Thursday, August 1, 2019

Constructor: Patrick Merrell

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium - below my average, but I was trying *very* hard

THEME: Alphabetical — Theme clues were just lists of letters that appeared (in order, but not necessarily consecutively) in the answers, with no other context or hint given.

Theme answers:
  • PURVIEW (55A: UVW)
Word of the Day: ANITA (33A: Who sings "America" in "West Side Story") —
Rita Moreno won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita in the 1961 movie version of West Side Story. She would go on to be the third person to win the EGOT, and is still tearing it up at 87 years old.

• • •
Hi, I'm George. I'm a professional technical writer and amateur trivia competitor / podcaster who has absolutely no idea how I got this gig, but onward!

My style is Chaotic Good -- difficult to describe, but generally (eventually) effective. I tend to look at 1A and 1D first and then proceed from there based on which one I get. SHOE (1A: Card holder at a casino) and SPAM (1D: Food invention of 1937) came quickly enough, and I bounced around the top a little, getting WILCO (18A: "Got it, I'm on it," in radio lingo) and ALLAH (11D: Figure also called "the Creator," "the King" and "the All-Seer") and HOWIE (13D: TV host Mandel) to have the northeast quadrant filled in soon enough.

Then I caught the theme, with AB_CO____ (17A: ABCD) making it apparent that the clued letters would be in the answer, and probably in order (I didn't think "ABDCO____" would be a thing). I had thought of ORSO (3D: Qualifying phrase) but wasn't confident enough, even with O__O there, but plugging it in gave me ABSCO____, which led me right to ABSCONDED.

Having JOHN (26D: Doe, a Deere?) and UKES (27D: Some of them come in "pineapple" and "soprano" varieties, informally) (a guess, but one that made sense) and SKYS (23D: "The ___ the limit") and FOGUP (15D: What bathroom mirrors may do) (I still don't know why that popped right into my head) led to JUNKPILE (26A: JKL). That let me cross a few more to get to HEISMANTROPHIES (38A: MNOP), which I rolled my eyes at -- every time I've heard someone speak of multiples of the award given to the most outstanding college football player by the Downtown Athletic Club, they speak of "Heismans". But that broke open most of the puzzle, so I'll let it go.
Heritage Hall Lobby
Oh dang look at all those HEISMANTROPHIES.
Fight on.
SPASM (49D: Uncontrolled jerk) and ERROL (51D: Flynn of "Captain Blood") and ANIME (40D: Cartoon genre) left P_R__E_ (55A: UVW) with not much wiggle room to plug in the theme letters, so PURVIEW was quick enough, and 46A: QRST more or less had to be SQUAREST, even without any crosses.

I messed myself up a little because I always (twice this week alone) mess up which seasons are in Daylight Time and which are in Standard Time. In my defense, the U.S. currently spends longer in Daylight Time, and that doesn't make sense. So I had MDT (52A: Winter Wyoming hrs.), and therefore had DW_R_ (53D: Symbol of power), so I naturally thought it was DWARF.

tom hiddleston loki GIF

That threw me off of the crosses, and I spent way too long running through possible Irish names before giving up on 57D: Douglas ___, first president of Ireland. Eventually, I rethought my Daylight/Standard prejudice and realized that it was 52A was MST, and that the 53D would have to be SWORD.
Animated GIF

From there, my Scrabble-brain saw OX__E___Z_ and summoned up OXYGENIZE (62A: XYZ).

I went back up to the northeast to finish up AFGHANI (21A: FGHI), which I will note for the record is the money of Afghanistan, while a person from Afghanistan is typically called an "Afghan".

The dross fill at the end was limited to CEN (58A: Long life: Abbr.) and NEED (60D: Kitchen, for a chef). Neither of those really sang to me, especially when all I had left was the cross between them to finish that corner.

But the wasted seconds at the very end were my own fault: I read "Accepted" as a verb, even after I had U_AGES right in front of me, and "Temperature test, of a sort" just didn't land, even with _IP. so I stared at that and rolled through the alphabet for a bit until S fell into place.

I liked this one. The fill was good, with nothing that was too egregious or overly crosswordy. The theme really fell into place, especially with good crossing words. It took me 8:02, slightly closer to my best (5:28) than my average.(11:44). Thursday is a weird point in my week (as I put it to Rex when he scheduled me, "I swear more at the Thursday puzzles."), but this one was mostly smooth for me.

  • INDIA (43A: Powerhouse in cricket) — I work at a software company, and I have a lot of coworkers of Indian descent. Every time there's a big cricket match, we get an all-hands email reminding everyone not to stream the match at their desk because it overloads the network. I'll give you one guess whether that works.
  • PUPPY (50D: Small part of a pound?) and MYLES (67A: Standish on the Mayflower) — I didn't remember that it wasn't "MILES", so I had PUPPI for a second there before I got the joke.
  • XII (63D: Common clock topper) — Second time in three days, and I don't remember the last time it was used before that. Seems odd. But I like this clue more than "Midnight, on a grandfather clock".
Signed, George Stankow

My other puzzling/quizzing passion is LearnedLeague, the Greatest Trivia League In All the Land. I co-host an extremely lo-fi podcast about it, available on Apple Podcasts and other platforms. If you'd like to hear a couple of A/B rundlers discuss each day's questions, search for "LearnedLag".

[Follow George on Twitter or on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:05 AM  

I do the NYT puzzle for fun and knowledge. I never race the clock, just taking whatever time necessary to enjoy the solving. And frequently I learn a new word or fact, something else I enjoy. But today offered me neither - not the usual Thursday “extra something” and no new words or facts.

And if Rex were blogging I’d have contacted his local cardiac unit to prepare a bed for him.

Brian 12:25 AM  

Nice pangram

GHarris 12:36 AM  

Had a notion of what the theme might entail but didn't fully comprehend it. Still, I worked it all out by using crosses and intuition.

Anonymous 12:46 AM  

If scrabble f***ing were a theme, I guess. Was there something that tied the themers together somehow? Or is that really all there is to this thing? They couldn't even be bothered to ensure the letters were always in the right order since ABSCONDED has a D both before and after the E. At least make sure the letters are strictly ordered if you're going to do this so all Ds come before Es, and so on.

Anonymous 12:47 AM  

I enjoyed this write-up so much more than the puzzle itself. I had as much excitement solving this as when I see THING for a Wheel of Fortune category. Bleh.

jae 12:51 AM  

Medium. Odd puzzle, liked it.

JOHN X 1:08 AM  

I finished this in under ten minutes and I don't know how. I had no idea what those themers were about, until about half-way through I figured they were letters in in the answers, in that order, but with no pattern. I even filled in a few letters based on the clues at this point. And then I was done, nine minutes and thirty eight seconds after I started.

It was okay I guess. Not very tricky (obviously) but okay.

John Hoffman 1:28 AM  

Two puzzles in a row that I really enjoyed! I would call this easy, for a Thursday.
Sensation = SMASH took me some time to understand. I had to think of theater reviews.

Teelo 1:42 AM  

How is SHOE a card holder at a casino? What am I missing? Is it a casino-specific term? I feel like a dunce for not getting this.

RAD2626 1:47 AM  

Puzzle was fine, albeit not overly exciting. Very few aha moments, but some good fill given the constraints. My only real issue is the "S" appearing twice in the same answer, SQUAREST, the first being out of order. Q is hard, but the stray S was jarring. A little pathetic I would care that much but there you are.

Loren Muse Smith 2:47 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 2:55 AM  

Thanks, George – Rex has lined up some terrific subs for his current vacation. Hope he calls on you again.

Yay! A Patrick Merrell Thursday! Not too sneaky sneaky, but man, I struggled to finish. My first themer was AFGHANI, and because I think Patrick is beyond smart and clever, I thought that each themer would be a nationality person with the consecutive letters, like, say, Colombian, Mexicano, Mozambican… And then I thought he’d draw a little cartoon picture of each one and add a Schrödinger element and unchecked letters that spell “Happy August 1st” and then instructions on how to origamify it into the shape of a Syracuse Orangeman. Yes. He’s that clever.

“Artist’s collection” – PORTFOLIO. Patrick is an accomplished artist.

He also has sprachgefühl out the wazoo. Even though this trick involves spelling, I’ll take it any day over an anagram theme. No idea why. Maybe ‘cause the alphabet’s order is a fixed thing? That facetiously has all all the vowel (letters) in order just thrills me. (English has way more than just five vowel sounds, so the vowel letters and their order are arbitrary, imo.) I have this thing I show my freshmen that always gets their attention once they see it. It’s my list, but I totally stole the idea from David Steinberg (Feb 18, 2014):

Alex Rodriguez
beer belly
chicken pox
drinking straw
Elkins, WV
fitness guru
gravy boat
hall pass
index finger
John Q
kerosene lamp
Lake Ontario
microwave oven

I enjoyed the highly alliterative cluing, especially the clue for JOHN. Gave me goosebumps, honestly.

“Uncontrolled jerk(s), they might squeak by” – high school boys with sneakers who know how to use’em. Jeez Louise, that noise goes straight to my spinal cord.

“Steel” before SWORD and “Hart” before HARP. Hah. Patrick as also an accomplished harpist just kidding. (Oar maybe it’s true?)

Gil 2:56 AM  

Really sorry I didn’t get any Rex on this one. It would have been fun.

KJ 3:03 AM  

It’s the box in front of the dealer that holds the cards. Not sure why it’s called a ‘shoe’ though.

Rev. Dr. Gary Johnson 3:13 AM  

@Teelo 1:42 AM

In casino card games, the dealer (usually) doesn't hold the deck in his/her hands; instead, the deck is placed in a device on the table called a "shoe" which only allows the dealer to slide out the top card from the deck and then distribute each to the players. This prevents crooked dealers from "bottom dealing" and other card sharp tricks that an expert card cheat can perform without you ever seeing it.

Phil 3:14 AM  

you have to remove the letters
so we have an excerpt


I think it is from the scottish version of Ali Baba and 36 Thieves

Anonymous 5:20 AM  

I really wanted 14A to be PORNFOLIO - is that a word, and if not, why not?

fkdiver 5:37 AM  

Oh goody, another meaningless pangram. Spare me.

Anonymous 6:13 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith 2:55 AM

Can you please explain your list that begins with "Alex Rodriguez"?

I have no idea what this is supposed to be.

Lewis 6:20 AM  
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ncmathsadist 6:30 AM  

Ir'a OXYGENATE; OXYGENIZE is a made-up word.

Lewis 6:31 AM  

@phil -- Priceless!

Patrick Merrell is very good at creating clues that make me pass the first time around, which creates some grit, and thus I enjoyed the solve. After a letter or two is filled in the answer after that first pass, the clue suddenly makes perfect sense -- very satisfying.

This is our second Alphabet Ladder this year, the first coming in March by young Daniel Larsen.

Two thoughts re consecutive answers in this puzzle:
1. Can a person look at the first two words of row 4 and not think of climate change?
2. First I saw the clue for SPASM -- [Uncontrolled jerk] -- and then there was his middle name right above, at 26D.

amyyanni 6:37 AM  

The OLDS?? (6 down) Something about this one felt a bit off. Admittedly circled around in a fog until ANITA gave me a toehold. Rabbit Rabbit.

Anonymous 6:47 AM  

As an anesthesiologist, I use the word oxygenate all day long, and sometimes all night. I have never used or heard of oxygenize.

albatross shell 6:47 AM  

Essentially solving the theme answers seemed similar to yesterday: finding random words. Random words with a few letters in the right order today and random directions to a treasure yesterday. We had Captain Blood as a faint echo.

Less fun finding them today but more fun in the clues. ALI PUPPY SPOCK BONAMI my faves for clues. I thought there were more, hmmm. Well, we did have Muller's favorite word.

Top third went quickly. Bottom third less so. And middle third, slowest, working center out in both directions.

I feel the equivalence of OKAY and tolerable tolerable but a smidgen less than OKAY. My guess is the dictionary may not agree with me.

Taffy-Kun 7:00 AM  
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Seth 7:23 AM  

Here's how I remember when DST is: I imagine that, in summer when there's lots of daylight, you're "saving it up" so you can use it in the winter. I know that's not at all what's happening, obviously, but I've never forgotten which is which!

Taffy-Kun 7:23 AM  

Many people will never read this post because they do as I often do, and bail once they have read Loren Smith. But 2:55AM, Loren?

pabloinnh 7:35 AM  

PORTRAITS is a fine word and it fits, but it will certainly slow you down. Otherwise smooth sailing, as I caught on early with AFGHANI. AGLOW shows up in "The Rising of the Moon" (and his eyes were all aglow...), so less objectionable to me than some of the A words (atilt, aslope) that have a habit of showing up.

Have to say that I can't be the only person who confidently wrote in TRUMP for "Uncontrolled jerk". It fit, and it's a flawless description.

Thanks for the fun, PM, even if this played a little easy for a Thursday.

kitshef 7:43 AM  

Ugh. I have a little system where I mark answers or clues that I like with a little 'plus' sign. A good day might have a dozen. A bad day might have three. Today had one (PUPPY).

That more than offset by the minuses - OLDS, UKES, NSF, CEN, FEDTO, MIL, ILKS.

SWAG should have appeared in yesterday's puzzle.

OXYGENate dates back to 1788. OXYGENIZE dates back to 1800. So, I guess if you're not a fan of newfangled terms...

kitshef 7:47 AM  

In England, the "s" in BST stands for summer. I just pretend that's true in the US and never forget which is MST or MDT. S = summer.

@Anon 6:13. Going down the list, each word begins with a consecutive letter of the alphabet (A, B, C, etc.) and each word ends with a consecutive letter of the alphabet (Z, Y, X etc.)

Twangster 7:51 AM  

Finished with one letter wrong, which turned out to be MONAMI and MOLT instead of BONAMI and BOLT.

QuasiMojo 7:55 AM  

Easy? Jeez Louise. To each his own. Haha. First of all I put in SLOT instead of SHOE because I thought some of them have face cards in them, no? Then I wrestled with a LOBO as some kind of truck name, ruling the asphalt. YAWEH seemed liked a good answer to the religious clue. I also put ISR for the place Calgary is. Or was. Car mirrors might FOG UP but bathroom mirrors STEAM up. So did I! Thank God for EZRA Pound, although I'm sure Rex would have had PC issues with his inclusion. He was my toe-hold. So easy? Nope. But perseverance carried the day and I whipped this baby into shape, with one tiny cheat. Fun puzzle although I had expected Uncle Rebus to rear his head. Too bad QUERELLE didn't fit for B(r)est Friend. :-)

Hungry Mother 8:14 AM  

I must be feeling better, because I handled this one a bit faster than normal. I’m not sure that I got the theme other than the cap letters appear in alphabetical order. I love struggling with words rather than trivia.

Brian 8:18 AM  

Read down first letters then read up last letters for the alphabet.

Brian 8:20 AM  

In both grid and clues

Nancy 8:38 AM  

A puzzle that made me bubble over with "Whys". Why did ABCDE=ABSCONDED? Why did FGHI=AFGHANI? Why did NMOP=HEISMAN TROPHIES? And so forth. Why, why, why, why, why?????

If ever a puzzle needed a revealer, this was that puzzle. And now I finally know why there wasn't one. Because there was nothing to reveal. Look, I tried crossing out the clue letters to see what remained and what I got was gibberish. Some letters of the answers were in their respective clues and some weren't. The clues -- running the entire alphabet in order -- made perfect logical sense. But the answers made no sense at all. And when you're solving, the answers have to make sense, too, or you get Very Frustrated.

I got Very Frustrated. But I did solve the thing and it did take all my little gray cells and it did completely hold my attention. So there's that. I actually enjoyed it in a masochistic sort of way, but I don't for a moment think that it was either Fair or Logical.

Dr. Haber 8:39 AM  

Sadly just couldn’t remember the stupid card holder. Kept trying slot which made no sense. Guess I don’t spend enough time in casinos. 😔

Mr. Cheese 8:47 AM  

I’m slow(ER) today. I don’t get the list in Lauren’s post. Can someone pls explain?

Joe Dipinto 8:55 AM  

I was pleasantly surprised to see Patrick Merrell's name -- it's been awhile. But this, well, this wasn't much fun to solve. I got the SPOCK PUPPY corner first which gave me PURVIEW. After that I was just kind of marking time to finish. The enjoyment quotient was fulfilled by my figuring out AFGHANI, SQUAREST, and ABSCONDED with no crosses in place.

OXYGENIZE is another word for "oxygenate", apparently. Seems to me the puzzles have been heavy on infrequently used variants lately.

Say aah
Say aah
Say ahh

Nancy 9:06 AM  

@Phil (3:14 a.m.) has not only ferreted out all the gibberish of the remaining letters in all of the answers that I alluded to but couldn't be bothered to ferret out myself; he has actually turned them into a very amusing, if gibberishy, Scottish sentence. Well done, @Phil! You've provided the high point of my puzzle morning.

Another hand up for PORTraits before PORTFOLIO. It made a really hard puzzle much, much harder.

You all know how I hate car clues, right? Well, in the case of 6D, I would have preferred one. The ageism of a cringe-making phrase like "the OLDS", along with the awful "Geezers" that clues it, sets my teeth on end. Watch out that you don't become one, Patrick, and a lot sooner than you think. If you're lucky, that is.

Z 9:06 AM  

I’m so glad that we have entered the Sesame Street era of themes.

@Kitshef - Or just do a Uey at the bottom of the list and then go up its backside. (FWIW - my iPad doesn’t like “uey” anymore than any of us puzzle solvers).

An 8 deck wooden blackjack SHOE.

Z 9:10 AM  

To be fair, all words are made up. OXYGENIZE does have that sweet scent of desperation, though.

@Joe DiPinto - SPOCK PUPPY! Nice catch, wish I had seen it first.

TJS 9:12 AM  

IMO, another totally blah puzzle providing no serious resistance and no "wow" moments. This week has been a complete letdown for me, guest commenters included, although they certainly weren't given much to work with. I guess I miss OFL savaging these wrecks so I could get some entertainment. Maybe it's me because I'm not even enjoying @LMS this week and I have always enjoyed her perspective on things. Thank God for the archive.

GILL I. 9:27 AM  

So, Patrick Merrell is considered the creme de la creme constructor in crossword world. I like creme especially if it has some fraiche in it. This one missed the butterfat. @Phil 3:14 at least gave me the bacterial culture it needed.
Where to begin....@Quasi (who needs an avatar) kinda said it for me. SHOE BOLT SMASH? Was happened to mON AMI? MOO GAS? Do you know that cow farts are the climate villains of this planet when it comes to methane? Well, now you do.
I decided I really liked Patrick when I discovered he could draw some fantastic stuff. I'm afraid this was in the JUNK PILE. Sorry....Of MICE and Men and all that.
My favorite were VETS and PUPPY.
Be there or be SQUAREST. Oh, God..did I really say that?

mmorgan 9:38 AM  

I dunno....

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

My wife and I are both 55. Our 24 year old son often calls us “the olds.” We think it’s funny and don’t get the least bit offended and it will be more apt as we get older. Why get offended? I wouldn’t be offended if he called me a geezer either (and he probably has).

Sir Hillary 9:42 AM  

Yeeeaaaahhhhh, not so much this puzzle for me. Way too basic for an NYT Thursday. Great call by @LMS hoping for a unifying theme (nationalities or otherwise). Fantastic job by @Phil -- hilarious.

This will appeal to almost no one here, but...I will watch just about any sport, and I learned a bit about cricket during my time living in the UK. I followed the recent World Cup, mostly by watching highlights of matches on Willow (they distill a full-day match into an hour of highlights). I happened to watch much of the final match between England and New Zealand, and I have to say it ranks up with the most intense and wacky sporting contests I have ever seen. It was amazing.

Veloso 9:56 AM  

I'm surprised how varied the reactions were to this puzzle. It's really unfortunate we don't get a Rex writeup.

Pangrams are fun... for the constructor. It's a way to show off, but it adds nothing to the solving experience. You only notice it while solving when you run into the inevitable forced bad fill with rare letters (hi XII!).

So the entire theme of this puzzle is the pangram? There's nothing more? This is the Thursday, a construction stunt? I'm glad some of you genuinely enjoyed it, because to me this felt really flimsy.

pmdm 10:10 AM  

I try very hard not to cave in to anal reactions to crossword puzzles. So why does it bother me so much that "theme" letters do appear more than once in the theme clues (and the D and E in improper order)?

That said, I still liked the puzzle. Probably more so than usual. Go figure.

I also thank Phil for the humorous comment.

RooMonster 10:23 AM  

Hey All !
No one's asked the obvious question. What is NSF (42A)? No Such Funds? Not Safe For deposit?

Enjoyed this puz. Sure, not really a "theme" theme, but still pretty cool o find seven words with the letters of the alphabet in order.

Surprised at the choice of not adding a black square below the 5th square one. Seems it would've made filling a bit easier with the second row from top and bottom split into two words. But Patrick did a nice job to get clean fill.

XII again, funny how answers repeat so quickly, then you don't hear from them again in several years.

The OLDS was pretty groany. But puz as a whole was not a LOAD of SlOCK.


Tyler 10:24 AM  

Would some LL member here invite me please? Thanks!

David 10:39 AM  

My wife and I are in our early 60s. We call our elders "the owed folks," which is much better, and truer, than "the olds" any day of the week. The Olds was an automobile my father owned.

I'm with others on 49D; I didn't actually write it in but it was the first thought I had.

I guess this is one of those puzzles that works well for we who ignore themes, but I second the nit about 46A starting with an S. I suppose 'queerest" might have raised hackles as well as totally messed up the construction. How about "Acquires T."? But really, after absconded I saw what was going on and just shrugged my shoulders and moved on.

Top third, middle third, bottom third, in that order; quite a bit quicker than a normal Thursday for me. But in the middle I spent far to much time trying to figure out what the heck "He is man trophies" meant. I did finally remember that in a few seconds, but it seemed much longer.

According to Wiki, the dealer's shoe was introduced to the industry by a "gaming adviser" who had just happened to have invented it. [well, the actually say "gaming advisor"]

QuasiMojo 10:41 AM  

@GIll, I'm working on the blue avatar thing. You need gmail for it, right? But were you thinking maybe of Patrick Berry?

Ethan Taliesin 10:55 AM  

A theme that engages as you solve. Unless there's some meta after you finish, that's all I ask for.

Good enough Thursday.

Only snag was having IBS for GAS at first (or should that have really been IBD?).

---okay, just checked and IBD and IBS are similar but different conditions----

Anyway, that set me back a little but I was still on the happy side of average.

Granny Smith 11:07 AM  

I never care about solving speed - if anything, I like to take my time and savor a good puzzle.
This was not a good puzzle. It was just nothing. A Friday themeless is great, and I always look forward to a clever Thursday. This was neither. I almost always think Rex is too harsh, but today I was hoping for either some explanation of why the theme is actually so much more than it seems, or the bashing this Thursday deserves.

Carola 11:08 AM  

Hard for me: themewise I had no idea of what was going on. Okay, the clue letters were there in order in the answers, but why those particular words? Why the occasional out-of-order letter? Bright spots: PUPPY (not the Pence I'd assumed) and JOHN. Do-over: lyre before HARP.

jberg 11:14 AM  

@Roo, "not sufficient funds," or maybe iNSufficient Funds -- a stamp you want to avoid.

@anon 6:13 -- of course you don't mind it, you're not old! Wait 20 years and try again.

I saw the theme early on, since the answer for ABCDE starts with AB -- and saw that repeated letters were ok. But I had PORTraits, even though it didn't really make sense, to the top-center was tough.

I think 6D refers to the fact that our old friend the Alero is sometimes known as "the geezer," on account of not haveing been made for 15 years now.

@Lewis, you must not have looked at Loren's avatar -- she beat you to it on MOO GAS. (Or maybe she was still being moderated when you posted.)

@Gill, you're getting better every day! Keep it up, please!

CDilly52 11:25 AM  

@LMS: supercool alphabet trick list!

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Major fail - repeated letters in the alphabet sequence: Absconded (ABCDD) and SQuaReST (SQRST), latter is the worst.

CDilly52 11:31 AM  

@Lewis: HAHAHAHA to both items 1 and 2!
Especially #1.

Newboy 11:43 AM  

Always glad to see certain names before Will’s & PM is almost as entertaining as that other Patrick B fella. I liked it better than most above, but I am a certified OLD(ie), so my tolerance is much more developed than a PUPPY’s (like think REX?) whose diatribe on this alphabetical tryst would have been worth a giggle. Southwest corner was gimmes leading to PURVIEW, a preview of other character strings — a great aid in picking IRAQ over IRAn that always gives me a headache. Read Gilgamesh, but as a Geezer.....geez, indeed. And thanks George for the thorough assessment of Merrell’s mania.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

well, dIP before SIP. one can SIP a mint julep or a neat shot of single malt, fur instance, and not care a whit about ice or lack thereof. OTOH, dIPping a toe in the water is explicitly about taking the temperature. both for real and metaphorically.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Put me in the liked-it camp, although to be fair I don't ask nearly as much as RP and some others from my diversion.

IMHO the pangram aspect was not the main feature of the puzzle, but ancillary to the alphabetical-order clues, which by being in all the answers as the first appearance of each clue letter (@pndm - first D is before the E), naturally also resulted in a pangram.

Some tricky late-week cluing added a little spice - loved the Doe/Deere clue e.g. Mirror clue led me astray with Focus for a bit, and initially thought with the J__K, that 26A would be JACKsomething.


What? 12:03 PM  

This is the genius of the puzzle. With no reveal and nothing to reveal, still solvable by you, me, and many others. I still don’t know how I did it, something about how the mind fills in blanks in some mysterious way.

Fred Romagnolo 12:15 PM  

Didn't we have the HYDE Amendment recently? Maybe another (not NYT) puzzle. I'm with Pablo on hating he "a" words. 44A is usually clued as "Book after John. 67A dates from a time before English spelling became standardized (standardated?) 68A is usually "Word before 'irae'." No comment about SPAM and SPASM? Do VETS march in May because of May 8th? I'm told the Brits pronounce SCONE as if it were spelled"SCahN;" and the Scots,"SCooNE.

jb129 12:28 PM  

I didn't like the puzzles today or yesterday. Hope to ace tomorrow's - or at least enjoy it.

Ciclista21 12:36 PM  

I think it was James Bond who taught me that SHOE is the name of the device holding the cards in casino games like Chemin de Fer. Here, Bond (Sean Connery) deals from one in a scene from “Dr. No”:

Wundrin' 12:50 PM  

Am I the only one who skips @LMS? Probably.

oldactor 12:59 PM  

I slapped BOOT in 1A immediately. WRONG but in the ball park. Spam to the rescue.

Not only does the shoe prevent bottom dealing, it discourages card-counters by holding multiple decks.

Teedmn 1:23 PM  

Har, I made a bet with myself that @LMS's avatar would have something to do with an "uncontrolled jerk". Nope, the prize goes to @Lewis, funny!

I found this tough - I finally realized that with all of that unclued LAND in the puzzle, I shouldn't be surprised. In fact, I'm only surprised at how easy some of you found this. Vague clues like "Passes" for DIES and "Green one" for NAIF (I had leaF there first) prevented a smooth solve.

My first entry was at 20A, where the stomach problem was "flu". This led me to wonder if the Thursday trick would be a FOG UP at 15D with a Runty-style FOG going UP. I worked my way out of that one.

And I threw in "roger" in place of WILCO in the NE. This gave me _g___ for 11D and I have to admit, "agent" went through my head as a Creator or King (All-Seer didn't really work :-).

As 38A filled in slowly from the left, I was definitely parsing it as HE IS M___. He is my BON AMI? That finally atrophied due to more crosses.

And of course, the Calgary is in ALB error at 64D.

Patrick Merrell, this seems like a simple idea but it worked for me as a tough Thursday, so thanks.

Masked and Anonymous 1:40 PM  

Excellent litter of clues, in this PUPPY. Theme was pretty good … but did end up havin to be OXYGENIZEd, at the end, to keep it viable.

Most of the answers were in our PURVIEW (yo, @Muellermeister). 7 themers can often lead to some nice desperation in the rest of the puzfill -- this puz seemed relatively spic & span, tho. Nice constructioneerin job, as one would expect from all-pro Patrick Merrell.

fave fillins included: PORTFOLIO. SPOCK. MIGHTY. SWORD. RIDESHARE. PUPPY. (The PUPPY was slightly mightier than the SWORD, btw.)
staff weeject pick: CEN. Better clue: {Bi(t) coin??}.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Merrell. Could hardly have been alpha-better.
Well … there was that there OXYGENIZE … but MOO GAS kinda made up for it.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

Thanx to all the marvelous sub-blogmasters, this week. How does @RP find so many topnotch folks?


Crimson Devil 2:03 PM  

Struggled mightily with MICE crossing ACTS.
Good Thursday.

Joe Dipinto 2:23 PM  

@Quasi -- it doesn't have to be gmail, just whatever email address you use. The address doesn't display on your public profile, there's a blue link labeled "email". You can keep your entire profile hidden if you choose not to share it.

Crimson Devil 2:59 PM  

Kitshef, respectfully, I think Seth has time designations correct and yours are reversed: S = standard not summer, and D = daylight.

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

Depends on where you live. Across the Pond its 'Country' Summer Time, mostly.

Anonymous 3:10 PM  

Awful. What are these theme words and why are they there? Once I got the jkl or whatever I had no idea what the rest of the word would be and when I realized here was no logic I stopped caring. Then I had mon ami crossing with molt. Is bon ami really a best friend or just a good friend?

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

I'm detective John Kimble... *chkchk* ... and I'd love to know who decided ANIME is a "cartoon genre." For shame! Run a search for "ANIME genres," and know thy ignorance! ANIME *is* animation. What do you think the word's short for?!

Also, since when does a plus sign mean "ET Cetera" and not "POSitive?"

That said, the theme was less opaque than I initially worried. Once I confirmed my suspicion about the contents, there really weren't that many possibilities for the spaces provided, especially with one or two non-pangram letters. AFGHANI is a good example: I had the A from TODAY, so what else could have fit? Even without the A, what else could have fit?

I also thought some of the fill-cluing was clever, like PUPPY and USAGES, though I'm starting to wonder if question mark consistency is merely a neophyte solver's concern. For USAGES, "Accepted" is clearly there just to throw you off- in fact, it's extraneous without a question mark- and yet the clue for PUPPY *does* append a question mark? Huh.

Overall, I'd say I enjoyed it, but I'd also concede the theme doesn't seem as wacky or extravagant as a typical Thursday.

Anonymous 3:31 PM  

BON AMI is good friend. Best friend is meilleur ami. That clue is just plain wrong.

GILL I. 3:32 PM  

@Quasi. I'm pretty sure I went to Mr. Know-It-All, Google and asked how I could get an avatar and post pictures and everything and all I did was follow the bouncing ball. It's free, I know that. And it's easy, as well, unless you're @Nancy and have to go to Connecticut to get your picture in the movies.... ;-0

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

I think Loren would do a great job as a stand in next time Rex takes a vacation. Her posts are awesome.

Z 3:59 PM  

@Anonymouses at about 3:30 - <a href=">ANIME</a> <i>refers specifically to animation from Japan or as a Japanese-disseminated animation style often characterized by colorful graphics, vibrant characters and fantastical themes.</i> It is not short for anything. Second, the symbol “+” can be read as “and.” It is literally the mathematical representation of the Latin word “ET” as in ET Cetera, which gets abbreviated as ETC. It is a bit loose, but well within the bounds of Crossword English, to say that + is a way of writing ETC. Third, the clue isn’t “best friend.” The clue is “B(r)est friend?” Those parentheses are a little deceptive, but the question mark let’s us know there is something less than literal going on.

Mr. Benson 4:17 PM  

I also had a bit of an eye-twitch over the extra D in ABSCONDED and the extra S in SQUAREST. I know OFL would not have let that go. In fact he probably would have ranted and thrown in a dig at the editor. I wouldn't go as far as that, but those answers do seem off.

Anonymous 4:33 PM  

@Z: アニメ (Anime) is short for アニメーション (Animation). That is, anime is literally animation. Yes, it's a *style* of animation commonly associated with Japan, but "style" and "genre" are not the same thing. I think my point stands; even your cited definition uses "animation style" and not "genre." (Did you not read the etymology section of the Wikipedia article you cited?)

That said, thanks for the clarification on ETC! I hadn't thought of + representing "et," but I still think that's a stretch, since "et" is not "et cetera."

albatross shell 4:35 PM  
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albatross shell 4:41 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
albatross shell 4:50 PM  

NSF stands for non-sufficient funds.

+ = plus = add = and = etc. would be the theory.

Weren't all early animations, Disney e.g., called cartoons which was probably shorten from animated cartoons at one point in time. That is what us kids called them in my day, cartoons. I thought anime just meant Japanese cartoons when I first started seeing the term.

OffTheGrid 5:45 PM  

Has anyone mentioned that Brest is a French city?

pmdm 6:55 PM  

There seems to be an issue with the difference between ET and ET CETERA. One uses ET when one specifies all the members of the set you you talking about. One says ET CETERA when one does not specify all the members of the set. One might say "this, that, and everything else like this and that." If that's true, the clue n today's puzzle is certainly misleading and almost certainly erroneous. But I suppose it close enough for the world of crosswords.

clk 7:22 PM  

Thank you!

Nancy 8:44 PM  

@GILL (3:32)-- Your memory is absolutely amazing. Why you remember the details of my own life (getting my avatar courtesy of someone in CT) better than I do. Of course, remembering things better than I do is a very low bar.

For example: I'd help @Quasi put his name in blue if I had the faintest idea 1) how I originally did it and 2) who on the blog gave me the instructions that enabled me to do it. (The photo was added at least a year later; @GILL;s right: Hartley did it for me all the way from CT. That I do remember.) But I got my name in blue myself and I have no idea what I did. The process has completely vanished from my mind as so many things are wont to do. Poof.

@Quasi -- @GILL's advice seems good: Use Google to find out how one creates a blog profile. You're certainly someone who deserves your own blog profile. Best of luck setting one up. I look forward to reading it soon.

L 8:51 PM  

What was remotely interesting about this theme? If the crazy answers at least related to something...besides Scrabble f@$%ing...then it could've been thiughtful. I don't get this.

Adam 9:40 PM  

Agreed. JUNK PILE is an apt description for this thing. The solving experience was not fun for me, even though I didn’t really have too much trouble. DIP for SIP at first, but UDAGES made no sense. And a MIL is technically 1/10 of a cent (1/1000th of a dollar); hardly a chunk of anything. I was desperately hoping that the included letters in the answers might spell something, or that there was *something* going on other than clues that eliminated letters. Just because you *can* do something doesn’t mean you *should*; this would be one of those times where you should have thought twice. Bleh.

GILL I. 9:57 PM  

@Nancy...How do I love THEE....Let me count the ways... :-)

Z 4:40 AM  

@Anon4:30 - Not until you pointed the section out. Still, genre is a pretty wiggly term. See how “anime” is used here. Seems like a genre is being described to me. And, whatever the source in Japanese, in English “anime” is a stand alone word, not an abbreviation for “animation.”

spacecraft 12:00 PM  

The quote clue at 65 across took up so much space (!) that my eye was drawn to it: giant gimme for this Trekkie. It's from the STTOS episode "The Ultimate Computer," which became the template for HAL of "2001."

I liked working through these imaginative clues, learning along the way. For example, there are many possible clues for HYDE, but this one gave me a new fact.

The centerpiece--and Word of the Day--is also the Damsel of the Day: Rita Moreno as ANITA.*

Good to see PM at the controls again; birdie.

*In case anyone didn't know EGOT, it's the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards, a rare TROPHY case indeed.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

Disappointing that no one offered up a great Errol Flynn anecdote - he was quite the rascal.

Diana, LIW 2:52 PM  

Ha! I got it! After a bit or erroring, too!! (Esp in the SE corner.)

That feels pretty good. Pat on back...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for 5, count em 5, doc appts in the next two weeks. Oh, I know how to party.

leftcoast 4:12 PM  

Had some fun putting the right letters in the right places. JUNK PILE was the first to go; AFGHANI was the last. HEISMAN TROPHIES had to be a favorite if only because of its helpful mid-grid span.

Looked much easier after finishing than when slowly picking the way through it. Provided several nice aha moments.

After all the fun and feeling AGLOW, had to confront a bit of a downer with "geezers" and OLDS, "passes" and DIES, though "long life" and CEN ended it on a brighter note.

May TODAY be a good one for all, BON AMIS.

rainforest 4:16 PM  

Loved the clue "uncontrolled jerk". I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting something other than SPASM there. That clue made the puzzle for me. Actually, there were other boffo clues throughout. Sneaky.

The theme also felt sneaky at first, but at ABSCONDED I realized that it was basically letters in order in words. I don't know how hard that was to do, but it was interesting, and certainly better than a rebus.

Third pangram this week, I think. Just sayin'. Liked it, too.

Waxy in Montreal 5:08 PM  

@Rain, his middle name JOHN is in the grid, though...

Diana, LIW 5:29 PM  

Huh. @Rainy suggests that "uncontrolled jerk" might bring something to mind. Thinking. Thinking. Huh.. Does it rhyme with orange?


Unknown 1:03 AM  

Thanks, I needed that.

Burma Shave 2:19 PM  


HOWIE Cossell gave ADVICE
that HAD ALI embarrassed:
He’d HARP on MIGHTY men and MICE;
TODAY he’d be the SQUAREST.


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