Group with five #1 R&B hits in 1990s / THU 11-23-17 / Bringer of light in myth / Declaration at end of chess game / Smallpox victims of 1500s / Higher priced burger meat / 1971 double-platinum album for Doors / Bit of doctoral graduation regalia

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Constructor: Howard Barkin

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: familiar phrases related to numbers (?) are clued as if those numbers functioned mathematically, resulting in unexpected, wacky answers... 

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Halftime show? ("THIRTY MINUTES") ("half" of the "minutes" in the "show" "Sixty Minutes")
  • 30A: Double feature? ("SIX AMIGOS") ("double" the "amigos" in the movie "Three Amigos")
  • 38A: Triple play? ("RICHARD IX") ("triple" the number of the "play" "Richard III")
  • 50A: Fourth estate? (THREE OAKS) (one "fourth" the number of "oaks" in the estate "Twelve Oaks" (see Word of the Day, below)
  •  59A: Fifth act? (THE JACKSON ONE) (one "fifth" of the musical "act" "The Jackson Five")
Word of the Day: Twelve Oaks (50A) —
In Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone with the Wind, Twelve Oaks is the plantation home of the Wilkes family in Clayton County, Georgia named for the twelve great oak trees that surround the family mansion in an almost perfect circle. Twelve Oaks was described as a "beautiful white-columned house that crowned the hill like a Greek Temple," having true southern charm and whimsy. Margaret Mitchell came up with the idea for The Twelve Oaks, and modeled the home after an actual antebellum mansion located in the historic area of Covington, Georgia. The home that was portrayed as Margaret Mitchell's Twelve Oaks in the film Gone with the Wind has been renovated and is now open as a bed and breakfast and event facility in Covington, Georgia, thirty minutes east of Atlanta. (wikipedia)
• • •

I like the whole weird, wacky math thing, but switching from fractions to multiples back to fractions seems not just inconsistent but super-awkward. No problem with the "half" part and never even saw the "fifth" clue (because I inferred THE JACKSON ONE easily from crosses), but that [Fourth estate?] clue, yeeeeesh. First, because "fourth" is *an ordinal* (and only a fraction if preceded by "a" or "one"), I had no idea what was going on. I thought there was some kind of series ... of OAKS? ... and I couldn't figure out how "Fourth" got you to THREE ... OAKS. Second, I just had no idea what Twelve Oaks was. None. Tara, I know. Twelve Oaks, hoo boy no. So when I wrote in that "O" in OCTO (not at all clear, as OCTA is also a legit [Numerical prefix]), I just hoped for the best: and bam, Mr. Happy Pencil. But I just stared at THREE OAKS going "whaaaaa .... t?" Then I looked at the [Fifth act?] clue and saw that ONE is a "fifth" of five and then I realized that the original estate must be Twelve Oaks. Then I googled it and voila. By the way, what's a fifth act? Is it just ... the fifth act ... of a play? The other theme clues seem so much tighter / more specific. Halftime is a thing. The fourth estate is a thing. Fifth act ... is about as much a thing as fourth act, i.e. not much of a thing.

["One-fifth of the Jackson 5 ..."—Charlton Heston]

But again, as I say, the whole "do some wacky math" thing was reasonably pleasing to me. If it hadn't been for the whole fourth estate debacle, I think this would've played Easy for me. I certainly blew through most of the top part. TAM weirded me out (not a word I associate with regalia) (22D: Bit of doctoral graduation regalia) and ACIDY took many crosses. I haven't thought about JODECI in twenty years, but their name came flying up from the back of my brain (10D: Group with five #1 R&B hits in the 1990s). I had a MAC (intosh, i.e. raincoat) in my closet before I had a VAC (12D: Closet item, for short). The first Shakespeare play I read (after the requisite 9th-grade encounter with "Romeo & Juliet" was actually, weirdly, "Richard II," so (and I'm not kidding here), I wrote in RICHARD VI at first for [Triple play?]. Wanted AS DO I before AS AM I (54A: "Me too," more formally). I don't think SO KIND stands well on its own at all, so I hesitated there for sure. Wrote in BRITISH at first for 44D: "The Office," originally (BRITCOM), so that took some undoing. So there were some struggles, but most of them minor. Mixed bag, this one. I SMILED a little at the math stuff, but found the mash-up of fractions and multiples slightly off-putting and a little confusing.

So hey, maybe you've got a spare five minutes to half an hour today 'cause it's Thanksgiving and all, and how much "togetherness" can any one person stand, am I right? Anyway, please enjoy this baseball crossword that I made, just for you. It's called "Fan Duel." Here's the PDF. Here's the .PUZ. Share it with your baseballier friends. And have a lovely day. Thank you!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:07 AM  

A tad tough. Parsing the theme clues so that they made sense took some time. Plus, the GWTW reference for THREE OAKS did not immediately leap to mind.

Oh, and JODECI was a major WOE.

Clever and a bit obscure works for me on Thurs. Liked it.

Casimir 12:21 AM  

A tad tough for me too only because of the NE. I had "mime" for 10A and "mac" for 12D (isn't there a coat called a macintosh?). I didn't have a clue about the R&B group. But, the clue for 10A just didn't fit "mime," so some staring and a run through the alphabet yielded jive, and it fell. It would have been nearly my best time but for that! Great puzzle, happy review by OFL. Happy Thanksgiving.

Dave Hogg 12:57 AM  

I needed that baseball puzzle after having a horrible time with the Thursday theme, so thank you! A huge percentage of my DNFs are on Thursdays when I just don't get the theme at all. This one took a while before it finally sank in.

The only reason I got THREE OAKS is that we have a mall here named TWELVE OAKS after the GWTW estate.

The baseball puzzle produced an average Monday time, but I just finished my 28th season covering the Detroit Tigers, so I had a bit of advantage.

turkeyneck 12:59 AM  

Loved "Fan Duel," Rex.

Anonymous 1:10 AM  

The theme mixing things up was really off-putting. Combine that with XER (no, that's not a thing), Ottawa and Toronto being in the NHL (they're not; they just have teams in it), whatever BRITCOM is, and ESE, this puzzle defeated me. I finished all but the southwest corner and then could bring myself to proceed no further. I lacked the will power to even attempt to tackle it. This turned into a DNF by apathy.

Tim Carey 1:21 AM  
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Ando 1:23 AM  

Re: post above: Ottawa and Toronto are in the NHL when used as the teams ("Ottawa beat Toronto in OT tonight...") rather than the cities.

I thought I was going to fly through this puzzle, with sub-Thursday fill like MERYL Streep and EBERT and completion of filming being a WRAP etc. It almost seemed like this puzzle was supposed to run Tuesday this week (and vice versa). Then it started getting gummy and then the themers which were clever but took me a while to work out. THE JACKSON ONE was by far my favorite.

Mark 1:24 AM  

Rex, thanks very much for the puzzle. I will tackle it (or maybe I should use a baseball analogy and say) take a swing at it tonight. Have a happy Thanksgiving

Mark 1:26 AM  

I liked the Times puzzle, but found it very difficult (which on a Thursday is not a bad thing)

tkincher 1:40 AM  

OAKS confused the hell out of me, thanks for the explanation. I liked the theme more in theory than in practice— the clues were too vague, I thought.

I have friends who somewhat recently named their new cat JODECI so that one fell into my lap after a couple of letters, luckily.

Larry Gilstrap 1:49 AM  

Not crazy about the cluing for the themers. The operative words are show, feature, play, estate, and act. The whole thing seems more than a little inconsistent to me, but what do I know? Anyway, they all filled up in due time. Gone With the Wind and The Three Amigos are equivalent in what cinematic universe? One is a beloved classic and the other is a Mexican restaurant in Tahoe City, or used to be.

Finished up in the NE because I'd forgotten JODECI; I've almost forgotten the 1990s, except for a few delicious bits. I was looking for all kinds of nonsense tucked away in a closet before I thought of a VAC.

A new MOON is nearly invisible for the primary reason that it is very close to the sun, which predominates every other celestial object, except for a waxing MOON which is often visible in the afternoon sky. Spoiler alert, a sliver MOON will be visible tomorrow evening as it moves farther away from the sun in the lunar cycle. Tonight, the sky is dark, cloudless, and starry in the desert SW; the conditions are unusually warm and still.

Wanted Dana Point before DATA point. Seven Seas memoir: Fourteen Years before the Mast. Not really, huh?

Marty Van B 1:59 AM  

My brain was definitely oriented towards a theme of on-screen answers with the first part of the grid serving up WRAP, MOVIE, EBERT, RESHOOT, THIRTYMINUTES, and SIXAMIGOS. Switching to the stage, literature, and then music threw me off at first.

The prefix/suffix clues that involve holding off on the uninferable last letter because I'm not sure of the word's gender have always kind of irked me. That probably ranks up there with complaints of neglecting the accent on foreign words resulting in completely different meanings from what was originally clued.

Rev. Gary Johnson, Man of God 2:08 AM  

I finished this so fast I started a fire, and that is extremely fast for a crossword puzzle. There were some minor injuries but fortunately I was unhurt.

Dolgo 2:18 AM  
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Dolgo 2:22 AM  
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Dolgo 3:02 AM  

Though I wore one when I bought new duds when I became Graduate Dean, I never heard the six-sided floppy hat worn by holders of advanced degrees at formal collegiate functions called a TAM. DOH!You never know when you're going to learn something new when you do crossword puzzle. BYW, undergrads still wear the mortar board, which I think has Masonic roots and is typically American.

Dolgo 3:07 AM  

PS I believe we inherited the mortar board from the Brits. Other foreign U's have various different designs. I always thought graduation was great fun!

Anonymous 3:37 AM  

@Ando: Everyone understands what the the puzzle creator was going for with the Ottawa and Toronto clue. I'm saying it's a bad clue. You know what else those cities have teams in? The OHL, the USL, and the CFL. And those are just sports teams. They're also in Canada, in Ontario, in Southern Ontario, and in Ohio. Saying two major, international cities are in a sports league is just sloppy cluing. As someone who lived in both (and is not in the NHL), I groaned audibly filling that in and completely lost interest in finishing the puzzle. You can clue NHL in any number of ways without suggesting the only important thing about those cities is that they have hockey teams.

Anonymous 3:51 AM  

I had ISAAC and DUH, instead of DOH. That took me forever to figure out---Duh

Birchbark 4:19 AM  

@Rex, I believe the "act" in [Fifth Act] is used to refer to the band, as in musical act. The act is the Jackson Five, divided by five. I also stumbled with MAC (+MIME) -- mODECI seemed plausible given that I had no idea, but I distrusted MIME as not phony enough, until finally it fell.

As for RICHARD III, we're in London this week on vacation and yesterday visited the rebuilt Globe Theatre -- a real eye-opener, if you like Shakespeare, to stand and understand how he wrote for [that] space. The examples of Richard speaking directly to the audience and Henry V's Chorus setting up the battle scenes honestly gave me a new way to read those plays, and for that I'm thankful.

The real goal today, 'mid museums, bumping into people and saying sorry, etc., is to find a place that serves turkey and has the Vikings/Lions game on television. Happy Thanksgiving one and all.

Anonymous 5:36 AM  

Liked it a lot and was glad it wasn't one of those forced T-bird theme puzzles.

The Jackson One - that was more than a true statement. After Michael, the others were The Jackson Others.

Thanks for posting the BBall puz Rex.

Happy Holidays, team.


Lewis 6:11 AM  


Great clue for MOON.

DATA point was nowhere to be found in my wheelhouse. But IMAGO, JODECI, and TWELVE OAKS were deeply ensconced in my memory's catchall drawer, and as I worked elsewhere in the puzzle, my brain foraged, rifled, and rummaged through that cerebral mess until I heard "Bingo!" faintly, three times, allowing me to finish the puzzle rather than declare "I RESIGN". Thus, I got my satisfaction smile in -- and thank you for that, Howard -- as well as my mental work quota. Now I can shift my focus to the culinary delights to come today. May your Thanksgiving be a delight!

Robert A. Simon 6:21 AM  

What a clever way to work in today's holiday!

Make the whole puzzle a turkey! Wow!

evil doug 7:25 AM  
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Z 7:26 AM  

A fine little Thanksgiving appetizer. I am a little bitter about how long the SW (sorry geographic reference point hater but I'm a conventional dude) corner took me thanks to BRITish before BRITCOM. Seriously? You're going to go with a not so common term and then a small pox clue in a little 3x4 corner. Argh. I sussed it out but that corner gets a demerit in my personal puzzle gradebook. I'm a little torn by that whole small pox clue; I'm all for gentle reminders that our history is less than pristine but not necessarily with my morning coffee.

@Anonymous NHL hater - My first thought was ONT but I didn't write it in. I briefly wondered if crossworld's New South Wales had towns by those names. Even though I knew DOH was right I resisted that H until the puck finally dropped. So I feel your pain, but I can't agree with your assessment. This is a crossword puzzle, so this kind of misdirection is a feature, not a bug. This clue gets a star in my personal puzzle gradebook (hey - if you're going to insist I be consistent I'm just going to have to ignore you - it's my gradebook).

Rex asked for testers on Twitter, so I got to do a late draft of the baseball puzzle. Rex demurred on my suggested vowel change of an A for an O. I'll let you figure out where so that I don't give a spoiler. My one complaint is that there should have been more Tigers in the puzzle.

Thanks for getting this blog up every day, Rex. And thanks for all the virtual and IRL friends and frenemies who are the commentariat.

evil doug 7:26 AM  



mmorgan 7:28 AM  

The NW started out way too easy and led me to start asking if this was really a Thursday. Then I struggled with -- and eventually enjoyed --- the themers. But the NE?? Hoo boy... brutal!

evil doug 7:34 AM  

Who will say I RESIGN first - - Trump? Franken? Conyers? It's a race to the bottom....

QuasiMojo 7:37 AM  

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I had a hard time with this puzzle. Sort of like a turkey drumstick with too much gristle. I got the theme early on but not knowing what "Three Amigos" or "Jodeci" are, I got stuck in the top right corner. Also I don't keep a "vac" in the closet. I was thinking LOO at first, then MOC. (Although only one?) JIVE nearly saved me from having to say I RESIGN, but I did have a DNF at SEN (did not get that one until I got here.)

Seeing "Twelve Oaks" made me sad because recently a lovely empty lot near me with over 200 gorgeous oak trees, dripping with Spanish moss, was bulldozed to make way for an apartment building. They promised to put in new trees, but they only put in generic palm trees which offer no shade, and are not particularly friendly to birds and squirrels.

Thanks for the extra puzzle, Rex. I don't have a printer but I'll see if one of my Thanksgiving hosts has one and I'll give it a shot.

Anonypuss 7:38 AM  

Played easy for me (11:13) but still enjoyed the challenging bits.

I have enough imagination and mental agility to interpret cities as teams and to juggle fractions and multiples.

I can only laugh at the carping, thin-skinned fault finders. Are you that way with everything? On this day of thanks, is there a "but" in every expression of gratitude?

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

A new moon is no closer to the sun than a full moon is, often. A new moon is invisible because we are looking at it’s dark side as the sun illuminates the opposite side.

Puzzle was terrific enjoyed the trick. A fun solve.

Ted 7:59 AM  

This thing was Saturday-hard.

The themers would not parse for me. I could get them on crosses, but even then I wouldn't understand WHY the answer made sense.

Throw in JODECI crossing JIVE and ACIDY and that whole NE corner is dead.

"Singer Chris." Nothing more than that? Thanks.

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

Was lost on Jodeci and Isaak. I had to look up smallpox info on Google to find Inca as Britcom was a mystery. I liked the puzzle but too many unknowns for me.

mathgent 8:10 AM  

I had a hard time of it. When I finally finished cleanly, It felt good.

Loved all five of the themers, especially RICHARDIX for "Triple play?"

We're having some of the family over today. I'm cooking a turkey. I dread having to carve the damn thing.

May you all have a wonderful day.

TomAz 8:38 AM  

I also found this hard. Some of it was fun, some of it was not.

I strenuously object to THREEOAKS. I object to being expected to know a minor detail from GWTW. It's the Confederate statue of movie clues.

Andy S. 8:41 AM  

21D clue could be: fifth breather.

TomAz 8:42 AM  

@mathgent: here's something that helps me -- remove the wishbone from the turkey before you stick it in the oven to roast. This article shows how:

This will allow you to carve the breast cleanly.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Shafty 9:01 AM  

Played easy for me today. I stumbled a bit on THREE OAKS, having seen GWTW several times but not recalling the name of any plantation other than Tara.

Down here in Houston, we had a hospital called Twelve Oaks. I always wondered at the name as there were, in fact, Zero oaks on the property. The facility had a reputation for being NOT OK (and many would call it POOR), so its nickname here was TWELVE JOKES.

Glad I finally understand the basis for the name (although it's still an odd name for a hospital; maybe their level of care was only up to Civil War standards).

I also appreciate Rex's positive write-up today. Happy Thanksgiving all.

Loren Muse Smith 9:03 AM  

Wow. Just stop and think a minute how much effort went in to finding themers. You had two have two in-the-language phrases – one for the clue and one for the entry – that worked together.

Like others, it took be forever to get THREE OAKS. And I’m a GWTW freak fanatic. And self-described Melanie Wilkes of Rexville.

@Marty Van Buren, I couldn’t help but notice the moviesome northwest: RESHOOT, MERYL, ARTISTE, EBERT, MOVIE, WRAP. Meryl, though – so overrated. Sad.

My high-priced burger meat was “emu” then “yak” then ELK.

Look, I’ve read through the comments twice. Quickly. Because I’m already cooking and setting the table. I make a herculean effort to make sure I don’t repeat someone else because when someone comes on after me and says something I already pointed out, I’m crushed. Like I want total credit, damn it. Anyhoo…. I did wince at the TAKEI/NOT OK cross.

I’m extremely thankful to this little community here and to all the friends, very good friends, I’ve made off blog because of this place.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

I believe Nathan McKinnon, not Bobby Orr, is now the youngest Calder Memorial Troohy winner.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

GWTW in a sentence: Gee, wasn't it nice when we owned people, before those damn yankees made us stop owning people? (sip mint julep)

kitshef 9:22 AM  

Loved it for the theme, which overcame the fill (DINES AT and RAN AT?). Two super themes in a row.

A rare case where getting the theme was an absolute necessity for me to finish, with SIX AMIGOS crossing two WoEs (TAM and JODECI), and with the weird ACIDY and tough clue for NHL (had can then Nam there).

Not convinced BRITCOM is a thing, Google be damned.

Going to do the baseball puzzle now.

puzzlehoarder 9:25 AM  

For a puzzle that started out easy, with the NE and the 20A themer going in at an early week rate, this turned out to offer some satisfingly late week solving.

The NE and the SW provided the best of it. JODECI was a complete unknown so was TAM as clued, IRESIGN had to be inferred.

In the SW it wasn't the very corner that was the problem. INCAS, IMO and ONME went right in. It was the good clue for APB and the term BRITCOM that provided the real resistance. I kept thinking that 44D had to be an actual title the show originally went by. Remembering the GWTW connection to OAKS helped clear things up. Before that I thought "The Office" must have been called "something Dot Com."

The themes required some mental gear shifting after the slam dunk THIRTYMINUTES. Overall a better than average Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Nancy 9:27 AM  

I got the struggle I crave on a Thursday and, like @mathgent, I felt good about myself when I solved it. The biggest non-theme woe was JODECI: even if I don't know all these stupid bands, at least some of them will sound familiar to me when I finally get them. This one, despite its five #1s (!) -- rang no bell at all. That corner, the NE, was made harder because I wanted CANT instead of JIVE at 10A. And, yes, I do have a VAC in my closet, but I never call it that. I address it much more formally and politely.

I can't believe that as a dyed-in-the-wool GWTW lover, I had trouble with THREE OAKS. I thought that THREE OAKS was the name of the Wilkes' estate and that nothing had been changed. Can you believe that? Or, as I say to myself when I misremember something so completely: DOH!

Loved RICHARD IX. Which enabled me to change pIS to XIS at 41D. Interesting clues for MOON (68A); INCA (64A); ELK (13D). ELK was a real head-scratcher for me: I've had a bison burger and a Kobe beef burger and a lamb burger, but never an ELK burger. Maybe it's an Aussie thing. Anyway, a good, challenging puzzle without too much junk.

The Hermit Philosopher 9:34 AM  

“Reasonably pleasing.” A rave review, considering the source.

Lojman 9:34 AM  

Rex - thanks for Fan Duel. Unlike today’s NYT puzzle (DNF), I hit yours out of the park!

Happy thanksgiving to you and yours,

Hungry Mother 9:48 AM  

JODECI? ACIDY? Loved the two Ceasar quotes.

Slick Willie 9:50 AM  

One day in the future, Bill Clinton has a heart attack and dies. He immediately goes to hell, where the devil is waiting for him.

"I don’t know what to do here," says the devil. "You are on my list, but I have no room for you. You definitely have to stay here, so I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’ve got a couple folks here who weren’t quite as bad as you. I’ll let one of them go, but you have to take their place. I’ll even let you decide who leaves."

Clinton thought that sounded pretty good, so the devil opened the first room. In it was Ted Kennedy and a large pool of water. He kept diving in and surfacing empty handed. Over and over and over. Such was his fate in hell. "No," Bill said. "I don’t think so. I’m not a good swimmer and I don’t think I could do that all day long."

So the devil led him to the next room. In it was Newt Gingrich with a sledgehammer and a room full of rocks. All he did was swing that hammer, time after time after time. "No, I’ve got this problem with my shoulder. I would be in constant agony if all I could do was break rocks all day," commented Bill.

The devil opened a third door. In it, Clinton saw Jesse Jackson lying on the floor with his arms staked over his head, and his legs staked in a spread eagle pose. Bent over him was Monica Lewinsky, doing what she does best. Clinton took this in in disbelief and finally said, "Yea, I can handle this."

The devil smiled and said "OK, Monica, you’re free to go!"

ColoradoCog 9:51 AM  

Just finished the baseball puzzle. It is very impressively constructed, @Rex, and I enjoyed the puzzle a lot, but I do have to wonder how you would have reviewed it, given the relatively large amount of dodgy and tired fill necessary to make the dense theme and bonus “visual reprentation” work. 33-A? 42-A? 45-A? 52-A? All in the same area? I think you would have torn that to shreds.

But in the end, I was happy to give fill like that a pass given the skill you displayed in the construction and theme challenges. Maybe a lesson here?

Unknown 10:02 AM  

Rex, thanks for the extra puzzle. It was a fun solve. There isn't enough baseball these days.

Shafty 10:05 AM  

@Anon 9:17: Your GWTW summary in one sentence: "I don't understand the difference between plot and setting."

mac 10:15 AM  

Nice little struggle this morning, especially in de NE. I never heard of Jodeci, in fact, how do we pronounce it?

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Long stretches of boredom punctuated by brief moments of terror at the theme answers. C'est la guerre.

Mark 10:30 AM  

I did Rex's puzzle and it was definitely good. I especially liked the unclued theme component

Teedmn 10:31 AM  

What cave was I lurking in during the 90's? A group with 5 #1 hits and I never heard of them? OMG. My excuse - it was pre-internet (as we know it today) so I was never exposed, R&B not being my thing. But not knowing JODECI gave me a double-DNF in the NE. I had mImE as phony talk because I had a mAC in the closet. mODECI, why not?

I kind of got the theme while solving, just enough to make SIX AMIGOS impossible to see - from that answer up through the rest of the NE took me five MINUTES alone - so a tough one for me today. And thank goodness, @Nancy, for admitting what I was ashamed about - THREE OAKS vs TWELVE OAKS was making me question my GWTW knowledge.

BRITCOM went in with nary a hesitation though. I was a huge BRITCOM fan back in the 80's, when my TV never left the PBS channel. "To the Manor Born", "Good Neighbors", "Allo, 'Allo", "Butterflies", "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin", "Yes, Minister" I loved them all.

Thanks (on Thanksgiving) for a Thursday challenge, Howard.

RooMonster 10:32 AM  

Hey All !
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all here! Don't eat too much!

Puz OK, took a bit to see what was happening. NE messed me up, though. Had SIXAndoUt, figuring baseball. JODECI a WOE, even IRESIGN not coming into the ole brain. Rest of puz good. Think YesterPuz and today s should've been switched.

Off to food and football!


kitshef 10:41 AM  

@Z - Can't imagine where an A for an O (or vice versa) would be better.

@Anon 7:50am - you are right about the puzzle, but wrong about the moon. @Larry Gilstrap was referring to the angle between the sun and moon, as seen from earth, where it is true that a new moon is closer. Even if you look at literal distance for sun to moon, a new moon is on average more than 450,000 miles closer to the sun than a full moon, although an individual full moon can be closer than an individual new moon. It's like 'men are taller than women' - true on average, but not true for every man and every woman.

@Anon at 9:09 - pretty sure ORR isn't even the second youngest - wouldn't that be Jeff Skinner?

Adam 10:51 AM  

I too struggled in the SW with BRITISH before BRITCOM, but finally finished. JODECI is a WOE, and if I never heard of them in the '90s I don't even really care enough to look them (him?) up. Whatever.

I also enjoyed the theme, but like @Rex found the switch from fractions to multiples confusing. No clue on THREE OAKS, although i had a vague echo of TWELVE OAKS somewhere in the back of my brain, and the crosses worked. As did others, I loved THE JACKSON ONE, and I also liked SIX AMIGOS. Because Half (in "Halftime") wasn't on its own, I never thought of SIXTY MINUTES, even after I finished the puzzle and grokked the theme - I just figured THIRTY MINUTES is what SHOWED at half time (halfway around a watch face). That clue for me was a worse fail than mixing fractions and multiples. I get why it's clued the way it is, but I don't like it.

Also loved the clue for MOON - that's how I finally figured out BRITCOM.

Overall a nice tricky and fun Thursday puzzle.

Happy Thanksgiving. I played Alice's Restaurant while I silved and finished before the song did, so I'm pretty pleased with that. :)

kitshef 10:51 AM  

@Teedmn (and others) - just to be clear, JODECI had five #1 hits on the R&B charts - not on the hot 100 which is what people normally think of when they think #1 song.

Lewis 11:00 AM  

@rex -- Your puzzle was a hoot. As one who doesn't closely follow baseball, I appreciated the gimmes you scattered in the puzzle. I loved the 17x17 grid and two-square answer. Looking up info on the theme subject, I assume that the longest theme answer -- impressively done, by the way -- refers to a baseball record relating to the theme subject. I love the title and how it connects with said longest theme answer.

Now, how about making a puzzle for Fireball?

Nancy 11:02 AM  

@Anon 10:27 -- OMG, I can't believe it. I thought I'd invented that phrase, which I've used very often, but never about a crossword puzzle. No, that's how I like to describe the game of doubles in tennis: Long stretches of boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. (I was always net-shy, especially when I was at the net and my partner's second serve was short and soft and sat up for five minutes to the opposing man's forehand. Needless to say, my great preference and greater prowess was for singles.) But I did think that the phrase was mine. I guess there's nothing new under the sun, or else there's a Universal Mind, or something...

@Teedmn -- I, too, feel great relief that you made the same THREE OAKS mistake I did.

Richard iii 11:13 AM  

“Tis better, sir, to be brief than tedious.”

Nordu I. Kare 11:16 AM  

Many comments here on some other puzzle, Rex's, and no clear statement of the theme, which isn't mentioned in the NYT printed version. Something about numbers? THIRTY, SIX, IX, ONE, also XI down? Whatever. What a mess.

Teedmn 11:19 AM  

@kitshef, thank you for the clarification. Though I still am amazed that JODECI never hit my radar at all.

@Lewis, thank you for your response yesterday. Although you don't keep track of individual letters, your observation about the E/N ratio strengthens my belief about the letter N in yesterday's puzzle.

Stanley Hudson 11:20 AM  

An interesting puzzle that was a tough solve.

@James Marrow, some of us have a difficult time getting past the setting.

Happy thanksgiving all.

Old Fat Bastard 11:29 AM  

@Nordu I. Kare, we see what you did there. Whatever . . .

BocaBoy 11:36 AM  

Tough one for me, especially the NE. Onwards to Friday!

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Great puzzle, Rex. Partway through, I thought "gosh, there are a lot of Ks in this puzzle."

jb129 11:41 AM  

I thought I had it but then I didn't. Had to cheat - that's when I usually give up. Enjoy the holiday.

FrankStein 11:44 AM  

Two SHARP clues today. A nod to Rex and his tetchy self?

Masked and Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Fun ThursTurkPuz. M&A for one is thankful that this wasn't one of them rare {No Use??} puzs. But then again, it did only have {One double-U??}.

staff weeject pick: ALA. Mainly cuz of its great "roll-call" clue. The clues in this puz had some serious 'tude, dude. Honrable mention to {Booker or Tester: Abbr.} = SEN. Also liked VAC's clue a lot … @RP: yep. MAC in the closet was my first bite, also.

fave long-balls: IRESIGN. NOTOK. ACIDY. Didn't know JODECI, but liked learnin new musical things. BRIT-COM. LAW-O-MAN.

Had more trouble than I deserved, figurin out why the THIRTYMINUTES clue fit. I reckon the "halftime" word, all scrunchied together like, confused the M&A. Still … shoulda landed that one sooner.

Thanx full boat, Mr. Barkin.
Thanx full boat, Mr. @RP, for all U do every day. Will get right on that there b-ball puz. Thanx.
Thanx full boat, all U primo Comment Gallery folks.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Just effing stupid today. Maybe I'm just in a bad mood this morning.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Hey, conventions are useful. I get it. And I get that most of the folks on this board understand geography well enough.
I don't want to be zealot about it,
Happy thanksgiving all.

AND Rex, you miserable crank...
THANK YOU for the baseball puzzle. I'm counting the days til Slri g training.

GILL I. 12:01 PM  

One of those puzzles where I have to complete it before I can appreciate it. Such is life.
Lots of DOH moments especially that INCA MOON ON ME corner IMO was impossible for me to figure out. I kept thinking what's an IMO doing viewing an open casket and who gets to have a personal one? That was my first DOH. The second was getting TEA as an after-dinner option because NEVER in my drinking life have I EVER had TEA after dinner. Who drinks TEA after dinner? Coffee and some brandy, please. Third DOH was JORDECI which I had to Google and that made me mad because I'm trying for a Google free week. TAKEI EBERT ISAAK BRUNO CRUE OBAMAS easy peasy...but why JORDECI? AMAS,VENI ETTU JORDECI.
Anyway, I thought this was clever clever even though I DNF.
I'm only in charge of two things this Thanksgiving. My daughters banana cheese cake which I made two days ago and the stuffing. I've been shopping all week and cooking because my in-laws are here for their first American Thanksgiving and I was so sure I had everything I needed for just a stuffing. I forgot to buy the damn Italian sausage. You can't make stuffing without it - end of discussion. So, I hop in the car this early morning and go to Raley's hoping they open at 7 and they do and I buy what looked like the last of the Italian sausage and now I'm happy and have to get back in the kitchen.
Hope everyone has a wonderful, yummy, happy Thanksgiving.

mathgent 12:05 PM  

@TomAz: Thanks for the tip. We found the wishbone but it wouldn't come out for us.

Long stretches of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. We used to use that phrase in the seventies and eighties to describe employment contract negotiations.

Missy 12:13 PM  

Let's not leave out the lovely Joe Barton - now there's a sad case.

jberg 12:26 PM  

I actually had to search for [TWELVE] OAKS twice before I understood it, as the top hit was for the Twelve Oaks Mall outside Novi, Michigan, wherever that is. But it's legit, so I won't complain. The fractions/multiples thing was legit, too -- clearly clued, and it added a nice touch of additional difficulty. As did managing to get a U to follow the square left blank while I waited to see if it would be IRAN or IRAq. Brilliant, if intentional!

Not so good: the punny clue "They follow the nus." Well, if the context is "Please recite the Greek alphabet, saying every letter at least twice."

I was too cheap to buy my own gown when I got my PhD, so when I ended up being a professor the university rented one for me every year. It came with the same square mortarboard as the student gowns, but enough of my colleagues had tams, so I was able to figure it out.

Having the MOON followed byBRUNO Mars wqas neat.

Happy Thanksgiving, all, and thanks for the puzzle, Rex!

SweetCaroline 12:26 PM  

@roo monster: thanks for the info about clock numbers. Who knew?

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

@Morrow - Adolf and Eva have a torrid romance! Let's follow the plot!
Coming soon to fans of GWTW.
Satan and Saddam - oops, South Park already did that one...

Larry Gilstrap 1:22 PM  

Thanks for the attempts at clarifying my layman observations about the MOON. I'm no scientist. My description of it being "close" to the sun is based upon my observing the cosmos from a position on the surface of the earth. Any astronauts or cosmonauts care to add their expertise?

Masked and Anonymous 1:50 PM  


@RP: Real nice bonus puz! I was able to keep all my candied yams down. Are U eventually gonna have one of them levitatin spoiler Kitty blog entries, so we can comment on yer magnum opuz, without bein spoil-sports? [Also, M&A did have one guess on a crosser, so an answer grid would be a good thing for clearin that up.]

Thanx again!


Anonymous 2:12 PM  

Hey Shortz, instead of food, football and big balloons I get Michael Jackson, smallpox and pronoun division? Can't wait for your Xmas selection. Hope you get a bad oyster in your dressing. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone else.

clk 2:14 PM  

This was the least enjoyable puzzle I’ve done in ages. The NE was just awful. I don’t think I would ever have come up with JODECI, no matter how long I worked at that corner. I even tried googling and still didn’t get it. TAM was ridiculous as clued. I never wore one, nor did any of my fellow graduates. ACIDY doesn’t even seem like a word. How is it different from acidic?

OTOH, I got the theme with THREEOAKS. I remember Twelve Oaks well, though I haven’t seen the movie in decades. I didn’t really like the mixture of fractions and multiples, but I figured it out. BRITCOM and NHL slipped right in.

I’ve been burned by DUH/DOH before. It seems like all the ones that seem like DOHs to me end up being DUHs so that took me a long time.

xyz 2:54 PM  

Inconsistency led to awkwardness and difficulty which was really not too pleasurable. Huge parts of the puzzle very easy and the hard parts were very very dense, or maybe I am.

Happy Thanksgiving,Y'all. I guess we'll have a Turkey twice today.

Churlish Nabob 3:05 PM  

OMG, the vapidity.

Kurtz Brando 3:07 PM  

*strained whisper* the horror, the horror!

Fey Fop 3:09 PM  

I’m prancing!

jae 3:49 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 3:53 PM  

@kitshef - My experience in the JODECI, TAM, ACIDY area was very similar to yours.

Carola 3:55 PM  

OMG did I find this hard - and loved it when I figured it out, at 12/4 = THREE OAKS.
One of these years I'll remember L.A. WOMAN and not struggle with LAW O' MAN.

Happy Thanksgiving to all commenting AMIGOS and thank you,@Rex, for the daily pleasure of coming here.

Anonymous 5:30 PM  

Feigned outrage is best left to Rex and then ignored. That said, a Thanksgiving theme on Thanksgiving Day would be welcomed.

Unknown 8:36 PM  

Great bonus puzzle, Rex. At least two major editing errors in the clues (19 Across & 39 Across) but I'm very thankful.

Hungry Mother 9:20 PM  

I purchased my own academic costume when I recieved my Ph.D., but still ended up with a lousy mortar board. I never knew that I could have worn a tam instead. I thought it depended on the university that bestowed the degree. I’m a retired professor now so I don’t need to wear the cap, gown, and cape anymore, but I still have them in a closet.

Mona 9:55 PM  

This was a struggle for me because I couldn't get past the fourth estate. All I could think of was the press or the media, something I was a proud member of for nearly 30 years.
And I'm terrible at math.

semioticus (shelbyl) 1:26 AM  

Not bad, not great.

Fill: Eh. It wasn't "I want to gouge my eyes out" bad, but it was not fresh at all. I get how there were a lot of constraints imposed by the theme/grid, but it could have at least thrown some interesting stuff at us instead of, say JODECI. 11/25

Theme/long answers: Not my cup of tea. I get the idea, I get the effort so I'm not going to tarnish it, but as it has been mentioned in other reviews, the "Fourth" and "Fifth" transition didn't stick. It wasn't a stale theme so it is not necessarily below average, but it is just that. 13/25

Clues: Nothing too fancy, but I'd rather have this than a set of clues trying too hard to be funny/smart on a Thursday. 17/25

Pleaasurability: When I figured out the theme I got an "aha" moment. But then the aforementioned fourth and fifth clues took away from that. Combine this with a meh fill, and it becomes a very average puzzle. At least it was easy, which didn't turn trying to finish it into torture. The roughest patch was the NE region. 15/25.

TOTAL: 56/100, C+, 3/5 stars.

Girish 4:02 AM  

@Rex Parker Whar a terrific puzzle for dessert at Thanksgiving although the vowel crossing of Spider-man foe and comic book sound caused a one-square DNF. Thanks so much for the ten years of great memories, amusement, and encouragement. I also very much appreciate the way you encourage the next generation. I'm tempted to send you my Roger Maris baseball card in support of your blog next year should you choose to continue. He hit a few dingers that year. We won the pennant that year in Little League, too. ��

Girish 4:05 AM  

Of course, this has nothing to do with crosswords
(my apologies in advance,) but what's The Donald's favorite cartoon character? Tweetie Bird .

Z 8:29 AM  

@Evil - Based on my reading of the men’s character, I’d guess Al. Conyers (who has been my rep), while very different from Donnie politically, strikes me as all too similar in many other ways. The funny thing is that his district is so gerrymandered that there’s no hope of it ever going Republican, so he’ll have to be primaried to get him out.

potential spoiler alert
@kitshef - It would require changing the Spider-man clue. And did I say “better?” “Sophomoricer” would be more accurate.

@Anon - I don’t think anyone thought of you as engaging in zealotry. Your suggestion may even be technically more accurate. Just don’t get your hopes up.

pdplot 9:45 AM  

Acidy is coming very close to deerlot - a word I made up in Scrabble. It means a place where deer congregate. My wife and kids vetoed it. I swear some of today's crossword clues and in that genre.

spacecraft 10:10 AM  

Roared through the NW and N and thought, this is a Thursday??

One hour later: Oooh yeah, at LEAST. More like Saturday. In fact I fell on the same sword as @teedm did: mImE. This is a classic double-Natick. MAC and VAC are equally legit closet items, while mImE and JIVE are both "phony" talk, in a sense. Certainly in no more obscure of a sense than many other clues here. That brings us to square 10, which clearly must provide a preference for J over M. It does not for the great majority of us. I cry NOTOK.

It was interesting working out the themers; at the start I thought it was all about the film industry (WRAP, MOVIE, RESHOOT, EBERT). But some more NOTOK fill plus the NE debacle makes this an epic fail. RANAT: this I've seen before--and once was too often. Nobody actually SAYS "RANAT," which makes it an uber-awkward partial. I'm no fighter, but if you simply "run at" me you're gonna be getting up off the floor and asking "Wha hoppen?" HEA, even as a lyric from the genius of Paul Simon, is another OMG partial. Shoulda been torn up and RESHO(O)T. Let's put the DOD sash on the superbly talented MERYL today. No score for a DNF, but at least a bogey, I would think.

thefogman 12:06 PM  

I finished but not without a struggle. JODECI is not on my radar at all so the NE corner was a nasty one. I didn't like BRITCOM which held me up for quite a while since I had BRITish before I finally made the switch. Plenty of other misdirects made the task of completing an arduous one with very few fun moments.

Burma Shave 12:21 PM  


That POOR L.A.WOMAN could be SOKIND,
an ARTISTE who’ll RESHOOT ORALs within limits,


Diana, LIW 1:26 PM  

very, very clever Th puz. Lots of fun this week so far.

One-letter dnf - didn't clearly suss the theme, and didn't know what follows nus, so the X was elusive. Poor Richard.

Loved the answer THEJACKSONONE.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 3:32 PM  

Switching from multiplication to division was a bit sneaky, and throwing in "Uno" for the 19A clue (answer: DECK) added a bit more confusion, which made the NE corner tougher.

Didn't get the XIS in its crossing with RICHARD, but got THREEOAKS without realizing that "fourth" was a multiplier.

All in all, clever and on the challenging side of medium, but a rather messy and irritating dnf.

rondo 6:01 PM  

I had minor issues with ESE/iSm/ESE and pIS before XIS. The pis do follow the nus, just further down the list than the XIS. Took a while to get the gimmick and THREEOAKS fell in there without my knowing what it was.

Back in the day I had L.A.WOMAN on both 8-track STEREO and vinyl. The 8-track STEREO player eventually ATE the tape, even with that matchbook holding it firmly in place. NOTOK.

Vaguely remember the name JODECI and couldn’t pick a BRUNO Mars tune out of a lineup. Chris ISAAK and Motley CRUE I could. So, just as much music in this puz as film stuff.

I guess MERYL gets the yeah baby by default.

Oddly interesting puz, at least that’s the TAKEI have.

Anonymous 6:54 PM  

Britcom was one of the toughest. And yes the numerical theme was not used in a consistent manner. Still not a bad puzzle. Solved it without hints or errors.


Diana, LIW 7:09 PM  

@Rondo - I, too, had an 8-track - why did they all need a matchbook or other shim to keep it from adding its own "drumbeat." And I meant to mention - thanks for yesterday's korsordslexikon - had no idea where to find one.

Lady Di

Barry J. Williams 1:16 PM  

Complete surprise that OFL actually liked this puzzle! One of my favorite games upon completion is to try and predict exactly what Rex will think about it. I was waaaaaaaaaaay off on this one!

The theme is an absolute train wreck--one of the most obtuse and indecipherable I have come across in a long time.

THE OFFICE is undoubtedly BRITISH while BRITCOM appears to a made-up term, and thus ineligible.

The only plays that come closes to 5 acts are Shakespeare's and those are so 450 years ago. And unless you are a true thespian, you would have no way of knowing that.

THREEOAKS is a riddle wrapped in an enigma and is a far reach even for them.

ACIDY and ACRID, both plays on "sharp" seems redundant somehow for one puzzle.

In doing this puzzle over 3 years from its original publish date, METOO, of course, becomes anything but ASAMI lol.

The themer is total buzzkill and Naticked me from the jump.

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