Why Japanese tipplers anticipate afterlife / THU 4-20-17 / Designation for UK vessels / 1952 Bernard Malamud novel / Organic jewelry material

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Constructor: Jeffrey Wechsler

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Eh? — familiar phrases are clued as if one of their silent Es were accented; enter wackiness.

Theme answers:
  • FOR HEAVEN'S SAKÉ (20A: Why Japanese tipplers anticipate the afterlife?) (I woulda said "look forward to" rather than the blander / less enthusiastic "anticipate"; they're tipplers, for pete's saké!)
  • WHACK-A-MOLÉ (31A: Pound on some Mexican food?)
  • LAMÉ EXCUSE (39A: "I didn't know you disliked shiny fabrics!," e.g.?)
  • RUN FOR THE ROSÉS (48A: Quick trip to pick up white zinfandel and blush?)
Word of the Day: TOPE (25D: Emulate a 2-Down (WINO)) —
verb: tope; 3rd person present: topes; past tense: toped; past participle: toped; gerund or present participle: toping
  1. drink alcohol to excess, especially on a regular basis. (google)
• • •

This mild-chuckle concept, like much recent NYT fare, feels dated, but honestly today it feels dated in a comfy sweater kind of way. It's a consistent, cute, well-made puzzle, with fill that skews old (i.e. familiar / slightly crosswordesey) but not painful. Solving this thing was a completely pleasant experience. Wait, there is one inconsistency, which is that the altered word is the last word in all the themers ... but one. That's a bit wonky. Not uncoincidentally, that is the one themer I had trouble with, the one that I flubbed at first. I had the last two letters (-SE) and once I dropped the "X" from LEX (33D: Law of ancient times), I took one look at 39A: "I didn't know you disliked shiny fabrics!," e.g.? and -----X--SE and (with the theme already known to me), confidently made that last word EXPOSÉ. I like the idea that some investigative reporter has figured out that you dislike shiny fabrics and is going to tell the world about it. Aha! Gotcha! EXPOSÉ would've made the theme execution thematically consistent. Coulda used OVEREXPOSE as the base answer and clued OVER EXPOSÉ ... some type of way, I don't know. [Having moved on from embarrassing press coverage?]. Something like that. But instead it's LAMÉ in the *first*-word position. Shrug. OK. Not a big deal.

Here are a few assorted thoughts I had while taking my leisurely springtime stroll through this grid:

Assorted thoughts:
  • 7D: Certain trank (LUDE) — this took me multiple passes, mostly because I just kept wondering what kind of word "trank" was. Sincerely thought it was a clothing portmanteau (trousers + tanktop?)
  • 1A: Departed (AWAY) — LEFT. Later, DEAD.
  • 11D: Went to night school (TOOK A CLASS) — This is green paint. This is "EAT A SANDWICH." This isn't great.
  • 42D: Reach by air (LAND AT) — needed every cross. Just didn't compute.
  • 60A: Antihero of "A Clockwork Orange" (ALEX) — because it's a crossword, I flubbed the spelling (ALEC).  
  • 61A: Influence for Enya, historically (CELT) — wait, so there's just this one CELT who influenced her? Like, just this one guy named Angus who's like "You should really make some ethereal New Age music, lass"?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:48 AM  

Fun theme -- ole!

Toughest part for me was the middle. My grid was looking something like a donut. Like @rex, I was thinking that the trick word in all the theme answers was going to be the last, so LAME fooled me. This was a good thing, as one of solving's great highs, IMO, is successfully wrestling though a tough section.

Great clues for SIZE and SEXT, and lovely not-often-seen answers ABRADE (twice in the past ten years) and INVECTIVE (this was the first time in the Shortz era).

FATAL tripped my brain off to thinking about Fat Albert -- remember those innocent times???

Glimmerglass 6:58 AM  

Yes, it was sorta easy for a mid-week, but the puns amsed me, and there were some harder clues. I liked it fine.

John Child 7:10 AM  

To TOPE is a new word and one I will remember. If topeing is drinking too much, what is TOK(E)ing too much?

No Trick Thursday alas, but a nice puzzle. I've been doing puzzles from the early 2000's as I work backward though the archives. This is familiar like a favorite pair of undies in that way. And no surprise - Mr. Wechsler's first published NYT puzzle was in 1969. Old school, in a way I enjoyed.

I would have had Liz Phair as the musical feature: My Favorite Underwear.

Sheiladeedee 7:17 AM  


kitshef 7:32 AM  

See, @Rex can be interesting and amusing when he's not busy eviscerating a puzzle.

LAND AT is way more green paintish than TAKE A CLASS.

Got the themers from bottom to top, so never had the expectation that it would always be the final word.

Looking back now, is WHITE RICE a flaw? A long answer following the pattern of the theme but not a themer.

TOPE and TOKE -- my kind of morning. I will the LUDEs, however.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

Didn't do the puzzle yet, but I did notice more suppression of free speech at UC Berkeley by the alt-left aka liberal fascists. This will not end well.

Aketi 7:37 AM  
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Jan B. 7:39 AM  

I take issue with NOFAT - had it as LOFAT before I checked the cross, because while skim milk is very low in fat, it does have some. Nitpicky, I know, but IMO it is inaccurate.

Aketi 7:40 AM  

While some of us SPARred over the meaning and use of INVECTIVES in yesterday's blog, I really loved @Nancy's tribute to those who RaN FOR THE high or WHACKed A tennis ball. Her anecdote sums up what is LOST perfectly. Though surgery has made it likely that I can return to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with another 4-7 months of diligent physical therapy, it certainly has made me more empathetic. @GILL I, your comment about age was so true.

Heading back through Rex territory to Cornell as a parent chaperone for the Bronx Science Model UN team. The vicarious pleasure of hanging around enthusiastic articulte college bound kids is a good anecdote to worrying about the inevitable decline we all must face.

Irene 7:42 AM  

Skewed old, with toke, sext and lude?
And I still don't know what trank is.

Conrad 7:44 AM  

My choice for the musical feature would have been Flanders & Swann's "Madiera M'Dear":
Unaware of the wiles of the snake-in-the-grass
And the fate of the maiden who TOPEs
She lowered her standards by raising her glass,
Her courage, her eyes and his hopes.

Conrad 7:46 AM  

Sorry; should have included the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW_zi8n4HDQ

Lewis 7:48 AM  

Nice cross of PLUME and SPRAY.

zevonfan 7:49 AM  

Nice inclusion of TOKE as a nod to those who celebrate 4/20.

Seth 7:50 AM  

Interestingly, this set of themers is a perfect "Which one is NOT the odd one out?" puzzle:

FOR HEAVEN'S SAKÉ is odd because the É is not pronounced like a long A.

LAMÉ EXCUSE is odd because the first word changes.

RUN FOR THE ROSÉS is odd because it's plural.

WHACK-A-MOLÉ is the only one that's not odd!

runtomrun 7:54 AM  

Thought trank was a variant of "tranche", a financial term, but LUDE??? LOL when I saw the definitions of both at urban dictionary! New words for the day.

Passing Shot 8:06 AM  

WHACAMOLE seems like a glaring inconsistency, unless this is an accepted alternate spelling of the avocado-based dip. Also have no idea what trank or LUDE means. Like others, the middle section killed me, but I enjoyed the tussle overall.

Forsythia 8:10 AM  

@Irene - trank is tranquilizer.

I very confidently put in NANA instead of WINO for over-indulger!
Puzzle was much harder for me than others because I mis-read UK designation for UK destination! And had FORHEAVENSAKES which made that NE much harder!

Forsythia 8:13 AM  

@Passing shot- MOLE is a chocolate based sauce on Mexican food, often on chicken, not a favorite of mine! WhackaMole is a game at places like ChuckeeCheese.
LUDE is for qualudes which is a tranquilizer, not sure I spelled qualudes correctly.

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

Was going medium well but got bogged down when my first theme answer ended up as "whack attack" / "WHACKATACO" (thought is was about dropping the last vowel syllable sound to make a familiar sounding phrase). Slowed me down on the other theme answers until they finally resolved and replace TACO with MOLE. Briefly had me swearing at the WTF kind of courtly address is a SIRO?!

Johnny 8:18 AM  


I'm sensing a theme here. There's even GNC for roid-heads.

Plus, has anyone even seen a LUDE since 1978? They sorta came and went, along with Pet Rocks and Mood Rings.

evil doug 8:20 AM  

My dislike of this puzzle is like whites on Susan Rice.

chefbea 8:22 AM  

Too tough for me. Didn't realize that theses E's had an accent mark on them

Ted 8:26 AM  

Fun theme, challenging fill.

Right AWAY you're looking at several options for 1A. Same for, well, most of the corners. Too many options, too vague a hint, too few crosses to get a grip. I took Saturday time to finish this.

Words That Are Not Words I Know:

TOPE, RECTO (crossed!), TVA, ROUES, LEX. These few things just made it harder to get any traction in the center and west, which translated to trouble all around.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

@Seth - looks like sah-kay is a perfectly acceptable pronunciation of SAKÉ. What's more, final "s" of ROSÉS wouldn't be pronounced in French, non?

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

antidote ?

Z 9:03 AM  

RECTO - A word I know only from crosswords.

What's with the pie charts parts? There's a trope (not a meme) on Twitter of abusive misuse of pie charts. I laugh every time.

Regarding yesterday's use of INVECTIVE, it was an edited and intentional use of idiom.

Hartley70 9:09 AM  

TOPE is a word I've managed to miss until today. Is one a toper or does one go toping? I'm looking forward to this research. I had to run the alphabet for the O, although RECTO should have given me the vowel.

This was mildly amusing, but there is no question in my mind that yesterday's puzzle deserved this Thursday slot. Unless I'm missing something, I can't find a gimmick here except two different meanings and pronounciations due to an accent for the same word. It's a pleasant theme, but not our usual Thursday brain teaser.

CFXK 9:15 AM  

Calling an ATOLL a "sight in Micronesia" is like calling a CONTINENT a "sight in the Western Hemisphere."

GILL I. 9:24 AM  

I think KIA was my first entry followed by AMBER. Did a little staring and thought this has to be WHACKAMOLE. It made me laugh. If you have ever made MOLE by scratch you DO end up whacking a ton of spices. Buy it already made, folks - unless you're in Oaxaca. Anyway, after that entry I just knew I would love this puzzle, and I did!
Went back up to visit the Japanese tipplers and thought hmmmmm, there has to be a SAKE somewhere. Hah...in HEAVEN!
Has trouble with LAME EXCUSE so I skipped on down to see what the zins and blushes were up to....ROSES, of course. I never liked either one of those pink blushes until I tried a very cold Cotes De Provence. The French still make the best ROSES.
So, I got all the themes and went about my business of filling in the rest. Shouldn't 7D be certain tranq? I got LUDE then looked up its meaning. Ah, the old Quaalude trick. I tried the little green ones but they didn't work.
Sorry, @Rex. I like Jeffrey's clue for LAMEEXCUSE better than yours. No EXPOSE need apply.

webwinger 9:27 AM  

I also found this quite challenging for a Thursday. DNF because I was sure PAR was the answer for "Scratch", as in scratch golfer, SANS for "except".

Blue Stater 9:35 AM  

Slightly OT. Why is TOOKACLASS "green paint"? I've seen "green paint" elsewhere in a similar context and can't quite tease out what it's supposed to mean. TIA for all aid.

QuasiMojo 9:37 AM  

Perhaps it's just my mood today, but I first had "dead" for "departed."

I only know the word as "tranq" from Scrabble, slang for "tranquilizer" (Remember when Scrabble didn't allow slang? That changed forever when they started allowing "za" for "pizza." Ruined the game.)

"Belle" means "Beauty" so that clue was a bit redundant to me, as written.

Never heard of "whackamole" -- is that some sort of animal cruelty?

Having once been a book collector, I knew "recto" right off the bat. So many evocative words in the bibliophile world: octavo, deckle edges, colophon, mottled calf, foxing, verso, etc.

I'm not a wine drinker so I never heard of White Zinfandel. I was looking for "Run for the Golds" but that's because I hadn't figured out the theme until I came here. Thanks, Rex!

pmdm 9:52 AM  

QuasiMojo: Wack-a-Mole is an arcade game in which things resembling moles pops up at random locations with your task to hit them with a hammer and send them back down into their hole. The number of moles you successively whack before the end of the time limit determines your score, and in some arcades your score determines the number of point you earn toward a prize.

I don't remember seeing it in any NYC area urban arcades but I do remember seeing it in the Rye Amusement Park close to the city. So I would guess it is hardly ubiquitous in arcades. Frankly, it's a boring game in my opinion.

Nancy 9:59 AM  

I'll overlook the fact that it's not a rebus because I had fun with it and it made me work. There was a chance for a big mistake at 1A/1D -- LEFT to LEAD -- which I avoided, because I didn't like the way the other stuff looked. But the entire NW sat unfilled, until I got TOPE at 25D, which gave me WINO at 2D (I already had the N from ONUS.) I had no idea who or what inspired Enya. I don't even know who Enya is. WHITE RICE (31D) was genius cluing; I stared and stared and stared at my collection of letters and couldn't think of anything for the longest time. Oh, and I never, ever know my OLAVs from my OLAfs; it took getting FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE to enable me to correct. I also have no bleeping idea what a "trank" is, much less a LUDE. I thought the theme was cute and found the solving process enjoyable.

Carola 9:59 AM  
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ArtO 9:59 AM  

Got a kick out of the theme. Trank might have been WOD for me. Not that I'm completely unaware of quaaludes but Trank just didn't compute with LUDE as the answer.

Carola 10:11 AM  

I learned TOPE way back when in Art History 101 from Frans Hals' The Jolly Toper. Looking directly at the viewer, he's saying (supposedly), "I'm not drunk - just watch how I can toss this full wine glass into my other hand without losing a drop."

Sir Hillary 10:11 AM  

I didn't like this one ATOLL.

Can't point to any horrible fill, but the whole thing is WHITERICE bland.

Didn't we just have an accent-themed NYT puzzle? Or did I see it in another forum?

RECTO/TOPE crossing...wow.

Who thinks of consonants as "a group of 18"? Certainly not me.

Best part of today's puzzle experience was seeing @Rex imagine a conversation as if Enya were Scottish.

gzodik 10:11 AM  

Ever notice how the word ONUS defines itself? "The burden is ONUS".

Fountains of Golden Fluids 10:11 AM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

Charles Flaster 10:16 AM  

First agreement with Rex in a long while. Themers took at least 75% of my time but rest of puzzle super straightforward.
Only writeover was WINO for lush.
CROSSWORDease--TOPE( have seen it in a few puzzles), RECTO (can "verso" be far behind?), and ROUES.
THE NATURAL is a marvelous read and the RUN FOR THE ROSES is looming.

@jae--enjoyed your recommendation of the 6/29/1996 NYT puzzle--played a bit difficult!
Thanks JW

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

@Blue Stater - here's my amateur take on "green paint." Why not red? Why not orange? Why not etc., etc.? Paint, of course, can be green, it's not a nonsense phrase. But there's nothing that's inherently coherent about it. This in contrast to, say, "wet paint." Similarly "eat a sandwich." Could be eat a donut, eat a breakfast item, etc., etc. OTOH, with due respect to OFL, I don't think TAKE A CLASS is a pure example of the form (his form, mind you) because a particular idiomatic use of the verb TAKE is involved.

Hartley70 10:28 AM  

@Sir Hillary, it works as 18 holes of golf, each with a TEE.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

yyyyyyyyeahhhh... "Lude"? "Land at"?
Overall, meh

QuasiMojo 10:29 AM  

@pmdm, thanks for the memories! I used to go to Playland with my family and friends way back when. So much fun.

Sir Hillary 10:32 AM  

@Hartley70 - Thank you! I seem to have invented an explanation that felt technically correct but was contextually incorrect. Kinda like SHIA LaBeouf yesterday...I'm on a roll.

Nancy 10:43 AM  

@Sir Hillary (10:11) -- Think golf. There are 18 TEES on a golf course.

@Aketi (7:40) -- Thanks!

@GILL (9:24) -- French roses (can't create the accent on this computer) are the best. Especially, as you say, Cotes de Provence. I was 18 and in Cannes when I discovered them. We were staying at the absolutely lovely Hostellerie le Fouquet, a block and a half behind the famed Carlton Hotel (where "To Catch a Thief" was filmed) for $11 each per day, including breakfast and dinner!!!! We would have lunch near the beach. My high school friend Betty would order a coke -- the equivalent of 20 cents for a bottle. I would order a half-carafe of Cotes de Provence rose, the local wine -- the equivalent of 15 cents. I feel so sorry for young people now who will never have that kind of experience for those bargain prices.

Mohair Sam 10:57 AM  

This puzzle wasn't tough enough without confidently throwing "pearl" in at 28 down and pulling a long term casco on that baby. Gimmes KIA and THENATURAL eventually encouraged turning friedRICE to WHITE, you can't whack an eole - so things got corrected and then filled quickly.

Recently read a history of the Comanche tribe and can tell you that 62A "Function for a buffalo hide" could have been anything and everything. ABRADE as tough a word for me as TOPE was for many of you. I'm with @Rex on 61A - which CELT?

Our AAA baseball team (Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs) periodically features a between innings diversion called WHACK-An-Intern. The club's interns pop up wearing batting helmets from a large whack-a-mole stage set near the infield and little kids try to beat them over the head with plastic baseball bats. The kid who whacks the most interns gets a free hot dog. The interns get minimum wage. Welcome to the minors.

Tom4 10:57 AM  

Green Paint is crosswordese for pairing a boring adjective with a boring noun, where the result is not engaging - ie there's no real good reason for them to appear together as a compound crossword answer.

WHACKAMOLE is a common enough arcade game - however, it's used more as an expression nowadays. It describes a situation in which one cannot coherently/systematically deal with various problems that are arising in chaotic fashion, so that to try to address them would be like trying to play whacamole.

Pretty easy today but I kept thinking WHITE RICE was a themer that I must have wrong!

Warren Howie Hughes 11:12 AM  

And How ARS things in WHACKAMOLE? In my ONUS opinion this SOLO Thursday offering, courtesy of Jeffrey Wechsler,was "ATALE told by an idiot, FOSAF, signifying nothing" But, here's the real TOPE, I didn't really mind it ATOLL! In the end when you LANDAT GIRD, it's invariably a loining process!

Wm. C. 11:23 AM  

@Mohair --

AAA baseball Lehigh Valley "Iron Pigs?" Pretty creative name. Kinda like the AA "Rumble Ponies" up in @Rexy's neighborhood.

Happy Pencil 11:29 AM  

I went wrong right out of the gate because I thought we were looking at a LAME LAMENT. I still kinda think my puzzle would have been more fun ...

Joe Bleaux 11:30 AM  

Thanks for the memory! "It's ever so much nicer than beer. Now, if it were wine ... " Hu hu!

Joe Bleaux 11:43 AM  

The big blue ones did. Or the only one I tried, anyway, in Nashville back in '78 (hey, Johnny). It got me escorted -- OK, carried -- out of a bar, and on my way home, I fell UP a short flight of stairs. All in all, a great recreational drug for those who want to combine partying and prepping for minor surgery.

GILL I. 11:43 AM  

@Nancy....Your vin story brought a huge smile to this face.
My closest friend Shelly came to visit me in Madrid from NYC one year. She loved it so much, she just stayed. In those days it was easy to do. You just get a student visa and...voila. Anyway, we were poor as dirt. I was till at University and doing some odd jobs translating whenever I could. She was a registered nurse trying to find anything at American companies because she wasn't fluent in Spanish. I was the major provided but didn't care a bit because she was the funniest, kindest, smartest person I knew. Anyway, In Spain you can't breath - you die, you shrivel up, unless you have a bottle of red wine within arms reach. A litre of Rioja, in those days cost 7 pesetas - one US dollar....We would take our empty litre bottle down to the corner wine guy and he would fill it up. Then we'd stop by the panaderia for our baquette. We'd drool at the cheese shop but Manchego was pretty cheap then as well. Last, we'd splurge on some thin slices of chorizo, take our goodies home and feast on a meal for less than $3.00 for two.
A bottle of Cotes de Provence ROSE - always a good thing to have in your fridge.....

mathgent 12:00 PM  

I was in a wonderful mood last night. We're on vacation in Maui, there was a brilliant sunset, the Warriors stifled the Trailblazers. I printed up the puzzle on our way back to the room. And then ... nothing. One if the most joyless Thursdays I've ever done.

There were only five red plusses in the margins, what I expect for a Monday or Tuesday (I.e. a boring puzzle).

It seems that we are all trying to say something nice about today's puzzle. @evil doug and I, strange bedfellows?

Bravo, Rex. Great comment on CELT.

Wileyfex 12:01 PM  


old timer 12:03 PM  

Love your story @GILL I.

This was one of those "slow but steady wins the race" solves. In the long run, easier than yesterday's, but most of the clues were not obvious. Fortunately, I knew RECTO and OLAV right away and sort of remembered that the Beauty in the story was named BELLE.

Writeovers; "sail" before SPAR and "roam" before ROVE.

Shakespeare 12:11 PM  

@Conrad: Or, put another way,

I Wish I Could Drink Like A Lady,
Two, Or Three At The Most.
But At Two I Am Under The Table,
And By Three I Am Under The Host!

oldactor 12:34 PM  

@Nancy & @Gill ponder this....In the late 50s I moved to NYC to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre to study under Sanford Meisner and Martha Graham. I shared an apt. on East 49th street between 1st and 2nd Ave which cost $26 per month. My share was $13. Later I got my own place on East 54th and 1st Ave. for $38 per month two doors from the school. Fifteen years later my rent had risen to $88 per month.

I wonder how young poor actors survive in NYC today.

oldactor 12:37 PM  

@Shakespeare.....Wasn't that Dorothy Parker?

Masked and Anonymous 12:40 PM  

French twist themers. Took the highbrow road, for this ThursPuz. French stuff is always hard for the M&A to swallow -- Messes with his pate.

Hey, tho -- Now some enterprisin grideratti dude/darlin could do a reverse-flip-sequel puz, with themer stuff like:
{Pitching camp in Brooklyn??} = BUILDING DE TENTE. (15 long!; no thanx necessary, constructioneers.)

Speakin of themer lengths, check out how the grid layout goes plumb [Fr:plume] loco, when U start introducin 14-letter themers into 15x15 grids, like in today's puz. The jaws of cheater squares, decoratin the NW and SE. Symmetric HarNotes (™) in the NE and SW. Etc. Excellent.

Fairly mostly sorta straightforward solvequest at our house. Only thing, like many other Comment Gallery folks, we were nearly toast, as the LAMEEXCUSE themer really messed with our pate. Had no beef at all with TOOKACLASS. Did give MIDACT a momentary stinkeye in passin, tho.

Desperate bookends award: symmetric RECTO & ATALE.
staff weeject pick: TEE [Better clue, in the current theme context: {French NFL lineman that's also an eligible receiver??}.]

Well, lil pardners, it's time to BELLE up to the bar with some mighty fine vodka and cinnamone rolls. [The PuzEatinSpouse just recently made a primo homemade batch!]

Thanx, Mr. Wechsler, for a feisty fun Thursde. French fried my pate.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

(biter. real sorry):

MetroGnome 12:51 PM  

Honest question: Have I been spelling "TEEPEE" wrong for my entire life? That's certainly the way it's pronounced, but I've never seen a crossword puzzle spell it that way.

Overall, this puzzle reminds me of a satirical advertisement I once saw: "Elvis Drugs -- All Shook Uppers! Peace in the Valiums! Love Me Tenderizers! Blue Suede Ludes!"

Ah, well . . . Tranks for the memories.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

The correct spelling is quaalude (generic is methaqualone). It was never classified as a tranquilizer, by the way. It was a "hypnotic," and prescribed as a muscle relaxer.

RooMonster 12:58 PM  

Hey All !
Kind(e) an odd puz today. Agree with @Z, should've swapped this one with yesterpuz. Agree with Rex on the one LAME themer with the accented word not last, 'specially with an E on that last word. Umfair.

Center section killed me. IMBUE would not Suffuse to the ole brain, plus crossing ROUES, LEX, and the oddly clued MAMMA. Oh, and ARS Latin-phrased. Had to Goog Suffuse. ARghS.

Writeovers, left-went-AWAY, acttwo-MIDACT-MIDArc, ROam-ROVE. So as yous can see, DNF with MIDArc, and a C for the X in ALEX.

SPAR clue a WTF. Also clue on SAVE.
Just a WHACKy puz.


Masked and Anonymous 1:02 PM  

@MetroGnome: TEPEE might be the French equivalent. Or then again, maybe the French var. spellin of toupee (note the buffalo pate -oriented clue).

M&A Alternative French Facts Help Desk

Leapfinger 1:03 PM  

Bless @Dorothy Parker, and her canary Onan, too.

Nice that yesterday we had the V.O. UVRAY, today the ROSE. You know IM_IN it for the WINO, whatever pairs well with the gWHACKAMOLE.

Anyone catch the SEa of Tranquility lately? The OLD GREY MARE ain't what she used to be.

Which reminds me, @Pastor Munster, give@LibraRose a big hug for me.


Leapfinger 1:14 PM  

@Gillyfleur, sometime, try a Lillet Rosé, if'n you have a chance. You might like.

@Z, your use of a scalpel is so much more cleaver.

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

I don't seem to have a Thursday average, but this was fairly easy with its straightforward (not strait-) theme. I created my upper logjam with OLAf. FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, why can't I get the V and F straight?

And "trank" also held me up - when I saw that, I was picturing men in pith helmets holding elephant guns (just for research's saké - no elephants were harmed in this daymare) so quaaLUDE wasn't happening until all the crosses went in.

I had to recall REcAll for RETAIN and like @Rex, my SEcTs were momentarily blue, but none of this caused any INVECTIVE to flow.

Thanks, JW, in no way was this a lamé excuse for a puzzle.

Hartley70 1:22 PM  

@old actor, it sounds like we may have lived in the same building, but by the mid-seventies the rent had risen to $550. In those days Billy's was my neighborhood haunt. Now the rent and restaurant are distant memories. I was always looking for a star to come out the door of The Neighborhood Playhouse.

Masked and Anonymous 1:41 PM  

yo, @MetroGnome: Further semi-lengthy research revealt the followin info:

"A tipi[1] (also tepee[2] or teepee[3][4]) is a cone-shaped tent, traditionally made of animal skins upon wooden poles. A tipi is distinguished from other conical tents by the smoke flaps at the top of the structure.[5][6][7] Historically, the tipi was used by Indigenous people of the Plains in the Great Plains and Canadian Prairies of North America, as well as by indigenous peoples of northern Europe and Asia under other names.[8][9][10] Tipi lodges are still in use by these peoples, though now primarily for ceremonial purposes."


Surprised the M&A. Woulda thunk "tipi" to be a tepee typo. Learned stuff. Thanx.

M&A Help Desk

Mohair Sam 2:00 PM  

@Wm C - Yeah, "Iron Pigs" is of course a tip of the franchise's cap to the pig iron of the old Bethlehem Steel days. The team mascots are two steel colored humanoid pigs named Ferrous and FeFe. You cannot make these things up.

Lady M and I have a partial season ticket plan to the Pigs' games. In my always humble opinion there is no experience quite as uniquely American as an afternoon spent at a minor league baseball game.

Warren Howie Hughes 2:00 PM  

@Leapfinger,My BELLE, I gave LibraRose, a huge Hug 4U,and just like Dorothy Parker, you're OLAV a minute! Hee Hee Hee

Larry Gilstrap 2:12 PM  

A bit surprised at the warm reception for this Thursday effort, after recent write-ups. To each his own. I thought the issue might be with the lack of consistency with the themers, especially LAME EXCUSE, plus that troubling adjective. I, for some reason, was thinking avocado based dip for WHACK A MOLE and felt uncertain, but then I remembered the chocolate based savory sauce and all is well.

TOPE has been fill for ages, TOKE is fairly recent, and SEXT is titillating, but I guess much depends on who is the SEXTer. Yikes! Wrong number. And what is it I am looking at here? But, I guess many of us purchase items on line, so when we hook-up it's best not to be stuck with a pig in a poke, speaking figuratively.

As per Mark Twain, obviously it wouldn't hurt for some folks to do some traveling.

Shakespeare 2:39 PM  

@ oldactor :

Coulda been Dorothy. Just something I pulled out from the depths of my hippocampus. If it was Dorothy Parker, kudos to her. I'm sure Dorothy would never have blamed her third cocktail for "date rape." Women of that era didn't play that game.

Dick Swart 3:15 PM  

Nice Canadian puzzle, eh?

Foamfollower 3:38 PM  

Ludes are not tranks, I assure you.

Bill Feeney 3:52 PM  

Many nouns today, many which I could not define: WAY TIT TALE RS TOLL LEX SOF ZUR BRADE MBER

wgh 4:04 PM  

Liked the theme but the fill kicked my ass. Lots of words I've never heard of crossing other things I've never heard of. An I am purdy smart

Anoa Bob 4:23 PM  

No need for an accent mark over the E in SAKE. It's pronounced with equal stress on each syllable, sah kay. That's one of the reasons I never developed a good ear for Nihongo in my time in Japan. It sounded like a torrent of non-stop, same-stress, two-letter syllables that all blended together into an incomprehensible rapid-fire chatter. One of the other reasons is that I'm lousy with foreign languages.

The other themers make a kind of goofy sense in their wackified two-syllable version except WHACKAMOLE. That's completely nonsensical to me. Since MOLE (no accent here either) is sauce in Spanish, the wackified version asks us to believe that we could WHACK A sauce? Looking forward to SAKE in HEAVEN, making an EXCUSE for not liking LAMÉ, and making a RUN for some ROSÉS, I can buy, but WHACKing A MOLE, no.

Is SUM TOTAL from the Department of Redundancy Department?

BarbieBarbie 4:43 PM  

Loved it. We (my non-puzzler spouse) are visiting non-puzzler friends and so I was trying to solve discreetly while still participating in the conversation-- a cover completely blown every time I groaned at yet another themer or asked a question like " would the Times really put TOKE in a puzzle." Forgot it was 4/20, which clarifies matters. Good entertaining puzzle, must have been easy or I wouldn't have finished. Thursdays are always so great.

jae 5:16 PM  

Medium for me. Had SOLe before SOLO which made the SE a tad more difficult.

Also aVe before IVY.

Amusing, liked it.

For anyone interested in minor league baseball (hi @Mohair) I highly recommend the new series Brockmire with Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet on IFC. One of the funniest shows I've seen in quite a while.

Rob 5:53 PM  

This was pretty boring. TOPE doesn't seem to be part of modern usage, but LUDE is my least favorite thing here -- I don't mind LUDE for quaalude, since at least that was the right slang, but "trank" is a horrible clue because that is Not A Word. If you're going to abbreviate "tranquilizer," at least use "tranq" so people can figure out what you're looking for.

OISK 6:59 PM  

Aside from having had no idea what a trank was, and now seeing that it is some strange term for tranquilizer -ludes???? Aside from that allusion, I liked the puzzle. I love puns. I have no idea who Enya is, but apparently she is female - just found that out today. You want "Celt," listen to The Corries....

Leapfinger 7:06 PM  

@Anoa Robert, I got a laugh from your Department of Redundancy Department, but I spose, if a body wanted to be punctiliously pusillanimous, it could be pointed out that some TOTALs can be arrived at with an element of subtraction, multiplication and/or division.

Still a fun interLUDE...

Blue Stater 8:50 PM  

@Tom4 - Many thanks. I guess the reason I was having so much trouble figuring out "green paint" was that the phrase is, well, green paint.



Unknown 3:01 PM  

Pretty frustrating puzzle with needlessly difficult fill and a pretty lame theme. Very disappointed that the author thinks white Zin and blush wines are rosés when they are not. Even more disappointed the editors didn't catch that.

Burma Shave 10:15 AM  


for THENATURAL way CHER poses,
SHE’S using flowers, and her SEXT IMBUEs


BS2 10:39 AM  

Must take time to edit . . .


for THENATURAL, LUDE way CHER poses,
SHE’S clad in flowers, and her SEXT IMBUEs
you’ll have ATIT if you RUNFORTHEROSES.


spacecraft 11:00 AM  

Pretty tough for me, until I got to about MIDACT. Started with ATALE and GNC in the SW; what could influence ENYA? CHER? Almost wrote our DOD in right there--in the wrong spot. The eventual answer CELT made absolutely no sense to me, but then I've never seen Enya. Except in grids; there she's a repeat performer.

That Mexican dish is another WOE for me, not that I'm anything near well-versed on such. Most of that stuff is way too heartburn-y for me. I do like me a nice mild chili--the kind with beans (don't hit me, purists!).

An extra tilde creeps into the 39-across themer at ROUES. Sorry, my character set does not include diacritical marks. Once I did get the theme, things went better, but tough cluing throughout puts this at medium-challenging for me. I enjoyed it--but did we HAVE to get yet another EKES? EEK! I'd rather see another V in there. EVES/TOVE. What, you can't clue TOVE? How about "Slithy one?"? ANYTHING to avoid another EKE! Still, not FATAL enough to preclude birdie.

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Pisser infested puzzle. Not the slightest shred of fun. Rejected.

rondo 2:29 PM  

Did not get a good hold in the NW because for too long I was studying my Talmud in the arcHIVeS before the YESHIVAS, further south I tried to REtAin my RECALL and in the north my DEISM was held up by the DEIty. So, spilled ink all over. The very middle was also slow until I came up with a LAMEEXCUSE.

TOOKACLASS doesn’t seem to fit the usual adjective/noun structure of green paint, but WHITERICE does. Yeah, I know the other Chinese side is fried RICE.

From the land of the one-named people, perpetual yeah baby CHER makes an appearance.

Decent Thurs-puz, none of the inkfest areas proved FATAL.

leftcoastTAM 3:52 PM  

Took a while to get a foothold, then to get theme, and then to distinguish the question-marked themers from the question-marked non-themers. The latter were temporary head-scratchers.

A themer that remains itchy, is WHACKAMOLE. Is that some version of guacamole?

LUDE was elusive. Liked the TOPE and TOKE pair.

Would have to put this one on the challenging side of medium.

leftcoastTAM 4:05 PM  

Okay, I think I get it. A MOLE is a generic for different kinds of Mexican sauces. New to me.

rondo 4:37 PM  

I made a MOLE sauce once, combo of chocolate and chiles. YUm.
WHACK-A_MOLE is a common arcade game.

Diana,LIW 5:20 PM  

My mind was elsewhere, and I just couldn't pull enough WOES out of its depths today.

Loved the whacky themers, esp. WHACKAMOLE. The Chinese side was a great misdirect.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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