Eponymous cartoonist Guisewite / THU 6-7-18 / Like happening party in slang / Fool in British slang / Feast that might include lomi lomi salmon / Bygone ford make informally

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Challenging (7:32, with an error—see below)

THEME: BUBBLES UP (33D: Rises, in a way) — Down themers are all carbonated beverages, and the "bubbles" (i.e. the "O"s in the answer) have "bubbled up" to the top of the answers:

Theme answers (all clued [Carbonated beverage, spelled as 33-Down might suggest?]):
  • 3D: OO LEMN SDA (lemon soda)
  • 37D: OO CKE ZER (Coke Zero)
  • 7D: OO CHAMPAGNE CLER (champagne cooler)
  • 9D: OO JLT CLA (Jolt Cola)
Word of the Day: ALMA (57D: Michigan college town) —
Alma College is a private liberal arts college in AlmaMichigan. It enrolls approximately 1,400 students and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). (wikipedia)

• • •

Promising theme, but exceedingly painful to solve. Like torture. Just gruesome. EEE WIDTH? No, go home, that is bad. It really is. EEE ... WIDTH? What the hell else is EEE going to be? There is no EEE length or height.  Jeez louise. And riddles ... are never ... ever funny. I hate them so much. "?" clues I can take, when done right. But riddles, man. [hard sigh]  Riddles are the kind of "humor" or "puzzle" that I have been ignoring or actively wadding up and throwing in the trash since I was a kid. "Hey, what has a this but doesn't do that?" Me: already out of the room 'cause I don't care. And this riddle is sooooo ... ooooo .... [takes a drink] ... ooooo dumb. In what universe can a WICK be "tall"? "Look at the tall WICK on that candle!" said the complete idiot and/or non-native English speaker. The "old riddle" part is particularly galling. You torture us with an "old riddle" (are there any other kind?) and then also have the nerve to put OLD GAG (gag!) in the grid? And old names aplenty. And old slang that actually No One Ever Said (can we kill ABES today, please?). There was nowhere to turn for joy in this one.
The most offensive thing about this puzzle, though, is the theme—offensive in that it's one thing to have a bad theme, and then it's another, much worse thing to have a *good* theme idea and just trip over your own feet and smash your precious theme on the ground. The main issue is the answer set. It needs to be better. It's so arbitrary and strange. Three soft drinks, one ... not. Two generic drinks, two specific drink brands (I pray that you know / remember (?) what Jolt Cola is, because otherwise it is possible that you had AMAS (24A: Word in a Latin 101 lesson) and OOJLSCLA and were wondering when J-LO got into the cola-making business). The worst screw-up, though—the thing that makes the whole thing truly inelegant—is that there is this lovely consistency, with two Os rising in every beverage, and in every case, one O comes from the first drink word and one O comes from the second ... except with *&$^&% "champagne cooler," where CHAMPAGNE is just sitting there with its finger up its nose, contributing no Os, while "cooler" has to vomit up two of its Os. In the hands of a committed constructor / editor, I can imagine this theme's being delightful. Of course the fill would have to be polished and the clues totally rewritten so as not to be irksome. But that's what dedicated craftspeople do. They polish their work, and they make the solver's experience the most important consideration. It's nice when it happens.

Oh, my error. I almost forgot. Today (the day on which I am solving this, Wednesday, Jun. 6) is DDAY. So I've been reminded about DDAY frequently throughout the day, and so when I got to 27D: Annual celebration, for short, I didn't even blink: DDAY. Even though "celebration" isn't quite right, and even thought DENNET doesn't look like anyone's name (though come on, unless you're a Senate nerd or live in Colorado, you know you didn't know Michael BENNET) (27A: Colorado senator Michael). Anyway, that was a mistake I should not have made, and while the DDAY coincidence thing definitely screwed me up, I should've figured it out. Instead I was sure my error was at 6D: Part of a competition (INIT). I just stared at that and stared at that wondering how that could be the right answer. That's an abbr. for "initial" ... or it's two words ... but neither made sense, until I realized the two-word parsing is the correct one: if you are part of a competition, you are IN IT (to win it, maybe). It's a poor clue, in that "part of competition" is not specific enough. We talk about teams being IN IT when they still have a chance to win. Simply being "part of the competition" doesn't mean you're IN IT. I competed at the Indie 500 Crossword Tournament this past weekend, but despite doing pretty well by my own personal standards, I was never credibly IN IT. My kingdom for a careful clue-writer!!!! Ugh, good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


JJ 12:22 AM  

I too confidently wrote in DDAY, I did the same at 8A with MAYAN.. Riddles don't rattle me, and overall the odd answers had straightforward crosses. I thought it was a clever idea for a puzzle, and a fun solve. It made me smile-- almost as much as the early morning@LMS posts!

puzzlehoarder 12:25 AM  

This was an unusually challenging Thursday. It took me forever to realize that the remaining theme letters were in order and not scrambled. The Os were the only letters moved. For a long time the themes just looked like random giberish.

CHAMPAGNECLER was the last to fall and it's what finally made me understand the theme. I had a killer AERO/MERC write over blocking that answer. Fixing that mistake cleared everything up.

That South Central section was still hard even with the themes in place.

Unfortunately I had a dnf due to DDAY. I know this puzzle is dated the 7th but I'm solving it on D-Day. What are the odds of that? Apparently very good.

DENNET is odd looking but I've put in worse.

Roger McDonald 12:31 AM  

Couldn’t figure out part of the competition for the longest time - then gave up and put in idit - thinking that was part of Iditarod right? Yuk!
Should have caught best instead of beat -Hey abea surely was wrong, but...abes?? Appalling!!

BH 1:04 AM  

Old-fashioned oil lamps had wicks that began tall and burned away. I got that one, but it didn't make this easier or more pleasant. Tedious in the extreme.

Bruce Haight 1:11 AM  

OK - EEE width is pretty weak. However, I think riddles are fun, and I was thinking of the wick as running thru the full length of the candle. Not many things are tall when young and short when old.
I never actually considered trying to find theme entries where one O was from the first word and one from the second. It was very difficult to come up with theme entries in general, without duping a word like soda or cola. "Part of a competition" is tricky for IN IT, but hey, it's Thursday - you didn't start the puzzle thinking it was going to be straight-forward.

Stanley Hudson 1:20 AM  

Well it had a bit of Thursdayish wordplay but much too easy for a Thursday puzzle. I usually enjoy Bruce Haight’s offerings but this one feels a mite, er, flat.

I believe that in certain English dialects WICK is slang for “penis.” Short when old? Methinks not!

Sue T. 1:32 AM  

The ALMA answer particularly irked me, because I grew up in Michigan and ran through every college town I could think of: Ann Arbor, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Ypsilanti... I did finally come up with ALMA, but I didn't even realize there was a college there.

Trombone Tom 1:36 AM  

A very different and ingenious theme today. I liked it very much, but still agree with some of @Rex's quibbles.

IN IT is pretty much of a stretch, even for a Thursday. And CHAMPAGNE COOLER wasn't as impressive a themer as the others.

Other missteps: DISh>>DISK, BEaT>>BEST, and Boa>>BIB

@Bruce Haight: Thanks for stopping by. I appreciated the riddle.

GHarris 1:45 AM  

Was able to finish only because I asked the computer to tell me which letters/answers were wrong and knew where I still had work to do.Still, this meant I came up with the right answers on my own. I consider this to be a lesser form of cheating especially given the difficulty of the clueing. Thus, derived a modicum of satisfaction.

jae 1:46 AM  

Very tough Thurs. for me. I got it but it was more Sat. than Thurs. time wise. I had RAt DATA before RAW... for way too long (rats being the animal of choice for experiments and me having run a few rats in grad school). I liked the theme idea but not the inconsistency problem. So, I guess I liked this more than @Rex did, but he makes some good points.

I also had pImA for “Material is sheets” for quite a while.

@Bruce - The INIT clue was fine by me...you’re right, it’s Thursday!

alexa shortbush 2:20 AM  

What bugged me is those "bubbles" in the SW - No way would they stay there they would float to the top of the grid! At least the bubbles were the only Os in the grid. Yeesh the fill.

Larry Gilstrap 2:24 AM  

The drinks are on me! I, too, struggled with theme consistency. LEMON SODA seems pretty generic and JOLT COLA was a thing many moons ago, I hope. Now we get energy drinks laced with caffeine and who knows what else? I have a weakness for the flavor of Coca-Cola, I'm looking at you Diet COKE, but have switched to the less noxious iced tea. In a bind, I will settle for a COKE ZERO, $.99 at your local 7-Eleven, if you bring your own cup.

I balked at CHAMPAGNE COOLER. I used to see folks order a wine COOLER, but somebody is gonna dilute the French stuff with ice and another beverage? Really? I know Mimosas are popular at brunch, but do they use CHAMPAGNE or sparkling wine? Words matter.

Staring occurred at that ALMA/PRAT cross.

My ALMA Mater is San Diego State; proud to be an Aztec. The women's dorms were named after ancient Mexicans: OLMEC, Toltec, Zapotec, etc. Stopping in to pick up a date was extremely intimidating, to say the least. Upon departure, she would sign one of three clip- boards: 12 am, 2 am, or over night. The suspense was palpable. Returning your date to the facility was even more challenging. Catcalls on your return and aimed flying objects launched from many floors above on your exit. Do people even date anymore? God, I hope so.

I skip M-W 2:32 AM  

I didn't even realize I was finished when the happy sound came on with the "ler" in cooler. I guess I'm enough of a politics nerd to know Bennet without any effort, along with Andre , but, though I've been to Taos several times (in summer) I started with Alta, and got chased from the NW to the SE which usually seems to yield more easily. The theme answers were a clever twist, that only slowly began to make sense, but eventually bubbled up. Quite satisfying, overall.

chefwen 2:54 AM  

Trying to get the drinks under control gave me a headache. Why would you ruin perfectly good CHAMPAGNE by making a cooler out of it?
Terrible idea.
Figured it out after BUBBLES UP but those two oo’s were driving me nuts. Didn’t help that I thought the ancient Mexican was aLMEC, which through everything off. Another silly hang up was GIBE, for some reason I always want to spell it JIBE and was scratching my head over INAJOS. Was surprised when I untangled the mess I made and was able to finish. Phew!

Mark 3:20 AM  

That was a really hard puzzle. I’m not upset the placement of o’s wasn’t always one per word. I do agree that EEE width is a crummy answer, but that is a nit. This inventive and challenging a puzzle is very satisfying to solve.

Loren Muse Smith 4:24 AM  

Nothing like a totally fresh, new theme idea (hi, @Trombone Tom) and a little Haightred (the good kind) to kick off the day.

I got the two OOs at the top of a couple of the themers and was still baffled. But when I saw COKE ZERO, saw where its OOs had gone, I was delighted. Delighted. What a whimsical idea! It was a pleasure sussing out the others, and I didn’t even notice that CHAMPAGNE COOLER’s two OOs had come from one word. I also didn’t notice that LEMON SODA is generic. Heck – CHAMPAGNE COOLER and LEMON SODA are generic, COKE ZERO and JOLT COLA are brands. We’ve seen theme sets like this a lot. No biggie.

Bruce, I know, right? Hard not to dupe. You had to separate out the COLA, SODA, COKE in three different themers. Otherwise, you could’ve gone with the obvious CCA CLA.

Me, too, for a dnf with “D-day/Dennet.” Ah me.

I noticed RABI (sic) leading into SEDER. And ASTI crosses BUBBLES UP.


@Alexa Shortbrush – excellent catch that the bubbles are the only OOs in the grid. I totally missed that.

@JJ – thanks.

I should start a Twitter account to counter the argumentum ad populum gallery of tweets by those who have drunk from the Rexade.

Bruce – I know from experience that you’re a gifted constructor who cares. You’ve shot down several of my stellar, brilliant ideas. Ok, I guess you were right. Sigh. And you always stop in and face Rex’s excoriation with class and good cheer.

This puzzle definitely pleased (SLY WINK) A MUSE.

Thomaso808 4:32 AM  

Loved it. I had to work all the way to the SE to get BUBBLESUP but that revealed how the Os in OLMEC and OUIJA made sense. Big aha!

Something wacky is usually in store when Bruce’s name is up there! Loved it!

Charles Flaster 5:16 AM  

In agreement with Rex.
Maybe BUBBLES UP could have been written south to north.
If I had finished I would not even had known it. Very challenging.
Thanks BH

runtomrun 5:21 AM  

Loved this! Thanks for a good Thursday!

Abby Friedman 5:49 AM  

A Seder is not "a meal with story-telling," like, way to go fucking anti-semitic NYT. It's holy. I mean, yes, at it's most utter basic it's about retelling the "story" of the Exodus from Egypt but give me a fucking a break, that is the most reductionist bullshit. That's like calling baptisms a public bath -- it's a religious rite.

BarbieBarbie 6:11 AM  

What size shoes? Eight, in a B, you could reply. You could also say 8B or Eight; B width. EEEWIDTH is just fine.

Part of a competition messed me up for longer than I like to admit. I was thinking maybe uNIT? But squirming. The themers didn’t help because they were antiAcrostics- compressed spelling isn’t intuitive for me so I really had to stare to make the answers come. Finally slew the dragn.

Fun puzzle!I love Thursdays. Thanks BH.

Lewis 6:12 AM  

@rex -- "[takes a drink]" ... Hah! One reason I love reading your reviews is that you can be so entertaining.
@lms -- Good catch on RABI!

With the tricky cluing and slippery theme, this felt like trying to run through water but boy was my brain working! I was totally engaged during the solve and exhilarated afterward. My kind of puzzle. Thank you for some tough love, Bruce!

TonySaratoga 6:32 AM  

I love that you showed up in the comments! Very tough puzzle (almost double my average Thurs) but I liked it. Thanks!

Lewis 6:54 AM  

@lms -- Also, "the argumentum ad populum gallery of tweets by those who have drunk from the Rexade" is brilliant.

QuasiMojo 6:55 AM  

Never heard of any of these sparkling beverages. What on earth is a "Champagne Cooler"? Plopping in OLD SAW instead of OLD GAG didn't help me either. Clunky and awkward clueing. Brutal.

three of clubs 7:07 AM  

For a long while I thought maybe we were using carbonation literally as in carbon dioxide, good old CO2 --> OOC.

kitshef 7:13 AM  

I think there are two Bruce Haights. One does creative puzzles with twists I’ve never seen before. The other does stunt puzzles that may be fun for him to create, but are no fun to solve.

Today, we got Good Bruce. A puzzle to AMUSE. A RIOT. Good FILL.

I am, however starting to resent the expectation that we are supposed to know every college town in the country. ALMA – population 9,383, is not crossworthy.

kitshef 7:25 AM  

@alexa shortbush - I assumed those bubbles in SW were trapped under the ICE.

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

For me, the sweetest part of crossword puzzling is learning, after discovering what I filled wrong, I liked the idea of the Os rising from the answers, but would have prefered more common carbonated beverages. NEHI wouldn't have done it. And MUNTAINDEWO, too obvious. Rex Parker, your critiques make me laugh! And I love your POP SENSATION book review website!!! (With today's puzzle theme, it iseems the right time to mention this/!) Last week's Purple Bat Alien, did look like the NOID, instead of one of the title's words : VOID.

Hungry Mother 7:43 AM  

Same-same as Rex, but much slower. DNF

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

I started out with DDAY/DENNET as well, especially because DENNET is close to DENNETT (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Dennett). But then it struck me that BDAY was much more plausible than DDAY and I made the swap.

Doug 7:51 AM  

Rex and Trump should really have a childish tantrum competition.

Sydney 7:58 AM  

I really liked the puzzle. It took me forever to figure out what was going on, but I finally got it! Big smile. There were several things I didn’t know, and I did end up googling one of them: the Colorado senator.

Unknown 8:18 AM  

I expect run-on whining from Rex/acolytes stumped by challenging puzzles, but today’s harangues are blameshift of wounded male vanity.

Lemon Soda?? 8:23 AM  

I'm old. i've never had a LEMON SODA. Lemon-Lime, most certainly. Not just lemon. And I've read this comments section enough to know that there is probably someone here who drinks lemon soda on a regular basis.

I don't know what a CHAMPAGNECOOLER is...is like a mimosa? What else would you put in Champagne but OJ? Then there is JOLTCOLA. I think it's always called just "Jolt."

I knew, after muddling through this "mess-with-letters" puzzle, it was BH's. (I never look at the constructor before hand...and really only look if i like it or don't). Not a fan, though I'm sure he's a nice guy.

ncmathsadist 8:24 AM  

Uallyed awfulness. The INIT thing was over the top. Plenty of punishing fill such as WICK and OLD GAG. Just ..... GAG.

Schadenfrauder 8:24 AM  

Another inciteful critique. It’s fascinating to watch this guy day after day trash the NYT puzzle. No one is forcing him to review it yet he does. Every damn day he critiques a puzzle that in his opinion is sub standard. I, for one, enjoy the continual meltdowns. Keep ‘em coming Rex.

chefbea 8:29 AM  

made no sense to me!!!...and I do not drink anything bubbly

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

Would’ve enjoyed a 3-O answer in place of OOCHAMPAGNECLER—OOORTBEERFLAT?—and, yes, agree that leaving CHAMPAGNE intact was kinda a fail. I thought I could detect some subtle good humor in today’s review. Tweets were on the side of lame.

Wm. C. 8:30 AM  

Bad, bad, bad, bad ... bad.

And oh, did I mention ...BAD!

mmorgan 8:33 AM  

I rarely meet a puzzle I don't like. This was one. I'll tip my hat for the concept -- clever and different -- but the process of working it through was Not Fun and the resulting grid looks like it must be filled with errors. Nice idea in the abstract but not so much in the flesh (as it were).

Z 8:33 AM  

I'm not so much a politics nerd as a politics curmudgeon (I. Swear. To. God. the next racist nimwit to utter "Lincoln was a Republican" is going to get my foot so far up their ANOS you'll be able to see my pedicure in their eyes)* so I know Michael Bennet, though the Colorado part of the clue wasn't helpful. No, what slowed me in that corner was not knowing OOLEMNSDA was a thing. Lemon-Lime Soda, sure. Jarritos Lime Soda, sure. But OOLEMNSDA is a new one here. DU-- and SL-WIN-S was not making any sense to me, so I ran the alphabet on DU-- to finally see DULY, SL-W was no longer was blocked by an O in head, and I finished.

Only other stumbles were that my neckwear was a Boa before a BIB, and my OLD GAG was an OLD saw for a bit.

I really liked the theme. With the bevy of carbonated beverages in the universe I would have thought a tighter set was achievable. Or maybe a flat beer version where the bubbles have been removed. I will beg to differ with @LMS on the smallest of niggles, that 2 and 2 sets are common doesn't make them good, and certainly not great. Not awful either. Just Meh.

@Quasimojo - What is a OOCHAMPAGNECLER? An offense to Bacchus.

*No and No - hyperbole - look it up

American Liberal Elite 8:38 AM  

I googled "champagne cooler" and got three pages of wine chillers. So I tried "champagne cooler recipe" and found that this drink, hitherto unknown to me, does exist.

TartanCalf 8:38 AM  

Great fun today! Init was impossible. Kind of funny to see MEARA, LIT and MALLRATS clustered... something for every generation. I'm a relative newcomer here and want to thank everyone who posts. For me, reading the comments is as enjoyable as the puzzle.

pabloinnh 8:39 AM  

You say Dennet, I say Bennet, you say Dday, I say Bday, and so on.

I thought the o's bubbling up was terrific fun. Nice to see the olmecs and the anos , very helpful for those of us with some Spanish in our backgrounds. In short, thought the puzzle had lots of alma, which would have been a better clue, IMHO.

Neal Grover 8:45 AM  

Although I can sympathize with, or at least understand, the comments and problems posted for this puzzle, I was able to get around all of them -- then completely stonewalled at "SLYWINHS" because I thought certainly that a plate is a DISH not a DISK. -smacking self in head -

Nancy 8:50 AM  

My very old, very slow computer wouldn't open up fast enough, as I didn't think I could wait another nanosecond to find out what in the name of Heaven is going on here??? This is the sort of puzzle that drove me to the Rexblog in the first place -- because I couldn't possibly wait an entire day to find out what in the name of Heaven is going on here???

The theme answers were complete gibberish to me -- and well enough protected by the rest of the clue/answers that I couldn't just DULY fill them in. Even after I got BUBBLES UP, the theme answers were still complete gibberish to me.

Harder than any Saturday I've ever done. I was looking for the theme answers to be upside down, but that wasn't it. I saw that they all started with OO and was wondering if they had anything to do with Seven Up? You know -- as in 007. Nope, that wasn't it either. So I came here. I almost never complain about a puzzle being too hard, but this one was too weird and gibberishy for me. Did not enjoy it and could not finish it.

Z 8:54 AM  

Forgot to mention - as a grad from an MIAA school (oldest athletic conference in the country) ALMA College was a gimme. Hope, Calvin, Adrian, Olivet, Albion, and Kalamazoo round out the current Michigan members. That was a wheelhouse answer here.

Matthew G. 9:04 AM  

Count me among those who initially thought the theme was going to be spelling out the symbol for carbon dioxide. But I like the actual theme better.

I don't understand why the CHAMPAGNE COOLER difference is a problem. It's in the central column of a symmetrical theme, so a little difference is allowed, I think. Not an issue in my view. If it had a symmetrical pairing that didn't work the same way, I'd be more bothered.

I also think the puzzle deserves credit for another thing Rex failed to mention: the thematic Os are the only Os in the puzzle. That probably explains the questionable fill.

In short, I liked this better than most.

SJ Austin 9:05 AM  

I thought the theme concept was superb, but the execution was iffy. I never even bothered to try and figure out what OOCHAMPAGNECLER was; I just threw the Os up there and waited for the crosses. Seems like a full-height down should have a bit more payoff. Nevertheless, I liked the theme. And some of the cluing was lots of fun, too.

Mostly I'm commenting to say that I admire Bruce Haight for coming into the comments and contributing after getting raked over the coals.

Steve M 9:07 AM  

Good way to ruin your Thursday

benjaminthomas 9:08 AM  

I know Rex hates Republicans and all, and yes Lincoln was our first Republican president. But isn't it still a bit insensitive (hyper-partisan) for him to suggest we "kill Abes"?

QuasiMojo 9:16 AM  

@Z, my ignorance of "coolers" is due entirely to my being abstemious since 1981. Apparently they came into vogue around that time. According to something I found online: "Because most of the flavor in the wine is obscured by the fruit and sugar, the wine used in wine coolers tends to be of the cheapest available grade." Haha. An affront to Bacchus indeed (although Champagne didn't really come into existence until the mid-17th Century so I doubt he ever had any.)

Little known and probably apochryphal factoid: Frederick the Great of Prussia made his coffee with champagne.

Personally anyone who adds something to Champagne, which I recall as being the most delightful and exquisite of beverages, has no palate to begin with. It reminds me of those tacky folks who mix Courvoisier with Diet Coke. Btw, we have had "Lemon Soda" in the NYT puzzle before not so long ago and I recall it generating heated debate. (Just as we've had GAM of whales a few times before.)

@Nancy, that is exactly how I found this blog, too! Glad I did.

Mohair Sam 9:18 AM  

This hit square on number 11 on M&A's delightful Rex "Target" list from yesterday.

That combined with the rare Rex dnf - I knew we were in for a doozy - Rex did not disappoint. Bias is when you invent a rule about where the "O's" belong and don't notice there are no other bubbles (O's) in the puzzle. And how can a second-term US Senator be considered bad fill late in the week (for one who wears his liberal politics on his sleeve I'm surprised Rex doesn't know this Democrat)?

Me? Had a ball with this one. Tough workout with a unique theme, what's not to love? Of course, I enjoy riddles - so that helped. INIT was a WICKed misdirect, isn't that the fun of a late week puzz? GIFTbox before GIFTSET, anyone else?

Bruce Haight (1:11) I disagree - I walked into a nearby Sketchers outlet last weekend and said what I always say in shoe stores: "I'm a triple EEE WIDTH, you got a section for that?" 20A was fine.

@M&A (from yesterday) - Gonna have to add a number 12 "Oh no! It's a riddle". And you might want to consider "Stacks" at 13.

Nancy 9:24 AM  

Thought for the day: everyone here who finished this fiendishly impossible puzzle deserves a MacArthur Genius Award. I am GOBSMACKED at your respective smarts.

Also, sorry for the duplicate posts. I took action about 90 seconds too soon. My disappeared post reappeared in the blink of an eye, while I was re-sending.

Richard Gross 9:25 AM  

My shoe size is men’s 7. It is also EEE or sometimes EEEE. Big foot spec—C’mon

Stanley Hudson 9:26 AM  

@Bruce Haight: thanks for stopping by.

Tim Aurthur 9:28 AM  

One recipe for CHAMPAGNE CooLER has 6 oz. champagne and 1 oz. each brandy and Cointreau. That's quite a cocktail. A couple of those and you're totally LIT.

John Child 9:32 AM  

I don’t think that a puzzle can be objectively “too hard,” but this was too hard for me. As I look back, all the trivia-style answers were WOEs, and the clues for several answers stumped me. Had BottomSUP at the reveal, so wasn’t getting anywhere finding south-to-north themers. Aaargh. A couple of google searches and some Reveal Word == massive DNF. Liked the theme and almost all of the fill, so thumbs up despite crashing and burning.

Ken 9:41 AM  

Must be that "speed" solvers and recreational solvers have quite different experiences when a challenging inventive puzzle finally appears in the NYT! I loved the theme and having to figure it out. Agreed that a few clues were bad but all in all BRAVO Bruce ! Great puzzle. Hope to see you again rattling poor Rex's elitist world.

Blue Stater 9:56 AM  

Just incredibly, unspeakably bad, for reasons pointed out above in abundance. I was going to ask whether TPTB at the NYT were ever going to tumble to how wretched the puzzles have gotten under the present regime, but have come to realize that it's more a matter of their being unwilling to admit that they've made and are compounding a huge mistake. It is outrageous that we have to put up with this kind of junk.

OTOH maybe we, or I, anyway, don't have to put up with it any longer. In response to a suggestion here, I've sampled the WaPo puzzles. Tough, but interestingly tough, and with much higher standards of linguistic and factual accuracy. Maybe a change is in order, after more than a half-century. The only thing I'd miss would be the trenchant commentary on this site.

Tita 10:01 AM  

@mms...new-ish to the neighborhood,my mom had a few neighbors over for lunch. (Y'all know English is her 3rd language...)
One of the friends asked why our dog seemed out of sorts.

Mom replied. "He just got a shot against RABBIS."
To which JERRY said, "Dogs now too?!"

(Have I mentioned we lived on a VERY Jewish neighvorhod?)

I agree that it was Great of Bruce to stop by. I thought the puzzle was fun. Not bothered by the name brand/generic thing.
And I don't get all the hate for INIT.
In the same vein, I also liked how INAGES made me pause to think about the phrase as clued.


@jae...love your RAtDATA.

Btw, I miss you all...have fallen out of the routine of late, and have even been skipping M-Ws...!
I have,however, fallen in love with the new online Spelling Bee game...anyone else??

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

Great puzzle. Thanks. It took me a while, but when it clicked I was very happy. ( for some reason bubbles up came early so I assumed the answers would run from bottom to top. Did you anticipate that solvers might try to make that work, or am I all wet?)

And thanks to someone for explaining in it. I think that's actually a pretty darn great clue.

Rex is nuts, which is fine, but he's mean spirited and that's hard to take.

PS Besides your obvious skill in construction, you've got plenty of guts. As M&A noted yesterday and Mohair reminds us today, Rex has an almost-sociopathic animus toward you. I'm sure you know that, so thanks for having such thick skin. It's always a pleasure hearing from the constructor.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

Abby Friedman 5:49 AM. I suspect 66A was less of an insult than your foul language. I really think F-bombs should not get published in this forum. Moderator, where are you?

pmdm 10:08 AM  

Both the constructor's comments and Jeff Chen's comments interested me today, and were (to me) funnier that the material on this sight. But there's no accounting for taste.

I don't think one feature of today's puzzle was mentioned. Except for the Os that bubble up, there are no other Os in todays puzzle. Forgive me if I am repeating an observation that has already been posted.

"Did the error in today's puzzle bother you? What error, you ask? I'll quote Mr. Chen: The annoying engineer in me wondered why oxygen bubbled up, though. It's carbon dioxide! CO2! NOT O2! IT'S WRONG! WRONG WRONG WRONG! IF IT'S JUST O-SHAPED BUBBLES, WHY IS EACH THEMER IMPLYING OXYGEN BY PROVIDING EXACTLY TWO OS?

Man, that engineer is annoying. Just enjoy the O-shaped bubbles, will you?"

I liked the theme. I like the implementation, and I like the (to me, relative) lack of proper nouns, (maybe that's because I guess correctly on B/DENNET.)

Logan 10:17 AM  

Kudos for commenting! I seem to be in the minority, but I enjoyed the Big foot clue. You had a space and no second capitalization. Length specs are numeric, and the Tide crossing made it obvious it was width (since eleven is neither a big foot nor did it fit). In addition, EEE is written as such, while anything larger is notated 4E, 5E, etc.

I don't time my crosswords, I prefer appreciating the wordplay and the (hopefully) thrilling denouement of the theme. While today's puzzle had a few irksome clues, the realization of the theme definitely made me smile. So thank you for a quality puzzle.

P.S. - Champagne cooler was easy since 'champagne' had the easiest crosses. Rex just gets grumpy when stumped.

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

Shortz needs to retire.

G. Weissman 10:32 AM  

Rex remarks:

Riddles are the kind of "humor" or "puzzle" that I have been ignoring or actively wadding up and throwing in the trash since I was a kid. "Hey, what has a this but doesn't do that?" Me: already out of the room 'cause I don't care.

I’d suggest that riddles are not necessarily “humor”; they are language puzzles, and in that way like crossword puzzles. My wife’s response to any crossword clue I might ask her is: already out of the room 'cause she don't care. It’s fine to dislike riddles, but they are pretty closely related to crossword puzzles, which clearly rely on riddle-like clues and themers.

Amelia 10:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Logan 10:40 AM  

Wow...this is excessive. As you wrote, Haggadah literally translates to "telling" in Hebrew. As in 'telling the STORY of Exodus'. Try to view the clue without a defensive lens.

The Seder *is* a Rite and a remembrance, but it is also a celebration with family and community. I remember how ecstatic I was when I got my first reading part as a child. I was excited to tell the story with conviction and be a good and entertaining 'actor'. We are a people of stories and traditions, and to others that may seem strange. "Meal with a story" may be minimized, but also likely a reason for non-Jewish solvers to look up, learn about, and maybe even participate in a Seder.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

Hey Z,
I'm usually the anonymous who comments on your posts. You used to call me your pet or some such petty ad hominem. Anyway, I wanted you know, that anon 10:12 wasn't me. I thought exactly what he actually wrote, but it wasn't me. I just you'd like to know for the record you have at least two real fans.

The REAL anon

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Anon 10:18.
Z is gonna mansplain that while Abe was a GOPer, the current Republican party no longer bears any resemblance to the GOP of the 1860s and therefor its moot or even an obfuscation to note Lincoln's party. (He's wrong, but he'll be here to get the last word in. Bank on it)

Suzie Q 10:49 AM  

I loved this a lot more after the solve than while I was doing it.

Very cool of Bruce to stop by.

In England I heard of cars being called a Merc many times and I thought it was funny to learn they were talking about Mercedes not Mercury.
If you have oil lamps the riddle is easier than if you were thinking of candles. The power goes out here a lot so I have a few of those lamps in my house.

Bob Mills 10:52 AM  

I agree with Rex about this puzzle. Yuch. I finished it, but felt like washing my hands immediately. "JOLT COLA" really means nothing at all. And "IN IT" as part of a competition is just ridiculous. "Part of IPO," for short, would have been a good clue. Hopefully things will return to normal on Friday.

Good ol' Joe 10:53 AM  


These are all things that might be said but are any of them really “in the language”? I don’t mind hard and I don’t mind stuff I don’t know but this wasn’t fun for me. After I filled in sly winks I just thought “sly winks”?

If the puzzle is full of any old two word phrases that just happen to get said together sometimes, but aren’t really in the language, that’s no better than “any word in the dictionary is OK for a crossword”. Crosswords from that era are why I used to be bored by crosswords but this seems the same to me.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

ADUE? "for two voices in unison" Cannot make sense of this. Anyone?

anon 11:02 AM  

The puzzle was challenging and fun. Thanks! Disregard the narcissistic whiner.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

As a triple E shoe wearer, I am simply amazed at the negativity regarding EEE Width - that's what I need to ask for when I buy a shoe if I want it to fit - even one EEE wearer here expressed his negativity by saying, I wear a 7, so that ain't big. A 7EEE is the biggest 7 you will find on the shelves. Get over it. EEE Width is perfectly fine, and people with wide feet belong on the earth, you can't deport us yet. Until the "party of Lincoln" gets way, way down on their list, anyway...

Malsdemare 11:19 AM  

I thought it was fun. I like those early doubts, the I'll never get this one feeling and the slooooow discovery that, yes, I can get an answer or two. Like seeing RAWDATA from R—DA, and MICA, after running the alphabet many times for that M. The trick dawned on me late and was only mild help, but that's as it should be. It’s no fun on a Thursday to suddenly speed through a puzzle. I like to savor.

dDAY/dENNET did me in, as did WICK. I don't know how many times I took out ANOS and then put it back in; I wanted WalK (so you walk tall when young and take short walks when old, no?) or WorK (no idea how that would fit the clue but I imagined it would in some universe, just not mine). I had to check Rex to get WICK and then come here to finally parse the dook INIT.

I agree that Ms. Friedman's complaint would attract more agreement without the f-bomb. I've been known to use it myself, but know in my heart that it delegitimizes my argument.

Thanks, Bruse, for a great puzzle and for showing up.

Katzzz 11:22 AM  

When you create a gimmick puzzle, the aim is to come up with something fresh and, uh, bubbly, something inventive that we have not seen before. By this criteria, today's puzzle is a sweet treat -- and makes it easy to forgive the bit of weak fill. Sure, perfection in execution would be swell, but c'mon! This gimmick was fun.

old timer 11:39 AM  

Bruce, I hated your puzzle and still do for most of the reasons OFL cited. It was one of those days I just decide to throw in the towel and come here to see what it was all about. I do think you are brave and indeed honorable to come to the forum and talk about it. I wish more constructors did. And you know, every once in a while OFL has nothing but praise for your work. Well, maybe once every two years, but it has happened.

I've been to a Seder or two. It is indeed a meal with stories, both the story from the Torah about how the Jews passed over the water and survived (while Pharaoh's army got drownded), with the same questions every year, and four glasses of wine ritually consumed. The wine, too, can produce a good deal of storytelling. Seder is also, I suspect, the first time many Jewish kids get a bit tipsy because once they are bar or bat mitzvah they participate just like their elders, and if you drink sweet Mogan David or the like, the alcohol level is pretty high.

Joseph Michael 11:40 AM  

A for originality. D for solving pleasure. So I guess that averages out to a C+.

Not usually a fan of grids designed to generate gibberish, such as OOJLTCLA and OOCKEZER. Not a fan of carbonated drinks either, so the themers were not in my wheelhouse. Some desperate fill, such as MERC, INIT, OLMEC, and ADUE, didn't help.

Some clever misdirection led me to "tie" and "boa" before I got to BIB, and "air" and "ion" before I got to ICE. Liked MALL RATS, AD BIZ, OUIJA, and BUBBLES UP.

Guess I'll have a glass of OOLEMNSDA now and wait for tomorrow.

GetWynded 11:44 AM  

Shitty puzzle but..... Best review, totally hilarious. I feel your pain but your expression of it was a panacea.

Banana Diaquiri 11:48 AM  

So anyone who says that Lincoln was a Republican is a racist? Is that right?

pretty much. ya see, back in when the Republican party was created, Lincoln was an abolitionist and an anti-secessionist. the Democrats of that day were slavers and secessionists, through and through. the two parties of those names have completely flipped with regard to race and secession. so: anyone who today claims the mantel of Lincoln Republicanism for today's Trumpublican party is a lying racist. pure and simple.

Banana Diaquiri 11:51 AM  

I truly hate rebus Thursday, just because I consider rebus a cheap trick by lazy constructors. this, on the other hand, was amusing.

GILL I. 11:55 AM  

What did I think of this puzzle? My first inkling was to go along with @Lauren's post and ask her if I could add another ICK and an UGH. I was agreeing with @Rex. There didn't seem to be any fun as I was solving. Nothing was making sense. When I figured out OOLEMSDA I bounced over to the CHAMPAGNE. Yeah, it just didn't jive. Then I began thinking about CHAMPAGNE COOLER and that was a big HUH? A COOLER is a big bucket to me. Were you thinking CHAMPAGNE Cocktail? Try Hemingway's Death In the Afternoon. It's absinthe and champagne. EEEk. Besides, no one in their right mind would mix the real stuff with other stuff. I see a Prosecco or a Cava maybe being mixed but I'd probably hit you over the head with an EEE shoe if you dared to mix a Mumm. Speaking of Brits...they have a drink called a Black Velvet. It's stout and the bubbly stuff. Tastes as bad as okra.
Anyway, as I was reading the comments I changed my mind somewhat. I can see the cleverness here. Like @jae I had RAT DATA which gave me TICK. I figured a TICK was tall at one point in its life. Other than that mistake and the same DDAY as EVERYONE ELSE, the rest was anything but a SLY WINK. I'm picturing 007 looking at Pussygalore.

jb129 12:06 PM  

I got 33 Down right away - but in the meantime, you're killing me Bruce.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Lincoln was a Republican. Calvin Coolidge was a racist progressive Democrat. These are simple facts. Deal with it.

Let's be honest here 12:10 PM  

All you guys validating EEEWIDTH by saying that when you buy a shoe, you specify a size 7 shoe, EEE WIDTH. Why don't you say you specify a size 7 length shoe, EEE width to be even more precise? You do know that the 7 specifies the length, just as EEE (along with the 7) specifies the WIDTH? Because you don't say you I want a size 7, EEE width, you say 7EEE. You know you do, I know you do, everyone knows you do. You buy a 7 EEE. Not a 7 Length, EEE width, or 7, EEE width. Because you're not an idiot, you just making shit up here to be contrary.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Oops I meant Woodrow Wilson not silent Cal. Sorry . Always mixing up my alliterative early 21st century Presidents.

Warren Howie Hughes 12:17 PM  

Figured Woes as the FILL before ILLS @ 61A!

jberg 12:20 PM  

I'll agree that some of the fill was strange, but I loved the theme a lot. Thanks for thinking this up, @Bruce, and for coming here to comment.

I thought 9A might be a trap, so I put in the EC, waiting to let the crosses resolve OLMEC or Aztec; meanwhile I got OUIJA and LUAU, so there I was with the OO. TAOS came soon after, and I just put in all the other OOs, but had no idea what was going on. Finally, with almost all the crosses, I saw OOLEMNSDA, and was able to figure out most of the rest, but was still stumped by 33D, or by why we were doing this. Then it came to me, and I thought the whole thing was brilliant.

And usually we think it's a plus when the theme answers are linked by their relationship to the theme, but otherwise in different categories. I see @Loren has taken it a step further by applying it to beer brands, also carbonated, of course.

@Nancy, this is so much like anagrams I thought you'd like it!

I knew there was a Senator Bennett, but I was thinking of that Republican from Utah who was ousted by the Tea Party -- I'd forgotten the Colorado guy. But I was pretty sure that Daniel Dennett had two Ts, and very sure that he'd never been a senator.

@anonymous 10:55 -- it's two words, A DUE, a musical term for just what the clue said.

Can't think who, but I believe I once knew someone who taught at ALMA College. But a better clue might have involved this song about Alma Mahler.

Sir Hillary 12:36 PM  

Wow, are the whiners out in force today, or what? Must be the fall weather we've been having all spring. Sheesh, y'all need a OOVDKATNIC or two.

I like how sweet ocarbnated beverages are called osft drinks by some, oosdapp (or just opp) by others, and ocla by still others. Regional thing mostly.

mathgent 12:38 PM  

I thought that it was excellent. I had to fill in almost the entire grid before I figured out why the four long entries began OO. I got a nice JOLT when I finally saw it.

I was only able to get it because the wonderful Bruce Haight had a lot of straightforward clues.

Fifteen red plus signs in the margin, high for a Thursday. Learned that CATHY was created by CATHY. SLYWINKS. "Lomi-lomi" in a clue. MALLRATS.

@pmdm (10:08). I agree. It's good to be reminded that Jeff Chen can go blooey every once in a while, like the rest of us.

Bruce Haight: Classy comment.

Masked and Anonymous 1:07 PM  

@Mohair Sam: har. It *is* kinda interestin, just sittin back and sippin the tea, watchin one's tongue-in-cheek @RP-target-list sprout new buds like it's springtime. The snarkbirds are chirpin in the background. Etc.

Oh, man. Whatabout OOORYALCRWNCLA? I know. It's 14-long, sooo … one E-width short of perfecto.

… But, hey -- just design an E-W symmetry grid, and git RC in there, no matter what. Other than that, M&A's got no problem with this here ThursPuz. Yep, it's got 'tude; good. Yep, it's weirder than snot; good. Yep, its theme is real real different; good. And boy howdy yep, it's a feisty lil puppy -- 'bout time a ThursPuz was just that, given how feisty the TuesPuz was.

M&A must think like the Haightmeister, as he caught onto the theme mcguffin pretty early, after gettin OOLEM???? splatzed into 3-Down. "Ahar! Carbo-nated BUBBLES!" Had no problemo with EEEWIDTH, btw. Other than a brief go-round with SLYLOOKS instead of SLYWINKS, and thereby a temp EEELARGE, which lost precious nanoseconds but caused no major drink spills.

Knew Senator BENNET from somewheres, sooo didn't get sucked in on DDAY over BDAY. Thought that overall the grid fill was pretty darn clean. ALMA and BENNET and maybe PRAT are the only signs of even polite desperation. staff wEEEject pick: ICE. Gets to participate in the carbonated beverage shtick, plus it crosses EEEWIDTH, which almost gets a PEWIT-like entry on the @RP-target-list, after today's fine write-up.

Thanx for the feisty fizzy fun, Mr. Haight.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Aketi 1:10 PM  

@Matthew G, there is are two CO2s BUBBLing UP from the KEZER and the HAMPLAGNE CLER. I thought that all of them would have CO2 BUBBLing UP, but JOO bottled up that notion. Got the theme when OOJLTCLA made me realize it was probably intended to just be the O2. Not nearly as fizzy in my opinion.

FYI, I make my own OOLEMNSDA since we have a OSDA maker at home. I add MINT to it too.

As for BDAY, I cheated my way there through looking up BENNET. Too bad because I would have liked DDAY better. Yesterday was also the 9th anniversary of my son’s black belt test and the 3rd anniversary of my black belt test.

@Z, Scientific American published an inexpensive ebook on the current science on Wednesday’s contentious topic.

Banana Diaquiri 1:11 PM  

Wilson was, to all intents and purposes, a 19th century Southern Democrat. and that's how he governed. no surprise there. it was the Roosevelts that made the modern socialist/communist Democrats, while the Republicans, starting with Goldwater, merged the Dixiecrats with Northern Oligarchs in the Southern Strategy. today's Trumpublican party is anathema to Lincoln; the rich get richer and the poor have kids. and he knows it.

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

I love this fresh idea for a Thursday theme. I was getting cranky when I started having trouble getting crosses - the cluing is kind of brutal (looking at you, INIT, crossing the wicked WICK) when all crosses are necessary to get the trick. I first noticed all the themers were starting the same way but that OOJL[T or s?]CLA was giving me fits. I appreciate the fact that CHAMPAGNE was one solid word with no missing bubbles because it gave me hope that there was logic behind the theme. (Though the revealer had me thinking the drink names went up the grid.)

It wasn't until I finally got OOLEMNSDA that I was able to say, "OO, OO, I SEE!" That solved the T vs S question of AMAT and got me to change GIFT bag to GIFT SET because I figured COOLER had to be the Champagne drink, though I agree it's a waste of BUBBLy.

I never hesitated at BDAY crossing BENNET, not because I knew the senator's name but because BENNET is a name I've seen. There, the cluing could have been kind enough to give us a Jane Austen tie-in; I would guess most people have seen the movie, "Pride and Prejudice" or "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" even if they haven't read the book so Elizabeth BENNET would be a superior clue in my opinion.

You did it again, Mr. Haight; you gave us a fantastic puzzle and managed to set @Rex off on a rant. Thanks!

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

It's not 02. It's two O's representing bubbles. There is no chemistry implied or meant. Sheesh.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

Why does Will keep inflicting this dude on us? WOAT

Georgia 1:53 PM  

I got what I came for, the wonderful "ah ha" moment when I realized the o's were bubbling up. Bravo, very clever.

Ray Yuen 2:19 PM  

I think Rex is often way too critical but today, I don't think he was critical enough. This entire puzzle was garbage. This is the first time in years I just threw it away without finishing but junk was everywhere.

Cassieopia 2:21 PM  

Got the whole thing except dDAY/dENNET. Wholly in Rex’s camp on that one.

However, I was utterly belighted by the theme! Dubbly Os rising to the top! Took me 45 fiendish but utterly enjoyable minutes.

Masked and Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Agree with the YEA-sayers, who already pointed out these astute bits:

1. O's surely ain't no way meant to be oxygen atoms. They are fizz BUBBLES driftin UPwards.
2. Masterful constructioneerin touch, that no other O's other than the bubbles appear in the grid.
3. Havin two generalized drinks and two specific drink brands ain't no thing. (yo, @muse) Kinda hard to call "even man out!"
4. Bruce Haight (a.k.a. Brave Hairght) shows a lotta bark on him, creatin this raised-by-the-wolves-great puz and then turnin up in this here snakepit to defend hisself. He therefore gets the "Hidden Tree Bark of the Day" award. Which is sorta like a prez pardon, in my book.
5. Riddles are puz cousins. (yo, @G.Weissman) Havin a riddle as a puz clue on occasion is major cool. Shake things up a bit. Get people ready for them comin-soon double-?? clues.
6. If U are concerned about exactly where the bubbles are comin up from in yer drink, U definitely ain't quite ready yet for double-?? clues, tho.


sanfranman59 2:30 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 3:17 4:30 0.73 1.3% Very Easy
Tue 6:16 5:26 1.16 79.2% Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:41 6:39 0.86 24.5% Easy-Medium
Thu DNF 9:47 ??? ??? Very Challenging

Good lord! This puzzle was totally impossible for me. I finally surrendered with a ton of blanks at 21:23. Yes, I did it late and was very tired. But I don't think I'd have completed this thing if I were fresh as a daisy and having a good solving day.

I had to read Rex to understand the trick. Other than CHAMPAGNES, the themers were simply opaque to me. I usually do pretty well with BH puzzles, but much of the cluing here baffled me. Like others, I fell for dDAY and simply couldn't come up with SLY WINKS, so the NW and Nocal Coast was incomplete. The SE was a similar mess. Since I didn't get the theme, I had no idea if it was AMAs or AMAT for 24A.

My last DNF on a Thursday was 9/15/2016. I don't recall the last time I've hated a solving experience this much. Ugh!

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

I grew up Unitarian yet am fully aware that a Seder is a religious event, not a campfire with s’mores and ghost stories. I agree with Abby.

I'm from Missouri 2:43 PM  

Does anyone else remember a carbonated drink called Bubble Up? It was just like 7-Up, except probably cheaper. My grandfather used to have it sometimes in the pop machine at his gas station -- in the late '50s and early '60s.

Masked and Anonymous 3:01 PM  

@sanfranman [and other nice folks]: I do see yer point, tho. If U just don't ever get WTF is goin on with a theme, it's hard to have a real good time with the puz. Solvers need to feel successful. They live for that "ahar" moment, even it's a [brutally] long time in comin. If U can't ever solve the puz, U kinda feel left out. M&A has been there, before. Especially on some of them FireBall contest puzs; cuz U definitely wanna win all them books and that extra-special bball cap. And I reckon if U are one of them lightnin-bolt speed-solvers, helplessly watchin the endless valuable nanoseconds fizz outta sight, it might even be a worser feelin. Shoot, U might even snap, and jump all over some poor shoe size, for no particular reason, say.

I truly sympathize with others's points of perspective on all that. Wish Congress worked like that.

Luv y'all.
U 2, @RP.
And U 2, @Two Ponies & @Evil Doug, wherever U went off to.


Anonymous 3:16 PM  

Rex, I cannot believe my reaction to today's column: I agree with every point you made.

Blue Stater 3:33 PM  

@Anonymous 10:55 AM: ADUE is an Italian phrase, "a due," meaning "for two." It's a musical direction, in my experience always for singers.

Whatsername 4:20 PM  

A great idea for a theme gone terribly wrong. It was hard, yes, but it’s Thursday, so okay. My biggest objection is the inconsistency in the answers. Of all the different carbonated beverages, why one most people have never even heard of, and then throw in champagne, totally unrelated to the other three. So many other possibilities - Diet Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Seven-Up, Mountain Dew, root beer, Sunkist, Orange Crush. Wow! Just don’t understand the reasoning behind that. With apologies to the constructor who I am sure worked very hard on this one, I really hated it.

Whatsername 4:23 PM  

@From Missouri - i’m from Missouri too and yes, I do remember Bubble Up. I seem to recall it came in a green bottle similar to seven up .

Anonymous 4:24 PM  

By far one of the worst NYT puzzles ever in print.

bookmark 5:29 PM  

Masked and Anonymous is a national treasure.

Birchbark 5:49 PM  

M&A (2:27): Don't know if you're checking in this late in the day. Always fun to read you, and today just plain brilliant. I smile and learn from your twists and turns in a way usually reserved for Thomas Pynchon. But I doubt you're his doppelgänger.

BK 6:11 PM  

Man, this was a tough slog. I liked the theme very much, but there was so much sacrifice to get it. Doesn't seem like it should have been necessary.


- init: Still parsing this one.
- bday/dday: depending on obscure name.
- amat: Tried 'esse', 'arat' and finally 'amat'. Might as well have been clued "Insert random 4 letters"
- Carl: Sorry, never heard of this legendary dude. Could have been more current with "Lenny's pal" or something.
- Old Gag: ?
- Kyle: Not a racing fan. Could have been clued "Foul-mouthed South Park scamp"
- fins: In all of my many decades I have never heard anyone call a $5 bill a "fin" or an "abe". In fact, I've never heard of "fin" at all.
- merc: Seems like the constructor was forcing a fit here.
- Meara: Nope
- Cathy: So many better clues than "Guisewite".
- Taos: Never heard of it. Could have been clued "Ways to live one's life" maybe?
- cat treat: Do people give there cats treats? Another force fit.
- Andre: Big '80s movie fan. Never heard of this one.

john towle 8:15 PM  

A due appears frequently.in symphony scores, always referring to the principal & the second to be playing in unison as a DUEt. So it’s an all-encompassing composer’s direction applying to singers as well as symphony musicians.



Kelly Renee 8:35 PM  

Totally agree re: champagne cooler (is that even a thing?). And as long as we’re diverting from the pattern of two words with one O from each....why not ROOTBEER?

Azzurro 11:43 PM  

For a long time, I had RATDATA crossing TICK, which technically would fit both of the clues....

Azzurro 11:45 PM  

I was fine with BENNET. But I do live in Boulder, to Rex’s point.

Tita 12:04 AM  

@BK...I recently taught my 15 year old cat to shake. I reward him with a CATTREAT.
Well, truth be told, I just use regular cat kibble. But when meted out one at a time, as a reward for his performance, I think it can be labeled as such.
Actually, I think it is more a reward for not tearing my arm off, which lucky for me, is a notch below getting to eat a kibble in Marz's estimation.
Um...now where was I...

Jeff Lewis 12:51 AM  

As the son of a shoe dog, EEEWIDTH is the way dad would have described someone’s big feet tastefully, as in “Let me show you everything I have in a triple-E width.” Got it right away.

John Hoffman 5:48 AM  

Hard for me, but fun concept. Big mistake for me was “bottoms” up, which made sense from a drinking perspective: Like another person wrote, I was looking for words spelled down to up. I had to Google some stuff but even do, ultimately DNF. Still fun!

Babs 7:16 AM  

I too wondered why I had never heard of JLo's foray into soda making - what a deeply annoying and useless waste of what little brain power I have remaining as I creep into my dotage - better to have spent the time sipping a delicious carbonated beverage and watching John Mulaney's new Netflix special - it's hilarious.

pdplot 7:44 AM  

I'm going to puke if I see Abes and Elhi in any more NYT crosswords. I too was reading from the bottom up on this one and since we never have any soda in the house I was unfamiliar with the names. And some of the comments here fall into the category of Plotnick's Law number 5, to wit: "The more trivial the subject, the more vehement the arguments".

Petsounds 9:04 AM  

Possibly the worst puzzle ever. Shortz is sloppy in general, but this is the apotheosis of sloppiness.

Alyce 9:41 AM  

I thought that eee width was fine. It's a real thing. Don't apologize. I really enjoyed your puzzle! Thank you, Mr. Haight!

LHS 888 1:42 PM  

Well, I finally successfully finished this puzzle. Boy, was it ever a challenge. I was so close that it became a vendetta, and that made the finish that much sweeter. I have no idea how long it took because I put it down and came back several times, but it was more than 99:59 (Across Lite’s timer max).

I figured out the theme early with BUBBLESUP + OLMEC + OUIJA. The last themer to fall was OOLEMNSDA (and I do enjoy Lemon San Pellegrino on occasion) due to putting in SLYlooKS in place of SLYWINKS. That correction illuminated EEEWIDTH (a perfectly acceptable entry IMHO).

I considered dDAY but fortunately figured BDAY was more celebration-worthy. Whew!
The last letter in was the N crossing INIT / ANOS. Once it was in there... d’oh! Until then... WOE?!?

Bruce - Thanks for the fun & ultimately satisfying puzzle! I really enjoyed it.

Monty Boy 5:39 PM  

I like this one a lot, as a rec solver. My time was way over average but so was entertainment of seeing the gimmick and understanding those odd-word answers. I loved the aha moment when I saw the bubbles rise.

@BK 6:11 - Many of your gripes (and others) were in my wheelhouse. For example I live in Colorado so Bennet was a gimme and aha was seeing BDAY worked as well as DDay. I suspect there are many days with our roles are reversed - Me = gripes, You = wheelhouse. That's how I grow and enjoy most puzzles. I'm pretty well read, but not Shakespeare so those clues are my gripes and I have to get answers from crosses.

Unknown 6:08 PM  

How is CHAMPAGNE COOLER a beverage? Isn't the cooler just the bucket the champagne is held in?

Sian 8:56 PM  

I too LOVED solving this puzzle. Took me forever to figure it out but that made the AHA moment so much more satisfying. It's time we had a really fun Thursday and this was it for me.

Unknown 11:21 PM  

This puzzle was a piece of crap.

Burma Shave 10:05 AM  


ANDSO I’m DULY AMUSEd with whom ISEE LIT up on stages,
I’LLBET a RIOT ensues without “BUBBLES”UP there INAGES.


This stream of unconsciousness brought to you by the CATTREAT Gentlemen’s Club and SPAS.

thefogman 10:33 AM  

Rex is right. This is not the greatest puzzle ever created but it isn't one that makes mw go RABID. I almost solved but screwed up on a couple of squares in the NE corner due to haste and inattention (AztEC instead of OLMEC). Thing is, I knew the down was JOLTCOLA. I just didn't review the jumbled letters carefully like I should have. Had I done so, OLMEC would have won out(and MINTS instead of tINTS and LUAU instead of zUAU). Too late now, but I see the double "OO"s were a pattern throughout the theme. Not much of a RIOT to solve but I wasn't at my BEST toady - and that's certainly no fault of the constructor.

rondo 11:19 AM  

For whatever reason, I figured this one out over in the OOJLTCLA area, perhaps due to the presence of yeah baby JANET Jackson leading the way of the mish-mash of 9d letters after the OO. Huh.

While not LEMONSODA, there used to be another carbonated citrus drink (c. 1980) with two Os INIT – Rondo. I believe it had a grapefruit flavor. Lightly carbonated to “slam it down fast”. Now how do I remember that one?

This one took plenty of time to figure out. At least it wasn’t an OLDGAG (like 4 letters in a square).

Diana,LIW 1:11 PM  

007 here. As soon as I got the "OO" joke, I realized that I'd be getting little help from those answers. Filling them in fulfilled that promise.

I was wondering if I should continue with this torture when I glanced at the author's name. Then I came here immediately.

I approach Thursdays with lots of hope and lots of trepidation. Trepitation won. Haven't even cared enough yet to read about the "solve/answer." About as funny as "WICK.' Hardy har har har har.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 1:14 PM  

Brew-tal! I'm staring at OOJL [S or T] CL_ and wondering wha??? ILLBET a lot of folks DNF'ed this one. I very nearly joined 'em. When the light finally switched on? When my bit of neckwear ceased being a TIE and became a BIB. Oh, so if the...OH! OO! BUBBLES! That was an aha! moment for the AGES.

The cleverness of this idea knows no bounds. The defect of having no O's in CHAMPAGNE, so that it just sits there by itself, is the only chink in this puzzle's considerable armor.

As to the FILL (at last I can cap the word 'cause it's in the puz!), I balk at ALMA, that famous (??????) college town. Man, that is Desperate with a capital D.

I did manage to finish this, but felt more lucky than good. Triumph points by the bushel. Guess I had just enough RAWDATA to get it done. Sorry, Ms. Wardrobe Malfunction, but today's DOD is JANET Leigh--before she hit the shower. Birdie.

Diana,LIW 1:24 PM  

'K I looked up the answer. The OOs rise to the top. 'K I don't hate it as much as I did. Not as much...

Lady Di

5wksltr 2:04 PM  

Loved this puzzle. It took forever to figure out, which was fine by me, and Rex's commentary was hilarious. I rarely question clues but describing Calvin as an imp seems wildly understated.

leftcoastTAM 4:02 PM  

Theme was lost on me, and I INIT. (BTW, INIT is "Part of a competition"? Hmm.... ) Some of the FILL and clues didn't help matters. ANDSO, I gave up.

But, as Arnie says, I'll be back.

rainforest 6:27 PM  

I did this in two sessions; once before my grandson babysitting session, and one after, just finishing now. And I did finish, once I decided that dDAY was incorrect, and because I, a Canadian, have heard of Michael Bennet. Also a BDAY is annually celebrated while DDAY seems to be memorialized in years divisible by ten.

When I saw the constructor's name, I *knew* @Rex would have a hernia. Was I right? The bias of his blog is just so, so evident.

In my first session, I realized the Os at the beginning of the theme answers were key to the solve. It was during the second session that, like @Spacey, BIB cleared up almost everything, and I thus found the theme and its revealer outstanding. The FILL was at least serviceable, and at most excellent.

I had (two) good times with this puzzle.

thefogman 8:22 PM  

Rondo. The thirst crusher.

centralscrewtinizer 12:24 AM  

No genius award here. Got everything but the twelve squares in mid-south.
TwiT got me to set from box, but wanted woeS. Saw cooler as a possibility but could not make it work.
My WICK guttered and I gave up. ALMA looked stupid. Just a slog to even get that close.

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