Metallica hit with lyric sleep with one eye open / TUE 3-13-18 / Product of Yale Medeco / chips trendy snack food / First name of two of three apple co-founders

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Constructor: Carl Worth

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: KEY WEST (41A: Florida island ... or a hint to 17-, 24-, 52- and 65-Across) — first answers of themers (i.e. the word on the "west" of the answer) is a type of keyboard "key":

Theme answers:
  • SHIFT GEARS (17A: Change one's approach)
  • ENTER SANDMAN (24A: Metallica hit with the lyric "Sleep with one eye open")
  • CONTROL FREAK (52A: Micromanager)
  • ESCAPE ROOM (65A: Series of puzzle for group solving)
Word of the Day: TARO (38D: ___ chips (trendy snack food))
  1. a tropical Asian plant of the arum family that has edible starchy corms and edible fleshy leaves, especially a variety with a large central corm grown as a staple in the Pacific. (wikipedia)
• • •

First two words in were AJAR and APSE, and that pretty much set the tone for the whole thing. It was a very, very generic puzzle, with dull and familiar short fill everywhere. To its credit, the fill never gets painful or awkward or forced—it's quite solid. But solidly ecru. Solidly ENNUI. Part of the problem is the grid construction. It's a very choppy grid, with a preponderance of short answers. Outside of the themers, there are only four 7s and two 6s in the whole thing. Eeeeeverything else is 3, 4, and 5. I can rattle examples off, but why? Just look at your grid and you can see for yourself. The theme is pretty lifeless too—totally acceptable wordplay on the revealer, KEY WEST, but in the end, it's just a "first words do this" puzzle. Shift, enter, control, escape, zzzz. I will say that three of the four themers are very nice answers on their own (everything but SHIFT GEARS, which is, like the rest of the puzzle ... there). "ENTER SANDMAN" will get a lot of love from Metallica and Mariano Rivera fans (probably a lot more of the latter in this group, i.e. among you all). Rivera was the legendary Yankees closer, and when he'd come out to the mound, well...

Early-morning solving took its toll on me again, as what was clearly a very easy puzzle somehow took me a totally average amount of time to solve. I could feel as I was solving it that it was easier than normal, but SNEER went in for SNORT (22D: Derisive sound), and the clue on SITE just meant nothing to me (42D: Something pinned on a map) (*any* place is a potential SITE of ... something), and after having already gotten TASE, STUN would not come at all (I think it's misclued—tasing is a form of zapping, but stunning is not a form of tasing—it's vice versa, so "in a way" just doesn't work there). And the worst was TARO chips. "Trendy"? I know what TARO is, of course, but I had TA-O and could see only TACO, which was clearly wrong. Balked at JAKARTA (47D: Capital of the world's largest island country), had only the "A" at back end of ZAPPA and that clue meant zero to me (59A: Frank who performed "Watermelon in the Easter Hay"). Even PORT wouldn't come easily. So the entire east and southeast areas were clunky as hell for me—for no good reason. Morning brain. That is all. I hope that is all. OK... now, that is all. Bye.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:26 AM  

I liked this Tuesday just fine and liked the reveal. Then I saw the sneaky symmetrical ALT TAB and loved it. Then Then, I saw CAPS at 19A and looked down to its partner at 63A – LOCK. CAPS LOCK. Man oh man oh man do I like sneaky sneak sneak. Well played, Carl.

On the alert now, I looked for “space” somewhere. Nope. But TESLAS reminded me that Elon is sending a car into space, so there’s that. (I was reminded of a meme I saw recently: “I hope Musk is never involved in a scandal ‘cause Elongate would be drawn out.” Wish I’d thought of that.)

Noticed JOHN/AJAR. I just can’t. Ever. Too modest.

Also noticed ADAM and his symmetrical ABEL. And SON’s symmetrical partner is AIM. Guess Cain had to have a pretty good aim, right?

And then POET Keats’ symmetrical partner JOHN… ok. I’ll stop.

Lovely puzzle, Carl. I’ll remember this one for a long time.

Lewis 6:47 AM  

Is the "Sleep with one eye open" clue a continuation of yesterday's theme?

All my observations have been covered by @Loren, save for three:
* Wanted KALE before TARO for the alt chips.
* Last year was the first year since 1950 that ORONO has not appeared in a NYT puzzle, and the hiatus has ended.
* My Mac laptop has an "fn" key which I thought initially would be impossible to find a theme answer for, but there is an 8-letter answer legitimate answer after all.

Congratulations on your debut, Carl -- lots of very nice touches (not pokes) in this puzzle that auger well for your future offerings!

BarbieBarbie 6:58 AM  

What they said. Great puzzle, even though it had ARIA. The Easter eggs were better than the themers, and the themers produced a nice Aha, and I can’t ask for more.
Liked having two zaps and then a ZAPPA. Which, btw, I filled in with no crosses, even though I never heard of that song. Who else could it be? Very jazzy way to start the day. Zap, zap, Zappa. I will now tapdance my way to work.

Unknown 7:04 AM  

My biggest problem with the theme is that all the keys, except ENTER can be found on the West-most column of the keyboard. The only keys there not themed were Caps Lock (almost impossible to incorporate into a legitimate answer) and TAB. TAB, of course, is in the puzzle, but as a non-themed answer. What’s up with that?!?

crackblind 7:09 AM  

I wonder if the clever thing about the theme having the first word in each answer relate to the revealer mean that they are on the (relative) WEST side of the grid was intentional.

Adam 7:20 AM  

Who likes the Yankees?

But seriously, very fast with no stumbling blocks. Agreed that taro chips was a stretch. My first thought was that can’t be Taro, can it? Yes. Yes it can.

Birchbark 7:25 AM  

Other interesting symmetry: ADAM/ABEL, APSE/AMEN.

As for the turtle, wanted a four-letter way to say let it be, but POKE it is.

kodak jenkins 7:27 AM  

In my world this puzzle was a Monday and yesterday's was a Tuesday (almost DNF!).

Good puzzle with a clean and clever theme, various symmetries noted by other commentators and mostly excellent fill.

I can't remember seeing AZALEAS, DONS, JURE, COOT. And even though I didn't know NECCO or ORONO the crosses helped bridge the gap.

Not really a complaint about this puzzle specifically but in general I can't stand clues like 5 down "Part of G.P.A.: Abbr." It would be much much nicer if the answer were "average" instead of "avg"

Bagelboy 7:28 AM  

I solved as a themeless and got a record Tuesday. They should have switched yesterday and today. This one was way easier.

kitshef 7:32 AM  

Well, it turns out putting MAINE in the puzzle does not make ORONO any better.

I dig the semi-themers at 19- 40- 43- and 63- Across?

Pretty impressive fill considering the sheer volume of themers and semi-themers.

Just as rhymes are tricky – you may say ‘daughter’ to rhyme with ‘fodder’ or ‘towel’ to rhyme with ‘mail’, but not everyone does - so is the notion of ‘country’. I wish the clue for JAKARTA had been avoided.

Greenland is a part of Denmark, but the CIA World Factbook calls it a ‘country’ (as does Wikipedia, FWIW). That would make NUUK the answer to 47D. And if you went to school in the sixties, you learned that Australia is an ‘island continent’, which would make the answer CANBERRA. Better to find a different clue.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

Taro chips?
Trendy where? When?
Not so much.
Spent way too much time trying to remember what "de juce" meant...

Anonymous 7:38 AM  

It doesn’t look like Terra has changed its packaging much since hitting the snack aisle, what?, 25 years ago? Yeah, that’s a kinda long trend.

GHarris 7:49 AM  

Dnf because I too had taro chips and am so ashamed. If anyone should have known the expression de jure it is I.

QuasiMojo 7:50 AM  

The only thing this puzzle "augurs" (@Lewis) is more puzzles that delight the constructor and editor but not the person doing them. Except the jolly commentariat here apparently.

I was done in less time than it takes to boot up my computer with nary a thrill or an AHA moment. I never noticed the theme until I got here and even then I wondered why? Why subject us to countless dull words and crosswordese (with only a couple of exceptions, such as JAKARTA) to create a contrived visual and verbal pun about keyboards? Talk about wonky, geeky, nerdy and TINE-y.

I did stumble on the song title having never listened to Metallica. I had ENTERS A WOMAN which sounds more like a rock tune than something about a SANDMAN (considering today's theme, one wouldn't be necessary.)

Hungry Mother 7:52 AM  

Didn’t get the theme until done, but no problem except getting OSTER right. Mini slowed me down with 1 across. I had a DOH moment.

chefbea 7:59 AM  

When AJAR appeared first....I wondered if we would have more kiddie jokes!!!

Fun easy puzzle

mooretep 8:10 AM  

Frank Zappa is notorious for his provocative and sardonic lyrics.
His virtuosic guitar abilities are often overlooked.

Watermelon in Easter Hay:

Decide what emotions this song contains.
I love it, it makes me introspective and for some reason, melancholic.

Oh yeah, the puzzle. Tuesday. Good enough for a divertissement on a snow day.

Two Ponies 8:13 AM  

Any experience I have had with turtles taught me that the last thing you do is poke it. Why are you poking a turtle anyway?

Why just a cruise ship stopping at a port? Don't all ships use ports?

If Oster makes other things besides blenders I've not noticed.

Site being pinned on a map is a ridiculous answer.

Now, please educate me about escape room because it meant nothing.

Enter Sandman is a pretty rocking song.

This was too easy to even be a Monday.

Unknown 8:13 AM  

No complaints about COLIC ORONO NECCO occupying the SW corner on a Tuesday?? Ridiculous.

mmorgan 8:27 AM  

I felt like I was solving a smooth and fairly easy themeless and I tried really hard not to notice the theme because I figured it would make it even easier. (It did, but that was okay.). I did like ALT, TAB, CAP, and LOCK just sitting there, quietly smiling.

Aketi 8:28 AM  

I didn’t get the gold star because I had TAcO chips and didn’t check that it led to JUcE.

@Lewis, haha are you trying to retraumatize Nancy with the kale reference?

TARO chips are bad enough. I don’t understand why foodies co-opt starchy foods from developing areas that have minimal nutrional value like taro and cassava. They are subsistence crops and since there is usually a dearth of other nutrient rich foods in the areas where they are grown, often child malnutrition rates are high. I can understand quinoa because it’s protein rich, but it makes me wonder if the locals end up selling it rather than eating it.

When I googled nutrient content of taro I got the bogus websites that claims it is a super food that cures all ills including cancer. So I switched tactics and tried to look up the data of the Food and Agricultiral Organization website. The website has been hacked and the link for nutrient composition of foods in Oceana sends you to a site that instructs you on how to grow pot.

I finally found a website call “fat secret” actually confirmed my suspicion that TARO chips have almost no protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, or calcium. Tortilla chips have more iron and calcium than kale and taro, but at about 5% of the daily values you’d have to eat bagfuls to stave off anemia and bone loss. Kale chips surprisingly actually do retain about 10% of the daily values of vitamins A and C, but potato chips have almost as much vitamin C as kale chips.

I only tolerate kale chips when someone offers them to me because the kale becomes tasteless and anything with enough salt and crunch can satisfy the urge to snack. They aren’t tasty enough that I’d want to buy them.

kitshef 8:54 AM  

Did not see the clue for 14A while solving so was puzzled by some of the comments. Horrible clue. I really can't think of any animal where giving it a POKE would be a good thing to do.

GILL I. 8:54 AM  

Everything clever about this puzzle has been mentioned. I might have liked a COMMAND POST and I might have preferred ENTER be on the WEST side, but for a Tuesday, I find that nit doesn't need to be picked.
@Aketi...I believe it was I who started the anti kale war. Some very nice person on this blog posted a recipe for a kale salad hoping, (I'm assuming) that I would change my mind. Nope...@Nancy agreed in a more eloquent way. I like TARO. I don't think I've had the chip variety. It is all part of the cassava, yuca family. Maybe it's the same thing but given a different name. Just boil it like a potato and then drizzle olive oil, garlic and lime on top...
I think most of us already know that JOHN Crapper didn't really invent the Loo but I wanted to know why we call the crapper John a loo. Turns out the word derives from the French "garden a l'eau" (watch out for the water). The French, because they have lots of class, would, during medieval times, toss the pot full of nightly doings out the window on to the street. The Brits, who also have lots of class, Anglicized the word to gardy loo. (how's that for a translation!). And, because gardy loo is too long a word, they shortened it to just plain ole loo.
Good job Carl Worth. Come back every Tuesday, please.....

Nate 8:57 AM  

As a young-ish Mainer (by puzzling standards, at least), this puzzle was an enjoyable breeze. After yesterday's crusty entry, this was a welcome relief.

It was nice to see some clues that were relevant to the last 25 years or so. Computer-theme, Metallica, Apple, KEIRA Knightley, TARO, TESLA, maybe even SEPIA (definitely relevant to the Instagram generation)... all clues that are fresher than anything in yesterday's puzzle. You'll recall that the most recent pop culture reference in yesterday's puzzle was dated to the 1970's (Star Wars).

Also some genuinely fun words like FURLS and SNORT.

Thanks, NYT! Seriously.

Mohair Sam 8:59 AM  

Just a fine Tuesday offering - nice debut Mr. Worth.

AZALEAS have me thinking about the Masters Tourney in a couple of weeks, and (sadly) thinking about golf while I look out at the snow. ESCAPEROOM new to me as clued. What @Kitshef said about Island nations. @Rex - 5 letter performer of a song with a ridiculous title will always be ZAPPA. Elon Musk said yesterday that he's off to Mars next year (with a sly grin) - neat stuff.

@Aketi - Since you're into it, how 'bout searching down Cheetos nutritional value? And while you're at that would you pass along the link to that marijuana growing SITE? Thanks. btw - if your friends are offering you kale chips you may want to find new friends.

Malsdemare 8:59 AM  

I'm up early; I'm finally going to have my hearing checked and (probably) spend a small fortune on hearing aids. I'm looking forward to hearing again, but — rant on — thousands of dollars for electronics that cost a fraction of that to make doesn't SEND me. Okay, done griping.

Early week puzzles are rarely exciting and this one is a case in point. It’s fine, I finished it, now what. I wanted that WEST to somehow be essential to the theme so stared at the puzzle for a while to see if it was a little denser than it is. But KEYS was fine and there was an ESCAPEROOM there to bring back a memory of our whole family — sans paterfamilias — having a ball over Christmas trying to save the world (which we did, with seconds, just seconds, to spare).

Too early to be clever. I don't know how @lms does it. I can barely spell.

Z 9:00 AM  

I was about to give this the dreaded Best. Tuesday. Ever. comment, but @LMS’s observations showed there was more there there than I thought.

As I mostly flew through this (TAcO chips can be tasty but haven’t been “trending” since at least high school) my one wandering thought was, “Just how much eel did LEE eat?” Pretty much what Rex said on the fill, too much of it because of the grid and while none of it would appear in a Bowie/Iman wedding photo “ecru” is too too apt.

Have I told my Metallica story? Probably so the short version: One of them is from near Kalamazoo where I started teaching. Had a kid miss a couple weeks of school because said band member took him to work on the crew for a bunch of midwest shows. Kid’s job? Giving backstage passes to attractive women in the audience.

jackj 9:00 AM  

54D, "Wafer brand", seeking NECCO as the answer might have to change its clue to something like "Fondly remembered wafer brand".

The company, New England Confectionary Company (NECCO), stated in today's Boston Globe that if a buyer for the operation isn't found soon they will cease to exist and will lay off all 395 of their employees.

It's unthinkable that giggling pre-teen school girls won't have the delicious memory of receiving NECCO Valentine hearts with the message of "Kiss me", "Sugar pie". (Or the panicky feeling by a sweaty young lad at the next desk who receives the same message).

RooMonster 9:03 AM  

Hey All !
No CTRL? Har. Managed to sneak in the other outside KEYs. Well, Backspace...

I thought theme was "KEYs on the WEST side of keyboard", and was looking forward to a Rex explosion about the ENTER KEY being on the right. But it's the Words that are on the WEST. Ah.

Closed off NE and SW corners. Nice to see our old friend ENNUI. No RRN, but some Random Abbrs., ATTN, AVG, SETI. I find COOT to be a fun word. The "get off my lawn" group. :-)

Don't TASE me, bro!

Sir Hillary 9:15 AM  

OK, I was ready to come here and extol the quality of this theme -- tight set of answers, clean revealer, clever idea that feels fresh. But the Easter eggs of ALT, TAB and CAPS LOCK (which I did not notice until @LMS pointed them out) put this one among the best Tuesdays I have ever done. Brilliant!

Fair criticisms by @Rex at the relatively vanilla fill and lack of lengthy words beyond the themers, but I will take a fresh theme well-executed every time over the typical Tuesday dreariness.

Speaking of vanilla...Nilla for NECCO.

By the way @LMS, "space" is in the clue for SETI. :-)

Agree that TARO chips were trendy circa 1995, if ever. They sure are good with certain foods, though, seafood tartares in particular. And no one eats chips for nutritional content, so who cares.

Nice have ZAPPA in a puzzle with two "zap" clues.

ENTERSANDMAN has one of the best intros in hard rock history.

This puzzle deserves tons of love!

puzzlehoarder 9:20 AM  

After going through this at a Monday rate I got more puzzlingly out of changing LUCE to JURE. Since speed had led to overlooking LAKARTA , I thought I'd better check the whole puzzle and found INKA.

After all that I decided I ought to look these NECCO Wafers up for once. They look like something the Russians would poison you with.

@Quasimojo, I always assumed the songs title was "The SANDMAN" or just "SANDMAN", but "ENTERS A WOMAN?" This puzzle must have really bored you to distraction.

@Two Ponies, per yesterday, same here with that HADJI/ Johnny Quest association. I think you're the first person I've seen mention it.

QuasiMojo 9:32 AM  

@puzzlehoarder, I assure you I was only thinking of a stage direction, such as "Enter Laughing..." etc. I was quite embarrassed by my double entendre after posting it. I too was a big Johnny Quest fan, btw, when I was a kid.

Aketi 9:34 AM  
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Azzurro 9:37 AM  

You had me at ALT/TAB. Very good Tuesday puzzle.

Aketi 9:45 AM  
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Aketi 9:46 AM  

@ GILL I, I do confess to liking some dishes with yucca/cassava. My rule is to eat what tastes good.

@ Malsdemere, I can empathize since my husband’s hearing aids cost us more than my knee surgery.

@ Mohair Sam, I did include the url, but just can’t get the html links to work any more. So if you want to figure out how to grow pot in the
Soloman Islands you’ll have to copy and paste the link above.

You had to ask about Cheetos! Haha. I couldn’t look that up without also looking up the rice cakes that were so popular when my son was little. At least Cheetos contain 2% of the daily value of iron. Zilch for rice cakes. They have no fat, almost no protein, no vitamin A, no vitamin C, no calcium, no iron, and a little bit of carbs. They don’t even contain fiber. They are just indigestible stomach filler. You might as well feed your kid styrofoam pellets. Kids need nutrient dense foods. Between rice cakes and Cheetos, I’d pick the Cheetos.

I didn’t say it was a friend who offered me kale chips. I’ll eat most anything but peas when offered food in social situations

Blue Stater 9:53 AM  

Apologlies for the OT: Today's Mini (which has started to deteriorate along the lines of the main event, alas) has the following clue-answer pair: "___ down (wear)"/TWO. Huh? TIA for all aid.

GILL I. 9:57 AM  

@Aketi..Just to be a pedantic arse, Yucca (two c's) is an ornamental plant. Yuca (one c) is the edible root. Now, just to add to the confusion, (since they are all root vegetables), in Cuba, they call TARO, malanga which is Kale!!!
Some people are bothered by fewer and less at the supermarket. I can't tell you how many times I've told my grocer to get rid of the extra "C."
Skip to my loo.

Mary McCarty 9:58 AM  

@Rex comment that he only had the final A (in ZAPPA) makes me wonder how he works a puzzle. By the time I got there, HAZE and JAKARTA were firmly in place, and PORT, POET, AMEN dropped right in so nicely no clue was needed. So, x word fans, what’s your So.vine method?
Will, wake up and see the repeats! First answer is AJAR!?! which, as we saw yesterday, is when ADORE is not ADOOR.

smalltowndoc 10:06 AM  

Very clever puzzle. Count me among those who failed to notice the Easter Eggs until I came to this forum. Add points for including a Metallica song (one of their best) as a theme answer.

JC66 10:15 AM  


I bet Matt Gaffney could come up with one.

Lewis 10:25 AM  

@JC66 -- Oh, there is one, the eight-letter one I alluded to... it has to do with music.
@Blue Stater -- "TWO down (wear)" is the clue hidden in the puzzle. It is the clue for 2D. That is, the answer to 2D is WEAR.

Nancy 10:31 AM  

DOOK of the day -- my day, at least:

Just as "no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public", it's long been my contention that no one ever failed to solve a crossword by underestimating the obviousness of pop song titles. I seldom ever know any of the songs -- especially post-1975-- but still I solve 95% of the time by picking the most obvious, usually mindless, pronoun, verb or adjective I can think of. So that when the title ENTERS AND MAN filled in, I screamed at the puzzle: What kind of a title is that???? How could it possibly have been a hit? So, as a lyricist, I tried to figure out what might have come next...

Enters and man being men, I fell in love right then..."
Enters and man-oh-man, she was so slim and tan...
Enters and man alive, not even twenty-five...

Then I came here and saw ENTER SANDMAN. As Gilda Radner would have said: Never mind.

JC66 10:35 AM  
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Sara Frederic 10:37 AM  
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JC66 10:49 AM  


I misremembered how the theme worked, so gafFNey initially (pun intended) seemed appropriate to me.

jberg 10:50 AM  

Hey, lay off with the mini-puzz spoilers! Not all of us do them first.

I liked this a lot better after reading @Loren, as I hadn't noticed any of those little bonuses. I did think the LOCK was nice in a KEY puzzle, but that was about all. And the clue for it was eerie, because I'd thought at first that the theme answers were going to have key-making companies hidden in them.

Nothing much else to say about the puzzle -- but @Aketi, from what I hear not only do they sell quinoa rather than consume it (like coffee in Central America), but other crops are being displaced by quinoa for export. See this NYT article, but others dispute this view, as in this article in Slate.

Blue Stater 10:50 AM  

@Lewis. Many thanks. I was afraid the answer was going to be some pointless gimmick like that. Sigh.

Wm. C. 10:56 AM  

How well do I remember the NECCO building, located diagonally across Mass Ave from one of the main entrances to the MIT building complex. When the wind was from the Northwest, much of the MIT complex was suffused with the faint smell of sweet candy.

NECCO relocated to a more industrialized location in a nearby town around 15 OR SO years ago (see what I did there?), but the new building's owner had the water tower on its roof painted in circular stripes in the same sequence as those of the wafers in a NECCO roll.

I never heard of ENTERSANDMAN nor ESCAPEROOM, hadda get the almost entirely from the crosses, so despite some pretty easy fill, this played harder for than the usual Tuesday ... Which is a good thing, Tuesday's are usually Tu-Esay (see again?) for me. ;-)

Joseph Michael 10:57 AM  

When is a door not a door?

Congrats on the debut, Carl. Started out really easy and then got a little harder as I headed south, with TARO chips my downfall.

Liked the theme, however simple, and especially CONTROL FREAK. Didn't like the turtle abuse, but that was apparently an editorial change, according to comments on

I once met Jack Larson who played Jimmy OLSEN on the Superman TV series. He lived in a beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright house full of vintage Disney paraphernalia. It was a far cry from the Daily Planet.

Tony Joe White 11:05 AM  

How's about some poke salad, Annie?

Hartley70 11:15 AM  

A pox on Cheetos Puffs. They render me powerless. At least I now know that if one eats enough of them it is physically possible to attain 100% of the iron RDA. Thanks, @Aketi. That's a relief.

I solved in the wee hours and didn't appreciate the theme until I checked in here. I have to stop doing that. At night I thought the puzzle was distressingly easy for a Tuesday except for JAKARTA, but now that I see the KEY words in the light of day, I'm suitably impressed. I'm sorry I missed that aha moment.

@Two Ponies, ESCAPEROOMs have been very hot entertainment recently. You and your friends are locked in a room and within the given time parameters must discover and decipher a series of clues that will lead to the door key. Great fun if you don't get sweaty at the thought of multiple people in an enclosed space, think elevator.

NECCO wafers lasted a really long time during the Saturday kids' movie matinee and that was an important factor in one's refreshment counter selection. You had to endure a number of flavors to get to the few chocolate ones. They were actually terrible hard little discs in retrospect, but our candy taste was very unsophisticated in the 1950s. That's also the only explanation for the existence of Jujubes. I do, however, regret any loss of jobs in New England, so I hope the valentine hearts can be saved. They're fun and who eats them anyway?

thfenn 11:26 AM  

Having lived in Orono, vacationed in Key West, travelled to Jakarta, nurtured azaleas and peach trees, poked turtles, listened to Zappa, swooned over Keira Knightley, put a Yale lock on some bridge railing, bought many rods and reels, and recently stalked some coot (the avian variety, not a codger), this puzzle had a lot to like. Didn't quite grok the theme until getting here, but nevermind. I associate making pitstops with needing a john as much as needing fuel, but nevermind that either. Fun puzzle.

TJS 11:28 AM  

Frank Zappa...The most unlikely looking anti-drug use artist in the history of music.

Two Ponies 11:28 AM  

Thanks @ Hartley70, That sounds awful.

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:50 AM  

The best thing about this puzzle is the potential the constructor displays in his debut. The puzzle tried to achieve too much, but despite all the constraints it imposed on itself, the final product was smooth. That's an amazing feat.

I despise puzzles that are filled with short answers. 3- & 4-letter words formed 58.7% of this one. Add in the 5-letter words, and you get a whooping 86.3%! That should be a record, I don't recall anything like this (but then again, I've been solving crossword puzzles regularly for 15 months now, so take that cum grano salis)

When you have this many short answers, it's impossible to have a fresh fill. The theme idea is also mediocre at best. But the constructor did two things that work to his advantage: A high Scrabble score, and good theme entries. ENTERSANDMAN captured my attention from the get-go, and CONTROLFREAK and ESCAPEROOM are modern-ish concepts.

Other bonuses were the appearance of the same clues on opposite sides, cameos by ALT and TAB, and the clues were above average for a Tuesday. If only the fill had some more bonuses, but this will still do. This is a rare puzzle in that the sum is more than its parts. Nothing is too exciting about it, but overall it was actually pleasurable to solve.

GRADE: B, 3.35 stars.

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:52 AM  

I forgot to add that the SW corner was the worst cluster in the whole puzzle imho.

Unknown 11:54 AM  

Thank you, @Hartley70, for the explanation of ESCAPEROOM. I was able to get there with the crosses but was still scratching my head over the clue.

Nancy 12:11 PM  

I also had TAcO/ DE JUcE like @G Harris and Aketi, among others. And while I'm not apologizing for a second over TAcO, I find myself, like @GHarris, embarrassed beyond description over DE JUcE.

Re: ESCAPE ROOM. Thanks for the explanation, @Hartley (11:15). Would I ever want to do such a thing? It's a real contest between my love of mystery puzzles and my hatred of crowds and confined spaces. I think the latter would win out. Unless the ROOM was very, very large, and the crowd was very, very small.

Interesting things you learn on this blog. It's a tie today between:
@GILL's 8:54 detailed (too detailed??) explanation of the derivation of the word "loo". (Boy am I ever glad I didn't live in the Middle Ages!)...and
@Aketi's 9:46 shocking revelation that her husband's hearing aids cost more than her own knee surgery. You cannot be serious, @Aketi!!

@Malsdemare -- Good luck today! I hope they work wonderfully well and don't cost too much!

Teedmn 1:10 PM  

Ah, @Nancy, thanks for the laugh today. "Enters and man" should be a classic!

I own "the Black Album" by Metallica so 24A was a gimme, but if I'm going to listen to rock songs about how scary sleeping can be for a kid, I will always pick Jethro Tull's No Lullaby over Enter Sandman. Tull lyrics are much more interesting.

Extremely easy for a Tuesday, with only KieRA before KEIRA as a write-over. I have often chosen TARO chips as a snack, so no TAcOs for me today. Congrats, Carl Worth, on your crossword debut.

And @LMS, thanks for pointing out CAPS LOCK - I had seen ALT and TAB but not those two. Nice bonuses.

Stanley Hudson 1:11 PM  

As is often the case, in terms of entertainment and educational value today's comments make it worth checking in on this blog.

Good debut puzzle even if it has a clunker or two; looking forward to more from Carl Worth.

@mooretep, thanks for the link to the Zappa instrumental. Gorgeous stuff.

foxaroni 1:11 PM  

@Tony Joe White--you rock! BTW, you disappeared after that hit. What happened? Alligators got you, grinning?

I agree with the comment that the puzzle was greater than the sum of its parts. Nice job, Carl Worth.

@Aketi--Costco's hearing tests by licensed technicians is free, and the hearing aids can be about $2K for a pair. Pretty sure a knee operation costs a lot more than that (unless your husband has special hearing needs). And no, I don'the work for Costco.

Lewis 1:13 PM  

@JC66 -- I didn't even catch the FN in Gaffney! Good one! The word I had in mind is FNATURAL, which really wouldn't work in this theme because in all the theme answers, the "key" is a separate word.

Kimberly 1:35 PM  
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Kimberly 1:37 PM  

I think if Rex had noticed those little answers in either side of the revealer (ALT TAB) and the ones tucked into the NE and SW (CAPS LOCK) he might have given the puzzle more credit. Perhaps if he went into these early week puzzles with more of an open mind he would be a little less blind to some of the little sparkles they contain.

Life is full of surprises and unexpected joys. Never be too jaded to see them.

tea73 2:12 PM  

Would have played easier if I hadn't taken so long to correct the SETI/SITE cross. I had SETA/SATE which made no sense.

Any puzzle with "ENTER SANDMAN" is okay by me. We got to learning to love Metallica, by starting with the Finnish band Apocalyptica which covered their songs on cellos. They write a pretty decent sardonic lyric themselves.
"Hush little baby don't say a word
And never mind that noise you heard
It's just the beast under your bed
In your closet in your head"

Sweet dreams!

pabloinnh 2:19 PM  

@Nancy-Believe it or not, I had a similar experience with ENTERSANDMAN, except I was reading it as "Enters Andman, and trying to think who Andman might be. Decided he was the superhero who kept adding things. Finally, the same "never mind" moment.

@Gill-I've heard the same explanation for "gardy loo" but have always taken it as a warning like "agua va" which they used to yell in Spain before emptying the chamber pot out of the second story window. I was assured when I lived in Spain that no one ever did this anymore, but was in a couple of extremely rural towns where looking up every once in a while still seemed like a good idea.

sanfranman59 2:38 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. Your results may vary.

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

Mon 4:32 4:09 1.09 74.8% Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:02 5:12 0.97 42.2% Medium

Though I'm not surprised that they exist, I don't know of TARO chips. So I chose a very liberal definition of "trendy" (i.e. became a thing during my lifetime) and TAcO went in for 38D. Unfortunately, I didn't notice that this left 'de JUcE' at 47A (doh!). Nilla went in before NECCO at 54D. I didn't understand either the clue or the answer for 65A (ESCAPE ROOM). Other than that, this was a straight-forward Tuesday solve. Any puzzle with ZAPPA in it, gets bonus points. Points also for ENNUI, AZALEAS and JAKARTA. I like Scrabblyness.

sanfranman59 3:25 PM  

Having read through the comments and learned of the Easter eggs, my appreciation of this puzzle goes up a couple of notches. Here's hoping for future early-week adventures from Mr. Worth.

Catalyst 3:36 PM  

Mariano Rivera? Wasn't that the guy who gave up the winning run to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 7th game of the World Series back in 2001? :^D

Carola 4:53 PM  

POKE a turtle that's already obviously frightened? How about "Pig in a ___"? - it's Tuesday, after all. Thanks to those who've pointed out the many grid felicities. I couldn't stop thinking about the turtle.

GILL I. 5:45 PM  

@pabloinnh...We arrived in Madrid in 1964. The first thing my mom did when we arrived was buy a Seat 600 and take my sister and me to see every part of Spain. Our first sojourn was in a small town outside of Burgos. Nothing had changed since Ferdinand and Isabela took up residence. My younger sister, fresh off the plane from sunny Southern California and the Beach Boys hated every single minute of our trek through medieval Spain.
Just about every. "old" town we visited was empty of any youth and plumbing. Franco pretty much made it impossible for any village outside of Madrid to thrive. The young migrated to Madrid and left their grandparents to cope. By cope, I mean toss the gardy loo out in the streets. They never gave you a heads up. I thought it was quite colorful. My sister cried for days and wouldn't even eat the local Jamon Serrano.
She eventually grew to love this country - married a Spaniard and taught at the American School of Madrid. She still lives there.....There might be a moral to this story.....!

puzzlehoarder 5:51 PM  

@Malsdemare, check out your local Costco's hearing center. I recently got my own hearing aids through them for $2,700.

Fataramasthomas 6:35 PM  
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East Biggs 6:38 PM  

I fear that Rex is so fixated on his solving time that he misses the delicious Easter eggs that one finds in puzzles like this one.

I bet he never stops to smell the roses either.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Space needle 7:10 PM  
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Barry Frain 7:51 PM  

"Anyone outside of Maine ever here of Orono?"

Maybe if you spelled properly someone might take you seriously, although your appalling geographical ignorance suggests otherwise.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

JC66 8:05 PM  
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JC66 8:06 PM  

@Barry F

Good catch. It took me 3 re-readings before I saw the typo.

That doesn't make @SN's point invalid. I only know ORONO from Xwords.

Aketi 8:18 PM  

@GILL I, now I’ll remember the yuca spelling. At least the grocer misspells it too.

@Nancy, I should amend (not append) my comment to say that the cost of the knee surgery that was not covered by insurance was less than the cost of my husband’s hearing aids which were not covered by insurance. I think the orthopedic surgeons have mastered the art of negotiating woth insurance companies.

@Foxaroni, good to know, I told my husband. Apparently he was aware that Coso has inexpensive hearing aids but he likes his high tech hearing aids, Since he is about the most frugal person I’ve ever met with most consumable goods, I don’t think I’m going to give him a hard time about it,

Burma Shave 9:02 AM  


LOCK us into this ESCAPEROOM.


spacecraft 11:34 AM  

A less than savory start, as I imagined the JOHN door left AJAR. Ew. But I played on, and was rewarded by a splendid reveal. It just works perfectly and coolly, and the theme entries are fine. The fill, with little length due to grid shape as noted above, is nevertheless relatively clean. Overall I'd say an impressive debut.

The TAcO/TARO thing wasn't an issue here; I came upon the area doing acrosses, and knew the term de JURE, so that was a gimme. And that produced JAKARTA...the whole thing played very easy. You guys never heard of ESCAPEROOM? I've seen that. They create two identical rooms, filled with deep, clever clues leading to more clues (a la Dad Gates' complaint in "National Treasure"), leading eventually to the key that lets you out. Solving teams ENTER, and the first to ESCAPE wins. It's a lot of fun. I'd love to play some time.

For DOD, I have to employ a homophone. Ann-Margret's name is spelled Olsson--but close enough! Honorable mention to Moon Unit ZAPPA--just for surviving that moniker. [And yes, I too noticed the pickup on the twin "zap" clues. Nice] For a first effort, this is clearly a birdie.

Diana,LIW 1:35 PM  

Finally writing before noon today.

Smooth - easier, for me, than yesterday. Last entry was the TARO chip - didn't think taco chips could be very trendy any more. Not since the INCAs, at least.

I've had friends who played the ESCAPEROOM game. (Yes, I do have friends...)

Speaking of friends - @Teed's favorite breakfast beverage shows up in the puzzle today. Where are the M&M's, though?

Did anyone mention you most likely won't get "board" with this puzzle - if so, what's left? (sorry - can't help myself)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Wordplay

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

NECCO not fair for those on the left coast. We don't know such brands.

rainforest 3:45 PM  

This was a nice Tuesday puzzle, especially theme-wise, plus the additional theme-related goodies (and ADAM/ABLE) which I found easier than yesterday's which makes it so unacceptable that I DNF at the TARO/JURE cross. Of course I had "C" there - never heard of TARO chips, and don't intend to try them.

Despite that ignominious failure (should have been able to work out "de JURE" and then held my nose at TARO), I found this to be a delightful effort, debut at that.

Good one.

leftcoastTAM 3:49 PM  

The theme doesn't resonate with me, and the execution is less than impressive but, sheesh, it is a Tuesday, so I'd say it's okay.

Sorry to also say I was overcome with ENNUI by the time I finished.

rondo 3:54 PM  

It’s probably too hard to work in NumLock or Backspace or spacebar into such a puz; Insert or Delete joke here. Or in your USB PORT.

As for the real KEYWEST, I love to go there. Last time I stayed at a converted mansion and took advantage of the rooftop clothing-optional tanning area. I even applied for a job with the local engineering department in KEYWEST. I wonder how much hassle it is to put up with the hurricanes . . .

What kind of apartment do you have? ALOFT. At least it’s not AJAR.

They keep replaying that Pirates of the Caribbean flick featuring KEIRA Knightly. Yeah baby.

Tuesdays seem to have advanced a notch this year. And any puz with Frank ZAPPA is OK by me.

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