Powdered ingredient in sweet teas smoothies / THU 3-29-18 / French astronomer mathematician who wrote Traite de Mecanique Celeste / One with serious acne pejoratively / Facebook Messenger precursor / lion mythical hunter

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Constructor: Claire Muscat and David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: NUTs — theme answers contain different nuts (in circled squares); the nut names are interrupted by a single letter in each case—those letters: N, U, T (respectively)  

Theme answers:
  • LEAN CORNED BEEF (20A: Light deli offering)
  • BURIAL MOUND (35A: Traditional grave)
  • LIFE EXPECTANCY (50A: It's longer for women than it is for men)
Word of the Day: Pierre-Simon LAPLACE (38D: French astronomer / mathematician who wrote "Traité d Mécanique Céleste") —
Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace (/ləˈplɑːs/French: [pjɛʁ simɔ̃ laplas]; 23 March 1749 – 5 March 1827) was a French scholar whose work was important to the development of mathematics, statistics, physics and astronomy. He summarised and extended the work of his predecessors in his five-volume Mécanique Céleste (Celestial Mechanics) (1799–1825). This work translated the geometric study of classical mechanics to one based on calculus, opening up a broader range of problems. In statistics, the Bayesian interpretation of probability was developed mainly by Laplace.
• • •

But the acorn *is* the nut. The almond *is* the nut. The pecan *is* the nut. Why do they contain the letters N, U, T, respectively. What is being ... imagined / pictured / represented? A nut in its shell? Because ... that's simply not what's on the page. Without any title, without any wordplay, any clever revealer, this theme just dies. You have to work even to figure it out (or at least I did), and then the discovery feels like it's not quite right. I was like "Oh ... N, U, T ... alright then ... what else? What am I missing?" Cracked nuts? Split nuts? I figured there must be more. But I don't think there is.

This puzzle was probably easier than usual, but yeeeeeeet again I maimed myself with wrong answers. Stupid, innocuous stuff that I didn't see was wrong because it was so stupid and innocuous (actually, it wasn't "stupid" at all, I'm just mad). Got GOLF PRO and off the "P" put in ... RPM (24A: Dashletters (MPH)). Lethal. This meant I could not see 11D: Way some movies are seen (ON DEMAND) at all, even with a bunch of letters in place, because it looked like this ON-ER--D. Only way I ended up sorting that out was by eventually getting HBO NOW, which also took some work, since the only HBO-related app I know is HBOGO (that still exists, right?). I also had BRAIDS for PLAITS (37A: Twisted locks), which, as you can see, is a totally understandable error on a number of levels. Same number of letters, three letters in the same position, both answers fit the clue. Ugh. I "finished" the puzzle with BRAIDS in there, but the crosses just didn't check out. BBS is not a TV station, RAPLACE is not a French astronomer, and ARD is not any thing that I know of. Don't like [Bust, maybe] for ART. If it's a bust, it's art. If "maybe" here is supposed to mean "this is a word that can mean multiple things," then that is bogus because words mean multiple things all the time, and we know that, so what's with the "maybe" nonsense? [Bust, e.g.] = yes. [Bust, maybe] = no.  [Intuit] feels not-at-all right for plain old SEE, either.

Kinda winced at SEXPOT (42D: Vamp) and definitely winced at PIZZA FACE (56A: One with serious acne, pejoratively). The one is at least vaguely sexist and objectifying, while the other is explicitly cruel and stupid. You gonna do TUB OF LARD next? I'll pass on the bullying bullshit. Oh, and a cutesy "?" clue on a terrorist organization? Hard pass (31A: An end to terrorism? => QAEDA). I did, however, like BAR FIGHT, GIANT SQUIDS, and DO SHOTS, to name a few (I also liked TO NAME A FEW). The grid mostly holds up just fine. I just wish the theme had amounted to something.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    P.S. A.D.A. today refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act (I had to look it up—ADA is a dental org. to me) (28D: Law with bldg. requirements)

    P.P.S. Whooole lotta nuttiness in the DELTA clue today, across platforms. I had [It's triangle-shaped] for my clue (using Across Lite solving software). My wife printed her puzzle directly from the website and got simply [.]. Just a single dot. In the paper, there's an actual [Δ]. And just now she read online that people were getting tildes (!!!!) [~] in iOS. So that's four (4) different clues (only two of which make sense), and counting...

    P.P.S. the theme appears in somewhat more presentable fashion in the paper, where shaded squares are used for the nut name and then circled squares are used to house the N, U, and T

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Trombone Tom 12:14 AM  

    Welcome, Claire. And thanks for a perfectly pleasant puzzle.

    I do look forward to more resistance on Thursday, but that is in the editorial department.

    Strangely, the clue for 48D DELTA prints as just a period on my computer. An enigma.

    GHarris 12:17 AM  

    First to comment. Wow! Not at all troubled by the quirks in the theme that so bothered Rex. Found this to be an enjoyable exercise but dnf because I had to get help with to name a few.

    Outside The Box 12:37 AM  

    Rex is right on with this one. Some dumb cluing plus the inexplicably horrendous reference to someone with acne. Really?? Just plain stupid.
    Fell for BRAIDS at first, thought “To name a few” was too torturous.

    Good write-up Rex!

    chefwen 12:37 AM  

    Got the theme early on with ACORN and said O.K. We’re talking nuts here. Pretty easy to find the ALMOND and PECAN. Probably one of the easier Thursday puzzles around. Wish they could’ve found a place for my favorite, walnut.

    I usually cringe when I see David Steinberg up top, as I know it’s going to be difficult for me, Claire must have reined him in a little. Thank you!

    I used to work in a business park where all of the streets were named after scientists, the company I worked for was on LA PLACE court, so that was a gimme.

    Fun puzzle but I sure would have enjoyed a rebus. Maybe next week.

    catie 12:41 AM  

    I figured the theme was NUTCRACKER. The NUT was cracking... nuts.

    Anonymous 12:42 AM  

    Life's lesson no. 471:

    Don't attempt the NYT crossword puzzle while extremely tired. I tripped over myself again and again, and struggled mightily. Would rate this one Challenging based on time alone; hope I'm not the only one.

    Moly Shu 12:59 AM  

    Remind me to never get a sweet tea or smoothie if they contain powdered TARO, no thanks. I liked the puzzle just fine and thought the NUT trick was cool. Not every theme has to be some grandiose production, does it? 3 NUTs broken up by the word NUT, inserted into 3 Long entries. That’s good enough for me, simple things for simple minds.

    Unknown 1:13 AM  


    Azzurro 1:15 AM  

    QAEDA as the “End of Terrorism?” Really???

    PIZZA FACE made me cringe, but the attempt to make a joke about a group of mass murderers disgusted me. NYT should be ashamed of this puzzle.

    Davis 1:25 AM  

    The clue for DELTA showed as a tilde on he NYT iOS app. Kind of depressing how little QC goes into the app version of the puzzle.

    Unknown 1:53 AM  


    JOHN X 2:07 AM  

    Filled this in like a machine. I didn't even notice the theme answers until I was done. When I realized that the entire Thursday theme was those stupid nuts, I got a little testy.

    I'm never offended by puzzles (SEXPOT is vaguely sexist and objectifying? Christ almighty) but even I was taken aback by PIZZAFACE and QAEDA. Those are horrible and inappropriate.

    I've given up complaining about the death of the once great Thursday New York Times crossword puzzle. If you just want a puzzle that is harder than a Wednesday but easier than a Friday then this puzzle wasn't that because it was more like a dumber Tuesday with two awful answers. If you were expecting a classic NYT Thursday puzzle then this was a piece of shit. That's the editor's fault.

    That's what I think, not that anyone cares nor should they. If you liked this puzzle good for you.

    Anonymous 2:23 AM  

    What about 48A, where the answer was in the clue! ("Andre Young a.k.a. Dr. ___" ). Isn't there some kind of rule about having an answer in another clue, and here it is IN THE SAME CLUE.

    Greg Charles 2:35 AM  

    Kind of a slog for me. None of the regions came easily, and the cluing just seemed offf. I had to jump around a lot, but finally everything went in. Fun fact: almonds and pecans are drupes, like peaches and cherries. Acorn is the only true nut of the three themers.

    oliver klozoff 2:42 AM  

    Blame the word lists. Some constructors don't edit them as they should and crappy fill becomes the norm.

    If I was forced to clue QAEDA it would be something like...

    Al making front page headlines

    But I would totally redo a puzzle from scratch If QAEDA or PIZZA FACE was involved.

    You are correct - this is embarrassing and unnecessary

    Harryp 2:46 AM  

    Cute, but easy. Only hold-up was QAEDA spelled with a U. As soon as I finished, the nuts turned up in blue, so I didn't have to look for the Theme. Thursday average 30:42, today 20:01. Nuff said.

    Rick Sparker 2:54 AM  

    Come on Rex. This was a perfectly challenging yet fair and entertaining Thursday. I happened to finish in personal best time.

    jae 2:57 AM  

    Easier than yesterday's for me. Smooth and clever with some fine long downs, liked it.

    sanfranman59 3:47 AM  

    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 4:41 4:15 1.10 77.2% Medium-Challenging
    Tue 6:22 5:31 1.15 77.9% Medium-Challenging
    Wed 8:47 6:00 1.46 95.3% Very Challenging
    Thu 9:32 10:01 0.95 42.6% Medium

    I was munching on orange-honey almonds from today's farmer's market and chuckled aloud during this solve. It was an odd puzzle as I found myself enjoying much of it but getting the heebie-jeebies in a few places.

    Marty Van B 4:21 AM  

    It was definitely a bit shocking to see QAEDA turn up in the puzzle especially with its cutsey cluing. When I thought about it though, I realized that terrorist organizations are no stranger to puzzle. Patty Hearst (aka Tania) and the SLA are referred to quite frequently. Depending on who you ask, there are others as well.

    @Rex, this comment section could really use threading. There are various ways to accomplish that (eg http://disqus.com/admin/blogger). It's hard to bandy back and forth with others when comments are only shown chronologically. The quality of the conversation would really improve and there are tools for banning users who are toxic or otherwise trolls. Presently, only ctrl+f helps locate topics of particular individual interest.

    Conrad 4:40 AM  

    @Azzuro -- I wondered the same thing about QAEDA until I realized it's the "end" of "Al Qaeda". Doesn't make me like it any better.

    Anonymous 4:44 AM  

    @catie may be on to something. Favorite misdirect: Sos before SPF.

    Before BAGEL, donut. This led me to consider BARFIngs!

    @Rex - the “maybe” in the clue for ART is synonymous with e.g. Full disclosure: having muffed the spelling for QAEDA, had uRn before ART. Doh! as the bard would say.

    Anonymous 5:01 AM  

    @Rex - isn’t “maybe” in the clue for 32D simply synonymous with e.g.? Full disclosure: having muffed the spelling on QAEDA, I had uRn before ART. Doh! as the bard might say.

    Favorite misdirect—Sos before SPF.

    I think @catie may have best grokked the theme.

    BarbieBarbie 5:24 AM  

    Can’t comment on difficulty from my solve time-fell asleep and the iPad stayed awake. This did not feel easy-peasey. Maybe medium?

    I liked this puzzle. It was energetic and fun. Not like a Thursday with twists, but a lot of do-overs that made me go ohhhhhh... brAIdS for PLAITS, WItchy for WICCAN, grid for EDGE, QuEDA for QAEDA- ok, that one was just bad spelling. Unsnarling and correcting all that was just fun. The fill was fun. Recognizing I was looking at a double-entendre NUTCRACKER (hi @Catie) was really fun.

    DavidS never disappoints and congratulations to Claire Muscat.

    TonySaratoga 5:48 AM  

    PIZZAFACE was just cringingly cruel and I could not figure out the tilde/DELTA thing for the life of me.

    Loren Muse Smith 5:56 AM  

    Man oh man – I never would’ve seen that the skipped over letters spelled N-U-T. Hah. I would’ve been just fine with this sans NUT layer; it just seems like a “cracked nut” trick (Hi, @catie). That the inner letters make NUT is an added whoomp of cool for me.

    PIZZA FACE does feel mean. I would imagine it’s a hard call for editors and constructors, who deal with in-the-language phrases, to cull entries – again, in-the-language phrases – based on their ick factor. We all have our own personal ick factors. (PIZZA FACE as an entry doesn’t evoke for me the disgust that, say, TRUMP would. I’m not being snarky or taking secret little pot-shots. The guy had firmly established himself as a sort of emetic for me way before he was president.) I can’t help but consider the issue from a descriptivist standpoint: this is stuff that is definitely in our language, so it’s fair game for a crossword. IDI, FATSO, TOSSPOT, HOARDER, SPAZ, UZI, TUB OF LARD, QAEDA (hi, @Azzurro) don’t enrage me. But BUT, the n-word would. “See you next Tuesday” would bother me. Glad I don’t have to be an editor.

    My first thought for “twisted locks” was “chignon. If I could re-imagine myself, I’d sport a chignon and wear suits like Grace Kelly’s green one in Rear Window. I would stop talking so fast and stop eating like I hadn’t eaten in weeks. I’d be the epitome of elegance and class. URBANE. Just a tad aloof without being all stuck-up and snooty. I would stop calling people GIANT SQUID FACE. Anyway, that’s where my thoughts went as I checked to see if “chignon” would fit.

    Claire – congrats on your debut. You’ve got a helluva mentor there, girl. Nice cracked-nut theme and the oh-so-SLYEST sneaking in of NUT.

    PS - @Marty Van B – I couldn’t disagree more on the threading suggestion. In fact, I would argue that we should actually lose that ability on smart-phones. If people would just reply to someone as @Soandso, chronologically at the end of the entire section, then the threads are pretty easy to follow. When you start embedding responses up in the bowels of the comments, section it turns into a spelunking exercise to sniff out where a new comment has appeared. Toward the end of the day when there are a bajillion comments to mine through, looking for the new comment hiding up in there is massively frustrating and time-consuming. Back when I left here because the delayed moderation was too off-putting, I tried out Wordplay. Their system is the one you describe. I hated hated hated it. Hated it. Love Deb Amlen, love the commenters over there. Couldn’t abide the system.

    Tim Cook 6:17 AM  

    Use the I-phone or the Android. They display a reply comment under a posting. The desktop version does not. The phone reply to a comment shows it underneath the comment. The desktop posts it chronologically.

    Hmmmmm 6:21 AM  

    Spot on write up, Rex. Pizzaface??!! Seriously!!??

    YaleND Dave 6:32 AM  

    To me, "Bust, maybe" means the clue might be referring to "Bust" as ART, might be "Bust" as a DRUG RAID, or might be referring to some other meaning for the word. So, yeah, basically the same thing as "Bust, e.g." . . . in other words, the two clues present a distinction without a difference.

    You're totally correct about QUEDA; just brutal. At least I didn't have to start my morning with STORMY DANIELS or, much worse, KELLYANE Conway. (Actually, a "Stormy" reference would have likely made me laugh, but the day Conway makes the NYT puzzle is probably the day I stop playing!)

    Jofried 6:34 AM  

    I really enjoyed this, and finished in 9:11, fastest Thursday ever for me!

    Lewis 7:00 AM  

    I saw the theme as an embed-within-an-embed, which to me is meta-cool. Has this ever been done before? I don't remember it. In both constructors' notes there is nothing about "cracked nuts" or "nutcracker", but maybe that was it, who knows? But embed-within-embed is a wow for me. The theme did help me get LEANCORNEDBEEF.

    A passel of lovely answers (TONAMEAFEW, BARFIGHT, DOSHOTS, GIANTSQUID) and clues (WICCAN, MOWS, GOLFPRO, MPH, EDGE) and a rare sighting of a clue for a word ending in EST (SLYEST) that does not include "the most".

    I had the two winces that have been brought up numerous times already, but overall the puzzle had the bite I love and cleverness, and that won me over.

    Anonymous 7:05 AM  

    Forgive the crudeness, but I thought the theme was going to be Bust a Nut and I was surprised NYT was up for that idea. Was expecting the revealer...

    kitshef 7:27 AM  

    Yesterday’s theme I described as thin and weak. Today’s theme (which I interpreted as @catie's nutcrackers) makes me long for yesterday’s. Kept staring, wondering how that could possibly all there is. And the difficulty was somewhere between a Tuesday and a Wednesday.

    But at least the fill was good, terrible threes aside. MANTA crossing GIANT SQUID was particularly pleasing, and I like ‘ddle’ words: ADDLE, coddle, muddle, fiddle.

    @Marty Van B - I am with @lms. I hate threaded comments the same way I hate the way email services group emails by conversation by default, and you have to figure out how to get rid if it. I hope things stay the way they are at least for us dinosaur PC users.

    QuasiMojo 7:48 AM  

    Rex, you are SPOT on today. (The Brits call acne "spots.")

    I normally love Mr. Steinberg's efforts and clapped my hands with glee when I saw his name up top (although FEARful his collaborator was some celeb I'd never heard of.) But too many tone-deaf entries today for me to give this one a thumbs-up. No matter how you slice it, PIZZA FACE is just insulting and tasteless. Not worthy of the NYT.

    I found it very easy, however, and sailed through it in less time than yesterday's. I had a DELTA symbol on my online version.

    The highlight was watching Chita Rivera on The Judy Garland Show. Thanks, @Rex for the embedded video. And the flock of male dancers surroundig her! That Judy sure knew how to please her fan base!

    TARO is not for smoothies 7:50 AM  

    TARO is in bubble tea (which is "sweet" tea, I guess...but not "sweet tea" in the southern sense). But, as an avid smoothie drinker, I know of no place that puts TARO in their smoothies. I'm guessing it would be used for creaminess, maybe? But that's what yogurt and bananas and peanut butter are for...NOT TARO. That's nasty. Not sure where the constructors (or WS) get their smoothies...certainly not Juice Gen or Liquitaria.

    I new this was a DS puzzle from PLAITS. In fact, when I saw that answer I looked at who did the constructing...my suspicion was confirmed. That is a signature DS answer.

    Anonymous 7:50 AM  

    Pizza face does not pass the breakfast test. I think @LMS saying that Trump is a worse answer is just plain silly. But each to their own opinion. There are always constructors who like to push the limit by putting in controversial words and phrases (although some people want to object to everything to be PC). I had to work to finish the puzzle so it was not easy. The theme here was very thin and would do better on an earlier day of the week.

    clk 8:02 AM  

    Ugh. On the Wordplay blog the constructor refers to PIZZAFACE as “fun fill.”

    Birchbark 8:12 AM  

    If LEAN CORNED BEEF is a light deli option, the salad presumably floats.

    As they say in Spinal Tap, "It's such a fine line between clever and stupid." And a finer one yet between stupid and mad. I know this from experience. As my eyes begin to fail, it becomes harder to see the distinction between the now-cool nerd and the scandalous PIZZA FACE, which I took as just another version of the unremarkable "teen woe" that shows up in the puzzle every couple of weeks.

    Rather than figure it out, I get my crowbar and hammer, go into the woods, and work on tearing apart the old shack that collapsed last fall. It is mostly fun.

    Anonymous 8:12 AM  

    Also had QuEDA at first, then doubled down with uRn for 32D, making 37A PLAInS. Thought all three were oddly clued until I finally decided an uRn simply couldn’t be a bust, even with “maybe” latitude.

    Two Ponies 8:15 AM  

    The only trick to this Thursday was figuring out why it got published at all. Even the three nuts are not particularly interesting. People eat almonds and pecans but not acorns so what else do they have in common? They come from trees. Okay, so what?
    It's been at least a month since we have had a decent Thursday so I guess Thursdays are dead. Where do I send the flowers?
    The puzzle did have its good moments but not that many.

    As for the comment section issue I like it when people include the time of the comment they are responding to. Works for me.

    I read Rex's bio of Laplace and I had a raised-brow reaction because even if you really love the topic, Five Volumes? Wow.

    Pizza Face was borderline offensive and perhaps gets a pass because it is such a childish insult but normalizing terrorism by including it in a pastime just seems to show how resigned and accepting of something horrible we can become if we are constantly exposed to it.

    wgh 8:33 AM  

    It’s one of those that’s more impressive from a construction standpoint than a solving one.

    Anonymous 8:34 AM  

    Famous quotation of LaPlace, a favorite of atheists. When he presented his entire treatise on the universe to Napoleon, Napoleon objected that in his system there was no mention of God. La Place answered: “Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse.”

    I believe Karl Marx quoted this somewhere, when he replied to critics who said that it was much more prudent to declare oneself an agnostic than an atheist.

    Anon. i.e. Poggius

    Nampa bob 8:54 AM  

    Kept trying to clean the tilde off my iPhone screen so I could find the clue...

    ‘merican in Paris 8:59 AM  

    On the train to Marseille, typing this on an iPhone. Liked the puzzle overall, but it gave me a lot of resistance . I agree with others that the theme was just OK, but I liked most of the fill.

    I had so many over-writes I lost count. Wrote PineapplE long before PIZZA FACE. Have never heard the latter; I was thinking of the former President of Panama who (I think) Reagan imprisoned.

    Like some others, I got stuck on “donut”. When I saw eventually BAGEL emerge, I uttered a Homerific “DOH!”.

    Nice to see LA PLACE in the puzzle. The 19th century was definitely France’s age d’or for artists and scientists.

    @chefwen: walnuts? I would have guessed your favorite nut would be a macadamias!

    Anonymous 9:02 AM  

    Having grown up with severe acne, and now sporting the resulting scars, the “pejoratively” part of the clue made it acceptable to me.

    If you’ll pardon the pun, growing up with acne makes you rather thick-skinned.

    Lojman 9:15 AM  

    Was hoping for some sort of ‘buried nut’ revealer - that’s how I read the N-U-T inside the other nuts. Oh well.

    Otherwise nice puzzle, well done!

    Z 9:21 AM  

    I agree with @Lewis that this is a neat bit of construction, but also with Rex with having that empty, “but why?” feeling. Why are we sticking NUT randomly into various nuts stuck inside longer phrases. What’s holding it together? “Cracked nuts” is an interesting attempt at coming up with a reason, except none of these are nuts I would ever get in a shell.

    I’m never “offended” by answers in a puzzle but I often wonder, “But why?” PIZZA FACE is mean adolescent taunting of the worst kind. Why include it? The best reaction is going to be “that’s mean” and then downhill to the arched side eye and opprobrium. My reaction to the QAEDA clue was more, “I wish” than offense, but I get that for many any misdirection that even hints at cute will be too soon.

    80% easy, but the NW corner was sitting mostly blank and I was wondering if I was really going to have a Thursday DNF on a mostly easy puzzle. TERI, LEAN, and MANTA were not giving me the letters I needed to grok any of the first three downs. From somewhere URBANE appeared, to SNUG to NEMEAN to EMBARGOES and ONES and only a few precious nanoseconds to undookify STELMO to ST. ELMO and a gentle d’oh as I realized “patron as in patron saint.”

    I was a little surprised to get home from my triple header of ultimate games last night to find a tiresome thread in the comments for yesterday’s puzzle riffing on a misinterpretation of a comment I made on, I think, Tuesday’s puzzle. Free life advice, if you find yourself thinking you might need to dig out some quotations from the Federalist Papers to prove a point in the comments sections of a crossword blog, stop, take a deep breath, pour yourself a nice adult beverage, and do just about anything else. I assure you that you will feel better and live longer if you do.

    Cliff 9:27 AM  

    Solving on iOS, and got BAGEL first so I entered TILDE for 48D. Then thought to change spelling to TILDA to fit with TETRA; what a mess that SW became until I saw 48A clue and realized something was screwed up with the clueing.

    Mohair Sam 9:38 AM  

    There's a teenager or two out there today solving this thing who may not agree that PIZZAFACE is "fun fill".

    Hungry Mother 9:39 AM  

    Wednesdayish for me. Would have been faster if I hadn’t had EnBARGOES for too long. Didn’t like PIZZAFACE.

    Anonymous 9:41 AM  

    Almonds are NOT nuts.

    Tita 9:43 AM  

    @Marty - what @lms said - too hard to find the latest comment - just do the (manual) convention of @Who.
    Or as per @Tim C, use a phone.

    @Catie - thank you for NUTCRACKER! Made me enjoy the theme more.

    It's a mostly fine puzzle.
    However, Will, it is a Tuesday or Wednesday. This ain't no Thursday puz.
    My standards are much lower, but I do feel that Thursdays have been dissapointing of late.
    @Two Ponies - lol - I'll send some flowers too...

    I tried to not be grossed out by PIZZAFACE, but did they really call it "fun fill"? I guess they never had zits, never were too fat, too skinny, too dumb, too smart, yada, to get tormented. Or maybe they did, and it made them stronger.

    @lms - I see what you're doing with that avatar...

    OK...I'm gonna go have that adult drink now.

    ArtO 9:45 AM  

    Hey Rex, why beat yourself up for putting in logical but wrong answers. We all do that and it's part of the challenge of solving to recognize them and make the necessary corrections to overcome their misleading action.

    Wholeheartedly agree with PIZZAFACE as a real downer in an otherwise cute puzzle with the usually weird/misdirecting David Steinberg clues.

    Sir Hillary 9:47 AM  

    As a theme:
    -- Slow-pouring culinary ingredient -- DARKMOLASSES
    -- Apian hierarchy? -- BEEECHELON
    -- Common synagogue name -- TEMPLEBETHEL


    WItChy before WICCAN.

    Not my favorite Thursday.

    Anonymous 9:48 AM  

    Anon 9:04 PM yesterday

    Your timing is fantastic. Just yesterday a US district judge ruled against an Obama administration HHS mandate which clearly violated the first amendment's establishment clause.

    - In a major victory for the First Amendment right to religious freedom, a federal judge ruled in favor of Catholic Benefits Association (CBA) members, issuing declaratory relief and a permanent injunction against the Obamacare CASC (contraception, abortifacient, sterilization, and related counseling) Mandate. The ruling also eliminates $6.9 billion in fines that have accumulated against CBA members.

    The judgment means that the government cannot force Catholic employers who are members of the CBA to provide the mandate CASC coverage. The decision also declares the Mandate is illegal as applied to CBA members. While an injunction stops the federal government from enforcing the CASC Mandate against CBA members, the declaratory judgment speaks directly to the illegality of what the federal government has been trying to do to CBA members for years. The court stated that the federal government "violated RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act)" by trying to coerce members into providing CASC services.

    Four years ago, the CBA challenged the Department of Health and Human Services' mandate (HHS mandate) in the district court claiming that the mandates were in direct conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

    Two federal lawsuits were filed in 2014 by the Catholic Benefits Association (CBA), a membership association that represents over 1,000 Catholic employers. The goal was to protect Catholic employers from federal government mandates that sought to force Catholic employers to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs – a goal that was achieved with this month's ruling.

    U.S. District Court Judge David Russell ruled that his decision is permanent. The court's injunction binds not only the current administration but future administrations, protecting CBA members from any other regulation in the future that tries to use the "women's preventive services mandate" to force CBA members to violate their conscience.

    I get the feeling you're not an attorney. Still, I'll direct you to a source which might help you understand your error regarding the establishment clause:

    William And Mary Bill of rights journal Vol. 14, issue 1.

    Give a read, and if you remain unconvinced, so be it.

    GILL I. 9:50 AM  

    Yes...I think @Rex is spot on today. PIZZA FACE and all.
    I will start though, by saying that I liked many of the long entries - heck, I liked some of the little ones as well. My downloaded version had the N U T in circles and that was it. The puzzle was screaming for a clever reveal - like the one @catie suggested - NUTCRACKER. This felt like an itch that needed some bodacious scratching.
    When I entered LEAN CORNED BEEF, I had to ask myself why anyone would want it LEAN. The fat is what gives you the yum factor. I suppose if you had it LEAN, you could delay buying a BURIAL MOUND because your LIFE EXPECTANCY just tripled. You'd have to leave off the BAGEL, PIZZA and that disgusting slimy OKRA. I bet if a Spaniard caught that GIANT SQUID, he'd serve it up as "Calamari en su tinta."
    DIOR's J'adore doesn't. Escale a Parati does.
    It's going to be about 80 today in Sacramento and we will probably continue with protesters blocking our main roads so I think I will spend my time at the pups park with my friends and maybe DO SHOTS....

    Hark Worder 9:52 AM  

    A puzzle with a mere three themers that are types of nuts, that relies on not one but at least two offensive answers, is bad enough. But when one of the nuts is something that's generally considered to be a seed (yes I know, but ever hear anyone say pass me that bowl of acorns), the thing really should've gone back to the drawing board.

    I get that it's hard to navigate the many and growing types of sensitivities, but some are just gimmies.

    Pizza pies. Work harder.

    Anonymous 9:56 AM  

    This room needs a bust, maybe. Or maybe a painting. Or, say, a Mobile. Ya know.... Some ART.

    Imfromjersey 9:57 AM  

    I know they were trying to get cute by using Qaeda as a word with a Q without a U, but I lost a friend in the World Trade Center on 9/11 who left a wife and 3 young kids behind thanks to them, so I don't think this passes the "breakfast test". For example, if Qaeda is okay, how about "WWII leader Adolf"? Or "family man Charles?" For Manson. I don't think so. I liked the theme but that area could have been reworked.

    Ellen S 10:01 AM  

    Once again the Puzzazz app on my iPad perfectly matches the print version. 48D shows a little triangle, not a dot, not a tilde. And for the themers, the letters naming the nuts are shaded, and the “N” “U” and “T” are circled, so it’s easy to see the theme.

    I thought the theme was cute, but like others flinched at PIZZA FACE and QAEDA. I rate puzzles by comparing them to how I felt with puzzle of yore — one Sunday puzzle decades ago had a theme of all the Triple Crown-winning racehorses. I loved it, and thought I should keep it for reference (in the days before Google and Wikipedia, that kind of list was hard to come up with. @Jeff Chen over at Xwordinfo notes, “Rich Norris over at the LAT once asked me to get rid of FOUR EYES because he wanted readers to come away uplifted from a puzzle...”. — yeah, and it’s rare that the NYT puzzles accomplish that any more.

    Anonymous 10:03 AM  

    Pizza face? What’s next? Pickle puss? Awful memories of middle/ high school that I don’t need

    Hazel 10:03 AM  

    We also call acne, acne - lots of spots make up acne. A Scottish word for spots is plooks - maybe that'll come in handy for a crossword one day.

    I also had a delta symbol on my Android app.

    pabloinnh 10:10 AM  

    Well, since "dash letters" is clearly a plural, then "modus operandi" obviously begins with an s, so I confidently entered "SOP" and spent the next dismal part of my morning trying to untangle the mess I created for myself. Pride goeth, and so on.

    Like many others, didn't see much of a theme here and miss Thursday's expected trickiness.

    Stanley Hudson 10:12 AM  

    I echo what others have said about PIZZA FACE and QUEDA.

    On a lighter note, happy birthday to my mom, 81 years young today.

    Nancy 10:15 AM  

    I found this almost impossible and came close to giving up several times. But I hung on and finished. Rex's mistakes were my mistakes too, and I went through the exact same thought processes in changing BRAIDS to PLAITS because of RAPLACE and ARD. Also didn't know HBO NOW. The theme embed of AL MOND enabled me to change YER to MOR in the "Eat ___ Chikin" slogan. And so the theme, strange as it was, proved useful. Some thoughts.

    Even if I wanted to eat at Chick-Fil-A -- and I don't -- I would pass it by because of that truly cringe-making slogan. With a slogan like that, their slogan really should be: Make America Stupid Again.

    I don't care how LEAN it is. CORNED BEEF is not a "light deli offering".

    Why is QAEDA "the end of terrorism". More like the beginning and the middle, it seems to me. Thought it was a terrible clue.

    Very hard and usually I like very hard. But I found this quite a bit of a chore and not especially enjoyable. I'm not quite sure why.

    Suzie Q 10:17 AM  

    So those big balls that look like fish eyes in the beverages at the international market café are taro? I had no idea and have never dared to order one. Heck, I don't even like pulp in my OJ.

    Loren, You seem uncharacteristically morose lately. What's wrong?
    I sure was hoping Rex would show me the meta puzzle that I must have missed.
    My version has a period for 48D. What does Delta have to do with it?
    I don't like thinking about scabs over my corn flakes.
    Is Will on vacation or something?

    michiganman 10:18 AM  

    Loved pun from John X (2:07AM) "When I realized that the entire Thursday theme was those stupid nuts, I got a little testy."

    Ellen S 10:19 AM  

    @LMS: I liked your avatar of LA Places. Just upped the fun factor by a bunch.

    mathgent 10:21 AM  

    If PIZZAFACE is commonly used, it's welcome in my crossword. Since a lot of us recognize it with disgust, I suppose it is. I've been out of schools for twenty-five years so I've never heard it. I'll ask some of my teacher friends.

    If it had been around when I wa a kid, we probably would have used it. It would get a laugh. We would all insult each other in a good-humored bantering way and many of us were fighting acne.

    It just occurred to me. There wasn't much pizza around when I was growing up in the forties.

    Rex often complains about filling in a plausible wrong answer. I don't have that problem very often because I'm not trying to solve quickly and because I solve on paper. Before I fill in word, I check to see if it seems to fit with the crossing entries. I suppose that it is good strategy to fill in the first entry that makes sense if you are going for speed.

    Rob 10:48 AM  

    I don't care about the NUT theme at all but I thought it was a very good puzzle, one of those where my initial pass didn't get much but I steadily and smoothly uncovered more as I went along.

    Anonymous 10:58 AM  

    David is a personal friend of Wills, used to be his co-editor, so that's why this puzzle made it in as is.

    Nancy 11:06 AM  

    Thanks to @Greg Charles and others who explained that the ALMOND is a fruit, not a nut. You see, while I'm good about eating vegetables, I'm terrible about eating fruit. I pretty much never eat it at all. (Unless it's in a pie of course; I have a rare gift for turning even the healthiest food into a sinful indulgence.) But no squirrel eats more nuts than I do. So now I figure I'm getting all the fruit I need.

    When I was still quite young -- I don't remember how young -- I read about a longitudinal scientific study of a bunch of nurses who were followed over 40 years to see how long they lived and why. Not just diet, but all aspects of their lifestyles were compared. And the one thing that the longest-lived of them had in common was that their diets included nuts. Lots of nuts. I remember thinking: Really? Oh, c'mon, give me a break. Nevertheless, years later, I needed to find foods that would fill me up and substitute for sweets (I was pre-diabetic then) and fats (I have high cholesterol). Nuts, in particular ALMONDS, was the solution. Will they enable me to live forever despite all my various risk factors? If they do, y'all will be the first to know :)

    Joseph Michael 11:22 AM  

    Hey, Claire and David, I really enjoyed solving your puzzle.

    The theme within a theme was cute and there was a lot of bite in the grid without resorting to a bunch of obscure proper nouns. (I'm ignoring you, Monsieur LaPlace). Answers felt current and in the language. Clues made me think.

    Thanks for a bright start to my Thursday, especially after yesterday's drekfest.

    jb129 11:22 AM  

    Pizza Face IS nasty ... so I don't feel bad saying that I hated this puzzle.

    Anonymous 11:22 AM  

    Clarifying some confusion as I had to look this up a couple days ago while changing TV service.

    HBO Go is mobile watching app if you have HBO through your cable company.

    HBO Now is a stand-alone streaming subscription app if you don't have home HBO.

    Malsdemare 11:23 AM  

    I finished without a google or a cheat, and that's nice. I thought the NUT theme was cute, but then I have pretty low standards; I'm happy if I actually SEE the theme. Some great stuff — ONDEMAND, HBONOW, URBANE, PLAITS, and some stuff that made me wince — PIZZAFACE, and QAEDA. SEXPOT didn't bother me; we have studmuffins, and spongeworthy to describe those we find hunky so the language in some cases is equally objectifying. I do hate terms that reduce people to body parts, colors, challenges, but terms that say "Hey, you float my boat, you're pretty," don't offend.

    I usually find Steinberg's puzzles a challenge but this one, while it took a while, was quite doable. For what it’s worth, the Times crossword app on my ipad had "triangle" for DELTA.

    Banana Diaquiri 11:52 AM  

    @John X:
    I've given up complaining about the death of the once great Thursday New York Times crossword puzzle.

    Oddly, I ran through my books of LA Times Sundays that I do just before dousing the lights, so picked up a NYT volume, which has late 90s puzzles. they are Much Harder; even ignoring the occasional dated clue/fill.

    Unknown 12:00 PM  

    I'm with you, Rick. Fun solve, record time.

    Bob Mills 12:04 PM  

    Had "BRAIDS" instead of "PLAITS" at 37-Across. So, DNF. I agree with Rex that the theme was weak.

    puzzlehoarder 12:05 PM  

    Why does one of the constructors think PIZZAFACE is a " fun entry?" Because she's a kid and sometimes they just don't think. Why do we have entries like that and QAEDA? Because they're debuts and Will Shortz has never met one that he didn't like. Maybe this emphasis on fresh material has always been a feature of the puzzle but nowadays it's enshrined.

    Giving credit where it's due the PIZZAFACE entry was clued about as tastefully as it could be. The comment from @imfromjersey is a good example of why the QAEDA clue was so tone deaf. They may be a passe term for the current state of terrorism but the wounds they inflicted are recent and raw. A clue like " Synonym for evil" would have been much more palatable.

    This was two puzzles in one for me. The north and south tiers were early week easy. In the middle I found myself floundering while striking on clue after clue. Backfilling from the south and some careful rereading made it doable.

    This was a three nut puzzle and cracked or in uncracked it felt as odd as a third nut in it's own schizophrenic way.

    On my printout the 48D clue was just a period and nothing else. I twice misread the PIKE clue as "Driving position". Up north when filling in the last letter of EDGE I put in an N in place of the E. That's with pencil and paper so I have no idea what was going on in my mind but it did cause a little delay.

    Not the best Thursday but I did get some puzzlingly out of it.

    Anonymous 12:06 PM  

    I’m of a magic age to have encountered PIZZA FACE mostly in cartoons and sitcoms and the like. Shout out to the guy at my high school who had particularly bad acne, and, from what I could tell, didn’t let it, as they say nowadays, define him. It had to be socially isolating for him—to some degree at least (he was enough my senior that I didn’t know him)—but that’s not unequivocally always a bad thing. Society being what it is.

    Z 12:28 PM  

    @anon9:48 - Are you referencing CBA v. Sibelius? Because you wrote, “Just yesterday a US district judge ruled against an Obama administration HHS mandate which clearly violated the first amendment's establishment clause,” about a decision that was written in 2014. Most of your facts are sort of right, but it looks like you got the gist of your argument from InfoWars are some similar “expert.” Or maybe I’m mistaken and you will illuminate us all with 5-10 links to the actual court decision from “just yesterday.”

    Note to the Moderators - Isn’t @anon9:48 wildly off topic?

    Joe Bleaux 12:39 PM  

    Maybe PIZZA FACE would've been more, um, palatable had it been clued as someone's villain. (He showed up in the kids' My Little Pony and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stories. Maybe even Dick Tracy at some point?)

    Bagelboy 1:18 PM  

    yeah, weak theme. Also had BRAIDS. But I figured it had to be LAPLACE which sounds french but never heard of PLAITS. Also GPS crossing GOLFPRO originally, LEFT for WENT. Eventually worked through it all. I found medium-challenging- at the long end of Thursday times, which I usually complete.

    Teedmn 1:22 PM  

    I found the cluing on this to be tricky and the SQUIDS QAEDA crossing is filled with black ink because, "huh?" I intuit it now but it took a bit of in/out before I settled on it. As far as ART for "Bust, maybe" at 32D, I see it as, you have some ART, maybe it's a "bust", maybe an oil. Fine in my book.

    M first thought, not entered, at 37A was DREADS for twisted locks. And then there's the poor substitute teacher in high school who was called PIZZA FACE for her poor, acne-scarred cheeks. I never used the term myself, that I can remember; it disgusted me then, as now.

    Wanted BURIAL grOUND at 35A, didn't fit. Splatzed in 50A from the tail-end ANCY. People put powdered TARO in smoothies? Smoothies are a bandwagon I have not jumped upon.

    @Nancy, the Chick-Fil-A slogan is semi-funny, if you see it on a billboard, depicting the cow who is writing it in poor English.

    Someone praised the AVCX puzzle yesterday - I think it was @Z. Boy, if it hadn't been called a good puzzle, I would have never stuck with figuring out the theme. I stared at it a good long while and even explained my dilemma to my husband (who didn't care in the least this time, hi @LMS). Finally, wham. And yes, it was nice.

    We just saw NEMEAN about five weeks ago so I got that one, and it was also a Steinberg oeuvre. Claire, good luck in constructing and congrats on your NYTimes debut. I'll look for your name in the future.

    Kimberly 1:31 PM  

    Not clever. Not tricksy. Not a Thursday. Fail.

    Anonymous 1:32 PM  

    @Z You are correct about the date not being yesterday. It was March 15th, 2018.

    Here's the case: Case No. CIV-13-1092-D.

    REACHING SOULS INTERNATIONAL, INC., et al., Plaintiffs, v. ALEX M. AZAR, II, Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, et al., Defendants.

    United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma.

    Applicable Law: 42 U.S.C. § 2000
    Cause: 42 U.S.C. § 2000 Job Discrimination (Public Accomodations)
    Nature of Suit: 440 Civil Rights: Other

    Ben 2:06 PM  

    Two MAJOR quibbles today: first, CANOE is not a craft -- it is an activity. Macrame or lanyards are camp crafts. No one makes the canoe they use at camp.

    Second, the deep-sea peril in 20k Leagues is not a GIANTSQUID, but rather a giant cuttlefish. Surprised English prof. Rex didn't point that one out.

    James Masonry 2:29 PM  

    @Ben Silver 2:06PM

    CANOE most certainly is a craft - a watercraft. Read the clue.

    Actually, CUTTLEFISH is a much better answer.

    Masked and Anonymous 2:45 PM  

    Aww. Nuts.

    Congratz, re: the deb(n)ut, to Claire Muscat darlin.

    Masked & Anonymo4Us


    Z 2:45 PM  

    @Teedmn - Trying to avoid spoilers here, but when I finally grokked the karma clues - Wow Wow Wow. “What a cad might come back as” made no sense for the answer, makes no sense, makes no sense... OH! Light comes on. Impressive. That extra level of word play, that extra reason for doing something, takes this week’s AVCX to a level we haven’t seen enough of lately in the NYTX.

    @Ben Silver - LOL - We’ve all been there. Not Arts and Crafts.

    @anon1:32 - Let me see if I have this straight, the “ruling just yesterday” regarding the CBA case ruled on by Judge Russell is really the Reaching Souls case ruled on two weeks ago by Judge DeGiusti. And we care about these religious bigotry cases here because two days ago I mentioned that the Establishment Clause bans theocracy. Seriously, go find someone who cares. What did you think of today’s puzzle?

    TomAz 2:51 PM  

    I did the puzzle on my iPad and had a tilde as the clue for DELTA as well. I don’t think that’s the constructors fault but jeez ... attention Will Shorz: I pay money for this.

    I cannot imagine on what planet anyone thought PIZZA FACE was a good answer. I bet Trump would have had a belly laugh though.

    For the life of me I could not figure out wth TONA ME A FEW meant. Is that some sort of new slang? But then.. DOh!

    The nut thing was fine if unexciting.

    semioticus (shelbyl) 3:02 PM  

    That QAEDA clue was... not good. I had _ _ _ _ A and thought to myself "no, they didn't". And then it became _ _ E _ A and I still refused to put it in. And then came Q_E_A and I had no choice. I had the McKayla Maroney expression on my face for the rest of my solving experience. Sorry. There are only a few comedians that can pull that off, and as far as I know Claire and David are not there yet.

    The fill was groan-inducing at certain points (PIZZAFACE?) but was still an improvement over what we've been fed for the past few days. The clues were hit or miss -as I have mentioned above- but were still fun enough. The theme was weak, unfortunately. I agree with Rex, it definitely needed a revealer of sorts. But, it was consistent as much as it can be.

    Anyway, not bad. Definitely the best puzzle of the week so far, although that's not saying much.

    GRADE: B-, 3.15 stars.

    Anonymous 3:12 PM  

    I can't speak for anon 1:32, but what I said earlier stands. The judgment from the US District Court for the western district of Oklahoma did render a judgment yesterday. I don't know the actual name of the case, but the plaintiffs are known familiarly as the CBA ( Catholic Benefits Association) the defendants were commonly called Obamacare CASC.

    I'm not sure what the Reaching Souls case is, or if it pertains to the point I was trying to make. And that point is simply, that your assertion of a few days ago is incorrect. Backwards in fact. I felt, and still do, that Judge Russell's decision vindicates my proposition that the first amendment protects people from the government. Not the government from people.

    And though you only thought you were asking me, I'll bite and say I was little let down by today's puzzle. I like a rebus on Thursday.

    Mr. Benson 3:22 PM  

    "Bust, maybe" is a perfectly fine clue for ART. It could be a painting or it could be a mosaic or it could be a collage... or it could be a bust, maybe. The way "sedan, maybe" would be a fine clue for car.

    kitshef 3:23 PM  

    @Nancy 11:06am - it's more complicated than that.

    Botanically, all nuts are fruits but not all fruits are nuts. Any true nuts you eat - including ACORNs, - are fruits.

    But commonly, a lot of things that are not true nuts - or even fruits - are called nuts. PECANs and ALMONDs are not nuts botanically. The whole thing that comes off an almond tree is a fruit called a drupe, and what you eat are the seeds.

    The question is whether that article used the botanical or common definition of NUT. If it's the former, you need to get more acorns in your diet for it to pay off (note: stick to white oak aoorns - the red oak acorns are bitter).

    Ben 3:42 PM  

    @James Masonry Ah I never even considered craft was being used in that way! Color me embarrassed 😅 Thanks for pointing that out!

    Also, I don't really understand all the sturm und drang over the QAEDA clue -- seemed rather clever to me!

    Nancy 4:18 PM  

    @kitshef (3:23) -- It's the common definition of "nut" that was used in the longevity study. I managed to find the link from all those decades ago. It's why I hope to live forever and you can too :) Here's the link: Nut Eaters Live Longer!

    Anonymous 4:41 PM  

    Err, not quite right with the interpretation of "fruit" and "nut" there (my botany education offers only rare occasions to be a real know-it-all stickler in the everyday world).

    As written, @Greg Charles was generally correct. However, acorns are actually fruits as well (even more so than almonds or pecans, as I'll explain). A "fruit," botanically speaking, is the seed-bearing STRUCTURE that develops from the maturation of flower. "Nuts" and "drupes" both refer to specific types of "fruit" and differ in terms of their subunits (in this comparison a hard casing vs. fleshy outer layer being the most distinguishing difference). In the case of pecans and almonds, the edible component is actually the seeds (a distinct subunit of the fruit) that are analogous to the pit of a cherry or peach. However, in the case of a cherry or peach, we eat the fleshy layer subunit as opposed to the seed (which would mostly just break our teeth). For acorns, the word "acorn" actually refers to the entire fruiting structure (hard shell casing + interior seed).

    It's even more confusing when you consider that we commonly refer to the entire vegetative structure producing pecans and almonds as "pecan trees" and "almond trees." More accurately, these are "trees that produce a 'drupe' fruit-type bearing the edible seeds referred to as pecans/almonds." By comparison, an "oak tree" is a "tree that produces a 'nut' fruit-type referred to as acorns, which hold oak seeds."

    Not very simple right? Sometimes I find it odd that the language-obsessed crossword community seems rather unappreciative and dismissive of botanical terminology (looking at you, Rex, and your recent diatribes on AXIL and PEDUNCLE).

    michiganman 4:50 PM  

    OK, PIZZAFACE is not nice and that was covered in the cluing. It's in bad taste but not horrible. QAEDA? I don't know. I'm in the midwest and can't know what 9/11 was like for those close to NYC. Murders with a smaller casualty count are committed by gun zealots, religious zealots, and other types of zealots everywhere in the country. Still, nonjudgmentally, I don't understand the backlash against this clue/answer.

    Aketi 4:51 PM  

    Hmm, seeing QAEDA on top of BURIAL MOUND was quite the downer. Of course maybe if QAEDA was under the BURIAL MOUND the “end” of it might actually make sense in a revengeful way.

    I’m with @catie on seeing the theme as cracked NUTs.

    @Two Ponies, since @Greg Charles explained that ALMO NDs and PEC ANs are drupes and not technically NUTs, A CORNS are actually the only NUTs in the puzzle that people actually do eat. Clearly you did not go through the California school system in the late 1960s when we ground acorns with a mortar and pestle during our history lesson on Native Californians. Like cassava you have to leach it to get rid of the toxins before eating it. I’m I’m sure the teachers were too afraid to undertake that step, so we didn’t actually make and eat the A CORN mash that was typically eaten with venison. Grinding A CORNs was requistite along with building a scale model of one of the California Missions. The link below has three A CORN recipes that sound far tastier than putting TARO powder in sweet tea or smoothies.

    @Nancy, I can tolerate KALE better than OKRA.


    Aketi 4:57 PM  

    @Kitshef, thanks for the additional lesson of fruits and NUTs.

    Moly Shu 5:01 PM  

    Does anyone remember Fountains of Golden Fluids? I miss him/her. Oh, and can I get mor (hi @Nancy) @Z and @anon back and forth about court rulings? It’s fascinating.

    Whatsername 5:01 PM  

    I found this very easy and more like a Wednesday. Totally underwhelmed.

    Z 5:04 PM  

    @anon3:12 - I did look and couldn’t find any mention of a more recent ruling on the CBA case than the 2014 preliminary injunction. The Reaching Souls case is a very similar case to the CBA case. These are all fairly well discussed cases, so I don’t know why this more recent ruling isn’t popping up on searches. Also, I must confess I assumed all the anonymous postings were the same person. If you click the button next to Name/URL you can give yourself a nom de blog eliminating that sort of confusion. I don’t disagree with you that the constitution is intended to limit the government. My initial point two days ago is specifically one of the ways it protects us is that it prevents the establishment of a theocracy. I’m not sure how what I wrote got switched around. More importantly to me is this is a lot of electrons being needlessly wasted on a comment section devoted to today’s crossword. It was somewhat relevant two days ago because of a clue, but has no relevance to today’s puzzle. I’m pretty sure I heard a few thousand eyes roll the minute they saw I was responding to you.
    I agree with your take on today’s puzzle.

    Z 5:15 PM  

    @MolyShu - You’re welcome. Next up my full disquisition on the impact of botanical nomenclature misuse on the 2nd amendment.

    Way over my limit (unless some mod does deletes the whole discussion) so done for the day.

    BocaBoy 5:18 PM  

    The puzzle also appeared correctly to subscribers of the NYT on-line if you solved the puzzle with their app.

    For me, this was close to my best time. I got most of the clues Rex missed (pizzaface) and only slipped at LaPlace.

    Anonymous 5:30 PM  

    @several commenters re: QAEDA clue, the way I read the clue is that the second half of the full name (the _end_of_) Al Qaeda is...Qaeda. Some of the comments seem to know that the "al" is merely the definite article "the", which makes the clue style a little less satisfying than if it were, say, "The end of Myrtle?" clue for "Beach."

    Moly Shu 5:41 PM  

    @Z, I apologize, I misspoke. What I actually want is mor (hi again @Nancy) @anon4:41 discussion of nuts and drupes and trees and whatever else I’m not understanding. Way mor fascinating.
    At least I figured out why a tilde is a DELTA.

    Anonymous 5:47 PM  

    Anon 5:30 - although I didn’t take offense personally, I think the objection to the clue for QAEDA was its very clever- or cutesy-ness. Some I’m sure would argue the answer hits too close to home for inclusion. Unlike such faraway horrors invoked by the common crossword entries IDI and MAO.

    Joe Dipinto 5:53 PM  

    I was passively disliking this dull puzzle until I got to the SEXPOT/PIZZA FACE crossing, at which point my passive dislike changed to active, full-bore hatred. Master Steinberg, you are an a-hole.

    Ben 6:00 PM  

    Right?? It's like clueing PHIL as "Phillip McGraw, a.k.a Dr. ___"

    Joe Dipinto 6:06 PM  

    And so is your co-constructor apparently.

    Amelia 6:10 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Matthew G. 6:14 PM  

    I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad themes.

    Wait -- the theme, in a nutshell, is "in a nutshell." I think it works just fine.

    But it's kind of pathetic (and not at all the fault of the constructors) that NYT can't get non-standard clues to reproduce properly. I had no clue what was going on with DELTA (I got the tilde).

    Two Ponies 6:34 PM  

    @ aketi 4:51, The only acorn eating that I had a vague recollection of had something to do with the flavor of pork from pigs that ate acorns.

    Kimberly 6:50 PM  

    @ben silver

    The word “craft” has more than one meaning. Craft doesn’t just mean “to make or fashion,” it’s also another (fairly common) word for a boat. Surely you’ve come across it before and may have just blanked on it today.

    Puzzled Peter 6:57 PM  

    Interesting conversation.
    I had a moment that probably nobody else would've:
    For "Dash letters", I, being a ham radio operator, and particularly a Morse Code fanatic, immediately put T M and O, those being the letters in said Morse Code that are made entirely of dashes:
    T has one, M has two, and O has three.
    Tata, all, or as we say in Morse: 73.

    Banana Diaquiri 7:40 PM  

    acorns have been used, in the West, as a last-resort flour: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flour#Gluten-free_flours

    Joe Dipinto 8:25 PM  

    @Anon 5:47 -- I agree: it's primarily the cheerful "Ha-ha-ha, see what we did there?" aspect of the clue that makes the answer's inclusion so obnoxious. Will Shortz needs to start hanging around with adults again (if he ever did to begin with).

    Fountains of Golden Fluids 8:32 PM  

    Does anyone remember Moly Shu?

    Harryp 8:58 PM  

    @Two Ponies 6:34pm, In my home state of Hawaii, the pigs on the Big Island of Hawaii are known for eating Macadamia nuts, and have a better taste, according to my brother and others that live there. Wish I could have tried those puaa.

    Ben 9:35 PM  

    @Kimberly haha yes I promptly inserted my foot into my mouth when @James Masonry pointed it out above -- guess I was just feeling a little ornery because my coffee hadn't quite kicked in yet!

    Anonymous 11:40 PM  

    Fitting to have La Place, so regularly evoked by atheists, in the puzzle on the opening day of baseball. Even a cursory glance at the scores (Yankees, Cubs win; Cardinals lose) provides clear evidence for the non-existence of God.

    Anon. i.e. Poggius

    Abby B. 12:00 AM  

    Out of curiousity, is PIZZAFACE really all that awful and disgusting when it’s clued as being pejorative? In the grand scheme of things, at least in my experience, the term pizza face is on the level of brace-face or four-eyes. Nice? No - Anything even rated PG-13? Also no.

    Joe Dipinto 2:52 AM  

    @Abby B. -- I think it's ironic that both of today's constructors have, on X-Word Info, made a point of hyping their connection to a puzzle pack whose profits go to LGBTQ charities (so very noble of them), while having included a specific childish hurtful insult related to someone's appearance in their puzzle, on the basis of it being "fun fill". LGBTQ persons get acne too. These two constructors are idiots. And Will Shortz is to blame for kowtowing to them.

    Anonymous 8:49 PM  

    I lost all interest at Pizza Face. That's just mean spirited and hurtful. As an acne-prone teenager who was called pizza face often, this was a gut punch.

    Do these people have no sensitivity? For shame.

    Burma Shave 9:31 AM  


    DOSHOTS ONDEMAND with a SEXPOT or two,
    LOTSA BARFIGHTs and PERIL and FEAR will ensue –
    that’s HOW ONE’S evening may end, TONAMEAFEW.


    spacecraft 10:24 AM  

    Ah, the Age of Taking Offense. It's a crossword puzzle, folks, not a manifesto. Grow a hard shell; then you'll be a NUT like me. Think of it as a "light" deli offering--or, uh, LEANCORNEDBEEF?? Yeah, Chuck, and I'll have a pound of jumbo shrimp with that. Must be military intelligence.

    I intuit, or SEE, the gimmick with lifeexPECtANcy right off, upon checking the center and seeing buriALMOuND. Though...traditional? well, sure, in some traditions--just not the current western culture we're living in. The word doesn't exactly belong in this clue.

    There's some techy stuff here which made it a little harder in "spots," also my ignorance of Andre Young's alter ego. And why? Andre Young is a nice name. You discard that in favor of...Dr. DRE?? I guess I just don't understand. Does he actually hold a doctorate??

    Anyway, I welcome 42-down TERI Hatcher back to the DOD winner's circle. Any time. Par.

    rondo 10:24 AM  

    LOTSA angst in the commentariat over PIZZAFACE and some with SEXPOT. Not a BIT here. In-the-language, oft-used, oft-heard; perhaps not URBANE, but legit, perhaps more than QAEDA without Al. Nice to see he CZ CZAR rather than the TS type.

    LEANCORNEDBEEF has green paint all over it; straight from WoF category Food & Drink.

    ADA is for more than bldg.s. Ever notice those curb ramps (with truncated domes)at street corners? ADA for both vision-impaired using canes and for wheelchairs or step-climbing difficulties. Same with the cross slope of sidewalks – more than 2% cross slope is difficult for those in wheelchairs – I’ve tried it. More than 5% grade on a ramp to a doorway for more than 50 feet is dang near impossible unless ONE’S got Popeye forearms. LOTSA stuff about ADA you probably didn’t think about.

    Of course, TERI Hatcher. Yeah baby.

    This puz was NUTs.

    thefogman 11:52 AM  

    Since there was more than one, NUTS would be better than NUT as the reveal.
    For that, we need a nut word within a phrase with an S jammed in it.
    How about: Helps muppet pull off a heist? ABETS ELMO ?

    Diana,LIW 2:42 PM  

    Yeah - NUTSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Hey Foggy, welcome back!!

    gotta run - more later

    Lady Di

    leftcoastTAM 3:34 PM  

    Agree with Rex on this one, except for the crankiness, starting with the very thin theme. (Would have expected something more substantial from D.S. and C.M.)

    LAPLACE was vaguely familiar and inferable.
    TONAMEAFEW required some parsing.
    MOWS and WICCAN are cleverly clued.

    And, like Rex, found PIZZAFACE kind of mean, a smart-ass epithet.

    Last entries in were QAEDA and its crosses, ART and ADA. For a while, wanted a U to go with the Q.

    Liked the puzzle, regardless of the theme.

    rainforest 6:03 PM  

    All those who do not refer to ACORNs, ALMO NDs, and PEC ANs as "nuts", put up your hand.
    Fruit, nut, bleah. I like 'em.

    All those who got their shirt in a knot over PIZZA FACE, raise your hand.

    All those whose breakfast was spoiled by QAEDA, stand up.

    Now, if you are in the above: get over it or you will decrease your LIFE EXPECTANCY.

    Other than that, there was a puzzle today, and I liked it even though I had a blank as the clue for 48D in my paper. Had to be DELTA according to the crosses, though.

    leftcoastTAM 12:30 AM  

    @rainy--No, didn't get my shirt in a knot over PIZZAFACE, just thought it was dumb and a smart-ass thing to call anyone.

    wcutler 2:35 AM  

    Suzie Q 10:17 AM The "eyes" in bubble tea are not taro - they are made from tapioca. Taro is a flavor option for bubble tea, but that's just one particular flavor.

    My puzzle had a fifth description for 48 down:
    [just a blank space]
    I didn't find that clue much harder than most of the others!

    The only one I got wrong in the end was 24A, where I put in MPg (I'm a little obsessed with the price of gas in Vancouver, BC, where it's around $1.60/liter, which comes to over $6/gallon). My car does show me my gas usage (as liters per 100km - I imagine on US cars it must show MPG). I just could not understand gOW for modus operandi.

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