Old newspaper photo sections informally / FRI 1-5-18 / 1980s skiing champ Phil / Spittoon sound / Staple feature of Groucho Marx's you bet your life / Professional wrestling program since 1999 / Southwestern casseroled with cornbread crust

Friday, January 5, 2018

Constructor: Ned White

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Leon AMES (12D: Actor Leon of "The Postman Always Rings Twice") —
Leon Ames (January 20, 1902 – October 12, 1993) was a prolific American film and television actor. He is best remembered for playing father figures in such films as Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) with Judy Garland as one of his daughters, Little Women (1949), On Moonlight Bay (1951), and By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953). The fathers whom Ames portrayed were often somewhat stuffy and exasperated by the younger generation, but ultimately kind and understanding. His most famous role came as DA Kyle Sackett from the film The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). (wikipedia)
• • •

This just isn't special enough. It's solid, adequate, but nowhere near what a *NYT* Friday should be. Maybe less time on vanity (i.e. making sure your full name is in the grid—see 9D, 10D), more time on filling the grid with fresh and interesting answers. The stacks in the NW and SE are just OK, and the long Downs are soporific (WHITE SALES ... HEAD COUNTS ... zzz). If NOT SPAM (?) is your idea of modern and fresh, you can have it back. There's nothing particularly bad about this puzzle. It's easy, so people are going to tolerate it just fine. But there's just too much crosswordesey stuff here for how little wonderful stuff there is. Plural KIRS!? "PTUI!"? ACRO ROTOS OPORTO. BAH. IT'S SAD. Yesterday's puzzle was at least ambitious. There's nothing particularly ambitious or thoughtful here. Without the restriction of a theme, a grid should SizZle. If WHITE SALES are your idea of a sizzling time, well, lucky you, I guess.


I feel bad for anyone who's never heard of ROTOS (i.e. anyone who was like me before I stumbled on that "word" in a crossword a decade or so ago) (63A: Old newspaper photo sections). I feel bad because it is decidedly *not* gettable from crosses. BOOB fits the clue at 52-Down ([Yahoo]) as well if not better than BOOR, and while BOTOS may look ridiculous, so does ROTOS if you've never seen it before. I almost got crushed by a word I don't really like or understand: STANDEE. I wrote in STANDER, because that is how English normally works. I've never gotten STANDEE. You're a bystandER, not a bystandEE. Is there an analogous verb where the doer gets -EE instead of -ER or -OR? TRUSTEE and TUTEE are both very different. -EE seems passive to me. Something's being done *to* you. But if I stand ... I'm a STANDEE? English, man. Anyway, thankfully, HORSR was manifestly wrong, and I corrected my "mistake." Other hiccups: no idea who that AMES guy is (and I have watched "Postman" many, many times—AMES isn't even one of the three principle actors); wanted CACAO BEAN before CACAO TREE; needed many crosses to get NOT SPAM; needed many crosses to get STRAY (1D: Drift) ... even these mistakes are boring.

I don't understand how 6D: "Dancers at the Bar" painter is an acceptable clue when the title of the painting is "Dancers at the Barre" most places I look (and in my memory). I guess translator has discretion, but ... yeah, didn't like that. Because of "Bar"-not-"Barre," I briefly bypassed DEGAS in favor of MANET (?!). Nothing about the IRENE clue suggests the answer will be a first name. Could just as easily have been ADLER (18A: The "she" in the line "To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman"). It was also super duper weird to see RHINEGOLD spelled like that. I speak no German and know jack squat about opera and even I know it (exclusively) as "Das Rheingold." It's fair enough, it's just kinda pfft, which is my general feeling about the whole grid (PFFT being better than PTUI, but not a lot better).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Outside The Box 12:15 AM  

Had the same reaction to “Rhinegold” as Rex. I speak German and it was very weird. Otherwise OK puzzle, but nothing special. Liked “crawdaddy” answer.

BrucieK 12:31 AM  

I’ve been a regular consumer of (and previous donor to) this site for a few years. I write and edit for a living, so I mostly just read here (throwing in my two cents would feel like a busman’s holiday to me). I also typically read the daily post after everyone’s moved on to the next day’s, so pls forgive my delay in this response to LMS’s 7:37 AM comment on Wednesday about grammar and such.

Loren -- I completely agree with you about the “ever-evolving, beautifully dynamic” elasticity of our language; and you’ll never get an argument from me about the silliness of some existing “rules.” (I was trained under the Chicago Manual of Style, which is the reigning champ of constipated, antiquated, outright arrogant style, and I often bend those rules, as both a writer and editor, for better reader engagement. The New York Times style book runs a maddeningly close second.) You cite good examples of this transformation -- e.g., the like/as rule, the will/shall rule, etc. -- and I have a few of my own (e.g., “the difference between”/”the difference among” rule, however valid, has outlived its usefulness). But your suggestion that “inferred” and “implied” are interchangeable is simply incorrect. Implication and inference are two completely different acts -- as different as giving and receiving, or throwing and catching -- and that very difference can have a powerful impact on a sentence. Consider this passage:

“To even the most casual observer, Claudia had implied that she thought Edgar was doing his best to keep the family business afloat; but, as usual, Edgar inferred only criticism from her words -- and, thus, another martial spat broke out.”

See what I mean? I’d even go as far to argue that the fundamental difference between implication and inference lies at the root of at least 50% of the fights that break out on this blog (including the incident that incited this new debate, in which some posters inferred that correcting Annabel’s grammar [whether right or wrong] was some sort of attack). As crossword fans, all of us care about words and, in doing so, need to be mindful that language is forever changing, esp. amid the tumultuous emergence of social media. And we must accept that evolution. But we must also take care to remind each other that some things (like basic word meanings) are set in stone for a reason. So I have to respectfully disagree with your infer/imply comment in what was otherwise a valid observation of our language’s adaptation to the times.

Bruce Kluger

puzzlehoarder 12:33 AM  

This was a good Friday. I did it on my phone which always adds to the time but even on paper I wouldn't call it easy. Every section offered some resistance with the exception of the SW. NGAIO was a gimmie and we virtually just had ACRO. I'll have to file TOTES with ADORBS and PEEPS. 60D had me thinking French for a while and I live in Chicago. I thought the BALLET equipment was spelled barre. I had to change ONADARE to ONALARK and TENNIS to TETRIS. For me the latter makes no more sense with the clue than the former. It seemed as if I found ways to baffle myself and stay engaged so a fun solve for me.

jae 12:37 AM  

Way too easy for a Fri. plus what @Rex said.

Anonymous 12:43 AM  

"Little sandwiches for desert" is the most inexcusably bad clue for OREOS I have ever seen

Anonymous 12:43 AM  

ATTENDEE would be another example of a participle that appears to be falsely passive.

Elaine2 12:45 AM  

About "Rhinegold": first it really annoyed me, but then I realized that the reason the clue was "Part of Wagner's Ring cycle, with "The"" was to cue for English. So then I was less annoyed! Was pretty easy for a Friday.

Anonymous 1:12 AM  

I got stuck in the bottom left corner with boor/rotos. Otherwise, a Wednesday level for sure.

@bruce. hate to break it to you but "But we must also take care to remind each other that some things (like basic word meanings) are set in stone for a reason." could not be more wrong. Here are 20 examples of words we use that had completely different meanings once. There are probably thousands more. Set in stone? Really?


And, I never would have said "I’d even go as far to argue that..." In my day, "I'd even go as far as" would have been followed by a noun. Maybe "I’d even go as far as arguing that..." But, English is just a hobby for me.


Anonymous 1:14 AM  

If you’re standing in a theater, you’re a standee, but if you’re standing in a ballet studio, it’s next to a barre

JJ 1:15 AM  

Yahoo = Boob. I've never heard of someone engaged in boorish behavior being called a yahoo. Just a horrible clue!

Larry Gilstrap 1:19 AM  

Friday enough for me, but I did drive 300 miles today to get home and I'm glad WE MADE IT. Plus, solving this week on an iPhone, particularly yesterday's number/rebus thingy; oh, brother! I'm much more comfortable on the dead tree.

The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena is rich with sculpture and paintings of the collector's favorite Impressionist, so no problem with the DEGAS image of the BALLET dancer. We do yoga in a dance studio with a mirrored wall complete with a bar, and a floor, and a door, and all kinds of English stuff in it. CACAO is devoid of diacritical marks for folks to complain about, I hope.

Each summer we visited my dad's hometown of Racine, MO. After the long drive along Route 66, he would drive our car into the creek and wash it with the spring water using a sponge and a bucket. We kids would turn over rocks in the hope of finding a CRAW DADDY. We used them to bait our hooks for fishing. We should have just eaten the crustaceans and saved time.

The guy puts his name in the puzzle because he can. Why not?

Gulliver 1:25 AM  

Yahoo: filthy creatures with unpleasant habits, resembling human beings.

chefwen 1:33 AM  

Not EASY here, but a lot better than yesterday’s brain teaser.

Like Rex, wanted CACAO bean until it didn’t work. Too bad before ITS SAD. Don’t read mystery books so NGAIO was new to me and that string of letters looked all kinds of wrong. Finally Googled the guy/gal. So a DNF in this camp.

Trombone Tom 1:51 AM  

I really look forward to something substantial and challenging on Saturdays. This was a fine puzzle, as has been noted above, for a Wednesday. I'm sure that is not necessarily on the constructor. But a disappointment to yours truly.

I think @Rex fairly nailed this one.

And TOTES! Really? That's just adorbs.

Anonymous 2:07 AM  

That Northwest corner was brutal for anyone who isn't American and isn't 50. MAHRE? TAMALEPIE? I don't even see OPORTO on a map when I look at Lisbon and go north. Had whoTOBLAME and with the proper noun and Americana heavy corner, I could get no further traction there even after solving the rest of the puzzle. I really wish constructors wouldn't rely so heavily on silly trivia like that. I'm in it for the wordplay, not to spend my time googling things that nobody has cared about for thirty years.

Big Jim 2:10 AM  

Rex is right. Not good enough. Not awful, like yesterday, but poor. I like that Rex is not shy about critiquing his experience of solving - it’s a blog after all, and that’s what bloggers do. And besides, if the puzzle is annoying and disappointing, at least it’s fun to analyze why it was so. He does a good job of that and I enjoy it. Kudos to Rex.

Anonymous 4:17 AM  

Bad clue, but standee is not uncommon as a word. It is more often used to describe a marketing display. Frequently seen at movie theaters, they are those giant free-standing cutouts, often of actors.

Anonymous 4:57 AM  


Lewis 6:04 AM  

1. Significantly quicker than yesterday's for me.
2. Nice puzzle bookends of SMACKDOWN to CRAWDADDY, with the pleasing CAROM, TAMALEPIE, and BEACHCOMB in between.
3. Thought it was a new clue for OREO, but it turns out there have been a couple of "After-lunch sandwich" clues in the past. Still, today's clue had me picturing little dessert canape-like sandwiches and wondering what they were called.

AMITOBLAME? No, I voted. Please do the same in November!

Anonymous 6:39 AM  

Leon Ames is in the 1946 version of Postman...

Anonymous 6:45 AM  

I was looking forward to a kind of tough Friday puzzle to take my mind off something else, and was disappointed that this was a snap to solve. Much easier than Thursday's numerical maze, although I kind of liked the challenge.

I got everything fairly quickly, except was stuck with "boob," rather than "boor," the only mistake.

But too easy for a Friday. We want to sink our teeth into a hard puzzle at the end of the week and wrack our brains, swear,sweat, and maybe even resort to google, if needed.

Phil 7:03 AM  

Started with CAnOn for CAROM.
Think I'm daft? Ask a billiard player. Would be a tough clue/answer for you constructors.

Haha actually cannon.

Jofried 7:06 AM  

I did not in any way find this easy! I got completely stuck in the NW as I know absolutely nothing about wrestling or southwestern casseroles. Alas.

kitshef 7:18 AM  

Good old fashioned DNF at ROTaS/NGAIa. Never heard of either one.

Funnily enough, when I Googled ROTO to figure out what the hell that is, one of the first entries was a Rex column from 2006. In that puzzle, ROTOS (clued as ‘Old newspaper sections’) had been crossed with ‘Cosmetics maker ____ Laszlo’, the answer for with was ERNO. A note to Will Shortz: ROTOS is obscure. Stop crossing it with equally obscure first names.

I really recommend going back and reading that 2006 puzzle writeup (it’s at http://rexwordpuzzle.blogspot.com/2006/11/wednesday-nov-1-2006-paula-gamache.html).

1) It’s amazing to see how long, chatty, and thorough Rex was in those days.
2) The posted completed puzzle is a digital photo of Rex’s pen-and-paper solve.
3) Rex’s solve had an error.
4) The comments section had a grand total of twelve comments – four of which were comments by Rex in response to other comments.

xyz 7:36 AM  

I would never consider OREOS to be dessert

Two Ponies 7:36 AM  

Sorry Ned White, I know you have no say about what day your puzzle is published but not only is it too easy for a Friday but it is boring.
Rex said it best "...even these mistakes are boring."

On the fun side is @Larry Gilstrap (1:19). Some days you really crack me up and today you got me with Save time, Eat your bait. Sounds like a t-shirt.

I don't get the CTA or Tetris clues.

Solo cup? I guess that is like saying Kleenex or Scott towel?

I've seen Apocalypse a dozen times but blanked on Capt. Willard. Then I wondered about other possible clues. That stupid rat movie?

Totes can be thrown in the same rubbish bin as adorbs. Yuck.

Doris 7:39 AM  

From The Great American Songbook (“Easter Parade”): “and you’ll find that you’re in the ROTOGRAVURE,” for which ROTO is the slang. Every Fred and Judy fan hears this every year, no matter one’s age.

Hungry Mother 7:40 AM  

Another trivia contest. I slogged through it, but would prefer more wordplay.

Doris 7:46 AM  

The English National Opera does everything in English, so it’s always “The Rhinegold” when they do their Ring, as well as “The Valkyrie” and, Gott in Himmel, “The Twilight (sometimes ‘Dusk’) of the Gods.”

sf27shirley 7:46 AM  

I'm well over 50 and really dislike daily clues from The Simpsons, which I've never watched. I did like being reminded that it's been a couple months since I last made a TAMALE PIE and put it on the menu for next week.
Perhaps bear in mind that plenty of puzzle solvers are not Gen Xers and appreciate clues referencing art, history and passed phrases. A puzzle with nothing but TV, geek slang and hip hop would be boring.

sf27shirley 7:47 AM  

Sorry for autocorrect changing "passe" to "passed"

Phil 7:48 AM  

Most of Rex’s comments are subjective. He’d be a BOOR to think otherwise but bar for barre is a blatant error and for which should be applogized by the editor. (God help me I have to split infinitives, pleeeze let me oh lawd)

I got ROTO with help from the rotogravure reference in the TIMELESS song 'Easter Bonnet' and I find any complaint hollow, unless you actually think anything before rap is dated

Signed an ungramarian ...not a political sect but with the right team behind me I may just get voted in as US 1

Glimmerglass 7:50 AM  

In your Easter bonnet (with all the frills upon it), “You’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure.” I found the NW pretty hard today.

sf27shirley 7:50 AM  

Chicago Transit Authority oversees the "El" or trains. Using only the letter L in the clue was misleading IMO.

ncmathsadist 7:53 AM  

Ever been on a city bus? You will often see a sign that says, "No standees forward of this line," so the driver has a clear view out his right door.

Birchbark 7:56 AM  

@Kitshef, what interests me about the 2006 @Rex post is his comfortable use of puzzle answers as a platform for meandering observations, anecdotes, etc. Very little reference to whether the puzzle is good or bad -- commentator ON A LARK rather than SMACKDOWN arbitrator.

Phil 7:56 AM  

Good catch, another boner. I believe EL stands for elevated as oppsed to underground subways. L syands for ...?

tb 8:04 AM  

"... and, thus, another martial spat broke out.”

Did Edgar and Claudia begin kickboxing?

Does the English National Opera also present "the Bohemian?" Or "The
Woman Who Strayed" for "La Traviata?"

QuasiMojo 8:23 AM  

Bar/barre none, one of the more maddening Friday puzzles and "it's sad" but I agree totally with Rex today. (Sad only because I wanted to joust with him.) Oh wait, I found one quibble: it's "principal" not "principle" in the context of your statement about Leon Ames, Rex. That wiki entry about him made me laugh too because he is actually better known for playing the father in "Meet Me in St. Louis" if one is tallying such "head counts" of fandom. I watched Postman recently on TCM. It did not hold up as well as I had remembered it from having seen it in college. (Watch "Ossessione" by Visconti which is based on the same book if you want to see a masterpiece.) The novel by James Cain is my favorite though. In fact, I consider it one of the finest American novels. (or should that be "finest OF American novels"?) Where's the New Yorker's Comma Queen when you need her!?

Fund/Donate To? Hello?

Since when is a cookie a sandwich? I mean, I've heard of "ice cream sandwiches" which I suppose is a metaphor or a simile (help me LMS) but an Oreo is hardly one. Can't the constructors go on a Paleo or Vegan diet and STOP using OREO as glue to fill a weak grid?

Rheingold was once marketed as "New York City's largest selling beer." Today we would probably say "biggest selling" or "best selling." The times change. I just wish the Times would change its puzzle editor!

Doris 8:27 AM  

Oddly enough, they don’t. Probably because those titles just don’t translate easily. Some do; some don’t.

ghthree 8:27 AM  

@Two Ponies: In Tetris, if you get your "fill", a column is filled and you lose.
Having grown up in suburban Chicago, I had no trouble with the "L", but agree with Rex that it should have been "EL"
@Doris: I have actually seen "The Bohemian Girl" at the head of a list of Shirmer Scores. This list ison the back of at least two Shirmer scores: one for "Patience" and the other for "Pirates of Penzance" (Both Gilbert and Sullivan).

Irene 8:29 AM  

Really Rex? You didn't like NOT SPAM? When I filled it in, I thought How great to include a phrase in common use that nobody notices.

Granted that this was super easy for a Friday. I thought it was lots of fun.

And by the way: at 6 pm at our house we often say, "Shall we have KIRS?"

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

32 across - bar should be spelled barre !

clk 8:36 AM  

BOOR/ROTOS is a horrible cross, especially since BOOb is a much closer analog to yahoo. Trying to convince me that some obscure song about Easter bonnets makes it a legit clue doesn’t fly.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

This showed up swiftly.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

A sandwich cookie has always been just that.

NYC MTA 8:50 AM  

MTA buses in NYC have a "STANDEE" limit. That's the only way I knew the answer to that off the bat. I have thought many times, like Rex, that "STANDEE" doesn't make any sense in normal usage. But hey, MTA!

clk 8:51 AM  

OREO was a gimme since macaron was clearly too long.

Non Name 8:57 AM  

@clk, It's not obscure to about 60 million baby boomers and their parents.

Debra 9:00 AM  

Wednesday hard but cute. I like ptui.

The game is over at Tetris when it fills up.

evil doug 9:15 AM  

PTUI? *Great* word. Reminds me of that other Rex--Stout--and his unique detective, Nero Wolfe.

Two Ponies 9:18 AM  

Thanks to the folks who filled me in on Tetris. Never played it. I only got it from the crosses.
El would have been a gimmee, L not so much but crawdaddy was obvious so I filled it correctly although I've always said crawdad.

@ kitshef, What you said about the "Old Rex" who used to analyze the puzzles in a constructive way is very true. I learned a lot from him back then and now I can hang with the big dogs.

Nancy 9:18 AM  

SMACK DAMN!!!! I Naticked on SMACKDOWN/aPORTO/MILLARD. I ended up with MILLARD, because I liked SMACK DAMN so much. But it could have been hILLARD or wILLARD -- who knew?

I think SMACK DAMN would be a wonderful name for a pro wrestling program. Like when I get smacked, I say Damn!

Agree that the spelling of RHINEGOLD was ridiculous. So ridiculous that I didn't recognize it and wanted RHINEGirl instead. Fortunately I didn't write it in.

The NW was my DOWNfall -- a section of the puzzle that depends on arcane knowledge and proper names. Here's the problem with arcane knowledge answers, at least for me. I don't feel DOWN when I get Naticked by them. Nor do I feel exhilarated when I guess them correctly. It's always a guess, it's always hit or miss, and in the great scheme of things, who cares?

The rest of the puzzle was OK and kept me reasonably engrossed. (GRoS before GRAS at 55A). Now it's time to put a CRAWDADDY on my TAMALE PIE.

OREOSarenotdessert 9:22 AM  

for the love of god, OREOs are not dessert. I would expand that to include all cookies everywhere. you might have a cookie after you eat, and you may even have a cookie with your ice cream for dessert...but no one anywhere cleans off the table, and is then served OREOs on a platter for dessert. they are best eaten on the run (grab about 3 or 4 and head out the door) or with some milk in front of the TV...but never as formal as an actual bona fide dessert.

they are indeed "sandwiches" the way i am sandwiched into my seat on the subway, but they really aren't "sandwiches" in the way a PBJ or a club is. i get that OREO is a fun xwordy word, but seriously, if you've run out of ways to clue it, you should just twist it, dunk it, and eat it...at 2pm, as a snack.

GILL I. 9:26 AM  

Rats. I woke up too early and was hoping for Friday head scratching. Instead, I get an easy cheesy puzzle. I always like to crow when I finish a Friday without auntie Google but this was BOORing.
What a namefest right off the bat. MAHRE KLEE DEGAS WILLARD NED. They were easy to get thanks to TAMALE PIE but can't we hold the reins a bit?
I don't think I've ever had an OREO for dessert. They were my favorite snack. For dessert I want something like the cherry cobbler I made last night.
Liked LENA Dunham standing on PTUI.
I'd clap with glee if I saw NED clued as "Waking NED Devine." Throw in an O'Shea and an O'Sullivan and I'd be even happier than Pig Finn.
ITS SAD that the clues today are so dull. The answers are OK - nothing really sings. @Rex is spot on.
Speaking of bar/barre... we get (O)PORTO instead of the real Porto. The English like to change the spelling of names to suit their needs. If you ever go, you won't see it spelled with the "O" but you must try their "Tripas a Moda do Porto. They also have good sardines.
I prefer KIR Royale. KIRS plural doesn't do much for me. I like creme de cassis and champagne.

Will now bounce on over to the WSJ to see if I can get some jollies....

Phil 9:28 AM  

Good one @nancy hilarious
I must have a scotch more often before I read these posts

Sir Hillary 9:35 AM  

I finished this thinking it was my fastest Friday ever. Instead it was a DNF, thanks to BOOb / bOTOS. Given the clue "Yahoo" I would choose BOOb over BOOR every time, and I didn't know the lyrics of "Easter Parade" well enough to choose otherwise. Oh well.

I found the clues to DEGAS and BALLET to be oddly duplicative. "Bar" vs. "barre" annoyed me too.

Brief mistake with asALARK, but that was easily fixed.

Bizarre clue for WHO, especially given the otherwise straightforward cluing.

I don't think the puzzle lacks "freshness" and certainly don't think the constructor "signing" his work compromised anything. But overall, this was an unsatisfying experience -- a strange combination of far-too-easy cluing and an absolutely uninferrable (for me) cross in the SW corner. So, thumbs down, unfortunately.

Anne 9:37 AM  

One of the funniest things I ever read was a post on this blog a couple years ago that ended with NGAIO Marsh. I looked it up a couple more times for a chuckle. So it was good to be reminded of it today. Thanks to whomever!

jackj 9:37 AM  

"the title of the painting is "Dancers at the Barre"" so sayeth Rex, however, the actual title of the painting is "Danseuses a la barre" which when anglicized can be "at the barre" or "at the bar", ("bar" being a suitable alternative for "barre" per the Free Dictionary).

Anyone tackling NYT puzzles should be sufficiently knowledgable when seeing a clue referencing "dancers" and "bar" to instantly think "barre" and also to realize that in matters of "bar(res)" there is only one painter who should come to mind and that is DEGAS, (Grigory Gluckmann being a distant second, especially if looking for a nine-letter answer).

Loren Muse Smith 9:40 AM  

Oh wow, Rex. I totally would’ve missed the NED WHITE in the grid. With WILL right there to their left. I don’t know why I get such a kick out of constructors’ names in their puzzles. We need to make up a name for them like egosurf. Lookatmentries. Nah. Wegords. Nah. Whatever we call them – I love it.

I had a dnf at the RHINEGOLD/MAHRE cross. I went “Reine/Maere. Dumb.

Rex – I don’t get why WHITE SALE is not a “sizzling” entry. Hmm. I like both the expression and the event. I’m a sheet snob. And man oh man should you see me make my bed. That fitted sheet has to be stretched and smoothed out like a sheet of ice. The flat sheet has to be perfect, too. And this is every morning (at 3am, by the way, to those who wonder how I can run my mouth so much so early).

Reminds me of the tongue twister - I’m a sheet-slitter. I slit sheets. I’m the slittin’est sheet slitter that ever slit sheets.
Try that one with your 12-year-old son. (If those hyphens are incorrect and thus my meaning is uninferrable – sorry. Email me, and I’ll try again.)

I kept seeing the NEW EWE over in the west.

@Irene – Amen! I was a cocktail waitress and told the bartender I needed two or three KIRS many times.

HEADCOUNT – Yesterday we were talking about the plural of fetus (did I mention I’m pregnant with triplets?) and when things turned to plurals in general, I asked my students, most of whom own cows, why we say forty HEAD of cattle and not forty HEADS of cattle. No one knew. Actually no one cared.

I guess the discerning bajillionaire yacht buyer is interested in the HEAD COUNT.

@Birchbark – you said Rex use to display a “comfortable use of puzzle answers as a platform for meandering observations, anecdotes, etc.” Well. I. Never. Imagine someone meandering off with other observations. Pisses me off, man.

Speaking of which, like @Two Ponies I, too, love @Larry’s posts. I still laugh – laugh, not just smile – at the image of that hamster firing up his exercise wheel at 3am.

@QuasiMojo – I guess the clue is a metaphor, but for me, Oreo sandwiches are always smiles.

@Bruce Kluger – thank you very much for your well-thought-out comment. I’ve replied via email (to spare all those who complain about the length of my puzzle-unrelated treatises but, mystifyingly, read them anyway. Hey – I did give a heads-up and posted it separately. I tried to spare you…) Anyway, if you don’t receive it, could you email me? Just click on my blue name and it’s in my profile. Thanks. Talk to ya soon. Mwah.

NED WHITESALE – a fine puzzle as usual.

Doris 9:50 AM  

“The Bohemian Girl” is an English-language opera by the Irish composer Michael Balfe. It has nothing to do with Puccini’s “La Boheme,” which very roughly translates as “the Bohemian life.”

Glenn Patton 9:54 AM  

If you look at the CTA maps and schedules, you'll find that they refer to the 'L' trains just as the clue does.

Steve 9:59 AM  

No one involved in Creole cuisine uses that word. It is an abomination to those of use who actually cook with crawfish.

Suzie Q 10:11 AM  

I was so proud to write Whale with no crosses.
I felt like a real smarty-pants.

Mohair Sam 10:11 AM  

I'd like to thank Irving Berlin for his help in avoiding a sure natick today. I have never heard the word ROTOgravure anywhere except in his "Easter Parade" song (Hi @Doris and @Glimmerglass). And BOOb just feels better than BOOR for yahoo - with NGAIO and ACR_ that was just natick city down there.

Yesterday we thought we were so smart when others complained about the difficulty. Today we're feeling like a couple of yahoos. Played brutally tough here - missed every corner of our wheelhouse. Don't watch "The Simpsons", never seen "Apocalypse Now", don't know our Portuguese cities, KLEE new to us, we had "who" instead of AMI, and wouldn't believe RHINEGOLD because of the Americanized spelling (jeez, even the American beer is spelled Rheingold). Hence we took forever to fill the NW. Finally remembered NED from earlier crosswords which gave us confidence in RHINEGOLD and we were able to fill.

Wicked puzz for us, but we battled through. I'd love to complain about the PPP, but it only bothers us when it's out of our ken. And seeing that for most of you this was a lark, well, we'll just mumble between ourselves.

mathgent 10:16 AM  

I zipped through it until I stalled in the NW. I called in The Closer and she got TAMALEPIE, finishing it off. I may have had TAMALEPIE at a potluck once, but I don't think that it had a cornmeal crust. I just found a couple of recipes on the internet. Betty Crocker's doesn't have a corn meal topping, the one from NYT does. I do the cooking in the house and I love casseroles. I'm going to make the NYT version on Sunday.

I'm with all of us who thought that it was on the dull side. It needed more sparkle.

I'm still bitter about the Thursday puzzle. I love offbeat puzzles like rebuses or ones where letters are off the grid or imagined in black spaces, for example. But they are still crosswords. Having an entry where clues are supposed to be is contrary to the nature of a crossword puzzle. WSJ calls puzzles like these "variety puzzles" and they come with instructions on the rules because they don't meet the definition of a crossword.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Are you talkin' 'bout mudbugs?! Abomination isn't a word we hear a lot around the pot. "No one involved in Creole cuisine" - that's just wrong.

Ellen S 10:36 AM  

@Zippy, 1:12 AM, an addition to your list of changed words is a phrase which lost all meaning right before our eyes — as recently as early in the Shortz era, “eke out” meant what it has for centuries: “supplement”. But now it means something like “barely makes do” or “manages”, at least in the minds of the constructors or editors.

In the 19th century, families would try to supplement declining incomes from investments in colonial enterprises by taking in work. Didn’t the family in “Little Women” eke out their income by making cut-paper greeting cards? According to the old meaning, old people eke out their Social Security checks by working at fast food joints. According to the new meaning, old people eke out their Social Security checks by eating Wal-Mart dog food.

Warren Howie Hughes 10:37 AM  

"My Beer is RHINEGOLD, the dry beer, think of RHINEGOLD whenever you buy beer, it's not bitter, not sweet, it's a beer drinker's treat, won't you buy extra dry RHINEGOLD Beer!?

Maruchka 10:43 AM  

GRAS is perfectly OK, but 'Boule de Suif' went to my brain and stayed there too long.

NW, as previously reported, was a bear. AM I TO BLAME? If not, then 'who' ..

Otherwise, it was an ok effort. NGAIO ran recently, didn't she? Consumed paperback mysteries and procedurals as a young thing. Hers often had interestingly odd characters. And she became a Dame. LOTR is not the only Kiwi of note.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

L should be El; boor should be boob which makes rotos into botos...which may or may not be a word or some sort of acronym. Oreos is not a dessert; it is a snack, presumably with milk, that is one of life’s guilty pleasures that I partake of on a lark. Tree should be bean which completely wipes out the SE corner, and even though KIRS usually doesn’t reside in red solo cups, we made it through the puzzle, ending with 21 across.

Anoa Bob 10:46 AM  

Surprised 6D DEGAS was not connected to 32A BALLET or vice versa.

Been doing some archived puzzles and I don't think a late-week back then would have clued 34A TREATY with a simple "Accord". A straight-up, unimaginative dictionary definition? Maybe on a Monday but certainly not on a Friday. Yet another example of the difficulty level being ratcheted down to appeal to a wider (and more lucrative) audience.

Hey, at least yesterday's ACR got its salamander on and grew back its tail and we get ACRO at 53A.

It tends to dull the puzzle's shine a bit for me when longer, marquee type themeless entries need a gratuitous S (POC) to fill their slots, as happens here with HEADCOUNT & WHITE SALE.

Another way to clue SOLO CUP?

tb 10:55 AM  

@Evil Doug

Nero Wolfe's word is "pfui."

TubaDon 11:01 AM  

Shirley, thanks for standing up for our generation!

After a slight hiccup on Rheingold, I worked my way around the puzzle clockwise , ending on Bowe.
I agree Boor is weak, but Rotos has been appearing in crosswords for decades, so its not obscure.

RooMonster 11:15 AM  

Hey All !
Not the easiest puz here. That NW was a brutal PPP-fest. Let's count them, shall we? 1A, 17A, 2D, 6D, 7D, 8D, 9D. Plus WOEs TAMALE PIE, KLEE, AMI(TOBLAME), and deciding twixt EARL and seRf. Whew! Had to Goog for both 6D and 17A before wrangling in that corner. Wanted Monet or Manet for DEGAS (one's a picture taker, right?)

Also went with BOOb at 52D, not knowing ROTOS. Wanted BOOf actually, thinking fOTOS sounded good. Other place where I DNFed, SpeNDEE for STANDEE. Writeover, WErehome-WEMADEIT, nTA-CTA. Knew BEACHnOMB wasn't anything though!

My folder is NOT junk, not NOT SPAM. When I get hurt, I DO NOT YEOW, I curse! :-)

Too bad NED didn't clue 9 & 10 Down, Me!


GHarris 11:20 AM  

NW was a total shambles for me. Knew Mahre, got earl and art; all else there was unknowable though I should have gotten Degas but wrote Manet. Bar was also an incorrect clue for 32A, which I got right but should have been barre. Everything else was doable but hardly easy.

QuasiMojo 11:22 AM  

Wean is another word that has changed in meaning over time due to misuse in common parlance. As for boor vs boob, the people who run Yahoo are both. Touché, @LMS.

GHarris 11:23 AM  

Oh, and didn’t know Tetris which crossing totes was completely unfair.

Warren Howie Hughes 11:27 AM  

I EYED the Fact that our FrIday constructor NED WHITE, gave hisself a shout-out at 9DOWN as well as at the beginning of 10DOWN, However, I shan't hold it agin him, as this weekend outing on his part was a WHALE of an offering as well as a TREATY to behold! I hereby truly feel it's eminently deserving of a STANDEE ovation!? :-)

Katzzz 11:27 AM  

Play medium-challenging for me, with none of the proper nouns coming easily. So good Friday workout, from where I solve. But Oreos for dessert? Clue might have been, "sandwich dessert for a lonely single." because serving Oreos to company would be sad -- well, unless they're children.

Amelia 11:38 AM  
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BrucieK 11:38 AM  

@tb I don’t even speak to them anymore. Drama junkies, the both of them.

Z 11:46 AM  

Hmmm, I looked up barre. Interesting that Merriam-Webster says that the first known use is 1936 and yet we have all these people saying BAH to “bar.” It is almost as if, @BrucieK, the stone that word meaning is written in is chalk.

DNF at the WTF ROTO. BAH. Here is MW’s list of words from the same year as ROTOgravure. Constructors, these are not suggested additions to your word lists.

jb129 11:49 AM  

Not enjoying these puzzles lately. I'm so glad I didn't know what PTUI was.

FrankStein 11:50 AM  

Those who bring up The Bohemian Girl and “La Boheme” (sorry can’t figure out accents here) might find it interesting that true sticklers insist that it is “La boheme” in the original Italian title of the opera. They capitalize the first word and proper nouns in titles. But few opera companies list it this way, although the Met used to.

sf27shirley 11:51 AM  

If it didn't have a cornmeal crust, it wasn't a *real* tamale pie!

old timer 12:05 PM  

OREOS actually are little sandwiches. Grownups don't eat them for dessert but many a kid has found OREOS in his lunchbox along with a sandwich and some fruit.

DNF because of the NW. Had DEGAS of course, and eventually changed "who to blame" to AMITOBLAME which is a better fit for the clue. Just did not know Phil MAHRE. Knew "ass" would not be there but did not see CAN in its place and certainly did not see RHINEGOLD. Had to look that one up.

Road Apple Red 12:10 PM  

Speaking of fops (31D) get a load of that picture of Manilow!
He's prettier than both my ex-wives...combined.

Kimberly 12:11 PM  

Having been increasingly called out for excessive negativity, Rex is...

... doubling down?

I’m not sure if Rex knows how telling this is: “It's easy, so people are going to tolerate it just fine.”

Having seen him bash puzzles who’s tricks confounded him, and knowing he seems to thrive on brag-rights over solve times, I think we’ve hit the crux: he wants them easy, but just hard enough that he thinks he’s smarter than the rest of the solvers out there. He projects that desire on to the rest of us. He thinks we want it easy, too.

I’m feeling kind of sad now, in a vaguely uneasy way.

Harsh critique never makes anyone look smart or superior. In fact, much like bullying, it simply means you’ve relegated your life to being a side player in someone else’s show. In Rex’s case, he’s clearly happy being Will’s background noise.

E Gray 12:14 PM  

Rex, “principal” actors, ahem...

Aketi 12:21 PM  

For are you desert purists in here, you clearly do not understand the power of the cookie as a creative force in pie crusts, let alone many other desserts that beg for a touch of crunched up OREOs or Vanilla Wafers or my Great Aunt Effie’s addition of crunched up peanut brittle to the whipped cream she used to ice her angel food cakes.

It took me a nonsecond to find someone online who posted a collection 50 desert recipes with a base of OREOs. I think her OREO and cookie dough pizza recipe might be one of the more heretical violations of the dessert rules:

Elsewhere, I found quickly found one of my favorite deserts, crème brûlée, with crushed OREOs:

But for M&A, there might be an even better sacrilege that he can commit with that combines cinnamon OREOs with cheesecake
<a href=“https://blahnikbaker.com/oreo-cinnamon-rolls

(sorry the html links aren’t accepting my instructions, can’t figure it out)

Masked and Anonymous 12:21 PM  

From now on, whenever someone asks M&A for his real name, the reply might just have to be Willard Whitesales. Oh, and … staff weeject pick = NED, of course.

Desperation hotliners:
* NOTSPAM. Someone has a button for that?!? Well, M&A has a bigger day-um bUtton, and mine Works … [snort]
* STANDEE. Sounds made up, but has the Patrick Berry Usage Immunity, sooo … NOTSPAM.
* ACRO. Oh, man … Just when a body has converted everything over to ACR...
* OPORTO/RHINEGOLD. M&A went with RHINEGELD/OPERTO and eased on down the road.
* PTUI. Has one of the only two U's, that were ptui-ed out in this puzgrid.
* GRAS. Is GRAS-ASS thereby a big putdown in French quarters? M&A is considerin callin his button the GRAS-ASS BUTTon.
* KIRS lookin at U, kid. Gets at minimum a short burst, from the GRAS-ASS BUTTon.

Some faves: WEMADEIT. BEACHCOMB. DONATETO [sounds Italian]. SECRETWORD. BADGUY. CRAWDADDY. Lotsa good stuff, to go with the GOTSPAM stuff.

Thanx for the themeless (middlin-difficult) fun, Mr. Whitesales.
Har. Funny comments from all over the Blog and Comment Gallery, today. Thanx, all U real smart folks. Means a lot, to shut-ins sittin vigilantly by their GRAS-ASS BUTTons.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


Loren Muse Smith 12:22 PM  

@E Gray - [pause ... deep breath...].

Never mind.

Kimberly 12:27 PM  


“And, I never would have said "I’d even go as far to argue that..." In my day, "I'd even go as far as" would have been followed by a noun. Maybe "I’d even go as far as arguing that..." But, English is just a hobby for me.”

And yet he didn’t write “as far as.” He wrote “as far to.” If you’re going to pick nits, please pick them carefully. And in my day, it was “so far as to” followed by a verb. Which is awkward and deserved to die an antiquated death.

That said (and oh how I hate the overuse of those two words as a segue), phrase construction is radically different than (or “from” depending on your particular era) word definition. For example, watching the wantonly ignorant evolution of the word “decimate” makes me want to punch semi-literate sci-fi aithors in the earlobes. Now even news anchors use the word wrong. Hurricanes don’t decimate. They’re not that mathematically discerning.

Infer/imply conflation deserves the same wrath.

This is why this grammar game is dangerous. Nobody wins and we all look like persnickety assholes.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

RHINEGOLD is not "fair". It's just wrong! The play is "Othello"; the opera is "Otello. The opera is "RHEINGOLD".

"Bar" is not misdirection. It's just wrong. BALLET does not take place "next to a bar" or barre, exercise does.

Gene 12:33 PM  

Agree it was easy fit a Friday. But boo to the English professor for writing "principle" when he meant "principal" 😅

Loren Muse Smith 12:37 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. R 12:50 PM  

Gosh, I hope it was a marITal spat and not a marTIal spat.

I loved this comment anyway

Mr. Benson 12:50 PM  

I guess I'm lucky I'm not cultured enough that "bar" would somehow signal Manet to me in a way that "barre" does not. I had the D and filled in DEGAS based on that.

Aketi 12:52 PM  

@LMS, you outdid yourself with today’s avatar (as well as the banned word one a few days ago). Yesterday you pretty much described what my sister goes through woth her kids even though their accents and grammatical errors are likely to be different.

I finally tossed my mothers recipe for TOMALE PIE this year. It was such a staple of my youth, I have never heard of a CRAW DADDY before, just CRAW DADs.

@Nancy, haha you’d be barred from the dojo I go to for using that language on the mat. Although SMACK DAMN is pretty mild stuff compared to what spurted out of my mouth when a newbie wrestler did a trial class and decided to neck crank me so hard my neck cracked. I was given a pass on that transgression since neck cranks are completely illegal in tournaments, let alone training in class. That guy was both a BOOR and a BOOb and didn’t last long. Fortunately there are other guys in the class who weigh more than the 190 lb he weighed that taught him some BJJ manners though demonstration. He definitely was not equal to their SMACK DOWNs (followed by chokes, arm bars and wrist locks).

Aketi 12:56 PM  

@Dr R, I obviously also loved the Martial Spat.

Aketi 1:07 PM  

@M&A I left the BUN that should have followed the cinnamon out of my first post. Do try to keep yours warm today. Having a little extra GRAS on them does help in this weather. Gotta face the weather to get some new scratching posts for our BAD ASS FAT CAT who has decided that the freshly recovered chairs were a present just for his claws.

Pete 1:07 PM  

@Kimberly - Do you get equally apoplectic about people referring to a SSN as a 9 digit number as you do about people using decimate to mean destroy? If not, and I doubt you do, please explain to me how a number has fingers or toes, because that's what digit means in its original and invoilate meaning.

If you're comfortable talking about two, three or nine digit numbers quit complaining about people using decimate to mean destroy, as they have for hundreds of years.

JC66 1:08 PM  

ROTO went in automatically for me. I think I've seen it in crosswords many time over the years. Can someone with access to cruciverb.com please check and let us know ROTO's usage history?

MAZEL TOV! When are you due?

@ Warren Howie Hughes


I think you may be mistaken


Ettie Mae O'Leary 1:21 PM  

I have no way of proving any of this but I sincerely believe that the word "standee" has been around forever, and is totally legitimate, but made-up words like "tutee" which is used often in crosswords has not and isn't. I did a google book search of uses of the word standee and it goes back well into the 19th century, no doubt even further back. But I could find no reference to "tutee" prior to 1968.

Blackeyedsusan 1:23 PM  

Way back when, the good nuns would have us chant grammar rules. One that stuck in my head is "Different is always followed by from." Even these many years later my mind does a tiny mental jerk at "different than," which is used about 99% of the time. Wherever did that rule come from? Probably the same place that said I shouldn't have ended that sentence with from - or not used a sentence fragment. By the way, I would say "so" far as arguing, not "as" far as arguing. Is that another nunism?

Carola 1:27 PM  

I thought it was a lot of fun: BEACH COMB, ON A LARK, CRAWDADDY, TAMALE PIE, and one of my favorite operas.

I also smiled at HEAD COUNT x WE MADE IT: when driving my brother to college, my dad didn't check to see if Mom was back in the car - in the back seat behind the hanging rack of clothes - before pulling away from the rest stop. Fortunately, he glanced in the rear view mirror at the last second before pulling out onto the interstate and saw a wildly gesticulating lady at the top of the ramp.

Me, too, for BOOb. I didnt think bOTOS looked right, but never thought of ROTOS, though I've heard of rotogravures.

Me not too: at our house OREOS have appeared on the table, and on a proper serving plate, as a dessert, eaten by children and grown-ups alike.

Teedmn 1:28 PM  

I was humming along on this one, with the entire east side filled in nicely. I started my way from the bottom back into the west when I came to a halt in both the far SW and far NW. 15 blanks in the NW and 12 in the SW with no way to break the jam.

___ TO BLAME - I couldn't get past thinking "who TO BLAME" even though WHO is in the grid already. And _C__N State - Rhode Island must have a lot of oaks to be named the aCorN state was my thought. With those two stopping up my mind, I couldn't finish. I went off to get my lunch and I sat there eating and staring. I know I've made NGAIO's acquaintance before (and complained bitterly about it too) but it wasn't until I committed to that one that I saw OCEAN, re-entered ORBIT and made the correct choice of BOOR after BOOb went in first. Okay, can we repeat that success in the NW?

I finally had an aha with TAMALE PIE - that meant my guess of Erte at 5D was wrong. I realized there was another 3 letter word for "heinie" that wasn't ASS. and I pulled MAHRE out of my crosswordese hat. Yay, not a DNF, but not an easy Friday either.

Thanks, NED WHITE for not making me a yahoo today!

semioticus (shelbyl) 1:44 PM  

The best review for this puzzle is contained within it. IT'S SAD. And the answer to AMITOBLAME is yes, dear constructor.

Look at that NW corner. MAHRE-KLEE-DEGAS-OPORTO-WILLARD-NED crossing a weirdly spelled RHINEGOLD. SPF/FTUI/FOPS on the East side. BOOR/ACRO/ROTOS/NGAIO on SW. If your themeless is filled with such garbage, just redo it man. You don't have any constraints.

This could have been a great puzzle. There are some great entries in it. BEACHGOLD on top of CACAOTREE on top of CRAWDADDY is a really nice combo, for example. But when you feed me a lot of junk food first, I cannot appreciate the meal as a whole.

Oh, and how many plurals can you fit into a puzzle? KIRS, OREOS, ROTOS, WHITESALES, HEADCOUNTS, FOPS. 6, apparently, and none of those answers are great so that they can redeem themselves.

Some good clues to go with some bad ones. Just a mediocre job at best for my taste.

GRADE: C, 2.6 stars.

JC66 1:49 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
semioticus (shelbyl) 1:50 PM  

But I have to say this: I don't remember seeing @LMS dislike a puzzle here. Not once. God I wish I had that positivity sometimes.

JC66 1:52 PM  

I almost forgot. Thanks @kitshef for posting the link to @RP's 2006 blog. Comparing it to his recent blogs is astounding.

Dick Sward 1:53 PM  

Well said, @Kimberly! Rex had turned into a sad, almost Trumpian figure, albeit a relatively harmless one.

Brent Craft 1:56 PM  

@semioticus your autocorrect must have screwed up. You must have typed "lack of discerning taste" and it corrected to "positivity."

Joe Bleaux 2:11 PM  

Well stated (and obviously well intentioned). Thank you, Bruce.

Joe Dipinto 2:17 PM  

Rhinegold, Schminegold, it's "Das Rheingold". A bar is still a bar, even when there's no one drinking there. But a bar is not a barre, a house is not a homey, and how dare the NYT puzzle imply that Neil DeGrasse Tyson is fat when he's in France?!

It's all queit bizar.

Blackbird 2:32 PM  

I found this puzzle difficult, not easy. But Rex's bafflements were my gimmes. "Standee" has nothing to do with "bystander", duh. A standee is someone who buys a standing only ticket to a sold out show. That's what the standing room only is - the "other" SRO in crosswordese. And roto shuld be familiar to anyone who ever heard the old chestnut, "Easter Parade", by Irving Berlin: "And you'll find that you're in the rotogravure" -- such a big deal, having one's photograph, with Easter bonnet, in the newspaper. "Roto" is short for rotogravure.

Yes, "Rheingold" is correct if you are speaking German -- "Das Rheingold", but, alas, Rex and those who also objected to "Rhinegold", "Rheingold" is translated in English to "Rhinegold", "The Rhinegold". So, all props to Ned White on this clue and answer.

I immediately slotted in "Irene" for the "she" to Sherlock Holmes, would not have thought of "Adler" first. Why? Because of the emotional intensity the "she" has. "She" is Irene to Sherlock the lover.

More gimmes: 19A, "Art", because the three letter word fits Fellini's statement perfectly. If you are creative, you know, as Fellini knew, that all art is autobiographical. 28A, "Oreos". 47D, "Ngaio". Mystery readers would have that name in their wheelhouse. 23D, "Walla". Only Northwest city that has a word repeated as its name I ever heard of is Walla Walla. Is there any other? 51D, Tobey.

I agree with Rex re 32A. Ballet is an activity next to a barre, not bar. If you want to give Ned White some leeway, a barre is a bar. Although, if you want to be totally accurate, ballet warm-ups are performed with a barre, next to a barre. Ballet proper does not use a barre.

Never heard of, not in my wheelhouse: 41D, Top Gear. Whatever. 58A, Ocean State is the Rhode Island nickname. Okay, I'll remember that if it ever comes up in a crossword again. 8D: Captain Willard. Never saw the movie. 2D: Mahre. 12D: "Ames", actor Leon Ames. Saw the movie, didn't remember the actor's name. 32D: "Bowe". Don't know diddly about boxing.

Oops write-ins: 10A: Clue was "Cetus". I had "Shark". Correct answer was "Whale". If you had the 11D answer, "Horsse", either shark or whale would have worked for a while anyway. And an almost oops, 62A, "Cacao tree". Wanted cacao bean, but I had the Tobey of 51D Tobey Maguire, and bean didn't work. I thought the cacao plant was a shrub, because it is small, but indeed it a tree.

DrBB 2:41 PM  

I for one had no trouble getting ROTOS from the crosses: BOOR is a better fit than BOOB ("yahoo" is about crass behavior, not lack of intelligence), so that was an easy switch when I saw the highly unlikely "BOTOS." And sure, ADLER would fit if you didn't have a single vertical cross to work with but come on, Rex, it's a total gimme either way.

Other than that, kinda blah, I agree, except for "The" RHINEGOLD which is not the name of anything Wagner ever wrote and rises beyond "meh" into active dislike, rotten tomato throwing, and otherwise BOORish behavior.

Ralph 2:41 PM  

AMES isn't even one of the three principal actors. Not principle, Rex.

Blackbird 2:43 PM  

Response to JJ: Jonathan Swift, in his book "Gulliver's Travels", described a group of animals resembling human beings tht he encountered as "Yahoos". They were filthy, stupid, boorish. Kind of like some humans, he wanted his readers to understand.

Non 3:09 PM  

@Anon 8:41 HA!

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

hi @kimberly. all good thoughts. thanks for replying. I think the problem was "as far to..." It wasn't really a nit, as much as a comment on the whole area of "as far as, so far as to, insomuch as, etc." I believe "as far to" might have been a typo. I had a look at Bruce's web page. He's a pro. Me? Just a product of a last-century, Jesuit education.

Not sure why you don't like decimate. i googled "decimate meaning" and here is what popped up:

kill, destroy, or remove a large percentage or part of.
"the project would decimate the fragile wetland wilderness"
kill one in every ten of (a group of soldiers or others) as a punishment for the whole group.

better be careful out there. some of those sci-fi writers have light sabers!

antiquated death?


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Anonymous 3:56 PM  

Triplets! Awesome! Congrats!

Joe Dipinto 4:37 PM  

@Rosa -- do you think Dr. Azeez can help Edgar and Claudia patch things up? Also, is he the same person as the fictional character in "A Passage To India", wherein he spelled his name Dr. Aziz?

Hungry Mother 4:39 PM  

Whatever happend to “was graduated?”

Whatsername 4:55 PM  

I've heard of crawfish, crayfish and mud bugs, and I used to help my daddy seine crawDADS out of our pond, but I've never in my life known one to be called a craw daddy. Meh.

RooMonster 4:55 PM  

Won't if I don't want my ex-lover back? Is there a counter-spell if she puts a spell on me?

@LMS, was that just a reference to something, or are you really pregnant? With triplets, no less! Holy cow!


Loren Muse Smith 4:56 PM  

Hey – I was just kidding about having triplets. I’m 56. And tired.

@Brent Craft. I know, right? I’m the first to admit I have no discerning taste. I even like those fake cheese slices wrapped in plastic. And Pringles.

@Kimberly – I clicked on your name but there was no email, so I have to post it here. I followed your comments on the phrase construction thing. I took it that you have more patience for phrase construction kinds of errors and less patience, well, wrath, for words that are “misused.”

So my question is this – Ok, fine. I’ll agree to try to stick to The Rules of grammar and word meaning. Now. Whose rules do we use?

I (not surprisingly) got into a bit of a dust up a while back on another site after someone took someone to task for an its/it's goof. A commenter was fussing about people not following The Rules and in his message, he said I could care less about blah blah blah. I asked him that same question: Whose rules do we follow? Do we follow a more pedantic list of rules which would insist it’s could not care less or do we dial it back a bit and accept the ever-popular version he used, could care less? I didn’t hear back.

My point was that even those with the strongest opinions about what is right and wrong will never agree on the rules.

You wrote this about Rex this morning:

Having seen him bash puzzles who’s tricks confounded him…

Among your rules that include a strict definition of decimate and a distinct difference between imply and infer, am I to understand that you're willing to be more accepting of the who’s/whose distinction, which has also kind of started to disappear? Many (not me) would see this as a “wantonly ignorant evolution,” too. And problematic:

I saw a man who’s juggling rocks.
I saw a man whose juggling rocks.

“Proper English” sounds great on paper, but it’s not as easy as it looks.

Two Ponies 5:15 PM  

@ LMS, I thought you were kidding with the head count/triplet joke but I did do a double take. You have quite a poker face sometimes.
Thanks for setting us straight.

JC66 5:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 5:42 PM  

IDONOT get this puzzle
It’s not true
It’s bullshit
I did not get it
I did naht

Anyway, how’s your sex life?

retired guy 5:44 PM  

The clue for 17A says: Part of Wagner's "Ring" Cycle, with "The". So no complaining about the English -- do you think it should be The Rheingold?

As for 63A:

In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I'll be the proudest fellow in the Easter parade.
On the avenue, Fifth Avenue, the photographers will snap us,
And you'll find that you're in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet,
And of the girl I'm taking to the Easter parade.

I'd say Irving Berlin is fair game.

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

Every other comment has been about that Easter Bonnet. Don't you guys read the comments before you post?
Talk about beating a dead horse.
Roto, Irving Berlin, we got it the first dozen times.

Nancy 6:06 PM  

Oh, no, Loren! (4:56 p.m.) Oh, no, no, no! The distinction between "who's" and "whose" has not "started to disappear". There may be people who don't know the difference, but that is not the same thing at all. Nor do I agree that Proper English "is not as easy as it looks." If you can substitute the phrase "who is" you use "who's" (who's there?) and if it's a possessive (whose book is this?) you use "whose". Pretty simple, I'd say.

And don't get me started again on the "imply"/"infer" mix-up. (Thanks @Bruce Kluger for joining me on the barricades earlier today and saying pretty much what I said yesterday: they are two distinct words that mean pretty much the exact opposite of each other.)

I admire what you do, Loren. I could never do it myself. I understand that the kids you teach are not privileged, don't come from striving upper-middle class families, struggle every day with difficulties most of us can't even imagine, and are certainly not Harvard-bound. I understand that the fine points of grammar, vocabulary and usage may not be anything that, alas, the majority of them will ever need. But regardless of their circumstances, the language itself remains important. If you, a teacher, won't defend it, Loren, who will?

FWIW, I never correct people when they make a mistake. I do believe that it's extremely rude to do so, as well as a great way to lose friends. But when a friend who's quite well educated asks: "Are you going to lay down on the grass?", I cringe. I say nothing, but I cringe all the same.

(If he were my student, though, then I definitely would correct him.)

Aketi 6:15 PM  

@lms, I always break rules and today I might as well go for one more. I didn’t think you were really having triplets but I HAVE worked with mothers than you who had babies. The mother of triplets I worked with once was merely in her early 40s.

GILL I. 6:25 PM  

@Aketi...What kind of ignoramus are you? "but I HAVE with mothers than you who had babies?" What kind of sentence is that? You should have been sent to the principles office when you were in school.

Joe Dipinto 6:48 PM  

@Nancy 6:06 - Well-observed and well-stated.

Anonymous 7:28 PM  

Rotos is short for rotogravures, a term for photos that is not used today. Most famously the word is used in “Easter Parade” written by Irving Berlin (“You’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure”).

Also, Rex, it’s PRINCIPAL not PRINCIPLE. Ptui!

sanfranman59 7:39 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 5:00 4:03 1.23 88.3% Challenging
Tue 4:29 5:35 0.80 9.5% Easy
Wed 5:45 5:57 0.97 49.6% Medium
Thu 17:44 10:28 1.69 97.1% Very Challenging
Fri 14:41 11:42 1.25 79.4% Medium-Challenging

Finished with the error Rex highlighted in his comments. I have ROTOS up in my head somewhere, but couldn't dig it up ... and BOOb fits the clue well (intentional misdirection by the constructor, I assume).

TomAz 8:54 PM  

That O in the NGAIO/ROTOS intersection was the last letter I put in. I looked at it, and I held my breath and put in an O, thinking well it's a shot. I was surprised when it worked.

But the R? I got BOOR off the B. I haven't heard BOOb used as an insult since I watched black and white TV reruns in the 70s.

Most of what I know about opera I learned from crosswords, and yet even I did a doubletake at RHINEGOLD. but CRAWDADDY was the real cluster**** today. There was a decent rock magazine called CRAWDADDY back in the 70s but I have never heard a grown adult refer to the etouffe (sorry, alt-130 does not work on this laptop keyboard) ingredient in that way.

This was OK. It was really easy which was good because I had a busy day.

Anonymous 10:53 PM  

@Nancy - if you have the time for it, read the two "I saw a man..." sentences at the end of LMS's post, and keep reading them until you understand that both of them are grammatically correct. When (if?) you get there, you might have a chance of understanding the point she was making.

Georgia 9:33 AM  

Tetris is (was?) a Nintendo Game Boy game popular in the early 90's. Blocks fall from the top of the screen in random order and increasing speed and if the player doesn't place them properly below they "fill" to the top and game is lost. I was a mom of 2 boys, obsessing over it when I finally got my turn when they were fast asleep.

Kimberly 12:35 PM  

@LMS - you are absolutely correct on catching me out on “who’s.” I have a tendency to make phonetic errors when typing conversationally. I think sometimes it’s because I feel like I’m speaking and am not paying attention to anything other than the sound of language. It’s odd because I’m too old to have learned to read phonetically, but my brain does it anyway. It’s inexcusable, and I do know the difference, but I often type the wrong word. In manuscripts I know I’m “writing” and am less likely to make those errors; in casual typing I screw up every time. It’s worse in chat, and I am teased often by friends. My head is hung in appropriate shame. The irony is not lost on me.

@zippy - yes the definition has changed, but it irks me. It’s just personal. “Deci” is a tenth. Ergh. There was a time when “access” was a noun. It took me years to adapt. Right now the thing that drives me craziest is fewer vs. less. The conflation of the two seems ubiquitous lately.

Philology and linguistics are, to me, fascinating sociological studies. The evolution of language is both glorious and painful. Unfortunately, much evolution seems born of misuse. Ignorance wins more often than not, and I am not immune to its power.

Note: autocorrect changed the possessive its to it's three times before I got it to stick. Perhaps the computer gods are partially to blame for homonym-related errors in these types of fora. Forums? Evolution sucks.

Unknown 12:56 AM  

Yes, yes, yes. Well said.

US 2:18 PM  

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Unknown 3:10 PM  

Sir, thank you so much for you genuine spell,my wife is back!!!

Thank you sir for your genuine spells. This is really incredible, and I have never experienced anything like this in my life. Before i met you Sir, i have tried every all probable means that i could to get my wife back, but i actually came to realize that nothing was working out for me, and that my wife had developed lot of hatred for me.. I thought there was n o hope to reunite with my ex wife and kids. But when i read good reviews about your work sir, i decided to give it a try and i did everything that you instructed me and i Trusted in you and followed your instructions just as you have guaranteed me in 48 hours, and that was exactly when my wife called me.. We are more contented now than ever. Everything looks perfect and so natural! Thank you so much for your authentic and indisputable spells. Thanks Sir for your help. If you need help in your marriage of broken relationship,please contact Dr Jack right now for urgent help. Okakagbespelltemple@gmail.com Or Okakagbespelltemple@yahoo.com

Call him now +2348138289852

Diana, LIW 8:02 PM  

Oh Happy Day

Thanks to Burma Shave's poetry, none of us have to go chasing after our ex-husbands/wives/lovers/dogs

One whiff of his odes and the hardest of hearts will retu7rn to you. This is guaranteed.

For the last 3 years no one has lost a loved one.

@Burma - keep it up. Congratuations!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Teedmn 9:05 PM  

As my tribute to Burma Shave's Anniversary, I present my "best of", collected over the past year, winnowed down from the 36 I had set aside:

January 19 2017

In the VICAR’S OLDAGE the SEX-CAM TOLL was terrific,
with his VCR he’d PLAYAT making his SMUTTY record last.
After the SHOCKS, the POPE said, “YES,LET’S call it HORRIFIC,


January 20 2017


It’s a PITTI that NONE of the INANITY is SINCERE,
you’re ENTICEd, and off to the HOTELROOM you go,
there’s an EPITHET for that CAD who calls you “DEERE”


April 3 2017


I ITCH and LONG for RACHAELRAY, IMEAN I GREW to really dig her,
and I’LLBETHERE to call her BAE, and check out her BALLPARKFIGURE.


April 29 2017




May 22 2017


The S.P.C.A. told the OLD aardvark,
“On this SHIPLOAD you’d LOVETO, but can’t.”


May 23 2018


I ADORE ETHER, as a NONPC OGRE, a PIG of a man.


May 24 2017


I’m PSYCHED out that GINA RUNSHOTANDCOLD with trouble,
and ALLTAPPEDOUT and AGASP O’ER her PHONY gestalt,
the action, IMNOTSURE, but IMHO it’s her ASPHALT.


June 28 2017


SOICOULDCALL myself her beau.
I’d DEWAR a service and UDDER, “IWANTYOU


July 7 2017


IRENE from the NAILSALON said tonight,
“The BESTBUY in polish is ROSERED,
you’re SAFER INVIOLATE instead.”


July 18 2017


ISEE Santa is not HESITANT - never for STAIRCASEWIT he STALLS.


July 24 2017


'CAUSE SHE had no cash,
it AIDED her dine ENDASH.


November 5 2017


if the PATHFINDERS haven't had DRIVERS'ED.


October 14 2017


reciting LOGARITHMs from his LEFTBRAIN stem.
His IDEA was to AMAZE like a MAGUS BRAINiac,


November 1 2017


Me dyslexic? OH,COMEON, IHOPENOT such MAD hysteria,
it’s INANE to go CRACKERS over POUTY women,
but I’m ALL KEYED up to MAP out her NOGOAREA,


November 18 2917


they had no IDEA who MITES SEE their HARE.


December 22 2017


ACOUPLE of guys from the LEGIONOFDOOM wail,
“I HAVEA thing for DIDO’s LOCO vice.”
“UH,OKAY”, she said, “my ASS,ETS for sale,


Diana, LIW 11:06 AM  

I have a t-shirt from the Minnesota Crossword Tournament that says on the back, "A word-nerd smackdown making crossword solving a spectator sport." (missing comma, if you want it, is from the t)

So did I get SMACKDOWN? (RIGHT - why do you think I'm asking? Of course not.)

I mean, I go to crossword tournaments, not whatever the other kind of smack down is - wrestling? Boxing? Name calling? Poetry writing?

BTW - I'm already signed up for ACPT - are you going? The Minny Tourney is fun too - just ask $Rondo.

Lady Di

Diana, LIW 11:15 AM  

My hilarious and informative post was eaten by the gerbils.

Aargh! It was SMACKDOWN - a word used to describe the Minnesota CW Tournament - (a word-nerd smackdown, according to my t-shirt).

A fun tourney - just ask @Rondo.

Sign up for ACPT too - I did. See you in the winners circle.

Lady Di

thefogman 12:10 PM  

I don't know anything about ROTOS but I managed to get it via the crosses somehow. That SW corner was tough but so were the other three corners - and the middle section too. In my haste to finish, I had toobAD before ITSbAD and that was my only mistake. Yes, ITSSAD. AMITOBLAME? Perhaps. But it's Friday and aside from one little gaffe, WEMADEIT!

Burma Shave 12:16 PM  


IT’SSAD for EWE, but EWE CAN SEE it’s paramount,
I’d say, “PTUI, WHO said that STRAY HEADCOUNTS?”


BS2 12:22 PM  

And with that, year 4 begins.

rainforest 2:00 PM  


For ages you've regaled with your versing.
Three years of your poems disbursing.
1096*, you've missed nary a one.
Safe to say, you'll not be outdone
Burma Shave
*leap day in 2016

Way to go, @Burma Shave

Pretty easy puzzle *for a Friday*, and maybe not sizzling, enjoyable none the less. I agree that STANDEE and "attendee" are weird. I suppose absentee is also questionable.
If I sit, am I a "sitee"?

I remember Groucho sayin "Say the secret word and divide $100". Man, he was funny.

The North and South stacks were pretty good, and the whole puzzle went down smoothly like a nice TAMALE PIE.

Diana, LIW 2:20 PM  

@Foggy - roto is short for "rotogravure" - made famous by the song, Easter Bonnet:

In your easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady in the easter parade.
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over,
I'll be the proudest fellow in the easter parade.
On the avenue, fifth avenue, the photographers will snap us,
And you'll find that you're in the rotogravure.
Oh, I could write a sonnet about your easter bonnet,
And of the girl I'm taking to the easter parade.

Back when photos were new and all the rage, roving photographers used to snap random photos on the street and then have them published in a section of the paper called the rotogravure.

Lady Di

eastsacgirl 2:44 PM  

Hand up for BOOb instead of BOOR even though I did leave the "r" in there and just guessed at ROTOS. Other than that, super easy for a Friday in my opinion. Have a huge Crawfish Festival out in my neck of the woods but haven't heard them called Crawdaddy's for a while. Used to catch them out in front of my house in the ditch when I was a kid.

thefogman 3:03 PM  

Bravo Burma!
And thank you very much Diana, LIW for the detailed explanation.

rondo 3:51 PM  

@D,LIW – I had my hand on my nerd-word SMACKDOWN tee shirt this morning, but opted for another. The MN Xword is a fun tourney – anyone who can make it there really ought to try, even ONALARK. Probably not as daunting as the bigger ones out east, and maybe those aren’t as daunting as one might think, from what I’ve heard. A good time to be had by all.

To the puz. Kinda easy but I did have to change my ertE to KLEE and the mTA to CTA and TOBie to TOBEY. Thanks to a work bud I knew of the series TOPGEAR. A painter of (BALLET) dancers? WHO else but DEGAS? Marid GRAS next week, followed by V-day.

And so today LENA makes the puz, but no Ole nor Sven.
Ole: “LENA! LENA! Pack yer bags! I yust von da lottery!”
LENA: “Vell, Ole, should I pack summer clothes or vinter clothes?”
Ole: “Oh heck, LENA, pack ‘em all. Yer outta here!”

I guess the SECRETWORD(s) for today would be Burma Shave.

I’ll pick a different LENA, as in Horne, for today’s yeah baby.

IDONOT mind a puz like this.

BS3 5:28 PM  

I started this nonsense ONALARK three years ago with hopes of making it through a year. 1096 days and more than 1150 verses later it somehow continues. WEMADEIT! Thank you for the recognition and especially to @teedmn for the anthology. I’d forgotten that some of them are not so bad. We’ll SEE how long it goes.
(Still no calls about the book rights nor from the Guinness people.)

strayling 8:13 PM  

NW corner gave this non-USian a SMACKDOWN. I got my nickname and not much else. WHOTOBLAME? ... well, me for sticking to that answer far too long.

WEMADEIT was nice, makes me want to read Larry Niven's "Known Space" books

leftcoastTAM 9:07 PM  

Thanks, BS, for all the fun.

leftcoastTAM 1:29 AM  

@Anonymous 10:01 PM--I feel your pain. Maybe getting out more would help, but what really helps is staying in and doing a lot more of these puzzles. It takes a lot of time and persistence.

Unknown 6:20 AM  

Sir, thank you so much for you genuine spell,my wife is back!!!

Thank you sir for your genuine spells. This is really incredible, and I have never experienced anything like this in my life. Before i met you Sir, i have tried every all probable means that i could to get my wife back, but i actually came to realize that nothing was working out for me, and that my wife had developed lot of hatred for me.. I thought there was n o hope to reunite with my ex wife and kids. But when i read good reviews about your work sir, i decided to give it a try and i did everything that you instructed me and i Trusted in you and followed your instructions just as you have guaranteed me in 48 hours, and that was exactly when my wife called me.. We are more contented now than ever. Everything looks perfect and so natural! Thank you so much for your authentic and indisputable spells. Thanks Sir for your help. If you need help in your marriage of broken relationship,please contact Dr Jack right now for urgent help. Okakagbespelltemple@gmail.com Or Okakagbespelltemple@yahoo.com

Call him now +2348138289852

Unknown 6:21 AM  

Sir, thank you so much for you genuine spell,my wife is back!!!

Thank you sir for your genuine spells. This is really incredible, and I have never experienced anything like this in my life. Before i met you Sir, i have tried every all probable means that i could to get my wife back, but i actually came to realize that nothing was working out for me, and that my wife had developed lot of hatred for me.. I thought there was n o hope to reunite with my ex wife and kids. But when i read good reviews about your work sir, i decided to give it a try and i did everything that you instructed me and i Trusted in you and followed your instructions just as you have guaranteed me in 48 hours, and that was exactly when my wife called me.. We are more contented now than ever. Everything looks perfect and so natural! Thank you so much for your authentic and indisputable spells. Thanks Sir for your help. If you need help in your marriage of broken relationship,please contact Dr Jack right now for urgent help. Okakagbespelltemple@gmail.com Or Okakagbespelltemple@yahoo.com

Call him now +2348138289852

kayla 11:15 AM  

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