Vertical water conduit / WED 11-30-22 / K on a printer cartridge / Online competitor of US Weekly

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Constructor: Addison Snell

Relative difficulty: If there were a day *before* Monday, that is how easy this was ... bizarre


THEME: 4K? K4? — four examples of what "K" can stand for:

Theme answers:
  • STRIKEOUT (20A: K, in baseball)
  • THOUSAND (27A: K, in a salary listing)
  • BLACK INK (!?) (42A: K, on a printer cartridge)
  • POTASSIUM (53A: K, on the periodic table)
Word of the Day: STANDPIPE (34D: Vertical water conduit) —

In North America, a standpipe is a type of rigid water piping which is built into multi-story buildings in a vertical position, or into bridges in a horizontal position, to which fire hoses can be connected, allowing manual application of water to the fire. Within the context of a building or bridge, a standpipe serves the same purpose as a fire hydrant.

In many other countries, hydrants in streets are below ground level. Fire trucks carry standpipes and key, and there are bars on the truck. The bar is used to lift a cover in the road, exposing the hydrant. The standpipe is then "sunk" into the hydrant, and the hose is connected to the exposed ends of the standpipe. The bar is then combined with the key, and is used to turn the hydrant on and off. (wikipedia)

• • •

This may be one of those days where someone else has to show me some cool thematic element that I missed, because sitting here now, at 4:30am, just after finishing the puzzle, all I see are "four things 'K' can stand for," and that just doesn't seem like much. Worse, the theme is not just thin, it's got one theme answer that feels very, very forced—very "Which of these Four is Not Like The Other"—i.e. BLACK INK. The other three "K"s are iconic ... whereas I have replace BLACK INK in my (two!) printers for *decades* and never noticed that "K" stood for anything. I'm absolutely guessing here, but I bet that if you ask any ordinary person to name four things that "K" can stand for, they can probably name ... three. The three non-BLACK INK answers that are in this puzzle. But BLACK INK, yeesh. OK, if you say so. That is, I'm sure you're right, but ... no. But even that weird version of "K"—hell, even STANDPIPE (no idea)—couldn't get this puzzle up to a respectable level of difficulty. I was stunned at how easily I moved through the grid at first. I got every clue I looked at, without hesitation, from 1A: Target of modern splicing (GENE) all the way to here:


That is, I wrote in SEEKS at 22A: Looks (SEEMS) and quickly found out I was wrong—but even *that* wasn't "hesitation" so much as a brief erasure and correction. I didn't actually completely balk at an answer until I was staring at -STY (48D: Maybe too amorous). My brain went "TASTY?" And then I shrugged and kept going. STANDPIPE was by far the oddest thing in the grid (I wanted both STEAM PIPE and STOVE PIPE before I got it), and even it did very little to stop my hurtling forward momentum. As usual, the "word with / before / after / before and after"-type clue baffled me (43D: Word with spare or sea = CHANGE) so I couldn't flow easily into the SW, but I just jumped in, got OMAN no problem, and was done a few seconds later. I have no idea what was supposed to make this a Wednesday as opposed to a Monday. Maybe BLACK INK? STANDPIPE? BERM!? (I don't know how I even know that term) (38A: Road shoulder). This was a ho-hum, 20th-century grid, at both the thematic and overall fill levels, and it was easier than any NYTXW Wednesday should ever be. I know they're deliberately making the puzzle easier over time (that has become self-evident), probably so that more of their many many subscribers can feel "successful" on a regular basis, and OK, capitalism, whatever ... but it's starting to feel a little shameful.


There's not even any interesting fill to comment on. I liked BUZZSAWS and DIRT CHEAP very much. The rest of it was mostly just there. Clean enough, no strong complaints. Just kind of 3-4-5 Blah, all over.

Happy end of November!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. Lots of people weighed in on the alleged technical inaccuracy of yesterday's clue for DNA (6D: Molecule whose structure was discovered by Rosalind Franklin). The most level-headed of such responses came to me via email, and here it is:
Hey Rex,
                Scientist here. The clue for DNA (6 dn) "molecule whose structure was discovered by Rosalind Franklin" is wrong. Besides the sort of pedantic point that structures are not 'discovered', Franklin took an X-ray of DNA that was important and for which she certainly deserved to have been given more credit. But she didn't solve the structure, as far as anyone knows. I suppose you could argue that giving a woman more credit than she deserves is ok karma-wise and that taking some credit away from James Watson is even better. But in the end I think keeping to the historical record as best we can is the right approach. My three cents. ~T.B.
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

100 comments:

Conrad 5:39 AM  


Easy enough that I didn't have any non-typo overwrites. But I enjoyed the puzzle. I didn't read the clues for the long acrosses, and when I was done I tried to figure out the link between STRIKEOUT, THOUSAND, BLACK INK and POTASSIUM. The theme clues brought a nifty "aha" moment.

Anonymous 5:43 AM  

Yeah that was weird. Easiest puzzle of the week. Didn’t know ELSINORE (EL SINORE?) but otherwise nothing slowed me down. Enjoyed seeing SWIZZLE sticks for the cocktail nod. Im also feeling baffled at the weak theme.

Anonymous 5:45 AM  

This played like an easy Monday. I dunno.

The Joker 6:18 AM  

One of the baseball brothers is never mentioned. I'm talking of course about Bob ALOU.

Anonymous 6:30 AM  

Agree. Shamelessly easy. So easy that one must wonder how it made the cut. Go figure.

Matt 6:37 AM  

With regards to K as black ink, modern ink jet and color laser printers use 4 colors, typically represented as CMYK: Cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Using basic color theory all colors can be derived by mixing those four.

Wanderlust 6:42 AM  

I assume I’ll be one of many who scored best-ever on a Wednesday with this. But if the NYT thinks I’m all aglow over that, they are wrong. This was pathetically easy. It belonged in one of those cheap xword mags you buy at an airport newsstand. No one even tried to come up with a mildly interesting or challenging clue.

Like Rex, I just zipped through the top half, with “skateboarder’s prop” (RAIL) the only clue I didn’t know instantly. It was mildly more challenging in the bottom half, with a brief hiccup from putting in Tokyo instead of JAPAN. And yeah, no idea about BLACK INK. I am dying to know what letter stands for cyan.

Most boring puzzle in a long time.

Bob Mills 6:43 AM  

When I finish a Wednesday puzzle in less than 20 minutes, that's too easy. The cluing was very straightforward, almost suspiciously so. I kept waiting for a misdirect, but one never came.

Anonymous 6:45 AM  

The K comes from CMYK

Georgia 6:51 AM  

Ha!

SouthsideJohnny 6:52 AM  

Yes, it could easily have been run on a Monday. However I greatly enjoyed the fact that we had “real” Crossword puzzles on two consecutive days (that streak will almost surely end tomorrow). I mean “real” in that the theme kind of laid in the background and didn’t cause any trouble and the clues weren’t artificial and cryptic (and were mostly in English - imagine that !).

My only nit is the absurd Zounds/EGAD combination. Those foolish (made up) clues that are supposed to sound like something that could sound like or mean something else don’t add anything to the solving experience. You see that with clues for words like DRAT and DARN much too frequently. WS could, and in my opinion should, encourage the constructors and editors to do better if they need to fill up space in a NYT submission. Obviously a nit, but if you keep doing the simple things well you can end up with something really special.

A good puzzle that could have been run on a different day is much better than the all-to-frequent clunkers that leave one wondering how they got published in the first place.

Wundrin' 6:55 AM  
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Anonymous 6:57 AM  

The real outlier for me was the clue on SHIN—“Tibet’s location.” Wanted ASIA but it was obviously wrong. I assume SHIN is a region in China, but couldn’t find confirmation in a casual search. Xinjiang maybe? The fact that the answer isn’t self-evident seems weird on a Wednesday, but all the more so today. It also seems crazily insensitive to Tibetans, who’ve been suffering under Chinese occupation for almost 75 years.

Anonymous 7:04 AM  

KING & QUEENS, and almost a JOKEr.

Anonymous 7:07 AM  

Full fifty seconds faster than my TUESDAY record.

Trina 7:20 AM  

Small hang up - Shaggy dog TALE dropping down from TOKYO (Olympic site). Don’t think I’ve ever heard of a shaggy dog JOKE.

Anonymous 7:27 AM  

Hi! Did you maybe misread the clue? Mine says “Tibia’s location”

Paulus Johannes 7:29 AM  

@Matt . I believe (could be wrong!) that in theory all colours, including black, can be produced using only cyan, yellow and magenta. A problem producing true black arises because of, perhaps, impurities in the C, Y and M inks and in whatever paper is being used. The result of mixing all those colours in equal parts results in a kind of muddy black. The solution is to use a pure black pigment instead of mixing CMY. Many years ago I took a continuing education course in graphics where I learned that the letter K is used for blacK to avoid confusing it with Blue. Seems reasonable, I guess.

Matt 7:30 AM  

The clue is “Tibia’s location,” not Tibet.

Joaquin 7:31 AM  

@Rez says, "This may be one of those days where someone else has to show me some cool thematic element that I missed ... "

oK. The theme answers are all things abbreviated with "K" yet none of them starts with a K. That, IMO, adds a bit of interest.

kitshef 7:33 AM  

What makes this easy puzzle pretty neat is that none of the theme answers start with the K, so you couldn’t use something like Kelvin as an answer. The only other one I could think of quickly is the Boltzmann constant, and I’m pretty sure the editors would have rejected that one.

A weird feature is the number of grid corners where both the across and down answers start with an ‘s’. This is common at the end of words, much to @Anoa Bob’s delight, but today we get:
SEEMS/SAUL
SWELL/STANDPIPE
STEAL/SHIN
SHARP/SKIN
SWIZZLE/STAIN

And Rex's note pointing out that yesterday's clue for 6D was wrong is itself wrong. Franklin did not take the X-ray that was used to determine the structure of DNA. That x-ray was taken by Raymond Gosling. What Franklin did was establish the lab set-up and protocols for the x-ray photography. She is still a giant in the search for the structure of DNA.

JJ 7:44 AM  

The clue reads “Tibia’s location” as in the bone in one’s leg.

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

I fear CMYK is another “A/B test” situation for Rex.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

@Anonymous 6:57, you might want to re-read the clue. It’s “tibia,” not Tibet :)

Dr.A 7:52 AM  

Way too easy. No fun to have such an easy Wednesday. Boo.

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

Oops: clue was “tibia location “

Lewis 8:03 AM  

A fun solve, but, for me, so zippy that I wasn’t ready to leave Crosslandia yet, so I lingered and gazed at the grid, looking for pleasing connections, that is, some post-solve pleasure, and some came my way. The lovely PuzzPair© of KING and CRAB. BLACK sharing the grid with ARTS, not to mention SHARP and BUZZSAW. The abutting rhymers SHIN and SKIN. And AUDIO / APSO / NITRO / OTRO / DEMO.

Plus, two words I adore, SPRIG and BERM.

Then I was motivated to see the origin of the term “SWIZZLE stick”, only to find a murky muddle of, I think, five different accounts, but it was a lovely plunge, taking me to the Caribbean, where there are certain tree branches whose endpoints are flares of multiple J-shaped hooks, branches that were held between flat palms, dipped into drinks, then spun to do the swizzling. I also learned that there was a queen of England who swizzled champagne to remove the bubbles and make it less gassy, to avoid embarrassment.

Thus, I not only had a fun outing through the grid, but bonuses beyond. Thank you for this, Addison!

mmorgan 8:07 AM  

Yes, crazy easy, though I did find myself slowing down a tad in the bottom half.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

"pathetically easy", "Shamelessly easy", "way too easy" ???

You all know where to find hard puzzles. Why do you do these? Seriously, why?

TJS 8:19 AM  

A 12 minute Wednesday ! Without trying to rush. This is getting ridiculous.

Best part of the puzzle comments...someone standing up for the Tibetans. Lets see Lewis top that.

Son Volt 8:22 AM  

I didn’t mind the theme - Mike SHARP maybe missed the very subtle nuance that the themers all are abbreviated with K but none actually start with K? I do agree that the grid basically filled itself in - no real pushback for a mid-week puzzle. Song for ADAM

I looked at my printer and the BLACK cartridge is marked Bk. Liked SWIZZLE and ELSINORE. A few short of a pangram.

The SWELL Season

Enjoyable Wednesday solve.

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

Amy: Trina at 7:20, you and the shaggy dog are not alone in Tokyo😫.

JJ 8:31 AM  

4k was a feature of $500 75 inch televisions widely advertised by Amazon the last two weeks. Feels like a missed opportunity.

Barbara S. 8:34 AM  

1) K, in school
2) K, in the lab
3) K, on food packaging
4) K, as an expression of quick agreement
5) K, on the breakfast table
6) K, in a jewelry shop
7) K, with D, a cheesy meal.

Wow, greased lightning. I flew through this one, barely even registered the clues at 1A and in the NW corner because I was filling in answers so fast. The things K stands for, eh? It’s a legit theme but there’s not much to sink your teeth into. (Although @Joaquin had a good observation about none of the theme answers starting with K.) KING could have been a themer except that it does start with K and it’s too short (58A: New Clue: “K, in the casino”). My lame list of K clues above (most of which do start with K) is really all I can think of to contribute to a discussion of this theme.

In my race to the finish line, I had one small problem at 31D. With no acrosses filled in there I read the clue [What might get you in a pinch?] and confidently wrote in “vise”. I immediately realized that 36A [Definitely not well done] had to be RARE and 39A [Lager alternative] had to be ALE so out came “vise” and in went tRAp. I then got all the downs in the area, which left me with [Infographic component] as tHART. Thart? Is this something new I haven’t heard of? No, you dope, it’s CHART. So I corrected the C which left me with CRAp for thing that might get me in a pinch. Really? I didn’t know the BLACK INK/K relationship so it took a few more crosses to finally banish the P and elevate CRAB to its rightful pinchy position. (Ouch.)

@Gary Jugert: I really hope you're going to do something with Sir ELTON STANDPIPE.

Clean-up on aisle yesterday:
(Yup, still missing @Z and still quoting him.)

@burtonkd: Thanks for the nice shout-out. I was very interested to learn that the song affects you similarly, and I liked your suggestions around possible metaphors for the desert journey.

@Joe Dipinto: Skipping lightly over your mention of Neil Young’s “off-key whining,” that’s an interesting snippet about Neil’s mistaken identity in HORSE WITH NO NAME.

@albatross shell: On Nov. 10, you mentioned my having missed Katharine Hepburn from a list people who have won 3 or more acting Oscars. I was off blog for a full week after that, but finally answered you on Nov. 17 by saying:
“Yes, I did omit KH, an egregious oversight. I’ve been doing penance ever since by intoning ‘The calla lilies are in bloom again’ at regular intervals.”
After which @Nancy and I got into a discussion about Hepburn’s delivery of the calla lily line, and I eventually posted this article, a fascinating discussion of the whole Hepburn/calla lily phenomenon.
And, @albatross shell, I do hope you find you’re in good health in every single part, whether it contains an R or not.

[SB: yd – 0. Yay! Three in a row – haven’t done that for over a month. I thought myself very lucky not to have fallen into the pangram trap.]

1) KINDERGARTEN
2) KELVIN
3) KOSHER
4) OKAY
5) SPECIAL K
6) KARAT
7) KRAFT DINNER

alexscott68 8:41 AM  

Having worked in publication design for years, I’m super familiar with the print color model CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black), the basis for almost all color printing for over a century. The reason K stands for black (and not B) is so as not to confuse it with B for blue, which later was used in the RGB (red, green, and blue) color model used in color TVs and monitors.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  
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Sgreennyc 8:56 AM  

Standpipe and sprinkler systems are fire safety installations in most tall buildings. The hoses you might see coiled in stairwells are part of the standpipe system. They are connected to water towers on the roof.

pmdm 8:57 AM  

Wow, this was easier than any other NYT Wednesday puzzle I've solved. Certainly this week the Monday and Wednesday puzzles could have been reversed. I don't mean to denigrate the puzzle, which I liked. I'm just remarking it was an odd day to run it on. Perhaps with all the new constructors the Monday slot has become overpopulated.

I am certainly not as easy to please as Lewis but a lot easier to please than Mike. For what it's worth.

The only road sign I have ever seen with the word "berm" printed on it was posted on the Ohio Turnpike (I-80). I don't consider the meaning to be obscure, but interesting that it doesn't appear on that many road signs.

pabloinnh 8:58 AM  

'K, I guess. I had one of those "run down the bunny slope" experiences with this one, and I left the last themer blank, thinking it would be the revealer, so I didn't read the clue until last. When it turned out to be only another K, rats. Not Special K or K ration, which were the only two I could come up with, and they weren't very good either.

It's one of those days when I'll check out the NYorker and probably the WSJ in search of a little more zing.

I learned something about BLACKINK, so there's that. Also feel smart for getting STANDPIPE off the ST.

An unseasonably mild Wednesday, AS, Also Said of our weather here in NE. Thanks for some fun at least.

USA! USA! Nerve-wracking, but a W, and now it feels like we're playing with house money.

Smith 8:58 AM  

@Rex "if there was a day before Monday" same here, half avg time and under this week's Mon Tues times (all per NYT app which keeps track).

The Ks were easy, I even got the baseball one without breaking a sweat. Only writeover was drainPIPE before STANDPIPE for a hot sec.


Nancy 9:01 AM  

Monday-easy and hugely uninteresting.

Will Nediger and I have a Wednesday-slotted NYT puzzle coming out on December 21. I guarantee you that it will be harder than this one.

relicofthe60s 9:09 AM  

When I finished this and looked at my time I thought maybe something was wrong with the app. Not only was it my fastest Wednesday ever, it was faster than my fastest Tuesday and my fastest Monday. In other words, my fastest ever. Go figure.

As for K standing for BLACK INK, that’s not as obscure as Rex seems to think it is. Anyone familiar with printing knows the term CMYK, which stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and BLACK, the inks in four-color printing.

Pete 9:12 AM  

@Matt 6:37 - Human's ability to recreate colors sadly trails human's ability to see colors. The depictions of the various color spaces you'll show that human vision encompasses far more than any of the color spaces we use in every day or even high-end print / illumination / coating rendering . The CYMK system is among the worst. So not all colors, but all colors we can reproduce.

Gary Jugert 9:14 AM  

There's the Monday we were looking for earlier. Sometimes I think they flip 'em just to watch the commentariat lose our minds.

Turns out K is quite the adventuresome letter. Unlike πŸ¦–, the K for black was not an outlier, but K for anything in baseball was unknown to me.

HIND, SWIZZLE and LUSTY TWERK ... to all you constructor wannabes, now you know how to publish in the NYTXW.

Uniclues:

1 Roddenberry conducts campus sing-along.
2 Comment on rare retail sighting in expensive towns these days.
3 Family zoom.
4 See "twerk."
5 Decorate the perimeter of the yard with showy flowers.
6 Understand why that tank in Red Lobster is beyond irony.
7 The unavoidable thought it could all be over if one errant spark gets loose in the refueling zone.
8 What I frequently failed to do at the dermatologist.
9 Basically they're all free, but getting rid of some is costlier than others.

1 GENE LEADS QUAD
2 "ARTS STORE? EGAD!"
3 CLAN PHONE-IN (~)
4 HIND SWIZZLE
5 EDGE PEONY STYLE
6 GRASP CRAB JOKE
7 NITRO AREA PANG
8 KEPT SKIN
9 DIRT CHEAP STAIN

RooMonster 9:21 AM  

Hey All !
Found the MonPuz! I knew I stashed it somewhere...

Agree with the easiness, and the K on Black Ink. Wha? Give me a second to check out my empty black cartridges...
Nope. All I see is "B" for Black. I have a Canon that only uses one Black cartridge, and one Color ("C") cartridge. No Ks to be found. It is the Eleventh Letter, but that's too long. Just ELEVENTH would've fit.

The other day when I mentioned it might be a Pangram, it was missing an X. Today also looks like one, but is missing the F (!), V, and X.

Strange WedsPuz, which, although it went fast (I was below 7 minutes, but had an errant A for the R in the TWERK/SHARP cross that I had to hunt down), I didn't set a record. My stats say my record is 4:19! Holy cow, that's super-sonic speed! Puz of 6/23/21, which, naturally, I don't remember. I'm sure I was blown away at the time. 😁 But, sometimes an easy puz is a good thing.

No F'S (EGAD)
RooMonster
DarrinV

Gio 9:24 AM  

Happy to see LLASA APSO in the puzzle because I adopted one 3 weeks ago. My poodle died the same day Rex's cat died, in Oct. I've always had poodles so this Llasa Apso is a whole different ball of wax. Why such a hairy face? She is a good girl. I forgot to mention she only has 3 legs. Her front leg was amputated in September.
I didn't quite feel ready for a new dog, still grieving my dog Whatever LOLA wants, LOLA gets. She was a showgirl. We drank champagne and danced all night.
Off to vote for Warnock today! Georgia Democrats are going to save the Senate again, don't fret.

lodsf 9:33 AM  

Pleasant morning diversion although yes, did have to check the calendar to be sure it was Wednesday. After seeing the Z Q J and of course K I went looking for the pangram but alas missing V as well as the (fairly common letter) H.

Unknown 9:34 AM  

Two K-words that don't start with K and are at least a tad interesting: K for awkward (in proofreading; learned this in 8th grade, when we were taught the "5 paragraph essay"); K for contract (universal, in law school).

Canon Chasuble 9:39 AM  

My first entry was an obvious “Tokyo” and everything began to fall apart from there,

Gary Jugert 9:42 AM  

@Barbara S. 8:34 AM
I stared at ELTON STANDPIPE for an embarrassingly long time. I tried flipping them too. Standpipes are for fires, and Elton is certainly burning hot, but in the end in my Vicodin haze I passed on it today. I might have been worn out by HIND SWIZZLE. Maybe someone can help us?

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

STANDPIPEs are also cylindrical water towers that are used to pressurize water distribution systems. They are rather rare these days

Nancy 10:01 AM  

@GHarris -- Haven't seen you on the blog in quite a while and don't know if you still come here. But I read your letter in the Times this morning and immediately knew -- before getting to your name -- that you had written the letter. (Do I recognize writing styles or what?) Excellent letter on such an important subject. I'm going back now to read the NYT piece it's in response to and that I originally missed.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

LOL I didn’t “miss” that none of the themers start w/ “K,” it’s just that … well that’s the most boring “nuance” imaginable. Calling it a nuance seems insulting to actual nuance. But de gustibus etc ~RP

bocamp 10:08 AM  

Thx, Addison; a SWELL construction! :)

Easy+ (Tues. time).

Very fluid, smooth solve.

Counterclockwise route, from the NW, down, around and up, finishing in the NE.

Interesting fact: in the scorebook, a K indicates a swinging STRIKEOUT, whereas a κ“˜ denotes a non-swinging one.

Learned STANDPIPE from Stephen King's 'It'.

Loved the ending of 'Better Call SAUL'.

Got NORI down pat.

Always have to wait for RAIL or RAmp.

New: TMZ; BLACK INK.

Liked this one a lot! :)

@pablo

Beat up by another New Yorker Mon. (4 cell dnf). :(
___
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ™

J.W. 10:17 AM  

Ahh, here's where that Monday puzzle went. Wasn't somebody saying about how the staff was having trouble deciding which days to place puzzles this week? How did they not look at this and say "Monday" within 0.000001 seconds? I filled in every single themer without crosses. Not often I get to say I did that.

That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with NYT (or other papers') crosswords getting easier overall. I would say it's not too much to ask for them to do a better job of fine-tuning the incline in difficulty throughout the week, and a more difficult experience can certainly be intellectually nourishing, but I do think that at a certain point one risks running afoul of elitism and/or gatekeeping. Often, when people say crosswords have become "easier", the way it reads to me is that they're complaining that they have started incorporating clues that do not align with their idea of "acceptable" modes of thought, or of worthwhile segments of popular culture or walks of life. To which I say, if you're not prepared to taste the rainbow and engage with all branches of the thing we call life on equal footing, then either get right or get left.

If those who consider themselves "real" heads want to create and circulate grids that are specifically designed for a more brain-straining experience, there's nothing stopping them. Personally, I will die on the hill that the completed act of constructing any reasonably un-tortuous 15x15 (or 21x21) crossword, from Monday to Saturday and every difficulty in-between, is an absolutely astounding accomplishment. That isn't to say it absolves them of criticism, but I do think there is some jadedness around how cool that is, and that submitters manage to achieve it consistently enough that we can have a new one appear before us every day. I'd rather continue to see new crosswords get published for decades to come at the expense of getting easier than risk having something interesting and complex die off, akin to the trajectory of something like contract bridge.

In my experience, the average person still finds crosswords of any stripe inscrutable and daunting. In my immediate circles, I am looked at with some mixture of confusion and awe that I am capable of completing any crossword at all. No matter how much I tell people "it's not about being smart, it's about being able to identify what the puzzle expects from you" or telling them about how in time you begin to recognize certain cues, like how you begin to develop a certain sense for which sense of a word a punny clue is asking for or when a rebus is forthcoming, I can convince almost no one that they are in fact eminently doable and extremely fun. Whatever feelings one might have about the degradation of the NYTXW's difficulty, I personally suspect its reputation among the population at large as a pursuit for galaxy-brain puzzle freaks only is not in danger of substantially diminishing any time soon.

andrew 10:17 AM  

This reminds me of Kramer (K!) telling George’s girlfriend, “you’re pretty enough, you just need a nose job.”

Puzzle was solid enough, just needed more challenging clues.

Like just having K as the clue for the 4 Ks, and let the solver suss them out from the downs. Circle the K square if you want to make it a bit easier, but don’t spell everything out on a Wednesday. And even the fill - “Sir John” would have been better than Tiny Dancer singer clue.

(as noted above, Bob Alou gets no respect. Unlike Baba Louie or the Law Firm of Bob Loblaw on Arrested Development. Sheesh, I watch too much Tv!)

Joseph Michael 10:20 AM  

Not the most exciting theme in the world, but it does raise the question of how these terms came to be represented by the letter K, especially THOUSAND and POTASSIUM which don’t even have a K in them. If you care to find out, you could Google “kilo” and “kalium.” Or, you could just finish your Special K and go to Kmart.

Whatsername 10:26 AM  
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Gary Jugert 10:27 AM  

The 12¢ APOPLEXY: I quit (but not really) due to the grievous smiting of ...

πŸ¦– Axiom #2: Not Today! For a ___ (day of the week), it should be ___ (harder/easier).

jberg 10:29 AM  

I learned CMYK from another puzzle recently, cluing a different color -- but the clue reads "K, on a printer cartridge," and my Epson black cartridge reads "BK." Replace "on" with "regarding" and you're Ok.

But still.... all right, none of them start with K, but a theme this simple really, REALLY needs a revealer. Not that I can think of one -- "Three letters later than a club for farm youth?" Nah.

My thought was that a CRAB might get you in a pinch... oh wait, that's actually what it says. I somehow read it the other way around, "you might get." As long as it doesn't grab me by the tibia.

@Nancy, Dec. 21 is so far away! I'll try to survive the interim.

egsforbreakfast 10:30 AM  

I thought this was a kool theme, but it would have been slightly tighter if there were no Ks outside of the themers (and the unavoidable themer crosses). The one that does occur in 58A KING could have been easily changed to S to make JOSE and SING.

An uninteresting fact is that no single letter appears in all 4 of the themers. Who the F (sorry @Roo) would even notice such garbage? Me.

The (50A) Locale of the 1964 and 2020 Summer Olympics seemed like it should have been Tokyo. If you don’t want to narrow it down, you could use EARTH …oh wait, that was already taken.

Jumpin’ right back into the gutter after swearing I’d come clean, I can’t stop myself from pointing out that POTASSIUM has a big fat ASS in its midsection.

This was so easy, even on my phone which produces about a 30% typo rate, that I think it’s a Wednesday PR. But I still liked a lot of the fill and the Kool theme inspiration. Thanks, Addison Snell.



Newboy 10:45 AM  

Yep, Rex is right. Puz was a nonstop flash, but following the links both here and on xwordinfo were moments of joy. Any puz that provides multiple rabbit hole options is as @Lewis says worth its weight in K ink, so thanks Addison for your efforts to amuse. I’m ohKay with a light weight Wednesday.

If you still crave a cruciverbalist fix, there are many options available at https://dailycrosswordlinks.com. Sorry the html isn’t working, so it’s cut & paste time. The links do allow some daily forays from mundane to bizarre.

Jeremy Moody 10:47 AM  

K for BLACKINK is pretty standard, so I don't agree with your criticism. I got it instantly, along with POTASSIUM. Had to think for a second on salary=THOUSAND, and needed crosses for STRIKEOUT (I don't know baseball).

Agreed though that this was absurdly easy for a Wednesday.

Tom T 10:49 AM  

Back to back days with personal best times.

I did like the SE with TWANGY, SWIZZLE, ZIPIT.

Also noticed that STRIKEOUT, PHONE IN, and LOSE IT are crossed by a Boggle-style rendition of INEPT

Whatsername 10:57 AM  

EGAD! Truly, from the time I started this puzzle to the time I finished it, I was thinking it was Tuesday. Maybe the abundance of submissions from all the new constructors has the editorial staff about to LOSE IT, but seems like recently when comparing the level of difficulty vis-a-vis the day of the week, things have been a little murky. Still, while it’s RARE to see a puzzle this easy on a Wednesday, it was a fun theme and an enjoyable solve.

I admired Katarina VITT and thought she was one of the more glamorous skaters of her time. She has since formed her own eponymous foundation which supports children and teenagers with physical disabilities.

@Nancy (9:01) Marking my calendar and looking forward to December 21.

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

best post by far

Not rare for some of us 11:33 AM  

@Anonymous 10:00am: Google tells me there are 17,000 water towers in New York City.

Joe Dipinto 11:36 AM  

It's fun to play with the C.M.Y.K.
It's fun to play with the C.M.Y.K.
You can make any hue you could possibly need!
Just be careful it doesn't bleed

jae 11:43 AM  

Yep, Monday easy. Add me to those who learned something about BLACK INK. Liked it more than @Rex did.

jcal 11:45 AM  

Much easier than Monday and certainly easier than Tuesday. Simply odd.

misterarthur 12:20 PM  

Never heard of cymk, eh?

Andrew Goodridge 12:27 PM  

I don't want to be "that guy," but the black is abbreviated K in CMYK because it stands for "Key," not to avoid confusion with the B in Blue. In old printing presses, the black plate was the "key plate" that was used to align all three colors, so the inks were always identified as CMYK for this reason.

bigsteve46 12:30 PM  

Gee .. did anyone else mention that this was kind of easy? Am I the first? It's so nice to be original!

Masked and Anonymous 12:37 PM  

Nice Special-K breakfast. Gotta agree with most, that it didn't put up much of a fight for a WedPuz.
Two of the four and a half themers did contain K's, but only the Little King started with one, like a full-blown KILOMETER themer woulda.

staff weeject pick, of only 6 options: TMZ. One of the few journeys into mystery that this puz offered to m&e.
Other no-knows were: BLACKINK = K. SHIN = Tiber's location*. STANDPIPE [kinda inferable].

some faves: DIRTCHEAP. ELSINORE. PHONEIN. SWIZZLE. QUEENS & KING. TWANGY. URDU.

Constructioneer is clearly into skateboardin. And ink cartridge deets.

This puz was definitely *not* tryin hard to get an F for feisty ratin. Only one, lonely ?-marker clue that I can spot: {What might get you in a pinch?} = CRAB. Lost hardly any knanoseconds, on that puppy.
Suggestions for additional ?-markers in this here rodeo:

* {Rear, before end?} = 4-letter answer, at 45-A.
* {Amiss via an omission?} = 4-letter answer, at 41-D.
* {A penny or two for your "priceless" thoughts, perhaps?} = 6-letter answer, at 43-D.
* {Apt sale sign phrase at the lawn & garden store?} = 9-letter answer, at 8-D.
* {Road-doctor shut off by a couple of U turns, briefly??} = 4-letter answer, at 16-A.
QED.

Thanx for the krazy-eazy krossword, Mr. Snell dude. Not yer fault, it ran so late in the week -- M&A blames STANDPIPE & ELSINORE. And lack of feisty clues, of course.

Masked & Anonym007Us

* just kiddin.

**gruntz**

GreenCarol 12:42 PM  

Folks - can we not ever just enjoy racing through a puzzle without griping?
I also got hung up on Tokyo / Japan, but pretty quickly went around.

Sam Ross 12:46 PM  

We expect and hope for more challenging puzzles than the NYT has been providing. That’s all.

Masked and Anonymous 12:50 PM  

p.s.

Oh, and -- Might also blame BLACKINK, for this puz shown up on a WedPuzDay. Since few solvers knew what was goin on, with that.

M&Also

JonP 12:54 PM  

I just don't get it. This week, Monday seemed harder than usual, Tuesday seemed easier than usual and then this seemed easier than both of them?

CDilly52 1:01 PM  

Good chuckle @Joker 6:18AM. Every time I see the ALOU brothers mentioned in a puzzle, I think of my husband, a deadpan one liner guy who - years ago - asked me if the baseball Alous’ musician-brother was ever in the crossword. I fell face first into it and said I didn’t know they had another brother and asked his name. He said Bob. I think of him and “the other brother” every tome there is an ALOU in the puzzle. Thanks for letting everyone in on it!

CDilly52 1:13 PM  

I had a stutter earlier than @Rex only because I know nothing about skateboards other than the first ones showed up when I was maybe in junior high and were hand made of roller skate parts and cheap wood. I remember being amazed at how quickly sports equipment manufacturers grabbed on and we saw them in stores. I put PADS down and quickly erased it when the familiar ELSINORE showed up. Insimply kept on zooming and learned that an OLLIE is a skateboard move. So although this one didn’t check the challenging box at least I learned something. Time (albeit short) well spent. I did a little YouTube to see how a RAIL might be a prop and go the aha moment when I saw that the “prop” was something upon which the board rests rather than the prop employed on stage.

Two baseball clues - always excellent, I like the onomatopoetic word SWIZZLE a lot and was such a Katarina WITT fan. All nice to see. Too easy? Absolutely. But I still enjoyed it.

sixtyni yogini 1:18 PM  

Headline: NYT Apologiizes for Its Difficult (in some estimations) Monday Puzzle by Printing 2 PRE-Monday 🧩s on Tuesday and Wednesday!
Have to agree with πŸ¦–s crit.

But I liked it anyway.

Good clue for CRAB, and Z’s are always fun. ZIPIT, SWIZZLE πŸ‘πŸ½
And how can Xworders not love a touch of Shakespeare tossed in for a classy starter?

πŸ€¨πŸ¦–πŸ¦–πŸ¦–πŸ¦–πŸ€¨

Anonymous 3:45 PM  

CMYK ink has been used for over a century of printing, actually. Printing presses use the technique too.

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

Well, I usually know a lot less than Rex, so I'm happy to lord my CMYK knowledge over him for once. I think the K abbreviations are nice, but only because none start with K. I also don't mind an easy puzzle every now and then, but I hope next week's is a little trickier to make up for it.

WordSleuth 4:46 PM  

Another sadly overlooked member of the family is cousin Skip Tom Alou. And he's the liveliest of the bunch.

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

For BETTER CALL SAUL fans, there was a mini theme with 22D and 34D. Marco was working for a STANDPIPE company the week he died. He explained standpipes to Saul in a bar.

egsforbreakfast 6:26 PM  

Let’s don’t forget the formerly fun, now odious, Boog Alou

Anonymous 8:09 PM  

And remember the uncle who's a chef, specializing in Caribbean cuisine, Cal Alou.

Anonymous 8:31 PM  

If you live in a prewar building or mahattan, you know what a sandpiper is. They're outside every building and labeled!

LateSolver 8:34 PM  

I was both happy to set my Weds PR today and disappointed that it came on such an easy puzzle. But sometimes I like an easy as a breather.

Anonymous 10:56 PM  

Theme was 4K as in high definition. It was so shitty that everyone can see it clearly.

Anonymous 11:14 PM  

roseanne roseannadanna

Joel R. 12:09 AM  

From "People also ask":

What cartridge is K?
black cartridge
The K cartridge is referring to the black cartridge. Try these steps to see if they will help resolve this issue. clean the contacts on the black cartridge and the contacts inside the printer with a cue tip. Leave the black cartridge out and power cycle the printer. Mar 28, 2016

Anonymous 12:14 AM  

In one of those weird coincidences, I was at my sister’s house playing Mastermind with her kids on Thanksgiving. The instructions abbreviate the black peg as “K,” which I thought was the oddest thing ever. And then I came across this puzzle…

Alex jones 2:12 AM  

Also keep in mind Cal Alou, your uncle and a chef who specializes in Caribbean food.

thefogman 10:32 AM  

I finished this puzzle and thought it was an okay themless. Then I came here to find it was themed. I liked it better before I came here…

spacecraft 11:21 AM  

Well, B can't stand for both blue and black, so they use K for the latter. No mistaking that.

Agreed that today SEEMS more like a Monday, or even "pre-Monday," per OFF. A neat little place-holder holding the wrong place. Both M & T were tougher. Nothing wrong with it, so let's give some credit for STANDPIPE and BUZZSAW--and BTW using all those Z's without undue strain--and award a birdie.

Likewise on the Wordle course: another near eagle. YGBBB GGBGG GGGGG.

Diana, LIW 2:24 PM  

'Twas easy, for me. But not THAT easy. Kept trying to figure out who K was - or what. Then - K, I see it. Kinda blah. Not even a pangram. onward

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 3:27 PM  

@CDilly52 1:13pm :
I don't know if 52 in your name stands for your year of birth, but I had a skateboard when I was a kid (born in '51). So I looked up when they were first available commercially, and it was in 1959. It was a nice one, that I had. I don't recall what year, nor whether I got it as a present or bought it with paper route money. The board was very rigid, and the wheels pointed straight ahead, so all maneuvering was strictly in one's lean. You couldn't do 10% of the tricks that they do nowadays.

Burma Shave 5:04 PM  

KEPT IN STORE

If one LEADS the league IN STRIKEOUTs,
WOE is he, a THOUSAND swings,
BUZZSAW pitchers RAREly SEE doubts,
they're SHARP enough to EDGE the 'KING'.

--- OLLIE ALOU

rondo 5:21 PM  

Back in the day, Honda made a dirt bike called the ELSINORE; most powerful motorcycle I ever rode. This puz was oh K.
Disappointing wordle bogey.

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