Not of the Buffa Style

The return of Timothy Polin and Joe Krozel.

Comments: 103

  1. When the peepers are peeping down by the crick,
    that's when I know it's spring.
    I sit on the glider swing and listen to them peep,
    smelling the wet mud that makes them happy.

    But first, winter. The sourwood dropped all its leaves today, alas.

  2. Elaine's table linen drawer was invaded by Sierran chorus frogs every spring for years. They'd announce their presence with peeps that we could hear on the other side of the house. By the time we heard them, Elaine needed to wash and iron all the linens. Apparently they get comfortable before they begin to peep.

    I'd escort them outside and they'd find their way back in, and Elaine would have to wash and iron the linens again.

    I finally found the tiny holes they were coming in through and foamed them. I must say I miss our annual visits, but I never washed and ironed all the table linens. I never did figure out why they were so enamored of that drawer.

  3. That's such a fun story, Martin. The persistence of memory, indeed. How many knew that chorus frogs were so salmonesque? (anadromous, as the dictionary has it).

  4. So you would say the PEEPERS were drawn to your linens?

  5. got all the letters. Across-lite does not accept numbers.

  6. Judy,

    The numbers are hint as to the letters you enter into those squares.

  7. Deb writes: There is a Notepad in some electronic versions of today’s puzzle by Timothy Polin and Joe Krozel, which says, “In the print version of this puzzle, the five squares in 50-Across each have a small number in them, as follows: 5 | 29 | 47 | 34 | 43.”

    Interesting. In my print version, the five squares with small numbers in them are not in 50-Across (which has four squares into which I entered ANIS), they are between 49-Across and 50-Across.

    In version, 50-Across has four squares (into which I entered ANIS).

  8. Barry writes: In version, 50-Across has four squares (into which I entered ANIS).

    You forgot the word "my" or "this" in your first sentence, Barry.

    Is this the print edition of the paper, or a PF that you printed out?

  9. Hi Deb,
    In both the PDF and the print edition, the five squares with small numbers in them are not in 50-Across (which has four squares into which I entered ANIS), they are between 49-Across and 50-Across.

    (BTW but OT, I *did* write "my" in the first sentence of my post.)

  10. As a follow-up question, and with my understanding that NYT does not run AL, I am puzzled (as it were) that the "small numbers" could not be shown in all versions. They are, after all, the same "small numbers" that appear in the puzzle to tell us where to start the Across and Down entries. Do these electronic versions really only permit a number to be used once?

  11. Fun puzzle. Tried OPHIS and HOTEP to complete AMEN before figuring out the numbers. Love the pyramid grid.

  12. Martin, Thursday with Tim and Joe can be quite cryptic.

  13. Did you cry, "Mummy"?

  14. Deb—You're no doubt much too young to have experienced this but ANI was overused crosswordese until about 30 or 40 years ago, when constructors finally let it die. I hope this usage is a just a blip, not a recrudescence.

  15. Isn't that about the time "Wheel of Fortune" gave constructors another way to clue AN I?

  16. Paulymath: Yup, probably before my time.

    Kiki: We'll always have ANI DiFranco.

  17. I felt as if I was getting a visit from old friends that I hadn't seen in years.

    ANI de Franco toward one side, I'll always prefer the birdies to the WOF referrence.

  18. and Elke
    My mind was set on Egypt with the clue for Passover month- APR.
    LOOTERS (unfortunately) also fit the theme.
    The CAGED UP MUMMY reminds me of the final scene in "Aida", which plays in Egypt, and is an OPERA SERIA .
    Liked the various "L" clues - TORTS, LSATS, LAMA , LAW BREAKERS .
    T.P. and J.K. even worked in LEAP-Y .
    Really liked this puzzle ; these TWO HEARTS are beating in 3/4 time.

  19. Lest folks think you're seria, "Aida" is no romp in the park but it's not an opera seria.

    They were quite obsolete by the time of Verdi and grand opera. A couple of Mozart opera seria ("Idomeneo" and "La clemenza di Tito" and occasionally "Il re pastore") plus a couple of Rossinis ("Semiramide" and "Tancredi") are the only opera seria that get performed with any regularity by the major companies. I'm a baroque lover so I wish more were staged. Handel wrote a bunch, any of which would be a fine alternative to Wagner now and then.

  20. fwiw, R/Elke, you aren't the only one who LEAPt to "Aida". Part of it, in my case, I think, is that the summer I spent at camp Massad (that's Massad, NOT Mossad), one of our campfire songs was set to the Triumphal March, and seems to have become incorporated into my brain's DNA: B'shurah, m'lukedet nitzana kulanu....
    One of the lines, Lanu tikvat ha'dorot b'yadainu (The hope of generations is in our hands), seems to stand the test of time very well.

    Joe Kro has me wondering now, if the mummies weren't found in the pyramids, where did they all come from?

    King TSK

  21. and Elke
    LEAP-Y- re Camp Massad (cute-NOT Mossad)- would that be the one at Lac Quenouille , in la belle province ? Certain labrats will be attending next summer .
    Leonard Cohen, Irwin Cotler (ex- Minister of Justice ), William Shatner are also graduates. Wondering whether L.C. sang.

  22. Why can't the crossword app include features that the print puzzle has? Why do people paying extra money for an app get a puzzle that lacks features of the print edition? Why do I have to keep asking this?

  23. Totally agree and am a bit annoyed..

  24. Try as I may, I just couldn't unwrap this one. I had to use one of my lifelines. There was no notepad to be found for 50a so I phoned a friend, WP...Operatic comique is more my cuppa TEA. You know the one, where the soprano ha-has her way throughout the performance...I've heard of the equine champion American PHARAOH but the critter at 23d was a new one on me. The four legger won last year's triple crown. Some say the colt's only handicap was the incorrect spelling AP was saddled with when his owner registered the horse's name with the Jockey Club...This duet is a real beaut. Voiceover artist Bob McFadden & Dor (Rod McKuen) perform a cut from the 1959 album ALBU(O)M, "Songs Our MUMMY Taught Us." The song closes as Dor utters the ghastly and currently beat to death CANT 'like' before a feeble attempt to YELL OUT for 'help.' Like, can you dig it?



  25. Like, gee thanks, Bru. Now I'm trying to suppress the memory of once owning all those Dor McKuen books...

  26. Reminds me of this scene from Woody Allen's "Sleeper," in which Diane Keaton recites her new poem to a friend ("It's're so obviously influenced by McKuen!")

  27. Small kvetch: The horse is "American PHARoaH" (not PHARAOH). You know, like the MUSICian PHARoaH Sanders.

  28. "Nice idea" for a different sort of puzzle, (and one of my favorite clues). At first I thought there would be some connection between the answers to the numbers, but it almost instantly became obvious it was the first letters. I didn't have 5D when I got to 50, but it was soon apparent what that first letter was going to be. It was only then that I began noticing all the connections. Great fun. I love Thursdays.

  29. No numbers on the Across Lite version. Made this otherwise easy puzzle very annoying.

  30. The note told me what the numbers were on my acrosslite version, so no problem luckily.

  31. Evelynn, on those days when there is a special note (the 'notepad'), you can find a link to it in a little yellow box on the menu bar above the puzzle.

    Today's notepad did list what the numbers were supposed to be in each of those squares. A little awkward, but at least it was there. Hope that helps.

  32. Sorry, I should have included 'in Across lite' in my previous comment. That's where the little yellow box appears.

  33. Not being an opera buff I found 4 down to be the most oblique clue to the most obtuse art form of the year. I guess we can't know something about everything, can we?

  34. Hi Mike,

    No, we can't, and that's my main point when I hashtag things #TodayILearned or #NowIKnow. There's nothing wrong with learning things from crosswords, is there?

  35. I learn so much from crosswords! To think I have all this knowledge would be giving my undergraduate liberal arts degree too much credit.

  36. Bottom line to a puzzle for me is: How was the solve? There was great pleasure in seeing and working within the out-of-the-box grid (that out-of-the-boxness is ironic, by the way, in a puzzle about a MUMMY), and the solve? With no irony whatsoever, for me, the fun and the feeling of victory was out-of-the-park!

  37. An exceedingly slow, but pleasant and educational solve. It eventually became clear that we were in Egypt. By then, the revealer had been filled. The meaning of the number-coded squares was self-evident as soon as I read the note.

    I did not invoke “check” or “reveal’, but did make a few confirmatory Google searches. My last empty square was 16. SATs did not exist in my day so the only one that I knew – from the puzzles – was PSAT. I googled for the maximum score of PSAT and saw that it is 180, so I confidently keyed in P, but the app refused to accept my solution. After going through the grid for typos and not finding any, I looked up the definition of my entry to 16A. Realizing that it was a no-no, I went through the alphabet until L gave me the happy music.

  38. I had to choose between nephews who took the LSAT and the Grandboy who took the PSAT. Enjoyed the resulting POOTERS.

  39. What a fun puzzle! (New to me: PHARAOH ANT)

    Tsk tsk: OPERA SERIA is an Italian genre, mainly of the 18th century, and your illustrator chooses Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust, which is 19th-century French and not even technically opera! (I recommend an image from Handel, Mozart, or Rossini instead.)

  40. Or Gounoud's 'Faust'--pretty SERIA!

  41. The best part of this puzzle (other than "seahag") for me was the Steve Martin video. Elsewise (Now, why isn't that a word? Folkses uses it all the time...), I didn't much care for this puzzle. I don't care much for most Thursday puzzles. I complaineth too muchly.

  42. Who says it's not a word? It gets support online from Collins, Merriam-Webster and the Free Dictionary.

  43. Noticed the distinctive grid right away and although it wasn't a fast solve was faster than most Thursdays for me. Learned OPERA SERIA and OPERA BUFFA. Did not know ANIS. Nice theme nice solve.

  44. Like Suejean, I love Thursdays and today is no exception. Normally, I am not much of a cat person, but that did seem like one ITEM that was missing.

  45. CS: Cats are nice. Like dogs.

    Best: cats and dogs together. Wonderful games, extra cuddling.

  46. Not my cat and dog.

  47. I did get the lama clue after a few moments, but the truth is there are many, many lamas spread across the globe, including quite a number in the U.S. The Dalia Lama's American "headquarters" in fact is outside of Ithaca, New York. Every good-sized city and many smaller ones have Tibetan Buddhist (and other types as well) centers where people can go to learn about Buddhism, go on retreats, and meditate. So the question mark in this clue (indicating that the clue should be taken as a pun) was a bit confusing to me at first.

  48. I think the question mark is there because the primary connotation of "high" in "high priest" is rank (in a denomination); use of hallucinogens in religious ritual, and altitude, are secondary. And while Buddhism is, of course, a worldwide practice, doesn't "lama" only refer to Tibetan and Mongolian monks?

  49. What about the high altitude of Tibet?

  50. This did seem a bit easier than the usual Thursday--the distinctive grid was a big hint. (A-Lite had a NotePad giving numerals for the boxed-in squares, so a coded entry was already likely.)

    NEAT before TIDY.
    STRAY before STRAP.
    SEA HAG? Perhaps the Popeye movie had this; BLUTO was the bad guy in the cartoons (along with the canned spinach, also villainous.)
    PHARAOH ANT? new fact.

    And now it's all over, all too soon!
    19 seconds on the Mini--so it was also easier than usual, plus I didn't get tangled up trying to change directions.

    'Albert Herring' came to mind with the clue for 4D...I think we saw that in 1980 at Univ of Cincinnati's Conservatory of Music... How long ago that was!

  51. Love the puzzle except for the unfathomable clue with numbers

  52. I'm such a dummy I didn't see the mummy.

    I filled in the whole puzzle but dnf due to overthinking the numbers. I gave up thinking that there's a code I'd never break. Sometimes we just need to not complicate things!

    At first I thought we were going to take a Rorschach test today. Then I saw the PYRAMID ... really nice grid! And a great puzzle, you two, thank you, Timothy and Joe! A most memorable Thursday.

    Question: Did TUT feel CAGEDUP?

  53. Really fun puzzle. I didn't have much to start with - RAMIS and a guess at RASTAMAN got me going in that area. Remembered ALBOM eventually - same with STIHL and AMANA. And then I just guessed and wondered and looked at crosses and it all gradually filled in. Lots of satisfying moments as something became evident. Had CALLOUT before YELLOUT, but that wasn't an issue. ZOMBIES before LOOTERS slowed me down and I had my one failed check on that. I really didn't mind today. Oh, and ELEMENT before RAREGAS also.

    Didn't know buffa or OPERASERIA, but it all worked out from the crosses. Noticed that we had both ETS and ALIENS; isn't there some sci-fi movie where the great PYRAMID turns out to be an ALIEN ship?

    Nice TETES! A great clue/answer combination. Deadline, re the Tappet Brothers - debt paid?

    When I had finished everything else, I looked at the mystery answer without opening the notepad. I had figured the general theme out by then and MUMMY crossed my mind, but I decided to look at the notepad in case it was something trickier and the first two numbers confirmed. Wish I'd gone ahead and tried it.

  54. Yes, RiA, debt paid.

    Thought of you instantly when I saw the clue, but at that point I only had the R and thought maybe they lived in a car. But eventually remembered from the time you made me look them up, I remembered NPR, which proved useful by giving me TABLE LAMP.

  55. Tricky but fun! I think this is my first puzzle with a "notepad", and now that I have a clue as to how they might work in future puzzles, I look forward to seeing more.

  56. Perhaps for next time...
    Print and electronic versions could have been identical if the MUMMY entry had been numbered as 50A in all versions with a clue of "5 29 47 34 43."

  57. I really liked the (ancient) Egypt theme. I knew there was a Lara Something TOMB RAIDER, but PHARAOH ANT was new to me. When I first looked at 16A I didn't have any for-sure letters, and I'm glad I resisted my first impulse to enter NIGERIAN EMAIL.

    SEA DOG before SEA HAG, but no other redos. That's not to say that it was too easy, though. Many of the entries required two or three thoughts and several crossings before revealing themselves. That's the kind of challenge I like--the kind that makes me work a bit, but with an answer that is gettable rather than dependent on specific knowledge.

    Of course, since I never get grid art, some of this was lost on me. The letter code from the Notepad was self-evident, so when I entered the MUMMY I saw that (s)he was resting nicely within a PYRAMID. But what was the rest of that stuff? From Wordplay and xwordinfo I learn that the other three triangular black globs are also supposed to be PYRAMIDs. Two balanced on their sides and one hanging down from ... something? And is the stuff in the middle part of the grid art, or may I just consider it black crossword squares?

    My friend whose healthcare proxy and POA I hold got taken to the hospital Tuesday afternoon. She's in isolation and they won't let me see her. Not clear whether she'll go home when (if?) released, or to a facility. I'm still trying to disentangle her finances, which will probably become even more complicated now, plus a lot of medical decision-making. Argggh.

  58. Sounds overwhelming, DL. Good luck with everything.

  59. What a good friend you are, DL, to take that on.

  60. For your friend's sake, I am glad that you, as POA, will have a say--not just the medical social workers, physicians, etc. However well-intended, they did not know her as a person. Exhausting, I know, but you are a blessing in her life.

  61. What a treat from our co-constructors today. Tried to make out a face when I first saw the unusual grid layout, but that wasn't where we were headed. No notepads or extra clues in the print edition, but it wasn't hard to figure out. The U2 clue was a gimme, and I risked filling in ALIENS based solely on the clue for 45A. Recent discussion here about the Tappet Brothers helped with 51A. OPERA isn't my strong suit, but somehow I knew SERIA v. buffa.

    Before debuting on Broadway, the rocked-up version of "Aida" by Elton John and Tim Rice was issued as an all-star studio cast recording. The reggae-influenced opening track, "Another PYRAMID," was sung by Sting:

  62. My personal favorite from this puzzle was "Nice ideas..." with tete as the answer!

    And speaking of tetes, mine was operating in top form this week! (No pun intended!). In my 2-year history of working New York Times crossword puzzles, this is the first time I actually solved a Thursday puzzle, marking this my first ever 4-day streak!

  63. Congratulations, Diane.

  64. LOVED this! Great grid, clever notion, and cool theme answers.

    OPERA SERIA contained my one wrong square -- I guessed ABBO at 33A because in Spanish (which I'm pretty sure isn't used in Coptic churches but is the only foreign language I ever studied) the male ending is O.

    But if only I'd applied that principle to OPERA, I would have derived the correct SERIA instead of SERIO.

    O, well!

  65. I made the same error, spenyc.

  66. I got Abba, becaust it is a semitic word for father. I Don't know it if is arabic but it exists still in Aramaic, but it survives in french as Abbe for a priest, it is also the word Christ called out from the cross, Abba, which the Bible then translates for us as father.

  67. Some would include ALIENS among the theme answers.

  68. Mitch Albom (58) is a sportswriter who has grown into an author of inspirational stories.

    I remember him as part of a panel of four sportswriters on a Sunday TV program hosted by Dick Schaap. At that time he was a leading sportswriter and columnist for the Detroit Free Press. During my regular lunches with my late friend George, he mentioned Albom’s book Tuesdays With Morrie.

    Tuesdays With Morrie was Albom's breakthrough book. A friend of Albom viewed Morrie Schwartz's interview with Ted Koppel on ABC News Nightline in 1995, in which Schwartz, a sociology professor, spoke about living and dying with a terminal disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Albom, had been close with Schwartz during his college years at Brandeis, felt guilty about not keeping in touch and then reconnected with his former professor, visiting him in suburban Boston and eventually coming every Tuesday for discussions about life and death. Albom, seeking a way to pay for Schwartz's medical bills, sought out a publisher for a book about their visits. Doubleday accepted the idea shortly before Schwartz's death, and Albom was able to fulfill his wish to pay Schwartz's bills.

    The book eventually was on New York Times bestseller list for 205 weeks and as one of the top selling memoirs of all time.

    Albom wrote The Five People You Meet in Heaven in the Clue for 1A after his success with Tuesdays With Morrie,

  69. My favorite Albom piece of trivia is that he and the late Warren Zevon wrote "Hit Somebody! (The Hockey Song)" about a Canadian farm boy who becomes a goon in the NHL. There's an unmistakable guest vocal appearance by David Letterman.

  70. Across Lite doesn't show any small numbers. Please fix the puzzle so that this version has what the puzzle creators intended.

  71. A-Lite had the notification on the notepad, so the 'solution' was to write the numerals down and 'translate.' Only the print (NYT paper) version had the numbers in there, apparently.

  72. In today's 11/17 crossword puzzle the clue was "See Notepad". What, exactly, does that mean?

  73. In AcrossLite it's the little yellow icon next to the date at the top of the puzzle.

  74. Also, if you are solving in the app, any information, like a note, will be under the "i" (for info), which will flash until you tap it.

  75. Lola and Mathew,

    In different ways your comments speak to the same source of confusion.

    Across-Lite has its limitations, so the electronic version of the puzzle is sometimes different from the print version because of AL’s limitations.

    The Notepad which appears above the AL version of the puzzle between the date and the name of Timothy Polin contains the same five numbers that appear in the print version of 50A. To answer 50A in AL it is necessary to see what the letter is in each of those squares that are so numbered in the puzzle. You will have to click on the AL Notepad to read it.

    Have a great day.

  76. So, Martin, how did you like the WATERMAINS?

  77. Martin, since the French word for idea is idée, please explain why the clue for 21A did not have a question mark, aside from the obvious that it would made it too obvious.

  78. I think Martin can come up with a Nice explanation...

  79. Sorry, DC, I was looking for a tete-a-tete with Martin. Nice try, though.

  80. Hi,

    Been cooking and shopping all day. Thanksgiving approaches.

    I wouldn't classify this type of misdirection as wordplay exactly. It's not a pun, for instance. It uses a foreign word to trap the unwary, and that word doubles as a foreign language signal. (Since Nice is a French city, you don't need another French word in the clue. In fact, "idée" would ruin the misdirection.)

    You're not still falling for the old "Nice" ploy, are you?

    Anyway, I would have been surprised to see a question mark.

  81. I liked some of the more subtle pyramid references like, "aliens" and "looters"

  82. I enjoyed the puzzle, but sometimes I'm just face-blind to visual representations, and here I spent a long time trying to make something out of the vaguely X-shaped white squares, rather than looking at the black squares and the lower half of the puzzle. The varied assortment of PYRAMID-related words didn't even sink in for ages. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day.

    Today is my birthday, and I've been running around doing lots of errands--some b-day related and some not. It's a gorgeous day here, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

  83. HB, LB!

  84. Happy birthday!

  85. Have a great day, Liz.

  86. I have to learn to read clues more carefully. *Knees* have SOCKETS?? Hip hip hooray!!

    Knee = hinge (cringe)
    Hip = Pocketa SOCKETa

    Martin, you're up, and please... no supporting evidence en Francais.

  87. I have to learn to read clues more carefully.

  88. Martin, You'a culpa?

  89. I understand. It's been hard times all around.

  90. So, how was it possible to solve this on the mobile app? I can't figure out where there was a notebook. Ruined my streak.

  91. Hi Lisads,

    Any time there is extra info, like a note, you can find it in the app under the "i" at the top. If there is something to read there, it will be flashing until you tap it.

    Also, I posted the note on yesterday's column under "Administrivial Alert!"

  92. I'm confused! I do the crossword on my desktop, to what "i" are you referring?

  93. Fun puzzle. Zoomed through the top half, was brought to my senses in the bottom half where 'd never heard of PHARAOH ANT, didn't know that about LITHUANIA & Eurozone (Eurozone is an official word? Didn't know), TOMB RAIDER was only in the deep recesses of my memory, SEA HAG even deeper, TOY CARS before TEABAGS, NEAT before TIDY, STRAP and SNAIL were hard, but it finally got filled in — except the bonus word.

    The theme was clear, but what was this word? Wanted to get it without the Notepad so tried EGYPT, then LUXOR — but no lux. Aha, it must be something _in_ the PYRAMID, so tried MUMMY. Still no pencil. Finally gave in to the Notepad, confirming MUMMY. Had had (OPERA) SERIO, not SERIA, crossing ABBO (?), but all was well at last.

    Liked the Johnson quote about MUSIC, and just learned more about the guy than I ever knew, at Apparently he wrote a pioneering dictionary of English, which I'm curious about.

  94. Great puzzle overall, had a lot of fun solving it. Loved the 10D and 38A clues. However, I have to admit that I thought that 48A (Whirlpool subsidiary) being AMANA was somewhat of a stretch.

    P.S. As a classical musician, it was nice to see 4D OPERA SERIA thrown in!

  95. Thanks all for solving and the feedback.

  96. That was spu-pu-pu-pu-pooooooky.

  97. Did anyone else really enjoy that PYRAMID SCHEME was on top of LAWBREAKERS which was on top of SALES TEAM - I actually originally thought that there was more of a gimmick here related to a PYRAMID SCHEME than to Egyptian PYRAMIDS. I wonder if that stack was purposeful - I considered it all theme material in my mind.

  98. Too many obscure clues for me. Did not enjoy this puzzle.

  99. there are indeed many LAMAs left in nepal, tibet and india and in fact there are many ANIS as well (the tibetan word for nuns). seems like a missed opportunity for two harmonious clues!

  100. Sorry, but after reading the column and comments, I still don't understand 50a See Notepad. I got everything else. Would appreciate an explanation. Thanks

  101. addendum… I understand See Notepad, I just don't understand how the numbers that are revealed in the squares lead to MUMMY. Please explain so I can get on with my life. Thanks.