Game animals to some / THU 7-27-17 / Out of place obstetric / Nabisco brand since 1912 / Genre for Philip K. Dick / Singer DiFranco / Cleopatra's Mines / Right-hand page / Sunshine Skyway Bridge / "Wind in the Willows" creature / "Playboy of the Western World" playwright

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Constructor: Jeffrey Wechsler

Relative difficulty: Medium (10:00 exactly)

THEME: HOLD DOWN THE FORT -- three across entries "hold down" the word FORT into corresponding down entries in the grid.
  • 16A: Enjoying first-class amenities, say (TRAVELING IN COMF[ORT])
  • 33A: Wind speed metric (BEAUF[ORT] SCALE)
  • 40A: One looking to become rich (F[ORT]UNE HUNTER)
  • 59A: Have charge temporarily ... or a hint to answering this puzzle's three starred clues (HOLD DOWN THE FORT)
Word of the Day: ORESTES (66A: Euripides tragedy) —
[SPOILERS] In accordance with the advice of the god Apollo, Orestes has killed his mother Clytemnestra to avenge the death of his father Agamemnon at her hands. Despite Apollo’s earlier prophecy, Orestes finds himself tormented by Erinyes or Furies to the blood guilt stemming from his matricide. The only person capable of calming Orestes down from his madness is his sister Electra. To complicate matters further, a leading political faction of Argos wants to put Orestes to death for the murder. Orestes’ only hope to save his life lies in his uncle Menelaus, who has returned with Helen after spending ten years in Troy and several more years amassing wealth in Egypt. (Wikipedia)
• • •
As the constructor put 25D: Expenditures of time and energy (EFFORTS) into this puzzle, I was determined to 40D: Sally ___ FORTH into solving it, which was only moderately challenging, given that I have found Thursdays to be my 18D: Strong point (FORTE) -- or at least, my favorite puzzles of the week. There always a moment in these "spillover" (my term) themes when you're all, I know the answer and it won't fit into that space in the grid, and for me that moment was when I thought, I know what the wind speed scale is called, and BEAUFORT isn't fitting there. But will it be a rebus or something else? I liked the way the FORTs were at different positions in each themer: end, middle, beginning.
The NW was last and toughest quadrant for me -- didn't feel like STAVE (3D: Fend (off)) and COVE (4D: Small bay) should be next to each other. RECTO (38A: Right-hand page) in the middle of the grid is a handy (ha!) word from descriptive bibliography. (The left-hand page is the VERSO because it's on the back of the RECTO.) LAND SALES (32D: Some real estate business) -- is that a thing that people say? Or sell? Not much that was tremendously trendy in the fill, but it felt classic rather than dated. There was some dependence in the AFORESAID (12D: Mentioned previously) fill on little bits to hold things together -- RUS HAB EEN UTE HOR RDS MDS -- TIL OMG that's a lot all at once.

I get too hungry for dinner at eight
I like the theater, but never come late
I never bother with people I hate

  • 15D: Things mined in Cleopatra's Mines (EMERALDS) — This is name given to an archeological site near Aswan Dam in Egypt, discovered in the early 19th century. Almost made it Word of the Day, but felt like spoiling the plot of Greek tragedy instead.
  • 64A: Blues-rock group that grew out of Jefferson Airplane (HOT TUNA) — They're still touring.
  • 57A: Bill of Southwest legend (PECOS) — Apparently, Pecos Bill wasn't truly a legend that grew out of folk culture, but a character invented for a series in the early 20th-century magazine The Century (published in New York City), and as such, he is considered fakelore.
  • 13A: Out of place, in obstetric parlance (ECTOPIC) — A very, very, very common complication of pregnancy, not serious if treated promptly. I'm a little surprised this passed the "breakfast test" -- but perhaps that's a sign of progressiveness. 
Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld, who will 59A for another three days.

[Follow Laura on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Nate Cardin 12:34 AM  

I was impressed that one of the FORTs going down cleanly intersected the next themer! Some nice construction.

Glad that ECTOPIC made it in - none of us would be here if it weren't for pregnancies and it's not vulgar in any way, so I find it fully fair game.

Thanks, Laura!

Unknown 12:59 AM  

Thanks, @Laura, for your generous review of @Jeffrey Wechsler's clever puzzle. I picked up the theme soon enough, though I needed a little help to complete the northwest corner. Also, HAB echoes yesterday's HOB, but at least today it was fairly crossed. Did anyone else have PIN ahead of SSN?

Personal note: I've met @Jeffrey several times at crossword tournaments, both in Stamford and in Saint Paul. For the latter, he donated some of the prizes. Class act! (Today is his fifteenth @Shortz-era puzzle, all since 2009, but he has one puzzle from 40 years before that, i.e., 1969, when the editor was @Will Weng.)

jae 1:39 AM  

Easy-medium for me. My biggest problem was Rte before RDS.

SYNGE was a WOE.

I think I've seen HAB clued as a Montreal player or fan?

An OK Thurs. theme with some choppy fill, liked it.

Larry Gilstrap 1:40 AM  

Began and ended in the NW, after two staring sessions in the NW. Snow in Seattle was today's forecast while solving. We have a rebus FORT only one direction and only three FORTs? Did I already mention my problems in the NW? The clue for 1A gave me bigCaTS, and got me all hot and bothered about trophy animals, but Mr. Met and Phillies Fanatic? Go ahead and open fire with a t-shirt gun. Wait, those aren't animals. Feel free to add your favorites or targets. I'll go first: My alma mater the Glendora Tartans had a Scottie dog, soooooo cute.

I like Laura's reviews for many reasons: She posts before my bedtime, she seems to know her stuff, and she's funny. Exhibit A: She offers a spoiler alert for a Greek Tragedy. My turn. Oedipus Rex blinds himself with a brooch, I've heard.

Hope I never have to experience MOB RULE. Is that an oxymoron?

I always feel compassion for our young solvers. It isn't your fault you missed out on Mid-century culture, poor bastards! I have always listened to music and tried to stay on a cutting edge. Jefferson Airplane meant a lot to me in the late 60s, but HOT TUNA? Waiting for your HOT TUNA stories. Drive-in movie back seat. Or, I hope, first dance at your wedding, perhaps? Not sure that dated group was ever classic.

Long time Dodger shortstop. coach, and manager, Bill Russell came up as a very young player and earned the nickname "Ropes," given to him by an old PRO, no doubt.

Trombone Tom 2:04 AM  

Another fair and cogent review from @Laura. I can only imagine what our resident curmudgeon might have written.

I sort of fell into the theme when **INCOMF showed up and the ORT(E) was readily discernible hanging off the end. Only rewrite was TOXIC --> ACRID. Great clue for MASCOTS.

I've probably heard of HOT TUNA but my band name knowledge is hazy after Jefferson Airplane/Starship.

A clever puzzle with an interesting twist. A little on the easy side for a Thursday. I look forward to Mr. Wechsler returning soon.

chefwen 2:19 AM  

Got the theme fairly quickly with TRAVELING IN COMFORT. Being the spoiled little Princess that I am, thanks Dad, that's the only way to travel. The other theme answers weren't so easy, but get able.

Jeffrey Wechsler puzzles are usually a challenge to me and I feel a little trepidation diving into one, but I loved this. Not too easy, not too tough.

Hartley70 3:18 AM  
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Hartley70 3:21 AM  

It's been a while since we've turned a theme corner on a Thursday. This was especially well done because of the varied placement of the FORTs. BEAUFSCALE gave me the theme and I liked the revealer.

I thought the clue for MASCOTS was the most difficult, but the cluing was a bit straight forward for me to call this anything but easy/medium.

I haven't thought of Lena HORNE in a while. It was nice to meet her here this morning. HOTTUNA didn't evoke the same response from me. I'm sure someone somewhere solving the puzzle will enjoy that memory, but it took me right to tuna noodle casserole, a culinary abomination that does not survive my personal breakfast test.

TrudyJ 4:15 AM  

I thought I couldn't love Laura's reviews more after the gratuitous Abed photo yesterday, but slapping a spoiler warning on ORESTES made today even better.

My only real problem was not being sure about ESTAS vs ESTES and trying to convince myself there was a band called HOT TUNE.

Loren Muse Smith 5:29 AM  

Laura – I know, right? I thought of you as I filled in the reveal. Thanks again for stepping up this week.

Like @Trombone Tom and @chefwen, I got the trick with TRAVELING IN COMFORT and felt really pleased. This was pretty early into the solve, so when I went around looking for other FORTs, I couldn’t find them yet. I appreciated the difficulty on a Thursday. Didn’t help that I had Sally “Field” then “Worth.”

I agree – clue for MASCOTS was terrific.

@Hartley – gotta agree with you on TUNA casserole. Brings to mind the congealed salads with lime jello and what not suspended inside. And green bean casserole with soup, those canned fried onions sprinkled on top. And the pineapple ring with mayonnaise and shredded cheddar. (All washed down with powdered skim milk – I swear. That’s what we had to drink in the ‘60s.) Good times.

FORTE. I still struggle with this pronunciation. It was here that I learned that you’re supposed to pronounce it forTAY only when it is a musical term. When you’re talking about what you’re good at, it’s just fort. But if you say it the “correct” way, then most people will think you’re a low-brow dummy. Kinda like saying Eugene told her and me to reaim the puree emitter at Habakkuk. I tell you – in the, well, “case” of pronouns, it’s a free-for-all out there. I’m curious to see how the MOB RULE on pronoun case will affect our grammar books and dictionaries in the next few decades.

Anyway, I think the forTAY pronunciation has shoved fort aside and is here to stay. Wonder if we’ll be ordering Linzer Tortay any time in the future. Hah.

Good Thursday. I always like “spillover” words (good coinage, Laura) that bend around and veer off.

Lewis 6:11 AM  

A lovely journey, with resistance in the cluing to rev up the brain. For "Sound in Washington" I had the GE and the first thing that popped into my head was ANGER. HOT TUNA was one of those answers I had no idea that I knew, but out it slithered when I needed it. All in all, lots of fun, for which I feel grateful and FUNATE!

evil doug 6:43 AM  

Does your chewing gum lose its flavor
on the BEDPOST overnight?
If your mother says don't chew it,
Do you swallow it in spite?
Can you catch it on your tonsils,
Can you heave it left & right?
Does your chewing gum lose its flavor
on the BEDPOST overnight?
~Lonnie Donegan

Anonymous 6:50 AM  

Good write-up and music by Lena Horne. Laura, I think you are a good contender to take over this blog one day. I like how the fort pieces were connected together. Fortune hunter is when I finally stumbled onto the solution. Before that, upper half was giving me difficulty.

BarbieBarbie 7:12 AM  

@LMS, yep, just like lawn-jer-ay.
Having been through an e-preg myself, I don't see what would be so pukey about it. It's sad that many people have a little Garo in the family tree, but it's no more disgusting than anything else. True, it's not dangerous if caught early. The trick is diagnosis and location, though, so catching early isn't a given.
Easy puzzle but for me it lacked sparkle.

kitshef 7:18 AM  

BEAU(FORT)SCALE is what broke it open for me, as I’m sure it did for all the cool crowd.

EFTS are the juveniles not of just any salamander, but specifically of newts. Most salamander young are just tadpoles.

The more I look at this puzzle, the more I like it. All the FORTs are different: COMFORT, BEAUFORT, EFFORT, FORTE, FORTH, FORTUNE, and just plain FORT. And has been pointed out, intersecting themers.

Plus beauty fill like ORESTES and ECTOPIC and RIVEN.

Hungry Mother 7:27 AM  

Very quick for me today. I figured out the theme and the reveal and the rest was all in my wheelhouse.

kitshef 7:32 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith - re: FORTE, the key is to not care what people think of you and soldier on with what you know to be correct. And maybe, just maybe, they'll ask you about it and you can win a convert.

And this: The tiebreaker for Trivia night this week was "what is the Greek plural form of octopus?"

Glimmerglass 7:39 AM  

I liked the misdirection with 1A. For a while, COVE, TIL, and SCIFI gave me big CaTS at 1A. The drop-down theme seemed a little thin to me (only three), but I'm a constrictor, not a constructor. I was expecting Fortenbras or forthcoming or effort. Don't give up the fort.

GHarris 7:51 AM  

Had same hang up as @trudy but left it as hot tune and therefore dnf

Two Ponies 8:10 AM  

The general mood this morning is so positive towards this marginal puzzle that I am guessing Laura's entertaining review is saving the day. Very nicely done.
However, I expect a bit more of my Thursdays. So much tired fill such as Oreo, err, efts, Ani, Horne. Yawn.
The three positions of fort in the theme answers saved the day.
Hab as a hockey player would have been better.
Lots of RVs pull a car behind them that is affectionately called their toad. I always thought the pun was cute.

Didn't we have a long boring discussion here about whether it is "hold Down the fort" or merely "hold the fort." I hope we can avoid that today.

Z 8:34 AM  

I woke up in Olympia yesterday, so the Sound in Washington clue was especially timely for me.

@Trudy Morgan-Cole - Yep, the notion of "spoiling" Euripides tickled my funny bone, too.

@kitshef - Did you get it correct?

Hand up for SYNGE being a WOE. Fortunately, the crosses were fair so not a hang-up. RECTO is one of those LFCs that impresses people when you just throw it down without a thought.

Speaking of things epistemological...

@Brett from yesterday - Maybe I can be accused of wanting it both ways, but neither you not the clue is "wrong." You are correct from a religious studies perspective, the clue is correct from a usage perspective. What was most interesting to me from the Britannica article I linked to is that the word in question is now the preferred usage in India. (don't click on the link if you haven't done the 7/26 puzzle, yet). That's an interesting assertion that I'd like verified.

Also @anon9:49 yesterday - Wikipedia is not my" favorite." I do this thing known as "checking the source." So let me suggest you go back to the Wikipedia article (same spoiler alert) and look at footnote 5, the one in the third paragraph you reference. Did you notice?

Allen Wald 8:35 AM  

You're really good at cutting and pasting! Maybe you'll have an idea of your own one day.

chefbea 8:39 AM  

Haven't finished the puzzle yet or read the write-up...over slept but solo many foods and kitchen referrals . I just had to post....Be back later

kitshef 9:03 AM  

@Z- we weren't in the tie-breaker, having finished 4th. But we did know it, which neither of the teams in the tie-breaker did. One guessed octopi and the other guessed calamari.

Canon Chasuble 9:16 AM  

The Montreal Canadiens are indeed called The Habs, or, perhaps Les Habs from Habitants. Habitant Soup was a staple of my New England childhood and was made in Canada. The only plural of the word octopus is octopodes, meaning eight foot (not a linear measurement). It's the same root as in Oedipus, I.e., club foot. A great puzzle, btw

puzzlehoarder 9:28 AM  

This was such a routine solve that when I got up this morning I couldn't remember the puzzle at first. I'd done it on my tablet at the firehouse last night before the review was posted and went to sleep. The xwordinfo review was where I discovered the descending FORT theme. While solving I just assumed it was a hidden rebus in the across entries and just an F on the downs. It made no difference as I got the congrats the moment the last letter went in. When I had FSCALE by itself at 33A I momentarily thought it had something to do with tornados. That was quickly cleared up and it was at that point I realized that F filled in for FORT. It's not the actual theme but like I said it made no difference.

mathgent 9:28 AM  

@LMS: Nice tidbit about pronouncing "forte." I've heard some erudite people use the one-syllable pronunciation for a strength and had supposed that it was correct.

Can't say that I was thrilled with today's offering. No wordplay. Liked being reminded of the ultra-stylish Lena Horne, though.

I would have liked Habakkuk to be spelled out in the grid. Two Ks in a row and three out of four. Not that I've ever come across it before. Catholic schools don't pay much attention to the Old Testament.

I don't communicate with anybody on Facebook. My wife told me that somebody wished me a happy birthday on Facebook the other day. Am I supposed to be touched? They might just as well have shouted it out the window.

Mohair Sam 9:51 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
howard a. brenner 10:03 AM  

Nice to have a week of critic rather than crank. Please don't go.

jberg 10:15 AM  

I figured out TRAVEL IN COMFORT, but then I thought the trick was going to be "turn down at the end." I had something like - - - o f - - a l e and was trying to add TRO to it. Didn't work. I had to get the revealer before I saw how the other two worked. So that made it more challenging and fun for me.

@kitshef, @loren, I follow that rule in that I always eat asparagus spears with my fingers, feeling smug -- but pronunciation is tougher. maybe you should come by for tea, and we can discuss it further.

@Hartley70-- HOT TUNA casserole! Sacred to the memory of my mother. I'd gladly have it for breakfast, though maybe not for dinner.

Joseph Michael 10:22 AM  

"I was a fune hunter traveling in Comf who used her beauf scale to weigh hot tuna for Orestes during mob rule at the fish market."
-- Sally Forth, How to Hold Down the Fort

while he tries yo hold down the fort.

tries to hold down the fort with a beauf scale

Anonymous 10:23 AM  


I read your drivel last night. It wasn't worth writing it again.
By the way if Brett is right, so am I.
Your claim that somehow a common usage is the same as being correct is farcical. You're dim bulb who doesn't even recognize his limitations. Grow up. Give up. Then dry up and blow away.

TOCraig 10:27 AM  

Very nice puzzle. Thank you JW.

Mohair Sam 10:37 AM  

I had to work this puppy from the bottom up. And like Our Substitute Fearless Leader was struggling in the NW. Puzzle partner grabbed her coffee, settled in and calmly said "MASCOTS/METRO, what's your problem? - and that'll be PASTA/PUGET at 8." Humbled.

Yeah it was fun, at the cost of a few awkward threes - so what. Great clue for MASCOT, nifty misdirect for PUGET. Constructors can thank Heaven ANI DiFranco doesn't spell her name like most Annie's. Thank Heaven (II) that SYNGE filled easily. Yep Laura, in bank lending departments at least, LAND SALE is used all the time. Someday I will spell DOWSE correctly the first time (I always want M&A's "U").

@Evil Doug - An important Lonnie hit, no doubt. But nothing tops his version of "Rock Island Line".

@Laura - I'll join the throng in voicing thanks for the great job you're doing in HOLDing DOWN THE FORT.

Nancy 10:51 AM  

I dunno. I sort of thought this was half a rebus and a bit...odd. Like @Hartley, I got it at the BEAUFORT SCALE, not a term that is emblazoned on my mind, but one that popped out quickly when I had the other letters. And I found the theme answers the easiest part of the puzzle, actually. MASCOTS was deviously clued, and I didn't know that PASTA could be hollow. I liked the clue and answer for ECTOPIC. (I had EnTOPIC first, but AnRID is not a Thing.)

I've pronounced FORTE every which way to Sunday, but I'm now at the one-syllable pronunciation for good. It's what @kitshef said to @Loren at 7:35: Just do the right thing and don't worry about what others think. Of course that's not true of "It is I." I'm not nearly brave enough to ever say that. Haven't said it, haven't even thought it, for decades.

@mathgent -- I howled over your Facebook comment. So true!

newspaperguy 11:16 AM  

@loren muse smith Cave in on pronunciations and soon you will be agreeing that 2 + 2 = 5 (or 3, or anything but 4). Blame your country's disdain for education, I suppose.

jb129 11:45 AM  

Got "Hold down the fort" immediately - before anything else so I knew the thene - finishing up the rest - so far, so good Jeffrey!

RooMonster 11:47 AM  

Hey All !
Well, I must be grumpy today, because I didn't much care for this puz. Seems everyone liked it. The ole brain must be messing with me.

Odd placements of the FORT in FORTUNE HUNTER, who would look for it at the beginning, then jump back to the second across letter. After writing that sentence, I just realized the FORTs are at the end, middle, beginning of the three themers, so that actually ratchets it up a notch.

But still kind of a muddled puz. And that NW, ugh. Best thing was the F count.


old timer 11:49 AM  

I'm old enough to remember TVs with a VER(tical) and HOR(izontal) hold knob. You typically used these buttons when the test pattern was broadcast, which happened before or after a station was on the air. Try finding a test pattern today. You young (or middle-aged) folk have it easy, except sometimes when you solve a crossword.

Doing these puzzles is a FORTE of mine, pronounced FORT. However, at the piano, the sheet music might have an f under the notes, short for FORTE also. That's pronounced FOR-tay. The for-TAY pronunciation is a barbarism.

GILL I. 11:51 AM  

Cool puzzle. TRAVELING IN COMFORTE gave me my favorite Thursday aha. @chefwen...Amen. I'd rather stay home if I can't travel with the rich and famous!
I learned how to pronounce FORTE listening to Rush Limbaugh one day. He was pontificating on the correct way to say it and you could actually imagine him spitting out the TAY. I'm scared to even use the word now.
In Mexico City they have little green two DOOR V.W.Beetle cabs. They remove the front right seat so you can get in a bit easier. My first solo ride was loads of fun as my cab driver kept picking up other fares along the way. He crammed FOUR of us complete strangers into a back seat. You'd arrive at your destination, climb over a body and pay your fixed price. What a country!
@Hartley...HOT TUNA melt? Love those things. My grandmother made a ton of TUNA casseroles. She'd make it with Campbell's cream of mushroom soup and add @Loren's little fried onion rings. I know it doesn't sound appetizing but it was delicious when I was a kid. @Loren....Pineapple rings with mayo? Really? Where, pray tell, did that ever come from?
Nothing really bothered me today. I liked all the FORTS. FUNE HUNTER was my favorite theme answer and the MASCOT clue held me up the longest but it was my favorite. @Evil's BEDPOST PUN was OMG I haven't heard that in a hundred years. I think I learned that one at camp.
@Laura....Fun write-up; puts the reader in a good mood. Thank you.

Masked and Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Super-fun solvequest. Theme is sorta like a rebus with the runs. Strugglin to hold down the gas is M&A's major FARTE, btw.

Theme is sorta reminiscent of the ever-popular runt-roll maneuver in runtpuzs. But -- don't go holdin that against it.

Learned new: ECTO-PIC. RIVEN [well, maybe seen somewhere, but ain't sure]. HOT-TUNA. SYNGE. ORESTES. All Acrossers. The Downers were friendlier, which kept M&A in the ballgame. A ballgame rich in foul balls and expended precious nano-secs, I'd grant.

staff weeject picks: HAB & HOR. Seems like only yesterday, when M&A went to all that re-fill trouble, to purge just one little wayward HOB from a grid. Now it goes and has puppies, anyhoo. This'll teach m&e … [snort]

fave fillins: AFORESAID. Has a red herring FOR(no T) in it. HORNE. (Would look primo together with FORTE. Discuss.) FOURDOOR. BEDPOST. SCAMP. MOBRULE.

Admire them two giant black L's on the grid sides. Different. They help hold the FORTs up. Giant L's sorta resemble the ever-popular jaws of themelessness.

@Laurasorceress: Yes! Yes! Bullets! How FORT-2-it-tous!

Thanx, Mr. Wechsler. thUmbsUp ThursPuz. HAB a real good d-day.

Masked & Anonym8Us

@r.alph did this in 59 sec.(!):

Tita 12:07 PM  

Yay for a tricky Thursday. This gave me a fun aha, that was not fully realized/appreciated till the most apt revealer.
BEAUFORT scale from a time where instrumentation and sensors were not ubiquitous. Provided a workable ability to describe wind force as it related to maritime travel.
I have a cartoon line drawing somewhere of a visual depiction of that scale.
It's a hapless woman in a bikini.
At 0, she's casually leaning against the mast.
At 12, she's horizontal, hanging on for dear life, and her top is gone.
Predictable, puerile,yes, but it stuck with me.

Thanks for a clever Thursday, Mr. Wechsler

Uncle Anti 12:25 PM  

Hmmm, no trans in the military? About time.
I can see the lawyers lining up now.
Before you scream foul look yourself
squarely in the mirror and ask yourself
in the event of war or disaster
who do you want coming to defend or rescue you,
Rambo or Dr. Frankenfurter?

John 12:58 PM  

The Anonymous going bonkers re "fakir" and, if it's the same Anonymous, some silliness about Clinton, and owning stocks, and, then today, calling people stupid, needs to RELAX. Seriously, RELAX! Or you'll blow a gasket, which would be sad. Today's puzzle was a lot of fun, BTW.

Joe Bleaux 1:13 PM  

Uncommonly easy for a Thursday, but another of Jeffrey Wechsler's solid EFFORTS. The NW, which I completed first, turned out to have been the toughest, as the rest was a steady, enjoyable solve. @kitshef, right you are about salamander young'uns. (Since politicians' offspring often follow in their footsteps, I keep hoping to see Eft Gingrich show up on a ballot as a write-in candidate.) @Larry, about those Hot Tuna stories, here's mine: Way back in the day, I had smoked weed a couple of times without getting high, and had sadly accepted my fate as one of those storied poor souls whom pot didn't affect. Then came the party when I took the pipe and went through the motions anyway, because cool, and a Hot Tuna album became a milestone soundtrack.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

@Mathgent and @Nancy I believe that Mrs. Mathgent is "on Facebook" and one of her friends said to her, tell Mathgent Happy Birthday. It doesn't mean somebody told "the world". Would you have found it touching if she had been on the phone with Mary Doe and after getting off the phone said, Mary Doe said to tell you Happy Birthday?

Suzy 1:34 PM  

@LMS-- how about the Scary Moocher the other day: "him and Jeff haven't...". truly revolting!

Teedmn 1:37 PM  

Taxicabs were not my FORTE today. Rte at 46A and some weird thought that taxicabs went dooRtoDoor (except this gave me dooRtOOR at 31D) had me thinking that 40A's FORT was indeed one of M&A''s runt rolls but it also gave me Fo__HUNTER - how is the UNE going to fit? Talk about fits...

I finally straightened that out and the figure in my head (eSt) was changed to SSN and all was well.

Thanks, @kitshef, for letting me join the cool kids getting the theme at BEAUFSCALE.

Nice puzzle, Jeffry Wechsler. I enjoyed meeting Mr. Wechsler at the St. Paul crossword tournament this past June and I got to hear the story of his original crossword submission back in 1969, as referred to in @GeorgeB's comment. Things certainly worked differently in that era.

semioticus (shelbyl) 1:40 PM  

Two things made this less enjoyable for me. 1. The fill was full of crosswordese and not-so-common (at least for me) references. 2. The revealer didn't give me an instant "aha!" feeling. I had to think about what "hold down" could mean, how it works etc. and that takes away from the fun of it.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  


I think you've misidentified the one going bonkers. Check today's thread and you'll note that it was Z who dredged up the fakir business. Everything else is a response to him. But if you don't think he's bonkers, check the comments for yesterday's puzzle. That nut job Z actually posted the same comment there (at 8:09 this morning) that he posted in today's comments.
Talk about not letting go.
I enjoyed todays puzzle very much, and I assure you, I'm quite relaxed. It's Z who suffers from some mania. I'm no fan of his, but at this point, he has more of my pity than scorn.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

@Uncle Anti 12:25
Wow, what a dick. You've obviously never been in the military. Having a fellow soldier by your side, regardless of sexual orientation can save your life. If your fellow soldier can save your life, who gives a flying fuck about that. I'd just leave you to die.

Hungry Mother 2:44 PM  

To the trollers: you can be assholes without being anonymous; check me out for an example.

Uncle Anti 4:38 PM  

@ brave anon 2:02,You are so sure in your righteous indignation that you get to decide who dies?
OK, let's play army. My guys in camo and boots and your team in fishnets and high heels. First guy to break a nail loses.

Anonymous 5:04 PM  

Stereotype much?
No, I don't get to decide who dies, but I would hope it's you.

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

Oh, and just for your knowledge, as it seems you have none, transgender people (e.g.) women to men, don't dress up in fishnets and high hells. Those are men who dress in drag. Completely different. But your addled mind can't see that.

Two Ponies 5:15 PM  

@ LMS, I've been thinking about the one-syllable forte and I have never heard anyone use it. Right or not I don't think I could use it.
I really dislike being misunderstood and I'm sure I would have to explain it or risk being thought of as a "low brow" as you said.
Living where I do among the miners and lumber jacks using the two syllable version might be a risk in itself. For-tay is fine for me.

jae 5:16 PM  

@Hartley & lms - for an interesting take on tuna noodle casserole see if you can find the Beat Bobby Flay episode where he is challenge by Food Network Star winner Demaris Phillips to make the dish.

Black Sun 5:41 PM  

Whoa, I'm so intolerant of your intolerance that you must die?
The irony of your statement is delicious Snowflake.

Joe Dipinto 6:02 PM  

"Say, uh, come all these new names are pasted into the plat book?"

"Land sales out of escrow are always recorded within the week."

"Then these are all new owners?"

"That's right."

"But that means that most of the valley's been sold in the last few months."

"If that's what it says..."

Identify the movie. :-)

Mohair Sam 6:15 PM  

@Joe - blind guess at "Hell or High Water"?

kitshef 6:26 PM  

@Joe Dipinto - Superman?

Joe Dipinto 6:45 PM  

@mohair sam & kitshef -- no to both.


1) this conversation is between the film's (male) protagonist and a clerk in the hall of records in the city where the film takes place (that character is otherwise insignificant).

2) The film is shown entirely from the protagonist's point of view, i.e. we are never anywhere that he isn't.

2) The film takes place roughly 37 years before the year it was made.

JC66 6:49 PM  


JM 6:53 PM  

@ Joe- "Chinatown"

Joe Dipinto 6:59 PM  

@JC66 -- Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner!

I've seen that movie so many times the dialogue must be embedded in my head. When Laura asked if anyone really says "land sales", this exchange immediately came to mind.

Joe Dipinto 7:00 PM  

And also @JM, you got it.

JC66 7:07 PM  

@Joe D

Great movie, one of my favorites.

JC66 8:08 PM  

"My sister, my daughter.

Anonymous 8:12 PM  

Here it comes, the turd in the punch bowl. CHinatown is over long, overwrought, and over rated.
Right now on TCM there's a master screenwriter's work playing---Garsonn Kanin. Add, Hecht, the Epsteins, WIdler ando Diamond, Allen, Milius and a couple more before the wildly over praised Robert Townespecially.
For what it's worth Rex, Ronald Coleman'so charaster just name checked The Student Prince. Just thought you should be up to speed.

D.F. Melia 8:18 PM  

Pet peeve. Until recently the expression was "hold the fort," presumably against attackers. Why are we "holding down the fort?" Is it about to float away?

Two Ponies 8:47 PM  

@ D.F. Melia, I asked the same question at 8:10 this morning and got no response. I don't know where the "down" came from either.

JC66 9:05 PM  

HOLD DOWN THE FORT is an idiom.

It gets almost double the hits as HOLD THE FORT.

Joe Dipinto 9:34 PM  

@Anonymous 8:12

Please have the bartender phone a car service to take you home, I'm concerned about your slurred typing.

Punctuated equilibrium 9:37 PM  

Merriam-Webster has a nuanced take on the For-tay vs. Fort pronunciation.

Hartley70 12:49 AM  

@jae, no, no don't make me! My gorge is rising at the thought.

I have to say that Loren topped the white hot tuna mess with her pineapple, mayonnaise, shredded cheddar and powdered skim milk delight. I've been shuddering over that one all day.

Uke Xensen 1:41 AM  

This was easy, but unlike others here I did not care for the theme.

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Burma Shave 10:23 AM  


SHE was UNSAFE in the ACT,
SHE'd FUSSAT the BEDPOST, in fact -
a PRO in an ORTHO-RECTO kind of way.


spacecraft 10:29 AM  

@evil: "...I really want to know/ The answer to this question--is it yes or is it no?" I was going to print what follows but you did it first. I used to love all those novelty songs: "Please, Mr. Custer," "Transfusion," etc. Here's a limerick from John Zacherle's 1958 hit "Dinner With Drac:"

A good swimmer was Dracula's daughter;
She used the pool more than she oughter.
When guests dive in there
They just disappear
'Cause she uses acid, not water!

Great stuff. Now, holding down the Thursday FORT is a fun little "twist" of PASTA. I happened to end up in the NW, more by chance this time than difficulty. (My medical background made ECTOPIC a gimme). But I "dove in" at STPETE in the SE--hey, it really IS! PECOS Bill naturally steered me west, and in no time I had the reveal line. It appeared momentarily that the guy looking to become rich was seeking FUN--Rich Little, maybe? But in a second I recognized the wordy comic strip Sally FORTH--and all became clear. So casting my eye above, I quickly filled in EFFORTS and FORTE, and the rest of it practically solved itself.

LANDSALES is definitely a thing. Most real estate sales are for land on which there stands a structure of some sort; that which lacks a building is the stuff of LANDSALES. ALL real estate sales are LANDSALES, but in the industry the "undeveloped" ones are called that.

Easy-medium; really just a few moments to get started, so maybe easy-easy-medium. The structure contains a bunch of threes, which seldom bodes well for the fill, but this time Mr. Wechsler pulls it off with relatively little flotsam; one unpleasant re-verb: REAIMS. DOD is (was) the smoldering Lena HORNE: HOTTUNA indeed. Birdie.

rondo 12:07 PM  

Not too tough with a little FORTitude. W/o with Rte before RDS and enDPOST before thinking about BED.

TRAVELING today from Chi-town to Brew-town, IN relative COMFORT. I think I can find a paper there with tomorrow's puz.

Frequent yeah baby winner ANI DiFranco is here again.

Not a terrible puz for the EFFORTS.

leftcoastTAM 12:52 PM  

Relatively easy for tricky Thursday after the FORTs came FORTH. I guess you can say, as the revealer tells us, they were all held down.

FORTUNEHUNTER was the last to show up, crossed by the obscure HAB and E'EN, not e'er.

Had Rte before RDS, and waited to put the S in SYNGE, whose name is not as well-known (to me) as the "Playboy" title.

Clever enough and fun.

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Enjoyed working the puzzle, but the theme stunk. Unnecessary.

Diana,LIW 1:44 PM  

Even tho for once I knew most of the PPP (maybe all of it?), and easily finishing the bottom half (with the revealer) I still had a dnf.

Putting in "UHaul" instead of METRO did not help me at all. Clever misdirect for MASCOTS. BEAUFORTSCALE is on the edge of my awareness. Knew it was (some)INGINCOMFORT.

Tonite we sally forth to the annual Labor Day Pig Out in the Park - 6 days of food and music.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Unknown 2:18 PM  


rain forest 2:47 PM  

I say FOR-tay for both the musical direction and the personal strength.

This was medium for me as I "saw" the trick with the first themer - (something)ING IN COMF___" with FORTE going down. Leaving the NW blank, but thinking that ---CaTS was the answer for 1A, the bottom two-thirds of the puzzle was a slow and steady solve.

The NW was the toughest part of the puzzle. Took me a long time to let go of
CaTS (glad it wasn't the answer), but ECTOPIC finally came to me, and the devilish MASCOTS became evident.

Not a rebus, but fun to suss out, and a nice revealer. HOLD DOWN THE FORT is common up here.

@Lady Di - I be here. Not hard to do with the syndies, and with a decent blogger for the week.

thefogman 3:05 PM  

First of all I want to thank Laura for HOLDingDOWNTHEFORT for OFL. I had a tough time with this one but finished after quite a bit of head scratching and eraser rubbing in the vicinity of FORTUNEHUNTER. I had a T placed at the beginning of 40A to create tUNEHUNTER - figuring the FOR part would be dangling underneath that answer. Alas, the only way to make that work was to hope somehow FDAY was an obscure historic Normandy event. When I finally torpedoed that silly notion and focused on the possibility that the FORT was parked at the 40D position I finally saw the light - and Sally FORTH - and FORTUNEHUNTER. Eureka! I shouted (in my head because I was at the stylist's waiting for my haircut).
This was a tough one for me. Even for a Friday. I was almost Naticked at the intersection of HOR and ORESTES (which is located in the seedy part of town BTW). Full disclosure: I went to Wiki to look up Euripides' works because (up until that point) it was all Greek to me. And a failure to solve that tiny section after all that work would have been a tragedy of near-epic proportions. Frankly, I did feel the combo of 66A and 60A was a wee bit unfair on the part of the constructor. But his work was otherwise solid so I won't belabour the point any further. Wishing you all a good long weekend fellow Syndies!

rondo 4:00 PM  

Safely in Brew-town and having one of the local brews - for now, Miller. Staropramen tomorrow at Mader's. Best. Ever.

Re: @ed's BEDPOST POST - didn't realize Lonnie Donegan wrote it. Think I always heard a version with "spearmint" in place of "chewing gum" on said BEDPOST.

rondo 4:02 PM  

BTW - Staropramen is not local.

Diana,LIW 6:50 PM  

Being part of the "lump in the snake" of the baby boomers, 90 of my classmates, including me, were kicked into high school in 8th grade. There we were able to do things like participate in the HS band for five years. Led by the amazing Nicholas Forte (FOUR-tay). He had a gift for taking 40/5/ semi-civilized HS kids into a group that could make music. One Saturday at the football halftime we played Carmina Burana. (sp??) For once, the crowd stopped talking and actually listened. Felt very cool and grown up.

So FOUR-tay is the way I always say it. Don't like it? Bark at the moon.

Lady Di

leftcoastTAM 9:01 PM  

@rainy, @Lady Di--

Would like you not to say "for-tay". Why not say it correctly, regardless of those you talk to who think otherwise or want to correct you or may even think less of you. Stand up for the language as it is correctly spoken.

P.S. I'm definitely not right-wing politically.

thefogman 9:18 PM  

According to Oxford...

Pronunciation /ˈfɔːti/:

wcutler 9:39 PM  

Two Ponies 8:47 PM: I always thought it was "hold down the fort". Hold the fort" makes me think that the intended expression was "hold the phone", which doesn't even mean the same thing.

I really liked the puzzle, with the FORTs being held down (instead of across). My favourite part was the NW, which was my last to complete, after finally ditching toxic for ACRID. I loved the MASCOTS answer.

My mother taught me FOR-TE, and I thought she was right about everything to do with words.

thefogman 9:49 PM  

Fort, fort-ay
Tomato, tomahto
Let's call the whole thing off.

rondo 10:53 PM  

In music, three effs or more - fff - is fortississimo, ff is fortissimo, and f is forte (for-tay). The Alamo was a FORT. Loud is forte, for-tay. So is forty if you're gonna par-tay. Good and loud are multiple effs. But what the eff does it matter?

Maybe a better question is - does the e matter?

I was a musician once. Maybe I could or couldn't play well, but playing forte(for-tay) was my forte. So the judges said.

thefogman 11:17 PM  

I wish the pianoforte was my forte. Sadly it is not.

leftcoastTAM 1:30 AM  

I withdraw forte comment. Variant pronunciation acceptable according to trusty M-W dictionary.

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