Actor David of Dark Shadows / THU 3-19-15 / Successor company to Northern Natural Gas / Republic founded in 1836 / Nestle chocolate bar since 1988 / Title ship in W.W. II film / 1979 #1 hit whose title is sung with stutter / Musicians Russell Redbone

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Constructor: Todd Gross

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: imagined encyclopedia entries  — theme answers are common phrases in the pattern "___ TO ___" where the second word starts with the same letter as, and alphabetically follows, the first:

Theme answers:
  • BACK TO BASICS (4D: Encyclopedia volume on education* reform?) *(EDU is in the grid (23D)—not cool)
  • MADE TO MEASURE (17D: Encyclopedia volume on tailoring?)
  • NEXT TO NOTHING (7D: Encyclopedia volume on poverty?) 
  • RAGS TO RICHES (21D: Encyclopedia volume on wealth accumulation?)
Word of the Day: METACOMET (41A: Indian chief called King Philip) —
Metacomet was the second son of the sachem Massasoit. He became a chief in 1662 when his brother Wamsutta (or King Alexander) died shortly after his father Massasoit. Wamsutta's widow Weetamoo (d. 1676), sachem of the Pocasset, was Metacomet's ally and friend for the rest of her life. Metacom married Weetamoo's younger sister Wootonekanuske. No one knows how many children they had or what happened to them, but Wootonekanuske and one of their sons were sold to slavery in the West Indies.
At the beginning he sought to live in harmony with the colonists. As a sachem, he took the lead in much of his tribes' trade with the colonies. He adopted the European name of Philip, and bought his clothes in Boston, Massachusetts.
But the colonies continued to expand. To the west, the Iroquois Confederation also was fighting against neighboring tribes in the Beaver Wars, pushing them west and encroaching on his territory. Finally, in 1671 the colonial leaders of the Plymouth Colony forced major concessions from him. He surrendered much of his tribe's armament and ammunition, and agreed that they were subject to English law. The encroachment continued until hostilities broke out in 1675. Metacom led the opponents of the English, with the goal of stopping Puritan expansion. (wikipedia)
• • •

There's a cute idea at the core of this thing, but the execution just doesn't work. It just doesn't. Those imagined encyclopedia volumes are laughably short, and the whole point of encyclopedias is that they cover a variety of topics, in alphabetical order—and yet these imagined volumes are clued as if they are on a single topic. It all just doesn't work. On at least two levels. Nice (if possibly accidental) touch that the theme answers are themselves in alphabetical order. Also nice: some of the fill, namely JERUSALEM, "MY SHARONA," TIM BURTON. I'd add METACOMET, but honestly I've never seen that before in my life. I'm torn between calling an obscurity foul and embracing the weirdness of this new (to-me) name. It's a comet that comments on its own comet-ness. METACOMET!

The rest of the fill, however, is pretty poor. That NW corner is inexcusable, honestly. SELBY over ONEAD :( :( :( A little elbow grease and that corner could be a ton better. See also … lots of places. Yeesh, that western section. Just as the terminal "I" at 1D in the NW creates problems, so the terminal "U" starts a cascade of bad fill in the west. TABU INON ANYA BOSSA, all interlocking, none of it good. No reason these smallish areas should be so heavily laden with word parts and hackneyed fill. OHO YMA ASSNS IMET OLE OHO AHEM YMA AERO ODIE SELA TELE XII HIER … there's just a lot you have to endure in order to enjoy the good stuff.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Moly Shu 12:11 AM  

    Never heard the term MADETOMEASURE, but got it. Had RoadTORICHES before RAGS ( seemed to fit the clue better, IMHO ). The ANYA/BOSSA section was not too good, agree with @Rex. Fairly easy for a Thursday I thought. Wish my name was METACOMET.

    wreck 12:12 AM  

    Have to agree whole heartedly with Rex on this one. Obscurity should not be the "Thursday trickery" we are all looking for.

    Moly Shu 12:16 AM  

    Ah, but now I see RoadTORICHES doesn't fit the clue at all. All un-alphabetized and such. I'm not too CLEVER.

    jae 12:23 AM  

    Easy-medium again.  The South Central was the last to fall as STUNG, AREO, and GRATER took a while to suss.  Odd (I had the same thoughts as Rex) but amusing theme, some zippy fill...MY SHARONA, METACOMET (a WOE for me also),  TIM BURTON, ISALM (as cued), CROCS...liked it more than Rex did.

    According to the author at xwordinfo the alphabetical order was intentional.

    George Barany 12:28 AM  

    Full disclosure, @Todd Gross is a cyberfriend of mine, and I test solved this puzzle before he submitted it to the New York Times. I should point out that arranging the four encyclopedia "volumes" alphabetically, and for that matter vertically too, was a quite deliberate choice by @Todd, and by no means easy to pull off. @Gross's constructor comments are found over at, and are most instructive.

    @Rex, very cool comment about Metacomet, and thanks for sharing the link to the Beach Boys' song, which brought to mind an off-the-cuff comment by a former Presidential candidate. Here is another song link that is perhaps more relevant to this puzzle: a 17-year old SHARONA has now grown up to be a successful Los Angeles-based realtor (thanks to @Brent Hartzell for calling this to my attention).

    Finally, our constructor-du-jour shows off his versatility with Limited Engagement, a puzzle we're delighted to share with you today. With apologies in advance to a certain persistent denizen of Club Rex, we trust that many of the regular contributors to this blog will get a good laugh from this.

    Steve J 12:36 AM  

    Completely disagreed with Rex's take on the theme. These encyclopedia volumes do not cover a single topic. They cover a range of topics in an admittedly narrow range. Yes, only one is clued, but it's taking too literal a read to think that's the only included topic (Rex, unfortunately, this is something you've been doing a lot lately.) One needn't think too hard to come up with plenty of topic examples that would fit into each of these volumes. For example, BACK TO BASICS could include entries on banking, backgammon, barter, Balmoral, the Bahamas, badminton and so much more. I recall the more in-depth encyclopedias having to split certain letters into multiple volumes, so this isn't terribly far-fetched.

    The theme is not only cute, it works quite well. Real, in-the-language phrases, in correct alphabetical order, clued interestingly. Nicely done.

    Easily done, too. Wednesday's puzzle felt like a Monday to me, and today's felt like a Wednesday.

    Almost put ADS at 5D upon reading "Drapers' units" - and then I double-checked the apostrophe placement. And then was disappointed that it wasn't indeed a sly reference to Mad Men and the units created by Don Draper. That would make a great late-week clue/answer combo.

    Carola 1:09 AM  

    I really liked this. I smiled at BACK TO BASICS and went looking for RAGS TO RICHES, my only regret being that the puzzle was going to be too easy. But it wasn't - right down the center, from stem to stern, was a wash of SNOW white. It took me a long time to see NEXT TO NOTHING, because I'd wanted NOwHere, and MADE TO MEASURE, because I couldn't get MADE TO order out of my head - and METACOMET was offering me no help. I hadn't noticed the alphabetical order of the four volumes - extra nice!

    One grid pleasure for me was the memory rush evoked by ANYA Seton and "Dragonwyck" - instant return to high-school days of getting lost in weighty novels checked out of the library...I wonder if anybody else also read "Desirée"....

    Interesting cross of JERUSALEM and ISLAM.

    I ended with a double DNF: railroad CAbS instead of CARS, as I'd never heard of MY SHARONA, and the mAINE instead of the CAINE, even though "No no no, wrong war, wrong century!" was flashing in the back of my mind and the hint of the crossing CANE was right there.

    chefwen 1:18 AM  

    I'm with Rex on this one. I had to Google to get a toe hold, which is TABU esp. on a Thursday, then as the themes filled in I thought, that's it? Liked ORAGAMI and UNHINGE, but the rest just fell a little short for me.

    MY SHARONA was a song I rembered from the '70's , but the only thing that kept popping into my head was MY Sharkira, guess I've been reading too many People magazines lately.

    George Barany 1:20 AM  

    Full disclosure, @Todd Gross is a cyberfriend of mine, and I test solved this theme before he submitted it to the New York Times. The alphabetical, and for that matter vertical, arrangement of the four encyclopedia "volumes" was by design, as Todd explains in the constructor notes at

    I got a kick out of @Rex's riff on METACOMET. Another friend, @Brent Hartzell, shared this website of a successful Los Angeles area realtor ... 17-year old muses named SHARONA do grow up.

    Finally, please try Limited Engagement, another fun offering from our constructor-du-jour.

    Thomas 1:43 AM  

    Sheets on a ship are lines or chains. Not SAILS. Unless you're not a sailor.

    John Child 1:53 AM  

    I liked this a lot, both the concept and the execution.

    Downside: I found several of the clues off (e.g., SAILS as noted by @Thomas) or hard to the point of being unfair (SHINS, AMEN). But I loved clueing for CEL and TEXAS.

    Thanks Mr Gross.

    AliasZ 1:54 AM  

    A rather disappointing puzzle, sorry to say. I found very little joy in completing it, in fact I almost gave up in one of the isolated corners. The theme wasn't very CLEVER, it just limped along without much bravado. GRATER tightness and consistency, or some other snappy and ingenious reason for its existence would have been appreciated. On the other hand, there was an abundance of obscure names and clunky short fill -- somewhat surprising, since we have seen much cleaner work by Todd Gross in the past.

    One question: why did the clue for SHINS have to be so absurdly esoteric that only a tiny segment of solvers will know it, or recognize it as correct even after solved? Wouldn't it have been better to come up with a snazzy wordplay, like "kick targets", "feet under them" or "they are often guarded"? A new low in cluing, in my view. On the same basis then, ANYA should have been clued as "Mother in Hungarian" [which it is], a gimme for about as many people as SHINS, while leaving everyone else out in the cold. Which is what the SHINS clue did to most of us, I am sure.

    What I did like was JERUSALEM, the PAIRS|SOLOS and CANE|CAINE crosses, and of course, METACOMET. Because I never METACOMET I didn't like. Plus a few other entries that I found a tad above neutral, if not quite sparkling enough to list.

    This one went over like a lead balloon for me. Give me a rebus INSTEAD, or some other trick or wordplay on Thursdays. Please.

    Anoa Bob 2:10 AM  

    My first thought for 32D was David Bowie's Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes. But wiki tells me that was '71 and it doesn't quite fit anyway.

    Only a land lubber would call SAILS (37D) "Sheets on a ship". Sheets on a ship are lines that are used to control the angle of the sail relative to the wind.

    The expression "three sheets to the wind" for someone who is drunk stems from the same meaning of sheet. The "to the wind" part means one has lost control of the sheet and it and the sail are flapping around in the wind in an chaotic fashion. I think it's the losing control with potentially unhappy results that makes it a metaphor for getting sloshed.

    I'm with @chefwen in liking UNHINGE, such an evocative word. And METACOMET is awesome.

    Ellen S 4:31 AM  

    I'm a complete landlubber but even I knew, or believed, that sheets are not SAILS. It was some movie, I think it was "the Ghost and Mrs. Muir," Rex Harrison plays a dead sea captain. Kay Kendall is a widow who is being haunted by the ghost. She says how romantic it must be on the ocean with the sheets bellying in the wind. The ghost says, "Madame, sheets can't 'belly' - they are ropes." I know it's not appropriate to believe facts alleged in 1950's rom-coms, so I looked it up. Disappointed to find that my memory, and the movie's allegation, was correct (though I might have the wrong movie, of course).

    Other than that, I enjoyed the puzzle.

    Loren Muse Smith 4:45 AM  

    Big ole dnf here. I don't know Mandela's party, so that ANC/ACCRA cross I guessed wrong: ana/acara.

    And the southeast's CAINE/SHINS/CANE area almost got me. I see CANE now. *Inside* the front door.

    I had Rex's thought exactly on META COMET! This took all the crosses as it's a WOE for me, too (hey, @jea) and "Tecumseh" kept interfering, and I kept wondering if it was "Tecummset" or something.

    @Steve J – funny – so often I see that Rex's take on themers and reveals is way more critical than mine in that they're not tight enough or I'm not being literal enough, and I shrug and chalk it up to my inexperience.

    @Carola – "I smiled at BACK TO BASICS" When I saw the theme very early, I penciled in RAGS TO RICHES in the margin, thinking it could have been a themer, then thinking it could fit the "tailor" clue, then seeing that it indeed was included.

    @Carola – as usual, you have a great catch: JERUSALEM/ISLAM. And how 'bout SAG/GREW? And the pair TABU with ILLICIT ("illegal" first for me)?

    Agree with @AliasZ on the clue for SHINS.

    @Anoa Bob – My first thoughts were "Benny and the Jets" and then "K-K-K-Katie" (wrong ERA, I know.)

    Sadly, the cross for me that hijacked all my thoughts was the ("EDU reform") BACK TO BASICS/UNHINGE. I'm not a good enough writer to express my dismay at what I'm experiencing trying to learn to be a public school teacher. Any readers here – if you have a child in elhi, be afraid. Be very afraid. (I know you're going to talk me off the cliff, @Z, but you shouldn't have to). I. Am. Staggered by the red-tape, meetings, wheel –spinning . . .that is keeping me from figuring out how to impart knowledge to kids, kids whose performances on standardized tests form the basis for my evaluations. Staggered. It's so comical that I halfway expect Alan Funt to jump out and tell me I'm on Candid Camera.

    The link below is only for those with a dog in this fight. A school system in Virginia just lost a gifted teacher for so many of the reasons that I, too, may soon just throw in the towel.


    Anyhoo, I agree with @Steve J – this works for me, and I enjoyed the conceit. Thanks, Todd!

    Thomaso808 4:54 AM  

    I wanted the great BTO song "ain't seen nothin' yet" for 32D and even briefly considered notHinyet to make it fit. Oh well. MYSHARONA is one of my wife's favorite songs from back in the day.

    I liked the theme, but I was a little disappointed with the shortage of trickery, misdirection, or rebuses on a Thurs.

    @AliasZ I agree that SHINS Was fodder for a great clue. How about "Dem Bones connectors" or "Sites for splints"? What a waste.

    Charles Flaster 5:57 AM  

    Easy- medium and lots of fun.The alpha order was very creative and made me enjoy theme even more.
    Made me wonder if the younger crowd has ever seen or used an encyclopedia!
    Liked cluing for ORIGAMI, ONE AD, HONK and UNHINGE.
    Fortunately SELBY was the only proper name I had to suss out .
    CrosswordEASE--ANYA, YMA and SELA.
    Also liked JERUSALEM next to ARAB and crossing ISLAM.
    Excellent work. Thanks TG.(BTW-- RAGS TO RICHES is my favorite Tony Bennett piece).

    Charles Flaster 5:59 AM  

    I agree. NCLB is an abomination. Please hang in and do not lose your creativity!!

    Anonymous 6:21 AM  

    Back to Basics! King Philip's War (1675–78) was a signal event in the treaty-busting North American land grab and, according to Wikipedia, "is considered by many to be the deadliest war in the history of European settlement in North America in proportion to the population." Seems to me we should know Metacomet's name, and now we do, thanks to this puzzle.

    Danp 6:50 AM  

    @anonymous 6:21. Those who know the history generally know Metacomet as King Philip, as in King Philip's War.

    Thanks @Anoa Bob for the "3 sheets to the wind" explanation. That will be what I remember from today.

    Lewis 7:56 AM  

    Rex says "these imagined volumes are clued as if they are on a single topic". No. For instance, the NEXTTONOTHING volume could have pieces on, say, Nixon or Noah, to continue on a riff started by @stevej. And this is besides the point anyway. The point is the joke, which makes more sense to those of us that actually once used hardcover encyclopedia sets that had ______ to ______ on their books' spines. This isn't the first time I've heard this blank-to-blank encyclopedia joke, but it's always been funny to me, and the examples in this puzzle are excellent. Has anyone seen this theme before on a puzzle?

    I liked the clues to PAYTV and AHEM, and for me the cluing had bite. The puzzle is so segmented in the north and south, that, combined with the tricky cluing, made blank spaces sometimes hard to fill. That put my brain in high alert -- which I like -- and I enjoyed this solve.

    I never heard of MYSHARONA and had PEt for PEN, so ended with a DNF (MYSHAROtA). Overall, despite some icky fill, this was a winner for me.

    smalltowndoc 8:01 AM  

    Very clever idea and well done. As a child, I had the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, at that's how the titles on the spines read. Rex: you really believe the alphabetized order of theme answers was possibly accidental? You missed the whole point!. That being the case, you've disqualified yourself as a critic of this puzzle. Just another day where Rex has no qualms disclosing his stupidity to the 10-20 readers of his blog. I much prefer Bill Butler's Nyt XWord blog. More civilized, mature and educational.

    joho 8:05 AM  

    Very CLEVER concept, Todd, and well executed by you. I especially liked that the volumes are placed vertically on the shelf ... in alphabetical order no less!

    Loved the clue for CEL.

    Loved learning about METACOMET.

    I'd like to say I also loved learning about your teaching experience @Loren, but after reading your post with attached article, I was discouraged. It's a shame Josh Waldron left teaching just as I'm sure it would be a shame if you did, too.

    But back to the puzzle. I enjoyed it even though it did lack the trickery I look forward to on a Thursday. Maybe this one should have run yesterday and a rebus today. Maybe next week!

    Lewis 8:12 AM  

    Factoid: It is still a hanging offense in TEXAS to steal cattle or to put graffiti on someone else’s cow. It is also illegal to indecently expose or swear in front of a corpse in Texas. In Galveston, Texas, it is illegal to have a camel run loose on the beach.

    Quotoid: "I will not play tug o' war. I'd rather play hug o' war. Where everyone hugs INSTEAD of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins." -- Shel Silverstein

    Anonymous 8:18 AM  

    Who taught this idiot rex how to write? Let's take a few quotes from his review: "...the execution doesn't work." "It just doesn't." "It all just doesn't work." How does repeating yourself 3 times help your argument, inform or entertain your readers, or otherwise improve your "review?" This is lazy, incompetent writing that would fail a 6th grade assignment. The idea that this guy's opinions should have any impact on how anyone thinks about a puzzle is laughable.

    pfb 8:20 AM  

    I was going nowhere for the first few minutes and then solved counterclockwise starting in the SE corner. I thought of "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" for 32D, but knew that wasn't going to be it.

    Once I got the theme it went pretty fast. I had less time to solve this morning because my wife was heading to California and I had my own little pleasure trip --I drove her to the airport.

    L 8:22 AM  

    Sheets are lines, folks. Not sails. Sigh. DNF today, but it was a good puzzle. Just got flummoxed. My Sharona is still am awesome song - really holds up. Whatever happened to The Knack? Still have it on vinyl somewhere....

    L 8:22 AM  

    Sheets are lines, folks. Not sails. Sigh. DNF today, but it was a good puzzle. Just got flummoxed. My Sharona is still am awesome song - really holds up. Whatever happened to The Knack? Still have it on vinyl somewhere....

    Anonymous 8:24 AM  

    This puzzle was hard. It had words I didn't know. Therefore it was a bad puzzle.

    Rhino 8:27 AM  

    I agree with rex and cared for neither the theme or the fill. I did, however, like my donut. Chocolate, cream-filled, and gooey as hell.

    chefbea 8:31 AM  

    What a great puzzle. Got the theme right away. I too loved the clue for cel. Never heard of an aero bar. I'll have to check it out after I finish eating the bag of green mint M&Ms I bought for St. Patty's day.

    DShawMaine 8:37 AM  

    I Thought the theme was clever and well-executed, even if the constructor's old set of encyclopedias has very thin volumes. I particularly liked remembering Anya Seton's works, as she was a high school favorite of mine as well as @Carola's. SW corner (COPY/YMA) sent me to Google to learn about Soprano Sumac, so that and the sailing sheets are my lesson for the day (as a woeful landlubber, I filled in SAILS without a blink). I also liked the CANE/CAINE crossing and looked for another homonym pairing in the NE, which would have been CLEVER.

    Name that tune 8:38 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Dorothy Biggs 8:39 AM  

    @Steve J: I put in aDS too for the "Draper" reference...but I started to question whether an "AD" is an abbreviation or it if has become a word. So I suspected it from the start. Unfortunately, I didn't know SELBY/a, so I didn't know my aDS was wrong until I had to check my spelling at the end.

    I wouldn't say that there is a stutter in MYSHARONA...singing, "Muh-muh-muh-MYYYYSHARONAAAA" is just a vocal thing. Check out BTO's "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" for an example of actual stuttering. Which, as I understand it, was actually meant to be a joke, but they kept it and it became a hit for them.

    METAnOMET seemed to be what I had stored back in the part of my brain where stuff like this is kept. IMO, Metanomet is a better name than the real thing.

    I consider garnet to be much darker than RUBY...which I don't consider to be dark at all, as reds go.

    The ACCRA/ANC crossing was a killer too. ACuRA? ACoRA? ACeRA? Who knows? Could be ACqRA for all I knew.

    I didn't like this one. Too many off-the-beaten-path names and one too many OHO. Plus, and I hate to sound entitled here, but I've come to expect Thursday puzzles to have a gimmick not found in other days of the week. I'm not sure what sets this theme apart from it being a Tuesday/Wednesday puzzle. It's a pretty simple theme except that, well, it's vertical...but I don't think that really counts.

    Rug Crazy 8:50 AM  

    I enjoyed this.
    I NEVER met a comet I didn't like

    Armagh 9:09 AM  

    When the first clue out of the box relates to a soap opera that hasn't coined a new episode since 1971, it's bodes ill for the interest factor. A 1956 song title, a 1979 song title, a 1988 chocolate bar and...oh damn, a 2010 film reference, so very current. Dreary and far too easy for a Thursday.

    RooMonster 9:10 AM  

    Hey All !
    Cool puz idea, as themers are vertical, just like the encyclopedias were sracked at the parents house! I actually still have the Set my parents bought brand new in 1977! Remember, that's when the salesman went door to door selling them.

    I must object, however,, to the NW corner. An entire Natick Corner. Two people names, two product names, a city and ONE AD which was odd. Sheesh! (Hi @Loren!)

    Put me with the peeps who wanted BTO's You Ain't Seen Nothin Yet. Wouldn't fit. :-(
    My Sharona is a cool song, but I think stuttering is a stretch. Repeated, maybe...

    Not thrilled with the CAINE/CANE cross either. Personal tastes and all that. Alao had the A in ANa/ACaRA.


    pmdm 9:10 AM  

    Nancy, back in the 80's the song was ubiquitous in the bar I frequented, much to my dismay (I hated the song). It was quite popular back then.

    Today's fill went from HATEFUL to HORRENDOUS (or maybe HORRIBLE). Or perhaps TEDIOUS to TERRIBLE. Or perhaps ABOMINABLE to APPALLING (or maybe to ATROCIOUS OR AWFUL). Or perhaps DEPLORABLE to DISMAL.

    The editor and constructor will probably never admit to cluing SAILS incorrectly. Misuse of technical terminology seems to be acceptable (as well as misspelling Enescu's name).

    So did I hate this puzzle? You betcha. Happy to read I'm not the only one.

    Ludyjynn 9:10 AM  

    What @SteveJ said, word for word.

    @AliasZ and @LMS, it's a Thursday puzzle, folks; SHINS and ANYA were fairly clued, IMO.

    @NCAPres, RUBY is my birthstone. I am fortunate to be able to afford high quality, large, deep blood red stones from the country formerly known as Burma, in my ring and bracelet which I wear every day. They have become quite rare now. Most of the so-called rubies you see in stores today are lesser quality and lighter in color, some bordering on pink, and sourced elsewhere.

    @Louis, beautiful Shel Silverstein quote.

    Thanks, TG and WS.

    Norm 9:14 AM  

    Very enjoyable theme. Agree with Steve J's critique of Rex's contrary views. I didn't mind the NW corner that much, but I thought the SW was horrible. Just a little clump of nothingness. Still liked the puzzle though.

    jberg 9:16 AM  

    As they used to say back before ONE AD, one man's Mede is another man's Persian... In my case, METACOMET, ACCRA, and ANC were gimmes (I've lived in Massachusetts for 50 years, and lots of things are named for him here; I was once commissioned to write a short entry on the trail to King Philip's Rock for a trail guide, but it never got published).

    On the other hand, I got really hung up on ANYA Seton, due to some mental confusion regarding the similarly named saint (Ann) and the poet Anne Sexton. So I put in ANne, changed the e to A from the theme answer, but took forever to see that there might possibly, possibly be a song called MY SHARONA. (I did recognize it once I clicked on that real estate ad--the best part of which is the Sotheby's disclaimer!)

    I also spent way too long wondering if Utah Phillips's name could be spelled uTa.

    Bird 9:21 AM  

    No enjoyment from today's puzzle. Took forever to catch the theme and 17D just can't be a real phrase. The fill could be much better as @Rex and others pointed out. The first song that popped into my head was My Generation by The Who.

    You could write a whole paragraph from just the NE corner.

    Hopefully tomorrow is a better day

    BillyC 9:30 AM  

    Once again, there's Barany, promoting a puzzle on this blog that he's edited.

    To those who tell me to " just skip over" these posts, I'd offer the same advice about my posts, if they're so annoying to you, as his are to me.

    To those who tell me that they like Barany's puzzles, I'll once again point out that there's a perfectly fine place for him to promote them, in a list with constructors on the right side of Rex's page.

    To those who say Rex has okayed Barany's use of this blog space for self-promotion, I say --if this is true -- "shame on you, Rex."

    Tita 9:48 AM  

    Level 3 DNF - had to google the C of ANC. And when that still wasn't enough, had to google MYSHARONA - even listened to it, and can attest to nevr having heard it.

    (@Anoa - CH-CH-CHA for me too.)

    Liked that the volumes were sitting as on a shelf. Hmmm...maybe SHELF or BOOKCASE shoulda been at the bottom of the grid...)

    @lms - a dear friend, recently departed, wrote a book of his experience in the as a math teacher at a public school in the Bronx. His previous experience ran the gamut from NASA scientist to venture capitalist to film producer.
    Check "Man Overboard" by Ric Klass.

    @Anoa - you beat me to the 3 sheets story...
    This does seem like a genuine error. I know that whenever we think we've caught Will in a mistake, we find out how it's us that are wrong (one of Rex's FAQtoids), but I see no way that this common landlubber mistake is right. I'm waiting to hear how I am wrong.

    I thought I would never come close to filling the grid - after 3 passes, I had only a handful of answers. Way to many pop/brand names to be in my wheelhouse.

    I loved it anyhow! This is one of those themes that makes me say "I wish I had thought of that!!"
    Thank you Mr. Gross!!!

    Oh no - @Nancy now has a Blue Nancy troll. Don't worry - we know it's not you!

    Mike 9:51 AM  

    I agree with everything you said. Everything.

    Sally 9:58 AM  

    SAILS? Since when are clues wrong? Not ambiguous, but wrong?

    "Stuttering song" screamed out for Weird Al's "My Bologna" — much better than the original.

    And King Philip? Completely fair, if any knowledge of US history is assumed...

    Will Shortz is a total idiot. Wait, I just thought I'd prove that for all to see... 9:59 AM  


    Definition of SHEET


    a: a broad piece of cloth; especially: bedsheet

    b: sail 1a(1)

    quilter1 10:11 AM  

    @Carola yes I read Dragonwyk and Desiree and a bunch of other bodice busters from the library. I liked the puzzle, solving from the bottom up. Also appreciated My Sharona, today's earworm. I thought it was an easy to medium puzzle. Going through old photos recently I found the photo of my dad in his zoot suit. I hope that comes up in a future puzzle.

    Whirred Whacks 10:24 AM  

    I liked the theme.

    Got Shins through crosses (though I played with dreidels as a kid). Best thing was that when I looked up "dreidel" after the puzzle, I learned a new word:


    which is a gambling spinning top (with a long and colorful history). I was surprised that I did not know it, and it was fun reading about teetotums through the ages. So, thanks for that Todd Gross!

    John Child 10:27 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    r.alphbunker 10:29 AM  

    Laughed out loud when I got RAGSTORICHES. The other theme answers went in quickly after that.

    At 13 minutes everything was filled except for 12 squares in the SW corner. Those took me 12 minutes to fill in! Finally seeing COPY for {"Got that"} made all my other guesses work.

    Arlene 10:30 AM  

    This took a while for me to solve - but fun once I got the theme. The SW was last to go - and I had to google to get SHARONA.
    As others have commented, I imagined the volumes sitting on a shelf. And my puzzle-solving days began long before Google - when dictionaries and encyclopedias were used to figure some puzzle obscurities. Nice reminder of those days!

    John Child 10:33 AM  

    @BillyC - Do you have anything to say about the puzzle, today or any other day?

    Nancy 10:33 AM  

    @Rex Parker -- Now the troll has stolen the name "Nancy" in blue.
    See 8:38 a.m. today.

    Folks, I'm the real Nancy and I'm outta here! (Click on my blue name above, then click on his blue name at 8:38 and you'll see the difference.) There will be no more postings from me ever again nor will I ever visit this site again to see what this hate-filled sicko is doing in my name. Life's too short, people.

    Let me say goodbye to the solvers (by name)whom I've felt a real affinity with, and affection for, in the last year or so. You are the real reasons I will miss this site. Other than that, I still have the joy of solving the Times puzzle and no sicko can take that away from me. But I WILL miss (in no particular order):
    @GILL I; @OISK; @Steve J.; @Tita; @Alias Z; @Z; @Carola; @jae; @Teedmn; @chefbea; @NCA President. For one reason or another -- we've had nice bantering back and forth; I've learned something of value from you; I like the warmth of your writing; I enjoy your humor; I agree with your opinions on the puzzle -- whatever the reason, you are the people who come to mind most immediately. If I've left anyone out, I'm sorry. I would love to correspond with you directly, but I dare not put my email on this site, lest the troll find it. If any of you can think of a way that we can contact each other, without subjecting any of you to online or in-person harassment, let me know. I will check this site for the next 2 days to see if there's an answer for me, but then, I shall never look at it again.

    You know, I never even heard the word "troll" used in the cyberspace sense until I came here. I looked up "incivility on the Internet" online and found some terrific articles. It's ubiquitous and its growing and everyone seems powerless to stop it. A good reason for me, who's lived the huge majority of my life without the Internet, to get the bleep off it, I think. You may see more postings from blue Nancy in the future, but they will NOT be from me. So long, be well, stay harassment-free if you can.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:34 AM  

    Always hoping for a rebus on Thursday, but I found this an easy and different puzzle, although I was feeling a great deal of sympathy for those who object to an overabundance of trivia.

    My personal nit would be that 13 A should be A.D. ONE.

    We must have had a similar theme in the past, as I can remember citing the fact that even now I remember the labels on an encyclopedia set I had sixty years ago: A - ARC, ARC - BIL, BIL - CAR, CAR - COR, COR - DUM, DUM - FIR, etc.

    Z 10:35 AM  

    Regarding MY SHARONA.

    Really tough for a Thursday. ORIGAMI was redtApe, PEt name, terra nova, forgot my Hebrew alphabet, zERO before AERO.

    I agree with those who have noted OFL's excessively literal reading of the clues.

    @Sailors - If your knowledge slowed you down I'd call it an "einstein" (where too much knowledge becomes an impediment to quick solving). However, landlubbers have always out-numbered sailors and the idea that "sheet" is a metaphor for both SAILS and SNOW is more than fair for xword cluing.

    @fauxNancy - So you've figured out a way to extend your impersonation. Impressive. We would be more impressed, though, if you spent your energy joining in civil conversation.

    Nancy 10:36 AM  

    It's the real Nancy, one last time. I left out @Hartley70 in my list of people I'll miss. Sorry.

    Anonymous 10:42 AM  

    @(real)Nancy - I hope you will consider coming to Lollapuzzoola 8 in August and meeting some of us in person!

    Anonymous 10:46 AM  

    Hi everyone. Original anonymous here. There are people posting on this board with my name, "anonymous," and making me look bad. I will therefore leave this board and never post here again. You may see other posts from "anonymous" in the future, but he is an impostor. There is no way two people on the internet might have the same name.

    mac 10:47 AM  

    Medium and medium enjoyable to me, this Thursday puzzle. I also expect a rebus or some sort of conceit on this day.

    Had one mistake: Metagomet and gel. Oho saved the day, because I didn't know My Sharona.

    The alphabetical order raised this puzzle to a higher level for me.

    Tita 10:51 AM  

    @TrueNancy - don't let the trolls win!!
    But if you do stay away, you can get to me by clicking on my link and checking my profile.

    @Bob K - you're right, of course!
    Well, let me back-peddle by saying that Will ought to use his seat of considerable crossword power to educate whenever he gets the chance, rather than perpetuate.

    Oh - thanks for the link to the "You're welcome" article the other day - it was a great read.
    It also brought to mind my mother's, and possibly a Portuguese 'thing'...when someone complements you, you DON'T say 'thank you'.
    You say something, like - "Oh thanks - I got this hat from a dear old aunt of mine who bought it with her first paycheck back in 1947."
    My take is that a mere Thank you sounds too *superior*... "Yes, of course you like my hat - I am fabulous. Thank you."

    chefbea 11:00 AM  

    @real blue Nancy..why don't you change your name..or juste the spelling..Nanci or Blue Nancy. We will miss you. I'll give you a bunch of beets if you stay.

    mathguy 11:11 AM  

    @Real Nancy: I'll miss you.

    @r.ralph bunker, @Arlene: Like you both, had to labor to get SW corner. Even though YMA was a gimme. She's been in the puzzle for as long as I can remember

    @D Shaw Maine: Thin volumes indeed. If Back To Basics were a volume, the set would have hundreds of volumes.

    Joseph Michael 11:11 AM  

    Best theme of the week. X to X phrases that not only have key words starting with the same letter and then arranged in alphabetical order, but are also each in common usage. So fie on Rex's nitpicking critique which, for me, was NEXT TO NOTHING.

    Agree that the fill was less than grand. For example, never heard of MY SHARONA or METACOMET. But with a theme this good, I ain't complaining.

    old timer 11:22 AM  

    Nancy. NANCY! Are you listening? Why don't you make up a PEN name instead of using your own? Plenty of Nancy's in the world. Plenty of old timers, too, but I regard my made-up name as worthy of a trademark, even if I have not paid a fee to register it with the Feds.

    I liked the puzzle. I did not mind that the imaginary encyclopedia must be as big as the OED. What I did not like was not knowing ANYA or MYSHARONA, which I had to get from Dr. Google.

    For the life of me, I sometimes don't understand Rex's rants. Nothing wrong with ONEAD in my book. He's right, though, the short fill was somewhat hackneyed and maybe could have been improved. This did not have the panache of a Patrick Berry xword.

    As for METACOMET, he was no hero in my book. He and his allies murdered innocent settlers without mercy, hoping to drive the whites out of New England. But then, a lot of my ancestors came from Plymouth and that part of Massachusetts. They were grateful for the armed assistance many other Indians gave them.

    AliasZ 11:23 AM  

    Once again, there's @BillyC tilting against windmills. Thanks Billy for your indefatigable uphill battle to keep our blog safe from the Baranys of this world. It is a worthwhile endeavor that provides a few chuckles and no results. Keep up the good work! I also sense the undertone of a budding bromance, akin to grade school kids expressing their attraction by hitting or bumping into each other. Trust me, in your case it's entirely unrequited. You have no hope, but it's not worth coming UNHINGEd over it.

    Why I didn't like the theme:

    I did appreciate the alphabetical arrangement of the vertical encyclopaedia "volumes" left-to-right, however BACK TO BASICS and MADE TO MEASURE barely need more than a couple of pages, I wouldn't call them volumes. NEXT TO NOTHING and RAGS TO RICHES fare a little better, but still hardly volumes.

    How about a geographical encyclopaedia covering every corner of the world from AACHEN TO ZULULAND, with volumes titled BAALBEK TO BYZANTIUM, MAASTRICHT TO MUZZANO, NACOGDOCHES TO NYURBA and RAAB TO RZESZÓW. Such a variant would more closely follow the "encyclopaedia volume" clues, and it would also maintain Thursday crunch, obscurity, and the need for Wikipedia. Clearly, this version would not depend on common phrases (of which MADE TO MEASURE is not one) as punny volume titles, but would offer a travelogue slant INSTEAD.

    Let us now travel to JERUSALEM via English composer Hubert Parry (1848-1918), and to Berlin via one of the musical LEONS I knew: American pianist LEON Fleisher.

    Enjoy the rest of your Thursday.

    Penna Resident 11:23 AM  

    i very rarely post here but chose this name last year when rex claimed that penna was not a real abbr for PA because the official xword dictionary is the scope of his knowledge. since then the reviews have mostly consisted of monotonous inconsistency.

    it used to be "its all about the fill" and now its a game of gotcha regarding obscure "problems" with every theme (except from certain constructors of the inner circle).

    this wasnt the best puzzle fill-wise, but you cannot complain about the theme. well-known alliterative phrases of paired equal length in which the first word precedes the second alphabetically. the theme answers were the only part of this one that i liked, which is usually the case on thurs.

    Noam D. Elkies 11:27 AM  

    What's he to Hecuba, or Hecuba to him…?

    Hamlet II ii 559

    Nancy 11:36 AM  

    Oh, God, @mathguy, I forgot to mention you. You are definitely one of the people I will miss! So sorry.

    @chefbea and @old timer: Whatever new name or pen name I use, the troll will duplicate it. And far faster and more effortlessly than I'll be able to change it, since he's computer-savvy and I am not. It's just easier to get completely out of his path, since when I'm not there to be bullied, he'll have to find another vic. No fun bullying someone who's not there to notice.

    @Tita. I've tried to click on your email and other blue posters' emails in the past. Here's what I get on my screen:
    "Could not perform this operation because the default client is not properly installed." I have no idea WHAT that means or how to rectify it. If you -- or anyone -- can give me instructions, I'll be able to communicate with ALL of you. But right now I can't communicate with any of you.

    @Anon. 10:42. Great advice! I plan to. Will go to the site and find out how.

    ArtO 11:40 AM  

    Lots of obscurity which led to a struggle but finally found the theme at RAGSTORICHES and all but the SW went down quickly thereafter.

    Really liked the theme, BTW.

    GILL I. 11:42 AM  

    @Nancy blue....(insert sadness emoji here)...I remember way back when I was the SMF Manager for Mexicana Airlines and two local TV stations came to get a scoop on a devastating earthquake in Mexico City. My face was plastered all over the evening news. I started getting phone calls (really eerie ones) at all hours of the night. I had to change what I thought was my unlisted phone number. It eventually went away, but yes, it was creepy.
    I'd like to take this stupid fake, shove him in an elevator, spray TABU all over him and hit every single floor button. I guarantee he'd be sick as a dog after the second floor.
    Think about getting another E-mail account...
    @Loren....(insert another sad emoji face) How depressing!
    Oh, the crossword....Add me to those that never heard of MY SHARONA. Didn't know SELBY nor Isaiah's JERUSALEM. I am real glad to know that TEXAS was founded in 1836.
    Even though I found this hard, I rather liked it.
    ODIE solved a sudoku?

    Anonymous 11:46 AM  

    @real Nancy: associate a picture with your account like so many regular posters here do. It's easy to do, and hidden users can't pretend to be you. See Aliasz above, for example. Non illigitimi carborundum, or something like that.

    Sir Hillary 11:50 AM  

    Nothing wrong with this puzzle. Sure, you'd need 200 volumes to complete the alphabet if all of them spanned such a narrow range, but who friggin' cares? And what exactly is wrong with the NW, W and SW? I haven't seen any "better" alternatives, even though OFL and others claim they're easily "fixed". I get it when certain aspects of a puzzle annoy -- happens to me all the time -- but it's amazing how quickly that can lead to "this whole puzzle sucks."

    I had Get The Knack on endless rotation back in 1979. "My Sharona" was and remains quite the earworm, but the whole album was a power-pop masterpiece, and I listen to it to this day. They released a second album that didn't do nearly as well, then faded from view. Two of the four band members have since passed away, including Doug Fieger, the lead singer who wrote "My Sharona". Trivia: Fieger's older brother Geoffrey is a lawyer of some renown, best known for representing Dr. Jack Kevorkian throughout his lengthy legal battles.

    Oh, and @George Barany, for what it's worth...Blithering Idiots Love Lacerating Your Comments, But I Like Learning Your Crosswords.

    What You Can Learn From Crosswords 11:52 AM  

    So a simple Google turns up this comic strip of Odie solving a Sudoku. Not very satisfying, even for a Garfield strip, sorry to say.

    But the second Google hit on the same subject is a real gem. This must be one of those books I've read about which are "written" by computer and sold to the unwary!

    Tita 12:01 PM  

    Right-click on the "Email" link in our profiles, and select *Copy*. Then open an email window, and *Paste* into the To field.
    It should paste in the email address.

    (That message means your device thinks there is no email program wants to automatically create a new email and populate hte To field for you, but it doesn't know what program to open. If that keeps getting in your way, maybe a nearby 12-year-old can help you! (And I don't mean that in a snippety way at all!))

    mathguy 12:04 PM  

    Spoiler Alert. This comment has information about a crossword which appeared in the March edition of the Hawaiian Airlines magazine.

    During a six-hour flight to Maui last week, I was paging through the magazine from the pouch. I found a crossword which had been partially filled in. Poor soul, I thought, stumped by a minor league puzzle. I decided to devote ten minutes or so to polishing it off.

    It was a 17x17 titled All Things in Laniakea by Garison Piatt. It had four long entries running across. The clues were "Sirius ('canoe-guiding star')" (14 letters), "Comet ('streaming star')" (12), "Space ('highest atmosphere') (12), and "The Red Planet, to Kealoha" (14).

    I had most of the letters from all four from the crossing downs. Some of the downs were not easy. "Jane's Addiction album Ritual _____ Habitual" for DELO, "Quickie Cleaners sign" for ONEHR, "Vegas target" for WHALE, for example.

    It turns out that the long acrosses were Hawaiian words. HOKUHOOKELEWAA, HOKUWELOWELO, LEWALUNALILO, HOLOHOLOPINAAU. Spaces, apostrophes, and dashes omitted.

    Not a happy way to begin my vacation. A mid-air DNF.

    Howard B 12:07 PM  

    I agree somewhat that the fill was perhaps not ideal or maximized. However, what I want from a puzzle is entertainment through knowledge, wittiness, and the ever-elusive "aha moment" (not the "a-ha moment", which I say is the joy of hearing a song from a long-forgotten 1980s band in an unexpected place - but I digress).
    Here, the theme is original, clever, and to my experience, a joy to discover. So I certainly got my fix today. Thanks, Todd!

    Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:14 PM  

    fave Encyclopedia topic: "NOTHING". Makes m&e really want to know the topic right next to NOTHING.

    fave fillins: PAYTV. ORIGAMI. Ma-Ma-Ma-etc.-MYSHARONA. TIMBURTON. Meh-Meh-Meh-etc.-METACOMET (learned somethin new, tho).

    fave weejects: EDU. STU. (When in doubt, go with the vowel that brought yah)

    Cute theme idea, even tho the pick of the Encyclopedia topics was somethin I was Unable to Utter. Oh... wait -- !!

    @Nancy: Don't do it! (Even tho M&A didn't make the faves list... shows U have taste)


    ** EZ gruntz **

    Dorothy Biggs 12:18 PM  

    @Nancy for Realz: Trolls have been around since the beginning of time...they're just people who like to stir up crap. For anyone who has been on the internet for any length of time, you can spot them within a sentence or two then you just ignore them and move on. I'm with a previous poster who said to not let the trolls win. I understand it is hard for you, since whoever it is is using your name and all, but really, for most of the posters here, we can tell the difference.

    The best way to deal with trolls is to ignore them. They are not posting here (or anywhere else) for any kind of conversation...they just want emotion (read: anger, frustration) and that's it.

    Some troll trolling NCA President in 5...4...3...2...1...

    Nancy 12:35 PM  

    @Tita -- the right click/copy/
    paste thing didn't work. I do have a Google email account; it's my secondary account that enables me to receive music files that my primary Yahoo account doesn't accept. I only check the Gmail account when I'm expecting email from the one or two people who know about it. Nevertheless, I didn't put down the Google email address on this site, as I wasn't sure it was safe to do so. IS THAT WHY I GET THE DEFAULT MAIL CLIENT MESSAGE? Is either Google or Rex insisting that I first reveal my own email address? (If that's NOT the reason, then maybe I'll go searching for that 12-year-old!)

    dk 12:38 PM  

    🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

    Just do not think INNER means hidden. For the rest I agree with Rex. So much for a little thrill.

    Please note I have a cold and hate everything today.

    Z 12:45 PM  

    @Nancy - go find that 12 year-old. Although I'd recommend a 21 year-old. The 12 year-old might look at you like you are using a Victrola. Tech changes fast. How fast? When Rex started this blog the iPhone didn't exist. So what you need is someone who was 12 in 2006.

    Penna Resident 12:45 PM  

    merriam webster does:

    - not known to or seen by most people

    Fred Romagnolo 12:49 PM  

    When I checked @Nancy's 8:38, I got "removed." My guess: Rex removed it. @Anon8:18: Rex teaches lit at a University, what are your qualifications to diss his writing style? @Loren: put up with the rigmarole - get appointed - then, when the classroom door is closed and you're alone with your students, YOU are running the show, and can enjoy opening up the world to them. It's worth it! @Ellen's: I think the actress was Gene Tierney, not Kay Kendall. Wasn't Kendall his wife? And for all of you who @Nancy didn't mention, I love you (except the @Anons).

    Martel Moopsbane 12:49 PM  

    The Who's "My Generation" gets my vote for stuttering song, but it was way earlier than 1979.

    There is a Metacomet Trail in central Connecticut. It's part of the state-wide system of blue-blazed hiking trails.

    I never saw anything wrong with SAILS for sheets, proving that I may be a robot, I guess.

    Chip Hilton 12:51 PM  

    I loved it. Rex's complaint about the word spans in the encyclopedia entries is really nit-picky. And, METACOMET is not obscure to all of us. It is Thursday, after all. Lots of good clues and fill made for a rather quick and enjoyable challenge. Thanks, TG.

    George Barany 12:52 PM  

    Violating my self-imposed "no more than one post per day" rule, but have enjoyed many of the comments, including those dealing with computers and internet profiles and trolls. It brings to mind this wonderful quote from Groucho Marx, playing a character named Rufus T. Firefly in the immortal "Duck Soup":

    "Clear? Huh! Why a four-year-old child could understand this report. Run out and find me a four-year-old child. I can't make head or tail out of it."

    Zeke 1:15 PM  

    @Nancy - If you right click on Tita's email link and paste it into your email "to" address, it is You have to delete the mailto: portion and you should be ok.

    Also, beyond simply not letting the bastards win as a reason for, well, not letting the bastard win, how about if you leave, he'll go back to impersonating Evil Doug, or just pick on someone new.

    Tita 1:28 PM  

    Nancy - in the context of don't-leave-for-all-the-great-reasons-listed-above,
    reach me via
    Tereza at

    Tita 1:29 PM  

    treacy dot net

    Anyone here I communicate with, I'll forward your emails if you expressly ask me to.

    K - I need to get back to work!!

    Numinous 1:30 PM  

    @Nancy, Although I didn't make the list, I too will miss you. Please stay. We all know how to ignore trolls. For the email addresses, you may need to highlight them before clicking on copy.

    I thoutght this puzzle was fine and got the idea that the encyclopedia volumes were tongue in cheek. Didn't feel that they needed to be taken literally. References to the How to Hug joke make that clear. I liked learning about METACOMET and the Prince Philip War. I didn't find the rest of the puzz particularly exciting but I liked that it led me on an internet journey through New England colonial history.

    Anonymous 1:33 PM  

    Nancy--here is Tita's email address. He made it public so not sure why he wouldn't just tell you what it is rather than the whole cut and paste rigmarole:

    Zeke 1:39 PM  

    @Anon 1:33 - She didn't just type out her email on the internet because she the internet is filled with bots that continually scan for email addresses, to provide to spammers.

    I'm sure Tita will thank you until her dying day for all the Viagra emails she's about to get.

    Mohair Sam 1:42 PM  

    @Nancy-for-real- Don't go! I enjoy your posts. Make up a new name, include a picture of your dog, anything - just don't let the bastards get you down.

    @Steve j - Perfect post today (that means I pretty much agree) - right down to the aDS for Don Draper.

    @Ellen S - That was Jean (be-still-my-heart) Tierney as Mrs. Muir alongside Rex Harrison's ghost. I saw the movie (again) just last week on AMC - and noted too (again) Harrison's comment on "sheets" - that's where I learned the correct meaning of the term that so many have pointed out here.

    Liked this one a lot, especially the theme - very clever. I don't feel the need to defend the theme because so many have defended it so well - especially Steve j. and @Lewis. Only unhappiness was with SHINS/STU cross (obvious guess on STU, but still . .) and the SAILS mistake. Didn't mind the short fill at all.

    Anonymous 1:48 PM  

    One can never have enough viagra. Who know, maybe SHE'll meet a wealthy Nigerian prince who doesn't need it.

    Anonymous 1:53 PM  

    I wanted BTO's "You Aint' Seen Nothin Yet" for the stuttering song.


    Anonymous 1:53 PM  

    Nes gadol haya sham. Shin as in sham. Po if one is in Israel.

    Whirred Whacks 1:56 PM  

    @Nancy Sorry the trolls are getting you down. Try spending some time on Twitter — which is an enjoyable cess pool. That'll give you a "thick skin." ;-)

    Here's my free advice:
    1) create a new account with a distinctive name like NYCNanc (or some such) and image; and,
    2) ignore the trolls. They get on my every now and then when I say anything the least bit negative about Barack or Hillary. I ignore them (that's where my thick skin comes in handy).

    Anyway, good wishes whatever you figure out.

    @MathGuy When I think of a "midair DNF," I think of flight 370. I think what you experienced was pretty tame.

    MetroGnome 2:04 PM  

    JBerg --

    Was the late, lamented Utah Phillips really a "country" singer? I think he'd probably have called himself a "folk" singer, if anything. Me, I was holding out for "SAM" until I realized it just wouldn't fit (not that she's really a "country" singer either, but she is kinda rootsy).

    Meanwhile, though, I got totally flummoxed by that mishmash of proper nous and brand names in the NW corner.

    The Internet has a long memory 2:11 PM  

    @Whirred Whacks. Yes, people pick on you for the most trivial of things:

    Feb 16, 2015:

    Whirred Whacks 12:19 AM
    Fun, zippy puzzle!

    I initially mistyped Princess LEIA's name as LIAE which made SEX the answer for the 20 across clue "Instrument for Bill Clinton, informally." I thought, "Hmmm."

    I obviously changed it to SAX, but "sex" did seem plausible considering the many womanizing and rape allegations against Clinton, and his more recent ongoing association with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. (Reports show that Clinton flew 11 times on Epstein's private jet dubbed the "Lolita Express.)

    Enjoy your Monday.

    JTHurst 2:22 PM  

    Fred, you love me, you really love me??

    Somebody has been impersonating ED? Maybe that is why he has been more gentle lately.

    I do not like rebus puzzles but I do like them more than a puzzle with over 25% specific and ambiguous noun solutions. I like to ruminate over the clues which I can not immediately answer. But with specific noun solutions there is only one answer. And who didn't immediately know that renown country singer Stu Phillips who is now running a winery near Nashville.

    I would assume the only people who immediately knew Dave Selby were those mathematical types who take their after-lunch break to watch soaps.

    Wood 2:32 PM  

    Agree the theme is solid and Rex misunderstood it. That's OK, Rex, we're not perfect either.

    RooMonster 2:37 PM  

    There goes Barany, breaking his rule of posting twice! The nerve of this guy... HAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    Anonymous 2:51 PM  

    You know, encyclopedias don't actually have entries for MADE, ORDER, RAGS, RICHES,.... These are entries dictionaries would have.

    Unknown 2:56 PM  

    Yes indeedy.

    Unknown 2:57 PM  

    Yes indeedy.

    Tita 3:02 PM  

    Well, ya gotta keep a good sense of humor.

    Basic TENET reminder - only divulge your own personal info - never do it on behalf of someone.

    Are bots and spiders scanning the intertubes, glomming up every email address they can algorithmically find?
    Natasha - I'm lookin' at you...

    Will my really CLEVER subterfuge above keep them at bay? Well, at best, it will only keep the laziest of the ILLICIT trolls from grabbing what is already there, "hidden" one skimpy level deep.

    @Anon- You can also SITBACKANDENJOY knowing that you have caused me great gender confusion.
    For that, I can only hope that a total stranger posts your bank account or SSN here for our mutual enjoyment.

    Thanks @et al for your funny rejoinders.

    And as long as I've been lured back, who knew there were so many stuttering songs??!

    RooMonster 3:21 PM  

    Wh-Wh-Wh-Wh-What you t-t-talkin b-bout, Ti-Ti-Ti, lady?


    Thomaso808 3:24 PM  

    @mathguy those were some pretty long Hawaiian words you ran into! The Hawaiian Airlines puzzles are created specifically for each bi-monthly issue and use words taken from the articles in that issue, which means there was an article about Native Hawaiian astronomy or related subject.

    I hope the rest of your vacation went well, but I t would be the same magazine on the return flight!

    Carola 3:33 PM  

    @Nancy - I've enjoyed getting to know you through your posts and would miss you and them. I join those asking you to reconsider.

    Anonymous 3:52 PM  

    Correct: main sheet, jib sheet, etc. if these lines run out of their blocks you lose control; hence "three sheets to the wind to describe a drunk

    Nancy 5:15 PM  

    To say that I am deeply touched by the many, many caring sentiments expressed here today would be like saying bears are a little bit fuzzy and Ireland is a little bit green. I am blown away by the concern, kindness and warmth expressed by so many people. Too many people, in fact, to thank all of you individually. I definitely feel I am in a real community, even though it is, of course, virtual.

    I am also bolstered by the fact that faux Nancy at 8:38 was removed earlier and that Rex may have taken action on my behalf. (If that is so, Rex, I can't thank you enough!) So I'll hang around for a while and hope for the best. In the event it doesn't work out, I have Tita's real email (thanks to a benign Anonymous poster) and will use it, if necessary, in the future to try and find a way to contact you all individually on this baffling Google Blogger whatever-the-hell-it-is.

    Thanks again. Love you all. Really!!!

    foxaroni 5:19 PM  

    "My Sharona" was so ubiquitous back in the day' it generated a lot of pushback. For example, there were popular bumper stickers that read "Knuke the Knack."

    I completed the puzzle with no Googles. By definition, then, it was too easy.

    To paraphrase a Sonny and Cher song title: Nancy, Don't Go.

    jae 5:43 PM  

    @Nancy - You will be missed. By the time I got back to the blog the 8:38 post was gone. This blog was much more peaceful 7 years ago.

    okanaganer 5:54 PM  

    @Thomaso808 said "I wanted the great BTO song "ain't seen nothin' yet"...

    BTOs Randy Bachman has a great show on CBC Radio (Canada) called Vinyl Tap, and he devoted an entire episode to 'hit rock songs with stuttering'. Amazing how many there were!

    Ludyjynn 6:25 PM  

    @FredR, love you, too.

    @RealNancy, hang in there!

    @okanaganer, thanks for the great link.

    Anonymous 6:29 PM  

    Hated this one. A shining example of trivia-filled puzzle. Just look at the NW corner. SELBY, ONEAD and CROCS crossing SOCHI, ENRON and LEONS. A 4x4 natik square.
    Ant that is just in one corner. I refuse to tax my memory challenged brain with obscurities.

    Hartley70 7:21 PM  

    Oh my word!!! I spent the day getting my retina examined and consequently lounging in a boring dark room, so I'm a little tardy reading today's posts. I was prepared to talk about my boys Massasoit and his kid Metacomet because my senior prom was held at the King Philip Inn, so that makes me a pseudo expert on those nasty RI Indian wars... that and the grammar school pageants of course.

    Whew, I'm happy to get to the end of the comments and see that @Nancy has decided to tough it out for the time being. You add a great deal to my enjoyment of Rexworld and I would miss your point of view. Plus I was hoping to brave the Westport tournament next year together (I'll pick you up at the station) so it would be a bummer to have you disappear. If you do decide to throw in the towel and your initials are NG, I think I can find you. I've always wanted to be a detective.

    Oh yeah, good puzzle though a bit obscure for me. I always like a Thursday.

    aging soprano 8:12 PM  

    As one of the @anons tried vainly to ellucidate, for those of you who have never played dreidl, it is a little 4 sided top that one spins. It has one Hebrew letter on each side, which stand for the words: "great, miracle, occurred, there", referring to the miracle of the Chanuka holiday. The letter SHIN stands for the Hebrew word meaning "there". But in JERUSALEM they use the letter Peh instead, which stands for the word meaning "here". I think JERUSALEM may be needing another big miracle again soon.
    @Lewis thank you for the beautiful quotoid.

    aging soprano 8:13 PM  

    As one of the @anons tried vainly to ellucidate, for those of you who have never played dreidl, it is a little 4 sided top that one spins. It has one Hebrew letter on each side, which stand for the words: "great, miracle, occurred, there", referring to the miracle of the Chanuka holiday. The letter SHIN stands for the Hebrew word meaning "there". But in JERUSALEM they use the letter Peh instead, which stands for the word meaning "here". I think JERUSALEM may be needing another big miracle again soon.
    @Lewis thank you for the beautiful quotoid.

    chefwen 9:01 PM  

    YEA! Nancy is going to stay. I would have missed you.

    mac 9:33 PM  

    We need like buttons on these posts!

    Lewis 9:34 PM  

    YAY Ms. Nancy! Glad you're hanging around.

    Fred Romagnolo 9:39 PM  

    I see @aging soprano has double-blogged again. The only time it happened to me was when I screwed up on deciphering those squiggly letter "prove you're not a robot" things. Anyone else with the same experience?

    Anonymous 11:50 PM  

    B-b-b-Benny and the Jets.
    B-b-b-bad to the bone.
    B-b-b-baby you ain't seen nothin' yet.

    old timer 11:45 AM  

    Zooming in from the future, to say that Bruce (Utah) Phillips wrote lots of songs that were covered by country artists. There's a lot of overlap between folk and country. Certainly Bruce used to hang out with the folkies, who were happy to give him a bed at night and jam with him if he was in the mood. He believed in peace, charity, and respect for one's fellow man, and inspired many of us to want to be like him.

    Teedmn 7:39 PM  

    @Nancy, sorry to post a day late but I'm glad you decided to hang in there a while longer. You are one of the many commenters I enjoy reading and it would be a shame if some loser chased you away. Thankfully, the faux Nancy post was gone by the time I got here. Stay strong!

    aging soprano 8:12 PM  

    Seems to occur automatically snd then I can't figure out how to delete it. Help!

    aging soprano 8:13 PM  

    Seems to occur automatically snd then I can't figure out how to delete it. Help!

    Burma Shave 12:14 PM  


    ISAY I HAD NEXTTONOTHING most of my life,
    was STUNG by MANY exes – those USERS, those witches!
    So INSTEAD I became UNHINGEd and took a CLEVER wife,


    spacecraft 12:37 PM  

    I did not find this "medium." I must have sat there, staring at a grid with only SELA (on that entry alone, I am prepared to forgive ALL ills!), IMET and YMA to look at, for at least half an hour. Tons of stuff I didn't know. I was on the verge of giving up. Happened to be glancing at the clue "____moons." All I could think of--prompted by the unknown Indian farther down--was MANY. That didn't seem right...but what the hell, suppose it WAS MANY. And suddenly I saw JAM/JERUSALEM, and I was in.

    When the smoke cleared, I had a finished grid, but with several guesses scattered about. Was it all right? Lucky me, it was!

    This baby was Saturday-tough, to me. Look at the cluing: SHINS is a perfectly good word, but clued as a dreidl letter it leaves all Gentiles out in the cold. "White sheet" for SNOW? AERO as a chocolate bar? AHEM a word of pardon?? Oh, as in, pardon me. Yeah, that's gettable. Sorta. These aren't unfair, but man, seeing Bugs in a CEL: that one comes close. And who knew that our beloved ODIE ever solved a Sudoku? Suppose we didn't get the paper that day?

    The theme was CLEVER enough; I'm not bothered by the narrowness of scope. It's just a play on some common phrases. Works for me. It was (for me) challenging, I did finish it with only one writeover (oNto INSTEAD of INON), and it does contain my heartthrob SELA, so how can I give it less than an A?

    rondo 12:38 PM  

    Sill waiting for OLE to be clued "Sven pal".

    rondo 12:39 PM  

    Honk if you liked this puz. No write-overs, but it took a while to catch on to the happenings. Did not find it as miserable as OFL. Very tolerable I thought. Better than cramming 4 or 5 letters into one square.

    Everyone do the BOSSA Nova or the CANE-CAINE.

    SELA Ward is a closer-to-my- age- yeah baby. Have had a crush on her for 20+ years.

    Both those LEONS are kings in my book.

    I remember teaching several younger, but CLEVER, ladies some of the finer points to the strains of MYSHARONA back in the day. AHEM.

    A Thursday without a silly gimmick works for me.

    rain forest 1:25 PM  

    I'm among those who liked this one. If you expand your mind, those "slim" volumes expand as well. Nice use of common phrases in a clever theme.

    Interestingly, I did the NW corner lickety-split, and I can't say I had an issue with anything else. Well, maybe, the SAILS clue, or INNER for hidden, though I guess it works. INNER thoughts, eg.

    Overall, easy-medium here, hope Nancy stays, love SELA too.


    BS2 2:13 PM  

    I’d love to see our SELA, with NEXTTONOTHING on,
    and SELA could be the BOSSA me, ORIGAMI until dawn.

    Fruit Flies Like A Banana 3:58 PM  

    METACOMET once: Bill Haley

    DMG 4:04 PM  

    Had a hard time getting started, but once I got the theme idea, with RAGSTORICHES, it fell with appropriate pauses as I stumbled over names. My last stumble was with the stuttering song which, due to my PEt name ended up MYSHAROtA-pretty close for something I have in all likihood never heard, Sorry to see anyone ousted by the trolls.

    1702. One too many!

    leftcoastTAM 6:07 PM  

    I liked the puzzle and, as usual, Burma Shave was the topping on the cake.

    Anonymous 9:07 PM  

    Lots of nonsense about 37D. Sheets can either mean sails or lines. Look it up.

    This one was hard but I really enjoyed finishing....finally....after many interruptions.

    I left in My Sharana and I don't care. So take that, Mr. Gross. I may compose a new song by that title. hehe

    Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA

    P.S. Agree wholeheartedly with Rain Forest.

    D_Johnson 11:13 PM  

    I lost a lot of time trying to use ropes of lines instead of sails. I'm no sailor, but I learned that sheets are lines for controlling the sails over 50 years ago.

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