Gird, Certain kitchen knife, Eisner's successor at Disney, Spanish waves

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Constructor: Jim Page

Relative difficulty: easily medium challenging. Or, How Much Do you Like Baseball?



THEME: HOT CORNER (35A Third base, in baseball lingo ... or a hint for answering eight other clues in this puzzle)—all eight answers around the outside of the grid require adding "HOT" in front to fit the clues.

Word of the Day: SLIVOVITZ (Plum brandy) — a distilled beverage made from Damson plums.[1] It is frequently called plum brandy. There's a lot more on wiki about all the places that make this stuff and what they call it, but this will suffice for our purposes.
• • •
Hello, Rexworld. This is treedweller filling in. As you are probably aware, this weekend is the annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Brooklyn. So, no doubt, Rex is sharpening his pencils, laying out his lucky outfit, studying atlases (MT. APO!), practicing with a mockup of the giant-sized puzzle he will see in the finals, and meditating over peppermint tea in preparation for the competition.


Though it's likely a large number of regular readers here are similarly occupied at the Super Bowl of Cruciverbalists, Mr Shortz was kind enough to leave a puzzle for us schlubs who couldn't make the trip. Some of us should find it to be a fairly easy Thursday offering. The rest of us have lives outside of baseball.

Theme answers:
  • 1A Difficult political situation: (Hot) POTATO
  • 1D Snacks in the frozen food aisle: (Hot) POCKETS
  • 7A Chili: (Hot) PEPPER
  • 12D Lover of souped-up engines: (Hot) RODDER
  • 42D Spicy pretzel dip: (Hot) MUSTARD
  • 43D It's hard to score: (Hot) TICKET
  • 63A Real good-looker: (Hot) TAMALE
  • 64A Showed off: (Hot) DOGGED 
  • 35A Third base, in baseball lingo ... or a hint for answering eight other clues in this puzzle: HOT CORNER
I am not a sports guy, but I grew up in a sports family, so I usually know the lingo pretty well. HOT CORNER is a new one on me. For a while, I thought 32D might be a nine o'clock scholar (...__'clock scholar: ATENO) and wondered if Hen Corner could be a thing. Maybe in quilting bees.

Each theme entry I filled in, I had a niggling thought that it didn't really make sense, though it would if preceded by HOT, but I still failed to put it together until I was three-quarters done. So this came out challenging for me. I think most people will find it easier than that. In the end, I guess it was kinda fun to see all the HOT phrases, but I was hit in too many blind spots and just plowed my way through it.

Bullets:
  • 61A Gird: ENSTEEL — I envision enlivened enwranglement ensuing around this entry, though personally I find it perfectly cromulent.
  • 18A Plop preceder: KER — pretty easy, once "cup of coffee" didn't fit.
  • TAL ELAM REE IGER ORECK ENID OLAS SISTA CITIIRAE EZINE NUS
  • 51D Latin lover's words: TEAMO — If I have to pick a team, I will happily choose Team O. 
Of course, in ACPT there are no teams. It's you against the grid. You have to dig deep. You have to fight through the hard times. In this, Rex's last appearance, we send encouragement and inspiration to him and all his fellow contestants.

Signed, treedweller, on behalf of
Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

100 comments:

JFC 1:47 AM  

There is a reason why the Snow Storm is hitting the Northeast when the AC whatever is being held.....

JFC

jae 1:47 AM  

Treedweller is correct. This was easy-medium for me.  Got the theme immediately from POCKETS (you should always be looking for a trick on Thurs.) and knew there would be a baseball clue/hint somewhere.  That said, I erased ToMAto for TAMALE and UPswing for UPTREND.

I also hesitated a while over the DENARLO/PRENAME cross having heard of neither.  But, what else could it be?

Zippy theme with a fairly smooth grid.  And, you gotta love SLIVOVITZ down the middle.  I got pleasantly blitzed on the stuff at an Eastern European restaurant in Chicago while attending a convention.  I seem to remember it was served flaming? Unfortunately, we were under the impression that it was included with the meal.  Settling the bar tab with a bunch of scary looking guys was not pleasant.

Nice write up treedweller!

chefwen 2:05 AM  

@JFC - And what would that be?

I would have chalked this one up as difficult until Mr. Sports gave me 35A HOT CORNER. Immediately turning this into easy/medium. Thanks Jon.

Austrian Grandma Sofie loved SLIVOVITS, after three sips she would declare that she was was getting Schwipps and begged anyone else to finish her glass, brother Mike would always comply. Ah! Memories.

Someone want to enlighten me on 10D pre name?

Loved the puzzle, thank you Mr. Page.

Need lotsa pictures tournament attendees.

Alumnae Chattel Mustard 2:40 AM  


Synchronicity of having "Hot Sake" run thru my head yesterday in lieu of "Hot Pockets"...and then it showed up today!
(cf Jim Gaffigan)

@Treedweller called it, 3/4 filled before HOTCORNER filled in and then gave me all the corners...loved that! I then could reread every clue I didn't have and say "Hottt....." and then they dropped POTATO, PEPPER, TICKET, TAMALE, RODDER

I had only DOGGED/MUSTARD.

Mixed bag...loved the theme, the crazy long down of SLIVOVITZ.
But way too many crazy abbreviations and partials:
ATENO, ACAT, MOR, GMT, ECT, GRES Yikes!
And yet, it all came together.

Only bec of TAL from my chess days, otherwise, foret the whole thing!

EZINE/ECASH helped stretch fours to fives, but the overall puzzle is quite fabulous, 7 stacks, a wealth of theme, cool middle revealer (and if "I" can get "HOTCORNER" anyone can!)


If you look at the short fill, it's freaky, but if you look at the long fill, it's wildly praiseworthy.
:)

@chefwen
I'm guessing PRENAME must be as opposed to surNAME. Awkward, but not ridiculous or uninferable in the scheme of things, no?

Happy to have landed here hours before the storm...
Now let's see how it all goes!

Evan 2:58 AM  

I like the theme concept, but I wasn't completely sold on the execution. I feel like all of the hidden HOTs should be at the corners of the grid to make sense of the revealer -- not half on the corners (for POTATO/POCKETS/RODDER/TAMALE) and half on the mid-perimeter (for PEPPER/TICKET/MUSTARD/DOGGED). I know it's hard to get common phrases that end in HOT, but some possibilities include PIPING, REALLY, IT'S TOO, ARE YOU, TOTALLY, and GETTING. Or if you had to shorten the theme entries, you could do WHITE, CRAZY, and (S)HE'S SO. Or hey, there's no reason why HOT can't be part of a longer word that was cut out, where the resulting answer is a legit word by itself -- like BLOODS(hot), SCREENS(hot), and SLINGS(hot).

I wasn't down with the fill, either. SKIL, MOR, ENSTEEL (crossing EEL), E-CASH, E-ZINE, OLAS, consecutive partials A TEN O' and A CAT, ECT, REE, TAL, IRAE, ALAI, KER, and EL NINOS (plural?). Though to be fair, SLIVOVITZ and TEA LEAVES are great, as is the clue for TEARING. For some reason I also liked the clue for CHATTEL a lot, even though in my head I instinctively add the word "slavery" right after it (thanks, Grad School).

@chefwen:

It's just a fancy synonym for "first name."

Anonymous 3:10 AM  

I'm really sorry Rex isn't around as I was looking forward to reading as he ripped apart this s**t-pie of a puzzle. I even new "hot corner" right away, but this puzzle had so many problems it didn't matter. Others have pointed out the loads of cruddy fill, but in a puzzle with a revealer of "hot corner", it's pretty weak that "hot" is in the corner for only half of the theme answers. Also "hot pepper" and "hot mustard" are not idiomatic usages the way the other theme clues are. They're just things that are spicy like "hot chili" or "hot barbecue sauce". So, yeah, boo to this. Major fail on what could almost have been a good theme if you could come up with four words ending in "hot".
Also "prename"? Please.

MetaRex 3:26 AM  

The ORECK-SKIL crossing is really really terrible. Word people oughta resist by all means necessary the absolute moral darkness of corporate names like SKIL, AMTRAK, and QUICK CHEK!

@Rex needs to fly in and save us!

More foaming, along with CrossWorld and CrossOver buzz ratings, at Speling Skil

syndy 3:43 AM  

Think ten thousand dollar pyramid-Things that are hot! all in the corners.Slivovitz is news to me but a fine entry none the less. howsomeever the dreck level is high here-it is so!

webwinger 7:00 AM  

For some reason I’m having more trouble with Thursdays lately than with Fri/Sat. This time, though, think it’s the puzzle’s fault more than my own. HOTCORNER was vaguely familiar to me, but even after getting it I failed to grok: Was so convinced the corners would be rebuses (rebi?) I ended up with “hotp” and “hott” in the NW and SW corner squares, “hickehott” (hot enough to get a hickey—out of my league?) instead of TICKET (was thinking maybe the chess champ was a forerunner of the computer in the movie 2001), and four missing theme answers: PEPPER, RODDER, MUSTARD, and (sort of) DOGGED all seemed to be acceptable without the “hot”, and I never even considered that that modifier might NOT belong in the corner (DUH!). Agree that SLIVOVITZ was masterful (knew the name, don’t know the drink), but a lot of truly drecky fill and cluing that seemed just weird, not fun. Was looking forward to reading Rex’s take, but of course understand his absence. Thanks for filling in, and setting me straight on the theme, treedweller.

Unfortunately I’ve had to cancel my impulsive plan to fly in and out within 24 hours for partial attendance of ACPT. Have fun, all who make it—hope the weather’s not too much of a damper. Maybe next year for me—with a different name (Acme?) and no Rex (say it ain’t so!)

Anonymous 7:02 AM  

slivovitz is a staple drink of purim. dennis franz, pictured above, played detective Andy Sipowicz who was a recovering alcoholic who would need to stay way clear of slivovitz

OTD 7:09 AM  

Once I got the theme at POTATO and POCKETS and then saw HOTCORNER it was clear sailing. Did have trouble with DECARLO and PRENAME crossing, but a good guess got me through.

Loved SLIVOVITZ.

Anonymous 7:10 AM  

I watched the whole Chariots of Fire video to see if the pianist ever got a chance to sneak in another drag on the cigarette. Spoiler alert: he doesn't.

Imfromjersey 7:24 AM  

Maybe I'm dumb but can someone explain what a PRENAME is? Is that like the opposite of a surname? I was hesitant but got Mr. happy pencil from across lite. AAVERAGE is awful, @rex would be appalled. It reminds me of those plumbers and HVAC repair places in the phone book (yeah I know, what's a phone book?) that list their names as "aaaaaaa1 plumbing" so that they are first in the listings. Overall I thought it was medium to challenging.

Z 7:25 AM  

I thought it was prénom, but I guess that is just French for "first name."

Otherwise I agree with ACME re loving the long fill, not so much the short fill. After OOO's I thought it was going to be AAa gRAdES for a while, A AVERAGES still has the cool AA start.

HOT CORNER was an old baseball term when I was young, so no problem for a guy whose Tiger season tickets arrived yesterday.

Gill I. P. 7:44 AM  

Hmmmm. I have mixed feelings about this puzzle. Maybe because the short fill was pretty bad. SKIL was the worst for me. If it's not black and decker, I don't know it.
The theme was fairly easy to get but I wrote in HOT in each little corner because HOT POkets looked ok. Is PEPPER hot a word?
SLIVOVITZ sounds plum awful and my hot TAMALE was a hot mammas.
My crossword skills are running fAVERAGES so I would be HISSed at at the ACPT.

joho 8:11 AM  

Despite the less than AAVERAGES of the short fill I loved the theme and the aha moment when I understood what HOTCORNER was all about. Fun!

Learned SLIVOVITZ and love saying it out loud!

And there is fortissimo, pianissimo and the slightly louder ITISSO.

Thank you Jim Page and you, too, Treedweller!

The Bard 8:17 AM  

Hamlet , Act III, scene I

OPHELIA: Good my lord,
How does your honour for this many a day?

HAMLET: I humbly thank you; well, well, well.

OPHELIA: My lord, I have remembrances of yours,
That I have longed long to re-deliver;
I pray you, now receive them.

HAMLET: No, not I;
I never gave you aught.

OPHELIA: My honour'd lord, you know right well you did;
And, with them, words of so sweet breath composed
As made the things more rich: their perfume lost,
Take these again; for to the noble mind
Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
There, my lord.

HAMLET: Ha, ha! are you honest?

OPHELIA: My lord?

HAMLET: Are you fair?

OPHELIA: What means your lordship?

HAMLET: That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should
admit no discourse to your beauty.

OPHELIA: Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than
with honesty?

HAMLET: Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner
transform honesty from what it is to a bawd than the
force of honesty can translate beauty into his
likeness: this was sometime a paradox, but now the
time gives it proof. I did love you once.

OPHELIA: Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

HAMLET: You should not have believed me; for virtue cannot
so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of
it: I loved you not.

OPHELIA: I was the more deceived.

HAMLET: Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a
breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest;
but yet I could accuse me of such things that it
were better my mother had not borne me: I am very
proud, revengeful, ambitious, with more offences at
my beck than I have thoughts to put them in,
imagination to give them shape, or time to act them
in. What should such fellows as I do crawling
between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves,
all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery.
Where's your father?

imsdave 8:30 AM  

I was teetering on the 4th/5th place line going into this puzzle at the Killingworth CT Library tournament this past Sunday. I hit the reveal, and confidently wrote HOT in all of the corners.

This did not prove to be helpful.

I finally finished it in 17 minutes falling to 6th place (out of about 25 participants). Solving it again today, it still took me over 8 minutes. Very solid thematic material and some excellent fill - OPHELIA, CHATTEL, TATIANA - unfortunately balanced by PRENAME, DECARLO (as clued), the stilted ITISSO, E (fill in the blank), and the short crap.

The bizarre weather forecast continues in CT (read - they have no clue). Currently looks like I'll be dealing with 3 - 6" tomorrow morning for my drive to Brooklyn, but it sounds like it will all be over by 10 am. So, if your in the neighborhood, I expect to be in the bar at the Marriott around 3 tomorrow afternoon. Tall guy, a little overweight, gray hair, black sweater.

imsdave 8:33 AM  

You're - DUH

evil doug 8:52 AM  

Not sure I like 'pep' crossing 'pepper'---but I do appreciate that "Pep" was one of the comics in the Archie series, and it crosses DeCarlo.

And 'stamina' crossing the clued 'thrusting suddenly' demonstrates a nice contrast in HOT love-making.

Yep. Getting e-tired of e-zine, e-cash, e-tc....

"...it's pretty weak that "hot" is in the corner for only half of the theme answers." I don't address anonymous posters, but somebody tell that goof up there that he's a moron. That 'hot' answers wrap around each corner fulfills the theme just fine.

Had 'muGGED' before the aforementioned theme rendered that disposable.

Yeah, the fill's not great for a Thursday---but I kinda had fun.

Evil

loren muse smith 8:58 AM  

Fairly hard Thursday for me, but I finished. Points about wanting HOT to end four of the themes are understandable, but I really don’t have a problem (surprise, surprise) calling all the corners HOT since they all start with HOT. (@Evil – I agree with your whole “anonymous” statement.)

Though I don’t follow baseball, I knew HOT CORNER instantly; I found myself playing third (much to my dismay as I’m terrified of line-drives) a few years back on a moms’ softball team. I guess I have my dad’s arm because I can throw easily from third to first. But I had no business at the HOT CORNER; I had never played organized softball – didn’t even know what “tag up” meant. A lot of these moms had played college ball, and a couple of them even semi-pro. Scary times. . .

@imsdave – Your forgiven. Its so easy not only to forget those pesky apostrophe’s but to misuse them as well.

See you at 3:00pm at the bar. I’ll probably be on my second SLIVOVITZ by then. No idea what I’ll be wearing yet, but I’ll have my trusty crossword board that @Tita’s mom made for me (so people can sign it).

chefbea 8:59 AM  

Got the theme right away although I never heard of third base being called hot corner.

Never had a hot pocket but I imagine if you covered it with chili it might be edible.

Have fun everyone and keep us posted

Carola 9:05 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 9:13 AM  

Agree with @treedweller's easily medium challenging rating, although it doesn't have to do with baseball. Medium for the NW -I got the theme when I had everything there but the corner square. After the POTATO and POCKETS were in place, it was easy to get the reveal and the other corners. The challenge for me was in the NE, as Ext and PenNAME made DECARLO and UPTREND impossible to see. Took a while to get that straightened out.

Liked Bond's TATIANA crossing HOT TAMALE and the ALUMNAE - SEMINAR cross. @evil doug - LOL on STAMINA. I was thinking of the STAMINA and DOGGED work needed to get through many a grad school SEMINAR :)

Thanks for the write-up, @treedweller - great clips!

Have fun at the tournament everyone!

ThinkHappyThoughts 9:25 AM  

Yo, TreeDweller, just another shlub checking in. Rooting for Rex. You go, Rex!

Sailed through the puzzle, didn't even realize there was a sports theme -- that's how little I know about sports. Got the hot corner theme right away, but just thought hot corner meant an alert that all four corners were hot in some way. Didn't even pay attention to the third base part of the clue, because I had already picked up the hot theme in all four corners.

Loved the slivovitz clue and answer -- knew it from the 'special occasions" in synagogues, when the old men would gather after prayer to celebrate the special occasion with a tiny sip of slivovitz each in a tiny paper cup. Got stuck in the southwest corner. I've heard of kaiser rolls, somewhere in the dim mists of time I may even have seen one -- wouldn't eat one -- don't like that kind of doughy white bread, even if the crust is crunchy.

All in all a pretty tame Thursday puzzle. But pleasant enough, a few minutes pastime....

I find the put-downs directed at the puzzle constructors, particularly the silly potty-mouth kinds of put-downs that an Anonymous posted, really offensive. Someone has crafted a puzzle for our amusement. Some puzzles appeal to some people, others to others. Can't please all of the people all of the time. But -- what kind of person lets loose hostility in this fashion? No wonder Anonymous signs as Anonymous. If you're old enough and literate enough to solve NYTimes crossword puzzles, you're old enough to behave appropriately on a public forum such as this one -- and cyberspace is not concrete enough to have your mouth washed out with soap -- which shouldn't be done to anyone anyway. Maybe, Anonymous, you should ease up on the hostility and wash your mind with pleasantry -- think rainbows, sunsets, something to chill with....

B Donohue 9:26 AM  

Holy HOTPOCKETS!

That answer has been in NYT crossword twice in the last few weeks. I was stuck staring at my screen when I much older friend called out HOTTOMALE! I don't think this term is used much anymore to describe good-lookers.

I finished with one mistake: oGER and SLoVOVICH. I had never heard of SLIVOVICH, but I should haveknown better since IGER was in the puzzle a month or so ago.

the redanman 9:34 AM  

SLIVOVITZ = SLAM DUNK take that

go figure. Lots of slop fill DNF SW, lost interest

thursday 9:41 AM  

Shouldn't the clue for TICKET be "Sometimes it's hard to score"? Certainly, some tickets are really easy to get.

Or am I missing the meaning here?

Harrison 9:41 AM  

So, absent the "s**t-pie of a puzzle", what was wrong with Anonymous' comment? Would not the puzzle have been better with the missing HOT in each corner? As a rebus or a black square in each? The puzzle, eight phrases missing the HOT at the beginning of the phrase was fine, but eight phrases with the missing HOT in the corner would have been better than fine.

Calling someone a 'moron' for making an intemperate post is ironic at best. Not all of life is rainbows, puppy dogs and unicorns.

Cheerio 9:51 AM  

ECT seems sort of wrong to me. ECTO seems better. For me, this puzzle was as hard as a Friday.

B Donohue 9:57 AM  

Good luck this weekend, Rex!!

jackj 10:04 AM  

Well now, just slather me with SLIVOVITZ!

Sixty-nine NY Times puzzles beginning in 1985, forty of them Fridays or Saturdays, none of them early week puzzles, Jim Page is obviously an accomplished puzzle pro sure to tickle our fancies while testing our wits.

And, he doesn’t disappoint. With baseball’s Spring training in full flower we are alerted to be on our toes because he has us playing third base, the HOTCORNER, eight times, no less!

All of those “HOT” theme entries played nicely and my favorite, HOTDOGGED, clued as “Showed off”, was dripping with visions of hopped up NFLers shucking and jiving uncontrollably in the end zone after scoring a TD.

Much of the non-theme cluing was special with “Making the rent?” for TEARING getting things off to a memorable start, while ELNINOS, TEALEAVES, ELITISM and ANTED (“Put up”) were among the many others that brightened the grid (though I was sad to see my BOATTEL dumped in favor of CHATTEL).

SISTA Monica Parker seemed a natural to have been clued as SISTA Souljah, she of the racist statements that gave Bill Clinton his “Sista Souljah moment” in the 1992 Presidential campaign.

I have groused as loudly as anyone over the appearance of too much “freaky” short fill but am coming around to accepting some of it when necessary to preserve a strong theme, as today.

Think of it like redheads, who have freckles. Whether you like freckles or not, if you want to enjoy the beauty of a gorgeous ginger, you need to accept a few freckles (and maybe even a lot of freckles if she’s really attractive).

Thanks, Jim Page, you’ve delivered again!

dk 10:07 AM  

So once I had to go to a prom-like dance with my cousin because her boy friend dumped her the day before. She was cute and asked me if I felt it would be weird if we made out.

That experience and this puzzle are similar. Hot, nice idea but….

Had looNAME and that is sooooo much better than PRENAME (gag me with a spoon).

I liked the shout out to me "AAVERAGES."

���� (2 divinators)

Notsofast 10:10 AM  

A disappointing Thursday for me. I like a little more fight. Knew "HOTCORNER" theme right OFF THE BAT. Heh. Never heard of SLIVOVITZ. PRENAME is just stupid. Where the hell is TIRANE? ENSTEEL? Really? C-

Nancy 10:32 AM  

Had a much easier time than Rex! Got the HOT theme very early -- even before seeing the HOT CORNER clue, which I was actually searching for. It bothered me however that the HOT parts on the East side of the puzzle weren't in the corners. It should have been things like Piping HOT and Some like It HOT on that side, if you see what I mean, to make the word HOT actually appear in the corner. Still, easy as I found it, I DNF because I didn't know SLIVOVITZ. But do I care about SLIVOWITZ? Do you?????

Susan McConnell 10:41 AM  

Did not know the term HOT CORNER going in, but I do now. Wasn't crazy about this one. To borrow from the Sunday NYT One Page Magazine feature: "Not HOT, not Not, just MEH".

Was glad for The Bard...he was given such a great quote opportunity.

Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

I agree with Anon. that this was a sh#tpie of a puzzle. I have to put up with prename, ensteel, ateno, it is so, two e-words, etc. for a reveal I have never heard of and the "hot"s aren't even in the corners? This one belongs in the circular file.
Thanks for sitting in treedweller!

Lindsay 11:03 AM  

Never heard of the brandy, so I went with SLoVOVITZ, thinking plum and sloe might somehow be related. That meant Eisner's successor at Disney was oGuR, because I was seeing buRNS at the beach, not TERNS. And I need to review European geography.

Oh well! On to the ACPT!

My appearance at the bar is probably weather-dependant. If it's grisly out I'll have a drink. Otherwise, I plan to walk to Prospect Park, having done the Brooklyn Bridge each of the last two years.

I haven't been around the blog as much lately, but nonetheless look forward to seeing/meeting some of you this weekend.

jackj 11:04 AM  

Added bonus from the Bard's Hamlet quote:

"Get thee to a nunnery"

Bob Kerfuffle 11:15 AM  

Nice puzzle, IMHO.

My one write-over at 8 D, EXO before ECT.

@thursday - The fact that 43 D is meant to be read as a "HOT TICKET" is what makes it hard to score.

MetaRex 11:20 AM  

Will try to join the crew at the Marriott bar tomorrow if I can spring out of a biz gig in time...

This one like lots of Thursdays is a high variance puzz...that is, there's a good case for "yes it's good!" and a good case for "nope it's not so good"...skip the SKIL-ORECK rant at the beginning for reflections on variance...

MetaRex 11:27 AM  

What ThinkHappyThoughts said on the s*-pie poster...

syndy 11:29 AM  

@ thursday,yes sweetheart you are! the theme is to add the word "HOT" to all the answers in the corners-so a "HOT TICKET" is hard to score.@Not so fast- Albania!

Evan 12:01 PM  

@evil doug:

While I wouldn't describe this puzzle as a "shit pie," I had the same thematic criticism as the anonymous poster you called a moron. I didn't like how the word HOT was hidden at the beginning of four of the theme entries where they could have been directly in the corners of the grid, and I'm not a moron. Amy Reynaldo voiced a similar complaint on Crossword Fiend, and she's not a moron either.

Feel free to say why you think my or Amy's criticism of the puzzle is wrong. Just don't be so eager to dish out insults at an anonymous commenter unless you realize you're insulting some of us non-anonymous commenters too.

DigitalDan 12:17 PM  

CITI/SISTA was a Natick for me.

evil doug 12:25 PM  

Evan,

He's a moron because he's anonymous, but also for the entirety of his comment.

If you choose to adopt for yourself a comment squarely pointed at him, that's your problem---not mine.

Evil

Mohair Sam 1:00 PM  

The rare puzzle I didn't like.

Getting to the contested theme thing: Got HOTCORNER on sight (I'm a Phillie fanatic) and assumed that would mean HOT would be in the four corners of the puzzle thereby impacting 8 clues. But no - it meant that HOT would not be in the puzzle at all, and in four cases would not be on the corners either. HOT would, however, be not seen in front of 4 words that ended in the corner. What? Badly themed.

PRENAME? What? Are SULU and ELAM prenames? Surnames? First names? Christian names? Given names? Or are they "only" names like Sting?

I failed on SLIVOVITZ (something new to me) and therefore missed a letter (guessed A for IGER).

Evan 1:04 PM  

@evil:

Both I and Amy Reynaldo voiced the same criticism about the puzzle before that anonymous commenter did. It's the same criticism that prompted you to insult that commenter's intelligence. Are you willing to call either me or Amy a moron for making that same argument even though we're not anonymous?

Imagine that Person A and Person B both argue in the same comment thread that the death penalty is wrong and should be abolished. Person C chimes in and says that Person B is an idiot for thinking that way. How else should Person A interpret that insult but as an insult against him as well?

If you're going to insult some anonymous poster's intelligence for making an argument, you don't get to dodge my response and say it's my fault for being offended -- because I made the same point that the anonymous poster did. So yeah, it is your problem.

Evan's missing the point 1:09 PM  

He/She doesn't agree with me == She/He's a moron - ED's world.

retired_chemist 1:19 PM  

@ Treedweller - thanks. My first thought @ 53A was KYLE Field. Few, other than you and I, or other Texans if any, will get the joke.

A nice puzzle. Not terrific, but pretty good. When I reached 35A, which I knew instantly, the reason I was having trouble around the corners became clear. Ultimately, did it in a pretty good Thursday time for me. Agree with whoever said Thursdays are tougher than Fridays and Saturdays much of the time. This one, no, but if you didn't get 35A it could easily have been.

TIRANE is the capital of Albania, for whoever asked this blog (instead of Prof. Google). IT IS SO.

Hand up for disliking ENSTEEL. With a couple of crosses, I saw it as a possibility and thought that NOBODY would use that word. Wrong......

17A was UPSWING, 52A was any random 2-letter Greek letter until crosses showed the right answer, and it was TITO Martinez for a while. There are limits to my baseball knowledge.....

ENID was a gimme since it is the only crossworthy 4 letter place in Oklahoma I know.You could ask "Location of Humphrey Heritage Village in Oklahoma" (thanks, Wikipedia) and I'd get it.

Thanks, Mr. Page.

Rob C 1:35 PM  

Baseball fan so HOT CORNER was one of my first entries. With that the theme became obvious and the rest was fairly easy. Never heard the term PRENAME for first name before. SLIVOVITZ new to me too-hard to believe there's really such a word. ENSTEEL-never heard the term actually used by anyone, but it was inferable.

As some others mentioned, the Jim Gaffigan bit on HOT POCKETS is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. If you haven't, do yourself a favor and see it.

Envious of everyone going to the ACPT. Good luck!

Masked and Anonymo4Us 1:35 PM  

@treedweller- Good job. Did you say this is Rex's last ACPT appearance? What's the deal there? I miss so much, not living in the trees.

Loved the theme idea. One of those pseudo-rebus jobbers. Also, only 72 words, so lots of interesting stacks. I always thought someone named Montana drew Archie. Wrong? Wasn't DExARLO, either; wrong again, M&A breath. Maybe Montana was one of them "pre-name" names.

ATENO - woof. The price one pays, when there ain't no such thing as S-AVERAGES.

SULU - As Captain Kirk is so fond of sayin', "bless you, Mr. sUlU".

EZINE - This poor whatever wordform it is normally gets whipped and flailed by old 31. So nice to see it get a free pass, for once. E-zines are read by them elite A-cats, I'll bet.

Good luck, 31. May all yer acpt dreams come true. Except for that one that involves Scarlet Johansson. Hopefully, you'll have to come back next year, to defend your title.

evil doug 1:41 PM  

Evan,

Gee, maybe I was wrong. Maybe you are a moron. You're trying waaaay too hard here---like a PhD candidate defending his thesis instead of enjoying some casual jousting about a crossword. Let's try again...

The other day, my buddy Loren made some humorously self-critical remark about her answer. Later, she noted that others had admitted making a similar mistake. So she promptly jumped in to apologize to them, in spite of the fact that her comments were aimed only toward her mirror. But she didn't want them to misinterpret her innocent barb as a judgment on them---even though they posted after she did. [I jotted her a note saying she's clearly the nicest person in the world.]

Later today, my pal Two Ponies went so far as to echo the 'sh#t-pie' label---and I had to laugh. I know her pretty well, too, and we're comfortable with each other having the occasional disagreement.

I read your comment even before the anonymous one. I've seen your even-handed style, your measured responses, and---while I disagreed with your position today---I had no problem letting yours stand without injecting my criticism. Reread yours, reread the anonymous one, and tell me if you don't see a significant difference in tone and style that might lead me to engage with one but not the other. Yours didn't merit response, but I felt that that one did. Perhaps--if we ever get to discern this anonymous poster from all the others, and I come to appreciate that individual's game---someday I'll laugh his/her posts off, too.

Amy? I imagine she pays as much heed to my commentary as I do to hers....

Evil

Bird 1:48 PM  

My mother always said that if you don’t have something nice to say . . .

The good : HOT CORNER, HOT POTATO, HOT POCKETS

Nigel 2:13 PM  

Since when is the capital of Albania TIRANE? Oh, looked it up, and see that the E has an umlaut because it's the Albanian spelling - Well the clue doesn't hint in any way that I should go for a foreign spelling. At least 5D is "Heads overseas" (although I find that a very tired clue. As a matter of fact I never like those clues - seems like cheating to have to translate a word for an answer rather than giving a clue that makes me think..

I got HOTCORNER through the fill, and like many of you, was not happy that HOT was not in the corner which is implied by the theme clue 35A. Really thought ENSTEEL was a terrible construction. It sounds like the construction of a very bad poet and when I looked it up in the Merriam Webster's online, lo and behold, the example given was "frost ensteeled the soil" - sounds like bad poerty to me. See what I mean. They had to search for that - and besides, "ensteeling the soil" doesn't sound the least bit like girding the soil. You might gird your loins - would you ensteel them?



Anonymous 3:04 PM  

While it may have been more elegant to have the hidden HOT exclusively in the 4 true puzzle corners, no one seems to have noticed that the missing 'HOT' entries on the right side are at interior puzzle corners formed black squares, still technically corners.

Nameless 3:06 PM  

Lot's of crud in this cruddy puzzle . . .

PRENAME?!
SLIVOVITZ?!
TIRANE?!
DECARLO crossing ECT (s/b EXO) and PRENAME (WTF?!)
The whole SW
PEPPER HOT? DOGGED HOT? TICKET HOT? IT's supposed to be HOT CORNER, not HOT SOMEWHERE IN THE GRID.
ATENO?!

KER Plunk is very good.

I thought Jim Page was better than this. Much better.

Evan 3:11 PM  

@evil:

Surely you can understand how insulting someone by saying "You're a moron for thinking X" when I also thought X might rub me the wrong way, and it's not because there's something wrong with me. I didn't see your original comment as playful jousting about a crossword, or as a humorous, self-deprecating remark that was clearly not intended as offense towards anyone like @Loren's previous comment may have been. It struck me as hostile and deliberately intended to offend.

That's not an issue of simple, occasional disagreement -- it's a needless, personal attack on someone's character. And because you made it in reply to the same basic argument that I made, I don't think it's "moronic" that I took issue with it.

Sure, there is a difference in tone between what I wrote and what the anonymous poster did. I already said that I thought it was wrong to call the puzzle a "shit pie" -- that's just as provocative, so s/he should have expected strong critique in kind. If you want to call that person out for condemning the puzzle in such language, fine. If you want to say that the HOT CORNER theme works better than I think it does, have at it -- there's a reasonable case to be made. But I didn't see you call that person a moron simply because of his or her harsh tone, but rather because s/he found it "pretty weak that 'hot' is in the corner for only half of the theme answers." That was the gist of my argument and, it seems, several other people's complaints about the puzzle too.

Just so we're clear, I don't think you're a moron, and I ain't one either. I also don't mind strong, forceful disagreement. Hell, I've defended some of the same arguments you've made many times before. But if you're going to say someone's argument about a puzzle is wrong, then just say so -- why make it personal and potentially insult several other people whom you may not have intended to offend?

Howard B 3:17 PM  

I generally agree with the overall strengths and weaknesses on this puzzle.
Enjoyed the HOT reveal, which was enough to assist, but due to the confusion, made it tricker to uncover all the theme answers. Didn't mind too much though. DECARLO / UPTREND was my rough spot. DECARLO was due to the classic reasoning, "That's not fair, I don't know that!" ;).

Responses:
- HOT PEPPER and HOT MUSTARD are indeed distinct items, and entirely in the language. Both seemed valid to me.

- If the theme wasn't your thing, didn't meet your fill standards, even if it had some reasonably explainable inconsistencies and/or contained too many small answers, it's probably not a form of '$**t'. Just be critical without the nasty. Even when Rex eviscerates a puzzle by his standards, there's personal respect for the constructor there and an understanding that it's his opinion, albeit with solid reasons to back it up.

Looking forward to seeing many of you in Brooklyn. Feel free to stop by and chat!

Ellen S 3:17 PM  

@chefbea -- a HOT POCKET would be edible if you covered it in chili and then only ate the chili.

I want to offer a reward in e-cash to anyone who can construct a puzzle without any #*$%#*% EELS. (Just saw a movie, Hotel Splendide, a decaying pile that was perched on an isolated island and run as a health resort. The "cuisine" consisted of eels and a few fish heads. But I didn't have to eat that muck, and the cook was Daniel Craig, so....)

Other than the EELS and the other E-things, I mostly enjoyed the puzzle. I was fearful the whole thing was going to be about sports and happy to find that it was not, grateful there were no high colonics, and liked the challenge of figuring out where the "hot" went (an imaginary rebus?). Liked a lot of the cluing (like "make the rent"), but hated "PRENAME" -- Merriam-Webster online says "First Known Use of PRENAME. 1894." So, sounds like an old-fashioned word, but really a wannabe.

@Evan -- this is only a crossword puzzle, not a debate on the death penalty. It looked to me like @Evil was specifically concerned because @anonymous attacked the puzzle's perceived weakness with all the ferocity of a death-penalty debater, while you just pointed out the same weakness with all the reasonableness of one who enjoys the puzzles. (BTW, if you look closely, @Evil seems to have lost his mojo -- he's been pretty dang civil lately. But I see a lot of people still responding to him as if he were routinely on the attack. And I really didn't see his post as referring to you nor all the others who expected "HOT" in the actual corners.)

Hand up here for wanting to know why this is @Rex's last ACPT. Are there term limits?

oldbizmark john prename 3:33 PM  

easy other than the upper right corner... basically PRENAME and DENARLO were the last two to fall. Wasn't sure about PRENAME. What is a *&^$ PRENAME!? Seriously. And, two E-answers were poor fill. I think REX would have had Jim and Will's heads for that oversight. otherwise, some good fill. enjoyed the SLIVOVITZ which was an easy fill and opened up the middle for me. Got to know that one if you are Jewish, especially if your parents grew up in Brooklyn. That is all. PRENAME. Seriously?!

Lewis 3:33 PM  

I liked the theme and its execution -- simple and sweet. Yes, it could have been a rebus with HOT in the corner, but it didn't have to be. Here the corners are absolutely hot, as the two words can be preceded with hot. Two approaches, and in my opinion, one isn't any better than the other.

Jimmy Legs 3:44 PM  

With the revealer's clue where it is in the Times, at the top next to the grid, it was the first ne I saw, and I got the answer right away; the only question was how it fit the eight answers. I was looking rebus at first. Apparently I have no life outside of baseball, because according to treedwller that phrase is unknown to anyone who doesn't spend every moment poring over the sport. Glad to see Rex has his guests adopt the same "If I don't know the answer it isn't worthy of this crossword and Will and the constructor have failed" attitude that he has.

mac 3:57 PM  

Pretty easy to find the theme, but the irregular placement of hot made it a little tougher to finish.

So that's what "chattel" means, thanks a lot.

Slivovitz was a gimme, my father had a short period of interest in Yugoslav cuisine, and of course he also tried this brandy. It's more a reinforced whine like sherry or port, I think.

e-Zines are eating the printed magazines these days.....

Evan 4:01 PM  

@Ellen S:

I get that, but my point wasn't to say that debates about a crossword vs. the death penalty are equivalent or have the same stakes. It was just to illustrate how if a person insults someone for expressing a point of view, it's wrong to assume that someone else who expresses the exact same point of view shouldn't be offended by the insult.

I don't think @evil is a bad guy, and I don't mind him or anyone else taking issue with how the anonymous commenter expressed displeasure at the puzzle. I just don't think it's cool to toss out a hostile comment about someone's intelligence because he argued X, and then imply that there's something wrong with another person who also argued X for being offended by it.

For the record, I also disagree with the notion that a person's comments here should be dismissed because they write it anonymously -- I think a person's arguments should be treated on their merits rather than just who said it -- but that's a slightly different story.

Not a moron 4:08 PM  

Gotta wonder if constructors thumb through the dictionary or Wiki and think, "Ooh, that's a good word" or "I can add 'en' and sound like a poet". That's fine if there's one or two in the grid. Today was just too much.

HOT CORNER is a great theme and would've been properly executed if the HOTs were in all the corners. Fail.

And it's a PARING knife. Another poor usage of transforming a noun to a verb. You can't just add 'er' and think it's okay. Fail.

@Evil - You've crossed that line again. Did you forget to take your meds today?

retired_chemist 4:26 PM  

@ not a moron - PARER is correct. See http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/parer, second meaning under "noun."

Melodiousfunk 4:27 PM  

Tallulah Bankhead: "If you don't have anything nice to say about anyone, sit next to me."

It's amusing to watch folk's arguments heat up on newsgroups, I just wait for the eventual Nazi epithet to pop up. Unfortunately it didn't happen in this case so I lost interest.

I thought the puzzle was quite good, if that means anything. Clearly Mr. Page wanted people to see that each corner solution could be preceded by HOT. Neat. A couple of unusual words doesn't put me in a snit, I'm just pleased that good constructors take this time to amuse me for a while. Mr. Page is a hot sketch in my book.

Sparky 4:35 PM  

Thought HOTpocket first for 35A. Don't know baseball terms but do know the field is a square. Richard GERE changed that choice. Also wanted potato at 63A. I was working upside down.

DNF with a few blanks in NE. PreNAME, HUH? Of course it would be niftier with HOT the exact corner word but it wasn't.

There is an old joke I can't remember, except for the punchline: He was cold to me and hot to Molly.

That's all. See some of you tomorrow.

Sparky 4:37 PM  

@Lewis said what I was trying to say. Thanks.

Lucky 4:39 PM  

Can someone kindly explain how "tearing" works for "mkaes the rent?"

thanks!

joho 4:44 PM  

@ Lucky ... think that you're tearing or ripping something apart.

Not a moron 4:47 PM  

@retired_chemist - maybe so, but I think that goes with my first point. I'd like to know if our resident chefs use PARER or paring knife.

treedweller 4:53 PM  

@Jimmy Legs Rest assured, Rex has not placed any restrictions or requirements on me (or, presumably, any other guest host). If you take a moment to think about it, you might realize the people who enjoy this blog enough to sub would share the King's sense of humor. Of course, then you would have to recognize things like hyperbole, sarcasm, and, well, humor. I apologize if I offended you by suggesting baseball is your whole life. I suspect you may be the only one who took that remark seriously, though.

Anoa Bob 4:58 PM  

@Lucky, think of "tearing" as ripping something apart and "rent" as akin to the verb "to rend", i.e., tear apart.

chefbea 5:02 PM  

@not a moron I use my paring knife. Would never call it a parer.

MetaRex 5:06 PM  

I'll just say that Evil and Evan are two of my very favorite posters and that Evil is an awesome constructor and leave it at that...

Well, just one more thing...in spite of all appearances could E. and E. actually be the same person?...maybe it's a yin-yang show they're putting on for all of us...just consider...

1) EV = EV

2) A skipping one vowel = I;

3) N skipping one consonant = L;

Ergo,

EVAN = EVIL

For extra credit: Prove METAREX = ELLEN S

[Hint: You won't be able to tell from our profile pics]

Milford 5:27 PM  

@lucky - think of rent as a rip or "tear" in fabric, for instance. Hope that helps.

Wow, Papa Rex leaves the kids alone for one day and there's a big argument!

Puzzle was pretty easy, although like @treedweller I also put many corner answers in before getting the theme, even though they felt slightly awkward. (BTW, my brain always parses your name as "treed weller" :)

Like @mac, I associate SLIVOVITZ with Yugoslavia, particularly a summer trip when I was 15. Ah the memories.

ACPT-goers - Have a Michigan-brewed Bells beer at the bar for me (and another for @Z).

MetaRex 5:46 PM  

ok, ok, one more thing on etiquette in response to overwhelming popular demand...

sanfranman59 6:04 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 17:29, 17:16, 1.01, 57%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:37, 9:56, 0.97, 40%, Easy-Medium

I couldn't believe it when Hot POCKETS popped up again this week. We need another neologism for such a coincidence ... kind of a cousin to a malapop.

John V 7:38 PM  

Greetings from Albany; new gig started today. I'm delighted by the welcoming snow storm.

Theme was pretty easy for me, even started at 6:00 p.m., on line, having driven up here leaving CT at 6:00 a.m. Some of the fill, harder, such as PRENAME|DECALRLO cross, ENSTEEL (sooooo ugly), ITISSO (not handsome). All in, easy for a Thursday.

Sorry I will not be in Brooklyn. Folks, go hang out on Smith Street, south of Atlantic. Enjoy.

retired_chemist 8:12 PM  

@ not a moron, @ chefbea - I know, I know. PARER isn't what the knife is usually called. But it *IS* in the dictionary and thereby is legitimated.

Please don't consider me the PARER of bad tidings.....

Z 8:16 PM  

@treedweller - hyperbole is never acceptable. How could you ever expect people who solve a crossword puzzle to be capable readers who can discern sarcasm?

And now for something completely different... @Evan - The s&$* pile anonymouse didn't bother me but the alleged catholic anonymouse of the other day sure did. The argument today is a perfect example of why anonymice are and should be easily dismissed. Whatever we think of Evil or Evan, each of you own your comments. It is a balance between privacy and accountability that seems to work.

Finally - What @Milford said - All you puzzlers have a Bell's in our honor. An Oberon if you like something smooth and a little citrusy and your literary reference to be Shakespearean, or a Two-Hearted Ale if you like it bitter with your literary reference more Hemingway.

mac 8:44 PM  

A parer or paring knife was found in a Walmart birthday cake in Maine...

Elle54 9:17 PM  

I love baseball, but somehow never heard of hot corner. Ron Santo is my favorite hot cornerman. I also thought the placement of hot before the words and not in the actual corners was confusing.
Never got hot TICKET. I thought of score as to cut, or as creating music, but not as in land a ticket. Googled TAL.
Had trouble with Eisner follower too.

Elle54 9:19 PM  

@mac who was the lucky prisoner?

OISK 9:50 PM  

I will certainly be in Brooklyn this weekend. I live there! Didn't love this puzzle, but thought the theme was fine; I am a huge baseball fan, so "Hot corner" was a gimmee. Only clue I didn't like was the clue for "Eli". Who the heck are three dog night? There is a song about Eli coming?? Like many others, I didn't like, although I got, the Oreck-Skil cross. Didn't know "Iger" either. (never heard of hot pockets either, but my wife does all the shopping....)

Laura Nyro 11:04 PM  

Eli's comin'
Eli's comin' (Eli's a-comin')
Well you better hide your heart, your loving heart
Eli's a-comin' and the cards say... a broken heart

Eli's comin', hide your heart, girl
Eli's comin', hide your heart, girl
Girl, Eli's a-comin', you better hide
Girl, Eli's a-comin', you better hide
Girl, Eli's a-comin', you better hide
Girl, Eli's comin', hide your heart, girl (hide it)
You better, better hide your heart
Eli's comin', better walk


1034

Anonymous 11:12 PM  

i enjoyed this puzzle as i couldnt solve all at once had to put it down and pick it up again as my unconscious had incubated some more answers. i guessed hot corners early on with little baseball knowledge and knew then the theme but had some difficulty with where the hot would be. finally it all came together. i dont understand the prejudice against anomice as ive heard the anonymous called.

Eli 11:14 PM  

@Laura - Encourage girls to walk all you want, but after I come I'm out the door before you get out of the bathroom.

Anon 11:29 11:29 PM  

@Anon 11:12 Many folk here are of the opinion that they shouldn't attach importance to anything someone says without their having attached their names to it.

Some of these people swear they don't read posts by Anons, and actually don't read posts by Anons. Some people say they don't read Anonymous posts, but do, then call the person a moron. They call the person a moron for what they said, then backtrack and say they called the person a moron because they posted Anonymously.

I read posts and determine the merit of the post by its content.

sanfranman59 12:34 AM  

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 6:15, 6:10, 1.01, 60%, Medium
Tue 9:30, 8:23, 1.13, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:43, 10:59, 0.88, 25%, Easy-Medium
Thu 17:31, 17:17, 1.01, 57%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:47, 3:41, 1.03, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:33, 4:52, 1.14, 82%, Challenging
Wed 5:36, 6:22, 0.88, 18%, Easy
Thu 9:26, 9:56, 0.95, 34%, Easy-Medium

Naba Thapa 8:38 PM  

manaslu trekking,offering magnificent views of the mount, Manaslu, hinchuli, ganesh himal and exotic Tibetan Nepalese culture.

Joseph B 12:47 AM  

Sorry, but this theme is terrible.

HOT needs to work both across and down, as does in 1A/1D - which was probably the original intention of the puzzle before the constructor bailed.

Why? Definition of a corner: "A place or angle where two or more sides or edges meet."

Without two HOT edges, you don't have a HOT corner; you have a HOT start or a HOT end.

Solved it correctly despite my disbelief that Will gave this puzzle the go-ahead.

Mia Mossberg78 11:17 PM  

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MetaRex 8:18 PM  



A couple of earlier MetaRexian posts--including one on this thread--have been based on the assumption--not sure how I made it--that the irascible, highly articulate, and politically scarlet poster Evil Doug and the very fine constructor Doug Peterson are one and the same person. I have been informed by a reliable source that they are in fact two completely different people.

My regrets!

I will continue to enjoy ED's posts and Doug Peterson's puzzles, but without conflating their creators.

Spacecraft 11:45 AM  

I do not compete because I abhor time pressure that is completely unnecessary. Besides which, I don't love doing this enough to fly 2500 miles for it, so I'll be here schlubbing away.

Some weird, tricky fill nearly did me in: last square was the natick at SL?VOVITZ/?GER. I swear, I put in an "I" because that's the easiest letter to morph into another without erasing--and believe me, that is the ONLY reason I finished correctly.

Ensteel? ENSTEEL?? Yikes, that isn't even a word. Where do you people get this stuff? See, this would never have appeared in yesterday's puzzle; that's what I'm talking about. Barfsville.

OK theme, OK execution. Nice nine-sandwich in the middle there. With clues like "chili" and "spicy pretzel dip" it's not too hard to imagine a HOT theme--even if you don't know the baseball term. Medium. Would have been easy-medium if I'd ever heard of that brandy or that exec.

Dirigonzo 4:18 PM  

Phew, apparently a HOT theme got some commenters Hot under the collar! I finished with a couple of errors, but not because there's anything wrong with the puzzle. The buRNS I so often see at the beach never became TERNS, and when I finally gave up on Exo I for some reason settled on EnT. Favorite answer was the last one to go in, ELNINOS for "Current events". PRENAME took a while, too.

The PARER in a cake somebody mentioned earlier was a knife left in a cake by a bakery employee at Walmart - luckily it was discovered by a parent before it did any harm to anyone at the child's birthday party.

@treedweller: Nice writeup. There was an item in the news today about a hermit who has been living in the Maine woods for 26 years, with no human contact whatsoever in all that time (really - you can google it!) A relation of yours, maybe?

Lover of the Arcane 6:13 PM  

Goodness I love the Bard. Look SO forward to whomever they are when the theme is appropriate.

And I love the word Cromulent too. It cannot be used enough. Too bad TD couldn't work in embiggens.

Ginger 9:38 PM  

Loved the theme, probably because I got it at POTATO/POCKETS. Watch a lot of baseball so HOTCORNER was a gimmie. Knew TINO, remember well when he played for the Mariners, and the disappointment when he went east to the d*** Yankees.

As has been mentioned there was a lot of crummy stuff here. ENSTEEL, unbelievable. However, it was balanced by some pretty good stuff too. OPENERA (my first entry), OPHELIA, and DECARLO (not clued as Yvonne of the Munsters), sparkled.

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