Lyra's brightest star / THU 2-2-17 / Its sound in old westerns was often simulated by coconut / Language in which hello is annyeonghaseyo / British crown colony from 1937 to 1963

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: direction switching — themers are phrases describing a forward or backward direction, and subsequent Acrosses switch accordingly, until next themer reverses them again...

Theme answers:
  • 20A: How a book in Hebrew is read [watch out now!] (BACK TO FRONT) [Acrosses switch direction]
  • 33A: Wagon train cry [you can relax ...] (FORWARD, HO!) [Acrosses switch back to normal]
  • 39A: Ready to leave the garage [here we go again!] (IN REVERSE) [Acrosses switch direction again]
  • 50A: How people are usually listed in photo captions [phew, all done!] [Acrosses back to normal]
Word of the Day: VEGA (16A: Lyra's brightest star) —
Vega, also designated Alpha Lyrae (α Lyrae, abbreviated Alpha Lyr, α Lyr), is the brightest star in the constellation of Lyra, the fifth-brightest star in the night sky and the second-brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere, after Arcturus. It is relatively close at only 25 light-years from the Sun, and, together with Arcturus and Sirius, one of the most luminous stars in the Sun's neighborhood. (wikipedia)
• • •

I have done puzzles where the Across answers go in reverse. I have done puzzles where you toggle from forward to reverse and then back again. Those puzzles had ... concepts. Reasons. This one ... doesn't. There is no concept. Further, the cluing, with its weird, post-clue bracketed comments, makes the ridiculous assumption that I solve in order, top to bottom, left to right. This is to say, those bracketed comments meant nothing to me while I was solving. Once I figured out some of the answers went backwards, that became my operation assumption: some of these answers go backwards. Rhyme, reason? Who knows, who cares, just solve. And solve I did, and it was pretty easy. What is being illustrated or demonstrated here? I guess if you've never seen a puzzle do this before, maybe it seemed neat. But it seemed pointless to me. I didn't hate the puzzle—it seems solid enough. But there's no core concept holding this thing together, which, on a Thursday, is disappointing.

Not much to say here. Fill is straightforward and familiar, none of the clues gave me much trouble or seemed particularly tricky. I would like to thank RENEE Zellweger and GERI Halliwell for teaming up to help me figure out the theme. They were both gimmes. Their names wouldn't work. Since I'd already seen the "Hebrew" themer, my first instinct was to turn RENEE around, and there we were. Done. I had DOLT for TWIT (52D: Blockhead). Don't recall any other problems that weren't part of the initial, short-lived "what's going on?" theme confusion. RECORD DEAL is a cool answer (10D: Aspiring band's goal). Nice dig at the president at 19A: Grp. that promised Trump "We'll see you in court" (ACLU), but with fatally botched raids in Yemen, and threats to invade Mexico, and angry toddler-like phone calls to our closest allies like Australia, and a combination of incompetence and narcissism the likes of which the planet has never seen, and a staggering ignorance of / contempt for history on full display just in time for (shocker) Black History Month ... I don't know if "seeing him in court" is going to be enough, or if there will even be courts (to speak of) in our near future. Things are very, very bad. Gonna go read some Frederick Douglass now. I hear he's doing a great job. . .

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Happy Groundhog Day, and happy birthday to my dad.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:22 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 6:23 AM  

I dunno, Rex – I like that if you take each entry starting with 1A and go left to right, top to bottom the way we read a page, each themer shows you when to reverse course. I thought it was pretty elegant,

And what a poser this was for a while. First glance at the grid, and I thought it’d be a straightforward theme with a pinwheel arrangement. Nope.

So later when I thought I had it, I saw that actually I didn’t have it. RIGHT TO LEFT was my first revealed reveal, and I just couldn’t figure out why some of the acrosses didn’t obey this. How cool to finally get all the reveals and, well, follow their directions. Ahem.

I smelled a rat right out of the gate when “KOREAN”/ IGLOO wouldn’t work. I kept trying to think of some other poacher language that may have hijacked that greeting.

Of course I had “stock” before STAKE. And "right to left" before BACK TO FRONT.

MUCOUS was a surprise. I sniffed around google for like two seconds, and it seems that U adjectifies it. Who knew? Mucus/mucous – maybe it’s right, maybe itsnot.

Loved the clue for TOES. Hey, @LEWIS, you yoga stretcher, you.

Hey, Alex – I really, really enjoyed the multi-step aha moment. It was fun to be pushed and pulled all the way through. It kinda felt like this. How satisfying to finish it and feel Thursday smart.

BarbieBarbie 6:26 AM  

This was THE BEST. @Rex, you didn'tneed those dumb square-bracketed hints. The directional instructions were already in the puzzle. Right-to-left, then forward ho, etcetera. Doesn't matter whether you solve in order. I loved this!

Anonymous 6:29 AM  

I really don't like 20A. Hebrew isn't read BACKTOFRONT - it is read front to back, it just has a different "front"! This should have been right-to-left.

BarbieBarbie 6:31 AM  

Yes, oops, it was back-to-front.
I'm trying to remember the podcast that had the reenactment of Douglass' speech to the Northern do-gooder social group. It was such an amazing speech. Was it BackStory...?

RAD2626 6:36 AM  

Thought this was clever and very well executed and a wonderful debut. Congratulations. Enjoyed it thoroughly.

Did not know ROWAN and do not think of a blockhead as a TWIT, so that took the crosses. Also wrote in LouIS for the boxer. DOuSE looked good but FERN straightened me out. Otherwise no really hard spots.

Sam B 6:38 AM  

One of the most fun Thursdays I've had in ages. Rex is manifestly like one of those theater reviewers for whom all the joy has long since gone out of the job and all that remains is to moan and nitpick. I love coming here for the diversity and brilliance of the commentariat— but god it's such a relief when there's a substitute blogger to hang it on!

I got this early too, solved much faster than my average notwithstanding the tricky structure. Love how the constructor wasn't afraid to put a sneaky clue on a backwards word (e.g. 48A) I had also never thought of reading a crossword puzzle in order of acrosses from 1- to 65- but it charmed me to be invited to do so!

puzzle hoarder 6:46 AM  

Once again we get a jaded sour grapes review for a perfectly good and rather entertaining puzzle. I know things are bad but don't let it rain on the puzzle parade.
Started this one with COATI BACKTOFRONT and the reversed FUSE followed shortly. I knew there was a flip flopping theme but I didn't fully get until I was finished. This was a great debut and I really appreciated the lack of dreck.

js 6:50 AM  

Hebrew is read right to left, NOT back to front. How do you read anything back to front????

Lewis 6:51 AM  

@loren: "... maybe itsnot" -- good one!

Very nice to be the puzzle's centerpiece!

This would have been harder than usual for the constructor to create, if he's used to using word lists, as he'd be on his own for half the puzzle, relying on his own wits.

The puzzle didn't need the bracketed reactions. It wold have worked fine without them. A couple of the non-backward answers could have been backward answers (STEP, STEM). The puzzle has a STEP up, but not a STIR up. And there was that disturbing cross of STAB and BACK-TO-FRONT.

Overall, I, who am often directionally challenged, enjoyed being directionally challenged. Nice one!

smalltowndoc 6:51 AM  

@rex: Have to disagree with you on this one. Very clever theme that makes perfect sense as you read the grid from top to bottom.
Biggest complaint: Hebrew is not read back to front. One person's "back" is another's "front".

Lewis 6:59 AM  

Now having read the constructor's notes on Xword Info, I see that Alex very cleverly did use a word list. Very cleverly. And so, in another way, he did use his wits after all!

Anonymous 7:12 AM  

Now it's just plain fun watching Michael's TDS eat him alive.

Unknown 7:15 AM  

Save the political comments unless
of course you work for the NYT in which case would be expected

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

I found the bracketed comments brought a bit of fun to the puzzle.

Rex you really are getting quite grumpy! I've been going back through the NYT puzzle archive. The puzzle quality really hasn't changed yet the tone and tenor of this blog really has trended toward negative.

kitshef 7:26 AM  

Easy for a Thursday, but so brilliant!

I'm forced to conclude @Rex didn't get the theme, as for once the reason for the backwards words IS clear where normally it seems arbitrary.

Entry was VEGA, followed by the four downs which cross it. That left me looking at OOL, so immediately knew something involving backwards answers was afoot. Then stupidly put in leftTOright for how Hebrew is read, but crosses weren't working so backTOfront was not far behind.

We have had two of the stars in the summer triangle this week ... think we'll get DENEB tomorrow?

RooMonster 7:28 AM  

Hey All !
Haven't done puz yet, but wanted to say...
Happy Groundhog Day!
Punxsutawney Phil officially saw his shadow. Six more weeks of winter.
I'm originally from PA and actually went to the Big Day :-) on Feb. 2, 2002.

Now to the puz!


evil doug 7:29 AM  

Whenever we flew cross-country in the C-130, a computer coughed up a random two-syllable word for our call sign. When I was "Mucus 34", the air traffic controllers' amusement made it hard to remember we were steely-eyed deliverers of death from on high. I was also "Zygote 26" one time....

Glimmerglass 7:29 AM  

@Rex, you twit, it doesn't matter how you solve the puzzle. The reversal gimmick applies to the order of the across clues, 1 to 65.

Anonymous 7:33 AM  


Anonymous 7:35 AM  

But hey! At least his pick for SCOTUS is spot on!

Dorothy Biggs 7:41 AM  

I liked the puzzle, but then I was one of those who hasn't seen this kind too often. For a Thursday it was fine. The bracketed comments were just part of the overall gimmick to me since the clues themselves implied a linear solve.

For me the downs were super easy which made the misdirection in the accrosses very easy to discover and solve.

Nothing stood out to me to be more difficult than usual. Once I got the theme, it was all downhill.

Charles Flaster 7:42 AM  

What a great "tubed". Caught theme at OOL with ON OFF a nice addition.
Last night there was a question on Jeopardy concerning the reading of Hebrew from right to left.
Creative cluing for ERIC, CAKE, and TOES.
The reasonable down clues made this an easy one to complete but still very enjoyable.
Went to school with a friend nicknamed SPIV.
Thanks AES- hope there are more.

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

Backtofront is just wrong! Offensive and uneducated. Apology from mr will Shortz and constructor, b'vakasha.

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

Are we all tired of talking about politics now because you're finally realizing that don john is an idiot? Yeah, he got elected and we all need to get over that fact, can't argue with reality. But you can certainly argue with what he has done in not even two weeks. Nominating a high school prep school fascist for the Supreme Court in any other era would be cause for immediate censure and impeachment talk. Now, nothing. Just another day at the office.

Political commentary is here to stay so long as this yahoo is in office. Get over it.

seanm 7:54 AM  

really nice puzzle i though, if on the easy side. geri/renee gave it away for me very early, but still had to work a bit. impressive debut puzzle

Lobster11 8:04 AM  

Sometimes I agree with Rex and sometimes I don't, but I can't remember ever having disagreed with him quite as much as I do today -- which is to say, as much as two people can possibly disagree. If this puzzle "doesn't have a core concept holding it together," I must have a very mistaken concept of what a concept is. I thought it was damn clever and big fun to figure out. Just the kind of shenanigans I look forward to on a Thursday.

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

TDS is seriously crippling his ability to function clearly.

Trombone Tom 8:11 AM  

I thought this was an undeservedly negative review of a neat first-time effort by Alex Eaton-Salners. (BTW I do not come to this blog for anyone's political views.) I gather that the parenthetical additions to the theme clues were from Mr. Shortz. In my opinion they weren't needed.

Definitely on the easy side for Thursday. Once you got the theme answers, which weren't hard to ferret out, it was clear sailing.

The "divine water" clue sent me on a wild goose chase to the baptismal font.

The only misstep was STock before STAKE.

I look forward to more from Alex.

Passing Shot 8:13 AM  

Enjoyed this one, but I never undesrtood which answers were supposed to be backwards until I saw Rex's write-up. As he said, if you don't solve in irder the bracketed hints are meaningless. Super easy for a Thursday but fun.

chefbea 8:15 AM  

Caught on to the theme right away but did not know when to switch the letters....too tough for me. DNF

Dorothy Biggs 8:16 AM  

Today I learned what IBTL and TDS means, so early in the day too.

Dolgo 8:21 AM  

I agree the concept was kind of a mess, but it was surprisingly fun to do!

r.alphbunker 8:21 AM  
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Anonymous 8:22 AM  

I'm so mad I'm going to go home and bite my pillow!

RooMonster 8:25 AM  

Add me to the Neat Puz group. Got it at OOL/CAULK cross, and knowing GERI/RENEE(EENER) cross and wondering why it wouldn't go. Said to myself, "Self, methinks there are backwards answers in here." Then got thrown off by straight answers in the middle. That was before getting some of the themers. Figured out the two middle themers, and then everything became clear. Actually found puz to be easy.

Writeovers inclue reversing lOo-OOL, rENEe-EENER, and also here-TAXI (you know, roll call), urge-GOAD.

Very nice, Alex. Couldn't have been easy to construct. And end up with no dreck. No TWIT, he.


Trombone Tom 8:25 AM  

Ah, yes, TDS; Word of the Day!

GHarris 8:32 AM  

Once I got the gimmick solving became fun and finishing a total blast. Rex just seems too jaded in his assessment. However, I'm completely in his corner when it comes to bemoaning the current state of our affairs.

Suzy 8:33 AM  

Thank you, Alex, for a very fun debut puzzle! Ignore Rex-- sometimes he's just plain wrong!!
Happy Groundhog Day to all!

Mattie 8:39 AM  

Wasn't too excited by this puzzle, but it was easy enough for Thursday. As to the political commentary, it's your blog, write whatever you want. Dissenters can choose to not read.

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

Just plain wrong is being kind. The dude's unhinged.

Hartley70 8:46 AM  

I was scratching my head until I came to the GERI/RENEE cross and I had the trick. Previously I had been on a rebus search and I was set on a GR rebus for grOAN, not MOAN. I thought this was a terrific tricky Thursday. "Divine water" was my favorite clue. "Idle laughter source" whizzed right over my head until the last moment. Nicely done debut!

Eric 8:47 AM  

Although Hebrew is certainly read from right to left is it so inexcusable for non-Hebrews to think that starting on the rightmost page of a book would be the back page to us.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Gotta agree with most of the commenters. Fun puzzle, good concept, cute bracketed comments. I don't like Trump either but let the puzzles brighten your day! This was solid.

Moly Shu 8:52 AM  

I liked this one also. Found it a tad easy once the reversing points came in to view. I particularly liked RECORDDEAL and ESUF.
Also glad to see @Rex in peak Chicken Little form.
Maybe a missed opportunity for a CAKE video.

Amie Devero 8:54 AM  
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Amie Devero 8:57 AM  

Have to say I agreed with Rex' assessment. Brackets were irrelevant, and I too simply tried backwards for unusually ill-fitting crosses without regard to the start/stop motif.
Btw...from the perspective of English speakers, Hebrew books ARE read back to front.

chet 8:57 AM  

Rex spent about as much time complaining about Trump as he did complaining about the puzzle. Does anyone know if he's this miserable in real life? I rarely visit this blog anymore because all he seems to do is moan.

Tita 8:58 AM  

Rex...puzzle clues are numbered. Often in ascending order.

Loved this gimmick. Though I need to blame my sister for a coincidental major spoiler that predisposed me to instantly knowing that 39A was INREVERSE. I had suspected something at 20A, but was totally expecting it to be filled in backwards, so I left it open, since that wasn't working with the downs.

Guys...even if you don't solve in strict numerical order, the clues are. They couldn't be more straightforward as the indicators of what to do when, regardless of the solve order you have chosen.

@kitshef...yes...the Summer Triangle...nice catch. Hope you're right. your avatar a square dance number? I feel there's more to it then I am clever enough to grok. Oh I get it...this puzzle is a square dance, and Mr. Eaton-Salners is the barker. Or whatever you call the guy that shouts out what the dancers ought to do!!!!
Is that it?

Thanks. Mr. E-S...a very clever and memorable Thursday .

Unknown 8:59 AM  

Rex's review was off by a week - opposite Day was last week. I found the solve enjoyable and the concept held up well.

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

On the bright side, we had a pro-Trump troll before and now we have anti-Trump one. Freedom of speech is alive and well!

Z 9:02 AM  

Okay... What exactly is that core concept? An algorithm is not a concept and all we have here is an algorithm. Here's one with a unifying theme. And, honestly, "[watch out now]" just SCREAMS what is coming. I had the --UF of FUSE and immediately knew what was going on. I briefly had gIr for RIG, but GERI fixed that. A pleasant enough solve, but demerits for lacking a theme and parenthetically insulting my intelligence.

Hand up for agreeing with those pointing out the ethnocentric wrongness of the 20A clue. Embarrassed by how long it took me to suss out ERIC from the Idle clue. @Leapy - Hey, I didn't bring up religion.

BEN SIRA 9:15 AM  

@All BACKTOFRONT is wrong - have you ever read a Hebrew book?, do you even know someone who's read a Hebrew book? All useless exposition up front, characters' back story, blah blah blah. The end of the book - hot steamy sex. One quickly learns to read the back, then read the front only if you want to know why Saul insisted on being on the bottom.

Bob C 9:16 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Grasped (part of) the gimmick on about the fourth word, having started in NE and "annyeong..." being a gimmee for anyone who watched Arrested Development. Did then want "LEFTTORIGHT" in 20-A but crosses ruled that out quickly.

QuasiMojo 9:21 AM  

Apparently I don't know how to spell "dowse." All these years, I've spelt it "douse." Haha. So I had a big fat DNF in the center of this thing. I had Leuis, thinking it was some variation of "Louis" since people in the public eye seem to like altering the spelling of their names, and some are given odd variations at their birth.

I also got hung up at Eric Idle since I've never seen that show. Never heard of Mia whatever and most of the other PPP in this puzzle. "Igloo" is a drink? But that did not diminish my resolve to finish it. "Ingredient" was a major yawn, however, and very few labels only have one ingredient.

No one is going to read this anyway so I will just hush up for now. Happy Ground Hog's Day to all of you, including both Evil Dougs. Let's hope it's an early spring so we can get our covered wagons out on the open prairie and head out toward the dying sun. Ho!

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

I get my "news" from HuffPo.

jberg 9:21 AM  

I think the brackets are the problem. They just scream out that something is changing. Leave them out and this would have been more challenging.

On the other hand, they're fun! So I didn't mind the help. I got the backwards thing with the first themer, and then FUSE, but it took me longer to notice the other changes.

@Loren, nice subtle job of bragging about how you know Korean!

My only small complaint is that a STEM is not really part of a flower, botanically speaking. Close enough for CW, though.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

@chet: AYFKM? If you care at all about your country, your children, or your earth, you'd find yourself in a world that is on a collision course with all manner of awful.

If this were the halcyon days of American government and all we could complain about was gridlock, maybe your point would be well made. But we live in a new era. An era where a HS fascist can get nominated for SCOTUS. An era when a "president" can berate an ally over the phone. An era where a "president" can threaten Mexico with military intervention if their military can control those "bad hombres."

I'm not sure what world you live in, but seeing any progress in our civilization crumble before our very eyes kinda makes one grumpy. So in the words of most Don John trolls, "get over it, snowflake." And by "snowflake" I don't mean that you're not a special unique winner just because you're you, I mean you're just a unique kind of idiot.

Tita 9:30 AM  

I'm hoping my cruciverbophile friends here can help me out. My sister and I are each looking for an old NYT puzzle. I've googled and googled and came up either empty-handed or with the wrong puzzle.
Any help you can give me on databases that aren't exposed to google indexing that I need to search directly, that include really old (Maleska or Weng era) puzzles?

******Spoiler alert...if you're working your way through old puzzles, skip to next post, as I'm revealing the clues and answers...

First...a Sunday puzzle, probably prior to had clues you had to visualize...
One clue was: "racehttup"

(My sister asked me to find this for her just a few days ago...that's what I meant by she inadvertently gave me a big spoiler for today's puzzle...)

Another clue... This one's a toughie...hard to type out on an iPad. Here's an approximation...
In print, those less than signs were checkmarks, with a large space between them.

Next puzzle...
Was an April Fool's Day puzzle from many years back.
Its trick was that it broke all the puzzle having a different form of the answer in the clue, and a two-letter word, and the same answer twice in the grid...

For the latter, I could go brute force through all the April 1s in the archive, I guess... (This one was pretty surely a Shortz puzzle.)

Any ideas?
My sister thanks you, and I thank you.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Is Rex every happy? Such an annoying curmudgeon.

GILL I. 9:37 AM  

I'd like to thank GERI and EENER for turning on the light bulb. My biggest hangup, and thinking there was something more to this clever puzzle, was the FORWARD HO answer. I know WestWARD and onWARD but the FOR took a while.
Like @Distancia, (love your moniker) I thought the super easy downs made for a speedy solve. I do agree, though, that the bracketed inserts weren't necessary. In fact, they were a bit corny. BEQ is, in my opinion, the king of bracketed comments; they are funny as hell and usually involve an expletive...!
I like SPIKY CAKE TOES Alex Eaton-Salners and I like your name and I enjoyed this fine Thursday puzzle. May we have some more?

Happy Pencil 9:41 AM  

@jberg, I completely agree. The brackets made the puzzle much too easy. I get that they're trying to be cute, but I think they come off as patronizing. They should have just let the clues stand and allowed us to puzzle it out. As it was, I finished in near record time.

@Quasimojo, "douse" means to pour water on something or to extinguish a flame. If you've been using it that way, you're spelling it right. This DOWSE is what you're doing when you look for water with a divining rod. Probably doesn't come up all that often in casual conversation.

I thought the puzzle was fun overall, and I don't think you should criticize a puzzle because your personal solving method (which I don't believe is most people's method) made the gimmick hard to grasp. But I sympathize with being in a bad-tempered funk these days.

Stanley Hudson 9:41 AM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle. Great debut AES!

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Biotech companies scrambling for a cure for TDS. Or at least to keep it under control. "If you suffer from TDS, ask your doctor about . . . "

wgh 9:45 AM  

Clever and enjoyable.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

All things REX

Rex has a short one FUSE
Rex does this constantly MOAN
Rex's hero ACLU
Rex steps on these of his half of his readers TOES
AND...A political swing we'll never see from Rex LEFTTORIGHT

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

Problem is, the gimmick can be avoided by solving with downs only.

Greg 9:51 AM  

The order in which you solve is completely irrelevant to the fact that English is written and read left to right, top to bottom. The puzzle in no way made a "ridiculous assumption" that you solved in that order, it made a perfectly reasonable assumption that you grasped the most basic concept of literacy in the language in which the puzzle was published.

Anyhow, I loved it.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Like Trump, Frederick Douglass was a Republican. As to this "a combination of incompetence and narcissism the likes of which the planet has never seen, and a staggering ignorance of / contempt for history" I thought you were talking about Obama.

Rational 9:54 AM  

Please skip the political commentary. I do the puzzle to get away from real wold stuff. If I come here and find political commentary, I just won't bother to do so any more.

Joaquin 9:54 AM  

I hate Trump. But the crossword is one way I can escape the terror of Trump for a few minutes each day. This is not the place for political commentary.

Cassieopia 9:55 AM  

Big thumbs up from me, I found this cute, fun, and very very easy. The downs were super fast, and it was the SE corner's downs that gave me LEFTTORIGHT and the lightbulb went on - so THAT'S why ICE doesn't fit at 49A! So my aha moment was an ICEbreaker.

Then I thought, only the ones on the same line were backward, but then as I sussed out the other themers, I saw that the entire crosses would switch. LOVED it! Kept thinking how hard this must be for a constructor, all those backwards words!

I also liked the brackets, gave the puzz a personal and engaging touch which I enjoyed very much.

Had panda before COATI, StIff before SPIKY, porOUS before MUCOUS. "Southwest terminal?" was my favorite clue.

@evildoug: hahahahahahahaha! Brightened my day!

Politics on this blog: whatever. In *general* the tone here is at least civil and in most cases, even educated. So I don't mind. All my energy is channeled away from ranting and into action, these days. Reminds me - I have another phone call to make.

Have a Terrific Thursday, and thank you Alex Eaton-Salners! And apparently, congrats on a debut, and what a lovely debut it is!

p.s. How do you all know when the puzzle is a debut puzzle?

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

This was the first Thursday I've ever finished alone, AND I did it in 10:01! I'm thrilled. I blew through it -- had the AHA moment after getting BACKTOFRONT and then FUSE right below it. Great moment in an otherwise crappy week.

Nancy 10:01 AM  

64 comments already?! And I'm not even late. Anyway, for me the question wasn't that some of the answers were IN REVERSE; it was Which? and When? and Where? and (mostly) Why? I used the Downs to solve. But the crossing of the brand (11D) with the star (16A), gave me a DNF in the NE. Not to mention that I had syREAN backwards instead of KOREAN backwards (yes, yes, I know: that's not the way you spell SYRIAN, plus the fact that there is no SYRIAN, there's only ARABIC, which I should have considered, only I don't think all that clearly when I have to think backwards.)

This felt sort of arbitrary while I was solving, but I guess it's not. I also found it crunchy and actually enjoyed it -- in a masochistic kind of way.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Uh, ED - Steely Eyed Delivers of Death? On a cargo plane? You were as likely to be delivering toilet paper to Camp Pendleton as anything else.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

I would NOT want to be sitting in Sharp's Comic Book class today.

Nancy 10:19 AM  

To Alex Eaton-Salners -- Didn't realize this was a debut puzzle. A really, really nice job -- one that makes complete sense now that I'm no longer mid-solve and can sit back and look at the grid as a whole. Well-conceived, well-executed and, as I go back over it, completely fair. You should be proud of this debut. I hope to see a lot more of you in the future -- preferably on Thursdays.

evil doug 10:29 AM  

"Uh, ED - Steely Eyed Delivers of Death? On a cargo plane? You were as likely to be delivering toilet paper to Camp Pendleton as anything else."

I dare you to say that to the members of the 82nd Airborne who were jumping out of my aircraft....

thursdaysd 10:35 AM  

"...the ridiculous assumption that I solve in order, top to bottom, left to right."

Thanks for calling my solving method ridiculous. I grew up in England, solving cryptics, and brought my method across the Atlantic with me. I do a pass through the across clues, in order, a pass through the down clues, in order, and often a second pass through both, before tackling any areas that still need attention. I do not find this method "ridiculous", but then I have no interest whatsoever in speed solving. I solve for fun, and the faster you solve the shorter the fun.

I thought this was a bit easy for a Thursday, although I had right to left for BACKTOFRONT initially. Got the gimmick at GNIYAS. Congratulations to the constructor on the debut.

G. Weissman 10:40 AM  

I know, it's shocking: folks are actually voicing their opinions on the current dire political situation! Even folks in newspapers! Someone in government needs to crack down on this quickly.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

So we now see where e. doug's "courage" comes from: vicariously watching others jump out of planes. It's like going to the gym and expecting to get all swole by watching others bench twice their body weight. It doesn't work like that, doug.

Unknown 10:50 AM  

I totally disagree with Rex on this one. I thought the puzzle was good fun and clever. Hastily threw down right to left instead of back to front, so needed to spend some time recovering from that error, but then was off and running. Rallied to finish within 10 seconds of my normal Thursday time.

Rex has become Mr. Negative Energy whether commenting on the puzzle or politics. By the way, Gorsuch is an excellent choice for the court. He is a man of personal integrity with an impeccable academic record, and great experience as a jurist. Did any one really think the replacement for the seat once held by Antoin Scalia would be an Elizabeth Warren?? There is a conservative Republican president and senate, so the SCOTUS nominee will be a conservative. The good news is that it is a conservative of great ability and integrity

r.alphbunker 10:52 AM  

@Tita A

Also available at with solution but no images
2. enter and click Fetch puzzle.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

@anon 9:53am: Joke's on you. Trump has always been a democrat. He only ran as a republican because, (I'm paraphrasing), they're the only ones dumb enough to vote for him.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

I thought this was a great puzzle and a lot of fun! Kudos to the constructor! I'm sorry you caught Rex in another bad mood today as this often colors his reviews. I wish he would save his political rants for his podcast/blog or whatever he does that I would never bother to read or listen to. It is the crossword we care about! You can say what you want since it's your blog (just like Trump can), but it is not helpful or interesting at all.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

Bravo Roberto. A refreshing voice of reason here.

Happy Pencil 10:56 AM  

@Cassieopia, if you look at Jeff Chen's blog at, he provides a running tally of how many puzzles each constructor has had in the NYT and also highlights when it's a debut puzzle.

@thursdaysd, your solving method is also my solving method, and I would guess the one used by many other people here as well. Until I started reading Rex, it never occurred to me to solve in any other way. Doesn't seem ridiculous at all -- especially today!

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

Gee, you can disagree with @evil doug's comments or snarkiness but pretty cheap to attack his valor. A lot of pilots got killed when I was in Vietnam, and the ones who schlepped me around (from the 101st at Camp Eagle), were all great and courageous. And the C-130 was the equivalent of a flying tank.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

You're as ignorant as Roberto is. I none of your children are gay or trans. I hope you don't mind that money is running our country. I hope you don't mind living in a banana republic.

Check that, I hope you don't have children.

Shockdoc 11:06 AM  

Not sure when this became a political blog, but I liked it a whole lot better when it was just about the merits and downfalls of the crossword

mathgent 11:13 AM  

I thought that it was a bore. After I finish the puzzle, I go over it and put a plus sign by the good stuff A clever clue, a new word, a word I know which is an old friend, a novel fact. Today, two plus signs. I'm trying to figure out what the rest of us liked.

I hadn't seen TDS before and Googled it. What a useful term! I was in a group years ago where one of the guys made an offensive boastful comment. Another guy responded, saying "I don't have a very big penis either, but ..."

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Great puzzle, with a fun and original execution of the reversal theme. A bright spot in another week of grim news. Why complain?

cwf 11:17 AM  

An elegant and tight debut. Nice work, Alex Eaton-Salners! I got the theme at TSAR/RENEE after getting LEFTTORIGHT.

For all of you who are like "this is not the place for politics," um, this is @Rex's house. You're free to leave.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Ah, the civil discourse of the left. When you're bereft of ideas and arguments you resort to labels and name calling. And you wonder why you're on the outside looking in. Relax. The adults are in charge now.

Carola 11:23 AM  

Cute, easy puzzle. I caught on when ON/OFF directed me to the BACK-TO-FRONT FUSE. Agree with others that the straightFORWARD Downs made the solve go lickety-split and that it would have been more fun without the bracketed hints.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

At whichever anon defended Dougs "valor," hahaha. Nice one.

To the adult anon who is in charge now, why not go back to 4chan and go back to creating Pepe memes about "snowflakes," or "libtards," or any number of other epithets. Your hypocrisy is annoying.

We're not on the "outside," we're going to be in your head for a long time.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Really, a piece of 62A for me. Surprising for a Thursday.

Elle54 11:30 AM  

I liked it! Cute!

Mohair Sam 11:50 AM  

Very nice debut puzzle. The theme held together just fine, @Rex is full of it. Most solvers work top to bottom at first, it's just natural, the gimmick works - and it's rarely used.

How 'bout a new rule - Rex can talk politics but the rest of us can't - I really need this escape, my Facebook looks like the UC Berkeley editorial page.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

The good news is that Trump vowed fewer regulatory roadblocks to the pharmas, so TDS meds should make it to market quicker.

Tom 11:59 AM  

Liked the puzzle except for a few quirks. As for politics, T. Rump will go down as the worst clown to inhabit the office. Keep your politics going, Rex. Anonymous don't like it? Go do a puzzle from the Breitbart pages. Just go away. Sad days for /
'Merica ahead

teevoz 12:01 PM  

Hear, hear.

Anon 10:05 12:07 PM  

@Evil Doug - You outrage is laughable. You said you were flying "cross country", clearly a domestic run, otherwise you would have been flying "in country". If and when you were carrying the 82nd Airborne,
a) They were the "Steely Eyed Delivers of Death", not you, and
b) I knew you were being facetious with that term, but it isn't funny.
c) You also delivered cargo.

My Uncle Ray served 3 tours in Nam as a helicopter pilot - Gunship, extraction and close support. He and his crew killed hundreds, if not thousands, he lost crew-members. This kind, gentle, brave man would never joke about being a "Steely Eyed Deliver of Death". As someone who actually delivered death, he wept.

old timer 12:09 PM  

I was totally lost and in the end needed plenty of help. Of course I soon found that some answers went backward but the reason mystified me. (Might have helped if I figured out DOWSE but I did that only by googling the clue).

As for Trump he made a brilliant choice for Supreme Court. Had to be on that list someone gave him, and he picked the one who thinks like Scalia and also clerked for Kennedy. The Dems are going to have to vote for him in the Senate in order to save the ability to filibuster Trump's next appointment to the Court, who might be awful. I admired Scalia a lot. He went where the law and the Constitution took him without fear or favor, and the only time he let the result dictate the outcome was in Bush v Gore, where he shamefacedly admitted that his opinion was so contrary to his principles that the opinion should never be used as a precedent.

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

Berkeley is a shining example of the "tolerant" left that Rex and his sycophants represent.

Unknown 12:12 PM  

To all who resent political expressions: 1 Can't you skip over them? 2 Everything else in the world is OK except one subject? Fascistic! 3 I suspect those who are most thrown off by political expressions are people who voted for this maniac, ban-non and Put-In. (except for Roo who takes pride in not voting) 4 Are you conscientious objectors overcome w the fantasy that you are immune to the fact that the country and the world are in for a S**t load of S**t? Do share what makes you so special, so the rest of us can strive to achieve your Zen equilibrium. 5 This one's for you: the first requirement for a nominee to the SC should swear that s/he is not an "originalist" and therefore will not pretend that s/he can divine conditions and issues of 228 years ago; strict constructionist are just playing newspeak - it's like all repug dictums -merely a ruse to avoid the issues, rights and citizenry of The Present Time. 6 WARNING: avoid me tomorrow all you Lilly-livered escapists. Signed Lucretia Mott

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Snowflake melting over fake news---lol!

The Clerk 12:22 PM  

Not sure how to skip over it without reading it first to identify it. Anyway, his name is LEONARDO; his address is DA_VINCI.

Liz T. 12:26 PM  

Liked the puzzle but 20A was clearly not written by a Jew, or maybe even anyone who knows a Jew.

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Gimme a minute. I gotta go see what Buzzfeed tells me what to say about Gorsuch. I'll be back with my opinion asap.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

I'm offended by 9A. PRESIDENT Trump named a son Eric. Don't legitimize him!!! Boo-hoo!

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

As Obama so eloquently once said "You can come along for the ride, but you gotta sit in the back".

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

@ Anonymous 11:26
Typical military, police and veteran-hating prog. Were you one of those that spit at us in the airports when we came home from Vietnam?

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

@ Anonymous 10:55
You voted for a community organizer/agitator that never managed so much as a lemonade stand. Jokes on you.

Unknown 12:44 PM  

And no, muse, I am not a troll.. people who disagree w other people r not necessarily trolls. Been reading Rex for nine yrs & admire his endurance.
Alias Z: come back! I miss your wit and your generous musical contributions.
Lucretia M

Masked and Anonymous 12:48 PM  

thUmbsUp for the theme. It was SPIKY. Probably twas a bit more fun for a non-speed solver, who likes to stop and admire the backed-up OOLs (fave weeject), and the method in their madness, along the way. Very well done, rookie Eaton-Salners.

Don't believe I've ever been called upon before, to spell out MUCOUS. It's got more U's than snot. (yo,@muse) Enjoyed it.

Fave almost-weeject: SPIV. Official M&A Alternative News Dictionary says …
"noun Brit. informal
a man, typically characterized by flashy dress, who makes a living by disreputable dealings."

Only big nit to staff pick: Wagonmasters usually yell "Wagons, Ho!" Cavalry leaders usually yell "Forward, Ho!"

Thanx and congratz, Mr. E-S. Don't mind @RP too much -- sometimes he wakes up facin the wrong direction in bed, and it sucks the sunshine right outta his dis position. [Someone forgot to yell "Headward, Ho!" to him.] Just keep em comin. M&A likes that U started out with a ThursPuz debut; shows U are one of them rare (and precious) constructioneers that ain't quite right in the head. ho.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Rational 1:09 PM  

Political expression is fine, I just don't care to have it mixed in with my recreation. Rex is free to do it; I'm free to move along.

jae 1:11 PM  

Easy, amusing brackets, clever, liked it. Nice debut.

Tita 1:12 PM  

@Thanks, @r.alph!!! That's the one! My sister's favorite puzzle of all time.
Wow - 1977!! Maleska!!

I'll report back on my solve later.

Now as for that April 1 puzz... anyone??

(Since I think it's Shortzian, I'm gonna go look through the archives. I'll let y'all know if I find it.)

Crane Poole 1:16 PM  

Seeing the first comment here deleted felt like a bad sign, but no... Most if not all of you appreciated this one as much as I. Like Oor (I mean @Roo), I got it at OOL. Enough gimmes to suss the backwordses and the eventual why. Content and essence unfolded almost musically. A debut? Impressed me, though I concur with above comments re the cluing for 20A. Last to fill: NAEROK, unknown TAMA, and oer for EER.

Upcoming Winter Olympics will be in AEROK HTUOS. I can only imagine! One day at a time, kids - and what days these be.

Numinous 1:19 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teedmn 1:28 PM  

My solution experience was similar to @Rex's today, in that I didn't understand when and why some answers were backwards vs. FORWARD HO, a trick I discovered early on at ESUF. But afterward, I circled the clues for the backwards entries and checked them against the grid and admired the directional changes, like literary arrows. Is there a word for an anti-icon? I liked this puzzle.

My biggest mess was RIGHT at the beginning. I put in EXEC at 3D but took it out twice as my understanding of the backwardsness and the meaning of 13A evolved (I first thought the "call with a raised hand" was going to be "me, me"). But that finally got nailed into place.

26D's Ere, and not knowing TAMA made a backward DEMOED hard to see but I worked it out. Otherwise, this one didn't put up a whole lot of fight but it was enjoyable.

Congrats, Alex, on your debut NYT.

Numinous 1:36 PM  

I was confused at first but finally got the "hint". I'm by no means a fast solver and I agree wholeheartedly with @thursdaysd who cut his teeth on cryptics. Start at the beginning and go on to the end. Enjoy the process instead of the adrenaline and pumped up heart-rate. Unless you're an adrenaline junky, of course.

@Mohair Sam, yeah, Berkeley. I'm on the Facebook page, You Know You're From Berkeley If. It's less the Berkeley I knew growing up and yet some things remain the same. I grew up in a Republican household with a Republican family while even in the '50s we were surrounded by bleeding-heart-liberals. Whatever anyone might think it means, I'm proud to have come from Berkeley.

It occurrs to me that there must be some sort of natural evolution in the solving process for crossword puzzles. Lets just say that the puzzles are more or less equal in quality to the ones ten years ago. Lets just imagine that @Rex would take ten minutes to do a Monday puzzle ten years ago. He's an inciteful guy. He has a reasonably good memory. To him, now that he has a huge arsenal of crossword answers compared to when he started, the puzzzles are going to seem "less than." It must be like a junkie who's first trips are like a journey to Nirvana and who's later trips can never quite reach that goal. I guess I'm saying that the more one does crosswords, the greater the returns diminish.

Trips down Memory Lane! DOWSE. I once took a class in divining which included DOWSing for water. I was interested in getting involved in the water well drilling business. On my trips in and out of Saline Valley just to the west of Death Valley to visit the hot springs there I would see a water well drilling rig by the side of the dirt road with a for sale sign on it. At the time I was living in a semi-desert community, Canyon Country which had innumerable rural properties that were not part of the subdivisions that were multiplying there. I did a lot of research on water wells, aquifers and all that. Finally I discovered that the rig I was looking at was a cable tool rig and wasn't really as suitable to the area where I lived. That effectively DOuSEd my dream.

I saved twenty minutes of my Thursday average doing this. I wouldn't have minded its taking longer at all. Ha ha ha. Look at all the savings you get at Wal*Mart, Sam's Club, BJs, Costco and every other business who advertises Big Savings at their stores. What do you do with those savings? Why, spend them on more stuff, of course. Usually in the same store that saved you all that money. I just have to laugh. I usually save by not spending money or effort or, in this case, time.

I don't want to burst anyone's bubble but this wasn't really a debut, at least not in the sense of being the first puzzle a constructior (@thursdaysd a setter) has had accepted, It is a debut as in the sense of being the first to appear but Alex Easton-Salners's first accepted puzzle is still in a rather deep queue according to his comments at xwordinfo.

I'm not a particularly politically minded person but the times are making me aware . . .

Vive la Resistance
Vive la Republique

CDilly52 1:43 PM  

Blew through this, as many others by seeing "OOL" and realizing that it was a reversal trick. Also, with others, found "BACKTOFRONT" offensive - front is front wherever it may be! Unfortunately for me, the puzzle provided so little difficulty that I never got the "glue" that indeed does hold it all together...the order of the themers as directions to switch directions. Had I read the bracketed instructions, the inherent cohesiveness of theme might have registered. Consequently, I finished in record Thursday time but thought the puzzle was horrible...until I read the blog- thank you all very much. I get it and I like it! Clever.
And an "originalist" in the bench is just code for what my con law prof would have called a "hide-bound-textualist," whose approach may work a great deal of the time, but not on issues undoubtedly beyond the wildest imaginations of the framers of the Constitution, from the abolition of slavery and women's sufferage to stem cells. A conservative gentleman who revered the Federalists, he was also a scholar and historian and realized that the Constitution must be interpreted in response to the issue presented at the time the case is heard. The Court must resolve these issues by carefully evaluating the Constitutional issue at bar in light of existing precedent. But he objected to any jurist's pre-conceived notion that all issues of Constitutional magnitude could be decided as if it were 1789. No one can know or accurately intuit what the framers would think of issues patently beyond their Ken or their imagination. When faced with novel circumstances, the reaction has historically been to amend the Constitution, 27 times. We do not need another "originality" - we need an open minded scholar. Whomever takes the bench, I hope he or she will be soundly rooted in the present.

r.alphbunker 1:57 PM  

Solved this knowing that some across words were backwards and some weren't. Didn't take the time to figure out the reason until I was done. Details are here.

william levine 1:58 PM  

I agree!

ani 2:11 PM  

I dunno. I went to yeshiva and it worked for me: the back of a book in English is the front of a book written in Hebrew.

william levine 2:29 PM  


Unknown 2:30 PM  

@Tita A - I remember a Merle Reagle puzzle from several years ago along the breaking all the rules line. Not sure whether it was April 1 though.

William Occam 2:40 PM  

Puzzle was fine. Watching poor Rex's head explode as he is torn out of his liberal echo chamber is priceless.

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

My, my! What hath Rex wrought?

Phil 2:57 PM  

Took a final runthru to find FUzE TzAR error. Maybe that's brit spelling? Or just misspelling ...don't know.
I liked the puzzle.

Malsdemare 2:59 PM  

I thought the puzzle was great. I love those AHA moments when you suddenly (or in my case, eventually) figure out what's going on. And while I didn't see the brackets as useful in the solve, when you go back and read them, they are wonderful icing on the cake. I liked the little dig with ACLU, of course, being me, didn't know LEWIS, ROWAN, or GERI, again being me, and damn it! Naticked on TAtA, forgetting to check that across. Sigh. I also didn't understand ERIC until halfway through reading the comments.

TDS!! Thank you, folks for that new term. ROFL.

In the doctor's office for a checkup yesterday, the PA asked me if I'd taken up smoking again. When I looked at him quizzically, he said, "Well, with everything that's happening, a lot of people have." I told him I'd take up smoking when I could find a dealer. May you live in interesting times, indeed!

Hungry Mother 3:32 PM  

This was a lot of fun to solve. A nice break in the "breaking news."

Andrew Heinegg 3:33 PM  

I am always hesitant to comment on what I term trick puzzles. The reason being that I don't like them as a matter of taste. So, they can be terrifically clever and fun to some but, I just get annoyed with them. Today is a perfect example of this. It wasn't a hard gimmick to pick up and thus a easy puzzle to solve. I just didn't have any fun doing it.

You can complain all you want about Rex's assessment of puzzles and his political commentary when there are traces of politics in the puzzle. But, the facts are that it is his puzzle blog and he can put whatever he wants in it. Note that he does not remove the personal attacks on him.

How about this. If you disagree with his puzzle evaluation or his political positions, say how and why instead of suggesting that his liberal head is going to explode or that he is a piece of crap or a snowflake. It might make you feel good but it is a juvenile approach to things that might be the most scary thing about the current POTUS.

gruffed 3:35 PM  

I don't know which was more fun, solving this puzzle or reading our fearless curmudgeon's tortured excoriation thereof. Initially had rightoleft but broke through with backtofront when the downs weren't working. Not troubled by backtofront vis-à-vis English books. Great debut, AE-S!

Mohair Sam 4:19 PM  

@Numinous - Sad to see Berkeley last night rioting against free speech, of all places.

QuasiMojo 4:33 PM  

@Happy Pencil, thank you for the clarification.

Anonymous 5:07 PM  

This was a great puzzle. And we have a great president. its all good.

clayplay 5:33 PM  

Glad to see that someone else was bothered by the Leonardo clue. His name is not Da Vinci. That made me start doubting my art history since Leonardo didn't fit.

Anonymous 5:38 PM  

Mohair, I think the problem at Berkeley wasn't a function of free speech. It was a function of quality of speech, exhibiting namely truth and rationality.

TL;DR: Just because you are free to speak doesn't mean you deserve to be heard.

Look at doug, for instance. There is thoughtful intelligent speech and then there is incendiary trolling. The first, no matter how provocative can be a means to understanding. The second does nothing to advance understanding and should, in a free country, be actively and aggressively ignored. Hence my campaigning for him to hit the bricks. But I digress...

Anonymous 5:47 PM market value doubled today. Now it's 20 cents a share.

Anonymous 6:58 PM  

Mohair Sam, there is a difference between free speech and hate speech. Before you defend this guy, you may want to look at some of what he has said in the past. He has a history of saying hateful things just to get attention. He is no poster child for free speech, despite what he may claim.

Anonymous 7:00 PM  

Had absolutely no idea our country had become so wussified. Thank goodness we can stop this alarming trend and all man up. Am I allowed to say that?

Anonymous 7:34 PM  

Freedom of speech is freedom of the speech you hate and that includes Milo and Trump. If the irony that the suppression of speech happened at Berkeley is lost on anyone I'd be disappointed.

Nebraska doug 7:42 PM  

I thought this was a brilliant puzzle. Didn't take long to figure out the gimmick. Fun. A perfect Thursday. As a non-constructed, I think, "wow!, how did they do this

Anonymous 8:31 PM  

Untrue. Every civilized country in the world puts limits on freedom of speech. But you don't have to take my word for it -- ask Oliver Wendell Holmes. You cannot yell fire in a crowded theatre.

Cassieopia 8:36 PM  

Is it wrong that I read this last comment as, "You can't yell 'fire!' in a crossword theater"?

Anonymous 8:45 PM  

Unless it's on fire

Momma's No Flake 8:50 PM  

Apparently it's all right to yell "You're fired!"at an Attorney General

Anonymous 8:50 PM  

Clearly Milo's and Trump's ravings are protected you're just being silly.

Anonymous 8:53 PM  

Hey Al Anon at 7:34pm: I believe the concept you're struggling with there is called "projection." It's when you take an issue that you don't particularly admit you have and you project it onto others and then blame them for it.

No, you simple minded tufted pumpkin lover, while "freedom of speech" guarantees that you are protected to say whatever you like (within reason, e.g., you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater), it doesn't mean we have to listen to it, or in the case of Berkeley, pay you for it.

Also, there is nothing legally or morally compelling Berkeley to grant Milo a platform in the first place. Nothing. If they invited him and then changed their minds for whatever reason, they can disinvite him if they like. It's a free country. No one's asking you to personally agree with it. It isn't "suppression of Milo's [freedom of] speech" until the US government itself starts suppressing his ability to say whatever he wants, (like, you know, if the government were to tell the media to "shut up," for instance). In Berkeley's case, it is nothing more than a decision on their part to not listen to him...he is still perfectly free to say whatever sh*t he wants every which way but Sunday wherever he likes. He could probably still walk on campus, go to a coffee shop, and sit down with students and start speaking in fascist word salad. So long as he wasn't starting a riot or doing anything else lewd or unacceptable, he'd probably be fine. (Until a riot broke out because he was talking nonsense...but I digress.)

Oh and one more thing: just because you (or any of your other nazi friends) have something to say, doesn't mean anyone has to give a single f*ck about it. And that has nothing to do with "freedom of the speech you hate" either. Nice pithy little turn of the phrase, btw. You should be a poet.

hahaha...j/k. You'd make a terrible poet.

Anonymous 9:02 PM  

you guys don't get the concept of free speech, sadly you're emboldening Trump, whatever

johnnymcguirk 9:31 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chim cham 9:32 PM  

Yeah, I don't get why this wording is so offensive. It immediately helped me visualize an interesting fact I did not know, and prompted me to spend two hours of my morning googling images Hebrew scrolls and codexes. It was cool. Chill the eff out.

johnnymcguirk 9:33 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 9:37 PM  

@Mohair Sam - You are assuming that Yiannopoulos or his supporters are not behind the violence. An otherwise peaceful protest turns violent when 150 masked people show up? Who benefits from such behavior? It could have been a bunch of anti-fascist hotheads, but my quarter is on the fascist wannabes. It's more their style.

Anonymous 9:43 PM  

Z : if you really believe that conspiracy theory you're not paying attention, I've read your previous posts and you are obviously an intelligent person, the people who blew up that speech in Berkeley were professional agitators, they weren't students, nor were they right wing mobys.

teevoz 10:08 PM  


Mohair Sam 10:14 PM  

@Z - Please.

Chim cham 10:16 PM  

Ditto. Well put.

Numinous 10:30 PM  

LOLZ, @Professional Agitators. Any idea how long that concept has been around? If this was Rome a couple thousand years ago, I might believe you but ask half the population of Berkeley in 1964 and they would have told you the campus was full of professional agitators. Nary a student in sight. All 10,000 of the FSMers were professionals? Folks came from all over the Bay Area to either get in on the fun or just watch. Lafayette and Orinda could be pretty dull places on a Friday night.
"Wanna go drag the main in Richmond?"
"Nah. Let's go up to UC and watch the crazies. Get us some beer, we might even get lucky."

Antonioni's movie Zabriski Point probably gives a better perspective on what external influences might produce. Berkeley has a long history of disagreement with the status quo. I was living inside the curfew zone in 1968 when there was a policeman armed with an assault rifle at every intersection around the perimeter. I'd only ever been closer to martial law when I was in East Germany in 1965. Do I want to see that again? NO, but I'm afraid draconian policies are in the offing.


Help the hungry USA 11:27 PM  

@Z- Are you serious? I'm assuming your trying to drum up comments to help Resistant Parker. Relax, he's already achieved over 5 thousand followers on his twitter due to his persistant trolling.

Please remember to help the homeless and hungry. There are a lot of us here in USA that love NYT crosswords.

razerx 12:02 AM  

Figured out the gimmick immediately with EENER and the rest was Tuesday easy. Good puzzle.

Dan Murphy 9:47 AM  


Izzie 12:54 PM  

The BOOK of a Hebrew text is read back to front.

Burma Shave 10:21 AM  


and METUP with a most VIAL and FORWARDHO.
In TANDEM we’d STIR LEFTTORIGHT for a grunt,


spacecraft 11:56 AM  

Hand up for right to left: inkfest. Also for Honorable Mention DOD EENER regewlleZ as the beauty who set me "right--" or should I say, "left." I don't know; I'm so desufnoc.

I never heard Ward Bond yell 33-across; it was always "Set 'em up! Move 'em out! Wagons, HO!" But I got the point.

Another hand up for STock, which really slowed things down in the south.

This was an interesting solve; as often is the case, I don't know what OFL is grousing about. The "concept" is; the words go l-->r until a theme entry directs otherwise, etc. It doesn't matter where you start. I'm not sure he even knows the meaning of the word "concept." The experience was different enough for me not to criticize it.

A couple of WOEs: TAMA and ROWAN (once I'm past "Laugh-in's" Dan I'm lost), but there were enough gimmes sprinkled throughout that it wound up being easy-medium. As for DOD, it's nearly impossible to beat ANY of the Spice Girls, GERI included. She gets the sash.

TWIT was a no-brainer here; one of our (gang's) favorite sayings is "Such TWITtishness is not to be beLIEVED!" As we might have said if the American idiots--I mean, people--had somehow, okay, no politics. Shet mah mouf. Fun puzzle; promising debut. Birdie.

Uke Xensen 12:21 PM  

Nice puzzle, though pretty easy after EENER / GERI. Well done.

Uke Xensen 12:22 PM  

Nice puzzle, though pretty easy after EENER / GERI. Well done.

Diana,LIW 12:36 PM  

I had an absolutely grand time with this Thursday, non-rebus, puzzle. Got the backwards trick very early, and since I don't solve "in order," it took a while to see when and where the backward format was in use.

Absolutely loved the little asides - after grokking the theme they made the jokesterness funnier. Made for a satisfying finish.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 12:37 PM  

Coulda done without the bracketed comments, not really necessary, but I spose it’s OK to have them. Figured out the “concept” RIGHT away, so no prob there. Only mini prob was STock, like others.

Can’t see the word TWIT without thinking of ERIC Idle and Monty Python.

Have been watching ROWAN and Martin’s Laugh In reruns lately. A lot of dumb jokes, but they got away with some stuff, too, often a quick one when going to commercial: Teacup, now that’s a big girl. Followed shortly by: Zebra, now that’s a really big girl. Har.

Waaaay back in H.S I did earn LETTERS in football, basketball, baseball and track. Yes, two spring sports, so I was busy then. Got PINKEYE one year during August football practice. Not helpful.

@spacey has already mentioned the TANDEM (or MEDNAT) of EENER crossing GERI, but I’ll go with yeah baby EVA Mendes. Just GNIYAS.

Better than usual Thurs-puz, IMHO. ONTO Friday.

leftcoastTAM 1:42 PM  

Liked this theme and execution better than Rex (surprise!). Took time to get the trick, but the "aha" factor was pronounced when it came, and the rest was pretty easy.

ERIC Idle was clever misdirect, TAMA was an unknown, and wanted STock before STAKE. Of the themers, the backwards DEOMED/DEMOED seemed a bit off-key.

An enjoyable Thursday.

rain forest 3:30 PM  

Nice to be entertained by the way you solve the puzzle. I didn't get the trick immediately, but when ESUF, EENER, GNIYAS follow the first instruction as you go down the left side, you get the idea, sort of. I was even looking to see if any down answers were backwards. Continuing down the left side, it kind of got confusing for me, and I was checking every answer and its reverse.

Moving to the upper right, things finally became clear, and I could then see when the answers needed to be reversed or regular. Overall, it was fun, and the puzzle itself is memorable for its theme and for the lack of 'ese'. Nice debut.

As an aside, I've been tutoring a Syrian refugee in English, and he occasionally will write out the Arabic translation of certain words and phrases. It is fascinating to see him write from the right, and I'm amazed at how quickly those squiggles appear from his pen. It must be hell for him to get used to reading left to right with the confusing (to him) symbols of English. Maybe he'd have no problem with today's puzzle...

centralscrewtinizer 3:43 PM  

Great puzzle. Terrible comments. Can't wait to see what y'all are saying thirty days from now.
Had to laugh at 'tufted pumpkin'. "Either it is or itsnot."
Beware when February's IDES come on a Friday.

Unknown 5:31 PM  


Torb 8:27 PM  

I got the trick rather quickly. It's all there in the clues. Fun and actually pretty easier than most Thursday puzzles.

Torb 8:27 PM  

I got the trick rather quickly. It's all there in the clues. Fun and actually pretty easier than most Thursday puzzles.

William Heyman 11:26 PM  

I got it, but left and right is objective, front to back is subjective, in that left and right is always left and right, but front to back depends upon the culture.

And I was an army paratrooper (but only 6 jumps, so no expert) but we were always carried by USAF transports as they were the only planes configured to carry army units. This is not a one-person skydiving thing, it's whole units.

Michael Leddy 12:29 AM  

Doing the puzzle in syndication, so I'm weeks late to this discussion. I am glad to see that other solvers were irked by BACKTOFRONT and DAVINCI. As my wife observes, "back to front" is the kind of logic that has people on the other side of the globe walking around upside down. And about "da Vinci": a smart copyeditor at the British Journal of Aesthetics quietly corrected a "da Vinci" to "Leonardo" for me, many years ago. I've never forgotten that act of kindness. Nor have I forgotten that Leonardo, not da Vinci, is the name.

Edward Tufte, by the way, corrects the NYT's description of him as "the da Vinci of data" to "the Leonardo da Vinci of data."

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