Record label whose name derives from Greek myth / THU 11-10-16 / Grandpa Walton portrayer / Colorul corn balls / Old ship constellation / Fish whose name is calculator number turned upside-down / Chances left after Slim left town / Compound under control by Kyoto Protocol

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Constructor: Jonathan M. Kaye and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Jworm — the word "HOOK" represented by the letter "J" (for I hope obvious reasons)

Theme answers:
  • RINGING OFF THE J (18A: Getting tons of calls)
  • BY J OR BY CROOK (29A: No matter how)
  • BE ON TENETERJS (42A: Wait anxiously)
  • J, LINE AND SINKER (53A: 100%) 
Word of the Day: RIGEL (30D: Star in Orion) —
Rigel, also designated Beta Orionis (β Orionis, abbreviated Beta Ori, β Ori), is generally the seventh-brightest star in the night sky and the brightest star in the constellation of Orion—though there are times where it is outshone in the constellation by the variable Betelgeuse. With a visual magnitude of 0.13, it is a remote and luminous star some 863 light-years distant from Earth. // The star as seen from Earth is actually a triple or quadruple star system, with the primary star (Rigel A) a blue-white supergiant that is estimated to be anywhere from 120,000 to 279,000 times as luminous as the Sun, depending on method used to calculate its properties. It has exhausted its core hydrogen and swollen out to between 79 and 115 times the Sun's radius. It pulsates quasi-periodically and is classified as an Alpha Cygni variable. A companion, Rigel B, is 500 times fainter than the supergiant Rigel A and visible only with a telescope. Rigel B is itself a spectroscopic binary system, consisting of two main sequence blue-white stars of spectral type B9V that are estimated to be respectively 3.9 and 2.9 times as massive as the Sun. Rigel B also appears to have a very close visual companion Rigel C of almost identical appearance. (wikipedia)
• • •

I think I needed this. Simple. Straightforward. Competent. Like some nice toast and chamomile after you've been violently ill for 24 hours. "J" is HOOK. HOOK is "J." Yes. Yes, I can handle this. Is it going to get harder? Uglier? Thornier? No ... no, it's just the HOOK. Phew. OK. Can deal.

[Aw yeah. Alright.]

This puzzle was super-easy. I finished in just over 5, which was higher than I thought. Then I realized the puzzle is 16 rows high, not the usual 15, and the over-5 time made sense. 48 black squares is a Lot of black squares, even for a super-sized grid. Very segmented and choppy, but (mercifully) the 3- and 4-letter fill doesn't get into brutally bad or banal territory too much. Scrabble-f*cking in the SE corner totally not worth it (ATOZ, never worth it), but otherwise, grid is polished to a more-than-tolerable degree. I think SLOW LEAK is the most interesting / original non-theme thing in the grid (50A: Start of a flat, maybe). Definitely held me up the most, required the most thinking. Only flats in my mind upon seeing the clue were apartments and musical notes. Other slight hold-ups occurred in the east, where I plunked down RANI off the R- at 35D: Eastern V.I.P. (RAJA). And then with symmetrical abbrevs. in the NE (17A: It may require gloves, for short) and SW (59A: Plan to leave shortly?). Both good clues, both, briefly, stumpers.

OK, then. Onward. Upward. Crossword.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Thanks for being such a great community of people. I have rarely needed community more.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 4:36 AM  

Boy, howdy this was hard. Hard. When I finally saw the trick, (great aha moment), it was Still hard.

Two huge errors really messed me up: "power trip" for power GRAB and misspelling TENTERHOOKS as "tetterhooks."

I'M HERE – hmm. Fashionably late. Hmm. Do they really say that? Maybe it's a tacit I'M HERE – sweep in, toss your hair, pose, whatever. People who are late vex the bejeezus out of me. If you're late every now and then, fine. If you're always late, then the message you're sending is an arrogant I'm More Important Than You Are and you can argue all day that I'm wrong, but I'm not wrong and that's that so there. And, yeah, I'm still in a nasty mood.

MAGNETO was tough as I'm usually curled up with Tolstoy or Jane Austen. Comics? Never read'em. Just kidding!

"What greater gift than the love of a ____" – first thought was "pewit." Speaking of @M&A, I bet you got a kick out of this puzzle. Bet you wish you had thought of it.

Jonathan, Jeff – yeah, I noticed your names – this was hard even after I got my Js into it, but it was a fun, satisfying solve.

California Submarine Vet 5:14 AM  

Rex old boy, i survived six years with The Terminator as governor. I also survived six years in the US Navy submarine sevice. We shall survive this as well.

chefwen 5:21 AM  

Got off to a rocky start by filling I D MinOR at 11D because what the hell word ends in J? None that I knew of.

25D I knew was AJAX, so that finally set me on the right path. I also knew that TWIN fit at 45D, but I had a D where the T belonged, because as I live and breath I have always thought the expression was TENDER HOOKS, Yeah, I don't know what that means either. Amazing what you learn after this many years.

Cute puzzle that tripped me up in more than a few places.

John Child 6:04 AM  

The SE with ATOZ and XYZ was the only cloud this morning. Nice to have that today. Like all trick puzzles for me, it was hard and then it wasn't. A couple of minutes on the challenging side overall.

For @Rex: I Will Survive

Mr. Fitch 6:26 AM  

SE was very tough, I thought. And I got hung up on the cross of ARCARO and RASHAD, neither of which I knew and both of which seem relatively obscure. I wouldn't call this easy,

smalltowndoc 6:27 AM  

Had some difficulty in the southwest. Otherwise, easy for me too,

Got the theme with D MAJOR since I already had most of 18 Across and was pretty sure it wasn't going to end with a "J", and, it is a Thursday, so I was expecting a tricky theme.

Regarding the election, we're a resilient people. After the shock wears off, we'll realize life goes on.

Bigmistake28 6:43 AM  

Fun theme, which I figured out fairly quickly, but that did not help. I struggled with beefalo / faure and xyz/ atoz... the second one I am embarrassed about, the first not so much. I'll blame my dreadful time on hangover from Tuesday!

Lewis 6:51 AM  

Way to rub it in, guys, with a puzzle featuring the President-elect's middle initial.

What a gorgeous grid -- see all those hooks?

I learned the expression "covering the waterfront", and (like Rex), really liked the answer SLOWLEAK. Nice to see a new clue for EEL (and a clever one at that). I like the cross of RUNG and RINGING_OFF_THE_HOOK. The theme was fun to figure out. The grid is pretty clean. I had fun with this. Thank you J&J -- glad you J-ed up on this puzzle!

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

My mom passed away a year ago at age 90.

She used to say "This country survived eight years of Ronald Reagan - it can survive anything."

Hope she was right!!

Ω 7:45 AM  

@Lewis - Yep. I saw all the hooks the second I flipped to page C3. Personally, I thought the grid gave too much away.

I have to downgrade this further because all those hooks in the grid created a plethora of three and four letter answers (42 by my count). If short fill is the glue that holds a puzzle together, this puzzle has glue seeping out all around the edges. I get why one might like the visual effect, it just didn't do it for me.

I was hoping the WOD would be TENTERJS. But, no, Rex made me look it up myself. Small blessing there, as it led me to the link and how can you not love a blogger who titles a post "On tenterhooks and petards." My kind of people.

As for "we have survived X before so be hopeful," Bah. Thankfully, our country was founded on a deep distrust of power and anyone who would want to wield it (so much so that early on it was considered disqualifying to campaign for one's self) and so designed with checks and balances. I get more consolation from Machiavelli observing (playing loose and fast here) that it was one thing to get power, quite another to keep it.

Dorothy Biggs 7:54 AM  

Not easy at all for me. I have heard (a long time ago) someone use "TENTERHOOKS" but I have no idea what they are or how to spell them. TiNTER? Yeah, I know...RIGEL should have been a gimme, but still.

EVAC as clued and SALVOS/ARIANA crossing it took me a did the dreaded (is it dreaded?) XYZ Affair. I smugly threw in ERAT at the very first, but started to doubt because I thought 68A was something more Asea. So that took me a while.

Then there was the whole "What day is this?" thing, thinking it was Wednesday, I held off getting the theme...and that took me a while. Once I remembered it was Thursday, then I got the J = hook thing and started moving faster.

This wasn't my worst time, but it was on the longish side.

For the record, and for those keeping track at home, I'm a he.

And also for the record, I refrained from including the name of Satan in my post yesterday because of how much baggage he carries in our culture, but he too is a kind of chaotic of those god-like beings who reminds us of our mortality.

And for those of us still reeling from Tuesday night, keep in mind what the stoics teach (in part and extremely paraphrased): it can ALWAYS be worse. Always. So for now, we solve puzzles and remember that puns are awful.

Passing Shot 8:02 AM  

Rex -- my thoughts exactly. This was clean and fun, with a little crunch in the SE. I also thought the expression was "TENdERJS." Got FAURE off the bat as he's one of my very favorites.

Thousands of people marched on trumppunk tower yesterday. In the rain. It was a beautiful sight that gave me hope.

Tita 8:27 AM  

Loved this clever theme. Clue for EEL more than overrides the ese quality. In fact it works on two self-deprecating levels... It is a funny, in-your-face clue for stale fill, and, it's a nod to stale fill itself, since spelling words with calculators was something we did when those new-dangled devices first came out. (And costing as much as a 10-speed bike).

Also liked clue at 22A. Even though that was half a natick for me, yes, I might remember the horse's name, but never the jockey's. I'm fine with takes all the risks.

@Chefwen... I always drop in _M__OR and wait. I'm almost as bad with keys of musical works as I am with jockeys.

This played medium-challenging for me. The aha moment was great, no helped with some of the fill once I finally got it.
Thanks Mssrs. J&J!

Hartley70 8:27 AM  

After a lifetime on TENdERHOOKS, the second T did me in! Have I had wax in my ears? I wonder how many other malaprops are lurking in my vocabulary.

This was not easy for me. It took me a while to see the J's because I began using a "hook" rebus, this being Thursday and all. I like the J even better. Once I had it, the themers were obvious (except for that blasted T).

The fill was wonderfully torturous here. TRIX took me the longest, holding up the SE. "Silly rabbit, TRIX are for kids!" and that explains why. ATOZ wasn't any easier. MYMAN made no sense. MOI isn't automatically a question to me and I tend to solve in English unless directed otherwise. I love the cluing for NBC and BEEFALO. OTTAWAN was tough. I tried "attaché". ARCARO, MEESE and WOOLF were pleasantly historical because I knew them. OSHA was so tricky!

I loved this puzzle. It was just the tonic the doctor ordered after my 24 hour "grippe", a wonderful word lost to common usage but lodged in my memory bank. Thank you Jonathan & Jeff for starting this day off on the right foot.

chefbea 8:28 AM  

Tough puzzle. Couldn't figure it out so had to come here!! I call them a stack of pancakes...not hot cakes!!!

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

" ... the word "HOOK" represented by the letter "J" (for I hope obvious reasons)"

Well sure, as a tribute to early 1960s NY Mets pitcher Jay Hook of course!

QuasiMojo 8:40 AM  

I think of a hook facing the other way. At least when decking my Tannenbaum. And now I've got Christmas Tree ornaments on my mind (before Thanksgiving too!)

I used to be on "tenderhooves" when I was a kid before I learned the correct expression.

Darn AcrossLite did not recognize my completed puzzle even though I had it 100% right, "by hook or by crook."

Happy Thursday everyone even if it felt like a Monday.

Tita 8:40 AM  

...*it helped*...
As long as I'm back, anyone else get hung up with dnaLAB. If I'd gotten that right, probably woulda gotten the theme right away. So, glad I didn't...I needed this simple struggle to overcome.

jberg 8:46 AM  

OK, someone has to mention the elephant in the room. FREON (20D) is NOT a "compound under control by the Kyoto Protocol." It is true that freon is a greenhouse gas, but the Kyoto Protocol does not regulate any specific greenhouse gas (besides which it expired some years ago). The Montreal Protocol, on ozone-destroying substances, does regulate them, so replace Kyoto with Montreal and you've got a good clue.

I didn't know that guy in Mad Men, so I went with panCAKEs in my stack,and never quite fixed it. I ended up with a pOTCAKE, something we legalized here in Massachusetts on Tuesday. That and power GRid were my only difficulties.

kitshef 8:51 AM  

Got the trick right of the bat, flew through the grid, then hit that SE corner and ground to a halt. I think that corner alone took more time than @Rex took for his entire solve.

Still don't understand the clue for ATOZ, nor the clue for RICO, nor the clue for ERAT. Filled in the right answers, but they were all guesses (reasonable ones, but guesses still).

Other than that corner, a nice solid puzzle with some PPP that will trip some folks up (MAGNETO, ARCARO, MEESE), but that happen to fall in my wheelhouse, so I'm happy.

Joel 8:59 AM  
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Ω 9:12 AM  

@kishef - I vaguely recognize the idiom, but it and "cornball" made that SE corner the hardest.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

I gave up. And I was on a 24 day streak. Because it doesn't matter...the worlds going to hell in a basket, and I'm supposed to care about a crossword puzzle?

Anonymous 9:19 AM  
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Unknown 9:30 AM  
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Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:31 AM  

Well, he's in the puzzle again today, but as a clue this time. Star in Orion -RIGEL, first thing we filled in. and it's right around the corner from Alpha dog! There was, however, a CAT lurking just around the other corner. I liked being reminded of the XYZ affair, a complex situation in the early days of democracy in the USA and France that produced all sorts of upheavals in congress and the popular press but did not result in all-out war.

Unknown 9:31 AM  

Thanks, @Rex, for your review of today's collaborative puzzle by @Jonathan Kaye and @Jeff Chen, but most of all for your P.S.

I have made many friends through this crossword community, not all of whom align with me politically, but I welcome our interactions, both on- and off-Rex. The key words are decency and respect.

That off my chest, I appreciate being reminded by @Rex of Dr. Hook &the Medicine Show, and look forward to someone (@AliasZ, perhaps?) sharing a musical clip from Gabriel Fauré (his Requiem might be particularly appropriate).

And (hello @Loren Muse Smith), I will cop to having worked out MAGNETO from my vast knowledge of the comic book literature (being ironic), after having first considered the much more logical MAGenTa color.

Mohair Sam 9:40 AM  

Fun. Played medium here.

This genius threw BEONTENTERJS right in there and didn't hesitate for a second on the second "T" like so many of you klutzi. Then actually had to ask puzzle partner if the was a four letter word in the English language that started with "TW" - humbling.

Senator Elizabeth Warren sent nice message to Trump yesterday about working together where there might be common ground, class lady. Speculation on "Morning Joe" this morning that the common ground could be the carried interest tax loop hole for hedge funds. Set me to wondering if Wall Street can sue Hillary for return of those speaking fees. Talk about a bad investment.

Alex 9:42 AM  

I found this puzzle to be difficult. I figured out the J part easily enough, but I had difficulties with sections of the fill.

Mel Torme 9:51 AM  

SE corner was a bear for me! Didn't know about the XYZ affair (a quasi-war in 1798, which I never learned about in history class), didn't get how covering the waterfront means covering everything (it's from the book, movie (1933) and song "I cover the waterfront", btw), I don't think about TRIX as being cornballs, and I didn't take Latin. I knew amo, amas, amat from x-words, but hadn't heard the "to be" conjugation before. Thankfully I remembered "is this the end of Rico?" line from Edward G. Robinson, so I was able to get a toe-hold, but that little square was definitely a real time-sink for me.

evil doug 9:54 AM  

SLOW LEAK was one of those vivid phrases oft heard in the military. It referred to a guy who might get a task accomplished, but only under micromanaged attention from their supervisor. Even lower were "buddy-f***ers", who were useless enough to take their squadron mates down with them....

Yes, yes, let's purge all of this election bullshit, pro and con, out of our systems by closing time today so we can all celebrate a day tomorrow that we generally agree upon. Then we can resume our tiresome epilogues on Saturday, okay?

Nancy 10:01 AM  

Loved the rebus part, which I got early from AJAX at 25D and I confirmed the J when I then saw RINGING OFF THE J at 18A. So almost immediately I had two of the four rebuses. But I fell into a lot of other traps -- Power GRid before POWER GRAB; TENdERHOOKS before TENTERHOOKS (A doppelganger is a DW-N??? Whassat?) Also nSA before TSA and ELEcTRA before ELEKTRA (enough with the cutesy-poo spelling, all you commercial enterprises out there!) And while I never wrote anything in, I wanted tOOLe at 60A, having failed to initially see WOOLF. Not too much PPP -- though all of it was in places guaranteed to make my solve more difficult. An enjoyable struggle with a worthy opponent -- and just the diversion I was looking for. Thanks to the two Js.

Unknown 10:03 AM  

@Steve Reed, the ATOZ answer can be parsed as "A to Z" -- like in a complete set of encyclopedia volumes -- not that far a stretch to the clue about "waterfront."

Re-emphasizing the point made elsewhere, there are twelve islands of 4 black squares, each in a J shape (or like a certain Tetris piece) for a whooping 48 blocks out of 16 x 15 = 240 total squares = 20% (the usual limit is 1/6 = 16.6%, but exceptions are allowed in unusual cases, of which this is clearly one).

The OSHA clue, i.e., "It may require gloves, for short," was very clever, at 17-Across. Bonus points for originality with the EEL clue at 21-Across.

Comey what may, who else put in DNA ahead of FBI in 13-Down?

CDilly52 10:12 AM  

Thank you @Rex for being the catalyst for the community. Good people all; who can disagree yet constantly find common ground. Hmmmmm....we might be on to something..

kitshef 10:12 AM  

I frequently get some amusement from @Loren Muse Smith postings. Today's 'pewit' was her finest.

Nancy 10:16 AM  

So many of you have commented on the cleverness of the OSHA/gloves clue. It was so clever, that it went right over my head. Can someone please explain it to me (with apologies for my obvious denseness). Thanks.

GILL I. 10:19 AM  

@George...@Tita did the same.
This was tres difficult. AJAX was my hero and so I got the hooky theme. Hand up for TENdER. I was going to say that I always thought it was TENDER HOOKS because I always make those kind of mistakes. I'm glad I had company
Loved Joe HAMM in Mad Men sharing space with Netflix BINGE. That's exactly what I did with that series. Hamm looks just like my father - even with the cig dangling out of his mouth.
As much as I loved this puzzle, I had a DNF - TRIX ERAT ATOZ did me in and I couldn't remember what doppelganger meant so he became a new made up word - as in DWIN.
@malsdemare...Is this brainfrazzling enough for you?

Nancy 10:21 AM  

@GILL -- Your father must be one handsome dude!

pmdm 10:33 AM  

Kitshef: Normally one uses the infinitive case when talking about verbs. Etre in French and esse in latin translate to "to be" in English. Part of the conjugation of esse is sum, as in "I think therefore I am" (Cogito ergo sum). Sum means "I am" in Latin. Erat is the third-person singular imperfect active indicative of the Latin verb "to be." Think of QED (quod erat demonstrandum or "that which was to be shown". In the classic movie Little Caesar, the nickname of Little Ceasar was Rico. "Cover the waterfront" is an English idiom I have never heard of that basically means to deal with every detail of something. Thus, in the idiom. waterfront means everything, which is also the meaning of A TO Z.

There seems to be a lot of comments which refer to the recent election. It's depressing that as with the Gore-Bush election, the candidate with the most votes lost the Electoral College vote. That's not exactly what I would call democracy in action. Ironically, the results of this election are probably what the Founding Fathers were afraid of when they created the Electoral College, which really doesn't work the way they expected.

But what really bothers me is this. Every great empire in the past was eventually destroyed. Make no mistake: no country, not even the USA is invincible. The aftermath of decisions can yield unexpected results. I don't think anyone correctly predicted the aftermath of the Iraq Invasion, for example. While while at this point I don't think anyone should panic, I do think we should remain vigilant about where this country is headed toward.

John V 10:36 AM  

SE was hard, but the "J" person love it. Hard to beat a Jeff Chen grid, is all I'm sayin'

Masked and Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Horseshoes, anyone? (yo, @muse)

Got a little immediately thrown off on what the theme would be about, when I saw all those darn black square backass-L-shapes prancing around the grid. Evidently, those things are odes to J's. Then I get this long 29-A entry startin with BYJOR… Said to self: there ain't a whole lotta J-O-R (or B-Y-J-O-R) words. Contemplated axin AJAX. M&A Motto: When in doubt, start workin on an elsewhere puz area. Eventually got most of RINGINGOFFTHE? filled in, and of course smelled me a rebus. Then remembered that there temporarily abandoned BYJOR dealy. Sudden "ahar", and I was hooked up.

Cute idea and all. High black square count probably on account of makin all them lil square-jawed-J shapes. 15x16 grid size probably also related to accomodatin floatin semi-J-shapes, somehow.

fave weehookect: XYZ. Has alphabetic immunity.
fave whiff of desperation: FBILAB. Debut entry. OTTAWAN Kenobi also gets honrable mention.
fave unknown French dude: FAURE.

Pretty clever, Hookonathan & Hookeff. Thanx for all the fun.

Masked & Anonymo2horseshoes

RooMonster 10:41 AM  

Hey All !
Hooks in the puz as J's, and Hooks with the black squares. Very nice. Didn't notice the 16 long grid, so thanks for that Rex, but as @George Barany stated, it's still a high block count at 48.

But easy? Ha! Not so much... My grid has some inky spots. Writeovers: panCAKE-HOTCAKE, DMinOR-DMAJOR, AhAb(?)-AJAX, insets-ASASET, ABSolvE-ABSENCE, nSA-TSA, OTTomAN-OTTAWAN, RAni-RAJA, ERgo-ERAT. Then that SE corner did me in like some others. Had TRIs, RA__, ATOp. Yep, left two empty squares down there. Was so happy with myself that I figured out the theme, too. TSK.

Do under 30's know the calculator thing? Wasn't crazy about NBA and FBI as answer parts in same puz (and crossing, no less).

Has the mass EVAC started yet?


jae 10:44 AM  

Medium for me. nSA before TSA, GRid before GRAB (hi @Nancy) emir before RAJA, and for the first time in my life I now know it's TENTER not TENDER.

Liked the J shapes and the puzzle.

@Nancy OSHA is responsible for workplace safety and might requires that gloves be worn for certain types of jobs e.g. food handling.

Don McBrien 10:46 AM  

Challenging for me. Top half fell pretty easy, but struggled in the south...SE particularly, but it broke eventually. TENTERHOOK is a new phrase to me.

Just wanted to point out the elegance of having the rebus appear in the middle of the two middle theme entries, bookmarked by entries where it appears at the beginning and end of the entry. Also, no other Js in the puzzle...maybe that should go without saying with a theme like this, but since I've started trying my hand at constructing, I have new appreciation for little features like this.

Carola 10:58 AM  

Medium for me, until the brutal SE. Me, too, on getting the rebus with AJAX followed by a happy zoom through the theme answers.
Went wrong: Thought Quantico was a Marine Corps base; honorS before SALVOS, RASHiD made ARCARO invisible for a while.
Lots of nice Downs!

Re: TENdER HOOKS - my favorite of its ilk is a phrase one of my daughter's students used in an essay, writing that a certain assertion should be taken with "a grain assault."

@Don McBrien, thanks for pointing out the J positions.

mathgent 11:05 AM  

Not easy here. It put up a fight.

I love Jeff Chen.

I was happy to see the J blocks after having them pointed out here.

Absolutely nothing wrong with it but it didn't quite provide the delight of an A puzzle. B plus.

seanm 11:13 AM  

got the theme off the bat, but this still took me >30 minutes. medium thursday for me until getting totally stymied in the SE.

can't remember being totally blocked by so many short intersecting clues at the same time. had SINKER and KTRA to get started, figured RACY was the only choice, but then just nothing. didn't know "Little Caesar", though RICO was a plausible guess, though i assumed it was an adjective not a name. never thought of TRIX as corn balls, and without the R or X, really tough to guess that one. XYZ was a total woe, as was ERAT, and of course ATOZ.

i wanted to respond to George Barany, who said "like in a complete set of encyclopedia volumes -- not that far a stretch to the clue about "waterfront."" i think you're missing the confusion. ATOZ conveys "everything" in a somewhat reasonable way, but how is "everything" connected to "waterfront"?

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Agreed. This seemed full of super obscure proper nouns I'd never heard of.

I was stuck without the theme figured out and MEESE, ARCARO, BEEFALO, RASHAD, GEER AND FAURE still blank, so I struggled. Guess I need to brush up on my 1940's jockeys.

Masked and Anonymous 11:18 AM  


@RP: 75 words. 5.12 average word length. Not unusual ThursPuz stats. Bigger grid, but lotsa colored-in squares, too. So … solve times should be about normal, if puz is of average ThursPuz difficulty. M&A finds almost all ThursPuzs pretty tough, tho --- so what do I know.

@jae: Grid called, and said "yo!"

@muse: I did have one mildly-sorta similar runtpuz idea recently. Check it out, in the usual comment area place.

Today's riddle: What do U call each of the two bottom black square shapes in this grid? Answer be low.


Answer be low: J-LO.


Pete 11:56 AM  

POWERGR[ID] provided my only obstruction to a record time. My conviction (seriously!?) that the J looks more like a crook than a hook and thus 29A was hopelessly flawed was my only complaint about the puzzle.

The Clerk 12:06 PM  

Loved the OSHA clue. Like others, had difficulty in the SE scrabble-land. PS It's tricky to make inferences from the popular vote if the candidates weren't trying to maximize the popular vote. If they were, they would have focused on their safe states, not the swing states and the results could be quite different.

Greg 12:06 PM  

Finally threw in the towel in SE. Did not know ERAT, RICO or XYZ, so combine with TRIX and ATOZ, hopeless. And I still don't get how there's a "waterfront" connection to ATOZ.

GILL I. 12:12 PM  

@Nancy...He was. He also passed down the handsome genes to my two brothers. My youngest brother could be a double for Andrew Lincoln in "Walking Dead."
@Carola...Hah! I've done so many of those and the only people who corrected me were my mother and grandmother - they are both deceased. However, one escaped them.... Waiting with baited breath...!

Numinous 12:34 PM  

I found this to be pretty easy, two thirds my average time. I got it at BY hook OR BY CROOK but that wouldn't fit until I saw the J. I did not fall into the TENdER JS trap because I know what TENTER hooks are used for. If you have ever bought fabric you can see the holes made by them along the selvages of the fabric when it was dried and sized.

I really liked the clues for OSHA, EEL, and EXAM. ELEKTRA took me a while even though some of my favorite artists recorded on that label. Unlike @Rex, "B SHARP" never occurred to me for SLOW LEAK. FAURE was almost a gimme, I had to think for a bit to remember him.

I believe J & J did very well with this puzzle, Thank you both.

Malsdemare 12:38 PM  

@Anonymous 8:28. My husband worked for Jay Hook in the 80s or 90s. He (Jay Klaus) has two cousins Billy and Bobby who also played pro ball and the two Jays would spend many happy hours swapping insider stories before they got down the the business they were supposed to talk about (Steel).

@NCA Prez My bad; I'll return that leg I stole from your X forthwith.

I'm with those who thought the puzzle was HARD though was pretty thrilled with myself when I caught the "hook." Yes, GILL I, it was brain-frazzling enough. All sorts of stuff I didn't know, never knew, or knew once but no longer. RICO, TIEFIGHTER, MAGNETO, HAMM, and some very clever cluing that I just flat out failed to see. Good one, Js.

@Z Finally, a Machiavellian idea that gives me hope. Keep 'em coming.

Giovanni P. 12:46 PM  

Ah, the J blocks arrangement was something I didn't catch while solving. Nice touch to the puzzle. I did get it clean, but that south part took a bit to fall.

Keep those you love and trust close folks. We need the positive energy now.

AliasZ 12:55 PM  

This puzzle seemed on the easy side for me, having gotten the trick at RINGING OFF THE J. I did wonder for a moment what D-MAHOOKOR was. I liked the twelve visual hooks in the grid which I noticed only after I was finished.

ATOZ is right up there with DOOK and GOAT.

To paraphrase Michael Jackson:
"A TO Z, easy as XYZ
Or simple as do, re, mi
A TO Z, XYZ, baby, you and me..."

After MEGATRON the other day, today we pay homage to MAGNETO, MY MAN, which reminds me of the Graham Greene novel Our Man In Havana and the film based on it, directed by Carol Reed who also directed The Third Man, also based on a Graham Greene novel -- both available FREON Demand at TCM, I think.

I liked the ABJECT ABSENCE of a SLOW LEAK in this puzzle. Thanks Jonathan and Jeff.

@GeorgeB I'd love to oblige, the FAURÉ Requiem being one of my favorite religious pieces alongside Duruflé's work by the same name. However I do not want to ruffle the feathers of @Anonymous with my pretentious music recommendation. Anonymice have feelings too.

Mr. Benson 12:58 PM  

Good theme. Perhaps they could have made it more interesting (and more challenging) by having some of the hooks not be free-standing words -- hidden in "hookah" or "all shook up" or something. (I can't think of any examples that would span more than one word, though.)

old timer 1:12 PM  

As a history MAJOR in college I immediately put in XYZ in the SE. Took a while to get ERAT though and I figured someone once said "cogito ERAT sum' Which seemed wrong. TENTERhooks I've always known how to spell, fortunately.

I doubt Mr. Trump will appoint anyone as loathsome as Ed MEESE to his cabinet. GIngrich is a nice guy in comparison. Being a Californian I had to endure 16 years of Ronald Reagan. I'm sorry Hillary C lost, but am grateful Senator Cruz will not be in the Oval Office.

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

Irony abounded for me today - while filling in RINGING OFF THE J, I was on perma-hold for a certain postage meter company rep so I could protest the ridiculous and unfairly applied late fee our company was being assessed. The hold time ended up being 45 minutes, so I could only imagine the phones on their end were 18A. On the other hand, I also had a conspiracy theory going through my head that they were just keeping me on hold, waiting for me to hang up. I've had a lot of conspiracy theories going through my head lately. Anyone with me?

Multi-DNF in the SE. No idea on the TIE fighter, just stupidly blank on the EL_K_RA record label, and since the _YZ affair was also a WOE, I couldn't think of TRIX to come and save the day. Ah well, these little things do not ANNOY me all that much. (Guessed ATOZ but have not heard that referred to as "Cover the waterfront", interesting metaphor.)

14D caused a pile up - first "Pringle", then "panCAKE" before HOTCAKE manifested itself.

Nice clues, interesting grid and theme, thanks JMK and JC.

And @Rex, thanks for providing sanity and consistency in this crazy world.

Whirred Whacks 1:28 PM  

I guess the film "Pretty Woman" was about a high-class J-er. Nice puzzle, Jeff Chen and Kaye!

I was at Stanford this morning, and was amused to learn they had designated "Bereavement Rooms" at various sites on campus. I guess that's better than destroying property to voice one's disapproval. Remember: resilience is a valuable trait no matter what part of the political spectrum you finding yourself occupying. As almost everyone on this blog can testify. life will always find ways to disappoint you.

Enjoy your day!

Ω 1:34 PM  

Regarding the "Cover the waterfront" clue: Click on the link in my 9:12 a.m. post and you will get a definition for the phrase. Once I saw it had to be A TO Z the phrase rang a soft bell in the deep recesses of my memory, but I can't recall ever hearing it so I'm guessing it has been decades. As to its sensicality, I'm reminded of being on a train to Madrid which happened to also have a HS class on a field trip. I thought their English was almost as good as mine until I mentioned that I was just going to "hang out" in Madrid. That got some puzzled stares and one guy asking "You mean?" while acting out hanging from a noose. Lots of idiomatic phrase's literal sense are only tenuously connected to their meaning. Ain't language wonderful?

@Evil Doug - Good reminder. My grandmother (the one who never learned English and was born in a foreign country) had a gold star in the front window. She was always a mystery to me (my mom didn't want me learning Spanish so I didn't), but one thing was clear, she lost her son protecting this country.

Crane Poole 1:48 PM  

Despite getting the thing-of-it ridiculously early, stumbled over some of the above and just spnxaqrked in the SE corner. Thanks to Rex for continuity over this difficult week. And to all of you.

Larry Gilstrap 1:58 PM  

Phone receivers used to hang on a HOOK, then they migrated to cradles, and now they are ubiquitous. Remember, having a tense telephonic argument punctuated by slamming down the receiver? What does a person do these days? "J's" multi-tasking as Hooks form some decent themers, all things in the language. Nice puzzle.

During the solve, I ended up around MN and WI and I was seeing a whiteout. Some French composer sitting atop some kind of LAB. Sorry Quantico, but Marines came to mind and not much else, Happy Veterans Day if the shoe fits. I ran possibles: chocolate, blonde, DNA, RNA (Is that a thing?), crime, chemistry, science or any kind of science, SKY---. etc. For some reason FBI didn't want to show up. Odd, seems like the Bureau was just making news.

kitshef 2:09 PM  

@pmdm - thanks for the explanations. I'll take the fall for not getting the Latin - basic verb conjugations are fair game - even the 'singular imperfect active indicative'.

RICO, somewhere in the middle. I don't feel too bad about not knowing a reference from the 20th-most popular film of 1931, measured by box office gross [side note, if you Google 'Little Caesar gross', you get something very different].'

Cover the waterfront I'm putting the blame solely on the constructor/editor. Google ngram shows that phrase is much less popular than, say 'skyey', a word which brought this board to such fury a few months back.

Singmaster 2:59 PM  

Thought it was TENDER HOOKS.
My 95 year old mom got SLOW LEAK while I was staring at it.
We finished it together.
Thought I'd be visiting my mother when the first woman USA president was elected. Got that one wrong.

Anoa Bob 3:01 PM  

Wasn't it Ed MEESE who exclaimed proudly at the end of his political tenure in the Reagan administration that "I remain unindicted"?

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

Anonymous @ 9:19 - if you type in the number 733 in a rinky dinky calculator, then turn it upside down, it looks like the word EEL. Or just write it as block numbers.

I got the "J" right off the bat. The Pachelbel Canon is, hands down, my favorite piece of classical music, and has been since the first time I played it in orchestra in 7th or 8th grade. I had finished enough downs to get most of RINGINGOFFTHEJ, and with the J in D-Major (I'm another who usually fills those in with _ M _ _ OR, but this one, I just knew), the theme was immediately apparent to me. Even TENTERJS didn't give me too much trouble.

FAURE and ARCARO were unknown to me, but fairly enough crossed that I was able to grok them.

Unfortunately, I DNFed in the SE. Had SINKER, and ELEKTRA. Immediately went with ERgo, but RACY made mincemeat of that. Moved to ERAT, but then fizzled out. The recesses of my memory where XYZ Affair might be found couldn't be dredged up, I've never heard the waterfront adage, and Little Caesar was a blank. Arguably, I should have got TRIX, but I just wasn't making the association with corn balls.

Wm. C. 3:19 PM  

@Old Timer --

Cogito ERGO Sum: I think, THEREFORE I am.

Teedmn 3:24 PM  

PS: I liked seeing a cozy place for all of those Jay's in their 67A NEST.

da kine 3:45 PM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. I caught the theme immediately so it made it a bit easy, but it was still enjoyable.

I did NOT like 57D about "part of the 'sum' conjugation", and not just because it dorked up my SE and added two minutes to my time for only 12 squares. One doesn't conjugate 'sum' as it is the first person singular indicative present, not the infinitive, 'esse'. We all know 'esse' from 700 or so NYT crosswords.

Also, and I'm just doing this on the back of an envelope, you have 6 conjugations of the verb in the present, future, perfect, and pluperfect, the subjunctive of all those, the vocative, and a few others I'm probably missing. What is that, forty or so conjugations of the verb 'to be'? Would 'erunt' (they were) be a valid answer? How about 'fuissemus' (we might eventually be)?

This grumples me almost as much as when the clue to X-across is "See Y-down" and Y-down is "See X-Across". Dang, that gets me every time.
Maybe I'm most grumpy because it could have been clued as "Quod ___ demonstrandum". I know Thursdays are supposed to be challenging, but that clue just rankled me.

Anyway, great puzzle besides that.

Ω 4:25 PM  

@kitshef - A link would have been nice.

@da kine - Not to wreck a good rant, but I think you're thinking about the clue the wrong. There is this verb "esse," the conjugation of which includes "sum." Ergo, "the sum conjugation" is the conjugation of which sum is a part.* I'm just glad the puzzle wasn't looking for the 3rd person plural present tense because I'm sure we didn't cover "sint" in my one year of Latin back in 1975.

*Yeah, I did it. I went all prescriptivist "of which" instead of the better descriptivist "part of."

Ω 4:29 PM  

Cover the waterfront v. skyey

OASAS 4:32 PM  

Same stumpers for me. Never heard of the XYZ affair. Never heard of "cover the waterfront" meaning A-to-Z.

Unknown 4:41 PM  

How come it's late afternoon and nobody's caught the blooper of the week at 48 down? SALVOs are fired together - salutes are NEVER fired together but must be one by one or the Chief Gunner is out of a job.

puzzle hoarder 5:21 PM  

Late to the party as I'm at the firehouse. Did anyone else think that the puzzle's grid looks like a Keith Haring painting? This was mostly a normal Thursday with the exception of that SE corner. My poor spelling prevented me from reading the TRIX clue correctly. As an adjective or a common term it's corn-ball. Without that dash the clue is simply referring to balls made from corn. The XYZ A fair and that idiom in the 68A clue were complete unknowns. I actually questioned ERAT and RICO before getting the clue for 61A. ATOZ is a very common entry so that's quite a debut clue! Personally I think when a constructor dredges up something that obscure they should have to cite an actual usage of it. My suspicion is they're just pulling it off a computer list.
It took me a little while to remember what Quantico was and I still had an CSI/FBI write over.
@Nancy OSHA is a government agency which requires employers to provide their employees with safety equipment such as gloves.
Somehow I spelled TENTER correctly. After finishing I had to look up exactly what a TENTERHOOK is.
I'm probably mistaken but wasn't there a Dr J in basketball who was known for a "sky hook" shot?

Nancy 5:43 PM  

@puzzlehoarder (5:21) -- There was a Dr. J in basketball, whose name was Julius Erving and I'm pretty sure he played for Philadelphia, though he may have gone to the Knicks or the Nets late in his career, I don't remember. But I don't think he had a "sky hook" or, if he did, he wasn't famous for it. The sky hook guy was a center, and I'm pretty sure it was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who made it famous. (Unless I'm wrong and it was Wilt Chamberlain.)

Chronic dnfer 6:54 PM  

Agree with chefbea. Dnf'd in the southeast. Didn't get beefalo either. Tough puz. Tough times.

Anonymous 7:08 PM  

Another late solver who liked the puzzle but found it challenging, esp. the lower areas, despite getting the theme early on. BTW, wasnt Pres.Obama and Hillary Clinton gracious and civil in the aftermath of the election?

KevinDenelsbeck 9:07 PM  

I thought it was a rebus puzzle so dutifully typed "HOOK" in the 4 magic squares on the online puzzle. It wouldn't give it to me as solved, and I had no idea why, even though I got the J-ness of the crossing down clues. My time was excellent except for this snafu, which eventually forced me to Check the puzzle since I couldn't find what the "error" was.

Pete 9:21 PM  

@Steve McIntyre - You've never seen a 21 gun salute?

Leapfinger 1:30 AM  

@Evil D, as you may know, SLOW_LEAK is one of those colourful phrases heard more often in Urology clinics. Prostrating myself to make this reminder, I am. Really

@GeoB, your 'Comey what may' was pretty sly. otoh, I didn't think the clue for OSHA was all that clever, as I'm more used to OSHA safety addressing people's not getting torn to bits than not getting infected. I've dealt with folks who'd had a run-in with a buzzsaw or a cornhopper or the power takeoff of a tractor, and believe me, gloves wouldn't have made a whit of difference.  The latter, in particular, will pull you in by the Yin-YANG, if you're wearing loose clothing. The gloves&mask business kicked up several notches when HIV made the scene, and at first I  felt pretty defensive about that when I went to the dentist. Came to change my mind when I realized the unexpected benefit of not having to spend the whole SESSion staring at someone's nose-hairs.

FBI had me thinking of Langley but their location site says 'the Laboratory Division, Operational Technology Division and FBI Academy are all located in Quantico, Virginia'. A-Ha! 

@AliasZ, it's all well and good to recognize that Anonymous Lives Matter, but remember that Pretentious Lives Matter also. Back to the recommendations, please!! I spose I could hunt down the Faure on my own, but my half-ACRE yard is in such a state that it's taking all my spare time to restore lawn order.

J&J playing hooky provided a lovely bandaid, and the commentariat wasn't too shabby either. Bless all y'all.

Joseph Michael 12:35 PM  

Better late than never to say excellent puzzle.

Carl Siechert 8:44 PM  

When I was first HOOKed (that is, when I figured out the first theme answer), I wrote the hook backwards, so that it wouldn't look like a J. I assumed that it would also be HOOK for the downs. Obviously, that didn't work I had to make an inky mess of all the hook/Js.

But ATOZ for "cover the waterfront" and XYZ affair?! To those, I can just say: WTF?

nina 8:42 AM

Burma Shave 11:51 AM  


that MAGNETO, the BINGE drinker,
that CAT’s FREON bail ‘til the next ABJECT comic book.


spacecraft 12:28 PM  

Strange how OFL suddenly becomes forgiving of what he calls "cheater squares." They never bothered me--but it bothers me that it DOESN'T bother HIM today. Jeff a buddy? Apparently. Of course, the black-square pattern is doubtless part of the theme, but still...

My first thought when I saw the grid was about Tetris. Got out of the NW ok but the north central was almost a total unknown. I had GR going across, waiting for -AB or -ID, and GAIN and RUNG. That was it. Skipped over to the NE, where I waited again for the correct RMK: _M__OR. RMKs always evoke a wince here. As I filled in the corner, I thought it must be MinOR, since nothing ends in THEJ. But I never heard of an OSHI. I know OSHA, but didn't get the glove reference so still wasn't sure.

Down to gimme AJAX (bum bum, the foaming cleanser, bum bum bumbabum bum bum, floats the dirt right down the drain! Bububububububum!)--where was I? Oh yeah. As soon as I read the clue for 29-across the fog lifted, a very nice aha! moment which solved the NE problem and jump-started a relatively easy solve.

I wish there wasn't so much alphabet soup (NBC NBA FBI TSK TSA XYZ in addition to the NE), but still enjoyed doing this. The theme is inventive and well executed, and the black shapes a remarkable bonus. Phylicia RASHAD does very nicely for DOD. On balance, it's a birdie.

P.S. To all those doomsday voices, I'll channel the Beach Boys:

Don't worry baby, everything will be all right.

rondo 12:52 PM  

Knew something was funny when the RK DMAJOR left 18a ending in J. Almost nothing ends in J unless we’re going on a hadj, and that wasn’t it. So I worked out that first one and filled in the others way before the fill got me there. Found the SE easy, unlike other posters, but made a mess over in the SW with nSA and started to write in voLleys before realizing it didn’t fit the SALVOS squares, which was an ANNOYing inkfest.

Early on in the puz and having MAGNETO in the grid, I immediately went to youtube to play “MAGNETO and Titanium Man” by McCartney and Wings. Their best song, IMHO, with a catchy J (hook). After twice through MAGNETO, the puz was done.

If you’re into traffic engineering, especially out East, you might be familiar with “jughandle” or J-HOOK ramps. They are used to prevent left turns from the left lanes of at-grade intrsections.

Anyone remember when Ahmad RASHAD (former MN Viking and former Bobby Moore) proposed to Phylicia on live TV? I do. During the height of Cosby Show fame. An easy call for yeah baby would be pop tart ARIANA Grande, but then there’s ELEKTRA as portrayed in the BAREST RACY red spandex by Jennifer Garner. A crimson dominaTRIX? Yeah baby. Did we notice that MAGNETO and ELEKTRA were symmetric? Maybe that was a start of another puz?

Better than the usual rebusiness. ELEKTRA might be a real Crimson Dynamo as I head back for another spin through MYMAN Titanium and pal MAGNETO.

Diana,LIW 1:39 PM  

Read Rex, then the beginning of LMS - thank goodness.

NOT EASY. Just not.

Looked up proper names after getting minor (not MAJOR) toehold.

Got the "hook" pretty quickly, then. So 90% me, 10% puzzle.

At least I have the love of a cat or two.

I've heard of the dog days of August - is there really a Nat. Dog Day? I'll BYTE.

And, darn it, Jay's place is a garage. A very large garage. Everyone knows that.

And put me in the panCAKE crowd if there is one - haven't read the comments yet. the comments.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords.

rain forest 2:39 PM  

Nice puzzle which appears to be a blessing to many of the real-timers 5 weeks ago. Also nice that @Chaos didn't show up. We've probably seen the last of him.

The toughest part for me was the SW, but managed to get out without a w/o. The SE was a laydown only because ATOZ made sense to me. Many excellent artists have recorded on ELEKTRA. '

Years ago I worked out the Pachelbel Canon on the guitar, and knew it had to be a major key (I played it in C), and since I had already written in RINGINGOFFTHE-, I saw the rebus.

I liked many of the clues, especially the one about Slim leaving town, which reminded me of something a friend once noted: "Interesting that slim chance and fat chance mean the same thing". I don't think anyone explained why "brah" means MY MAN, but I can live with it.

Phylicia RASHAD is OK as DOD or YB in my book.

Unknown 3:11 PM  

A grain assault made my day! Thanks for sharing!!

Diana,LIW 3:13 PM  

@Rainy - According to my sources, "brah" is another form of "bro." Yah! I was thinking "Erin go bragh!" Sp?


Anonymous 3:15 PM  

This was not an easy puzzle, but a challenging, fun experience to work through. A very good week for puzzles.

leftcoastTAM 5:48 PM  

The J hooks were fine but took too long to see,
so then I cheated a from A TO Z.

No excuses.

leftcoaster 6:22 PM  

Don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but the EEL not only has to be turned upside down vertically, but it also has to be flipped horizontally to reverse the order of its letters.

No excuses (if I've misinterpreted it).

leftcoastTAM 6:28 PM  

Never mind, I did misinterpret the clue. Is that an excuse?

Diana,LIW 7:20 PM  

'Sokay, @LeftyTom, we've all been there, done that

Lady Di

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