Controversial fish catcher / THU 10-6-16 / Sweet plant of mustard family / Letter embellishment / River that's home to black spot piranha

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Medium (entirely because of the NE quadrant—else Easy)

THEME: MIDSIZE (42D: Neither large nor small ... or a phonetic hint to 17-, 30-, 45- and 57-Across) — "sighs" are added (sound-wise) to the "mid"dle of several familiar names / phrases, creating wackiness, which is then clued wackly (i.e. "?"-style)

Theme answers:
  • CLIP CYCLOPS (17A: Give an "Odyssey" character a trim?)
  • PET PSYCHO (30A: Favorite whack job?)
  • BILL SINAI (45A: Invoice a whole Mideast peninsula?)
  • SEMPER SCIFI (57A: Motto of a huge "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" fan?)
Word of the Day: ALYSSUM (23D: "Sweet" plant of the mustard family) —
noun: alyssum; plural noun: alyssums; noun: sweet alyssum; plural noun: sweet alyssums
  1. a herbaceous Eurasian plant that bears small flowers in a range of colors, typically white or yellow. Several kinds are widely cultivated in gardens. (google)
• • •
Gotta get back to watching the NL Wild Card, so let me just say 'no.' I mean, the theme's OK, though it's pretty cornball, and there's almost Too much wordplay going on (in the answers, in the revealer). The answers weren't that funny, and the clunky cluing really, really didn't help. You really have to have a decent sense of humor and a good ear when you do Wacky clues, and these clues just didn't land. I do think there's a certain cleverness here with the revealer, which makes this otherwise unremarkable add-a-sound puzzle at least a little special, but the puzzle is neither fun or funny. Plus the fill—what is GILL NET? (7D: Controversial fish catcher) What is ALYSSUM? (23D: "Sweet" plant of the mustard family) I got DON JOHN only from crosses and a vague memory of that being somebody's name in something I read once (12D: "Much Ado About Nothing" villain). Those three answers (esp. the first two) were weird outliers, familiarity-wise. I love how the clue writer thought quotation-marking "Sweet" would somehow tip me off to ALYSSUM. What the what? Oy, there's an answer where I needed literally every cross, and had to really think about ALYSSUM v. ADYSSUM, because the cross was at least mildly ambiguous (27A: Threaten => LOOM, not DOOM). I also thought the revealer might be ONE-SIZE. It fits.

  • 16A: Children's author Asquith (ROS) — high-order crosswordese. Totally blanked on it. Get her confused with EDA LeShan tbh.
  • 26D: ___ gun (SPEAR) — Had ---AR and went with RADAR...
  • 38D: Barbecuer's supply (RIB MEAT) — ew. What? Your supply is ribs. Presumably, yes, they have meat on them, but you call them ribs. Or (and this fits) RIB TIPS. Can you barbecue ribeyes, 'cause that also fits.
  • 10D: Charge (TASK) — Had TASE at one point. Because a taser ... provides a charge ... of sorts.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:08 AM  

Mostly easy for me too except for @Rex the NE which was tough. ROS, DON JOHN, ALYSSUM (sort of) and KANJI were all WOEs. Plus, I was looking for a consistent letter pattern at first, not a sound pattern.

Also, Red > Raw > RIB for 38d.

Not fond of this one, it just seemed messy.

Rita Flynn 12:34 AM  

I really kinda hated this one. Slogged through it. Didn't like the theme.

George Barany 1:04 AM  

Uncanny how much my experience with @Timothy Polin's puzzle tracked what @Rex has reported (and that includes the unreported consternation at the dramatic outcome of the NL playoff game). Speaking of baseball, t was great to be the reminded of the SAY_HEY Kid, @Willie Mays, last seen in San Francisco on Sunday giving @Vin Scully a memorable sendoff.

I found the DENZEL clue to be very clever, and learned yet another factoid about the crossword-ubiquitous Brian ENO. The ESKIMO clue as used here was a fun way to avoid possible pejoratives, though any intended misdirection to recent Presidents is unlikely to fool anyone. For the 2016 Minnesota Crossword Tournament puzzle that I wrote, ESKIMOS was clued as "They're reported to express affection by rubbing noses."

I've worked with garlic-derived ingredients, which all contain allylthio (CH2=CH-CH2-S-) moieties, a useful way to remind me that the garlic PHYLA is Allium so why not have a mustard plant start with AL...? Then there's the Schiller chorus in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, "...Tochter aus Elysium..."

Ghostface Puzzlah 2:26 AM  

Um, GIRT, anyone? Even Google couldn't help me here.

Larry Gilstrap 2:40 AM  

Come on folks, that puzzle took time. I live in a town where I hear the greeting "Hola" quite often. That's what Mexicans say when they meet. Lucky me! Not sure I like that whole drop the "sigh" theme. I know that PETpsyCOho Park is a great place to see a ballgame. I have heard that a variant of a Cuban lung disease is RHUMBA. Poor communist comrades! I totally read BILL Nye's books about anthropogenic climate change. Good writer! What does anthropogenic actually mean? Ok, got it.

I explored the western US in a 1970 Volkswagen bus, and displayed DECALS of our favorite spots in the window.

Last night I strolled into my favorite bar, Carlee's Place and my amigo Shino was the chef and the special was ribs and I ordered rib tacos, no where to be found on the menu. Yea me! Apropos of nothing, except 38D. Let's rearm America with spear guns. No shooting allowed unless you're underwater.

Once again, the NYT exposes itself as a fusty relic of a distant era. What is the emoticon for "FONDLY"?

Have you noticed parts of my name all over the puzzle lately? Rein as a STRAP, and the questionable STAP ON, and today ratTRAP? It's hard to be modest. Time to send OFL $20 for all the love. I left square labeled 22 blank. Passive aggressive much?

ZenMonkey 3:00 AM  

Need more Berrys on Thursday.

Dr. Bunger 3:02 AM  

The sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus, is more often the hunter and not the prey of the giant squid, as illustrated. Most predation occurs in black ocean depths using echolocation, so the leviathan's eye would be useless and rarely would the squid have the advantage. Open up a beached sperm whale and find squid beaks and, sadly, plastic debris. Glad I died 150 years ago.

Ellen S 3:02 AM  

@Ghostface -- I think GIRT is old-fashioned for "girded". I have no idea what it means to "gird up one's loins" but it is an expression, biblical. It's a "manly" thing - to get ready for battle by hiking up your manly ankle-length tunic and tying it so you don't trip on it when you run, either away from or into battle. Someone posted an infographic showing how to gird your loins. It's step-by-step instructions, from "The Art of Manliness." Hilarious. Elijah supposedly "girded up his loins" and was able to outrun a chariot. Frankly if he had all that fabric between his legs I'd be surprised if he could walk.

Martín Abresch 3:11 AM  

I had a very different solving experience. This puzzle and I were not on the same wavelength at all. It was writeover city. At different points, I had ...


It's like my instincts were a perfect reverse barometer. (That and I made a lot of dumb mistakes.)

Anyway, this puzzle was a struggle for me, especially that NE corner, but I enjoyed it. It was pleasantly strange, with a lot of personality.

I liked how the four theme answers used a different variation on "sigh": CY, PSY, SI, and SCI. The last one (SEMPER SCIFI) is the only that got a laugh out of me, but CLIP CYCLOPS was also a fun entry. (Plus I just like how CYCLOPS ends in an S but is singular.)

I thought that the fill was the best part. It has a few ugly answers like RIB MEAT (does anyone say that?) and GILL NET, but it has lots of personality. I liked KANJI, RAT TRAP, SAY HEY, FONDLY, DENZEL, BRIEFED, MAN OH MAN, and (my personal favorite) PANOPLY.

Favorite clues were for DENZEL (Washington in "Philadelphia") and BOUNCE (Pep in one's step).

Last, the NE was difficult, but it's not the kind of difficult that comes from lazy, cruddy, computer-generated wordlist fill. It's full-throated in its obscurity. It has Scrabbly letters and tricky clues. It has a kind of audacity, and I give it a big thumbs up.

Loren Muse Smith 3:55 AM  

Yeah, boy, that northeast was tough. *Finally* seeing ESKIMO straightened out everything.

Three entries that some had trouble with were easyish for me: GILL NET - the tender I worked on dealt only with gill netters. Mom and Dad live on ALYSSUM Place. And KANJI – I used to know a few.

Rex – I agree on the "sweet" part, though, added to the clue for ALYSSUM. Kind of a cousin to the "big name in" trick. "Big name in Brassicales fauna family."

That plural of FAUNAS threw me because FAUNA by itself looks like a plural. As in alyssum is the sweetest faunum in the brassicalum familium. Plus it crosses PHYLA, whose singular is phylum. I guess you could continue to overthink this and wonder if just one little shadow is actually an umbrum. A humdrum umbrum. Dumb. I'll move on.

Like @Martin A - I like that all the SIZE are spelled differently. CY, PSY, SI, SCI. I bet coming up with these themers wasn't easy, especially since the SIZE have to be in the middle. (no CYCLING PEACHES), so I understand that a couple don't really ring the wacky/fun bell. I sure can't think of any good ones. Maybe the "I'm With Stupid" and "Vote for Pedro" are TEE SIGNAGE. Nah.

Liked PONY right next to STEEDS.

Had a devil of a time parsing LOCA LADS. LO CALADS. LOC ALADS. Man, oh man.

I also liked the IDIOTIC IDOLATRY pair. Redundant, unless of course you're talking about your own personal idolatry target. Hi, David Sedaris and Koko the Gorilla. And PB1.

I agree with Rex that the reveal is clever. Really clever, imo.

I liked this, too, so I'll just go stand over with @Martin. (Even though I can't even pronounce PANOPLY let alone appreciate it. I'll see some kind of made-up large scale "monopoly," a "panopoly," every time.)

Marty Van B 4:41 AM  

GILLNET and GIRT are awful. One doesn't belong in the language anymore and the other is pretty obscure.

RHUMBA looks like it might be the virus responsible for the common cold. I had it written as ROOMBA at first but it struck me the author would clue that as the gadget that terrifies pets and not the spelling variant of a Cuban dance.

All in all, this wasn't much fun. I definitely look forward to something more clever out of the late week puzzles. The cluing helped make it a Thursday but the add-a-sound belongs more in the MTW category thematically.

Anonymous 6:07 AM  

You don't know what a Gill Net is or why it's controversial? Maybe you shouldn't fly your provincialism flag so high...

Anonymous 6:23 AM  

I don't understand why GILL NET is seen as an obscure answer. Gill net fishing of tuna was a significant controversy not too long ago. Overall the puzzle was about average for me although I never really understood the theme until coming here.

- Jim C. in Maine

kitshef 7:07 AM  

This is almost an OK puzzle. Theme is middling, though there is some definite weak sauce in there – RIB MEAT, OLDISH, FAUNAS, and of course my favorite supervillain sidekick, LOCA LAD.

But then there is that shudder-inducing NE, with D?N?OHN crossing R?S and KAN?I. Correctly guessed based on DONJOHN, but…

How obscure is ROS Asquith? She does not have a Wikipedia page, that’s how obscure.

DNF anyway due to GIRd for GIRT, dASh for TASK, and therefore hANJI for KANJI. Never having heard of KANJI, there was no way I was going to question any of that.

On the other hand, ALYSSUM and GILL NET were gimmes … it takes all kinds.

Evan Jordan 7:09 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 7:09 AM  

Sugarcane is a sweet plant. Sweet alyssum is a "sweet" plant. (That should illustrate what the quotes are about.). No whinging over the sensibilities of PSYCHOs and whack jobs?

r.alphbunker 7:17 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan Jordan 7:17 AM  

My mom planted sweet alyssum in her garden. She always referred to it as "sweet alyssum". I think that's just what it was called until people started dropping the "sweet" as extraneous whimsy. It's sweet like the sweet in "Sweet Adeline".

Trombone Tom 7:21 AM  

As usual, more of a challenge to me than to @Rex. I did get the sound theme early on, but that was slight help.

Gill nets for salmon, tuna, and other fish are common out here on the left coast, so maybe OFL suffers from being too far inland.

My problems were on the NW corner where I plopped in Peers at 6D and rest at 21A which had me up against a brick wall for a long time. OLDISH finally helped me break the jam, leading directly to PHYLA and LOLL.

A somewhat different and very clever theme for a Thursday. I liked it.

r.alphbunker 7:25 AM  

The red in my avatar indicates the letters that went in during the last third of the solve. The green is the area that went in first.

Let me add
49A. {Letter sign-off} FONDLY from F_ _D_Y

14A. {Not so current} OLDISH from OLDI_H

15A. {Clue} IDEA from I_ _ _

26D. {___ gun} SPEAR from S_EAR

7D. {Controversial fish catcher} GILLNET from _ILLNET

Details are here.

Glimmerglass 7:38 AM  

Maybe @Rex should write his blog after the game. GILL NET and (sweet) ALYSSUM are both common things appropriate for a Thursday puzzle. Gill-netting is now banned in the US, so at one time it was much in the news. Alyssum is reasonably common in flower gardens. As I was doing the puzzle I said to myself, "Oooh, Rex is going to hate RIB MEAT." But the problem was GILL NET???

jberg 7:45 AM  

Past tense of gird.

jberg 7:53 AM  

I was just the opposite of Rex and Loren. You got ode, S American river starting with O= ORINOCO, KANJI is a gimme even if miscued, so it's either DON JOHN or JuaN. The rest was tough, esp w/ penT before GIRT, asleeP before LAID UP, and metalS before STEEDS.

Tim Pierce 7:59 AM  

Very tough for me, and not just because of the NE. I hit many of the same pain points as Rex did:

* radAR for SPEAR. This took me a long time to unwind from.
* dOOM for LOOM. That was a straight-up Natick for me; in fact I think DOOM, as a transitive verb, is a better answer for "threaten" than LOOM.
* ALaddin for ALIBABA. I probably should have known better here.
* GILL NET: I can't recall having ever heard this term before and really wanted this to be TUNA NET for a long time.
* FAUNAS: as a plural this feels like a real stretch.
* ORINOCO: this was my only inroad into the NE corner, and I managed to get it from ---N-CO only by recalling the 1988 Enya song "Orinoco Flow".
* RIBMEAT: agree with Rex that this one is a little off. Barbecuers stock ribs, which of course have meat attached to them, but the RIBMEAT itself is not the primary stock.

So it was a very slow solve for me. But I liked the theme and the revealer. Having --------I-I for 57A early on led me to wonder if the MIDSIZE revealer had something to do with "I's", so I was led off on a garden path for a while... but fairly.

Lewis 8:20 AM  

On the plus side, I loved the clues for ALIBI, TEEM, STEEDS, and ESKIMO, and I loved that LAID_UP, indeed, is. On the other hand, this puzzle exposed my ignorance, with seven answers just nowhere in my head -- GIRT, ROS, KANJI, GILLNET, ALYSSUM, ORINOCO, and DONJOHN.

I guess I'm still not ready for Jeopardy, and so, to riff on the theme, [sigh].

kitshef 8:23 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith: Brassicales is the order; Brassicaceae is the family. All plant families end in 'aceae'. That ought to be useful for some desperate constructor down the line.

Irene 8:25 AM  

Stupid and contorted theme but I rather liked the jokey clues. Maybe I liked it because Don John and Sweet Alyssum were gimmees, bizarre though that seems.

mathgent 8:32 AM  

Even though I Naticked on KANJI/ALYSSUM, I thought that this was a great puzzle. The theme was new to me. Lots of unusual entries (PANOPLY, PHYLA, MANOHMAN, ALIBABA). Some nice cluing. Only 12 Terrible Threes.

BTW, help out a California boy. Is it pronounced NAY-tick?

Only after I finished did I see that "sigh" sounds were nested in "clipclops," "Petco," and "Bill Nye." I saw "Semper Fi" right away. That's either a flaw in the puzzle or a flaw in me.

Was wavering between an A and an A minus, but it's gotta be an A.

Mr. Benson 8:47 AM  

Is there an expression for when an entire corner is Naticked into oblivion (i.e., the ROS/ORINOCO/KANJI/ALYSSUM/DONJOHN area)? A Natickplex? I'm fortunate I only missed one letter up there (eLYSSUM and KeNJI sound like they could be things).

Z 8:57 AM  

@kitshef - ROS Aquith writes children books. Apparently she hasn't reached Maurice Sendak/Dav Pilkey levels of fame.

I saw @Evan tweet out that this was the final grid at Collingswood.. I'll let you decide what he means by "total nope answers."

No problem with the past tense of gird here, or GILL NET. I'm with Rex, though, on the NE.

It's hard for me to root for anyone in the National League this year, except for whoever is playing the Giants. It is funny to watch bad analysis of managerial decisions though. If they work the guy is a genius, if they don't he is IDIOTIC. As for the AL, I guess I'll root for our Canadian friends. Go Jays! No bottle throwing though, eh?

Wm. C. 9:01 AM  

I plopped in "kanji" right off the bat. I had a job once wherein I spent a week in Japan every month for two years. Really racked up those a Frequent Flyer miles from Boston! But the jet lag was really something -- just as I acclimated in Tokyo I did it again coming back.

@Mathgent -- it's NAY-tick here, though it may come out as NAY-dick from some speakers. My daughter lives there, as does Doug Flutie. A short road there is called "Flutie Pass.." TMI?

Anonymous 9:03 AM  


QuasiMojo 9:13 AM  

Grant me "Asylum"! I need it after this moribund conundrum. Not that I'm a panjandrum vis-à-vis good or bad puzzles. But I know a "rat trap" when I see one. What kind of answer is "Local Ad"? That's pretty weak. And dully clued to boot. To answer some previous query, I googled "girt" after the fact and got "past tense of gird," so I don't see a problem there, especially as clued. But I agree with Rex, although feel more strongly about it, that this was not as amusing as it hoped to be. Wacky to me implies a sense of abandon. This puzzle seemed tethered to an ersatz distant past. "Eskimo" is beyond dated now and blandly clued. "Faunas"? is not something to fawn over. Or faun over -- or ever see again, I hope. And finally, summoning up The Lone Ranger and his horse at the very end sort of sums up the dreary TV-Guide quality of this exercise.

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

LOVED THIS! Thought the theme and the revealer were delightful! I enjoyed this so much that I might even be able to forgive "GIRT". Actually, no... I really hate any clue that involves "old time".

Charles Flaster 9:16 AM  

Totally agree with Rex and George B.
My comeuppance naticked at GIRd, dASh,
hoNJI, and oLYSSUM.
Remainder was fun and reveal was rather
helpful as the "sighs" appeared in or near the middle.
Favorite cluing occurred at FILETS and COUP.
RIB MEAT seems contrived but we know what it implies.
Being an old NY Giant fan, I was happy to see SF win last night (GB not) but the Cub series will be a tuffie.
The SAY HEY kid looked great this past Sunday with another NYC legend, Vin Scully.
Wishing both of them good health.
Thanks TP

Sir Hillary 9:25 AM  

Rare Thursday DNF, due to a confluence of things in the N/NE that were just unfamiliar enough to dOOM me:
-- fILLNET / FIRT. "Fill net" seemed plausible enough as I pictured it in my head, and I could have run the alphabet 100 times before settling on "GIRT".
-- KoNJI / dOOM /odYSSUM. In hindsight, I realize I've heard of ALYSSUM, but it escaped me during the solve. I also acknowledge that LOOM is better than "doom" given the clue, but I didn't have anything else to confirm that. KANJI vs. KoNJI was never going to be more than a guess.

I thought the theme was cute, and I really like the revealer, but I tend to like my Thursdays a bit more outside-the-box than this. Aside from RIBMEAT, I have no issues with the fill.

Bummed I couldn't finish, but oh well, it happens. SIGH!

Mohair Sam 9:43 AM  

DNF'd here because we dAShed for our charge at 10 down. Why not GIRd instead of GIRT? And we know not hANJI from KANJI.

We lost a ton of time in the south because we thought that Yoko ONO rather than Brian ENO might have been hanging out with David Bowie, and LARDS might have been LAuDS - giving us SoMPEu SCIFI. A real head-scratcher.

I'm nobody's environmentalist, but I'm surprised GILLNET is unknown to Rex and so many here. They were, and still are controversial. They've been in the news, and the subject of PBS, Nat Geo, and other media documentaries.

@Nancy from yesterday - Still laughing at your late post, looking forward to your book. Our youngest son and I used to enjoy a day of biking in the park in the late '90s and early 2000s. We played a game called "Hunt the Pedestrians" with extra points given for scaring anyone in tennis whites.

Hungry Mother 9:57 AM  

As others have noted, getting ESKIMO opened up the tough NE.

Carola 10:15 AM  

I liked the fun-with-phonics theme and found the puzzle pleasurably challenging. I was three theme answers in before I understood how MIDSIZE was working, and that helped me get the last one, PETPSYCHO, for which I hadn't understood the clue, believing a "whack job" to be a gangland offing assignment. Count me with those who admired all the different ways the constuctor put a "sigh" in the answer: I get a kick our of how crazy English spelling can be. So I agree that the theme phrases might not have hit the heights of wackiness but I thought the "sighs" treatment was stellar, including that plural hidden (nicely paradoxically) in the reveal.

Otherwise: loved PHYLA, which I got off the malapop Loaf. GIRT came to me from a long-ago hymn phrase describing some celestial being as "GIRT with stars." I wouldn't be able to tell Sweet William from Sweet ALYSSUM in a garden, but crosses told me which I needed here. I went astray MIDway through KANga (obviously getting confused with manga), so ESKIMO eluded me for a while. Just as hard for me to parse as LOCALAD was RATT??? - I considered RATTery.

Nancy 10:18 AM  

I got the gimmick after solving, but before coming here, so I guess that's something. I was wondering the whole time what on earth is going on here with these really silly theme answers, but I was having fun nonetheless. I enjoyed the solving process and there was enough challenge to keep me engaged. My big stumbling block was the 52A/53D cross, as I had UMBer before UMBRA and therefore went from RUSH to RSVP (because of the incorrect R) and finally to ASAP. I misspelled ORoNOCO at first, but was straightened out by INK. I avoided a natick by guessing right on the A at the KANJI/ALYSSUM cross -- the most unfair cross in the puzzle, I thought. I haven't read y'all yet, and I'm sure there will be complaints aplenty, but this is why I love the NYT puzzle for the most part, and Will S. in particular: there's a playful quality on a great many occasions that seems to be lacking elsewhere. This puzzle was completely silly, but it was also a lot of fun.

Tita A 10:19 AM  

"Sweet" ALYSUM and KANJI were my only gimme entries into that NE. While I couldn't have told you what family it belongs to, it was inferrable off the A, since it's a very common container and rock garden plant.

I actually didn't like this worse than Rex. RIBMEAT has got to be enshrined as the worst fill ever.
I was robbed of my clever Thursday. These themers are not things. Not funny, not whacky, not clever. Boo hoo.

.my windshield does have a few DECALS... There was a time when I would do runs with other MINI Cooper owners, all with a favorite was the Great Ice Cream Run... From Florida to Maine, stopping at the best ma and pa ice cream shops along the way.
Lest you feel that this confirms your hunches about my IDIOTIC, nay, insane nature, know that I only did the the three stops in Connecticut...

Sorry Mr. Polin...I usually really love your work!

Chance Gardiner 10:32 AM  

@Loren, honey, the Brassicales are flora, not FAUNA, unless you've found some mysteriously indigenous mammalian bok choy. If you want to get specific, Brassica rapa once for the turnip, rapa twice for the Napa cabbage.

As WC Fields once said, "Scratch a man who looks like a turnip, and I'll show you a man who looks like a scratched turnip".

@GeorgeB, glad you found your way to a solve and hate to plant doubt, but your Allium and Alyssum are no more than partial homonyms and have no familial or generic relationship. Of course, in xwp solving, it's whatever gets you there, aren't it?


Anonymous 10:34 AM  

There's a picture of Alyssum on Page F6 of the special Design section of today's NYT. I had to laugh when I read the caption!

NCA President 10:35 AM  

NE was brutal...nearly doubled my time. ROS, KANJI, ODE (to Melancholy), GIRT, GILLNET, ALYSSUM, and the plural of FAUNA.

PETPSYCHO...I guess if you don't have a pet, you're SOL. I have a pet, but never go to PetCo...I just know about it because I have a pet.

CLIPCYCLOPS was tortured.

I would have expected the revealer to be in a bit more prominent spot. Pretty inauspicious laying there in the SE for not apparent reason.

I liked the puzzle well enough, but the NE was crazy as clipped cyclops.

GILL I. 10:35 AM  

Ooof. Hard, but in a good way. Had to look up PHYLA because I've never heard that word. I guess it's clever that it crosses FAUNA?
RHUMBA the ball room conga. I think the H was added so that it sounded like rheumatoid. Cuban salsa...the best.
Really, this was fun. I may not have guffawed out loud but SEMPER SCIFI made me smile.
Did anyone else have GADZOOKS?
Was DON JOHN's STEED Silver?

Nancy 10:37 AM  

@Mohair (9:43)-- Thanks for the shoutout. And the warning! Because you'd better believe I'll be on the lookout in 6 directions for you and your family on bikes, preparing to mow me down. Do understand, however, that someone else may have already beaten you to it.

@mathgent (8:32): I have been corrected often -- nicely, but firmly, by New Englander @Hartley 70 -- when I have spoken with her on the phone and mis-pronounced "Natick" with a short A, as in maverick. "It's NAYtick," she persists in telling me, as I persist in mis-pronouncing it, because that was the way I heard it in my head when I first read the word 2-3 years ago and that's the way I still hear it now. No reason for you to make the same mistake, since you're finding out right off the bat.

@Ellen (3:02)-- What a funny, funny, funny explanation of GIRT! Read this, everyone, if you missed it.

MichaelG 10:38 AM  

i get semper fi and clip clops but bill nai and pet cho? are those phonetic too?

Laurence Katz 10:41 AM  

Sure wasn't easyish for me. Mostly challenging, especially the NE. Wrote in "red meat" first, which is better answer than rib meat, which is what you'd get if you scraped off your bones. Had 'gird' instead of 'girt,' which led to 'dash' instead of 'task' which led to 'hanji' instead of 'kanji.' Willie Mays answer was easy for me even though he was the 'Say Hey Kid,' never just 'Say Hey.'

Michele 10:50 AM  

"Rib meat" is a very precise thing. It is always chicken, it is mechanically extracted, and it goes in nuggets. There is nothing wink-wink clever about the barbecue clue to justify this odd misuse of the term.

seanm 10:54 AM  

echoing what others have said. NE was brutal, with ALYSSUM, ORINOCO, ROS, ODE, KANJI, DONJOHN all together and all things i had never heard of. ESKIMO helped me get INK and LOOM and i guessed ODE. from there i was fortunate to not DNF, as guessing letters somehow gave me the R and N in the river. overall i liked it but that NE was harder than it should have been

Kevin 11:14 AM  

Opinions vary, of course. But Rex is off base with some of his comments. Sweet ALYSSUM is a very common flower that all gardeners would know. Don't knock a word just because it's unfamiliar to you. There are some sets of people so small that a familiar word to just them is bad fill, but there are enough gardeners that isn't one of them. For example, I got stuck on GILL NET/GIRT. The obsolete past tense was totally unfamiliar even after running the alphabet on each letter. I ended up settling on the defensible KILL NET since that sounded like a thing, and just guessed KIRT was some old world word. But I can see where some not-trivial group would know GILL NET.

MMcC 11:29 AM  

Surprisingly do-able for me. Rex's (and others') comments surprise me at how insular? provincial? narrow? some NYTimes Xword fans are. Maybe KANJI and GILLNET are more familiar to West Coast folks? I mean, really, not to know the "SAY HEY" kid, especially on the night of that SPECTACULAR NL wildcard game? You've never heard of sweet Alyssum? (My only problem was 2-L's or 2-S's); that plant is ubiquitous. Again, my Classics background comes go my aid: men in the Iliad and Aeneid are always GIRding up for battle; was really hoping for CLIPCalypso early on, but CYCLOPS is cool, too. UMBRA just flew in without a second thought, but FAUNAS is just wrong. (Like "alumnas" would be.) Loved all the *sigh* sounds. Totally agree about RIBMEAT, tho: without the bones, that meat would fall through the grill! Yeah, I also wavered between ALIBABA and Aladdin, but only for the split second it took to fill in any one of the acrosses down in the SW. SEMPER SF!

Hartley70 11:47 AM  

This just didn't feel Thursday-ish to me. I had a Friday time and the theme had a Tuesday simplicity. I filled in the themers early in the solve. The NE drove me a little nuts, and I had William before ALYSSUM. Otherwise stumbled along until I was done. The challenge was good, but I miss the usual Thursday delight.

Keep it up @Nancy and I'll put a sweet little electric fence collar on you and give you a teensy zap when you mispronounce Natick. It's for your own good. Really.

@Ellen, @Nancy is right about your 3:02 post. The illustration is most helpful and has a unisex application. No longer a manly move, it's a useful technique for securing a longer skirt when mounting the first step of a NYC bus. Let us know how that goes, @Nancy.

@MichaelG,10:38am, that inconsistency bothered me too.

old timer 11:53 AM  

As usual, OFL complains about anything he does not personally know.

I thought this was a clever puzzle. Clever revealer too but by the time I got it I had no need of it.

Technically a DNF because I refused to replace my "red" with RIB MEAT. Writeovers galore. I had "notepad" before LOCAL AD, which was expertly clued. Small, local businesses buy spots on local radio and put ads in the local paper, while the big chains by ad space on TV.

I had "majoram" before ALYSSUM, which fouled things up muchly. And some other Arab before ALIBABA. No trouble in the NE though. The river had to be either Uruguay or ORINOCO.

Coupla quibbles: First, "sedition" means stirring unrest. It's not TREASON because the American Constitution defines TREASON very narrowly. I think Tokyo Rose was the only person convicted of TREASON for mere words, and that was only possible because she literally was adhering to the enemy. She was not sentenced to death and was eventually pardoned.

Second, FAUNAS just seems wrong, since FAUNA is already plural. It isn't wrong, but it seems wrong.

Hartley70 11:54 AM  

@MichaelG on second thought they may be a tortured version of Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Petco the pet supply store. It takes me a while. The other two themers are much cleaner.

old timer 11:55 AM  

Oh. "GIRT" really means encircled or surrounded. I may go to the fog-GIRT coast of Marin County today, though it probably will be sunny. July and August are fog season.

Masked and Anonymous 12:38 PM  

Theme was excel-silent. About right for a TuesPuz or WedPuz, complete with Tues/Wed-appropriate helpful revealer.

Stuffins were brute-sighish. About right for a FriPuz or SatPuz. [Only 72 grid words, btw.]

Clues were midsize. Liked the ESKIMO's ?-clue, but -- MAN. OH. MAN. what a corner to unleash it in.

So … ok, mostly.

@altonrockthrow [from yesterday, pointed out to M&A by the mighty @r.alph]: The runt puzzles often have stuff like FETCH, SWEEP, and SHOVEL in them. But, for cluing purposes: what motivates U to want that combo? The M&A needs theme inspiration. Throw me a rock, dude.

M&A had pretty much the same probs survivin this puppy cleanly as everybody else. Plus, was perilously way low on cinnamon rolls today. Almost needed the pot-laced c-roll var., for this solvequest, in any case. Anyhoo …

End-up Talkin Like a Pirate Bullets:

* RHUMBA. My heart always sinks, when it's a subject I know zip about, plus it's a var.
* LOCALAD. yo, @muse: Must be a salad made from locoweed. And another var.
* PHYLA. Wise-ass clue. Then it crosses FAUNAS, which sounds slightly desperate, somehow. Bit below par.
* GILLNET GIRT. Knew a gal named that, once, up in the Klondike. har
* DONJOHN/ROS. See that? The dreaded crossin obscure names. Desperate-lookin. M&A had nanosecond-guzzlin trouble getting far, thar.
* LARDS = "enriches". Huhnh? As in: Candy bar becomes lard bar?
* BATTLER clue. Wobbly & sneaky. This means war.
* "Annual New York honor" (48-A). Figured in had somethin to do with garbage pick-up. Actually, musta had to do with stage stars.

Primo bullets, @RP. M&e, too, on every day-um one of em.

Thanx, Mr. Polin. Next time, tell the Shortzmeister "Either publish this on a Tuesday with my original easy clues, or me & my puz walk!" Add a [snort] at the end, to let him know U mean business.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

Geophany 12:39 PM  

LOL before I saw the theme, in 17A I had CUT PENELOPE based on P___LOP_

Warren Howie Hughes 12:56 PM  

13 down, clued as "White House Occupant" was very ice, as in "cold" to say the least. Venture to that say most of us were leaning to one of the Obama daughters?

Jlb 12:57 PM  

Every once in a while a puzzle others find hard is easy for me. Today was one of those rare days. Hunkering down here in Jacksonville waiting for Matthew. What are the chances I'll be able to get the Friday and Saturday puzzles online? Probably slim.

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

@Geophany, that's not bad at all!. Better than POLYPHEMOUS or a poke in the eye with a sharp SPEAR

Numinous 1:10 PM  

PHYLA was my very first entry. KANJI came soon after. Hiragana and Katakana wouldn't fit so KANJI it had to be. Be thankful y'all that you only have to cope with English spelling. KANJI has over 10,000 characters.

I really enjoyed this. Some of it came very easily and some of it involved a lot of head-scratching. MID SIZE had me baffled for a while and I had to wonder at BILL Nye and PET co. Before GIRT I had penT but then I remembered GILL NET. I really liked SEMPER SCI FI, just a little reminder for me that both my parents were Marines.

Side Note
I used to see Marine convoys regularly along I 5 in California and invariably there would be several break downs on the side of the road and I'd think, "That's what you get with eighteen year-olds fixing your trucks."

The cluing seemed suitably Thursday to me and this took me three minutes under my average so I reckon this was a fair and intriguing puzzle.

Leapfinger 1:11 PM  

@kitshef, 'theme is middling': that's good! As for RIBMEAT, if you've ever eaten McNuggets (it's okay to admit it), that's what you had, ie, scraps. Me, I've been watching too much election preamble, so I plunked in REDMEAT right away.

Did anyone else find it hard to pen UMBRA?

I was distracted by the CLIP CLOP sound, so was looking for some fore & aft rhymishness to go with SINAI (Buy nigh SINAI?). It was the combination of Leathernecks and early days of reading Analog that let me set that aside. Like the discriminating others, I thought the CY-PSY-SI-SCI SIZEs fit just right and had a lot of BOUNCE. Can't think of anything else and I think SZAJ would be disallowed.

The fill pleased this OL' DISH person, except for FONDLY, which makes me think of letters written with all the i's dotted in circles or (even worser) with little hearts. Liked the PONY requining  next to STEEDS, and had a Baal with the IDLE IDOLATRY column.  I was once at a party when in came M. Bert Lahr, and ever since I've enjoyed being BRIE-FED.

Kind of fun that I had  TEEM as MEET first; seemed to fit 'Be a crowd' pretty well. And of course there was AN AL glut, with ALIBI ALIBABA ALLMALE and ALYSSUM

COUP de Graz strikes again.
PAN O' PLYwood not last a NY minute
Eeyore's sick: ASS AILS
Hero dances 1001 nights for dessert: ALI BABA au RHUMBA
Let's not discuss that junky car: LEMON ASIDE [So okay, it's kind of in the middle]

Olivier was a great actor, perhaps best known for his  Hamlet, but on occasion he'd rather let his fame go to his head and act out. One time, when filming Private Lives, he took it upon himself to come on set festooned with a number of roughly carved crucifixes for no good reason whatsoever. Noel Coward, who directed as well as starred in the movie, admonished him: "You're too much GIRT rood, Laurence!". I guess some of us remember low rents...

So I enjoyed the solve as much as the post-solve, and now can add GIRTrude Lau/wrence Olivier to my Horatio Alger Hiss file.

Thanks, TimP, liked it a lot!!

Teedmn 1:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Numinous 1:31 PM  

Oh Yeah!
DON JuaN? C'mon folks, the clue was Shakespear. Ever hear of a DON JuaN in a Shakespear play? I, for one, have not. I'll admit that DONJOHN sounds too modern to me but there was no other choice.

FAUNAS got to me too. I suppose there could be some collective exo-biological meaning to that since we've already mentioned SCI FI.

BATTLER was less than thrilling to discover, I was looking for something more schizo-affective.

In Los Angeles I used to get mis dialed, I could tell it was a wrong number immediately when the caller would open with HOLA.

I seriously considered MAN alive before MAN OH MAN.

Loved figuring out PANOPLY, ALYSSUM, and DENZEL.

I had a bunch of false starts and write-overs and was happily engaged throughout.

Teedmn 1:33 PM  

MAN OH MAN, my "ailing" brain hadn't a hint nor an IDEA what was going on in the NE. Someone must have TASed me along with @Rex - I didn't have an ESKIMO's snowball's chance in hell of solving this puzzle cleanly.

I did manage to see the theme and even use it to solve 30A and 57A. I think it is very clever.

I can't imagine who would hang out with their PET PSYCHO - I pretty much run the other way when I see them.

@r.alphbunker, your kILLNET is all too accurate, the source of the controversy.

And I can attest to the aptness of @Nancy's bike fears - my recent trip to NYC had me dodging the jaybikers who would ghost past through the UMBRAs and penUMBRAs cast by the streetlights at night.

Nice Thursday, Timothy Polin. And thanks, @Chance Gardiner, for giving @LMS an ALIBI for floral faunum.

Joe Bleaux 1:34 PM  

Sure would've welcomed Patrick today😉

Dolgo 1:42 PM  

Gee. I taught Shakespeare for over 40 years, so the fact that nobody reads him anymore hurts my feelings! I thought Keanu Reeves did a pretty good job of playing DJ in the Branagh film of "Much Ado," but not everyone agreed. How soon we forget! "Gill net," too!

Roo Monster 1:43 PM  

Hey All !
Holy PANOPLY, this puz played super hard for me. Like Saturday-plus. Could not get a toehold anywhere. DENZEL helped me in SE, actually ended up getting that corner with no help. There were some really oddish clues that for some reason, I couldn't wrap the ole brain around. Had to Goog for ALIBABA, which eventually got me SW. UMBRA=Shadow? Also had to Goog USC in NW, as not up on the many College Teams in the USA. That managed to wrestle down the NW. LOCAL AD hard to see, as I wanted a ____pAD of some sort. PHYLA/LOLL/COUP tough trio. The N center and NE? Yikes. Finally gave up and left empty squares. GIRT was never gonna happen. Had fILLNET, as that sounded logical. Japenese writing style? Yeah... um, no. Had __NJI, and that's the way it stayed. Couldn't see TASK as clued, cause by this time my brain cells bolted from my head! And crossing KANJI with the unknown "sweet" plant ALYSSUM, eek.

So a not enjoyable solving experience. The themers seemed forced. And the first two were kinda weak. CLIP CLOPS and PET CO? (Didn't mind PET CO as a thing, but the extraneous H threw it off for me.)


Anonymous 1:45 PM  

@ Kevin
non trivial group? (a) defensible (word)?

Thanks for being the arbiter of reasonableness.

Andrew Heinegg 1:47 PM  

I have mixed feelings about this one. The theme punchlines have no punch. As has often been noted, if you want to have a pun-themed puzzle, groaners are a must. These do not even come close.

One answer that I will nitpick about is idolatry for blind love. There is no definition of idolatry that fits the clue for blind love. Blind love is an indication that you are able to love whomever while ignoring their faults. Idolatry is worshipping'false' gods or loving to an extreme degree. Now, one may say that you have to be 'blind' to love to such an extreme degree but,idolatry is not blind love.

I did not care for idiotic as an answer to not worth considering. There has to be a certain amount of leeway in the equivalence of clues to answers but, to me, not worth considering something does not make that thing idiotic, a far more pejorative implication.

Willie Mays is, IMHOP, the greatest baseball player ever to grace the game. There was simply no part of baseball that he did not excel at. He hit for average. He hit for power. He was a great baserunner and stealer. And, he was maybe the best center fielder of all-time including his famous blind over the shoulder with his back to the ball catch. Plus, he had a great'arm' as the baseball aficionados would say. But, the descriptor for him was the say hey kid. I never heard it said or saw it written that he was say hey. Just sayin'.

I found rib meat to be just a weird answer. I can't opine that I think it is flat out wrong. I just think it is peculiar since I do not believe it has ever been a 'thing'.

As old timer noted above, sedition and treason are separate and non-equivalent things. Treason is Aldrich Ames type of activities/actions. Some of the things Trump says/suggests in his speeches might be considered seditious.

I thought it was a bit strange that OFL had never heard of gillnet. They got banned because, although they are an easy way to catch fish for commercial fishermen, there is a long and sad history of many other species being caught in the net, like dolphins, and being killed.

Ironically, the one part of the puzzle that I thought was terrific, the n.e., knocked me out cold. I got alyssum and thought it was a fine answer and common enough to be fairly included. But, although I have heard and maybe have even seen some nature programs featuring Orinoco, I blanked on it. I read Much Ado About Nothing probably about 45 years ago. Did not remember that character name.

I guess I will take my bruised ego and sit in the corner with my dunce cap on for a bit.

puzzle hoarder 1:50 PM  

If you paid as much attention to environmental issues as those of gender and race you'd know that GILL NETS are as much a thing as fracking or PCBs.
KANJI and TASK are a perfect illustration two mirroring aspects of solving, knowing the rare words and all the nuances of the common ones. I was favoring TASE for 10D. GIRT was much more correct than GIRD. GIRT and TAS_ stayed in for a long time until I incorrectly guessed HANJI. The DASH/CHARGE connection is quite strong so I wound up with three incorrect entries.
I never used to do Sunday puzzles. The local paper only had Monday through Saturday. I did find the old Wednesday puzzle from 12/15/10 in the hoard. KANJI was there at 1D in my own handwriting. An interesting note the theme was CH phrases changed to humorous J phrases. KANJI was crossed with JOCKFULLONUTS.
A couple more things. It's pronounced nay-tick? Figures. Also last night's wild card game was major schadenfreude for Cubs fans.

Wm. C. 2:09 PM  

@Numinous10:10 --

Re: "KANJI has over 10,000 characters." Well ... True, but a little simplified.

The count varies, depending on how comprehensive one wants to be. The count generally considered most comprehensive in Japan has some 50,000 KANJI characters, though there are many thousand additional ones left off that list.

OTOH, there are about 2500 KANJI characters in general use in Japan, and this set is what is officially taught and used through the high school level of education. There are also a few thousand more KANJI characters in occasional use. Beyond that the characters are generally considered esoterica.

JC66 2:11 PM  

@Andrew Heinegg

I think it's rather strange you don't know that Willie Mays was, is and will always be known as "The say hey kid."

FYI, per wikipedia:

It is not clear how Mays became known as the "Say Hey Kid." One story is that in 1951, Barney Kremenko, a writer for the New York Journal, proceeded to refer to Mays as the 'Say Hey Kid' after he overheard Mays say, "'Say who,' 'Say what,' 'Say where,' 'Say hey'".[74] Another story is that Jimmy Cannon created the nickname because Mays did not know everybody's names when he first arrived in the minors. "You see a guy, you say, 'Hey, man. Say hey, man,'" Mays said. "Ted [Williams] was the 'Splinter'. Joe [DiMaggio] was 'Joltin' Joe'. Stan [Musial] was 'The Man'. I guess I hit a few home runs, and they said 'There goes the 'Say Hey Kid."[75]

Years before he became the "Say Hey Kid", when he began his professional career with the Black Barons, Mays was called "Buck" by teammates and fans.[76] Some Giants players referred to him, their team captain, as "Cap."

SailorSteveHolt 2:12 PM  

The gimmick is wrong. In Standard American English, the vowel phoneme in MID- is a short i. However, the vowel phonemes PET and SEM- are short e's. I was totally stuck on SEMPER SCI FI and PET PSYCHO, having thought of SEM- early on (not PET though) but dismissing it because it didn't satisfy the gimmick clue. I seethed after finally figuring them out.

So I hated thing and hope NYT is flooded with complaints from linguists. Probably the silliest sincere thing I've ever written. Odds are better that I'd get struck by lightning. I guess I can dream... at least till tomorrow's puzzle when I'll have totally forgotten about this.

Otherwise, I struggled with most of the same clues as other commenters.

I'm not familiar with the gird idiom. The word itself? Duh. But it's preterite, GIRT? Isn't that like "spelt" for "spelled"? The former is (in the US) the pretentious version.

FAUNAS pissed me off, especially because, as @Loren mentioned, it crossed with the accurately pluralized PHYLA.

ROS annoyed me, too. @kitsef said it best: she doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry.

Had no trouble with ORINOCO and KANJI because I've watched every nature documentary ever and love every facet of Japanese aesthetic culture. I can understand how these would give other people some trouble.

My eyes glaze over whenever I even think of sportball so there's a yawning gap in my knowledge. I still don't understand how football works and thought William Mays was Billy Mays, the coked out infomercial dude who croaked a few years ago. Pour some OxiClean out for him.

Like @jae, went through a few before getting RIB MEAT: RaW MEAT then pIg MEAT.

Had BAllER instead of BATTLER.

Iggy POP instead of ENO.

Agreed with others who found ESKIMO distasteful. Like oriental, I've struck it from my vocabulary.

Groaned at OLDISH like some other commenters.


To @MMC and @Anonymous 6:something: It's provincial to think a regional issue like GILL NETing makes national news.

Similarly, to those who insist that ALYSSUM (or any other answer with which more than a few commenters here struggled) ought to be a cinch: I look forward to future puzzles when you're baffled by a clue, unless, of course, you've memorized all the "common knowledge."

tl;dr These normative statements are arrogant af.

Masked and Anonymous 2:23 PM  

For @RP, who wanted edgier themer clues:

17-A: {15-yard infraction in the One-eyed Football League??}.
30-A: {Daring pick at the animal shelter??}.
45-A: {Moses's reply to unreasonable tablet fees??}.
57-A: {Fox News fact-checker's chant??}.

Kanji give me a fightin chance in the NE? Dept.:

7. Main point
11. Giant giant of baseballdom
16. Apt athletic sweater letter for a coxswain?
19. More correct ending for a G-rated stripper that wants to be "vampire"??
27. Presidential candidate that's 3-Down, say
9. August hanger-on, for short?
12. Destination for an avid beer renter
13. Former Ford

M&A Help Desk.


Alex 2:34 PM  

As always, I enjoyed this puzzle a lot more than many of you. The Northeast was difficult enough for me that I have a DNF. KANJI is new to me, as is ROZ Asquith.I should have known ORINOCO, but did not. I, too, began with GIRd and dASh, but I should have noticed the past tense in the clue for GIRT, so not complaining.
Sweet ALYSSUM is a flower I know. So nice to know something that (some) others struggled with.
(Some of the. comments seem a little cranky to me.)

Chronic dnfer 2:40 PM  

Never got the sigh thing. Dnf'd at perp shows. Had taste for a while too. Next!

Chronic dnfer 2:40 PM  

Tase not taste.

Don McBrien 3:05 PM  

@SailorSteve, I don't understand your comment. What do the vowel sounds of MID, SEM have to do with the theme?

Gregory Schmidt 3:08 PM  

As others have opined, a slog. Couldn't get my head around the randomness of the themers. Bill Nye, Semper Fi, Petco, and clip clop? So there's a (pretty) well known pop-culture person, the Marines Latin motto, a retail chain, and the onomatopoeic for hoof beats? Nothing to tie those together (that I can see) and nothing to tie the "tricky" answers together either. Ugh.

ani 3:36 PM  

Bill Nye the science guy; petco

OISK 3:50 PM  

Liked it despite a double DNF. Since I stopped keeping track of consecutive correct solutions, I get less upset when I miss. Pleased that I am not alone. I plant alyssum, and have flown over the Orinoco. Got the former , but never corrected Orinoco (how could I leave "onk"?) I also had dash, gird, and hanji. But I have heard of Kanji, just forgot.

So I was defeated, fair and square. Perhaps my mind is muddled by the pain of last night's Met game. I was there. Today is the first day of winter.

Z 4:11 PM  

Bowie and ENO (and Fripp, too).

@MichaelG - Bill Nye the Science Guy and PetCo.

Evan 4:17 PM  


I said it has a few Total Nope crossings, not answers. That NE corner especially.

Marie 4:21 PM  

Aw c'mon! Almost everyone has some alyssum in their yards, and a gill net is one that catches many fish indiscriminately, so the fishery becomes non-sustainable. Any good shopper looks for "No gill nets."

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

Solved it in 19 minutes never got the theme until I read the blog. Thursdays sre always dumb this was dumber than most. Thank God for Friday and Saturday

Tita A 5:04 PM  

@Nancy and the other NY wheels storytellers...first, thanks for your colorful stories! Let me add mine:
One summer, a friend and I would drive into the City on Sundays to rollerblade through Central Park when the roads were closed to cars.

The roads were shared by joggers, bicyclists, and rollerbladers. Each group was utterly civil to their own. "Beautiful day!" "Nice bike!" "Adorable puppy." But heaven forfend, that one would cross into the space of the other. Then you would hear the New York come out. "Get out of the f@$%^ing way, you douchebag!" "Stay in your own f%^&$ing lane, you lame sh$%head!"
You'ld get whiplash from thecontrasting shouts.

@Andrew H & @JC66 - "Mays is better than Mantle. Mantle is better than Mays." ad nauseum in our neighborhood. (I was a mere toddler, of course.)

Z 5:10 PM  

@Evan - Yep. I did link to your actual Tweet, so hopefully people didn't just take my word for it.

Mike Rees 5:18 PM  

I have to cry foul on this one. Natick City in the NE. Nearly nothing there that can be inferred without at least some direct knowledge, and I had zero idea on 11-12D, and 11, 16 and 22A.

DNF, and I'd say through no fault of my own.

Michael 5:25 PM  

I didn't find this as hard as a lot of you and generally liked the puzzle. I'm surprised Rex didn't complain about "Eskimo."

Mohair Sam 5:25 PM  

@SailorSteve - The "SCI" sounds are in the MIDdle of the theme answers, hence - Mid-size (or "sighs") -

GILLNETS - I live in the middle of Pennsylvania, am not at all an environmentalist, yet I've seen coverage on GILLNETS on the tube and read about the damage they do in our local paper. Regional issue yes, but national coverage.

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

Gird for Girt led to Dash for Task.

khairun nisa 7:35 PM  

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Geophany 7:42 PM  


old timer 8:01 PM  

Willie Mays survives, at what, age 85? They will take him to AT&T Park in San Francisco when the Giants play a home game against the Cubs. And, we hope also to the Giants' home games in the Series. In retirement, he has proved a huge benefit to the Giants because the young players want to meet a national treasure.

His great friend in NY and San Francisco was WIllie McCovey, He survives, too, and the one award neither money nor skill can buy is the Willie Mac award, given to men who most embody the true spirit of what it means to be a Giant. The current players (if you don't count Matt Cain) who have won the award are Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Madison Bumgarner and Brandon Crawford. All but Pence are home-grown. And all of them are the kind of people you would want your sons to emulate. Posey, you all must know, and Bumgarner, but Crawford is simply the best shortstop since the 1950's who can also hit (honorable mention to Maury Wills of the Dodgers, who certainly could run).

And Pence? Not home-grown and I take his personal probity on faith. But he single-handedly gave us a Series as a self-appointed cheerleader in the clubhouse. We fans gave him the nickname, "Preacher Pence" and this is the sort of story that baseball fans will be telling to their children and grandchildren.

JC66 8:13 PM  


We span the decades. I became a Giants fan and a Mays fan in 1948, wnen Bobby Thompson hit "the shot heard 'round the world."

Andrew Heinegg 9:00 PM  

I saw and admired both Mays and Mantle. Mantle could maybe have been as good as Mays except for some but fors. But for the fact that he was a switch hitter his entire career at his father's insistence (he was a far more powerful and better hitter for average from his natural right side). But for his having developed a really bad case of osteomyelitis in his knee which put a damper on his athleticism. But for the fact that he had a very active nightlife and a battle with alcoholism that made him eventually have to have a liver transplant later in life.

When he was in his prime and uninjured, he was fabulous. It does remind me what a tough bunch the Yankee Stadium crowds were. Here was one of the greatest players of all time and, being a slugger, struck out a lot. When he would strike out, he would be booed to a degree that you had to hear to believe it. N.Y. is tough on everyone.

Michael 9:27 PM  

@jc66 The Thomson home run was in 1951, not 1948. Also Mays rookie year with the Giants.

JC66 9:37 PM  

@ Michael

Thanks, getting old sucks.

jae 11:34 PM  

@JC66 - You might have fun reading the prologue of DeLillos "Underworld". It's basically a short story about that home run. Actually, the whole book is pretty good. It got nominated for the National Book Award.

Diana,LIW 3:07 PM  

Fellow Synders

I peeked into the Rexian future - wasn't a spoiler. And whilst Rex did post today (11/9) (a bit of normalcy), the comments were short on the puzzle, long on current events. Some began drinking around noon EST.

I completed this puzzle last evening in between chewing on my nails. The NE killed me. Enjoyed the silliness.

Diana, Remaining a Lady

Diana,LIW 8:29 PM  

Yeah - I posted that yesterday, before reading the blog and seeing I was one day in the future. The deLorean sometimes gets lost.


rondo 10:06 AM  

DNF due to NE. 7a GIRd led to 10d dASh led to 22a hAiku and they just didn’t go away. Unlike RedMEAT which self-corrected.

I know what ANAL has come to mean, but that’s not really the whole story or IDEA there. An ANAL-retentive person is supposedly very tidy, etc. (not necessarily “meticulous” in all senses of the word), and an ANAL-expulsive quite the opposite, if you buy into Freud’s nonsense. Even taking only PSYCH 1, anyone with an open mind can see that Freud was a crackpot, and so were most of his contemporaries; take a look at their lives. And they tried to call their work “science”. Anyone who has studied PSYCHOlogy further knows it’s more involved than what they espoused. I just bite my lip when I hear ANAL used as it is these days. Those folks purport to know more than they really do about the “art” of PSYCHOlogy. It’s not science. Rant over.

OFL has never heard of a GILLNET? That was my first gimme. Never heard of the tuna/porpoise kerfuffle? C’mon Rex, that’s been a big deal for a long time.

Everyone with the slightest interest in baseball should know that Willie Mays was the SAYHEY Kid. He didn’t remember names well so got someone’s attention by saying, “SAY, HEY . . . “. Gimme.

That NE corner just didn’t click. No ALIBIs for the rare DNF.

Burma Shave 11:55 AM  


From Adam’s RIBMEAT came Eve with an IDIOTIC IDEA,
her TASK: to FONDLY deceive by TREASON in Pangaea.
DIS ALIBI she’d weave, “MANOHMAN you’ve ALLMALE genitalia.”
ASAP Adam was “BRIEFED”, “SAY, HEY you’re so GIRT I can’t see ya.”


spacecraft 12:01 PM  

"Easy except for..."? You're kidding. This was challenging except for a single way in: DENZEL. How is any of the rest "easy?" Explain it to me like I'm a six-year-old.

I almost did it, too. Missed the natick at KeNJI/eLYSSUM. For virtually every entry I felt like a BATTLER. But I have a flag to throw, not that it makes me feel any better about the DNF. FAUNA is already plural; you cannot have FAUNAS. Even if you're comparing different ecosystems "The FAUNA of each are unique." So there.

No DOD today; this is a "MANOHMAN" puzzle, with AMOS, DONJOHN, ALIBABA and our hero DENZEL. Really stretching it to the breaking point, I guess we could do Janet Leigh, who had way too short a part in PSYCHO.

I can't give this a golf score because of the DNF and the penalty, but I will echo one of its sentiments wholeheartedly: SEMPERSCIFI!

centralscrewtinizer 1:33 PM  

Had SPY ON before UMBRA, LAUDS before LARDS. Otherwise, had a nice slog and more or less liked it. Knew a bus tour guide in Fairbanks, Alaska who got past plant questions with two answers....Nearaflora and Faraflora. Maybe he did the same with fauna. Would also like to thank Chance for his gentle correction of LMS.

fakt chekker 1:48 PM  

Your god not getting the job done? Give that IDOL A TRY.
Butt hurt? Your ASS AILS.
That cheesehead? He's BRIE FED.

Diana,LIW 2:00 PM  

Did y'all know that Brian Eno's middle name(s) is "Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle" No, I didn't either. Finally Googles him to see where else he's going to show up.

Love the silliness here.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Z 4:09 PM  

@Diana, LIW - Uh, WOW. I did not know that about Eno. Thank you, I think.

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

Very hard for me. Remembered John, but not Don (Hon. John?) Never heard of Kanji of Gill Net.

But as usual, each of us knows something. "Sweet" plant immediately gave me Alyssum....

Sweet Alyssum is a popular garden plant.

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