Suffix with hater / THU 10-27-16 / Monster film hit of 1984 / Advice between buy sell / Sister publication of 16 Magazine / Some gold rush remnants / Suriname colonizer

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Constructor: Milo Beckman

Relative difficulty: Not sure ... Easy-Medium? (forgot to watch clock)

THEME: GHOST ___ — themers are phrases/words that start with "GHOST," but instead of "GHOST" being written in the grid, it is imagined as an adjective and then represented literally (i.e. everything following "GHOST" is not there). Downs only work with "ghosted" answer. But if you put the word in, the Downs are still real answers (just ... unclued)

Theme answers:
  • 22A: Like many celebrity memoirs ([ghost] WRITTEN) boo
  • 24A: Some gold rush remnants ([ghost] TOWNS) boo
  • 51A: Campfire entertainment ([ghost] STORIES]) boo!
  • 53A: Monster film hit of 1984 (["ghost]BUSTERS") 
Word of the Day: HaterADE (33D: Suffix with hater) —


Blend of hate or hater and Gatorade (a brand of sports drink)


haterade ‎(uncountable)
  1. (slang, often capitalized) Hatred, as a metaphorical beverage. (wiktionary)
• • •

This was interesting, but didn't really feel like a "crossword," in that the theme answers were not "crossed" at any point. You have to infer the ghostiness by the fact of blanks. There are no Downs to help, is what I'm saying. I guess the fact of blanks is functioning like the additional (i.e. "cross") information you'd get from a Down ... somehow? Also, with ghosts visible, Downs still make sense, but ... the puzzle can't really incorporate this fact in any interesting way, as those Nu-Downs remain unclued. You just have to ... notice that they are also words. In fact, they are almost always More word-like than the Downs that are clued. REGINAL, ugh. THR!? RNDS!? Oy. Good thing "GHOSTBUSTERS" was obvious from its clue (53A: Monster film hit of 1984). I was like "Oh, BUSTERS gets 'ghosted,' OK." Then I got the other "GHOST ___" answers, though GHOST TOWNS took me a few beats (24A: Some gold rush remnants). TOWN-as-"remnant" = pretty hard stretch.

Fill is pretty bad in lots of places, esp near middle, wow, oh wow, ouch. Almost every 3 in there is actively hurtful. Not sure why that had to be. I did like how fresh and current the puzzle felt. The constructor is quite young, so ... that probably has something to do with it. There's nothing in here an older person couldn't / wouldn't have put in his / her puzzle, but the up-to-date cluing and (especially) lack (mostly) of tired arcana was nice. This was creative. I enjoyed it. It was somewhat troubling in places but, I mean, it's HAUNTED, so ... maybe that's OK.

  • 37A: "Now I ain't sayin' ___ a gold digger" (Kanye West lyric) (SHE) — this made me literally LOL. Long way to go for SHE. "SHE" is also in the subsequent line of this song, but that line would never make it into a crossword clue. For ... reasons. Check the rhyme.
  • 58D: Early fifth-century year (CDI) — Ugh, the RRN (random Roman numeral). NOT COOL, man. NOT COOL.
  • 1A: Blu-ray ancestor (VCR) — "ancestor" made me laugh, but that was when I thought the answer was DVD. VCR still funny. Just not as.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:15 AM  

Would it kill you to put the positive thing first??

Mike in Mountain View 12:39 AM  

Loved the theme/concept. Thought it was cool that the downs worked both with and without the letters from the ghost crosses. Agree that some of the clued downs were junk, but thought that was a reasonable price to pay for a theme this clever.

Enjoyed it a lot.

jae 12:47 AM  

Easy once I figured out what was going on, which was fairly early, so easy-medium over all?

Clever, zippy, fun, liked it a bunch!

David W 12:53 AM  

Seriously, this was a great puzzle, featuring most of the things you've been complaining about for years, and you still rip it. Time to lighten up, Rex. It's entertainment.

Kid Ing 1:03 AM  

Almost a mini-theme, too. T-BAR, T-WIN, and T-HOR (could have been T-ROT with a little re-working, as HOR is as unacceptable a spelling as nan) are symmetrical in the grid with . . . DIET, which could have been T-ORT or T-HAT or T-WIT.

Maybe this would only have caused a problem, though. Rex would have ripped th puzzle for the non-symmetrically placed T-OWNS and T-EX (and for leaving out T-REX, of course).

John Child 1:08 AM  

For a while I thought the gimmick was in the top and bottom rows because all sorts of things that were obvious didn't fit. I moved to the center and found the reveal, was still puzzled about what ghosts and where they were, so just started chipping away at the short (and often icky) fill. I finally saw the trick and finished quickly.

Mr Beckman - fill and all other complaints completely forgiven. Very clever indeed. When I finished I said to myself, "Self, this is a Crossword Puzzle!" I bet I will still remember this next year at Halloween time and hope for something equally good.

For the holiday I recommend the bhut jolokia ghost pepper. Carefully...

Greg 1:11 AM  

Agreed that it was difficult until you figure out the gimmick, then very easy. Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle, though. Really a lot of fun.

Crane Poole 1:26 AM  

Concur! Enjoyable rooting out the thing-of-the-thing. All around good with the exception of not knowing TESSERA... so CROPTOP/CHOPTOP and 'inauguration V.I.P.' is PRES? I guess, though it seems obvious, assumed, redundant. I was looking elsewhere.

Unknown 1:43 AM  

Loved the Big Lebowski clue

Fabio K. Juliano 1:44 AM  

Reprehensibly bad puzzle. The ability to get a clue you don't know from the checks is a fundamental characteristic of crossword puzzles. In addition to that, the "ghost" clues are not that at all if you play the online, rather than the paper version, because you actually have to fill them in! Even by its own logic, this is a stupid idea stupidly done.

Unknown 1:55 AM  

Towns as remnants? Yes, that would be a terrible answer to the clue "Some gold rush remnants". Ghost Towns as the remnants, which is the actual answer? Brilliant. You get a big fat "F" on that one, Rex.

Anokha 2:05 AM  

The Kanye made me laugh -- a nice mix of clues!

ZenMonkey 2:12 AM  

The fill may have been bad but at least it helped me figure out what was going on. I thought it was clever and even elegant how the ghosted answers worked in the crosses. (I filled them in with the pencil tool for a nice effect.) I enjoyed figuring it out. To me bad fill is easily forgiven when the rest of the puzzle is so well done.

Larry Gilstrap 2:30 AM  

Guess I'm kinda used to thinking inside the box. I agree with OFL, crossword fill is derived from crosses. After a struggle, I conceded that the symmetrical "ghost" answers are to be left blank and feel HAUNTED by that. TELL ALL looked really good for 22A at first, but my eraser was still working at that time, so blank space it is.

When it was all said and done, I have to admire that the ghost crosses are actual words often seen in real puzzles, and, of course, the ghost phrases are real things, as well. Still, I feel a bit beat down by the whole experience, like the late BRITISH Princess SMARTLY sporting a CROP TOP and being lambasted for not being REGINAL.

On a positive note, I get to put some more ALES on my BAR tab.

Adam M 2:53 AM  

I liked the puzzle overall. CROPTOP, TEENBEAT, NOTCOOL, FAV, DUEDATE, and APTESTS helped to pitch the puzzle younger than usual.

That said, I found the theme kinda meh. I wanted different versions of "ghosts", e.g., PHANTOM (Menace) or SPIRIT (Airlines).

I liked the clue connecting Bill Whithers & Club Nouveau. While I appreciate Robyn Hitchcock, I think Rex should have linked to the Grammy-winning dance hit:

Two nitpicks:
(1) Even with the "V", I found 1-Across ambiguous among VCR, VHS, and VCD. And (2) I've never seen an airport screen with ARRS. ARR, yes. ARRIVALS most often. But never ARRS (or DEPS).

Anonymous 3:06 AM  

Great gimmick that outweighs any minor fill issues. A+

Loren Muse Smith 3:56 AM  

Rex – I liked seeing both grids. Thanks.

I agree that it's too bad that a remarkable aspect of this (that the words crossing the TOWN, WRITTEN, STORY, and BUSTERS are other viable words with the letters actually filled in) is not spotlighted. It would've been cool to clue both words so that one of them would have been a true cross. PRES and PRESS are both parts of an inauguration, but aside from two places maybe (HOLLAND and HOLY LAND (!!)), it just wouldn't really work.

This was extremely tough for me until I figured out the trick. I sensed very early on that we were gonna be leaving some squares blank. GOUT was my first inkling.

Hey – if you're going to have an RRN, cross it with DATE.

I liked haterADE. We could call vodka taterade.

Rex, you said, "This was creative. I enjoyed it." Me, too.

@anon from yesterday – thanks for the heads-up on yesterday's WSJ. Now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout!

mathgent 5:29 AM  

In Jeff Chen, the young constructor says that he's making crosswords because he needs the money. I feel like sending the young guy a check if he has to work this hard to make three hundred bucks.

I was completely blown away by this puzzle. I put Xs in the squares for 22A, 24A, 51A, and 53A because the down words were too short. After I finished, I guessed the letters represented by the Xs, forgetting that these words were defined in the across clues.

Like many Patrick Berry creations, this is beyond being a puzzle. It's a work of art. Unquestionably an A.

Anonymous 5:46 AM  

@David Krost,

What you fail to appreciate is that "remnant" was a poor choice because it is literally defined as "a small remaining quantity of something." Now, while some ghost towns may certainly be small-ISH in size, there is nothing to say that they cannot also be (have been?) medium or large. Ghost status is simply not correlated with size. You may want to give Rex a re-grade here.

Lewis 7:03 AM  

Yes! A brilliant concept and execution, and a Thursday puzzle with an extra level to solve. So skillfully put together AND entertaining. My personal title for it -- Shades Of Brilliance. This is not a puzzle to take casually; it's one of the Special Ones. Bravo, Milo. Truly, this will haunt me in a wonderful way for a long time to come.

Unknown 7:07 AM  

Halloween coming a few days early to the New York Times crossword pages. Nice concept, @Milo Beckman, and thanks for the writeup, @Rex.

I'm writing from Washington, D.C. -- perhaps in another week and a half, some sizable portion of those who are stationed here will be giving up the GHOST.

As for the 36-Down clue, Sad.

Z 7:35 AM  

A fun solve.

In honor of all the HATERADE drinkers, some not Sam Cooke

Rhino 8:03 AM  

Loved it. Looooooooooooved it. If it were a girl and I were single I'd think about asking her out for coffee before chickening out and shuffling home alone. Best puzzle in months.


kitshef 8:30 AM  

Loved it. A theme that was utterly novel for me, and one where I had to sweat and strain and twice thought I would give up, but got there in the end.

Didn't even notice the fill issues (THR??) until reading @Rex - mind was on puzzling out the theme.

BUSTERS, a gimme for @Rex, was the last thing I filled in.

Turning HOLLAND into HOLYLAND was a neat one.

This is what Thursdays are all about.

Alysia 8:30 AM  

Way fun. Great way to start a Thursday.

One "but," though, and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. A blu-ray ancestor would be a VHS, right? A VCR is an ancestor of the blu-ray PLAYER.

This bugged me. A lot.

Liked gold rush, gold digger, MINER. It's like a little northern hemisphere sub-theme.

chefbea 8:31 AM  

Toughest puzzle ever!!! Could not figure it out even after googling a bit. Had to come here

Bobby G 8:36 AM  

Incredible Thursday puzzle. I totally disagree with the complaint about the crosses not getting help from the downs. And I also thought "Some gold rush remnants" was a fine clue for [ghost] TOWNS. @anonymous I did not think that this logically implies all ghost towns are small. (Although my mental image of a ghost town is of a small one!)

Unknown 8:45 AM  

Since everyone reading this is already "on" to today's trick from @Milo Beckman, another example that coms to mind is this coffee mug puzzle by my friend @Chris Adams.

Another friend has a birthday today; find out who by solving here.

Tita 8:52 AM  

Put me in the loved it camp.

Even the clue for SST ese was terrific.
An early obsession with MC Escher made TESSERA a gimme. A good friend combined his stained glass hobby with his love of Escher, creating beautiful windows based on his art.

I also think doubling up on the theme clues would have been better, but as others have said, this is an out-of-box experience that we need more of.

Thanks, Mr. B.

RnRGhost 8:54 AM  

Nice season-appropriate puzzle.

@Rex, thanks for the Robyn Hitchcock cover of the Psychedelic Furs tune, of which I have very fond, and NSFW, memories.

Ben 8:57 AM  

I never would have gotten "haterade" (never heard the term) and I've never seen Ghostbusters so that and my lack of progress on the other "fill" pretty much ruled this one out for me. Guess as an old Old English speaker my crossword days are over (before they really much started) although I admit I gave up fairly early on.

Lobster11 9:04 AM  

I don't think I've ever loved and hated a puzzle simultaneously as much as this one. The theme was clever and I really enjoyed sussing it out. At the same time, most of that joy got sucked right back out of me by the relentless parade of 3s, made worse by the fact that so many were abbreviations. DNF because of the gawd-awful DAR/ADE cross.

Sir Hillary 9:05 AM  

I was slow to catch on to the full brilliance of this puzzle. I figured out all the "Ghost..." answers pretty quickly and just solved around them, leaving them blank. When I was done, I was quite underwhelmed -- there seemed to be "no there there". But then I wrote in the "Ghost..." answers and realized that new down words were formed. That OHO moment completely changed my mind. Count me a huge fan of this one -- thanks, Mr. Beckman!

Mr. Benson 9:14 AM  

"There are no Downs to help, is what I'm saying."

I disagree with that. As you've pointed out, "the Downs are still real answers." Having realized that, I used that to test my crossing down entries, asking if that's actually a thing. It's not that "you just have to ... notice that they are also words." It helped me solve the puzzle in a big way.

Really liked this one.

Unknown 9:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jberg 9:23 AM  

HOR = "opposite of vert"

jberg 9:28 AM  

Thank God for those 3s--I'd never have finished without them!

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

The crosses are not clued because they are "ghosts". Get It?

jberg 9:32 AM  

I failed to notice that they were real words--very nice! Other than that, and wanting an open tab at that bar, my main problem was looking for ghost as a rebus, rather than an absence--so challenging for me.

Nice work, Milo Beckmann!

Sheik Yerbouti 9:36 AM  

Not sure why they didn't work in clues for the alternate downs. So 2D could have been "Package delivery person ... or a member of a royal court on Halloween." 3D could have been "Fit for a queen ... or a tournament round on Halloween." Or something like that. Maybe that would make it too easy. But it feels weird not to acknowledge the alternate downs at all.

Dorothy Biggs 9:37 AM  

I liked the puzzle and the theme. Yes, when you start to analyze the downs of the "ghost" acrosses things get a little wonky, but if you just accept that the downs result in actual (albeit random) words, then you can just shrug and go on.

RRN™...really, there oughta be a law.

Fish and chips are "BRITISH?" What if they are made and sold and consumed in Omaha? Having grown up in Omaha, I can pretty safely say there would be nothing "British" about fish and chips sold in Omaha.

I had Vhs before VCR.

Overall though, if I hold my head just right and try not to think about it too much, I liked the theme and the puzzle...would buy again.

Blue Stater 9:37 AM  

I just loathe exercises of this sort. This is not a crossword puzzle (as Rex rightly points out), but some other kind of entity. Spare us.

Whirred Whacks 9:43 AM  

I also liked this one very much. It's got the complexity of the Goldberg Variations! Way to go Milo.

Loved HATERADE. It made me think of that Bruce Haight ESTEE puzzle earlier in the summer in which Matt GAFFNEY and many commenters here were drinking HAIGHTERADE. :-)

Unknown 9:55 AM  

Milo here — seems like this puzzle falls in the "love it or hate it" category, which is to be expected for a theme like this. Glad to see some of you had an enjoyable solve, since I couldn't be sure what this would play like to someone who didn't know the gimmick going in.

To defend against the most common criticism: I hoped the double-duty Down answers, plus the fact that all themers start with GHOST, would take the place of the standard crosses in making sure there are no unchecked squares. I considered making the Down clues work with both answers ... but that quickly proved impossible!

More details on construction over at for anyone who's interested.

And @mathgent, I'll happily take that check! :)

Carola 10:13 AM  

I'm in the "loved it" column. After a good deal of floundering over the "there are too many spaces for the word" problem, I started working sysematically in the NE, to see which square I should skip, and through one of those occasional happy brain adjustments "saw" WRITTEN. That made it easy to go back to TOWNS and then to get BUSTERS and STORY. It was only after completing the puzzle that I noticed that the "new" Downs are also words. Genius. I love how they have an unclued GHOSTly presence. I'm still finding it a pleasure to go back and notice how they shape shift.

One do-over:tube TOP before CROP.
Not sure: did the GHOSTBUSTERS use a LASERGUN? I liked the cross of BRITISH and REGINAL and STORY x TALES.

@Milo, I marvel. Very very neat.

RooMonster 10:19 AM  

Hey All !
Very nifty puz. Was wondering about the proliferation of threes (there's 28 of them, way high) until I figured out the theme, which must've been a bear to construct, as not only do you have "ghosted" Acrosses, but Milo decided to make all the crossing Downs words with and without the "ghosts". Man. My hats off to you. Only nit (of course, there's one! :-P ) is THR. And its clue. Yeesh. But, considering all the hard work, I'll let it slide.

I lightly wrote in the "ghosts", and was way surprised and AHAed when I realized the corresponding Downs made other actual words. Tres COOL. And a central revealer. SMARTLY done. If he's in it for the money, then he might be rolling in it soon if all his puzs are this good. Thankfully, I'm not in it for the money, cause I'd be on the streets right now! I just want a puz published, for the praise or thrashing it would get! :-)

No STRIKES on this puz, neat to figure out, relatively non-brain draining.

Pirates coming to port? ARRS

evil doug 10:23 AM  

I was thrilled just to finish with the blanks in place; I wouldn't have bothered to check those bonus down words without coming here, so kind of a waste.

NWA: Well, that's one way to sneak in the N word....

Compare "Now I ain't sayin' she a gold digger" and "Lean On Me", and that pretty well summarizes the sad descent of classic soul music into the depths of dumbness....

Nice trivia on the Beatles.

kitshef 10:27 AM  

@Milo - I was hoping you would check in, given how many people loved your puzzle. I don't know if you read these blog comments regularly, but we can be a fairly picky bunch. The amount of praise here is unusual, and you should feel good about it.

Nancy 10:29 AM  

One of the most original, fiendish, and brilliant puzzles I've ever done! I absolutely loved it. Unlike most rebus puzzles, this seemed to have too many spaces, rather than too few spaces for certain answers that seemed obvious. And it seemed like many more than "four answers", as indicated in the revealer, were affected. And so I struggled to understand what was going on. And I suffered. Oh, yes, I really suffered. And then, Bingo! I saw it! And after that, everything got really easy, as so many others here have said. But, oh, that "Aha" moment! Worth its weight in gold. Worth every piece of ore in that GHOST TOWN. What a treat.

Jamie C 10:30 AM  

There is a mistake in the puzzle. The answer to 43a should clearly be PATRICK.

Blog Goliard 10:32 AM  

Loved the theme/gimmick. Rex's complaints about the fill are well-founded though. The former outweighed the latter for me personally; I had a good time with this one.

I do strenuously object to 1 Across, however, which caused me to be hamstrung in the NW for far too long.

Blu-Ray is a format. ("Soon to be released on Blu-Ray.") A VCR is a piece of equipment. ("I never did learn to program my VCR.")

The only truly valid three-letter answers for that clue as written were DVD and VHS. The time I spent racking my brain to make one or the other of them work was the one part of this puzzle that was highly frustrating in a not-fun way.

Blog Goliard 10:35 AM  

But again, the frustratingness of everything coming out wrong until I got the theme trick...that part was really fun!

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:39 AM  

Fish and chipos being BRITISH makes no sense to me whatsoever. They have, oh, shoes in Britain. We have 'em here too. IT's not like they call it something different there. Telly vs. tv.

And who says ONE happy new year?

Nancy 10:44 AM  

@Greater Fall River: It's the ball falling in Times Square: ..."three, two, ONE, HAPPY NEW YEAR!"

Herbbob 10:45 AM  


GILL I. 10:46 AM  

I'm on the fence with this one. Like @Lobster I had a love/hate relationship going. The VCR start and the RDS ending made me think this was pretty GHOSTLY. Then I saw THR and I almost threw in my FINI hat. Well, I kept on going and figured out that I had to leave some blanks. OK, where do I do that? OK, got it! Did I like this?..not sure. I come here and read everyone and most thought it brilliant. Not I, at first. Now I look at it a bit and enjoy it some more. Maybe by the end of the day I will think it's brilliant as well.
Oh, I had HES a gold digger before SHE and silly me I had TEX in FLA.....!

webwinger 10:48 AM  

Agree there is much to admire here, but not a fun solve for me. Took a long time to get the gimmick, which then came as more an "oh?" than "aha!" moment. Overall youthfulness was welcome but added to my difficulty. Feared it might end my 100+ OG* streak, but ended up finishing with almost twice normal time. (*Open Google.)

AliasZ 10:54 AM  

This was one nifty, now-you-see-it-now-you-don't ghost puzzle. Excellent work, Milo. The best part was, it avoided the repetition of the word GHOST by making the nouns of the theme phrases act as ghosts themselves.

True, the tremendous pressure of such a difficult theme to execute resulted in a smattering of AMU, ARD, THR, NWA, ISWAR, RDS and RNDS, but it is understandable, and acceptable given the end result.

I am with @John Child, @Lewis, @WhWh et al., this will be remembered at least until next Halloween, the first day of Allhallowtide, the triduum (three-day observation) of All Saints' Eve, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day, Oct. 31 through Nov. 2.

No Sorcerer's Apprentice or Night on the Bald Mountain or other similar spooky-scary music today. Instead, let's listen to perhaps the most evocative sound painting ever: a disappearing cathedral.

QuasiMojo 11:07 AM  

It took me far longer than I'd like to admit to complete this spooky puzzler as I automatically put in "Ghosted" rather than "Written" since that is how a lot of publishers describe it when a book or article is written by another author without his name being used. I know since I've been a ghost writer a few times. That slowed me up considerably from getting the theme or many of the other answers. I also struggled with British as an answer for Fish and chips, even though it was my first thought, since I eat it often here on this side of the Pond. All in all a grueling but fun ride. I can't carp at it too much considering it forced me finally to "give up the ghost."

Unknown 11:14 AM  

This puzzle had ambition!

I was groaning early because of all the abbreviations, but sussing out the trick turned my frown upside down. Having the down answers work both with and without the ghost letters impressed me greatly.

HOL(Y)LAND is easily my favorite entry in this puzzle, and I liked the Big Lebowski and Kanye clues.

An YVES Saint Laurent exhibit just opened at The Seattle Art Museum. I saw it last Friday and enjoyed it, despite my general ignorance of the world of fashion.

Knowing Minor League baseball teams is one of my nerdy superpowers, so the TRENTON Thunder was a gimme. Not crazy about the name—thumbs down on using weather phenomena as a mascot, thumbs down on the non-alliterative T's. Let's check Trenton's history ... previous names include the Giants, Packers, Senators, and Tigers. Pretty darn generic.

@Mr. Benson - I agree with you that having the downs pull double-duty helps check those squares. I put that knowledge to work in the NW with COUR(T)IER and REGI(O)NAL.

Hartley70 11:20 AM  

Oh Brother! Milo must be sporting horns and a tail this Halloween because this was a devilish Thursday.

I spent too much time trying to use a rebus here because I knew immediately the letter counts were off. To add to the fun you had to actually enter the ghost words using the app. This confused me mightily because a rebus GHOST wouldn't work, obviously. I was stymied going across and down. Exquisite torture!

Of course, I loved it. This is why God (WS) and the NYT created Thursday. Bring it on, Milo! It's a masterpiece.

Hartley70 11:31 AM  

@Greater Fall River, but they do "call it something different". They call them chips; we call them french fries. We call them chips; they call them crisps. When we have fish and chips here, we are using the BRITISH name for the dish.

AskGina 11:33 AM  

Oh, I'm disappointed. I thought there might be a sexist companion piece to yesterday's debacle. Like, "Men drop your trou" "Pull out sex object" "Show inch by inch" (name the parts), with the reveal, Use your body to show me you're serious about the deal. Not blatant orange hair sexism, but... no wait, of course it's blatant. Just too many letters.

old timer 11:46 AM  

DNF at the top of the NE. Because I spent over an hour trying to figure out why there were all those extra letters in the Downs. Finally filled in BUSTERS and realized that each letter in that word was to be ignored when answering the Downs. I had already wanted WRITTEN and changed what I had in the SE to STORY. And came here because I was sick of the puzzle. And if REGINAL is a word I'll eat my hat. It is not in my dictionary. I've never seen it used ever. And it it was used ever, the clue would have to be "queenly" not "fit for a queen" which suggests an object of clothing or regalia.

Oh well. I can explain a few things to the posterati, Fish and chips is BRITISH because that's where the dish originated, and more important, "chips" meaning French fries is only used in Britain, British-style pubs elsewhere, and when referring to "fish and chips" the dish.

And as someone just explained: THREE, TWO, ONE, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I think if I had gotten the gimmick quicker I would have enjoyed the clever cluing more. NAM, VERB, the aforementioned ONE, and the truly elegant unclued Downs -- well done, sir!

Mohair Sam 11:53 AM  

Oh yeah, this was good. The right season, the right day, and lots of fun. For those complaining that it was beyond the rules of a crossword puzzle - well most Thursday NYT puzzles are, you gotta be ready for that.

And as far as y'all mumbling about the threes: Fresh clues for ADE, VCR, SHE, END, ISH, MIC, and especially NAM. And I liked FAV, URL, and NWA. That doesn't leave too much 'ese.

We lost time finding the theme by doing the @Quasimojo thing and throwing in "ghosted" at 22A. @Rex made a great point that the puzzle skewed young while not leaving out the old farts (he may have phrased it differently) - no mean feat. I have no idea how I know TEENBEAT magazine exists, but I Do. Don't know Daniel TOSH nor CROPTOP, feared that he may be a TiSH, and the kids are wearing gangland CRiPTOPs - but CROP made sense and we guessed right.

@NCA Pres - French Fries may not be French, but fish and chips are British
as all hell - no matter where they're made. It's just hard a heck to find cod fat enough to make them as should be anymore.

Great fun Milo Beckman - keep 'em coming.

Masked and Anonymous 12:23 PM  

ghostthUmbsUp. (Didn't like it. Then liked it. Then didn't like it. Then sorta liked it.)

Didn't like it at first, cuz my NW answers would not fit. But at the same time liked the NW corner, cuz it had a weeject stack. Heck, all the corners, in fact!

Went lookin for the revealer. Filled in FINI/FLU/URL/AMU/DOM/OHO/NAM/TEX, which revealed the revealer to be: HAUNTED. Went back to the NW themer, and wrote in GHOSTTOWNS, rebus-style (after removin POTUS at 5-Down), two letters per square. Didn't like the puz any better, at that point.

Next, watched precious nanoseconds pour over the broken dam for quite a spell. Thought to self: I need to SHOW SOME BRAIN. Finally got up the nerve to try BRITISH, even tho M&A Brain knew of very very few TTTI? elements. But what the hey -- didn't know of many ?TTI? elements, either.

A deluge of stubborn nanoseconds later, got me my LEANONME/TIN Ahar Moment, and then I liked the puz a whole lot better. Adjusted GHOSTTOWNS rebus entry to just be TOWNS, circlin the letters in TOWNS, becuz they were actin spookily. Spooky is good. Also, my cinnamon roll digested better, knowin that "GHOST" ain't in the themer answer, since it was already hauntin the revealer's clue verse. Liked.

Realized suddenly that TOWNS was a buncha day-um unchecked squares. Didn't like. Mopped up the rest of the NW corner, while skippin TOWN(S), so to speak. Sat back and admired my hard-fought win over the NW Territory. Noticed that all the Down-answers thru TOWNS were still real words, but were clued by their ghostly counterparts' versions. Sorta liked. Them Down answers were sorta "ghost-checkable", even tho they were sans their "ghost clues". Creepy feelin. Could sorta learn to like creepy.

Finished up my ghost-chasin duties. Figured @RP would call this puppy "wobbly". He didn't, but his write-up kinda put out that vibe. Probably had a coupla pre-solve cocktails; evidenced by "forgot to watch clock" and his semi-mellow, encouragin tone, here and there. Liked. Nice bullets, also.

fave weeject: FAV. Lots of stronger-than-snot candidates to choose from today, tho. CDI. har.

Thanx, Mr. Beckman. Nice 4-corner weeject stacks (Quad-fecta). U think different. Definitely like.

Masked & Anonym007Us

Malsdemare 12:41 PM  

I thought it was terrific even though I DNFd at TOWNS. Just couldn't get past the notion that 21 down had to be ThIN. But that's okay 'cause I caught the trick with the reveal and had a great time then figuring out where all the ghosts were. Pretty disappointed when leaving the ghosts invisible didn't work, and then, of course, once I started filling in the ends, I saw that all those downs were REAL WORDS. OMG!! Now if I'd twigged to TOWNS, I'd be over the moon, but I'll take this one even with the fail.

I haven't been posting of late; one of my beuatiful mals was diagnosed with liver cancer and departed my world a week ago. He's more than welcome to haunt me; he was a sweetie, not scary at all, and I miss him like crazy.

Enough self-pity. Thanks Mr. beckman, for a ghostly distraction.

Maldemare (for a little while)

Teedmn 1:20 PM  

Har, revenge of the Runt - I had to laugh reading M&A's trek through the GHOST TOWNS here because I remember a certain Runt puzzle that fiendishly used a "kinda sorta" trick. I found this puzzle just as fun, but possibly less challenging due to the helpful revealer here.

On the other hand, I had an inexcusable DNF - 51A, I threw in SmORe as a campfire entertainment. I checked out 51D and realized that MOTE worked for the clue with SMOTE being the final word. I then knew I had to skip 51A to get the downs BUT I NEVER RE-READ THE CLUE FOR 51A TO SEE THE "GHOST" STORY - arghh. So I have marshmallow all over my chin after hearing the scary HOLeLAND STORY told at 38D. D'oh. So much for thinking myself clever.

And I had "tab" before MIC at 11A and "tube TOP" before CROP TOP at 15A but those were all fixed.

Loved the puzzle, Milo Beckman, nice work.

QuasiMojo 1:21 PM  

@Mohair, I used to read "TeenBeat" while watching "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" on TV, with Charles Nelson Reilly. :) I guess that makes me an "old fart." I liked your notion of a "Crip Top" -- I too have never heard of a crop top. We've come a long way (baby?) from the days when Barbara Eden could not show her navel on TV.

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

Oh, stop kvetching.

Happy Pencil 1:34 PM  

Great puzzle, and I agree with all those who said it was challenging until you got the gimmick and then easy after that. A satisfying aha moment and a concept I've never seen before combine to excuse the suboptimal fill, in my book. (Although I must say that when I initially failed to get the happy pencil, I was convinced that THR was the problem. Turns out I had a LASERGoN -- a little-known geometric shape -- in the grid. So lost some time finding and then fixing that, but no biggie.)

An expected bonus of today is that the guy who just had to be the first to post had nothing to offer to the discussion but a complaint that Rex shouldn't have opened with a complaint. Priceless!

Glad to see the constructor drop by. It seems like only a very small handful of people didn't like this, so he should be feeling good. It can't be easy to come up with a totally original concept that works within the very strict parameters of a crossword puzzle!

Geophany 1:45 PM  

Very fun and lighthearted! Especially liked Big Lebowski and Kanye clues.

Fred Romagnolo 1:51 PM  

If spaghetti is Italian, no matter where it's made or eaten, then fish and chips are DEFINITELY English. So is Yorkshire pudding.

Hungry Mother 1:53 PM  

Lots of fun figuring out how the theme worked and then Thursdayish to finish it up.

seanm 2:14 PM  

overall i really liked it, picked up the general idea of skipped letters early at ACTI and PRES, figured it out when i got to the revealer. was on pace for record thursday time but then got stuck in the NW, which took me longer than the rest of the puzzle combined (33 overall, was at 15 when i got back to that section).

my biggest problem was trying to decide whether it was DVD or VHS. and i couldn't get anything to work on the downs (especially since i first had ENGLISH). when i figured out VERB and BRITISH, i thought for sure it's VHS and then spent a lot more time getting nowhere. honestly i think that clue isn't very accurate for VCR. blu-ray is a format. VHS is the format. VCR is the player.

but anyway, besides some questionable fill, overall i thought this was an A

JMajers 2:20 PM  

I'm with you 100% on VCR/VHS. Glad to know I'm not alone.

Masked and Anonymous 2:45 PM  


@Malsdemare: Sure real sorry about yer dog. Dogs are just plain the best.

NWA. … as in: nwa-har-har. [Haunted Weeject of the Day winner.]

Was especially gratifyin, that the puz had a ghost-U in it. ARRS called, and requests a reverse-exorcism, btw.

After readin everyone's excellent Comment Gallery prose, and after a complete M&A Help Desk review of unusually pleasin "Show Some Desperation" grid-demons, I am inclined to give this here puz a slightly higher mark: trick&treatthUmbsUp. Ghost-THR was extra-primo, in this regard. Ghost-REGINAL also had a pleasin lack of M&A Reeference Dictionary backup. The DAR/ARD tins also gave m&e an enjoyable snort.

And I would echo many here, that the the clues were pretty darn interestin, yet mostly real fair. That 4-Across clue still haunts the M&A, tho. Actually, that whole APTESTS/CROPTOP/TESSERA father/son/holyghost dealie was a frightenin experience. Fortunately, knew TESSERA from a recent runtpuz. Revenge of the runt, indeed, @Teedmn.

Man, this puz sure had lots of great stuff in it; M&A could almost go full novel-length, crankin out comments. But then, poor auto-correct would probably blow out a hernia. [Sorry, didn't mean to scare y'all.]



Anonymous 2:56 PM  


Since you brought up 'dropping trou' etc, I had meant to post yesterday my solving experience for Wednesday's puzzle.

Since 'Fast Times' school was a BFG (big fat gimme), and I was working bottom up shortly after that, I was absolutely astonished when the revealer (figuratively and literally) was building slowly to 'SHOWSOME____', and I though to myself 'SKIN' - really, in the NYT?!?!

Thankfully, it was not really SKIN. Wonder if any others channeling their inner teenage boy had these thoughts.


Numinous 3:08 PM  

(GHOST)TOWNS shoulda been a gimmie for any of you left coasters. They are a major feature of California in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and in the deserts. Columbia, just a few miles NW of Sonora, is a very popular one. There is even a saloon there that sells sasparilla. Not sure if you can open a tab or even buy ALES there

Big DNF for me today. I do have an excuse though. The whole time I was trying to solve I was being interrupted by roommates and ex roommate wanting this or that or just creating a bit of drama. Usually the folks around here respect my morning quiet time while I drink my coffee and solve the puzz.

@Malsdemare, I'm very sorry for your loss.

Looking at this puzzle I realize how clever it is and admire it. I was frustrated by the extra squares but finally figured out that there were four rows that had to be left blank. After seeing the ghosted words I realized the downs with the extra letters were words too.

I'm sure there was a puzzle that had words that did double duty like these did. It may have even been another Thursday in the not terribly recent past. Anyway, I think this was a really good puzzle, probably the real POW. I would have loved this had I not been pissed off at the world around me and given up.

Tom 3:10 PM  

Liked it a lot. Clever. As to Blue Stater, this is what Thursdays are all about. "Not a Crossword"? C'mon, man! (MNF reference)

Keep 'em coming, Milo. Don't listen to the ones who are drinking the HaterADE.

Hartley70 3:22 PM  

@Maldemare, you have my sympathy. It's a miserable loss.

Nancy 3:37 PM  

@Malsdemare -- I am sure they are THE most wonderful dogs, because they absolutely have the sweetest imaginable faces. When I wrote last week that I had grown enormously fond of all the avatar dogs on the blog, yours was one of the ones I was most certainly thinking of. That smile -- that wonderfully infectious smile! Please accept my deepest sympathy for your loss. I am so very sorry to learn of it.

da kine 5:12 PM  

A young cruciverbalist constructs a brilliant puzzle with modern cluing (including rap lyrics) and a new take on this old hobby of ours...time for Rex to get all grumpy and poop on it! Well, at least nobody was offended. Has anyone asked the college person who writes on some Mondays if she was offended? I'm not sure what to feel until I get her take on the sitch.

Rob 5:13 PM  

Quite liked the puzzle, but I almost wish they *didn't* make real words with the "ghost" words written in. It felt more elegant, somehow, before I realized I had to fill them in for the website to count me as finished. I spent a few minutes trying to find my typo before I realized I was supposed to actually enter those words.

Some really miserable fill for sure. THR, ARD, DAR, and so on. The Kanye cluing made me cringe, and I'm a Young Person by crossword standards. But I had fun with the theme.

Malsdemare 6:45 PM  

@Hartley, Nancy, Numinous, M&A, and all, thanks for the kind words. Nancy, Sam was/is my avatar; a former show dog, he was even more impressive in the "fur." He was a therapy dog and among his many clients were several thousand University of Illinois students who sought him out at the library for stress relief at exam time. That photo was used for the library promotions. I think at least a thousand college students have pictures of him on their phones. They'd take out their cells, and he'd POSE! Hysterical!

I too am glad Milo showed up to see all the kudos. It was a fun puzzle.

Annette 8:19 PM  

Couldn't finish it, couldn't suss it out, all the while knowing it was absolutely brilliant. A standing ovation.

Cassieopia 8:55 PM  

Also in the "loved it!" column. I knew something was going on when my downs didn't fit, and with HAUNTED, I played around a bit with ghostly sounds such as STEEeD and TIiN (you have to say those with an ascending then descending tone - it works, kinda, ISH, you just have to imagine an unusual ghost...). It was (ghost) WRITTEN which finally flipped my thinking and the rest of the puzzle fell delightfully into place. Really, REALLY creative and I loved The Big Lebowski and Bill Withers references. Lean On Me is one of my favorite songs evah.

Thank you Mr Beckman!!!

Unknown 10:00 PM  

Fantastic puzzle. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Bravo!

OISK 10:52 PM  

I'm a late addition to the "loved it" club. Knowing immediately that element number 50 is tin, I knew there were missing squares, and saw the gimmick fairly quickly. Had to guess to get croptop and tosh. The world's most dangerous group? NWA? My objection to clues like this one isn't so much that hip-hop is as foreign to me as Urdu, it is that any one of those letters could be any letter at all. But the down clues were all clear, so no Naticks. There was also a Beatle song I've never heard of, a magazine completely unfamiliar to me, never heard of Bill Withers nor Club Nouveau, and using a Kanye West lyric to clue "She" would not be my preference! But this puzzle was so brilliant that it didn't matter.

Tommy B. 11:17 PM  

Totally agree. This made no sense at all. That, for instance, ghost written is supposed to rendered as blank makes no sense -- sure, the "ghost" is invisible but there's no
Logical reason the rest of it would be. Hated it.

Unknown 12:48 AM  

@Anonymous 5:46 AM

Your comment:

"What you fail to appreciate is that "remnant" was a poor choice because it is literally defined as "a small remaining quantity of something." Now, while some ghost towns may certainly be small-ISH in size, there is nothing to say that they cannot also be (have been?) medium or large. Ghost status is simply not correlated with size. You may want to give Rex a re-grade here."

is complete and utter idiocy. They are NOW ghost towns, which is the answer. It doesn't matter how big they were when they were active towns, since the clue is talking about the current state by using the term remnant. By definition, a ghost town is devoid of or very nearly devoid of people. So by population, they are absolutely a remnant of their gold rush days. And I will bet that by current standards you cannot find a ghost town that anyone would consider medium or large in any reasonable sense. My God, it is like having to explain to a third grader.

Rex still gets an F on that one.

Alysia 8:36 AM  

Thank you. My sentiments exactly (VHS vs VCR).

Unknown 8:54 AM  

Hear, hear!

Louise 4:30 PM  

I try to hold off as long as possible before I consult Rex on the puzzle, and I'd say to wait a day is average. The very Nugget of truth I sought was some explanation of how I didn't really get the theme all the way,because the themed answers, even while ghosted, still made authentic English words of the crossing down answers. Why? I don't know. Rex doesn't know. Nobody knows.

Randy 4:18 AM  

Between the Big Lebowski clue and Friday's Twin Peaks clue, it's been a good week for some of my pop culture favorites. Took me a while to get the trick, then it was pretty breezy.

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rondo 10:36 AM  

I get it, and got it. The NYT has “the best word puzzles on the planet”. Not strictly a “crossword”, apparently. I generally dislike Thursdays, and having blank/not blank squares is worse than jamming in multiple letters, IMHO. Damn near 30 three letter answers – more than 30 when taking the ghost answers out, and most of those threes were junk. ACTIN is acceptable when adding the ghost letter? Sheesh. How anyone would call this brilliant or love it is beyond me.

Someone tell me how EPS are “short” records. Yeah, shorter than LPS, but the abbr. is for “extended play” which by definition is not “short”. Short records would be 45s.

All that crap and nary a yeah baby. NOTCOOL. Don’t think I’ve disliked a puz all year more than this ONE.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

A new low. Unfair, not fun in the slightest. Rejected.

spacecraft 11:47 AM  

Yikes, from Monday to Saturday in 24 hours! My brain suffered from the jet lag. I got nuthin'. A little patch in the eastern half of the center, and DOM, and YVES. That's what I got. On my grid, ALL the rest of it is one big "ghost." One huge Dee En Eff. See ya tomorrow--if I come out of the time warp in one piece.

Burma Shave 12:16 PM  


“That CROPTOP is too SHORTFOR you”,


rain forest 3:01 PM  

It was the worst of times; it was the best of times - a tale of two solves.

There was a lot of staring at this puzzle, but I went for as many of the 3's that I could and got DAR, ARD,COX,TEX, (almost TIN,which I knew was element 50), FAV, HOLD, DOM, FLU, and DEL (I think that covers it). But then I wrote in "ghosted" at 22A, and was stumped. The NW was my saviour, when VERB became evident and then BRITISH (of course F&C is BRITISH). So TOWNS came, and I went and crossed out "ghosted" and entered WRITTEN.

Mostly medium the rest of the way, except for the central North, which for me was the hardest section.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one for all the reason mentioned above, and have no reason to focus on the 3's and abbrevs. A construction feat and a triumphant solve.

leftcoastTAM 5:13 PM  

Made it through the preliminaries on this one: ghost theme and how and where it worked. Symmetrical placements helped.

Then the top tier of the grid. Agonizing. NWA? EPS? VCR? Those were the worst. Nonetheless made it through--until hitting a familiar crash site, the far NW.

Cheated to get VCR, and still, even after reading Rex's and Bill Butler's comments on it, don't get the "Blu-Ray ancestor" clue. Ancestor? What??


Diana,LIW 7:21 PM  

'K then, I loved it.

Got the joke at "ghost" writers.

@Rondo - I dread Thursdays, but love it when I get them.

Got this.

Except I didn't write in the ghostless words. Loved it when I saw that they all created other words, even tho I didn't do that.

But I don't care. Why? I don't time, and don't care, at all, about winning. Only care about having fun with a puz. And I did.

The puzzle construction - genius.

My only quibble, and I haven't read all comments so this may have been said before, was that "ghost" should not have been in the revealer clue. Maybe "spirits." "Apparitions?" Some variant on "I see dead people..."

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 11:47 PM  

@leftcoast TAM I'm not defending anything, but I would say that my Blu-ray player took over from my VCR - both pieces of video equipment.

Sly 11:48 PM  

ugh, hated this one. This gimmick wasn't clever, it was just annoying. And some painful clues.

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