1961 Literature Nobelist Andric / THU 12-7-17 / Express train from Delhi to Agra / Occurrences during half moons / Perpetual period in Narnia

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Constructor: Dan Schoenholz

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: GOLLY GEE! — theme answers are phrases where last word is a homophone of the first letter of the first word. The "note" tells you to look for an "exclamation" that fits the theme pattern:

That exclamation is "GOLLY GEE!"

Theme answers:
  • JOHN JAY (17A: *First Supreme Court chief justice)
  • CHINA SEA (21A: *It's west of Okinawa)
  • BUSY BEE (35A: *Sort with a full schedule)
  • TEXAS TEA (48A: *Oil, jocularly)
  • UP TO YOU (51A: *"I don't care either way")
Word of the Day: IVO Andric (15A: 1961 Literature Nobelist Andric) —
Ivo Andrić (Serbian Cyrillic: Иво Андрић, pronounced [ǐːʋɔ ǎːndritɕ]; born Ivan Andrić; 9 October 1892 – 13 March 1975) was a Yugoslav novelist, poet and short story writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1961. His writings dealt mainly with life in his native Bosnia under Ottoman rule. (wikipedia)
• • •

Though I resent being told to do stupid pet tricks upon completion of the puzzle (if I get the Happy Pencil, I am done, peace out, good night), I still thought this was pretty cute. Simple idea, with a ... well, not a "revealer," exactly, but a kind of a punchline, I suppose. I didn't pay attention to the starred clues at all while I was solving, so it felt very much like a themeless. I had a horrible time getting started, as AMO was the only answer I got on my first pass through the NW. Then I went with AVERT at 9D: Circumvent (AVOID). That was rough. I don't really know the term LOSS LEADERS that well, so that answer took forever to come together. K STATE (which I *do* know), also rough. Oh, and I stupidly (and repeatedly) misread 10D: Hypothetical settlement as "Hypothetical statement" (perhaps because my way is a pretty common phrase and the clue's way is nuts). I don't know the term "Bluejacket"—I now assume it means "sailor" (i.e. TAR). Blargh. But then the whole west and south came together very quickly, so despite the deathly start, I ended up with a pretty average time.

NEAPS? Like ... the tides? The plural there is so rough. Also, the TAJ Express, yikes, no idea. I knew 1A: 1, for 45º (TANGENT) was gonna be one of them sine secant cosecant etc things, but I didn't know which (trig was a long time ago for me). So, yeah, the NW brutalized me to start. Oh, and again with the ORG. chart. I think you need to be more BIZ-nessy to enjoy this puzzle, what with its ORG charts and LOSS LEADERS and what not. Why would you clue TRIPLE AXELS in a way that focuses on women *not* attempting them?! Bizarre. Puzzle already light (like, very very light) on women or woman-oriented content, why use a non-gendered answer to highlight gender division in this negative way? I really don't like how the grid is so radically segmented, with the NW and SE corners offering no connection with rest of grid except all the way toward the center. East and west of puzzle are just walled off from one another at top and bottom of grid. Makes for a kind of icky solving experience. But as I say, the theme is cute and the (apt) exclamation (indicated by the note) was easy enough to work out. So I FEEL OK about it all. On to the next.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


okanaganer 12:29 AM  

"Bluejacket" = COP, surely? You know, NYPD Blue, The Thin Blue Line, etc.

"Hypothetical settlement": PLEA DEAL.

57A should have been clued as, say "Pole dancers, often"

Questinia 12:34 AM  

NOW! I know what LOSS LEADER means.
Feeling like an adult.

You Are, Why? 12:36 AM  

"if I get the Happy Pencil, I am done, peace out, good night"


Geo 12:38 AM  

Geography nerd here. "China Sea" is not inaccurate, but no one really uses it without also designating "East" or "South". So when I got "China Sea" (when "East China Sea" would be most accurate) in the eastern part of the grid, I thought I had found the trick...

Marty Van B 12:40 AM  

Pretty easy grid and it took very little time to suss out the 2nd word first letter connection. "Golly gee" is not in my or anyone I know daily use. It makes me think of Dennis the Menace elated at getting a shiny nickel to buy candy at the soda shop or something.

The layout is a bit strange: like a floor plan of a Central Market or Ikea that only offers one path through, but I'll happily take this over yesterday's that has hyper-segment corners with but one entry and egress. Come to think of it, yesterday's puzzle was basically the poster child of "never ever do any of this again".

Greg Charles 1:04 AM  

Eight seconds off my best ever Thursday time, and I wasted 15 reading the information box. Never read the information box!

Mr. Fitch 2:19 AM  

Easy puzzle, but I couldn’t give a FLYING EFF about the theme.

jae 2:36 AM  

When I arrived at Navy boot camp at Great Lakes, Il. in 1965 one of the first things I was handed was "The Bluejackets Manual" (which actually had a blue jacket). It contained every thing you needed to know about being a sailor. So, TAR was a gimme.

Anonymous 2:52 AM  

Golly Gee may be in remembrance of Jim Nabors who passed away the other day. I never watched Gomer Pyle, but it sounds like something he would say.

tkincher 3:25 AM  

I did not know the definition for SOP as clued here, I don’t think I’ve ever heard it used that way.

Loren Muse Smith 4:04 AM  

Man oh man oh man. Be still my beating heart. How can y’all be so ho-hum about this discovery? This little trick thrills me. Thrills me. The aha moment was delicious. I used the trick to figure out the Supreme Court justice.

I loved this. The little note didn’t offend me or make me feel like a dog performing a trick. It felt playful and challenging. In addition to GOLLY GEE, people are already coming up with their own here: YOU ARE, WHY? (I was thinking You’ll never know why) FLYING EFF

How ‘bout

NO ROOM AT THE INN (Yeah – works in my drawl)

Or, OR…. IN A PIG’S EYE. There. Satisfied.

Gotta go do some standardized testing.

Dan. You da man. Your middle name Dundee by any chance?

Charles Flaster 4:27 AM  

Enjoyed this one but “note” not needed.
Only writeover was openED for RINSED.
Thanks DS

Anonymous 4:29 AM  

Is it just me or the Mini puzzle today had an error??? “Cents” is not in ABC order.

Anonymous 4:46 AM  

@LMS knew you would like it,

mathgent 5:18 AM  

When I was a senior at St. Ignatius high school in San Francisco in 1952, I went to the All-City track meet at Kezar Stadium to root for our team. That afternoon, another senior, who grew up eleven blocks from me but went to public school, broke the high-jump record. He cleared the bar at 6'0". Johnny MATHIS.

I can't remember doing a puzzle with so many Terrible Threes. Thirty of the little pests, including EEK, DEP, IVO, AMO, and NTH (clued in a strange way).

I recently read The Quartet, an excellent book by Joseph Ellis. It is about the four men Ellis believes were most responsible for winning the approval of The Constitution. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and JOHNJAY.

The theme wasn't strong enough to lift the mediocre cluing and bland choice of entries. A Thursday disappointment.

Anonymous 6:01 AM  

I just don't get why you'd clue Triple Axels like that. It's super weird to me to write any clue along the lines of "men are better at this than women" and not immediately realize there's probably a better way to do this.

Lewis 6:10 AM  

I didn't need the theme for the solve, but enjoyed the post puzzle puzzle, which brought a nice aha. I'm usually looking for interesting things in the grid after I solve anyway, like cool crosses. The cluing was direct (clue for ALTAR was an exception), and I would have liked more clever wordplay-ish clues, which I've come to expect and relish at the end of the week. There is a mini-theme of double EE's (5), and a couple of words that begin with spelled-out letters: ENJOIN and PEELERS.

Another option would have been to have GOLLY GEE in the puzzle itself and have no note. But as it was, with its very clever and original theme, and some bite, I had a grand old time with this. Thank you Dan!

Anonymous 6:11 AM  

I'm kind of too busy looking for gender injustices to learn economics. Is that why I'm not independently wealthy?

Forsythia 6:29 AM  

LOSS LEADERS was a gimme for me. As a comparison shopper for grocery sales, those are low low price specials each week. Often sold at a "loss" to "lead" people to come to that store. Usually on the end cap of each aisle.

I used the term yesterday talking about Sam's Club pricing compared to other groceries and said that Sam's prices are not aa good as the LOSS LEADERS at other groceries. When I am buying quantities of food to serve for 325 children at the Boys and Girls Club, I pay close attention to costs! Feed the Kids in Hendersonville NC serves a hot dinner every Friday so kids go home for the weekend well fed. Our aim is $1.80 per meal.

As a UK (Ky not the country) fan, I knew the KSTATE since wildcats tend to know other wildcats.

kitshef 7:22 AM  

Golly gee, this was easy. It’s like I was able to see everything with my inner eye. Y'know why?

Seriously, possibly my fastest Thursday ever, but very enjoyable with some great words (TANGENT, TRIPLE AXELS, MOONBASE, GONDOLA). Missing a Q for a pangram.

DEP and DER in same row wasn’t great. MASTS/APPIA/SNIT/TIP would get rid of DEP and the awkward INIT.

Anonymous 7:26 AM  

Anyone else get their news from Yahoo?

Hungry Mother 7:27 AM  

Also misread “settlement”, and never saw it correctly. Even so, I finished the puzzle in well below my average time. I also never got the theme, even though I got JOHNJAY and TEXASTEA right away. I looked for two words with the same first letter. In spite of my Ph.D. degree, HIGHER learning escaped me for a long time. Feeling mildly stupid.

Sue 7:32 AM  

No problem with tar or loss leader but i’ve Never heard neap used as a noun. Who would just say neap instead of neap tide?

Norm 7:43 AM  

Anonymous@2:52 : I like your Gomer Pyle thought. Pretty sure he said "golly, gee" a lot.

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

>mathgent... go cats get 'em cats go get 'em cats...
SFHS '66 ( beat the bells... )

Anonymous 7:56 AM  

What time does Stuart Smalley resign today? Hope it's during The View.

chefbea 8:02 AM  

Too tough for me!!! Did not get the theme at all . But I did get busy BEE!!! Will read the posts later

Glimmerglass 8:03 AM  

Grocery stores are now in the middle of LOSS LEADER season. A turkey at 39 cents/pound is probable less than it costs a farmer to raise it. The store wants to sell you everything else for the big family dinner.

Jim Nabors 8:07 AM  

I said By Golly or Oh Golly ! Sans Gee.

Gomer 8:19 AM  


evil doug 8:22 AM  

"Citizen's arr-AY-est! Citizen's arr-AY-est!"

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

NEAP tides occur after the 1st and 3rd quarters of moons not half moons.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

I have an idea. Franken can resign on The View, Trump can resign on Fox And Friends and Roy Moore can withdraw from the Senate race on the Jimmy Swaggart show all on the same day. That way we can help keep the right leaning folks from sounding so hypocritical about Franken.

GHarris 8:46 AM  

Undone in the NE. Had fouls up and that totally fouled me up. Never heard of taurine and assumed model settlement meant resolution of a dispute rather than a place.Never got the theme until I came here. Otherwise challenging and fun.

QuasiMojo 9:06 AM  

Love Jim Nabors.

I liked Loss Leaders (they had a lot of them on cyber Monday) and Moon Base. Gondola, Enjoin and Goofs Up. Did not like A DUEL and Late Fee (weirdly clued.)


But I think this puzzle would have been much stronger and tighter if the final themer had also been a two-word phrase instead of three. UNTO YOU might have worked better and fit nicely with the upcoming Christmas holiday.

Mohair Sam 9:16 AM  

Yeah - this was the rare "note" puzzle with a payoff. We're normally like Rex, once the last square is filled we're puzzed out. But this filled quickly so we took a little while after finishing and finally got the aha moment. Great stuff.

Tinkering with a puzzle that has "slam dunk" in it - I think I know how to rewrite the clue to please Will. Beyond the partridge that "12 Days" song escapes me, fear those clues every time. JOHNJAY one of those memory bubbles floating loose that you don't know why. On the other hand we had fits with the ubiquitous REDBULL.

Fun Thursday Dan Schoenholz.

Hartley70 9:17 AM  

This wasn't quite tricky enough for a Thursday, but it was a very satisfying solve. I didn't see the theme until it was completed and I don't read notes (since I have to seek them out on an iPhone) so I solved as a themeless. I had never heard of TEXASTEA, BUM out, IVO, MATHIS' duet, the whole TANGENT thing because I stopped at Algebra II, taurine, Bluejackets, The Wildcats, LEVIS Stadium, and I've never read the Narnia books. ALTAR was my last entry because I couldn't get out of the courtroom. I love it when I start out with this much ignorance and see the puzzle come together in near record time.

When I finally got to consider the theme, I thought it modest but delightfully clever.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Re the clueing of "triple axel"—I just read a story yesterday about the new movie about Tanya Harding, and actress Margot Robbie mentioned that they had to use CGI rather than stunt doubles to execute the triple axel, as only a couple women in the world could do it, and they weren’t physical matches for Harding. Doesn’t really explain the clueing though, since I assume the puzzle was written before that article was available, but maybe?

newspaperguy 9:22 AM  

Jim Nabors said golly a lot, often using three or four syllables in doing so. Not sure he said golly gee.

Jed Clampett 9:25 AM  

You don't remember Texas Tea?

Austenlover 9:26 AM  

I just finished Cokie Roberts’ Founding Mothers, so John Jay was the first answer I entered. His wife, Sally Livingston Jay, was featured in the book.

Sorry, LMS, “no room at the inn” doesn’t work for my non-drawl. But I love “in a pig’s eye.”

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

To me "John Jay" is always going to be the "John Jay ski movies" of ca. 1955-70. He perhaps the first to figure out how to film well while skiing. I would shut my eyes and think of the film "Persian Powder," which had him atop an Iranian mountain never before skied. I would then open my eyes and see the ugly stares of my American history teacher (ca. 1965) and even uglier stares of a clock chasing my exam to its conclusion, as I tried to remember the terms of the treaty John Jay negotiated with the British ca. 1795. I think of both whenever I see John Jay, the baseball player. I never actually got on the slopes, which I regret to this day.
Anon. i.e. Poggius

Roo Monster 9:35 AM  

Hey All !
Only one GOOFS UP for me today, awesome for a ThursPuz for me. SALute-SALAAM. The three rhyming themers threw me off to the "unusual property" of the theme. Didn't figure out the First Letter Second Word Sounder thingamabob. :-( Oh well.

Puz was mostly easy, for Thursday. Did want TRIPLE lutzs for AXELS first, but didn't write it in, as I believe it's lutzes anyway. Maybe? But was quite sure of GIL, as GIZ would really be a bad name! ;-)

Agree with @Lewis on the high three count. 30 of the little buggers. Bet it makes @M&A happy, though. Too bad ASS and EEK weren't switched, then that line would've read - EEK! ASS IN RANGE. Har.

Everytime I see Wildcats, I always think of the movie Speed, but that was the Arizona team, INnIT? :-)


Anonymous 9:37 AM  

Franken announcement 11:45 am.

Z 9:41 AM  

This puzzle had me remembering @Lewis' post puzzle puzzlers. @LMS' post reminded me that they went away because people actually complained to Rex about them. Infuckingcredible.

Which reminds me of the whole cursing thing. Which is worse, "Golly Gee" (short for "Jesus") or a good old anglo-saxon "fuck?" I'm pretty sure Gomer Pyle never said either because to some WASP ears they were equally bad.

I was slowed by wanting the first important Chief Justice, JOHN Marshall, and forgetting that TANGENT was "one of them sine secant cosecant etc things." As a result, it wasn't until Pop Culture Icon Johnny MATHIS appeared that I really got going, solving California, then through the not so great plains with the plethora of threes before getting to K(ansas)STATE, then back down the southern Atlantic coast, back up to New England, before finally finishing in the NW.

Basically solved as a themeless for me, and I agree with Rex that the segmentation hurts the overall enjoyment of the solve, especially since we get 8 three letter answers gumming up the middle. Thankfully, they weren't esey threes. If they had been all ENO/ONO/ERN/RRN/RCD answers I might have just put the puzzle down. Nice clues on KEN and TAR helped, too.

@Anon8:45 - I like the way you think. Parties are just groups of people and any group of people is going to have a share of scum. My one disappointment yesterday is that the 13 Senators did not demand that the Sexual Predator in Chief also resign.

@Forsythia - Thank you.

Rube 9:42 AM  

Why is it golly gee and not glory bee??

Rube 9:44 AM  

I guess it would be glory be signed Frances Bavier

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

That women are not as physically strong as men is not a “negative;” it just IS. No big deal, nothing we haven’t all known since we were a few years old. But I suppose that’s a defining characteristic of liberals: the hatred of true diversity in humans in favor of some bizarre lie about equality

thursdaysd 9:48 AM  

Seemed like a waste of a Thursday, and with Golly Gee as the payoff? Which century are we in? Never heard of TEXASTEA and only vaguely aware of JOHNJAY (educated in England) but easily gettable from crosses.

Surprised that Rex had trouble with TAJ. Don't we all know, at least from crosswords, that you go to Agra to see the Taj? (I've been, believe me, you don't go to see the town itself.) Admittedly there are a number of other named express trains between the two cities and a couple are faster, but with a three letter answer why would you not immediately think Taj?

Nancy 9:54 AM  

Oh, great. The puzzle itself was so ridiculously easy for a Thursday that I felt keen disappointment. Then came the "unusual property of the starred answers" meta which was exactly the opposite. I didn't get it. I thought it couldn't just be the repeating sounds of the answers, could it? It wasn't.

I probably wouldn't have gotten the meta anyway, but having CHItASEr at 21A didn't help. It wasn't anything like the other starred answers, and besides, it didn't seem to be a Thing. This is because I had MOOt BASE at 10D ("hypothetical" things are MOOT, right?) and I had Hip Hop's Salt-N-PEPr at 13D. (Sounds right to me.) Anyway I was thinking of an expression of 5,3 letters that just repeated the consonant, and all I could come up with was Great God. Which people say sometimes, I suppose, but not often. So though the puzzle was too easy, the meta was, for me, impossible. I agree with @Loren, though -- it's rather a neat trick when you think about it. Wish I'd enjoyed the actual solve [or almost solve] more.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Am I delusional in believing that Trump will be impeached?

Stanley Hudson 10:13 AM  

@Poggius, 9:30 AM, i recall a baseball player named Joey Jay, not JOHN JAY. But it may be that I’m misremembering.

An enjoyable Thursday puzzle. And now, to grading papers.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Trump may be impeached if the Democrats retake the House in 2018 but they’ll need 67 Senators to convict. Ain’t gonna happen.

Sir Hillary 10:29 AM  

Do you think I liked this puzzle? RIGHT YOU ARE!

Short fill was lousy, topped by the truly awful ADUEL, but overall this was a winner.

LOSSLEADERS is a good band from the Hudson Valley.

Anyone else have CoralSEA at first? My geography failed me on that one.

Stuff no one cares about:
-- I live less than a mile from JOHNJAY's old estate, so I see his name just about every day.
-- KSTATE's football coach, Bill Snyder, was the head coach at my high school in the early 1970s. Well before I was there.

GILL I. 10:36 AM  

GOLLY GEE? That's it? Really?
I was loving this puzzle, really loving it. It had my idol, (whom I wanted to marry) MATHIS...Chances are. It had all kinds of fun words. It had me looking up how many women completed the TRIPLE AXELS (9). Midori Ito, our crossword friend, was the first. I believe whack job was the second. It had me going to my huge 40lb Reader's Digest Great World Atlas to see what SEA was west of Okinawa. It showed South CHINA SEA and since that didn't fit, like an idiot I wrote in Coral. My bad.
I was just humming along and couldn't wait to figure out the gimmick.
So...I wrote all the theme answers out all in a row (just like a good girl). That didn't give me nada. So I highlighted them with my trusty Sharpie Accent yellow pen hoping a light bulb would go off. I stared at them for maybe a coffee cup worth, still nada. Finally saw the darn homophones. AHA says I. But for the damnedest life of me I COULD NOT GET GOLLY GEE. Not even Gomer says that. I felt let down even though I knew that god-awful stuff RED BULL.
I don't understand the complaint for the 24D clue, @Rex. Women, in fact, rarely attempt the jump because it takes a ton of muscles and a lot of brawn that is generally associated with the male makeup. Even so, many men can't even muster the strength to pull it off. So kudos to the women who have accomplished this.
Good Thursday Dan S. I thought this was a fun riddle. Too bad I missed the theme.... at least I knew LOSS LEADERS.

Sir Hillary 10:53 AM  

Typo -- LOSTLEADERS is the band. As if anyone but me cares!

Nancy 10:57 AM  

Yay, @GILL (10:36). You said what I was about to say, as, in your perspicacious way, you so often do :) TRIPLE AXELS in women's figure skating are a statistic, not an ideology, Rex. They either are performed a lot, performed very seldom, or performed somewhere in between. GILL took the trouble to look it up. The clue is correct. I'm a woman, Rex, and I'm not in the least bit offended. Please don't be offended on my behalf, OK? I hate when people are offended on behalf of other people, I really do. It's patronizing, that's what it is. Among other things.

This reminds me of a conversation I had years ago with a non-tennis-playing, book publishing friend of mine. I was explaining that if a man played singles against a woman and both were, say, exactly at the level of 4.2, the man would win 100% of the time and usually by a lopsided score. And that for the match to really be competitive, the woman would have to be higher-rated as a player than the man. Maybe she's a 4.4 and he's a 4.2, say. My friend looked at me as though I had two heads and said: "I'm shocked at you, Nancy. I thought you were liberated!" To which I said: "I am liberated. But I'm also a tennis player. And ideology doesn't win tennis matches. Power and speed win tennis matches and men generally have more of both." And it's the same thing with figure skating.

old timer 10:59 AM  

If you have watched Winter Olympics skating you know that the women are better than the men at wowing the audience and attracting viewers. Thus it seems unusual that there is one feat the best men can do, that only a handful of women can. I certainly did not think there was anything sexist or wrong with the clue.

MOONBASE was the most difficult of the long Downs for me. The rest of the puzzle was pretty Easy,

Masked and Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Neat theme idea. It might be a little too non-tricky for a ThursPuz, tho. Maybe that's why the note's extra challenge metapuz was added on. fave themer: UPTOYOU.

Low theme-letter count (=37?), so not as much desperation as one might hope. DEP/DER and ADUEL are pretty nice. Fillins are generally solid, tho, with MOONBASE bein a fave long-ball.

staff weeject pick: TIS. Let the Christmas clue fixes begin!

Back to the meta. Forgot to think about it, before comin to here, sooo … GOLLY GEE was revealed to m&e by the pretty-good-for-no-bullets blog write-up. I probably woulda gone with OHOHOH, if it hadn't been for the 5-3 word weight restrictions. How'bout OOOOH OOH?

Thanx, Constructor Dan. The kinda theme that makes U wanna dream up extra themers (yo, @muse, et al). ZUIDER ZEE? KINDA OKAY? DANDY CANDY? OOOOH OOH man, do I ever suck, at this …

Masked & Anonymo6Us


QuasiMojo 11:14 AM  

It's harder than I thought to come up with phrases that would work with this theme. Here are a few that are not in common usage:

Churchill trademark: Victory Vee

Complaints Line: Quibbles Queue

Delicacy for a dieting vegan: Pickled Pea

Indexed Bandleader: Kyser, Kay

Cockney query: "'ow much I owe?"

Reply to regular Rex blogger? "Zany "Z"!"

See what I mean? lol

evil doug 11:17 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 11:26 AM  

"If you have watched Winter Olympics skating you know that the women are better than the men at wowing the audience and attracting viewers. Thus it seems unusual that there is one feat the best men can do, that only a handful of women can."

The one thing women skaters can do better than men is look hot in a tight sequined body-stocking, old timer. I still kind of have a thing for Peggy Fleming....

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

I noticed that first-letter/last-word thing withCHINA SEA, but then I forgot the first letter part, so I was going to come here and remark "GOLLY GEE, GOTTA PEE." Fortunately, Rex explained it again. I still thought the K in K-STATE would have been better omitted as too close to the theme, but that's a matter of taste, I think.

Thank you, @Z! I was afraid I was the only one to put in "Marshal' before JOHN JAY, even though that ruined obvious crosses like TAJ Express and GUNSHOT.

On further thought, letters as words (K-STATE, AM TUNER, FEEL OK) don't really impinge on the words as letters theme, so I'll withdraw that.

What I learned today: RED BULL has taurine in it. No I'll go look up what that is.

jb129 11:41 AM  

Once I saw the "Note" at the top I knew I wouldn't enjoy it - & I didn't.

GILL I. 12:10 PM  

Oh, I don't know @ED. Have you ever seen flamboyant, feathers, glitter and frills hot tight sequined Johnny Weir?

Ricky Recruit 12:13 PM  

Just like @jae, I too am an alumnus of the boot camp at Great Lakes, IL, and I still have my Bluejackets Manual around here somewhere.

Although the term "boot camp" is used as generic slang for basic training programs of all kinds, Great Lakes is the only true "boot camp" as that's where the term originated during The World War and was reinforced during its sequel World War II. American involvement in that conflict began on December 7, 1941, with the Japanese sneak attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, a date which shall live in infamy.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Did you ever meet a person who was genuinely funny that wasn't also very smart? Anyone ever think Al Franken was funny?

Anoa Bob 12:26 PM  

"Well gah-ah-lee", agree with @Two Ponies that the note sounded like it was from a Will Shortz Sunday Puzzle installment on NPR's Weekend Edition.

I had heard the term "Blue Jacket" (clue for 27A TAR) from my father who was in the Navy in WWII, but when I went to boot camp in 1964---ahoy @jae---I never heard the term used. We did get a copy of the Manual, but as I recall, dimly through the mists of time, it seemed a bit antiquated. Uncle Google tells me it's still in publication, so maybe they got around to updating it.

About the only place I've seen TAR used to mean sailor is in crossword puzzles. I think it goes back to the days of wooden ships when TAR was used extensively to caulk spaces between planks and to protect ropes and lines from the elements.

I caught my first ship out of boot camp in Subic Bay, Philippines. We sailed from there across the South CHINA SEA (21A) on our way to the Tonkin Gulf. So I agree with Geo @12:38 a.m., and Google confirms, that it's either South or East. The first CHINA SEA entry, sans directional modifier, is for a restaurant.

And, yes, I did notice that both long downs, TRIPLE AXEL & LOSS LEADER needed POC assists to fill their slots.

Charley 12:47 PM  

The Wildcats are the University of Kentucky. Kentucky State is a different school.

Anoa Bob 12:51 PM  

I'm usually a one-and-done guy (just ask my first wife) but along with tens of thousands of other recruits, I went to boot camp at the Naval Training Center San Diego, so I must take issue with @Ricky Recruit's statement that the "Great Lakes is the only true 'Boot Camp'". The NTCSD was in operation from the 1920s to the 1990s.

JC66 12:55 PM  


Google tells me that K(ansas) State are also the Wildcats.

And I like this song better


Anonymous 12:58 PM  

Okay, according to you, a defining characteristic of liberals is hatred of true diversity in humans in favor of some bizarre lie about equality. Apparently, you come to this conclusion based on Rex's comment even though virtually all of the liberals you hate on this blog went out of their way to take issue with that comment.

It is amazing to me that you are able to draw sweeping conclusions about the belief system of a group of people based on what one member of that group writes.

Using that logic, every conservative must agree with the positions of Roy Moore to include women should not be elected to political office, homosexuality should be illegal, people should be free to ignore what the U.S. Supreme Court orders them to do and so on. And, in fact, Moore has the support of virtually every conservative, religious or otherwise in D.C. Ergo, every conservative believes in those principles, right?

GILL I. 12:59 PM  

P.S. @Nancy: I love the word "perspicacious."
My Dad, while attending the University of California Santa Barbara on his GI Bill, had to keep the family eating (and drinking). He had several part-time jobs but his favorite was the milk deliverer. On the side of his beat up truck, there was a huge sign that said "BE PERSPICACIOUS...DRINK MILK." He was proud of that job!

Chip Hilton 1:04 PM  

Way too easy for a Thursday. Clues felt Tuesday-like. Cute, but not enough of a struggle.

A bit surprising that UPTOYOU had 3 words while the other 4 starred answers all had 2. Kind of ruined the symmetry for me.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

To Stanley Hudson, 10:13 a.m.:

My error on John Jay, the baseball player. I was thinking of Jon Jay and simply did not know how to spell his name. He's currently with the Cubs and earlier with Cardinals and elsewhere. My impression (listening to Cards game, whence the spelling error) was that he had so-so statistics but a talent for the timely hit, and for getting hit by pitches, especially when "needed." Cubs today I think esteem him for this, and now perhaps better statistics, and for being a good fielder and team player.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Trombone Tom 1:11 PM  

About medium for Thursday, but I was slowed down by not knowing IVO and having Coral before CHINA. (Hi, @Gill I!)

Liked this clever and unusual theme. But I completely blanked on the meta answer, so I guess a quasi-dnf.

Teedmn 1:15 PM  

I decided to play the note's guessing game challenge post-solve. I ended up in my margin with:

I____ AYE
L____ ELL
P____ PEA
Y____ WHY

but no further inspiration.

When I ran the alphabet to get the above, I skipped right over GEE because all I thought of was G as in Gravity (one or zero) and didn't think that counted as its own word. GOLLY GEE, I was wrong.

29A is a bit truncated, INnIT?

GUN fire (4D), SALute (38A), and "ray" gun (40A) all made this a tiny bit tricky. I plopped TANGENT right in because a similarly clued answer was in a puzzle I did just last night. Short term memory not totally SHOT yet.

Thanks, Dan, for a fun puzzle.

Stanley Hudson 1:33 PM  

@Poggius, a tip o’ the hat for the info on Jon Jay, who I’m dimly aware of but didn’t come to mind this morning when thinking about John Jay.

Stanley Hudson

Masked and Anonymous 1:36 PM  

@Teedmn: OOOOH OOH! Cool fill-in-the-blanks clues. Can. Not. Resist.
M&A Help Desk answers to those:

* Ishmael says AYE.
* Lost on the ELL. [Happened to M&A in Chicago, one time. But, I digress.]
* Pweet PEA. Just kiddin … Podded PEA, of course.
* You know WHY.

M&A Blank Vault

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

@ Anonymous 4:29AM

Right! I mean it was wrong. Yes.

Lewis 1:46 PM  

The fact that commenters have been coming up with alternative theme answers all day attests to the high fun factor of this theme, and extra props to Dan for coming up with this idea for the first time.

Bobby Riggs 2:02 PM  

Whadday mean "Puzzle already light (like, very very light) on women or woman-oriented content"? You got APRON, BAKE SALE, RANGE, BOA, PEELERS, MAIDS ... lots of fill for dames.

Dr. M. 2:04 PM  

ION gun? Really?!?

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

@Ricky Recruit 12:13
Apparently not. Hardly a mention of todays historic happening I have heard. Plus, now everyone drives a Japanese car, and not only not thinks nothing of it, but swears they are better than American cars. Most people don't even consider a Chevy, Ford, or Dodge. Sacrilegious.

semioticus (shelbyl) 2:13 PM  

I guess I'm in the minority but I couldn't care less about this puzzle.

Fill: DEP, IND, IVO, KEN, SOP, UPI... I don't like it when a puzzle keeps throwing 3-letter words at me, and we had 30 of them. Not cool. The fresher entries such as AMTUNER, LOSSLEADERS, KSTATE etc. didn't give me joy either (that doesn't mean they were bad, but). SOP/NEAPS, KEN/KSTATE crossings I didn't enjoy at all. 11/25

Theme/long answers: I didn't get it while solving, and it didn't impress me afterwards. First of all, there is no CHINA SEA. There is East China Sea, there is South China Sea, there are China Seas, but NO. Because it was to the East of the puzzle, I logically thought the theme was about directions. Instant frustration there. Also when you say "a very unusual property," I expect a very unusual property. English language would be ripe with such arrangements. Call it "interesting", or "not common" or something. Meh. I mean, after two days of full-on shit themes this might look like an upgrade, but given the general standard, it is not. 7/25

Clues: TAR as a Sailor makes its semiannual appearance! How exciting! OK,I'll be fair, there were some good ones. I liked "Visa problem," "Hypothetical settlement," "Surprisingly, it might just work." I could have used more help overall though, at times it felt like the clues were out to turn this into a Word trivia puzzle. 16/25

Pleasurability: Not fun, as I have probably made clear. Bad sales pitch, factually wrong answer, 3-letter words... One of the worst Thursday experiences in a while. 10/25

GRADE: C-, 2/5 stars.

oconomowoc 2:36 PM  

@Anonymous 8:44 regarding NEAP:

I'm no astronomer, but I always thought that the "quarters" of the moon's cycle were half, new, half and full, and that the term does not refer to a "quarter-moon".

So I'm guessing 6D is correct, but I agree that the plural is awkward.

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

So is Kansas state:)

Anonymous 2:47 PM  

No. Women skaters draw a bigger audience for the same reason women are ( by an enormous margin) on magazine covers more frequently than men. Men watch women. And women watch women. It turns out, as publishers and marketing folks no full well, women aren't drawn to men, and with apologies to Johnny Weir, men aren't drawn to men.

You old perv. I think you meant Katarina Witt (i'm 20 years younger than you...

Reynard 3:33 PM  

Late-week puzzles take me a long time and it’s rare when a) I like the puz and b) I finish it. So, it was a rare day for me.
Best laugh-getter from Minnesota? Maybe Gov. Jesse Ventura.

Aketi 3:34 PM  
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Aketi 3:44 PM  

@Gill I, of course you made me want to compare Tanya Harding's TRIPLE AXEL to that of Johnny Weir. I especially loved his pink laced plunging neckline outfit. He has so much grace. She just looked athletic. Humans are so interesting in their diversity.

While I think the range of athleticism among humans has a huge degree of overlap, when it comes down to competiting testosterone absolutely does make a difference when all other things are equal. Despite all the hype about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu using leverage and technique to win out over stronger bigger people, strength and weight absolutely do make a difference. I may train with a lot of guys, but if I ever do compete I am glad that I'd compete just against other women in my weight class.

mathgent 3:45 PM  

Today's WSJ puzzle by Damien Petersen is a winner. Welcome contrast to today's NYT bummer.

Aketi 3:55 PM  

@Anonymous 2:47 pm, if your blanket statement women "aren't drawn to men" was correct how do you explain the popularity of the beef cake firefighter calendars. I know men do buy them, but women do too. Yes our present society favors women as objects of beauty but there are some cultures in which it does a reversal.

Bob Mills 3:57 PM  

Finished without even being aware of the theme. Where was it indicated by the clues? How would knowing the theme have helped anyone solve it?

Ricky Recruit 4:08 PM  

@Anoa Bob
Of course San Diego and Orlando were real "boot camps," it's just that they don't exist anymore. Now Parris Island was never a boot camp, the Marines never use that term, only civilians call it "Marine boot camp." They do the same for the Army and the Air Force although who cares about them, and the term is used for all sorts of other "tough" intro courses. Great Mistakes was (and still is) the original.

Outside The Box 4:11 PM  

I guess Rex doesn’t shop in grocery stores very much. They all have “loss leaders” to entice you in and then get you to buy their overpriced stuff.

David Schinnerer 4:56 PM  

Thursday’s are my favorite, but this was WAY too easy. Nancy...this was not crunchy enough for me...like it fine, but appreciate more challenge on a Thursday.

And get me some Xanax!!! I agreed with Rex on the TRIPLE AXEL clue. Help!!

Shelby...thanks for the thought yesterday. Your “Welcome back” was kind. I haven’t gone anywhere. Just feel like most days I have little to add, so don’t post those days. Who REALLY cares what I hav3 to say anyway? But appreciate the sentiment all the same.

Georgia 5:28 PM  

I don't either, and it seems no one has enlightened us ....

Anonymous 6:16 PM  

"I'm kind of too busy looking for gender injustices to learn economics. Is that why I'm not independently wealthy?"
No, Anon @ 6:11 AM, I'm pretty sure it's due to systemic sexism and misogyny. But thanks for playing!

Anonymous 6:23 PM  

@david Schinnerer

You're much more interesting when you don't bellyache about Rex ad nauseum

Joe Bleaux 7:21 PM  

No one who'd say "pine tree" instead of just "pine," or "tuna fish" instead of just "tuna"😉.

Anonymous 8:02 PM  

Great puzzle for a Wednesday, but disappointing on my favorite puzzle day of the week.

Joe Dipinto 8:07 PM  

Re: the Triple Axels clue - this seems to me a statistic, nothing more. Get over your reflexively-offended, pseudo-PC selves.

Ethan Taliesin 8:08 PM  

Maybe I'm just drunk, but I don't get it.

Anonymous 8:23 PM  

My family lives near the John Jay homestead in Northern Westchester County. Very nice house museum! So that was a given for me. Took me forever to get the theme, but I've only recently moved on to tacking Thursday puzzles so I was just glad to finish.

Nancy 8:44 PM  

@Aketi (3:55) -- One doesn't have to be familiar with different cultures to find instances where men, not women, are "the objects of beauty". Think back to "The Way We Were". Redford, not Streisand was the sex object in that movie. Remember him in that yummy white naval officer's uniform? (Sigh.) Remember him in that divine white cable-knit ski sweater? (Drool.) If I remember correctly, several reviews at the time mentioned that he was the sex object and how unusual that was. And it was purely his looks, not his persona, that made him desirable. In fact, he didn't really have much of a persona in that movie. He was pretty much of a cipher. And it didn't matter at all. Not to Barbra. Nor to me.

Oldflappyfrommississappy 9:32 PM  

Sorry Nancy, but Streisand’s exquisite tatas were the draw for me.

Anonymous 9:58 PM  


Aketi 9:59 PM  

@Nancy, so true.
@Oldflappyfrommissisappy, you haven't seen as many tits as I have as a lactation consultant. Not impressed with Barbra's. Abe has other talents,

mmorgan 10:07 PM  

Nice puzzle, but I really didn't need the pseudo-meta level.

Adam Frank 10:40 PM  

RAY gun before ZAP gun; it took me forever to get ION, and I was never getting KSTATE without the crosses. And I thought of JOHN MARSHALL before JOHN JAY (figured it was some kind of rebus). *sigh*

I liked seeing MOONBASE and CRAZY IDEA, but overall I thought it was only middling - I was neither very happy nor particularly miffed when it was over, and as I couldn’t give a flying f about the theme I came here to see which exclamation they were talking about. For God’s sake, at least give me a cryptic clue or something!

Joe Dipinto 11:12 PM  

I like that Rex is apoplectic that the puzzle is "light (like, very very light) on female content" when I see no evidence of it being heavy (like, very very heavy) on male content. What a total jackass.

Cathelou 4:41 AM  


Anonymous 4:59 AM  

@oconomowoco 2:36 PM. You're wrong.

The Clerk 11:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Clerk 11:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
brainman53 2:56 PM  

a thing given or done as a concession of no great value to appease someone whose main concerns or demands are not being met.
"my agent telephones as a sop but never finds me work"
a piece of bread dipped in gravy, soup, or sauce.

The answer clearly is #1. #2 was included for the sake of completeness.

Anonymous 4:54 PM  

@anon four comments up...Oconomowoc @2:36 is correct. The term quarter means a quarter of a month, not quarter of a moon.

william levine 7:18 PM  

Franken the only one stupid enough to have his molestations photographed. That’s why they’re called Libtards

Jim Finder 1:53 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Finder 1:54 PM  

@evil. That was a funny episode.

Sloaka 8:22 AM  

I actually found the puzzle itself relatively easy (NEAPS??), but I confess to having stared at the starred answers of my completed puzzle for 15-20 min and not getting the connection. I gave up and looked it up, then tried for 10 min to think of the missing phrase/exclamation...to which I also gave up.
So while that annoyed me and made me feel stupid, I guess I can't blame the puzzle for my own lack of ability to think out of the box.

Grade: B

spacecraft 11:01 AM  

This one contained a couple of slowdowns for me. First, having done the NW (!) and finding one slim way out at SAL___ for respectful greeting, I ERRED (almost fatally) with SALute. When that led nowhere, man, I picked up the thread with the X-xing anf finished the SW.

So now I'm looking at three starred entries: JOHNJAY, TEXASTEA and BUSYBEE--and naturally thought that all the themers would be alliterative. (BTW, as is usual in my paper when there are "notes" accompanying the puzzle, they don't show up here. The paper simply does not print them.) When I rebooted on the eastern side with GEAR/GONDOLA and WORSE/WINTER, the SE did not come to me for a while because of the expected alliteration at 57-across. ORG chart?? If you say so. I was all about the PIE.

Anyway, got that straightened out and finally did the NE, finishing with the V in IVO (sure, household name. Ri-i-ight.)

Nor did it help getting stuck on Kentucky. I mean, K_____ Wildcats? Come on. There are way too many Wildcats hanging around the NCAA; Villanova should take out the patent and screw the rest. Now there's a CRAZYIDEA!

Salt n PEPA get the group DOD award. Other notes: the clue for TRIPLEAXELS seems not only sexist but dated: the ladies do them routinely nowadays. Well, not all of them... Any grid that has a MOONBASE is OK by me. And we all know what we secretly wanted for 18-across. Medium for a Thursday; the thin theme wants a tighter class of fill, sans those letter-words KSTATE and FTLEE. OVERALL, a par.

thefogman 11:35 AM  

I solved the puzzle but I still have not solved the riddle/gimmick. I'll let it percolate in the back of my mind and check in later.

Diana, LIW 11:42 AM  

Well...at least the "bluejacket" wasn't put down as a layer of the road!

Didn't get the theme till here. And @Rex says cute! Therapy is working!

I'm a BUSYBEE today - gonna run and read comments later. The puzzle was INRANGE for me today.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

thefogman 11:58 AM  

GOLLY GEE! I guessed correctly. I didn't think it would be the right answer so I kept on thinking and thinking and just drew blanks. Then I gave up and checked here for the answer. Lo and behold! That was indeed the answer. Frankly, I'm kind of disappointed because the puzzle was great but (unless I missed something) the reveal struck me as being lame. After all the anticipation all I'm left with an overwhelming feeling of meh.

Is that all there is?...


thefogman 12:15 PM  


There were plenty of traps. I had SALute before SALAAM, ray before ION, AVert before AVOID, fan before BOA, shufflE before BUSYBEE and CHINAtEA before CHINASEA.

Burma Shave 1:58 PM  


a knife INRANGE GOOFSUP a guy,
but one GUNSHOT ends ADUEL.”


rondo 2:35 PM  

About the same time Andric IVO was winning Nobels, Tommy IVO was setting drag racing records; that would have been an easier clue for me, even a gimme. Yes, another appropriate USE of TAR.

Many of you need to brush up on your figure skating jumps. Fewer than 10 women have successfully landed TRIPLEAXELS in competition. I would call that *rare*. There are other TRIPLE jumps that are easier to land, like the TRIPLE klutz, TRIPLE floop, TRIPLE milk cow, and TRIPLE go floop. Anyway, I think that’s their names. But all of those only require 2.5 rotations to complete while the AXEL takes 3.5 revs. Didn’t any of you ever pay attention to Dick Button? Or Tonya Harding?

I’d have to give a yeah baby to any one of those few women who have landed their TRIPLEAXELS.

Didn’t get the gimmick until coming here. GOLLY GEE!

Steven J. Wangsness 3:34 PM  

LOL on peelers

rainforest 3:40 PM  

This puzzle stands up well as a relatively easy themeless, and a well-constructed one (the near separation of left and right didn't bother me).

Once again, being a Canadian didn't work well here with JOHN JAY. Sounds more like a baseball player to me. Also, is KSTATE a reference to Kentucky or Kansas? I wouldn't know.

Anyhoo, I didn't get the "shared property" until I finished, and then GOLLY GEE was my first thought for the exclamation. As someone said, "cute".

A different sort of Thursday, but a pretty good one.

strayling 5:48 PM  

A fun conceit, well executed. Some of the clues REALLY ARE quite good.

Scott McLean 8:04 PM  

Golly Gee, did I think Rex was going to hate, Hate, HATE this one!!

I thought he’d come in GUNS HOT. Here’s why: Four of the five themers consisted of a word followed by a second word which sounds like the first letter of the first word.
But then comes UP TO YOU, which is *three* words, the third of which is doing its thing regarding the first, leaving “TO” to just... sit there and do nothing.
I’ve seen Rex absolutely lambaste puzzles with theme inconsistencies much less glaring than this one.

Plus, I was sure he’d despise the note that basically says, “Hey, I thought of another one but couldn’t make it fit!”

Guess I can’t quite figure out this Parker dude.

Anyhow, I thought it was OK, not great. Fairly clever theme, but with a weird grid flow and some seriously junky fill. Thursdays are usually a lot more fun than this.

Scott McLean 8:11 PM  

“Ones who might give you an 11-across dance?”

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