## Thursday, January 31, 2019

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Easy, I think (I solved on paper, on a clipboard, in a comfy chair, untimed)

THEME: 212 (68D: Palindromic number) — Three long answers have this answer (212), as their clue. You have to figure out that numbers go in the "212" squares. Uh ... that's it.

• NEW YORK'S AREA CODE (18A: 68-Down)
• LINCOLN'S BIRTHDAY (42A: 68-Down with a "/" inside it)
• H20'S BOILING POINT (67A: 68-Down with a "º" after it)
Word of the Day: KIEV (49A: Capital on the Dnieper)
Kiev (/ˈkɛf-ɛv/ KEE-ef, -⁠ev) or Kyiv (UkrainianКиївtranslit. Kyiv [ˈkɪjiu̯] ()RussianКиевtranslit. Kiyev [ˈkʲi(j)ɪf]Old East SlavicКыѥвъtranslit. Kyjev) is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine, located in the north-central part of the country on the Dnieper. The population in July 2015 was 2,887,974 (though higher estimated numbers have been cited in the press), making Kiev the 7th most populous city in Europe. (wikipedia)
• • •

Got up very early and decided to forego speed-solving and just print the thing out and solve it on the clipboard. A minute or so in I was wondering what had happened to my Thursday puzzle. This felt verrrry easy and pretty non-tricksy, despite the fact that the long themers had only [Panlidromic number] as their clue and I didn't know what that number was. I balked at NEW YORK'S AREA CODE because it was my understanding that y'all had *several*. Kinda weird to just declare that 212 is it. But I digress. This was ridiculously easy, making me wish I had been speed-solving. There wasn't even any particularly hard fill or names or nothing. Even with that grid at an oversized 16x15, I feel like I'd've set a record. Oh well. There was just the one tough part for me—those 9 squares in the SW. HAW seemed obvious, but I still wasn't sure what the palindromic number was, or what three-letter thing's BOILING POINT I was dealing with, and (the real problem) I had COLA at 62D: Part of a white script on a red can (COCA), which meant my [Steak accompanier] read A--AULE. I thought maybe it was some French sauce I was unfamiliar with. I then wrote in OSS and could see the H20 thing, then I wrote in 212 and everything was cool. Moved on to the mostly empty NE corner, which was Monday-easy, and finished up there. The end. Since New York (City) has more than one area code and today *isn't* LINCOLN'S BIRTHDAY, I don't really get the theme. "Here's a thing I can do with a number" is not, on its own, that interesting to me. And since the theme is so slight, and the fill unremarkable, the only joy I got from this was the joy a lot of people will have experienced: the joy of crushing a Thursday puzzle.

[The Cold War was wild, man]

Five things:
• 33A: Novelty singer/songwriter ___ Sherman (ALLAN) — I know this from "The Simpsons," which is true of roughly half the answers in any given puzzle, and half the things I know, period

• 57D: Teaser that may include pluses and minuses (REBUS) — ok this was slightly tricky, largely because "teaser" can mean a lot of things (I think of it as a promotional ad of some kind)
• 34D: Self-reflective question ("AM I?) — Something about this paired (in my mind) with "I DID" (43D) is making me laugh and I'm not sure why.
• 12A: Leaves after dinner? (TEA) — who has TEA after dinner? I've seen this play on "leaves" a bunch before. Pretty OLDSCHOOL way to clue SALAD, actually (e.g. [Leaves before dinner?])
• 6D: Old plume source (EGRET) — the ladies hat industry at one point (around the turn of the last century, I think) actually decimated bird life in the Everglades, if I'm remembering my documentaries correctly (though now I can't remember if it was a bird documentary or a fashion documentary or what ...). Here's an article about the feather trade from the Smithsonian.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

@merican in Paris

Liked it. Would have completed it faster -- probably a personal best -- had I gotten 68D earlier. Once I DID (at about the 25-minute mark), most of the rest fell quickly. The NW was where I got hung up. Never heard of an ANI nor HOWIE MANDEL. Finally searched for the latter, so DNF.

Would have been nice to have run today's puzzle on the 12th of February, but that's a Tuesday, and I guess having an actual number as an example is too tricky for a Tuesday.

So, yesterday we had term describing an OLD SCHOOL house, and today we get the whole institution. NIECE two days in a row, too. For 9A, I wrote in E_G because sometimes the puzzles use EKG (the original, European, abbreviation), and sometimes EcG (the one more common in the 'States).

Always liked RECTO-verso, which I first heard used in Europe. Sounds like some SEXY manouver.

Request to Will Shortz: Could you please go back to describing people who are both singers and songwriters as hyphenated singer-songwriters? That was the way used exclusively until people started treating the slash as a conjunction substitute and universal punctuation mark -- round about 1996. (I blame Newt Gingrich). The slash is not an improvement on the hyphen. And here it suggests that the writer isn't sure whether the person is a singer, a songwriter, or both.

John Crowe

For many many years New York had one area code, 212. Lincoln's birthday is 2/12

Loren Muse Smith

Peter Collins is one of my favorite constructors. I had the pleasure of meeting him at an ACPT a couple of years ago and found him to be gracious and funny. AND, he’s a fellow teacher. Math. So today’s theme fits.

@’mericans – yeah, too bad LINCOLN’S BIRTHDAY didn’t fall on a Thursday this year. To have run this on a Tuesday would have been a stretch, and I imagine early-week solvers would have Really struggled with the conceit. My slap-dash, impatient google dive told me that the next time Feb 12 is on a Thursday is in 2026. I’m glad I didn’t have to wait seven years to see this. But I’m in the camp of those not getting all angry and stuff when a puzzle about a certain (holi)day doesn’t run on the proper day.

But this is not just about Lincoln’s birthday. This is an ode to the number 212. What Peter did with this was interesting maybe not to Rex, but it sure was to me.

Cottoned to the rebus really early, but I was going Roman numerals first. Dumb. Anti-inflammatory, Fiji Islands, Hawaii, Shiite… not much out there with two I’s occurring so early in the phrase. That Peter found three firmly in-the-language phrases that have the needed numeral right there in the second slot, - W2, A1, H2O – is remarkable.

On A1 - boy, I used to be such a dining snob back in my cocktail waitress days at Quinn’s Mill in Atlanta. . .

**Saturday night diner who orders a strawberry daiquiri before dinner, Thousand Island dressing, well-done steak and a request for A1: philistine who probably won’t tip well.

**Tuesday night diner who orders a Dewar’s on the rocks before dinner, vinaigrette dressing, rare steak with no A1: totally cool sophisticate who probably will tip well.

Turns out this stereotyping was neither correct nor fair; those Tuesday night people could be total jerks, and the special-occasion Saturday night people could be generous and lovely. Still, I took great pleasure in the fact that I, at 18, could join the older, jaded waiters who disparaged the hoi polloi and their cluelessness. Not a good look for anyone.

Now that I’m proudly a card-carrying Low Brow, I can say I read some of my husband’s The Economist with its ASIA section only occasionally, and even then I notice mainly the stuff the editors allow through, namely the singular they and sentence fragments. I’m currently gearing up for a campaign to fight fragment shaming. Because a fragment can serve as an effective emphasis.

Peter – I absolutely loved this trick, this numbersome feat. Bravo.

Lewis

I thought it was a very clever theme, thinking of three well-known uses of 212, so different from each other -- a birthday, an area code, and a temperature. It certainly doesn't follow a standard theme type. I also like the consistency in that the opening of each theme answer is possessive. Cluing ANI as a bird, by the way, last happened in the NYT in 2011.

If you read through Peter's saga of how the puzzle got to this final point in XwordInfo, you will see how much work went into making this puzzle -- many iterations; a complete transformation of the original idea in which no numerals were used. Which goes to show not only the constructor's dedication, but the desire of the editors to not immediately take a puzzle with a theme they like, but work it to its best version. I can tell you that they are ardent about removing junk and adding interest to puzzles, and take pride in their honing. It's easy to criticize the editors when they let something slip, and a lot of that goes on here. Fine, but they deserve praise as well for the good work they do.

Joe R.

While New York does have several area codes now, 212 was the original, and it’s still the iconic one. History tidbit - the original rules for area codes were that states that only had one area code got area codes with 0 in the middle, and states that needed more than one got area codes with 1 in the middle. They could not start with 0 or 1, could not end with a 0, and while the x0x ones could end with a 1, the x1x ones could not. New York was given 212 because it was the lowest number it could receive under these rules; back in the day of rotary phones, it was faster to dial low numbers, and it was assumed that New York’s area code would be the most frequently dialed one in the country.

I enjoyed this puzzle, but it was definitely easy. I figured out the AREACODE part of 18A, and had the leading N, and immediately Sussex out what that number was going to be. The other long clues fell pretty quickly, and the fill was fun. I didn’t set a PR, but I wasn’t off by much. I might’ve done so if I hadn’t had Steve Harvey instead of HOWIE MANDEL at first.

Oh, and I know ALLAN Sherman from Dr. Demento, whose 20th anniversary song collection has brought me much joy since my youth. Lots of good songs on there. (Along with a couple of duds, to be honest.)

smalltowndoc

I thought the theme was very clever and the answers legitimate and spot-on. How one can come up with three phrases of equal length that can all be clued as “212” is mind-boggling to me.

And I like mixing letters and numerals in a crossword puzzle. @merican in Paris: would you call that a crossword/crossnumber puzzle?

The theme really helped me with the solve. I halved (halved!) my average Thursday time!

Very enjoyable puzzle.

nevercared

Did a quick dig and apparently New York County (Aka-Manhattan) lines were all 212 numbers up until sometime in 1992 when the 917 area code was introduced citywide. Then it was further diluted with the proliferation of cell phones and additional area codes. They should clue it past tense.

btgrover

Liked it. Clever theme, but also easy to tease out, and once in hand a huge help for the rest of the solve.

John H

Easy. Loved it. But if Rex had not gone the "old school" way, on paper, with a clipboard, he would have complained that the key answer at 68 down is not recognized by Across Lite. Very annoying. I requested the reveal of incorrect letters three times, and there they were, 2, 1, and 2. Irksome end to an otherwise enjoyable solve.

Jofried

I loved this puzzle! I didn’t get the theme until I got down to the bottom and then 212 and H2O’s boiling point clicked and I literally laughed out loud. What fun! Yes, it would have been fun to run it on 2/12, but I’m with @Loren Muse Smith...I wouldn’t have wanted to wait until 2026 either!

JOHN X

This was a pretty good puzzle. I had to figure out the theme along the way, and I like that.

Plus, this puzzle had numbers. Dig that.

A guy in nampa

Very easy.
Pleasant enough.
I enjoyed it.

Dave

I used to listen to Allan Sherman as a kid. Recently found out what a sad end he had.

Jamie C

212 was also my batting average in little league! My career lasted one season...

QuasiMojo

I’ve always liked this guy’s puzzles. I have come to expect quality and he always delivers. Today was no exception. Yes this was fairly easy but it was intriguing. And well-executed. I decided early on not to look at 68 Down which proved a mistake as I later put in AW as the sauce and that cost me some time.

Rex, you may be thinking of the Ken Burns documentary of the National Parks, which included a segment on the plume-plundered Everglades.

In my family, growing up, we always had our leaves (salad) after the main course, but still during dinner. Tea was served at 4pm, if we didn’t reach for the cocktails early.

The slash certainly was used prior to 1996 in reference to different talents. Actor/singer/dancer was a common descriptive when I was in college in the 70s. As was, alas, Actor/waiter. In fact sometimes just saying “I’m one of those slashes” was enough to garner a chummy TEHEE.

kitshef

Second really cool theme in a row. Only nit is that it should say "ºF", rather than just "º".

Good to know there's another ALLAN besides Edgar Poe.

FLIT is a good word.

zevonfan

QUESTION:

Could anyone else not get the Happy Pencil to show up? I solve the daily .puz file on a MacBook Pro. I finally just clicked Reveal All when I knew it was correct - and it replaced my 2 1 2 with the same 2 1 2 , and then the happy pencil showed up???

Enjoyed the puzzle.

KRMunson

Hands up for Steve Harvey before Howie Mandel. Other than that, quick and easy puzzle.

Anonymous

Here is a snippet of Seinfeld Episode
Elain's 646

amyyanni

Quick and smooth solve. Admission: even though I live in Florida, I have a 617 area code. (Note my cowardice in not admitting that to Claire. Why do Yankees fans enjoy hating on the Patriots (who were awful when I started following them)?

Anonymous

Since area codes started in the day of rotary dial phones, the most populated cities had small numbers......

Marv Wonderful

@ Joe R. 6:35 AM

I live in the glamorous "310" section of West Los Angeles, so I'm not sure your explanation is completely correct.

SouthsideJohnny

Help, how is LUCAS a commercial? I know that Lucasfilm is a production company, but don’t see the connection. Is there a play on words that I’m missing - I doubt it, as there is no “?” In the clue. Most all films are commercial, are they not ? Seems pretty weak.

Crimson Devil

Re Tribute to 212
Sure enjoyed this. Quite a construction feat.

mmorgan

Well. This was a good challenging puzzle with lots of gentle misdirections along the way (at one point I thought it might be a rebus). For whatever reason, I ended up solving it from the bottom up — the bottom was easiest for me, the middle took more time, and the top was the toughest, or at least the slowest. I got the 2-1-2 conceit early on, but I never figured out how to enter that in Across Lite on my iPad. (Not that that matters.) Happy Birthday Abe, a few weeks early, but an enjoyable solve — the kind where I find myself filling in things I have no idea how I know, and occasionally stopping to ask, “How on earth do I know that?”

I’ve only seen 2 or 3 episodes of The Simpsons, so it’s cool to learn that they featured Allan Sherman! I played those original records 1000 or more times when they came out.

Overall I enjoyed this a lot and now I look forward to reading about how terrible it is.

Joaquin

Rex (and apparently others) know Allan Sherman from "The Simpsons". YIKES! I must be getting old. I know Allan Sherman from, well ... Allan Sherman. My favorite is "Harvey and Sheila" - give a listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUKn_Ar96PE

Joe Welling

Bob Mills

Very clever puzzle, and fair. Well done, Mr. Collins.

OffTheGrid

I think 212 is still a New York area code. The clue is valid as is.

Unknown

Easier than Monday and Tuesday. What is wrong with these people? Did they really think putting a few numbers in some squares would make this Thursday-level difficulty? Ridiculous.

Anonymous

Michiganman

I would not want to see numerals in a puzzle regularly but this was well done and fun. I love numbers and palindromes so this was great. It even had a Thursday REBUS.

Hungry Mother

DNF on NIKITA. Also, I think it’s illegal, immoral, and non-pc to have non-alphabetics in a puzzle.

mmorgan

@Joe R -- thanks for the cool area code trivia! Good to know! (I'm sure I'm not the only one who remembers when phone numbers began with words for the first two digits -- as in the iconic Pennsylvania 6-5000. I miss those days.)

@Joaquin -- good one! And who could ever forget "My Zelda"...?

Suzie Q

This was some good fun. I loved being fooled until I got to the SW corner and it all came together. Great job from a real pro.
My experience would have been different if I could have read the clue for 67A. That is a vital clue but on the copy I printed from my computer I could not read those teeny tiny symbols/letters.
Pretty easy but forgivable because of its uniqueness.

mkeit

The printed clue for 57-D is graphic- "dog +A + (unreadable) for catalogs, e.g." A little different from the on-line version.

Alexander

212 is definitely still NY, NY’s area code, among others, and actually pretty soughtafter because it conveys a sense of authenticity

jberg

Apparently the clue for 57D was different in the online version. In the printed paper, it was "[picture of a cat] +mAm+ [picture of a pile of logs] for catalogs, e.g." Having the images in the clues sort of mirrored having numerals in the grid.

I solved in kind of a hurry, so failed to notice that it was the same palindromic number every time. Now I really like it.

@Loren, nice rebus! Oops -- sentence fragment. Nice emphasis. Overuse bad.

That's all for now, got an early appointment.

Nancy

And to think -- I almost threw this brilliantly themed puzzle across the room when faced with all the pop culture of the bald-headed guy, the Elton John song, the novelty singer, the soccer star, and the restaurant. But I gritted my teeth, hung on, and didn't PANIC. Remaining more or less COHERENT, I was rewarded with a really clever and novel puzzle that stretched me to the limit.

The revealer was well protected from discovery since a palindromic number can be...anything. But I would have gotten A1 SAUCE a lot faster if I hadn't carelessly dashed off OaS instead of OSS (69D) for the CIA predecessor. I also wasn't helped by having TIa instead of TIO at 12D -- keeping me from quickly seeing the AREA CODE.

Was Elton John singing a love song to Khrushchev (7D)? If you'd clued NIKITA with a cleverly vague reference to the Soviet leader instead of some ephemeral, unimportant pop song, I'd be even more enthusiastic about the puzzle, Peter. But still, it really is quite a FEAT -- which is what I had (instead of DEED) at 23A for much too long. Great job.

Anonymous

I am curious about Rex's comment on 57D. He says the clue is "Teaser that may include pluses and minuses," but that is NOT the clue in the version I solved today. The clue is [picture of a cat] + A + [picture of logs], for catalogs, e.g." I solved by printing out the on-line version of the puzzle. Is it possible that two different versions were used? Maybe one of the programs can't handle pictures in the clues?

Sir Hillary

Really enjoyed this one. Lots of nice long answers, and Thursday-fun without being overly gimmicky.

Would have been cool to see HOOPSZONEDEFENSE -- 16-letter grid-spanner, although inconsistent with the possessives in the other three.

I loved seeing REBUS on a Thursday, but the 57D clue in my newspaper is completely different than what @Rex showed. It's [picture of a cat] + A + [picture of a pile of logs] for catalogs, e.g. I assume others had this as well? (Edit: I just noticed others have mentioned this.

Howie Mandel was a good stand-up comedian back in the day. A bit one-note (manic idiocy) but always made me laugh.

As a young reader of the daily comics, I loved "The Wizard of Id". Johnny Hart, a co-writer of the strip, also wrote "B.C.", another of my old favorites.

Best 1986 Elton John release was his live concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

@Joe R. -- Nice summation of the OLDSCHOOL AREACODE rules, which of course have since been loosened out of necessity. The original rationale for New York getting 212 was obviously applied to other major population centers like Los Angeles (213), Chicago (312) and Detroit (313).

EBW

@Mericans - You're actually wrong, beyond being just another old man shouting "get off my grass you damned kids", about singer-songwriter. Singer-songwriter is becomes a "thing" by the use of the hyphen, singer/songwriter is not a "thing". A singer-songwriter is a specific genre. Carol King was a singer-songwriter. Paul McCartney is a singer/songwriter, not a singer-songwriter. Cat Stevens is a singer-songwriter, Madonna is not.

Wm. C.

@Amy7:49 --

I too live (half-time) in FL, and up north I used to have a 617 Area Code, before others were added. By coincidence, I just opened an e-mail invitation from a Cambridge Faculty Club to have Valentine's Day dinner there.

As to the Patriots, virtually all my friends here in FL hate them. Partly because many of them are from Indy (Colts, who play in LUCAS-Oil Stadium), for whom the Patriots are a nemesis, and partly because of some past Patriot misbehavior. When the Patriots play Jacksonville, they call it the Cat-Game: Bengals-vs-Cheetahs. ;-)

Nancy

@Teedmn -- Are you OK, I hope? Last heard from, you were in a tiny cabin in the middle of some remote rural area in, I presume, MN. And THIS is what greeted me on the Front Page of the NYT this morning! A wind chill of 53 below zero in Minneapolis -- and it's probably even colder in the ski area where you are/were. I hope it's "were" and that got safely back home well ahead of the Big Freeze. Haven't seen you on the blog yet. Please check in if you're able to and let us know you're OK.

GILL I.

212...Forever in my heart. My very first area code in the USofA...98th and Broadway.
Put me in the enjoyable camp. I wouldn't have it any other way. Yes, Peter is a pro and I love that I glom onto his way of thinking. There is always going to be a math and a religious reference, yes SIREe.
My only do-over was the correct ELY for 4D. I had EMS for a ridiculous reason. Aha...it's NEW YORK'S AREA CODE. Fun.
Let's talk about TEA after dinner. I said to myself that I don't think I've EVER had that after dinner. I'm in the BRANDy or maybe a skosh of Talisker crowd (are you out there?). My husband and I have TEA everyday at 4 (Hi @Quasi) with something sweet to nibble on. Dinner at 7 and no A1 SAUCE in sight. Steak rare (Hi @Loren). APPLEBEES has good ribs if you're into that sort of thing. HOWIE MANDEL won't shake your hand because he has a phobia about germs. He even dedicated a whole hour on Dr. Phil's show to tell everyone. I'm an Elton John fan but when I see his name I only think of Candle in the Wind.
APOLOGIA is such a pretty exotic word - too bad it's associated with vindication.
Let's see...what else did I like? EVERYTHING.....! Thanks for the fun, Peter.

Clueless

Re: Area Codes in New York & Westside of Los Angeles county

I have had both. And still have one of them.

I've lived in NYC long enough to have 212 for my land line. I later added 646, which I believe was the first overlay area code for Manhattan. At this point in time I've lost track of all the additional numbers.

Growing up in Santa Monica my area code was 213. With family there I still have to pause to use 310.

As I recall, the reason for 212 & 213 originally was to dial quickly.

Z

I have different tastes in cold war love songs.

Wm. C.

Oops, with regard to the Faculty Club mention, I meant to include that it had a 617 area code in the e-mail..

ghthree

The answer is 212. What's the question? Three answers: a date, an area code, and a temperature. Beautiful.

Brings back two memories:
Memory #1: Answer is 42. Question? An entire book.(Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy)
Memory #2: Answer is 9W. Question? "Do you spell your name with a V, Herr Wagner?

42 was my lucky number since grade school. I have no idea why.
But Douglas Adams' book resonated with me for that reason.

My wife and I lived in New Jersey for 44 years,and have driven route 9W many times.

Ah, memories!

Clueless

@Sir H (9:20)

Thanks for adding Chicago & Detroit …… wouldn't have thought Detroit was large enough in population. Wonder if decision had more to do with commerce & industry, when secretaries were doing the dialing.

I'm slow at 1 finger keyboarding on a screen. Sorry about delay & missing answer to my query.

pabloinnh

Area codes? Rotary phones? When I was a kid the operator said "Number please." Ours was 23W. This may help to explain why Allan Sherman was a gimme, as he was hot stuff when I was a teenager listening to his songs on the radio, which I found hilarious. I blame this on being a teenager.

Hand up for the easy-for-a-Thursday. The numbers were a nice touch, and the theme was really well executed. Muchas gracias to Sr. Collins.

CT2Napa

I entered 68D as a rebus - "two" "one" "two" in the NYT app because I wasn't sure it would accept numbers. And I got the congratulations at the finish.

Sir Hillary

@Clueless -- I haven't looked it up, but I imagine that when area codes were first assigned, Detroit was indeed a huge population center, perhaps even the fourth-largest in the country. Pittsburgh was assigned 412, another indicator of how populated the Rust Belt was back then.

@merican in Paris

Wow, first time as first poster.

@LMS -- I agree with the potential value of sentence fragments used judiciously (and in informal speech). And I once got into an argument with my son's English teacher, who had told her students never to start a sentence with "And" or "But". "But just look at the many instances of that in the King James' Bible!", I said.

@QuasiMojo -- I'm planning eventually to write a book (or an extended article) on the slash, and am trying to collect incidences of its early use. So I would be very interested if you can point me to some published source from that era. Heretofore, the first incidence I have among my own library is one example in James A. Michener's 1989 novel, Caribbean. But its appearance in books in non-traditional uses for many years after that was rare. In 2005, Charle C. Mann managed to write his massive history of the Americas just before the arrival of Europeans, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus without a single slash; his 2011 sequel, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, was replete with them -- about one a page. Same thing for Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997) and Collapse (2005).

@EBW 9:24 AM -- I'm sorry you feel that way. But you jump to an unjustified conclusion about my attitude towards language and punctuation. My bugbear is ambiguity. I would appreciate if you can explain the distinction you assert between "a thing" and "not a thing". That is a new one for me.

CT2Napa

I left 716 to go to college in 617

Airymom

I grew up in Queens, and for the first 29 years of my life our area code was 212, until January 1, 1985 when it switched to 718. I was already living in Maryland, so the change didn't affect me profoundly, except when I called my parents. It was bizarre to dial 718.

212 is New York's area code. 718 is a pretend area code. The same way a slice of pizza outside of NYC is pretend pizza. Nothing makes a New Yorker laugh more than being in another city and having someone claim, "this is just like NYC pizza."

Thank you @Joe R.--6:35 AM for your explanation of area codes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. I thought it was creative and was impressed by the three themes Peter found for 212.

Nancy

@Quasi (7:24) -- Re your actor/ waiter observation:

A woman waits outside the Stage Door of a theater in which one of her favorite actors is starring. When he finally emerges, she gushes: "What a performance! It was such a privilege to see it! You are such a brilliant actor!"

"Thanks," he says, "but I'm actually a waiter. It's just really, really hard to get work these days."

########################################

@Joe R (6:55) -- I've lived in NYC my whole life, still possess the highly desirable and now-impossible-to-get 212 AREA CODE, and was completely unaware of the faster-to-dial-in-the-days-of-the-rotary-phone explanation of how and why NYC was assigned it. How interesting! Thanks for a fascinating bit of city lore. I wonder how many people know that?

Carola

I spent some time pondering the REBUS entry, wondering if it should be interpreted as 1) "I know you expected a REBUS puzzle today, but you'll just have to make do with the word itself" or 2) "This is a REBUS puzzle: numbers entered instead of letters count as rebuses." I like the joke of 1) better.

Medium here, although I got the theme fairly early. In the NW, ELY, ROOS, and TAS combined with an easy fill-in of AREA CODE in the NE got me NEW YORKS and 212. Had to work for the wonderful APOLOGIA and the unknown-to-me HOWIE MANDEL and NIKITA.

Escalator

I am waiting/dreading the day that real numbers i.e. 0-9 will be used in xword puzzles.

Anonymous

Airymom,

What's ( or what was ) your favorite? I finally got to New Park Pizza ( Howard's Beach) and it was pretty damn good. Maybe not quite the original Grimaldi's or Totonno's (haven't been since the fire)

Teedmn,
I'll echo Nancy's good wishes.

Anon 7:44
Thanks! That was the first thing I though of too.

Anonymous

Very clever and tricky. Thanks very much Mr. Collins for that little Thursday morning sleight-of-hand.

TJS

The only time someone from Chicago would say "This is just like New York pizza" is when they're throwing it in the garbage.

RooMonster

Hey All !
Not the first time there's been numbers in a puz, so it didn't bother me. Added to the fun. Wrote in the actual numbers on the NYT app, and it accepted them when puz was completed.
Also had the bizarre 57D clue, Teaser that may include pluses and minuses.Huh? Teaser? Weird.

Did notice the 16 wide grid today. Also noticed the low block count for an oversized puz. Only 34.

Almost PANICed in the EKG area of puz. Kept thinking ticker in the clue meant a ticker tape type thing. Did want KEEN, but was hesitant to write it in. Finally saw the surprisingly hidden to me GRAIL, then EZRA and everything fell into place. ZEROING went through nearING and closING.

SEMINUDE. Inner 13 year old let out a TEHEE. And, CONDOM(minimum) crossing SEMINUDE. Har.
Had OtIc for OSIS a bit, messing up my APPLEBEES. I was like somethingBEET?
OSIS on top of SIS. ODD.

One F. But ROOS, we'll call that multiple ones!

FLIT NIX
RooMonster
DarrinV

TomAz

I loved this puzzle. I also found it extraordinarily easy. Those two statement are not correlated in the least, nuh uh, I deny everything.

Everybody else has said everything interesting about the puzzle. So instead I will quibble with one of the clues in the mini. 7A WISE is clued as "All-knowing." No. One of the attributes of wisdom is knowing that you don't know everything. So not only is this clue technically incorrect, the way in which it is incorrect is ironic and rich.

David

When I was a kid it was "Murray Hill 7-7500" drilled into our heads by the TV ads for Macy's. Then all of NYC was 212 until 1985, when 718 made its debut in the "outer" boroughs. In 1992 718 encroached into Manhattan. These changes came with great trepidation and gnashing of teeth; businesses claimed they'd lose customers in the first changes, some Manhattanites, snobby as ever, went so far as to pay extra to keep their 212 area codes until all the numbers were gone and 646 came in. So yeah, 212 works for NYC.

This was the second Thursday in a row which felt like a Tuesday to me. I had been thinking 68D would be 101, which is close enough to be WCBS FM and I had "NewYorks" already, but nothing radio related would fit in and then I dropped in 17D and it clicked, numbers, not letters. That made the other two theme answers simple to get off a few letters. And I eat my steak rare with no sauce unless I feel like going old school and making Steak au Poivre, but I've eaten in enough diners to know the name of that sauce.

For me the only hiccup was before I dropped in 17D I had 12D as the Spanish Aunt who seemingly shows up in the NYT puzzle every other day. Wow! What a twist! Today it was the Uncle who came to the party! Wonder if he drove a Ttop?

Preferred Customer

@Joe R thanks forfor the area code info. I had too many incorrect downs to get that one quickly. Boiling pointpoint was my revealer. PC

Mary McCarty

My Times app didn’t accept 212, but required TWO-ONE-TWO, even though there’s a # spot on the keyboard. Why have it if you can’t use it?
And it seems that with all the hubbub about area codes, no one noticed today’s palindromic date.

Paul Rippey

@merican in Paris : I have two issues with the proliferation of “/“s. One is, they have no consistent meaning, swinging between “and”, “or”, and “some relationship that I’m uncertain about or too lazy to think about”. Two is, no one knows how to read the slash orally. Saying “slash” is always awkward I think and sometimes very awkward, as in “I want to kiss Dad/Mom”.

jb129

Fun puzzle. A1 Sauce was great!

@merican in Paris

@Paul Rippey 12:17 -- I'm 100% in agreement with you.

puzzlehoarder

This puzzle, while very clever, does not belong on a Thursday. In his xwordinfo comments the constructor even said he thought it would be published next year on 2/12 which would be a Wednesday. That would have been more appropriate as this came in between a Tuesday and a Wednesday time.

Until I filled in 68D, the theme and it's clues were meaningless. This made little difference as most of the fill flew in. I always solve on paper so I just wrote the words TWO/ONE/TWO in small letters. I don't like having actual numbers in my grid.

Anonymous

@TJS, I literally guffawed at your comment about the pizza! When I saw the airymom comment I thought, hmmm, snobby comment but also thought...I think of NYC pizza as thin crusted and supremely greasy. Much prefer Chicago style!

Unknown

I enjoy tea (herbal) after dinner.

jae

Easy-medium. Clever, fun, liked it.

DrBB

Me too re Across Lite. I had 2 1 2 in 68D, and for some reason it didn't work, so I said all right reveal the dratted answer, and it was... 2 1 2. Weird thing is that it accepted my first "2" but not the others. Other than that annoyance, yeah, pretty easy.

Slightly easy-ish number for a ThursPuz. Aside from a brief ANI+SEI PANIC. But a 16x15 grid, so more for yer 21.2 cents.

Is 212 maybe the area code of Howie Mandel's condominium? Or of his old school? There could be more themer material here than immediately splatzes into one's eyes.

staff weeject pick: 212. Weeject as center of the puztheme universe … Like. Kinda cool 57-D teaser, also.
Always luvly lil weeject stacks in the NE & SW, btw. With a bonus crossin weeject thru each stack; sweet.
Also liked SIS, which is sorta a 212 mirror-image.

I hope everybody got to at least see the print puzversion of the REBUS clue. Reminds m&e of @muse's primo avatar today. Did U do that avatar artwork yerself, kiddo?

Si, see ex-eye I thanx, Mr. Collins. Is this also the date that the Trump-shutdown starts over again?

extra runtz, on behalf of the -21.2 below weather shut-ins:
**gruntz**

**gruntz**

If you lived in New York as a young single in the late eighties or early nineties you know that having a 718 area code was social suicide back then.

Chip Hilton

Easy, but a brilliant construction. Thanks, Mr. Collins.

I, too, wondered about Rex’s comment on 57-down. I loved having REBUS in a non-rebus Thursday puzzle. Perhaps that’s why it’s chosen today rather than Abe’s Birthday.

@Nancy - I loved your waiter/actor joke.

Teedmn

@Nancy, thanks for the concern. I made it back home Tuesday before the temperature really dropped. Then I was happily surprised when my husband came home and told me our boss had closed the office for Wednesday (even the mail wasn't delivered on Wednesday) so I had a bonus vacation day. I woke up Wed. morning and the temp was everything the weathermen had promised - 33 below zero F at our house (we're far enough out of the city that our temps are always a few degrees lower). This morning it was 31 below and my car brakes were acting up, but it will get up to 3 below today for a high so the Heat Wave is on, woohoo. By Sunday, it is forecast to be 46 degrees above zero - what a turn-around!

Back in the 1980s, I worked as a Purchasing Agent for a small manufacturer and called vendors around the country. I had a ton of area codes memorized. Soon after I moved into accounting, the number of codes proliferated to the point where I can no longer predict what part of the country they represent. The Twin Cities alone went from one to four codes. So I get where Rex is coming from on 212, but I think of 212 as the NYC "classic" code.

I had a few writeovers; in the NE, I went with the popular TIa, and I was ZoomING in on 16A. I was trying to think of a five letter volcano for 6D, and then went on to an A-tesT plume before the poor, once-endangered EGRET showed its feathers; that was my favorite clue for today. I love seeing the numerous large white birds standing in every pond and ditch in the warmer seasons.

While I did think to myself, "Couldn't they wait until February to run this puzzle?" when filling in 42A, I certainly don't think there is anything inHERENTly wrong with having it run today. I like this theme, so thanks, PAC.

Banana Diaquiri

if it weren't for all those damn kids and drug dealers with a dozen cell phones, there'd never been a need to create yet more area codes. and get off my lawn.

LorrieJJ

When you ask who has tea after dinner, you just have to look North. In Canada, it is very common. My family always sits around the dinner table after eating, and has a cup of tea to settle the meal.

Anonymoose

These "/" and area code discussions are putting me into NAP mode if not a coma.

Cassieopia

Loved it. One of those satisfying solves where the puzzle stumps me, I put it down for a while, then pick it up hours later to find the answers flying in. Rinse/repeat 2x and got the happy music with no Google. Today is a good day. Thank you Mr Collins for an excellent puzzle!

Odd Sock

212 is better than the Roman numerals we get all the time.

heather

I enjoyed the cleverness of this puzzle, with 212 used in three different ways, but I didn't find it easy. RECTO, REBUS, COCA, TIED nearly did me in.

Also, how old do you have to be to know Wizard of Id?? I gave my 24 year old daughter the NYT crossword app for Christmas, so I notice when there are clues that she has no chance of getting. It was bothering me at first, but now I'm thinking - well, here's one place where age has privileges. I loved Wizard of Id as a kid.

Ando

Did it bug anyone else that the theme answers were all written as possessives? I guess it's good that they were consistent but this is unusual for this puzzle. I left NEW YORK'S out of the AREA CODE for a while (not having the number yet) because I figured it had to be NEW YORK.

EBW

@Mericans - The combination of singer + songwriter constitutes a compound noun, forming another noun. There are several ways of forming the compound noun, smushing them together is one, hyphenating them is another. In either case, the result is a word with a specific meaning which differs from A+B Toothpaste doesn't mean tooth + paste, though tooth and paste are required elements in understanding toothpaste. Saying someone is a singer-songwriter doesn't mean merely that that person writes and sings songs, it's something both more specific and expansive than that. Singing and songwriting is necessary in being a singer-songwriter but the pair is not sufficient. As I said, Paul McCartney writes and sings songs, but he's not a singer-songwriter.

Allan Sherman is singer/songwriter. He sings. He write songs. He's not a singer-songwriter.

Canon chasuble

57 d in the times print version is what a traditional (i.e. REAL) rebus is.

Anonymous

Wizard of Id began in 1964 and is still running. You're welcome.

Nancy

@Teedmn -- So glad you're OK! I also sent you an email, but you needn't bother to answer it.

albatross shell

Fun and humorous. Wah wah too easy, I do not understand. So a Thursday was too easy. My day is ruined. Talk about being in a rut. It was a great minimal use of a rebus. The SW corner made me laugh. Plus the rector-versa-cross. Seems to me there were years that 2 out of five puzzles had ANI in them. Isn't ANI basic CW literacy?

QuasiMojo

What a collection of comments, memories and opinions today! @Nancy, your actor waiter joke made my day. As for pizza, I’m still a New Haven pizza guy. There’s no comparison. Not even John’s Pizza in the Village is as good. Never liked Chicago style. Too doughy. And these so-called Artisan Pizzas at various hipster chain restaurants are like eating an artist’s well-used palette.

@american in Paris, I’m always wary of commenting about something you say because you really are WISE without being a know-it-all. I bow to your extensive research. But I did find a citation by using Google Books just now from a journal called Dramatics, Vol 61, published in 1989, with two uses of “actor/waiter” listed. Prior to that the hyphen seems most prevalent as you state. Perhaps the slash that we were using back in the late 70s or so I recall, was more a casual conversational shorthand, sort of like making quotation marks with your fingers, before it entered into print. If I see other examples, perhaps in a play or poem, I will let you know. The play Jeffrey by Paul Rudnick from 1994 might have it but I don’t have a copy to check. The current blurb uses it.

Joe Dipinto

212 was the original area code for all five NYC boroughs (I grew up in Queens with a 212 #). In the early 1980s the 718 code replaced 212 in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, while Manhattan and the Bronx kept 212. Now there are more codes than you can shake a stick at. It's still possible to buy a 212 #, for those desperate to pretend they've lived in Manhattan for years.

To 36a I must channel Madeline Kahn:

"One wed wose. How womantic."

Tita

Haven't finished the puzzle, but had to stop in to say that I am currently in 1D... Ottawa, to be precise, where they will be curling on the canal this weekend. It's brutally cold here too, but they simply call it "the weather".

Anoa Bob

@Ando 2:15, I noticed the somewhat awkward sounding to my ear 18A NEW YORKS AREA CODE. It seems to imply that NY, the entire state, has but a single AREA CODE, right? So why not the more accurate possessiveless NEW YORK AREA CODE to say that the answer at 68D will be one of many possible codes?

I think it comes down to 42A, LINCOLNS BIRTHDAY, needing that possessive S to sound right. And it is 16 letters long (hence the wider-than-normal gird size), whereas NEW YORK AREA CODE is only 15 letters long, so something has to happen to fix the imbalance. Once again, the letter S comes to the rescue.

So I think the answer is the NEW YORKS AREA CODE possessive version was born of necessity, a tribute that had to be paid to the unforgiving letter-counts-must-be-symmetrical commandment handed down to our ancient xword ancestors by the supreme authorities on high in Cruciverbaldom.

That said, if you must lean on the super useful S to get it done, coming out of the gate with word nerd jewels like COHERENT and APOLOGIA(!) will win me over every time!

One of the benefits of living in TexMex Land along the Gulf Coast is that I can see Snowy EGRETs (and lots of other inland, shore and marine birds) on a daily basis.

Paul Harrington

I guess my chair wasn't comfy enough

@merican in Paris

@EBW 2:20 PM -- I'm still missing the criterion, or criteria, for your distinction. For what it's worth, here's the first sentence from Wikipedia's entry on Sir James Paul McCartney: "Sir James Paul McCartney CH MBE (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer."

Anonymous

@merican in Paris/@EBW or is that @merican in Paris-@EBW

Veloso

I am usually aligned with Rex's grumpiness, but I can't be mad at this puzzle, even though it's absolutely not a Thursday.

This was a neat theme, implemented really well. A1SAUCE and W2S are what really sold the execution of this, IMO.

Joe Dipinto

Of slashes and dashes...

To me a slash implies that the person fulfills one role sometimes and another role at distinctly different times. For example, Julian Schnabel could be described as an painter/filmmaker. He engages in both those activities, but as separate, unconnected undertakings.

When people talk about singer-songwriters they mean artists who write and perform their own material exclusively, or almost exclusively. It's not a sometimes-she's-one-and-sometimes-the-other situation; her claim to fame, and her appeal, is that she does both things in tandem, each contributing equally to her artistic presentation.

So I'm with @mericans: it should be a hyphenate term.

Now as for Allan Sherman, I have a hard time seeing him as any version of the above. He was a comedian who wrote and sang (sort of) parody lyrics to existing melodies. "Novelty" describes him perfectly; the rest, not so much.

Victor

Loved the puzzle.
If you want to explore the angst new area codes can cause, a little research on overlay vs. geographic carving up will get you more information than you probably want. An overlay is a new area code on top of an existing one in the same geographic location. If done, it required a change from 7-digit dialing to 10-digit dialing. When 212 was taken away from parts of the NYC geography, it made calling Brooklyn from Manhattan a "long-distance" call. You could still call within Manhattan with only 7 numbers but needed the 1+ the area code to call other parts of NYC. Here in Rochester, NY, we shared 716 with Buffalo for a long time. When we needed more numbers there was a protracted fight over overlay vs. geographic change, and then when geographic change was chosen, a fight over who got to keep 716. We lost. We're now 585, but we're all 585, so we still dial locally with just 7 numbers. TMI?

Colette

1st time poster. Thank you Peter Collins for a truly clever and enjoyable puzzle. Loved the numbers. Being a Chicagoan originally, I knew Lincoln's birthday immediately, while hubby, a native new Yorker, who fits the New Yorker's map of the world stereotype to a T, had no idea of the date. Lincoln not being a New Yorker and all. I like fragments too, for emphasis. And both kinds of pizza, both great, just different. Loved the comment about how the poster was looking forward to seeing the puzzle torn to bits here. So wise.

Nancy

@Quasi -- So glad you liked it.

@Joe Dipinto (5:57)-- Nice slash/dash distinction, clearly explained. That's exactly how I would use them, too. Oh, and thanks for your 3:30 Madeline Kahn tribute. Madeline as Marlene Dietrich -- one of the funniest performances ever.

@Victor (6:39) -- Sadly now, even when a Manhattan 212 calls another Manhattan 212, we're still required to use 10 digits. Sigh. What a nuisance. At this stage of my life I have enough trouble remembering 7 digits. And it used to be much easier than 7 digits. From my childhood: memorable place names for the first two digits: BU-8 (Butterfield); RE-7 (Regent); LE-4 (Lehigh); MO-3 (Monument); TR-7 (Trafalgar); AT-9 (Atwater); RH-4 (Rhinelander); SA-2 (Sacramento). When I'm given, say, a 212-289- number, I translate it back to 212-AT-9- to remember it more easily. Anyone else of a certain age?

Ronghoti

212 was the original NYC area code. It only covers Manhattan today since 718 was added for the other boroughs. 917 was added for cell phones. 646 was later added as an overlay to 212.

Unknown

Numbers are not allowed!

burtonkd

@marv, his info correct - Area code 310 was created in a split from area code 213 on November 2, 1991. On January 25, 1997, area code 310 was split, creating area code 562 for the southeast portion of Los Angeles County and a small portion of Orange County.

Anonymous

I thought it was fun, original, using numbers in the grid. I don’t usually turn to you for help, but simply to see what you thought of a given puzzle. I hope you are not becoming incresinly curmudgeonly...

Burma Shave

IDID RECTO . . .

Be COHERENT when you’re SEMINUDE,
OPENED WOMBS TRANSMIT chlamydium.
It’s OLDSCHOOL but still SEXY, dude –
don’t NIX the CONDOMINIUM.

--- LUCAS EISNER

spacecraft

Well now, Something Different, and as Phil Connors says at the end (finally!) of Groundhog Day: "Different is good." I've been wondering when numbers were going to infiltrate the NYTXW page; today's the day.

The theme is COHERENT; even the "1" doesn't become "I" on the cross, although let me tell you: a good steak doesn't need any stinkin' A1SAUCE.

Hard to believe the 81-word count, with all that long stuff, but numbers don't lie. I know, it's because the diagonal of single black squares runs NW/SE instead of SW/NE.

One thing mars a very nice Thursday puzzle: did I not just scold you guys about TTOP?? IDID. AMI not getting through? Don't make me come over there.

I used to listen to ALLAN Sherman's album over and over. My favorite? "Irving. Big fat Irving. Big dum-dum Irving. The 142nd-fastest gun...in the west." See, you can't say ANY of that now; you'd be "offending" at least three groups.

OK, I'm about done trampling through the village where the drapes of Roth are stored. Take a DOD bow, SEMINUDE (not really) BRANDI Chastain! Birdie.

thefogman

APOLOGIA: I from the OLDSCHOOL and not KEEN on numbers appearing on the grid. So I went with 010 instead of 212. It's not very COHERENT but I went ZEROING because 0 is also a real letter. I must ADMIT IDID think 2 was ODD. Being from CANADA, LINCOLNSBIRTHDAY, NEWYORKSAREACODE and H20SBOILINGPOINT (in °F) are all Greek to me. I won't STEW about it. I just didn't get the MEMO about the REBUS. SAD!

Diana, LIW

Yet another bunch of good guesses - I'm on a roll.

I'll admit to checking the SW corner - numbers? really? ok if you say so - I continued on with relative Thursday ease.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, and happy to see the Synders got recognized by @Rex with the correct date!!!!

thefogman

PS - My newspaper's puzzle did not have the icons of the cat or the logs for 57D: + A + , for catalogs, e.g.

rondo

IDID have the one square write-over, changing TIa to TIO, just figured it was one of the many instances of TIa lately. The numbers were the last holes filled. Agree with @spacey re: the need for A1SAUCE; if you need it, the cut of meat must be pretty cheap. If a restaurant has A1SAUCE on the table, order the fish or go elsewhere.

As a kid I got a 45 rpm record for free inside a potato chip box – ALLAN Sherman singing Leader of the Laundromat on one side and a parody of the 12 Days of Christmas on the other. You get what you pay for.

Classic photo from 20 years ago, BRANDI Chastain practically SEMINUDE exulting in victory. Yeah baby.

I’ll ADMIT to a decent week of puzzling so far. How will it END?

leftcoastTAM

Fun Thursday, starring 212, supported by H2O, A1 SAUCE, and W2S.

Slowed down a bit by the ROSE in the DSA"s logo, crossed by the Economist's ASIA section.

WOMBs for "Development sites" made me smile.

Spoiled my own fun, though, at the NIKITA/SEI cross. Ended with SEs, and an ODD-ball NIKsTA.

(MEMO to self: brush up on French numbers and Elton John's great music.)

centralscrewtinizer

Have to laugh because I thought there were some ink splotches obscuring letters at 57A. Definitely did not see a cat or pile of logs. Didn't matter because I also did not notice REBUS as it went in on its own.
Also had 101 as the number at first and thought I was dealing with a highway, an elementary college course (until I saw 101 in a clue), and a middling fever. So much I did not know, until I did. ELY, NIKITA, ROSE, EZRA, SEI, and HOWIE MANDEL. Fun puz.