Spherical locks / TUE 7-19-16 / Mythical abductee / McDonald's slogan that replaced Put Smile On / Mind-blowing in modern lingo

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Constructor: James Mulhern

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: FULL COUNT (63A: 3-2 ... or what's represented by the answers to this puzzle's starred clues) — DESCRIPTION

Theme answers:
  • BALL JOINT (17A: *Car part that works in a similar manner to the human hip)
  • BALL IN CUP (11D: *Children's toy that tests dexterity)
  • CANNON BALL (29D: *Cry just before hitting the pool)
  • STRIKE BACK (37A: *Retaliate)
  • RENT STRIKE (42A: *Tenants' protest)
Word of the Day: BODACIOUS (38D: Attractive, informally) —
Some of our readers may know "bodacious" as a word that figured prominently in the lingo of the 1989 film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Others may recall the term's frequent use in the long-running "Snuffy Smith" comic strip. Neither the creators of the comic strip nor the movie can claim to have coined "bodacious," which actually first appeared in print in 1832, but both likely contributed to its popularity. The exact origin of the word is uncertain, but it was most likely influenced by "bold" and "audacious," and it may be linked to "boldacious," a term from British dialect. (M-W)
• • •
This puzzle really needed ... something else. Something more. What we have here feels like a first idea, a rough draft version. "Hey, what can I do with FULL COUNT ... well, I could put BALL in the grid three times and STRIKE in it twice ... nah, too straightforward, too many repeating words ... what's the fun in that?" That is how the brainstorming session ought to have gone. Then maybe you'd've considered making 3 *clues* [BALL] and 2 clues [STRIKE], or various rebus options, etc., eventually alighting on the best expression of the FULL COUNT concept. This here is remedial. No one answer in the puzzle is offensive or bad. It's just blah, stem to stern. BODACIOUS is almost good, but it feels pretty dated. And the fill: inoffensive and bland. The one thing that the grid has going for it, which no one is going to notice because the puzzle has no way of indicating it very directly, is that the strikes are (like many strikes in baseball) right down the middle, whereas the balls are high and inside, high and outside, low and outside. The word PLATE might've helped here, not sure. [NOTE: just woke up to find out that you can actually *see* the outline of the strike zone in the print version ... so something *was* missing]

I was faster on this puzzle than on yesterday's. Fastest Tuesday in a long time. It's astonishing how a. familiar and b. easily clued all these answers are. Besides the themers, the only place I had any hesitation was 22D: Ruth, for one (YANKEE), because I was thinking Bible, then pity. Oh, and I somehow had either TIDDLE or TITTLE in there for a while at 32D: Amuse (TICKLE). That was weird. Everything else was read clue / write answer, bam bam, fast as I could go (pretty much). So fast that, until a friend pointed it out just now, I didn't even see 55D: Spherical locks. Let's all just be grateful for that.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


GILL I. 12:10 AM  


jae 12:38 AM  

Easy and faster than yesterday's for me too. No erasures and ASSAI was the only WOE.

Something a little different for a theme, a bit of zip, liked it more than Rex did.

The "Strike Zone" is outlined on the PDF version.

Plus, it included my favorite clue for AT BAT.

Patrick 12:39 AM  

"The one thing that the grid has going for it, which no one is going to notice because the puzzle has no way of indicating it very directly, is that the strikes are (like many strikes in baseball) right down the middle, whereas the balls are high and inside, high and outside, low and outside."

Not sure which platform you used to solve the puzzle, but mine had a literal 5x5 strike zone in the middle of the puzzle used to reinforce the theme. I thought it worked pretty well.

George Barany 12:47 AM  

I was kind of distracted while solving this @James Mulhern puzzle, and didn't understand certain nuances until I had a chance to read @Rex, and consult with a couple of my friends. It occurs to me that Across Lite solvers won't have seen a 7x7 square inside the 15x15 grid -- that's supposed to represent a "strike zone" within which you can see STRIKE and STRIKE (i.e., "two strikes") while BALL, BALL, and BALL (i.e., "three balls") are all outside of the zone. In sum, a FULL_COUNT of 3-2. I was able to locate a pdf showing this, and can only assume that those solving on newspaper hard copy during the day on Tuesday will see the same; in addition, I confirm that the New York Times app for on-line solving by subscribers does show those extra grid lines.

Pro-tip, when in doubt on a sports trivia question, answer Babe Ruth. For example, do you know what opposing team pitcher (above a certain minimum threshold) has the best career-winning record against the YANKEEs? That's right, Babe Ruth. As Casey Stengel would say, "you can look it up."

Left-over from yesterday, I typed "drinking while intoxicated" and "drinking under the influence" when clearly I meant "driving" in both cases. There's a moral there, but I'm not sure what it is [thanks to @AliasZ for the gentle way he pointed this out to me, off-Rex].

Trombone Tom 12:58 AM  

I liked this better than OFL did, but I nearly always get pleasure from doing a puzzle. C'mon, man, it's only Tuesday.

In addition to the balls and strikes there was AT BAT, possibly by a NAT. What was the SKOR?

Nice to see another nod to NCIS. We still watch, but it doesn't have the same edge without Ziva.

ATLAS seemed like a little bit of a stretch for "place setting," especially for the early week.

Maybe not an EPIC win, but definitely an enjoyable romp from Mr. Mulhern.

Mike in Mountain View 1:31 AM  

Rex gets credit for noticing the strikes were down the middle and the balls were high, low and wide (inside or outside depends on your point of view and the handedness of the batter).

The Times' online puzzle had a box for the strike zone. Apparently, not every app version did.

chefwen 2:33 AM  

Thought todays was super easy, until I arrived in the SE. Had fAdES at 51D and was so sure it was right I kept struggling around it. 55D was a question mark too, until I took a good look at Coco aka avatar and noticed her mini AFRO. PALES finally set me straight and I was able to finish. That little corner gave me quite a struggle. Any Wednesday (thinking of the movie) at 9D didn't help either. NWAMI or YELEN just didn't cut it.

QuestionTime 3:08 AM  

I quite liked this one and was kind of hoping to read today's entry and find praise for the theme but I guess I should know better than that.

Maybe this is only the case if you solve on the nyt website but the central 7x7 squares have a thicker outline to help get the placement of the themers across and I wouldn't be surprised if most solvers picked up on it.

Overall no complaints from me but it could just be the fact that I finished in 2/3 of my usual Tuesday time that's making me feel good about the experience.

Loren Muse Smith 6:02 AM  

Rex – good catch on the placement of the BALLs and STRIKEs. But you said, "which no one is going to notice because the puzzle has no way of indicating it very directly." The grid does indicate it. There's a darker line forming a big area right in the middle – the plate, maybe? Or the STRIKE zone? It's faint, but it's definitely there. With ERNIE Banks standing right there AT BAT. So the word "plate" isn't there, but it sure is drawn in. (I just checked. You can't see it on Across Lite, but you can see it on the pdf and faintly on the solve-online grid.) So it's 6am, and my comment will probably be not even the first of the bajillion that point out that the plate is drawn in.

Agree that BODACIOUS is good. I also had "fades" before PALES and hence for 50A, "mind blowing," my first thought was some kind of "ef-ing" something. Dumb. Wrong part of speech.

First thought on the comment from Donald Trump was "loser." Doesn't he call a lot of people that?

On CANNONBALL – I've never heard anyone shout that while executing one. It was my experience that the goal was to get someone, a mom or a teen-age sister who's just rubbed on some more baby oil, soaking wet. So it all had a stealthy feel. Granted, our go-to splash bomber was a can-opener - much easier to place the direction of the splash. I was among the elite can-opener doers. Make your approach on the high-dive a la Greg Louganis, explode off into air, descend with arms out, and grab that knee right before hitting the water. I still feel kinda bad that I was never able to teach my kids the proper form. My son still grabs his knee as soon as he leaves the board and makes the whole trip down to the water holding his knee, which is embarrassing to us all.

James – really nice trick with the STRIKES inside the strike zone and the BALLS high/low outside. As @jae says, liked it.

Unknown 6:25 AM  

On my app version of the puzzle, there was a strong outline around the central 7x7 region, indicating the strike zone. I chuckled when I saw the STRIKEs in the middle and the BALLs on the outside. Very clever.

The repeated words made solving easy, though for whatever reason the SW corner stumped me for a minute. I didn't know ASSAI (Very, to a conductor), and I had trouble making out DIBS ("Mine!") and ATLAS (Place setting?).

My partner and I agree that she is the ERNIE while I am the Bert. (But I am the Mulder while she is the Scully. Make of that what you will.)

Wanted BOAST instead of TWEET (Many a comment from Donald Trump). I have never understood what people see in that short-fingered vulgarian.

Until next time, NANU-NANU.

Didi Gregorius 6:37 AM  

The .pdf download of the puzzle outlines the plate which has the two strikes within and the balls on the outside.

Lewis 6:39 AM  

@rex -- This has probably been mentioned thirty times already, but... in the NYT online version, there is a box (delineated by a perimeter of heavier lines like the lines on the puzzle's perimeter) which contains the two strikes and shuts out the three balls.

Lots of theme in this puzzle (68 squares, I think), and yet it comes off very clean overall. On the other hand, the theme didn't help the solve and wasn't necessary for it. But it made for a good effect, with the strikes in the zone and the balls outside of it. As Rex mentioned, the cluing was easy.

Two nice crosses: EPIC/BODACIOUS, and a backward ATOI crossing ROAST. There's a mini-theme of words ending in A (7) and starting in A (14). I was hoping that it was ELMO next to TICKLE rather than ERNIE. And let it be noted that ALL_OUT is all in, and RISE has fallen.

I loved the effect of the visual theme and it made for a smile-inducing post-solve aha. As @loren would say, this one was right over the plate.

Hance Huston 6:49 AM  

Rex, the print version had a bolded 'strike zone' in the middle of the puzzle, with the strikes inside and the balls outside. Did your version have that?

Z 7:24 AM  

Rex pointed out the one thing that takes this puzzle a step up. The STRIKEs being right down the middle, the BALLs being not. A "plate" representation would have been nice. Maybe a pentagonal "plate" rebus? Still, the themer placement is a nice touch.

However.... As much as I love baseball (I'll probably watch 200+ games between March and November) this seems like a pretty confined theme. I would not appreciate an Opera theme or a chemistry theme or an* European Rivers theme. I know a significant portion of the commentariat's baseball knowledge ends with Mel Ott. I imagine they will not feel a whole lotta love for this one.

I have no issue with the locks clue. I could not help but notice the high forehead, pale skin color, and spherical locks of Art Garfunkel in the clip I posted late last week.

Finally, regarding the latest plagiarism scandal; All those speeches sound alike to me. I imagine Louisa Adams' speech would have sounded much the same (if we had let women make political speeches in the 1820's). I'm hard put to get overly incensed over this. There are actually important things to be incensed over.

*An? "A" sounds better here, don't you think?

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

A very critical review for a puzzle I enjoyed. I agree with your "read clue/write answer" comment. Heck, I got the revealer off just the "O." Everthing just seemed to be in my wheelhouse on this one (pun intended). Just becase a grid is easy doesn't make it bland.


ArtO 8:11 AM  

Much too critical for a really clever construction with the balls and strikes appropriately placed. Very evident strike zone in the print version.

chefbea 8:30 AM  

Got all the strikes and balls but couldn't figure out why there was a big box in the center of the puzzle. Had to come here to find out.
Going to see the TSA tomorrow ...leaving for SanDiego. Hopefully will have time to buy the NYT and do the puzzle...but probably won't check in here for a week.

kitshef 8:31 AM  

No visual strike zone on my printout, but the first thing I did upon completion was check the pitch locations.

@Z - constructor ducked a number of chances to add baseballese - NAT, ERNIE, STAR, AFRO (referencing Oscar Gamble naturally), ASH ... seems to have gone out of his way to limit that.

@Z again - first sound in European is y-as-a-consonant, so 'a, is correct.

Liked the puzzle, but I need closure. What happened on the payoff pitch?

Unknown 8:34 AM  

TALIA and ASSAI cross had me stumped. I liked the puzzle and the pitch location along with the the opaque cluing of ATBAT and AFRO elevated the solving experience for me.

Unknown 8:34 AM  

Quick solve. I had a little difficulty in the SW but that is the only place I paused to ponder. I liked the strike zone.

Cassieopia 8:37 AM  

Loved it, and the app had the zones marked out. Clever and fun, I put BALLaNdCUP first and thought Mork said NANo but otherwise had a fast Wednesday.

@loren, I was the cannonball queen in my day and always did a huge whoop before launching, usually just to show off as I was often the only female cannonball, and always the best one in the group :) Thank you, Mr Mulhern, for sparking those memories and for a striking Tuesday puzzle!

Nancy 8:42 AM  

What a strange, strange strike zone! Yes, it has two STRIKES in the middle of it, but it also has AETNA, TICKLE, NATURE, OUNCE, AREEL, ERNIE, TEN, SAN and NAE. Not to mention SOTRU, TS, ANKEE and NU. I'd call it a hot mess of a STRIKE zone. What would DR K (from earlier this week) say?

I might have Naticked on a Tuesday (grim thought), but I guessed correctly at the MUSK/SKOR cross. Other than the stupid theme, I thought it was harder than most Tuesdays and therefore I enjoyed it. Even though I've never heard of such things as BALL IN A CUP, Skosh (53D clue) and either MUSK or SKOR.

I'm also a lousy enough golfer that I don't need to stick a pencil in my EAR (54A), so that it can fall off just as I'm hitting (or not hitting) my tee shot or when I'm lining up (or only thinking that I've actually lined up) my putt.

Z 8:47 AM  

I solved on the iPad NYT Crossword App - you know, the official NYTCrossword app. No outline of the strike zone. Puzzazz, on the other hand, has the outline. Ah, the joys of modern technology, where something as random as which media interface you choose from a myriad of choices (dead-tree, .pdf, website, tablet app, third party tablet app, third party computer application) can influence whether or not the solver sees the actual puzzle as intended (and the official version mucks it up while the third party app gets it right). An extra Kudo to Mr. Mulhern. A heartfelt raspberry for the NYT Tech department.

Nancy 8:56 AM  

@kitshef (from late yesterday) -- I am SO grateful for your post! It puts my mind at ease that I would be making the right decision in getting another PC instead of a Mac. At this point though, I may do nothing. The irony is that since my computer froze on Saturday, it's not only now UNfrozen, but seems to be faster than it was immediately after the crisis. Like a sick patient that's on the mend. It's not fast, mind you, but if it doesn't slow down again, it may be fast enough for me. We'll see. But I really am grateful for your input!

Hartley70 8:56 AM  

I can confirm that my NYT mobile app does not have any extra lines to indicate a strike zone and it didn't matter anyway. I never got the theme because I've never heard the phrase FULLCOUNT. The rest of the themers meant nothing to me and 3-2 was a complete mystery that I still don't get. My Tuesday time was good but I COUNT this puzzle as an epic fail on my report card.

Kim Scudera 8:57 AM  

I'm solving on the NYT app, and I've got no lines to delineate the strike zone. I'm glad to know they were there for some solvers, because that small detail helps highlight a key element of the construction that elevates an otherwise thin concept. Thanks, Rex!

AskGina 8:58 AM  

Thanks for that story. It made smile!

jberg 9:00 AM  

A little tougher for me due to a queasy feeling that the opposite of pro would be (horridly) AMATeur. That kept me from seeing ANTI for a few minutes.

Hey, did anyone notice the bold-face strike zone?

Mohair Sam 9:03 AM  

Jeez Rex, maybe the best expression of the FULL COUNT concept is to have three BALLs and two STRIKEs right in the puzzle with the STRIKEs in the heart of the puzz, and the BALLs high and low. Just sayin'. If a FULL COUNT were 4 and 4 then I'd agree that a Thursday rebus might be in order.

Thought this was a clever Tuesday, and enjoyed it. We print out from Across Lite so didn't have the home plate (which ain't square, btw) but checked to make sure all the BALLS were no where near the middle anyway. Never heard of BALLINACUP but filled it because it was high and outside and we had one BALL to go. Didn't take piano lessons long enough to learn ASSAI, today's new word from the NYT.

Unknown 9:05 AM  

My only quibble is that the toy is called CUP AND BALL and not BALL IN CUP. Maybe ball-in-a-cup.

Nancy 9:23 AM  

@Anon 9:59 p.m. from yesterday -- I should thank you, too, for your Chrome Book recommendation. Wish I knew who you were. I've just been researching the Chrome Book on my suddenly more-responsive 8-year-old laptop, and I'm thinking that that well might be the best way to go. If I decide to buy anything right now, that is. I'm grateful for your advice and may end up following it.

RooMonster 9:24 AM  

Hey All !
Different kind of baseball theme. Nice. The placement of the 3-2 themers elevated this puz from a just-TuesPus-baseball-type-theme to a really nice puz. Nice job on no real dreck to speak of (well, DOI...)

Liked the way constructor got through the two crossing C ending words in SE. Clever.

Overall nice puz for Tuesday. No ANIMUS from me. :-)


Nancy 9:39 AM  

Oh, Hartley 70, you poor, poor thing.(8:56 a.m.) Let me galsplain to you a FULL COUNT. It's a 3-2 count on the batter, 3 balls and 2 strikes. One more ball, leading to 4 balls, will produce a "walk" (the batter gets sent to first base). It's as good as a single -- a 1-base hit. One more strike will lead to 3 strikes, meaning the batter is out. Even you, my poor, poor Hartley have heard the phrase "3 strikes and you're out," yes? So here's why 3-2 (balls are always listed before strikes) is a FULL COUNT: There's no room left for another ball and there's no room left for another strike. Otherwise things happen. Either Good things or Bad things.

Doug 10:20 AM  

I liked this puzzle. Great for an amateur like me. Maybe could have had a couple of more baseball references in the clues, especially for EAR. Nobody but oldsters would remember the trash talk, "Stick it in his____! but that would have worked. Or "batting helmet can protect this."

Mohair Sam 10:25 AM  

From yesterday -

@Nancy - Yes, your thank you to @kitshef is well placed. I created and then managed a Macintosh based system in a small office for 10 years. I loved the Mac, but you'd need to do a little relearning. They're not quite the ATT 100 if you know what I mean.

@Z - Well you got one bite with the "NYT center-right" comment. I have an adult niece who refers to the Times as a "right wing rag" (they've backed candidates who aren't 100% pro-choice, and they are publicly traded - proof positive) so your comment only left me with a only chuckle and wondering if perhaps you were a regular Limbaugh listener. On your center-right Obama comment: Was paired at a dinner a few years ago with a political insider who had helped get Reagan elected. To fire up the conversation I looked him dead in the eye and said, "Based on what they did, not what they said, Nixon was the by far most liberal President of my lifetime, and Clinton by far the most conservative." He looked at me, shrugged, and said: "Everybody in Washington knows that."

But I don't agree on Obama, I think he's getting what he can for liberalism, but bowing to Wall Street, unions, and trial lawyers to keep the cash flowing to the party. Don't even get me going on what could have been a great health care law.

Carola 10:33 AM  

I loved this playful Tuesday, with the STRIKEs right over the plate and ERNIE Banks facing the FULL COUNT. I'd also noticed the AT BAT and YANKEE, but thank other commenters for ASH and NAT. I guess there's part of an all-STAR there, too. I liked the parallel I'M LOVIN' IT and BODACIOUS, and thought CANNONBALL was terrific. Fun puzzle.

Dorothy Biggs 10:43 AM  

If you're not Nancy or interested in why I hate Sondheim, then skip this please. Rex, I would message her this response if I knew how, so please post for Nancy's sake...

@Nancy yesterday: Without getting too deep, my aversion to Sondheim is admittedly subjective. Just because I don't like his work doesn't mean I don't think it's any good. I just don't like it. It's repetitive and I believe it's too precious in lots of ways.

He has stated that he believes each note, word, rest, and chord needs to have a dramatic reason. I find that admirable, but ultimately, that needs to be a guideline that remains subservient to the final product and not a hard and fast rule. Puccini did fine without making every note/word/rest/etc count. So does John Williams, for that matter. Sometimes, you just gotta music! and let that be enough. Anton Webern, who is a pointillist or Arnold Schönberg, who is a serialist tried very hard to organize their music in extreme ways to varying degrees of success. Sondheim falls into that category for me. It's too laden with meaning and because of that premise, he paints himself into a box more often than not, and the results are not heartfelt but only some kind of intellectual exercise. I have talked to many Sondheim fans and they can't name very many times in any of his shows where they feel any emotion other than cold intellectual appreciation for the lyric or music. Webber, for as much crap as he gets for being "popular" or :ahem: a thief, can make you cry.

Into the Woods takes the "bean motive" and beats it into the ground. Again, note how Williams accomplishes the Leitmotif in Star Wars or Jaws. Or how Wagner does it in his operas. Less is more in many cases. And as for the lyrics, sure he is clever, but he isn't the greatest IMO. His work is no better than Hammerstein or even Lin-Manuel Miranda. The moniker "best" is equally subjective as disliking someone's work. There are many lyricists who can rhyme till the cows come home...Sondheim isn't particularly unique. Also, Jason Robert Brown does equally well (maybe sometimes better) than Sondheim in writing music that captures spoken dialog. Again, Sondheim can be witty and amusing and technically stunning...but do his words make you feel something deeply? Redemption? Sorrow? Pain? Laugh till you cry? Not so much.

As for the songs you mentioned, I won't argue that when he sets his mind to it he can't write a beautiful song. On the contrary, he can write beautiful songs when he stops trying to be so organized. Schönberg wrote some beautiful melodies too.

So, there you have it. Because I don't like it doesn't mean it isn't good. I'm sure Bartok has lots of fans. I'm sure there are people who have Webern on their playlists. To each his own. I'm just a bit outspoken about Sondheim because he seems to carry a certain sacrosanct aura about him that precludes anyone criticizing his work. People defend his work like it was written by their mother.

old timer 11:00 AM  

Ah. What y'all don't know, but the constructor probably had in mind, is if you turn on the "live" feature on the MLB app during the game, or manage to find that feature when you Google for your favorite team, you will see a rectangular outline of a strike zone. Each strike is green and inside the rectangle, and each ball is red and outside the rectangle, with the general location of the pitch indicated. This is very useful if you are "watching" the game on an iPhone. Mostly I follow my Giants on the radio but sometimes it's more convenient to just use my phone. Actual video would probably drain my battery, but this app is pretty economical.

To tell you the truth, I did not look for all the balls until the puzzle was complete, and my time (very good for a Tuesday) was written down. Then I realized how clever a construction this was.

Joseph Michael 11:00 AM  

No strike zone outline for me either. But it didn't matter. Not a fan of puzzles where words get repeated, however clever the concept may be.So for me it was only an OK solve.

Wondered why the ERNIE in the "strike zone" wasn't Banks.

And noticed that Ms. Shire has become popular lately in crossworld. Or maybe she has always been popular?

Liked the clue for ATLAS and the plummeting CANNONBALL.

Ralph 11:11 AM  

Usually foul ball

Unknown 11:17 AM  

It's amazing to me how much complaining gets posted here. This was a fine puzzle. Next, please...

M Obama 11:21 AM  

Just one second - I had a puzzle with this exact theme published 8 years ago. Will this never end?

Ralph 11:22 AM  

I was hoping for BALLSTRIKE(Draymond Green was suspended for Game 5 for one too many of these)

Warren Howie Hughes 11:36 AM  

AUDI Pardner,I ONUSly MUSK say this Tuesday offering by James Mulhern, was AREEL joy as well as a real TWEET! I TALIA, it's not easy being me, because I always AMES to please! NANU NANU

Masked and Anonymous 11:50 AM  

@indie009: har. Lead comment from PuzEatinSpouse, upon finishing up this puz: "This puzzle's theme is really weak. Or I don't get it. Two strikes and three balls?!"

The extra "zone" graphics were indeed a must.

Double-header U's! Thanx, Mr. Mulhern.

Off now to see how many c-rolls we can get over the plate.

Masked & Anonymo10Us


Z 11:52 AM  

@Joseph Welling - The Wikipedia is titled "Cup and Ball" and cites "BALL IN A CUP" as an alternate name. Nevertheless, I had no problem finding BALL IN CUP when I did a search. Of course, the actual puzzle answer is the WikiApproved BALL IN A CUP

Lewis 12:01 PM  

@nancy -- Your explanation to @hartley was terrific. It was comprehensive without insulting the reader, and most importantly it got the concept across clearly, easy to understand. I've noticed over time that you have a talent for description, for picking out the salient points while leaving out the chaff. Just pointing this out to you in case you weren't aware of this talent of yours. Oh, now I see you're a writer (looking at your profile) -- this does not surprise me.

travelstockblog 12:07 PM  

I did it on a MAC using the official NYT app and it had the box. I noticed someone thought that wasn't the case.
SW slowed me down a tad and I had GOT Milk before SOY, but still fast for a Tuesday. I liked the theme.

KAB 12:20 PM  

As a non-American living in a town that is all about its football and hockey, I solved this puzzle, got the revealer through entirely crosses, had no idea about the theme, and was like "What's a FULL COUNT? Maybe . . . baseball? Maybe?"

That's not to say that a baseball-theme is a flaw in a puzzle running for an American audience. It just relied on very particular cultural knowledge that I did not have. It would be like most Americans solving a cricket-themed crossword.

Z 12:31 PM  

@kitshef - "first sound in European is y-as-a-consonant" - Is it? Or, maybe better, Is it always? If it depends on the dialect would "correct" usage be dialect specific? I hope our resident linguist @lms will illuminate us.

@Mohair Sam - I loved your "Everybody in Washington knows that" story. Your niece would probably appreciate my first link. This is a better write-up but one probably ought not click on it if one is at work. As for the NYT, I think people mistake its generally socially liberal stances as carrying over to its politics in general. You don't have to be all that old, though, to recognize that most of those "socially liberal" stances would have fit easily into the politics of Rockefeller Republicans.

Malsdemare 12:36 PM  

@Nancy, to your own self be true. I went back to yesterday's blog, saw your response (and Kitschef's) and nodded in agreement. Nothing worse than dreading what's coming. I hope you get the perfect replacement. Computers are supposed to make life easier, not harder. And thanks for the compliment on my signon. I've had Malamutes for 25 years, best dogs in the whole wide world.

I'm not a big baseball fan, but I had no trouble getting this theme, so I'm not sure it's all that esoteric. Loved BOADACIOUS! such a lush word, evocative of Marilyn Monroe. And now I've really dates myself, haven't I.

Margaret Holton 12:47 PM  

Bodacious - I always thought that was originally a reference to Boadicea, the Briton queen and war leader who resisted the takeover of her tribe.

GILL I. 1:11 PM  

Some of the comments today are great...@Nancy....computers and Sondheim... I can't decide which of the postings I like the most. @NCA Pres, are you a music critic? If not, you should be. I love Sondheim because of Sweeny Todd but now that I read your critique, I can understand your comment about lyricists rhyming till the "cows come home."
@M Obama....coffee splatter!

OISK 1:12 PM  

@NCA president. Sondheim has written some of my favorite songs, and NONE of my favorite shows. I agree with much of what you wrote. @ Nancy, you didn't mention a favorite of mine - "Not while I'm around."
He is a great lyricist, but too much cynicism is tiresome.

Happy to see a baseball themed puzzle, and don't understand @Z's complaint about other themes, such as opera, for example. I can recall a puzzle on which the entire perimeter was three letter acronyms for rock groups. And I almost finished it! (hated it, of course.) My point is, that certainly America's pastime is a fit theme source, especially when the puzzle is solvable without much awareness of the sport...

Anyway, this one was right in my strike zone, and despite fouling off a couple ( SKOR?? Didn't score with me...), I ran it all down...

Teedmn 1:17 PM  

No strike zone for me today until I got here, which means I missed the BALL and STRIKE placements. Coming here to find that out turned this from a so-so puzzle to FULL COUNT BODACIOUS! Nice one JM.

The SW was definitely my section of greatest resistance - skosh to me means a slosh of *something* in a glass, not an IOTA and DIBS/ASSAI gave that area some additional crunch - so not an "easy" Tuesday but just a skosh above average, time-wise.

Joe Bleaux 1:30 PM  

Mully got me with his change-up in the SW corner 😉

Sheryl 2:02 PM  

I've been using Puzzazz software on my iPad since someone here recommended it. It's way better than anything else I've used - shows all the special graphics that no other puzzle software can handle. So I saw the square in the middle as soon as I opened the puzzle and I thought the theme was cute. I liked it.

It was an easy puzzle, but it made me smile.

beatrice 2:10 PM  

Times have became just way too interesting.

Not being an afficionada of baseball, this puzzle didn't exactly float my boat, but it was pleasant enough - at least I vaguely knew what a strike zone was.

@Martin A. - enjoyed your comments, as usual. As to the infamous TWEETer, well it seems to me that 'there is no there there' (a la Gertrude Stein). That can't be completely accurate of course, but one piece of this ghastly enigma, is, I suppose - well, I think Joel Gray and Alan Cumming sing it best.



On the life-affirming side, here is the exuberant Allegro ASSAI from the Brandenburg Concerto no. 2, followed by the no. 2 in its entirety.



Tita 3:24 PM  

@GILL - you're getting quite boldacious with your comments!!

I am so glad I stopped by today to learn about the strike zone. I thought the theme was pretty neat. Then I got here, and I it turns out I just really love it.
Yes, a home PLATE would have been icing on the cake.
(Rex - kudos for figuring that out...)

@lms - you mean I've been doing the can-opener wrong all these years???!

@Patrick - I'm w/out electronics, so I printed from AcrossLite. No strike zone for me.

@Z - this isn't really *about* baseball... It doesn't require knowing MVPs or ERA leaders or teams or their blessed stadium names, who won what pennant...it just requires knowing one bit of scoring that has kind of made it into the language. I'm not sure if I could draw a crossword puzzle parallel with opera, although "It ain't over till the fat lady sings" might be a nice crossover clue!!

@Mohair - a rare political weigh-in for me - everyone calls it ObamaCare, but it should be called ObstructionistCare, becausee his original plan was eviscerated till there was barely any viscera left.

Holy cow, Mr. Mulhern - a fabulous puzzle!

Tita 3:35 PM  

@Nancy - @kitshef;s advice is spot-on. Sometimes the most important factor is what you're comfortable with.
Having said that, beware, because Windows 10 is different enough that you might feel you're relearning all over again anyway.

The Chromebook might in fact be a great choice.
Make a list of the things that you do - and make sure it can do them all. Do you Skype? That may not be available.
And ask about whether you need to be online to do certain things.

My only real advice - beware folks who swear that Mac or PC is inherently superior - both suck in so many ways that as a software and hardware person my whole career, I cringe at. They all have warts to go along with their incredible awesomeness.

(Thankfully, none of those here...@Mohair and @kitshef and others have given you great advice.)

And - if you need to do nothing - that would be the best!!!!!!!!!! Good luck.

Vlad 6:59 PM  

@ M. Obama 11:21 A.M. “Imitation,the sincerest form of flattery” SO TRUE! But who knew you were so popular with GOP speechwriters, oops, constructors? So many verbatim steals, a challenge to get a FULL COUNT.

Day One: Off to a rollicking start, when the ANTI-Heist Artist contingent went ALL OUT in a (feeble) attempt to STRIKE BACK against the inevitable RISE (and hopefully soon relegated to the proverbial ASHbin of history) the presumptive nominee. That ended, after ten minutes of an empty stage, with a Ken Cuchinelli heartACHE and for those inadvertently out in television land, a TICKLE. “I'M LOVIN’ IT!” said scores of aghast historians,reverents of the nation's founding documents... followed by a collective “DRAT it” when the motion for a roll call vote failed.(All this of great interest to ROO, no doubt.)

In TOTO, opening night contained not an IOTA of that which is commonly known as reality. Up AT BAT, “NANU! NANU! Mayor 9/11 began his version of the ROAST of President Obama - a k a in Republican circles as “Barack OBAMA” as a pejorative - with a CANNON BALL defense of a candidate who looks as if he were released each afternoon from the asylum without his medication, but after a huge lunch. (That long red tie ain't foolin nobody.)

But for EPIC ANIMUS, the ‘unseemly award’ goes to Ms. Smith, Sean Smith’s mother, who NAMED the Democratic nominee as his murderer. (Can anyone rest in peace while being used at a political rally? That said, RIP Sean Smith.)

But the STAR wasn’t even listening to the insanity, having a chance to EMOTE on that station of up-to-the-minute conspiracy news where mere accusations of sexual abuse and misconduct against SWAMI Roger Ailes means zilch to viewers hooked on steady EARfuls of TKO’S.

Despite the busy evening for Mr. Mr., whose narcissism cannot allow him to introduce the innocent plagiarist without remaining at the podium and saying thrice, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” – he still had time for a TWEET. Why disappoint his 13 million White Man Marchers- losers who don't know wtf has been going on for 8 years (Lilly Ledbetter Act; Recovery and Reinvestment Act; auto bailout of GM, Chrysler and thru saving the supply chain, Ford Motors as well; proper administration of Bush's TARP, now fully repaid and earning interest; increased fuel efficiency standards; repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell; New START Treaty w Russia on nuclear; the Iran deal: all fissile material now out of the country-- breakout time went from 2-3 months to 15 years;Paris Climate Accord, signed by every nation including China and Russia; getting sanctions against Russia thru EU and then getting them renewed, re Ukraine; flying for 17 months daily against ISIL,killing their CFO and burning his stored 800 million bucks, bombing the sh*t out of their oil fields; killing the top two Taliban generals in Afghanistan recently; Ebola; My Brother's Keeper Initiative; getting the troops out of Iraq in 2011, properly because there was no Status of Forces Agreement by al Maliki; let's not forget Osama, and for our Natick resident, last but not least, Obamacare.

In addition to an utter lack of interest and info, the 13 million are sooooooo angry that all these amazing things were accomplished, and by a young (thin)man of color. Supporters apparently rue the fact that a global economic collapse was averted, which didn't seem to alter their productivity returns. They're like the jihadis in that, can't make it in the real world, love guns and violence, but white. Just as hor*y tho.

And how about that DILLY bean, Tom Cotton? The ONUS is on him to prove that he got his RISE through the tea partiers, and not DNA from an ET.

Hartley70 8:23 PM  

@Nancy, thank you for that perfect explanation! You're a true pal It's swell to have someone who knows your foibles and likes you just the same. I promise that I have watched baseball as a true American should, but that terminology isn't in the 101 introductory level. I stopped paying close attention when I discovered I could have a tiny sip of my Dad's beer when he was engrossed in the Red Sox game. And no, it was not the road to perdition, thankfully.

I found @NCAPresident excellent today. I'm with @Oisk and one of my very favorite Sondheim melodies and lyrics is "Not While I'm Around" and it can surely bring on the dewy eyes in my case. Christine Ebersole does a good job with it.

@M Obama, you are the bomb today!

Nancy 8:34 PM  

Thanks to everyone who wrote such nice comments to me today: Mohair, Maldesmare, and Tita. With a special thank you to you, @Lewis. You should know that flattery will get you everywhere. :) I should fill you in a bit, however, about my FULL COUNT explanation to @Hartley: We're friends and she has often spoken to me candidly about her complete lack of knowledge about and interest in sports. So I was teasing her a little bit. Well, more than a little bit, actually. But, even so, I am quite touched by your comment.

NCA Pres -- Thanks for responding re Sondheim. (OISK, too) I agree S. can be cold, cerebral and cynical, but he had on occasion made me cry. "Sunday" in the 2nd Act of "Sunday in the Park" made me cry. "Send in the Clowns" makes me cry, but only when sung by Glynis Johns. However as far as crying over show songs goes, there are two that make me bawl every single time -- no matter how often I hear them: "Ol Man River" (from Show Boat)and "Oh, Lord, I'm On My Way" (from Porgy and Bess).

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

Nancy, I am the anonymous writer suggesting the Chromebook. I have many acquaintances who use their computer for very limited activities and are quite frustrated by all the other stuff they have to deal with. My wife is one of them and many of her friends. As noted above by another person, you need to have an Internet connection since it is essentially a dumb terminal that supports graphics and most of the functionality comes from the application to which it is connected: email, web, Facebook, etc.

John Hull

Mike 2:31 AM  

The strike zone isn't visible on the NYT iOS app so it wasn't until I pulled up the puzzle in Puzzazz that I had the aha moment, realizing the two strikes were inside the zone. That raised my opinion a bit higher.

spacecraft 11:04 AM  

IMLOVINIT every time you techie solvers get confused by a glitch in your non-paper grids. This wasted about half of today's entire blog volume. But of course, you fast-lane people can't wait till the paper comes out. You have to get the jump on things and pounce on the online version as soon as it appears; I'm guessing the night before. well, sometimes haste does make waste. I do NOT sympathize.

I started right off with a mistake, or what Bob Eucker would have called "Just a bit outside." Gimme NCIS left me with a 5-letter word for "Titled" starting with N: why, NOBLE, of course! I inked that in without the slightest fear that it might be wrong.


BALLINACUP? I picture a kid's beginner magic trick. But for dexterity??? Man, I never heard of such a thing. Thank goodness the crosses forced that one in.

Then came the SW corner, and that music thing ASSAI. This means very?? Silly me, I thought it was a tree. That second A was my last entry, when I finally was able to parse ATLAS. "Place setting?" is for sure NOT a Tuesday clue. OFL must have "not noticed" this one either, apparently knowing ASSAI.

So, not exactly easy for me. Much of it did go quickly, so I'll say easy-medium. I liked it; I thought it ASSAI clever. Nah, sorry, music guys, that just won't wash. VERY clever. There, that's better. You know, a baseball-related rating system sounds intriguing. I've been having some trouble with the golf one; a bit too restricting. Let's see: for today's, I wouldn't say he knocked it out of the park, but he smacked a solid stand-up double. BTW, I took note of the lagniappe ATBAT. For DOD there's TALIA; she'll do nicely.

Burma Shave 11:31 AM  


“IMLOVINIT, I can’t UNDO my NATURE to TICKLE him sweet,
it’s SOTRUE, for AREEL nobleman I’ll go ALLOUT, every OUNCE,
but no SKOR at my BALLJOINT with less than FULLCOUNTs.”


rondo 12:28 PM  

I’m ATBAT with the bases loaded, FULLCOUNT, no outs. Liner to third for one, steps on third for two, over to first for three and we’re ALLOUT. Triple play. SOTRUE, it happened to me. Play ball long enough and these situations will aRISE. So I didn’t cross-check today (except for ASH) and had Awake (up, right?) instead of ATBAT and had my inkfest in the NE. The rest was EZ.

I don’t hold my golf pencil behind my EAR. I put it in the holder thingamajig on the mini-clipboard for the card.

TALIA does get NAMED yeah baby today, not sure if BODACIOUS though. But I do remember that word from the Snuffy Smith strip in the Sunday comics. That and revenooers and flatlanders. Poor Weezy.

IMLOVINIT - I refuse to do any business with companies that use “love” in their ads, including McDonald’s, Subaru, and the others. Love has nothing to do with merchandise, but apparently much to do with merchandising. Don’t fall for it.

Remember when OMNI was a magazine? I spent a lot of time reading that one. Still remember an article re: homogeneous fields. Then experienced one that same evening. Talk about frequency illusion, or as we call it around here, "the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon". (The St. Paul Minnesota Pioneer Press online commenting board was the unlikely source of the name.)

Better than average for a Tues-puz, no ANIMUS here.

leftcoastTAM 1:05 PM  

A sunny day at the park where a BRIM may help in the field.

Strike zone and FULLCOUNT revealer needed no second-guessing. Clear BALLs and STRIKES together with ATBAT, OUT, YANKEE, and ERNIE Banks, Chicago Cubs STAR.

Add it ALL up and you have the SKOR.

A quick time-out in the SE with IOTA as "Skosh"(?) and ASSAI/ATLAS cross.

Good game.

leftcoastTAM 1:12 PM  

Oh, and just looked up OMNI hotels' associations with San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves organizations.

BS2 3:39 PM  

If you count the number of characters (no spaces) from the "I" in IMLOVINIT through the "s" in FULLCOUNTs you will find it is exactly 140 characters. From NORA's TWEET. I didn't want to run it all together.

Teedmn 12:01 AM  

@BS, I think you have created a new poetic form; add the tweemet to the sonnet, limerick and haiku.

kathy of the tower 1:43 AM  

@rondo: So glad you mentioned Baader-Meinhoff syndrome. Such n excellent descriptive phrase. I hadn't thought of it in a while.

I also enjoyed Vlad's comments.

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