Something to meditate on / THU 7-30-15 / Whaling ship that inspired "Moby Dick" / Long vowel indicator / Ones in the closet?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Pretty quick solve for me



THEME: + the names of the sisters from Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women"

Word of the Day: MULLAHS (26D: Muslim V.I.P.s) — as the term is newsworthy today, which compelled me to find a historical definition.
Muslim title generally denoting “lord”; it is used in various parts of the Islāmic world as an honorific attached to the name of a king, sultan, or other noble (as in Morocco and other parts of North Africa) or of a scholar or religious leader (as in parts of the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent). The term appears in the Qurʾān in reference to Allāh, the “Lord” or “Master,” and thus came to be applied to earthly lords to whom religious sanctity was attributed.
The most common application of the title mullah is to religious leaders, teachers in religious schools, those versed in the canon law, leaders of prayer in the mosques (imams), or reciters of the Qurʾān (qurrāʾ). There are no formal requirements for acquisition of the title, but normally persons called by it have had some training in a madrasah, or religious school. The word is often used to designate the entire class that upholds the traditional interpretation of Islām.

http://www.britannica.com/topic/mullah

• • •
Hello, it's Ben Tausig! I'm editor of the American Values Club xword and am a professor of music so get ready for vids in this review. Nice to meet you.

So, anyway, caveat, it is very difficult for me to be objective reviewing a Brendan Emmett Quigley puzzle because BEQ is a legend and a friend. And I have little will to try in any case, so prepare for generosity and congratulations towards Brendan.

Great job, Brendan! Brendan has written and continues to construct a staggering number of puzzles, and self-effacing though he may sometimes be, an extraordinary number of them are inspired.

Real quick, here is a vid from a band, Parquet Courts, that Brendan turned me on to some years ago:



"Little Women" has been thematically mined at least once, but afaik never to such effect. It's straightforward; MEG, AMY, BETH, and JO sneak into common phrases to yield silly phrases. To wit:

Theme answers:
  • TOUGHNUTMEG (17A: Hardy brown spice?)
Decent entry, workmanlike clue
  • BIGAMYBUSINESS (28A: Company that will get you a second spouse?)
Great entry
  • MACBETHNCHEESE(44A: Extremely tacky production of a Shakespeare play?)
Moderate ding for the "n," which feels like an orphan in the silly phrase, but good surface sense
  • TRAVELBANJO (57A: Country instrument played by a migrant?)
Solid

Here's a vid from Kurt Vile, who I know Brendan likes:


I caught the theme quick, after landing TOUGHNUTMEG and seeing BIGAMY at the beginning of the next theme entry. Adding MEG can't signal too many closed sets, and the presence of AMY suggested BIGsomething as a base phrase.

That made ALCOTT (45D: Creator of the characters added in 17-, 28-, 44-, and 57-Across) a cinch. I hit some snags, though, including the tough vocab pockets of AGATES (11D) and MACRON (44D), and JAMUPS, which is a word but not one that rolled off my typing fingers. I also had a blind crossing, my fault I'm sure, at the junction of ANNA (62A: Actress Gunn of "Breaking Bad") and VAL (58D: Cartoonist Mayerik who co-created Howard the Duck), neither of whom I know. This was exacerbated by the fact that I'd entered HEED rather than HEEL (65A: "Follow"). Here's what it looked like before I realized that there probably wasn't a person named VAD or VID or VED:




Here's some stuff that reminded me of Brendan and made me happy:
  • PABST (48D: "The way beer was meant to be" sloganeer, once) — Brendan enjoys beer references.
  • PLUGUGLY (3D: Downright homely) — Classic BEQ; familiar, resonant, cool letter sequence. 
  • ENO (2D: Musician who coined the term "ambient music") — Brendan, as mentioned above, enjoys good music. I'm not strongly confident that Eno actually coined this term, although the attribution is common. I'm finishing Alex Ross's The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century and am reminded how long sonic texture and atmosphere had been vital principles in western music before Eno put his spin on the idea.
  • AMP (25A: Booster for a band) 
Here's ENO's "Music for Airports"; his catalog, remarkably, justifies his ubiquity in crosswords:




Signed, Ben Tausig, person of puzzles. Say hi on Twitter @datageneral or @avcxwords

114 comments:

wreck 12:09 AM  

BEQ has to tone it down for the NYT, but still an enjoyable puzzle albeit a "not so tricky" Thursday. A modern feel to it, but not too hip to be over many people's heads.

Looking forward to Rex's promise of a new "registration" system for the comments - waaay over due!

George Barany 12:15 AM  

Nice upbeat review of @BEQ's puzzle by @Ben Tausig. Not much to add, other than to call to everyone's attention this week's acrossanddown.net webcomic by @Hayley Gold.

jae 12:19 AM  

Easy Thurs. that might have been a medium tough Wed.  No erasures except to change the A to an E in YENTE, and no WOEs.  Caught the theme early and waited for the reveal, which was nicely placed.  See BEQ's comment at Xwordinfo for why it's symmetrical. 

Not a lot of dreck (did not like GAITS though) and a solid theme.  Liked it except for the too easy part ( but then I knew ANNA). 

....and thanks Ben for filling in.

AliasZ 12:20 AM  


I do not remember disliking a puzzle recently as much as this BEQ creation, and by one of the very top constructors, no less. It seems this one indeed follows the disturbing trend of crossword puzzles becoming a trivia contest rather than a test of vocabulary and clever wordplay.

PEPYS (really OK, but not at the prime 1A location), RUPP (who?), ESSEX as clued, ABBA, ANNA (who?), ENO, HARRIS (who?), ALEX, ACER, ARNE (who?), VAL (who?) were enough to make me not give a RAT's GAS about Louisa May ALCOTT and her tiny YENTEs or TARTS. Even with my REST AGE fast approaching I couldn't be bothered to take my time, soak in and appreciate the cleverness of their names hiding in the quirky theme phrases.

Then SPEX(??), JAMUPS (reminds me of George Costanza's "Moops"), KNT, KGB, UNLOCK and UNEARTH so near to each other, etc. didn't do much to help endear the puzzle to this solver, which was clearly not BEQ's and Will's goal when publishing this one.

Sorry, BEQ, for me this one tanked. Does drinking a PABST Blue Ribbon on a LANATE YOGA MAT with or without a MACRON do anything to save this PLUG UGLY puzzle? GUESS NOT.

Favorite word today: SCHISM -- symbolizing the chasm between people who love crosswords puzzles and the English language, and this puzzle.

Anonymous 12:24 AM  

First off, it was great to see a BEQ puzzle in the NYT after a long hiatus.

I also caught the theme early, but since I never read the book, it didn't help me much. :-(

But I was also flummoxed by the VAL/VED Natick at 58D. Having never watched "Breaking Bad" and realizing that HEED is a perfectly fine response to "Follow," I got caught. I'm supposed to know about VAL Mayerik who co-created Howard the Duck? Puh-lease.

Although I think I may still have a Howard the Duck comic book around here somewhere...

I liked the YENTE vs YENTA change-up.

I guess I'll just go have a PABST Blue Ribbon and hit the hay.

Good puzzle, Brendan!

-Brennan

Pete 12:48 AM  

So, if I moderate my comments, what's the point of getting approval of the blog author?

I too got the theme by bigAMY (and she really hated being called that, what with her weight problem). I was truly glad that Mr. Marsh finally learned that "No means No", even in a marital setting, as a fifth themer would have killed me.

I refuse to believe that SPEX is a thing, even with seeing it there in black and white.

Special thanks to Rex for ruining his vacation by something as absurd as moderating the blog.

Steve J 12:53 AM  

Struggled with this a whole lot more than I probably should have. For one, I've never read Little Women, so I can never remember more than a couple characters' names. So most of the theme answers were a long time coming for me (TRAVEL BANJO being the first to fall, but the name JO not sparking any hint of recognition to which author was being called at 45D). Add in some missteps and more than a usual share of things I just didn't know or recognize - MACRON, VAL (as clued), ANNA (as clued), LANATE, YENTE instead of YENTa - and I pretty much crashed and burned on this.

Clever idea, nicely executed, but not a lot of fun because of my own failings.

Loved the clue/answer combo for the end of the puzzle (or at least the last item in the clue list).

Moly Shu 1:01 AM  

Of course buttUGLY before PLUG. Probably knew it wasn't right, just wanted to enter it anyway. Heard of this ALCOTT, not of the other 4, but no harm done. Everything was fairly crossed. Only other mistake was ACCRUeL which gave me eRNE. Both looked plausible until I figured if it was eRNE, why wasn't a shore bird clue used. Ahhhh ARNE. Got it.
Thx @BTausig, nicely done.

chefwen 1:44 AM  

Anyone on this blog who is acquainted with me knows that I am technically challenged. If there is anyone who wants to imbed a really cute cartoon for me I would be very grateful, it's my all time favorite. Berkeley Breathed, Bloom County, image number 78893 "Pengiun Politics" and has to do with MULLAHS. Thanks to anyone who is up to the challenge, I tried, but failed. No surprise there!

One of the easiest BEQ puzzles, never thought I would say that, but there you have it. One write over Bud before BRO at 56A.

MDMA 1:52 AM  

Today's puzzle is a typical Brendan Emmett Quigley in its indulgence in utterly obscure proper names. He goes full-Natick hogwild in the puzzles he publishes on his own site and didn't quite tone it down enough here for the NYT.

RUPP?? And who ever heard of the good ship ESSEX? Together in the same corner, it should have been compensated with relatively easy crosses. I spent a good twenty minutes on that one little corner alone, persisting out of sheer orneriness, hampered by seEmSNOT until GUESSNOT clicked and the rest fell into place.

At least I knew PEPYS, but that's arguably general knowledge rather than outright trivia, and the crosses were friendlier. Your mileage may vary.

Like Ben Tausig, I had HEEd for "Follow" instead of HEEL, but didn't fix it before entering A in ANN_ as the final entry, and so DNF at the very end. After RUPP I shrugged and figured Vad might be short for Vadim when paired with the ethnically ambigous "Mayerik". At xwordinfo.com, Jeff Chen mentions that he too was tripped up by VAL/ANNA.

Astonishingly, LANATE has a history of use. More in the pre-Shotz era, but roughly every five years or so in the Shortz era. That's still too often.

The themer puns were mostly meh, kinda forced and contrived, nothing that would make you crack a smile.

chefwen 1:53 AM  

Wow, have no idea what I did, but my comment disappeared. Probably something stupid on my part. Speaking of stupid, I was putting out a plea for someone to embed my favorite MULLAH cartoon. Berkeley Breathed, Bloom County, image number 78893' Penguin Politics. I tried and failed, no surprise there.

Never thought I would say this, but that was the easiest BEQ puzzle I have ever tackled.

Martin 1:57 AM  

@AliasZ,

RUPP ARENA was famously clued in the Sunday, July 15, 2001 crossword as "Louisville landmark." Since it's in Lexington, it's become a crossword star of sorts. I'm surprised you don't remember Ruppgate.

Music man 2:09 AM  

Wasn't really a fan of this one, but I'm guessing the main reason was never having read the book. I understood what the theme was, but didn't know the relation. So there's some "thing" with the characters meg, Amy, Beth, and Jo, created by "someone." That's all I knew. I have BEQs diagramless book. I highly recommend it.

Also, fun to get a writeup from a music professor, I like those types of people :)

rini6 3:47 AM  

I liked this one. I actually watch Melissa Harris Perry occasionally so that one was easy for me. The cartoonist? Nope never heard of them. I mean I've heard of Howard The Duck but...

Thursday's are always hard for me and this one was too...but it was reasonable.

Also, love the Parquet Courts! :-)

Loren Muse Smith 6:22 AM  

Thanks for subbing, Ben. Much obliged.

Rex – looking forward to fewer nasty posts by cowardly anonymice. My biggest wish would be a system where you couldn't post without a valid email address; that way, maybe the complaints would be sent not to you but to the offender. I realize, though, that this would eliminate some of my very favorite posters on this blog.

@MolyShu – me, too, for "butt ugly" first. I totally bought it because this was a BEQ. Never heard the expression PLUG UGLY, so I had "plum" forever until I revisited the clue for 20A.

I've had the occasion to meet BEQ at the ACPT. I go there to star-gaze as much as anything else, and to speak to him was a real highlight. The first time I accosted him, I told him I liked his nostrils. He was approachable, gracious, and funny.

My first entries were RUPP. No Tar HEEL, that guy.

@Steve J - I struggled with this a lot, too. I haven't read it, either. And Prufrock is as familiar to me as these women, so I had a confident "Eliott" (sic) way before ALCOTT and felt nervous about a poetry theme.

"Ohio" before UTAH, so my HEEL was "obey" first.

Liked PABST crossing SOT. Dad was no SOT, but I can still picture him salting his PABST on a hot afternoon in Chattanooga. I know, I know -f or lots of you, there's likely a deep divide between what you think is interesting and the childhood memories that certain entries evoke. A narciSCHISM, if you will. Guilty as charged. So email me, not Rex, with your complaints.

All in all, a tougher-than-usual Thursday for me, but I finally managed to wrestle it to the ground and enjoyed the fight.

DrLee77 7:04 AM  

@Ben Tausig nice review as noted by others. I like and usually am challenged by BEQ's puzzles and today was no exception. I did not cover myself with glory today.@Steve J I had exactly the same problems with VAL, ANNA, MACRON,LANATE, AND YENTE as opposed to YENTa. The first 4 were all WOES for me. A write over that didn't help was ILEAl for ILEAC.

I got the theme pretty quickly and fortunately knew all the girls's names despite never reading the book. Thank you @Hayley Gold for expressing my opinion much better than I ever could. @AliasZ even though I liked the puzzle I enjoyed your negative review.

PABST was the beer that I started on in college. At a bar in my college town in the late 60's, you could a juice-sized glass of PABST for 10 cents or Michelob for a quarter. $2 went a long way.

Loved BIGAMYBUSINESS and MACBETHNCHEESE and the other 2 theme answers were fine. Unfortunately, I forgot the puns and also forgot Triple A minor league baseball for the longest time so I had L__ate far to long. I finally figured out AAA baseball but couldn't parse MACBETH_CHEESE. That N was my final entry in the grid. DOH. As I said No Glory on this one!!

Loren Muse Smith 7:08 AM  

I meant to say my first entries were RUPP and TARTS. No idea where the TARTS end of that statement went!

Aketi 7:17 AM  

@music man, I read the Louisa May Alcott books a billion times when I was young. I haven't been doing the NYTimes puzzles for very long, but I remember a puzzle that had the names of the Little Women theme recently. I wasn't really a fan of this one because the trivia clues were mostly in my outhouse and I liked the other puzzle better. I'm sure there are many, like chefwen, who will find the trivia well within their wheelhouse.

@chefwen, both posts are there.

Rug Crazy 7:21 AM  

Please someone help me with the Shambles - Gaits connection. Thanks.
PLUM UGLY sounded better

The Rhino 7:49 AM  

I got Meg first so I thought for a few minutes that it would be a Family Guy reference. Tried hard to squeeze MacFarlane into six letters but it wouldn't work. Was not surprised when I discovered it was Little Women instead.

I also wanted it to be buttUGLY. I knew it wouldn't be, but it would have made me so happy.

The Rhino 7:58 AM  

Just saw the 'Comment moderation' comment after trying to post a couple of times. I'm betting that tedious work will make Rex ornery. But I think it's good he's doing it. I have a high tolerance for internet idiocy, but I think this comment board has been getting out of hand. I just want to do my crossword and make a quick comment or two before I finish my coffee (unless it's about the word BIMBO, then I'm here all day) and would like a friendly place to do that.

mathgent 7:58 AM  

BEQ got me. I had to look up ARNE (I certainly should have known him) and then I got naticked at the intersection of ANNA and VAL.

How are we supposed to know Bountiful, a small town in Utah? It doesn't have anything to the movie A Trip to Bountiful.

Hayley Gold was terrific today, especially in her references to Macbeth.

I think that MACBETHNCHEESE is forced. I was delighted to learn from Bill Butler's blog that Thomas Jefferson brought mac n cheese to the US. It's one of my favorite dishes.

I'm disappointed that my brain let me down today. I had _SA and didn't see USA, a network I know well. That would have given me TULANE. Or maybe not because I had ACCRETE instead of ACCRUAL.

On the bright side, I was beaten by a very accomplished constructor. Sorry for all the whining.

evil doug 8:03 AM  

How it's done.

Wanted ALCApp for a bit, but doubted Joe Btfsplk could be added in anywhere. Never read ALCOTT, but know all the gals from frequent crossword appearances.

"Melissa Harris-Perry" and "news" in the same breath? Puh-leeze. What she peddles ain't news....

If you know sports or civil rights, you ought to know Rupp. If you know politics or common core/education, you should know Duncan. If you're into TV or trivia, you probably have become aware of Jeopardy.This puzzle does a nice job of crossing lots of boundaries.

I always wanted those Xray Spex advertised in my comic books.

I wanted Steppenwolf for "Rock Me"; much better song than Abba's, BEQ....

Z 8:05 AM  

I know Little Women from crosswords, but their appearance has been frequent enough that there were no real issues with the theme. Having a fondness for the absurd, MACBETH-N-CHEESE is my favorite.

LANATE got a long stare and I still have to go look it up. My write-overs were Corn BaLl to BELT, ashy to PALE, and rye to LOX, all quickly fixed.

@Benko - Two days in a row. Good catches both. I should know better than to think Shortz can't count.

Two Thumbs Up to Rex.

Glimmerglass 8:10 AM  

The comment by AliasZ says more about AliasZ than about BEQ, this puzzle, or pretty much anything else. Solving this puzzle required knowledge of several, widely divergent fields, and very little of what might be described as trivia (ANNA and VAL, perhaps). Many, many older solvers grew up reading Louisa May Alcott, and a fair number of younger ones as well.

r.alphbunker 8:12 AM  

@Anoa Bob
Is UN a way to manipulate the letter count? E.G.
UNEARTH {Bring to light}
UNLOCK {Crack, as a code}

Puzzle report

John V 8:15 AM  

Nada

RAD2626 8:23 AM  

Liked the puzzle a lot. Thought themers were really clever even though I stared at NCHEESE thinking there had to be a sister's name in it. Clue for KGB terrific. Had REenAct so wrote in LAcuna at first but sorted that out. Right church wrong pew with I'll take..." Wanted Pat Sajak or Vanna as in vowel but got to ALEX. Fondly remember Art Fleming in that role. Good fun solve.

Muscato 8:23 AM  

Well, Thursdays are always variable for me, but this one went fairly well, at least after I got over a huge initial wrong GUESS NOT: I had enough crosses to figure TOUGH NUTMEG, who sounded to me like a creation of the late, great AL CAPP. It took getting three of the four sisters total before I fixed that one!

dmw 8:24 AM  

How can so many of you *not* know Anna Gunn? An outstanding performance as a major character on the best TV series in a long time. If you haven't watched it, treat yourselves.

Arlene 8:30 AM  

I got the theme rather quickly - as others have - at NUTMEG and BIGAMY - so immediately went to the other theme entries to see if I could get those, knowing they had to include BETH and JO. So that was a novel way to solve this. I got stuck at SPEX and RUPP - which I hadn't anticipated, as things were moving along so nicely. Ah well - humbling.

rgards 8:36 AM  

My morning ritual is to solve the puzzle; anticipate RexWorld's reaction; and then turn to this page. In my solving, the clipboard that I use hides the constructor's name, so I don't learn that fact until coming to Rex's site. So, today I expected Rex to pan it (Tuesday-level theme, lamely executed; over-reliance on truly obscure names); that the rebus-lovers would moan; but that M&A would be ecstatic. Seeing that BEQ was the author, I knew my predictions mostly wrong.

I enjoyed the puzzle, but DNF at the 65a/58d Natick.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

Puzzle was OK, but the theme felt oddly familiar, maybe not in the NYT, but possibly in the WaPo or LATimes. Don't really grok why WS always wants to dumb down BEQ puzzles, tends to take off the shine.

GeezerJackYale48 8:44 AM  

@AliasZ, I agree with you. For starters, I was almost embarrassed to see "SPEX". I groaned at "AAA" and "KNT". Too many clues were plug ugly and left me wanting a Pabst.

Nancy 8:45 AM  

I, too, was surprised by the easiness of this BEQ puzzle. Before coming to this blog, I had actually heard of BEQ, but not of PB1. I went tearing through this -- all the proper names notwithstanding -- until I got to the SE, then was slowed down by not knowing LANATE, nor the proper names, RUPP and ESSEX. Agree with @jae that I didn't like GAITS. Thought the theme was cute, although MACBETH N CHEESE was pushing it. To fit the clue, the answer really should have been CHEESY MACBETH.

@lms -- I have no idea what you're talking about, but if I ever meet BEQ, I'll try to remember to look at his nostrils. His nostrils???!!!

Waiting with bated breath for Sheriff Rex to ride into town and clear out the varmints. As @wreck says, it's way overdue! And hearty congrats to those of you who sent Rex a wake-up call. What was it Eleanor Roosevelt said about those who would rather light a candle than curse the darkness. You've all done a real service to this blog and to the many civilized people on it.

chefbea 9:05 AM  

Little women has to be one of my all time favorite books...Played Beth when our class did the play...many years ago. And of course love Mac 'n cheese.

Sir Hillary 9:06 AM  

Call this one "BEQ Lite" because the NYT is a family newspaper.

I share most of the constructor's apparent likes -- music, pop culture, sports, trivia -- so his puzzles are almost always in my sweet spot. This one was no different, and the whimsical nature of the themers, other fill and clues have all the fun BEQ-ness that I love. I smiled throughout the solve.

evil doug 9:23 AM  

I think that would be "plumb" ugly. Plums are kinda cute. Maybe prune ugly?

Rex Parker 9:31 AM  

I'm LANATE for a very important danate. (That "N" was the last thing in.)

I've seen many "Little Women" puzzles over the years. I enjoyed this one.

RP

Mohair Sam 9:34 AM  

Tip of the cap to Mr. Tausig for letting us know up front that his review would be more than a little biased due to his friendship with the constructor. Refreshing.

Big BEQ fan here like most, but just didn't enjoy this one like most of his work. Played medium, nothing specific to dislike (maybe JAMUPS or SPEX), and I'd read the book a hundred years ago - just didn't get into the flow of this one.

So a guy who hated me in the service liked to tell me I was PLUm UGLY. Today I learned I was actually PLUG UGLY. Wondering if I should have been less or more offended.

A shamble is indeed a GAIT. Can there be more than one shamble in that sense? You know what I mean?

Big "Breaking Bad" fan here, but ANNA/VAL cross a natick in waiting for some folks I betcha.

NCA President 9:37 AM  

Along with LMS I had PLUmUGLY...never heard of the PLUG variety. I also, like many others, had trouble in the Galveston area with UTAH/ARNE/ANNA/VAL clusterf!@(#. I had to use one of my cheats to get at least a sign that I was on the right track. Once UTAH was confirmed, HEEL then VAL fell and eventually ANNA too. ARNE I only know as a composer of Rule, Britannia.

I'm a big fan of BEQ and quite frankly, surprised he even submits puzzles to the NYT any more. His puzzles are typically very "edgy," with all kinds of coarse language, very current references, and interesting word play thrown in.

As for this particular puzzle, I think I like the unbridled BEQ better. This puzzle seems like someone taking out their Ferrari and driving it around town, never getting above 25 mph. BEQ has too much fire power to throttle it back into fitting the NYT format. Just my opinion, but having experienced the full and unadulterated BEQ, this one was clearly hamstrung.

I felt like this puzzle was more Wednesday like and I missed the gimmicks that Thursday usually contains.

Whirred Whacks 9:45 AM  

I liked this puzzle -- especially the variety of people answers: from Adolph RUPP to ANNA Gunn (Mrs. "I am the danger") to Samuel PEPYS.

TRIGGER WARNING:
In this PC climate, does the term PLUG UGLY need a trigger warning? I'm looking forward to BUTT UGLY.

Today is one of Hayyyyyyyley Gold's really funny efforts. I especially liked her illustration of the box of MACBETH N CHEESE.

Fun all around!

Marshall Law 10:00 AM  

I am concerned that this blog will quickly become even more of a clique-ish circle of constructors and groupies praising each other than it already is. I suppose that is what Rex and his followers desire, but it might as well be xwordinfo or wordplay.

Haiku Nerd 10:06 AM  

PLUG UGLY MAMA
USABLE YENTE SCHISM
GUESS NOT ANY BRO

Susierah 10:07 AM  

For those of you that have never heard of The Esses, read the historical account In The Heart of the Sea of the whaling vessels journey from Nantucket to Tahihiti. On its return voyage, it was attacked by a giant sperm whale . The ship was sunk in the pacific, with its crew adrift in lifeboats. It is a great book!

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Thought this was easy for a Thursday, with some cute puns but no real spark.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Loved PLUGUGLY. Going to try it out as a comical insult sometime soon!

Z 10:24 AM  

@Evil Doug - While I like MHP more than you I can't argue that her show does "news." Like so much of Fox and MSNBC, what she does is commentary on the news, MetaNews as it were. As for Arne - he's an idiot. Only politicians would ever believe that the problems with schools were the schools and that the solution was more influence on schools by politicians. Stop me before I really get going....

Agree, too, on Steppenwolf over ABBA, proving once again the difference between "worthy" and "crossworthy."

I looked up LANATE and got multiple versions of "covered with fine hair or hairlike filaments, woolly." I'd try to use it three times in a sentence today but, with a projected high of 87° today, it doesn't seem likely.

Hartley70 10:34 AM  

Clearly I need to begin watching Breaking Bad on Netflix, but sooo many episodes and sooo little time. I see references to the show everywhere lately and it's clearly become a cultural icon. I remember reading a review when it premiered and thinking druggie teacher? Nah, it'll never fly. I didn't buy Google stock either.

This puzzle skewed easy for a BEQ, but I don't think of him for a Thursday. I liked the clues for YOGAMAT and YENTE. There was some nice misdirection. I couldn't figure out how ALEX was correct until I got here. Duh! The themers were zany enough to tickle me, but Nancy has improved the third with CHEESYMACBETH, love it!

@lms Salted beer? New one for me, but interesting.

@Rex Thank you.

Clark 10:38 AM  

@Chefwen, as requested, here is favorite MULLAH cartoon.

AliasZ 10:39 AM  


@Martin,

I must have slept through RUPPgate, whether it was in Lexington or Louisville. I didn't know or care in 2001, and I still didn't know or care today. Oddly, I do not feel less of a complete person because of it.

Which points out why trivia are not a good substitute for a rich vocabulary. Today I didn't know any of the trivia, which may be why I was bitterly disappointed after seeing the byline and expecting a Berryescu puzzle with a BEQ twist.

The only thing I knew about Howard the Duck was that it was the worst movie ever made, but I watched it every chance I got as I would watch a train wreck.

And one HARRIS I do know is the important American composer Roy HARRIS (1898-1979).

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

He did not saunter, run, or trot.
He shambled along.

Ludyjynn 10:45 AM  

24 Down provided me with ONE hELL of a time: I confidently wrote in 'land', quickly and just as confidently replaced it with 'loan' and then, seeing the I in BIGAMY, finally wrote LIEN. Exhausting! Other writeover was 'mea culpa' before GUESSNOT. It fits the clue better, IMO.

PLUGUGLY? As in fire hydrant? As in sparkplug? Never heard of it! 'Butt' is the only answer in my lexicon (hi, @WW).

Am in total agreement w/ @Nancy about the better answer as clued to be (or not to be?!) CHEESyMACBETH. Esp. dicey dealing w/ the N in LANATE, which was my word of the day. I will try to commit it to memory. We shall see.

Never read "Little Women", but got the theme at the start. As a devoted ALEX Trebek/"Jeopardy" junkie, have seen the characters' names referenced there quite often.

All in ALL, another 'okay' puzzle.

Thanks, Rex, for intervening. Thanks, Ben, for guest blogging and thanks, BEQ and WS.

Mike Rees 10:53 AM  

I usually look forward to BEQ's puzzles, but as mentioned above this one left me unsatisfied.

Too many cheats for a constructor of his caliber. No one uses SPEX, it's specs. Never heard anyone reference a printer problem as a JAMUP. I was irritated by MACBETHNCHEESE, expecting "and" to be part of that phrase, but it plays okay, I suppose. Lots of tough trivia, many outside of my scope of knowledge.

Aside from those, theme entries were solid and clever, and clueing nice and tough. Although I'm still unsure how rummy = SOT.

Roo Monster 10:58 AM  

Hey All !
Apparently I'm the only one who thought the names were all at the end. Had the JO one first, then got the MEG one, ans said, OK, the other names must be at the end. Forgot the "Little Women " reference and the women's names. As @Loren says, Sheesh! So tried going off CHEESE and NESS as the names! Fun times... When I gpt BIGAMYBUSINESS, I kept saying, "What the heck is a BIGAMY BUS?"

Had to Goog PEPYS, never heard of. ABBA also throwing me off, having teenS for ALUMS, so Googed for ABBA. Those two answers got me the NW, but still DNF on the center. Left blank and came here. Really wanted YENTa, but had the E at the end, so said "Nah, can't be YENTE." So missed that, also KNELLED, LANATE, KGB. Ugh. And not even a trick puz! Se la vie. ILiAC, too. Whereas ILEAC a WOE.

Agree with the SPEX(??) crowd. Had gin for SOT. Put HEEL in first, so at least didn't get tripped up there. Not my fav ThursPuz, but still an OK one. Wheelhouse, and all that.

SCHISM
RooMonster
DarrinV



jberg 11:02 AM  

I never read "Little Women," but I know it from playing "Authors," somehow knew that AMY and JO were in it, and my wife was able to supply the other two names. So I got the theme from the revealer -- before that I only had BIGAMY BUSINESS and was looking for alliterative wackiness.

I never heard of that RUPP fellow, and was expecting the Lexington in question to be the one next to Ms. Alcott's Concord, but it didn't make any difference.

I was not well versed on the differences between the ileum and the iliam, so I tried ILiAC before ILEAC. And I object to KNT, an abbreviation never used in chess -- it's either N or KT. But I figured all those out, only to be slain by Howard the Duck, where I went with Ved/ANNe/HEEd. Heed is a better answer, IMO -- if you tell a dog to HEEL, it is supposed to keep its now roughly even with your left knee, so it is not exactly following.

I like the moderation idea, if it doesn't wear @Rex out. At least it should reduce the number of people pretending to be other people.

ani 11:11 AM  

Nathanial Philbrick wrote a wonderful book about the Essex.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:15 AM  

Worked most of my way around the grid thinking, "OK puzzle; shoulda been a Wednesday," but ultimately, DNF.

My downfall came in four spaces: For 41 A, I had a rock-solid, couldn't be wrong ARB for my "Deal maker; Abbr." (for arbitrageur) and my ABS (Aging Brain Syndrome) prevented me from coming up with KNELLED at 36 A. There was no way I would find KGB from _RB or YENTE from YE_BE, especially with both cleverly clued. Not complaining; all valid entries, just couldn't think of them.

Malsdemare 11:23 AM  

@Clark THANK YOU! Bloom County was my go-to book for illustrations of social psych principles back in the day when I taught. Breathed is a treasure.
I knew Rupp! I'm a sports' idiot, but a Marquette grad back when Al McGuire was chasing championships and Adolph Rupp was a legend.

I hated "Little Women," loved the puzzle, didn't know many of the very current pop culture references (yes, Young Turk, I'm ancient). I may have to start watching Breaking Bad.

I am curious how ya'll know that Rex is going to somehow rescue this blog. I hope he isn't going to sanitize it TOO much. An occasional dollop of horseradish can be a good thing.

Thanks BEQ and BT for a nice Thursday morn.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

I figured a 4-letter "A" band had to be ABBA or AC/DC. Guessed wrong. Easy fix.

Anoa Bob 11:37 AM  

@r.alphbunker, I think the essence of an LCM is adding to a word's letter-count without adding much of anything to the meaning, value, or interest of that word. It's nonnutritive filler, semantically speaking, that takes up additional white space and makes it easier to get the grid filled.

To me, the UN- prefixes at 13 & 21 Across add significant meaning to both LOCK & EARTH, beyond just boosting their letter-counts, and would not qualify as LCMs. The RE- prefix at 43 Down, by contrast, doesn't add much beyond boosting the letter count of STAGE, and would be, as your analysis shows, an LCM.

Steve J 11:41 AM  

@Malsdemare: In large type immediately below the comments box is a note that comments are now being moderated and won't appear until reviewed and approved. Rex also posted a notice on yesterday's blog and on Facebook.

Speaking of Facebook: For the Bloom County fans, Berke Breathed has revived Bloom Count. He publishes 3-4 new strips there a week, starting 2-3 weeks back. It's been wonderful to have it back, and it hasn't skipped a beat through its 25-year hiatus.

Joseph Michael 11:41 AM  

Having not read the book, my knowledge of Little Women comes mainly from crosswords. Got the theme early on and liked what BEQ did with it, especially MACBETH N CHEESE.

Would have been nice to have a few less irritants along the way, such as RUPP and SPEX (really?), but found it appropriately Thursdayish thanks to the cluing.

Had no problem with the VAL/HEEL cross but it was just a lucky GUESS.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:19 PM  

At the risk of sounding snarky, which is not my intention, I will point out that the clue for 65 A is "Follow" in quotation marks, which I am sure is meant to signal that it is a command, as one would say "Sit" or "Speak."

With the quotation marks, as a command, "HEEL" is the only possible answer; only without quotation marks can it mean HEED.

wreck 12:23 PM  

I guess I understand the dissatisfaction with SPEX, I think the only reason I didn't flinch much was that I knew it was a BEQ puzzle and expected a few "odd" answers that are more "slang" than proper!

weingolb 1:14 PM  

I agree with @Bob Kerfuffle regarding the HEEL complaints, and would add that the use of quotes also makes the SE a bit easier by laying out GUESSNOT, since it's the commonly heard utterance. Seems not and others don't click.

Sure, the trivia makes today a challenge — I had simply no clue about the names of some TV host, actress, cartoonist, and arena — but I finished the puzzle in ink by methodically playing the crosses. Which is to say no NATICKS for me (ANNA/VAL could've been one if the final A wasn't implicit as the correct name completer there).

Two scribbled out answers: butt for PLUG and HEre for HEEL. It seemed very solvable and very fresh. I thought it was particularly rewarding because cluing styles ran the gamut (making it a puzzle of the people rather than cliquish... because it's not the fill that makes puzzles go, it's the cluing).

In terms of ugly fill, AMT isn't great, but it definitely gets its best cluing ever. Small price to pay? is brilliant. KBG, AGT and KNT aren't great fill either but they are better than the dreary INA, ENS, XVI et al... they just are. Freshness is a plus. Plus, KGB AGT literally forms a plus. Crossing them is unintended, sure. But the abundance of 3-letter words here, something that can be a drag, also produces JOB ONE to finish the puzzle. It's my favourite puzzle in weeks.

Noam D. Elkies 1:18 PM  

VED is the 22nd letter of the British alphabet (so the ABC song rhymes V with Z).

3D:PLUG_UGLY should be the star entry of a "both parts go with X" puzzle like yesterday's with X=DOUBLE, though I wouldn't expect the NYTimes to accept such a puzzle :-)

NDE

mac 1:49 PM  

I liked this puzzle a lot, knew enough of the names and picked up on the theme quickly. Macron, plug ugly and Harris were new, but easy to get. Seemed like an easy-medium Thursday.

Have to admit I felt proud to solve a BEQ so easily!

Thanks, BEQ, BT. Nice one.

Suzy 1:49 PM  

Hooray for the return of Bloom County!!! And a very nice puzzle! And, thank you, Rex, for moderating comments!!

Suzy 1:51 PM  

I'm with you-- should be required reading for every 6th grader in America!

Leapfinger 2:08 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, it was precisely the quotation marks you mention that led me to interpret the clue as "Follow my words/lead", as spoken to a person rather than to a dog. Alas for twisty thinking.

I used to get my glasses at a neighbourhood place located near Northgate Mall, later on Ninth St near East Campus. It has now moved down to Southpointe, but in all three locations the sign read SPECS, writ large. I 'spex that's one reason I balked today, but couldn't justify a lone ESSE[cs] rebus. Don't know what UNEARTH SPEX was all about.

As a young'un, I was a serial AlcottophILEAC, and credit that with learning words like 'buskin' and 'demijohn', phrases like 'Lo, the postilion is struck by lightning!' and little BIgAMY's malapropish 'grasping Time by the fetlock', which I sheepishly admit still comes to mind at irregular intervals. (I have time-management issues, you see.)

Lots of orthopods are jocks; given that, in conjunction with the classic Dook-Kentucky rivalry and the generalized roundball mania in these here parts, it wasn't hard to link Adolph RUPP to the Lexington arena. (@Martin, am hazy on details about RUPPGAITS.) There was not, however, going to be any easy out for me in that 3-way cruncher mid-South; since I still talk more to people than to dogs, I never questioned HEED (see above), and had no basis for preference with Vad vs Ved. My first true Natick in a long time.

Curious that they'd trot out TARTS for another shamble down Bimbo Lane.

I once had a Corn Belt made out of Corn Silk. There's some would say (vociferously, I 'spex) that I never made it out of the Corn Belt.

You'd get no PEPYS out of me had this come out on a Wednesday, but (like @NCAPrez and I'm sure some others) I'm looking for more tricksiness on a Thursday. And more better 3s.

Thanks to Ben Taussig for a good JOB with an upbeat write-up. Was chuffed BEQuase much of my solve was similar to yours.

That's ale for now; it's Pabst my naptime.

LindaPRmaven 2:11 PM  

Super clever puzzle. Loved the literary stuff - PEPYS, ALCOTT and the Little Women, ESSEX, MACBETHncheese (inspired but then I used to work for a theatre specializing in Shakespeare). Medium for me until the SW where, stuck in literary mode, I tried to fit something Texan into 52D as in the "Trip to Bountiful" play by Horton Foote. Overthink alert! Kudos to BEQ.

The Dog Whisperer 2:16 PM  

Sorry all, but as a proud owner of an untrainable but adorable mutt, "follow" does not mean HEEL. " The command HEEL simply means "walk right beside me until I tell you otherwise"." Walking beside is very different than following.

Leapfinger 2:17 PM  

ps, I don't see this 'moderation by the blog author' as an optimal plan, since many comments are submitted hard on the blog's appearing. Besides producing a blog to appear at midnight (usually) will @Rex or an @Rex double now stay up through the night or rise at 0600 to open the gaits? And manage the early morning freshet? The entire character of the blog will change, and OFL will wither on the vine.

We need a PLANB.

Rex Parker 2:24 PM  

The character of the comments section *should* change. It's so much nicer in here today. I'm not interested in blog comments about blog comments about blog comments, and most of my readers aren't either. If you live for cross-talk and club-like chatting, or lonely peevish jackasses trying to irritate one another, maybe create your own little room and go there.

This moderation thing is great for now. (I have minions, so it's not all on me) Trust me, only difference is shitty off-topic nonsense goes straight to Trash and remaining comments (i.e. the Vast majority) are delayed a bit but ultimately appear.

I might go to a different system in the future, but right now, this isn't open to a vote. Like it or lump it.

RP

Jamie C. 2:28 PM  

And all this time Rex said he never read the comments! I knew he cared!

Pete 2:29 PM  

@Leapy - Rex stated he would do something else in the near future enforce some degree of accountability among commenters. His moderating manually, as he's doing now, is clearly a stopgap measure. Given that he's taking time away from family on vacation to do so is quite generous.

Trombone Tom 2:31 PM  

Not as edgy as some BEQ's but I enjoyed it. Most of this was in my wheelhouse. I think SPEX is an outlier.

Rex Parker 2:32 PM  

PS if you aren't in some way talking about the puzzle or about the write-up, your comment simply isn't getting through. Criticize the write-up all you want, criticize the puzzle all you want, but if it's not puzzle/write-up related, or at least crossword puzzle-related in some useful or interesting way, it's toast.

RP

mathgent 2:33 PM  

In today's The Arts, more rapper names. Young Jeezy, Future, Migos, Metro Boomin, Quavo, Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, Raury, Father, ILoveMakonnen. Soon appearing in a crossword near you.

dick swart 2:39 PM  

Rex ... system sounds good! A blog with less acrimony!

Hear! Hear!

Re today: too hard for me, most specific references to any thing/one past 1990 are going to be total losses ... a reflection of age of this xworder. I'll be 81 next week.

But great clueing, now that I am looking at the answers.

A Thursday as a Thursday should be: Great construction and the rest up to the abilities of the received!

chefbea 2:40 PM  

This was a headline in our paper today:

Afganistan: Mullah Omar died two years ago.

I knew what it meant because of the puzzle!!

dick swart 2:43 PM  

RE: mathgent's list of possible new entertainment names of inclusion ...

God, I hope not!

r.alphbunker 2:47 PM  

@Anoa Bob
What about UNHAPPY/HAPPY?

Campesite 2:55 PM  

Ben Tausig reviewing a typically solid BEQ with Rex in the commentariat! All this with no obnoxious anonymice! Not bad, feels like the old days around here.

generic solver 3:00 PM  

BEQ said "Relative difficulty: Pretty quick solve for me." This failed to help me understand in the least whether this was an easy or hard puzzle, since his rating would be true, I presume, of pretty much every puzzle the NYT has to offer.

Nancy 3:29 PM  

@dick swart -- you beat me to the punch with your 2:43 reaction to @mathgent's 2:33 new Rap groups list. I had exactly the same thought: "God, I hope not!"

Steve J 3:35 PM  

@Rex: Thanks for adding moderation and for keeping us to date on how you're judging things worthy of inclusion. Agreed, it's much nicer in here today.

And I'm glad you have minions. Moderation can be a big time suck, so it's good it's not all on you. And so far, it doesn't seem like it takes all that long between batches of approved comment updates, so the conversation seems like it should still flow well.

Billy C 3:41 PM  

Thumbs up for today! Great review, great comments, and no snark to be seen anywhere. It's like living in Prozac Nation!

GILL I. 4:00 PM  

Thank you, Rex...and we get the real evil back; just what the doctor ordered.
I've been down for the count these past many weeks but am somewhat thrilled that I didn't lose too many brain cells in the process.
Wow, I get a BEQ...Two if you count his blog one...
I think it was @Steve J who well describes a BEQ NYTimes crossword. He's so much more careful [sigh] and, frankly, I'd love to see some of the jolly mud he slings when on his own. At least we got PLUG UGLY ( LMS I too had the purple plum)
This was a bit of a TOUGH NUT to solve for moi - had LOYOLA instead of TULANE and a malapop for GAS and TNT. Knew the theme was Little Women which I had to read since my grandmother made me. Didn't know the RUPP SPEX and by golly am I the only one who HATES Baby MAMA???
So nice to not read the nasties. I'm jolly happy again.....

Mohair Sam 4:04 PM  

@Rex - Haven't been paying much attention lately and was confused today by what "moderation" might entail. Thanks for posting this afternoon and clearing that up. Much appreciate your efforts here - and the difference shows today. Thank you.

Chip Hilton 4:05 PM  

Not my favorite. @AliasZ pretty much nailed it. I really didn't care for the four theme answers - silly and forced. This is the third consecutive Thursday that didn't grab me, usually my favorite day of the puzzle week. This, too, will pass.

OISK 4:46 PM  

Brutally difficult for me. Finally got ANNA, Val, and Arne, although I am familiar with none of them. But I finished it. Didn't know Melissa Harris Perry, but Rupp (I watch a lot of college hoops) and Pepys were no problem. Nice puzzle, no real complaints from me; difficult is fine, as long as it's fair.

jae 5:27 PM  

@Campsite - Yes it does.

@generic solver - you are misreading the difficulty comment. It's Ben who is saying it's a "pretty quick solve", not BEQ.

chefwen 5:49 PM  

I keep trying to add a comment, but Google keeps messing with me. Will try again.

A big THANK YOU to @Clark for embedding my request.
@GIL I - Welcome back, I was concerned. You are not alone I hate BABY MAMA almost as much as I hate BABY DADDY.

If google makes me change my password one more time, I may have to give up.

Anoa Bob 6:53 PM  

@r.alphbunker, trying to think of an example where UN- as a prefix would qualify as an LCM, but can't come up with any. Seems like it always makes a substantial enough semantic contribution to the word to which it is appended to justify the resulting increased grid space that gets filled. Maybe you could rule out UN- prefixes altogether in your LCM algorithm.

Anonymous 7:32 PM  

I agree, but I am often put off by trivia. This is the first puzzle in a long time that I haveI abandoned.

Teedmn 7:57 PM  

This puppy was a what UNEARTH for me. Over forty minutes and I have a six book ALCOTT collection!!

So far no one has mentioned that the girls aren't in order. I had my NUTMEG and MACBETH so I expected JO in 28A and AMY in 57A. That and having LoaN ( @Ludyjynn :-) ) instead of LIEN accounts for much of my solve time. And had in my head that Bountiful was a villa in Italy so I couldn't get Umbria out of my head. Fixed all only to breathe a sigh of relief as I finally sussed HEEd. DNF, RATs.

Thanks BEQ and Rex Parker

Z 8:00 PM  

I have an iPad tech question I'm trying to answer. This is a test.

Tita 8:07 PM  

Ha ha - @mdma and @AliasZ - my first reactions were to fully second both your comments...!
THis was REAL hard for me - names and vagueness did me in.
Last ONE? Ummm - green paint much? I guess theutter awesomeness of that as the last clue was hard to resist...
But it pales in comparison to Tom Pepper's masterpiece...my first entry began at 1D BEGUN, and ended with 53D ENDED.

But at the end of the day, I did have a fun solve. Thanks BEQ.
And thanks Ben.

I look forward to the "new and improved" comments section, and hope that the annoying-for-Rex moderation phase doesn't last too long!
Thanks Rex!

Leapfinger 10:16 PM  

Odd that a shambles isn't the POC of a shamble.

Can someone remind me what LCM stands for? Assuming it isn't Least Common Mondegreen?

@Pete, thanks. I went back to read my comment, and it sounded more sharply critical than I'd intended. What I was envisaging seemed unsustainable, likely to become a burden on the moderator(s) before long; I'm always in favour of devising a system that operates without constant supervision, to the extent possible.

It goes without saying the I appreciate what Rex does, whether he's fitting it into his work schedule, or taking time away from vacation. It goes without saying but it won't, since I will, because I do.

@Gill, good to see La Condesa back. Another thumbs-down for Baby Mama.

Guess what comes up if you google RAVEL BANJO?

generic solver 10:17 PM  

Oops I got my B's confused! The sentiment still stands.

Teedmn 10:53 PM  

@Leapfinger, LCM is Letter Count Manipulation. If you go to @r.alph bunker's 8:12 AM post and go to his puzzle report link, he has a link to @Anoa Bob's LCM definition which I'm too lazy to imbed myself.

paulsfo 10:55 PM  

Wasnt an easy thursday for me.

Mr. Tausig,
praising your friend's puzzle is fine, but singling out AMP and ENO *for praise* really hurts your credibility. :)


YENTE's clue seems bad to me. I get it; i just don't like it. However, "One doing the dishes?" *would* be a great clue for WOLF or ALPHAMALE.

Got PEPYS right away but took three tries to get the correct spelling.

RUPP (not obscure) and ESSEX (pretty darned obscure) are both easily getable from the crosses.

I didn't know ANNA or VAL but I don't consider it a natick but both were very common names -- I think that very obscure clues for common words are kosher. ANNe/Vel, on the other hand, *would* have been unfair. Maybe a good rule of thumb would be "I can't possibly be expected to know Mr/Ms Mayerik's first name, so I'll assume that it's a common name.

Regarding moderation: I have a few concerns since (1) I often solve late-night on West Coast, and I assume that Rex is asleep then, and (2) other people will have similar issues at other times and I assume that Rex must sleep *some time.*

A suggestion: Rex, give moderator authority to four or five (or more) commenters whom you trust, so we get posted in a timely manner. You could tell them that they can okay things that are fine, and delete things that are clearly not (Spell-caster spam, etc), and to leave any borderline cases (crossword-related but with some personal attacks) for you to decide.

Alison 11:22 PM  

I solve in actual newspaper and kept wanting Shakespeare clue's answer to involve Hamlet because of NYT story about Benedict Cumberbatch playing the Great Dane in London.

Leapfinger 5:06 AM  

@paulso, excellent alternative answers to "Doing the dishes?" clue.

Perhaps we can call the ANNA/VAL cross a situational Natick, since it certainly seemed to function as one with HEED in place.

Catching up on late additions to yesterblog is an unintended consequence of new system, while waiting for curtain to goup.

0504, nicely spun Webb

Burma Shave 11:59 AM  

ONE AAA MAMA

ANNA wasn’t at all PLUGUGLY and I GUESSNOT nearly fat,
but she gave BIG AMY BUSINESS by buying her YOGAMAT.

--- KGB AGT ARNE SPEX

today’s stream of unconsciousness brought to you by PABST

eastsacgirl 12:02 PM  

Sussed out the theme early so was pretty easy Thursday. One writeover at ANNe and VeD. Was actually kind of fun.

spacecraft 12:12 PM  

Amusing themers, especially BIGAMYBUSINESS, a real hoot and the star of today's show, no question. Starting in the NE, I had the first long across ending in -MEG, took a peek at the reveal clue (not hard to spot, what with ALL those numbers-with-dashes), and immediately grokked "Little Women" by ALCOTT. Had dOUGHNUTMEG there for a while before realizing that "PUD" made no sense. A similar moment in the east occurred with SPEc and ESSEc. Uh, GUESSNOT. X, really? Would BEQ do that? SPEX?? Guess so. Well, if he'd allow KNT (not an approved designation I've ever seen: it's either the old KT or the newer, more sensible N), he'll allow ANY old thing. Not AAA today; not evenh a single A. B-. Let's clean up those PLUGUGLY fill spots. Heard of BUTT UGLY, but PLUG UGLY is a new one on me. Works, though.

rondo 12:28 PM  

Never read ALCOTT, but the names come around so frequently in xwords that they’re hard to forget.

I suspect @spacey will have something to say about VAL Myerik and Howard the Duck. I have some memories from my HERBAL days.

For years PABST was my beer of choice, mostly because of availability. Before the light beer days.

ANNA Gunn, bad breakin’ yeah baby. Melissa HARRIS, not so much especially with a huge tax LIEN. PLUGUGLY then.

Adolph RUPP, ONE of the best hoops coaches ever. Gimme.

LOVED the KGB AGT cross. What a GAS.

I had a slowdown in the SE, but I GUESSNOT too bad a puz.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

This was a tough nutmeg to crack but I finished with only two look-ups: Melissa Harris and Val Mayerik. Got the theme quickly because I started in the SW corner. Far too many proper nouns and never heard of big mama. All geek to me.

Even though I filled in all the squares, it just wasn't fun. lanate, Rupp, plugugly???

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA
(Where Elvis Presley shops weekly at Walmart ........but it's never reported out of respect to his privacy).

leftcoastTAM 6:15 PM  

I liked this puzzle until I ended up in the SE where the clues seemed too clever by more than half and the crosses qualifying for Natick status. Especially vexing were the RUPP/SPEX and the VAL/ANNA crosses.

I also found the revealer clue confusing: were the ALCOTT characters really "added" to the answers or more accurately "found" in them? They weren't just added to the answers, they were essential to make any sense of them.

Okay, that's my rant for the day. Thank you (if anybody's out there) for listening.

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

P.S to leftcoastTam: In regard to yesterday's query, I read you all the time, along with all the Syndies. Hang in there!

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA (George Washington never slept here.....not even once....not even a nap).

Phan Huỳnh 10:24 PM  

Gương là một loại vật dụng được xuất hiện trong nhiều câu truyện huyền bí, tâm linh, màm vỡ gương báo điềm gì và những điềm báo khi Chim bồ câu bay vào nhà báo điềm gì. Nhện loại động vật rất thân thuộc với người dân việt Nam, tuy nhiên chúng cũng có thể báo trước những điềm Nhện sa trước mặt là điềm gì

Forever 21 và hm là những thương hiệu thời trang nổi tiếng được nhiều người tiêu dùng ưa chuộng, vậy zara là hãng thời trang của nước nào. Khổ qua với nhiều tác dụng trị bệnh mang lại lợi ích cho sức khỏe của con người lá khổ qua rừng trị mụn và những tác dụng của lá khổ qua. Trắng da là điều mà nhiều chị em phụ nữ mong muốn, chính vì thế không ít chị em phụ nữ thường dùng đến các loại mỹ phẩm vậy mỹ phẩm cathy doll có tốt không . Hãy cùng tìm hiểu qua bài viết này nhé.

Rắn là một trong những loại động vật rất linh thiêng, những điềm báo từ rắn thường khá chính xác. khi
Rắn bò vào nhà là tốt hay xấuĐom đóm bay vào nhà báo hiệu điều gì. Nên làm gì khi có những điềm báo biết trước này.

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