Pulitzer-winning poet Conrad / TUE 11-8-16 / Queen of jungle in comics / Number of hills in Roma / Conger catcher / First instrument heard in Beatles' she's leaving home / Ribbed pants informally

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Constructor: Michael J. Doran

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: OPEN HOUSE (61A: Realtor's big day ... or what each word in the answers to the starred clues can do) — both parts of two-part themers are words that can precede (i.e. "open") "house" to make a familiar word/phrase:

Theme answers:
  • STATE BIRD (17A: *Carolina wren, for South Carolina)
  • TOLL ROAD (20A: *Turnpike)
  • GREEN LIGHT (27D: *Approve)
  • WHITE TEA (9D: *Highly antioxidant beverage)
  • TREE ANIMAL (11D: *Sloth, for one)
  • ART STORE (38D: *Place to buy paint)
  • SMOKE OUT (55A: *Force from a hiding place)
Word of the Day: Conrad AIKEN (10D: Pulitzer-winning poet Conrad) —
Conrad Potter Aiken (August 5, 1889 – August 17, 1973) was an American writer, whose work includes poetry, short stories, novels, a play, and an autobiography. [...] Named poetry consultant of the Library of Congress from 1950–1952, Conrad Aiken earned numerous prestigious national writing awards, including a National Book Award, the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Gold Medal and the National Medal for Literature. Honored by his native state in 1973 with the title of Poet Laureate, Aiken is remembered there as the first Georgia-born author to win a Pulitzer Prize (in 1930, for his Selected Poems). (wikipedia)
• • •

Ah, the both-words-can-follow/precede theme. The jello mold of themes. Timeless. Strange. Not what anyone really wants. The revealer is clever (which deserves praise) and the theme is very, very dense (which deserves ... well, noting, anyway). There is nothing much else good to say about this. The fill is terrible. Couldn't even get out of the NW without getting hammered by crosswordese, including and ERMA / UMA crossing (?). Move east and it gets worse, with Italian SETTE and French CONTE and abbr. ATT all huddled up, and then Conrad-not-Clay AIKEN shopping at multiple IKEAS (?) ... plus SESS. *Then* I'm asked to accept that TREE ANIMAL is a thing. The wheels are off at that point. And yet more wheels somehow come off later, specifically at the bewildering non-word ROILY (39D: Turbulent), the ridiculous elision 'OME (37A: Kipling's "Follow Me ___"), and the idiotic plural IAMBI. IAMBI ... I mean, IAMBI? The only way I would accept this answer is if it were clued [Coming-out phrase]. I lectured on IAMBS last week. See how I spelled that there. Yeah, you see. What pretentious $^%& is calling them IAMBUSES, let alone IAMBI? Stop the madness. Also, stop EELER. Lastly GAEL LITRE NSEC ETDS TECS ONT TSAR NYSE ESPYS IVE NAIF MAE [passes out]

Puzzle was easy enough. Trouble at 1A: First instrument heard in the Beatles' "She's Leaving Home" (HARP)—doesn't leap to mind somehow. But after I got that sussed out, no real troubles. Spelling HANSON (E or O?), always an issue (24D: "MMMBop" band). But I actually knew Conrad AIKEN (not everyone will, that's for sure), and with the exception of ROILY, which I actually guessed early but Refused to believe, this one didn't have many tough spots. That's all for today. See you on the other side ... tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:16 AM  

Tough Tues. for me. @Rex IAMBs didn't help nor did @Rex HANSeN.

I disagree with Rex, I think CONTE/SHEENA/HANSON/SETTE area could be rough.

For me the theme trumps the fill problems, liked it.

Unknown 12:21 AM  

How can one not publish an election themed puzzle for Tuesday?

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

In related news, my local Ford Dealer is moving out the current models to make room for some leftover 2013 Fiestas, repriced at 2017 levels (though still no ABS).

Unknown 12:22 AM  

How can one not publish an election themed puzzle for Tuesday?

Unknown 12:27 AM  

Election Day puzzles come with expectations, I suppose. @Michael Doran explains elsewhere that today's effort has been in the queue since 2013. It does have the WHITE at the first half of 9-Down, and the HOUSE in the second half of 61-Across (the reveal).

The choice today (after all, it is after midnight, EST) is between Stronger Together! and An Embarrassment of Riches.

Yesterday, I strongly recommended @Patrick Blindauer's subscription Puzzle #2, but my eyes elided on the title -- it is actually "Bilepartisanship."

And a belated shoutout to @Bruce Haight for working NASTY into his New York Times puzzle yesterday. More on that later ...

anokha 12:44 AM  

Sette/Conte was tricky -- and I mistakenly had Ann for Rice/Curry. But a solid fill overall and a nice distraction from my worries about tomorrow.

Trenton 12:59 AM  

That SHEENA / CONTE / SETTE section was brutal. I was feeling so accopmlished about solving Friday's puzzle in record time and then I get a DNF on a Tuesday. Not cool.

I was impressed by the theme density, but it wasn't worth all the crossword-ese, at least in my opinion.

Unknown 1:01 AM  

As promised, two politically themed puzzles ... trying our best to be objective and bipartisan. The first of these has an associated web page, while the second is a direct on-line solving link. Both have dimensions somewhat smaller than usual.

Debate and Switch

What Happened in Vegas?

chefwen 1:20 AM  

@George Barany - Enough with the politics. I know I've had my fill.

Didn't know AIKEN, crosses took care of him. Last letter in was the N in HANSON/CONTE, that was a guess that turned out to be correct. Lucky me. Other than that, pretty easy.

Did not notice the spelling of ROMA and had to reread clue when SEven didn't pan out.

Cute puzzle.

Larry Gilstrap 1:23 AM  

Hey, it's a Tuesday puzzle and my limited expectations were met. All of the various HOUSEs are very much in the language. Those new to solving were exposed to tired fill enough to begin to learn the concept of crosswordese. I'm looking at you OLIO, ETDS, TSAR, NAB, and the list goes on and on. Feel free to add to it.

Olde Towne Orange features a Starbucks on both sides of the Plaza, but the only Ikea I am aware of is way down in South County. Are there enough around to warrant pluralization? Anywhere?

I have taught and enjoyed poetry throughout my life and appreciate the intricacies of rhythm, rhyme, and figurative language. OFL's questioning IAMBI is echoed here. As clued, "O's" would work as an answer, but Frost deserves more than that, don't you think? Anybody else throw in SEven at 21D, but Arrivederci Roma makes sense. Do the kids in the Ivory Coast enjoy a good CONTE de fee?

Do you know your STATE BIRD? Mine is the California Quail. Trivia time: what is the STATE BIRD of Utah? Heads up! Birders are a serious bunch, loaded with political clout, resources, expensive optical equipment, and environmental concerns. Taking over a bird sanctuary was a dumb move not soon to be forgotten, IMHO.

I've had some fun times in Las Vegas, but a little goes a long way. If ever you find yourself there, stay at the Vdara, terrific views, no smoking, no casino, and just across the parking lot from the ARIA.

Michael D 1:49 AM  

I had submitted an election schrodinger but was rejected because Will suspected people were sick of the election which is fair enough!

chefwen 2:20 AM  

Our state bird is crosswords favorite bird the NENE. Noisy little things that fly around in mini squadrons, honking away like crazy.

Unknown 3:12 AM  

Roily pissed at all the BS in this puzzle

Unknown 4:01 AM  

I managed to suss out the theme after STATE BIRD and TOLL ROAD. I guessed the theme type correctly, looked at the least common of the four words (TOLL), and the first thing to come to mind was TOLL HOUSE. Bada bing bada boom.

And here is where I put a polite SPOILER WARNING to anyone who doesn't want to see answers from old NYTimes crosswords. Ignore everything between the asterisks.


The next thing to occur to me is that this theme had to have been done before. I found three uses of this theme by the New York Times.

- Tuesday, October 29, 2013. Revealer: HOUSE. Six theme answers: GREEN LIGHT, FIREPOWER, WHITE SMOKE, BIRDBATH, CLEAN OUT, and FULL-COURT.

- Tuesday, November 18, 2008. Revealer: TWO HOUSES. Five theme answers: STATE BIRD, FIREPOWER, ROAD BLOCK, SUMMER SCHOOL, and DOLL CARRIAGE.

- Wednesday, June 18, 2003. Revealer: HOUSE. Four theme answers, with only the ends preceding HOUSE: FLASHLIGHT, PERRY WHITE, COLE PORTER, and FARM ANIMAL.

The pattern here seems to be increasing number of theme answers (4 to 5 to 6 to 7).* I'm actually a bit surprised that there isn't more repetition in the theme answers. Today's use of TOLL ROAD, WHITE TEA, and SMOKE OUT are new and worthy additions to this little word game. On the other hand, with a FULL FIELD of possibilities, we should expect CLEAN rather than ROUGH entries and certainly not entries that seem HALF-WAY RANDOM like TREE ANIMAL and ART STORE.

*Note to the future constructor who can't leave well enough alone and will try to squeeze in eight theme answers plus a revealer: HOUSE TRAILER and HOUSE TO HOUSE have yet to be used as revealers.


I did happen across a Sunday puzzle with a wonderfully clever variation on this kind of theme. It's the crossword for Sunday, March 19, 2000, and it's entitled "Word Tag."

Agree with Rex on the ugly fill. Yeesh! (One point of difference: I have no issue with TSAR.)

This is the kind of puzzle that makes me ask, "Who is this puzzle's audience?" It's not beginning solvers, as the fill is much too convoluted. It's not solvers who value clever clues, lively word choices, or original themes. That's a lot of solvers to be writing off.

Anglo Conte Mae-chaels 4:26 AM  

Gotta love a puzzle that gets me thinking about the Beatles from word one! And it was such a lovely ear worm to have! Better yet if this had appeared on Wednesday morning at 5 o'clock as the day begins ...

IAMBI re-parsing by Rex makes me want to share: in yesterday's Scrabble tournament I played BICURIOUS (9 letters as US was already on the board)!!!
My best wordfind ever! But my opponent challenged it off, not bec he thought it might be hyphenated but bec he'd never heard the word!??! In San Francisco, no less!!!

It also came up today whilst giving a tour of my formerly great city that I could only name quattro of our SETTE hills... Nob, Russian, Telegraph, and Potrero. Meant to look that up as Noe Valley must be between two...?

If the above @Michael D is the same that created today's puzzle, I for one definitely would've loved to see/solve a Shroedinger election crossword!

Passing Shot 5:07 AM  

Really, ROILY??? Ugh.

Anonymous 5:56 AM  

I think the AIKEN / SHEENA cross is a bit of a Natick...

Hungry Mother 5:58 AM  


Loren Muse Smith 6:02 AM  

Rex – No! You have to leave me out of your pronouncement that this theme is "Not what anyone really wants." I get that I have no credibility here, but these Both-Words-Lead/Follow-Such-and-Such-Word themes fascinate me for some reason, and I'm always happy to see them. After the solve, I go back and say each word with the other word to make sure they all work. And I'm always so pleased when they all do, jealous that I didn't think of this. (I tried once with WALL – got FIRESTONE. That's it. Not even a reveal. So I went to take a nap.)

@Martin – I liked seeing the themers from past puzzles. Again – I checked each part with HOUSE to make sure. This kind of thing just floats my boat.

Possible extra themer already in grid – BIG CAT(s). Hah! Enough Michigan fans to make that one work?

Agree – TREE ANIMAL doesn't feel so in the language. "Farm animal" would've felt natural.

Michael – I liked this. And I'll look forward to some kind of Schrodinger.

Off to vote for either Hillary Clinton or DONald Trump.

Glimmerglass 6:22 AM  

I'm surprised that no one has commented on the almost-theme 25A: BIG (house) and CAT[S] (house).

Lewis 6:34 AM  

Hi Acme!

@larry -- The state bird of Utah was just a final answer on Jeopardy.

What I liked in this puzzle outweighed what I didn't. The very dense theme (which wasn't necessary to know for the solve) -- 70 squares, if I've counted correctly -- did cause crosswordese and ROILY, which I didn't like. ROILY is so out there that it might stick with me for a while, like ball-point ink on my skin.

I did like CORDS (as clued), SHEENA (who I haven't thought about in ages), and SMOKEOUT. There was more indirect and clever cluing than usual for Tuesday, a good entree to new solvers to what happens later in the week. The clues for HARP, ABE, RIAL, POTLUCK, ARTSTORE, and TIP will give these solvers a taste of challenge and fun. I learned CONTE, there is a mini-theme of double EE's (7), I like the WATTS up, and I like that TIM, TIP, and TIN occur within the space of two rows. Overall, while enduring some icks, I liked this more than the usual Tuesday.

But this is not the usual Tuesday. May the WHITE HOUSE not become a NUT HOUSE.

Anonymous 6:46 AM  

First time commenter. For openers: Thank you, Rex, for doing this. You are a shining beacon to the darkness of my OCD. Thank you, Thank you.
I come to you only after a puzzle is done, and only to understand a theme I don't grasp. You always set me straight.

I also enjoy your commenters: a witty, engaged, not-generally-full-of-themselves bunch of kindred spirits.

But I don't come often, certainly not daily, and I grasped why not this morning; it's your snotty carping. I hope it's just my bad luck, and you aren't like this every day, but I realized that every time I have come here in the past six months you've spent some time dumping on NYT, or Shortz, or the fill, or whatever.

I think most of us see those flaws, when they appear. You diminish my enjoyment, of the puzzle and your site, when you highlight them. It makes you seem small, like a show off.

Accent the positive, and more readers will become regulars--and donors!

One grateful reader's two cents. Thanks again.

RAD2626 7:29 AM  

Totally with @Trenton. Theme density - and I think theme answers - were great. Did not like fill at all. Never heard of CONTE. Totally new wor. It always surprises me when a word does not ring a bell after the fact.

@Martin. Thank you for the research. Fascinating. Basically every five years this theme shows up although this one got in early. Art Linkletter would be proud.

Lobster11 7:33 AM  

I'm with OFL on this one on every point except that I found it to be very difficult for a Tuesday, what with all the IAMBI and CONTEs and AIKENs and SHEENAs and such.

@Martin: I agree that TSAR is more acceptable than the other examples, but I think it goes in the bad-fill category simply because it is so overused.

James F 7:46 AM  

Great video! Who knew?

Kim Colley 7:50 AM  

Roily? ROILY?

That's bigly dumb. Sad. Loser.

Ω 7:53 AM  

Didn't Jason 'IAMBI 'it a lot of 'OME runs?

Dorothy Biggs 8:08 AM  

ROILY. Really? Meh. I guess that means that the broiled fish I had the other night was broily. Who knew.

She's Leaving Home is the one song that made me cry consistently as a kid every time I listened to it. I was a kid. I wasn't a parent and had no way of even relating to parents. But it was sad. The mother stood at the top of the stair and broke down, "Daddy, our baby's gone!" All because the kid wanted to run off with a car salesman.

IAMBI. Yesterday, IMGAY.

I agree with Rex about EELER. Low hanging fruit with those Es.

The puzzle wasn't terrible.

Happy voting today! Rex's sign off, "See you on the other side...tomorrow" has a prophetic air about it. It's like today is a portal into a new America that we will all cross through tonight no matter if we want to or not. Here's hoping it a good night and even better tomorrow.

chefbea 8:11 AM  

Tough puzzle...and no election day puzzle!!!! Gotta go vote

pmdm 8:34 AM  

Gee, Loren Muse Smith,you underrate yourself. There's no reason for anyone here to question your credibility. And I am another one who also likes this type of theme. We live in a world that takes all kinds, and a statement like "no one likes this" can be translated into "I think everybody thinks like me" which will turn out false. Even if what one thinks is totally justifiable.

If you are constructing really easy crossword puzzles (such as a NY Times Monday or Tuesday puzzle, I don't think you can avoid fairly boring fill (it has to be quite easy), perhaps relying here and there on crosswordese that most solvers would be familiar with (perhaps too much so). So I am perfectly happy with todays puzzle. (OK, not really perfectly, but close enough.) It surprises me that it took 3 years after being accepted to be published. And on Election Day yet.

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

A very easy puzzle, but why not include 25A in the theme? Bighouse (prison) and Cathouse(s)??

kitshef 8:43 AM  

Naticked at OLeO/ReAL. The OLIO/OLeO thing is one I've never learned, and rely on crosses to figure tell me. Well, that's great until you get the RIAL/ReAL thing crossing it.

In 1943, North Carolina named their state bird - the northern cardinal.

In 1950, Virginia named their state bird - the northern cardinal.

In 1918, Virginia named their state flower - the flowering dogwood.

In 1941, North Carolina named their state flower - the flowering dogwood.

GREEN LIGHT is not green paint, but TREE ANIMAL sure is.

I have never in my life heard TEC used for a private eye, and hope I never do again.

Tita 8:44 AM  

Multiple IKEAS much more nasty than ROILY.
Besides, I confessed that puzspouse and I have been unable to stop mimicking the baby talk we heard from the various family babies.
On a very very breezy day, 4 year old daughter's hair was being buffeted about her head. "I'm windy!, she shouted.
That one's stuck with us ever since too.

Hi @acme...love your Scrabble story. And congratulations on that very apropos 9-letter word.
Just over the weekend I found myself in a place with nothing to do, and battery dead...only books were kids books and the Merriam-Webster Scrabble dictionary. I perused the Zs and Qs, hoping at least some would stick. Did any? Nope. As a side note, I did read the intro, which said that since the game is intended as a family game, they were omitting offensive words. That reminded me of my outer child back when issues of National Geographic were the source of our porn and we would look up dirty words in the dictionary, point, and snigger.

Mr. Doran...I'm in @lms' camp, since when I solve, only the most egregious dreck jumps out. I roilly do look forward to seeing that Schrödinger puzzle...maybe our friend @George B could publish it?

Lewis 8:51 AM  

@NCA -- I echo your sentiments, hoping for a good night tonight. Personally, I'm in the market for some Orange Crush!

Shamik 8:53 AM  

Iffy easy puzzle. But thank you for the video on the Sgt. Pepper harpist!!!!

jberg 8:54 AM  

I'm with @Rex on every point -- except IAMBs was so obviously right that I never bothered to check the cross at 44A. I'm now about 80% finishing with a careless error, aka as DNF, over the last two weeks.

@Larry, @Lewis, the Utah state bird was in the Jeopardy add in the NYT, too -- the one they run right next to the puzzle. Surprising until you know it, and then, "oh, of course."

I got idlE ANIMAL off the E. I would have forgiven everything if that had turned out to be right -- and I did like the theme. But ATONER? @Rex missed that one. Not as bad as ROILY, but much worse than 'OME.

@ACME, welcome! I haven't played Scrabble in decades, but isn't there an official list of the words you have to use? I agree it was a great play!

wgh 8:58 AM  

Was hoping for a TRUMP or HILL to show up.

chefbea 9:01 AM  

@Acme...good to see you. Hope you stick around

Hartley70 9:04 AM  

This is too tense a day to focus on much of anything. I filled in CONTE from the crosses but no idea of the reason why it's correct. Rex says it's French. Okaaay! AIKEN, SHEENA, and HANSON were right up my alley. The theme was Tuesday fine and pleasingly dense. I'm out and biting my nails.

Hungry Mother 9:05 AM  

I don't usually get meta-themes, but I got this one: A CONTE edited by a dummkopf, signifying bupkis. And the meta-meta-theme: I'm not crazy, I'm just speaking in tongues.

Nancy 9:18 AM  

Quite enjoyable, I thought, with a bit more "crunch" than usual this early in the week. The theme was irrelevant to me and I solved as a themeless. But I liked the way so many easy words were clued in a way that kept the answers from being obvious. The 1A/1D cross made for a nice, puzzling start: I had no idea which 4-letter instrument is the first one heard in "She's leaving Home" and as for HOST at 1D, I was looking more for something like MEAT or FOOD or NOSH. POTLUCK has a nice, playful clue, too -- so the NW corner, where I normally enter, was harder than usual for a Tuesday. Yes, I know there is the perfectly awful IKEAS and the perfectly awful ROILY and the ubiquitous UMA and RIAL and OLIO -- but still, it was reasonably fun to solve considering the day of the week.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

"with the exception of ROILY, which I actually guessed early but Refused to believe"

This. OMG, so this!

GILL I. 9:30 AM  

Darn...I had AIKEB/SHEEBA.
Hi @Andrea...You made me look up BICURIOUS. What a terrific word and from San Francisco no doubt.
I rather enjoyed this DNF romp. I did have two head scratchers though. I've never heard of WHITE TEA and I only know CONTE as crayons I use when drawing. ROILY is kinda cute in a doily sort of way. And, like @Loren, I like these type of puzzles and never tire of them.
@Lewis...I was so proud of getting UTAH. DH went for Nevada. The new winner looks so dour and spiders on her sweater no less!!

Jackie 9:36 AM  

Let's not forget TIM TIN TIP, all in close proximity to each other.

With ROILY in place, I was hoping we'd see SKYEY too.

Carola 9:53 AM  

Yes, a hoary theme type, but one I like: I enjoyed going back and enumerating the HOUSEs in all their diversity (@Glimmerglass, I did notice the BIG CATS). I thought the reveal was unusually good, too.

I smiled when I got to ATONER, thinking, "Yeah, you oughta be, after TREE ANIMAL and ROILY."

Steve Silver 10:06 AM  

I've been enjoying Rex's blog for some time and appreciate the effort he puts into commenting on the puzzle each day. I will confess that there are times when I think he's overly harsh in his commentary. That said, he would have been justified in devoting his entire column to the sheer awful awfulness of "ROILY." Roily? Really? This is NOT a word. Not even in Natick!

seanm 10:21 AM  

CONTE and SETTE were tough foreign words for me. i guess we're supposed to know 1-10 for all the major european languages? so the latter seems fairer than the former. agreed on the plural of IAMB, though at least that last letter was a gimme for pretty much everyone. OME is terrible. TECS is also terrible. SESS and HIREE are both bad.

but the worst cross was the AIKEN/SHEENA natick

G.Harris 10:35 AM  

Never knew conte even though I took French, got it with crosses and hoped. Ome crossing iambi was my undoing even though I am a poet, totally unfair.

Mohair Sam 10:37 AM  

Puzzle was tough for us, but we struggled through. We had TLC at 45A (Something worth waiting for), which gave us ROLLY instead of ROILY (a better answer, frankly) and cost us a ton of time - especially since we didn't know CONTE and are not fans of SCAMPI.

The puzzle would have been mightily improved with Rex's clue for IAMBI and @LMS's idea for BIGhouse and CAThouse. Learned WHITETEA today. 'OME? OMG! Who needs more than one IKEA?

As many of you have noted, final Jeopardy! informed us last night that the California Gull is the STATE BIRD of Utah. The bird is so honored because they flew in off The Great Salt Lake and gobbled up a horde of locusts who were destroying the crops of the new Mormon colony in 1848. Those "locusts" are believed to actually have been katydids. Did you know that if you add 37 to the number chirps you hear from an American katydid in a 15 second period you'll get a fairly accurate reading of the temperature (Fahrenheit). Beat that factoid.

pauer 10:50 AM  

@PMDM: Easy puzzles don't have to have boring fill (or themes, for that matter). Check out the samples here: www.patrickspuzzles.com/cake

If you want to try my fave 2016 Election Day puzzle (so far), here is Francis Heaney's latest masterpiece:
PDF https://t.co/OkZi7HwYnm
.puz https://t.co/IwisdiNBsB

QuasiMojo 10:50 AM  

I "roily" hated this one. What a disappointment for election day. And considering how "turbulent" this election year has been, I am shocked that Will Shortz didn't even try to have a vote themed puzzle today. Once when I submitted a puzzle he said I had "missed an opportunity." Payback time! :)

Who can like a puzzle that seems as crusty and tired as this one? Not only do we have good old "Erma" Bombeck back but the dread "olio" and "erse" for "gael." And then "Aral Sea" yet again? No wonder the poor thing's dried up. The NYT has sucked the life out of it. And isn't a "conte" any old French tale? I don't think of Balzac's droll stories as "adventures."

Oddly "roily" was one of the first answers I sussed out but I hesitated to write it in because it was so grotesque I didn't want to sully the grid with it. As for "Tsar." That should have been "Tsarina" as in Elizabeth for whom Peter the Great built the Winter Palace. Much more enlightening.

O Will Weng, where are thou?

Ellen S 10:53 AM  

@rutterj2 -- perfect use of "ROILY" in a sentence!

I solved this one with the assistance of my 6-week-old Foster kitten. He is an ace at climbing, now practicing advanced balancing -- scaled the wire dog crate and made his way across the top, then leaped over to the bed (he's perfecting his leaping) to sit on the top of the iPad -- it's in a fancy case, so the top edge is about 1/2 inch thick. Not an easy perch but he can do it. Once there, he helps with the puzzle, batting at the screen so when I type a letter it goes somewhere unexpected.

Oh-oh, no more typing. Now it's my own cat come to claim my arm.

Numinous 11:17 AM  

Dayam! I learned a new word today. Never heard of CONTE, pronounced without the E, as a short adventure story. Looked it up and Merriam-Webster tells me it's from the French. Sadly, that's all it tells me. Wish I had an OED.

BIG HOUSE and CAT[S] HOUSE occurred to me too, @Loren. This puzzle didn't bother me as much as it had bothered some but things like IKEAS made me cringe. I vaguely recall that in Los Angeles one had a choice of locations but I may be wrong (Google maps tells me there are four in the LA area).

ROILY poily little doily? Somehow I doubt it.

There were a buncha words here that gave me pause while I was solving but they don't seem to accumulate during the process. Looking back? Yeah! There was a lot that was cringe-worthy. What really got to me was SCAMPI. Since I didn't know CONTE and my other half doesn't eat shrimp unless it's deep fried in batter, SCAMPI, as a dish, just doesn't crop up in my garlic lover thinking. We add roasted garlic bulbs to several dishes here but that just didn't fit. Break up a roasted garlic bulb into a crock pot dish and, well, wonderful.

I'm sort of glad there wasn't an election puzzle today, I've already voted. Either way, tomorrow will be the end of America as we knew it.

Will Nediger 11:20 AM  

I wrote an Election Day schrodinger puzzle too, kinda like Francis Heaney's but kinda not: http://cruciverbalistatlaw.blogspot.ca/2016/11/week-137-guest-puzzle-decision-by-will.html

old timer 11:47 AM  

"I'm a TEC" said Sam Spade never. Oddly, "I'm a tech" is very much in the language.

Sometimes OFL is a cranky ass, But this puzzle needed to be taken out and shot. Oh, like @LMS I enjoyed the theme and admired its density, and like many of you I noted the almost-themer, BIGCATS. Still, no excuse for all the crosswordese and ROILY.

No excuse either for the clue for CONTE. I kind of think the original word in that place was "geste" which could fit the clue. But a CONTE is any kind of tale, and is more likely to be humorous or bawdy than some adventure story. Should have been clued simply as "story".

Anoa Bob 12:15 PM  

TREE ANIMAL?? Isn't a TREE a plant?

This puzzle strikes me as precursor to the birth of a new genre of word play, one where the pesky necessity of having word-like substances (ROILY, IAMBI, etc.) crossing the theme entries will be completely done away with and just the themers and a final reveal will be it. Looking at @Martin's list, we could have had 8-10 themers today, easily, and any number of reveals would have worked.

And judging from comments today and in the past, there would certainly be an audience for that kind of format.

Then the other branch of that bifurcation would have the standard grid format and restrictions with an emphasis on interesting words/vocabulary crossing one another, maybe, but not necessarily, a theme, and then only if it supported and enhanced that emphasis, and a heavy taboo on crosswordese and dreck.

And judging from comments today and in the past, there would certainly be an audience for that kind of format too.

On another note, accepted in 2013 and published in 2016?. Wow! Would not that kind of lengthy delay discourage constructors, especially top-notch ones, from submitting puzzles to the NYT? You get an acceptance from the editor and then you wait years, YEARS!, before you even know when it's going to be published. Is that kind of practice acceptable in any other area of publication?

Mohair Sam 12:22 PM  

Oh yeah, forgot. I, for one, want to thank Will Shortz for NOT giving us an election themed puzzle.

Ω 12:22 PM  

@pauer - Thanks for the Heaney. LOL funny.

Numinous 12:41 PM  

Was called away from my desk for a while. I had intended to wish @Hartley 70 a late Happy Birthday. Also one to @r.alph in case I forgot a day or so ago.

Joseph Michael 12:42 PM  

So I'M GAY yesterday and I AM BI today. What's the puzzle trying to tell us?

Wanted my Rice and Curry to be an Ann instead of a TIM and never heard of CONTE. But did like the concept of a TREE ANIMAL even if it doesn't make for good fill.

Thought that the theme was okay and liked the themer stacks and long downs. So, while it's true that there was some ROILY bad fill, the puzzle deserves at least a couple of OLEs.

RooMonster 12:51 PM  

Hey All !
Agree with all the ugh-ness others have already pointed out. Another nit I have is STORE HOUSE. What the hey? WareHOUSE, sure, but STOREHOUSE?? I did like the theme density, I'm a fan of lots of theme. However, if the fill suffers enough, then maybe you need to pare it down. I personally think most of the -ese if acceptable. There are a few oofs, ROILY, TECS, OME (better clue?, ___ O My), and the Ridiculously POC IKEAS.

Did find the stacked themers impressive.

@old timer 11:47, ROFL at your "this puzzle needed to be taken out and shot." Awesome statement!

So, we get a New President today. Hoo Boy, if it's Trump, the Democrats will exit the country Stage Right saying We're all screwed. If it's Clinton, the Republicans might actually revolt, as they won't be able to wrap their heads around the fact that the American people don't have a clue that the entire world will now end. Another fun things to think about, how did Liberal and Conservative come about? Most "Conservatives" seem to not be that. They don't think it's wrong to cheat on their wives, drinking in excess ain't too bad, and every one of them wants a gun. Hmm. One persons opinion, of course.

BLOAT (Like this election)

Tom 1:17 PM  

ROILY didn't like IAMBI. Made-up word for convenience. TECS seems ancient.

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

What's the problem with TREEANIMAL?.

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

I am not the Michael D that created today's puzzle (sorry for the confusion) I did create the rejected election schrodinger though, check it out here:


Michael D 1:26 PM  

I am not he... here is my schrodinger effort tho! http://michaelscrosswords.blogspot.ca/?m=1

andrea carla michaels 1:41 PM  

@Michael Down, Thank you! Thank you!
I also wanted to mention that the UMA/ERMA cross reminded me of the Letterman Oscar Fiasco of UMA...OPRAH...OPRAH...UMA!

Teedmn 1:42 PM  

The SepTE hills of Rome tripped me up today. I couldn't see why a lawyer would be an ApT but hey, there are a lot of things I don't understand about today!

And TIP as something worth waiting for? Very clever but over my head when I was solving. Very nice clue! My brains must be all ROILY from taking my elderly father to vote today since I didn't get it right away.

Not being acquainted with Kipling's piece, I was okay thinking that, like Juliet, he was just being repetitive, "Follow me, O me". Thanks, @Rex, for smoking that one out for me!

This was a nice puzzle with a clever reveal answer and little dreck on a Tuesday (I didn't notice most of @Rex's complaints) - too bad I wasn't on more of a puzzle wavelength. Thanks, Mr. Doran.

puzzle hoarder 1:43 PM  

The problem with a theme density goal above all else is not so much in the inevitable effect on the fill but the quality compromise of the themers themselves. TREEANIMAL and ARTSTORE are most likely only debuts because no one would use them.
CONTE was my favorite part of the puzzle and that T was my final letter. This actually got me to dig out that 2008 puzzle to prove that I'd entered it before.
@kitshef, between it's singular and plural forms TEC has appeared 111x in the Shortz era! Good luck not seeing it again.
@Numious my Webster's is an '89. It defines a CONTE as "a usu. short tale of adventure." This is the Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary to be exact.

Anonymous 2:35 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 2:36 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 2:38 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 3:55 PM  

HOUSE puz!
Don't wanna forget the senate, tho.

fave corner of desperation: that SESS/IKEAS area. Ooo … no, wait -- maybe the IAMBI/OME one ...

fave entries: BEEFY. NSEC [downright precious]. POTLUCK. SCAMPI. NASALLY [Adverbier than snot]. BIGCAT+S [As many near-house fans have admired] … [@Anoa dude: BIGCATs is like a plural of inconvenience, huh?] ... but, I tigress.

ROILY cool weeject: UMA.

Hardest change to make: Wanted GAUL, pre-GAEL. This created a surgeons supply of UTHER. M&A desperately tried to convince hisself that this made some kinda sense. Eventually, had to plow that U under (lil darlin), blinded by the TEARs.

TREEANIMAL is ok. Not superb, mind U -- but, ok. Some might argue it's "sorta squirrelly". I'm gonna give er a free pass, in honor of theme density greed. Don't make me come down there, tho, @Shortzmeister.

Masked & Anonymo3us

May all yer election day dreams come true. Peace on earth, good will toward Americans.


Anonymous 4:38 PM  

@Roo Monster
"So, we get a New President today. Hoo Boy, if it's Trump, the Democrats will exit the country Stage Right saying We're all screwed. If it's Clinton, the Republicans might actually revolt, as they won't be able to wrap their heads around the fact that the American people don't have a clue that the entire world will now end. Another fun things to think about, how did Liberal and Conservative come about? Most "Conservatives" seem to not be that. They don't think it's wrong to cheat on their wives, drinking in excess ain't too bad, and every one of them wants a gun. Hmm. One persons opinion, of course.

I'll try to give a short answer. True "Conservatives" actually believe in God and the original intent of the Constitution in its Judea u-Christian values. When we find those of our own that do not live up to that standard they are usually disregarded and dispatched; Nixon as an example. Now, we are in different times and so Conservatives are willing to go with Trump at this time even knowing his shortcomings. The reason:
Liberals are now "Secular Humanists". As such, they replace themselves as God which means they make up human standards and the Constitution becomes a "living" document that doesn't mean what it means. They make it up as they go along.
Be careful what you wish for. Old quote, "A government that can give you everything you want is powerful enough to take everything you have". GWood

Hartley70 4:50 PM  

@Numi 12:41, thanks for the wishes. You're a peach!

Anonymous 5:07 PM  

@Roo Monster
BTW-as for guns, most of mine are hand me downs from my Grandfather who was an LAPD motorcycle cop. He also started a Rod and Gun club in the Lake Isabella area. Learned how to handle weapons at 8. You don't point them at anything you don't want dead. And if you do kill a duck, goose, deer, fish, (either fresh or saltwater), etc. that nothing went to waist. It was all used.
Lastly, I don't think Hilary, (or Bill), is against their Secret Service agents carrying them. GWood

Nancy 5:57 PM  

Re: 37A, which seems to have bothered a lot of people. (Please note, I am doing this laboriously by hand, since I don't know how to embed):

From "TOMMY":
Then it's Tommy this an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll...

And from GUNGA DIN:
'E carried me away
To where a dooli lay.
'An a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean.
'E put me safe inside,
An' just before 'e died:
"I 'ope you like your drink," sez Gunga Din.

If you know your Kipling and if you love your Kipling as I do, 'OME was a very easy guess. Cockney, and hall that, as I 'ope you know.

Anonymous 6:09 PM  

Did none of the game go to waist because you ran 10 miles after eating them?

Anonymous 6:13 PM  

Quite appropriate. Here is a good link: http://www.gradesaver.com/rudyard-kipling-poems/study-guide/summary-gunga-din What seems to be lost in the conversation is that "white" people have often gone through as much struggle to assist those who are not. It seems the "left" only sees it as a one-way street. That is what is being lost in these discussions. Examples are too numerous to even mention. Just look. GWood

Anonymous 6:17 PM  

Watch the movie "Glory". Good watch.

chefbea 6:44 PM  

What is going on here??? Don't understand some of these comments.

Anonymous 6:59 PM  

@Anon 6:09
Funny. Guess you've never had a spell check error. They did go to my waist because I don't waste.

RooMonster 7:01 PM  

@GWood, I'm an independent, I don't want either one to win! :-) I did like your explanations.
I have nothing against gun owning, it's a right. I was merely stating observations I've seen. Maybe through jaded eyes, but really, don't we all think that what our view of right is, is right? (Did that make sense?)


Anonymous 8:54 PM  

@ Roo Monster
Sure. We all have on our own life experiences. My perspective is that we need to rely on and work together. Other than white friends, I know I my best friend is Mexican and have a few black friends who would want me in their "foxhole" if it came to it, (ex-Rangers, Berets and such). Call it paranoia if you wish. But just because you are paranoid doesn't mean "they" aren't out to get you. NOT talking about longtime friends. However, sometimes I don't feel like the feeling is reciprocated by most others. Such is my hesitation to willingly accept such a feeling as friendship. Had a similar conversation with Z a few days back. Sitting down over a beer, which I surmise you are against based on the drinking comment, and just trying to get along might problem, but I'm willing to try. Well, I can't control that and could be totally off target, (sorry about the gun pun).
Whatever happens believe I won't start another "Revolution". Already stated, if she wins I'll be in Mexico fishing. If not, Corpus Christi here I come. ;-)

Kathy 9:34 PM  

Thank you @anonymous 4:38pm +.
There are many here who agree with you.

Leapfinger 9:34 PM  


Or... Well, there's always ANIMAL FARM...

Anonymous 9:50 PM  

@Kathy 9:34
Thanks. Appreciate the comment. We don't have to be rude. Just say what we are "free", hopefully, to say. GWood

Chaos344 4:40 AM  

Does anyone really care about the puzzle today?


My heart goes out to all the hard core liberal-progressive posters here at Rex’s blog. If we are honest here, and we usually are, then we’re talking about 90% of the regular posters. I sincerely hope that none of you are in a hospital with slashed and/or bandaged wrists, or on a suicide watch. I’m sure you’re not feeling quite so cocky about all the snide and snarky comments many of you have made on this blog over the last year?

Remember, I always discouraged political commentary on the blog. I only responded to blatant and obvious political jabs when someone insisted on throwing down the gauntlet. Isn’t it funny how people tend to shut up when the political tide turns!

Special thanks to the State of Michigan. I was born in Saginaw. Also, thanks to my Danish relatives in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I know George Barany campaigned tirelessly for Donald Trump, and I know he was devastated that Minnesota was not the state that put Trump over the top. Maybe next time!

Well, as I watch the TV, Donald Trump is now walking on to the stage as the president elect. Very gracious in congratulating Hillary on a hard fought battle. She didn't deserve it! Also gracious to recognize Rudy Giuliani, Reince Priebus, Chris Christie and many others for his victory.

Think about what Donald had to overcome:

The Clinton Machine,( The Most Corrupt Aggregation Of Political Cohorts Ever Assembled)

The Lame Stream Media ( ABC, CBS, NBC. CNN, MSNBC, NPR, NYT, WaPo, on and on)

Hollywood, Academia, a majority of the Latino and African-American community, women with college degrees, the majority of the LBGTQ community, etc. His victory was nothing short of a miracle!

So, no liberal Supreme Court in the near future. As of 4:05 EST, one democratic pick-up in the Senate. Five pick-ups in the house. Three more Republican governors for a total of 33.

If the concept of Schadenfreude could be measured in tonnage or volume, I would be experiencing enough to load a 100 car freight train and several super tankers!

Revenge is indeed a dish eaten cold!

Laura 2:43 AM  

Your "miracle" was Russian hacks, James Comey & FBI leakers, false news all over FB & Twitter, 20 years of anti-Hillary propaganda, and "other"-angst, possibly fueled by the KKK. Romney called it right on this con man, yet I pray he becomes Sec'y of State. Bannon scares the bejeezus out of half the country. Sessions, the last of the Great Southern Racists, as AG should give everyone pause. We pine for Dubya and heckava job Brownie.

Burma Shave 9:38 AM  


IVE got some LIGHT GREEN stuff rolled, which MAE AVAIL us POTLUCK.


rondo 10:28 AM  

I did just fine on this puz except for that dollar sign ($) I made while writing the I over the S in IAMBI. Odd enough answer without the dollar sign. T$N. Hmm.

TREEANIMAL seems like a GREEN paintish grade-school answer. ANIMALs that live mostly in TREEs are arboreal ANIMALs, which, of course, does not fit the grid nor the theme.

Got a free ride this morning on the 35E MnPASS , since I carpool. BTW, 35E is connected to many CO.RD.S

If you say “ONT i magen” in Swedish, it’s a stomach ache. Maybe a BLOAT.

Once again, OLE without Sven. “Sven pal” is the clue IVE been waiting for. Maybe next June at the MN Xword Tourney?

UMA has gotten far too much yeah baby play recently so I will stretch it out to include Tanya Roberts who played SHEENA in the film and Gina Lee Nolan who played SHEENA on TV. Or of course SHEENA Easton, who was the only performer of a Bond theme to appear on-screen, and for good reason. Yeah baby.

IVE gotta go to a meeting. The END.

rondo 10:30 AM  

don't know how that jumped out

spacecraft 11:42 AM  

Occasionally I wake from a deep, dreamless sleep to a living nightmare: it's a day when OFL says exactly what I was thinking. What am I turning into? But yeah, verbatim what he said today.

And for DOD, I'll reiterate @rondo's paragraph; GMTA, dude.

Without the plural, 25-across would be a themer! Not that I've ever been to either place. Mr. Doran took a driver (dense theme) on this hole, but he paid the price (fill). The NE would actually be better if 13-down were replaced by four cheater squares. Double bogey.

spacecraft 11:45 AM  

P.S. For a long time we didn't have a captcha; now all of a sudden every day we have to check all the squares that have a...whatever. Tee-Dee-Um.

leftcoastTAM 1:28 PM  

Before reading any comments:

So does the revealer really "open" the HOUSEs attached to all the words in the theme answers? I this what it "can do"? Okay, if you say so, but I don't quite buy it. A different clue could have salvaged all these houses.

A couple of trip-ups: Horn before HARP to start and WAIF before NAIF a little further on. The SETTE/CONTE cross also need a writeover.

ROILY? OK, but a little awkward.

This could have been a first-rate Tuesday with a little tweaking, IMO.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

A joy to solve -best Tuesday puzzle in memory.

Diana,LIW 1:51 PM  

Mine only 'plaint was the Natick of SHEENA, HANSON, CONTE. My brief studies of Italian gave me SETTE, but once again, years and years of French gave me no help at all. Mon dieu! Had a sign of sadness.

Thanks for mentioning the captcha, @Spacey. I thought I was suddenly doing something wrong. Which one do you hate the most? Me? The store fronts. The pics are so small I have to put on a new pair of glasses to see which is a warehouse and which is a "store." Feh!

Rest of the puzzle was just fine, for me, with some clever clueing bringing the occasional smile. Worth waiting for.

@Lefty - the "OPEN" is the "opening" word to the new phrase, like WHITE HOUSE, TEA HOUSE, etc. (I, too, was thinking "key" or some such at first, and was re-puzzled.)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, and the street signs

Diana,LIW 1:52 PM  

That was funny. The street signs came up!


leftcoastTAM 4:16 PM  

@Diana: Looks more to me like "HOUSE is the closing word to the new phrase. It depends on how the word "OPEN" is meant to be used in the puzzle. I, too, thought of it as "opening" up the new phrase, but I didn't like that usage very much. Just a personal peeve.

rondo 7:49 PM  

Also, in my world the only combination of IAMBI is if those letters follow a G as in a baseball player, last name gIAMBI, like Jason.

And IVE been getting the captchas probably 80% of the time or more since de-moderation. So all those signs and storefronts and foods and mountains and rivers and street number addresses and trees and apartment buildings and scenes with grass and pictures of coffee and . . . well, you can tell they are not new to me!

Sharon AK 11:01 PM  

Ilm with those who really enjoyed the theme. And Like Loren, said all the words , mentally, to check them all out.
I had thought Big Cats was one and was bothered by the s on cats which didn't work.

I kind of agree that "roily" is some how unbelievable, but it is in my American Heritage fourth edition, so it much have been used a few places besides this puzzle.

I agree with the anonymous who would like to see Rex cheer up. Don't remember his being so grouchy about the puzzles when I first found the blog.
Still am in awe of his ability to find recordings, photos, etc to include. I still have no idea how he does it, besides knowing it would take me as long for each one as the quarter hour or more it takes me to do the Monday-Wednesday puzzles.

SharonAK 11:06 PM  

PS It is important that at the early week puzzles repeat a lot of short fill. When I first started solving, those were the toes in the door, the words that made the solving possible.

But I do wonder, often, if there are any rules about abbreviations. Many of them seem totally arbitrary and made up./
And I would like there to be an end to Uma.

leftcoastTAM 2:40 AM  

@SharonAK: UMA is a goddess; there is no end to a goddess.

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