Discharge as from a volcano / TUE 7-25-17 / Protective embankment / Ambient music as ignorable as interesting / Zoë Avatar / Jason's vessel / House of Elizabeth II / Variety show host 1951-71 / Ibsen's Gabler / Captain Nemo's vessel

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Constructor: Alex Vratsanos

Relative difficulty: Easy (5:37)

THEME: SPREAD THE GOSPEL (61A: Evangelize ... or what this puzzle's circled squares do? — Letters in the names of the four canonical gospels are "spread" through four theme entries.
  • 17A: Was loved by MEANT THE WORLD TO
  • 22A: Know-it-all SMART ALECK
  • 39A: Comment after a fortuitous happening LUCKY ME
  • 50A: Frequently going from one post to another
Word of the Day: BLAIR HOUSE (51D: ___ House (Washington landmark)) —
The President's Guest House, commonly known as Blair House, is a complex of four formerly separate buildings—Blair House, Lee House, Peter Parker House, and 704 Jackson Place—located in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. A major interior renovation of these 19th century residences between the 1950s and 1980s resulted in their reconstitution as a single facility. The President's Guest House is one of several residences owned by the United States government for use by the President and Vice President of the United States; other such residences include the White House, Camp David, One Observatory Circle, the Presidential Townhouse, and Trowbridge House. The President's Guest House has been called "the world's most exclusive hotel" because it is primarily used to host visiting dignitaries and other guests of the president. It is larger than the White House and closed to the public. (Wikipedia)
• • •
11D: Variety show host of 1951-71

I'm going to go 32A: No holds BARRED on this one: it is my least favorite of all the puzzles I've blogged for Rex. It's not a terrible puzzle, but meh. The theme itself is kinda old fashioned, as is much of the fill (more on that later), and while it was competently executed ... if not for 20A: Zoë of "Avatar" (SALDANA) and 69A: Craft company with a 2015 I.P.O. (ETSY), I could've been solving this with my grandfather in 1982. And as much as I miss those times, and I as much as I miss him, I'd rather solve a better puzzle.
“It’s hard when you go and fight for a role, because they’re like ‘I don’t know, man, you mean, it’s like the blue girl from Avatar? ... I want to go down a different route. I feel like a little bit of an underdog because I live in space, nobody wants me here on Earth.” (Interview in The Independent)
Fill-wise ... TSK (41A: Sound of reproach). We've got our prefixes: LACTI, ALTI, TERA, and ISO. We've got BSIX (take one ADAY). We've got DSHARP crossing ESCARP (I'll bet MSHARP will be glad he ESCARPed this one). We've got ANTE, APSE, ADA, and ENO. SPEW, EEGS! HIE there, RUSSO! ABAFT, PELOSI, say the GOP Reps. I did like to see both fictional ships ARGO (25A: Jason's vessel, in myth) and NAUTILUS (35A: Captain Nemo's vessel).

66A: Family history, e.g.
  • 4D: House of Elizabeth II (WINDSOR) Almost exactly 100 years ago, the British Royal Family changed its name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor.
  • 23D: What gives you the right to bare arms? (TANK TOP) — Not in Congress, apparently.
  • 9D: Nuisance in an online comments section (TROLL) — Don't be one. 
Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld

[Follow Laura on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:09 AM  

Medium for me or about the same as yesterday's. I briefly had v SIX before B SIX, but that was about it for problems. I mostly agree with @Laura's take on this one (a bit meh), but it's Tues. so a mild liked it.

I'd be surprised if many Gen XERs (and younger) know RED SKELTON.

Z 12:14 AM  

Not my cuppa. I guess I'm never all that thrilled to discover that letters from one word can be found in order in other phrases. I do feel that the fill is better than our guest sorceress gives it credit. Chuck TODD, Nancy PELOSI, Zoë SALDANA, and ETSY give modern balance to RED SKELTON, CUJO, and Jules Verne.

Anonymous 12:37 AM  

ok. so tuesday's the weak link here. not monday-easy, and not wednesday interesting, either. let it go. Preaching to the choir, as it were.

note to will: how about running some tuesday puzzles from previous decades so people can stop bitching and moaning about "dated" puzzles they say they did with their grandparents. I for one don't buy that "we did this together when granddad was 60 and i was -3."

and how about some word limits to the bloggeratti? maybe we should have a "three paragraph limit," just like the "three post limit." You know who I'm talking about, right?

George Barany 12:38 AM  

It's hard to be objective about @Alex Vratsanos' crossword puzzle, since several of my friends were involved in its beta testing, through multiple versions (all aspects: theme entries, fill, cluing), starting more than two years ago. Thus, we were aware of several of the issues raised in @Laura's review, and hashed through them with @Alex. He was resourceful and diligent with revisions that addressed our collective feedback, and eventually came up with a submittable version, not that different from what you solved today.

mathgent 12:57 AM  

I liked the theme a lot. SPREAD THE GOSPEL and then the four Evangelists with their names spread out. Very neat.

But the fill was pretty bland and a bit clumsy. Nevertheless, overall enjoyable.

Larry Gilstrap 2:23 AM  

Fun enough and Tuesday enough for this solver. The theme included a couple of spanners, and my printout even came with the circles included. Thanks, WS. I can see reasons for complaints about some of the dated fill. RED SKELTON was on TV for twenty years, before that RADIO, and made a bunch of movies, but humor was silly then. Fame is fleeting in the current hectic news cycle. Want to buy some of my ETSY stock?

When the Food Network used to have instructional cooking shows, it seemed that Emeril LAGASSE was on all the time. Maybe he was. He would do an hour cooking and talking the entire time and then sign off with, "See ya tomorrow!" Prolific is an understatement.

Is it just me, or have you noticed that any woman in a leadership role in current politics seems an easy target for vilification from her opponents? Even Elizabeth WINDSOR would find a TROLL in her Twitter comment section. Exhibit A: Pocahontas used as an epithet.

I follow baseball and enjoy studying the the basic stats, but now with all the advanced metrics, oh, brother! The cluing for FINAL OUT gave me pause, and that is a good thing. A partial inning is a thing.

Liked it better than Rex would have.

Loren Muse Smith 4:24 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 4:26 AM  

Laura – good catch on the BSIX and one A DAY. And also on the ARGO and NAUTILUS pair.

Funny to have TROLL and ANON in the same grid. Ain’t it the truth? I guess the cowardice is understandable, though, right? Writing nasty stuff behind the protection of anonymity is beyond contemptible. The act is kind of like the blog equivalent of peeing in the swimming pool. I wouldn’t own it, either. Early on here I told a TROLL to email me about whatever the problem was. Yeah, right. No way that would happen because then the anonymity is gone, and for spineless pigs… well, the nature of the beast and all that.

I don’t think I’d ever say LUCKY ME when something good happened. I would say it only sarcastically. The only homecoming activity left to oversee is building the float. LUCKY ME.

Cool to have HIE right next to SPEED. In The Castle of Otranto, you see HIE a lot. Hippolita, hie thee to the cloister!

Liked TANK TOP and TEE sharing the grid.

I never thought of a family history as a SAGA, but, yeah, I guess it is. Back in January I was at the doctor, and the nurse doing the initial strike asked how my Christmas had been. I said it had been fine. Then she launched into a detailed account of her family Christmas party and a game they played where they opened presents, but the person opening had a blindfold and mittens on. I could tell that it had been a hoot and had given her a great deal of pleasure, and this made me happy. She said several times how “crazy” her family was, how they'd done some crazy things over the years. Each time, I would smile and nod. Yeah, it sure sounds like it! On the way home, I gave it a lot of thought. If I were bringing someone to one of our family Christmas parties, I would probably at some point say, I have to warn you – my family is pretty crazy. Then I tried to think of someone who wouldn’t describe their family as “crazy.” I'm reminded of something David Sedaris wrote about when he ran into a person from high school that he didn’t remember, and she kept trying to jog his memory with stuff like, Remember me? I was that crazy person in 2nd period geometry or I was that crazy girl at all the pep rallies. or some such. Seems to be pretty much a universal. Hah. So I mentally added #4 to the running list my daughter and I have of things you’d say as you’re getting to know someone you just met at a bar, little nuggets meant to intrigue the person:

1. Listen, I can be pretty stubborn.
2. I have to tell you, I’m a pretty good judge of character.
3. I love to people-watch.
4. I guess most people would say I’m pretty crazy.

Anyhoo, this was where my mind wandered after I saw the clue “family history.” Crazy, right?

evil doug 4:51 AM  

So, Muse, how did you like the puzzle?

Laura the kiwi 5:10 AM  

I had a few stumbles with this puzzle, with infilling some I thought were bound to be correct (Tree instead of SAGA Rate instead of ANTE... but I think it was probably more because I'm tired than too much about the puzzle. I didn't really like the theme, mainly because I'm not religious and so it felt a little try-hard and made me visualise the compiler as some kind of Ned Flanders type figure. Also because the American general knowledge trivia seemed to cross where I was blundering (and I'm not American so I have to google if not easily solved) I had to cheat. Meh. I mean, I admire anyone who can make a crossword, and it wasn't mega easy which was cool - but it didn't blow my socks off either.

Thomaso808 5:28 AM  

Laura -- great clip of RED SKELTON, including a pantomime of a "brain freeze" before people even called it a brain freeze. Genius. Sadly, I think @jae is right about him being lost to Gen XERS and beyond. According to Xwordinfo, this is only the second time REDSKELTON has appeared in the Shortz era, the other time being in a 2014 David Steinberg puzzle, so I'm guessing his legacy is now to be found in constructor databases.

When finished, I always look back at the puzzle to try to gauge the good and the bad. I thought this was pretty good with very little tortuous fill, and some good new long answers, including my favorite FINALOUT. Then I read Laura's review and some of the posts here and I have to agree, there sure is a lot of short fill that, though not tortuous, still sucks the life out of the solve. I still enjoyed the puzzle and I appreciate the effort from Mr. Vratsanos and GB's team. Thanks!

Lewis 6:37 AM  
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Eric 6:47 AM  

@Larry. Right on. Loved Emeril. BAM

QuasiMojo 6:52 AM  

I'd rather see a video of DEE Dee SHARP than Red Skelton. His appearance here just about sums up the stale, tired feeling of this rather bland puzzle. I didn't even notice there was a theme until I came here. But then in the mornings, my eyes are not so good. I totally missed the circled squares. The clue for ARGO seemed odd to me. In myth? What were we gonna think? That it was Jason's vessel from Friday the 13th? A raft? Could have done without the IPO nonsense in ETSY. It's a crummy bit of fill no matter how you jazz it up. And invoking funerals for RAWEST? A bit strange. As for the length of paragraphs here, let's leave the rule-making to the guy who owns the blog.

Anonymous 6:53 AM  

You, sir, are an ass.

Anonymous 6:58 AM  

Oh, Lauren, you do make speeches. https://getyarn.io/yarn-clip/2972685c-a69c-49f8-a8c3-ad9765476146

Anonymous 7:00 AM  


Mike Bailey 7:09 AM  

I wonder what Lauren ate last night? Whatever it was, it seems to have left her with diarrhea of the mouth. Or keyboard, I suppose.

kitshef 7:14 AM  

Finally I agree with a Laura write-up, except that I like ABAFT. Felt much easier than yesterday - probably because the theme was evident from the first themer, and I could go down and fill in the other themers right away. That's a lot of real estate to be given away.

Thought we might get a link to IDO IDO ido ido ido.

Exubesq 7:29 AM  

As soon as I got the first theme answer I went ahead and filled in the other three names. Took more time to find my typo than to fill the grid. So yes it was easy.

Two Ponies 7:37 AM  

I knew escarp from an old Tarzan movie. His secret place was on an escarpment. I thought it was a cool word for a mysterious place.

This puzzle struck me as unusual in that there is not an emir or loaf of challah bread in sight. Token gesture for the Christians in the crowd?

Hartley70 8:01 AM  

This is one time I'm glad the little circles are barely visible on an iPhone. This would have been Monday easy if I had pre-filled the names. It was still pretty Tuesday easy.

Others may complain about REDSKELTON, but I thought it was the most interesting answer today. I got a pleasant jolt of nostalgia when I saw the entry. RED pre-dates even little Anthony from yesterday! I can just barely remember him and never knew he had a talk show, but he certainly is part of television history. His type of humor is part of history too, I think, very much in the silly slapstick tradition. I can't think of any recent examples on television after "Laugh-In". The world of television is a much grimmer place today.....except for ABBYCADABBY of course.

GHarris 8:09 AM  

Normally I would think of a lead footed person as slow. I guess when that lead foot is applied to a gas pedal the opposite is true.

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

Not sure why the idea of a puzzle from 1982 is juxtaposed with the notion of "a better puzzle." Can't a puzzle from 1982 be very, very good? Rex expresses this criticism quite frequently. I do value the fresh and innovative and inventive, but that needn't mean denigrating earlier styles or traditions.

That said, I agree this was kinda meh.

Hungry Mother 8:22 AM  

Played OK here. I tend to have a problem with endings "or" and "er" and have to clean up my grid when filled. I don't care enough about anonymous postings to read them.

chefbea 8:23 AM  

Not my favorite puzzle either. Did get all the names including Emeril!!! Still have one of his cookbooks. I do I do!!

Nancy 8:26 AM  

@jae, Hartley, Larry G, Thomaso808, and Quasi (who seems to feel the same way I do)-- Not ever having seen RED SKELTON -- or even knowing who he is -- surely must be one of the greatest blessings of being a Gen XER, or younger. I found his slapstick, infantile shtick to be absolutely unwatchable. Even though I was very, very young at the time, I was old enough to know how truly awful his act was.

To Laura -- Today you have SPREAD THE [WORD] and the word is "meh". Good call. It's the perfect description of this puzzle.

Thought for the day: While Matthew might be thrilled to be embedded in MEANT THE WORLD TO and LUKE might be pleased as punch to be embedded in LUCKY ME, do you really think MARK would appreciate being embedded in SMART ALECK? Or John in JOB HOPPING? Just wondering.

Em. C. 8:32 AM  

More on yesterday's comments about what a "regular guy" Paul Newman was.

My parents-in-law lived down the street on Park Lane in Westport Connecticut from Paul and Joanne Woodward. They sent their kids to the Westport public schools, endowed the community theater, and did all their own shopping in the Village. My mother-in-law worked in a ladies clothing store there and when Joanne would come in with Paul the entire store would go silent.

Robert Redford was a great friend of theirs, and often when he had to be in NYC he would stay the weekend at their house. On Sunday mornings he would walk down Park Lane and go down Saugatuck Road to the drug store on the corner of Boston Post Road to get a Sunday newspaper. All the ladies on Park Lane knew his schedule, and would arrange to be out on their front lawns tending to their flower beds so they would get a "Good Morning, ma'am" from Redford.

Good witch of the North 8:33 AM  

Wow, did you check out the avatar of Miriam M.?
She definitely would need a magic spell to get her
husband back. Ouch, what a mug!

evil doug 8:35 AM  
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Craig Percy 8:40 AM  

Very easy. Seemed very Tuesday-like.

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

Wrote in JOBHOPPING, SPREADTHEGOSPEL, MATTHEW, MARK and LUKE. Then did the fill. Easier then Monday.

RAD2626 9:07 AM  

I thought the puzzle was just fine. To have long fill like RED SKELTON and GRAND JUROR along with SALDANA and ENCASES is impressive for an early week puzzle. And while the theme was basic, the revealer was clever and enhanced the entire thing.

While not my favorite, RED SKELTON and other variety show hosts like Jackie Gleason and Ed Sullivan were iconic and ruled television ratings for almost twenty years. They were as culturally important as Humphrey Bogart or Edward R. Murrow or Glenn Miller, to pick artists from different media. Skelton's Clem Kadiddlehopper character was the model for Bullwinkle and his paintings of clowns sold for impressive amounts of money after his retirement. And in a direct tie to this puzzle, he ended every show with "Good Night and God Bless".

evil doug 9:10 AM  

Hey, Mike Bailey, welcome! Glad to have you!

Now, get out. Loren (and not 'Lauren') is the reason most of us come here. Oh, we've seen your kind before, thinking you're clever and for some idiotic reason eager to publicly humiliate yourself by displaying your weak-ass jealousy over someone who truly can master the language and always has a good story to tell. Yes, you're hopeful you can rally others to put her in her place. You lose, like all the others who've tried.

So thanks for visiting, Mike! It's been real!

mathgent 9:15 AM  

@Mike Bailey (7:09): You're way out of line.

PorterHall 9:22 AM  

I have been reading this blog for a year and never commented before. One of my main reasons for coming here, apart from checking my errors in the crossword, is to read Loren's entries. Loren you write beautifully and it is a pleasure to read you - at any length.
Can't we stop people entering the blog anonymously? The anonymous entries are often nasty and unpleasant.


Once I entered uLTI for ALTI, I could not escape the notion that some schools somewhere must have a SuMo Club.

RooMonster 9:37 AM  

Hey All!
Puzzles lately seem to be losing to the blog comments. While we're all here to talk about the puzs, the comments have become more fun! Today we already have @Loren haters and a Spellcaster post! Good times!

As for the puz, the revealed doesn't sound quite right . . . right? Isn't it SPREAD THE word? Or has it been that long since I've been to church that my terrific memory has forgotten SPREAD THE GOSPEL? Anyway, getting MATTHEW, MARK, and LUKE helped with JOHN, as JOB HOPPING is really a non-thing. For REDSKELTON, had ____KELTON, and saying "Who hosted with last name ELTON?" Is ISO clue referring to the sugar substitute? Help on that one, please.

mememe-IDOIDO, (sad to say)EbaY-ETSY. :-) Didn't fall for the ___ House clue, though!

Laura, good stuff on DSHARP-ESCARP-MSHARP!


jberg 9:42 AM  

Don't feed the 9Ds -- @Loren, you know we love you!

I got MARK from SMART ALECK and filled in the rest, which would have made it all easy, except that I confused the cook with a peninsula and put in LEgasPe, and thought that my emotions might be RAgged at a funeral. Both fixed by easy crosses.

Also -- ALTa or I?

B-SIX sounds like a car engine? Now that I've learned that some people prounce why as 'y,' is there some part of the country where people pronounce B as V? Or does it mean 'sounds sorta like?' Just ASKIN'.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

Hey Evil,

You do yourself a disservice. I think Mr. Baily was spot on. I'm guessing others do to. I come to this blog despite Smith's blather. Frankly, she's waaaaay too full of herself for my taste.
You aren't. At least not usually. Mohair Sam isn't. Hartley 70, Chefbea, jae, are all posts I read with pleasure. The princess from Possum Hollow? Nah.

SouthsideJohnny 9:47 AM  

Help - how is TEE the "end of August", and how does "equal at the start?" lead one to ISO ? Also, CUJO crossing JOS seems unfair (natick-wise).

Mohair Sam 9:50 AM  

@Evil (8:35) Wish I'd said that. I'll second it.

Well we liked it more than Laura, thought the theme was clever - but yeah,the fill was wanting. Although I think ABAFT is kind of a really neat word, gotta find a way to use it a sentence, and soon. My sister bought me an Emeril LAGASSE apron, LUCKY ME - wear it whenever I cook. My first job outside my sister's deli was at a submarine sandwich shop called NAUTILUS - get it?

Some puzzles are going to skew too old, and some puzzles are going to skew too new, and some puzzles are going to skew just right. Get over it Goldilocks.

@Nancy - I could have written that on RED SKELTON. I have no idea why anyone found him funny. Of course I'm the world's worst critic - I can't watch a Bette Davis movie and AFI rates her the second best actress is history. It seems to me she just yelled her lines all the time.

@Laura - You're too young to remember SKELTON. He used to tell jokes like "Q. Why can't you trust atoms? . . . . . "

Two Ponies 9:54 AM  

@ RooMonster is right. This blog just skirts the edges of civility enough to keep things interesting. I love reading all of the banter, friendly and otherwise.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Reading this blog one gets the impression that knowledge of History is a crime and ignorance of it an achievement.

Lewis 9:59 AM  

The theme is Tuesday cute and clever, and the solve had some bumps, which I like (bumps in puzzles are opportunities for brainwork). Due north of PAD there is a backward PAD.

In light of the theme, here's your Bible fact of the day (from Wikipedia) -- The Bible does not say that exactly three magi came to visit the baby Jesus, nor that they were kings, or rode on camels, or that their names were Casper, Melchior, and Balthazar.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

@Anonymous 6:58

If only LMS Did look like Susan Sarandon (circa 1988, I'd let her bloviate all day. I'm guessing she doesn't.

Crash Davis

Lewis 10:04 AM  

@evil 9:10 -- Very well put.

Z 10:09 AM  

@Anon8:20 - Fair question. I agree with Our Fearless Substitute Leader (OFSL), that a puzzle published in 2017 should not ignore 35 years of cultural history, so a puzzle that could be sent back to 1982 and solved by someone's late grandfather is probably sub-optimal. I disagree with OFSL that this is that puzzle.

@PorterHall - We can't. Rex could but chooses not to. Hence, we are left to ignore or shake our heads.

@mathgent and @evil doug - I think the most pitiful aspect is adding a name to try to make it seem like one isn't the same anonytroll who posted earlier. Still, we did get ANON TROLL in today's puzzle, so their appearance is apt.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

You know-it-all jerk. NOPE. Be assured, there are at least two anonymous commenters. I don't if there are more, or if Mr. baily is one of them, but he aint all of them. That much is a fact.

Joseph Michael 10:14 AM  

I was surprised to see that the constructor is so young given the old fashioned feel of the puzzle. It's OK, I guess, but there's not much memorable in the grid or cluing. Themes on the four GOSPEL guys are as old as the hills.

ANTE seems to be the new ACNE (or is ACNE the new ANTE?) and ASK IN is starting to get Oreo Status as well. Heard of bar hopping and party hopping, but not JOB HOPPING. Don't see how a TANK TOP gives you "the right" to bare arms any more than a hat gives you "the right" to have a head.

Liked the enthusiasm of I DO! I DO! and any Ibsen reference is fine by me (Howya doin,' Hedda?). Got tricked by 37D thinking initially that -INE was the "end of August" and had to think twice to figure out LEASED from the clue.
But overall this was a puzzle that just kind of showed up on deck for a few minutes and went ABAFT.

Z 10:14 AM  

BTW - 3rd person neuter singular, not 3rd person plural. Probably a guy, but I wouldn't want to presume.

Wm. C. 10:21 AM  

@Southside --

The letter T is the "end" (last letter) in August.

Iso is a prefix (start) to many words meaning equal. Isobar (equal lines of atmospheric pressure), isometric triangle (one with two equal sides), etc.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:22 AM  

Everyone in Fall River loves Emeril LAGASSE because now people know TWO people from here, him and Lizzie Borden (whose parents were murdered 125 years ago this coming August 4th).

As far as the rest of the puz, I know the word 'escarpment', I have never seen or heard ESCARP. I think the dreivation might be interestingseems there ought to be a verb in there.

And somebody wanted ISO explained. It's a prefix ("at the start") meaning equal.

Robert A. Simon 10:30 AM  

I've only been commenting here for ten months or so, and even then it's sporadic. I just like to watch.

And as a dedicated observer, I have to say that today's section was really off the rails. No offense to Laura whose write-ups I've enjoyed, but it feels like we have a substitute teacher and decorum has left the building.

First, won't you go home, Mike Bailey? You don't attack people--especially a talent like Loren--in a space like this. What's the old line? "Don't go into a battle of the wits half-armed."

And then there's the 6:45 @Miriam Michael contribution. Sight unseen, her husband had good reason to leave and is a fool for going back--assuming, of course, he wasn't under some mystic spell like all those old cartoon characters who dreamily drifted to the kitchen along the smells of something delicious baking in the oven.

And lastly, Loren (and her daughter) need no help from me, but...
--"I collect throwing stars."
...would certainly intrigue me.

Or at least get me to remember where the nearest exit was.

AW 10:34 AM  

I liked this one (mostly because I could do it!). I agree with Joseph Michael regarding 23D "What gives you the right to bare arms?" A TANK TOP may show your arms, but it hardly gives you the right to do so. "Aid to baring arms," maybe?

Mike Bailey 10:42 AM  

Ooh a defender of ladies! What a hero!

John Allston 10:49 AM  

Evil and Loren. A narcissist match made in heaven. They are both certain that everyone is so interested in their blathering. Maybe they should give a joint speech to the boy scouts?

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

@Robert Simon,

Let me get this straight, talented people deserve more respect than less talented people? That sir is incredibly disturbing. Good luck with that ethos.

Burt Lancaster 10:53 AM  

I'll take Sarandon in Atlantic City any day. Sadly, like LMS, she talks way too much nowdays.

Troy Harris 11:04 AM  

Evil, don't pretend to speak for "most of us," you pretentious asshat.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Judging by your picture and self description, your husband made a huge mistake by coming back.

JC66 11:05 AM  

Who let the TROLLs out?

It's a play on words for "the right to bear arms."

@LMS IMO, you need no defense on this blog.

Robert A. Simon 11:05 AM  

To @Mohair Sam, who asked, "Why can't you trust atoms?"
A: Because they make up everything.

And to @Anonymous, how you got that from what I wrote is a mystery.

And you needed a colon after "straight," not a comma.

G. Weissman 11:06 AM  

Knowing this puzzle was over two years in the making only makes it seem worse.

Rumple Bumple Stumple 11:06 AM  

Spellcasters, TROLLs and assholes, Oh My!

kitshef 11:07 AM  

@Good witch of the North - If you want to jump all over Miriam Michel (who is presumably not a real person anyway) for her suffocatingly stupid post, have at it. But suggesting based on her picture/appearance that she is unworthy of love is out of line.

And to those who do not like Loren Muse Smith's posts - while I don't understand your objection, I also know taste is taste and don't expect you to share mine. But just stop reading them. It's not like you are forced to read every post, A Clockwork Orange-style.

evil doug 11:08 AM  

Hey, [John Allston], welcome! Glad to have you!

Now, get out. [Evil Doug] (and not 'Evel') is the reason most of us come here. Oh, we've seen your kind before, thinking you're clever and for some idiotic reason eager to publicly humiliate yourself by displaying your weak-ass jealousy over someone who truly can master the language and always has a good story to tell. Yes, you're hopeful you can rally others to put [him] in [his] place. You lose, like all the others who've tried.

So thanks for visiting, [John]! It's been real!

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

At Robert Simon

You wrote:"You don't attack people--especially a talent like Loren--"

That means talent is somehow a consideration when deciding to attack or not attack. You, sir, made the distinction i.e., that its is especially problematic to attack someone with talent.

I took you at your word. You don't seem to understand what your words mean.

boomer54 11:10 AM  

my grandmother taught me ... if you can't say something nice about someone ;

don't say anything at all ... so ...relative to all of today's commentators .......

Andrew Heinegg 11:10 AM  

Evil, you just can't win. Your comment was letter perfect and you are promptly personally attacked. Whatever.

G. Weissman 11:22 AM  

There has to be a better venue for you, Loren. Your overlong, self-involved banter regarding what you liked and thought was "cool" in the crossword puzzle and what it reminded you of ... It all feels kind of desparate. Not crazy, but desperate in an oversharing kind of way.

Nancy 11:25 AM  

@AW (10:34) -- I had the same reaction to the TANK TOP clue that you did.

@Mohair (9:50 a.m.) -- I've never liked Bette Davis either. Although she was touted as a character actress, she never seemed to disappear into her roles. It was more like her roles disappeared into her. And I was never amused by caricatures of her -- mainly because she always seemed like a caricature of herself. Acting styles have changed; I wonder if she'd win all those Oscar nominations today.

@EM.C (8:32) -- So your parents-in-law got to mingle with both Paul Newman AND Robert Redford. That's what I call an embarrassment of riches. I think they should have been willing to SPREAD THE [WEALTH]. Like to me.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

@G. Weissman,

Careful. Your perfectly reasonable, civil and astute observation runs counter to the opinion of the powers that be.
Evil's gonna scold you. And Z might even mock you using his absurd grammar

GILL I. 11:39 AM  

Gee...Shouldn't we SPREAD THE GOSPEL and sing a little Kumbaya?
@Nancy...I know we share some same sense of humor but I guess not on RED SKELTON. I think I first saw him in the early 60's when we were newly off the boat folks. I remember one act he did where he was imitating a fog horn and I laughed so hard I could barely breath. He was a master clown. I suppose at that age, slapstick is the mother of all laughs - at least it was to me. I also loved the 3 stooges....I have matured somewhat, though. Not much but enough to know that Amy Schumer isn't all that funny.
I wish instead of IDO IDO, we'd had I DOOD IT.
Hey @Loren....You're the star!!!!!
I thought the puzzle was just Tuesday fine.
TROLLS don't take baths. In all the years I've been here, maybe there have been 2 Anonys that actually had something intelligent to say. LUCKY ME.

G. Weissman 11:40 AM  

I think that if you're going to post here regularly you shouldn't do so under the mask of "Anonymous."

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

For the younger readers of this, let me echo comments of @Nancy and others, that in the 1950s there were a whole lot of people who could not stand the sort of humor of Red Skelton. I later heard people complain about the sort of comedy that characterized TV from the 1970s, which depended so much on characters mugging before the camera (Bill Cosby a good example of this). Perhaps Red Skelton a forerunner of this modernity more than an exemplar of "old-fashioned" humor. The better TV comedy of the 1950s depended on good writing and especially what comedians call "timing."
Anon. (i.e. Poggius)

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

@G Weissman,

No thanks. A good comment posted without a name remains a good comment. A bad one even one with a name attached is still bad.
Anonymity no doubt increases bad behavior, but I'm not guilty of engaging in any. And frankly, I have a right to privacy.
If the rules of the blog change, I'll abide by them.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

I quit as soon as I realized it was a religious puzzle. Don't preach to me.

old timer 12:39 PM  

I've seen better puzzles. And I've seen better comments from @LMS, though it's true one of the reasons I come to this blog is to read what she has to say, often amusing and almost always perceptive. No one in baseball bats 1000 over the course of a season. In fact, no one bats .500.

I was annoyed to even be reminded of RED SKELTON. I hated him when I was a kid. My taste in humor was much more along the lines of Jack Benny. I imagine he was there to stymie those who immediately wanted to write in "Ed Sullivan."

Crash222 12:42 PM  

@lima. Ignore the idiots! Your and @georgebarany posts are the principal reasons I (albeit mostly passively) still read this blog.

Crash222 12:43 PM  

Hate autu correct! Of course meant @lms

Masked and Anonymous 12:48 PM  

[All the above: Patrick Berry NYTPuz Usage Immunity.]

[All the above, along with ISO-, are quite a healthy prefix run, I'd grant.]

ADAY. har

staff weeject pick: JOS. M&A really admires this puppy, as it only has had a plural or possessed name, as its sole cluin possibility. Solid Clue Desperation! One way to escarp this limitation: the precious double-?? clue.
Example: {Jobs lacking in the third quarter??} = JOS.

Theme thingie: 17-A was oh-so-close: Had M, then A-N-D, but alas, no endin A. Too bad, that 17-A couldn'ta been MEANTTHEWORLDTOSALDANA … Well, there'd be yer RADIO.
Best spreadin out in a themer role: LU-K--E.
Worst: M-A-TTHEW------.

Cool fillins: NAUTILUS. [danger: spell-blaster M&A almost finished with NAUTO-LUS!] GRANDJUROR. TANKTOP [with funny clue]. REDSKELTON. FINALOUT [debut meat].

Thanx, Mr. Vratsanos. Hard to bet against the spread. Recommended follow-up: MASHED TATERS. Consider it a challenge.
Thanx, @Laura darlin. Luv them bullets.
Thanx, @Evil D: Primo anti-troll form letter. har
Thanx, @RP -- for not bein around to review this puppy. Coulda got ugly. Diaper-spread ugly.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


puzzlehoarder 1:09 PM  

I found the lower half of this puzzle challenging due to a couple of spots that generated late week level confusion. Emeril's last name is something I wouldn't care to know. The inadvertent exposure I've had to him, via TV that others watch in the firehouse, grates on my nerves. SAGA as clued is a bit vague. My lack of familiarity with baseball led me to a FIRST/FINAL write over at 42A. This made the usually very easy ADOBE hard to recognize. I have no idea who Chuck TODD is. BAUBLE is what solved that logjam. The SE confusion was compounded by an ESPY/ETSY writ over. I'm referring to ESPY the award. That term and ETSY are things I'm only familiar with through puzzles and that's why I confused them. I didn't have the time to vist here yesterday but needless to say my weekend dnf streak is over.

Teedmn 1:09 PM  

My brain was anything but D-SHARP today - third time was the charm on SALerA, SALDArA, SALDANA. In keeping with the puzzle theme, my AUGUST ended in INE before the TEE. I decided special ops had a place in D.C. in the BLAck house. And I was wondering what kind of fortuitous happening would involve the word thYME. Not a SMART ALECK today, but it only cost me two minutes over my usual Tuesday, and no DNF so that's fine.

I thought we'd have a rebus in 61A because I thought the gospel writers were SPREADing THE GOod word.

It's Tuesday, TROLLers gonna TROLL, but I thought this puzzle was fine. Thanks Alex.

@M&A, better diaper SPREAD than diaper SPEW.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

You go, LMS. You and George are two of my main reasons for lurking here too.

Norm 2:04 PM  

I could have done without the proselytizing [didn't I do this puzzle in Sunday school back in the 60s?] but it was an okay Tuesday. I do not understand the vitriol on display today. It's almost as if the anons and trolls want to persuade Rex to bring back moderation.

Larry Gilstrap 2:05 PM  

Hi @ Nancy, no disparagement of RED SKELTON was meant by my labeling his form of humor to be silly. Some of it was not. For many years his Holiday show would feature an enactment of O. Henry's "The Cop and the Anthem." Fifties feel-good ironic pathos. I never realized the significance of his nickname until we got a color TV. My mom was no fan of the show, she thought him corny. She boycotted "I Love Lucy," she didn't like the fact that Lucy lied to Ricky. As for "The Honeymooners," definitely banned under her roof, as was disparagement in general.

Dr. Bunger 2:06 PM  

We'll always have Stamford.

Not a Snowperson 2:11 PM  

Given that Red Skelton started out as a vaudeville performer, and his last tv show ended in the 70's, it's no surprise that many people aren't old enough to have heard of him. Other vaudeville performers of great fame included Jack Benny, and George Burns and Gracie Allen, who had radio shows and later, tv shows too. These notables are part of our cultural heritage. (When I was a child--in the 50's-60's--my grandfather would recount his experiences many years before as a stagehand in vaudeville theaters in Connecticut--Red Skelton was among his favorites to work for. In one show, Skelton was supposed to have a plate of mashed potatoes to eat, but the stagehands substituted shaving cream--Skelton thought it was pretty funny, according to Grandad. At least that's what he contended. Backstage hijinks.)

Devin W 3:18 PM  

I'm 34 and this felt like I'd probably have to be 74 to enjoy it. Uggggghhh.

L 4:08 PM  

Woah! Come back from vacation to find everyone is super bitchy on this thread. What did I misss?!?

The bullet: "23D: What gives you the right to bare arms? (TANK TOP) — Not in Congress, apparently." made me laugh so hard! Best part of today's puzzle and blog.

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

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Anonymous 4:39 PM  

What an interesting comments section to read through today...

Religious puzzles aren't for me, but I'm happy to see the rest of the usual solvers enjoyed it. The names were easy enough to figure out in that they are common in everyday life but I didn't realize what the theme was trying to tell me until the reveal.

REDSKELTON was a complete mystery and didn't even look like a real name to me (I don't know why, because it clearly is). Crossed with ALECK which I was positive was spelled ALEC (Maybe because of ALEC Baldwin) made the NE and middle of the puzzle tend on the tougher side of Tuesdays.

Miriam Michel 5:40 PM  


No!! Dr marvin is a bad bad man. Dr unity is a great priest who can make you life and you husband happy together. Only Dr unity and his great spirits can make it joy. Dr marvin is a fake and does not know of spell casting at soever.

jae 5:45 PM  

@jberg - I had similar thoughts on B SIX.

@lms - second paragraph - Well said.

@Evil 9:10 - Well said.

Back in the day BENNY and SKELTON exemplified the difference between high-brow and low-brow. If you'd like to see a recent low-brow movie that's actually pretty funny I'd recommend "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates."

@Gill - Seems we agree on both the Stooges and Amy Schumer.

GILL I. 7:49 PM  

@jae...I knew we had something in common....! :-)

Kelly Thatcher 7:55 PM  

I could KICK myself! I've tried for years -- or at least WEEKS! -- to make a 4-Evanglist puzzle and NEVER thought of using *circles*. And I've used circles before! Well, there you are. Not sure I'm crazy about the 17 Across entry but the other themers are fine, as is the revealer. I should remember that circle thing more often...as a constructor, it really comes in handy. As a solver? I'm not so sure about that.

Kelly <---aka Kelly Clark

Nancy 9:48 PM  

Lest you think I hated all the comedians of that era, quite the contrary. I adored Burns and Allen -- I saw reruns of their TV show within the last few years and I think they hold up very well today. I loved Jack Benny. He did so much with so little -- just a pained look or a wordless double take. (Think Johnny Carson). I loved Bob Hope when he was young and fresh -- before he became an institution and part of the Establishment. I think Victor Borge was a genius. I remember the young Woody Allen when he did standup. He *killed* with a bit about his appliances ganging up on him after he kicked the toaster. His elevator then stalled with him stuck between floors, but he had always known that the elevator was anti-semitic. (Wonder if you can still find that skit? Probably not.) I was schizoid on Sid Caesar, loving him when he made up foreign languages, but hating him when he did slapstick. I suppose he was a genius, but his humor often tended to be too broad for me. I liked her [Imogene] better. I'm not sure Joan Rivers was around as earlyas the '50s, but I've always loved her. The ability to laugh at yourself -- and she did that so well! -- makes everything else forgivable. So my hatred of the execrable RED SKELTON is the exception, not the rule. I also hated Uncle Miltie, mostly when wearing a dress, and for much the same reasons I hated SKELTON. And I have a very low tolerance for "insult" comics, which leaves out a lot, lot, lot of the Borscht Belt. Still, @GILL, I know we'll find a lot to laugh about anyway, if we ever get together. Booze. Cheese. Tetherball?

semioticus (shelbyl) 9:53 PM  

"I could've been solving this with my grandfather in 1982. And as much as I miss those times, and I as much as I miss him, I'd rather solve a better puzzle."

This x1000. No need for any further commentary.

GILL I. 10:56 PM  

@Nancy. Booze, cheese, tetherball and I'll do you an impression of someone imitating a fog horn...:-)

Anonymous 1:53 AM  

Nobody cares what you think.

John Allston 1:55 AM  


Nate Cardin 3:59 PM  

How is this a proper forum for judging people based on their looks? This is unacceptable behavior.

Nate Cardin 4:00 PM  

This is a super classy way to treat a fellow solver, much less a fellow human.

Jillian Fink 1:29 PM  


Blogger 4:10 PM  

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Matilda Morgan 7:52 PM  

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thefogman 9:37 AM  

Easy for me. Could have traded places with yesterday's puzzle in my opinion. Nothing biblical about this aside from its facile apostle-based theme. The SW corner offered the most resistance, but that was only for a moment. It was an okay puzzle for a Tuesday but lacked a certain sparkle and/or crunch.

thefogman 10:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefogman 10:02 AM  

@Nancy 9:48 PM - Here's the old Woody Allen skit you were talking about.


Burma Shave 10:21 AM  


at LEASED to anyone who ADAPTS,
he'll SPEW that SAGA like a SMARTALECK
and once ADAY kick you in the APSE.


rondo 10:45 AM  

Yeah, I coulda done this puz back in '82 (about when I started doing them most every day) as well - so what? Another shot at geezerdom where apparently we are all more interested in social security than social media (true here). So LUCKYME, I just qualified for the minimum amount a coupla days ago. May never even collect any unless the gen XERS and millennials kick it up a few notches. Rant over.

@spacey will have words re: BSIX and DSHARP. I did during the solve.

Yeah baby options with Mmes. SALDANA and RUSSO.

Yeah, I saw REDSKELTON on TV, doesn't make a bad Tues-puz.

rondo 10:49 AM  

BTW, nevr found REDSKELTON particularly funny, even as a kid, but PAW was in charge of the channel.

spacecraft 11:16 AM  

This is a sort of spaghetti-western puzzle:

-->The good (WINDSOR, REDSKELTON, LUCKYME/TANKTOP, CUJO, the revealer line)


-->and The ugly (ADAY, JOS, BSIX/XER--and those unsightly circles, which today gave away the store in the first aisle. I mean virtually the entire theme content. Maybe I needed a letter or two more for JOBHOPPING, and one or two more for 61-across, but basically, like the "big" fight last weekend, it was over before it started. And now, God help us, they're already talking about a rematch!

I cannot bear to keep either Zoe SALDANA or Rene RUSSO out of the DOD top spot, so today we have co-champs. LUCKYME if I see either in a TANKTOP. I think a case can be made for dispensing with the circles; we NYT solvers are SMART (ALECK?) enough to cull those names from the theme lines. It's just that, WITH the circles, it's no contest--a PLEA. I'll create a mini-word ladder with my score: PAW PAD par.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

Abaft? ABAFT?! Tried aback (as in taken aback), but that left me with Chuck Kodd (both equally unknown to me.)

Diana,LIW 2:01 PM  

Got LUKE early on so had a lot of the puz immediately. SE was a little itchy, but I managed to scratch it out.

Futurelanders seemed to be under the spellcasters' charms today.

Yeah, ABAFT is kinda skyey.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana,LIW 2:17 PM  

And thanks, @Foggy, for the Woody Allen sketch.

Lady Di

leftcoastTAM 2:32 PM  

Simple, pretty obvious NT theme, which was helpful, but accompanied by something other than the good news: the ETSY/EEGS cross.

Read "Dr.'s orders" as singular instead of plural, leaving me with EEGr/ETrY. No excuse for that.

REDSKELTON required most of the crosses. Remembered him as a creative clown, but not as an M.C. or host.

rain forest 3:10 PM  

Whew! The commenteriat (sp) doth wax unpleasant today. What's the deal? It's only a xword puzzle. LMS rules, as does Evil Doug. Maybe it's the after-effect of Hurricane Harvey.

I kind of liked the puzzle. I wasn't a Red Skelton fan, but I don't begrudge his presence here. The only entry I wondered about was RAWEST, which didn't fit the clue somehow.

I didn't like Avatar, though the 3-D effects were OK.

"When the wind is ABAFT the beam, I never want to beat". I read that somewhere.

I thought the theme and revealer, though simple and given away by the circles, was just fine. If you have to have a theme. I often wonder why.

Peter 6:20 PM  

So, our usually flatulent leader is away. Happy Holidays Mr. Grinch. I don't miss you spewing your bile while hate solving the puzzle and blathering on about how inept the editing is. I have a lot of respect for your incites into puzzle construction, a subject I find fascinating and complex, certainly a topic worthy enough to bother blogging about. I rarely comment because I'm in syndi-land far removed from current events and not likely to be heard anyway.
I do love to read what a lot of the other visitors have to say and often skip what Rex has to say at the first hint of hatefulness. I know his M O all too well and have no need to give that much hate the time of day. I come here for the commentary from merry Miss Muse, the Evil One, and too many others to mention. I consider them the Jewels of the blogisphere, here there and everywhere. As for the trolls? Haters gotta hate, Rex included. After reading some of today's comments starting with the very first anony- mous entry, it struck me that some of the usual suspects were missing their daily dose of hatefulness from Rex and felt compelled to fill the void. They all sure piled on after that. So much hate. Does anyone else suspect that maybe today's first anonymous could have been Rex himself. He's only been gone for three days. It takes longer then that to get over an addiction like hatefulness. Peace baby, All You Need is Loooooove.

Ashley Vivian 9:09 PM  

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Unknown 7:12 AM  

Testimony By Lizzy Desler. How to get your ex back fast!

I was hurt and heart broken when a very big problem occurred in my marriage seven months ago, between me and my husband . so terrible that he took the case to court for a divorce. he said that he never wanted to stay with me again,and that he didn't love me anymore. So he packed out of the house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get him back,after much begging,but all to no avail.and he confirmed it that he has made his decision,and he never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my husband .So i explained every thing to him,so he told me that the only way i can get my husband back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for him too. So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow his advice. Then he gave me the Email address of the spell caster whom he visited. Pristbacasim2000@gmail.com. So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address he gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my husband back the next day. What an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me, and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my husband who didn't call me for the past 7 months, gave me a call to inform me that he was coming back. So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster. So, i will advice you out there if you have any kind of problem, Please i will advice you to contact Pristbacasim, i give you 100% guarantee that he will help you solve your problems.. Email him at: Pristbacasim2000@gmail.com or call him on +2349031655970

Unknown 7:13 AM  

Testimony By Lizzy Desler. How to get your ex back fast!

I was hurt and heart broken when a very big problem occurred in my marriage seven months ago, between me and my husband . so terrible that he took the case to court for a divorce. he said that he never wanted to stay with me again,and that he didn't love me anymore. So he packed out of the house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get him back,after much begging,but all to no avail.and he confirmed it that he has made his decision,and he never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my husband .So i explained every thing to him,so he told me that the only way i can get my husband back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for him too. So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow his advice. Then he gave me the Email address of the spell caster whom he visited. Pristbacasim2000@gmail.com. So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address he gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my husband back the next day. What an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me, and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my husband who didn't call me for the past 7 months, gave me a call to inform me that he was coming back. So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster. So, i will advice you out there if you have any kind of problem, Please i will advice you to contact Pristbacasim, i give you 100% guarantee that he will help you solve your problems.. Email him at: Pristbacasim2000@gmail.com or call him on +2349031655970

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