Coins of ancient Athens / TUE 1-23-18 / Subtext of Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit / Strip discussed in Oslo Accords / Elongated heavily armored fish / Film editor's gradual transition

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Constructor: Jim Hilger

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (above average difficulty *for a Tuesday*)

THEME: SPREAD (68A: Apt word to follow each row of circled letters) — nonconsecutive circles in six different rows spell out a kind of "spread":

  • WING ("wingspan" is what humans say ... C'MON)
  • BED (really? really? Three meager letters and you want that to count as some kind of theme feat?)
Word of the Day: Wingspread  —
Wingspread, also known as the Herbert F. Johnson House, is a historic house at 33 East Four Mile Road in Wind Point, Wisconsin. It was built in 1938–39 to a design by Frank Lloyd Wright for Herbert Fisk Johnson Jr., then the president of S.C. Johnson, and was considered by Wright to be one of his most elaborate and expensive house designs to date. The property is now a conference center operated by The Johnson Foundation. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989. (wikipedia) 
• • •

Non-consecutive, non-symmetrical, spread-all-over-hell-and-gone circles that spell ... words. These things are never, ever pleasant to solve. Just looking at the grid put me off the puzzle, and then having it be ORANGE RIND and not ORANGE PULP really locked my mood in at "Low." Encountering primo junk like ITEN, ITER, and OBOLI (jeez louise), didn't help matters. With a theme this weak, and especially early in the week, the grid needs to gleam and sparkle, and this didn't even come close.    A vintage Tuezday (i.e. a total bust). I guess Tuesday was getting jealous that Sunday has taken over the "Worst Puzzle of the Week" spot. Well, game on, apparently.

Got slowed down all over by ambiguity / weirdness / badness. First the PULP thing, then the clue on ROWING left me blank (4D: Olympic sport with strokes), then 7D: Elongated, heavily armored fish should've been GAR but that didn't fit ... oh, you mean "fish" as a plural? (GARS) "Clever." I thought GAR *was* a plural, but what(so)ever. Got the WHERE in WHERESOEVER (18A: In any place) and didn't know what came next because the answer to that clue in everyday speech is clearly WHEREVER. There should've been some "quaint" or "bygone" or "in poetry" or something to clue the "SO" part of WHERESOEVER. By far the biggest hurdle, though, was (no surprise) the stupidest, bygonest, olde-tymiest, Maleskiest answer in the grid. At 19D: Coins of ancient Athens, I wrote in OBOLS. Which is by far the preferred plural for that *bygone* coin. But the puzzle wanted funky alt-ending OBOLI. And of course that was the one square that linked the NE to the E. So ... dead stop. Monday: OBLASTS. Tuesday: OBOLI. Been a weird week for OBscurities so far, and it's only Tuesday. Here's hoping for a happier Wednesday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


ncmathsadist 6:43 AM  

Pour me oboli froot loops. Toucan Sam coined the term.

Lewis 6:50 AM  

This puzzle got the job done -- woke my brain up and spurred it further with a few precious stumbles. Good clues for SESAME and ACE, and nice answers PREMONITION and CMON. Pretty much solved like a themeless, but I believe I used the theme to fill in a couple of letters. Impressive that the circles are in every word of the rows they show up in.

I believe LOD and LOAD are homonyms. Regarding "U-turn form SSW": too easy and would be so even on a Monday, IMO. WING SPREAD is a thing, but not nearly as well used (if you believe Google hit results, using quotation marks) as WINGSPAN.

The theme tripped off that unpredictable button in my head, and now all day I'll be hearing Sinatra singing, "Start spreading the news..."

kitshef 6:57 AM  

Little-known fact: The iconic Jefferson Airplane songs White Rabbit and Somebody to Love were both originally performed by Grace Slick’s first band, The Great Society.

Uneven puzzle difficulty, swinging wildly between the absurdly easy (NNE, UVW) and the absurdly hard (OBOLI? ITER?). Overall, agree with Rex on both the difficulty and the theme.

Ry 7:15 AM  

Epee appearing in a clue today after a few consecutive days as an answer is a nice wrinkle.

Mr. B 7:24 AM  

I finished within my average TUES time. Got hung up a bit in the NE corner at the WHERESOEVER and OBOLI crossing. OBOLI being my unknown-crossword-word-of-the-day. I'm OK with KOED (the boxing term) but OKED just looks weird to me. I had CM __ __ for awhile and thought it might be another one of those messaging acronyms I wasn't familiar with... but finally figured it out when the Rear Admiral's Rear came to fore...and I was FINITO.

I remembered those GARS that were on display at the old Steinhart Aquarium in Golden Gate Park (San Francisco). Fascinating looking fish. Loved that place when I was a kid.

TeriGars 7:29 AM  

What, no "MAN spread"? Guess the constructor doesn't take the subway. @Lewis, do you eat Cheerios for breakfast each day? C'mon!

Amy 7:33 AM  

True story: When I finish juicing my oranges, there is orange rind left in the juicer.

Hungry Mother 7:33 AM  

Took awhile to suss out the theme, but finally got it, too late to help. Very nice puzzle. Looking for middle age crisis at one POINT.

Z 7:34 AM  


To the guy on Twitter celebrating their first error free NYTX solve (and anyone else with a first time solve): Congrats. May you have many more.

I can't find fault with any of Rex's criticisms, but I still liked this well-enough. I'm still waiting to see ININETYSIX in a puzzle, though. Which raises the question - How can it be an "interstate" highway if it exists in only one state?

Two Ponies 7:34 AM  

The bar for a Tuesday is rather low so it doesn't take much to please me *on a Tuesday*. This, however, was a lot more fun than your average early week puzzle. I have so many margin notes...
Physics 20A, pretty early in the morning for that stuff.
Cobs, unusual. Oboli? New to me.
The phrase is "take a letter". not a memo. Isn't there a dumb old song "Take a Letter, Maria"?
Wipe is a film technique?
I've seen lots of gars and they are not armored, they're just long narrow fish with long jaws. Was someone thinking of sturgeons?
After putting an orange through a juicer a peel or a rind is leftover, don't you want pulp Rex?
Zed again. Will we ever stop being amused by their quirky alphabet?
Apparently not.
Planed reminded me of learning to drive our speed boat and getting it to go fast enough to plane.
Rex's picture of Tasti-Spred is made by he Baltimore Butterine Co.
Butterine? That's a name that didn't catch on.
I had some fun with this and that's all I ask. Mission accomplished Mr. Hilger, thanks.

Z 7:38 AM  

@Amy - True Story: When I finish juicing my oranges, there is ORANGE pulp left in the juicer and an ORANGE RIND in my hand, which I then throw down the garbage disposal.

Orkan 7:45 AM  

Mork and Mindy were rumored to be lovers. At some point, I hear, they even got married, though very few people were still watching at 5he time.

FrankStein 7:48 AM  

@kitshef, I replied to your post yesterday but I find evening posts rarely get read. You too @Nancy. Too easy even for a Tuesday despite its oddities. Spread makes me think of the King Ranch.

Alabama Teacher 7:57 AM  

Hey at least now we know who posts on this blog: "Alabama teacher admits telling students to ‘turn the nigger tunes off’ after they played Tupac in class."

KRMunson 8:00 AM  

Loved the Frank Lloyd Wright reference to Wingspread and SC Johnson. As a longtime Wisconsin resident I’m a big fan of both. SC Johnson is a great supporter of the local community and has maintained many of the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in their original condition. Tour them when you are in Wisconsin!

chefbea 8:08 AM  

Hand up for orange pulp...not rind. Always use orzo in my soups...and love charred beef!!!

Tough puzzle for a Tuesday

Ann 8:10 AM  

A pleasure for this novice. I imagine that, within months, I shall as blazé as the rest of you but, for the time being, I’m finding the crosswords a delightful respite from the news each morning.

Birchbark 8:14 AM  


Twas fun in the way that pretty much guarantees a burst of IDLE RAGE from OFL. A mostly VALID PREMONITION, until the OBOLI OBLAST at the end awoke all that is best in the @Rex pen. "Maleskiest" is a fine word (and I like Maleska). Weighing in on the "pop" side of obol-plural debate: Beauty is truth, truth beauty.

Good start to a snowshoe-level snow day.

OJ Simpson 8:19 AM  

@Z and @Amy, I'm really glad you two have educated the group about the existence of more than one type of juicer. Fascinating stuff.

Robert A. Simon 8:31 AM  

Great clue for oh, wow, the letter you hit on the keyboard appears on the screen! And it's swirly and purple and Ride My Seesaw is the best song ever and my hands are moving by themselves and I don't know how to stop them but it's perfect, you know, and I never saw the wallpaper move before 69-across.

George 8:42 AM  

I have always thought of WINGSPREAD as pertaining to birds and 'wingspan' as pertaining to aircraft. I prefer airplanes to birds, but nonetheless seems VALID to me.

Gramps 8:59 AM  

I thought the Jefferson Airplane song was about psilocybin mushrooms. The words "I just ate some sort of mushroom" are right there in the lyrics. Someone at the NYT seems to be asleep at the wheel some days.

I've caught a few gar fish over the years and even though Wiki uses the phrase "heavily armored" the ones I caught didn't seem that way.
But if Wikipedia says it then it must be true, right? Tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Maybe I was just too distracted by that funny looking jaw and all those teeth.

Sardonic is the same as wry? That seems a trifle off. Guess I'll go kneel at the altar of Wiki again and find out.

Good puzzle, lots to think about. Always a good thing.

Unknown 9:01 AM  

Obol plural is obols, not oboli, Latin changes singular ****us to ****i. Obol was a Greek coin, not Roman.

Anonypuss 9:12 AM  

Enjoyed it, but it went fast for a Tuesday (4:12), a minute faster than average.

If we get rid of every puzzle that contains anything that offends or rankles Rex, how many would be left?

GILL I. 9:36 AM  

I was looking at that OCTANE answer and seriously wondered if I knew anybody who pumped anything other than 87. Do you have to own a BMW to pump the 93? And then I liked that I TEN because now I'm remembering a car trip my husband and I never did take because of Katrina. Luisiana is a State I've never been to. Wanted to drive to New Orleans from Santa Monica but I don't do well with disasters.
This was just fine for Tuesday. If I do a puzzle and nothing evokes a memory or a smile, then I don't like it.
Every time I see GERE I go sniffing around for a cute gerbil. It never happens.
I always wondered why you would name your web service, YAHOO. The first dictionary explanation is someone who is rude, noisy and violent. Strange, no?
I also liked COMAS CMON and REL SEM EZRA.
TWO thumbs up Jim Hilger.

Bike Curious 9:53 AM  

I wonder if The Times would print rumors of Richard Gere’s gsy lovers or do they just out muppets ?

Beaglelover 10:18 AM  

Did George Barany stop commenting on this site or is he on sabbatical?

Anoa Bob 10:20 AM  

For the record, COMAS (51D) are not the same as "Deep Sleeps". People who are in the formers, unlike the latters, are characterized by the inability to be awakened and a lack of response to painful stimuli, among other things. The latters are parts of the normal sleep-wake cycles, and are sometimes called "slow-wave sleeps".

EMPTIER (49A) nonsensically joins the recent MUTER, adjectivally speaking. It would not be pretty, but I think they would work better clued as verbs or as nouns. Maybe something like "Drain, often" and "Trumpet cone".

UVW: School for a dyslexic Mountaineer?

CDilly52 10:26 AM  

We have GARS here and I have seen them often. One of our state parks even has a giant fresh water aquarium in the Nature Center that has always has one of the prehistoric looking guys in it. I have never heard anyone use GARS as plural, though. Like “fish” gar is singular and plural. And I don’t believe they are armored unless you count the scary long jaws. I ran through this quickly and didn’t focus on the theme until after the fact. Agree that it was a pleasant solve. Like many, I look for enjoyment and a respite from the news. Fine Tuesday for me.

Nancy 10:29 AM  

Normally, tiny little circles that are S P R E A D seem like a big cheat to me. But when the theme answers are as dense as MA GAZ I NE and MI D DLE AGE, I have to admit that some degree of skill went into the construction. Still, it was an after-the-fact theme that didn't add to the pleasure of my solve. Thought the fill was way above average for a Tuesday, though.

I couldn't help but see a subtheme, what with REIGNS, ABRADE, AVENGER, RAGE, EGO, TENSIONS, ODD, EMPTIER, IDLE, YAHOO, ORANGE RIND and UNPAID BILL. But as far as what that subtheme might be, my lips are sealed. I imagine y'all do have a PREMONITION, though.

Hartley70 10:31 AM  

@Beaglelover, I've been missing George myself for a long time.

ITER, OBOLI and this usage of WIPE gave this Tuesday some pizzazz for me. Normally I despise the little circles but adding spread to the circled letters across was strangely satisfying. I give this one a thumbs up.

mathgent 10:37 AM  

@Gill I (9:36): As you said, to be good a puzzle has to lead lead to a smile or a memory. So, today not good.

Joseph Michael 10:38 AM  

When it comes to film editing, I associate a WIPE with silent films of a bygone era. A gradual transition between TWO film images today is usually a "dissolve." So the clue to me seems slightly off.

Aside from that, and GAR with an "S," and a lot of crosswordese, this puzzle was OK. It certainly was not a SLOG. Caught onto the theme early on and that made solving easier.

Perhaps the most interesting part of all this was learning how many of you have juicers.

QuasiMojo 10:38 AM  

Lol @Nancy “orange rind.” Perfect.

Nancy 10:39 AM  

@FrankStein -- I did read your nice response to my response late yesterday. Thanks for the hugs, hugs always being appreciated.

Wm. C. 10:39 AM  

@Hartley, @Beagle --

I think I saw a post by George recently. Last week, maybe?

RooMonster 10:43 AM  

Hey All !
I may feel like a YAHOO, but can someone explain MIDDLE AGE SPREAD? Does everyone except me know what it means? CMON! :-)

Almost wrote in RTIO (as in Rt. 10) for ITEN and was going to raise a STERN stink about it. I do RAGE at UVW, though. Even if it's an ODD letter run. I feel TAKE A MEMO is a VALID answer. GARS is iffy. All those are just my OPEDS. :-)

As you see, not known for my RAPIER wit. But I try, even though most of it is a LOAD.

Rex said no symmetry? The circled rows are. Maybe not the circles themselves, but geez, it's OKED. Stop the RAGE!


Bob Mills 10:46 AM  

I thought it was easy. But whenever I think a puzzle its hard, Rex thinks it's easy. Didn't even try to figure out the theme, so I guess I get a demerit for that.

jberg 10:53 AM  

I didn't get the full theme -- i.e., that the circled letters are S-P-R-E-A-D until I read @Nancy, so thanks to her. Now I like it better.

Tomorrow's theme: the OBELISK.

Rita 10:54 AM  

Can you clue opeds (short for opinion and editorial) using the word opinion in the clue?

jae 10:58 AM  

Got to agree with @Rex on this one.

Jon88 11:06 AM  

"Apt word to follow each row of circled letters"? Isn't it more "Word to follow each row of circled letters aptly presented"?

old timer 11:13 AM  

Yep. Two kinds of juicers, the hand juicer which has the RIND in your hand, and the mechanical one used in bars where the RIND is in the machine until you remove it. And at the bar I go to, there is less pulp to dispose of than you might think.

I agree with OFL on OBOLI though. Lame! Still, I've seen worse puzzles on a Tuesday.

White Rabbit is all about pills. LSD usually came in pill form back in the day. So the song is indeed about acid, despite the tangential reference to a mushroom.

Missy 11:15 AM  

George posted on Saturday.

Tom 11:16 AM  

No complaints about T-X connection?

kodak jenkins 11:20 AM  

CMON is a first for me and I do protest. That was the toughest solve for me crossing with SESAME (which I always forget about) and OBOLI (jury still out on this one) and so close to the uncommon ABRADE.

The theme idea is nice but not the execution. I agree WINGSPREAD is not really a thing, BEDSPREAD is too easy/short and I'm almost 50 and never heard of the MIDDLEAGESPREAD so what am I missing? Is it too late for me to enjoy it?

pabloinnh 11:22 AM  

Lewis may be singing "Start spreadin' the news..." all day, but for me it will be Oboli-di, oboli-da.

andy 11:29 AM  

Oboli made me think of a Beatles song.

Puzzle was actually easier for me than usual but oh so dull. Didn’t even need the theme and I’m so tired of seeing LEA, ELIE, TOGA and ITO. ORANGE RIND was easy because of MINDY. And yes, that show was awful after the first season. It seemed like Williams stopped riffing so much.

QuasiMojo 11:33 AM  

@Rita, I think the "op" in OpEd comes from "opposite" not "opinion." Opinion pieces are usually placed "opposite the editorial page."

Arthur Ochs Schulburger 11:36 AM  

@Rita 10:54. op-ed stands for opposite the editorial page at least in the Times

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

15 across, with octane, threw me for a loop. I drive an Audi, which requires 91, which is getting rare here in the Natick area. Sunoco carries it, so we have our little Audi owners group that seems to gather at Sunoco. But for me, 87, 89 or 93 seems to reflect what I pay to fill the tank, not the octane, which is 91. Don't they have Audis in New York where Will is alleged to work?

Bax'N'Nex 11:42 AM  

Ann at 8:10am: You don't have to become like most of the people here. I have been doing crosswords for years and still look forward every day to doing them, good, bad or neutral. Trust me, just enjoy the process and don't get all hypercritical/analytic like many of these "experts". I truly appreciate someone out there spending time to give me a few minutes (or more) of enjoyment each day and don't need to grind them into the ground for their efforts. Thank you, constructors.

It is supposed to be a fun, brief respite from the daily grind. It's a PUZZLE, nothing more. I stopped posting (but obviously, still read some posts) here because I realize...who cares what I have to say? No one, that's who.

Don't get "blase". Just have fun.

Rita 11:48 AM  

@QuasiMojo and @Arthur Ochs Schulburger - Thanks!

Suzie Q 11:53 AM  

Cmon folks, wing spread is used all the time when you talk about birds. Someone earlier brought this up along with wing span for airplanes. Seems pretty "in the language" to me.

As for middle age spread it is one of the many unfortunate side effects of aging for a lot of people. Asses for women and bellies for men.

Weird plurals today. Gars? Reminds me of the recent elks discussion.
Then we have that coin I've never heard of. If it's true that it's Greek and not Roman why the "i"? Is Will letting some intern do his fact checking these days? I used to trust him.

Doc John 12:02 PM  

I will agree that usually the "random circled letter" thing leaves me flat but at least this one did have a lot of them. Six themers, all of different types. Not a bad feat to fit that all in, actually, OBOLI aside.
@Two Ponies: I'm still here every day, just don't have much to contribute as I usually arrive late.

Amelia 12:21 PM  
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Carola 12:25 PM  

My first reaction was C'MON, why not just do a normal "word that can follow...." theme, but then I noticed that the SPREAD of the noun phrases was used as a verb to do just what it says with the circled letters. Nice! MIDDLE AGE SPREAD got a smile from me, though fighting it in person is hardly a pleasure.

@Anoa Bob, EMPTIER reminded me of MUTER, too, but I think it's a bit different: you can characterize a place as empty when there are a few people present rather than an expected crowd. Maybe even EMPTIER than the last failed event.

JC66 12:33 PM  

@Anoa Bob, et al

Do these GARS wear SPEEDOS?

Wm. C. 12:42 PM  

@Anon11:37 --

You live in Natick? Do you know Doug Flutie? Ever drive down Flutie Pass? ;-)

sanfranman59 12:59 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:14 4:08 1.02 60.7% Medium-Challenging
Tue 6:00 5:33 1.08 65.7% Medium-Challenging

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

Wm C-Yes, I know Doug Flutie. Our company used to sponsor a program in conjunction with the local police and the Patriots, and Doug Flutie was very generous with his time. He got a little jealous at a game, I think, when the cheerleaders were fawning over my six year old son, not him. Well, at least he joked about it. I try to avoid Flutie Pass at all costs. I did tell Doug once that I had my money on Miami in the famous game, and I think Doug still owes me $100.

Jim Hilger 1:02 PM  

Thanks to everyone for their comments. Always very interesting to see what solvers liked and disliked in my creations.

Fill trivia: I did consider UMP instead of UVW. Went with UVW, so I could also go with my "TX separatists, loosely speaking?" clue, which then got changed during editing. Ah well.

I was really enthused about the theme when I submitted the puzzle, but then another NYT constructor soon thereafter published a clever "SPREAD the Gospel" -themed puzzle. Then I felt slightly less original. Ah well.

I was thrilled (much more so than Rex, anyway) to think to sneak in the BED themer, right before puzzle submission. That gave the theme a 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-letter answer, each SPREAD out across a row, along with the two super-long SPREADers in the middle area of the grid. Seemed like a nice, row-symmetric balance, somehow. Hoping that a lot of you had fun with it.

Thanks again,

Jim Hilger

Teedmn 1:03 PM  

OBOLI just looks dangerous (subconscious association with EBOLA, E.COLI, I presume). "Greek" meant I left the plural blank until I could confirm it wasn't "opodes".

redO before ECHO, feat before SLOG, yes to the "pulp". Fave - GiZA before GAZA, saved by the RAPIER.

24D has me harking back to one of @Nancy's comments from Dec. 11th's puzzle regarding "Rock-a-Bye Baby" though, in that puzzle, the answer was crib rather than CRADLE. But I still have the image of Mama and Baby sitting in a CRADLE like birds in a nest, singing away. Crowded but sweet.

I liked the theme - I finished the puzzle and checked on the SPREADs going up from the bottom and smiled - no RAGE here. Thanks, Jim Hilger.

'merican in Paris 1:05 PM  

Regarding GARS -- The ones with which I'm most familiar are Alligator GARS, which are big, armored fish that live in southern Florida. When I was a kid my Dad would drive us out to the Shark River, in the Middle of the Everglades, where the water came up from a cool spring. We would swim in its cool, clear waters, eyeing the GARS as they formed into cubes, like stacked wood, a few feet out of reach. There were also water moccasins in and around the river, and real gators on its banks, but they never bothered us. Once a State Trooper passed by and told us about those critters, and we said, "We know!" He just shook his head as he drove off.

Liked the puzzle fill -- definitely not a SLOG -- but DNF (SO SOON into the week!). In the NE I had erRoDE as the answer to 22A ("Wear away"), because I can't spell worth a damn (and was still thinking about yesterday's puzzl), and in the Reno area ooRt instead of MARS, because my astronomical knowledge fails me at times.

Grace Slick -- what a voice. Look up her performance at Woodstock. What a rocker. They don't make 'em like her anymore.

Kimberly 1:18 PM  

A few times this morning I stared at blank squares and kept saying “but it’s Tuesday!” and thought perhaps I’d had a stroke in my sleep or that I’d been hit in the head with a stupid stick. When you get past those humps, sometimes there’s a little grin of glee and sometimes there’s just a sigh of resignation (“Oh. THAT’S what it was?”). Today was far more about sighing than grinning, for sure.

Not sure it’s hyperbolically bad (and Rex, when everything is the most horrid thing in the world even an angsty teen starts to feel a bit overdone), but I wouldn’t give this one a gold star.

I don’t know if the constructor got lost trying to make the theme work (I like themes, they’re not all evil and there’s no obligation to make us clap with delight for the rest of the fill for making us “suffer” through one, no matter what Rex says), or if it was just ennui and lack of motivation, but NYT is getting what they pay for these days. I definitely agree with Rex on that topic.

Owsley Stanley 1:18 PM  

In days of yore, acid often came in small sugar cubes.

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

I don't find *oboli* so objectionable. It's one of those Greek words that for some reason came into English via a Latin filter. My Funk and Wagnalls (ca. 1960) lists obolus as the primary listing, with the plural oboli, and a variant singular as obol. I suspect more modern dictionaries list obol first. I never use the word, but if I did I guess I would give a plural with the more English *obols*. Then again, I on occasion use the word *syllabuses*, which had my students thinking I did not know any Latin. The word obolus does show up in the Latin Vulgate, as a translation of the Hebrew *gerah* (sp.), a twentieth of a shekel (e.g. Exodus 30:13). I guess one could use a plural that looked a little more Greek--oboloi.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Ando 1:35 PM  

There is no such word as WHERESOEVER. I don't care if it's in the dictionary. It's not a f**king word.

puzzlehoarder 1:57 PM  

This felt like an easy themeless puzzle to me. I had to work around WIPE and OBOLI. ITER was a gimmie. COBS would have given me difficulty but by the time I got into the bottom tier all resistance was gone. I never read the clue for that entry or the ones for PREMONITION, EZRA, UTES and LOAD.

Besides the above mentioned issues with the upper two thirds I really screwed myself up by misspelling 20A as TENTIONS. Then I compounded it by misreading the 21D clue as simply "Picked on" and supported my misspelling with TEASED. As if all this weren't bad enough I kept confusing 25A with 25D when trying to figure out the cross clueing. I got into a weird "Who's on first?" loop. It was easier to finish the rest of the puzzle and come back and fix it.

With VALID over SOSOON it looked like Vidal Sassoon was trying to make a subliminal appearance.

@Two Ponies, the lyrics were "Send a letter to Maria."

Canon Chasuble 2:18 PM  

Anonymous is right. The proper plural, in Attic Greek, of the word obol should be oboloi. Same plural form used in the expression Hoi Polloi, which would neveenbe written as Hi Polli. And the plural of octopus is not octopi, but rather should be octopodes, meaning eight-footed, as Oedipus means "swollen footed."

sanfranman59 2:22 PM  
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sanfranman59 2:26 PM  

For the record, the song title is Take a Letter Maria and the chorus lyrics are:

So take a letter Maria, address it to my wife
Say I won't be coming home, gonna start a new life
So take a letter Maria, address it to my wife
Send a copy to my lawyer, gotta start a new life

The song tells an interesting story of a workaholic walking in on his wife with another man, then expressing regret that his workaholism cost him his relationship, then putting the moves on his secretary as he dictates a "Dear Joan" letter. Good times.

Two Ponies 3:33 PM  

@ sanfranman, Thanks for the lyrics, that's the one could hear in my head.

@ Jim Hilger, Thanks for stopping by. For some reason bed spread was my favorite, perhaps because it was such a surprise at the end.

semioticus (shelbyl) 3:42 PM  

This puzzle gets a pass for me in tis regard: If you absolutely have to fill your puzzle with crap, at least spread it around so that there aren't a couple of spots that stink really, outrageously bad, B.B.O. bad. A lot of short answers, even stuff like UVW, NNE, REL (we had this 3 days ago!), SEM, LOD, GARS, ITER, OBOLI but they are never frustrating. Just unpleasant, of which I am more tolerant on earlier week days. You have a bad fill, fine, let's get done with it. This done is easy to get done with.

The theme, well, is OK. Before I became a regular solver last year, I used to solve NYT puzzles in paper. I had a few collection books that I had grabbed when they were on sale, and I always liked the bubbled ones. Just looks cute. So this didn't bother me because of that nostalgic value. That being said, this puzzle could have used some better long entries. ORANGERIND, WHERESOEVER more like mehsoever.

I also appreciate the effort of the constructor to come up with Tuesday-appropriate playfulness in clues.

GRADE: C+, 2.8 stars.

Joy2u 3:52 PM  

old timer 11:13 AM - "LSD usually came in pill form back in the day."
Back in 'my' day, LSD came in liquid form. Then it was poured on a 'blotter' and dried and cut up into tiny squares. Served with a BIG smile. Pills came later: Orange Sunshine, Raspberry Barrels . . ah, the 'good old days'.
... and 'some kind of mushroom', if it is in the family psilocybin, would have a similar effect.
Just as Alice . . .

Girish 3:55 PM  

@David Schinnerer 11:42 AM I care. �� Was worried you’d stopped doing puzzles, entirely.
Puzzle was more in my wheelhouse than Rex’s.
He’s too young to appreciate that “if you want some fun, try iboli-di oboli-da.” @Ann 8:10 AM David’s right. Don’t buy into the rants.

Girish 4:00 PM  

@Jim Hilger 1:02 PM Most enjoyable Tuesday NYT puzzle in a long time (and i’ve been doing them 50 years.) Thanks. 😀🙏

Gramps 4:15 PM  

@ Joy2u,
Now where have I heard about that mushroom?
Oh ya, back at 8:59 when I posted about it.

Anonymous 5:00 PM  

Generally enjoyed it, but "orange rind" definitely had me scratching my head. What kind of troglodyte puts an unpeeled orange into a juicer? :D

Chronic dnfer 5:09 PM  

Didn’t read the comments today. Agree with Rex. This puzzle suck. How is a cradle a “place to sing”? That towels be the nursery unless you actually get in the cradle which I’ve never seen done. This puzzle put me in a bad mood.

Joe Dipinto 5:25 PM  

Dear my wife,

I won't be coming home. Gonna start a new life.


Maria's Horny Boss Who Can't Wait To Get Into Her Pants

cc: my lawyer


Anonymous 5:35 PM  

To Canon Chasuble (2:18)

The reason I don't object to oboli is because very many Greek words get all sorts of transformations as they make their way into Latin and and then English. Of the words you mention in passing, *octopus* is not the Greek spelling--it looks Latin, and I think it is some form of Neolatin. Oedipus is definitely a Latin spelling, and people disagree on how to pronounce the first syllable, and neither the short e, common in the US, or the more scholarly EE [as in eek] is correct Greek. Why a word for a Greek weight or coin should be used in its Latin form is a mystery to me. I see that an obol was for a time a British coin, equal to the penny, and perhaps the British preferred to think of their money as "Roman" rather than Greek (??). All kinds of images of antiquity adorn American money as well.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Anon. i.e. Poggius

John Hoffman 6:22 PM  

I can't find fault with any of Rex's criticisms, but I still liked this!

Oldfatbasterd 7:19 PM  

Once again @Joy2u repeats stuff that has already been mentioned! Onset of dementia?

Barry Frain 7:24 PM  

Oldfatbasterd, the grumpy virago only reads comments written by people with blue names. You're wasting your time.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Larry Gilstrap 8:01 PM  

Hey! SPREAD the word, and the word is SPREAD. First it was dirt on Bert and Ernie, now we get Mork and MINDY revealed as pals. The puzzle is turning into In Touch MAGAZINE.

I enjoyed an after-dinner solve sitting at the bar of a busy restaurant complete with a palate of stimulating distractions. Drifting in and out of concentration, because of the pleasure of ordering, chatting with the staff, gazing at TCM, and acknowledging acquaintances. My friend, not a solver, seemed interested with how this theme worked. I actually had more fun when I could fold the puzzle in half and be present. Might try it again tonight, but it is Wednesday.

Speaking of bars, I like a certain Brew Co. in Tustin. It has a very long bar, but I have seen as few as three guys take up about ten yards. That's a first down. Man SPREAD, in deed!

nick strauss 8:02 PM  

Hard for a tuesday. ABRADE was last.

Joe Dipinto 8:27 PM  

@Gramps 4:15 -- but Joy2u got the lyric right.

Puzzled Peter 8:50 PM  

@Nat Erlich: ὀβελός, singular; ὀβελοί, (pronounced "obelee", spelled in English "obeli", plural

Rusty Penguin 8:51 PM  

What a crap puzzle, a mess of muck, word lovers wheresoever out of luck.

Joy2u 9:00 PM  

Joe Dipinto 8:27 PM - Ahhh, but I did forget about the sugar cubes.
.. and just noticed that 'as' should have been, 'ASK' . .

. . . when she's ten feet tall

Puzzled Peter 9:08 PM  

My mistake:
the Beta in the word, at least in modern Greek, is pronounced as "V";
Therefore, if I may transliterate:
Ovelos, Oveli. In English, Obol, Oboli.

Looney Toons 11:54 PM  

Does anyone remember Wiley Coyote taking it up the ass from Bugs?

+wordphan 3:57 AM  

Rex, you awake? WTH?

Unknown 4:24 PM  

@Puzzled Peter; Wiktionary entry is this:Noun[edit]

obol (plural obols)
(historical) A silver coin of Ancient Greece.
In Classical Athens, there were six obols to one drachma.
(historical) A weight, equivalent to one sixth of a drachma.

And you misspelled my name.

Girish 5:16 PM  

@David Schinnerer 11:42 AM I care! �� I liked learning that the correct Greek plural was oboloi. Oboloi-di, oboloi-da...perhaps, that is what the Beatles meant.
@Ann 8:10 AM David’s right. Enjoy enjoy the clever etymology of words and phrases...and ignore the vitriol.��

Unknown 10:31 AM  

As a generational thing, I am amused by and agree with, "Gramps" who gets kudos for spelling psilocybin. I can be bought off by the notion that "tripping" in general is the theme, specifics notwithstanding. I continue to be dismayed at what our "generation" has wrought.Peace love and discord! Ugh!

Burma Shave 10:32 AM  


Find an AVENGER on the VERGE,
to WIPE away INNER pains


Diana, LIW 11:35 AM  

Another busy day ahead.

lady di

spacecraft 11:48 AM  

You know, I'm beginning to think that our old friend @I skip M-W has an idea there. I am not naturally a curmudgeon (I hope); rather, these early-week garbage heaps are INFUSING me with (deep breath) curmudgeonliness. Letter strings? Must we? UVW: school for Jetta makers? At that point, after doing an OFL-like groan at seeing those randomly placed circles, I very nearly DNBTF. I bravely went on, however, not wanting to do that TWO days in a row.

There is a payoff, of sorts, though I'm tempted to dun Mr. Hilger for the balance of the UNPAIDBILL. He even includes the word SLOG in the grid! WIPE--as clued--is insider info that only a film editor would know. I guess Jim was trying to toughen it up a little bit; it could certainly use some of that. In terms of difficulty, I found it easier than OFL did, with only OBOLs--I mean OBOLI, after spelling out the rest of the circled letters on that line--to cause trouble. Wow, TWO RMU's in a row! CMON! ITEN to go into a RAGE about some of this fill, but it's not quite as junk-laden as yesterday's. LEA Thompson will do for DOD. Bogey--and I'm being kind. Please guys, let's try to clean up the fill a little, OK, ED.?

leftcoastTAM 3:07 PM  

Must a Tuesday puzzle always be the whipping-boy of the week? This one has its faults, such as maybe too many easy three-letter fills (take UVW, please), but it's a good theme with some good, not-so-obvious, themers.

The respectables include WHERESOEVER and PREMONITION for sure. OBOLI may be obscure, but its crosses pretty easily reveal it. ORANGERIND and UNPAIDBILL are fine long downs.

Tuesday sometimes deserves a little more respect, and this one is deserving.

rainforest 3:22 PM  

So, Tuesday being the stepsister if the puzzle week, this one didn't disappoint, BUT there was enough in there to offer a little challenge.

Finding a variety of items that can finish with SPREAD is an OK idea, although using circles (at least one circle in every word of the themers was admirable), may not be the most elegant way to do it. I was flummoxed after the first two wondering what "wing" and "cheese" had in common. A new KFC menu item? Also, WING SPREAD is a reach (get it?).

I actually thought the last themer was cute, in a thumb-your-nose kind of way.

Just wondering about Tuesdays. I say forget having a theme. They always get ragged on anyway. This effort wasn't so bad, though.

rondo 8:36 PM  

Have been to TWO dentist offices today and avoided a root canal but may be in for worse. Vaguely remember there was a puzzle. Recall that I thought that a GEN xer might study REL at a SEM at UVW in the NNE (perhaps a U of Vermont campus?). SLOG city.

Good call @spacey. Otherwise I was going with Pam Dawber as MINDY.

Working on another dental appointment. Sure to be at tooth-hurty (TWO-thirty).

Diana, LIW 9:07 PM  

@Rondo - from my 28 crowns to your r.c., I feel your pain. Hang in there.

Phew! I am so glad that weird blog format only showed up for a little while yesterday. I guess I was the only one directed there - probably by my local internet gerbils.

The puzzles this week so far are what they should be, in my book. No complaints.

And, yes, the theme is tin, but again, Mon and Tues should be for the beginning artiste - er, solver - to practice one's craft. So fine and dandy.

I think my schedule shall be back to normal tomorrow.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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