Grayish to yellowish brown / THU 10-12-17 / Max popular video game series of 2000s / Classical rebuke / Giant first inductee in WWE Hall of Fame

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: homophones — Across clues are all homophones of *actual* clues (no way in hell I'm typing out all the Across clues and their homophones, sorrynotsorry)

Word of the Day: BISTRE (47D: Grayish to yellowish brown) —
noun: bistre
  1. a brownish-yellowish pigment made from the soot of burned wood.
    • the color of the pigment bister.
• • •

Wow. That was ... not fun. Printout of my puzzle looks kind of cool, since all the Acrosses are just one word (and whatever "Re" is), but this is one of those puzzles that makes you shake your head and go, "Why?"—a stunt puzzle that is probably interesting-sounding in your head, but on paper is laborious to solve. The grid is so unpleasant. On its own terms, it's nowhere near NYT-quality (even recent NYT-quality). It's like one of them grids you'd see in some Giant Book Of Supermarket Checkout Line Puzzles compendium. Nothing holding it together. Fill all mediocre and weird. Multiple MIROS, pffft, fine, OK, but multiple DRYROTS!? Nay. Nay. Neigh. And what on god's green earth is BISTRE!? Apparently that's not even the preferred spelling (?). We get a word that hasn't been seen in the NYT crossword in almost *30* years, and then we get the, what, British spelling? I spent more time than I should just checking and rechecking every BISTRE cross because, well ... look at it! It's hardly a word. I'd've bought BISTRO as a color before BISTRE.

And where is the joy in ... figuring out the homophones. I mean, is anyone going "Aha!" (joyfully, I mean) upon realizing [Lickers] (!?) = "Liquors"? Or (even less likely) upon realizing [Liquors] = RYES. You could never, ever, ever clue RYES that way in a regular crossword, so why do you get to do it here? RYES *kinds* of liquor. It would be like [Cars] cluing TOYOTAS. Absolutely not. I think the same thing goes for [Missal] -> [Missile] -> ATLAS. It's all pretty galling. I will say that I got to put my pretty finely-honed Downs-only skills to work here, at least at first. I refused to look at the Note (per usual) and when the Acrosses made no sense, I went into Downs-only mode, which is the way I typically solve all Newsday puzzles (except the Saturday Stumper), most early-week LA Times puzzles, the cruddy Sunday puzzle we get in our local paper ... any puzzle that is too easy to be much fun. So I got pretty far with Downs-only until I stalled a bit, revisited the Acrosses, and noticed what was going on. After I got theme, only BISTRE (!!) really floored me. With the Acrosses, I struggled with DEPOT (23A: Bass)—thought [Base] would mean "mean" or "low" or "bad," not a noun normally related to trains; ATLAS (32A: Missal)—didn't really know it was a missile; and GLIMMER (53A: Re)—kept saying "Reeee" to myself, hoping it would eventually mean something. But it's the musical note. Do RE mi fa etc. And "ray" -> GLIMMER. What fun!

Turns out the Note wasn't much use anyway:

So ignoring it completely was the right move. This is rarely not the case.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


ColoradoCog 12:04 AM  

@Rex, RE, a glimmer of golden sun.

Unknown 12:10 AM  

Must say I felt the same as Rex. Couldn't get any acrosses at first, then figured out the homophone trick, then was generally disappointed at the quality of the clues.

ColoradoCog 12:11 AM  

Oops. Should have read past "...and whatever Re is".

Anyway, I found this one more enjoyable than not. Anytime you have a puzzle like this, there will be hits and misses. I thought there were more hits.

Unknown 12:11 AM  
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puzzlehoarder 12:12 AM  

This was a fun puzzle. Even with the homophones in place some of the connections were a little out there. It wasn't hard to start. The names in 1D and 4D were familiar to me.

The one thing I wasn't sure of was BISTRE. The crosses confirmed it but I still looked for ways to convert it to BISQUE. It's at least a familiar word. I think of it as having a color akin to terra cotta but I may be wrong.

The only other issues were a RUM/RYE write over and misreading my own G of GLAD as a C a couple of times causing a slight delay in coming up with GLIMMER.

Anonymous 12:13 AM  

fmmph... not really that much fun. Some of the homophones were just too much of a reach.

Carolynne 12:16 AM  

Someone please explain mustard/mobilized to me. I got it off the down clues.

Sue T. 12:19 AM  

Carolynne: "mustered": "assemble (troops), especially for inspection or in preparation for battle."

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. This was dreadful.

Unknown 12:22 AM  

A completely unacceptable puzzle. Completely. You've got three out of four downs, and you KNOW there is no word -DEA for CENTS.

"Oh, but you should have read the NOTE!" You shouldn't be ALLOWED notes.

This is not a crossword. It is smugness and elitism masquerading as erudition.

Terrible. A Travesty.

CDilly52 12:28 AM  

The concept doesn’t offend me, only the execution. I can easily imagine using a group of related homophones as theme answers all somehow connected to a clever revealer that has something to do with sound or hearing, . . . but this wasn’t that.
Getting nowhere with the first few acrosses, I also went into down mode and knocked out the NW in a few seconds. Went back to read the across answers and saw what was happening. Let the slog begin! . BISTRE didn’t stump me since I have avidly studied calligraphy for decades and learned a great deal about the pigments created to craft the ancient religious texts like the Lindesfarne Gospels, Book of Kells, etc. so that was kind of a high point for me since I am not a highly skilled solver as are so many here in the neighborhood; go me-I knew the word of the day!

An idea that could grow up and become a theme if a clever crafter nurtured it carefully. Didn’t happen here.

Unknown 12:29 AM  
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jae 12:29 AM  

On the tough side and kind of a slog for me.

Unknown 12:30 AM  
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Anonymous 12:34 AM  

Geez. What whining. It's one puzzle. It was challenging. The homophones were interesting. Everyone learned a new word. New puzzle tomorrow.

Joshua 12:45 AM  

So you decide to make a puzzle using this idea, and you succeed. When you finish, do you objectively look at the grid? Do you realize that all your across clues are (after you pick the right (almost) homophone) one word clues, devoid of wit? Do you realize that half your down answers are straight up definitions? If so, how can you proceed with it, if not, why not? Look at the grid, is it a Thursday grid? Change the across clues to their correct homophones then solve, is it a Thursday puzzle?

When I figured out the conceit my audible response was unprintable, and all that was left was to perform one annoying step with each clue to solve a witless, boring puzzle.

TomAz 12:47 AM  

Wine, wine, wine. Ewe peephole. Eye se its OK, butt naught grate. Their'll bee uh grate won sum dey.

mrn 12:47 AM  

How on Earth does "Slight" clue for DEXTERITY (60A)? Once you have the X it really can't be any other word, but I'm going crazy saying the word "Slight" over and over trying to figure out what sort of homophobe possibly clues to dexterity.

And that clue basically sums up my solving experience. Yuck.

Anonymous 12:49 AM  

(writing that crap was just about more fun than this puzzle).

13 12:50 AM  

The gimmick was clever and refreshing even if wasn't such a fun solve.

The NYT needs more creativity like this.

TomAz 12:53 AM  

@mrn: slight --> sleight

Anonymous 12:55 AM  


"sleight: the use of dexterity or cunning, especially so as to deceive" Google dictionary

Anonymous 1:03 AM  

I'm still trying to figure out who spells broccoli raab as broccoli rabe. I've never seen rabe before; it's always raab.

Anonymous 1:06 AM  

Also, re (ray) is "a drop of golden sun" in my childhood memory. Who ever sang it as "a glimmer of golden sun?" It doesn't work, syncopation-wise, with the rest of the

Mike in Mountain View 1:18 AM  

@Anonymous: I see "RABE" spelled that way whenever I buy a cheesesteak in Philadelphia.

@TomAz: You win the day. Thanks.

I thought it was an occasionally amusing puzzle, but it took forever, mostly because of (1) BISTRE, and (2) I thought "Bye" was a homophone for "Buy" and didn't think of "By," and I have no idea who KARAN is, so I thought "bEAR" for "Buy," as in "bear the cost for," which makes little sense to anybody who isn't convinced "Buy" must be the homophone for "Bye."

Erik 1:20 AM  

Not fun at all

Mark 1:22 AM  

I liked the puzzle, and it's nice to have variety in the type of puzzles we solve. If you want a normal puzzle, wait for Friday. Thursday's are for interesting tricks like this one.

Ellen S 1:29 AM  

Anon 1:03, interesting. Google turns up instances of “Broccoli Rabe” but the preferred or correct does seem to be Raab. In my local supermarket, I’ve only seen it as Rabe, so that was one of the few answers that didn’t bother me. Except it was just a ho-hum fill-in-the-blank.

Moe Greene 1:43 AM  

This puzzle was terrific. I'll definitely keep an eye out for this constructor again.

Anonymous 1:47 AM  

"Depot" has nothing to do with train stations (per Rex). Army depot = army base.

andrea carla michaels 1:49 AM  

I didn't realize you spelled Sleight of hand with the e
I liked the ones that could be one of several homophones like BY BUY BYE
I thought of them as puns more than homophones so it added more enjoyment for me, made more cents!

Anonymous 2:25 AM  

dreck, gross, ugh, unacceptable: i hated it

Larry Gilstrap 2:30 AM  

What a PAYNE! The downs had to be Monday easy, so any clever word play is out the window. The acrosses are disguised as homophones for some other lack luster cluing, because...?

We do the puzzle and then comment on this blog because we love the language, the culture, and the memories it evokes. I got nothing!

I'll try any way. EVA was a little prettier, but Zsa Zsa had a wacky personality and was outrageously funny. Crickets. Most inland bodies of water, such as the ARAL Sea, are in jeopardy. Those pesky Russians are at it again? Now, there's a joyless topic. Let's just insult each other and forget the puzzle!

Rex was generous in his assessment.

chefwen 2:37 AM  

I am definitely in the minority here. Loved this. Was a wee bit confused at first, but caught on quickly after I had fillled in a few of the downs. MALE and SEND broke it open for me. I have never seen BROCCOLI RABE spelled RAAB, so that wasn't a problem. BISTRE was a new word, but I never saw the clue, filled in itself. This one was very clever and a lot of fun. Sorry y'all didn't enjoy it as much as I did.

Passing Shot 3:53 AM  

Too easy and not much fun. At least I learned BISTRE/BISTer, a word we’ll probably not see for another 30 years.

Loren Muse Smith 4:09 AM  

It’s homecoming week this week, and I have zero time. Since, once again, I get to oversee the float. And Since the kids have become lunatics. And since it’s “Spirit Week” and we have to dress up in certain ways every day (read- I desperately go through my closet for whatever will work.)

Anyway – I had to chime in after I read @Larry.

“We do the puzzle and then comment on this blog because we love the language, the culture, and the memories it evokes.” I know, right? So the thing that screamed at me during the solve was how unbelievably committed I’d be to the across clue and its spelling. It took a huge effort to relax, say the word, and let go of the orginial spelling. Huge. And this is particularly interesting to me because I was just telling a class that in the world of Language and Linguistics, the written systems, spelling, blah blah aren’t of as much interest in most of the sub-fields. Writing a language down is pretty recent if you’re looking at the whole scheme of things, and actually very few of the world’s languages even have a written system. So serves me right that I had such a hard time divorcing myself from the way the clue was spelled. Hah.

So that was my big take-away this morning. How powerful the spelling of a word can be.

And that “re” at a first glance in English is gonna be, as Rex said, reeeeeeeeee. I kept saying that out loud, too, hoping to get it.

BarbieBarbie 5:10 AM  

The constructor wanted to put “,say” after every Across 1-word clue, but the editor took the says out and put in that stupid note, making the whole thing feel more like one of those Sunday Cryptics, which I don’t do because I don’t enjoy them. Done the constructor’s way, there would have been a mini aha. But to be honest, I figured out the theme without looking at the note. Saw the Across clues were all one-worders, wondered what was up, started with the Downs, and then 1A made it obvious. Got hung up for awhile having COLOR instead of TONES, and of course spent most of my time circling BISTRE, which I still don’t know how to pronounce, though now I know it’s either on the yellow side of neutral gray, or a sort of terra cotta. So, learned something! Almost!
@Loren, interesting take.

Z 5:15 AM  

Hoes -> ? -> TUBE... I’m not getting it.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. This puzzle was buried under the weight and strain of its conceit. If you need BISTRE to make your conceit work maybe rethink publishing. I get how much fun this probably was to make, we all like challenges or we wouldn’t be solving crosswords, but it was a fairly joyless puzzle to solve. DNFed at BISTRE/TUBE and I all I can say is “really? Where did you buy your word list?”

Hey, just a suggestion, If I flag a link as rap and politics and you don’t like rap or politics you, maybe, should just not click on the link.

Chris 5:15 AM  

BISTRE came to me immediately as a stamp collector. Lots of older stamps have weirdly named colour shades. As such, came in a couple of minutes under Thursday average. Wasn't a big fan of the puzzle overall, though.

Pretty bad timing to have Donna KARAN show up in a puzzle.

Chris 5:17 AM  

@Z: Hoes -> Hose -> TUBE.

Thomaso808 5:17 AM  

I loved this puzzle. What a great concept. All the Across clues provided an extra layer of homophone puzzlement, especially the ones that had multiple possible homophones. Unlike Rex, and also Jeff Chen, I am OK with the departure from usual rules for meet = meat = HAM, flour = flower = PEONY, etc. for this effort to keep the across clues to one-word.

Also, GLIMMER is a perfectly fine answer for Re = Ray, as in "glimmer of hope" vs. "ray of hope".

ALL the Across clues are one-word clues and homophones. The answers work, at least on some level. For me, this was fun to solve. So far with the comments here, it seems I am in the minority, but I really hope people will way = weigh in that this was fun!

Lewis 6:06 AM  

First, what I liked -- the clue for CASH, the word GLIMMER, and the CASH out.

Next, what I didn't like. Nothing! I got a lovely "Aha!" at figuring out the gimmick, then loved the extra step needed to go from the across clues to the answers. Yes, this was a stunt, and a stunt is only good if it makes for a good solve. This surely did for me. I certainly respect the many here who disliked the solve, but that wasn't my experience in the least. It was a motivated workout to me, not a slog.

So, after enjoying the solve, I was stunned at the stunt itself. Alex didn't use a computer to put this together; according to his notes, he did it manually. I bow down to him, thinking what work it must have taken to do this.

I was impressed with the number of homophones in the grid itself: NEIL, SEWN, AIMS, ANTE, RABE, LIARS, PAYNE, DOZE, EWE (and there may be more).

I never got board, and this was know small feet. Many thanks, Alex!

Hungry Mother 7:04 AM  
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Hungry Mother 7:12 AM  

So much fun! I flew through this one. This is exactly the kind of wordplay that I crave. Trivia contests belong elsewhere.

kitshef 7:21 AM  

Clothes???? No. And don’t get me (or Anoa Bob) started on DRY ROTS.

BISTRE was new to me and I expected a DNF as it looked so off.

PPP felt really low, which is nice. But not at all enjoyable overall. Once you get the trick, which is early, it’s just grind it out to the finish.

Looking back at Rex’s review, seems like we’re pretty much in agreement – except on the level of difficulty. Way faster than a normal Thursday.

Anonymous 7:33 AM  

Mustard is a homophone for mustered which is what troops do when they are called together.

Mohair Sam 7:41 AM  

Check the menu - Tony Luke's incredibly delicious Roast Pork Italian sandwich in Philadelphia comes with Broccoli RABE not raab - end of discussion.

I think the fact that we have seen BISTRE only five times previously in NYT puzzle history and not once since 1988 is kinda cool. Sorry Rex. It was the only challenge this puzzle offered for heaven's sake.

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

When Donna Karan said women are asking for it by the way they dress, she was taken out of context.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

When I saw Pence, my TDS kicked in and I became unhinged, but I'm a sniveling snowflake.

Anonymous 8:00 AM  

Loved it!! Great fun with mental snags and twisting my way out. Thanks, Alex!

Irene 8:05 AM  

Lots of fun. I wouldn't want it every day, but it added a pleasant little jolt to a Thursday morning.

A propos of broccoli rabe. The name in Italian is rape (rah-pay), and I once got into trouble but letting that spelling go through in a newspaper article.

Anonypuss 8:09 AM  

This was a clever puzzle and fun to figure out, especially the mind-benders like slight, mustard, sense, and re. My time was slightly faster than average so my only complaint is that it didn't take long enough.

But I see I'm in the minority. I'll stay that way, thanks.

GHarris 8:13 AM  

A fun workout with a satisfying finish. I think Rex,s problem is that he has or seeks too much information; who cares whether or when an answer last appeared in the NYT?

Gretchen 8:22 AM  

Sorry to disagree, Rex, but I thought this was fun. It made me smile every time i figured out a homophone. My only criticism would be that it was a little too easy for a Thursday, but I enjoyed it. I liked learning about bistre, the definition of which I am going to use in a poem about the fires in California. Thanks for the inspiration, Alex.

Two Ponies 8:31 AM  

I thought this was a good playful puzzle and a refreshing twist for Tricky Thursday. The words with multiple possibilities were especially nice challenges. The entire concept increased my already high esteem for those who teach English to children and the solvers who speak English as a second language.
You have to be a genuine word lover to get a kick out of this one.

QuasiMojo 8:32 AM  

I think the "raab" guy is pulling our floret.

"Miros" is acceptable. One could hear people say things like "the Met had more Picassos than the Tate," etc.

Dryrots, I doubt it. (I had LogJams at first.)

Almost a DNF because I had DARN for SHOOT (before DART).

This felt more like a Tuesday (except of course for BISTRE).

Too easy once you get the gimmick.

And I know of many professional COMICs who definitely are not WITs.

Unknown 8:35 AM  
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Anonymous 8:36 AM  

Took me too long to get the theme. In retrospect, it's rather obvious. I give it his one a thumbs up. Nice to see Rex didn't whine about Pence. I guess that resistance thing didn't work out.

Hartley70 8:36 AM  

This was a terrific Thursday! It certainly gets an A plus for uniqueness. I enjoyed the way I had to stop at each across clue and ponder a bit.. There was more than a bit of head slapping going on last night, and I just did it again as I finally saw "hoes" as hose and therefore TUBE. Duh. I put that B in as a guess last night and got the happy song.

I think @Loren explained why this was surprisingly difficult very well, and I'd like to be in her class, depending on the costume requirement of the day of course.

Tip of the hat to Alex and his charmingly twisted mind!

Unknown 8:37 AM  

This was a fun little puzzle. Liked the homophone angle a lot. (By the way - my iPhone keeps wanting to autocorrect homophone to "homophobe" which led to my earlier deletion once I caught it!)

Suzy 8:43 AM  


Foldyfish 8:55 AM  

I REALLY disliked this puzzle. Nuff said.

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

Great Thursday thanks. Re: bistre. I didn't know it either but easily inferable. It's nice to learn a new (old) word. Cheer up.

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

Sleight of hand = dexterity...stumped me for a long time too.

Glimmerglass 9:09 AM  

Good puzzle. Once I caught on to the gimmick, I thought of it as “puns and homonyms.” (I like puns.) The Latin word re is pronounced ray (in re). Does that help you let go of do re mi? Think of “a ray of hope.” GLIMMER is not bad at all. My solve went just like @Rex: solve the downs until a .”special relationship” made itself clear. Not very challenging (except BISTRE) — about medium for midweek. The difference is I enjoyed it.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

I get why a lot of people didn't like the puzzle. But it's a Thursday puzzle with a little trick or wrinkle. Some of you are literal pros at this (publishing puzzles here and other places). Some of you are just genius smart. I myself am proud when I can do a Sunday puzzle without googling anything--I am in awe of you guys.

I never time myself when I do crossword puzzles. Makes me too tense and bleaches out the enjoyment. But I have to say I sat down, started working on the clues, and was done within minutes. Funny how that works. Other puzzles that you all say were a breeze have me scratching my head and googling and otherwise DNF'ing.

Stanley Hudson 9:22 AM  

I got BISTRES on my fingers from this one!

Bad timing for KARAN and PENCE, both of whom have had rough weeks and deservedly so.

Blue Stater 9:28 AM  

Just. Awful.

SouthsideJohnny 9:28 AM  

How does Handsome get to CAB ?

jackj 9:31 AM  

"And where is the joy in ... figuring out the homophones"

O Homophone, O Homophone,
How lovely is your look-alike?

Blue Stater 9:33 AM  

@Tim Carey: Right on, bro': "smugness and elitism masquerading as erudition." Best and most accurate comment I've seen on what has become of these puzzles in the WS era.

Tita 9:33 AM  

@TomAZ...grate won!

Was proud to have figured it our early on. While it did approach slogginess, overall it was fun to disengage gears...kinda like double-clutching for the brain.

I did raise an eyebrow when some of the answers were examples rather than synonyms of the homophones.

This is definotely Thursday-worthy, but I am looking for a clever rebus next week!

(Ha ha...autocorrect just offered "weak" as I finished typing "week"... does Siri do the nyt puzzle?)

hankster65 9:34 AM  

I picked up on the trick very quickly, which is unusual for me, and went on to have great fun with it. For me, one of the most enjoyable puzzles in a long time. Loved it.

Sir Hillary 9:35 AM  

Easy to figure out the theme, hard and tedious to complete the puzzle. Slog-o-rama.

What would have been better is to make homophones out of a handful of clues and answers, such as Lickers >> RISE. Then star the appropriate clues, but lose the note and let solvers figure it out for themselves.

That way, you could build the puzzle around some high-quality pairs and not stress the grid as much. Forcing every across clue to be a homophone led to some pretty boring ones and was too much for the grid to bear.

Fave homophone clue: Slight >> DEXTERITY. Least fave: Meet >> HAM.

BISTRE is obscure and hard, but at least it's real. DRYROTS is just plain BS.

My errors: RumS > RYES and huMor > COMIC.

A feet two billed, butt knot a grate thyme.

hankster65 9:36 AM  

Don't ya just love the happy song?

Marcie 9:42 AM  

Loved it! What @Lewis and @Hartly70 said.

Tita 9:48 AM  

I meant to defend two of the terms Rex demeaned...

BISTRE...something I should have remembered from the Met exhibition on drawings from Rembrandt to Matisse...googling it today because of the puzzle learned me that I saw many examples of it in that art collection, but didn't realize it.

And as for licker/liquour, does no one remember the very unpc joke of the three girls describing their boyfriends as famous drinks? Grand Marnier, anyone?

Nancy 9:49 AM  

Loved it. When I took a peek at the outset, I thought it was going to be anagrams, and I was thinking: Been there. Done that. But, no -- it's homophones, a hoarse of a different culler. Once I had the Aha Moment, the puzzle was much easier. Until that point I was living off the Downs. I should have seen the whole thing earlier, but as long as I eventually saw it, no harm done.

I was having a lot of trouble thinking of the homophone for "slight", even though DEXTERITY was the obvious answer. Maybe that's because I always thought "sleight" meant "feint" or "trickery" in "sleight of hand". Didn't know it meant DEXTERITY. You learn something knew every day! This was fun! Have to go back now to read close to 80 posts (!!!!) and it's only 9:49 a.m., in order to find out if y'all mostly liked it.

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

At least some people liked the homonyms. Just about everybody hated the acronym puzzle not so long ago.

I thought this was easy. Caught on at SOWN.

Charles Flaster 9:55 AM  

Got homophones at -DEA.
Puzzle was enjoyable though super EZ.
I marvel at the construction and especially liked clue for DEXTERITY.
BISTRE is a new one.
Multiple choices made it more interesting.
Thanks AES.( my favorite presidential candidate of all time)

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Hansom cab, a horse-drawn carriage. Ubiquitous in Sherlock Holmes stories.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

I like rap. I like politics even more. I thought the performance you linked to was lousy. I'm not sure why you think people complaining about it means they don't like the subject matter. You're not a genius, god Knows, but even for you that's a strange conclusion to draw.

ranman 10:07 AM  

My summary exactly thanks for capturing:

“So that was my big take-away this morning. How powerful the spelling of a word can be.”

mathgent 10:07 AM  

I liked what Larry Gilstrap (2:30) said.

If today were Wednesday, I would have welcomed the novelty, but I expect more from a Thursday.

I heard a chilling story yesterday from one of my tennis buddies. A friend of his daughter was at the Las Vegas country music concert. When a person next to him was killed by multiple gun shots, he hit the ground and pulled the body over himself as a shield.

Chance 10:08 AM  

This puzzle was hilarious and fun, with a lot of a-ha moments. Rex seems duty-bound (he doesn't enjoy it) to suck the joy out of everything.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

I am with the stop whining group. The big stump was, as for most of you, "bistre." Otherwise, like Rex, I went into my "down only" mode (I do the NYT Monday and Tuesday that way, so I'm good at it.) I got "is it me?", then doze, and then I got the gimmick, so the rest was pretty easy, actually, although I had "shut" before "seal," and "bloom" before "peony." It is far, far from the best Thursday, and once you knew what was going on, a bit too easy. But Rex makes it sound almost evil. I would say it was "cutesy," which is not a compliment, but there was something satisfying about the "uh-oh" moment when you first saw it, followed by the satisfaction of the dominoes falling in a nice neat line.

Road Apple Red 10:12 AM  

@Z, Two days in a row you're going on about a video of your pet moron in a parking garage. You seem to be easily entertained.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Z is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

Chance 10:24 AM  

Although I will say I agree about the constructors' unfortunate penchant to pluralize things that just don't take plurals (DRY ROTS?).

wgh 10:25 AM  

Well, at least it had a trick to it. (As all Thursdays should.)

GILL I. 10:28 AM  

Oh, wow. This was a love/hate relationship. The hate came first. I figured I do a @Rex and just work on the downs. I'm hitting all the blanks at EDITH EMMA and remembering how to spell Neal/Niel/NEIL. Damn, he gets me every time. Frustrated, I look at this thing and go "Oh, it's a whatchamacallit homophone or whatever." Cool. I actually had a lot of fun once I started saying the words out loud.
English....damn you! why can't you be phonetic and stick to phonetic spelling like the rest of the sane world...(well, at least the Latin world)...
MOBILIZED and DEXTERITY were the hardest for me. I kept saying Mustard out loud. I kept saying Slight out loud. The AHA came after it filled itself in with the downs. I'm loving this some more. @chefwen...You were the first one I read who liked this puzzle as much as I and I thought dang, I'll mosey on over to her side and buy her a drink. I'm glad others chimed in with the "likes."
Broccoli RABE is nasty. It tastes pretty good with lots of garlic and olive oil, but the little end pieces always end up stuck in your front tooth.
I used to wear a lot of Donna Karan - still have some of her DKNY. Tell me why she had to go and open up her fat mouth in defense of Harvey Weinstein? He's the pig of the century. I think I'll donate her stuff to the Women's Shelter.
I liked this Alex Eaton Salners. I like your name as well and I'll also buy you a RYES or suits your heart....

Unknown 10:42 AM  

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Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

@ mathgent, Moral dilemma to be sure. If you are sure the person is dead then it is a very smart survival tactic. If you are not then it sounds very cowardly. Not being there myself I refuse to pass judgement on such a serious question that had to addressed so quickly in a crisis situation.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

I wonder if Rex knows that the sorry/not sorry schtick is Mr. Garrison's catchphrase on South Park, a show that regularly lampoons the PC culture Mike Sharp embodies.

jb129 10:58 AM  

Not even going to bother - which, even thought it's Thursday, is still disappointing.

jberg 11:21 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny, Handsome = hansom, which was a kind of horse-drawn cab in the days of Sherlock Holmes.

Aside from the DRY ROT(S) right in the heart of the puzzle, this was OK, but too easy. I got the theme early, with We = little at 19A. That was wrong, of course, but it got me going. The problem was that the trick required answers that were not too difficult to figure out -- so much was it was really simple, once you knew the trick. It might have been better without the note -- just seeing that they were all one-word clues should have been enough.

I am reluctant to defend Russia, but for the record most of the irrigation that is draining the ARAL sea is not in Russia itself, but in our old friends the SSRs, esp. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

@ACME, I figured you'd like it once you got some peeks at the answers!

jberg 11:22 AM  

And I learned something today: the difference between sepia and BISTRE is that one is made of cuttlefish ink, the other of burnt wood. Who knew?

RooMonster 11:30 AM  

Hay Awl ! :-)
Put me in the group who liked this puz. Kinda neat that all the Acrosses were homophones. I had four wrong homophones when I wrote them out next to the clues, Cents-Scents(Sense), We-Whee(Wee), Writes-Rights(Rites), Bye-Buy(By). Some of the answers stretched the meanings (both homophones) ATAD, but overall it worked well. Pretty much dreck free, so that's also nice.

I submitted a themeless once with All clues as one word clues. They weren't homophones, just straight clues. I thought it was cool, Will, not so much. I made puz first, then did clues. I believe this puz wasn't done like that. Will have to check out the constructors blurb.

Oh, two complaints, DRY ROTS like most y'all, and YER as clued. Bad clue. Maybe Suffix work law would be better. Or a clue I used once, "___ dern tootin'!"


Anonymous 11:34 AM  

Eminem not exactly mensa material either, unless his aim is to get Trump reelected, in which case he's pretty clever.

emily 11:35 AM  

Hard, didn’t get the flow until halfway thru (in spite of reading the clue) had LANDGRANT for 33 down, which totally messed me up...hard Thursday for me.

The Clerk 11:40 AM  

All one word, except for the implicit (e.g.)

Joseph Michael 11:44 AM  

Whether ewe like this puzzle or knot, you mussed admit it's won of a kind.

Didn't sea what was going on until I groked the connection between "Lodes" and A LOT. Then found it unexpectedly difficult in sum CASES to suss out the homophone. For instants, I solved 67A without knowing how I had dun sew.

Hand up for never having heard of no DRY ROTS in the plural or BISTRE in any form. Otherwise the cluing was pretty straightforward, making this a one-trick pony.

A four creativity. C four fun.

Aketi 11:45 AM  

Haha, I thought BISTRE was a paint color and wondered how on earth someone could remember one of the many names given to all those paint colors. So many TONES to choose from. I thought maybe it had been paint color of the year like the millennium pink chosen for 2017. I imagined it to be in the same family as "Fossil" that I initially selected for the bathroom walls and have now heretically applied to the kitchen floor with an accent of "Hush". It actually looks pretty compatible with those two. Little did I know it has such lofty origins as a favored color of artists. Maybe I could honor it by using it for floor stencils.

stonymed 11:46 AM  

not my favorite puzzle but i enjoyed it.... perhaps it took me a little longer than it should have to figure the 'trick' [didn't read the note] but thursdays are supposed to make us work a bit harder. rather than complain, i enjoyed having to stretch my brain.

Masked and Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Holey Tow Lea Dough, this musta been a son-of-a-bistre to construct. Introduces a whole new, wondrous concept: Desperate Clues! Luv it. Quirky & Different. Just what a ThursPuz oughta be.

fave desperate clues:

* {Mustard} = mustered = MOBILIZED. Actually, pretty much follows a dictionary synonym recommendation, sewww … ok.
* {Missal} = missile = ATLAS. This puppy kinda skips a half a dictionary beat. Reminds me of real old style crossword clues that ended with a period. {Lickers} and {Flour} and (Meet} and others dood a similar deed.
* {Bate} = bait = TRAP. Usually U use the bait to lure the critter into the trap. If U just set the bait out by itself, U ain't likely to achieve the desired result.

fave fill entry, hands down: ERDOC. Debut desperation. I thought DRYROTS was passable possible, btw.
staff weeject pick: YER. As in: YER a suffix, now, dood.

Thanx, Mr. Eaton-Salners. Keep up the weird work. Even tho the solvequest hurt my head a little. Probably on account of what @muse said.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


r.alphbunker 12:00 PM  

Loved the puzzle. Puzzles are supposed to be puzzling and this certainly was. Details of my solutions are here.

Tim Aurthur 12:04 PM  

Are there more than one kind of DRYROT? As in, "Of all the DRYROTS we know about, BAOBAB DRYROT is the worst."

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

I thought that it was the most interesting Thursday puzzle in many weeks. Got the theme after filling as many downs as possible. Even then still some tougher sledding in a few places. That made it fun. First running through homophones, then figuring what might fit the pattern. Many surprises and a few smiles when I got it. Pen and paper, one cup of coffee after breakfast. Off to work.

Cassieopia 12:10 PM  

@anon 1:03, I’ve only seen it as “rabe” but I’m in Philly, did not realize it’s a regional thing until @mike 1:18 pointed it out. Very cool. The things I learn here.

Suzie Q 12:11 PM  

@ Tim Aurthur, Good one!
The rest of you can stop with the homophone jokes. I get it!
You're making my head hurt :)

Wileyfex 12:21 PM  

SUCH complaining! It was a nice change, a challenge to figure out the trick, and then fun. A treat after the trick. Re re: do re mi

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

"Rape" is, or was,the preferred spelling in English (as in Italian, as someone pointed out), and in English is pronounced just like the word for assault, but with a different etymology. I think the changeover to "rabe" came in the last 50 years, for the obvious reasons--people came to wince ordering it. There's even a "rape oil" derived from the rapeseed (ugh!). Likewise, after Flipper, people became uncomfortable ordering "dolphin" from the menu, so that fish got renamed.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

DrBB 1:15 PM  

"Re, a drop of golden sun"

I dunno. I got that the cross answers were going to be pretty oblique to the clues, even once you made the mental homophone switch, and I figured that was just an unstated rule for this one. It worked a different part of my brain than a standard xword, and that made it fun to crack. Ok, pluralizing DRYROTS is pretty lame, and I wanted BISTRE to be BISQUE but it didn't hang me up since the crosses all seemed solid--I just figured it was the constructor using his obscure word allotment--fair enough. OTOH I liked 20A, since there are multiple homophones for WRITES, so RITUALS wasn't obvious but perfectly valid. And no shout-out to ANDRE (the Giant) ever comes amiss in my book.

Teedmn 1:26 PM  

This is the first Thursday in a while that had a trick worthy of the name. I loved it. I, too, went into downs only solving mode until finally, somewhere around PARTS and ALOT, I got the theme. I had to go back and fill in all the spots where the downs had been WOES (CAM, EDITH, IS IT ME?) Very fun!!

19A, with PE______ in place, I was thinking of the "we" homonym as a synonym of "urine", so going PEepee did sneak into the grid briefly before I smacked some cents into my head. Sheesh, since when would Will let that get published?

Although some here have complained that the trick meant that there was little humor in the clues, I found "Priest from on high?" at 54D made me really take a leap of faith since the only gimme in the SW was NO MSG.

Yeah, BISTRE, lustre, blister, bistro, ochre, I was pretty sure that was a DNF when it filled in but not, yay.

Re, re, re, kick 'em in the knee. Hah, I've seen the do RE mi...notes used in Scrabble so many times that Re = [ray] didn't really hold me back.

Thanks, Alex Eaton-Salners, great puzzle.

CLB 1:30 PM  


Thomas 1:32 PM  

I found this rather challenging but fun, and I showed it to my highly educated and well read wife after I completed it in about average time. She couldn’t make heads or tails of the acrosses until I pointed out the trick, and even then had difficulty with seeing many of the connections. I love puns, she finds them annoying. I think your observation about the importance of the written word in our culture explains why most people seem to share my wife’s opinion. It’s no wonder that puns are considered childish, since children are unencumbered by literacy. I’m not sure what that says about us pun lovers. I’d like to think we’re embracing our inner child.

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

A dolphin is not a fish, moron.

Bob Mills 1:59 PM  

As usual, I disagree with Rex. I thought the idea was clever; once I got it, however, the puzzle was an easy solve.

Fred Romagnolo 1:59 PM  

Emoluments seemed to fit 33 D, but acrosses solved the puzzle; which is the opposite of how most of us went at it. In my (Western) edition of the NYT is a blurb about the Eminem video on the same page as the puzzle. That should appease @Z.

Joe Dipinto 2:15 PM  

Hated it. Hated the way it looked, hated the strained cluing, hated the boring fill, hated bistre, hated Max Payne, hated dry rots, hated every single thing about it.

In short, I hated it.

Anoa Bob 2:35 PM  

"Left unprotected from the elements, a soft, porous wood DRY ROTS much more quickly than a dense, hardwood." The Woodworker's Apprentice, 1882.

I've never seen a POC that couldn't be justified, even if it involves quoting from a work that doesn't exist. From the above linked POC Doc (which does exist): "Often times the word getting an "S" or "ES" can be clued as either a noun or verb. LOVES would be an example. Clueing it as a verb rather than a noun doesn't change the fact that a POC has been used to boost the letter count and---I think it's worth repeating---make it easier to fill the grid."

The POC that stood out for me was the helper/cheater square S, two-for-one POC at the end of 12D DSC and 20A RITUAL. With the letter S making up only about 8% of the gird (compared to about 6% in standard English text), however, the trusty POCometer wasn't even stirred out of its sleep mode on this one. Grids often come in with the S making up 10-12% or more of the total letters in the grid, pushing them into POC-assisted or even POC-marked territory. Not so today.

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

The fish listed on menus as the mahi-mahi (I think) would have been listed as a dolphin 60 years ago, and it is indeed a fish, sometimes called the dolphin-fish or the dorado. Flipper and dolphins that are protected is another species altogether, and I think the identical name is some odd coincidence. The problem with explaining to children that we were not eating Flipper led to the renaming.
Anon. i.e. Poggius. Cf. anon. 1:37 p.m.

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

Anon 1:37 when you call a person a moron, you should try not to be factually wrong because that makes you the moron.

Dolphin or Dolphinfish used to be a common item on American restaurant menus and it referred to the species Coryphaena hippurus, which is in fact a fish. Because of the reasons explained by Poggius, the same fish is now listed on menus as Mahimahi.

Charley 3:10 PM  


Dick Swart 3:26 PM  

While I am pistre at bistre, the downs seemed to be deliberately crosswordese.

This seemed a good base for starting the puzzle. And it was. Depot was the homophone key for me. The rest wasn't that hard except for pistre/bistre.

I find the Rex criticism based on the quality of construction wearing. I play with pen and ink (this am, a brown Lamy Safari with Lamy Brown ink) for the satisfaction of playing over tea and a chocolate croissant.

The words from Rex are off-piste and bistre journalism.

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

@Anonymous 3:04, thank you for confirming that dolphins are not fish, which was my assertion. Now run along and have your afternoon milk.

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

Anon 1:37, 3:29
You must be a Trump supporter with twisted logic like that.

Pdxrains 3:48 PM  

That was horrid. Quit once I got to ATLAS. GTF out with that. It’s like a really difficult treasure hunt where the treasure is a bag of turds

Jim 3:51 PM  

Jeez. What a bunch of whining about a different kind of Thursday puzzle!!! It was enjoyable as a change of pace.

semioticus (shelbyl) 3:52 PM  

One can only enjoy this puzzle if they realize what the gimmick is at the exact right moment, and that's a very tight window to be sure. It's like this avocado meme. If you realize it too early, it becomes so not fun to solve. If you realize it too late, the "aha" moment is so behind you that you just flat out hate it.

Overall, a very unnecessary gimmick.

Two Ponies 4:02 PM  

Now That link I clicked on and I'm glad I did.
Thanks for the laugh @ semioticus. So true!

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

She made the news recently protecting Mr Weinstein, or whatever his name is, and walking back her comments shortly after she made them. This puzzle made me cringe too.

Thomaso808 4:08 PM  

@semioticus, good point and great link!

DigitalDan 4:12 PM  

I didn't know SLEIGHT could be used without OF HAND. I'm still not sure it can. Who knew the word had a meaning on its own?

t-dawg 4:37 PM  

While I agree that there were some annoying parts, I disagree overall and I found great fun and challenge in the homophones once I figured it out. I do the NYTX every day but I don't need them to be perfect or exactly the same every day.

Nancy 5:33 PM  

@semioticus -- Spurred on by Two Ponies and Thomas, I clicked on your avocado link. Glad I did. Very funny and very true.

But I'm wondering if my internist might have stolen it. On my last visit, feeling that I had perhaps been a bit long-winded in describing a symptom, I said, "But to make a long story short --" and he cut me off. "Too late," he said.

Trombone Tom 5:36 PM  

Late to the party as last few days occupied with fires too close to home.

Put me on the like side, after being totally shot down by the across clues. Enjoyed the word play. BISTRE was a WOE.

Think positive thoughts for the first responders in California and say a little prayer that the north wind doesn't kick up again.

GILL I. 6:00 PM  

@Trombone Tom...Blowing pretty bad in Sacramento. Scared some idiot might toss a lighted cigarette out the window. If that happens, I'll see ya in hell.

clk 6:04 PM  

Totally agre with you, right down to getting RABE immediately.

Larkin 6:12 PM  

I hated this, it was like torture...

Unknown 6:13 PM  

This was a hateful exercise in frustration

Bax'N'Nex 6:35 PM  

Waah, waah, waah... what a bunch of spoiled children (those who didn’t like this puzzle). “I didn’t get the theme, so I hated it”. Couldn’t figure out the homoph9nes, so I hated it”. “Had to actually stop to think, (slowing my all important time), so I hated it”

I thought it was a lot of fun, different and thought provoking. And if Nancy liked it, i’m In.

Hey, was that commercial for Life cereal in the 80’s(?) of “let Mikey try it; he hates everything” fame just an eerily prescient precursor to our own Mikey Sharpe? ‘Cause he certainly hates everything. Pompous ass. One of the “cool kids” who sits in the corner and sneers at everything.

BTW...didn’t see anything in the posts, and it may be there, but RE for glimmer is for “a ray (glimmer) of hope, etc.

OISK 7:00 PM  

Me too

OISK 7:06 PM  

Loved it. Also one of the easiest Thursdays for me in a long time.

Joe Dipinto 7:36 PM  

@semioticus 3:52 -- you got it exactly right. I figured out the gimmick after filling in only four or five answers and then felt like, "Oh jeez, now I have to 'solve' the rest of this crud?" I shouldn't have even bothered.

Unknown 7:40 PM  

My reaction to this puzzle led me to a bit of soul searching/self-diagnosis. Things I know about myself and puzzles: I love best the ones where I struggle a bit then succeed and enjoy the mastery/wordplay. I tend not to like the ones that never gracefully click together, especially if I fail to figure out the trick. And I could certainly learn from people like @Loren and others who always see the silver lining. Must be great to see the world through those lenses - gotta learn to make me some!

Buggy Bunny 7:45 PM  

well, it's better than all those multi-syllable, multi-word, rebus squares so common on Thursday.

Rachel Dicker 7:59 PM  

Long time reader, first time commenter.

How is nobody talking about FLOUR = FLOWER = PEONY? It’s a type of flower, not a synonym for one. So actually following the theme I wrote in BLOOM, couldn’t figure my way around it, saw the crosses and was like “it can’t be...” got a DNF by checking and lo and behold.

Look, I thought it was a cool conceit. More hits than misses. But if you’re gonna go this obscure, your execution better be clean as a whistle.

Tita 8:14 PM  

@Semioticus - thanks for the link!
@Nancy - I've had that retort on occasion - guess what - I'm no less verbose in person!

@Rachel - welcome!
Some of us did mention what you've noticed - I just mentioned it in general - but there are a few examples - Hansom is a type of CAB. HAM a type of mete, ATLAS a type of missal, maybe more.

Carola 8:22 PM  

Fun with English! I enjoyed this different take on a Thursday. While it was easy to get the gimmick, not all of the homophones came quickly to me, and the mix of synonyms and examples made it more difficult, too. Favorite moment: DEXTERITY, after failing to think of "sleight,". BISTRE was totally new to me; I was interested to learn that it was often used as the "wash" in Old Master drawings.

Sandy McCroskey 9:36 PM  

I rate this as Way Too Easy. After brief befuddlement, the gimmick was clear. And then it ceased to be intriguing. If all the Acrosses were definitions by example, you could say that was part of their specialness that you're supposed to work out for yourself—but that isn't the case.

Sandy McCroskey 9:42 PM  


Joe Bleaux 10:17 PM  

For reasons I won't bore anyone with, I was unable to see the Oh-boy-maybe-tricky-but-fun-Thursday-puzzle until way past dinner. I get home, I get comfy -- and I find this POS, not worth the 10 minutes I wasted on a short, quick, very partial solve before tossing it in the recycling bin.

Anonymous 12:12 AM  

This puzzle just plain sucked. There was nothing fun about it, and it's the worst puzzle NYT has published in my memory.

Carence 10:47 AM  

I really enjoyed it!

Unknown 12:32 PM  

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Anonymous 12:57 PM  


Anil 9:29 PM  

Maybe I am not educated in crosswords but I thought this was clever and fun. I enjoyed the brain racking part of the acrosses.

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Diana, LIW 9:20 PM  

All went perfectly today with Mr. W's procedure. Thanks for caring. More on the (fun!) puzzle tomorrow when we return home.

Lady Di

rondo 9:29 AM  

Red the note, red three or fore across clues, got the IDEA and the wrest is history. One shining w/o with RumS before I got a RYES. Otherwise no PAYNE.

Choice of yeah babies leads me to EMMA Watson.

It’s a puzzle. EWE had two figure things out. Better than a rebus. Don’t bee afraid of sum mental DEXTERITY.

Burma Shave 10:27 AM  


ISITME who should NEIL before EWE
and recite PARTS of the SCOUTOATH?
Or EVA and EDITH? (I got a RYES from them both.)

this stream of unconsciousness brought to you by MOBILIZED DEXTERITY

thefogman 11:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefogman 11:17 AM  

No anger here. But I guess I'm a sucker for COMIC homonymic clues. Rex (aka Mister Bistre Resister) needs to stop throwing so many DARTs.

spacecraft 12:04 PM  

Saturday-tough. A fine aha! moment after several minutes of wha????? Along with OFL, I cry foul on the plural of DRYROT--unless there are sub-varieties of the disease of which I'm not aware, and (c'mon now, man!) BISTRE?? Talk about YER "eau de speration!" IPASS.

(BTW, since the advent of bidding boxes--made necessary by a team of American [!!!] cheaters in an international tournament--no one in organized bridge speaks in the bidding any more, and even in casual games, you're not supposed to say "I" before "PASS.")

MIROS was another WOE, but crosses were fair enough throughout. One w/o at TiNtS before TONES. I was fortunate to ESCAPE this one with a no-help finish. ATON of DOD candidates here; I'll axe Ms. Gabor and nominate EVA Longoria. Dun. Birdie.

Diana, LIW 12:38 PM  

Pretty much what @Rondo said, even the rum to ryr. Looked at the list and had the theme in 10 seconds. Told Mr. W, I'm going to halve fun with this won. When I was done, I showed him the finished puzzle. Took him two turns thru the top row to get it.

I highly recommend taking a puzzle along whilst waiting for a medical procedure. As soon as you pop in about three answers, they are calling you back to your loved one's room. Thought we'd be in the hospital from 7 to noon, but they let him go at ten. The hotel was nice enough to give us an early check in.

No longer waiting for that!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords Only

Longbeachlee 1:16 PM  

Actually the concept did offend me. Like, so what?

thefogman 1:16 PM  

@D,LI: So glad that wait is off your shoulders!

rondo 1:38 PM  

@foggy - Icy what EWE did there, too FER won.

rainforest 2:24 PM  

Loved it, or hated it. Very little middle ground with this puzzle, it seems.

I am in the positive group. I thought the conceit (hate the use of that word, btw) was inspired, but quickly picked up on. Makes you understand the difficulties immigrants have with the English language.

Maybe there *is* more than one kind of DRY ROT, and anyway that bothered me only a little. BISTRE is just fine. The only homophone I wondered about was "clothes". When I say that word, I pronounce the "th", but the clue/answer seems to suggest that the homophone of "clothes" is "close". Is that the case here? Seems so. Regardless, it didn't detract from the enjoyment of solving this baby.

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

From Syndication Land:

@Diana, LIW so glad things went well for Mr. Waiting.

As for this puzzle, my experience was the same as LMS above. I had to look away from the across clues and say the word several times to myself. It's amazing how my mind was led to the original spelling of the clues.
I thought this was an enjoyable exercise because I love words and all the fun we can have with them! Great job Alex Eaton-Salners!

Anonymous 2:52 PM  

We thought it very entertaining and we admire the creativity that went into it. Once we got the theme, it was fun to solve. Some making comments are perhaps too young to pronounce Latin (re) or know what a handsome is.

thefogman 3:12 PM  

Cheers D,LIW!

In a very technical sense, there are indeed several types of dry rot. Dry rot not only refers to the condition of fungus-infected wood. It also refers to the various fungi that attack and damage the wood:

Brown-rot fungi of particular economic importance include Serpula lacrymans (true dry rot), Fibroporia vaillantii (mine fungus), and Coniophora puteana (cellar fungus), which may attack timber in buildings. Other brown-rot fungi include the sulfur shelf, Phaeolus schweinitzii, and Fomitopsis pinicola. Source: Wiki

leftcoastTAM 5:29 PM  

CARE In the NW corner and NEAR in the SE corner were the first revealers of the "unusual relationships" to go in. Thought the rest of it would just be a matter of filling in the blanks, but that wasn't at all the CASE.

Got tougher and much more interesting as I moved along.

The East middle was the last section to fall, from CAB at the top to PEONY at the bottom, but BISTRE, a real outlier, demanded all of the crosses.

Great Thursday challenge, and very clever and "unusual" one.

leftcoastTAM 5:59 PM  

West middle. (Wondering now about knowing my left hand from my right.)

Diana, LIW 6:26 PM  

@Lefty - as long as you don't start calling yourself @rightcoastTAM we won't send out an APB.

Lady Di

kitshef 8:49 PM  

@Rainforest. I, too, pronounce clothes with a soft 'th' sound. And I assumed that was the norm. Apparently, it's not. Most dictionaries I looked at put a 'th'-less pronunciation first, and all listed it as an option. The mind wobbles.

leftorrightcoastTAM 9:33 PM  

Thank you, Lady Di, but please keep a watch on me. (I recently became an octgenerian.)

leftcoastTAM 11:15 PM  

Octogenarian! (typo, I swear).

Sharonak 1:36 AM  

Found this fun, working out the homophones then the answers. See no problem with some of them being examples or types like peony, because that is often the clue answer pattern in crosswords. That is , if the clue had been "flower" the answer might have been peony or rose or any kind of flower.

Had to cheat to get the trick of the theme. Once I knew it, found it fun. Occasionally very difficult. Never did understand glimmer until I came here. Now think DUH, dumb me.
got totally hung up on dexterity being the answer for slight because did not know of spelling for sleight of hand. I had thought of elite of hand, but looking up the definition, (which, by the way I do not call cheating) did not work so...

wcutler 3:21 AM  

Y'all had a note? My paper did not have a note. I kept thinking there would be a cute revealer, or something that would legitimize all the homophones. Or even that there would be more to it, that there was something special about the clues that I hadn't yet realized. Still, I found it fun, particularly since there were several I really had to work at (and three I didn't get).

Tarheeled 3:03 AM  

Anonymous 1:37. There are two kinds of dolphin, moron.

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