Central courtyards / WED 11-27-19 / Dreamcast maker of old / Diktat / Sci-fi sighting

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Hi, everyone! It's Clare. I'm coming to ya a day later than usual because it was Rex's birthday yesterday. (Happy birthday, Rex!) And, to all of you: Happy almost Turkey Day! I know I'm planning on making lots and lots of pies and bread rolls and mashed potatoes. (Carbs for the win.) Studying for finals can wait a few days, right? Anywho, doing a write-up on a Wednesday is gonna be a bit different for me, but here it goes!

Constructors: Jeff Chen and Matthew Sewell

Relative difficulty: Pretty challenging for a Wednesday

THEME: GROWTH POTENTIAL (55A: Ability of a company to expand ...  or a hint to this puzzle's theme) and POT (65A: Herb garden vessel ... as depicted four times by black squares in this puzzle) — Black squares in the puzzle represent pots that have circled letters sitting in them that spell out "seed," which have the potential to grow into herbs that are shown in the shaded squares.

Theme answers:
  • PECCADILLOES (2D: Minor indiscretions)
  • MESSAGE BOARD (10D: Where trolls may lurk)
  • ARCHIVE SITE (23D: Where records of old web pages can be accessed)
  • IM IN THE ZONE (24D: Declaration from someone on a hot streak)
Word of the Day: Lenya LOTTE (17A: Singer/actress Lenya)

Lotte Lenya (18 October 1898 – 27 November 1981) was an Austrian-American singer, diseuse, and actress, long based in the United States. In the German-speaking and classical music world, she is best remembered for her performances of the songs of her first husband, Kurt Weill. In English-language cinema, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as a jaded aristocrat in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961). She also played the murderous and sadistic Rosa Klebb in the James Bond movie From Russia with Love (1963). (Wiki)
• • •

I wish I had nice things to say for my first time writing for a Wednesday, but... I don't... I generally like when constructors try to be creative with the theme and the structure, but I felt like this theme just didn't work. There was so much going on with the seeds — well, "seed," but that's a different issue — and growth potential and the pots and the structure that I felt it got too chaotic. Trying to figure out how to write the above description for the theme was legitimately the hardest part of this write-up and the hardest time I've ever had describing a theme. Overall, my biggest gripe was that the picture in the grid as the theme created some ugly fill. Sure, there were some nice, long downs in the puzzle, but the black pots or whatever they were created a lot of ugly three-letter fill, especially in the bottom of the puzzle. It's like the constructors tried to throw every single possible three-letter crossword-y word into the mix. (See: GAP; RHO; OAT; AHA; POT; IMP; ABE; LAW; MBA; PEW).

I also feel like there should be some sort of dictionary for how to consistently spell words in crosswords. It seems like there should be, oh, I don't know, an editor or something whose job it is to create a generic style. Like, I definitely think that NAN (25A: Tandoori bread) should be spelled "naan" every time. When I Google "nan brea," it even suggests I spell it like "naan" instead and only gives me results to spell it that way. Also, I think that UPSY daisy (18A) is much more commonly spelled like "oopsy daisy" or "oopsie daisy." Mostly, I'd really just love some consistency.

  • In my opinion, VAN GOGH is the best artist ever. Side note: I highly recommend watching the episode of "Doctor Who" about Van Gogh ("Vincent and the Doctor"). You will cry in the final scene (where Van Gogh gets to travel to present day to see the impact he's had).
  • I enjoyed the little "legal" bits of the puzzle with PLEA at 15A and LAW at 61D.
  • FIAT (53A: Diktat) is something other than a car? Who knew?
With that, I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!

Signed, Clare Carroll, an excited Thanksgiving baker

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 3:01 AM  

Easy-medium. This was just odd enough to be delightful, liked it.

No idea EMU EGGs were canvases.

Abigail 4:17 AM  

100% agreed on naan bread. When I got the first 'N' I thought, "Oh no. We're going to have 'nan' bread, aren't we?" Nan bread sounds like something made out of grandmothers. It should be naan! I was also thrown off by 'upsy' daisy. I had gotten all the acrosses in that corner, and didn't check 'CPUS,' so I had 'CPOS' when I finished, and it told me I had an error. Had a bit of trouble spotting it. Sigh. But overall, thought it was a fun, easy-ish Wednesday puzzle. Happy Thanksgiving, Clare!

Loren Muse Smith 5:14 AM  

I couldn’t disagree more, Clare. Early on I saw the plants growing and couldn’t wait to see what would justify having the unchecked letters. That they spell SEED and that they’re in little pots just pleased the crap out of me. This is such a cute little puzzle.

I wanted “oopsie,” too, but then I remembered all the times my husband and I almost pulled our son’s arms out of socket by going One, two, three UPSY daisy! and then swinging him up and out while he shrieked. In retrospect, I wonder if it was a happy shriek, actually.

I’m glad to learn the meaning of PECCADILLO. I had no idea; it could’ve meant nasty little self-serving liar for all I knew. Or the street name for Peyronie’s disease (of the crooked cucumbers, carrots and zucchini commercial fame.)

I recently saw the funniest meme on COLON. It goes:

A colon can completely change the meaning of a sentence. For example:
Jane ate her friend’s lunch.
Jane ate her friend’s colon.

NOOBS is just too rich not to give a second look. Hellooo fifth grade and a trip to Penney’s with Mom because the cotton undershirt is just not gettin’er done anymore.

WeesaSuzi 5:15 AM  

A bit faster than my average. Saw the herbs and pots right off, but didn’t notice the SEED until I got here. A mixed bag for me, and another "no" vote for NAN. Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Rexians!

B. Johnson 6:06 AM  

Nan = Naan? Nah!

NAN is a term of affection for a grandmother or grandmother figure - especially here in the UK (or what will be left of it after BREXIT).

I would never eat my NAN - or her ever just her COLON, for that matter.

Lewis 6:08 AM  

Hah! What a quirky little gem! A salad of circles, gray areas, seedpods, herbs growing out of their pots, unusual grid symmetry -- a cornucopia of freshness!

You have tended this one well, sirs, and for a fun solve, and for a reminder that a winter of discontent is always followed by spring, I thank you!

George 6:21 AM  

"Upsy-Daisy" is an entirely different thing from "oopsie-daisy." It's something you say while playing with a child, lifting them up, etc. Absolutely checks out in my book

amyyanni 6:30 AM  

@LMS, exactly my experience, right down to Penney's. Hope you get to enjoy some R&R over Thanksgiving. This was fun, but the amount of fill reminded me of weeds. May everyone traveling or awaiting travelers end up happily together.

Bageleater 6:49 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle. Sometimes Rex and his cohorts are a little too fussy. I agree about NAAN, but always thought it was UPSY-DAISY. Could this be a regional thing, like “soda” and “pop?”

Anonymoose 6:56 AM  

Yes. Let this not become a thing on the blog today.

Brian 7:01 AM  

Easy Wednesday but abstruse theme that just wasn't fun to discover.

W. Strunk 7:11 AM  

Merriam-Webster has a very fine and comprehensive discussion on UPSY-Daisy and variant spellings that should obviate the need to make this a "thing" in today's blog. https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/word-history-upsy-daisy-oopsie-whoops-upsidaisy-definition

Victor 7:14 AM  

Ah, Clare, the general negativity of Rex is washing over you and staining your vision. I'm with LMS. Thought it cute and on the easy side for a Wednesday. Hand up for naan instead of nan (which my spellchecker won't accept). If colons are your thing, recommend "Eats Shoots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss, a wonderful riff on punctuation. A meaningful Thanksgiving to all. Go Bills.

kitshef 7:33 AM  

Felt so-so (not SI SI) about this, but can't put my finger on why. Nothing bad, and some nice long downs, but not much that made me go "cool", either. LOTTE/ASHANTI/CLASSA/IPECAC area seems likely to cause problems for some folks.

Nice misdirection on MESSAGE BOARDS (had “under a bridge” first). Also liked the clue for CPUS. Got a little worried when I had a ‘word’ ending in UEGG, but it worked out OK.

Suzie Q 7:37 AM  

I thought this was fresh fun well executed. Clare, you've been hanging around Rex too long. Thank you @ Lewis and @ LMS for the rosy analysis this puzzle deserves. For a cute stunt puzzle to work for me I ask "Can it stand alone without the gimmick?" I think this one does.
I do have a small problem with equating ignore and overlook. The first seems intentional while the second is accidental.
To me it is upsy. I always think of the Rocky and Bullwinkle episode about the anti-gravity discovery of Upsydaisyium.
I don't recall ever seeing emu egg in a grid and found the clue interesting.
Wonderful Wednesday.

JJ 7:39 AM  

Loved the puzzle. Mirror symmetry, 4 flowerpots, seeds, herbs, fun revealer, a little crosswordese to help us along. What’s not to like?

Joe 7:41 AM  

UPSY-DAISY has nothing whatsoever to do with OOPSY-DAISY. They're two entirely different phrases. The former is something you say to a child/baby when you're picking them up, tossing them in the air (and hopefully catching them), etc. The latter is just something you say when you make a mistake.

As for NAN, I don't understand why it gets the forced Indian bread clue. It is 100% spelled NAAN. No one spells it with one A except in crosswords. As someone above me pointed out, why not clue it in relation to a grandma, such as in England. I'm willing to bet more people call their grandmas "Nan" in the US that use the word NAN to refer to Indian bread.

GILL I. 7:46 AM  

This was cute. I had my first DILL in place and thought we were going to go the hamburger route. No...I guess you don't put CHIVES in those things. Hmmm what do we have here. So we get MINT and SAGE and without even thinking, I inked in HERB in the little circle. Dang...it's SEED in a POT. Clever.
Yeah, I'm an oopsie naan gal. I do like COLON and DETOX. Made me think of Gwenyth Paltrow and her coffee enemas. She's a hoot, donja know.
My favorite was the EMU EGG. I went to a Renaissance Fair in Sausalito many moons ago and saw a display of decorated chicken eggs. They were carefully etched and then dipped in a clear epoxy in order to preserve them. I asked the artist what her technique was but she wouldn't disclose it. So I went home and blew out the innards of about 6 dozen eggs and went to work. It's very hard. Once you do the discard bits, you let them dry and then go to work. I painted mine. I had to figure out which paints worked and hoped they wouldn't run. Then you have to dip them in a clear type glue. I wasn't dating anyone at the time so I had plenty of idle hours to work on those eggs. My favorite was a Renaissance figure of a man playing a lute. It broke. I cried. Then my step-mom gave me an ostrich EGG and I decided to try and carve it. The experience was exhilarating. No Mr. Google in those days to tell me what I was doing wrong. You need special tools and a lot of patience. It, too, cracked. I have nothing but admiration for the Aborigines and their EMU EGG carvings.
Liked the SPEW PEW the TAN NAN and the AHA HAH. This was fun.
I'm on pumpkin pie duty and I'm also making olive bread. Safe and happy Thanksgiving to all....
Thanks, Clare.

Crimson Devil 7:57 AM  

Kinda enjoyed this, and being reminded of Lynn Truss’ Eats, Shoots....her sequel Talk to the Hand is also hilarious.

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

MBA is not a typical degree for an entrepreneur, if one is degreed at all. MBAs are corporate types, sometimes derided as desk-bound paper pushers.

pabloinnh 7:58 AM  

Hooray for being able to say "stunt puzzle" again. Jumped right in with PECCADILLOES (thanks Spanish), although the word I know for "sin" is "pecado" and the plural would have neither a double c or an e before the s. And of course the."illo" is a diminutive ending, so just a small sin. Great word.

I liked the plants growing out of the pots and the seeds, and any puzzle that somehow gets to use EMUEGG is aces with me. The audacity of that one made me smile.

Thanks for a fun Wednesday, guys. I'm thankful for OFL and all the time he puts into this, and to all you contributors who make this such a fun part of my day.

Also, 150 miles from Natick.

Happy T-Day to all.

Clover 8:01 AM  

Wasn’t planning on posting today but now I’m feeling the need to offset some of my fellow commenters. Clare, I couldn’t have agreed with you more. Thought the puzzle was aesthetically chaotic and made for some not great fill. Nice write up!

Unrelated: Got totally screwed in the NW with SHASTA, PECCADILLOES, EES, SCOW, and IPECAC. But at least I got the opportunity to learn some new words!

QuasiMojo 8:15 AM  

I found this Ultra easy and supremely dull. I couldn't believe when it was over that I was left with just a bunch of boring herbs. Was hoping at least for some parsley, rosemary and thyme. Speaking of which, mine was close to a new record for a Wednesday. My only hiccup was thinking it was "gift of GAB" not gag. The one time I gave someone a gag gift I came across it later in the garbage. I always bring something beautiful and useful now. Perhaps a painting of "Starry Night" done on an emu egg?

Z 8:16 AM  

It really does help if you learn to embed your valuable disquisition on UPSY-daisy, especially when the link is long and hard to copy.

NAN “bread” would be easier to swallow if there weren’t other possible cluing options. I’m agnostic on the question myself since the word is not only from a different language, but also a different alphabet. NAN is not really spelt either way, but “naan” is the current best approximation so maybe don’t go with the less common variation when you have choices.

I’m firmly in the “too much going on” camp. I really like the long down themers, but that’s about it. The Terrible Triples overrun the puzzle like a bunch of weeds, choking our herbs. I’m not positive, but something like 22 three-letter answers, including 13 along the bottom, is about 15 too many. And then why aren’t the herbs actually in the POTs? Candidly, if I liked the puzzle more this wouldn’t have irked me, but throw 20 triples at me and little inconsistencies start to nettle like briars. So I’m already a little irked and can’t help but notice that the herbs are just floating there above the POTs.I guess maybe they are the sci-fi version of herbs. Herbal UFOs, as it were.

Those are my main plaints, but two nits. IPECAC crossing a random profession initialism seems unfair. And a cross reference to get THEO VAN GOGH to match up seems too precious by half. I’d have preferred a reference to Vincent’s less well known half-brother, TEX VAN GOGH.

Jon 8:22 AM  

Had "Santa" before "StPat". That time of year.


Gift of the GAG, though? I thought the term was Gift of the GAB. Is there such a thing as Gift of the Gag?

Joe Dipinto 8:28 AM  

I thought the gimmick was basically cool, if a little pushy. You have the herbs and seed(s) in visual pots and the revealer POT at 65a, but then there's POT right in the middle of GROWTH POTENTIAL also. Maybe that represents the pot the gardener is smoking.

As I was putting in 23d I thought, isn't an ARCHIVE SITE just an...archive? But Wikipedia says that "an archive site is a website that stores information on webpages from the past for anyone to view." So it's a thing.

I still get ASHANTI and the late Aaliyah mixed up. Is EMUEGG spelled EMÜGG in German?

Sack it to me.

mmorgan 8:29 AM  

Didn’t really care for the gimmick but it was not an unenjoyable solve, and I love love love Lotte Lenya.

Dorothy Biggs 8:42 AM  

Clare, it's definitely UPSY daisy. You say it when you help someone up or pick up a small child. UP being the operative term there.

I agree with you about NAN, though. That variation is quite rare in the wild except for xword puzzles (NYT specifically?).

"Look out for miss Lotte Lenya! and old Lucy Broooowwn..." Now I'll be hearing Bobby Darin all morning.

This was very easy...almost Monday-like.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

Agree totally with you Clare! Way too many three letter words for a Wednesday. I raced through it and never noticed the herbs. Felt like more a fun thing to create than to solve.

TJS 9:02 AM  

Trying to visualize Rosa Klebb singing Kurt Weill. Mack The Knife ??

Armagh 9:14 AM  

Does every puzzle with Jeff Chen's name on it have to sag under the weight of three-letter drek? Worse than the quad-stack schtick.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

It's GAG gift, meaning a silly or joke gift.

Hungry Mother 9:17 AM  

Working on Key West time, so slower than usual, but faster than average. SEED was just weird. I feel so helpless when a square isn’t an intersection. Overall, very easy.

Cristi 9:25 AM  

Upsy... https://youtu.be/jflyRenVZc8

Nancy 9:26 AM  

So the DILL is [sort of] over an "S" POT and the CHIVES are [sort of] over an "E" POT and the MINT is [sort of] over an "E" POT and the SAGE is [sort of] over a "D" POT and what I want to know is....Why?????????????????????

Okay, I read the blog and find out that it's a SEED thing, but boy is that one SEED ever strewn all over the place. What I'd do is change the gray squares in MESSAGE BOARD (10D) to produce not SAGE, but MESS. Which is what I feel this puzzle is.

My most interesting moment was feeling like Dan Quayle as I reluctantly wrote in the second "E" in PECCADILLOES.* (Although once I had written it in, I had to admit that it looked right.)

I did not have a wonderful thyme with this puzzle and thought it was too clover by half.

*This allusion will be a great big "Huh??" to anyone under the age of 45 or so.

puzzlehoarder 9:36 AM  

I was a little surprised to finish this in under my average Wednesday time. There were a number of things that I hesitated on. Is the OES ending of 2D really kosher? With IPECAC I wondered if both of them would be Cs or is one of them a K? EMU did not automatically lead to EGG and LODGE didn't make ALPINE pop up either. Along with these little blips I had a KEENAN/KEENEN write over. This meant I had to switch from ARCHIVAL to ARCHIVE.

With all the little speed bumps it just goes to show how easy the rest of the puzzle was. While easy to solve the constructor's talked about how much work it was to create. I guess the centrally located IHAVEIT is their little self congratulations/inside joke.

@jae, thanks for the 03/12/05 Byron Walden puzzle suggestion. I finally got around to it last night. It was a nice switch from the usual late week fare. I needed 2-3 times my current Saturday average to finish it.

jberg 9:37 AM  

I’ll take weak 3s in exchange for nifty construction every time! Loved the puzzle.

Hardest thing for me was putting the last E in PECCADILLOES. I left the last 2 letters blank for a long time. Second hardest was not going with ARCHIVES tab. Then I remembered that EPA staff spent November-December 2008 creating an archives site with all the data they feared the Ned administration would erase. Ok then.

Be back later!

Unknown 9:39 AM  

SOOTH crossing LOTTE. Yuck.

NAN is not Tandoori bread. Could have been clued for photographer NAN Goldin. She's Wednesday hard.

Birchbark 9:40 AM  

I liked the vertical quality of today's puzzle. Solved solidly from the northeast, in tandem with the blizzard wind a-howling upon us today. I just saw a blue jay blown sideways from the bird feeder.

We are prepared for this weather. The travelers are waiting until later this afternoon. The turkey I'll smoke tomorrow is brining in maple syrup, lemons, ginger, onions, garlic, molasses, mustard seed, water and kosher salt. I will bundle up and plow the driveway later. Then, just for fun, plow a path out to the big fire ring in the elder grove where we'll have a bonfire tomorrow after dinner. Last year's Christmas tree and all.

We have a couple of aboriginal art pieces on kangaroo skin, acquired on a business trip to Sydney many years ago. They are called "EMU Dream Time" and "Honey Ant Dream Time." Lots of points create the images radiating from the center.

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

Messrs. Sewell and Chen,

Thanks for the great puzzle. Tasty. The perfect amount of flavor.
Don't let the board get you down. The chief complaint-there's too much going on- is ludicrous.
I wonder how folks who think that are able to navigate the world?
I s'pose the're the same people who say oopise daisy. Or put thousand island dressing on a sambo and think it's a Reuben. Sheesh.

Joe Welling 9:53 AM  

I thought the sun shining down on the nascent herb garden was nice too.

I think "oopsie-daisy" is different than UPSY-daisy. You say the latter when playfully lifting up a child and the former when you drop him.

Katzzz 9:56 AM  

Exactly. Two different expressions.

Unknown 9:59 AM  

I never heard the term “gift of gag”

Missy 10:02 AM  

46A is KeenAn not KeenEn. It looks like there was a big editing faux pas.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Unknown-No one has. It's gag gift.

Unknown 10:07 AM  

Other than the substandard spelling of "naan" I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle and its multifaceted theme. Lots of fun and a proper difficulty level for a Wednesday.

Newboy 10:07 AM  

Hi Clare. Thanks for sharing today’s early thanksgiving treat. Write up was better than the puzzle I thought though I liked the unclued SEED in those graphic POTs. Other than that it seemed too cute for its own good taste; guess I wanted jalapeños to spice things up a bit. Only real quibble was the number of tiny words (13 three letter & 17 four by a casual count) as Clare noted. Now back to see if this one grew on others.

Frantic Sloth 10:09 AM  

Found this one rather easy for a Wednesday, but I did get a little annoyed with myself for entering GAB for kind of gift. Had to go through the entire across, then down until coming to 37D before my boneheaded error was discovered.

@Abigail "Nan bread sounds like something made out of grandmothers." I only wish I could describe the images conjured up by your remark. Hilarious.

Mr. Benson 10:12 AM  

I know it's Rex's shtick to list all the objectionable crosswordese words in a puzzle when they're particularly gruesome, but today's list didn't seem too bad. At least they're words or familiar abbreviations. They get bad when they're things like losing tic-tac-toe combos, or random Roman numerals, or random Popes, or abbreviations nobody ever uses.

I liked today's puzzle a lot. Nice visual, okay fill. The fact that the theme might have been difficult for a substitute blogger to describe concisely is not my concern. The only nit is that POT should have been in the middle, rather than in a corner. Also, SUN should be considered part of the theme.

One downside to solving on the NYT app: because it times me, I feel pressured to press ahead as fast as I can, rather than take a moment to sit back and enjoy visuals like we had today.

David 10:17 AM  

I thought you were studying law Clare? You haven't gotten to "fiat?" It's the way kings rule, and maybe presidents who think they're kings. It's also used for government supported economies, which use "fiat money" as opposed to trade unsupported by a central bank, "non-fiat economies" like bitcoin and FB are trying to build. Non-fiat economies, historically, lead to debt slavery, and that leads to human slavery. Fun thoughts for a Thanksgiving Eve morning.

I liked this one okay but yeah, too much going on so it's a bit of a mess. Immediately put "Under bridges" for 10D without any crosses because, you know, that's where the original guys lived. Now they're all over the place.

The rest sailed along nicely and took just long enough to finish up roasting the turkey bones (it smells great in here). Now it's time to get the stock going so we have plenty of gravy tomorrow.

Happy turkey day everyone.

Whatsername 10:24 AM  

What a delight! Fun and fresh, not too many proper nouns, a few long answers and some cool little seed pots. Made me want to go outside and start gardening. Every year I say I am not going to plant anything, but then spring springs, and as soon as I feel the sun and smell the flowers, I’m back out there playing in the dirt. The pull of the earth and my farming DNA combine to form a force I am powerless to resist.

On the UPSY/oopsie debate, what @Joe said at 7:41. Basically, UPSY says oh boy! And oopsie is more of an aw sh!t, I put too much salt in the stuffing. Loved the “apple core” clue for CPUS at 8D. Wanted the trolls to be lurking on the DARKINTERNET at 10D. Don’t know what that is, but I had an alert message on my credit report that my email had been found on on it and I should change my password. Sounds very sinister.

A very appealing Wednesday on this final countdown to the holiday season. Whatever your pleasure, enjoy.

kitshef 10:33 AM  

@Missy 10:02. No, it really is Keenen.

Z 10:33 AM  

My son (the one who got socked with 23” of snow yesterday) is Keenan. The actor is KEENEN IVORY WAYANS.

Tom R 10:47 AM  

I've heard upsy-daisy all my life. Never heard anyone use oopsie-daisy. I've lived in MO, IL, SD, and WI. Maybe its a regionalism.

What? 10:52 AM  

Typical of a Chen puzzle- too clever by half. Trying to fit in herbs, with seed in circles,!with black pots - what do you get? Unsymmetrical herbs, “seed” that adds nothing to the puzzle and lots of unremarkable triplets. Plus a theme that asks why bother.

pmdm 11:00 AM  

Puzzle was OK. Neither love nor hate fill me, nor admiration concerning how hard it must have been to construct. The fill did bother me, but less than usual.

I grow all four of these herbs in my back yard. Dill is tough, because it gets too hot around NYC, but the other three seem to survive the winters. So they're in the ground, not in pots. but Z, the herbs I pick are not in the ground (or pots) but rather inches off the ground. Not so much with mint and perhaps as much as a foot with sage. There would be roots in the pot and herbs above the pots. Your other comments I gree with.

Hartley70 11:05 AM  

Very cute grid and theme. I loved it!

Ron 11:09 AM  

I originally did N(AA)N bread as a rebus, but obviously nothing about that worked. I was confused and annoyed by that seemingly arbitrary spelling

Doug Garr 11:09 AM  

I had a hard time with this because I started with COBRA instead of ADDER, which screwed me up for awhile. Once I saw the shaded squares were herbs I actually filled in OKRA (because I had the O from COBRA), which further screwed up my NW. Once I got DILL the rest of the puzzle was pretty easy. But left out NAN forever because like everyone else I knew NAAN didn't fit and it was probably some bread I'd never heard of.

Noam D. Elkies 11:12 AM  

Before the car and the diktats there was FIAT LUX = "Let there be light"!

I found the puzzle largely delightful. I have no problem with any of GAP,RHO,POT,AHA,POT,IMP, LAW,MBA,PEW -- these are all common or familiar (RHO may be the most exotic but still fair), and of course POT is thematic. If you must complain about any 3-letter word entry here, go at NAN (as you did), TEX, and the initialism ALS.

Funny that SUN is in theme entries in two consecutive days. Come to think of it, shouldn't yesterday's have had THE SUN atop THE TOWER atop THE DEVIL? Well I suppose the picture with TOWER/DEVIL/SUN could have been taken at midnight . . .


Masked and Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Hey -- POT! Seeds and stems and all, in the puzgrid. Plus 4 ginormous grid art U's. What's not to like?

staff weeject pick = EES. Plural abbreev meat. 24 nice runty choices, today.

fave good stuff: POT. TEX. VANGOGH. IPECAC [nice spellin challenge, along with ASHANTI and LOTTE and KEENEN].
fave Ow de Speration: SSNS/NSFW. Nice and seedy.

Happy Turkey Eve, y'all.

Thanx for the fun, MS & JC.

Masked & Anonymo3+big4Us

p.s. Just moved! [Not especially up on a hill, like @muse did, tho.] About 200+ boxes to open. M&A will work in a lowly runt now and then, when he can muster the strength.

Wardrobe boxes kinda suck.

Pass the POT, pleaz.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

I Naticked, crossing GAb with SEbA. Now that I am reminded, yes I know it was SEGA. But SEbA was just as plausible at the time.

Drewid83 11:20 AM  

Thank you! Even when putting in "upsy", I was questioning my lifelong recollection of it being "oopsy". I felt like "nan" didn't make sense either, as I normally see it spelled with the additional "a", but just decided I'm not Indian. Still, it's good to know I'm not the only one who was frustrated by it.

mathgent 11:22 AM  

The gang at the playground is grouchy today. They all got NAN and yet were annoyed that it didn't have another A. Try to get over it.

Jeff Chen almost always delights me and he did so again today. His trademark smart cluing, wide variety in the fill, intricate execution of a fresh theme. I forgive the 24 Terrible Threes because the grid seems to force the six at the bottom.


Fraternity RHO!

Hilarious post by LMS about colon usage.

Anoa Bob 11:28 AM  

With the V in place for the 44A painter, I confidently dropped in VERMEER. When CHAN filled in at 31D, I decided then it had to be VANDYCK and thought that's going to be tough to find crosses for that one. Ah, okay, VANGOGH it is. Nevermind.

I always cringe when I see DETOX (52D) or "cleanse", as clued. I think most people who use these terms are, at best, misinformed wishful thinkers or, at worst, charlatans pushing quackery for monetary gain. I wonder if any of the latter have ever pushed an ALMOND PASTE and IPECAC smoothie as the ultimate cleanse.

Very ambitious puzzle with lots of nice touches, but having one SEED spread between four pots kept it from sticking the landing for me.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

UPSY is what you say to a rugrat as you pick it up.
oopsy is what you say to the rugrat when it falls down or otherwise errs.

and... why do some Brits insist on pronouncing it van GAHHCK?

Carola 11:31 AM  

I'm in the "Delightful" and "Loved it" camp. PECCADILLOES with its DILL pickle spear (I thought) brought a smile and musings about what other sorts of pickles might appear, a wrong turn soon redirected by CHIVES, I thought the little pots with their SEED elements and herb stalks above were very cute, even more after @Joe Welling 9:53 pointed out the SUN on high drawing them upward.

@Suzie Q, I was surprised by IGNORE, but then recalled having heard some intentional overlooking of an infraction: "I'm willing to overlook it just this once, but...."

old timer 11:31 AM  

Did Chen really define NAN as some kind of tandoor product? I can't even. I was looking forward to a Rexrant, and am glad Clare put on her Rex hat, in his place. This puzzle sucked. The theme made no sense. The green paint of themes. Had the herbs been ones that go together, it might be acceptable. DILL, SAGE, MINT and CHIVES? You wouldn't even find them together on the "cocktail program" of some over-ambitious restaurant.

Question: Does anyone use an online MESSAGE BOARD anymore? Facebook and blog comments, sure. But MESSAGE BOARD makes me think of AOL -- totally 20th Century, unlike real MESSAGE BOARDS you might find at work or outside a convenience store.

Brian 11:40 AM  

And the herbs are growing out of the pots

Unknown 11:42 AM  

It's Keenan, Google it!

Unknown 11:44 AM  

Keenen and Nan are bad.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Non-fiat economies, historically, lead to debt slavery, and that leads to human slavery.

Refreshing to see someone (other than humble self) call out the evil of 'specie' money. All one need do is look at 19th century USofA experience to see that most of those 100 years were spent in recession or depression. A fine way for the Upper Crust to live. Of course, all of those miners at various lode sites got to pay $10 (in gold, natch) for an egg.

RooMonster 11:45 AM  

Hey All !
This is a 16 long grid. Seems to have escaped y'alls eyes. I did think the pots were interesting. Thought there'd be a rebus in them, but turned out to just be single letters spelling out SEED. Too bad the Herbs didn't correspond to the POTted letters, as in DILL going with the D. But, not sure what other herbs could go with the S E E, and probably would've been impossible to do.

As it sits, the threes and dreck aren't too terrible considering the theme constraints. IMHO, of course.

Had KEENaN in, until ARCHIVES forced me to change it. Still had a two-letter DNF, SOeTH/LeTTE and ADDaRS/aES. What sucks it that I had ADDARS, but changed it because I didn't think an EES was anything. What is it?

So, a funky Thursday-ish puz today. Wondering what tomorrow's puz is gonna be.

Don't eat too much tomorrow!


Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Well... not really $10/egg, that was just back of the brainstem memory.

"The price of eggs rose from $1 per egg to $3, or $92.56." In today's prices, so a lot more than $10 looked at that way.

here: https://www.thevintagenews.com/2017/12/06/california-gold-rush-mining-pans/

Blue Stater 11:51 AM  

Clare, I'm glad to see someone besides me calling for the puzzles to be put through a real editing process, not only for goofs like NAN for NAAN, but for factual and linguistic errors more generally, in which the puzzles, under the present regime, abound. I like to think that if the NYT did that, they would have concrete evidence of the state to which the puzzles have fallen, and maybe *fix* things. What a concept....

Joseph M 11:58 AM  

I liked EMU EGG once I finally realized that EMUEGG was not an esoteric term from the Aboriginal art world. This AHA moment was for me the highlight of the puzzle.

I also liked seeing the SUN shining down on the herb garden.

With VAN GOGH in the puzzle, a few sunflowers might have been more appropriate for the garden, though there is at least a scrambled EAR lying just below his name.

I’m sure this puzzle was a lot of work, but I have to agree that it’s trying a little too hard. And GROWTH POTENTIAL is about as unexciting as a revealer can get.

OffTheGrid 12:00 PM  

Too busy? Too cute? Too many 3's? Nonsense. It was fun. I have to wonder if some of the dissenters didn't
quite get the theme. But it's always OK to not like a puzzle. I've yet to see one that pleases all.

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

@Unknown 11:42 - I googled Keenan Wayans, and found him! Oh, except it says his name is spelled Keenen.

albatross shell 12:49 PM  

EE- My guess is electrical engineers.

I see a wonderful Wednesday here. A bit wacky, fresh, original. The SUN shining down. The herbs growing, pots potting. LOTTE LENYA (ahh Bertolt and Kurt), PECCADILLOES,
ATRIA, IHAVEIT VANGOGH, FIAT EROS pairing. Oh my people are going to overthink and criticize it because a representation of the world in a crossword grid does not accurately represent the world. To each their own. Sure SEED was pushing it, but seeds should be spread out, huh?
AND the 3 letter words were mostly above average. Let whine those who will. A complaint about TEX? NANANANAN. I WILL GAG gift you that one. Shoulda hadda bettah clue.

Semi-rant over. Love to all. Thanks to all who contribute here. Travel safely. Eat heartily.

Teedmn 12:56 PM  

HAH, which doesn't mean, "You wish" in this context, it means that I never even noticed there were uncrossed letters in this puzzle, even as I filled them in. Perhaps it is due to them being circled, and perhaps I am inured to such grid tricks from doing Runt puzzles lo these last 4 years, but it was a cute realization after I finished.

The grid art is interesting though rather busy. In SOOTH, I quite enjoyed this. Thanks, Matthew and Jeff.

Fan of the puzzle 12:56 PM  

@mathgent-My sentiments exactly! This was a very fun puzzle and my only complaint is that I flew through it! Funny, when I saw GIFTOFGAG I thought it might be a new term that a person is “gross” or talks about yucky things...“That guy really has the gift for gag.”
@David, you also took the words out of my mouth with FIAT, and add to that another term “judicial fiat.” I’m not sure what people are learning in law schools today, but I think it would be good if all law schools required prospective students to work for two years after undergrad before they can be admitted.

Bax'N'Nex 1:09 PM  

Are we sure Mike didn't write this blog today? We all know he would have hated it...mostly because Jeff Chen was the constructor. I'd love to see Jeff and Bruce Haight collaborate on a puzzle that Will Shortz edited. Mikey's head would explode.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Anonymous 1:12 PM  

NAN instead of naan is truly unacceptable.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

It's not gift of gag, it's gag gift.

Unknown 1:17 PM  

Yikes! The level of complaining is pretty high for what was a fairly clever puzzle. The 3s didn't bother me. Thd only thing I questioned was the spelling of NAN.

Birchbark 1:50 PM  

@David (10:17) and @Anon (11:44) -- I like your thinking even if I vaguely sense some stretching to make a specific point. I view the possibilities of new currencies as more open-ended. But rather than debate (viz., risk devolving into right vs. left trenches and away from all that is virtuous), I recommend some novels, which strike me as exactly in your wheelhouse.

If you are interested in the evolution of specie woven into a broader history of science and ideas + swashbuckling, derringdo, etc., Neal Stephenson's fictional trilogy "The System of the World" (covering 1660s - 1714) is well worth the 3000 page investment. Also his novel Cryptomicon, set in WWII and the 1990s. These books explore the concept of money, intellect and government in an instructive and (to me) very entertaining way.

Then go back and read the chapter "Economy" in Walden, and you'll have all ye need to know.

tea73 2:02 PM  

I wasn't tripped up by NAN because it appears all too regularly. I thought the SEED spread out over four pots was cute. However I was somewhat taken aback by how those herbs levitated over their seeds. I actually didn't mind most of those threes. Definition for RHO was particularly cute. A nice little HAH (not aha for once) moment when I realized what the aboriginal art appeared on. I had GAb before GAG, otherwise pretty much flew through this thing.

Alternate NANs:
Nan Goldin - photographer
Nan Martin - actress
Nan Bobbsey - twin
NaN - Not a Number

ccredux 3:18 PM  

Enjoyable puzzle. Always ( I guess wrongly) thought of a PECCADILLO as being a minor bad trait. To Spanish
speakers: Do native speakers actually say SISI as an enthusiastic response? I can’t imagine someone saying YES YES! No one says that, do they? ( I know it’s wrong to translate literally. )
Espero que todos tengan un lindo Día de Acción de Gracias!

Anonymous 3:37 PM  

I've got to agree with Clare. The herbs being at different heights above the pots with nothing connecting them to the seeds make it inelegant. It just seems a tad incoherent. There's a lot going on and it doesn't seem to hold together very well.

Kathy 3:43 PM  

Cute triple-layered theme, but agree it yielded a lot of junk fill.

Agree with naan over NAN.

Tripped up at:
Hah/Theo. Wanted Har
Gag/sega. Wanted Gab, as in gift of
Knew the answers but spelled ADDERS and IPECAC wrong. I should have adders solidly in my XW quiver by now, I’ve seen it several times this year, so no excuses.

@LMS, lucky you, fifth grade! It was a couple more years before I made that pilgrimage. Even then it was still window dressing.
@kitshef, I so wanted the troll to be under the bridge!

Z 3:53 PM  

ccredux - Repetition for emphasis seems like something that happens in most languages. Here’s a fine example of Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! that’s fairly famous. The Yeses start around the 2:00 minute mark.

Gift of GAG - Covfefe’s only talent, isn’t it?

Tandyr NAN. Note the note. OTOH, Wikipedia doesn’t have lots of Wednesday appropriate options. Hand up for relegating NAN to constructors’ Only When Desperate List.

albatross shell 3:55 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maddiegail 4:02 PM  

Had UNDERTHEBRIDGE for 10D (Where Trolls may lurk) and absolutely could not see anything else. Made for a l-o-n-g solve on the NE corner.

Nancy 4:20 PM  

Only now catching up with blog comments:

@GILL -- Back in the day you painted a Renaissance man playing a lute on an egg????? Wow! Could even Rembrandt have done that? Sounds like the airline industry's gain was the Art World's loss. Wish you'd use some of your own artwork as an avatar rather than Klimt's. Unless everything you did was painted on eggs and cracked.

Just realized that I had a DNF with Gift of GAb. Never questioned it or paid any attention to SEbA since I don't know who made "Dreamcast" or even what it is.

The shifting spellings in xwords roll right off your back once you've done enough of them. At least NAN and NAAN can't be confused because they have different #s of letters. The same can't be said of AAH and AHH. Or OSO and OSA.

Kath320 4:31 PM  

The ARCHIVE answer reminded me of a young intern we had one summer, helping us with the filing. We stored old files in a basement room we called the "archives," evidently a term the intern was unfamiliar with. One day, she said announced was taking some boxes of files to the "Ozarks." Needless to say, hilarity ensued.

albatross shell 4:32 PM  

I forgot to mention my favorite was EMUEGG. I had EMU_GG and started checking for where my wrong answers might be before the sun shone. Did I think yes yes or yes yes yes? I forget.

Which reminds me of an old legend about a math logic lecture. The speaker was opining that double negatives can mean a negative or a positive but in no language is a double positive ever used to mean a negative, when some scoudrel in the back row yelled out "Yeah, yeah." Aahh, the dreaded counter-example

Fred Wollam 4:33 PM  


Anonymous 4:43 PM  

Agree with Claire. It was challenging enough for a Wednesday. Just not a fun solve.

Mike F. 4:49 PM  

24:54. I had a tough time with this -- wrong Wayans brother, among others, made filling hard. This theme was clunky, too.

GILL I. 5:31 PM  

@Birchbark 9:40...Your recipe for the smoked turkey sounds really fantastic. I wish I liked turkey. You've got me intrigued at the garlic, ginger molasses . Wow. The brine method (which my son swears by) never did much to tickle my taste buds....Let us know how it turned out.
@Nancy 4:20. Yes...I always loved miniature anything. It takes patience and imagination. I have neither now. Well...maybe imagination. I've given my "art" away...mostly to my family who would ooh and aah out of politeness - I'm sure. I will say, though my favorite was a Renaissance charcoal that my brother insist I do, of a man playing a lyre. It was the only thing I ever did that I actually loved. I've kept my Bacchanalian, though...
My pies and my olive bread are out of the oven...Now to watch some Christmas movies and wait for the kids to pick us up for our drive to Auburn for the gobble gobble....... Happy, happy to all.

Charles 5:49 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 5:52 PM  

Getting the different seeds def helped getting the long clues but I thought we were going with WEED with the two POT references so I was stuck longer than usual.

Joe Dipinto 7:19 PM  

@old timer 11:31 – Any kind of internet forum that people post to is a message board, even if that term isn't specifically used much anymore. This Comments section is a message board (and we've had the trolls to prove it!).

Unknown 10:10 AM  

Will Shortz should retire...seems like he sleep-walks through every puzzle

patsy 3:40 PM  

Thougt this was very difficult for a Wednesday. Too much turkey on my mind

spacecraft 11:50 AM  

HAPPY NEW YEAR, syndilanders! And a great way to kick it off: with some SEEDs that have GROWTHPOTENTIAL. Here's hoping those seeds will mature into more love and less hate. Key word there: mature.

I liked this one. It has everything: a theme, a visual impact via grid design that's theme-related, lively long answers and a minimum of short-fill dreck. Plus EMUEGG, an extra "seed." Plus plus: a great DOD in ASHANTI. What's not to love? Eagle!

bluebomb 1:08 PM  

I can't believe that it took until a late morning post to note the SUN "shining down." Well done Joe.

Burma Shave 2:49 PM  


whether I'MINTHE toilet or NOT,
my COLON won't 'PEW',
after I GAG and SPEW:
it's like MINT when I GOGH on THE POT.


rondo 3:10 PM  

Pretty easy, I thought. Certainly needed no HELP.

The missus and I will be attending an A-HA concert in L.A. come September. Yes, that's far from MN, but it's on her bucket list. And A-HA's only 3 U.S. concerts are in L.A.

99 times out of 100 the Bond girl has it, but LOTTE Lenya would be an unlikely yeah baby, so ASHANTI gets it.

Happy NEW Year! Perhaps a NEWERA.

Diana, LIW 3:17 PM  

Almost a one-letter dnf, but after a long pause and a second look thru, I saw an error and -

ta da

good start to a new year. Stayed up all the way until midnight in NYC last night, here on the west coast. Grew up back East, so I can always say I'm still on EST.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 4:12 PM  

Expected more trickery from Jeff Chen, but like Agard a few days ago, he let us off fairly easy. And like @Diana, I had a one-letter problem, but unlike her, I didn't correct it. Not really a bad start to the new year, but not quite a good one either.

Wooody2004 4:57 PM  

Happy 2020 Syndicats!

I liked the grid design. It sorta looks like a Tetris game.

It seems like with all those threes, they could have squeezed in an EAR somewhere to go with the VANGOGH (pronounced "Van Go" not "Van Gaaughhhhkt")

My New Years Resolution is to solve a RUNT puzzle. And maybe even watch some Doctor Who. That clip was CLASS A.

strayling 5:43 PM  

@Wooody: You're saying that Van Gogh's ear was missing? Yep, that sounds right.

Cute puzzle, nice playful start to the new year. Have a good one, fellow synders.

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