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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Constructor: Sande Milton and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Medium (4:33)

THEME: EYELESS (36A: Unable to see ... or, when taken as a homophone, what today's puzzle answers and clues all are) — in addition to having themers where wackiness is created by dropping an "I," the grid is totally devoid of the letter "I," as are the clues for some reason...

Theme answers:
  • RANDY QUAD (from "Quaid") (16A: Campus area for amorous students?)
  • SOCAL BUTTERFLY (from "Social") (26A: Flutterer around Orange County and L.A.?)
  • NEW YORK SLANDER (from "Islander") (44A: Put-down to someone from Manhattan or the Bronx?)
  • GREEK RUNS (from " ruins") (60A: Marathons, way back when?)
Word of the Day: ED BURNS (43D: Co-star of H'wood's "The Brothers McMullen") —
Edward Fitzgerald Burns (born January 29, 1968) is an American actor, producer, writer, and director best known for appearing in several films including Saving Private Ryan (1998), 15 Minutes (2001), Life or Something Like It (2002), Confidence (2003), A Sound of Thunder(2005), The Holiday (2006), One Missed Call (2008), 27 Dresses (2008), Man on a Ledge(2012), Friends with Kids (2012), and Alex Cross (2012). Burns directed movies such as The Brothers McMullen (1995), She's the One (1996), Sidewalks of New York (2001), Purple Violets(2007), and The Fitzgerald Family Christmas (2012). He also starred as Bugsy Siegel in the TNTcrime drama series Mob City and as Terry Muldoon in TNT's Public Morals. (wikipedia)
• • •

I don't get the appeal of this theme. I especially don't get the idea that People Will Love How We Remove "I"s From The Clues. What kind of dumb non-event is that? It's not like it affects cluing all that much, or is noticeable, beyond a certain stilted quality to some of the clues. Why mess with the precision / elegance of your cluing when Literally No One Will Notice Or Care. It's like people are making decisions for no good reason. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Does it add value? More importantly, does it add *more* value than it detracts? In this case, no. No one is going to go "ooooh ... no "I"s." That is not a plausible or valid response. Therefore, de-"I"ing the clues is ridiculous. Ultimately, this is just a "remove-a-letter" puzzle. The revealer isn't even good, in that EYELESS is not something anyone actually is unless they are Samson in Gaza in a Milton closet drama (look it up!) or, you know, one of the horses in "EQUUS" (what kind of morbid joke is that, having that answer in this puzzle?—booooo!).

This puzzle is maybe a little bit on the easy side, but I kind of crashed the car in the NE, where ___ WEEKS has a word break right at the entryway to that corner. This meant that though I had WEEKS, I did not have the first word, and I guessed wrong with OFF instead of BYE. Flailing ensued. Eventually I took out OFF, but still flailed some more, writing in POP UP instead of BLOOP (8A: Short fly ball) (final "P" was "confirmed" by PELE), and then by trying to write in SHE'S A at 15A: "___ a Grand Old Flag" ("YOU'RE"), which you can see just makes no sense. [Salty bagel topper] was never gonna give me LOX. Me: ".... salt?" So, yeah, OUCH indeed. Otherwise, not much trouble here beyond figuring out the dropped-I answers.

  • 17D: What could make you take a deep breath (YOGA) — good example of I-less cluing being a hindrance. This makes no sense. The YOGA instructor might "make you take a deep breath," but the practice itself doesn't (any more than any physical exertion might). 
  • 24D: Buccaneer's sword (CUTLASS) — Me, having the "C" and smugly admiring my own large vocabulary: "Woo hoo, I know this one: CORSAIR!" :(
  • 56D: Ballet dancer Pavlova (ANNA) — total blank. Just ... nothing. Some Russian name, ends in "A" ... was all I could think of. I guess Karenina and Paquin have "I"s... 
  • 2D: Boozehound (SOAK) — wait, what? What? I've been around crossword drunkard clues for approaching three decades, I know my tipplers and my sots and my elbow-benders and my lushes and their DTs etc., but ... you're telling me SOAK ... is a noun? Meaning "sot"? Ugh. You have a very versatile word you could clue a million ways and you go way, way, way out of your way to steer it toward yet *more* words for alcoholics? What's wrong with you? SOAK as a noun is absurd.
Hey, Lollapuzzoola, one of the two crossword tournaments I try never to miss, is happening again in less than three weeks, in NYC. I (along with my wife) am the defending Pairs champion, and I am returning to keep the title out of the eager mitts of my friend Neville Fogarty and his mother (and any other pair that wants to have a go). I have gone to this tournament for years and it is great fun. The people who run it (Brian Cimmet, Patrick Blindauer) always do such a great job. The puzzles are absolutely first-rate and entertaining, and the atmosphere remarkably loose and laid-back. Here's a blurb from Brian about the upcoming tourney:
Hey there, CrossWorld — Brian Cimmet and Patrick Blindauer here, cohosts of Lollapuzzoola. Lollapuzzoola a kick-ass (yet super casual) crossword tournament coming up on Saturday, August 18, in New York City. Our theme this year is "Back to School", and we have a slate of amazing puzzles by Erik Agard, Jeff Chen, Aimee Lucido, Mike Nothnagel, Paolo Pasco, Doug Peterson, Patti Varol, and Yacob Yonas, plus a bonus puzzle suite. If you can make it to NYC, join us in person — and if not, you can play from home (we'll send PDFs of everything to you by email). You can sign up and learn more about the event at We hope to see you there!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Pete 12:14 AM  

How could any of the dozen or so people who saw this not see that it didn't work ?

TomAz 12:14 AM  

Is the theme really that weak? 'Doing some operation on words to make new words that are clued wackily' is a time-honored NYT xword tradition and I still have a soft spot for it. My personal entree, years ago, into serious (har, har) xword solving came in part when I realized the NYT xword could be kinda goofy at times. Like nerds at a Mensa meeting letting their hair down and having a few rum-and-punch drinks and making silly puns. I found it kind of endearing, back then, and I guess I still do.

Tuesday's puzzle left a bad taste in my mouth, but this one made me smile.

chefwen 12:23 AM  

Thought the puzzle was very easy for a Wednesday until I reached the SE corner. I have no excuse for not knowing ED BURNS, but I didn’t. Also did not know NENA and had asap before nothing would work off of that. Puzzle Partner to the rescue and we were done.

Never did get the no I in the clues or the rest of the puzzle except the obvious, but that’s not unusual. Never really look for those details, just happy to get ‘er done.

jae 12:32 AM  

Easier than yesterday’s. Cute and very smooth, liked it.

Harryp 12:46 AM  

I made a lot of good guesses on names, and got the happy tone, but this didn't look as easy as it played. I think it is a real feat to omit all i's from a puzzle, since the letter frequency for i's in the English language is nearly seven percent and goes up slightly if if it is the first letter in a word. Managed to suss out the Theme too, which made my evening.

mathgent 1:23 AM  

Rex is absolutely right. Leaving "i" out doesn't do anything for me. Nor does anything else about the puzzle. Blah. Jeff needed to do more.

Eric NC 3:24 AM  

Wow. No “i’s” in the theme or the answers or the clues.

'merican in Paris 4:31 AM  

I thought this was a GOOD, even a fine puzzle (for a Tuesday, not a Wednesday) ... until it wasn't. Then it SANK ... BLOOP!

The EYELESS themers didn't bother me as answers per se, but I clearly didn't know some obscure (to me) actor from a film I've never heard of. And I didn't see the missing "I" in front of SLANDER, so had EgBURN_, giving NEW YORK SLANgER, which made more sense to me than SLANDER, which was poorly clued, IMO. SLANg: "To use angry or abusive language [towards somebody else]." SLANDER: "To utter a false and malicious statement or report about someone." Neither fits the bill exactly, but the latter, to me, usually does not take place in the presence of the SLANDEe, and is not a "put-down" but rather an accusation -- to TAR them, as it were.

I knew of Ms. Pavlova, and reckoned she was either an ANNA or an ANNe, but then tried all manner of permutations between STAT, eTAT, STeT, and even aTeT, etc. Nothing made sense to me, so I finally clicked that "check puzzle" button.

So, obviously I DNF. For the third (easy) day in a row, again thanks to proper names. Grrr.

Is STAT supposed to be some reference to baseball? Does any baseball announcer ever yell out "On the double?" Even if she did, how does that itself make a STAT? That, in my view, is really, really, (7th-inning) stretching things.

I know, LET it be, just LET it be.

P.S., HOW many noticed the menagerie in the central Atlantic area, with the improbable combination of a BUTTERFLY, EMUS, a LEMUR, part of a SaLamANDER, a spider's WEB, and a dog that YAPS?

Matt 4:40 AM  

60A is what I call it after I eat spanakopita

manitou 5:05 AM

Hungry Mother 5:41 AM  

Still too many names, but I got through it unscathed this time. Very nice theme.

Alexander 6:02 AM  

STAT is a term typically used in the medical field meaning “Right now!”

It’s apparently shortened from the Latin “statim” which means “immediately”

Lewis 6:03 AM  

I liked RECUSAL, ELOQUENT, and ODD DUCK, learned a new definition for SOAK, then looked for answers that the letter "i" could be added to, and COPES and SPAN jumped out at me. Jeff said they planned this puzzle for a Tuesday, and that's what it felt like to me. Of course, with Jeff's involvement, this puzzle was spiffy clean. I never noticed the lack of "i" in the puzzle or clues, and finding that out added "notice-worthy" to "nice and pleasing" in my reaction to the puzzle.

Sande, good work! More please. I think you've found your clam to fame.

John Milton 6:06 AM  

Dal. With doubtful feet and wavering resolution
I came, still dreading thy displeasure, Samson,
Which to have merited, without excuse,
I cannot but acknowledge; yet if tears [ 735 ]
May expiate (though the fact more evil drew
In the perverse event then I foresaw)
My penance hath not slack'n'd, though my pardon
No way assur'd. But conjugal affection
Prevailing over fear, and timerous doubt [ 740 ]
Hath led me on desirous to behold
Once more thy face, and know of thy estate.
If aught in my ability may serve
To light'n what thou suffer'st, and appease
Thy mind with what amends is in my power, [ 745 ]
Though late, yet in some part to recompense
My rash but more unfortunate misdeed.

Sam. Out, out Hyæna; these are thy wonted arts,
And arts of every woman false like thee,
To break all faith, all vows, deceive, betray, [ 750 ]
Then as repentant to submit, beseech,
And reconcilement move with feign'd remorse,
Confess, and promise wonders in her change,
Not truly penitent, but chief to try
Her husband, how far urg'd his patience bears, [ 755 ]
His vertue or weakness which way to assail:
Then with more cautious and instructed skill
Again transgresses, and again submits;
That wisest and best men full oft beguil'd
With goodness principl'd not to reject [ 760 ]
The penitent, but ever to forgive,
Are drawn to wear out miserable days,
Entangl'd with a poysnous bosom snake,
If not quick destruction soon cut off
As I by thee, to Ages an example. [ 765 ]

Leon 6:29 AM  

Emu Eggs are on sale at the NYC Union Square Greenmarket.

Enormous omelets!

Loren Muse Smith 6:37 AM  

I’m with @TomAz – this theme never fails to amuse me. Such a deceptively-little deal of taking away a letter results in such a surprise. That Islander becomes SLANDER when it loses its I for some reason just really makes me happy. I can’t explain it.

Rex – of course I had not noticed the EYELESS clue deal. So when I read that part of your post, I stopped, looked over at my puzzle, saw the clues, and thought, Wow. How did they do that? Cool. I was impressed because the clues were natural enough that I never smelled a rat. Then I continued your post and read your prediction that no one would have that reaction. Wrong. I did.

Second - on to your YOGA complaint. The main reason I never took another YOGA class was because the instructor kept asking us to take deep, audible, soul-baring breaths. I was beyond embarrassed. I felt stupid and exposed. All because the instructor continued to “make (me) take a deep breath.”

Third – I loved seeing EQUUS in the grid. My mind wandered to see an Equus vacuuming while wearing her muumuu. Continuum.

@Matt – you get the award for comment of the day. I wish I had thought of that.

Sande, Jeff – thanks for the amusement.

FLAC 7:01 AM  

Completely opposite reaction than grumpy old Rex. “Randy Quad” alone was worth the price of admission.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Really, really well done. Theme is a hoot and fill is impressive. Cluing on the easy side. I like that ‘eyeless’ is I-less.

I can think of a 'cheekier clue' for GREEK RUNS.

Having no “I”s sure left room for a lot of “U”s.

kodak jenkins 7:18 AM  

Look- if you're gonna complain about this theme then you have to complain about all themes because they are all contrived and superfluous to the main event of solving the clues. But why not jazz things up with some awful puns or a unifying thread or an entire puzzle without the letter i? Sheesh.

This puzzle, believe it or not, didn't thrill me to my very core so it's yet another abject failure by Will Shortz, who should immediately retire in shame and offer his job to an underappreciated crossword blogger.

Also- it was about 40% easier than the usual Wednesday.

Suzie Q 7:22 AM  

I did notice a certain awkwardness to the clues and now I know why.
Totally agree with Rex that this spoiled the puzzle.
The review also gave me a grin because a motto at my house is:
Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
The dogs haven't completely figured that out yet.
XXX for ale? I expected something stronger.
Isn't a pyre for the already dead?
Pretty grim clue along with Equus as Rex pointed out.
Was that necessary? C'mon now.

@ Lewis Nice one! Clam to fame. Ha!

kitshef 7:23 AM  

@LMS 1) - your 2nd best avatar ever. @LMS2 - consider taking another class with a different teacher. I've had dozens of instructors and while some have encouraged audible breath, none have pressured me and most have not mentioned it at all. @Matt - I see you beat me to it.

QuasiMojo 7:28 AM  

"I" is mystified with this exercise in inanity.

So you take the I out and you end up with Randy Quad (for Quaid) and we are supposed to get excited about that? Seriously, from hunger. The New York Islanders are a hockey team, (with no I in it) right? But rarely does one refer to someone as a "New York Islander." And some of you get the giggles from it turning into slander? (And apparently someone else got the "Greek Runs" from another. The cure for that is to eat EMU eggs.)

Rex, you mystify me too. You say no one is "eyeless"? I've known many people who are. It hardly seems like an appropriate or tasteful subject for a crossword puzzle. And you are dead right about Equus being tactless here.

But the worst of it is it takes two people to come up with tired, stale, boring fill such as the endlessly appearing OSLO, ALE, EAVE, EKE, ATOLL, ALE, EMU, ASP, URN, UNO, STAT, AVA, OREO, PELE, OPT, SRO, LYE, RUR, COT, RENO, and LSAT?

The editor should have thrown this one on the reject PYRE.

Joe 7:36 AM  

I'm glad I'm not the only one who wrote SHE'S A for the grand old flag clue, not noticing that it doubled the 'a'. And I had POPUP, too. However, EXCEL was a gimme, and then there was only one possible thing that goes on a bagel and ends in 'x', so I knew both of those had to be wrong, and the 'o' from LOX got me to YOU'RE.

Wm. C. 8:07 AM  

I wonder if Rex liked this puzzle ...??? ;-). Actually, his comments in that first paragraph are pretty much correct, but I don't think that they add up to the overall condemnatory spin he put on them.

This played a bit hard for a Weds for me, probably due to the odd theme fill. I had all the themers except for Randy before sussing out Eyeless, so the I-less theme was pretty much lost on me. Overall, though, an enjoyable puzzle.

benjaminthomas 8:07 AM  

UGA near Atlanta? A bit of a stretch - it is an hour and half drive, probably much longer on game days.

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

Excellent puzzle and clever theme. I am also impressed with the amount of effort it took to keep all the i's out of the puzzle. Kudos to Jeff. I think Jeff is on the Shortz team, but there is no reason to hate his puzzles because of that. This was an enjoyable way to start the day.

Glenn Woodruff 8:09 AM  

I find orthodoxy here astounding!
My immediate reaction to this puzzle was to start working on on ones without As, Es, Os, Us, or Ys!
Or one without any vowels at all.
Or better yet, one without any consonants.

Mark N 8:14 AM  

A breezy, enjoyable solve. RANDYQUAD really got me for whatever reason.
There's no consequence per se to the theme, but goofy self-made challenges never hurt anyone. Not easy to extend that rule to prose or blog posts and sound natural, that's for sure -- my comment serves as proof!

'merican in Paris 8:20 AM  

@Alexander 6:02 AM:

THANX for the explanation of STAT. Wow, I'd say that's pretty obscure, as in Friday or Saturday obscure. How many people outside a hospital operating theater have ever had somebody yell "STAT!" at them and mean, "on the double!"

mmorgan 8:25 AM  

I liked the I-less theme answers, especially SOCALBUTTERFLY (before getting that first themer, I briefly thought this might be a rebus). I did spend some time contemplating the possibilities of what NEW YORK SLAiNDER might mean. (Duh.). And I have to admit that when I read the revealer and realized there were no I's in any answers *or* clues, my first thought was , "Oh, that's kinda cool..."

Wm. C. 8:36 AM  

'Mericans -- sheesh, never heard of STAT?. I guess they didn't air Ben Casey or Dr. Kildare or M*A*S*H over there. Oops, I guess I'm showing my age. ;-)

pmdm 8:42 AM  

This puzzle has certainly elicited opposite reactions from those posting here.Let's try to figure this out in a non-Trump manner.

We all know (or should know) the Mr. Sharp seems to hate Mr. Chef (not personally but as a constructor). So you might have figured after solving this puzzle that the write-up would moan and groan about the puzzle, and include substantial tortured logic in its condemnation of the puzzle.

The four theme answers that drop the "i"s belong to a common type of puzzle that introduces some type of wordplay that is supposed to strike solvers as humorous. One either likes that type of wordplay or not. In general, those who like that type of wordplay will normally like the puzzle and vice versa. It doesn't make the puzzle good or bad, an objective judgment forced by a subjective response.

To me, the difficulty level of the puzzle felt mostly like that of a Monday or Tuesday puzzle. I am accepting of more crosswordese earlier in the week, and on that level I will not complain about the fill, even if it might be sub-par for a Wednesday.

I did not find the clues tortured and would not have noticed the trick without the reveler clue. That impresses me. I would call that feat notable, although some commenting here disagree.

mathgent et al: Even though you all and Mr. Sharp reacted similarly to the puzzle, given that a significant number enjoyed the puzzle suggests that indeed it should have been published.

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

Randy Quaid announced last December that he would run against Bernie Sanders for Senate from Vermont. Since then, not a peep.

There is no I in "team" 8:50 AM  

Ths puzzle was not offensve.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

Totally agree about SOAK. Liked the SOCAL BUTTERFLY though.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

What do you call a deer with no eyes? No ideer.

pabloinnh 9:04 AM  

Is it a good day to say "stunt puzzle"? It's always a good day to say "stunt puzzle"! I seem to remember a puzzle from days gone by where the only vowel was "e". Anyone else? That was a good stunt puzzle too.

Also had OFFWEEKS first and noticed the theme at SOCALBUTTERFLY, not when writing it in but when reading it later.

When crossword puzzles start annoying me, I'll find another form of amusement. Until then I'm in for the long haul.

Z 9:14 AM  

While in Ohio I visited a local craft brewer and tried a featured IPA. Blech. Only post ordering did I bother to read that the brewmaster had used 32 varieties of hops. Definitely an example of more is less. I liked the themers. I thought going next level and taking out all I’s from the puzzle was pointless but sorta cute, maybe. Taking the I’s out of the clues, though? Who cares? Absolutely no one. More is less.

@LMS - I beg to differ. You didn’t react until the I-lessness was pointed out. This is the equivalent of having a pangram in the clues. Oooh Oooh splat.

My too oft stated position is if you’re going to go wacky, go big. RANDY QUAD fits this for me. The other three not so much. NEW YORK SLANDER had potential, but the clue editor pulled their punch. GREEK RUNS wackiness probably couldn’t pass the breakfast test, so we get a tepid marathon clue. Agamemnon‘s Revenge isn’t a thing, but I bet we would have sussed the meaning. I don’t know what you do to raise a smile with SOCAL BUTTERFLY. So, decent themers that I would have liked to see jazzed up some. I also liked most of the longer fill, although LEMUR week shouldn’t be a thing. KUNG FU also strikes me as so 1970. Unlike Rex, I liked the morbidness of seeing EQUUS in the puzzle. In short, a pretty good puzzle that could have better with more focus on wordplay and less emphasis on letter-play.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  


Soak is definitely a noun. I don't know who wrote it, but Randolph Scott uses it when strong-arming Edgar Buchanan in "Ride the High Country". The line is something like " now listen, you old soak..."
It's the scene where Scott rousts a badly hung over Buchanan and bullies him into averring in the miner's court that he has no license (because Scott physically takes the paper). Anyway too much info, but thought you should know. Surprised you don't.

Amelia 9:20 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
FrankStein 9:24 AM  

I'm surprised "soak" as a noun is new to Rex. "Old soak" is a common expression for a drunk, albeit vintage. I found one example on google where Thomas Paine was called "that old soak." It's certainly not unknown and not new to crosswords.

Amelia 9:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
michiganman 9:33 AM  

Clever, creative and easy puzzle. Fun.

Re: EQUUS: Another perspective:

The Hyundai EQUUS is a full-size limousine produced by the South Korean manufacturer Hyundai since 1999. In 2009, Hyundai released the second generation ...

Equus magnus appears to be an ancestor of the modern horse. Based on its stripes, it may be the African variant of Equus giganteus, which appeared in North America during the Ice Age, but that is pure conjecture. Its behavior in the wild is similar to that of other wild members of the Equus genus - it sustains itself by grazing, while keeping safe from predators by living in herds and outrunning its attackers via superior speed and stamina.

Be offended if you must.

Nancy 9:41 AM  

I, too, didn't notice that the clues were also I-less. Which makes it harder to replace the clue for EYELESS (36A) -- a clue that I found insensitive. Why didn't they clue this answer in a kinder, gentler way, I wondered? I bet I can come up with something less...unfortunate.

And so I did. But I came up with my substitutes before finding out that the clues have to be I-less. I'll give them to you nonetheless, and then go back to the drawing board:

1. Descriptor of a sewing needle you can't thread
2. Descriptor of some crickets and salamanders

Now I'll go back to the drawing board. Like @Loren, I loved NEW YORK SLANDER. The rest of the puzzle I found Meh, with the exception of the I-lessness stunt. And the I-lessness stunt really didn't affect my solve in any way at all.

RooMonster 9:50 AM  

Hey All !
Easy puz except for that SE corner. Holy SUET! Got a DNF down there. NENA was waaay out of the ether to me. Had enyA there, plus RECetAL, because RECUSAL was a WOE.

Had some erasures, YOUR A (even though that's not correct:-)) for YOURE, rough-APRON, and another EQU__ genus.

Enjoyed the themers. LOL at the GREEK RUNS observers. Good stuff. Also got a hoot from revealer EYELESS. So a GOOD puz, even though that SE worked me over. Two F's today, plus two Q's. How ELOQUENT. :-)

(Case you hadn't seen, my post had no I's.) (Well, except for that one :-))

GILL I. 9:51 AM  

SO CAL was my first EYELESS. I thought this was going to be fun. It was and it wasn't. The fun was trying to figure out if this was a rebus or if we were going for a pangram or if we were in for an up and down type theme. So I meander to the middle and get the EYELESS theme. That was kinda fun. What gave me a few too may UGA's were the OREO YAPS EKED OUT SOPH AJAR yada yada crossword stale staple. OUCH indeed.
I've used ODD sock. Why is the DUCK ODD? SOAK gave me fits. Took me forever to figure out what those little horny students were doing in the QUAD. Was it RED HOT?
Is the woodpecker the only thing to eat SUET? What a strange clue. NENA is a German singer who had a #2 song? WOW. Fascinating. My flag was a SHE'S for a while. Thank you LOX but why are you on top of a salty bagel?
I thought the idea for this puzzle was clever but the cluing seemed off to me. Poor Joan of Arc...ending up in a PYRE of ashes. Wasn't she burned at the stake? Ghandi was the PYRE guy.
California continues to burn.

Jim Lemire 10:01 AM  

My fastest Wednesday yet, but an enjoyable puzzle nonetheless. The theme was fun and the clues looked “normal” to me - regular crossword clues to my eye (ha!!). The complete EYELESSness of the puzzle (clues and answers) was lost on me before Rex revealed the full theme here. Contrary to Rex’s annoyance over such a “weak theme”, my enjoyment was actually enhanced by the post-solve revelation. What a clever puzzle maker!

Ps. To not use one of the most common letters took much longer than expected 😎

Ellen S 10:03 AM  

Agree with @Rex that EQUUS is a morbid answer to put in an “EYELESS” puzzle, but it’s obscure if you don’t know the play. “Feather’s partner” on the other hand, really made me cringe. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood, what with the current political environment and all, but a light-hearted reference to a racially inspired torture method, kind of spoiled things. Except for that (“Except for that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”) I liked the puzzle. Never realized there were no “I’s” in the grid or any of the clues. I sure hope I never have to be a crime witness.

tb 10:07 AM  

I've heard or read SOAK before, so no problem. Synonyms: souse, tosspot (my favorite), elbow-bender, dipsomaniac. I'd be able to think of more if I weren't feeling so crapulous this morning.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

Curious, is an eyeless sewing needle a real thing?

'merican in Paris 10:15 AM  

@Wm. C. 8:36 AM

"Sheesh, never heard of STAT?. I guess they didn't air Ben Casey or Dr. Kildare or M*A*S*H over there."

I watched those shows as a kid in the old U.S. of A. (and also a few episodes of House over here), but if I ever heard the term, I probably assumed they were making a contraction of "What's that?" = "stat?".

Rainbow 10:20 AM  

You're a grand old flag
You're a high-flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave
You're the emblem of
The land I love
The home of the free and the brave
Ev'ry heart beats true
Under red, white and blue
Where there's never a boast or brag
But should old acquaintance be forgot
Keep your eye on the grand old flag

Ellen S 10:34 AM  

@tb, crapulous is how you feel when, after imbibing too much the night before, you wake up with a real katzenjammer, right?

‘mericans, also General Hospital, ER, Scrubs, Gray’s Anatomy, and dozens of others. Only if YOU’RE one of those rare people who spend their time productively instead of watching tv, can you have missed all those doctor shows, where someone is yelling “Get me a ____, STAT!| at least once per episode.

Hand up here for popuP and she’s a.

Isn’t BLOOP is what the trolls say, in the Discworld novels?

The Pedant 10:37 AM  

The clue for NEWYORK(I)SLANDER is off. The Bronx is not on an island. In fact, it is the only one of the five boroughs comprising New York City that isn't an island. A Bronxite ain't an Islander. No thonx for that clue. I did get deked by the Proper-Name-as-Initial-Word-in-Clue misdirection as I searched my memory for any butler wandering through the scenes in Gone With The Wind. Also agree with Rex on SOAK.

JC66 10:42 AM  

@The Pedant

And Randy Quaid isn't a college student.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Anon. 10:14 - sewing needles always have eyes - the relationship between the size of the eye and the size of the hole created by the passage of the needle is one of the keys to the different types of needle, and was a major factor in the early technology of sewing (needles limited by the ability to create an eye without fracturing the needle itself). Tuning pins on stringed instruments are an analogous structure that may have eyes or not (early harpsichord wires were most often wrapped around an eyeless pin; on modern instruments the wire passes through an eye at the top of the pin).

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

@unknown 8:55
and what do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs?
"still no ideer"
and what if the same deer lacks genitals?
"still no f***ing ideer"

What do you call a fish with no eyes?

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

He's baaaaaaack!

Suzie Q 11:02 AM  

@ GILL.I, That's what I was trying to say about Joan of Arc. I thought it was a bad clue because isn't a pyre a sort of cremation?
I suppose if you are burned at the stake it ends up being a pyre but it doesn't start out that way.

Speaking of morbid topics, @ Ellen S. Being tarred and feathered didn't strike me as racially tinged but maybe that's just me. I think of swindlers, cheats, and that sort of low-life being tarred and feathered. Maybe carpet baggers? I recently saw "Lawless" and someone was tarred as a message to some moonshiners. Graphic terrible scene.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

@ Jim Lemire - Fixed it for ya: " ... the post-solve reveal."

Masked and Anonymous 11:05 AM  

Not a real deep theme idea, but I like the results, bigtime. Woulda been cool, if the grid had *every* letter except I … but it is also missin the Z. Also … too bad, that "edited by", "Will Shortz" and "Sande Milton" each contain an "I". But, hey -- 13 U's buy a lotta grid cred, with the M&A, sooo … ok.


staff weeject pick: UGA. Better clue = {Bts of sugar found n the mddle??}.

Clues were kinda feisty, perhaps partly because they had to leave out all the "I" matter? [See better UGA clue, above.]

Primo write-up, @RP. Great hi-lite bullets. Thanx.

And thanx for the fun, Mr. Milton and Mr. Chenmeister. Now get to work on that obvious sequelpuz … one that leaves out all the A ,E, and O. And has a Z.

Masked & Anonymo13Us


Nancy 11:06 AM  

[Curious] Anon 10:14: I should hope not! I have enough trouble threading a needle that does have an EYE!

puzzlehoarder 11:15 AM  

This puzzle took everything I can't stand about crosswords and distilled it into one insufferable groan fest. I briefly fell into the POPUP/BLOOP trap in the NE and for a moment thought 8A might be part of a reversed word theme. That wasn't hard to figure out but for some reason resistance like that kept cropping up.

The SE corner was the icing on the cake. Woodpeckers eat SUET? RECUSAL nixed GRUB and I had no idea who the actor or the popstar we're. Now I was forced to play the silly theme game and try to image what pun could complete the GREEK entry. It was like being stuck in an elevator that's playing Barry Manilow music. Luckily 57D could only be LANG or LSAT and I mostly solved it from that.

I say mostly because I wound up with a STET dnf. This is worse than people getting tripped up by ANYA crossing TYE yesterday. ANYA is one of those sleeper entries that can fly under the radar until a tough crossing forces you to deal with it. Forgetting something as heavily used as STAT is a brain fart induced by how badly I wanted to OPT-out of this puzzle.

Thank you @ Quasimojo for listing the litany of stale ese we we're forced to eat in order to be served three dad jokes. It's no wonder this was all around bad.

Just remember therest no I in "failure." Oh wait there is.

jberg 11:22 AM  

C'mon, @Rex, if nobody is gonna notice the eyelessness of the clues, how did you know it was the case? Did Jeff Chen point it out in an email? No, I'm betting you actually did notice it, so probably someone else did as well -- not me, though.

And, of course, you can practice YOGA without an instructor, in which case the practice might make you take a deep breath. You might even do it spontaneously.

For some reason, John Milton quotes his play extensively without including the relevant line, which occurs much earlier in the play:

Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke.

That bit starts at line 40 - not really all that obscure.

So I liked it fine, except for the ED BARlS/lENA crossing, which made it DNF for me.

@Loren, yeah, great avatar -- it sort of hints at the GREEK RUNS, as well.

"Reporter's non-W query" was a great clue, IMO. I was thinking non-W must be something like non-PC or non-U and trying to think what it might be, when suddenly came the dawn.

I guess if you're going to leave out all the Is, you have to fall back and old stalwarts like OSLO/OGRE and ASP/AJAR, not to mention EMUS.

Now I'm off to the vet -- he's a bit of an ODD DUCK, but he's the only one who can cure my ILL LLAMA.

old timer 11:23 AM  

SOCAL BUTTERFLY justified the theme, IMO. And to me, having no i's in any of the clues was an amazing and impressive feat, because the clues were still reasonable qua clues. I was less amused by NEW YORK SLANDER because I never think about the Islanders at all.

I am mystified by @Pedant's observations. Residents of any of the boroughs could be guilty of NEW YORK SLANDER and could also be be Islander fans. And two of the five boroughs are islands (Manhattan and Staten), one is on the mainland, and two are neither, they are on a small part of Long Island (also known as Lawn Guyland). Extra credit, fans, if you know the *county* names of the five boroughs. As a lawyer, I do. Two are the same as the name of the borough, three are not.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

Jeff and Sande: Thank you for providing me with a warm-up to my work day. I hope you can ignore the haters.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, criticize.

Adam S 11:24 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle more than any other than for weeks - and the cluing didn't feel significantly more stilted that most crosswords. Also, my 10-year old daughter who is starting to get into crosswords thought it was really brilliant.

Sometimes feels like Rex confuses gaps in his knowledge with unfair clues. ANNA Pavlova is one of the most famous dancers in history. And she had one of my favorite desserts named after her.

I also wrote in NENA straight away, but think that was more a function of 99 Red Balloons being almost exactly at the age I started to pay attention to music - might have been fairer to work "balloon" into the clue somewhere.

Also a little surprised to see the comment on LOX - thought it was a given that was the answer to pretty much every 3-letter clue containing "bagel"!

tb 11:31 AM  

@Ellen S, yep. My friends in Germany used to call it a "Kater" (tomcat). As in, "ich habe so einen Kater."

Bax'N'Nex 11:33 AM  

You would think a vacation would make Michael more pleasant...wrong.

I realize I am a simpleton by some folk's standards here (and the blog "jester", Mike), but I enjoyed the word-play. To be able to see a new word or phrase that makes sense without the "i" is pretty fun and clever.

Merl would have liked this puzzle, Mike. He did these all the time.

Bob Mills 11:36 AM  

It's obvious Rex is back. The insults are flying. I do agree with him about "SOAK," however. A drunkard can get soaked, but a drunkard isn't a soak.

Chip Hilton 11:37 AM  

Here’s the appeal: After I got it with NEWYORKSLANDER, I went up to the partially-completed SOCALBUTTERFLY. I actually started writing SOCiAL but realized they were looking for SOCAL. At that moment, I tittered. Aloud. I found it cute and clever. So, sue me.

GILL I. 11:38 AM  

@Suzy Q...At times, I'll post before reading all the comments. My VERY first thought upon seeing the clue for PYRE was UGH. I was very young when I saw a film about Gandhi and in it he was laid upon a PYRE after his death and cremated. Gruesome as hell for innocent eyes. Then we get to Joan. Hell, she got the stake.
There's a lot of unpleasant imagery here. I'd also forgotten the Shaffer play telling the story of a 17 year old who blinded 6 horses. EQUUS sitting on top of URN!!! Then we have @Ellen's TAR and feather imagery. I wanted CAP. Then we have EYELESS things floating about as well as a RANDY QUAD (I prefer HORNY) and images of GREEK RUNS.
OUCH indeed!

Jim Lemire 11:40 AM  

@Anonymous 11:05 - aw shite! I thought I nailed it. I actually wonder if it was an autocorrected typo! I swear I had it. 😞Thanks nonetheless

Outside The Box 11:44 AM  

Totally agree with Rex: Soak is a ridiculous (read stupid) answer.

Malsdemare 11:45 AM  

Worked for me. Although the feat of leaving out the Is was lost on yours truly. I scratched my head at NEWYORKSLANDER, missed the missing I in SOCALBUTTERFLY and GREEKRUNS, and thought RANDY's name was missing an "e" on the end. Clever puzzles are simply lost on me. Even with a revealer I fail more often than not to go back and suss out the trick. Sigh!

I know nothing about the play EQUUS, other than the name, so I'm clueless about why it’s gruesome here. I knew STAT (I've seen it used in contexts other than medical), ANNA, LOX (I think salty modifies topper, not bagel), and most of the rest. Got 'er done in record time.

Rex often decries the lack of women constructors, but I don't see him moaning this morning about how only TWO women are constructors for Lollapuzzoola. TWO of EIGHT, a measly 25%. just sayin’....

Noam D. Elkies 11:47 AM  

My false turn on the central 24D:CUTLASS was "CUirASS". Which is closer but still nope.

The theme and I-less gimmick would have been fine by me if it could have been done without the Natick at 43D:ED_BUR?S / 64A:?ENA. i guessed N. YAWN (Yet Another Wretched Name). Also no resonance with RANDY QUAiD, but at least I'd heard that name even if I couldn't tell you anything about him except it was some showbiz or maybe sportz dude.


Banana Diaquiri 11:49 AM  

deep breathing, from the belly not the chest, is the fundamental practice of YOGA and has nothing to do with exertion.

EYELESS in Gaza is much better as a Huxley novel. YMMV

Malsdemare 11:57 AM  

Thanks, @Gill for enlightening me about the play EQUUS; ugh! But on my end, I just finished evaluating two mini horses for pet therapy and they are part of a group called Equine Dreams. EQUUS just made me smile. It’s all about context, isn't it?

Z 12:02 PM  

@jberg - 36 Unable to see... or, when taken as a homophone, what today’s puzzle answers and clues all are (italics added for emphasis)
I imagine online solvers may have had that clue truncated, but the reveal pretty much says “we know you won’t notice so we’re explaining it for you.” Without the clue writer jumping up and down, waving, and yelling “Yoi Hoo Looky Here” someone might have noticed. To me, that would have been better. It’s a puzzle, let us puzzle it out.

The Pedant 12:03 PM  

@ old timer
I think your argument is a bit of a stretch and most NY Ranger fans would agree. And looking at a map, Queens and Brooklyn are on an island, Long Island, so not sure how the geography is mystifying. In answer to your question, New York, Bronx, Queens, Kings and Richmond are the names of the counties.

Unknown 12:07 PM  

I’m always surprised by the controversial clues of the day. I grew up watching baseball and ER - BLOOP and STAT are perfectly natural to me. ELL for annex, however, is downright impressionistic. No one?

Didn’t realize the extent of the eyelessness before I got here. For a stunt (and that’s what themes are), I’ll call it valid.

Z 12:09 PM  

@Jim Lemire - revelation is the more common noun while reveal had always been a verb, although HGTV has nounized “reveal.” I think you were good the first time.

Joseph Michael 12:09 PM  

Kaui cave wolf spiders, southern cave crayfish, and Mexican tetra are also eyeless.

jb129 12:14 PM  

I enjoyed it.

Hartley70 12:15 PM  

Oh, the puzzle was a little delight for me. It wasn’t difficult, but I didn’t find it Wednesday boring at all. Drop any letter from the grid and clues and I’m going to get a kick. RANDYQUAD was my fav.

EQUUS didn’t strike me as bad taste. Heck, I wasn’t offended when I sat in the audience on Broadway, so a crossword clue and answer isn’t going to get a rise from me.

While I prefer a general ban on OREOs both in life and in crosswords, thank you for an entertaining clue today. You had me for a minute.

Z 12:19 PM  

Also, if you’re not familiar with the play EQUUS this wiki article will help explain why the inclusion is so dark.

dale tousley 12:22 PM  

I don't think Rhett Butler ever actually visited Tara, he was a guest at 12 Oaks where he met Scarlet and then she moved to Atlanta.

jb129 12:24 PM  

BTW - who would all of you pick on - if not Rex?????

JC66 12:31 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 12:32 PM  

60A: Helenic dysentery (or trots. or flux). No "i's"

JC66 12:38 PM  

@The Pedant

At the risk of being redundant:

The clue for 44A is "putdown for someone from Manhattan or the Bronx." the answer is NEW YORK SLANDER.

The putdown is the slander. There's nothing here that says/implies. people from Manhattan or the Bronx are islanders. Just like the clue for 16A doesn't say/imply that RANDY QUAiD is a student.

Malsdemare 12:42 PM  

@anonymous 12:32. Those I's are sneaky buzzards: helenIc.

Jim Lemire 1:05 PM  

@Z except ‘revelation’ has the letter ‘i’

BobL 1:06 PM  

Must be regional, but soak is part of my vernacular (WI)

Teedmn 1:08 PM  

I finished under my usual Wednesday time but that SE really tried to trip me up. I had a very similar experience as @chefwen, except I wasn't thinking straight on what Kaplan course subjects were - I mixed it up with Rosetta and put in Lang. Then decided 67A must be asAp. Hmm, a course in L__p? While I didn't clear it up STAT, I did figure it out successfully.

I got the theme right away at RANDY QUAD. Like @LMS, I thought ISLANDER losing its I was fun. I put in EQUUS but if it was crossing Karate, was it supposed to be EQUaS? (I didn't put that in but...). I winced at Joan's PYRE but figured there were EYELESS creatures that didn't involve maiming (earthworms, for example) so that one didn't bother me.

Like so many, I missed that there were no I's in the grid or in the clues but I appreciate the extra effort. Nice one, Sande and Jeff.

OISK 1:17 PM  

44 A - I 'd have preferred "Lies about someone..." and it didn't matter which boroughs were chosen. A put-down can be accurate, while slander can't. Didn't like Nena crossing Anna, although Anna was well clued AFAIAC. In all, though, I liked this puzzle.

tea73 1:32 PM  

I disagree with OFL, yoga nearly always includes some deep breathing exercises, not just exercises that make you pant.

I found this remarkably easy - about half my usual time and only a little over 2x Rex. (My average is 3x Rex.) Completely agree that leaving letters out of the clues is totally pointless and adds not a whit to the puzzle solving experience. I am impressed though that the answers were all EYELESS. (Which, yes, is a pretty uninteresting revealer on its own.)

I lived in Germany when NENA had her big hit and was aware that she had made an English language version of the song that also did very well.

I chuckled at the EQUUS, (saw the play with Leonard Nimo as the psychiatrist), but back in the day I liked dead baby jokes too. Those two U's look so wrong! I almost spelled it with two S's, but luckily thought better of it.

I agree that I've heard STAT in a thousand medical dramas. Maybe even journalism dramas.

Woodpeckers mostly eat insects which they find in unhealthy trees.

Whatsername 2:16 PM  

As usual, I agree with Rex. It’s nice to have him back.

Banana Diaquiri 2:16 PM  

Woodpeckers mostly eat insects which they find in unhealthy trees.

which is why they can be irritatingly noisy, esp. a few at a time. as to SUET, it's sold in my grocery store next to the cat and dog food as wild bird feed, mostly in winter months. any wild bird would establish the clue.

mathgent 2:27 PM  

I went to dinner at my local restaurant last night. I had the special and it wasn't very good. While I was finishing dessert, the waiter told me that the chef had done something different that afternoon. To make the special distinctive, he didn't use any ingredients from Marin county, even though some of his favorite produce is grown there. But by making some skillful substitutions, he felt good about how the dish turned out. That changed everything for me. OK, the food wasn't good, but look at how hard the chef had to work to prepare it. Wow!

Birdlady 2:31 PM  

Woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches all love suet.
Partly because they love clinging to the wire cages you hang it up with.

Z 2:49 PM  

OT here.

@Jim Lemire - Those I's are sneaky buzzards

@mathgent - Tee Hee.

Anonymous 3:41 PM  

No. That's not correct. plenty of "wild" birds, most in fact, won't touch suet. Birdlady is correct, chickadees will occasionally eat it, titmice, nuthatches too.
But my God, no raptor will touch it. No duck will go near it. No wading bird, no peep, no gull, no rail, no bunting, or lark, or sparrow, or hummingbird, or mimic thrushes (or their allies) most passerines for that matter. Please stop talking out of your hat.

By the way, in eastern North America, only pileated woodpeckers use dead or dying trees most of the time. all the species, feed on healthy and not-so-health trees equally.

Doc John 3:45 PM  

EYELESS wouldn't have bothered me on any other day. Today, however, I saw this very sad story.

Banana Diaquiri 4:00 PM  


well, a hanging bird feeder, which is how suet is offered, wouldn't attract a duck or a wading bird, now would it? they have bills, not beaks, so would be kind of difficult to get at in that wire thingee one uses. so, not 'any' in the universe of birds. 'most any' beaked birds that fly. pfui.

John Child 4:14 PM  

“Agamemnon’s revenge” is wickedly funny.

Anonymous 4:24 PM  

A wonderful and touching pyre scene is in a good, thought-provoking movie with the unfortunate title of Captain Fantastic. It has nothing to do with comic books. For all of you cougars and kittens it stars Vigo Mortenson (or however he spells his name).
Any traumatizing pyre thoughts you may have will fall away after you watch it.

Aketi 5:00 PM  

@LMS, Great avatar.

I guess having worked for Helen Keller International for about seven years gave me a lot of empathy for the EYELESS. One of the better programs I saw for the rehabilitation of the blind was run by a small nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Phnom Penh that taught the blind to give massages. Our Country Director often coordinated with the little NGOs and because he liked their program he set up a visit for us. The Executive Director had come on that trip and was exceptionally high maintenance and squeamish. So our Country Director made sure that our Executive Director received a massage from a nice looking woman who like many of the blind did have EYES. The Country Director knew that I had seen a lot during my time in Niger in the malnutrition wards and knew that I would have no problem having a massage from the young man who had lost his EYES as well as his nose when acid was poured over his head. It was the best massage of my life. Still kinda brings tears to my EYES to think of how resilient he was after such a severe experience. So my association with EYELESS is one of respect for resilience among those who lost them.

OISK 5:06 PM  

I have a suet feeder. Sparrows, house finches, starlings and jays will go to it, especially when the seed feeders are empty. The suet disappears quickly in the winter, and we seldom see chickadees, titmice or nuthatches in our yard.

Nancy 5:07 PM  

Wonderfully amusing analogy, @mathgent (2:27)! While I would never have thought to put it that way, therein lies the problem with this puzzle and all many other puzzles in which the "crunchiness" is all about the constructor's creative challenge. As for the solver's solving challenge? A secondary consideration, if considered at all.

OISK 5:07 PM  

I have a suet feeder. Sparrows, house finches, starlings and jays will go to it, especially when the seed feeders are empty. The suet disappears quickly in the winter, and we seldom see chickadees, titmice or nuthatches in our yard.

Fashionista 5:10 PM  

All the lousy TV medical shows have doctors yelling “Stat”. Ad nauseum

JC66 5:13 PM  


Wonderful antidote!

Nancy 5:14 PM  

Started to write "all the other puzzles..." Changed it to "the many other puzzles..." Ended up with "all many other puzzles..." Sorry.

Unknown 5:38 PM  

The one piece of brilliance in a bad puzzle is New Yoirk Slander which then drops the I. Islander makes no sense.

Anonymous 5:41 PM  

@EllenS 10:03 AM: So, TAR and feather-BAD. Stale joke about history changing presidential assassination-GOOD

Blue Stater 5:41 PM  

Deeply silly, as OFL has shown with his customary erudition. We deserve better. Sorry to have to keep saying this.

Crimson Devil 5:56 PM  

Test new kid

JC66 6:16 PM  

@C Devil


BarbieBarbie 7:16 PM  

@Banana et al,
We actually have one robin who goes for our suet. If thrushes are all like robins, one reason they might skip the suet is that those tummies make it hard to hang on and also peck. Suet’s fatty like bugs, so yeah, it’s the bug-eaters that want it. Too bad for those of you who don’t have nuthatches. They are real gymnasts and fun to watch.

JC66 7:39 PM  

I live in NYC and the only bird I'm familiar with (aside from pigeons) is the one you flip.

Anonymous 9:10 PM  

Where to start? How about this? All birds have bills. Yeah. Ducks included. Not even casual birders, let alone ornithologists, use the term beak.
More important, of the 750 or so species of birds that occur in North America, less than a dozen are regulars at suet feedees.
Sure there are oddballs that try a food source, though I'd kill for legit confirmation of Oisk's report, but your original claim that any wild bird woukd be a legit clue for suet feder is demonstrably bankrupt.

Aketi 9:27 PM  

@JC66, my son’s 2nd grade teacher would have a thing to say about the notion that pigeons are the only bird besides the ones I flip at tour buses on Central Park West that are parked in bike lanes. She took the kids to the park once a week for the entire fall to study birds with an elaborate curricula that included math, science, reading, writing, art, and ecology embedded in those walks. I didn’t keep much of my son’s school work but I did keep the book he wrote called “World of the Ospreys”. To date she was the most amazing teacher I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. There are an incredible number of species in Central Park including hawks.

NatCommSteve 9:29 PM  


Anonymous 9:46 PM  

Wow. After reading your drivel for years, you got it right.
Central Park is certainly the great oaisis, but there are scores of wonderful birding spots around the 5 boroughs.
For you: a good many of the neotropicaL warblers that arrive in Central Park each May have migrated from Brazil. Thankfully, they dont blather on about ju jitzu. Or make bizarre claims about gender and or sex.

JC66 9:47 PM  


Yeah, when I do the loop in Central Park, it's not unusual to run into a group of birders checking out the local bird population. Just not my thing.

Nancy 10:22 PM  

I'm not a birder. Birds get up very, very early in the morning and, therefore, so do birders. I do not get up very, very early in he morning. Nevertheless, without actively seeking them out, here are some of the birds I've seen personally in Central Park:

*A cormorant flying over the Reservoir
*A bright red cardinal after a fresh, deep snowfall, etched against a silent white background. That was my most thrilling sighting.
*Hawks. Mommy hawks, Daddy hawks and Baby hawks. There's a nest across from the sailboat pond at 72nd street. Pale Male, the patriarch, is world-famous. He's been on PBS.
*Seagulls over the Reservoir.
*Geese and ducks on the Reservoir. There are even more geese at the lake
*Huge numbers of the iridescent blue and black birds near the tennis courts. Are they grackles or starlings? I'm never quite sure.
*Blue jays
*Robins -- and not only in the spring
*More sparrows than you can count -- at least as many as there are pigeons, @JC66.

I've left many, many kinds of birds out. Some that I've forgotten about and some that were so rare I couldn't identify them. According to Audubon, there are more than 200 species in Central Park. Central Park is surprisingly wild. Which is why I love it.

JC66 10:25 PM  


I've seen more fingers than birds (I bet you have, too).

GILL I. 10:43 PM  

@Banana. Whose lawn did your dog caca on? Holy Cannoli.
@Aketi.. At least you know someone reads you. Mostly likely @Banana's troll after his dog left a present.
@JC66 and @Nancy. I sometimes wish I were a birder. Love those critters. I have two Hummingbirds that Come to visit me when I'm eating breakfast on my patio. I've named them Chutzpah and Go Away. Smart little buggers. And guess what...They don't like SUET...just honey and sugar.

OISK 12:07 AM  

I'm trying to get to 200 species seen in NY State this year. Right now, the count is 160. @Banana - I never bothered to photograph sparrows or house finches at the suet, because I never thought that unusual. In the winter, jays will eat just about anything. Mockers prefer raisins, but they will take sunflower seed. (they have to be GOLDEN raisins for some reason.) I HAVE had nuthatches, and titmice, but not in the past 2 years. However, the suet I buy generally has some seed or fruit embedded in it, which may be what attracts the finches. Nevertheless, they consume the whole thing.

Unknown 1:48 PM  

Did anyone notice that the Barefoot Contessa’s name is “Ina” and not “Aina”? I got the eyeless theme, but this is just an error.

Michael5000 1:08 AM  

I'm speaking up here for the dummies, apparently, who thought that extending the I-less theme into the clues was kind of fun. Why? Because it's a clever playing with words -- the same general reason that we enjoy, say, doing crossword puzzles. Was it the greatest trick ever? No. But there's no reason to call it out as especially foolish, either.
This kind of thing even has a quirky literary pedigree via Georges Perec, who also would have noticed that there were no i's in the clues, and also would have thought that that was pretty tight.

thefogman 11:01 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Burma Shave 11:19 AM  


Is it ATOLL evident HOW much a GREEKRUNS?


thefogman 11:57 AM  

The SE corner gave me the most trouble and was starting to take ATOLL on me. But it all fell into place when Mrs. Foggy suggested EDBURNS which then begat NENA and STAT. Hats off to Sande Milton and Jeff Chen. The theme was clever and the solve was most enjoyable. I'd give it at a BEE plus. I'm tempted to say Rex should get off his high horse and switch to decaf, but he's an ODDDUCK and I like him like that.

spacecraft 12:11 PM  

This puzzle was something o an ODDDUCK for me; the clues were almost Monday-level. That I noticed; the fact they were EYELESS I did not, as OFL rightly complained. The byline foretold some verbal calisthenics, but I wasn't seeing any. Then when I got to the revealer and saw that "I" was absent in the whole grid PLUS all the clues? Now there's the Jeffmeister at work. But as OFL said, who knew, beforehand? Ergo, what's the point? Same reason a dog licks his...nevermind.

So, I-free clues notwithstanding, they were really simple and made for an easy-peasy solve--until wrapping up in that SE. Yikes! EDBURNS? NENA? And woodpeckers eat SUET??? I had to guess the Natick at 64; got it right. Whew!

Starting 17-across with RAND_____ I was thinking, oh no you didn't (elevate an ampersandwich to theme status)! No, thank goodness. @M&A will be in his glory with all those U's. AVA takes a DOD curtain call. The cleverness here was outside of the actual solving experience, existing only in the revealer: "Oh, how about that?" An unsatisfying trip through Wednesday that results in a bogey.

centralscrewtinizer 12:14 PM  

Only one complaint about the massive natick? Oh well, I did guess correctly. Oh, there is no i in ego.

rondo 2:23 PM  

This puz was a snap; 2X OFL's time, less than 10 minutes. Probably would not have noticed the whole EYELESS thing without the revealer clue telling me. Did a Harper's puz recently that had only Es for vowels in the answers , but no Es in any of the clues; They clued you in ahead of time.

Can't forget uber yeah baby NENA and "99 Luftballons" or "99 Red Balloons". GOOD in German or English.

Too bad there's no team in an EYELESS puz, but I like it when there's a RON.

wcutler 3:03 PM  

I liked knowing that the answers could not have an "i" - helped me reject many wrong answers, and I had a much tidier-looking completed grid than usual. I appreciated reading in this blog that the missing letters in the themers were all "i" - never twigged to that, as I don't know Randy Quaid and I was thinking local butterfly, for obviously no good reason, but I thought it was just that one letter was replaced, and I couldn't figure out which one. This blog made it a much better puzzle for me.

leftcoastTAM 4:18 PM  

Rex has a point about this puzzle overall. It's rather pointless.

Maybe should give the constructors some points, though, for perfect "I"-lessness. But that may have been more fun for them to do than for us (me) to solve.

All that aside, I found it otherwise very easy and smooth-going. Would have made a good Monday or Tuesday, maybe.

Diana,LIW 10:16 PM  

@Rondo - no team in EYELESS - ha!

Like the theme better than @Rex - not the best ever, but fine and dandy for today. Had to think a tad here and there, and really want to see those SOCALBUTTERFLies flitting about in the trees. Do they have unusual markings? (Tatoos, no doubt)

At a workshop all day so I'm late to the party. See y'all tomorrow.

Diana, LIW

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