Popeye villain who sailed black barnacle / THU 11-17-16 / Work not of buffa style / Longtime home of Tappet Brothers / Video game featuring archaeologist heroine / Tree frog with distinctive call / One of eggs used in this 1986 film is now exhibited in Smithsonian / Insect with multi-queen colonies

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Constructor: Timothy Polin and Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

[.puz version of this puzzle had the following note:]

THEME: King TUT's tomb, I think (28A: King of the 18th dynasty) — you've got his name there in the center and then his MUMMY there entombed in that black-square pyramid structure at the bottom, and then you've also got a handful of theme-word-containing answers (one Across, two Down):

 Theme answers:
  • PYRAMID SCHEME (17A: Common scam)
  • TOMB RAIDER (21D: Video game featuring an archaeologist heroine)
  • PHARAOH ANT (23D: Insect with multi-queen colonies)
Word of the Day: PHARAOH ANT
The pharaoh ant (Monomorium pharaonis) is a small (2 mm) yellow or light brown, almost transparent ant notorious for being a major indoor nuisance pest, especially in hospitals. The pharaoh ant, whose origins are unknown, has now been introduced to virtually every area of the world, including Europe, the Americas, Australasia and Southeast Asia. This species is polygynous, meaning each colony contains many queens, leading to unique caste interactions and colony dynamics. This also allows the colony to fragment into bud colonies quickly. Colonies do not display aggression toward each other; this is known as unicoloniality. Monomorium pharaonis is also notable for its complex foraging system, involving intricate trail routes maintained with several pheromones. It was the first ant species discovered to use a negative (repellant) pheromone. These chemicals are integral for communication in this species. Pharaoh ants are a tropical species, but they thrive in buildings almost anywhere, even in temperate regions provided central heating is present. (wikipedia)

• • •

I admire the ambition here. Was just talking with a constructor about the strengths and weaknesses of crossword conventions—particularly having to do with grid size, shape, symmetry—and how newspapers are limited (in practice, anyway) by physical space. The grid has to occupy just so much space in the paper, and has to be a certain shape (square or close to square) in order to fill that space neatly. Digital delivery (with the puzzle freed from the tyranny of newsprint) has made it possible to be far more creative; and yet, because of the strong force of habit, even indie, non-newspaper crosswords distributed solely in digital formats tend to conform pretty strictly to print-bound conventions when it comes to size and shape. Conventions give an art its form, its contours—they make it visible and understandable as a Thing—but they set limits, the usefulness of which be, well, limited. Which brings me back to this puzzle, and the fact that I wish it were shaped like a pyramid instead of a moth.

The pyramid effect is expressed neatly enough in those lower black squares, but nothing about the rest of the grid really screams or even whispers "pyramid" (feel free to walk up to random people today and whisper "pyramid" in their ear, spookily—call it "the pyramid challenge," film it, it'll be great). Full-blown pyramid woulda been cool—semi-pyramid with antennae, less ... evocative. But the concept, I still dig. And it played like a pretty clean and interesting Friday, and who doesn't like that? I will say that the meta was a little too easy to get. Would've been cool if figuring out MUMMY involved something more complicated / clever than just plugging in letters that correspond with numbers in the grid. But I'm spoiled by my regular solving of killer metas by the likes of Matt Gaffney, Erik Agard, Francis Heaney, so my standards are perhaps unreasonably high on that count. Enjoyment was had. By me. Passive voice!

Had trouble raiding this tomb, at the outset, because I briefly blanked on ALBOM and briefly blanked on when Passover is (I wrote AUG—?!), and then PEEPER (11A: Tree frog with a distinctive call) I wanted to be PEWPEW (*much* more "distinctive call," PEEPER—you might wanna look into it), and once LIFT got into my brain for 2D: Get off the ground? (LEAP), it didn't want to leave. Not sure why that clue has a "?"—it's pretty literal, although, OK, I guess when your clue is a phrase commonly used as a metaphor and you want us to take it literally, sure, "?" No problem. After I got the NW sorted, I tore through the rest with no issues. Briefly couldn't remember if it was LSATS or PSATS, briefly didn't believe RASTAMAN was serious (27D: Dreaded guy?). Nothing else provided much resistance. Ominous to have LITHUANIA (26D: Eurozone member beginning n 2015) next to LAST-GASP (32D: Done in desperation), considering the current political climate, but as crossword answers, that juxtaposition is very pleasing. The end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


ZenMonkey 6:04 AM  

Agree about the top half, but still this was great fun. Put "King TUT" in my head while crossing TOMB RAIDER and ALIENS, and this nerd is happy. I stink at metas so it was nice to not feel like an idiot for once. But I don't really get what the meta is doing there other than being part of the illustration. I mean what has replacing numbers with letters got to do with pyramids or pharaohs? (It is rather Lara Croftian to have to solve a cipher before finding the treasure, perhaps.)

But really, I'm impressed with the construction especially with all the long answers. My best error was TOTES for TETES before I got SERIO, thinking that I guess tote bags often have nice sayings on them? Then the pun hit and it all fell into place. More Thursday's like this one please.

eric 6:30 AM  

Had RASPUTIN for RASTAMAN for too long. Ack

Bageleater 6:30 AM  

I was sure that "get off the ground" was REAP. I mean, ARBOM is as plausible as ALBOM as a name, isn't it? Also, ABBA as a Coptic cleric instead of a Swedish pop group? Crazy!

Dolgo 6:39 AM  

Okay, okay, already. Now that you sort of explained it (?), I guess I get the theme. And it certainly is original and clever-- perhaps overly so. I think in a good themed puzzle the theme gradually reveals itself. I don't think you should still have to be scratching your head at the end for awhile before you finally get it. Also, I hope I'm not whining when I say that all too many of these clues were somewhat painfully a bit beyond everyday logic.

Loren Muse Smith 6:41 AM  

Aw man – I finally gave up figuring out the unchecked letters. I went back and filled in the little numbers that the note gave us, but I failed to make the "50" already printed there in the first square on my AcrossLite grid into a "5." So I just couldn't figure it out. I was focusing on the entire entries/meanings of the 29, 47, etc. Shoot.

I was desperate – even going so far as to add the numbers together and picture the little numbers in Roman numerals (L, XI, XI, VII, VII). Dumb. Then I tried to make the entries into a message: "__?__ youse mad at music/mags? Yell out!" Dumber. All this time I kept revisiting all those S's going up and down the pyramid, suspicious. O. Ver. Think. Ing, Since today's write-up wasn't there yet, I finally threw in the towel and checked XWord Info.

So not seeing MUMMY, I was focused on the PYRAMID SCHEME, LOOTERS, LAWBREAKERS, TORTS, STRAP, CAGE UP, PLEA. Hey, Madoff. How's jail treatin' ya there, buddy?

Now that I see the trick, I'm really, really impressed.

Rex - If 16D had been "psats" then we would have had RARE GAS POOTERS going across the top. Helloooo, Thanksgiving dinner.

I loved the clue for MUSIC – sensual pleasure without vice. Before I got it, I sat and thought about possibilities. Mine would be Rice Krispy treats, but even they turned into a bit of a vice when I started eating two every day after lunch, each the size of a cigar box.

Elegant to have LAST GASP over there going down at the end, as it were.

Timothy, Joe – Bravo. I’ll remember this one for a long time!

John Child 6:53 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Child 6:54 AM  

Oh @Loren, always a pleasure to read your comments.

I didn't see TOMB and PHARAOH as theme answers, though PYRAMID SCHEME stuck early. I too wish the meta was harder, but this was fun anyway. DNF at ABBe and OPERASERIe, both of which looked fine.

RASTAMAN vibration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws6zCW6zXAM

Lewis 7:12 AM  

@eric -- Hand up for "Rasputin" at first.
@lms -- RAREGASPOOTERS! Priceless!

This puzzle only had four double letters (under five is extremely rare, hardly ever happens) but with 57 blocks (!), this can't be counted as a normal grid, obviating the double letter count. So deems your resident alphadoppeltotter.

Bottom line to a puzzle for me is: How was the solve? There was great pleasure in seeing and working within the out-of-the-box grid (that out-of-the-boxness is ironic, by the way, in a puzzle about a MUMMY), and the solve? With no irony whatsoever, for me, the fun was out-of-the-park!

Passing Shot 7:17 AM  

Zipped through the bottom half on record time; the top was a bit chewier. WATERMAINS crossing with STIHL held me up -- I was stuck on WATERhoseS. Shouldn't TETES have been given an "Fr" to indicate French?

Pretty easy for a Thursday, and enjoyable.

Sydney 7:23 AM  

In the online version, there were no little numbers. We were just instructed to see Notepad. I had no idea what that meant. I tried Egypt, and when that didn't work, I gave up. Notepad? How do I see Notepad?

kitshef 7:24 AM  

I considered LOOTERS to be a themer.

A very strange, and strangely unsatisfying, Thursday puzzle. Probably one that was a lot of fun to make, with all they pyramids in the grid, but not so much fun to solve. In particular, the ‘reveal’ on MUMMY was so mundane, so straightforward, that it added nothing to the puzzle.

I say this will all due credit to the neat-o stuff herein. PEEPER, PYRAMID SCHEME, LAWBREAKERS, TABLE LAMP, TOMB RAIDER, MEGAWATTS, WATER MAINS, PHARAOH ANT, LITHUANIA. Fantastic.

Most of the cluing, though, was too plain. Clue for TETE and TEA BAGS excepted.

mathgent 7:35 AM  

@eric (6:30): Me too. "Rasputin" fit with "puppets," which I had instead if TEABAGS.

I've been attempting the metas in the Friday WSJ. They are devilishly difficult. I only get the easiest ones. So, like Rex, I was expecting something less obvious than simply putting in the first letter.

I think that it is an excellent puzzle. I learned a few things, no junk, some bright entries, well-executed theme. A minus.

Irene 7:35 AM  

My first response was that it was a caricature of Trump and that those outtake squares would be his name.
So glad to realize it was a happier theme. Thank you Dr. Johnson.

Unknown 7:58 AM  

It's seria.

Dorothy Biggs 8:11 AM  

I also had RASputiN, but only under protest. I wanted RASTA...and just didn't think RASTAMAN was a thing. Having spent a wee bit of time in Jamaica, I would have thought "Rasta, Mon!" would have man more sense. But RASTAMAN sounds like a comic book character to me.

I was very surprised to see Rex liked the theme. I thought filling in MUMMY was a little like an exercise in connect the dots. Maybe it was a shout out to my favorite Christmas movie, "A Christmas Story," where Ralphie gets his decoder ring and spells out, "Remember to eat your Ovaltine!" And while there was no decoder ring and the word was only 5 letters long, the payoff was about the same. Mummy? Just a cruddy mummy "caged" in the vague outline of a pyramid? Either that is one very small pyramid for the size of that mummy, or the mummy is 'uge!

TABLELAMP couldn't be more boring. Table. Lamp. I had zOmbieS before LOOTERS...my answer is a lot better, even if I do say so myself. Also had "hADiT" for 47A (Fed up).

Finally, soundmen hate it when you tap on a mike. You can talk into it (Test, test, check, test, etc.) or you can, if necessary, scratch it so that the sound guy can see that there is signal coming down the line. But don't TAP it. Yeah, I know...it's a trope that comedians or people in movies tap on a mike and then it instantly feeds back. It doesn't happen like that in real life...and don't tap the mike!

Source: I tapped the mike early on in my career and was told to never. tap. the. mike.

PS: It's "mike," not "mic." (But then it's "naan" too, and that doesn't seem to matter to xword world...so I guess there's that.)

Hartley70 8:11 AM  

This is even cuter than yesterday's puzzle in a ghoulish sort of way. The mummy in the pyramid tomb is a hoot. Add in the other themers and this puzzle tickles my fancy. I included LOOTERS in my list of themers. I imagine that through the centuries they've stolen the gold and left many mummies to disintegration. My only complaint is that this puzzle only lasted for half of my usual Thursday time. I like to work a little harder than I had to today. It would be splendid on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Actually, it's pretty splendid on any day.


@Passing Shot - the use of the French town of Nice in the clue lets you know the answer will be in French.

Hartley70 8:19 AM  

@Sydney, you tap the small i icon.

@Maldemare, I had some suggestions for you late yesterday. Keep in mind how many times a day you will say your choice (29) and find something that makes you happy.

chefbea 8:22 AM  

Was like a friday or saturday puzzle to me. Could not make heads or tails of it, so came here to see what it was all about. Horrible puzzle...did not like!!!

Lobster11 8:28 AM  

@kitshef captured my thoughts well: "very strange, and strangely unsatisfying." Lots of good stuff, but the anticlimactic finish was disappointing. And for me, at least, the theme didn't contribute to the solve because I had all the themers in place before I figured out what the theme was.

I thought the OPERASERIA/ABBA cross on the final A's was completely unfair. If you didn't know one or the other, like me, the letters A, E, and O are all equally plausible. I didn't even bother to try to guess.

Puzzle probably played harder for me than many because, as seems to happen all too often, the first place I really started to get traction was in the SE, so I wound up solving the whole thing right-to-left and bottom-to-top. Finished in the NW, but only after looking up ALBOM, as it and BERYL were both WOEs.

Ω 8:32 AM  

Full disclosure, putting ALBOM at 1A generated an "Oh, gawd" from me, which was then exacerbated by having U2 at 6D. Although, on further reflection, these two do fit the theme as they've been artistic MUMM(ies) for years now. So, yeah, my negative reaction has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the puzzle.

Baseball Side Note:

So the BBWAA proved again that they are a bunch of feckless Know Nothings yesterday by jobbing Justin Verlander of the Cy Young Award. I'd be demanding my feck back except the jobbery* led to this priceless Tweet from SuperModel (and JV's paramour - or is he her paramour...?) Kate Upton. She is now forever beloved in Detroit (if you prefer not to read four letter words don't click through).

*Jobbery - A word poised to make a comeback.

Ω 8:37 AM  

BTW - I checked PuzzAzz - it renders the puzzle exactly as it appears in my print copy. PuzzAzz allows you to enter your credentials and then does all the downloading for you, and does a consistently better job of recreating the print version than even the NYT's own app. I don't know why anyone uses any other software at. this point.

jberg 8:41 AM  

@Rex, maybe it's a SPHINX moth.

@lOREN, I had pSATS too -- do lawyers have to know math? But I didn't have the imaginagion to go on, so once 'riOTERS' was out I went with the L.

This puzzle was nice in that it seemed impossibly hard at first, but slowly got easier as I filled stuff in. But yeah, it would have been nice to make the MUMMY more puzzling, somehow.

A Grimwade 8:41 AM  

Tetes = heads in Nice (in the S of france)

Stanley Hudson 8:45 AM  

This one was a POOT.

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

Tut wasn't buried in a pyramid. Pyramid is just a clue. The crypt is nicely outlined by PYRAMIDSCHEME lintel and TOMBRAIDER and PHARAOHANT jambs and named TUT right in the middle.

Late for yesterday but ESStee stinks!

RooMonster 8:56 AM  

Hey All !
Different. Pyramid-y. Lots of black squares, but somehow didn't seem too many. Maybe lessen the North, East, and West pyramids?

Like @NCA Pres, had zOmbieS for LOOTERS. But as many SATS as there are, I never heard of ZSATS.
Some random thoughts... My TETE took a while to figure out the Nice clue. It was a... nice clue! Would've liked RASTA fAN better. Jargon = CANT? Odd. OPERA SERIS a new one on me. The chain saw is pronounced STEEL, if anyone cares.

Liked it overall. Have done the Number-sub-letter type puzs before, so that part was easy. But, had caLLOUT before YELLOUT, so started with ___MC! But the AHS moment hit, and figured it all out.


Greg 9:00 AM  

Overall I like it okay,(OPERASERIA - my wheelhouse!) but I'm never a fan of clues which contain prepositions. SWATAT, CAGEDUP, YELLOUT, MADAT. Too many for a puzzle this size.

Mohair Sam 9:18 AM  

I'm kinda with @Kitshef and @Lobster11 - although I did enjoy finding PYRAMID SCHEME early among all the those pyramids.

I thought it was constructed to be easy because the meta was going to be a mind-bender. So I'm sitting here worrying "Megawatts, megawatts, let me think, let me think, hmmmmmm." Meanwhile Lady M is writing in MUMMY. Only write-over - I threw in ABBe, but puzzle partner knew the A in OPERASERIA so we were saved. Agree with those who saw LOOTERS as a themer.

Interesting thoughts from @Rex today about puzzle shape - seeing this as an actual pyramid would have been neat.

QuasiMojo 9:19 AM  

Clever and fun puzzle. I got the Mummy pretty fast since it looked like a tightly wrapped body buried deep inside a tomb. One can only hope there is no curse attached to solving this one!

Kdunk 9:37 AM  

I think the pyramid was meant to be seen as a flattened 3D structure, looking at this from the top down. Imagine dotted lines as each diagonal and you can fold it into shape.

Blue Stater 9:42 AM  

I just Do Not Get -- and Rex's comment, unusually, doesn't help me get -- the relationship between the numbers and MUMMY. I do the puzzle electronically, so had to rely on the Notepad, which was (deliberately, of course) totally confusing. I entered the numbers in the blank spaces and got the wrong-answer message. Was the idea to enter the numbers as a rebus, or did the numbers correspond in some obscure way to the letters, or what? All aid appreciated.

Nancy 9:45 AM  

Very enjoyable. It kept me completely engrossed throughout and much of the cluing was fun. I'm thinking of SOCKETS (13D); TETES (21A); LOOTERS (16A); AMEN(49A); and MUSIC (34A). Still, it's Thursday, and I miss my rebus. Transferring 5 letters from the puzzle to an underground tomb does not a rebus make. That was a cute touch-- but hardly an Aha Moment.

After the fact I noticed the MUMMY related answers -- but the placement of many of them seems haphazard. On the other hand, MUMMY being right under TUT/CAGED UP is great. But MUSIC gets in the way and should not be there.

I had STRAy before STRAP at 22A and was slow to change it. The PPP in the SW -- I didn't know TOMB RAIDER or ALIENS -- made that section hard for me. But all in all, a lively, entertaining puzzle.

Blue Stater 9:46 AM  

OK, sorry, Rex. I finally go it -- "correspond" in Rex's explanation meant just that and not the usual incredibly complicated maze of what has come to be our Thursday fare. I hate these, of course, but it's me.

GILL I. 9:52 AM  

No numbers no nada just a "See Notepad." Pity the whole thing was lost on me.
I kept looking at LAW BREAKERS and TORTS and LSAT and thinking could 50A be someone who is in jail? Bah. Gave up, came here and slapped my head duh....
I love the sound of a chorus of Spring PEEPERS at night. It's really magical. If you've ever gone camping in the Tahoe area, you can hear them.
Is a TABLE LAMP only found in the living room?

Mark McCarter 10:08 AM  

Did not at first read the note about the numbers in 50 across and with PYRAMIDSCHEME, LAWBREAKERS, and SALESTEAM neatly stacked up top I promptly entered PONZI at 50 across only to be denied!

Samantha 10:11 AM  

Don't understand the numbers clues ... help?

NDE 10:12 AM  

That was fun. Glad to have a themed puzzle with a low word count so that there's some payoff at the end besides just a completed grid. Nice to see 4D:OPERA_SERIA in full (the opposite of "opera buffa" -- no, Autocorrect, not "opera buffs", though that's a phrase too). and even the long 6D:TWO_HEARTS with a pop 34A:MUSIC clue is fair and not just some random-looking name or title. So I 38D:CANT, um, can't be too hard on a minor flaw like repeating AT in 13A:SWAT_AT and 47A:MAD_AT. Didn't realize what the theme was until I filled in 50A:MUMMY because of the prominent crime clues (17A, 19A, and also 38A:CAGED_UP and 39D:PLEA).


Mohair Sam 10:12 AM  

@Z - The rare 3 for 3 today when I agree with you on everything - especially Mitch ALBOM - I had the exact same negative tug when I saw his name at 1A, surprised at your reaction given your locale. Couldn't agree more on the Verlander shafting - thanks for the Mae Westian quote from Ms. Upton, good stuff.

Paul Rippey 10:17 AM  

?? Why is "Leave in a bad way" STRAP? I thought Rex would complain about that clue, and when he didn't, I was certain someone would ask.

Uncle Milford 10:21 AM  

This was a pleasure of a Thursday. I love that the mummy clue was (at least) inside the pyramid. Never got the theme until i rescanned the puzzle wondering how the hell mummy has anything to do with this puzzle other than the pyramid dead squares. Also liked tut placed directly above. Best NYT puzzle i've done in a while.

pmdm 10:30 AM  

Gee, Z, of course you know. It's so they can complain. I guess.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Tried the puzzle via my online account for NYT crosswords. There was no Notepad so I tried to solve without it. After I gave up and looked up the answers, I was "MAD AT" (fed up). The answers BIG JERKED" (tugged) at my mind.I wanted to YELL OUT (cry) for my nonexistent MUMMY (Notepad). I know what you are thinking... TUT TUT.

CDilly52 10:40 AM  

I set a personal Thursday speed record under 10 UNTIL the meta! Didn't recognize the pyramid but had noticed the "themers" and thought Egypt...mummy only came after I asked my husband what he thought the "raft" at the bottom of the "tunnel" was. Ugh. Spent as much time waiting to get mummy as the rest of the puzzle. At least I finished and overall enjoyed the solve. Must need some visual literacy coaching.

Lobster11 11:05 AM  

@Paul Rippey: I also wondered how STRAP is the answer to "Leave in a bad way." My guess was that to be "strapped" is to be short on money, from which I inferred that to "strap" someone would mean to leave them in such a state. However, I can't find any online dictionary that includes such a definition for "strap" as a verb. Anyone else have a better explanation?

Unknown 11:23 AM  

Delightful review by @Rex (love the Steve Martin clip) and fascinating and enlightening range of comments about @Joe Krozel and @Timothy Palin's collaborative puzzle.

I only want to chime in to wish a happy 85th birthday to an occasional contributor to this blog. Find out who by solving this puzzle.

Curleegirl 11:29 AM  

It's both mic for MICrophone and mike. Personally, I prefer mic as the more accurate abbreviation.

Curleegirl 11:31 AM  

Can anyone explain "cant" for "jargon" (38 down)?

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

I also could not find a dictionary meaning relating to leaving someone else short of cash. However, "strap" can also mean "to tie up someone" ("hobble" in given as a synonym) or "to beat someone with a strap". The clue may have also been somewhat imprecise---good enough for crosswords.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Cassieopia here. @curleegirl: google "cant" and here is the second definition: "denoting a phrase or catchword temporarily current or in fashion."

Got RASTAMAN immediately; it helps that my son-in-law is one and did used to have dreds down to his waist so that was a gimme. Got stuck because I had RAREGem instead of RAREGAS...and I had college chemistry! My bad.

Was looking for a moth instead of a mummy. Did not get all the pyramids until I came here, thank you all you smart people for helping me get the themer! Now that I see it, the solutions are much more clever (pyramid scheme, pharaoh ant, tut, etc)

Loved Rex's writeup; very positive. Of course, the puzzle was very positive too - a fun solve. Thank you constructors!

AliasZ 11:43 AM  

Oh look, grid art -- cool! I thought the theme was a little thin, but the visuals made it quite pleasing.

It was a relatively easy puzzle for me. Gimmes came early and often, MUSIC being the most obvious sensual pleasure without vice. I enjoyed learning about PHARAOH ANTS, loved OPERA SERIA, and I remember TOMB RAIDERS from Angelina's Lara Croft. But AHS, LSATS, ANIS, ETS, TETES, TORTS? Thank goodness TWO HEARTS crossed TWICE only once.

LOOTERS could have been a themer, since many pyramids were looted prior to having been explored. And how about the RARE GAS supposedly emanating from newly opened chambers that caused sickness and death, blamed on a curse?

Fun escapade -- thanks Timothy and Joe.

Joseph Michael 11:52 AM  

Ended up sadly with YHAROOH ANT and misread the video game answer as TOM BRAIDERS, but loved the puzzle and the MUMMY buried within.

Brought to mind the old black-and-white Lon Chaney and Boris Karloff mummy movies. What made the mummy so scary was that, even though he moved at a SNAIL's pace, he never ever stopped coming after his prey. No matter how fast you tried to get away, he would still eventually one day catch up with you.

Warren Howie Hughes 11:59 AM  

At 47A, Polin & Krozel almost had one other Egyptian clue when they went with MADAT instead of Sadat. But TUT TUT aside, I STIHL liked the overall theme and the fact that Polin & Krozel put their MEGAWATT TETES together...AMEN to that!

x 11:59 AM  

The print NYT version does not number the horizontal MUMMY, and it provides no clue for inserting a word there. A weak puzzle and a rambling, incoherent Rex.

Paul Rippey 11:59 AM  

It has seemed to me that @Rex is being unusually charitable in assessing the NY Times x-word these last few days, and it occurred to me that he, like a lot of us, may be finding it easier to minimize small things by considering recent large things. That is, compare these two problems: "Bad fill", and "President Trump".

It's really not worth raising ones blood pressure over the bad fill.

Unknown 12:18 PM  

A company's marketing group is not its sales team. Marketing is strategy, sales is tactics and in most organizations they are linked but separate

old timer 12:19 PM  

M-W has a definition for STRAP: to cause to suffer from an extreme scarcity. Usually we see it in the passive voice: "He was STRAPped for cash." I had no problem there. Wrote in ALBOM right away and OPERASERIA and the whole W side was soon done. SALESTEAM got be to the E side where I replaced WATERhoses with WATERMAINS. Though you don't think of a MAIN being hooked up too a hydrant, exactly, it certainly is connected underground,

The rest of the puzzle was easy, once I realized that chainsaw maker was not "Still" but STIHL. I thought it was a splendid, clever puzzle with LSATS being one of the few answers that felt tired and overused.

I am of course laughing at all of you who solve online, My paper copy had a number fir every letter in MUMMY and it was obvious you were expected to copy the corresponding letter into the orphaned (buried actually) set if five letters at the bottom.

Cassieopia 12:26 PM  

TOM BRAIDERS - ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Truly made me LOL

Malsdemare 12:29 PM  

Well, I see five PYRAMIDs though in typical fashion, didn't see any, or the theme, until I read REX and then came here. It,s a sad reminder of my dissertation defense. One committee member, a world class choker, kept asking me questions about what does this mean; I'd answer and he'd repeat, Ok, and what does that mean? On and on it went as I saw my PhD vanishing into the wilderness and finally said, "I don't KNOW.” And with that he smiled and said, "That's my goal, to learn where your roadblocks are and will you admit you don't know." And then he shook my hand and said, "Good job, Dr. Malsdemare."

I resurrected TOMBRAIDER, ALIENS, TWOHEARTS, from some hidden place in my brain, smiled when I Finally got TETES, had a jolt of recognition when CANT actually worked (@curleegirl, in the social sciences, there are specific terms for various forms of specialized language; CANT is one. I'd recite them all, but they have "retired to a small fishing village where there are no phones" (Billie Collins, Forgetfulness.) our STIHL saw is getting a workout this fall, as is my much smaller battery-operated one.

I really liked this puzzle!

RooMonster 12:34 PM  

Just noticed, as so far no one mentioned it, puz is 16 Deep! Guess needed the extra Row to "entomb" the MUMMY.
So theoretically, we can eliminate 9 blocks in the count.

@Leapy made puz, if you take a right turn after the P.
Still think zombies would've been better. :-)


Ω 12:41 PM  

@x - Huh? My copy of the NYT had numbers in the 5 squares in the pyramid. Didn't take much to guess what the numbers meant, besides which it was pretty obvious it was going to be MUMMY.

I think Rex has sounded like he always sounds.

@Mohair Sam - Ms Upton got the first genuine LOL out of me in over a week.

Malsdemare 12:47 PM  

If you have found the discussion of my dog's name useless or annoying, skip this post. But several folks offered ideas and I owe them huge thanks. @Hartley, the penny dropped when you suggested celebrating the good guys. I already knew I had to live with hearing the name far more than 29 times a day but the reminder was a good one.

So President Obama will be in my life for some more years. Our new guy is to be named Barack and his call name will probably be Rocky. If he hasn't been AKC registered, he will formally be Poker Flat's Yes We Can. I'm smiling as I write this. This guy is social, active, will grumble his disapproval but settles his disputes nonviolently. Ordinarily I hesitate to name an animal for a living person, but somehow I think the Prez would approve. Eventually my Barack will do serious therapy work with vets, the underprivileged and the abused.

When the dervish quits whirling, I'll get a photo and let him be my avatar for a bit.

End of dog discussion. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Malsdemare 12:48 PM  

Oh good grief, world class SCHOLAR!

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

For 11A, I proudly and confidently started to write in COQUI . . .

@LMS: when my friend's son was little, "computer" was more than he could pronounce, so he would ask to play on "Daddy's POOTER."

Trombone Tom 12:59 PM  

Pretty much agree with OFL today and, yes, I think he is being a little less curmudgeonly.

Thought STRAP was a stretch.

Pretty tame for a Thursday, especially the MUMMY reveal.

thfenn 1:04 PM  

Thought this was a fun one - definitely enjoying the week so far. With others on zombies before looters and waterhoses before watermains. Also had lastshot before lastgasp, neat before tidy, and callout before yellout. Had to read the blog before finally grasping the connection between Nice ideas and TETES, thank you, and before seeing the connection between CANT and jargon, another thank you. Also learned that knees have sockets. Was thinking CAGED UP ALIENS LAWBREAKERS and LOOTERS was going to take us somewhere, but thankfully not. AMEN.

Numinous 1:07 PM  

Some drawing instructors recommend looking at the negative space around what one is attempting to draw. In this puzzle, the negative space was part of the theme. It's always good to look at the negative space.

Zombies??? Ha! For stupidity I entered "corpses" before I figured out LOOTERS which I also consider to be part of the theme. Nice ideas has already been explained. I fell into the RASputiN trap for a while. DNFed on ABBe. For some reason I've always read Mitch's name as AblOM so that took a bit of figuring out. I was thinking a fly ball so I had "run out" instead of SWAT AT. I had a lot of fun, in the NE corner, changing stuff around.

This is the POW over at xwordinfo. I tend to agree that, so far, this is my favorite for this week.

Mike is the name of the thirteenth letter in the phonetic alphabet. Mic is the abbreviation for microphone. That's the way I've always seen it.

I donn't get STRAP for leave either.

CANT is a term for jargon that dates back to the 16th century or earlier. For one of my Renaisssance Faire groups we learned Rogue's CANT, all the slang terms I found from a pamphlet by Robert Greene concerning cozenage and coney catching. Thomas Hartman also included a canting dictionary in his Caveat for Common Cursitors.

Numinous 1:14 PM  

Ok, ok, Leave someone STRAPped. I agree, it's a bit of a stretch.

Teedmn 1:17 PM  

Record time for a Thursday, I think, coming in at 11:49. I just read an analysis from Puzzazz about the difficulty of the NY Times puzzles during the week - their conclusion is that Thursday tends to be harder based on time needed to solve than Fridays are, due to the Thursday tricks. Not today for me!

My silly answer of MEGAherTz before MEGAWATTS (wouldn't that be nice if we could power our homes with radio waves?) was only topped by the macabre (off of the AGS) Toe tAGS of 41A. I was certainly glad to change that one to TEA BAGS (did King TUT have a toe tag?).

I had a momentary panic when looking at 50A's clue and wondering how a Microsoft app was going to help me fill in that space but then I saw the "note" at the top of the puzzle and finished it off after seeing _ _ _ MY.

This had a great grid and clean fun fill and a nice aha for TETES. Thanks, TP and JK.

Carola 1:37 PM  

I was so excited by discovering the MUMMY of King TUT in the PYRAMID, that I overlooked the flanking TOMB RAIDER and PHARAOH ANT...and the LOOTERS. For those who are terrified of being enTOMBed alive, LAST GASP could also fit the theme.

Getting 1A x 1D straight off helped to make this an easy solve, slowed briefly by sewer MAINS and having to think way more than TWICE about STRAP. Harold RAMIS and the SEA HAG: TWO HEARTS that beat in my "known only from crosswords" category.

@Malsdemare, my defense story: under heavy fire from a committee member who was having none of my thesis, I began, "I was trying to show that..." and he interrupted, "I know you were trying, dear." One of those going-down-with-the-Titanic moments that are seared into memory. But, happily, I passed.

@Timothy Polin and Joe Krozel, thank you for this witty and very cute puzzle.

Leapfinger 1:49 PM  

Not a grid-moth, @Rex. As the budding lepidopterist notes, a moth's forewings are larger than its hindwings.

The Egyptology theme really SOCKETS to me, to the extent of anticipating a little "Aida" (though not an OPERA SERIA). Thought it might be RASTAFAN with another single-rebus RASTAFariaN; the Triumpal March would be fitting, eh? Fun to keep finding PYRAMID-related entries, but I missed anything Maltese Falcon. If (as JoeKro says) no mummies were in PYRAMIDs, where did they come from?

My King Tsk was that I also LEAPtat the LSAT/PSAT bait, but I enjoyed the resultant POOTERS (hi @lms)

Also liked the SEAHAG's TEABAGS, and wondered if her brand was TETES LEAP's Little TEABAGS.

Going off on another Random Roman Tangent:
RAREGAo, RAREGAS, RAREGAt, RAREGAmus, RAREGAtis, RAREGAnt. The latter being a PHARAOHANT, which PHARAOHbugged me as I'd never heard of it, but was interestingly transcrambled with the praying LAMA MANTIS.

Interesting interplay: just heard yesterday on NPR about LITHUANIA's break from the Russian sphere, and how NATO took CARE of that at the LAST GASP. We live in BERYLous times. Rice Crispie bars aside, my advice is for more of the afore-mentioned MUSIC to soothe the CAGED-UP beast. Time for the Pretentious Music Promoters to step up!
[Here's the missing R for them as wants it.]

Hope everyone here gets their [TWO] HEARTS' DES SIRES.

Prince Felix Youssupov 2:26 PM  

You solvers who entered RASPUTIN are either watching too much electioneering news or were led astray by MUZHIK in mid-grid.

RASPUTIN would have been clued as 'Hard-to-kill guy'

Fred Romagnolo 2:29 PM  

@Lobster 11: my thinking on STRAP exactly. Good Professor: thanks for your kindness! Tut not having been entombed in a pyramid, but in the Valley of the Kings, threw me for a bit. Won't swear to it, but I think Mozart's Ideomoneo (sp?) is probably the most performed OPERA SERIA nowadays.

Mohair Sam 3:12 PM  

@All - Don't people say "I'm STRAPped" anymore when they're trying to borrow a buck or two? Got 22A off the S, surprised so many didn't recognize the word as clued.

Leapfinger 3:20 PM  

@thfenn, you caught my attention with your 'knees have sockets'. I must have just skimmed the clue, 'cause it's hips that have sockets. Knees are hinge joints with nary a socket in sight. The nearest thing to it is the sliding-place for the patella, and that's a groove.

@Malsdemare, Barack/Rocky is cute, so I won't press my idea of having TWO SLEDDOGS named (a la Dr Doolittle) Push Me and Pull You. Enjoy your 29 x daily!

@Roomie, you confused the heck out of me with your close about '@Leapy made puzz'. I get it now, but am hoping for that Roomie-made puzz. Let's have it!!

@FredRom, welcome back.

So Sad 3:34 PM  

TUT and AMEN, but no ANKH.

We're lost without our center.

OISK 3:40 PM  

Generally a pleasant solve for me. Very amused that OFL forgot that Passover comes out around Easter Time. Never heard of Albom, and so like a few others, was very tempted to have "Reap" instead of "Leap," but guessed right. Why the question mark on the clue "Get off the ground?"? That is what led me to doubt that "leap" was the answer. Stihl is just one more meaningless (to me) brand name, right under "strap" which was very oddly clued.

I originally had gigawatts - guess I was thinking of very large power plants. Needed to get "Peeper" to change it. But I enjoyed the originality. Never saw or played "Tomb Raiders," but was amused to find it near the mummy. Loved the baseball themed puzzle Tuesday, but not the Batman yesterday.

Larry Gilstrap 4:21 PM  

It's all pretty much been said. But, Dr. Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, a mammoth undertaking, is filled with his satiric wit, perhaps not a quality normally seen in later comprehensive and objective lexicons. Word people will find it wise and amusing. "Monsieur: a term of reproach for a Frenchman." "Oat: a grain in England given to horses, but in Scotland it appears to support the people." Read about his travels with Boswell before you visit Edinburgh, for example, and experience what he saw over 200 years ago.

I'm not a fan of "grid art," such as it is. It seems a little desperate, but maybe I'm wrong.

I admit to experiencing an ominous shudder writing in LITHUANIA. Is it or Estonia next on the list for annexation?

kobryon 5:38 PM  

Sorry if I am missing something--can someone explain 42 down, Hit on the head, BEAN? Beanie hats??

jae 6:21 PM  

On the easy side for me too, toughest corner was the SW.

Did not know ABBA as clued ( Dancing Queen, yes).

Spelling PHARAOH is always tricky for me.

Great looking grid, fun theme, passable fill, liked it a lot.

Ω 6:31 PM  

@kobryon - BEAN, see the verb definition.

Also, someone asked about CANT, although if someone answered, apologies for repeating the answer.

Nancy 6:38 PM  

@kobryan -- When you're BEANed in baseball, the pitcher hits you in the head with the pitch.

@Malsdemare -- Brilliant! Barack might be a bit of a mouthful at the dog park, but Rocky rolls right off the tongue. Also, a sled dog has to be strong, and Rocky brings to mind the very strong Rocky Balboa. But mostly a lovely tribute to a President we're going to miss like crazy.

JC66 7:41 PM  

The apostrophe (or lack of it) is too blame for all who CANT.

Roy Leban 8:14 PM  

@Z Thanks for noticing that Puzzazz properly matched the print edition. Whenever the NYT does a trick like this (and there have been much crazier tricks than this), Puzzazz replicates the print edition while the NYT's own app doesn't. We don't know why anyone uses anything else either :) Puzzazz is free and there's no charge to solve the NYT in Puzzazz, unlike most other apps (of course, you need an NYT subscription)

@Teedmn Our analysis showed that, on average Thursday was a bit harder than Friday, but, of course, it varies from week to week. Just like you thought, our system rated this Thursday's puzzle Easy for a Thursday. See http://www.puzzazz.com/leaderboard/info/new-york-times-crosswords/2016/11/17

Unknown 8:14 PM  

The S's! Omg. So many S's. I actually thought the S's going around the black squares in the center were part of the theme for a second. Lazy constructing.

Phil 9:34 PM  

Yes me as well on ToetAG and redtAG
RASTAfAr for dreaded guy, kinda rastafarian..ish.
Love the car guys but didn't recognize tappet spelling. Maybe tappit would have rung a bell.

Fun puzzle. Liked it even though in the end the 'b' in beryl was a guess

Tita 10:45 PM  

What @kitshef said.

DNF for me...TOM BRAnDER was my video game. Lol...never parsed it into that thing that I most certainly have heard of. (Hi, @JM)

@NCA Pres...thanks for putting into words what I felt, with your Christmas Story analogy. But then, TABLELAMP would fit right in, no?? I'm quite sure the constructor's had a fishnet stocking-clad leg lamp in mind...

@jberg...thank you!!!! You tied it all together...Rex's moth comment was funny, then you brought it round to the theme-worthy Sphinx moth. I discovered a just-emerged one one summer. They are stunning creatures. Mine looked like a stealth bomber, and was harder to find.

@malsdemare...perfect!!! I approve!

Lastly, love the PEEPERS...it's spectacular how, one night in very early spring, the air is suddenly alive with their peeping, after a long, lifeless winter We have wetlands very nearby, and it's one of the early signs of spring that I just love.

Thanks for an evocative puzzle.

Curleegirl 2:39 PM  

Thank you to Casseopeia for the "cant" answer. I still think that the usage is quite arcane and a bit of a stretch. But I get that it's fair, if not gaming.

Burma Shave 11:50 AM  


With his LASTGASPs he would TWICE YELLOUT his PLEA,
“I’m no TOMBRAIDER, just a PEEPER of the SEAHAG’s hooters.”


spacecraft 1:03 PM  

Here's another one that at first read-through had me thinking, no way in hell am I gonna get this. I knew good ol' Harold RAMIS. That was it. But then, well, how else would you go after a fly? You'd SWATAT it. Ecch, talk about your ugly partials. But that put W in the second place of 6-down, so TWOHEARTS seemed obvious. Not familiar with that song or believing that U2 would USE that old-time lyric, I still wrote it in.

Speaking of USE, what a gigantic stretch of a clue: "Walk all over!" Okay, I get it, it's like the late Sam Kinison's signature line, "Wild thing, you USED me!" But boy, that was really bending over backwards to clue the word. That clue belongs farther along in the week, IMO.

So then we come to "Leave in a bad way," starting with STRA_. Stray, of course. No? No. Because I unearthed another gimme, STIHL. There is no way anything is going to begin YH--. So, back to 22-across to run the alphabet and come up with STRAP. As in financially. More and more, this is feeling like at least a Friday, if not Saturday.

Oh...by this time, the grid looking more or less like a face to me, I assumed (you know what that does) that the five isolated squares--starting with the M of MEGAWATTS, was MOUTH. N-no.

One more glitch, quickly corrected, was caLLOUT for YELLOUT. There is no way I'd do either proclaiming this puzzle "easy-"anything. It was hard all the way. Take 4-down. Just the clue! "Buffa?" Wha??? Has to be inside info. If you're not in the 1% who love OPERA, there is no way you're going to know this. In fact, I'll wager there are some who DO love it who don't know OPERASERIA,which for me went in entirely on crosses.

Looking at the completed (somehow!) grid, I finally noticed the theme, one of whose answers provides us with a premier DOD: TOMBRAIDER Angelina Jolie. Triumph factor equal to the march in AIDA. Should have appeared tomorrow, at least. Birdie.

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Very enjoyable, continuing a really good puzzle week. Looked at the five empty spaces at the bottom, said " Huh?", and went on with life.

rondo 1:10 PM  

That went quick. OFL’s 1a theory proved out here. I’ve got an ALBOM book on the nightstand right now, so gimme right away. Seemed like the fastest Thurs-puz ever, maybe due to so many black squares. Not even room enough for a yeah baby.

Yes, I did take TORTS as a one-L. We all did.

PEEPER would have fit Leah from yesterday’s story. AMAN,A PEEPER, then TWOHEARTS as one.

Better than a rebus. Gotta go to the Electric Fetus so I can buy the gift of MUSIC.

Diana,LIW 1:50 PM  

This was one of those solves that began slowly and then one after another the answers fell.

1A was my first gimmee - then, very little.

Of course, putting ALBuM in gave me the DNF. I've read several of his books and columns. My very bad.

I do like opera - at least some. But was buffaloed by buffa, so uPERASERIA made as much sense at mashed potatoes.

Then, for my finale, I tried to make a coherent little statement out of the FULL answers for 5, 29, etc. Try it - you might like it!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 2:22 PM  

TIDY theme and PYRAMIDSCHEME revealer. YELLsOUT, "Look at me! It's all right in front of you!"

PHARAOHANT needed some unearthing, but, overall, an easy and fun Egyptian tour (de force).

rain forest 5:01 PM  

Sweet puzzle. One of those that look impossible at first, but hacking away in random places (STIHL, RARE GAS) and hewing at others (SIRES, SLR, TORTS, SWAT AT), I got a flow going. PYRAMID SCHEME (confirmed by DES) was the catalyst for more progress up top. Eventually, ALBOM came to me, and I moved to the bottom, reasoning that the opera type must be SERIA because "buffa" (is this because opera buffs are serious about opera? Oh, never mind).

Like all good crossword puzzles, several words intertwined to give up TUT, TIDY, MUSIC, CUES, and YELL OUT. Fun.

I like Timothy Polin and Joe Krozel, so this was a treat.

Blogger 8:00 PM  

Ever wanted to get free Google+ Circles?
Did you know you can get these ON AUTO-PILOT & TOTALLY FOR FREE by registering on Like 4 Like?

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP