Native-born Israeli / THU 1-19-17 / Leader targeted in 1989's Operation Nifty Package / Bill Haley's backup band

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Constructor: Jacob Stulberg

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: CHECKERED PAST (36A: Liability for a political candidate ... as depicted four times in this puzzle?) — PAST is depicted, in unchecked-letter / checkerboard patterns, four times in the grid.

Word of the Day: ROBBY Mook (37D: ___ Mook, Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign manager)
Robert E. "Robby" Mook (/mʊk/; born December 3, 1979) is an American political campaign strategist and campaign manager. He was the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, which lost to Donald Trump. // Mook worked on state campaigns, leading up to Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. Mook then joined the Democratic National Committee, and worked for Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign as a state director in three states. // Mook managed Senator Jeanne Shaheen's campaign as she ran in New Hampshire for election to the U.S. Senate in the fall of 2008, served as the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2012, and as the campaign manager for Terry McAuliffe's successful 2013 gubernatorial campaign. (wikipedia)
• • •

This puzzle must've been constructed a while a go. At least a couple years ago. Because it's basic premise is manifestly false—a point that would be more glaring only if this puzzle ran *tomorrow*.

But let's pretend it's still the 20th century and grant the puzzle the truth of its essential claim. It's a neat concept, though it doesn't really pop, visually, the way a pattern-based theme ought to. Looks *very* cool in the thumbnail (i.e. tiny icon) version of the grid on my desktop. But full-sized, the effect isn't as great, and it's weirdly at its greatest when the grid is completely empty. As you solve (or as I solve, on screen), the filling in of white space dilutes the checkered effect by marring B/W contrast. I didn't see checks so much as these little spits of land (unchecked letters) sticking out from the mainland of letters. Still, conceptually, cool, especially as the PAST rotates clockwise a tick at a time if you move clockwise from NW to SW (i.e. P starts in the N position and ends up in the W position).

["I won't let you down / I will not give you up"]

I'd like to thank George MICHAEL for getting me going today (30A: George who sang "I Want Your 7-Down"). He was the first answer (besides the incidentals KEEP, SES, and OFA) that I got, and he gave me SEX (!), which (along with MATT Groening) opened the NE up quickly. Mostly I found the puzzle tough, though the clock says my time was quite normal. Botany and fabric and other topics I'm bad at seemed to keep coming up, and those southern corners are horribly sequestered. Teeny tiny narrow entry points. I actually needed the theme to get going in the SE (felt like cheating), because the only thing I knew cold down there was NORIEGA (61A: Leader targeted in 1989's Operation Nifty Package). The long Downs down the middle were great (STEEPLE CHASES / TOP O' THE MORNIN') (14D: They present hurdles / 15D: Cork opener?)—interesting phrases, cleverly clued—which somewhat offset / distracted from a little roughness in the short stuff. Worst cross for me was SHOCKS / CPI. The latter (4D: Economic benchmark, briefly) I can now infer (Consumer Price Index)—now that I guessed SHOCKS, which is super hard to get to from [Blows]. Yikes. But I guessed right, my time was normal, the theme works pretty well, so I'm calling it a good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 7:03 AM  

One day before inauguration. Oh snap! And I thought it was the Russians.

Loren Muse Smith 7:07 AM  

I almost threw in the towel because of the northwest. I don’t know why SHOCKS didn’t occur to me, but once I got OUTREACH, I finally broke through.

Oh, and those “top secrets” -? I kept questioning my KEEP and going back to “pasties.” Hah. Those are “top” secrets, too, right?

“Drop” by before STOP BY. And “toiles” before MOIRES. I agree with what you said recently about those fabrics, Rex.

My big take-away this morning was the clue for OLD AGE. So Trotsky said it’s unexpected? I’d say it’s more surprising. I just had a birthday, and I was explaining to my students that it’s not the age that bothers me at all - I’m not really ashamed or embarrassed - just surprised. If I’m walking along a street and there’s a curb, I’m gonna walk up on the curb to see if I can balance - not because I’m trying to prove I’m young; I do it without even thinking about it. And pretty soon I’m going to have to pay the ten dollars to get bungee strapped in at the mall and jump on that ridiculous trampoline thing. Seeing those kids jump up so high… it’s like the call of the siren to me. The only thing holding me back there is the fact that I’m always alone at the mall. Creepy enough for an old lady to jump while her companion watches and laughs. But to do it at my age with no buddy egging me on – much, much creepier. I think people would just feel sorry for me. Anyway… the me looking out from behind my face is in my late twenties/early thirties. Just sayin’.

The grid is cool – those checks are so pretty. – Rex, I see what you mean about the grid looking better before it’s filled. I never remember if it’s “checkered” or “checked” past since both those words for me are two syllables. (Same with “uncharted” or “unchartered” territory. I think I always mess up and say the latter. And then feel dumb.) And I like that, as Rex pointed out, each rotation of PAST shifted around clockwise. Elegant. And each PAST is, well, unchecked. Hah. Nice one, Jacob.

Anonymous 7:08 AM  

Trump won in spite of, not because of, his checkered past. The theme holds up. Good puzzle.

Anonymous 7:13 AM  

This not so subtle allusion to the campaign of an inherently flawed candidate went right over Rex's head. $1.2 billion spent. That's billion with a B.

I am not a robot 7:22 AM  

Smutty toupee shocks? Checkered past? Liability?

But about the puzzle, dnf. Top o the morning killed me. Or maybe it was gusset. Or maybe it was misspelling Sasha. Or the missing fun factor.

John Child 7:23 AM  

Constructor notes say this was submitted about six months ago, reworked, and then accepted in October. At that point it was unclear whether a checkered past would hurt either candidate or not. It likely did hurt one and help the other, IMO.

Great puzzle with just the right difficulty factor and cleverness to hold my attention and be a challenge. Excellent job Mr Stulberg.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

Robby Mook is still in denial. Had he had any other candidate as a boss, he would have pulled it off. In the words of South Park, she's a **** sandwich.

John Child 7:41 AM  


Steve Hardgrave 7:41 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle, but having lived in Ireland for 22 years, I have never, ever, heard anyone say "top of the mornin' " or any variation thereof. It's up there with "begorrah" as an old fashioned Oirish stereotypical thing that no living person ever actually says. Still, good fun.

Mr. Grumpypants 7:45 AM  

I had FALSIES rather than TOUPEES for TOP SECRETS but that was the only thing that slowed me down today.

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

Clue: Rex Parker, e.g.

Unknown 7:57 AM  

This was an interesting puzzle by the ever-creative @Jacob Stulberg, and @Rex's take on it already points to some of its strengths and issues. I sailed through much of it last night, until getting hopelessly stuck in the southeast corner. As I review the puzzle at the TOPOTHEMORNIN, note that entry with its great clue "Cork opener?" overlaps the also great "Top secrets?" clue for TOUPEES, and the THE from Bill Haley and THECOMETS.

Honestly, with this theme, I half-expected to see some sort of allusion to Richard Nixon's famous Checkers speech. Did anyone else initially write YESICAN as the answer to 12-Down?

Passing Shot 8:15 AM  

Really did not like this puzzle. I never seem to be on Mr. Stulberg's wavelength. How is ARTIEST "most pretentious"? Shouldn't the clue for VCR have been "forerunner of Blu Ray PLAYER"? The clue implies a technology, which I believe would be Vhs.

Dolgo 8:19 AM  

I guess you're pretty tuned into the puzzle practice of the NYT when you don't have to think twice about the "cork opener" clue. BTW I'm surprised there aren't more gripes about "tritones." Not as obscure music knowledge for most of you as I thought.

Yeah, really fun and enjoyable puzzle. It took me longer than usual to get the Thursday "gimmick," but my bad. The forehead slap was a pleasure.

r.alphbunker 8:20 AM  

Did not finish with confidence because of 58D {Part of the works} COG/63A {Cloth insert} GUSSET but it was right. I was more sure of COG than GUSSET.

Details are here.

Brett 8:23 AM  

Can someone explain SYN (51A) to me? Clue is "Looks for ganders, e.g.: Abbr."

wgh 8:25 AM  

Clever construction, pretty solid clues and no scrabbling. A

johnnymcguirk 8:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
chefbea 8:25 AM  

What an ingenious puzzle!!! Love anything ala mode. Love Bill haley and the comets...Rex should have put Rock around the clock !!!

wgh 8:25 AM  

@Brett SYNonym

Unknown 8:29 AM  

"Looks" is a synonym for "ganders".

kitshef 8:37 AM  

@Dolgo - you didn't give me enough time - I was going to complain about TRITONES. With hEAThEr in for TEATREE, that was a particularly sticky corner.

@Mr. Grumpypants - I'm with you on falsies.

MOIRES is another word that has gone from WoE to easy peasy just in the past year.

dvd before vHS before VCR.

Are half-hearted acceptances YESLETS?

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

I'm With Check(Her)ed.

Z 8:47 AM  

When I think SABRA I think hummus.

STEEPLECHASES and TOP O' THE MORNIN' both made me feel manipulated, in a letter count sort of way.

As for today's theme, CHECKERED PASTs make for much more interesting protest chants.

@ACME late yesterday - "hate?" No, not that strongly. More like, "did you do that because it's more interesting or because you were going for the pangram?" It is that fine line between "artistic" and "arty," I'm not quite sure where it is - it might even move depending on whether I've had my morning coffee or evening beer - but I'm pretty sure when I see a lot of high value letters near the bottom of the grid it's "arty."

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

This was the most frustrating puzzle I can remember. And on Thursday, normally my favorite day. The highly segmented grid didn't help. Bad, bad, B. A. D. ,!!!

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

Anyone else have zEROS for AEROS? As in "Johnny Got a Zero"?

Moly Shu 8:54 AM  

I was beyond disgusted with ROBBY mook taking up space in my beloved NYT puzzle, and then @Rex making him word of the day. I'm so upset. I fear my head may explode. Well, not really, I've never heard of him. Knowledge gap I guess.
Cool concept, my gimmies were THE COMETS, SACHA, and like @Rex, MICHAEL SEX. For some reason I never like RRR. Seems worse than a RRN or a pick-your-pope number. I liked it, the visual was neat and the fill snappy. Good Thu.

Generic Solver 8:58 AM  

@Anonymous 8:50

Yes, I had ZEROS as my only incorrect answer, which was maddening. The ZERO was a Japanese plane (I think used in WW II maybe), so this seems like a reasonable answer to "Planes, old style", but really AEROS seems to be a more general, and more correct answer, to be fair.

Leapfinger 8:59 AM  

Props for the visual coolness of the grid, very intriguing! Just glad they didn't turn out to be snowflakes.

Only problem area was the NW, but I did that up proud.
*Thought [Top secret?] would be ROGAINE, which very coincidentally anagrams to the symmetric NORIEGA
*Thought 1D [Celebrity] was ALISTER, which crossed nicely with 25A END [__ piece]
*I was stuck in the kitchen trimming the fat, but realizing the school basics had to be either ABC or RRR led me to pull out and start over, but not even so I had a TERRIBLE HORRIFIC moment.

I guessed the theme wouldn't likely be CHECKERED CABS, and PAST it was. I could see the PAST in the NW, and the final S of [Planes] anchored the NE, so it looked asif the letters rotated, so I took the plunge and filled them all in; relieved I anticipated right, and found that a help. It adds an elegant touch to have the letters COGwheel clockwise, and it's always nice to see the PAST roll by.

Have to say ROBBY Mook never impressed me. I mean to say, "ROBBY Mook"? The name alone would have him on my Do Not Call list. I also think it's a REACH to consider ROMANO an alternative to Asiago.
Also read the clue to OLD_AGE too quickly: sounded reasonably Tolstoyesque to me...

Remainder of the solve had interesting fill and clues, but each area had enough gimmes so even such puzzlers as TRITONES caused no trouble. It occurs to me there's a subset of the population that has no ides what an ICETRAY is. Have to admit I'm not what you'd call overly familiar with George MICHAEL's oeuvre, but I'm guessing the title of that song would be more apt as "I Want Your 7-Up".

Once I'm over all my SMUTTY SHOCKS, I'll be looking for the ARTIEST OXTAILS I can find.
TOP O' THE MORNIN' to Jacob St. Ulberg and all the puzzlers out there.

Autrement 9:00 AM  

@passing shot is right.
Saying VCR is a predecessor to Blu-ray is like saying the gramophone (rather than the record) is a predecessor to the casette tape. I was sure it was DVD or VHS, then considered CDR once ROMANO fell. Then I gave up because VCR doesn't make sense for that clue.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

So Robby Mook is cool but Kellyanne Conway shouldn't be normalized. Gotcha. This is becoming very confusing.

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

When a puzzle includes such a moronic answer as VCR I completely check out and lose all interest in the rest of the puzzle. If someone asked me what I thought of the concept of today's puzzle, I would tell them that I don't care what the concept was. A VCR is not and cannot be a forerunner to Blu-ray: just as a potato cannot be a forerunner to the spoon and a tire cannot be a forerunner to the automobile. A device that records and plays video cassette tapes is not a forerunner to a device that stores digital files.

LaurieG in Connecticut 9:05 AM  

The troll is a total turd. I sense that we will wind up having the comments moderated again, alas.

Ted 9:05 AM  

1A was a stumbling block. Because "Blows" is much better answered by STINKS than by SHOCKS (an answer I still don't understand). Shock != Blow.

Got a lot of help off 15D "Cork opener?" based only on T_P and the last O from HBO on the cross way down there. Felt good about myself.

VCR is not the forerunner of Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray is a format. VHS was the forerunner. A VCR is a machine, just like a Blu-Ray Player is a machine. To do it otherwise is like saying that the forerunner of Gasoline is Horse. Fail.

Ted 9:08 AM  

Second on having comments Moderated... or maybe just disabling Anonymous and having an admin ban out the trolly accounts that follow. At least it'd slow them down.

Hartley70 9:21 AM  

It's a long time since we've had a rebus. The blank grid is very cute, but that was my first wistful thought.

My second wistful pause came at Lenin's quotation. It is oh so true in my experience. HI@r.alphbunker; RIP Vinnie. We know it's coming, but no one adequately explains the challenges and poignancy. I won't even mention the SHOCK of looking in the mirror each MORNIN!

The PAST rotation is very nicely done and the cluing is excellent. TOUPEES and TOPOTHEMORNIN were my favorite misdirects. I only got held up at the silliest place, the C in COG. When I thought of "the works" I wanted dOG because that's how I like to order mine. Don't forget the onion!

This was a very smooth puzzle and the incredibly positive Rex review puts the constructor in a very small class of elites. Congrats!

QuasiMojo 9:31 AM  

I don't really think of R-rated movies as "smutty." Or even some of them, as the clue indicates. Smut is something that is firmly, pardon the pun, in the X-rated camp. Risqué, yes, but not smutty. Not that I'm an expert, mind you! Nor do I think of VCR as a precursor of the Blue-Ray player. There are a few inventions in-between. Robby Mook made me think of Robby the Robot! Remember him? I am going to go now and prove that I am NOT a robot in order to post this.

Wm Martin 9:33 AM  

As a dedicated amateur pianist, I was happy to see tritone as an answer, that unique and mysterious interval.

Tita 9:35 AM  

@Mr. Grumpypants - falsies is a GREAT answer there!

I LOVED this puzzle! Just what I look for in my Thursdays. And I really needed the PAST to check those unchecked squares.

Don't buy SABRA hummus. They add nasty ingredients. But most of all, the plastic tubs they use have a huge hole in them that is there for nothing other than deceit - making it look like you're getting more product. I lose faith in my fellow man when I see practices like that.
Their marketing guys are right - we are that dumb.

There - that's as much of a rant as I will allow myself on this puzzle content.

Other than this...
Coming from one who's really bad at it, PLEASE resist the trolls!
Yes, you are among the cleverest people I know - on both sides - and you have such pertinent and well-considered opinions, can cite facts, and are amazingly articulate.

Just don't do it.

You know that Rex is getting bombarded with emails him to moderate.
Moderation sucked.

(Yeah, I know - that was feeding them. See what I mean??

Hartley70 9:35 AM  

@Loren, your mall foray into bungee trampoline jumping may cost just a bit more than ten smackers. I'd advise you to invest in a very, very good brassiere. There was an unfortunate gal on The Bachelor last week who did not.

RooMonster 9:36 AM  

Hey All !
No mistakes today! Yay me! :-)
Did have a writeover with that VCR. Had dvd first, then Vhs, finally VCR. And for some weird reason, had a R instead of the P in IHOP. Slowed me down a bit. Rest of puz was easy-medium. Had trouble with SHOCKS as others mentioned. Clue stretches the meaning. And always spell SACHA as SAsHA. Like EFRaM-EFREM. Clever clue on SRI, took a sec to see if it was either Sir or SRI.

Might sound dumd, but why is 15D clued as such? Are Irish people called Corks? If so, haven't heard that before. Laughed at all the Pasties y'all thought at first for TOUPEES. Good stuff.

Speaking of which, did you all see the SMUTTY SEX cross? With YES LETS. Har! Might end up a HORRIFIC OUTREACH. SHOCKing!


jberg 9:39 AM  

@Ted, "it was a shock to the system," "it was a blow to the system." Took me forever to see it, too.

This puzzle was very educational, though I'm embarrassed to explain. Well, I will. I was in junior high when Bill Haley was big, listened to his music, knew the name of his group without pausing to think -- but only as I wrote it down today (60 years later!) did I see the pun. Oof.

I was with the pasties/falsies crowd in my thoughts, only I couldn't think of either of those words, so I left it blank, crossed by the blank where G(D or N)P crossed TOUPEE. It was only getting the latter that gave me CPI and unlocked the NW.

@Loren, see, you're testing it out all the time, balancing on curbstones and such. A lot of us -- Trotsky included, apparently, just go along blithely feeling young until one day we trip over a crack in the sidewalk and come up with a broken bone or something, and find it takes forever to heal. That's the shock.

Of course, the real shock for Trotsky was the icepick, but he didn't have much time to reflect on that.

I had Vhs too, but thought VCR was close enough for crosswords. And for me, it's an ICE-cube TRAY, so I was unsure about that. On the other hand, it was nice to see my great aunt IDA again.

These trick clues for SYN can be fun, but two in one week seems a bit much.

Nancy 9:43 AM  

Enjoyed this one a lot. And since, for me, the SW and SE weren't as easy as the top, I used the theme on several occasions to help me solve. A theme that's useful in a puzzle, rather than irrelevant, is always a good thing. I didn't see SHOCKS initially either, @Loren, but I got TOUPEES right off the bat. I also got TOP O THE MORNIN with just a few key letters. Love both clues.. And the OLD AGE quote is so wonderful; I'd never heard it, btw. But @Loren, if you think you're dealing with OLD AGE, where the hell does that leave me? I'm pretty sure I'm a lot older than you.

Loren -- who always posts so early -- is the only one I've read so far. Back right now to read the rest of you. I expect the blog to be interesting today

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

I have an idea to stop the trolls. The blogger should stop trying to influence the crossword puzzle editor with his politics. Leave the puzzle alone. No more virtue signaling.

Leapfinger 9:47 AM  

@QuasiMojo, yes for ROBBY the Robot, nanny extraordinaire. I thought of him right away when I filled in that entry, and have been trying to dredge up some of those Asimovian names since then. I think Daneel Olivaw is right, and the spacer was Elijah ____(?)
I may have to google for his last name.

Asimov was Seldon surpassed :)

Steve M 9:57 AM  

Remind me never to bother with the Stolberg puzzle again

Fountains of Golden Fluids 10:00 AM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

Lewis 10:06 AM  

For those wondering what a tritone interval sounds like, think of the first two notes of "Maria", from West Side Story.

How can you not like a puzzle that has a corner of SMUTTY and SEX? This was a solid solid puzzle -- strong and well executed theme, grit in the cluing in general, some clever clues (POPE, TOUPEES), some bright answers (YESLETS, TOPOTHEMORNING), and an earned smile at completing. The little nits mentioned today (VCRs and the slight fading of the visual effect after filling letters in) crumble in the face of the puzzle's strength, IMO.

Thank you for this, Jacob!

Hungry Mother 10:10 AM  

Just a usual Thursday for me. Patience is my main tool for the end of the week puzlzles. OFA had to come out from the crosses, but it came. I find comments that I don't want to read are very skippable and of no importance.

Nancy 10:11 AM  

Thank you, @Lewis, for the helpful TRITONE interval example. That will emblazon it effortlessly upon my memory -- at least until the moment I forget it.

I am not a robot 10:14 AM  

About the troll. First, who cares? So what? Does he change anyone's mind? Does he even think he can? Is this Trump's "fat guy on a bed in New Jersey," his suggestion for the hacker? Which by the way is right up there with, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," "Ask not what your country can do for you..." and "Four score and seven years ago."

This is all the guy has. He's sitting there all day in glee, most likely going from forum to forum, blog to blog, doing something to help him feel good about himself. He annoyed the cool kids.

It's keeping him off the streets for gosh sake. Have some sympathy.

Oh, the puzzle. Why is it that all the people who've thought falsies for toupees are men?


Missy 10:17 AM  

Gander to glance, look is a SYN for looks

L 10:19 AM  

Big DNF, for too many reasons. I too was thinking PASTIES or FALSIES and couldn't make them work.

Look is a synonym for gander?!? That's a new one for me.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

as in "take a gander at that "

GILL I. 10:24 AM  

Loved the POPE Alexander POPE. When George MICHAEL (or is it MICHAEL George) sang "I Want Your SEX" was he referring to like a SEX change? I'm confused about that.
Really liked the puzzle today. SHOCKS was a big huh? and I don't understand HOPPERS as lottery ball containers. I think of HOPPERS as a type of bread that is well known in SRI Lanka. The only three letter I didn't like was OFA. Bah on that one!
Getting PAST made me smile and so did getting TOP O THE MORNIN off the TOP. Did not know ROBBY but remembered Operation Nifty Package and that despot NORIEGA. I wonder if anyone today could pull such a coup. Nasty business but somebody had to do it.
Like @Nancy, loved the OLD AGE answer. My "unexpected" happened while skiing in Tahoe about 6 years ago. My knees would not obey my brain. I thought it was just fatigue or most likely too much vino the night before. About a week later I was playing soccer with my husband and a bunch of friends and I just could not run or kick the ball. I used to be a runner so that experience made me deathly afraid that I would end up in an Old Folk Home sooner than I planned.
My wrinkles and the gray in my hair don't bother me at all but damn, I want to bounce on a trampoline with @Lauren.

Malsdemare 10:25 AM  

I really liked this puzzle, partly because my first answer was TOUPEES and I was right! How often does some out of the blue inspired answer turn out to be correct? Never, in my experience, until today. I had to work hard for everything, even the stuff I knew -- like MICHAELS, UTA, NORIEGA -- needed crosses before the lightbulb went off. Looks for ganders had me scratching my head for forever, and for some reason, I just went blank on the HOPPERS clue. STEEPLECHASE went in pretty easily, but wino that I am, it took a lot of crosses to see TOPOTHEMORNIN, which was great even if this Irish lassie was slow to see it. I really wanted EKE at 32D but I could not see what liability could be CHEsK------. But the PASTs saved me, I saw I'd misspelled Ms. cohen's name, smugly popped in CHECKEREDPAST and flew through the rest.

I would like to think we are at aberrant point in time and that there will come a time when truly rotten behavior in one's past will be a liability. But apparently, that's not the case now. I used to be embarrassed that three of Illinois's recent governors are in prison, but now it seems like something we should be proud of. See? We at least lock 'em up when they try to sell senate seats. May you live in interesting times, indeed.

Happy Pencil 10:36 AM  

This is a really cool-looking grid, but I must confess that I didn't see the PASTs until after I was all done and thought to myself, "Well, I see the checkers, but how are they in the past?"

I thought most of the puzzle was easy, but that NW corner was a challenge for me. Couldn't see TOUPEES for the longest time (was stuck on T-shirts), had SmaCKS for SHOCKS and didn't want to give it up, and I couldn't think what should be paired with -IEST.

I got there in the end, but I would agree with a medium rating overall.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:57 AM  

I tried wolf and diabolus in musica before TRITONE, bot neither fit.

chefbea 10:58 AM  

@Tita I make my own humus.

DoesItinInk 11:01 AM  

@Roo Monster...Cork is a city in SW Ireland. People who were born in Cork are Irish.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

This was a great crunchy puzzle with an excellent theme. Even Rex grudgingly admitted it in his own way. A checkered past is a liability but don't think it has ever been a deciding factor in an election. Although we will never forget Monica, Bill exited as a president as popular as, if not more so than Obama. Why? He was very charismatic and saw an unparalleled economic boom. Economy is the true decider of elections.

Billy Graham thought he would burn out and die before 60. He wrote a book talking about how old age was his greatest surprise. Now he is around 98 years old and lives a very quiet life with little exposure to people. This means he probably will never get sick and may even live longer!

We want more puzzles like these, Jacob!!

jae 11:25 AM  

Top half tough, bottom half easy. My biggest problem was StinKS before SHOCKS which I held onto for far too long. It led to teRRIFIC for HORRIFIC which I had little confidence in but still kept for a lot of nanoseconds (hi M&A). The NE was also tough, TEATREE, OXTAILS, TRITONES and SMUTTY were not exactly tripping off my Papermate mechanical pencil. I also had dIg before PIT, so STEEPLE CHASE was not jumping out at me.

Cute, liked it.

RooMonster 11:25 AM  

@DoesItinik 11:01 Aha! Thanks. Knew it was something like that!

And @Malsdemare 10:25, in the immortal words of Austin Powers,
She's a Man baby! (Sacha Baron Cohen that is...) Played Ali G, Borat, and another one not coming to mind.


Malsdemare 11:27 AM  

@Z Thanks for the protest chant! @Gill, LMS, others, hand up for the trampoline. My grands have one in their back yard and I am dying to try it, just concerned they'll think it's fun to do something to knock me on my ass. Pasties/falsies; some errors are just too funny for words.

@Lewis another thank you for the example. I may have to dig out some "West Side Story" music.

I think I'm more forgiving of near-misses like BlueRay to VCR. But then, if it's something I know a lot about, I could probably be pretty nit-picky. Regardless, this was a good puzzle.

Z 11:44 AM  

@Tita - ? Potassium sorbate but everything else seems pretty normal/natural (even buying into the non-GMO marketing). Potassium sorbate is a common preservative and preferable to mold IMHO. Did I miss something? As for the dent in the bottom, I prefer SABRA's taste to others I've found at the grocery, so I don't lose too much sleep over portion size manipulation. I mean, it's hummus, not a crossword puzzle.

@chefbea - everyone else makes hummus better than me, so I don't bother.

Joseph Michael 11:53 AM  

Stinks before SHOCKS, falsies before TOUPEES, slutty before SMUTTY, and many other write overs. This puzzle kept me working. And, though I did end up with SHOCKS, I didn't understand how it could be correct until I came here.

Liked the CHECKERED theme, though that, too, took a long time to see. Once I got the theme, it helped me complete the puzzle.

So TOP O' THE MORNIN,' Jacob. Thanks for the workout. And thanks to Rex for the George MICHAEL clip. And, no, George and I are not related.

Word of the day: YESLETS - small affirmatives.

Masked and Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Nine patches! [PuzEatinSpouse is a quilter, soo … I recognized the pattern]

Also, got yer unchecked squares -- altho, the revealer pretty much gives em a good clue, and makes the nine patch fillin job a whole lot easier. Cool theme idea ... check. Different ... check. Honkin big, fun corner stax ... Chex. Primo T-spanner looong 13's Down … cheeeeck. Choice weejects ... chjeckt. Some mighty sweet minor desperation oozin from the nine patch areas … checkmate. Impressive U-count … check's in the mail.

fave ThursPuz nasty lil clue: {Looks for ganders, e.g.: Abbr.} = SYN. Gets points just for over-the-top punctuation marks.

least fave corner: NW. Lost precious nanoseconds there, even on the weejects. Not a good sign. SES. CPI. OFA. RRR. Also, had TERRIBLE as my alter-HORRIFIC answer, for quite a nano-runoff. Once STARDOM was bravely ventured forth, things gradually got un-wanken-obied.

Thanx, Mr. Stulberg.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

almost time to start over ...

GILL I. 12:34 PM  

@Tita @Z...I won't buy SABRA ever. Their products have been recalled. It's so much easier to make your own like @chefbea does.

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

ROBBY Mook would have been better clued as "RNC's man of he year". Helluva a campaign Robby. And I thank you.

old timer 12:37 PM  

I gave in and looked up ROBBY Mook. This is the first Presidential campaign I can remember where so little was written about the Democrat's campaign manager. But then, isn't this yet another attempt to normalize Mr. Trump? With "I want your SEX?" (Guess not since the puzzle was accepted before the scandal (scandlet?) that might have blown Trump out of the water, but didn't).

Once I got the trick, the puzzle went down pretty easily. Though it was surprising to learn that Trotsky reached OLD AGE before being assassinated. My big problem was in the NE. I had "whacks", then "smacks" before SHOCKS. Because OFA piece could have been "set" or "one". Not obvious. Neither was MAP for "plots".

I wonder, too, if anyone in Cork has greeted an acquaintance with TOP O' THE MORNIN' in the last 100 years

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Robby Mook, John Podesta, Jennifer Palmieri, Huma Danger . . . The Dream Team.

Tita 1:17 PM  

@Z - look at the ingredients on the other brands. Nothing that I don't put in when I make it. (Hi @Chefbea * Gill).
And that kind of disrespect of one's customers is just too off-putting.
This is great - I would much rather hijaak the blog over the merits of various hummus brands than other topics of late. Bring it on!

BTW - just signed up for the Westport Tournament - Feb 4 - be there!

Numinous 1:17 PM  

I would think of YESLETS as tiny nods of approval or agreement when listening to PAS, that is to say, speakers.

In the past, The Devil in Music was forbidden. I'm not sure by whom but TRITONEs were never, or at least very rarely used prior to the 20th century. Just one of those things you either know or you don't. BTW, Maria, from West. Side Story, was the first example of that that I learned in the music theory course I took at UCLA.

Hummus: I take a can of chick peas (garbanzo beans), maybe three lemons (could be more), and three or four cloves of garlic (also could be more), chuck it into the Osterizer and blend it into a paste. I have to check the taste to be sure every time so I juggle the ingredients. A fairly cheap and wonderful way to dress up the pita bread you just baked or maybe bought from the end cap by the exotic ingredients cooler at the supermarket. Flat bread works too. Usually it's moister than pita.

I have to wonder why it seems to be that I'm never on the same wavelength as a lot of y'all here. I found this puzzle to be Easy Peasy. I did this puzzle in about half my normal Thursday time. Easy seems to be a trend for me this week. Watch me crash and burn tomorrow. Some of the answers struck. Me as odd. I just don't hear, in my minds ear, anyone saying, "I think I'll take a spin in the AERO." I'm not sure why VCR didn't faze me, maybe I went by it too quickly. I liked the "meta clue" for SYN. Self referential clues like "Whats found in the middle of hummus" leading to EMS. I liked the two long downs a lot especially the Corker which did take me a while to see and then to get. I got a kick out of the TOUPEE clue too. Pasties or falsies never occurred to me but I cringe when I remember there was a girl in my fifth grade class who was developing ahead of the other girls in that class. The boys nicknamed her Falsies. Cross my heart, i never went along with that. Even at that age, I had more respect for girls.

My father, as a Eucharistic minister, would visit "retirement" homes and one of the things he usually asked was if anyone was, inside themselves, any age other than the one they had always been. I had to think about that. While @Loren is late twentiies or early thirties, I'm not sure that that I think of myself much differently than I did when I was eighteen or meybe even fifteen except that I have much more to think about now.

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

A little over 12 minutes (737 GRIDSECs, thanks M&A) makes this "Easy for a Thursday" for me. It took TEL and MICHAEL to get a toehold but then it went like a COG in the works (@r.alph, that was my start in the SE also). I wish I had looked more closely at the unCHECKERED squares - I could have used the help at 48A. I had _OLL but could only think of caLL for "ring" but I knew MOIRES was right. A sigh of relief for finally seeing TOLL (not pOLL, duh).

My brain went the same direction as @LMS for 13A's "Top"s but Wonderbra didn't fit. And my first instinct for 1A "blows" was "SuCKS" but it also didn't fit.

OLD AGE has been unexpected for me also (hi @LMS and @Hartley70). I tend to break into a run when I'm bored and want to raise my heart rate a tad, so it's not uncommon for me to lope PAST a bunch of shoppers on my way into Target. I'm sure people think I'm some sort of lonely, graying kook going in to buy cat food for my dozen kitties at home (full disclosure - no pets). My solace is that they will all end up getting older too, if things work out for them in the most positive way.

Thanks, Mr. Stulberg, for an entertaining Thursday.

Carola 1:41 PM  

A fun puzzle, its only fault being that the fun was over too soon. I felt that NOT! was a comment on the "Liability..." clue and went along with the Joker-like diabolically grinning face I saw in the grid (the upper checkered boxes being the eyes, centered over the single black square nose and the mouth with its checkered-box teeth and the upturned corners). For me there were also the pleasures of many "mini-reveals" as answers came into view: VICARS, TOP O' THE MORNIN, ICE TRAY, OUTREACH, CHALET....

I got my start in the NW with the RRR-DIET-OFA-MICHAEL stack: enough to get me STARDOM and then the rest of that quadrant. The CH from HORRIFIC and OUTREACH led to CHECKERED PAST and the rest. Seeing the rotating PASTs definitely sped things up.

GUSSET: indelible memory of a way-beyond-my-ability1960s sewing.project for a party dress using a Vogue pattern that required a sleeve GUSSET. Didn't help that the fabric was the world's most unforgiving satin brocade.

evil doug 1:46 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 1:46 PM  

@LaurieG in Connecticut
(forefingers in ears)
la la la la la la la

@ anonymous
I have an idea to stop the trolls. The blogger should stop trying to influence the crossword puzzle editor with his politics. Leave the puzzle alone. No more virtue signaling.

Clue: Rex Parker, e.g.

evil doug 1:47 PM  

Airports were AEROdromes, some of the military aircraft logs I signed were labeled "AEROspace Vehicle"... And one of my favorite San Diego bars is the AERO Club--a pilot hangout just across I-5 from the airport.

Z 2:10 PM  

@Gill I. - Ah, the old Catch-22. Cover-up and hope you don't get caught or be forthright and do the right thing, risking people will stop buying your product because you did a recall. Actually, I think regulations and the fear of law suits are still strong enough to make good corporate citizenship more llikely than not. The PR art is to stay out of the national news. Kill some customers like Blue Bell did and you are a pretty good bet to get national exposure. I'm not quite sure what was so special about SABRA's recall to get so much airplay.

@Tita - If the brands in your fridge don't have a preservative they must be local and they must get eaten up pretty quickly. Lemon is a decent short term preservative, but won't keep the nasties away for a national brand. If the boys are around a tub of hummus will last about 36 hours. If it is just Sal and me, though, we will often end up tossing a ¾ths used tub away (remember Carlin's "meatcake?" Could be meat, could be cake) Even with the portion manipulation the two of won't usually finish the whole tub.

@Numinous - Living in a community where asking a young man, "who makes the best hummus?" will get a response of either "my mom" or "my aunt," makes osterizing my own seem a little pointless. Guacamole or salsa on the other hand... you won't find better than what I make.

da kine 2:26 PM  

What a pedantic and catty review for a really good puzzle. I guess we need to wait 4-8 years for the next straight assessment.

Giovanni Pagano 2:37 PM  

Hey kids, I have a new phrase to teach you today! It's called "virtue signaling"! Can you say "virtue signalling"? Good~

Now I have another word for you all! Can you say "degenerate"? Let's use it in a sentence!

"These DEGENERATE crossword bloggers are about to get real loud for the next four years, rather than sitting there and taking it like good rational adults!"

One more word: can you say "salty"? Here's another sentence:

"Wow, these crossword bloggers are sure getting salty whenever people come in a wreck their safe spaces and pull them into the REAL WORLD!"

That's all for today kids! Remember, millennials are crybabies and have thin skins, so make sure to let then know it Every Day!


(I guess the crossword had a neat theme I suppose)

Anonymous 2:46 PM  

Any doubts left that quite a few Trump supporters are right wing nut cases? la la la

Giovanni Pagano 3:13 PM  

(Note: please do not incorporate these words into your actual vocabulary, as they are more buzzwords and pejorative than actual, useful phrases. Thanks!)

Numinous 3:15 PM  

@Z, I'm sure you are quite the guacamolemeister. I've been making things like hummus and tabouli since I got back to the U.S. from Australia where I had discovered Lebanese food. There was virtually no middle eastern food available in the East Bay then so I found a middle eastern food cook book and learned how to make a lot of middle eastern stuff. Reminds me that I need to find orange flower water so I can make muhallabia. In 1977, on the Fourth of July, I made thirteen dishes for a party of twelve people given by friends of mine. It took me two days of prep and cooking. Everyone sat on the floor and ate with their hands and pita and had a wonderful and new experience. They all complained of being overly stuffed when the muhallabia caramel out. Much to their surprise, the pudding eased their discomfort. For a while, in Sydney, I lived in a Moroccan restaurant run by some friends of mine. I was invariably pleased, when getting home late, to find left over muhallabia in the fridge.

SailorSteveHolt 3:23 PM  

I found this guy to be pretty easy, though "pretty easy" for me is still two or three times as long as it takes the rest of you to finish. So I attribute my (relative) success to planetary alignment or an unusually dense cluster of fleeting moments of clarity.

I immediately suspected "Cork" referred to the Irish city, and had a gut feeling it was some variation of TOP Of THE MORNINg, which Has a naturally Irish accent in my my head.

GEORGE Michael and SEX came to me right away. Obviously, if the puzzle had been crafted months in advance, it must have been tweaked in the last few weeks. (Not sure how many of you are aware that he died just before Carrie Fisher.) Ira Madison III wrote a great essay about his cultural significance, specifically his significance to gay people: "What George Michael Taught Me." I highly recommend it. Trigger warning to homophobes.

TOP O THE MORNIN verified my hunch about AEROS. Figured out STEEPLE CHASES not long after that. Was puzzled by "Native-born Israeli," then just flipped through my mental Rolodex of things I associate with Israel and got SABRA. Still puzzled by the clue. Never heard of TRITONES, but instinct told me the clue referred to C D E = 3 = TRI + "music intervals" = TRITONES. (Initially had TRITONal.)

The SE corner gave me the most trouble. I have no idea what MOIRES is (are?). Eventually got MOP, ICE TRAY, and NORIEGA, which helped me with PLAY AT and OLD AGE. Totally forgot that "Ring" can also be associated with sound not just shape. Tried haLo before I got PLAY AT, then somehow arrived at paLL. (haLo > aura > paLL?)

@Autrement I had an identical thought process! Blu-ray's immediate predecessor is the DVD. When I realized that was a dead end, I thought "VHS?" Solved ROMANO and considered CD-R before getting CAM and VICARS at which point I indignantly thought to myself, "VCR????" Boo hiss.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this one! I didn't even pay attention to the theme and only saw it after Rex explained it. (Hence paLL not TOLL ; the T would have clued me in.) Didn't affect my experience though. Clever clues and unobjectionable fill. Would recommend.

@Loren Not sure how OLD is "OLD" but I was under the impression that there's an inverse relationship between years on earth and self-consciousness. Regardless, if I were to see a woman of a certain AGE on one of those trampolines, I'd think that she's a badass mamma jamma. "OLDer" people who give no fucks about doing what all the youths are doing? That's awesome. You go with your bad self. (...incidentally, I hope there's no pearl-clutching at profanity by the commentariat.)

@Leapfinger "Daneel" frustrated me so much. Whenever I saw it on the page, I silently screamed, "JUST CALL HIM DANIEL."

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

I would bet that a small fraction of those who would prefer the puzzle not be politicized voted for Trump.

DrLee77 3:53 PM  

@Leapfinger; Elijah Bailey was Asimov's detective in his Robot Detective Series,

Ingrid 4:31 PM  

To be absolutely correct, while the band has been come to be known as Bill Haley and the Comets, it was originally Bill Haley and HIS Comets. This is on my original '45. Trust me!

Tita 5:13 PM  

@Z - oh, you caught me. There are more than a few things in my fridge with ingredients I can't pronounce. It's just that hummus happens to be one that a) is so easy to make, and b) for which there are store versions with no additives.
Now guacamole - I bet we can agree on that!

@Numinous - I add tahini. Are you telling me I can leave that out?

@jberg...thanks for the aha moment re: Bill Haley and THECOMETS!!!!
Doh - after -ahem- all these years.

Anoa Bob 6:32 PM  

As a native speaker of long standing, the circles for SHOCKS & its clue "Blows" don't overlap in my Venn diagram. Maybe "shots" & blows", as in "The boxer took several shots/blows to the head".

Speaking of long standing & OLD AGE, I don't think of it as getting OLD, I think of it as staying alive.

Uncle Milford 6:52 PM  

omg. had the same question and thanks for the response.

Anonymous 6:55 PM  

I'm with Anoa Bob. I did the puzzle at work and had one blank square. SHO_KS and _PI. I asked the guy sitting next to me he said CPI. I said "duh me, but in what context does 'shocks' mean 'blows' ? " he said "I dunno" and we back to work. I'm sure someone here can provide the answer so I can say "duh" for the second time today.

Moly Shu 7:05 PM  

@Anoa. I'm going with SHOCKS/blows as meaning awes. As in " that blows me away". Still a stretch, but one I can make.

foxaroni 7:16 PM  

Also, one tiny micro-nit, @Leapfinger...Elijah Bailey was an Earther native. Spacers were the ones from the outworld colonies. When they visited Earth, they wore nose plugs and gloves to avoid Earth diseases, since the Spacers had no immune defenses against them. Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clark gave me immeasurable reading enjoyment as I was growing up. Let's hear it for Ace double novels!

foxaroni 7:21 PM  

I'm going to try making some hummus one of these days. It's on my mental bucket list. In the meantime, Mrs. Fox and I prefer TRIBE hummus. They have a sense of whimsy, too, if you read their packaging carefully.

Sherm Reinhardt 7:26 PM  

Bravo. As a sometime constructor I appreciate Mr. Stulberg's ability to make a puzzle that has blanks without accompanying crosses and it's still doable.

Anonymous 7:40 PM  

OMG! Just spent the last two hours watching the Lincoln Memorial inauguration prelude. I've always considered myself a pretty tough individual, vis-a-vis displaying undue lachrymosity over hearing patriotic songs and/or watching similar events.

I totally lost it after watching and listening to the Army Band and Toby Keith! Seeing so many military personnel cheering the obvious patriotic message only served to reinforce my faith in the spirit of America. I am not ashamed to admit that I involuntarily wept unabashedly.

God Bless America!

Z 8:28 PM  

Hummus and Caves of Steel! This puzzle moves up a notch for inspiring these lines of comments. What next, a discussion of Henry solving all the Black Widowers mysteries or whether having R. Daneel Olivaw linked to the Foundation series was maybe jumping the shark?

Speaking of science fiction... @Teedmn yesterday - Where did you stop with Brin? Kiln People struck me as a fun mash-up of detective noir and sci fi with some almost Asimovian ponderings about the relationship of people to their creations. I think the Uplift novels are better, but I've never not enjoyed a Brin story.

@Tita A - Every store guacamole I've ever tried has been an abomination, a crime against avocados, a sin in the eyes of all that is holy and tasty. The funny thing about too many store hummus is that, in an effort to be "authentic," they leave it too chunky. Whether it is someone's mom bringing me home-made hummus as a thank you or any of the 10,000* Mediterranean restaurants making their own hummus in Dearborn, it is always creamy smoothy. Little avocado chunks good. Chick pea chunks not so much.

@Anoa Bob - regarding OLD AGE, it beats the alternative.

*Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but only a little. Also, I don't really know if all of them make their own. Everybody's mom does, though.

Crane Poole 8:47 PM  

Technical DNF, had a rough time with the fill, I could not get in the groove. A festival of I-shoulda-seen-that-earlier. Agree on questionable cluing for SMUTTY, VCR, and ARTIEST. 'Most pretentious', would be more likely be ARTsIEST.

Also had falsies, then falsees there for TOUPEES. Took a long time to get HOPPERS, that one did not connect for me. I'll go google images of HOPPERS and see if that clarifies things. Since IHOP is also resident here, I'll assume somewhere, somehow, there are IHOPpers - Especially when it's all-you-can-eat week.

GILL I. 9:18 PM  

@z...I might fight you on your salsa. If you use guajillo and ancho then we might be neck and neck. Guac on the other hand - well just peel the damn avocado and add salsa...:-)

Unknown 9:35 PM  

This reminds me of Elizabeth Gorski's Thursday, April 5, 2012 puzzle:

Teedmn 10:11 PM  

@Z, I just checked - I have "The Kiln People" on my shelf so I know I've read it but it didn't leave any memory - I guess I'll have to revisit it. I read "Existence" about a year ago and while I thought his use of crowd sourcing as a form of "overmind" computing was an interesting idea (if I'm remembering the plot accurately), the book didn't blow me away the way the first Uplift trilogy or "The Postman".

And @Z, Tita, @Numinous and everyone else on the hummus discussion - I'm more a fan of Tribe than Sabra, FWIW. Not long ago I found a Fresh Nature brand hummus made with green chickpeas which I just adored, even though it was quite expensive and in the chunky style, which is not my preference. I bought it twice and my store promptly dropped it. Isn't that the way it always goes? And I think tahini is a must ingredient!

+wordphan 4:12 AM  

".....and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to." This kept rolling through my mind, and there's The Inaguration, a sure shocker.

+wordphan 4:18 AM  

I was in Cork a couple years ago and all I got was, "what you be having, lass?"

Anonymous 4:49 AM  

Probably too late. It was Asimov's ELIJAH BALEY. He was a "Settler" not a "Spacer". That was the whole point.
I have a Globe Press First Edition of the Foundation Trilogy.

Anonymous 4:59 AM  

Oops, meant Gnome Press.

2tattered 9:58 AM  

Had 'smacks' for 'blows'. Made a mess of NW.

rondo 10:02 AM  

TOPOTHEMORNIN’! Another puz sans write-overs, which might have added some gridsecs to the deal. But also allowed me to see the rotating PAST. Wrote in MATT and thought, “Huh, that T is unchecked.” Which steered me in the right direction for the revealer.

@teedmn – interesting first instinct on 1a.

Back in the DEY, especially the L.A. Law DEYs, yeah baby Susan DEY was a TV favorite. I f I dug into the archives I might even find episodes taped for the VCR, which most definitely was a forerunner of other devices including bluray. “Forerunner” doesn’t necessarily mean immediately preceding.

‘TIS better than a rebus. Nothing in the fill particularly HORRIFIC. Have a nice DEY!

Burma Shave 11:45 AM  


In the VICAR’S OLDAGE the SEX-CAM TOLL was terrific,
with his VCR he’d PLAYAT making his SMUTTY record last.
After the SHOCKS, the POPE said, “YES,LET’S call it HORRIFIC,


spacecraft 12:17 PM  

An eerie appearance by George MICHAEL so soon after his untimely demise makes this a one-line tribute puzzle. Or two if you count 7-down. But no, the theme lies elsewhere--regardless of whether or not he had a CHECKEREDPAST. When I see an unusual grid like this, I typoically* scan the list for longer clues in search of a revealer. I found it at 36-across, and instantly deduced the entry--which really helped during the subsequent solve. I thought after that start that this was going to be a piece of cake, but not so fast.

It was the off-putting clues, such as the bane of many: 1-across. Yeah, I do get it, SHOCKing news often hits like a blow, but when you clue me "Blows," I am not going to think of SHOCKS. It was like that throughout, little things just a bit off, "Plot" for MAP, e.g.

Those stand-alone letters inside the check patterns can lead to one-way naticks. I had one at 47-across, but SABRA seemed somehow right; good guess. Still, I find this innovative, and different is good. One look at my (rarely) un-hatted head and you'll know why the "Top secrets?" clue didn't even faze me. I don't own one; my TOUPEES are my hats. So, YESLETS for once do the NW first! The southern corners were, as OFL said, hard to get into, but positioning the P-A-S-T letters helped. So yep, just about medium. I still don't quite understand "OFA piece;" perhaps someone will enlighten me. Lots of good, fresh fill, marred only slightly by stuff like RRR. I second @rondo's nomination of Susan DEY as DOD, and score this one a birdie.

*Yeah, I do proofread, but since the typo was "typo," I couldn't resist a STET.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

This puzzle rated a "Huh?". Very little to grab onto, a totally ignorable theme. Generally unpleasant, unfair, and not one bit of fun.


leftcoastTAM 12:54 PM  

Had to cheat to get out of the NW--SHOCKS, RRR (wanted abc)--and NE--SEX ("I Want Your Sex"? Had SMUTTY in place, but please, that's overkill.)

CHECKERED PAST, with the four checker board-like features with their PASTS was a bit too clever-cutesy and more than a little disappointing.

Struggled with much of the rest of it, too.

Mostly annoyed because of the resounding DNF.

leftcoastTAM 1:14 PM  

Oh, and Leon Trotsky was all-too-right about OLD AGE.

rain forest 3:00 PM  

As OLD AGE continues to unexpectedly consume me, I think I must be morphing into a seasoned solver: "Look", says I, "buncha unchecked squares". Cue smug. In the NW I put KEEP in but couldn't think of a word for blows that has a K in it. Didn't even think of "stinks". So I hopped around, lily pad-style to all the other little splotches to get as many of the unchecked words/letters as possible. PAST gradually emerged from this strategy, and so the revealer was, er, revealed.

Things went smoothly after that. Aside: when I was lad, I lived across the street from an elderly Irish gentleman who would *always* say TOP 'O THE MORNIN' to me as I walked to school (uphill both ways). I don't know if he was from Cork, though.
(suppressing an urge to feed the troll, even though I'm pretty sure he/she wouldn't hang around 5 weeks later).

Pretty nice puzzle with a spot-on theme and revealer, some clever cluing, and little to no dreck. I like hummus, but with no added ingredients (has to have tahini and garlic, of course).

@Spacey - I think OF A piece means "consistent with" as in "the troll's comments are OF A PIECE with his beknighted world view".

I have nothing to add to the hummus discussion, except to say that it must have tahini and garlic in it. I've never seen one with other flavours. I like it the way it is.
(suppressing an urge to feed the troll, even though I know he/she wouldn't hang around 5 weeks later.}

Pretty nice puzzle with a spot-on theme and revealer.

Diana,LIW 4:04 PM  

Found it easy for a Thursday - the trick wasn't a rebus.

PAST helped out in the SE, the only corner with crunch for me.

We're over the HORRIFIC part of the demo/reno - said goodbye to the old 'fridge today.

Off to pizza.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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