Japanese chess / THU 6-22-17 / Balaam's talking beast / Katniss's partner in Hunger Games / Prison guarded by Dementors /

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Constructor: Ruth B. Margolin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: EYESEEEYE — phrases following pattern "___ [body part] to [body part]" are represented in the grid with the "___" part literally between the [body part]s:

Theme answers:
  • HANDPASSHAND (pass from hand to hand) (20A: Transfer, as in a bucket brigade)
  • EARSMILEEAR (smile from ear to ear) (33A: Grin broadly) (I think "grin from ear to ear" is the more common phrase, but this is acceptable)
  • TOESTANDTOE (stand toe to toe) (40A: Confront one another head-on)
  •  FACEMEETFACE (meet face to face) (50A: Rendezvous)
Word of the Day: TIDAL bore (41D: Like some colossal bores)
noun: tidal bore; plural noun: tidal bores
  1. a large wave caused by the funneling of a flood tide as it enters a long, narrow, shallow inlet. (google)
• • •

Jet. Lag. Jetlag. Why didn't I get someone to cover today? Dunno. But here I am after west-to-east travel that got me home around 1 a.m. this morning and now it's some other a.m.  this morning and I'm solving and writing. It's fun. So I'd like to thank Ms. Margolin for lobbing a softball this morning—one that took me something like the usual amount of time, but that I knew was easier than usual. The basic concept is simple but effective, and was very easy to pick up. And then once you pick it up, it had the same advantage palindromic themes have, in that if I got one end, I could fill in the other immediately. Again, my tired brain and body thank you, Ms. Margolin. The puzzle was probably more interesting in the fill than in the theme, where OUTDOORSY and AZKABAN were both genuine pleasures, the clue on SIGH gave my weary brain a slap in the face (1D: Heaved "ho"?), and AAAMAP (25D: TripTike, e.g.) provided sufficient visual weirdness.

This puzzle would've been "Easy" even for sluggish me if I'd ever (ever) head of a TIDAL bore (41D: Like some colossal bores). Add to my never-heard-of-it the fact that it had a ruthlessly tricky clue, and then add in the fact that I got NICEAN instantly (and spelled it thusly) (29D: Christians' ___ Creed) and that little inch-wide section in the SW explains almost all my "difficulty" today. Proud to have remembered EILAT even if I had to leave the last vowel blank because of non-remembering. Had ILLS for AILS but there's no shame there (53D: Troubles). [Book of the Bible after Amos] is a pretty hilarious clue for me, in that it supposes that I have any idea where Amos is (OBADIAH). There are three "IN"s in this grid, but that doesn't really bug me. Today, I'm just happy to be here, at my good old desk with my good old writing set-up, even if I do have a good old travel headache. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. CHEEKDANCECHEEK would've made a Very cool 15.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 8:03 AM  

This puzzle reminds me of my cat, who loves to hide, and often, especially when she needs to go to the vet, makes me ROOMSEARCHROOM.

kitshef 8:04 AM  

Cool trick, new to me.

An unusual day when the pop culture clues were my friends: AZKABAN, PEETA, IRINA, SELES, ELSA, OWEN, EVEL all went in with barely a thought.

From its beginning in 1930 until 1995 no Russian woman had won the European Figure Skating Championships. IRINA Slutskaya won in 1996, and now Russia has won 14 out of the last 22 – seven of those by IRINA.

chefbea 8:07 AM  

Too tough for me!!! did get face meet face but took awhile to get the others.

Went to Ashville a few weeks ago so that was easy...Beautiful place!!!

QuasiMojo 8:14 AM  

I wanted my Rex fix early this morning and didn't see it. SIGH. Kept coming back every few minutes to find it. I'm surprised by the docile tone. I enjoyed today's challenge although I found it too easy. Never heard of that prison but it filled in nicely. I thought the "heaved ho" clue was hilarious. And I wanted the bore to be a drill, but got the tidal bit from the recesses of my brain. I wonder if the clue was aimed at some of us commenting on this blog, myself included. Lol. Sigh...

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

Alas, if only "We Hate Trump" were a winning campaign strategy . . .

Nate 8:19 AM  

Crossing a French actress who does mostly arty films with an obscure book of the Bible is seriously cruel, even for a Thursday. That's Saturday hard.

DNF because of the SW corner, which just didn't make any sense to me. C'EST LA VIE didn't click, but that's my fault. Without the cross, I was pretty lost. I got TSAR, but CAT (oof, not exactly the most current synonym for "Hipster"), ELS (I don't understand this), ALEE, and SEA eluded me. I don't really blame the constructor, the whiff on the cross was all my fault.

Tom4 8:21 AM  

Nice, fun. Not too ELITIST.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

It's really hilarious that Rex doesn't know where Amos is in the Bible. I don't either but for some reason I don't find that hilarious. Then again, I'm not as woke as Rex. Easy Thursday.

Matt Mullins 8:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 8:31 AM  

If I were heaving a 'ho', it would most likely be a slur in the direction of an unchaste female, but that's just me.

Since hip hop became a thing, I can't imagine too many people sigh 'ho.' Unless they're alone, of course.

Glimmerglass 8:33 AM  

I get grumpy(er) when I'm tired. I'm pleased to note that @Rex gets milder -- at least if he finds the puzzle easy. Nice Thursdayesque gimmick. I liked Rex's comparison to palindromes. HIGH Ho is not exactly a sigh, but I'll let that go if Rex will. I don't remember reading OBADIAH, but I just looked it up (it's very short). It's sort of an Old Testament version of "May the bird of paradise fly up your nose."

Forsythia 8:33 AM  

Fastest Thursday time! But communal effort here at the beach for a family reunion meant lots of answers from others. Lots of OUTDOORSY activities, but glad we are in NC and not Gulf Coast as they face Cindy storm. The palindromic answers made it easy. Fun way to start the day.

kitshef 8:36 AM  

@Nate - Elevated trains or ELS serve The Loop in downtown Chicago

Mike in Mountain View 8:39 AM  

DNF because I thought it was a dIEIN. The citizen-editors of Wikipedia generally think it usually was so, too, apparently: "A die-in, sometimes known as a lie-in . . . ."

So, not knowing EILAT from EIdAT, I went splat.

Otherwise, a fun puzzle.

Two Ponies 8:56 AM  

Where's Rex and what have you done with him?

This was a total Tidal Bore filled with a plethora of obscure proper names all for the sake of a gimmick. That's the Thursday trick I've waited all week for?
Only two clues even came close to amusing me. Frog in the throat and hazing. Other than that not much to see here.

There, someone had to do it.

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

I liked this puzzle, though the two skinny bits in the NE and SW were a trial, and probably took me longer than anything else. I enjoy visual wordplay, and I thought this was well-executed and fun.

I did want DIEIN for LIEIN for a while, but then remembered I was dealing with the NYT.

I grew up in a church where I had to memorize the order of the Bible books, and competed in Scripture challenges for certificates. I often work with the Bible in my medieval scholarship. I go to church weekly. Even I don't know where freaking Amos and OBADIAH are. It is a hilariously unhelpful clue.

BarbieBarbie 9:05 AM  

Liked this. Super easy except the SW which I had to leave until this morning. And now I want to complain about the Mini. SNUCK? Really?

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

All the Amos clue needs to do is signal Old Testament. I'll posit that there are no obscure books of the Bible.

Hartley70 9:19 AM  

That little SW corner was biting me until I gave it a swat with TSAR. That cluing was tough and I had almost given up when I saw the answers. It was a sweet gift at the end.

I would say the rest of the puzzle was easy-medium. Easy for the theme once you saw the first one, and medium for the fill.

Ah, GANDHI!! You got me last night in Jeopardy but not today. It was hard for me to imagine a sporty GANDHI. TIDAL made no sense but I went along with it. A dIE-IN is a dreadful thought @Mike in Mountain View, reminding me of Jim Jones, and I was happy to remember LIE-IN after "sit" didn't fit.

I imagine there are a lot of individuals @Rex's age and younger who can't spell NICENE. That goes for OBADIAH too. Religious education isn't what it used to be. Considering the sad state of the world, perhaps that's the right direction for everyone.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Harry Potter clues. Why?

Mohair Sam 9:23 AM  

If we timed puzzles this one would have gone by fast for us. But it seemed tough with its Japanese, French, Scottish, and Spanish (not to mention Chicagoese) - mixed in with an old testament book. Liked it for the same reasons @Rex did. Besides, I like any movie with Juliette BINOCHE, why wouldn't I feel the same about a crossword puzzle?

Lost some time at the TOE to TOE clue trying to think of a synonym for "go" to fit in there. Knew a kid outta The Bronx in the service who wanted to "Go TOE to TOE" with anyone who even slightly annoyed him. I enjoyed needling him just for the "you and me gonna go TOE to TOE" reaction. It never happened of course. All my life I've used the line with Lady M and our kids whenever they get angry with me - I strike a boxing and pose and ask if they want to "Go TOE to TOE" - almost always breaks the mood. I owe Richie from The Bronx a big thanks.

Fun Thursday Ruth Margolin - thanks.

Stanley Hudson 9:24 AM  

Enjoyed this one a lot. One of Jeff Bridges' coolest roles was as OBADIAH Stane in the first Iron Man movie. The book of OBADIAH is followed by Jonah, which tells one of the great stories of ancient lit.

jberg 9:39 AM  

As some anonymouse said, you don't really need to know the order of the OT books, any more than you need to know the cast of "Chocolat." The clue just puts you in theballpark, and once you have the O, what else is there?

I really enjoyed this one, even if it did call Shamu a "menace." But as Gandalf says to Gimli (not verbatim), 'Of course he's dangerous! So are you!'

Sir Hillary 9:48 AM  

Not being jet-lagged, I found this too easy for a Thursday, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Some really fun/interesting longish entries -- OUTDOORSY, OBADIAH, TANKING, CESTLAVIE, AZKABAN, GOODIDEA, ADFREE.

Plenty of boring short entries, but at least their cluing is relatively fresh -- I enjoyed the clues for ELS, ERR, ASS, ORCA, EASY, RUNG, ASHE, GEAR, READ, NAE and especially AROSE.

AZKABAN and PEETA? Two huge book/film franchises TOESTANDTOE right in this puzzle.


mathgent 9:51 AM  

I thought it was an absolute gem. I found that Ms. Margolin's personality came through the puzzle and she seems to be a delightful person.

I've been a rabid tennis fan for a long time but it never struck me that SELES was a palindrome.

I'm trying to understand why "Heaved 'ho' ?" Is SIGH.

Nineteen red plusses in the margins, a new Thursday record. Six were things that I didn't know, including that honeydew means something besides a melon.

On Jeff Chen's blog, Ms. Margolin explains how the editors helped her understand that certain grid configurations breed Terrible Threes. She avoided them and there are only eight today.

I liked the theme but I found it a bit too obvious. I was amused to see that Chen nit-picked the theme and Rex didn't.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  


Rex has no time for religion. You can be he calls himself spiritual not religious.
What a crock.....

Norm 9:58 AM  

Agree with @Two Ponies. The "construction" of the theme answers did not sing to me.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

I failed to understand Heaved Ho for Sigh. Does anyone mind spelling that out for me? Thanks.

Nancy 10:15 AM  

If you saw me this morning, you'd see a EARSMILEEAR. Wonderfully tricky cluing for many answers. A few that delighted me: HAZES; GEAR (took me while to have the Aha Moment with this one, since I don't drive); THROAT; ST NICK. And the theme was perfect: It made the puzzle harder until you saw the gimmick and then it made the puzzle easier. One complaint, though -- when I SIGH, I'm quite sure I've never heaved a "ho". I might heave a "darn" or a "rats" or something much saltier, but hardly a "ho". I don't get this clue at all. And AZKABAN would have been a terrible woe, except that it came in readily from the crosses. The "Chocolat" clue was a gimme for me, and some people who know me off-blog will know why. And OUTDOORSY went right in, too. I'm the most OUTDOORSY person I know...for someone who refuses to schlep any GEAR, even water; climb anything that doesn't have a CUESTA (If I don't know it's there, it doesn't exist); or sleep in any "bed" that turns over every time I do. That's my OUTDOORSY Manifesto. But anyway, I loved this puzzle, which I found lively and entertaining.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

Wouldn't "Heaved ho?" be SIGHED? Thrown off by past tense....

Z 10:21 AM  

Things to do in ASHEville: Do a walking craft beer tour on the south slope with @Z; have lunch at Nine Mile with @Lewis; spend a day in the River Arts District, having a beer at the Wedge and lunch at White Duck Taco; Hike up Greybeard in Montreat early then get a burger at Mac's in Black Mountain; Raft down the French Broad River; Check out Biltmore Village (and the four craft brewers) before touring the Biltmore; Find a taproom with live bluegrass and relax for an evening; take a leisurely drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway or a not so leisurely bike ride; Take in a Tourists game or ACSC match; Enjoy the buskers playing downtown; Keep it weird.

Fun puzzle. I like the non-Arthur, non stadium ASHE clue.

I do wish Rex would bother to delete the Chechen bots. They are a boil on the ASS of the commentariat.

Z 10:23 AM  

@Anon10:19 - "Heaved" is an adjective here, not a verb even though it looks like a verb. Fooled me, too, but then it clicked.

RooMonster 10:30 AM  

Hey All !
Did what @Mike in Mountain View 8:38 did. Exactly the same. My one letter DNF. SIGH. CEST LA VIE.

Did like concept of puz. Also liked wide open grid, with only 34 blocks, and 8 threes (hi @mathgent.) Light on the dreck, too.

Sure there are other body parts with "to". Rex's CHEEKDANCECHEEK and EYESEEEYE. How about NOSEGOESNOSE, BACKSTANDBACK? Others?

ASS... IN SPACE! Better get a AAA MAP! :-)

Joseph Michael 10:31 AM  

This puzzle was a GOOD IDEA.

Easy in some places, such as the four themers, and difficult in others, such SHOGI, AZKABAN, OBADIAH, and PEETA.

Like Rex, I had Nicean before NICENE and ills before AILS and only knew EILAT because I've been there.

Liked the Chicago mini theme with CHI-town and the ELS. Also liked C'EST LA VIE, which seems to be a motto for our times, OUTDOORSY, and LIE INS.

NICE tricky clues for AD FREE, HAZES, SIGH, and THROAT.

Need to google the link between APHID and honeydew, which is currently a mystery to me, but an intriguing one.

In the meantime I'm trying not to see STNICK as one word.

Rob 10:32 AM  

Good puzzle. I'm a little skeptical of AAA MAP -- I knew it immediately, but I don't think of it as common parlance. Does AAA even do TripTiks anymore in the Waze Era? I only really remember them from the pre-Google Maps years. MapQuest was a contemporary, I think. Kind of an ugly answer and clue regardless. I suppose there are other AAA maps so it's not inaccurate.

Anyway, a minor quibble. Nice puzzle.

Nancy 10:39 AM  

@Hartley (9:19) -- GANDHI got me last night on Jeopardy, too. I guessed Mandela and then was so embarrassed. My dates were off, of course. I also loved your dIEIN -- in a macabre sort of way.

Like @mathgent, I'm a rabid tennis fan, and therefore SELES was also a gimme for me. Unlike @mathgent, I knew she was a palindrome, though admittedly I didn't spend much time thinking about it while watching her play. She was one of the most fearless players I ever saw -- most likely to go for broke when she was down, on the points that really mattered. What happened to her was heartbreaking. It changed the history of women's tennis. She was Steffi's main rival of the era, and I very much doubt that Steffi would have had 18 Grand Slam titles had Monica still been in the game and at her best.

Trombone Tom 10:50 AM  

Nice little trick for the themers. I admit to being thrown for a while because two of them were in the form of from ___ to ___ and the other two were just ___ to ___. Minor nit.

Really on the easy side. Helped that my kids were in Israel a couple of years ago and I remembered EILAT. Not a Potter fan so AZKABAN was a WOE but the crosses were fair. Really liked the TIDAL bore clue.

It has been a while since I have heard of a TripTik but AAA used to make them up for us on some long road trips. And that ALEE/SEA cross was clever and a bit tricky.

Kathyce 10:56 AM  

But the typical Scottish vote was "aye" as opposed to the overall British vote. That tripped me up

old timer 11:03 AM  

I've been heaving many a SIGH lately when my body acts up, and to tell you the truth, HO is a good description of the sound I make. Feeling a bit better now. Did not know that Japanese word at the top, so a DNF because IOWAN did not leap to mind as it should have. Almost a DNF at the bottom, too, as I spelled Mr. K's name as "Eval". With EVEL, my poor brain could finally take a REST.

I was just astonished that any of the Jeopardy players did not immediately get GANDHI last night. Everybody knows he got his start in South Africa plus the name of that team was uniquely GANDHIan. Still, my wife did not get it either. C'EST LA VIE, as the old folks said in that Chuck Berry song from long ago.

jb129 11:09 AM  

I started out thinking "this is gonna be fun" & was disappointed

jae 11:15 AM  

Medium for me. This one didn't really resonate with me and apparently Jeff at Xwordinfo had a similar reaction.

HAst before HATH.

The OBADIAH, AAAMAP, EILAT area was a tad tough.

Not sure how REST is a symbol?

GILL I. 11:16 AM  

Loved this new (to me) theme. Didn't like the heavy proper names other than BINOCHE. Love her, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp (to name a few of the incredible cast in Chocolat). One of my all-time favorite movies (Hi @Nancy...wink wink). Watch it. It'll make you smile.
Had Ezekiel before OBADIAH. Juliette saved my bacon. Had High Hat for the snob but SELES also saved my bacon.
Those who initiate badly ended up as someone who HATES. Since I didn't know AZKABAN, AtKABAN sounds just fine.
I think what I liked the most was the cluing. Pre-Red head had me looking at every kind of dye out there. Oh, TSAR... And Doctor of letters = SEUSS was just plain fun...so was the ASS clue and the one for GEAR.
@Z...If I did your tour of all the beer and food, I would need an AAA MAP guide to all the bathrooms in ASHEville.

Lewis 11:32 AM  

1. Loved the clues on ROY, NAE, THROAT, REST, and the answer OUTDOORSY.
2. There is a GEAR up.
3. Mini theme of double E's (6)
4. Mini theme of answers ending in A (7)
5. Very nice to have my hometown in the puzzle, and thanks for the shout out, @Z!

BigMistake 11:35 AM  

Love the AAA Map / triptik, particularly on the first days of summer. I remember as a kid mapping out road trip maps with my dad for the summer, finding motels on their guide (needed a pool) and then getting the triptik. We would use different color highlighters and map out different routes. I remember when I paid $500 for my car and getting my AAA card and getting 5-6 maps from AAA to put in my glovebox...

My kids will never have that experience as we use google maps, kayak, and booking.com these days for trips (oh and we tend to fly for vacation...)

Fun puzzle. Made me smile - which should be the way to judge a puzzle!

kitshef 11:46 AM  

@Kathyce - the actual choices on the ballot were Remain a Member of the European Union and Leave the European Union - no ayes or naes anywhere. But popularly, the outcome is described as a vote to leave the EU, which most of Scotland opposed, so they would be seen as 'naes'.

FPBear 11:54 AM  

@JAE, rest is a symbol in sheet music.

Mimi 12:07 PM  

al-Nuri Mosque demolished.
I fear for Notre Dame, St. Peter's, the Louvre.

Andrew Heinegg 12:28 PM  

Lewis, if you know of any person owned by their cat that doesn't have to search for the cat when it is time to go to the vet, please give me contact information for that person. Cats are incredibly sensitive, perceptive and intelligent and seem to be cognisant of everything going on. Ours give us a lecture if we even move the furniture around. They want things to remain the same, always.

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

Stocks up on news of Senate repeal of Obamacare. Winning never gets old.

Malsdemare 12:44 PM  

I wrestled with this, groaned, agonized, and then? It fell. And such fun. I saw the Dementers' clue and heaved a "ho," no way was I going to remember that and then. I did. Saw the pre-red clue, heaved another "ho," no way, etc., and then I did! So this was fun. I caught the trick early and filled the themes, caught Monica off the SE (Yay, Mel!), knew CHI and and ELS, and then everything else just slowly filled itself. I really wanted TrEyS for THREES, and hand up here for NICEan.

@Z We leave tomorrow for a week at the Greenbriar and here I am wishing we were going to ASHEville. I've been a couple of times, but just long enough to do the Biltmore. With your excellent advice, I want to go back.

Nice job, Ms. Margolin.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Your insights on politics are pure genius. Plus, they are so appropriate for a crossword blog. Thanks ever so much for your contributions.

Masked and Anonymous 12:48 PM  

yo, @RP -- Hopin U can get some more shut-eye real soon, dude. Mighty Sharp of U to come up with that CHEEKDANCEHEEK in yer condition, tho. Congratz, RPbrain.

Pretty friendly ThursPuz theme, with some feisty cluin thrown in. Fillins also got scrappy at times, when they resorted to odd unknown names (yo, AZKABAN, PEETA, BINOCHE) and French (yo, CESTLAVIE, AIME, BINOCHE). Overall effect was about an average solvequest, at my house. Fun theme -- and fun one to come up with other examples for. SIDEFROMSIDE? TIMEFROMTIME? Prolific themer source, but Weak … must do better … gotta think ...

Weeject stacks in SW/NE. Good. fave weeject pair = CHI & ELS. On another note, agree that OUTDOORSY is quite cool.

Thanx, Ms. Margolin darlin. DOORGODOOR? [Probably not so good, becuz of OUTDOORSY] DAYLIVEDAY? COASTTRAVELCOAST (Hey! @RP!)

Masked & AnonymoUUs


Anonymous 1:00 PM  

It's hard to "resist" taking a look at the robust gains in one's 401K each morning before doing the NYT crossword, edited by the legendary Will Shortz.

Craig Percy 1:01 PM  


Masked and Anonymous 1:06 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Meant to spell it as CHEEKDANCECHEEK in first msg, of course duh.

What about a themer var? I'm thinkin: HANDCOMBATHAND = hand to hand combat. A whole different universe? Yeah... Thought so.



Unofficial Blog Cop 1:15 PM  

I heaved a big ho when NANCY didn't fit in the spaces for Balaam"s talking beast clue.

Teedmn 1:16 PM  

This puzzle put up a fight for me - the theme was slow to appear and the cluing was tricky.

It didn't help that for a few moments I was mixing up my Robinson families and thinking of the Swiss Family Robinson who were eNisled (no I didn't enter that but it crossed my brain). I misspelled AsKABAN and I "sat up" before I AROSE at 6D which was making 22A looking very HAZy, more like HAspS. Initiates? Hmmm.

After getting HANDPASSHAND, I attributed more depth to the theme than was actually there. I assumed it was supposed to represent PASS HAND over HAND and was looking for something under the theme that would indicate that - just what I was looking for, I have no GOOD IDEA. But EAR SMILE EAR cleared that up.

Last summer in NYC, I was discussing "Chocolat" with @Nancy and I was certain that the lead role was played by Lena Olin, but @Nancy kindly gave me the correct Juliette BINOCHE. Unfortunately, I still haven't replaced Olin in my memory bank but since it didn't fit...

Very nice, Ruth Margolin!

Lloyd Crump 1:20 PM  

@Anonymous trumpista, please keep posting. I enjoy watching in action a bottom-feeder POS whose life is so empty that he has nothing better to do than post junior-high level political commentary on a crossword blog. Somehow, it makes me feel better about my own life. So do keep it up for the amusement of the grownups.

Oh by the way, what's it like operating a computer while sitting in a high chair sipping on your afternoon milk?

Robert A. Simon 1:21 PM  

Boy! The one puzzle I finish early enough to be a commenter before, like, a day later, and Rex is up in the air, and yes, that's a softball, too. Nice to have pop culture clues that postdate P.G. Wodehouse and "The Thin Man." Thursdays are consistently my favorite by a mile, especially after Sunday's batting average has fallen below the Mendoza line. And come to think of it, "Rick ___" is a great clue for a Monday, if only for baseball fans who know Rick Monday was supposed to be the next Mickey Mantle when he came up out of, i think, Arizona or Arizona St.

Anoa Bob 1:38 PM  

Knew SHOGI out of the gate so I figured I would DOOK for the rest of the puzzle. I did manage to get it filled in, but without really understanding how the theme works. I read OFL's explanation, several times. No help. Went to Amy's Crosswordfiend site and read Andy's explanation. No help. Ditto with Jeff Chen's write-up at xwordinfo.

Yeah, I saw the SMILE between the EARs, a body part between two other body parts---thought that was cute---but how or why does the "to" part of the in-the-language phrase SMILE EAR to EAR disappear and get replaced with SMILE? It was even more of a conundrum because the other themers had a non-body part between two body parts.

I ideated that it must have been a GOOD IDEA, since it was apparently EASY for so many of you smart cookies out there to understand. Not TESTY about it, just feeling a little lost IN SPACE, themewise, on this one. Guess I'll chalk this on up as A MISS. SIGH.

Sir Hillary 1:47 PM  

@Robert A. Simon - LOL, Rick Monday. Famous for three things (to me at least):

(1) As you note, the hype when he came out of college (it was ASU, and Reggie Jackson was a teammate). Monday was the #1 overall draft pick in 1965.

(2) Saving an American flag from two fans who were trying to burn it in the Dodger Stadium outfield in 1976.

(3) To me as a Dodger fan, his huge 9th inning home run in the final game of the 1981 NLCS, leading the Dodgers over the Expos and into the World Series, which they won.

So random, but so fun.

Anonymous 1:50 PM  

How is aphid a honeydew producer?

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

I learned something knew about honeydew. That clue really stumped me. I remember fun times in France studying French. My elderly teacher asked me why I was constantly sighing. I think sighing actually helped me learn French!

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

@Lloyd Crump

It's fun coming here every once in a while to take the temperature of the bloggers. It's sort of like how Mexico and their media treat their football (soccer) coach. They are always looking for something to criticize. "Why did he make 8 changes after the tie with Portugal?" Answer, "Well, we won 2-1 didn't we?"

Good luck with your TDS.


Hungry Mother 2:10 PM  

I never know ONEAL from "O'neil". OBADIAH makes me think of "Children of the Corn."

Marge 2:19 PM  

What does DNF stand for?

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

DNF - Did Not Finish

Sorry, I wanted to put "Tapes" before "Squirrel".


JC66 2:25 PM  

DNF = Did Not Finish

WOE = What On Earth?

Michael Dawson 2:27 PM  

"Lie-ins" are not a thing, and certainly not a kind of 1960s protest. Those were sit-ins or die-ins. Bogus.

Crane Poole 2:51 PM  

dnf at actress/bible and EILAT/LIEINS. Potter & Hunger Games clues were so far out of my wheelhouse, I needed a life preserver. I protest LIE INS over dIE INS and I heave over that clue for SIGH. But I did like the puzzle. Really.

Joe Bleaux 2:55 PM  

In this awful clue, "Heaved" is an adjective, so present tense SIGH is correct. (Still, in my mind the clue is "Heaved 'ho' = sigh" and the answer is RIDICULOUS STRETCH.)

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

This is Rex's blog. HE brings politics to it. So totally appropriate. If this guy's opinion is too simplistic for you, it's only fair because Rex's are downright child-like in their banality.

Two Ponies 3:21 PM  

I was a bit young to participate in demonstrations back then but I remember them well. The clue reads "Some 1960s protests."
As someone recently pointed out, these are Clues and not meant to be all-inclusive definitions so even if Some were die-ins they are not the only possible answer.
I do not remember die-ins at all. Google gives protests to health care as an example. That doesn't sound very 60s to me.

Lewis 3:33 PM  

@malsdemare -- If you ever do make it to Asheville, do get in touch for tea or lunch! @Z wasn't kidding; he and I had very nice lunch a couple of weeks ago.

old timer old timer 3:49 PM  

Coming back to say this child of the 1960's well remembers LIE-INS. Kind of like the sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement, but the protesters of the 60's would lie on the floor and force the cops to carry them away, one by one. This worked to some extent where the authorities were disposed to be non-violent. Did not work, say, in Chicago under Mayor Daley. (Of course like anyone who describes himself as a child of the '60's I was actually a child of the '40's).

I had no problem at all inferring the "to" when you had ear, or toe, at each end with the verb in the middle. The first one I got was HAND [to] HAND, and everyone knows that a bucket brigade passed the bucket of water from the source of water up to the place it was needed. I guess back in the old days a fire brigade had plenty of buckets available.

Cassieopia 3:54 PM  

The cluing made this tough and fun for me; I'm getting to the point where I practice completing Th/F/S with absolutely no googling (not "GOOGLE IT", hah!) and I nearly made it on this one. To be honest, the theme did not light my fire, but there were so many unusual words in this crossword that made up for it...and I was able to draw on my church-going adolescence to come up with NICENE and OBADIAH. Nice to see that knowledge come in handy beyond winning prizes in Sunday School.

The SW corner was what killed me, "Pre-Red head" is a genius clue but I couldn't get it from the crosses with clues 58D and 60A ("See 60-Across"). Boo. (or is that SIGH).

So...I'd give it a C for what I thought was a flat Thursday theme, but an A on the cluing - devious, thoughtful, fun!

Anoa Bob 3:56 PM  

Maybe the 60's lie-ins were spin offs of the bed-ins. I believe John and Ono started that movement. Here they are.

I believe both types of protests were heavily influenced by the teachings of GANDHI (4 Down)and MLK. I wonder if anyone thought of connecting the two with a clue like "60's protests influenced by 6 Down" for LIE INS.

Thomaso808 4:38 PM  

If a lot of people showed up for the protest but there wasn't a lot of room for them, the only option was to make it a STAND-IN. And if you really wanted to support the protest but had another commitment, you could have a buddy show up for you and...

I grew up in San Francisco in the 60's. I remember sit-ins, many at SF State College, I remember love-ins, which were large groups of hippies getting together in Golden Gate Park, several times when I was at baseball practice and could hear their music and noise. I don't remember any lie-ins back then. I think die-ins and lie-ins are way post-60's. Not knowing EILAT, I held out with sItINS for a looong time.

In the NW, I incorrectly wrote Ghandi instead of GANDHI, which worked fine with dAZES instead of HAZES. SHOGI was a WOE, I never heard of OWEN Meany, and with the aforementioned trickery on SIGH, that corner was brutal.

I really liked the theme, lots of great clues, and overall a pretty good puzzle.

aging soprano 5:48 PM  

Thursdays usually play pretty hard for me but this one didn't. And generally I like the puzzles that I am able to solve, but I didn't particularly like this one. Found the theme kind of meh.
As for Amos and Ovadia, the Prophets, Juliette showed me the way to the English spelling, OBADIAH, which really conjures up images American Gothic and such. That spelling really made me chuckle.
The cluing was fun. Sometimes I would get the word first and only then figure out how it fit the clue.

Nancy 6:03 PM  

Yes, but "UBC" does fit.

@aging soprano -- It's so nice to have you back where you belong!

AW 6:04 PM  

I still don't get how 1D: Heaved "ho"? yields SIGH. What is a "ho"? I've heaved plenty of sighs in my day, but never a "ho." And I've felt "ho hum" plenty of times about plenty of things. Can somebody explain this clue, though? It's driving me nuts! Thanks.

BocaBoy 6:47 PM  

Brutal for me. Certainly not "Easy-Medium". I had trouble in every corner of this puzzle. You're a better man than I, Rex Parker. Or at least a far better crossword solver.

Cassieopia 7:20 PM  

@AW 6:04 emit a big, deep sigh and it sorta kinda maybe sounds like a soft "ho". Thus heaving a SIGH - a "ho". The word play is of course "heave ho" and I do think the clue is forced. More like "heaved whuoooph" in my book.

Anonymous 8:24 PM  

Rex COASTFLEWCOAST and still nailed it, nice. ENDFROMEND this puzzle kicked my butt.

ahimsa 8:58 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ahimsa 9:00 PM  

Just a note on some of the comments about LIE-IN (and sit-ins and die-ins). These are not old fashioned protests techniques that no one uses any more.

In fact, just this morning there was a "die-in" at Mitch McConnell's office to protest the AHCA.
Police remove protesters opposed to ObamaCare repeal from McConnell's office

Aketi 9:08 PM  

@Andrew Heinegg, we have that cat. He marches into the cat carrier on his own. Her purrs on the way to the vet. Our other cat is a normal cat and yes, we do have to do the ROOMSEARCHROOM for her. Then she yowls so loud she can be heard two blocks away. I spend more time however doing the ROOMSEARCHROOM for glasses.

Christophe 9:48 PM  

This puzzle stinks.

Carola 10:17 PM  

Getting in under the wire before the next puzzle posts. Agree on easy (once you get the conceit) and enjoyable. But like @Anoa Bob, I never quite felt I understood exactly how the theme was working. Also was left at SEA by a SIGH being a heaved "ho." Lots of pleasures in the non-theme entries; I especially liked AZKABAN mirroring BINOCHE - two different worlds for sure. It took this Badger way too long to recognize my neighboring HAWKEYE. Maybe ASHE got the -ville clue to avoid having two tennis stars in the clues?

Adam Frank 10:23 PM  

The Chicago El loops around the Chicago Loop.

Bryce 11:35 PM  

Except for EILAT, this was pretty nice. And yay for Achewood.

Masked and Anonymous 12:33 AM  

Well, I guess I really shoulda limited my extra themer ideas to body parts. Somehow, I sorta forgot about that constraint, earlier.

HEADWENTHEAD = {Battled each other}.


MOUTHGIVEMOUTH = {Attempt to resuscitate}.

HEARTTALKHEART = {Have a personal conversation}.

BACKHOMERBACK = {Go yard, one after another}.

ENDLAYEND = {Line up}. Gettin slightly desperate, here.

And so on.

M&A Try #3

Ando 9:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ando 9:38 AM  

I've never heard anyone make a sigh that sounded anything like the word "ho". That makes as much sense as 'Heaved "to"', another phrase that contains a non-sigh sound. I thought a much better answer would be "HIGH", like the result of heaving the "ho" part of "high ho". Sadly there's no Japanese word HHOGI.

Ankit Sohani 4:29 AM  

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Burma Shave 9:53 AM  


you SEA, I thought it a GOODIDEA. [SIGH].
“You’re EVEL, don’t ASKAFTER a kiss,”
ELSA said, “I’m TESTY and don’t CARE, good-bye.”


spacecraft 11:59 AM  

This was a tortuous journey for me. The grid was thick with unusual letter combinations; in one section (east central) there were sixteen vowels vs. only ten consonants. EILAT, e.g. How big does a community have to be before you can call it a "city?" I guess it can be <50,000. Never heard of it.

OBADIAH, however, I know--and for a weird reason. As a kid, when I saw that name in print, I made a joke out of it: "Is it here?" "No, it's OBADIAH." Later, watching The Beverly Hillbillies, I thought that if Jedediah Clampett had a brother, he'd probably be named OBADIAH. Names are strange.

I think I remember LIEINS. People lay down in the street to block traffic. Sort of a flash mob of the sixties. Except they didn't disperse. But the expression does give us the opportunity to get away with the IEI combination. See what I mean?

Other WOEs include AZKABAN. Most here seem to be familiar with that, but I needed every letter--in fact, for the "Initiates badly?" clue, I had to run the alphabet AFROMZ!

I am not a Hunger Games fan, so had a Natick at sq. 49--but with A_HID already in, had to go with P. After solve I looked it up because I couldn't conceive of a bug producing a fruit, but the honeydew in the clue is not the melon, as I ass-u-med. It's just the "dew."

The whole thing felt awkward; medium-challenging for me. I did enjoy the longer fill, especially OUTDOORSY, but overall there seemed to be too much PPP. DOD is the fantastic ELSA Lanchester. Not wanting to appear ELITIST, I'll give this one a par.

Diana,LIW 1:37 PM  

I declare @Rex's review a "safe for @Rainy" day. I know that feeling when you get home after a long, late trip.

Can't believe I didn't get IOWAN, as Mr. W has ties. And don't know SHOGI.

Fancy clueing today, as many have mentioned. HAZE, STNICK, GEAR, NAE, TSAR stood out for me.

Just ate my last Brie Bite from Trader J's, who tell me they won't have it in stock for another month. SIGH

I learned the books of the Bible in order via a song my mom taught me when I was 5. Still know 'em.

Thought Mr. Rogers was the other one for the longest time. Couldn't remember Fred...

Lotsa PPP, but still, almost got it all.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Bananafish 1:38 PM  

Raises hand for DIEINS. Considering how much stuff I was either completely unfamiliar with (SHOGI, EILAT, EDDA, PEETA, SYD) or challenged by the spelling (CESTLAVIE, IRINA, OBADIAH, NICENE, NAE), I am surprised I did it as efficiently as I did.

leftcoastTAM 2:12 PM  

Had similar reactions to Rex's, though I found it well on the challenging side of medium.

Was a struggle for a while, but fun, yielding several "aha" moments as the gimmick emerged.

Some of the fill was troublesome: SIGH, AAAMAP, OBADIAH, APHID, SYD. But no problems with NICENE creed, TIDAL bore.

Wanted stake before poker BUYIN and sitin before LIEIN.

Nice pay-off in the finish, thanks to RBM.

rondo 2:40 PM  

Got it all eventually, but had to work in the themers from the ends to the middle after the bell finally RUNG, getting one at FACEMEETFACE, and then the REST. Write-overs at sItINS and woeS/ilLS/AILS. SHOGI by crosses.

Did not remember OBADIAH as a book of the Bible. Remember that the NICENE creed was the longer of the two we memorized in confirmation class. Couldn’t repeat it today.

I think it would be a GOODIDEA to name yeah baby Juliette BINOCHE today. Hasn’t everyone seen Chocolat? Thought it was required viewing for couples.

Lotsa PPP but easier to BUYINto than a rebus.

Longbeachlee 2:50 PM  

Once again I'm with Bob on AAAMaps. E.g. tells me there are lots of possibilities.

thefogman 3:07 PM  

I found this one to be Saturday-level tough. DNF because I had the bad IDEA of putting GOODonyA for 10D instead of GOODIDEA. The killer crosses OBADIAH and EILAT were the culprits who rubbed me out of the game. Had sitINS then fatally chose dIEINS without even considering LIEINS. I got really lost when I wrote down EoduT instead of EILAT and took the wrong turn at Albuquerque with usaMAP instead of AAAMAP.

thefogman 3:21 PM  

It's my first DNF in quite some time...

Oh well. C'EST LA VIE.

rondo 3:43 PM  

@thefogman - you and Bugs both took that wrong turn, eh?

rain forest 4:43 PM  

I got to the puzzle later than usual today because of a headache not caused by jet lag, but by being naughty last night/morning (never again).

@Lady Di, I did read Rex today because of your advice. That's how I knew about the jet lag. Also, I too learned a song about the books of the Bible at the age of 10, I think, and though I am now definitely not religious, I still know it! Helpful in the odd crossword puzzle.

I truly enjoyed this puzzle finding it easy in parts and challenging in others. Nice theme, tricky/devilish cluing, rebusless, and filled well. Ms. Margolin knows her stuff.

Now I'm going to have a nap.

thefogman 5:25 PM  


You bet we did.


Diana,LIW 7:44 PM  

It makes me smile when Syndies talk to each other. It just does... :-)

Lady Di

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