Long Island airport town / THU 8-2-18 / 11-time All-Star Carlton / Cry aboard frigate / Home to TD Ameritrade / Space chimp of 1961

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Constructor: Xan Vongsathorn 

Relative difficulty: Easy (4:21)

[Stupid Across Lite wouldn't accept "T" so ... anywhere you see "HT," I had "T"]

THEME: COIN / FLIPS (65A: With 55-Down, actions that can be performed nine* times in this puzzle without affecting any of the clues?) — H (for heads) or T (for tails) can be entered in any of the circled squares and result in accurate answers (though you do have to make both circled squares the same letter in 10-Across, so you can't actually flip *9 times; you flip 8, because just one flip determines both those circled squares in 10-Across ...)

Theme answers:
  • FISH / HIT LIST // FIST / TITLIST (1D: Something at the end of the hook? / 20A: Many people may be eliminated by one)
  • SHOCK / HINT // STOCK / TINT (5A: ___ value / 6D: Slight coloring)
  • HA HA / HEAT RAY / HOOT // TATA / TEA TRAY / TOOT (10A: Interjection heard when breaking up / 10D: Carrier of something that might burn / 12D: It's a blast)
  • HEAVE HO / HIPSTERS // HEAVE TO / TIPSTERS (39A: Cry aboard a frigate / 40D: Ones in the know)
  • RUSH / HEE // RUST / TEE (29D: It can take root in wet places / 46A: Giggle syllable)
  • WISHFUL / BASHES // WISTFUL / BASTES (44D: Yearning / 56A: Wallops)
  • SHAKE / HIC // STAKE / TIC (62A: An investor might want to get a fair one / 63D: Evidence of a little spasm)
  • HIP-HOP / TIP-TOP (31A With 31-Down, breaking records, maybe)
Word of the Day: Carlton FISK (1A: 11-time All-Star Carlton) —
Carlton Ernest Fisk (born December 26, 1947), nicknamed "Pudge" and "The Commander", is a retired Major League Baseball (MLB) catcher and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. During a 24-year baseball career, he played for both the Boston Red Sox (1969, 1971–1980) and Chicago White Sox (1981–1993). He was the first player to be unanimously voted American League Rookie of the Year (1972). Fisk is best known for "waving fair" his game-winning home run in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. (wikipedia)
• • •

Seems like it's been a while since I've seen a puzzle by Xan. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that it took SEVEN YEARS FOR THIS PUZZLE TO SEE PRINT. Or he's just not making many crosswords anymore, who knows? But seriously—this puzzle was submitted seven years ago. Just ... sit on that info for a while. Chew on it. How does it taste? Like responsible editing, right? Right. Of course. Long live Dear Leader. Perhaps this got delayed because other puzzles like it have been published in the interim?? I know I've seen a coin toss theme before, though I'm not sure where. Still, maybe that accounts for a year. Two years? But seven years? Lord have mercy. What's weirder—in the course of finding out this information, I found out that one constructor had an ELEVEN-YEAR WAIT (which as of this moment is the unofficial record). That would be like a puzzle submitted before Obama was elected coming out ... now. But when you're the king, they let you do anything, so, sure, 7 years, 11 years, whatever. What're you gonna do about it? Nothin', that's what.

It's a clever concept, but I tore through this without giving the theme much thought at all. Wrestled a bit with the COIN / FLIPS revealer, but didn't stop to think about what it meant. I just assumed my "T"s and "H"s were correct. Because they were. The one I struggled with most was TIP-TOP, because that is not a phrase I'd use anywhere near something that's record-breaking. I think of it as almost always preceding "shape" or "condition," not things that you can measure, record-wise. HIP-HOP is even harder to justify—"breaking" here refers to "break-dancing," I assume. Which, sure, you can do to HIP-HOP "records," though there's popping and locking in "Uptown Girl," so ...

But I was done in my fastest time in months and months. Faster than yesterday's puzzle. Sadly, my software did not give me the Happy Pencil because it was counting my "T"s as wrong—totally bogus. But not really the puzzle's fault. I had a little bit of trouble with WIS(H)FUL, but I never doubted the "H" because the clue sounded like it wanted another -ING word, so I went with WISHING, then corrected to WISHFUL. WISTFUL never occurred to me. Probably the toughest answer for me to come up with in the whole puzzle was SAG (23D: Give a little bit). That ambiguous use of "give" really got me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Unknown 12:18 AM  

I play using the iPhone app and no matter what combination of H, T, or HT I put, it won’t accept my solution. Really don’t want to mess up my solve streak. Please help!

Trombone Tom 12:26 AM  

Wait! They held on to this puzzle for seven years and then chose to run it on Thursday. Makes me wonder if the editorial staff is on a hiatus.

I think I've seen the H/T theme before, but memory fails me as to when or where. Some of the themers and cluing thereof are fairly good.

However I think the overall difficulty ranks closer to Tuesday level. I expect more of a challenge on Thursday.

And as Gill I and others have noted, California continues to burn. That nasty pair of fires between Lake and Mendocino Counties is especially worrisome.

Will Shortz 12:42 AM  

Wow. My mistake for dropping in here tonight. Reading Michael's blog, again with his personal attack on me, you can see why I don't do this very often.

The reason Xan's puzzle was held for so long was so most solvers wouldn't remember (or wouldn't have seen) Andrew Reynolds' beautiful puzzle on the same theme that ran in 2014. Both puzzles are terrific. I wanted Xan's version to get as clean a reception as possible.

Four years ago I gave Xan the choice of having his puzzle returned so he could send it elsewhere ... or waiting. He chose to wait.

One bonus of waiting is that he will be paid at least $150 more for the puzzle than he would have in 2014.

I don't see how any editor could have acted better or more honorably than I have.

--Dear Leader

Patrick O'Connor 12:43 AM  

I'm sorry you were led astray by bad technology and your (fully deserved) irritation with an editor's arbitrariness. For me this puzzle was an absolute charmer, for I suppose the right reason: about a third of the way through I figured that H and T would both give correct answers, and so when I came upon a clue and figured out an answer involving one letter, I would be amused --charmed!-- by the other potential answer. Heat Ray/ Tea Tray and Wishful/Wistful were the best. And yet I still didn't figure out what H and T meant until I got to the revealer. So it was a happy Agatha Christie mystery for me, exactly the right distance behind the author all the way.

Mark 12:44 AM  

I'm usually pretty easy going as a reviewer of NY times puzzles. I look for fun and a reasonable level of challenge. I like yesterday's "eyeless" puzzle for example, and enjoyed some of the work modifications. But this puzzle fails on both counts. It was much to easy to solve and had no joy in the clues or the answers. It's one of the least enjoyable Thursdays in a long time.

jae 12:55 AM  

Easy or medium, hard to tell because my software also would not accept the Schrodinger squares. At Xwordinfo Xan said “it got lost in the stack” in 2011.

Liked it.

mathgent 12:58 AM  

A similar puzzle was published in 2014. Two words, one with an H the other with a T, having the same definition. The two puzzles even have two of the same pairs (BASHES/BASTES, HOOT/TOOT). I didn't remember the earlier one -- the Jeff Chen blog has a link. Will Shortz delayed publishing this one until now because they were so similar. Four years was long enough for me -- I don't remember having done the previous one.

I found this one absolutely delightful. No doubt I loved the one in 2014, too. The revealer in this one is different and I got a lovely jolt when I got the crossing FLIPS and COIN and went back to the nine "coins" to see how the definitions matched. I had a little trouble figuring out TITLIST.

Despite the severe constraints of the gimmick, I found the fill to be very clean and the cluing to be extremely crisp and smart.

Great job, Mr. Vongathorn.l

Harryp 1:09 AM  

If the circled letters hadn't appeared after my solution, I would not have figured out that the Theme was both H's or T's in the circled squares. Without the Theme my time was half of a normal Thursday, but I doubt if I could have seen the HT's. I should go back to solving on paper, but that isn't happening any time soon.

Graham 1:12 AM  

Oh, you had to go and remind me about the gratuitous popping and locking in the Uptown Girl video... by the African American teens who were, it seems, trying to boost the payphone at the beginning of the video. Imagine, for a moment, how the director of the music video had this thought — I know, popping and locking is cool right now! Let’s hire some black kids! And what stage business do we give the black kids at the beginning of the video? Sure, how about some petty larceny? That seems like a pretty awesome idea, huh? I mean, what’s some race-based slander and stereotype among friends, anyway? And they get to pop and lock for a few seconds! (Well, until they get subsumed into the Saturday Night Fever-inspired chorus line.)

Sets my teeth on edge, that kind of video.

Amy 1:13 AM  

Yay, Xan! So happy to see another one of your puzzles in print (even if it did take 7 years). Very clever; really fun to complete.

Larry Gilstrap 1:17 AM  

Just catching up after our annual camping adventure at San Clemente State Beach. Three nights in a Coleman 7x7 was cozy enough. The rest of the experience was exhausting! The weather was warm and sunny and that normally chilly Pacific Ocean water temperature was about as warm as it gets. What's going on?

The solve went pretty quickly and then the theme was left hanging there. Oh, we FLIP a COIN and sure enough the H/T thing miraculously works both ways except for TIT LIST? And people are eliminated by such? I'll cop to being a birder, but my LIST is only mental and the only TIT I see on a regular basis is a BushTIT. What? Thank you OFL for clearing that up.

STABILE was a new one on me. Did Calder ever make one?

Lee Coller 1:22 AM  

I had H's everywhere, so I got the happy pencil. The only place I originally had a T I changed to an H simply because it seemed all the other circles were H's, and once I saw the theme struggled with 20a with the "T", maybe a plastic surgeon's list?

Sue T. 1:33 AM  

I was stumped by TITLIST. I had put in HITLIST, and afterward the H/T thing was revealed, I was like, "what the heck is a TITLIST?" When I Googled it, it said, "Did you mean: titleist?" TITLIST either looks like a spelling error or... something that might appear in Playboy magazine.

JOHN XXX 1:43 AM  

Well this was an interesting little puzzle, wasn't it? It sure was. I liked it.

I remember filling in 62A and I wasn't quite on to the theme and I thought dang that can go two ways can't it? and it really did. I didn't actually parse all the answers for their possible spellings until I got here and saw them. My favorite is TITLIST. I'm not quite sure what it means but I want in.

Hey how 'bout that seven year wait for this puzzle? I'm okay with it but somebody sure got steamed. That's why I read this blog is for gems like this. I mean it, I think it's great. Whatever happened here? If you read this very blog in the old archives you'll see that Will and Rex are best buddies and Rex is a puzzle tester and everything is jake and then BOOSH one day they are mortal enemies. I've never met either one of 'em so I like to have fun with it and imagine really sordid details behind the break-up.

Ando 2:38 AM  

Umm.. what's a TITLIST?

Oh, just as I wrote that question I see that it's someone holding a title. Hahaha. Not how I'd been pronouncing it.

Anonymous 2:44 AM  

What is a TITLIST? Is it anything like a TITLEIST?

Ellen S 3:17 AM  

Dear @Rex - Puzzazz let me put in “T” or “H” whichever I pleased. Then when complete changed all of the Ts or Hs to T/H. My only gripe is it allowed TAHA and HATA for 10 Across. Well, that’s a flaw in the puzzle I think, not in Puzzazz.

And what’s a TITLIST? I’m imagining entries in a “gentleman’s” “little black book”, women rated by the size of their endowments, and not asked out if they were ranked low on the TITLIST? Or, I guess it’s more likely a “title holder”, someone proven HIP HOP at a sport, I mean TIP TOP, would be more likely to eliminate many competitors than someone of lesser status.

HATA for now.

Canon Chasuble 4:32 AM  

Hmmm... there is another wAy to read 20Aa. Did Will not think of it. Just asking....

Anonymous 4:35 AM  

Titlist? Not titleist?

DeeJay 5:55 AM  

A shame that one AL East catcher is remembered on the anniversary of another's passing.

Hungry Mother 6:15 AM  

Fun one today. Very clever theme and mostly wordplay in the puzzle instead of trivia.

Anonymous 6:15 AM  

I enjoyed a week free of foaming rants directed at Will Shortz. This unilateral feud is beneath the spirit of this bog and you are acting like a very, very small man.

It's like he shagged your wife once and you never got over it. Get over it.

'merican in Paris 6:22 AM  

Perhaps the best thing about this puzzle is the constructor's name, Xan Vongsathorn. That would work well in many a sci-fi flick, I should think.

I filled in all of the circled squares with an H, and did not cotton on to the H or T trick, though I did notice that a T would work in some cases. So I suppose that's a DNF. But the iPad app did give me the happy pencil at the end, so there's that.

Clever cluing for ISLE, at 14A. I was thinking, "Are they looking for an alternative spelling for "atoll", i.e. "atoll"? Once I got that one straight the rest of the NW filled itself in. Also helped that I had a college buddy from ISLIP.

Took me awhile to get SKI SLOPE, too, as I was thinking in terms of movie moguls, or pre-colonial India. And, being an ECONomist, I had "added" value long before SHOCK value.

As for other fill, I appreciated that the proper names (apart from ENOS) were reasonably familiar. Learned some new words with KITED and STABILE.

Relatively easy for a Thursday, but after Naticking the last three days, I feel that a HIP HIP hooray is merited for at least completing this one.

Lewis 6:28 AM  

I loved HEAT RAY turning into TEA TRAY, where the second word changes its number of letters. I love how HITLIST becomes TITLIST, two words becoming one. I think these type changes are new for Schroedy puzzles. I love how the circles are more than just circles here; they're coins. I loved learning STABILE. I love how I gasped happily out loud at seeing COIN FLIPS and realizing its connection with H/T..

I was agrin all the way through, and nothing hampered or tampered with the kick I got out of it!

Jofried 6:30 AM  

What a fun puzzle! I thought it was quite easy for a Thursday but the gimmick was very clever and I didn’t understand why the Hs were circled until I got to the revealer. Loved it! And thanks, @Will Shortz, for explaining the 7 year wait time. I don’t even remember the earlier puzzle so four years was long enough!

Jim Lemire 6:37 AM  

I also was wondering what a TIT LIST was. Add to that my incorrect parsing of TEAT RAY and clearly my mind was elsewhere.

I don’t get the TIP TOP or HAHA answers. What does HAHA have to do with breaking up? Is it supposed to be like cracking up?

I had left a few circled spaces blank since I couldn’t figure out/decide whether it should be an H or a T (e.g. HEAVE HO or HEAVE TO). At one point I noticed that I had mostly Hs in the circles, so went ahead and just put Hs in all of them. I struggled a bit with the revealer, but had a nice ah-ha moment when I got it.

One of my fastest Thursdays, just seconds off my record. Was hoping for more challenge, but it was a fun puzzle nonetheless.

Loren Muse Smith 6:53 AM  

This was hard as crap for me. I try to avoid looking at the reveal for a bit and love it when I sniff around looking for low-hanging fruit and can’t find much. I kinda start smelling that Funny Business rat and my heart rate goes up a little. I think I got the T/H deal with WISHFUL/WISTFUL. How cool that the meaning doesn’t change. Well, maybe just a little. WISHFUL feels a little more ordinary and quiet while WISTFUL feels like it involves some sighing and goo goo eyes.

Like everyone else, I didn’t parse the TITLIST and was mystified. It sure does look like a page in a HEEL’s little black book.

First entry for the stuff that can take root in wet places was MOLD. It’s a constant fight here in this muggy climate.

First entry for the Quaker product was “oaken” – guess I was thinking maybe those guys made sturdy, sensible furniture like the Amish. Oops.

I had to look up STABILE post solve; I don’t speak art.

a freestanding abstract sculpture or structure, typically of wire or sheet metal, in the style of a mobile but rigid and stationary.

@Crimson Devil from yesterday – you’ve got your blue name! Now get an avatar and pull up a chair!

The best aspect of Schrödingers is seeing the clever clues that work both ways. Xan, I’m with @Patrick O’Connor and @Lewis- I especially liked the clues for TEA TRAY/ HEAT RAY and FIST/FISH. Nice job.

Unknown 7:03 AM  

I had no issues so maybe you’re missing another letter somewhere.

FLAC 7:07 AM  

Too easy at first, then retrospectively clever and satisfying.

Small Town Blogger 7:21 AM  

All online dictionaries I checked spell it as “titlist”. The reason you get the “did you mean” message on Google and a correction to “titleist” is the preponderance of hits for Titleist golf merchandise.

mmorgan 7:22 AM  

Very nice puzzle but I did find it unusually easy for a Thursday (just an observation, not a criticism).

K. Kabua 7:23 AM  

Bikini is an atoll.

One of he larger islands comprising the atoll is Bikini.

But no where, no how and at no time has there ever been anything called the isle of Bikini.

kitshef 7:27 AM  

Had HIT LIST, STOCK and HAHA. At that point decided they would all be H, so went back and changed to SHOCK. Next one in was HEAVE HO, which is where I realized they could all be Schroedingered.

But did not know why until the dying end, when the last six letters in included the IN from COIN and the LIP from FLIPS.

Not a lot of fun in this one, though. Cluing was just too easy.

For the TITLIST/Titleist wonderers: A TITLIST is a champion - the holder of a title. A Titleist is a golf ball.

Anonymous 7:57 AM  

Will - I know you were probably a bit torn whether or not to lower yourself to Mike's level by even dignifying his SDS (Short Derangement Syndrome), but thanks for standing up to the bully.

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

Put HT in every circle.

Joe Welling 8:04 AM  

But you're not actually eliminated by the HITLIST.

Suzie Q 8:06 AM  

What a delightful puzzle! Great word play in the clues.
I was happily solving away and deliberate to avoid the revealer.
I was so surprised to see the alternate clues/answers because choosing the answers the way I did felt so natural. Then I went back and made the mental substitutions and Voila! It all worked!
After all of that I come here to see that Mr. Shortz posted and I was over the moon. It's been awhile but I always get a thrill when it happens. I feel the same way when a constructor posts. My tiny brush with fame I guess but it never fails to please me.
When oh when will I remember how to spell aioli?

Jeff 8:08 AM  

"Dear Leader"? If there were a Godwin's corollary of right wing websites, that would have to be a prime candidate. How about we not make light of the most oppressive and murderous regime of our day in our little spat over crossword editing?

Thought it was a fun puzzle. I don't mind an easy Thursday once in a while if it's fun.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

I appreciate the explanation from @Will Shortz. But if he got this puzzle in 2011, why did the fact that he ran one like it in 2014 mean that he delayed it until now...? When did he get the one he ran in 2014???

Cliche Guevara 8:10 AM  

I'm so glad to see my name in the grid. It's been a long time since I've had some ink. I love the way all the clueless hipsters put my face on t-shirts and posters. They have no idea why and that's ok with me. Personally I think it's the beret.

GeezerJackYale48 8:13 AM  

I am kind of glad I have no idea what you are fuming about, but I am sorry for your troubles.

CDilly52 8:19 AM  

I was fine after I put them in as rebus but it wanted HT as in “heads/tails” I guess rather than th. Go figure. And that really slowed me down.

Z 8:26 AM  

The puzzle was a decent themeless. I thought the schröedinger aspect was a little forced at TIP TOP/HIP HOP, but redeemed with TEA TRAY/HEAT RAY. I am generally amused that a golf brand is so ubiquitous that people don’t recognize TITLIST and are dooking all over the early comments. As for TIT LIST, most cis-males are tactful enough not to discuss such things in mixed company, but rest assured that many have extensive, well-documented, and (especially when we were teens and 20-somethings) much discussed lists.

As for the “feud” - I read the explanation/excuse and shook my head. Why are the words, “my bad” and “sorry” so hard for people? If you’ve read Rex long enough you’ll recognize inconsistency in the proffered explanation (setting aside the seeming inconsistency with the constructor’s explanation - let’s assume the best on both parties there). I won’t relitigate old controversies but just say I read today’s comment and said “Bull Shit.” The kicker was the $150 comment. If that had been said to me my response would have been, “F- you” (although I doubt I’d have edited my response) Dude, “Rex is right, it shouldn’t have sat for 7 years. My bad.” is all you needed to say. Heck, if “Rex is right” is too much to choke out, just “It shouldn’t have sat for 7 years, my bad” is so much better than an excuse that invites people to start poking holes in your story. Sure, the credulous will accept what you say, but the rest of us are sitting here thinking you look pretty defensive and either unwilling or incapable of taking fair criticism.

John Child 8:37 AM  

Great puzzle but too easy as clued. My time was below an average Tuesday time.


If we agree that a four year wait to let time pass after Andrew Reynolds’ puzzle, we still might wonder why two identically themed puzzles got accepted within a short time and why Mr Vongsathorn‘s puzzle was held three years initially.

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

Easy enough, but the theme stretched some concepts a bit too thin IMHO.

I give it a Meh.

Shortz Fan 8:41 AM  

Cool puzzle. H/T to Will Shortz and thanks for the explanation as to why the puzzle has been in your inbox for seven years. Don’t listen to the hater Will. It’s still a mystery as to why he continues to review a puzzle he reviles. The guy has serious psychological problems. Keep it real and keep doing what you’re doing.

QuasiMojo 8:51 AM  

Controversies (tempests on a TEATRAY?) aside, this was a fun but terribly easy Thursday offering. I particularly liked the RUST/RUSH clue. Not so much the "fair" SHAKE/STAKE one. What is a "fair stake"? I had written SHARE initially before I got the gimmick.

Oh, and one other thing, perhaps when this was written HIPSTERS meant people in the know, but today I'd clue that one as people who are hilariously clueless.

P.S. Wikipedia describes Bikini as an "islet."

Reasonablewoman 8:58 AM  

Wow! TIT LIST, TATA, and @Jim Lemure's TEAT RAY. Anyway, I got stuck thinking flip could mean a 180 vertical axis turn/flip. I had some theme answers with T and some with H. Flipping would not change the appearance of the letter. I did not catch on but got the "Congratulations......" anyway with the HT filled in for me. I would have much preferred a reject so I could have gone back and looked for, and hopefully found the correct solve. There were two outliers: HTITLIST because the vowel sound changes and HTAHTA because HATA and TAHA don't work. You have to change both or it does "affect the clue". Otherwise I think very clever and my bad to not get it.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Call me credulous, but I believe Will Shortz. Why would he lie about such a thing. I would think that if his explanation were untrue, Xan Vongsathorn (cool name) would contradict it. Michael Sharp owes Will an apology. Of course he won’t apologize. The words “my bad” and “sorry” are hard to say for some people. Oh well.

Rob 9:06 AM  

Theme didn't do much for me but I liked the puzzle overall. I always thought, though, the X's in XOXO were the hugs and the O's were the kisses, because the X looks a bit like crossed arms and the O's a bit like a mouth. Not so?

The clue for HIPHOP was brilliant, I thought. Maybe an age difference between me and Rex.

I see how, and it's actually pretty obvious 9:07 AM  

@Will - You accepted Xan's puzzle 7 years ago, and published Andrew's puzzle 4 years ago. So, you either accepted Xan's while you had Andrew's in the queue, or vice versa. In the case where you published the puzzles in order received would it not have been appropriate to tell the constructor, in this case Xan, who submitted the puzzle later at that time that it would take years for the puzzle to appear? Like, "Look Xan, I like your puzzle but I've got one with the same theme already and it will appear in a couple of years, then I'll have to wait another 4 to publish yours". That's substantively different (i.e. way more considerate) than waiting 3 years and then telling Xan he has another multi-year wait. Do not confuse someone, who waited 3 years for something then got scooped for reasons having nothing to do with him, acquiesces to another multi year wait. That's recognizing the futility of it all, not agreeing with it.

In the case where you didn't publish the puzzles in order, (you felt Andrews was better, more timely, or you simply forgot about Xan's), you simply buried Xan's puzzle, and that deserves an explanation. That's how "...how any editor could have acted better or more honorably than [you] have."

Knitwit 9:09 AM  

I can’t “not see” TIT LIST....as well as putting BRO in for 50A. Yeesh!

Unknown 9:18 AM  

Geezer Jack...I love your comment. May I use that phrase as my stock answer to everybody about anything they say? Perhaps print it on a t-shirt?
It is definitely the nicest political statement ever!

Blue Stater 9:19 AM  

WS is nothing if not consistent. He still seems not to understand -- nearly 20 years after I had a similar go-round with him -- the difference between criticism of his *work*, the puzzles, and criticism of his personal characteristics. Not one word of Rex's critique was directed at WS as a person. There is no evidence in Rex's comments that he even knows WS. Maybe WS should concentrate more on improving the quality of the puzzles. He could start by running the puzzles through the NYT copydesk to reduce or eliminate their many factual and linguistic errors. I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Can't tell you how long I stared at TIT LIST after I finished. Well, I guess that would eliminate men... Oh TITLIST. D'oh.

puzzlehoarder 9:21 AM  

It's ironic that this puzzle was shelved for so long to enhance it's "freshness." There's supposed to be a similar puzzle out there. If so I'd find it just as forgettable and you could run them back to back for all I care.

I was expecting a rebus when I saw the circles but after filling a few sections it became apparent that an H would work every time.

When I hit the reveal the whole heads or tails coin flip theme was obvious. Will Shortz has never met a fresh gimmick that he didn't like irregardless of how bland a solving experience it may lead to otherwise. This was bland. Not a single debut in the bunch and a pedestrian difficulty level throughout.

I had to check my dictionary when I read the "Do you mean like Titleist?" comments. Spelling's not my strong suit, so thank you @kitshef for pointing out that Titleist is a commercial name. It's understandable to go from HIT LIST to TIT LIST but I think @Jim Lemire gets extra points for parsing TEAT RAY. Ma'am your high beams are on.

Hartley70 9:28 AM  

I completed as a themeless and when I came to the COIN FLIPS was delighted with the trick. If I’ve seen this before, I don’t remember. As I reviewed the circled letters, I saw that I had no predilection for H or T in the answers. I just used what word first came to mind because I generally ignore circles as I solve. It’s not deliberate. I just don’t see them on the phone app.

HEAVEHO to HEAVETO was my favorite flip.

My best moment was remembering FISK.

Rex’s worst moment was “Dear Leader”.

Xan’s patience is extraordinary. I would have been vibrating with anticipation for 7 (?!) years.

mmorowitz 9:35 AM  

I definitely would have had my best Thursday time ever if not for struggling with the HT in the app (and snickering about TIT LIST)

Sir Hillary 9:35 AM  

I love Schrodingers, so this was a blast. Yeah, too easy for a Thursday, but a blast nonetheless.

When I finished, I circled all the affected clues and put "?" next to the four that didn't make sense to me. It was only when I came hear that I realized it was TITLIST and not TIT LIST, and TEA TRAY and not TEAT RAY (clearly, I have mammary on the brain). Both of those are off-the-charts good. That leaves RUSH and BASTES as the ones that don't click for me, but I'm sure they will become clearer when I leave here and Google.

With such a great puzzle, it's really a bummer that @Rex and some others have decided to focus on the sideshow aspects. @Z -- The real question is, why the fuck do you give a shit about any of this Rex vs. Will nonsense? You have no agency in the silly back-and-forth nor in the fact that a third party had to wait seven years to have a puzzle published, and you certainly have no business speaking for the incredulous "rest of us".

GILL I. 9:43 AM  

Easy and delightful. I realized the HT trick early on with STOCK/SHOCK. Confirmed with TATA/HAHA.
You see...I remembered having done a similar one. That must be the one Will is talking about. I remember it so well because I though how utterly clever. It's like I'll never forget @Liz. G's Guggenheim puzzle. Some things just stay glued in the grey cells and for that I'm thankful. If now I could only remember how to spell.
I make AIOLI all the time. Why do I think it has an E? (Hi @Suzy Q..we seem to be on the same page lately).
MISS at the end of the puzzle (71 A) was stupidly the most difficult. MISS seems so greenish paint for a bad shot clue. I prefer a big MESS.
Other than that, nothing really gave me pause. Well, like the rest of ye, TIT LIST did. When I can't sleep at night, I try to find something on Hulu that will make me sleepy. I watch The Real Wives of Beverly Hills. It's a HOOT/TOOT. All the wives definitely have a TIT LIST. Now mind you, all of the ladies have the same size boobs because they all went to a plastic surgeon named Paul. He also keeps a TIT LIST. And a botox list. Beverly Hills is such a wonderful place to live. It will never be allowed to burn down like the rest of California.
I'm going to say that 7 years is a tad too long. Adding an additional $150 is pretty nice although if you live in Beverly Hills it won't cover the cost of one martini.
Thank you Xan, with the wonderful name. I enjoyed your puzzle even if it had been submitted before the Frump era.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Good for you Will. Sharp is fanatic-you know, won't change his mind and can't change the subject.
What does he, or anyone save Xan, care how long the puzzle was in the cue? It was great puzzle this morning. Not a harmed a bit by the wait for publication.
As for Z, Michael's chief boot licker, I say he should pony up $150 to a reputable charity. After all, that amount is apparently nothing. And be assure Z if I ever see you I'll say F you to your face.

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

Well @Z, you've done it now.
You went and made @ Sir Hillary cuss.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Burn on you Rex by Will Shortz! Always have to be complaining about something, eh?

mathgent 9:58 AM  

If Will Shortz really made the comment above, the fact that he gave the constructor permission to send the puzzle elsewhere absolves him from blame, in my book. Unless the timing of his notifying Mr. Vongsathorn is off. I don't know much about the timing of submission and publication.

Nancy 10:00 AM  

I cruised through the puzzle unaware of the trick, choosing whichever combo struck my fancy at the moment and never thinking of the alternative. When I finally saw the revealer and went back to look at the theme clues, knowledge of the trick raised my opinion of the puzzle all the way from "Awful" to "Meh".

Such a waste of a clever theme. The fill was extremely dull and the clues even duller.

Because I had FISH/HITLIST, @Loren's double-take at TITLIST never affected me. (Funny comment, Loren!)

This strikes me as the poor man's version of the CLINTON/BOB DOLE puzzle of enduring crossword fame. The problem isn't so much that this has been done before as that it's been done so much better.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

@Sir Hillary,
Hear hear! I don't want anyone speaking for me, especially that choad @Z.

RooMonster 10:02 AM  

Hey All !
Add me to the list who didn't remember the other puz four years ago. Heck, I can't even remember what I had for breakfast today. :-)

Really doubt that it was The Actual Will Shortz who commented earlier. But, if it was, cool!

Puz was nice. Like others, had H's in all the circles except STAKE/TIC, but after seeing all the H's circled everywhere else, changed it to an H. Then, low and behold, the finished puz made the circles all H/T rebuses. Too bad we didn't get animation like the DNA puz a little bit ago, would've been cool to see the "coins" flipping.

Lots of blocks in here, 42. Makes for Rex's choppy fill. (Surprised he didn't yell about that.) Seven years is a long time for a puz to get published. Oh well.


Amelia 10:06 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Munson was a catcher (overrated as well) not a saint. This aint his feast day. I though Sharp and @Z were deranged, but I stand corrected. It's Yankee's fan that need the heavy duty meds.

Nancy 10:22 AM  

Of course you don't come here very often, Will Shortz, and it's the blog's very great loss. I've never figured out just what Rex's problem with you is -- although it seems to be just one of his many, many problems. To me, you are far and away the best Times puzzle editor of my [puzzle-solving] lifetime, bringing liveliness, humor and imagination into the venture. I don't like all your choices -- if I see one more rap "artist" or encounter any more textspeak, I'm going to scream, Will, truly I am -- but I like most of your decisions. Because I was lucky enough to actually speak with you briefly on the phone many years ago (it was you who steered me to the Rexblog; bet you're sorry about the whole thing!), I know you to be warm, kind and down-to-earth. Because I doubt you'll be back to the Rexblog until 2057 at the earliest, I'll also post this comment on the Wordplay blog -- where, hopefully, you'll see it. Thanks for all you do for us puzzle nuts.

Aketi 10:22 AM  

I tried to ost early this morning but my iPad objected and froze.

As a Lactation Consultant I did have to 47A and 46A + 46A (FLIPped) over the T on top versions of 10A, 10D and 20A. Visions of the silver bra from Austin Powers shooting laser beams instead of bullets came to mind.

Bob Mills 10:31 AM  

Wonderful puzzle. Very clever. Wish I'd thought of the theme. I'd thank the constructor personally if I could pronounce his name.

TomAz 10:54 AM  

The 7 year wait for publication had no impact on my solving experience. Perhaps it even improved it for the reasons Will noted. It seems like a very petty thing for Rex to get hung up on.

I did have a great time trying to figure out what a TEAT RAY was. hehe

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

@Shortz Fan.....Hat tip on H/T. Good one.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

Well, Xan Vongsathorn is now on my "S" as in Slav, "H" as in Hitlist

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

Well said Nancy.

pabloinnh 11:20 AM  

Like a few others, I remembered the T/H trick. After I was done and read about it. Didn't see it the first time, didn't see it this time. Now I'm wondering how far back I would have to go to recognize a puzzle I'd already done. So far it's four years, but how long before its' yesterday? Maybe at the home they'll give me a puzzle in the morning and the same one at night, and I'll be delighted, and maybe that's not so bad.

Whatsername 11:21 AM  

I loved it! Clever, inventive, entertaining and a little Thursday challenge that resulted in a happy face instead of a frown of frustration. More like this please.

Joseph Michael 11:37 AM  

Whether heads or tails, this was a winning puzzle.

jberg 11:40 AM  

When I got to the revealer, I had STOCK/TINT, but Hs in all the other circles. So the revealer was -- well, a revelation. After that, I really enjoyed the puzzle, although it never occurred to me (thanks, @Lewis) that the circles could be considered COINs.

Now a really perfect puzzle would have no other Hs or Ts, but that would have been really hard, I'm guessing.

The clue for SLAV was a little strained, since Croatians and Dalmatians are also both Croats. But hey, it was gettable.

And thanks, @small town, for doing the research. I would certainly have spelled the word with an E. I bet in another decade that will be accepted as the correct spelling. I wonder if they chose to put the E in the brand in order to make it easier to register as a trademark, sort of like the old Flxible buses.

@Loren, I'm stumped -- is that some character I should recognize?

jberg 11:43 AM  

BTW, I always thought Calder invented the word STABILE, but Dictionary.com says it originated around 1790. One learns so much from crosswords!

jberg 11:45 AM  

@Z from yesterday -- thanks! I let that one go by me too fast, and didn't notice.

Third time and out.

Golf Ball 11:47 AM  

The REASON this puzzle could sit for 7 years and still be doable is because it doesn't contain a SHITTON (clue for those two words "More than a lot") of pop culture crap. And all along it sat there with the future classics Tit List and Teat Ray.

These answers alone qualify this puzzle as one of the greatest in NY Times crossword history and all Dear Fearless Leader could do was complain about the fact that the puzzle came out with some vintage. Sheesh.

Dig deep Will Shortz, there may be some real gems hidden in the stack.

Whatsername 11:47 AM  

@Nancy at 10:22 I’m with you on the rap artists and text talk. Also could do without video game and Lord of the Rings clues.

@GILL I you win the prize for most entertaining post today. I laughed out loud at your Beverly Hills/California comments. Keep ‘em coming.

Unknown 11:52 AM  


Natl Geo 12:04 PM  

An atoll is a ring-shaped coral reef, island, or series of islets. An atoll surrounds a body of water called a lagoon. Sometimes, atolls and lagoons protect a central island. Channels between islets connect a lagoon to the open ocean or sea.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

Google and I say that "titlist" is at best a vanishingly rare alternate spelling for "titleist." Major demerit for the composer.

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

@QuasiMojo: Cosmo Kramer-Hipster Doofus (Seinfeld "The Glasses", Sept 30, 1993)

Cassieopia 12:37 PM  

Fun puzzle. In awe htah hte conshruchor found so many words in wtict Hs and Ts are inherctangeable and yeh shill make real words - and hte clueing is hte same hoo! Noh an easy hrick - loved ih!

Wanderlust 12:47 PM  

No problem for me on i-phone putting either letter in any circle.

OISK 12:47 PM  

Really liked this one. Last entries were "coin flips". OH! H and T ! Works every time! Titlist (my autocorrect changes it to the golf ball) doesn't refer to cup size! Really liked it!

pmdm 12:47 PM  

Errors happen, and the 7 year delay seems to have been the result of the puzzle getting lost in the queue. Errors happen. Xan got over it. All the rest of you should also. It was a mistake complicated by a similar puzzle beating it out. It was done willingly or on purpose.

Blue Stater: Mike's comment about "responsible editing" implies he's call Will an irresponsible editor, which pretty much is a direct attack on Will. While it may not seem that way to you, I think many would recognize it as such. Will apparently did.

Nancy: I think the feud started when Will rejected one of Mike's puzzles. Might have even been the Natick puzzle.

JC66 12:48 PM  

@Anon 12:20

As pointed out above Google's ranking of TITLeIST vs TITLIST is due to the well known brand of golf balls and that after checking numerous dictionaries, only TITLIST (title holder) appears...no TITLeIST.

RooMonster 12:56 PM  

Holy cow, if I had gotten mad, or gotten a nickel, at @Will every time a puz of mine got rejected, I'd be rich! (Har, NOT making fun of you, Will, but I've sent in quite a few!)

I submitted a Schrödinger type puz once with a Chess theme, I thought was way cool, got rejected. So, I stamped my feet and moved on.

One day, Will, you'll publish one from me! :-)


Teedmn 1:07 PM  

I started out solving a la @Nancy - had H in the 1D-20A combo and T's in the rest. When I got to 31A-D, I looked at the circles for theme help in decoding that answer and decided to go with T for TIP-TOP. Eventually I decided T/H belonged in the circles but thought H for the crosses, T for the downs (which doesn't really work with 31A-D). I wouldn't have gotten points off in a tournament with that solve but I wouldn't have realized the full coolness of the puzzle either without reading @Rex and Jeff Chen.

Because of the duality of the clues, I had a couple of "huh?"s during my solve. 44D was WISTFUL so 56A was briefly pASTES. I could not figure out what a pATH and a wet bar locale had in common at 56D. BATH was a relief to see. And 62A, I gave the investor a fair SHArE but couldn't figure out what a fair STArE was going to be. I finally got SKEW and was able to SHAKE that error.

I circled the clue at 67A, "Falling down in a pillow fight?" as a possible candidate for @Lewis's best clue list. It made me smile anyway.

Thanks Xan, I think it was worth the wait!

Masked and Anonymous 1:07 PM  

Cluin comes out a little x-tra-hard again, due this time maybe to the Schroe-dinger squares. Fun puz -- worth the xtra-LAGGARD-ly 7-year wait, I reckon. Mighty clever cluin for them themers, btw.

Especially enjoyed the Double-flipped TATA. Wanted TAHA at first -- all the Down answers' fault. Figured out that the T's and H's were interchangeable pretty quick, but needed the revealer to see the Tails/Heads part.

staff weeject pick: NYE. Lost precious eraser nanoseconds, there, goin with EVE at first. Better clue = {Bill the scientific auld lang syne guy??}.

Was real partial to SNICKER & STABILE, fillins-wise.

Thanx for the b-elated fun, Mr. Vongsa(t/h)orn.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


QuasiMojo 1:10 PM  

Thanks @Anonymous 12:31pm. Hilarious.

Wileyfex 1:14 PM  

Calder made many stabiles. Google will give you images.....

Richard 1:24 PM  


In your criticism of WS for being defensive, I wonder if you paid attention to the "Dear Leader" reference that Michael used and that WS used in his sign off. This took Michael's potentially legitimate criticism to a personal level and I find it to be petty and mean-spirited. In my opinion, if anyone should apologize, it should be Michael.

Unknown 1:48 PM  

I put all H’s.

Z 2:06 PM  

@Richard - I thought the sign-off was the best part of the explanation. At least it shows a modicum of being able to be self-deprecating. If he had just said, “sorry about that, stuff happens” and used that sign-off he would have completely deflated Rex’s position. Instead, in trying to explain he played right into the caricature. As for Rex needing to apologize for making the caricature, I see why you feel that way but I don’t mind a critic being a little, or even a lot, hyperbolic. If you don’t want the slings and arrows then don’t put your name on things.

@Sir Hillary - So... why are you offering a fifth party opinion on a fourth party’s opinion about the first party’s response to a third party’s critique of what happened to the second party? As for my “the rest of us” comment, either one accepts Shortz’s explanation or one doesn’t. If someone doesn’t accept Shortz’s explanation (and you’ve been here long enough to recall him saying pretty much the exact opposite so I’m a little surprised that you seem to be accepting the explanation) and has a reaction that is substantively different than the ones I offered I’d love to hear them.

As much as all this is riveting, I’m voting myself off the island for the rest of the day. No need to applaud.

Blue Stater 2:51 PM  

@pmdm: That seems like a pretty thin logical chain to me. Even if I were to accept your analysis of "responsible editing," which I don't, the critique would go to WS's *editing*, not to WS as a person. Same goes for "Dear Leader." I don't think that's anything more than a joke, not a criticism of WS's work OR personal traits.

Too many people, when they can't answer criticisms of their work, wrongly claim they've been criticized as persons. That's certainly true of WS's reply, and not the first such instance, I'm sorry to say.

Jim Lemire 2:52 PM  

@Cassieopia I like your style!

Unknown 3:21 PM  

Relax, DL- that hardly rates as a “personal attack”, more like a mild chiding. And you should drop in more- Rex is the best, usually good-natured, almost never wrong, and always entertaining. I love you both, sometimes for the same reasons.

Chip Hilton 4:37 PM  

I was sure the use of investor in the clue for 62A. would lead to SHArE as the answer. Sure to the degree that I just couldn’t let it go. Silly me.

Snarky day here at the commentary.

Bill L. 5:06 PM  

Spoiler alert -- if you don't want to know who @LMS's avatar is don't read this.

It's Mr. Slate (3-down). Boss of Fred Flinstone at the quarry. If the web page I just looked at is correct his full name is Rockhead Sylvester Nate Oscar George Slate. He is also Barney Rubble's uncle.

Glad to be of service.

Anonymous 7:22 PM  

You are an imbecile or a knave if you won't acknowledge the plain truth that "Our dear leader" was used pejoratively. Mr. Sharp frequently uses this platform to spew calumny and mendacious criticism of Mr. Shortz. Surely that is uncontroverted.
All here know that you act as Sharp'de acolyte and chief defender. It is of course your prerogative to do so. But spare this astute company your drivel that you're a disinterested observer.
Mr. Sharp has a hair on his ass. What is, noone sems to know. But surely, his ad homonim attacks unmask his ideolgy.

Anonymous 7:41 PM  

Early hip hop records sampled the drum breaks from funk tracks, the beat is called a breakbeat, and breakdancing is one of the elements of hip hop. I don't see the problem here.

John Dewey 8:45 PM  

not sure why you all engage in responding to "Z." Don't you know that he has declared himself all-righteous and all-knowing - and that he can never be wrong. It doesn't matter that he isn't all-righteous and all-knowing, and is often wrong.. What matters is that he has bullied himself so and that he has, through continual obsequiousness, gained Michael's protection. The best thing to do is just ignore him. You give him too much undeserved power when you do not.

Suzy 8:48 PM  

It occurs to me that you have the job Rex would clearly love to have. Thank goodness for that!!

Joe 8:56 PM  

I had never encounterd the T /H trick before, so did not find this easy. But I solved it, in the end, and thought it was pretty fun.

Unknown 9:15 PM  

Hi, yall
I guess I'm stupid, But making a Rebus puzzle that solves with out the rebus??? Never Had a clue.

jameslintern 12:17 AM  

titlist, as in title-ist

Michael5000 12:52 AM  

I thought this was one of the cleverest and most satisfying puzzles down the pike for quite a while.

Michael5000 12:52 AM  

I thought this was one of the cleverest and most satisfying puzzles down the pike for quite a while.

Anonymous 5:29 AM  

Glad I did not watch the video — the keyframe Kenny did not match popping in my view, so was suspicious & aint-got-time4this...

Please tell me this was not made in 2018

HazelXword 9:06 AM  

Rex, I love coming to this site and reading your take on the day’s puzzle, but the sarcastic personal attacks on Will Shortz are mean spirited and make you seem quite small and just kind of grumpy. Let it go, please.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  


Bob Mills 11:34 AM  

Rex's criticisms are valid. A "CORKING FEE" is charged when someone brings his own booze into a place that serves it, not a
"CORKAGE FEE." And what does a corkage fee have to do with a cab?

"EDEN" and "DREAMLAND" are mismatched. It's a shame, because there are numerous misdirect clues that could have been used for EDEN. "GARDEN SPOT?" "MAJOR BARBARA IN HOLLYWOOD"

Monty Boy 9:37 PM  

I get irritated with sportscasters who discuss everything except the game in front of them. That's about what today's comments seem to be for some folks. If nothing else, add something about the puzzle after the Will/Rex/7years rant.

For me, it was a hard puzzle. I finished it and got the happy tone for a correct puzzle using either T or H and not knowing they were interchangeable. I came hear to find out how BASTES comes from walloping.

M 12:54 PM  

I read this blog the way I read Flat Earth conspiracy websites, mouth agape and mesmerized, struggling to imagine human characters who can write such things with such earnestness and never quite shaking the suspicion that the whole thing must be an elaborate hoax.

thefogman 10:13 AM  

I got the H/T gimmick but I'm still working out the SE corner. Stumped so far. Giving it a break for now. Back later...

spacecraft 10:53 AM  

Wow, this is clever! I had a question about 1-down right away; FISH seemed obvious, but the clue read just a bit off. Could be...FIST? So faint was the printing of the circles in my paper that I didn't even see them until later on. But 20-across had--for me--to be HITLIST. You see, as a (former) golfer I assumed the spelling of TITL{E}IST was like the premier ball, though in the back of my mind I "knew" the actual word is--or ay least can be--spelled sans the E.

I don't precisely recall the moment when it occurred to me that all the circled squares could contain either letter; it was sort of an aha! moment by osmosis. A very cool sensation. The revealer also took a few seconds to come to light, but once it did, it was like, "Of course, you dolt, and the letters stand for Heads and Tails: DUH!"

Line from old TV show "77 Sunset Strip:"

You meet the highbrow and the HIPSTER,
The starlet and the phony TIPSTER

Oh, to have those days back. When I had hair {Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb)! Anyhoo, let's proceed to the DOD: KDLANG. Constant craving indeed. Fill is reasonably clean; non-theme cluing pretty simple for a Thursday and theme cluing very clever. Birdie.

Burma Shave 11:55 AM  


Is it a SHOCK to be WISHFUL and bicker with TIP TOP TIPSTERS,
or just plain STOCK to be WISTFUL and SNICKER at HIP HOP HIPSTERS?


thefogman 2:50 PM  

I'm back. I almost got it all. But I got burned in the SE corner. I had AeOLI instead of AIOLI. I had no idea what STABILE was and guessed wrong. That's all she wrote. A pretty decent puzzle by Xan, however I don't think the crossing of 54D and 59A was very fair, consequently Mr. Vongsathorn only gets a CEE plus.

leftcoastTAM 3:02 PM  

This one's a gem compared to yesterday's.

Gasped at last letter(s) in -- TIT LIST!? Quickly relaxed with TITLIST and a middle-school SNICKER.

Some pauses in the fill: KEVLAR, LAGGARD (sp.), AIOLI (sp.), and STABILE.

Had some fun. Thanks, XV and WS.

rondo 3:38 PM  

Occasionally I will hit a TITLeIST golf ball, that other spelling is something else. SNICKER.

Interesting post by Will.

OLE says K.D.LANG wins by default. And he reminds you that FISK is Swedish for FISH.

Pretty cool gimmick. Didn’t get it until I was THRU.

Diana,LIW 3:59 PM  

Easier than most Thursdays for me - due to the "semi" rebi factor, I guess. Very cleverly done, IMHO. And constructors always do humble me with their ability - hats off! Or, HIP HIP, OLE! and a TIP of the hat.

Haven't yet read the other comments, so don't know if TITLIST elicited the expected notes...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rainforest 4:10 PM  

My experience was very similar to @Spacey's except I didn't even consider TITLIST at first. I did notice the H/T possibility, and then later when encountering HEAVE H/TO. "Oho:, says I, "we got ourselves a theme". And thus it was.

Not that I found the puzzle easy. I did struggle in various places, particularly the SE, and I wrote in RUST without giving any consideration to RUSH.

Overall, a fun puzzle with a theme that tickled me, and a neato revealer (COIN FLIP).

Diana,LIW 7:09 PM  

All I can say is - of all the cays not to read the comments first! I note many noted the TITLIST, but the tit for tat among the OFL and his "DL" were worth the price of admission. The teapot doth seem to hold a tempest.

Lady Di

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