Ancient New Mexican / SAT 4-1-17 / Milieu of FX series Americans / Noted father or son singer / Construction staples

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Constructor: Howard Barkin

Relative difficulty: N/A (not comparable to other Saturdays)

THEME: TWO BY FOURS (55A: Construction staples ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) — themers consist of four squares with two letters apiece:

Theme answers:
  • MI/CH/IG/AN (1A: One of the Great Lakes)
  • TH/IN/MI/NT (29A: Popular cookie)
  • CO/NT/RA/RY (45A: In opposition)
  • HE/LS/IN/KI (64A: Scandinavian capital)
Word of the Day: ANASAZI (4D: Ancient New Mexican) —
The Ancestral Puebloans were an ancient Native American culture that spanned the present-day Four Corners region of the United States, comprising southeastern Utah, northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado.[1] The Ancestral Puebloans are believed to have developed, at least in part, from the Oshara Tradition, who developed from the Picosa culture. [...] In contemporary times, the people and their archaeological culture were referred to as Anasazi for historical purposes. The Navajo, who were not their descendants, called them by this term. Reflecting historic traditions, the term was used to mean "ancient enemies". Contemporary Puebloans do not want this term used. (emph. mine) (wikipedia)
• • •

The world is rife with fraud, now more than ever. The president* is a constant, pathological liar, and the near total saturation of the public sphere by advertising culture ensures that we're soaking in fraud close to 24/7. In short, it is a daily struggle to separate truth from bullshit. This makes April Fools Day redundant garbage. As for this puzzle—it would've been fine if a. it had been published on a Thursday, where it clearly belongs; b. it hadn't tried to get cute with me re: its difficulty—that coy little "GUESS AGAIN" (17A: "Don't give up") and "NO-NOS" (31A: Taking things for granted on April Fools' Day and others) made me, indeed, want to give up; c. it had had the normal 78 words instead of a ridiculous 80, WTF? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me 80 times, why do fools fall in love, fools in love, what a fool believes ... won't get fooled again.

It was hard not to resent this puzzle right off the bat, with its obvious ERIE fake at 1A: One of the Great Lakes. I say "obvious" because it's Saturday, and no Saturday ever handed you a 1-Across that easy in your life. If you're a constant solver like me, you immediately made a squinty / side-eye face at the puzzle, and then tentatively put ERIE in the grid while Fully Expecting it to be Wrong. Soon afterward, that corner was a total bust and I moved on, surprised to find that other parts of the grid had answers that appeared to be "normal" (I weirdly got started at SETTLE / SOL (34A: Not wait for Mr. Right, say / 26D: Fifth in a group of eight), and that's when I saw NONOS and realized what horrible day it was). I first suspected a two-letter-per-square gimmick when I worked my way over to RAIME_, which had just the one square left despite clearly needing an "NT" for completion. Later, back in the NW, IGLESIAS seemed like it had to be right (3D: Noted father-or-son singer). And then finally the [Vase style] dropped and I could see what was going on. Once you get the gimmick, the puzzle isn't hard at all. Wednesday, maybe easy Thursday-level. I don't understand why GINORMOUS is in the middle of this grid (35A: Huuuuuuuuge). Theme position, non-theme answer. Just another wobbly thing about this baby. Again, I like the 2x4 concept fine. Just ... well, see the first paragraph; I explained it all there.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Whoa, here's a recent, *really* good version of this theme by Matt Gaffney.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:15 AM  

Yep, I knew Erie could not be right so I went looking for the reveal clue. TWO BY FOUR went in fairly easily and then it was just a matter of sussing out the theme squares. So, medium for me. SE was the toughest section with STROPHE and SIKH, plus ATTYS clued oddly.

Liking it more than @Rex seems to be my mantra this week. A bit of trickiness is fine with me.

@Rex - nice assortment of fool tunes!

Charles Flaster 12:18 AM  

Liked this Thursday puzzle as it had nothing to do with April Fool's Day. This type of rebus had been executed in a recent WSJ contest puzzle and that is ok with me. The
most challenging facet was figuring where the two for ones were situated.
MING and CHOU were gimmes and I took off from there.
Had a DNF as I never changed PRIdE to PRIZE.
My writeovers were SIN TAX for gIN miX and TRI for unI.
Thanks HB

Brian 12:22 AM  

Opened this up and my thought process went immediately from "hey, this isn't a Saturday grid" to "oh, that's right, April Fools' Day". Would have been interesting if this had looked like a themeless and had a trick buried in it, I might not have been so ready for it to pop up.

Of course, even knowing there was going to be something fishy going on, it took me way too long to figure out what exactly it was. I had all four themers filled in with the obvious (wrong) answers like I was supposed to, so mission accomplished, Howard Barkin. I got the revealer before figuring it out, and I didn't know what it meant, although I knew something rebus-y was going on below it - it had to be PITBULLS, and I was thinking REel. There was the a-ha moment that you want out of a theme, and it opened up the puzzle completely.

All in all, a nice, difficult themed puzzle for me. Not a Saturday, but okay fine it's a "holiday".

kitshef 12:25 AM  

With ERIE and OSLO both fitting nicely, it took a while longer to abandon those. But thinking about SUPERIOR or MICHIGAN got me IGELESIAS, so then I went and looked at OSLO again, and thing started to come together.

But, put in a revealer of PETIT FOURS, which I thought was nifty, and with PERRY in for my rocker Steve the bottom was a mess for a while. Finally pulled everything out and started that section over. 51D and 52D seemed like they had to end in ‘s’, which got me DRESS then RATED and finally that section fell.

Still had problems in the the top left. Took another couple of minutes to just to fill AIRE and VSIX crossing TRI and VEX. AIRE seemed impossible and fully expected a DNF there.

Turned out that was OK, but still had a DNF at ANASAcI/PRIcE. The latter of course fits perfectly. I was vaguely aware that ANASAZI was not used any more, but did not know why or what the current term was. ANASAcI seemed conceivable (turns out it’s Ancestral Puebloans, which would not quite have fit).

So a long, satisfying struggle. Just what a Saturday should be.

Moly Shu 12:31 AM  

DNF that I'm not counting. ANASA?I crossing PRIZE, or in my case PRIcE. ANASAZI ???? Come on.

Unknown 12:34 AM  

After a long struggle I finally figured out it was a rebus puzzle (M AR A Wilson) and now my weekend is shot. Hate hate hate rebus puzzles.

puzzle hoarder 12:34 AM  

I really do not see the forest for the trees when I solve. I completely forgot what day it was even when it was brought up in the clues, even after I'd figured everything out and had a clean grid. This isn't the first rebus Saturday I've done by any means so I didn't think much of it. It wasn't until I had filled in everything as best I could and with the revealers' help that I figured out the rebuses. Because I'm at the firehouse it took another 20 minutes to get all the double letters in. The tablet just makes the whole process a pain in the ass. Great puzzle though. I agree it would have e been much easier if I'd just noticed the obvious. As always I was much too literal in my thinking.

Chim cham 12:35 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chim cham 12:42 AM  

I also started out with the same reaction as Rex (guessing many others did too). There were moments when I kind of turned up my nose at the cluing or the crossing or whatever, but they were usually followed by realizations that absolutely impressed me. Even sneakier than MICHIGAN for Erie was HELSINKI for Oslo. I kept trying to rebus the revealer of the Oslo-single-cell-assumption (sounds like turning point in medical science); but when I finally remembered the word STROPHE and saw the "HE..." I was really frozen in admiration for a couple seconds. I was slowed down by not knowing RASHERS, SAKI, and a couple others, but this was a case of the misdirection being artful enough to provide a fun solve.

Howard B 1:03 AM  

Just so you know how the sausage was made,the original design and intention was to hide a Thursday trick into a Monday-like grid. Some of the content changed in revisions, and ultimately was slotted for the Apr 1 puzzle. Now I like constructing easier puzzles, so this was an intentional change-up.
Figured it would,be polarizing, so love or hate, thanks for making the valiant attempt. I promise that I will be kinder to you next time :)

Carola 1:05 AM  

Like @Rex and others, I took 1A as a booby trap best to be skirted, so I started at ANA x LANAI and gingerly picked my way from there. I didn't catch on to the trick until the last square: I was sure SAKI was right, which made me think of HELSINKI, which in turn reminded me of the WSJ puzzle @Charles Flaster referred to. So I went back up top and wrote in MICHIGAN. Still had to figure out the other rebuses, though, as well as the reveal, and that took a while. I enjoyed matching wits with this one.

@puzzle hoarder, same here on remaining oblivious to the date.

Rachel 1:09 AM  

I figured out it must be a rebus as soon as I read the clue for 3d (noted father-or-son singer) and knew it was most likely IGLESIAS. Figuring out where the rebus squares would appear took a minute though. I was suspicious of "erie" as an answer for 1a, but it would work with IGLESIAS... then I got EERINESS at 25a not too long after, which cemented that 1a must be some other Great Lake (I wonder if it was put in there as a clue to rethink 1a for anyone who might be stuck on it)... Ran into some snags along the way (UNSNARLS over HEXAD held me up for a while), but overall fine.

Anonymous 1:11 AM  

Happy Atheist Day!
Psalm 14:1

Anonymous 1:32 AM  

I would never in a million years classify Steve Earle as a "rocker." Bad clue.

Robin 2:30 AM  

Dunno that I'd call it a Thursday. It was just a weird f'er of a puzzle. Have to agree that entering ERIE at A1 seemed like a trap. Likewise the popular cookie could have been OREO if you didn't have any of the crosses yet.

Can't say that any clue stuck out in a positive way for me except maybe RASHERS for "Strips for breakfast". ANASAZI was a good word although the clue was bit weak.

I have no idea why SIKH might be a guru, and that was the left answer that I figured out.

Not a Guru 3:18 AM  

@Robin - not sure that this helps but it does mention guru a lot

One who calls himself a Sikh of the Guru, the True Guru, shall rise in the early morning hours and meditate on the Lord's Name. Upon arising early in the morning, he is to bathe, and cleanse himself in the pool of nectar. Following the Instructions of the Guru, he is to chant the Name of the Lord, Har, Har. All sins, misdeeds and negativity shall be erased. Then, at the rising of the sun, he is to sing Gurbani; whether sitting down or standing up, he is to meditate on the Lord's Name. One who meditates on my Lord, Har, Har, with every breath and every morsel of food - that GurSikh becomes pleasing to the Guru's Mind. That person, unto whom my Lord and Master is kind and compassionate - upon that GurSikh, the Guru's Teachings are bestowed. Servant Nanak begs for the dust of the feet of that GurSikh, who himself chants the Naam, and inspires others to chant it.

Mike in Mountain View 5:28 AM  

Thanks, Howard. Fell for it. Loved it. Ingenious work on your part. Artfully done.

Loren Muse Smith 6:36 AM  

Every now and then I like a curve-ball on Friday or Saturday. To sniff out the trick and fill in all the rebodes – very satisfying this morning.

Sometimes when a clue seems easy for a Saturday, I hesitate to go all Monday on it, but then I (over)think that it’s a bass-ackwards way of messing with us and decide it’s a dastardly trick to throw us. I filled in “Erie” and “Oslo” fairly confidently but started to rethink things when my beach attire item was gonna begin with the O off “oreo.” So I didn’t fill in “oreo” or “anti” and sat back to rethink things.

@Rachel – yeah, that IGLESIAS led the way for me, too. When I finally put right pair of letters in the right square, I saw MICHIGAN. I got a real kick out of seeing MICHIGAN there where I had had “Erie.”

@Kitshef, @Moly Shu (and @Charles Flaster) – I had “price” for PRIZE, too, and never changed it. "Anasaci" looked fine to me. Tough cross, that.

EMIGRANTS/immigrants, take/bring, come/go – those words whose usage depends on the speaker’s perspective make my head hurt because I always consider the listener’s perspective, too. If I’m talking to someone in HELSINKI about delivering some THIN MINTS, am I taking them (from me toward the listener) or am I bringing them because I’m putting myself in the listener’s place?

Howard, thanks for dropping in. I loved the double entendre of the reveal: “construction staples.” Hah – “oreo,” “Erie,” “Oslo,” and “anti” are all grid construction staples. TWO BY FOURS – building construction staples. I’m with @Mike in Mountain View - very, very nice. April Fools!!

Gotta rush out to Walmart this morning. I try to allow myself an extra hour because when I get there, I help out the employees who’re retrieving carts from the parking lot. Poor guys. I bring along my own little orange vest. Along with the Tootsie Pops I share with them. Makes me feel good all day.

Anonymous 6:38 AM  

Well, at least it wasn't ERIE for Great Lake or OSLO for Scandinavian capital....

...BUT LYES is atrocious---there is no plural of LYE!!! (Single-hockey-stick affirmative? I can't think of a better clue, alas)

Glimmerglass 7:53 AM  

I thought this was a terrific puzzle, both as an April Fool and as a Saturday difficulty puzzle. It took a normal amount of sweat for a Saturday, though for different reasons, and there was an AHA moment when I realized Erie and Oslo were both wrong (you got me, Howard). Strangely, I began to,catch on with RAIMENT, which suggested THIN MINT (before I even considered oreo). The revealer was excellent, but there was still the problem figuring out which four-letter answers were super-rebuses. (Even after I figured Oslo was wrong, I tried euro; MICHIGAN was very late.) This is my favorite kind of April Fool prank. No damage done, except to my ego, and I love getting fooled this way. @Rex, evidently, does not love being,made a fool of, because he has gone to some lengths to excuse himself from being fooled ("I knew it all the time.") SORRY, @Rex, that's just being a poor sport about the "kick me" sign.

Unknown 8:00 AM  

My biggest complaint is that Finland is not part of Scandinavia. Therefore the clue is more than intentionally misleading, it is wrong.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

And a hockey TEAM with only six players is gassed after two minutes of play...

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

If there were justice in this world, we would have seen OCTAD instead of HEXAD.

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

Michael Sharp's middle name is Eeyore. April Fool's?

Passing Shot 8:35 AM  

Since when is a VSIX a "rather powerful engine"? Sixes are pretty standard. On a more general note, I really hated this puzzle but then again, I hate, HATE, /b/HATE/b/ rebuses. Thank you, @Unknown 12:34. I'm with Rex -- in a weary world, I want some order. I do not have the patience ir temperament for a Thursday puzzle on what is supposed to (for me at least) a relaxing (but challenging) solve on a day off from work.

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

I gave up on this one almost from the get-go because I *knew* the actress was "MARA" Wilson but it wouldn't fit. I absolutely detest rebus puzzles and this one was the pits for me. Used the app's "reveal" function to put myself out of my misery for most of the puzzle. But please, can someone explain to me why SOL is the answer to "fifth in a group of eight"? Thanks.

jackj 8:57 AM  

It didn't take me long to figure out that the Great Lake being sought was MICHIGAN, which spawned MING and CHOU and led me to toss the puzzle in the wastebasket.

Unfond memories of the last time Will Shortz decided to play cutesy with a Saturday puzzle triggered my brain's dark side into a cursing dervish and I had to quickly move on.

Many will also remember the "last time" Will sunk so low, which was when he substituted a Puns and Anagrams puzzle for the usual Saturday themeless as a pander to old-time constructor's who had held court for a boring nostalgia week of offerings.

Don't mess with my Saturday themeless, Mr. Shortz!!

Unknown 9:01 AM  

Why is it good to have "the normal 78 words" and "ridiculous" to have 80?

Nettie 9:03 AM  

SOL is fifth in the musical scale, do re mi fa sol la ti do.

I found this puzzle incredibly hard. Although I knew something was up really quickly - I saw 3 down right away and knew it had to be IGLESIAS - I never knew when or where the rebus answers were going to be. TWOBYFOURS was one of the last things I filled in!
I liked GUNNEDIT, and enjoyed the clues for MINOR and PAW.

QuasiMojo 9:04 AM  

Because it was April Fool's Day, I put in "ARAL" instead of "ERIE" right off the bat. I thought the constructor was being coy. But then I figured out the gimmick (which was indeed similar to the WSJ puzzle I did not long ago) and it was smooth sailing, although more of a ferry ride than a cruise. I don't understand "hexad" for hockey team because I thought there were more players permitted. And I don't get "nonos" as having anything to do with the First of April. Can someone enlighten me? I'm a bit thick sometimes.

Alison 9:08 AM  

Fun puzzle. Thanks Howard!

Ted 9:16 AM  

Too many proper nouns.

Couldn't get the themer, so I couldn't crack the puzzle open. Big DNF.

HDTV? VSIX? HEXAD? EARLE? Just a sampling of the WTFs...

Alison 9:18 AM  

Weirdly, I sussed the rebus by *wrongly* thinking the father or son singer was Guthrie. The G got me to Michigan, which revealed Julio and Enrique. Always happy to be reminded of Woodie and Arlo, though

Unknown 9:30 AM  

I do not agree that "trick" puzzles only belong on Thursday. The fact that has become the trope really takes away from the challenge of doing puzzles in general.

That said, this was tougher than most Thursday's for me even after I figured out the trick -- and Ny antenna were up in the NE with clue 1. The cross of 4D and 23A ultimately led to a DNF since I had PRICE and couldn't figure out how it could be anything else.

Blue Stater 9:35 AM  

I'm with Unknown at 12:34 AM: I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate rebus puzzles. They are not crossword puzzles. They do not belong here.

Nancy 9:44 AM  

You can fool me once, but you can't fool me twice in the same two-week period. I just did this puzzle, even though it was by Matt Gaffney and not Howard Barkin. It even had the exact same clue/rebus at 1A. Matt Gaffney fooled me utterly then, and I failed to solve his puzzle, but I was onto the trick today. And the Gaffney puzzle was far more playful in the clues: His 1A reads "That Great Lake you always see in crosswords". (All his trick clues are like that.)

But, look, I'm prepared to be generous. It's said that there's nothing new under the sun and that great minds think alike, so I suppose it's completely possible that Matt and Howard were sitting alone at their respective desks, miles and miles from each other, each working on what they knew would be a puzzle masterpiece, and it just unfortunately worked out this way by the time each of them got published. That must be it. If I hadn't just seen this delightful gimmick, I would have loved, loved, loved this puzzle. Now, the best I can say is that I liked, liked, liked it. (And that this time I solved, solved, solved it.)

Lindsay 9:44 AM  

Howard, I liked your puzzle!

Immediately realized that 1A would not be Erie on a Saturday, so went to the SE corner where I found SAKI/HELSINKI. Proceeded cautiously, but uneventfully, thenceforth.

A true April fool's day here (southern Maine). Snowing & the plows keep rumbling by.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

This was a fun puzzle. Despite being fooled by the seemingly simple theme answers, I didn't grasp the "April Fools" bit until I saw the author's post, so that was also clever.

Wm. C. 10:04 AM  

@Quasi --

On April Fools Day, people often play tricks on unsuspecting friends, leading them on with whopping joke lies.

So you need to be suspicious about questionable things, and habits of "taking things for granted" are big NONOS.

Hungry Mother 10:08 AM  

Just a lot of fun today. I loved the misdirects (erie, oreo, anti, oslo) and the word dicing. This is the kind of puzzle that keeps me coming back for more.

Teedmn 10:09 AM  

Hank Williams Jr. and Sr., Woody and Arlo, sure. IGLESIAS, nope, no idea. This puzzle really needed some proper names that one just knows in order to break through the trick and unfortunately for me, I didn't know MARA from MAe. Like a few here, I finally broke through at RAIMENT. Before that, I had splotches of answers dotting the landscape but no cohesion anywhere except the NE. Once I got the trick, I had fun counting Nordic capitals (Stockholm, Copenhagen, think again) and HOMES lakes.

GUESS AGAIN should have referenced the theme more closely: "If you think this is a normal Saturday, then 17A..."

I have a peculiar (perhaps) habit of solving - since the longer answers are often phrases or things for which I'll need crosses, I often don't even read the clues for those until I get further into the solve; thus, I didn't see the clue for 55A until well into this puzzle, which would have helped me grok that April Fool's Day was playing a role in my difficulties. Funny how my idiosyncrasies of solving rarely help :-).

Count me as another one that Howard Barkin and Will Shortz got today. Thanks!

And @LMS, you had me snickering at your last paragraph. Don't let them take all of your grape Tootsie Pops!

Mary 10:17 AM  

By being *such* an expert, Rex really missed a huge part of this puzzle, which is that ALL of the rebus answers have perfect four-letter answers (Erie, Oreo, anti, Oslo). Really tough for us plebs. Fun after figuring it out, though.

David L. 10:19 AM  

Still looking for the * explanation next to president in the write up?

Blue Stater' 10:22 AM  

Forgot one last point. Helsinki is the capital of Finland. Finns consider themselves to be Nordic, not Scandinavian. So in addition to being befouled by the rebuses, this puzzle contained at least one major factual error. That's what happens when you're concentrating on being a smartypants rather than providing intellectually challenging entertainment. Where do I go to get my money back? Nevermind....

Howard B 10:28 AM  

A Sikh leader has the title of Guru (see Guru Nanak et al.).

Howard B 10:28 AM  

Thanks Mike!

Howard B 10:30 AM  

Musical notes, do re mi fa SOL. :)

GILL I. 10:31 AM  

NO NO S for me. Don't give me a Thursday rebus on Saturday. Please, just don't. And if you do, make me smile and not want to toss it in the waste basket.
The Erie doesn't belong on Saturday - even I know that. Oslo doesn't either. But then again, HELSINKI ???? I already gleaned it was a rebus puzzle from the MICHIGAN answer so when I got to the Scandinavian capital I was trying like mad to figure out why Reykjavik, Stockholm and Copenhagen didn't fit. When did Finland become a Scandinavian country? @Joseph D. I, too, just scratched my head.
Finding the other TWO was the hard part. I was scared they'd pop up all over the place and I wouldn't see them. THIN MINT had to be right because OREO is another OSLO. I knew COLD WAR so Mary CONTRARY showed herself.
Had lots of empty spaces that I just didn't bother to fill. GINORMOUS PEST...Sorry HB. I wish Will had run this on a Thursday - I probably would have loved it.

Howard B 10:31 AM  

The original intent of this puzzle was to be a Thursday puzzle masquerading as a Monday. After designating this for the Apr 1 slot, the clued were toughened up.

Howard B 10:34 AM  

Yep, unfortunate coincidence as you described. And Matt, honestly, is a way better constructor than I on such things :). I am but a relative novice here.

Unknown 10:40 AM  

Adored it! I didn't note the date and was confounded for quite some time, but what joy when it surrendered. The subtleties of the tricky non "construction staples"," as noted by Loren Muse Smith, and the various warnings (GUESS AGAIN, NO NOS), are lovely. Just elegant. As an ATTY myself, I love the clue and the cross with PITBULLS. Thank you Howard B. This might be my favorite puzzle ever. :)

Sarah 10:42 AM  

I knew it had to be a rebus but couldn't figure it out. I think I was in Saturday head, so just wasn't able to go there. Usually Saturdays are satisfying "that was hard but I finished it" crosswords. This was an "I know there's something going on but I have no idea what it is and it's giving me a headache" crossword. Extra treat: came here and felt like an idiot.

GILL I. 10:46 AM  

@Howard B. I'm ALWAYS loathe to pan any puzzle. Damn, they are hard to construct and damn again trying to please the entire crowd.
There was nothing wrong AT ALL with this puzzle (other than the fatal HELSINKI mistake) It should have run on Thursday. Will screwed up.

nunya 10:55 AM  

All that I ever look for in a puzzle is "tough but fair" and this puzzle had it in spades. Great puzzle, Howard B!

QuasiMojo 10:55 AM  

Thank you @Wm C for the explanation. I'm not aware of some governing body or entity judging people's behavior after a joke is pulled on April Fools Day but then I'm always reacting inappropriately -- just call me No No Nanette. :)

OISK 11:01 AM  

DNF because I couldn't finish, because Finland is not Scandinavia. I got everything down to the SE, where OSLO didn't work. It ALMOST worked, putting the double letters in 61 across, with "reel" instead of rein going down, and the double L of bulls. But I knew it was wrong. Stockholm and Copenhagen didn't work, and Helsinki never crossed my mind. It should have, and I shudda haddit, as we say at Aqueduct, but still, the clue is a cheat. Didn't know "Nola" instead of "nole", but guessed anasazi and so I got it. I'd admire the clever construction more did it not contain unnecessarily poor (IMHO) clues. Sure, it is April first, but "nonos"? Come on! "Firm parts" as a clue for "Attys" ? Why?

And yet, I should have let my geographical mind wander just a bit East, and thought of Helsinki. It was gettable. I like this puzzle much more than Rex does, even if it defeated me.

TOCraig 11:01 AM  

Nice puzzle. Love the fact that the constructor is chiming in here.

seanm 11:02 AM  

i quickly realized there had to be a trick, but couldn't get any traction in the top at all. ended up taking me as long as a medium-hard saturday (61 min for me). crazy to me that anyone would think this was "wednesday or easy thursday level". even after i got the revealer it took me too long to figure out what that meant. the non scandinavian HELSINKI was the first to go in, though SAKI and STROPHE were total woes for me, and MING and CHOU didn't come easy either

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Grateful for the HELSINKI flub as it gave me the opportunity to learn something. Had StoRM before SWARM.

Katzzz 11:30 AM  

Oh, c'mon! It's April Fools. So we get something unexpected, intended to mess with solvers heads a little.
As for Helsinki, Finland is considered by many, perhaps most, a Scandinavian country, culturally for sure.
But Steve Earle a rocker? That is wrong. A country-rocker, sure, but rocker alone betrays ignorance of who he is and what he does. And that's on Will.

Nancy 11:31 AM  

Was tied up with a boring tax-related chore and therefore didn't read the comments till just now. I see I had a DNF -- like so many others, I had PRICE instead of PRIZE, and it never occurred to me that it was wrong.

And, Howard, it really is a wonderful puzzle that you should take great pride in. It's just that because I already knew the "punchline", I was robbed of the Aha Moment that I otherwise would have enjoyed. But I can see that most other solvers on this blog have not seen the other, non-NYT puzzle in question and therefore were able to appreciate this one to its fullest.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 11:35 AM  

Oh my gosh I loved this! Not fooling. So proud of myself for figuring it out. I loved the aha moment. But, since I'm a paper and pen dinosaur solver, I'm going to have to waste another piece of paper to copy it over without all the writeovers. I'm keeping this one for to admire awhile! Very nice, tons of fun.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

Liked the puzzle, caught on after RAIMENT. But could someone please explain AIRE for "Rich finish?"? Thanks!

Nancy 11:46 AM  

Anon 11:43 -- Millionaire. Billionaire.

Hartley70 11:49 AM  

Saved by ignorance! HELSINKI seemed pretty Scandinavian to me, but it took me a long, long time to realize this was a rebus. RAIMENT was singing in my ear, "But it's Saturday", kept reverberating in my head. I love a rebus and I love a good trick and this was a winner. Thanks, Howard!

mac 11:58 AM  

Took me way too long, because I was wary of so many clues. Thin mint got me on the right track.
Hand up for Guthrie at 3D.

Anonymous: MillionAIRE, BillionAIRE.

Lewis 11:59 AM  

Yes, we need a new Gridiom for the situation in today's puzzle where we have a Natick word (ANASAZI) crossing a known word, where that known word can legitimately have two answers just by switching the letter that crosses the Natick word (PRICE, PRIZE). It is essentially a Natick while not being a Natick. Or maybe it happens so seldom it doesn't deserve its Gridiom. I think the constructor and editors just didn't see this possibility, which could have been avoiding by giving PRIZE a clue restricted to that word.

Anyway, it felt harder than a Thursday to me, and I liked the April 1 playfulness. And I loved that the four theme answers replaced obvious Monday answers -- that's cute, clever, and smile producing. Good one, Howard!

Gorelick 12:01 PM  

I can't find one reliable reference that categorically states that Finland is *not ever* to be considered part of Scandinavia (although I'm not insenitive to the objections. So I was comfortable with the clue here.

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

Loved it. Thanks for your efforts. Good of you to brave this blog's culture of complaint.

old timer 12:13 PM  

Gave up. Now if I had done that WSJ puzzle, this would have been easy-peasy. MI CH IG AN would have gone right in. And as Howard graciously admits, Matt G did a masterly job with his. But no! Knew ANASAZI had to be right (and if the Pueblans don't like it, too bad). But did not get the trick even after I found TWO BY FOURS.

I am a longtime fan of Steve EARLE. His first big hit was "Guitar Town" and that qualifies him as a "rocker" in my book. I implore you all to Google for his "Galway Girl". It's the essence of EARLEdom. Had the great thrill to see Steve use this at an early-morning soundcheck at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass a few years ago, when Warren Hellman was still alive. Good thing too -- it was impossible to get anywhere near the stage when his actual set came on. In fact if you put in "Galway Girl YouTube" you get a trifecta. Earle singing it live and wild, then the recorded version, then a live version by another singer at a pub in Ireland.

Finland is part of Scandinavia whether they like it or not. In fact, a very large minority are Swedes. Plus, it ain't part of Russia anymore, so where else could they put it but in Scandinavia?

@anon, AIRE as in millionAIRE and billionAIRE.

mathgent 12:22 PM  

I loved it. Absolutely terrific puzzle. It's the third time I've seen rebus chains. Rebus squares, side by side, spelling out a word (e.g. MICHIGAN). I hope to see more of them. They must be very hard to construct.

I can understand people who don't like rebuses (although I love them). But I continue to be mystified by those of us who complain that a puzzle is not appropriate for the day of the week. If Shortz decides to deviate from his arbitrary pattern from time to time, how is that nettlesome? I know we are an older group. Is it a who-moved-my-cheese thing?

Kristy, Mom at large 12:24 PM  

This puzzle made me smile - clean grid, good clues and loved the misdirection theme for the day.

Very fun!

ghostoflectricity 12:26 PM  

I'm sure plenty of people have commented on this ridiculous puzzle, and especially 64A, but I can't let it pass: Oh, so Finland, whose people speak a Finno-Ugric language related to contemporary Hungarian but not to any contemporary Indo-European language, is now part of Scandinavia, because the constructor, Donald-Trump-style, says so, and the editor (Will Shortz), Sean-Spicer-style, signs off on it, so it must be so? I was taught, on pain of severe academic-grade penalty, back in grade-school geography, that Scandinavia consisted of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and related territories (including Greenland), but NOT Finland, ethnically and linguistically distinct from the aforementioned. This is just one of many peeves I have with this inappropriate-for-a-Saturday-I-don't-care-if-it's-April-Fool's-Day mess of a puzzle. Still solved it OK, but hated it.

r.alphbunker 12:31 PM  

41A. {Raiser of awareness, for short} LSD-->PSA
46A. {Guru, maybe} SEER-->SIKH
43D. {Features of Boston accents} ARS-->AHS
19A. {Rather powerful engine} VTEN-->VSIX
47A. {Straightens} UNRAVELS-->UNSNARLS
51D. {Oil qtys.} GALS-->BBLS
15A. {Place for a barbecue} LLANO-->LANAI
31A. {Taking things for granted on April Fools' Day and others} DONTS-->NONOS
36D. {Actress Wilson of "Mrs. Doubtfire"} MAY-->MAE-->MA[RA]
*45A. {In opposition} ANTI-->[CO][NT][RA][RY]
*64A. {Scandinavian capital} OSLO-->[HE][LS][IN][KI]
46D. {Poetic stanza} STROPE-->STROP[HE]
*29A. {Popular cookie} OREO-->[TH][IN][MI][NT]
23A. {Value} PRICE-->PRIZE
*1A. {One of the Great Lakes} ERIE-->URON-->[MI][CH][IG][AN] (ERIE was entered in desperation)
1D. {Vase style} URN-->[MI]NG
6D. {Living ___} ALIE-->WAGE
21A. {Some plants} ALOES-->MOLES

Pretty amazing that the ones marked with asterisks also had Monday easy answers.

Sad story is here.

Joe Bleaux 12:48 PM  

Wowee, Howie! Literal thinking did me in. Talk about Barkin up the wrong tree ...

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

Finland has always been part of Scandanavia . . . April Fools!!!!!! I thought some kind of letter omission was going on rather than a rebus so did not finish. In terms of girl scout cookies, I would consider other types much more popular than thin mints. I think thin mints scored very low in terms of popularity on some recent survey.

Blackbird 1:03 PM  

Incredibly difficult. I knew it was an April Fool's Day quirky puzzle, but didn't catch on, so I cheated and went straight to Rex. Yes, I may disagree with Rex, argue with his attitudes, but he sure is a crossword maven, and has all the answers.

Only theme answer I got on my own was Helsinki. One clue and answer I really liked was 4D. I like the tribute to the Anasazi, the forerunners of the Pueblos, the original first people of what is now the United States. Never heard of "ginormous", and now I'm sorry I came across it. Yuck. Ugly word. Took me a while to understand the answer to 16A, "aire" as "rich finish", until I realized, oh, yes, millionaire, billionaire, zillionaire. Doesn't seem legit to me.

Mohair Sam 1:23 PM  

@Howard B - Do not make excuses to the naysayers - it's friggin' April Fool's Day and your puzzle was great fun. Will Shortz should talk to Pope Gregory's ghost about a reconstruction to make sure April 1 never falls on a Saturday again, that should calm the Rex's out there. Or to paraphrase @Mathgent - they won't have to worry about Will moving their cheese.

Yup, Joined @LMS and a few others with "C" for a "Z" natick dnf at 23A. I loved that each TWOBYFOUR had a four letter gimme misdirect. HELSINKI gripers are right, but you kinda had to be able to figure it out.

HEXAD means six, because I always think sixteen because I coded in HEXADecimal (16 digits) years ago. Showing my age - the first father son singers I thought of were the Sinatra's (seven letters).

Somebody complained about the VSIX clued as a "Rather powerful engine" - you're dating yourself. Maybe not so powerful 50 or 60 years ago, but compared to all the four-bangers on the road today - the VSIX is a "rather" powerful engine.

Lots of fun Howard B - Thanks. And thanks for joining us here.

A Grimwade 1:44 PM  

LYES is just not a word. Some words don't have and cannot be pluralized. E.g. You cannot have SODIUMS

gifcan 2:01 PM  

I agree with the crowd, crossword-familiar answers - erie, oreo, anti, oslo - are mis-directs in an excellent puzzle. It's easier on a Thursday because you look for it on a Thursday. On Saturday it takes you by surprise.

I, too, like the constructor's comments here today. Thank you, Howard B.

GILL I. 2:09 PM  

@mathgent....It's definitely who moved my cheese thing. My head would explode if Mondays were themeless.
I'm friends with a couple of Finns. They NEVER want to be associated with Scandinavia. They will argue till the cows come home. It's a conspiracy to undermine them. They will admit to being Nordic but don't cross their boundaries.
Do we have a Finn in the house?

Lauren 2:15 PM  

If the theme is 2 x 4s, shouldn't all 4 letter acrosses be rebussed? The thinness of the theme drove me nuts!

anon 2:17 PM  

Really fun puzzle, perfect for April 1. Don't be put off by the narcissistic rants of a small minded man consumed by bitterness and envy.

bswein99 2:17 PM  

I appreciate the cute gimmick of messing with the most common four-letter clues on April Fools' Day (though, as Rex rightly points out, every day has felt like the 1st of April since January 20th). But I can't believe the NY Times didn't catch the bonehead clue about the "Scandinavian capital." As any Finn will vociferously tell you, they are NOT Scandinavian. Suome (Finnish) is not an Indo-European language, and the indigenous population is from a different set of ethnic groups than the Scandinavians. "Northern European capital" would have worked just fine and wouldn't have been the kind of silly mistake our current Secretary of State would certainly make. I would expect NYT crossword puzzle constructors to be vastly better versed in international affairs than the current US cabinet.

DJK 2:19 PM  

Damned good puzzle, Howard-- no fooling! And your modesty and sunny humor are welcome here in this often gloomy neck of the woods.

LindaPRmaven 2:26 PM  

Thank you Rex for referencing the March 17 WSJ puzzle. It was Superior (forgotten eight-letter Great Lake?)in every way not to mention more fun.

Having traveled recently in the Four Corners area I did think of Ancient Puebloans when I put in ANASAZI. I know that AP is the politically correct term, but it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. Try saying it several times as I did when I gave a travelogue on my trip. I muffed it more often than not.

Can anyone tell me how a hockey team is composed of only six people? (HEXAD 50A)

Sandy McCroskey 2:35 PM  

Wikipedia: the term "lye" refers to any member of a broad range of metal hydroxides.
That means you can speak of "lyes."

Robert A. Simon 2:37 PM  

...and then there was the stuff that was just plain wrong. Browning and sautéing are two completely different cooking techniques.The terms are in no way used interchangeably, except by constructors who are trying to hard.

Unknown 2:56 PM  

Technically, Finland is a Nordic, not Scandinavian, country. Helsinki is incorrectly clued.

JC66 3:22 PM  

How many players on a baseball team? 9

How many players on a basketball team? 5

How many players on a football team? 11

team, not roster.

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

What freaking part of the country, no WORLD, orders RASHERS for breakfast??? As bad an answer I've ever seen in a puzzle. Plus the theme SSSSUUUCCCCCKKKKEEEEDDDDDD. 2x4??? 2 letter in each of 4 squares. Awkward. Very awkward. 2 to the 4th makes as much sense. As in not.

Anonymous 5:01 PM  

A v-6 is neither powerful nor weak. It's an engine layout. Nothing more.
We've been through this before. Terms like hemi and v-10 are used in puzzles all the time, and almost always incorrectly.

Kevin 5:10 PM  

I hated it until I solved it. Then I loved it. But I was NOT going to quit because today's puzzle tied my record for consecutive solves (48)!

Graham 5:15 PM  

My take is that SOL is the fifth in a group of seven, not eight -- { do re mi fa SOL la ti } is the group, and then do starts the next group.

Rug Crazy 5:48 PM  

I agree with jae. (And Kevin) (and Graham) and a couple of anoymi(?)
Felt really smart when I finished it, though.

adela*s_attic 5:53 PM  

I'm with you there. DNF.

michael 5:56 PM  

Terrific puzzle. I especially like the easy wrong four-letter answers and the revealing two by four.

My only quibble is calling Steve Earle a "rocker."

I like rebuses and can understand solvers unhappy because they don't like them. But the rest of the complaints (especially those of Rex) don't register much with me.. They're of the sort "Finland isn't in Scandinavia" stated in a megapositive way. It's as if someone clued "Midwestern state" and the answer turned out to be Nebraska. Some say yes; some say no.

Joe Bleaux 6:03 PM  

I had no idea. You mean that, say, in a drag race a V-8 won't beat a V-6?

Howard B 6:13 PM  

It's not common, but it's valid. The same for sodiums (sodii? ;) ).

Howard B 6:23 PM  

Glad you enjoyed the experience! ;)

Howard B 6:25 PM  

Mathematically, I agree that the unique set is 7 notes. However musically, the complete octave is usually referenced.

Masked and Anonymous 6:25 PM  

Rare SatPuz where I got started in the SW corner, since it turned out there were no shenanigans goin on there. Liked the puz. Havin hard themes on a Fri or Sat occasionally works for m&e; keeps U on yer toes.

And on April Fool's Day, almost anything should be expected, in a NYTPuz. If they can't mess with our heads on this special hallowed day, then we have met the enemy, and he is wuss.

Finally smelled rebus puzmeat, when I became obsessively convinced that 29-D had to be THONG. Then started trottin out other Great Lakes names for 1-A, until I hit paydirt [...or got hit by a 2x4, if U will]. Primo ahar lake moment.

fave weeject: IN(NO). har. Has something there to displease every taste.

Thanx, Mr. Barkin. Good puz and deep theme revealer, as already highlighted by the great @muse.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Robso 6:54 PM  

Lots of mistakes forme, but muscled through only to die in the SE. Figured out ERIE was no good . . . BUT MISSED OSLO???
: (

Anonymous 7:21 PM  

Impossible to say. Seriously. There are a lot of things that determine an engine's output. Configuration isn't on each of them. There are plenty of six curling Der cars that will smoke plenty of 8 cylinder ferocious cars.
Mohair Samy was really
Tq.Kingman incorrectly about the power of the cars from 40 or 50 years ago.
Well, the basic GM v6 for many years years, maybe 1960 to 1975 was their 305, it produced about 155 gross hp. Comare that to today's Miata, a so called puny four banger. It produces about 160 hp. Or compare a flat 6 in the famous Porsche 911, it produces well over 300BHP.
The point that is, v-6 tells you only two things. How many years cylinders tbe e dine has, and how those cylinders are arranged.
All other mattdrs: torquemail, bhp, whether it's over head cam, or pushrod, air cooles, water coo.especially, etc are all unknown. And of course the real determining factors as to who would win in terms drag race.

your come to was snooty and woefully uninformed.

Mohair Sam 7:55 PM  

@Anonymous (7:21)

When I take her to the track she really shines (Giddyup, giddyup, 4-0-9)
She always turns in the fastest time (Giddyup, giddyup, 4-0-9)
My four-speed, dual-quad, posi-traction 4-0-9 (4-0-9, 4-0-9)
Giddyup, giddyup, giddyup, 4-0-9
Giddyup, 4-0-9
Giddyup, 4-0-9
Giddyup, 4-0
Nothing can catch her, nothing can touch my 4-0-9, 4-0-9

This from the Beach Boys in their song praising the merits of Chevrolet's famous muscle car 8 cylinder engine. If you have a similar tune hyping the merits of a V6 (or Kia's 2.4 Liter 4 banger) let me know. Otherwise I rest my case.

Z 8:17 PM  

It sucks when what you were taught or always knew is open to interpretation depending on how one chooses to define "Scandinavia." I do wonder about an encyclopedia citing an encyclopedia, but since the citation is for the Encyclopedia Brittanica I guess it's fairly reliable.

So, again, FAQ #16 - if you think the puzzle has an error, "99% of the time, you (the complainer) are wrong. Sometimes the clue is inelegant. Sometimes the clue is stretching the meaning of a certain word. Sometimes the clue is using a word in a way you aren't thinking of or haven't heard of. But flat-out errors are Rare. Very Rare. So reconsider your position." Let me further suggest that before insisting that something is wrong you take the 37 seconds it takes to google. You just might learn something.

Numinous 8:28 PM  

I know this is late and nobody will read it probably but I was PREPARED for this somehow. I didn't know what I was going to get but when it became clear, I wasn't surprised. Knowing ANASAZI is what eventually gave me MI CH IG AN. Having owned a PITBULLS and knowing SAKI gave me HE LS IN KI. The other two sorta fell in place.

But knowing that this is April 1, well . . . It's the anaversary of my second marriage and, ironically, it's the birthday of the current Mrs. N. April first weirdness is par for my course.

I had fun, Howard, even though I had to break my solve in two because I had stuff to do today. Thanks for the fun.

Aketi 8:45 PM  

I got the MI CH IG AN rebus fairly quickly and eventually did get the TWO BY FOURS, but along the way I desperately pondered how a CO NT RA RY TH IN MI NT had anything in common with MI CH IG AN.

Howard B 9:20 PM  

Glad to help. I was plugging away at tax stuff, time with the kids, etc. today, so I know how that stuff goes.

Larry Gilstrap 9:46 PM  

Wow! Much picking of nits and splitting of hairs both in the critique and the comments. This was a pm/am solve for me. I guess I'm like Pavlov's dog and could not get my glands around a rebus on Saturday. When I finally saw THIN MINTS, things gelled, except in the SE. I was looking for plural words for 51A BLURB. And being fresh off of ACPT, went blind looking for "construction staples" as in puzzle construction. TWO BY FOURS were hidden in the Home Depot of my mind.

Since I was recently chastened for questioning the lack of punctuation in a Beatles clue recently which resulted in OBLA, I was very skittish about that clue for NOLA: Saint's home, for short. Now, when I was a kid, we went to a Dodger game, and I swear Vin used to say, "It's time for Dodger baseball." Saying and writing are two different things, apparently.

All this hate for my Birthday, April 1. Wouldn't trade it with yours.

JC66 9:51 PM  

Happy B'day, Larry


"My take is that SOL is the fifth in a group of seven, not eight -- { do re mi fa SOL la ti } is the group, and then do starts the next group."

Then why is it called an octave and not a septad?

Anonymous 9:51 PM  

Once I saw the hint I figured it was double letters on some 4-letter clues, since PITBULLS and REELS(for REINS) both worked. This threw me for a loop and kept me from finishing, even though I knew RAIMENT and COLDWAR suggested something else was up. I think it would have worked better if every 4-letter clue was a rebus. Still thought the redirect worked well for an April Fools Day puzzle, as I imagine everyone felt a little hesitant to plug in Lake Erie as 1A on a Saturday puzzle.

Ken 10:03 PM  

Stick to the puzzle and accept that the liberal left lost the election. I for one support our President as I did when Obama was in office. Anything else is an insult to those Americans who elected him. As Obama said "elections have consequences" The left has moved this country too far left toward socialism and the next 8 years will bring it back to the center. NICE PUZZLE BTW

Andrew Heinegg 11:57 PM  

So, if and when it is proven that Trump is guilty of treason, should we continue to support him?

BarbieBarbie 12:03 AM  

Loved it loved it. Hard for me but after several runs at it I finally conquered the SE. Of course it's a Thursday puzzle that's difficult enough for a Saturday. Good April Fool's joke.
Too late at night to get yapped at by foxes.

Andrew Heinegg 1:31 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Punctuated equilibrium 9:55 AM  

SIKH is horribly clued. The 10 Sikh spiritual leaders are called Gurus, true, but this is akin to cluing Christian as Messiah.

Howard B 12:21 PM  

My original clue referenced a follower of Guru Nanak. How does that specificity compare? I am asking for future knowledge and accuracy. Thanks.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

A small thing, but Helsinki is not a Scandinavian Capital. Denmark, Norway and Sweden are Scandinavia, Add in Iceland and Finland and they are NORDIC countries. Finland is NOT part of Scandinavia.

Punctuated equilibrium 1:02 PM  

Howard, your original clue would have worked perfectly. Even "follower of the Gurus" or some such thing would work. I enjoyed your puzzle, by the way, even though it killed me. ;)

BurnThis 3:16 PM  

Found this really frustrating because all the easy questions (which I knew shouldn't be in a Saturday puzzle) had me questioning everything. Maybe there's another accepted spelling of raiment. Maybe there's a word like emigree or emigrant that I don't know. Maybe there's some obscure compatriot of Mao other than the usual suspect. And I never suspected "don't give up" was for the frustrated puzzle solvers. I usually hate April Fool's Day and this just gave me another reason to.

Howard B 6:06 PM  

Thank you and sorry for the mental anguish ;)

Protobrit 11:32 PM  

"Rashers" of bacon are standard fare for breakfast in England.

Anonymous 2:17 AM  

Rex has hated every puzzle that kicked his ass. I enjoyed it and I'm not even going to whine no fair, this isn't Thursday.

James Pratt 1:47 PM  

I solve on paper, and didn't get around to this one until Today (Tuesday). My puzzles had gotten out of order, and I thought this was a Tuesday puzzle. In that sense, Erie and Oslo worked. But dagnabit if it wasn't a particularly hard puzzle. Then, I looked at the date on the page, and it all clicked. It's been a while since I finished a Saturday, but I did this one. Basically, once I realized this was a Saturday, rather than a Tuesday, my brain was able to shift to the appropriate wavelength for the puzzle.

IG LESIAS, RAIME NT, and SOR RY all clued me in that there were shenanigans, but it still took me getting NOLA and GUESSAGAIN to catch on. I grew up in Utah, so ANASAZI was a familiar term to me. But I still had a few writeovers, in addition to the themers (THINMINT actually went in correctly, since I had the theme by then). moNstrOUS for GINORMOUS, MOLdS for MOLES, tyler for EARLE.

DavidL 9:09 AM  

First comment on Rex ever...and it comes now (on Wednesday) because I just finished this &*#&$! thing after coming back to it repeatedly over 4 days and finally getting everything. For some reason, I found this extremely difficult - the cluing was a bit weird and a number of answers that others found easy managed to find gaps in my knowledge. Like many others I suspected rebus as soon as "Erie" clearly didn't work in 1A but couldn't figure out where everything fit. Unlike Rex (I'm a new reader of this blog - was he always so cranky?) I thought this was well constructed.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  


Unknown 12:57 PM  


i TOUGHED this one out and was PROUD to have done it.

took me 20 hours!!! over the course of a WEEK.

i didnt cheat.

i KNEW what was gonna happen and guessed right with those pesky "two by fours" but i just couldnt believe that "howard barkin" could be THAT damn cruel!

i KNEW it was anasazi and iglesias and minor and slat and thong and NE and SE and SW EARLY but the rest was simply VEXING!

Burma Shave 9:35 AM  


TORI’s RAIMENT did VEX me, as she WAS singing her SONG,


rondo 10:01 AM  

Nope. DNF. 5 weeks removed from April Fool’s Day and time at a premium, no time for “fooling” around. I got the NE and SW where yeah baby TORI Amos resides and not much else. Except the gimmes that weren’t. Also had a pAtio for LANAI and Steve peRry and not EARLE. Always considered Steve EARLE more country than rock. Wanted moNstrOUS in the middle and you see how far that got me. I’ll SETTLE for a GINORMOUS fail. Hope the rest of you had a good time.

spacecraft 11:40 AM  

Well, I expected a brain workout, and I got it. Like @rondo, I laid down the SW/NE corridor quickly enough--with understandable gaps in the center. I suspected rebusiness, but at first rejected the idea because when present it's usually everywhere, and there wasn't any in those corners. What broke it was having SOR_ (one square only) for "Pitiful." That just HAD to be SORRY; SORE makes no sense. From that came CONTRARY, and the rest was "easy as cake." Or, "piece of pie." Those misquotes are from the Cosmonaut in "2010."

After completion (yes, I did! Yay me!) but before coming here, I realized that all four rebus entries were GINORMOUS misdirects for uber-trite crosswordese ERIE, OREO, ANTI and OSLO. This is a very clever extra layer to the theme, and my hat's off to Howard for it.

DOD is indeed TORI; no fooling there. I do not agree that this one belongs in a Thursday slot. It took quite a while to glom onto the gimmick, due in large part to those clean corners. That's one more thing I can no longer assume. Solid birdie.

Diana,LIW 1:39 PM  


Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 2:19 PM  

On getting the 2X4 revealer, had a quick flash of a notion that something like this might be in store, but it's SATURDAY (May 6) here, not April Fool's day (didn't check the 0401 number, but wouldn't have helped much anyway).

Big DNF, which doesn't mean Did Not Fool.

rain forest 2:25 PM  

Well, it's not April Fools Day here in syndiland, so I was completely oblivious to the possibility of trickery, but I did notice the un-Saturday-like grid yet confidently wrote in ERIE. Har. That of course made the NW impassable, so I went to the SW, then the NE, slammed down GINORMOUS, and got most of the puzzle.

Then, also of course I had four areas which weren't working, mainly because of 1A, 29A, 45A, and 64A. And then, I got the theme revealer! A real, true and emancipating AHA moment. So, in order HELSINKI, THIN MINT, CONTRARY, and finally MICHIGAN fell.

Some lagniappe:
I've always considered Finland to be Scandinavian. I have two friends who call themselves Finn Swedes, as well as Scandinavians. Well, I also have a friend who is a Finn, but he's just weird, though lovable. Does it matter anyway?

At 23A I didn't hesitate in entering PRIZE, because the price of something isn't necessarily its value. In retrospect, I PRIZE my wisdom.

I think a rebus is more effective as a puzzle when you don't suspect it. Those people who always say "I want a rebus on Thursday" miss the point, I think. Expecting one will change your solving approach.

So, I think we can all agree that this was an easy/challenging puzzle, and well worth the effort on SA TU RD AY, no?

sdcheezhd 9:40 PM  

Too much hate for this one I think. Yes maybe Scandinavian capital could have been Northern European or Nordic instead and yes the I for Erie works for IGLESIAS and the L for OSLO works for REEL instead of REIN (my problem was thinking that the 2x4s in the corners were in the second and next to last rows) but even on May 6 they tell you up front it isn't a themeless so you know to maybe look for a rebus. I got it with RAIMENT and EMIGRANTS leading to THINMINTS. The fill was fine: my wife loves The Americans and my son and I were in the ANASAZI Indian Guide tribe (plus we've been to some sites in Arizona) so that was good. What's not to like?

chipschap 12:24 AM  

Well, the Honolulu newspaper get the puzzles 5 weeks later (as is the case for all newspapers other than the mother ship), so I had no idea this was an April Fool's puzzle, but I found it very annoying and wondering why is this on Saturday and not Thursday? Knowing that it was for April 1 would have helped at least a little.

And by the way, Rex should skip the political commentary, I think; the crossword commentary is great and there's no need to be polarizing.

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