Garden pest / WED 7-25-18 / Letter before Omega / Vietnamese festival / Triple Crown of Surfing / Ancient Anatolian region / Disney villain Jeremy Irons

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Constructor: Emily Carroll

Relative difficulty: 6:28 (Wednesday average: 7:59; Wednesday best: 2:17)

THEME: Flipped the Bird — The names of three species of birds are "flipped" and embedded in three long theme entries.

Word of the Day: ICE-T (57D: One of the first musicians to have an "explicit content" sticker on an album) —
Tracy Lauren Marrow (born February 16, 1958), better known by his stage name Ice-T, is an American musician, rapper, songwriter, actor, record executive, record producer, and author. He began his career as an underground rapper in the 1980s and was signed to Sire Records in 1987, when he released his debut album Rhyme Pays; the second hip-hop album to carry an explicit content sticker after Slick Rick’s La Di Da Di. The following year, he founded the record label Rhyme $yndicate Records (named after his collective of fellow hip-hop artists called the "Rhyme $yndicate") and released another album, Power.
     He co-founded the heavy metal band Body Count, which he introduced on his 1991 rap album O.G.: Original Gangster, on the track titled "Body Count." The band released their self-titled debut album in 1992. Ice-T encountered controversy over his track "Cop Killer," which glamorized killing police officers. Ice-T asked to be released from his contract with Warner Bros. Records, and his next solo album, Home Invasion, was released later in February 1993 through Priority Records. Body Count's next album was released in 1994, and Ice-T released two more albums in the late-1990s. Since 2000, he has portrayed NYPD Detective/Sergeant Odafin Tutuola on the NBC police drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. (Wikipedia)
• • •

There was a comment earlier this week that just giving my time doesn't provide readers with enough information regarding how difficult the puzzle was, so above I've also given my average and best times, as recorded on the iPad app (after solving a total of 1,444 puzzles in this iteration of the app). I hope that gives a little more context. Note, however, that my Wednesday best was for solving my own puzzle, so take that as you may. Looking back over the week so far, this Sunday was 16:19 (Sunday average: 23:02; Sunday best 6:47 [again, best time was for my own puzzle!]), Monday was 4:03 (Monday average: 4:59; Monday best: 3:16), and Tuesday was 6:12 (Tuesday average: 6:29; Tuesday best 3:50). This week, so far, is running just under average difficulty -- for me. I'm required by the Crossword Blogger's Code of Ethics to state that your mileage may vary.

Theme answers:
  • [20A: Grand preparations?]: PIANO REHEARSAL (HERON)
  • [27A: Things that go bump in the night]: POLTERGEISTS (EGRET)
  • [47A: Iconic logo since 1962]: GOLDEN ARCHES (CRANE)
  • [56A: Gestured rudely ... or what this puzzle's circles have done?]: FLIPPED THE BIRD
We've got a solid Wednesday, which in my playbook is kinda like a Monday, but a little tougher and/or more off-beat themewise. (If you gotta have a gimmick, save it for Tuesday, Thursday, or Sunday.) I generally like themes that take a common idiom (i.e. flipped the bird) and interpret it literally as the basis of wordplay. In a puzzle venue that allows for titles (Wall Street Journal, Chronicle of Higher Ed, Puzzle Society, etc), a puzzle like this might have additional entries and a title -- say "Flipping the Bird" -- instead of a revealer entry. (Having both a title and revealer is kinda like wearing both a belt and suspenders; overkill in most situations but occasionally appropriate.) Flipping the bird, as a hand gesture, has both its own Wikipedia entry -- The Finger -- and its own emoji, which Emojipedia glosses as "reversed hand with middle finger extended."

The fill in the NE corner was last to fall in this grid; somehow I couldn't see COCKY (had BOSSY) over APHID, though my raised bed garden is crawling with the buggers. Interestingly not too many proper names today (other than Word of the Day ICE-T and [54D: TV host Van Susteren]: GRETA); those are usually where I can get a decent foothold; nor did the fill-in-the-blanks help me get much speed. I didn't find the longer down entries to be too exciting, but overall the experience was [33D: Scoring 100]: ERROR FREE.

  • [30D: "Oklahoma!" aunt]: ELLER — Unusual to get this character from Oklahoma Exclamation Point! (note: not an error; this is how I say the title of all musicals that have an Exclamation Point!) in a grid; far more common is ADO Annie, who cain't say no.
  • [5D: Disney villain voiced by Jeremy Irons]: SCAR — In The Lion King, Scar/Claudius [spoiler alert] murders his brother Mufasa/Hamlet Sr. (James Earl Jones). His nephew Simba/Hamlet (Matthew Broderick) dallies a bit with his pals Rosencrantz/Timon (Nathan Lane) and Guildenstern/Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella), before driving his girlfriend Nala/Ophelia (Moira Kelly) to suicide, avenging his father's death, and dying in a duel. At least that's how I remember it.
  • [58D: Rosencrantz or Guildenstern]: DANE — Or meerkat/warthog, what have you.
Signed, Laura, Sorceress of CrossWorld

[Follow Laura on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


CDilly52 12:08 AM  

I rarely say this but I flew through this so quickly I didn’t even notice the circles! Nor did I really hit any snags, or find anything either very entertaining or horribly objectionable. Quick and not very interesting, but as our Sorceress remarked ERROR FREE.

Harryp 12:10 AM  

Finished the puzzle but did not look for the Theme, which is a DNF per se.

Melrose 1:01 AM  

Very clever, great fun. Perfect difficulty for Wednesday. Thanks, Emily!

Cliff Robinson 1:24 AM  

Thank you for including your solving times — that’s very helpful! Although I think your own puzzles shouldn’t be eligible for best times.
Seems like it’s analogous to acing a test you wrote yourself.

jae 1:26 AM  

Medium. Kept trying to make WIgs work 1a. Also ANGUISH and SALUD did not come quickly. Bottom half was easier than the top. Delightful, gave me a chuckle, liked it a bunch!

Larry Gilstrap 2:46 AM  

Another marsh bird? The puzzle is getting all Audubon on us. And, these guys are fairly common around the NYT pond. I kept looking for some sort of progression, like size, or color, or letters in their name. Help here? It is only Wednesday.

My family got dinner on a Friday night at the McDonald's in Azusa and it featured Golden Arches. I would have sworn it was prior to 1962, but that probably is about right. We, like everybody else, ate in the car.

I might have switched the answers for 1A and 1D had one not been plural.

We knew and loved Leonard Cohen's first few albums, but I first began to love his anthem "Hallelujah" from Jeff Buckley's 1994 album "Grace." I nearly wore out that CD and could drop everything and listen to it again right now. Horrible death and horrible loss of a great musical talent. Had he only had the years to fulfill his promise that Cohen did.

My first years of teaching forced me to draw some weird duty. I was to monitor the back rack after school and control the chaos that began the instant the bell rang. My job: "Walk your Bike!" Even the nice kids rode off and FLIPPED THE BIRD. I couldn't blame them. Impossible!

chefwen 3:17 AM  

Filled in the bottom half quickly. 56A was one of my first fills with no letters in place, I’m ashamed to say. Then I just went searching for my little birdies. Fell apart a little on top but was able to pull it off with a little help from puzz partner who took over as I was preoccupied in the kitchen.

Flipping the birds actually helped me with the solve. Fun puzzle.

'merican in Riyadh 3:30 AM  

My puzzle today also was ERROR-FREE, though I did have several write-overs. The NE was the last to fall, in part because I don't know how to spell. Had PIANO REGErsals, erased the end of that and entered bIdeS TIME, but finally got it once I sussed COCKY. All in all took me 9.5 minutes less than an HOUR.

I wasn't super excited by the theme, but the fact that all three BIRDs are long-necked wading ones definitely earns my respect.

I had a high school friend, Chuck, who was arrested back in 1973 for FLIPPING THE BIRD at a police sergeant driving an unmarked police car. He didn't know it was a policeman at the TIME (it was actually a friendly gesture aimed at a friend, whose car fell behind the policeman's). The police sergeant followed Chuck to a fast-food venue with GOLDEN ARCHES, pulled up next to him, and arrested him for "Making an obscene gesture at an officer of the law."

I attended his trial, which was a riot! After reading out the charge, Chuck's lawyer (think "My Cousin Vinny"), took the STAGE and read out what the law defined as constituting "obscene". "Under Florida Statute bladdy, bladdy, blah" (I forget the actual chapter and paragraph), he began, "an obscene gesture must sexually stimulate the offended person." The lawyer then WHIPped around and addressed the police sergeant directly. "Sargent S., when the defendant, Mr. Charles [name withheld] FLIPPED THE BIRD at you on the evening of 19 June 1973, ... were you sexually stimulated?!" The sergeant sat back, stunned, stuttered, and tried to compose an answer. "WELL I ... uh, um ... n-n-n no." Meanwhile, the court stenographers unsuccessfully tried to suppress their giggles, and the judge turned red. "OK, case dismissed!", he blurted, but without resisting scolding my friend and giving him a stern warning to henceforth keep his finger to himself.

CIAO, for now.

Unknown 4:24 AM  

This week is skewing difficult for me for some reason. But I've liked all the puzzles this week. So I guess there's no correlation between difficulty level and enjoyment....or maybe there's negative correlation....

Lewis 6:09 AM  

Very nicely clued with the handful of vague clues nicely balanced by the scattering of gimmees, and I like that all the birds are five-letters long. Nice crosses of GOLDEN ARCHES / ATE OUT and FLIPPED THE BIRD / CHEAP SHOT. There's a little wedding theme of RITE, PRENUP, and OATH, with the postscript EXES. And I saw that flipped BAT in TABLE LAMP trying to pretend it was a bird. The backward bird theme made me wonder if any bird can fly backward, and a bit of research revealed that the hummingbird indeed can.

Engaging enjoyable solve that will get no single digit from me -- high five!

Anonymous 6:11 AM  

I miss Rex - there was some lousy fill in this one! INRE YDS OPES ICH ISNOT HOMO (!?) ELLER LAC TELE BYS UNI WELLI SEPTS - blech.

The Bard 6:22 AM  

Hamlet, Act V, scene II

HORATIO: So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to't.

HAMLET: Why, man, they did make love to this employment;
They are not near my conscience; their defeat
Does by their own insinuation grow:
'Tis dangerous when the baser nature comes
Between the pass and fell incensed points
Of mighty opposites.

Don From Accounting 6:30 AM  

This was a pretty good Wednesday puzzle. I thought so anyway.

It sure had a lot of interesting words, and a lot of foreign words did you notice that? CIAO and UNI and PSI and SALUD . . . have you ever heard anyone say "salud" after a sneeze? I haven't. It sounds like congratulating someone for sneezing, which is sort of silly. My understanding is that you bless someone after a sneeze because in the olden days people would sneeze and die instantly.

TET is another foreign word we see here. Hey remember that Tet Offensive thing a while back? Boy things didn't go too well for that one guy. I heard the other guy opened a pizza parlor in Virginia. HOMO is Latin I think, and that could've been clued in a lot of different and funny ways. Both these words were up in the NE corner, which was full of ANGUISH and CHEAPSHOTS and URCHINS and other depressing things. I think a kid has to be sold to qualify as an URCHIN I'm not sure.

My favorite by far was WELLI. Remember on Sanford and Son when Fred and Grady and sometimes Bubba would go down to the TV studio to win some money on a game show, and they'd be out in the real audience for the show? There was always an indignant lady with a hat who would get tired of their antics:

INDIGNANT LADY: "Will you please!"
FRED G SANFORD: "Not for all the money in the world!"

And then the hat lady would get extra offended:

INDIGNANT LADY: "Well I never!"
FRED G SANFORD: "And you probably never will!"

Did you know that Redd Foxx wasn't his real name? His real name was John Sanford, and his brother's name was Fred Sanford, and he would have NBC hire all his old pals from his stand up days, like Grady and Bubba and Aunt Esther, who was played by LaWanda Page who put out some notoriously dirty and raunchy and funny albums in the '60s. You should rent the movie Friday just for the scene where LaWanda Page plays a church lady who comes to the stoners' door asking for donations. That movie has Ice Cube in it not ICET, and I'll bet they're both sick and tired of people getting them mixed up.

I don't want to sound COCKY but I bought an eight foot tall bookshelf today and I want to go put more stuff on it.


MrCheapShot 6:55 AM  

Yes, fun and enjoyable but why have the theme at all? It is pointless and adds nothing to the solve. These type of "clever" themes only serve the constructor's ego. Honestly, who cares that the birds here are flipped? For a moment I thought the theme might be about different ways of flipping birds (Golden Arches, kind of...) but just reversing three different wading bird types is pretty silly. Having BRACE in the grid underscores the absurdity.

Quibbles: a REHEARSAL is PREPARATIONS? TABLE LAMP is worth putting in? WELL I is rather desperate.

Aketi 6:57 AM  

@‘merican in Riyadh, good one.
I got FLIPPED THE BIRD before the FLIPPED BIRDs. So they all went in backwards.
Ironic that they show up today after I found @Nancy in Central Park yesterday and confessed to her that I used that gesture at the tour buses that park in the bike lanes on Central Park West. I also had to tell her about the missed photo op. Just recently I encountered a tour bus blocking the bike lane with a Fed Ex truck parked in the traffic lane next to it with no passageway in between. Rather than risk getting squished by yet another tour bus or truck in the remaining lane I got off the bike and walked It on the sidewalk past the tour bus only to find a woman with a walker in the bike lane engaged in a stare down with the bus. She squarely faced the bus gripping her walker glaring at the bus driver. She refused to budge and the tour bus driver did not have enough room to pull out around her with the Fed Ex truck blocking the side of the bus.

Dave 7:00 AM  

Laura, thanks for explaining the Lion King!

Who's Polonius?

kitshef 7:24 AM  

A puzzle I won’t remember for long. Now, if you could have worked in NIKPMIL or LLIBNOOPS or ANACAJ, that would be impressive.

I wonder how Laura pronounces P!nk.

Mohair Sam 7:38 AM  

Played tough here because Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are DEAD, ask Tom Stoppard. I guess they're DANEs too.

@Aketi (6:57) - I love the old lady in the walker. Did she win or get flattened?

I'm with Don from accounting - Who toasts a sneeze? Next time my wife sneezes I'll say "Here's to ya!". According to Mel Brooks' 2000 year old man sneezing is the secret to a long life - you store up all those Bless You's. Where you going with "Health"?

This sushi hater took years to learn ahi and eel, now we got UNI? So I looked it up and UNI is sea urchin - how do you people eat this stuff raw?

In spite of my grumbles the puzz was just right for a Wednesday, and clean. SALUD Emily Carroll.

Hungry Mother 7:57 AM  

This reminded me of the good old days when it was a coin toss whether I could finish a Wednesday puzzle. A long slog. Never needed to flip the bird, but felt like it mid-solve. I guess it’s an appropriate mid-week offering, challenging for back of the packers. No complaints.

FLAC 7:57 AM  

I found the puzzle ok but a bit forced. OTOH, the review and the comments today are wonderful.

Aketi 8:00 AM  

@Mohair Sam, since I didn’t hear anything in the news about a woman getting flattened by a bus, I’m pretty sure she won. Eventually the FedEx truck had to move and the tour bus had enough room to back up a little bit and get out of the bike lane and into the traffic lane.

If you have a father that trains you into consuming raw oysters at any early age you don’t know any better and you have siblings that dare you to eat weird things you end up trying most anything. Well, except raw palm grubs. I drew the line there.

mathgent 8:01 AM  

Very lively, especially for a Wednesday. Enjoyed it.

When I mentioned on Monday that my age was a number with exactly twelve divisors, some of you worked out the number of divisors of some likely numbers. You may not know the neat way to do that.

Write the number as a product of primes. For example, 84 is 2^2 x 3 x 7.

Then write the number of times each of the primes appear. 2, 1, 1.

Then add one to each of the occurrences. 3, 2, 2.

Then multiply these numbers together. 12.

12 is the number of divisors of 84.

Harryp 8:10 AM  

@Mohair Sam, I can assure you that Japanese do not eat raw eel.

SJ Austin 8:15 AM  

very nice write-up, thanks. Now I need to go revisit Hamlet and The Lion King, because I left both behind in the '90s when I graduated from high school.

Mohair Sam 8:28 AM  

@Harryp (8:10) - What do I know from sushi? I bet raw eel sounds terrible to you - that's how I feel about all raw fish. I was born and raised walking distance from the Great South Bay and can't understand how people eat fishies raw. If it comes in a shell you can have a ball (clams, oysters - hi @Aketi) (cockles, mussels - hi Molly Malone), but if it swims it needs to be cooked.

kitshef 8:33 AM  

Sad that Seinfeld's "you are so good looking" never caught on as a response to a sneeze. But I will say in our area (west of DC), you hear SALUD a lot more often than, say, gesundheit.

tb 8:34 AM  

As a former professional classical musician I just want to say that PIANO REHEARSAL is not an expression. Pianists practice by themselves. If they are rehearsing for a performance with other people, either chamber musicians or an orchestra, it is simply called a rehearsal, or a dress rehearsal if that is the case. It is never a PIANO REHEARSAL.

Abe 8:42 AM  

Be honest now. What was your first thought when you saw that FLIPPING THE BIRD was filled by “__________ yourself!” .

Harryp 8:43 AM  

@Mohair Sam 8:28. It isn't the taste, eel blood is poisonous enough to kill a person.

Gulliver Foyle 8:54 AM  

Enjoyed the comments more than the puzzle, though I got through it without a hitch. Salud!

Suzie Q 9:01 AM  

I liked this a lot. Thanks Emily.
"Well I never" crossing Aunt Eller seemed right since it sounds like something she would say.
I also liked that all of the theme birds were water birds.
Anguish and poltergeists made for some great vocabulary.

For puzzles in general and not just this one:
When was the last time, if ever, that you saw a seal at a circus?
Even if you did it probably was a sea lion.
You'd think that Tet was the only thing they celebrate in Asia.

RooMonster 9:21 AM  

Hey All !
UNI. Hmm. Another three letter Sushi item. Haven't heard of that one. EEL, AHI. Had POSEas forever because of ahI making my EGRET unseeable. HUMPH.

But, still enjoyed the puz. Actually LOL'd when I got the revealer. "WELL, I never!..." :-) Fill was good. Lots of U's, but only one F! That should get a BIRD FLIP!

Liked the double 9's Downs in NE and SW. Not much else to say. OK, BYS.


John James A 9:25 AM  

This puzzle would have been ever so much better had the author or any one of the editors known that EGRETs are a sub-classification of HERONs and perhaps eliminated that (virtual) redundancy.

Ethan Taliesin 9:38 AM  

I thought the theme was thin--or at least needed more birds, but I really enjoyed this puzzle. Slightly above average time for me.

Nancy 9:47 AM  

I was going to mention the fact that when @Aketi stumbled across me in the park yesterday, and we hung out for a while, she mentioned how she often FLIPPED THE BIRD when the bike lane was blocked by tour buses. Though I believe the expression she used was "So then I flipped him off." Anyway, @Aketi just beat me to telling you about it. It does indeed feel like a coincidence.

If this were a gesture I tended to use (I don't), I'd probably refer to it as "I gave him the finger." My way of dealing with people -- mostly bikers, sorry, @Aketi --who put me in peril on streets and sidewalks is entirely verbal. After inadvertently shouting out the S-word as the bike misses me by maybe a quarter-inch, I then scream out at the retreating biker: "JAIL'S TOO GOOD FOR YOU!!!" I'd prefer to shout "POLICE!!!!!!!", but there's never a cop around. Absolutely never. So it would be a complete waste of breath.

Oh, yes, the puzzle. The play on words made this a very cute theme. Unfortunately the very cute theme had nothing whatever to do with my solve. I didn't notice the HERON, EGRET and CRANE till after I'd finished. But the fill was pretty good for a Wednesday and I enjoyed it.

Kendall 10:00 AM  

I’ve been to 45 out of 50 states. I don’t definitively know that I’ve heard someone sneeze in all of them, but probably many of them. I’ve never heard a single person say SALUD after sneezing. That answer alone almost prevented me from finishing this. SALUD is a completely reasonable answer in a grid but that clue is awful. At least give me a hint here it’s not English, or clue it as a form of congratulations or something.

Masked and Anonymous 10:34 AM  

SALUD for a sneeze? Learned me somethin new there. M&A always said "SALUD" only when raisin his beer glass to toast any salad bar that included mixed nuts. SALUD would also go well with a bird flip, come to mention it, tho. Speakin of which ...

Cute puz theme. Analyzed the first set of filled-in circles carefully, until I spotted the hid-in bird. Lost valuable nanoseconds, but it turned out bein more of an investment like, because EGRET & CRANE went in mighty early on, ahead of solvin their hider phrases.

Imagine M&A's relief, that there weren't no cross-worthy phrases available for hidin TIWEP.

Primo longballs goin Down, in the NE & SW. fave set: CHEAPSHOT & KILLSTIME.
staff weeject pick: UNI. Cool clue, what with URCHIN lurkin not far away. UNI is Sushi-ese for sea URCHIN, evidently.

Surely there was a spare accidental NRE lurkin somewheres in the nonthemer fillins …

Thanx for the fun, Emily Carroll darlin.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

goin on vacation bigger than snot puppy:

Joseph Michael 10:39 AM  

The revealer seems a little salacious for The Gray Lady so it was both surprising and fun to discover it. Also liked the choice of birds. Not just some ordinary old sparrow or robin getting flipped.

For office decor, I was looking for something more exciting than a TABLE LAMP. And I’ve heard people say “Oh, snap!” but not LOW SNAP. Wanted the word to accompany an air kiss to be MWAH. Biggest stretch in the grid was BYS as a completion for Fly. But I did really like the clue for Rosencrantz or Guildenstern.

Add me to the list of those who have never heard someone say SALUD after a sneeze. Unless the sneezer was about to down a shot of vodka.

Nice puzzle overall. Thanks, Emily.


Teddi and Teddy 10:41 AM  

We rEGRET that Rex isn't here to comment but enjoy Laura's comments. At the beach cottage where the HERONs and such are plentiful. No CRANEs though.
Two baby osprey who spread their wings and hop up and down on the edge of the nest, they may FLIP out into the void soon. SALUD to them, hope their first flight is

pabloinnh 11:05 AM  

"Salud" in Spanish simply means "health" and is used as a toast and a sneeze blessing also. If you're in Spain and you sneeze, please do it as "achis" (ah-chees) and not "ahchoo", which I always found interesting but my students, sadly, did not. Another common sneeze blessing is "Jesus", (hay-soos) which used to be Jesus, Jose, y Maria, but was shortened, probably for time-saving reasons. I found it fun that saying "Jesus" after a sneeze sounded quite a lot like another sneeze.

Got the puzzle idea when a filled in set of circles spelled a backwards bird, and hey presto, easy from there. Just about right for a Wednesday.

tb 11:07 AM  

Heard SALUD all the time in North New Jersey.

Jim Lemire 11:29 AM  

I liked UNI (sea urchin roe, kind of) Near URCHIN. My undergraduate thesis involved sea urchin physiology and I harvested more UNI than I care to remember. Can’t bring myself to order it off the sushi menu now.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a clever play that essentially follows the offstage actions of the two DANES in Hamlet. It was made into a movie starring Gary Oldman and Tim Roth. Worth checking out.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Is UNI and sea URCHIN considered a duplicate? (I can never remember the "rules" for multiple languages) If so, could have clued for other URCHIN definition

Masked and Anonymous 11:42 AM  

yep: INRE flips us a bird. Sweet.


GILL I. 11:42 AM  

Well SALUD does mean Bless You, so why not. You have to bless someone because you hope he isn't carrying around the plague. Is there someone here who is an expert on sneezing? I never do one or two....It's always 13.
I thought this was a great Wednesday puzzle. I didn't wiz through it like some of you did. I had to pause at most every entry.
I got the FLIPPED THE BIRD before knowing what I was dealing with here. I love that answer. I don't dare do it anymore because Californians are angry all the time. If you're in your car and do it, you might end up being hamburger meat.
Saw what was going on, smiled and went about my merry way to fill in the backward birds.
15A sadly enough took me forever. CIAO. I couldn't get BY dahling out of my head. I was flipping through Hulu the other day and saw all of the Real Housewives series and thought "why not?" I'll just take a little peek. I'm on the Beverly Hills one. I've never ever seen, met, touched anyone in my life as empty as these women and some of their husbands. I cannot get enough of that TV program. I think I'll count the air kisses; there are millions of them. I don't think they say CIAO, though....more like "I love your shoes, how much did they cost?"
@Mohar...You're a WIMP. If you like raw oysters (I love them) then you will like fresh AHI (raw).... You can safely eat deep sea fish. I WOULD NEVER eat a lake fish raw because you'd get parasites. But you already know that, right?
HOMO means "one and the same" according to my dictionary. I'm not sure about the "genus that included geniuses" clue. I guess if you've gotta use HOMO and not denigrate the gay community like the Vice Mayor of Dixon does by saying (in print) that gays are fairies, then I suppose the clue works. He's not going to be around much longer.
Anyway...Emily Carroll...I enjoyed your Wed. puzzle. Made me think and that's always a good thing.

jberg 11:57 AM  

I liked the theme -- saw it after HERON and EGRET, but that still didn't help me get GOLDEN ARCHES. But I don't consider the job of the theme to be to help me with the solve -- rather, it's another extra little challenge. If you fill in the grid without noticing it, you're supposed to stop to figure out what it is before putting down the paper, or you ipad, or whatever you use to solve.

I wouldn't call it a fault, but I would have liked it better if the flipped birds were actually more different. Not saying I can think of any, though. Or if the revealer were more specific, but this one was so good.

Random points:

SALUD is just Spanish for gesundheit, which was what my family said after a sneeze. I thought 'Jesuf, Maria, y Josef' was something you were supposed to try to say WITH the sneeze. A guy I knew in college could say 'Modern Laundry and Drycleaning' with a belch. He had a more impressive one, but it's too obscene to repeat here.

@Mohair, you don't eat an actual raw sea urchin, you just eat the eggs.

The reason constructors sometimes solve their own puzzles is that they are using an app that keeps track of strings -- successive days when they solved correctly-- and they don't want to break theirs.

Banana Diaquiri 12:02 PM  

I don't get the R&G clue, in that it is The Danish Play after all, (nearly?) everybody is, so there's nothing distinguishing R&G being Danish. is there? how about something that makes them unique *within* Hamlet?

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Mohair Sam and Don from accounting...a little America-centric there. Why do we say "bless you" after a sneeze? Why does a sneezer need to be "blessed"? (and I know the origins, not letters, please.)

Who says Salud? All of Mexico. (and maybe other Spanish speaking countries; pardon my lack of knowledge on that) But I have a sneaking suspicion that you guys are for that wall that will keep you from EVER hearing that extremely common phrase...because it's just not in YOUR language (the correct language)doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

JC66 12:21 PM  


HOMO (Genus that includes geniuses) may be a play on the word HOMOGENEOUS .

Bax'N'Nex 12:23 PM  

I found this WAY out of my wheelhouse. Seemed like a Thursday. Sometimes I'll do a Saturday and it seems like the constructor was making this just for me and then, like today, nothing clicked.

Pretty "crunchy" for me. (copyright-Nancy, all rights reserved)

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Why does the answer have to be something unique? and what does that even mean anyway. Verizon and AT&T, for example, aren't uniquely carriers; they're also rivals.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

I had ahI for UNI, Wuss for WIMP and Dead for DANE... took me longer than usual to finish. I was really sorry to see Dead go away.

Chip Hilton 1:06 PM  

I’m guessing Maleska would have FLIPPEDTHE BIRD at the thought of such a phrase in the NYT crossword.

Teedmn 1:15 PM  

I tried "telecom" before CARRIER, pretty much my only write-over. This doesn't mean I found the puzzle easy. It took a couple of minutes over my usual Wednesday due to the vagueness of many clues.

I liked the combination of UNI and sea URCHIN. TENT and SEAL, not so much since I've never seen a SEAL at a circus (though perhaps the circuses that rolled through my small town didn't have acts common to the bigger circuses.)

@Aketi, I have a co-worker who bicycle-commutes to work (as do I) and he has come across taxis and other vehicles parked in the bike lane (no designated bike lanes up in my suburb.) He stands behind the vehicle and exhorts them to "move!" If they ignore him, he starts banging on the trunk of the car. I think he should team up with your lady with the walker and become the scourge of bike lane scofflaws.

Nice theme and execution on this puzzle, thanks Emily Carroll.

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

@Anonymous 12:19 PM

Your entire post is stupid. Please don't drink this early in the morning.

Stephen 1:24 PM  

In computer science, ! is not pronounced "exclamation point" but "bang"

For example, in the UNIX command line interface, the short cut for executing the previous command is !!, pronounced "bang bang"


Also, see


Mohair Sam 1:27 PM  

@Anon (12:19) - At long last sir, have you no sense of humor?

I'm done posting here - creeps like you take all the fun out of it. Anyhow, this takes time away from my "Make America Great Again" cap knitting.

burtonkd 1:34 PM  

PIANOREHEARSAL didn't quite want to go in despite being a pianist who makes a living rehearsing. Sometimes I have the hardest time when something is in my profession - I look for a really specific term or debate whether the really specific term I know would work for a general solver.

In the theater (musicals/opera), there is a Piano Dress Rehearsal so actors/singers/conductor get to practice in costume, lights, sets, sound system, etc. without the expense of the full orchestra. Most commonly shortened to Piano Dress. Piano Rehearsal sounds a bit awkward, but easily inferable.

Anoa Bob 1:46 PM  

Another low black square count, 34, for a themed puzzle. Had another 34er on Monday. More open space for designing a word MURAL but more challenging to fill by a bunch, though.

I was going to point out that HERON is a family of birds, some of which are EGRETs , but John James A @9:25 beat me to it.

I interpreted the "Genus that includes geniuses" to mean HOMO (genus) sapiens (species). Apparently Carl Linnaeus chose it because it is Latin for "wise man". The "man" part needs a "hu-" in front and the jury is still out on the "wise" part. They are debating whether the "sapiens" should be replaced with "insanus".

JC66 1:46 PM  


Consider the source. Please don't go.

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

What JC66 says. All agree you're great. My personal fave in fact.
don't let that knucklehead get you down. Our Phils are in first place fercryingoutloud.

tea73 3:12 PM  

I fell into all the traps ahI instead of UNI, bOssY instead of COCKY. I probably would have written Dead, but I already had the N, so DANE was easy. I actually needed those birds for the solve. Took me slightly longer than average - 3x Laura.

Loved 'Merican in Riyahd's story!

I actually have heard SALUD in this context. My cleaning woman, from Guatamala BTW, who speaks very little English, said it to me after I had a sneezing fit (I average 12 in a row). We looked it up so I could tell her how to say it in English. I come from a gesundheit family as my grandfather was born in Germany.

Teddi and Teddy 3:29 PM  

Mohair was kidding, wethinks

JC66 3:50 PM  

@T & T

I hope you're right.

GILL I. 4:21 PM  

@Mohair...My fennel loving amigo....Thiking that your knitting might be over (I'm thinking the cap is all in red, blanco and blue) better be kidding. Otherwise I'll come back to Glenside and whack you with a wet UNI noodle.

Masked and Anonymous 4:47 PM  

@Mohair Sam - Chill, dude. They may try to get yer goat, but we got yer back.


After discoverin the INRE ERN bird, went lookin for an UME. Nope. Coulda been a contender. Much more likely than KUA, anyhoo.

RooMonster 7:33 PM  

There's also a backwards pMALElBAT. Har.


Joanne 7:42 PM  

It's already a bummer that Evil Doug and Two Ponies quit posting. Please don't go!!!

Harryp 8:09 PM  

@Mohair Sam 1:27 I am sorry about my first posting on unagi where I didn't explain my reasoning, but many cultures including the ancient Romans have eaten eel. There are some differences between salt water and freshwater eels, but cooking them to negate the toxins in the blood is universal. Please don't think I was putting you down for not liking uncooked food. I myself won't eat uni, but love raw opihi, oysters, and many different fish and shellfish, including crab. It is all about where you grew up, and what everyone in your immediate environment ate. Don't let the trolls kick you out of this Blog.

Anonymous 8:29 PM  

I dont think its fair to say Two Ponies quit. I think she was tired of being castigated for expressing ber opinion. More's the pity. She was genuinely different. Liberal orthodoxy claims to value diversity, but thats a lie.
Two Ponies, from Wyoming, who thinks hip hop is nonsense, that cows are for eating, and Trigger warnings are ludicrous was a gem in a blog where so many women spout the same tired nonsense you hear a thousand times a week in Manhattan.

Banana Diaquiri 9:29 PM  

yeah. but more folks live in Manhattan than the entirety of the upper Midwest. why should the minority control things?

Anonymous 10:05 PM  

Thats the sine qua non of the founder's political theory: protection against tyranny of the majority.Besides, what control? She controlled nothing, and was hounded out simply because her views were unpopular.
Also, Wyoming is the mountain west, not the upper Midwest.
Finally, WTF?! Two Ponies was great. Simple courtesy and civility should rule. But not here, I guess.

Anonymous 11:21 PM  

No one side should control anything. Everyone has a right to his or her views without being attacked or castigated. Sadly, that is not the accepted norm on this blog or anywhere else in today's world.

Anonymous 6:38 PM  

@Anonymous, Two Ponies castigated all sorts of groups that she didn’t like so you’re being hypocritical.

Lou 10:06 PM  

In going over their supply list for the upcoming year, my grandsons said they need "hashtag 2" pencils and asked what those were.

thefogman 10:20 AM  

I finished ERRORFREE in about average time. Had eel before UNI and omAR before SCAR. This puzzle KILLSTIME in a delightful way.

spacecraft 10:36 AM  

First: @Laura, is it your job to link the syndicated puzzle? Because if it is...YOU AIN'T DOING IT! We have been on Sunday for four days now, and there's an end-of-the-month coming up. PLEASE, I IMPLORE you, get it straightened out before then!!

On to this one. Like @Aketi, I got the revealer before the others, which helped tremendously in a pretty tough, to start out with, solve. Didn't have much beyond OPES and YDS up top; imagine my surprise at finding REOPENS downstairs. I know OPE and OPEN are spelled differently--but the meaning is unchanged. This to me is a no-no.

Another: calling "distress" ANGUISH. A significant difference of degree there, no? Bad clue. Or, LOW clue. Yeah, I had badSNAP in there and had to write over. WELLI corrected that. While @Dan from accounting thought of Sanford & Son, I thought of High Society:

Well, did you ever? No, I never! What a swell party this is!

Honorable DOD mention to the amazing Grace Kelly in that film. Not the winner only because it's a real stretch to include her in the puzzle off only a memory jogged in my mind. The winner? Any DIXIE Chick--or all of them!

I'd say medium leaning toward challenging for me. Missed a great deal of it from just the clues, but once a few letters went in it was "Oh, that." I like doing a puzzle like that. Accordingly, birdie.

leftcoastTAM 1:55 PM  

Clever and straightforward theme, but didn't get it or see the three FLIPPED BIRDs until the end.

Middle-north didn't go easy. Wanted mwah before CIAO, math before ARTS, and ahi before UNI. Caused some ANGUISH.

Yes, SALUD comment after a sneeze makes sense, but have heard it said only before sharing a drink with someone.

Nice work by Emily Carrol.

Burma Shave 2:58 PM  


It was a CHEAPSOT done in ANGUISH,
WELL,I say it ISNOT preferred;
that COCKY URCHIN had been vanquished,
he cried an OATH and FLIPPEDTHEBIRD.


leftcoastTAM 3:03 PM  

@fakt chukker and @rainforest, from yesterday: Okay, thanks. Give me 30 lashes.

thefogman 3:12 PM  

@Lefty: I too wanted mwah before it became CIAO.
Good puzzle. So a big mwah! goes out to Emily Carroll!

rondo 3:20 PM  

Two li’l inkfests having mwAh before CIAO and bIdeSTIME before KILLSTIME. So actually the revealer helped with the HERON which was FLIPPED in the PIANOREHEARSAL.

Around these parts, ELLER is one thing and only one thing – U of MN All-American and former Viking and NFL Hall-of-Famer Carl ELLER. He of the Purple People Eaters defensive line of the 1970s, when the Vikes actually went to Super Bowls.
ELLER is also the Swedish word for “or”.

GRETA Van Fleet is a young rock band that will make you believe they are the second coming of Led Zeppelin:
GRETA Van Sustern is the only one of those talking heads who can physically talk out of both sides of her mouth. For merely being a part of Fox News she does not deserve a yeah baby. That goes to my grandmother’s cousin GRETA Garbo.

WELLI thought this was a good puz even if I wasn’t ERRORFREE.

rainforest 3:27 PM  

Hey @Burma Shave! You okay?

I'm with you @Spacey re the syndi-linker, if that's what he/she is called. Maybe needs a raise.

Nice puzzle. I had POLTERGEISTS before I got the revealer, and it was only then I saw the embedded backwards bird, and that revealer was a help with the other two themers. So, a successful theme in my book.

This was a very nice puzzle, a Wednesday that tickled me.

Diana,LIW 9:12 PM  

I'm back! This one really had me sweating, but then it fell together - so a very satisfied solve for moi. I've done most of the last week's puzzles by now, too. Mon and Tues were enjoyable in my book. Saturday was both tough and kinda boring for me (the one with a lot of grid spanners, remember?)

Now, I must read others' comments. Good to be back in the saddle. But I should get in the DeLorean and remind @Rex to remind guest hosts to hit the syndie button - tis a pain!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, back at home

Anonymous 11:51 PM  

Like @Diana I too am a bit annoyed at the syndicated button not working. The work around is a pain.

Nice puzzle. Enjoyable and somewhat challenging for me, and like some others figured out the long answers without bothering with the theme. But a nice theme nonetheless IMHO. Good work Miss Emily. And thanks to Clare for the write-up.

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