Red giant in constellation Cetus / THU 11-30-17 / Pope before Leo VI / 1984 Schwarzenegger sequel / Round floor cleaner / Chrysler model discontinued in 2010

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: BATTLESHIP (60A: It's four units long in a popular board game (with the game's other pieces hinted at by the circled letters)) — The theme is the game "BATTLESHIP," and themers contain different sea vessel types that are Xd out by Xs in the answers ... the Xs signifying HITs (62D: Success in the game 60-Across ... or a hint to interpreting the circled squares)

Theme answers:
  • 17A: 1984 Schwarzenegger sequel (CONAN THE xx) ("Destroyer")
  • 25A:  Early form of airmail? (xxxxx PIGEON) ("Carrier")
  • 37A: Chrysler model discontinued in 2010 (PT xxx) ("Cruiser")
  • 50A: Grinder (xxx SANDWICH) ("Sub(marine)") 
Word of the Day: JOHN X (6D: Pope before Leo VI) —
Pope John X (Latin: Ioannes X; d. 28 May 928) was Pope from March 914 to his death in 928. A candidate of the Counts of Tusculum, he attempted to unify Italy under the leadership of Berengar of Friuli, and was instrumental in the defeat of the Saracens at the Battle of Garigliano. He eventually fell out with Marozia, who had him deposed, imprisoned, and finally murdered. John’s pontificate occurred during the period known as the Saeculum obscurum. (wikipedia)
• • •

LOL at anyone knowing a. who JOHN X is, b. who Leo VI is. I Was a Twenty-Something Medievalist and I had no clue. I thought there was a major problem with the theme at first, because I assumed that the Xs in PTXXX represented a "boat." You know: PT BOAT. And so I thought "wait, why are all the other sea vessels used in non-sea vessel contexts in the theme answers *except this one*?" But it turns out that the Xs represent not BOAT but CRUISER, so ... yeah, nevermind. I obviously didn't see the actual clue. This happens (not infrequently). I guess the theme is fine, then. I didn't think much of it, as I couldn't remember the sequel to "Conan the Barbarian" and so had no idea what the Xs were doing for a very long time. The reveal was ... OK. CUL and ABO and ALBA and EEO are yuck and too much of the fill is dull, but I love "JUKEBOX HERO" and LOOSE CANNON. They are nice. I do admire that (I think) the sea vessels in question in the answer are actually as big in the game as they are in the grid, i.e. the carrier is 5 places long, the destroyer 2, etc. I am not looking this up. I am taking it on faith that the constructor got this right. If I am wrong, please just leave me to my wrongness.

More wrongness:
  • 65A: Red giant in the constellation Cetus (MIRA) — I had LYRA. I believe that that is ... a constellation, at least. Oh look, it is. I find its being a constellation a consolation.
  • 6D: Pope before Leo VI (JOHN X) — Yeah, no. I had all kinds of crap here at first, including a JOAN. 
  • 29D: Actress Headey (LENA) — I have no idea who this is, so I naturally assumed I was just misremembering the name of actress Glenne Headly.
  • 55A: Org. whose symbol is an eagle atop a key (NSA) — NRA. Then BSA. Oh well...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:05 AM  

Never played the game.
Never seen the game.
Never even heard of the game.
Made for some head-scratching solving but managed to get 'em all.

ColoradoCog 12:13 AM  

It definitely paid off to work top to bottom. Getting the reveal late gave me a nice grin. I had no idea what was going on, and then it all instantly made perfect sense.

puzzlehoarder 12:13 AM  

This was an easy solve. I just kept putting Xs in those circles for the CONNAN and the PIGEON themes until I went down the east side and HIT the reveal. Now the theme was plain as day. I never really thought about how much a puzzle resembles a BATTLESHIP game so a clever idea and well executed. The puzzle was fluff but it was fun fluff.

JOHN X 12:39 AM  

I got this right away, after I had seen all the across clues and had a few downs filled in. But I was so slick I filled in CONANTHEdd because "DD" is the hull number prefix for a US Navy destroyer. I vaguely thought that it was mighty specific for most solvers but the constructor knows what he's doing etc etc. which gave me my second Aha! when I realized they were all Xs and the rest of it just filled itself in including the obvious JOHNX. In fact, I am thinking of changing my name to JOHN X, and if anyone asks I'll say it is in honor of my favorite Pope ever, and I don't mean General John Pope or even John X. Doe who was in "Roadhouse" I mean JOHNX who did all that cool shit and beat the Saracens which you gotta love even though I don't know why and then he up and got his ass murdered. That guy.

Dave Hogg 1:01 AM  

John X: I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who had CONAN THE DD for that exact reason.

I haven't followed this blog long enough to know Rex's TV habits, but I see he's not a Game of Thrones fan. LENA Headey's name at the start of the credits means a lot of screen time for our beloved-and-despised Cersi.

Lee Coller 1:09 AM  

I knew at 17 across something was going on as it had to be "Conan the Destroyer." I actually remember that I saw the movie - but don't ask me the plot. The clue on 60 across was gimme, and then 62 down fell into place which made the X's make sense. My only bane was 10D/10A (last square completed). I knew it had to be either an A or an E. Guessed wrong at first.

Unknown 1:25 AM  

But you loved the movie, right?

mathgent 1:39 AM  

I played Battleship with my younger brothers at home. The board game, not the paper-and-pencil version. We had a lot of fun with it until we discovered word games, Jotto in particular.

It was nice remembering. But the puzzle itself was second-rate. Nineteen Terrible Twos, unimaginative clues.

@Lewis: I hope you continue to list the best five clues of the week as you have done recently. I enjoy revisiting those little gems.

Larry Gilstrap 1:48 AM  

Growing up in a temperate climate, board games weren't so big. I guess that's the reason, but I had barely heard of BATTLESHIP. I eventually realized that all the circles are filled by exes, for some reason, and I'm looking for a Phillips screwdriver. IKEA instructions will back me up. Boomer here, so WWII was a big deal growing up. Anybody remember Victory at Sea? How many exes does a Yankee Whaler deserve?

Enough random thoughts. LOOSE CANNON is a complex and satisfying metaphor for someone who creates havoc by being disorderly. Is that ever a good thing, especially on a frigate?

I'm married to a SUSAN and my experience is that both mind and body are never lazy at the same time. Responses may vary.

a.corn 1:54 AM  

Xxxxxx? More like zzzzzzzzzzzzzz...ripped through the downs and it gave me enough to fill battleship immediately. Then plugging Xs into the circled squares basically gave it all away. I didn’t even have to solve what they represented in the acrosses bc it was already filled in. Booooor-ing!

Dolgo 2:03 AM  

WHAT!!! Rex is not a Throney???

Dawn 2:07 AM  

Once I saw X's went in all the circles (the one time I noticed the circles!), it went by a little too fast. But liked the theme, fill was ok, and it was an enjoyable experience. Brought back nice memories of playing Battleship as a kid --- the board game and also some handheld device.

Dolgo 2:11 AM  

I figured it all out, but it would have been a lot faster if I had played the game. It was one of the first and probably the most successful of a series made by company called Avalon Hill. I probably would have played it, since my friends and family loved such things, but they came out just when I went off to college and grad school. In those days they laid the work on you and we didn't have time to learn fairly complicated games. They we're not really for kids since they involved some strategic playing.

jae 2:37 AM  

Know about the game but never played it. Easy, cute, liked it.

Robin 3:01 AM  

@Dolgo, The version of Battleship I played as a kid was produced by Milton Bradley. Did not encounter Avalon Hill games until a few years later, and that was more serious stuff like Squad Leader.

Gamer 3:19 AM  

@Dolgo 2:11AM
I think your getting two different games confused. This puzzle was based on the simple grid guessing game popularized by Milton Bradley. Avalon Hill released the much more complex "Bismarck" a few years earlier, which I believe is what you're remembering.

tkincher 3:21 AM  

All those X’s could have been rather clumsy but I think it turned out real well. Nice theme, and once I came across the revealing clue the rest of it fell in place outside of the ABZUG / ALBA crossing, which tripped me for a moment.

I can understand never having played Battleship, but never even having heard of it? Shenanigans.

TokyoRacer 3:36 AM  

Battleship goes way back. I played it with my father a lot when I was young, and I'm 70. And I'm sure he was playing it before then. We used paper and pencil, of course. Never knew there was a board version.
We didn't have a carrier, only battleship (4), cruiser (3) and two destroyers (2).
Nice to be reminded of it. I think I'll go play a game with my wife. Just need two pencils, paper and a ruler.

jae 3:38 AM  

...I did briefly try to put the University of Texas El Paso in the Pac-12 after UCLA didn't work, but Lazy SUpAN....

Thomaso808 3:54 AM  

Really bad to have a LOOSECANNON on your warship. Really good to be in your wheelhouse, which this was for me.

Very fun. I got the theme with BATTLESHIP before I filled in a single X and then dreaded what the fill would have to be with all those X’s, but Trenton did a good job of working in the X’s without much dreck. Good job, young man!

I played a lot of Battleship back in the day with my brother and father, so this was a nice memory. When we wanted a real challenge, we played it Salvo style, which added a whole new element of mental difficulty. Anyone heard of that?

I always thought that making a destroyer only 2 units and making a sub 3 units was very disrespectful to the destroyer, and they should have instead made the little ship a PT Boat. Seeing the PT in 37A reminded me of that.

evil doug 4:30 AM  

"Inuit, innit?"
~Theresa May

Jofried 5:51 AM  

I loved this puzzle! My kids have enjoyed battleship for years and I had great fun trying to remember the names of the different types of ships. I actually laughed out loud when I saw the revealer and understood what the xs were for. I also thought it was a very easy Thursday.

Anonymous 6:00 AM  

Garrison Keillor won't be on Colbert tonight.

Unknown 6:09 AM  

ABZUG? Looks more like a collection of random letters than a real thing. I had ELBA crossing it at first but managed to right myself.

Lewis 6:18 AM  

@mathgent -- That's the plan, and thank you for the thumbs up.
@rex -- Yes, the length of the vessels in the puzzle is correct.

This is a very well-constructed puzzle, incorporating all the needed elements and keeping the theme answers symmetrical, while landing an overall junk-free grid. As indicated by some solvers already, you didn't need to know the game to solve the puzzle. I played the game ages ago, and still needed some post-solve thought to figure out all the elements. Overall, a winner, IMO.

Yesterday, MOTOWN, today BATTLESHIP. Tomorrow, I LOVE LUCY?

By the way, for those loving or hating Thursday rebus puzzles -- based on the last two years, it averages out to about a dozen a year, so just a tad less than once a month. (On Sundays, there were five in 2015 and eight in 2016.)

Vague cluing provided some good bite (i.e. clues for JAMS, COG, SEX, AGENT, BOOR, LIKESO, DUTY, and probably more). But I never had a sinking feeling.

Anonymous 6:25 AM  

I thought to myself after solving this, "if Rex hates *this* one, he's jumped the shark."

Wouldn't you know it...Rex hated this one.

It's such a solid puzzle. It's cute. It's smirk-inducing. It's what a puzzle should be on a Thursday.

BarbieBarbie 6:44 AM  

@Lewis, good one.
Easy but cute theme and fun to figure out. Lots of fun clues and cluing too. I hope we see many more by this guy.
I had the same NRA instead of NSA even though I could pucture the logo and knew I was wrong.

smalltowndoc 7:00 AM  

At first, I couldn’t figure out what was going on with all the circled Xs. Fortunately, the SE was pretty easy, revealing the theme. I played BATTLESHIP a lot growing up on paper, using Xs to indicate HITs. So the lightbulb went off, filled the circled squares in a blur and remembering how long each ship was able to complete the rest of the themed answers.

I think this was a very clever and well-constructed puzzle. If not the best NYT Thursday of the year, certainly in the top five.

Hungry Mother 7:02 AM  

I used to play the game on little paper pads back in the 40s. I always figured that it came from World War II naval battles. Fun piuzzle. No problem filling in all of the Xs before it was clear why they were there.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Fantastic theme. Had not a clue what was going on until I hit the revealer, at which point the aha was more of an !A!H!A!

To accomplish that without destroying the fill … well .. awesome. Don’t recall seeing the constructors name before, but will remember it now.

Disgruntled 7:19 AM  

I agree that this was a well crafted and enjoyable puzzle but it was NOT a Thursday puzzle.

A good Thursday puzzle should have a theme that you have to unlock and the puzzle is unsolvable until you figure out the theme. That's why rebuses are common on Thursdays, or at least they USED to be.

As nice as this puzzle was, as soon as you figured out that every circle was an "X" (which didn't take long to figure out) then BAM the puzzle was solved because every single cross was a word with an "X" and that really narrows things down. An "X" isn't much of "a high-value Scrabble letter" if there are 13 of them in the grid.

This was a nice Tuesday puzzle. Can someone please make a decent Thursday puzzle please?

Good ol' Joe 7:27 AM  

In Salvo mode you kept going if you got a hit, right? I remember that. Funny I always thought the same about the Destroyer. Two pegs seemed inadequate for such a fearsome sounding ship!

kitshef 7:33 AM  

I see Trenton Charson has two previous NYT puzzles. A Monday I called 'a hoot and a half', and a Wednesday I called 'easy to the point of being dull'. The easy Wednesday had ten Xes in it. Topped that by three today.

relicofthe60s 7:34 AM  

I find it amusing that pop-culture loving Rex doesn’t know who Lena Headey is.

Two Ponies 7:42 AM  

I've never played the game but who could forget the tag line from their TV commercial. You sank my battleship!

For the pigeon answer all I could think of was Passenger Pigeon. That had me wondering if their was a passenger ship in the game. Sounded like some potentially gruesome collateral damage but maybe that was part of the strategy. Like I said, I've never played it.

If anyone ever said "I rule" to me I would want to smack him upside the head.

Haven't seen a Lazy Susan in years. Grandma had one on her holiday table filled with pickles and olives.

Birchbark 7:43 AM  

The LBJ ranch was in fact called the Bar-J-Bar. I visited it as a kid on vacation, and our tour guide was a very nice woman who was LBJ's cousin.

I like solving many of the answers I've never heard of, JOHN X among them. Pattern recognition, inferential reasoning, good exercise. You don't have to know who JOHN X is to know you got it right.

X Rated Sandwich 7:44 AM  

Wow, a "fine" a "love" a "nice" and an "OK" from OFL today. Trenton Charlson should break out the champagne as this is about as positive as Rex gets these days about a NYT puzzle.

Glimmerglass 7:46 AM  

Geek alert! When I was in boarding school (class of ‘57), my dorm played a weekend-long game of Battleship against the dorm across the street. The hand-made board was 100x100 squares. We ran a wire across the street (third-floor level) from our smoking room to theirs, and we announced moves on this PA system. The smoking room windows were covered to prevent spying, which was allowed under the rules. Yes, smoking was allowed in those days (with parents’ permission).

GILL I. 7:55 AM  

I have insomnia and I've already finished Isabel Allende's wonderful "Portrait in Sepia" and so I the tackle the Thursday hoping for a sleepless night payoff and instead I get BATTLE SHIP. I get lots of X's as well. I read CONAN the Barbarian. I've never played BATTLE SHIP so I tried figuring out why a Barbarian named CONAN has any thing to do with this board game. Also didn't know what kind of SANDWICH was a grinder so the XXX were lost on me as well. I YAWNED.
The two longs were just swell and none of the proper names held me up like the usually do. LENA Headey will be crosswordese soon. So evil and I'm taking bets that her brother will whack her head off in the next season.
Bella ABZUG was a HERO for moi. So big, so smart and everywhere. Paved the way for women in politics.
HO HUM BOO HOO MAMBA ROOMBA. Wish I could have enjoyed this more.

ghthree 8:04 AM  

I made a wild guess at 60A, based on only two crosses BAT and ANT. It payed off handsomely. Once I detected the Naval theme, I had SUBSANDWICH tor 50 Across. Soon found out all the other circles were Xs, but stubbornly left in my original guess. My wife gave me MAMBA and ALBA, which opened up the top half. Went through the grid clockwise fairly easily, but got stuck in the SW. Finally I replaced the SUB with XXX and the rest followed easily. Had TTUL instead of TTYL, because that sounded more like Textspeak. But WITTY resolved that quickly.

BTW, the National Security Agency (NSA) is such a top-secret agency that its acronym was humorously referred to as "No Such Agency" or "Never Say Anything."

mmorgan 8:21 AM  

Never played the game. I was able to solve it but was completely baffled by what the XXXs meant (e.g., why XXX instead of SUB?) and especially by the lack of correspondence between the number of Xs and the words they were replacing. But Rex kinda explained it...

QuasiMojo 8:35 AM  

Fun theme, well executed. The X's made it a bit too easy but plenty of head-scratchers elsewhere to make up for it. I had LAZY Bones first, before Susan. I liked BOO HOO, LOOSE CANNON, VOICE, EXHUME and EXOTIC. ARMING not so much. Bella ABZUG was a fixture in NYC, a true character, the type we no longer see anymore. Feisty, brash and someone who got things done. I didn't agree with all of her political views but I liked her can-do spirit.

Ted 8:38 AM  

Good theme, good grid.

I'm at a loss for the people who've never played Battleship. It's been a popular game for decades... even if you didn't own it, you'd probably seen the ads and played it at a party or a friend's house.

Also, Rex... Lena Headey has proved a popular NYT answer for the last year or two at least. And she's one of the leading stars in Game of Thrones. You can't complain about that name while giving a pass to "Duchess of Alba." :)

Winter Is Coming 8:54 AM  

relicofthe60s said...
I find it amusing that pop-culture loving Rex doesn’t know who Lena Headey is.

LOL. Rex would have put her name in without blinking, had he ever seen "The Walk Of Shame" episode, even though a body-double was used. But knowing Rex and his propensity for virtue signaling, he probably would have gone into some kind of diatribe about gratuitous nudity and objectifying women.

Z 9:09 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 9:10 AM  

I don't understand the answer "sex" for the 9D clue: "Congress". Does this have anything to do with recent revelations of our elected officials in DC?

Z 9:12 AM  

I think a couple of opportunities were missed to improve this one. First, get rid of the circles. The whole point of BATTLESHIP is that you have to find the vessels. With those circles in place one only needs to see a couple of answers to realize that all the circles are going to fill with an X. You don’t even need to know the theme to fill in the Xs (not being familiar with Schwarzenegger’s oeuvre prevented me from seeing what was going on until the very end).

Second (and I’m not sure this would have been an improvement) the grid convention of the game is perfectly adaptable to a crossword, so the first three across clues could have been list as “A1,” “G1,” and “L1.” None of this penny ANTE stuff, go all out and replicate the game seems to me more Thursdayish than a bunch of circles that get filled with an X.

Given all that, a fine enough puzzle.

My sons thought I would like reading Game of Thrones. What a slog. Martin needs a good editor to reduce those books by about ⅔rds. I thought the HBO series might be able to tighten it up a little and make it interesting. Nope. Yawn-inducing. If lots of T&A, bloody violence, and rape are your thing I guess the show might be of interest, Otherwise, what a waste of time. So I was right with Rex in not knowing Ms. Headey. I made it as far through the show as I did the books, i.e. far enough to know that I didn’t want to go further.

Z 9:21 AM  

@Anon9:10 - Just in case that’s an actual question - see Merriam-Webster’s first definition.. Otherwise, good one. Which brings up another thought, Lauer always seemed a little creepy to me so that one wasn’t surprising, but Garrison fucking Keillor? Jesus dudes, get it together. We always knew power was corrupting, but it is still amazing to see how little power it takes to be corrupting. Who’s next? Sponge Bob?

Z 9:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
sf27shirley 9:25 AM  

It's just an old fashioned or formal phrase meaning had sex.

Jon from Saint Paul 9:28 AM  

It took longer than normal to figure out the theme, but once I did I loved this puzzle. Perhaps it's because I played a lot of Battleship as a young person. The revealer was a truly pleasing aha moment that suddenly made the whole thing make sense. I wish every NYT puzzle was this good. Not the best ever, but very good.

Nancy 9:42 AM  

I've never seen the game or played the game, but I guess I've heard of the game, sort of. But it had nothing to do with anything, as far as I was concerned. Once I got the "put an X in every tiny little circle even though you have absolutely no idea why" thing, I solved the puzzle. If, by solving the puzzle, you mean filling every square correctly, without comprehension. I tried to figure out the theme based on XXXXX PIGEON, since I knew XXXXX had to stand for either CARRIER or HOMING. But that made absolutely no sense at all. It certainly couldn't be a FIFTY PIGEON. Or a KISSES PIGEON. Or an ADULTS-ONLY PIGEON. I was baffled. So I came here -- which is how I discovered the Rexblog in the first place. And I still don't get it. What I do see is: I didn't have to understand the game of BATTLESHIP at all. I simply had to realize that the Xs, no matter how many of them there were or weren't, stood for some kind of battleship that would fit the clue. I guess this was clever, but the whole thing sailed right over my head and I didn't really enjoy it.

G. Weissman 9:49 AM  

Game of Thrones does not = pop culture. It’s just one show that very many people do not watch. Given that Headey has not acted in anything else of note, not knowing who she is makes complete sense, even among pop-culture loving folks. Anyway, enjoy feeling “amused,” 60s relic.

Sean Connery 9:50 AM  

I had congress with your mother Trebek!

Oldflappyfrommississappy 9:55 AM  

“the whole thing sailed right over my head” should be the title of your autobiography.

Mohair Sam 10:00 AM  

Very clever - wonderful "aha" moment. Have played BATTLESHIP on paper and the board game with the kids - but worked this one top to bottom so it took forever to get the gimmick. Lots of fun.

I loved Bella the Hat - Bella ABZUG in 1971: "I've been described as a tough and noisy woman, a prizefighter, a man-hater, you name it. They call me Battling Bella."
And wouldn't you love to hear her comments on today's Congressmen?

@Z - Interesting take on GoT. Most of planet earth agrees on Martin's need for a whole team of editors, unfortunately he doesn't. But I've enjoyed the books with the notable exception of Book 4. Haven't watched the TV series and it certainly has handicapped our NYT Crossword solving.

Mohair Sam 10:04 AM  

@Z - Will Evil Doug ever have a Seinfeld for you "Sponge Bob" comment.

G. Weissman 10:06 AM  

Salt-of-the-earth Garrison Keillor never seemed creepy to you? I guess it’s all subjective.

Stanley Hudson 10:08 AM  

@Z, genuine LOL @Sponge Bob comment.

mathgent 10:20 AM  

@Disgruntled (7:19): Try today's WSJ puzzle.

Winter Is Coming 10:26 AM  

@G.Weissman 9:49 AM:

I suggest you do some research before making yourself appear nescient. If you had bothered to Google Game Of Thrones viewership, you might have learned that 30 million people watched the premier of episode 7. The show has set multiple records for viewership rating. Not knowing who plays Cersei Lannister is comparable to not knowing who played Carmela Soprano.

The show is in its seventh season and costs a fortune to produce. Do you really think HBO would spent that kind of money on a show that draws a modest audience?

So, what you really meant, was that a lot of people watch the show but I'm not one of them. Or put more succinctly, as @Z was trying to say, if I don't watch it, its not worth watching.

There, fixed it for you!

Tom R 10:34 AM  

Never played Batttleship, but knew of it. Puzzle was ridiculously easy for a Thursday. Somewhat unsatisfying, though. Lots of clever but easy use of X in the down answers, but I would so much like it better if the number of "hits" matched the number of missing letters in the answers. Of course, that would take a Sunday sized grid.

RooMonster 10:36 AM  

Hey All !
Put me in the "What a neat puz!" group. Actually got BATTLESHIP first, then seeing the PT XXX(Cruiser), figured out the theme. Only 1984 Schwarzenegger movie entering the ole brain was The Terminator. Plenty of sequels of that, but the 1984 one was the original.

Very impressed at the construction job with all those X's in there. Managed to not end up with a bunch of dreck. TTYL about the worst of it.

@Two Ponies 7:42
I RULE! (*ducks*) Har. :-)

NE corner a Double O bonanza.

Programming your smart vacuum? LIKE SO, ROOMBA. ZOOM!


Rebecca 10:48 AM  

Maybe I'm too young (17), but the themers messed me up cause the games I played were different.
Carrier, Battleship, and Sub were the same, but we had
3 spaces -- destroyer
2 spaces -- "patrol boat"
So yeah, took me a while to get the themers. Was wracking my brain to see what kind of car was called a "__ destroyer," and I was pretty sure that there was never a movie called "Conan the Patrol Boat."

Paul Rippey 10:54 AM  

Very fun, fast, and I agree - woulda been better and harder without the circles. My quibble: I don’t think CPAs study ECON (68A) do they? They study accounting, a very different thing. Correct me if I’m wrong.

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:10 AM  

Before I begin my review, I would like to congratulate @G. Weissman on having the audacity to say "Game of Thrones does not = pop culture." I mean, what is GoT? It's the only TV show that people actually try to watch at the same time in today's streaming culture. It's the TV show that currently holds the "most viewed episode" record. When you google "Game of Thrones" you get 65+ million results. Pfft. Pop culture my ass. (But my apologies if you are writing to us from the year 2009 when you'd be 100% correct. In that case, what's the secret to time travel?)
Today's puzzle is very well-constructed, but it's, er, hit-or-miss.

Fill: It's very impressive to have such a fluid grid with all those Xs. Resorting to crosswordese only a couple of times is quite a feat. That being said, the one corner that had nothing to do with all the Xs was problematic. I didn't enjoy ABZUG/ALBA/BOOR at all. SE corner wasn't as bad, but wasn't fun either (although it had 3 Xs to deal with so I can't really complain I guess) 23/25

Theme/long answers: Having a double reveal and executing it meticulously is no easy task. I didn't fully get it while solving the puzzle (more on that later), but the length of the battleships, the names, the Xs. Good job, well done. That being said, I would like to think that there were better choices available than PT(CRUISER), and maybe the constructor shouldn't have relied on people remembering the names of all the battleships. 21/25

Clues: This is what I hated. I didn't get a single one of them. I had only known Conan the Barbarian, the question mark in "Early form of airmail?" messed me up, PT cruiser I had never heard of in my entire life, and "grinder" is too local a usage (which I should have gotten, but alas). There was not one memorable clue, and the clues for tricky entries like MIRA and ALBA were more obscure than I would have liked. "Good at repartee", "winter coat" etc. was fun, but there was a lot of room for improvement in my book. 14/25

Pleasurability: If Battleship is fresh in your memory, this was the perfect puzzle really. If that's not the case (like it wasn't for me), then you could've used some more help from the clues department. I still had the "aha!" and the smile, but not as often as the puzzle wanted me to. 17/25

GRADE: B+, 4/5 stars.

Aketi 11:13 AM  

Definitely played BATTLESHIP a lot as a kid along woth other board games on camping trips or rainy days, first with paper, then with a board. Played it many decades later with my son with an app.

Not only are the number of Xs consistent with the various ships, all the Xs fit within three potential 10 x 10 grids. The Battleship, however, which takes four hits to sink, doesn't fully fit in the 10 x 10 square even if you shift it down two squares from the top of the only three potential 10 x 10 squares that encompass the ships that have been hit.

Hungry Mother 11:23 AM  

I think the game was originally called “Salvo” back in the 40s.

old timer 11:25 AM  

I had "math" before ECON. But yes, a certified public accountant needs to know something about Economics.

I got the revealer early but had no idea what it meant in the context of this puzzle. Would have helped if I had started in the NE When I saw the Downs there all worked with the letter X, I put that letter in every remaining circle and assumed the puzzle was solved. Had no memory of how many spaces those ships took up in the BATTLESHIP game.

old timer 11:26 AM  

I had "math" before ECON. But yes, a certified public accountant needs to know something about Economics.

I got the revealer early but had no idea what it meant in the context of this puzzle. Would have helped if I had started in the NE When I saw the Downs there all worked with the letter X, I put that letter in every remaining circle and assumed the puzzle was solved. Had no memory of how many spaces those ships took up in the BATTLESHIP game.

GHarris 11:30 AM  

My problem was I assumed the ships had to fit within a rebus which would work with the down crossings. Only after I realized that all that
was required was insertion of an x in each circle that I was able to finish ( somewhat easily).

Sir Hillary 11:38 AM  

Fun puzzle. It took me longer than most to figure out what was going on, which made it more fun.

I do agree with @Z's suggestion of losing the circles. Would have upped the challenge a lot.

I loved seeing [SUBMARINE]SANDWICH over HERO. Grinder, sub, hero, hoagie...there's another, isn't there?

Whoever you are @"Sean Connery" -- you made me laugh.

Of course I've heard of "GoT" and of course it is a part of current pop culture, but I've never watched it. I know Peter Dinklage is in it, and I'm vaguely aware of character(s) called Lannister, but that's about it. All to say, I had the same Head[l]ey thing going on in my head. But I could only remember Glenne and Heather (initiated the role of Aida on Broadway). I was able to remember LENA Headey after the fact -- she's the one with long blonde hair, right? A young queen of some sort?

kitshef 11:44 AM  

@Z - YES to no circles would have been superior.

@Winter is Coming: Your own numbers suggest less than 10% of the US population watches GoT - meaning 90%+ do not. I do agree with you that who played Carmela Soprano is equally not deserving of inclusion in a crossword, but would expand that to 'no actor or character from a for-pay network should be in the puzzle'.

jb129 12:09 PM  

I feel like I've been had ......

Masked and Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Extra-good puz. Mighta been a smidge too easy for a ThursPuz, but like @semioticus says, it coulda been a contender, with slightly feistier cluin. The non-themer "?" clues were stuff like:
* {Butters up?} = BASTES
* {Giving heat?} = ARMING
* {Just what the doctor ordered, for short?} = RXS
Kinda thin on the gravy.

Some recommended Thurs-level+ additions:
* {Law of when not to use me in a sentence??} = IRULE. [yo, @Two Ponies: Would it possibly go down ok, for M&A to say "U rule!" … ?}
* {Possessive chicken general??} = TSOS. This might only be a 1.5-? clue, but that's clumsy to indicate [Maybe "?!" at the clue's end? I dunno, seems vague. But, I digress.]
* {Tab upward??} = BAT.

staff weeject pick: CUL. {CUL-de-sac = French "bottom of the sack", btw.]

Greatly admire the 4-O square formation, in the NE; nice companion piece to all them X's. Also, IM&AO, thought the fillins were great, and not at all borin. [Note: auto-correct thought they were not at all "boron", too boot.]
Best boat-crossin salvo: EXHUME, EXOTIC, JUKEBOXHERO. High five! Boom goes the submarine!

Thanx, Mr. Charlson. Never ever place yer boats symmetrical, when U play battleship, tho. I think @RP sorta liked yer puz, but couldn't quite choke it out, becuz it made use of The Circles.
Keep up the good work. My partin shot: L-15. har … hit yer General in the ass.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


JC66 12:12 PM  
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JC66 12:17 PM  

Heard of the game, but never played it so solved like a themeless with a bunch of (mostly) easy X's.

Went to "Wordplay" post solve to grok what the X's stood for.




You may want to think about losing the moose. ;-)

Rob 12:24 PM  

I love this puzzle. Theme is brilliantly executed. I RULE is the one weak link but the puzzle is worth it.

Rob 12:26 PM  

I love this puzzle. Brilliantly executed theme. I RULE is the one weak link, but the puzzle is worth it.

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:31 PM  


i) I don't think those numbers mean what you think they mean. For reference, NFL Sunday Night football game was watched by 21 million people. Does that mean only 6.5% of the US watches NFL? Think about it.

ii) Game of Thrones final episode viewership numbers beat a lot of non-cable TV shows. For example, it would be the 6th most viewed TV program last week. And if you actually include streaming numbers, it would be more popular than anything that was on TV last week (well, except for NFL).

iii) I can't believe we're debating whether Game of Thrones, a show that has won 38 Primetime Emmys, is a popular enough TV show that is worth mentioning in an NYT Crossword or not.

Mohair Sam 12:38 PM  

@kitshef - Food for thought your "no actor or character from a for-pay network should be in the puzzle" - at least until the program is available to the masses.

Diana, LIW 12:42 PM  

The Syndielanders are having trouble getting their posts to post - how about y'all?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

GILL I. 12:43 PM  

Z...No, I'm not into tits and ass, bloody violence and rape.
I love dragons. GOT is all about dragons.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Wow, I totally agree with Semioticus! Also, the people who work this puzzle either pay an exorbitant price for the NYT OR pay for the right to access the puzzle online. Everything is pay tv these days unless you are only using an HD antenna so that would cut out pretty much any tv show reference @kitchef

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

As TV audience shares go, GoT is outstanding.

Also Lena Headey has been in other shows and films ("The Purge" and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" stand out for me).

Anyway she's been a crossword standard.

Fred Romagnolo 1:09 PM  

All you people are a lot smarter than I; I was perplexed by "carrier" not fitting, and nothing worked for me until I got to EXHUME & EXOTIC and figured that the 2 x's were the clue. Sure enough, 60A was my revealer. I played BATTLESHIP as a kid with pencil & paper. I've never heard "grinder" used for a hero sandwich, but I'm Left Coast. Also, I've never heard of ROOMBA, but I think it's a clever name. Finally, I don't watch pay extra TV, so GoT is not in my WH; I only know The Sopranos because it was re-broadcast on cable.

Teedmn 1:23 PM  

This had some bite to it, in my opinion. @Z's ideas for toughening it up are great in theory but it would have sunk me, for sure (thanks, @Lewis, for the non-sinking feeling!)

I had SiSsy in at 21A barring my way in the NE and spelled 10D as AzbUG for a while. From the E in 23D, I guessed patE but LILT gave me LBJ and made 24D, with J and the trailing O a gimme (I needed to get all the way to the chorus to remember the title of that song, which I don't care for in the least.)

The L in BAWL had me write in wAiL. Changing it to BAWL, I would have thought 44A could be gAWpED except I had filled in LOOSE CANNON already, whew.

I loved this - BATTLESHIP was a game my brother and I played (with the pegs and folding boards). And there was the memorable TV commercial with the "You sunk my BATTLESHIP" cry. BOOHOO! Thanks, Trenton Charlson - your third NYT puzzle continues a great trend.

@Nancy, loved the Adults-only pigeon!!

Anonymous 1:41 PM  


Interesting observation about the board game's 10x10 grid, but not sure there would have been a way to understandably reveal 'BATTLESHIP' and also incorporate the 4X hits to 'sink' it. My take is that the other player has sunk the other 4 ships, but is still looking for the battleship.


Mohair Sam 1:53 PM  

@Sean Connery (9:50) - Great stuff.

@Gill I - You watch "Game of Thrones" for the dragons, not the T&A and violence? I'm buying that, I always got Playboy for the articles.

Ray Yuen 1:57 PM  

Too easy--busted the secret very early and stuck in x's for all the circled squares leaving the entire grid vulnerable. No clock at hand but this would have been an easy record.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

And one other game-related observation, the way I remember it, in the folding board game version we had with the white pegs for marking misses and red pegs for hits, the PT boat was the 2X ship, so the PT(3X=cruiser) was the hardest for me to understand.

GoT is on HBO, to which I don't subscribe, but it's certainly a highly popular topic of discussion where I work, especially when the each new season starts.


Choo Choo 62 2:35 PM  

If you don't know who Lena Headey is, or at least won't look up who she is, then it makes no sense to keep complaining about crosswords not being contemporary

t-dawg 2:40 PM  

I totally loved this puzzle.

Charles Flaster 3:19 PM  

Before grokking the theme, did anyone come up with smoke signal before XXXXX PIGEON?
Thanks TC

Chip Hilton 3:59 PM  

Nifty. Perfect for a Thursday. I was lost for a bit, but now I'm found and appreciative of Trenton Charlson's inventiveness.

Love LENA. And the show.

Teddi and Teddy 4:07 PM  

So easy we thought we were getting smarter until we came here. Fun though! Lol Conan the PT boat and Sponge Bob comments. And yes Garrison Keillor = creepy

Penna Resident 4:12 PM  

my battleship game calls the XX a PT Boat. and since i never saw any conan movies i finished with CONAN THE Physical Trainer. maybe some kind of prequel. didn't understand that answer til i came here.

L**iterate 4:23 PM  

So it's an I RULE situation if I know everything about Harry Potter, Lena Headey, Game of Thrones, Superheroes, comic books and video games like BATTLESHIP? This makes me a worthy person? I don't understand the people here who grandly and self-importantly put down people who don't know these things. You know what -- the people who don't know these things have better things on which to spend their time and are much smarter and much better educated than you are.

L**iterate 4:24 PM  

So it's an I RULE situation if I know everything about Harry Potter, Lena Headey, Game of Thrones, Superheroes, comic books and video games like BATTLESHIP? This makes me a worthy person? I don't understand the people here who grandly and self-importantly put down people who don't know these things. You know what -- the people who don't know these things have better things on which to spend their time and are much smarter and much better educated than you are.

Marie 4:39 PM  

I played Battleship before there was a board game--just a piece of graph paper. So I caught on to the theme right away, and looked up the "destroyer" after Conant. I ran afoul when I couldn't remember what the 3-squared ships were. And I've never known the names of any car models, so --xxx Chrysler didn't help me. Nor the sandwich, because I also couldn't remember there were two different 3-square ships. You didn't need to know that to plays Battleship--you just had to hit them. Marie

John D 4:43 PM  

Best theme in a long time. I loved this puzzle! But then again, I played countless games of battleship as a child of the 70s. When I figured out “carrier pigeon” and realized the number of x’s were the length of the vessel, I was beside myself.
- A happy customer

sanfranman59 4:56 PM  

FWIW, according to XWord Info, LENA has only been clued associated with Ms. Headey 3 times in the history of the NYT crossword and once was pre-GoT ("Gossip" co-star Headey 9/10/2000). So those here who think she's now a crossword standard are mistaken, at least for the NYT.

Buggy Bunny 5:01 PM  

congress is an old fashioned word for flying united.

Aketi 5:03 PM  
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Aketi 5:17 PM  

@Anonymous RT 1:41pm, that's what I thought too.

@Anyone who wants a free drink if you visit NYC, I've selected the spot for my Battleship on the 10x10 grid with the ships that were hit in the puzzle. All you have to do is guess where it is.

jberg 5:59 PM  

All right, everybody calm down about Game of Thrones. The question wasn't whether it's an important show, but whether @Rex is a failure as a human being because he didn't happen to know the name of one of its stars. Quite a different thing.

Second, why did anyone actually buy a board game version of BATTLESHIP? I didn't even know it existed, but it's certainly more fun to draw your own grid, or even use graph paper.

Third, CPAs may benefit from knowing a little economics, but their study is accounting.

And finally, the theme. Different ones among our number have different concepts of what it means to finish a puzzle. The most rigorous one is that you have to not just fill in every square correctly, but you have to understand how the theme works -- and in that sense, this did indeed require unlocking, and so was Thursday-worthy. (Also, @choo choo, some but not all of us aim to do it without using an internet search or other reference work; it's a matter of accepting a challenge, ot of laziness. Others do searches when needed, and that's fine, but those who don't, don't.

@Nancy, I just want to echo the praise for 'adults-only pigeon.' It's fun imagining it.

jberg 6:01 PM  

Also, you know you're really old when several commenters say Bella ABZUG is an unreasonably obscure answer.

MAGA 6:03 PM  

@Anonymous 6:00 AM

I won't steal your thunder cause you're doing a great job of reminding everyone who won't be on Colbert. Let me just say that you'll have another prominent darling of the left to add to the list tomorrow.

Here's the total so far:

Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Glenn Thrush, Garrison Keillor, Mark Halperin, Harvey Weinstein, three CNN editors, three NPR executives, and two people at the New Republic. John Conyers and Al Franken are wobbly and likely soon to fall.

On the other side we have Roy Jones who may be a predator as well, but is now expected to win in alabama.

Yes, we do live in interesting times!

MAGA 6:34 PM  

OOPS! Sorry for conflating Jones and Moore, but I'm sure most of you know what I meant.

Anonymous 6:43 PM  

John X is a prominent bad guy in one of the best Medieval writings: Antapodosis by Luitprand of Cremona. Funny, angry, racy, informative and biased...there’s an English translation out - maybe out of print.

GILL I. 7:05 PM  

@MAGA...I, too, get a kick out of @Anony 6:09. Every time I read him/her I think of the LILT "Another One Bites the Dust." I think Dustin Hoffman is also on the list. Tomorrow is another day.

Puzzled Peter 7:31 PM  

When I played B'ship, back in the early 50's, while in the Army (Battleship in the Army? Go figure), the ships were X'd according to size. And the game only existed, back then, on graph paper or the like. Initially 10x10, we'd make it more interesting and challenging by going to 20x20, or larger. Speaking of which, this happened while I was in the Army's NSA branch, the ASA, speaking of eagles and keys and such. And yes, I have zero recollection of this symbol at all. We were just told to get Signal Corps insignia, and then, to "Not Say Anything."
xxxxx = carrier
xxxx = battleship
xxx = cruiser
xx = destroyer
x = submarine
So, having xxx equal two different ships is "not right", which is what we used to call "wrong".
The one-x subs were always, of course, the hardest to find, which fit the genre exactly.

Nancy 7:44 PM  

What was that, again! You're not even close to knowing what it feels like to be puzzled, @Puzzled Peter!

foxaroni 9:15 PM  

I played Battleship before there was PAPER. We had to use chisels to make and mark our grids. It took longer to set up and then play, but what the hell? We didn't have anything else to do, other than dodging a Tyrannosaurus or two.

Cheeers for Bella Abzug. I always thought Garrison was a cranky curmudgeon. Creepy? No, just irritating.

Joe 9:18 PM  

Nobody’s seen “Bill and Ted”? They play Battleship with Death, in a parody of “The Seventh Seal”. There was a lot of crossword-ese in this, which slowed me up, but I thought the the theme was actually a lot of fun.

Z 9:25 PM  

@MAGA - Have you forgotten:
(and that’s just Fox News)

Carola 9:27 PM  

Cute. Nice end to the day.

David Nickol 10:31 PM  

"Gotta go," in textspeak is not TTYL (which is Talk To You Later). It's GTG. The two don't mean the same thing.

David Nickol 10:31 PM  
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David Nickol 10:31 PM  
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Doc John 2:16 AM  

All this talk of LENA Headey and not one mention of the "300" movies. Shame!
P.S. I'm not a goddamn robot! Give it the F up.

Jim Finder 2:57 PM  

Upstate New York it’s a WEDGE.

Jim Finder 2:58 PM  

Sorry, that was @ Sir Hillary.

Lewis 3:23 PM  

@z -- I've thought that Will et al took as much care with my grids as well as clues. There were puzzles in which they liked the theme but were dissatisfied with the fill, and when that happened, they emailed me with the words they were dissatisfied with (and giving me the opportunity to improve the grid), giving me the impression they looked at the grid with a fine tooth comb. It's clear they look at every clue as well. But I see it as a drive for excellence rather than a need to control. Truly, I don't see how they are able to get everything that they do done and still have a life.

Anonymous 4:14 AM  

I learned to play Battleship with an apparently different set of rules: the "cruiser" was called "destroyer" and the "destroyer" was called "patrol". I got (part of) the hint when I was looking at PTDESTROYER and figured out that it should be PTCRUISER, but I spent a good long time staring at what I thought was CONA_THEPATROL and was thoroughly confused. But I liked it anyway. Looks like Milton Bradley released rules for both naming schemes, though? (

Anonymous 4:15 AM  

I learned to play Battleship with an apparently different set of rules: the "cruiser" was called "destroyer" and the "destroyer" was called "patrol". I got (part of) the hint when I was looking at PTDESTROYER and figured out that it should be PTCRUISER, but I spent a good long time staring at what I thought was CONA_THEPATROL and was thoroughly confused. But I liked it anyway. Looks like Milton Bradley released rules for both naming schemes, though? (

thefogman 11:04 AM  

It's been a long time since I played Battleship so this puzzle EXHUMEd a lot of distant memories from the past. I finished with my fingers crossed because I had to venture a guess in the NE corner for ABZUG because the crosses (ALBA, BOOR and ZOOM) weren't sure things to me. Turns out I guessed right. A hit. My torpedo sank Trenton Charlson's ABZUG and the BATTLE was over. This was a well-constructed puzzle. It might be a record holder for the number of Xs appearing in a grid (13 times).

spacecraft 11:31 AM  

You wanna talk nerd? Our chess team used to play mental BATTLESHIP in the car on the way to distant tournaments. The faculty advisor drove--and PLAYED! Talk about divided attention!

I strode out confidently with ADDER/AIR in the NW corner. Clean miss! Hot air, Open air? Venomous snake?? And yet, no. So a royal inkfest there, but soon I saw a row of X's forming, and the resistance was over.

The 3-X SUB is the outlier here. Those little devils are single X's, and a bear to find. It spoils a perfect, deliciously scrabbly theme, but not totally. The long downs are a treasure. There is some weird fill--well, there'd HAVE to be, no? With all those X's? I think the job this guy (a debut? If so, impressive) did was little short of brilliant.

Not a GoT-er, but if you don't mind I'll borrow LENA's name to confer the DOD sash to the EXOYIC LENA Horne. Honorable mention to MIRA Sorvino. Birdie. TTYL

Burma Shave 1:18 PM  


EXOTIC EDNA tried to bury KEANU,
then it HIT her to ZOOM
and that CLOWN to EXHUME,
the only BOOR with whom she’d ACHIEVE SEX ADEUX.


rainforest 2:06 PM  

Well, my comment on yesterday's puzzle (brilliant and entertaining) became one of the disappeared, so I will be short today.

In Grade school I and my friends would draw our own grids to play. I've never seen the commercial version. I think our submarines were one X, though. We even had a minesweeper in there.

Fun, well-conceived and executed, nicely clued, cute.

rondo 2:53 PM  

I got the X factor early on but not enough to completely see the gimmick until the BATTLESHIP appeared. When that HIT me, the remainder filled in. Didn’t remember that a SUBmarine was one of the ships involved, it’s been a really long time.

The summer that JUKEBOXHERO came out I was working out of town and was pretty much a LOOSECANNON. Nothing HOHUM about that year.

Do future CPAs really “study” ECON? More than any other college student? ECON seemed to me to be rather general and everybody had to take it. Seems to me that the number crunchers took business math and accounting classes and such, more than ECON.

A coupla more non-yeah babies with MIRA and ALBA as clued. However, LENA Headey will do just fine. Yeah baby.

Interesting idea for a puz. And somewhat TAXing.

leftcoastTAM 2:54 PM  

From easy to tough...and confusing.

Never played BATTLESHIP and couldn't make sense of the number of X's representing the various kinds of ships. That was a WOE, making it harder to identify the ships, although carrier and submarine were pretty obvious answers

Then the long down, JUKEBOXHERO, apparently quite a popular piece, but never heard or heard of it (and I really haven't been living in a cave somewhere).

Just call me confused.

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

This was the best Thursday puzzle in a long time. I used to play Battleship a lot as a kid. Finished the entire puzzle without hints. Though did put one E where the A belonged.


Unknown 9:46 PM  

Ha! Love it!

Diana, LIW 11:07 PM  

Had a busy day, so I'm late. Didn't 'get" the theme even tho I finished. X didn't mark any spot for me. Gotta come back tomorrow and see what happened. No offense, guys, but I do tire of "guy themed" puzzles - ie, ones built around a game called "BATTLESHIP." For me, it's right up there with the winningest minor-league coach of 1936. You get the pic.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, patiently

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