Relating to songbirds / TUE 2-21-17 / Explanatory Latin phrase / Physicist Alessandro inventor of electric battery / Flying insect with prominent eyespots

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: AP TEST (69A: Exam for an ambitious H.S. student ... or what this puzzle has been?) — eight theme answers are all two-word phrases where first word starts "A" and second word starts "P"...

Theme answers:
  • APPLE PIE (20A: Classic American dessert)
  • AMY POEHLER (3D: "Parks and Recreation" star)
  • AT PRESENT (10D: Currently)
  • AFRO PICK (18A: Grooming accessory that may be stuck in the hair)
  • AIR PIRATE (35D: Plane hijacker)
  • AL PACINO (61A: Michael Corleone player in "The Godfather")
  • ART PAPER (57A: Material to sketch on)
  • ATOMIC PILE (31D: Nuclear reactor)
Word of the Day: OSCINE (63A: Relating to songbirds) —
A songbird is a bird belonging to the clade Passeri of the perching birds (Passeriformes). Another name that is sometimes seen as a scientific or vernacular name is Oscines, from Latin oscen, "a songbird". This group contains some 4,000 species found all over the world, in which the vocal organ typically is developed in such a way as to produce a diverse and elaborate bird song. // Songbirds form one of the two major lineages of extant perching birds, the other being the Tyranni which are most diverse in the Neotropics and absent from many parts of the world. These have a simpler syrinx musculature, and while their vocalizations are often just as complex and striking as those of songbirds, they are altogether more mechanical sounding. There is a third perching bird lineage, the Acanthisitti from New Zealand, of which only two species remain alive today. There is evidence to suggest that songbirds evolved 50 million years ago in the part of Gondwana that later became Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and Antarctica, before spreading around the world. (wikipedia)
• • •

The crustiness continues with this overly simple theme of no delight. A bunch of AP phrases. The teensiest bit of wordplay in the revealer, but that's it for concept. Otherwise, just a mass of unrelated, often awkward / dated phrases that have one non-interesting characteristic in common. There was a time an adequate but totally unremarkable puzzle like this wouldn't have been accepted because there were just too many good puzzle crowding it out. Every longtime constructor has had a puzzle better than this rejected before. But the bar is low—when you have no real competition (at the daily level), I guess you get complacent and you start turning out "Just OK" and "Good enough." For a while in the '00s, the NY Sun crossword (a superior daily) was keeping the NYT honest. No more. I guess if you see puzzles as simply providing a diversion from life's ILLS, then, sure, this'll do. It's familiar. It's comfortable. It looks like puzzles have looked like in the past (20, 30 years ago). It meets all the minimum requirements. LESSEE ETCETC SEAEELS PTUI. Sure. Print it.

My only problems today involved figuring out the tail ends of longer phrases (that I never hear in real life). The PILE in ATOMIC PILE (we just call them "nuclear reactors" now ... and have for my entire life). The PIRATE in AIR PIRATE (we just call them "hijackers" now ... and have for my entire life). Even the OIL in TUNA OIL gave me pause (43D: Source of healthful fatty acids in a StarKist can). Otherwise, I just filled in the answers easily, as they came. I'd seen IO MOTH before, so that didn't throw me as it might've (14A: Flying insect with prominent eyespots). Ditto PTUI (42A: Spitting sound). Oh, I tripped all over 33D: Recasts damaging information in a favorable light, say (SPINS), needing 80% of it from crosses before I saw the correct answer. I had SKEWS at first, and even when I knew it was wrong, it was hard to shake, or to see anything else. Strange, considering that clue / answer pairing seems very straightforward in retrospect. Sometimes loooonnng clues make me impatient and I don't take them in fully. This is of course my problem, not the puzzle's.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Hungry Mother 6:05 AM  

Very easy today.

Passing Shot 6:10 AM  

Is it me, or do OSCINE and ATOMIC PILE seem a little beyond the normal Tuesday level of difficulty?

Lewis 6:20 AM  

Hardest part was spelling AMY's last name. Lots of animal references: MOTH, OSCINE, SHEP, EELS, TUNA, KIT, and ARKS. And a TEAR out. IOMOTH, OSCINE, and DOHA not typically Tuesdayish -- but welcome, given that they're well crossed. LESSEE, we had COY the other day, and KOI today.

Crossword puzzles can feel like tests. It feels good to ace them. They call up knowledge, yes, but the best ones make you use your brain instead of just bark out answers. And, thank goodness, people comment on them afterwards.

Glimmerglass 6:57 AM  

Freshwarter eels are called freshwater eels. SEA EELS are called eels. My wife is an artist who has never heard ART PAPER. She says it's not a thing. "Watercolor paper," for example, is a thing, but the generic term is "paper." An ATOMIC PILE was a thing in 1950; now, not so much. Very easy puzzle.

jberg 7:02 AM  

I guess SEA ERLS & TUNA OIL were needed because of the touching theme answers, which led to odd vowel sequences. But a 4-vowel string is paltry. If I had a bunch of eels, I'd train them to swim single-file. You guessed it -- QUEUE EELS.

Is the central ASST PTUI a theme answer too? Nah.

Two quibbles: I don't think PDFs are exclusively PC; and while some free-lance writing may be done ON SPEC, very little consulting, graphic design, etc. is.

LaurieG in Connecticut 7:30 AM  

Dull as dishwater.

Moly Shu 7:43 AM  

Agree with @PassingShot, never heard of either. Maybe Prof. Barany will stop by and give me an AP class on ATOMICPILE. Seemed like a ton of abbreviations, EDU ASST IDS OTC URL ETCETC, etc... Oh well, at least we got an XTC video out of it.

Andrew Goodridge 7:45 AM  

I teach HS art and media. Never used the phrase "art paper." There at many different ways to describe paper -- in terms of weight, color, fiber, surface, absorbency, based on intended media (watercolor, pastel, sketching, etc.) But I've never said "art paper." Any paper can be art paper. Using one incredibly broad term to modify another incredibly broad term is like saying "edible food" or "wearable fashion" or "watchable film." I'm not a marine biologist, but SEAEELS hits my ear in a similarly unpleasant fashion.

I love AMYPOEHLER and ALPACINO, and I can't complain about two Star Wars references in one puzzle. But most of the fill, and far too many themers, just didn't work for me today. Oh well.

RAD2626 7:46 AM  

Thought puzzle was okay for a Tuesday. Had trouble with the ends of some answers like Rex which seemed strained to me. While theme is hoary, lots of APs squeezed in which was fine by me.

Also disagree that there is no daily competition. Like the paper itself, WSJ puzzle is every bit as good as NYT most days. Some days, LA Times and Washington Post also as good. And online the CrosSynergy XWord is terrific. I think the issue is more that the plethora of other outlets has spread the constructors thin. But I still enjoy the NYT puzzle most days and do it every day. And I at least would not say it's quality has deteriorated. Just substituted PTUI for etui.

GHarris 7:53 AM  

Found it easy but enjoyable.Misspelled Poehler's name (had a second l for the h) and so dnf.

Outside The Box 7:59 AM  

Not you. I agree.

Eric NC 8:02 AM  

doBa for doHa and poeLler for poeHler seemed fine to me until I dnfed. Oh well. Thought I was so smart racing through this.

chefbea 8:07 AM  

easyish puzzle. Hand up for not knowing how to spell Amy's last name. Made penne last night but not with vodka

Dr. Haber 8:24 AM  

Is anyone else bothered by the misspellings in these comments? Sea erls? Freshwarter eels? If you are going to critique the puzzle, please take a little more care in your own use of the language.

Z 8:30 AM  

ATOMIC PILE was familiar because I'VE read lots of "classic" Sci Fi. AFRO PICK was familiar because I was a teen in the 70's. When the Wikipedia references are a history of fads and a 1972 Jet article your entry might be a little dated.

@passing shot - You left out IO MOTH.

@jberg - Nice vowel string.

Big Steve 46 8:31 AM  

As someone who gets the basic old-fashioned print NYT delivered to my doorstep each morning, I actually do "see puzzles as simply providing a diversion from life's ILLS." And nothing much more - and that's okay by me. Hence, this was a perfectly fine puzzle and a nice little part of my morning ritual. I know that things will always change but I hope that the NYT (puzzle included) changes as little and as slowly as possible.

Michael 8:32 AM  

No mention of GORP? Otherwise despite a wrong turn with HAIRPICK instead of AFROPICK this came together pretty easily.

Z 8:37 AM  

@Dr. Haber - Typos happen. My personal policy is to only fix my own if my intended meaning is made inscrutable by the typo. I used to hit the preview button before the publish button and then catch some of my typos, but the preview function hasn't worked in several months.

Norm C. 8:42 AM  

Shouldn't A POP be a themer, too?

QuasiMojo 8:46 AM  

Not sure Doha/Poehler is a Natick or not, but I had a DNF because of it. Never heard of either which is no excuse but it surprised me for a Tuesday. (Yet, I can't say I love seeing so many actors and "celebs" in the puzzle these days. And it's not just because they're newish. I was doing a puzzle with a neophyte the other day and one of the answers was Omar Sharif. She didn't know who he was and said that was unfair. Perhaps it is. But at least he once was world famous.)

ONE question, folks. Why has this blog become absolutely inundated with pro-Trump and anti-Trump twaddle? What does any of that political stuff have to do with the NYT puzzle? Don't you all have thousands of other blogs, FB and IG and SnapChat and Twizzler where you can "ptui" to your heart's content all that childish vitriol?

Do us all a favor and put a lid on it.

Daily Ant 8:53 AM  

How has now one mentioned the center west chunk? At least for this youngster who has done the NYT crossword nearly daily for a while now, that portion was utterly absurd:

ELLIOT (died in the 70's...) crossed with VALTA (who dat? I'm in science too...), crossed with DAHA (random capital) crossed with IDEST (I know it's common but it's easy to forget and total crosswordese) crossed with STERN (the cluing: I have never once in my life heard "taking no guff")... just crazy!

Hartley70 8:53 AM  

There's not much to say about GORP except kids in scouting love it in my experience as long as you don't forget the chocolate chips.

I have even less to say about PTUI. It's a waste of good letters.

I was alive in the 1950s and have never heard of an ATOMICPILE, not even while cowering under a schoolroom desk.

The only entry that caught my attention was OSCINE.

The AP theme was obvious early on although the revealer worked nicely. This should have been a Monday.

Thank you for the get well wishes yesterday. @chefbea, the soup was much appreciated!

Daily Ant 8:54 AM  

Argh, no one*

puzzle hoarder 8:57 AM  

Spelling POEHLER correctly on first try made this a banner day for me. Mostly this was easy but I came away with a slow time due to solving on a tablet and having a number of write overs. The quality of the fill is pretty good considering how many themers there are. I just don't know that they were all worth the effort.

Bill Feeney 9:05 AM  

I live in fear of the Dr. Habers in the virtual world. What if I make a mistake? Worse, what if I make a mistake and don't recognize it? I thought online conversation was exempt from the niceties of grammar and spelling. I wish someone on this site would explain the obvious animosity Rex Parker has for Will Shortz. Is there a history here I'm unaware of? (oops-preposition.) Also, I have difficulty navigating the waters of what makes a good puzzle different from a mouldy, creaky one. Isn't every puzzle a personal experience where reaction is shaped by one's own history and personal predilections?

jberg 9:05 AM  

You got me! Sorry about those erls.

Mohair Sam 9:07 AM  

@Big Steve46 - Hear Hear!!! The daily puzzle is NOT a contest for the pros, it is a pleasant diversion for hundreds of thousands, maybe millions - let's hope Will Shortz never forgets.

@Z (8:37) Well said. Me too, my preview button is to reread - and if something gets by but doesn't mess up the thought terribly, well, what the hell.

This one played tough for us. The delightful Ms. POEHLER's spelling was tough, as was IOMOTH, OSCINE, DOHA (and we have a son who served two deployments in Qatar), and GORP. My father worked at Brookhaven Lab, so ATOMIC PILE is very much in the language here. Consumed enough vodka to float a small navy but never heard of Penne ALLA until this morning - go figure. I'm cooking tomorrow, guess what's on the menu.

If any of you have missed AMY POEHLER as Joy in the Pixar movie "Inside Out" you'll do yourself a favor to grab a kid (or not) and sit in front of it for a couple of hours.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:13 AM  

ARRAYS as a verb?

Too much real life in this one for me today. Washington and environs, federal tax agents, taking no guff. I into the second day of struggle to get a clavichord built for me in Lisbon through US Customs. The invoice is in Portuguese, a fairly normal thing when doing business in Portugal. There is a bilingual 'declaration of value/Contents list' and there is a bilingual Air Waybill, both produced in Lisbon. But US Customs will not clear it without a commercial invoice in English, and although I have written it for my builder I cannot convince him to type it into a pdf and send me a copy. Sigh. Americans and languages.

Nancy 9:14 AM  

"--H said too much already" (26A) wasn't going to work. It had to be I'VE, right? And so, happily, I got POEHLER -- a last name that I bet gobs of people, not just @Lewis and I, don't know how to spell. I also didn't realize that the too-oft-puzzle-appearing "Princess LEIA" actually had a last name.

While solving, this seemed to have pretty good "crunch" for a Tuesday and I enjoyed the process. Looking back on it now, I'm not exactly sure why, as it seems pretty easy after the fact. And, as usual, I never noticed the AP theme at all. A theme like this is always Who Cares? for me.

Unknown 9:15 AM  

I found the TOGA OSCINE cross problematic even after guessing ATOMICPILE. Between that and the POEHLER/DOHA cross I'm surprised to see this rated as "easy". I think it was a Medium Tuesday. I also think that the density of the theme answers is worth noting on the plus side despite the trite theme.

Fountains of Golden Fluids 9:32 AM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

QuasiMojo 10:07 AM  

@DailyAnt, the science answer is "Volta" from which I imagine we get the word "volt" and the car. "Take no guff" is definitely old-timey but I remember people using it.

Numinous 10:12 AM  

I seem to have aced this AP TEST coming in at a around 2/3rds my average Tuesday time.

A little snipe @Rex. I never even saw SPIN until I looked the puzzle over after I finished. I just did the across answers and went back and filled in the downs that I'd missed. I've never seen AMY POEHLER ever but I've seen her name, I know it has an H in it somewhere randomly. DOHA settled that for me. I've never been to Qatar ever but now I know its capital. I agree with @Norm C that A POP qualifies as a themer otherwise I'm sure @Rex would have sounded off about if ya gonna have two word themes starting with letter "a" and letter "b" then that combination should be avoided elsewhere in the puzz. So, ten themers instead of nine. Cool.

I guess I like Timothy Polin's puzzles as I seem to have fond recollections of his name. Nothing about this puzzle bugged, irked, disturbed, distressed or even ired me. Couldn't even generate a PTUI (a word I actually liked) from me.

If Monday is kindergarten day, Tuesday: elementary school day, Wednesday; junior high or middle school day, Thursday; high school day, Friday and Saturday; lower and upper division college days, and Sunday: advanced degree days, then I guess today was a pretty good fifth grade day. Jeff Foxworthy has or had a show, "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" It always surprised me how many adults never made it past the fourth or fifth question out of possibly ten.

As I write this I'm being serenaded by what I think is one of the most beautiful arias ever written Duet of the Flowers from Lakme by Delibes on my favorite Los Angeles radio station, KUSC. I just had to share. I still find it amazing that I can listen to classical music from USC in Los Angeles and jazz from the ABC in Australia on my computer.

Have a happy day, y'all, I have yard work to confront, having recently become a LESSEE.

Loren Muse Smith 10:16 AM  

@Dr. Haber - If you are going to critique our comments, please go easy on us! Typos happen. It’s/its issues abound. Apostrophes are flying everywhere. I personally usually mess up and use lead for led (Hey, @Evil) and have fully embraced the singular they. I had no trouble whatsoever understanding that SEA ERL was supposed to be SEA EEL. I didn’t even notice WARTER. These kinds of things never interfere with my understanding of the comment (hi, @Mohair) and the points the comment makes about the puzzle. And that’s why we’re here. Usually. Ahem.

@Bill Feeney – I happen to know you used to teach English. I still teach English. Us non-pedants need to stick together. ;-) Yes. Us.

@Norm – great A POP catch.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

I truly enjoy reading this blog, BUT the grump factor is getting to me. The comments, on the other hand, are pure joy.

kozmikvoid 10:18 AM  

@Bill Feeney: Will has the job that Rex thinks he is better qualified for. Rex mocks and belittles Will at every opportunity so he can attempt to convince people of this fact. This blog is not the place to help gauge good/bad puzzles because there is an inherent bias against Will. The puzzle is being viewed through a negative lens. Besides, you are right. The only person who can judge whether a puzzle is good or bad is the solver. If you enjoyed it, it was good. It's like wine. Let no one but yourself tell you if you should have enjoyed it.

pmdm 10:27 AM  

Regardless of what one feels about the theme, I think it's fairly impressive that so many fairly long theme entries as well as the revealer were squeezed into the puzzle without having (for the most part) to resort to garbage fill. I suppose if you prefer to emphasize the bad (and there certainly is enough of that in the puzzles) you ignore the good. So I think today's constructor deserves a lot of credit and applaud him.

Rad2626, you make a very good point. Especially if puzzle editors want to avoid reprinting themes used elsewhere, it must become exponentially difficult to find terrific puzzles in enough quantity to fill a daily queue.

Numinous, I like your rating system. But remember, the Sunday only has a difficulty level of between that of a Thursday and a Friday. Perhaps using your system I would rate it at a level for a high school graduate who's not yet entered college.

GILL I. 10:35 AM  

Gee...I rather enjoyed today's puzzle. @Lewis I too like to use the brain on a Tuesday and I had to in order to come up with PTUI. Doncha just love that word?
Lots of AP's and they were fun. I liked AMY and AL and ART PAPER is a real thing, folks. I taught art in elementary school and we always needed ART PAPER. Maybe you know it better as construction paper?
The AFRO PICK saved me during my GORP days. I had long boring straight hair and decided it needed some oomph. So I had it permed. I looked like Barbra Streisand gone wrong. Gaah...The PICK untangled and poofed the parts that needed to be poofing. Great invention.
@Quasi...So agree with you. I was going to chime in last night but I was scared to death I might feed a troll a gourmet dinner and he'd never leave.

r.alphbunker 10:37 AM  

Merl Reagle described crossword puzzles as exams with hints. I took this puzzle's test without hints and got 41/76. The ones I got wrong show why the hints are necessary (the correct answer is in parentheses):
{Grooming accessory that may be stuck in the hair} HAIRPICK (AFROPICK)
{Federal tax agts.} CPAS (TMEN)
{Genre} KIND (TYPE)
{Societal troubles} WOES (ILLS)
{Batty} NUTS (DAFT)
{Garment draped over the shoulders} CAPE (TOGA)

I didn't attempt to answer 28 "questions".

Details are here.

Kyle 10:37 AM  

I'm bummed out that no one else has mentioned the difficulty in IdEST dOHA. I tried about 20 letters that seemed more likely to me than D.


Maybe IDEST and DOHA are just some of those words that you learn by solving crosswords for longer than I've been doing them.

Ended up with a DNF because ATOMICPOLE makes infinitely more sense if you don't know anything about nuclear power.

Joseph Michael 10:51 AM  

Oscine iomoth
Sops up tuna oil arrays
Sea eels eat daft koi

Z 10:51 AM  

Seeing a lot of PPP complaints so...

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

15 of 76, a very low 20%. The DOHA/AMY POEHLER crossing aside, this is a very fair puzzle regarding PPP. POEHLER starred in a long running hit comedy, has 18 Prime Time Emmys, co-hosted Weekend Update on SNL, was included on Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World, and has made several movies. Her fame in 2017 is at least equal to Omar Sharif's (discounting the Bridge community, of course). Definitely crossworthy, more than AFRO PICK or ATOMIC PILE in my humble opinion. Still, even with the low PPP, crossing an unusually spelled name with a not commonly seen capital seems a little unfair. Not a true natick, but not the fairest for a Tuesday.


@Bill Feeney - Not really. Others here will disagree, but I don't find any conclusive evidence that Rex has anything personal against Shortz. Using sports as an example, I can believe that Albert Pujols is one of the top three hitters of his generation and that giving him a 10-year contract was unwise bordering on firable for the Angel's owner (except you can't fire owners). I do suspect there was a crystallizing event or series of events that caused Rex to stop submitting puzzles to the NYTX, but the notion that Rex has something in for Shortz is speculative.

Nancy 10:52 AM  

@Kyle (10:37) -- You probably do know ID EST, you just may not know that you know ID EST. Every time you read, or perhaps even say "i.e.", ID EST is what it stands for. The phrase means "that is" in Latin; hence, it's "explanatory".

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

@Joseph Michael,
That's very nice.


old timer 11:27 AM  

Artists and art teachers know the names of several different kinds of paper used for sketching, drawing, watercoloring, ETC ETC. we ordinary folks go to the drugstore and buy ART PAPER for our kids.

I thought WS should have sent this one back with instructions to get rid of SEAEELS and TUNAOIL. Other than that a pretty good puzzle.

OFL is probably angry at WS because is puzzle submissions have been rejected in recent years. Though I don't know if OFL is still creating puzzles. When the blog started OFL sometimes had a daily puzzle in the Times and they were good ones as I recall.

Warren Howie Hughes 11:43 AM  

This offering from Timothy Polin, was definitely TTFT (Too Tough for Tuesday) more suited to have been served up on a Friday,to be sure!

ACB 11:47 AM  

wow, hard
Game trailer 2017 - RUiN Gameplay Trailer - Kickstarter Special - Steam game play

Warren Howie Hughes 11:53 AM  

CELLO PACINO and Dear Greater Falls, ARRAYS for Hollywood! OSCINE the Light and AGAVES at the office!

AliasZ 11:57 AM  

Being one who cherishes the occasional off-color reference, I had OSCENE for the longest time, not realizing that there is no ATOMIC PELÉ, even though Edson Arantes do Nascimento must have been called ATOMIC at least once during his career. Then I considered ATOMIC PALE, POLE and PULE, none of which made any less sense than PILE. This turned my SE corner into an ATOMIC PILE of PTUI.

Where is ASSOCIATED PRESS once when you need them?

Well, let's see: Astor Piazzolla, Amilcare Ponchielli, André Previn, Andrzej Panufnik, Allan Pettersson, etc. could all provide appropriate pieces to illustrate today's theme, but I am going with Estonian Arvo Pärt and his magnificent Magnificat.

Happy Tuesday!

Carola 11:59 AM  

I liked learning IO MOTH and OSCINE.

@Numinous, hi from a fellow fan of streaming KUSC!

wgh 12:07 PM  


evil doug 12:12 PM  

If anybody is really interested in ATOMIC PILE background, one of the more fascinating books I ever read was "The Making Of The Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes. The first pile was literally that--a stack of uranium, uranium oxide and graphite built under the stands of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago--eventually coaxed into a chain reaction in 1942.

Alex 12:14 PM  

I had fun with the puzzle (which is why I work crossword puzzles). I would agree with "easy" except for a few crosses that gave me some pause: ID EST/DOHA, OSCINE/ATOMIC PILE, and, briefly (believe it or not) ETCETC/CELLO, as I initially had "etcetera." Without looking at the clues, OAr looked OK. I wondered if an obscure instrument was the aELLO. No big problems, but those few hiccups.

CDilly52 12:15 PM  

OSCINE, ...obscene (for Tuesday)? And I can never spell Amy's surname the first crack out of the box. Then I ran into the pile- ATOMIC PILE. Those were the gopher holes for me. Theme wasn't very exciting but it is only Tuesday; hope springs eternal. Spring has sprung here and I am enjoying beautiful sunny days and the crocus and jonquils are out early so a boring input easy puzzle cannot dampen my spirits.

Pete 12:20 PM  

@Fountains - Yes, yes I do remember laughter - in fact I cherish it. That's why it's so disheartening that it has been totally absent from this and many prior puzzles.

Masked and Anonymous 12:22 PM  

"Inexplicably, @RP went berserk on 21 Feb 2017, jumping all over a harmless NYT-TuesPuz by a very excellent constructioneer named Timothy Polin. Years of professional analysis sessions later, it was revealed that it had all stemmed from a tragic & painful accident that a 6-year-old Michael Sharp had suffered, in aisle 2 [recalled by 2 = Feb, and it was near the TUNA OIL and SEAEELS section]] of the local A&P grocery [recalled by puz theme], when he slipped and fell on a large wad of hocked-up gunk [recalled by PTUI], severely injuring his left big toe [recalled by FOOT] and smashing his favorite toy instrument [recalled by either CELLO or subliminally by a misspelt VOILA]. Coincidentally, the name of the grocery clerk with a phlegm problem had been Tom Pilonithy. That fateful day's puz had been a perfect storm of A&P recalls." (wikialtifacts)

Hey, 8 themers. 9, if U count A-POP. Normally, that's enough to curdle the best of fillin intentions, and produce some absolutely luvly spurts of desperation. Liked the prospects.

staff weeject picks: EDU URL.

fave self-proclaimed desperate looonng (GO,RP) fillins entries:
* Winner, themer division: ATOMICPILE.
* Winner, non-themer division: LESSEE. Honrable mention: ASST.

22 A's and 14 P's. Howsomeever, 18 S's and 18 T's. Soo … SAT TEST!

Thanx, Mr. Polin. M&A is cool with this stuff, as long as no puz dares to recall PEWIT. (17 Sept 2013)

Masked & Anonymo6Us


JC66 12:25 PM  

@ AliasZ

Check out today's LMS avatar

Anoa Bob 12:30 PM  

I thought that an ATOMIC PILE was a move in professional wrassling.

I preview any comment I make that has an html code in it (italics, boldface, web link, e.g.) to make sure it works. Lately this has required some fancy mouse work to get it done. If I see mistakes and then correct them, when I click on the "Publish my comment" button, a nearly blank page comes up telling my that my message has been lost. I've found that if I right-click on that page and then left click "Back" on the resulting menu, I'll get a second page telling me again I'm screwed and all is lost. If I do another right-click and left-click on "Back", I finally return to the original comment page. Then I can correct any mistakes and click on "Publish my comment" and it shows up on the comment page.

Numinous 12:34 PM  

@pmdm, I will defend my analogy because Sundays usually require considerably more time to complete than the other days of the week. By the time one reaches candidacy for an advanced degree, much of the work required will probably seem pretty ordinary. Doing a Sunday puzzle doesn't require any major research projects so I will stick by my analogy based on the time required to do a Sunday puzzle.

Long live the SEA ERLS living in the ocean WARTER.

August West 12:49 PM  

"I personally..."


Leapfinger 12:49 PM  


I never thought I'D CARE About POCs, but I guess @AnoaBob's fetish is at least mildly infectious. Not sure whether 11 POCs is egregiouser than usual; I'll just say that I became first aware of, and then sensitized to, the ascending S-endings.

The early IO MOTH was a nice tie-in with the 10 Charleses of France that we recently had. Because French, I looked up the translation of MOTH, and was surprised that it wasn't more streamlined than papillon de nuit. On the plus side, I just saw Papillon [for the first time] on latelate TV a couple of nights ago, so there's that.

Not sure would the CELLO fain be known as the double bass's smaller cousin...

Complaints about spelling AMY POEHLER? Be glad it wasn't ANTE PAVIC or PAVELIC or some similar name that would have you balking. You know what they say, No Croats, No Amphigorey

Thought that a pretty good Tuesday AP ARRAY provided by answerman Polin ante partum, so thanks.

Off now to listen to some DOHAnanyi.

Charley 1:02 PM  

Am I the only one who's never heard of gorp?

Unknown 1:06 PM  

The first reactor under the stands at the univ of chicage was called a pile, as were other early reactors.

foxaroni 1:11 PM  

Someone once told me that GORP is an acronym for Good Old Raisins and Peanuts. Is that true?

The two non-Tuesday-ish answers for me were "iomoth" and "oscine." "Ptui" was a bit gross. I've never seen or heard of a "hijacker" being called an Air Pirate.

I love "daft":

Are you DAFT? That movie is OSCINE and should be rated X!

Larry Gilstrap 1:34 PM  

OSCINE is a new one to this fledgling birder. Some birders are beyond wonky, sporting high dollar optics and traveling hither and yon in an effort to expand a life list. It's hard to find fault in such a gentle endeavor.

Remember when the need existed for someone called a SPIN doctor? A politician or some other notable would say something stupid or inaccurate or insensitive and then be universally chastised. Now, just give it a few minutes of the sunshine treatment and move on.

Unlike, @Mrs. Smith, I have been known to agonize over typos in this and any other forum while graciously ignoring those made by other.

Larry Gilstrap 1:45 PM  

Seriously, not that clever. "others"

Anoa Bob 1:56 PM  

@Leapfinger, not sure if my interest in the Plural Of Convenience (POC) qualifies as a paraphilia/fetish. I just wanted to bring it into the conversation on how grid gruel, like abbreviations, partials, random Roman numerals, crosswordese, etc., affects a puzzle's overall quality. Any of these used judiciously in an otherwise solid puzzle is unremarkable and above reproach in my book. It's when they are used excessively that they begin to intrude and reduce the puzzle's quality.

Today's offering did lean a little heavily on POCs, especially the two-for-one, cheater square equivalent S at the end of ARK/ARRAY & SNIP/ID. Heartened to see someone else noticed. Good catch on the POC-in-the-middle SOPS UP.

jack 2:00 PM  

For the Star Wars folks out there: have we ever heard our cinnamon-bunned princess referred to as Leia Organa? I thought it a nice bit, as well as tossing in a reference to one of Sir Alec's best-know roles.

Mohair Sam 2:13 PM  

@Charley (1:02) - You're not alone - GORP new to me too. Fortunately my puzzle partner had camped before I civilized her and was aware of the stuff.

RooMonster 2:15 PM  

Hey All !
Liked the puz. I'm a fan of lots of themers. Not terrible fill considering all the constraint. Well, maybe IOMOTH ...

Not much else to say, ot is a TuesPuz after all.


Leapfinger 2:44 PM  

@Anoa Bob, I hope you know I meant 'fetish' in the nicest possible way. Believe me.
If you want to celebrate something but can't quite make a fete of it, you can come close with something fete-ish.

Have to speak up for GORP, which was well-established when I met it [yipes] four decades ago, and is still going strong as ever. GORP was the stuff you packed on climbing trips; at high altitudes (and cool/cold temps) you burn a lot of calories, so the ideal food was calorie-dense, didn't spoil, was relatively lightweight and needed no preparation. Taking your peanut butter straight had some drawbacks (mmphwph), so the mix of nuts, dried fruitbits and chocolate chips/M&Ms was the snack of choice. If for some reason you didn't like GORP, hard cheese.

Nancy 3:44 PM  

@Mohair (2:13) -- "(She) had camped before I civilized her." What an inspired witticism, Mohair. Love it! I discovered my hatred of camping at age 11 at Camp Pinecliffe on my first camping venture, which also turned out to be my last camping venture. In addition to the completely unacceptable bathroom situation, there was the trying to get the guck off the pots and pans by washing them in a cold lake. There was the fruitless search for a section of ground on which to put your sleeping bag that wasn't full of twigs and pebbles and acorns and pine cones. And there was the horrifying and belated realization that, when you turned over in bed, your entire bed turned over with you! Camping may be many things, but I agree with you, Mohair: Civilized is not one of them.

I think I've mentioned it here before, but if you've never seen the hysterical "Jews Don't Camp" song/video on You Tube (the version with a photo of berries) take a look. You'll laugh yourself sick. Unless of course, you like camping. (Hi, @Teedmn.)

jae 3:50 PM  

Medium for me.


Hand up for needing more than one try to spell POEHLER.

Knew ID EST and DOHA only from crosswords.

I used to be more diligent about typos, but now I'm with @lms. The only ones I correct by deleting my comment are grid answer typos.

Pretty smooth grid given the theme density. Liked it.

Nancy 4:07 PM  

Another famous Nancy malapropism -- "guck". A cross between "gunk" and "gook". I think I wanted to say "trying to get the gunk off." One of my most famous previous malapropisms: "The Roxy is a really splush theater" -- a combo of "plush" and "splash". I also remember saying once back in the day: "It's like being alone on a rudderless sea." There have been many more that I no longer remember.. But new ones can pop up at any moment -- I never know.

Mohair Sam 4:11 PM  

@Nancy - Much joy reading your post. Loved the video too. Lady M's family thinks camping is the ultimate vacation, fortunately I've been able to shield our children from the nightmare by periodically erecting a tent in the back yard. When someone once suggested camping to my mother she wondered aloud why anyone would abandon the miracle of the flush toilet.

Forsythia 4:46 PM  

Newbie to participating here! But I have faithfully read (and recommended to many) the site. Just paid to get NYT digital whereas previously I solved in syndication. I told dear hubby it is his birthday gift to me (makes it easy for him)! The deciding factor was that I was happy to contribute to a reputable news org as well as a treat for me. And happy to send $ to Rex today in appreciation.
Per the puzzle of the few times that the revealer helped solve the puzzle for me. But I was not working on paper as I have usually, so that was both enjoyable and a challenge. Oscine needed all the crosses. The puzzle is ALWAYS fun!

Mr. Haney 4:54 PM  

Of course, Mrs. Lisa Douglas, er, Nancy _would_ hate camping.

Churlish Nabob 4:57 PM  

Dr. Haber's arse is so tight that dogs only hear him when he farts.

Mohair Sam 5:23 PM  

@Forsythia - Great name - welcome.

@Mr. Haney - "Lisa Douglas," nice shot.

Numinous 5:23 PM  

I feel a bit sorry for all y'all who don't enjoy camping, you don't know what you're missing. On the other hand, given your arguments, which I do have sympathy for, you do know what you're missing. Alas, my health no longer allows it or I would still be taking off to the nearest wilderness to commune with nature and practice my (what Australians would call) bushcraft as often as possible. I'm even considering making an outdoor fire pit so I can continue to practice my outdoor cooking skills. No propane BBQ for me, I don't regard that as outdoor cooking.

Some of my fondest memories involve waking in the middle of the night and seeing stars to the tenth power more than can ever be seen in the city. Then there is the satisfaction in knowing that one can take care of oneself when there isn't a flush toilet within a hundred miles (not to mention everything else that goes with then). I've found those experiences to be amazingly spiritual.

Orange Is The New Black 5:28 PM  

@Andrew Heinegg:

Hey Andrew. Were yesterday's riots in Sweden current enough for you? All over the Internet and the front pages of many major newspapers today. Where was the NYT on the story? The only thing on their front page about Sweden was more whining about Trump's mention of it. No wonder NYT readers live in a bubble.

Numinous 5:41 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sherm Reinhardt 5:49 PM  

Almost a personal best for Tuesday and would have been if I had remembered that trail mix is GORP not GARP. The last time I heard the word GORP was in 1972. GARP is something else from long ago as well, though.

Numinous 5:52 PM  

@Carola, Dennis Bartel rocks. Speaking of pedantry, Jim Svejda used to really annoy me but now I enjoy his program. I guess I got over it. . I've been a contributor to Kusc off and on for forty years. I can recall a time before they broadcasted 24 hours a day. Here's to the best classical music radio station in the United States.

If you like jazz at all, I reckon the Australian Broadcasting Commission has the best jazz station in the world. No commercials and virtually no self-promotion. It's easily found on the TuneIn app and many others, I'm sure.

Carola 6:32 PM  

@Numinous, not so long ago, I'd assumed that all public radio stations were alike, or more exactly, that Wisconsin Public Radio's classical music offerings were as good as any. Travels and the advent of streaming taught me otherwise. KUSC was a revelation. Thanks for the jazz tip.

Guy who knows how to read 7:11 PM  

@Orange Hit refresh The rioting has been there on the front page since 4:00.

Anonymous Guy who knows how to read 7:34 PM  

@Orange - Sorry, since 3:11 PM. But you know, facts.

Anonymous 7:50 PM  

Love you, Reader Guy, even though you're tilting at windmills.

Aketi 7:59 PM  

@Anoa Bob, loved your comment.

Orange Is The New Black 8:07 PM  

@ Guy who knows how to read @7:11
@ Guy who knows how to read @7:34

Refresh my page? This info was all over the place when I logged on at 7:30 AM EST. Are you saying I'm supposed to be impressed because the NYT was obviously shamed into rolling out a story at 3:11 PM?


Z 8:30 PM  

@Anoa Bob - Easier method - "Select All" "Copy" "Preview". Then Back Button, refresh page, "paste" and edit any mistakes. Still far too much folderol for a function that used to work.

@Larry Gilstrap - Don't let her fool you. A certain someone has been known to delete one or even two posts fixing typos.

@Forsythia - Welcome.

@I'm an orange Pigeon- These riots? Or these? Or maybe it is this immigrant that worries you or this one, or these guys.*

*Seriously - this last one is the perfect encapsulation of the entire debate and funny too.

Andrew Heinegg 8:39 PM  

You are determined to adjust the facts to suit your political leanings. Here are the irrefutable facts. Trump made a speech in which he referred to the trouble in Sweden from the night before. There was no trouble in Sweden the night before. Trump was either lying or he had done a poor job of watching the Fox program regarding the riots/trouble some 4 years ago.

Now, there was a riot in the immigrant section of Sweden yesterday. That does not make Trump's misstatement/lie about their being a riot in Sweden the night before any less of a misstatement/lie when it was made.

BTW, I am personally enjoying Trump's hypocrisy in his first month of office.
He criticized Obama repeatedly for spending too much money on trips/vacations (an average of $10 million a year) and for playing too much golf (Obama played 100 rounds of golf in 8 years in office).In fact his exact quote is/was:"I am going to be working for you, I am not going to have time to go play golf".

In his first month in office, he has spent $10 million in trips and has played six rounds of golf which, if he continues at the same pace will be $120 million a year for travel and 72 rounds of golf in a year. His staff keeps insisting that he just:'played a few holes'.

But, all of the above is only the facts. And it is not the end of the world if he takes a lot of trips and golf's a lot. It would just be nice if he would just fess up once in a while and not tell so many lies and be so upsetting to us sensitive liberal types.

Oange Is The New Black 9:03 PM  


Spin it any way you want Z. If you want to justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior, have at it. It's called cherry picking. Bottom line is this. Sweden accepted 80,000 Muslim immigrants in 2014. That figure climbed to 160,000+ in 2015. In 2016, Sweden dropped their allowable inflow to 25,000. This year ZERO as of now.

Ya think maybe they rethought the issue?

@Andrew: Doesn't matter. Weather the president was responding to a news report or not, it does not negate the fact that he was correct in pointing out that Scandinavia is realizing that they have a huge problem with the influx of Muslim immigrants.

As for hypocrisy, please spare me. No one is better at that game than liberals. You really want to start comparing lies from the current and past administrations! Seriously? That's the best laugh I've had today!

Andrew Heinegg 9:19 PM  

Okay, I get it. If he lies and clearly knows or should know that he is lying, it is okay because he is using his lies to illustrate a problem he sees another country is having.

As for the hypocrisy part, I note that you don't deny that Trump said those things and then did the opposite the instant he got into office. If you are the Fuhrer, you can say or do whatever you please. Is that it?

Mark Peters 9:19 PM  

The clue for art paper should have been something like: "DaVinci essay".

Anonymous 9:25 PM  

Liberal fascism is on the rise. Treasure free speech people.

Orange Is The New Black 9:43 PM  


Seriously Andrew, I have better things to do with my time than play this game with you. Don't try and be cutesy, because I know you aren't that nescient.

Bottom line is that all politicians are mendacious. They exaggerate, obfuscate, engage in double-speak, prevaricate by omission, or just flat out fucking lie!

I'm not going to give you the satisfaction of wasting my time by going all the way back to the beginnings of Obama's administration and listing every piece of bullshit that he try to sell America.

All things said and done, President Trump is in the drivers seat for the next 47 months. You don't have to like it, but you have to live with it. That's your problem, not mine. I personally don't give a rat's ass how much he upsets you. I know that you are not afraid that President Trump will fail. Truth is, (if you will admit it to yourself) you're totally terrified that he will succeed!

Have a nice evening.

Anonymous 9:43 PM  

Freedom of speech is freedom of the speech you hate. Please understand that. David Duke, Milo, Al Sharpton, and Rex Parker (raise your hands if you like like the Oxford comma), should be able to say whatever the F they want.

Mohair Sam 9:59 PM  

@Numinous - Lady M told me to let you know she loved your 5:23 post.

Read and learn 10:44 PM  

@ Andrew Heinegg- So you do admit there are problems in Sweden. Good first step.

Read and learn 10:59 PM  

Oh, and Andrew-
Huffington post June 2016- Close to 100 million dollars on African vacation.

Churlish Nabob 11:00 PM  

did anyone notice that Shortz absolutely killed Michael a few days ago?

Oldflappyfrommississappy 11:01 PM  

LOL, yass yass Shortz absolutely spanked OFL!!!

Numinous 11:15 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Numinous 11:23 PM  

@Mohair Sam, I think I'd really like her family :)

Lack of flush toilets? I've sat in an outhouse with no door over a really deep hole in the ground; always a can of ashes nearby, staring out across two miles of valley floor then up two or three thousand feet to the crests of mountains with snow caps while the temp in the valley was in the mid 80s. I reckon that beats the hell out of staring at a plastic door with a tarnished brass doorknob or at a fiberglass bathtub that really needs to have the soap scum scrubbed away. But it's all relative, we take our pleasures where we find them.

Burma Shave 10:31 AM  


ATPRESENT I’VE been SETUP with LACY LEIA, she’s fine,
I get ARRAYS for the KOI TYPE, LESSEE if it’s OSCINE.


spacecraft 12:00 PM  

*sigh* It looks like we have to add another entry in our "random" dictionary: the RAT (random aptitude test). But I should be getting used to initialitis by now; certainly this puzzle is an example of a severely advanced case--in fact, it should have been diagnosed terminal and sent back. LSATS TMEN OTC DCAREA URL PDF, ETCETC...and yet, IDEST is written out. Go figure. (I didn't include IDS as clued.) And let us add another expression to the WAY overused list: APOP.

There's only one aspect of this one that I liked: I never noticed the theme until the very last word across was filled in--via crosses! Looking back over, yeah of course, but not till then.

Mini Star Wars theme; I was disappointed when on a recent Family Feud game, "Wars" was the #1 answer to "Star ____." What, no love for Trek??? Blasphemy! Anyway, to the DOD. Sorry, AMYPOEHLER, but you're not my type. Too raunchy. Better the great singer Mama Cass ELLIOT, but still better Carrie Fisher as Princess LEIA.

Not my cuppa AGAVES. Bogey.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

The only one that I was not sure of was Doha. But I guessed right. I did the whole puzzle without hints or errors in roughly a half hour.

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

There seems to be no way to win with a Tuesday puzzle. This one was enjoyable to work, with some good challenges...isn't that enough?

rondo 1:13 PM  

Huh. A.P. as in ex-Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, commonly called A.P. Fascinating. Sure it’s Tues-puz and this seems like where the lesser puzzles hang out, but this one seemed quite dull, even for Tuesday.

Learned OSCINE and it’s been a long, lonely, lonely time since GORP. I think green paint takes nicely to ARTPAPER.

I’ve had vodka ALLA penne at Bella Luna in Chicago and it’s quite good. All those TUBED pasta units in quite the cream sauce. I seem to recall they tossed in some peas? or something for appearance. Yum.

A fully spelled out AMYPOEHLER has plenty of yeah babiness.

I’VE never built a puz so maybe shouldn’t complain, but this one did seem to be the dull TYPE.

leftcoastTAM 1:42 PM  

Contra Rex and his idiosyncratic take on this one, I found much to like. Besides, this is a Tuesday puzzle.

There was some crunch from, among others, DOHA, POEHLER (sp.), GORP, IOMOTH, OSCINE, ALLA, and AFROPICK.

Further, there was a nice ARRAY of AP theme answers, albeit mostly on the easy side, but this is at least par for an early week puzzle.

Timothy Polin is no slouch, and I admire his work here and elsewhere.

Diana,LIW 3:37 PM  

I was zipping on thru at a Mondayish clip, but then I got stuck at the end in the mid-west. The D for DOHA was my last letter in. IDEST - oh duh! I solved it, but feelin' kinda stooopid.

Out of curiosity I watched the Will Shortz interview - he really didn't say much about Rex except that he doesn't read him. I've seen Will post, so I guess now and then he gets emails/tweets about something outrageous.

So this palindronist was trying to impress a woman he wanted to date. He explained that he did palindromes! "What's that?" "It's when you spell a word, phrase, or sentence the same backwards and forwards." "Huh?" "Exactly - you got it." Courtesy of the ACTP talent show.

Diana, Lady in Waiting for Crosswords

Used PC Distributor 5:26 AM  

Nice Blog Post !

Blogger 2:03 PM  

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