Obsolete repro machine / WED 5-17-17 / Dory propeller / Hello Dolly singer informally / Ruling family of old Florence

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Constructor: Paul Hunsberger

Relative difficulty: Challenging


THEME: word loop —two-word phrases where second word is also the first word of a two-word phrase that ends with the first word of the subsequent theme answer. (Yes, it was about as pleasant to solve as it was to read that description); only the broken phrases (that start in one themer and end in the next) are clued, and they're clued, well, essentially, like this:

Theme answers:
  • BACK / COURT (Area that an N.B.A. team has eight ... / ... seconds to clear)
  • CASE / CLOSED (Successful detective's ... / ... declaration)
  • CIRCUIT / BOARD (Critical computer ... / ... component)
  • GAME / OVER (Dreaded words in a video ... / ... arcade)
  • SEEING / DOUBLE (Knocked ... / ... for a loop, say)
Word of the Day: CFL (23D: Grid org. with a 110-yard field) —
The Canadian Football League (CFL; French: Ligue canadienne de football, LCF) is a professional sports league in Canada. The CFL is the highest level of competition in Canadian football. Its nine teams, which are located in nine separate cities, are divided into two divisions: the East Division, with four teams, and the West Division with five teams. As of 2016, the league features a 20-week regular season, which traditionally runs from late June to early November; each team plays 18 games with at least two bye weeks. Following the regular season, six teams compete in the league's three-week divisional playoffs, which culminate in the late-November Grey Cup championship, one of the country's largest annual sports and television event. (wikipedia)
• • •

God, things are just getting gruesome. Aside from fill that includes dumb non-words like ECO-TAX and MIXALOT w/o the "Sir" and a SLEW of crosswordese (from OSLO to OTERI to SSN to ESSENE and back again) this theme ... sigh. It's a simple word loop: AB, BC, CD, etc. ad infinitum (well, not infinitum, but theoretically so ...). The only "interesting" part is the cluing, where instead of cluing the answers in the grid, you clue the "between" answers ... which sounds OK, but in practice is a bleeping mess, because ... well, you can see the theme clues yourself —all ellipses and slashes and you're all "wait, where does this start and end again?" etc. Oh, and there are somehow multiple SADIES there, even though no one can name more than one SADIE (Hawkins doesn't count).

[SATCHMO]

This took me almost as long as yesterday's, because the gimmick was mostly lost on me. I just plowed ahead and got themers mostly from crosses (somewhat from inferences based on the cluing words). I did this weird / horrible thing in the middle where I had CIRCUIT and ended up writing in CLAIMS CIRCUIT (something in my brain went from "circuit court" to "(small?) claims court"). I don't really know what EHOW (ugh) is. I had ETSY. Hardest part was the whole area around the BOARD of BOARD GAME. Had SET and KIT before DRUMPAD. WATERY never ever occurred to me for 58A: Like light beers. Had IN INK before IN PEN (never be impressed by someone who brags about solving this way; it's nonsense). There is so little Joy in the NYT crosswords of late. Just tired / old / bad concepts, with olde fille, and all of it only semi-competently executed. Most frequently published constructors used to be legends. Now ... once in a while there's a legend, and there are a few loyalists who are good at their craft. But mediocre-to-bad constructors are seeing more and more of their work in print because Good submissions are Obviously down. I know you all can see this. I know I'm more vocally annoyed than your average solver, but It's A Problem. Oh my god I just noticed plural ECRUS OK I have to go.


P.S. in much nicer news, my wife was elected to the Binghamton City School Board yesterday. I am very proud of her. When total voter numbers are this small, all that door-knocking ... it matters. I'm now going to go  throw trash out the window of my car in the neighborhoods where my wife *didn't* get the most votes (elections have consequences), so look out ... Sunrise Terrace (wherever that is)!


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

170 comments:

Brian 12:11 AM  

Didn't bother with figuring out the theme until after I completed. Faster than my average so not challenging. Strange puzzle but enjoyable enough.

jae 12:19 AM  

Medium for me. @Rex Etsy was my only erasure and no WOEs. Must be odd puzzle week. I also didn't fully grok the theme until after I finished.

Like yesterday, if you don't like the theme, it is not a bad themeless. Although, I agree with @Rex that the ellipses and slashes are not particularly pleasant.

Anonymous 12:25 AM  

So speed solving is impressive, but solving in ink is stupid? Any other crossword rules we should be aware of?

socdem 12:26 AM  
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socdem 12:29 AM  

I gave up on the theme after the first couple of them, when I couldn't see what the theme was but the crosses and fill were easy enough to accomodate. Solved the whole thing with no idea what the theme was, which reflects pretty poorly on the theme itself and its function in the puzzle.

Moly Shu 12:36 AM  

I like big butts and I cannot lie.

Matt from sacto 1:00 AM  

WTF is going on? I slogged through the last 2 days out of a sense of duty. This is my 10 minutes a day to relax. I might have to start looking at the WSJ puzzle , as OFL suggests. How depressing

Mike in Mountain View 1:19 AM  

Solved the puzzle without figuring out the theme. Then figured out the theme and thought it was clever, although perhaps it was too clever, considering that I am not alone in having not figured it out during the solve.

This is either:
A) A shortcoming in the theme,
B) A shortcoming in the solver,
C) Not a shortcoming, because there was still an aha moment, with an appreciation for the way the loopy clues reflect the word loop, plus the quasi-revealer that was the first theme answer, "DOUBLE BACK (to understand what the heck is going on)."

I'm going with "C)" here. Liked it more than Rex did.

Like Rex, I had INink before INPEN. I used to solve INink, but now I solve INlcd, or whatever is creating the letters on my screen. What else would you expect from a solver in the hometown of the Google?

chefwen 2:17 AM  

I guess there is a shortcoming on this solver. Got all my squares filled in correctly, read the comments and still don't understand what rhe (you know the word) is going on. After all the wine consumed (dinner party) I have no ambition left to try to figure it out. Goodnight my friends.

Larry Gilstrap 2:17 AM  

You know me. As a rule, I'm pretty positive in my reaction to the puzzle. This Wednesday effort was "fine," an evaluative term my wife uses to describe a wine, or a meal, or a movie. or the way I'm driving, or any thing else that she is damning with faint praise. Hi SUE. That theme, for crying out loud! Help me here! What am I missing? Poor OFL had to explain this in English and it might as well had been in Russian. Wow, look at the time.

Let's have fun. EHOW is digital for what a donkey brays. EMO is the domain name for Missouri. ELHI is a digital soft drink? EIN is...your turn.

My first years of teaching I actually printed out MIMEOs. The kids buried their faces in the fresh ones savoring whatever chemical they craved. Good times! Thank God for Xerox.

When people discover that I do the puzzle, I invariably hear something like: "My Grandmother does the New York Times Puzzle everyday in ink." That is fun? I like pencil and enjoy the freedom of allowing myself to make a mistake. Aha moments involve erasing. Now, I will do a Monday or Tuesday IN PEN, if I must, or do the puzzle on line, grudgingly, what a slog! Confidence is a slippery slope.

Jared 2:23 AM  

Actually really liked this puzzle. Wasn't a slog at all for me.

Robin 2:31 AM  

Never did figure out the theme. Even now, I'm not clear on it.

Nevertheless, finished in average time. Like one second off my average according the Times website stats thingy. So personally, I don't see calling ti "challenging".

No complaints about seeing OSLO. Been a while I guess. But knew that appearance of OTERI was going to get a mention from Rex.

If you're going to complain about crosswords, you have to say something abut ECRUS.

TokyoRacer 2:39 AM  

I'm with Robin. I still don't get it. Possibly the worst "theme" ever.
And if I see SSN and EWE once more I'm going to stab the puzzle in its heart with my pen.

andrea carla michaels 2:48 AM  

Hmm, how shall IPUT this? I had: hmm how shall "I say" this so I couldn't figure out how SY??? Was going to become RINGO?
So, right off the bat, I thought something REALLY crazy was up!

Didn't get theme till after the fact and not at all from the clues...
And so on same page with Rex ... Etsy, DRUMkit, ?ATERY (even considered eATERY!)
Had to run the alphabet all the way thru
(Well, I got it before XYZ!)

I loved MIXALOT in the grid! And the ear worm ... My first entry! ESP loved it crossed with EXOTIC dancer! Very visual cross.

Congrats, Penelope! That's truly impressive.

Oh, and TOMMYROT is super fun!

Robin 3:01 AM  

BTW: Congratulations to Penelope. One thing a lot of people have to learn is that change don't happen unless _they_ run for office, so I'm always happy to hear that someone actually did so.

Also, I'd like to mention that the best governor Idaho has had in the last 75 years originally got into politics because he ran for the local school board.

So you never know.

Charles Flaster 3:33 AM  

Like others , easy to finish and clueless about theme. After glancing at the clues I wondered why this was not a Thursday!
CROSSWORDease-- OTERI and METRO.
Writeovers--I PUT for I say, DRUM PAD for DRUM set, and PAWNEE for soonEr.
Started to solve NYT in 1960 with urging of my father and ninth grade English teacher , Florence Sayer. She was a pile driving, cantankerous woman who would only accept your best work. She used ink.
I used pencil until 1975, pen until 1995, back to pencil but now back to pen. No explanation.
I did like the cluing in the NW with EPISODIC my favorite.
Thanks PH

Mark 3:43 AM  

I liked the puzzle a lot. The theme was difficult to figure out, especially on a cell phone screen, but it was perfectly reasonable, and the puzzle was a good level of difficulty for a Wednesday

Loren Muse Smith 4:28 AM  

Man, y’all are a tough crowd. Once in a while I love filling in that last letter and not seeing what’s going on. Love almost giving up… and then bam I see the trick. This delayed aha moment is delicious.

@Mike in Mountain View beat me to pointing out the best part and hint: DOUBLE BACK. Cool.

My son owned a DRUM PAD. No problem there. My only erasure was “runs” before OUTS. Made sense to me. I don’t speak baseball.

I liked the elephant polo-playing THAIS crossing EXOTIC. That there is about the epitome of EXOTIC. Those mallets must be really long. Think an IMPish elephant ever grabs the ball with his trunk just to be a wise guy?

The clue for EPISODIC could have been “like the news these days.”

I enjoyed this. A fun little diversion – in pencil – for a few minutes. Had pleasant thoughts… then I come here and feel like I’ve heard someone shout Get off my lawn! I’m used to it.

Okie dokie. I’ll go stand over with @Mike, @Larry, @Jared, @Mark, and the others who didn’t have a problem with this.

Theodore Stamos 5:00 AM  

Does anyone know if there is a way to do the daily wsj puzzle on an iPhone? I'm a subscriber to the newspaper, but I don't think they've made their puzzle available this way yet.

BarbieBarbie 5:33 AM  

I too loved the delayed AHA. In fact I like that much better than an obvious one. Enjoyed this puzzle. Easy-medium. It's exam season for professors everywhere, so anything extra probably feels Challenging to Rex roght about now.
I hate the feel and smeariness of pencil-lead on shiny paper, and really hate the feel of pencil on newsprint, so when solving anything on paper, I use a pen. If I have to make a correction, it's an ugly mess, but I can read it long enough to finish the puzzle. It's a preference, not a boast. Rex wasn't saying the preference was stupid- only the boast.

Hey Rex, congrats to your wife! Looks like she had pretty even support everywhere, with some spikes. Way to knock!

Passing Shot 5:41 AM  

Half my usual time and still had/have no effing idea what the theme was. Sucky fill. Had the same mistakes/writeovers as Rex and others. Easy and ugly.

evil doug 6:18 AM  
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evil doug 6:24 AM  

Yep, pen, no brag, just fact. Old pencils dull and require sharpening. The thin lead on mechanical pencils tends to snap. Neither is comfortable on newsprint. Tapping on phones or computers? Please. So it's ink, written small for there will be errors. My latest find: the fine point BIC Atlantis Exact. Smoooooth, and most satisfying.

Forsythia 6:32 AM  

Super-challenging for me. No idea of the theme answers even after trying to figure out with Rex's explanation. The clues are what make no sense to me. Lots of the same probs others/Rex had, which coming here made me feel much better about my slog and write-overs.

My hashbrowns are requested when my daughters come back to visit but are made using a mandolin. I would think a RICER would make mush.

Glimmerglass 6:38 AM  

Like several others, I didn't figure out the trick until post-solve, but like LMS I don't mind that. I understand all the split answers. Some drek fill, but also some good things.

Dr. Rob 6:53 AM  

I'm a fairly recent NYT crossword solver and like to read Rex and these comments to learn the subtleties of puzzle construction. Appreciate everyone sharing their thought processes. Strange that I picked up the theme right away when I'm often clueless. I don't use a ricer to make hash browns, though.

ultramet 7:01 AM  

Didn't even pay attention to the gimmick. Found this to be much easier than usual for a Wed. Agree that the fill could have been better but certainly a decent effort.

Hungry Mother 7:15 AM  

Also ignored the theme and solved in my usual time for a Wednesday.

Two Ponies 7:26 AM  

Soccer superstar who? If it's not Pele, Hamm, or Beckham I'm out of ammo.

Ricers are for already-cooked potatoes.

Not finding the theme pissed me off.

kitshef 7:30 AM  

After seeing the first couple of "..." clues, I figured it was some kind of cross-referencing thing but was disinclined to to the work, so solved the themers using the downs and pattern recognition.

Once I was done, went back and looked at the themers and was very impressed. If you don't get a little thrill out of all those double-used words, why are you even doing crosswords?

Quite a bit of gamey fill - OTERI, my personal ire trigger ELHI, EMO, OKS. And yes, there are several plurals of convenience, but I think OKS/OUTS is the only two-way.

Overall, another fun solve.

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Anonymous 7:38 AM  

Didn't waste time on the theme. Puzzle was easily solvable without it. And I still don't get the theme.

Congratulations to the newest member of the Binghamton City School Board. But why so low voter turnout?

Victor 7:39 AM  
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Victor 7:40 AM  
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Lewis 7:42 AM  

Five reasons I love doing crosswords:
1. Slapping GILA and MESSI down immediately, two words I have no idea how I know.
2. The answer DRUM PAD swooping me back to seventh grade, remembering hitting drum pads with drumsticks and the satisfying sounds that it made.
3. The big “aha!” that came when the clue for OUTS clicked.
4. The smile that came with hearing the name Sir MIXALOT.
5. Trying to crack the theme after filling in the puzzle, feeling darn good about seeing how the second word of the theme answers went with the first word of the ensuing theme answer, and feeling darn humbled when I didn’t figure out that the same thing was happening with the clues. It’s that darn humbled feeling that keeps my head regulation size and keeps me hungry for more.

Rita Flynn 7:43 AM  

Yeah, I didn't get the theme either and just plowed ahead. Appreciated the little bit of CANCON (METRO and CFL). But can we pass a law to ban ELHI in future crosswords? Has anyone ever used it in a sentence, seriously? Finished faster than Tuesday.

kitshef 7:44 AM  

When I solve on paper, it is in pen, and it is nothing to do with confidence (or arrogance). I can't stand the scratchy sound of pencil on newsprint. Worse than fingernails on a blackboard.

EHOW has bailed me out of more sticky situations than I care to remember.

For 50th birthday party, needed to pick up the keg the night before. How do you keep a keg cold overnight without needing to constantly replenish the ice? Consult EHOW: answer - wrap keg and ice in your zero degree rated sleeping bag. Worked like a charm.

Victor 7:45 AM  

I read Rex and all the comments to now and I still don't get the theme. Ordinary Wednesday difficulty as themeless. I love solving on paper with pencil--I luxuriate in filling in an entry and going back and reviewing the cluing, and I don't care about the time. I enjoy the cedar smell of my Ticonderoga when sharpening, and the eraser lasts through the whole pencil use (unless I try a Friday or Saturday when I have too many erasures). My goal in doing crosswords is pleasure not speed or efficiency. Retirement is great!

Hal Bent 7:46 AM  

Wow you must be really important to be that busy. We're all very impressed.

The One True Tami 7:47 AM  

Good morning. I also completely missed the theme. I erased Ringo, Etsy, Drumkit... rough day for me. Also, Cheri Oteri is not nearly as famous as the puzzles imply. Congratulations to your wife, and thank you for the blog. I've been reading for quite a while, now, and it suddenly occurred to me that I might be able to leave a comment.

chefbea 7:51 AM  

Too tough for me. Didn't understand the theme even after Rex explained it!!! Not even worth reading all 40 posts.

wgh 8:01 AM  

I thought it was a clever theme and well-executed.

Tim Pierce 8:15 AM  

Congratulations to Penelope from one newly-elected town officeholder to another -- my write-in campaign for Town Constable last week was a success. BTW, Rex, "Sunrise Terrace" appears not to be a neighborhood but the community center that served as a polling place (see https://www.facebook.com/events/1939037139664353/). You're going to have to keep up on these things if you're going to be a political spouse!

The puzzle: liked it but grokking the theme came slowly. Had a slow start with "LATS" for PECS and "ISAY" for IPUT at 1A and 14A but got out of that quickly. Took me longer to figure out that "obscure repro machine" was not DITTO but MIMEO. And there's a CFL in addition to the AFL, NFL and XFL? Okay, whatever.

Aketi 8:18 AM  

@Rex
First congrats to your spouse

Second you missed a few. I followed the instructions MIX A LOT and found:
BACK / BOARD
CIRCUIT / COURT
OVER / BOARD
DOUBLE / OVER
CLOSED / BACK sandals (bit of a stretch)

Expanding OUTSide the CIRCUIT of DOUBLE BACK theme words to mongreloze the MIX with DOUBLE word entries:
PEN / CASE (green paint?)
DRUM / CASE (green paint?)
OVER / TAX
TAX / COURT
BACK / LOT
OVER / MIX (what happens when you aren't paying attention to the MIXer when whipping cream and it turns to butter)
MIXing BOARD (bit of a stretch)

Negativity is HABIT forming. MIX it up A bit and maybe once a month channel your INNER CHILD (aka@LMS). Any more than that and you'd no longer be OFL.

Chris T. 8:19 AM  

You're not totally off with "runs", as sacrifices often do result in them. They *always* result in outs, though.

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

I came here only to have you explain the theme (and HOW did you do that?) and to say how awful this theme was. I didn't even try to figure it out: the puzzle was really easy and the theme wasn't needed to complete it. Now I have vented and I will have a good Hump Day.

Brian Grover 8:23 AM  

Also had ISAY, DRUMKIT (then set!), and ETSY. Honestly it's terrible that the answer was ehow instead of etsy. But whatever.

Complaining about the theme because you couldn't figure it out is Trump-esque. I hope the puzzle constructor is reading this and laughing at the whiners.

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

Enjoyed the theme. I enjoyed OTERI so much during her SNL tenure that I enjoy seeing her name in crosswords. TOMMYROT is well above par.

Mr. B 8:25 AM  

Horsefeathers!
Oh well...I liked it.

IPUT Etsy before EHOW (hello, pleased to meet you) which messed me up in that area for awhile...but the rest of the puzzle was relatively easy otherwise...for a wednesday. Did not understand what was going on until after the puzzle was filled in...but soon the lightbulb finally turned on. Ahhhh...ha.

Happy Hump Day!
Thanks Mr. Hunsberger





Z 8:27 AM  
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DBlock 8:30 AM  

Two days in a row full solves with no awareness of what was going on
That it didn't matter is starting to annoy me just a tad.

Z 8:32 AM  

I got the "theme" immediately, but then I love Dhalgren. I'm not sure that circular compound words is a theme, per se, but I was still enjoying this well enough until I got to TYRO/TOMMY ROT. The first I've never seen in the wild, the second just seems musty to me.

@Moly Shu - I saw some 25 year celebrations in the news. Yikes.

@ACME - I liked "flying."

@LMS - I'm in the corner with you today.

@Lewis - The GILA River is a LFC for me. MESSI is MESSI.

Regarding IN PEN - I solve that way for pretty much the same reasons @Evil Doug does. Sure, mistakes will happen (rUnS -> OUTS) but pencil just doesn't contrast enough with the page. I guess I could use pencil when I print a puzzle out, but now pen is my habit. I confess, though, that I will mention that I solve IN PEN to non-solvers knowing they will be impressed. Rex is right, they shouldn't be, but they are.

I ran across this podcast and was reminded of the tamale dust-up we had a while back. It's 30 minutes and the ad segues need some improving, but I think many here will enjoy it.


*I don't normally worry about my typos, but misspelling a book title had to be fixed.

Nate 8:35 AM  

When I had E _ _ _ for the DIYers website clue, I put in ETSY without thinking and didn't look back. Even when things weren't adding up, I couldn't conceive of how ETSY was the wrong answer. I mean, it's not like EHOW is wrong (it's certainly a website for DIYers), it's just that ETSY is so similar that maybe the clue should be rewritten to make it a little clearer.

I'm going to echo every other sentiment on ELHI. I feel like we haven't seen it in a while, so that's nice. But still, there is no word that is more crossword-ese than ELHI. None. I would have to guess that 99% of newer solvers put ELEM there without giving it too much thought. ELHI is dumb and arcane. Just don't.

Now, with all that out of the way, the positives... I actually liked the theme! At least it made me think a little? WATERY was excellently clued. ARAGON and PAWNEE were nice, though there was a missed opportunity for some more current-ish clueing with the PAWNEE answer. I imagine most young-ish (I use that term relatively) solvers think of Parks and Recreation when they hear PAWNEE.

ArtO 8:39 AM  

Theme too clever by half. But, could complete without understanding it. EHOW????

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 8:43 AM  

This is kind of not fun any more. Second puzzle in a row I've solved correctly without the least idea of what the theme is even after finishing. I still don't understand this theme and I don't even care any more.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

OTERI is the new ACNE. I suppose DOUBLEBACK should have clued me but I didn't expect clues and answers to be run-on. Is that good? I'm annoyed that I bothered to figure it out after finishing. Not pleasurable.

Roo Monster 8:46 AM  

Hey All !
Tres bizarre puz today. Didn't even try to comprehend theme, just managed to get themers from crosses and word recognition. Had what seemed like a ton of bad fill and POCs.

Just got another rejection in my e-mail this morning, it was a themeless. Now, I'm no puz expert, and (apparently) don't know what makes one puz better (publish-able) than another, but I think at least a few of mine were better than this. One man's opinion, and some such, blah blah blah. (Damn, told myself I'd stop complaining on this blog about that...) (All that crowing by me, if I ever do get one in, it'd better be good!)

Anyway, had Rex's Etsy-EHOW writeover, also GETat-GETTO. Overall, not a pleasurable puz.

TOMMYROT, I HEAR YOU
RooMonster
DarrinV

Flutie 8:51 AM  

End zones count. CFL field is 150 yards.

Aketi 8:53 AM  

SADIE actually made a resurgence in popularity starting in 1985 climbing into the top 100 in the last four years, peaking in 2014 as number 46. The first SADIE that came to mind is the daughter of a prominent NY Times reporter. My son had a crush on her older daughter in kindergarten. She was the smartest kid in his kindergarten class.

Hal Bent 8:55 AM  

Then you should take your fucking ball and go home.

Cleared2Land 8:57 AM  

At first I accustomed be idle with the theme answers, but after completing the puzzle I found it fascinating, sensible and splendid.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

@Z,
Pet troll? You creep. get over yourself, you choad. You're a gutless wonder. I like and respect @Evil Doug.

L 8:59 AM  

I'll take OTERI any day over ACNE.

QuasiMojo 8:59 AM  

Yup, I could only think of one Sadie. Sadie Thompson. From RAIN. (Gloria Swanson or Joan Crawford's). But apparently there's an ex Mrs. Jude Law named Sadie Frost.

ECRUS is inECRUSable.

I kept trying to squeeze The Divine Miss M into that Hello Dolly slot. Or at least Carol Channing. Or Pearl Bailey. I forgot that Louis Armstrong was in the movie version.

I wanted "EPIDEMIC" for soap operas.

Oh, and I still don't understand the theme.

Why is it that the NYT endlessly allows constructors to foist upon us "ONO" or "OTERI" or "OSLO" or "ELHI" etc etc et cetera. Is there no attempt at being original anymore?

Should be ASKS OVER for tea, not ASKS IN.

I did enjoy TOMMYROT, however.

But overall, mon CHERI, I am in the Rex camp today. And eHOW!



Silverside 9:12 AM  

Refuse to believe you can make hashbrowns with a ricer.....thought it had to be dicer. Had heard of the god Hera but did not recall the name.

tb 9:20 AM  

@Z
"...to wound the autumnal city."

Dhalgren is one of the greats.

Brian 9:37 AM  

Don't waste time crossing out clue numbers as you solve.

Nancy 9:38 AM  

Everything @chefwen said at 2:17 a.m., except I was sober while solving, and I'm sure it's because we're in different time zones. I didn't understand the theme, solved without even trying to understand it, and don't really understand it now. But I don't really care. It was harder than almost any Wednesday I've ever done, because four long theme answers were great big Huhs? and had to come in from the crosses alone. Which made the puzzle crunchy. Which made me happy.

I, too, am sick and tired of OTERI, @Quasi. At least I know who ONO and UMA are. OTERI? If it weren't for Xwordland, I never would have heard of her at all.

Amen to @BarbieBarbie (5:33), @kitshef (7:44), @Evil (6:24) and others: Those of us who solve in pen all have our own specific reasons that have nothing at all to do with hubris. For me the reasons are twofold: 1) When I first tried solving in pencil, I could barely see the damn fill -- not even when I used a No. 2 pencil. And 2) When I had to erase an answer, I ended up tearing the newspaper. Once I switched to a pen, I was so much happier. I would imagine I must have switched within my first two weeks of puzzle-solving, but that was so long ago that who can remember?

Brian 9:42 AM  

Erasable Pen

semioticus (shelbyl) 9:44 AM  

I didn't get the theme even after I solved the whole thing. Took me my average Wednesday time. I guess this is why I didn't enjoy this puzzle that much. Like, if the theme made me work for it, then I would have gotten some "haaaaa!" pleasure. Instead, I just thought "OK let me fill everything and forget about the theme." So it turned into a much easier Saturday puzzle. Meh.

mmorgan 9:49 AM  

I finished it, and enjoyed it, but didn't get the theme. I read Rex's explanation, and I still don't get the theme.

Tita A 9:51 AM  

I really, really, liked this puzzle!
No, I hadnt a clue during the solve. But this morning, took a look at the grid, and the clues, and with last night's vinho verde foginess lifted, figured it out.
Like @MikeMV, thought the "revealer" was cool, and like @lms, really liked the double layer of aha moments.

Unlike yesterday's, this trick was fun for me...not merely a constructor-only tour de force..

Thanks, Mr. Hunsberger!

Brian 9:56 AM  

Erasable pen

Ellen S 10:03 AM  

@Evil - exactly why, and how, I used to solve in ink, I mean IN PEN, before doing it electronically. Started out hunting for the darkest-leaded pencils, found a mechanical that took #1 leads, needed that because I just couldn't see the paler pencil marks on the newsprint. I started solving IN PEN at the behest of a friend of mine who advised writing small, as you say, and began collecting fine-point pens. Still easier to read than pencil.

But there's another thing, something different about the PEN vs pencil solving experience. Has nothing to do with being brilliant, which I sure ain't. I think of it as, somehow, "commitment." When I started doing Sudoku, I of course used pencil. I came to one puzzle I started and restarted three or four or five times, and couldn't solve it. The paper was getting worn out from erasures. I tried it in pen and solved it on the first try. Maybe because extra focus was necessary because in pen there is no going back. Anyway, I don't solve IN PEN because I'm a better solver: I'm a better solver because I solve in pen.

Congratulations, Penelope! And, what @Robin said back at 3:01am. Running for local office is a good springboard to higher things, but don't forget how important that lowly school board office is in itself. Do good and do well.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

I, like many of those commenting here, found the theme to be a waste of time. Oh but then, crossword puzzles are a waste of time. So is commenting here. So what am I talking about and who cares? And why are you reading this, you idiot?

pmdm 10:12 AM  

A number of those commenting say they still don't get the theme even after reading the write-up and comments. I'll try phrasing the explanation a little differently, hoping those who remain as clueless as I was for a long time can grasp what's going on.

About the crossword entries. Each theme entry consists of two words. The two words in each entry combine to make a common phrase. The last word in each entry combines with the first word in the next theme entry to also make a common phrase. The trick wraps around (that is to say, the last word of the last entry combines with the first word of the first entry).

About the clues. There is no clue for the actual crossword entries. Each clue has two parts separated by a forward slash. The second part of each theme clue combines with the first part of the next theme clue to provide the clue for the phrase you get when you combine the last word of the entry with the next word of the next theme entry. Again, the second part of the last theme clue wraps around to the first part of the first theme clue.

Here's an example. The second part of 59A and first part of 18A combine to "Knocked for a loop" which is the clue for SEEING DOUBLE, the second word in 59A and first word in 18A.

Hope that wordy explanation solves your problem.

I thought the puzzle was clued quite easy for a Wednesday, easy enough to complete without understanding the theme. If the theme entries were given normal clues, I think I might have found the puzzle just a little more difficult than the Monday puzzles. As it is, I thought it was a wonderful change of pace. I actually had a lot of joy doing this puzzle which struck me as being as far from gruesome as you can get. Tough, tough theme that pretty much beat me. But I like it.

Carola 10:23 AM  

Well, I half got it: after solving and a too-long "Why am I so dumb?" interval, I saw the two-word theme phrases, but I couldn't figure out how the clues worked. Aha. Nice.
IN PEN: on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays only. Otherwise the grid just gets too MESSy.

Lindsay 10:26 AM  

I solved downs only. In red ink, keeping black ink on standby for write-overs. Filled in all the squares, and though I was dissatisfied with 42A EHOW, the crosses worked, so I concluded that EH OW must be what a Canadian says after hitting her thumb with a hammer.

Still had no idea what the theme was, so I rustled up the clipping with the Across clues and .... still had no idea what the theme was.

Hence, my appearance here. Word loop. ok ok (those are OKS). Time to see what the WSJ has on tap today.

r.alphbunker 10:29 AM  

Hand up for liking having to figure out the theme after the puzzle is complete.

11D. {Gives the slip to} ELUDES-->EVADES
3D. {Like some international exchanges} CULINARY-->CULTURAL

Details are here

mathgent 10:31 AM  

I expect a Wednesday to be boringly bland, but today's was downright annoying.

COIXT RECORDS 10:37 AM  

MIXALOT is fantastic to see in the grid; you're no fun.

AZPETE 10:55 AM  

Try a 0.9!

Joseph Michael 10:59 AM  

Challenging indeed. With initial entries like "in ink," "drum top," and "tommypot," and absolutely no clue to what the theme might be, this was an uphill battle. Which occurred, by the way, IN PEN and left me in WOE with WATERY eyes and a MESSI grid.

The low point of all this was ECRUS. Just how many shades of ecru are there exactly?





AZPETE 11:03 AM  

White eraser!

Masked and Anonymous 11:09 AM  

…DONE.
Didn't get the "drift" of the puztheme, until about halfway in. Admired its differentness. Weren't quite sure why @RP was throwin trash outta his car window onto the nice WedPuz. Which reminds m&e … if M&A voted for his charmin wife, will he maybe come pick up some of the trash in our yard? Ain't fussy, mind U. Just haulin away the old rusted-out Buick out back would be plenty good. (In any case, a big congratz to her … can see why the @RP would be mighty mighty proud.)

ECRUS. har. yep, got a few MESSI bits here and there I'd grant, but not quite a yardful of trash. Don't think I'd throw OSLO & ECOTAX out the car window, f'rinstance. Can dig SATCHMO, TOMMYROT, and IHEARYOU and CULTURAL. And learnt stuff, with EHOW and DRUMPAD and (Sir)MIXALOT.

That clue for SADIES is plumb nuts. Like. This feisty lil puz has got itself an attitude.

Thanx, Mr. Hunsberger.
WELL …

Masked & Anonym007Us


**gruntz**

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Finished it, but like yesterday's puzzle, didn't enjoy it. I used to actually enjoy them (where is Manny Nosowsky these days!)

I agree with Rex on all points...

Andrew Heinegg 11:18 AM  

Hand up for another pen solver; I have tried solving in pencil a few times but, I can never make it dark enough to not cause eye strain when looking at it. A pen with a thin writing line is my personal favorite. Many people still cast a jaundiced eye on this practice. I arrived early for court one day some years ago. I pulled the N.Y. Times out of my briefcase and began doing the crossword. The court clerk gave me a sideways look with a disapprovingly sounding reproach of:' interesting, doing the crossword in pen?!?'.

I realize I am cheating myself but, I never bother to figure out a theme unless I am unable to complete the puzzle without getting the theme. As I didn't need to get the theme to complete the puzzle, it was a moot point from my perspective.

There was some evidence of puzzle construction textbook usage here thus, too many cliched answers.

I cannot even picture making hash browns with a ricer. The edges of the ricer holes would have to he razor sharp and the ricer itself would have to be heavy duty, to say the least. A reasonably good cheese grater with the potato put through the largest holes seems a lot easier. That is, unless you pre-cooked the potatoes and then put them through the ricer and then fried them. Seems a bit unnecessary.

I am not a big beer drinker and I cannot even remember the last time I had a lite beer. But, I can remember what a lite beer tastes like. Thus, I can't remember the last time I had one and I applaud the clue and answer of watery.

To get all baseball geeky, a sacrifice does not always result in an out. With a runner on 3rd Base, the batter bunts, the player who fields the ball throws to the plate in order to try to throw the runner out at home. The runner is safe at home and the batter who bunted the ball is credited with a sacrifice but,no out is recorded. There are other examples such as errors etc. but, that's enough trivia.

All in all, I thought it was passable but not thrilling.

Naryana Gora 11:27 AM  

Laughed at Rex's "elections have consequences" comment.

Enjoyed the puzzle very much.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

All this discussion of the solving process, the joys of pen or ink or pencil on paper reminds me of how much I love spring, of how the very essence of spring and the rebirth of flora and fauna enhances the puzzles for me. See, I solve using a self-crafted goose quill and animal blood. I guess that makes it nothing more than pen and a kind of ink, but an oh so special kind of ink, even more-so in spring for then, and only then, can I use freshly harvested blood from newborns. A rabbit kit provides the perfect "ink" for a Monday puzzle, the guilelessness, defenselessness of the two are a perfect match. A baby squirrel matches up well with a Tuesday - they're both so erratic, darting back and forth never knowing which way to run, just begging to be destroyed to put them out of their indecisive misery. A fox kit, or an owlet, is the perfect medium for a Saturday, as I need both the wisdom of the owl and the slyness of the fox to get through a tough Saturday. I just had a thought - a blend for Saturday - may improve my time.

Spring is essential as the young blood, to coin a phrase, is essential to the experience. It just flows, my mind, my soul, the puzzle and I are as one. Mature blood isn't the same, nor is blood first frozen then thawed. As with something as simple as an apple, it's perfect only at first blush, freshly harvested.

evil doug 11:41 AM  

"I arrived early for court one day some years ago. I pulled the N.Y. Times out of my briefcase and began doing the crossword."

Nice of 'em to let you out of your handcuffs....

SouthsideJohnny 11:44 AM  

I'm not as proficient a sovler as most of the people who post comments here (some Tuesdays can still be tough for me to finish) so this one was a total waste of time and a real stinker. The theme is incomprehensible, even after all of the explanations here. Add in to the mix nonsense like ARAGON and ESSENE. Someone chime in if they have ever, ever heard someone use the phrase TOMMYROT in real life. I really wouldn't care if the puzzles were fun on a daily basis and this was a one-off. I'm starting to agree with Rex that the NYT has more or less permanently lost their fastball. Can someone please help me understand what NOOB and TYRO have to do with each other? Smh today.

TomAz 11:44 AM  

Rex is too harsh today. This puzzle wasn't the greatest but it certainly wasn't bad. I didn't get the theme until I was done, but when I did see it I thought it was interesting and worthy.

My main criticism would be that I was able to complete the puzzle in slightly-faster-than-average time without getting the theme. That seems to violate some principle of some sort.

Z 11:54 AM  

Anyone else catch the new 7-Up commercial starring Sir Mix-A-Lot? If I saw it before today it slid by unnoticed.

@tb - About due for my once a decade re-reading. I fear how timely it will still be.

@Ellen S. - "Anyway, I don't solve IN PEN because I'm a better solver: I'm a better solver because I solve in pen." Nice distinction.

@People still not getting the trick/theme - I hope this helps:

DOUBLE BACK-BACK COURT-COURT CASE-CASE CLOSED-CLOSED CIRCUIT-CIRCUIT BOARD-BOARD GAME-GAME OVER-OVERSEEING-SEEING DOUBLE

old timer 11:56 AM  

I solve IN PEN always (and yes, I put down "in ink" first). And I think OFL should, too, because if he had the actual newspaper in front of him he would have seen that the clue ended in "Sir" making MIXALOT obvious. No construction error there.

I never figured out what was going on with the themers, but all the same was racing through the puzzle until I got to the SE corner. Where I wrote in "ARAGON" (IN PEN) where PAWNEE belonged. Wrote in "set" instead of PAD, "GET at" instead of GETTO, and "Espy" instead of EHOW. Which I never heard of before, but now plan to use, as needed. Fortunately I had T-RO at once and knew it was TYRO because of I HEAR YOU.

Probably added 10 minutes to what would otherwise have been a fast, Tuesdayish solve.

GILL I. 12:00 PM  

@evil...Hah! and I use a cheap Paper Mate.
@Tita!!!!wow, girl. Last night we had some crab cakes and I opened a bottle of Gazela Vinho Verde Rose. I had never tried it before but I loved the bottle design. I don't even know how to describe it other than to say it was delicious! I had about 2 1/2 glasses before tackling this puppy. Said to myself "I'm not on Paul's wavelength; I'd rather enjoy the wine." Off to bed.
Tackled it again in the morn. Was NOT enjoying it at all because I wasn't getting it. Finished, did my usual stare when I don't understand something and then By Gum...light bulb moment. REALLY liked this concept. Thought it clever and very different. Good job Paul....I'll take more of these even though half the people here hate it. But then, I love Roland Escargots and everyone else in my family hate them.
I will tell you, though...please don't use a ricer to make hash browns. Buy them already frozen or toss your taters in a cuisinart using the chopper blade. Now, if you insist on using a RICER, your mashed potatoes should come out just about perfect. Just add butter, cream, milk and a little garlic powder.
@Anony 8:57. You made me look up "choad." I think I might use it but never on @Z.
@pmdm...thanks for making it clear for those that should have had some vinho verde...
Yay Penelope.

Kath320 12:01 PM  

Ricers make fine mashed potatoes - would never work for hashbrowns (which are usually grated).

Naryana Gora 12:06 PM  

Pencil for print-offs, pen for newspaper.

0.5 mm or 0.7 mm? That's the real question.

Forgot to change dICERS. DNF.

My son hated the drum pad. Now, like everyone else, he plays guitar.

Honeysmom 12:17 PM  

I find it hard to believe commenters who claim this horror was a fast solve!?! Am enjoying Washington Post crosswords more than NYT. They're not sadistic!

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

Just to pile on with the "puzzle in pen" theme. These days I work on iPad during lunch. I used to work in pen and kept "white out" nearby. Why? Embarrassing. I cannot stand the feel of writing on a newspaper with a pencil. It is a strange hybrid negative sensation...like soundless fingernails on a chalk board! Ther, I confessed!
Also put me in the camp of liking the puzzle a lot.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

@pmdm - well done. OTERI a gifted comedienne.

Masked and Anonymous 12:22 PM  

p.s.
staff weeject pick: TRU. Fairly well-behaved litter of weejects, today, btw.

M&A prefers solvin on paper, usin dull-ish crayons. I generally go with reds on the acrosses, and blues on the downs. Some letters end up lookin kinda muddy purple. In emergencies, one can always over-write in burnt sienna. U's are treated separate, and are treated to a gold hue, of course. (Lil darlins.)

This wonderfully weirdball WedPuz has given M&A an inspiration for somethin that might make a fine runtpuz. That alone should certainly justify the very existence of today's puz in the known universe.

Known Universe Btw Dept.:
M&A would post his amazin daily crayola-enhanced solvequest times here, but EINstein has clearly proven that time is not a constant, in our universe. Relativity 101. QED.

[Callin "trone", at this point]

Election Recap Dept.:
Can Penelope Harper now run for Prez? Please?
Howcum there weren't no "Affadavit Votes"? Looks sorta suspicious; kinda like red ECRUS, in a grid.
Either way, M&A recommends she wipe her email cache clean, asap.

M&A Political Advisor and Crayon Connoisseur Desk

Anoa Bob 12:33 PM  

kitshef @7:30, there's another, sneakier two-for-one POC besides the OKS/OUTS in the lower right. It happens where OXIDE & ASK IN both need a letter-count boost to fill their slots. As with all two-for-one POCs, that shared S could be changed to a black square and the puzzle would lose nothing of value or interest.

Turn around and stick it out,
Even white boys gotta shout!

A billiard parlor I used to frequent (alright, alright, it was a pool hall) had Sir Mixalot's "Baby Got Back" on the jukebox and at first I thought it was a bit crude and rude. After a few hearings, though, I took a liking to it, thinking it was quite clever and a bunch of fun. The video---yep, it's on YouTube---is a blast and worth checking out.

My anaconda don't want none
Unless you got buns, hon.

puzzlehoarder 12:34 PM  

The problem with this puzzle was the disparity between the cryptic theme and the all to often hackneyed fill the constructor was forced to use. I was down to the last section and still had no clue as to the theme. If I had needed the theme to overcome difficult fill it would have been a problem but that never happened. As it was this came in around Tuesday level for challenge. Rather than disparaging the puzzle for it's weak elements I admire the work the constructor put in to come up with passable blocks of down entries. It wasn't hard to figure out the theme once the puzzle was finished. If the fill could have been difficult enough to force you to spend time analyzing the theme in order to finish the solve this could have been a great Thursday puzzle.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Like many have said, "ricer" is not a utensil to make hash browns. Also, an oscilloscope displays whatever waveform it's hooked up to, not just sine waves.

Eli Abbe 12:47 PM  

As an electrical engineer, who has spent the requisite time in front of an oscilloscope, I take issue with the clue for SINE. First of all, electrically speaking, an oscilloscope, being a measuring device, has no outputs, only inputs. The piece that you look at is just a display or a screen - it is not called an output. A sine wave is the output of another device called a Signal Generator. Second, the oscilloscope does not display a sine wave any more than you would say that a radio plays "The Star Spangled Banner". In either case, it is producing what is connected to its input.

Aketi 1:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aketi 1:03 PM  

A colored CIRCUIT BOARD for those whose CIRCUITs were blown trying to visually image the DOUBLEing BACK of the theme words.

I don't even know what a RICER is, I use a grater for taters.

Crane Poole 1:13 PM  

Perhaps my brain works differently. I sussed the thing of it mid-puzzle and finished in one-third of yesterday's time. It certainly felt like Tuesday-on-Wednesday and vice-versa. Which doesn't mean I liked this puzzle. I often struggle where the rest of you skate. Together we make the world go round.

So it's OTERI day. Again. Wish another clue for those five letters would betide us. Having hardly watched SNL since the original cast departed (though I've had to watch recently), I hardly know who she is. Now having googled, I was floored to read of the horror in her life nine years ago. People are a problem. People are strange.

Anyway - Congrats to Rex and Mrs. Rex on the victory. Hope you'll make a difference. In the meantime, quit yer crabbing.

Naryana Gora 1:15 PM  

I love the expertise that surfaces at this site, most recently with @Eli Abbe and the SINE clue. Constructors beware, we are watching.

tea73 1:18 PM  

Congratulations to Penelope! (We voted for School Board yesterday too, and my two candidates won - yay!)

This was a faster than usual Wednesday for me, but I never did grok the theme. I like it better when it's hard enough that it takes a couple for me to figure out what is going on, but not so easy that I fill in all the themes right away, or so hard that I might as well be doing a themeless.

Teedmn 1:25 PM  

I started solving IN PEN for sight and texture reasons like many here but after I started commenting here, I found I needed the black ink trail in order to remember my mishaps to list off (I can just hear the "how can I PUT this - spare us!". Sorry folks.)

Definitely a post-solve aha here. I was about to shrug and come here for the answer when I saw SEEING DOUBLE. Then I had fun sussing out the rest. But I had the worst time trying to figure out BACK COURT. Initially, reading the 23A clue "...seconds to clear/", I decided I needed a number there. _FL crossing _OUR, oh, fOUR something. I eventually settled on CFL/COURT CASE but never cleared the CIRCUITs of needing a number. So I needed Rex's explanation for that one.

I like how DOUBLE BACK and CLOSED CIRCUIT sort of echo the theme.

And congrats, Penelope, on your election. Thus is a political career launched!

Thanks, Mr. Hunsberger, nice Wednesday.

Churlish Nabob 1:46 PM  

anybody remember a few months ago when Shortz gave it to Rex straight up the prune shooter?

Oldflappyfrommississappy 1:46 PM  

Personally, I use invisible ink when solving the puzzle.

Andrew Heinegg 2:00 PM  

Ha ha ha

jberg 2:10 PM  

Also, with a pencil you need a hard backing; can't just hold the paper in your lap, as you can with a fountain pen or a roll-tip. And it's not that hard to write over Etsy with EHOW.

jberg 2:14 PM  

Yeah, I thought her nickname was Mamma Grizzly.

Joe Bleaux 2:16 PM  

@Rex, your tortuous explanation of the gimmick was more enjoyable than the puzzle itself. At least by the time I'd finished reading it, I knew what the hell you had set out to do.

jberg 2:17 PM  

NOOB = Newburyport; TYRO =rank amateur, pretty much the same thing.

jberg 2:25 PM  

I may be breaking the three-times-and-out rule, but just want to add--@Rex didn't say solving in pen was bad, he said, correctly, that there's nothing superior about that method.

QuasiMojo 2:34 PM  

@Eli Abbe, thank you for offering that illuminating clarification about sines. It's all above my head. But I liked the Star Spangled Banner reference. Very helpful.

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

I tried to answer the subscriber who asked what a noobe is, but I saw some others did....

Still posting as anonymous


Really - let's not be egotistic - WHO CARES if you use pen or pencil - just enjoy the experience

Michael Klappoth 2:50 PM  

Noob is often used in gaming. Noob is a corruption of newbie. So you know newbie, newcomer, amateur etc...

Jeff Schuh 3:00 PM  

I didn't get the theme either, and didn't take the time to figure out when done. Now that I see it, it admittedly gives me a bit of a headache trying to follow, but otherwise thought it was OK.

What stuck in my craw was this. I make oscilloscopes at my job. High end, very expensive oscilloscopes. "SINE" waves (64 across) are not oscilloscope outputs. Oscilloscopes measure record and display, they are not generators. You put a sinewave in, and you see a sinewave on the scope. Yeah, sure, there are auxiliary signals as outputs, but c'mon...

Mohair Sam 3:27 PM  

Pilot G-2 (07) on AcrossLite print out placed on kitchen table. Healthy stock of WiteOut. All other solving methods are clearly inferior, as are solvers who use them.

Solved this in what seemed like normal Wednesday time, although we were totally confused by the themers (thankful that crosses were dead easy). Came here to discover the theme and were impressed. Liked it, and a little embarrassed we were slow on the uptake.

Was at a class A baseball game in Lakewood, NJ last night. A young lady, perhaps 12-years-old was assigned to sing the National Anthem. She froze after after "What so proudly we hailed" and it looked for a second like disaster. But NO! A few in the crowd went all Mo Cheeks and sang "At the Twilight's last . . .". soon most of the crowd joined in. Well the girl at the microphone got herself together and was back with us and belting it out at "O'er the ramparts . .". She and the crowd finished that anthem off and the crowd cheered that young lady and themselves loudly enough to be heard for miles around. No player heard cheers that loud all night no matter what he did. Best National Anthem I've witnessed in quite some time.

BarbieBarbie 3:52 PM  

The display is an output the way a printer is an output. Information output. As in I/O.
Also, rex, a caveat: is school board elections around here, you can vote anywhere, at any polling place. So any one polling result might not indicate the neighborhood's opinion. Hold that garbage!

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

@Mohair!!!! Ugh! I was at Lakewood on Monday night. I saw you know who. Don't tell me if you like or loathe him. I like YOU too much to hear the wrong answer (LOL)
If the Blue claws weren't playing the fireflies disregard the post.

Paul 4:18 PM  

Hey Rex. I am a Harpur College grad. Class of 1971. I also did grad work at Cortland which led to student teaching at the Christopher Columbus School in Binghamton. Congratulations to your wife.

Anonymous 4:21 PM  

Hey, stock market just took a big hit. Trump trolls? No where to be found.

Uncle Milford 4:21 PM  

I kind of liked the "ohhhhhh" feeling I had when I realized the theme. WTF is ehow? Who uses that? Tyros? I also think Rex's is going to spontaneously combust if the NYT doesn't put out a decent puzzle -- like all of the drummers in Spinal Tap (or simply Tap, as their fans like to call them). It's supposed to say Spinal Tap THEN puppet show!

David in CA 5:27 PM  

Been too many decades since I used a 'scope, but I seem to recall that some did have a sine-wave output. It was used to drive a test circuit. Ack - or was it a sawtooth? Now I can't remember.

Oh..the puzzle - I thought it was an amazing theme! feel a little sorry for all you who didn't get it. Took a while, but heck I like being "puzzled" while I'm puzzling. 5 two word, common (reasonably) phrases in a loop giving 5 more common (reasonably) phrases by taking the end of 1 and adding to it the beginning of the other. Great! Bring on more.

Rex - do you have to be such a jerk in your writing? Why can't you stick with that you don't like the puzzle, instead of a) telling ME how I should feel about it , and b) stooping to outright insults like "mediocre-to-bad constructors"?

Everyone knows why light beer is like making love in a rowboat, I assume...

ahecht 5:34 PM  

I actually found this one pretty easy. After the crosses got me DOUBLE and COURTCASE, seeing that the clues connected was pretty easy. Once I got that part, the theme answers quickly fell into place without resistance and I just had to fill around them.

I had writeovers with the dancer being ErOTIC and the website being Etsy (as with everyone else), but the crosses were easy enough to get me through problem spots like ECRUS (how many are there?), RICERS (which make mashed potatoes, not hash browns), SINE (a sine wave is an input to an oscilloscope, it might output a sine curve), and ESSENE.

The TOMMYROT/TYRO cross was a bit unfair, but I guessed it correctly.

Joe Dipinto 5:59 PM  

@QuasiMojo: also, Satchmo had a huge chart-topping hit with it in 1964, which beat out "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" as the No. 1 song of the year on WABC in NYC.

jae 6:25 PM  

I print out all most all the puzzles I do and use .05 PaperMate mechanical pencil (@Naryana - .05 is crisper). I do the newspaper version of the LATimes, but @jberg is right, you need a hard backing. I cut it out of the paper and put it on a clip board. Why pencil? I'm fairly anal and a messy written over grid would profoundly bug me. I sometimes take the time to erase extraneous pencil marks. That said, the reasons for doing puzzles IN PEN make a lot of sense.

Mohair Sam 6:35 PM  

@Anon 3:53 - Tix were a gift from our son and daughter-in-law, Lady M and I accompanied them. Daughter-in-law is the you-know-who fan (we love her anyhow). I'm the Phillies fan and wanted to see last year's first pick in the draft Mickey Moniac. Mickey was 2 for 5, but muffed a couple in the outfield. Good arm however.

Anonymous 6:57 PM  

Mohair,
Moniac is soooo skinny! Glad he got a couple of knocks, and I know he's only, what 20?, but man!

Victor 7:09 PM  

OK, more on the pleasure of pencil on paper. I download the Across Light version, print (with gray squares, not black) and solve on a clipboard. Ticonderoga (and ONLY Ticonderoga) #2.5 pencil is clean and stays sharp. No worry about tearing the paper or ripping it with erasures. Bask in the ability to think through the cluing, and know you could do some of them better (a sine wave is derived from the input into an oscilloscope, for example; it's not an output). Enjoy the cedar aroma from sharpening. It's an entire experience until the DNF angst.

Mr. Grumpypants 7:25 PM  

No one solves IN PEN; you solve IN INK or WITH PEN. Do solve IN AcrossLite? No. Do you solve IN the app? Sorry. Pet peeve. Oh, I loathed the puzzle, by the way.

BarbieBarbie 8:07 PM  

If you have a regularly varying electrical signal like perhaps the electrical signal from an audio microphone you can use it as input into an oscilloscope. If you trigger the oscilloscope off the incoming signal, and it's regularly varying, (for example, you are singing a constant pitch into the microphone), you will see the shape of the wave. This can be all kinds of things, but all of them are combinations of sine waves. Even a square wave is a combination of sine waves. One of the pure vowel sounds, I think it's short "a" but maybe it's "oo," makes a perfect sine wave. So you can look at an audio signal on an oscilloscope display to see how pure your vowel sounds are. Input is electrical signal from the microphone. The output is the displayed sine wave. The display is the output, because photons are leaving the oscilloscope and hitting your eyes, and carrying information. That's what an output is. Signal in: input. Signal out: output. It does not have to be another electrical signal, although it can be.
Three (with apologies; had to) and out.

Audrey Bruner 8:16 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Audrey Bruner 8:19 PM  

I've looked at it a few times but still don't understand the clue for OUTS :( could you help? Ty!

Anonymous 8:27 PM  

Baseball, @Audrey. Like a sacrifice fly. Which gets caught, putting the batter out. I think there were some comments saying the out isn't an automatic result of a sacrifice, but that's what the clue means.

Anoa Bob 8:47 PM  

Thanks BarbieBarbie @8:07. I was about to make a similar remark, but you said it perfectly so no need to add more. (I was an electronics maintenance technician in the aero-space industry many moons ago, between a hitch in the Navy and going back to college, and used an oscilloscope so big---it was the late 60's---it had its own cart to push around! Now they are hand held devices!)

I appreciated the experts valuable information, but, as has often been pointed out, in a crossword puzzle the clues need only be that, just clues, and not complete, technically correct in all details, definitions.

Edac2day 9:39 PM  

I still don't get the theme, and I don't care. But congrats, Penelope!

Anonymous 9:43 PM  

HMM? Interesting. Rex is going to trash an area of his community that he disagrees with. I know he claims to be from New York but he sounds like he's from Berkeley. Trashing places that don't agree with you seems to be CULTURAL for those on the left. It's become their bad HABIT.
I hope that with Mueller OVERSEEING the investigation, along with his instruction to look into the Russian/Trump collusion, will also DOUBLEBACK to look into the Russian/Clinton connection with all their donations to the Clinton Foundation as well as the server, (deleted e-mails and BleachBit).
They got the Independent Investigator they wanted but I believe they are just ASKIN for it. It will be a fun rabbit hole to go down. Instead of condemning Trump it might backfire on Shrillary. It would make my day. I hope it will GETTO a COURTCASE against the PIG. All the prog's will be saying "WOE is me". Can't wait to see who is BESTED with her INPEN. Har!
GWood

Adam Frank 9:49 PM  

Agreed. I also liked the fact that the phrases in the answers made sense as standalone phrases themselves, as well as in the looping answers. Solved quickly and enjoyed figuring out the theme.

jimbobway 10:29 PM  

Yes lets support Murdoch

Joe 10:49 PM  

Kudos to your wife, Rex. I had no freaking clue as to what his puzzle was about.

Anonymous 11:03 PM  

Trumplethinskins have become such desperate people. When he is done, recognize he was a lot worse than you thought. If he gets off, he will still be mentally ill.

BarbieBarbie 5:47 AM  

@Anoa, I'm no pro. Just a long-ago struggling student who kept getting that dancing egg because I couldn't figure out the trigger. Mine was rack-mounted! (Millenial:"what's a rack?")

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

Great puzzle today!
Your write up is totally off the mark ... again.
Nobody cares about your wife's position on the School Board.

Brad Johnson 11:10 AM  

Rex missed that the theme is CLOSED CIRCUIT.

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

I solved without a clue to the theme, even when I was done. I have been meaning to look up the theme, because I couldn't get it even after I finished. I used the crosses and settled for familiar phrases. It worked and was relatively medium for me. THANKS for your blog!

Jill 1:02 AM  

We just finished this one.... and I'm on your page because I had to look up the theme and even then it took us a bit to get it. Geez, not even fun.

ChE Dave 3:37 PM  

Been behind due to a vacation away from tech. Stupid theme, filled it in without understanding it.

FWIW, I fill in ink because pencil smudges if you rub against it.

Burma Shave 10:09 AM  

SARAH SUE STARR

IHEARYOU TOOK up a HABIT that’s CULTURAL yet EPISODIC,
OVERSEEING on CLOSEDCIRCUIT when SADIE’S dancing EXOTIC.

--- DEMI MESSI-MEDICI

rondo 10:38 AM  

I can see where many speed solvers might say WOE, and I didn’t get the theme in large part because I had DOUBLEtAlK for waaaaay too long, but looking back on it now, this is damn near brilliant! A puzzle within a puzzle, with the reveal at the start. After all this IS a word puzzle and on a NORMALDAY (hangover from yesterday) I don’t worry about solve time. Especially when solving INPEN.

As a former trumpet player I have always admired SATCHMO, both as a musician and a CULTRAL icon.

There’s plenty of yeah baby competition with “our governor is hotter than yours” SARAH, omnipresent Ms. OTERI, but the winner today is oft times EXOTIC or ErOTIC STARR of “Striptease” DEMI Moore.

TOMMYROT to OFL’s pan of this puz when the constructor can MIXALOT of things in like that.

eastsacgirl 11:34 AM  

Actually found this puzzle pretty easy. Took me about 5 minutes to figure out the theme so finished in pretty good time. I thought it was pretty clever.

Diana,LIW 11:50 AM  

I put all the correct letters into all the correct squares, and then stared at the clues again. Something, something is going on...But what...

Went to Bill Butler's site first (knew he'd just, you know, explain it) for the reveal - forehead slap! Brilliant. Maybe there could have been another "hint," but DOUBLEBACK was looking us in the eyes. If I had read all the theme answers out loud I "probably" would have gotten the trick.

You win, puzzle, fair and square(s).

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for enlightenment

leftcoastTAM 1:14 PM  

Pretty challenging. Filled it out fast enough, but took most time to untangle the clues and match the mixed double entries. Even then, didn't see how the clues themselves were linked up until coming here.

So, was that a successful solve? Not sure.

In any CASE, I solve IN ink, not IN PEN.

Bananafish 1:35 PM  

I used to think crossword solvers were generally smart people, especially those into it enough to come and participate on this blog. The comments to this puzzle have permanently dissuaded me of that notion. Honestly, if you cannot get this theme, you really have some challenges ... how is it you are able to dress yourselves in the morning?

rain forest 2:40 PM  

I think saying that I solve IN PEN is fine. So is IN ink. If you you use a pencil, do you say IN GRAPHITE? I think not. I suppose you should say "with" either "pen" or "pencil" to be absolutely, or technically, correct. I use a pen. I think it's a BIC. Does any of this matter? No.

So, using a PEN I solved this baby and am proud to say that I figured out the theme while getting the second theme answer when I saw "eight seconds to clear" and looked "back" at the first themer. I think that first themer is actually the revealer, along with CLOSED CIRCUIT. Could have used "continuous loop" too, except "loop" was in a clue. Damn, but cute anyway.

Did OFL's wife win an election? Good for her. Maybe her campaign slogan was "Make Binghamton's Schools Great Again".

Is SADIE a nickname for SARAH? Who knew?

Quite a lot of crosswordese in this puzzle, but the theme more than made up for it. Liked it.



Anonymous 3:00 PM  

Easier than Tuesday's puzzle, but fun. Avoid aggravation - just work the puzzle and ignore the theme.

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

From Syndication Land:
Like most people on the blog today, I finished the puzzle without understanding the theme. Yay! An extra puzzle to figure out. I kept reading the answers out loud and realized they were somehow connected. My problem was that I should have been reading the clues consecutively! I had to come here to fully understand the constructor's intent. I think the biggest problem is the first theme clue...it doesn't give you much to go on. I don't know how this could have been done more elegantly. Maybe this was a puzzle that needed a note at the top. Something like: the theme answers in this puzzle form a word loop.

leftcoastTAM 7:13 PM  

@rain forest: If the pencil, pen, and ink thing doesn't matter, and I agree, then why go to the trouble of a jab.

Don't know whether @bananafish was including me in his bit of snark, but I did get the theme and the linked answers from DOUBLEBACK. What I didn't do was confirm it by tediously going back over the clues.

strayling 7:59 PM  

I solve in a bar.

\ with a pen

strayling 8:11 PM  

This one really wasn't all that good, though. The theme was clever-clever with no real payoff for figuring it out, which turned it from intriguing to irritating for me. A trick set of clues should have more than the trick in common if they're going to make a rewarding solve.

wcutler 8:47 PM  

Thanks to @AKETI, @PMDM and @Z for the explanations. I found the puzzle easy enough, but a real puzzle to understand. I have no suggestion for how it could have been more clear though. The concept was fine. I found it enjoyable to solve, even was able to use the gimmick to fill in those entries, while not really getting how it was working. I thought that was worth a plus or two.

Again, I was happy to be able to come here to find out what it was all about.

wcutler 8:55 PM  

OH, someone asked how "Noob" and TYRO are related. That was a month ago and that person has surely long forgotten this puzzle, but anyway, I didn't see any response. I'm not sure how it works with the clue in quotes, but "Noob" is for newbie, or someone new to the game or app or whatever, and a tyro is a beginner. I think my mother taught me that word, not sure on what occasion, but it's sort of normal English.

spacecraft 9:40 PM  

@lms, vis-à-vis the elephant-riding THAIS: that's nothing. In Afghanistan, the BALL is really a dead turkey!

I'm in the IN ink school; no one says INPEN. The pen is the instrument; the ink is the medium. So we solve WITH the instrument, IN the medium. Ergo WITH PEN, in ink. So there.

This one wasn't so terribly difficult; for a Wednesday "how shall IPUT (ugh!) this?"--IPUT it at medium. Nice vertical 8-couplets in the NW and SE; but please. No light beer worth its malt would EVER be "WATERY." That's just awful cluing.

@rondo has it right with DOD DEMI "Get back up here and finish what you started!" Moore [Disclosure}. Man, all the values I ever had would be out the window--and I'd be at the top of the stairs in RECORD time! Got a bit MESSI when I wrote SAllyS instead of SADIES. Apologies to you, Ms. Hawkins. Birdie.

Scott McLean 2:49 PM  

I don't like solving in pencil. That scrape-y feel on the newsprint, bits of eraser everywhere, having to sharpen all the time... A pen is just smoother and easier. It has nothing to do with solving confidence; I use a light touch if I'm not sure, and it's easy enough to write over a wrong entry with a darker line. By no means am I "bragging" about this preference.

Anyway, I enjoyed this clever theme. After scratching my head for a while, I hade a nice a-ha moment about two-thirds through. Fun.
Some seriously junky fill though - overall, a decent Wednesday.

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