Big employer in Delaware / THU 9-5-19 / Grass with prickly burs / Some bygone service stations / Measures of newspaper ad space / Annoyance for oyster eater / 1946 role for Fonda 1994 role for Costner

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Medium (felt predominantly easy, but I didn't know several things, which slowed me down) (5:44)

THEME: More than a ___, but less than a ___ — all theme clues follow this pattern, and the answer is a word that is one letter longer (in the front) than word that means [first blank], and one letter shorter than a word that means [second blank]:

Theme answers:
  • 1A: More than a bird, but less than a facial expression (COWL)
  • 5A: More than a symptom, but less than a jerk (WITCH)
  • 10A: More than a card, but less than a track bet (LACE)
  • 20A: More than a snake, but less than a bodily organ (LADDER)
  • 36A: More than a British islander, but less than a team symbol (ASCOT)
  • 39A: More than a court filing, but less than a status change (EMOTION)
  • 42A: More than a bagel, but less than a walk (TROLL)
  • 59A: More than a color, but less than a trade occupation (LUMBER)
  • 67A: More than a boat, but less than an idea (PARK)
  • 68A: More than a weather forecast, but less than a muscle injury (TRAIN)
  • 69A: More than an insect, but less than U.S. president (RANT)
Word of the Day: HAILE Gebrselassie (15A: ___ Gebrselassie, two-time Olympic running gold medalist) —
Haile Gebrselassie (Amharicኃይሌ ገብረ ሥላሴhaylē gebre silassē; born 18 April 1973) is a retired Ethiopian long-distance track and road running athlete. He won two Olympic gold medals over 10,000 metres and four World Championship titles in the event. He won the Berlin Marathonfour times consecutively and also had three straight wins at the Dubai Marathon. Further to this, he won four world titles indoors and was the 2001 World Half Marathon Champion.
Haile had major competition wins at distances between 1500 metres and the marathon, moving from outdoor, indoor and cross country running to road running in the latter part of his career. He broke 61 Ethiopian national records ranging from 800 metres to the marathon, set 27 world records, and is widely regarded as the greatest distance runner in history.
In September 2008, at the age of 35, he won the Berlin Marathon with a world record time of 2:03:59, breaking his own world record by 27 seconds. The record stood for three years. Since he was over the age of 35, that mark still stands as the Masters Age group world record in addition his 10000 m Masters record has not been challenged since 2008. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a themeless pretending that it's not. Looks like tons (tons) of words can do this: lose a first letter, still be a word, gain a new first letter, still be a word. And, like many a weak-themed puzzle, this puzzle tries to impress by burying you in an avalanche of themers. Sadly, the themers aren't really interesting words, so the grid ends up being pretty blah overall. Now, I did enjoy the fact that I torched the themers—fire through dry grass; that always feels good. I don't think I hesitated on any except the first one (where, of course, I had no idea what was going on). With every other themer, I had at least one cross before looking at the clue, and only once or twice did I not know instantly what it was. Success makes the solve feel pleasant, for sure! But I still can't say I think a lot of this theme, or this grid. Not bad, by any means, but not nearly as impressive as it (really) wants you to believe it is. Also, when your marquee answers are this dull and/or niche (LINAGES? SANDSPUR?), maybe try harder.

Tough getting started, as the NW corner has two themers, and I didn't yet understand the theme. Plus I forgot the mountain nymph and wrote in NAIAD even though I knew that was a river nymph. First answer into the grid was EDSEL :( (always makes me feel slightly guilty when I get my traction from rank crosswordese) (24A: Classic auto with a so-called "floating speedometer"). Eventually righted the ship on OREAD, got ELI RIME LARDERS AREA, and then the fact that there were two themers up there really helped, because it somehow drove the theme concept home hard, and after that—no trouble with the theme. Really should've taken a hard look at the Olympic running gold medalist's last name, because the -selassie part really was trying to give me HAILE. But as it was, I just thought it was some obscure name I couldn't possibly know, and I used all the crosses to get it (if you don't know who HAILE Selassie is ... now you do).

I'm badly misreading at least one clue a day these days (I'm blaming these new gradation lenses, which are ugh). Today, I somehow read 27D as [Big night in casinos]; I had M-- and thought "... MONday? Is MONday a big night at casinos?" (I've never been in one except to go to a pretty terrible magic show that my family insisted we go to on one of our family vacations—this one, to Tahoe). Anyway, it was [Big inits. in casinos] and MGM. Wrote in SDST instead of SDSU at first (knew the school, clearly forgot the abbr.). Had PEAK before CONK (12D: Crown). Had almost no trouble in the bottom half of the grid. Just tore through the SE in particular. SANDSPUR was the only thing keeping that half from playing like a Monday for me. My last letter was the "R" (which crossed 52D: Flowering plant that's also a woman's name (ERICA)).

Gotta run.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


TeaHag 6:33 AM  

Scotland is an island?? Since when? It has islands, but so does England, so the clue still doesnt make sense. That clue plus the LUMBER one (I kept thinking it would be a play on "plum") irked me.

albatross shell 6:47 AM  

TINGE and TINCT. And the latter means TINGED as a verb and TINGE and TINCTure as a noun. Seems like a historical anomaly, but maybe that's what all language actually is.

Sure was slow abandoning Acre in the NW. Last knot to be untied, or is that complexity to be WEEDed? And I was sure E_AULE_ _ was GOING to be a bone for way too long. But for some reason STOLENCAR went in in an instant with no crosses. I mean you can go joyriding in your own car, can't you? The 25D 33A cross was fun. Was it going to be GRIT and HERON or egRet, or sand and crane. But yes, NONO, pulled that WEED quickly.

The themes I ignored until two were filled in, and then I was sure that no anagrams were involved and the first letter was dropped and a new first letter created in front of the original first letter. Which made them easy to get and were a considerable help with the fill which in turn makes them fun to get. Plus it was nice using the meanings of 2 words to put in a third word for the answer and who's meaning did not matter at all. Unusual and 3 for the space or price of one. Good stuff.

Solverinserbia 6:51 AM  

DNF, not that close either.

CONK is a really bad clue (crown.) I've never heard that word mean head, and whatever dictionary Google pulls up lists "head" as a dated, informal meaning of CONK. Also some really obscure proper names along with words I've never heard of like SANDSPUR made this one a bit much for me. Theme was really easy. I also think it was fine to good as a theme and not, as Rex said, borderline themeless.

Anonymous 6:53 AM  

LAPDESK? LARDERS? OREAD? LUCE? SDSU? LINAGES??? This is the highest percentage of nonsense crap that only exists to fill crosswords that I've seen in a long time.

Anonymous 7:06 AM  

I don’t generally enjoy Thursday puzzles, but this one was pretty good. There were quite a few words I had never heard of, which made finishing the puzzle challenging.

kitshef 7:19 AM  

I wish all the themers had had a pronunciation change like PLUMBER/LUMBER, but that would be an awful lot to ask.

Lots of short fill made for a choppy solve.

I feel like this could have been swapped with yesterday’s puzzle.

Lewis 7:28 AM  

Terrific solving experience; I rate this puzzle a [More than a Latin "Hail!", but less than a tomb].

Hungry Mother 7:41 AM  

Love/hate on this one. I loved the theme and trying to figure things out. I hated all of the names. Somehow it went more quickly than usual.

bookmark 7:43 AM  

My high school yearbook was named The Sandspur. You can imagine what the area was surrounded by. Also, the beaches have lots of sandspurs.

Hungry Mother 7:43 AM  

Nice one, @Lewis. I always enjoy your positivity and your wit.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

No TeaHag it's just a person who lives in the British isles...

mmorgan 8:02 AM  

I thought this was a very clever concept — I’ve never seen it done — and it was fun to solve. To me, the main point of a puzzle like this is the themers; the fill is largely irrelevant and mainly there to give me some help with the themers. No complaints here!

three of clubs 8:06 AM  

TOT (down) and TESS before I fixed it to JOT (down) and JESS. I really have to watch more TV.

kitshef 8:09 AM  

@Solverinserbia - I think it means the verb sense of CONK and crown = to bop on the head.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Informal use of crown: to bonk, or in this case “conk”, someone over the head.

Alexander 8:16 AM  

Scotland is part of the British Isles (on the isle of Great Britain)

QuasiMojo 8:17 AM  

So many names! But none that RIME.

Crown is a verb that means to conk on the head. Or so I learned from the Three Stooges.

I didn't know Hess stopped having gas stations. They were a fixture near my former home. But I got rid of my car nearly 7 years ago and hadn't realized those Speedways were former Hesses. I would have preferred a clue about a pile of heavy-handed novels: HESSES.

ON ICE is "waiting in the wings"? I thought it meant something put on hold.

I wish I could think of some clever lyrics. Oh wait...

"HERE I GO again, I hear those trumpets blow again.
All aglow again, takin' a chance on love.
Here I slide again, about to take that ride again.
Starry-eyed again, takin' a chance on love."

Suzie Q 8:17 AM  

Once again I read the review and wondered if Rex and I had solved the same puzzle. I really enjoyed it. Puzzles that make me marvel at our language give me great pleasure. From the comments I've read so far (with the exception of @Lewis) I guess I don't get to hang with the cool kids today. You know it's always more cool to sneer than to giggle. Maybe I can sit with @ Lewis and hopefully @ Loren at their table at lunch.
After I was done I wrote out a few of the added letters just in case they spelled something. That would have been too much to ask but I had to try anyway. If there was an added layer I didn't want to miss it.

Joaquin 8:26 AM  

I found this to be clever, new, and easy. And fun.

To me, this makes it a winner because even though I enjoy learning new words and exercising my brain, my primary reason for doing the puzzle is *fun*.

Fact is I enjoy 95% of them. So sue me, Rex.

MichaelG 8:33 AM  

For 10 across WAGE also works

Benjamin 8:36 AM  

@TeaHag, I understood that clue as a reference to the main island of Great Britain, not any of the small offshoots (Scottish or otherwise).

RavTom 8:38 AM  

@TeaHag: A Scot is a resident of the island of Great Britain, hence a British islander.

@Solverinserbia: CONK and crown are both verbs here. They mean to hit someone on the head.

Unknown 8:39 AM  

British Isles and British Islander are both common terms in general usage. The clue was easy for me. Also both crown and conk can mean a hit (to the head).

GILL I. 8:51 AM  

Well see, here's the thing...I had the top SW all in. And I stayed there intent on figuring out what was what. So I see the OWL of the COWL and go hmmmm. But then I get to 20A LADDER and I see the ADDER snake part. But...right on top is the B from BEER and I thought oh...the bodily organ is BLADDER. So I'm thinking I have to borrow a letter from one of the other entries. I go on my merry way and figured out that it doesn't work that way. First MEH of the day. I added another MEH when I got to ASCOT. The missing M is right up there from the word STEAM. What is going on?
Once I saw what's it all about Alfie, I did a @Rex thing. All along the way I kept asking myself if I was enjoying it or not. Some I liked, others turned out to be a CHORE. I had to work an awful lot but was it worth It?
I go looking for a smile once I finish. GAS TANKS EDSEL STOLEN CAR HESSES. @Nancy should have a field day.
Anyway...Rebus anyone?

davidm 9:00 AM  

First “themer” I got was RANT, and I’m like, OK, yeah, that’s more than an ant, but less than President Grant … and, so? All the italicized “more than, less than” stuff was not only headache-inducing, but yielded … ordinary words. Clue those words in a standard way, and there is not even the pretense of a theme here.

I found this to be tedious, and mostly, even before finishing, I wanted to *more than a spinning toy, but less than a camera setting*

oopsydeb 9:11 AM  

The theme didn't do much for me, but to each his own. Once I figured out what was happening with COWL, themers dropped quickly.

LARDERS was the first answer I dropped in. Can't imagine how anyone would think that's a nonsense word to have in the puzzle.

Not too much to cause me to pause on this one.

Richard Stanford 9:16 AM  

Agreed on the British Isles being common - for that matter, LARDER is the English term for pantry. This felt much easier than a typical Thursday for me, and I enjoyed the twist. Not sure that being ON ICE works for waiting in the wings, to me that implies being all warmed up and ready to go. I had CONK but didn't write it down for a while since I was sure that that didn't make sense for crown (too many hops from one to another, even if they're both head-related). LINAGES was new to me, I really wanted COLINCH or similar there which through me for a while too.

ghthree 9:20 AM  

Unlike Rex, my wife and I (solving on paper at breakfast) never figured out the pattern until we had almost finished. I adopted the strategy of doing the Downs first, since all the weird clues were in the Acrosses. Jane followed her usual strategy of doing the Acrosses first. This made out conversation a bit strange: "Do you have 22 Across?" "Haven't seen it yet."

Eventually, we got there. My worst overwrite was 7 Down. I had NUDGE for a long time. It's been popular lately as a "gentle" way of changing behavior.

I agree with TeaHag. 36 Across would have been better clued with a reference to Tartan or 46 Across.

AVE Lewis. Loved your comment.

Emmy 9:46 AM  

Enjoyed this one. Ignored the themers until I had a handle on what was happening. Plopped acre in and didn't want it to be anything else for far too long.

Didn't know Haile but now I do. Had nudge for TINGE for a bit.

All in all, couple of writeovers but fun stuff.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Clues: 1 Hood
2 Burn victim
3 Strew
20 Game piece with scouts
36 Tie
39 Instinct
42 Bridge denizen
59 Wood
67 Gear
68 Vehicle
69 Go on

Molasses 9:52 AM  

The themers were my favorite part of the puzzle, once I got the trick at RANT. That top middle section was the hardest - Wikipedia claims there were HESSES in California so I might possibly have seen one, but otherwise it seems to have been an entirely East Coast thing, and I didn't know HAILE the runner or INNES. Having rotors spin instead of WHIR didn't help.

Never encountered SANDSPUR either. The burs look like something we have around here called goathead. Very painful to step on barefoot, I can attest. Guessed this one from crosses.

Nancy 10:01 AM  

What a fabulous, fabulous puzzle!!!! So much wordplay!!!! So much thinking required!!!! I hope this got Jeff Chen's POW, because it certainly deserves it.

I had to abandon TINGE at 35D where I really wanted it because once WITCH came in, I needed it more at 7D. I've never used TINGE in the 7D sense, so I learned something.

Why does someone yell CLEAR before beginning defibrillation? Beats me.

When I think of something being ON ICE (61A), I think of BEER. When I think of "waiting in the wings" I think of actors.

I've also never said "crown" to mean CONK. And I have a question: Do you have to be Jewish to know SCHMEAR?

Terrific puzzle. And wonderfully clever RAVE, @Lewis!!!

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

This puzzle was more than a genre introduced to the Grammys in 1989, and less than a remainder of food.

Carola 10:05 AM  

Tough for me. I enjoyed this different take on a Thursday.

Flying Pediatrician 10:06 AM  

I completely agree with you! As I was solving I was thinking "well this is just *objectively* great; there's no way @Rex can pan it." Seems I was wrong. I'm pumped to see the sure-to-be-great list of other examples that @Loren comes up with?! @Lewis gave us a good start. At my house, we're having [More than Mork's planet, but less than a versatile utensil] tacos tonight!

Zygotic 10:16 AM  

So, again, that words are made up of letters and rearranging said letters begets different words just is not all that fascinating to me. As a puzzle, this was fine. As a crossword puzzle this was Meh. Now, tell a little story about the OWL in a COWL having a SCOWL because the TROLL with a ROLL out for a STROLL ended up getting a STRAIN from walking in the RAIN so took a TRAIN home, forgetting to get the ASCOT from the SCOT for the OWL's MASCOT... and maybe I'd be amused.

Ness before EARP and some weirdness with the roto clue were my writeovers. Got the pattern at ASCOT, although I wasn't 100% convinced that all of the letter patterns were the same for several more (i.e. that "more than" word had a letter added to the front and the "less than" word had it's first letter missing). The PPP was generally out of my wheelhouse, although some of it only a little out. Laura INNES is a LFC name, Zooey Deschanel I like, JESS and New Girl not so much. Henry LUCE floats around unremembered in the back of my brain, much like the speedometer of an EDSEL. Having the California university not be a UCsomeplace seemed vaguely like cheating.

Anyone else want to explain the clue to @TeaHag? Hey, we've all been there.

xyz 10:21 AM  


PIX 10:26 AM  

@ Nancy. If you are touching the bed when someone is being defibrillated the electric current could theoretically flow into you. Hence Clear!

JC66 10:26 AM  

I thought the EDSEL was a dud, not a "classic auto," so that slowed me down (along with 7 down).

David 10:27 AM  

TV, Movies, Sports stuff; for me it was as if somebody had opened a game of Trivial Pursuit and decided to make a puzzle out of it. A chore and a DNF without cheats for that stuff.

People still say joy ride? Who knew?

The theme was nice but not hard enough for a Thursday (and I really love a rebus). Also: I'm OK, oat, ipa, ooh, ira, and the Latin stuff. Where the heck was our oreo?

Then there were the more fun things: epaulet, larders, oread, linages, sandspur. This past weekend I canned a bunch of stuff for our larder, which is in the basement past the ladders.

Oh. And schmear. I love a schmear and some lox.

I had no idea Hess stations were gone. Every year they play that annoying ad about the truck all December long. I guess it's a nice Christmas paycheck to Warner Chappell at least.

Nancy 10:31 AM  

Thanks, @PIX. I'll remember that.

albatross shell 10:51 AM  

@JC66 1026am
Sales were low and caused turmoil at Ford both of which make the very collectible for classic car buyers. And the look,though disliked at the time, became famous as did the car.

Wm. C. 10:52 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Newboy 11:00 AM  

bONK before CONK (sounds like a bad grammar now) and embarrassment as a former Cross Country Coach to not plug in HAILE off the A in IAN. Seemed as though there were too many names from network television, but I refuse to give up reading time to gain more traction in popular culture. Unlike our fearless leader, I had several moments paused at the themers. A Thursday that makes me think even after getting the gimmick is always worth a double thumbs up!

jberg 11:01 AM  

DNF-- My first theme answer was bADDER (Hi, @Gill!) -- which, now that I think of it, is irrelevant. The real problem was that for a pantry I put in buttERy (even though that didn't work with bADDER), and when I eventually figured it out I'd forgotten it was a POC, LARDER was too short, and so I just left the concluding y there -- LARDERy, why not? Since no one on TV spells their name right anymore, JESy seemed as good as anything -- or at least not bad enough to make me go looking for an alternative.

@Rex, I had the same thought process in deducing HAILE from the SELASSIE in his last name. Of course, it's totally irrational; every Ethiopian with selassie in his or her name can't be named HAILE, can they? I remember back in around 1963 taking a course in 18th Century English literature, in which we read Johnson's RASSELAS. Someone (the professor? the scholarly introduction to the book?) said that the ending of the protagonist's name meant he was a prince, and pointed out the similarity to the present emperor of Ethiopia. But I don't know if that's true.

Was I the only one totally mystified about the ELIAS Sports Bureau?

I saw an online cartoon this morning about Brexit: it showed a map of the big island and Europe shrinking so that GB had its own frame about it, a process that knocked off Scotland to go its own way, making all the complaints about the clue for 36A moot.

Despite, the DNF I'm with @Lewis and @Nancy -- figuring out the theme answers was a lot of fun.

El Marko 11:05 AM  

I liked this puzzle and I loved the "SCHMEAR" fill. Here is another SCHM word from the Germanic/Yiddish for you. SCHMUCK. As in, don't be one!

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

20 was supposed to be Game piece with shutes

leprkonpi 11:08 AM  

I had a lot of SLIP-ups in this one. Completely never heard of Laura INNES, ELIAS sports bureau, LINAGES, LUCE, SANDSPUR, or CONK and therefore was lost immediately. Didn't know ERICA was a plant. I would never clue NACHO as a "type of chip". Seriously?? The type of chip is a tortilla chip. The dish itself, tortilla chips with toppings, is called nachos. As a Tex-Mex connoisseur, I could RANT about that all day. But tl;dr It would have been very easy to use a different clue.

I liked EPAULET, GRIT and STOLEN CAR. Those felt pretty fresh.

Masked and Anonymous 11:10 AM  

Really really wanted a different answer for: {More than an insect, but less than U.S. president}. Lost valuable solvequest-closing nanoseconds.

Cool theme idea. Hard thing to construct with long themers, so this puppy calls out an army of runt themers, instead. Well played. Approve highly of the switch from stuff-that-ends-themers themes to a stuff-that-doesn't-exactly-start-themers theme. Different. Like different.

Had to get one themer from its crossers, to figure out the theme mcguffin. It was EMOTION. yep. Took M&A a while.

staff weeject pick: OOH. It's more than an OH, but less than a POOH. Also, looks sorta like two scoops on an easel, or somesuch.

fave fillins included: SCHMEAR. HEREIGO. STOLENCAR.
And remember: It's more than desperate, and less than gettable, but it is kinda sudsy: SDSU.

Thanx, Mr. E-S. U got a primo name! Was you ever in Parliament? "O-o-o-r-d-e-e-e-r-r!"

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Ethan Taliesin 11:14 AM  

I enjoyed this one and it felt harder than my time would suggest. I know, the "tricky" words were a little bland, but I thought the idea was cool.

Always write DRYAD when it should be OREAD. Every. Time.

LARDER is where I'd keep tubs of lard if I had tubs of lard to keep. Fortunately that's not a real issue and serves well as my mnemonic device.

jberg 11:15 AM  

I didn't explain that Brexit cartoon very well, so take a look for yourself.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

the funnest entry in a long, long time. any time Thurs.'s not a rebus is a good Thurs.

jae 11:22 AM  

On the tough side for me. Deciphering the theme clues was some between a slog and an “aha”.

I’m still trying to decide which. Liked it, I think?

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

I liked this puzzle. I realize the theme isn't hard to construct. There are, in fact, other answers in this puzzle that could have been themers. E.g. HEREIGO/THEREIGO/EREIGO, OAT/GOAT/AT, IPA/RIPA/PA, PLAID/UPLAID/LAID, ONICE/SONICE/NICE, IRAS/LIRAS/RAS, AMAS/LAMAS/MAS.

But even so, I found the themes fun to figure out even if most were pretty easy. So while the theme was not an impressive feat, I thought the solving experience was fun anyway.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

I love this puzzle and I love this constructor, but I'd rather have a lap dance than a LAPDESK.

Sir Hillary 11:35 AM  

Didn't enjoy the solve or find the premise all that interesting. Take a word, add a letter to the beginning to make a new word, add another letter to the beginning of the new word to make a third word, use the middle word in the grid, clue it as "more or less" than the shorter and longer one respectively -- that all sounds really complicated, but it isn't.

My main source of amusement was that I failed to discern that all the wordplay "action" was in the first letters, because that led me to enter wAgE at 9A. "Wag" being a card (i.e., a wryly funny person) and "wager" being a track bet (or *any* bet for that matter).

Two more than consumed, one more than tardy, but one less than empathize and two less than a high-ranking clergy member. Sorry, I'll stop.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

I thought the EDSEL was a dud, not a "classic auto," so that slowed me down (along with 7 down).

It sure was at the time, but because so few were sold, it soon became a rare item. Thus 'classic'. No, it makes no sense for something stupid to become cool just because it was bogus, but if a Real Show buffoon can become President, then it makes perfect sense.

And a quick look at the wiki reveals something I'd long forgotten (just a juvenile when the cars were sold): Edsel wasn't just a model name like Taurus, but a division like Mercury. Even bigger 'dud'.

And, according to the wiki, it wasn't even a 'floating speedometer' but a 'rolling dome'. Kind of like a ship's compass, I guess.

"Total Edsel sales were approximately 116,000, less than half the company's projected break-even point."

Finally, the numbers:
"More than half a century after its spectacular failure, Edsels have become highly collectible items among vintage car hobbyists. Fewer than 10,000 Edsels survive and they are considered valuable collectors' items. A mint-condition Edsel convertible from any of its three model years may sell for over $100,000.[21] The rarest Edsel (by body style) is the 1960 Ranger convertible: only 76 were built. Approximately 25 survive today. The rarest Edsel by model is the 1960 Ranger deluxe interior 4-door hardtop, model 57B. Originally intended to be released as the 1960 Corsair, only 31 units were produced. "

Anoa Bob 11:40 AM  

Nice to see my alma mater SDSU in the grid, but that's not really its name. I have my diploma hanging on the wall and it says California State University San Diego, which would be CSUSD. Ugh! That's why almost everyone calls it San Diego State or SDSU.

Seems like the crowd is divided into those who loved the theme and those who thought it was a joyless CHORE. No disrespect to the former but I'm in the latter. It had all the charm for me of a Pig Latin exercise, which is to say none. As examples in practically every other one of the comments demonstrate, candidates for this kind of stuff are easy to come by.

What? 11:47 AM  

Rex enjoys 95% of them also but only by complaining about them.

What? 11:50 AM  

Defib involves high voltage so stand clear of the patient is a good idea lest you get zapped.

pabloinnh 11:59 AM  

Good fun gimmicky Thursday gimmick. I'm in the slow-going-until-I-caught-on crew, so properly Thursday, at least for me.

Didn't inspire any song lyrics, but did make me think of

Well get out of my way you small time clowns
This country boy has come to town
With a STOLENCAR, drove to Omaha
Doin' my best to stay away from the law
But when the finally caught me here's what they done
They threw me in jail for havin' too much fun.

Rousing stuff and always gets the toes tapping at the nursing homes.

And like the man says in the chorus, I ain't never had too much fun.

Thanks for fun enough, A E-S.

What? 12:04 PM  

When starting an airplane engine, the pilot is required to yell Clear even though it might seem obvious that no one is near the propeller. And they do it even when no one is looking. Good habit.

TeaHag 12:05 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 12:06 PM  

@Anoa Bob:
which would be CSUSD

Isn't that an invasive southern vine from Japan in 1876? When GRANT was president? I wonder if the constructor/editor saw the synergy?

jb129 12:16 PM  

I don't want to have to work this hard to enjoy a puzzle. I was going with Stroll for Troll thinking it was a rebus, Then I got that it wasn't.

I never enjoy this constructor's puzzles. But if he does, I get it works for him.

Mr. Cheese 12:49 PM  

Bob Hope once said the Edsel looks like a car that just sucked on a lemon.

Doc John 1:03 PM  

If you recall the Cristo photographs of the islands in Miami that he surrounded with pink fabric, one of them is called SANDSPUR Island, but its local nickname is Beercan Island because it used to be littered with beer cans left by boaters who picnicked there.
Also- Go Aztecs! SDSU is less than a mile from my house.

Lewis 1:04 PM  

Oh man, I loved scratching and clawing through this, overcoming wheelhouse deficits and vagueness in the cluing, then sussing the theme and cracking the theme answers.

In crosswords, I live for hacking through the vines and using the kind of focus needed for picking locks. These things make me come alive, and Alex, you brought me the perfect gift box of them today, and I thank you greatly for it!

RooMonster 1:10 PM  

Hey All !
Well, all I can say to those who didn't enjoy this, go fly a kite!

This was one awesome WoW type puz. 11 themers! 11! With resulting fill less crappy than most puzs. And the themers have to work two ways, lose a letter to make the first part of the clue, add a letter to make the second part of the clue. AND be actual stand alone words by themselves! So there's no random letters thrown together just to make a themer. Holy EMOTION! This puz impressed the hell out of me.

Regular size grid, 38 black squares (normal), only 11 3's, and open enough space to get longer answers in. Jeez people, what more can you want? This puz MOPS up.

Did I mention 11 Themers? 11. Light dreck. No GRIT.

NW corner for me was a bear. Had rest of puz done, and just couldn't get almost any answer there. Had Acre for AREA, did finally figure out LADDER, had EDSEL, but everything else a WOE. OREAD I've seen from other puzs, but was not in the forefront of the ole brain. Difficulty clued BEER and WEEDS. Plus, what in tarhooties is a LARDER?? Even CABLE was clued toughly. But after many (regular) seconds (Hi @M&A) of staring, saw AREA, then figured BEER would work, and finally got that son-of-a corner.

Grade A puz, AES. Don't let Rex get you down! :-) Sorry, Rex, if the themers weren't lively enough for ya. NONO TROLL on this puppy.



Whatsername 1:12 PM  

This puzzle caused me to SCOWL, GRIT my teeth, and STRAIN the limits of my good humor. On the positive side, I appreciate that it’s something different with a twist we don’t see often. Still, with due respect to the creative efforts of the constructor, I found the solve to be more of a CHORE than a STROLL in the park.

The Captcha police outdid themselves today. By the time I finished, I felt like I’d been frisked by TSA.

Teedmn 1:15 PM  

I had great fun with this theme and once I got into the groove, they went pretty smoothly. In fact, I was wishing mightily for just one more theme answer in the north central-northeast because I was hung up for several minutes, not knowing HESSES, INNES, thinking HAILE was a trap, hence not entering it, and not ever seeing TINGE as a verb that I can remember. But the real hang-up was 22A.

My 22A was _A_T_NeS. Yes, I somehow decided that CONe = Crown. Really. No justification in the least, just the most convenient CON_ word. It took deciding TINGE could be a verb before I saw GAS TANKS. Then the rest of my mess there filled in.

One themer problem - _R__N at 68A and I was pRA'IN to find a better answer down there. DU PONT, thank you for putting me on the TRAIN.

Alex Easton-Salners, thank you for the fun Thursday.

Mo Pariser 1:22 PM  

The theme is adding/subtracting specifically the first letter of each word.

kitshef 1:35 PM  

@Z - in this case, no rearranging was required or permitted. All the answers and their comparative clues take the form ABCDE - BCDE - CDE.

JC66 1:37 PM  

@Anon 11:37

So, how much is my ISHTAR videotape worth?


Since you've gone blue, it'snot necessary for youth check the "I'm not a robot" box; just hit "Publish My Comment."

Moderator 1:42 PM  

@Wm C

I deleted your comment because of the MINI spoiler.

I suggest you look closely at the clue and answer to 4A to answer your question.

Whatsername 1:48 PM  

@JC66: THANKS! Who knew? But I think I may miss the excitement. LOL.

RebeccaOptom 2:20 PM  

For your lenses: point your nose at what you are going to look at - need more head scanning and less eye scanning to avoid blur!

Mondegreen 2:37 PM  

Nancy: Not puzzle related but a question for you - at least I *think* it was you.
I believe you mentioned a purse/tote bag accessory of which you owned several, in different colors & prints.
I looked it up, but simply cannot find it in my search history.
I believe you may have discussed them with Gill I, if memory serves.
I'd like to get one for my sister's upcoming b-day.
Would you email me @ with the name? It would be sorely appreciated! Thank you.
WA State Syndie

Joe Dipinto 2:39 PM  

At first I thought the gimmick would be fun, but it turned everything into a slog pretty quickly. CONK reminded me of the "Star Trek" episode with the annoying kid who said "Bonk bonk on the head." And hisses for HESSES.

♪ More than Sandra but less than Winnie,
Baby baby ♪

Anoa Bob 6:04 PM  

@Mr. Cheese comment about Bob Hope thinking an Edsel looks like a car that just sucked on a lemon brought to mind my theory for its stunning failure. I think that thefront centerpiece of the Edsel is eerily and disturbingly similar to the mouth of the freaked out person in Edvard Munch's The Scream. If you can get past that, it's not a bad looking vehicle.

Amazing Omnipotech Cloud Computing Solutions 1:17 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 11:41 AM  

The clue for 12 down (Crown) is in no way relevant to the answer for 12 down (Conk). At a stretch, I guess the word crown could be used to describe someone's head. But conk? Never. Yes, you can conk someone on the head, but that wasn't the clue, was it? No. Had 12D been better clued ("___ on the crown" or something similar) then yes, Conk would've been acceptable. As it was written, however, it's an error. It'd be like having the clue be 'House' and the answer be 'On Fire.' As this puzzle was to me, a house on fire I couldn't wait to flee.

kodak jenkins 7:58 AM  

This one was a DNF for about 3 weeks until I revisited it the last few days. That plus the overall time tells me this was a hard Thursday for me.

Good puzzle overall, I liked the themers, though some were hard.

I disagree with AREA instead of ACRE. Of course ACRE is a measure of AREA but c'mon. Lawns are described in terms of acres and half acres and quarter acres.

I got hung up with LACE because though I (now) understand ACE works I still don't know what the track bet is. PLACE? I had WAGE because a WAG is somewhat of a card and certainly less than a WAGER. The resultant downs of WINAGES and GONK didn't work very well but I've never heard of LINAGES and CONK was a bit of a stretch so....

Burma Shave 10:19 AM  


the GASTANK’s full, it’s CLEAR I’ll go far.”


rondo 11:46 AM  

Hey now. There’s some wordplay, coming and going, or more than and less than. If anybody say this puz was *not* a CHORE, I’d second that EMOTION.

spacecraft 12:47 PM  

More than a body organ, but less than a dive.* Hey, you're right: this stuff is easy. So, I'm more or less with OFC in thinking this theme needs some zip. The puzzle held its place in LINAGE, I guess, though the place should have been maybe Tuesday. I did learn about SANDSPUR--which is an alternate of "sandbur--" but of course "bur" appeared in the clue. Whatever.

I Googled ERICAs for a DOD--and didn't need to go past the top entry: ERICA Mena. Sold! Not much to say about the fill, so it must be at least halfway decent, despite yet another appearance of EKE. Par, and I'm being kind.

leftcoast 4:14 PM  

Clever theme idea, interesting to do, and more challenging than not. Lots (too much?) to work with.

Started with the downs to help expose the "more than, less than" gimmick. Helped, but not all that much. Had to focus more on those themers. Got all but one of them, in the top middle, having settled on "spin" instead of WHIR, which hid the [T]WITCH. Not to speak of the remains of that three-stack, HAILE and INNES.

Non-theme pairs that caught my eye: TINGE and TINCT, AURA and CHI, ELI and ELIAS. JESS and ERICA may not be a pair, but they're nicely clued. Liked SCHMEAR on its own, while EKES gets the award for stalwartness.

Enjoyed the puzzle despite the dnf.

spacecraft 6:43 PM  


Blade 3:45 PM  

On the topic of misreads: I got hung up on 39A, having misread it as "more than a court filling," so I was thinking tennis, basketball court surfaces. When the grid filled with MOTION, I was incredulous. Re-read the clue more closely, and, appropriately, face-palmed. I guess I should watch more crappy sit-coms. I added 5 minutes to my solve time tracking down TESS/TOT vs. the correct JESS/JOT.

LenFuego 2:25 PM  

I filled in SDST rather than SDSU for the Aztec school. That made the cross TAT rather than TAU, and there is such thing as a TAT particle: Given the school's official name is California State University at San Diego, I am giving myself full credit.

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