1992 rap song that popularized term bootylicious / TUE 6--16-20 / Waze technology for short / Hawaii's Forbidden Isle / Descend by rope as in mountaineering / Evil alter ego in Robert Louis Stevenson story / Bulky herbivorous dinosaur

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (3:31)

THEME: GRAY AREAS (61A: Ill-defined situations ... as seen four times in this puzzle?) — I'm guessing the grid in the app / paper has "gray areas" where the circled squares appear in my grid; these squares spell out units of measurement, which, if preceded by the word "square," become units of area. So the square inch, square foot, square yard, and square mile are all gray (literally) areas (figuratively)

Word of the Day: NI'IHAU (11D: Hawaii's "Forbidden Isle") —
Niʻihau (Hawaiian[ˈniʔiˈhɐw]) anglicized as Niihau (/ˈn.h, ˈn.ˌh/ NEE-how, NEE-ee-how) is the westernmost main and seventh largest inhabited island in Hawaii. It is 17.5 miles (28.2 km) southwest of Kauaʻi across the Kaulakahi Channel. Its area is 69.5 square miles (180 km2). Several intermittent playa lakes provide wetland habitats for the Hawaiian coot, the Hawaiian stilt, and the Hawaiian duck. The island is designated as critical habitat for Brighamia insignis, an endemic and endangered species of Hawaiian lobelioid. The United States Census Bureau defines Niʻihau and the neighboring island and State Seabird Sanctuary of Lehua as Census Tract 410 of Kauai County, Hawaii. Its 2000 census population was 160; Its 2010 census population was 170.
Elizabeth Sinclair purchased Niʻihau in 1864 for $10,000 from the Kingdom of Hawaii. The island's private ownership passed on to her descendants, the Robinsons. During World War II, the island was the site of the Niʻihau Incident, in which, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese navy fighter pilot crashed on the island, then terrorized its residents for a week. 
The island, known as "the Forbidden Isle", is off-limits to all but the Robinson family and their relatives, U.S. Navy personnel, government officials, and invited guests. From 1987 onwards, a limited number of supervised activity tours and hunting safaris have opened to tourists. The island is currently managed by brothers Bruce and Keith Robinson. The people of Niʻihau are noted for their gemlike lei pūpū (shell lei) craftsmanship. They speak Hawaiian as a primary language. (wikipedia)
• • •

Kind of a non-event, this one. There's just very little theme material, and you certainly don't have to have any sense of the theme to finish (I certainly didn't). Then when you're done, what do you have? Sixteen total squares of theme material?? And ... they're just basic units of measurement. And you have to infer the missing "square" part to get the "area" "joke" ... but there's just a big "But Why?" question hanging over the whole thing. No payoff. The solve wasn't too bad, if you take it as an easy themeless. But it wasn't exciting or interesting enough to be a themeless, and it also wasn't exciting or interesting enough as a themed puzzle, so it's just ... here. The NYTXW is gonna have to step up its game at least a little, as other publications are definitely coming after them, quality-wise. The USA Today is definitely more thoughtfully and carefully edited at this point (though its puzzles rarely get above Tuesday-level difficulty), and the New Yorker just made a big push into their burgeoning puzzle business, adding a Wednesday puzzle to go with their Monday and Friday offerings, and hiring three new regular constructors—all women. All. Women. This is great news for puzzledom and a pretty obvious slap in the face to the all-male-edited NYTXW, which has been so indifferent to the issue of gender equity and has had such a dismal recent record of publishing women. The NYTXW is a huge business, and won't feel any real heat from competition any time soon, but it's at least worth noting, for historical purposes if nothing else, that the non-NYT puzzle ecosystem has never been stronger than it is at this current moment. Right now. The NYTXW just isn't leading the way anymore. The NYTXW is stagnating. Same men making the same puzzles they've been making: competent, occasionally very good, but too often bad. At this point, it is definitely looking backward, not forward—completely contrary to Shortz's early editorship, which was revolutionary and important.

TESLA ORKIN YSL RONCO ALTOID LEGO TGEL—I don't know if that's more or less than the normal amount of brand names in a puzzle, but it feels like a lot, and they're awfully concentrated up top, particularly in that NW corner. I can tell you precisely where solvers are going to have trouble today: two answers that may as well be in neon, they're so different from the others in terms of general familiarity. NI'IHAU is the first and ABSEIL (45D: Descend by rope, as in mountaineering) is the second. If people have trouble, this is where they will have it. Oh, and the plural of CONCHS is super-weird-looking, so maybe folks had trouble there. Or maybe you never heard of T/GEL (37D: Neutrogena dandruff shampoo) (I think the shampoo I use is called T/SAL, also Neutrogena; I'm not in favor of either one as crossword material). FURL remains dumb without the UN- in front of it.

I had DULL before DRAB (26D: Lacking pizazz), but I think that's the only out-and-out error I had. I struggled with the two neon answers, but nothing else gave me much trouble. I liked the clue on ROCKS (66A: Wears stylishly, in slang). [Message with a hashtag] is the kind of clue for TWEET that only someone who had never seen Twitter could write. Tweets might contain hashtags. Or they might not. They might also contain links or pictures? Or nothing but text. Further, other social media posts feature hashtags. The clue just feels lazy. I wouldn't say this puzzle GOTANF (ugh), but it didn't GETANA, either.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:05 AM  

Pardon me while I ABSEIL down the middle of this puzzle into the valley of the IGUANODON on the isle of NIIHAU and poke my eyes out with an Ebola-dipped ice pick!

Whose idea of a Tuesday puzzle is this?? Not mine, I can tell you that.
And if it were only just that, but I basically hated the entire experience. The theme all but put me in a coma. (Who knows? I might still be there.) The fill was a rabid junkyard dog of mean and ugly.

I don't know about anyone else, but if I ever ask someone for a "boost" and that person GOOSES me, they're not long for this world. Not without reconstructive surgery at least.

The only positive thing I can say is ONESIE, but only because I literally enjoy saying ONESIE. The jury is still out on why that is, but it's probably the same gene that inexplicably makes me happy when it's 1° outside, because it's the only (in my mind) temperature where "degree" isn't pluralized.

See? I'm really not that difficult to entertain.

🧠🧠 (🧠🧠🧠.5 for a Tuesday)
-🎉 (yes, that is a negative 1 party favor.)

David Eisner 12:08 AM  

Have you thought about reviewing other puzzles instead, then? What's the point, at this point?

Mike in Mountain View 12:44 AM  

I count 25 theme squares, including the revealer, and you have to include the revealer because without it, what's the point of this theme? I thought the theme idea was good, by the way.

I would have put this on a Wednesday, though. ABSEIL and TGEL and IGUANADON were unknown to me, and NIIHAU was impossible to remember and slowed me down a fraction of a second while I typed in SEINE. That's not very Tuesdayish. The crosses were generally fair, though the clue for LAYON should have been "Word pair that is most often used ungrammatically."

Sorry, LMS. I know you hate prescriptivism. But I cannot tell a . . . lie.

Matthew Miller 1:00 AM  

I had some trouble, but not with what you point out: the GOOSES URIEL GAD downs crossing GOFOR nearly did me in. I've never once heard the first one, Paradise Lost has drifted outside my ken, GAD seems like crosswordese that I should know but just don't, and GOFOR just wouldn't come

okanaganer 1:31 AM  

I agree there were too many brand names, which I dislike. But on the plus side, there were fortunately no college sports team/mascot clues, which I hate even more. Oh jeez, I hate them so much.

I completely missed the note in Across Lite. (There needs to be a bigger visual flag for that.) So the grey/gray areas went way over my head.

Imperial vs Metric:
Imperial (sq in/sf: sf/sq yard: sq yd/sq mile) = 144: 9: 3,097,600(yikes!)
Metric (sq mm/cm: cm/m: m/km) = 100: 10,000: 1,000,000
just sayin', imperial be nuts. No wonder the US is messed up.

Ron 1:46 AM  

While actually climbing, I've never heard somebody call it ABSEIL, we say "rappel". When I hear ABSEIL, I think of a SEAL team or something. Maybe it's regional?

Got it right away, because I'm familiar with the term, but it's not what a climber would say. Maybe a caver?

Harryp 1:52 AM  

This wasn't a hard puzzle by any means, but there were still areas where I got hung up a little. My plural for 12D CONCH'S? would have been Conches, and DREYDAY was unfamiliar to me. ABSEIL was only easy because of the crosses, but NI'IHAU was in my wheelhous because it's in my backyard, so to speak. I enjoyed solving this.

Harryp 2:08 AM  

I also looked at Tritons for the seashell (it too is 7 letters long, so no go. My neighbor has a Triton and every day now at 7:p.m. she blows on it while all the other racketvis going on. It may be a tribute, but comes off as noise pollution.

Coniuratos 2:14 AM  

Hell of a Natick at 9A/11D if you're not hugely familiar with Hawaiian geography and defunct kitchen companies.

Unknown 2:23 AM  

As a relative young'un among the crossword crowd, old brand names are some of the most frustrating clues. History and geography I don't know? Fine, it's an opportunity to learn. But a kitchen appliance company? Ugh, give me a break. I had to cheat by pressing random letters on my keyboard, and got lucky that it was my second guess.

jae 2:41 AM  

Tough. For some reason I thought Molokai was the forbidden island plus ABSEIL was a WOE so, @Rex, “Neon”. Liked the theme.

***SB Alert ***
I’m one 4 letter word short on yesterday’s (congrats @Roo on QB) and I intend on staring well into tomorrow. The only important thing on my schedule is an oil change for my 1998 Corolla which should give me plenty of time.

chefwen 2:45 AM  

Finished it without pause, but I still don’t grasp how units of measure equal gray areas. Rex didn’t clear that up for me. I must be missing something.

11D was a gimme as it’s practically in my back yard, not expecting an invitation soon.

Enjoyed the puzzle, a little on the tricky part, looking at you IGUANODON.

Seabee Pete 2:51 AM  

Before you can UNfurl something - like a sail or a flag or ANYTHING - you have to FURL it first. So, answer doesn't seem so 'dumb' to me . . .

NB 3:13 AM  

Not enjoyable and actually difficult for a Tuesday for me.
NIIHAU, RONCO, ORKIN and GAD are words I had no idea about, as I'm not American, so couldn't finish.

Alex M 4:55 AM  

As a sailor no, Rex, FURL is not "dumb". You gotta FURL the damn things before you can ever unfurl them! I wish you wouldn't so often dismiss out of hand words you personally aren't familiar with. You have blind spots, as do we all - you are not the omniscient arbitrator of what's "in the language". Besides, what's *really* dumb is that the NYT Spelling Bee does NOT accept FURL as a word. Grrr...

Anonymous 5:44 AM  

Being GOOSED to get a push up? Mean!

smalltowndoc 5:58 AM  

@chefwen The theme answers (INCH, FOOT, YARD, MILE), shaded in gray are configured as 2x2 squares. Thus, square inch, square foot, square yard, square mile: all units of area. Thus GRAY AREAS.

BTW, the U.S., Myanmar and Liberia are the only countries that do not use the metric system. In all other countries the revealer would really be confusing! (Actually it’s probably confusing in Myanmar as well since most Burmese don’t speak English).

Diver 6:06 AM  

No problem with this other than the revealer. There's nothing ill-defined or imprecise about a square inch, foot, yard or mile. I have to agree with David, maybe it's time to pick another puzzle.

ChuckD 6:12 AM  

I guess a typical - if not slightly more difficult Tuesday. Theme concept in terms of square (area) dimensions that increase in magnitude is somewhat elegant - but not too exciting. Propers seem to overwhelm this puzzle - I didn’t count them but it comes across that way at least. I knew ABSEIL from a Brit who used the term in lieu of rappel - don’t know the origin. Also have heard reference to it in in GNU or one of the other open source libraries. The rest of the fill was non-eventful for me. I used to love the kids in the ONESIE stage so that always is nice. Thought ROSIN was with an E and IGUANODON is pretty cool.

QuasiMojo 6:47 AM  

You left out WAZE and the two other APPS, Rex, which count as brand names in my book. And are also dull. Aside from the "forbidden isle," this was a silly exercise. The theme is uninspiring. But then what do I know? I first put in UNSER for the "unsafe at any speed" guy. :)

kitshef 7:06 AM  

Having praised the gravity-based ONEG clue recently, I now must lament the blood-based one.

Overall, I guess it felt like a Tuesday, but with some way-outside-of-Tuesday words: NIIHAU? TGEL? DREDAY? That last one I don’t even know how to parse.

OK, I looked it up – let’s just say the song is not really called DRE DAY, and we will all be long dead before the actual song title appears in the NYT puzzle.

Edwords 7:07 AM  

Nope, in my experience as a caver, we called it “rappelling “ also. Climbed and spelunked for many years, never heard this term.

TJS 7:09 AM  

Traveled from NW to NE with limited difficulty, down the East coast, no problema, knocked off the southwest and headed North with a full head of steam, hit a wall above dessert and below YSL and just decided to quit.For some reason I drew a blank on 3 down with skil already in place,and decided I wasn't having any fun. I think the isolation is getting to me.

Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins 7:15 AM  

There was once a dinner inside of an Iguanodon replica on December 31, 1853.

OffTheGrid 7:18 AM  

RONCO was not so much a kitchen gadget company as a TV marketing icon which hawked a variety of products including the POCKET Fisherman. Ron Popeil ran the business. THIS SPOOF by Dan Aykroyd on SNL was a favorite.

Irene 7:37 AM  

This was Natick country, with way too many brand names and proper nouns. The regular puzzle editor must be on vacation to allow Ronco to cross Niihau and Orkin to cross Toby, and on a Tuesday no less. Miyagi? Dreday? Altoid? Terrible puzzle.

GILL I. 7:42 AM  

Tuesday?....You ABSEIL and NIIHAU me on Tuesday? Then you BED HEAD and TGEL me? No so TWEET for me.
Oh...well, there is stuff I liked because it got me wandering. If I can't wander, I really have no fun. My first wandering was RONCO because I had no idea who he was either. I would never call my invention a Veg-O-Matic. I would call it "Vitameatavegamin." Yep.... I would. I would show Lucy on the front cover. I would add a disclaimer about the alcohol because if you didn't someone would sue you. Product names are fun. You'd think these highly paid people would check them out - especially if you're gonna ship them out to an English speaking country. There's a Ramen noodle one called "Soup for Sluts" that I kinda like. Then you have some high IQ person that did a label for some homemade black raspberry jam: Tastes Like Grandma. Yep, that's the title.
IGUANODON is cute. If you have children or grandkids you've probably watched Disney's "Dinosaur." Alador is raised by a bunch of lemurs.
Let's see...anything else? Hmmmm...not really. But ILLGO say hi to @chefwen in Alohaville......

Sydney 7:56 AM  

Well, I liked it a lot. I learned some things. It seemed hard for Tuesday, but that’s okay.

pabloinnh 7:57 AM  

Caught on after FOOT and INCH, since that's the direction in which I was solving, thought "square foot" and "square inch", since they were indeed squares, went looking for YARD and MILE, and was not disappointed. And they were in gray squares so GRAYAREAS put a nice little logical bow on what I found to be a good Tuesday, for which thanks, AE-S.

I like seeing ABSEIL because it's a word I know but haven't seen in, well, a very long time. It was like seeing one of those words on a vocabulary test that you sort of remember but then when you see the right definition as one of the possible choices you say, yep, I knew that. Of course rappel would work too but hey, everybody says rappel.

Also a Disney-obsessed granddaughter led to a momemntary ARIEL. I knew better, but thinking about her makes me smile anyway, so so be it.

Z 8:09 AM  

I had FT from SKILIFTS in the gray box and said, “it’s going to be ‘square FOOT,’” and the puzzling was over before I had begun.

I guess the infomercial and home shopping networks did in RONCO, but it is a “Gawd I’m old” moment to realize that there are generations who never saw a RONCO ad. Perhaps the best RONCO ad ever. (the entire “ad” was not readily available, just this shortened appropriation by Bass Ale)

Had APPS already or I would have written in “rappel.” Looked at the APPS clue again but it didn’t seem like Pinterest and Instagram would be any something else, and then PAMELA Anderson of au pair fame confirmed APPS. Then I balked at the notion that one would LAY ON paint. Many many precious nanoseconds were spent in that corner to get ABSEIL. Alrighty then. ABSEIL just looks wrong. American Heritage says it comes to us from German. They can have it back.

@Frantic Sloth - Your ONESIE love had me imagining CONCH’S ONESIEs.

@FURL defenders - Yeah, right. Even if you use it, not everyone who sails does and nobody else ever uses it. I’d guess it is because “roll up” works just as well for FURL, but “unroll” doesn’t quite capture what happens as well as unFURL does. So, yes, you’re right on a technicality and still wrong on common usage.

Z 8:12 AM  

@OffTheGrid - You beat me to it.

kitshef 8:29 AM  

Re: FURL - I don't sail, but I do use an umbrella, and you definitely furl those.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

Abseil is unfair. It’s not an obscure American English word, it’s a British English word (borrowed from German). Americans say rappel. No American climber in America speaking to Americans has said abseil. It’s like brolly or lorry or petrol—Americans might be aware of those British words but that doesn’t make them American English. So the clue for words like those should hint that they’re British.

Hungry Mother 8:54 AM  

A rare Tuesday slog. No problem with the GRAYAREAS, but a bunch of head scratchers slowed me down considerably. I nailed it eventually, but was sweaty.

Brit solves nyt 9:02 AM  

this was very unfriendly to international solvers like me with that cluster of unknown brands up top. Rest solved very quickly which makes it more frustrating.

Peter P 9:13 AM  

I, too, was a little surprised at ABSEIL, as, while I know it well and was coincidentally thinking about the word yesterday before I did the puzzle, it was in the context of US vs UK English. I've never heard it in US English. As the other commentators have mentioned "rappel" is the word generally used here. Perhaps there is a US regional or specialized use of the word, but I'm only familiar with it being used in non-US dialects of English. I filled it in pretty easily when I was "AB----" but was expecting to find some sort of signal in the clue signaling a British term.

pmdm 9:14 AM  

I really don't like being negative, but I have no choice today.

I do think the theme is good, especially since the sequence is correct. But the amount of PPP seems to me absurd. I refuse to research answers on a Monday or Tuesday. I still had 18 unfilled squares when I stopped solving, mostly toward the top of the grid. Looking at the PPP clues convinced me that I would fail at solving the puzzle, so that was that. Would I consider giving this puzzle to a new solver as an example of what an easy puzzle should be like? Only if I knew the solver is a master at PPP trivia.

Mike Sharp likes to complain about the NYT puzzle because more often than not the puzzle doesn't satisfy his preferences. It's reasonable to complain about that. But if the NYT nets profit from the puzzle subscriptions, even after raising the stipend and increasing the number of puzzles in the print edition, it would be a very poor business decision to change direction at this time. It might make many solvers happy, but to what effect? Will it increase subscriptions? Unlike today, I usually enjoy solving the puzzles. Perhaps most do. I don't think the squeaky wheel should get all the grease.

Lorelei Lee 9:31 AM  

Lime, Dray, Foto and Chin are gray areas? Wasn't Foto in a recent puzzle? Har, I kid! This bitterness is brought to you by the letter G.

Zipped through, got to _guanodon and _riel, plunked in an A, plunked in a E (?Wah?) and hit reveal. Uriel sounds like the archangel of bladders. I'd put in for a name change.

Bring It On, Behead, Bah, Orkin ... decidedly a female.

RooMonster 9:33 AM  

Hey All !
My puz has Green AREAS. The NYT.com site always uses light green for the shading. Green Paint at its finest.

Took me a section get Revealer, as I said I didn't have GRAY AREAS, but green ones. But, it all works out in the wash, as the saying goes. The measurements go up in order, so that's nice. No willy-nilly in the grid.

I agree with the "kinda tough for a TuesPuz" group. Some of the clues, and especially ABSEIL. Yikes.

GO TANF - Sounds like an insult. (I know it's GOT AN F, keep your letters unmailed 😁)

Broke my seven week TuesPuz streak at RONkO. Argh! One-letter DNF is bad enough, but when it breaks a steak, I'd want it to GO TANF.

Four F's

TinPT 9:39 AM  

Tousled before BEDHEAD set me back quite a lot. Got majorly stuck at IGUANODON crossed with GOOSED and URIEL, but finally got the GU to finish. Got ABSEIL entirely from crosses, but LAY ON felt awkward. Liked BRING IT ON and the Brit clue for DESSERT under ALTOIDS. A meh Tues overall.

Nancy 9:45 AM  

Ah, yes. All the truly important knowledge of the Age we live in. The Company behind the Veg-o-Matic. The "curiously strong" mint. The dandruff shampoo. The Karate Kid master. The "bootylicious" rap song.

My Webster's defines "trivia" quite simply: Unimportant matters. Trifles.

When future generations -- assuming there are any -- look to see where our pretty little heads were in 2020, they will look at this puzzle and weep. "Oh, that's what mattered to them. How unfortunate."

If I were Will Shortz, this awful puzzle would never have seen the light of day.

mathgent 10:02 AM  

Cool to own an island, especially a Hawaiian Island. Larry Ellison owns Lanai.

I guess the constructor got stuck with ABSEIL coming down and looked it up. Bingo! That’s how my wife plays Words With Friends. If she can pronounce a possible word, she’ll try it. Often it works.

Too many Terrible Threes (22), uncharacteristic of Mr. Eaton-Salners, a top constructor. It may be because he completely surrounded each of the gray squares with blanks, to make them stand out.

With all those Terrible Threes, the only real junk was OLE, maybe BAH.

An okay Tuesday.

Kathy 10:03 AM  

Of all things, it was that cagey little critter wriggling in at my Natick cross of EELED/ABSElL that got me. I had to run the alphabet for the Congratulations. (A minor cheat I allow myself.) It did bring on my one and only chuckle because there seems to be no limit to how many ways one can clue EEL. (And ORE for that matter.)

The puzzle happened to be easy for me because the crosses allowed me to get the large number of answers that were decidedly outside my wheelhouse. But there was nothing sparkly here, including the obvious and plain vanilla theme.

A workaday Tuesday only saved by a surprise EEL attack at the end.

EdFromHackensack 10:11 AM  

Too tough for a Tuesday. NIIHAU? ABSEIL? IGUANODON? DREDAY? all gave me trouble . and should it not be CONCHeS?

CDilly52 10:19 AM  

LOL!! @okanaganer 1:31 am.
I never understood why we insist on retaining the absurd Imperial system either. I’m old. “New Math” was an educational buzz phrase when I was in 6th or 7th grade. I never quite got what was so “new” other than a heavy dose of baby set theory and a long time being exposed to the Metric system. I am the one whose math mistakes are never math screw ups but 100% arithmetic. Now there’s a place where we apply the easy to grasp Metrics. My husband was the math expert at one of our Co-tech schools for years and he always dreaded a new LPN class. He always said those folks studying to be at the bottom of the totem pole in the medical field had the most trouble with Metrics. Doesn’t bode well for dosages!

BTW, I have visited Bear Creek Provincial Park on Lake Okanagan. One of the most serenely beautiful places I have ever been.

relicofthe60s 10:28 AM  

The USA Today puzzle is fine, but the online solving experience sucks, whether in the app or a browser. We need a .puz version.

Lorelei Lee 10:30 AM  

@Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, Thank you. That's an incredible story.

@Frantic, Negative 1 party favor! New territory:D

@HarryP, "My neighbor has a Triton and every day now at 7:p.m. she blows on it." That's a relief. For a minute there I thought the world wasn't getting any stranger.

@CB Pete and @Alex, Right! Furl. How else would you unfurl?

Lewis 10:38 AM  

Thank you, Alex, for reintroducing me to a quartet of old friends -- NIIHAU, IGUANADON, ABSEIL, and URIEL -- tucked away in a far room that I hadn't visited in a long time. I like them as much as ever, and so they're now back in my rotation.

And thank you, crosswords, for once again updating and keeping broad my active word bank -- one of your many gifts. You are a treasure.

jberg 10:40 AM  

Just wondering— does the NYT get paid for product placement, the way movie-makers are? Or is it just constructors’ digging themselves out of holes.

My first two squares to fill spelled FOOT and CHIN, so I was looking for body parts— but then I got DRAY and LIME. Finally saw the light— and noticed that all the units start in the upper left and read clockwise, adding a major constraint.

IGUANODON / URIEL could be a Natick if you don’t know your archangels and dinosaurs. I did know there was an n URIEL (strange family, one brother is a window, another a prankish spirit), and seeing the similarity to iguana confirmed it.

I imagine the editors debating 10D— “What’s it gonna be, gravitational force or blood type? YES OR NO!”

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Anybody else read today’s batsh*t-crazy story about the eBay dark ops team? Natick in the news!!

Frantic Sloth 10:43 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 10:56 AM  

Different. I like different. This puz was plumb GOOSED with different.

Lotsa unknown words at our house, which is unusual for a TuesPuz. Learned new stuff: NIIHAU. ABSEIL. DREDAY. TGEL. But, hey -- why not BRINGITON … the theme was real brief and easy-goin ... the clues were pretty friendly … so why not teach us some new stuff?

Official M&A Help Desk Dictionary accepts either CONCHS or CONCHES.

staff weeject pick: OLE. Had a nice, fresh & feisty name-clue. yep. This here puz rodeo tried hard to furnish somethin to please/displease everyone.

Somethin about symmetric(al) entries GOTANF & DEFANG that draws U in … sorta almost anagrams. Well, fang-agrams, anyhoo …

Thanx for bein so unusual, Mr. E-S. M&A can relate.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


CDilly52 11:02 AM  

@Nancy 9:45 AM. You said it, sister!!! My sentiments exactly. I would have enjoyed learning the word ABSEIL a lot more without the other Natick opportunities of IGUANODON and NIIHAU, along with all of the brand names of things not everyone knows, has heard of and that and even fewer think important.

As for ABSEIL, I got it through crosses (all fair, though LAY ON was pretty weak), and looked up the word only after I had finished. Having never heard the word, despite raising a daughter who, from the time she could pull herself into a standing position would climb anything, I texted her immediately. She, an expert climber and instructor gave me a hard no. This must have been one place that our esteemed constructor was stuck, just S. T. U. C. K. and went to his OED to find a word he could use. Maybe not, but in a Tuesday puzzle, this one just seems to be a complete outlier.

Overall a Tuesday-ish experience and well within my normal time, but it was all just a bit . , . flat, or something.

Carola 11:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
CT2Napa 11:24 AM  

CONCH is pronounced CONK so CONCHS is the more logical plural

Frantic Sloth 11:30 AM  

🧠🧠 (🧠🧠🧠.5 for a Tuesday)
-🎉 (yes, that is a negative 1 party favor.)

@Z 899am I had to Google CONCHS ONESIEs. How sad for me. That was a good catch and one that could have walked up to me, naked and afraid, and slapped my face with a rubber chicken (as one does) and still eluded me. Oh, well.
👐 Jazz hands!

@Lorelei Lee 931am Love that the letter G sponsored your post. (I usually sell my time to the letter F) and frankly, who's to say that URIEL isn't the archangel of bladders? Everybody needs a hero.

@Nancy 945am "When future generations -- assuming there are any -- look to see where our pretty little heads were in 2020, they will look at this puzzle and weep. "Oh, that's what mattered to them. How unfortunate."
Classic. 🤩

sosumi 11:44 AM  

"FURL remains dumb without the UN- in front of it."

Having sailed dinghies as a child, "furl" came easily. Guess landlubbers were right out of luck!

Z 11:53 AM  

@kitshef - I have never heard FURL used that way. It makes sense now that you say it, but I had to wrap my head around the idea.

@relicofthe60s - I agree on the interface. Gannett seems to think young people need bells and whistles (and I think that is clearly where they are aiming their puzzles), but I find the interface annoying.

@pmdm - if the NYT nets profit from the puzzle subscriptions, even after raising the stipend and increasing the number of puzzles in the print edition, it would be a very poor business decision to change direction at this time. If I could summarize the mistake companies make before they end up in bankruptcy that thinking would be it. The adage companies need to follow is "if you are not improving you are falling behind." The NYTX is falling behind. They have improved access, with crossword subscriptions bringing in some significant cash, but the product itself is mired in a nostalgia that does not serve it well. The NYTX is only very rarely the best puzzle I do on any given day.

Whatsername 11:58 AM  

Have to agree with Rex and @Frantic today. It was a respectable Tuesday but I just kind of looked at it and thought - OK, whatever. I wanted RAPPEL for ABSEIL and GOTZIP for GOTANF which seemed clunky. During the lockdown I have grown accustomed to seeing myself with BEDHEAD most of the time. My grandmother who was my beloved MUSE liked to tell tales of her younger days when she would GAD about with her posse. The first time I ever rode a SKILIFT was up the bunny slope at Vail with a well meaning friend who thought she could teach me to ski. Big mistake. Huge. My advice to any beginner is spend the money to take a few lessons from a pro. It’ll save you a lot of frustration and banged up knees which will come back to haunt you decades later.

Frantic Sloth 12:10 PM  

Not that anyone should care, but I found this oddly amusing.

I deleted/corrected my previous comment to reflect the missing "isn't", the absence of which I can only attribute to my memory being so bad that I literally forgot that I was doing the "italics" HTML tag* between typing the "<" and the "i" and just immediately went on into "sn't", thereby negating the whole shebang. That's some brilliant mindery there, that is. Har.

*which, for those who don't know, begins by typing a "<", then an "i" and then a ">"

Frantic Sloth 12:20 PM  

Oh, I give UP!

Just now noticed that I mistakenly copied/pasted the ratings from my first comment into the "corrected" comment. God only knows what's gonna be loopy about the comment not yet reviewed/published.

*sigh* I hear my village calling...

Until tomorrow. Or much later tonight.

AW 12:29 PM  

Frantic Sloth @12:05 AM

Your review made my day. Thank you for a much-needed laugh.

Carola 12:30 PM  

Well, I liked it a lot. I thought it was a fine theme for a Tuesday (it probably helped that I solved the puzzle in the paper, where there actually were GRAY AREAS for the 4 square units). As for the rest, I'll file the pleasures under "rewards of being old," thus having had years of random reading that yielded me IGUANADON, ABSEIL, NIIHAU, and URIEL as unexpected treats on a Tuesday (admittedly also with an "On a Tuesday!?").

I liked the triple cross of IGUANADON, GOOSES, and DESSERT. Fortunately could not happen, due to 1) herbivory and 2) time issues. Also liked RONCO over ONION, although in this video, it seems that it's "onion" over "Veg-o-Matic."

Barbara S. 12:34 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
old timer 12:39 PM  

URIEL is aptly cued. You probably only know him if you have read Paradise Lost. Which is well worth reading -- the greatest long poem in the English language IMO. (Only English professors are likely to have read Paradise Regained), Milton's sequel). IGUANODON was practically a DNF for me, but was just barely familiar. The rest was straightforward, except for ABSEIL. Apparently there is a technical difference between ABSEIL and rappel, but I have never heard of anyone ABSEILing.

I put in CONCHS reluctantly. Seemed wrong and only now have I remembered that it is right, if you pronounce CONCH as conk, and many who live in CONCH rich areas do pronounce it that way.

England went metric quite a while ago, but had to retain the mile, and people still think in terms of inches, feet, and yards. And pints, for beer at least. I'm up for a pint of Old Peculier, please!

Unknown 1:09 PM  

This puzzle is a perfect example of "All effects, no substance".

Teedmn 1:11 PM  

I'm with @Carola on liking this puzzle. I was surprised to find this was an AE-S puzzle because he usually manages to trip me up but today I made a last minute save and was successful. IGaANODON was gnawing at me - wrong, wrong, wrong - but just as I was calling it a DRE DAY on the solve, I mentally PRONOUNced the word and recognized that we were looking for archangel URIEL, not aRIEL. Yay for IGUANODONs!

I grokked the implied "square" right after I got my FOOT in the door, made easier by having the GRAY squares in the grid rather than Rex's circles. Of course, it took one more to fill in before it was clear where it was going. I put a few nanoseconds into wondering whether the gray areas would all be FOOT with different geometries (with what as the tie-in? No idea) or how it was going to work, but MILE answered that question.

AE-S, I think this puzzle ROCKS because the cool ABSEIL and NIIHAU are both fairly crossed - I didn't have to make any weird GOOSES to solve. Thanks.

Space Is Deep 1:17 PM  

Way difficult for a Tuesday. Two answers that were way beyond a Tuesday. Looked wrong even with the easy crosses. Came her to verify they were correct.

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

Nothing like a DNF on a TUESDAY to put you in a great mood during quarantine. Ni'ihau crossing ronco is an absolute Natick. Not getable for me. Veg-O-Matic came out decades before I was born. That on top of the fact that O-Neg could be A-Neg. I was correct on O-Neg but my best guess was ROwCO wIIHAU. DNF.

Big Daddy Dave 2:19 PM  

I didn't see any other comments to this effect, but I can't "square" the revealer (particularly the clue) with the "solution" that the measurements are squared. Yes, they are literally in a square, but there is nothing about a square-INCH, for example, that is "ill-defined." A square-INCH is quite precisely defined. Ditto square-FOOT, etc.

All I can reckon is that the solution is that the measurement are all spelled out in the same clockwise direction, and all start in the same spot. So maybe the implication is that you go "around" to read them. It's not a square-INCH, it's "around an INCH." That would be the kind of ill-defined "GRAY AREA" that makes sense.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

This might shock our fearless leader, but I've never seen twitter so the clue for tweet was pretty much the only thing that I know about it. I did not like the TGEL Elegy cross. Since I had elegy in first, but took it out because I was not familiar with any word that starts with TG. Annoying.

emily 2:55 PM  

Yay! I agree!

Joe Dipinto 2:57 PM  

***Cryptogram Alert!!!*** (Didn't bother with today's main event)

It seemed daunting at first glance, but going with the probable choice for one word got me enough of a start to be able to figure out the rest with no problem.

They are fun to do, if you haven't tried them (only in the print edition, I assume).

emily 2:59 PM  

Just a bit of history, I think it was the Nixon administration that attempted to convert to metric, w/ road signs. Laid a big fat egg. How I wish it hadn’t. Such a more efficient way of measuring.

emily 3:03 PM  

What or who is DREDAY? I don’t get it.

Anonymous 3:07 PM  

The Times is losing subscribers left and right. The puzzle is gaining subscribers. It’s hard to believe anyone at the Times thinks your assessment of its puzzles, or it’s competitors puzzles is worth anything at all. Nor should they. You’ve been drinking Rex’s KoolAid and it shows.

Anonymoose 3:15 PM  

I should have had natty in yesterday's SB but canna and lantana? Not in a million. Glad I didn't waste much time chasing the queen bee.

Ed 3:17 PM  

I have the NYT app - are there any iOS apps that feed in the New Yorker puzz, or are they only via website? (I’m also a digital New Yorker subscriber, but don’t see it within that app - and indeed that app isn’t as good as it used to be)

Xcentric 3:21 PM  

This was a fairly easy puzzle except for the odd words already mentioned.
Would have been better if the reveal, words and squares had some meaning beyond square units.
Like Rex and others, I just don’t get what was supposed to be clever about this theme - that the gray areas were squares and the payoff was square inch, foot, yard and mile? Why?
If the words in the squares had been areas that could actually have been gray areas or things that can be gray, it would have made more sense. Hair, laws, bark, scum, etc.
I will now abseil down off of my soapbox and go back to Ni’ihau where I will blow on my conchs.

egsforbreakfast 3:22 PM  

@ Big Daddy Dave 2:19. A letters of the word foot, placed to form a square is a play on an area (square foot). Similarly with the other units. If that square is gray, it is a GRAY AREA. Perhaps it would have been easier for some if the revealer had been clued: Ill defined situations OR something that is seen 4 times in this puzzle. “I’ll defined” doesn’t apply to the units or the squares. It only clues the specific response GRAY AREAS.

Having tried, and failed, on previous occasions to explain how this sort of revealer logically works, I can blame only myself for violating Einstein’s admonition regarding insanity.

Pdxrains 3:24 PM  

Easy except ABSEIL. Never ever heard of this. Had to just guess for it

What? 3:44 PM  

Never heard of RONCO, IGUANODON, MIYAGI, ABSEIL, DREDAY, NIIHAU, and not to mention mr. green paint- GOTANF. Otherwise, clever and enjoyable.🤬

syracusesolver 4:05 PM  

This puzzle did not bring me joy. According to Marie Kondo, I should not keep it. So I won’t.

@CDilly52 10:19, once when I was a hospital patient, the computers went down. Only the older staff was able to put up meds. The younger folks of this generation and the next stood by helplessly. Scary.

bauskern 5:26 PM  

A fun puzzle. Abseil is not an uncommon climbing term.
If Rex is sooooo troubled by the poor quality of the NYT puzzles, given the apparent plethora of great, female-oriented puzzles out there in other platforms, why is he still focused on this one?
Only possible answer, and I think we already knew it: He loves to complain! *sigh*

Anoa Bob 5:42 PM  

Put me in the reveal is self-contradictory camp. The four measures, whether by themselves or as square measures, are all precisely defined. Yes, they are in four-block squares that are shaded gray, but the reveal phrase GRAY AREA(S) means ill-defined, neither black nor white. Precise and ill-defined at the same time? That killed my solve buzz. Okay, ABSEIL and NIIHAU didn't help.

Anonymous 6:11 PM  

@smalltowndoc: Speed limits in the UK are posted in miles per hour, and if you ask someone their height they will often give it to you in feet and inches. Canadian football is played on a field measured in yards, and many Canadians, particularly older folks, still use imperial units in a wide range of contexts. Throughout the English speaking world, idioms like "go the extra mile" or "missed by an inch" continue to be current.

It's a clunky revealer, and may confuse people in all countries who recognize all the units as units of length rather than area and don't get the square connection, but should not confuse most native English speakers of beyond that.

pabloinnh 7:09 PM  

@egsforbreakfast-You're a brave man to try an explanation of this theme. The "gray area" revealer made perfect sense to me, and I am at a loss as to how to explain it to those who can't see it. The (retired) teacher in me says, you did your best, and any further problem with this is not yours.

JC66 7:37 PM  

Why no anti-antivaxer rant about Pamela Anderson?

egsforbreakfast 8:04 PM  

@ pabloinnh 7:09. Thank you for the absolution. I’m going to take it as a permanent release and never again try to explain that type of revealer. Of course my explanation suffered from my lack of proofreading, but still, the concept is there.

Joe 8:10 PM  

FURL? ABSEIL? NIIAHU? I felt like I needed to put my boat shoes on to solve this one!

Z 8:32 PM  

@Anoa Bob - It is supposed to be the feature, not a bug.

@Ed - I go here for the New Yorker puzzles. I think you have to log-in. I also tend to print them out. The web browser interface isn’t the worst, but it isn’t the best either. I don’t know of a way to the .puz file.

@emily - DRE DAY is a rap song.

@bauskern - This question has been asked often of others; And what, exactly, is difference between your daily post complaining about Rex complaining and what Rex does?

Joe Dipinto 9:31 PM  

@egs for breakfast – having not bothered with today's puzzle, I did read enough of the commentary to get an idea of how it went over. I think your rewriting of the revealer clue is much better than the actual clue, which is so messily worded that it appears to conflate the two separate things going on.

Anoa Bob 9:35 PM  

It's the clue for the reveal that threw me off. 61A "Ill defined situations...as seen four times in this puzzle?" Now if you can tell me where in this puzzle "Ill defined situations" are "seen four times", I'd be much obliged.

ulysses 9:53 PM  

The most DNF I have ever had on a Tuesday. Where to begin? Hated this puzzle with a passion.

JC66 10:05 PM  


Ill defined=Gray Area

In The NY Times print edition and online their app the four squares are grayed out (there's a note in AcrossLite indicating such), so there are four gray areas, each containing a unit of length/distance that can be squared (Hi egs).

Hope this helps.

Scott Schaper 10:09 PM  

You’ve become a bummer. Stop complaining about the NYTXW. Stop complaining at all...your blog promotes the very content you complain about. Either change crosswords, or stop complaining. Better: try both.

WS: Use more women constructors, please. 1) diversity is better 2) Rex will get back to entertainment.
RP: Please rethink your blog. K.I.S.S.

Can we get back to enjoying what used to be a simple, shared pleasure? No politicalization required.


Nancy 10:14 PM  

@Joe D (2:57) -- I would have missed the Cryptogram without your alert -- newspaper folded in two, Cryptogram out of sight, I really am the world's most absent-minded person -- and so I was going to thank you for calling my attention to it, but then when I picked it up just now, I found it so daunting I was going to curse you for calling my attention to it...and then I re-read your post and saw your Big Hint and knew what word you meant and wrote in the letters with newly-found confidence...and then it was easy.

Hint to the solver: Cryptograms are truly puzzles where Fortune Favors the Brave. Make your guess, go with your guess fearlessly, and nine times out of ten you'll be right. But it does take a modicum of courage.

puzzlehoarder 10:48 PM  

I got around to this puzzle very late. A little over average time as it had some unusual entries. ABSEIL really stood out. It's not often that a Tuesday entry comes entirely from the crosses.

***SB ALERT***

Today looked to be a tough QB until it wasn't.

Anonymous 11:00 PM  

In other words, it's not "ill-defined situations" that are seen four times in this puzzle. It's quite literally GRAY AREAS that are seen four times -- if you have an interface that let's you see them. You have to focus on the answer, not the clue.

jae 11:55 PM  

***SB ALERT***

@puzzlehoarder - Same for me on today’s, nothing really that obscure. I now have hit it two days in a row.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Can we please stop having male constructors reference bra sizes, especially the ridiculous and controversial notion of a "training bra?" I'm surprised Rex, who is usually very aware of idiocy like this in the puzzle, didn't point this out.

thefogman 9:19 AM  

My last entries were the G and the U in IGUAODON. The crosses didn’t help much but I did an alphabet run and had my aha! moment.

Burma Shave 11:07 AM  


PSST, PAMELA, would you GOFOR some GIN?
I'LLGO ON record you've been FED,
and FOR DESSERT perhaps some NOG INN?
(GOTANF INN great case of BEDHEAD.)


This stream of unconsciousness brought to you by ALTOIDs and T-GEL.

rondo 11:13 AM  

@spacey is sure to 'love' his blood type ONEG along with HIGHCS, TGEL, GOTANF, CDROM, and maybe MRHYDE.

There's a LOTT in the four corners.

PAMELA Anderson is the best answer going down.


spacecraft 11:28 AM  

It's ironic: I nearly jumped for joy when the Vail conveyance turned out NOT to be TBAR! At last, the SKILIFT! Does that mean we're done with letter add-ons?

Uh, not.

Shortly after that I run into GOTANF, ONEG (a LA-O whichever way you parse it), HIGHCS--and OMG: TGEL!! About that, upon filling in DESSERT and ELEGY and seeing TG__, I of course wrote in TGIF; what else could it possibly be?

You'll forgive me if I'm not up on Neutrogena products--or every Hawaiian islet, or synonyms for rappel, or (ugh!) rap songs. Still, the crosses were just fair enough and I got through it OK. The theme was simple enough, but I thought the revealer had some coolness to it. One of the few things that gave me a SMILEY face.

I'm not at all sure that getting GOOSED is getting a "boost," but, whatever. Though not really my type (ONEG), PAMELA wins DOD by default. She is standing right next to PHILLY, and that's a plus. Some of the longer fill, like BRINGITON, is nice, but if you force me into a YESORNO, I have to go with no. Bogey.

Anonymous 1:44 PM  

Also, as regarding abseil:
Used by Brits.
Comes from German.
Coined by a Frenchman.
3,3,3 countries in one.
Can't we all just get along?

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

The word conch is pronounced like conk, but with a short o sound. That is why the plural is only an s and not an es

leftcoaster 4:20 PM  

Some unusual answers here, but the GRAY AREAS were helpful in sorting things out.

The most unusual of them, for a Tuesday, I think:


Last letter of last word in was the U in IGUANODON/URIEL cross, and was startled by GOOSED for a boost!

Different, good, and fun in the end.

leftcoaster 6:12 PM  

@Anonymous 2:03 PM -- Thanks for your conch-conk clarification. Always thought it was pronounced conCH.

Anonymous 4:32 PM  

Wanted to like this as it felt like a good Tuesday start in the Northwest but it got real bad, real quick. 12D was obviously CONCHES but that didn't fit. Never occurred to me that large sections of the globe pronounce that word wrong.

NIIHAU and ABSEIL were definitely teh hardest parts but the crosses were "mostly" fair. LAYON crossing FEDON felt sloppy and I wanted one of those to be wrong so that the crossing could be more creative.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP