Thursday, February 23, 2017

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Eeeeeeeasy

THEME: Number madness — asterisked clues have answers that don't seem right—they're actual phrases, but the first word (a number in every case) doesn't fit the clue, and stands where the "correct" word should be. Turns out that the number corresponds to the numbered square in the grid where you will find the "correct" word.

• THIRTY ROCK (3D: *1970s fad item) (30D = PET)
• TEN PINS (28A: *Bulletin board fasteners) (10D = PUSH)
• FORTY WINKS (9D: *Pulls a fast one on) (40A = HOOD)
• TWENTY QUESTIONS (62A: *"Which weighs more — a pound of feathers or a pound of lead?" and others) (20A = TRICK)
Word of the Day: porte cochère (43A: Establishments that often have porte cochères => INNS) —
noun
Architecture
noun: porte cochère; plural noun: portes cochères
1. a covered entrance large enough for vehicles to pass through, typically opening into a courtyard.
• North American
a porch where vehicles stop to discharge passengers.
• • •

Hey, this is a nifty theme. I just wish it had been about 3x harder—maybe then I'd've been forced to figure out what the hell the theme even was. This thing was so easy that despite my having no idea what, exactly, was going on with the numbers-replacing-words gimmick, I finished in the low 4s, which is a sizzling Thursday time for me. There's just no resistance anywhere, and there needs to be for the theme to have any real in-game implications. Discovering the theme after all is said and done does not make for a great aha moment. But again, from a conceptual standpoint, as well as a purely architectural standpoint, this crossword is good. Clever and ambitious, with a grid that is very clean, especially considering the constraints of the theme (which are considerable). It must've been interesting to construct. Before the grid is constructed, the long themers all have lots of possibilities where the replaced word is concerned; that is, the THIRTY in THIRTY ROCK could in theory have pointed to any answer at 30D (or 30A, depending on how you made the grid) that fit the "___ rock" pattern. Here, it's PET, but in some alternate universe puzzle it could've been KID or ACID or whatever. Lots of options also for "___ pins." Fewer for "___winks" and "___ questions." Anyway, looks like it would've been challenging (and fun) to make.

OK, well, um, I don't remember anything about solving this, honestly. Hardest part for me to get into, and the place where I wrapped things up, was the west. Just couldn't back into ARRID from the clue (35A: Toiletry brand whose TV ads once featured the Supremes), and SKY was not at all what I had in mind for Horus (I kept thinking "TIME" ... but ... I guess not) (26A: Domain of Horus, in Egyptian myth). If I hadn't had the "Z" from ZELDA, ITZA might've been tough. If I hadn't had the "Q" from QUESTIONS, NIQAB might've been tough. But in both cases, I did and they weren't. PAEAN was hard. I kept wanting PSALM (52D: Song that might have hosannas). But virtually everything else was wicked easy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Episode 002 of "On the Grid," the crossword podcast I do with Lena Webb, is now available. And we're on iTunes now! Check it out.

jae

Yes, easy and fun. Like @Rex I finished fairly quickly so I needed to stare at the grid for several precious nanoseconds (@m&a) to grok what was going on. Made me smile, liked it. Nice one Jeff.

The HEWN/AIDEN/NIQAB/BEN area might be tough, but I'm not sure if any other letters make sense, except for maybe lEN or kEN?

Anonymous

Way way way too easy. I finished in record Thursday time for me -- not even close to my prior beat time. Rex nailed it -- nice idea poorly executed. Should have been a Tuesday.

Anonymous

Ingenious and beautifully constructed puzzle, though I agree that it was fairly easy. Sighing once again at Rex's critique -- this time b/c he's being unusually civil, if only because Jeff Chen a high-profile constructor, (whereas, had the constructor been a newbie or lesser-name talent, he would have been raked across the coals by OFL). It's what I like to call Rex's DS-BS (double-standard butt-smooch).

Anon

I don't get the sense that Rex and Mr. Chen are remarkably fond of (or particularly respectful of) each other's crafts. This was very easy and Rex's assessment was insightful. Anyway, 2 fun and artful puzzles in a row.

Robin

Nice idea, but yeah, too easy for a Thursday. According to the clock on the Times website, I missed my Thursday record by 6 seconds. (The screwy Thursday 3 weeks ago was somehow my record.) Only errors I had to fix were for writing in PSALM for PAEAN and HIJAB for NIQAB

puzzle hoarder

While this is a very well made and clever puzzle I didn't find it easy. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out how the theme entries could possibly be related to their clues and hesitated to put them in. The fill had some either or elements. Is it HIJAB or NIQAB, PSALM or PAEAN, SERIES or RERUNS. Adding to the confusion I had a RUNS/RBIS and an ASIWAS/ANYWAY write over. That second write over really slowed down getting into the SW. The SW corner was where I finished. ITZA was an unknown and as clued is a debut. This particular OWEN I had forgotten but remembering ZELDA made that little corner fall in place. This was just under a half hour to get a clean grid. A quick look over that finished puzzle allowed me to put FORTY and HOOD together and figure out the theme. A very satisfying Thursday.

Fountains of Golden Fluids

Does anyone remember laughter?

Churlish Nabob

I don't remember laughter but I do remember about a week ago when Shortz mopped the floor with Michael.

phil phil

IDLEHANDS are the devil's workshop as far as I remember.

Trombone Tom

In a word: FUN! Jeff has constructed a clever and interesting puzzle with a twist. I enjoyed this one very much even if it was a tad on the easy side.

I was slowed down by a couple of miscues. I tried ANYhow before ANYWAY and plopped in PUsh before PUTT.

When we lived in Indianapolis (two times) I don't recall the locals referring to it often as INDY. It was mainly outsiders and in reference to the race that INDY was used. Sort of like San Franciscans not calling their home Frisco. I defer to current resident Hoosiers to correct this.

And, yes, it's a greater pleasure to read OFL's comments when he's not being quite so uniformly negative.

Moly Shu

Mostly easy here except for that upper middle section. Had OILER and ARKIN and nothing else. Finished the rest of the puzzle, then went back to the section. Luckily I got the theme so that got me TRICK, then MUIR and BALI were obvious, and I finished. Of course hIjAb first. Fun, liked it.
@Fountains and @Churlish, I remember laughing when WS "mopped the floor". Does that count?

Anonymous

Solved the whole thing without actually understanding the trick except that there were numbers in weird places. It was a fun puzzle but I was mystified until I looked here for an explanation.

Hartley70

This puzzle was good clean fun. I wasn't bothered by any dreck and the theme took me 2/3rds of the solve to understand which is just how I like it.

I had no trouble with ARRID but GESTE was harder until I wondered if the movie "Beau GESTE" had any relevance. The "tater" reference to RBI made no sense but I don't expect any when we're talking sport slang, so I just went with it. The SE was tougher because I was unfamiliar with both OWEN and ITZA. These were minor stumbling blocks that I RASSLED quickly, so I agree this was an easy Thursday.

I'm enjoying the opera tutorial @Numi. I'm familiar with these arias, but I couldn't have identified the sources. The Flower Duet is still my favorite and I'm going to guess Lakme is a woman and trust that I'm correct. I have some serious libretto study in my future. Keep working on suppressing those guffaws, @Oisk!

Mike in Mountain View

Terrific puzzle. Like Rex, I figured out the gimmick only after I was done, but that was satisfying enough. Clever idea, wonderfully executed.

Thanks, Jeff.

Theodore Stamos

4 minutes? How do you do that? I think if you gave me a list of all the answers to a crossword puzzle, it would still take me longer than that to type them in!

Charles Flaster

Totally agree with Rex's review. Really was exactly my sentiments. Never stopped writing so ITZA and NAQIB were easy to suss. HOOD gave me the idea for WINKS so sussing the theme was quite straightforward.
Construction had to be brutally challenging.
Thanks JC.

Anonymous

PSALM occurred to me, but those will have hallelujahs. Cool theme.

VaBeach puzzler

You might have found it more challenging if, like me, you had printed it out. Two of the four asterisks were missing.

Unknown

I still don't get the need to do a puzzle as fast as one can. Why not just enjoy the puzzles and stop competing so much?

Lewis
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Lewis

I completed the puzzle, but couldn't suss the reason for the numbers in the theme answers. Thought and thought and thought but the coin never dropped. When I found out the answer here, it gave me a big wow and smile, as well as a big d'oh.

Excellent puzzle, Jeff. I got it all but I didn't get it all. You THIRTEENGOOD on this one!

Passing Shot

OFL and others might have tound this "eeeeeeasy," but the NE kicked my ass. Got [some] of the trick answers thanks to crosses, but I had no idea what was going on.

Glimmerglass

Brilliant gimmick, which I didn't get until almost the end. I didn't find the puzzle easy. My print-out was missing the asterisks for 62A and 9D. Also, I was having trouble with the Guatemala part of the clue for ITZA. Chichen ITZA, where I first fell in love with Mayan glyphs, is in Mexico. I had a Natick where NIQAB crosses AIDEN, but the I was a reasonable guess. There's just no pleasing @Rex (a terrific puzzle is "too easy" for him).

GHarris

Had punt before putt, Niqab crossing Aiden was brutal and never got the theme despite getting the right answers.Still, found it to be fun.

Andrew Goodridge

It sounds like I missed a recent Will Shortz vs. Rex Parker exchange... anyone have a link or summary?

I loved today's theme and execution. Though I don't much care for the use of "tater" in a baseball context, I still laughed when I got 58A. Happy to learn SAHIB and NIQAB. Can't argue with a fun theme, clever clues and a few new words. Thank you, Jeff!

Sallie (FullTime-Life)

Finished it last night, did not get the theme at all until I read it here. I wonder how many solvers did?

Anonymous

I finished and had to idea why what going on with the seemingly incorrect answers. I even had read Rex's explanation 3 or 4 times till I figured it out. And then.... Oh! Aha! Cool! And finally it made sense... Cleverl!

Bill Feeney
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous

Go to whatever day the celebrity constructor thing happened. Rex spreads lies about constructor pay for the NYT and Will let the truth be known in the comments section here.

chefbea

Toughest puzzle ever!!! Could not figure it out. No time to read all the posts. We are off to Myrtle Beach to shop at the outlets and eat lunch at Steak and Shake...my favorite!!!!

Ted

Easy to start, very hard to finish if you didn't "get" the theme. Stuck in the West going "what?"

Had to come here to have the theme spelled out for me.

Bill Feeney

I got stuck where no one else probably did. I didn't know who played the butler and thought the group reporting to the President was the NSA. So I had -irst-i- and wanted first so badly because I had thirty and forty. I know they're missing the th but I couldn't let go. As @Rex said this must have been a joy to construct. As a newbie in commentland, I don't understand how anyone can do a puzzle in four minutes. Is it a stopwatch thing where time is out until the next answer is ready to be filled in? Even if I had all the answers in front of me, I don't think I could complete the puzzle in four minutes. Thanks Jeff for a very enjoyable puzzle.

r.alphbunker

Had BRUNCH for 48A {Napoleon's place} BAKERY temporarily. Otherwise smooth sailing. Did not see the trick until I came here.

Details are here.

Stanley Hudson

What an enjoyable way to begin Thursday! A tip o' the hat to one of the maestros (SAHIBs?), Jeff Chen.

Nancy

I always know how good I think a puzzle is by how quickly I want to finish it so I can rush here and say tell you all how good I think it is. And this one is good! I love the fact that both the real answer and the substitute answer are actual phrases. I got the theme at FORTY WINKS -- which initially made me think I was losing my mind until I figured out the TRICK. Without the TRICK, I would not have been able to finish the NW; I had ROCK, but not THIRTY, and I didn't know JETT or OAHU from the clue. My only real glitch was PUsh before PUTT at 52A. That's two puzzles in a row that I've loved, and it's not even Friday yet. Jeff Chen can't nominate his own puzzle for POW, but maybe I can. Let's see what the rest of the week brings. But very clever and very different.

pmdm

Andrew Goodridge: Recently Sortz Fagliano and Amin had a live Q&A call-in session which the NYT streamed and posted on its website. I don't have the time to locate the link. If no one else posts a link here, you can either search yourself on the NY TIMES website or search the comments recently posted on this site. About a week ago someone posted a link to the session to the exact time Will was asked about this blog.

Actually, I just remembered I currently have the page open in Safari. Hee is the link.

Teedmn

Easy, yes, but this didn't translate into "fast" for me. Was it the usual Thursday caution of going slowly through the haunted house, waiting for the TRICK to jump out of the closet and say "boo"? Or was it MEERly that the theme answers couldn't be sussed from their clues?

ANYWAY, (I'm now repeating ANYWAY to myself, with and without an "s" and I can't decide if it is ANYWAY or ANYWAYs that naturally trips off my tongue. Is one of the two wrong?) I didn't get the theme until after I solved it and started re-reading the starred clues (and I was missing asterisks too, on my print-out) but I saw PET and wrote it in the margin, and then HOOD which I recognized as being in the grid and then the hammer dropped.

Thanks, Jeff Chen, for a puzzle done AVEC plaisir!

Z

Wit before WAG, Runs before RBIS, and hijAB before NIQAB. Otherwise easy. I got that phrases had the first word replaced with a number, but only got the relationship to the grid post-solve. I agree with Rex that beefing up the challenge a little bit, thus having to figure the relationship out to solve the puzzle, would have made the Aha moment Ahaier. My guess is that the thought was making the grid tougher may have made the puzzle too hard for people. Personally, I'd rather bitch about the puzzle being too hard than bitch about breezing through the puzzle. Tough editorial call, but I'd have erred the other direction.

@Anon12:31 - Go to the bottom of today's post and click on "Jeff Chen." This will bring up Rex Blogs on Chen's puzzle. Read a few (skip the co-constructed ones if you want) then get back to us on whether or not Rex is gentler on this "high-profile constructor" than others.

Andrew Goodridge - Shortz posted a "defense" of low-constructor pay which some anonymice found compelling. Shortz's defense was a variation on the "How dare you say we treat employees poorly - they make x times more than some time in the past" argument that you hear businesses use to defend low employee pay. Shortz didn't say much other than the pointing out that pay has gone from \$40 to \$300 (or \$360 for some) per puzzle and pat himself on the back for the increase. Rex didn't respond. Personally, I think talented constructors should look at being published in the NYT as a loss-leader and go independent. Oh, wait, that's exactly what they're doing.

Anonymous

Everyone knows what a tater is?

kozmikvoid

You forgot to mention that he also explained how the NYT pays more than any other daily crossword - independent or otherwise. It's easy to pay more if you're not pumping them out daily...

Stuart Showalter

Agree. Especially Rex ... who should "just enjoy the puzzle and stop [complaining] so much." But he has such a resentment toward the New York Times puzzle - and Will Shortz - that he can't restrain himself.

Stuart Showalter

Very clever and fun! Also, it's interesting that Rex didn't whine as much about this one as he usually does. His carping gets so tiresome!

Trixie

To all of you who continually complain and whine and criticize this blog: Stop reading it!! Find one that you like! Start your own if you are offended by this one!

Roo Monster

Hey All !
The middle West got me. Also didn't find it as easy as alot of you. INCLINE was my undoing. Initially had pooLcuE there, and couldn't see BAKERY. KRONA a WOE for me, yes, yes, I should know my Capitals. Also didn't grok the theme, had to have Rex point it out to me. It GOT ME good. Who could've figured that out, I said to myself. A bunch of y'all, apparently. Oh well.

Closed off N center. ITZA iza word? Had IncA first. Psalm forever, till nothing was working down there.

Will say that this is a great Construction feat. Only an X from a pangram, to boot. Dang Jeff, couldn't squeeze an X somewhere? :-)

ANYWAY, most of puz put up some decent resistance. Definitely wasn't Rex's eeeeeeeasy.

Describe puz as a TRICK RASSLE.
RooMonster
DarrinV

JC66

Maybe @Rex read @Laura Hoke's post yesterday, so he's being nice today.

Anyway, I hope it lasts.

AZPETE

Paper version has these in italics.

QuasiMojo

TMI, we don't need to know your "paean" was hard, Rex. :)

I enjoyed this clever concept although the experience of solving it was over too fast. I got the theme from "Thirty Rock" as I used to have a Pet Rock when I was in my "teens." My only bugaboo was initially filling in "eyes" instead of "RBIs" because I was thinking of potatoes. haha.

oldflappyfrommississappy

@Trixie, if you don't like our whining and complaining: stop reading it!!!

Nancy

@Teedmn (9:27) -- I was going to say that I thought ANYWAYS was sort of like ANYHOO -- an idiom, not a word. But my Webster's does include ANYWAYS as a word -- listed, however, as "archaic". (I guess it's not all that archaic, though, if you're still using it.) Maybe it depends on what part of the country you're from: I would never say ANYWAYS myself and I'm sure it's a usage I never hear from friends and acquaintances. But I'm also pretty sure I've heard it on TV and in the movies from time to time. So maybe it's big in MN?

GILL I.

I got it but I didn't. @VaBeach at least you got two asterisks - I didn't get any...!
Because the puzzle was a bit too easy for a Thursday, I was bound to discover the TRICKy dicky. I saw something sneaky when I saw WINKS and HOOD. Aha! PET ROCKS were such a rage and by gum I saw PET just a bit to the right of ROCK....another Aha...Fun.
Speaking of PET ROCKs. I actually got one from a very sweet man who had absolutely no imagination - a bit of a BORE - and very into GESTalt. He wrapped it up in a beautiful box with a beautiful ribbon and I actually thought he was going to give me a ring...! Wrongy Dongy. Such a WAG. We didn't last.
@Z....I think once upon a time, we had the Hijab/NIQAB/Burka discussion on this here blog. It made me look up the differences. The Hijab is a head scraf. My neighbor wears beautiful silk ones. And, she is beautiful. The NIQAB covers your head but leaves the eye area open so that you don't bump into anything prohibited. The Burka is a tent.
Really, really great puzzle Jeff Chen....This was the OAHU GUAVA of the week.
@Nancy...No DT'S yet!

Hungry Mother

Got the theme right away and enjoyed doing the puzzle. I figure more difficulty is on the way in the next two days, so I'll just take the win and feel good about it.

Chris

@RooMonster: wouldn't want you to "learn" the wrong thing from the puzzle. KRONA is capital as in currency, not as in city.

JFe

The Rex bashing is tiresome. So much anger. Find another blog...please.

Happy Pencil

Super clever and creative puzzle -- I'm only sad that it was over so fast! But even I can see that the constraints of the theme were brutal, so I'm willing to cut Jeff Chen a little slack. I figured out what was happening about halfway through and actually said "Aha!" out loud, which may be a first. Fun, fun, fun.

What's not fun are the increasingly tiresome complaints about Rex from people who most days cannot even seem to think of a single thing to say about the puzzle.

Anonymous

I received a pet rock from my favorite uncle at age 12. I thought it was the stupidest gift I have ever received as well as a good waste of money. Someone made a lot of money off of that! My brother used to go around the neighborhood trying to sell rocks without any success. I suppose he just didn't know how to market it correctly! I had a Natick at Zelda and Itza. I should have known Zelda since it is standard crosswordese. However, I looked up Itna and found out it was a Guatemalan tribe so I figured Nelda must be correct. DNF today.

Joseph Michael

ITZA fun puzzle, Jeff, with a clever theme and solid 16. Far from a 59.

Enjoyed the solve and the aha! of figuring out the theme after wondering how TEN PINS could possibly work on a bulletin board and finally getting 60 the 20.

With entries like JETT, NIQAB, ITZA, MEERKAT, PAEAN, and AIDAN, this didn't seem that easy to me, though it did all fall neatly into place thanks to the crosses.

68 64 is 64 for now.

Numinous

I haven't read all the comments yet and I have to go run errands but:

I found this double E easy in spite of the trick. Not sure if this has been mentioned but all of the numbered themers were also in the language one way or another as answers. I liked that.

@Teedmn, I believe that ANYWAY (singular) is derived from the more English form: ANY road as in, "ANY road, this will be the result." I don't know how ANYWAYs comes up but there are a lot of weird Americanisms. I absolutely hate seeing someone start a sentence with "whelp" instead of "well", Like in, "Whelp, here's what I think about that." WTF does that even mean? Why would someone address a young dog or person that way? Any road, that's my opinion.

Anonymous

Tribe, jFe, and Happy Pencil:

YES!

Joe Bleaux

An old-fashioned reader of newspapers, I can report that the print version included NO asterisks. The trick clues were in italics, which left me mystified after I solved the puzzle (which, by the way, I didn't find all that danged easy, mostly because of the PPPs). Consequently, the whole thing wasn't nearly as much fun as it could've been.

old timer

I got the trick only after I finished this Easy puzzle. I knew it had to be "push" PINS and discovered to my joy that the answer to the only square that started at TEN (down) was PUSH. Similarly the one and only answer that starts at THIRTY is PET, the only FORTY answer is HOOD and the only TWENTY answer is TRICK. A NEATO idea cleverly executed and with great fill to boot. Only difficulty might be NIQAB, crossing AIDAN.

You regulars know I am not always kind to OFL. But today, I do not see anything in his blog but praise. I don't think the fact the puzzle is Easy is meant as a criticism of Mr. Chen. Just an observation, which many of us thought also. Easy or hard it could only run on a Thursday. Let us hope that the new upbeat attitude persists.

My only regret is, this theme would also work well on a Sunday. I hope if Mr. Chen or another top constructor creates a Sunday puzzle along the same lines, WS will run it after a short delay.

@RP: Primo write-up. I was darn near in agreement with everything U said.

East-West symmetry! Best-est fave grid layout, as M&A can then try to guess what the grid art represents. A la Rorschach. Today, it kinda looks like one of them ITZA dudes wearin a NIQAB and signalin a touchdown.

Mucho points added on for the theme, also. Clever and different and well-executed. Got THIRTYROCK in a coupla handfuls of nanoseconds (yo, @jae), but knew the answer needed to be PETROCK or THIRTYSOMETHING. Started sniffin around square 30, and got the gimmick, before it GOTME.

Tough gimmick to pull off, because the grid layout has to land the right square numbers in the right places at the right times. I seem to remember a real old BQESitePuz that hadta do that sorta thing. [yep: 17 Dec 2010] The BEQSite puz is primo+ *today*, btw: epic great revealer. But, I digress.

@Anoa Bob: I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and predict that NIQAB is one of them "aloof" word ladder words. [In the 4-letter arena, my money is still on the ONYX/ORYX twins goin nowhere else.]
NIQAB was also "aloof" from my vocab, during the solvequest. Get right down to it, that south-central NIQAB-PAEAN BEN AIDAN-of-a-gun kept me from finishin in record time. (That, and pausin to admire each of them 5 darlin U's.) [sniffle, sob] -- I coulda ben a contender...

Cool start-up: JETT.
Desperate close-up: SSNS.
staff weeject pick: Any contiguous 3-letter string extracted from NIQAB.
fave snare-the-solver gigs: WIT or WAG. RUNS or RiBbIeS.

Thanx, Mr. Chen. Superb & fun (tho a niq too eazy-E) ThursPuz. thUmbsUp.

**gruntz**

Andrew Heinegg

I should really stop looking at the constructor's name before I solve a puzzle. It is nothing personal but, I have just never cared for Mr. Chen's puzzles. I think of it as you might in considering literature. Some authors are highly lauded by reviewers and readers alike but, they are just not to my taste.

My only minor slowdown here was the southwest with Niqab and Itza. Itza is to me the strongest entry of the day since it is a legitimate tribe of Guatemala. I didn't like Niqab since hijab is the only spelling I have ever seen. But spelling 'translations' from non-European languages to English can make for many different versions of the same word.

For all of you who get bent out of shape over the tone of Rex's reviews; My thought is that it is either a starting point for a discussion and or disagreement or you can ignore it if it bothers you as some regular bloggers do.

I always like to read what he thinks if, for no other reason, than to check if I correctly anticipated his reaction. I am wrong as often as I am right. So, there is some fun there.

But,this is his blog and lovers, haters and in-betweeners can come or go as they please. If you like to come here and don't like Rex's reviews, don't read them! But, don't read them and opine that he must be a terrible person to have reviewed the puzzle that way. Tell us why you disagree with his review that day as many of the bloggers do. It makes for far more interesting reading than the personal attack.

Thanks!

Chip Hilton

I'm willing to tolerate Rex Rants, but don't like it when he attacks something merely because he struggles with it. Just because a clue and answer aren't in his wheelhouse doesn't mean they are automatically sub-standard.

Like Rex and many others, I flew through this without figuring out the meaning of the big numbers. Pretty cool, nicely symmetric, and beautifully clued. I loved it.

Carola

This was a two-part puzzle for me: 1) complete the grid; 2) try to figure out the theme - and that took a while. Eventually I remembered there was a PET clue, and I saw how it all worked. I'd wondered about [HOOD]WINKS, but my engine cover at that point was a cOpe, so I couldn't make the connection. Lovely construction; nicely puzzling theme.

@Glimmerglass - Chichen helped me with ITZA; the clue made me uncertain about where it actually is. But then, I entered Ohio for 22A!

A Listener

@Nancy et al
On the old TV series "NYPD Blue" (now in reruns on Audience) someone said "Anyways" about 20 times per episode for 11 years.

Anonymous

Andrew Heinegg said...

"I didn't like Niqab since hijab is the only spelling I have ever seen. But spelling 'translations' from non-European languages to English can make for many different versions of the same word."

Andrew: It has nothing to do with 'spelling translations.' They are two entirely different garments. This link should help if you have any questions about different Muslim garb.

Big Steve 46

I assume that the constructor has no control over on which day the puzzle is placed. Hence if this is too easy for a Thursday (on which I agree)that would be the fault of Will Shortz, not the constructor. As the insurance salesman repeatedly says to Bill Murray in "Groundhog's Day," ... am I right or am I right?

Cassieopia

Apparently a home run in baseball...

Noam D. Elkies

Good and fun puzzle. Certainly not too easy here. Rex has ranked in the top 50 at the ACPT for several years; therefore what gives Rex no resistance can still be nontrivial for most of the puzzle's intended audience.

Besides the other fun stuff, note the matching clues 7D: "____ plaisir!" and 23D: "___ be my pleasure!"

NDE

Anoa Bob

Do they accept KRONA in AKRON? Perhaps from Alan ARKIN?

Having visited the stunning ruins at Tikal in Guatemala, I confidently dropped in MAYA at 53D. That ITZA/ZELDA crossing & the nearby AIDAN/NIQAB/PAEAN glop would argue against an earlier week position for this puzzle methinks.

There are a few entries that are in the POC Hall of Fame (Shame?). These SuperPOCs are not only plurals of convenience themselves, they also enable multiple other POCs. They are usually found in a bottom row or right-most column of a grid section. One of these SuperPOCs, SSNS, shows up today at 61D. Another seen occasionally is SSTS, the bygone fliers. I think SASSES would be tops in that department.

TomAz

I was annoyed that this was so hard. Then I realized it wasn't Tuesday after all.

Nancy

@A Listener (1:51)-- That's pretty interesting, actually. Could be I didn't know because I've never seen a single episode. But, still, in a show that's about NYC, it comes as an eye-opener for me.

Anonymous

NDE is Rex. No one else could be so fawning.

Noam D. Elkies

That's a new one on me. No, I'm not Rex, as either he or I could very by e-mail . . .

Anonymous

Are you seriously arguing this with an anonymous poster ? Could you be any more dense ? He is a troll. Sheesh.

Phil Schifley

I'm with Cannibal Rex - when you complete the puzzle without any clue of what the theme is, and then have to look on a website to figure out what's going on, it's not a great puzzle. Finding out in hindsight what was not evident at the time, and in no way makes the puzzle any more or less solvable, is just clutter.

Andrew Heinegg

Thank you for that information.

Roo Monster

@Chris 10:58
Normally I figure out the Capital vs. Capital tbing. Course, still don't know Capital City of Sweden. :-)

RooMonster

Norm

Excellent response @Lewis!

Andrew Heinegg
This comment has been removed by the author.
Numinous

You're probably gonna feel stupid, @Roo, but I had to look it up too. Stockholm is the capital of Kronerland.

And to prove how evil I can be, I've had this earworm for 24 hours:

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,
That's my name too.
Whenever we go out,
The people always shout,
John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,
Da da, da da, da da daa.
John Jacob Jingleheim . . .

Z

Tater (@Cassieopia answered this but without being clear on the reference) is one of about a bazillion slang terms for a home run in baseball. If the bases are loaded the hitter would get four RBIS, RunS Batted In.

@Anonymous1:56 - Great explainer link. Thanks.

@Gill I - Yep about the discussion, not that it ever helps me. My first response is always hijab. My sense is that hijab can have a more generic connotation to it. I could be wrong, though.

@kozmikvoid - I count six subscription based indies on Rex's sidebar. I'm sure they all earn far far less than \$360/puzzle. And Oh! Look! BEQ and Francis Heaney have their own book out and the NYT doesn't own the rights. How can BEQ afford to just give away two puzzles a week like that? Yeah, the NYT shouldn't worry about some other medium coming along and taking away market share. Nothing like that has ever happened. Everything is fine and they can just keep on doling out hundreds while making millions.

Anonymous

It's a great country. People are free to submit their puzzles to whomever they want. Corporations are free to charge a market rate. Constructors are free to not submit their puzzles to greedy corporations. Bloggers are free to whine about the low pay corporations pay puzzle constructors.. Blog commenters are free to note that.

Patricia Markert

Agree!
Also how can this be so easy when it doesn't make any sense that is that the theme required you to link one number to another which I found very haaaard

Patricia Markert

Oh so that was why it was so hard for me who refuses to pay extra for the puzzle online when I am already paying plenty for the print news!

Punctuated equilibrium

Did the puzzle without ever figuring out the theme or the reason for weird numbers/phrases. ITZA was new to me, had HIJAB/NIQAB issues. But otherwise it was a fun puzzle.

Girlish Gaybob

Hoping to hit a tater up GWood's sweetcheeks arse later tonite!!!

Larry Gilstrap

Tonight leaves no time to read the comments, and I always at least scan them. The lapse today involves communication equipment set atop a 9,000 ft. mountain, but we're up and running. Clever theme, clean puzzle, 'nuff said.

I did cop an attitude when I slammed into that A_DAN/N_QAB crossing. My very mild version of rage quit, Dammit!

My usual nit: A bases loaded tater would result in 4 Runs Batted In. I listen to baseball news, and pretty much never hear RBIS, but regularly hear the singular form. I know, it used to be a thing.

Harry Keates

I know it has appeared in other crosswords, but Joan Jett is not the godmother of punk, Patti Smith is the godmother of punk.

johnnymcguirk

There's no godmother of punk the phrase is idiotic, kinda like having a Rock n Roll Hall of Fame... irony alert

Z

@Harry Keates - I think you are correct. A quick online search shows Patti Smith getting the most hits, some sites using the title for Nina Hagen, and even a few for Esther "Madame" Wong. Joan JETT does appear, but only on sites related to crossword clues. I'd say this a fine example of the dangers of Wikipedia. Joan Jett is listed as "Godmother of Punk" there with exactly one Scottish supporting reference, a reference where Jett is giving advice on fame to Kristen Stewart. I love Wikipedia, but you have to be a critical reader just like you would with any encyclopedia.

Dolgo

Me, too!!

evil doug

" I love Wikipedia, but you have to be a critical reader just like you would with any encyclopedia."

Or, Z, with the New York Times....

Burma Shave

BEN ASTER TWENTYQUESTIONS

ANYWAY, I watch RERUNS of THIRTYROCK
ANDSO INCLINEd get FORTYWINKS in,
but ITZA TRICK if ZELDA PETs my jock –
her non-IDLEHANDS have GOTME thinkin’.

--- AIDAN ARKIN

Diana,LIW

"Solved" fairly easily for a Thursday, but didn't get all of the theme until I read @Rex. The version @Teedmn sent me had only two stars, and when I checked my online (Syndie) paper version, the number clues were italicized (correctly) - but that was after reading Rex. So it seems the puzzle was puzzled by its own directions.

That aside, the "number" answers certainly stood out on their own. I just figured I had never heard of TENPINS being used on a bulletin board. "Pulls a fast one" I suppose could lead to some kind of WINKing fit of FORTY. Like laughing way too long at your own joke?

I found similar ways to justify the others. You can come up with your own.

centralscrewtinizer

Thought THIRTYROCK could be a radio station, thought FORTYWINKS could be a fast one as in nap, but wondered about the 'on', and wondered if there was a weird form of TWENTYQUESTIONS. Never considered TENPINS as a weird answer because things can get weird in a puzzle, especially on a Thursday, where I am just happy to finish.
ITZA miracle.
Only real trouble was having to change to ANYWAY from 'asIsay' along with 'hash' to HEWN.
Always though MEERKAT was northern Africa until now.

spacecraft

TEN, TWENTY, THIRTY, FORTY, fifty or more
The bloody red baron was runnin' up the score.
Eighty men died tryin' to end the spree
Of the bloody red baron from Germany!

Yeah. Actually filling in the grid was too easy for Thursday, but I was left scratching my head about the theme clues. The TRICK never occurred till I read the lead blog. So, did I "F" or DNF? Hey, in MY scorebook, it's a done deal. Purists may disagree.

AS OFL said, very clean fill; NIQAB and ITZA extreme but crossable. Some little-known fun facts thrown in to the clue set--though who cares where King James or J. Edgar was born? But most of it ran so fast that I stupidly wrote RunS for RBIS before checking the downs. Oh, and while we're on baseball, Jeff gets a leadoff hit with DOD Joan JETT. Only disappointment: super-crutch SSNS. However, for what the Chenster was able to accomplish here, that gets a pass. Birdie.

5wksltr

First puzzle in thirty years of solving I actually hated. Four letter this and four letter that. I think Joan Jett as the Godmother of Punk put it over the top.

leftcoastTAM

The theme of this Jeff Chen offering could have been "From Too Easy to Too Tricky For its Own Good--Or Mine".

Started out thinking it was maybe a misplaced Monday puzzle, and ending totally perplexed by whatever theme it had. Certainly TEN, TWENTY, etc., wasn't it. Had to come here to find out.

Some tough non-themers as well: NIQAB of course, but what GOTME was Sweden's capital, KRONA.

Botched it at its cross with AiRID giving me KiONA. As an ex-Minnesotan, I should have known better, though I have no Swedish ancestry if that's an excuse.

So sue me, rondo.

Longbeachlee

@Bill Feeny, you are not the only one.

rondo

I did see PET in there after THIRTYROCK had already shown and thought hmmm, that’s odd. Solved the rest like a themeless and revisited the PET thing and at last, the aha moment. Thursday. Quite clever. Clever except for me, putting in Wit for WAG and RunS for RBIS before corrections. Almost went for Scott instead of ZELDA.

And what about ZELDA Gilroy? Sat next to Dobie because – alphabet.

I really liked Alan ARKIN as Yosarian in The Russians are Coming. Funny Cold War flick.

Spent one night in AKRON. That was plenty.

Can’t go wrong with rockin’ yeah baby Joan JETT.

ANDSO, back to working OT. No IDLEHANDS here.

rondo

I won't sue anyone over KRONA, though I do possess a few KRONor (pl.)

leftcoastTAM

@spacecraft:
I like your poetry--assuming it's yours. If it isn't, I still like your posting it.

BTW, if I fill in the squares correctly but don't get the theme, even if it's a tough one like this, it's a DNF. Still, it qualifies for a consolation prize.

Yes, I'm something of a purist about such things.

spacecraft

@lefty: can't take credit. Those are lyrics from a 1966 (!) hit by The Royal Guardsmen. You were born too late, but thanks for the like. :)

Anonymous

My newspaper publishes five weeks late (typical for syndication) but always omits the titles and in this case there were no asterisks. Definitely made it harder. I'm thinking of ditching the paper and subscribing to the online version, except it's ripoff expensive.

wcutler

I was amazed to find this was supposed to be easy. I did not finish, and and all but 3 or 4 wrong in the SW (and a few more wrong elsewhere). My paper only had italics for the TWENTY QUESTIONS clue, so I thought there was something about that that should apply to other things, but I didn't actually have that filled in and was reluctant to consider it the right answer because I couldn't make any sense of it. For Back to my point, I had "ASIWAS", thinking "saying" was missing, maybe that has something to do with the gimmick. For what might get the ball rolling, I had ENGLISH (you know, you apply English to a pool shot), which didn't help any getting THIRTYROCK, but I thought it was a clever clue. I just now realized the 10, 20, 30 and 40 - not just any old numbers. I'll bet this was a fun puzzle.

ramroot

Ok, I'm one of the 6 wk. later folks, but I still don't get the 47D answer. How does "clear the dishes" end up as ean? Maybe I'm pretty dense, just leaving the cl off clean? I was wary to fill in answers for this puzzle, fearing a big trick with the asymmetric grid and Thursday, didn't get the theme til I came here.

Z

@ramroot - The answer for 47D is EAT, when you EAT you clear the food off the dishes.

ramroot