Foot baby-style / THU 1-18-18 / Jewel case insert / Group rallied by Mao Zedong / Lady Ashley Jake Barnes's love in Sun Also Rises / Some roles in Jack Benny film College Holiday

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Constructor: Ryan McCarty and Alan Southworth

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: NO WAY (69A: "Forget it!" ... or a hint to 17-, 30-, 46- and 62-Across) — DESCRIPTION

Word of the Day: "KUBO and the Two Strings" (58D: 2016 animated film "___ and the Two Strings") —
Kubo and the Two Strings is a 2016 American 3D stop-motion fantasy action-adventure film directed and co-produced by Travis Knight (in his directorial debut), and written by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler. It stars the voices of Charlize TheronArt ParkinsonRalph FiennesRooney MaraGeorge Takei, and Matthew McConaughey. It is Laika's fourth feature film produced. The film revolves around Kubo, who wields a magical shamisen and whose left eye was stolen in infancy. Accompanied by an anthropomorphic snow monkey and beetle, he must subdue his mother's corrupted Sisters and his power-hungry grandfather Raiden (aka, the Moon King), who stole his left eye.
Kubo premiered at Melbourne International Film Festival and was released by Focus Features in the United States on August 19 to critical acclaim and has grossed $77 million worldwide against a budget of $60 million. The film won the BAFTA for Best Animated Film and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Visual Effects, becoming the second animated film ever to be nominated in the latter category following The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). (wikipedia)
• • •

Weird, we get a My Chemical Romance clue (45A: My Chemical Romance genre => EMO), but ... NO WAY?*

[*Gerard WAY is the lead singer for My Chemical Romance]

Two things about this puzzle are startling. First, the theme, which is so conceptually remedial, I have a hard time imagining its running in any majoy daily, let alone the "gold standard" puzzle. You just take WAY out? To get tepid phrases that are sometimes actual things and sometimes non-things? ONE STREET? That's funny? That's ... what is that? This is a puzzle you make early in your career and it gets rejected and then you learn to make your themes more interesting. When I got to the revealer ("NO WAY!"), I thought, "That ... that can't be it. Is that it?" It was it. And the resulting answers: HIGH ROBBERY, not a thing (unless you smoke pot and then knock over a bank, I guess), SUBSTATIONS, absolutely a thing, ONE STREET, a thing but not a standalone thing ... and then there's RUN A TRAIN. This is where I really, really wonder if anyone took any time editing this thing. The *only* reaction to this puzzle that I saw on Twitter last night involved this answer. Go ahead and google RUN A TRAIN (in quotation marks) if you don't know what that phrase means in common parlance. Let's just say that if the NYT does indeed have a "breakfast test" for its answers, this one proooooooobably doesn't pass. Surely Will's younger assistants know the slang meaning of this phrase. I wonder if the constructors thought they were being cute, or had a bet, or something. "We'll never get this by him!" "Let's try!"

I found the puzzle really easy except for the far north, where BRETT (???) (6A: Lady ___ Ashley, Jake Barnes's love in "The Sun Also Rises") and BOBBER (it's not just "bob"?) (6D: Tackle box item) and especially RUBADUB (who doesn't love a partial nonsense phrase!?) (7D: Start of a children's rhyme) really gummed things up. The SW also slowed me down, as all that Cockney nonsense was unintelligible to me. Neither LONDONER (37D: Cockney, e.g.) nor 'ERE (68A: "Listen ___!" (Cockney cry)) came into view easily. I thought maybe the Cockney person (?) was saying "Listen 'A ME!" Ugh. Oh, and I forgot what a "jewel case" was (oh, these modern times!) and so CD-ROM (bygone!) was rough for me as well (53A: Jewel case insert). Also got thrown by the theme-length answer with the "?" clue that was *not* a themer (I really hate that sort of junk). CEMENT MASON is as long or longer than all themers and (like the themers) has a "?" clue, so I went looking for a missing WAY. To no avail. But the rest was a cinch and even these problem areas weren't tough to work out. But overall, this was unpleasant, in more ways than one.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Two Ponies 6:35 AM  

This was way too easy for any day of the week. I am embarrassed for the NYT to run such an overly simple and idiotic puzzle.
Trying to find something positive to say is just impossible.

Suzie Q 6:38 AM  

Isn't the phrase "pull a train"?
Or am I thinking of some other nasty phrase?

Lewis 6:38 AM  

Learned COHIBA and KUBO. I tried to come up with other theme answers that rolled off the tongue as easily as the ones in this puzzle, with no success. Props to the constructors for coming up with these! Also, this is the third day in a row with a mini-theme of double E's (5). In addition, I like the "lantern fish" answer (DEEPSEA), crossing NEONS.

Never heard of this other meaning of RUN A TRAIN (which I have now looked up), and, despite the lineup of comments you displayed from people who have heard of it, I don't feel particularly ignorant for not having known it.

Arthur Fonzarelli 6:55 AM  

Guy review a different puzzle you’ve jumped the shark.

Alicia Stetson 6:58 AM  

Rex I have a hard time telling if you're joking sometimes. "Bob" for BOBBER? The gaps in your knowledge are jarring sometimes.

BarbieBarbie 6:59 AM  

Nope. RUNATRAIN may be a common common phrase on college campuses, but not among grownups. I mean, why have a cute euphemism for a violent crime like gang rape? What does that say about the people who use it? It’s kind of stupid. Sweets to the sweet.

This was not a Thursday. More of a Wednesday. Too easy and too bland. And I love my Thursdays, so it quite a disappointment.

G. Weissman 7:01 AM  

Which guy? And how about using punctuation? Your run-on sentence is just poor writing.

Jamie C 7:02 AM  

I think the constructors pulled one over on Will with RUNATRAIN, for which this otherwise meh puzzle deserves kudos.

G. Weissman 7:03 AM  

Yes, it’s certainly jarring that a person wouldn’t know fishing lingo. The very idea!

Eric NC 7:05 AM  

Agree with BarbieBarbie and TwoPonies. Absurdly easy for a Thursday. Left me feeling very Thursday disappointed. No thanks to the minds that made me lookup 30A. Could have lived the rest of my days without that info..

Early Riser 7:10 AM  

Mao Zedong killed over 50 million people. He was the biggest mass murderer in history. Welcome back Mao. As long as we don’t normalize the Trumps it’s all good. Oh, and don’t get me started on the sophomoric reaction to “run a train.” Seriously, this guy teaches college. I know it’s only comic books but he should grow up.

Ann 7:12 AM  

Once again, let me speak up for the novices. This is the first Thursday puzzle that I’ve competed. Of course, it’s too easy for the pros but there’s no way (!!) to please all of the people all of the time.

Alan Harris 7:17 AM  

@G: A self-proclaimed crossword expert and wordsmith?! Jarring might be an exaggeration, but it is surprising that he thinks a BOBBER is a "bob."

LOL 7:20 AM  

Rex, is it really “startling” that the Times publishes a puzzle that in your opinion is sub-par ? Several days. a week you complain about the poor quality of the puzzle yet it is “startling” ? Do you know what that word means ? I think what you’re trying to convey, which you’ve been trying to convey for years, is that, in your opinion, the Times is not the “gold-standard.” I have to admit it’s amusing to watch the meltdown. Thanks.

Alan Harris 7:20 AM  

And I suppose BOBBER might be called "fishing lingo." I know the word BOW so I suppose I know "sailing lingo" even though I'm not a other words, I know, um, words?

kitshef 7:21 AM  

Stared at KUBO for a while, but could not see any of the crosses being wrong.

Spend some time on the urban dictionary, and you'll find that just about any phrase has a dirty slang meaning. Run a train? yep. Gild the lily? yep. Winnie the Pooh? yep.

ONE STREET was my favorite, by a mile. Much preferable to:
Sad purchase on Saint Valentine’s day – One [way] ticket
Residence following a Solomonic divorce decree – Half [way] house
Keep going, Beaver – Carry On [way] Ward Son

Anonymous 7:22 AM  

I gotta go grade some college level comic book tests, and then get on my twitter.

Potsy 7:24 AM  

Gee @G: Which "guy" do you think he might be referring to? You're none too bright, are you? But thanks for the grammar lesson.

kodak jenkins 7:26 AM  

I didn't think it was THAT easy. Like a hard Tuesday or easy-ish Wednesday. And I did get stuck on the ONO/NBA cross.

Maybe not the most elegant of themes but it didn't strike me as exceptionally horrible. I just didn't like the puzzle in general. It seemed disjointed and random but then to have 2 cockney clues....

I don't know what to say about RUNATRAIN. I've know that phrase since the mid/late 80s but didn't think anything of it until I read Rex's blog. Not exactly part of my everyday experience. I'm sure it's a well-known phrase in certain circles and completely unheard of to the vast majority of Americans, especially crossword solving Americans.

Anonymous 7:39 AM  

So BIRDDROPPINGS was killed in yesterday’s puzzle, but RUNATRAIN is totally legit today? Will should probably add some NYT college interns to his group of test solvers. And, by he way, it’s not *that* new a phrase. I remember hearing it in the early 90s when discussing Stephen King’s IT, and a friend said that the 6 boys ... well, you’ll know if you’ve read it.

Anonymous 7:40 AM  

Not too easy here either made it under 20 minutes which is about my average Thursday. It took a while to suss out the theme next time I’ll wait until I’ve had a cup or two.Thanks.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

How many puzzles has Michael Sharp had in the NYT? . . . thought so.

George 7:45 AM  

Being a well-established adult, i had no idea about RUNATRAIN, but learning that sort of redeems the whole puzzle.

Secondly, for the commenters, don't we all have gaps of knowledge? I'm rather weak on pop culture and basketball, but learning new terms or words or historical figures is all part of the fun. if I knew every answer to every clue, the crosswords would be much less fun (sort of like on Mondays.)

Loren Muse Smith 7:46 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 7:47 AM  

I actually figured out the trick here with ONE STREET, the toughest one IMHO. I enjoyed sussing out each themer, but I agree with Rex that wackier results would’ve been a hoot. I guess SUB STATION, ONE STREET, and RUN A TRAIN (as in locomotive) are all *things*, so HIGH ROBBERY was my favorite. Like Rex alluded to, it reminds me of those stories where some smart guy thought he could enter the house via the chimney. He had to be high, right?

Like @Lewis says, it’s pretty hard to think of other wacky ones. @kitshef had some good ones. How ‘bout Milky Bar? Broad Joe? Half House? Nah. Kellyanne Con? Maybe.

Surely Will's younger assistants know the slang meaning of this phrase. I wonder if the constructors thought they were being cute, or had a bet, or something. "We'll never get this by him!" "Let's try!" I’m going to vehemently disagree and assume that Sam and Joel did not do this deliberately.

Following @kitshef’s line of thinking, I’ll add that lots of other words and phrases that have mind-in-the-gutter meanings show up in NYT grids. ASS, synonym for grab (13 times in the Shortz era), synonym for green salad (3 times). Is the objection here that RUN A TRAIN’s gutter meaning upstages its green paint meaning?

44D “Home of lanternfish and giant squids” – actually, that’s any body of water that’s not a swimming pool and I’m in where my feet don’t touch the bottom. So a lake, pond, ocean. There are all kinds of menaces swimming right under my legs; water snakes, sharks, Jorge Garcia, octopodes, poisonous jellyfish, eels… heck. Maybe even a KODIAK bear and that BAT that @Hartley chased out from under her umbrella. Shiver. I’m a great swimmer, but unless it’s a pool, I’m not going in over my head.

I bet @Lewis noticed all the BO. But the interesting kind, not the cumin-esque oh my God open a window kind. I counted five.

Loved that there’s RUB A DUB and TUB.

@Cass Garnet from yesterday – you win post of the year.

I actually had a dnf because I have never seen the word “interregnum.” So of course for 19A the travel org, I had “aaa” and then marveling that Iowa was the “Pea State.” The “anaerior” anatomy word should have alerted me that there was some funny business going on. Oh well. I decided to look up why “pap” was an interregnum. So I looked up interregnum.

a period when normal government is suspended

Hah. Pretty timely. Not just as in Next Week but also as in This Past Year.

And speaking of getting back some kind of normal government, wouldn’t it be cool if Olympia Snowe ran in 2020 and surprised everyone by naming Jeff Flake as her running mate? There’d be some great signage… Someone's probably already made that connection, but it just occurred to me yesterday.

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

There are enough snowflakes already, thank you very much.

Anonymous 7:56 AM  

Isn’t it more jarring that a professor of English was stumped by Lady Ashley’s first name?

Hungry Mother 8:13 AM  

Happy for a quick solve today. I enjoyed the theme. I was going to talk about traveling around the world, but I guess it might offend some.

Odd Sock 8:15 AM  

Already a third of the comments are about Rex but not the puzzle.
I suppose if you have nothing better to say just slam the host.

Hey, a clue for emu that seems new.
The last time Co-ed was used all hell broke loose but since the clue is from the ancient time of Jack Benny we can avoid the usual ranting.
Isn't it usually Tootsie? Tootsy looks wrong and Spellcheck doesn't like it either.

chefbea 8:20 AM  

fun puzzle. Got the theme right away...but DNF

Unknown 8:20 AM  

Re 30A, I suppose people come up with answers based on what they expect to find. Older people would guess train engineer; younger people something different, based on the decline of society. What is likely and common, based on your current view.

Passing Shot 8:32 AM  

Just looked up RUN A TRAIN on urban dictionary. O.M.G...

Outside The Box 8:32 AM  

My goodness, an intelligent response to the crossword puzzle snobs who complain about something every day.

GHarris 8:32 AM  

Got slowed down in the mid-South. Didn’t know Kubo and put in cement maker at first. All began to come together once I changed lax to bow. This whole run a train connotation was beyond my ken. Can anyone explain why NRA is a major group? Does it have something to do with the rank of its members.

Outside The Box 8:34 AM  

Agree. Tootsie is spelled t o o t s i e.

Scrooge 8:35 AM  

@LMS: Idaho, you fucking ignorant redneck. Not Iowa. Idaho. They're two different states ya know.

Foldyfish 8:38 AM  

Today's puzzle sponsored by I'm sure they are loving all the traffic to their site this am.

Not armed, but dangerous 8:42 AM  

this is the second time I have seen "NRA" used as an answer to a clue about Fairfax, VA. My lovely, happy, warm, diverse, expensive hometown has so so so much more going for it than being the headquarters for this abhorrent organization. Maybe something about having one of the highest per capita incomes in the nation. Maybe being the home of Earps Ordinary. Maybe being the home of one of the oldest court houses still in use in the US. Anything but the NRA. I'm sad.

Jenskis70 8:47 AM  

In your history of great posts, iMHO this one was outstanding. It was full of gems that belong in jewel cases but then I’m just a snowflake.

Charles Flaster 8:52 AM  

Liked it much better than Rex. Also do the WSJ and it is rarely better than the NYT; the weekend puzzle does not compare to Saturday’s Times.
Thought RUN A TRAIN might imply helping a bride with her wedding gown.
Only writeover was EVEN IF for EVEN so.
Thanks RM and AS. I saw and heard a Princeton a capella group at Penn in the nineties and they were wildly entertaining.

QuasiMojo 8:52 AM  

All I saw today was Della Street which made me smile. I love her. I mean, Barbara Hale, who owned that role. My Dad had a secretary just like her.

Do Subway stores call themselves "stations"? I didn't quite understand that one. I went to one once but found the display of spreads and the servers wrapped in surgical caps and gloves or whatever they had on so disgusting that I fled.

Are "peasants" a group? Clumsy way of clueing that. Opening Pores? Puh-leeze. That doesn't pass the breakfast test either.

I think of moonshine in a jug.

Peckerwood 8:57 AM  

Ya know, if Rex and his reviews are too edgy and negative for y'all there's always Word Play. Everything is so sugar coated over there that no one gets offended or triggered.
Of course they have to hand out insulin at the door so you don't swoon from all the sweetness.

Michelle Abrams 9:01 AM  

You know what's usually lacking in people who refer to themselves with terms like "peckerword?" Peckerwood.

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

It's a station. Where a subway stops. Moron.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

Is Fairfax anywhere near Natick?

Hartley70 9:05 AM  

If this is today's puzzle, it must be Tuesday. That's my only GRIPE. Otherwise, it's a nifty little Tuesday solve.

INTERREGNUM was the head scratcher for most, I imagine, but we'll be hearing it on the news by tonight if the shut down isn't averted. It gets extra points for topicality.

One can look for nastiness in almost any word or phrase if that's your thing. I do it with BAT which has only one definition for me even if we're talking baseball (which I don't). Others do it with the lovely snowflake, the strangest of current epithets. It sounds like a compliment to me.

DELLA has held up surprisingly well, considering how long Perry has been off the air. I would have thought she would be far more obscure than BRETT. You can't discount the power of the idiot box. Don't get me wrong. I watch Bravo too.

I wonder what it would be like to be inside @Loren's head for a day. I could just sit in a chair and laugh myself silly. Thanks for the fun today, girl!

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Lope the mule.

Nancy 9:10 AM  

Where's our Thursday rebus? It's HIGH ROBBERY, Will, to deprive us of it in return for a theme that's so feeble. There's NO WAY any of us are going to thank you for this Thursday dud. It's like a TRYOUT CAMP for Monday and Tuesday solvers. I found everything about it to be a SUBSTATION of the Platonic Ideal of a Thursday. Awful fill, including ANO, ERE, EVE, ENE, TOT, EMO, EMU, ONO, IMHO, and NRA. Clunky, on-the-nose clueing: "Pear variety"; "Preschooler"; "Alaskan bear" and "Mazel ___!", among many others.

And, yes, TOOTSY is wrong. Is CEMENT MASON a Thing? (I avoided writing in CEMENT MAKER, because the K didn't seem to work.) RIGHTO (without any hint at British usage) is clumsy. I agree with everyone else's BEEFS about this puzzle, which is ULTRA bad and a real disappointment.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

@Nancy: stop whining. Please. For one day. Just stop.

Doug 9:12 AM  

When I finished this faster than any other Thursday ever, my first thought was Rex will hate this puzzle. But it was worth it just for the NBA clue -- organization that discourages traveling. Got a real chuckle out of that one.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

Trump solved global warming.

Cheryl 9:18 AM  

RIGHTO. RUNATRAIN reminds me of a story. As a restaurant reviewer for a daily metropolitan newspaper, I once used the phrase: "tossed my husband's salad." IMHO, there is NO WAY the editor in charge did not know street meaning of that phrase. While I'm not the SLOWEST train in the SUBSTATION, it was a TERM which I, ALONE on this earth, apparently, had never heard, even as a TEEN or COED. The editor let it slip through to the print edition, perhaps because he NEEDED the entertainment of seeing the NEW USER comments CAROM about the paper's website. I had no real BEEFS with this, EVEN IF my spouse was ULTRA EMO about the unwanted attention.

Z 9:44 AM  

Most days I don’t miss having a moderator.

OxfordBleu 9:44 AM  

Was I the only person who immediately dropped in TSA as the answer to 21A: "Org. that discourages traveling"?

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

@Hartley, last time I looked the Perry Mason books are still in print. So mystery lovers are still reading about Della Street.

Captain Renault 9:48 AM  

I’m shocked , shocked that the New York Tines, the “gold standard “ would publish such a lame puzzle. Ad Infinitum. Maybe it’s time to stop pretending to be startled.

QuasiMojo 9:54 AM  

@anonymous 9:02, I know what a subway station is. But the clue is for a shop to buy sandwiches, so what does "station" have to do with that? I know "station" is a term in restaurants but it does not usually mean "shop." There's a uniformity to the theme that perhaps you are overlooking. It's the "way" that is supposed to be missing, not your intelligence or civility.

RooMonster 9:58 AM  

Hey All !
Well, maybe now I don't feel too bad about all my rejections. Besides the crude 30A, this puz relied too much on foreign words and phrases. I thought these were English puzs.

Oh well, really wonder if Will takes the time to read here, or has someone else read and report who is nasty to the puzs, then gets a black mark. Curious.

Anyway, random ramblings aside, I actually like adding/subtracting word themes. I've had a couple myself. So I'm 50℅ for, 50℅ meh on this puz. IMHO :-)


Bob Mills 10:00 AM  

For once, I actually figured out the theme, and that helped solve the puzzle. Usually I solve the puzzle first, then figure out the theme.

Mark Tebeau 10:06 AM  

I don't mind easy puzzles, although, maybe a tad to easy for Thursday. Thought it was clever too.

@lms I loved that you mistook Iowa in your comment for Idaho. I read the puzzle that way and kept saying: what is Iowa's nickname? Finally, I realized my error, but it got no easier. Lol. Also, am still chuckling about the Snowflake ticket. Thank you.

@scrooge I've got no idea why folks feel the need to be so crappy to others. Possibly sarcasm but no indicators of that. Fits with the general crabby millieu here. It's a crossword puzzle blog. Enjoy or don't enjoy. But realize that most of us come here to extend the experience of the puzzle and have a bit more fun. We don't need to deal with your rage issues.

Mark Tebeau 10:07 AM  

Same here. I'm slow always delighted when I get it first.

Sir Hillary 10:07 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sir Hillary 10:09 AM  

Man, I didn't like this one at all. Figured out the theme with HIGHROBBERY, so the surprise factor was gone, and it was a slog from there.


I realize that 3-letter words are never going to be stellar, but do we really need ERE, ETE, EVE, ENE, MER, SOI, ANO, EMO and POR in the same grid? Hell, just the first four in that list -- all E_E -- are bad enough.

Finally, anyone who's watched Julius Erving, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James knows that the last thing the NBA does is discourage traveling.

This should have been sent back for a redo.

ArtO 10:09 AM  

Well, old timers learned something this morning (i.e. RUNATRAIN).
Agree, a pretty lame theme and, for once, agree with OFL criticism.
Agree he should know Lady BRETT Ashley. Pretty lame of him!

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

"Surely Will's younger assistants know the slang meaning of this phrase."

Sharp, you've written some horrible things on this blog, but this one takes the cake.

Wow 10:16 AM  

@Scrooge 8:35
Stick a fucking crowbar up your ass and die.

Wow 10:22 AM  

@Anonymous 9:12 : stop reading. Please. For-ever. Just stop.

GILL I. 10:27 AM  

Started off thinking about how much I was going to enjoy this puzzle. A COHIBA here a RIGHTO there OCHO and MER. I'm waiting for the rebus shoe somewhere to drop. Kept looking around. Decided to go to the basement and check out the 69A revealer. Oh...NOWAY. So it is HIGH [WAY] ROBBERY! What a dud. I, too, said IS THAT IT?...
@Kitshef is right. You can turn just about any word or phrase nowadays into some filthy expression if you have the time on your hands. Like the Anony's that come here. Remember when conversation and intercourse were swapped? Never heard the other meaning of RUN A TRAIN. Thanks @Rex and your twitter friends for making this dud of a Thursday, even worse.
I did like seeing COHIBA because it reminded me of my dad. He was a cigar smoker but he wouldn't touch a COHIBA after 1960. That infidel Fidel had the Cohiba made exclusively for him. Eventually, he'd let the common folk buy the cigars as well. Dad's favorite was the H Upmann. It was JFK's favorite as well. Just before the embargo and before we almost blew our heads off, he had someone on his staff buy up every last H. u cigar left floating around the good ole USofA.
@Hartley...BAT!!! @Loren rarely forgets a very funny story!
Speaking of...I get Iowa and Idaho confused all the time. And this time I had Idaho as the GUN STATE. I can't keep up with the NRA and the states that are fer or agin totting arms about them. I know Nevadan's do a lot of totting so why not the potato state.
Was this by chance a debut?

pmdm 10:42 AM  

Probably the reason why this difficulty level seems easy for a Thursday is because the constructors (according to their comments) were aiming for a Tuesday or Wednesday puzzle.

Ann: Your comment is quite apt. Sometimes too many of the experts who comment on this site perhaps seem to forget the themed puzzles should be enjoyable to those who haven't got to that level yet.

Nancy: A cement mason is not a thing. It can be a person or a trade (trade in the sense of the name of a job).

The clue for SUB[way]STATIONS certainly could have been better.

When slang coopts the meaning of a word or term, how common does it need to be before it is banished from a respectable source of crossword puzzles? I don't think RUNAWAY has quite yet arrived at that point. It's a tough call.

mathgent 10:50 AM  

I just reread And The Sun Also Rises a few months ago. BRETT Ashley is such a fascinating character. I'd say that the novel is really about her as told by Jake Barnes.

Gang rape is such a sickening thing. I'll never forget the scene in Boogie Nights. Appalling to believe that this form is so common that there is a phrase for it.

Lots wrong with it, not least that there are 24 Terrible Threes. @Nancy (9:10) mentioned most of its flaws. But I had some fun solving it.

Two Ponies 10:51 AM  

@ GILL I, I believe it was a debut for one of the constructors. Is that the excuse for a crummy puzzle? That's like admiring a toddler's first step. Sure, he's clumsy and hit his forehead on the coffee table but he did walk!

Longtime West Coast shrink 10:51 AM  

I'm about a third of the way through writing a book with the working title: THE SELF-LOATHING OF THE INTERNET TROLL. This blog has provided many insights. Today, I added "Peckerwood" to a long list blog names, full of self-loathing, and used by trolls on the Rex Parker blog who tend to be very nasty but don't comment anonymously. Some of the others are: "Churlish Nabob", "Fat Old Basterd" and "OldFlappyfromMississappi." I have found similar "blog handles" on many other Internet blogs.

Right now I'm working on a long section on Internet Misogyny. It's one of the biggest problems on the web today. And you certainly see it here. Today @Loren and @Nancy were attacked. Yesterday it was @Amelia. The day before it was @GILL I. Women are hit harder and far more viciously than men. This runs true on every blog I'm researching, whether political, celebrity or whatever.

The bad news is: Internet trolling is one of the most difficult manifestations of psychopathology to treat in therapy. There are reasons for that, too complicated to go into here. Read my book when it comes out -- hopefully in the Fall of 2019.

xyz 10:52 AM  

Very easy Thursday, no trick, no nuttin'

Unknown 11:03 AM  

I don't understand 24A: BAT (Diamond club).

Warren Howie Hughes 11:03 AM  

Idaho, the GEM STATE...NO WAY! I pretty much had it pegged as the Spud State!?

xyz 11:06 AM  

Oh, BTW "NBA discourages traveling". How cleverly ironic. Why? It's the M.O. of the N.B.A.

I remember an Olympic early round game several Olympic Games ago when the traveling/walking
calls numbered 20-30 on the Dream Team, but by the end they remembered how to actually play
Basketball, rather than the entertainment venue that is the NBA and won that game against
Albania, Croatia or another reasonable basketball power from EuroAsia.

And who on here didn't know ONO? Tasty, and I don't like my fish cooked, generally.

Now after reading comments, this wasn't a bad puzzle, people, just one far too easy for
its DayO'week.

I poke on doing my puzzles, this one didn't take me 15 minutes, half Thursday.

Diamond Club = BASEBALL BAT

Warren Howie Hughes 11:07 AM  

Oh, Calman! The BAT @24A is what an Arizona Diamondback baseball player comes to the plate with!

Anoa Bob 11:07 AM  

Couldn't help noticing all the grid entries that needed gratuitous Ss appended to fill their slots. Along with some run-of-the-mill plurals of convenience (POC), such as MOSSES, COEDS, PORES, & OBOES, there are several two-for-one, cheater square equivalent POCs at the ends of PEASANT/WHALER, TRYOUT CAMP/NEON & SENSE/BEEF.

Even one of the themers, SUB STATION, is a letter short for its spot and needs a POC boost. Finding symmetrical theme entries that have matching letter counts is one of the most challenging parts of coming up with a themed puzzle, and simply tacking on an S to one of the theme candidates to make that happen is way to easy, and should be a deal killer in my book.

On the plus side, we get a "'Wheel Of Fortune' buy" clue for AN O (61 Across) instead of a Spanish clue for "year"[sic]. Savvy?

jberg 11:10 AM  

The first themer I got was ONE STREET, then I saw the revealer and, well, a street is a way... So that really slowed things down for me. I eventually thought of HIGHway ROBBERY, but it took far to long.

As I understand it, if you put any three or four letters together and make sure they end in a vowel, you've got the name of either a Hawaiian bird or a Hawaiian fish, right?

Context Matters 11:11 AM  

I truly wish people who use their smart phones and reply directly to a previous post would identify to whom they're replying.

For instance, take this:

Blogger Mark Tebeau said...
Same here. I'm slow always delighted when I get it first.

10:07 AM

See, I don't know whether Mark is replying to someone who said that they got the theme before they finished the puzzle and that it helped in the solving of the puzzle, or to the person who looked up what RUN A TRAIN meant and said eeewwww.

I wish I knew what to think of Mark.

Peckerwood 11:16 AM  

@ Shrink,
Self-deprecating humor is not self-loathing.
I was just funnin'.
Big city snob.

Tub is good for stirrin' the mash but jug is for swillin' the 'shine.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

44 years old, mind perpetually in the gutter, and the objectionable phrase (not to me) is to PULL a train; never heard it as RUN.

Nancy 11:18 AM  

pmdm (10:42) -- I was using the word "thing" in the sense of the often used Rexblog joke "Is a Thing/Is Not a Thing". I do know that "mason" is a word pertaining to a person not a thing, but was questioning whether CEMENT MASON was something anyone would say, the way they would, for example, say "stone mason". Was I perhaps being too cute? :)

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Bill Clinton liked this puzzle.

Joseph Michael 11:23 AM  

Why don't we have more immigrants from Nor?

Dyslexics UNTIE

Malsdemare 11:41 AM  

Okay. I googled "run a train," and I'm now officially sick to my stomach. Up til that point, I was fine with the puzzle; not scintillating or funny, but it lasted a cup of coffee. Then read Rex, did the google thing. No. No. No. For the first time in my entire crossword career, I'd like an apology from Mr. Shortz.

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

Joy Reid - DNF.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

I can't be the only one who had this problem, and keep in mind that I am an Idaho guy living in Natick. really. I saw idaho and promptly filled in "red state." I never think of idaho as the Gem State. That's like a person from Cranston telling people he's from Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Problem was, you could rewrite the entire corner with red state being in their. It was weird.

kitshef 11:45 AM  

@Sir Hillary - you're take on the NBA is sadly true. A nice compilation is here:

Anonymous 11:47 AM  


Anonymous 11:48 AM  

You are correct. Rex just wanted to go there.

Masked and Anonymous 11:49 AM  

RUNATRAIN meanin was (bad) news to m&e. Doubt that the editor(s) was aware of it. Then again, half the words in the puz probably have gross meanins, if U bother to look em up on Urban Dictionary.

No prob with the theme idea, but … NOWAY a ThursPuz-caliber theme. Best thing in it was RUBADUB up top and TUB at the bottom (yo, @muse). Some ThursPuz-caliber words and clues, tho (yo, @COHIBA BRETT KUBO and the BAT Clue).

staff weeject pick: LOO. Better clue = {When doubled and made a themer, classic Kingsmen song??}. Honrable mention to POR.

Is that why there were so few U's in yesterday's puz? Fear of accidentally hidin an EMU? EMUs sound like real feisty birdies. Must get to be first in line at the bird feeders, a lot.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Mr. McCarty & Mr. Southworth. Plus, Congratz on the half-debut.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


ArtO 11:50 AM  

NBA definition of "traveling" ...when you take an almost invisible step while holding the ball and then continue a move.

Taking three steps from the top of the key without dribbling and using two feet to jump and dunk is no longer "traveling." Absurd!

Unknown 11:55 AM  

Once again, the British stuff was easy for me. Londoner was my first answer.

Mark Tebeau 11:58 AM  

I, for one, will read your book with eagerness, though much sadness.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

@LMS, Jeff Flake is from a town in Arizona called Snowflake--named after the two Mormon founders, Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake, Jeff Flake's great-great grandfather.

Mark Tebeau 12:02 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
semioticus (shelbyl) 12:05 PM  

The fill had problems for sure (ETE ENE ERE EVE in the same puzzle!), but it gave us something. After being fed three days of rubbish, I'm inclined to ignore some of the basic problems. GEMSTATE, STOCKADE, LONDONER, OVERDONE, CEMENTMASON etc. are all cool answers. Even if the glue is very gooey, these sorta make up for it.

I figured out the theme at SUBSTATIONS, and was OK with it. Yeah, it may not be Thursday material exactly, but that doesn't make it a bad puzzle. I wish that I didn't learn what "run a train" means though :/

Overall, a decent fill (relatively speaking, a fine fill), some great clues, a meh theme done well. I don't think this was a bad puzzle. Just needed some more work.

GRADE: B-, 3.3 stars.

Mark Tebeau 12:05 PM  

@context matters. Oh does it ever. I did not realize that the replies did not show in all formats, which sadly was how I dealt with rebuses for a very long time online.

And though it was the former with which I agreed, it could easily have been the latter.

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:09 PM  

Also, wow did the anonymice drop in early today. Insomnia?

Hungry Mother 12:12 PM  

The Sub Station in Blacksburg, VA, home of the Hokies, is a legendary place.

puzzlehoarder 12:13 PM  

I haven't commented since Sunday mostly due to the uninspiring nature of the puzzles. Today's wasn't much better. The clues for 6A and 46A went right over my head but it made little difference. There was just too much easy material in this puzzle.

I hate to admit it but I halfway think that "interregnum" is the proper term for "taint." I know it's not but it still works with GAP if you think about it. Speaking of mongoloid interpretations of English I couldn't help but notice the twitter quotes as I skipped over our host's comments today. Apparently 30A has an unfortunate meaning in mongoloid speak and his twitter toads are of course fluent in it.

Hopefully things will be better this Friday and Saturday.

G. Weissman 12:15 PM  

Lewis or Rex.

G. Weissman 12:23 PM  

Knowing the word BOW is really not analogous to knowing the word BOBBER, but nice try. According to your logic, it’s “jarring” that Rex wouldn’t know a specific word because ... it’s a word. So much for that line of thought.

I too was surprised that Rex didn’t know the name of this Hemingway character, but so it goes. It does make more sense to expect an English professor to know that than to know a fishing term ... even if they are both, um, words.

GILL I. 12:27 PM  

@Longtie West Coast shrink.
Interesting post. I don't read any other blogs other than this one. I can well imagine there are a vast amount of unimaginative trolls trying to get someone to acknowledge their existence. Maybe they weren't breast fed as infants.
The nasty name-calling doesn't bother me anymore. What does is someone stealing my identity. That's scary. A thief who's sure not to be caught. How easy is that? I can pose as anyone, try and mimic the way they write and hopefully cause havoc. Thankfully, most who do that are stupid. Just ask @evil doug...
I'm not against self-deprecating humor, but it better be funny and most of the time it's not - it's just mean.

John Hoffman 12:29 PM  

I enjoy this blog: Rex’s analysis and everyone’s analysis. And then there’s some of the odd information we get and even the cranky and mean things people write. I look forward to seeing this every day.

G. Weissman 12:30 PM  

It’s not that complicated, guy.

Kettle 12:33 PM  

@ West Coast shrink 10:51,
First, you didn't need to tell us you were from the west coast, it shows.
Secondly, aren't you a troll yourself?
Third, What makes you think I need a therapist?
I'll just call you Pot.

Carola 12:56 PM  

I'm with @Rex on this one. HIGH ROBBERY and ONE STREET as stand-alone phrases? I think those should have elicited at "Back to the drawing board."

Teedmn 1:10 PM  

I thought the theme of NO WAY was fine though I didn't think much of the clues for 46A or 62A which didn't meet my standards of wackiness.

I tried to come up with something using STAIR[WAY] but couldn't get anything that changed the meaning of stair so the only alternative I thought of was GIANTS'CAUSE, clued as "We need more headroom", a reference to the Giants' Causeway in Northern Ireland (it's pretty cool, I've been there).

I was seeing DNF in my rear-view mirror with my inability to come up with a three letter word starting with G that would fill in 11D's G__STATE. The chemical suffix could have been aNE just as easily as ENE and a Travel org with eTix was not helping (though nice tie-in of the 19A clue with 21A's clue). But the GEM finally hit me and I finished successfully.

I'm too old to know the Urban Dictionary meaning of 30A but after Googling post-solve based on Rex's write-up, yeah, not passing the breakfast test.

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

As an avid angler, I've only ever heard it called a "bobber", never a "bob". Never knew this could be regional..

Suum Cuique 1:44 PM  

This was one of those days when I enjoyed the comments more than the puzzle.
Plants without flowers - ferns went through my head before mosses. I suppose algae is another possibility. Emus have a special toe for fighting! Ouch. Those were the only memorable bits for me.
All of the back and forth whether funny or mean makes this such an interesting and entertaining place to visit. When things get too grumpy I just shrug and think "Kids say the darndest things".

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

@Malsdemare, your comment is so mystifying. Why do you demand an apology from Will Shortz? You never heard the term, a good proportion (I believe the majority) of the other posters here never heard the term, I never heard of it nor did any of us have any issue with it until @Rex made a big deal out of it because of some of the TWITTs who are fans of his. Everyone who visited that page in Urban Dictionary did so at the direct invitation of RP. If an apology is needed, why from Will? How about from Rex, that would make a hell of a lot more sense.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

This is some heavy lifting figuring out how I'm going to be insulted all day.

Kimberly 2:22 PM  

This felt way more like an early-week themer. I missed my aha moment. I really count on Thursdays for that.

robber 3:00 PM  

my quickest Thursday was WAY to easy and WAY to boring even for a's not even close to a Thursday

Run A, does anyone at the Times even watch a movie now and then.

Anonymous 4:07 PM  

So, I only got to this puzzle late in the afternoon.. such a busy day. Blew all my cash on a facial at the spa first thing in the morning, so after the ATM I headed home to find my neighbors playing cornhole in the back yard. They invited me to join their threesome, but I hadn't eaten anything yet that day, so I offered to toss a salad for everyone first. Started to rain, so we had to quit. God, I was so wet. I let everyone come in my house (through the backdoor) so I could show everyone my new hobby - a classic Lionel set. Like the one I had as a kid - I ran a train through the whole house, but of course, it couldn't compete with the memories of my first time.

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

I'm with Anonymous 2:00,

Just because Rex has a propensity for the prurient doesn't mean Shortz erred. Besides, no matter what the urban dictionary says the phrase, as Suzie Q noted, was pull a train. That it has been corrupted with the focus inverted says much.

Eric NC 4:23 PM  

@lms. My sympathy. I used to have offices in Idaho, Iowa and Ohio. Never could keep them straight.

Unknown 4:54 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 3:44 4:08 0.90 20.9% Easy-Medium
Tue 5:18 5:19 1.00 46.0% Medium
Wed 5:39 5:54 0.96 46.8% Medium
Thu 9:55 10:16 0.97 44.9% Medium

I had no idea of the RUN A TRAIN double entendre until I read Rex's review and now wish I were still ignorant of it. That said, it seems unreasonable for any crossword editor to be aware of every slang term. I wish Rex would bury the hatchet that he's been clubbing Will with for lo these many years.

I was more struck by the number of personal WTFs: COHIBA? ONO? Lady BRETT Ashley? KUBO? But I guess these were fairly enough crossed since I still managed a decent Thursday solve time.

Unknown 4:59 PM  

Rex let Mao pass without comment today I see.

Joe Dipinto 5:01 PM  

What -- no one's mentioned that Della STREET crosses cement MASON?

From the constructors' comments on X-Word Info, I doubt they were aware of any unsavory meaning of RUN A TRAIN. I mean, they sang in a Glee Club together at Princeton. (Then again, you never can tell. Maybe they go around calling women "TOOTSY".)

Odd Sock 5:03 PM  

Spot on @Anon 4:07!

BarbieBarbie 5:15 PM  

I believe the Nassoons sing “Coney Island Baby” and would spell Tootsy like the lyrics.
Since they were both Nassoons I revise my opinion to Tiger, Tiger, Tiger... (full disclosure: I sang in a similar group)

@lms, when I lived in Iowa they were searching for a new motto. One of the most popular candidates was “Gateway to Nebraska.” True story! They are great people, even if they don’t live in the Gem State.

Cement Mason 5:26 PM  

My brother Perry also had to google RUN A TRAIN.

Nancy 5:34 PM  

"Gateway to Nebraska"! I love it, @BarbieBarbie!

That sort of reminds me: when my previous apartment building was going co-op (it had been built as a postwar rental and the construction wasn't all that much to write home about), a woman in one of our many tenants' meetings said: "I think our building should have a name. After all, most of the really distinguished apartment buildings in NYC have names as well as street numbers: The Beresford; The Dakota; The San Remo. And I have the perfect name for ours." She paused for effect. We were hanging on every word. "Let's call it The Silk Purse," she said.

Whatsername 5:54 PM  

I agree with Rex. Is that all there is? Totally underwhelming.

Chronic dnfer 6:08 PM  

Is it a Blimpie base or Blimpie station?

nick strauss 7:12 PM  

Getting a Thursday puzzle means I am getting better at solving crosswords. I got the NO WAY theme early on, HIGH ROBBERY last. Diamond Club sounded like a really cool BAR, and then finally BAT.

Michigan 7:30 PM  

"Diamond club" (bat) has nothing to do with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Arizona mascot is the diamondback rattlesnake. "Diamond" is a term for the infield with its bases in a diamond shape. Hence diamond club-bat.

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

For my money,Baxter is the most clever mascot name going.
And Rex, grow up. Are you really that titillated by a PERVERSION?

Harryp 8:42 PM  

Anonymous 9:15, The only way that Bozo would solve global warming is with nuclear winter.

Anonymous 10:20 PM  

Comment of the day, @Harryp.

Anonymous 10:35 PM  

Re @quasimojo: PLEASE somebody explain to this dumb fuck how a crossword theme works.

Scrooge 10:40 PM  

@wow: your idea of foreplay is different from mine. Chacun a son gout, I guess.

Dean 10:51 PM  

I’m from England and I can’t recall ever hearing a Cockney say “Listen ‘ere.” I believe the proper grammatically and stylistically proper Cocknese phrase would be “Oi!”

a.corn 12:00 AM  

FWIW: running a train isn’t necessarily violent (it certainly CAN be, but violent is often consensual), nor is it rape. I know a smart, well adjusted, sex-positive woman, who enjoys multiple male partners in succession. Just sayin’ ...whatever stirs your coffee, who are we to judge? Oh, and she’s 35 years old...uses the term. I think that constitutes being a “grownup.”

a.corn 12:03 AM  


a.corn 12:10 AM  

Think bathTUB gin..

a.corn 12:19 AM  

A baseball BAT is a “club” used on a baseball “diamond.”

Burma Shave 10:30 AM  


to coach RUBADUB DUB
in the LOO or the TUB,


thefogman 10:59 AM  

ONO! I agree with Rex's review on this one. It makes yesterday's feather-themed puzzle look like a classic. Should Will Shortz have given this the green light? IMHO,NOWAY.

spacecraft 11:06 AM  

Well, I was spared the "breakfast test flunker" because I had no earthly idea what 30-across meant. I was curious so I Googled it after @Rex's blog. Why did I do that? Oh yeah, I was curious. Subtract one cat-life.

To rate this fairly, I must ignore the result of my search, since that came after solving and so was not part of the experience. My problems (not solving; the whole thing was easy-peasy for me) lay elsewhere: ETE ENE ERE EVE, plus EMO EMU. And ONO as a fish? And ERE as an H-less HERE?? By the time they got down there, they had to realize how OVERDONE much of their fill was, so they tried to steer away from "poetic before."

Then there's...well, if you can have DOWNFEATHERS I guess you can have a CEMENTMASON. It's all green to me. There should have been a REVOTE on this one. Bogey--though if I'd known, it would have been "other."

Diana, LIW 11:26 AM  

Just in case you noticed...

After posting yesterday, I checked the FutureLanders comments. Apparently there are some who still do not know of the Lox of Nova fashion. I shan't be going to FuttureLand this time to let them know - seems some of them have absorbed the lesson and are passing it along to others.

But in case you don't know, listen up. You have Nova Lox in your deli case, right around the corner (or wherever your grocery store is located. All over this great land. Go look.

Lady Di

thefogman 11:36 AM  

Interesting comment by Anonymous 7:39 AM

In it he/she says yesterday's revealer was supposed to be BIRDDROPPINGS but got "killed" (presumably by Mr. Shortz) in favour of DOWNFEATHERS.

Diana, LIW 11:56 AM  

Well I certainly didn't know the expression in OFL's complaints, and am sorry now that I do. I'll give Will the high road on this one and believe he didn't know or notice, either.

I was thrilled when I got the theme on this, and hadn't noticed all the fill. I felt, like smart. This is what comes from solving in dribs and drabs. This little dribby went to market...

Especially liked the "subway sandwich" one. Reminded me of New York subway stations, and how so many people would eat in the subway underground area. I could never understand that. Ever smell the subway underground area? Just go stick your head in a urinal. If your breakfast test hadn't already failed.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and the crosstown express

rondo 12:57 PM  

Never having seen “Frozen”, I had no idea. My day is complete now that SVEN has finally appeared. Not along with an Ole or a Lena, but I’ll take a stand-ALONE SVEN!
As for the rest of the puz, the longish downs in the corners were decent, but connected with some iffy threes, and at least 22 threes altogether. NOWAY I’d call this puz great.

I’m so happy that SVEN showed up that I don’t NEED to name a yeah baby, EVENIF there was one.

thefogman 1:47 PM  

To Lady Di...

From the New York Times:

Don’t Look for Nova in Nova Scotia

rainforest 2:53 PM  

Never heard of the Urban definition of RUN A TRAIN referred to by many posters, so of course, I looked it up. Ew. However, I did see a RUN Away TRAIN, on the Esquimalt & Nanaimo railway on Vancouver Island. Actually more of a "glide-away train, but still.

Though the theme here was instantly found, and a little slim, I liked the puzzle. I think the constructors tried to clue ERE and ONO innovatively, so props to that.

Yay! Sven! Now we need to find OLE and him in the same puzzle, cross-referenced.

Some nice long downs, and impressive NE and SW corners.

That is all.

rondo 3:15 PM  

From Minneapolis:
Soul Asylum - Runaway Train

Anonymous 4:25 PM  

Sorry but as an entity that aids and abets mass murder on a regular basis, including NRA in this grid is far more obscene than anything else cited.

leftcoastTAM 5:02 PM  

Don't quite know what to make of this puzzle. Easy theme dealing NOWAY revealer completing themers by tacitly adding WAY to them. Not a great idea but okay.

Then along comes the controversy over RUNATRAIN. Didn't know its slang meaning, and on getting it, wondering... what the %#@! is going on here?

Pretty disgusting if intentional on anyone's part. Am sure that Mr. Shortz would have nothing to do with it. NOWAY!

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