Half of Wall Street firm since 1882 / THU 1-5-16 / Tesfaye aka R&B's The Weeknd / Scallop-edged cracker / William physician who championed bedside training

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Medium (leaning toward Medium-Challenging for me)


THEME: Jack-in-the (BLACK) -box — words or phrase parts that require you to imagine JACK is in a preceding/subsequent BLACK square in order for the answer to make sense:

Theme answers:
  • YOU DON'T KNOW [JACK] POT (17A: *Put-down to an ignorant person / 19A: *"Bingo!")
  • [JACK] O'LANTERN (24A: *Headless horseman's prop)
  • BOOT [JACK] BLACK [JACK] PINE (38A: *Tool for removing heavy footwear / 39A: *Comic actor / *Card game ... or a hint to the answers to the starred clues / 40A: *Slender tree of northern North America)
  • MONTEREY [JACK] (49A: *Quesadilla cheese)
  • CAR [JACK] OF ALL TRADES (58A: *Trunk item / 59A: *Versatile worker)
Word of the Day: ABEL Tesfaye a.k.a. R&B's the Weeknd (31D) —
Abel Makkonen Tesfaye (born 16 February 1990), known professionally as The Weeknd (pronounced "the weekend"), is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and record producer. In late 2010, Tesfaye anonymously uploaded several songs to YouTube under the name "The Weeknd". He released three nine-track mixtapes throughout 2011: House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence, which were critically acclaimed. The following year, he released a compilation album Trilogy, thirty tracks consisting of the remastered mixtapes and three additional songs. It was released under Republic Records and his own label XO. // In 2013, he released his debut studio album Kiss Land, which was supported by the singles "Kiss Land" and "Live For". His second album, Beauty Behind the Madness, which became his first number one album on the US Billboard 200, included the top-three single "Earned It" and produced the number-one singles "The Hills" and "Can't Feel My Face". The songs have simultaneously held the top three spots on the Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart, making him the first artist in history to achieve this. The Weeknd has won two Grammy Awards and has been nominated for an Academy Award. In September 2016, the release of the third album, Starboy was announced, along with the release of the single "Starboy" which subsequently reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. (wikipedia)
• • •

Two problems today, one mine, one not mine. First, mine: my wheelhouse is very far from this puzzle. I couldn't see my wheelhouse from this puzzle. I just don't know the things that this puzzle thinks I should know. SACHS meant jack to me (at 1A!) (1A: Half of a Wall Street firm since 1882). I was all "uh ... Standard & Poors ... Dunn & Bradstreet ... Brooks & Dunn ... Smith & Wesson ... dunno." What is a BOOT Jack? Don't know. What is a Jack PINE? Don't know. That damn OSLER guy again? (50D: William ___, physician who championed bedside training) Couldn't call him up. Then there's the hilarious clue on ABEL, which I *know* the constructor doesn't know because I don't know who knows that. I bet 50+% of y'all have never heard of The Weeknd at all, and I damn sure know you didn't know his real first name. I own one of his albums and I didn't know his real name. That clue is hilarious. How bad do you want a new ABEL clue? Apparently *that* bad. Come on, man. THE WEEKND, his fame name, hasn't even been in the puzzle before, and you're gonna ask for his birth name? Please. (I actually don't hate the clue—it's just I'd lay dollars to donuts that it's the most not-known thing in the grid by several country miles).


So there was just stuff I didn't know. My problem. Then there's the puzzle's (multiple) problems. The craftsmanship is just ... lacking. There's no real purpose to this. JACK here, JACK there. I couldn't see any rhyme or reason as to where the JACK went in relation to the answer (front or back). Plain old "BLACK" doesn't do much except tell me I'm supposed to imagine JACK is in (?) the black square preceding or following the answer, but since JACK doesn't work in the cross, the effect isn't so much "ooh, it's in the BLACK square" as it is "ooh, it's ... not ... there." It's mildly cool that the central answer can have JACK on either end. And it's neat that on three Across rows, the JACK squares do double-duty (following and preceding a themer). But then that neatness is undone by the O'LANTERN and MONTEREY rows, where that *doesn't* happen. Sigh. Longer Downs are solid. Beyond that, problems. I mean, problems. The fill is ghastly. Crusty and dated and partial as [bleeeeep]! WILEE OSOLE ACUT? Brutal. UIE (esp. with that spelling), always painful (37A: It may be pulled on a road). REA EDY MMI AMOI APOLO SOYA (again!) ASA CUER ... stand-alone VEY! Oy, indeed. Clean up! Clean this damn grid up. Throwing in one (ridiculous) reference to a contemporary music star is not nearly enough to modernize or otherwise spiff this thing up.


Some things about the grid were easy, but others? Clue on TILER was so vague that I had -ILER and wasn't sure what letter went there (6A: One working on hands and knees). I thought the work was being done *to* the hands and knees. To me a jack (the one used to elevate one's car) is a jack. There is a jack in my car. "CARjack" is what happens when someone points a gun at you and then takes your car. Clue on CODE felt off (32D: "Longtime companion" for "same-sex partner," once). I know there's a movie called "Longtime Companion," but all I could think was "euphemism." CODE seems like something requiring real specialized / insider knowledge to understand.

Bonus material—two snapshots of my solving process. First, the NW:


Here you can see I went for the nicer-feeling, more common-seeming ON ICE rather than IN ICE (15A: How fish is shipped, often). You can also see I have no idea what's going on with TILER. And then here's where I got semi-stuck near the end, trying to get into the SW:


SEND OFF? DASH OFF? That was tough. I had to reboot with ... I forget, EDY, probably ... in order to get going again (though if I'd looked at the SNOWE clue, I would've known that one right away too).

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

130 comments:

Lewis 6:35 AM  

This was a fun sprint that flicked on my brain for another day. I liked the long answers FIREOFF, TITLEROLE, and EMPTYSUIT, and the clue for EAR. Other theme possibilities: FLAP, PHONE, ONE-EYED, SPRAT, and I'm guessing more will come out from other commenters.

I be nimble, I be quick on this one; once the coin dropped, so did the puzzle.

phil phil 6:46 AM  

Lug for car jack. Didn't google it but surely carjack is a carjack like rex's interpretation
Was happy to get it all in the end...lots of guesses to help the crosses and vice versa

Ted Cole 6:55 AM  

Pretty pleased with myself; finishing this one.

puzzle hoarder 7:02 AM  

I filled in the top third of this puzzle including the first three themers without getting the theme. Between that confusion and the ON ICE and WILEY write overs that top third was a little slow. Once I got CODE and BOOT the theme became obvious and the rest was fill in the blank. UIE was my last entry. Because of TINO I knew it had to be an I but the ugliness of UIE still made me hesitate. That was the worst of the dreck. Unfortunately these themed puzzles are almost always loaded with it and this was no exception. On the bright side EMPTYSUIT is pretty fresh. A slight coincidence, the one previous puzzle to have EMPTYSUIT in it also had APOLO in it.

tb 7:09 AM  

@Rex: You must have heard about "jackbooted thugs." It turns out, they're actually real.

AWS 7:42 AM  

Loved this puzzle and it was clearly right in my wheelhouse (from which, not surprisingly, I apparently can't see Rex's. Not wheelhouse neighbors, the two of us). I've got no problem with WILE. E. coyote making an appearance,and plowed through most of the short crosswordese without looking at them thanks to good crosses. And if OFL needs a reminder about Sachs, he has only to look at the resumes of roughly 50% of the incoming administration to reacquaint himself.

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

Can someone please provide link to Obama's comments on BLM's torture of the handicapped guy in Chicago that was on Facebook Live? Can't seem to find. Thanks.

Mr. Grumpypants 8:00 AM  

A jackboot and a boot jack are not the same thing -- at all.

I am not a robot 8:13 AM  

Great review. All true, truth being I think so too. However, this was Wednesday easy for me and it wasn't in my wheelhouse and I didn't enjoy it.

Names I didn't know (almost all of them) came with the crosses. Stuck with On ice for a bit and a few other things actually puzzled me. But when Jack came into focus, went back, wrote in all the starred clues, cleaned up a few things and voila.

Yet the feeling that it was a Wednesday in October stuck with me for a while. O lantern.

Muscato 8:15 AM  

My prime disappointment in this puzzle (which, unlike many a Thursday, I actually "got" and finished fairly promptly) is learning that the ice cream comes from a Mr. Edy. I had always pictured Edy as a slightly blowsy woman of a certain age, maybe with one of those elaborate teased blonde hairdos of the late '60s - kindly and wisecracking, enjoying an Old Fashioned when not dishing out her middle-market frozen treats. And now to me she's just another EMPTY SUIT. Alas...

Trombone Tom 8:18 AM  

This puzzle didn't feel up to Thursday level. Some of the longer answers like FIRE OFF, TITLE ROLE and EMPTY SUIT were interesting, but overall this was kind of meh.

I've certainly read/heard about BOOT(JACK)s, (not to be confused with jackboots).

The clue for ABEL was a complete WOE without the crosses.

Once you see the theme (which I tumbled to at CAR (JACKS)), the rest pretty much opens up.

Anon @7:43 you are on the wrong blog.

OTD 8:25 AM  

We have a boot jack in the front closet. Use it now and then in winter to help get our snow boots off. Handy. You'll find them mostly around horse stables.

Passing Shot 8:28 AM  

Ridiculously easy for a Thursday. Record time (which is still molasses compared to Rex and some of you). Plowed through most of the acrosses without difficulty (knowing SACHS right off the bat helped). Like others, had iNICE for the longest time. Didn't know ABEL, hated CUER and UIE. Easy puzzle, but blechhh.

chefbea 8:33 AM  

What a great puzzle. Had to google a bit. Once I got montery...knew the theme...just had quesadillas last nit..and tacos too.

I am not a robot 8:38 AM  

@Muscato, I pictured him as a shorter, less imaginative Ben and Jerry type, but there's a whole film script in your mind somewhere!

kitshef 8:39 AM  

A car jack is the thing in your trunk. A carjack is the terrifying crime.

@Rex mentioned he was starting a list of 'never agains'. All forms of UIE/uey/ueiy should be on that list.

I thought it was fairly fun, although mostly what @Rex said is true. I knew he wouldn't know jack PINE, because he never knows anything remotely related to nature.

SNOWE ISAAC NIA is going to be a brutal row for some folks. I really thought today's rant was going to be about the abundance of short PPP: that row, plus OPRAH ORTIZ ORMAN OSLER, ABEL WANDA APOLO THECROW. Other than OPRAH, every one of those is going to be a WoE for someone.

Lobster11 8:43 AM  

My wheelhouse is nowhere near Rex's, but it's every bit as far from this puzzle as his (with the sole except of SACHS, which I dropped in early). I was doing pretty well until I got to the south, where OSLER/THECROW/ISAAC PPPfest left too much white space for me to get the rest. Eventually I needed a couple of cheats with the Google Machine to finish.

UIE (as spelled) is in the running for the very top of my list of Worst Ever Crossword Answers.

I did like the Jack-BLACK-Jack revealer, appropriately located in the center, but that was about the only enjoyment I got out of this one.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

Too easy for a Thursday...this trick is overused in my opinion...maybe a wheelhouse effect?

Tita A 8:50 AM  

@Muscato -Edy riff... lol!

I liked this just fine...love outside-the-box - or in this case - in-the-box thinking.

Rex- how could you rattle off the other Wall St names, and then think that one of the ones that you do hear about all the time is somehow unworthy?

Clever how the [JACK}s were popping up front and back here and there.
Can't say I'm a fan of ACTUP ending at SHOWNUP.
Carelessly naticked at LESMIs/BIs.

Poached PEARs is a favorite around here. Learned to make it from my mom and Jacques Pépin. I add some orange rind strips. If I'm feeling fancy, will add some chocolate leaves and a light chiffonade of chocolate mint.

Cute that Gob crossed MAW.

Suzy 8:55 AM  

Had Wiley for Wilee-- got it with Monterey Jack. Nice crunchy Thursday-- no complaints except for googling Tesfaye who was totally
out of my wheelhouse! Thank you, Mr. Sessa

NCA President 8:57 AM  

Wow...I'm in a different world than many of you for sure. This was a rare DNF for me due to so many names I did not know, TINO being chief among them. I'm kinda old and the number of Tony's I know can be counted on one hand...but for all of them, the nickname for Tony, is...Tony...since it's really a nickname for Anthony/Antonio. OSLER, ORMAN, SNOWE, ISAAC, REA, and ABEL. That's a lot of not knowing. And by 'not knowing," I mean I had no clue. Add into that some crazy cluing and UIE, and for me, this was a mess.

The theme did help, so there's that. But the inconsistency even messed that up. And all proper nouns and crazy cluing aside, my only real nit with the puzzle is at [JACK]OLANTERN and MONTEREY[JACK]. Even though they are symmetrical, not having a similar double-duty JACK as the rest of the JACKS robbed the theme of its impact, IMO.

CUER and INKER are two of those "add an -ER to any noun to get an occupation" foibles that seem lazy to me. INKER would have been better clued as a tattoo artist, again...IMO.

Hand up for being one of the one in eight...I worked at a McDonald's when I was in high school...back when it was cool to work there. Not a bad job...but it was less automated then, we actually grilled the burgers right then and there. Most of the employees were kids...including the shift managers. My favorite memory was one night we were closing and someone thought that the floors were extra dirty (or something) and so to get them extra clean, they thought it would be best to put ammonia and bleach into the mop water. Good times.



Tita A 8:58 AM  

I guess I have to pile on with the UIE-haters.

And to complain about CAR [jack].
How many of us, while stranded on the side of the highway in the rain with semis rolling by, have to qualify the statement -
"Hey - quick - get me the jack out of the trunk."

Even if you WERE carrying a topgallant jack and a jackrabbit in your trunk that night, would you really feel like you had to say
"Hey - quick - get me the CAR jack out of the trunk."

Eric NC 8:58 AM  

Agree with all re UIE and all forms. Stared at OLANTERN for the longest time before my "aha" moment and then puzzle fell. Feeling really smart today as all my issues were the same ones that Rex had. (Except puzzle took me28 minutes not 4). Not a bad puzzle but not a Thursday once "JACK" fell down and broke his crown

Norm 9:26 AM  

Is VEY JACK possibly a thing? Because JACK TAR is just as good an answer as TAR for GOB.

Bob C 9:32 AM  

This was solidly in my ordeal-house, except for OSLER which I can thank my physician wife for knowing. On our bookshelf, next to Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, is _The Quotable Osler_ which was (I assume) required reading for her in med school. He's not quite as snappy as Twain, having quipped, "It is difficult to correlate lung capacity with survival," and "Tubercle bacilli ride coal-polluted air," and "Do not expect too much from others," to pick a few at random.



QuasiMojo 9:32 AM  

I used to have a "Boot Betty" aka "Naughty Nellie" that jacked my boots off in SNOWE weather.

It's amazing how many variations of the word "Jack" there are. Anything from zero to Jesus.

Tricky puzzle but over too fast. Once you get the theme, it's a cinch.

I'd have had more luck with ABEL Gance than some young RAPscallion.



Edsquire 9:32 AM  

What's with JACK CODE or CODE JACK? Never heard of it, nor did Google.

pmdm 9:37 AM  

I eagerly await Z's POP score. Seemed to me that there were too many clues fitting into the POP criteria. While I liked figuring out the theme, I did not like all the POP clues.

The blog criticizes the puzzle on two levels, the first which I would call subjective and the second (set of complaints) allege to be objective. That's nice. But I would judge some of the supposed objective complaints to be subjective. The requirement for a puzzle to have a "rhyme or reason" other than just challenging solvers to complete the puzzle is a subjective requirement which perhaps makes a puzzle more elegant but is a tad too close for me to for over-analyzing a puzzle. Seems like a bit of bad grammar in that last sentence, but I hope you understand what I'm getting at. I certainly agree with the critique subjectively, but don't really feel it harms the puzzle overall.

crabsofsteel 9:44 AM  

UIE was just plain awful. Oy vey is mir!

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

@Edsquire Code is not one of the theme answers so doesn't include "jack".

As an American living in Canada, I'm not surprised that the Weeknd is not known. I have heard of him (though didn't know real name) although I don't follow that type of music. Of course, the ignorance of Americans about anything in Canada is really amazing. On Family Feud, Steve Harvey (and it seemed like most of the audience) were totally puzzled when the contestant answered the question: "Name a famous 'Justin'" The contestant replied "Trudeau". Hopefully, OFL knows that Justin even if he has not heard of The Weeknd.

Leapfinger 9:45 AM  

@NCA Prez, surely you've heard of INKER, he who was later canonized as St. INKER?

otoh, you may be right that, for some conditions, there's just no CUER.

I thought most of these [JACKs] hit the spot.

My Other Wheelhouse Is A Cardboard Box 9:57 AM  



I breezed through this with no problem.

Based on the comments so far, it seems this was either in your wheelhouse or miles away, as it were. While that's not uncommon, what I find interesting is that, which a few exceptions, most of thiese answers were pretty general knowledge. At least I thought so.

Goldman SACHS has been heavily in the news for years now; WILEE Coyote is classic and timeless and you should know the not-so-trick spelling; APOLO Ohno was in about ten Olympic Games and was a big media star in all of them, plus did commercials; I know nothing about fashion but even I knew ISAAC Mizrahi because it is kind of an unforgettable name and not really obscure. As for the "O" names: OPRAH and ORMAN are seemingly everywhere you look, and while ORTIZ, OSLER, and good old OSOLE are more obscure to some, all of these were easily crossed. Fish may be displayed oNICE but is definitely packed INICE (I made this mistake at first too). And FIREOFF is the the only OFF you do to a letter. ABEL/weeknd I knew nothing about but it was solved through crosses.

Like I said, when there's a big "wheelhouse schism" (and I've been on both sides) there's usually a bunch of specialized answers or trivia or esoterica or whatever, but I didn't see that here.

Or maybe I'm just an idiot savant. Hell if I know.




I am not a robot 9:57 AM  

@pmdm, I agree with you. My thought that the puzzle suggested a Halloween feel is purely subjective and may be just me. We expect a lot from these little boxes of words and it's easy to forget that elegance of design requires so much to make it appear so simple a task to construct one.

Steve M 9:58 AM  

Friday finesse👍

Z 10:05 AM  

I think it was on on SNL that I ran across The Weeknd and immediately discounted anything he ever did or will do musically. You see, I'm prejudiced. If I see a musical artist and it seems they spent more time on their hair than their music they are done. Conor Oberst? Done. 80's hair metal bands? Done. The Weeknd? Done. I don't even care if the artist matures a little, becomes less looks obsessed, and seems to have genuine talent (looking at you Bright Eyes). Still Done.

I doubt anyone will be surprised to discover that the PPP came in at 36%. Seeing all the "wheelhouse" comments is further evidence that once you cross the 33% line on pop culture/product names/proper nouns you will be in some group's outhouse.

AWS - Only 50%? Also, I appreciated the correct spelling in your post, WILE E. Coyote.

UIE is bad. Uey is bad. But they are way down my list below RRNs (III as stand alone? Twice in one week?) and RCDs.

Olympia SNOWE was the kind of Republican I grew up with, but who barely exist in today's party. Even when I disagreed with her I could understand her position and how she arrived at it. Reasonable people of good will can disagree and still work toward a common purpose.

mathgent 10:05 AM  

I guess it could be called a "virtual rebus" and all manner of rebuses are welcome in my house.

Since we don't have snow out here, I haven't heard of BOOTJACK. But neither has Rex. Are they not used anymore? Or are they just for riding boots?

Too many threes -- I counted 20.

Typo at 65A. Should be "Endings ..."

I'm surprised that Rex hasn't seen Goldman Sachs in the news dozens of times.

Not much to love in the cluing and a clunker for CODE.

Can't do better than a B.

GHarris 10:07 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle and the relative ease with which I solved it. Surprised that Rex had difficulty with the SW when there were so many gimmes there, Snowe, Les Miz, scab, navy, bys, etc. Code was used here as a device to convey what was once considered a socially unacceptable circumstance. Therefore I think it's use in the puzzle was accurate though apparently Rex thought otherwise.

GILL I. 10:10 AM  

@Norm...I had to go back and check if TAR had an asterik. I'm thinking what a waste of JACK...you had your JACK TAR and right next door to NAVY!
I had a hate love with this puzzle. I hated all the darn names like the "not known for me" ABEL. Never remembering how to spell NIA nor ORMAN nor ISAAC. The love came with the theme. Anything JACK (or Jill for that matter) is fun fine for me.
I just call that torturous looking thing in the BOOT a plain old JACK. Talk about nightmare tools. I remember driving my mom's Seat 600 in Spain and getting a flat running over some ice. I knew how to change tires but I'm scared to death that once I JACK-up the car, it will fall on my head while i'm unscrewing the lug nuts. So happened a semi truck driver was putting his chains on his tires and offered to help me. He said "tienes el JACK en tu coche?"
WANDA SACHS...what a comic.

Malcolm Gibson 10:10 AM  

Just the opposite of Rex; I found the puzzle (too) easy because all the trouble spots for Rex came easily for me: Sachs (right off the bat), Edy, etc. An "OK" theme, but no challenge, unfortunately, which is unusual (for me) on a Thursday. One note of agreement to a running theme: I think the overall quality of puzzles is diminishing (except for this past Monday's), and paying folks more for the puzzles might be part of the solution to that. Well, it's a thought.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:10 AM  

What I want to know is, when did soybeans turn into SOYA beans?

Roberto Escobar 10:12 AM  

Good fun and fast for me

Agree with many posters that this one was either in your wheelhouse or not. Did not think that the references were particularly obscure except for ABEL, for which I needed all the crosses. For an old guy like me a much easier clue would have been 'Labor leader from the sixties and seventies I. W.____'

AliasZ 10:16 AM  


Oy VEY Jack, did you trust your life savings to Goldman SACHS?

There are plenty of JACKs out there, it would have been easy find some to make the trick work in the down answers as well. Perhaps that would have stressed the fill further, past UIE, BYS, OSOLE, AMOI, ASA, ACUT, MMI etc. Is REWOVEN any better than yesterday's RESLIDE?

INKER, TILER, CUER sly,
Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy.
NIA ORMAN, ABEL SACHS,
RITZ APOLO blows the sax.
WANDA OSLER, WILEE SNOWE,
ISAAC, ORTIZ scare THE CROW.
TINO EDY, REA, LES MIZ...
I'll give up and quit the BIZ.

But not before Polish violinist WANDA Wiłkomirska (b.1929) has a chance to sparkle, and with great polish I might add.

Blue Stater 10:17 AM  

Right as rain, Rex. Too clever by about seven-eighths. I actually finished this grid, something I almost never do on Gimmick Thursday, but was foiled by Jack BOOT Jack, ABEL, and TINO (since when is this a nickname for Tony? Tony is a nickname). This one was hard in pointless ways, as Gimmick Thursday puzzles all too often are.

Nancy 10:21 AM  

I was slow on the JACKtake today, and didn't pick up the theme until MONTEREY JACK, all the way down at 49A. Meaning that I was fuming at what I thought was A LANTERN at 24A (what's that superfluous indirect article doing there? I thought); meaning that CAR at 58A made no sense, nor POT at 18A. Then I said a belated "Aha". And then I started to wonder: If BLACKJACK is the game (39A), is BLACK JACK also the comic? Or is the comic JACK BLACK? Rex hasn't exactly told me that, so I guess I'll go and read y'all to find out.

One big complaint on 5D. No! You can show someone up without "robbing them of the spotlight." They may not even have a spotlight to be robbed of. If you have gone to the refrigerator in the middle of the night and cleaned out half of an entire chocolate cake and I know you did it and I tell everyone, I have indeed SHOWN you UP, but I haven't robbed you of any spotlight. On the contrary, I have given you a completely unwanted spotlight. And, on the other hand, I can rob you of your spotlight without SHOWing you UP. I can simply UPSTAGE you and not only won't you be shown up, but no one will notice you at all. A terrible clue.

I liked this puzzle once I knew what was going on. But I didn't love it -- too much PPP in the NW corner for me.

Laurence Katz 10:28 AM  

I guess Z would have dismissed the Beatles too because of their hair. Too quick to judge. The clue for the Weeknd's first name was tough, but he is one of the biggest stars in today's music world. And that is the world, not just Canada.

Nancy 10:45 AM  

@Don McBrien -- Many thanks for your lovely comment yesterday.

@Alias Z (10:16)-- And now John Le Carre has a new title for his new spy novel. Very, very funny!

@mathgent (10:05)-- "Since we don't have snow out here..." Aww, mathgent, I never knew you to be CRUEL. Are you just trying to make us Northeasterners feel bad?

Unknown 10:50 AM  

I love your blog Rex Parker! I started doing crossword puzzles to improve my English as I am Peruvian. I do as much as I can of the crossword and then check your blog. I love it!

r.alphbunker 10:54 AM  

I was in the dark about the theme for most of the puzzle but that didn't slow me down much. Got the theme at the revealer which let me get {*Quesadilla cheese} MONTEREY from _ _N_ _R_ _ and {*Versatile worker} OFALLTRADES from O_ _ _L_ _ _ _ _S.

Given the frequency of S's and E's at the end of words, SESSA is an appropriate name for a constructor that signs his name at the end of the puzzle. And backwards it spells ASSES which could be preceded by JACK.

Details are here.

jberg 10:57 AM  

What's this "Canada" people are talking about? (ducks)

It's true that JACK TAR would have been as good as TAR; on the other hand, PINE was as good as JACK PINE, so that came out even.

When I was growing up in NE Wisconsin, we had a BOOT JACK shaped like a crocodile. I can't find a picture on the web, but this beetle will give you a pretty good idea if you cut off the middle legs and paint it green. They're almost essential if you wear galoshes.

I'm with @Rex -- a car elevator is a thing, a CAR JACK is not.

Z 11:14 AM  

@Laurence Katz - Isn't sporting something called a "mop top" the very opposite of "spen(ding) more time on their hair than their music?" Besides, why would I have to be consistent in my prejudices? This is He Who Shall not be Named's America after all.*








*Yeah? Whatev.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

I hail from the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, aka Pennsyltucky, tail end of the Appalachian range in the Allegheny Mountains. Back in the day, Hershel, a friend of dad's, is driving in the other, fancier side of the state outside Philly. Tire goes flat. He flags down a passing car and politely inquires as to whether they might have a tar arn.

"Huh?"
"A tar arn."
"Sorry?"
"A tar arn! A tar arn! I gotta flat tar and need to jack up the car!"
"Oh, you mean a tire iron!"
"Well int that what I been sayin!"

Too bad he didn't ask for a car jack.

jae 11:31 AM  

Easy-medium for me so more in my wheelhouse than not. Caught the theme with the reveal clue and it was pretty smooth from there.

Not sure why 27a "Prompter?" has a ?

Yep, did not know ABEL but did know the Weeknd, maybe from a BEQ puzzle?

@Z - did a quick PPP check last night and thought it seemed high, thanks for confirming that.

Fine theme answers, interesting clueing, and some nice long downs. Liked it.

Numinous 11:42 AM  

This boot jack is for @Rex and anyone else who hasn't seen one of these; or maybe have seen one but not known what it is for.

I had trouble with the PPPs but finally managed all but ISAAC. In retrospect, I should have been ABEL to figure it out and kicked myself whan I saw it. It took me the longest time to get [JACK]] BLACK [JACK] but once I saw it, the rest of the puzzle fell easily. I'm with just about everyone on all the crappy three letter ASA and UIEs. I've never heard of OSLER before.

INKER: I was one once. Cartoon characters used to be drawn on paper in pencil. The paper drawing is then covered with a CEL and someone else traces the peicil lines cleanly in India ink. The CEL is then passed to a painter who colors it in, on the back. When I was in London, I worked on The Yellow Submarine as an INKER. Made a ton of money too. There was lots of overtime to be had.

Dreyer is the ice cream guy. He was from Oakland, California. EDY owned a candy store in San Francisco. At first, Dreyer acquired candy supplies for his varietal ice cream from EDY, At some point they merged. West of the Rockies, the ice cream is Dreyer's and east of the Rockies it is EDY's. Rocky Road was the first varietal ice cream other than chocolate, vanilla and strawberry widely marketed in the U.S..

I don't think this was the best Thursday gimmick and I agree with OFL that it was sad the [JACK]s didn't work in both directions.

Masked and Anonymous 11:45 AM  

UIE puz. Good puz.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


**gruntz**

Mohair Sam 11:56 AM  

For the first time in years we solved online today (our printer is on the fritz). Used Across Lite. A clean solve folks, we're very proud. We solved over breakfast, while taking a call from our middle child (discussed the NY Giants sinful Miami holiday) and listening to the news. Our Across Lite timer told us we did the thing in 29 seconds flat.

Beat that @Rex. Yes, we double checked, that was 29 seconds not minutes. Finally understand the amazing times you speed solvers put up.

It was an awright puzzle, played easy for us (29 seconds is close to our Thursday record). Lost a little time because I wanted to ship fish on ICE, not IN it, and Lady Mohair argued for WILEy Coyote. Timely call from middle son held for my side of that argument.

We saw "Manchester by the Sea" yesterday. Highly recommend.

@Alias Z - Thanks for link to Wilkomirska, my polish half yearns for someone other than Chopin as an answer to all those Polish jokes. Always enjoy your musical links, btw - keep 'em coming.

Noam D. Elkies 12:01 PM  

Neat idea; way too many YAWN (Yet Another Wretched Name) entries. (No, the problem is *not* that all the damn names are not "contemporary" enough -- and as a rule, the more self-consciously "contemporary" you try to make it, the sooner it becomes dated.] Surprised that 17A:YOU_DON'T_KNOW_[[JACK]] was allowed, because that phrase is 32D:CODE for "you don't know (jack) sh¡t" as even Wikipedia's entry for the phrase corroborates, and I thought the NYTimes is still careful to sheathe the s-word . . .

NDE

old timer 12:08 PM  

What I admire about OFL today is that he made a distinction between things he did not know, or not know right off, which, he says, are his fault, and the things that he thinks are wrong with the puzzle. That said, I thought this was a brilliant puzzle. You have to remember that a black square may stand for "Jack". If as with MONTEREY it comes at the end, then the Jack will only be used once. If it comes between to words, it is used twice, and where that happens the results, it seems to me, are pretty damned brilliant. So, as Prof. Barany might say, "Well done, Mr. Sessa."

I was stuck for a while in the SW corner because while I immediately knew Olympia SNOWE I wrote in "Stowe" which is two states away from Mme. SNOWE's native Maine. So figuring that out is how I ended the puzzle. I got the theme, early, with Jack OLANTERN. Which really ought to be an Irish last name.

The first word I INKEd in was EDY. Three letters? Ice cream? What else could it be. I appreciate the story about how EDY got its name in Oakland. Personally, my go-to ice cream these days is Three Twins, which started in nearby (to me) Petaluma, and has been expanding almost as fast as Petaluma's Lagunitas brewery. Tony Magee of Lagunitas will end up a billionaire, I think. Probably the Three Twins founder(s) will end up with only millions. But it is very, very good ice cream, and available now in mny parts of the West.

My fave down: EMPTYSUIT.

Hartley70 12:13 PM  

@Mathgent, We Northern snow lovers can generally handle our boots without a BOOTjack. They are not fitted very tightly and usually let a cup of snow down inside to get our socks wet if we step in a drift. Texans and other devotees of cowboy boots probably tell a different story. I don't see how you'd get those suckers off without a jack, or a minion to give them a strong tug at the heel. It's an unappealing assignment I was given early in my marriage and I can tell you my husband's Tony Lamas did not last long in our NYC closet.

Many thanks to those who commiserated last evening upon reading the full explanation of my "bat-phobia". @Andrew, I hope that answers your questions. For my tale of an encore rabies series, an angry raccoon and a dish of dog food will be required.

I too got nostalgic for Olympia SNOWE, @bluestater. Her opinion piece on "Why I'm Leaving the Senate" hits the nail on the head for all of us.

I thought the puzzle was entertaining today. I had a slightly harder time in the Mid-West, but the B and the L in the crosses gave me ABEL.

howardk 12:16 PM  

TKO is hardly a stat

howardk 12:17 PM  

TKO is hardly a stat

Everybody's Working for The Weeknd 12:21 PM  

The clue on ABEL is likely a gimme for many younger solvers (or anyone who follows pop music closely). It's a tough one for everyone else, but is that such a bad thing in a Thursday puzzle? Would a boring Biblical clue have been better? I liked it!

Roo Monster 12:27 PM  

Hey All !
Just skimmed comments, seems 50-50 like/dislike. I liked this/was familiar with theme, as I submitted The Same Theme myself some time ago. (Not quite as dense as this one, but with at least two of the same themers.) And yes, it was rejected.(I know, quit yer whining!)

The ole brain could not come up with FIREOFF. Not helping having Ton for TAR, and a WOE with SNOWE. (Har) So left an EMPTY square. Same oNICE at first as OFL, otherwise easyish for a ThursPuz.

CES hete on Las Vegas. (Consumer Electronics Show) Very busy. In case you cared. :-)

Das BOOT
RooMonster
DarrinV

Masked and Anonymous 12:30 PM  

p.s.

@Roo: See that? Zero-G's.

Liked the W&A appearance, as a closing entry. Close as I'll ever get ...

Was really relieved that OFF weren't in the puz.

M&Also


**gruntz**

Hartley70 1:06 PM  

My apologies, @Z. I confused you with @Blue Stater when you commented on Olympia SNOWE. While your residence may not be blue, I suspect you're a big old sapphire at heart. Either way, I appreciate your comment.

Teedmn 1:08 PM  

"Gibble-gabble" IS gibble-gabble to me. Only having YA_ allowed me to guess what that might be.

An early oops with 1/8 of all workers having worked at Microsoft made for a lot of BLACK INKER to ignore when I realized it was Mac AND Don's they were talking about.

I was in the same place as @Rex on 6A with _ILER. Well, the Tin Man had to be oILed, could the oILER be working on hands and knees? Truly, this went through my brain.

Vlad the Impaler was certainly a CReEp. And with LES MIs in place, a small enterprise was possibly as Bus - bus to space ship ratio pointing to Bus being on the small side.

I liked finding I did know JACK when I got to Jack BLACK/BLACK Jack. No DNFs today, just a challenging and entertaining puzzle. Thanks, Mr. Sessa.

Andrew Heinegg 1:09 PM  

As an east coast born and raised person who has migrated to the left coast, I have never heard the term boot jack much less having seen one. I can remember struggling to pull off my boots as I was coming inside from wintery weather but, I will be darned if I can recall of a boot jack being available as an assist. Nor do I recall seeing or hearing of one at friends and neighbors houses. But, all of these jacks were easily sussed out by inference and crosses. That doesn't make them interesting, just gettable.

Nancy's example of one person eating a large amount of chocolate cake and another person then telling everyone about it as an example of showing someone up is a rib tickler. Which do you think would be worse, the bodily reaction to that much sugar being loaded up on in one sitting or the embarrassment of having others told you had done the deed? I also can't help but wonder if Nancy has convinced herself of the danger of being shown up to convince her evil side to not get started on that chocolate cake!

This was a bit of a weak effort from an accomplished composer. As many have noted, there are answers that should not be in crosswords anymore. Plus, there are a number of clues/answers that do not pass the sniff test for me. I have always disliked words that I realize are words that are in the puzzle to make it fit and otherwise would not be heard or written, e.g., cuer. And why is that clue question-marked? Ditto for inker, Numinous's interesting little tidbit aside.

And I apparently have a different understanding than some people. I have not thought of long-time companion as code for same-sex partner. I think of it as an indication that this particular couple have been together for a bit. In any event, unless the name or gender of the partner is not revealed, it ain't much of a code.

I also think there is a bit of a degree of meaning gap between enthusiast and fiend but, that might be a reflection of my distaste for the puzzle.

Paul Rippey 1:09 PM  

I have friends who moved to Nairobi to start a solar lamp business. Things were going well until one evening they were driving home, stopped at a light, and a guy came up with what he claimed was a gun. He told them to get out of the car, which he hopped into and drove away, leaving them standing by the road. That CARJACKing so colored their experience that they never felt quite safe or happy in Nairobi again, and they left about a year later. That was sad and upsetting to *me*, and I wasn't the one who got CARJACKed. When the crosses made it clear that was the answer to "Trunk item", I resented that wrong clue. "Give a motorist PTSD" would have been a more fitting clue.

Anoa Bob 1:09 PM  

OPRAH, ORTIZ, OLANTERN, ORMAN, OSHA, OSLER, OSOLE, OFALLTRADES: Sub-theme?

Agree with @Nancy, if you've SHOWN someone UP, you haven't so much robbed them of the spotlight as you have put the spotlight on them, in an unflattering way.

Also agree with @Blue Stater that "Nickname for Tony" (29D) sounds odd since Tony is already a nickname for Anthony or Antonio. TINO could have been changed to TINE, SEEN to SEER, PEAR to PAAR, and TETON would have become a TATER.

Yeah, anon@9:44, when it comes to Jeopardy clues about things Canadian, the contestants often whiff and Alex shakes his head sadly and looks at them as if he were thinking "YOU DON"T KNOW JACK shit about my country" (Hi NDE).

thfenn 1:21 PM  

I'm so excited I completed a Thursday without looking anything up I can hardly stand it. 52 minutes fine by me (tho that includes some slow downs while I actually tried to do my job). First off, just yesterday I was wondering how many of us got our first paycheck from McDonald's and here we are today learning 1 in 8 US workers have been employed there (that linkage also left me trying ABIT and ATAD, even AAND, before ACUT, but nevermind). And then, unbelievably enough, we get REWOVEN on the heels of the whole RESLIDE RECARVE discourse. Does anybody reweave a rug? SHUNNED before SHOWNUP and MOVIEROLE before TITLEROLE held me up but enjoyed resolving those. I FIREOFF memos and emails, not letters, which I'd usually reserve for more thoughtful composition, but I guess you can fire those off too. Filling in FIEND for enthusiast (?) took me awhile. Think TINO and TONY are both nicknames for ANTHONY or ANTONIO, not one for the other, but OK there.

Latched on to the theme pretty quickly when I had __AC_ in the center, was wondering if BLACK would fly, wanted to somehow make JACKOFALLTRADES fit in for a versatile worker, and suddenly all the lights went on - jack black, black jack, OFALLTRADES, jack OLANTERN, and we're off and running. No qualms with jack sometimes working at both ends and sometimes only at one - I was way too happy just grasping that plugging JACK in somewhere would give me a bunch of answers. Wouldn't have thought jack PINES were slender, but OK. Way too many close connections to carjackings for that to be a pleasant association with a jack for changing your tires (and pretty surprised to see here that tire irons are handy for that purpose elsewhere in the country, but hey, I suppose there are plenty of ways to do that), but even that worked.

I had THEDROP there before THECROW and figured there was some comic named PANDA Sykes, so at the very end I was stumped with I_AAd crossing O_LER, went with ISAAC (thinking OSLER sounded familiar), but THECROP wasn't right either - and at that point I sat there with everything filled in, desperately trying to figure out what was still wrong until I finally saw I needed to go with THECROW and WANDA instead of THECROP and PANDA. And voila, my 52 minute solve. All in all, this was obviously easy for many here, but a watershed puzzle for me, with productive results from the multiple synapses it fired up.

SNOWE was a gimme. I'm a Democrat, but years and years ago worked as a volunteer for one of Bill Cohen's reelection campaigns (being enamored of his role on the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate hearings). Also, like @Z, have a lot of respect for SNOWE, and with George Mitchell (also a hero of mine) as a former senator I happen to think Maine's track record in the Senate is a good deal more significant and respectable than its track record with the governership (speaking of EMPTYSUITs).

Cassieopia 1:22 PM  

PINE opened up the puzzle for me, as I used to hang around with foresters back in the day. Once I got the JACK trick, the puzzle filled in quickly, but I was still DNF because of the miserable UIE. Had to come here to find the solution and it makes me feel better that others hated it too. Misery loves company.

Other than that, I enjoyed this Thursday puzzle, it was a bit easier than usual for me but still put up enough of a fight that I had a good time.

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

How can a card-carrying lefty like Rex not know Goldman SACHS? In the immortal words of Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi:

"The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who's Who of Goldman Sachs graduate."

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

@Mohair Sam:

I've solved exclusively with Across Lite ever since it became available. In all that time, the counter has never given me an erroneous reading. As far as I know, it will not reset unless you close the program and reopen it. The timer has several other advantages that are far superior to other formats.

#1. You can drag the timer anywhere on the page. Put it right on top of the grid if you like.

#2. The timer will not start until you click on the on/off button to the left of the counter.

#3. You can stop and start the timer as often as you like without losing the count. This is obviously a major plus for pauses like phone calls or Loo calls.

#4. The counter freezes as soon as MHP arrives.

Speaking only for myself, I would cancel my crossword subscription if the Across Lite option was ever abandoned.

Martín Abresch 2:25 PM  

Perhaps I'm just in a bad mood, but all the puzzles this week have bored me. The weekend can't come fast enough,

Mohair Sam 2:26 PM  

@Anonymous (1:24) - Huge Matt Taibbi fan here. He cuts through the bullshit like nobody else. Great quote, positively nails it. Thanks for posting.

@Anonymous (1:49) - Oh ye of little faith. Does Across Lite offer seconds? - maybe it was minutes, 'cause the clock says 00:29 (don't tell anyone else here).

Mohair Sam 2:31 PM  

@Anonymous (1:49) - Oh yeah. Since we accidentally resized the screen several times, lost it twice, typed in the wrong direction most of the time, and ended up with a tiny grid we could hardly see I think there is the remote possibility we might have turned the clock off at some point. Remote.

Carola 3:05 PM  

I agree with @old timer's "pretty darn brilliant" on the puzzle's structure (12:08 PM). When I first looked back over the grid, I thought it was a flaw that O'LANTERN and MONTEREY didn't feature the double-duty [JACKs], but then I realized that a single BLACK box is perfectly placed on the edge of the grid for the JACK. @oldtimer said it better! I thought the two-way BLACK in the center was an inspired touch.

I was surprised that BOOTJACKS were unfamiliar to so many until I realized I don't think I've actually ever seen one, only read about them. Occasionally, when a Wisconsin winter has reached the messy muddy-snowy-glop phase, I've wished I had one.

Medium solve for me: I ignored the starred clues until I got to MONTEREY and the light went on, then went back and filled in the rest, with repeated little jolts of admiration.

tkincher 3:11 PM  

I'm with Rex on this one in that it's pretty out of my wheelhouse, as well. Having lived on the west coast my whole life, I don't really know my Maine senators and only know EDY ice cream because of crosswords. I needed pretty much everything around it to get to OSLER and ISAAC (but at least the I_AAC made the S a gimme). Lots of proper nouns in this one. At least I know my comedians, which helped.

Aketi 3:31 PM  

The JACKs were in my wheelhouse. I didn't work for MCDONALDS. In my late teens and early twenties I was a Jill OF,maybe not ALL, but certainly many TRADES to pay for my education, one of those was as a cashier at a JACK that was IN THE BOX but not included in this puzzle.

Nancy 3:49 PM  

@Andrew Heinegg (1:09) -- While I like my chocolate cake as much as the next person, a sweet tooth has never been a problem, since desserts make me feel full so very quickly that one helping is just about always enough. (It's sort of like beer -- I've never gotten even moderately high on it; it fills me up long before I can drink enough to affect me alcoholically.) No, my food weakness is what's known as "grease foods." Keep me away from the cheese plate; the pate; the chopped chicken liver; the sour cream dip, things like that. If I let myself, I could eat any and all of them ad infinitum. I've learned to substitute healthier foods that are similar in "feel": guacamole, a real favorite; and, while boring old hummus is normally no substitute for anything delicious, I've found one (quite expensive) that is. ROOTS Roasted Garlic Hummus, "Handcrafted in Asheville NC". The motto that's scrawled across the container? "Every batch is sacred." Then there's a paragraph on the container that begins: "Honor ingredients as life-givers and they do just that." And I want to laugh, truly I do, but the stuff -- only carried in one store in NYC, so far as I can tell -- has helped keep me away from the Brie, the dolce gorgonzola, the pate and so forth. Which is a pretty sacred mission, come to think of it.

Aketi 3:52 PM  

@Hartley70, I did Tuesday's puzzle late Monday night, but didn't have a chance to read the blog till yesterday. I just went back and read it and just about died laughing over your horrendous incident with the bat. Made my experience with a bat that infiltrated my apartment and flew over my bed at night for three nights in a row causing me to sleep in my bathroom until I finally captured it in a towel and threw it in the snow seem like a walk in the park by comparison.

Roo Monster 4:31 PM  

Have never worked in a Mickey D's, or any other fast food joint. Had a buddy worked at sit-down restaurants, and an ex who worked for Subway. I was a grocery store worker myself.

This interruption brought to you as if you cared. :-)

Now, back to you Bob!

RooMonster

Unknown 4:54 PM  

Right! Car jack is an action, not a thing!

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

Any word from Obama on Chicago racial torture yet?

Z 5:41 PM  

Wal-Mart has 250 CAR JACKs on their website so I think it passes the "is it a thing" test. Not sure what it says about society that we all think of a violent crime first even though violent crime is at a 40 year low.

@Nancy - OMG. Do not say such a thing in Dearborn. I've had Roots. Not my cuppa, but then again I spent 18 years living amongst the largest Arab-American population on the U.S. Hummus, tahini, garlic sauce, these are the nectars of the gods.

@Hartley70 - No worries.

Z 5:44 PM  

@Anonymous5:09 - Not that you'll believe it, but your info is wrong.

Anonymous 5:54 PM  

If these were white Trump supporters torturing a disabled black, man, laughing about it, recording it and posting it on Facebook, there would be no other story talked about for weeks. But this doesn't fit the narrative. They spent more time talking about a fake hate crime in NYC fthat anyone with half a brain knew was a hoax from the beginning. It's like finding a noose in. Columbia dorm room or seeing African American law professors portraits defaced at Harvard, anyone with any common sense knows the perpetrators aren't right wing white guys. I saw Bush derangement syndrome on the left, Obama derangement syndrome on the right. There has never been anything like Trump derangement syndrome.

Anonymous 5:57 PM  

Goldman Sachs has been all over the news...advisors to, and appointees of, the pres-elect (I can't even say his name). Looking forward to the impeachment hearings...hopefully soon.

old timer 6:29 PM  

Well, a car jack is likely less capable tan a truck or trailer jack to raise a vehicle. But if you find the little depression where you are supposed to raise the jack to, you are pretty safe. Especially if your jack is on pavement or dirt so hard it is unlikely to slip.

But that's not why a came back. I just wanted to mention the old Time magazine which my parents subscribed to forever. They had a wonderful CODE, "great and good friend" to refer to a man's mistress. Marion Davies was often referred to as Hearst's "great and good friend". So were the G&GFs of lots of other men, including if I recall correctly, the ubiquitous Averill Harriman.

Malsdemare 7:13 PM  

Oh so late to the blog today so I have nothing to contribute (which won't totally shut me up). TINO and UIY did me in; otherwise, I did pretty well. I had a lot of blank space and then my brain rolled right into Mr. Sessa's wheelhouse; SACHS, ORMAN, SNOWE, EDY (as a Cincinnati girl, I have to argue that the best ice cream is Graeter's, with like 500% butter fat!!), OPRAH, ISAAC. But it took forever to figure out what in the world a -oTLEROLE was until I swapped the O for an I and changed fILER (I read that clue as working on hands and feet) to TILER. BOOTJACK was easy for this former dressage rider, and I've dragged that JACK out of the trunk too many times to count; hauling a flimsy camper through the Navajo Nation can have dire consequences for the many tires involved. Sometimes I needed the CARJACK, sometimes the camperJACK, but I'm pretty sure Jack and I knew each other well enough by that time that we could dispense with any formality.

Just got my ticket for the Women's March on Washington. I'm pretty excited. This old broad has one more protest in her creaky bones.

Andrew Heinegg 7:25 PM  

Please know that you represent the majority of the American people in your protest. You go get 'em. There has to be some way to let the Donald know that we are not happy about having a 4th grader in maturity for President.

jill brody 8:04 PM  

Guess you never changed a tire if you don't know what a car jack is. Guess I must be one of the oldest people doing these puzzles, because I knew all these references except Abel, which I could piece in from the other answers. But nickname for Tony? That is the nickname for Anthony.

Anonymous 8:08 PM  

Women's March on Washington LOL good luck with that

CLB 8:31 PM  

Way late I know, but I came here to bitch and moan. That's what this page is for, right? :-) I had an error because I had LES MIS/BIS. I knew BIS was terrible when I wrote it in, but BIZ is terrible too, and LES MIS is more common than LES MIZ (verified by Google), so I went with it. So now I'm bitter!

Second bitch: I had ON ICE but grudgingly "fixed" it when I saw TITLEROLE. I call BS. I google'd it and all I came up with was a Japanese skating rink where they literally froze fish in the ice. (on purpose, in case you were wondering)

Nancy 8:54 PM  

@Malsdemare -- I think you're going to be a real hero to a lot of people here. (Creaky bones, notwithstanding). You go, girl!!!!!!

Malsdemare 8:54 PM  

@Andrew Heinegg, Thanks, I will do that. Anonymous 8:08 Pfffttt!!!!

evil doug 9:14 PM  

I think you should buy guns and form a militia.

Malsdemare 9:20 PM  

@evil Now that'd make ya'll sit up and take notice! 200,000 armed women. I like it! 'Course some of us could have blood coming out of our whatevers, and you know what happens then!!!

Anonymous 9:38 PM  

@maldenare in all seriousness, you seem like a nice lady, but what do you hope to accomplish ? Trump won, the popular vote is irrelevant. Had he cared about that he would've campaigned in Califirnia and won the popular vote. Give it up you lost. As President Obama said, "you lost deal with it.." Trump will be president in 14 days. You have every right to protest but you are preaching to the choir. It might make you feel better about yourself but you are ultimately hurting your cause,

Ryan McCarty 9:47 PM  

Had my fastest Thursday with this one - very easy. The "Abel" clue was giveaway for someone familiar with the artist

Mohair Sam 9:50 PM  

@Malsdemare - Now don't go all Megan Kelly on us. Seriously, noted you spent some time on the Navajo Nation (I assume in Arizona) - I spent some time in the '90s north of there doing business with the White Mountain Apache. It was the first place I saw the bumper sticker: "Sure you can trust the government, ask any Indian".

@Z - yes, the bumper stickers said "Indian" - I always use the term "Native" with my Native American friends.

D 10:08 PM  

jeez, i finished in about 8 mins, demolishing my PR for a thursday. i guess this is my wheelhouse

Anonymous 10:12 PM  

I just looked up Women's March on Washington. Turns out they're sponsored by Planned Parenthood, the taxpayer funded organization that sells baby parts.

Anonymous 10:24 PM  

I agree that the construction and location of the JACKs is just fine. The two on the ends are in symmetric positions as well as the top and bottom shared JACKs. The last ones are right across the middle row and symmetrically placed. That does not look like random JACKs to me.

Since it is in the trunk (as clued) the jack is a car jack, and car is not a needed qualifier. If one is searching for a jack without a priori knowledge then the qualifier is necessary since there are several types of jacks to lift things. I guess OFL's beef is that car is not needed since the clue specifies the trunk, even though a car jack is legitimately a thing.

Malsdemare 10:44 PM  

@Anonymous 9:38 I'd do this privately, but you are, well, anonymous, so here goes. I've been reading lately a) a Cicero trilogy about the fall of the Roman Republic and b) a book about Hungary, Jews, and 1930s. In both instances, the prognosis for nations in which large numbers of people sit by while their government does things with which they don't agree is poor. I know we lost and ordinarily I'd lick my wounds and wait 4-8 years. I'm pretty old; my choices have lost before and I've not taken to the streets. And more than that, I'm well off; the incoming government, short of starting a war or triggering a depression, won't affect me. But I believe that we've crossed a serious line from not getting what we want to getting something truly bad for the country. So I'm going to march with my daughters and my seventy-six year old sister as evidence that a whole lot of us won't sit idly by while 20 million people lose their health insurance, the elderly get vouchers instead of medicare, public education gets gutted, the cabinet gets filled by high flying financiers, and racism becomes the norm. And don't even get me started on LGBT rights, a woman's right to choose, rising seas, shrinking diversity, the huge gap between rich and poor . . . We have serious problems and they won't get solved with a tweet, or by people with 90% of their focus on their portfolios.

The military parades for a reason: to show their might, to remind people of their presence. Native Americans are STILL camped at Standing Rock for the same reason (and we can say the same about the white nationalists who show up with weapons at various inappropriate places). I'm exercising my right to protest in the hope that when I make my phone calls to my Republican congressman and Democratic Senators they recognize there are lot more of me out there and they better pay attention. Even without guns:)

I'm marching for my grandkids, my planet, the future. So what are YOU doing on Jan 21st?

@Mohair Sam.- Indians can call themselves Indians, women can call each other bitches. But woe to the outsider who does the same. Within the group it's solidarity; outside it, it's a slur. My time was in New Mexico, teaching at Navajo College in Crownpoint. One of the best experiences of my life.

Anonymous 10:55 PM  

So you're tiilting at windmills and will accomplish nothing other than to feed.your ego and ultimately hurt your owm cause. You probably voted for Jill Stein. I reluctantly voted for Hillary, but then, I live in the real world.

Lucky Pierre 10:56 PM  

Easier than most Thursdays for me. I had 'Putin' for 3 down before I figured any of the crosses—guess it's time for a news blackout. 'Carjack', I believe, is a verb. You wouldn't say "carengine or cardashboard", it's just ‘jack’, so this is reasonably high on the lame-o-meter for me. That said, most jacks in the 50s & 60s were described with the frontend adjective ‘bumper’, as in bumper jack, which was a notoriously unsafe method for raising a car to change a flat. Same lame-o-meter measurement for the nickname for Tony. As others pointed out, Tony is the nickname for Anthony. Maybe Tino is a nick-nickname? A three letter nickname of Tony I’d buy off on could be ‘Tee’ as Tony Soprano was called but that wouldn’t fit.

Apolo Cuer McDonalds 11:54 PM  

My cat BLACKJACK gives this two unopposable thumbs up!
Plus Jack Black loves Scrabble and has been publicly vocal about it.

Loved that middle Before/after BLACK. That would be a cool theme for a puzzle filled with words and you only give the preceding and following words as the clue. Partner?

Malapop is back! I wanted YIELD for 51D "Stop at" (ENDON) and then it appears next door in some economic clue!!!

WEIRD SYNCHRONCITY: ONE OF THE FOUR ACCUSED CHICAGO KIDNAPPERS IS NAMED TESFAYE!!!!!
(The Weeknd's last name) When I saw it on the news I thought, where have I just seen that name????

Andrew Heinegg 1:20 AM  

Ms. Maldemare, you are on a roll! In my opinion, if you do not see the danger of a Trump administration, you are hiding your head in the sand. I have nine brothers and sisters and too many nieces, nephews and grandwhatevers to count. Virtually every one in the group that can get there will be there. Silence in the face of oppressive actions and planned oppressive actions is not a plan of action. It is a plan for submission. Go get em!

Hartley70 2:11 AM  

@Malsdemare, xoxo

CRG 2:49 AM  

@Malsdemare, thank you and your bones! I will be marching in Sacramento, with my daughters, in sisterhood.

evil doug 11:03 AM  

Hilarious, ACME!!!!

kitshef 9:20 AM  

Came here for the party, but possibly got my days mixed up? Anyway, congratulations Burma Shave on your odic achievement!

Burma Shave 12:02 PM  

I was celebrating, drinking ALE and smoking POT until 3:00 a.m. which has probably SHOWNUP in this verse:

YAK NITE

SOYA think YOUDONTKNOW JACK BLACK?
NIA FEARS that CRUEL FIEND, so don’t scoff,
OR,MAN, he’ll ACTUP and attack with a BLACKJACK,
then in a RITZy MIATA he’ll CARJACK FIREOFF.

--- EDY “WILEE” TILER-OSLER

spacecraft 12:13 PM  

I agree in principle with most of what OFL said. I'm a bit more forgiving as to the theme; that part of it is pretty well done. But that fill! PPP-infested, plus all the examples he mentioned. Yet the absolute worst he does not: BYS. It's horrible--but the clue for it is just plain wrong. "Ending [SINGULAR!] with fly and drive." I squinted at that small clue print and tried to find that "s" but it was simply not there. That, my friends, will draw a penalty.

There is a good DOD: actress Karen BLACK, and she takes the center spotlight. Not much else to say; the theme saves a bogey.

P.S. I've been remiss in congratulating @BS for his unflagging one-track poetry. I'll have what he's having. Keep it, uh, up, dude!

Diana,LIW 12:29 PM  

@kitshef - welcome to the party - it is today! (It can be confusing, this time travel stuff.)

@BS -
OFALLTRADES FETED
To FIEND or JACK
You're no EMPTYSUIT
In the BLACK with SACHS

@B.Shave - congrats and hats off - I raise my glass

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

A slow go until tripping over the theme. Some unknowns in the puzzle, but they were manageable with patience (luck?)

Very satisfying to complete.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

Confused by 8D Ta, answer linen???

rondo 1:41 PM  

I guess I DONTKNOW JACK about about pulling a Uey, or UIE, or however else one wants to spell it. Please make them disappear.

And that’s an odd clue for TAR!?! Oy VEY! PINE TAR for a bat I woulda understood.

I’ve SEEN The Weeknd on SNL and other shows. Have heard him on 89.3 The Current (stream it if you can). Don’t care for him. At all. And wasn’t ABEL to name him without crosses.

Can’t say I’m down with all that Suze ORMAN YAKs about. NIA Vardalos will do fine as a yeah baby today.

The puz was OK, but this party needs more ALE.

rain forest 2:01 PM  

Gotta run. Puzzle was pretty good.

@Burma Shave I jumped the gun and posted a tribute yesterday.
Congrats on 2 years of uninterrupted poesy.

Teedmn 2:17 PM  

@Burma Shave, here's to two years of entertaining crossword riffing. Thanks for the efforts!

leftcoastTAM 3:12 PM  

Fun, clever, tricky, but not too tough. Thanks, Mr. Sessa

Favorite answer was YOU DON'T KNOW JACK. (NYT rules say you can't add its off-color suffix, except at home.)

Got the trick at JACK OF ALL TRADES. JACK O'LANTERN and its counterpart MONTEREY JACK were not as visible, but nice that the themers were symmetrically located.

Among the fill, INKER is an odd one, FIEND seems a little overboard for "Enthusiast", and ABEL is a new one (to me).

Thanks, again, JS, and WS, too.


leftcoastTAM 3:17 PM  

Oh, and of course, many thanks to Burma Shave, too, our poet laureate of the bawd.

BS2 5:18 PM  

Thanks to all who stopped by (or will stop by) today and to @rainy for the opus tribute yesterday. I am the one who is humbled.

Wooody2004 6:43 PM  

@Burma Shave So Ya been at it for two years! Thank you and congrats. You're ACUT above the rest.

You deserve a TITLE ROLE on a crossword puzzle game where the players have to solve a crossword puzzle and then have to compose a poem from the answers.

I like how the JACK square of "Jack of all trades" boggles down to "off". That's CODE for something. Sorry to ENDON an off note.

Tita A 7:54 PM  

Thanks, @Burma! What a feat.

Cathy 8:34 PM  

Hey @Burma Shave and syndi gang!
I brought Skye vodka and red licorice for the party!

It's been a very difficult year. My Mom, aka crossword genius/best friend just passed away. Alzheimer's sucks. I'd read her your comments. She liked Ron dough. (Does he knead it?) ha ha. Yeah, the guy who opened up for Johnny Cash! Diana lady in waiting was princess Di. Space craft was UFO. Burma shave was the how does he do that every day guy:)

@Burma- I remember you saying a while back how you kept this up maybe to keep dementia in tact due to your Mom. I've kept that in me. Thank you for your fun compositions:)

Where's Ron Diego?

Diana,LIW 9:38 PM  

Posting late, but maybe not last.

THanks @woody, @Tita, and @cathy- wow! Thanks for sharing your year.

I love our little Syndie network, and our "ritual" of Burma's poems.

Lady Di (D, LIW)

Diana, Lady........

BS3 10:16 PM  

@Cathy - Wow. People pay attention. More than one could know.
I, too, miss Ron Diego. I'm afraid, but don't know, that he has passed. I miss the posts from La Mesa, where life was apparently pretty good.

Again, I thank you all. I am only a small part of this group, but today shows a hint of how rich it is.

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