Swiss Alp next to Lake Lucerne / THU 12-17-20 / Nadu Indian state / Sight on Disney World's Expedition Everest ride / Copland ballet with a hoedown / Longtime star of F.C. Barcelona

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Constructor: Kathryn Ladner

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: BEETHOVEN'S FIFTH (36A: Work suggested by this puzzle's circled squares) — the opening notes of the symphony are in the circled squares (G, G, G, E FLAT); there are a smattering of other theme-related things in random positions around the grid:

Theme answers:
  • C MINOR (2D: Key to this puzzle's theme)
  • LUDWIG (49D: First name of this puzzle's dedicatee, born December 1770)
  • FATE (!?) (29D: What the opening motif of 36-Across is said to represent)
  • OBOE (7D: Instrument featured in 36-Across)
  • DEAF (56D: What 49-Down became in later life)
Word of the Day: RIGI (64A: Swiss Alp next to Lake Lucerne) —

The Rigi (or Mount Rigi; also known as Queen of the Mountains) is a mountain massif of the Alps, located in Central Switzerland. The whole massif is almost entirely surrounded by the water of three different bodies of water: Lake LucerneLake Zug and Lake Lauerz. The range is in the Schwyzer Alps, and is split between the cantons of Schwyz and Lucerne, although the main summit, named Rigi Kulm, at 1,798 meters above sea level, lies within the canton of Schwyz.

The Rigi Kulm and other areas, such as the resort of Rigi Kaltbad, are served by Europe's oldest mountain railways, the Rigi Railways. The whole area offers many activities such as skiing or sledging in the winter, and hiking in the summer. (wikipedia)

• • •

This puzzle shouldn't have been published on two grounds. First, it's really rough. There's not really a theme here. One grid-spanner, a smattering of circled squares, and then some absolutely random short fill clued as if it were related, only it's *barely* related. I feel like you could find this much Beethoven "theme" material in any random grid if you really tried. The FATE thing in particular seemed like a huge stretch. And the theme stuff isn't even organized. There's no symmetry (except for DEAF and OBOE (again, !?!?!?! you can find OBOE in like 37% of all grids, how is that "theme"?!). It's just not a polished puzzle, and it's definitely not a Thursday-level puzzle (except for RIGI, which I've never heard of, the puzzle played like a Tuesday or easy Wednesday). 

The second reason this never should've made it to print is that we've already had a Beethoven's birthday tribute puzzle this year. Just three short months ago. Not only that, it featured This Exact Musical Gimmick. The. Exact. One. This one. The opening notes of BEETHOVEN'S FIFTH. Only in *that* puzzle, there was an actual theme, with long theme answers and the nicknames of various symphonies "hidden" in (non-consecutive) circled squares inside those answers. And the opening four notes of the 5th symphony were a little bonus, represented in four squares in the NW, and then followed by the *next* four notes in the SE. The tricksy thing was that you had to rebus EFLAT into a single square. Tough! I didn't adore that puzzle, but now, in retrospect, after having solved this one, it looks like a work of genius. I'll link to that puzzle (by David J. Kahn, 9/10/20) now, but also I'll just show you the finished grid, here you go:

See the "EFLAT" square up there in the NW, making D(EFLAT)ED in the Down. Cute, right? And then the subsequent FFFD in the SE. And it's offered up as just a little something extra. And yet there's more theme material in those eight squares than in the entire raison d'etre of today's puzzle (the circled G G G EFLAT). And while today's puzzle offers only a ragged patchwork of barely-related theme stuff beyond those opening notes, September's puzzle had, in addition to the opening notes, An Entire Theme. It is grossly incompetent to run today's puzzle after having so recently run the September puzzle. It's unfair to today's constructor, and it's insulting to regular solvers. All I want for Christmas from now and forever is better and more careful editorial leadership at the NYTXW. Now to go dig my sidewalk out from under snow mountains big enough to hide a small YETI. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. Given everything I said today, I kinda gotta admire BOOMERANGS (18A: Items that are hard to throw away). I mean, I thought I threw this theme away in September, but ...

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


vtspeedy 6:26 AM  

And if the theme is weak please at least give us some clever clueing. Yuck.

Anonymous 6:34 AM  

Oof, this one was no fun at all--don't see how the fill managed to be so rocky with 78 words. We're using TUM as fill now? ACU? ONEG and NEG..WIS and WISH. ASGARD, HESTIA and SABOR have no business in anything other than Fri/Sat, especially not all together in one puzzle. Throw in ROI, OONA, RIGI, ACH, OXO and DOTH....RIGI alone is a puzzle killer.

And two of the theme positions didn't even have themers in them??? How did this puzzle make it through to publication?

Anonymous 6:47 AM  

I look forward to the Thursday puzzle every week and remember being let down with the September puzzle when it came up, but similarly thought warmly of it after doing today's. Only started solving this year and not too critical of much, but this was a letdown.

ChuckD 7:15 AM  

Fun, easy puzzle - but agree with Rex about the redundant theme. I thought the piano music graphic was pretty neat - overall fill not so much. Liked BOOMERANGS x SABOR but SMELLIEST and MINI GOLF are flat. The WILDEBEEST clue could go either way. Little side eye to DEAF and MATLIN in the same puzzle - hard to know whether the constructor wanted to make that connection or just happenstance.

Not the kind of Thursday I like - especially going on a foot of snow - but it’s not a bad puzzle.

OffTheGrid 7:19 AM  

5A brought to mind this fun SNL SKIT

Z 7:20 AM  

Alrighty then.

Z 7:25 AM  

A debut.

Joaquin 7:32 AM  

Waiter: “Our special today, Mr. Sinatra, is wildebeest paté on toast.”

Frank: “♫♫ Start spreading the gnus ♪♪♪ “

Blackhat 7:33 AM  

So now I am expected to know Mythical Realms (2 clues), multiple foreign languages, too many obscure PPP to count (from Opera to soccer) plus slog through poorly written clues all for a theme only music snobs will enjoy???
Southside Johnny is going to have a stroke and I'll be in the hospital bed beside him.....somewhere Maleska is smiling wryly.

Joe Welling 7:34 AM  

LA Times also ran a Beethoven tribute themed puzzle...yesterday. One if its clues said he was born on the 16th.

Joe R. 7:39 AM  

Yet another problem with this puzzle: Beethoven’s birthday was *yesterday*. Maybe you could’ve justified this a little more by putting it on the actual date, at least. And it would’ve been more appropriate as a Wednesday puzzle anyway.

Also, why the hell clue OXO using tic-tac-toe when there’s a well known kitchenware company of that name?

Tom 7:39 AM  

Will seems fixated on this D-EFLAT-E motif. He used it as the answer for the weekly puzzle on NPR a few weeks ago.

Anonymous 7:40 AM  

Oh No! Now Marlee Matlin probably thinks the NYTXW is mocking her! How insensitive!

kitshef 7:41 AM  

Another ridiculously easy puzzle, but with some incredibly bad crosses. MATLIN/RIGI, PREGO/RAE/GOGO.

But the real problem today is the “theme”. For the love of God, bring back the government agencies. Give me a quote puzzle. Anything!

And with so little space devoted to the them, the fill today should have been superb. Instead … SMEE and OXO and ACU and ONEG and WIS and NEG.

Just to be clear, I didn’t like the puzzle.

pabloinnh 7:42 AM  

It's just too soon to discuss this, as certain lawmakers are wont to say after certain occurrences. Thanks to OFL for presenting the last instance of this theme, which doesn't seem like that long ago, but turns out to be September(!). At least the first one had a rebus. This one had G dropping to Eb, but only by a whole step, which doesn't quite work, sort of like the rest of this.

I did like SMELLIEST and SABOR, which made me think of certain Spanish tv commercials (Que sabor!). Also forgot how to spell WILDEBEEST, which should be some kind of BEAST, but is not. The SCOTS phrase was fun.

Congrats to KL on the debut, but I won't be putting this in my Best Thursdays Ever album. Strongly SOSO, or in Spain, ASI ASI, which I'm still looking for in a crossword at some point.

Adam12 7:46 AM  

Ridiculous NW. ASGARD/ROI/HESTIA I found unnecessary and ridiculous. Agree with today’s assessment overall.

MissScarlet 8:06 AM  

I have a complaint about the mini puzzle. Anna Farris is no longer on the show.

BobL 8:08 AM  

Where is Lewis to counter these perfectionists?

Anonymoose 8:09 AM  

This is from

When is Beethoven's birthday?

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany in December 1770… but no one is sure of the exact date! He was baptised on 17 December, so he was probably born the day before. His birthplace is now the Beethoven-Haus museum.

Hungry Mother 8:14 AM  

Oh so many names! I finally turned on the red letters and saw 4 of them light up. Too bad, it might have been a good puzzle. I’m pretty close to quitting the NYT puzzle.

RooMonster 8:15 AM  

Hey All !
Wondering how many iterations the constructor had to go through to get this. Congrats on the debut.

One-letter DNF at MATLaN/RaGI, cause who knows RIGI? Sure, it's the Queen of the Mountains, but still... And after throwing in a desperation I at the ROI/HESTIA cross.

GeeGeeGee, this puz BFLAT.

At least there's a nice F-ness.

Eight F's (BUFF-ful)

Z 8:21 AM  

PPP is 30 of 78, 39%.
Fifth day in a row that the theme has been based on pop culture.

JHC 8:27 AM  

I just want to add that my wife is an oboist, and when I asked her if she particularly associated her instrument with Beethoven's Fifth, she gave me some serious side-eye.

Guilherme Gama 8:46 AM  

Underrated comment right here

RooMonster 8:50 AM  

"Things we're thankful for"

The opportunity to slow down, even though a pandemic rages. It gave (still gives) us a chance to take long walks, catch up on books and TV/movies, and appreciate friends and family (from a distance, of course!)


Anonymous 8:54 AM  

@JHC The first movement contains a rather short but prominent and well-known oboe solo.

Ann Howell 8:57 AM  

This puzzle made me sad... not a fitting tribute! And was saddened further by the fact that I had "BASH" in at 16A for ages and it messed up that corner until the end. Rather bland and random for a themer...

Smith 9:12 AM  

Super easy, more Tues or Weds-ish.

@Rex if u read this, the opening of B's 5th is pretty well known as "fate knocking at the door." So not really a stretch at all.

Mary Ellen Flannery 9:13 AM  

I did the LA Times puzzle yesterday too so the theme fell quickly. I thought it was fine. Debut by a female constructor ! Not sure why they included Ted Kennedy. He was the guy who drove his car off of a bridge and left his young female companion (not his wife) to drown. Plenty of other ways to clue Ted.

gregg 9:14 AM  

We are superannuated and we liked the puzzle.

Jim 9:27 AM  

Isn't the dedicatee to whom the piece is dedicated? Not the composer. According to wikipedia, Ludwig dedicated it to Prince J. F. M. Lobkowitz and Count Rasumovsky.

Z 9:32 AM  

@Jim - The clue is for the puzzle’s dedicatee.

Jim 9:33 AM  


KnittyContessa 9:35 AM  

It's not often that there is sooooo much I don't know crammed into one puzzle.

I figured out the SE pretty quickly but I had to google my way out of the NW. Crossing the echecs clue with ASGARD and HESTIA was a Natick for me.

Geezer 9:37 AM  

It didn't help that there were bad clues for AWAKE and MINIGOLF.

Z 9:48 AM  

Fate knocking’ on heaven’s door.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

"This puzzle shouldn't have been published on two grounds."

You are partially responsible for this. You and everyone else who have been bullying Shortz to publish more women. This is the result. Good job.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

Someone please tell me what “PPP” is supposed to mean!

Dr. Gene 10:03 AM  

Geez, Rex is a Philistine. Nothing good enough. This puzzle was fun. I am waiting for a puzzle of his to appear so we can all make fun of him.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

What does “PPP” mean?

burtonkd 10:06 AM  

@JHC - Whole symphony comes to a halt while oboe plays a lyrical solo in the 1st movement. Surely your wife thought you were asking something else, or the side-eye was for the obviousness of the answer?

If you haven't seen this PDQ Bach routine before, it is pretty funny. He makes a big deal out of the oboe solo.

Agreed that the puzzle could be more elegant, lack of Thursday-ness, plus the noted Naticks. I give a pass to a 2nd Beethoven tribute in one year, this being the 250th anniversary of a major figure. Nice little Norse mini-theme.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

“If Ted Kennedy drove a Volkswagen, he’d be President today.”

Unknown 10:07 AM  

Wow, what a bunch of complainers.
You folks need to lighten up a tad.
Kind of glad (seriously) I don't know any of you in real life; so much kvetching.
It's a puz, and it was actually designed for our pleasure, even if it didn't hit all the high notes.

Paul & Kathy 10:10 AM  

Sometimes I wonder if there are ever fistfights at crossword puzzle conventions.

I'm sure glad I can still enjoy just doing them without getting offended by people's work.

Nancy 10:13 AM  

Kathryn Ladner, you had me at the clue for 5A. I wanted to meet the playful constructor who wrote that hilarious clue, and then I wanted to meet the people who spoke that nutty language -- once I figured out who they were.

The clue for BOOMERGANGS was a lot of fun too.

I also like the way ALLEGED is clued (25A). Guess that's why we see so much of it.

My biggest hiccup was GERM instead of GIST for the "basic idea" which kept me from seeing C MINOR for the longest time. Why did my answer begin CME---?

Speaking of C MINOR, what's the embedded E FLAT doing there? How many keys can a piece be written in, anyway? (Or is E FLAT the repeated note in BEETHOVEN'S FIFTH? Just wondering.)

My reaction wasn't all positive though. Who on earth is America FERRERA; and why are you crossing an internet mag with a CRISPR technology since the person who doesn't know one probably won't know the other? There's an awful lot of trivia here, much more than I like, but at least it's from many different fields.

PS. Anyone who spells "exaggerated" with ONE G deserves to be exiled to ASGARD. (Assuming ASGARD is a Bad Place rather than a Good Place. I really wouldn't know.)

Birchbark 10:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy 10:19 AM  


Anonymous 10:21 AM  

The Rigi is quite cool. JMW Turner lived in Lucerne for a while, and did a series of watercolor renderings of the Rig.

TTrimble 10:22 AM  

I don't have a lot to say beyond the fact I found this easier than a usual Thursday and turned in a well-under average time.

I see complaining about answers in the NW. The thing I puzzled over slightly there was thinking 3D would be vEST--, what with Vestal Virgins and all. In time I got ASGARD (some time after LOKI), then ACHY and that sealed it.

It may have never struck me how WILDEBEEST was spelled, with the EE. Is that Dutch in derivation? (IIRC, van BEETHOVEN is also a Dutch name, even if he was born in Bonn and identified as German). I was glad by the way to put in MESSI fairly quickly -- I was informed the other day here about his stature in the sport.

I wondered about America's last name for some time. I remember her and that despite being "Ugly Betty", she's good-looking IRL. But was it Carrera or Ferrari or what? Not knowing about CRISPR, the intersection of 45A and 45D presented a Natick for me. OTOH, didn't Natick at the intersection of 47D and 54A: I knew MATLIN and had heard of RIGI somewhere.

I didn't hate it, nor did I quite love it -- I'd rate it slightly above SO SO. It was mildly educational (e.g., Bifrost -- do you pronounce that Buy Frost or Beef Roast or what? oh, don't worry, I'll look it up).

Z 10:25 AM  

🤣🤣🤣Rex is bitching about the Spelling Bee on Twitter🤣🤣🤣 #BlizzardFever

Z 10:27 AM  

@Anon - PPP are Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns.

Granny Smith 10:29 AM  

Maybe it's just me, but I don't see how it's ok to use non-English words. It's one thing if it's a commonly used phrase such as ala mode, but why is sabor acceptable?

What? 10:34 AM  

Good time for a Beethoven theme (baptized on Dec 17) but poorly done. Weak paltry theme and clues not much better. We see great puzzles from Shortz and now this. Hard to explain.
Another puzzle date appropriate would celebrate the Wright brothers first flight on Dec 17, 1903.
Also my birthday. No connections.

The Mountain King 10:34 AM  

I'd like my OBOE back now, please.

JGenirs 10:38 AM  

@Mary Ellen 9;13: The whole crusade, led by OFL, of banning horrible people from the puzzle is ill advised, IMO.

Preferred Customer 10:45 AM  

Please add SMEE/HESTIA cross.

TTrimble 10:47 AM  

@Joaquin 7:32 AM
That definitely made me chuckle, but now did you make that up?

Checked out Rex's bitching about SB at his Twitter. Well, yeah, I tried those as well, and was not surprised they didn't pass. It's like throwing mud against a wall and seeing what sticks -- you never know with Ezersky. (That photo of him with a baseball cap: was he eating Cheetohs or something? Ew.)

GILL I. 10:50 AM  

Well, my first thought was that this needed a boost in the symmetry arena. I did do a little RIGI tony at the one little shaded area on the bottom of MOA and ACU. Oh..we get E FLAT.. I felt a bit DEFLATED.
Did my ACHY breaky heart explode? No...but this was not a Thursday. That's on Will.
I like BEETHOVEN...who doesn't? Why did I want to see a FIDELIO and his only opera or even his well known Moonlight Sonata? I wouldn't know how to construct if a BOOMERANG hit me in the fondillo, so I will keep quiet.
So I finished this so fast, I had a little time to ponder. The first was thinking that I've never ever had FIG pudding. I like it as a jam. PLIE is a knee bend so I guess you can clue it as a ballet basic. As I remember many moons ago, there are five basic positions. I can do about one of them now and that is keeping the heels together so that I don't fall flat on my face.
Loved seeing AFRO Cuban and thinking about the only jazz I like. Tito Puente and Mongo Satamaria. Then if you want to get religious...think Santeria.
I found things I liked...and that is always good.

Frantic Sloth 10:53 AM  

It's Thursdee, so I kept waiting for the magic to happen...then I just wanted to be sawed in half.
Okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but ugh. I have to agree with Rex on this one. The puzzle wasn't exactly bad, just unpolished.

And had no business running on the Thursdee (not the constructor's fault).

There were some things I liked:

"Yer bum's oot the windae" is my new go-to phrase once I perfect my SCOTS brogue.

MINIGOLF and its clue

And...oh dear. I think that might be it.

Sorry, but I'ma hafta Emily Litella my way out of this one.

Weird nit: An "unused" air mattress has never been inFLATED, so how can it be DEFLATED?

And then there's OBOE. Yes. There it is, just sitting and gloating because its been promoted from grid dreck to theme member. Poser.


ow a paper cut 10:54 AM  

I thought this was good fun.

Birchbark 10:56 AM  

@Joaquin (7:32) -- A thickly accented tortoise from Brooklyn challenged a herd of WILDEBEESTs to race across the bridge. At the half-way mark, the WILDEBEESTs were so far ahead that they decided to take a nap. The tortoise walked steadily past and crossed the finish line first, to the roar of a cheering crowd, ticker tape, etc. Responding to a reporter's question about the moral of the story, he modestly replied, "Youse gnus, you lose."

mathgent 11:07 AM  

Absolutely wonderful!

A big part of my enjoyment was reading the remarks by the constructor on Jeff Chen. She plays in the Houston symphony. She explains why she admires this symphony so much. She also shows where to draw five horizontal lines to represent a musical staff with the three Gs and the e flat in the correct positions.

I was wondering about WILDEBEEST for "That's gnus to me!" but WILDEBEEST can be plural.

Rex and Jeff complain that there was another similar Beethoven puzzle a few months ago. Not a problem for me. First, I don't remember the other one, I'll bet Nancy doesn't either. Second, the two are significantly different. The musical staff in the grid sets this one apart.

In addition to the above there was a lot more to like here. Smart cluing, good sparkle, clean.

Carola 11:09 AM  

DEFLATED: my expectations for a Thursday theme - I thought this one was too easy and too random in execution. Some nice long Downs, though, and I liked seeing ASGARD, HESTIA, VEGA, and the WILDEBEEST. Plus, I have one of those inexplicable word-loves for ELFIN, Was the final ONE G intended as a musical joke after the three Gs above?

@Hungry Mother, I hope you'll stick around

@kitshef from yesterday - I thought these latkes were really good, in case you'd like to give them a try.

Joaquin 11:11 AM  

@TTrimble (10:47) - I can't take credit for that pun. It's based on a cartoon I saw years ago. Not original, but still fun (@Birchbark also had a good one but took it down for some reason).

Newboy 11:12 AM  

Like this Thursday puzzle,I’m easy. Reading Rex always makes me feel happy to be a solver of puzzles rather than one who attempts to create the magic of any grid for public consumption. I can see the “flaws” noted and hear the angst of most previous posters, yet I had fun this morning. Thanks Ms Ladner for your courage in stepping up to the task and congratulations on a debut—and on a Thursday! I was flummoxed at the clue for 42A thinking of that dash colon as an emoji -: rather than the std.: intro. To Abbr. And as I finished, I thought that EFLAT needed to be on the line above instead of two rows down to capture the music motif.

TTrimble 11:16 AM  

Are we having a dad joke contest here? (No, really, it's great -- keep'em coming!)

Newboy 11:19 AM  

Back after a quick trip to xwordinfo where I found this constructor note: “ If you draw a line through the rows starting at 20-, 28-, 36-, 44- and 55-across, you'll create a 5-line musical staff with the notes falling on the correct line (in treble clef) - transforming the puzzle into a piece of sheet music.”

Missed that entirely! Don’t like those popup notes, but here might’ve been a spot to cue that music?

pabloinnh 11:25 AM  


If you get your brogue polished, I'd suggest my favorite, taught to me by my Scots friend Matty, with whom I played soccer, which is

"Away 'n git rode wi' ye!"

He always left its literal meaning to my imagination, but it seems unpleasant.

"Misogynists Anonymous" Awards Committee 11:32 AM  

For comments below and beyond, congratulations to @10:01, you are today's winner. Your prize is a sock, reusable for multiple stuffings.

Whatsername 11:34 AM  

Surprised anyone found this easy. I could see right away that the PPPs were going to be play anything but a MINOR ROLE. (Thanks @Z for doing the math.) When I’m working a puzzle, I circle clues that I may have to go back to and look up later. On a normal Thursday I have maybe 4 or 5 but today had more than a dozen. That frustration was exacerbated by the cross-references (or the lookee lookee clues as @Frantic calls them) which I loathe. However by some miracle I managed to finish completely without looking up a single one so I’d say that’s the result of a very well formulated crossword.

There used to be a club on The Plaza in KC that served a drink called the WILDEBEEST. There was definitely a FIFTH of vodka involved and I’m not sure what else, but that was one lethal cocktail. It would often BOOMERANG the next morning but back in those days I could still get up and go to work without any ANTIDOTE. Those days are definitely over.

The 4th debut this week. Congratulations and thanks to Ms. Ladner. I didn’t love it but I have great admiration for the way it was constructed. I was able to get the answers I thought I would never figure out by filling in answers I was able to figure out, which I think is how it should be. While maybe not my favorite Thursday, a very satisfying one.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Puzzled everything out. Loved it! Third Thursday in a row! NYT must be trying to give us confidence. - newbie

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

Too. Many. Proper. Nouns.

NOT counting the themers, we have:

22A Troublemaker of 1-Down (thank you Marvel)
34A Singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey ___
43A One of the Kennedys
46A ___ Nadu (Indian state)
50A America ___, star of TV's "Ugly Betty"
55A Actress Chaplin
64A Swiss Alp next to Lake Lucerne
1D Mythical realm accessible only by the rainbow bridge Bifrost (thank you Marvel)
3D Greek goddess of the hearth
8D Rum ___ Tugger ("Cats" cat)
25D ___ Freed, early radio personality who coined the term "rock 'n' roll"
35D Lover of Radames, in opera
37D Tribe that fought the Iroquois
39D Summer Triangle star
47D Oscar winner Marlee
51D Copland ballet with a hoedown
52D Longtime star of F.C. Barcelona

I'm sorry, but that's just too much reliance on names

Z 12:05 PM  

@TTrimble - Apparently gnomon is an island.

Nancy 12:05 PM  

@mathgent (11:07) -- Right you are! She doesn't!!!

Frantic Sloth 12:08 PM  

Sorry. I just had to comment and run before reading all y'all.

Oh, yeah - BOOMERANGS was another like, especially the clue.

@Joaquin 732am You sick, precious, gifted man! LOL!

@Joe Welling 734am You raise a point that bothered me, too. As any avid Peanuts fan will tell you, Schroeder celebrated BEETHOVEN'S birthday every December 16th and that's good enough for me.

@Joe R 739am Exactly! 👍👍👍

@Unknown 1007am You have a funny way of expressing your admiration and gratitude. 😉

@Z 1025am You appear to be surrounded. 😉

@pabloinnh 1125am 😂 Love it! Thanks!

@Misogynists Anonymous...1132am 👍Took the words right out of my keyboard!

@Whatsername 1134am Thanks for the shoutout, but the technical term is "lookie loo", spelling variants accepted. 😘

@Anon 1147am (newbie) 👍 Way to go - you're on a roll!

Alison 12:28 PM  

@misogynists anonymous- I didn’t take that comment to be misogynistic. This criticism was of Rex and his fellow travelers not of the women.

bigsteve46 12:29 PM  

Ms. Ladner should find a new hobby. Ridiculous number of obscure proper names, the most telltale sign of an inferior puzzle. One of the worst in a long time ...

Nancy 12:32 PM  

@Anon 12:02 -- I'm so with you! I hate all these names, too. But there is one big exception. One name on your list is more than just a Name. Namely OONA. She is *Our* Name -- the Crossword Puzzle Solver's Name. Remember her, Anon 12:02. Even I, the person who famously has no memory, remember her. As how could I not? Because OONA has appeared in crosswords at least 46,967 times to date :) Even better, she's always clued as an actress and a Chaplin, so she's not all that hard to remember.

Frantic Sloth 12:54 PM  

@Alison 1228pm So equating the publishing of more women constructors with an erosion of the quality in puzzles isn't misogynistic? Besides, I sincerely doubt anything Rex or the commentariat says bears any weight in the NYTXW editorial decision-making. 🤷‍♀️

Masked and Anonymous 12:54 PM  

yep. Kinda misplaced as a ThursPuz theme. Not the constructioneer's fault, tho -- gotta cut her some slack, this is her first NYTPuz outin, afterall.

@RP: Sooo ... technically this here is BEETHOVEN'S SECOND, puz-wise this year.

Really liked BOOMERANGS & WILDEBEEST & MINIGOLF & ANTIDOTE & ALLEGED (yo, @Trump). Oh, and definitely also SMELLIEST (yo2, @Trump). And that raised-by-wolves clue for SCOTS was just plain stupendous.

staff weeject pick: NEG. Had a nice, tight {-:Abbr.} clue. Shoot, almost half the clue was punctuations.

Thanks for the eazy-E Thursday fun, Kathryn Ladner darlin. And congratz on yer debut.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

you want hard? …

old timer 1:00 PM  

I'm with OFL on this one. A miserable excuse for a Thursday puzzle. But he missed what to me is a glaring error. Scots don't say ACH, they say "och". At least in everything I've read that quotes the Scots cry of dismay in English.

I was pleased to see RIGI. One of the best episodes of Great Railway Journeys of the World featured the RIGI Bahn. I was so impressed that when we stayed 6 nights at the Hotel Bellevue Au Lac on Lake Thun, I devoted a whole day to riding mountain railways, with the RIGI Bahn my main destination. It was good, but my third-favorite train ride, as we also rode the train from Lake Thun to Lake Geneva, returning by SBB mainline, which involved multiple railways and two boat rides *and* the funicular at Lausanne. Plus the amazing ride from Domodossola to Locarno, which was in its day the most spectacular streetcar ride on Earth. This route, the Centovalle, really is the best train ride in Europe that I was ever on. When I took it, it was no longer a glorified streetcar, but spectacular all the same.

bocamp 1:07 PM  

Thanks @Kathryn, and congrats on your debut puzzle; enjoyed it! :)

Easy except for the personal Natick at the "Matlin/Rigi" cross. (guessed right).

Peace 🕊

jae 1:08 PM  

Easy, it helped that I’d just finished the LAT puzzle. Mostly agree with @Rex on this one.

Smith 1:08 PM  

Say her name! Mary Jo Kopechne

Robert Grady 1:09 PM  

There is a beautiful oboe cadenza in the first movement. A brief massage but so memorable.

CDwyer 1:18 PM  

Why couldn't this puzzle happen yesterday, HIS ACTUAL B-DAY!!!

Teedmn 1:25 PM  

Do you know how long it's been since I took a flight and was exposed to in-flight internet? It was over a year ago and I'm sure I'm not alone. Thank goodness I eventually saw GENE and had the Beethoven intro as a third way of determining GOGO or I would have had a DNF.

I threw a birthday baSH in the NE which turned into a birthday WaSH (huh?) momentarily. And I was disliking the abbr. of Ill.'s neighbor, mIS until the WILDEBEEST herd came stampeding through.

I do remember the David Kahn Beethoven tribute puzzle slightly, mostly because I fell FLAT on the rebus and was left with a DEED instead of DEFLATED.

Congrats on the debut, Kathryn Ladner.

camilof 1:31 PM  

I agree this puzzle was wanting and the reuse of DEFLATED for a Beethoven theme within three months or so is unacceptable. My only quibble with everyone is that for the literally billions who watch Marvel movies, Asgard is pretty gettable. Maybe not in your wheelhouse, but that's a puzzle for you. And sorry Black Panther but Waiti Taikiki's Thor: Ragnarok is by far the best, most astonishing visually and also most hilarious of all the Marvel movies.

Bill 1:37 PM  

Rex Parker’s hate boner for Will Shortz is massive.

BobL 1:53 PM  

@bigsteve - do you ever have anything nice to say?

Anoa Bob 2:11 PM  

Question: What do you have if your puzzle starts with ASGARD, HESTIA, YETI and ROI all in the upper left corner? Answer: An inauspicious beginning.

Don't recall seeing a themed puzzle where so many of the long entries (BOOMERANGS, ANTIDOTE, MINI GOLF, SMELLIEST, ALLEGED, FERRERA, HONORABLE and WILDEBEEST) were not part of the theme. And is MINI GOLF a downsized version of MINIature GOLF?

One of my favorite SCOTS proverbs: Be happy while yer livin fer yer a lang time deid.

Z 2:17 PM  

😂😂😂Proof Rex doesn’t read the comments.😂😂😂

@Frantic Sloth - No need to repeat my SB feelings again, but the schadenfreude was strong when I saw what Rex was bitching about.

EdFromHackensack 2:29 PM  

CMON, its a crossword puzzle.... thanks Kathryn! took me all lunch and had to Google ASGARD - I hate to Google on a Thursday.Forgot ALLEGE has no “D” in it so that slowed me down . Everyone here should know SMEE and OONA.

Z 2:30 PM  

@Anon 12:02 - You missed 14A, 24A, 45A, 4D(I count it because it uses Disney and Mt Everest for the clue), 45D (CRISPR clue), 57D and 58D. Plus the 6 theme related answers.

David 3:11 PM  

@Nancy, hi. What's with the E Flat is the key is c minor, not C Major. C minor has three flats, E, A, and B. How many keys is a symphony written in? Several. A work in c minor may move to its relative major, Eb, or its dominant key, G, or its sub-dominant, F, or others. It really depends on the composer. As a slightly younger composer, Beethoven started his first symphony, in C Major, in the key of G major. This caused quite a bit of consternation at the time.

Different movements of symphonies are often written in different, but related, keys. The second movement of the 5th is in Ab Major, the sub-dominant key of c minor's relative major, the third movement returns to c minor and transitions directly into the 4th movement, which is in C Major, also quite a daring and provocative shift in tonality at the time (as was the lack of a pause between movements).

Beethoven's birthday is commonly accepted as December 16, and for once "oboe" is a worthwhile reference in a puzzle, as its solo is quite important (and beautiful) in the work.

Given it's the 250th anniversary of this pivotal musical genius, arguably one of the most influential composers in the Western canon, complaining about having more than one puzzle dedicated to him seems a bit churlish. But that's me, I guess.

I found the puzzle ridiculously easy for a Thursday, not to mention rebus-less or otherwise not of Thursday style, and think (hope) it was meant to run yesterday. Other than that, I found it quite fun.

redrube 3:17 PM  

In music ppp is pianissimo
A dynamic marking meaning very softly
There’s p , pp, and ppp

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

I read a list of Beethoven's witticisms yesterday, one of which was "one note of music is worth more than 1000 words". I found that a bit over the top, until I compared any portion of his opus to these 78 words.

Tim Aurthur 3:24 PM  

@mathgent I agree that this puzzle has a big advantage over the one in September in its visual representation of the theme. I didn't see the staff until now.

I just wish it had run yesterday. Yeah, today is LvB's baptism date, but anyone who read Peanuts obsessively as a kid knows that the 16th is the day.

Happy 250th, LvB.

Joaquin 3:26 PM  

Alternate clue for 1D: Never sit in a cactus without wearing your ______.

sanfranman59 3:26 PM  

Easy-Medium Thursday (14% below my median solve time) ... Kathryn Ladner is a new constructor for me

I'm not sure why Will chose to run this puzzle today when the consensus is that yesterday was the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth. There's documentation that he was baptized on 12/17 and it's assumed that he was born the day before. I'm a bit torn about the circled "notes". I suppose they add something to the theme and it's kinda cool that the G's are separated while EFLAT is "sustained". It also seems odd that none of the long answers other than the banner BEETHOVEN'S FIFTH {36A: Work suggested by this puzzle's circled squares} are involved in the theme (except DEFLATED {56A: Like an unused air mattress}, I guess). It's inelegant that the themers in the NW and SE aren't symmetrical (C MINOR {2D: Key to this puzzle's theme?} and LUDWIG {49D: First name of this puzzle's dedicatee, born December 1770}).

Other thoughts:
-- SABOR {5D: Flavor: Sp.} ... awfully unfriendly fill for those of us who are monolingual
-- GOGO {45A: Big name in in-flight internet} ... I don't think I've ever heard of or seen this "big name"
-- OXO {31A: Losing tic-tac-toe row} ... I'd have much preferred if this were clued as the kitchen gadget manufacturer, but that's just in the eye of this beholder
-- FERRERA {50A: America ___, star of TV's "Ugly Betty"} ... no idea ... I tried 'FERRaRo' at first. Fortunately, the crossing VEGA {39D: Summer Triangle star} came to my rescue, though it still took a couple of looks at GENE {45D: Something editable using CRISPR technology} for me to change the 'a' to an E.
-- TAMIL {46A: ___ Nadu (Indian state)} ... educated guess off of T___L
-- RIGI {64A: Swiss Alp next to Lake Lucerne} ... completely off my radar screen and the primary reason that I had my fingers crossed when I submitted my solution
-- OBOE {7D: Instrument featured in 36-Across} ... This was easy enough to get with a couple of crosses, but it didn't occur to me that oboes are particularly "featured". Huh.
-- SCOTS {5A: Language in which a nutty person might be told "Yer bum's oot the windae"} ... what the hell??? ... plus, you make me look at it at least twice with a cross-reference??? (ACH {32A: Cry of dismay in 5-Across} ... I think of this as more German and 'oCH' as Scottish)
-- FATE {29D: What the opening motif of 36-Across is said to represent} ... really?

On balance, though I adore Beethoven, I've gotta give this a thumbs down.

burtonkd 3:29 PM  

@Z - depends on your gnomonclature

Z 3:39 PM  

@burtonkd - Do you know what they serve at recovering cannibal meetings? Gnomon Ramen.

Mr. Cheese 4:53 PM  

@frantic sloth
Re: weird nit: Then is it uninflated?

newbie 5:02 PM  

Thanks for the encouragement, Frantic Sloth. But I think I'll probably always be a - newbie!

P.S. re: 1228pm "So equating the publishing of more women constructors with an erosion of the quality in puzzles isn't misogynistic?" Sure it is. Unless perhaps it was written to Rex sarcastically? Tongue-in-cheek?

And I finally figured out how to leave a "name" without using a google account!

JC66 5:05 PM  

@Mr. Cheese & @Frantic

If it's brand new, maybe it's just flated.

J. McMichael 5:10 PM  

As someone who has strong Scottish blood in her, a cry of dismay “north of the border” would be “och”, not “ach”. (32-across)

Margaret 5:44 PM  

Mixed feelings about this one. I "got" Beethoven's Fifth" because I got the corner that 'Fifth" is in long before I got anything on the other side of the puzzle. After that "Ludwig" and "deaf' worked so I kept at it. I do not know what key that symphony is in (will I now remember C Minor?) nor did I get the GGG Eflat clues by themselves -- though I had done the puzzle in September. So, from my point of view, not much of a theme.

I plowed my way through the puzzle, and did not go out to shovel. We have 14 inches or so in dead center PA, but Rex has us all beat -- looks like double that up his way! Take care Rex!

jae 5:46 PM  

@oldtimer & J. McMichael - Thanks for clarifying why putting in ACH felt wrong.

TTrimble 5:48 PM  

The musical conceit, with the imaginary staff lines and the placement of G G G EFLAT falling appropriately on those lines (even with time values, if you imagine every two squares as being an eighth note in duration, although then you'd need to lengthen that EFLAT), increased my appreciation a SKOSH. I'm not sure that particular idea could feasibly be developed more in a puzzle of this scale, but it's not a bad start.

SABOR has "savor" as a cognate, so that's not too crazy, and you might easily catch a glimpse of it if you pass by the Goya cans or similar in your grocery store. It happens that échecs (chess) is in my wheelhouse, so even though I didn't know the names of all the pieces in French, ROI for king was the logical choice. So much for the explicitly foreign words (oh, I guess PLIE counts as well). I like me a few foreign words in my puzzle, thank you.

It's rare that this late in the week, I can start filling in right away in the NW. I just expect it to be a little tricky there. I'd be surprised if the same weren't true for others on a regular basis.

jberg 6:20 PM  

@pablo if you interpret each row of squares as one whole step from its neighbors, the interval comes out right.

TTrimble 6:27 PM  

@JC66 (5:05 PM)
Did you know 'flatus' is Latin for fart? You're welcome.

Right now I have open the Wikipedia page on flatulence, and it's funny reading the somewhat high-falutin' language, written with such a straight face:

"Flatus is brought to the rectum and pressurized by muscles in the intestines. It is normal to pass flatus, though volume and frequency vary greatly among individuals. It is also normal for intestinal gas to have a feculent odor, which may be intense. The noise commonly associated with flatulence ("blowing a raspberry") is produced by the anus and buttocks, which act together in a manner similar to that of an embouchure. Both the sound and the smell are sources of embarrassment, annoyance or comedy."

"Embouchure". That's awesome. The entire article carries on in the same vein, of a strait-laced don with a raised declamatory finger, lecturing his students who can barely suppress their laughter. Under Terminology we learn, for instance, "Derived terms include vaginal flatulence, otherwise known as a queef."

(Sorry, is this too much for the moderators? I'm saving this just in case.)

None of this is to deny the historical importance of flatulists. One learns for instance that "the professional farters of medieval Ireland were called braigetoír". The mind reels. One imagines guilds of such performers, with various levels ranging from apprenticeship to mastery.

Z 6:29 PM  

The Dictionary of the Scots Language has entries for ACH.

sanfranman59 6:40 PM  

@Joaquin (7:32am) ... re "Start spreading the gnus" ... thanks for the lol

@Anonymous (10:01am) ... re "You and everyone else who have been bullying Shortz to publish more women. This is the result. Good job." ... Wow. If you must have idiotic thoughts, the least you can do is keep them to yourself.

@Frantic Sloth (10:53am) ... re "An "unused" air mattress has never been inFLATED ... good point

@Newboy (11:19am) ... re “ If you draw a line through the rows starting at 20-, 28-, 36-, 44- and 55-across, you'll create a 5-line musical staff with the notes falling on the correct line (in treble clef) - transforming the puzzle into a piece of sheet music.” ... But following that logic, the two Es in the row starting with 23 (though they'd also be E FLATs), the D in the row starting with 28, the C in the row starting with 32, the B in the row starting with 36 (this would be a B flat), the F in the row starting with 50 and the D in the row starting with 58 are also "on the correct line". I know, I know ... nit, nit, nit

jberg 6:46 PM  

So I got the OBOE and thought we were getting Peter and the Wolf. Eventually I counted the blanks and realized it was too short. I did like the concept once I got BEETHOVEN’S and had the sense to wait for the crosses to rule out the FIrst, third, and nInTH.

I guess MATLIN is famous, but not to me—so I went with RaGI Och!

AndyHat 7:21 PM  

In this context, it's "Pop Culture, Product Names and other Proper Nouns."

Birchbark 7:33 PM  

@TTrimble (11:16) -- It's a very fine line between performance art and dad jokes -- and when WILDEBEESTs enter the picture, it's anybody's guess which is which.

Whatsername 7:56 PM  

@Joaquin: You have outdone yourself today. 🤣

Sami 8:16 PM  

HIM: (Upon hearing the deedle deedle deet dee dee sound) Ah, the sound of you succeeding.
ME: Without even cheating!
HIM: How is me telling you the answers different from using Google?

Day 60, you so super sweet. Good thing I only started solving 60 days ago, and didn't have the same 'Groundhog Day' experience as Rex with the theme. I love the classicals. Schuman is my current favorite, though, with Bach a close second.

Also, Andrew Bird is the man, and he never appears in the xword. Did anyone catch his concert on Sunday? I missed it.

Anonymous 8:21 PM  

Z is, again, out of his depth. The definitive authority on Scots is the most charming, beautiful, talented poetess in the world. You can find her on Twitter. Miss pennie punny. But if Z has an ounce of decency he won’t search for her. He is so far from worthy I fear his click could contaminate one of the world’s few perfect beings.

RooMonster 8:35 PM  

@TTrimble 6:27
Thanks for the flatulist info. Apparently my roommate in CT was an accidental flatulist. Too bad he never turned professional.

RooMonster Known To "Blast" A Tune Myself Guy

Joaquin 10:06 PM  

@Whatsername - Thanks for the props.

And ... How 'bout those Chiefs!

Steve 2:08 PM  

Got Ludwig right away. The rest of the Beethoven stuff was inane, beginning (or ending) with the stale canard "fate knocking at the door." I know the 5th pretty well and didn't particularly associate it with oboe, but when that fell out my first mental association was PDQ Bach's sportscast of the 5th where he calls out the oboist for showing off.

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

I got OBOE right away and then proceeded to confidently fill in "PETERANDTHEWOLF" across the middle.

Then I started seeing all the Beethoven clues. Oops.

Roy Dimaggio 9:28 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
thefogman 10:48 AM  

I had an ERIE feeling of déjà vu solving this one and Rex confirmed it. The original was far better. But the worst part of all was the Natick at 47D and 64A. I had ReGI - MATLeN - a FATAL flaw. This puzz is worse than SOSO. It should have been DITCHED. Where was the editor?

Diana, LIW 11:47 AM  

Echecs? What in the world? And those 8759 goddesses. Plgghhhh

another 2 letter dnf

Diana, Goddess of Things I Need to Memorize

spacecraft 12:37 PM  

Echecs is simply French for chess, as in FIDE, or Federation Internationale des Echecs, the world governing body of the game. But this is only one* example why today's "bit of the old LUDWIG van" should not be called easy.

I personally prefer the second movement, which contains one of the most beautiful melodies I've ever heard. And about hearing: how charming to include DOD Marlee MATLIN, who suffers the same affliction as our hero, in the puzzle.

The SMELLIEST parts of this piece are all those RMKs, which this time are central to the theme. ACH!

*Other reasons why this is a proper Thursday offering: HESTIA, RIGI. One nit: is HONORABLE an epithet?? I think of that as derogatory. Now, it may be that with certain judges that might fit, it's really not a fair clue.

I missed entirely the musical staff bit, but that's not surprising. I can't read a note. But it would seem to elevate the score some; say a birdie.

Burma Shave 2:24 PM  


The YETI ALLEGEDly laughed
'twas EGGROLLS, washed by a DRAFT,
and stolen SCOTS' whisky, BEETHOVEN'SFIFTH.


leftcoaster 4:36 PM  

A confusing theme overall, and "needing some kneading”, particularly in the NW.

There, cheated to get ACHY, ASGARD and HESTIA.

BEETHOVEN'S FIFTH stood out from everything else, but its related “themers” were roughly scattered and leaving, frankly, sort of a mess.

Otherwise, I liked the puzzle.

leftcoaster 5:04 PM  

P.S. I want to DITCH the “DNF” and “dnf” stigmas, 'fessing up my errors in less ego-stressing ways.

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