE fell easily. Strange how doubt can fog the brain. (Plus I wanted "leash" at 9D and "herd" at 15A which were conflicting and not agreeing with AMAZINGG either.)

So a fun challenge, loved I IN and unlike @Alias Z, I liked that VERS and LIBER's ACE endings were similarly pronounced.

mac 1:28 PM  

So sorry, @PuzzleGirl! Feet are tough, hope you are on them again soon.

Tough puzzle. Even though I got the "ace" trick pretty quickly, there were still plenty areas that were
hard for me. Hardest was the far NW: near gale, Demornay and tarot. Jules Verne was a surprise. Derr came through crosses but Leger was a gimme.

Quite a workout!

David 1:36 PM  

TFAL/LEGER/DERR was awful, three different proper nouns with, at best, varying degrees of recognition. I'm seeing tweets that point out LEPER/PAS would have fixed nearly everything there---TFAL would still be very strange to those like me who haven't heard of it, but at least the crosses would be reliable.

But honestly, ESE/ISOUR and ACRE/ICELAND probably bug me more. The triple Natick is obviously bad, and is just a matter of the constructor not realizing they could improve it. Fine. but the other two I've mentioned could have been totally gettable, but seem to have been crossed and clued specifically to make them trap squares that can only be solved with trivia. You can certainly have ICELAND cross ACRE, and if you do, you can certainly clue Iceland with that quirky fact. But if you do all of that, cluing ACRE for the crossing C with a random Israeli port rather than the simple noun is just an awful, awful decision. Isolating the one letter that could be ambiguous and deciding to clue the cross away from the correct letter comes off as just mean-spirited. If you are deciding between Iceland and Ireland for that answer, I would say that ARRE is much more likely, specifically because it seems crazy to create a doubly geographic square of ambiguity. Why would you clue it that any unless you want people to not be able to cross ICELAND reliably?

Same thing for ISOUR/ESE. The middle directional square is inherently a bit unpredictable, so crossing it with a phrase that, if you don't actually know it, makes perfect sense with either letter? Why would you do that unless you are actively trying to be a jerk about the crosses and get some glee out of not giving people a way to decide the square? Neither of these problems even requires changes to the grid, just a bit of decency in the cluing. "Peace ___ time" for a clue that clearly leads to clean crosses, and frankly seems like a tighter clue all around.

Pretty solid theme, but just lots of bad decisions made along the way that I don't understand at all---maybe I'm wrong about malice, but then just why.

Tita 1:45 PM  

Get well soon, @Puzzle Girl!

Had waDC for a few moments, thinking how awful that was. INDC better, but not by much.

Yes, I shoulda remembered LEGER, and I sorta did, putting in LEGEe...(Legée a homonym for LEGER?)

This is just my cuppa Thursday tea. Loved the struggle and the aha.
I especially like clever twists that make you work for each and every answer, which this one did. (I was tired or distracted or both while solving...)
Unlike the fun -GATE puzzle, they weren't gimmes once you got the gimmick. Especially not if you didn't notice that they were symmetrical...doh...

Thanks Mr. Poole!

djogba 1:48 PM  

Chuck. Just stop at 41a. Nothing wrong with DERN (Laura or Bruce).

Chaos344 1:59 PM  

Sorry that the Hyperlink to the article I referred to it my last post didn’t survive the “cut and paste.” Here is the addy: http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/Sa for anyone interested. The article is entitled: Safe from "safe spaces"

Z 2:13 PM  

@Chaos344 - re Uplander: Didja notice who the Tigers have in left field?
As for the other, Puritans on the right bug me more than Puritans on the left, but they all bug me. However, I see nothing wrong with wanting social justice. The danger, of course, is when Puritans of any stripe deny social justice for others in their quest. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" and all that. As for @jaundiced, I took the nom de blog to be a suggestion of ethnicity as well as reaction. Maybe not, but people here are a clever lot capable of choosing many-layered words. Or maybe the nom de blog was meant to suggest s/he meant the exact opposite, counter argument through hyperbole, and they're busy laughing at both of us for missing their point.

@Martel Moopsbane - I forgot, he's a Cub.

Z 2:15 PM  


andrew 3:11 PM  

help! streak at stake! how do you fill in ACE in the black holes that won't allow any keystrokes? Didn't see any answers here - tried rebus near the four squares but that didn't take! (using the NYT Xword app for iPad)...thanks! :)

Unknown 3:30 PM  

@djogba 1:48 PM Wow. Thank you!!

I don't feel so embarrassed as that makes my "fix" work. I thought I'd looked up DERN as a possibility. Guess not. Laura is a best Actress Academy Award winner. Both her and her father, Bruce, have an impressive filmography and television credit list with many awards and nominations and they're still working, so I think either is OK for a Thursday.

Cheers from a now happy camper.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

52-Across needs to be reworded: the 'hidden advantage' was not used four times; it was used eight times...

Chaos344 4:13 PM  

@Z: Re: Uplander. LMAO! Assuming Mr. Verlander is going to invite the whole team to his wedding, we have the makings of a real WTF? wedding picture in the bride's hometown newspaper. Imagine the caption below the color picture:

"Pictured above are the groom, Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander with his teammate Justin Upton, and the bride formerly known as Kate Upton."

Re Jaundiced: Great minds think alike. I pondered the nom de blog angle too. Could be a simple coin-flip issue, but if I had to choose, I'd go with the hyperbole theory. Wonder how he feels about the cook on Bonanza?

QuasiMojo 4:31 PM  

I'm sure it's too late now to matter but @AliasZ (love your music choices), Versace is pronounced differently from Liberace. Versace is Ver-sah-chay while the pianist is Lib-er-a-chee. As in cheese. :)

Bella 4:44 PM  

Stacking IIN on top of TFAL really threw me for a loop, in that I actually filled everything out correctly but had a semi-existential crisis as a result until I finished the SW corner and got the completed puzzle noise.

That said, I did know who Fernand LEGER was thanks to my 12th grade French class, where we spent a full month and a half on French art history. Can't say as I'm a huge fan of his brand of Cubism, though.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 4:50 PM  

How is Iceland IN Europe? It's way out in the middle of the Atlantic.

old timer 5:58 PM  

Had to come back to comment on @David's complaint. Constructors do expect you to have a general knowledge of where important places are in the USA, and if you carry a map in your head as I have done since I was maybe 10, ESE goes right in. Fair to say not everyone knows Luther's "A mighty fortress ISOUR God" but many millions know that hymn, all over the world. I not only know it, I can sing one or two verses without a hymnal, because I went to a boys' boarding school with daily Chapel, and the instructors loved to give us the kind of song with a great tune that we could sing LOUD!

I saw nothing unfair about ICELAND, whether or not crossed by ACRE. The latter is one of the oldest cities on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Goes back ancient times, was a major port for the Crusaders, and (I now learn) is a religious center for the Baha'i faith.

The ICELAND bit is a perfect example of How You Can Learn from Crosswords. Iceland has strict naming rules. With a few exceptions, every child must be given an acceptable first name, followed by his father's name with "sen" or "son" added to it. Though children of feminists and the (fairly rare) illegitimate child can be named with their mother's name, followed by "dottir". I bet Iceland has a lot more feminists than unwed mothers, but I could be wrong there.

We Americans mainly know about Leif Ericson, whose father was Eric (or Erik) the Red.

But here's the thing: Because there are less than 100 common names for men, and certainly less than 50 *really* common mens' names, it would make no sense at all to publish a phone book that had tens of thousands of, for instance, Halvorsons or Ericsons. So uniquely the Icelandic phone book is sorted by first name.

One of my nephews served in the Navy as a Shore Patrol officer in Iceland, and made some friends who, like he, liked to play Viking. The friend spent a couple of nights with us and demonstrated on the computer that he, and most of his countrymen, had online access to their genealogy going back to when Iceland was first settled. Good records and a dearth of immigrants made that possible, and I doubt anyone there needs to join ancestry.com to learn who their forebears were.

Unknown 6:12 PM  

You are my spirit animal. I had the exact same issues.

Carola 7:02 PM  

On a plane. Door about to close. Just had to say I loved this one.

crackblind 9:24 PM  

Puzzle Girl, you have my sympathy. I had foot surgery six weeks ago. I'm a teacher & my doctor first told me I'd need six weeks out of work but because I'm in a pseudo administrative desk job, three weeks would be ok. The only other onus for me is that being in NYC has good public transit. Oh, and be careful answering the phone with a head full of Vicodin. I'm still shocked by some of the calls I took.

David 12:36 AM  

To old timer, I understand and appreciate what you're saying. But my complaint was less about any particular answer being unfair, and more about how the crossing and cluing for each one seemed designed to create problems. It's always fair that a particular solver won't know each bit of information or trivia in the puzzle and will need to piece together from crosses---that's the fun of it all! What I took issue with here is that the crosses seem like they were capitalized on prevent that process, rather than playing into each other in the normal constructive/synergistic way.

If someone already has a strong enough visual map of the US to know that Colorado is entirely North of Louisiana, they would get that cross and we don't need to worry about them, as they're already set. But for someone who isn't entirely sure, they can normally hope that the cross helps complete the directional clue. Figuring out the surrounding squares lets them fill this in and aim for a perfect solution. In the example of ESE/ISOUR, I feel there's a genuine problem because both answers potentially have such a square that requires a cross, and they are the same square. So if you don't already have the information to comfortably fill one in, it's impossible for either answer to actually complete the other. Again, it's not that either answer is bad, and on their own I'd be fine with them both. But in the specific situation where they cross at that particular square, you are undercutting the ability of at least some people to ever piece it together---as the interplay of crossings is such a fundamental part of solving, this is a problem to me. Especially here, where the entire situation could be avoided by just using another standard ESE clue, such as cluing the linguistic suffix. It's not a better clue overall, necessarily, but it avoids creating an utter impasse.

I actually started out with ICELAND, for exactly the reasons you laid out---I didn't know the details, but it felt reasonable in light of -son and -dottir suffixes I'm familiar with. It was only when I filled in the surrounding area and saw that ACRE would cross it that I considered changing things to IrELAND. Clearly, I should not have second-guessed my original thinking, but I couldn't get over the instinct that the geographic cluing wouldn't be used for this answer in this crossing, given the uncertainty of that shared C. I'm sure ACRE is familiar to many, and my hat is off to those more geographically fluent than myself. But I don't think the historical pedigree you've outlined makes it so commonly known that solvers are expected to use ACRE to fill in other uncertain crosses---on the contrary, I assume that ACRE, clued geographically, is usually completed from its crosses rather than vice versa. And that's fine, I'm always happy to learn from the puzzle. But if I am correct that ACRE would be pieced together by many from the crosses, it seems only fair that its crosses be unquestionable. Crossing one of the letters of ACRE with a square that, itself, could reasonably have either of two letters, seems blind to the puzzle's own construction. A perfectly interesting new fact about ICELAND and a perfectly interesting new city to learn about in ACRE, nothing wrong with either. But I do take issue with having them cross like this while clued like this, as it seems to disqualify those who don't know something, rather than letting them try to get there.

Anyway, that's my take. Personally, I think it's more about unwritten rules of puzzle construction, rather than what level of personal knowledge should be expected. We uneducated philistines are supposed to have bootstraps with which to pull ourselves up, after all! But I realize that mileage varies on the balance between these things---thanks for the thoughtful response.

Unknown 1:01 AM  

I got the theme "formula" through VERSACE and LIBERACE. NE slippery for me.

Jaundiced 1:08 AM  

@Generic Solver, point taken that DERR is simply crosswordese, and thanks for the link.

The link actually of illustrates what I was driving at -- that there's no need to dredge up the name "Charlie Chan," with its many unfortunate connotations, at all. In 2014, BEQ simply clued DERR as "Detective writer Earl ____ Biggers." From 1960-2009 there were two dozen appearances of DERR, and not one of them actually said "Charlie Chan" in full. All the more reason the clueing on 41-Across felt curiously anachronistic.

Personally, I think it's also worthwhile to make the distinction in the clue (akin to BEQ's wording) that Biggers was the author of the Chan novels, which are a decidedly different body of work from the English-language Charlie Chan movies of the 30's and 40's where the most egregious racial stereotyping took place. Who among us doesn't appreciate a less careless clue with a bit more finesse?

Finally, FWIW, I'm a card-carrying member of AARP, which means I have already grown older than Earl Derr Biggers, who unfortunately passed away when he was only 48.

In short: I have no beef with DERR, but I have definite preferences on how I like it served.

George Barany 5:57 AM  

Many wonderful comments, too many to shout out individually. Alas, there seems to be some glitch over the past week or two with some of my posts, so bear with me as we troubleshoot.

In the spirit of @PuzzleGirl's plug for the Indie tournament on Saturday June 4, allow me to plug one more that will be held 8 days later.

The Minnesota Crossword Tournament will be held on Sunday, June 12. I have hyperlinked to general information, but you can also click here for direct registration. We hope that many of you can join us!

George Barany 6:49 AM  

Writing on Friday morning, and continuing my trouble shooting from yesterday when one of my posts had difficulty making it through the blogging filters.

@Puzzle Girl plugged her very fine AVCX puzzle (see above). After you have solved it, please try this tribute puzzle, which includes in its title part of a special feature of the AVCX puzzle. Our puzzle also contains an Easter egg shout-out to the author of yet another tribute puzzle, one that I've heard good things about but not actually seen, that is accessible to subscribers at this website. Finally, I refer all who are interested to this article which summarizes the latest twists and turns in a story that has been in the national conversation for two weeks now.

George Barany 6:56 AM  

This should be the last of my trouble-shooting posts on Friday morning.

By now, everyone reading knows the ACE_IN_THE_HOLE concept of today's (May 4, 2016) puzzle by @David Poole. I write to direct you to this puzzle entitled "Aces" that appeared a week ago (April 29, 2016) in the Chronicle for Higher Education. I have hyperlinked to a pdf, but if you want a puz file instead, click here and download as per the instructions.

Congratulations to the CHE authors @Don Gagliardo and @Zhouqin Burnikel, and the editor @Brad Wilber, for their ingenious puzzle.

Leapfinger 7:39 AM  

@Quasi Mojo,

Ver-sah-chee, Ver-sah-chay
Toe-may-toe, Toe-mah-toe!

May I say that's Qwah-zee Qway-zee?

QuasiMojo 8:52 AM  

@Leapfinger, you may indeed. I am a bit croisé! "let's call the whole thing off"? haha.

Glenn Patton 9:25 AM  

Questionable including for Amazing Grace. It's not a spiritual (although it's certainly become part of the Black gospel tradition in the last century). Its origins are in late 18th century English hymnody during the time in which the Methodist movement emerged in the Church of England. John Newton, who wrote the text, was a reformed slave trader.

Tita 10:33 AM  

Much of crossword solving is inference - where you "bootstrap" yourself into answers you don't know by drawing from whatever you DO know.

I know (or could guess) that ICELAND has way fewer people than IrELAND - and inferred that would make it more feasible that they could sort their phonebook that way.
And yeah, I have heard of ACRE, even if I know little about it, so that helped push me towards my choice.
Actually, I dropped in hungary before having any crosses, and felt hugely smug, because I know that Hungarians do odd things with their last name/first name...

Then you have countless examples of the wonderful misdirects, where constructors delight in leading us astray.
One of those in a "Direction" clue that got me bad - was something like "Washington Square Park to Empire State Building direction" - which every New Yorker knows is due north...

Ha ha - Manhattan actually runs NE/SW, so the true direction would be NNE.
When I went to the map to catch Will Shortz in a grievous mistake, I learned that Manhattan is NOT lined up straight north/south!!

Using my powers of inference is good brain exercise for me, and is why you can do crosswords without having read the complete works of Shakespeare or binge-watched the Simpsons. (I've done neither.)

djogba 2:11 PM  

A belated you're welcome. Funny thing is your "fix" would have made the puzzle harder for me. I had no problem with TFAL or LEGER but don't know DEGEN. Which was just auto corrected to DEGENERATE.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  


HOW is it that box 1 is not the BLACK box in the upper right hand corner - 1 across fill "T A T E" is not the solution to one across clue

WHY can't a BLACK BOX have a number ?


Diana,LIW 7:43 PM  

OK Synders and other interested parties. I just had a thought. Yes indeedie, I did.

Uh oh...you ok? Where are my smelling salts? There, breath that in. Not feeling so faint now?

OK, so here's my thought(s). Yes multiple.

I've been mulling (or musing) on the many comments I've read here, by OFL and other solvers, that the NYTP is not as glorious today as it once was. Drabber. Duller. Not as lively. Not quite as dead as the proverbial doornail, but certainly feeling its "age" in its joints. (Not that I would know anything about that!) (No, not that kind of joint!)

These comments of disillusionment are usually prefaced by something like, "I've been solving the NYTP for 25 years," "I've been solving the NYTP since before God told Noah to build an ARK." "My mother started me solving the NYTP while I was in my crib." "This is my third century solving the NYTP."

So, as a Crossword 4th grader, solving consistently for 2+ years, I have thought - "I wonder what all these folks are on to?" I mean, they must be brilliant, long-term solvers.

Then I realized, due to a post I made the other day, that I may have a, not unique, but somewhat different point of view. Another perspective You see, I have purchased many, many anthologies of the NYTP - some from 2 or 5 or 10 or 20 years ago - to practice my solving skills. I solve (or attempt) several puzzles a day. I'm running as fast as I can to catch up with y'all. And I haven't seen a big (or even little) difference in quality for the past two decades that I've been solving for the past two years.

So here's a possibility. Maybe the Times isn't getting worse. Maybe you're getting better. Much, much better. So much better that you've lost perspective as to what constitutes an easy, or good, or tough, or "elegant," or NYT-worthy puzzle. This could be especially true for solvers who care about time because they participate in tournaments on the competitive level. It's like y'all have gone from HS athletes to the Olympics to the NFL to the Super Bowl.

In the meantime, I'm just enjoying the puzzles. I actually feel kinda bad when y'all don't. They are puzzles. Little pieces of fun. Sit back. Breathe. Enjoy!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Hmm, I might just get into the deLorean and fly this by Futureland...

Burma Shave 9:12 AM  


to lie down NEARGALE and PET with AMAZINGGRACE.
We drink every DEER DROPLET TOLIFE, to never get OLD,
it’s never AMINUS to take TERNS as an ACEINTHEHOLE.


rondo 11:13 AM  

This one had me confused until I found the first ACE which was actually the second ACE in the puz. I was wandering all over looking for the gimmick. Maybe shoulda started SE instead of NW. A few odd answers in INDC, ISOUR, ASET, IIN were troublesome. As was bELIEves for RELIESON – inkfest there.

Did like the photo of Jake Arrieta as compared to ARIETTA. More in my area.

JLO, Rebecca DEMORNAY and even a DEMI for yeah babies scattered all around. ROSIE not so much.

As much as I don’t really care for a puz that RELIESON a gimmick, this was pretty tolerable.

spacecraft 11:35 AM  

Whew! I came oh so close to a single-letter DNF today.The last entries I made were RIPLEYS and BLAU, leaving me with BLOOS. It all looked OK...except that BLOOS thing. Relations? Where was I wrong? All the crosses checked out solidly. And then perhaps the aha! moment of the YEAR hit me: it's BLOOD! And so done, and I would've seen Mr. Happy Pencil if I'd been doing it online.

It took a while to get started, searching for purchase. I found it with NEWEL, which fit with [something]WARE. Thus I was in the neighborhood of the reveal line right away, and so the jig was up early on. It still wasn't BREEZIER than usual after that; the translated author began with JUL, and the first name I thought of was JULia Child. Hey, not at all unreasonable: we all like to eat. Europeans too. OK, now tell me: how in the WORLD is ICELAND in Europe??? I cry foul on that one. I did fill that space correctly, as the clue fit that country much better than it did Ireland. All that directory would have as a national clue would be a huge section of O's.

The other problem square wasn't too much of a bother for me, not that I knew either of them, but running the alphabet for DER_ just pointed to R. I said the name out loud: "Earl DERR Biggers." Yeah, somebody could be named that. No "biggie."

Despite the delights of sussing it all out, my enjoyment was marred by the no-excuse horrid entry IIN--though INDC isn't far behind. Everybody's DOD is DEMORNAY--but let's not overlook JLO! I realize theme constraints come into play, but IIN is so-o-o bad, couldn't SOMETHING be done? This should've been a birdie, but let's say, the short putt lipped out. Par.

Deb 12:17 PM  

Judt did the syndicated version out here in the western hinterlands, note 65A now clued as "this land ___ land" instead of "a mighty fortress ___ god" (per @puzzlegirl's writeup). Wonder why the change? (Apologies if this has already been mentioned; life is short, comments are long)

Diana,LIW 3:00 PM  

Kept having fun even after I threw in the towel, came here, and found out that more funny punny stuff was going on. JAM indeed - I had it, but didn't know why. And yes, the DERR/LEGER area goofed me up, and didn't see GAS STOVE. Ha ha.

Now, to pack for that trip to Minneapolis and the Minne Tourney.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 3:33 PM  

I can't say anything negative about this truly enjoyable puzzle. I really liked it. It was tough, but not too tough, and tricky, but not too tricky.
My only write-over was sEMI to DEMI (probably should have waited for that one, but I assumed 34D would have 's' at the end.

No Naticks here (humblebrag). I knew LEGER, knew ACRE was a port in Israel, own a TFAL, and by symmetry, "knew" the upper left corner was ACE. By the way,the ACEs were delightfully employed.

The toughest part of the puzzle was definitely the NE where INDC was slow to come, and NEAR GALE just sounded unscientific to me. Is there a NEAR hurricane?

So, @Spacecraft, something I really want to know, what is wrong with partials? Why are some partials better than others? Today, I thought I IN was a good clue and answer, and I just don't understand why some feel it is awful. Please 'splain it to me Spacey.

Sailor 4:23 PM  

Struggled with this – started it while still half asleep this AM - but loved it, even tho it was a DNF for me today, because I forgot to go back and fix BLOOs once I had BLAU. Arrgh! (and it's not even SEP).

Re: PPP analysis - The Beaufort scale is named for the man who devised it, Admiral Francis Beaufort of the Royal Navy; hence, definitely a proper noun IMO. So, definitely a high PPP today, and yet interesting enough that I didn’t mind. Very little overly-obscure trivia, I thought.

In that vein, I have to agree with @Generic Solver that Earl DERR Biggers shows up often enough to be considered crosswordese, so I didn’t consider that either “obscure trivia” or a Natick. I’ve never read the books, but remembered the author from other puzzles. As Will Shortz has pointed out, there are only so many 3 and 4-letter words in the English language. I thought IIN and INDC were both pretty clever.

Iceland is considered “part of” Europe culturally and geographically, but it still seems a stretch to say it’s “in” Europe. That’s my nit to pick for today.

Yet another terrific puzzle – that’s the third one this week, by my count. @Diana, If this keeps up I may have to revise my opinion about the gradual decline of this venerable institution.

Longbeachlee 5:42 PM  

In Summary, nice gimmick, terrible puzzle.

leftcoastTAM 5:46 PM  

Had to do this in two sittings, first AM, then PM. Several games of pool in between

Got the ACE trick early enough with AMAZINGGRACE/CRETACEOUS. Promising start. Later found the other ACES. Very nice theme and execution.

Finishing it off was not pleasant. Couldn't figure out the TFAL/LEGER cross, not knowing TFAL and not remembering LEGER.

Aaargh! [like a SEP pirate].

leftcoastTAM 5:57 PM  

P.S. Oh, yes, DERR also added to my DNF in that part of the puzzle.

spacecraft 7:26 PM  

@Rainy: Hard to 'splain but I'll try. Examples may be the best way. Let's take INIT and ITIN. "Still with a chance to win" would be INIT, a phrase in the language; i.e., real people actually SAY that. They say ITIN too, but only buried in the middle of some other thought. INIT as a thought can stand alone; ITIN cannot. With IIN, this is nonsense without the specific reference to a certain poem line. This most definitely cannot stand alone. NO partials are ideal, but some at least make a little phraseological sense, and don't require a special situation to be used. Anyway this is how I feel; hope I've explained it satisfactorily. Cheers!

Hal Davis 10:52 PM  

I also had 65A "This land ___ land," leading to the incorrect ISOUR, since that is not one of the lines of Woody Guthrie song. I assume the clue was changed to the correct hymn lyric in the NYT pages, but it wasn't caught for syndication.

wcutler 3:43 AM  

So 65A was "A Mighty Fortress ___ God", eh? In my version in the local newspaper (Vancouver Sun), 65A is "This land ____ land". I got the answer, even though I don't think "is our" is in that song ("is your" and "is my"). I assume the Mighty Fortress, with a correct clue, is the revised one, but our puzzles appear a month after everyone else sees them, so I'm surprised that we would get the uncorrected version.

Tarot, Demornay, brood and Ripleys did me in. I never heard of Derr and didn't remember Leger, but they weren't a problem. The theme was fun.

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

I'm baffled by the criticism of INDC and especially IIN,a three letter sequence I don't recall ever encountering before. Surely IIN is preferable to another appearance of sou or ecu or roi or obi or oda or the whatever the dir. is from Oshkosh to Osceola.

Syndicate bob 8:01 PM  

I hope puzzle girl is feeling better now. It is six weeks since this puzzle first appeared. I just want to note that apparently the clue for 62 down was changed to Boulder to Little Rock direction.

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