German chocolate brand / THU 5-10-18 / PBS Kids cartoon aardvark / In any condition as outlaw

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Constructor: Caitlin Reed

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (5:09)

THEME: DEAD CENTER (51A: Bull's-eye ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) — black square at CENTER of puzzle represents the word "DEAD"; all answers leading into or flowing out of that center square require that "DEAD" to make sense:

Theme answers:
  • KNOCK 'EM (DEAD) (33A: "Break a leg!")
  • LEFT FOR (DEAD) (7D: Abandoned while there still might have been hope)
  • (DEAD) OR ALIVE (35A: In any condition, as an outlaw)
  • (DEAD) BEAT DAD (40D: Certain absentee parent)
Word of the Day: ORIEL (22D: Bay window)


a bay window, especially one cantilevered or corbeled out from a wall.
(in medieval architecture) a large bay window ofa hall or chamber. (
• • •

This was very easy once you picked up the theme. Picking up the theme might take you no time, or a little time, and so the puzzle is either Easy or Easy-Medium. I floundered in the NW at first, having *nothing* to do with the theme, so I kinda dug myself a hole. I also got a little back on my heels because, looking at the grid, I was thinking rebus, largely because there was no clear set of longer theme answers. There are some longer Across answers, but they didn't look long enough for a normal set, and when I struggle in the first corner I hit *and* the grid looks unusual, then I think rebus. And since I was thinking rebus (which wasn't *entirely* wrong in the end), I was going a bit slower than I might've been otherwise, poking around, trying to find the trick. Sadly, there's just one trick in the puzzle, and poking's not going to help you.

I got lucky, though, because I stumbled by chance down to the area where the revealer was, very early on. Still flailing, I wrote in ON A BET and RAT, and then figured 34D: Rifleman's ___ (part of Marine training) was DRILL (!?). The point was I put *something* in there, because putting *something* in meant I looked at the cross at 42A: Gaelic language, which I knew had to be ERSE, and then from the "R" cross got RIESEN, then ENS, and so finally got really decent traction, largely by accident, right where the revealer was. Got DEAD CENTER and still didn't think much about what it meant. Stumbled over to the east via TREVOR and finally saw it with OR ALIVE. Then I promptly went around and filled all the others in. And then the theme was just ... done. After that, just swept up the rest. That's the main problem with this theme; once you get it, it's got, and it goes down fast, and then there's ... nothing left but a kind of themeless. It's kinda nice that ON THE MONEY at least vaguely parallels DEAD CENTER in its meaning, despite the fact that it was nothing to do with the theme per se. Anyway, I have mixed feelings about this one, but ultimately I think it's a fine, cleanish grid, and the gimmick, such as it is, is interesting.

Maybe maybe it's a little over-reliant on the crosswordese, though I can't be too mad, as ERSE is what got me going. God bless ERSE. Fewer blessings, though, for ENS and EGADS and ORIEL ETA and EERIE ENT ABODE and NTH IBAR ISP and EELS O'ER ERIKA! It kinda adds up. I sorta like the colloquialness of REAL SOON, and I wanna like AA TEAM because I go to watch one play regularly, it's just ... "double A" is the phrase, and while I know that's what "AA" represents here, on paper it just looks like the local chapter of your recovery group has a softball team or something. Themewise, there's something depressing about DEADBEAT dad and something morbid about LEFT FOR DEAD. That's not a fault, but I could've used some kind of pick me up, somewhere in the grid. Anyway, I CAME, I FOUND IT, ISP. The end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


  • AFTRA = American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (18A: SAG partner). SAG-AFTRA is the name of the union (which is a member of AFL-CIO, if you wanna go all the way with the acronyms, initialisms, and crosswordese)
  • Lefty O'DOUL (50A: Baseball's Lefty) died in San Francisco 11 days after I was born ... also in San Francisco. Oh, and he was a pretty good ballplayer who went on to manage the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League for better than 15 seasons. He's in the Japanese Baseball Hall-of-Fame because he was instrumental in establishing pro baseball there. He has the highest career batting average (.345) of anyone eligible for the HOF who is not actually in it—4th all time behind Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, and Shoeless Joe Jackson. There's a restaurant and piano bar named after him on Union Square in S.F. Wow, I am learning a lot about Lefty O'DOUL tonight

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Brian 12:14 AM  

Cemetery could be another clue for Dead Center

puzzlehoarder 12:14 AM  

A nice looking puzzle but the theme was a DEAD give away. This was probably the fastest that I've ever gotten a theme and possibly a record Thursday time.

Calman Snoffelevich 12:27 AM  

ABODE is fill?

Larry Gilstrap 12:31 AM  

Definitely some classic crosswordese, ORIEL and ERSE were learned back in the dim past of early solving. Fine with me.

I'm no constructor, but even I recognize the symmetry on display here. ON THE MONEY balancing DEAD CENTER; Why not? My favorite kind of rebus doesn't require me to cram a bunch of letters in a too small box. Let's just put DEAD in The CENTER and let the black box handle the whole thing.

The Great Seal of California includes EUREKA, the Greek word for I have found it, referring,of course,to gold and the ensuing mad dash for instant wealth. I'll conjecture that folks made more MONEY through AFTRA than through prospecting.

Harryp 12:39 AM  

OFL is correct. When I saw "KNOCK EM, DEAD was inferred and the rest was easy. "One half of a strange case" was a nice clue, but the rest was early week fare.

RAD2626 1:00 AM  

Terrific debut. Congratulations.

Got KNOCK EM right away and DEAD CENTER soon thereafter so it made the other three pieces of the pinwheel fall quickly but good fill and cluing made it all enjoyable. Particularly liked the clue for MR. HYDE and the intersection of ON A BET and ON THE MONEY even if a mini dup.

TomAz 1:17 AM  

This puzzle was probably fine, but its wavelength and mine did not match. I don't even think it's fair of me to critique a puzzle like this. Parts of it might as well have been in Esperanto.

Getting the trick wasn't all that hard, but (some of) the rest? I like baseball a lot, but O'DOUL did not come to me until very late. ditto BEES (my own lame stumbling over a clever clue, I suppose). But TREVOR is unknown to me. FURY ROAD. ERIKA. ORIEL. These things are not in my universe, gettable on crosses but it was slow going.

ARTHUR I didn't know either, and having BLueS instead of BLAHS for the longest time certainly didn't help.

Finfine, mi trovis ĉi tiun tedaĵon, sed mi konvinkiĝis, ke mi estas duono.

jae 1:43 AM  

Easier than yesterday’s for me. Fine theme answers, very little dreck, but just a tad too easy for a Thurs., liked it. Nice debut!

...and I almost sure I had a beer in ODOUL’s bar sometime in the ‘80s.

a.corn 2:05 AM  

Wow, new Thursday record for me. Finished just over 10! Lost some time filling INABET and INTHEBLACK, but quickly correct went I got to northeast, and BAES instead of BEES for Honey bunches. Fun one, likely bc I crushed it...words just falling into place. A few IRKS (seamy? Erse? Blech) but was smooth sailing from the GET GO.

Loren Muse Smith 2:20 AM  

Like others, I saw the trick fairly early, and it was pretty easy. Neat idea with that center square. And I'm with @Larry on appreciating not having to cram any letters in.

Rex – my thoughts exactly on the folksy sound of REAL SOON.

Serendipity – The Oxford comma came up yesterday, and I was telling my class about the Oxbridge system of education and my experience going to a commemoration ball at ORIEL College in Oxford back in the ‘80s. I had a ghastly perm, a ghastlier gown. And we forgot about the two bottles of champagne we put on the top of the car while we got in, so they were flung off somewhere en route to the ball. And my date, Fabrice, was in a kilt. And he told me about the time some guy at ORIEL almost ate an entire pound of butter with a spoon. Almost. Didn’t end well. And another time at ORIEL when some guy (hopefully a different one but maybe not) passed out. His buddies disassembled his bed, reassembled it in the middle of town somewhere, and left him there asleep. [insert Oxford coma joke here] ORIEL is a happenin’ place.

“Big piece of sheet cake.” SLAB. If I’m cutting it myself and there are people milling around, it’s a modest little piece, the size of a personal package of Kleenexes. If no one’s looking, it’s the size of a paperback novel. But no icing flowers or anything. I hate those.

I liked the I FOUND IT / ON TV cross. Talk about yer way to lose money. I’m such an unbelievable sucker for any infomercial.

Caitlin – congrats on your debut! Fine puzzle. Don’t you wish you could wear a placard all day announcing it to the world? (Ok – maybe one minute you wish this and then the other you just want to hide under the bed all day.)

chefwen 2:22 AM  

I had no idea what was going on until I stumbled upon 51A which was fairly early in the game as I have a tendency to hop all over the grid as opposed to left to right , top to bottom. After that reveal, pretty dang easy.

Not paying attention to numbers put STARR in at 10D for my Fab Four guy, well the S and A worked for a while, finally realized my mistake.
DOH! FURY ROAD filled in from downs only.

Fun puzzle, just a wee bit too easy. No doubt I’ll pay the price tomorrow.

JOHN X 3:41 AM  

Very easy puzzle. I just knew every answer. I did this puzzle on an airplane over southern Utah and I was also high on the airplane. Took a nice big hit of perfectly legal California recreational weed before the short drive to LAX. Went through security stoned. I'm in seat 1A so not only am I the senior ranking passenger I am also the spokesman for the passengers should the press need an interview.

P.S. Clicking the "I'm not a robot" check box affirms my humanity.

Charles Flaster 5:08 AM  

As others have said, very easy and just kept writing.
Agree that ORIEL is classic case of CROSSWORDease.
Liked cluing for BEES and ENS.
Kismet is a wonderful musical I have always enjoyed.
I wonder if any baseball historians will write Lefty grOve for Lefty ODOUL.
Anyway this was a terrific debut for CR and should have been offered on Wednesday.
Thanks again CR.

Lewis 6:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:28 AM  

@rex -- I like your "Explainers" section!

I am still amazed when, after a gazillion crossword puzzles published, a theme comes across that should have already been thought of before, but, amazingly, hasn't. Like today's. It's simple and elegant, and DEAD CENTER is such a common phrase. It gives me hope that themes will never run out, that, like weeds, they will continue to pop up, gloriously alive. Plaudits to Caitlin for rooting this one out!

"Radish" before ENDIVE and "blues" before BLAHS, a mini-theme of double E's (6), and some lovely answers: TIMBRE, GLINT, DOODLE, AFRAID SO. TIMBRE and GLINT, especially, as they both feel indirect somehow, to counter the DEAD CENTER and ON THE MONEY vibe of the theme.

Caitlin, ain't it drop-dead grand to now be in the company of such illustrious constructors? Enjoy this day, and thank you for this sweet gallop on the grid!

BarbieBarbie 6:35 AM  

Fun puzzle but published on the wrong day; fastest Thursday ever by 25%. @editor: just omitting the neon arrow pointed at the themer clue doesn’t make a Tuesday puzzle into a Thursday.

Very cute theme! More please.

Hungry Mother 6:39 AM  

Right on my wavelength today. I usually don’t have problems with missing words because I’m willing to accept very bizzare abbreviated phrases such as KNOCKEM. Very quick solve.

Lauren Gray 6:56 AM  

Calman: (it's all fill.)

Roo Monster 7:04 AM  

Hey All !
Nice puz. I FOUND IT rather easy. Agree with Wednesday-ish. Doesn't seem rebus-y enough for a ThursPuz. Technically, four rebi, but only one square. IMHO. :-)

One writeover, hEAd-BEAN. BEAN being the better answer.

Our favorite Mayor here in Las Vegas got to SERVED OUT status. 12 years as Mayor. Oscar Goodman. Now, his wife, Carolyn, is Mayor! She has two more terms if the voters want it.


Glimmerglass 7:16 AM  

I got the theme early and was able to fill in [DEAD] BEAT DAD off just the B. For some silly reason, I convinced myself that [DEAD] ON THE MONEY was part of the theme and wasted time looking for others. I was very impressed when I finally saw that all the hidden DEAD were in one center square. I was amused driving across the South in the 60’s (with my Massachusetts license plate) to hear, “Y’all come back REAL SOON,” from gas station attendants who would be delighted never to see me again.

Calman Snoffelevich 7:18 AM  

Meant to write crosswordese.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

Is the other half of a Spanish union SENOR B?

Lefty O’DOUL had an interesting career. In addition to all that Rex said, he was a major league pitcher before a sore arm forced him to switch to the outfield, and he coached Joe DiMaggio in the minors.

QuasiMojo 7:47 AM  

I was gonna say how nice and easy this one was for a Thursday until I realized I had a DNF! I had TERMED OUT. I liked the idea of someone named TREMOR. And didn't get the Spanish union clue. I was thinking maybe TENORA meant treaty. Don't ask. But I will ask @LMS, what's up with your avatar today? "Never gonna grow up"? I love Maude Adams.

Teddi and Teddy 7:49 AM  

Had Beatle for Fab Four guy for the not so longest time. (?!) but managed to record time through after Lennon was made obvious by crosses. Loved AA team, eerie, good doubles!

ghthree 8:13 AM  

I had VERY SOON before REAL SOON (2 DOWN), BEATLE before LENNON (11 DOWN) and GOMEZ before ODOUL (50 DOWN). Never heard of RIESEN (43 DOWN), so I wound up with RIESES (mislead by REESES pieces). A nice AHA moment when I grokked the theme, but too late to help much in the solve.

Outside The Box 8:27 AM  

Saw “Lefty” and immediately answered “Grove.” But that didn’t work with “Trevor” but the “o” in Trevor gave me Odoul. Then took off from there.

Z 8:29 AM  

@QuasiMojo - Today’s theme is DEAD CENTER and Muse is oft subtle.

Hand up for being mildly disappointed at getting the theme too early. It’s a great theme, but if you get it early the rest of the puzzle is just an easy themeless. Fortunately, the ese did not overwhelm since there was enough freshness here. That’s quite possibly a result of my solving pattern, the ese just didn’t register because lots of it was mostly filled. I can imagine the esey fill being IRKSome for some, but not here.

Anyone else get a wry smile upon finding Mr. Ono in the puzzle?

Debut? Congrats. I’m hoping to see more soon.

GHarris 8:41 AM  

Mostly easy but fun. Only brief hang up, I wanted "on target something " for21A. Still,dnf because I didn't know the "s" in isp.

mmorgan 8:42 AM  

Huh. I enjoyed this puzzle a lot, and finished it fairly quickly -- I figured out early on that I had to supply the word DEAD either before or after the answer... but somehow I entirely missed the fact that the word DEAD came literally through the center square! (Not sure whether to say "Huh!" or "Duh!".)

@Charles Flaster: yes, Kismet is a wonderful, wonderful musical (at least the music -- the book can seem a bit "strange" today). I remember seeing it with Alfred Drake (himself!) in Boston in the mid-60s, and had the pleasure of performing in it in a large production about 10 years ago.

Mohair Sam 8:54 AM  

Easy solve (we got the theme quickly). NICE IDEA for a theme - "Why didn't I think of that?" for a lot of constructors I'll bet. Chuckling that a stay-at-home Mom clues ARTHUR off a PBS kids' show.

@Brian (12:14) - Great clue.

@Z - Nice catch on Ono/LENNON.

If your Doctor ever sentences you to life without beer do not, I repeat do not, try ODOUL's non-alcoholic. The stuff is as horrific as it is ubiquitous. Almost every restaurant you visit will offer only one N.A. beer and it will be ODOUL's. Have a Sprite, or (like me) order a Shirley Temple.

Awesome debut Caitlin Reid - keep 'em coming.

mathgent 8:58 AM  

Before the Giants came to San Francisco, we had a Triple-A team here, the San Francisco Seals. Lefty O'Doul managed them for around twenty-five years. Then he opened a bar on Geary Street by Union Square. Visiting ball players would often hang out there.

Once in the sixties, when he was in his prime, Don Drysdale came to town with the Dodgers. A friend of mine was at O'Douls one night and saw Drysdale there. Drysdale closed out the place and was reeling as he left. He was pitching against the Giants the next afternoon. My friend placed a hefty bet on the Giants to win. Drysdale shut them out on six hits.

By the way, O'Doul's closed last year.

An OK puzzle but not enough crunch.

Stanley Hudson 9:03 AM  

This is Caitlin’s debut? What a fine puzzle—looking forward to more from her.

I believe Lefty O’Doul’s on Union Square is no longer in operation, unfortunately. Good Bloody Marys as I recall.

Mohair Sam 9:13 AM  

@Charles Flaster and @mmorgan - Kismet? When I was a teenager my big sister was in love with "Kismet" and played the Original Cast LP non-stop for approximately three years. I hate the show, as far as I'm concerned it's a one-song wonder (very) loosely based on "Lady Chatterley's Lover".

ArtO 9:13 AM  

An easy Thursday which brought to mind the Peggy Lee song..."Is that all there is?" Kind of simple but good clean fun.

Two Ponies 9:31 AM  

I liked the theme but besides those four answers the rest of the puzzle was Play-Doh and crayons.

JC66 9:42 AM  


Maybe find another doctor. 😂

Jamie C 9:47 AM  

Great debut! Congratulations and thank you Caitlin!

Nancy 9:48 AM  

That's it? One square? Yes, it was a nice square. Yes, it was a somewhat inspired idea for a square. Yes, I may have smiled to myself as I picked up on the square. I may have even breathed a tiny "Aha". But it's one square...and it's Thursday. And it only served to make the puzzle easier than it already was. The rest of the puzzle was a snoozefest, with a handful of clues that were exceptions. I liked those for EAR (16A); MR HYDE (13D); ENS (61A) and EGG (57D). I especially liked the clue for DOODLE (46D), except that it was inaccurate. When you're really bored, one DOODLE is never enough. (Unless you're Picasso and working on something Big.)

I think this constructor may have potential. But this puzzle wasn't good enough or challenging enough for a Thursday.

SJ Austin 9:54 AM  

I remember when the Portland Sea Dogs were founded as Maine's new AA TEAM. Several of those first players went on to have very good Major League careers. Charles Johnson and Edgar Renteria come to mind. I still remember CJ hitting homers and lighting up the lighthouse in center field. Anyway, now they're a Red Sox affiliate, boooo.

I liked this puzzle a lot. Clever cluing in a few places and a cool grid-based theme.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

I wonder of @LMS has a nom de plume for her off-comments writings and what she might think of JD Vance's book.

I had gEorge, Eye, jekYll (sp?) in first but could see that made for some impossible crosses. Was weirdly confusing MO-ni-TOR with MODERATOR for a time.

The Creed 10:08 AM  

The Rifleman's Creed in question:

"This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than the enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will. My rifle and I know that what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, or the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit.

"My rifle is human, even as I am human, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other.

"Before God I swear this creed. My rifle and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.

"So be it, until victory is America’s and there is no enemy"

Adds new meaning to the DEAD in the center.

Nancy 10:10 AM  

Gee, the blog is interesting today:

Who knew that @Loren attended Oxford? Maybe she's mentioned it before, but I don't remember it. (Of course, as the late Nora Ephron said: I REMEMBER NOTHING). Anyway, tell us more, Loren. I'm all EARs.

Absolutely wonderful and juicy (pun intended) Don Drysdale story, @mathgent (8:58). I would have made the same bet and lost big, too.

@mmorgan (8:42) -- You performed in a "large production" of KISMET about ten years ago? So, who are you? I went to your profile, but it told me nothing. It didn't even help me figure out whether you sang soprano or baritone :) Much less whether you're a musical theater professional or not. I'm all EARs for your story, too.

Warren Howie Hughes 10:21 AM  

"Allo, EERIE Dearies, You're ABODE to enter the DEAD Crossword Puzzle Zone" Heh Heh Heh

Carola 10:24 AM  

LEFT FOR left me with "Okay, whatever." Then I got to KNOCK EM and the gratifying I FOUND IT of theme comprehension. I add. my plaudits to the constructor for the idea and elegant construction.

Jason Ball 10:28 AM  

No trouble with the theme answers, but the Southeast made it a DNF for me. ENDIVE, RIESEN, ERSE... ugh.

GILL I. 10:30 AM  

I liked the puzzle and I guess it liked me. KNOCKEM finally gave me the DEAD CENTER and the rest went in with all the other dead. I would have liked a DEAD HEAD.
Spent many an hour at O'DOULS in SFO. Our office was on Union Square and after work we'd head for a beer or, In my case, a scotch and watch everyone get pasted. Every wannabe Irishman would be there on a Friday and songs would break out. I bet @Loren's kilted friend stopped by. They had some good pastrami but that was about it. Fun atmosphere. They closed because of the landlords wanting to increase the rent which went through the roof. Every single San Francisco landmark that relies on a landlord will probably have to shut down. Greed - such fun. ruining my once beautiful City.
Caitlin. Wonderful debut. Despite the crosswordese complaints from OFL, you had lots of things that let out a GLINT. Loved your DOODLE clue. I use to do that a lot during Latin or listening to my boss tell everyone how we had to increase sales blah blah blah. We couldn't wait to head out to the I BAR and sing an Irish jig.

QuasiMojo 10:31 AM  

Okay, @Z, thanks for the hint. I still don't get it. haha. I used to have a collection of real photo postcards of Maude Adams. She was quite fetching in her pre-Peter Pan days.

@Mohair Sam, is KISMET the one based on Borodin's music? How is that even related to Lady Chatterley's Lover? (Love the movie with Nicholas Clay, btw!) And you are sure right about O'Doul's. Clausthaler is much better.

Ellen S 10:47 AM  

I did the same puzzle as @Rex, but I gave it four stars. I thought it was clever enough that I didn’t even mind the EELS!!

Warren Howie Hughes 10:49 AM  

I say, Rex Old Chum, You rate this Thursday Puz an Easy-Medium...I'm sorry to inform you, but you're DEAD wrong!

Hungry Mother 10:51 AM  

I’m a left-hander who spent his first 12 years in the Bay Area. I was a fan of the San Francisco Seals and the Oakland Acorns, Lefty O’Doul and the Dimaggio brothers. My left-handedness is a result of brain damage according to a former colleague in the Psychology Department. I think in a quirky manner, jumping across logical gaps as if there were a connection. I used to worry before each lecture that I would totally lose my students with my strange reasoning. When I saw all of the faces go blank (often), I would try to approach the matter differently. In school, I used to dread “blue books” because I could rarely get past half of page one. It wasn’t until I had finished graduate scholl that a left-handed colleague advised me to always write with a keyboard to wake-up the verbal hemisphere. It sometimes works.

Loren Muse Smith 10:56 AM  

@Quasi – it's dead, center

MauDE ADams

@Nancy – nope – didn’t go to Oxford. Just dated a guy…

Z 11:00 AM  

@QuasiMojo - You’re going to go “D’Oh” when you see it. Thinking of Maude Adams as a reverse DOOK might help you. And remember, today’s theme is DEAD CENTER. That’s absolutely the last hint I’m giving. Or you could look below.

sɯɐ pɐǝp nɐɯ

jberg 11:06 AM  

Yeah, definitely a NICE IDEA -- also a Neat IDEA potentilly, but that didn't work out. In addition to the bonus ON THE MONEY, I liked the I-BAR next to the TEE, and the RAT next to the BEES.

I had dinner at Lefty O'DOUL's once, which helped me get that one -- otherwise I'd have been left waiting for the crosses. I did need the crosses for that candy maker. even when I had RIESE_ -- was it N, R, or S?

But I don't care what says -- it's not an ORIEL unless it bulges out from the wall all by itself, whereas a bay window is part of a bay.Two different methods of letting look out the window and see the side of your house.

@QuasiMojo, thanks for explaining who Maude Adams is, I had no idea. @Loren, I don't know how you think of these things!

Doug 11:11 AM  

I had a lot of fun with this puzzle, despite my mishaps. Had BLUES instead of BLAHS. Had STEPSDOWN instead of SERVEDOUT. GLEAM instead of GLINT. BEAM instead of IBAR. But what really got me was the baseball's left clue. I kept thinking GROVE instead of ODOUL. Once I figured out the knock em dead or alive theme I figured it out. This is the kind of puzzle I like. Took me awhile but what the hey.

Thomaso808 11:12 AM  

Big congrats to Caitlin Reid on a debut puzzle! Great theme, good construction. Yes, a little on the easy side for Thursday, but I loved it.

I counted the squares and confidently entered GEORGE, before LENNON.

I appreciated Rex’s noodling at the end about Lefty O’Doul. There are so many interesting stories in baseball that don’t get told. The Tokyo team the Yomiuri Giants are so named because of Lefty, the team of Sadaharu Oh, the Babe Ruth of Japan. I love Lefty’s quote about him being Joe DiMaggio’s manager: “I was just smart enough to leave him alone."

@Lewis, great comments. Yes to human ingenuity finding an endless source of new and interesting themes!

@LMS, you can pass your icing flowers to me, thank you. BTW my daughter got married last Saturday and for our father / daughter dance I crossed off the polka on my (your) bucket list. It wasn’t pretty, but we were both smiling and having a great time throughout. I didn’t die, though my cousin had 911 cued up.

Roo Monster 11:24 AM  

Alright @Z, how the heck do you write upside down?? I can barely write the correct way!


Nancy 11:28 AM  

Re: The Rifleman's CREED -- lovingly spelled out for us at 10:08 (when I was busy typing my 2nd post):

OMG -- Is this a culture that loves its guns or what? Loves them more than its spouses and significant others; more than its children; more than its homes and land; more than the sun, the sky, the moon and the stars taken together. OMG, what an appalling CREED. Pornographic in the eroticism of its wording; horrifying in the fanaticism of its message. To the blogger who shared this with us -- it's a real eye-opener and makes the gun worship at the heart of much of the country truly palpable. I, for one, had absolutely no idea.

Z 11:37 AM  

@Roo Monster - I knew it could be done so I called on Uncle Google and found I don’t know if it was an iPad issue or what, but I had to play around a little to copy and paste the text, actually copying the ǝpoɔ lɯʇɥ the first time.

Charles Flaster 11:39 AM  

Sounds like a wonderful experience.
Love the whole score!!

Joe Mike 11:49 AM  

Congrats to Caitlin on a NICE IDEA for a debut.

Something nifty about the phrase KNOCK 'EM DEAD OR ALIVE.

Was expecting more DEADs since (DEAD) ON THE MONEY could also be a themer, but it didn't pan out in either direction.

Used to have lunch at Lefty O'Doul's off Union Square until it closed recently. Best Cobb salad around with fresh carved turkey.

Agree with @Gill that greed is destroying the charm and magic of San Francisco. Thanks, Google, Facebook, and Twitter and all you twenty something millionaires who don't know the value of a dollar. Hope you are enjoying your soy lattes

Kimberly 11:52 AM  

I miss Thursdays. Remember Thursdays? They were awesome. Sigh.

Banana Diaquiri 11:53 AM  

Lefty is Grove. he pitched for the Sauux. there is no other.

Mr. Benson 11:54 AM  

I found this super-easy, and seemed to have had nearly the opposite experience from Rex: I sailed through most of the grid, starting in the NW, but got hung up a little in the SW. Even that didn't cost me more than about 30 seconds, though. The Thursday gimmick was obvious to me from the start.

As I've said before, though, my definition of "super-easy" is relative. I do the puzzle on paper, on the bus to work, and never time myself, but I'm pretty sure it was more than 5:09. (Timing would be dicey: I have to pause when we go over bumps, stop short, etc.) But, using the "what landmark am I near when I finish?" test, it was about equal to a normal Tuesday for me.

jb129 12:00 PM  

Fun puzzle - thank you Caitlin.

Warren Howie Hughes 12:03 PM  

Banana Diaquiri, Merely as an AFTRA thought, Let's not overlook Lefty GOMEZ, a most appropriate name, BTW, befitting this undeniably DEAD outing by SENORA Reid! Heh Heh Heh

Warren Howie Hughes 12:21 PM  

Oh, BTW Rex, Is our Thursday Constructors last name Reid or Reed, being spelled two different ways in today's Crossword?

Anoa Bob 12:39 PM  

I thought 21A ON THE MONEY, clued as "Well aimed", should be considered part of the theme, since it is synonymous with and symmetrically opposite from DEAD CENTER (51A).

I BAR (30A) has appeared over 70 times in the Shortz era and each and every time it has been clued along the lines of today's "Skyscraper support". I maintain that the only place where I BAR is a support is in crossword grid construction. For buildings and bridges and such, it's I BEAM. I BAR would be a good name for a watering hole for narcissists.

Masked and Anonymous 12:40 PM  

Primo, different theme idea. Liked this puppy a lot. Thoooo … Almost a smidge too eazy-E, somehow, for a ThursPuz theme, as others have mentioned. Maybe throw in a couple extra DEADheads or DEADends or somesuch?? Chuck in a DEADgiveaway somewheres?
Anyhoo … Not the luvly constructioneer's fault that this coulda been a feistier WedPuz contender … And M&A hates to beat a DEADhorse ... And this is a DEADtorights great puz.


staff weeject pick: ENT. But, M&A says let these poor tree varmints be for awhile, and let's have a nice, fresh and extra-spanky ThursPuz ENT clue. How'bout … maybe … {Part of a bent vent??}? *

Thanx and de(ad)but congratz, Caitlin Reid darlin. Come back from the DEAD with another superb puz, real soon.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


* See 35-Across/38-Down collusion area. [Sorry, I can't do upside-down hints, like the mighty Z-beast.]

Mohair Sam 1:04 PM  

@Quasi - Love affair between Lady of the House and the gardener (at least she thinks he is). Close enough for me, I did say very loosely based.

@The Creed (10:08) Thanks for posting that.

@Nancy (11:28) - The Creed is part of Marine training. If you are an 18-year-old kid expected to lead the charge against enemies of your country who are determined to kill you - then you better love and care for your rifle more than anything on earth. It is very much a part of you, and if you neglect it you'll probably die. The Creed pounds that into them.
@Anyone who read the above and steamed - Save it, I'm an advocate of very strict gun control.

Teedmn 1:14 PM  

ORIEL posed no problem for me - we have a 4-paneled ORIEL as our front picture window. I've always wished I could have a window seat in the space in front of it but it would involve too many architectural changes, and then you couldn't have furniture in front of it because you would need access to the window seat. And with my luck, it would then be too uncomfortable (cold, no back support) to actually use so I leave it at a NICE IDEA, but impractical.

I had the Monday BLueS. Back when I worked for a small newspaper, we would get ads for BLue Monday happy hour specials so BLueS made sense to me. I guess I should have realized that no aardvark would have a name starting with U :-).

And I had 4D as TIMBor at first. I think I mixed up TaMBour (a drum) with TIMBRE. Once I got MODERATOR, that got fixed.

With D_O_L_ in at 46D, I really wanted DrOoLs for a boring meeting output (I tend to nod off easily) but EDDIE Van Halen got in the way of that.

This puzzle has a GLINT of brilliance, and I hope Caitlin Reid continues to produce puzzles. Congratulations on the debut!

Warren and No Peace 1:22 PM  

@Nancy, war isn't a tea party, although I agree with your comments on the puzzle.

And no one commented on the fact that the answer to 21A is Money and the clue for 21D contains the word Money, or did I miss it? Because that's just sort of sloppy.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

Nice puzzle!

re: 50A. My first Lefty was Gomez. He can join Odoul and Grove as five-letter lefties. There are probably more.
Anon. i.e. Poggius

QuasiMojo 1:47 PM  

Thank you @Loren and Z I would never have thought of that. I was thinking maybe Maude was in a play with the theme name. Very clever LMS! The Bond girl Maud Adams doesn’t work as well... lol.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

@Anoa Bob: A BAR is a structural element which supports axial loads only. Unless it's round, in which case it's a rod. A BEAM is structural element which supports axial and/or transverse loads, and it can be round. Every BAR is a BEAM, but not every BEAM is a BAR and the distinction is sometimes useful.

Jordy Carpenter 2:38 PM  

Ugh. I know of more than a few unions without any SENIORAs, Will Shortz.

I know, it's a small thing, but it's also just so unnecessary.

George 3:42 PM  

As soon as I got to the center I thought to myself, 'Yay! Rex is going to post a [DEAD]ORALIVE video! And, sure enough, he did!

Two Ponies 7:32 PM  

I thought the words to the Creed inspiring and patriotic. It was all about duty and love of country. In another time you could have substituted sword for rifle to get the same effect.
To me it reads nothing about the weapon at all.

Hungry Mother 4:08 PM  

I remember bayonet training in Army Basic Training. We had to scream “Kill wothout mercy!” For the whole session.

Jeff 4:53 PM  

Technically, Shoeless Joe Jackson is not eligible for the Hall of Fame

spacecraft 10:44 AM  

The nature of the theme restricts it to four entries, but ONTHEMONEY is a goodish attempt to add another. I give props. The only downside is maybe not quite enough crunch for your typical Thursday--but as others have recently pointed out, ease shouldn't actually be a fault.

Was it fun to do? Sure. Ms. Reid has a NICEIDEA here. IFOUNDIT satisfying, and so I score it birdie. Congrats to first-time DOD ERIKA Christensen. And finally, I hope the Mick sheds his six U.S. Open runner-up finishes and gets it done this time. KNOCKEMDEAD, Phil!

thefogman 11:15 AM  

Nice puzzle. The themers form the crosshairs of a scope aiming for DEADCENTRE.

thefogman 11:27 AM  

By the way I'm not a fan of guns, but even so the puzzle was well constructed and fun to solve.

Burma Shave 12:29 PM  


when ICAME up with a NICEIDEA:
I SERVEDOUT TEE with real BEES honey


thefogman 1:29 PM  

EDIT - Correction. Make that DEADCENTER.

Diana,LIW 2:30 PM  

Not only did I dnf, but if I had gotten those EELS I'da had the South complete. Sure - I get KARMA, VAULTING, ODOUL (!), SIREN and FURY ROAD but not EELS. What's in store for the rest of the day?

Well, I'll tell you what. I managed to find some (spendy) Copper River Salmon for din din - that's what. That's a "no lose" day in my book. (The Copper River "season" was very short this year.)

Diana, LIW

leftcoastTAM 2:43 PM  

Got the DEAD theme early enough with OR ALIVE, then found the revealer and the other DEATHs. Quite clever, grim but fun.

Some slow-going with the fill: REseT before REFIT, spelling of TIMBRE, George before LENNON, Ot (off track betting) before ONABET.

Most ink spilled on LEFTY Gomez and Grove before ODOUL.

Puzzle was a NICE IDEA and not so easy.

rainforest 2:51 PM  

I thought this was a lovely puzzle. Easy/medium for me, but so enjoyable. I think the joy mostly came from persisting in the centre North, with help from the NE, until LEFT FOR appeared. At that point I thought "that black square must stand for DEAD". So, and I rarely do this, I searched the clues until I found the one for the revealer. Yes! DEAD CENTER (centre misspelled). Thus was the game up, and I happily completed the rest. the NW coming last.

Lotsa fun. Nice debut. Clever idea. Cute, pert. Toot, squirt. Har.

thefogman 3:26 PM  

At the 30 second mark...

Neat. Sweet. Petite...

rondo 4:29 PM  

Can never spell RIESEN, BLueS before BLAHS, yeah baby ERIKA, very NICEIDEA for a semi rebus puz. Golf night so I gotta KNOCKEMDEAD.

Anonymous 12:56 AM  

Nice puzzle, but it was a grind for me - took an hour or so of write, erase, take break, etc. Never got the entire theme until near the end. Then it all came together.

And hey Diana LIW - Thanks for the tip about Copper River Salmon. Never had heard of it before but what a delicacy. Might have it for a special occasion once a year or so.

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