Deceitful ballerinas / THU 3-8-18 / Word that no one has ever said before / McDonald's offering since 1968 / Bomb developed in 1950s / Classic railroad name / Golden Bears school familiarly

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Constructor: Jim Quinlan

Relative difficulty: No idea—I made every mistake a human could make and ended with almost 2x my normal time, but it can't be that hard...

THEME: two-word phrases where first word has final "N" sound changed to "-IN'" (g-dropped form of "-ing") to create wacky phrases that get wacky clues

Theme answers:
  • LYIN' DANCERS (19A: Deceitful ballerinas?)
  • MOOIN' WALKER (27A: Cow as it strolls around the pasture?)
  • PLAYIN' FOLKS (42A: Band members?)
  • BEIN' COUNTER (53A: Census bureau employee?) (wow, that one is really bad...)
Word of the Day: ANYA Taylor-Joy (35D: Actress Taylor-Joy of 2015's "The Witch") —
Anya Taylor-Joy (born April 16, 1996) is an American-born Argentine-British actress.[2] She is best known for her starring role as Thomasin in the horror film The Witch (2015) and as Casey Cooke in the horror-thriller film Split (2016). She was nominated for the BAFTA Rising Star Award in 2017. (wikipedia)
• • •

So the theme is manifestly dreadful—you can play this little word game all day long (PAYIN' RELIEVER, SEEIN' STEALER, uh ... STOWIN' MASON? Etc.), and it never gets interesting. And there are only four of these? It just doesn't cut it. I won't remember this theme at all, but I will remember how unbelievably off this puzzle's wavelength I was. Note: this isn't why it's a bad puzzle. It's bad because, I mean, look at it. No, my ridiculous, EPIC, absurd struggles are totally my own, totally idiosyncratic, and as remarkable as they are embarrassing. I made mistakes and left them in too long and couldn't get anywhere. Over and over and over. I did a Fireball puzzle earlier in the day (those puzzles have Thursday-type themes w/ Saturday-level difficulty), and crushed it in just over six minutes, so I was feeling pretty good when I stepped up to this one. But ugh, where to begin? Well, how about with PASTA for 4D: Trattoria bowlful (PENNE), which I crossed with RTES at 16A: Routing abbr. (ATTN). How in the world did I think RTES could go there, or made any sense? Wow. Couldn't make *anything* happen in the next section over except OPS and EPA. Wanted PETR, but it was a guess and I couldn't justify it. Had OAR for ROW (21D: Do crew). And then, even with BUCS OVA and UVULA, I got nowhere in the NE. Just ... blanking. Wrote in 'ALO (!?!?!?) at 28D: Greeting in Rio (OLA), and then "confirmed" it with MERINO at 32A: Fine wool source (ALPACA), which then made me want MC-something at 32D: McDonald's offering since 1968 (APPLE PIE). At this point, having been in four different sections and gotten nowhere, I started wondering if there wasn't a rebus or some Big Gimmick that I was missing. But no.

Things really got weird when I got to *actual* PASTA at 55A: Ronzoni offering. That made me go back and take out doppelganger PASTA, eventually put in PENNE, and eventually get rolling. Once I got going, it was like the ridiculous freefall I'd been in was a bad dream. Everything started falling into place. I have no idea what perfect storm of brain fall-apart happened during the first 4-5 minutes, but I really hope it never happens again. Very disconcerting. In retrospect, I should've noticed so many things much earlier:  obviously KOREA was right for 23A: Subject of reunificaiton talks, but I didn't go with it; my PETR instinct was right, and I didn't go with that, either; I'd looked at the [___ collar] clue a few times and had nothing, but did not (for a long time) *relook* at it after I got the final -EA, which made FLEA obvious, etc.); I mucked around in the SW a whole bunch without ever looking at clues for LANA and ELI—both gimmes; basic things like ERIE and AFRICAN just had (to me) inscrutable clues (49A: Classic railroad name + 39D: Like the earliest humans). I don't think of the cupcake pan as a tray (10D: Bakery trayful = CUPCAKES) ... I wouldn't have gotten BOCCE (even with the BO- in place) if I'd stared at that clue for a million years (8A: Game with a 90-foot x 13.1 foot court). ANYA someone? I'm so glad this is over, both because the theme was not good and because this was probably my single-worst solve, from a pure skill-failure perspective, in years.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Mike in Mountain View 12:13 AM  

I thought the theme was OK for a Tuesday or Wednesday. The puzzle was not memorably good or bad, which is a disappointment for a Thursday.

Mike in Mountain View 12:16 AM  

BTW, I did not mean that memorably bad would be good, just that it might indicate Thursday-ish ambition that fell short, rather than a lack of Thursday-ish ambition altogether.

TomAz 12:19 AM  

The theme was fine. Cleverish, even. Yes you could come up with lots more. So what?

I had MOOINgALKER but the G wouldn't work, and also there was the thing that my answer didn't make any sense. At times like these I like to skip forward and circle back eventually, which proved a fairly fruitful approach. Skipping about, the problem spots soon showed themselves, and the solution then finally emerged.

I couldn't get ALPACA to come to me at all, even though I know it. I had ALPine in there for a while, thinking iNYA might be plausible and OLe certainly possible. the ACA bit was the last I filled.

Unlike Rex, the NE was where I got my toehold. BOCCE fell with just a little thought, and UVULA even less. I have played BOCCE and I have a UVULA, so maybe that's why. CUPCAKES and EARL GREY came shortly thereafter. CAPER would have been tough as clued, but this is why it's called a crossword puzzle.

This puzzle may have not have made me giggle with glee at its wit and cleverness, but still, it is a reasonable Thursday.

jae 12:19 AM  

Thurs. is supposed to be a tad tough and tricky. This was neither (however, I only made one of Rex's mistakes... Pasta before PENNE). I'm with @Rex on thIs one only it was on the easy side for me.

@Mike - Wed. sounds about right.

burtonkd 12:22 AM  

I was really wondering who the guest reviewer was bc it reads like someone trying to channel OFL. Everything suspiciously easy. Had nothing in NW, but got one clue and everything filled itself in.

Outside The Box 12:23 AM  

Rex just doesn’t like it because it took him 2X his normal time. Get over it.

John Child 12:28 AM  

A fine, easy puzzle, but misplaced on Thursday IMO. It _felt_ hard for a while because of the clues, boosted I suppose to get this simple, fun theme into Thursday difficulty. But I finished it about half way between my average and best times, according to the app, so definitely easy.

I don't pay much attention to times, but looking at the stats now, this week has been all over the place so far:

Mon - record fastest
Tue - within a couple of seconds of record fastest
Wed - 2x average!
Thu - way below average

Unknown 12:38 AM  

I don't think the theme is consistent. The first three theme answers each have the G lopped off the ending of the first word (LYING --> LYIN', MOOING --> MOOIN', PLAYING --> MOOIN') but the last one makes no sense: BEING --> BEIN', where BEIN' is supposed to be a homophone for BEAN?? Ridiculous.

Unknown 12:42 AM  

Have there even been any reunification talks involving the KOREAs in the past...50 years or so? Hasn’t it all been about keeping them from starting a nuclear war?

John Hoffman 12:45 AM  

I disagree with my hero Rex on this one: I thought it was a fine, fine puzzle. Very little obscure/weird stuff. Yeah the theme answers were kind of hokey, but I liked ‘em.

puzzlehoarder 12:50 AM  

Good puzzle. A couple of write overs slowed it down for me.

The worst of the two was GAG/DAM. This managed to screw up two themers in one shot. In the north I had the west and east ends filled in but the center blank. EPA sat there cut off by GAG. 5A had to be OPS but I couldn't support it.

The SW went in steadily with the exception of an ANNA/ANYA write over. At least this only blocked one themer.

Using BEANCOUNTER I once again jumped over the middle and this time successfully back filled from the east and switched to BEIN. With one correct themer I was able to go back and finish the north.

Ironically 53A is the one theme entry that muddies things for me BEANCOUNTERs is slang for the cities accountants and the reason I was so familiar with it. I never came close to putting LINE or MOON or PLAIN in. I'm sure it's just another dropped G.

TomAz 12:53 AM  

@Calman S.:

BEIN is short for BEING. A census worker counts BEINgs.

Ghostface Puzzlah 1:12 AM  

I truly don’t get the clue for COINAGE (“word that no one has ever said before”). Even after I wrote it in. I just stared at it like, huh?

Ghostface Puzzlah 1:16 AM  

Ok, got it. Wow. Either I’m as dense as Rex this evening, or that clue is a stretch. Probably a little bit of both.

Larry Gilstrap 1:55 AM  

Solving impaired made this tough, meaning I erased lots of stuff. I went out tonight, so a late night solve was impaired by the enthusiasm aroused by my company. Lots of off-fill. I had every kind of tea in for 12D.

Love CARESS! Feel free, just ask.

EELS in what sushi bar? Really?

I can actually LYIN DANCE, but I find it mentally and physically exhaustin'. I dare you to call me out! You better lead!

I remember in the 70s when the whole war on XMAS began. C'mon folks! It's still the biggest holiday, both secular and religious.

I like partials, Hi @Loren, but ____collar gave me fits. I'm not a dog person, with exceptions. I'm a people person, with exceptions.

Stanley Hudson 1:59 AM  

Just the opposite of OFL; this one seemed way too easy for Thursday. Wheelhouse blah blah blah.

Wonder if Stormy Daniels will show up in a crossword puzzle?

Harryp 2:01 AM  

Well below my Thursday average, probably because I am not a speed solver. 35D ANYA and 48A LANA slowed me down, and also 57A CATE. I wanted KATE, and figured AFRIKANS might work, but the Boer word was AFRIKAANS. Put in the C and got the Happy Tone.

Wilford Brimley 2:02 AM  

“the enthusiasm aroused by my company”

@Larry Gilstrap, where I come from we just call that “getting laid.”

Larry Gilstrap 2:09 AM  

Didn’t happen. They just shared tostadas. That’s my story.

Anonymous 2:09 AM  

The number of pronunced syllables in BEINg is perhaps a regional dialect thing. I enjoyed the themeres.

Pasta first. Tried to make Gulls and bLue work.

Loren Muse Smith 4:09 AM  

I love any theme that changes a little sound in a word to make a new word. And I’ve said before, that the resulting phrase isn’t that funny doesn’t bother me. It’s startling, and that’s enough for me.

Rex – one advantage of solving on paper is that I can want PASTA, say, for 4D but unlike you solving electronically, I can glance down at several crosses and see that some of those letters don’t look promising. (Whenever I’ve had to solve on a computer, the only clue I could see was the one at hand.) So I resisted writing in PASTA there. Considered “pesto” but, again, that S didn’t look like it’d work.

@Calman Snoffelevich - thank you! A bajillion dialects regularly “drop the g” in ING formations. (There is actually no G sound there to begin with, but I’ve been over that with y’all – go back over your notes. I’ll wait.)

But BUT… we have a couple of words where we never do that: everything and anything. If someone were to “drop the g” on those guys, it’d sound weird. Two other words might fall into this category: inning and being. Maybe. I’m just not sure. I'm not even sure how I say those in allegro speech. But @Calman, your reaction leads me to believe that at least you always say being and not bein’.

Rex said you could do this theme all day. I know, right? And that’s where the fun starts. Think of other possibilities. As someone who’s currently standing in front of a buncha freshmen teaching Romeo and Juliet, I’m subjected to sighin’ language. (In a can’t we just do something fun? way and not in a this is such a poignant love story way.

Thanks so much to all of you who congratulated me on our strike. What a wild ride That was. As to the insurance, part of the deal was that they’ve now formed a task force to look into the mess that it’s become. I hate to be cynical but…

Jim – nice job. I liked PIANISTS/PLAYIN and CUPCAKE/CAPER. Can you imagine getting a cupcake with capers on top? … infused with the suggestion of locally-foraged spearmint sprigs floating atop a toothsome kiln-smoked black pudding Provençal cake, maple-cured capers adorning the icing…

Conrad 5:07 AM  

@LMS: Let me add my congratulations on winnin' your strike! Have you tried introducin' Romeo and Juliet with a showing of West Side Story? It might make it more relatable [is that a word? Spell check is flaggin' it] to modern kids.

I found the puzzle super easy for a Thursday, but that may be because I hatehatehate rebuses. Once I figured out that there was no rebus involved the pressure was off and I finished quickly. My only major writeover besides Pasta/PENNE was filling in LYINg off of the word "deceitful" in the clue. That led to @puzzlehoarder gAg for DAM and that took a while to resolve.

BarbieBarbie 5:58 AM  

Some people do say the “g” in “ng” if the next word begins with a vowel.

I found the puzzle easy but a disappointment for a Thursday. Lots of writeovers, but none of them fun misdirects. Me too on MERINO, and I also had (maybe invented?) an ETON collar. I never put PASTA in the trattoria bowl, though, mostly because like @LMS I could see ahead and see that it was a bad idea. See ahead, that is, on my iPad. It’s not your device showing you one clue at a time- it’s your app.

Jon Alexander 6:02 AM  

Theme was "meh" as many have indicated, but over all easy for me. Only real snag was crossing into the SW dropping ANGORA instead of ALPACA, but a couple of crosses uncovered that pretty quickly.

Thomaso808 6:20 AM  

I quess the 19A gag is “line dancers” but at first I thought it was “lion dancers” — a Chinese New Year thing.

I don’t think this was pointed out yet, but the theme doesn’t just drop the g, it also takes two syllable words and slides them into whacky one syllable words. Even better.

Lewis 6:58 AM  

I love engaging in wordplay, so when the theme became clear, trying -- sometimes successfully -- to figure out the other theme answers with just one or two letters, was fun. And I love when a clue is like a puzzle to crack instead of a request for information, and that happened twice for me, at the clue for PAINS ("You might take them to do a good job") and TEE ("It can give drivers a lift").

I think the fourth themer, BEINCOUNTER, is an outlier, in that in the first three theme answers, the first part is what the second part does, i.e., LYINg is what those dancers do, PLAYINg is what those band folks do, and MOOINg is what the cow who is walking does. But BEINg is not what the counter is doing. It didn't bother me, because I liked the wordplay, but it did set off a little alert in my head.

Possible theme answer: PAYIN MANAGEMENT, clued "Giving rent?".

webwinger 7:06 AM  

I too found this easy for a Thursday, but the theme really tickled me, especially BEIN COUNTER. Minor hang-ups similar to others. Also really enjoyed OFL’s review: light on invective, nice insights into the workings of a master solver’s brain on a “bad” day—with still probably less than half my time.

Ken 7:12 AM  

Very very easy Thursday. Cleanest cupcake of a puzzle you could have. Must have been in my wheelhouse as there were no bumps. Speaking of LA LA Land, great movie !

kitshef 7:23 AM  

Much easier than yesterday’s for me, despite thinking I was not getting the theme during the solve, or after the solve, or after reading the blog and the comments and the constructor notes. Forced to conclude that the theme really is as weak as it appeared to be.

@LMS - sorry, but I hear anythin' fairly often. Also, Rubeus Hagrid from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone: "Have yeh seen anythin', Ronan? Anythin' unusual?"

ANYA should always be clued as a Scooby.

RJ 7:26 AM  

Like someone else commented...MEH. My normal Thursday time but seemed longer because I had so much white space after the first pass. Technically a DNF because I had to look up STELLA after brain farting DELE (wrote in STET) at first which really messed up that corner. My favorite word was ACES because I've just watched the old Vicar of Dibley series and it reminded me of the lovely character Hugo Horton.

I live in the middle of the New England snow dump. The trees are all bent over and my cat is crossing his legs because he doesn't want to go out into the really wet 12 inches of white stuff covering the ground. Amazingly we still have power...people around the corner lost it last night.

Alicia Stetson 7:33 AM  

@rex this is what happens as we age. Just go with it.

George 7:33 AM  

That's funny, what Rex describes as an embarrassing solve experience is what I love about crossword solving--figuring out all the obscure and murky stuff through the crosses. But even better is Rex's Eagle's video Lyin' Eyes. I was about 12 years old and listening to this song on my brand new record and my grandmother asked me what the song was about. At 12, I didn't completely understand the gist, but I got enough of it to know I did;t want to explain it to my grandmother.

QuasiMojo 7:42 AM  

This felt like a puzzle from one of the local papers where I live. Not really up to the standard of the NYT in terms of difficulty or cleverness, especially for a Thursday slot. The BEIN' COUNTER thing was absurd. They are called HUMAN BEINGS for a reason -- to distinguish them from FELINE BEINGS and CANINE BEINGS (there seem to be more of both of those each day. I read yesterday that there are over 100 million feral cats in America. I think half of them live on my street.) I doubt census takers are asked to count the number of beings in a home. Just the number of people.

STALKS seemed odd in that context. A cat (yes, I have a fixation at present) stalks its prey (or the cat food left out by the crazy lady next door) but it is not necessarily following it closely. A student follows his or her lecturer closely but I would not say he or she is STALKing him or her.

CUPCAKES crossing UVULA made me hungry and tickled my fancy in other LA-LA-LANDish ways.

Earliest humans were AFRICAN? This is a common mistake I notice about puzzle clueing. Taking contemporary terminology and applying it to prehistoric history. It wasn't called AFRICA when the earliest humans lived there so I doubt they were AFRICAN. You could say "Earliest humans in the land mass that is now known as AFRICA." But AFRICAN as an answer to the clue would still be wrong. The Times did this recently with the AINU, calling them aboriginal Japanese which is ludicrous.

I didn't like this puzzle. So SUE me.

Jofried 7:44 AM  

I also thought this puzzle was incredibly easy for a Thursday. I was kind of hopin’ that it would take longer as I’m on snow day #2 here, buried in over a foot of snow and very grateful to have power. I hear that half the town does not and meanwhile we are being told that we are not to go outside as trees are still fallin’ and downed power lines are everywhere.

pabloinnh 8:05 AM  

14" here and still snowing hard. OK with us.

This was easy enough once the gimmick became apparent.

However. If you really want to slow yourself down, read DO CREW and see DO as a noun. You will then spend far too long trying to come up with a three letter word for a team of hairdressers.

Hungry Mother 8:11 AM  

Very fast for me today. I got the them right away and that helped me through. A few names were tough for me as usual, but crosses saved the day.

Unknown 8:12 AM  

Thanks. That makes it better, but not by much.

Two Ponies 8:24 AM  

13.1 feet? That's pretty specific.
So many answers had lots of close possibilities that had to be sorted before you could move on so this was a slow solve. I seemed to spend a lot of mental energy watching for the trick that never appeared. Has Will ditched the usual pattern for days of the week? Haven't we been cheated out of our Thursdays a lot lately?

Some interesting new archeological finds in Europe are adding more data to the human origin puzzle. The climate there is not so kind to skeletal remains as in Africa.

Now, for your entertaining pleasure we have, just back from a world tour, The Idiotic Homonyms! Let's give them a big hand.

wgh 8:29 AM  


Am I missing something? Looks consistent

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

I was wondering how long it would take for the "where's my rebus" whiners to emerge. Not long, as expected.

The Hermit Philosopher 8:31 AM  

Right! A puzz is subject to Rex’s venom if (a) there are things he didn’t know, and/or (b) it took him longer than usual.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

@Two Ponies = 13.1234 to be really specific. It's 4 meters.

@"I avoided PASTA at 4d because I saw PASTA as the answer at 50A" crew: Seriously, you check all the across clues before you make your initial guess at a down clue (and vice versa). And that's a function of the platform on which you solve? PASTA at 50A corrected the PASTA at 4D well before you meandered down to the south-west? Not buying it.

The Hermit Philosopher 8:46 AM  

Oh to be so expert as to notice - and care about - the fine distinctions between a Thursday and a Wednesday, for example. Sure, I don’t expect a Monday-level puzzle to show up on Saturday. But to whine about one for being placed a day early or a day late is pure pedantry.

mathgent 8:50 AM  

Thursday puzzles don't usually have much pizzazz but they compensate by encorporating a rebus, or at least having something similarly unusual. But not today. It was typically pizzazz-less (only six red plus signs in the margins) and the theme was nothing special.

I may be becoming jaded, but this week's puzzles have all been pretty blah. And the WSJ hasn't been much better, although yesterday's was pretty good. The theme was Course Corrections.

JOHN X 8:52 AM  

Finished this pretty quickly. Not a bad puzzle, but it wasn't a Thursday puzzle, at least not how I used to like them. There was no challenge.

The PASTA/PENNE misdirect was pretty good, and I fell for it too, and had "Abrade" for the 3D Wear clue, so the NW was a bit dicey. Still not Thursday dicey but there you go.

Who is ANYA Taylor-Joy? How do you become an Argentine-British actress if you're born in the U.S.? Does this woman like hyphens? I guess she does. She was nominated for a BAFTA Rising Star Award! (She lost to Spiderman). I know nothing else about this person.

Mohair Sam 8:55 AM  

This was a CUPCAKE of a Thursday. We buzzed through it like a Tuesday with brief hiccups at oar before ROW and teaCAKES before CUPCAKES. Even a potential personal natick at the LANA/ANYA cross was averted by the very first letter in our alphabet run (remembered LANA Del Rey immediately).

Agree with the multitude on the BEIN'/bean thing.

I learned early that Italians take their BOCCE seriously. My high school sweetheart was Italian. Her family accepted this Irish/Polack mutt like a son, it was great. Then at a family picnic I played my first BOCCE game as a partner to her father. Things were never the same.

Sir Hillary 8:56 AM  

Anyone ever seen @M&A and Jim Quinlan in the same room? Hmm...

Not a Thursday-worthy puzzle, but I did enjoy the nice cascading stacks of 6-, 7- and 8-letter downs.

Yeah, PASTA was first in at 4D. Thanks to KOREA for fixing that. By the way, who is really talking seriously about reunification when it comes to KOREA?

UVULA will forever remind me of an early SNL skit -- (audio only, can't find video) -- which my 11-year old self assumed was dirty. Awesome.

Churlish Nabob 8:57 AM  

Stuart Showalter, Michael Sharp, Lucy from “Peanuts”: who’s more consistently crabby?

Z 9:24 AM  

What’s Your Title?
Homophone Errands

(not sure that actually works but I’m sticking with it)

@Anon8:45 - Thanks. I figured it was a metric conversion. I always chuckle a little when a metric estimate is converted into an overly precise figure. “Detroit to Lansing is about 150 Kilometers” gets converted to “93 miles” instead of the more appropriate “90 miles.”

I’m leaning more Rexian on this theme. The idea that you can “do it all day” suggests the themers need one more unifying concept to make this a theme. All music related or all farm animals dancing. Something to take this from motif to theme. While I enjoyed the sussing out of the themers in the end the puzzle just lacked sparkle.

Nancy 9:29 AM  

I'm glad @mathgent is off on vacation and may perhaps not have to undergo what he likes to refer to as "the dying of the rebus." I, too, am suffering from acute Day of the Week Disappointment and think this should have run yesterday. Nevertheless, the puzzle is proof positive that really good cluing can salvage an otherwise tepid puzzle. I thought the theme was weak, and boasted one answer that was truly peculiar. BEIN COUNTER???? As in "please BE IN when we come to take the census."??? Still, I was forced to do a fair amount of thinking, what with wonderful clues for PAINS (38A); UVULA (15A)(I had "deltA" first); CARESS and COINAGE.

My fine wool source tends to be (speaking only puzzle-wise) either ANGORA or MERINO. And neither would work here. Only when I figured out ALPACA could I finish this. It was an enjoyable puzzle; it just wasn't a Thursday puzzle, IMO.

GILL I. 9:39 AM  

Good gravy. What a yuck yuck fest that I managed to not enjoy. I wish I hadn't been invited.
For some reason the puzzle seemed like it was tryin hard to make me feel like I was 10 years old. No a mature audience in sight. There is not one single adult word here. I mean CUPCAKES FANG TOASTY EDSEL XMAS GEESE...I won't go on. I had hoped 47D "Nice touch" would be something grown-up like the French TOUCHE. No such luck....yuck yuck.
Had a mistake and IDC. Mrazek's name was PETH because SCHEENS looks like a cute little word for a basketball tactic. TSK.
For the life of me, I don't know why anyone would spend good money on those clunky Birkenstocks. I went out with a guy who wore them all the time and he had dirty toes. Maybe that's why I hate them.

Azzurro 9:50 AM  

I’m still not understanding COINAGE. Is it a play on coin age? Or am I just missing something?

Fun puzzle, even if too easy for Thursday. And I loved the reference to my alma mater at 22A. Go Bears!

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

Got the theme right away--very easy for Thursday.

Nancy 9:58 AM  

Aw shucks, @mathgent. I thought you'd be in the air or on the road and might have missed this. I now see you didn't. The fact that you didn't much like it comes as no surprise.

@Lewis reminds me that TEE was another great clue I failed to mention. And the wonderfully cynical "bit of lawyerly advice" as the clue for SUE is very funny.

@Mohair (8:55) -- What a great BOCCE/relationship story!

@Quasi (7:42) -- Did something untoward grab your ATTN on the street recently -- something involving perhaps a FANG or a FLEA -- to spark your EPIC rant about feral cats? Just wonderin'.

Suzie Q 9:58 AM  

Since when is a fang a sucker? Injector maybe but the clue makes it sound like a straw. I'm probably not seeing the forest here.
@ Larry G, I see eel on sushi menus all the time. Maybe you were just kidding.
Pasta-penne-pesto. Too many choices.
I was thinking the game was bolle(s).
This hasn't been a stella*r* week for puzzles. Maybe it's just cabin fever.
That actress Anya must be good at looking scared judging from that resume.

jberg 9:59 AM  

@anon 2:09 so is the number of syllables in bean.

Z 10:17 AM  

COINAGE. See definition 2.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

Had mooin target instead mooin walker. Completely blocked finishing the NE leading to a DNF. I hate rebus puzzles too so I relaxed when I saw the theme “in” early on. Relaxed a little too much apparently!

jberg 10:30 AM  

@Nancy—Thank God I never thought of “angora!” I switched from merino to ALPACA because of OLA, but I don’t think of the latter as fine I’d have been stuck.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

I kept trying to make this puzzle tougher than it is.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

@Stuart, stop wasting your time on Rex. We all know already. Make the world a better place. Bring some philosophic wit and wisdom here.

Anoa Bob 10:35 AM  

That wall of thirteen black squares in the three middle rows effectively DAM off the north and south hemispheres with only the A at the end of 28D OLA and the T at the beginnin' of 37A TOASTY connectin' the two. Seems extreme.

Is PITCHIN' at 6D missin' somethin'?

I would think that COINAGE means the word has been said/used before, at least once. If not, then it has yet to be COINed, right?

RooMonster 10:35 AM  

Hey All !
It seems the theme was two-fold. 19A was as clued (dropping the G) LYIN DANCERS, but also (as someone already pointed out) turning a two syllable word (lying) into a one syllable word to get another phrase, LINE DANCERS. The others were MOOIN WALKER- MOON WALKER, PLAYIN FOLKS-PLAIN FOLKS, BEIN COUNTER-BEAN COUNTER.

So a DAM fine ThursPuz, sans a rebus. Had a couple of writeovers, ebb-DAM, rayS-BUCS.

Heard a joke: The grade schoolers were learning to read, and the teacher showed them a picture of an elephant. "Tommy, what does that say?" "It's a frickin elephant!" Tommy said. "What did you say?" the teacher stammered. "It's a frickin elephant" Timmy said again. When the teacher looked at the picture, lo and behold that's what it said. "African Elephant"
Hooray for phonics! :-)

TOASTY ATTIRE (for you storm-getting people)

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

I thought it was both dull and easy, a not great combination, especially for any day of Thursday through Sunday puzzles.

The Rex attackers are amazing to me. You complain about how cranky he is, how unfair his assessments are, etc. which complaints may be valid at times. Today, he explained with specificity why he thought the puzzle was both hard and bad. He blamed his solving difficulties on himself and explained why he didn't like the puzzle. Unless I missed something, he made it clear as to how the two were not related.

By complaining when he criticizes a puzzle like today and complaining when he is neutral about or praises a puzzle, you make it clear that, for you, he can do no right.

Okay, do you think your unrelenting bashing is going to persuade him to change his approach? If your answer is no to that question, why do you bother to post your criticisms? You know the definition of insanity and all that.

Just sayin'.

Mr. Benson 10:38 AM  

Very easy for me. I've said before that even when Rex considers a puzzle hard and I consider it easy, my time is still probably slower than his... but I think I'm catching up, and I'd like to think that maybe I outpaced him today. I made a couple of the same mistakes that he detailed (plus briefly considering VICUNA for ALPACA), but all were corrected in short order.

jberg 10:43 AM  

I’m with those who found it fun. The only place ther theme really helped was MOOIN’ rovER. Too bad it wouldn’t fit.

@Thomas808, good point! My son is a lion dancer, but I never thought of it.

And that made me think of another possible theme, based on LYIN’ EYES = LIONIZE I’ll see if I can think of more

Undomiel 10:49 AM  

Except that the Ainu still live in Japan, so it’s actually as accurate as talking about Native Americans or Indigenous Australians. Modern Ainu are Japanese by nationality, just like modern Ryukyuans, for all that neither group lived in Japan until the late 19th century (although it’s more complicated than that with the Ainu, who had been slowly but steadily pushed north for centuries before Japan colonized Hokkaido and took over their last remaining land, so there were probably Japanese people of unacknowledged Ainu descent on Honshu much earlier.)

old timer 10:57 AM  

I thought it was a splendid puzzle though obviously the rebus was not one you could write in. BEINCOUNTER was I thought perfect. LYIN DANCER involves fancy footwork but no partners by the way, Neither the man nor the woman "leads" and indeed the origin of the line dance comes from situations where there are many more men than women; some line dances are all-male in fact. Your country and western bar usually has more male than female customers.

As someone observed if OFL has difficulty completing a puzzle he usually finds a way to slam it. And he knows he tends to do that, and goes out of his way to insist that his personal difficulties had nothing to do with his review. Right!!

Malsdemare 11:01 AM  

I had exactly the same experience as @Rex, though using considerably more minutes, and I liked it. It’s fun to be constantly right, but being tripped up is a good comeuppance, a nice tweek from the constructor, a little finger wag, a "not so fast, young lady. Just where do you think you're going?" I got the theme at BEINCOUNTER and that helped me clean up my errors. So, thanks, Jim! Fun Thursday.

Canon Chasuble 11:01 AM  

Sorry, everyone, but I just loved this puzzle because it made me sit and think. I never care about the time it takes to do it, but I like thinking and love seeing how words connect and interact with each other. It was not an easy puzzle for me, but what a lot of pleasure in the truly dreadful puns, especialy "being-counter" and "lyin-dancers." A nice way to start a snowed-in Thursday.

jb129 11:04 AM  

21 down - Do Crew? Can someone explain the answer - ROW - to me?

Z 11:04 AM  

@Churlish Nabob and @anon10:36 - I promise to you and everyone else who reads these comments that I will never complain about people complaining about people who do nothing but complain about OFL’s allegedly never doing anything but complain. File this post with the Meta-Complaint Department.

Z 11:08 AM  

CREW. Interestingly, the first few online dictionaries didn’t have this definition.

Jamie C 11:11 AM  

Hear, hear!

Evil Doug 11:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Re: comments at 8:30 and 8:57. BEIN unpleasant, I'd opine. Rather ME IN-spirited. Just SAYIN, blog moderators. In your place I might be ZAPPIN.

Joseph Michael 11:27 AM  

Jim is a handsome lookin' gent with a wry sense of humor. I wish his puzzle was as entertaining as his comments about it at Wiil's choice to run the puzzle on a Thursday did not do it any favors.

Still it has a certain charm and some clever clues. Of the themers, liked BEIN' COUNTER the best. Also enjoyed the clues for EDSEL and XMAS but thought they should each have had a "?" at the end.

Not to be CRONKY, but I have to agree with @Susie Q about the clue for FANG. It is not itself a "sucker," only a means to it.

Just noticed that 6D looks like a theme element in search of a partner.

QuasiMojo 11:35 AM  

@Nancy, yes, my crankiness of late is mostly due to a crazy lady next door who comes out every morning at six AM to put our cat food for the feral felines of our neighborhood. It’s the cheapest kind too. She wheels over then miraculously jumps out of her chair and sows the kibbles and bits along the stone wall near my home. Her voice is shrike-like and very loud. “Here Kitty Kitty...” I confronted her the other day and asked her to refrain from this absurd behavior since it actually harms the cats and puts them st risk of being run over by the many cars in their path to the feast. Plus we have a dozen or so already and don’t want to attract any new members to the fold. Not to mention the fact that rats and mice and raccoons and possums love the stuff too. I told her to adopt a cat of her own if she is lonely and to leave the wild ones alone. So far my advice has fallen on deaf ears.

Two Ponies 11:37 AM  

@ Anon 8:45,
I must still have my dunce cap on. If 13.1 ft. = 4 meters but 90 ft.
= 27.43 meters how is that better? That's some precise measuring. Seems like whole numbers in any system would be a lot easier. Pick one and go with it.
I know you folks back East are still getting battered by the weather but I haven't seen the bare ground since Thanksgiving so I have my own winter blues. Although walking the dog in showshoes is good exercise. Right now I'm toasty in front of the wood stove.

"Evil Doug" you're not fooling anyone.

MetroGnome 11:53 AM  

Classic Natick: 40-Across/35 Down. Two pop-culture names unfamiliar to me.

Banana Diaquiri 11:58 AM  

the "standard" phrase: "to COIN a phrase". not WORD.

Whatsername 12:02 PM  

I’ll to come to Rex’s defense today and say he’s being too hard on himself. I was all over the place too, at first trying HAVEON for attire, RAYS for bucs, TEACAKES for cupcakes, REMSLEEP for lalaland, ANGORA for alpaca among others. I got the dropped G pretty quickly but kept looking for something more - surely that’s not all there is - then actually checked the calendar to confirm it’s not Wednesday which seems to me a much more appropriate day for this one. On the plus side, I always appreciate a puzzle that makes me smarter in that I now know the definitions of “cronk” and “bocce” after looking them up. However, that said, I would still call an Edsel a lemon, not a bomb; I can’t figure out how a fang is also a sucker, and I never heard a skip described as a caper. Not one of my favorites but always appreciate the thought that went into the construction, so thanks for the effort Mr. Quinlan.

Masked and Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Primo 6- and 8-stacks in the corners.

Well-put-together puz, other than it's darn-near DAM-ed up in the midsection ROWs. Don't recall [yo, @JSessions] havin much difficulty with it, tho. Did guess PASTA before PENNE, and PORTRAY before PITCHIN; lost a few precious nano-seconds therein, but, hey -- it's Thursday.

Themers were eazy-E CUPCAKES; they were pretty much on M&A's wavelength.

staff weeject pick: AGO. Only 1 of the 18 lil darlins that could be missin a G at the end. (yo, @Sir Hillary - M&A don't do "rooms" much.)

Thanx, Mr. Quinlan. Good second effort.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

illustrated pup:

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:07 PM  

This was my fastest Thursday ever, 10:07! Rex probably still solved it faster than I did, but it is a good quasi-victory to have.

I wish I could be as excited for the puzzle. The past two days were "good theme, bad fill" days. For a change of pace, we got "meh theme, meh fill". Not a bad one, but definitely nothing memorable, especially on a Thursday. This was my reaction when I figured out the theme. "Oh, umm, OK, but... OK." Doesn't say much. I would have liked to give it some consistency points, but BEIN is different from PLAYIN, LYIN and MOOIN so I can't do that either. But at least it was a theme alright.

Now, the fill. Clean, but very stale. I enjoyed NOTYOU and OPENTOE, I didn't hate any of the short words, so it is definitely passable, but I could have used some more exciting stuff on a Thursday. Same goes for the clues: remarkably flat for a Thursday.

So yes, one of my best Thursdays in terms of time, but not in terms of pleasure unfortunately. Just mediocre.

GRADE: C+, 2.75 stars.

Austenlover 12:07 PM  

Surprisingly easy for a Thursday. I finished in half my usual time, even after putting in eton for the collar and first merino, then angora before ALPACA. cute early-week puzzle but very disappointing on a Thursday.

G. Weissman 12:21 PM  

Wouldn’t a sushi bar be stocked with EEL, not EELS?

Kimberly 12:23 PM  

Remember when Thursdays were the ones with the really offbeat, clever themes? They were the ones I looked forward to as much as Sunday because I knew it would be something really wacky and wonky and fun.

I can’t criticize Rex for being negative today. This was hideous and unfun.

Joe Bleaux 12:26 PM  

Just dittoin'

Churlish Nabob 12:29 PM  

@Z 10:17 AM, please don't enable the feeble-minded who can't be bothered, or don't know how, to Google a definition and want someone here to blogsplain the meaning of a word.

I grow more weary of them than I do of the meta-complainers.

GILL I. 12:40 PM  

@Churlish Nabob...Not every one who posts on this blog is a native English speaker. Sometimes, Google is of no help at all. Even looking up a definition may not get you the dictionary definition you're looking for. Double entendres can be my major reason for a DNF.
So thanks @Z....We can always count on you even though you go over your allotted posts! :-)

FrankStein 12:43 PM  

@G.Weissman, yes, and it should be OPEN-TOED too.

Like others, I am often confused about the use of COIN vis-a-vis words. When someone says "to coin a phrase" I always thought that meant to use a phrase that is too-often used, as in a mint making coin after coin. But I see that others use it to mean to invent a phrase. So which is it?

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Word that has been COINED or just made up.

Bob Mills 12:48 PM  

I've said "COINAGE" a number of times. What's that all about?

Banana Diaquiri 12:49 PM  

"But I see that others use it to mean to invent a phrase."

yes, a claim to originality. not often true, of course.

Anon 8:45 12:51 PM  

@Two Ponies A bocce court is 27.5 meters long = 90.2231 feet. Why were they so specific about 13.1 and not 90.2 feet? Perhaps they took @Z's advice for half the info, perhaps they were just lazy and took 90 x 13.1 straight from Wikipedia. I'm going for the lazy explanation. And don't ask me why 27.5 meters as opposed to, say, 27.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

pitch in

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

This blog is visited by so many people who have never met the dictionary. Ever. It's a thing. Buy one. Read it. Get back to us - after.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

As on a big rowboat... when more than one people are rowing...

Chip Hilton 1:05 PM  

@anon 10:36 - I agree. This isn’t a day to bash Rex. His remarks were reasonable and clearly stated. Today.

I thought this was rather weak for a Thursday. Top half took me a while but, once the theme fell, it led to quick progress below. It all just seemed like a Weds. level difficulty, to me.

Favorite clue? Sorry, nothing stands out.
Opportunity for something tough and modern? 58A. Tottenham forward (who helped break my heart yesterday)

OldNoob 1:05 PM  

The sport of rowing is also called “crew”. So to “do crew” is to row.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Your description reminded me of a scene in one of the Addams Family movies where grandma is hunting for dinner. "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty", as you see some sort of a stick going by outside the window. I know, it's not funny to you.

Joe Bleaux 1:21 PM  

Also primed for a more Thursday-ish challenge, I too thought today's puzzle relatively easy, but not Tuesday easy, and certainly not a disappointment. For me, it was a genuine counterclockwise solve, starting with STELLA (my sweet pitdoc's name, btw) in the SE and ending with EARLGREY. Thanks for an all around fun diversion, Mr. Quinlan.

Nancy 1:23 PM  

There's someone here on our Very Own Blog who claims a COINAGE from way back in the day. She (and a boyfriend, I think, if memory serves) coined "bodacious" before it was a word. Before it was in the zeitgeist (Hi, @Z). At least that was her story. And I have no reason to doubt her. C'mon, @Hartley, and tell your amazin' COINAGE story to the blog.

@Quasi (11:35)-- So I Googled and Googled and Googled, trying to find a FL law or ordinance that prohibits the feeding of feral cats, esp. in public places. I couldn't find one. (Of course I couldn't. You're a real smart guy, and if there were one, you'd already know about it.) So, Quasi, you may have to run for City Council in order to write and help pass such a law. In the meantime, you have my genuine sympathy as you deal with your nutsy-sounding neighbor.

Teedmn 1:23 PM  

So....1A is a SNAP. NOT YOU goes down. ATTIRE goes down, TOTE goes across and 16A becomes...hTTp. Yep. 1D is now SThL_S and I'm seriously considering a trattoria bowlful must be PEpsi? This set the tone of this puzzle for me and I had a @Rex solving experience.

My total avoidance of basketball made 7D very stressful, since SCREENS had to be right but PETR, really? But SCeEENS, nah, can't be. So I succeeded there against my will.

Bottom center, __RICA_, were the cavemen lyRICAl? I was pretty sure the Netherlands' country code was not lED-lightbulb related so AFRICAN showed up all in good time.

Until I read @Rex's run in with 21D, I was still thinking "Do crew" had something to do with hairstyles: corn ROWs anybody?

Cows LYIN' DANCin' the MOOIN WALK, fun! SNAP TO[TE] ATTN! I liked the clue for COINAGE. Nice sophomore puzzle, Jim Quinlan, but proper for a Thursday it was not.

Z 1:26 PM  

@Anon8:45 - Wikipedia says, “Bocce is traditionally played on natural soil and asphalt courts 27.5 metres (90 ft) in length and 2.5 to 4 metres (8.2 to 13.1 ft) wide.” So I think you’re correct, it’s a WikiClue. Did I just COIN “WikiClue?”

@churlish nabob - Unchurl my friend. Not everyone’s first instinct is to ask Alexa. Sometimes everyone has a DOOK moment or a new to them usage or a brainlock where “Do” has to be short for “hairdo.” Better to light a candle than curse the darkness and all that.

@Gill I - I don’t count just answering a question as a “comment.” So by my way of counting I’m only just reaching three now. ;)

@MetroGnome - I knew LANA so not a problem here, but I think you make a fair point.

Just a Shropshire Lad 2:00 PM  

My favorite use of the word "coinage" is from Housman's "The Lads in Their Hundreds":

"They carry back bright to the coiner the mintage of man"

QuasiMojo 2:01 PM  

@Nancy 1:23PM. I very much appreciate it! Actually there is a statute that allows for the feeding of feral cats, rather than prohibiting it, IF the people doing it capture them and have them spayed at the VET and then release them back into the "wild" with a clipped ear so they are identified as such. But they have to feed them in a strictly regulated manner and not on other people's private property. There's been an outcry against this newish regulation because of the number of birds that have been killed by feral cats. The numbers are staggering. So the theory is that encouraging them to thrive here by feeding them is allowing them more of a chance to chase after birds, some of them here for the winter and often rare or endangered. Often they don't even eat the birds. They just STALK them and kill them. Occasionally they will lay one at one's doorstep as a token of ESTEEM. Sadly the number of "snowbirds" is growing, many of them cat lovers. That's it for me today. I've reached my limit! :)

Banana Diaquiri 2:02 PM  

"And I have no reason to doubt her."

your friend makes counterfeit coins.
"1835-45; probably to be identified with dial. (Devon, Cornwall) bo(w)ldacious brazen, impudent, blend of bold and audacious"

would you like to buy a bridge over the East River? I got one at a good price.

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

@ Whatsername 12:02
I don’t believe that the Edsel was a lemon (unreliable). Because it was it was different, and ahead of its times, sales were weak. Thus it BOMBed.

Jeremy Smith

Two Ponies 2:10 PM  

OK, enough about the bocce court. If I was enjoying a friendly game over a bottle of red wine I doubt I'd quibble.

JC66 2:16 PM  

@Two Ponies

Just for you 😃

Glimmerglass 2:17 PM  

I confess to a delicious feeling of schadenfreude, not because I wish ill for@Rex, but because it has been humbling over the years to learn how much better he is at solving than I am. I’d rate the puzzle “medium,” and got caught by a misdirection or two (not an Eton collar?), but no misdirection cost me more that a moment’s confusion, and this for me a normal kind of solve, late week. I caught on to the gimmick early on, with MOOIN’WALKER, so that explained LY IN DANCER And made the other two pretty easy. I was reminded of the Eagles’ Lyin’ Eyes (lionize?).

Nancy 2:22 PM  

I'm going over the limit to defend the honor of @Hartley! Oh, @Hartley, can you ever forgive me? And, oh, @Banana (2:02), if you had heard the conviction in her voice when she told me that story. If you had heard the real excitement in her voice. You would have no doubt, no doubt at all, that she genuinely believed at the time and believes to this day that the "bodacious" COINAGE was her very own. @Hartley is an honorable person, @Banana. She does not "sell bridges." And maybe, just maybe, she had never once heard the word "bodacious" and did come up with it on her own. Maybe it popped into her mind because it was already in the zeitgeist (hi, again @Z). I certainly would like to think so.

OISK 2:22 PM  

I agree with the "very easy" verdict, but I didn't mind. While I never heard of Anya , or Lana Del Rey, once I had ANY_ only an "A" made sense to me. There was almost no other pop culture, or obscure (to me) brand names. I enjoyed it. It played like a Tuesday for me, but that is not a complaint.

Dick Swart 2:35 PM  

I had much the same story on 4 corners looking for some traction.

Got it in SE with 'bein counters'. Alas, I thought the gimmick was a play on familiar phrases with a switch on the first word ... 'bean' counters' becomes 'bein counters'.

As you can guess this held mr up in the next three. Finally realized that the answer was one dimensional and kinds stupid. From there on it was a whiz to the finish.

Not up to a Thursday trick!

CDilly52 2:38 PM  

Yes , I think you are missing that the clue does in fact ask for “ing” word, IMO. I am a census volunteer and among other things we count “beings” (BEIN) not “beans”

Mohair Sam 3:03 PM  

@Z (11:04) - Good stuff.

Two Ponies 3:19 PM  

@ JC66, Thanks. I think I'd rather botch-a-me than bocce!

MisanthropeAllergicToCats 3:59 PM  

would love it if every damn house and feral cat died immediately.

sanfranman59 4:18 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. Your results may vary.

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

Mon 4:15 4:09 1.03 60.3% Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:03 5:26 0.74 3.4% Very Easy
Wed 6:48 6:07 1.11 67.8% Medium-Challenging
Thu 7:39 9:51 0.78 17.9% Easy

Somehow, I take solace in knowing that OFL also has inexplicable solving struggles. I had little or no trouble with this one and didn't mind the theme. IMHO, the fact that there are lots of other examples doesn't detract. I don't get Rex's objection to the clue for CUPCAKES. They're not always presented in pans in the bakeries I've been in. I usually see them on a tray in baking cups.

Other thoughts:
- Like Rex, I went with the PASTA malapop at 4D, which later showed up at 55A.
- Other erasures: topS before ACES at 49A and OLe before OLA at 28A. I thought the vowel was different in Portuguese. This kept me from seeing ALPACA as quickly as I should have and added some seconds to my time.
- 'Most upright' seems like a bit of a stretch for CLEANEST.
- As a hockey fan, I remember PETR Nedved, but I'm sure that was a stumbling block for some and especially non-sports fans since it crosses SCREENS.
- OTOH, ANYA Taylor-Joy is a complete unknown to me. This is not surprising since I've not heard of any of the movies or TV shows she's been in.
- I can never remember if it's CATE or kATE Blanchett/Winslet.
- Clever clue for COINAGE.

Old Coot 4:24 PM  

@MisanthropeAllergicToCats, wow, just wow. Not getting laid enough? Maybe you should talk to @Larry Gilstrap.

Anonymous 4:31 PM  

In the former sense it’s BEIN’ used ironically. Maybe your post was ironic? Maybe I’m BEIN’ ironic! tho surely I’d know if I were.

Citizen Dain 4:52 PM  

Happy to see ANYA Taylor-Joy make (what I assume is) her puzzle debut. She is so excellent in "The Witch" and has a new movie coming out this weekend called "Thoroughbreds".

Whatsername 4:52 PM  

@Jeremy Smith at 2:07 you make an excellent point re the Edsel. Thanks for making me think about that. 😊

ChE Dave 6:18 PM  

Hated this puzzle. Ripped through the top half and the hit a wall. Finished, just not quickly.

Big beef is the inconsistent form of the themes answers.

“Moonwalker” “plain folks”vs “lyndancer” and “bencounter”?? No.

Kevin Colby 6:44 PM  

As a Brazilian, I also was confused with the "Alo" and "Ola". Both acceptable in Brazil. However, "Alo" is a telephone greeting while "Ola" is a personal greeting. Though actually most people say "Oi" and/or "Tudo bem?". However, I can see the puzzlemaster's preference to use a "Ola" than doesn't have an H as in Spanish ("Hola")

Paperback Writer 7:18 PM  

Was waiting to see how much Rex was going to loathe this puzzle, which turned out to be slightly less than I was anticipating -- his disappointment with his own performance redirected some of the venom that would have otherwise gone to the puzzle.

I struggled with the top-center stack of shorter answers for some reason. Had OPS, but for some reason thought it shouldn't be plural and switched to LAB. EPIC I still don't quite get. I didn't know those PETRs, but was eventually able to guess it.

I also was not super delighted by the theme. It just *was*, no sense of accruing delight as it revealed itself. (But even themes that I think are weak are still pretty, pretty impressive when I try to put myself in the constructor's chair.)

David W 8:59 PM  

I thought it was fun. It could have been a Wednesday perhaps, but time-wise it was Thursday for me.

As with others I had to stop and take a second look after putting in MERINO and MCMUFFIN and (for some reason) UPTOWNFUNKS and BOSS instead of FOLKS and ACES. This puzzle was just meant to throw you off a bit I think, and that's a good thing in a puzzle.

Mel Curry 11:56 PM  

But ... DELE??? Is that a word? An abbreviation? Certainly an annoyance

@quasiMojo re: cats. We had a similar problem with a previous resident of our house who creepily crept around to feed all her feral friends. I took to constantly patrolling and cleaning up that stinky cat food, trimmed a hedge she was hiding plates under, etc. That may not have been the reason but eventually she drifted away. Good luck

David W 1:42 AM  

DELE is crosswordese much like STET, used only by editors (though taught in English classes).

Patricia Markert 4:42 AM  

Agree! Welcome to the human race. Don’t blame your slowness on bad puzzle making. I found the theme amusing.

pubdef1960 7:01 AM  

I did it in half my usual time. Found it way easy for a Thursday. I zipped through so fast that I didn't really have time to appreciate the puzzle.


Jill 4:33 PM  

I think wgh is right. Ballerinas aren't line dancers, cows aren't moonwalkers, census takers aren't bean counters. Doesn't change the fact that line dancing, moon walking, and bean counting all exist in another context.

Jill 4:35 PM  

Supposedly they are starting again, so this clue is oddly current.

Unknown 11:12 AM  

Weak theme. Clues didn't make sense, answers didn't make sense. Trudged through the fill.

Unknown 2:46 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Erin 4:20 PM  


That’s how I see it.

Sorry for formatting. I’m on my phone.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Hello (or OLA) from a years-long lurker in the remote wilds of syndication. I get great pleasure in the comments from and back-and-forth between the regular contributors - thank you all for that.

Today, I find I can’t resist chiming in by offering an alternatve clue to @Lewis 6:58 AM PAYIN MANAGEMENT = “Giving rent”

How about “Giving a golden parachute” to tap into the pain for employees and investors that so often goes along with the reasons a golden parachute is used.

Keeping it simple and going with anonymous for this first foray,


spacecraft 10:53 AM  

Well. A puzzle that gave me less trouble than it gave OFL. Go figure. Started in the NR with BUCS, which gave me BOCCE. A short tome later I had MOOIN[']WALKER, and out.

A theme is not *bad* because you "can do it all day." That's like saying a pun is *bad*. You're really saying this because YOU DIDN'T THINK OF IT FIRST. I liked it, thought it was a little different. The fill, too, is maybe not the CLEANEST, but with all those OPENTOE corners, not bad at all. (BTW, how do we get from "upright" to CLEAN?} Makes me think of an upright vacuum cleaner.

I love me some PENNE PASTA, but nowadays only eat the gluten-free type. DOD is the hauntingly lovely ANYA Taylor-Joy; honorable mention to the my-era beauty STELLA Stevens. Despite ending with the horrid XMAS, I give this easy-medium puzzle a birdie.

Diana,LIW 1:02 PM  

Once I got in with the IN crowd, (on the MOOIN), the theme helped me slip IN all the other answers - not a SNAP, but not hard for a Thursday - at all. Surprise.

Actually, had quite a bit of fun when all the answers kept jumping onto my plate like a bunch of PENNE PASTA with AGED cheese. (Please hold the EELS and CAPERs, thanks.) I'll have CUPCAKES for desert with my EARLGREY. Mr. W will have APPLEPIE.

That all reminds me - a local place makes TOASTY ravioli. A nice rainy day for that menu.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and lunch

Burma Shave 1:52 PM  


but her DAM CAPERs aren’t the CLEANEST,
that CUPCAKE’S got some PETR jokes
and she’ll CARESS your BALLs and PIANISTS.


rondo 2:20 PM  

Got MOOINWALKER first and LYINDANCER last due to PASTA first residing where PENNE belonged, until the real PASTA showed up below and chased PENNE home. No troubles elsewhere.

CSI and SVU both in the same puz?

I use my entire yard as a BOCCE court when we play, but I knew the answer from the dimensions given.

From “The Right Stuff”, a description of the ladies at the Happy Bottom Riding Club: “. . . creamy CUPCAKES with loamy loins . . .”

LANA Del Rey grabbed my ATTN as yeah baby today; any of her youtube videos will confirm.

This was certainly better than a rebus, even with my PENNE PAINS.

rainforest 2:51 PM  

"You could do this all day", someone said. Well, I can't. Maybe "stain removed" for remaining aloof? Oof.

Kind of funky and kind of fun, for me. Puzzle in essentially two pieces which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it did divide into North: easier; South: harder.

Two write-overs. AngorA for ALPACA, and rayS for BUCS. The former caused some probems for a bit, but the latter was quickly fixed.

Overall, medium, with many good clues.

Anonymous 11:44 PM  

This was a great Thursday puzzle because.... I finished it. Maybe a tad easy for some of the veterans. I would like to thank everyone who contributes to this blog as it has helped me earn my stripes as perhaps a decent crossword solver. This particular puzzle was a challenge but I thought a very well constructed puzzle with not too many obscure clues/answers. On to Friday.

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