Part of brain believed to control emotion / TUE 1-24-17 / 1974 top 10 foreign language hit / WW II Allied landing site in Italy / Right-hand page of open book

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Constructor: John R. O'Brien

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: HIDDEN GEM (58A: Masterpiece waiting to be found ... or a hint to the words in the circled letters) — mostly non-consecutive sequential circled letters in themers spell out ... gems:

Theme answers:
  • TOLL PLAZA (17A: Place to pay the going rate?)
  • JEOPARDIZE (25A: Put at risk)
  • PAPER AIRPLANE (35A: Something that might be thrown behind a teacher's back)
  • PRESUMABLY (49A: In all probability)
Word of the Day: ANZIO (7D: W.W. II Allied landing site in Italy) —
Anzio [╦łantsjo] is a city and comune on the coast of the Lazio region of Italy, about 51 kilometres (32 mi) south of Rome. // Well known for its seaside harbour setting, it is a fishing port and a departure point for ferries and hydroplanes to the Pontine Islands of Ponza, Palmarola and Ventotene. The city bears great historical significance as the site of Operation Shingle, a crucial landing by the Allies during the Italian Campaign of World War II. (wikipedia)
• • •

Everything about this puzzle screams "bygone." This theme type—one of the weakest and most ancient—had, I thought, been quietly phased out over time. "Non-consecutive letters that "spell" things" is a fantastically unimpressive and uninspiring gimmick. Those gems aren't "hidden." If you'd strung gem names across two words in the theme answers (e.g. HOP ALONG or DROP A LINE or whatever), and you *didn't* provide the circled squares, and then hit us with HIDDEN GEM, yeah, OK, maybe. But that would be near impossible to do four times with familiar gem names. You could also do the same kind of "hiding" with the letters GEM (e.g. STAGE MANAGER etc.) and that would get you a legit HIDDEN GEM. But finding today's HIDDEN GEMs is like finding secret messages from Cleopatra in your Denny's menu. They're there if you want them to be there. But they aren't *there*. It's not hard to find the letters "RUBY" in a word or phrase. ARGUABLY. CRUMBLY. DRUG BUY. Etc. This puzzle seems like something I'd see in another venue *not* billing itself as "the greatest puzzle in the world." But it's not up to (what should be) NYT standards. And that's without even mentioning the fill, which is far too often tired old stand-bys (some real "classics" today, like the full "ERES TU" and ORA pro nobis, as well as the usual glut of OTO ACTAS DODOS OLEO etc.). The grid is also oddly built, with these huge 8-blocks in the NE / SW, but a super-choppy, black-square riddled middle. 74 words? The whole thing should probably have been rebuilt at 76 or 78 with the fill drastically improved. 

It was very easy. The big revelation for me today was that I can't spell GENTEEL (29A: Affectedly polite). I said the word to myself in my head as I read the clue, but what came out of my fingers and on to the screen was GENTILE. This and TOLL BOOTH were my big missteps for the day, though I also had ADOPT (?) for ACT AS (4A: Assume the role of) and ETS (??) for EMS (43D: Letters on many ambulances). The best part of the grid, for me is DRE DEY down at the bottom. Those aren't "good" answers, but side-by-side they form an unintentional pun that is at least amusing me.

Good dey.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 5:00 AM  

Wow. HIDDEN GEM googles better than “buried treasure.” Who knew?

I find circles fun, and it was cool to see the GEMs there among the other letters. Rex – your feeling was almost DEAD ON: “This puzzle seems like something I'd see in another venue *not* billing itself as ‘the greatest puzzle in the world.’” I had actually kicked around a “buried treasure” idea (stage mom, garbage man, orange marmalade…) and stumbled upon this puzzle by Barry Boone. Rex had a guest writer that day – Acme! Man, those were kinder, gentler times here.

I liked the periphery themers today – GOLDEN LOOT. ORNATE maybe? Does Baroque architecture involve gemstones? I dunno – probably not.

I also liked POSEIDON right over another myth guy, Mars the WAR GOD.

And the classroom vibe of IMP, PAPER AIRPLANE, JEER, OGRES, DODOS… Sigh.

First thought for 17A “place to pay the going rate?” – “pay toilet.” It was one letter too short. Hah.

James 5:13 AM  

Once again the compiler thinks that the Yeomen of the Guard is responsible for guarding Buckingham Palace. It is not - it guards the Tower of London. The soldiers who guard Buckingham Palace are usually the Coldstream Guards.

Eric 5:36 AM  

@James. Thank you. Makes me wince every time I see this in a puzzle. Do not expect it in the NYT.

Anonymous 5:39 AM  

This puzzle is so old and musty, I had to blow dust off my keyboard. Even the more recent entires (DRE, BLIGE, AUTOZONE) are old.

Unknown 5:41 AM  

I thought this was hard (for a Tuesday). Recto? Idest? Anzio? Amygdala?! These are all Friday/Saturday words, imo.

Brett 6:08 AM  

I liked this one quite a bit, mostly for the verticals in the NE and SW. AMYGDALA, POSEIDON, and AUTOZONE--nice work! I guess I hear what Rex is saying about the theme, but the puzzle had more to offer.

Lewis 6:26 AM  

It solved very quickly, and the theme helped me get PRESUMABLY even faster. So, to keep things interesting a little longer, I looked for other little gems in the puzzle, like the cross of ROLL and POLL, the REALLY/DEAD_ON cross, that backward TOOL so close to OTOOLE, and the IMOUT on the periphery of the grid. And some appealing answers -- HOT_DOG (as clued), DEAD_ON, PRESUMABLY, and AMYGDALA, just cause it looks so... I don't know what.

Anyway, I ended up having a grand old time with this, and thanks for that, John!

BigMistake 6:36 AM  

Me too. Southwest dragged me down for a Tuesday. If not for Sri and Got (both of which I wasn't 100% confident in), would have been a DNF. My time was nearly 50% higher than average

Glimmerglass 6:48 AM  

For a change, I agree with @Rex's grumble about the theme. It was so easy, I could fill in RUBY off the B and PAPER AIRPLANE off . . . ANE (confirmed by PEARL). I think I could find a better clue for the revealer than "masterpiece. . . ." How about "Great restaurant few people know about"? The handul of words T Stamos complains about (except for I.E.) are all that kept this from Monday, and even so this was too easy for a Tuesday (IMHO).

John Child 6:54 AM  

I get that it's old hat for @Rex, but to make the puzzle Tuesday-easy I think you have to have the circles and the reveal. IM OUT. SEEYA.

John Child 6:55 AM  

And remember: PLEASE. DO. NOT. FEED. THE. TROLL.

jberg 6:56 AM  

I think I'm with Rex on this one. First two themes had a Z in them; if he'd kept that up all the way, I'd have liked it better.

Lobster11 7:01 AM  

If you didn't know ANNERICE (I didn't), your only hope of finishing was getting her last name from the crosses ORA, STING (clued with a Biblical quote), RECTO, and IDEST. I didn't. Are you &*$*#$ing kidding me? On a Tuesday?!

David B 7:27 AM  

Hard for a Tuesday. Had TOLLBOOTH before TOLLPLAZA and WARTS before CYSTS.

Passing Shot 7:28 AM  

Huh. I didn't mind it as much as Rex did, though it was certainly too easy for a Tuesday. Some nice long answers -- JEOPARDIZE, AMYGDALA, PRESUMABLY. Verbatim before PARROTED was the only stumble.

kitshef 7:30 AM  

Fer sher not easy for me. Love the NE stack, but agree that the theme is so thin it detracts from, rather than adds to, the fun of solving. Get rid of the circles - then you add some interest.

Beefeater's Gin Drinker 7:55 AM  

According to the Royal Encyclopaedia, the Yeoman Warders guard the Tower of London. The Yeoman of the Guard have many duties including all investitures and summer Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace.

chefbea 8:06 AM  

Found this pretty easy but thought amygdala would be WOD...never heard of that word. Loved all the gems

Z 8:07 AM  

Is Hell frozen?

7:00 and change, typical Tuesday time. Otherwise what Rex said.

@James and @Eric - Let me refer you to FAQ #16 and Wikipedia. To be clear, you are correct that the Coldstream Guard are the people we are all thinking of as those stiff sillies, the people who guard Buckinghsm Palace. We'll let you ponder on the subtly of "at" in the clue.

Z 8:08 AM  

I have always liked Beefeaters.

Ken Aaron 8:25 AM  

I am telling you: Cleopatra is TOTALLY sending me messages through the Denny's menu.

wgh 8:29 AM  

This one fought me the whole way. Bit too esoteric for a Tuesday IMO.

Nancy 8:42 AM  

You didn't get me today, you stupid car! Hah! And double Hah! Because, as everyone here knows, my ignorance of car makes is legendary. And today my ignorance of brain parts proved to be almost as legendary. What was 23A? DEO? No, AMYDDALA didn't look quite right. REO? No, AMYRDALA didn't look quite right either. Let's try GEO. Ah, yes. AMYGDALA does look right. Whew. And with that, my successful finish was guaranteed.

I liked this one -- not for the theme especially, although it was nice enough, but because the puzzle was challenging for a Tuesday. The challenge began at 1D, which could have been HURRAY or HURRAH, but wasn't. I was looking for a movie at 30D, not an aria. I liked the clue and answer for PAPER AIRPLANE and for PEASANTS. A nice early week puzzle.

Hartley70 8:47 AM  

The puzzle should have run as a Monday. I found yesterday's more challenging, but that said it was a fine offering. Like @Rex, I wrote GENTile first and had to make the correction, and while I knew AMYGDALA, I had to spell it "seven ways to Sunday" before I got it right. I kept seeing Princess Amadila in my head.

The high point of the morning so far was the laugh I got from reading @Rex. I love the idea of looking for Cleopatra's messages in a Denny's menu. It sounds like much more fun than coloring on the placemat.

Ted 9:05 AM  

SRI crossing RECTO and IDEST

REID crossing ERESTU and ELIA

I mean... I got there, but guys. It's Tuesday. Maybe save these and ANZIO for something that isn't Tuesday.

Alexander 9:21 AM  

Very surprised this was ranked as easy.

SW corner was very tricky, esp as I originally had ALLEY for LANES.

Never heard of YEOMEN, only beefeaters

L 9:34 AM  

I struggled too, especially for a Tuesday.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Amygdala/Geo was a Natick for me. So you run the alphabet. Nancy (at 8:42) did this intelligently. I didn't, even though I know a little Greek. My Amyndala doesn't really look Greek, as she stated. Besides, even if a car was named Neo, on a Tuesday it would have been clued differently. Sometimes the old brain just shuts down.

By the way, if you are ever in Anzio (and you probably aren't, unless you are hopping a boat to Ponza, which I was), and you look a little German, don't eat there. A friend with me, who "looked German" (he wasn't) was poisoned by the waitor or chef, and spent the next three days with bad food poisoning. This was some ten years ago. For some reason they spared me--apparently having a "German" friend was not enough. Later learned that German troops in WW2 behaved particularly like thugs in the Anzio campaign. They knew they were going to lose this battle to the Allies, and probably all of Italy as well, and they took it out on the local population. Even the militant fascists hated the Germans in Anzio.

QuasiMojo 9:54 AM  

Yo, man! Amygdala sounds like a rap star, doesn't she? Kudos to the constructor for fitting it/her in. I have no problem with the concept of "hidden gems" but one does get bored typing in "Topaz" and "Opal" into the NYT puzzle nearly every day. Hey guys, (that's you, Mr. Shortz) there is an entire universe of interesting words out there that has nothing to do with Leon Uris, sticks of "oleo," Elia Kazan, dodos, ogres, and titled Indians, and awful blessedly forgotten pop songs with a Spanish flavor. "Really!"

G. Weissman 9:55 AM  

I'm a teacher, and was once a student. Is PAPER AIRPLANE throwing behind the teacher's back a thing? Really? And are LANES a venue, singular? I bowl on a lane when I go bowling, not on lanes. ALLEY seems like the better answer for venue. And does PRESUMABLY really mean "In all probability"? That clue suggests CERTAINLY or SURELY. What is presumed need not be near-certain or at all probable. This puzzle is "in all probability" quite poor.

The Daily Ant 10:00 AM  

I agree with the people saying this one was hard for a Tuesday - maybe it's an age thing (young whippersnapper here). Had trouble with RECTO, IDEST, ANZIO, LAYAWAY, ALAN, and ERESTU (???), and just in general I felt like the cluing was a tad harder than a normal Tuesday.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

I blew through the puzzle and just ignored the circles. I think this skewed easy for those who really know their crosswordese. I can see how it would be hard for others. The theme was ok but left me with a meh feeling. I now want to compare IHOP's menu with Denny's menu to see the difference in the messages Cleopatra was sending. I as sure they would be would be full of ASPiration.

pmdm 10:25 AM  

Perhaps because I thought 35D was verbatim (encouraged by ornate and sting), and with some proper nouns that tripped me up, I found this puzzle a little more difficult than a typical Tuesday puzzle.

To respond to what you asked yesterday, Z, I tend to avoid passing judgment on opinions but will take exception to how they are communicated. An opinion that a theme is unremarkable is just an opinion that may or may not be correct. The comments usually posted tend to be diverse, suggesting that black and white judgments are poor attempts to turn opinion into fact. And yesterday, I actually had ambiguous feelings about the theme so I can't say whose opinion I agreed with.

Hungry Mother 10:31 AM  

Ignored the theme and it didn't matter. Lots of downs to get through it, but pretty quickly.

GILL I. 10:31 AM  

This felt like a diamond in the rough puzzle. It had some good stuff like AMYGDALA JEOPARDIZE POSEIDON YEOMEN but, [sigh] so oldy moldy... Oh, I looked up HIDDEN GEM just for fun and the Urban Dictionary's definition is an eye popper. I'd copy it here but it might get censored.
HOT DOG is an Oh goody?
I always feel bad for Tuesday constructors because you just know he/she will not get a GENTEEL rating...

RooMonster 10:37 AM  

Hey All !
Put me in the like-circles-in-puzs group. And this one was pretty nice. Also agree that there are non-TuesPuz answers in here. But, managed to finish, even though had a two-letter DNF. SRa ans AsONE. (In defense of AsONE for ALONE, it could've been... No defense for that A in SRa/aDEST!)

21 3's. Only 8 of 'em Across. Sometimes your grid ends up like that. Just an observation.

Nice non forced Z's. @M&A, 6 G's, no F's. :-)


Joseph Michael 10:38 AM  

Theme felt old but thought the puzzle was okay overall. Had "hurrah" before HOTDOG, TOLL "booth" before PLAZA, "most likely" before PRESUMABLY and never did quite figure out what that old AMYGDALA was.

The downs were the best part of the puzzle. Liked the weird mix of POSEIDON, AUTO ZONE, and ANNE RICE. Also liked the clue for STL , which turned an ugly little entry into an interesting answer (I kept thinking of the ring you kiss on the finger of a Catholic religious figure).

Random reparsings:

PA PAL - dad who hangs out with his kids
IDEST - most impulsive
GENT EEL - refined moray

old timer 10:49 AM  

I too thought the YEOMEN clue was off. Turned out to be correct though, so thanks to the gin drinker above. The YEOMEN in question are all old enough to retire from the military. Unlike the guards you see guarding the gates of the Palace, who in times of war actually may go into battle.

I didn't really care about the hidden gems and circled letters, but a Tuesday must have a theme. I thought pretty highly of the puzzle because it had some unusual words like AMGDALA and POSEIDON (impressive they were side by side.)

I agree if you did not immediately know ANNERICE you could be in trouble. Especially because PEASANTS is wrongly clued. PEASANTS work in rural areas and almost always had enough to eat. It was the urban proletariat in Paris that marched off to Versailles to complain to the King that they were hungry and poor.

Cassieopia 11:08 AM  

HOTDOG, this puzz tickled my AMYGDALA! ANNERICE, STL, and BLIGE nearly JEOPARDIZED my ability to get this puzzle DEADON, but the high number of clues PARROTED from previous crosswords (OLEO, ODE, RECTO, EMS, APPS, ENE, DRE, DEY) REALLY help me and I came in under my Tuesday average.

Delighted to see POSEDIDON in the puzzle, I knew the answer but couldn't spell it at first, same with AMYGDALA so that slowed me down. Absolutely no idea what an ERESTU is so thank goodness for the crosses. GENTEEL was a gimme, probably because of all the turn-of-the century literature I read. A more GENTEEL time for sure.

I like circle puzzles, and the revealer helped me get PRESUMABLY (foiled by the ERESTU cross) because I figured there was no such gem as a RoBY. Once I got RUBY, PRESUMABLY fell into place.

Liked it, thank you John R. O'Brien!


Warren Howie Hughes 11:46 AM  

Rex, You call this Tues. Xword offering "Easy?" I beg to differ Sir, what with several rather lengthy words, never seen before in the NYT's, that would've been better suited to a Fri. or a Sat.

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Uhoh the Times may have to throw a legend down the memory hole. Brian Eno: "We've been in decline for 40 years-Trump is a chance to rethink."

puzzle hoarder 12:05 PM  

I know our host has made a crusade of denigrating the work of others constructors who actually get published in the NYT but I have to disagree on this one. I didnt think it was published for the sake of it's theme so much as the quality of the vertical 8 and 7 blocks and their intersection with the themers which are good entries in and of themselves. That NE section really stands out AUTOZONE is a debut and AMYGDALA is a virtual debut having only been seen once before and in a Variety puzzle. Keep in mind that the 8 blocks have to intersect with two of the themers. To accomplish this he used a lot of standard ese but that's typical of early week themed puzzles. I know I'm sounding Jeff Chenish and yes this was very easy to solve but I still disagree that this is somehow beneath the NYT. @Nancy, I love that you don't know from cars. You are a true Manhattanite. I hope I spelled that word that right.

Numinous 12:21 PM  

I've never heard of a double DIP recession but it was easy to figure out. I spelled CYST with an I so finding that REALLY messed up my time. Overall I found this to be easy. When I hit 10D as a crosser I knew it was going to be AMYGDALA and that gave me PAPAL. I thought this was just about right for a Tuesday. I had a bit of trouble in the bottom half with things like alley for LANES. I can't imagine anyone saying, "Want to go bowling? Let's go out to the LANES."

I waited on ANNE RICE the day she signed the contract for Interview with the vampire. She and the guy she was with (PRESUMABLY her husband) were excited and decided to have a glass of wine before lunch.

The theme here was just an "Oh, okay" thing. Neither good or bad, just a thing. It wasn't until I got to the revealer that I noticed the circles. Seeing TOPAZ again surprised me but these things seem to happen frequently.

Seeing that spurious Warren Buffet letter, was it yesterday? Got me wondering why I never ran for congress.

Masked and Anonymous 12:31 PM  

I count 2 hidden gems. Only one of em in the circles. Altho, the other one is aptly placed in IMOUT.

fave new word: AMYGDALA. Also, nicely stacked with POSEIDON (god of the sea) and AUTOZONE (god of the wiperblade).

MARCO ... RECTO. har

And now, on to some alternative facts …

Secret messages from Cleopatra found hidden in Denny's menus by the wily @RP!
Wow. That's gotta be tricky, sneakin hieroglyphs into a restaurant menu. But, if @RP says "They're there if U want them" … then it's a fact, Jack & Al. At first hard look, M&A was havin no luck findin any at all. But ... after donnin the official @RP Egyptian double-coned tinfoil wave-receptor hat, things came into instant focus … rebus! (well, kinda) ...

Highlight bullets:
* ASPS in the asparagus. Well, duh.
* Pancakes stacked subtly in a sorta PYRAMID shape, in a menu pic.
* Pewit in the "poultry" section pic. Must be a typo-glyph. Probably supposed to be a FALCON.
* SCARABS in the dungeness crabs. (Well, pretty day-um close enough.)
* PHARAOHS in the farfalle. AMERICAN PHAROAH in the oats.
* JACKALS in the monterrey jack omelets.
* Complimentary ROSETTA STONE etched into the place mats, thanx U. Hidden message came out to de-code as: "U ARE IN DE NILE". Secondary message: "20% OFF NEXT VISIT IF U DO THE SURVEY".

And thanx to U, Mr. O'Brien. Really admired all them loong stacks and the luvly desperation that ensued. Next time, don't hide all the U's, tho.

Masked & Anonymo2Us


Ellen S 1:03 PM  

@Gill -- thanks for the suggestion to look up HIDDEN GEM in Urban Dictionary. Wow. Yuck. CYSTs, Warts, and now ... that. Their word or phrase of the day is Tryannosaurus Rump. I thought it was amusing -- never considered those tiny hands that way before. And they have a deal on coffee mugs. You can get them printed with either a random word+definition, or pick your own word. What a great gift idea! Unfortunately, my iPad won't display the price.

G. Weissman - yes, PAPER AIRPLANES are a thing thrown behind the teacher's back. Not (usually) the regular teacher, but substitute, look out! Those and spitwads. When my parents sent me to Sunday School it was even worse. Reform temple -- I never could figure out why my religious instructions wasn't on the Sabbath. Just now -- 65 years later -- it occurs to me that if we're not supposed to labor on the Sabbath, believe me, those teaches were working. And when there was a substitute Sunday school teacher, they were doomed. We would stuff spitballs in the radiator so the steam would build up and send them flying. We were like animals.

I've been thinking about that a lot lately, as I try to cope with the two puppies I'm fostering for the animal shelter. They had demodex (we used to call it demodectic mange, but if you say "mange" nobody will adopt them) and needed a place to chill while their fur grew back and they stopped looking like space lizards. They make me and my fellow prisoners in the paragraph above look like dedicated scholars. I've been remembering every bad thing I and my fellows did to a substitute teacher, and thinking, "this is the universe paying me back."

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

Strange how, if it were on the written page, a typo would jump right out at me, but in the grid I can totally ignore it. I did it this morning in a different puzzle and now I JEaPoRDIZEd my puzzle solution by not recognizing it should be spelled lEOPARD-like. Where are my CAT-LIKE reactions?

But 22D was not going to be a launching PoD so I was able to fix that. I made up for that one by splatzing in AMYGDALA off the A, (which site in my brain was probably lighting up in triumph).

I can ACCEDE to @Rex's claim that this is an easy and not especially ground-breaking Tuesday type puzzle but it had its HIDDEN charms. Thanks, Mr. O'Brien.

I think I'll be doing some ROLL PLAYing later, as I am dining out this evening. And I don't plan on having and crispy PHARAOH again like I did on Sunday (thanks M&A).

Nancy 1:26 PM  

Spelled perfectly, @puzzlehoarder. And thanks for your comment.

Carola 1:43 PM  

Like others, I found the GEMS in the puzzle to be those long Downs, while the (non)HIDDEN ones in the theme answers were a disappointment. Trying to find a way to justify the randomly scattered circles, I thought they could represent the sparkly glints from the jewels' facets, but that doesn't really work with PEARL or JADE.

I had occasion to read something about the AMYGDALA recently, but I can't remember what it was - hopefully not about its being the seat of memory. Almost got ANZIO confused with the ANZac Corps.

@Teedmn - I totally needed the crosses for the vowels in JEOPARDIZE.
@M&A - LOL!

chefwen 1:56 PM  

@Hungry Mother - I'm getting a little concerned, you keep losing your wine.

Super easy, thanks to the theme and circles, love circles. Only hang up was the ever popular AMYGDALA and squirming a little trying to remember exactly how to spell POSEIDON. Oh, and like @Nancy, not good at all with car names, so that G was hit or miss.

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

Can't disagree with Rex on the theme answers, but I liked AMYGDALA, POSEIDON, WARGOD, and ANNERICE -- pretty zingy answers!

Masked and Anonymous 2:06 PM  

yo, @Teedmn: U will tend to get that crispy PHARAOH outcome at Denny's, when wearin the inferior Samsung E-gyp-to tinfoil wave-receptor hat model. A real common mistake.
Well splatzed, btw.

While I'm here again…

I reckon I got so caught up in Egyptology, I failed to mention earlier some crucial items about the TuesPuz:

1. I can't spell GENTEEL, either & didn't have to, for a long while, cuz ...; 2. Had HURRAH at 1-D for many lingerin, witherin nanoseconds; 3. staff weeject pick = TIA, as I got suckered in and splatzed off with AVE; 4. ROLL/POLL + ROLL PLAY. Just admirin; 5. @muse: OGRES and DODOS classroom vibe? yep. Hear yah. And those were just the counselors…; 6. Clarification:Meant to ask Mr. O'Brien not to hide the *extra* U's, in his puz. Clearly, the two that were findable weren't hieroglyphed, or nuthin; 7. Puz played kinda fun & feisty, for m&e; 8. Them little zigzag patterns in the gridart center area look sorta like runty ASPS. (Sorry--unsolicited text msg from the tinfoil hat).


thfenn 2:22 PM  

Having tossed multiple PAPERAIRPLANEs behind my high school chemistry teacher's back, I had to love this one, but a very hard Tuesday in my book. Having ALLEY and AXE (and seeing EXPECTEDLY would fit) was tough to resolve, and it wasn't until I figured out that I had to come up with a 4-letter gem ending in Y that I could get to R-U-B-Y, go with PRESUMABLY, then LOP, and then I needed the theme to complete this, and that helps make it a good puzzle, again "in my book".

RECTO, IDEST, and AMYGDALA don't seem like Tuesday fare to me (nor did ANNERICE, but more comfortable just blaming myself for that one being hard). IMOUT had to wait for Ipass, IfOld, and IquiT to fall by the wayside. Sure wish I could emulate Picasso and Pollock simply by PAINTing (tho sure, back in high school, again, I thought Pollock was considerably more emulatable than Picasso). But all in all, a challenging and rewarding Tuesday.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Agree with Rex. Easy puzzle for accomplished solvers. I thought it was nice to see Amy G. Dala and Mary J. Bligh recognized in the same puzzle.

I always thought that the Beefeater Gin label was very deceiving. Many would argue that the real beefeaters are the ravens, although they aren't depicted on the Beefeater label. The Yeoman Warders may very well eat beef, (though some may be vegans) but even though the royal ravens can't fly straight, it isn't because they drink gin!

Crane Poole 2:41 PM  

A little beyond 'easy' here but fair for Tuesday. I've no complaint with the old theme but I was unhappy with the trio of Latin answers pressed into the southwest. I was cruelly forced to endure Mocedades's ERES TU often, and it all occurred 20 years past its popularity. Punishment, that. Once again, AMYGDALA is way way down on this year's list of baby names.

Wordsmith 3:04 PM  

Found it challenging and fun. Loved Amygdala and hope other parts of the brain are also celebrated by creators and critics.

foxaroni 3:21 PM  

@Crane Pool...rats! You named Mocedades before I had the chance. ERES TU is quite the treacle-ey song. I liked it the first 50 times I played it on the air in Topeka. Not so much after that, LOL.

For once, this was an easy puzzle for me. No write-overs, which I find astounding.

@LMS, @Joseph Michael, @M&A: funny stuff, as usual. Thanks for the chuckles, laughs and snickers. And thanks, John O'Brien.

Anonymous 6:01 PM  

Why even do this blog when all you do is complain about every single crossword? It's a chore to read your comments. We know you're really good at doing the crossword... but the tone of every explanation is cringe worthy at best. Maybe get a different hobby if you hate the NYC crossword so much.

jae 6:19 PM  

Add me to those who found this a tad tough. My problems were mostly of the spelling variety...JEOPARDY, AMYGDALA, me too for GENTilE and TOLL booth and MARiO before MARCO (must've been thinking of a video game character). Agree with @Rex about the theme, but the long downs were excellent, especially for a Tues. Liked it.

Charles Flaster 6:57 PM  

The trick to making the SW easy is to know the CROSSWORDease--RECTO. You should learn it.
BTW--left hand page is " verso".
Thanks JRB. Note to WS-- this should have been a Wednesday.

Andrew Heinegg 11:03 PM  

Bless you for your kindness towards the animals. BUT! That is not payback. It is you showing whom you really are.

Dolgo 2:34 AM  

Yeomen of the Guard. Gilbert and Sullivan, no?

Burma Shave 9:46 AM  


that’s more GENTEEL than the STING of RECTO-ROLL-PLAY.


rondo 10:27 AM  

It was the easiest of times, it was the hardest of times. Or so seems to say the commentariat. Lotsa long or longish answers, but by my count, 21 threes. The difference could PRESUMABLY JEOPARDIZE one’s feelings about rating the puz either way.

Plenty of names again, four downs next to each other down south with ATHOS BLIGE DRE DAY occupying a block of space. Throw in MESA Verde and ALAN and it’s six. Yeah babies Mary J BLIGE and Susan DEY can fight it out in that area.

We’ve all seen green PAINT, but then does that make TOLLPLAZA, PAPERAIRPLANE, and HIDDENGEM GOLDEN PAINT?

More things to say? Not REALLY, IMOUT of ‘em. SEEYA.

spacecraft 10:44 AM  

I kind of agree about random circles; you can spell out pretty much anything you want. When I see those, my first thought is: well, I'm not going to be thrilled today. The eight-stacks are mildly impressive, the sixes marginally so. ERESTU is a nose-wrinkle for sure. LANES (BTW, that's fine as a venue, since "venue" is the entire building, which houses many) appears as the next across entry after paper airpLANE, and the POLL/ROLL cross are less than lovely. The rest is pretty clean. A serviceable, but unexciting, puzzle.

Change the Y to an I and remove the G, and we have Princess AMIDALA, a true Damsel of the Day. Stretching it? I'll stretch for Natalie Portman any time. I think this is better crafted than OFL gives credit for; still, the birdie putt came up short. Par.

BS2 11:01 AM  


add her ORNATE GOLDEN LACE, they in CYSTS she’s DEADON the throne.


BS3 11:06 AM  

oops - Marie's
need to proofread

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

Tricky, but totally fair puzzle. The best Tuesday within memory. with some really challenging words.

It was NOT "easy", or "old", it was fun!

Diana,LIW 1:00 PM  

Nattering Nabobs of Natick! All clear sailing until the quad Natick in the SW turned me into a DODO. Learned some new Latin today, and I should have known Anne Rice. One letter dnf


Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 1:09 PM  

Before reading Rex or any comments:

Tuesdays usually have been given little or no respect. This one deserves some.

This, despite the weakness of the theme. The GEMs are not HIDDEN. They're in plain sight and circled to make them perfectly obvious. And should they be called "Masterpieces"?

But there are a number of non-theme answers that provide a bit of unusual Tuesday sparkle: AMYGDALA, RECTO, IDEST, TOLLPLAZA, GENTEEL, ERESTU, and some others of the longer variety.

May be too generous, but I liked this one.

leftcoastTAM 1:24 PM  

Oops, delete themer TOLLPLAZA from the above.

wcutler 3:02 AM  

DNF on a Tuesday! That is so discouraging. But I didn't have trouble with a single entry mentioned by anyone else. The ones I didn't know were names ATHOS, BLIGE (though I've heard of both); STL (I did think of a team, but couldn't remember who the Cards were - yes, I've heard of them, but I had EMT instead of EMS. And I never thought of OGRES. I used the gimmick to get two of the clues - I like it when that happens.

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