Thursday, March 14, 2019

Constructor: Will Nediger and Nancy Stark

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: BLACKHAT (66A: Western villain ... or a hint to four answers in this puzzle) — the center black square contains the word HAT, which completes the four answers that intersect with it.

Theme answers:
  • CHEW ON THAT (37A: "Here's something for you to think about, you ingrate!)
  • HATE MONGER (39A: One who spreads discord)
  • YOU DID WHAT (8D: Incredulous question)
  • HATCHET JOB (43D: Takedown piece)

Word of the Day: DESOTO (50A: Onetime division of the Chrysler Corporation)
DeSoto (sometimes De Soto) is an American automobile marque that was manufactured and marketed by the DeSoto Division of the Chrysler Corporation from 1928 to the 1961 model year. The DeSoto marque was officially dropped November 30, 1960, with over two million vehicles built since 1928. 
• • •
Happy pi day! My name is Brian Herrick, and I'm your guest blogger for the day. You may know me from my 105th place, Local Track finish at Lollapuzzoola 2018, my crossword-focused Twitter account, or from my puzzles, which are starting to pop up in publications. It's a pleasure to be Rex for a day.

This was a fun one! It's fitting that my first review is of a puzzle co-written by Will Nediger, because the first constructing resource I ever consulted was a video of a panel he did with a few other constructors at the Ann Arbor Public Library. It's not embeddedable (not a word), but you can check it out here.

Back to the puzzle!

This is exactly what I imagine when I think of a Thursday NYT puzzle. The solve is going well, something doesn't add up, then I scout the puzzle for clues as to what is amiss.

I started with the downs in the NW, and then the first theme answer made no sense. YOUDID_ is not a pattern my brain recognized. So I headed over the NE, worked my way down, and was again halted by what turned out to be a second theme answer. I stared at my LAPTOP (27A: Portable workstation), took a moment to EXHALE (16A: Advice for relaxing), and headed west, where I immediately ran into a familiar name that I 0% knew how to spell: ACHEBE (32A: Chinua who wrote "Things Fall Apart"). I've read the book, but that first name was not gonna happen. I kept solving, and once I worked my way down to the revealer, it all clicked, and I was able to finish up the rest. All in all, a typical Thursday (in a good way!)

Solid theme set here--especially HATCHET JOB and CHEW ON THAT. (I solved the puzzle! Chew on that, Shortz!) I also liked that there were no shared words in the theme set. Tip of the hat to you both.

Two minor quibbles: it is easy to get stranded in this grid. The corners are pretty segmented, and if you aren't able to JAR LOOSE (59A: Manage to detach by hitting) some answers, you're pretty stuck. The cluing was straightforward enough for me to work my way out, but your mileage may vary. I also could have done with some more western-y stuff, either in the fill or through the cluing, but that's a personal preference. More omelets, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, mesas, and cowboys, please.

Kudos on your debut, Nancy, and solid work as always, Will. Looking forward seeing more Stark bylines in the future.

  • YEW (41A: Shade provider in Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard)  — A three-letter shady tree that is not an elm. Well I never. 
  • OLD LATIN (64A: Language of the pre-Roman Empire) — 5 years of Latin and I've never heard of OLD LATIN. I can tell you a lot about Catullus poems, though. 
  • HOBO BAG (24A: Kind of purse that sags) — This is a thing I have only heard of through suggested fill while constructing, but the internet tells me it is very real. 
  • TOADY (38D: Overdo the flattery) — Hopefully not what I'm doing in my appreciation for this puzzle.
Signed, Brian Herrick, 104th Runner Up, Local Track, Lollapuzzoola 2018

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:37 AM  

Easy-medium except for the NE where I held on to laST before BEST for way too long.

ACHEBE was a WOE plus I had elm before YEW.

Fun grid with some fine theme phrases, liked it a bunch.

Congrats to our own @Nancy (and Will) on a excellent debut!

Hartley70 12:43 AM  

I have to confess that I am predisposed to like this puzzle because I’ve been awaiting it’s publication for what seems like forever. Our @Nancy did not disappoint! Please make sure to read her charming Constructor’s Note over at the NYT site “Wordplay”!
What a marvelous debut performance! I was searching for where to put the HAT rebus to make WHAT and THAT until the very end when I saw the revealer. It was a nifty surprise. The fill was far, far above average for Thursday and this made for a slower solve than usual. Burgoo was so out of left field it made me laugh. It could have been a shoe for all I knew. DESOTO may favor the oldsters but I’m just fine with that for a change. A ride in one when I’m GUSSied up would be nearly as much fun as I had with Nancy and Will tonight.
Note: I had eye surgery yesterday and solving with one eye made this extra challenging, like juggling four items with one arm tied behind my back, but so worth it.

GHarris 12:46 AM  

Is that you @ Nancy? What a wonderful debut. I’d trade a fistful of letters to the Times to be able to construct so clever and entertaining a puzzle. Congratulations. Loved solving this especially once I grokked the theme which was delightful. My only difficulty was in the NW and I required the assist of auto check to cross the finish line. Brava!

BarbieBarbie 12:56 AM  

This has to be “our” Nancy! Congratulations on a great puzzle! What a great idea- a rebus that is also not a rebus. Perfect Thursday misdirect. Here’s hoping for many more.

JOHN X 1:14 AM  

I knew something was going on with 8D and 39A (oh wait it's Thursday) and as soon as I got down to 66A it answered everything and this turned into Monday puzzle. Nicely done but not very hard at all.

I've never heard of a HOBOBAG. Hobos carry a "bindle" with all their possessions wrapped in a cloth tied to a stick carried over their shoulder. That's a real rail-riding hobo, not some poser with a $2000 Tom Ford oversized leather purse. If a hobo had a $2000 bag he would sell it and buy potted meat and booze and maybe stay in a flophouse for a spell instead of getting his head cracked in by the bulls in the freight yard. Maybe someone carrying a $2000 leather sack should call it a DOUCHEBAG.

Sorry, but codeine brings out the inner Marxist in me.

Teedmn 1:16 AM  

Our @Nancy has her debut puzzle in the NYT today - I'm so happy for her because I think it's a great puzzle that she and Will Nediger concocted between them.

The theme fell pretty quickly but the rest of the grid kept me hopping. The NE in particular held me up. I wanted chAR at 22A. And 11D helped not at all as I could think of no animals besides octopUS that ended thusly. Plus I assumed 9D would end in “bAR” and that 9D was laST. Tricky stuff.

I loved JAR LOOSE which is a NYT puzzle debut along with two of the themes, CHEW ON THAT and YOU DID WHAT (is there a SHRUG after that exclamation?)

Nice job (no HATCHETs) to the two constructors and congratulations Nancy on your debut.

Matty 1:23 AM  

Can someone illuminate the clue for BEST

Anonymous 1:30 AM  

How is BEST the worst in a competition?

Greg 1:41 AM  

Can someone please explain Worst in competition = BEST?

puzzlehoarder 2:16 AM  

@Nancy, congratulations on your debut. I now owe you a half hour of quality puzzle solving. DESOTO in a puzzle from someone who doesn't know a Sentra from a Maxima. I gotta love it as it seems like an automobile term you'd be familiar with. It's famous enough to transcend it's own category.

Typical forest for the trees approach I kept wondering where the other hats we're. That first one is of course smack in the middle but common sense isn't my strong suit. I was having too much fun with the excellent fill to care. Thanks to you and your co-constructor. I look forward to your next puzzle.

Carola 2:18 AM  

@Nancy! Wow, awesome. Super theme phrases, wonderful placement of the hidden hat, great reveal. And just hard enough - with clear early signals that something was afoot....but WHAT? For 8 Down, with only the I, I wondered if it might be a squeeze-letters-in rebus for "Are you kidding?" Didn't seem promising. Moved on to CHEW ON...maybe "it"?...maybe turning a corner? Also not promising. Only EMONGER showed me that HAT could also complete THAT and WHAT. But I still didn't know what a "takedown piece" was - something weird to do with HAT-CHEcking? HATCHET JOB was so satisfying. I agree with others that the grid layout made the puzzle more difficult, but I thought that made it more enjoyable, too. Many thanks to you and Will Neidiger for a very fun Thursday. And @Brian, thanks for the nice write-up.

Mike in Mountain View 2:20 AM  

Congratulations @Nancy, not only for this fun Thursday but for having a second puzzle accepted, too. Great work!

Clark 2:44 AM  

Great puzzle. I put in YOU DID W (and figured I'd just chill and see how this was going to go) and then CHEW ON T went in (and I thought: there seems to be a theme here).

BUT -- I dnf'd cause I got BESTed by Worst. It did not occur to me that Worst could be a verb. I didn't believe it until I consulted Uncle Google.

@Nancy: After finding out that "worst" could be a verb, I was thinking to myself "man oh man oh" what a great puzzle. I did not realize you were involved with this puzzle—cross my heart. "Man oh man oh" was going through my head to the tune of "Why oh why oh why oh" from Wonderfull Town. Then I read the comments to Rex's blog and discovered that you co-created this puzzle. Your lyrical powers reached right through the puzzle and got me singing a song I love! My [HAT] is off to you.

Loren Muse Smith 2:46 AM  

What a clever, tricky, perfect Thursday idea. So simple! One innocent little BLACK HAT right there center stage. Just this one black square causing so much trouble. I loved it!

Took me forever to figure it all out. Since I had "lip" for NIP, I focused my Rebus Detector on the string "IMGOLE" and kept sniffing around looking for some kind of hat over entries.

"guru" before LAMA
"city" before HOBO
"hole" before MOTH (bet we're legion this morning)

Early on, with that final _ _ OM, I was looking for a rebus involving "bedroom" for the king/queen place.

And who knew that TOADY could be a verb? Nice to learn that, and I'ma work it into the rotation forthwith. I can toady with the best of'em, buddy.

Nancy - I'm so jealous that you now get to drop in on coffee shops all day and watch people solve your puzzle. Oh my god - you should totally go to like 10 Starbucks today and creep on solvers. Take the subway and watch even more people. I don't know how much restraint you can show, though. I don't think I would be able to keep myself from walking around accosting solvers to see if they want me to sign their puzzle. The management would probably have to ask me to leave.

CONGRATULATIONS! Enjoy your day in the spotlight!

(PS - from yesterday - I guess what I wrote was not clear. Oops. Back in the '80s, I did get accepted to UNC, where I earned an MA in theoretical linguistics (Chomskean). But running my mouth about language with that ancient training is akin to tooling around Rexworld in a Model A. My thesis was on the "government and binding" system in Polish equative constructions, and I'm pretty sure Chomsky threw government and binding theory out the window a few years after I graduated.)

Greg 2:51 AM  

Found an answer to everyone asking about BEST (including myself) based off of Clark's answer, a rarer definition of worst:
3. (rare) To outdo or defeat, especially in battle.

chefwen 3:12 AM  

WOW, WOW, and WOW! Liked the puzzle while solving, enjoyed finding the missing HAT’s, but when I discovered Nancy Stark was our a@Nancy I decided I loved it.

Congratulations on your debut and on a Thursday, my favorite puzzle day. I am thrilled for you, enjoy your day.

JJ 4:03 AM  

Congratulations @Nancy. It was nice of you to help Will get his 27th. Great idea for a theme, and a really fun solve. It's a great day when all of NYC is talking about your grid work! Enjoy. You'll remember Pi day forever

Lewis 5:49 AM  

Well, there it is -- the complete solving experience. Figuring out the mystery of the tricky theme, then hacking a clear path through clever clever cluing. Ending with a sweat and a smile.

It's all here, encased in this 15 x 15 grid of black and white. Here is the joy of crosswords, all at once. This one gets gratefully placed in my sparsely populated Extra Special Puzzle file. Bravo you two!

'tis true 6:14 AM  

Sonnet 110
By William Shakespeare
Alas, 'tis true I have gone here and there
And made myself a motley to the view,
Gor'd mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,
Made old offences of affections new.
Most true it is that I have look'd on truth
Askance and strangely: but, by all above,
These blenches gave my heart another youth,
And worse essays prov'd thee my best of love.
Now all is done, have what shall have no end!
Mine appetite, I never more will grind
On newer proof, to try an older friend,
A god in love, to whom I am confin'd.
Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,
Even to thy pure and most most loving breast.

Compare to:

When I Was One-and-Twenty
By A. E. Housman
When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
“Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free.”
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
“The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
’Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue.”
And I am two-and-twenty,
And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true.

AdamW 6:54 AM  

I still have no idea how BEST is the right answer, and I know that BEST can be a verb. It's very rare I can't suss out a meaning after the fact, even if it trips me up during. So someone please help...

I tried tear and snag before getting MOTH. Crazy. This puzzle killed me way more than everyone else for some reason. I stared at a lot of stuff forever before finally getting it. Still no clue on BEST though.

Z 7:13 AM  

Was thinking this felt awfully themelessy for a Thursday until I got to YOU DID W/WRIT, saw CHEW ON T(HAT), and the penny dropped. A fun conceit and the fill is polished. Nicely done.

Love the worst/BEST cluing. Nothing like using opposites as synonyms. So bad.

@LMS - re: your PS. I’m reminded of an IT acronym, PICNIC. Problem In Chair, Not In Computer. What you wrote seemed perfectly clear to me.

@Greg et alii - “Worst” in this sense evokes a bad Robin Hood movie to me, the kind of thing a script writer would use to make dialogue seem old-timey. If I’ve ever heard it anywhere else I don’t remember it.

70 in Nampa 7:16 AM  

Yeah... not so much.
Easy/medium time, but not enjoyable.

Z 7:16 AM  

@AdamW - Little John got the worst of Robin Hood. Little John worsted Robin Hood. Little John got the BEST of Robin Hood. Little John BESTed Robin Hood. These are all equivalent sentences.

QuasiMojo 7:26 AM  

PHEW! First because I finished this deliciously crisp puzzle without cheating and in a pretty average time. I can pat myself on the back for not having to resort to google. Second because my fingers were shaking as I opened this blog page, fearing a WEE bit of hate-mongering from you-know-who but he deftly passed on his duties to our charming guest blogger. When I saw Nancy’s name on the puzzle next to Will’s, I was thrilled for them. They did not disappoint. Crunch for days, literate, funny (RHESUS!), clever, tricky, intriguing, challenging, enigmatic, gnarly, enlightening. I had a panic attack when at first I could barely get anything right. For the life of me I can’t spell SODUKO, but ACHEBE helped me get started as I used to have a bookstore and he was a popular writer. My mistakes: COME IN. OYEZ before Writ. Are you SAD? PUT ASIDE with PLANE for those curious cabins. HOW DID I? before grokking the missing HAT. I never use SYRUPS so I wanted STACKS. Thought the rebus might be ROOM/RUMOR since a King and a Queen often reside in a Room: and Rumor Mongers spread discord. So did ERIS but she didn’t fit. But knowing what a BLACK HAT is set me straight. My Dad loved horse operas and oaters. My only quibble was HOOD. Many if not most sweatshirts don’t have hoods. Or at least didn’t when I used to wear them. I guess since Rocky they have. I remember seeing a beautiful cashmere sweatshirt at Bergdorfs that cost as much as an Aubusson rug. Very little junk fill, if any, today. The only abbreviation I see aside from AM is AMP. No Star Wars clues, no TNG, no Hobbits and anime cels. No TOP-TEN hits from last week. Just a ton of witty literary allusions, interesting trivia (OLD LATIN? You mean Valentino?); and clever clueing a-gogo. Congrats Nancy on your debut. I didn’t SAY AH when it was done. I said WOW!!

kodak jenkins 7:32 AM  

archaic usage of "worst" aside this was a great puzzle and a great Thursday puzzle. I kept trying to figure where and what the rebuses were before happily figuring out the actual trick.

I thought it rather easy until i checked my clock and found a typical or even somewhat slow time for a Thursday.

Hey! After another PEEKIN on the puzzle I'm realizing there's no bad fill! Entirely acceptable!

Cc’d 7:53 AM  

After this gem Nancy and Will will need bigger hats!

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

Definition of worst as a verb:

1. Get the better of; defeat

Synonyms: defeat, beat, best

Hungry Mother 8:00 AM  

I spent a lot of time filling in [HAT]CHET__B. Other than that, I found it easy. Starting a new streak today after my DNF yesterday when I had to turn on the red letters.

kitshef 8:02 AM  

What really stands out today is the cluing, which sufficiently tricky that my entry was all the way down at LAPTOP. It’s as if Will S. got out of the way today and let the constructors’ personalities come through.

I am absolutely shocked that Nancy would inflict a “division of the Chrysler corporation” clue on us. What was she thinking??!

And Nancy, I know you don’t normally read Rex but a) today is a guest-blogger and b) it’s a fully merited rave.

JC66 8:03 AM  

I found this debut by our own @Nancy (in concert with Will Nediger) to be one of the best Thursday puzzles in quite a while.

Lots of crunch and a great aha moment.

Hats off to both of them.

DeeJay 8:05 AM  

A real toughie for mr. Got totally lost trying to find JARLOOSE. The O from MOTH gave me WHACKOFF, but I thought it's way too soon for that entry.

I also kept trying to fit some form of CONCIERGE at 15A.

An excellent puzzle, a classic Thursday.

mmorgan 8:13 AM  

@Nancy — wow. Fab. Thank you!!

I had so many plausible answers that just Did Not Work. So many great misdirects! I finally got the missing HAT with CHEW ON T but didn’t realize until much later that that center square held all of them. And YOU DID T (with implied question marks) seemed perfectly reasonable, at least for a while.

Does anybody know Tony Kosinec’s wonderful “48 DeSoto”?

Terrific puzzle!!

RavTom 8:16 AM  

Excellent puzzle. I’ve seen WORST used as a verb in the passive (“they were worsted in battle”), but not in the active, as here. Does anyone have an example of that?

ghthree 8:18 AM  

37 Across reminded me of Iago's complaint:
"You taught me language, and my profit ON'T
is I know how to curse."

I was baffled until I grokked the theme.

What'a amazing is that all four occurrences are in
the same square in the exact center. Brilliant!

I initially had three possibilities for 26 Down:

Once I had the theme, everything resolved itself quickly.
The Shakespearean reference was just a coincidence.
Another coincidence: I'm reading Uncle Tom's Cabin
and I've just gotten to the point where Tom is sold to Simon Legree.
Mrs. Stowe's comment on the futility of teaching slaves to read and write
is weirdly apropos today.

I never heard of HOBO BAG, ACHEBE, or BURGOO,
but guessed right from the crosses.
Congratulations to the constructors!

Suzie Q 8:21 AM  

Besides the obvious honor of having a puzzle in the NYT I think
@ Nancy deserves an award for the restraint it must have taken to not share her anticipation of this event. It must have been torture.

As for the puzzle itself I love a rebus and my Thursday rebus radar was on full alert. This did not disappoint and it seemed unusual to have the rebus square in the center.
Like @ LMS I was surprised at toady as a verb.
They made Desotos as late as 1961?

It will be interesting to hear what @ Nancy has to say when she shows up today.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

Somebody's gonna have to explicate that sonnet for me.

Stanley Hudson 8:27 AM  

Well done @Nancy (and Will N)!

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Hi Karl. Hobo is both a brand and a popular utilitarian style available from under $25 to whatever crazy rich people will pay. They are common and understated enough to go unnoticed.

Birchbark 8:42 AM  

@Nancy, YOU DID W? I like worst = BEST. The words JAR LOOSE from their moorings. It is fun when commenters here appear in constructor garb. I'm especially glad to see your steady wit rewarded today.

@tis true (6:14) -- Nice A.E. Housman/Shakespeare tag team. Further to ALAS, see also Housman's "Terence, this is Stupid Stuff":

Oh many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.

Nancy 8:52 AM  

So little sleep. Coffee or I die! Back later. But just a quick word before breakfast to say: I love you all! Every single one of you! The reaction so far has been everything I could have hoped for. And much, much more.

I was going to put this in my after-breakfast post, but @Suzie Q hit the nail on the head just now. Conceiving and cluing much of this puzzle was a snap compared to keeping the secret. Yes, Suzie Q, it was absolute torture for this extremely non-secretive person to keep her mouth shut and I deserve all the credit you bestow on me for not letting the cat out of the bag. That damn cat has been meowing and meowing and meowing, not to mention clawing and clawing and clawing since the beginning of August.

See you all again -- maybe by noon? In the meantime you can check out the Constructor Notes at Wordplay and On the latter, you get a photo, too :)

Lorelei Leeward 9:02 AM  

Congratulations Nancy! There was a diabolical red herring that kept me from finishing . You Did What, also turns a diagonal to say You Didn't UP AND DOWN. Kept looking for it, alas.

Amelia 9:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce R 9:17 AM  

@ JOHN X, I concur. There's a word for the bag that a hobo carries, and that word is bindle.

And I've never heard of Burgoo or ACHEBE.

SJ Austin 9:21 AM  

Really nice puzzle and a great write-up. Huge bonus points for including Dave and Gill.

Sir Hillary 9:27 AM  

First, congratulations to @Nancy on her debut. Great job!

Fun theme, with a nice set of theme answers. No junk in the fill, which is always a relief. It did feel like there were more multi-word phrases than usual -- not a bad thing per se. My only nit (which may apply only to me) is that the ACHEBE/HOBOBAG cross is borderline cruel.

Wow, I learned two new verbs today -- worst and TOADY. Who knew -- not me, until this morning.

But can we have a c[center square] about the clue for DEN? I don't get it at all. Someone!

Again, congrats to @Nancy -- my [center square]'s off to you!

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

Congratulations, Nancy!

My only difficulty in solving was that I wanted *Etruscan* for 64A. I've always used "early Latin" for Old Latin, though I see the latter has long been in use, though perhaps out of fashion. Glad to see here that the puzzle was constructed in the Ann Arbor Public Library. I used to go there in the 1970s when I needed a quick-check of a classical source, since they held a non-circulating copy of the Loeb texts. At the University library, all copies circulated, something I complained about constantly.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Gulliver Foyle 9:40 AM  

I ditto that "Etruscan" slowed me down more than anything else, felt pretty decent about catching the "hat trick" early on.

And one more congrats! to @Nancy for a great debut.

pabloinnh 9:49 AM  

Let me join the happy throng in congratulating our very own @Nancy for a terrific Thursday. I feel a little bit like I know someone famous, which is always fun. Brava and bravissima!

Needed the revealer to see I was looking for a BLACKHAT (tried to write in BLACKBART, duh) and the HAT unlocked everything else, and there it was, hiding in the middle all that time. Just right.

In futbol there is a term for a goal of unusual power and beauty, and that term is "golazo", the "azo" being the augmentative ending, and therefore I deem today's puzzle a "Thursdazo", and say take another bow. Wow and whew.

BobL 9:58 AM  

Now that was PHAT!

Bob Mills 10:03 AM  

Can someone explain how "BEST" can be "worst in a competition?" Thanks.

Karl Grouch 10:21 AM  


How can one be graceful and jealous at the same time?

Because that's exactly the question after today's nancypuz.

Only thing in the world that could have made this great puz worked better : black hole instead of black hat, but I fail to find any rebuses (rebi?) apart from w(hole), so discard that..

Hats off!

Music Man 10:27 AM  

Thanks... still seems like a stretch, though.

Karl Grouch 10:29 AM  

My guess is that "den" here is a conspirators' hide-out where sime malicious plotting takes place..

Whatsername 10:38 AM  

@Nancy - wow! Thanks, that was great fun. I intentionally never look to see the name of the constructor before I start because I don’t want it to influence my opinion based on past experience. Of course today it would not have mattered because it was a perfect Thursday without a single complaint. As someone else said, a rebus that wasn’t a rebus. Did I mention I loved it? Okay, bordering on TOADY now, but I must add that it’s my first time ever to have even a remotely personal relationship with the constructor. I therefore SHALL feel special all day. Thank you again. EXHALE and enjoy your very well deserved accolades.

@pabloinnh - my first instinct at 66A was also BLACKBART, the poetic old west villain. Great minds.

GILL I. 10:47 AM  

While @pablo tosses us "Thursdazo" I'm going to add my favorite "Que Chevere."
Chomping at the bit, waiting for Thursday to get here, getting nervous I won't figure out @Nancy's devious arrives, yay and quadruple yay.
This is what the doctor orders on Thursday. It has @Nancy's smarts and fun written all over it. From the GUSSY BAR CAR to the ASS MAD ACHEBE. I'm guessing Will had the Burgoo, STEW and maybe the DESOTO because we all know how @Nancy loves okra and cars! By the way, in my printed out version, Nancy's name appears in first place.
So I'm a TOADY today, but I really enjoyed this puzzle. It took me quite a while to figure out the HAT trick especially since CHET JOB wasn't doing much. I had the TWE from the WHAT THAT HATE and just stared. Oof. What goes in there? Guess what? Staring for a while does the trick! Such a loud AHA!
Yes, @Nancy, do as @Loren suggests. I bet you a BAR CAR drink that you'll find a zillion people enjoying your puzzle while riding the Lex to Bloomies...... I'm going to tell my crossword friends (who never blog) that I know today's constructor. Hah!

Not to take away one second from Nancy's day, I just want to add a little short thank you to @jberg, @Quasi, @Aketi, @chefwen and @Nancy for yesterdays (gush) artiste comments.
@chefwen: I forgot about the grass skirt but I remembered COW-A-BUNGA. When cow appears in a crossword, I'll tell everyone your very funny story.
@Nancy. So sweet, but honestly, if I had one millionth of Monet's talent, I'd be sitting right now in 12D savoring the crossword puzzle from the International Herald.......
CONGRATULATIONS, chica.....More, please.

Crimson Devil 10:54 AM  

Second stab at posting today:
Attagal Ms Nancy. Great job by one of our own, with Will N.
Re your comment @ Wordplay, I remember Peter Fleming, he and J Mac were indeed formidable and accomplished team. Actually met him once tho’ never played or even hit with him. Attended Wimbledon once, as spectator, thoroughly enjoyed.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

“There was occasionally an author who worsted me, whom I tried to read and quietly gave up after a vain struggle...” William Dean Howells

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

48A Here is something... -> CHEWONTHIS, There is something... ->CHEWONTHAT

Malsdemare 11:04 AM  

This was so much fun. Frustration everywhere as I tried to get a toehold, chipping away, getting some stuff way wrong, being blind elsewhere and then I hit the revealer and the lightbulb went on. Some really great clues and answers here: The BARCAR on the Northwestern train out of the loop so long ago, Chinua ACHEBE, RHESUS (great clue, by the way), OLDLATIN, the HOBOBAG, and of course, HATCHET JOB, and HATEMONGER. I also enjoyed seeing Anthony Perkins and his mom show up; still one of the scariest movies of all time.Good JOB, wWill and our very own @Nancy.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

Best and worst are synonyms, sorta reminds me of cleave (a very weird word).

Lurene 11:11 AM  

What @ Pabloinnh said. And so many others. Congratulations.

Banana Diaquiri 11:26 AM  

I don't care what any random cite says, TOADY is not a verb.

wrote it in anyway, since nothing else fit. still garbage.

kitshef 11:44 AM  

@Banana D - I'm not sure what you mean by a random cite, but how about the Oxford English Dictionary, Cambridge English Dictionary, and Merriam-Webster, all of which define TOADY as a verb?

Nancy 11:44 AM  

So now I'm awake enough to enjoy all your generous and improbably enthusiastic comments even more. This community is one that I am truly happy to be a part of. And today there's nothing remotely "virtual" about it. I feel surrounded by an affection that is palpable.

To @puzzlehoarder and @GILL -- It's not very likely that I clued DESOTO as a car! Feel sure I must have clued the explorer. Unfortunately I have such a fuzzy memory that I can't remember how I clued it. In any event, I imagine that one of the Wills changed it along the way. Which brings me to something I want to say:

I hope you'll give Will Nediger, who's the pro here, the credit he deserves on not only the beautiful grid, but on so many of the clues as well. He changed many of them, and what he didn't change he made terser. Terser, but without removing the playfulness or humor. I'd say he "professionalized" them. I take full responsibility, though, for "Worst in a competition". He didn't change that one and I figured it would fool y'all. And, no, I'm not sorry. Not sorry at all :)

After breakfast, I sat down with the puzzle and, ignoring the theme answers, tried to see how it felt to solve the rest of it. I hadn't looked at either the grid or the clues in almost 8 months, and I knew that, with my always-fuzzy memory, I could be counted on to have forgotten most of it. And so I had. My conclusion: The puzzle was pretty damned hard!

If I thanked all of you individually for being so extravagant in your praise, it would turn into one of those endless Oscar award-acceptance speeches that none of us can stand. But I will remember all of your individual comments for the rest of my life. Or at least I would if I had a memory like everyone else. :)

Anoa Bob 12:03 PM  

Aha! I thought so. A few weeks ago, or maybe it was a few months ago, @Nancy posted a cryptic comment on this board about hoping that the only person at the NYT who could make the critical decision would see her remarks. Something like that. I took it as a hint, and said so here, that she had submitted an xword puzzle and was waiting, waiting, waiting for an answer.

Coming from one who has experienced the soul-crushing rejection of a puzzle I had poured my heart into, let me congratulate you @Nancy on the life-affirming acceptance of your and Will's puzzle. Savor the moment. Feels nice, right?!

Now if I can just remember where I parked that dang DESOTO.

CDilly52 12:08 PM  

I wish @Rex were here today! This is The. Whole. Package! I am more than willing to give up whatever alleged weakness the “choppy” grid demonstrates for the pure perfection in theme that it provides. Despite the fact that I gave up on a rebus when You What wouldn’t work because WRIT was a gimme, and I continued to believe that “WHAT” had to play some part in that answer, I did not get the theme until after the solve was completed and I went back to figure it out. It was a Doh! And the best kind of solve. I struggled throughout trying to find more gimmes and was three times my normal Thursday but enjoyed every minute.

@Namcy, you and Will N have set the bar for the NYT, and I certainly hope that Mr. Shortz pays attention to the accolades here and elsewhere for this gem and ups his editorial game. Congratulations on a thrilling solve and a thoroughly entertaining experience. @LMS, I had every mistake you noted and plenty more!

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Great crunchy solve! My initial reaction was "Wow Nancy's going to love this one!" Our puzzle tastes seem to align 99% of the time. Imagine my surprise when I learned she was the co-constructor!

Anoa Bob 12:34 PM  

While I'm here, just in case you haven't heard, there's a pay increase for NYT puzzles. I saw the news at, where Will Shortz says, quote:

It's always a pleasure to bear good news, and here's some very good news:

Starting January 1 the New York Times will be increasing its crossword contributor rates again -- and significantly so.

For a constructor's first to tenth crosswords published in the paper, the new rates will be:
Daily -- $500 (from $300)
Sunday -- $1,500 (from $1,000)

Beginning with the constructor's 11th crossword, the new rates will be:

Daily -- $750 (from $450)
Sunday -- $2,250 (from $1,200)

As I've written before, the purpose of the two-tiered scale is to reward the most reliable contributors and to encourage them to contribute more often. It's also a recognition that, generally speaking, puzzles from regular contributors require less time and effort editorially.

The new rates for Sunday variety puzzles are as follows:
Cryptics, Puns & Anagrams, novelties -- $600
Diagramlesses -- $500

Along with Joel, Sam, and everyone on the Times' games team, I'd like to thank all the Times' crossword contributors, who have helped make our puzzles so successful.

--Will Shortz

End quote.

Aketi 12:38 PM  

@Nancy, congratulations on your magically fun HAT trick.

I got the YOU DID W hat immediately. I had a moment of doubt with the CHEW ON T hat thinking that hat could have been his. It was clear that CHE WON’T and CHE T JOB did not constitute a theme. So the hat CHET JOB made it clear that it really was a BLACK HAT in the middle and AXEd the D that I foolishly wanted before the EMON _ _ _ .

This puzzle might set a record with a very low PPP count. As near as I can tell by @Z’s description there was only ACHEBE (who I enjoy) and DE SOTO (that had to be JARred out of the deep recesses of my memory banks). And no crosswordese either. And I do confess that for a nanosecond I looked at E MONGER and suspected that E of being an abbreviation for a rather slippery three letter word that appears all too often in crosswords, but this puzzle was clean of such offenses.

Hahaha, the only thing I would have wanted to be different was for the JAR to be a JAb.

Great job. Glad I opted for puzzle solving instead of a second BJJ class this morning. It was well worth it!

Z 12:41 PM  

For those wondering, OFL complimented the fill on Twitter. He was less charmed by the theme than the rest of us. Perhaps reading more into his comment there than he intended, I think the single BLACK HAT was under appreciated, whereas I appreciated that using that single square four different ways provided sufficient theme density while allowing the fill to breathe.

JC66 12:48 PM  

@Banana D

"I don't care what any random cite says, TOADY is not a verb."

Not only, as @kitshef points out are you wrong (again), you're the only regular poster NOT to commend @Nancy on her terrific offering.

What a lack of class.

Banana Diaquiri 12:55 PM  

for those still arguing TOADY, per se, is a verb, here's the def:

verb (used with object), toad·ied, toad·y·ing.
to be the toady to.
verb (used without object), toad·ied, toad·y·ing.
to be a toady.

note that TOADY is the NOUN form, i.e. a predicate nominative.


QuasiMojo 1:11 PM  

@Nancy I forgot to mention that your Bar Car entry brought back many fun memories and a few hazy ones back when the LIRR offered tightly packed bar cars on some commuter trains. I remember being amidst a whirlwind of Dewars and Winstons. Make that twice as hazy !

Unknown 1:27 PM  

For those old enough to remember the Chrysler Corp lineup in the 50’s: Plymouth, Dodge, Desoto, Chrysler and Imperial. Just Dodge and Chrysler lines remain today.

Masked and Anonymous 1:57 PM  

LAP TOP(HAT)! This puppy has a lotta Easter Egg potential.

Cute black box theme, with a snoot-full of fun vocab, includin: SYRUPS. JARLOOSE. MAINMENU. SUDOKU. IMGONE.
ACHEBE/HOBOBAG region cost m&e a few precious NANO-time-particles, but most of the bog-downs were becuz of sneaky clues, which is the goodest way to go puzcrazy. Puz did not worst m&e, however.

Figured out the puzmcguffin, at first by lucky guess -- later verified, off the YOUDIDW(HATbox) themer. (HATbox)EMONGER was my eventual verifier. [Actually, I also went and peekin-ed at the revealer, as an intermediate verification. Can't be too careful.]

re: {Unpleasant find in a sweater} clue: M&A had about twenty alternate answers, here. Had fun just loiterin about there, thinkin up possibilities. HAND and HOOD seemed to out-worst all the others, I reckon.
Primo-feisty BARCAR clue. Nice clue of mystery (at our house), with {Burgoo, e.g.} = STEW, also.

staff weeject pick: HAT box. Honrable mention to: WEE.

Congratz, @Nancy. Do it again, soon. And thanx to both Stark & Nediger, for gangin up on us.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


RooMonster 2:04 PM  

Hey All !
Let me add my Congrats @Nancy. I have to live vicariously through those who get their puzs published. Just please don't tell me this is the one and only puz you've ever submitted. My constitution can't take that. Like @Anoa Bob, I've had my fair share of puz rejected (won't tell you how many, too depressing). Maybe my puzs just suck. :-)

Nice theme, figured out it was just the middle BLACK square that had the HAT after seeing EMONGER. Helped out the others. Liked the open corners, and the lower BLACK square count, even though that was integral to the theme. No dreck, tough to do with all that white space. So Brava to @Nancy, and Bravo to @Will, for "professionalizing" it.

NO HATe for the HAT

GILL I. 2:14 PM  

@Quasi. Be still my heart. Dewars and Winstons - my main squeeze while taking SEPTA from Philadelphia to New York City. Why in hell is drinking to excess and smoking bad for your health.....! Now I crochet.
@Banana D. Maybe you aught to take up some crocheting as well; good for the brain.

Katzzz 2:56 PM  

Worst as a verb? Who ever uses it that way? Tortured cluing.

Katzzz 3:00 PM  

Except no one would ever say “Little John worsted.....”

Newboy 4:01 PM  

Thursday is always a delight, but today’s was all tHAT & much more including the comments above.

Banana Diaquiri 4:08 PM  

my main squeeze while taking SEPTA from Philadelphia to New York City.

quite a feet, given that SEPTA barely makes it to the burbs of Cheese Steak City. I did like Bryn Mawr, though.

Joe Dipinto 4:35 PM  

Way to go, @Nancy! Great job on your debut. A very fun solve.

@BananaDiaquiri -- TOADY can be used as a verb as well as a noun . And I think you meant "random site". Autocorrect, I suppose.

Anonymous 4:54 PM  

Overall a nice puzzle but a few glitches. Worst-BEST? NO. Sudoku isn't a number game. It's a NUMERAL game but I have also seen it with letters. Any 9 symbols will work. Psycho clue doesn't work unless Norman is the alter ego of the mother's corpse.

Unknown 5:02 PM  

Loved this Thursday puzzle my favorite day for nyt puzzle. Came together at emonger the she moment. Had dislodge for jar loose at first. Good colomn!

Anonymous 5:02 PM  

Nobody ever again gets to accuse Rex of gushing over the works of his friends.

Chip Hilton 5:17 PM  

Congratulations, @Nancy on both the puzzle and your charming post. I found the puzzle to be devilishly difficult and great fun. Worst/BEST a bit of a stretch but Thursdays should do that. Lovely central meeting point for the theme entries. Bravo!

@Joe McHale - Those five lines accounted for the Chrysler five-pointed star hood ornament, I’m thinking.

jberg 5:29 PM  

We're still on vacation, and got up just in time to board a cruise across Pine Island Sound for lunch on Cabbage Key; very charming, beautiful island, nice lunch for that matter (never mind the Jimmy Buffett song), but I didn't get the paper until 3:30 -- then imagine my delight to see that is was co-constructed by our own @Nancy! I had no idea, but it fits her oft-stated preference for a tough solving struggle. I was slowed by BEaT instead of BEST, and the thought that you would get your drinks in the BAR CAR rather than going there with them -- only later did I realize that the ? meant that you were "going" (being on a moving train) and your drinks were going with you. Nice misdirection. Put aside before LAID AWAY, yOke before HOOD, accepT/treES before SEE FIT/CAFES. And for some reason, after I had YOU DID W(HAT) & CHES ON T(HAT), and knowing that there were 4 theme answers, it took forever for me to think of looking on the other side of that central black square.

I got OLD LATIN by back formation -- when you look up a word in, you often see that its origin is "New Latin," so I figured that where there's new, there must be old.

Since this is a @Nancy puzzle, I've emulated her by writing this before reading the comments. Now I'll go back and take a look. Congratulations, Nancy, and you too, Will.

Bourbon Street 5:38 PM  

Congratulations Nancy! Great puzzle. I put in YOU DID WHAT (with “WHAT” in a rebus), and ran into further trouble when I inserted CHEW ON This and put “This” in a rebus. It wasn’t until I got BLACK HAT that I figured out the theme. Fun solve and very clever.

jberg 6:00 PM  

When I saw the clue, "worst in a competition," I immediately thought BEaT; and from then on I was looking for synonyms of beat. ALAS, that kept me from noticing the beautiful cluing of one word by its apparent opposite, until I came here and read the comments. A masterful touch. Somehow that use of 'worst' seems more familiar to me -- maybe from sports-page headlines?

@Banana D, if you go back to your dictionary citing, you'll notice that the first definition reads, in its entiretly, "noun, plural toad·ies.
an obsequious flatterer; sycophant." In other words,since TOADY is the work being defined, it is not repeated in any of the definitions, which give the declension/conjugation.

Everyone complaining about the obscurity of the late Chinua ACHEBE should go read Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God, and Anthills of the Savannah right away. You won't regret it.

Now I have to go find Wordplay, which I don't commmonly read. Congrats again, Nancy and Will!

jberg 6:09 PM  

I feel I have to add that I did a search for RHESUS, but only after writing it in. I just don't know my Thracian kings the way I should.

HSCW Editor 6:33 PM  

So happy when I hit the revealer, as I'd tied myself into some minor mental knots by thinking "chew on this" and "warmonger" would somehow work if I just got the proper rebuses in place and then used only their first letters to complete the crosses (ending up temporarily in the throes of something akin to confirmation bias, or magical thinking, or, OK, to be fair, just plain stubborn denseness).

And like one other commenter, had trouble at first dislodging "dislodge". True to the clue, hitting (my head against the wall) did indeed jar something loose.

@jberg: your comment literally made me LOL :-)

TVMD 6:43 PM  

The radius does not "run along" the ARM. It is in the arm or of the arm. (and only the forearm at that)

tea73 8:14 PM  

I hope Nancy is still checking the comments since on Thursdays I don't do the puzzle until my husband gets home and we do it over dinner. Loved that Nancy got to have a rebus that was not quite a rebus going on. We had trouble catching the trick because we only remembered the phrase fearMONGER and not HATEMONGER, but all was revealed eventually.

I for one loved the BEST/Worst misdirect. English is such a weird language. I had no problem with DeSoto even though I'm a dunce with car varieties. Like someone else we wrote elm before YEW, but got that sorted out reasonably quickly.

I thought the grid was fun and the clueing pretty snappy. Congrats Nancy!

Anonymous 8:28 PM  

Sorry, Nancy—who I'm sure is a lovely person. This puzzle is rubbish. And I can't believe people don't know the meaning of BEST. Is it really that rare? You best someone. That wasn't that bad, but plenty of other things were. It's a first puzzle. OK. Maybe the next one will be better. Unless you know Greek epic and the Aeneid, Rhesus really isn't that fair. OLDLATIN for pre-Roman Empire language? Really? Not Etruscan? Or Oscan or Umbrian or Faliscan? Not Messapian? Not Greek? Not Volscian or Marsian, or Celtic, or even Illyrian? And why Empire capital E, as in founded by Augustus? There was a Roman empire before and OLDLATIN makes more sense with that. To say that Snopes investigates MYTHs is a little misleading, isn't it? I'm off to the BARCAR, where I will PEEKIN, SAYAH, put myself ONAUTO and then IMGONE.

Z 8:50 PM  

@Laurence Katz - Are you disagreeing with “x worsted y” or are you saying that Little John didn’t get the worst of Robin Hood? Because the OED cites that “x worsted y” construction in the sample sentences and the whole point is that John Little stays dry whilst Robin ends up in the stream.

@Anon4:54 - You’re one of those people who can’t get their head wrapped around the fact that tacos and hot dogs are sandwiches, aren’t you?

Aketi 9:20 PM  

@Nancy, I am still chuckling over the LAMA ASS corner. I can see it paired with CHEW ON THAT.

BarbieBarbie 9:21 PM  

@Banana, you take SEPTA into NJ to pick up NJTransit, which guzinta the City. Your feet can certainly go, as well as the rest of you.

A toady is a bully’s sidekick (meta alert!) and “to toady for someone” is to act the fawning sidekick to a bully. See “A Christmas Story.”

OISK 9:27 PM  

Irony. I had gone 5 weeks without a DNF. Longest stretch in ages. Then yesterday, I ran into a constellation called AURI_A, crossing the Star Trek acronym, "TN_." No idea. Kept trying letters; my wife who supposedly KNOWS not to say anything, says "The Next Generation." So I sort of finished.

Then today, my friend Nancy coauthors a perfectly lovely Thursday, and I DNF for real! I spelled Sudoku with 3 "u" s - a word I see every day - and had "Lip" for "edge" instead of "nip." That gave me "IMGULE" for "Ciao." That had to be wrong, but I was so sure "LIP" was right, that I couldn't fix it. Just my stubborn stupidity! Nancy 1, Oisk 0.

Congratulations Nancy! And I hope I am able to solve your next one!

albatross shell 9:33 PM  

From snopes:
Snopes › home
The definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.

Snopes I think emphasized urban legends in its early incarnation. The tradition continues.

Anonymous 9:50 PM  

Thank you for a laugh, John X!

Anonymous 10:35 PM  

Well said, meta appreciated. My first comment EVER here after lurking for a few years. Excellent work Nancy and Will. Graciousness always bests the poor ‘chetjob

Barry Frain 11:38 PM  

@Banana Daiquiri, no compliments to @Nancy? You, sir, are a cad.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

albatross shell 11:47 PM  

Bravo. The puzzle worsted me and I have nothing but compliments for it.

The NW section fell into place except EXIT before EDIT. Next the midE from SEAR to DESOTO jumped into place. Met resistance at the SE so I went to the SW. 47D:Somehow I got your idea in 3 seconds and thinking this is too brilliant to be wrong I typed in ATSEA. HA. HOOD and SYRUPS soon corrected things and got up to YEW and BLOC. Got some more. HOBOBAG unknown. ACHEBE know of the book but no name memory. Whittle down the blanks bot no jarloose, no blackhat, no barcar.

45A: looked at it with no crosses and thought a devilish choice: COUGH or SAYAH?

Many amusements and subtlties and great words HATCHETJOB DESOTO etc. The CHEW STEW meeting. Getting LAPTOP which changed my WHEW to PHEW. And the interaction between the reveal and helping to get the puzzle has a beautiful tension. Wish I had tried a little longer. Wonderful work.

David 11:25 AM  

@Nancy and Will. Meant to post yesterday. Thank you for such a lovely, clean puzzle. On top of it being that, this is the first puzzle I can remember which had a reveal which helped me with the solve. I was also looking for a rebus and couldn't make the solve except by jumping all over the place. When Blackhat fell it was as "aha" moment. I literally [in its actual sense] never get that. Thank you again.

Also, I thought your clue for Best was great and not at all archaic. But, then again, I'm old enough to have read Shakespeare and Yeats; I even knew a kid with 3 DeSotos in a garage from which he built a single chopped DeSoto hot rod.

Bob C. 5:47 PM  

I thought I was cursed
And my lips were pursed.
Who else saw at first
That your best was your WORST?

Rilesmiles 9:44 AM  

Worst clue in the puzzle!

rondo 10:42 AM  

RHESUS ACHEBE!! Not to mention the worst of the BEST. That B was the last hole correctly filled because it was laST there until I got into the BARCAR. Was looking at HO__BAG and almost filled in the se. Closest thing to a yeah baby was LACY Underalls from Caddyshack. Didn’t particularly like the solve. IMGONE.

spacecraft 11:03 AM  

The cluing was STRAIGHTFORWARD???????????? In what universe? Your clue set has GOT to be different than mine. This was as brutal as any Saturday ever was.

I damn near DNF after entering Goahead for "What are you waiting for?" Of course; didn't even consider that might be wrong. GETONIT? Who talks like that?

Troubles started right away in the NW. You LAIDAWAY a big-ticket item at the store, you 19-across! That's NOT "Kept for a rainy day." And how is a DEN a "Place where plots are hatched?" These clues...I feel the constructors were TRYING to make us fail. I actually understand BEST for worst, but it speaks to the point. Plus: people are going TO the BARCAR with their drinks?? You see what I mean?

I despaired of ever even coming close to finishing, but my blood was up. Skipped down to the SE, where I worked out BLACKHAT. Here at last was a helpful clue: the revealer! Suddenly areas that I couldn't resolve became clear, and I was actually able to finish, garnering a record triumph point total.

So, throw medium, and anything else but extremely challenging, out the window. ALAS, no DOD, but no matter. Oh, one other nit: as we know, SUDOKU is not really a numbers game but a logic exercise. You can use any set of nine different things, symbols, letters, etc. Numbers just happen to be the most convenient.

How to score this? A lot of the misdirection was starting to make me MAD, but those triumph points! Gotta be at least a birdie. No, make that at most. Whatever. IMGONE!

Burma Shave 12:00 PM  


ALAS, SEEFIT to cause mayhem,
YEW’ll have an ALTEREGO memoir
by SHOWIN’ up at NINEAM.


Aviatrix 12:27 PM  

This was published in the Edmonton Journal today, April 18th. But they printed the solution underneath it, on the same page. I just had to come somewhere where I might find someone to understand that this is wrong. It is a requirement of the genre that one has to wait until the next day, or else google-cheat and thus discover this blog.

P.S. I have been travelling for a while and thought it was Tuesday. I was thinking, "this is pretty hard for a Tuesday," until I figured it out. It got me with GURU vs LAMA, BEACH/SHORE vs SHIPS and LAST vs BEST.

centralscrewtinizer 1:03 PM  

Hah, Nancy says there are too few Thursday rebus puzzles, so she makes her own. Way to go Nancy. Great puzzles and whooped my ASS.
I had BLACKHAT early on and still could get no traction.
So I had to cheat on Nancy's first puzzle, which is rich, and I get to say I don't care, which is richer.
I am with the BLOC that loves this effort. Others are just what AGNEW said.

Diana,LIW 2:50 PM  

U C what I mean? One person's toughie is another's triumph. I - I who am a crossword toddler at best - I finished this. I, who dnf at least twice a week. I, who came in at 670somethingth at ACPT - I finished this. Correctly. Even got the *%#! rebus. Moi!!! And BLACKHAT was one of the last clues/answers I encountered/filled in.

My first go-thru I had very little (starting at the bottom with the downs, which is my wont), but when I hit the NW - I got it!!

I agree w/@Spacey that LAIDAWAY and BARCAR were amongst the poorly-clued culprits in this puzzle. Once I realize that a puzzle has poorly-clued answers, I allow my imagination to roam freely about the pastures of worddom. The leas, as it were. (meadows, doncha know)

So...Synders or Syndies? Our Canadian brother politely requests we have more respect and less aggression with the "ie" option. The Canadians have a colourful sense of humour. (Please, don't rain on his parade. ;-) )

We could be Synderellas and Synderfellas. Yeah - that's what I thought too.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting fer yer answers

5wksltr 3:22 PM  

Congratulations, Nancy! Wonderful puzzle. I've been doing these puzzles for so long that I typically sail right through and find a lot of them humdrum. But this puzzle, every which way I turned, stopped me in my tracks. Never did figure it out, but that's okay because of the smile it put on my face when I came here and learned who had constructed it.

rainforest 4:21 PM  

First of all, congratulations to Nancy (debut?) and nice mentoring job Will.

I found this very, er, enjoyable and frustrating all at once. I hit three dead-ends, and couldn't see the trick. However, I had EMONGER in place and was mulling over the "Western villain" clue when the "Aha" moment occurred. It should have been a quick mop-up job from there, but I still had to deal with the laST/BEST issue which I eventually got, and then had to let BAR CAR pass (the only weird/wrong clue in the puzzle). If I have a drink in my hand, I'm IN the bar car, not going there.

Nevertheless, I had a good time completing this. Excellent theme well-executed, and above average fill.

@Lady Di, way to go. No way you should have finished where you did in the ACPT. Maybe performance anxiety, something I'm familiar with, in a different context.

There's my collaborative contribution for the day. Now we must engage @Spacey, our presumptive leader, man about town @Rondo, poet laureate @Burma Shave, and all you other syndies. How's it going, guys and gals?

leftcoastTAM 5:51 PM  

Late to Nancy's party, but want to congratulate her anyhow. I've always enjoyed her posts.

Have to congratulate entire syndie group for besting, or worsting, the puzzle.

ALAS, I had to cheat to finish. [Shrug.]

strayling 7:15 PM  

Lovely. More like this, please.

strayling 7:22 PM  


When people are in a BAR CAR, they're going (moving) because they're in a train. It's a love it/hate it misdirection I suppose. Put a smile on my face when I figured it out.

strayling 8:15 PM  

@lady di

Perhaps we could be Synecdoches.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

I'm confused -- in what way does nip mean edge?

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