Roman emperor who overthrew Galba / THU 8-10-17 / Wine informally / Musician whose first name is toy / Standout in quad / Letters that might precede 10001

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Constructor: John E. Bennett and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: BY HOOK OR BY CROOK (55A: Whatever it takes ... as hinted at in the arrangements of black squares around the circled letters) (which spell out FISH near the "hook" and LAMB near the "crook")— DESCRIPTION

Other theme answer:
  • ONE WAY OR ANOTHER (17A: Whatever it takes)
Word of the Day: Martha RAYE (5D: "The Martha ___ Show" of 1950s TV) —
Martha Raye (August 27, 1916 – October 19, 1994) was an American comic actress and singer who performed in movies, and later on television. She also acted in plays, including Broadway.[1] She was honored in 1969 with an Academy Award as the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award recipient for her volunteer efforts and services to the troops. [...] She was known for the size of her mouth, which was large in proportion to her face, earning her the nickname The Big Mouth. She later referred to this in a series of television commercials for Polident denture cleaner in the 1980s: "So take it from The Big Mouth: new Polident Green gets tough stains clean!" Her large mouth would relegate her motion picture work to supporting comic parts, and was often made up so it appeared even larger. In the Disney cartoon Mother Goose Goes Hollywood, she is caricatured while dancing alongside Joe E. Brown, another actor known for a big mouth. In the Warner Bros. cartoon The Woods Are Full Of Cuckoos (1937), she was caricatured as a jazzy scat-singing donkey named 'Moutha Bray'. // In 1968, she was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in the form of an Oscar. On November 2, 1993, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton for her service to her country. (wikipedia)
• • •
That doesn't look like a hook and *that* doesn't look like a crook so this puzzle is D.O.A. Don't try to sell me the black-squares-as-shapes thing unless that visual is tiiight. Also, looks like this puzzle has precisely two theme answers (excluding FISH and LAMB), and yet it's still CLONKed full of flub like TONIO and BMOC (what year is it?) and OTHO (otho they din't!) and SST. Strange-shaped grid made for lots of short stuff, which always makes for something short of a good time. I love love love THE THING IS ... (3D: "What you have to realize..."). It is the thing that is best about this puzzle. But otherwise, MEH, you can have it back.

Two interesting moments during this solve. The first was when irresistible rage met immovable laughter at 12D: Silent part of "mnemonic" (THE "M"). It's both terrible and stupid. And terribly stupid. It wants to be clever, but is more hateful because it wants it so bad. I would accept THEL (as in "Take ___ Out of Lover and It's Over" (1982 Motels hit)) much much more readily than I would accept this nonsense. THEM is not only a perfectly good word, it's a word that can be clued so so so many ways. Fun ways. Also, THE "M" is not at all silent in "mnemonic." No it's not. Look again. See. Not. Unless clue is THEFIRSTM, the answer is *invalid*. And also stupid. The second interesting (and far less stupid) part of the solve came in the SW corner, where I messed up virtually everything you could mess up—so bad that only somehow figuring out the themer from a couple of correct letters allowed me to make any sense of that corner at all. I have MALES for 45D: Bucks (MOOLA). I had DANG for 50D: Darn it! (HOLE) (sidenote—you want to use that (sorry to reuse this word) stupid cluing tactic where you go [Verb it!] and the answer you want is actually the "it"?! And you want to do it not once but twice!?!? (see PANDORA'S BOX 25D: Don't open it!). Who thinks this way?). I had AS ONE for 58A: Together (IN ALL). Total wreck. And then the themer bailed me out.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Trombone Tom 12:19 AM  

Felt like I was very much in sync with John E Bennett and Jeff Chen. Got ONE WAY OR ANOTHER with only three letters in place. Most of the rest came along fairly quickly except for that clunker CLONK. I managed to wander from CLaNg to CLaNK to CLONK. Surprised I didn't drop a CLuNK in there, too.

A couple of pretty good clues in there -- Spent the most and Letters that might precede 10001.

I'm not as critical as OFL on the ability/inability of constructors to form curved letters in a square grid. Close enough to a hook or a crook for me. And they nicely enclose the FISH and the LAMB. I'm also more willing to accept THE M.

All in all on the easy side for Thursday and a bit of fun.

mathgent 12:24 AM  

When Jeff Chen called yesterday's fiasco the Puzzle of the Week, I thought that he might be losing it. But now I see that it was his modesty kicking in.

This puzzle is marvelous. Very rich and sparkly.

Tom 12:27 AM  

Took longer than usual because of the SW corner. Same problems as OFL. Also put in CLaNK, because CLONK is a sound I have only heard when a slapstick comedian brains his idiot partner. Spent five minutes looking for the supposed error, only to put the O in and be rewarded with a lame time. MEH says it best. Rex is spot on.

Unknown 12:29 AM  

I personally can't be too hard on @John Bennett/@Jeff Chen collaborative puzzle which manages to include both an opera role (TONIO) and a chemistry term (AMINO GROUP), and then even circles what my last name means in Hungarian. Nevertheless, I would have to agree on THE M, OTHO, and several of the other points made in @Rex's interesting and well-considered review.

Based on the two preceding puzzles this week, my first instinct for the "Darn It!" clue was SOCK rather than HOLE. Also, we haven't seen DIOR (cute clue, BTW) since ... well, since Monday. Other than the Falcons-Patriots encounter earlier this year, has any other Super Bowl gone into overtime?

Anonymous 12:40 AM  


The M? lol How about a clue for them?

But clonk

jae 12:42 AM  

Easy for me, the 15s went in quickly. Cute visual theme with two fine center long downs, liked it.

My only problem (@Trombone and @Tom) was deciding on AMINO/CLONK vs. AMINa/CLaNK. CLaNK seemed more metallic but AMINO seemed more chemical, guessed right. "A blow to the head" might have been less ambiguous.

Mike in Mountain View 1:18 AM  

Lively, easy Thursday. Same experience as @jae with choice between AMINO/CLONK and AMINa/CLaNK. Like @Rex, thought the existence of two Ms in MNEMONIC made the clue feel off. I'm in Silicon Valley, so I first thought the 10001 clue had to be a binary number: a five-bit byte? Enjoyed the puzzle much more than Rex did.

Anonymous 1:26 AM  

Saw the hook and the crook almost immediately after reading the revealer clue. Enjoyed this one, despite our hosts remonstrations. But ... since when is a "dork" a square? There not nearly synonymous in my book, nor in my dictionary.

Larry Gilstrap 1:29 AM  

What's the term for obscure words crossing at an ambiguous vowel?

As per suggestion, I solved at the bar, which I used to do all the time. Noisy bars are the best, if you can find a place to HUNKER down. Not tonight in the desert; the place was dead and I know the server, solving was often interrupted, as was serving.

Theme-wise, I'm lost and don't care to find my way. Grid art rears her ugly head, I'm told, and a rather complex premise becomes in focus. Ahhh, drink and solve.

Half kidding Dept.: OFL and his minions are plotting to create a climate of bemusement, at best, relating to the behavior, attitudes, and activities of OLD people. Most guys I knew aspired to the role of BMOC. That's why many of us chose small schools. In conclusion, I know lots of OLD folks and very little of the stupid stuff they do is because they are old. They've always done stupid stuff.

LAMB is delicious.

Hal 1:46 AM  

My own favorite was the clue for PEW. But perhaps I haven't been at this long enough to have seen it repeatedly.

Z 1:48 AM  

Where's Brendan Behan when you need him?

I don't know about the rest of you, but that first m isn't really silent if the word is pronounced correctly. Try it. Start with your lips in position to say M and then say "new mon ick." It's all about good lip positioning

I really don't like that SPIRO/TONIO/PUGET stack. And then 36 of 72 answers are three or four letters long. MEH. I wonder if this concept is better suited to a 17x17 grid. More space for your graphic, maybe making the curves more like curves, and maybe avoiding having 50% of the answers being short fill.

okanaganer 2:16 AM  

CLANK crossing AMINA GROUP was much more reasonable than the "correct" answers. Ugh.

CLONK? It's OK to make up a random comic sound now?

chefwen 2:20 AM  

I'm in the AMINA CLANK group. Oops!

Pretty easy for a Thursday, but not the fun filled, tricky puzzle that I look forward to on this day.

17A across has given me a serious ear worm.

okanaganer 2:25 AM  

Youtube's best offering for CLONK sounds quite woody, not metallic:

Dawn 2:59 AM  

PEW, HOLE, and the FISH/hook and LAMB/crook were lovely. Since I was sure of AMINO, I finally had to concede they did want CLONK. So that was a MEH.

Phil 3:33 AM  

Change the ASK to OSE for a better go

Thought it was a ridiculous puzzle at first but then looking it over it wasn't so bad just the clueing tried it's best to make it look bad.

While on the idea of bad clues. I would have used: (6D) Fear of Market Places

Anonymous 3:54 AM  

Second day running that I've enjoyed the theme decidedly more than OFL's attempted take-down of it.

evil doug 4:11 AM  
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evil doug 4:16 AM  
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evil doug 4:18 AM  

"50s creature feature starring giant ants"
"Band that first recorded rock standard 'Gloria' (also sung by Evil Doug as front man for short-lived high school garage band Hay Eddy)"

Thomaso808 5:37 AM  

"Put-out Putin" = NYET. Har!

Got to agree with Rex that the clue for THEM is pretty bad. Was that on purpose, like it's so bad it's good? I started to think about alternate clues and saw that @Evil Doug was way ahead of me. I did not know that Van Morrison was in a band called Them. Now I'm also wondering if @Evil's real name is Ed, as in Hay Eddy.

@Z, I also dutifully try to start mnemonic by pronouncing in the M position, but I think I might try leaving M in the dust. Sounds liberating.

To me, the hook looked like a hook, with a FISH as a bonus, and the crook looked like a crook, with a little LAMB (yesterday's BOPEEP nowhere in sight). I really enjoyed the puzzle.

Thomaso808 6:06 AM  

People, with a "NH2 attachment", 30D could be AMINE or AMINO, but could not be AMINI (a very small car?), AMINA (a musical key in Hawaii?), nor could it be AMINU (I got nothin' -- M&A that's on U).

BarbieBarbie 6:16 AM  

@Z, now say the whole sentence "It's a mnemonic." You put your lips together before pronouncing the final word? Really? I don't.

Nobody who has ever heard the term AMINO acid should have been tempted to wtite down AMINa. Where have you heard that one?

Loved the THEM clue. Different, and made me go "must be... Really?...hey, it is!"

So much to love in the long words and spunky different cluing for most of the short fill. A HOOK and a CROOK hooking and crooking the LAMB and the FISH. One of them is ONEWAY and one of them is ANOTHER. Very smile-producing.

Also, finally a clue for chemists that's a real thing and not an etna. Thanks guys!

This was a fun puzzle. More please.

Eric 6:22 AM  

Held up because mind refused to give up ONEm and could not accept THEm

Lewis 6:28 AM  

@rex -- "... irresistible rage met immovable laughter ..." terrific!

This is a beautifully executed concept -- how could you do a BY HOOK OR BY CROOK puzzle better than this? Two beautiful and theme-perfect longs, the grid art illustrating the phrase, the creatures hooked and crooked. Paradigm of what a theme puzzle should be.

I love the word CLONK and will be seeing it in my mind's eye and hearing it in my mind's ear today, I'm sure. The puzzle shot me back to youngsterhood, where in every depiction of Little Bo Peep she was carrying what I now know is a crook. Even now, in my brain, that little shepherd girl isn't Little Bo Peep unless she has that crook.

The puzzle has a mini-theme of double O's (5), and I loved the clues for HOLE and DORK. At first I had ONE WAY OR AN OTTER and I thought the theme was going to be wacky animal-ending phrases. One thing I have confidence in with any puzzle with the CHEN name on it, is that words I don't know will be fairly crossed.

Well done!

kitshef 7:20 AM  

DNF at AMINaGROUP/CLaNK, after rejecting all other vowels at that cross. It’s really a shame to mess up an otherwise sweet puzzle with the awful CLONK.

Glimmerglass 7:35 AM  

Fun puzzle. The left visual looks very like a hook; the right visual, sort of like a crook. I like @Evil Doug's clue for THEM better than mnemonic. @Rex: When you hate somebody, it's no good unless you hate somebody . . . all the way.

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

Improved Clue (?) - The last of them?

Hungry Mother 7:43 AM  

Faster than usual for me, due to the plethora of word play. I had no problem with CLONK, because of the perp. I didn't grok the graphic, but the entry was easy after a few letters were in place.

Joe Welling 7:52 AM  

I don't think PEAT is used for mulch. It's generally mixed into soil to add organic material. Mulch is on top of the soil to hold moisture and prevent weed growth.

Robso 8:00 AM  

I have to agree: I'm not a fan of the [verb!] = [noun] trick.
Just don't do it! = This cluing is lame

QuasiMojo 8:02 AM  

This clever puzzle had me HOOKed from the start even with the CROOKed clueing. I was swept away by the insistent tone and wacky misdirects. I had DRIP before DORK but otherwise sailed through it as if on a fishing boat. Rather than Bo-Peep (didn't she pop up earlier this week) I was reminded of Greuze's marvelous painting "The shepherdess." Or was it the Whiffenpoof Song? I had a friend named Otho so that was a Roman Holiday for me. Keep 'me coming guys. I loved the subtle homage to THEM, my favorite horror flick. Although that led me to try and fit in Arachnophobia instead of Agoraphobia. I was thinking of Recluse spiders I guess.

Ross T 8:13 AM  

CLONK didn't occur to me. It won't next time, either. I was deciding between CLANK and CLINK, trying to convince myself that AMINI/AMINA was the weird derivative of amino that I didn't know.

Then, CLONK. Ugh.

chefbea 8:20 AM  

what a great puzzle!!! Loved it!! The clues were fantastic.Especially darn it!! Will read the posts later

GHarris 8:25 AM  

Crossings of Tonio, poufs and tooth did me in. Sorry but metal does not clonk.

hankster65 8:37 AM  

CLONK... What the hell is CLONK?

Anonymous 8:38 AM  

As always with Evil, "it's all about me."

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

Once again, rex shows his jealousy of a superior constructor. Those who can't do become critics.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Strange puzzle. ONEWAYORANOTHER and BYHOOKORBYCROOK don't sound very Christian to me, at least not in my PEW.

If HOLE is the answer to "Darn it!", why the exclamation point? And who does that anymore, anyway.

CLANK before CLONK, not sure what CLONK sounds like.

More Whit 8:50 AM  

Heard a lot of metallic sounds in my life and not one of them went CLONK. Clank...even clink...but clonk is a big old clunker. Meh puzzle indeed. And the purported shapes around the circled letters I couldn't conjure up no matter how many mushrooms I might ingest. Clenk = doesn't exist.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Perhaps 34A was originally also clued as Christian symbol.

Eric Weber 9:03 AM  

clonk - worst answer ever!!!!!!!!!!!

RooMonster 9:07 AM  

Hey All !
The HOOK and the CROOK seem to me to only need the 6 blocks (maybe the 7th single one) to meet the visual requirements. What's with the 5 (10) blocks in the middle of the puzzle? Even if you agree they are necessary, at least get rid of the block before 23A/after 45A. I don't know, seemed a stretch to me. Looking further into the theme, the HOOK and CROOK do go ONE WAY OR (AND) ANOTHER in the puz, so that "other" themer works well.

This seemed difficult to me. Couldn't get the ole brain to see the answers without some struggle. DNF at the O in CLONK, like a bunch of y'all. Show me an example of a CLONK mettallic impact. I'll wait . . . Nothing? Thought so. CLaNK, CLiNK, sure.
Also had GEARTeeTH, because SPIRO would not enter my consciousness for some odd reason.

Agree with way odd clue on THEM. And Mr. OTHO was a WOE. Writeovers, dolphiN-SEALION, really messing up the middle weeject (@M&A) swath. MOney-MOOLA, Atad-ABIT, asone-INALL, CopY-CITY, tnt-FAB, and couldn't get past THETruthIS, so not seeing HAT. Had to Reveal Word for HAT, cause having R__ there, couldn't think of a single "trick". Talk about a CLONK!

@George Barany, last years Stupid Bowl was the only one ever to go to OT. /Rant - Those rotten, cheating Patriots (read: I hate them) should never have even been in the game towards the end. All those silly Falcons had to do is either score one more time, even a field goal, or stop one of the two two-point conversions, and they win. /End of pissed off Rant.

IN ALL, not a total CLONK of a puz, but better than MEH.

Putin with a stutter? NY-NY-NYET


Mohair Sam 9:09 AM  

@Rex - The only thing more insane than trying to create art in a 15x15 grid may be complaining about the quality of art done a 15x15 grid. This was a perfectly fine hook and crook thank you.

I'm with @Evil on the movie THEM clue, that flick seems to be on TCM non-stop lately - Sheriff Matt Dillon saves the day before he's Sheriff. CLONK horrid, Lady Mohair won the AMINO vs. AMINa argument or we would have had a dnf. 32a: "Clown" before TONIO, seemed like a gimme - anybody else? PUGET misdirect again. Terrific long downs, especially AGORAPHOBIA.

Remember the "Book 'em DANNO" clue/answer a few weeks back? We got passed yesterday by a big-assed Cadillac SUV with a license plate that read BOOK EM. How cool is that?

Nancy 9:20 AM  

Like everyone else, I had to choose between AMINA/CLANK and AMINO/CLONK. I chose wrong, so didn't finish. But as everyone else has so vociferously said already: CLONK??????!!!!!!!

I also hit a snag at 17A by insisting on starting the phrase with aNyWAY. So I didn't finish that section until the very end. And I had ACT before ASK at 38D.

I don't care about "the arrangement of black squares around the circled letters." I don't care about grid design at all, and I certainly don't care about annoying tiny circles. Where is my rebus? What have you done with my rebus? Although this had some interesting clues -- for ANCHOR, BMOC, WEARIEST -- and some nice long answers: AGORAPHOBIA and PANDORA'S BOX, taken as a whole, it is not Thursday-worthy. It's just not.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Anon@8:49, the exclamation point makes it a command, which is your clue that the "darn" is a verb. Totally fair clue.

@Roo, if you leave thise squares out you are missing the certical extent of the object, which would make it really lousy pixel art. No valid complaint there.

The Hermit Philosopher 9:39 AM  

"Terrible and stupid" or "terribly stupid" applies to 99% of @Rex's screeds!

Tim Aurthur 9:41 AM  

Except for the horrible clue to 12D and CLONK, I thought this was a perfectly good puzzle.

Not as good as yesterday's AV Club, however, which was totally brilliant. Please forgive the plug.

Two Ponies 9:43 AM  

This would have played better for me as a themeless Thursday.
I really despise those verb=noun clues and two in one puzzle is too much for me.
Some bright spots were the Put out Putin clue and grape.
If The M is a valid answer what will we see next? Let's nip that in the bud.
Them was the scariest movie I ever saw as a kid. The scene of James Whitmore clenched writhing in the jaws of that giant ant was terrifying.
@ evil doug as a front man for a garage band seems funny but back in high school everybody was in a garage band.
@ Joe Welling is right, peat is not used for mulch.
Finally, @ Larry Gilstrap, I agree completely. Don't blame stupidity on age, those dottering old folks were probably always stupid.

jberg 9:47 AM  

Mostly it's all been said -- I might have gone with AMINa, even though I didn't think it could be right, but was solving on our front porch while my wife read the paper beside me, and she's a biochemist -- so I swallowed and accepted CLONK.

@George Barany, so which is is, FISH or LAMB? My Hungarian is very limited.

The best part of the grid is the person with AGORAPHOBIA deciding to jump back in that narrow alley, only to find he's in PANDORA'S BOX. Very creative way to use the shafts of the hook and crook.

Joseph Michael 9:47 AM  

Fell into a HOLE when my GEAR TEETH yielded a VP named SPIRE and an opera character named TONIE.

Aside from that, this was a fine puzzle with lotsa great clues and a couple of bad ones (hello, THEM and CLONK).

However, in terms of difficulty, it felt more like a Wednesday than a Thursday, Where have all the rebuses gone?

Wm. C. 9:48 AM  

Hey, @Roo --

Go Pats!


Tita 9:53 AM  

I wondered too about FISH and LAMB as Christian symbols, but thought that a really odd thing to base a theme around.

@Nancy...I do feel robbed of my Thursday trickery, but overall liked it.

There's an ANCHOR under that FISH, but I see no boat...only an SST.

Jeff Chen at xwordinfo mentions researching the origins of the themer, so I did too, and it led me down a rabbit HOLE towards the use of that phrase during the opening credits of The Prisoner. The only thing I really remember from that series is the scene where the giant balloon chases doesn't win and smothers Patrick McGoohan.

So thanks for that puzzle-inspired trip down a very foggy memory lane.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  


Did you catch TCM hostess Tiffany Vazquez's intro to Them?
She pronounced James Arness as James AREniss. Accent on the wrong syllable. She's cute, but too young to have been a Gunsmoke aficionado, I guess.

Tita 10:04 AM  

Yesterday was the anniversary of SPIRO's running mate, Nixon's, resignation. But since SPIRO had resigned the year before due to tax expvasion and bribery scandals, he didn't become president.

Fun fact, and interesting way to clue FORD...
from wiki... Gerald Ford (house monitory leader) was the first person appointed to the vice presidency under the terms of the 25th Amendment, and consequently the only person to have served as both Vice President and President of the United States without being elected to executive office.

Aaah...makes me yearn for the good old days of garden variety crooked politicians.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Loved this one.

Stanley Hudson 10:33 AM  

Exactly what I always expect from Jeff Chen: solid construction. Wonder if Shortz is responsible for the clunky CLONK?

Love "Gloria" by THEM as well as the subsequent cover by the Shadows of Knight. Punk before there was punk.

Hard to believe @evil doug was in a garage band. Only in America!

TOCraig 10:37 AM  

Liked this puzz a lot. Enjoyed THEM clue. Think the black squares adequately depict a hook and a crook. All seems well done. TY JB JC and Will S.

joannamauselina 10:38 AM  

This was far and away the easiest Thursday puzzle I have ever done. It was absolutely Tuesday. But it had funness to it.

Aketi 10:44 AM  

@GILL I, thinking of you today. Maybe Rex could use surgery too since he seems to have trouble visualizing the HOOK and the CROOK.

@Nancy, I give you a pass, because I know how much you hate the little circles.

@Anonymous 8:59 am, in response to your question, the answer is me. Although it took me nine months to motivate myself to darn the HOLE in my son's favorite sweater. I finished it a mere five hours before we packed up all his boxes of clothes to be shipped to his dorm. I'm sure he must have asked me at least 100 times before that.

pmdm 10:45 AM  

Researching mnenomic, it seems there are two acceptable ways to pronounce the word: either with the first M pronounced or not pronounced. So while 12D has a pretty bad clue, it isn't an incorrect clue. What irked me is that the entries to both 3D and 12D begine with the word THE. Somewhat inelegant.

The arbitrary rule forbidding entries of less than 3 spaces inhibits how well one can represent a hook and a crook in the puzzle grid. Despite what's written in the write-up, it is easy to see the hook and crook pattern in the grid. It just looks like you're watching a 4/3 ratio television program stretched to fit a 16/9 ratio screen. Relaxing the 3 letter minimum length rule (as is sometimes done) would have been justified, in my opinion. Expanding the length by one to 16 spaces across and moving the theme entries to the top and bottom rows might have make the grid more appealing.

Lewis 10:45 AM  

Disregarding whether the clue for CLONK is accurate, here's one use for the word that I think fits just right. It comes from "Reaper Man" by Terry Pratchett (2002):

The minute hand moved with a clonk, and shuddered to a halt on the 9.

Aketi 10:47 AM  
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Phil Schifley 10:47 AM  

Easy and dull, the worst things you can call a puzzle. And"Them" was lame in so many ways.

old timer 10:53 AM  

OFL is right on the money today. And like him, I found that SW corner impossible. (Like some others, I put in "sock" instead of HOLE, but there, the clue was perfect even though I wasn't).

I'm proud I did not consider CLONK for a moment. I did have the accurate "clang" for a while.

jb129 11:06 AM  

When I first looked at this puzzle, I thought "I"ll never get this......" then I flew through it until I got stuck on HOLE for DARN IT. Nice Thursday surprise, guys.

AP 11:14 AM  

I specifically enjoyed some of the things that Rex specifically hated: the goofy clue on THEM, the [Verb it!] clues (to me, it made it better and more deliberate that there were two such clues, while for Rex this made it twice as bad). I actually thought these were some of the highlights / most delightful parts of the puzzle.

On the other hand, I agree with everyone that CLONK is terrible. Also (don't think anyone's pointed this out yet), AMIGA is terribly clued: the "sweetie" implies that it means girlfriend, which it does not. NOVIA is girlfriend. AMIGA is a platonic friend who is a girl. I was expecting NOVIA/NOVIO, so this slowed me down a lot. The cluing for Spanish words in the NYT puzzle is often very bad, and it's disappointing that it happened again :(

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 11:18 AM  

For the record, the FIRST Vice President to Resign was John C, Calhoun in 1832, who decided being a Senator was more fun that being sidekick to Andrew Jackson.


puzzlehoarder 11:30 AM  

Far be it from me to make a pun but AMINA is far more of a clunker than CLONK could ever be. AMINOGROUP was the one and only debut in this puzzle so my guess is the 44A clue was a feeble attempt to generate some difficulty to this overly simplistic Thursday. Of course it should be CLINK or CLANK but AMINO is crossword 101 so in it went. The puzzles are supposed to be more challenging as the week goes on. So far this week it hasn't happened.

AmyO 11:33 AM  

How does everyone know clenk is not a word?! It sounds like "metallic impact" to me, so I wrote over the terrible "clonk", thinking amine group was just as good as amino group. My SW corner was also a mess with asonE, MOney and Atad all in place....luckily got it straightened out. I thought it was a fun and clever puzzle.

OISK 12:09 PM  

I am a chemist, but even I hesitated in writing "Clonk." I imagine that most of the non-scientists here have heard of amino-acids, and so were moved to write "amino," but clonk just seems so wrong. And compounds containing an NH2 group are often called amines, but clenk couldn't be right. I agree with all of those who criticized this cross.

This puzzle was right up my alley, though, not just with a chem reference, but also, I have been to Las Cruces, follow college football, and love T-bones. I didn't time myself, but has to be one of my fastest Thursdays ever. ( feels good after DNF on Sat. and Sun. There is a product called "Oreo-O"???)

OISK 12:16 PM  

Oh, and on our leader's diss on Lehar yesterday, "Known for just one work,"... Just because the genre of operetta is completely unfamiliar to some, doesn't mean Lehar is a minor composer. He was the principal composer of what came to be known as the silver age of operetta. "Land of Smiles" is musically brilliant, and "The Prince of Luxembourg" is wonderful. His works are performed in Europe all the time, but the U.S. has strangely resisted the charm of Viennese operetta.

Passing Shot 12:19 PM  

CLONK? Just no. And the visual was a fail.

Joe Bleaux 12:26 PM  

A fine Thursday puzzle today ... for a Tuesday. @Two Ponies. "Not Vinny, but close" (THE O), or in keeping with today's Christian references, "No room in here" (THE N). Hey, you asked for it. @Roo. Yessiree! Too bad Birds blew it.

Dick Swart 12:26 PM  

Rex's usual tantrum over a very nice and interesting Thursday.

My only gripe is 'mnemonic' since I pronounce the m, however smothered, before the n.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

I have a wonderful EMI LP of "Land of Smiles" - play it all the time. Gorgeous music.

Zev W. 12:56 PM  

With a little squinting, the hook and crook shapes can also be viewed as right-side-up and upside-down J's, which happen to be the first initials of the two constructors (John and Jeff). Fortunately, that seems to be a coincidence, not a feature, based on the grid's origin story in Wordplay.

Chip Hilton 1:15 PM  

Even when Rex's rants make sense (THEM), he presents his arguments in such a way as to make me dislike them. Basil Fawlty made it work. Rex doesn't.

They sure look like a HOOK and a CROOK to me.

Anoa Bob 1:20 PM  

I've had a life-long interest in horticulture and landscaping and agree with @Joe Welling & @Two Ponies that PEAT is not used for mulch, as clued. It would defeat part of the purpose of mulch by encouraging rather than suppressing weed growth.

Early in my chalk-n-talk career, while still a grad teaching assistant, I pronounced AGORAPHOBIA "ah-GOR-ah-FO-be-ah" and was surprised and chagrined when I found out it is "AG-ah-ra-FO-be-ah", first accent on the first syllable rather than on the second.

Since no one else has mentioned it, I thought the clue for CLONK was kinda clunky. I would have clued it "Sound of a bamboo wind chime".

Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks "By Hook or by Crook"

Teedmn 1:22 PM  

Tough Thursday for me. Although I was ultimately successful, I was leery about BMOC (I had forgotten that initialism) and CLONK. RE: the latter, I was feeling self-righteously offended by constructors creating new onomatopoeisms (though I have no compunction about coining new nouns). I realize that how people hear things is rather subjective but we do have agreed-upon words for certain sounds and I didn't think CLONK was one of THEM. So the first thing I did after solving was Google CLONK - it's a word, so that's my mistake. But considering the reaction of the commenters, I still feel justified in my dudgeon.

But oh, the mess of my grid.

CopY before CITY
TNT before FAB
tiredEST before WEARIEST
Act before ASK (hi @Nancy)
doUpS before POUFS
NYse before NYNY (that 10001 looked like some binary number so maybe related to the stock market?)

And thinking the STewARTS would have a rebus in their name.

At least I spread the love and black ink around.

So thank you JEB and JC for a challenging Thursday and in my opinion, fully satisfactory grid art.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

I'm of the belief that Will Shortz should lose his job merely for permitting "[verb] it!" clues. As soon as I see a single one, it ruins the entire puzzle for me, every time. With two, this puzzle made me wish I had never even opened it. An absolutely awful start to my day. Just. Don't.

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

A few years back I read a novel set in Cambodia in the late 1970s. It became obvious the author thought Christians were worse than Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Same with Rex. You aren't as critical as OFL is because you wouldn't want to take a dump in your spouce's mouth if he or she converted to Christianity. OFL would want to do just because he is so filled with hate.

Wm. C. 1:32 PM  

@GreaterFallRiver ---

In case you were asking why "Standout on a Quad" is BMOC --

A QUADrangle is typically on a college campus. The STANDOUT leaders at a college are Big Men On Campus.

I'm surprised that OFL didn't take exception to that sexist term. Clearly it originated before co-ed colleges became the norm. I wonder if leaders at all-women's colleges are BWOCs? ;-)

Oops, I didn't really say "co-ed." ;-)

Charley 1:34 PM  

Second time I've seen Amiga as an answer to sweetie. Amiga is a friend who happens to be female. A sweetie, as in girlfriend, is a Novia.

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

@Anonymous 1:26

If the puzzle is ruined by [verb] it. What difference does a second occurrence of the offense make? That is, can something that's already ruined be harmed? And if so, how?

Mohair Sam 2:10 PM  

@Chip Hilton (1:15) - The mental picture of a ranting Rex as Basil Fawlty. Priceless. Thanks.

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

Since all the possible choices are onomatopoeia I think CLONK is perfectly acceptable and quite honestly the best representation of what I think a metallic impact sounds like.

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

god, you're insufferable.

Chim cham 3:39 PM  

[Shake head, sigh, stare into space...] Clonk.

Chim cham 3:41 PM  

Oh it's ALL about good lip positioning!


Masked and Anonymous 3:43 PM  

Official M&A Help Desk History of CL*NK-y usage counts in the NY(NY)TPuz (Shortzmeister Era uses + Earlier Eras uses):
CLANK: 3 + 17 = 20
CLENK: 0 + 0 = 0
CLINK: 8 + 18 = 26
CLONK: 1 + 0 = 1 + today's usage = 2
CLUNK [lil darlin] : 2 + 4 = 6

M&A reckons that CLUNK has nothin to fear but fiery fury furry fear itself, from CLENK & CLONK.

Gotta admit, this ThursPuz was kinda different. M&A is always way-ok with different. Puz had some 'tude. Had some eau de speration. Also had the Weeject Hoary Stack of Fame, straight up the middle of the grid, between yer hook and yer crook. Toss in a splatzerin of U's, the circles, and some edgy looong words. Rodeo.

staff weeject pick: HAN. The winner, HANs down.

fave fillins: TYRA & TYNE. MOOLA & MOANA. THE THINGIS. DORK [Clue was straightforwardly-sneaky. Nice.] PANDORASBOX. AMIGA/AMIN[a,e,i,o,U group]. BBGUN. THE M. Nice groupins, by Chen and by Bennett. Thanx, duodudes.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Hartley70 3:52 PM  

CLONK is fine in my personal lexicon, and so are clank, clink and clunk. Just spare me in the future, please, from clenk and clynk.

I didn't find this very difficult once I got rid of aNyWAYORANyTime for the first themer. I really liked the clue for NYNY. I appreciate all attempts at visuals so thanks for the attempt. It was moderately successful.

The bar is set pretty high for Thursday. This would have been a stellar Wednesday, but for a Thursday it's going to get a MEH from me. Don't get me wrong, I liked it, I just didn't love it.

Hartley70 4:00 PM  

Regarding PEAT as a mulch, I believe PEAT moss is quite common, and "SweetPeet" is a very popular and rather expensive organic mulch option here.

Two Ponies 4:03 PM  

@ Anoa Bob, Thanks for the Dan Hicks. I saw him once in a real honky tonk bar. Great venue for a great show.

Unknown 4:38 PM  

Am I the only one who has never heard of TOTE ? I came to the blog today expecting to see dozens of comments on that answer. I guess I just missed that word at some point in my schooling. How do you use it in a sentence? "He toted the apples in the basket?"

ArtO 5:44 PM  

Coming in late to add my CLANK to CLONK. Metal does not clonk. It clanks.

Otherwise, a pretty fast Thursday.

Joe Dipinto 5:54 PM  

@Theodore Stamos -- precisely. A "tote bag" is something you use to tote (cart home) goodies you've purchased/received/stolen.

Had two write-overs today: I originally entered THE TRUTH IS for 3D, then realized it was wrong because 35A was probably PUGET and 32A was probably CANIO. So I changed TRUTH to THING and filled in the acrosses, only to discover that the puzzle wanted a *different* character from "I Pagliacci" (the correct title of the opera, BTW; it's not "Pagliacci").

The MNEMONIC clue/answer is an utter disaster, not only because THEM could be clued in so many different ways, but because there are *two* M's in MNEMONIC, so the correct answer to this clue would have to be not THE M, but THE FIRST M. Yeesh.

Joe Dipinto 6:08 PM  

@AP 11:14 - you are absolutely on point re AMIGA vs NOVIA. That clue is simply wrong.

Joe Dipinto 6:14 PM  

@Stanley Hudson 10:33 -- The Shadows of Knight version of "Gloria" really rocks (and was a top ten hit) -- I like it even better than the original Them version. S of K did clean it up slightly by eliminating the line "She comes up to my room..."

Cassieopia 6:18 PM  

Wait, no one's heard "TOTEs adorbs" as in "totally adorable"? Not exactly kosher but that's how I arrived at TOTE, sad as that may be.

Puzzle was great. Kept me misdirected and interested the entire time, but pieces eventually fell smoothly into place with a satisfying snick (no CLONKers here). Slower than my average but that's because I didn't google or cheat, which means that this was an easier than usual Thursday.

May I say how much I TOTE adorbs @M&As posts. The word play delights me every day.

puzzlehoarder 6:19 PM  

@Theodore Stamos, a good example of TOTE used in popular culture is found in the lyrics of a 1968 hit song called "Polk Salad Annie" by Tony Joe White. They describe the title character's "momma", " A wretched, spiteful, straight razor totin' woman".

Mohair Sam 6:23 PM  

@Theodore Stamos - Think TOTE board at a race track. From Totalizator. It's where you calculate ("add up") the results of the betting pool. Some TOTE boards actually show the amounts added up in the pools.

Unknown 6:57 PM  

Thanks !

Joe Dipinto 7:10 PM  

@Theodore Stamos - I think I misunderstood your "tote" example sentence. If you meant "he added up the apples in the basket," you could alternately say "he toted up the apples in the basket", which is the sense in the puzzle clue. But one could also tote (transport) apples in a basket. MohairSam explained it better. :-)

Anoa Bob 7:47 PM  

@Hartley70, PEAT and PEAT moss are two different things, the former being very dark, dense and heavy, while the latter is light, fluffy and looks like, yup, dried moss. I used PEAT to add organic matter to soil and PEAT moss to make soil less dense for better water drainage, while at the same time still retaining moisture. I never used either for mulch. My first choice for that was always hardwood bark mulch.

Anonymous 9:23 PM  

Thought you were more polite than to ignore a pleasant post.
Should've known otherwise. Go back to believing that 4 cylinder engines are less powerful than sixes per se.

Mohair Sam 10:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Clerk 11:06 PM  

Great puzzle! Lots of nice touches!

Rookie 10:22 PM  

Why so grumpy? Cool puzzle I thought. Not everybody gets hung up on the same things. 😊

Sunnyvale solver 1:14 AM  

10001 for NYNY - great clue!

Burma Shave 9:34 AM  




spacecraft 11:40 AM  

Re: clue for THEM: how about Van Morrison's first band? That was the site of my only writeover. Since it "couldn't" be THEM--as explained by OFL--I went with onEM. Well, ONE M is silent; the OTHER isn't. Made sense to me. Anyway, glitch soon corrected by PITHY.

The rest of the puzzle save for two troubling squares (one of them involving the word "square") was Tuesday-easy. Those two were resolved by one of the two directions. CL_NK, as demonstrated in his usual delightful fashion by @M&A, can take an assortment of vowels, but the AMINOGROUP is pretty definitive. I have never heard anything that sounded like "CLONK," nor have I ever seen that word in comics. I accepted the O solely for the down answer.

Similarly, I remember MOANA, so that was a given. but "square one" = DORK?? I get that the terms, from different eras, are interchangeable, but the "one" makes no sense to me, and serves solely to misdirect. This is what I call a bad, even unfair, clue. The yellow hankie comes out.

INALL, with the above exceptions, I had fun with this. THETHINGIS, most of the longer answers fell without resistance, e.g.: with the north finished we have AGOR- to begin the recluse's problem. Duh. Don't open it! PAN- duh again. I liked the theme and execution; of course you're not going to have an artistically accurate depiction using black squares, so how "tiiight" can it be? DOD is without question TYRA Banks; that too was easy. Birdie.

rondo 11:50 AM  

What, no link to Blondie for ONEWAYORANOTHER? Not current enough I guess. SPOON is a rather current band that coulda been linked. But OFL chose to get all PITHY. However, that is rather a lot of black squares for the artwork. I did have a w/o with “tnt” before FAB.

I remember BMOC from Mad magazine back in the ‘60s, another ERA. Still in use?

Ole’s wife LENA makes a cameo appearance. Still no Sven.

No doubt about yeah baby TYRA Banks.

Better than a rebus, but kinda MEH with lotsa 3s. Don’t think I’d go so far as to say PEW.

thefogman 12:58 PM  

I disagree with OFL. The hook and the crook are about as close a representational facsimile you are likely to find on a crossword grid. Bitmappy yes, but not enough to throw me into a rant and accuse the constructor of being stupid. Yes there are two M's in MNEMONIC. But the only silent letter is an M thus I have no problem with the cluing for 12D. I should say I had anEM before THEM which perhaps would have been a bit more precise but the constructor went with THEM instead which was fine by me. I had DOVE before LAMB. When I had FISH I thought the theme was going to be Surf and Turf until I had an Aha! moment and solved BYHOOKORBYCROOK. The game was on after that. 44A was a little bit of a misdirect. I was tempted to put down CLaNK (which sounds way more metalic than CLONK) partly because of the neighboring AMIGA which is the feminine of amigo. I momentarily reasoned that AMINOGROUP can maybe have an AMINaGROUP counterpart - until I woke up and sniffed the smelling salts. I still don't get the NYNY answer to 48D (Letters that might precede 10001) or 1D BMOC (Standout in a quad). Sure it wasn't perfect, but aside from a couple of write-overs I found this puz to be just right for a Thursday and (unlike OFL) most enjoyable and worthwhile.

rondo 1:19 PM  

@foggy - 10001 is a NYC zip code. BMOC = Big Man On Campus a 1950s-60s ERA term for a guy like the football captain, etc.

Diana,LIW 1:25 PM  

Hey @Foggy - 10001 is one of the NYC zip codes. Har, huh? and Big Man On Campus would be in the college's quad.

Said the woman who has had 3 dnf's in a row, with CLuNKer of a metallic sound...and others.

Saw the hook and crook right away. Gotta run - might be back.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

thefogman 1:36 PM  

Sound of a toast, when cheap wine is served in tin cups?

Also - I fell for the misdirect of nerO before I had OTHO.

thefogman 1:42 PM  

Those clues a little too cheesy. Cheers Diana and Rondo!

rain forest 2:19 PM  

Quirky, sneaky puzzle, and in a nice way. The HOOK and CROOK symbols are just fine.
Yeah, CLONK clunked here, but stretch your mind a bit, and its OK.

Square one was great, I thought, once I realized that you could say "he's a square one" or "he's a DORK".

In my head I went from oneM to anEM to, finally THEM. I wouldn't ever try to say 'mnemonic' sounding the first 'm' or even placing lips together before speaking. Doesn't work. Anyway, THEM was irritatingly funny.

leftcoastTAM 3:03 PM  

Had some of the same problems as Rex with this one, though ABIT less down on it. Some good long strings of THINGs.

So the LAMB is in a CROOK? In the same area, a BBGUN is not a "toy" and a metallic impact sound is more a CLaNK than a CLONK, but AMINO forced it. Darn HOLE! (see Rex). Reluctantly accepted them all.

Took a while to get the NYNY zip code. SIXES was elusive too. Nice little "aha" moments to finish.

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

Second day in a row of fun, challenging puzzles. Shouldn't a good puzzle be praised for the enjoyment it gives in working, and the feeling of accomplishment with the solving?
Nice to read all the other comments on how fun this one was. More!

thefogman 11:40 PM  


I got it via the crosses: The elusive SIXES (62A Big Rolls)

We're talking about dice rolls, right?

leftcoastTAM 12:40 AM  


Joe in Canada 1:11 PM  

Syndication here - again with the cryptic. Don't open it! and Darn it! are not crossword puzzle clues, they are cryptic puzzle clues.

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Tarheeled 8:26 AM  

Actually, the correct way to pronounce mnemonic is to put your lips together as though you were going to pronounce the m, but don't.
You can't just pretend the m isn't there and say nemonic. I liked the puzzle overall.

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