Villainous conglomerate on Mr Robot / THU 3-5-20 / Grocery chain with more than 1900 US stores / Onetime London-based record label / Hay-bundling machine

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: ??? Challenging? Easy? Depends on when you get the gimmick 

THEME: NO MAS (56D: "Enough!," in Mexico ... or a hint to 11 answers in this puzzle) — words that should have "MA" in them just ... don't. That's it, that's the puzzle.

Theme answers:
  • (MA)DEFACES (1A: Mugged for the camera, maybe)
  • WEB(MA)STER (8A: Site administrator)
  • (MA)STIFFS (40A: Large guard dogs)
  • (MA)LADIES (41A: Aches and pains)
  • (MA)LINGERS (70A: Feigns sickness to avoid work)
  • (MA)IN ROADS (71A: Much-traveled thoroughfares)
  • (MA)DONNA (1D: Much-painted religious figure)
  • TA(MA)LE (12D: Food cooked in a cornhusk)
  • (MA)LICE (36D: Evil intent)
  • RE(MA)IN (32D: Stay behind)
  • LAW(MA)N (58D: Wyatt Earp, for one)
Word of the Day: WEBSTER (8A: Site administrator) —

noun Archaic.

a weaver.
[It's actually supposed to be WEB(MA)STER (!?) without the "MA" — if you're going to take the "MA" out of words, maybe take them out of words people actually use, so you know they're missing!?]
• • •

Ms. Burnikel is one of my favorite constructors. She's prolific and her puzzles have gotten better and better over the years, to the point where I now consider her one of the top, let's say, five constructors working today. I'm trying to give you some idea of why this puzzle ended up being so incredibly disappointing. These days I almost *never* dislike one of her puzzles. But this one. Wow. OK. So ... The problem with this puzzle is that it sets you up for something potentially interesting, and then lets you down. And by "lets you down," I mean really, really lets you down, in that the clever thing you think might be going on ends up *not* going on, and the thing that *is* going on is not only far, far less interesting, but also dreadfully hard to piece together (in part because you believe you *know* what is going on, and believe it is possibly clever: wrong and wrong).

The puzzle sets you up for something to do with "MA"s right away. I actually thought it was a "MAD" rebus at first, when that NW corner turned out to be the front end (this is important) of *two* answers that started with the letter string "MAD." That one square affects answers going in both directions at exactly the same point, ok, good, moving on ... annnnnd ... there is no other "MAD" square. OK, maybe there are other rebus squares? No. No. But that's fine, it's fine, we'll figure it out. Hey, look (MA)STIFFS. Aha! So "MA" is missing from the front ends of the themers and is, like, hanging off the grid for some reason. I've seen stuff like this before. "MA" is located just outside the grid, over and over. There will surely be some kind of pattern, and some kind of humorous revealer. [at this point I have literally written "MA" outside the grid several times—above DONNA, to the left of FACES, to the left of STIFFS...] Then the NE corner happens and, well, you know it's (TA)MALE but why is "TA" hanging off the grid now? And what's a WEBSMER? Ugh. OK. Abandon that. Evennnnnntually realize that (MA)LADIES is missing its "MA" ... so not a rebus, not a hanging-off-the-grid thing, OK, what's the organizing principle, because *surely* there must be one. Oooh, (MA)LADIES is on the same row as (MA)STIFFS! Organizational principle rediscovered! Certain rows ... and columns, maybe ... are missing "MA" at their front ends (!!!). But no. No. There is no order. And, worst of all, the "MA"s, despite being missing from the *fronts* of the first four themers you encounter, are also sometimes missing from the middles of answers. Just four times. Four elevenths of the time. Why? No reason. They just are. "My, that is ... much worse." Yes, it is. What made this puzzle truly miserable to solve was that it kept seeming like it was going to have some really brilliant central conceit, some kind of hidden order that would reveal itself and make it all worthwhile. And man was that not true. Just missing "MA"s and that. Is. It. Woof. The affected answers do end up being symmetrical, so that's ... something? Some kind of order? ... but by the time I noticed that, all good will toward this puzzle was out the window.

Even when I was done, I didn't understand WEBSTER. What the hell kind of fake-ass slang is that? Only after looking up WEBSTER did I realize "oh ... it's WEB(MA)STER." Which ... is a word I have not heard since the '90s, I think. Because the actual "MA"-including answer (WEBMASTER) is not common, because the "web" part is familiar and the suffix -STER can mean, like, "one who does stuff" (mobster is in the mob, a jokester tells jokes, a prankster pranks, etc.), because all of this, WEBSTER just looked like stupid internet slang of yore. To have it turn out to be WEB(MA)STER, which is ... also stupid internet slang of yore ... well, you couldn't have fashioned a more annoying "aha" moment if you'd tried. That whole corner was just grimness that never resolved, even after I was done with the puzzle. Even now, it feels unresolved. A stain that won't quite come out.

I also deeply resent when the revealer is so transparent that if I'd just looked for it at the beginning of the solve, the whole thing would've become transparent. "NO MAS!" is obvious. A gimme. So, no "MA"s. So ... OK. The end. You just roam around looking for dropped "MA"s. Whether you go the hard route the way I did (not seeing the revealer til the end) or you start off with the revealer and go the easy route, either way, I can't see how any of this is any fun. It's much worse to do it my way of course, both because it takes longer, and because, for a while there, you really do think there might be a clever puzzle in front of you.

  • 2D: Villainous conglomerate on "Mr. Robot" (E CORP) — I *watched* this show for several seasons and didn't remember this one. I have no idea what non-watchers are going to make of it, *especially* in a puzzle with this theme. "Is there an "MA" missing? Who Knows!?!? MAE CORP?! That sounds pretty villainous..."
  • 31A: One-up, say (DRAW) — this was such an awful clue, and crossing RE(MA)IN made it doubly miserable to solve. I had DRAW and still had no idea how it fit the clue. If a score is "one up" (that is, one apiece, one all), then there's no hyphen, is there? The hyphen suggests it's a verb. But if you "one-up" someone, you don't DRAW them? I have to believe that the clue somehow refers to DRAW in the sense of a tie, an even score, but ... why do you do this with your clues? Why? The editorial voice is so awkward.
  • 57A: Grocery chain with more than 1,900 U.S. stores (ALDI) — we have these, but ... do you have these? I never saw one til I moved to Binghamton. Maybe they're spread out evenly nationwide, now, but I feel like the clue *knows* that they're kinda regional, and so is shouting "there's actually 1,900 of them!" at you, defensively.
  • 51A: 2009 biopic starring Hilary Swank ("AMELIA") — I assume it was about AMELIA Earhart. I have no memory of this movie's existing.
  • 49A: "I agree with both of you!" ("ME THREE!") — ah... that's the stuff. An oasis! A shady bower! A beautiful island in an ocean of gunk! I like this answer very much, is what I'm saying.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. ah, another cutesy clue for the white supremacist terrorist organization that is the NRA (19A: Org. that sticks to its guns). Truly the cherry on top of this ... thursdae.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:39 AM  

Superb construction, with the theme answers symmetrical and the MA-less words actual in-the-language words, and as always for CC, a junk-lite grid. Thank you, CC!

And si si, I've had a grand time so far this week. Greatly looking forward to nana!

Roberta 6:41 AM  

Have never agreed with a review more. Super easy yet truly horrible at the same time.

amyyanni 6:43 AM  

《...sidles into room, softly clears throat, whispers: "liked it." 》

albatross shell 6:44 AM  

Maybe people can just copy whatever post from yesterday they think most applies to Today's puzzle.  I  expect enough Love  vs. Hate  on this  one again today that if one is a Robert Mitchum movie the other is a Spike Lee joint.

Never have I had a thursday fill in so fast and easily except of course the rebuses would not rebus.  except of course  for 1A and 1D.

Else where different combos of  double rebuses seemed necessary.

And those demanded obvious answers be wrong. Lawman and malingerers. Webmaster and remain. Interstates and good knows what. Just kept getting worse. WTF. Finally looked to wordplay for confirmation that there is not a rebus but something else..  Managed to fill in until it worked and the music  played. Ok missing MAs...

But why isn't' " Melted ice cream" actually "Nearly blind cartoon character"?  Or like the antique swole, has a new definition happened when I was sleeping?

But I liked anyway. Too easy to fill in, too difficult to see the trick with excellent fill.

PGregory Springer 6:50 AM  

So much fun. A record Thursday time for me. I remembered Amelia movie, too. Why should a puzzle follow the form of other puzzles, with off the grid letters or consistent front letters? This is new, fresh and, too repeat myself, big fun. My favorite puzzle this week.

Joaquin 6:57 AM  

It took me longer to find all 11 missing MAs than it did to fill the puzzle. When I got stuck at ten, I went through all the clues one at a time to find the eleventh missing MA.

Of course (!) for some odd and unknown reason I started with the downs and the missing entry was 71A - the absolute last clue on the list. And INROADS *looked* okay as an answer for “Much-traveled thoroughfares” so I had missed it as a themer despite several searches.

Poor @Rex. He complains almost daily about the lack of puzzles by women constructors. Now, during a week of women only constructors, he dislikes them all (so far). Like they say: “Be careful what you wish for … “

El Barto 6:59 AM  

Was impressed when I realized that all the MA-less words are actual words.

Also, "webmaster" is not that obscure, Rex...

Anonymous 7:02 AM  

No problems here, and I share none of the grousing. I know it's easy when I get here a good hour before the blog.

Suzie Q 7:36 AM  

Just awful. The NE corner was the worst. Having two of the "ma" answers so close together made my head ache.
Having "one up" as a clue the day after it was the theme/trick was very poor timing.
How is malinger feigning illness?
This is the week meant to showcase female constructors yet I feel like we are getting rejects from the cutting room floor.

Birchbark 7:49 AM  

"Surely there will be some kind of pattern, some kind of humorous revealer ... OK, what's the organizing principle, because *surely* there must be one." @Rex's solving quest this morning, with its cycle of hope, disappointment, and persistence for something more, reflects the course of an honestly lived life. NO MAS is an ironic conclusion. One of the better puzzle/review combinations in recent memory.

pabloinnh 7:50 AM  

I started somewhere near the top with an across and then came a down off that and then an across and so on, like going down stairs, and I wound up in the SE corner where NOMAS was a gimme, and I said aha!, as we are wont to do, and went back looking for places to add MAS, which was futile. So I thought, oh, let's try MA's, which was a much better idea. It also explained why TALE was actually TAMALE, to cite an obvious application.

Like @Joaquin, it took me a while to find all the missing MA's, turned into a Thursday word search. Hand up for not caring about a (foolish) consistency. Thought it was fun.

Only WTF was ADLI, I assumed there should me a missing MA in there somewhere but damned if I knew where it might go.

Thanks for the fun CC. You can be my Thursday puzzle person any time

Petsounds 7:52 AM  

My road to the solve was similar to Rex's, going astray with the MA in 1A/1D, feeling slightly queasy about it with (MA)STIFF (but not fitting the down), then hitting "webmaster"/"tamale" and realizing I wasn't in Kansas any more. But here's the thing: If I'd just gone to the revealer clue right away, I'd have cost myself a lot less time and head-scratching. So it's on me.

Once I got it, I sailed. Clever and enjoyable. And like Rex, I loved METHREE. Reminded me of being a little kid and thinking that saying that was the height of wit.

John H 7:56 AM  

I have to agree with Rex. I was prepared for a joy ride with the answer to the 1's, which I did fill in with a rebus, and then I went looking for more. Nope. The results were real words that mostly had not relation to the clue (unless you think you can equate "ladies" with "aches and pains"...which I can't).

Absolutely hated it.

Hungry Mother 7:56 AM  

Almost got it. Thought it was a weird sort of rebus. DNF.

Anonymous 7:56 AM  

Different perspective: I’m Mexican so I thought the ‘enough’ was ‘basta’. I don’t want to speak for all parts of Mexico, but ‘no mas’ sounds awkward. I wasted a lot of time trying to find a way to fit ‘basta’ in.

GHarris 7:56 AM  

I learned something yesterday which got me through today; less is more. Once I stopped trying to rebus, which is what I thought was de rigueur for a Thursday,and started using a single letter,ala yesterday, everything fell in place.Loved it. And yes, Rex, 7 Up May be a drink but it’s also a tie score or draw.

BobL 7:58 AM  

A won de this and the n still nages to ke it seem like nure.

John Child 8:09 AM  

So why is 1D missing it’s MA but none of the other downs crossing missing MAs follow the pattern? Ten theme answers and the oddball down / eleventh theme answer... Otherwise a pleasure and dead on medium time here.

Lobster11 8:09 AM  

It seems to me that Rex's description of fumbling around, trying to figure out the trick, is exactly what you DO want on a Thursday. What's the fun if you figure it out on your first guess? Having several hypotheses shot down before discovering the answer should be a good thing, shouldn't it?

QuasiMojo 8:17 AM  

My bagel choice was "shmear" (schmear didn't fit) and it was downhill from there. And yet I still beat my average time. All I can say is I did it "For MaMa."

Cue Matt Monro video...

Otto 8:19 AM  

Yeah, gotta agree, this was not a good one.

George 8:20 AM  

Years ago I was a pilot flying chartered jets, and ALDI chartered one of our jets to fly two young college graduates across the state for a job interview. I remember thinking how could these youngsters possibly have skills that would be worth that expense.

relicofthe60s 8:21 AM  

Why does webster have to be the obscure term for a weaver? Ever heard of Daniel Webster? Noah Webster? Merriam Webster? This seems like a mean-spirited review of a fine, if easy, puzzle. I thought Rex would like this because the theme answers are all real words unlike in yesterday’s puzzle. Boy was I wrong. Also, the rant every time NRA appears is getting a little old.

RAD2626 8:23 AM  

Like Rex and @Hungry Mother got messed up in Square 1 since MAD fit so well. When I got to MASTIFFS just thought it was a cute MA puzzle with extra letters thrown in and a one- way rebus but TAMALE ruined that idea. Still enjoyed the solve and the clean fill and the cluing. Draw is a fair clue but very hard. May still not have found all the missing ma’s. Totally agree that Ms. Burnikel is a prolific superstar.

mmorgan 8:25 AM  

We have an Aldi here in Western Mass., but I don’t think many people go there. Their stuff is pretty crappy. It’s also almost across the street from a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe’s, both of which are usually packed to the gills. I know there’s some complicated connection between Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s but I don’t really care. I saw several Aldi’s in Australia over the past six weeks.

The puzzle was fine. Rex has a point but for me it wasn’t as bad as he makes out. I did most of it last night and was tired so I finished it this morning and forgot about the MA thing so I couldn’t figure out why the answer to “Aches and pains” was LADIES. Ha!

JMS 8:35 AM  

I had rebuses in all the right places. I read the revealer as some of the answers stripped the “ma” from the rebus.
My time would have been well below average, but I kept looking for another “ma-less” rebus answer, which, by the time I tried clearing the rebuses my time vaulted into the stratosphere.
Didn’t so much hate the puzzle, but hated the rebus or not to rebus trick on the heels of the previous non-rebus puzzle.

Rube 8:41 AM  

@albatross. Jim Backus appreciates the shout out. Similarly why isn't 14D "mature fillies" . or 4D "alternative to Whirlpool and Maytag".

I dont see any symmetry either.

A substandard effort overall

Paul & Kathy 8:51 AM  

Webmaster is still a thing.
Aldi is very much a thing.

As for the NRA, I don't know if you subscribe to the paper itself, but if you solve it on their website, you see there is a Deb Amlen article associated with this puzzle to provide hints on how to solve it. At the end it mentions that the editor has been spoken to about the cutesy clues for NRA, and they will be, like this puzzle, no mas.

P. Lee 8:58 AM  

Is that all there is?

The MAs just seemed so......random.

I keep thinking there has to be more to this, because if that's all there is my friends, then let's keeping dancing, break out the booze and have a ball, If that's all.... there is.

Whatsername 9:01 AM  

I can’t recall a day when I have ever been more in agreement with Rex Parker. I started out with a double MAD rebus at 1A/1D. Oh joy, a rebus Thursday! Then on to WEBSTER? TAmale? Slowly realizing something is off but anyway soldier on. After seeing the revealer, of course knew then it was not MAD but MA. Okay! Now I’m excited. This is going to be a lot of fun. Can’t wait. Then clunk, clunk, clunk, WTF? I think if there had been some consistency like all the missing MAs at the beginning or the end or even better, doubles both down/across - I would have absolutely loved it. Maybe I’m a little too inflexible but for me, por favor, NOMAS like this.

As others have noted, Rex rants about the lack of women constructors but hasn’t done them any favors so far during honor the women week. I’m beginning to wonder if Will Shortz is trying to make a point. You want female constructors? I’ll show you female constructors. As @Joaquin said, be careful what you wish for.

Z 9:06 AM  

I really like the anti-rebus on occasion, i.e. rather than cramming extra letters into a square we just yank them out. Having a seeming rebus at 1A/1D was devilishly coy or devilishly mean... I thought it fair enough to throw us a misdirection at 1A.

@Birchbark - So sort of a No Exit or Waiting for Godot puzzle review. I see it.

@anonymous7:56 - We’re Americans, so we get most of our Spanish from sports sound bites and Taco Bell ads.

ALDI has 10,000 stores in 20 countries, so hardly regional. And yes, the founders of ALDI and Trader Joe’s are brothers.

@Frantic Sloth late yesterday - Okay okay. I guess @M&A gets no credit for the fat pewit singing line.

MissScarlet 9:06 AM  

Yes, malingering means pretending to be ill.
Amelia was a pretty good movie.
Webmaster is still in use.
Lots of Aldis in LA.
I enjoyed this puzzle very much, especially because it was not formulaic.

Frantic Sloth 9:08 AM  

The NW and NE corners had me buggered at the get-go, despite knowing the MA is what was missing.

The crossing of LATE/TALE drove me to search for a much more complicated theme with letters swirling all over the place above my head. Once I realized its simplicity, things started to flow. When I finally reached the revealer, it was “Ah, of course!”

Ignorance is bliss and I spend much of my life in utter jubilation, so I’m not let down at all about the asymmetry of the whole thing; however, I question the wisdom of admitting this, but it’s too funny (well, to me anyway):

In the NW, I see the “much-painted religious figure” clue and then the answer and then I go “who the hell is DONNA?? Is there a Saint DONNA?? I don’t remember a Saint DONNA!”

....And then...


What a jamoke.

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

Not only webmaster is not obscure, it's a very much actual real life every day term. It's what you are officially called when you register domain name for your own web site. Any decent whois site will show you web master's contact info per each of your requests. That much for constant clamour for modernization here...

OxfordBleu 9:22 AM  

@mmorgan 8:28 we must be neighbors, assuming you are talking of the Aldi and Trader Joe's across Russell Street from each other!!

I actually really enjoyed this puzzle. Probably not a speed puzzler's cup of tea because, well, you have to think a bit more, but the conceit that you can remove MA and leave a perfectly good word in its place seems fine for me and made for an enjoyable Thursday.

I guess the take-home message here is that Rex doesn't discriminate when he's panning a puzzle in his reviews, but this isn't a banner week for women if he's pretty much hated every one of them so far. Female constructors please submit more puzzles to the NYT so you can be taken down by acidic "wit" herein.

Nancy 9:24 AM  

There was either something very wrong with this puzzle or something very wrong with me. I came here to see who had the Epic Fail: Ms. Burnikel or me.

Alas, it's me.

You see, I was doing a rebus, and my rebus squares were all different: MAD; MAS; MAI and MAN. And then only the Across answers made sense. The revealer didn't help me because I was looking for "MAS", not for "MA"s.

Would this have come to me if I'd walked away for the day and looked at it again later with a fresh eye? Probably not. I had an idee fixe and I don't think it was going away any time soon.

I think this is quite a clever puzzle. I wish I'd enjoyed it while solving, but the problem is that I never felt I was solving. More frustration than pleasure, I'm afraid.

Z 9:30 AM  

@Whatsername - Wanting more non-white male representation does not lead to lowering expectations of what a puzzle should be. Those are two distinct things. Rex thinks CC can do better. The appropriate thing to do is to say so. If you want Gold Stars for effort go somewhere else. Agree or disagree with Rex and the standards he lays out, but whoever you are, you’re going to get his honest response to the puzzle.

@Paul and Kathy - What you wrote made it sound to me like somebody at the NYT spoke to Shortz. That’s not the case. Here’s the full paragraph:
19A. I’m told that the N.R.A. is going to be in The New York Times Crossword once in a while because it’s a thing and the editors feel that crosswords should reflect real life. Flippant, wordplay clues about it, however, are not appropriate. I asked the editors about it, and the consensus was that going forward, that sort of thing will not happen again.

Len 9:31 AM  

Double confusion for me. First, "no mas" translates to "no more". ""Basta" translates to "enough". Secondly, the "s" at the end of "mas" does not become clearly plural for a while. Any road, a big meh for me.

Kevin 9:34 AM  

I hated it. I still don’t really understand what was going on. I get that MA is dropped, but the “sometimes in both directions and sometimes not” thing ruined it for me. I’d have preferred just scrapping the “but only in one direction” instances and clueing those for the underlying words.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Rex doesn't understand one up as a synonym for a tie? Good grief, has never played a game of pickup basketball?

Paul & amp: hope you're wrong about the NRA clueing. caving into hysterics is bad precedent.

Dan 9:38 AM  

|I also deeply resent when the revealer is so transparent that if I'd just looked for it at the beginning of the solve, the whole thing would've become transparent.

So in other words "the puzzle wasn't designed exactly for people like me that only care about how fast we can do the crossword and is therefore unfun."

The only issue I see is they should have swapped today's and yesterday's. (And the issue with the tense choice in 1A threw me off until I had finished the rest.)

Birchbark 9:41 AM  

@Z (9:06) -- A fair comparison. Up to us whether we laugh or cry, or in my case punt on it and clean the garage.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

This puzzle should never have made it to print. Many people comment on the trickiness of the theme, but nobody is commenting on the fact that the theme contradicts itself to the point of making this unsolvable. Plenty of words in the English language can have letters added to them to form new words, but when you deliberately construct a theme that invokes specific added on letters, but which at the same time requires omitting those letters to solve the puzzle, it is a solving contradiction which is not tricky, but rather wholly unfair. Invoking the presence of missing letters in crossword solving always implies either a rebus or another twist, but not requiring those missing letters to actually and ultimately be involved in the solve doesn’t count as a twist. It counts as bad construction and bad editing. It’s no different than having, say, the word “too” as an answer in a puzzle, and then saying it’s the theme simply because other answers in the grid can pair with it, like the words “funny” or “late” or “bad.” That’s fine if the puzzle requires the solver to add the word “too” before those words, but it’s not fine if the puzzle requires you to do nothing differently than solving the puzzle as is, as one normally would. It’s meaningless, it doesn’t count as a theme at all, and it defines the difference between tricky and sneaky, as well as solvable and unsolvable. This is a good puzzle to show your friends, not for publishing, and as such, the real failure therefore rests with Will Shortz.

Brian 9:45 AM  


RooMonster 9:52 AM  

Hey All !
Dang, @M&A, did you do something to CC? Har.

The missing MAs are symmetrical. Look again, for those who don't see it. Top two, 1A, 8A, bottom two, 70A, 71A, 40A-41A, 1D (with the symmetrical Revealer NO MAS at 56D, which is why there are 11, not 12), 12D-58D, 32D-36D. There ya go.

This is why my solving method of going through all the Acrosses and Downs first is good. You hit the Revealer sometimes to see just what the hey is going on. I got the NO MAS, and said, "Hey, the MAS will be gone from the themers!" So went looking. Turned out it was just MA, and the -s was meant as multiple MAs. Then got a chuckle out of thinking how @M&A pissed off CC!

WEBSTER, Rex, common. Didn't even know your definition of it. :-) Merriam-Webster, man!

Good puz, different, fun. NE corner toughest for me. O CANADA and NOT A BIT a tad hard to see. Plus, didn't know 1A was a themer for some reason.

Four F's

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Even granting your point that Rex is giving his honest onion of every puzzle he reviews, it's still quite possible that his hostility toward some constructions, and admiration of others, honestly affects his feelings and with it, his judgment.
For example, lots of people, including plenty on the board, really enjoy a lot of Bruce Haight's puzzles. Rex always condemns them. It appears reflexive. So while his feeling are honest, his reviews aren't dispassionate. And a critic with an agenda, is a critic not to be trusted, no matter how sincere his "response" is. As for Rex's standards. Meh. they seem capricious, malleable, virtually ad hoc. Sometimes he likes wacky phrases, sometimes he excoriates them. That's just one easy example; search your heart. Rex likes some constructors and gives them leeway, others not so much. And all his high falutin' standards (are the codified? If so, where?) are so much sophistry in service of his ego and mood.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Yesterday you complained that the themers did not create real or satisfying answers after the gimmick. Today they do, and you don't even make note of it.

Just because you didn't get the theme on your first guess does not mean that the puzzle is bad. If anything, that probably makes it better. Take a step back and you'll see it's as well clued and constructed as any of Burkinel's puzzles--although I agree that ECORP is not good.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

I get the paper NYTimes daily for news as I don’t have a “tv” and I used to enjoy the crossword puzzles. Now, perhaps 1 in 20 or so are actually enjoyable. What other puzzle sites (free-I’m already spending way too much for the paper) have more reliably interesting puzzles?

Roberto Duran 10:21 AM  

Whatever the literal translation of no mas from the Spanish to English may be, for the past 40 years it's meant "I'm a little cry-baby bully who finally met someone tougher than I and ran home crying home Mamasita".

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

So do most of you go straight to the theme revealer clue?

Ernonymous 10:24 AM  

I was like Rex in that I struggled in the NE and I finished with WEBSTER and I didn't realize it was WEBMASTER. I got hung up there. Trying to use the Tamale to make Webmaster and it was quite confusing. Duh, Webmaster, right!

I got NO MAS right away, for some reason I was in that section early on. I kept trying to put BASTA in there.

@mmorgan ALDI is a good store if you want to get in and out fast and don't care about name brands. There are only about 10 aisles, and they only carry basic items. The checkout goes lightening fast because they toss your items into the cart, no bagging, just a Scan and Hurl. As far as the quality, the canned and boxed stuff can be somewhat crap, like the crackers suck. However, they carry organic and the produce, bread, meat, refrigerated products are fine. There is also a housewares/clothing and seasonal aisle with great finds at half the price of Target. I get half my xmas shopping done in Aldi. You have to put a quarter into the shopping cart. I love it because I am in an out in 5 minutes and it's cheap. The one I go to is always packed.

At the end I counted and I didn't have 11 only 8 or 9 MAS. INROADS filled itself in. I liked the puzzle, but I shop at ALDI so I'm not picky.

xyz 10:25 AM  

Got it very early at (MA)STIFFS

But I got bored finishing the NE last ...

Always a bit of a pain when the NE is last to fall

Decent puzzle, though

John Hoffman 10:33 AM  

Agree with One-up clue. Makes no sense to me.

Mexican “enough” is BASTA which is where I went. But NO MAS works, too.

For GOO, could have clued: "Nearly blind cartoon character" as someone above wrote. Then you’d have 12.

Molasses 10:41 AM  

I liked it! Muddled through the whole thing, typing in rebuses where I spotted them, even if one-way, till I got to the revealer and got the "something's amiss" message. Went through and changed the rebuses to whatever was left after taking out the MA, and ta da, happy music.

@RooMonster, thanks for explaining the symmetry. Probably easier to spot it if you solve on paper. It might have been fun if the WEBSTER had made the MAs appear and disappear after the solve the way they did with that Schrodinger's Cat puzzle a while back. As is, the theme answers blend into the scenery.

Swagomatic 10:41 AM  

It was kinda like yesterday. I thought it was okay. I fell for the first 3 or 4 pitfalls before I realized what was going on. It was better than most Thursdays.

Kevin O'Connor 10:46 AM  

And I’m never sure in doing rebus-heavy puzzles that they will tote up at the end.

Kevin O'Connor 10:46 AM  

On an iPhone that is.

Z 10:50 AM  

@anon9:38 - What Rex wrote is that "one-up" and "one up" are two different things. ONEUP can be "best," "worst," "tied," or "do one better than in silly debate." I don't think Rex is correct about the hyphen thing, I'm pretty sure there are no hard and fast rules, heck not even soft and slow rules, when it comes to slang. But he does seem to know that ONEUP can mean tied.

@Anon9:58 - Lots of people like Bud Lite. That doesn't make it good beer. Heck, my mother-in-law likes ALDI's house beers. <>

@Anon10:21 - No. Some do. Some actively avoid it. Some (me) just go with the flow and find it when they find it.

@Roo - Har.

@Birchbark - It always needs cleaning.

Newboy 10:58 AM  

@Roberta (6:19) nailed it. I have the exact same responses that Rex made bullets, so bad/mad/sad/lad here—but ironically I still enjoyed searching for MA like the orphaned solver I felt like today. I was flummoxed by OTB without a parlor attached? Maybe someone will clarify as I read later posts.

Ron 11:00 AM  

I found the theme oddly easy to figure out, and ironically mostly got it early from WEB(MA)STERS, being a nerd from the 90s.

Best part is, I didn't know the expression NOMAS, but by the time I got there I had N____ and filled in the rest from knowing the theme

Tom R 11:04 AM  

I knew there was a rebus there, but like Rex it took me finding the revealer clue for me to get it. IMV this particular puzzle (ma)de faces.

Masked and Anonymous 11:06 AM  

That's no MA's … not no M&A's … right? (yo, @Roo)
Otherwise, I'd be forced to do a no CC's runtpuz; which would be a lot easier than a no ZB's one.

This puz does have an MA in it, tho [at 56-D]. But real neat how all the stuff with the MA sucked out of em are still stand-alone decent words. Cool constructioneerin.

fave answer: PANGRAM. Musta been sub-liminally tryin to compensate a little bit for no JKQVXYZ's.
Also, PANGRAM got to keep its PA, at least. So not totally orphaned.

Like most decent, M&A-lovin folks, M&A assumed a MAD rebus, right outta the gate. Then the gate slammed back down on m&e in the WEBSTER/TALE un-MAD region. I liked the theme idea, but still left wonderin about the choice of M and A, for the take-out letters strategy. Mommy issues, perhaps. Yeah, that's surely gotta be it.

staff weeject pick: MA. It's wee and gets ejected a lot.

Thanx I think, CC.

Sked & AnonymoUUs


Homer Simpson 11:06 AM  

Edumacation and saxomaphone would have been good themers.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Actually Aldi is a German grocery store chain, while Trader Joe’s is American and its founder passed away just a few days ago. Aldi was founded by two brothers but they don’t have anything to do with TJ’s.

What? 11:22 AM  

Got NO MAS and then MADONNA. That’s it. Not worth the trouble of looking for the other MA’s.
Not that this matters but the construction seems pretty easy. Merriam has a Scrabble app that can list words that e.g. start with, end with, or contain MA, and sort them by size.

pmdm 11:23 AM  

I usually don't have time to read the comments more than once. So, reading yesterday's comments again, I found my comment turned into white space. Don't no why. I did thank Z for revisiting the PPP definition a few days ago.

On to this puzzle. I enjoy puzzle that do the unexpected and make me reason out what's going on. Sometimes, like today, I become misled, although I did at last understand what was going on. Still could not finish the NE corner. That did not abate my enjoyment. Burnikel a truly a good constructor.

What Z says is true. Mr. Sharp responds emotionally to a puzzle and should be afforded that right to voice his emotion. In a gentlemanly manner (say I). I think the problem is that after expressing his opinion, he often follows up with a rambling defense (not the best word) of why he feels the way he does. See today's justification. Such rants may seem boring to some, repetitive to others, invalid to others and so on. That's where the anger at him expressed in these comments seems to originate. Were he just to summarize the things he doesn't like in a numbered list and append the list on the right side of the page, he could just say "I didn't like this puzzle be of [number list]. Besides saving him time, it would allow readers to get to his (usually} interesting asides faster. But I doubt that would eber happen.

I went for a walk yesterday and came upon many cluster of the earliest crocuses (or is it croci?) that are in bloom, reminding me that the equinox is but 2 weeks aways (and daylight savings time upon us even sooner). Happy warm(er) weather.

GrooGrux 11:34 AM  

@ Anon 9:45

The puzzle does not contradict itself. There are 11 clues that have potential answers containing the string "ma". You delete the "ma" to enter it into the grid. As the revealer states, there are no ma's in these 11 actual answers. I think it's neat that the actual answers are also words. So they could be sussed out by crosses, and the theme will be hidden. When you get to the revealer, the troubling clues make sense.

GILL I. 11:38 AM  

Where to even begin.....Well, @Rex nailed it for me. Best write-up this year.
I never thought I'd ever say that CC gave me a headache. Yes...she's one of the best, yet today I got a little MAD.
Like @Nancy I had my little MAD TAM MAS MAI in a neat little row. I never go looking for the revealer because I like trying to go crazy looking for a reason for the puzzle. So I kept filling in answers thinking I would eventually figure it out. I'm a BASTA girl. I would never say NO MAS for enough. Well, that didn't help. I've never wanted a cigarette so badly. I chewed on my pen.
Oh, I saw what she was doing and I actually thought it was quite brilliant to come up with the idea. The problem is that her pattern caused a lot of confusion; that drove me nuts.
Am I secretly a person that carries MALICE around my sleeve? Is Will pulling out some of the meh's of the female persuasion? I was hoping for a @Nancy goody and maybe a Liz goody tomorrow? Please?

What? 11:40 AM  


Rube 11:41 AM  

I have to disagree. If you put the MAs into the grid where they belong the symmetry disappears or is at least largely obscured.
As for solving, 1A and 1D were not intuitive. I started with OCANADA and the crossword with EDIE Falco. If she had been the revealer, I'd have been on my way while you were guessing at across answers.

I don't care about speed. I prefer to go for an elegant solve.

Gene 11:43 AM  

The MA thing was confusing, and somewhat difficult to figure out precisely what was going on. Rex, THATS A FEATURE, NOT A BUG!

PHV 11:51 AM  

Cob of corn? Pls explain.

What? 11:55 AM  

Try the WSJ, LA Times, New Yorker. Free? No but you get news and cartoons.
Go to a bookstore (or, God forbid, Amazon) and buy a puzzle anthology. Lots to choose from and price per puzzle pretty low.

JC66 11:56 AM  

Different strokes for different folks.

Figured out that MA was missing at 12D (TAmaLE), but it still took some time for me to figure out some of the others.

Thanks to Roberto Duran, I filled in NO MAS (56D) without reading the clue past "Enough" in didn't know it was the reveal until coming here. Took the puzzle from meh to meh+.

Thanks to @@Rube (8:41) for pointing out that 4D (AmaNA) and 14D (maRES) could have been themes as well.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

too irritated to check the comment stream, SO... aren't rebi supposed to work in BOTH directions?????

Rug Crazy 12:02 PM  


JC66 12:03 PM  

@Anon 11:59

Too funny.

To the answer to your question, read the comments.

Christine Ereiser 12:04 PM  

Thank you. Thought it was just me.

Clay 12:07 PM  

Thank you, Rex!! My thoughts exactly. My solving experience was almost identical to what you described, and having the MA missing for both 1A and 1D was just evil, because that isn't repeated anywhere else in the grid. And then my thinking followed yours through the puzzle almost identically. I, like you, kept looking for some organizational principle, and of course, there isn't one. A most unsatisfactory experience.

What? 12:12 PM  

One reason this puzzle is so meh is that the two words you end up with (with and without MA) are not related to each other. So you add the MA, look at the new word and are underwhelmed. Better would be to relate the two words, and better yet if they were funny together.
Here’s an example. The reveal is adding OM. The clue is “Bathtub Manischevitz”. The fill is HEBREW. Adding OM gives you HEBREW HOMEBREW.

Anonymous 12:18 PM  


my question refers to the 'rules' of puzzle construction, not what this puzzler/constructor did. IOW, this puzzle breaks a 'rule'

jberg 12:18 PM  

I do think that having dropped MAs crossing each other in the upper left corner is a fault. I liked the puzzle a bit less for that, but I still liked it because of the challenge of figuring it all out. I never did see (MA)INROADS; I thought INROADS didn't quite fit the clue as I wrote it in, but never went back to it --so I didn't see the symmetry until I came here.

I worked at a university for 42 years (and still do, part-time). In the early days of the Internet our department created its own webpage -- I think I did the first one myself, after reading "HTML for Dummies" -- so there was no stylistic consistency, and some inappropriate content (political statements that threatened our tax exempt status). Then the university hired a WEBMASTER, and pretty soon it would take a week just to get an error changed, because everything had to be reviewed and approved, for both content and format. So, yes, the word is still in use.

Rex has a point that "one up" is not the same as "one-up," but the dual meanings of "up" here -- better by one, or tied -- are still interesting. I'm hoping @Loren will come here and explain it to us!

JC66 12:26 PM  

@Anon 12:18


There are no rebi in this puzzle.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  


Me Muvver would disagree. She looks like Hillary Clinton, flour covered apron and all. Fits, if it were done by the rules, perfectly. Or Olde Mother Hubbard, if you prefer. NO MAs, you see. Or graduate degrees.

albatross shell 12:34 PM  

See late yesterday. Nancy a week away.

MARES would not work as a themer because it would ruin the symmetry unless MAST L is a thing. However AMANA works pretty well because of MAGOO symmetry is preserved.

CDilly52 12:34 PM  

I am not a constructer, and I rarely take time to disagree with @Rex who is and who competes, and who teaches construction. In fact, I typically am enlightened by his perspectives even when I may disagree. Today, though, I think he just missed the entire point of the whole puzzle. Yep, MAs were missing, but the beauty of the result was that all of the remaining words stood alone to make a very complete, very interesting experience, even though the experience was more “academic” than usual. I got this from the off with [MA]DONNA. Sure, my reflex was Rebus, but didn’t put it in Rebus format simply because of yesterday’s cleverness. When I went to slam in WEB[MA]STER (and c’mon @Rex, every website still directs you to contact the WEBMASTER), I saw that the Rebus wouldn’t work, and that without the MA, everything was a word so that the initial 1A and 1D in which the Rebus does work wouldn’t carry through. As for WEBSTER, it is a real word as well as being a proper name and the title of a tv show. It is as valid as all of them other stand alone words that remain without the MA.

Ms. Bunikel is an absolute favorite of mine for precisely the types of clever and academic (for want of a better word-someone help me out here) puzzles. This was a work of art and I forced myself not to go searching for the reveal when I got the conceit so early. Gave me a real chuckle when I found it! Ms. B is quite a tough act to follow!

Joe’s Granddaughter 12:37 PM  

#me three

Carola 12:38 PM  

One of my favorite only-a-grandma-could-love-it home video clips is of my ~2-year-old granddaughter toddling up to her mother, laying her head on her knee, and wailing, "I'm fwustwated, MAMA!" Well, me, too. I got the idea just fine, but the inconsistencies that @Rex pointed out left my brains in a snarl. I do admire the ingenuity of the construction.

Anonymoose 12:46 PM  

@Anonymous 11:59. It's not a rebus. What's the tter with you?!

ghostoflectricity 1:03 PM  

There is no such thing as one "tamale." If you're going to be respectful and woke re: Mexican-Spanish culture and language (especially when your reveale is in Spanish), please remember that the singular of "tamales" is "tamal." "Tamale" is a white-privilege gringoism. I've said this before. BTW I also get the paper NYT.

bagelboy 1:03 PM  

im fine with two Thursdays a week. twice the fun. Only problem cross at 57 i dont speak French and never heard of the supermarket chain. Ran the vowels there to finish.

Teedmn 1:09 PM  

I had every single thought while solving this that others here had - the rebuses not matching, the, "where's the 11th one, DAMN it!", ETC. so my reaction is ME THREE to the nth power.

That said, I thought this was great. That I got to the revealer at the very end and my reaction was "of course" (head slap) is a good thing in my book. My one agreement with Rex is the stupid clue for DRAW. I could tell there was something wrong with either 31A or 32D and because 31A's clue was so lame, I kept trying to add an MA there which would make it work (hadn't noticed symmetry). On the other hand REIN didn't mean "Stay behind" either. Gah. RE[MA]IN was another head-slap moment. DRAW, not so much.

I winced at the clue for NRA and the Rex response was as expected. On the other hand, I circled the clue for 28D as the most mis-directional for me. Dancer, Santa's reindeer, har. I had a few interesting images flash through my brain for that one before it clicked!

CC, thanks so much, this was a very fun Thursday for me!

And @Karl Grouch, from yesterday, I loved your use of the grid answers to create something between Jabberwocky and Chaucer.

albatross shell 1:33 PM  

Well, it is the NYT, the grey lady, isn't it? That's what you'd expect. But more seriously I'm Spanish illiterate, so I do appreciate the analysis.

MJB 1:33 PM  

To Anonymous t 11:09 who said Aldi had nothing to do with Trader Joe's, from the obituary a few days ago: "When Coulombe retired in 1988 (he had sold interest to German company Aldi Nord in 1979), Trader Joe's had 19 stores."

Preferred Customer 2:03 PM  


Is there an MA in 46D? This inersects the last across with one, but it doesn't appear to have one.

Am I missing something?


jae 2:20 PM  

Medium. Jeff Chen at Xwordinfo does a fine job of describing my solve. I got hung up on DRAW and ALDI (which was a total WOE) thinking they might be part of the theme and I, like most of you, started out with a MAD rebus in square one. I will say this was a tad irritating from a “staring at the grid post-solve” perspective trying to find the MAS, however I thought it was clever. Liked it.

....and, EDIE Falco’s new show “Tommy” is worth a look.

ccredux 2:58 PM  

“Enough!” es “¡Basta” !

john towle 3:05 PM  

No más is bad Spanish. Nada más is ok but basta is the correct word. Nada más worked for me. Got everything just using mad and changing letters here and there. Without question tamal is correct: not Spanish but Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs)…one tamal/two tamales.

No hay de qué,


ComicSans 3:29 PM  

Two ’ffs’ for ’guard dog’ meant only one thing. Despite this, I struggled with no-salt bagels, one-upmanship, and ’let it go’ for ’I agree.’

A melted ice cream Thursdae for sure, and in that messy, delicious way, still a treat.

DigitalDan 3:36 PM  

I was a silly webmaster at least once, so...

I thought "one up" was "ad in", and was amused to realize that it can either mean "one ahead" or "one all;" the "up" meaning "all" is quite a strange idiom. So I was kind of pleased with that cluing; learned something.

Whatsername 3:53 PM  

@Z (9:30) - I agree no one should be lowering expectations and all constructors/crosswords should be judged by the same standards. I can see where my comment “he hasn’t done them any favors” could be construed as as implying that, but it was not my intention. And you’re 100% right about Rex; he doesn’t pull any punches. I respect that and wouldn’t want it any other way. Also thanks for clarifying the NRA discussion. It’s a sticky wicket but that seems like a reasonable response.

Ando 3:59 PM  

Two things about this completely annoyed me. One, the NY Times app did not accept rebus as correct answers, so there was no way to keep track of how many of the eleven themer answers you'd found. I entered everything like [MAD]EFACES, and spent an extra ten minutes trying to figure out which answer was wrong, before changing them all to [D]EFACES and getting the solve.

Secondly I don't like the themer clue -- when entering as rebus entries, the 11 answers seemed to apply to the ones with "NO mas" -- so I thought WEB[MAS]TER wasn't one of the eleven, while the cross [S]LOWED was, since it was read without the MA. Grrrrr.

JC66 4:17 PM  


It's not a "rebus" puzzle. the MAs (NO MAS) have been removed from the 11 themers (see the beginning of @Rex's write up where he lists them).

Geezer 4:29 PM  

It is clear that the unhappiness over today's puzzle results from misunderstanding the theme. @GrooGrux earlier today provided a good explanation-- "There are 11 clues that have potential answers containing the string "ma". You delete the "ma" to enter it into the grid. As the revealer states, there are no ma's in these 11 actual answers. I think it's neat that the actual answers are also words. So they could be sussed out by crosses, and the theme will be hidden. When you get to the revealer, the troubling clues make sense." And, it is not a rebus puzzle.

Z 4:52 PM  

@pmdm - I can still see a comment by you on yesterday’s comments.

Joe Dipinto 5:20 PM  

@P. Lee 8:58 – If that's the way you feel about it, why don't you just end it all?

pmdm 5:27 PM  

Z: You are correct. For some reason, it did not display on my computer yesterday but does today. Very odd indeed.

turkeyneck 5:36 PM  

So I got the ‘gimmick’ but the NYT app didn’t like my literal attempts until I simply dumped the “MA” predicate. Then...victory!

RooMonster 5:49 PM  

As others have said,
The puz is not a Rebus puz, it is simply removing the letters MA from the themers.
The reason you aren't getting the Happy Music is because there is no rebus.

Also, the reason the missing MAs don't go in both directions, is because They Aren't There.
Get it?

@CC, this was a good puz. I'm sure she doesn't give a whazz what any of us think. 😀

What did I do to piss you off? I already admitted my way to solve is wrong. How's this:
I apologize if I offended your solving method and your sensibilities. ☺️

RooMonster Puzzled One Guy

sanfranman59 5:52 PM  

"Dude...Your complaints are all variations on the same theme: Will Shortz Ruined The NYT Puzzle. How about some variety?"
– Rex Parker to blog commenter, 2/17/2007

To Rex's credit, his second paragraph diatribe describes the process of solving a crossword puzzle to a tee. Why does he do so with such disdain? Somewhere along the way, OFL seems to have lost his love of actually solving a puzzle, as opposed to simply filling blank squares in a grid as quickly as possible. Look, I'm a speed-solver too and I sometimes get frustrated when I can't tear through a puzzle (perhaps more often than I'd care to admit). But I do really enjoy the process of solving a puzzle. Sure, I'm impressed by some puzzles more than others, but I only very rarely get perturbed at the constructor or Will for my inability to solve them.

WEB[MA]STER is out of bounds for a crossword puzzle because Rex hasn't heard this "stupid internet slang of yore" "since the '90s"? I'm no expert in such things, but it doesn't seem archaic to me. Is this term obsolescent?

His "resentment" toward the revealer makes no sense to me at all.

Anoa Bob 5:57 PM  

I think this has come up before but in light of today's rebus-vs-no rebus discussion, here's Merriam-WEBSTER's take:

re·​bus | \ ˈrē-bəs \
Definition of rebus
: a representation of words or syllables by pictures of objects or by symbols whose names resemble the intended words or syllables in sound
also : a riddle made up of such pictures or symbols

Seems accurate since rebus is Latin for "thing". By this standard, has there ever been a true rebus NYT crossword puzzle? Anyone know who coined the term rebus for a puzzle with multiple letters---not pictures or symbols---crammed into a single square.

Richardf8 6:04 PM  

But why isn't' " Melted ice cream" actually "Nearly blind cartoon character"?

Perhaps because CC didn’t want the RexRant about making fun of people with physical handicaps?

Monty Boy 6:08 PM  

I'm in the "liked it a lot" column. I made the same mistaken steps cited above and still liked the solve. For me, it was a Saturday I could do without a Google. @Lobster and @Roo said it for me.

If you didn't read @BobL 7:58, go back and do so. It's hilarious, Comment of the Day for me.

albatross shell 7:32 PM  

I do not think your question has been answered directly. The thing that is missing is that this is not a rebus. Not only does 46D not have an MA in it, but 71 across does not have an MA in it. The answer to the clue has an MA but it is taken out when you write the answer in. The only MA in the puzzle is in the reveal which is the only exception to it's own rule: No MAs. A perfect puzzle for Bizzaro Mothers Day.

bauskern 8:20 PM  

Bottom line: if it's tricky and it stumps Rex for a while, he's unhappy. That's why he didn't post his time. And then he comes up with all sorts of reasons why the puzzle stunk. He's like my least favorite person on the planet, next to Trump.

GILL I. 9:42 PM  

@sanfran. I'm not sure OFL has lost his love of solving. As for the speed solving, I think once you've mastered the fill in the blanks, why not test your speed ability. Everyone has their his/her reasons for puzzle excitement/enjoyment. I'm a sit down and take my time kinda gal and I don't care how anyone else gets their jollies.
I come here for the blog people. Frankly, that's how I get my jollies. I love doing the puzzles but the NYT has felt stale and "old" school. When we get the "retire EEL, AGORA, PHRENITIS (just kidding) then maybe it's time to say bye bye to the Maleska era and move into the 21st. @Rex doesn't always use his charm telling us this..(sigh). There are always other blogs to go to but they aren't as fun as this one.

Ernonymous 9:42 PM  

@anoa bob I wonder the same. Before I did these xword puzzles, I did mamy Rebus puzzles in Italy. The kind where pictures make up phrases. They are very popular there. I think they are easy and fun to make in Italian as so many syllables are also short words which can be represented in a picture.
I was wondering why they use Rebus to mean putting multiple letters into one square of a xword puzzle as well.

Anonymous 10:11 PM  

But why isn't' " Melted ice cream" actually "Nearly blind cartoon character"?

Thought this would spoil the symmetry of the answers, but actually it’s a missed opportunity:
”Fridge maker” at 4D fixes it.

At one point had only 10 missing MAs, and *so* wanted GIGOMALOS...

Mohair Sam 10:12 PM  

@BobL (7:58) - Awesome

brandsinger 12:09 AM  

I knew the NRA would trigger Rex. So predictably hyper-woke. And wrong.

pdplot 10:08 AM  

You people are weird. No Mas? You didn't get it? This octogenarian saw it right away and zipped through this puzzle. Webmaster is easy - my brother is one. I am always amazed how the human brain works - or doesn't.

Photomatte 10:15 AM  

My first hint there might be a rebus today was the clue for 40A (Large guard dogs), which I knew had to be Mastiffs. When I got the revealer (56D), I thought "ok, that's easy: there will be 11 answers with No Mas," because that's what the revealer said. The Spanish term for "enough!" is 'No Mas.' It's not the plural of No Ma. It's No Mas, not No Ma's. That tells me the letters MAS would be missing from 11 answers, but that meant there'd be a letter missing from Mastiffs. So I thought it must be a rebus and I entered MAS into the first square of 40A, which left me scratching my head as to what the answer could possibly be for 40D (small pouch) if it started with MAS.

Just a complete whiff on the theme. If you're going to use No Mas as the revealer for your puzzle, it has to be No Mas in the affected answers. The correct revealer should be No Ma and the clue should've been written in such a way as to get that answer.

Anonymous 7:53 PM  

Sister T is correct. There is no such thing as secular lent. The good news is that Lent is the andidote to the secular.

Leapfinger 1:29 AM  

@Anonymous 7:53pm

And I dote on the secular as well.

絹スミレ 4:58 AM  

I’m not sure why ‘be careful what you wish for’
Is applicable here...are
You saying wishing for women constructors will get you bad puzzles? Cause that’s what you’re implying. Rex complains about all puzzles and I’m glad he can complain about a woman-made puzzle as if it were any other puzzle because it IS any other puzzle just as much as it is a puzzle by a woman.

絹スミレ 5:11 AM  

You could have added ‘ma’ to any number of words already on the board to make new words. That’s why people are frustrated with the gimmick.

kitshef 4:29 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
kitshef 6:32 PM  

Wow. I really did not enjoy this one. OWEN/SELINA/AMELIA/ALDI/ECORP for starters. Don't have your puzzle's difficulty rely on obscurities.

Got through it, but with no enjoyment.

thefogman 11:24 AM  

Maybe Rex should review puzzles without looking at the constructors’ names beforehand. This would eliminate the impression of favouritism and free him to say exactly what he wants to say without shame or guilt.

spacecraft 11:31 AM  

Mayhap a bit of a letdown given the byline, but not nearly to the extent of OFC's. I found the McGuffin at [MA]STIFFS/[MA]LICE, noted that the MA-less words were still words, and like most, assumed that the MA's were all headers. I was soon disabused of that notion, so it was just "any time MA appears in a word, it disappears." So I took to wondering what the revealer might be--thus deliberately avoiding the SW until last. And there it WAS: NOMAS. @M&A (har!), the MA in the revealer has to get a pass because it's the revealer!

Silly me, I thought WEB[MA]STER WAS a "current" tech term. They don't have those any more?? God, I feel old. OCANADA: a letter add-on that gets a smooth pass here, because (a) it's a beautiful song, and (b) the clue relates it to hockey. Hilary Swank as AMELIA is DOD. For the average constructor, I'd call this a birdie; for this one: par.

Burma Shave 1:17 PM  


ISAID, "The LADIES MADEFACES, it's DAMN SAD how it goes,


Anonymous 1:40 PM  

ZB is my favorite constructor, and this was a particular delight. For example, 28D and 47A were gems. Personally, I detest rebuses usually, but enjoyed figuring this one out. It met all my standards for entertainment, mental challenge, and good fun.

rondo 3:05 PM  

I think the ONEUP puz yesterday was setting us up for this rebus-iness today. Got the 1 square pretty quick after starting but found the others tougher, especially where there were two on a line.

MADONNA deserves a yeah baby for her body of work.

There's a PANGRAM in the puz but the puz is no PANGRAM. Confusing in places, would've killed my time if I was keeping track.

rainforest 3:36 PM  

I think the sign of a clever puzzle occurs when you *think* you have it figured out, and then have to alter your thinking. This happened twice for me: once, when I thought that MAD was a rebus; the second time, I thought that MA was off the grid. It turned out that MA *was* involved (or not involved) in different ways, and in each case, with the MA not there, we were left with a stand-alone word. It's not only clever, it's brilliant, and the revealer seals the deal. Kind of delayed gratification, with which I am quite familiar.

I spent too long trying to make ALDI a themer, because I'm not aware of that store. They are not in Canada, as far as I know. I was also late in figuring out INROADS, until I realized that with the MA, it was (MA)INROADS. Ah, clarity.

What a fun puzzle to tussle with; great idea; great constructor.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

Symmetry requires a 12th.
If 56D clued as "Only Papas" then symmetrical with 1D.

leftcoaster 4:22 PM  

Got the gimmick early with WEBSTER/WEBMASTER and saw it as a rebus. So, set out to find as many MAs as I could and squeeze them in, instead of out.

That made for some inky messes, but found most of what I was looking for, though the find-and-solve game soon became a slog and not much fun.

Short of the finish line I declared "No mas!"

leftcoaster 7:22 PM  

Annoying leftover to whomever: How do you get TA[MA]LE and its no-show MA from its crossing TALE when WEB[MA]STER has already filled or vacated the related spaces? What's wrong here? This can't be a misconstruction. What am I missing?

leftcoaster 10:36 PM  

Okay, some of the missing MAs work with the downs and some work with the crosses. Apparently, the only one working both ways is MADONNA/MADEFACES in the NW corner. A tough misdirection for dealing with the NE corner's TAMALE.

Anonymous 12:45 AM  

In my opinion the mark of a good puzzle is one that requires you to logically move through ups and downs in your thinking in order to eventually arrive at the solution. This puzzle for me was very good. And it is one of those puzzles where you actually use the hint a great deal in order to solve. Not a lot of puzzles do that.

And Rex I know you don't usually read the comments but please bury your bigotry toward the NRA. Terrorist organization ? How many terrorist acts has it carried out ? Zero. White Supremacist organization ? I suppose the blacks in the NRA then are White Supremacists ?? Gimme a break.

Great puzzle.

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

I didn't notice the symmetry until I came here. That's because I stopped looking for it when I saw that the missing mas weren't symmetrical. But yeah...take a highlighter to the 11 words, and to the revealer, and there you go. Symmetry.

And kudos to Albatross Shell for spotting (MA)GOO and A(MA)NA. I wonder if that coupling fell victim to triskaidekaphobia.

Lastly, there is a small river in northern Italy called the Nure. Which is good. Put a “ma” in front of it. you get MA-NURE. When you consider the other choices, “manure” is actually pretty refreshing.

Anonymous 7:21 PM  

Aldi Nord has owned Trader Joe's since 1979. Aldi Sud owns the Aldi stores in the United Stares.

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