Madame of 1960s Vietnam / TUE 10-31-17 / Practice condemned in Ninety-Five ThesesSelf-title #1 pop album of 2001

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Reformation Day 2017—500th anniversary of the "Ninety-Five Theses" 

Theme answers:
  • PROTESTANT (17A: With 24-Across, movement resulting from the "Ninety-Five Theses")
  • REFORMATION (24A: See 17-Across)
  • ALL SAINTS CHURCH (36A: Building where the "Ninety-Five Theses" were posted)
  • INDULGENCES (47A: Practice condemned in the "Ninety-Five Theses")
  • WITTENBERG (58A: City where the "Ninety-Five Theses" were written)
Word of the Day: Madame NHU (59D: Madame ___ of 1960s Vietnam) —
Trần Lệ Xuân (22 August 1924 – 24 April 2011), more popularly known as Madame Nhu, was the de facto First Lady of South Vietnam from 1955 to 1963. She was the wife of Ngô Đình Nhu, who was the brother and chief-advisor to President Ngô Đình Diệm. As Diệm was a lifelong bachelor and because she and her family lived in Independence Palace together with him, she was considered to be the first lady. // Known for her harsh and incendiary comments that attacked and severely denounced the Buddhist community of South Vietnam and the strong American influence and presence in the country, she had to live in exile in France after her husband and her brother-in-law, Diệm, were assassinated in 1963.
• • •
I waited 500 years for *this*? The world's most boring tribute puzzle? Man, I'm gonna go work up my own 95 crossword theses and nail them to the door of the NYT.

A bunch of related words arranged symmetrically. No playfulness, no cleverness, no thoughtfulness. Just a cynical attempt to exploit an anniversary. I am currently teaching English literature of Renaissance / Reformation, so the themers were all pretty dang easy (except for ALL SAINTS CHURCH, which I blanked on). The rest of the grid seemed easy, too. I have no idea how my time ended up perfectly average. I'm guessing the slowdown had something to do with the only answer in the grid I had to pay any attention to (not coincidentally, the ugliest thing in the grid): NHU (59D: Madame ___ of 1960s Vietnam). Wow, NHU? Who NHU!? Between that and the adjacent CEREAL, with its jaunty / befuddling "Post" clue (46D: Post production?), I kept putting in and tearing out the first two letters of 62A: "It's all clear to me now!"). NHU even had me unsure about the [City where the "Ninety-Five Theses" were written]. Who the hell is Madame NHU? Please don't tell me I should be "happy to learn something." No, you should be sad that your constructor had to resort to such junk fill, because I assure you, he didn't put NHU in here so he could teach the world about her. Desperation, man. That's the only reason you're ever gonna see NHU. I thought "I've never seen that before," but apparently she appeared in a puzzle during the first month of my blog's existence (Oct. 2006). I'd like to thank the NYT for giving me 11 NHU-free years. I will always remember those years fondly.

Gotta run. Happy Halloween.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. it occurs to me that many solvers may not know what INDULGENCES are, so here:
In the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, an indulgence is "a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins". It may reduce the "temporal punishment for sin" after death (as opposed to the eternal punishment merited by mortal sin), in the state or process of purification called Purgatory. [...] By the late Middle Ages, the abuse of indulgences, mainly through commercialization, had become a serious problem which the Church recognized but was unable to restrain effectively. Indulgences were from the beginning of the Protestant Reformation a target of attacks by Martin Luther and all other Protestant theologians. Eventually the Catholic Counter-Reformation curbed the excesses, but indulgences continue to play a role in modern Catholic religious life. Reforms in the 20th century largely abolished the quantification of indulgences, which had been expressed in terms of days or years. These days or years were meant to represent the equivalent of time spent in penance, although it was widely taken to mean time spent in Purgatory. The reforms also greatly reduced the number of indulgences granted for visiting particular churches and other locations. (wikipedia)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 6:17 AM  

Rex sucks.

Lewis 6:17 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 6:18 AM  

I'm watching the new Ken Burns doc on the Vietnam War, so luckily Madame NHU came pretty quickly for me! Pretty boring puzzle otherwise though.

Lewis 6:19 AM  

@rex -- I knew Nhu, and now so do you.
@rex -- Any suggestions on how to make a puzzle with this theme playful and clever?


A well-constructed puzzle. Not having WITTENBERG and ALL SAINTS CHURCH on the tip of my tongue made the bottom half more interesting than the top. I like the cross of INDULGENCES (meaning desires given into) and I DIG.

The plunge of 38D into 64A engendered this fantasy:

Mr. President, are you guilty?

puzzlehoarder 6:27 AM  

Now we know why the Halloween puzzle didn't run on Halloween. Leave it to some boring stiff to remind to remind us of the momentous occasion.

The name was the easy part. It was the rest of the details that generated a little resistance.

At first I thought INDOLENCES wasn't working because of my bad spelling then I realized it was just bad memory.

I vote AHISEE as the MAKEMYTHEMEWORK entry of the month. Yes that has 15 letters in it . I suggest this constructor builds a puzzle around that one and gets back to us in 500 years

evil doug 6:31 AM  

Excellent 'sac' and 'sack' wordplay, but expect some gripes from the anti-sport element here....

Shift ICE over one column right, and turn NESTEA into ICETEA. Or is it ICED? Don't want to pick that scab again....

A little flying subtheme: GATE, AER Lingus, NOISE--and Nosedive. (And before you get too smug, Lewis, Podesta and Hillary are in his sights next...)

Yes, the 500th anniversary of the PROTESTANT REFORMATION is a big deal for people like me. Replacing the concept of buying one's way into heaven via INDULGENCES with simply accepting Christ's grace as savior unlocked the gates for millions of new believers. Nice to squeeze DOGMA and Easter-->APRIL in there, too....

Tried to spell it WITTENBuRG, but decided FLuSH wouldn't be so edible....

So far they haven't succeeded in having the ALAMO torn down...yet....

American Liberal Elite 6:38 AM  

There are scads. There is no scad.

Two Ponies 6:38 AM  

All that Rex said plus
Gate was the answer but Late was my first guess.
Ah I see? Not really.
Rager? Who has ever said this?
sac flies? OK, a baseball thing.
Nhu? No.
I thought indulgences were just a fancy word for bribes.

Two Ponies 6:39 AM  

indulgences "was"

G. Weissman 6:48 AM  

Oh, I see, it’s AH I see. Only not really.

kitshef 7:15 AM  

TAFT sure is the answer to a lot of trivia questions:
Only President to also serve on the Supreme Court
First Presidential ‘first pitch’.
Last President with facial hair.
Heaviest President.
First President to own a car.


Normal Norm 7:25 AM  

The Alamo might be safe since it was the white guys who died.

clk 7:31 AM  


QuasiMojo 7:36 AM  

It felt like I was reading all 95 Theses when doing this. As a German Roman Catholic I am mystified by it. As a subscriber to the NYT puzzle, I am bored by it. As a fan of Rex's blog, I am surprised by his silly NHU rant. Talk about INDULGENCES! :)

Rhino 7:47 AM  

Fastest Tuesday ever (I used to be a Lutheran pastor) - I threw in every answer without hesitation and my time was still slower than 5 minutes. No idea how speed solvers do it.

Anonymous 7:48 AM  

For Halloween I'm dressing up as a snowflake. First I have to post my meal on Facebook.

Luther Martin 7:48 AM  

There's a sucker born every minute. Your politics begin to make sense. Some people are just susceptible to joining cults it seems. Obviates the need for thinking.

Birchbark 7:49 AM  

"Just a cynical attempt to exploit an anniversary." -- I had no idea such a thing was possible.

This solvable Tuesday puzzle has seven longish, symmetrical theme answers associated with Martin Luther, plus PASS RUSHER and PUGET SOUND, and the fill is within acceptable tolerances. There will always be NHUs, but balanced by INDULGENCES crossing DOGMAS.

I doubt this sort of puzzle sets out to be chock full o' zingers. I learned a few things via the crosses. Even if that's the wrong way to enjoy a crossword, I'm okay with it.

Hungry Mother 7:58 AM  

Quick solve for me doing lots of downs. I only knew about half of the themers; makes sense because of my Catholic upbringing. Like George Carlin, I grew.

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

For a well written and thoughtful crossword blog where it's not just snark and cut and paste Wiki entries, see Deb Amlen. You also get the inside perspective from the constructor.

chefbea 8:05 AM  

What a boring puzzle!!! except for pam, nestea and post cereal

Happy trick or treating to all!!!!

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

Well said Anon 8:01. More refreshing though about Deb's blog, is that regardless of her political leanings, she's not micro-aggressed by the most innocuous things.

Doug 9:01 AM  

Rex, easy now. Did you forget your meds before commenting on this puzzle?

LMM 9:03 AM  

The last name Mc indicates an Irish person. Mac is a Scot

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

@American Liberal Elite
there are tons, there is no ton
there are rafts, there is no raft
there are oceans, there is no ocean
there are universes, there is no universe

very Zen, your way of thinking

ArtO 9:08 AM  

What a terrible write-up! What's wrong with a little history lesson - even if you had to capitalize on an obscure 500th anniversary.

Didn't know Madame Nhu? How about watching Ken Burns Vietnam series where you might learn some history?

Nancy 9:10 AM  

Like a tiny little religious history lesson wrapped into a crossword puzzle. I started out bored to death at the top, where the puzzle put up absolutely no resistance, but I liked it somewhat more as I approached the slightly more difficult SE. I ended up having a better time than I usually do on Tuesdays.

I really, really object to SCAD -- so much so, that that section gave me trouble. I had SCOT, erased it, and then put it back when I realized that, Grrr, it was going to be SCAD after all. Wasn't thrilled with "sac flies", either. Is there a single word left in the English language that hasn't been abbreviated past all recognition?

Nice post, @Lewis!

Kimberly 9:10 AM  

Usually I either roll my eyes or laugh at Rex’s teen-girl-level hyperbole, but this time I could only agree: this puzzle was ridiculous enough to actually be offensive.

And to Lewis who wanted to know how one would make this themer clever? One wouldn’t. Which is why this type of theme belongs in a high school history class as a lame extra credit device constructed by a bored teacher.

George 9:23 AM  

I have a juvenile sense of humor, hence I always giggle at AER Lingus. I had no idea that Martin Luther Day or whatever it is called is on Halloween. I would have preferred a better version of yesterday's puzzle.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

Instead of stats about PPP in the puzzle, what if there was a stat for how many of the comments are celebrations of ignorance. It would be high, every day. Sad!

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

All the references to religion threw me off on RBIs and Pass Rusher, the only slow spot for me. Should have caught a hint at TKOs!

RooMonster 9:33 AM  

Hey All !
OK, 500th Anniversary is a big deal for the PROTESTANT REFIRMATION, but couldn't Martin have waited one more day to publish it? :-)

Or they didn't have Halloween back then. I AMS not sure.

Anyway, puz was OK for what it was. Even had an extra little themer - DOOR. Got stuck on the S of PERSE/RATSO. Natick...

Agree on NHU, oof. I know @M&A will appreciate that, though.

TV channel went AMC-TMC-TCM. Har.

AH I SEE NEARly now (or something)

Nancy 9:42 AM  

@Anon 9:26 -- There's not enough boasting and bragging for you in the country right now? You want more of it right here? What you call "celebrations of ignorance" are precisely what bring me to this blog each day: People being honest enough and self-deprecating enough to share what they don't know and to 'fess up to the mistakes they've made. More often than not, these confessions are made with great good humor. Sometimes, as in the case of "Cascos", they're hysterical. For me, the people who are the most honest in this way are also the most fun to read. So, no, Anon, not "sad" at all. Nothing "sad" about it.

mathgent 9:44 AM  

One of Rex's best. I especially liked his thanking NYT for eleven Nhu-free years.

I just read a review of a new biography of Martin Luther. The author doubts that Luther actually nailed the theses to the door. He just submitted them to the Church authorities.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

Gambia. Nhu. Although I appreciate the effort Rex puts into this blog, I think I've about had it with his childish "If I don't know it, it's unfair" rants. Also with the tedious extraneous political interjections of some bloggers.

Joseph Michael 9:49 AM  

Well, this is a peppy Halloween theme.

Impressive theme density, but a plural PARS and a singular SCAD are NEAR awful. AHISEE ain't so great either.

Agree with @LMM that Mc- says Irish and Mac- says SCOT.

Liked the reminder about the Catholic Church's con game of INDULGENCES for sale. It's hard to imagine that people actually once bought such DOGMA. But at least it's not as bad as child abuse.

Liked the clues for CEREAL and OBIT and the shout out to IBSEN.

And I AGREE with @Lewis that PERSE is a DOOK.

Z 9:51 AM  

@Kimberly is probably right. Tribute puzzles and obit puzzles just can’t be made interesting in any word play sort of way. Sure, I like history and this is a significant event in western civilization, but go punny and you’re going to offend someones. Cutesy clues will get the same result. Basically, the gravitas of the PROTESTANT REFORMATION precludes doing anything other than straight forward factoids. This is fine for trivia night at the bar or your 10th grade World History pop quiz. It’s just doesn’t make for interesting crossword puzzling. Yet, I am sure there are people who like this sort of puzzle so it is hard to fault the NYTX for publishing it.

As for NHU - ugh. Ngô Dinh NHU, Ngô Dinh Diêm, and Madame NHU are the poster children for trivial trivia. Give me Yma and Yoko colloborating on an Eno ode to eels and erns any day.

@Evil Doug - Yep. Podesta clearly colluded with Putin operatives to try to defeat Clinton. Who would of thought that Fox would be a more effective spewer of Kremlin propaganda than RT.

Toast 9:56 AM  

Well, there is, but it's the fish that (I'm guessing) scads metaphorically refer to. What's next, OODLE?

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

I so loved this puzzle and I want Rex to know why. I totally hated Sunday's puzzle. Hated it. hated it. hated it. I don't go to movies, never heard of the actors, didn't know the famous lines and i was so frustrated by a puzzle on sunday that was vastly more trivia than anything else. How, I wondered, could Shortz have allowed that puzzle to even exist in our universe. for crying out loud, I said to my wife, if we had a puzzle that asked all about catholic theology and religious history, I ranted, all the precious snowflakes would have screamed that they were flushed out of their safe spaces. So I opened this puzzle this morning and finished it in under 2 minutes. Truth is, both today's puzzle and Sunday's should never have seen the light of day. These two puzzles reflect the extreme of wretchedness of the shortz era. Not entertaining. Frustrating one way or the other for certain kinds of trivia buffs. Almost like they needed a warning label. So, this was an easy puzzle for me, but not fair for lots of people, just like Sunday. OK. rant over.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

RunS for RBIS, and working off of a different definition of "static" prevented me from seeing NOISE. Also, ESME not in my trivia bank. Slightly over normal and felt like a slog.

Whirred Whacks 10:10 AM  

Madame NHU came and spoke to my high school in 1963. She was on a national tour to raise support for the South Vietnamese government. As I recall, she was very well dressed.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Carbon credits are modern indulgences, pardoning the “sins” of a polluter and enriching the “climate change” scam artists. Carbon dioxide is a plant food, not a poison, and the earth was much warmer a thousand years ago, when Vikings lived in Greenland, than it is today.

Carmela 10:30 AM  

I guess I was absent from school that day but what is a DOOK?

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Z - "Who would of thought?" What's the verb in that question? Just trying to learn here.

evil doug 10:50 AM  

Follow the money, Z, and back a few years. Huh. Wonder why Podesta's brother suddenly quit the firm yesterday....

Mohair Sam 11:06 AM  

Mankind's newest religion has INDULGENCES too, they're called carbon credits.

The puzzle was just fine, I think we've gotten so used to them being so playful that we're disappointed when we're hit with one with an old-fashioned straight face. Hey, once every 500 years or so, I'm not gonna complain.

I'll bet more guys who got shot at in Viet Nam know the name Madame NHU than "Hedda Gabler". Funny what constitutes "trivial trivia" ain't it @Z?

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

I think of it more commonly as the "Cathedral Church" of Wittenberg.

Sir Hillary 11:11 AM  

As a PROTESTANT, I should probably know way more about MARTIN / LUTHER than I do. But I don't. @evil doug's interpretation makes me want to reinvest my time learning more, though.

For me, this puzzle is salvaged by the long downs -- PASSRUSHER, NOSEDIVE, WINERIES and PUGETSOUND are all excellent.

Fave clue: Post production? for CEREAL.

Madame NHU is indeed the "ugliest thing in the grid" but not just because her name is weak 3-letter fill. What an abhorrent person, so fortunate to be touring the U.S. when her husband and brother-in-law were deposed and executed back home. Perhaps this was when she visited @Whirred Whacks's high school?

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

ANIME is not a genre any more than American animation is a genre. You wouldn't claim that "Bugs Bunny" and "Superman" are the same genre any more than you should claim that "Pokemon" and "Belle and Sebastian" are the same genre.

Justin W. 11:17 AM  

Well. I for one did enjoy learning about NHU, mostly because I just *NHU* that answer was going to rankle you, It certainly did, which led to the the wonderful comment: "I'd like to thank the NYT for giving me 11 NHU-free years. I will always remember those years fondly."

Bogus fill is almost always guaranteed to make your blog shine. Thanks to Alex, Will, and Rex for brightening this Tuesday morning.



Masked and Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Happy Hallowittenberg!

staff weeject pick: NHU. This lil pup sure got an unhusual amount of attention in the @RP writeup today. Havin myself benefitted from an all-expenses-paid 1-year trip to Nam in the good ol days, that name was a gimme to m&e, except for the spellin of it. My first shot at her was NGU. … Ngo go, M&A Breath.

Cool long-ball fillins: PASSRUSHER. PUGETSOUND. NOSEDIVE. CEREAL [with primo clue].

NPR is currently broadcastin a 500-anniversary program on MARTINLUTHER, even as I comment. Spooky. Right now they're talkin about the whole "purgatory" (aka DMV waitin room) concept. M&A is learnin lotsa nhu stuff, here. Feisty German monk dude. Feisty puztheme, too boot, at our house. Was not much in the know about Ninety-Five Theses. [Man, U kinda gotta watch out, if sayin "Ninety-Five Theses" several times, fast…]

Thanx, Mr. E-S. This one really nailed M&A to the door.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

trick? … or treat? … or indulgence? ...

Mark 11:31 AM  

Well I actually thought Rex would like this one. Very heavy with themers, four good long downs and not much crosswordese. I agree, Nhu was hard, but it's better than yet another piece overused crossword entries. Rex basically complained it wasn't much fun. What kind of Rex is that? He usually wants to complain about construction, but that's hard to do for this puzzle. I thought it was a beautifully constructed puzzle with an unusual theme, and reasonable difficulty for a Tuesday.

a jazz listener's thoughts 11:48 AM  

Rex is just full of himself and his opinions. Madame Nhu was quite famous during the Vietnam war, very much like Marie Antoinette. The puzzle theme was well thought out and linked, and some clever clues (46d, 26d for example) added to the fun.

D 11:52 AM  

So Rex is the one college professor who didn't have constant rage-gasms about Ken Burns Vietnam (of which Madam Nhu was heavily featured).

John Q Public 11:56 AM  

Why the Madame NHU hate? That's a legitimate three-letter answer, although maybe a bit much for a Tuesday. I had trouble recalling her name exactly but I knew of her; in fact I'm surprised there hasn't been a feature film about her because that story has got everything. Murder. Palace intrigue. High stakes international diplomacy. Self immolation. Fabulous fashion. Action and war (we can write in a car chase). Man, I want to see this movie now.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

@Anonymous 11:08 - too bad, since it is the University Church, not the Cathedral Church.

Nancy 11:59 AM  

@Whirred Whacks (10:10) -- I loved your throwaway line about Madame NHU being so well dressed when she came and spoke at your school. I wonder if she and Imelda Marcos shared their shoes.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

@Nancy - read your posts over the past week. Find versions of the word "bored." Cogitate.

kitshef 12:04 PM  

Seems to me that indulgences get a bad rap.

Take parking tickets. People too rich to care park anywhere they want, and pay the fines without caring. This generates needed money for the police.

A carbon tax would be an excellent way to collect from polluters and use that money for the common good, and it is long past time we had one.

Even the original indulgences to which Martin Luther objected were used to finance what were seen as worthy projects by the Church.

jb129 12:06 PM  

I remembered this constructor because I remembered that I hate her (his?) puzzles.

TomAz 12:07 PM  

Why are Trump supporters always "Anonymous"? Too ashamed to leave any kind of identifying label? Always slow. The slow kids in school who became bullies are now protofascist a*holes hiding under the white hood of internet obscurity. They can all go f*** themselves.

Whew, it was nice to get that off my chest.

Today's puzzle was fine. I have found that the commercial exploitation of the 500th has been relatively light so the theme doesn't bother me at all.

(Sidebar: I was in London last week. They are already putting up Christmas decorations in Soho. And I thought it was bad here...)

Carola 12:08 PM  

Having grown up in a Wisconsin town of 4,000 that had 4 LUTHERan CHURCHes, along with 1 Methodist and 1 Catholic, I grew up assuming that Lutherans were the dominant religious group in the U.S. College quickly disabused me of that notion. Anyway - I thought this was a fine puzzle, with a dense theme that hits all the main points of the event and an engaging array of Downs.

Possilbe bonus theme answer: WAY, as in "I am the WAY, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6), i.e., not through INDULGENCES.

@BarbieBarbie, thank you for your response last night.

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

I would'f thought TomAz would have a larger net worth with that intellect.

Nancy 12:13 PM  

@Anon 12:04 -- You spent all that time today reading my comments over the course of an entire week? I'm so incredibly flattered, dear Anon. I would so like to return the favor. But I can't. I'm afraid I'd be too...bored.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

There's too much normalization of Trump in this puzzle (see 15A).

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

If anyone wants to see what I'm having for lunch, I've posted it on my Facebook.

Two Ponies 12:22 PM  

@TomAz 12:07,
I resemble that remark. I'm right here in broad daylight.
White hood? Such broad generalities and the use of the word "always" discredits the speaker as shallow and narrow-minded.

Ray Yuen 12:26 PM  

Easy for the Jesus lovers but for us atheist types, I had to claw through every bit of this puzzle, and eventually failed on the Wittenberg/Nhu cross. Witteeberg? Witterberg? Wittedberg? Wittelberg? Wittemberg? Wittepberg? Wittesberg? Wittetberg? Wittewberg? Wittexberg? Witteyberg?

Toughest Tuesday since I started solving...

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

TomAz will not be altering his appearance for Halloween - going as a snowflake.

old timer 12:29 PM  

Liked the puzzle. Remembered Madame NHU. What I don't remember is why the French spelled her name that way. Couldn't it have been "Nu"? Is the H there to tell you the U is pronounced like our U and not like the French U?

Ngo, however, is easy. NG = ny in French so it is Nyoh.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Ray - don't blame Jesus, or his believers for your ignorance. That's your own cross to bear.

Ray Yuen 12:34 PM  

I have no crosses to bear; that's the beauty of being atheist.

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Ok so All Saints is the name, but Cathedral Church is what the church is commonly called, to distinguish it from the so-called Town Church. This Luther College grad did some research....

SailorSteveHolt 12:53 PM  

@Anonymous 7:48 AM
I don’t like “special snowflakes.” On the other hand, I despise people who are so “triggered” by any whiff of morally complex topics that they reflexively dismiss them as “PC” nonsense by “SJWs.”

I’m not sure which part of Rex’s politically neutral post inspired your comment. For the future, though, you might want to get your subcultures straight to for your pithy observations to land. Portraits of food is a moribund hipster-ish phenomenon. A “special snowflake” accuses the photographer as a racist appropriating the food culture of marginalized ethnic folks. Also classism.

Hartley70 1:02 PM  

I appreciate a serious theme once in a while and today's qualified. I like to be remind of historical info I have long forgotten. I had no idea this was an anniversary. I didn't remember the town or the church or the name of the document, just that it was nailed to the door and apparently that is up for debate. While clever wordplay is a delight, dessert every night dulls the pleasure. I'm glad to have some roast beef too.

The complaint that MC cannot be a Scot, is relying on a generalization. There are SCADs of clan name variations beginning with MC.

As @evil doug predicted, here's a big harrumph to PASSRUSHER/RBIS. It wasn't a Natick, but I sure needed the crosses because it was sporty in both directions. I cry foul!

This was a much more interesting Tuesday than I expect from this day. Thanks!

Black Sun 1:06 PM  

Whatever your faith is or is not the Protestant Reformation was an event with great historical significance worthy of a theme on its 500th anniversary. Not agreeing with the details cannot undo it nor can tearing down monuments make it disappear.

SailorSteveHolt 1:08 PM  

Maybe I’m so liberal that I don’t even notice liberal bent, but which part of Rex’s post provoked so much conservative backlash and claims of politicization from the commentariat today?

Paul Rippey 1:09 PM  

Why is unreasonable for the constructor to expect people to know Madame NHU, who got a lot of press during the Vietnam war and whose name immediately came to my mind, and reasonable to expect people to know that Charlie SHEEN is in a TV show that I've never seen? And why is NHU ugly?

I enjoy good snark, but this is all so subjective, so much a product of one person's taste and "wheelhouse".

Joe Bleaux 1:13 PM  

Keep it simple: Wear a red necktie that reaches your inseam, and go as an asshole.

Teedmn 1:16 PM  

Having just read a piece in the New Yorker this past week about Martin Luther, I was able to slap down most of this pretty fast, though the article refers to the church as "Castle church" rather than All Saints. I did have a hiccup at the city, mixing up the Gutenberg bible with WITTENBERG - not hard to fix. As the article and Alex Eaton-Salners in his xwordinfo notes both mention, the whole pounding-on-the-door story is apocryphal.

I laughed out loud at @Rex's "11 NHU-free years" so fondly remembered. Nobody does hyperbole better than Rex.

I did like the clue for OBIT, 56D. I had Op-ed in at first, because they usually end up in the final pages of a newspaper section. Oh, that kind of end.

Thanks for the history lesson, AE-S.

Tessabelle 1:58 PM  

It is Ira Glass on NPR,not Ari...I am quite sure of that. Did I make an error in that fill that I haven't caught yet?

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

@carmela, a DOOK is a phrase that looks amusing without spaces.

BTW Someone here can't figure out why people give her a hard time. It's because she apparently posts and then sits in front of her screen all day, every day, waiting for someone to comment about her post, and then she posts again. Repeat. Sometimes close to 10 times. And only her first post is about the puzzle. The rest are always personal. Ugh. Get a clue.

Lewis 2:28 PM  

@birchbark -- There ain't no "right" way to enjoy a puzzle.

@evil -- I promise you, no smugness here, just a little lightness of spirit. I have no expectations. Have no idea where this is all going.

@carmela -- To add to what anon 2:04 said, a DOOK is a word that looks like another word, often nonsensical, because of the lack of the space. DOOK is the perfect example of it. It came from a puzzle (12/16/14), clued as "Scrape by", that is, DO OK.

tea73 2:30 PM  

@Ray Yuen, this atheist didn't find it terribly difficult. I learned about Luther in history classes, he's pretty important! Additionally I also read recently about the fact that it's probably just legend that the 57 theses were tacked on the door of a church. ALL SAINTS apparently - which I associated around here with Episcopalians.

I was afraid it was going to be SCAD and like Nancy, resisted writing it in until I was forced to.

Love the idea that carbon taxes are the modern form of indulgences. I really did laugh out loud.

While I prefer puns and rebus to historical trivia, I've got no object to having other themes from time to time. Not everything needs to be word play.

Carmela 2:32 PM  

@Anon 2:04,
Thanks. I'm guessing that came from Do O.K.

JC66 2:36 PM  


You're right, It's Ira Glass; but the clue asked for ARI Shapiro.

Anonymous 2:52 PM  

Quick survey: Which do you find more satisfying? Voiding your bladder or your bowels?

Devin W 3:14 PM  

That was easy once I read the wiki on the 95 theses. Not being one to study up on 1500s religious history, this was not something that was readily available in my mind.


Jeff 3:48 PM  

come on. pass rusher was great. indulgences, in my mind, is kind of the opposite of your definition, which is cool. i choose to indulge in scotch when i do the puzzle. i rarely think my punishment is reduced thusly.

Atari Cereal Martin 4:17 PM  

I would not have understood one word of this had I not been in Minnesota this week and the 500th anniversary was long front page news EVERY day this week! They take their Martin Luther seriously, donchaknow.

(When I was there about 6 weeks ago, there were 10 page spreads about the Minnesota State Fair every day I was there, so there's that.)

I liked HIJAB for it's craziness of letters, for the fact that I always spell it HAJIB and for it's shout out to another religion in a Protestant heavy theme.

I agree, usually the basic rule of crosswords is to have word play (thus the name of some blogs and movies!)
However, 500th anniversaries are big deals... and to have 10, 12, 15, 12, 10 is quite the feat with what I would say almost zero crosswordese...
tho I have to agree about the S (or lack thereof) on SCAD.

And yes, @John Q Public 11:56
Perfect! How clever! How right! Pitch it! Make it a musical called "Who Nhu" and it would rival Evita!!!!!!

Full confession (Do Lutherans confess? Or is that just a Catholic thing? Asking as a Minnesota Jewess) I wanted tHU... Is there some Thieu from same era? Am I thinking U Thant?

As for PASSRUSHER, yikes. That was a one letter at a time for me (SIGH)

And always the anagram reminder:

chefbea 4:43 PM  

@acme great post!!!

Cassieopia 4:46 PM  

I adored the puzzle. Agree that there is no SCAD, but no love for “Post production?” as the cross? There were a SCAD of themers in this educational puzzle. For those of us (on this erudite board, looks like I’m an n of one today...) lacking in religious history education, I learned something that I should know just to be a fairly literate person. A shout-out to PUGETSOUND and NOSEDIVE well.

I am a fan of Alex Eaton-Salners’ puzzles and this one is a nice example of why. Thank you for a memorable Tuesday!

Mr. Fitch 4:56 PM  

No he doesn’t.

Joe Dipinto 4:57 PM  

The Nhu York Times has been giving us All The Nhus That's Fit To Print, each Nhu day of each Nhu week of each Nhu year.

But we all Nhu that, so it's hardly Nhus. What else is Nhu?

Anonymous 5:16 PM  

And we all know that no Nhus is good Nhus.

Sam 5:41 PM  

Ohh sac flies made me mad when I couldn't get it and then mad when I revealed and finally understood.

Joe 6:00 PM  

Another clever Squeeze video! I loved this group back in the 80s, but somehow these early MTV videos are all new to me. (And I get it withe pizzle.) Thanks!

rjreimer 6:05 PM  

Nail then to the door of the NYT? Promises, promises, Rex. Why not post them here for the world in a **special** blog entry!

OISK 6:15 PM  

I don't care whose name appears in the puzzle. Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Nero - if the clue fits, wear it...but others here do, especially when the answer mentions anyone related to the Donald. For that reason, and not that I object to his being "honored" in The Times puzzle, I need to point out that Martin Luther was a vicious Jew-hater, and as an influential voice in the Reformation, his antisemitism undoubtedly affected the treatment of Jews long after his death. "Burn their schools and synagogues...prohibit Rabbis to teach on pain of death..." Jews killed Christian babies, they were dogs, "We are at fault for not slaying them."

I had no trouble with the puzzle, remember Madame Nhu, and have no objection at all to the theme. I thought it was a very easy Wednesday.

Mrs. Corsun 6:17 PM  

I guess I’m not competitive enough for all of you. I found Monday and Tuesday easy. I don’t like to complete the puzzle too quickly. I like to savor it. Am I the only odd Baal?

Mrs. Corsun 6:17 PM  

Odd ball

John Child 6:59 PM  

Odd Baal is better, IMO. Puzzles are intended to start easy on Monday and get progressively more difficult through the week. Personally I like Friday and Saturday puzzles because they take longer and help get the brain rust out. But those new to puzzles need a way to practice and see how crosswords work, and early-week puzzles serve that purpose. To make them more challenging try using only the down clues or entering answers without checking the crosses. (The latter is easy when solving electronically but gets messy with paper...)

old timer 7:07 PM  

No NHUs is good NHUs! Well done Anon! And reminiscent of the late Art Hoppe. Back in the 1960's I could not let a morning go by without reading my [SF} Chronicle. It was the glory era for newspaper columns -- Hoppe, Caen, McCabe, Gleason and the list goes on. Oh some of the best comic writers in earlier history published in daily papers: George Ade, Finley Peter Dunne, to name two. But the Chronicle represents the golden era for humorous columnists, and among them Hoppe was I think the best. In fact I am pretty sure he wrote that NHU wordplay back then.

aging soprano 7:18 PM  

Enjoyed reading the comments. Haven’t had a chance for a while.
Being Catholic or Atheist is no excuse not to know about the Reformation. I am a good Jewish girl and I found this puzzle really easy, even for a Tuesday. Yep, remembered the answers from high school history, WITTENBERG and all. Figured out ALL SAINTS from the crosses, HA ha, pun intended. Thank you, Rex, for clarifying the INDULGENCES bit.
I remembered Madame NHU too. Yes, she was always well dressed. They lived very well at their country’s and our expense, and were extrenely corrupt, which is why they were dethroned. Too many INDULGENCES. The comparison to Imelda Marcos was apt.
Remembered all that history and I’m not even an historian!

Joe Dipinto 7:25 PM  

@Rex -- psst, 1a MARTIN and 65a LUTHER also count as theme answers, I'm pretty sure.

Ham Chuck 8:09 PM  

I haven't seen the Vietnam War documentary yet but I plan to so please nobody tell me how it ends.

Anonymous 8:28 PM  

I don't want to anonymous, but this seems to be the only way I can post...

I'd like to know why Rex thinks clues about rappers and the Simpsons are ok but clues about historical events such as the Protestant Reformation or the Vietnam War (Madame Nhu is not exactly obscure for people who know something about it) are tiresome or arcane. I think both types of clues are fine...

Suzie Q 8:47 PM  

@Anon 8:28,
That's just life in RexWorld.

BarbieBarbie 8:48 PM  

@Anon 8:28, try clicking on View Web Version. You’ll get the same thing, this time on a yellow background. Go to the bottom again and click on Post A Comment. Now it turns white again and at the bottom you have more choices of ways to post.

This seems to be true on my iPhone, while on my iPad I get to the versatile-post blog right away. Such are the mysteries of iOS.

Anonymous 11:18 PM  

Thanks , Barbie Barbie, I tried this, but have the same problem.

Anonymous Michsel

thefogman 10:42 AM  

DNF'd this one. I was breezing through it like nobody's business and thought this was even easier than your average Monday puz. But then I got to the bottom and went with rHU instead of NHU. WITTENBURG? That one was NHU to me - and thus the DNF.

thefogman 10:44 AM  

Still getting this...


502. That’s an error.

The server encountered a temporary error and could not complete your request.

Please try again in 30 seconds. That’s all we know.

Burma Shave 11:35 AM  


and AWL the pope’s DOGMA didn’t mesh,
we need INDULGENCES of the FLESH.


spacecraft 11:48 AM  

First of all: ONCE AGAIN, Mr. (or Ms.) Syndi-linker, please, PLEASE be up to date on the cusp of the month! I can't tell you the hoops I had to jump through to get here! It's SO important!

@kitshef: One more Taftian anomaly: only president to have played golf EVERY DAY he was in office. He used golf balls painted red in the winter so he wouldn't lose them in the snow.

And now to the Grinch's--I mean, OFL's comment. If you consider one of the ten most pivotal events in human history boring, there's not a SCAD that would excite you. One can pretty much guess which constructors are your friends--and which are enemies. I'll bet a dollar to a nickel today's belongs in the latter group.

This is one of the most dense themes I've seen: 69 squares out of 189. And that doesn't even count DOOR or DOGMA. So if we have to stumble over a SCAD/HAAS or a NHU, that's understandable. Geez, give the guy a break!

Easy-peasy with just a couple of trouble spots; all the more impressive. For DOD is there any question? Didn't think so. JLO wins in a walk. Honorable mention to OLGA Korbut--or anyone who can bend her body like that.

I liked it, was duly impressed by it, and urge the Grinch to take a pill. Birdie.

BS2 11:51 AM  

How to make a MARTIN LUTHER tribute puzzle playful, clever, and thoughtful? See above.

spacecraft 12:04 PM  

Here we go again: the cusp of the month, and my syndilink is not there. I had to go "around by Funston's," as the locals used to say. PLEASE wake the lazy bum up!

@kitshef: Taft also played golf nearly every day he was in office, using red balls when it snowed. Ike played a lot (SCAD?), but not THAT often.

I sometimes cannot understand where OFL's downer comment is coming from. Personal enmity? How can you call one of the most pivotal events in human history boring? Every component is represented, covering 69 theme squares (not even counting DOOR or DOGMA). If that doesn't impress you I don't know what will.

Grouse about the fill? Sure, I wish I didn't have to deal with a single SCAD, or the cross (non-golfer) HAAS, or the total outlier NHU. But that's a tiny price to pay for what you get, IMHO. I mean, geez, give the guy a break!

This is my second, and final, try at posting; while you're waking up the linksman, could ya fix the server too? JLO is DOD, duh! Birdie.

rondo 12:14 PM  

Pretty much a walk in the park as I am one of those PROTESTANTs who had to practically memorize the entirety of LUTHER’s Small Catechism. And of course, MARTIN’s own story. A tiny stumble filling in WITTENBuRG, quickly fixed.

A one-time frequent caller to a local radio sports talk show had nicknamed his wife Madame NHU since she *knew* what was best for him or what he was up to. When he became a father his daughter became the *new* Madame NHU. So for years there were tales about Madame NHU and new Madame NHU. So NHU a gimme here. Who NHU sports talk could be so informative?

I think we have a choice between pop and country music yeah babies JLO and REBA.

Gotta like a puz with the missus’ name in it. YES sir.

Diana, LIW 1:32 PM  

The three years of Catechism class paid off today. Actually, we only had 2 years - our pastor got angry at one of the boys and cancelled classes our last year. What a fine role model, eh?

@Spacey - not sure why you have so much trouble when the Syndie button is off. How do you access the blog? On line? On a device? Eh? As you can see, both your posts showed up - just gotta wait a minute or two.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for posts

centralscrewtinizer 1:47 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
centralscrewtinizer 1:49 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
centralscrewtinizer 1:51 PM  

Cannot wait until next Halloween so I can exercise Joe Bleaux'x idea.

fakt chekker 1:56 PM

. . . Luther had previously written against the Church’s adherence to clerical celibacy, and in 1525 he married Katherine of Bora, a former nun. They had five children. . . At the end of his life, Luther . . . condoned polygamy based on the practice of the patriarchs in the Old Testament.

leftcoastTAM 2:30 PM  

A mix of gimmes, pausers, and a full, well-executed theme. Nothing missing here.

Fav themer: ALLSAINTSCHURCH. This the only one that didn't spring readily to mind.

Other noteworthies, a bit elusive:

*HIJAB, spelling.
*HAAS, good, young actor in a good movie.
*NHU, the bad dragon lady of Vietnam.


rainforest 3:20 PM  

What's wrong with a tribute puzzle, especially one that had me recalling my tenth grade Social Studies class. I'm surprised I remembered so much. It's the recent stuff that eludes my memory. What did I just say?

From the commenters I learned much that reinforces my anathema of all things religious, and don't get me started. However, clearly the REFORMATION was a biggie in European/World history, and so deserves something as minor as a crossword tribute.

Today's puzzle offered more than merely a tribute: very nice Downs, bonus themers, some nice clues, and even an answer deserving of a squint. SCAD, I'm looking at you, but hey, I accept you. All-inclusive here.

One great movie (Midnight Cowboy) and one very good movie (Witness) highlighted as well.
I approve this puzzle.

Scott McLean 6:21 PM  

Not a terribly tough Tuesday, with clean fill and and fair crosses - though I agree with everyone who proclaimed it “boring.” Look no further than DOOR as a theme answer.

For the life of me, I’ll never understand how people can be so passionate as to argue, fight, kill, die, protest, or write 95 theses over... fairy tales.

On the other hand, I’d rather have a fairy-tale themed puzzle than this. That would be SCADs more fun.

Didn’t know NHU, but after everything else was in place, I said “AH, I SEE that must be an H.” Had EmME before ESME - pretty much the only resistance in this snooze fest.

Scott McLean 7:20 PM  

Not a terribly tough Tuesday, with clean fill and and fair crosses - though I agree with everyone who proclaimed it “boring.” Look no further than DOOR as a theme answer.

For the life of me, I’ll never understand how people can be so passionate as to argue, fight, kill, die, protest, or write 95 theses over... fairy tales.

On the other hand, I’d rather have a fairy-tale themed puzzle than this. That would be SCADs more fun.

Didn’t know NHU, but after everything else was in place, I said “AH, I SEE that must be an H.” Had EmME before ESME - pretty much the only resistance in this snooze fest.

sdcheezhd 8:24 PM  

Maybe Rex would have been more impressed with the theme-heaviness if he hadn't missed 3 of them, although DOOR maybe counts as 1/2. As noted above, there are some good long answers, and none of the fill outrages Rex complains about the most. Even if you're not a child of the Vietnam war like me the Ken Burns documentary gives you Madame NHU; that complaint is just bizarre. I can't understand why he was so churlish about this one and I generally agree with him.

sdcheezhd 8:28 PM  

Maybe Rex would have be more impressed with the theme-heaviness of the puzzle if he hadn't missed 3 of them, although maybe DOOR counts as 1/2. As noted above the theme addresses a major anniversary of an important event, there are some good long answers and none of the fill outrage Rex complains of most is here. Even if you're not a child of the Vietnam War, the Ken Burns documentary can give you Madame NHU. I can't figure out why Rex was so churlish about this one and I usually agree with him.

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