Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Constructor: Dan Caprera

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium - about my average Wednesday

THEME: Pirate Treasure Map — Theme answers spell out directions to find where there is buried treasure in the grid, starting at a skull and crossbones in the first square.  The puzzle's only X marks the spot.

Theme answers:
  • START AT THE SKULL (16A: [Piratey jargon clue])
  • EAST TWELVE PACES (22A: [Piratey jargon clue])
  • SOUTH SEVEN STEPS (49A: [Piratey jargon clue])
  • WEST FIVE THEN DIG (58A: [Piratey jargon clue])
Honorable mentions:
  • PRIZE (53D: Pirate's booty, say)
  • SEIZE (65A: Grab, as booty)

Word of the Day: TRUNCHEON (10D: Officer's Baton)
A baton or truncheon is a roughly cylindrical club made of wood, rubber, plastic or metal carried by law-enforcement officers, correctional staff, security guards, and military personnel.

• • •
David Harris here, filling in for Rex today—and looks like today's puzzle is a debut from Dan Caprera, so congrats, it's a whole day of folks you've never heard of before!

I'm guessing that there will be a mix of opinions on this one, between the "whimsical and different" camp and the "puzzles shouldn't have homework" crew. Personally, I think it works nicely enough—the premise is goofy, and the cluing really leans into that, which gets the puzzle across the line into "cute" territory.  Opening up the grid knowing I was blogging, and seeing a special little icon in the corner, actually gave me a small scare—just my luck if it was going to be something confusing, or a grid that couldn't be expressed in the app.  Once I then started looking at the theme clues, though, which are long and very much not reproduced above, I saw that the themers would be instructions and relaxed a bit.  It's nice that the design team will add little (largely) aesthetic touches for specific puzzles, even for the app solvers.

But on the downside, the clues were so long, and I knew the instructions would be somewhat arbitrary, so I basically decided to start by ignoring the themers until they started to take shape.  Looking back at them afterwards, I see that the themers rhyme as part of clue couplets, and that there are actually some hints to make the answers less arbitrary, like an instruction in 22A to "turn toward the dawn" being a hint about going east.  So the clues absolutely do serve a purpose, and thought went into them, not just goofy pirate speak.  But looking at them initially, they just seemed like a lot of work to parse and deal with.  I was relieved that this didn't end up being a theme with dot-connecting after the solve or other homework, but the theme definitely took a back seat for me until the end, which isn't ideal.  Seems totally fair to not be in love with this one, or to find it kind of charming, your mileage may vary.

And overall, congrats to Dan Caprera for having a memorable puzzle with an unexpected theme and some clever constructionnot too shabby for a constructor's debut.

On the fill, there's a bit of classic glue like suffix ENE (13A: Suffix with acetyl), the perennial IRAE (36A: "Dies ___" (hymn)), the partial NUEVA (63A: ___ York (biggest city in los Estados Unidos)), and the usually-regrettable SSS (67A: Sound from a punctured tire).  But given 60+ theme squares, it didn't feel like a ton.  I can see more of them if I go hunting in the grid, but they were less of a presence during the solve, which is what I care about.  Some of the cluing caught me off-guard, as I wouldn't normally consider ESME (12D: Salinger heroine) to be a "heroine" per se, given the story, and ORB for (30D: Magic 8 Ball, e.g.) makes me nervous that the 8-Ball may actually be magic.  I'd probably give minor-to-moderate sideeye to DISCI (42D: Things hurled at the Olympics) as a plural.  I also resisted putting in TEAL (48A: Pond swimmer), as it took me a minute to remember that it's a term for a duck, so that one's on me.

Balancing out some of the glue, there were definitely enough happy-making entries and clues, including some longer fill, that helped to balance it out.  I was kind of neutral on ENTENTES (38D: Diplomatic arrangements) and MARQUISES (31D: French noblemen or noblewomen), but some other stuff to like:

Clues of the Day:
  • ASPHALT — 26D: It covers a lot of ground.  Nothing you could do about this joke, it just happens to you.
  • TIMEOUT — 23D: Preschool punishment.  My brain immediately wanted this, even though the clue doesn't telegraph it especially hard—just some good fill.
  • DELVES — 47D: Looks closely (into).  A word that you probably either never hear, or hear way too often because that one guy uses it in every meeting. 
  • BETHESDA — 5D: Where the National Institutes of Health is headquartered.  It seemed like random trivia that I'd get from crosses, but Bethesda *does* actually make me think of hospitals, so I ended up appreciating this one.
  • BOT — 35D: Spam generator.  Nice clue, succinct but decidedly modern. 
Finally, as Donald Faison just showed up on my TV while I was solving this, I've got to close with a shout-out to CARLA (14A: "Scrubs" nurse married to Dr. Turk).  Best wishes to the Turkletons!

Signed, David Harris, King for a Day of CrossWorld

[Follow David Harris on Twitter]
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


puzzlehoarder 12:35 AM  

It seemed harder than the usual Wednesday. I'm not sure if it's really that way or that I struggled to stay awake. Not the puzzles' fault. It's just late

Joaquin 12:45 AM  

For those of us who solve on paper after printing from the NYT site, this was a nightmare as it was one of those that didn't print properly. With the long clues/instructions being the worst of the printing problems, it made the solving a whole lot less pleasant than it should have been.

First world problems! Talk about having it made - this was my biggest problem all day. Now I'm sorry I even mentioned it.

Cory Calhoun 12:47 AM  

99% certain a Sunday puzzle in the Shortz era did this same thing, except the instructions led to the word GOLD arrange in a set of 2x2 squares.

Alex M 1:09 AM  

I LOVED this and thought it was adorable. I had to check if this is International Talk Like a Pirate Day (it's not til September 19th). Kudos to the debut constructor, this was super fun and the solve felt nice and smooth too. Loved it! :)

albatross shell 1:34 AM  

I guess I'm a sucker for pirate treasure. I liked it, despite not having great fill nor aha cluing. So it must have been the theme and puzzling out the directions.

It also solved harder for me than it looks like it should have. I took a half hour break when I was not quite half done, had a drink,came back and things came together fairly quickly. And it was tWo pop names I was blanking on - MRT CLINT - that generated a stream of falling dominos. It did not help that I had ESMa for ESME for unknown reasons.

My favorite NRA clue. Yay.

Phil 1:49 AM  

TEAL is a flyer not really a swimmer except for an ability. Kind of cheap unimaginative for a misdirection clue. Why are the NYT clues mostly dull.

Anonymous 2:00 AM  

Wow, David, nice guest write-up. Intelligent comments with only the minimally necessary amount of snark. If you start your own blog I will happily follow it.

Q: How much did the pirate charge for corn at his fruit stand?


jae 3:03 AM  

Mostly easy. I got hung up with OXy before OXI and an s after DISC instead of I.

Pretty obscure clue for CARLA when you could have gone with Cheers waitress or former first lady of France.

A little something different for a Wed., liked it.

Anonymous 3:35 AM  

Scrubs is obscure? Cheers ended over 25 years ago. People who weren't alive when the show ended have grown up and had kids of their own who are old enough to be in school themselves since the last time there was a new episode of Cheers. Nobody should be cluing Carla from Cheers anymore when there are perfectly good, non-ancient references, like Scrubs.

Justus 3:39 AM  

Now if they’d have waited to publish this until Talk like a Pirate Day on September 19th…

chefwen 3:46 AM  

Puzzle partner did the heavy lifting on this one as I was just not into the pirate thing. I did like the cute scull and crossbones in the top left. Got the whole thing done minus the SE where I had SwIpE at 65A, partner changed it to SEIZE and we were done.

Mixed feelings, will have to sleep on it.

Anonymous 6:34 AM  

@Anonymous 3:35 AM

Yes, but nobody watched Scrubs. Everybody knows Cheers, particularly you.

Lewis 6:43 AM  

Plenty of unburied treasure here, with clues in the grid that have their own clues (and they rhyme!), a fun hunt rather than complicated puzzle cross-references, and, looking at the crosses, imagining a nurse with a TRUNCHEON and a COMMANDO being given a TIME OUT. On top of all that, MR. T just seemed to fit the vibe perfectly.

As one who made an X Marks The Spot puzzle (7/13/17), I love this entertaining take on the genre. You earned the right to some swagger, today, Dan. I'll look forward to more of your clever and light touch!

Dave 6:54 AM  

I did miss Rex/Michael today. I think he would have had a very entertaining rant

kitshef 7:19 AM  

ANI CLINT NRA was a tough row. ANI I know only from Xwords. No idea who this CLINT is, but Cilla Black was hard to shake there. And NRA was just random letters.

Wouldn’t it have been easier to go east seven then south seven? Or just southeast ten?

Just a J short of a pangram.

“Act your age” seems utterly different to me than BEHAVE.

Three dictionaries list only ‘discuses’. One lists both ‘discuses’ and ‘disci’, so I’ll allow it.

pabloinnh 7:25 AM  

I'm with @Joaquin with the printing problem. Not a life changer, but definitely annoying.

Pretty smooth fill, never seen Scrubs, didn't matter. The best thing about this one is that it gives me a chance to say: Stunt Puzzle!

Congrats to DC on your debut, and remember, you can only do something the first time once.

Anonymous 7:27 AM  

DISCodes anyone?

— Jim C. in Maine

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

Thanks for your writeup. I was okay with this one. The last theme answer was not in the same rhythm as the first two, and thus I had trouble in the southeast. I had found the X, but THEN DIG didn’t flow to me. Oh, well.

Joe R. 7:31 AM  

I hated this puzzle, which is a rarity for me, all the more so on a day when I finish well below average time. The themers didn’t really have any way to get them without having a lot of letters. This made the puzzle layout a problem, because the themers were the only exit from the NW corner. So after getting off to a quick start, I had to jump somewhere else and start anew. Annoyed me, and left me with a bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the puzzle.

QuasiMojo 7:38 AM  

Aaargh. Did not know OXI Clean so I put in OXO. Isn't that a brand? I managed to fix it as ONtranet looked odd. But it slowed me down to Friday time. The skull was cute but the instruction phrases seemed excessively clunky. The X payoff didn't jibe with the PRIZE. And wasted opportunity for some MARQUISE diamonds in the trove. Still an impressive debut that needed an editor's hand.

Do any of you have the same problem I have with ounces and pints and tablespoons? I get so confused at the supermarket when trying to figure out if the ounces are referring to volume, weight or whatever. All the yogurts are 5.3 Oz. But they all seem to weigh differently. I miss the days when they were 8 Oz and came in two or three flavors.

Suzie Q 7:42 AM  

Fun puzzle today. I wouldn't go so far as to say cute, not to a pirate's face anyway.
Bonus entries with pet parrot, Oak Island, and Sir Francis Drake made this pretty dense.
Lots of nice non-theme entries and I didn't mind following the directions at all. It was part of the fun and made me feel like a kid for a moment. Enjoy your debut day Mr. Caprera.

Z 7:48 AM  

DISCOPODES or go home. If I can’t apply a Greek plural formation to a “Latin” word while doing a puzzle in English I just don’t know.

You know what would make this better? Anagrams! Speaking of which, trivia night had both city anagrams for the speed round and charcoal as an answer. Serendipity.

Scrubs original run ended 10 years ago, so unusually current by NYTX usual standards. As for its crossworthiness, the My Way Home episode is right there with some M*A*S*H episodes in creative use of the sit com format to be something more. The show didn’t always reach creative heights, but it had its moments of greatness.

Too close to a quote puzzle for my taste, but for what it was it was fine.

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

Theme felt like too much work for too little pay off. Like, you've probably already got that x in the middle by the time you're done the themers. So you follow the instructions, right, down, left, and omg, you're at the only x in the puzzle... cool?! Maybe I'm missing something but this feels super underwhelming.

GILL I. 8:01 AM  

I'm really not into pirates - I was more of a cowboys and Indians girl. Anything with John Wayne and Jay Silverheels was my go to X marks the spot.
So we have a cute little skull followed by TBSP. The only thing I drool over is a handsome man or chocolate mousse. The last time I used a BIB was in Philadelphia. We were eating lobster and the waiter put this thing on me without permission. He was drool worthy, if memory serves, but I did wonder why he hovered over my neck.
COMMANDO was fun. I bet MR T went COMMANDO in Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.
I did what our gracious "King for a Day" host did. I didn't really read the clues. It's not like I didn't have plenty of time on my hands, it's just that I guess I'm impatient at 4 in the morning. I did like that this puzzle seemed more au courant than the usual NYT fare, that was a plus. But then we had the usual scrambled eggs with RAS CIA IRAE EWE HOBO. Speaking of HOBO...some believe the word originated from California and its migrant workers. The farmworkers used a hoe -ergo ho, boy. Neat, huh?
Kudos to Dan for his debut. AXE marks the spot.

Z 8:08 AM  

Although, DISKOPODES would be more accurate...

@kitshef - As someone fairly proficient with a 175 gram flying DISC, my preferred plural is DISCs. However, the Olympic event is DISCus Throwing, which apparently is the Latin spelling of the Greek word DISKOS, so DISCUSES or DISCI I guess. From a purely aesthetic view I prefer DISCI to double S endings, but I can’t say I have ever heard anyone use DISCI.

@Quasimojo - OXO is a kitchen utensil brand and has made puzzle appearances.

@kitshef - The NRA is one of the too many historical examples of SCOTUS justifying anti-American practices, and then real leaders needing to find creative work-arounds. They didn’t actually say “corporations are people, too,” but they might as well have.

mmorgan 8:13 AM  

It was fine, partly amusing, partly annoying, but a worthy debut. Most of it was reasonably pleasant but the NE corner took me a long time, as I had no clue as to CARLA or OLLIE. But thanks to some lucky guess, that L they share became inevitable. Congrats, Dan Caprera!

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

Solving on an old iPad, no cute skull icon showing, just the usual b&w squares. After completion, checking into the critique and commentary, imagine my surprise, yo ho ho! I had been squinting desperately at the finish, trying to see a "skull" array in the grid.

Yours in crossword,

Nancy 8:50 AM  

Lively, colorful, crunchy, imaginative, clever and different. What's not to love about this puzzle?

I wanted to end up on an X. I expected to end up on an X. So why didn't I end up on an X? Beats me. But I've always been geographically challenged, can't read a map, and have no sense of direction. That must be it.

QUAde instead of QUADE (46A) give me fits in the SW. Also had (don't know my blood types) TYPE As before TYPE AB at 33A. This gave me that notorious spam generator at 35D: the SOT.

Corrected all the mistakes but still didn't land on the X. So you'll all get the treasure, not me. Oh, well, not to be too upset; it's only ECASH after all. Had a wonderful time with this one!

Whatsername 8:54 AM  

At first I thought I was going to hate it but then as I actually followed the clues, it started to grow on me. Although following a pirate’s rhymes felt silly at times . . . I ended up the X with nary a vex. Then I expected to come here and read a complete evisceration by Rex who would’ve probably been in need of a TIMEOUT after finishing this one. But it was nice to instead be treated to Mr. Harris’ fair and pleasant commentary. Thank you for taking the time.

Wouldn’t want to do it every day but it was fun and a nice change of pace. Thanks Dan Caprera, nice debut!

Nancy 8:54 AM  

Meant to say "instead of QUAID."

Digger 9:12 AM  


Escalator 9:38 AM  

Rex would have spent 100 words on why he did not like NRA in the puzzle 🙂

Ahoy Matey! 9:46 AM  

Pirates were all fun and games until the Somali pirates started killing innocent people and showed us what real pirates are/were like. I worked on a cruise ship for a time and part of our training included how to fend off pirates. (Spoiler alert: depending on the number, there isn't much you can do since there usually aren't many weapons aboard your average cruise ship. Best you can do is turn the fire hoses on them and hope they give up and go away) Pirates have somehow worked their way into our culture as entertaining figures who did entertainingly dastardly things that we find charming and well...entertaining. They weren't. They were terrible people who killed people and robbed them. Good times. "Arr!"

Count me in the "puzzles shouldn't have homework" crew...but this was hardly a lot of homework. I feel like doing these tasks after a puzzle is like Ralphie in A Christmas Story finally decoding his Little Orphan Annie message. What, it's just a crummy X? Nothing else? That's it? An X. Am I supposed to "dig" something up? The clue says to "start digging." It's anticlimactic at best.

Not gonna lie, it was an...ahem..."entertaining" diversion on a Wednesday to do a puzzle with a more Thursday-like conceit, but it fell flat IMO. And yeah, it's his first puzzle. And yeah, it's a feat of construction to do all of it, blah, blah, blah. But ultimately from a solving standpoint, it was a crummy X with no digging involved...though I was asked to...cue sad trombone. Womp, womp.

I do wonder if, 100 years from now, children will be reading jaunty stories of renegade crack dealers or hilariously portrayed sex traffickers in funny hats and scars on their bodies of their exploits. How they continually run from the law and subvert justice by fighting against crooked and [usually] anal law enforcement.

JC66 9:53 AM  


Hint: The black squares also count as steps/paces.

SomeOneHasToBeMe 9:54 AM  

I really loved it, especially as a relative newcomer to crossword puzzles. Figuring out little pieces of the clue was a lot like solving actual treasure map riddles. For example, once I'd figured PACES and EAST in the first theme clue, I was able to figure out that the center word would probably be a number and then once I got the L from INTEL I could figure out TWELVE.

It was fun kind of like figuring out an actual treasure map

jberg 9:57 AM  

I didn't notice the clue/answer rhymes until coming here, a nice feature! It's still running on the wrong day, though.

TEAL certainly swim, they just don't dive. I did spend a moment wondering if a sEAL could get into a pond (maybe a salt water one), but the crosses saved me.

@Gill, you are at your absolute best today! Laughed out loud at that waiter.

@Nancy, taking a wild guess, I think you counted the skull square in the 12 paces -- you have to start from there and then take 12. That would have you ending up on the A; if you were someplace else, it's beyond me.

I was thrown off by the flex-your-biceps thing -- I was expecting to find something heavy at the end--maybe running down from the X? (No, that give you XI VINES--enough to make some wine, but a strange treasure). Now I see that it was there for the (somewhat strained) rhyme. I'll take it.

Unknown 10:00 AM  

Fun. I liked it a lot. Once I figured out that it's a pirate's map,I kept expecting to see the word Prize or Loot or Coins somewhere under the X. Nevertheless, a fun start to the day.
Also loved @Escalator's comment - I was expecting Rex to have a fit when I filled in NRA.

Missy 10:31 AM  

Hi @ Nancy
Start at skull - 12 (TBSP, BLANK, BIB, BLANK, MOT. SOUTH 7 - RUNCHEO. WEST 5 - H, 2 BLANKS, E and you arrive at the X!

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

If one doesn't actually follow the 'clues' when finished (or before?) and circle the X, can one claim to have finished?

David 10:42 AM  

Easy breezy Wednesday for me. 12 steps takes you to the T, black squares count. One of those steps is over the P which appears only in crossword puzzles and not in cookbooks.

What's Rex got against the National Recovery Act? It was a pretty blatantly unconstitutional law SCOTUS ruled against, but Rex doesn't seem likely to be triggered by it. More likely he'd cheer Dan for coming up with a different clue.

Disci? Icky. And, not to be too nitpicky, the Dies Irae is a chant, not a hymn. Nowadays the kids would probably call it a "song" because everything is a song. Even separate movements of symphonic works are separate "songs". Thanks iTunes metadata.

Nice debut Dan.

Joe Dipinto 10:45 AM  

Like other commenters, my first thought was, it's "Talk Like a Pirate Day"!

I usually like this sort of puzzle, and I didn't exactly dislike this one, but shouldn't PRIZE be situated directly under the X? What's it doing over in the corner? Here, you dig at the X and you unearth I VIEWS, whatever those are.

I liked TRUNCHEON -- I tend to get that word confused with "stanchion". Also liked COMMANDO and BETHESDA. I wasn't at all familiar with OAK Island, but reading a bit about it has piqued my interest. I like the use of clues tangentially related to the theme -- "pirate's parrot", "sawn into planks", "grab, as booty".

All in all, I wouldn't throw this one in the brig. Nice debut.

There's a ship, The Black Freighter
With a skull on its masthead, will be coming in

Blue Stater 10:50 AM  

Dear Lord. A colossal waste of time, and way too hard and cranky for a Wednesday.

What? 10:51 AM  

Nice that it ends at an X but who digs with an axe?

Carola 10:54 AM  

Normally, I pride myself on my map-reading skills, but today I join @Nancy in wandering around in the undergrowth rather than digging at the X. I somehow went astray in the TRUNCHEON segment. and ended up at the I. I also missed the piratical rhymes. Arrrrrhgh! Cute puzzle, fine debut, nice write-up.

RooMonster 11:17 AM  

Hey All !
None of you followed the Map correctly! The result is TO X. EAST TWELVE, T; SOUTH SEVEN, O; WEST FIVE, X. Ergo, START AT THE SKULL, TO X. THEN DIG!

So a way cool puz in me AYEs. Har!

Scrubs! One if the best shows ever in the history of TV. That's right, I said it. It was funny, dramatic, sad, real-life type problems, and the writing team was spectacular. Last season not withstanding... :-)

Had the same printing problems as one, clues cut off on the first column of Acrosses. What I do is write in the Numbers next to where the clues should start, then just try to figure 'em out with the words that are readable. Plus rely on the Downs.

Had writeovers, ArIe-IRAE (again! Same thing last time, c'mon brain, get it right!), IspS-IRAS, growup-BEHAVE, TRaNCHEON-U, anIta-CLINT, NUEVo-NUEVA, splIT-ENDIT. But ended up 100% correct! PRIZE for me!

@QuasAs @Z said, OXO is a kitchen utensils brand. Fun fact, the founders named it that so it would look the same horizontally and vertically.

So a cool puz, nice debut, Dan. Please tell me you submitted at least 5 or 6 puzs before you were accepted. My ego needs at least that!

SEIZE the PRIZE, Matey!

Ethan Taliesin 11:26 AM  

Very nice!

I braced myself for a lot of weirdly spelled pirate talk, but nope. Thought the theme was cohesive and interesting enough.

Fill was mostly lackluster but the cluing was sweet.

I'll bet this could have been a cool meta if it didn't stop with the x--but no complaints.

Average Wednesday time.


Anonymous 11:30 AM  

pretty blatantly unconstitutional law SCOTUS ruled against

Only blatant in the minds of a Right Wing court which presided while the Republicans ran the economy into the ground. If you read up the wiki article -

" "Extraordinary conditions may call for extraordinary remedies. But the argument necessarily stops short of an attempt to justify action which lies outside the sphere of constitutional authority. Extraordinary conditions do not create or enlarge constitutional power." "

IOW, just like Right Wingnuts today who preferred to do nothing in 2009, they were fine with carnage across the country. The rich made out, so all was well.

Here's the Court by appointing president -
Hoover - 3
Taft - 1
Wilson - 2
Harding - 2
Coolidge - 1

jb129 11:32 AM  

I didn;t think Talk like a Pirate month was so soon.

I absolutely hated it. I wish Rex had seen this.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

Nice that it ends at an X but who digs with an axe?

Lots of folks. It's called a pick-axe, so it is an axe, just not a tree felling axe. Or the battle axe I'm married to.

Hartley70 11:36 AM  

Love, love, loved this! It had me at the skull and crossbones. A little whimsy to start the day is welcome. CARLA was my only difficulty because I skip sitcoms but the map directions came quickly. I think this was my fastest Wednesday and that’s due to enthusiasm. It took me a beat to think of following the directions, but what a treat to find the X and an AXE. I can’t imagine enjoying a Wednesday puzzle more.

Newboy 11:44 AM  

AAAAAARRR! All youze insomniac folk get the best one liners & we geriatric generation are left holding the bag for those damn snipe to run into. At least we can be well rested for digging out obscure clues. I too wanted “gold” below that center X, but have to agree that “not too shabby for a constructor's debut” is appropriate. And thanks for the cohesive write up David; like others, I’d missed the rhyme.

Nancy 11:45 AM  

Thanks, everyone. I followed the instructions again -- carefully rather than hurriedly this time -- and ended up on the X, no problem.

I think I know what happened. I had my finger on the MOTO "T" in the top row, but had to lift my arm because it was blocking my view of the next set of grid instructions at 22A. I think my finger slipped to a different square without my noticing it. And as I say I was in a hurry. But had I landed on the X the first time around, my Aha Moment would have been much better -- no question about it.

True Grits 11:46 AM  

So, I dug at the X and all I got was a hole in my paper.

QuasiMojo 11:56 AM  

Thanks @Z for the info and your previous reports. You too Roo! Very Tic Tac Toe. Hey @Joe DiPinto, nice allusion to SCRUBS in the Nina Simone "song."
PS, Somehow I think Rex would have disapproved of the "grabbing the booty" clue. 🥴

relicofthe60s 12:15 PM  

I actually think Rex might have liked having NRA clued as something other than the gun lobby.

Joe Dipinto 12:22 PM  

@Quasi -- oh yeah, I didn't think of that.

You people can watch while I'm scrubbing these floors
And I'm scrubbin' the floors while you're gawking

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Anonymous @ 6:34

Scrubs had 10+ million viewers average per episode for several seasons. Perhaps you just need to get out of your little bubble.

Myuen88 12:27 PM  

Mr. T's hair is from the Mandinka. It is not a mohawk. (19A)

E.Mintz 12:55 PM  

Hi David! I heard of you. Good job blogging! This would have been fun on National Pirate's Day, Sept 19! It's a Thursday this year - would have worked perfectly!

Teedmn 1:11 PM  

I had a bit of trouble with word endings today, OXy before OXI, DISCs before DISCI and NUEVo before NUEVA. Nothing a few crosses couldn't fix. And the clue/grid myopia I seem to suffer from meant I didn't notice the SKULL at first. I delved in and got to the NE. The storied site of buried treasure was a total WOE for me and I threw down TReNCH___ at 10D based on my crosses there and then tried to come up with something other than TReNCH coat. And 16A would be START AT THE S_eLL? The SweLL? SpeLL? Gah, TRUNCHEON and SKULL, you numbSKULL! (And then I started peering at the black squares, looking for a skull shape in the grid, before I finally espied the skull in the corner. Perhaps I was wearing a pirate's eyepatch over both eyes today.)

My misSTEPS make it sound like I found this difficult but it was pretty much Wednesday average and it fell into the "cute" category. So thanks, Dan Caprera and congratulations on the debut.

Masked and Anonymous 1:20 PM  

First things first: Kinda different, which M&A always enjoys.
It did confuse the M&A a bit, as I thought I was somehow supposed to find a treasure, after gettin to the X. Eventually decided the treasure was the 2 crossin weejects, in the center [lil darlins]. Ergo, OXI got the staff weeject pick of the day.

Hard to beat a buncha good MARQUISES and DISCI, fill-wise. And always good to see a WedPuz go COMMANDO, of course.

Skull & crossbones square was a primo start-up. Felt sorry for the Across-Lite folks havin to miss out on that, tho. Brief confusion once again ensued, as M&A was left tryin to parse out/de-anagram JOLLYROGERTBSP.

After that, solvequest set a fast PACE at our house … other than when we briefly STEPped into the OAK/OLLIE/CARLA bog -- but we guessed our way outta there, hollered "Arrrr", and sailed on.

Thanx, and congratz on a secretly-treasured debut, Mr. Caprera.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


GILL I. 1:22 PM  

Yay...@Whatsername got an avatar. Any others? @Quasi? @Suzie Q? @pabloinnh? Bueller?

Hungry Mother 1:27 PM  

A bit slower than average, probably due to my head and chest cold. Exes seem to be the order of the day in he NYT puzzles today. The worst thing about a cold is the dread that it will never go away.

albatross shell 1:28 PM  

I also spent time thinking of sEAL. My justification was the Atlantic is called a pond as in across the pond.

Masked and Anonymous 1:52 PM  

PuzEatinSpouse has corrected m&e … She never was hollerin "Arrrr!", while steppin thru that NW corner. She was actually moanin "C-arrrrr-la!"

While I'm here: Maybe the hidden treasure is actually XI. Since I is under yer X, and since XI is a word (or RRN). Or maybe the treasure is just the I. "I is a treasure." yeah. Like the sound of that ...


TJS 1:55 PM  

12 abbreviations and 15 Proper names. 1 prefix and 1 suffix. I listed them all in a comment around 9:30 AM but apparently it was not deemed acceptable for some reason. Amazingly, I miss Rex.

pabloinnh 2:13 PM  

Hola GILL I--

I used to have an avatar, but I loved it, so I set it free, and that's the last I've seen of it.

Asi es la vida.

Paloma Vita 2:33 PM  

I liked that one and did my average Wednesday solve on it. My only beef is with the Marquises clue, but this is because I am French and a translator/editor. Marquises is the plural of the feminine form... so noblewomen only. Un marquis, une marquise... and the plural of the masculine is the same as the singular.

Anoa Bob 3:36 PM  

Didn't find much of any inherent, stand-alone interest in any of the four grid-spanning themers. That's a lot of grid acreage to give up without much pay off. So this one played more like a restaurant place mat game than a crossword puzzle for me.

I think P.T. Barnum would give an approving nod to "The Curse of OAK (9D) Island". How many more years can they milk that one? And now there's a Curse of Civil War Gold and another one set in the Philippines about the Curse of WWII Gold.

I've heard the "sound from a punctured tire" (67A) before and SSS doesn't even come close. You would need a lot more of those Ss and in much bigger font. Of the 161 appearances of SSS during the Shortz era, "Draft org." is the most frequently used clue (33 times) and many others are just variations on that theme, e.g. "Conscription org.". And lots of "Snake warning"s.

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

There was no Skull & Crossbones icon in my version of the puzzle (online, via my iPad Mini), which made for a difficult solve. Other than that, I liked it.

Anonymous 5:26 PM  

Several days in a row I've ended up with a decent time despite getting caught up in one corner, today, the NE.

Today it was my bad - I confidently wrote billie club for 10 down - officer's baton. Whoops. (Yeah, it's Billy club, or alternatively truncheon, the latter not a word I knew.) Never heard of 9d Oak Island. No idea 14a Scrubs nurse Carla. Considered MCS initially for 8d Roast VIPS, but the "Roast" part threw me off. Why are MCS VIPs of roasts, specifically, any more than MCS are VIPs of say, an awards show? I guess MCS play more of a role at roasts because they're doing the actual roasting? I couldn't get past the mental block of thinking the VIP at a roast had to do with the roastee.

No idea 8a Mr. Moto.

Alps also seemed way too obvious for Swiss range 15d. You almost don't need "range." Had it been clued Swiss ______, I would have immediately inserted Alps no hesitation. And yes, the "Jura" is also a Swiss mountain range, so there was another plausible answer.

All that spelled absolutely disaster for the NE although I still ended up with a slightly below average Wednesday time.

The theme was a bit heavy on pirates and I'm not particularly into pirates, but the puzzle overall was quirky. Around a 6 for me on the enjoyment scale; I'll take it.

Unknown 5:31 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sam Buggeln 5:45 PM  

Opposite Day over here!

Sam.Malone 6:00 PM  

Scrubs was on for 9 seasons. The 1st 3 averaged over 10M viewers, but the last 6 never broke 7M and the final season averaged less than 4M. It never made the Nielsen top ten.

Cheers was on for 11 seasons and was in the Nielsen top 5 for 7 of the last 8. The series finale had more total viewers than the M*A*S*H finale.

Doug 6:23 PM  

Oxi and axe intersect at X marks the spot, dead center .

Anonymous 7:20 PM  

If memory serves, TRUNCHEON is more Brit than American... let's see

Learn to pronounce
noun British
noun: truncheon; plural noun: truncheons

a short, thick stick carried as a weapon by a police officer.
synonyms: club, baton, cudgel, bludgeon

Heard mostly by me, in old Brit movies.

Anonymous 7:39 PM  

I too thought it was a shame that finally they clue NRA with something not based on the National Rifle Association, and Rex isn't here to see it.

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

I saw what it was getting at, but still hated it.

If you 'face the dawn' you're ALREADY facing EAST, so I filled that as WALK TWELVE PACES.

Someone enlighten me: is it a crossword-solving rule that you ALWAYS count the black squares if you have to count? Because I've never counted the black squares, and found it tooth-grindingly annoying.

ghostoflectricity 8:05 PM  

Wonder if I'm the only one who had CILLA Black before Clint Black (after getting the "c"). Cilla Black (1943-2015) was a British pop singer of the '60s and '70s, a friend and contemporary of The Beatles, who had a number of hits in the UK (but no big hits in the States).

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

I'm the only one who had CILLA Black before Clint Black (after getting the "c"). Cilla Black (1943-2015) was a British pop singer of the '60s and '70s

Did she carry a truncheon?

Cassieopia 8:32 PM  

Count me a fan! Pirates, TRUNCHEON (which I filled with only MOTO and INTRANET to help me, thank you very much), four grid spanners, and a treasure map at the end! I'm a fan of cornball, novelty, and cute, so finding that X marked the spot was a true treasure - er, pleasure. This puzzle fit my SKULL, with INTRANET, OLLIE, DELVES, BOT...a near record Wednesday. And did the map directions remind anyone else of Myst or The Room? A simple puzzle embedded in a relatively more difficult one, but yielding the same sweet feeling of tromping side by side with someone else's brain and connecting with their thought processes.

What a fantastic debut. Creative, whimsical, unusual, and clean. I hope to see more from this constructor in the future - congratulations, Dan Caprera!

KevCo 8:36 PM  

The theme would have been okay if the payoff was better. I was hoping there would be some form of buried treasure, whether it was just the word "gold" or maybe an answer that has the word "treasure" buried in it -- either by anagram or maybe a two-word answer that has the word "treasure" in the middle. Then I go to the X. Oh.

Pete D. 10:12 PM  

Only knew truncheon from a Libertines lyric : Did you see the stylish kids in the riot?
Shoveled up like muck and set the night on fire
Wombles bleed, truncheons and shields
You know I cherish you, my love

Anonymous 3:43 AM  

London calling, see we ain't got no swing
'Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

"Institutes is" ?

iamjess 4:28 PM  

YAR! This should have been published on Talk Like a Pirate Day--missed opportunity!

williamoliver172 4:54 AM  

Surprising background experienced in everything sentence of this article. I made a decent attempt to get hint about how I could demonstrate substance of this blog. I must say, not much powerful but rather I surrendered every one of my weapons soon after understanding it. Double-End Bag

spacecraft 11:30 AM  

Is there really a Talk Like a Pirate Day?? Who knew? Well, the SKULL is...cute, and the treasure hunt is...cute, culminating in the central X: uh, cute. But oh my, the price to PAY! Let's just say, when you lead off with TBSP, you're kinda leading with your chin. And the fill seldom gets better. MCS--no, I won't list 'em all. This should've been sent back for cleanup.

To D.C.: Keep your day job. Bogey--and that's kind.

rainforest 3:22 PM  

Like @M&A, I appreciate attempts at creativity in the puzzle, and this one came with rhyming couplets in the theme cluing, to boot. I guess the X is the revealer, but after digging, the only thing revealed was the page underneath the page the puzzle was printed on, in my newspaper. Har.

Something you might, or might not, probably won't, keep in the back of your mind (what exactly is the "back of the mind", btw?): the IUPAC name for "acetylene" is actually "propyne". Watch for this, kiddies.

I rarely "do the homework" in crossword puzzles, like connecting dots, eg, but I did follow the directions in the clues today, and by golly, they worked. Extra triumph points there.

I join with those who liked this puzzle.

leftcoast 3:43 PM  

Getting the theme clues was not too hard, but following them was just no fun.

The "instructions" were an interesting idea, but more confusing than helpful in finding the right path to the X and the PRIZE and finishing the puzzle. The fill was mostly okay, but raised doubts about a couple of clues/answers. The long downs in the NE and SW were bonuses.

Overall, got most of it, but didn't find it worthwhile to plow on to the end. DNF.

Diana, LIW 4:43 PM  

I liked it because: 1) I was going along swimmingly when, 2) I got stuck and then, 3) a few answers came, so 4) I took a walk and 5) I finished. After changing an error or two.

And @Rondo won't have to say "What in TARnation are you talking about!? ARRR!"

And there is "Talk like a Pirate" day - I taught at a school where they were the mascots. Arrr.

Hey @Mondegreen - thanks for the shout out the other day, and for your name, which is a new word for me. Yes, I get the SR paper.

Diana, Still Waiting for the Doc to Call Back Arrrrrrrrrrrr

Burma Shave 12:56 PM  


THE zombies’ TIMEOUT was EERIE, nut dull –
a SHEARed and SAWN luncheon.
they’d AXEd with a TRUNCHEON.


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