Competitor of Blue Bell / THU 10-3-19 / 2008 Beijin Olympics stadium / 2010 Denzel Washington title role /

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Constructor: Ricky Cruz

Relative difficulty: Easy (4:41, felt faster)

THEME: MIRROR — theme answers are all "___ MIRROR" but instead of the word MIRROR's appearing in the grid, the first word is instead (literally) mirrored, i.e. spelled backward:

Theme answers:
  • Daily Mirror => DAILY YLIAD (be sure to read a little of the Yliad every day!)
  • Vanity mirror => VANITY YTINAV (Sultry Russian spy!)
  • One-way mirror => ONE-WAY YAW ENO (Musician Brian keeps pulling to the right!)
  • "Black Mirror" => BLACK KCALB (No idea!)
Word of the Day: Zombie (63A: Ingredient in a zombie = RUM) —

• • •

Slow start, but then whooooosh. Normally, I love that click of getting the theme and the acceleration that follows, but on this once the acceleration was neck-snapping, as I went from having only the front ends of themers to being able to fill all of them in completely, which I did in one giant rush. This means that the aha moment is pretty distinct, which is nice, but after that moment, there's nothing left. There's one joke, not four, and the whole thing goes up in smoke far too quickly. The grid overall is pretty average, without much to recommend it in terms of sparkle, so the overall experience is not that satisfying—like getting a piece of candy instead of a meal. I like candy, but I want more, and also dinner.

There is no such thing as NOCARBS, and I am going to die on that hill over and over like some kind of hill-dying Russian Doll. No diets are NOCARBS. None. Zero. Stop using this stupid-ass incorrect phrase. I don't object to Spanish in the puzzle, but 7-letter Spanish words (or any foreign word that isn't grade-A familiar to English speakers) is pushing it (7D: Open: Sp. => ABIERTO). Last time you saw OUVERT in the NYTXW was in 1993 — for a reason. Unshockingly, ABIERTO is a debut. Do people really say YIPE without the terminal "S"? (64A: "Holy cow!") I guess I can kinda hear it, maybe, but my initial reaction to seeing it in a grid is always "really?" Like seeing YIKE. Seems incomplete. The answer that took me longest to get was, weirdly, the first one I tried to get: 1A: Queen or king, e.g. (PIECE). They are definitely chess PIECEs, so OK, but I wanted only bed-related answers. Also, staying in that corner, [Bankrupted] is a very specific way of cluing ENDED, so that took a second. Once I got out of there, though, I basically sailed down the west coast, getting the fronts of themers. Wanted DAILY MAIL for the first themer, but that didn't fit; then wanted ONEWAY MIRROR for the third themer, but the crosses on MIRROR didn't work. I *knew* "BLACK MIRROR" was right, and that's when the theme dawned on me—all the way down there. Then, as I say, it was all over but the shouting (can't shout in my neighborhood after 10pm or there would Definitely be cops coming to your door).

OK, gotta go watch the end of this Rays/A's game. I hope it's still competitive [checks score] OK, 5-1, that's *kinda* competitive. Going in. See you.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:07 AM  

Medium. Like Rex I didn’t totally catch on until BLACK mirror which is an interesting series. Just about right for a Thurs., liked it. Nice debut.

Joaquin 12:07 AM  

Sometimes, when get up in the morning and look in the mirror I say to myself, “That can’t be right.”

thehumanist 12:16 AM  

Pedal? PEDAL???????

JOHN X 12:29 AM  

Way too easy.

beam aims north 12:50 AM  

I'm going to defend ABIERTO on the grounds that I've never learned any Spanish beyond Sesame Street, and yet I still remember abierto and cerrado from my late-70s childhood. Google confirms that Sesame Street has had dozens of abierto/cerrado videos over the years. I'm kind of surprised it's never shown up before.

Dan Miller 12:54 AM  

I don't speak Spanish myself, but any American crossword solver has probably had enough exposure to get ABIERTO. I'm actually surprised this was its debut, given how crossword friendly it is (all those juicy vowels, and ultracommon consonants except for the B).

noparking 1:04 AM  

I think they mean step on a pedal. Not a fan of that type of clue.

Davis 2:13 AM  

Regarding YIPE: I suspect I can't embed images here, so Google "Bugs Bunny Yipe". There are some classic scenes where he uses no-S YIPE.

okanaganer 2:35 AM  

Much like @beam aims north, and @Dan Miller, I have absolutely no Spanish training or experience but ABIERTO wasn't that hard, especially with the crosses.

Rex: KCALB, kilo calories from vitamin B, maybe? The playfulness of your "Theme answers" section was a welcome relief from the typical negativity. Upbeat enough that I thought maybe there was a guest blogger.

Thanks to for links to the much acclaimed David Kwong NYT puzzle from Oct 31 2013, with a related theme, but a delicious twist on the last theme answer.

chefwen 2:43 AM  

Yesterday’s puzzle was a lot more difficult and fun than this. Once you get the theme, which was easy to see very early on, it was just O.K. lets just fill in the same word backwards. Voila, your almost done.

Like Rex said NO CARB is almost impossible and another fad diet in the making. My neighbor is into the Keto thing and no fun to cook for anymore. Don’t even think of taking my Olive bread away. Hi @GIL I.

Messed up with 35D when I slapped down arms thinking VENUS de Milo. Oops!

Robin 3:02 AM  

Clueing OTTOMAN as "Like Constantinople" is pretty effing horrid. It's like having gas chamber and A-bombs in mind as a casual event. Okay, yeah, so, it was 600 years ago... but in the year 2600, the Shoash will just a toss-off crossword clue?

Bjorn Kristiansen 3:08 AM  

I think they actually mean “pedal” like “pedal faster” like in The Goonies.

Ed C 3:20 AM  

Ditto. Any Spanish from Sesame Street is fair game.

fkdiver 4:31 AM  

All but the last pivot on "Y". I was looking for a a word ending in Y down there.

Solverinserbia 4:47 AM  

I set a record for a Thursday (10:31) because the first themer I solved totally with crosses DAILYYLIAD. Knowing the Daily Mirror is an English paper, I figured out the theme and solved all four themers immediately. The clues were all super easy when you knew the trick.

Also today is my longest streak, my first ever 6 in a row.

Lewis 5:45 AM  

People report sailing through this, but not I. For me there was much oblique and vague cluing, answers that resided in far out posts of my wheelhouse, one terrific misdirect on what Venus lacked, which I was sure was arms, and all of this stalled my discovery of the theme. After that happened much filled in, but even then I scraped and tore to the finish. From beginning to end in this puzzle, I was overcoming resistance. In other words, I loved it. Thank you so much for this, Tricky Ricky!

Hungry Mother 6:20 AM  

Another good one, in my wheelhouse for sure. Superfast because I saw the theme at once. Very nice.

amyyanni 6:48 AM  

There were several aspects of this puzzle I enjoyed, e.g., DOT & DIT, clues for OREO & TIDE, and the misleading Venus clue. Appreciate the theme: got it at Black Mirror. Haven't seen it, but have read a lot of good things. Anyone have a review?

kitshef 7:21 AM  

Could easily have been swapped with yesterday’s puzzle. I think this one was a hair easier. I had a very odd solve that took me from from the NE into all the way into the SE in about three minutes so my first themer was BLACK KCALB. Getting that allowed me to go back and get the other themers pretty quickly, and before I knew it, it was done.

Great idea for a theme, mostly well executed. That YIPE/AIRE corner could use some work – seems like there should not have been a lot of pressure there with only one themer influencing it.

Also … DULCE de leche – yum!

OffTheGrid 7:22 AM  

I had fun doing this, but could not get going in the north. I did think of mirror when I read 17A clue but didn't get the theme until I did some work in the south. I boldly put in makeuppuekam for dressing room clue. That really slowed things when I got back into the north. I didn't know ABIERTO but it helped me get SALES, which eluded me (clever clue). I had ABI_RTO and figured E was a good guess since it was Spanish. Step on it! is deceitful, not merely tricky. The ! definitely makes it mean "go fast quickly". It would have been a good clue without !. Though I liked the puzzle I must point out that none of these theme answers represents a true mirror image. VANITYYTINAV comes closest with 5 of 6 letters having the vertical symmetry needed.

Matt Messinger 7:23 AM  

This was slow until we saw the mirror-trick and then it was awfully fast. I liked all the fill except PEDAL. NOCARBS may be impossible, but I'm more amused that it bugs rex (is that why I read this blog?).

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

"In case" cluing "lest" is a stretch.

Jstarrracewalker 7:28 AM  

Agree that yesterday’s puzzle was more fun. Got the gimmick pretty quickly and the rest was just kind of a slog. However I am still unsure about 36D. If the clue really means acted upon, it seems to me it should be effected rather than affected.

Suzie Q 8:01 AM  

Will could have easily swapped today and yesterday but the date of the tribute would have been wrong of course.
I got the trick very early so my Aha moment came too soon.
Like so many others, arms was my first thought but I did find it interesting that Venus has no moon.
I'll have to look up the Eli movie as I have no idea.
As thrilled as I would be to have a puzzle published, if this was my debut I would be a little upset at the Thursday placement.
Congrats all the same Ricky Cruz.

Petri 8:07 AM  

Yesterday's puzzle was much more of a Thursday, and were it not for the date aspect, they really should have been switched

That said, it's very rare that I blitz through a Thursday with no help whatsoever, so that felt pretty great. Progress! Still enjoyed it, and liked the clues on Daily Mirror and Black MIrror, so minimal complaints.

Sam 8:09 AM  

Oy vey.

Karl Grouch 8:21 AM  

Pretty awful cluing all over this one.

Constantinople was founded in 330 AD and was the capital of the Roman and Byzantine Empire until 1453 when it fell to Mehmed II and became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Until 1923 that is, when its name was changed to Istanbul by the Neo-Turks who moved the capital to Ankara.
So citing Constantinople as an example of "Ottomanicity" is a tad stretched if not outright "pretty effing horrid" as @Robin 3:02 put it.

I also hated the clue for 67d, so much in fact that when I realized that the answer was "cup" and not "cut" I refused to change it: A dnf of Resistance!

GILL I. 8:26 AM  

We need an award for the best OREO clues.
Hoo BOY....ripped through this puppy. It certainly helped that I knew Piers Morgan was a DAILY Mirror guy. The backwards conceit was easy to unravel thanks to ABIERTO. Loves me anything espanol. I'm teaching my little Hadley Rose Spanish. Strange how she finds it more amusing than English...she's going to be just like her grandmother. Yay!
I like to work a bit harder on Thursday, but I liked this just fine. I'd rather just wilt away than give up things like BRIE, and CARBS. I've been known to say that I could live on bread, cheese and wine and be perfectly happy. @chefwen, I'm on the third baked loaf...olives coming out of my ears!
If you were ever a Twilight Zone fan, then you'd most likely enjoy BLACK Mirror. It's 21st centuryish for sure, and it might take a few episodes to watch, but it's clever. Besides, anything @jae recommends is AOK by me.
Are there still ONE WAY mirrors in an interrogation room? Doesn't everyone know by now that they're being watched? I certainly wouldn't pick my nose if left alone. That would give me away.
Put the PEDAL to the metal...and I say YIPE. By the way, WELCHS grape juice is filled with sugar. If you crave some grape then go with a good Lodi Zin.

Newboy 8:44 AM  

No two ways about this puzzleelzzup & its mirrorrorrim entries. My solve is reflected 100% in Lewis’s comments. I’d love to think that great minds.....

DavidL 8:48 AM  

Not sure why, but I got a real kick out of this theme. At first I thought it had something to do with double "Y"s - the pivot point on both DAILYYLIAD and VANITYYTINAV is at a "Y". An actual smile formed on my lips when I figured it out.

After that, it was fast.

Can someone help me out with CEL at 4 down? What is that?

@okanager 2:35: I had exactly the same experience when reading Rex's playful start of the writeup. Sounded like it had to be a guest blogger.

Dorothy Biggs 8:55 AM  

You would probably die on a NOCARB diet, given how much your body needs readily available your brain, for instance. If you didn't die, you wouldn't feel very well. I'm trying to imagine what a no carb diet would look like. You would only be allowed to eat meat and just a few vegetables, most things have carbs. That really is a common answer in these puzzles and has somehow gone unchallenged. There literally is no such thing. Low Carb, yes. Very low carb, yes. NO carb, no. Sez me while eating a bowl of oatmeal.

I loved Rex's take on getting the themer. It really was just ONE solve instead of four. My "aha" moment was wanting very badly "ONEWAY mirror" but SOYA was the turning point. Once I really decided SOYA had to be right, I checked the other themers and boy, howdy, katie bar the was fill in the blank from there.

Why do I remember my footnote learning from middle school as ET ALIa? I don't think I ever used ALII. I know I never used that, I only learned it from xword, e.g., the NYT xword.

I also thought the cluing was tortured in a few places. Clues for PEDAL, SALE, LEST, and ENDED were all wonky. I did like the clue on OREO.

BritSolvesNYT 8:56 AM  

My quickest Thursday ever (10 mins). Really liked this one!

OffTheGrid 8:57 AM  

Affected is correct in this use (36A) but I'm not sure Affected and ACTED UPON are necessarily interchangeable. Effect can be a verb but that is not the case here.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

Future crossword... 19 Across: Home of Amazon's first physical store in Massachusetts

kitshef 9:30 AM  

@Dorothy Biggs - Et alii is masculine. Et alia is gender neutral. And et aliae is feminine. Fortunately for all purposes other than crosswords, they all can be abbreviated as et al.

Sir Hillary 9:44 AM  

Good puzzle, but BOY, I didn't find it easy at all. The London tabloid eluded me, but the second themer was a snap: VANITYMIRROR. Oops. ALSO, I found ALOT of the cluing inscrutable, including much of the NNW (SALE, PAVE, EDITS). And of course I guessed wrong with ETaS. All to say, it took me forever to make a DENT up there, but I eventually got YAWN, the Y of which finally revealed the theme to me. After numerous EDITS to UNDO my mistakes, they were history, but while the final two themers were layups, I still had ALOT of trouble completing the grid.

-- I agree ABIERTO is too long for a foreign word. It was gettable with crosses, but the PAVE clue that crossed it made it harder than it needed to be.
-- RANSACK is a great entry.
-- My favorite clue: the one for OUNCE.
-- Not crazy about the clues for ENDED, EMBED and OTTOMAN. None are technically wrong, but they each seem slightly off to me.
-- Homophones at 27D, 59D and the first part of 30D.
-- @Karl Grouch: Wow, I never even thought of CUt, which of course is equally, if not more, apt. Sometimes tunnel vision is good.

Jyqm 9:46 AM  

@DavidL CEL is short for the celluloid sheets used by animators. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” is a combination live-action/animated movie.

Nancy 9:55 AM  

Oh boy, was I baffled as I struggled with those top two themers, saw the double "Y"s but then couldn't come close to completing the last half of the fill. I knew Something Strange was going on...but what? Was it something to do with "wise"?

I finally saw it at the third themer ONE WAY YAW ENO. And I almost jumped out of my chair. OMIGOD THIS IS SO BRILLIANT!!!! I went back and filled in all the baffling, previously unsolvable answers. And they all worked. And I was thrilled with myself -- thrilled, thrilled, thrilled! I was also thrilled, thrilled, thrilled with the puzzle. Complete gobbledygook until you've figured out the trick and then everything makes perfect sense.

This is one of the best puzzles I've ever done in my life! IN MY LIFE, Ricky Cruz! This is a debut??? I absolutely can't believe it. Hope to see lots, lots, lots more from you in the near future.

RooMonster 9:58 AM  

Hey All !
Nice misdirection on 29 & 48A, with the backward words being six-letters. MIRROR, six letters. I actually had VANITY mirror written in before realizing the theme.

Figured it out at BLACKKCALB, since I had B__CKKCALB. The ole brain actually realized that the second word was the first word backward. So it's not shot just yet. Went to the others and filled them in in one fell swoop.

Odd that three are YY, the fourth KK. Just an observation, not a nit. Can someone come up with another 10 letter YY mirror answer? Just curious.

How do we know 49D is true?

@DavidL 8:48
Probably already answered, by a CEL is a cartoon block, as in the Comics in the newspaper have the drawings in a box, which is a cell. Apparently it works for movies, too, in the script. At least that's my understanding. If I'm wrong (which is highly likely) someone can correct me. :-)


pabloinnh 10:06 AM  

Wrote in PIECE, continuity ensued, saw the mirror ploy at DAILYYLIAD, and finished forthwith. Easy to hit a pitch when you know it will be the same medium speed fastball over the middle of the plate every time. In fact, I was so pleased with myself that I had to sing me some Mac Davis--

Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble
When you're perfect in every way
I can't wait to look in the mirror
Cause I get better lookin' each day

Nice to see ABIERTO and DULCE de leche. Spanish rocks, per usual.

Enhorabuena, Sr. C. Nice Cruzigrama.

Z 10:41 AM  

The Same eyes
The Same lips
The Same lies from your tongue trips

I do love me some E.C.’s lyrics. And, no, a 1989 song couldn’t possibly be about his orangeness. Although, E.C.’s sentiments about Thatcher are very relatable these days.

Not sure what the problem with the OTTOMAN clue is. It was the capital city for something like 600 years, so seems fair to me. Sure, you could use the same clue for Byzantine. So what? It’s a puzzle.

Likewise, “In case” is the exact modern replacement for the slightly dated LEST. Not sure what people’s plaints about it are.

Hand up for Rex’s NO CARB rant and the gullibility of people wanting to lose weight. Fewer calories ingested and more calories burned. Anything else anyone tries to sell you is a con.

Was doing the AVCX puzzle before this and was struck by the amount of fill crossover. I don’t do as many puzzles as Rex, but the more I do the more the tired fill slaps me in the face. Short words with useful letters can’t be avoided, but an EYRE for an EYRE moments apart? YIPE.

Clover 10:47 AM  

Like the puzzle said, it’s a sci-fi anthology series (stand-alone episodes) that explores how technology has changed the world we know. It’s usually set in the not-so-distant future. Topics covered include a social credit system, a creative/cruel (depending on your opinion) new take on the criminal justice system, and dating apps that use virtual reality. I think it’s excellent and for the most part is not super heavy-handed with the whole technology doomsday thing. Although it leans to the darker side (especially in the earlier [and better] seasons), there are a couple of feel good episodes as well that illustrate a more optimistic view of futurism.

I’d suggest starting with the first season and working your way up to the most recent. Even though the episodes stand alone, there are often little nods or references to other episodes that make them more fun to watch in order.

DO NOT start with the very first episode, the pilot. Skip it and thank me later.

jberg 10:58 AM  

It took me two steps to get the theme—first the backward YLIAD from crosses, so I figured it was a themers-written-backward puzzle. This almost made it tougher, as I thought maybe 11D and 36D might be written backwards as well. Then I started to get the YYs, and eventually VANITY YTINAV, and the rest fell into place.

I’ve never seen a footnote with more than ET AL., and I’ve never seen DULCE de leche used as an ice cream topping, rather than an ice cream flavor. I’ve always just eaten by itself, with a spoon.

ABIERTO is a fine word, but for some reason I put in a u instead of I—probably the unconscious influence of a abuelo.

I say yikes with an s, YIPE without one.

Ethan Taliesin 11:00 AM  

It was a record time for me though I got no sense of accomplishment (or "achomlishment" for you MAGA people, if you get the reference).

The gimmick was solid but as others have pointed out, once you get the first one the rest are stupidly easy. I also agree with others about the poor clue phrasing for PEDAL. I'm agreeable today.

The NYT puts a rebus in a Wednesday on occasion, why not run this as a Tuesday? Good idea, Ethan!

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

"In case" cluing "lest" is a stretch.

Should have been slam dunk for OFL, who only speaks Shakespeare.

Oy vey.

That's not Shakespeare!!

Strictly speaking (I think) CELs no longer are made, since animation is CGI, and hand painted CELs aren't done. But animated frames might still be referred to that way by the industry. Don't know.

Troy from Maine 11:08 AM  

I speak pretty good Spanish but I have to agree going for every day words (open) in another tongue is not good play. I am OK with Latin, it has a place and French too having been the language of choice for diplomacy and the intelligentsia, but espanol, nah not so much.

The Mirror is a national newspaper not a London one.

A lot of Altos.

TJS 11:15 AM  

@ROO, feel like looking this up, but I think "cel" refers to old time cartoons wher each scene was drawn on celluloid with slight variation to simulate movement when projected. I believe individual cels from iconic Disney classics, etc. have become collectors items. Hard to consider the amount of work required by animators back in those days to produce a "Snow White" or "Bambi". Not sure if "Roger Rabbit" would have been created in this manner since animation is now computer-produced.
Hey Roo, "One fell swoop" !! Haven't heard that one in a long time. Wonder how many of our commenters have heard that one before.

CDilly52 11:29 AM  

Haha! I think @Lewis and I must be distantly related. Our opinions have been so very similar lately. I thoroughly enjoyed the Venus misdirect, and the PEDAL misdirect was in my opinion also a fine and fair clue. Sure, would have been easier without the ! at the end, but c’mon, it works either way. [you] step on ‘it’, i.e. what does one step on? Or, step on it! Go faster! Either way, obviously depending on mode of transport in the latter example, the answer relates. In fact, when I had no earthly idea on 1A, PEDAL, was my first entry. For some crazy reason, I was certain that was the answer.

I got the theme immediately when I couldn’t fit ‘mirror’ in at 17A because I knew of Piers Morgan’s stint and sacking (as the Brits would say) as editor. Said to self. “Self, it’s Thursday, and we were ‘rebused’ yesterday so...must be YLIAD.” Sure enough, 18D confirmed with what created a verrrrry telling double Y in 17A. No more theme consternation.

However, I was still slow because it took the entire puzzle for me finally to fill 1A and PIECES baffled me to the very last, even after I was certain he was talking about chess! Never called them anything but chess men, like the Pepperidge Farm cookies. And I tripped on Venus even though (and supported by the other misdirects) my brain told me “no way it’s arms!!” Alas, had my husband been here, he immediately would have gotten it and “MOON” would have seemed the normal answer to his scientific-math-teacher-amateur-astronomer brain. We were a fabulous crossword team.

Thoroughly enjoyed the solve today. Congrats to Mr. Cruz. A very clever and appropriate to the day debut.

Noam D. Elkies 11:31 AM  

"RooMonster" asks how do we know 49D is true (Solomon was the WISEST Biblical king). The Bible tells us (1 Kings 3:12) that God promised Solomon "a wise and an understanding heart; so that there hath been none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee." That makes him the wisest person, and a fortiori the wisest King. If we accept clues for ABEL or ESAU that hinge on details of the Biblical story then this clue for WISEST is kosher too.

Puzzle was fun; I filled in ONE WAY MIRROR and DAILY ?LIAD from crosses, then wondered what a DAILY ILIAD was until 18D:YAWN forced YLIAD and the that made the theme clear.

There used to be an Yreka Bakery in California (one of many such tidbits I learned from Martin Gardner's books; he also mentioned an Yllera Gallery). But that wouldn't quite fit the theme.


marty 11:40 AM  

1D initially had me looking for a rebus. PEDAL [to the metal] could be something though. So, I tried spying potential out squares that might be metals.

OPEN/ABIERTO is on a ton of store doors, especially those that also do business in southern states with large hispanic populations. Regardless, it's very reasonable to expect erudite solvers to know such a useful Spanish adjective.

Carola 11:54 AM  

Medium here. PIECE x PEDAL got me off to a quick start, and I soon saw DAILYYLIAD - but without understanding the reversal: I get all of my royals-related trash from the DAILY Mail and had forgotten about the other big DAILY*. It took VANITY to jog my brain into realizing that we were talking about various sorts of mirrors. Then ONE-WAY came easily, but I needed lots of crosses for the last one: somehow I've missed talk of BLACK MIrror.
*As a Flanders and Swann fan, I should have remembered their lament, "O tempora, o mores! O Times, O Daily Mirror!"

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

Where do people live that they don't encounter abierto on the door of close to 50% of retail establishments?

William of Ockham 11:59 AM  

"Black Mirror" => BLACK KCALB (No idea!)

Yiddish Dog, maybe even a dyslexic one

Speed of light on this one

YIPE, however is cheap

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

Neither the clues nor Rex note the reverse spellings. Seems a bit sloppy.

JC66 12:12 PM  

@Anonymous 11:57 said

"Where do people live that they don't encounter abierto on the door of close to 50% of retail establishments?"


71st & B'way, NYC. (If it's there, I haven't noticed it).

Masked and Anonymous 12:13 PM  

Cute exploration of the mirror-image theme mcguffin genre. Best ahar moment = RUM, which gets staff weeject pick of the day. RUM's N-S mirror image word (at end of 22-A) is: RED, presented mirror-backwards. RED-RUM! Bit of a stretch? yeah, thought so. But kindasorta cool.

Gotta give ABIERTO a hand for effort. ABIERTO tried real hard to double-fog up the themers, at our house. But once we had VANI?YY???AV in place, that sneaky theme idea popped right up, like a Venus MOON-rise.
The themers got pretty darn easy to nail down, after that -- just as the @RPmeister himself experienced.

fave fillins included: ENMASSE. WELCHS. BIRDSNEST. (RED)RUM.
Primo lead-off clue for PIECE. Noteworthy-in-a-weird-way DOT clue, too boot.
fave mirror image themer part = YAWENO. As already covered, by other tasteful Comment Gallery folks.

Just betcha I know what @Muse darlin's instinctive answer to 1-D's {Step on it!} clue would be…
[rhymes with "wink hug"]

Thanx and congratz, Mr. Cruz. Strong debut cruzpuz … lotsa stuff to reflect on.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

Whatsername 12:14 PM  

This was fun and a nice variation for Thursday, especially since I got my rebus fix for the week yesterday. It was an easy theme to pick up on since mirrors automatically came to mind. Never heard of the Netflix show, but by that time the theme was already a given so just filled in the blanks. Like many others, I had VENUS being sans arms, nice one there. Every summer I do my best to eat my weight in homegrown tomatoes but didn’t know they tasted like UMAMI which was a new word for me. My only nitpick is that DOT is not an agency; the D stands for Department. That may seem like a quibble to some, but in the structure of government it is an important distinction. The U.S. DOT is a division of the Presidential Cabinet and consists of about a dozen agencies/administrations, only some of which have to do with roadways.

Anonymoose 12:33 PM  

Copied from @Rex: THEME: MIRROR — theme answers are all "___ MIRROR" but instead of the word MIRROR's appearing in the grid, the first word is instead (literally) mirrored, i.e. spelled backward:

puzzlehoarder 12:40 PM  

It's KYJELLYYLLEJYK puzzle Thursday. I'm commenting a little late today as I had to wet vac 32 gallons of seepage out of my basement this morning. A rainy night here in Chicago.

A very easy solve in spite of the time I wasted in the NW. I'm not that familiar with Piers Morgan or his paper. I was baffled as to the theme inspite of completing that first themer off of the crosses. Moving on I came into 29 from the East and the trick was obvious. From there on the puzzle was early week easy.

Am I crazy!? 12:42 PM  

First, let me say that I REALLY enjoyed this puzzle and I'm throwing this out there and was a bit stunned no one has said anything. Here it is: Aren't ALL mirrors "one-way"? However, most WINDOWS are two-way, except in a police station where you look through the WINDOW but they can't see you but only see a MIRROR. Anyway, before I got the conceit I wrote in "one-way window." Discussion?

Anoa Bob 12:44 PM  

Initially I thought that YLIAD in the first themer (17A) might be a variation on Homer's "Iliad". Then the YTINAV at 29A cleared that up and made half of the next two themers automatic.

Agree with @OffTheGrid that they aren't truly mirror images. In order to qualify for genuine mirror images, not only the order of letters but the letters themselves would need to be backwards. I recall seeing this issue before in a puzzle, maybe it was the 2013 puzzle mentioned by okanaganer @2:35.

Hereabouts in TexMex Land, it's common to see "Open/ABIERTO" signs in businesses 24/7. It doesn't mean that they are ABIERTO right then but that they are still in business in general so if they aren't there now, come back tomorrow.

A constant in my life of 70+ years has been a steady parade of one fad diet after another. If any of these actually worked, we would be a nation of slim and healthy people. Hardly the case.

People who are stranded at sea for long periods are forced to survive on a NO CARB diet. They can get protein and fat from plankton, fish and seabirds. But they will eventually get sick and die from a lack of foods with CARBohydrates. It's not so much a lack the CARBs themselves but a lack of the vitamins and minerals that come along with CARB rich foods that does the harm.

QuasiMojo 1:23 PM  

@JC66, I used to live at 71st and Bway. Best location ever. As for ABIERTO, considering the last debate had three candidates speaking Spanish and one of the hosts speaking groups in Spanish, it hardly seems out of the ordinary to have a Spanish word in the NYT. We have Yiddish, French, Indian and Russian all the time, not to mention Hebrew, Latin and Greek.

Teedmn 1:27 PM  

While others were sailing through today's puzzle, I was hauling away on the oars for all I was worth. Mostly, it was the weird cluing in the top central that held me up. ("Make way? = PAVE? VIA as a connecting word?). Somehow, I missed reading 6D; such a gimme would have surely allowed me to see the trick much earlier. As it was, I threw down YAWN but eventually took it back out; the clue for SALE was so weird and two other of the letters were unknown-as-yet theme answers so I couldn't confirm YAWN's correctness.

A scripto of EYeE in 27D held me up from seeing OREO for the longest time but after I fixed that, I finally had VA___YYTI_NA_ in place at 29A and saw the mirror effect which is all one needs on this puzzle.

I didn't know tomatoes belonged to the UMAMI taste group. Perhaps that explains why I love them so much that I eat one at dinner nearly every day, year round. With fall arriving, I'm back to buying them in the store though :-(.

Ricky Cruz, congratulations on your debut with this DULCE de leche of a puzzle.

Wonderin' out loud 1:50 PM  

@ Am I crazy?, I wondered about that as well. What DO you call that window that is a mirror on one side?

@ Anoa Bob, What do people who live in the arctic do? Honest question with no sarcasm.

JC66 1:50 PM  


I live in the Dorilton. Where did you live?

Joe Dipinto 1:51 PM  

Decent debut puzzle. Didn't give me an undue sense of 58 Across.

Blue Stater 1:59 PM  


kitshef 2:13 PM  

@ Am I crazy? - I think of most mirrors as zero-way mirrors. Light does not pass through it in either direction. I can't see who's on the other side of it, and they can't see me. In the police station, they still can't see me, but I can see them. Light passes through in one direction, but not the other.

Nancy 2:17 PM  

Wow, @JC66 (1:50 p.m.) -- That is ONE GORGEOUS BUILDING!!!!!

Joe Dipinto 2:20 PM  

@am I crazy & wonderin' -- it *is* called a one-way mirror. It's actually a window that has a coating on one side. When that side is viewed from within a brightly illuminated space, the space is reflected back on the viewer as if from a mirror. Viewed from the other side, in darkness, it operates like a normal window.

kitshef 2:26 PM  

@okanaganer - thanks for pointing me to that 2013 puzzle. What a hoot!

GILL I. 2:31 PM  

Now that we know where @JC lives, can we come over for a drink?

Anoa Bob 2:48 PM  

@Wonderin' out loud, I've often wondered about that since they are unable to grow any veggies or fruits. Here's what wiki says about that CARB challenge that is faced by those in the ARTIC such as the Inuit:

"While it is not possible to cultivate native plants for food in the Arctic, Inuit have traditionally gathered those that are naturally available,[3][4][5][6][7][8][9] including:
Berries including crowberry and cloudberry
Herbaceous plants such as grasses and fireweed
Tubers and stems including mousefood, roots of various tundra plants which are cached by voles in underground burrows.
Roots such as tuberous spring beauty and sweet vetch

Maybe these folks have adapted over the millennia to survive on a lower CARB diet.

I've been following nutrition science for over forty years and to my knowledge, the only diet that has received empirical evidence for its health giving properties is the Mediterranean Diet. Here's what The Mayo Clinic says about it.

JC66 2:54 PM  


Thanks. It was built in 1901 and was the second apartment building on the Upper West Side (after The Dakota). However, when I moved in, almost 30 years ago, it was very run down and right across the street from what was the called "Needle Park" (because of heavy drug use/selling). We worked hard to make the building and the neighborhood nice again.


You're always welcome!

QuasiMojo 2:55 PM  

@JC66 across the street in the Alamac. :) not as fancy, but I'm told Salinger set one of his stories in it.

beverley 2:56 PM  

Fun puzzle! The mirror part took a little time, but then: aha!
As a bilingual Canadian, I have to disagree with Rex re ABIERTO. I don’t think Americans should know long *French* words, but I DO feel that at least basic Spanish should be a part of all Americans’ awareness. The word for “open” is pretty darn basic: shops are abiertas/cerradas all over the US, por ejemplo/!

Fred Wollam 3:04 PM  

...set an alarm lest I doze off. alarm in case I doze off.


T Xensen 4:10 PM  

Tuesday easy -- but Constantinople was Byzantine, Istanbul was Ottoman.

Joe Dipinto 4:30 PM  

@JC66 and @Quasi – I used to know that area pretty well. I worked at ASCAP across from Lincoln Center in the early 80s, and had a friend who lived in a brownstone on W. 69th and another who lived in the Ansonia on 73rd. There was Gray's Papaya on the corner of 72nd (which I think is still there?) and Empire Szechuan on Columbus Ave. And a pizza joint on either 70th or 71st just off Columbus that was down some steps from the sidewalk. I don't remember the name but the pizza was really good. And yes, Needle Park was to be avoided.

Z 4:55 PM  

Blogger Z said...
@T Xensen - Uh, no. Istanbul is Turkish.

jae 5:03 PM  

Ditto on skipping the pilot

Wonderin' out loud 5:22 PM  

Thanks all from the artic!

Unknown 5:39 PM  

Had liege fir 1 across. Gave me gel, which i thought could work, but 1 d was a stumper.

iamjess 6:01 PM  

@anoa As the forum's resident Alaskan, I can say that folks in the Arctic gather berries and other greens in the summer. Berries can be frozen and eaten all year-around. Fun fact: A special treat is "Eskimo ice cream" which traditionally was made from blubber and berries, eaten frozen. Nowadays we make it out of crisco and add sugar.

iamjess 6:25 PM  

I meant that to be @Wonderin'

GILL I. 6:36 PM  

I'll bring Talisker and some duck pate. I bet there's' a deli close by that can provide a good baguette?
I used to live on 98th and Broadway. It was "cierra la window porque esta rainando" territory. ABIERTO everywhere......

QuasiMojo 7:31 PM  

@JoeDiPinto, do you mean Vinny's Pizza? I think it was on Amsterdam. 73rd. Great neighborhood. Did you ever eat at Ying's? "You Got Mail" was shot partly in the cheese shop near the Occitante shop. I had friends in the Ansonia too.

chefwen 7:46 PM  

@JC66, I’ll bring a Pu pu platter.

retired guy 8:31 PM  

for those who had trouble with 7D: Come to Washington and ride the Metro... sometimes your estación is cerrada, and sometimes it is abierta...

Joe Dipinto 8:33 PM  

Yay, par-tay at @JC66's place! @GILL – we can hit Zabar's for bread and whatever else.

@Quasi -- it wasn't called Vinny's. It was on the south side of either 70th or 71st, right off the corner of Columbus, going toward the park. This was in the mid-late 1980s. There was also a diner on the corner of 69th and Broadway we used to eat at. I don't remember Ying's.

Hank 9:20 PM  

The word "lest" has fallen out of general use. It can usually be replaced with "should" or even "if" and either of those would have been a better clue (in my opinion).

I did not see that answer, but I believe it is clued correctly. It does seem archaic. Maybe it's found more often across the pond. You know, the DAILY YLIAD

Nancy 9:53 PM  

Gee, all you Westsiders and former Westsiders are making me feel deprived living all the way over here on the east side in the Carnegie Hill area. Time for a brisk walk through the park to the West 70s.

I'll bring the smoked Atlantic salmon. And maybe a nice French Raclette -- a very nice cheese that I've only recently discovered.

GILL I. 10:18 PM  

@Joe....Of course...Zabar's!!!
@JC66. How kind of you to invite all of us bloggers to your mansion for some Pu Pu et allii. I'm hoping we can have some songs from @pablo, @Joe and the rest of you....@Roo can drive us? Everyone else can add their contributions.
See what you did, @Nancy? You're so kind.....

RooMonster 10:34 PM  

Well, @Gill I, it may take me a minute or two to get to NYC!



GILL I. 10:35 PM  

Oops, I'm doing a @Z and going over my allotment. Can't leave out @Quasi to the singers. We need a fourth to make a quartet. Any one?

Former Upper West Banker 10:45 PM  

There was a Ray’s Pizza on NE corner 72nd/Columbus across from Ottamanelli’s in the 1980s. Vinny’s was, as described , at 73rd/Amsterdam. I can’t remember a pizzeria in 70th or 71st east of Columbus Ave. Don’t get me started on Malachy’s.

Charles 11:03 PM  

Okay, why is -aire a frigid suffix?

JC66 11:30 PM  



Wordsmith 11:43 PM  

Frigidaire. Once so common that it was used as a synonym for refrigerator.

Joe Dipinto 11:44 PM  

Okay I did some googling and there is currently a place called Big Nick's at 70 W. 71st, which seems to be part pizzeria, part diner. From its spot on Google Maps I'm positive this is the location of the place I mean, but I don't think that was the name of it then. The interior layout looks more or less the same from the photos. It doesn't have steps leading inside but they could have changed the entrance. And the old place had only a pizzeria menu, no diner food. Anyway...

JC66 11:57 PM  

@Joe D

Yeah, I remember the place, but not the name. My future wife and I went there for dinner after being interviewed by the co-op board. It turned out to be a mere formality, but she ended up drinking more than I did to relieve the built up tension.

I Miss the City (but tuitions are too high so I moved to Westchester) 12:02 AM  

Remember Ruppert’s (sic) on Columbus between 72nd and 73rd ? Halcyon days.

spacecraft 10:37 AM  

60-down: Device for checking out your core? OK, AB mirror is a stretch, but I love those little theme lagniappes. And today, ABBA is also the source for our DODs: either or both.

I was going to rail about NOCARBS, but now it feels like piling on. 'Nuff said there. Some clues have been cited as stretches, but no one has mentioned the one that made me go "Huh?": how does "At that" translate to ALSO?? I would really like some help on that, because try as I might I can make absolutely no sense of it.

I didn't glom onto the theme right away, so The NW was left half-done. Came to a pause at EYRE and YEN; knew something was amiss but...then as I fleshed out the NE it became apparent that there was "backwardsing" going on--and that's when it hit me. A truly prize-winning aha! moment. The rest fell fairly quickly, though I haven't heard of BLACK Mirror.

The stale OREO was at least saved by an original clue, and that's about it for the nits. This is first rate work IMO, and I'm pleased to award Mr. Cruz' debut with an eagle. Ricky don't lose that number!

Burma Shave 11:29 AM  


I think ‘TIS a DAILY dose of VANITY
that on ANEW day she’d UNDO what she WORE.


rondo 12:02 PM  

Anyone else have pewtER before SOLDER? It was made from lead and tin in the olden days. Before they realized the lead would kill ya. Inkfest there. Caught on to the ‘mirror’ deal at the VANITY answer. Three themers are WISE (YY) with the KK breaking that pattern, so only 3 Ys, man.

Nice Steely Dan reference by @spacey.

Didn’t realize that Vivaldi was a contemporary of Bond girl Barbara BACH. Or is it Daisy Duke portrayer Catherine BACH?

Mirror, mirror on the grid, in the DAILY puz I did. Har.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

No "abierto" on any doors in Weed Patch, North Dakota. Not that I've noticed...

rainforest 2:57 PM  

Sweet puzzle, and a debut "at that". How's that for jazz, @Spacey? I didn't miss the Steely Dan ref either, @rondo. In that vein, Stephen Colbert tossed off "take that big black cow and get out of here" the other night.

Started at the top, figuring out whether 1A was "royal" or PIECE. PEDAL solved that for me, but, moving Southwards, it took until ONEWAY--- to get the aha (a real one with a !). After that, smoothness ensued until I hit TIDE/DULCE, a crossing that took ages to parse, mainly because I thought "gin" was in a zombie.

Every time I think that all themes have been explored, here come a new one. Excellent, especially for a first-timer. Btw, I detest Piers Morgan.

leftcoast 4:49 PM  

Lost my most excellent comments. Anyway....

Broke through the ONEWAY[MIRROR], picked up the PIECEs and put them "all together" (EN MASSE).

Thought at first the theme might have something to do with the double letters: YYs, KKs, etc. Well, it did, but only insofar as the mirrored letters were concerned, which was not very far.

Noteworthies: ABIERTO was a Spanish lesson. Couldn't quite fathom TIDE as coming in pods. YIPE missing an S at the end. OREO still amazes me with the many different ways it can be clued. Finally, SALE as "$$$ Off!" time.

This was fun

Diana, LIW 7:09 PM  

got the joke early on - ha, ha, ha.

but then the lOCARBS diet made a mess of the mid-west, so I dnf'd there.

Diana, LIW

strayling 7:42 PM  

Nice theme related playfulness in this one. To WELCH is to go BACH on a deal?

rondo 9:28 PM  

@Strayling - what a grape comment, music to my ears

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