Sanity Clause / TUE 7-24-18 / Caesar's assassins / Thick Japanese noodle / Friday 13th New Beginning / Cuisine tom yum soup / McCarthy aide Roy / Need You Tonight

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Constructor: Jonathan Kaye

Relative difficulty: 6:12

THEME: DNA — If you solve in the app (iOS or web), there's an animated [58A: Shape of 7-Down]: DOUBLE HELIX at [7D: When the ends of each of its letters are connected to those above and below, a simplified schematic of a famous structure]: {see screenshot above, which doesn't do it justice, and I can't figure out how to embed a gif in a Blogger post}

Word of the Day: DORA (58D: Picasso muse ___ Maar) —
Maar, whose real name was Theodora Markovic, was born in Tours, France, on Nov. 22, 1907, and spent her childhood in Argentina, where her father, a foreign-born architect, was working. Arriving in Paris around 1925, the beautiful dark-haired young woman was drawn into the world of photography, first as a model for Man Ray and others and then as a photographer.
     In the 1930's, with Andre Breton and Georges Bataille urging her into the Surrealist movement and encouraging her to paint, she joined the Union of Intellectuals Against Fascism and was active in other anti-Fascist groups. After meeting Picasso, she helped him set up his studio at 7 Rue des Grands-Augustins, where in 1937 he painted ''Guernica,'' a process she recorded in photographs. [New York Times obituary, 26 July 1997]
• • •
As I'm writing this, the animated DOUBLE HELIX at 7D is twisting gently in the grid on my iPad. This is a fantastic use of technology to enhance the solving experience, and I'm curious if this was something that the constructor had in mind when he constructed the puzzle, or if that feature was developed later. [Update: A twitter exchange just confirmed that he did not, and the feature was added to the web- and app-based solving interfaces by the tech team.] We've seen other gimmick-y puzzles from this constructor before (I remember liking a "hook" puzzle that used the letter J a couple years ago), all on Thursdays -- so it's interesting to find this one on a Tuesday; it had a Thursday "feel" (though I didn't solve in a Thursday time).

Theme answers:
  • [20A: What 7-Down is]: BIOCHEMICAL
  • [58A: Shape of 7-Down]: DOUBLE HELIX
  • [11D: Creatures with 23 pairs of 25-Down]: HUMAN BEINGS
  • [25D: Genetic bundles]: CHROMOSOMES
  • [66D: Subject of this puzzle]: DNA
One would expect the fill to suffer in order to get that 15-letter center entry of Hs and Xs -- but I don't think the entries that intersect 7-Down are out of the ordinary for a Tuesday. Maybe [62A: McCarthy aide Roy]: COHN is not so well known if you haven't seen Angels in America eleventy-billion times. Elsewhere, Word of the Day [58D: Picasso muse ___ Maar]: DORA is some varsity-level art history trivia. (I keep looking back at that rotating DOUBLE HELIX. That is just so cool.) I'm not crazy about [5D: Lucy Ricardo, to Ricky]: TV WIFE; do we think of TV HUSBANDs? Maybe I've seen TVDAD or TVMOM. Also, there is an abundance (and by abundance I mean more than one) of acronyms for government and other agencies: CDC, OSHA, NLRB, AFLCIO. Ugh, DITS. I diss DITS. And you've got your common fill beginning with E: your EPEES and your EONS and your ELAL and your EOS and your EXPO and, hey, [54D: Jazzman Blake]: EUBIE! We don't see him as much in grids, so why don't we have him sing us out:

Signed, Laura, Sorceress of CrossWorld
[Follow Laura on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


TomAz 12:13 AM  

If I were going to 'draw' a double helix with letters it would be HXHXHXHXHXH. As drawn in the puzzle, the doubling of the Hs created odd stretches of straightness interrupted by a sudden twist. But a helix is constantly curving with no straights.

I could say this 'error' threw me off my game, but, ha, it's after-the-fact justification for a Wednesday solving time on a Tuesday. Here's another: two metaphors meaning 'gossip' is about 1.9 more than I can tolerate in a puzzle.

BSA is fairly clued, but just barely: Boy Scouts have troops, not dens. Cub Scouts have dens. But Cub Scouts are part of Boy Scouts of America. In my day Cub Scouts had den "mothers" and Boy Scouts had troop "leaders" who were always men. As if, a boy is not fit to be supervised by a man until he reaches a certain age, roughly puberty or a year or so before. Explain this one Dr Freud.

In all, Not On My Wavelength. I did like the clue for GANGES, though.

Harryp 12:30 AM  

T_WIFE was my last fill, and I had to run the alphabet to get the V! Unbelievably dense of me. Over average due to that brain freeze.

Maxine Nerdström 12:50 AM  

i don’t think “TVWIFE” is sexist so much as just poor cluing for these characters, given the actors were married to each other. Amy Reynoldo suggested “Julie Burroughs to Ty Burrell, on Modern Family,” and I have to agree that would be a much better clue.

i liked the GIF feature and agree it’s neat to see. but the clue for that answer was convoluted and overall i felt this played much harder than a typical Tuesday.

puzzlehoarder 12:53 AM  

Nice graphic. It made up for the inordinate amount of time I spent getting to it. This took as much time as that last easy Friday.

One of my more interesting misconceptions was reading the word 'muse' as being a foreign word for museum. This would make 58D part of a title for some obscure Picasso museum. I was thinking DE LA. Another problem in that area was being certain that 25D was spelled CHROMOSONE. I've only thought this my entire adult life.

That area wasn't the only rabbit hole I went down but it was the best. All in all the corrections I had make cost me an extra 10 minutes but it was a fun 10 minutes.

Larry Gilstrap 1:04 AM  

When DNA was discovered, it was in all the papers. Magazine covers featured images of the DOUBLE HELIX. I definitely admire the graphic representation spanning the center of the grid. I don't claim to even begin to understand the science. HUMAN BEINGS display characteristic traits, some genetic and some environmental. Get it right!

My local M-W solver voiced some complaints about that whole NLRB/SERF/EUBIE mash-up, but in time it will come. Something about too much for a Tuesday, expressed more cleverly, of course.

Laura, we hashed out the TV WIFE thing here a few moons ago, but in that case it was Laura Petrie, from the Dick Van Dyke Show. I'll reiterate my point: they slept in twin beds. Had she been anybody's real-life wife, including yours truly, the TV husband's bed would have been superfluous. Same with Lucy.

I saw Angels in America once in the 90s. The production was staged at a theater in Hollywood with curtain at 11 am. With two dinner breaks, the show was over about 10 pm. Exhausting and frustrating, it was a magical marathon theater experience. Roy COHN pretty much sold out a whole generation by willfully ignoring a virulent threat. If you ever have the urge and the opportunity to experience the play in real time, do it!

Anybody see Orion lately? Me neither.

Stanley Hudson 2:23 AM  

Nice write up Laura.

jae 2:26 AM  

Medium-tough. I am not usually fond of excessive cross referencing but this was pretty clever. Liked it.

@ Laura - Kaye said on Xwordinfo that he had Thursday in mind when he created this one.

Greg Charles 3:01 AM  

The animation sounds cool. I wish it appeared on my iPad!

chefwen 3:03 AM  

Interesting and delightful puzzle. It took me a long time for the lightbulb to go on but when it did I was on a roll. It was also very helpful, as it reminded me to add Kauai SALSA to my shopping list. Best stuff ever!

Am I imagining things or has EOS become very popular lately?

Dirt before CHAT at 6A, dice before AXLE at 15A and wish before HOPE were my write overs and they got fixed as soon as I got a hold of the DNA string.

Anonymous 3:14 AM  

The fill was blah but I'm willing to overlook that since theme density and execution were great. I'm more annoyed at some of the cluing. Is there really not a TV WIFE more recent than Lucy Ricardo? Isn't there a popular explorer named DORA?

Aketi 6:07 AM  

Wow 12 Hs and 8 Xs. Got the H part of the HELIX quickly but AXLE showed me the twist.

Jon Alexander 6:08 AM  

Interesting puzzle...played a lot more difficult for me with some head scratching at the Xs and Hs.

Anyway, to the nitpicking of the theme - Structurally, DNA has a major and minor groove in the double helix. Therefore the HH repeating after the Xs should actually alternate between HH and H (or some greater number of Hs other than two although visually it would probably not work in a 15 grid)





obviously that would change the symmetry of the theme answers and, thus, the grid, but if if this were the centerpiece of my theme I'd get it right.

kitshef 6:12 AM  

Pretty good theme but did not justify all short bad fill: OSHA, NLRB, and CDC alone were too much. But then, I did not get the neat animation so maybe that would have offset things.

We’ve been through this before, but to me Lucy Ricardo was Ricky’s wife. Lucille Ball was Desi’s TV WIFE (and his WIFE).

Hungry Mother 6:35 AM  

Simple enough, but not much joy in the solve. I do enjoy using analysis of my DNA to discover relationships in my geneology.

abalani500 6:40 AM  

Pretty pathetic puzzle IMHO. The gimmick is fine I guess but ten(!) acronyms and/or abbreviations - that’s one eighth of the puzzle. Made it a not-fun solve

Lewis 6:41 AM  

The "muse" in the DORA clue reminded me of Loren, whose wit I miss but who I am hoping is having a terrific time on her vacation. And CASCA reminded me of Casco Kid, whose brilliance I miss, and who I hope returns to the fold.

Wow, 62 squares devoted to the theme! Jonathan did a great job making this come out as clean fill-wise as it did. That might account for the eight acronyms I counted. The theme also padded the H's and X's, 14 and 8 as I counted (I think you missed two H's @aketi). For some reason my brain is parsing REAPED as RE-APED ("Imitated again").

I like the out-of-boxness of the theme as well as how engaged it kept me, and the lovely clues for STRAW and EONS. I don't know what to expect next from Jonathan, as his puzzles come from different angles, and so I greatly look forward to his next offering.

The Bard 6:57 AM  

Julius Caesar, Act III, scene I

CASCA: Speak, hands for me!

[CASCA first, then the other Conspirators and

CAESAR: Et tu, Brute! Then fall, Caesar.

Julius Caesar, Act V, scene I

ANTONY: Villains, you did not so, when your vile daggers
Hack'd one another in the sides of Caesar:
You show'd your teeth like apes, and fawn'd like hounds,
And bow'd like bondmen, kissing Caesar's feet;
Whilst damned Casca, like a cur, behind
Struck Caesar on the neck.
O you flatterers!

smalltowndoc 7:06 AM  

Why does the animation not appear in my ipad NYT xword app?

kodak jenkins 7:09 AM  

Not worth the pain!

I'm opposed to gimmicks like 7 down--answers that aren't actual words-- but once I figured out it was all Xs and H's it helped me fill out the grid. There were just too many acronyms all clustered together, in the SW corner. Everywhere I turned, boxed in by acronyms! And government acronyms, yuck!

CDC NLRB AFLCIO OSHA mixed in with fill like EUBIE (I listen to jazz piano all the time but Mr. Blake is only vaguely familiar) COHN (thought JOHN might work) DORA (but glad to learn some Picasso history rather than Dora the Explorer again) DREI (German is Wednesday material!) and you've got me screaming "NOT A TUESDAY!".

I almost didn't finish and my time said solid Wednesday.

crackblind 7:18 AM  

This puzzle went very much like a Thursday for me, including the time.

Boy was I glad to see EUBIE Blake in it though. I've been a fan since I lived in Baltimore XXX years ago (I ain't doing to the true time cause there's no way I'm that old). Back in college I bought a CD of what I thought were cleaned up recordings. Man did they sound great. Then, after a more careful reading of the liner notes (remember those? Crap, I just dated myself again), it turned out they were recordings of cleaned up Piano Rolls he had cut. Someone stuck a microphone next to a player piano (albeit one playing piano rolls that we made by Blake himself) and recorded a player piano. I still don't know how to take that but I do still listen to that CD pretty often (& there's the third time I've done it).

Regarding Roy COHN, not only was he a despicable man, he has been in the news a bit lately as he was a mentor to the man whose name I refuse to type, so I think he's a bit more relevant recently than just for Angels in America.

michiganman 7:23 AM  

This is not a very good puzzle. Some poor cluing and 7D is too clever by half and just awful. But, it was a good challenge and could have been a nice puzzle.

Why a "?" on lips? a misdirect that there's a misdirect when there is none?

On all of my shoes the HEEL is on the bottom.

Lucy Ricardo was Desi's TVWIFE. In the show Lucy was simply Ricky's wife.

Two gossip clues?

RavTom 7:35 AM  

Oddly, the animation doesn’t appear in my print edition.

Unknown 7:57 AM  

I liked the puzzle and the surprise spinny spiral at the end. Enjoyed fill such as CHICO MARX, Roy COHN (Trump’s mentor) & clever clueing for GANGES. Two gossip clues! No reason for that ever. Took me a tiny bit more thank you a usual Tuesday, which is to say two Laura’s.

FLAC 8:06 AM  

Concept: A+; execution B-. Call me a Luddite, but I kinda felt like the gimmick dissed us paper solvers.

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

Roy Cohn was very famous. I’ve never seen Angels in America. Was looking for Watson and Crick.

Mickey Bell 8:12 AM  

Did the animation not work for people? I did it on my iPhone app—no animation.

Birchbark 8:14 AM  

@Harryp (12:30) -- I ran the alphabet at the "V" on TV WIFE as well. Goofy.

AOXOMOXOA is a decent Grateful Dead album. It includes "China Cat Sunflower" (often played live out of "I Know You Rider") and "St. Stephen." Not sure what made me think of that -- maybe the animation.

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

Any union factory workers here, show of hands? Even if technology disappeared and someone brought back some of those jobs, the NLRB in its current configuration has only begun to strike down those union friendly decisions that the Obama board handed down, and the reception will be chilly. The NLRB, set up by Roosevelt to protect the right to organize, currently on a different mission.

Loved seeing it a puzzle though. That's as much attention as the NY Times has given it.

flminivanmama 8:24 AM  

I have the latest version of the app and the animation didn’t work... I feel totally cheated

pabloinnh 8:32 AM  

Way too long here for TVWIFE, was thinking possibly TAWIFE, imagining Ricky's wonderful accent (Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do!). Serves me right for stereotyping.

No delightful twisting helix on my sheet of paper, alas. I'll try it manually.

Also am happy to describe this as a stunt puzzle, just because I like the term
"stunt puzzle". Pretty impressive concept and execution.

Suzie Q 8:33 AM  

I guess I'm feeling crabby today.
Do I have to read a friggin' novel to get the reveal?
All of those acronyms and cross-references?
Yuck. Besides, this is a newspaper after all.
Am I supposed to applaud a gimmick that doesn't work on paper?

My only joy was noticing that Eubie is one of those names, like Elsie the other day, that is two letters if said out loud.
Some days I really have to dig deep to amuse myself.

Unknown 8:37 AM  

This was a fun puzzle and the animation also works on Android.

SJ Austin 8:44 AM  

This. Was. Not. A. Tuesday. Puzzle.

I think I'd have liked this just fine, even enjoyed it, if it were Thursday. As it was, I was looking for a breezy 10-minute solve to get my vacation Tuesday off to a pleasant start before jumping in the lake. And then it took two-and-a-half times longer than my average Tuesday time and included a 15-letter non-word that…

Eh, never mind. I'm gonna finish my now-cold coffee and then go jump in the lake and forget about this.

pmdm 8:46 AM  

Laura: Perhaps you need to use one of the various free Aps to convert a GIF file to another format (like MP4) [for example, CloudConvert]. I suppose it would have been worth it for hard-copy solvers who read this blog.

Ginny 8:49 AM  

This was so fun, the most I've had on a Tuesday puzzle for a while. I didn't mind the necessary gluey bits at all, especially with Tuesday clues. Why should those of us who are full week solvers be the only ones who get to seesee imaginat themes? And I thought this was fun even before the animation showed up for me. Bravo!

Jon in Saint Paul, MN 8:54 AM  

Yep on TVWIFE.

Wm. C. 8:56 AM  

Unusually difficult for me, for a Tuesday. Although that's usually good, since most Tuesday's don't challenge me enough.

Since I never took a biology course (cringed at the idea of dissecting a frog in HS), I couldn't connect the fill to the clues (except for DoubleHelix and HumanBeing, after a few cross-letters were filled) until MOST of the cross-letters appeared. Didn't get the HX conceit until almost the end.

Anyway, an interesting combination of enjoyment and frustration today. Very unusual for me.

Nate 9:03 AM  

My app updated last night; it’s got a few new “close but no cigar” messages for a mis-fill now as well.

That might be related.

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

Ty Burrell’s wife on Modern Family isnplayed by Julie Bowen, not Burroughs.

Rabbi Sharon Ballan 9:16 AM  

The younger scouts— cub scouts do indeed have dens. My mom was a “den mother.”

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

Most likely you need to turn on “Show Overlays” in settings

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

As the theme came slowly into view, I got liberal with sprinkling X's all over the grid, which created a number of misdirects. For example, as a non-Harry Potter devotee, I had no idea how many play Quidditch so guessed SExTET at 33D which, not coincidentally, supported xoxo for 43A (pair for kissing).

I'll be seeing stray Hs and Xs all around me for the next several hours.

HARD puzzle, well over average.

Andrea 9:21 AM  

No animation on my iPhone (where I did see the Pride flag colors!). I too feel cheated.
Also, where’s Watson and Creek?

Melissa 9:22 AM  

Roy Cohn is not an obscure personage! Important in the development of Donald Trump. (Dora Maar is also well known if you’ve been to any modern art museum.) no animation in my puzzle��

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

Try turning on Show Overlays in settings.

Nancy 9:30 AM  

First of all, I didn't draw the double helix because I really didn't know how. I did have all the Xs and Hs, though, so there's that. But should I tell you about my highly unusual DNF today -- a really, really epic fail caused by an idee fixe that I just couldn't shake? Or should I take it with me to the grave?

Aw, shucks, we're friends. I trust you not to laugh. Too hard. Here goes:

I had T(HE) WIFE for Lucy at 5D. And I had PART X for Friday the 13th at 14A. Giving me a "rebus" square that was one-half "HE" and one half "X". Put them together, and maybe you have a DOUBLE HELIX? Maybe that's how you write it? As in HEliX? Yes? No?

It did trouble me that there was no other rebus square in the puzzle. But I stuck stubbornly with my answer and never thought to change it. Never once thought of TV WIFE. Never once thought of PART V. I would call this my dumbest DNF of the year. Dumber than anything Lucy Ricardo ever did.

Asmazz 9:33 AM  

Curious to know which app has the animation effect mentioned. Not sure it would have made this experience worth it anyway. But then again if puzzles allow a short 'XOX' or 'XII' as an answer, I guess a long string of Hs and Xs is just as legit.
I solve on NYTimes app on my very old iPad that can't be updated past 9.3. I am guessing that's my animation issue.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

A puzzle whose theme is DOUBLE HELIX and you can’t figure out how to shoehorn a reference to a certain “1970s Steely Dan Grammy winning album and song of the same name” into this grid? It’s like you’re not even trying!

Z 9:40 AM  

Apropos of nothing, anyone else suddenly thinking of the Tech Support acronym PICNIC?

nyc_lo 9:48 AM  

Somewhere between a Wednesday/Thursday time for me. Definitely gave my Tuesday brain a workout. Only gripe was “Gossip, e.g.” clue for CHAT. Most chats I’ve had don’t involve gossip, but maybe that’s just me.

Uncle Alvarez 9:48 AM  

That IS pretty damn dumb.

Generic Solver 9:51 AM  

The puzzle felt too difficult for a Tuesday, and indeed, if you read the constructor's notes at, it was intended to be a Thursday puzzle, but the editors "dumbed down" the clues to make it a Tuesday. Regardless of how difficult the clues ended up being, the whole concept of the DNA chain in a Tuesday puzzle and its accompanying very long clue is way too much noise to expect a Tuesday solver to deal with (imo).

Suzie Q 9:54 AM  

The comment by Anon 9:18 about seeing Xs and Hs all day now reminded me of something I learned recently. You know how it is when you hear something new and then encounter it again within a short time? Sometimes many times. It always surprises me. Like if you buy a VW and then it seems like everywhere you go you see VWs. Well, that has a name.
Baader-Meinhoff. The other name is frequency illusion. I'm sure some of you geniuses know this but it was new to me. The name, that is, not the situation. It seems to happen a lot.
Sorry to babble. I blame the coffee.

QuasiMojo 9:55 AM  

This is a good example of why themed puzzles are ruining the NYT crossword. Dreadful fill (TV WIFE? REHEEL??) mixed with stale answers (EPEE, EONS, APOP, etc.) add up to a not very satisfying waste of time. So what if there's a double helix running through your app? I don't need to see bells and whistles in order to be amused. I can imagine one.

Perhaps I'm just crabby because, like @Nancy, I had a stupid DNF. I had SOXER instead of SIXER. (DOTS vs. DITS.) What do I know from basketball?

Nice write-up as usual, Laura. (Although hands-up for thinking Roy Cohn is VERY timely these days, and oft-cited on the nightly news.)

I just hope we can keep the political rants out of the blog today. It's getting even more boring than the tortured, silly themed puzzles.

Hey 19 9:57 AM  

Rikki don’t smoke that number.

GILL I. 10:05 AM  

This entire puzzle felt like it was constructed for the sole purpose of screwing me up and delighting the author.
CDC NLRB AFLCIO ADHD BSA and DNA can go away. Yes....
My only smile was seeing DORA Maar. Such a sad figure in her prime. Picasso was awful to her but then he was awful to lots of people that seemed to adore him. She had to keep her affair a secret; he insisted it would be for the best. She was beautiful and a very talented photographer. He convinced her to take up painting instead....He laughed all the way to Guernica fame as she hid in a Paris attic.
@pablo. I never did enter TV WIFE because like every one else, no letter made sense. I did think maybe in his funny accent he would refer to Lucy as TA WIFE. LUUUUUUCY...I'm home.

RooMonster 10:05 AM  

Hey All !
Well I thought this was a tremendous puzzle! Wow. Getting the DOUBLE HELIX down (which wouldn't have been oriented correctly had it been Across, btw) with H's and X's was brilliant. I took the HHX's as the DOUBLE parts of the DNA. Can you see it? DOUBLE HELIX=HHX.

And then when I finished puz, Bam! The H's and X's connected and began spinning! Holy FLAX! Way cool. Best TuesPuz yet.

Fill was clean enough with all the constraints put on puz. Consider this, both the Across and Down themers couldn't be moved around, because then the letters where they intersected wouldn't have lined up. So they were set in puz, along with that 15 Down. So when you get some Abbrs. like we have, hell, I don't even blink at them. Every puz has dreck, this one was worth it. And by all accounts, wasn't even that bad. So there.

I know @Loren would've loved this. I did my best enthusiastic homage to her. I know, not even close!


'merican in Riyadh 10:07 AM  

My DOUBLE HELIX didn't display either. Oh well. Must be the GHOST in the machine.

I liked this puzzle, very much. Judging by the fact that it took me almost exactly my normal Tuesday time, I wouldn't call it deserving of a Wednesday. As somebody already said, the fill (apart from INXS) is pretty clean around the central molecule. Bravo, Mr. Kaye!

The puzzle did play a bit old, nonetheless. Please don't accuse me of being a Groucho -- indeed, I'm a big fan of CHICO MARX -- but he and Roy COHN are no longer exactly household names.

And yes, we've been seeing a lot of EOS lately.

I'm typing this in an air-conditioned room looking out at a courtyard where the temperature is 41C (106 F) in the shade -- even at sun-down. More than hot enough to melt WAX.

P.S., Hands up also for running through every letter in the alphabet before getting the "V" in TV WIFE.

Unknown 10:14 AM  

Turning on Show Overlays doesn't help. No animation on an iPadAir and latest software.

Phipps44 10:16 AM  

I must agree with you about Eubie Blake, he was an American treasure. I His appearance on Marion McPartland's Piano Jazz in 1980 is fantastic.

Ethan Taliesin 10:17 AM  

I think the double helix normally makes one revolution at around 10 base pairs, but the more x's the better, I say.

jberg 10:24 AM  

I liked it too, but then my wife's a biochemist. I was reading about DORA Maar's art somewhere recently, but I can't find it now, so I can't put up a link.

Two observations: 1) ODEA, a Greek plural of the much better known ODEON (bit movie theatre chain in the UK), is really reaching. 2) I'm glad to see that I/m not the only one who didn't know which Friday the Thirteenth part this was from the subtitle. But everybody running the alphabet -- you only have to run 3 letters, since there haven't been L of those things.

Who's Yr Mama? Rosalind 10:25 AM  

For the life of me, as a feminist, I cannot understand how TVWIFE is sexist. A more recent example would have been nice, but ??? Bigger fish to fry than that one.

Here's some real sexism this puzzle brings to mind (I'll just paste it in and you can look it up). Eventually some scientist is going to weigh in today:

"It's commonly believed that James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double helix shape of DNA. But in fact, they based their work on one of their colleagues at King's College in London - Rosalind Franklin, an x-ray diffraction expert whose images of DNA proteins in the early 1950s revealed a helix shape."

She's in the textbooks finally.

JC66 10:31 AM  


I had no problem with 62A (COHN), it's my last name.

jb129 11:14 AM  

Can't match your time, Laura, but I miss Rex's descriptions of the Difficulty (easy, medium, challenging,etc.)

Unknown 11:16 AM  

Can someone please explain how the “new” difficulty rating translates to the old one? I’m a newbie so please don’t be vicious.

ArtO 11:19 AM  

Great construction but definitely not fun to solve. Wed/Thurs time to solve.

Thanks, Laura for the EUBIE Blake clip. What a talent. Don't make 'em like that any more.

JC66 11:22 AM  

@John English

The guest blogger, @Laura, is posting her time with no "Difficulty Rating."

Kendall 11:25 AM  

By far the hardest Tuesday I think I've ever solved. I agree that the crosses through the middle weren't bad, but the entire rest of the puzzle seemed to suffer. How many abbreviations or acronyms before it's just not fun anymore? I feel like this puzzle found the answer. That SW corner in particular is nowhere close to Tuesday level difficulty.

All complaints aside, kudos to the tech team that made the graphic. It's really quite nice. I just wish the puzzle wasn't so filled with junk to get to it.

Joseph Michael 11:28 AM  

Science lesson!

Tough Tuesday with a lot of acronyms, proper nouns, and crosswordese. But the theme was cool even though there was no animation happening on my print out. Eight Xs!!!

Especially liked the definition of HUMAN BEINGS as creatures with 23 pairs of something. Imelda Marcus came to mind first until I realized we were talking not shoes but CHROMOSOMES.

The clue for 5D does seem off since Lucy and Ricky Ricardo didn’t know they were on TV. Only Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz knew that.

Thought for the day: if a male jerk is an ASS, a female jerk would be an ASSESS.

JC66 11:35 AM  

I do the puzzle in Across Lite, so no animation. Because of the comments here, I went to the NY Times' web site. redid the puzzle (much easier the second time around) and got the animation. Not worth the 5 minutes spent, IMHO.

Masked and Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Feisty TuesPuz, which is ok by m&e.

U'd think it would be a difficult constructioneerin feat, to fill the central areas around that there all-consonant HX-fest entry, which gets crossed by a couple other themers. Desperation promises to ensue, there'bouts. As in: ADHD. DITS. ODEA. OLLAS.
Not too bad, tho, considerin all the constraints.

staff weeject pick: STS. Plural abbr meat.
fave fillins: CHICO+MARX. GANGES. ARMADA. Not a lotta longball stuff, up or down, other than the themers. Dominant genes!


Thanx for the tough CHEW, Mr. Kaye. Happy b-day today, to everybody in the math club.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Anonymous 11:38 AM  

I was waiting for you to show up. Rex would've been all over you so to speak.)
Everyone wants to rewrite history these days and make a woman the heroine. Feel free, old girl but do so at your own error.
you might want to tell the folks about your pal Maurice Wilkins. you know, the guy in your lab who did at least as much as you. more most reasonable souls say. You remember right? He's the guy that won the Nobel prize for physiology/medicine in 52 with Watson and Crick.

Oh, and Roy Cohn is not obscure. Way before aids there was the scourge of McCarthy and Roy was spang in the middle of that mess.

jb129 11:42 AM  

Yeah, Laura, can you please post it a "Difficulty" rating instead of your time? It kinda sounds self-serving.

This was an unpleasant experience for me all in all. I guess I will stay away from this constructor when I see him & not look for a Difficulty Rating until Rex is back. Put me in a bad mood.

CDilly52 11:46 AM  

AMEN (said the dyed-in-the-wool-paper-is-the-only-“real”-way-to-do-crosswords-obviously-biased-old-solver).

jb129 11:59 AM  

CDilly52 @ 11:46 AM - thank you! I am a paper solver too. Love opening it up & folding it!

Rex, come home!

Malsdemare 12:04 PM  

I'm pollyanna; I thought it was fun even though I didn't get the spinning DOUBLEHELIX. I have no problem with TVWIFE and caught it early; I think we had that same clue fairly recently. It took me a long time to get CHICO; I had no idea who CHI— was until I got MARX. I turned on Show overlays but still no animation. Perhaps it only happens when you solve, not as a post-solve experience. Maybe I'll erase everything and try it again for the sheer joy of seeing the rotation.

I had my DNA done in hopes of finding my rapscallion grandfather; no dice. I knew it was a long-shot, me being a girl and all. I was just hoping maybe he had a daughter after he abandoned my grandmother, and that daughter had HER DNA done. Or that he had a sister and. . . . Well, if all that happened, she isn't in any of the genie banks. He is still MIA.

@Larry Gilstrap. Orion is a winter only constellation. According to my Navajo friends, coyote stories can only be told when Orion is in the sky.

John Hoffman 12:19 PM  

Is there a GIF version somewhere of the moving Helix? Id like to put it on Facebook.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

To anyone feeling cheated by not seeing the animation: You didn't miss much.

Colby 12:44 PM  

As others have mentioned, this was challenging for a Tuesday (but perhaps too easy for a Thursday?). CASCA is an uncharacteristically difficult Tuesday answer.

Teedmn 1:02 PM  

Hah, it wasn't until many of the H's and X's filled in that I began to realize that 7D was a graphic of a DOUBLE HELIX in the grid. I got bored in the middle of reading the 7D clue and decided to ignore it. But overall, I liked the puzzle and its DNA-related clues.

I did not know why so many stations are named UNION, now I do, though no thanks to the puzzle clue. Google tells me a UNION station is a station where tracks and other facilities are owned by two or more separate railway companies. I had no idea, previously.

Are XMEN HUMAN BEINGS? Seems like that question forms the basis of most of the XMEN movie plots.

Nice job, Johnathan Kaye.

Charley 1:38 PM  

I have the app on my IPad and there was no animation.
Thought this puzzle was odd for a Tuesday.

Lindsay 2:01 PM  

Slogged through this one tiredly until the genetic answers started revealing a 'link', and admit to being thrilled, as a lover of molecular biology, when 7 down began to shimmy back and forth - I solved on my laptop via the NYT online link. DNF due to some mistakes I see others also made (TAWIFE, IDEA) even after four Googles to try to get back in the game. Agree this was not a typical Tuesday.

John Hoffman 2:22 PM  

Hello Laura: I think that it's useful to post the difficulty level. Just posting your time isn't useful for me. You're a super-star solver (which is great), so 10 minutes is often a long time for you. For me, I rarely finish any puzzle under 10 minutes, even Mondays! So your opinion on the relative difficulty is useful. It's the first thing I look for on Rex's review blog.

Bob Mills 3:01 PM  

Sometime I solve the puzzle, and understand the theme after I'm finished. This time, I solved the puzzle, and I still don't understand the theme. Is that good or bad?

foxaroni 3:06 PM  

To me, Rex's "difficulty" ratings are interesting, but that's all. There are so many times I have struggled mightily, usually with a DNF, only to find Rex has rated it "easy." Very rarely, I've breezed through when Rex said the puzzle was "challenging."

Today's puzzle was extremely enjoyable. And we live in a world of acronyms. If you don't recognize AFL-CIO, BSA, CDC, NLRB, OSHA,, you have isolated yourself somehow from life. I don'the recall after reading the comments, but one of the TLAs (three-letter acronyms--or FLA, four-letter) was DNA. Is that objectionable, too?

I guess what I'm suggesting is to relax, enjoy the puzzle for what it is--an enjoyable, brain-stimulating diversion for a few minutes out of your day--and thank the puzzle creator for his or her efforts putting it together. (Puzzle creation is certainly something I can't begin to do).

Thanks, Jonathan! And @LMS, come home. All is Forgiven! ☺

Pdxrains 3:21 PM  

Animation didn’t work for me. Perhaps you have to update the app first? I despise constantly updating software.

JC66 3:26 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
tea73 3:36 PM  

I don't care if the original write up includes the time or a difficulty rating, though I am occasionally amused when Rex finds something difficult and I find it easy. Usually though he rants about stuff he didn't know, but still fills the thing in three times as fast as I do. For what it's worth I took twice as long as Laura, which was a bit faster than my average for Tuesday.

I do the puzzle on a laptop with the NYT app. Animated nicely though only after I turned off the congratulations message while I was still wondering why X's and H's were running down the screen instead of DNA base pairs (A-T, C-G).

I figured out TVWIFE after TVMom obviously wasn't going to fit. What was the kid's name anyway?

JC66 3:42 PM  

Ricky Jr. ?

Banana Diaquiri 3:52 PM  

OK. so am I the only one to solve in dead-tree form who figured that, to quote Eliot "like a patient etherized upon a table", the helix would be steamrolled into just H-s? don't laugh at me, I'm a college graduate snowflake from the North.

Anonymous 5:01 PM  

Always referred to as "Little Ricky".

Malsdemare 5:04 PM  

In the "for what it’s worth" department, i turned on Overlays, cleared the puzzle, redid it, got the music, and NO spinning double helix. I'm so bummed.

rivivieri 5:09 PM  

Exactly what stopped me, and maybe I should have.

Anonymous 5:18 PM  

So.....I work at Cold Spring Harbor Lab and did the puzzle at lunch today, sitting outside of a cafe. Jim Watson came over and sat next to me to look at a new art installation that the lab bought when he sold his Nobel prize. We talked for a few minutes and I showed him the puzzle on my phone. He wasn't too impressed but I don't think he's much of a crossword guy anyways.

Weird how that happened today, I haven't said more than two words to him in the 10 years I've been here.

Joe Bleaux 6:20 PM  

But for what it's worth, you're not alone, Cdilly, Cdilly.

Joe 6:21 PM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. I thought the double helix was cool, and I don’t think Roy COHN should be hard for anyone, since he served not only as the attack dog for Joe McCarthy but also as a mentor for the current president. Given that, I liked the emphasis on labor groups (AFLCIO, OSHA, UNION) as well as science. This is one of my recent favorites.

Joe Bleaux 6:43 PM  

Thank you! It's not fair to make us veterans -- who confidently take ink to paper every day -- feel left out because we eschew some neato screen trick. (And only a hypocrite can give me any shit about "neato.")

retired guy 11:22 PM  

For the record, Roy Cohn was chief counsel for Sen. Joe McCarthy, a position that Bobby Kennedy wanted. Kennedy had to settle for the assistant counsel position.

Unknown 12:26 AM  

Same! I was stuck thinking it might’ve been something in Spanish. Tu wife? This puzzle was harder than it should’ve been

sanfranman59 1:03 AM  

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 3:40 4:30 0.82 4.8% Very Easy
Tue 7:28 5:14 1.43 95.2% Very Challenging

A Wednesday solve time.

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Very cool story. After meeting Watson after a talk he gave at my son's school 10+ years ago, I'd venture to say that he could use a little joue de vivre....

Yrhumble 9:29 PM  

Thank you,Laura, for the Eubie concert. What verve, precision, sparkle, heart & soul. He looked like a million bucks.
Not that many nonagenarians have that kind of virtuoso skill still going strong or that kind of presence.
I kept him for the whole session you posted and then found more. Many thanks. Helped soothe the pain of
the Thursday puzzle attack on Tuesday.

Unknown 5:50 AM  

Did not work for me either, and I have show overlays turned on. ??

Burma Shave 8:52 AM  


She'd TEAMUP with her TVWIFE Gabrielle,
a CASE of HUMANBEINGS dressed in leather and FLAX.
ORR was it the SHEA butter after XENA would WAX?


thefogman 10:19 AM  

I could see the pattern upon completion but was trying to connect all the H's and X's outside of 7D in a failed attempt to find a bigger image. I did not realize the clue was confined to the interior of 7D until I came here. It forms a simple but effective graphic portrayal - which I saw but went outside of in search of something more.Got burned by 41A. Had SoXER instead of SiXER because of 37D (DiTS instead of DOTS). Great puzzle in spite of my gaffes.

spacecraft 10:20 AM  

Clever in the eXtreme--but what price cleverness? @Laura listed the acronyms that gum this baby up; here's two that ABUT: NLRB/AFLCIO. Who spilled the Scrabble letter bag?

Apparently the constructor figured: once they get a hold of the 7-down pattern it'll turn all those acrosses into gimmes, so I'll have to toughen up the clues. Ex: DORA, but not the explorer. I mean art aficionados will know Picasso's muse, but who else? This is NOT a Tuesday clue.

Also, I had a time getting into it, till I got going. I mean, CASCA is certainly a minor character in that story, just as CHIOCO is a minor MARX. And can someone please eXplain what "extended story line" has to do with ARC??? Well, at least I remembered Roy COHN.

Misplaced too early, IMO, this rated medium-challenging for the day. Theme density is off the charts--as the fill testifies. The cleverness to include all those theme-related terms, to say nothing of the structure itself--plus even that ending coda DNA--has to be applauded. It was just too much. Fill: bogey. Theme: eagle. So I guess...birdie. And let's give DORA Maar the DOD. Not that you could tell from the way HE painted her.

rondo 2:11 PM  

Obviously not a typical Tues-puz. And it has almost as many Xs, and more Hs, as three letter words. The way I've got it filled in 7d looks more like chicken scratches.

Any puz with a MARX brother in it is OK by me.

I circled yeah baby Lucy Lawless as XENA.

No write overs in a surprise Tuesday. Gotta go, this SERF's up.

leftcoastTAM 2:30 PM  

A toughened up Tuesday puzzle, with an early "aha" moment followed by a dogged but satisfying follow through. Loved the DNA theme.

The second C in CASCA was the last letter in--a BIOCHEMICAL reaction, I'd have to say.

DEvil before DEMON, and hUBIE before EUBIE.

First-rate Tuesday that would have been first-rate on Wednesday, too, and possibly Thursday.

leftcoastTAM 3:07 PM  

Bothered by LASH as a "component" of a cat-o-nine-tails. A lash is either the thing itself or what you do with the thing. How is it a "component"?

rainforest 3:37 PM  

Hard to not love this puzzle, especially for this former Chemistry teacher. I recall a group of students who constructed a simplified model of the DNA molecule using several sets of molecular model kits we were lucky enough to have.

Loved seeing CASCA in there because I love saying "CASCA".

The creative theme with the DNA bonus completely overwhelmed any animosity I might have had regarding the fill. Super fun today.

Notice that removing the H from COHN gives you CON.

rainforest 5:28 PM  

@lefty - cat-o'-nine tails are composed of nine LASHes.

leftcoastTAM 7:02 PM  

@rainforest -- So each of the nine tails is a lash? Hmmm.... Could be, bu not finding that in my M-W (unabridged).

fakt chekker 8:33 PM


1. the flexible part of a whip; the section of cord or the like forming the extremity of a whip.

2. a swift stroke or blow, with a whip or the like, given as a punishment:
He received 20 lashes.

3. something that goads or pains in a manner compared to that of a whip:
the lash of his sharp tongue.

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