As I Lay Dying father / THU 1-17-13 / Midsize moon of Saturn / Dweller on Straits of Johor / Antarctic body named for Englishman / Battle of Fort Brooke locale 1863 / Automaton of Jewish folklore / City intersected by I-76 I-77

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Constructor: Milo Beckman

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging


THEME: MIND THE [GAP] (62A: Tube warning ... or an apt title for this puzzle?) — the word "GAP" appears in what should be gaps between one side of the grid and the other

Word of the Day: TETHYS (4D: Midsize moon of Saturn) —
In Greek mythologyTethys (Ancient GreekΤηθύς), daughter of Uranus and Gaia[1] was an archaic Titaness and aquatic sea goddess, invoked in classical Greek poetry, but not venerated in cult. Tethys was both sister and wife of Oceanus.[2] She was mother of the chief rivers of the world known to the Greeks, such as the Nile, the Alpheus, the Maeander, and about three thousand daughters called the Oceanids.[3] Considered as an embodiment of the waters of the world she also may be seen as a counterpart of Thalassa, the embodiment of the sea. [...] Tethys, a moon of the planet Saturn, and the prehistoric Tethys Ocean are named after this goddess. (wikipedia)
• • •

I like this puzzle but I *imagine* the GAP squares were black in the newspaper (is that true?). We got this big NOTE in AcrossLite (.puz) saying "This puzzle features elements that cannot be duplicated in electronic formats. We strongly suggest using the PDF file instead," so I  printed out the PDF version ... and it looked just like the grid in AcrossLite. I just solved it as a rebus (i.e. as it appears in the grid, except actually I left the GAP squares blank ... but the puzzle didn't accept that, so then I just put in "G"s and bam, done). Turns out "Print Puzzle" at the NYT site is Not the same as PDF, which is a separate, hard-to-see link ... No idea why the "Print Puzzle" option doesn't just print a .pdf, or in this case why the "Print Puzzle" option didn't give me the *proper* grid. Ugh. The tech on that site continues to be terrible and un-user-friendly. So the upshot of my experience is annoyance at the NYT for even offering the patently useless (today) "Print Puzzle" option. Now that I've seen what the puzzle is supposed to look like (actually two separate grids with empty space where the eighth column would normally be), I'm more impressed. Puzzle was probably easier if you saw it in this format, as the GAP is much, much more obvious. I picked it up at THE BIG APPLE, once I had the -PLE in place. After that, the theme answers were pretty easy, though the rest cluing and fill remained tough throughout. This was especially true in the NW—TETHYS next to ANSE (5D: "As I Lay Dying" father) is going to destroy some people. Those are not what you would call household names. I knew ANSE because, well, I know far too much crosswordese, but I was not at all sure about TETHYS. It's not like the awkward RAT-TAT (?) was much help in picking up that initial "T" in TETHYS. Other areas of the grid posed problems, but none were back-breaking.

Theme answers:
  • 19A: Locational nickname with origins in horse racing (THE BIG APPLE)
  • 32A: Noted series of paintings by Andrew Wyeth (HELGA PICTURES) — I love this answer, though I would've called them the Helga Paintings ... I mean, the "P" in GAP made "PICTURES" an easy guess, but the exact phrasing here was new to me.
  • 39A: Preparing to be shot, say (STRIKING A POSE)
  • 49A: Dweller on the Straits of Johor (SINGAPOREAN) — whoa. Funny-looking word. Got it by inference. 
The biggest strike against this puzzle is the duplication of TEA. Repetition of a specific noun like that (as opposed to repetition of, say, THE, which also happens in this puzzle) is very, very rare, largely because it's considered very, very bad form. Totally screwed me up in the NW, at least for a bit, because I refused to believe the puzzle would serve up two TEAs. Eventually, when there were no other options but TEA, I caved and wrote it in.

Bullets:
  • 24A: Antarctic body named for an Englishman (ROSS SEA) — triple-S score! I think I learned about this sea while constructing a puzzle one time. Lots of very, very useful letters. 
  • 42A: Medical subject of Time magazine covers of 1967 and 2010 (THE PILL) — great clue and answer. Not sure what the '67 cover was for, but the '10 cover was for the 50th anniversary of THE PILL's approval for use in the U.S.
  • 11D: Battle of Fort Brooke locale, 1863 (TAMPA) — No idea. None. I didn't know anything important ever happened in TAMPA, or all of Florida, for that matter. Doesn't seem like a real place. No offense, Florida.
  • 22D: Food with an inedible center? (DONUT) — yeah, that's good.
  • 44D: Automaton of Jewish folklore (GOLEM) — there's a silent movie from 1920 called "The GOLEM" that's in my Netflix queue ... along with a thousand other movies that I haven't yet watched. 
  • 46D: City intersected by I-76 and I-77 (AKRON) — needed the "K" to get this. Without "K," ???? With "K," easy.
  • 50D: Architect ___ Ming Pei (IOEH) — Smugly thought, "HA, I know this," and then wrote in YEOH ... despite the fact that that would make him Y. M. PEI. D'oh!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

93 comments:

Anonymous 12:25 AM  

Well, after that writeup I guess no one's going to take me up on the bet that in the dead tree version all the gaps were solid blacks.

I'd of had a better chance of getting RATTAT if the clue were "Ink on a Muroid" I don't know what a Muroid is, but RAT___ meant nothing to me without the A in the middle.

One TEA a day is more than enough for me.

PK 12:33 AM  

So I printed out the acrosslite version like I always do... to solve on paper, not in acrosslite... I just leave the acrosslite version up on my screen in case I need to cheat...but then there was this Big Red Flag Note thing that said I needed to get the .pdf...so I did that and then there was this obvious big gap(p)ing hole in the middle of the puzzle, and some answers spanned the gap and some didn't, so the rebus (c'mon, it's Thursday) became quite apparent. Thanks Big Red Flag Note Writers.

Other than that, what Rex said - especially about the Tethys moon. I wonder how you pronounce that?

Anonymous 12:35 AM  

The 'tech' problem is very real, and long standing. But frankly, I lay it at the feet of Shortz. When nobody is responsible for seeing that things are done the best that they can be done, one should expect the worst - which we get once again. Which is why my subscription will be allowed to lapse; not a knee-jerk decision, but one based on finding lower standards than ever after coming back from a break from the NYT - and then getting the 'upgrade' that didn't upgrade anything so far as I can tell.

Nice gimmick, but the price was too high. In the end, nice gimmick but not especially impressed.

I did not mind ICED TEA and TEA TASTER, though the latter is pretty woeful for a long entry. I know that lots of people will go nuts over the two-timing TEA thing.

Didn't know ANSE or TETHYS and took FOREVER to believe that RATTAT could possibly be an actual entry.

Took a -1 because I SEE NOW was the only option that I didn't come up with. F.... Went with I SEE hOW.

HOT DAMN was nice, and I noted some nice clues, but . . . meh.



thursdaysd 12:40 AM  

I solve on an iPad, since I often solve while traveling (recently got back from two months in South America). Luckily I didn't need the PDF to figure out the GAP, but anyone have a clue as to how I would get the PDF if I DID need it?

Evan 12:45 AM  

@Rex and @thursdaysd:

I solve on paper on Thursdays-Sundays, and I've had no trouble getting the PDFs from the puzzle archive below the Latest Puzzles tab. The link to today's puzzle wasn't posted on the archive at 10:30 pm ET when I went to solve, but even in that situation you can still get it. Just right-click on the PDF link for another day, copy and paste the link location into a new browser tab, then change the day to reflect today's date. For instance, you would simply change this:

http://select.nytimes.com/premium/xword/2013/01/16/Jan1613.pdf

to this:

http://select.nytimes.com/premium/xword/2013/01/17/Jan1713.pdf

I know that's more hassle than I'd prefer -- they should just put a link to the PDF on the home puzzle page -- but it's at least an easy solution.

syndy 12:48 AM  

I clicked on the PDF in the note on the NYTP site and it whisked me to a sight of the Puzzle-as-a-deadtree.Then I went back to acrosslight and rebussed my gaps.I liked HOTDAMN and BEESWAX not so much RATTAT or SINGAPOREAN.I got the AKRON off the A Whatelse could it be?I've been to TAMPA it's very Dampa

Amy Khoudari 1:11 AM  

Got the big apple from the crosses, but I don't understand the cluing. Does the nickname of New York have something to do with horse racing?am I missing something?

thursdaysd 1:25 AM  

@Evan - solving on the iPad means I bought the app, I don' t have a subscription and can't access the crossword on the website.

jae 1:29 AM  

HOT DAMN this was tough.  I ended up staring at RAT_AT refusing to believe in the T.  TETHYS was a huge WOE.   I mean it's RATATAT, right?  Other than that a splendid tricky Thurs. (even though the TEAs also through me off).  And, it didn't stop being tough even after I caught the trick.  Wanted OREANS to be residents of some part of Korea.  

Davis 1:31 AM  

Is there a way to get the PDF for those of us who use the Magmic app, rather than having direct NYT subscriptions? The app gave me the note about printing the PDF, but gave no indication as to where I could get it.

Anyway, I'm not sure how to rate this puzzle, not having seen it in its intended form. But the grid was mostly smooth sailing (perhaps because the electronic version made it easier to get the GAP theme). I knew TETHSY, but I did get roughed up by ANSE — I SEE hOW seemed to make perfect sense, and AhSE was as believable of a weird name as ANSE.

Some good stuff in there—HOT DAMN, BEESWAX—but most of the fill seemed workmanlike.

End result: a somewhat slow time for me, consonant with Rex's evaluation of the difficulty level. But an a reasonably enjoyable solving experience.

Carola 1:36 AM  

Very clever theme, found it very fun to solve. Got the theme with STRIKING A POSE; that got me the HELGA PICTURES (I remembered the scandal of their discovery) and THE BIG APPLE, as well as the MIND THE GAP reveal. Had to reject the unlikely volGAP.... and tonGAP... before I hit on SINGAPOREAN.

Many pleasures to savor. Loved the fit of the HELGA PICTURES with STRIKING A POSE and the nice big-city mirroring of THE BIG APPLE with the SINGAPOREAN. Also, I SEE NOW over BEATS ME, ICED TEA over HOT DAMN and the crossing of two folklore menaces, the GOLEM and the LORELEI.

BEATS ME really fit that NW corner for me. Even with TETHYS in place, thought I was looking at a DNF. Could not think of a three-letter TASTER; no idea about the Faulkner father. Finally wrote in a very hesitant RATTAT and was able to finish. Oh - solved in AcrossLite but had the PDF open as well - helped me appreciate the GAP.

@lawprof -
Remember the "CAREEN" v. "CAREEr" discussion? Today my daughter took me out for a spin in my wheelchair, and on a downward slope, being extra careful to keep a tight grip, she said, "I don't want to send you careen-... careering into the street," Gave me a little smile, as this isn't something we've ever discussed.

Evan 1:45 AM  

The idea for the puzzle was nice, and some of the fill entries are real winners (HOT DAMN, I SEE NOW, BEATS ME, THE PILL, and BEESWAX). But even though I like I SEE NOW and BEATS ME, that northwest corner needed to be stripped out and rebuilt. Seriously, RAT-TAT at 1-Across is awful, and crossing it with TETHYS and ANSE makes it even worse. It's not like TEA TASTER improves that section either.

Actually, I gave Crossword Compiler a shot to see if it could clean up that part of the grid, and here's what it produced with the AutoFill. The theme answers are preserved exactly where they are. The puzzle certainly has a clever theme and I commend Milo for devising it, but I think this auto-filled northwest section would have been much better.

And I finally got another shot at IEOH! I haven't forgotten it ever since it smacked me at the ACPT last year.

Evan 1:46 AM  

@thursdaysd:

Ah, sorry about that. I don't own an iPad and thus have little idea how it works.

JackLee 3:58 AM  

As a SINGAPOREAN I was chuffed my country was mentioned in the NYT crossword! Tough one, though. Someone explain 40A (DOL) to me?

Annee Coal Mindthegaps 4:01 AM  

Agree with all that NW needed one more try bec yes, to me, that two TEA thing was unforgivable!
I WOULD NOT put in the TEA of TEATASTER bec of ICEDTEA :(

Agree with @Evan RATTAT/ASE/TETHYS/ANSE needed to be rebuilt.

But the theme was magnificent...
I would think it very hard for anyone who has not been to London and heard MINDTHEGAP 20 times.

(Oooh weird, (EERIE?!) someone just said "Who's gonna fill THE GAP in my life" on the TV I left on in the background, some show I don't watch, "King of Queens", as I was typing that sentence!!!!)

SINGAPOREAN made me smile, bec I saw AMSTERDAM referred to as AM-DAM on someone's fb page so immediately posted to Puzzle Pals asking them to name a country whose first two letters were the same as the last two, in order!

After many joke answers (ARmeniAR, GOnGO, EAst Papua New GuinEA), the genius Trip Payne posted a real one...REpublic of SingapoRE...
at which point I came to the horrible realization that AMsterdAM isn't actually a country!!!!!
(sorry @Mac!)

Didn't understand the LORELEI ref...and had a malapop, sorta, as thinking 15D "Chinese Dynasty .." might be pEI...only to have IEOH Ming Pei show up at 50D.

Other big mistake was vARSity for OARSMAN and having tIp be the thing to be divvied up...too many years as a waitress.
Oh wait, I've never been a waitress!

acme 4:04 AM  

@Jack Lee (In case no one else is up)
DOL is for the Australian DOLLAR, that kind of capital!

My captcha is funckyo...but I'm going to QTIP

Nicholas G 4:48 AM  

This was impossible even after reading Rex. LORELEI? RELIEVE?

C. Ross Word 4:58 AM  

First DNF in a long while thanks to that brutal NW corner; agree with Rex and the earlier commentors! Wanted ISEEyOu at 14A leaving me the the non- existent uEI Dynasty (shout out to M&A).

@acme Had a similar EERIE experience years ago: As a hobby, I periodically update my listing of 100 favorite rock songs (nerd alert); in keeping with tradition, I would then read the list in inverse order (from 100 to 1) to my wife (who indulged me in this behavior by managing to demonstrate interest as the "suspense" mounted as I worked up the list to number 1, which was always "Fire And Rain" by James Taylor). On this occasion, I awoke her from a dead sleep and at the instant I reached number 10 on the list ("Homeward Bound" by Simon & Garfunkel) the song came on TV which was tuned to some random non-music related show in the background. Still gives me goosebumps.

loren muse smith 5:56 AM  

Like @Acme, I just flat refused to finish the NW with its second TEA. I just figured I had seriously mucked up some stuff and chalked it up to another DNF. I didn’t “mind” so much the I SEE NOW and SEES TO, though.

HOT DAMN and the clue for DONUT (a first, I think, @jackj?) were worth the effort here, and for me this was on the *what the $%%$##??* (sorry, ED – call me a sissy swear word softie) side of challenging.

@jae – I was going for kOREAN there, too.

@Carola – ganz toll on all your connections!

@C. Ross Word – I had “I see you” first there, too. EERIE “Homeward Bound” story.

Terrific theme, Milo. I’ve been to London only a couple of times, but I got the trick early enough and really admired the idea!

Doris 7:04 AM  

@Annee Coal Mindthegaps:

In German folklore, the Lorelei—in the Rhine river instead of on the sea—lures, as do the Sirens in Greek myth, sailors to their doom, crashing on rocks, etc.

Very famous poem and songs about her: "Die Lorelei"!

Gill I. P. 7:36 AM  

Well, yes, TETHYS got me good because Sommelier wouldn't give up the drink.
Wanted to fit in Christina's World knowing this was a rebus. Drove me nuts until HELGA appeared. I love Wyeth and know all of his HOT DAMN work.
Never heard of BALS and SHAKY just looks wrong.
GUEVARA as clued was a bit of a stretch. Sheesh.. Still, I really liked a lot of the words.
My sister would go around saying "mind your own BEESWAX" all the time because it sounded so authoritative. She didn't even know what it meant but she liked the sound it made.....

Z 7:56 AM  

I feel a little redemption since TETHYS and LORELEI went in without trouble. Unfortunately, my knock on wood was KNOTTY. Along with I SEE you made the NW pretty much unsolvable for me. That gave me the unlikely oenTASTER - seems I needed to orient myself a little better in that corner.

The paper is much more visually arresting than the grid Rex has posted. I left the gap blank - I wouldn't want a train to run over my words after all. That most answers don't bridge the (GAP) made me slow down to insure I wasn't missing something. I was on my third pass through the puzzle before MIND THE (GAP) and HEL(GA P)- finally clicked. I still tried for portraits before settling on HEL(GA P)ICTURES.

A mostly great puzzle brought down a peg or two by that NW corner.

Z 7:59 AM  

And who knows Wyeth's dad's name? A name that lives on in Rexworld infamy...

MetaRex 8:06 AM  

Great! Bravo!! Bravissimo!!!

Yes to THE BIG APPLE (and to the clue)! Yes to HELGA PICTURES! Yes to STRIKING A POSE! Yes to SINGAPOREAN (the weakest of the lot, but great for me since I was just there--I had some subconscious sense about the Straits of Johor and originally filled in MALAYSIAN)! Yes to the very pretty and also punchy, smack-at-you reveal!

More at Caramba

Susan McConnell 8:24 AM  

As others have said, fun, fine theme, but that NW corner is disappointing. RATTAT is bad enough but for it to be at 1Across is just...YUCK!

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

The printed copy in the NY Times paper shows to distinct puzzles 7 across each, separated by a blank gap along the vertical.

jberg 8:52 AM  

DAMN, but not so HOT! Finished with an error - I SEE yOu. Not being up on my Chinese dynasties, uEI seemed just as good as WEI - especially since they'd be the same in Chinese characters.

I got the theme, finally, at SINGAPOREAN. I had confused the Saturnian satellite with a misspelled video game, so I had TETrYS, leading me to think that the locational nickname must be something like Tribeca, but invoking the concept of trifecta. Then I saw SINGAPOREAN, and the scales fell from my eyes.

I can't decide whether the clue for 46D, "City intersected by I-76 and I-77," was a dilution of the theme or a legitimate misdirection. It sent me looking for something about twin cities, one, neatly divided between the left and the right grids.

evil doug 9:10 AM  

Missed the train and fell in the gap a la ACME, Loren, et al, when I was sure 'tea' couldn't be the taste test, and 'rattat' couldn't be right without another (ahem) a-hole in there. Also no idea on Anse, Tethys or Wei. So Idaho mashed me.

Thought Helga had a last name. 'Pictures' never crossed my crossword.

Kinda would have liked the 'gaps' to have a little more symmetry---say, across the top border---but at least it was obvious where they had to go in spite of the blank line in my dead tree edition.

Evil

jackj 9:30 AM  

An aggressive show of imagination from Young Turk, Milo Beckman.

Constructing aficionados will likely deem it a “tour de force” but, though the theme entries fell easily after the gimmick was determined, the fill was a bit Jekyll and Hyde-ish for this unwitting solver.

Things started hesitatingly when the reference to horse racing proved a mega-clever misdirection in the THEBI(GAP)PLE clue and it was enough to send me looking elsewhere for the puzzle’s trick.

Since I knew the answer for the Wyeth paintings to be HELGAPICTURES the logical thing was to assume that the answer was HELGA(PICT)URES, the PICT being the puzzle’s rebus entry. Holy moley, Milo!

But, for graphic accommodations like the top-to-bottom split at row 8, attention must be paid and when one has wondered for an inordinate amount of time why that GAP is there, 2+2 finally makes 4 and, with head slaps galore, the rebus joins the play. (It would have been easier to skip down to the reveal but that cheapens the pleasure of the solve).

The fill was exquisite at times, BEESWAX, LORELEI, TOMB, BEATSME, HOTDAMN to name a few but totally frustrating at other times, TETHYS, ANSE, IEOH, BALE, WEI and ANNEE being some of the troubling posers.

Forgive the strained analogy but this puzzle was like climbing Yosemite’s Half Dome; you’re glad you did it but you wouldn’t ever want to do it again.

Congratulations, Milo; it was beyond clever!

Milford 9:38 AM  

@thursdaysd - I solve with the app, and I had the same question about how I was supposed to access a pdf version. I do remember there being another puzzle a few months ago that they suggested printing (I can't remember the theme), where Magmic did post a link to the pdf in the notes. Why they didn't do that this time, I have no clue. I wish they had just offered the grid with the missing GAP squares black so that we could have enjoyed the visual, and I think many would have still figured it out.

Liked the idea and most of the puzzle was fairly easy with fun clues, but I DNF by having to google TETHYS and ANSE. Had I SEE you at first, also. BEESWAX was great, and the whole SW corner was fun to unravel to get the theme. Parents are big Wyeth fans, so I knew of HELGA and her PICTURES.

Didn't notice the double TEA, but I did like ICED TEA over HOT DAMN.

Maybe in the future constructors can choose TE'O over TEA, now that he's back in the news...

jackj 9:40 AM  

@loren muse smith-

The cleverly clued DONUT has appeared 19 times during the Shortz era. The last time it was used was on Thursday 3/29/12 by someone named Milo Beckman (with a different clue).

Norm 9:48 AM  

Interesting. Strikes me that the pdf might have played a little harder, since you had to spot the rows where the right-hand grid did not a have a numbered clue, while the AcrossLite version showed very clearly which rows crossed the GAP. Was disappointed that there was an asymmetry, with a GAP in the bottom row but not the top, but maybe that's just one of my quirks -- and maybe you can excuse it since it's the revealer? Plus, I have to admit, I've seen that sign so many times on the tube that it made me smile. All in all, this might have been one of my favorite Thursdays in a long time.

retired_chemist 9:56 AM  

Same here re the two flavors of TEA. Got that part of 3D totally by crosses since I refused to believe it.

@ jberg - I don't even see misdirection in the clue for AKRON. Got it from A_ _O_. If you more or less know either route, or even if you have grokked the Interstate numbering system (yes, there is one) it is an obvious answer. At one time, had ORB for 48A and thought about TEA being right and there being a passel of 3 letter duplicates. Not.....

What was the problem that could not be duplicated online? It was fine in AL. Printed it out, saw no difference in the grids, and solved in AL.

Time was longish for a Thursday so I agree with medium-challenging. TETHYS, ANSE, and the dubitable TEA made the NW snarky for a while. ALSO had *OREAN @ 49A and tried to force KOREAN, which gave me some weird possibilities for the rebus. BLIP @ 23D messed up the mid-Atlantic. ISO instead of EXO @ 59A, ditto to the SE.

Overall, lots of good clues and fun answers. So, thumbs up, Mr. Beckman. Thanks.

chefbea 10:00 AM  

My print out looked like 2 puzzles. Got the southwest and saw mind the... and knew the theme. but the rest was too difficult for me . Couldnt finish.

Tea for Two 10:04 AM  

I believe it's essential to occasionally have a word like "tea" appear twice in a puzzle just to throw off the crossword puzzle police!

Each day the Times posts two different versions of the day's paper. Probably most are unaware that it publishes a "Replica Edition" which is an exact copy of the paper version. Those of you whose subscriptions give you access to the Replica Edition can easily view today's puzzle by going to that posting. It is easy to print to out.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Wonder about the unfortunate timing of this puzzle, given the 2 accidents in the subway

retired_chemist 10:09 AM  

thursdaysd's issue was what to do with a pdf on an iPad. iPads will (I think) display pdf files easily but they will be graphics only. No way to fill them in unless you have the app to connect it to a printer and the printer to connect it to.

Sir Hillary 10:16 AM  

I solve in the newspaper itself, so was helped by seeing the empty center column. I was also helped by where I used to live...my Cleveland days familiarized me with AKRON and Ohio interstates...while my central London commuter days have left MINDTHEGAP ringing in my ears even 18 years later.

Once I had MINDTHEGAP, I had the theme, which obviously helped tons. Funny though -- while the locations of the three uppermost theme entries were apparent by the lack of numbers in what looked like starting squares, I initially missed the fourth one because there was a 52 in the starting square. I was all ready to come here and bemoan the lack of theme symmetry...until late in the game when I realized the 52 was for the down answer only. Doh!

Like most here, I found the NW corner to be hard and pretty ugly. Especially RATTAT -- the T at square 4 was the last to go in. Thank goodness "As I Lay Dying" is my favorite by Faulkner -- Anse Bundren is one of his oddest characters.

Overall though, despite the NW, I really like this puzzle. There are so few original ideas these days, and this feels like it was one. Great job and thanks, Milo!

Tita 10:23 AM  

Took me so long to solve this one that I had no recollection of the earlier TEA when trying to figure out what possible kind of TASTER it could be - TEATASTER seems pretty arbitrary.

The THEs don't bother me one IOTA, because they are key to the phrases.

Overall, very clever.
Liked LORELEI, BEESWAX, inedible clue, never knew the origin of THEBIGAPPLE.

For a while wanted gReaSE for Encomium, confusing it with Cosmolene, which is still used on some cars to protect them from corrosion during shipping.
(I know this because I got some on my pants when inspecting my friend's new Mini Cooper.)

ISEEyOu caused my DNF in NW. Same rational as @jberg.

@thursdays - on my Android tablet I went to the crossword page, then from the browser did a "Request Desktop Site, then could see the option for PDF. But you need a subscription to do that - Catch 22?

New GOLEM, though not the spelling, from having lived briefly in Prague, and a friend who created a miniature one as an addition to our Presepio...

HOTDAMN this was fun!

Oh - except for the reminder of IEOH, the bane of my ACPT showing last year!

And for the record, the electronic version did make the solve easier, as @Norm said.

Lindsay 10:23 AM  

I know I've already done a "mind the gap" puzzle. Recently. Am I the only one? Can't remember where. Maybe Jonesin'?

Anyway, opened the newspaper (with real gap) and groaned at the obvious rerun, but started feeling better after running into HELGA STRIKING A POSE (@Z, of course the answer to your question is "N").

Did not enjoy the NW: RATTAT is lame, and WEI, ANSE & TETHYS mysteries. Lucky guesses saw me through.

thursdaysd 10:34 AM  

@Tita - yes, since I don't have a subscription I can't access anything on the crossword page (aside from Wordplay). For some crazy reason you can't subscribe to the desktop version and still access from an iPad, you have to pay for the app separately or in addition. Since I want to do the crossword while I'm traveling I have to go with the app. (I'm certainly not going to pay twice!) But there are times, like this, when I feel like a poor relation.

Lindsay 10:43 AM  

Just nipped over to Crossword Fiend. She remembers the puzzle too. It was Jonesin'.

joho 10:46 AM  

At first I was going to comment that the puzzle was too clever by half -- literally -- when I saw the pdf grid ... what with all the steps I had to take to print it out right. But when done I really admired and loved the theme.

The double TEA, though, and the NW corner were dreadful.

Still, quite a feat, Milo!

Two Ponies 10:58 AM  

Big fat DNF.
Too many things I simply had no idea about. Menu clue, encomium, lace, bitcoins, moon, etc.
Loved hot damn and beeswax.

John V 11:02 AM  

Got killed. Got the theme at BIGAPPLE and the revealer. But way, way too much crossword-ese to list.

Neat concept; neat seeing the big white gap run top to bottom. Did not work for me.

Rob C 11:55 AM  

@LMS and jackj
DONUT has indeed been used 19 times as jackj states, but today is the first time it's been clued with "inedible center" - clever! I think that's what you were asking(?)

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Great puzzle, but the NW was unfair. I got the theme at STRIKING A POSE. Thought RATTAT (ridiculous answer!)was ROTGUT, though I didn't know why. Solved on paper, am a Luddite, and don't know what any of the techno-complaints were about!

obertb 12:38 PM  

Can't for the life of me see why the NYT thought this was anything other than a simple rebus. All the fuss with the warning note, etc. Stupido.
I solved it in AcrossLite without a hitch, as I suppose anyone would have done had it not been for the distraction of the note.

Loved seeing Anse in the puzzle; big fan of Faulkner.

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

I didn't like the lack of symmetry. Shouldn't there be a theme entry in the top line, as there is in the bottom? Am I missing something? Seemed sloppy to me.
I also hated the NW, especially RATTAT. That's the worst entry I've seen in a while.
Subscribe to the NYT!

Bob Kerfuffle 1:03 PM  

Liked the puzzle, despite having finished incorrectly with the popular ISEEYOU.

But with all the focus on the two TEAs, surprised that no one has nitpicked regarding the clue, "One encouraged to drink on the job." I have always believed that professional TEATASTERs followed the taste and spit routine; they would not actually drink. (Or am I wrong?)

syndy 1:33 PM  

@BOBKERFUFFLE yes according to WIKI it's sip and spit. Now I'm wondering since in the DT version it's two separate untouching puzzles and each Tea is in a separate puzzle...? I did write over Iceberg by LORELEI but the GOLEM fixed that! Never been to London-oh?THAT gap.

Joseph B 1:44 PM  

Weird that the PDF is not available in the "Play" pop-up. I never thought to go to the archive.

Rube 1:46 PM  

Had a roommate, (40 years ago), who met a Tetley TEA TASTER on a flight back from London. He couldn't stop talking about the job title. Obviously it's stuck with me and I filled in that answer without even thinking. Also, TETHYS sea/ocean, (and it's namesake), is a term familiar to geologists -- thus gettable with just a few crosses.

In short, the only problems in the NW for me were the execrable RATTAT and wanting, like others, ISEEyOu.

Started this last night with an AcrossLite printout where the "GAP"s were white squares. In the dead tree version this morning the entire 8th column is blank, thus preserving the symmetry of the printed grid, (if not the filled-in grid).

IEOH Ming Pei?? Guess I'll have to go to an ACPT so I can remember being dumbfounded by something like this. I put in the "I" and waited for the crosses.

However, had 4 cheats so DNF.

Joseph B 1:56 PM  

I can see wine taster, but TEATASTER?

I mean, I'm sure Manischewitz has matzo tasters, but I don't expect to see them in a puzzle.

jazzmanchgo 2:06 PM  

Okay, so I'm stupid. Can someone please explain to me what "MIND THE GAP" means, and why it would appear on a tube?

Tita 2:15 PM  

@jazz...think Tube as what the Brits call their subways...
As in the picture on Rex's post, there are signs everywhere, and they also verbally warn you, ever-so-politely, of course, to MINDTHEGAP as you board.

Davis 2:16 PM  

@retired_chemist: thursdaysd's issue isn't about using a pdf on an ipad; it's about getting the pdf in the first place. Those of us who use the NYTimes Crossword app (made and sold by Magmic, not the NYT) buy our subscriptions through the app, not through the NYT website. That subscription doesn't give us access to the NYT online site, so we have no way of getting to the pdf versions of the crosswords.

Last time there was a puzzle that didn't display nicely, Magmic provided a link we could follow to get a PDF in the puzzle notes. This time they again told us in the notes to do the PDF, but didn't give a link.

retired_chemist 2:19 PM  

@ jazzmanchgo -

The London Underground (AKA The Tube)is notorious for having a gap between the platform and the train.

K. Middleton 2:20 PM  

@jazzmanchgo - . . . the GAP being the space between the edge of the platform and the entry into the tube train.

OISK 2:26 PM  

I get the Times delivered, so no problem with the format. Really liked this puzzle - clever theme, tougher than average but doable for me, despite not knowing Tethys, or Anse, and not loving Rattat. And then, on coming here, I found that I had missed one square! I didn't know what "encomium" means. And for "Medical Subject" I imagined that TIME was commenting on the cost of medicine, so I had "THE BILL." This gave me Braise instead of Praise going down, but I stubbornly left it that way. No encomium for me.
Good Thursday puzzle!

Tita 2:58 PM  

Ha - @OISK - your encomium story is better than mine - I'm adding it to my Epic Wrong Answer Hall of Fame. Thanks!

Reminds me - there is another gem from @Lorn to add there - she is going to need her own page soon...

BTW - everyone should feel free to add their own in the comments section on that page...

3 & out

Lewis 3:19 PM  

Clever theme and construction, but too many answers that were out of my wheelhouse. I had to Google. I loved the clue for DONUT -- maybe my favorite piece of the entire puzzle. Will file ANSE in my memory, and learned what bitcoins are. The puzzle gave me a nice aha, but for me, it wasn't worth the trek through the unknown.

loren muse smith 3:49 PM  

@Rob C (and @jackj) - Thanks for the clarification. That's what I meant - the first time DONUT has been clued that way. Great clue, Milo!

@Tita - Thanks again for maintaining the Hall of Fame. You updated my proudest goof: "Dr Suess" for DRACULA. Good times!

Didn't like it 3:52 PM  

Puzzle was one big W-T-F. Too much obscure crap and Friday-Saturday cluing to make this enjoyable and solvable. I thought I had 19A and 39A, but I could not discover the gimmick. I call foul as we don't use the Tube in New York (I was thinking burst pressure on a piece of plumnbing). Maybe if the clue was Mass Transit Warning or something I would have had a chance. I probably should have gotten the answer anyway because I bought a couple of souvenir mugs at Heathrow that say, "Mind the gap".

Why aren't the non-GAP spaces in the dead tree version black?

The esteemed Indy 500 is defined as a simple CAR RACE?
Who's this HELGA and why are her PICTURES famous?
What is a LORELEI?
Encomium?!
RATTAT?!
TETHYS?

PFFT.

sanfranman59 4:06 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Thu 25:03, 17:05, 1.47, 95%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 16:37, 9:37, 1.73, 99%, Challenging

Since solvers were encouraged not to solve this puzzle online, I don't particular trust that the solve time posted on the website are representative. But I will say that I found this puzzle to be a real bear, so I take some solace in the ratings falling at the extreme Challenging end of the scale. Like Rex, I printed out the puzzle using the 'Print puzzle' link thinking that I would end up with something that looked like the dead-tree version. Silly me. The result was my second Thursday DNF in three weeks. I've only had a handful of others since I began tracking my solve times in June 2009. At least I learned something new about the origin of NYC's nickname. Next please!

Qvart 4:49 PM  

Well, I took the advice of AcrossLite and printed the puzzle at work and waited till I got home to tackle it. The NE and SE went down fairly easily. The SW was a little more medium-ish and I got the theme fairly quickly. The NW, however, felt like I was in Saturday-land. Could not get 1A to save my life. Fun, but grrrrr!

About 40 minutes before I declared DNF

LAT - 10:58

Notsofast 5:00 PM  

DNF due to the naticks and inelegance of the NW. "RATTAT" is just plain stupid. The rest of the grid was fun. C.

Masked and Anonymo2Us 6:02 PM  

This puz fought us fang and spike at our house. (Primo huge step up from tooth and nail.) Things got especially ugly in the NW and SW, like for most kindred spirits here. Finished, even tho MINDTHEGAP might better been clued: "What some store managers do." Thought maybe puz was talkin' about "tube" socks.

thUmbsUp, mainly for the theme idea and HOTDAMN. No fingernails on the thUmbs, tho. They was RATAT-ted plumb off. So watch it, Milo dude.

Joe The Juggler 6:03 PM  

I got the bottom-most GAP first, but before getting "SHOOT THE GAP", I was sort of expecting synonyms for GAP across the gap: chasm, space, etc. Once I saw they were all GAPs, it became quite a bit easier.

olderbutnosmarter 6:23 PM  

Big A - Aqueduct race track???? Pretty obscure, if that's it.

michael 8:06 PM  

There is something reassuring about finishing the puzzle hesitantly with the t in the rattat/tethys cross and seeing that I was far from alone.

michael 8:06 PM  

There is something reassuring about finishing the puzzle hesitantly with the t in the rattat/tethys cross and seeing that I was far from alone.

Anonymous 10:01 PM  

Am I the only one who was irked at 40across? Capital of Australia - Canberra, dol very quirky.

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 5:58, 6:12, 0.96, 30%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:20, 8:37, 0.97, 39%, Easy-Medium
Wed 9:58, 11:52, 0.84, 13%, Easy
Thu 25:11, 17:05, 1.47, 95%, Challenging (9th highest ratio of 160 Thursdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:35, 3:39, 0.98, 34%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:54, 4:57, 0.99, 47%, Medium
Wed 5:39, 6:34, 0.86, 12%, Easy
Thu 15:52, 9:37, 1.65, 96%, Challenging (7th highest ratio of 160 Thursdays)

Elle54 12:12 AM  

Yes, and this threw me for the entire day as I hoped they would provide it cause many asked in their help section. I had a lot of trouble with this one, thinking I was missing something when I finally went to solve it. Agree with @two ponies

Myown Puzzle 7:02 AM  

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Anonymous 2:37 PM  

Isn't there a mistake in the grid, in that "52" appears to the right of the gap--part of SINGAPOREAN whereas all the other "GAP" answers have no number (and no clue) for the part to the right? Maybe this comment is elsewhere--but I didn't see it skimming through.

Anonymous 9:17 PM  

Just got to this one. The numbering anomaly bothered me as well but if you simply imagine that a normal grid had been printed with blacks and empties, numbers wouldn't have been needed. Even so I didn't like how the rebus was constructed AT all.

Anonomous 2

Ellen S 1:23 AM  

Posting this comment on late Saturday night, West Coast time; just finished Thursday, after several days of ... is there something like DNB? -- couldn't even Begin to solve, until I came to the blog, saw RATTAT (never in a million years would I have imagined that), and the rebus. I take some solace in the fact that nearly everyone else had problems.

@Tita ... you have a golem in your nativity scene? Read somewhere that in biblical times sheperds were considered seriously low-caste, unclean, of questionable sexual appetites; definitely not on the A-list for the Messiah's birthday party (haha unlike today, where sheperds are honored), and the prominence of the sheperds in the story is an indication of the egalitarian and, well, redemptive, message Jesus brought. So I guess golems probably would not have been turned away either.

Once again the blog is better than the puzzle.

Spacecraft 12:17 PM  

Not challenging--IMPOSSIBLE! Not Thursday--UBER-Saturday on steroids! Just one example: of all the ALANS in the world, we have to go with that ultra-famous composer Menken. Betcha Salieri was never jealous of HIM.

RATTAT: ungettable. Fatal error--not that I would've gotten a finished solve anyway--: THEPope instead of THEPILL. Couldn't get the rest of that NEWS phrase--and no wonder. RADIONEWS is meaningless and arbitrary.

Other extremely unfair clues: "melancholy, say" for EMOTION, the deliberate use of a word usually used as an adjective. "Menu with zoom options" for VIEW. Lots of ways to clue that one without leaving the tech-challenged crowd behind.

And finally, MINDTHEGAP. I'm assuming, from OFL's spot photo, it's painted on the platforms of London's Underground (hence "tube.") Sorry, but I haven't been there since the '60s, and I never saw the warning. What about the poor souls who've NEVER been there? How in the HOTDAMN is an American supposed to get that? Totally ridiculous.

I could go on. CARRACE: another m&a phrase. "Censor, in a way" for BLUR? OK, I guess I've seen that, to mask someone's identity, or obscure a "wardrobe malfunction," but again, using a verb to clue what we usually think of as a noun.

It's another case of actively seeking to prevent solving. Well, congratulations. You did it.

Waxy in Montreal 2:02 PM  

BEATSME how the NW got by the censor: RATTAT? Duplicate TEA?, etc. Hoo-oo-ey!

Was aGAPe too with the clue for 9D ETRE: Being, in Bordeaux. Should have been To Be, in Bordeaux, IMHO.

Discerned the theme at SIN(GAP)OREAN but agree totally with @Space that the puzzle was "actively seeking to prevent solving".

Only positive was learning why I.M. PEI rarely uses his first name.

DMGrandma 4:12 PM  

After a bit of a struggle, I decided this puzzle had too many obscure words (e.g.bitcoins) and an indecipherable "revealer". It didn't help that my ship wrecks were caused by "icefloes" and that I spent most of my London travels on the buses so as to see the City. I hesitated over the TEATASTER, because they should really not swallow it, and...why go on? This puzzle and I were just incompatible.

Dirigonzo 5:22 PM  

I spent way too much time thinking the phrase was "Mind the door" so the theme answers eluded me for a long while. The "GAP" appeared as I stared at THEBI___PLE and the rest of the theme answers became easy-peasy. The NW corner, not so much - didn't know the moon, didn't know the father and RAT(TA)T never occurred to me as a possibile answer to the clue so DNF with two blank squares.

rain forest 5:39 PM  

RATTAT?? IEOH?? ANSE??
Every so often a puzzle comes along and is a huge struggle just to get some sort of toe-hold, but even if you do, that's all you have. This is one of those puzzles. I persevered for too long, and actually got about 3/4 of it, but then I ceased to care. Having seen the completed puzzle, there is a grudging admiration for the theme and most of the fill, but the vague and arbitrary cluing just slayed me. I'll bet that @dirigonzo got the Saturn moon, though.

rain forest 5:42 PM  

Clearly I missed your comment while I was entering mine, @dirigonzo. Sounds like you would have got it had you known that moon.

Ginger 6:17 PM  

I enjoy a clue that forces me to open my mind, and expand my thinking. Misdirection does just that. But when it becomes missed direction; when the relationship between the clue and the word is so tenuous that there is no real connection, the enjoyment is pfft.

Never been to England, and the only Gap I could think of is in the mall. I do think the theme is clever, though. My AHA moment came with STRINKIN(GAP)OSE, and then the rest of the theme answers became clear. If only the rest of the puzzle was as gettable. Google helped some, but the NW still eluded me.

Tomorrow is another day.

DJ Stone 6:17 PM  

Interesting that Rex would post a link to a Jam song. I see how "Bitterest Pill" contains the word "pill", but otherwise there's no strong connection to either the puzzle or the intent of using the pill, which usually provides relief, not bitter feelings.

Now, on the other hand, a much better known Jam song is "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight". Fits the puzzle's theme perfectly, and frankly, just a better song.

Syndi Solver 6:52 PM  

I loved the theme - MIND THE GAP! That part was great. And I also loved the donut clue.

However, I agree with the folks who said that those who have never visited London would have a heck of a time getting this theme.

I didn't like the TEA TASTER entry at all. I was not so bothered by the repeat of TEA. I think a puzzle is usually nicer with no repeats but I'm not irritated by them the way other solvers seem to be. No, my main problem was thinking,"Is this is a thing?" I kept thinking that it must be wrong so I did not put it in until the very end. I laughed at the comment about matzo tasters - why not?! :-)

Oh, my other problem was wondering, "What's GAP ICED TEA?" after I was done. I was sure that GAP must be up at the top to balance out the one at the bottom. I even googled it trying to figure it out. I finally added Arizona to my search and discovered that Arizona is the brand name and there's no GAP at the beginning of 7 Across. D'oh! My excuse is that here in the Pacific NW we drink a lot more coffee than tea. :-)

That NW corner was VERY hard but it was fun to learn the name of one of Saturn's moons. Now if I can only remember it!

strayling 7:12 PM  

Worth it for the way he took the inedible 'ugh' out of doughnut.

Dirigonzo 10:08 PM  

@strayling - "...he took the inedible 'ugh' out of doughnut" - I love an xword meta-pun!

redbug169 3:09 PM  

In the low-hanging fruit round, the only clue that I wrote in ink was GOLEM. Knew it from a novel in time way back. Almost, but a DNF for me.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Didn't particularly care for the gimmick, mosyly because the gap is 15 swquare lengths long but is ignored all but five times. NW was toughest, completed with RATTAT, which I decided was either the wrong answer or just wrong. ANly other issue was, LORELaI OR LORRLEI? Had to think back to my days playing Styx on the radio for that one.

Is IEOH pronounced the same as Yao? I'm going to pretend it is regardless, to help me next time that clue comes up.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

oh yeah...(it's me from directly above)...the only reason I decided to post anything after so long was to offer this clue for the next person attempting this "Fall _____" (one time advertising slogan/jingle). Seven letters, left side.

I can't be sure the chain was national at the time, but the jingle sure stuck.

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