Engage in gasconade or fanfaronade / THU 11-4-21 / Only Monopoly railroad whose name doesn't contain "Railroad" / Make quickly as a pot of coffee / Puppy pickup place / Malicious group of computers / Outdated charging device? / Ermine in the summer

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Medium (some struggle to get the theme, then not much struggle thereafter)

THEME: SPLIT ENDS (62A: Hairy problem? ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) — the "ends" of four longer answers "split"—that is, they are doubly clued and fork off (!) into two directions at either end; so you've essentially got two answers that share their central letters, and that differ only on the ends (first and last letters). The forked letters share the same square in the Downs:

Theme answers:  

S       E (17A: Only Monopoly railroad whose name doesn't contain "Railroad")
C       G (17A: Laughing gleefully)

S       N (11D: Web master?)
E       L (11D: Of the outer skin layer)

A     A (40A: Setting for "The Sound of Music")
B     P (40A: Greyhound journey)

G       T (34D: Expensive bar)
H       N (34D: Not letting go)

Word of the Day:
Mothers of Invention (52D: Mothers of Invention musician => ZAPPA)

The Mothers of Invention were an American rock band from California. Formed in 1964, their work is marked by the use of sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows.

Originally an R&B band called the Soul Giants, the band's first lineup included Ray Collins, David Coronado, Ray Hunt, Roy Estrada and Jimmy Carl BlackFrank Zappa was asked to take over as the guitarist following a fight between Collins and Coronado, the band's original saxophonist/leader. Zappa insisted that they perform his original material, and on Mother's Day in 1965, changed their name to the Mothers. Record executives demanded that the name be changed, and so "out of necessity," Zappa later said, "we became the Mothers of Invention." (wikipedia)

• • •

David Steinberg is the editor of the widely syndicated Universal Crossword. Under his leadership, that puzzle has gone from a "no thanks" to a very tight, professional, respectable daily. If this puzzle is his audition to take over the big chair at the NYTXW, then, kid, you're hired. Constructing is very different from editing, true, but David can do both really well, and this puzzle gives you some sense of his sensibility: cleverness, playfulness, thoughtfulness, polish. You've got a highly original and somewhat architecturally complex theme that plays out just as a Thursday should—head-scratching at first, then EUREKA!, and then the joy of discovering how the theme plays out in whatever theme answers you have left to uncover. All the while, the fill never buckles. Everything is smooth and gettable without ever getting DULL. Lots of unexpected and bright little answers keep popping up, so you aren't just drowned in a deluge or crosswordese and repeaters. The slanginess of OLD ME! The hard-to-parse weirdness of "NCIS: LA." The OOZE-ing CHURROS of Frank ZAPPA! JENGA! HUBBLE! OH DEAR! The puzzle stays interesting even in the non-showcase parts. This puzzle is a technical accomplishment that is *also* a joy to solve. David should be on the short list when the time comes to replace the current editor. I know, that time is never coming, but it should, it really should, sooner than later.

I had trouble with the theme at first because while I got GA(SC)AP easily enough, I wrote in only the railroad end of the answer: -HORT LINE. This gave me ORE- at the front of OR(EG)ON (seemed reasonable enough, except I didn't know what the theme concept was yet—I just knew there were double letters in some of the boxes, for the Down crosses, and so with OREGON I thought the double letter box was (GO) (the second square in GOUGED), not (EG). Eventually, I just skipped down to the revealer to see if I could figure out the theme concept before moving on, and after a little finagling, I got SPLIT ENDS to come into view, and after that, I remembered that the theme answers were *doubly* clued, which is to say I saw CHORTLING, which made me realize my OREGON two-letter square was misplaced. After that, I had absolutely no trouble with this one. Difficulty dropped to Easy immediately. Doubly-clued themers were now doubly easy to get. Loved swooshing around the grid picking up all the theme squares. Felt like playing a video game (stand-up arcade games from the '80s, like Pac-Man, I mean—I have no idea what "gaming" is like after ~1996). In short, this was a very good time.

Five things:
  • 24A: Philadelphia's  ___ Center for the Performing Arts (MANN) — I know it's good to have MANNs in the puzzle other than Aimee but the trouble is I don't actually want MANNs in the puzzle other than Aimee. I guess I would accept either of the film directors—Anthony MANN ("T-Man," 1947), or Michael MANN ("Thief," 1981). I have nothing against this performing arts center. I just like Aimee (and crime movies) is all.
  • 42A: France's ___ de Loire (VAL) — pretty sure I wrote in ILE here, then got the "A" and wanted EAU (!?). This "___ de something" answer pairs nicely with the "something de ___" answer at 13D: Fleur de ___ (fancy salt) (SEL)
  • 63D: Edge (LIP) / 65A: "1917," e.g. (EPIC) — I had RIM / ARIA. Double-wrong! Epically wrong! Managed to work my way out of it pretty easily, though, thank god.
  • 41A: Toothpaste tube letters (A.D.A.) — got the "A," wrote in AIM (a brand of toothpaste)
  • 61D: Prefix with label (ECO-) — me: "no idea, so ... I'll try ECO- ... no idea what ECOlabel is, but ... well whaddya know: bingo!"
Going to go [Make quickly, as a pot of coffee] some coffee now. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. [Outdated charging device?] is a truly outstanding clue for LANCE

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 6:04 AM  

This was a rarity -- a constructing masterpiece that was also fun to solve, and on a Thursday no less! I try not to read the clues for the long acrosses until absolutely necessary. This time, absolute necessity came early. I had GA_AP for 1D and realized it had to be GA[SC]AP. I read the clue for 17A and since there were two parts to it, I figured out what the theme had to be. So Easy-Medium overall.

My biggest blunder was serif/seRaph for the font pair at 19A/20A. Yes, I know serif isn't a font; sans serif isn't really a font either; it's more like a font type. And serif and seraph aren't really homophones but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Anonymous 6:07 AM  

Well, yes, the revealer is kinda important. This chewed me up. It's all on me but I do have a technical complaint about the "check" function. If a square should be SC then S should be rejected. Believing that the incorrect is correct is a major impediment. This was a very clever puzzle and I'm disappointed in myself.

Brian A in SLC 6:15 AM  

For once, I agree with most everything from Rex. This was perfect texture for a Thursday - just chewy enough. Solid, fresh theme, well conceptualized and executed. To borrow the New York Knicks' new catchphrase, give it a Bing Bong! Thanks David!

MMM 6:29 AM  

Liked this solve immensely , but one HUUUGE issue with puzzle: the plural of LEGO is LEGO. No such things as LEGOS. Invalidates the whole thing for me :P

Lewis 6:46 AM  

We solvers are so gifted to have David in our midst. Puzzles won’t leave his desk unless they are top notch, and David’s top notch is on the upper end of top notch. His puzzles are always – always – free of junk, no matter how complicated. His witty cluing is marvelous; look at today’s [Outdated charging devices?] and [What separates money from everything?]. He is creative and original , pushing the envelope. Once again, today, I believe, he has presented a theme never done before.

His crossword mind is brilliant – he sees things others, even experienced crossworders, don’t. I say this from experience, as he has edited some of my puzzles. Twice now, including a puzzle I co-constructed with a very experienced puzzlemaker, David has transformed the theme for the much better. In the blink of an eye. On top of this, he is kind and humble.

Today’s theme is brilliant as well, taking words-that-share-letters to a new level. It’s also fun – once I got the theme idea, I felt like I was employing a new way of thinking to figure out the others, and when I saw the resulting disparate words in the theme answers, I was popping with wows inside.

But David’s Thursdays are routinely brilliant. As proof, I offer 12/12/13, 8/24/17 and my favorite David Thursday 6/8/17. If you liked today’s puzzle, I believe you’ll have a good time with these.

Happy side note to today’s puzzle: JENGA / ABBA / TATA / ZAPPA / EUREKA.

Thank you, David, for a sweet solving experience today, and for how you lift crosswords to an art as well as a science.

bocamp 6:47 AM  

Thx David, for this very crunchy and challenging Thurs. adventure! :)


Made even harder when rebus entries not accepted. I dunno! 🀷

Nevertheless, a very enjoyable TRIP. :)

yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

BarbieBarbie 6:48 AM  

Easy-peasey but really fun. A great intro to Thursdays for anyone out there who wants to dip their toe. I love DS puzzles almost without exception.
My one beef today is that the app version regarded a slash in the rebus as a mistake. I had to remove them all laboriously before getting the ok. (I wouldn’t have bothered, but I was curious to see whether some kind of grid art would emerge.)

Ann Howell 7:01 AM  

Not my cup of tea, but then in the online version you didn't even need to fill in the rebuses to get the solve music, so happy to just get on with my day!

Georgia 7:01 AM  

Fantastic! So many aha moments! But I need help understanding why 58D is "ISNT."

Tom T 7:04 AM  

I've chosen to highlight today a three letter HDW (Hidden Diagonal Word) that is tailor made for this puzzle. And the clue is ...

"It's a rebus!" (Answer can be found below)

This was an excellent Thursday wrestling match, one that I thought for a while might snap my modest 20-something solve streak. But the themers eventually fell into place, once I reconciled myself to the realization that the rebus letters were used differently in the across and down answers. Didn't get the happy music at first, though, and thought it was related to how I had filled in the rebus blocks. On second glance, however, noticed the problem at RUPEa/SaL; replaced the A with the E and the good times rolled. The EPIC battle was over--I REPEAT--over, and although there was no CHORTLING, I felt HIGHS as one might on a lovely BUS TRIP in AUSTRIA. ENCORE, Mr. Steinberg, ENCORE.

As for the diagonal word answer, though many of us upon seeing "It's a rebus!" would be inclined to think "UGH," the correct hidden diagonal answer in today's grid is ...

AHA (ascending from the 20A block)

Anonymous 7:13 AM  

I saw the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann with a friend from college in the late 80s. She drove in an absolute piece of junk car; you could see the pavement zip by through a hole in the floor. When we got there, she put The Club (remember The Club?) on the steering wheel. I asked why she bothered, and she said she didn’t want anyone to steal her Club.

I saw Aimee Mann a couple of years later. I wish it was at the Mann Music Center, but alas it was at the TLA.

Son Volt 7:24 AM  

Whoa - nearly ideal for me this morning. Got the trick with OREGON - but the revealer was apt and brought it all full circle. It did get easier - the ABBA x AUSTRIA etc but all splashy fill.

Babbage yesterday - ADA today. Indulge with KEGS over CLARET. Great clues for DOJO, LANCE and ACORN. Was not a big fan of Wandavision but love EPIC crossing the great ZAPPA.

Highly enjoyable Thursday solve. Happy Diwali to those who celebrate.

Barry 7:26 AM  

When I saw 19 and 20 across I already had ER at 20, so I put in SERIF and SERAPH! What a mess. But I fixed it and it truly was a fine puzzle.

amyyanni 7:26 AM  

Money ISNT everything.

kitshef 7:27 AM  

There is not a lot that can beat a good Steinberg. His early stuff was aggressively, unpleasantly hip. He learned to tone that down and now produces some of the best puzzles. In addition to the theme of the year, look at some of the lovely short stuff: MAORI, HUBBLE, ZAPPA, and of course EUREKA!

Not really sold on BREW UP meaning “make quickly”, but since I have never made a pot of coffee in my life I’m not in a position to formally challenge it.

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

A reminder for Nancy's LAT PUZZ

Also here's AN LATX BLOG

pabloinnh 7:33 AM  

I guess we could play "when did you catch on? with this one. I got down to SPLITENDS, which made me go back to OREGON and do some fiddling, then to the AUSTRIA/BUSTRIP and there it was. EUREKA! said I, which is rare.

New to me--MANN as clued, BOTNET (?!), and NCISLA. How many of those NCIS things are there anyway?

In short, the Thursday I'd been waiting for for a while now, and tons of fun. Many thanks for your Delightful Submission, DS, and please accept the Thursdazo! Award from a grateful solver.

C.U.R. Mudgeon, III 7:35 AM  

Yes. Absolutely wonderful. Always very excited and ready for a challenging, but also a fun and very original/creative, puzzle when I see David's byline.

Only downside is the NYTimes laptop app - you know, the one for which all others have been thrown on the ash heap because of its superiority. The app rejects a slash separating the two letters, and counts the entry as incorrect. Apparently the two letters must have no separation because both are needed for the answer going in one of the directions. But for the other direction, only one letter is used - an either/or choice. Therefore, when going in that direction, a slash is called for. If both slash and no-slash are equally valid, why does this "app to-end-all-other-apps" because of its claimed incredible versatility not accommodate both?

Trey 7:36 AM  

@MMM 6:29 - “I am going to play with my Legos” is correct. Playing with a single Lego is boring. And I say that as an AFOL (adult fan of Lego), so I am very confident in this statement

amyloowoo 7:45 AM  

Money isn't everything

Trey 7:46 AM  

My issue here was self-inflicted. Answered SHORTLINE without reading the second half of the clue. Then had SPIDERMAL (SPIDER and DERMAL overlapped) so I was looking for overlapping words as the answers. All of tye words that were seemingly missing letters (or required a rebus) were then seemingly randomly placed because two were part of SHORTLINE which needed neither a C at the beginning or a G at the end. Figured it all out only after completing the puzzle and looking at the double clues in retrospect.

BTW - I give up. Was positive that @Rex would hate this. Guess I know nothing

Barry 7:48 AM  

When I got to 19 and 20 across I already had the ER at 20 so I put in SERIF and SERAPH. What a mess! But I fixed it and it was truly a fine puzzle.

Rocinante 7:51 AM  


The phrase "Money ISNT everything".

Lewis 7:55 AM  

Nancy's puzzle (with Will Nediger) has a fun theme and clever cluing. Brava!

Just Google Los Angeles Times crossword. It's free; no firewall.

SouthsideJohnny 7:59 AM  

Very much enjoyed the clues for ACORN, LANCE and ISNT. The puzzle was a pretty brutal struggle though - the theme was tough for me to discern, thus while I realized something running was going on (OREGON, for example) it was tough to determine which was the rebus square. I can see why many are really going to be a fan today - the puzzle itself was fair, the theme - really challenging.

mmorgan 8:03 AM  

Funny, not sure why, but I thought that Rex would strongly dislike this. Wrong again!

Mikey from El Prado 8:11 AM  

I thought this a great puzzle, but realized after I finished that I hadn’t completed all of the rebusses (is that the correct plural). I got my successful ‘completed’ thingy with two rebus blocks only containing one half. I tried to go back and complete them, but the app did not allow. Anywho, a true delight!

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

Shortz isn’t going anywhere.

hlinak 8:16 AM  

GA(SC)AP had me stumped for a bit since I had GASUP instead. I also threw down LOWS instead of HI(GH)S and was super confused with OR(EG)ON was the answer to two clues (though now that I have had my coffee I am now remember Washington State is in between BC and OR).

B. Strunk 8:24 AM  

@Tray (7:36am)

LEGOS is an American corruption. The LEGO company says that you can talk about LEGO bricks or LEGO toys or LEGO sets, but never LEGOs. LEGO is the trademarked company name, and the company insists that when used to refer to its products, it be used as an adjective only - not as a noun. So, according to the company, "Models built of LEGO bricks" is good; "Models built of LEGOs" is not good." In fact, it will take legal action to protect its trademark if LEGOs (and not LEGO bricks/sets/toys/etc) is used for commercial purposes in any advertising or other publication.

Apparently, most of the world outside of the U.S. conforms to this usage. Only in the US has LEGO been transformed into a noun that is routinely spoken in the plural form.

Linguists will argue whether this language deviation in the US is a valid adaptation. The LEGO company insists that it is not. And it might sue you!

Frantic Sloth 8:28 AM  

What Rex said. Except his Five Things.
Always prefer a theme that works in both directions with the revealer at the end.

This is what the Thursdee should be. Masterful.


oceanjeremy 8:39 AM  

Loved this puzzle! Had a similar solving experience as OFL. Head-scratching that cross faded into delight.

My only complaint about the puzzle is related to the NYTXW app — it marked the puzzle as “Solved” before I had a chance to complete the double letters on one of the themers, leaving my grid frustratingly imperfect. I get that it’s difficult to make the UI work with a puzzle like this, but surely there was a better resolution to the conundrum than this.

UI issues aside, this is my favorite puzzle that’s appeared in the NYTXW in recent memory. 10/10, loved it!

bocamp 8:42 AM  

Redid the puz w/o rebus slashes; successful this time. :)

Always have trouble with ARIAL vs ARIeL. Didn't know Sleepytime TEA, but TEES appeared later in the puz, so went with the 'A'.

Had DOrm before DOJO.

Took way too long to grok the SPLIT ENDS rebuses, even knowing it had to be GAS CAPS and OREGON.

Maybe doing this type of puz at the end of a long puzzle-solving day is asking too much. πŸ€”

Pretty sure I'll learn from this experience, tho. :)

td 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Frantic Sloth 8:47 AM  

@pabloinnh 733am To answer your question, a butt ton. Next up is NCIS:Rye

Off to do the LAT!

puzzlehoarder 8:56 AM  

I'm not a theme fan. My approach to solving is to pretend a puzzle is themeless as far as is possible. This made today's solve miserable from beginning to end. Not until I had the revealer did I finally realize where the split letter squares should be located. With that settled finishing was easy but prior to that the puzzle was a frustrating mess.

A brilliant construction feat just not my kind of puzzle.

yd pg-2

Nancy 9:00 AM  

Fiendish! I mean that in a good way. Very tricky and well-constructed and it almost had me throwing in the towel for a while. I knew I had to go directly to the revealer to figure out what was going on, because I was not able to decode the theme answers.

One of the reasons was that they were so well-protected by both theme and non-theme trivia I didn't know. I should remember Monopoly railroads after all these years? Or know of a game with 54 blocks (whatever that means)? Or know that Sleepytime is a TEA. (I find all TEA to be a "wake-me-up" time, actually, 2nd only to coffee.) And of the many ways to clue HUBBLE, this surely must be the most obscure.

But I forgive you all this, David, because the theme is so brilliant and because you made me use every single one of my little gray cells. Saturday-hard, I thought, and an enjoyable challenge.

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

Dumbest puzzle I’ve seen in months. Total idiocy.

Whatsername 9:16 AM  

An impressive feat of construction and a nice twist on a Thursday rebus. The downside for me was it was a bit of a struggle before I figured out the themers. By the time I got to the aha moment I was getting frustrated, but all is forgiven. After looking at the finished product, it’s pretty amazing.

Wanted Choco TACO for my dusty dessert accompanied by a nice CLARET. And oh look! There’s AUSTRIA, an ENCORE appearance for the home of Arnold S. If it was the abbreviated version it might’ve been a good BREW UP to another brouhaha in the comments today.

Now off to LA for the Nancy & Will show!

Jim in Canada 9:17 AM  

@Trey 7:36 - then as an AFOL, you should know that the correct form of your sentence would be "I am going to play with my LEGO bricks." All caps and no S.
FFS, LEGO have even tweeted about this. LEGO is an adjective. LEGO bricks, LEGO sets, etc. If you absolutely must use it as a noun, then the plural of LEGO is LEGO. Just like sheep or shrimp.

JD 9:17 AM  

Did this puzzle last night after a heavy and heavily be-wined dinner. It was still doable in the bleariness with a check but I wasn't all that clued into what was going on (pretty much the way I do everything) until it was done. Yes, it's everything that @CODGER (sorry dude, it sticks) says it was.

But what really interests me at this point is David Steinberg. In 10 years, he's grown up in front of us. Is time really moving this fast?

Jeff Chen commented, "It's easy to write code to come up with pairs of entries differing only in their first/last letters, It's much, much harder to identify which of the thousands of finds are interesting." Right.

An article online from Stanford Magazine said, "By age 1, Steinberg had not only memorized the alphabet, but also had a pet letter—a wooden “J” he toted wherever he toddled, his mother, Karen Steinberg, says. By kindergarten or so, he was taking on 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles." His favorite toy was a letter!

Last weekend a brilliant niece and her brilliant husband flew me coast to coast on a 24-hour-trip to see the new Wes Anderson movie after I whined that there was no one around anymore to see the movie with who loved the director as much as I did. The really smart and creative, genius perhaps, are humbling and fun to be around.

Steinberg is Gof's gift to crossworld.

TJS 9:22 AM  

@Anonymous 7:13 provided the only enjoyment of the morning so far. Loved the "Club" story.

The Puzzle ? Played the game a little bit and decided "that's enough". One rebus per word is apparently all I can put up with (or up with which I can put).

On to Nancy in the LAT.

Jwaan 9:25 AM  

I enjoyed this and had a good initial struggle with the theme, too.

My only nit is with the clue for SEL. It's certainly not incorrect, but adding the parenthetical "fancy salt" feels off, since SEL literally means "salt." Maybe there's a joke here about writing an overly fancy clue for a fancy seasoning, but I doubt that was the intent.

Nancy 9:27 AM  

Many thanks to @Lewis and to Anon 7:30 for reminding people about Will Nediger and my puzzle in the LAT today. Although the link was thoughtfully provided, I'll provide it again, here, for anyone who missed it. https://www.latimes.com/games/daily-crossword. (It's in blue at the Anon 7:30 comment.) There's no firewall; it's free.

I may go there myself and try to solve it -- since I have no memory of what's in it other than the theme clues and answers. Who can remember all the way back that far? What I can promise you is that it's quite unlikely to make you "suffer" nearly as much as today's unusually crunchy Steinberg did. After all, how many puzzles can? :)

jberg 9:32 AM  

My mind got so involved trying to remember the Monopoly railroads that it failed to notice the double cluing. So I put in SHORTLINE, saw that 20A couldn't start with U, so 1D had to be GASCAP. A one-way rebus, how annoying! (Hi, @frantic). but then I got to 11D and realized what was really going on -- the rebus works in the acrosses, too, but just in a different way. As others have said, EUREKA! It's always even nicer to discover that something annoying was actually fun.

Also fun: that the word pairs are so unlike each other.

Hi @ACME. Hope you enjoyed your cameo appearance!

Z 9:45 AM  

@B. Struck - πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ - As if a company can control how words are used. And, no, they aren’t going to file, let alone win, any lawsuits because people say or write LEGOS. Here you go, a very brief primer on trademark infringement.

@Frantic Sloth - NCIS: Rye will feature stories about roller coaster murders.

Mikey from El Prado - The proper plural of rebus is rebopodes.

@Georgia - If the clue were being clear instead of puzzling it would have been written as What separates “money” from “everything”, then we wouldn’t waste precious nanoseconds sussing out that in the phrase “money ISN’T everything” ISN’T separates the word “money” from the word “everything.” This genre of clues is related to letteral clues (“the end of the beginning” for “gee” for example). I loved this clue because of that brief aha moment, but it is a fairly common cluing technique.

Absolutely no problem with the crossword app! Amazing how much less consternation one experiences by solving the way Gof intended, printing the puzzle out and solving on paper.

Caught on early, so Easy here. As is often the case with a tricky crossword, early illumination takes what may seem hard to others and makes it easy. My favorite themer is GOLD INGOT/HOLDING ON. The others are all single words paired with two word answers. This one is two word answers of differing lengths. Nice.

pmdm 9:45 AM  

Kitshef nails down the development that seems (to me) to accompany so many newer constructors. There is a universe of solvers whose tastes may diverge greatly from that expressed on the blog. What strikes me about Shortz is, as editor, he has the talent of mixing up the puzzles with characteristics that will attract a wide variety of solvers. Perhaps that's why he has lasted so long as the NYT puzzle editor.

As for the puzzle, I am of two minds. The concept was great, well deserving of a POW. But the PPP did bother me a bit. But not enough to result in my disliking the puzzle. I would like to see more puzzles using this theme. But that will not happen.

Joel Palmer 9:50 AM  

Mostly annoying

Old MacDonald 9:54 AM  

I'll be very disappointed if 38A isn't M&A's weeject of the day.

hankster65 9:56 AM  

I'm betting Will Shortz will not be asking Rex out to lunch anytime soon.

RooMonster 9:56 AM  

Hey All !
I went through a love-hate thing for Steinberg. I liked his early puzzles when he was still in the womb (well, I think he was 12 or 13 when his firsts started getting published), then started to not like him, as he kept getting his puzs in (thought it was just because he was Will's apprentice, and of course, I was jealous!), then was kinda neutral on him. But, since it's been a minute, and this puz has a good theme, with neat clues, I'm back to liking him. πŸ™‚

Figured out what in tarhooties was going on at OR(EG)ON. Had OREO_, and would've bet my paycheck before I looked at the clue, it would've been OREOS. Then thought, "Is it OREGON?" Looked down at the Revealer, said "Hmm, is it SPLIT ENDS?" And lo and behold, it was! So, went back to SHORT LINE, but then couldn't figure out what SHORTLING was. Has GASUP for 1D, which fit the clue, but then felt a tingling in the ole brain, and said, "Heyyyyyy, maybe Both ENDS are SPLIT!" Then saw GA(SC)uP, and wondered what that was. Har. Finally realized uERIAL wasn't a thing, and changed it to the A.

Confused yet?

Liked that there were Down Themers instead of trying to cram them all in the Acrosses.

Disappointed in David that the ENDS didn't spell anything. Just kidding, that would be nigh impossible. 😁

Some alternate Themer combined together clues:
Chuckling about a quick joke? SHORTLINE CHORTLING
Taking in the sites in the Alps? AUSTRIA BUSTRIP
Peter Parker's bitten spot? SPIDERMAN EPIDERMAL.

For David to find these similar words is inspiring. Was there a computer program involved? Or was it one of those things he just noticed? Also nice that the crossing words incorporated the Rebopodes, they weren't just left there making no sense.

Time for a KEG of Natural Light. Which would lead to EPIC OOZEing. Har! Sorry to spoil your breakfast!

No F's (though a few Boggled ROOs)
(Boggled Roo should be my new name!)

mathgent 10:09 AM  

I thought that Rex might complain that the five themers were found by programming a word list. He often manufactures knocks on excellent puzzles. Instead, he used today's as a way to say that Shortz should go, another of his favorite things.

I love all rebuses but this one is special. More crossword fun than I've had in ages.

I don't think that anyone says CHORTLING any more. It's not fun to say. What do we say instead? It's a particular kind of laughing. Not giggling.

High praise from Lewis, as a constructor, for David Steinberg's skill as an editor. This was Steinberg's hundredth puzzle published in the NYT. I remember doing his first one, when he was just out of diapers.

STOATs are ermines all year around, aren't they?

TJS 10:12 AM  

Liked it, @Nancy, excepts for the "windows".

Back to the Steinberg, what is the triple P ? I know I was aggravated by it when I was solving, but I don't have the patience or know-how to figure it out. Are we even allowed to bring it up with this guy?

JD 10:14 AM  

Nancy, A great, clever puzzling experience. I fell for every single misdirect. Only nit, 51D. I can think of a couple that won't get you to my soul.

@ZΓΏgΓΆt πŸ˜‚! Legos, there I said it. Come and get me coppers. I'm typing with one hand and using the other to gesture to the manufacturers of overpriced plastic, painful to step on. Makers of the $350 Disney Castle set with its gazzilions of tiny pieces that can't be used to build anything else, that any little girl or boy can wish for but only the salaried adult hobbyist or privileged can afford.

@Frantic, How did I live this long and never see Butt Ton?

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

came here for this... totally agree... thank you!

Nancy 10:18 AM  

So let's say you're a bride who's hoping for a few photographers to snap some nice pics on your Big Day. Maybe they'll just be some of your closest friends and not anyone from a major newspaper or magazine. But, hey, whatever.

Unfortunately, right across the street is another wedding. It's not just that the bride is unusually beautiful. It's not just that the bride is unusually glamorous. It's that the bride also happens to be Lady Diana!

This sort of what it feels like to have your puzzle come out on the same day as this David Steinberg beauty:)

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:25 AM  

Hey ZΓΏgΓΆtΓ«! God intended you to BUY the newspaper, and solve in it.

Leslie 10:28 AM  

I loved this puzzle but hated the NYT online solving experience. I had it all filled in,sort of, and was trying to figure out how to do the rebus squares. At first, I saw that there was a G next to the O in Oreon, and with AUSTRIA/BUSTRIP there was a B below the A and a P below the I in Austria, so I was wondering about how that might work. Anyway, as I said, I was figuring out that that wouldn't work when I put in the last letter (I think it was in the clue for money ISN"T everything) and wham bam finished. The app accepted the single letters, and then filled out the rebus squares! so I didn't even get a chance to do it myself.

Z 10:29 AM  

@Jwaan - I’m not clear on your nit. The parenthetical seems a tad too much, but is certainly accurate. My guess is that the editorial team decided everyone would automatically go ThΓ© there so were being nice and making it clear that something less common was wanted.

De gustibus and all that, but when all some people write is short comments that the puzzle was bad without explanation of why they thought it was bad it looks like what really happened is resentment over being fooled, that the commenters experienced what Robert Pirsig called “gumption busters.” Lots of people dislike puzzles for various reasons, but we usually get reasons for the dislike, some sort of explanation.

@Jim in Canada - πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ - My reaction to the overly self-involved protestations of The LEGO Group is to think they can go take a flying f*ck at a rolling doughnut.*

*There stance just feels deserving of a Vonnegut quote

Whatsername 10:31 AM  

@Nancy [and Will]: Another smash hit! I would love to go into detail but don’t want to post any spoilers here. I’ll just say my favorite clue was 5D; I once owned a 10D (circa 1976); and I’ve experienced many a 58A. But I do have one question: Is that hat black? Clever and fun – thank you both.

@JD (9:17) Interesting bit of trivia about Steinberg. I’ve never finished a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle in my life!

Carola 10:31 AM  

I'm among those whose reaction to David Steinberg puzzles has shifted from "Oh, give me a break!" to "Give me more!", so I was very happy to see his name at the top on a Thursday. I think he could have been a little meaner to us though: 17A had to end in -ING, and the crossing home of the Willamette Valley had to be OREGON, so there I already had my first SPLIT END. I did wonder if he was playing with E.G. - "for example," but EPIDERMAL/SPIDERMAN jinxed that idea. I really liked the shape-shifting between the theme words, a little like an optical illusion, except that here we have a BUS TRIP switching with AUSTRIA rather than a duck and a rabbit.

Re: LEGOS - Thanks to the commenters who've given us the background on the company's stance on the plural. Back in the 1980s on a European trip, our family made a detour to Denmark so that our grade-school son could experience LEGOland. Thank goodness there was no requirement to state the proper plural at the gate in order to obtain entry, as we would have been turned away.

Peter P 10:32 AM  

Re: LEGO. Sure, LEGO wants you to use the word a certain way: as an adjective. There are corporate and trademark reasons for that. In actual colloquial language, though, it doesn't matter one whit what they wish. The word in the wild will develop as it develops. How you can use it publicly on, say, enthusiast websites, without drawing the attention of the LEGO company is another story. Here (and elsewhere), lego(s) is commonly used as a noun to refer to the bricks. In the US, it is parsed as a countable noun, hence our preference for the plural "legos." In pretty much the rest of the anglosphere, it is treated as an uncountable, so children play with their "lego" instead of "legos." From experience, the American usage of "legos" is like nails on chalkboard to folks from other dialect regions, much how, I dunno, "aluminium" instead of "aluminum" might grate on an American English speaker's ears.

There are a number of words that are still trademarked that should be used as adjectives. For example, Frisbee. That's a Wham-O trademark, and AP style, for example, always says to refer to it as a "Frisbee disc" and generically as "flying discs." If you look at any official flying disc events, you will note that they are not usually referred to as "frisbee golf" or "ultimate frisbee" but rather "disc golf" and "ultimate." "Popsicle" is still trademarked (Unilever owns this trademark and insists that "popsicle" should never be used as a noun.) Crock-Pot is properly a brand of slow-cooker, and so on. Kleenex is a type of facial tissue. Xerox should not be used to mean "photocopy." "Taser" is still trademarked and has, at least in the past, aggressively hounded journalists who have used that word in print as a verb. And some have lost their trademark status over time: Dumpster used to be a trademark, but lost its status in 2015 (it looks like they voluntarily did so--I can't find details). Words that have lost their trademark due to generication include aspirin, escalator, dry ice, laundromat.

Regardless, language will do what language wants to do. And it occurs in all languages. In Poland, "adidasy" (as in, Adidases) is a generic colloquial form to mean any brand of athletic shoes (much like "Coke" in parts of the southern US.) In Hungary (and some other countries), "vincseszter" ("Winchester", a very old type of IBM hard drive) is colloquially used to refer to any hard drive (though I doubt IBM cares much about that--the Winchester hard drive goes back to 1973 and I'm not sure there's any trademark on it anymore.)

David 10:47 AM  

This must be a regional or cultural thing, plenty of LEGOS in my childhood.

JC66 10:50 AM  

@Greater Fall...

FYI, in order to download The NY Times crossword, you have to BUY a subscription.

Paul Steinberg 10:54 AM  

Hi, David’s dad here. I want to congratulate David on his 100th Times crossword puzzle and share an interesting and relevant story about David that he has agreed I can share. David had a themeless accepted when he was about 15. He knew this would not likely show up for a year or so. But when he was 18 and interning for Will, it still hadn’t come out, even though those puzzles he had sent later and that had been accepted had been published. So, he checked with Will, and it turned out that the accepted puzzle had somehow never been printed out and put in the queue for publication. Will offered to put it out then, but when David looked over the puzzle again, he no longer liked it and thought it didn’t reflect what he could do at 18; so, he asked Will *not* to publish it, which is what ultimately happened. As parents, my wife and I were both upset that he lost a publishable puzzle (and the money for that puzzle). Then again, we were proud of David for doing what he felt was right. But if David had let Will publish that themeless, today’s puzzle number 100 would have been number 101 and number 100 would have been months ago!

Bruce 10:59 AM  

r.e. yesterday's post; hone on my crusty brother!

Marty 11:00 AM  

I haven’t had this much fun with a crossword in ages! The more I look at it, the more it impresses me. Just noticed ISNT…. So clever.

Aelurus 11:08 AM  

Brilliant puzzle that was an absolute pleasure to wade around in and finally realize the trick. Worked top to bottom, knew something was up, and left the unknown squares hoping for my moment of enlightenment. It came at AUSTRIA/(aha!)BUS TRIP. Left it at AUSTRIA till I finished and could choose a sequence for the rebuses. Hey, that's a fun word to say...reminds me that it’s preferably hippopotamuses, not hippopotami, which further reminds me of that happy, catchy Christmas song about wanting a hippopotamus for Christmas. I have one! It was a Christmas gift of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's little replica of the ceramic hippo, its unofficial mascot.

I digress. Remembering others’ previous comments on what could be a pesky choice in the app, I chose an AB/AP lineup for all.

No congratulatory music! Uh-oh! Not knowing 9D, I’d inserted “pray” (could be, as far as I knew) then changed it to “bray” (ditto) when I suddenly realized 9A had to be BESETS. But forgot to check 21A, so DNF at the G in BRAG, having left the answer at GOUYED. Kinda liked the idea that gasconade could be a bray.

Thanks, David Steinberg, for the EPIC fun solve! Agree with everyone who appreciated David’s working both SPLIT ENDS into the crossing answers. Just awesome. And thanks to everyone for the reminder about Nancy and Will’s puzzle today, which I’m saving as a reward for finishing up this afternoon what is rather a DULL part of my current editing project. TATA till then.

Hartley70 11:14 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan 11:20 AM  

I rarely chime in here, although I follow you all almost daily, but I have to join in on the praise for this puzzle.

By the time I finally figured out exactly how the theme worked, I was over halfway through and I was already grinning at what a delight the solve had become. It challenged me all the way to the end. And as soon as I finished, I immediately saved it to my Favorite Puzzles folder.

I came to the forum hoping that others would have loved it too - and wondering how anyone could hate on this one...

Lo and behold! I don't think I've ever seen higher praise from Rex, for one. And then the consensus across the board seems to concur.

Damn great puzzle!

GILL I. 11:20 AM  

FIENDISH.....I cry. But do you care? you ask....NO! I want to think and ponder and wonder why OREGON doesn't fit. Oh, wait...it's a genius at work and whatever he does won't make sense. You can GOUGE your eyes out all you wan't. You can MANN the KEGS, HUBBLE the MOO, chew your GUMS till the cows come home...but you better have a sit down and eat some TACO and a side of CHURROS and enjoy his imagery.
But did you like this? you ask. I did....It took a lot of SPLIT ENDS mending my mind but....but...yes. I did and I finished. I had some TEA with my TEES and a little sip of some CLARET at the BREW UP.... it was UBER good.

Now I will tell you my David Steinberg story. I met David at a crossword tournament in Oakland CA many moons ago. Our friend ACME, asked me to come and try out one of these things (I failed miserably)....She introduced David to all. I think he was about 3 then (just kidding)....He was tall (for his age!!!) and he had that million dollar smile. He shook hands with everybody and was just the kind of person you'd want to sit down with and pick brains from....(just kidding)....Anyway, he's the HUBBLE of "Pillars of Creation" and I hope to meet him again.

Now I'm off to go tackle our other "genius" of puzzle creator.. @Nancy... and enjoy her fantasy.
I love Thursdays.....

W.K.K. 11:24 AM  

Perhaps the LEGO company should chill a bit and heed the advice of the Kellogg's folks to just leggo their LEGO.

Hartley70 11:27 AM  

@Nancy, 10:18am, you are far too modest. Your bride is every bit as lovely as Lady Di and hopefully her marriage will last longer even without the clamoring paparazzi. You, Will and David are all consummate constructors and it’s such fun to tussle with your twisty minds!

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Why is "inlet" the only word that doesn't begin/end with a double letter?

Aelurus 11:37 AM  

Oops! Had forgotten to replace my pumpkin carving, posted on Halloween in solidarity with @Barbara’s avatar, with my usual - It's a Da Vinci painting called Lady with an Ermine, and the "ermine" part, I notice, is part of a clue in today's puzz!

@mathgent 10:09 am - I wondered, too, why an ermine is a stoat in the summer. Britannica.com says, "The species is called ermine especially during its winter white colour phase." Did not know ermines are white in winter. So the lady in question appears to be holding a summer ermine!

Joseph Michael 11:48 AM  

Glad to see so many positive reviews, even from Rex, for this brilliant puzzle. It’s everything I hope a puzzle will be when I sit down to solve one. Creative, challenging, fun, and full of EUREKAs. An EPIC example of David’s talent after racking up 100 NYT crosswords. ENCORE!

Favorite themer was SPIDERMAN EPIDERMAL, with AUSTRIA BUS TRIP a close second. Favorite clues were those for LANCE, KEGS. GAS CAP, ACORN, and MOUSE. Toughest clue was the one for ISN’T. Had no idea why that was right until I came here.

But what’s a morning without something to complain about. JENGA crossing DOJO and MANN was a woe, and NCISLA is an eyesore. But it’s hard to care about nits like this when the rest of the puzzle offers so much pleasure.

Alternate realities:
“Is, are” and “was, were”: BE SETS
Feel sad: BE LOW
American woman: U.S. HER
Torn bra: BUST RIP
Tase your father. ZAP PA

JT 11:50 AM  

Paul Steinberg, thank you for sharing that story! Great puzzle and love how proud you are of your son.

Z 11:53 AM  

@Greater Falls - Agreed. Unfortunately, my current residence is “unroutable” so, much to my consternation, I can’t get the NYT delivered. The local paper manages to get delivered and they use the same delivery people, so this especially annoying to me.

@Peter P - Let me just add that calling an Ultimate disc a “frisbee” is the equivalent of stamping a giant neon “NOOB” on one’s forehead. Wham-O™️ doesn’t currently make a disc approved for Ultimate at any level. I don’t think the anti-Wham-O™️ sentiment is quite as strong in the disc golf community, but not getting even one disc on this list suggests that the trademark has been mismanaged into irrelevance. @Everyone who ever considers getting their young Ultimate player relative a disc as a gift, get them a Discraft Ultrastar.

jae 11:54 AM  

Sort of medium? Like everyone else the big time suck was figuring out the rebus and what to put in what squares. Very clever, liked it a bunch!hi

pabloinnh 11:57 AM  

@fraslo--Thanks for the info. I'm still waiting for NCISNH, but it can't take long.

@Nancy-Congrats to you and Will on a fun LAT puzz, thanks to those who posted links, and thanks to everyone who had more DS stories.

A Thursday to remember indeed.

Z 11:58 AM  

@Anon11:29 - It isn’t the only one. The themer is SPIDER-MAN/EPIDERMAL. I(NL)ET doesn’t have SPLIT ENDS just like other answers crossing themers, like BE(SE)TS.

thfenn 12:00 PM  

Loved this one. Definitely on a list of greats I keep meaning to compile. Can't really add more to the praise already here, so will just say I love a Thursday that takes some work, has lots of aha moments, ends up being fun and solvable and, on my end, introduces me to a constructor I should know about. On to @Nancy's...

Liveprof 12:03 PM  

Was the constructor challenging me (as I hacked my way through it)? Was he asking at 24A/24D -- Are you MANN or MOUSE?

Newboy 12:10 PM  

Even without a rebus, I happily accept any grid that gets Chen’s POW and an absolutely gushing review from Rex!

Needless to say I found endless delight solving today’s double rebus Thursday. When Shortz is Willing to retire, David has certainly earned a high position in the line of succession.

Whatsername 12:11 PM  

@Mr. Steinberg (10:54) Nice story and you have every right to be very proud of your son. Curiously, Jeff Chen’s column is showing this puzzle as number 102. I didn’t go through and look at every one but there does seem to be a discrepancy.

@Nancy: I agree. Your bride is lovely.

What? 12:17 PM  

What can I add to the many plaudits? Finished it after reading the Democrat Debacle Chronicles and it pulled me away from the depth of despair. Adding to my pleasure is that David actually published two of my crosswords. To have puzzles approved by David is an honor I will not soon forget and especially nor will my grandchildren.
If he could make six a week …

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

unlike @OFL, the OREGON answer screwed up the theme, being the first to see (for me, anyway). the SPLIT END is just as logically the traverse to GON through 21A and 22A. I consider that NO FAIR.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

*There stance just feels deserving of a Vonnegut quote

I doubt that. My Pappy acquired it in WWII building radio transmitters in North Africa. Long before Vonnegut published a word.

JC66 12:42 PM  


Good puzzle. I enjoyed it a bunch.

pabloinnh 12:47 PM  

QB today.

Cherry on the sundae.

mathgent 12:50 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

Anonymous (7:13)
JD (9:17)
Nancy (10:18)
Paul Steinberg (10:54)
Aelurus (11:37)

Newboy 12:52 PM  

Back to say thanks to commentariat; Crossworld is a delightful spot to spend time with Proud Papa & others who have enjoyed the Steinberg years. And the comments by @Nancy (gracious as always) and her fans give a boost to a rainy afternoon….with @Lewis’s recommendations mixed in I will be lucky to get out of bed today at all😏

Masked and Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Nice, feisty, different ThursPuz. thUmbsUp.

Figured out the theme fairly soon, at (S/C)HORTLIN(E/G). Took a little longer, on OREGON & GASCAP. Then, armed with that much new info, I went on down & somehow guessed what the entire 62-A "hairy" revealer was gonna be, just based on its clue. Lucked out, there.

Big nanosecond splurge, wantin DORM instead of DOJO, for way too long, tho. DOH … JO.

staff weeject pick: MOO. Wanted COW, because hadn't read the clue right. Wrong again, M&A breath.

Thanx, Steinbergmeister. Come back way more oftener, now that yer split ends have cleared up.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Anonymous 1:02 PM  

Wonderful puzzle that I solved without fully understanding. Now that I get how the trick works, I’m doubly impressed.

I’m with Rex — Aimee MANN is the only MANN the crossworld needs.

The Joker 1:08 PM  

I had 4 EGGO for breakfast today.

Stephen Minehart 1:10 PM  

I think it's okay that I'm echoing so many previous comments - we're a long way from too much positivity on the internet or in the world. This puzzle was perfect. Clever, fresh, tricky but not impossible. The theme was a joy, initially a challenge to solving, but then a thrill once discovered. More like this, please.

rjkennedy98 1:14 PM  

This puzzle was just fantastic. So glad that Rex also liked it because he was tweeting this morning about people who despise the Rebus. This puzzle absolutely proves how great the Rebus can be if done right. So much joy figuring out the trick and getting the theme.

Being somewhat new to crosswords (maybe 4-5 years of regular solving), this is the first time I've heard of David Steinberg. I would totally give my vote for him replacing W.S. after this one.

jb129 1:20 PM  

I never finished but I enjoyed the ride. Thank you, David (I think....)

egsforbreakfast 1:23 PM  

This puzzle raises some questions for me.

1. If an EPIDERMAN took an UBER to a SPIDERMAL, could he buy LEGOS?

2. Will I get GOUGED if I take an AUSTRIP to BUSTRIA?

3. If ACORN falls in the forest and no one but a STOAT hears it, ISNT it NICE?

In fact, I loved this puzzle and the only real question it left me with was how on earth do you construct such a beautiful beast? Thank you David Steinberg, and thank you also @Paul Steinberg for the story about David.

JD 1:31 PM  

I think Thomas Mann is the only Mann for the job, but since he hasn't shown up yet I don't suppose he ever will.

Crimson Devil 1:34 PM  

Quite a puzzle. Add my compliments. LANCE and ISNT clues some of best I’ve seen.

Teedmn 1:36 PM  

No EUREKA moment for me today. It's always disappointing to complete a puzzle correctly but not get the theme. Even after getting the reveal answer, I didn't put two and two together. I blame my habit of not reading entire clues. Because of the way the clues printed for the across themers, I never noticed the slashes in those clues, whereas I did see them in the down themer clues.

Now that I understand the theme, I can say it is a very nice puzzle, thanks David!

I had better luck with @Nancy and Will's LATimes puzzle though I had two tough spots that had me wondering if I was going to biff there. I circled two clues as very nice and I enjoyed the theme. I encourage everyone to give it a go. Nice job, @Nancy and Will Nediger.

Wanderlust 1:37 PM  

Same here. I can’t imagine saying, “Billy, pick up that pile of lego!”

Wanderlust 1:38 PM  

Me too. Frustrating because in other cases, slashes have been accepted.

LenFuego 1:41 PM  

If praising this puzzle was not an avenue to digging at Will Shortz, I am convinced Rex would have panned it. He would have complained that the “ends” weren’t actually “split”, or that the letters of the split ends did not spell anything, or that it was too easy for.a Thursday, or that there was a lot of junk fill (SEL, OBI, ADO, VAL, etc), or more likely, all of the above and the some, and it would have all been Shortz’s fault.

As for me, I thought it was good, but not noteworthy. The theme seemed like typical Thursday fare, and the fill and clues overall were well done, but with nothing really sticking out as wonderful. In short, I liked it. Nice puzzle, Mr. Steinberg.

I did have one hiccup — I dropped in I(NS)ET instead of I(NL)ET for “Coastline feature” in one of the theme ends, thinking of a map inset that would feature the coastline, which seems like a perfectly plausible answer. That made “Of the outer skin layer” EPIDERMAS, which just seemed like an alternate spelling of EPIDERMIS, which with all the Greek rootsiness of the word, also seemed plausible to me. I don't think it would have taken long to figure out except with a Rebus, you are always first suspicious that you simply have not satisfied what the app is looking for in the Rebus squares and I ended up spinning my wheels for a while on that.

stephanie 1:48 PM  

since there will be hockey later, and a trip to the doctor, and dinner, i decided to solve earlier in the day today. however, this proved to add additional difficulty since the ol' brain wasn't all the way turned on. didn't even notice there was a theme until i got down to the "hairy" clue that mentioned one and then had to go back and see what they were referring to. somehow i thought BUS STOP could be a setting for both the sound of music (didn't she take a bus? i don't like musicals but seemed plausible) and a greyhound journey. i was bummed to discover that my knowledge of the monopoly board had dwindled away to nothing, but the CHORTLING railroad did seem a bit unlikely, i admit. and what is a GASAP? surely some military bit on a tank i hadn't heard of, that's all. and ORGON? a place i'd not heard of, that's always likely.

but calling a webmaster EPIDERMAL? i know enough about tech that i would have heard that before, right? hm. is LEP some kind of old style LEAP? hm again. but it was ILET that really did my head in. and SPLIT ENDS, which i typed in with a half baked EUREKA moment must mean...something? right? okay, time for the pen and paper and let's figure this mess out for real this time. finally, lightbulbs. and as rex said, once you figure that out, the rest falls into place.

well, except the center west, because i was absolutely certain GELT was the answer for the hanukkah chocolate shape. why, as an atheist and a child of catholics did i eat so much damn chocolate GELT growing up? listen, i have no idea, but it was good. alas, turns out i just overthought that answer. CANS before KEGS, NECK before NAPE, GOOD before UBER...and of course that initial BUS STOP before BUS TRIP, but nothing too terrible to clean up. i didn't know VAL but the crosses were fair. if i had one nit it's that i'd prefer not to see ECO in puzzles anymore, at least clued so lazily. seems like a crutch, and apparently it can be a prefix for anything. as a font nerd, i knew ARIAL and AERIAL right off the bat, but i said "WEAK" out loud. with the spelling so close already, not much excitement there, but i forgot it eventually since the rest of the puzzle really had me working my brain. glad i didn't cave and google the monopoly railroads, and instead stuck this one through on my own. worth it. satisfying.

fiddleneck 1:53 PM  

Question for Z; I opened the L A Times Crossword. It was nearly all filled out. How can that happen? No one but me has access to my iPad. I am bummed. I also could not find a button that said clear the grid.

stephanie 1:56 PM  

have to agree with @David, maybe the brand intend LEGO to be both singular and plural but we definitely played with LEGOS and lots of them. born & bred in RI, USA. (hey, at least it's not OKRAS! ;))

EV 1:57 PM  

Good trickery, very low blah count. What a puzzle should be.
Briefly considered throwing against Nancy’s Wall when the app wouldn’t give me the happy music because of the double letter shenanigans,
but, as Nancy would, I declared it finished and moved on.

Oh, btw;

“…calling an Ultimate disc a “frisbee” is the equivalent of stamping a giant neon “NOOB” on one’s forehead.”

“My reaction to the overly self-involved protestations of (insert here…) is to think they can go take a flying” you know the rest.

stephanie 2:01 PM  

@bocamp i do really wish there was a way for us to type in multiple letters in a square. i always have to write out my answers on paper for these kind of puzzles because even when i know what i'm doing, i need to see it to keep my head straight. simply allowing one to type multiple letters wouldn't work, because then it would uncover the trick too early and spoil it. so you'd have to have a way to do it intentionally. maybe holding shift while typing the letters or something, at least for the web version anyhow.

Eniale 2:24 PM  

Woeful DNF - couldn't even get properly started; had to content myself with being right with ARIAL and AERIAL, hardly Thursday standard. Having consulted Rex to get the gimmick, I'll return to puz and try to continue.

On the other hand, td -0; yd -3; dbyd -0.

stephanie 2:26 PM  

@Jwaan at least in the US, fleur de sel is finishing salt, i.e. fancy salt. i see what you mean though, it is a bit hand-holdy for a thursday. might as well just say "salt: fr" or some such. but, i don't know french off the top of my head and always like the food related clues so it pleased me the way it was. (and at my solving level i need a few gimmes on the tougher days ;))

JC66 2:28 PM  


Hitting the esc key should allow you to to type in multiple letters in a square.

stephanie 2:46 PM  

@JC66 just tried it on an archived puzzle - EUREKA! and thank you. i'll try that next rebus puzzle. appreciate it.

actually, i just noticed something else i had never seen before, on account of i always scroll down to hide the timer. (i like to know the time after, but not during.) there's a button on the same line as the timer, over where "clear | reveal | check" are located that says "rebus." you can click this to get the same functionality as ESC. i could swear this is new, as i do sometimes use "check" on old puzzles where the streak isn't on the line and i don't recall ever seeing it...but truth be told i don't think i ever knew what a rebus even was before i came here, so maybe i just didn't see what i didn't know.

anyhow, two solutions in one day for a longstanding problem is a great reveal.

Unknown 2:54 PM  

Tapping the ellipses on the bottom left of the keypad brings up a "REBUS" box which allows you to type more than one letter per square.

stephanie 2:54 PM  

for anyone who reads threaded replies like i do (and you don't have to be on mobile to do it - just add "?m=1" to the end of the blog link without the quotes) i'll append my reply to @bocamp here - thanks to @JC66 i have learned that pressing ESC will allow you to type multiple letters into a square, as will pressing the "rebus" button which is in the check/reveal line on the web. yay! (whether i would have typed them in correctly "enough" for them to be accepted is another story, but hopefully i'll get to try it out sunday or next week.)

JC66 2:56 PM  


You're welcome. You can return the favor by posting this early every day.

okanaganer 3:27 PM  

After all the hoohah about Across Lite being too outdated for our fancy modern puzzles, I had no problem getting the Happy Pencil for this one. In fact I haven't felt I've missed out on anything by clinging to A.L., in all the months since.

Now, off to do Nancy's puzzle... using A.L.

[Spelling Bee: yd 0; final word was this one. It took me forever to get it, which is weird cuz it's not that unusual. Ended my QB drought!]

bocamp 3:37 PM  


Enjoyed your and Will's LA Times puz. :) Fave clues: 'Old timer', 'Showcase for pipes' and "Windows to the Soul".

@Paul Steinberg (10:54 AM)

Good stuff; thx for sharing! :)

@pabloinnh (12:47 PM) πŸ‘ for QB td

@stephanie (2:01 PM) / (2:54 PM)

Thx for your posts! :)

Glad I read the latest comments before posting. @JC66, as
always, can be counted on to come to the rescue. πŸ‘

I'll include part of what I had originally written:

I use the NYT' iPad Crossword app, which includes a 'Rebus' key on the keyboard, so typing in multiple letters is never a prob; it's just figuring out exactly what to type in, lol. Usually the app is very lenient re: what's entered.

In any event you and @ZΓΏgΓΆtΓ« , etal are right about deadtree solving; you're 100% in control there, however things could get messy if using ink. lol

@JC66 (2:28 PM)

Thx, didn't know the 'esc' shortcut. Have been doing some of my solves on the laptop, so this is a huge time saver! :)

@Eniale (2:24 PM) πŸ‘ for -0's td & dbyd

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

stephanie 3:51 PM  

ps, just finished nancy's puzzle too. my first LAT solve! a handful of writeovers and quite a few hiccups but all was well in the end, making another satisfying solve today. thanks to @anon 7:30am for both links!
favorite clue: 5D
biggest aha moment: 46A (runner up: 49D)
never heard of it but now i know: 15A

bertoray 3:57 PM  

Kudos Nancy for a a thoroughly enjoyable LAT crossword. This OLD TIMER got a kick out the cluing.

stephanie 4:02 PM  

@JC66 i like to do the puzzle before bed to relax my mind, but, i suppose i have plenty of still un-did archived ones for that. i'll consider it ;)

hieutonthat 4:03 PM  

Same here. Had to take out the slashes to keep the streak alive.

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

things could get messy if using ink. lol

only sissies do it in pencil.

Anonymous 4:30 PM  

FYI-The INS key also allows multiple letter entry in a square.

Unknown 4:34 PM  

Thanks David. Thanks Nancy. A double dose of perfection!

Smith 5:10 PM  

Commenting before reading:

ARIAL and AERIAL are not homophones. Ariel (the sprite) is a homophone with AERIAL, but the first syllable of ARIAL rhymes with the first syllable of Harry. I'm surprised Rex didn't mention that.

Also, boo on app, had to reΓ«nter (hi @Z whatever) two of my double letter squares.

Still finished in exactly average Thursday time, so medium for sure. But a fun medium!

Now off to find @Nancy's LATimes puzz and will read you all later


Anonymous 5:33 PM  

Would someone tell me why the blogger wants the present editor of the Times crossword replaced. I thought Shortz was highly thought of as editor.

Blue Stater 5:34 PM  

"Where students might kick their feet up." DOJO. Huh?!?!?!

Joe Dipinto 5:37 PM  

My David Steinberg story:
At the end of the 2014 ACPT DS and I were tied for points, but because of the tiebreaker rule I was ranked one position higher than him. Ha, and ha. I bet he's still smarting over that one.

(But I love his puzzles.)

@Nancy, loved your puzzle too.

Gary 5:43 PM  

Like most others, enjoyed tremendously. Learned a few things, like ermines in winter. As longtime solver who only recently discovered the rebus button (old eyes, expanded screen; where'd that come from?) I have one question on the conventions of these things. I tortured myself a while trying to make the theme clue horizontal begin and end with double letters because its mirror horizontal (the laughing train one; not a Dylan song) did. Is it a convention that this non parallelism signals the key? Or sometimes will the theme clue also be a strict formal equivalent?

bocamp 5:47 PM  

@okanaganer (3:27 PM) πŸ‘ for 0 yd

I'd say unusual as a standalone. πŸ€”

@Anonymous 4:20 PM

Did deadtree xwords for much of my life; in the latter times always used ink. Don't recall rebuses in those days, tho I might have gone sissy had there been. πŸ˜‚

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Aelurus 6:12 PM  

@Nancy 10:18 am – Brava, indeed! Thanks for making today a doublet of cruciverbal fun! 8D is new to me. I thought it might be a nickname of sorts but it’s definitely descriptive.

Loved your and Will's puzzle, but I accidentally cheated. Since I was taking a break from working on my laptop, I used it, instead of my iPad, to access the puzzle. Sooo, when I read 20A, I couldn’t help but glance over.... I wonder if anyone remembers the dreadful diet soda in the pink can that Coca-Cola once sold...

Nancy 6:25 PM  

Considering how kind and generous so many people have been to me (and to my collaborator Will Nediger) today when our puzzle in the LAT wasn't even the main event, I feel I really need to thank each of you individually. So my thanks to @Lewis, @JD, @Whatsername, @Hartley70, @pabloinnh, @JC66, @Newboy, @Teedmn, @bocamp, @stephanie, @bertoray. @Unknown, and @Joe Dipinto for your reallynicde and gratifying remarks.

As an aside: It's always interesting when clues get changed and the constructor has no idea why. Many of the clues I was happiest with didn't get changed and you all seemed to like them, so I'm pleased about that. But there's one clue I liked a lot -- a clue to one of the theme answers -- that did get changed. My original clue for 46A was: In films, it's sometimes a visual metaphor for sex. Which is more challenging than the clue they went with, more oblique than the clue they went with, and certainly a lot more colorful than the clue they went with. So why they changed it is a complete mystery to me.

Aelurus 6:36 PM  

@Liveprof 12:03 pm - LOL

thfenn 6:48 PM  

@Nancy, just got to finish yours (and Will's). I have no idea what puzzles end up where or why, but thought it was first rate, and would hope yours bring FAME and fortune. Fun cluing, fun misdirects, a theme that worked, and some challenging fill. Lol, and your 46A is better. Think I'll put on something with CRASHINGWAVES in it.

Anonymous 6:58 PM  

David Steinberg is a name I dread. I agree the Times needs a new editor. I really hope it isn't him. Even if I finished this relatively quickly, it was joyless and had a real 'so what' to it. Meh.

Xeno 7:47 PM  

@Anonymous 5:33

Something personal.

Michael will claim it is philosophical and professional, and his sycophants on here will support him on that.

But in the end, there is something about Will Shortz that pisses Michael off. And though Michael tries desperately to claim only professional disagreements, every once in a while his venting he shows it to be personal. Very personal.

The sad thing is that Michael denies this. And it is even sadder that his sycophants support him on this denial.

He may have good reason to have a personal grudge against Shortz. It may be a very good reason that we could all rally behind. Sadly, he won't say. But If he wants sympathy from anyone other than his sycophants, he ought to say why he holds this grudge.

Anonymous 7:56 PM  

Swedish has a set of neuter nouns that when they are discussed in the indefinite form, they do not change for quantity. For example: ett barn, tvΓ₯ barn (one child, two children) or ett ord, tvΓ₯ ord (one word, two words). Lego is in that same class of nouns. I accept the construct and translate these into English as ’two children’ and ’two words’ and ’two Legos.’

My apologies if the letters for the Swedish ’two’ don’t display well. It is pronounced ’tvoh’.

GILL I. 7:57 PM  

HEY @NANCY...WHAT AM I? Chopped liver?

RooMonster 8:12 PM  

SB today

RooMonster πŸ‘‘ Guy

JC66 8:16 PM  


I, for one, like chopped liver with my martini. πŸ˜‚

Hey @Roo

Mazel Tov! Me, too.

Anonymous 8:18 PM  

I always have a harder time on Thursdays than even Friday or Saturday.
Today I never got the gimmick. I thought the words were split, like SPIDERMAL - spider and dermal, but that didnt work everywhere, and I knew OREGON and ABBA, but couldnt see where the extra letters were coming from. Oh, well.

bocamp 8:30 PM  

@RooMonster (8:12 PM) / @JC66 (8:16 PM) πŸ‘ for 0's td

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Bad Mouse 9:05 PM  

@Blue Stater:

no answer yet? many/most/all Asian martial arts venues are called, in English, DOJO. most such, Tae Kwan Do(sp? don't remember anymore) in particular, involve kicking. black belt, here.

puzzlehoarder 9:49 PM  

When they sue they use little lawyers made of LEGOS.

albatross shell 10:35 PM  

**Minor spoilers for LA Times
Crossword of today almost yesterday by now**

Fun and clever.
Old timer: Saw immediately where it was going. Pocket watch, grandfatger clock to right answer. Waited for one confirming cross.

the bar: drinks legal music gymnastics. Knowing you or just naturally went to the right one right off.
took a few crosses to get the answer anyway.

Trilogy of terror: as I have mentioned before here, one of my favorite indie actresses before such things existed. Always wonderful to find her in the puzzle. Somehow I do not think you have the same opinion about her and her movies.

Biggest surprise jaw dropping: OK, not your GAL but a Marvel Comic clue for a Marvel character. All your complaining and there in your own puzzle. Lady, you got some splainin' to do. Not that you have to, I'll just assume you are now a fan and are busy reading the last 60 years of Marvel output.

I thought it a crunchy enough puzzle too.

The above was written 12 hours after solving it. I was on the riad mist of the day. If I get back to it and find any high or low moments I forgot, I'll post tomorrow. Enjoyed solving very much.

Georgia 11:33 PM  

Nancy, wonderful LA Times puzzle, my first ever! So refreshing to read so many supportive comments here, I had to try it. Bravo Rex bloggers, brava Nancy!

albatross shell 11:36 PM  

Now the NYT.
Hated it depised it couldn't stand it. For these specific reasons.
1. I put in / because they always work. And because as soon as I remembered SHORTLINE I got both clues and saw how they could work and GAS/CAP looked perfect for the /. No music when I finished. Then I took the slashes out. No music. Then I saw I missed one. The T/N of BOTNET. Fixed it. No music. Couldn't find an error. Consulted answer key. No error found. Pushed check puzzle. Thin red line through the correct TN I had just put in. Xed it out and put in a sigle letter T. It froze and music played and my streak ended and my thursday streak ended. No 2000 like @Lewis. Okay they were both single digit streaks.

2. I spent a pile of time trying to remember the arts center that was just south of City Hall which was the wrong one anyway. And the MANN one didn't exist until after I left Philly. How dare they make changes after I left. It has only existed since 1976. The nerve.

3. I was looking forward to @Zizzthermeister trashing the puzzle for being boring cause it's based on spelling so who cares how boring not for me.

So of course I'm bsing. I loved it. Same as nearly anyone else. Still not sure the zzzizzztherful one. I also loved, a bit in all the SPLITENDS, but especially in the SIDERMAN-EPIDERMAL pair, the way the words seem so different while only differing by the first and last letters. So neat. And last week's chuckle that I loved and thought maybe chortle would be even better and here it is. Someone even mentioned something about that in their post that day.

Clark 3:25 AM  

One more voice here saying bravo to this puzzle. I don't think I've ever seen such unanimous praise for a puzzle. It was making me nervous, and I was somehow relieved to see that there was at least one anonymouse who didn't like it. And how great is it that dad dropped by with a story!

Z 6:08 AM  

@albatross shell - I didn’t hate it because spelling isn’t the only key to the theme, but review my comments again. Sometimes what you don’t say is most illuminating.

JillDNY 7:19 AM  

I liked this one a lot but hadn’t heard of gold ingot (although botnet sounded reasonable) and it was driving me crazy! OHDEAR!

Nancy 9:28 AM  

@albatross shell -- I don't remember the pop culture clue/answer you're referring to (I worked on this puzzle well over a year ago, have a terrible memory, have worked on many other puzzles in the interim, and in any event almost certainly didn't clue that answer, whatever it was.) Here, for you and everyone else is my Apologia/Explanation:

You are lucky enough to be working with one of the great grid-constructors in the puzzle biz. You count your blessings every day. Said constructor has never once said to you: "Nancy, your theme idea and the theme answers you want me to embed this time are too difficult, too complicated, too limiting. I just can't make it work. Sorry."

Will Nediger can always make it work!

Will also knows that I hate pop culture names and goes out of his way to avoid them when he's collaborating with me. He does a splendid job in this regard. But sometimes a few names will sneak in. When they do, I know it's because he found them unavoidable.

When you are working with a genius puzzle-maker, you do not send him back to Square One to re-do the entire grid. If you could make a better grid yourself, you'd be making it, right? Since you can't make any grid at all, even the most rudimentary one, you smile sweetly at your collaborator and tell him that the grid is perfect. Then you smile sweetly and say: "But you'll clue 61A, right, the clue about the underwater rap artist from Sri Lanka, because I have no idea who the hell he is. And, of course, he does.

Thus are successful collaborations conducted and nurtured.

And this is why I have absolutely no idea what clue you're talking about in my LAT puzzle from yesterday.

Anonymous 2:14 AM  

Like the downs but kinda hate the acrosses. On Spider-Man and gold ingot the first and last letters fall on the same side of the rebus and you can read the answer. The first and last letters fall on the same side of the rebus on the acrosses too but you're stuck reading chortline and bustria. I guess it's consistent but I'd rather see the first letters on the acrosses reversed somehow so I can read the answers.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

I'm with you, had no idea why "isnt" was the answer. Poor cluing.

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