Dish whose name means pierce flesh / Scifi series before DS9 / Brave person typically / Fitbit had one in 2015 / Attraction on bank of Yamuna River / Literary orphan who lived for while in cupboard

Friday, November 24, 2017

Constructor: Bruce Haight and David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: three hats, or one hat falling through space in one way or another...FLIPPING ONE'S LID (17A: Snapping ... as suggested by some black squares in this puzzle) / AT THE DROP OF A HAT (58A: With only slight provocation ... as suggested by some black squares in this puzzle), and there is a black square pattern through the middle of the grid that suggests a "flipping" or "dropping" hat, allegedly...

Word of the Day: The AGATHA Awards (46D: Name on an annual literary award) —
The Agatha Awards, named for Agatha Christie, are literary awards for mystery and crime writers who write in the cozy mystery subgenre (i.e. closed setting, no sex or violence, amateur detective). At an annual convention in Washington, D.C., the Agatha Awards are handed out by Malice Domestic Ltd, in six categories: Best Novel; Best First Mystery; Best Historical Novel; Best Short Story; Best Non-Fiction; Best Children's/Young Adult Mystery. Additionally, in some years the Poirot Award is presented to honor individuals other than writers who have made outstanding contributions to the mystery genre, but it is not an annual award. (wikipedia)
• • •
  • A. themed Fridays are almost always unwelcome—it's the Best Chance for a good and crunchy puzzle I'm going to get all week, and themes just spike the likelihood of corny cruddiness
  • B. that "hat" thing with the black squares might be a "flip," but is IN NO WAY a "drop" 
  • C. that "flip" is rotating in what feels to me like the wrong direction
  • D. that is barely a "hat"
And just now, I figured out what was bugging me. I *knew* something was off. It's the damned center hat—it's Not Centered. That is some nails-on-my-mental-chalkboard stuff. See how MAIN SQUEEZE (6D: Steady) comes all the way through, but there's no equivalent long answer in the eastern half? That was the first thing that made me wonder what was up. Why not make this 16 wide? I mean, maybe there are things I haven't considered, but centering that damned hat feels crucial. The damned puzzle has the word CENTER in it ... and yet that damned middle hat is like "screw you guys, I'ma do what I wanna do!" ALD, NONPROS, and esp. ENPLANE (which is one of my evil nemesis words) can take a hike, but otherwise the fill is totally reasonable. Steinberg is an old pro (despite being the far younger constructor here), so you get some fill discipline, which is nice. But give me a Steinberg themeless any day over this. Or put this on a Thursday and for god's sake *center the hat*!

There was nothing particularly hard about this, and no genuine sticking points that I can see. I think MTA and CENTER, weirdly, gave me more trouble than anything else. I've been to NYC enough and been an public transport enough that you'd think MTA woulda sunk in pretty far by now, but I thought there was something Staten Island-specific about the answers, so MTA actually never occurred to me (52A: Staten Island Railway inits.). But otherwise, this was easy to zip through. Not sure why my time wasn't closer to a record (I was somewhere in the mid-5s). HOP IMPS SNOOT GOAT QATAR, in that order, all fairly quickly. And once you've got a "Q," you know you're on your way. Then that "Q" led to a "Z." And so forth. Normally, crushing a puzzle gives me at least a mild predisposition to like it. But today, no such outcome. Not badly made, just thematically off (and off-center).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Fred the Head 12:09 AM  

I kicked the hell out of this until I got to the NE. The NE kicked the hell out of me in revenge for what I did to it's buddies in the rest of the puzzle, but I eventually defeated it. And then I did my little kookey dance, like so:

Sue T. 12:15 AM  

As a mystery fan who has attended the Malice Domestic convention, it was pretty cool to see the Agatha Award crop up in the puzzle.

Bruce Haight 12:26 AM  

Well the middle hat was always going to be asymmetric no matter what size grid we went with (even 16x16) because the hat is asymmetric. It's true that it could have at least been horizontally symmetric at 15x16, but we thought these 15s were the best theme answers available. I still don't see why Will thought MEXICAN HAT DANCE was totally unacceptable.......... :) Happy Thanksgiving!

puzzlehoarder 12:32 AM  

This was an easy puzzle and as such a bit of a let down. It's nice looking and it doesn't insult your intelligence it just doesn't push it.

The grid spanners were gimmies and there's nothing really out there in the fill. The clues for SASHIMI, NAN, ZORRO and I think TAJMAHAL were late week but not hard to see through. I've never seen 'khamiri' before and it's never been used as a clue or an entry in the NYT but NAN was the first thing to go in. You can't hide material like that. ZORRO went in off the R of CREEPER and it let me change SPUMONI to TORTONI.

The POTTER clue seems off. The closet under the stairs is where he lived. It must be referring to when he was a baby. This bit of confusion along with a typo in 46D leading to a POPE/PAPA write over caused one of the few glitches. Finding the typo caused AGATHA to come into focus and it was all easy continuing clockwise from there.

Larry Gilstrap 1:09 AM  

I ate too much. I should have had SASHIMI instead of the plateful of turkey, etc. Next year!

Lots going on in this themed Friday puzzle. Two big old grid-spanners attempt to depict some rudimentary grid art, resulting in some strange symmetry. FLIPPING ONE'S LID finally appeared after I was FLIPPING wigs and tops. Many moments spent in the NW with that whole mess. Then I saw EARWIGS and actually thought about some INKhats, and what was I thinking? Lots of three letter fill to pull off the trickery. Clever work.

I attempted my own cleverness by trying to link the "world's highest per capita income" in QATAR with the world's highest capital in LHASA. Nice try, but La Paz, Bolivia is higher than LHASA, but here it gets tricky. Tibet is apparently no longer a country, as per Richard Gere, but there's that whole Sucre capital thing going on. I give up!

Nietzsche confirms my intuition: give up Twitter and go back to reading Moby-Dick. I'm taking baby-steps to feeling better about life.

Might I recommend the interview with Giles Martin on the motivation behind the effort to REMASTER the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's. The podcast on NPR Music is full of technical wonk, but he describes and illustrates the sonic limitations of the originally released mono and the subsequent stereo versions, comparing the mix he creates from the original masters, including session stuff no one has heard. His father George produced the original, so he brings that insight. For example, Ringo was a great drummer, if you can hear him.

Any whiskey can hit hard. I use Bourbon to flame a steak in the skillet. Delicious! Sipping neat or over the rocks, not so much. Feel free to name your poison.

Mike in Mountain View 1:15 AM  

As Thanksgiving ends here on the West Coast, I am thankful for the NYT puzzle and for Rex's blog, even though I usually like both the former and the latter and Rex often likes only the latter. I noticed the asymmetry today; it did not ruin my solving experience.

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow blog readers/commenters and to all of the constructors out there, especially the ones who check in on this blog (thanks, Bruce). May the puzzle entertain you, and may the community here enhance your enjoyment.

Anonymous 1:15 AM  

@puzzlehoarder, "cupboard under the stairs" is the exact phrase used by J.K. Rowling in the books, so there's that.

jae 1:28 AM  

Easier than yesterday's. I wanted yet where AGO went and am still having trouble making AGO work as a synonym for heretofore? Liked it more than @Rex did.

tkincher 2:06 AM  

The cupboard/closet thing is an American vs. British English difference. Smooth puzzle, I thought. Asymmetry doesn’t bother me. My only nitpicks:

- ENPLANE, as already stated
- The clue was easy enough, but isn’t is usually “The” RIDDLER?
- I hate finding EARWIGS anywhere, even if it’s just a crossword!

Fun Friday for me and a nice cap to a good Thanksgiving evening, a slight altercation between our old dog and our new puppy aside that I was IN NO WAY fond of. At least it settled down after that.

Birchbark 3:31 AM  

I like SASHIMI crossing SOFT TACO. And the Thanksgiving-dinner-table conversationalness of MAIN SQUEEZE? IN NO WAY.

We saw "Harry POTTER and the Cursed Child" at the PALACE Theatre in London earlier this week. Great story, mind-bending displays of magic, major league dementors. Protagonists, once they become parents, are not so much.

But shouldn't IVS be IIIIs? (As in every clock I've seen lately.)

Gholczer 3:42 AM  

Let’s be thankful that our complaints are an assymetrical puzzle, too much pie, not enough STINGERS and a lousy football game. IN NO WAY are those issues not ACLASS and.....My 3 grandchildren call me PAPA!

Thomaso808 4:15 AM  

This was a fun, gimmicky puzzle, I really enjoyed it. A couple of good grid spanners, stacks in the NW and SE, and a little asymmetry that allows for a MAINSQUEEZE on the brain down the middle. Thanks, Bruce and David! On Xwordinfo, David says there more collaborations to come. Yay!

I didn’t get to Rex’s FAN DUEL puzzle (from the Thursday blog) until late today, so I’ll comment on it here. (no spoilers!) As I worked my way through the grid I was not too impressed and in fact a little irritated by some of the very wonky, cumbersome clues. But as I started to see the pattern develop, my appreciation grew. When I finished the puzzle, I finally realized the full meaning of the theme. This was a timely and fitting testament to two record-breaking players. Big, big aha! Well done, Rex. Well done!

Lewis 6:09 AM  

This was a great puzzle. This was fun. This I didn't want to end, and I will blame anything negative I read about it as tryptophan-induced bile. Such terrific wordplay in the cluing -- TIP, CHISEL, OTTOMAN, ATLANTAN, STEADY, and JIM! Squeaky clean grid. Lovely answers: REMASTER, GANACHE, MAINSQUEEZE. Genuine ahas!

What a terrific solving experience, taking me from wake-up grogginess to soaring toward the day. More, much more like this please!

Lewis 6:12 AM  

Just a thought: TIP could have been a bonus answer, I believe, by cluing it "_____ one's cap".

evil doug 6:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 6:56 AM  

(Kramer has sold his stories to Peterman, who's ordered Elaine to write them down to zest up his unexciting book....)

KRAMER: So I'm waiting for the subway, It's not coming, so I decided to hoof it through the tunnel.
ELAINE: All right, well, now that's something...
KRAMER: Well, I don't know if I lost track of time - or what, but the next think I knew...
ELAINE: (Adding) A train is bearing down on you?!
KRAMER: No, I slipped - and fell in the mud. Ruining the very pants I was about to return.
ELAINE: (Reflects on the story) I don't were wearing the pants you were returning?
KRAMER: Well, I guess I was...
ELAINE: (Still confused) What were you gonna wear on the way back?
KRAMER: Elaine, are you listening?! I didn't even get there! (Pauses) All right, next story...
Elaine (exasperated): All right, I think I got enough for one day.
KRAMER: Yeah, yeah, CHEW ON that.
ELAINE: (Mocking) Yeah, I'll CHEW ON that....

Anonymous 7:08 AM  

Well, if an asymmetric hat was the main problem, I would say that Rex actually liked the puzzle pretty well. I enjoyed it as it had just the right amount of challenge to make me think on certain answers (like steady) or run the alphabet for other answers. Snappy.

kitshef 7:13 AM  

Thus endeth the string of beauty puzzles.

Easy overall, dull theme, SWATAT and ENPLANE and INNOWAY and IGOTTA and NONPROS and ACLASS and ALD/ALS.

If you don’t know EARWIGS, Google it and check out the images, which are CREEPERs. But also be aware that they don’t actually go into people’s ears.

QuasiMojo 7:31 AM  

Jeepers, CREEPERs, who cares about the hat being dead CENTER or not? I GOTTA agree with @Bruce Haight. No need to FlIP YOUR EARWIG over that, Rex.

I really enjoyed this Friday puzzler. I got stuck in the NE as well because I would not let go of SERENE instead of SEDATE. That forced me to be creative, such as putting L'HORE in rather than LHASA and then LEYTE, all of which left me enISLEd. Like an A CLASS fool. Luckily SASH was my godsend as I was having trouble passing the breakfast test with Clement Moore puking in his poem.

Happy Thanksgiving (again) y'all.

Jon Alexander 7:32 AM  

Apparently Rex thinks Middle Hat is pulling a Left Shark...going rogue

Hated this theme and the weirdness made for a struggle to move from top to bottom in what really seems to be two puzzles. Fill around the middle there gets particularly bad in order compensate for the merry whims of middle hat.

Robert A. Simon 7:39 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap: I trust you own the original mono mixes Beatles CD boxed set. If you REALLY know the albums--and by that, I mean "listened to them each at least a hundred times wrecked out of your mind," the differences are stunning. As far as the puzzle goes, I REALLY wanted INKJETS because wow! How cool! HP ripped off nature! And with temerity noted, might I suggest a far better clue for CHEERIO would have been, "Left at the bottom of the bowl, often."

mathgent 7:41 AM  

@Lewis (6:09): You said it very well. Great puzzle.

Usually I complain about too many Terrible Twos, but I didn't notice the 21 little buggers until I read Jeff Chen. A tribute to the cluing skill of the two authors.

I'm happy that Will Shortz rejected MEXICANHATDANCE as an entry. Whether it fits the grid art or not, it probably would have precipitated a lot of boring rhetoric from Rex and some of the rest of us.

It was nice to see TAJMAHAL as an entry instead of a clue.

Glimmerglass 7:52 AM  

“The center hat isn’t centered”? C’mon man! So what? Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. When I do something AT THE DROP OF A HAT, I don’t actually drop a hat. No one literally flips his lid. They’re metaphors, Rex. You do know about metaphors? The tumbling hat-shape is a perfectly acceptable visual. It’s lovely.

TomAz 8:07 AM  

I liked this puzzle just fine. i thought the flipping hat thing was cute. It was pretty fun to suss out and I didn't allow the lack of symmetry to detract from my solving experience.

It was pretty easy for a Friday, probably should have been slotted to Thursday.. but who knows, maybe Will's thinking is, it's the Friday after Thanksgiving, lots of friends and families gathered, maybe the crossword nerd says hey let's solve the Friday puzzle together, everyone groans because there goes Tom again with his crossword puzzle stuff again, and Fridays are so hard. But.. ok.. it's once a year, let's indulge him. ... Hey. this is not too bad. I thought Fridays were impossible but look we're getting it solved pretty easily. This is fun! Why, I think I'll become a crossword nerd like Tom, and send Will Shortz some money!

@Rex: did your Fan Duel puzzle late yesterday. That was really well done, and enjoyable. I like knowing the word 'voff' now.

Z 8:12 AM  

That damn middle hat. Besides being right of center (ugh) it’s friggin not upside down as a flipped or dropped hat would be. I mean, if I flipped my hat with back-spin then it would be okay. Or maybe it is a toque, but who flips a toque? Maybe the same kind of SNOOT who ENPLANEs?

Isn’t a SASHIMI SASH an obi? Curious crossword minds want to know.

@Birchbark - Your last line gets a X from me. Nicely done.

Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry POTTER and ZORRO in the same puzzle. This is an adolescent boy’s dream puzzle. I GOTTA admit that I do like the Nietzsche quote, though.

Lewis 8:13 AM  

By the way, today is David Steinberg's 21st birthday.

Alpha-Data 8:21 AM  

I didn't enjoy his one at all. The ONLY place I've ever seen "nan" instead of "naan" is in a crossword - I call foul! Hated "enplane" (autocorrect just tried to change it to emplane), and WTH is "ald"? Not one of Mr. Steinberg's better efforts, IMO.

Teedmn 8:26 AM  

For some reason, I spelled 1A SuSHIMI for a time, which had me looking for some sort of super hero UTLANmAN for a Brave person rather than a ATLANTAN ball fan. And I had trouble at LHASA. With LHotA in place, I was muttering about regional snack chip brands like CHItEL. Changing ACLoSS to ACLASS got me to LHASA and CHISEL - aha, that kind of chip.

Some nice cluing, as one would expect with DS and BH at the helm, for 35A's VOTER, 37D's EXIT LANE, the aforementioned ATLANTAN, 1D's SOFT TACO, 45D's PALACE. I did think 49A's clue for JIM Beam was trying to hard.

So a tip of the hat to today's Friday puzzle, thanks guys. Happy Birthday, David.

Z 8:31 AM  

@Anon geographic reference hater who probably won’t see my day late post to yesterday’s puzzle - I don’t think anyone thought of you as engaging in zealotry. Your suggestion may even be technically more accurate. Just don’t get your hopes up.

newspaperguy 9:12 AM  

"And just now, I figured out what was bugging me." Uh, that would be Will Shortz. And everything else.

Slick Willie 9:24 AM  

A few minutes before the church services started, the congregation was sitting in their pews and talking. Suddenly, Satan appeared at the front of the church. Everyone started screaming and running for the front entrance, trampling each other in a frantic effort to get away from evil incarnate.

Soon the church was empty except BILL CLINTON who sat calmly in his pew without moving, seemingly oblivious to the fact that God's
ultimate enemy was in his presence.

So Satan walked up to Bill and said, 'Do you know who I am?' The Clinton replied, 'Yep, sure do.'

'Aren't you afraid of me?' Satan asked. 'Nope, sure ain't.' said the calm as a clam Clinton .

'Don't you realize I can kill you with one word?' asked Satan. 'Don't doubt it for a minute,' returned Bill, in an even tone.

Did you know that I can cause you profound, horrifying AGONY for all eternity? ’ persisted Satan. 'Yep,' was the calm reply.

'And you are still not afraid?' asked Satan. 'Nope,' said Bill.

More than a little perturbed, Satan asked, 'Why aren't you afraid of me?' Bill Clinton calmly replied..……

'Been married to your sister for over 30 years!!'.

Nancy 9:35 AM  

I loved the clever and tricky cluing in this puzzle: SASHIMI; OTTOMAN; CHISEL; SFPD; ATLANTAN; JIM. But while I liked the two theme answers well enough, the grid art left me cold. One man's HAT or LID is another man's, oh, I don't know. Front stoop? Dais? Pregnant woman? Anyway, HATS that look like this went out in the 1940s. I'm enough of a SNOOT to say that a GUY who wore one today that looked anything like the grid art would not be A-CLASS.

State quarters (45D) would only be a PALACE if the state were a kingdom, right? Although... Oh, never mind. You already know what I'm tempted to say.

An enjoyable and smooth puzzle, though far from the most challenging Friday I've ever done.

Sir Hillary 9:42 AM  

Maybe it was my tryptophan hangover from yesterday, but I found this to be a slog.

NONPROS is almost cruel, given the plausibility of NOviceS and NewbieS.

I know pangrams are not a laudable objective, but B is an odd letter to be the one left out.

IGOTTA go figure out how to REMASTER my excess turkey. A SOFTTACO buffet may be in order...

Two Ponies 9:56 AM  

Lots to love today.

I got a chuckle from the clue for sash. The narrator vomited?

Now I know the name of Zorro's jaunty hat. I had such a crush on him as a child.

Not up on my Batman but with a name like E. Nigma who else could it be?

Does anyone still say main squeeze? Never liked that expression.

I've never been to NYC so I thought you took a ferry to Staten Island meaning any letters could go for that answer.

Nice quote from Nietsche. Depressing and serious of course.

Childproofing option - condom?

Thanks Bruce and David. 21? I remember that day. Don't hurt yourself.

Wm. C. 10:03 AM  

@Alpha-Dater8:21 --

Re: "wth is ALD?" (Clue: City Gov't Official)


Joseph Michael 10:20 AM  

Who made the rule that if you have a hat in your grid, it has to be in the CENTER? Come on, Rex, lighten up.

Got turned off instantly by the clue for 1A and then again by the vomiting image suggested by the clue for 11D, but the clever cluing overall eventually won me back.

Great misdirection for OTTOMAN, JIM, TIP, POETS, ATLANTAN, CHISEL (I so wanted "Intel" to fit in there), MAIN SQUEEZE, and EXIT LANE.

Didn't really care that much one WAY or another about the tumbling hat art or the two 15 themers which barely fit together. But it ended up being a fun solve anyway and for that I give THANKS.

Happy Birthday, David. Now you're old enough to have a couple of STiNGERS.

Mohair Sam 10:24 AM  

Two of my favorite constructors, what could go wrong? Fun puzzle.

We had a hard time getting a foothold here, but once we did (VOTER) things went fairly smooth. Nicely clued. Liked the hat trick - and I'm chuckling here because @Z has a point, that lid in the middle really ought to be upside down. I mean it would totally mess up the puzz, but Z is right - it oughta be upside down.

Lady Mohair joined our kids on every hair-raising amusement park ride out there, but she freaks out at the very thought of riding on a ferris wheel. She says the rocking of the CAR when the thing stops scares the hell out her - go figure.

@Kitshef - I take issue with your EARWIG comment. From the story line of a "Night Gallery" episode:
"An unscrupulous man who wants the beautiful wife of another colleague pays to have an EARWIG placed in the husband's ear. This insect will will tunnel through the victim's brain causing excruciating pain and certain death."
You can't possibly doubt the accuracy of a Rod Serling script, can you?

@Rex - Got to your baseball puzzle this morning. Lots of fun, thanks. Enjoyed it in spite of the fact it should have been titled "Paean to a Yankee".

@Phillies fans - If you were bewildered by the choice of new manager, take comfort that they have hired an assistant hitting coach with no experience and a .241 lifetime batting average in the minor leagues. He never made it to the bigs. You can't make these things up.

Hungry Mother 10:28 AM  

Nice puzzle, a bit easy for a Friday. I often start to work on the puzzle, get about halfway, and then go out for a run. Today, while I was running 10K, I was reciting the phonetic alphabet I learned in the Army when I was a commo chief. I got stuck on Sierra until I got back home and on the puzzle again while I iced my knees.

roscoe88 10:47 AM  

as a newbie to solving friday puzzles, i thought this interesting puzzle had nice clues and fun answers. what i don't understand is why all the carping about the shape and the theme. it's a box and requires thinking outside of it sometimes. nuf said.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Alright, can someone use the phrase "flipping one's lid" in a sentence. Class, anyone? (cricket)

Lucy Bell?

Um, yes ma'am. When one is flipping one's lid, one should ... (cricket) should ...

Yes dear? Go on. should be mindful of where said lid goes because the drop of a hat, especially when enplaning, can mean going lidless in Georgia where you will draw stares, especially from Atlantans.


Thank you dear. That was ... non ... terrible.

DrBB 11:17 AM  

Yeah, hate it when a Friday (or thank goodness only rarely) a Saturday has a theme. No problem with any of the quadrants for me, except my ignorance of Trattoria menus (43D) prevented me from getting the "correct" (that is to say, totally BS!!!) cross at 62A. TORTOMI isn't a thing, but then neither (I insist) is ENPLANE, so I'm counting it as a win in my personal score ledger. :-P

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Brits refer to this space as a cupboard

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

I have no hope or illusions (on that score anyway).
Though actually I an a geography reference lover... just not this one:)


jberg 11:34 AM  

DNF -- I GOTTA read those Harry Potter books, I guess, as he never occurred to me -- I ran the alphabet but didn't get past C, and went with PAcA/cOTTER. I figured maybe Oscar Paca was a famous PR guy, or something. Had I remembered the darn phonetic alphabet, I would have been OK, but all I could think of was Peru or Polo. Gah!

Thanks for stopping by, @Bruce Haight -- or should I say stepping into the lion's den. You're a brave man.

And what's with all the GANACHE lately? I'd never heard of it until recently, and now it's all over the place.

BarbieBarbie 11:38 AM  

Ive been looking for someone to point this out, but I guess it’s me.

Imagine yourself grabbing the hat off your head and tossing itinto the air so that it describes a little loop on the way to the ground, hatstand, whatever. THE HAT WILL NEVER TRAVEL THROUGH THE CENTER OF THAT LOOP. Sheeeeez.

I liked this puzzle a lot, and I had the same tussle with SERENE in the NE that others did. All part of the fun. Good fill, clever clues, and even a theme. What a great Friday. These two are already my favorite constructors, so together they couldn’t lose.

If anybody here knows DS please wish him a very happy 21st!

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

[Not anonymous—Paul Steinberg, but couldn't get sign-in to work.] Long-time solver, long-time reader, and first-time responder here. Since David was gracious enough to talk about me in his June MINCE WORDS Thursday puzzle and dedicate that puzzle to me for Father’s Day, I thought I’d return the favor today. This collaborative puzzle with Bruce Haight is coming out on David’s 21st birthday. In a sense, he has grown up in the crossword world in his puzzles, at the ACPT, at the NPL, and in blogs like this one. And his mom and I have grown up with him. We were there when David created his first crossword as a 10-year-old for his 5th-grade English affinity project. (When his classmates asked him how he did it, he said “with my brain and my Scrabble dictionary!”) We were there when he persevered through 16 rejections before getting his first puzzle into the NYT at 14. We were there when he published his first book of puzzles at 15 and when, in the same year, he was asked to create and edit a weekly puzzle for The Orange County Register. We were there when he decided he really wanted to know what the NYT puzzles before Will Shortz were like and then spearheaded the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project, which ultimately produced more than 16,000 digitized puzzles. And we are with David today in person as he celebrates his 70th NYT puzzle. Though we are obviously proud of his puzzle achievements, we are especially proud of the remarkable person he has become. In addition to being a top-notch crossword constructor and editor, he is also a kind, generous, and modest one. The rare online announcements of newsworthy milestones in his life have invariably been at our instigation, not his—if it were up to him, he’d just remain happily behind his computer, wrangling grids and corresponding with other constructors. Thanks to everyone in the crossworld who has helped him become the person he is today. In closing, back when David’s first NYT puzzle was published, several people noted the entry SANGRIA and wondered how he knew that word at the age of 14; they hoped he wasn’t “imbibing his entries.” Well, today, at age 21, he can indeed “imbibe his entries” if he so chooses! Cheers, David (or in crosswordese, SKOAL!)! Oh, and to both Bruce and David, hats off on today’s puzzle.

deerfencer 11:44 AM  

Fun puzzle with great cluing.

Luke 11:55 AM  

I, amazingly, had SOFT TARO and STINGEYS. I'm going to invent a Brandy cocktail named the Stingey just so this thing has two correct solutions (RAY is a Ferris Wheel part, geometrically, I think).

old timer 11:59 AM  

Easiest Friday ever.

As I recall the Staten Island Railway was built by the old B and O -- there is a rail bridge to New Jersey at the far end of the island. I wonder if they ever planned on running through trains from Washington or Baltimore to the ferry terminal at St George. The B and O was thought of by many rail fans as the best way to get to New York though it involved a ferry ride from New Jersey.

RooMonster 12:15 PM  

Hey All !
Nice tribute, Paul. Some kind of wonderkid (I know that's not the correct word!) But, only 14 rejections? Must be nice...

This was a different kind of puz. Noticed the off-kilter central HAT only after I was done. Didn't distract from the solve. Also perplexed about a B from a pangram.

Had Prison for PALACE first. Fits clue. Clever clue on TIP. Messed up that section of weejects (@M&A) but good. Wanted drs or mes for IVS. (Good one on that @Birchbark 3:31 :-) ) Also, Iso-IPO, encEe-VOTER.

70th puz on 21st birthday. I want to be DS when I get older!


bob Mills 12:16 PM  

For once I agree with Rex. This puzzle would have been better without a theme. I finished it without paying any attention to the trick about hats (or whatever it was).

JC66 12:36 PM  

@Paul Steinberg,

As the proud father of two adult sons, I can relate. Enjoy his day. ;-)

@Birchbark 3:31

Good one!

We crossworders entrain, don't we? So why can't we enplane?

Churlish Nabob 12:36 PM  

the hat is “Not Centered” SHRIEK! SHRIEK! SHRIEK!

mathgent 12:40 PM  

I had forgotten A Visit From St. Nicholas. I memorized it as a kid. I had to look up the reference in the puzzle.

"Away to the window I flew like a flash,

"Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash."

Stanley Hudson 12:56 PM  

Thanks to the co-constructors for a tough but fair and very enjoyable puzzle.

Happy 21st birthday, David Steinberg. Be smarter than I was and don’t end your day by THROWING UP after too many shots of JIM BEAM.

@Paul Steinberg, you and David’s mother have done good.

Joni 1:32 PM  

I'm on the board of Malice Domestic, which hands out the Agatha awards, so I was delighted to see not only the clue but Rex's "word of the day" explanation. Question for all of you? Is there a way to get an unfinished grid of this without have the digital subscription? I do mine in the paper, and it doesn't appear I can get the puzzle online. I can't really share mine as it's all filled in in blue Sharpie...

Masked and Anonymous 1:50 PM  

Hey -- weird FriPuz. I can dig it.

Hey2 -- intrestin @RP-write-up, too boot. Had superb, lettered, analysis bullets. Let us analyze those lil darlins, further …

A. "Themed Fridays are almost always unwelcome". Well, yeah but if U pare back clue 17-A to {Snapping}, and if U pare back clue 58-A to {With only slight provocation}, then y'all got yerself a 70-word grid with 34 black-squares of hat material. Pretty much a standard themeless, with pretty nice fill.

B. "That 'hat' thing with the black squares might be a 'flip', but it is IN NO WAY a 'drop'." I don't get t-hat comment. If U consider the middle black hat as "Hat Central", then the lower hat has certainly dropped below the Hat Central baseline level. QED.

C. "That 'flip' is rotating in what feels to me like the wrong direction." It does a nice 270-degree rotation flip. Much more primo than a mousy 90-degree flip. But this could be a matter of flippant taste, I reckon.

D. "That is barely a 'hat'." Well, that's probably kinda true. Most things drawn usin big black, square hunks are probably gonna look a might primitive. U oughta have seen Mr. Haight's goldfish, f'rinstance.

Right after them 4 bullets, we have a non-bullet shot [akin to a pie-throw], of: "It's the damned center hat -- it's Not Centered." yep. Breaks the ancient rules of what not to do in yer crossword grid ... kinda like splatzin in two-letter words, e.g. (yo, @Fan Duel puz.) As the immortal Merl Reagle once pointed out, if one can freely violate the ancient Rules of Crossworddom, then any yahoo can make a crossword puz (yo, @Runtpuzs).

Thanx for the fun, HAighT-Steinberg dudes. Hap B-day, and go easy on those very first beers today, Steinbergmeister: U don't want all yer future puzs to look like they were made by liquored-up rule violators, after all …

Masked & Anonymo1U

staff weeject pick = ALD. Nice weeject 4-stacks, btw. [Tried to keep all this under my hat, but couldn't manage it.]


Ray Yuen 2:12 PM  

Do you have nothing better to grouch at than the direction in which the hat falls? I know a hater's gotta hate but c'mon!

As for the asymmetrical part, if you toss anything gravity will ensure that it falls.

Trombone Tom 3:08 PM  

What a delightful and freshly clued puzzle. Sure, it wasn't as challenging as some of David's creations, but after eating my way through yesterday, this was a welcome relief.

It was great to read Paul's reflections on this talented young man. And Happy Birthday, David!

Hand up for wanting INKJETS and Prison before PALACE.

C'mon, man, the hats aren't centered or falling/flipping correctly? Not what grabs me on a crossword. On the other hand the clue for JIM is a real grabber.

Thanks to David and Bruce for a pleasant Friday.

evil doug 3:42 PM  

If you want to deplane, first you have to enplane....

Mohair Sam 4:32 PM  

@Paul Steinberg - Nothing I hate more than listening to people talk about themselves, nothing I like more than listening to people talk about their kids. Really enjoyed your post, thanks for dropping by. And Happy Birthday David.

@Evil Doug - All this ENPLANing talk reminds me of the old George Carlin routine in which he tells the stewardess he isn't getting "on" the plane, he is getting "in" the plane - she can get "on" the f***king thing.

Bax'N'Nex 4:42 PM  

Classic Mike Sharp... that hardly looks like a hat. They were using squares on a grid, for crissakes! Cheese and rice, what a nit-picking, bitter little man.

I finished this, so felt more like Thursday, but I’ll take it. Was fun unless you want to overanalyze it to death. (Which many do)

Paul Steinberg... I feel I talk about my kids way too much, I’m so proud of who they have become. People remind me that has tons to do with their mother and me, a very nice compliment. You should be proud of both who your son has become and the parenting that got him there. Nice work, Pop!

Nancy 4:52 PM  

@Luke (11:55) -- I love the STINGEY! Definition: A cocktail consisting exclusively of creme de menthe. Made by a bartender who knows just how pricey brandy is these days and who hopes you won't notice that the cognac's gone missing.

@Paul Steinberg (11:41)-- What a lovely, evocative, and colorful portrait of your son. I very much enjoyed reading it. He sounds like a really exceptional young man and I wish him a Happy Birthday.

Aclass Cheri MainSqueeze 5:50 PM  

Happy Birthday, Old David!!!!
Known him since he was about 14 and kvell along side his folks!
He really has gotten taller and lovelier and more confident while keeping his modesty intact! And it's cool that his parents have been with him every step of the way...totally supportive.

Those without supportive parents know what it's like to find your unique voice and way through life, so I applaud David today and mom and dad!

As for the puzzle, I've never had so much of a struggle and felt satisfied not to have given up after about an hour.

Here (perhaps to encourage others that it's worth the perseverance (sp?) is just a partial list of the mistakes I had to work through, despite being a semi-veteran solver:

PisA for PAPA
ere for AGO
Tek for TNG
????WLY for WAY
CAb for CAR
sun? for JIM (Beam)
scarabS for EARWIGS
S??s for SFPD
only things I got right off the bat were ALS and ISLE and IMPS so I
had a looooooong way to go!!!!!!

The semi-theme helped with the solve, tho I couldn't have made out the hats, centered or not if my life depended on it!

Re: 18D GOAT.
The other day on Judge Judy, a gal was describing a cat who kept
getting out as a "real Scapegoat"
(I'm assuming she meant escape artist...but ya never know on that
show! But I love hearing totally mixed metaphors from those trying to
be sophisticated!)

Many also all say "conversating", "agreeance" and my least favorite (speaking of getting in or on a plane) "He got out the car". Grrrrrr)

Again, how cool to have a puzzle published on your birthday!!!! I know that ain't gonna happen to me for at least another four years, or worse, 10! True fact, one of my puzzles was published on Rex's bday, which is how I discovered this blog!

Trombone Tom 6:18 PM  

@acm, glad to hear I'm not the only one entertained by Judy. I couldn't believe my ears when she said that.

Joe Dipinto 6:23 PM  

The non-symmetry didn't bother me, but the center hat not having the brim facing up and the crown facing down to accurately simulate the flip did bother me.

Nevertheless I thought there was a lot of good stuff. I stupidly wrote in AT A DROP OF THE HAT first and then had to fix the whole middle of it.

Today we got a Star Wars clue *and* a Harry Potter clue!

kitshef 7:07 PM  

@Z - whank?

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:14 AM  

Yeah, not the Friday I expected.

Fill: Any other day of the week and this would be an above average fill. But when you get 21 3-lettered words on a Friday, it becomes really difficult to say that the fill was good. I guess it's more a matter of taste, but hey, this is a totally subjective review so why not? 14/25.

Theme/long answers: Yeah, I appreciate the effort and the quirkiness, but it really doesn't fly here. It's not bad, but it's just... Meh. I guess Tuesday's theme lowered the bar so low that for a while I cannot be angry with anyone. 13/25

Clues: This was the best part of the puzzle. The puns were mostly on target. "Cal tecs?" was pushing it, but I liked "thanks for waiting," for example. 21/25

Pleasurability: I just couldn't enjoy this as much as I wanted to. It gave me some "hah!" moments mostly thanks to the cluing, but the theme, the weird shape, the NE corner... I just couldn't really feel it. So for those brief moments it deserves a slighlt above average grade, but not more. 15/25

TOTAL: 63/100, B-, 3/5 stars.

dan 1:08 PM  

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spacecraft 11:06 AM  

To me--though I've never lived in Boston--the MTA will always be that Kingston Trio classic.

I destroyed this one. There were plenty of attempts at obfuscation in the clues, but they didn't work here. You can't give me ZORRO and MAINSQUEEZE and expect much resistance.

I neither noticed, nor would've cared HAD I noticed, the asymmetry. So it's off CENTER. Big deal. I think it takes more inventiveness to pull off something like this than to stay in the "perfect" pattern.

For DOD, Let's have CHERI--as so fetchingly played by Marilyn in "Bus Stop." I DIG this one: it's an eagle.

thefogman 11:27 AM  

Hats off to Bruce Haight and David Steinberg for a most enjoyable puzzle. I had a feeling Rex would be FLIPPINGHISLID over this one since he has almost ̶Z̶o̶r̶r̶o̶ zero tolerance for such visual gimmicks - which I find delightful when they are well executed as this one is. I don't mind at all that the middle hat is not situated in the absolute center section of the grid. It is after all falling and/or flipping isn't it? But then Rex takes another SWATAT the constructors for not making the image of the hat's flipping and/or falling sufficiently convincing. So which one is it? Not falling or flipping enough or way too much? Does he want a 3D hologram with audio to appear on the grid? STINGERS are easy to throw about but to a NONPRO like myself they did an admirable job. OFL is all hat and no horse on this one. CHEERIO!

Burma Shave 11:35 AM  




rondo 11:57 AM  

Other than at first having EXITrAmp before EXITLANE my grid was clean as a whistle. I thought this puz was top-notch. Even with 20+ threes.

I’ve noticed that it’s a rare occasion to find a yeah baby in a DS puz, so what @spacey said.

What more to say? Great clues and answers. ACLASS act.

Diana, LIW 3:05 PM  

Who gives a flipping hat where the images land? You go stand in the wind and have your hat flip about "just so."

If you AXE me, I won't say I had ZORRO errors. But finally finish I did.

BH and DS - what a combo!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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