Two-masted vessel / THU 5-9-19 / Brew with red triangle logo / Traveling so to speak in basketball / Janet with Tony Drama Desk Olivier Award / Crooner with ukulele

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Constructor: Lewis Rothlein

Relative difficulty: Medium (5:34)

THEME: OFFSIDES (38D: Football offense ... or a hint to six answers in this puzzle) — well, for six answers, the correct answer is flanked on either "side" by letters that are ... extra. I don't know if they're "off" in the sense of "wrong" or "off" in the sense of "off to the side." Do the letters need to come "off" of the "sides" to make sense? This is bizarre, since as a solver, I have to Put Those Letters In ... but then imagine them Off? What? Anyway, one letter is added to either side of clued answer to get new word or phrase. There doesn't appear to be any rationale to which letters are used, what the new phrases are, etc. You just ... add two letters. Could be any two letters:

Theme answers:
  • ALONE Y (12A: Unassisted)
  • KETCH Y (14A: Two-masted vessel)
  • FORGE T (26A: Blacksmith's workplace)
  • ANGEL O (45A: Perfect child)
  • PEARL Y (59A: 30th anniversary gift)
  • OTHER E (60A: Not this or that)
Word of the Day: MOCHI (54A: Glutinous rice cake of Japan) —
  1. a short-grained, sweet, glutinous rice with a high starch content, used in Japanese cooking. (google)
• • •

I enjoyed solving this one, mostly because the fill was clean, varied, and interesting (MOCHI!—if I knew that word, I'd forgotten it. So cute!). The theme was ultimately a let-down, though. I kept waiting to hit the revealer, but I didn't get there until the very end, and when I did ... very little was explained. I knew by that point that, for the themers, the clued answer was flanked by two letters that formed a new phrase. OFFSIDES did little to explain that. Or, it did too much. At any rate, the meaning that the revealer is going for is still not totally clear to me. And it does nothing to explain why these letters, why these new phrases / words? In the end, there appears to be no answer for the why question(s). A truly killer puzzle would've found another layer, one where the letters that are "off" to the "sides" somehow mattered. Taken in order, they might have spelled something. I don't know. I just know that when I got BALONEY, I was like "Oooh, a message! First word 'BY'. Next word ... [solves NE corner] ... 'SY'? What the heck?" After SKETCHY, I realized the letters wouldn't do anything (not consecutively, anyway) and the OFFSIDES letters were not always going to be "B" and "Y." So I just opened myself up to the reality of randomness and dove in. When you lower your expectations, good things happen. Also, when you fill your grids well, good things happen. As I say, I liked hacking through this. The revealer just CLUNKED, for me (57A: Knocked, like heavy machinery). Hope you'd heard of a KETCH before! Otherwise, that SKETCHY themer might've knocked you around a bit.

Got started pretty easily. The NW offered very little resistance, even with that themer in there. Put AMANAS in immediately, then SEL and NOIRS and I was underway. Had somewhat more trouble in the NE, as I did not know (remember?) Janet MCTEER, so I needed every cross for that (10D: Actress Janet with a Tony, Drama Desk and Olivier Award). Luckily I knew LENA (21A: Actress Headey of "Game of Thrones"), because that MCTEER / LENA cross is unkind. Not great to cross two of the same kind of proper noun like that, when neither has superstar / universal recognition status. Especially bad to cross at a vowel. Now MCTEER seems more likely than MCTAER, but ... actually, does it? MCTEER's not exactly a common name. Anyway, some poor souls will wreck on that cross, I promise you. RODE HERD is a phrase I haven't encountered in a while, so that took a few ticks to become clear (37D: Kept a close eye (on)). And I just blanked on OPTIMAS because ugh, car names, so many (55A: Midsize Kias). Brain kept going ALTIMAS! But then other Brain would go "That's Nissan, dummy." Lather rinse repeat. But I worked it out.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. for non-sports folks, "traveling" is a basketball violation that's called you take more than two STEPS without the ball being dribbled (50A: Traveling, so to speak, in basketball). STEPS has become basketball slang for "traveling."

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:32 AM  

Lewis! One of our own! Congrats on your fifth NYT puzzle!

As is my wont, I avoided looking for a reveal, so I thought early on that this would be a rebus, and 33A was “glue stick.” Nope. After struggling mightily, I had to look at the reveal, but then I was thinking the word OFF would be outside the grid in various places. Nope. Having solved it, I examined the two extra letters, looking for a connection to OFF (or, like Rex, for some message). No luck. Finally, I revisited the word OFF to see the verb – Here, take this BALONEY and OFF the letters on either side. Bam. Terrific aha moment.

So fun to see PEARL hidden in UP EARLY. And OTHER hidden in SO THERE.

Very first entry was 26A “foundry.” Defensible.

KETCH has Patrick Berry immunity, but I had totally forgotten that word. I vaguely wondered if the two-masted vessel was Chinese since we get our word ketchup from Chinese, but alas, they’re not related.

I tried to come up with my own, especially ones whose 7-letter part is two words, but I struck out. I did think of probing, paisley, lattice, aunties, and buttery. MSNBC was on in the background, so, well, devils.

Fun, tricky Thursday, Lewis! Figuring out that OFF was so satisfying. I wonder – did you consider TAKE SIDES as a possible reveal? Nah. That would’ve been too easy.

Congrats again, man.

mmorgan 6:43 AM  

I liked this a lot! I couldn’t figure out how BALONEY or SKETCHY made sense, and first thought that OFFSIDES meant the word “off” was left off (to the side). When I figured it out, it was a nice ah-ha moment. I also fairly quickly gave up the notion that the “side” letters might have any special meaning, but I liked how the “new” words with the off side letters added were so different from the actual theme answers. Great puzzle, fun solve!

TokyoRacer 6:48 AM  

Yes, I was a poor soul who wrecked on that cross. Result was a blank space. That's a Natick, right? An absolute no-no. How can a constructor allow that in their grid?

Anonymous 7:11 AM  

Still super upset that offsides is an ofFENSE (like a penalty), not an OFFense, like spread or west coast. I was so stuck there. Had the clue said penalty instead of offense, I probably would have been a lot faster, but I kept thinking there must be some new formation I haven't heard of.

FLAC 7:14 AM  

Clever puzzle. Liked that revealer was ON the SIDE.

jammon 7:17 AM  

A load of scrape.

Nick D 7:20 AM  

Naticked by MCTEER / LENA

Anonymous 7:22 AM  

OFFSIDES is hardly a football offense in the normal meaning of offense. It is a misplay which results in a penalty, or should.

kitshef 7:26 AM  

I really wish I could say I loved it, because who doesn’t love Lewis? I am sorry, but I didn’t (love the puzzle), for a few reasons.

Some of it is admittedly my own personal issues. The puzzle hit an inordinate number of my hot buttons: cars, Game of Thrones, Disney Movie trivia, obscure Japanese foodstuffs.

Then there is the problem that the football offense is OFFSIDE, not OFFSIDES. Needs to be clued as football offenses (plural) to get a plural answer.

But my biggest problem is that the theme is so-so. So much so-so that I thought I must have missed something. I thought the “extra” letters at the end would have some meaning or theme. As it is, they don’t, which means they are only clued in one direction, which is a no-no.

Major plus for the SLAMS clue. And I loved the TONTO clue, but for such a tricky clue, I think having two unclued include letters in the acrosses is problematic.

[PS having read Rex's comments, I also agree LENA/MCTEER cross is unfair. I knew the latter from Jessica Jones, but she sure isn't a household name.]

Hungry Mother 7:28 AM  

Pretty fast. I loved the theme! I had a lot of fun working on this one.

QuasiMojo 7:32 AM  

Quite a lot of truly clever fun stuff in this puzzle today. LETS for “re-serves” had me SMHing for a long time. Good one. So too STEIGER which had me reeling. Thought Scout leader must be EAGLE then SANTA, as in reindeer. Wasn’t there a deer named Scout? Lol. But Tangelo saved my patoot. Sadly I have never heard of MiCHI and had a DNF at that crossing. I kept thinking of RAFT for rescue because of the many souls fleeing their homelands on such makeshift devices. Rex has a point about the missing double whammy of the SIDES not being germane or adding up to something else to elevate this another STEP. But OTHERwise thumbs up, Lewis. Nice job. Thanks for the challenge!

Runs with Scissors 7:45 AM  

Kept looking for the rebus and it just wasn’t there. That’s not a bad thing, but Thursdays are known for it. I’ve looked it over at least a dozen times and still don’t get the extra letters on the answers, such as BY SY IT TO UY SE. If there’s something meta there, it’s beyond me. I don’t actually care, because the puzzle was tough and fun to solve, and made me think, and has some good stuff. I rarely notice the extras because they’re just not important to me.

CLUNKED it did not. I can foresee many people giving it a WTF, and others saying it was just an egotistical exercise by the constructor. Still others will say it sucked for such as EDDIE. I disagree.

When you get answers such as SKILLET, SHINTO, HARBINGER (brilliant clue), RODE HERD, UNPICKED, UP EARLY, SO THERE, BALONEY, and my favorite BASS ALE (tasty, that). . . well, how can it be bad?


Anyone who dislikes this puzzle needs to re-learn how to enjoy the less important things in life. ‘Cause, as (insert favored deity) knows, a crossword puzzle ain’t important in the grand scheme of life. It’s just fun.

Quite the tussle-fest, enjoyed it, and was not all MANIACAL when it fought back. I wouldn’t even call it OFFSIDES.

I want more like this.

Mark, in Mickey’s North 40

SJ Austin 7:54 AM  

I think OFFSIDES just means you take the sides off. But I agree it is pretty out there, and it was no help to me even after I saw what was going on with the theme answers. According to the Lewis (on That Other Crossword Blog), the original revealer answer was SIDESWIPE, which I might have preferred.

I agree with Rex though: the fill was clean and fresh. I enjoyed this one and came in at almost exactly average Thursday time.

Z 7:55 AM  

Hard to believe anyone has missed the ubiquitous GoT, but Rex is right, a vowel natick is the worst natick so LaNA, LENA, LiNA, LoNA, LuNA is really just whac-a-vowel. And a last name? Forget about it.

What Rex said about the fill. The FIR and ASH trees are getting an MRI for ROT, apparently, demonstrating that even the three-letter fill is unusually fresh. Three letter dreck is the most easily forgiven, but no forgiveness is needed today. And MOCHI. I’m not sure “Glutinous rice cake from Japan” passes my personal breakfast test, but I did this last night so nice one.

As for the theme, right on the cusp between letter-play and wordplay. I did the same thing with BALONEY, thinking “ALONE BY itself, where is this going?” So I wouldn’t say the revealer CLUNKED, but a little something more would have been nice.

Speaking of wordplay, Verses versus verses events (looks like you need to say it three times quickly), Rod on reels, and A light one goes a long ways would all be on my list of nominees for this week’s favorite clues.

We’re in Colorado for the middle child’s graduation from his Masters program. Cannot believe I left 75° sunshine to sit here and look at snow. Blrggh. For the curious, here’s an interesting interview. I’m thinking @Lewis will find it interesting given his non-puzzle world interests.

Z 8:06 AM  

@anon7:22 - see @anon7:11. Not an “offense” as in “spread” or “power I,” but an “offense” as in “false start” or “pass interference.” Aren’t homographs fun?
@kitshef - Along the same lines “the right guard was OFFSIDES” is perfectly okay in football lingo. Notice that the infraction is singular despite the terminal S.
Agree on the TONTO clue. I knew I was missing one.

Devon 8:10 AM  

Ooohhhhh I didn’t even get this and I was like “wait how is OFFSIDES an OFFense, I thought you weren’t supposed to do that?” Hahahaha!

Devon 8:11 AM  

Came here hoping you’d figured out something I didn’t with the extra letters but alas, they’re just pointless.

Suzie Q 8:13 AM  

Lots of fun today. Thanks @ Lewis! Well done.
So many interesting words and wonderfully clever clues kept me happy over my morning coffee.
My favorite clue that also tossed us some great trivia was the one about ants/Antarctica.
I really enjoyed the word search in the theme answers.
That proper name intersection was my only nit but I'll assume that was WS's doing so @ Lewis' reputation can remain untarnished.

Hartley70 8:43 AM  

I get basketball so STEPS came easily. Girls got to play half court when I had gym class. Thank goodness those dark ages are over! Yesterday’s ping pong was a knotty pine basement, rainy day activity as a kid, so I get that too. I could put the English on my serve with the best of them in the ‘50s. Football, however, is a mystery and OFFSIDES a conundrum inside that enigma. The rules are just something I’d rather not know, although I love the apps and ads on Super Bowl Sunday. Despite my ignorance, I solved this correctly without knowing why or how the answers had outside little letter guardians. I still liked the puzzle and the clueing. I don’t need a big aha moment every day. I get a kick just seeing that @lewis is the constructor. Congrats!

kitshef 8:52 AM  

@Z - OFFSIDES used in that way is perfectly okay in the same way that using 'drownded' for the past tense of drown is okay - meaning you sometimes hear it but it's wrong.

puzzlehoarder 8:53 AM  

Congratulations @Lewis, I got a Saturday's worth of puzzling out of your Thursday. Some of that time was spent trying to make something significant out of the extra letters but for the most part it was put toward figuring out the great clues for entries like ANTS, SLAMS and STEIGER.

MCTEER and MOCHI are both excellent debuts. I had to change CLANKED to CLUNKED to get the MUTT/MOCHI crossing. MCTIER looked more likely than MCTEER but LENA was just that much more likely than LINA. Having TIERS in the puzzle already just across the puzzle at 18A pretty much sealed the deal. Maybe that was just a coincidence but if not it didn't go unnoticed.

Solving experience beats out theme cleverness/tightness any day for me. If a person wants to nitpick about the lack of a tie in between the revealer and the extra theme letters they should also point out the non-theme words that had words within them. HINT, LOB, PIC and ANTAS are obvious inside of SHINTO, GLOBE, EPICS and FANTASY. If you want to go all Scrabble on it there are TE in STET, AR in SARI and UT in MUTT. There are a couple more like that but you get the point. Nitpicking is nitpicking. Keep the quality solved coming and thank you for this one.

Nancy 9:12 AM  

I hadn't yet noticed the byline, so when I saw AMANAS leading to ABETTING, I thought Oh, dear, I hope this won't be too easy for a Thursday.

I needn't have worried. When BALONEY came in -- and there could be no doubt that that was the right answer -- I thought: What on earth is going on??

This fun puzzle provided plenty of exercise for my little gray cells and I had a very good time. And as always with our Lewis, the clues are terrific: YEAR at 52A is a contender for Clue of the Year. And I also loved ALTER EGO (3D); TONTO (27D); ANTS (5D), which I'm sure is the best clue for ANTS that's ever been conceived.

As a woman, by far the most intriguing piece of info I got today is that the #1 Google search is on how to TIE A TIE. Ver-r-r-y interesting!

Because I had CLaNKED before CLUNKED, MUTT was my last answer in. (I couldn't figure out a -ATT rescue.) My radiator CLANKS, it doesn't CLUNK, but that's a small matter. Thanks, Lewis, for not telling us where the theme answers went and letting all of them come as a surprise. Most enjoyable!

NHL2XXX 9:13 AM  

Sadly, with GLO on the grid, my first thought for "Grade school classroom accessory" was GLOCK. Interesting times.

H. Windsor-Knot 9:14 AM  

Got totally thrown off by working through the puzzle thinking that 17A was the revealer: "The way to do this is..." and assuming that the "how-to" referred to a method for doing Google searches (apparently the hyphen didn't register with me).

When I finally got to 38D, all I could think was WTF!?

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

Mcteer crossing with Lena was not ok. I had Lina and then Lana, and then figured I had something wrong elsewhere in the puzzle. Never heard of either person.

RooMonster 9:17 AM  

Hey All !
Got done with my post, hit the wrong button, lost for all time. Aggregating, to say the least.

Did find a weird Meta with the OFFed letters. Someone saying to Actor McGuire to do a small pig call? - ITSY SUEY TOBY.

With that groaner, I'll bid you Adieu, as I don't want to have this one vanish.


GILL I. 9:22 AM  

My BALONEY has a first name, Y U M M Y. Oh I love to solve it every day, and if you ask me why I'll say, cause Lewis Rothlein has a way.
Primo, @Lewis. Put up a fight but in the end I git-er-done. Loved the fight! Your cluing is the B E S T.
Started off like @Rex but I got scared along the way. I was waiting for something to pop out and bite me. (B)ALONE(Y) took me a SNAIL pace to get and so did (S)KETCH(Y). So I'm thinking these extra letters must, in the end, spell something fantastic that only Lewis could come up with. Didn't seem to happen. That was my only little disappointment.
My two Googles were MCTEER and LENA. I'm a GoT nerd but I don't know the names of any of the actors. Probably should since they will be in crosswords from now until kingdom come.
There is not one single entry here that caused one little wince. I usually find one - but not today. Didn't feel the least bit TONTO, au contraire, I felt like a smarty pants for taking my time and finishing a most enjoyable Thursday. Hope you do a lot more these.

webwinger 9:27 AM  

Lots of nice clues and answers in this grid, but after the recent previous Thursday by @Lewis I was prepared to be dazzled by the theme, and sadly was not, although the individual word transformations in the themers were all pretty cool. This was a hard solve for me (for a while thought it might end my YTD streak), in large part because of taking quite a while to grok the theme. I knew some of the more obscure PPP references (TONTO, STEIGER—both with great clues), definitely not others (would never have gotten LENA/MCTEER without googling). (Initially out of laziness, now as a matter of principle have completely excluded GoT and Facebook from my life.)

albatross shell 9:31 AM  

Except for the the theme being inane without being amusing, everything in this puzzle had flair and freshness. The only appeal the theme had is it produced an aha moment when you got it followed by a slightly hollow OK when you realized that was all it was.
The aha for TONTO was the best.

Tried eleven for the offense, hoping adding sides would make it work. Yes OFFSIDES is plural. Yes 'he was OFFSIDES' is common parlance. A minor nit or infraction. In football OFFSIDE is called strictly, holding not so much. Watch the replay and decide for yourself.

I used Google 2 times. MCTEER MOCHI. I have a sliding scale of morality based on time available, day of the week and whimsy.
I got SOTHERE from the crosses and did not get that it was a theme. The cross with MUTT was last, the music played. I thought why is SOTHERE right. But the amusing part was that MUTT was an answer for 'not this or that'.

So many good clues, answers, and old friends; Fast EDDIE STEIGER TONTO HARBINGER TIEATIE

Outside The Box 9:37 AM  

Good write-up by Rex. Enjoyed this puzzle.

Getting “forge” surrounded by a letter on either side did it for me. That was my “Aha” moment about what to look for.

JC66 9:41 AM  


Terrific puzzle, I really enjoyed it.
Great trick and reveal with so many clues/answers that are just superb.
Thanks for the fun solve.

Nancy 9:43 AM  

One of Santa's reindeer is named...SCOUT???? Oh, poor Quasi (7:32). Poor, poor benighted Quasi: somewhere in your study of Great Literature, you've managed to miss "A Visit from Saint Nick", from which I reproduce the following:

On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer, on Vixen,
On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner, on Blitzen...

Those are the reindeer. Those are all of the reindeer. There are no other reindeer. Study them. Your Santa's Reindeer Exam will take place one week from today :)

Speedweeder 9:46 AM  

@Lewis, I wonder what you'll put on your "favorite clues from last week" list on Monday. I think you should include several from this puzzle. My favorites were ANTARCTICA, STEIGER, TONTO, YEAR, and MUTT. All worthy of consideration for top five. Excellent job!

JustMarci 9:54 AM  

I think I was on the penultimate theme before it hit me. Until then, it was pretty much “ fits? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ “

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Not a fan of this one. The theme makes no sense... Add two random letters at the start and end then take them off? Odd. And since the letters are random there is no higher reason pulling them together. Also naticked by the names crossing, surprised that was allowed to stay. Found it hard overall.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

Please, someone, explain the answer “lets” for the clue 24A, “Calls for reserves?”.

Newboy 10:04 AM  

“that MCTEER / LENA cross is unkind” Amen brother Rex. A double Natick? Is there a term for that?

McNO 10:05 AM  

MCTEER/LENA xing was made worser by the demonic cluing of LETS.

I thought I knew what a SARI was...and as I think of it, I don't recall a woman's midriff showing. Shoulder yes, midriff, no. The definition of midriff is "the region of the front of the body between the chest and the waist." If that were true of a sari, the breast would be showing since it is in between the shoulder and waist.

Didn't like the theme. There definitely needs to be a reason for either the added letters or the resulting new words/phrases...which was also confusing. New word by adding random letters? New two-word phrase by adding two letters? WTH?

For anyone who's actually lived in an urban area (and there aren't a whole lot of true urban areas in America) it's not urban just because it's "Built up." In the Venn diagram of "built up," while most/all urban areas are "built up," lots of suburban areas are built up too. So...."built up." Whatevs.

ENTITLE/TIEATIE/'s the equivalent of a xword puzzle brain freeze.

I got AMANAS right away. Who can forget their first microwave oven, the "Radar Range." Oh, those whacky Amish.

The puzzle was okay, but the reason I look forward to the Thursday puzzle is a more integrated theme. This one falls short because of what Rex mentioned.

nyc_lo 10:06 AM  

Finished with a slightly faster-than-average time, but left with a lot of WTF answers. Fooled by the OFFense/ofFENSE clue, shame on me. And some of the others took a while for the tumblers to click, like “ohhhh, Scout was Tonto’s horse...” I wish the themers had been more coherent. UP-EARLY and TANGELO don’t really fit with the others, which could all be sort of cheeky retorts to an “off” comment. So it fell a bit short in the satisfaction department. But all in all, the puzzle earns a slow clap for keeping me on my toes.

nyc_lo 10:12 AM  

@Anonymous: lets or let is a tennis term for grazing the net on a serve, calling for do-overs or RE-SERVES. More tricky wording like the “offense” clue.

QuasiMojo 10:14 AM  

So many fine comments today and some funny ones, even droll. @Nancy, thank you for enlightening me to the names of Santa’s reindeer. Not sure how I thought Scout might be among them. Just call me tonto. Btw, I meant to write MOCHI in my earlier post. I had the OCHI but not the M. And now I realize why. It’s because I had CLANKED too. Clunked is not a word I’ve ever used to describe the sound of heavy equipment. I looked it up. Apparently “clunked” is also a nautical adjective for some kind of material applied to the undersides of ships, well at least when tars manned ketches.

Wood 10:15 AM  

Tennis. A "let" is a call to re-serve the ball. Tough clue!

Wood 10:17 AM  

I'm GoT agnostic. Lucked into LENA/MCTEER.

JC66 10:18 AM  


Don't forget Rudolph.

@Anon 9:57

Think tennis; after LET, you have to re-serve.

Katzzz 10:23 AM  

Think tennis.

Sir Hillary 10:24 AM  

@Lewis -- I did not enjoy this puzzle as much as your previous ones, but I am tremendously impressed that you continue to crank out interesting ideas. Well done. While you are far to modest to include your own clues in your weekly favorites, the clue for YEAR definitely belongs there.

Maybe the "off-siding" of the theme entries sent me there, but for some reason I was reparsing ATONOF entries today:
-- "Yeah, I drink too much BASSALE. SOT HERE."
-- New anti-tax slogan: NO IRS!
-- Ex-sprinter Bolden became a dentist...ATO, DDS
-- E PICS are photos on your phone. iFORGET is a better name for "Find My Phone".
-- Could someone who overuses a certain three-letter word to signify something funny be called a HAR BINGER?

Lewis 10:24 AM  

@rex – Your review was right on the mark, fair and balanced (in the original good-meaning sense of that phrase), smartly pointing out appealing and unappealing aspects that I can build my craft on. Thank you, sir.

There is some joy and some disappointment in Mudville today, and I hope that those with the latter found enough of the former to be entertained and for the overall solve to have been good, even if flawed. I am also pleased as punch that this puzzle brought unalloyed smiles so some as well.

There is a constructor who I emulate, who has had a great many NYT puzzles published. Several years back, I was amazed at the ability of this person to consistently come up with good themes, to construct quality grids, and to fill them with varied and interesting entries. But I believed this constructor had an Achilles heel in cluing, which was almost always direct, and devoid of wordplay. In these last few years, I have watched this person’s cluing evolve, to where it now matches those sterling qualities that were always there (and which have grown even better).

I am inspired by this person, and hope to have my constructing arc rise in the same way, with weaknesses catching up to the strengths -- and everyone’s honest comments – yays and nays – are so helpful. Thank you all!

Horace S. Patoot 10:27 AM  

Look for mochi in the frozen section at Trader Joe’s. They are ice cream filled rice flour balls that are cold and sweet and outstanding. My favorite is green tea flavor.

David 10:33 AM  

I blew through this one and enjoyed it, but not at first. After Baloney I thought, oh, okay, they'll be flanked by a b and a y. Alone by, by myself, OH NO! brain immediately cues up a very sappy song from the Nixon era! STOP IT!

Had the NW filled and moved to the NE. Two masted boat? Hmm, couldn't figure that one at all, went to downs, put in Skillet, Shinto, and yeast, then said (out loud) Sketchy? Oh Okay. Shrug shoulders and forget about there being any larger thing and move on.

There was a lot to like about this puzzle: "fantasy" crossing "perfect child"; "tiers, tars"; "stet, steps, steppe" is that a triad?

Knew steps because I'll watch basketball. The team comes out and plays until they stop, then the do it again. It's much like futbol, where the most commonly violated rule is offsides.

Thanks to Tonto for getting me out of the "tangled" web I wove for myself there. I never remember the proper spelling of "angel"

Definitely my favorite puzzle in a while, many thanks Lewis.

jrstocker 10:51 AM  

I reaaaaaaally fought with that MOCHI/MUTT cross, especially because I wasn't 100% sure if 57A was CLINKED, CLANKED, or CLUNKED. Kinda coulda been any of them...

Blue Stater 10:52 AM  

Worst NYT puzzle ever. In a class by itself. The gimmick had no rhyme or reason; the clues (and many of the answers) were full of mistakes. This one is beyond outrageous.

Wood 10:56 AM  

Emphasis on the second syllable of "offense."

Wood 10:57 AM  

Agree with you and Rex that the theme is just too random.

OISK 10:59 AM  

I really enjoyed this one; perhaps I would feel a bit differently had I guessed wrong on Lena-McTeer. Never watched Game of Thrones, and with so many episodes now out there, probably never will. Loved the cluing in this puzzle. "Calls for reserves." OH! Re-serves! Those "aha" moments are the real fun of solving puzzles, and this one was loaded with those. Almost came a clunker when I had clanked. Japanese food is completely outside my culinary experience ( I don't eat fish or seafood..), so eventually getting "mutt
and "mochi" was an accomplishment. But when I did finally think of "Mutt," - "Many a rescue.." what a great clue!!

Was really delighted yesterday when "Adele" was clued not by reference to a current pop star, but to the chambermaid from Fledermaus. (ah, sehr komisch, ha,ha,ha...)

jberg 11:01 AM  

Hand up for being a poor soul -- the only Headey I could think of is Erin, who's big in the early music world, but hardly crossworthy, and in any case is named Headley. So I took a guess, and went with LiNA.MCTiER. My paternal grandmother was named LENA, but in my convoluted brain that made it less plausible as the answer.

OTOH, great cluing everywhere. The 'football offense' misdirect was a feature, not a bug, and I loved it once I ginally figured it out.

Aside from the Natick, and overlapping it, my biggest problem was putting in "How to brEAk up" when I had only the EA. That one seemed plausible, and both funny and poignant. I sure could have used instructions at some points in my past.

41A, "Countless," was not particularly tricky as a clue, but I was thinking music, and once I had AT.. kept thinking it might be ATONal -- and preparing to complain because that's not what atonal means. I often do that, and it tends to lock my thinking in on the error. I'd do much better if I always gave the constructor and editor the benefit of the doubt, and looked for a better answer.

@Quasi, thanks for explaining how to parse re-serves! I had the right answer, but didn't understand it. I almost went with LoTS -- when a lot comes up at an auction, they enter the reserve bids -- but MCT_OR didn't seem likedly AT ALL.

I agree, the theme would have been better if the letters taken OFF the SIDES made sense; but I did like it. One of its good features was that it was hard to remember when to do it -- so I looked at 14A, thinking KETCH? sloop? yawl? (not sure those are all correct) - none of them fit! and schooner is too long. So I really had to get all but one of the crosses before I could see it.

Nice work, @Lewis, hope to see you in here again, soon.

Ellen S 11:18 AM  

@Nancy, careful with the reindeer names - Wikipedia prefers Dunder to Donner (autocorrect prefers Dundee to Dunder, so this is hard to type) and Blixem to Blitzen. But most important, modern research has revealed the existence of a ninth reindeer, Rudolph. So, eight planets, nine reindeer.

@Quasi, don’t back down: I’m sure Santa has some backup reindeer, in case one of the famous ones pulls up lame. One of them may well be Scout. There’s no evidence to the contrary.

Nancy 11:26 AM  

Yes, @JC66, I did forget Rudolph. I remembered a moment or two too late, but knew that someone on the blog would remind me :) Wonder why he's not mentioned in the poem?

pabloinnh 11:36 AM  

I'm with @JC66-gotta have Rudolph in there. Mostly because my do-wop group does a killer version of RTRNR (backup guys singing "shiny nose, shiny nose).

Also fun to see TONTO and some of us claiming to be not tonto. I used to tell Spanish classes about the meaning of "tonto" and suggest that he called The Lone Ranger "kemo sabe" as a slangly way of saying "que no sabe"--"that doesn't know", backhanded putdown. The last time I tried that most kids said "Who's The Lone Ranger?". End of an era.

Thanks for a fun Thursday Lewis. Your graciousness is, or should be, an inspiration to us all.

What? 11:51 AM  

Way too easy for a Thursday and the theme is blah with the word within a word having no relation to the larger word. Maybe that would be too hard to do.

Joseph M 12:02 PM  

Congrats, Lewis. Cool puzzle with many great clues!

However, you really made me work for this one. Felt totally INERT as I took STEPS through the grid with very little making sense. I almost gave up, but then I saw HARBINGER and somehow that led to solving the puzzle. Or almost solving it. The LENA/MCTEER cross was my downfall, having never heard of either. I went with Lina/McTier. The rest is history.

I really liked how the themers made sense with and without their sides. Once I figured out what was going on, I had a satisfying aha and the puzzle became relatively easy. Kudos to the ALONE in BALONEY and the ANGEL in TANGELO.

Crimson Devil 12:06 PM  

Attaboy Lewis. Makin us proud.
My difficulty was with LENA / MCLEER, and I labored mightily to do something with side detritus: too much to ask.
Great job.

old timer 12:12 PM  

I have decided to change "DNF" to "ding-a-ling." As Chuck Berry used to sing, it is fun to talk about your "ding-a-ling." Mine in this case was the CLUNK vs "clank" cross. Since to my mind machinery in need of repair can often clank, but never CLUNK, I was left with "matts" instead of MUTTS, and I never thought of that word for "rescue". People who adopt dogs and thereby rescue them from the pound never think of them as MUTTS. Anyhow, some rescues are purebred dogs or close to it, and cats and birds, which are obviously not MUTTS, are often rescues too.

I appreciate @Lewis for coming here with his kind words for OFL, and for appreciating that there was much about the puzzle that could be improved. Though I think LENA and MCTEER are a fair cross. Many New Yorkers will know the latter, and many millions of Americans know the former. I don't watch GOT but still had heard of LENA.

exdwsa 12:19 PM  

To all of you concerned with the OFFSIDES being plural or not an offense. The clue doesn't say "American" football. To the rest of the world football is what American's call soccer, and OFFSIDES is indeed a penalty/offense in soccer/football.

Masked and Anonymous 12:27 PM  

yo, @Lewis. Cool ThursPuz theme, with the semi-unchecked squares. And hidden anagram BUSY YETI TOYS. Primo.

Like most, had a lot of trouble, when I got BALONEY for Bad Tip clue {Unassisted}. Next Badtips Word I got was IFORGET, at which point I caught onto the theme mcguffin. The rest was pretty smooth sailin, at our house, except maybe for MOCHI. And MCTEER/LENA. Guessed those all ok, after the customary nanosecond runoff.

TIEATIE was also kinda hard for M&A to figure out. Probably cuz I didn't parse the clue good, plus I wear ties about as often as I wear hula skirts. Thought maybe it was one of them IEATI Badtips Words, for a while.

staff weeject pick: FIR. Only 3-letter Badtips Word.

fave fillins (of only 65 to choose from) included: FANTASY. HARBINGER. SKILLET. MUTT.

Thanx for the fun and real different feisty theme, @Lewis. Yer All-ThursPuz streak continues. Shoot -- If the Shortzmeister ever schedules one for a Wednesday, send him a note back, sayin U want to toughen er up a notch.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Carola 12:39 PM  

Fun to figure out! Like others, I first tried to connect the B-Y of BALONEY with some combination of "ALONE" and "BY oneself," but SKETCHY scotched that, to be replaced with, "Aha, 'baloney' and 'sketchy' = the words aren't what the clues say they are" - so I thought the theme would continue with other forms of hogwash or dishonesty. I FORGET blew that idea up. But it was fun enough to put an ANGEL in TANGELO and find the PEARL in UP EARLY.

I was fine with Janet MCTEER, as my Shakespeare-teaching daughter made a special trip from Colorado to New York to see her play Hamlet. My downfall was CL?NKED x M?TT. While I'm perfectly familiar with a bucket of bolts being a clunker, for some reason the verb form CLUNK never occurred to me.

@Lewis, thanks for the workout and for your comment. Add me to those who loved the cluing, Special tip of the hat for HARBINGER.

@Sir Hillary, thanks for those re-parsings :)

Runs with Scissors 12:47 PM  

An added bonus - I think I now "get" the name of a food-ish type place in Fullerton: Mochilato. Still never been inside, though.

Frog Prince Kisser 12:47 PM  

@puzzlehoarder 8:53 AM

Well said! I agree!

But, re “the non-theme words that had words within them,” please note that all of the symmetrically-placed theme answers are exactly seven letters long, with just two “side” letters to take “off” in order to reveal the exactly five-letter “correct” answers.

Great Thursday puzzle! I really enjoyed it!

nunya 12:51 PM  


Mo-T 1:04 PM  

I had horoscope before harbinger for 20D and then ran into all sorts of trouble until I recoznized (t) angel (o) at 45A. Dastardly.

I knew (10D) McTeer from general theatre garbage brain stuff. And I was visiting my brother when he was gearing up for GoT new season, so I got (21A) Lena from that marathon.

Loved the clues for (27D) Tonto and (14D) Steiger.

Thank you, Lewis. I enjoyed this puzzle immensely.

@Sir Hillary 10:24

I'm bingeing on har as I write. Thanks for the laugh.

bauskern 1:20 PM  

I got the theme after a while, but it seemed too random for me.
I was initially looking for words that extended off the sides of the grid.
Got every clue but LETS, and I'm a tennis player, so kudos for that toughie!
Decent level of difficulty for a Thursday; maybe a hair on the easier side, but just didn't enjoy the theme.

Teedmn 1:20 PM  

Once again, (for the 5th time, no less) @Lewis LETS (re-serves) up a Thursday treat!

I circled the ANTS clue as very clever. I filled in most of the theme questionables with no problem but didn't get the theme until poking around a bit a la @LMS. And since the clue need not have any relation to the answer, TANGEnt seemed fine for 45A, even though it wasn't working so well with the Unsers or the Scout leader in the downs. That spot and the CLaNKED area saTT (maybe the rice cakes were sOCHI? No, that's where the 2014 Winter Olympics were held!!)there unfilled for a while. Aha, MUTT.

Post-solve, scratching my head on the theme, I circled all the ?? answers and finally saw the ANGEL. I also checked out the OFF SIDES letters for a meta, only because I often miss a TIER of theme that adds to the elegance, not because I felt anything was missing. So when that avenue led nowhere, I was not disappointed.

Thanks, Lewis Rothlein, this was fun.

Fred Romagnolo 1:27 PM  

I got naticked, too. Also I wanted "clanged." I knew "let" as a tennis call, but I was never sure what it meant, so today was a real "what I learned from crosswords" day. Thanks, @Quasi. "Amanas" always recalls Barbara Hale, (Perry's Della) as it's spokesperson for years. "Nagano" can also be clued as a well-known conductor (Kent) from our Bay Area. The theme might have been extended by cluing 62A as "maiden name of famous first widow." At any rate, good job, Lewis.

Aketi 1:34 PM  

@Lewis, when the SNAIL appeared I started looking for its teeth. Then the PEARLY had me looking for the whites.

I liked HARBINGER since it reminded me of Battlestar Galactica and Kara Thrace.

I love matcha MOCHI ice cream so that was a gimme.

I had max and alt before OPT and CLaNKED, CLiNKED and CloNKED before finding M&A’s favorite letter. Should have know better.

I did not need the whack a vowel for LENA.

Fred Romagnolo 1:42 PM  

@pabloinnh: Alas (sigh), what will now be the fate of the William Tell Overture?

Logan 1:58 PM  

Somehow I missed 7 Across. Slams???

Z 2:24 PM  

@kitshef - While @exdwsa makes another great point in support of OFFSIDES being a faux plural, I am shocked, SHOCKED I say, that you would err with your "wrong" assertion. "Less than optimal," "non-standard," or even "vernacular variation" I could abide. But never, sir, "wrong!"

Just because it got buried in other comments:
When a tennis serve hits the net but still lands in the appropriate area the server is allowed to serve again without penalty, to reserve. This "reserve" is called a LET.
We've seen this hyphenless variation of reserve to mean "to serve again" before, so it didn't catch me this time. I needed the full explanation the last time it appeared.

Z 2:28 PM  

@Logan - As in Poetry SLAMS.

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

@Logan - Poetry SLAMS. Competitive poetry. You heard it here. You're seeing it here.

pabloinnh 2:49 PM  


I know, I know. Otempora o mores!

jae 3:01 PM  

Agree with @Rex and liked the puzzle. Just about right for a Thursday. Nice one @Lewis

Dave Saltzman 3:07 PM  

I don't think the "extra" letters that are off the sides (offsides, get it?) are random. U PEARL Y also = UP EARLY, AND I FORGET,so it is words concatenated inside longer phrases.


QuasiMojo 3:23 PM  

Thanks @Ellen S. I agree. You’re welcome @jBerg. And @Nancy, Rudolph was “born” in 1939.

Frantic Sloth 3:26 PM  

Just so relieved to see that I wasn't the only one confused by this theme. Usually, everything is wrapped up in a nice, tidy, word bow, but not this time! Have to say I wasn't a fan. Despite what appears to have been great care taken with the "special" entries, those odd extra letters with no rhyme or reason made this puzzle a real downer for me. So happy this blog is available or it would have driven me crazy!

Preferred Customer 3:48 PM  


Tita 4:05 PM  

Congrats, @Lewis! I really like it, for all the great fill and clues already mentioned. Theme was fun, though yes, I was disappointed that those two letters didn't have more to do.
I did natick. Even for a tv show or movie I love, I'm unlikely to know the names. And MCT_ER... no... Not at all inferrable...grr...

Favorite theme answer that i forgot was a themer... TANGELO... Perfect child...Whaaa?!

Fun fact about the Google how-to... I'm surprised that something that only half the population of some parts of the globe need could achieve that status. And where are their dads/moms/sisters?

Thanks Lewis!

Tita 4:10 PM  

Wow... Posted that way early this morning, but Blogger threw an error that I just noticed now. Hope my witty and articulate post makes it through... I miss y'all!

albatross shell 4:29 PM  

My neighbor is a retired logger who still owns his vehicles and repairs them and uses them in non-standard ways. One of them knocks in a manner that is very loud and very accurately described as a CLUNK repeated every one or two seconds. CLUNK
was my first choice. I paused because I thought clank might be the answer for someone who has not heard my neighbors vehicle. Many have suggested good answers and cluing that I did not mention. I agree with most if not all of them. I'll also add RODEHERD or me too if has been mentioned.

The description of the theme answers being 5 letters long with 2 letters off to the side reminded me very much of a standard American football offensive line formation. (Are my adjectives in lawful order?) The five being the down lineman and the 2 out to the side being the wide receivers. An accident or a clever subconscious misdirect?

TomAz 4:39 PM  

MCTEER/LENA got me too.

I didn't understand LETS as clued until I read the explanation in here. It's very clever.

Didn't understand the theme til I got the revealer (which was easy, from just one F); then it all made sense and I liked it.

Had CLANKED too, so the U in MUTT was my last letter in.

After two days of travel hell (2 cancelled flights; resultant re-routing with one 3+ hour delay, a missed connection, and then another 3+ hour delay; home well after midnight last night) this was an enjoyable diversion for my addled brain.

GILL I. 4:54 PM  

@Tita....We miss you too. I'm a master TIE A TIE lady. Man can I do a Windsor. Start with the wide end.

Aketi 4:58 PM  

I just discovered the SHEL L on top of the SNAIL.

JC66 5:08 PM  


Welcome were missed.

GILL I. 7:08 PM  

@TomAz....I'll use my last legal post to say....AY AY AY. I spent 30+ years of my life on planes. I could tell you stories that would make your hair curl. Happy to say (even though I can travel free) that I would rather eat SKETCHY Feta than get on a plane again. It's outrageous what the airline industry now gets way with. Weather, I understand. Leg room for an infant and food for a mongrel is something else. Why do you think the rich buy their own airplanes?

Lady Di 7:45 PM  

A sari frequently shows the midriff, and your understanding of midriff is correct. It usually shows the area below the breasts and above the waistline (basically the bottom of the rib cage).

Lady Di 7:52 PM  

It’s funny to see the complaints about LENA and MOCHI, since neither are obscure to younger folks. I’ve struggled with old references over the past two weeks in particular (MEMOREX? Sheesh). Nice to see the tables turned in my favor!

I want to like this puzzle, but I don’t like that the added letters are random, and that the clue doesn’t give any indication of what the full length answer should be. If you don’t have the end letters via the cross clue, there’s no way to puzzle it out.

Tita 8:37 PM  

@newboy... That IS a natick... It's the crossing of two uninferable (usually) pop terms.
Now if you add in not catching the proper parsing of "reserve", like yours truly, then you might be able to add L_TS into the mix for a double natick.

@Gill... On the rare occasions when I have an empty seat next to me on a flight, I tell the person sitting at the aisle how we hit the jackpot in getting a free "upgrade" as I blissfully put my carryon under that middle seat and unbend my knees. Aaaahhhh...

Thx, @JC, Gill

sara 8:38 PM  

sorry i am posting this so late.. .but someone asked why Rudolph wasn't in the original poem. it's because the poem is really old -- whereas Rudolph got invented in a Carson, Pirie Scott Xmas ad (!) in the 1940's or maybe early 1950's -- and Rudolph caught on big as a pop reindeer. Whereas the Clement Moore poem is the older classic.

Runs with Scissors 8:47 PM  

Z 7:55 AM
"Hard to believe anyone has missed the ubiquitous GoT . . . "

Still chuckling at this. Some of us do not have the "premium" channels. I think I've turned on the TV once in the past 10 days, and that was to check the weather forecast because the wife was using the confuser.

There's almost nothing on the thousands of available channels worth watching.

Whitey 9:18 PM  

Got the themer fairly early and spent most of the puzzle trying to find clues that either bled off the side of the puzzle or had the word "off" specifically missing on one side. Ugh

GILL I. 9:22 PM  

@Runs wS... You are wrong. There is plenty on the Boob Tube to keep anybody who has ever had insomnia alive and well. Even if you don't....IZombie, Better Call Saul, The Good Fight, The Americans....oh, those are just a few. I know you spend your time biking but when you need a Bud (ugh) and want some "I want to get away from politics and weather" then sit back and watch some awesomeness.. :-). @jae....feel free to add a few more I forgot!

Fred Romagnolo 9:34 PM  

@Sara: I'm an architecture nut. The highlight of my one and only trip to Chicago was being photographed in front of the Carson, Pirie Scott Building. Taking a ride on the El through the Loop came next.

Michael 10:23 PM  

McNo at 10:05. The Amana colonies (where the Amana appliances come from) in Iowa are not Amish. A common misunderstanding. The place has a fascinating history with a great split in 1932 when the colonies stopped communal ownership. The descendants of the original settlers still have all sorts of rights unavailable to more recent residents. I only know this because the colonies are about 25 miles away from where I live.

Z 10:26 PM  

@Tita - I taught all three sons how to TIE A TIE. The youngest, for prom, had to have a special knot. Uncle Google to the rescue.

@Runs with Scissors - I’ve tried several times and find the whole GoT thing overwrought and overblown. And now I just know that the ending is going to be a huge let down for the faithful. Nevertheless, if you have one one-hundred-twenty-eighth of an ear tuned to pop culture it seems you would have heard of LENA Headey, Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kit Harrington, Maisie Williams,... Well, the list of actors is endless but still, They’re everywhere. And you just know that Iwan Rheon has letters just too appealing for constructors to avoid. How long before he makes his first Saturday appearance? Anyway, not amazed by anyone not liking or not watching the thing, just amazed anyone can avoid knowing stuff through cultural osmosis.

Abracapocus 11:27 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retdoc 11:59 PM  

I rarely post and I always like Lewis's comments about the puzzles... but... I thought his one was very problematic and not fun at all. I hate to be negative, even if the puzzle is atrocious but I really look forward to Thursday puzzles and I thoroughly disliked this one. There wasn't the interesting wordplay, the possible rebus, the inventive twist. It just fell flat for me. Well, on to Friday. Sorry, Lewis.

Birchbark 11:59 PM  

@Lewis -- Too late to join the discussion, but for the record if you're still reading (I traveled today): I started in the morning on the phone and ended just now at the computer with gratifying Congratulations music, after a long, intense, but fair (since I guessed right) stare-down at the "E" in MCTEER/LETS. I'm very impressed that you nested theme answers inside of other words/phrases. It drew on what I like about a good Thursday puzzle -- read the clue, figure out the answer, but it doesn't work until we figure out the theme. And then we get the prize of a totally different answer from what the clue asked for. Than you --

Runs with Scissors 12:41 AM  

@GILL I 9:22 PM

I'm not "wrong," I just don't have the same interests as you do. Very little appeals to me on the boob tube because I'm much more into reading than watching. But that's just me; I get that others are more visual.

@Z 10:26 PM

I can avoid the televised dreck but still get the answers through fairly crossed clues. I have no idea who those acters (the new unsexed job description) are, and don't want to know. If'n I get Naticked, well, it's not the end of the world. To me. <:-)>

4 and over-limit. And out.

Teedmn 12:53 AM  

@Z, did you read the GoT books? Frankly, I don't understand how anyone who didn’t read the books could follow the early series episodes because everything was so encapsulated in a minimal way - the characters weren’t introduced well, in my opinion. But having read the books well before the HBO series was ever conceived of, it was inevitable that, as an HBO subscriber, I would be lured in..

However, it did teach me a lesson; as an avid reader of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, whenever my husband happens upon an episode of the TV series, I plug my ears and beg him to turn the channel. My mental vision of the GoT characters has been so polluted that if I reread the books, I can’t help but see them but as depicted on TV. I don’t want the same thing to happen to Outlander.

Monty Boy 2:27 AM  

@Nancy 9:43. This is way late, but the one arcane name I know from poetry is the reindeer DONDER, commonly mistaken as Donner. I read it to the kids year round (they loved it) and got to know them very well. Minor picky point, I'll admit.

I expect only the Syndies will read this, but having toiled among them for years: Hi there!

Giskarrrd 7:18 AM  

DNF by a mile, too challenging for this novice solver. I’ve not gotten comfortable with the creative solving required to get through a theme like this... for example, I had IF_____ for 26A but just couldn’t get past that weird I despite thinking some form of FORGE should be involved. Oh well... I got myself comfortable up to Wednesday puzzle level which I’m quite happy with. Gonna keep learning from the Thursdays :)

A little frustrated with the revealer, as I kept thinking OFFSIDE would be nice but there’s an extra letter, that can’t be right... (I also had “neither” for 60A which didn’t help...).

Was happy with at least solving almost all of the NE, though had never heard of AMANA.

pdplot 9:31 AM  

what is tieatie?

Giskarrrd 10:01 AM  

@pdplot TIE A TIE (as in a neck TIE)

Perry 11:20 AM  

I can usually find something to enjoy about the NYT Xword on any given day, but this puzzle is so lame that it would be shot if it was a horse.

John Hoffman 1:05 PM  

Such dark humor: "Grade school classroom accessory" = GLOCK

GARM_77 9:08 PM  

Sorry, but the penalty is "offsides," not "offside." In fact, these days, the call is "encroachment," not offside. So BOO all around.

Anonymous 11:42 PM  

NFL rulebook uses offside with no S, as does the FIFA Law book for the other football sport. Lacrosse seems to use the plural S.


Anonymous 11:57 PM  

FIFA law 11 refers to only one offside at a time.

Anonymous 12:03 AM  

If you were Chinese and helped knot the cravat, you’d be the tie-a-tie taitai.

Jon R 3:42 PM  

LENA was a first pass gimme, but i still couldn't get MCTEER. Got the revealer but still didn't get close to finishing this. What a slog...and RODE HERD...what in god's name is that?

Burma Shave 10:09 AM  


ASYOU know, URBAN legends are SKETCHY,
LET’S just say IFORGET where
ALTEREGO becomes MANIACALly tetchy;


rondo 10:29 AM  

@Lewis – good on ya for a NYT puz pub, but . . . what? Taking OFF ‘SIDES’ of random words to reveal the clue’s answer as another word inside seems a bit SKETCHY. Maybe even BALONEY with nothing else going on with the SIDES OFF. Appropriate use of TARS though.

SHEL Silverstein was much more than a ‘children’s author’. His adult poetry got published in the likes of Playboy magazine. An ALTEREGO of sorts, and one of my faves.

The Lone Ranger’s sidekick puts TO ‘N’ TO together.

Easy call for yeah baby LENA Heady. But no Ole nor Sven.

This puz kinda CLUNKED. YES/NO?

spacecraft 11:12 AM  

I don't know whence comes OF's confusion anent the revealer. Simply take OFF the SIDES of the entry to get the clued word. That's all it is. And this continues the lesson of the week, kids in the classroom. Had @Lewis tried to fashion a phrase out of the side letters, he'd have wound up with a tortuous fill, no doubt. As it is, there are a few semi-CLUNKERS: APs ATONOF and ASYOU; the appearance of STEPS and STEPPE--OK, but a bit close for comfort; the Natick in the NE. I didn't have as much trouble with the first E of MCTEER--but the second! It took me forever to grok that "Calls for reserves?" was talking about tennis! When THAT bulb lit (oh, oh: RE-serves! *groan*) I knew what to do.

Still, the rest of it was fun to do, once I simplified the theme by paying no particular attention to the side letters. After doing the first one (SW, having started with Fast EDDIE), which had to be PEARL inside of UPEARLY, I would just put the central word in the theme line and fill in the ends later. Naturally the complete entry had to be a real thing--and it was. That's tough enough, folks!

SHEL Silverstein contributed to Playboy not only with fiction, but with cartoons. My most memorable one is two guys in a nudist camp locker room getting out of their street clothes: "I KNOW nobody ever gets one--but what do you do if you DO get one?" Not exactly children's fare, that.

Agree on DOD LENA Headley. Let us hope that this effort is a HARBINGER of more to come from our own @Lewis. Birdie.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

McTeer? That's like asking the middle name of an Argentinian shuffleboard champ.

Diana,LIW 1:30 PM  

Simply affirmed my dislike of non-crossword crosswords on Thursdays. No rhyme, reason, or enjoyment for me other than the parts that made sense. WORDfreakingPLAY please!


Diana,LIW 1:33 PM  

OMG This was by our dear Saint Lewis! Say it isn't so. You're better than this.

Lady Di

And yes, it is a coup to get a xword published, but...

leftmost 3:31 PM  

Clever, tricky, and annoying.

To give it its due: The OFFSIDES revealer is a good one. Took time to see how it worked and to match up with the themers. Initially got the trick at [I]FORGE[T].

Annoying: MCTEER, NAGANO/ABU, MOCHI, and wanted CLaNKED instead of CLUNKED; former has a better sound to it.

A couple of likes in the fill: duo of STEPS and STEPPE and best of all, TONTO as Scout leader.

leftcoast 6:59 PM  

"leftmost"? Curious typo. Freudian slip? Beats me.

@Diana re Lewis -- Like you, maybe, I don't think this puzzle reflects his amicable style.

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

Some of it was clever - some of it was stupid - some of it was downright sketchy (McTeer x Lena)

Have to agree with Rex on his comments, also started strong in NW then started scratching my head to often on the themers.

If I expected it to be fun all the time I wouldn’t be doing xwds.

This one left me with indigestion no matter who the constructor was

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