Friday, November 14, 2014

NYT 6:09 (Amy) 
LAT 6:29 (Gareth) 
CS 13:44 (Ade) 
CHE untimed, but longer than usual (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 11 14 14, no. 1114

NY Times crossword solution, 11 14 14, no. 1114

This week of NYT puzzles is blowing my mind with how much unappealing fill there has been. Day after day, an onslaught—Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and now today. Yes, the Friday puzzle has a little theme in the middle, three Across answers in the center with a clue theme going on. And there are four 15-letter answers in the fill. But then you also wind up with partials (A TALE, ALL BY, IN HER, IF SAY), foreign words (Latin MEA, EST, and VIS; Hawaiian/crosswordese LOA; Spanish NEGRO, ESA, and Spanish/crosswordese CESTA), crosswordese (ERTE, ENOL), a plural name (LOLAS), a densely Roman-numeraled pope (LEO VIII), awkward verb phrase (ROAM OFF), and, for Pete’s sake, a six-letter word that’s repeated in the grid (CAPITAL LETTER and RAISED LETTERING). Far too many compromises to accept, even if one is delighted by the following quasi-theme:

  • 31a. [B, for one], CAPITAL LETTER.
  • 34a. [Bb, for one], MUSICAL NOTE. I had no idea.
  • 35a. [Bb6, for one], CHESS MOVE.

The grid has to have left/right symmetry to accommodate that set of themers. Is the grid design supposed to somehow relate to the letter B? It looks like a spider or something.

Seven more things:

  • 10d. [Player with Legos, for example], ERECTOR. Yes, that’s what we call people playing with Lego. Erectors. *scoff*
  • 17a. [Part of a bridge truss], ENDPOST. END POST? I checked for the one- and two-word versions and found exactly zero dictionaries listing this term. Lovely.
  • 15a. [Short coming?], ARR. Abbreviation for “arrival.” Meh.
  • 36a. [Score at the half?], DECADE. A score is 20. Now, I call foul, because a DECADE is specifically 10 years, whereas a score is 20 of anything. Just because Lincoln used the number with “years” doesn’t make it a year-specific term.
  • 56a. [They might catch some rays], ORCAS. So killer whales prey on manta rays and whatnot? Neat.
  • 22d. [Giggles], TWITTERS. Say what? I checked three dictionaries, none of which have a laugh/giggle sense for twitter. Perhaps the puzzlemakers were thinking of titter?
  • 53d. [Spanish demonstrative], ESA. The old Tribune Media Services crossword used to clue ESA as the European Space Agency, which was such a nonentity to American solvers. But this week, the ESA landed the Philae probe right on that comet hurtling through space! I don’t know if many Americans have encountered the ESA abbreviation, though.

I sure hope the Saturday puzzle breaks this horrible streak of puzzles with so much subpar fill. 2.75 stars for this puzzle, 1 star for the cumulative week of editing.

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Dot What?”—Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.14.14: "Dot What?"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 11.14.14: “Dot What?”

Hello everybody, and welcome to Friday!!

First of all, I hope all of you will have a great weekend, and, if you’re on the East Coast or Midwest, hope you stay warm in the next couple of days. Today’s puzzle, brought to us today by Ms. Donna S. Levin, is a fun one, as common terms/proper nouns are altered by adding types of URL endings to the beginning of those terms. Let’s log on, shall we?

  • ORGANDY DICK: (17A: [Private eye who works in the textile industry?]) – ORG, from Andy Dick.
  • COMPOST OFFICE: (27A: [Fertilizer distribution center?]) – COM, from post office.
  • NETHER MAJESTY: (42A: [Impressiveness of the Earth’s mantle?]) – NET, from Her Majesty.
  • EDUCABLE GUY: (55A: [One who can be trained?]) – EDU, from cable guy. Number of times I’ve audibly heard the word “educable” in my life? Three times, maybe?

I would like the record to show that Ms. Levin would have had the ability to stop the East Coast/West Coast hip-hop beef if this crossword came out about 20 years ago, since both TUPAC (60A: [Shakur who costarred with Janet Jackson in “Poetic Justice”]) and Biggie Smalls were both mentioned in the puzzle, two RAP legends that represented areas on opposite coasts (34A: [Genre in which Notorious B.I.G. was big]). Yesterday, I got to talk about when The WB network was formed in the mid 1990s, and I can do the same now with another network that formed right around the same time, UPN (39A: [Station on which “Star Trek: Voyager” debuted]). I remember a few shows that were on the network, and I think the term that was used for when people tuned in to watch shows on UPN was that those viewers were “OOPIN,” as if saying UPN phonetically. Pretty sure my favorite show that was on UPN was the animated cartoon Home Movies.  Anyone remember that show?  I loved it!! As someone who used to sport a big afro when I was young, and not always keeping it in perfect shape, I have had experience in having a BAD HAIR DAY or two (11D: [It’s commonplace in humid climates]). Outside of that, BAD HAIR DAY is a great entry, and so is COUNT TO TEN (27D: [Exercise restraint, in a way]). I don’t think I’ve ever had to count to ten to either calm myself down or prevent myself from doing something that I might regret later on. However, I might have bitten a pillow or two to achieve the same result as counting to ten is supposed to yield.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ROUEN (35A: [City where Joan of Arc met her end]) – Just a few days ago, I got to talk about Jason ELAM, longtime kicker for the Denver Broncos in the 1990s and 2000s. In many of the years during that same time period, the punter for the Broncos was a guy named Tom ROUEN, the team’s all-time leader in punts. Rouen was in the news recently because his wife, six-time Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Amy Van Dyken, was paralyzed from the waist down after an ATV accident in June. Through the ordeal, Amy and Tom have been upbeat, and Amy is making great progress in her recovery. Click here for a video update from September on Amy’s recovery, and her determination to live as normal of a life as possible with her disability.

See you all on Saturday, everybody!  Thank you for the time, as always!

Take care!


Steve Salmon’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 141114

LA Times

I got quite far through the puzzle, and ignored quite a lot of the theme answers, before discovering the theme. I did so on being forced to consider GOVER(n)MENT as an answer! I think I’ve seen this theme done once before. Still, it’s a nice a-ha moment, especially if you fought against filling the wrong spellings! I like the touch that MIS(s)PELLINGS is misspelled! The others are EMBAR(r)ASSING, AG(g)RESSIVE and FL(U)ORESCENCE.

I seem to have written a whole bunch of notes on various other entries. So here they are:

  • Although I see [Colored part of the iris], AREOLA is from a dictionary, I question it. The whole iris is coloured, the AREOLA is merely the >visible< part of the iris.
  • [Country named for its location], ECUADOR. Fun trivia! Apparently, it means “equator” in Spanish. Did not know that.
  • [Thanksgiving staple], YAM. I’m pretty sure that the things Americans eat at Thanksgiving are not yams.
  • [Selling points], MALLS. Nice, subtle clue redirection!
  • [Pre-WWII pope], PIUSXI – clue suggests he hasn’t got many other distinguishing characteristics!
  • [Behind], INBACKOF. Do Americans say this regularly? I only know it from the Weird Al Yankovic parody “Trapped in the Drive-Through” (link not provided, for sanity’s sake).
  • [Literary collections], ANAS. Personally I’d have preferred [Duck genus that is being targetted by splitters], than a highly arbitrary plural. YMMV, but I wish there were more genus names in crosswords.
  • [Easy __], ASABC. I thought it was “Simple as ABC” these days. I put PEASY first based on the A.
  • [Douglas and others], FIRS. Flawed clue. Douglas Firs are not firs, although they are related.
  • [ICU hookup], IVDRIP. Nice answer!
  • [Mid-11th-century year], MLIII. Abominable answer. Non-answer in fact. If your grid design and theme arrangement force you into that, start again.

Fun theme, mostly fun solve, with only one or two clunks (although they were big ones). 3.5 Stars

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Swinging Singles” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 11/14/21

WSJ • 11/14/21

Revealer in the center: 64a [Bruce Willis sci-fi film, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme] TWELVE MONKEYS. The three letters of APE appear as a unit hidden in a dozen theme entries. I’ve circled the squares in the solution grid.

Before the customary list of said theme entries, I’m obligated to point out that monkeys are not apes, and apes are not monkeys. Both, however, are primates. The revealer sidesteps to a degree this distinction by using the word “hint”, but it’s still a bit dodgy. Not barbarous, but dodgy. Further, regarding the title, one of the many distinctions between the two taxa is the ability of apes to brachiate, that is, to swing below branches using their arms. The anatomy of monkeys precludes this feat; they can, however, swing below branches using their prehensile tails, or from branch to branch—or tree to tree—by employing vines, lianas, and the like.

That dispensed, here we go:

  • 20a. [“The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them” speaker*] DON DRAPER. Ooo, cynicism.
  • 22a. [Nursery item that deals with bum wraps*] DIAPER GENIE. It “is a baby diaper disposal system … The resulting string of sealed diapers is colloquially known as a ‘diaper sausage'” (Wikipedia). Well, that’s nice.
  • 34a. [Service station?*] CHAPEL.
  • 44a. [Kids with routes in their community*] NEWSPAPERBOYS. Punny.
  • 48a. [They heat up your food*] JALAPEÑOS.
  • 53a. [It’s all downhill from here*] APEX.
  • 82a. [Look of wonderment*] GAPE.
  • 85a. [Form*] TAKE SHAPE.
  • 87a. [Sub exits*] ESCAPE HATCHES.
  • 94a. [Table linen*] NAPERY.
  • 111a. [Roll around a painted area*] MASKING TAPE.
  • 113a. [Dulcimer’s silhouette*] TRAPEZOID. Interesting clue.

Admirably, or  let’s say responsibly, there are no other appearances of APE to be found elsewhere among the fill. Nor are there any specific apes or monkeys. The closest we come is 40d [TV’s “__ the Bear”] BJ AND, which ran from 1979 to 1981, wherein Bear was the name of itinerant crime-solving trucker Billy Joe’s cabmate chimpanzee. The show debuted a year after Every Which Way But Loose, featuring Clint Eastwood as an itinerant trucker whose truckmate was an orangutan named Clyde. Coincidence?

Also smack-dab from that era is 19a [Former Renault model] LE CAR, sold in this country from 1976 to 1983.

55a [Notion, across the ocean] IDÉE; 71a [One with a mortgage, e.g.] LIENEE. Incidentally, Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys is based on Chris Marker’s 1962 short film La Jetée.

73a [Author of “Presumed Innocent”] TUROW; 77a [Julia of “Presumed Innocent”] RAUL.

86a. [Wily fellow] SLY DOG; had SLY FOX first, which made 99a [“__ Ever” (Elvis song from “G.I. Blues”] the decidedly weird FIDJA rather than DIDJA.

63a [34th U.S. President] DDE; do not see also 55d [Mike’s candy partner] IKE.

Of the long non-theme fill, I really liked the symmetrical acrosses DREAM TEAM and METRONOME. The prevalence of plurals among the downs wearied me: LORETTAS, CANTEENS, TSARISTS, SPLEENS, PUSHOVERS.

Average puzzle, but the monkey-ape thing really irked me, probably more than the typical solver.

Jacob Stulberg’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “The Primrose Path” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 11/14/14 • "The Primrose Path" • Stulberg • solution

CHE • 11/14/14 • “The Primrose Path” • Stulberg • solution

14-across informs us, [With 68-Across, 20th-century opera that ends in Bedlam … or what the answers to the four stars depict] THE RAKE’S | PROGRESS. Nifty how the title breaks evenly into two seven-letter parts, ready for symmetrical grid placement. Curious that Igor Stavinsky’s opera (libretto by WH Auden and Chester Kallman) was invoked in the clue, rather than the series of eight pictures by William Hogarth upon which it is based. The 1951 opera was preceded by a ballet (1935) and a film (1945). Ah, I see now; Hogarth’s series uses the indefinite article, whose length is no good for the grid.

Based on the title and the revealer, it seems as if the theme should involve the letters RAKE progressing from left to right, relative to the grid as a whole. Instead, the quartet moves through the theme fill in a relative sense (2–5, 3–6, 4–7, 5–8), but zigzags in the absolute. My initial expectation was reinforced by the fact that RAKE from 14a occupies columns 4 through 7, and is immediately followed by the one in 19a, which runs from column 5 through 8.

  • 19a. [*Atlantic-Pacific connector in the Southern Hemisphere] DRAKE PASSAGE.
  • 32a. [*Groups of them are sometimes called “chatters”] PARAKEETS.
  • 45a. [*African city where pilgrims visit the Tombs of the Seven Saints] MARRAKESH. Rake’s Progress, Pilgrim’s Progress, whatever.
  • 58a. [*Coast guard?] PARKING BRAKE. Oh wait. In this answer the four letters go from position 9 to 12. Whoa, that’s a big skip from number 5. Never mind what I wrote in the explanation above.

So the theme in execution feels unpolished. Also, I find the parallel syntax of the puzzle’s title and the revealer’s title to be too close to be appealing.

  • Favorite clue: 4d [Resting place for boaters?] HAT RACK.
  • 11d [Leapers at kennels] FLEAS. Though of course kennels try to discourage their presence.
  • 20d [Highly magnetic celestial bodies] PULSARS. With the tail letters in place, went with QUASARS.
  • 66d [“Dulce et decorum __”] EST, meaning “It is sweet and honorable”, which neatly undermines the subject of the theme. A fitting way to end the crossword.

Enjoyed the fill and cluing throughout, but the theme leaves something to be desired. Okay crossword.

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51 Responses to Friday, November 14, 2014

  1. Art Shapiro says:

    That’s standard musical notation for “B flat”.

    I had a much higher opinion of the puzzle (and yesterday’s) than you. Maybe it grows on those of us who suffer a bit more than 6’09”!


  2. Mama Casserole says:

    NYT was a little hard to swallow but I managed to get it down.

  3. Bencoe says:

    I too was shocked by the dupe of “LETTER” in the grid, thinking it couldn’t possibly be correct. The only justification I can think of is that it goes with the “B” letter theme in the center, but I don’t buy it.

  4. ArtLvr says:

    Ah, come now — the Krozel NYT was fun. The grid looks like a hoop-skirted lady with hands in the air — maybe it’s our fussy fiend! Soap of a medicinal nature? Insubstantial inflatables? PRINCES most likely to succeed? I liked the whimsy.

  5. Martin says:

    Loved it!

    … but you knew that anyway

  6. Martin says:

    Amy FYI: Bb = B flat (just as B# = B sharp). The small “b” is just the “flat” symbol… as in Ab = A flat. It’s common musical notation, not just on scores but also in titles.


  7. David L says:

    I agree with your complaints about the repeat of LETTER, the not-in-the-language-ness of ROAM OFF, and the incorrect (as far as I can see) definition of TWITTERS (if I think of a person twittering, I think of someone prattling inanely). And I guessed the wrong vowel at LIA/LILAS.

    The clue for FTC — “what might break people’s trust” — falls into the too-cute category. Yeah, corporations are people these days, but still.

  8. Martin says:

    TWITTERS might not be everyone’s go-to definition of “Giggles”, but that definition is certainly not hard to find in the dictionary. Maybe some solvers don’t like the clue, but that still doesn’t make it inaccurate.


    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Which dictionary, Martin? I checked American Heritage, New Oxford American, and Merriam-Webster and came up dry.

      • Martin says:

        Random House 2, definition 3.

        (Also my iPhone app dictionary)


      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Martin emailed me a photo of def. 3 in a Random House dictionary and said it’s also in his iPhone’s dictionary app, though it’s certainly not in my Mac’s dictionary widget (based on New Oxford American).

        I still think using a more unfamiliar definition of a word for a clue is not great (unless you’re talking about the Newsday “Saturday Stumper,” where that’s par for the course). I honestly did check three different dictionaries and it wasn’t there! It’s ridiculous to comb through four or five different dictionaries to find a single definition.

      • Martin says:

        That’s odd, Amy. It’s in my MW11C and the on-line version.

        -Not that Martin

  9. Gary R says:

    I liked the NYT better than Amy did. There were several answers that made me smile – SciFi, Jeb, dogear, General Hospital.

    Thought the theme was kind of clever, but it took me an awfully long time to get the answers, even after I had a sense of what was going on – due in part to some wrong choices on downs that I held onto for a long time. I liked “zero” for 20-20, and my Cadillac was a deVille rather than a Seville from very early on (my Mom drove Sedan deVilles for many years, and they were around a lot longer than the Seville).

    Re: decade, I agree that it usually refers to a period of years, but growing up Catholic, I also remember the groupings of 10 beads on a rosary being referred to as decades, so I don’t have a problem with 36A.

    I ended up with two errors in the southwest, due to my limited grasp of Spanish and rules around word gender. Negro was my first thought for 41D, but I wasn’t sure if NYT sensibilities would allow that, even as a Spanish word (and my wife’s favorite beer is Negra Modelo – what’s up with that?). So I went with negra, and eso at 53D, which gave me arcos for 56A. Since I was already trying to think in Spanish, I figured arcos = arcs, and maybe in geometry a ray is a radius of an arc … oh, well!

    Over at, Mr. Shortz says he doesn’t worry about a repeat like LETTER as long as neither one is a complete answer. He says he thinks most solvers don’t mind, either – which I would tend to agree with. Until I started reading crossword blogs, and learned some of the constructing “rules,” I don’t think even two identical answers would have stood out to me as “bad.”

    • Bencoe says:

      He also said at least one of his test solvers objected to the duplication. I don’t mind a repeat of a word like “the” in a set of long theme answers, but the repeat of the long word LETTER in a themeless puzzle seems jarring to me. Maybe most solvers don’t mind–but there are probably a good deal of solvers who do.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      How convenient that Will doesn’t worry about that. A great many constructors and editors do work hard to root out any inadvertent dupes in the fill (and between the clues and fill), though, even with shorter duplications like UNDO and REDO (to name a recent example from my job that most solvers wouldn’t have noticed). “Solvers wouldn’t notice an asymmetrical grid either, but we still don’t do it,” said one colleague, before he edited the grid to remove one of the -DO words. “Do you really want ‘ever’ in this clue when EVER is part of the entry right above it?” asked another colleague. Will’s rules are certainly not universally adhered to—many of us prefer more rigor.

      • Bencoe says:

        Also, I don’t like that when these things are questioned, the response is, “Well, you’re a member of the solving/constructing elite. Regular people don’t care about such things.” This seems a bit patronizing to the “average” solver. And if the problem is that the solver is too experienced and knowledgeable to be able to ignore the flaws in a puzzle, the problem would seem to be with the puzzle and not the solver, as that response implies.

        • Martin says:

          Who are you quoting? Will merely said, “Most solvers don’t seem to mind.”

          Most solvers don’t seem to mind because most solvers don’t notice. I’m lunatic fringe and I didn’t notice. My wife is a casual solver and she didn’t notice.

          You noticed and it bothered you. I get that. I didn’t and I certainly don’t feel patronized.

          • Bencoe says:

            It just seems to me to be the implication, given that people usually respond with “most people don’t care” or “the average solver doesn’t care” when someone criticizes a puzzle’s flaws. I also have a problem when people presume to speak for “most solvers”. Is there anything beyond anecdotal evidence at work behind such generalizations?

          • Gareth says:

            We were taught in practice management a rule of thumb that if one person complains about something, a number of other people are also unhappy about it, but have decided to remain shtum and just (in that context) go somewhere else.

      • Gary R says:

        I guess I’ll wade into this one more time. Since I’ve been reading crossword blogs, I’ve learned about a variety of rules and/or guidelines for crossword construction.

        Some rules seem pretty obvious:
        – No unchecked letters – else it’s not a “cross”word.
        – No sections of the grid that don’t interlock with the rest of the puzzle – sort of like unchecked letters, at a higher level.

        Others seem to have more to do with the enjoyment of the solver and/or accessibility:
        – Words and phrases should be “in the language” – else it could turn into a guessing game.
        – Not too many non-English words or phrases (at least for US crosswords).
        – Not too many proper names, to keep an emphasis on knowledge of “the language” rather than popular culture (of one era or another).

        Still others seem to have to do with “artistry” or not letting constructors get lazy:
        – Grid symmetry.
        – No two-letter words – they’re just boring anyway.
        – Minimizing “cheater” squares.
        – Minimizing “partials” (thanks to Amy for her recent explication of partials vs. FITBs)

        But I still don’t quite grasp the purpose behind the rule/guideline on repeated words in the grid and/or clues, like today’s controversy over LETTER. I guess I could put it under the heading of not letting constructors get lazy, but from a solver’s perspective, I’m not sure why this particular sort of laziness matters to me.

        It seems a bit to me like the grammar rules about splitting infinitives and ending sentences with prepositions. I notice violations of those rules somewhat routinely in both written and spoken communication. I don’t find them “jarring,” and they don’t usually seem to impair my ability to understand the speaker’s/writer’s meaning – so are these rules I should care about?

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Gary, my take on it is that enough solvers have absorbed the “rules” that they are done a disservice by a puzzle that strays from those rules. “It can’t possibly be LETTERING, because LETTER is already in the puzzle.” Some of us hesitate to pencil in an answer that duplicates another, so it does interrupt the solving process.

          • Gary R says:

            Amy, I see your point. I guess the question is how many solvers have absorbed the rules to that degree, and whether that’s a large enough group that Mr. Shortz should adjust his editing standards (or just resign himself to being criticized about it from time to time in the crossword blogs).

        • pannonica says:

          Unlike language, which may be quite fluid, crosswords have a set of prescribed rules (and to a lesser extent guidelines) which are much more rigid. A crossword puzzle is an explicit artifact.

          Also, those two particular grammar “rules” aren’t really accepted. They themselves were an erstwhile attempt by shortsighted grammarians who tried to impose the behavior of Latin on English. It doesn’t work.

          • Gary R says:


            Perhaps I misunderstand how rigidly prescribed the grammar rules I mentioned were, or maybe I listened too closely to my 7th grade English teacher, but I was led to believe (45 years ago) that they were “the rules.”

            Mr. Shortz’s position on the appearance of dupes in crosswords (given that he is the editor of one of the most widely circulated crosswords around) seems to suggest that the rules are less prescribed than you believe.

            The larger question, which I didn’t ask in 7th grade, was “why?” Why is it wrong to split an infinitive? Why is it wrong to end a sentence with a preposition? Why is wrong to have dupes in a crossword?

            You indicate that the grammar rules I mentioned were an inappropriate attempt to impose Latin grammar on English – so the rules didn’t make sense. Can you offer a logical explanation as to why the crossword rule about dupes DOES make sense?

          • pannonica says:

            Because crosswords are a deliberately manufactured artifact, and benefit from the imposition of aesthetic constraints and assessments. It isn’t rigorously logical.

            I’d say the elimination of fill-fill and clue-fill duplication is more of a guideline than a rule. But to me (and many others) it’s certainly more aesthetically pleasing and satisfying not to have them.

          • Gary R says:


            “I’d say the elimination of fill-fill and clue-fill duplication is more of a guideline than a rule. But to me (and many others) it’s certainly more aesthetically pleasing and satisfying not to have them.”

            I believe we have both agreement and agreement-to-disagree – not a bad end to a Friday, I think.

            Happy weekend!

          • HH says:

            But aren’t rules made to be broken?

          • pannonica says:

            There might be some kind of rule about that.

        • Sarah says:

          RAISEDLETTERING, I’ll add, could make solvers think that somehow it and GENERALHOSPITAL are themed. Not a good idea.

          • Bencoe says:

            Let me say that I am far from being a strict grammarian…split infinitives and sentence-ending prepositions are fine with me. Likewise, I think I am far from the strictest crossword critic…I am ok with things that drive other people crazy.
            But, to me, it seems obvious that in a 15 x 15 grid you shouldn’t repeat the same 6 letter word. Why should it be ok? Crosswords are abut the love of wordplay, and repeating words subtracts from the love. Just sayin’.

    • Martin says:

      BTW, both Sevilles and deVilles were around until 2012, but the names were hidden in Cadillac’s current soulless product monikers. The Seville was called the STS (Seville Touring Sedan) and the deVille the DTS (deVille touring sedan). (The much maligned Opel-based Catera became the CTS. You might be able to figure out what that stands for.)

      Both STS and DTS were replaced in 2012 by the XTS, which is halfway between the two in size. Such fine names traded in for potentially lousy fill. So sad.

      • Gary R says:


        Never considered the possibility that the newer model designations were initialisms for the old models – interesting.

        I just figured Cadillac was following the lead of their “high-end” competitors – Jaguar, Mercedes, BMW, etc. – who all seem to use number/letter combinations rather than actual model names. And of course, “S” and “Z” are sexy letters in the world of marketing.

  10. Mr. Grumpy says:

    Re 25A in the CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Dot What?”:
    Brutus and his friends met in the Forum, not the Agora.

    • Donna L. says:

      Mr. Grumpy, you’re absolutely right. That was my error, and I’m appropriately embarrassed.


      • Mr. Grumpy says:

        Well, it IS an agora (lower case) in function and some Romans might well have called it that …. Yours was a very gracious response. Ave!

      • sandirhodes says:

        Well, I guess that’s definitive, so I can’t argue. But I would add that while I started to write FORUM, I stopped because I thought the wording of the clue might suggest AGORA, and in fact entered it sooner than later.

  11. Shawn P says:

    CrosSynergy/Washington Post: For me, this is 2 mentions of ORGANDY in 2 weeks! (It was in the WSJ last week.) I felt much better prepared for it this time.

  12. Sarah says:

    The NYT theme falls entirely flat for me, since the flat sign is not how I write a lowercase b. In addition, I don’t feel the 6 is close enough to a B, and it isn’t pronounced like b either.

    Fill is terrible. CESTA should be thrown into the fire and never appear again.

    • PuzzleCraig says:

      I don’t think CESTA is unreasonable, but it might have been easier to get if it had been clued as “basket used in jai alai”.

      • Sarah says:

        Of course! Jai alai is the most popular game in the world. So popular in fact, that one of the top Google results calls it “echoes of a dying game”.

  13. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Update on a clue in the Wednesday NYT puzzle: 20a. [Playwright who wrote “What is originality? Undetected plagiarism”] clues INGE, but it’s incorrect. Rex Parker passes along word that the William Inge responsible for that quote was an Englishman, Anglican priest and writer William Ralph Inge, and not the American playwright William Inge.

  14. TammyB says:

    WSJ 109A “Dulcimer’s silhouette” caught me because I put “hourglass.” Showing my southern roots, because a “dulcimer’ is the Appalachian instrument whereas the trapezoid shape is called a Hammered Dulcimer …no relation between the two BTW.

  15. Eliza says:

    I agree with Amy on many of the points raised about the NYT. The fill this week has been awful. It’s simply not okay to use a verb like twitter as a clue for “giggle,” when it is only supported by so few mainstream quotes. My entire extended family have had decades (meaning ten years at a time) to laugh at each other. The word “twitter” has never been used. It’s always been giggle, laugh, titter.

    There is, I would like to think, no such verb as to aah, and no past tense of that verb. Aahed? Really?

    I have oohed and aahed at babies and puppies, but I’ve never just aahed. Or oohed. To “ooh and aah” is an expression. To have aahed is just baahed.

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