Dense megalopolis that includes Hong Kong Macau Guangzhou / WED 7-4-18 / Indian state that exports tea / Macbeth's Scottish burial isle / Plants also known as ladies fingers

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Constructor: Freddie Cheng

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (though my wife had to explain to me how NUMBERS fit the theme... even though I now notice that the theme clues themselves tell you ... this is why I don't typically solve first thing in the morning) (3:47)


THEME: HAPPY FOURTH (60A: Annual greeting ... or a hint to the ends of 17-, 26-, 39- and 48-Across) — ends of themers are the fourth in a series of ... something:

Theme answers:
  • EVEN NUMBERS (17A: Identifications on left-hand pages, traditionally [the Bible])
  • PRIME TIME (26A: Setting for a popular show [dimensions])
  • PEARL RIVER DELTA (39A: Dense megalopolis that includes Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou [Greek alphabet])
  • BRUNO MARS (48A: Singer with the 2017 Album of the Year "24K Magic" [planets])
Word of the Day: GORAN Ivanisevic (45A: Tennis great Ivanisevic) —
Goran Ivanišević (Croatian pronunciation: [ɡǒran iʋanǐːʃeʋitɕ]; born 13 September 1971) is a retired Croatian professional tennis player and current tennis coach. He is the only person to win the men's singles title at Wimbledon as a wildcard. He achieved this in 2001, having previously been runner-up at the championships in 19921994 and 1998. Before the 2001 tournament, he was ranked 125th and after his victory he was 16th. His career-high singles ranking was World No. 2 (behind Pete Sampras) in 1994. He coached Marin Čilić from September 2013 to July 2016, leading Čilić to his biggest achievement to date, the 2014 US Open title. (wikipedia) (emph mine)
• • •

Not nearly tight enough, or fourthy enough, for a holiday puzzle. PRESS is the fourth estate. MADISON is the fourth US president. There are lots of things that are the "fourth" of something, is what I'm saying. Why these? As I noted above, I had no idea how NUMBERS was the fourth of anything because I somehow (!?) failed to read the ends of every theme clue (the part with the brackets that explains the frame of reference). Googled all the others with [___ is the fourth...] and the autosuggestion confirmed the answer every time. Googled [NUMBERS is (and "are") the fourth...] and the autosuggestions all thought I wanted something about exponents (i.e. the fourth power). I'd hardly call NUMBERS *iconically* fourth. The fact that the first answer was number-related and the second themer had PRIME in it had me slightly confused too, for a bit, after I was done. "FOURTH ... NUMBERS ... PRIME ... wait, four isn't a prime ..." I also sincerely, ALBEIT briefly, thought TIME was the "fourth" word in "Once Upon A TIME." I mean, it is—demonstrably so—so I'm going to say my interpretation is correct, and all y'all can keep shouting "it's the fourth *dimension*!", I don't care.


1-Across Dread is a real thing, and today I had it. That's when the first answer you put in (for me, usually 1-Across) is some piece of OVERDONE crosswordese that makes you go, "Oh, no, one of these puzzles..." ASSAM is *real*, but it is also a grid weed from a bygone era, almost always clued in relation to tea (as here). Perhaps you, a constant solver, have never bothered to locate ASSAM on a map, so here you go.

[wishbone-shaped!]

The point here is not whether ASSAM itself is acceptable; the point is that hitting crosswordese prevalent in a bygone era right off the bat presages a pretty stale grid, and I'd say that presage was largely borne out, though nothing here made me truly groan—except OKRAS, plural, wtf? ... I just had the most ridiculous OKRAS conversation with my wife. Me: "is OKRA a plant? I mean, we eat the pods, right? Does anyone ever deal with the rest of the 'plant'?" Her: "And isn't OKRA plural? 'I cooked some OKRAS'? No, it's OKRA, singular, OKRA, plural." She was saying OKRA a lot and I really wish I'd recorded it. The entire conversation became nonsensical, kind of like plural OKRAS is nonsensical. By the way, what is it with lady's fingers as a metaphor. They're cookies! They're OKRAS! It's a weird metaphor fetish, or metaphetish, a NEOlogism I hand-crafted just for you.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

70 comments:

mmorgan 8:25 AM  

Whew, I was waiting for Rex's write-up. I finished the puzzle (fairly easily) but had no clue how the revealer fit the clues or the theme. Now I see. OKay, but no fireworks.

Small Town Blogger 8:28 AM  

I think this would have been a lot more interesting if they left out the explanatory hints (Bible, dimensions, etc) so you would have to figure out what each was the 4th of.

Anyway, Happy 4th everyone, not looking forward to the inevitable neighborhood fireworks - drives my poor dogs crazy!

michiganman 8:30 AM  

This was a very clever way of celebrating the FOURTH without any of the usual pseudo patriotic drek. (gonna be offended? DONTDOIT. I love the USA.) Very enjoyable solve with plenty of challenge to be interesting. Really liked the theme. My best memories of childhood come from the 4th of July. We started with a breakfast picnic at a local lake, went to the carnival at the fairgrounds, had a supper picnic with family friends, did sparklers, and then went to the fireworks show. It was always my job to put out the flag (the Sox, Sox, and Jays. )[see 7/3 puzzle]. Good stuff. Great times.

Loren Muse Smith 8:30 AM  

Nifty theme idea. I actually got the trick pretty early, with NUMBERS (had to memorize those first books for my confirmation), but maybe solving on paper affords you the ability to kinda see the whole picture more easily than solving online? I looked down to get the reveal, and bam. Got it. Rex – NUMBERS was way easier for me than Best or Madison would have been. Way easier.

“Ice t” before ICEE, and I was relishing a little dust-up here about its not being “iced”. It was my plan to accuse the pedants, again, of ordering iced water and iced CREAM… but, well, oh well.

OKRAS – they resemble ladies’ fingers? Not in my book. Sure, my fingers look like fat little okras. I hate’em. A real lady has fingers that resemble asparagus spears.

Loved DON’T DO IT and BANG-UP JOB. And SUSHI ROLL. I’m not a purist and always wanna go for the most ridiculous Americanized bastardization of a sushi roll. The one with pulverized potato chips, gouda, and peanut butter.

HAPPY FOURTH, everyone. I may get my daughter to STREAM Independence Day on her Netflix. It’s without a doubt one of the greatest movies ever made. { SPOILER ALERT TO FOLLOW ... Especially the part where the planet decides to fight back against the evil aliens who can understand all our languages so we all communicate with each other through Morse code, and the aliens didn’t get that memo, so they’re caught off guard. I cry with pride every time.}

Irene 8:36 AM  

An easy puzzle and a really all-over-the-place theme. So Mars is the fourth planet, but we don't have "from the sun"; we could just as well have the fourth planet to be discovered. It's just a dumb idea.

everette 8:39 AM  

Okras is a mass noun, but some mass nouns can be pluralized if you are referring to different types of the nouns. Thus "whole grains are good for your diet"; "French wines are pricier than Italian wines"; etc.

FPBear 8:44 AM  

Used to visit my grandparents in Alabama and there was always okra, like rice. My best friend is Greek and talks of okras which they use a lot. Two different plurals.

Jim Lemire 8:45 AM  

I don’t comment much here, but always read the write ups and comments. I’ve been refreshing my browser every few minutes this morning and when a new post continued to not show up I thought, “So, this is the puzzle that finally made him quit in disgust.” I wouldn’t have blamed you! I seriously disliked this puzzle...what a terribly lame theme. Especially given yesterday’s...which, now in hindsight, was the better holiday theme (who would have thought!). I was itching for a clever Independence Day puzzle, but instead we got this. Perhaps I shouldn’t expect such grandiose things just because it’s a holiday...but still. And because of yesterday’s puzzle jumping the gun on the theme, I figured they had something even better in store for today.

I too was lost on how NUMBERS fit the theme. I actually triple checked that it was even supposed to be part of the theme. It was...and in the third try the [Bible] part of the clue finally registered. Like they say about bad jokes....if you have to explain the punchline...

Not to be completely negative here, I enjoyed SUSHI ROLL and BANG UP JOB. Both cleverly clued. I didn’t know the PEARL part of PEARL RIVER DELTA, so needed the crosses to help. I also completely misread the clue for 52D...I read it as “pants” instead of “plants”. So was 100% confused when OKRAS got filled in by the crosses. I figured it was yet one more piece of women’s fashion I didn’t know. It was only after reading the above post did I realize my issue! Maybe o should get my eyes checked.

Well, Happy Numbers everyone!

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

OBOE really threw me for a loop but having looked it up I guess I can't complain, it legitimately is a part of the ABLE BAKER CHARLIE phonetic alphabet. It was replaced in the 50s with OSCAR (in the current ALFA BRAVO CHARLIE version). Apparently OTTO and OPERA had some traction as well in the 40s. I guess I'm so used to OSCAR that I couldn't even imagine OBOE.

Teedmn 8:46 AM  

Hah, I did a Rexism today, not bothering to read the theme answers to the bitter (er, fun) end so I had to go back and re-read them to figure out what FOURTH each was. I guess I did see [planets] out of the corner of my eye, in the 48A clue. But I still looked at the beginning of the theme answers for the theme and was scratching my head over how EVEN, PRIME, PEARL and BRUNO related. And to think I was once known for being good at reading AND COMPREHENSION, sheesh.

I like that you could SPAR with the SABER it crosses. I read a lot of fantasy fiction and I'm always fascinated when sword fighting is described as an art, with different styles. And that anyone ever survived a battle where you are surrounded by people slashing and thrusting sharp long knives at each other. Gives me the willies, it does.

FINALE as the literal showstopper; YOUD in the grid; a favorite M&A-ism of RODEO; a different way to clue OBOE. I think Freddie Cheng gave us a very HAPPY FOURTH puzzle.

Suzy 9:02 AM  

@LMS— who can forget “We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight!”? (Isn’t it time we for us to feel that
way about climate change?). Or “Hello, boupys, I’m BAACK!”. I can never resist a rerun! Today’s puzzle? -meh.

John Morrison 9:03 AM  

The theme was utterly useless to me. It was way too arcane.

Birchbark 9:05 AM  

Happy NUMBERS/TIME/DELTA/MARS.

@LMS (8:30), we watched "Independence Day" a few weeks ago. What makes that Morse code scene so great is the other encampments around the world saying things to the effect of "I say, the Americans have a plan." By God, we're human and we won't take this monkey business anymore. That, and the drunken crop duster's patriotic EPITHET as he sacrifices himself for the good of all mankind. What a FINALE.

Now, to run two miles in our town's annual race. Then to take ALEVE.

Nancy 9:13 AM  

My Aha Moment came after I filled in the entire puzzle -- but at least it did come. I was wondering the whole time what the bracketed word or phrase in the theme clues meant. Initially, the revealer just left me blank. And then I saw it. Really nifty theme, I'd say, with much thinking required for a Wednesday.

An early mistake at 5D led me to be looking for a rebus. I wanted MOtOR-something instead of MONORAIL, which left me with EVENtUMBERS at 17A. Had to be a rebus, right? But when there proved to be no other theme answer that required one, I eventually went back and corrected.

Nice way to start the FOURTH. Good job, Freddie.

kitshef 9:19 AM  

Odd, incoherent and mildly unappealing theme.

Fill is generally decent but unexciting.

I don’t know what a SUSHI ROLL is, but it sounds disgusting. Not as disgusting as multiple OKRAS … boy, is that an unappentizing column.

'merican in Paris 9:24 AM  

I found this puzzle to be not sky rockets in space, but just the right work-out for a busy day. (4th July is not a public holiday in France). Finished in about half my usual time for a Wednesday.

The puzzle had its share of PPPs, to be sure, but they were all inferable. As well, the theme clues helped me fill in the themer answers, such as the "A" in M_RS. I don't think I could pick out BRUNO MARS in a crowd of three people, but for some reason once I had the "B" in the beginning his name popped into my head.

I liked the father & son cluing on 13A and 33D, and BANG-UP JOB.

I did have an initial "ERROR" at 6D, howver, entering SABre before SABER. I mean, if the related weapon is going to be spelled with French accents (épée), then shouldn't the answer itself be spelled in the French way aussi? I give that one a yellow card.

Also, whereas diethyl ETHER may be rarely used in the United States as an anesthetic any more (I was put under with it at the age of 4 when I had my tonsils removed), I doubt it is "bygone" in the poorer parts of the world. Indeed, until 13 years ago it was listed among the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines.

@LMS -- not sure if you were joking, but I think he meant these types of cookies.

My FINALE word: "Happy Independence Day, everyone!"

pmdm 9:29 AM  

Sigh. Jeff gives it a POW and here one predominately finds grumbles. At least so it seems at 9:22 AM.

One thing I have to hand it to Mr. Sharp: when he does something some might call stupid he doesn't try to hide it. I guess that improves the write-up.

According to the constructor, this puzzle could have been run last year except another tribute puzzle already owned the spot. Given that we've had another tribute puzzle this week, should that have mattered? Inconsistent.

I thought the puzzle was extremely enjoyable. Much more so than the current heat have in NYC and elsewhere. Where's that icee?

GILL I. 9:30 AM  

OBOE? Where did Oscar go? At first I thought Freddie was referring to Peter and the Wolf and maybe I misremembered him as the OBOE. But no, the OBOE was the duck and the cat is the clarinet and so I was confused with my ERROR and wondered how a bug produces one. And so....this is how my Wed. went.
Although I've maybe said PSHAW exactly twice in my life, I think I used it when someone told me how pretty I looked at my prom. It was probably my mom or my dad. Or maybe my grandmother because she was the only person I knew who would utter that word.
I got the theme and thought it interesting. Interesting in the way Gollum spoke. I always thought he lisped. My Little Prethious sort of way. I guess he RASPED it ...My Pressssious.
@Loren...Thanks for the DONT DO IT. Man, that cat is evil. Facebook streams a lot of pictures of those hairless cats that look like rats with big ears. Then we have all of the Pugs. OVER DONE.
It's the FOURTH and I love this holiday. Actually, I love them all. Every yea for the last 5, a bunch of us gather for a block type party and bring ton of food and hope a ton of people stop by and share. We're in an "adult" community so we don't get to share with children because they are discourage to come and I miss that. I like children and I love seeing them playing with fireworks.... In a good way.
I've been assigned the potato salad table so I'm off to fry up the bacon.
Happy Independence Day to everyone. It's also my British husband's favourite holiday!

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Below average time, but definitely not a romp.

Wanted agApE at 12D (IN AWE), and that cost me, but the killer was missing ADJ(active) entirely for 59A, thinking there had to be some long-ish synonym for size. Because the PEARL didn't jump out, BANG UP JOB also eluded me, that was the last to fall.

Enjoy the holiday, everyone!

Z 9:35 AM  

Fine theme, but I agree with Rex that a little something extra to make the themers coherent would have been nice. Also had the same thought as @LMS about the printed version being friendlier to noting the bracketed elements and thus seeing the theme earlier.

I appreciated Rex’s geography lesson. I had no idea where ASSAM was.

FLAC 9:38 AM  

@LMS: De gustibus and all that, but unless you're talking high camp, I've gotta disagree about Independence Day. For the Fourth, my movie money is on Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Well-constructed puzzle, but after yesterday it seemed a bit meh to me.

GHarris 9:45 AM  

Fun puzzle. Had a dnf because put in don for male swan. Later changed the n to a b but never went back to change first letter so I had wine that was bland. Had I done this on computer I would have been alerted to existence of an error.

RavTom 9:47 AM  

A little help: Why is 59A ADJ?

Karen 9:48 AM  

@LMS, easier than Best or Madison? I don’t get the reference. Help, please?

Nancy 9:57 AM  

@pmdm (9:29) -- Thanks for letting us know that Jeff Chen made this puzzle a POW. Like you, I'm surprised by the largely negative reactions here. Like you I liked it a lot. And like you I'm suffering through this hideous NYC heat wave. I've been home so much. Mentally, I need to be out and about and physically, I'm better off staying inside in A/C. I went out very briefly yesterday to return a book and dvd to the local library, and the air was suffocating. There didn't seem to be any oxygen in it. I came right back.

@Larry G (from late yesterday) -- I left you a response on yesterday's blog about the answer you found insensitive. Didn't bother me at all -- and I'm one! Or was, very briefly.

Lewis 10:00 AM  

I thought the theme was clever and cleanly executed. I learned Pearl River Delta and thanks to Rex, where ASSAM is. The theme actually helped me get BRUNO MARS. I loved the clue "Blue expanse", where you can only put the S in, because it could be SEA or SKY. I would have liked a couple more clever clues, but otherwise, IMO -- Very im_____ive [estate].

Roo Monster 10:06 AM  

Hey All !
Whoosh. Boom! "Ooh, Aah!"
HAPPY FOURTH all. That was my fireworks text attempt. :-)

Interesting puz. Fourth things. NUMBERS-FOURTH book of The Bible
TIME-FOURTH Dimension
DELTA-FOURTH Greek Letter
MARS-FOURTH Planet.

OVERused before OVERDONE, BLush-BLANd(har)-BLANC. TEND was tough to see as clued. Tough little corner, that SW. GORAN not helping. Otherwise, an easy-ish WedsPuz. Liked TVS clue.

Curious how OKRA is such a popular puz answer, what with that K. I can see EEL, ASS, ACME, ACNE, ET.AL. :-), but just seems odd. Hmm. Something to think about. Oh, and I actually had tried OKRAS the other day, and they weren't terrible. I know. I wouldn't order them myself, but there were a group of us, and someone ordered TWO orders of them. I know, again. But, I put a bunch in my red beans and rice, and they turned edible. IN AWE, yes. :-)

Two F's today, in case you were counting.

SNEER OODLES
RooMonster
DarrinV

crackblind 10:44 AM  

The only thing that really liked me in this puzzle (besides understanding the theme ala Rex) was three SW corner, show specifically 58A. I had HOT there, as in a "hot press" and a "hot mess." Both are actual things and fit perfectly enough that is a terrible clue. I was so sure of them that even though they the destroyed the crosses, I stick with my answer and tried to figure out what OHRAS & TOTLE could be. Awful, awful doing right there.

JC66 10:49 AM  

@Karen

@LMS was responding to @Rex's post (other FOURTH alternatives he suggested).

Whatsername 10:51 AM  

I appreciate the concept and construction effort but theme wise, a complete and utter disappointment. I was expecting a holiday special so went directly to the revealer and guessed, eagerly anticipating a fun and clever solve. After the first specified answer at 17A, I started thinking okay, a numerical theme or a missing number perhaps. But my joy quickly turned to befuddlement, then just disgusted disappointment. The idea is outstanding and could have been such fun, but these obscure answers and even more obscure hints in brackets just completely failed with me. As @Jim Lemire said, "if you have to explain the punchline," then it was a pretty lame joke. Maybe I was expecting more because yesterday's was so nifty with the baseball theme, but I feel like I was all set up to watch a big fireworks display and then everything just fizzled. Sorry, just not a fan.

Whatsername 10:57 AM  

@RavTom I agree 59 across ADJ was a tad murky. I assumed it to mean adjective.

Tom 11:00 AM  

They are all ADJectives.

mathgent 11:01 AM  

A very nice Wednesday surprise. Good sparkle. A deft theme. Some welcome learning (PEARLRIVERDELTA!).

I didn't remember that Ivanisevic was a wild card when he won Wimbledon. What a lovely fluid serve he had. He was close to seven-feet tall and his opponents would moan that it was like the ball was coming out of a tree.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Once again we're supposed to find it interesting—or even share his outrage—when OFL is ignorant about some nugget of hardly obcure info, in this case the fourth of the five books of Moses.

Banana Diaquiri 11:11 AM  

as predicted yesterday, the Failing New York Times didn't bother to deliver copies of the dead trees version to my local newsstand. but, given OFL and the Commentariat reactions, I didn't miss much. and, BTW, okra is just slimey mucilage, and nothing like rice. I won't eat a raw oyster, for the same reason. and, yes, I'm a Yankee not a Johnny Reb. :)

jberg 11:33 AM  

@RavTom, those words are ADJectives.

I had Advil before ALEVE, corrected it, but didn't write over the D strongly enough, so I finished wondering who those dENNON guys were. Anyway, it was nice that our old friend the URN had a VASE to keep it from getting lonely. I prefer peaches and bunches of grapes in my still lifes.

I enjoyed figuring out the theme as we went along. For a moment, I was figuring DELTA as the fifth letter, and thought maybe there was a meta of running every puzzle this week a day early. Then I went back and counted them in my mind, and things were OK.

@Loren, I'll probbly never see that movie anyway, but really, you need more space between your "spoiler alert" warning and the spoiler itself -- something like Rex's Spoiler Kitty. (Where has that got to, anyway?)

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Ugh! Are we really normalizing Rodham? If Trump and kin dont pass the trst, neither does herself.

Happy Independence day.

pmdm 11:57 AM  

Nancy: Move to Yonkers. Our public libraries (last time I went) are air conditioned - unless the infoernal thing breaks.

I enjoy biking 100 miles in weather like this. The flow of air actually makes me a bit more comfortable until the temperature reaches about 93-95 F when it heats you up instead. I just carry lots - real lots - of water and pick a route where I will never be far from a water source. And get rid of water too.) The recently completed (in Westchester) Putnam RR trail is a justifiably good route. Alas, it's only dirt in Van Cordtland Park.

Masked and Anonymous 11:57 AM  

M&A's idea of a cool HAPPY FOURTH themer set:

* ENDUP KAPUT.
* ARGUE ABOUT.
* OPIUM SERUM.
* AWFUL DONUT.
* TROUT SNOUT.
etc.

But … this WedPuz theme will do, just fine, thanx.
Gridfill is pretty solid, with a few minor concessions of tasty desperation to the Crossword gods, such as UNA & OKRAS & ADJ [staff weeject pick]. Nice weeject stacks, in the NE & SW. And behold, 49-Down: There's yer rodeo.

ASSAM was ok as a starter, by m&e. Other than that I couldn't quite remember the spellin. Was worried it might be ASSAN or somesuch. Had to spend a few nanoseconds, sussin out that last letter, by buildin me a MONORAIL.

Thanx, Mr. Cheng. Good job.
Have a great Independence Day, y'all. And try not to keep sayin OKRA over and over at the fireworks display, @RP.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


**gruntz**

Nancy 12:12 PM  

@pmdm -- You enjoy doing what in weather like this???????? Good grief!

Elle54 12:17 PM  

Happy Independence Day!!!!!!!!!!! This was challenging for a Wednesday, until I figured out what the brackets were for!
"You're a grand old flag, you're a high -flying flag and forever in peace may you wave! You're the emblem of the land I LOVE, the Home of the Free and the Brave! Every heart beats true for the red, white, and blue where there's never a boast or brag. Should old acquaintance be forgot? Keep your eye on the grand old flag!"🎼

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

Still proud to be an American. Still happy and amazed that people WANT to come here. I teach an ESL class and my students love the USA. Call me jingoistic but this is the greatest country.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

jberg 11:33 AM
I think the idea is to stop reading when you see "spoiler alert"

Joseph Michael 12:46 PM  

I’ll join the minority to say that I enjoyed this puzzle. Thought it was an original take on the concept of FOURTH and liked that I had to work a little extra to figure out the theme.

I agree that OKRAS is pushing it, but a puzzle that includes BRUNO MARS can’t be all that bad. Also liked DON’T DO IT and BANG-UP JOB as well as the clues for RODEO and FINALE.

pabloinnh 1:15 PM  

Hand up for being a sucker for "Independence Day". I like Will Smith punching out an alien and telling it "Welcome to earth." Right there with "My Cousin Vinny" as movies of which I will watch the end.

Puzzle for me was kind of a squib, which is a local term for a firecracker that doesn't quite do it.

And a happy fourth a todos.



Anoa Bob 1:29 PM  

Just checked with my trusty Random House Webster's College Dictionary and it lists OKRAS as the plural of OKRA. Still looks weird, though. Not sure how it would come up in standard English text. It comes up in grid-speak because it makes a four-letter word fit a five-letter slot. Very handy.

I sent out a memo but apparently it didn't make the rounds. There are only two perceptible dimensions, TIME, which extends in one direction, and space, which extends in all directions. That's it. Talk of other dimensions may titillate our imagination, but it's OVERDONE fancy. DON'T DO IT lest it elicits a sheesh, or maybe even a PSHAW.

Hungry Mother 1:40 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle and sped on through it without regard for the theme. I had a fast time in the mini for a change, so a good day on the grid.

RK Beatrice 1:59 PM  

Surprised by many reactions here. This was fun.

QuasiMojo 2:24 PM  

Easy puzzle but I got held up by automatically putting in “hot” mess instead of kit. Lol. Happy Fourth y’all.

Z 2:24 PM  

@Ravtom and @whatsername- The “some group of words as example of the word type” is often used for ADJ, adv, and even noun. I don’t recall ever seeing it for verb. You will see it again. It is only slightly rarer than the “reference to letter(s) in the clue word” trope.

Larry Gilstrap 2:25 PM  

Aha! One of those kind of puzzles. Solve the thing and then try to figure out what's going on. The bracketed clue definitely helped. Problems arose because for some reason I stubbornly remembered NUMBERS as the last book of the Pentateuch and refused to back down. Facts matter.

A quiet and efficient MONORAIL system was to be the solution to the impending traffic gridlock. Well, that was the buzz after Disney completed theirs at the theme park in Anaheim in 1959. Many modern elevated rail systems exist, but few are truly MONORAIL.

I grew up in an area where fireworks were forbidden and not really part of the culture of celebrating the Fourth. Oh, sure, large public displays draw huge throngs, but in Los Angeles County, for example, the possession and discharge of personal fireworks is against the law. I prefer a blazing barbecue, truth be told.

Larry Gilstrap 2:58 PM  

By way of correction, L.A. County bans fireworks in unincorporated areas, but some communities allow the sale and discharge of "Safe and Sane" fireworks. Many communities have traditionally banned them, including my hometown.

Staying Indian 2:59 PM  

Okra in Indian cuisine are referred to in English as Ladies Finger (bhindi)

Possible Assam clue based on the suggestion, Tea-Bone. Sorta looks that way. Nah, maybe not.

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

I, too, was at a loss for how the theme was described. It was definitely not a "HappyFourth" kind of puzzle. One-across (Assam) was easy since I've been there and I still remember what the Lonely Planet guidebook said about the place: "Massacres are common." So tea wasn't my first association with Assam but it did register after a second or two.
Never knew okra was also called lady's fingers; who has fingers that slimy???

jae 3:27 PM  

Count me in the minority with @Nancy, pmdm, et.al. (and Jeff Chen at xwordinfo) who liked it. It was medium for me and I thought it was pretty clever.

The fact that I had to go back and stare a bit to grok the theme added to the enjoyment.

Bobby Flag 3:29 PM  

Top Tip: Wait until the coals stop blazing before cooking. You are looking for a white ash covering, then you are good to go. But then again maybe you are using gas so not barbecuing at all, just cooking outside. Bon Appétit.

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

@Anonymous 3:08 PM

In answer to your question, “who has fingers that slimy???”, one answer is Ivana Marie (“Ivanka”) Trump.

Martha 4:49 PM  

Ok last week they wrongly clued that bitters were ingredient in a martini and this week it is clued that stout is a kind of ale? This just isn’t right. Don’t these puzzle makers drink?

Aketi 6:36 PM  

Happy FOURTH everyone. I kinda liked the not immediately apparent FOURTHs in the puzzle. They weren’t that hard to suss out.
@Nancy, You know how nutty I am about Martial Arts but I too reacted the same way to @pmdm’s post. SRSLY? 100 miles? I questioned my sanity yesterday when I rode a mere 37 blocks at 9:30 am yesterday after my BJJ class. Forget about any later in the day.

Karen 6:37 PM  

Thanks, @JC66. Should have reread Rex’s post first.

lukiegrifpa 9:54 PM  

Rex and some other commenters might not recognize Numbers as a “fourth”, but many millions of people would. I too memorized the books of the Bible as a kid and the bracketed clue made perfect sense to me right away.

Jim Lemire 10:13 PM  

This may be geographically dependent, but my understanding is that beer can be grouped into one of two major classes depending on the species of yeast used - ales (yeast = Saccharomyces cerevisia) or lagers (yeast = Saccharomyces pastorianus). Within each group are a variety of styles, defined by flavor, appearance, ingredients, processes. Stouts are a subclass of ales generically defined by their dark color and toasty flavors.

thefogman 10:32 AM  

The theme wasn't worth the effort, either for the constructor or the solver. Nothing to really SNEER at, just not a BANGUPJOB.

spacecraft 10:42 AM  

I solved this one with "E's"--29 of them. Not gonna set any Scrabble records. Still, an interesting theme that I didn't completely get until the revealer: finest kind. Yeah, NUMBERS is the FOURTH book...

"The Gospel according to Brady! We'll hex the Pentateuch, and slip you in neatly between NUMBERS and Deuteronomy!"--line from "Inherit the Wind"

Other than the blandness, there's not a lot to complain about here. Food often ordered at a bar had me going, I mean what? Pizza? Burgers? Oh, oh, THAT kind of "bar." Not me. If raw fish is all there is to eat, I'll starve. And how many OKRAS can there be?

On that TNOTE, let's search for a DOD. Remember Lawrence Welk and the LENNON sisters? Nope, I'm going with the late, awesome Janis Joplin, whom we lovingly know as PEARL.

Oh, ISPY another entry I'd like to TASER: ADJ. What that has to do with s/m/l I have no idea. HAPPYFOURTH! Since four is par on most holes, let that be the score.

Burma Shave 10:47 AM  

OODLES OVERDONE

ANN TENDs to do a BANGUPJOB (with disgrace),
and I MEAN YOU’D be INAWE to learn,
she’s APT to PEA a STREAM into a VASE,
but she DON’TDOIT into an URN.

--- GORAN LENNON

leftcoastTAM 12:55 PM  

Got it filled in correctly, but didn't get the theme until looking here.

Thought FOURTH might have something to do with four-letter words in themers (it didn't), or just a reference to the holiday, which was five weeks ago from its syndicated appearance here.

Thus, a bit ant-climactic, ALBEIT the fourth in a series theme is a good one.

thefogman 1:50 PM  

@Spacecraft I think ADJ is in reference to small, medium and large being adjectives.

Diana,LIW 2:13 PM  

Thank goodness (gracious) for yesterday's puzzle, it reminded me that today's would be the 7/4 theme.

So...I got the theme early, and then all the 4 theme-referenced answers. Including NUMBERS. Memorized all the books of the Bible when I was 4 years old. Old and New.

Then...I almost (I mean I came THIS close) dnf'd in the SW corner. But I got the "JOB" done, and admired the clever adjectivial reference in the small, medium, and large clue. Oh those descriptors. Must remember Swans/COBs.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rainforest 2:17 PM  

Nifty puzzle primarily for the theme which I "grokked" (hate that word) at PEARL RIVER DELTA, and used that to get BRUNO MARS. Nice move to steer away from the more usual "patriotic" theme entries. Cool.

The fill was in general just fine, aside from the "incorrect" spelling of SABRE, which I have to overlook because my personal beef is getting old.

Took a while for me to understand that small, medium, and large are ADJectives. Good one.
BANG UP JOB here.

rondo 5:30 PM  

Ah yes, so it was the FOURTH. Not nearly as patriotic as the baseball puz, but what the hey.

I reiterate, you say PSHAW when you can't say pshit.

Pick an ANN, any ANN. I once met ANN-Margaret. Yeah baby.

Good enough for the FOURTH, I'd say.

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