Longtime Burmese PM / THU 12-11-14 / Togs with red tags / Brand name in immunity boosting / Fox's partner on X-Files / Ancient site of Luxor Temple / Old service site informally / Aerial anomaly / Cat Stevens surname now / 1975 Tony-winning play with Latin name /

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: [THROUGH] — phrases that go "___ through ___" are represented by the first part of the phrase literally passing through the last part of the phrase:

Theme answers:
  • NACHO [through] THEBES
  • EXPELS [through] LIP
  • IS NOT [through], DINGBAT!
  • SMUT [through] ISLAM
Word of the Day: ED AMES (42A: One of a group of singing brothers) —
Ed Ames (born Edmund Dantes Urick; July 9, 1927) is an American popular singer and actor.[1] He is best known for his pop and adult contemporary hits of the 1960s like "When the Snow is on the Roses" and the perennial "My Cup Runneth Over". He was part of a popular 1950s singing group called the Ames Brothers. […] In the early 1960s, the Ames Brothers disbanded, and Ed Ames, pursuing a career in acting, studied at the Herbert Berghof School. His first starring role was in an Off Broadway production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, going on to starring performances in The Fantasticks and Carnival!, which was on Broadway. He was in the national touring company of Carnival.
Ames' dark complexion and facial bone structure led to his being cast regularly as a Native American. He played Chief Bromden in the Broadway production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, opposite Kirk Douglas.
Talent scouts at 20th Century Fox saw Ames in the production and invited him to play the Cherokee tribesman, Mingo on the NBC television seriesDaniel Boone, with Fess ParkerPatricia BlairDarby Hinton, and Veronica Cartwright. His character's father was an English officer. In an episode of Season One, Ames also portrayed Mingo's evil twin brother, Taramingo. Ames' main character was actually named Caramingo, but went by Mingo throughout the entire series. Ames played a bandit on a 1962 The Rifleman episode and guest-starred as Kennedy in the 1963 episode "The Day of the Pawnees, Part 2" on ABC's The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, with Kurt Russell in the title role. He guest-starred in 1963 on Richard Egan's NBC modern western series, Redigo. (wikipedia)

• • •

A reasonably strong example of this type of puzzle (where a common phrase is completed by mental addition of a word represented by an answer's action, direction, etc.)? There are mild consistency issues (two third-person singulars, CUTS and PULLS, but then a SLIP and a GOING; also two THE X phrases, but then a ONE'S X and an IN THE X phrase), but the core idea is just a missing "through," so on a syntactical level, all these theme answers work. I don't like PULLS [through] IN THE CLUTCH much, though. The IN just glitches the whole effect. IN is fighting "through" for directional primacy. It just feels like a clunker to me. Also, that section has PLU, which is D-grade fill. I honestly didn't know what it meant when I was finished (47A: Like arts and crafts: Abbr.). Couldn't think of anything it could possibly mean. Turns out it's an abbr. for "plural." Not anywhere I've ever seen, but somewhere. You can bet if it's in the grid, some dictionary somewhere has confirmed that it's legit. Still, PLU = ugh. I think the theme answer / grid set-up just gets you in a tight jam from the get-go, as you have very limited options where H---G is concerned (37A). And since PULLS and SLIP are also immovable, it's probably lucky that PLU is the only real casualty in that middle section. This puzzle has some junk, but it really doesn't make the puzzle creak and groan too much. Even the obvious Scrabble-f***ing in the SW *and* SE doesn't in fill that's *too* bad. NAM and NDAK and ATTN are not good, but we see them pretty frequently, and ESTERC … also, in my book, not good, but at least it's unusual. So mild thumbs-up for this one.

  • 60A: Longtime Burmese P.M. (U NU) — old-skool crosswordese. Up there with U THANT. U NU is the shortest full name you'll ever see (at least in a crossword grid).
  • 24A: Togs with red tags (LEVI'S) — About the last thing I got. I own LEVI'S. Several pairs, I think. I don't know what "red tags" refers to. I had no idea that was an identifying feature. Also, "togs," ugh. Sounds like a word ED AMES or one of the guys from The BOX TOPS would use. Actually, no, those guys are too hip.
  • 18D: Ancient site of the Luxor Temple (THEBES) — I always (and I mean Always) forget that there is another THEBES besides the one in Aeschylus's "Seven Against Thebes" and Statius's "Thebaid" (i.e. the Greek one).
  • 26A: Aerial anomaly (UFO) — gave me trouble. Thought the "aerial" was the thing your analogue TV used to need to get reception.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


retired_chemist 12:13 AM  

Almost missed the theme since "CUTS THE CLUTTER," the first one I got, made sense without "through." Eventually I did get it.

A fun solve and an easy one. I'm taking Rex's "mild thumbs-up for this one" as a RAVE.

Thanks,Mr. DiPietro.

dmw 12:15 AM  

Hard solve for me. Took a long time to get the theme. Very clever, once worked out.

Agree with Rex: PLU is ugly.
HARDG very tricky.

Can't say it was that much fun.

jae 12:20 AM  

Mostly medium for me.  Had some problems in SW.  ESTERC  was a WOE, took a while to suss PLU,  rCaS before LCDS, and CLinCH before CLUTCH. 

Clever theme. Liked it.  I'll skip commenting on the fill...PLU...

Whirred Whacks 12:25 AM  

Unless you're operating on a whole different level than I am, I think you've got the wrong theme answers mentioned at the top of your writeup:

"NACHO [through] THEBES
EXPELS [through] LIP
IS NOT [through], DINGBAT!
SMUT [through] ISLAM

Virginia 12:38 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, though I needed a little help from Auntie Google for some answers (GRAN, NE YO). Figured out the theme fairly quickly. But I never in a million years would have gotten ED AMES or PLU, and I still don't know what ESTERC is, so I was surprised when I entered that last letter and the app played the little victory song. Thank goodness for gettable crosses.

Btw, the "red tag" on a pair of LEVIS is the little tab that sticks off the edge of the back pocket, distinguishing them from competitors such as the oft-cited Lee's.

okanaganer 12:43 AM  

I dunno why, but I remember the last I saw HARD G in a puzzle, the clue was "What a gal has that a gent doesn't". Now that was a fun clue.

Unknown 12:53 AM  

57 min. Quick start in the west ground into interminable slowness in the east. SE was the slowest. I got the trick in 8 min, which is probably a Thursday record here.

Lots of head scratchers slowed me way down.
[Defeat] WORST ? How so? Defeat is a n. or v. Worst is a n. or adj. Noun meanings don't line up?!
[Like arts and crafts. abbrev] PLU? Wha?
GAMY as spelled. I wanted GAMeY and left it blank pending another word altogether.
ESTERC is new.
GRAN/NEYO was a damned lucky cross.

In other news, I've managed to facebook-friend @numinous. I gather from his timeline that he's in the hospital but apparently on the mend. He hasn't posted here or on FB in a few months so I guess he has a ways to go, yet. His family posts occasional updates, and he has many well wishers cheering him on.

Anonymous 1:22 AM  

1. "Pulls through in the clutch?" Never heard that in my life. It's "comes through in the clutch."

2. Yeah, DEFEAT - WORST ? I mean, yeah, WIN can equal BEST, but seriously?

Steve J 1:43 AM  

I'm invoking the "if you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all" adage. (I could actually find a couple good things to say, but the bad so far outwieghs the good it's best just to walk away.)

Andy 3:12 AM  

I think it ought to be......

Cuts through the clutter
Slip through ones fingers
Going through the motions
Pulls through in the clutch

KFC 3:47 AM  

If you don't "get it" perhaps you should try a different blog.

Moly Shu 4:33 AM  

@KFC, I use the phrase "nacho through the bes" all the time. Well, that and DEUCED. Don't know what your talking about. Hand up for not getting WORST. As usual, @SteveJ sums up my reaction.

Thomas808 5:01 AM  

I was worried with GROOVES that this would be old-timey (hah) but pretty quickly reassured with NEYO, which I had to Google (turns out I'm the old fart!).
Pretty decent theme. At first I was irritated about the cross clues referring to the down clues and vice versa with no obvious sense (my wife says I'm an ornery old fart!) but once I got CUTS through THECLUTTER the aha light went on and it was great. Pretty good fill. I expect no one will like PLU -- I only got it by crosses -- but the crosses were reasonable. I didn't know what PLU meant until I saw it here, but I still got it thru the crosses. The weakest theme was PULLS through INTHECLUTCH but it was totally solvable by some reasonable crosses.
EDAMES was also extremely obscure but totally solvable by crosses. That's all we ask as the solvers at the mercy of the creators - just give us a chance! Thanks Joe DiPietro!

Susierah 5:40 AM  

I'm with @whirred whacks. Rex's theme answers make no sense to me. Someone please explain what I missed. Finished in 38 with no errors or googles, rapport being my last entry, not knowing what ester c was. Surprised to finish!

Hungry Mother 5:55 AM  

Surprised that I flew through this one so quickly.

GILL I. 5:55 AM  

Nel blu dipinto di PLU....!!
I give this ONE FINGERs because it didn't really hit my HOT POT. Wasn't that difficult but I so want an ooh and an ahh on a Thursday and this sort of BORES me. Did like the ZENITH SMUT though.
Just walk away RENE..
@okanagner....I can't remember who clued it either but your reminder made me laugh.
@Casco K....Thanks for the up-date..I too wondered/worried about our friend @Numi....

Danp 6:26 AM  

New rule: If Wikipedia doesn't know about you, you're too obscure for a puzzle. Good news for Ne-Yo, but Ester C, you're outta here.

rorosen 7:22 AM  


penGUIN EAter

practically unkillable snake
touGH ANAconda

symbolic bovid

anti-war sentiment
neoCON GO f*ck yourself

what george bush says he does

Mohair Sam 7:46 AM  

Easy- medium Thursday here. Put up just enough resistance to make it a fun Thursday. We got the theme early and all four theme answers filled quickly, made the tougher fill a lot easier to get.

Never heard of NEYO, but avoided natick on the "O" by guessing that if victory is to best someone, maybe WORST is its opposite. Don't know if that's right - but it worked. Only complaint agrees with @Rex's comment on PLU.

Again - Fun Thursday, thanks Joe DiPietro

RAD2626 7:50 AM  

I liked the theme but maybe only because I got it right away. Thought SW was hard particularly since I put in Cafe rather than CHEZ. Never heard of ESTERC and have never seen PEI as an abbreviation before. And finally could not believe HOTPOT was right given the clue. But for that corner would have been fastest Thursday yet.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

Hard G does not make sense if you pronounce Angela the way it is supposed to be pronounced - that is, with a hard G. I guess in the US the name is Americanized.

I agree with most of the comments, especially with WORST and PLU.

mathguy 7:54 AM  

No idea what Rex is thinking in explaining the theme. He cites PULLS through INTHECLUTCH but not the other three expressions. The four crossings he mentions seem random. They don't help to explain the gimmick.

I liked it a lot. The theme was clever. It was crunchy enough so that I needed getting the theme to complete the grid (despite not knowing the expression "Cuts through the clutter"). Learned a few things: ODETOJOY, RIBOSE, ESTERC, NEYO, Arctic TERN. A couple of neat clues: "Measure of brightness," "They're on the record."

Dorothy Biggs 7:59 AM  

From E-How:

"The primary difference between standard red tab Levi's and historical orange tab Levi's rest in the stitching and overall design. Red tab Levi's have six rivets on the front pockets, whereas orange tabs have only five. Orange tab Levi's have seven belt loops, where red tabs have only five. On a pair of orange tabs, the hip pocket has no top stitching, and the inside front pocket features only basic stitching. Back pockets on orange tabs are square, whereas red tabs taper from top to bottom."

So now you know.

Mostly medium for me...a few hangups at UNU (who knew?) and DANA crossing. Took me a while before SMUT showed up.

I thought the RICCI/EQUUS thing was cute.

ESTERC may or may not work. Just eat right, get rest, drink plenty of fluids, and wash your hands. Zinc might help some, but the science is unclear. Truth is, you're going to get a cold and depending on your immune system, it's just going to run its course. ESTERC may make you feel like you're doing something, but your best bet is to treat the symptoms and hang on for about a week.

SOURCE: just held on for a couple weeks recently with the damned flu. You get better after a while.

ArtO 8:02 AM  

@anonymous 7:52, the leader of Germany is the first letter in Germany, not ms. Merkel.

Agree that one CUTS through the clutter (what an ad is supposed to do).

Fun solve but don't get @Rex's theme answers??!! Clearly not!

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

Wait a minute.
What about slip through ones fingers and Cuts through the clutter?

And what do you mean by Nacho through Thebes or Smut through Islam?

Conrad 8:12 AM  

Would there have been fewer complaints if PLU had been clued as "Kind of perfect" or "Perfect leader"?

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

I just noticed that the puzzle is an F shy of a pangram.

chefbea 8:17 AM  

Got the theme at Going through the motions. Great puzzle!!!

Love Reubens...had one the other day. Never heard of Hotpot!!!

Unknown 8:20 AM  

"PULLS THROUGH" means to survive, not to succeed. I agree with whoever said that the phrase is "comes through in the clutch."

joho 8:28 AM  

I'm really surprised at the lack of love for this clever, clever puzzle. Or maybe not as @Rex seems to be getting more and more jaded. Or, maybe he's just BOREd. I thought his joke today was funny, though.

RAPPORT looks great in the grid.

I guessed at the "N" at DANA/UNU and was happy to finish.

Joe DiPietro, I really enjoyed this one! I think GOING(THROUGH)THEMOTIONS was my favorite. Thank you!

dk 8:35 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

Nice one. Only gripe is one of Rex's: PLU. All the theme phrases are familiar to me and Rex's SMUT running through ISLAM may be my favorite

@Steve J: "If you can't say somethin' nice... Don't say nothin' at all" is the advise given Thumper by his father and uttered by Thumper after being admonished by his mother for commenting "He doesn't walk very well, does he" on Bambi's gait

Perhaps wurst with sauerkraut for lunch today.

L 8:44 AM  

@ArtO thank you for clarifying the hard g. Very confusing since I thought it was referring Angela which as noted above is pronounced with the hard G. Otherwise great puzzle! Not sure what Rex is smoking though. Totally random "theme" answers.

Sir Hillary 8:52 AM  

Loved this. The fresh theme far outweighs the short junk or the clunky pangram. (@Anon 8:13 - the F is in UFO.)

So, for HARDG...assuming we're not talking about Angela Merkel but rather the country's first letter, is a HARDG really what Germany's leader lacks or what Germany's leader isn't? I thought a better clue would simply have been "What Germany lacks?".

Agree that "comes through in the clutch" is more common than PULLS[through]INTHECLUTCH, but the puzzle entry is definitely in the language.

NOIDEA why @Rex is doing the April Fools thing with his list of themers, but it made me laugh.

Bird 8:54 AM  

First time thru I had about 15 answers filled in. Somehow I caught on at 54A/30D and things got easier. Last to fall was the SW when I didn't get PEI and refused to believe HOTPOT and ESTERC were real and correct.

PLU does indeed = ugh
Had STYS before PENS and before STY at 23A

AliasZ 9:07 AM  

@Rex, how can a smart person like you miss the correct theme answers?

Obviously, they are:


Quote of the day: I think the scariest person in the world is the person with no sense of humor. - Michael J. Fox.

This funny, good-humored puzzle did not put me [through] the wringer, in fact I flew [through] it without much resistance, and my mood went [through] the roof half way [through] the solve. The [through] phrases introduced us to better living [through] crossword puzzles.

Loved NO IDEA, ODE TO JOY, EQUUS and many others, did not like NE-YO or PLU. CUTS atop CUE: cute.

Did you know that ED AMES was named after the main character of Dumas père's most famous novel? I had NO IDEA.

Gotta run, no time for music. Maybe later.

Happy Thursday.

John Child 9:17 AM  

To WORST someone is to defeat them. Old but not yet archaic usage.

Played a bit tough for Thursday, but I enjoyed it a lot. I had so little at 15 minutes that I thought it was a wipe out. Finally I saw the theme, and the puzzle fell quickly.

When I saw Rex's theme answers I laughed out loud. I was then surprised to see not the excoriating review I expected, but a thoughtful OK. Does OFL do whimsy?

Germany's Angela 9:23 AM  

Yeah any clue that can also be its opposite is either really great or really lame. "What Germany's leader lacks" (as in the soft "G" of "Germany") and "What Germany's leader has" (as in the hard "G" of Angela) yield the same answer. Genius, inane, or just plain mean? You make the call.

Unknown 9:27 AM  

Easy Med Thursday. EDAMES? That is obscure. Thank goodness for crosses. Don't quite get WORST either, but took a flyer on there being a rap artist named NEYO and, bing, puzzle solved.. And PLU, well, enough said about that.

Fun theme. Easily grasped, but fun nevertheless.

John Child 9:27 AM  

Those who did not like Tuesday's connect the dots puzzle might enjoy @George Barany's offering in a similar vein. There's always brougham for improvement. Those who liked Tuesday will probably like it too! http://www.chem.umn.edu/groups/baranygp/puzzles/sole/

John V 9:32 AM  

Three Naticks here. WORST, ESTERC, UNU. Liked the theme, but those crosses were unforgivable, IMHO.

Charles Flaster 9:39 AM  

Medium and enjoyed theme but weak short stuff.
For 41 Down had Rap Poet and thought Bond was the name of a new genre although the younger set feels rappers are poets! Changed to RAPPORT once ESTER C " kicked in".
Never heard of NEYO, HOT POT or DANA.
Saw the ED AMES "tomahawk" incident live on TV and believe it is considered one of the all time hysterical clips.
He really " Came through in the clutch".If this site was not family oriented you could substitute an alliterative ((Norm Crosby style))
for clutch.
Liked cluing for HOES and GROOVES.
Not too much Crosswoed EASE for me.
BTW ED AMES has a wonderful singing voice!
Thanks JP

Unknown 9:44 AM  

Sir Hillary said:
"Agree that "comes through in the clutch" is more common than PULLS[through]INTHECLUTCH, but the puzzle entry is definitely in the language."

I agree "pulls through" is in the language, but it doesn't mean succeed (as clued). It means to survive or simply get through a difficult situation. I don't think "pulls through in a clutch" is "in the language."

When I googled the two phrases, I found exactly three examples of "pulls through in the clutch" being [mis]used this way. There are many many examples of "comes through in the clutch" used this way.

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

Can someone please explain what PLU has to do with arts and crafts? What word or words abbreviate to "PLU" and have some connection to arts and crafts?

NOT a Natick 9:50 AM  

Hey John V,
WORST is NOT a Natick. Might be a tough answer, a weird answer, a bad answer, a hard answer, but, by definition, it is not a proper noun and therefore NOT a Natick. Get woth the program.

BillyC 9:53 AM  

@Mr Child --

Ah, since Professor Barany finally got the clue about not using this blog to promote his puzzles, he's got stand-ins doing it for him.

RooMonster 9:56 AM  

Hey All !
Must be Pangram week! One today, one yesterday, almost one two days ago. And none seemed forced! Awesome.

UNU, M & A leader? Never knew he was from Burma... (Burma! I panicked!)

This was easy- medium for moi, only had one wrong-un to correct, Everly before EDAMES. I managed to not miss a single letter! No errors, no Googs. *Pats self on back*

I think Rex's (funny!) THROUGHs means he thought this puz too simple for Thursday. It seems it would have been a better Wednesday. Just sayin.

CUTS (through) THEBES
HOE (through) BORES :-D


Z 10:02 AM  

Today's question: What is funnier, Rex's "theme answers" or readers who don't get that Rex is joking?

DiPietro does better than this, usually. ESTER-C (HTG) DANA crossing U NU, HOT POT as clued, and ED AMES (when the most famous video clip is grainy B&W your answer might be dated) are all trivial trivia. Then the cluing for ISR and N DAK are unnecessarily vague, calling attention to weak fill. PEI bothered me less because of its fairly specific cluing. I don't mind a little tussle, but today's struggle to come up with ESTER-C et alii overwhelmed whatever enjoyment I got from sussing out the theme - a theme I like quite a bit.

Ludyjynn 10:07 AM  

This one played quite challenging for me despite catching on to the 'through' gimmick fairly early. Felt more like a Friday. Some of the fill was vexing, esp. the awful PLU, which I hope I never see again. DANA crossing UNU was no walk in the park for me, as well.

Had 'nonos' before TABOOS, but EDAMES solved that problem. Speaking of Mr. Word of the Day, here's my story: when I was in high school, my Dad, a CPA, had a client who was GM of the NY Knicks. My parents, brother and I were privileged to attend numerous home games at Madison Square Garden in the VIP seats section behind the team's bench. Frequently, famous big shots would be seated w/ us. One night, EDAMES sat down next to me after he sang The Star Spangled Banner at the start of the game. I was very excited. But my Mom was not pleased when he cursed periodically (whenever the Knicks scored!) and finally whispered something in his ear. After that, his language improved despite the fact that the Knicks won. I was told he had an owner's stake in the other team which accounted for his passionate outbursts. Glad to hear he's still around.

Thanks, JD and WS.
Thanks, @Casco, for your Numinous update.

Horace S. Patoot 10:08 AM  

I was on a tangent thinking about japanese soybeans and simply couldn't see EDAMES as two words. A lot of boys of a certain age remember Mingo well. He always showed up when he was most needed.

Z 10:11 AM  

@Sir Hillary and @Joseph Welling - "Miggy PULLS THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH" (fill in your favorite baseball player for "Miggy") will be uttered somewhere on TV or Radio just about every day of the baseball season. That sports announcers often use "life or death" metaphors and "war" metaphors would be remarkable if it hadn't become banal cliché.

@anon9:48 - Rex mentions in the write-up that PLU is an abbreviation for "plural," which both the words "arts" and "crafts" are.

jberg 10:19 AM  

Clearly, @rex has had a mysterious warning to lay off the pangrams or else. Only way I can explain his not going after Ester-C harder. But google it for a fun debate between its advocates and the followers of Linus Pauling.

You see WORST in this sense is sports-page headlines. It's more common in the passive.

EDAMES is a bad POC, "popular Japanese snacks."

And PLU is some number that supermarkets use-- when you buy in bulk they ask you to write the PLU on the twist tie. Must say I didn't get that one until I read @Rex.

John V 10:20 AM  

True. My bad. Ugly, but not Natick.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Can't deal with any more not-so-bright nitpicking from @Wrecks. Going to Amy Reynaldo who is actually a very good solver.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:30 AM  

Nice puzzle; Easy - Medium for me.

Had no write-overs, but did proceed with my usual Thursday caution. In the far NW, ACT was such a certainty at 1 A that I looked at 14 A, entered the NO_, but held off on entering the "obvious" S called for by a plural clue, because an eleven-letter entry (3 D) seemed unlikely to start with TS. With a few more entries in that section, I considered the possibility that 3 D was in fact running bottom to top, ending in . . . CEST. But I held off until I saw the gimmick, put in the H, and . . . Victory!

David S 10:36 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle quite a bit precisely because it took me so long to figure out the gimmick; once I did, (most of) it came together fairly fast. I didn't even notice the terrible PLU.

I haven't heard of the even more terrible ESTERC, and since I don't know my Canadian provinces, I left that as PRI instead of PEI, which usually gets linked to I.M. Pei. I also had no idea of GTO, so the NEYO answer went unsolved.

Still, on the whole, it was a fun puzzle and a lot better than yesterday's.

Nancy 10:38 AM  

Like @Z, I'm surprised that so many people didn't know Rex was joking. Although I can't say I found his joke especially funny. Anyway, the theme answers are what transformed (for me) a boringly easy puzzle into a moderately interesting one. Thought yesterday's chemistry puzzle far more challenging.

retired_chemist 10:41 AM  

Wouldn't take ESTER-C but am currently taking zinc lozenges for a cold. Seems to help. My wife and I started the same symptoms on the same day and I am getting better faster.

retired_chemist 10:41 AM  

Wouldn't take ESTER-C but am currently taking zinc lozenges for a cold. Seems to help. My wife and I started the same symptoms on the same day and I am getting better faster.

Fred Romagnolo 10:58 AM  

I learned RIBOSE & ESTER C, naticked on GRAN & NEYO. Otherwise, I enjoyed the puzzle; yesterday's too. I automatically assumed @Rex's mistakes of examples were typos. If it was a conscious joke - I don't get it.

Carola 11:01 AM  

Like @retired_chemist, I thought CUTS THE CLUTTER made SENSE as is, so it took a good while before I saw my way THROUGH to the actual theme. Nicely done! Also liked ZENITH, DINGBATS, RAPPORT, HOTPOT, GROOVES. Had to erase AVerS (I'd begun to think constructors were OBLIGEd to include it in all puzzles this week), comeS, aren'T. NO IDEA about NEYO or ESTERC.

TDavis 11:18 AM  

Pretty easy for a Thursday. Last thing I got was ESTERC. Have to mention, Rex, that I use an AERIAL with my LCDTV. It works just fine for Hi-Def broadcasts!

mac 11:24 AM  

Medium Thursday for me, with a Natick at Gran and Ne Yo or Neyo. Als had a fat tip for a while.

A germanic feel to this puzzle with Ode to Joy, Reuben with sauerkraut, and Angela in Germany.

It didn't take me long to get the theme, but it certainly wasn't a quick, smooth solve. Liked it, though.

Just bought some Vitamin C this morning, and the Ester-C doesn't seem as popular as it was a couple of years ago.

Thank you for the update, Casco Kid. Send him my best.

old timer 11:32 AM  

Tricky precisely because CUTS the CLUTTER is the first phrase you get, and all the other ones only work with a "through". Puzzle was pretty easy once the real gimmick was understood.

The constructor is, I think, a dedicated reader of the sports section, where LeBron James has been known to come through in the clutch and the Golden State Warriors have often WORSTed their opponents, these days.

I used to order the occasional HOT POT dining with friends in Chinatown, and PEI is the *usual* abbreviation for that small Canadian province. So no woes there.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Clearly, if someone comes to this blog for the first time, he/she will be completely thrown out by Rex's theme answers. Not providing an explanations anywhere in the write-up AND having all of you inner-circle Rexites laughing at said confusion, is plain cruel.

pfb 11:53 AM  

I completed most of the puzzle before getting the theme (mainly because I had "PULLS IT OUT IN THE CLUTCH" and by the time I got to the SE corner and finished, it really didn't matter). I usually have to have the theme to complete on Thursday, so I'd rate this one on the easier side but okay.

JFC 12:06 PM  

Why anyone who comes here regularly doesn't get @Rex's attempt at humor in his opening salvo baffles me.

Actually, I thought it was one of @Rex's more hilarious comments, besides underscoring his apparent disdain for this kind of theme. I wish he were always that funny as he slices and dices the puzzle.


Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Really enjoyed this, but I went with POlE for 50 down -- ElTERC was as plausible to me as ESTERC (and poles have been known to be struck!).

Had CUTS THE CLUTTER but didn't realize it was missing (through) until I got to the slippery fingers.

With no intention of being mean or snide or haughty, I was surprised by some folks not getting Rex's (quite funny) joke theme answers.

Melodious Funk 12:59 PM  

If only U Nu had been a woman! Then we could match her up with John Sununu and she would then be know as .,,

(Forgive me, Lord. Please don't throw lightening)

Actually my favourite mash-up, and I might have mentioned it here before, is if Wanda Landowska had married Henry Kissinger, she would be Wanda who's Kissinger now.

(Running away and hiding)

Masked and Anonymo8Us 1:05 PM  

Once again, a superb theme gimmick. And this is one of those 8-part interlockin themers puzs, that just breeds marvelous desperation.

But first, some moments of respect, for the Rodney Dangerfield of vowels...

* 8 U's. Back-to-back puzs with 8, mind U. Hence the ODETOJOY intro, here. Teamed with a CLUBSODA toast.
* UNU. A frequent runtpuz visitor. Was probably a gimme, for @r.alph and @BobK.
* PLU. I heartily approve of all the press this feisty lil weeject is gettin here, today. For some reason, tho, folks act like this lil darlin just dropped in, from outer space. Ow contray-har, mon amis. This puppy has Elizabeth Gorski pre-use immunity. Almost as good as Patrick Berry immunity, in the desperation business.
* EQUUS. The St. Dangerfield of fills. Primo. Made my day. thUmbs8Up. I am thinkin this is what put @63 over the top, also.

Also liked ESTERC and HARDG. And weeject NOH, even tho the clue made it sound plu. NDAK also is quite nice. The runtz are thinkin that a NEDAK would be an excellent spinoff.

M&A help desk fractoid: The plu. of PLU is PLUS. U learn so much, here.

GTO = Gran Torino Ottomobile? PULLS INTHECLUTCH, I'm told.

"Rapport Through Acne"

Fred Smith 1:29 PM  

M. Funk --

Speaking of catchy names. There was a mayor of Providence RI -- several terms, I think, intersecting with terms in the slammer,. But what the heck, it WAS Providence. Anyway, he named his daughter Nancy Ann .

I also had a grade school classmate named Peter Abbott. Why these parents do this, I'll never know...

Fred 1:33 PM  

Oops, the mayor was Buddy Cianci, meaning his daughter Nancy Ann Cianci.

RooMonster 1:54 PM  

At least it wasn't Fancy Pantsy Cianci...

Better living through ANNULs

pfb 2:02 PM  

Who knew U NU? Very few.

Uncle John C 2:05 PM  

Having only the initial "E" and reading the "One of...Singing Brothers" clue - I confidently put down "Everly" - and only changed when the "Y" couldn't make SENSE.

Yesterday we had EAMES - today it's EDAMES - so don't be surprised tomorrow when you see ENDAMAMES.

Uncle John C 2:07 PM  

Darn it...
...That should be EDAMAMES.

Ozzie 2:09 PM  

Nothing makes a COLD better, and a bad cold isn't the FLU , I mean PLU.

Not my cup of herbal tea 2dye

Leapfinger 2:17 PM  

I listened to alot of radio as a kid, so remembered the AMES Brothers, had no reason to believe one of them wasn't named ED. From the same era, the Mills Bros, the Deep River Boys, but not the Soggy Bottom Boys.

I'm another who thought CUTS THE CLUTTER a reasonable stand-alone, so I didn't see through the theme till later. At that point, the Quintessential Nitpickery kicked in, because to this intermittently pedantic mind, when A goes 'through' B, A is continuous, and B is interrupted. cf, a knife 'through' butter. Since the Down clues aren't separated into two parts, the Across clues don't go through them; they just cross the in the usual way. Same old same old, and kind of dampered my enthusiasm.

Had a good time with the remainder: liked the EASY money in the NE, but sorry we couldn't have one of REUBEN's nudes. There's another 5-letter possibility for what Germany's leader lacks.

Things got a little ESTER-hazy in the SW, where I could only think of ENSURE for a while, but remembering the old family radio, a ZENITH, finally broke open that HOTSPOT. The fact that I only got PEI off the crosses borders on the ridiculous. Shame on a soi-disant Canuck.

The last cluing was cute, two blue for words:

Blue, blue, it's blue they say
On the far side of the fill!
Blue, blue, I'm going to play
Where the SMUT/SKY is bluer still!

Call me RAPoPORT.

GILL I. 2:17 PM  

Hey @John Child...Is that a debut? I just did your puzzle! For those of you who enjoy puzzles......check out @George B's site and down-load this fun one. Congratulations to you! All of you may want to also try the O SOLE MIO...Fun, fun on this dreary windy day.
To @BillyC: THPPPT.....

LaneB 2:30 PM  

For me, yet another example of a number of clues that seem to have little to do with the fill, e.g. PULLSTHEMOTION [Succeeds where it matters most?], PLU [[Like arts and crafts, abbr.], BOXTOPS [Some proofs of purchase]HARDG [What Germany's leader lacks--though I finally get that one]. Thus, another irritating DNF--another in a bad week for an old rookie who remains amazed that so many find these things to be "easy".

Lewis 2:43 PM  

@gill -- I love your Volare line!
M&A -- Love your GTO pulls through the clutch.

To me this makes for two especially creative days in a row. I thought it was a fun solve, with the aha at figuring out the theme, and some fun clues on GROOVES, HOE, IQTEST, HARDG, CPA, and RULED. Nine double letters on the down answers, which is very high.

Agree with M&A that this must have been a bear to create, forcing a PLU here and an ESTERC there, but that didn't stop the fun for me. Thank you Joe, glad this puzzle didn't FALL THROUGH THE CRACKS.

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

@AmericanIdiot 4:06 yesterday. I really don't pay much attention to NASCAR [though I have been to the Texas 500], and I don't watch Fox News, drink Bud or wait for my wife to put dinner on the table. In fact, most nights I do the cooking. Notwithstanding, Wednesday's puzzle--which you may have had something to do with- was still vache merde [if you can figure that out.]

Lewis 2:56 PM  

Factoid: The forerunner of the pool CUE was the mace, which looked like a miniature golf club, with the shaft held vertically, and the ball was more shoved that struck.

Quotoid: "When I eventually met Mr. Right I had NO IDEA that his first name was Always." -- Rita Rudner

Leapfinger 3:15 PM  

@rorosen: Nice, but why?

@chefbea, Mongolian HOTPOT is the same as fondue, except there's broth instead of cheese.

@Roomie, likewise EVERLY, and wanting more of a hook on a Thursday.

@Mel Funk, love it!! SteveJ and NCAPrez probably just passed out!

The double-U notwithstanding, EQUUS was a tough play to watch. Also, them folks who didn't know U NU should be Hammer-Skolded.

AliasZ 3:16 PM  

Why did Joe stop with the double clues at "It's blue" for SMUT and SKY? He could've done the same with "Digs for pigs" for both PENS and STY.

EDAMES: Women you meet on eharmony dot com.
HARDG: $1,000.00 one earns with a lot of toil and sweat.
TABOOS: What a substitute hears in an unruly classroom.
ISNOT: This happens to me when I get the flu.

Does anyone remember The BOXTOPS?

Here is a little romantic fluff titled "GRAN Duo Concertante" for two double basses and orchestra by Giovanni Bottesini (1821-1889), performed here in the transcription for violin and double bass by Ruggiero RICCI and Franco Petracchi. It may be a little ESTERC and far from THEBES I ever offered (IS NOT the WORST either), but the fancy pyrotechnics with ONE'S FINGERS in the CODA, PLU the RAPPORT between the two soloists, makes it all worthwhile.

okanaganer 3:26 PM  

PEI is not the only province that doesn't border a US state. Newfoundland's old abbrev. was NFLD, and the "proper" new one is NL, so neither would fit.

PEI and BC are the only two provinces which are always referred to in normal conversation using the intials. Only news announcers and politicians pronounce the full names.

(Extract from my forthcoming book Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Canadian Province Abbrev.s).

Hartley70 3:34 PM  

This was not my fav Thursday even though I had no trouble with NEYO or HOTPOT or EDAMES. The themes just felt awkward to me. Oh and I best someone when I defeat them, not WORST them. I think of Angela with a HARDG so that was confusing, BTW great New Yorker piece on her recently!

Leapfinger 3:35 PM  


I just found a site that told me that the higher primates (which includes us) are alone among mammals in not being able to synthesize their own Vitamin C, along with guinea pigs, fruit-eating bats and the red-vented bulbul bird. The site, vitaminfoundation.org, did not specify exactly when that bulbul bird became a mammal.

The main thing I learned was that ESTERC parses to ESTER-C, is not read as S-TURK.

chefwen 3:53 PM  

@Casco Kid - Thanks for the update on Numinus, I was worried about him too. Pass on that the tiny kitten that he helped name "Rice" sends her warmest well withes (as I do) and a petite purr. I noticed while reading the comments that she left a red dirt paw print in the lower right hand corner of the puzzle.

Loved the puzzle. Had a little problem in the UNU area, thank God for crosses.

M and Anonymo12Us* 4:10 PM  

Pangram with 007 U's or greater = Pungruum, btw.

Occurs to m&e, that more U's were implied, in all them throUgh's. Ups the ante to 12.

"Yo" back at yah, @Lewis. Really liked yer THE CRACKS with FALLS runnin through it; picturesque. Well done, my son.

Proposed themer set:
{Mt. Rushmore faces this} = ESDAK.
{It's NE of Virginia's Cumberland Gap} = SWWVA.
{Non-Calif. Surf City locale} = SENCAR.
{Where I-26 meets I-85} = NWSCAR.


mamasan 4:24 PM  

Xword Info says this is a pangram. Am i just not seeing it?

chefbea 4:31 PM  

@mamasan - I just counted all the letters. It IS a pangram = one of every letter. What letter did you miss?

Martel Moopsbane 4:52 PM  

@Roo - did you really panic at Burma, or was it more of a close shave?

chefwen 5:30 PM  

Well Wishes sounds better than withes, doesn't it?

Andrew Heinegg 6:27 PM  

Amen to your post.

Teedmn 6:31 PM  

I've knitted many sweaters out of WORSTed wool yarn but never used it to mean "defeat". But I'm pretty sure that same clue was used not so long ago - thought it was cute the first time, not so much this time.

Two pangrams in a row, both with minimal dreck; a decent theme, @Rex and @Leapfinger's comments notwithstanding, and a few cute clues. Two answers with two u's, nothing much to complain about today.

My last answer was RAPPORT. I was playing with the idea that 47A was trying to be CLA (College of Liberal Arts) but there were so many things wrong with that (ANNUL would be ANNaL, the clue would be self referential, etc.) didn't know Lacoste, figured it had to be Gene or Rene and went with the more likely, given the surname. It all worked out fine and I never went back to see what had become of PLU until I got here, ugh.

Like @John Child, seeing @Rex's theme answers made me think, "oh oh, here goes an epic rant" but was pleased to be wrong.

Thanks for the fun puzzle, Mr. DiPietro!

Leapfinger 7:35 PM  

@Andrew Heinegg, it would be sooo pleasant if you started addressing your replies to the person(s) you are addressing. Unless you're specifically aiming for ambiguity, in which case, please continue as you are.

Sheesh, @Teedmn, is a body not allowed a small grump? I enjoyed the solve gangbusters, only thought the theme didn't 'precisely' work as intended. And it wasn't *really* a Thursday hook. [Wish I knew how to bold like WhWhacks!] I even enjoyed the PLU me de ma tante.

@Martel MB - BurmaShave, lol

Now I need @Gilly for her initialism to BillyC.

Z 7:59 PM  

@Leapy - Be Bold and find your "<" and ">" symbols. Put a "b" between them before the word you want to embolden and a "/b" between them after. Replace the "b" with an "i" for italics. Don't include the quote marks. Hit the "Preview" button to see if you got it right.

OISK 8:05 PM  

Liked the theme, but otherwise a slow, painful slog for me. GTO? (product names, never know em.) Dana? Neyo? Don't like clue for "worst." or "Hard G" EsterC???? Really outside my wheelhouse all through, (except for Ed Ames and Ode to Joy, and I began with Oratorio for the latter). Plu?? Come on! Unu??


But I finished it.

rorosen 8:10 PM  

Leapfinger- because a while ago Rex wrote this:

potential answers for my "hidden African countries" puzzle (along with ANIMAL INSTINCTS (15!), that brings total such answers to two—I'm on my way!)

Leapfinger 9:18 PM  

@rorosen, I do remember that; you came up with a good selection.

@Lewis, did you notice the NENE square in mid-grid? Being as it's so close a RIB, that probably makes it a thoracic duck. That could have made it as a long-gone PPP
Just a little anatomy joke there, people!

Anonymous 9:20 PM  

Zome people just have a talent for clear inZtructionZ!

Lewis 9:30 PM  

@leapy -- thoracic duck -- is that like Jurassic Park? Oh, and just to see PPP made my heart smile...

Unknown 10:53 PM  

Thank God! I was very confused by that.

UNUknown 11:29 PM  

Everybody's a comedian.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Thanks Casco. I've been missing him.

Bur Davis 8:50 PM  

I realize I'm a bit late to the party on this one, but can't help adding info no one else seems to have provided. Mr. Parker says he doesn't know what 'red tag' means relative to Levi's. It's a reference to the red brand tag sewn into right edge of the left back pocket. My father used to tell me it was a target on the playgrounds of his youth: you'd sneak up behind someone and try to rip off their red Levi's tag (presumably damaging the pocket in the process).

Bur Davis 1:28 AM  

I see that somehow my browser search function failed me, and that two of you already had explained the red tag reference. Love the E-How reference, @NCA President.

spacecraft 10:59 AM  

I very nearly DNF because I was so unwilling to accept PLU. Short for plural? Yagottabekiddingme. The abbr. for plural is PL. There is no other. Big fat yellow hankie for that abysmal clue. If you need those three letters, you might read from a grocery store's register key: PLU means "price lookup."

I can't blame OFL for getting--tongue in cheek--at least the NW themer wrong; "CUTS through THECLUTTER" doesn't really ring "through" as a familiar phrase, at least not to the degree of the other three. That section gave me the most grief, finally unraveled by the pangram-fulfilling IQTEST/EQUUS. Wow, two days in a row--and without so much as a murmur from OFL!

Scrabblation also helped in the SW with CHEZ/ZENITH. One drawback of pangrams I haven't seen stressed here is the fact that they ease the difficulty level.

Who knew UNU? Not me. And at last, a PEI sans the I.M.!

Other didn't-knows: Cat ISLAM?? Really? EDAMES one of the Ames Brothers? Oh, I think I knew that at one time, but forgot.

Not a fan of HARDG, but been doing this long enough that I knew what he was looking for.

Theme was gettable, but not immediately. Chunky fill interspersed with giant gimmes made for an overall medium rating for me. Let's call it a B-.

3120. Improving; still not there.

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

First thought for What Germany's leader lacks was "penis"

Steven J. Wangsness 12:39 PM  

I CAN'T BELIEVE ALL YOU PEOPLE DON'T KNOW WHO ED AMES IS, especially since the clip featured above is probably the most famous Johnny Carson clip of all time!

rondo 2:01 PM  

Don't feel so well - I've got the PLU.
Took me a looong time to get the theme; all the way down to GOING through TABOOS.
Used to have a ZENITH television in the B/W days.
UNU it was difficult when having only to use crosses.Same with NEYO.
Anyone remember counterfeit BOXTOPS???

Number please:

rain forest 2:26 PM  

An interesting combo of clever and clunky today, but still an enjoyable solve. For some reason CUTS(through)THE CLUTTER just came to me and so two of the other themers were easy. Took a while for PULLS...because "comes.." is way more common. WORST=defeat? How can that be used in a sentence.

By the way, where is @Dirigonzo? Have I missed something?

Dirigonzo's friend 3:11 PM  

@rain forest - @Diri has been experiencing computer issues which have temporarily relegated him to occasional lurker status. He'll be back as soon as a particularly tenacious virus has been banished from his computer. He thanks you for your concern and says that he really liked today's puzzle.

Anonymous 8:07 PM  

I just finished the puzzle today, then read the blog, then turned on the TV and came across the old film "Alexander Nevsky" in progress. The first caption I read said "we have worsted you before and we shall worst you again."

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