Czech-made auto that's part of Volkswagen Group / TUE 1-3-16 / Pope said to have died from heart attack while in bed with his mistress / Chain of children's stores founded by Kaufman brothers hence its name

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Constructor: Michael Shteyman

Relative difficulty: Challenging (mid-4s)

THEME: ATANDT (44D: Communications giant ... or a possible  title of this puzzle) — themers are two-word phrases where first word starts "AT-" and second word starts "T-":

Theme answers:
  • ATLANTIC TIME (20A: Puerto Rico clock setting)
  • ATHLETIC TRAINER (37A: Fitness pro)
  • ATOMIC THEORY (54A: Basis of particle physics)
Word of the Day: SKODA (43A: Czech-made auto that's part of the Volkswagen Group) —
Škoda Auto (Czech pronunciation: [ˈʃkoda]), more commonly known as Škoda, is a Czech automobile manufacturer founded in 1895 as Laurin & Klement. It is headquartered in Mladá Boleslav, Czech Republic. // In 1925 Laurin & Klement was acquired by Škoda Works which itself became state owned during the communist regime. After 1991 it was gradually privatized and in 2000 Škoda became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group. // Initially, the company was meant to serve the role of the VW Group’s entry brand. Over time, however, the Škoda brand has shifted progressively more upmarket, with most models overlapping with their Volkswagen counterparts on price and features, while eclipsing them on space. Its total global sales reached 1.06 million cars in 2015 and had risen annually by 1.8 percent, profit had risen by 6,5%. In 2015, a corporate strategy was launched to produce an all-electric car by 2020 or 2021 with a range of over 500 kilometres (310 mi), 15-minute charging time, and a cost below comparative combustion-engine vehicles. (wikipedia)
• • •

This puzzle is stunningly bad. There are so many levels on which it is bad ... here, let me count them. First, there's the theme, which would be merely blah (FLAT, if you will) were it not for the flaming dumpster of a revealer. No one has ever written ATANDT that way. And this will surprise you—Not Even In Crosswords. At least according to the cruciverb database, this stylization is Completely ... well, I guess you could say "original," but that word has certain positive connotations I wish not to convey here. Placement of revealer is awkward, but not 1/10 as awkward as writing ATANDT that way. But we're just getting started. The fill—esp. for a Tuesday—is ridiculous. Both inappropriate to the day And atrocious. LORAIN? LEOVII? APTNO!? That's only the truly repulsive; that's not even starting in on the copious amounts of over-familiar dreck you might find clogging any old (and I mean old) puzzle, e.g. ELHI, PALO, OSS, HAHA, and on and on and on. Where am I on my bad-count, I lost track. Three? Who cares, there's more. The Scrabble-f***ing is an embarrassment: naked, repeated, and entirely deleterious. That impulse to crowd the grid with high-value Scrabble tiles always, Always leads to disaster. Tell me that "Q" in the NW corner (god it hurts even to look at it) is worth it, for the QTR / UAE / ABA run we have to endure to get it. You can't. You can't tell me it's worth it unless you enjoy lying. And then ... nice "Z" I guess, but it gets us a bleeping ZIMA, which leads me to another issue: what year is it? One where LOCAL CALL is a thing that makes sense? Where you drink your ZIMA and play with your ENIAC and shop at KB TOYS (Which Don't Exist Anymore) (where's a "bygone" when you need one!?) (52A: Chain of children's stores founded by the Kaufman brothers (hence its name)). Yikes.

Still more trouble: [Fitness pro] is way, way, way too vague a clue for ATHLETIC TRAINER, esp. on a Tuesday. Lots of non-Tuesdayness (incl. some not-bad (and tough) "?" clues like [Dead-tired?] for FLAT, which I would've loved to encounter ... on, say, a Thursday). And finally there's SKODA. [cough] [cough] [wind blows through trees] [a raven croaks in the distance]. For me—and I won't be alone here—this is not an answer so much as a random assortment of letters. How do I know I won't be alone here? Well, this "Czech-made auto"—like ATANDT—is not in the cruciverb database. At all. So, it's a Tuesday, and we get a brand that has literally never appeared in a major crossword before. And not just a brand, but a brand that, per wikipedia, can be found "Worldwide" (ooh, that's promising) ... "except North America" (o... k). Now, I know this doesn't apply to all of you, but I happen to be solving this puzzle in North America, and the NYT is based in North America. As a solver I have to know many things that have nothing to do with North America, and that's as it should be. But this is a ridiculous ask. On any day of the week, but especially on a Tuesday. This is not cleverness, or inventiveness. This is poor fill. Just poor. The constructor is not a novice. He's a veteran. I have no idea how a puzzle breaks down this badly. Or why it's allowed to. Happy ongoing new year.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


chefwen 3:24 AM  

I may be wrong here, but I'm guessing Rex did not care for this one.

Other than spat at 6A, TUNA fixed that and AAH at 44A, no problems. Started off a little difficult, but got easier as I went along. Typical Tuesday.

Charles Flaster 3:30 AM  

Agree with Rex on all points.
At a minimum I thought I was solving a Thursday puzzle. Rex mentions most of the proper names with LORAIN being the most inconspicuous to me (but not to its inhabitants).
I never changed vOODOO to HOODOO but I like mine better. All we need is a text abbreviation for AHV.
Liked cluing for TRENCHES and HOAX.
MS puzzles are always better than this one and I enjoy them.
Anyway, thanks MS and I know your next
one will be much more appropriate.

jae 3:33 AM  

Medium-tough for me. Did not know HARIBO or SKODA. I do know that random Popes are often LEOs and that LORAIN, Ohio is near where I grew up.

Is there still a distinction between LOCAL and long distance CALLs?

Pretty much what @Rex said only a tad less harshly.

Re: LAYLA. Had dinner with the grandkids (14 and 18) and neither of them knew LAYLA. Plus they only knew two of the Beatles (John and Paul). I have zero reason to believe they will acquire this knowledge down the road. Pop culture fades fast.

Loren Muse Smith 3:58 AM  

I hate this. When Rex eviscerates a puzzle and then I have to chime in go all Melanie Wilkes on everyone.

This morning I’m reminded of the time Mom made me a grilled cheese sandwich that I devoured, enjoyed.

How was it?
It had mayonnaise on it.

I hated mayonnaise back then. Hated it. But I didn’t even notice it. Hah.

So as usual, I had to go back and notice the UAE and OSS and other mayonnaise because I had totally missed them. I did notice SKODA. But it didn’t make me all angry and bitter. I immediately pictured a Yoda Skoda. And then I thought a good name for the dealership would be the Skoda Pagoda. Or Club Skoda. Do they sell Skoda scooters? I swear – I had all these thoughts. So with that entry I was at once really amused and a bit sorry for Michael.

The way AT&T was written out didn’t make me angry, either. I just took it for what it was: AT and T. That’s at least the way I always say it. Cool. Two-word expressions that are AT- T-.

As usual, the pesky UAEs and ABAs are there to lead me to The Holy Grail – the theme. Figuring out the trick/gimmick/riddle is all I’m after on these puzzles. And yeah, yeah - we’ve argued this theme/fill deal ad nauseam. Anyway, there can’t be too many other possibilities for themers. Attic treasure? Atmospheric tides? Meh.

But, BUT… thinking about attic treasures made me think of my bigmama and bigdaddy and their irresistible attic in Newton, NC.

Grandma - GR and MA.
Grandpa- GR and PA.

Hah! So there’s where the real fun comes in for me – a nice little diversion thinking of things like GREEN PARTY, GRAPH PAPER, GRANNY PANTIES, GROWING PAINS.

I also liked, TACIT, QUALM, and MIKE TYSON. Can you imagine waking up and noticing that your partying involved getting a tattoo around your eye? One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, oops.

jae 4:28 AM  

@lms - I'm reasonably sure the grandkids will never know who Melanie Wilkes is. That said, they do know who Katniss is.

Cassieopia 5:05 AM  

Hand up for a) not knowing Melanie Wilkes and b) finding this puzzle easy - 5 mins off my Tuesday average. SKODA, ATHLETICTRAINER, and even APTNO and KBTOYS came easily but I will admit they didn't give me any pleasure (well, except maybe SKODA, it's a well-known make of car and the letter combination is pleasing, makes me think of a mash-up of scooter and Dakota.)

By my count there were about 25 names in the puzzle which seems high, about 34% of the puzzle. So, about 1/3 the puzzle presented possible Natick potential. And none of the clues gave me any frissons of delight to solve the way a good misdirecting or clever clue does.

So - the inverse Rex Principle remains in place for me (his "challenging" is my "easy" and vice versa), and while I would not use eviscerating language to describe the puzzle, as Rex has, I do agree that is was lower on the "fun-to-solve" scale.

Moly Shu 5:21 AM  

Same experience as @Chefwen. SKODA and HARIBO were no problem. When I finished, I looked over the grid and saw QUALM, and thought "that's a cool word and a nice start to a puzzle, I wonder what the downs are?" My very next thought was "oh no, @Rex is gonna blow a gasket". I guess I'm like @LMS, I usually don't notice bad fill or problems while I'm solving, but OFL has taught me or maybe conditioned me to notice it when I'm done.

Anonymous 5:26 AM  

Not sure what brought on the hate for Skoda. Never heard of Skoda? Yugo? Seat? Lada? Trabant? Looks like a case of "gonna complain since I never heard of it." Sure easier to complain rather than to learn something. I'm betting many of the NYT puzzle solvers know what a Skoda is. Many of us have been to Europe or read the paper.

ATandT? Didn't we have this conversation about MandM's? MrandMrs?

Spitz? LazBoy?



Steve Hardgrave 5:39 AM  

I liked it an awful lot more than Rex did- any Tuesday that poses any sort of challenge is welcome.

I also have to defend Skoda. (Full disclosure- I live in Ireland, so not North America, and actually drive a Skoda. It's a great car, essentially a VW Passat that's been stretched for more interior room and has a higher equipment spec.) Anyway, anybody who's ever traveled to Europe will have seen many of them, they're making over a million cars a year.

I was also going to point out that "Alfa" appears in puzzles pretty frequently, in the context of Alfa Romeo, which also aren't sold in North America, but it appears that I'm wrong- they've reintroduced the Alfa brand to the US.

I am not a robot 5:51 AM  

To have finished this puzzle without the opposite of an ah ha moment (which was an oh no moment) would've been lovely. Just do the same puzzle without the cringer ATandT and I would've nominated it for the Most Fun Tuesday Ever trophy. Qualm, taboo, tiff, react? What's not to love?

Of course, I remember the pre-phone addiction years when they were connected to the wall and if by some rare, rare chance you were forced to beg the use of a phone in a public place to call home and say, for instance, "I have a flat can dad come and fix it," you always said to the phone lender, "It's a local call, thank you." So that phrase made sense to me. Which just reminded me of exactly how old I must actually be. Damn.

Vanessa 5:56 AM  

As someone who shopped at KB TOYS many years ago and has spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe (I got SKODA right away), this one was fine for me until the SW corner... I didn't understand what ATANDT meant until I read this blog post.

John Child 6:24 AM  

I was very amused by today's post. OFL at his Rexiest.

I rather liked this puzzle. A few clunkers, but some lovely vocabulary too. It seemed perfectly Tuesday-ish to me, and the app tells me I was a little faster than normal for the day.

As I solved I was disappointed to think 'A and T only?' Then I got it and had the sort of AHA moment that's rare on a Tuesday. Two thumbs up from me.

da kine 6:38 AM  

If the NYT trying to normalize "Skoda" now? It is unacceptable that a car that is driven throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa be included as an answer here.

Oh, wait, we're supposed to try to expand our horizons beyond our little corner of the world.

There's a Skoda dealer about 4 km from my office so I got it pretty easily. Oh, I'm sorry, I meant about 2 miles from my office. Americans don't use kilometers so that's also a no-go in RexLand.

Lewis 6:59 AM  

This puzzle gave me more resistance than a typical Tuesday, and this was a good thing. Seemed like a high number of proper names, but the crosses were fair. I liked the clues for RAYS and FLATS, and the cross of HOAX/HAHA. The theme was Tuesdayish and didn't help the solve, but the solve kept me so engaged I didn't mind that there were no particularly clever gimmicks.

I see the House of Representatives just pulled an NC and in the puzzle we have the adjoining HOTAIR and HOODOO, which reminds me of... oh never mind. I like the cross of MOTTO and REACT, because my motto this New Year is to react to all egregious actions taken in the upper political sphere -- to be ever vigilant. I think it's necessary, much more than usual.

I hope I don't have to react in this way a lot. The puzzle goes from QUALM to ENJOY. May this year go the same!

Hartley70 7:01 AM  

So now I have a plan. I choose to believe that the grandkids, when they f-i-n-a-l-l-y arrive, will know Melanie Wilkes and The Beatles, certainly by the time they can drive. If this starts to look doubtful, I'll leave a codicil saying they have to watch and listen before they can have their share of better than nothing from good old Granny. It's incomprehensible that GWTW or The Beatles could fade from memory so soon.

Yada, yada, yada. This was a more than okay Tuesday. It kept moving and I wasn't bored at all. I'm delighted to see LORAIN and SKODA (huh?) and to try to pronounce ATANDT before I realized it was the revealer. Good fun, that. On the theory that 1a predicts the puzzle's Q score, QUALM was a winner of a start. I learned two things and got an early morning head slap. What more could a girl want?

Anonymous 7:04 AM  

In an stands puzzle, two of the verticals include the word "call"

Kankakee Kay 7:27 AM  

I've heard people say New Yorkers are clueless about "western" geography...but Lorain, OH is not that far away, and is 50% larger than Binghamton!

I have never met a person in the Midwest who has never heard of Binghamton or even smaller Utica.

The Rhino 7:48 AM  

Zima reminds me of my first year of college. I was eighteen. I remember the feeling of the bottle in my hand. A good memory for a shitty drink.

Other than that - if only for the NW corner alone - I agree with Rex. It didn’t make me angry in the same way but I’ve done enough puzzles to see that this wasn’t a good one.

Passing Shot 7:50 AM  

Worry before QUALM, spat before TIFF, but they straightened themselves out with the downs. Sorry, this New Yorker has never heard of LORAIN and I don't care if that marks me as provincial. Have also never heard of an ELHI and I suspect this is a concept found only in crossword puzzles. Had no trouble with HARIBO and I have seen SKODAs.

Felt harder than a typical Tuesday but came in well under my normal time. Liked it.

evil doug 7:54 AM  

Here's what you do:
1. Purchase a large bag of Haribo Golden Bear gummies
2. Zip open, and set aside for approximately 10 days to properly age
3. Once the top layer of gummies becomes semi-hard--to the texture of Pine Brothers cough drops--they're ready to enjoy
4. Suck on gummies for a short time to re-soften enough to avoid dental trauma
5. Chew and repeat as desired
6. Order of preference from best to worst is green (strawberry), white (pineapple), red (raspberry), yellow (lemon) and orange (orange)
7. Where available, Haribo Twin Cherries are also outstanding
8. Accept no knockoff substitutes

r.alphbunker 7:57 AM  

A possible clue for SKODA is {___ hell}. This was not a puzzle to attempt without the down clues. Used to get ARENDT from A_ _ _DT. ATANDT was not an option. From {Ohio city on Lake Erie} _O_ _ _ _ I found TOLEDO on the Internet.

Details are here.

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

Rex's rant made my day - from the flaming dumpster to the raven croaking in the distance!!


kitshef 8:11 AM  

Old enough to be a grandpa -- and still don't know who Melanie Wilkes is.

A clear evolution in my puzzle sensitivity over the past two years is I no longer get het up about day-appropriateness. I still notice it, but it no longer makes or breaks a puzzle.

I figure early week, obscurity is fine but all the crosses need to be easy. Later week, even crossing obscurities are fine - as long as they are from different subjects.

Like @r.alph, I tried across-only. Like @r.alph, I crashed and burned. Mostly on LeRAIt/LEeVII/APTtO, but also HeAm/TeLL/Emit. The former is excusable -- a WoE crossing a random pope and an abbrev. The latter, not so much. HeAm??

Details are here You will see reza went in without hesitation before SHAH. I did eventually fix Kaybee and the rest of the E, but after the time limit.

Alexander Graham Siren 8:12 AM  

I live in Southern California and I've heard of LORAIN and SKODA. I hate Gummi Bears and always have but knew HARIBO. NAPALM is some pretty nasty stuff but I've always thought it was a cool sounding word. ATANDT is a perfectly fine answer and makes complete sense. All the fill was perfectly fine as well. I rate this puzzle as Easy because I am well rounded and informed, I guess.

As for LOCALCALL, despite my iPhone and iPad and internet arsenal, I maintain a land-line for earthquakes. Land-lines have their own power supply and work when cell towers are down (which happens easily). The phone I have attached to my land-line? A real 1920 Western Electric candlestick phone. Not a replica; a real 81AL with the "clickety-clack" dial. My nephews think the dial is the greatest thing ever. And this phone is built like a tank out of brass and steel; you could bludgeon someone to death with it, wipe it off, and then use it to call a defense attorney.

chefbea 8:18 AM  

Took forever to get any answer in this puzzle...agree with Rex completely!! too many things I never heard of. Had to google a lot. Did not like the puzzle at all!!!

Alexander Graham Siren 8:19 AM  

I forgot: my land-line billing plan is for LOCALCALLs only. Beyond that costs extra. So yeah, LOCALCALL is still a thing if you're smart and prepared.

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

I think people don't hear about LORAIN much because of its proximity to Cleveland. I'm wondering if it's considered a suburb. @Kankakee Kay, even though your city is small, many people know about it because it is far enough away from Chicago to have its own identity.

Lobster11 8:23 AM  

I didn't hate this quite as much as OFL did, but I agree with all his points except one: I don't have any problem with ATANDT. I don't see why the fact that we never write it that way renders it ineligible. Don't we accept lots of other answers that fit that description, such as hyphenated words and phrases that appear in the crossword sans hyphens?

Wm. C. 8:35 AM  

No problem at all with ATANDT. Chill, @Rex! Your over-the-top rant was UGLY.

Vaguely remember SKODA and Lorain from somewhere.

Had NAPALx for Incendiary Charge, but couldn't see the solve until I filled in Mike. Ugh!!!

@KKay -- You've heard of Binghamton, but (unlike @Rex) I bet you've never heard of the Rumble Ponies! (Sadly, they're getting a new name next year.)

Z 9:00 AM  

I swear to god I had LOCALCAL- and no clue. I live in Detroit, play ultimate with people from Cleveland and Toledo, have driven I-80 many times, and looking at -ORAIN put in an M and said to myself "odd name for a city in Ohio" (or, as we call it in Michigan, that flat desolate speed trap to the south). When I got the "you're wrong" buzz I ran the alphabet to fix my error. So, yeah, LOCAL CALL is a little dated. I did look it up on the map and Elyria is the EXIT I remember speeding past, not LORAIN.

No QUALM with QUALM, but LEO RRN dying by coitus interruptus? Maybe if he had followed @Evil Doug's HARIBO directions he'd still be with us, or am I getting that candy thing by Ogden Nash wrong?

I read @Muse's grilled cheese story and wondered if we should start calling bad fill mayonnaise and exceptionally bad fill miracle whip? Ampersandwiches always come with mayonnaise. I generally prefer a good spicy mustard.

@SKODA defenders - Just stop. @Muse has already done a much better job of making the word interesting than any of your "Rex already said why this point is invalid but I'm going to make it anyway" musings. Word to the wise, Muse good, musing bad.

I guess i should go do an actual PPP count.

Unknown 9:02 AM  

Perhaps Rex was channeling his Monday frustrations having not had the opportunity to nit-pick on Monday's puzzle? I am sure Annabel went easier on it than Rex.

As for Rex's ire over two answers not appearing in a database, I did not realize that was a standard by which a Tuesday (or any Day) puzzle had to abide.

Solidly 4 minutes faster than my average Tuesday time (largely because I've been solving the puzzles from the early 90s that are far more challenging).

Paul Rippey 9:09 AM  

I *LIKE* ATANDT. I got to ___NDT with solid crosses and had a couple of moments wondering what on Earth that was. Then had the little frisson when the answer came and the mystery was revealed. Those moments are what I do puzzles for. I would have thought First Use of a word was more likely a Good Thing than a Bad Thing.

Nancy 9:11 AM  

Loved it. It's so nice to get a Tuesday puzzle where you're not just plopping in letters as you're planning your grocery shopping or maybe even inventing plot twists for your novel. Imaginative cluing for LA-Z-BOY; MIKE TYSON; LOCAL CALL; RAYS; FLAT; LEO VII and especially TRENCHES. A theme that I needed at times to help me out when I was a bit...puzzled. I skimmed past Rex, but he seemed peeved about many things and I can't imagine why. Haven't read any of y'all yet. Hoping most of you liked it. Don't all of us crossword nuts enjoy being puzzled -- even when it's early in the week? I actually feel that yesterday's constructor might benefit by studying the cluing in today's puzzle. Nice job.

QuasiMojo 9:13 AM  

You tell 'em, Rex! What is up with the product placement in the NYT puzzle lately. Zima, Imac, Ziploc? Not to mention Skoda, La-Z-Boy, KB Toys, Haribo, Kmart, AT&T, and I suppose Napalm. I could also add Christian Dior. This puzzle seems to have been constructed by a mall rat. I did like seeing Maria Callas, "La Divina," but I'm more of a Renata Tebaldi fan. Back in the day, the heated "tiffs" between devotees of Callas vs. Tebaldi made the fisticuff-fests of "Mike Tyson" look like child's play. Although I doubt any opera buff ever bit off someone's ear.

AliasZ 9:13 AM  

Sing along with me to the Pink Panther theme:
ATANDT, atandt, atandt-atandt-atandt-atandt-ataaaaaaandt...

After the holidays
Maybe we all should place
On yearly retainer.

The only reason I am posting today is SKODA. That is, Austrian pianist Paul Badura-SKODA, who will turn 90 this year, an underappreciated artist in North America for much the same reason as the Czech automobile ŠKODA.

Enjoy your 2017!

Bob C 9:17 AM  

@lms would enjoy the GRANDPA puzzle -- GREAT PAIRING.

Only woe in this puzzle was CALLA_ / _KODA cross. Groused palpably but guessed correctly in the end.

/old enough to know LOCALCALL but not Melanie Wilkes.

Unknown 9:26 AM  

Like @Lobster11 (8:23am), I didn't have a problem with the AT-AND-T ampersandwich. We may not write it this way, but we do speak it this way. (Well, I say AT 'n T. Hey! There's a joke possibility there: "My new ATNT phone's just dynamite!") Nothing wrong with seeing something familiar in a new light.

For the rest, I agree with Rex. This puzzle put me to sleep last night.

I've been solving more of the indie crosswords lately, and from what I've seen of them, there is no way that this puzzle meets the standards of other early week puzzles. Just compare today's puzzle with this week's offerings from Patrick Blindauer ("Cut Out the Middleman") and Gorski ("By George, You've Got This!").

Blue Stater 9:33 AM  

I agree with Rex on most of the details, but not, unusually, his overall judgment. The gimmick was tiresome, but gimmicks are far too much with us these days and this was no worse than most, I thought; I usually solve without trying to crack the gimmick anyway. I didn't know SKODA was trying to build an electric car -- if they meet the specs outlined in the Wikipedia article I'll buy one.

Suzy 9:34 AM  

I certainly know who Melanie Wilkes is/was! I thought this puzzle was pretty easy, agree with @lms-- I had to go
back to see what Rex was bit-- sorry, complaining about. Didn't know Lorain, now I do. Had heard of Skoda, now know
it's Czech. Didn't mind the theme at all. Thanks, Mr. Shteyman!

Jim 9:36 AM  

Agree 100% w/ Rex. Terrible puzzle on so many levels. No one ever spelled out ATandT (and basing a theme on it is ridiculous). Throw in all the obscure common names and there is no way this is a Tuesday puzzle. Crossing an obscure Ohio city with Eniac AND Leo VII is awful on any day.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

"go all Melanie Wilkes"
What a delightful expression! We could use more folks going all Melanie Wilkes.
And if you don't know who Melanie Wilkes is, you need to a) get out more, or b) get out less and stay home reading/watching the classics.

kenan diab 9:45 AM  

I'm a particle physicist and 54A really grinded my gears. Particle physics is largely about subatomic physics - i.e. the basic constituents of atoms and all other matter. You could in fact say that "atomic theory" is "based on" (i.e. follows from our understanding of) particle physics, not the other way around!

Nancy 9:47 AM  

Oh, @kitshef, poor, benighted kitshef (8:11) -- I have oft felt that we are kindred spirits, but there is something missing in your Happiness Potential Quotient and that missing Thing is GONE WITH THE WIND.

Both the book and the movie are wonderful, but the book is infinitely more wonderful. If you're someone who enjoys reading, rent or buy the book forthwith and look forward to untold hours -- dozens? scores? It's a long book -- of intense pleasure, where you will turn off your phone and lock yourself in a room and not allow anything or anyone to disturb you until you are finished. If you are not a reader, then rent the movie as soon as you can. That's only about 3 hours of intense pleasure, but it's still intense pleasure. Is this just a girl/woman thing? No. Decades ago, my brother once described Perfect Happiness as being curled up in front of a fireplace reading GWTW. I'm not making that up.

When I was interviewed back in the day for a job at the Literary Guild, I said to the Editor-in-Chief, V.P. about my reading preferences: "I can't promise you, Mr. G., that I will be able to spot a "Ulysses", but I can promise you that I will never miss a "Gone With the Wind." I got the job.

Greg 9:47 AM  

SKODA did not seem obscure to me, idk why. Got it from just the S, so I must have seen it printed somewhere. I think Rex's reaction to it is similar to me encountering a clue like, "Jane Austen's third cousin on her mother's side", which for Rex would be a "gimmee", but results in me swearing out loud and scaring the cat.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:48 AM  

'What a pity' in Polish is 'Jaka szkoda'. I mutter it all the time when I'm over there trying to cross a busy street. What a skoda. Another what a skoda.

I left the crossing of AH_ and _OODOO blank, for some sort of principal, but otherwise I liked it fine. I thought HOAX was an excellent synonym for fake news, I think we should use it more.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

This puzzle moves me to agree to two things, Rex's 1A theory and the idea of wheelhouse as they relate to quality and ease. I'm working a strategic plan for a law firm right now. So QTR and ABA jumped right out at me, (just like Org Chart the other day). From there it fell like dominoes, which made it easy and fun. Plus, I guess I'm old. That's my real wheelhouse.

1820 Stone Colonial House 9:54 AM  

I fancy myself a a car guy, but never heard of SKODA. I consider that a gap in my knowledge, not a fault of the puzzle. Likewise, I've been to and through Ohio on several occasions and never encountered LORAIN, but I have had their quiche. I know Melanie Wilkes and don't like her or any of that GWTW crowd, and hope they are consigned to the flaming dumpster of history before my grands are old enough to encounter them.

Edsquire 9:56 AM  

Skoda is general knowledge for shit-brains who do the puzzle every day.

GILL I. 10:00 AM  

Isn't there an IC factor as well?
I liked starting with QUALM and ending with ENJOY (Hi @Lewis) but a bit NADA else. Well, ZIPLOC and LAZYBOY and KBTOYS and KMART were kinda fun cause I knew @Rex would go all Scrabble head blown off stark raving mad. I also liked that top to bottom FLAT APT.NO. EXIT. ATANDT looks so sad sitting in that little northern corner with HOODOO and TROT snuggling up to him. Handsome Mark SPITZ shares a handsome dogs name and too bad he's sitting on top of MIKE TYSON who looks a bit like a TUNA.
PIZZAGATE was my first inkling of "Fake News." Who am I gonna trust? I mean I didn't even know KBTOYS closed. Is that really true? and is SKODA really an auto?
I'm so confused.

Dorothy Biggs 10:02 AM  

Yep, bad.

Many times when I run through a puzzle and get that feeling that something is off, I can count on Rex pointing out really good reasons why this is so. Then there are other times when I run through a puzzle and find myself pointing out specific things that are messing with my puzzle today, for instance...and then I come to the blog here and find he has basically pointed them all out.

Seriously, just about every row and column of the grid makes me groan...not p*n groan...but wincing from embarrassment groan.


54A I wanted quantumTHEORY (there's your Q, right there)...but alas, it didn't fit. I also feel like particle physics is more specifically sub-ATOMICTHEORY. Am I crazy?

This puzzle is an example of Trying Too Hard. It is an awkward 14 year old emo kid, trying to be cool and fit in, but at the same time, just a kid who is still just a kid. Goth, not-goth. Tough, not-tough. Apathetic, not-apathetic. I really just want to give this puzzle a big old hug and tell it everything is going to be okay...but there is that parental part of me that understands that there isn't much that can be done but let it try different things and see what fits and what doesn't. We can only hope it doesn't hook up with the bad puzzle crowd and turn to acrostics or MadLibs.

Whirred Whacks 10:04 AM  

AT AND T was easy.

I'm not sure why the Rexster got all prissy over it use. He doesn't complain when we have:

A AND W or

2017 is going to be a great year. Enjoy it as it unfolds!

jberg 10:26 AM  

I'm just full of questions:

1. Where's the W?

2. Who is Melanie Wilkes? Why isn't she in the puzzle to make it a pangram?

3. LORAIN is in North America, so why isn't it OK?

4. Isn't HARIBO one of the martial arts?

On the other hand, I did know SKODA. It used to be more famous, back when IRAN had a SHAH.

Fortune-teller, what kind of car should I get?

The tea leaves bode a Skoda.

My first question was dishonest, as I've already looked her up. The Wikipedia article has an explanatory plot summary; TLDR.

Mr. Benson 10:26 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Benson 10:29 AM  

Isn't SKODA also the name of the J.K. Simmons character on the Law & Order shows? Cluing it that way would still be relatively obscure to a lot of people, but maybe a slight improvement.

Either way, I don't complain much about obscure proper names when all the crosses are gimmes, which was the case for SKODA and LORAIN today.

I will never understand @Rex's supposed requirement that crossword answers need to be sufficiently "now" to make the grade. KBTOYS, ZIMA and LOCALCALLS didn't bother me one bit, and they really shouldn't bother you either.

puzzle hoarder 10:35 AM  

I really enjoyed the review today. It helped make up for the waste of time this puzzle was. Today's indignation comes across as totally sincere and that's what makes it so entertaining.
So far no one else has pointed out that the theme doesn't quite fit the reveal. Only ATOMICTHEORY has two Ts the other two themers have three. This is a minor problem compared to the fill.
As always @lms made the comments worth reading too. I completely missed how we got on Melanie Wilkes and GWTW.

GHarris 10:44 AM  

Found it relatively easy, even getting the words I did not know by crosses. But I refused to delete the v from 46 down even though it made 44 across gibberish because I never heard of hoodoo.

Leapfinger 10:48 AM  

So here's what another I-didn't-see-it-like-@Rexite wrote, all uncaring about the ATANDT at h&:

TERRific! Starting with that QUALM before a storm of a varied, erudite word-list, then a theme that led me astray with its TIC talk, to boot. Every quadrant was so chock-full of HONEYS that I didn't even mind the LOCAL CALLAS one little bit.

Fumbled the theme with ATHLETIC support (well, it fit, didn't it!), and then thought it would be cosMIC before ATOMIC. I guess it was the previous TIME with TIC talk that had me anticipate ATOMIC CLOCKS. In THEORY.

ENIAC was a cool tie-in with 20A. At work, our office had been having problems with the Local Area Network; a bunch of techies were brought in to czech tings out, and finally found the bug. Turned out it wasn't a moth: it was running AT LAN TIC TIME.
(Kind of neat that, what with the TIC being the VECTOR for Rocky MOTTO Spotted Fever.)

Didn't know LORAIN, but it's quite feasible in a Highwind. SKODA, otoh, was where my uncle worked in munitions research during WWII, so easy-peasy, as they say.

Have to admit I thought that 26A chair would be LAZLO'S, despite lack of any hyphen. Conceivably, that was reinforced by having EGGY and KETO just below. HIRAM, unfortunately, appeared only in BEQ's NYT Sunday Special.

TIFF, any one?

In the Temple of My FAMILIAR, TABOO, and HOODOO combined to add a touch of magic to the grid. Dr. Shteyman, HOODOO you think you are?

ENJOY doesn't half describe it.

(btw, @Evil, I'm a Swedish Fish gal myself. Same process?)

Z 10:52 AM  

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns as a percentage of the puzzle. Anything over 33% will cause some subset of solvers problems.

30 of 74, 41%

That's right, Trivia Fest.

I didn't think it was that bad when I was solving, which is why it is always good to actually count.

Regarding Ampersandwiches, there have been enough previous complaints about them that we have a term for them. And yes, MANDM and AANDW are awful.

@Alec Schwartz - There's original and there's obscure. Not being in the database because an answer is original is good. Not being in the database because an answer is obscure is not.

@NCA Prez - Ever consider that we might be that "bad puzzle crowd."

jackj 10:53 AM  

One-time member of the vaunted Cru, Michael Shteyman, gives us the most intelligent Tuesday puzzle in many a moon and our blogmeister, pretender to the crossword opinion throne, trashes it unmercifully for the most specious of reasons.

ATT has appeared countless times as an entry in the cruciverb database, a construct that anyone of basic intelligence who sees it, immediately converts in their mind to AT and T, excepting, apparently, those who belong to the “I won’t be happy until Will Shortz is gone and forgotten” club.

But, spell it out as AT AND T for a crossword that doesn’t accept ampersands and, oh my, “No one has ever written ATANDT that way.” but, as mentioned above, everyone thinks of it precisely that way.

And “LOCAL CALL is a thing that makes sense?” we are asked by someone who apparently looks down his snout at those who use landlines and pay for local calls on their monthly phone bills?

Michael, I’m sorry your return to this blog began with “stunningly bad” and ended with “This is poor fill. Just poor.”

Ah well, for many of us it’s nice to see your by-line and enjoy your way with words again, after too long an absence. Nice Tuesday puzzle!

Huff and Puff 11:00 AM  

@Z, maybe everyone should just button their respective lips and let the admittedly wondersome @Muse and you take the stage.

Along with edifying us with your PPP micturitions, could you grace us with any others you'd add to the prescribed list.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

I wonder if those worldly people in Lorain, OH have heard of Schodack, NY?

Mohair Sam 11:16 AM  

We enjoyed the puzzle, thought it played easy/medium. SKODA new to us too, but we knew CALLAS, all the other crosses were easy/peasy, the car is apparently huge in Europe, what's all the fuss?

Opened with QUALM and QTR, soon had ZIPLOC and just knew we were in for another scrabble f--king rant from OFL. I'll join the crowd defending ATANDT, that's how you say it, it identifies the theme, as @Whirred Whacks says we're fine with AANDW and MANDM, and as a solver I'm not remotely interested that it does not appear in the cruciverb database. Hey, something new! says I (same with SKODA).

LORAIN, Ohio didn't seem that obscure to this Easterner, not sure why I know it. Chuckling about @Z's confession that he couldn't suss the last "L" in LOCAL CALL. Hang in there buddy.

Hand up with the non-GWTW fans out there - Every redhead I dated in the fifties and sixties thought she was Scarlet O'Hara. I wondered if any of them actually read the book.

mathgent 11:20 AM  

@Nancy: Don't feel too lonely. I also liked it a lot. Lively, smart, some intriguing facts among the clues.

GWTW was my mother's favorite movie. When I was just old enough to take the streetcar alone, she sent me downtown where it was playing at a second-run movie house. This was before TV and VCRs.

Malsdemare 11:26 AM  

I am waaaay too influenced by what others say so I'm going to report in first, then enjoy the comments. I flew through this so I guess that makes me one very odd, old person. I knew SKODA, loved seeing QUALM, thought ATANDT, though strange, was fine, smiled at LEO's antics (so was he a Borgia, Orsini, or Medici?). We don't see SPITZs very often so that was novel.

And I know it's Tuesday and this was probably hard for some people so I understand Rex's take; he's evaluating the puzzles based on what the whole NYT puzzle crowd expects. But I just consider what keeps me going on a really dreary morning, faced with holiday stuff to remove and pack up, sheets piled everywhere, work awaiting on my desk, and found this one good.

Now I'll go marvel at what everyone else thinks, laugh at @Loren (don't let me down, girl), shake my head at everyone's cleverness, and then maybe do something worthwhile.

kitshef 11:29 AM  

@Nancy- You have hit one of my major cultural lackings right on the head. Never seen GWTW. My only familiarity with it is from parodies on The Carol Burnett Show and The Simpsons.

I have also never seen any of the Godfather movies.

But I have seen Weekend at Bernie's many times...

Wileyfex 11:32 AM  

I have never heard of Melanie Wilkes and the puzzle was easy.
Hadn't thought of grilled cheese sandwich with mayo for quite a while, but I will have one for lunch.

Unknown 11:35 AM  

EGGY crossing EDGY was a major groan moment.

Happy Pencil 11:37 AM  

Well, it cannot be true that the SKODA isn't sold in North America, because I had a friend up here in snowy Canada who drove one all through high school. I have no idea where he got it, and I admit to never seeing another before or since, but it did exist, and it was exactly what you would expect of an Eastern Bloc car back in those days. I have many fond memories of bouncing around in the back seat with too many passengers and not enough seat belts, so I loved seeing it in the puzzle.

KB TOYS, on the other hand, I have never heard of and don't recall ever seeing in a puzzle before. So I call that an even trade -- you know what I don't, and I know what you don't.

On the whole, not a great puzzle, but I'm not sure it's quite worth the venom being heaped on it. I liked seeing LA-Z-BOY and so the Z was no issue for me, but I agree that the Q is not well handled. And if you're going to go to the trouble of getting those two letters in, I don't see the logic in leaving out the W. Go whole hog or not at all, I say!

Low Rainman 11:39 AM  

@Anon 11:15: Schodack has population 13,000 and was just flagged by spellcheck. So no, it is not crossword-worthy. Cities over 60,000 are generally fair game, IMO.

Joseph Michael 11:58 AM  

This puzzle could earn an APT "NO" for esoterica like HARIBO, SKODA, and ZIMA, but I have to admit that I ENJOYed it anyway. Felt good to be challenged on a Tuesday.

Liked finding out about Pope LEO VII's demise without having to buy a National Inquirer and learned that a KOALA is not a bear. Had no idea what a SPITZ is, but now I know it has pointy ears, a DETAIL to TROT out at cocktail parties.

So perhaps I'll cut this one out and TAC IT on the wall as an example of one person's garbage being another person's treasure.

Malsdemare 12:07 PM  

@jae. Kids who learn musical instruments, especially guitar or sax, will know the Beatles, Layla, Dylan, Sting, the Dead. My grands, 9 and 12, play stuff that goes back 50 years.

@lms the tequila joke is STILL funny..

And the Melanie allusion was spot on; Mel was the sugar to Scarlet's tabasco and like lots of uppity women, I found her too smarmy to like until she dragged Charles' sword to the top of the stairs and threatened the invading union soldier. Awesome! I think folks here just need a nudge to remember Melanie. I cannot believe that many of the commentariat haven't read Gone with the Wind. I sure hope the next generation knows who Melanie is; even with the racism (perhaps because of the racism), GWTW is still worth reading.

@Alexander Graham Siren If you have a phone jack in your house, you can still connect a phone to call 911. Even if your line has been disconnected for forever, as ours has. But you can't call your neighbor and that's probably a consideration.

@Z Mr. Mal taught me about mayo on grilled cheese so thumbs down here to your proposal; not bad fill at all! But all thumbs up for Miracle Whip; worst condiment ever!

Totally off-topic. We have solar panels and on a good day, they produce about 65 kWh of electricity. Today, if we're lucky, we'll get 5. So we've become the ultimate nerds: Mr. mal. "What's the weather forecast?" Me, looking at sun with a few clouds on Weather Bug, "Bout 40 kWh." Constructors, feel free to steal the idea for the totally obscure clue.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

We had one of those fake news stories in NYC a few weeks ago. A couple of drunken white guys supposedly pulled a hijab off of a young woman while dozens of bystanders stood by and did nothing. Of course it was a hoax. It's amazing how gullible people are, espiecially when they hear a story they want to be true.

Nancy 12:11 PM  

Oh, @Mohair, (11:16), like @kitshef, your GWTW-deprived life has not had the All The Happiness it might have had, and I weep for you, truly I do. And to think it's all because of those Great Pretender redheads you used to go out with. Because, Mohair, Scarlett O'Hara was not a redhead. She had dark hair, perhaps even jet-black hair like moi back in the day. And I would never have pretended to be Scarlett! (Of course, I don't have either green eyes or a 16"-waist, so pretending to be Scarlett would have been a pretty foolish thing to attempt.) But, your former redheads notwithstanding, both the book and the movie are real treats that I highly recommend. Even at this rather late stage.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

Well done. Why is the critic's ignorance a measure of quality?

Unknown 12:21 PM  

Well, SOMEONE is grumpy.

I live in Europe. Skoda engines are essentially VW engines but without the heftier price tag. Quite common over here.
We don't have Ford F-150s over here though. The parking spaces in your traditional city in these parts are "petite".

newspaperguy 12:23 PM  

I didn't like this puzzle at all and my time was terrible. But the NYT timer had a serious hiccup and registered my time as 1:10. It now shows that I am the 14th fastest solver today. Too bad I didn't earn the distinction.

Leapfinger 12:31 PM  

@Alexander Graham Siren 0812, come ona my house and I'll bake you a cake. From scratch.

AAh ooh gah

Charley 12:35 PM  

Athletic trainers deal with sports-related injuries. Fitness pro is more applicable to a personal trainer.

foxaroni 12:36 PM  

The "KB Toys" stores around here were always in a mall, and the name above the entrance was "Kaybee" Toys. "KB Toys" and "Kaybee" both have six letters, so that was a mis-direct for me. Then I saw "Mike Tyson," which clarified the toy dilemma.

Enjoyed the puzzle. Interesting to note the first three down answers are all abbreviations. Not a problem--just interesting.

@Anonymous at 7:04 A.M. was complaining (I think he or she was complaining) that two answers contained the letter sequence "CALL." Is @Anonymous also aware that the puzzle also has these: la (twice), ma (twice), plus ha, ca and ta three times each!? Does that concern you, dear @Anonymous?

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

Easy puzzle for an accomplished solver. Nice to see a Tuesday with some crunch.

@Evil Doug: Nice tip! Pine Bros. cough drops were the Gummy Gears of my youth. Used to eat em by the box fill, no cough required!

@Alexander Graham Siren: Great post! "This House Protected By Western Electric!"

@Huff and Puff: LMAO!

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

I am almost always in complete agreement with Nancy but, there is inevitably an exception to every rule and today is that exception. I have never been able to sit through all of GWTW. The thought that runs through my head over and over again is that formerly acceptable term chick flick, i.e., a movie designed to appeal mostly to the female gender. But, best to not let too many worms come crawling out of that can!

Today seems to have brought out a dividing line that no one is close to. It seems to be loved or hated. I am always grateful for a Monday or Tuesday puzzle that takes more thought than filling out a prize drawing entry (which I never do).
And, this one did require some thought. No, I never heard of Lorain, Ohio but, it is was easy enough to figure out with the crosses. I am, however, officially tired of ENIAC, which seems to make its way into far too many puzzles because of its 'crossword friendliness'. And, what is with the plural honeys? Is this someone who has more than one lover and a close relationship with all of them? Besides, that brings me to a ranting point for me: store clerks whom I have never seen/met in my life calling me honey. Heck, my spouse does not even call me that.

But, I am still grateful for having to think about a Tuesday.

X. ZIMA 12:52 PM  

It may be rash to say so, but perhaps those who didn't care for this are suffering from ATOPIC TERMATITIS

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Uh oh! That removes Binghamton, N.Y. from consideration at 46,000+.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

@Mohair Sam:

"Every redhead I dated in the fifties and sixties thought she was Scarlet O'Hara."

You might be confusing Scarlet with Maureen? The later would have no problem passing the drapes vs.rug test.

Teedmn 1:14 PM  

Like @chefwen, I had a little spat with TIFF. Also, my HOAX was all hype, but that was all fixed along with that brief flirtation with vOODOO, which failed to bring me any bad luck, at least in the 10 minutes since I finished solving the puzzle. There's still time today, I guess, especially as I look out at the ice-glazed parking lot and hope my Dad took my advice and didn't leave the house today. Ice-rink city, here.

I was going to complain about the Natick material at the cross of 46D and 52A until I reread the clue for 52A and realized it made sussing out that K really easy. Ahem.

SKODA was new to me but I liked it - reminded me of my great-nephew Dakota, whose mother calls him KOtA and makes me think of yODA or S-ODA. And I would have considered 11D HARIBO fill except the crosses were all fair. The opposites of QUALM vs. ENJOY are nice to see in the corners - this puzzle was fine for a Tuesday, if a bit tougher than usual. MS, thanks.

Carola 1:20 PM  

Easy puzzle, dull theme. It seemed to me that the first the theme answers were A, T, T, and T.

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

Thanks, @Foxaroni (12:36)! I wonder the same EGGY/EDGY against any rules? Recently someone complained about omit/emit, which were far apart. Does it matter if they cross or not? Just curious.

tea73 1:33 PM  

I was surprised at Rex's rating as I found the puzzle easy-peasy one of my fastest times ever - which means more than twice the time Rex took BTW.

I actually liked A T AND T just find. I usually get tricked by those answers, but not this time. It also made ATHELETIC TRAINER easy to suss out.

I'd never hear of SKODA, but it just appeared from the crosses. Same with LORAIN. I can never quite remember ZIMA which appears all too regularly or HARIBO - ditto.

I'm okay with obscure popes if they come with amusing stories. However I think ELHI should be banished. It is not a word.

As for Melanie - I know who she is, but GWTW is not a book I can read or movie I can watch any more without cringing.

Mohair Sam 1:33 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
I am not a robot 1:38 PM  

Re. Lorrain, OH. If no one has heard of your city, that's probably a good thing. It means nothing much happens that's newsworthy, and just think of the things that ARE newsworthy.

Mohair Sam 1:40 PM  

@Nancy - Oh I've read GWTW and seen the flick. I've disliked anything that sympathizes with the antebellum South all my life (always wondered why the nation's biggest traitor, Robert E. Lee, is hailed as an icon - but I digress) and GWTW is no exception. The point of my post was that redheads I dated heard the name Scarlet, made an assumption, and were just as shallow as the character. Finally met a redhead who knew better, married her, and haven't looked back.

Jim Finder 1:46 PM  

KB Toys was one of the companies wrecked by Romney's Bain Capital.

Jim Finder 1:50 PM  

And ... what Loren Muse Smith said. I enjoyed it fine.

Aketi 1:51 PM  

@Carola, that's what I noticed with the first two themes too.

thfenn 1:53 PM  

With SHAH and IRAN both in here, all I could think about reading today's blog was that joke about not being there when 'the fit hit the Shan'. (The Shah's son is The Shan, he gets mad about something, destroys a palace, and those who missed it weren't there when the fit hit the Shan). I thought the puzzle was great, challenging for a Tuesday, took me 20 minutes, but got it without looking anything up and thought it was fun. If it had been a Thursday I'd have impressed myself with my prowess. Solving ATANDT after filling in ATLANTICTIME let me get ATHLETICTRAINER and ATOMICTHEORY, so that was cool. And now I know how KBTOYS got its name, and how LEOVII died, both of which I was happy to learn. Enjoyed the cluing for DIOR and FLAT. Needed the crosses to get HARIBO, an unknown PPP (which I can use now that I know what that is), but SKODA, ZIMA, KMART, LORAIN etc were all relatively straightforward and felt like legitimate crossword fare to me. Wouldn't let go of FOXHOLES, which I thought was a much more fun answer than TRENCHES, until HOAX was obvious, and SPAT before TIFF, IPAD before IMAC, and TAUT before EDGY slowed me up, but all were pleasantly curable rather than fatal. Still way too far to go to complain about what others didn't like about this one...

Speaking of the fit hitting the Shan, a circus manager tells his strongman that the circus is going in a new direction, and is replacing his act with a troupe of acrobats from Basque. The strong man is really pissed, and storms out the front entrance of the hotel they're staying in. The entrance is a revolving door, and he goes out so furiously that the door is spinning like a top just as the acrobats are coming in. One by one they get caught by the door and flung back out onto the street, leaving them too bruised and banged up to continue the show. Just goes to show you, never, ever, ever, put all your Basques in one exit...

Aketi 2:05 PM  

@jberg, in response to 4. No, HARIBO is a misspelling of the Swahili word for welcome which would have added a third U for M AND A and snuck a third K into the puzzle.

Larry Gilstrap 2:08 PM  

Reviewing my post-solve notes from last night, I notice "Tuesday!!!" scrawled in large letters across the clue section. Perhaps, this was a cryptic warning of the anticipated reaction to this puzzle. A QUALM before the storm.

I'm sure I'm not alone in this, but I some how derive pleasure from the exposure of blatant acts of hypocrisy, assuming Pope LEO VII was being a hypocrite by bedding his mistress. Comeuppance, indeed! Well, at least he died doing what he ENJOYed doing. I once told my wife, if I start dying, start doing something I ENJOY. Is there a Latin MOTTO for that?

Masked and Anonymous 2:15 PM  

yep. This here puz is sure apt to upset U folks that have always said it as" A. T. Ampersand. T." … And especially when it also has HAHA, where lots of folks wanna say "HAR" instead.

Luved the puz starter (QUALM) and puz ender (ENJOY). And yet, the Shteymanmeister tastefully backed away from the pangram. His scrabble-twerkin had its tungsten-free version of sanity. Soo … pretty day-um conservative, Atomic Theory-wise.

Primo weeject stacks, in the NW and SE. But, for staff weeject picks, M&A's gotta go with the symmetrically-plotzed OSS and AHH. Very ATT-like.

Only 74 words. 71, after U exclude HAR-IBO, KB-TOYS, and SK-O'DA. [But hey, learned some new stuff to put in runtpuzs, if desperate.]

@RP: yo! Another one of them there 34-D Pope names, that U so enjoy. HA-HAppy for U.

Thanx, Mr. Shteyman. Any puz with SPITZ runnin down offa the top just can't be all bad. thUmbz Up. Keep em comin, dude.

Masked. Ampersand. Anonymo2Us.


RooMonster 2:21 PM  

Hey All !
A bit chewy for a TuesPuz. Had some writeovers, IpAd-IMAC, dECent-VECTOR, tAnS-RAYS, foxholES-TRENCHES.

Kind of an odd tbeme, Revealer was difficult to see. Thought one of the Acrosses down there was wrong. ATANDT - is that a cousin of a Bundt?

Rex's writeup was scathing, but funny! Heard of SKODA, but only because I had it as an answer in one of my (not accepted) puzs!


Chaos344 2:52 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 2:57 PM  

@Larry Gilstrap:

Early Popes often had mistresses. See Giulia Farnese for example.

As for the Pope's hypocrisy and Latin phrases, we could use "actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea." Remember that Jimmy Carter copped to "lusting in his mind" therefore admitting guilt.

2:52 PM Delete

Elle Finger 3:11 PM  

@Larry Gil's trap, I know it isn't Latin, but maybe an appropriately PopeLeoVII-esque motto would be: Go out with a bang (not a wimp her)?

Am LeoVIIng all y'all's puns & anagrammatical observations; yes, I'm looking at @you!!

Nancy 3:28 PM  

@Mohair (1:40 p,m.) "Red hair is associated with the gene MC1R, a recessive and somewhat rare gene that occurs in only about 2 percent of the world's population."
-- NIH
It sounds to me, Mohair, as though you completely cornered the redhead market!!

Re GWTW -- It would be so wonderful to once again be that, I don't know, 13-year-old?, 15-year-old?, whatever-year-old? girl who could respond to the sweep of an incredibly compelling story and the multi-layered, thoroughly interesting dimensions of all its major characters, without being required to make a moral or political judgment as to whether they represented a noble or a not-so-noble chapter in human history. And anyway, Margaret Mitchell was not wholly responsible for glorifying the Old South: her novel is far more gimlet-eyed about the self-delusions of what is referred to in the book as The Cause. For the wrapping of the Old South in sentimental gauze, look to David O. Selznick, his stable of screenwriters, and the treacly captions that appear in the movie.

BBA 3:28 PM  

I've seen OPEL in the puzzle before, a lot. Those cars aren't sold in America either, and apparently SKODAs are sold in a lot more countries than OPELs.

That said, it's a Friday word, not a Tuesday. If you travel a lot, or you're really into cars, or you watch Top Gear obsessively, you'd know the brand, but if not you won't.

Mohair Sam 3:33 PM  

@thfenn - OMG

Arden 3:50 PM  

Not so bad. Had voodoo for hoodoo and puzzled over the meaning of ahv. Still don't understand how "Yes....riiiight there" leads to ahh.

Airymom 4:04 PM  

@ Arden--3:50P.M. Your back hurts and someone rubs it for you. He or she hits the spot where it hurts the most. You say---"ahh, yesss, right there."

I am thrilled that my 23 year old son suddenly is curious about the puzzle. He has seen me complete the NYT puzzle for his whole life.

We worked on the Sunday puzzle together. I told him it's a combination of knowing words, "getting" the theme, parsing out clues, having knowledge of "crosswordese" and luck.

Today he added elhi and eniac to his "crosswordese". He completed about 60% of the puzzle and then I gave him a few hints and he finished the rest.

He knew Lorain because we are best of friends with a family whose father grew up in Lorain.

He then said, "what kind of car is a 'Skoda"? Why didn't the clue say, 'psychologist on Law and Order?'" I think J.K. Simmons is a terrific actor and deserved recognition.

Happy New Year to all.

Cassieopia 4:10 PM  

@arden - think of someone scratching your back.

@thfenn - absolutely awesome.

L 4:13 PM  

Melanie Wilkes... best line of the day!
Awful puzzle, a DNF (on a Tuesday?!? Infuriating!) but I'm left wondering how I knew SKODA?

Anonymous 4:19 PM  


Cassieopia beat me to it, but if you're like me, this this will work too!

RooMonster 4:25 PM  

So, you want a bad joke?

A guy is taking his girlfriend to the prom. He waits in the ticket line for a really long time, but finally gets them. He goes to rent a limo. The rental line is really long, so he waits and finally gets the reservation. He goes to buy his date flowers. The line at the florist is really long, he waits and finally gets the roses. At the prom, she asks him to go her some punch. He goes to the refreshment table and there's no punchline.


George 4:38 PM  

A few years ago I was in a taxi in Sweden, and I asked the taxi driver what kind of car it was. He sneered, "It's a SKODA" in such a way that for years I thought that SKODA was a popular Swedish automobile.

OISK 4:39 PM  

I dislike product clues, and haribo and KBtoys were unfamiliar. Traveled in E Europe in the 1970s, so I knew Skoda.

I knew Layla, though, because a friend once insisted that I listen to it. Friends shouldn't do that to friends...

I pretty much agree with Rex on this one.

Magpie 4:40 PM  

I thought it was just fine for a Tuesday, but my favorite part might be the coming here and reading the "discussion".

OISK 4:43 PM  

Just realized Layla was Monday. SorryB

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

Most famous former resident of Lorain, Ohio? Toni Morrison

Hungry Mother 5:07 PM  

I didn't even know that some of the harder answers were in the puzzle, since I was getting them by crosses. Typical Tuesday for me.

Z 5:15 PM  

@Mohair Sam - Worse, I only gave up my landline in 2014. Still, when I'm in NC I might make a LOCAL CALL from my (313) cell phone to someone with a Florida or New Mexico area code, or a "LOCAL CALL" to my sons (with (313) area codes) in Kalamazoo, Boulder, or Olympia. Definitely a head slap moment when I finally saw the L worked, though.
Also, re your 3:33 comment - Agreed.

I promised a little history on the PPP Analysis, and today seems like an appropriate day. One February Saturday I set a personal Saturday record and was raving about what a pop culture free puzzle it was. @OISK, who doesn't post nearly enough anymore and whose frame of reference is radically different from my own, had quite a different impression, thinking it was overladen with pop culture answers. I actually said there were only about 7 pop culture answers. After reading @OISK I actually went through the puzzle answer by answer. Yep - something like 40 or 45% PPP, it just happened to be in my wheelhouse so I didn't notice it while solving.

And that is the problem with PPP, if you know it the puzzle is easier for you, if you don't you might struggle to finish or not finish. This is fine for Jeopardy or Trivia Night at the bar, not so much for a crossword puzzle.

As for the 33% standard I cite, after that February Puzzle I tracked the PPP everyday for a fair amount of time. From this tracking it seems that the 33% is a fair standard. Anything lower than that and even something like SKODA will usually get a pass. Higher than 33% and you will get days like today, lots and lots of people complaining about some PPP or other and others waxing braggadocious* about how, of course, it's a fair answer since I know it. Just remember when waxing - some days you're in the wheelhouse, some days the outhouse.

*I sure hope I didn't criticize he who shall not be named for using that term.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 5:45 PM  

I am not a robot -- how right you are about knowing cities. Fall River, pop. plus of minus 100,000 for the last 120 years, has mostly been known only for Lizzie Borden and her axe. Now things have looked up, we have Emeril Lagasse, who supposedly says Wham or Blam or something when he cooks.

chefbea 5:45 PM  

@Roo monster...great one. can I put that on Facebook????

Dorothy Biggs 6:17 PM  

Oh gods, Z. Now you've done it.

Millennial Dreadlocked SJW 6:21 PM  

@Nancy & @kitshef, please get a room.

GWTW, whether novel or film, is atrocious on multiple levels.

Masked and Anonymous 6:34 PM  

@ (magnificent beast) Z: Enjoyed all yer history and stats. Thanx.

On the Pangram Watch front:
It woulda been plenty easy, for today's potently-competent NYTPuz constructioneer to plotz the necessary W into the north-central section of this grid, to get the pangram. Example (from a potently-questionable constructioneer) …

6. "You Might Be a Redneck If" author Foxworthy
15. "You is too blue" rhyme scheme
18. Nasty thing for an apple consumer to see half of
6. Runty rodenty race from "Star Wars"
7. Black bard's color?
8. Pressure release mechanism

But … the catch is that such solutions gravely risk losin a precious U vowel, as the sample fill above would do. An almost inconceivable level of sacrifice.

Soo … thanx for takin one for the team, Mr. Shteyman.


beatrice 6:50 PM  

@AliasZ - the only reason I'm posting today is to thank you for your PMR - I have been eagerly awaiting their return!

Since I was coming here, I went and found a seasonal work by Jean Mouton, a Frenchman who seems to have been the favorite composer of that devoted patron of the arts, Pope LEO X.

Mohair Sam 7:05 PM  

@Nancy (3:28) I did my best.

Anonymous 7:08 PM  

You get to be "stunned" only a few times in life. Do you really want "ATANDT" to be one of those times? A critic's excessive use of hyperbole diminishes the value of the critique, as does a focus on only a few elements of a work being reviewed. Trump as POTUS is "stunning." The use of SKODA or Scrabble letters or KBTOYS may be unpleasing, especially if a timer is a metric of worth, but I would save my "stunning" moments for more calamitous events.

Anonymous 7:57 PM  

Revealer? Meh. Was the puzzle structurally sound? I dunno. Did I enjoy doing the puzzle? Yes I did.

RooMonster 8:08 PM  

@chefbea 5:45
Sure, go ahead! But it might be where it came from in the first place...


Wordsmith 8:09 PM  

Found it challenging and fun.I had not a qualm and ithere was much to enjoy.

RooMonster 8:18 PM  

@M&A, if I got your clues right, It's
with a FART. Har. I got a better one, still lose the U though.
No FARTs! :-)

Rebel Roo

chefbea 8:40 PM  

@roo - thanks

Anonymous 9:20 PM  

Once again, thanks to the commenters .... you make the solving extra fun! I learn things and laugh every time ... thank you!

Love the new phrase "go all Melanie Wilkes on you" -- it took a couple heartbeats before i got it and i love that it wasn't the obvious "Pollyanna" reference -- which I bet people know even if they never read the books or seen the movie.

Thought this was just fine (we eat Haribo all the time here, have encountered plenty of Skodas, etc.) ... it's so obvious that Rex gets all grumpy when it's trivia he doesn't know and is fine with ridiculous stuff he happens to know. It's too transparent. I could get grumpy about that too but I solve it with some help (like harassing my family members who happen to be in the room) and then I learn something new!

Happy New Year ...


Carroll 10:07 PM  

Two of the theme answers didn't really work, because they contained an extra T in the first word (Atlantic and athletic). So, it's like ATT and T. Atomic Theory did not have this problem.

Adam 11:04 PM  

I found this puzzle quite easy, despite having to get LORAIN and SKODA from the crosses. HARIBO, interestingly, was one of the first words I filled in; I know it all too well. If you don't (or didn't) know HARIBO, please check out this link, particularly the reviews: HARIBO Sugar-Free Gummi Candy 5 Lb. Bag

I did think that ATANDT was a pretty bad revealer, awkwardly placed, and I agree with @Rex on some of the other fill (LEOVII - once the V fell in, I knew it had to be number 7), but overall I found this to be a quick Tuesday-appropriate puzzle.

Anonymous 11:24 PM  

@Roomie, I'm taking your word for it, but if @M&A has clues for JAWA and FAMI, he's a better man than I am.

@Beatrice, the more PMRs, the better!


andrea carla michaels 3:18 AM  

This puzzle is a namer's dream!
HARIBO bastardization of Swahili for "Welcome"
KB TOYS Kaufman Brothers!
Shades of TOYSRUS from founder Lazarus...
ZIMA is Russian for "winter" (I worked for Lexicon that named this drink)
And SKODA? dont know how it was named but maybe it's Czech for "fit" (my least favorite name for a car ever!)

Today's synchronicity is that I walked into a pizza parlor that I've walked into every day for past year and NEVER noticed a rack of ten different kinds of candy with HARIBO blazoned across it... And didn''t know the word
That's what crosses are for which is why they are called crosswords!

I love @LMS comments and still feel she should/could cull all her comments from this blog over the years and have her memoir outsell GWTW!
(Anyone who disagrees, frankly, I don't give a damn!)

Anonymous 5:39 AM  

I knew SKODA RIGHT off.

Anonymous 5:42 AM  

I don't have to dial and area code for a LOCALCALL.

Anonymous 5:48 AM  

Hasn't anyone seen the ubiquitous TV ads for AT AND T?

MBEE 1:49 PM  

My nickname for this blog is "Rex Parker Hates the NYTs Crossword Puzzle." So much anger. But anyhoo, the Skoda is an immensely popular Czech car, and Rex, if you learn how to pronounce the word as the Czechs do it will provide you with unlimited pleasure. I promise.

ese 3:41 PM  

As a younger solver, I find it really reassuring after a puzzle that takes me much longer than typical for that day to see Rex mention the clues that I got shut down by as hard or obscure.

Reading the comments and finding people insist the day's puzzle was a typical Tuesday... maybe when you're solving every day, it's harder to distinguish what's accessible to others, but come on. You have to recognize that ZIMA, LORAIN, SKODA, KBTOYS, ELHI, RKO, and LEOVII are more of a stretch for many than the typical Tuesday fare, and particularly for younger folks. HOODOO instead of VOODOO? As someone who still struggles on Tuesdays and Wednesdays the complaints about the writeup can be pretty disheartening.

Today involved a lot more revising than a typical Tuesday, but I was really proud of getting the top half after some reworking. Bottom half was much more of a struggle.

Dolgo 6:09 AM  

I spent 83-84 as Fulbright lecturer in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria. Great experience, living under communism for a year. One thing you could make safe jokes about were the Easter Bloc autos on the streets--Ladas, Moskvitches, Wartburgs, Davis's, etc. Joke--Why is the rear window of a Skoda heated? Answer: so you can push it in the winter.

Actually they are now pretty good cars, available in much of Europe and a reasonably good value. I wonder why we can't buy them here.

Dolgo 6:14 AM  

Damn those auto-correct features! EasterN Bloc. Dacias (made in Romania. Now you can even get a Ukrainian car-- the Zaporozhets, named for a branch of the Cossacks. Don't buy one though. Get a Skoda instead!

centralscrewtinizer 12:00 PM

Burma Shave 12:32 PM  


If ATOMICTHEORY is a FLAT out HOAX to you,
but you haven’t a QUALM
you won’t REACT with those at Los ALAMOS HOODOO.


spacecraft 12:36 PM  

I'm speechless. OFL has said it all. Aren't there even any HONEYS to ENJOY for DOD? AHH...NOGO. NADA. LORAIN? The mom from Back to the FUTURE? Well...Michael? Meet MIKETYSON. He doesn't like appearing in such a clunker. Got your insurance all paid up? "Other."*

*There are bogeys and double-bogeys; worse than that they just call "other."

leftcoastTAM 1:01 PM  

A very unusual Tuesday puzzle, or on any other day of the week. Heavy on commercial names. Odd entries like SKODA, HARIBO, LEOVII's alleged fatal tryst, etc.

Rex tore this one to shreds. Have to confess that I found it oddly interesting because it is so off the charts.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

From Syndication Land:

I knew Rex would hate this when I started with QTR, UAE, and ABA. I think ATANDT is fine spelled out, but I thought the theme was rather inelegant because two of the themers have an additional T. In ATLANTICTIME
and ATHLETICTRAINER, i was thinking, "ATANDT and T!

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

"A bit chewy" says it perfectly. A challenging (4 tues) puzzle that was rewarding to work through and solve. Really quite fair - workable even if the clue meant nothing (except maybe "hoodoo". Hoodoo? Really?)

No better or worse than average. Very acceptable.

rondo 2:34 PM  

I knew OFL would trash this puz after entering my first 3 answers, 1d, 2d, and 3d, all abbr.s. And then there were a bunch more abbr.s , a random pope with a RRN, and an ampersandwich to ENJOY. Toss in KMART, KBTOYS and LAZBOY, all we’re missing is L.L. Bean.

Another missed opportunity to clue HAHA as “Packer (and now Pro-Bowler) Clinton-Dix”.

I’ve been in Prague (somewhat east of Binghamton, NY). No prob with SKODA.

Fake news alert. HARIBO has nothing to do with Swahili as claimed above. HA ns RI egel, BO nn. From the confectioner’s name and city.

Late 1970s album from REO – You Can Tune a Piano But You Can’t TUNA Fish.

I think I could go with Maria CALLAS as yeah baby material. Sure could sing.

No w/os, but an odd solve. Let’s all go like LEOVII. Or is that a HOAX like Swahili HARIBO?

rondo 2:39 PM  

HOODOO Man Blues

Diana,LIW 2:49 PM  

Despite the high PPP quantity, some unknowns, I found this fairly easy to complete w/o and help. And I quite enjoyed it. Call me Melanie II.

However, someone must have stuck a pin in a vOODOO doll, as I failed to reread my answers and has that one letter error, for a dnf.

@Rainey - Don't read Rex today unless you're in the mood for a brain explosion. Or do as I do, and prepare for a Lewis Black, over-the-top, critique.

Solved like a themeless, then so the theme after solving. No big there.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

BS2 3:11 PM  


ICON you not, ENJOY some beers,
tomorrow's MOTTO: IMET two full years.

3rd Anniversary is Thurs.

wcutler 3:13 PM  

@Jae asked "Is there still a distinction between LOCAL and long distance CALLs?". Yes, in Canada, our usurious cell providers charge long distance rates for anything not in our area code (or the codes for our city). Even calls to the rest of the same province are at long distance rates. It always so impresses me that US cell phone users can call from Hawaii to Florida as a local call.

I thought HOODOO only meant a groovy geological formation (but I see I was wrong about that).

I got that ATANDT was related to the gimmick, and saw the A's and some T's, but still didn't quite get that they were AT and T. I liked that, sort of a pun.

Thanks for all the comments.

BS2 3:13 PM  

Oops. Third year starts Thurs.

Diana,LIW 3:57 PM  

@BS and all Synders! Here's what I just posted in Futureland, after driving there in my deLorean:

Here's a party we can all join!

Come visit Syndieland and celebrate Burma Shave's 3rd anniversary as our poet laureate. Every day for two years (as of tomorrow) BS, as we call him, has written at least one ode to our oeuvre. He says he hasn't heard of a book deal yet, but can that be long coming?

So on Thursday the 9th, Syndieland will have an open house for all who read Rex. Bring your favorite party snack and libations. I'm hoping someone brings mead, which shows up regularly in the puzzle. Even if you don't have a deLorean (as I do), you can just click on the SYNDICATION button at the top of your screen and stop by in the land of 5 weeks ago. (Of course, you're always welcome to pop by in the past. We often do reply to your Futureland posts.)

Party down or party hearty, comon' by!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and poetry

rain forest 4:10 PM  

I knew ATANDT would be controversial, but you know, I've seen dozens of commercials where the person doing the voice-over is careful to say it that way. Don't most of us use the phrase "in the language"? Also, who cares where the revealer is placed? Not I. Said the mule.

In Paris two years ago, we got a ride in a SKODA taxi to our pied-a-terre. I say this only to remind you I spent a wonderful 4 months in France, and to show that I know "pied-a-terre". How do you say "har" in French?

I thought QUALM was a great word to start a puzzle, especially when it ends with ENJOY, which I did, and to those who didn't, just remember:

Tomorrow is another day!

rondo 4:55 PM  

@centralscrewtinizer - thanks for the Country Joe

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