Early historian of ancient Rome / WED 3-22-17 / Fresh air's opposite / Kid's transport literally / Present location when visiting boondocks / Figure of underground economy / like n r phonetics / brief period in nuclear physics / big brand of kitchen knives

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Constructor: Jeffrey Wechsler

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (theme easy, fill ... ?)

THEME: "literal" depictions of TRI- QUAD- and PENTA- words 

Theme answers:
  • CYCLECYCLECYCLE (3x cycle = tricycle)
  • RANTRANTRANTRANT (4x rant = quadrant)
  • GONGONGONGONGON (5x gon =pentagon) 
Word of the Day: CUTCO (4D: Big brand of kitchen knives) —
Cutco Corporation, formerly Alcas Corporation, is a multi-level marketing company that sells knives. It is the parent company of CUTCO Cutlery Corp., Vector Marketing, KA-BAR Knives and Schilling Forge. Its primary brand is the name Cutco. // The company was founded in 1949 by Alcoa and Case Cutlery (hence "Al-cas") to manufacture knives. The management purchased the company from Alcoa in 1982, and the company acquired Vector Marketing Corporation in 1985. (wikipedia)
• • •

Joyless. Almost literally painful. The theme concept is not clever—I've seen it before. Also, it was transparent. So, nothing fun in figuring out the themers (note that the grid has been made larger to accommodate the central 16-letter answer). So all there is here really is the fill—and extra fill because of the wide grid. And there was not one place on this grid where I was enjoying myself. It's as if the puzzle knew its theme was thin-to-nonexistent, and so it tried to make the clues harder to compensate, but since the fill itself was mostly tiresome, the "hard" (often just awkward) clues just made the whole experience a chore. The offness and vagueness of the clues was what made the solve so unpleasant. [Cold War threat] for RED CHINA, for instance. A. that's incredibly vague, B. that sounds like a slang term and I see no slang indication in the clue, C. I don't remember this being a "threat." Soooo many more "threats" more closely associated with the Cold War. Further, what is CUTCO? I can tell you it's never been in the NYT before. So ... introduce a marginal knife brand on a Wednesday? Sigh. You should be able to handle your not-hard-to-fill grid better than that.

Hardest part for me was OUT HERE (!??!) (36A: Present location, when visiting the boondocks). Seems much more likely that a *resident* of the "boondocks" would use that phrase when explaining something about the "boondocks" to a condescending asshole visitor she heard using the term "boondocks." "OUT HERE, we value politeness, jerkface." I had NOWHERE in there for a while. Stupid "British" clue on RUMP (28A: ___ steak (British term for a sirloin cut)) meant I could do nothing with RU__ (I know "RUMP steak," but had No idea it was "British"—and there are so many non-British ways to clue RUMP, ugh), so that middle got bogged down. Mainly this thing was just a drag. Just an avalanche of stale fill, AVER SETTO ANO ALI REA ITRY OVA ESL UNIS APACE ADO etc.

Finally, I think there is a really bad editing error at the 10A/10D crossing (10A: Figure of the underground economy? (MINER) / 10D: Brief period in nuclear physics: Abbr. (MSEC). If I get a "brief period" in a science clue, that answer is going to be NSEC. Always. I accept that there are other SECs, but you're gonna have to prove it to me in the crosses. Only here ... NINER works perfectly (esp. in a "?" clue). I figured a NINER was slang for a Forty-Niner (because, in football, *it is*). And the Forty-Niners were ... miners, so ... NSEC / NINER. I do not accept that that's wrong. So the editing here is ugh. Just ugh. Not as bad as the horrible editing involved in the E-CLASS / E.C. SEGAR crossing a few days ago, but bad. Bad. Negligent.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:53 AM  

Once again I have to speak up for the people who haven’t solved nearly as many puzzles as Rex. I’ve never seen this concept. I even checked XwordInfo to see if some kind of AGENTAGENT BARRELBARREL JEOPARDYJEOPARDY puzzle has been done. There may be one, but I didn’t see it.

So…. When I finally saw GONGONGONGONGON, I laughed. Fun. And it just looks so darn funny. GONGONGONGONGON is worth the price of admission. I loved this.

With this theme,I couldn’t help but notice UNI-S– maybe the logo thingy on Superman’s chest?

RANTRANTRANTRANT – yeah, well, there is a lot of that here in Rexworld.

Have to agree on the CUTCO entry, even though I have a Cutco knife and cutting board. I couldn’t come up with it, and with ODETS and ENSLER – I had a dnf. Tough crosses, those.

Oh – and I had the same thoughts on the MINER/”niner” deal.

I’m scrambling to put together sub plans for Friday since I’ll be going to the ACPT. “BRACE yourself” is how the notes for my 7th period start. Lots of gifted, inventive class disrupters. Not evil – just tired and done with their school day. It should be illegal to schedule any English class in the last slot of the day.

Loren Smith, reporting live from OUT HERE in the boonies of Burning Springs, WV.

Back to you, Rex.

Lewis 6:55 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
pauer 7:10 AM  

@LMS Here's one: http://www.cruciverb.com/data.php?op=showpuzzle&puzzle_id=15271 I'm sure there are others, but I liked the twist of using prefixes, which seemed novel to me.

Tried GINSU before CUTCO, which I actually sold for a week or two during college. Their practices and business model are ... questionable, but I seem to recall being made to buy an expensive set of knives to do demos with, then being told to trust that the product would sell itself. Once I'd gotten some pity purchases from relatives, my career in sales came to an abrupt halt. This article I read recently echoed my experience: http://www.avclub.com/article/invasive-manipulative-art-selling-knives-door-door-242995

Billy Shakes 7:11 AM  

Act I, scene VII, Macbeth:

LADY MACBETH: What beast was't, then,
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it, then you were a man;
And, to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man. Nor time nor place
Did then adhere, and yet you would make both:
They have made themselves, and that their fitness now
Does unmake you. I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums,
And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.

MACBETH: If we should fail?

But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep--
Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey
Soundly invite him--his two chamberlains
Will I with wine and wassail so convince
That memory, the warder of the brain,
Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason
A limbeck only: when in swinish sleep
Their drenched natures lie as in a death,
What cannot you and I perform upon
The unguarded Duncan? what not put upon
His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt
Of our great quell?

MACBETH: Bring forth men-children only;
For thy undaunted mettle should compose
Nothing but males. Will it not be received,
When we have mark'd with blood those sleepy two
Of his own chamber and used their very daggers,
That they have done't?

LADY MACBETH: Who dares receive it other,
As we shall make our griefs and clamour roar
Upon his death?

MACBETH: I am settled, and bend up
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
Away, and mock the time with fairest show:
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.

evil doug 7:12 AM  

NSEC/NINER and never thought of a different answer. Kind of a mini-reprise of the BOB DOLE/CLINTON puzzle? Well, no....

Kinda like EVOLVE and its dual vees, ANOMIE,and the MONO/TWIN+CROC/ANACONDA combos.

RED CHINA scared the hell out of me. Some scientist calculated that all Mao had to do was get his entire populace to jump off a chair at the same time and the shock wave would have wiped us out.

kitshef 7:14 AM  

First of all, brilliant theme and some brilliant cluing ('Secret application, perhaps' comes to mind).

Played Saturdayish for me. Part of that was getting the theme. But then there was CUTCO (???) paralleling ENSLER (?) and BRO (which could have been a lot of things e.g. MAN, MON, BUD, GUY), crossed by the tricky fresh air and vague BRACE, and ODETS without a first name to make it a gimme.

So, that top left corner alone took a lot of checkingchecking to get it right.

My favorite puzzle in quite some time.

Z 7:15 AM  

The Cold War was with the Soviet Union. We faught two hot wars with Chinese surrogates, North Korea and North Vietnam. So Rex is right for the wrong reason on the RED CHINA clue.

Hand up for a DNF at nINER/nSEC. Until an atomic scientist comes here and explains well why nSEC is not a brief period in nuclear physics I agree with Rex: Fail. This puzzle does not have a single correct solution.

@Muse - 7th period? Break out the top hat and cane.

Anonymous 7:17 AM  

But nINERs were above-ground MINERs...

Oren 7:19 AM  

I'm with Rex - the Miner/Niner thing is unconscionable. CUTCO is a "Big" brand? Where? Relative to Wusthof, Henckels, Global, you name it; google "kitchen knife brands" and find various lists; I didn't find them. LIU cued as a college in Brooklyn and some other town that no one outside NY (and many in it) haven't heard of? SONANT and LIVY on a Wednesday? The theme warranted an "oh, cute", but the cost was exorbitant.

Elle54 7:20 AM  

Cutco bugs me. Coming out of our HS graduation are people handing out flyers for Vector marketing ( Cutco). Make big money this summer! So the kids who don't get a job, work for them. All of a sudden the kids start calling up their friends' parents so they can "practice their sales presentations." The parents feel sorry for them, so they buy a $100 knife. ( the knives are good, though) the kid makes a lot of money until he runs out of parents he knows. Other kids hear how a kid they know made a lot of money. So they try it. But you can only make as much money as you can find parents who will buy it just to be nice and help the kid out.

FPBear 7:24 AM  

Tough cluing, but I liked it. More like a Friday because of the clues.

kitshef 7:28 AM  

Looking at Mr. Wechsler's last NYT puzzle (THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2016), I see I adored that one, too, while Rex was ... Rex.

Forsythia 7:38 AM  

Posted before 6:30 a.m. and no other posts so thought something wasn't working? And mine didn't show, and reposted a couple minutes ago, and still not posted. So not sure why?

Challenging here, DNF on the nINER and I couldn't see it without the reveal. NW was brutal.
Even though I own many Cutco knives, I didn't think the company was known enough to be in the NYT puzzle. A young man in our church in Ohio (thalidomide affected in utero so was missing most of one arm) had a job selling the knives...so we bought a number and have found them great. A friend of my daughters had a summer job selling them (Father a doctor, headed to Brown U)and wanted to do a demo to me. I said I wouldn't buy any (since I bought from this young man) but if she wanted practice, or needed a certain number of demos that week, that she could come. She came, I didn't buy, and she stopped being friends with my daughter!
Of course, none of that has anything to do with the puzzle.

Norm 7:42 AM  

This was a very nice little puzzle. Bottom much easier than the top, where there was a lot of obscure stuff but it all fell into place from the crosses. No complaints.

TomAz 7:43 AM  

I also had NINER/NSEC. I thought that was worse than the ECLASS thing myself.


I am an avid home cook with a good collection of knives, and I have never heard of CUTCO.

not the most artful puzzle.

Glimmerglass 7:45 AM  

Kind of interesting coincidence that GONGONGONGONGON[g] appears on the day Chuck Barris died. According to .ABC news, Barris said that his tombstone would say, "Gonged at last." I agree with the ideas in @Rex's review today, even the alternate NINER solution. I might have toned down the hyperbole a bit, but I always think that. I understand that some readers enjoy Don Rickles-style invective, but I don't.

Mark 8:00 AM  

I really don't understand the complaint that msec should have been nsec. it seems Rex thinks that because nsec is more common in puzzles, that should have been the answer. What kind of reason is that? You want more crosswordese? They are equally legitimate units of time. And while you can maybe stretch the definition and say niner could work in the across, miner is clearly a much better answer. I think Rex didn't like this one just because it was hard in a way he didn't enjoy

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 8:01 AM  

I didn't think it was all *that* awful, but I did think the fact checkers erred by making the Forty-Niners pan for that gold in underground rivers. (Paper and pen solver ... didn't admit it was *my* mistake till I came here.).

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 8:04 AM  

But Bobby Darin was fun ....helped ease my pain!

wgh 8:06 AM  

Wednesday, my a$$...

Andrea 8:16 AM  

I own Cutco knives. They're pretty good. I've had them for over eight years and when they need to be resharpened or replaced if broken, you send them back and they'll returned them sharpened and complete.

This was a fun puzzle.

Andrea 8:17 AM  


Anonymous 8:24 AM  

Thank goodness for Rex's blog! As a relative newbie, I had absolutely no idea what the theme was. I could see that I had to repeat a certain string of letters, and I could recognize "cycle" and "rant," but what the heck was a "gon"? I filled in the rows easily enough once I saw the pattern, but what was the meaning? Enter Rex.

I've clearly got a long, long way to go before I catch on to these puzzles. Sigh.

The Hermit Philosopher 8:26 AM  

Yes, RANTRANTRANTRANT. That's why I read this blog: to see how many ways Rex can rantrantrantrant. *Of course* today's puzzle was "ugh" and the editing "bad/negligent" according to the Ranter-in-Chief. Everything he doesn't do is bad and ugh, especially when it comes from Will Shortz, for whom Rex has a serious resentment.

Get over yourself, Rex! Try enjoying life a little. (OMG he must be horrible to live with!)

Birchbark 8:30 AM  

My town is population <700, a beautiful, friendly place I affectionately describe as the boondocks or the middle of nowhere. So started with "nowhere," then "not here," and finally got to "out here" via crosses. Justified my fail on nsec/msec along the same Niners = Miners lines discussed above, but agree that in real life msec is just as common and miners is the better answer. Wrongly figured the mistake was at Cutco, which is unfamiliar.

Arlene 8:31 AM  

I enjoyed this theme - don't recall seeing it before. Also agree about NSEC and NINER.
And I also bought Cutco knives as a friend of a parent - steak knives (serrated) - 20 years ago - use daily (for other than steak) - wash in dishwasher - and they're actually pretty much as good as new!

Rach 8:47 AM  

I enjoyed the theme well enough but had all the issues with the fill that you mentioned.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Rex harsh criticism of today's puzzle is unjustified and unbalanced IMHO. So what if the concept has been done before? And why was it sin to have a 16 across grid?
For me it was a cleverly executed and original theme.
While gradually filling the squares I had no idea what the repetitive GON and RANT meant. I filled the entire grid until I finally grasped the connection between CYCLE and "literal" in the cluing. A true aha moment and then repeated twice more.

L 8:49 AM  

I had the exact same reaction when I saw GONG.

Rique Beleza 8:52 AM  

Just want to go on the record as having liked this theme. Big smile when I figured out the trick. My Stats page tells me I have solved nearly seven hundred of puzzles, yet I found the theme fresh.

It should be obvious that miners are underground and 'niners (whether gold-panners, footballers or mountain bikes) are topside.

We're all a little tired of Rex going out of his way to dis Will. A lot tired. Why is it so personal - did he hook up with your gal?

I would not want someone who goes through such mercurial mood swings grading my term paper....

L 8:54 AM  

I didn't like this puzzle at all...especially on a Wednesday. But let me shill for Cutco for a MSEC (and not the NSEC I had down) - I sat for the presentation as a favor to my son's friend (I'm guessing that's why everyone subjects themselves to this torture?). I bought a few knives to support the kid. Let me tell you, they're really terrific. I'm an avid home cook and already own top quality knives. The Cutco knives are excellent. So if you have to help out a college kid trying to make a few bucks, sit through the shpiel and buy 2-3 good knives. You won't regret it.

Lewis 8:56 AM  

Some are gonna hate, some are gonna love. This one hit my joy button. Devilish cluing, fantastic theme, fantastic fight. And an amazing aha moment. Thank you for this, Jeffrey!

Suzy 8:58 AM  

I liked it-- Cutco was a gimme, not so much Red China, the only really bad clue. Miner/msec made sense to me.
And if it's not Godot, it has to be Odets or Agee or Inge-- take your oick!

Nancy 9:00 AM  

Oh, joy!!! A challenging Thursday-ish puzzle on a Wednesday. What could be better?A clever, unusual theme. Non-theme answers that were far from gimmes. Much thinking required. In fact...

When I got to 39A (even though I'd already parsed out triCYCLE) and filled in RANTRANTRANTRANT, I stared at my answer...and stared...and stared.(STARESTARESTARE?) What on earth was fourRANTS? (I can be a little slow sometimes.) Finally, it came to me. So that by the time I got to pentaGON, I was in the KNOW.

I just loved this, and like Loren, I've never seen any puzzle like it before. Terrific and terrifically entertaining. Thanks, Jeffrey.

ArtO 9:08 AM  

Totally agree with OFL. Cluing Friday-ish. Once you get the theme and a few letters they fill in automatically but the cluing - UGH!

Not a pleasant experience. Like others was left with NINER/NSEC since never heard of MSEC.

A Grimwade 9:13 AM  

A MSEC is incredibly slow in nuclear physics and just does not exist as a common unit -- even NSEC, which is a million times shorter, is not particularly fast. A Caesium atom in an atomic clock, vibrates at over 9 trillion times per second = 9 times per PSEC.

They measure speed skating records in MSEC -- not exactly nuclear physics

Unknown 9:20 AM  

Does anything of interest in nuclear physics happen in a scale measured by milliseconds? Even if it does, wouldn't this be the longest periods in that realm? It's not just that nanoseconds (abbreviated unconventionally) is more familiar crosswordese, but milliseconds (abbreviated unconventionally) isn't really a "brief period in nuclear physics"--it's quite a long period.

Unknown 9:21 AM  

Sorry--I didn't see Mr. Grimwade's post making essentially the same point.

GHarris 9:26 AM  

Strongly second what @mark said. This was challenging yet fun and I will not allow picayune nitpicking to dilute the satisfaction derived from a successful and relatively swift completion.

Unknown 9:30 AM  

Here’s what happened to me in the northeast.

First ITRY nINER/nSEC, big ERROR. I REREAD the clue. I CYCLE through the alphabet trying to STAVE off the 10 minute mark. Thoughts EVOLVE I change the N to an M and ding, ding ding, it’s OVA!

HumanBean 9:31 AM  

I'm with Rex on this one! It was a total slog for me, unenjoyable. After three passes through the grid with hardly any answers ( except Cutco, miraculously!) I gave up. Ugh! It really fills me with glee when Rex hates a puzzle as much as I do, lol! ��

Arna D 9:34 AM  

I also had "nowhere" (as "in the middle of") for boondocks. I actually misread the real answer as "out there", which I've never seen used as meaning anything but "very strange or unusual". "Out here" is just plain dumb.

Being interested in words doesn't absolve one of the responsibility to have at least some knowledge of science. If you're going to talk about short periods of time in nuclear physics, "msec" doesn't cut it at all. That's practically an eternity.

Hartley70 9:36 AM  

Since so many of us appear to have a Cutco knife in the kitchen, we've put paid to the idea that this entry was too obscure. I agree that the knives, little spatula, pie server and flat cake server I own are quality, dishwasher safe utensils. But fifteen years later my arm still hurts from the sentimental twisting that caused me to shell out that crazy amount of money for each one. Every summer I would dread the telephone calls from sweet high school students I had known since nursery school asking if they could stop by to see me to "practice" their sales pitch. Every time I fell victim to the emotional extortion. Girl Scout cookies are a pleasure to buy compared to knives. I'll take 5 boxes of thin mints for the "freezer", please. Girls, where can I find a scout? Today. Right now!!

How dumb did I feel when I looked at the repeated entries and went "huh"? This was a pretty neat and insanely obvious theme that I didn't see for quite a while after completing the puzzle. I loved the head slap moment.

I put MINER in right away and didn't worry about the M. REDCHINA felt "just right" because my father was convinced in the 50s and 60s that the Russians would never be a significant Cold War problem to the U.S. and the real threat would come years later from REDCHINA. It became a regular dinner time theme of my childhood.

I rate this a medium Wednesday for the difficulty and good fun for the memories.

Lojman 9:51 AM  

Agree. Smiled and chuckled at the theme, but once one themer was in the other two fell instantly. Then, the fill. Did not like the fill. ODETS, CUTCO, ENSLER did me in in the NW. MINER seemed more obvious, but NSEC is far more appropriate.

Which reminds me of a joke (modified for this puzzle): why do nuclear physicists make terrible lovers? Because they think 3,000 milliseconds is a really long time.


Isandxan 9:52 AM  

Liked the theme better than Rex, but agree with everything on the fill. This really was a joyless solve. I couldn't do much with the north at all until I figured out the theme with RANT, immediately filled in the other two themers, and started knocking out the rest from there. So I guess I liked the theme because I couldn't get traction without it.

Thought the cluing on the fill was just off. There is hard, and then there is just wrong / unfun. Also had nINER / nSEC but finally figured out that was where the "error" was.

This one was like a workout where you still get that sore feeling at the end, but had no fun getting there. All you're left with is the ache.

QuasiMojo 9:52 AM  

Like Irene Cara, I"m "out here" on my own. I do remember when "Red China" was a threat -- albeit, occasionally, an imaginary one. But it was definitely a "thing" as you cruciverbalists say. So I don't get Rex's outrage over that clue. It makes perfect sense to me.

I did however make the exact same mistake Rex made. I had NSEC and NINER, although upon further reflection I don't really think of gold diggers as miners. (Or minors, heaven forbid!) So again the PAN is not warranted.

That said, I found this a rather ho-hum puzzle because the moment I got the "Tricycle" gimmick, I just popped in the other long acrosses without even thinking.

I did like BRACE in one corner and a pair of KINGS in the other.

Happy Hump Day everyone!

Charles Flaster 9:59 AM  

Very straightforward due to easy pickins' on the theme.
Enjoyed most of the cluing with my favorites being MINER, I TRY, and REREAD.
My CROSSWORDease was VERA and RAE.
How about ANACONDA next to NO LONGER!
Too bad KEN KEN could not have been clued with a "bi" prefix.
Thanks JW

DJG 9:59 AM  


Your description of Cutco is so spot on it made me laugh out loud.

I was *so* jealous of the kids making the "big bucks" selling Cutco out of high school, while I was toiling at some crappy minimum-wage summer job. (I never had the chops for sales.) A year later when they had run out of easy customers and were asking me for an in to my crappy minimum-wage summer job, I was much less jealous.

And CUTCO is definitely crossworthy, IMO.

gzodik 10:03 AM  

Honestly now, how many thought of @Rex when filling in RANTRANTRANTRANT?

Mohair Sam 10:09 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
chefbea 10:11 AM  

tried to do the puzzle...had no idea what the theme was...hated it. and I have never ever heard of cutco knives...none in my kitchen

Stanley Hudson 10:15 AM  

North Vietnam was not a surrogate of RED CHINA. Read up on what Ho Chi Minh said about the Chinese.

Mohair Sam 10:18 AM  

First time I've finished a puzzle and felt ignorant. Never thought of "N"INER and only vaguely wondered why they used "M" instead of NSEC. And never got the theme until we got here - maybe because we thought biCYCLE, never think of tricycles as "transport" - they just went around in circles in the driveway for our kids.

@LMS - Good point about this theme (and others) being new to a lot of us - I don't remember seeing this concept before, and I'm impressed. I'll bet a lot of Times solvers are like Lady M and I - we solve the Times daily and occasionally buy a book of crossword puzzles as a birthday or Christmas present. Will caters to a broad audience.

I have a hunch Eve ENSLER would have us think women were portrayed as weak in film in years past. However, insomnia last night led me to watching a feast of Femme Fatale film noir on Turner Classics. I'd personally like to apologize to any women I've ever offended on this site, I'm deeply sorry.

@Rex - Thanks for the Bobby Darin link. Huge fan here.

Brian 10:27 AM  

Another hand up for having nSEC/nINER. Also Naticked on ODETS/ENSLER. My BA was in linguistics, so I perked up on reading 49-Down, but I ended up basically having to guess on SONANT - I've only ever heard it as "sonorant".

In general, this puzzle got a lot easier once I figured out the theme, but figuring out the theme was hard because of the fill.

RooMonster 10:28 AM  

Hey All !
Argh! I TRY so much. Had the N for nINER/nSEC, but according to Rex and the rest of y'all, it should be correct, so I'm taking it as a complete finish, not my famous one-letter DNF. So there.

Found the fill quite tough for a WedsPuz. CUTCO I realized I knew just from crosswords. Had some writeovers in the S before figuring out theme. sudoku-KENKEN, abutS-NEARS, idea-GIST. Also some in the middle, also before theme clicked, sOlO-MONO, ARc-ART.

@LMS, I've seen this theme type before. I think it was clued differently, though. Once I caught on, the themers filled in quickly. (That last sentence brought to you by MENSA.) Har.

NW corner held me up a bit, the ODETS/ENSLER cross not really tough, the S in inferrible, but still two P's crossing. Clever clue on RERUN, though. Agree with the REDCHINA ughness.

I believe that's my QUAD RANT for today. :-)


Mariaseig 10:33 AM  

Sure. If their quarry grew on trees. The "?" Leaves more than enough wiggle room for NINERS.

GILL I. 10:44 AM  

I LOVED LOVED this puzzle. It was meaty RUMP RIPE. Loved starting with BRACE yourself BRO. Stopped at CUTCO because I must be the only one on this blog who never got a visit from a starving student. Like @Hartley, I was the go-to sap for GS cookies. Yes, MINT!
Also, like @Anony 8:24, I had no idea what the theme was all about Alfie until coming HERE and I'm no newbie - just dumb, I guess.
Hand up for this boonie being NO WHERE/NOT HERE at first and like @evil keeping the NINER/NSEC and not giving a damn. @evil. I'm picturing the "on your mark, get set, JUMP." It would probably work!
I don't know how I forgot ENSLER. "I'm worried about vaginas, what we call them and don't call them." I think I gave up on her when she got to the septuagenarians interview.
I echo the lovers of this puzzle because I TOO never saw this done before and it entertained me.
OVA OVAL and out....

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Another vote for sonorant over sonant from a Master's in linguistics. Guessed Odett first but corrected to Odets. I have a vague memory of having seen a puzzle like this, but still liked this one. I had sudoku before kenken though. The cold war seemed more about Russia than China as I remember it.

Malcolm Gibson 11:05 AM  

Sorry Rex, you've just become too, too much of a curmudgeon. Loved this -- the theme and the fill. Just challenging enough. Lighten up! Have fun! (And I have literally been doing the NYT puzzles for more than 50 years.)

Joseph Michael 11:05 AM  

I did the same thing and have had a Cutco knife ever since!

Katzzz 11:06 AM  

Liked running into a tough Wednesday, liked the tough clues, too.
But "pastas" in delis? The only kind of pasta in a deli is macaroni salad. One pasta. What other pastas are in your deli?

Ted Cole 11:19 AM  

I'm pretty pleased with myself. Liked it a lot.

old timer 11:33 AM  

Not for a MSEC did I think of anything but MINER. Here in California, the forty-niners panned and sluiced but it was a long time before gold was mined underground. And, they weren't ever called "Niners". Every child learns this song: "In a cavern, in a canyon, excavating for a mine, lived a MINER, Forty-Niner and his daughter Clementine. Not a "Niner" but a Forty-Niner.

I do think Joel is falling down on the job, though. Or his boss is. So easy to take a quick glance at Wikipedia and realize how clever and correct it would have been to change the clue to: "Surprisingly, a fairly long time in nuclear physics."

I liked the puzzle for the same reasons @LMS did. I hadn't seen the theme before and was very satisfied when I got to the five GONs -- helped with the solve, too. What I disliked was OUTHERE. The clue was just off, and for no good reason.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

DEA agents are NARCS. Illegal drug traffickers are NARCOS. For some reason, this bothered me more than anything else in this puzzle.

Joseph Michael 11:36 AM  

After reading the comments, I'll consider my N SEC / NINER correct.

But that still leaves me with one stupid mistake. Had ACT of war for 32D and didn't notice that it resulted in OUTHECE for 36A.

Liked the clever theme, though the repetition of words made for some easy solving, KEN KEN, RERUN, REREAD. and TWIN all seem like theme bonuses.

Also liked the relatively tough cluing for a Wednesday, such as that for AEROSOL, ANO, and ERROR.

Since I work in theatre, ODETS and ENSLER were both gimmes and I was glad to see them push the rappers and sports figures aside to each get a moment in the spotlight.

So in answer to your question, Jeffrey, YES, I AM IN.

old timer 11:37 AM  

Oh, in my deli there are two or three kinds of pasta salads, using two or three different pasta shapes.

I don't own any CUTCO knives and knew no kids who sold them. My chef's knives are good quality ones bought as needed from a local cookware store -- actually, one from a store at the mall that used to sell nothing but knives. But my favorite smaller knives are from Henkels. They seem to stay sharp forever and are infinitely useful.

OISK 11:46 AM  

What @ Nancy said. Enjoyed this one very much. I had filled in the three cycles and four rants without understanding them, but the pentagon made all clear, and I chuckled. I find no fault with the fill either. I thought of nsec first, but "miner" was better than "niner," not only because "niners" pan above ground, but also because I would be appalled if some one clued "niner" that way, when a football team is available.

Liked the clue of Aerosol, glad I knew Odets, because I didn't know Ensler, and I own some CUTCO knives. (my nephew sold them for a while).

On the subject of bad clues.....I was on vacation and did not get to rant about a clue a few weeks ago for "COO". ( I DNF that day on LeBoeuf, but that was fair.). The rule should be "Do NOT use an acronym when an actual word supplies the answer. The clue was something like "Second in command in a business." I had C_O. I have heard of CEO, but that is first in command. I eventually guessed COO based on the down clue, but I have never seen that acronym. Chief operating officer?? OK. COO? Phoo!

My choice for a clue so bad (for me) that I still remember it unfondly though it occurred years ago was "Bee's charge." (four letters) Pupa? Comb? Cell? No, the answer was "Opie." A popular TV show I never watched had a character named OPIE. He has occurred in crosswords enough times for me to have a shot if the clue is fair. But Bee's charge? Among my all-time worst.

But I want to close on a positive note! I really enjoyed today's puzzle, and yesterdays. Nice job Mr. Wechsler.

mathgent 11:49 AM  

The 49ers are almost always referred to as prospectors, not miners. Their activity was panning for gold in rivers and creeks. Above ground. The clue calls for someone in the "underground economy."

It seems like reaching to say that MSEC is not a brief period in nuclear physics. It's a thousand of a second. I'll buy it if it's true that that unit is never used in nuclear physics, as a previous commenter seemed to say, So the NINER/NSEC cross is correct only if you are a close student of nuclear physics, which excludes most of us including Rex.

Thanks to @Billy Shakes for the quote from Macbeth.

I seem to remember doing a puzzle with this gimmick before, but twice in fifty years doesn't seem excessive.

I was hoping that someone would give us some information on SONANTS.

I liked it very much. My favorite clue was "Figure in the underground economy?" for MINER.

r.alphbunker 11:55 AM  

KENKEN = toucan?

Fortunately I didn't think of NINERS because, like others, I thought msec was an eternity to a nuclear physicist (as it is to a computer scientist).

Details are here.

Võ Nguyên Giáp 12:28 PM  

@Stanley Hudson. Don't bother. In the same way as Mr. Trump, the man just doubles down when challenged or questioned. It's not about truth. It's about not being proven wrong.

Joe Bleaux 12:43 PM  

Not finding an obvious toe-hold, I started with the South central IGAVE, AVER, and its neighboring anagram, VERA. Working upward, I got the theme with GONGON, thought "Aha! Clever!" and immediately filled in the RANTS and CYCLES, which made the rest of the solve relatively easy. I finished in the NW, where I hadn't been able to start. Never heard of CUTCO, didn't blink at MINER or MSEC (clued, remember, as "brief" period), OUTHERE was my first thought. As one of the Anons above noted, though, a NARCO is a thoroughly bad hombre (check out "Narcos" on Netflix), not a DEA agent. @Rex, thanks for the Darin. And speaking of OFL, I still don't understand why so many folks get so exercised over his cantankerousness, which I read with bemusement while appreciating his expertise. (And I doubt if Shortz gives a damn what Rex says, or Rex gives a damn whether Shortz does or not).

LeAnne 12:59 PM  

I liked this puzzle!!!!

Chip Hilton 1:00 PM  

@Mark, @old timer, @mathgent and others: I'm with you. A "figure of the underground economy" led to MINER. I never even considered nINER because, to me, they worked above ground, panning in streams. And MSEC certainly made sense when I checked the intersection. Case closed.

The triCYCLEs fell pretty easily, bringing down the theme, which I enjoyed. The fill, otherwise, wasn't thrilling, but, for a Wednesday, this provided some resistance and challenge. So, I'll go with a luke warm thumb's up.

Hartley70 1:07 PM  

@Laurence Katz....My deli isn't even Italian and in addition to Macaroni Salad they stock a Tricolor Fusilli Salad, a Rigatoni, Basil and tomato Salad, and 2 varieties of Orzo salad, one with peas and another with kalamata olives. And that doesn't include a daily special or two and I don't live in a big city.

Masked and Anonymous 1:14 PM  

har. @Charles Flaster & @r.alph: yep. They owe us one KENKEN themer clue. @r.alph's desperate {Toucan??} clue is certainly desperate enough to be serviceable, here. Other M&A Desperation"R"Us faves:
* {Doin' the Tour de France, literally??}.
* {Eatin' Twinkies, slangily, literally??].
* {Buildin' levees, literally??}.

Neat WedPuz. 15x16 grid, a fact @RP snuck in between grouchfests -- more for yer money. Almost-awesome vertical sidestacks of loong answers, except for them (necessary) single black squares before CYCLE1 and after GON5. Six of somethin woulda been a cool themer; fave: POTPOTPOTPOTPOTPOT. But … EDEDEDEDEDED woulda fit, much better.

Real vaguely knew CUTCO, altho like @PB2, tried GINSU outta the chute. Knew both ENSLER and ODETS, too -- soo … no problemo gettin started in the NW, {Dude!}.

staff weeject pick: LIU. OUTHERE, us folks don't know our New York campuses all that well, soo we'all went with NYU for way too long. Is LI=LongIsland?


Thanx for the funfunfunfunfunfun, Mr. Wechsler.

Masked @ Anonymo5Us


Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Well, an item of interest to nuclear physicist might be the half life of Uranium 235. That's 700 million years. They don't only concern themselves with pico seconds. This still doesn't get us to milliseconds though.

Nancy 1:17 PM  

Wow! Pasta-wise, what an amazing deli!

Mohair Sam 1:18 PM  

@Hartley (1:07) - Hear, hear! Can you say tortellini?

Anoa Bob 1:24 PM  

Cute trick although, yeah, once the code was broken, the themers sort of filled themselves in and I went looking for other points of interest. The fill seemed a tad mundane, given the relatively low number of themers and theme squares. Noticed lots of RE-s, -ERs -EDs, and POCs.

42 Down did call to mind the classic and ultra classy rap music video "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-A-LOT with the unforgettable line "My ANACONDA don't want none unless you got buns hun." Also appearing in the libretto is 28 Across RUMP in the xword worthy "RUMP-O'-Smooth Skin", used for the, erm, derrière. Nice counter-point to the Macbeth thingy above, don't you think.

JC66 1:26 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 1:29 PM  

If you knew enough about the California Gold rush to get past the iconic image of panning for gold in a river bed, you wouldn't dismiss NINER as a member of underground economy. There was more than enough hard-rock mining to justify Niner as an answer.

Oh, did you know Abe Lincoln was a Republican? Apparently most people don't.

JC66 1:30 PM  

I thought the theme was really cool and enjoyed the puzzle overall.

Had MINER first (off the the underground clue), so no problem with MSEC.

Never heard of CUTCO, but ODETS and ENSLER were gimme's.

Had REDscare first. To me the cold war was always USA vs USSR. FWIW, Wikipedia agrees


MattB 1:31 PM  

Regarding the debate on whether nsec or msec are more relevant to nuclear physics: Certainly there's more to consider than just half-lives of elements but it should be noted that on the Wikipedia page for radioactive isotopes, 6 listed have a half-life on the order of nsec, while 33 have one on the order of msec.

jberg 1:44 PM  

@Hartley, my granddaughter would be happy to sell you some cookies; may be too late this year, though. I like them, and I love all the uplifting GS propaganda printed on the packages.

I never questioned NSEC, and decided putting the 'NINERs underground was just crosswordic license. Another advantage of solving on paper (or disadvantage, depending on your point of view) is that you don't have Mr. Happy Pencil letting you know when you are right -- so you get to go with your own honest mistakes.

Never having watched "Dancing with the Stars," I also had AGIng before AGILE. I caught that one, though.

I liked the theme fine -- didn't get it until GON, which helped me realize that my swamp held a CROC, not a fROg, and my crayfish had a CLAW, not a fLAp. Up to then I thought maybe the kid was transported by something like a biological cycle (I had that G there), but not quite like it because of LIVY. So it was nice to see it all fall into place.

Now I just have to learn when you AVow and when you AVER.

No, I do not own a CUTCO knife -- but once you have the CUT, it's kind of an obvious guess.

Did anyone else have piranhas before ANACONDA?

Bill Feeney 1:57 PM  

Am I the only one who looks at GONGONGONGONGON and sees GOING, GOING, GOING, GOING, GONE! Much like my skill in solving this toughy today.

Masked and Anonymous 2:00 PM  

That's "Masked & Anonymo5Us".
And, therefore, more accurately: "fUnfUnfUnfUnfUnfun".

Stale Fill Avalanche Patrick Berry Usage immunity roundup:
AVER - yes
SETTO - no
ANO -a no
ALI - yes
REA - yes
ITRY - no [well, try harder, @PB1]
OVA - yes
ESL - no
UNIS - no
APACE - yes
ADO - yes
ETC - yes
(58.3% yesses)


foxaroni 2:10 PM  

Confidently filled in MAMET for the playwright.

Got the essence of the theme when I saw tri-CYCLE. But the second theme answer caused some problems. I filled in CAST, as in "four" cast. (A graph often shows projections for future sales.) When I finally figured out -RANT, I thought "four rant? What the heck is that?" When QUAD-rant finally appeared, I laughed out loud.

The puzzle seemed exceptionally difficult. More Friday-ish, actually. But a punnish theme with some wicked cluing (looking at you, "fresh air's opposite" and "Secret application, perhaps.") made it very enjoyable. Nice job, Mr. Wechsler.

Moly Shu 2:20 PM  

@AnoaBob, I'm more partial to "I like big butts and I cannot lie". ANACONDA immediately took me there also. Interesting that @Rex had a DNF and blamed it on Will. As we say OUTHERE in the boondocks, who'da thunk.

Foamfollower 2:30 PM  

Now that is some useful information. Seriously.

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

Rex is way off base. Msec is just fine. His tortuous defense of his error is simply an annoying anot annoying bit of hims stamping his feet, sobbing "it's not fair, it's not fair". An amusing tantrum from a little boy who still likes comic books.
His attacks on Mr.Shortz are much less funny. I'd call them alarming. Not only are they increasingly personal, they're getting less and less cogent. If I were Will, I'd be a little worried. Looks like Mr.Sharp's Trump Derangement Syndrome has spread into Shortz-circuits syndrome.

evil doug 2:35 PM  

Big bottom
Big bottom
Talk about mud flaps
My gal's got 'em.
Big bottom
Drive me out of my mind.
How can I leave this behind?
~Spinal Tap

Greg 2:37 PM  

Joyless slog. Could we please have one day in which we don't have two authors or playwrights crossing each other? And I DNF'd because of MSEC/MINER. Had nsec/niner and no idea where I'd gone wrong. Blech.

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

Re: China and Viet Nam...Don't correct @Z. He'll storm off and not post for days!
Oh, wait.... please do!!!

gifcan 2:48 PM  

Hey, @Andy Silverman, I'm starting to look forward to your posts. Very clever.

Stanley Hudson 2:56 PM  

@Vo Nguyen Giap, good advice general. :)

@Anonymous 2:38, protracted war strategy on Rex's blog; I like it.

gifcan 3:05 PM  

I'm struggling on a Wednesday. That's what I said to myself. I finished, though.

I liked the puzzle.

Pete 3:13 PM  

@Stanley Hudson - You're taking the notion of surrogate in much to narrow a frame. Ho Chi Minh was certainly not subservient to the Chinese, and the Chinese had some genuine interest in the viability of North Vietnam as an independent Communist State, but that's not the complete story of the Vietnam conflict. The greater part of the Vietnam conflict was a US vs Communist Expansion, specifically US vs Red China, played out in Vietnam. South Vietnam was the US's surrogate in the larger battle, North Vietnam was China's.

Hungry Mother 3:30 PM  

Eked it out with the same enthusiasm that I used to have for raking leaves in the wind. Nice theme, much of the rest kinda sucked.

puzzle hoarder 3:36 PM  

A lot of NINER whiners today. You made mistake on a crossword puzzle, get over yourself. Why would anyone criticize a puzzle for vague cluing? Isn't that how they're supposed to be clued? Those vague clues gave this Wednesday puzzle an at times end of week resistance. It was needed because every person used as an entry was a gimmie. They were all major crossword retreads and went a long way toward facilitating the solve. Why should I care if someone's seen this done better. If it's new to me it's new. If every Wednesday offered this much challenge I would look forward to them.

Angel City Kid 3:42 PM  

So glad Japanese puzzle was kenken because I have no idea how to spell sudoku or soduku or suduko or whatever it is.

Hungry Mother 3:49 PM  

Found this article: "Nuclear-powered millisecond pulsars and the maximum spin frequency of neutron stars."

Carola 4:08 PM  

I'm over hear with @Rex in Curmudgeon Corner, disgruntled on two counts: the theme was too easy, allowing insta-fill of too much grid real estate (once the three CYCLES and one RANT were in, in went the row of GONs); CYCLE and RANT are words on their own but GON isn't. I'm all for zaniness, but this for me didn't rise above dippy.

CUTCO: could have sword I'd learned from a previous puzzle. Huh.
MINER: I erased nSEC, too unimaginative to think of nINER as a possibility.
RED CHINA: brought back memories of Quemoy and Matsu in the Nixon-Kennedy debates and a 14 year old's fears about going to war with China.

Andrea 5:20 PM  

I thought the same!

Bill L. 6:35 PM  

Had pVs instead of OVA briefly thinking that photovoltaic cells could be "Cells for new generations". In retrospect plural generation(s) should have told me otherwise. Also did not believe NARCOS would be correct for "D.E.A. agents, informally" though maybe "informally" is enough justification. Merriam Webster online doesn't offer a definition and the OED online dictionary defines it as "Narcotics; illegal drugs" and "A drug trafficker or dealer".

Other than that I thought there was a lot of @Carola insta-fill for the themers.

I've had a pair of CUTCO scissors for a loooong time. I don't remember where I got them but it sure wasn't from a teenage salesperson. Agree with other posters - they are high-quality merchandise.

jae 6:35 PM  

Easy-medium for me. Cute amusing theme (@lms et at. I also don't remember seeing it before) a couple of nice long downs, liked it. Plus, it made me briefly consider screw for 1a.

No problems with MSEC, in fact I wrote in SEC and waited for the crosses on the MINER clue. nINER never occurred to me.

travis 7:25 PM  

I kept TREAT in at 1A for way too long, because I really wanted it to be correct.

ScreamingEagle 7:40 PM  

I had the same nINER/nSEC problem. As a scientist, I can say that in nuclear physics it's much more common to be dealing in nanoseconds rather than milliseconds. A millisecond isn't a "brief" period in nuclear physics... that's actually a fairly long time, comparatively.

Both "M" and "N" work perfectly in that square, and "N" actually works better, IMO.

Punctuated equilibrium 9:30 PM  

I've seen the triCYCLE concept before but the other theme answers were new to me. Like ANACONDA, AEROSOL, etc. Had SHOvED before finally going with SHOOED and still wasn't sure CUTCO was a thing. MSEC should simply have been clued as 'brief period' without the nuclear physics reference.

Unknown 10:36 PM  

hungry Mother said:
"Found this article: "Nuclear-powered millisecond pulsars and the maximum spin frequency of neutron stars.""

A millisecond is a very short period of time in astrophysics. But the clue was for a brief period of time in nuclear physics.

Col. Edward Lansdale 11:02 PM  

If the U.S. and Ngo Dinh Diem had only listened to me, we would have won that war!

BarbieBarbie 11:06 PM  

I thought this was fun snd clever. And of course I was thrilled to see KenKen in the puzzle. Because I love KenKen.

bswein99 11:20 PM  

I completely agree with Rex about how tedious this puzzle was, and for me it was even more annoying that it took me a while to figure out the "logic" of the theme. But I'm afraid that "niner" (which I had for a millisec)doesn't work since the California Gold Rush was based on placer mining--panning for gold. They weren't working underground.

Larry Gilstrap 11:28 PM  

A nINER toils underground? The thought lingered in my head for a nSEC. What do I know of physics, or whatever science is being referenced here?

My dad was a MINER in the early 40's near Picher, OK. The government eventually put a fence around the whole town and declared it unfit for human habitation. He did have a few cancer issues later in life, but lived until he was 87 years of age. I suspect there are no plans to revive that industry and make Picher great again.

+wordphan 2:33 AM  

This puzzle is why I support and adore Rex Parker......

Anonymous 3:51 AM  

Only read OFL's review and @lms comment. I admire and enjoy Loren's consistently apt and humorous observations. I also believe Rex's reviews are over the top critical in far too many cases ... but, hey, it's his blog. Got to side with Rex on this one. A forgettable puzzle.

jrstocker 1:00 PM  

DNF. Tried every possibility I could for 1D crossing PBS and CBS. TBS escaped me, and since I had absolutely no idea on CARIOLE, I threw up my hands. Rather enjoyed the rest of it, however.

Anonymous 7:47 PM  

I own a set of Cutco knives! Still, I did not see the answer without about five crosses! I've never thought of Cutco as a serious brand of kitchen knives!

spacecraft 10:59 AM  

Seems enough of us have personal experience with CUTCO that it deserves the "big brand" clue; here's another. My daughter-in-law worked her way through college selling that cutlery. We agreed to let her practice her sales demo on us--and wound up buying a set. Twenty years later we are still using them, and they're as sharp as the day we got 'em. Never had to do a thing to them in all that time.

So that entry was easy for me, but many others weren't. Couldn't get much of anything else in the north. Spotted the "Secret" misdirect and worked outward from the middle with AEROSOL, etc. until finally getting enough of the central gridspanner to realize what was up: a fine aha! moment. From then on things went considerably easier. To rate? How about challenging-->easy, or, I guess, medium.

Yeah, there's some rough fill, but it's not too horrible. I kinda liked the puz. It helps that I never saw this theme before, but really, OFL, you're such a Debbie Downer. Liked the KENKEN lagniappe, though I don't do them; SUDOKU--which fits!--is my poison.

DOD contestants fill the stage, with several ELLENs and GRAYs, but I can't resist the exotic Laila ALI. TKO, baby. Birdie.

Burma Shave 1:30 PM  


you KNOW, those RERUNs we can’t STAVE off from Michael.


rain forest 2:42 PM  

If you bought CUTCO knives from your son's friend, then 4D was a gimme. Also as others have noted, they are excellent.

nINER never occurred to me because 'underground'.

The North provided resistance at first, using up valuable MSECs, but getting the first themer (aha!) was a boon in finishing with aplomb.

I briefly was considering fitting 5 AGONs into 60A but of course, not enough squares. How about AMETER AMETER?? Nah.

Liked it.

leftcoastTAM 2:59 PM  

Resisted the silent TRI, QUAD, and PENTA for a while but then forced to assume them.

The O in the SONANT/ANO cross was the last letter to go in. Its relation to con-sonant finally exposed it.

In the NW, CUTCO and ENSLER were unknowns but crosses helped with those. In the SE, KENKEN another unknown. OUTHERE as clued was nice change of perspective.

Back to the theme: The resulting strings of partials seemed "literally" strained.

All the same (get it?), thought it was challenging, odd, and fun.

rondo 3:07 PM  

I deliberately left it at _SEC until I sussed MINER because ITRY to be somewhat resolute instead of rash. I don’t think much of the forty-nINER work was underground; hacking away and sluicing and/or panning seem to have been preferred methods. So, all of you nSEC people DNF! Thought this would be easy at first, until raVED for LOVED and the dreaded sudoku where KENKEN belonged and a misfire at the beginnings of SONANT; it took far too much time to be a long GON daddy. And for a while I was a real nowHERE man.

Of course the RANTs made me think OFL.

Somebody got tired of yeah baby Lucy LIU and went with that school? Huh. It seems half of the missus’ wardrobe is VERA Wang, and this designer fits the yeah baby bill as well.

Can’t say I LOVED it, but I won’t RANT as some, that long GON line was kinda dumb, but what the heck.

Diana,LIW 5:15 PM  

@BS - too funny, and apt, today.

@Rondo - Never considered nINER, only MINERs are underground.

Didn't get the theme - solved as a themeless, so the puzzle puzzled me. (I mean, I got the repetitions, but not the quad, penta, etc.

Actually, did this puzzle in the Honda service waiting room with the TV blasting some dreadful morning show. So I feel particularly brilliant in solving it.

I always taught my students that admitting an error was the first, and fastest, step toward enlightenment. Don't go blaming someone else if you have the wrong answer.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 6:01 PM  

I agree with you on the Red China answer. Since it is still technically a treat it is misleading in a way. Brawl was a also a tough one. Took about 2 to 3 to look up to finish it.

leftcoastTAM 6:22 PM  

The more I think about that theme, the better I like it.
Better move on to something else, of which there is much.

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