Singer Lovett / TUE 1-2-18 / Red Sea peninsula / Like a half-moon tide / "Gotta run," in a text / Amazon IDs

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Hey guess what? This might sound crazy, but it's Annabel!! This year, my New Year's resolution is to try new things. And one thing I've never tried is doing a Tuesday puzzle! Also Rex and I both totally forgot that yesterday was the first Monday of the month because of the holiday. Whoops. Rex will be back tomorrow of course, and I'll be back to Mondays next month, but for now, hooray for trying new things!

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Uhhhh medium I guess? I don't really have any other Tuesdays to measure it against but it wasn't as hard as I thought it was gonna be

THEME: DISOBEDIENT — Theme answer clues were in the form of "Disobey a ___ order?"

  • TAKE IT SLOW (17A: Disobey a rush order?)
  • MOVE AHEAD (31A: Disobey a stop order?) 
  • HAVE A SEAT (49A: Disobey a standing order?) 
  • STEAL A KISS (65A: Disobey a pecking order?)

Word of the Day: VOLGA (20A: Longest river in Europe) —
The Volga (Russian: Во́лга, IPA: [ˈvoɫɡə] (About this sound listen)) is the longest river in Europe. It is also Europe's largest river in terms of discharge and watershed. The river flows through central Russia and into the Caspian Sea, and is widely regarded as the national river of Russia.
Eleven of the twenty largest cities of Russia, including the capital, Moscow, are located in the Volga's watershed.
Some of the largest reservoirs in the world can be found along the Volga. The river has a symbolic meaning in Russian culture and is often referred to as Волга-матушка Volga-Matushka (Mother Volga) in Russian literature and folklore.
• • •
Like I mentioned above, Tuesday was actually way less hard than I was afraid it was going to be! Or maybe it's just this puzzle? It seemed to fit in pretty okay with the Mondays I've written up. Didn't get stuck too many places, except wanting ASIA to be more specific ("why won't TIBET, JAPAN or INDIA fit?!?") and having PRES instead of ADAM in 44A's spot for a pretty long time. As an English major I was a little disappointed with the clue for STANZA - they could have made a poetry reference!! - but that was more than made up for by the Zora NEALE Hurston reference. Plus, all the sea life in this puzzle was awesome. MAKO, EEL, ORCAS - it was like going scuba diving!

Honestly I thought the theme was just okay - and I'm not sure STEAL A KISS was worth the "pecking order" pun (although to be fair, it is a pretty great pun). Don't steal kisses if you're ordered not to! *Ahem* anyways, I just wish the words themselves had been connected in some way, not just the clues. That's always way more fun. But hey, I'm not trying to SLAM the constructor, it was just fine for an early in the week puzzle.

  • ERNEST (46A: Author Hemingway) —  I've read and watched "The Importance of Being Earnest" about a million times in various classes, and now I can't read any variation on the word or name "Ernest" without hearing it drawled out in an overdramatic British accent in my head.  "My ideal has aaaaaaalways been to love someone of the name of Eeeeeeeeeeernest....."
  • PATIO (69A: Setting for an outdoor party) — For some reason whenever I sit on the patio I can only think about this: 
  • ISPS (58D: AOL and MSN, for two)Obligatory comment about Net Neutrality. :P
  • EEL (43A: Fish with more than 100 vertebrae in its spine) —  Reptile people: how many vertebrae do snakes have? Or is it different depending on the size of the snake? I love reptiles and fish of any kind, so I love learning about them! I don't know what it is about cold-blooded animals, I just like 'em. I have a friend who owns a bearded dragon who likes to climb on people's shoulders and it's the cutest thing on the entire planet. My mom, on the other hand, hates snakes and probably hates that I even thought of asking this question.
    See the source image
    This eel looks so friendly though!!
Signed, Annabel Thompson, tired college student.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


e.a. 12:41 AM  

a handbag?!?

Thomas 12:46 AM  

Nice write up. You should try a Wednesday. Does your friend like to climb on people’s shoulders?

Scrub 12:53 AM  

Did anyone else find this one verrrry easy, like on-the-easy-end-of-Mondays easy? It was my fastest Tuesday on record and only 20 seconds slower than my fastest Monday. All the clues seemed incredibly, belligerently straightforward.

'merican in Paris 2:03 AM  

Nice write-up, Annabel. Your enthusiasm for cold-blooded animals is infectious! Speaking of infectious, how do you feel about cold-blooded insects, like mosquitoes? :-)

Not having solved many Tuesdays in the past, this one took me around 30 minutes, which is a good time for me, but I imagine about three times the average for others. I guess I prefer to TAKE IT SLOW.

Theme worked OK for me, but unlike @Scrub, I thought there were several nicely clued answers, like the one for ADAM. The clue for 28 D could have been "Story-teller", though I suppose there are many names that could answer to that description.

Over-writes included Come NOW before CALL NOW (knew that was wrong after getting 16A), SLur before SLAM, SaudI before SINAI, and KyiV (the way that Ukrainians spell it) before KIEV. By the way, I only learned recently that calling the country "The Ukraine", as it used to be called in Soviet times, can cause offense to Ukrainians, who want it referred to not preceded by the definite article.

"Touch"--"A BUT" sounds like something of which some Senators are all too fond.


JOHN X 3:54 AM  

Another lovely review, Anabel!

This puzzle was pretty good I guess. I've been doing a bunch of 1994 puzzles from the archive and man they are a different ballgame altogether. Much harder than the ones we get now. The thing I remember most about today's puzzle was the words I knew but misspelled: BOLaS and NEiLl. I always get bolo and bola mixed up, and misspelling NEALE caused all sorts of trouble until I tore it out.

I've never understood the affection for reptiles. I've met a lot of them and they possess absolutely no emotion and if you think they do you are projecting. I don't have anything against reptiles either, I'm just saying having a pet lizard is not the same as having a dog. Reptiles have lizard brains especially if they are actually lizards and they don't recognize their name and probably have an inner monologue that consists of a simple tone that has maybe three or four variations depending on the circumstances. This is all I have to say about lizards.

JON X 5:20 AM  

Of course I meant Annabel it was the computer's fault I am innocent

Anonymous 5:48 AM  

Hey English major. “Like I mentioned” is bad grammar.

Loren Muse Smith 5:52 AM  

Cool theme. This one has an elegance that belies, I bet, the work involved to 1) get a good group of “_ _ orders” and 2) find in-the-language phrases that force us to revisit the words used in the original orders. To that end, the outlier for me here was the “rush order”/TAKE IT SLOW pair. Those meanings aren’t as far apart as the others.

“Move along” before MOVE AHEAD and “adik” before ADAM.

I’m wildly jealous that CC has this impressive facility with English – I’m assuming it’s her second language since she moved to the US in 2001 – and has this bottomless pit of theme ideas that involve wordplay. I think about words all the time. If I even have a glimmer of an idea for a theme, I play around with it, get nowhere, and then shop it out to someone much better to bring it home.

The only other one I can think of is TAKE A NAP disobeying a work order. There could be disobeying a gag order, but I can’t think of an expression to rethink it. GRIN AND BEAR IT? Ya know, Fox News and all that.

@ED is right, at least for me, as regards getting a puzzle published in the NYT. Again, I speak only for myself, but I would work for a very long time - beg, borrow, and steal - for the bragging rights of having a puzzle published in the Grey Lady. Oh, and @Nancy – it gets worse. If ever one of mine shows up in a compilation book at Borders (and I check whenever I’m in the puzzle book section), I’d probably accost some customers there to show them the puzzle and explain that the name on the top of the page is mine. After some minor dust-up with a reluctant admirer, I’d probably be asked to leave.

I’m shameless that way. I let people think that the NYT is still the “Cadillac” of puzzles, just the way I brag that I studied at the Sorbonne and let everyone think that was A Big Deal when actually I just took some mickey mouse study abroad classes while buying peasant skirts/scarves to look European, convincing guys to steal me a ginormous French Gone With the Wind poster from a bus stop, and eating Mille Feuilles three times a day. Oh, and learning to pepper my speech with the word enfin so I sounded Frencher in my chic little skirt and scarf. I was a volunteer firefighter, and I always hope people are impressed with my courage when actually I never entered a real structure fire. (Ok, I did at fire school – with an instructor right there with me – and it scared the bejeezus out of me.) At real structure fires, I happily stood way far away and helped direct the endless parade of tankers delivering water. I stayed on the bunny slope of structure fires.

I can’t be the only one to leave out major details of my life experiences to make myself seem smarter and more accomplished than I actually am?

Anyhoo, again – @Evil Doug totally nails me and my ego with regard to being published in the NYT. And if the quality of the puzzles is truly declining, then judging by the number of rejections I get, well hell... (Did I ever mention that I’ve actually eaten at the Tavern on the Green and at the Russian Tea Room?)

So, ED – here’s my question for you: if you thought of a theme, gridified it, sent it in, got an acceptance, would you be happy with the $300 and then subtly let all your friends, family, passersby, that the puzzle in the NYT that day is yours?

CC – good job as usual. Annabel – thanks for the write-up.

'merican in Paris 6:04 AM  

@LMS: And amazing at how much you can write and post before six-o'clock in the morning.

Jon Alexander 6:04 AM  

Nice write up Annabelle,

I'll be the noodge (in Rex's stead) and say the layout probably made the fill inevitably poor and the theme was poorly executed. 18 three letter answers and none of them any good. Also, the theme is loose because the cluing isn't consistent. If you "disobey a rush order" you are literally taking it slow. If you "disobey a standing order" (the def. of which means an order or rule that lasts until it is rescinded), you are not having a seat.

Those problems and the lack of any attempt at any misdirection in the cluing makes this a baaaad puzzle (IMO).

stand·ing or·der
ˌstandiNG ˈôrdər/Submit
noun: standing order; plural noun: standing orders
an order or ruling governing the procedures of a society, council, or other deliberative body.
a military order or ruling that is retained irrespective of changing conditions.

Kevin 6:23 AM  

No, it is not. "Like" is a conjunction introducing the clause "I mentioned."

You are probably just repeating something you were told by a grade school teacher who substituted personal preference for actual grammar. That happens often.

Lewis 6:24 AM  

I will keep it short (Disobey a tall order):

1. Nice French feel with NAIVETE and EMIGRE.
2. AMELIA and the first six letters of EMAILALERT are anagrams.
4. Is it too soon for STEAL A KISS?

John Child 6:55 AM  

I liked this puzzle and echo @LMS’s appreciation for anyone who can operate so effectively in a second (third? fourth?) language. Typical Monday time here, whereas yesterday was a Tuesday-plus time. I don’t think timing solves means much, but how else to measure relative difficulty in an objective way?

SHOP LOCALLY is {Disobey a mail order}?
ACT POLITELY is {Disobey a disorder}?

Nice to see you again Annabel. Happy N Y.

Anonymous 6:55 AM  

Answer for disobey a gag order: swallow your pride?

Hungry Mother 7:09 AM  

Pretty typical Tuesday here. Wented a Y at the end of NAIVETE for a while until I looked at the cross. Stumped by the mini this morning, which will force me to be humble today (not a bad thing).

kitshef 7:13 AM  

Yesterday’s was about five times as hard as today’s (4.7 times harder, to be precise) – what’s up with that?

I thought using KIEV instead of Kyiv was like saying Peking instead of Beijing or Upper Volta instead of Burkina Faso. My Google machine tells me KIEV is more common so I guess it’s OK, but I’ll stick with Kyiv.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

@Annabel - snakes have 200+ vertebrae. It depends on the species of snake, but not the size.

Anonymous 7:22 AM  

Steal a kiss?
A clever pun, maybe.
A grossly tone-deaf (not to say inappropriate) answer in the year
of #Metoo.
To me, this is is not only typical of the crossword puzzle, but of the Times itself:
to identify (no, scandalize) a societal problem on one page, and then make sport
of it on the next.


Eric NC 7:40 AM  

Nice write up Annabel. Fastest Tuesday ever for me. Love wordplay so inevitably enjoyed this puzzle and the alternate suggestions in the posts.

chefbea 7:51 AM  

Glad to see you Annabel...was wondering where you were yesterday. Fun puzzle's 11 degrees here in Wilmington. . I know it was colder in NYC for those of you who stood out in Times square the other night!!!

ghthree 7:52 AM  

In re 56D: I'm reminded of the story of the homeowner who got a bill for four dollars for his goat. When asked for an explanation, the tax assessor cited the appropriate statute: "All property abutting and abounding on the public road shall be assessed at the rate of two dollars per front foot."

QuasiMojo 7:53 AM  

Hi, Annabel, I find it hard to believe both you and Rex forgot about yesterday being a Monday. We sure didn't. :) I am troubled though by the thought of you scuba diving with ORCAS.

The times change... back in my day Oscar Wilde's books and plays were not considered literary enough to be taught in a college English course. We had to beg to read him.

Speaking of the Times, @LMS, it's "GRAY Lady" not Grey. Perhaps you are thinking of Lady Jane Grey?

This constructor's puzzles seem on average to be too workaday to get me to utter "I had a blast!" Answers like ON TAP and IN PEN fall flat. And so much nerdy tech stuff that is boring: ISPS, PCS, DSL. I'm also not so sure BOLO TIES are specifically cowboy wear. According to Wikipedia the bolo tie was invented in the 40s. Nowadays it is New Age hipster wear.

Also émigré for "new citizenship seeker" struck me as clunky and off-base. There are many people living in the U.S. (for example) who have been here for years who are seeking citizenship. Nothing new there.

BarbieBarbie 7:54 AM  

Like is for nouns...with a verb it’s used with a participle, which is a noun. You can say “ Like mentioning.” Not “Like I mentioned.” It’s Strunk and White, not personal preference. However, disclaimer: I was a chemistry major, so what do I know?

Fun puzzle, enjoyed the long non-themer Down ones. IHADABLAST.

OK: is this the CC with no C initials?

'merican in Paris 7:54 AM  

C'mon folks, have you never stolen a kiss with your significant other? Not all stolen kisses are unwanted acts of aggression.

Two Ponies 8:10 AM  

If there was a day for puzzles even easier than Mondays this would fit the bill.

I'm with JOHN X on the topic of reptiles as pets. They are about as fun as a potted plant. I suppose they might appeal to you if you like watching mice being eaten alive.

Non Somuch 8:25 AM  


Steal a kiss is from a more innocent time and generally referred to a quick pick on the cheek (under the apple tree?) between a boy and a girl. It didn't mean a grab and a tongue down the throat. No doubt you mean well (I myself was offended by chrome dome ... no longer an insult? How about fat ass, we good with that now?) But don't paint your grandparents with a modern day brush.

ncmathsadist 8:43 AM  

This was a pretty easy Tues puzzle.

Numinous 8:48 AM  

Annabel, thanks for your ketchup write-up. Oops, that should be catsup? No! Catch-up. I was a little concerned that something might be a miss with you, wait, you are a miss and I meant amiss. I’m glad you are ok even if you do love cold blooded animals. Being a tired college student could mean you’re partying too much or that you are studying too much. I hope what you are having is a sensible mixture of the two. When you say English major, I can’t help hearing the Theme from the River Kwai in my head even if it’s called Colonel Bogey’s March. All the best, Annabel, looking forward to seeing you again on February fifth.

This was the easiest CC puzzle I’ve ever done. @LMS et al. I know from what little French I speak that making multilingual puns is something that occurs to me regularly. I also know from a polyglot who was a friend of mine that having studied a language from scratch makes one hyper-aware of it unlike a language one has acquired as a native speaker so it is no surprise to me that CC can create puzzles the way she does. This goes along with the elegance of Joseph Conrad’s writing and, perhaps, the eloquence of the English some of the Dutch people I know speak.

Here’s hoping that 2018 is better than last year!

mathgent 8:52 AM  

Another dud from the untalented Ms.Burnikel.

RooMonster 8:57 AM  

Hey All !
@LMS, I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets lots of puz rejections. You're one (three?) up on me, though, as you have had puzs published. But, I would definitely do the same as you and brag! Heck, I might even stand on the corner and tell passers-by!

Theme was good. Reimagining statements. A little leery of ISBNS and ISPS, though. Nice long Downs. If I'm working, I'll print out puz and do it IN PEN. Days off are online. You know, in case anyone cares!


Anonymous 9:00 AM  

OK, you got me. What is a CC puzzle? The constructor in this case was a ZB, and the reviewer is an AT. And it appeared in the NYT.

evil doug 9:01 AM  

"So, ED – here’s my question for you: if you thought of a theme, gridified it, sent it in, got an acceptance, would you be happy with the $300 and then subtly let all your friends, family, passersby, that the puzzle in the NYT that day is yours?"

Well, the premise is problematic, because I find the risk/reward/frustration formula daunting enough that it ain't gonna happen.

But if it did? Yes. Only probably not

Odd Sock 9:07 AM  

CC is ZB's nickname. People using that are trying to impress you with how cool they are to be part of the inside group who knows this. Wannabe snobs.

RooMonster 9:08 AM  

CC answer, for those asking.
She has other puzzles published elsewhere, and goes by CC Burnikel in those puzzles. But, I heard it was Will Shortz who said (paraphrasing) that she has to use her real first name, hence Zhouqin. Us Rexite snobs still call her CC, though! :-)

RooMonster Help Desk (in the corner of M&A's room)

Z 9:18 AM  

I thought this was a top notch Tuesday. A little word play, the crosswordese doesn’t overwhelm, just enough bite to be a Tuesday. If I were to have a nit it would be that we have four down answers the same length as two themers and longer than the other two. But those four answers are part of what give the puzzle a little more challenge, so I can’t really complain about them much.

Nancy 9:18 AM  

Since rush orders, stop orders, standing orders and pecking orders are real things, the wordplay in this puzzle works nicely. And STEAL A KISS was a delightful answer; I suspect it may have been the inspiration behind the theme idea. Do wish the puzzle had put up more resistance, though when I had MOVE A---- at 31A, I waited to see how things would develop. It's good that I did -- my first thought was MOVE About. Other than that, pleasant enough, but not a whole lot of thinking required.

Z 9:29 AM  

C.C. is prolific so if you do other puzzles you will run into her byline. She also started and maintains a Blog on the LATX. She also is friends with several constructors/Rexites. C.C. is also a lot easier to type than Zhouqin. So, if doing lots of puzzles, reading other crossword blogs, knowing someone, or just being lazy makes one a “snob,” I guess we’re guilty.

ArtO 9:41 AM  

Big obit in today's NYT for Maura Jacobsen who created "ingenious crossword puzzles" for New York magazine (more than 1,400 in total) over many decades. Based on OFL's criticism, the NYT could have been well served with her "witty thematic clues". And, she was a three time winner on Jeopardy in 1964 taking home the astonishing total of $3,150 (oh, for the good old days, eh?).

As for ZB or CC as the "in the know" refer to her, I thought her puzzle was a cut above (as hers always are) and there's nothing warranting #metoo about "stealing a kiss"... perhaps the most innocent of "pecks".

webwinger 9:43 AM  

Fascinated by the range of reactions to “steal a kiss”, all of which seem reasonable to me, but liked Annabel’s best, leavening her modern viewpoint with a bit of humor. Also thought it was the cleverest clue/answer pairing in the puzzle.

GILL I. 9:48 AM  

Monday cute. STEAL A KISS made me laugh only because I remember when I first heard that pecking meant just that. My very first kiss was playing spin the bottle. I even remember the green color of the bottle. Anyway, this fat short boy got in on the game and as luck would have it he spun right at me. I was told I had to give him a peck on the mouth. I was about 2 feet taller than he was but he stood on his tippy toes and planted a big fat wet one on my chin.
Speaking of memories (Hi @LMS)...if you've already taken a tour of the NAPA VALLEY, try the wine train. It's touristy but I thought it was worth the pricy tickets. Every time someone comes to visit, they want to drive to Napa/Sonoma. Just last year, we decided to take the in-laws on the train from NAPA to St. Helena. The ride is about 3 hours long but you are wined and dined long the way in a very elegant Orient Express atmosphere. You'll probably never do it again, but it's fun to say you did.
I just noticed that this here puzzle sure has lots of names. ERNEST is always my favorite Old Man and the Sea la bodeguita del medio. At times, I feel I've led his life.
Thank you Annabel for a cheerful review.

ArtO 9:49 AM  

P.S. Mrs. Jacobsen did have 66 puzzles in the NYT in addition to her New York magazine publications. I'm sure someone can check out when her last one ran.

Mohair Sam 9:59 AM  

Happy Monday. Easy puzzle and Annabel, ignore your calendar - it is Monday for sure.

My buddy and I used to sing a duet of "The Song of the VOLGA Boatmen" while we rode on the back end of a garbage truck on one summer job - it was that kind of work - but customer's cracked up when they heard the music. If one more person asked us "How's things pickin' up?" I'd be serving life for homicide.

@ED - You were right on every level yesterday. On the subject - You know that cost accountants at the Times have a lot more input on commission levels for crossword construction than Will Shortz. Personally, if the Times thinks its profits from the Crossword Puzzle are better spent on additional reporters than constructor fees, I'm fine. Yet I have no problem with constructors demanding higher fees - they're the source after all. But if I'm in charge at the Times I'm constantly reminding Will that his division needs the Gray Lady more than she needs him - and I'm allocating my gross revenue as I see fit.

Still, I miss the frequency with which we used to see the top constructors. Berry's and Quigley's are rare - and M.A. Smith has essentially vanished. And I wonder how many have followed Liz Gorski's example and simple stopped submitting puzzles to the Times. IMO the quality has sagged over the past few years (yes, I agree with Rex). But if The Times isn't feeling it on the bottom line - if we don't stop solving or go elsewhere - nothing is likely to change.

Nancy 10:09 AM  

@Loren -- I join @'merican in being GOBSMACKED by how much and how well you can write before 6 a.m. And I agree that bragging rights for having a puzzle in the NYT is worth giving up fair compensation for. You're getting a recognition...lots of good stuff. It's a trade-off. But it's something that should only be done once. Once you have the byline and the name recognition, it's time to try and parlay those assets into a paycheck that's not a complete joke. If all constructors followed this policy, they would be far less likely to be exploited. Of course, if it's just one constructor who sticks to her guns, she will get nowhere.

I know whereof I speak. It wasn't a crossword, it was a different kind of puzzle. And it wasn't the NYT, it was Games Magazine. I submitted 41 puzzles; they said they would use 3 in their next issue and pay me $50 for all three. Like you, Loren, I wanted the exposure and the byline. But then came the contract, giving them ownership of all 41 of my puzzles, with the right to publish them in any way they liked in perpetuity. Now my brother's a lawyer, I'm not, but you didn't have to be a Clarence Darrow to see the outrageousness of this contract. I emailed them back, with the following words: "I sign this and, poof, my 41 Anagrammed Poems become your 41 Anagrammed Poems???? For $50???? Do you think I'm crazy????" I got a return email that said: "We have many different kinds of contracts. I'll send a new one out to you." And he did. The 41 poem/puzzles remained my property. Games Magazine omitted any claim to any future rights. But the upshot was: They never published another puzzle of mine after the first three.

The moral I suppose is this: You can't mandate fame, fortune and success. But you can always make damn sure you're not exploited.

Stanley Hudson 10:10 AM  

“STEAL A KISS” is not quite the same as “grab her by the pussy.”

Birchbark 10:33 AM  

VOLGA + using French to impress = The VuLGAr Boatmen (a good a late-eighties-college-circuit band):

"Mary's friends come in, Mary's friends sit down
I say hello in French, they think I've been around
And I'm supposed to be thinkin' 'bout the rest of my life,
I'm supposed to be thinkin' 'bout the rest of my life."

Et voila, there it is.

Joseph Michael 10:46 AM  

Email alert: I did not have a blast.

This puzzle was a snoozer for me. I found little delight in solving it or caring about it. Thought the word play was weak and inconsistent. To disobey a pecking order, for example, would be to *not* kiss someone.

Too many initialisms like CST, LDS, AHL, PCS, and ISBNs. And then there is the crosswordese. Aha, aria, Asia, aid, aorta, neap, aloe, spa, ages, res, eel, EEK!

The four long downs were bright spots but did not make up for what this puzzle lacked.


Irene 10:46 AM  

I suppose I'm showing my age, but I don't think that a puzzle should include ISPS, ISBNS, DSL, LDS and TTYL.
Just saying...

Nancy 10:47 AM  

My nominations for the two funniest posts on today's blog:

@JOHN X's 3:54 a.m observation that begins: "Reptiles have lizard brains especially if they are actually lizards"...

And @Stanley Hudson's 10:10 comment in its entirety.

Andrew Heinegg 10:48 AM  

As someone who leans fairly far left of center and is disgusted by the necessity and revelations of #metoo but, who gets irritated with the endless political correctness that is everywhere, this stolen kiss business just sends me up.

The idea of a stolen kiss is purely a romantic one and has nada to do with unwanted advances. It means you are in a setting where both parties have presumably given at least some indication to the other that there may be a romantic interest possible.

The way the kiss is stolen is that it is short and non-aggressive. It is meant to say:'here's what I am thinking, how about you?'. It is a question hoping for a positive answer. Somebody has to inquire what's what! The worst outcome should only be:'Thanks. I'm flattered but, I don't have any interest in that, at least not now or at all' (if it's the latter, you need to readjust your sensor mechanisms).

And, it is not done so quickly or aggressively that the object of the stolen kiss cannot stop it before it gets started, if they so choose. The best that can happen is encouragement from the receiver.

Please do not kill romance (or answers in crosswords) in the name of justice and fairness.

Masked and Anonymous 10:54 AM  

One of my fave constructioneers, this CC lady. She is certainly prolific & successful, with over 50 NYTPuzs in six years or so.

{Disobey a word order??} = KISSASTEAL. day-um. How coulda CC have passed up this fool's-golden opportunity?!?

Great long-ball entries, in the NE and SW. fave: ROOKIEYEAR.

"18 three letter words and none of them any good" (yo, @Jonathan Alexander). This feelin can kinda sweep over a solver, when none of the lil weejects contains a U. Which can happen, when there is only one of the lil darlins, in the whole puzgrid. [shudder]
staff weeject pick = AHL, with its equally mysterious (to M&A) Caulder Cup.

Nice blog write-up, Miss Blu'Bel darlin. Always unusual to meet a (tired) EEL-lover. I think U are correct, that this TuesPuz was tolerable good & MonPuz-easy. Ergo ...
Contented moo-cow eazy-Est TuesPuz clue: {Author Hemingway} = ERNEST.

Pre-wants: Wanted ININK before INPEN. AEON before AGES, leadin to the unthinkable EEL frittata [shudder2] before EGG fritatta. OLAF before OLAV. Also, guessed at IGN(ORE) rather than IGNITE, based on the IGN- and havin not read the clue yet. [I do that sometimes, in hopes of savin precious nanoseconds.]

Thanx, CC. C-lever C-rossword.

Masked & AnonymoUs

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

Well, it sure feels like a Monday to me. Back at work, and an easy puzzle. (Finished this one slightly faster than the yesterday's oversized).

I can never keep straight if it's St Olaf or St OLAV. the two seem to be used interchangeably. But when I couldn't think of a European river that started with an F, I at least knew what to change.

I thought this was pretty good, all in all. Some longer answers that don't feel forced. The 10-letter verticals are all smooth as glass.

I don't get the carping by certain commenters (spellcheck does not like that word, but I can't think of a better one) about "snobs" or some "inner circle". I mean I literally do not understand it. On the surface it would seem to reflect more on the social skills and insecurity of the commenters than on the targets of said comments, but that's just a guess. I don't know a single one of you people but I like reading the comments and occasionally adding my own. I mean seriously what's the deal.

Rita 11:09 AM  

In my world a stolen kiss is a shared act done by a mutually consenting couple, not an act of aggression. Like stolen time, a stolen kiss is a bit of pleasure carved out of life's more challenging activities.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

Indeed, @Rita. And some stolen kisses take place between a parent and young child, or vice-versa. And what @Andrew Heinegg said.

Anoa Bob 11:23 AM  

The double tens down in the NE & SW were nice, enabled by a modest, four-themed grid. Good balance between theme and grid. There was a time when three or four was the norm but I've noticed a steady increase in the typical number of themers, sometimes even with six or seven of them crammed into a 15X15 grid, which doesn't leave room for much of anything else.

Three of the "orders" involved some type of command or directive. Of those, only "Disobey a standing order"/HAVE A SEAT seemed to me to involve word play, while "...rushing order"/TAKE IT SLOW & "...stop order/MOVE AHEAD sound more like simple paraphrasing of disobedience. The "order" in "...pecking order" however, is not a command or directive, but a succession or sequence, here in terms of social standing, so the "disobey..." part didn't work for me on that one.

STEAL A KISS did bring back some nice memories though, and seems much closer to NAIVETÉ than to the men-being-pigs stuff we've been seeing in the news of late.

xyz 11:34 AM  

Easy but I was slow in the NE, the prevalence of lazy, sloppy runs of letters and (expected for a TUES.) CW-ese didn't bother me, those two long downs weren't easily apparent to me on a computer, how I solved. Downs are magnitudes easier on paper for me.

... Plus I loathe NBA basketball, despite the fact I played what was formerly that sport for years and years and EONS.

Two Ponies 11:35 AM  

I figured the stolen kiss would be the topic of today's discussion. So far it has been cute and fun with the exception of Stanley Hudson (10:10).
There is a big difference between talking about something and actually doing it.

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:35 AM  

Burnikel rarely disappoints me as a fellow non-native English speaker crossword aficionado, and today was no different. Now, there are some inherent problems with the fill (and the theme, some might say), but this is what I expect from a Tuesday puzzle anyway (hear that yesterday's absurd Monday? Frak your "adventurous" approach with utterly crappy short answers. You are a Monday puzzle. Stay in your place.)

The puzzle got one thing right. If you are filled with 3- and 4-letter answers, you have to give me something for that. For all the AHL, CST, DHL, PCS, ISPS, NEAP, OLAV, ALOE, ARIA, ISBNS there were NAPAVALLEY, IHADABLAST, EMAILALERT, ROOKIEYEAR, NAIVETE, EMIGRE etc. Without these bonus answers, this would have been a terrible fill. Yet it is an average one. Another thing it gets right: If you have an overall weakness, you need to make yourself a pleasurable pastime activity. Don't make me think super hard on a Tuesday about some obscure word/reference that I will never use again in my life unless it's in another crappy puzzle like you. This one is filled with banal crossword glue, yes, but it is familiar territory with some bonuses. Like, it's your usual pasta with tomato sauce but with capers that pop in your mouth mmhmmm delish.

The theme was meh, and I don't disagree with the commenters above who found problems with it. But, it was a satisfying job overall. A much needed Listerine shot after what we were given on Sunday and Monday.

GRADE: B, 3.35 stars.

Bob Mills 11:38 AM  

"As I mentioned," not "Like I mentioned."

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:39 AM  

P.S.: Inre "steal a kiss". As a rule of thumb, doing something against someone's will is always a no-no. However, there are levels to it. Imagine an inverse bell-curve graph with your age on the x-axis and the cuteness of the act on the y-axis. That's your guideline.

Or in other words, if you are a fully functioning adult, do not fraking steal a kiss man I mean come on now.

Thomaso808 11:43 AM  

@Evil, as to “risk/reward/frustration formula” there is more than just the potential monetary reward or the big reward of getting published. The process of constructing itself is a challenging and rewarding hobby, and I suspect most constructors start out for the fun of it. As to frustration, Shortz could do one simple thing to reduce that — have one of his minions send a quick and easy e-mail to the constructor to acknowledge receipt when the envelope is opened rather than 2 to 4 months later.

jb129 11:49 AM  

Happy New Year Annabel!

This was an easy ZB puzzle - fun

SonomaGuy 12:06 PM  

Anyways is not a word

Aketi 12:14 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aketi 12:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aketi 12:23 PM  

@M&A, I think I’d rather eat a cinnamon roll than an EEL frittata, but I do like It in sushi rolls so I suppose I would give it a try.

@Annabel, I must confess that I prefer the warm blooded sea creatures like ORCAS. I didn’t know that MAKO sharks are partially warm blooded. They can warm themselves up for a burst of activity. With M&As talk of EELs and EGGs I managed to find a really cute video EEL EGGs hatching, but can’t seem to get the link to work

I also discovered that Etsy has EEL ART.

Anyway, Happy belated New Year. Hope you’re catching up on sleep as much as my son is on his break from college. He typically gets up around 2 pm to 4 pm. He said he wanted me to wake him at 1 pm today but I know he’ll just fall back asleep again

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

Mako is always clued as a fast shark. Today I looked it up and they are not just fast but the fastest, up to 60 mph. Wow.

tea73 1:23 PM  

Hand up for INink. Left OLA? hanging until I got to the across. News to me that the VOLGA is the longest river in Europe - I'm never sure which parts of Russia are Europe and which are Asia, though if I recall my crosswordese correctly the Urals are the dividing line. I'm not bothered by the little three letter stuff the way many are and thought the theme was very cute. I am awed by anyone who can construct a puzzle in a non-native language. Even after five years in Germany I could not do the local paper's puzzle. At all. I also frequently missed the punchlines of jokes until they got explained to me. My youngest son's boyfriend speaks Cantonese at home, but was sent to English speaking school in Hong Kong so her English is fluent - she also has an amazingly convincing American accent. I often forget she wasn't born here. Would that I were as gifted as she is!

Teedmn 1:28 PM  

Not Monday easy for me - Tuesday average at best. And I'm not firing on all cylinders apparently, on this first day of work (for me) since Dec. 20th. 4D read "2009 aviatrix biopic" but was understood as...well, I'm not sure what I could have been thinking but from the initial A, I slammed in Avatar. Yeah, it's a movie, and yes, there are flying things in it - yup, pretty sketchy.

And I came close to making an M&A nano-seconds-saving (wasting) assumption at 26A. I had the nHL in at 27D. The P of SPA arrived and I was about to plop in Pnin, that beloved-of-crosswords novel by Nabokov but Jack and Jill saved that little side track.

I like the themers - I never realized there were so many ___ orders. So "disobeying a new world order" = PLUTOED? Yeah, I'll work on that.

Thanks CC, nice Tuesday.

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

@tea73 - I'm all for embracing gender fluidity, but your youngest son's boyfriend shouldn't change gender in mid-sentence, it confuses the hell out of me. Actually, let me retract that- they can do what they have to to be who they are, you have to learn the singular, gender neutral they.

Annabel Thompson 1:47 PM  

@Anonymous - a fast shark for a fast puzzle? :)

puzzlehoarder 1:59 PM  

I had to solve yesterday's and today's puzzles on my phone and there was little difference in time. What I came away with from this puzzle was a greater need to familiarize myself with the name OZAWA (tailor made for crosswordese) and the correct spelling of NAIVETE. That first E was initially an I for me. The crosses corrected that easily. My Webster's confirmed my suspicion that the offending vowel sound is represented by that pesky inverted e. That sound should really have it's own separate vowel. I'm one of those weak spellers that tries to fall back on pronunciation as a guide and that sound gets me every time .

I may be a lousy speller but when it comes to puzzles I'm a pure snob. There's no "wannabe" about it. In my opinion this constructor can make a themeless with the best of them.

@Hungry Mother, I thought you were confusing NAIVETE and NATIVITY to want to end with a Y. It turns out that the Brits actually spell it that way. Figures.

Charles Flaster 2:17 PM  

Very easy even for a Monday.
Annabel— you are ready for Any puzzle!!
Only burp for me was plant A KISS before STEAL A KISS.
Liked OZAWA crossing OSAKAN.
Thanks AT for the review.
Thanks ZB

oldactor 2:25 PM  


Where did your youngest son's boyfriend get the sex change, in Hong Kong?
It would probably be cheaper there.

Hartley70 3:05 PM  

It's probably my own fault that I found no joy here. I just cruised along and filled in the theme from a relatively few crosses without looking at the themer clues. When I finished the puzzle I had to find the theme clues to see the relationship. At that point it didn't do it for me.

I liked seeing the VOLGA and TAIWAN clued so well. I appreciated the info.

Anonymous 3:42 PM  

@tea you (or your son) seem to be having some serious gender confusion at the moment. I hope you figure it out.

Anonymous 4:37 PM  

Reading these comments through is, today as usual, like dancing naked in a cactus patch.

sanfranman59 4:45 PM  

A few years back, I was a regular contributor here and at least some folks seemed to like my speed-solver evaluation of difficulty. Back then, I used the "Scoreboard" times that were published on the main NYT crossword page (if you're interested in details, see my 8/1/2009 and 10/15/2012 posts), but they took that away about a year ago.

I started tracking my solve times on CrosSynergy, Universal and USAToday puzzles in a spreadsheet back in 2005 (I haven't done these puzzles since the end of 2014). I added the NYT in June 2009, the LA Times in February 2010 and Newsday in September 2014. I now only do the latter three dailies and I never miss a day (thanks to a lovely piece of shareware that Alex Boisvert developed years ago that goes out and grabs the puzzles and converts them to PUZ files).

I don't know how long this will last, but here are some numbers and difficulty ratings based on my own solve time for today's and yesterday's puzzles.

Day, solve time, 26-wk median, ratio, %, rating

Mon 5:00, 4:03, 1.23, 88.3%, Challenging
Tue 4:29, 5:35, 0.80, 9.5%, Easy

The columns are that day's solve time, the 26-week median solve time (for that day of the week), the ratio of that day's solve time to the 26-week median (higher means it took me longer than normal), difficulty percentage, difficulty rating. The difficulty percentage is sort of like a percentile. I rank order all of the ratios in my current NYT spreadsheet (back to May 2015) and divide today's rank by the total number of days in the spreadsheet.

For example, today's solve time was 4:29 vs my 26-week Tuesday median (5:35) yields a 0.80 ratio. That ratio is the 13th lowest of the 137 Tuesdays I've tracked back to May 2015, the difficulty percentage is 9.5% (13/137) and the rating is Easy. The difficulty rating is based on the percentage as such:
1-20 = Easy
21-40 = Easy-Medium
41-60 = Medium
61-80 = Medium-Challenging
81-100 = Challenging

Joe Dipinto 4:48 PM  

This puzzle made we want to hear Miriam Makeba singing "Love Tastes Like Strawberries":

Love is fast like fingers flying
Love is soft like years of crying
Wine and spices interlaced
Love's got a fresh strawberry taste

And when the peddler cries strawberries
That's when my heart replies,
Love tastes like strawberries

Met my love in the market place
My heart stopped when I saw his face
The berryman said won't you try this
We looked, we bought, we stole a kiss

The berries are gone and spring has passed
But I know my love will always last
The rain has come with a sudden haste
Love's got a fresh strawberry taste

And when the peddler cries strawberries
That's when my heart replies,
Love tastes like strawberries

Love tastes like strawberries

Two Ponies 5:18 PM  

@ sanfranman, Hey, I was just wondering about you the other day. Welcome back!

@ Joe D, Thank you. That is lovely.

JC66 5:28 PM  

Hey @SFman

Welcome back. We missed you.

semioticus (shelbyl) 5:29 PM  


Data! Stats! Yay!

I have been keeping a Google sheet for more than a month now where I grade every puzzle in four categories; Fill, Theme/long answers, Clues, Pleasurability. When there is enough data I'm gonna publish my results somewhere. Please keep up posting these scores. The more the merrier. (I believe @mathgent also has a scoring system but his is a bit irregular.)

evil doug 5:35 PM  

Kill me now....

sanfranman59 6:10 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
sanfranman59 6:30 PM  

Sorry you seem to disapprove, ED. I promise not to send the blog police out after you if you choose to ignore my posts.

Thanks to the others for the warm welcome back.

Carola 7:04 PM  

Annabel, it was a treat to find your surprise write-up today. Happy New Year, and happy start to spring semester!

Anonymous 9:03 PM  

Nancy, I hope I am not posting too late to you to read this. I much look forward to your posts, and maybe some day I'll try to slog my way to NYC so we can meet!

This regards your comments on how, or if, contributors are paid. My original post, yesterday, at the beginning (signed as anon. i.e. Poggius--I can't remember by password!) never claimed that Shortz or the NY Times did not pay contributors for reprints. Perhaps they pay them a little--I have no idea. My point was that these puzzles generate a huge amount of money, as I learned when a conversation between Shortz and the puzzle-maker CUS, from Germany, was recounted for me. I've met CUS, have never met Shortz, but I believe the conversation was real and reflected reality.

Nancy, I have no ax to grind in all this--I've never created a puzzle for the NY Times or anyone else. If people are actually trying to make money by writing puzzles, I think the NY Times could be shamed into offering them a little more. I don't begrudge Shortz for controlling royalties, to the extent that he does--if I were negotiating with the NY Times I would be not want all the money to got to it and not to me. I think my original point is valid: there is a lot of money there, and it is not going to those who make the puzzles.

The only thing I have ever written that is really anti-Shortz I think I posted some time ago. I'll put a reproduced version below. As I said, I have never met him.

Indiana University has made a big fuss over their “personalized” majors. Their great success story is Will Shortz, who created for himself a major in “enigmology” or something to that effect. Shortz even appears in ads for the University, in fund-raising drives. Those of us who complain about the NY Times puzzles reflecting too much trivia of popular culture, day-time television, and video games, may want to argue that Shortz should have been required to pursue a course of studies in the humanities. I argue this, but a defense of the humanities at Indiana falls on deaf ears.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

chefbea 9:09 PM  

@Sanfranman...welcome back!!!

Kevin 12:00 AM  

That's completely a matter of personal taste. There is nothing at all wrong with using the second one.

Unknown 3:53 PM  

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After 12years of marriage, me and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me and moved to California to be with another woman. I felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. I tried to be strong just for the kids but I could not control the pain that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because I was really in love with my husband. Every day and night I think of him and always wish he would come back to me, I was really upset and I needed help, so I searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Dr Azeez can help get ex back fast. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and I did it then he did a (Love spell) for me. 18 hours later, my husband really called me and told me that he miss me and the kids so much, So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day, with lots of love and joy, and he apologized for his mistake, and for the pains he caused me and the kids. Then from that day, our Marriage was now stronger than how it was before, all thanks to Dr Azeez he is so powerful and I decided to share my story on the internet that Dr Azeez real and powerful spell caster who I will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, if you are here and you need your Ex back or your husband moved to another woman, do not cry anymore, contact this powerful spell caster now.
Here’s his contact: Email him at:
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Burma Shave 9:24 AM  


MOVEAHEAD and ASK your miss
before you ALL COME to TAKEITSLOW.


thefogman 9:36 AM  

There was a bit of a screw up in my paper's edition of this puzzle. The clue for 39A had the number 21 in "21 Savage" in bold, and to the side, which made it look like a misplaced and/or additional clue for 21A. I did not know who 21 Savage was, but when I got to 39A it all made sense.
Aside from the typographical error, this one was smooth sailing all the way. Nothing very stimulating in the theme. Overall, it was a bit too light in my opinion. Even for a Tuesday. CC can do better than this.

rondo 10:34 AM  

When not in a tournament I always solve INPEN (INink?) and usually kinda TAKEITSLOW, or at least slower than in competition (last year was my “ROOKIEYEAR”, trophy to prove it). No w/os and it seemed Monday easy, but no complaints since Tuedays are often, well, you know.

The missus lived in a city on the VOLGA. Gimme there.

OLAV not shortened to Ole, yet no Sven.

That SARAH is no yeah baby, but Ms. Silverman is.

CC’s puzzles always seem accessible and mostly gunk-free. TTYL.

spacecraft 11:19 AM  

Pretty much what @Joseph Michael said. An acronym-fest around a not-that-spectacular theme. The puzzle is also rather heavily PPP-laden. Ms. B. is WAY better than this, and I await her return to form.

Plusses are the ten-stacks, even if exo-theme. Very nice is IHADABLAST, which I might say while solving that particular answer, but that is ALL. I'll pick yet another SARAH for DOD: Ms. McLaghlan. Bogey.

Diana, LIW 12:06 PM  

OK - I have a major question. Who on God's little green earth would WANT their ex back? If you fid him you can keep him.

No - I like you. Don't keep him.

OTOH - CC is always a keeper. This was so easy, tho, I hardly remember solving it. Maybe I'm just getting "better."

Lady Di

Tom M. 1:22 PM  

Unremarkably smooth (except for that).

rondo 2:35 PM  

BTW - got my postcard from OFL. Kinda cool.

rainforest 3:01 PM  

Very easy puzzle with a smart theme, good downs and a nice "smooth" factor.

I can't say I HAD A BLAST, but I liked it.

Hey @rondo, I've always wondered are Sven and Ole those guys who wanted to "pump you up" on SNL? Oops, it just came to me - they were Hans and Franz. So, who were/are Sven and Ole?

rondo 3:45 PM  

@rainy - When you live in MN, especially in my area, there are/were a ton of Scandahoovian jokes Sven and Ole and Ole's wife Lena are the btt of them.
From wiki:
Ole and Lena (also Sven and Ole) are central characters in jokes by Scandinavian Americans, particularly in the Upper Midwest region of the U.S., particularly in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota where Scandinavian immigrant traditions are common.

Ole and Lena jokes can be long and drawn-out stories, or as short as two or three sentences. Lena is typically portrayed as the smarter of the two, often explaining where Ole went wrong in his misadventures. Another common character is Sven, who usually shows up in jokes along with Ole, making Sven and Ole jokes, though all three may appear together. Sven isn't as bright as Ole and Lena, but he means well. Ole and Lena are typically Norwegian, and Sven and his wife are Swedish.
The popularity of the jokes was greatly enhanced by the numerous Ole and Lena joke books authored by Red Stangland.
Ole, Lena, Sven and others still speak with the marring accent and fractured English of the immigrant who just arrived. Humor of this sort is intended to maintain a sense of perspective:

Ole and Sven are at a funeral. Suddenly it occurs to Ole that he doesn't remember the name of the dearly departed. Ole turns to Sven and asks: "Sven, could you remind me again who died?" Sven thinks for a moment and says, "I'm not sure," Sven points at the casket, "...but I think it was de guy in de box."

Ole goes out one day to use the outhouse, and he finds Sven there. Sven has his wallet out, and he's throwing money down into the hole of the outhouse. Ole asks, "Uff da! Sven, watcha doin' there, fella? You're throwing the five dollar bill and the ten dollar bill down into the hole of the outhouse! Whatcha doin' that for?" Sven answers, "Well, when I pulled up my trousers I dropped a nickel down there—and I'm not going down into that mess for just a nickel!"

There are hundreds, maybe thousands more.

rondo 3:58 PM  

Sven came home from work early one day and
Lena asks, "Sven, you're home from work early.
What happened?"

Sven replies, "Vell, I got my ting caught in da pickle slicer."

"Oh no!", says Lena, "Let me see your ting".

So Sven shows her his ting and everyting is fine.

"Sven, your ting is just fine,
what happened to da pickle slicer?"

Says Sven, "Oh dey fired her too."

strayling 7:42 PM  

STEAL A KISS gave me a chuckle. Memories of visiting her parents and stealing a quick kiss while they were in the kitchen.

Tom M. 7:49 PM  

Yeah, I'm from Meen-ess-so-tah, too, and dohs jokes iss pree-tie fun-ee.

strayling 8:00 PM  

That got me checking etymologies. Steal as in stealth is the way I've always understood the phrase, as in two people having surreptitious snog. Turns out that's not common usage, which is a bit of a shame.

spacecraft 8:27 PM  

From "Three Jolly Coachmen" (Kingston Trio hit):

Here's to the maid who steals a kiss
And runs to tell her mother.
She's a foolish, foolish thing, she's a foolish, foolish thing,
She's a foolish, foolish thing:
For she'll not get another!

Here's to the maid who steals a kiss
And stays to steal another!
She's a boon to all mankind, she's a boon to all mankind,
She's a boon to all mankind:
For she'll soon be a mother!

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