Philosophy of Simplicity / THU 8-30-18 / Home of the oldest university in the Western Hemisphere (founded in 1551) / Ancient mother goddess

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Constructor: Grant Thackray

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: ADBLOCK (64A: Popular browser extension... or a literal description of four black squares in this puzzle) —  Puzzle where four BLOCKs (black squares) represent the letters AD

Theme answers:
  • MANSPRE[AD] (5D: Annoyance from a subway seatmate)
  • SAL[AD] (11A: Light lunch choice)
  • BUTTLO[AD] (16D: Whole lot, slangily)
  • [AD]DRESS (17D: Speak to)
  • UNDE[AD] (37A: Like zombies)
  • [AD]OPTARO[AD] (38A: Program for reducing litter on highways)
  • [AD]LIBS (40A: Lines screenwriters didn't write)
  • [AD]ULTING (45D: Doing grown-up things, in modern lingo)
  • [AD]ORKABLE (47D: Endearingly awkward)
  • HOTHE[AD] (48D: Easily angered sort)
  • [AD]AMS (70A: Number 2 or 6)  [as in, the 2nd or 6th president]

Word of the Day: Thomas KYD (Playwright Thomas who predated Shakespeare) —
Thomas Kyd (baptised 6 November 1558; buried 15 August 1594) was an English playwright, the author of The Spanish Tragedy, and one of the most important figures in the development of Elizabethan drama.
Although well known in his own time, Kyd fell into obscurity until 1773 when Thomas Hawkins, an early editor of The Spanish Tragedy, discovered that Kyd was named as its author by Thomas Heywood in his Apologie for Actors (1612). A hundred years later, scholars in Germany and England began to shed light on his life and work, including the controversial finding that he may have been the author of a Hamlet play pre-dating Shakespeare's, which is now known as the Ur-Hamlet.
• • •
I've seen a lot of crosswordese in my time, but this is my first encounter with Thomas KYD. I suspect it won't be my last. (Also, "Ur-Hamlet"!)

Anyways, hi! I'm Rachel, a new faculty member at a medical school in central New York who somehow managed to twitter my way into covering for Rex while he is, as far as I can tell, eating his weight in Minnesotan baked goods. In case it isn't obvious from the fact that my entire tweet was an emoji, I am a (fully ADULTING) millennial, and therefore (mostly) loved this puzzle.

For the most part this played pretty smoothly for me. I landed on UNDE[AD] almost immediately, and then skipped to the theme clue and worked out the ADBLOCK. Knowing to look out for missing ADs made the rest of the puzzle fall into place pretty seamlessly. I did have a slight speed bumps in the SE, where it took a few painful seconds to wrap my head around what an [AD]AMS was in relation to 70A: Number 2 or 6.

Aside from my new friend Thomas KYD, most of the grid felt fresh and exciting, with MANSPREAD and ADULTING both making their NYT debut. Both of those terms have their detractors, but neither is as bad as ADORKABLE, which should really be sent to a farm upstate. We've also seen it once before, in 2014. Also making its NYT debut is BUTTLOAD, which I'm sure some will find objectionable, but it made me laugh. I appreciate the almost aggressive youthfulness of this puzzle; in addition to the modern young-people-speak, we have SEENSAY, which I understand is a very retro toy, and MEGAMAN, a slightly-less-retro video game.

The fill struggled in some placed under the weight of the 11(!) theme answers (I'm looking at you, ORL AUST RAS IDA ENE BMOC INS). But as with my browser extension, I'm willing to overlook a lot of issues not to have to have to see any ADs. The double-AD BLOCK on ADOPTAROAD is an impressive feat of construction that more than makes up for the occasionally-spotty fill.

  • POPUP (23A: Temporary, as a store) — I wonder if this was originally clued in reference to the theme as a pop-up ad?
  • SKIPIT (26A: "Let's go to the next one") —In light of the youthfulness of this puzzle, I'm also curious whether this was originally clued as the 80's-90's toy that you... skipped?

  • ATONESPEAK (31D: Performing Flawlessly) — Booo. In addition to this being a dumb phrase, my brain parsed it as ATONE SPEAK, like some sort of command to verbally make up for something.
  • NERDSROPE (7D: Crunchy candy with a gummy string center) — Objectively one of the worst candies don't @ me 
Overall, I thought this puzzle was clever and fresh, and I'm glad Rex took a chance on a person he didn't know anything about beyond a single emoji. Thanks for letting me review at you!

Signed, Rachel Fabi, Queen-for-a-Day of CrossWorld

[Follow Rachel on Twitter where she mostly tweets about public health, ethics, and immigration]


Harryp 1:18 AM  

Challenging for me, as I got stuck in the Northwest with WEBINAR & NERDSROPE. Good puzzle overall.

Unknown 1:19 AM  

Nice write-up, Rachel. :) I thought it was a fun puzzle and also liked the fresh fill, but still don’t get how ADAMS = number 2 or 6. Fully prepared for a forehead-slap when someone explains it.

jae 1:22 AM  

Tough because I briefly went through a rebus phase which took some time to HEAL from. This was a BUTT LOad of fun, just what I want from a Thurs.! Nice write up Rachel.

Graham 1:41 AM  

Now that I know it can do it, I was disappointed that the iPad puzzle didn’t pop “AD” into the four black squares after I was done. :-(

Larry Gilstrap 2:22 AM  

Nice review. Somebody apparently knows the room.

So much to talk about, but this thing took me way too much time. Black squares are just ambient noise, like my neighbor's chihuahua; Google adopt @Eggnog, please! When I finally realized that AD was a black block, the clock had run out of battery. I then decided to embrace the theme; can't believe I just typed those words.

What a coincidence: NERD and DORK we're my nicknames in college. Statute of limitations on verbal abuse, anyone?

I took more than a few seminars where attendance was mandatory, but that was before the WEB.

AREOLA/TEA crossing stirred me.

I will chime in on BUTT LOAD. It slightly offends me, and I'm not even eating here. Why? I'm not sure. I will describe some friends as having a SH*T LOAD of money, and feel as innocent as a lamb, but are either phrases puzzle worthy?

Thursday enough for me.

Dolgo 2:25 AM  

Ah, the old Ur-Hamlet. Though Shakespeare's play seems to have been written about 1603, there seems to have been an earlier play from which only a line remains--a ghost saying "Hamlet, revenge!" Is it an earlier version by the Bard, a play by Kyd, by Thomas Lodge? As you might imagine, much ink has been spilled addressing the problem. Certainly, Shakespeare was reviving an old form, at which Kyd was notably adept. There were others. But, you are right, Rachel. The need for crossword puzzle makers for 3-letter words probably means we will see the playwright's name again (and again!) sigh!

chefwen 2:44 AM  

Got the AD dealio right off the bat with salAD and ADdress, finding the other ADs was pretty easy also, but the NW and SE corners almost did me in. Had lOp for 1D, didn’t know MEGAMAN or WEBINAR, in the SE no idea with SEE N SAY (no kids) or AD BLOCK or KAY. Finally pieced together the SE. Went north, changed my LOP to MOW and was done. Phew! Those corners took me longer than the rest of the puzzle. Oh, and NERDS ROPE, never heard of it and never want to try it.

Being a rebus junky I really did like it despite my struggles.

Anonymous 4:44 AM  

Little help on ADAMS please?

Anonymous 4:47 AM  

Ah never mind. That'd be John ADAMS and John Quincy ADAMS. Took me a minute.

Anonymous 5:40 AM  


Lewis 6:05 AM  

Lovely theme, well executed. I was a little confused at how it worked in the middle row, but I now see that the ADs are at the beginning and ends of words, not in the middle of them.

There's a mini-theme of double S (6), and there are excellent clues for ADAMS and SLALOM. Got the theme in the NE, which allowed me to fill in the reveal with just the D, which began to open things up. Yesterday I learned about Helen Keller and the ACLU, and from looking up ACLU I remembered it began in 1920, so that was an automatic fill in. And today I learned a new interesting morsel, this one about Peru.

This was what I will call a Big Chipper puzzle. I kept chipping away at it, with no big blocks falling in swaths, mainly because of answers out of my wheelhouse. When the final ding of success comes on a Big Chipper puzzle (as it did today), it comes with an "Aah!" and a splat of self-satisfaction that is tough to beat. Much gratitude, Grant!

Anonymous 6:49 AM  

Maybe your version? They showed up on my iPhone.

Unknown 7:09 AM  

Agreed @Graham. Very frustrating. Kept trying to fill “ad” using the rebus key. That didn’t work. Couldn’t fill a black box. Wrecked a good streak☹️ Fun puzzle but technologically challenging for IPad users.

kitshef 7:14 AM  

Maybe once a month there appears a puzzle that, by the time I’m done, I just don’t care. So it was today, and so I ended up with cASEM/(AD)ORcABLE.

So many irritations along the way. At least a dozen, the worst of which were MANSPREAD and ADULTING.

But what really made this shred-it-and-burn-the-pieces bad was the unblocked ADs in ONADATE and ADIEU.

Adam Ant 7:34 AM  

Ditto on the droid version.

Suzie Q 7:54 AM  

Trying to look on the bright side here, I was able to figure out rudderward. Kinda cool word.
So if we have forward and backward would we also have rudderward and ...proward? Boward?
I'm not really a Scrabble player but carousel caught my eye because arouse could become carousel with a C and an L added on.
Care for a piece of candy? Try it, it's crunchy with a gummy string center! No thanks, I'll pass.
Colored body part. Hmm. Versus what? A transparent one?
F-stops I know but T-stops? New to me.
Video games, emo, slang, and lingo made this a bit out of my demographic today.
I guess it's pointless to complain about the gifs so I'll stop.

Nampa Bob 7:59 AM  

Oddly annoying.

Unknown 8:02 AM  


king_yeti 8:11 AM  

The phrases in real use are “ad blocker” and “adopt a highway”. Their forced alteration to fit the theme killed all joy of this one for me

mmorgan 8:12 AM  

Thanks, Rachel, nifty write up (though, again, I do wonder what Rex would make of these). I enjoyed this a lot, but a few squares in the upper NW were a moderate road bump for a while. My only teeny tiny little nit is that I think of these extensions as Ad BlockERS, not Ad Blocks. But that didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the puzzle. (But does anyone say Ad Block instead of Ad Blocker???)

Joe 8:19 AM  

I loved the references in this puzzle. Grew up playing Megaman and every one of the games in the series, so that was a gimme. As was adulting and multiple other things targeted at my age range. It's refreshing to get a puzzle not targeted at my parents or grandparents. The only problem is that throughout my childhood I always referred to it as a "Nerdrope" and so I had to put in "Nerdropes" to make it fit and that screwed me up for quite some time.

puzzlehoarder 8:21 AM  

At the risk of being rude all I really want to say about this puzzle is BUTTLOAD my ass. The phrase is BOATLOAD . It always has been and always will be. A different puzzle had a phrase that describes BUTTLOAD perfectly. It was "AS SAID BY NO ONE EVER."

I don't mind putting in MEGAMAN, WEBINAR, NERDSROPE, ADORKABLE and all the other rebused entries, based on this ADBLOCK I've never heard of. At least they don't insult your intelligence. Will Shortz has this whole cadre of millennial constructors he fawns over and this is typical of the puzzles they produce.

BUTTLOAD is where I draw the line. I don't care how wrong the crosses look. If it shows up on a puzzle again I'll leave it blank.

This was an otherwise fine puzzle but in the future leave out the BUTTLOAD please.

Debra 8:33 AM  

Wonderful puzzle, lots of fun, even though I didn’t know MEGAMAN or NERDSROPE
ADOPTAROAD was too good!

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

This was very challenging for me as I had seminar in place of webinar. Also, I have never heard of megaman or nerdsrope or kyd. So I had to google quite a bit. Good job of the constructor to work in all those entries with 'ad'. No small feat. This definitely skewed toward the millennial generation.

TomAz 8:39 AM  

I am surprised no one has raised an objection to the theme itself. AD BLOCKer is a thing, yes. AD BLOCKing, yes. But AD BLOCK is a thing only in that it is the name of a commercial product. I am trying to remember another time when the NYT xword made such egregious use of a commercial product name as a theme. Yes, COCA COLA or BIG MAC etc could be puzzle answers, but I don't remember them being themes. This crosses a line, in my mind.

The great irony of course is that the puzzle winds up being a gigantic advertisement for the Ad Block product (Download at the Chrome Store Now!), when such product is designed to prevent us from seeing advertisements on the internet. Maybe that's the joke?

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

Lewis has a puzzle in today's LA Times, FYI.

Doug 8:47 AM  

Not offended by "adorkable." Lots of fresh fill here. Mock-offended by Rachel calling the See 'n Say not just retro but VERY retro. Hmph!

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Excellent write-up, Rachel.

Kitty 9:09 AM  

Pres john
Pres john Quincy

Z 9:11 AM  

LATX everyone. That link is only to the intended puzzle today, so if you’re clicking some time other than on 8/30/2018 you won’t get @Lewis’ puzzle.

Hand up for grokking the theme early at SAL(AD)/(AD)DRESS. Mostly fun puzzle. KYD and figuring out what was wanted from “Number 2 or 6” sucked a little joy right out of the room. Having AREOLe didn’t help. Otherwise, a fun, lively puzzle.

WEBINARs are a flawed idea. Do you know what happens when you try to attend something from your desk? Work distractions. “What’s he doing? Do you think he’d mind if I interrupted? It will be just a second.” Or, the infamous “required WEBINAR” where people log in, put their microphone on mute, and catch up on their paperwork while “attending.” Heck, the attendee could be in the break room drinking coffee. Perfectly okay when it is someone’s 12th viewing of the exact same “blood borne pathogen” training (it’s been five years and I can still pass the test). Not so much when discussing the latest regulatory change that directly impacts funding/revenues.

Z 9:12 AM  

Let’s try that again.

Nancy 9:15 AM  

Yes, it's a rebus. But it was like working on two separate puzzles. The rebus, which of course I liked a lot. And all the rest of it, which I wanted to hurl across the room -- and almost did.

Starting the puzzle off with a classic video game set my teeth on edge from the get-go. (I didn't know there would shortly be another video game clue in that section.) Then there was the brand name of the candy. Then there was the educational toy. One after another -- bits of pop culture that I don't know and don't want to know. MEGAMAN. NERDS ROPE. SEENSAY. ORKABLE And you really can't find a better way to clue a simple word like HEAL (60A), Grant?

There are people right here on this very blog who are going to love this puzzle. That's their privilege. As for me, I thought it was Awful Beyond Description.

tb 9:23 AM  

I just couldn't figure out what a RANGETOPAD was.

GILL I. 9:26 AM  

What a work-out.... and not so enjoyable. I like fresh millennial crosswords. This one? not so much.
I got the AD thing at SAL[AD] [AD]DRESS. No problem. Took a while to find the others and see the conceit involved here. Clever. However, I've never heard of ADOPT A ROAD. Like @kingyeti 8:11, it's highway in my neck of the woods. Also never seen BUTT LOAD. Boat, yes. ADORKABLE is in the ADORBS category for moi and it can take a hike along with NERDS ROPE. Maybe they will meet up with MEGAMAN.
I wanted to enjoy this, I really did. The reveal is what made me go bleh. AD BLOCK? Why is it missing the ING? Never heard of SEENSAY, didn't know KAY and didn't know ALLAN Bloom. So a Google fest just to get the reveal. When that happens, I get sad.
Nice to meet you, Rachel and thanks for filling in.

Glinda 9:30 AM  

Most definitely NOT "Easy Medium" but an excellent puzzle!

Shawn Steffey 9:31 AM  

They showed on my iPhone, but the app also updated midway through my solve when I happened to context shift to another app. That may have been for the visuals to work properly

Steve M 9:49 AM  

Not ok for my generation but I tried

Pete S 9:51 AM  

I would have thought the NY Times might be a little wary of introducing its readers to the wonders of adblocking extensions. I guess the subscription business must be doing very well!

If you are new to adblocking, it can make your web-browsing experience exponentially better, by switching off a lot of the garish, flashing ads that blight many websites -- not to mention that they can be a vector for viruses and considerably slow page-load times. uBlock Origin is generally considered to be the best in class when it comes to Chrome and Firefox. You can also deactivate it on a per-site basis to support institutions like the Times.

Hungry Mother 9:53 AM  

I got the theme pretty quickly and thought I was hot stuff, but then I got bogged down almost everywhere else and ended up feeling like a complete dunce. I slogged it through, but didn’t finish with a smile.

QuasiMojo 9:57 AM  

I was so proud of myself for filling in the entire grid even though I didn't enjoy the puzzle. But I kept getting the DNF POP-UP from the NYT app. Turns out I had a DNF for real at MEGAMAN and MOW. I thought it was SEGA MAN (since my knowledge of video games goes back to its origins only and I vaguely recall SEGA being a player in the field. Or some time after Pong, at least.

Never heard of WEBINAR either. I used to take a lot of SEMINARs in college and often didn't attend them so that seemed workable to me. lol.

That left me with GAM for YAK which in my flexible imagination was a rare breed of Yak, a cousin of the ANOA.

I also tried IBIS, IRIS before ISIS.

AUST is a lousy abbreviation coming after N.Z. This type of fill should at least be consistent if only to justify its presence in a grid.

If only the NYT had ADBLOCK in its puzzle these days. More and more we get commercial plugs for supermarket products, video games, popular TV shows and sometimes even upcoming movies.

A pang of some je ne sais quoi on my part seeing ALLAN Bloom's name and book title. It was it was "closing" way back then, where does that leave the "American mind" now!?

Off to the LA TIMES now to see our unclosed-minded fellow blogger Lewis's puzzle. I'm sure it will be a doozie.

crabsofsteel 10:00 AM  

BUTTLOAD and ADORKABLE were stretches, but ALL is forgiven thanks to MANSPREAD and ADOPTAROAD

Hungry Mother 10:09 AM  

Please don’t send me to the funny farm, but I got ADAMS by thinking of agents numbers 2 and 6 from the “Get Smart” TV show starring Don ADAMS and Barbara Feldman, Agents 86 and 99 respectively. Sometimes it helps to be left-handed.

John Child 10:11 AM  

Lots of stuff I didn’t know here. Well done concept and education, just several decades too young for me.

@Lewis’s LAT puzzle is excellent! I wonder if it went to the NYT first...

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

I enjoyed Rachel's write-up much more than I enjoyed this puzzle.

Whatsername 10:34 AM  

It’s Thursday and I love a rebus so I’m happy. If I had to nitpick, it would be 70A/ADAMS which seems to be a sticking point for several others as well. If clued as “2nd or 6th” it would seem far more logical and not such a pock mark on an otherwise fun and cleverly constructed puzzle. Never heard of a NERDSROPE and hope I’m never forced to eat one as it sounds slightly nauseating. No idea King Arthur had a foster brother and have never heard anyone say ADORKABLE but now that I see it, I kinda like it.

@Z: I spent years in jobs with the federal government where I think the webinar originated. That and the infamous telcon (conference call) which was often a weekly or even daily occurrence. Telling on myself but many times I did exactly what you said - “attended “ while doing other things, including occasionally my nails if no one else was around. Can remember a couple of them when someone forgot to mute the phone and actually started to snore. It always brought down the house.

Appreciate Rachel and the other guest bloggers this week taking their time for us. That said, I really was hoping for a GIF free experience today. [sigh]

emmet 10:36 AM  

BEQ did this theme 7 years ago

Whatsername 10:40 AM  

@GILL: yes it is Adopt A HIGHWAY where I live too.

@HungryMother at 10:09 - I love it.

Diana,LIW 10:40 AM  

@Rex or @Rachel.

PLEASE DON'T FORGET THE SYNDERS - THOSE OF US IN SYNDICATION need to have the "syndication button" set to 5 weeks back so we can easily access our puzzles. It's been on Sunday since Sunday.

thanks, the Management (Lady Di of Synders)

Down and Dirty 10:42 AM  

A good day for the downs today. The stuttering ATAT-ATONESPEAK was nice. The indecisive KEPT-TOSSED made me smile as well. LETUP-BRASSHATS. Yes, please do.

jberg 10:46 AM  

Nice writeup, Rachel! I did experience a momentary pang of disappointment after you had expressed unfamiliarity with Thomas KYD, then introduced yourself. For the half-second in between I was looking forward to all the trolls bashing Rex for not knowing an Elizabethan dramatist. (But of course he actually does know him, I'm sure. The Spanish Tragedy is pretty canonic.)

I loved the puzzle and the gimmick -- but I didn't think enough about how NERDScOPE didn't make sense. I was fooled by the capital P in Pinker and figured it must be some NASCAR driver. Really stupid, from hindsight.

I always think it's weird to say Australia and New Zealand are neighbors -- but I guess in that part of the world 1300 miles isn't much.

Laura 10:48 AM  

The ADs only showed up when I finished the puzzle, so it didn't aid in solving anyway. Just a little fun at the end. Don't worry, you didn't miss out.

Unknown 10:49 AM  

First 10 minutes I loved this puzzle, then it all turned 180 degrees to loathing it, particularly in the SE where you have so many jumbled proper nouns crossing each other. Broke my 122 day streak - ON A THURSDAY. At one speak? Still don't get it. Kyd and Bede? Do I have a PhD in Brit Lit? ATAT is terrible - I wanted Rat Pack then Rat Race then Rat Trap - clue this like a Star Wars walker maybe? I've been alive 33 years and take the subway every day - and have never heard anyone ever say "MANSPREAD" or "ADORKABLE."

Loved the theme - hated the puzzle - but guessing the cluing got messed up from what the constructor intended. Shame.

Laura 10:53 AM  

I've used both many times in my lifetime, but BUTTLOAD far more often. I'm sure it began as BOATLOAD before my crass generation made an update.

TJS 10:54 AM  

I gotta say I thought this was a great puzzle, could have even been a Saturday compared to some of the Saturdays we've seen lately. Want to thank Mr. Thackray for reminding me of Yosemite Sam, one of my faves along with Foghorn Leghorn. And the ingeniousness of this construction even makes me give a pass to the emos,adultings and adorkables. I am not a timesolver, and so the several full-stops I had to make to grind my way through this thing didb't bother me. Millennial aimed, yes, in part, but also all over the spectrum with Ft.Sumter,brasshats,Kyd and the Adams Family, etc.

So Lewis is a constructor ! Now I know why he is unfailingly able to find positives even in puzzles I want to set fire to. On my way to check it out.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle - some challenging things this boomer had never heard of - from KYD to ADORKABLE, but really admired the symmetry around AD_OPTARO_AD, and the 4-way blocks. Actually had to get all the crosses before the light bulb went off for AD_AMS to bring up the 2 presidents. BUTTLOAD and MANSPREAD can't help bring back memories of the early SNL skit.

Hope my link thingy works.


newspaperguy 10:59 AM  

I am happy to read all angles of opinions from commenters and bloggers, but embedding a gif that I don't get to turn on and off could be what turns me away from this page. Not at all adorkable.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Tesla Scandals? Elongate!

H. Bob 11:10 AM  

NERDSROPE might be an objectively bad candy, but Nerds Jelly Beans are objectively the best. Pity they're only around at Easter--it's tough to ration them out over a year.

Ethan Taliesin 11:11 AM  

Kristen Carter: POTUSs 2 and 6. ;)

Rob 11:16 AM  

I thought this was great, with very modern, fresh fill. As a child of the '80s I always like it when something iconic from my childhood like Mega Man shows up in a puzzle. Thumbs up from me.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

Totally agree. Goodbye to GIF. Just say no! PLEASE.

Pete 11:21 AM  

In non-puzzle related news, Pumpkin Spice Coffee showed up at my morning coffee shop today. IT'S FRIGGIN AUGUST & YOU'RE TAKING AWAY SLOTS FOR GOOD COFFEE WITH PUMPKIN SPICE!!!???

Back to the puzzle. I probably would have liked it, except that they didn't have the Kenya AA coffee this morning because THEY HAD FRIGGIN PUMPKIN SPICE COFFEE INSTEAD OF MY KENYA AA and everything in the world sucks!

nunya 11:23 AM  

This puzzle was a buttload of fun!

mmorgan 11:23 AM  


Sorry I don't know how to embed URLs/HTML, but you might be interested in this:

GHarris 11:28 AM  

@nancy my thoughts exactly. Got the theme early on and worked through a lot of tough stuff with great satisfaction but couldn’t survive the video games, candy bars and ultra modern lingo without resort to Google.

Masked and Anonymous 11:29 AM  

I suspect this puz may have been made by a kyd. OK by m&e; kyds need a ThursPuz now and then, too -- to make them feel welcome in crosswordworld. This puz did thack my butt clean off with its rays, tho, I'd grant. Lotsa stuff that was fresh news to M&A, who sure ain't no kyd.

Superb constructioneerin job, overall. Good idea, puttin two of them AD-blocks in the NE & SW corners. With themers whizzin out like thack-rays in every direction from those little mushed-up AD-suckers, U tend to get a buttload of themers in a hurry, if U don't watch out.

Thought the ADoptaroAD themer down the middle was a primo exclamation mark.

Sooo … is the moral of the puzstory that ADBLOCK don't block all the ADs all the time? As somebody already pointed out, a couple of the little pups snuck back into the grid, in the ADIEU/ONADATE sector. And also in IDA (also sorta in ADBLOCK itself), if U wanna get extra-sneaky/snarky about it.

16x15 grid, so more for your money. Fairly wide-open grid, too -- so a little desperation starts to ooze in here and there, but nuthin serious. ACAP & AUST & the UP-brothers held up that their end, nicely, without gettin too rambunctious.

staff weeject pick: KYD. Of course. Also AD-mired the luvly weeject stacks, in the NW & SE corners.
fave clue: {Pinker, say} = RARER. har. The way this puz was goin, I thought "Pinker" was gonna be a fan of singer Pink, and went off runnin the alphabet on RA?ER.
fave longball: RANGETOP. Wanted COCKPITS for quite a while, since the clue (sorta) implied a plural answer. Wrong again, M&A breath. Kiss them nanoseconds goodbye.

Thanx, kyd. [aka Grant Thack-Ray; aka Thackman]

Masked & Anonymo6Us

Well-done write-up, Queen Rachel of Fabi.


Carola 11:34 AM  

I had fun with this one - the fun of catching on to the theme early (SALAD x ADDRESS) followed by the delights of MANSPREAD, ADOPT-A-ROAD, and yes, BUTTLOAD. But coming here, I see that I had a double DNF, one of them just a wrong answer (f-STOPS) and the other (worse) conceptual: I didn't see that the ADs of MANSPREAD and BUTTLOAD also were the first syllables of ADULTING and ADORKABLE.
So, I accepted "ulfing" in a "what do I know about youngster-speak?" kind of way, along with "orkable." I like to think I'm young at heart, but I'm obviously not young in vocabulary (same goes for MEGAMAN and NERDROPES). Creaky old humanist that I am, I did know KID, BEDE, and KAY.

Thanks for the write-up, Rachel. Come back and see us again.

Unknown 11:38 AM  

Ahhhh. 😅

CDilly52 11:47 AM  

Thank you Rachel. You and I are on exactly the same page today and I welcome your fresh and positive take on an easy but nonetheless delightful puzzle. I was slowed by the UNDEAD at first. Couldn’t decide whether the “ead” was a rebus, turned the corner or whether the “ad” was the black square. Left it to reveal itself and AD-OPTARO-AD cleared that up. Loved BUTTLOAD, and so much more. As our guest reviewer observes, fresh, youthful but with homage to some of us older folks. I, too wished SKIPIT had been clued for the toy. My daughter adored hers. Fun time although a tad easy for Thursday for me.

CDilly52 11:52 AM  

🙋‍♀️ For having a (rare, as crossword-ing goes for me) prideful moment while slamming in KYD and the “Venerable BEDE” along with Sir KAY.

jb129 12:03 PM  

Got the theme right away but DNF - thru no fault of the constructor's. If only I would've stuck with it til the very end. I enjoyed this but couldn't stay with it. My loss, I guess.

Lindsay 12:07 PM  

Looks like I'm the only one who didn't know ALLeN Bloom spells his name with an "a" in the second syllable. Or knew the fish.

Hated the BUTTLO/AD/DORKABLE column. I must be ADULTING.

old timer 12:22 PM  

DNF because I could not come up with RARER and knew nothing about the candy. Got the rest though. What makes this a tour de force is having all those ADs work in every direction. Not easy to construct, I bet.

John Hoffman 12:23 PM  

Great puzzle. This is why I come to NY Times puzzle every day!

Z 12:35 PM  

@mmorgan - Thanks! Who knew that BUTTLOAD had to do with wine, lots and lots of wine, 126 gallons of wine. Great link.

@Pete - I feel your pain. I have a great local roaster right down the hill from me, so I never suffer those sorts of indignities.

JC66 12:48 PM  

As an oldster, this puzzle was a real struggle. Like some others have already said, not a lot of fun.


Me, too for the ALLeN/fish Natick.

Now, on to Lewisville.

TJS 12:55 PM  


@Anon 11:06. Just got it. Doh

@ Lewis Strange experience doing a puzzle by someone you feel you sorta know. I found myself rooting for a high quality fill, and you came through with flying colors. Gave me a new perspective on how Rex can't help leaning one way or another on some of his reviews. Interesting.

TJS 12:58 PM  

Forgot : @Z, Thanks for the link. Couldn't figure it out from the LAT page.

Vincent Lima 1:05 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle and its "aggressive youthfulness," and I enjoyed Rachel's write-up. It's just as well Rex didn't have to do this one; he couldn't complain of stale answers, and that would be disorienting.

"ADORKABLE, which should really be sent to a farm upstate." Rachel, since you teach upstate, do you have a particular farm in mind?

My last entry was the M of MEGAMAN and MOW; I had guessed S because sEGA is a video game company but sOW didn't make sense....

JC66 1:06 PM  


Agree with @TJS, above. Loved your LAT puzzle today. Thanks.

Teedmn 1:07 PM  

AT ONE'S PEAK does not describe my performance today on either of the two puzzles I solved. I got the trick almost immediately on the NYT puzzle but there was so much out of my wheelhouse that I still struggled with it. The cluing was sometimes vague, which didn't help. 1D, for instance. "Trim, in a way" for MOW. I had _O_ for a long time and not knowing MEGAMAN or NERDSROPE made WEBINAR really hard to see. And then there was the debate - was 20A going to be ESTb or ESTD? Luckily, I decided on the latter.

Seeing ADOPT A ROAD was a great aha today. I had a hard time with "Pinker" at 30A; at one point I had RipER because I had NERDS pOps at 7D and wondered what fruit or veggie was pink. Some apples, maybe or grapefruit.

The other puzzle I did today was the delightful offering @Lewis had in the L.A.Times. I recommend everyone check it out!

Nice sophomore effort, Mr. Thackray, and I appreciate the brain workout and introduction to new terms.

1820 Stone Colonial House 1:11 PM  

A butt is a wine or whisky barrel (i.e. the infamous malmsey butt in Richard III), and a butt load is the volume of liquid it takes to fill it, 108 Imperial gallons, or half a tun.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

@Larry - I agree completely. Finally no "I've spent the last 4 years being tired" and "Hey, for the 1,000th time, look at me at Law School."

The review was exactly why I read this blog. Informative, knowledgeable, and well written. Bioethics? Excellent. Did you read about the guy who came into a hospital in critical condition with DNR tattooed on his chest? Some ethical questions arose about how to treat him. Howzat?

I thought the puzzle was a little harder than normal. All good. Some proper names, some obscure references. Sweet!


RooMonster 1:16 PM  

Hey All !
Not a b◼️ puz today. Really liked that the themers used both Acrosses and Downs. Liked most of the ◼️ words, but a couple are a bit wonky. MANSPREAD is starting to grow on me (no pun intended, there), but ADULTING and ADORKABLE are kinda off. Enjoyed BUTTLOAD, though. Inner 10 year old, and all that. 😳

Thanks to the ADAMS explainers, that one was truly puzzling. Fill wasn't too terrible, with the theme amount. I like lots of theme. TILAPIA threw me off, was thinking aquarium fish. Har. Ended up with just two other ◼️'s (ADs) in puz, 14A, 4D, which also isn't terrible. I'm sure it was tough to fill without ◼️ditional ◼️'s.

So, I liked this puz, after ALL was GABbed and done. And that's all I'm SEEN to SAY. (I know it's SEE N SAY. Sheesh.) ✌️


Preferred Customer 1:18 PM  

Been using buttload for a long time. Decades. Somehow it sounds worse in a puzzle. Not a new coinage.

JC66 1:29 PM  

For out-of-towners, MANSPREAD is common on NYC subways.

TooManyJens 1:49 PM  

Am I the only one who’s been seeing/using “adorkable” for years? I guess it helps that adorkable guys are kind of my type. :)

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

Thought buttload had something to do with dirty diapers.

Masked and Anonymous 2:00 PM  

yo, @Lewis: Great job, on yer LATPuz today. Had beltloads of fun, solvin it. Thanx.

Agree with some others that them extra little twitchin pics that sometimes inhabit the blog write-up can be distractin. But, careful strategic scrollin seems to keep em somewhat at bay.

Correction in my first msg: "held up that there end", not "held up that their end". day-um. Really hate to ruin a perfectly good "that there".

@RP: Minnesota? Baked goods? … cinnamon roll baked goods?! … buttload of cinnamon roll baked goods?!?! [envious unintelligible gurglin sounds]


SJ Austin 2:00 PM  

Great write-up of a great puzzle. I agree: the youthful whimsy was a breath of fresh air, although I'm sure a BUTTLOAD of stodgy complainers will disagree.

BarbieBarbie 2:14 PM  

@CDilly, you get applause for KYD but not for BEDE or Sir KAY-- even a STEMer knew those.

iPad didn't show the ADs but didn't ding me with a DNF-- there were only four so they weren't hard to visualize or keep track of-- what was the problem with not having them show up?

I had a friend who used to end every workday by saying "I've had a BUTT-full" just before going home. So, the LOAD version is guessable for non-Milennials.

The four-way overlap on two of the rebus squares is amazing and really a smile-producer. Very enjoyable puzzle! And write-up as well. More of both, please.

QuasiMojo 2:22 PM  

Hey @Lewis. Great job on the LATX. Fresh and funny.

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

Coimbra in Portugal is 8 degrees West of Greenwich and University dates to 13th century. Santo Domingo in Peru is the oldest in the New World, but not the Western Hemisphere.

Nick 2:41 PM  

The extension is an 'ad blockER', not an 'ad block', so that answer, which failed to follow the blocked 'ad' trope, spoiled (for me) an otherwise fine puzzle.

Unknown 2:48 PM  

To be fair, buttload has it origins in an actual term. In England, a butt was a large cart, and so the capacity of said cart was called a “buttload.” (Roughly 48 bushels)

Diana 3:20 PM  

Didn’t show up on iPad or iPhone, both up to date. Don’t know how to enter those “ads” to save my streak

Unknown 3:22 PM  

Showed up fine on my iPad.

Unknown 3:28 PM  

Me too.

Unknown 3:35 PM  

Didnt show up on my iPhone! Crossword ap is notorious for rebus issues and inconsistencies. Pretty lame considering how expensive it is.

Lewis 3:41 PM  

@john child, @TJS, @JC66, @Teedm, @M&A, and @QuasiMojo -- Thank you for your kind words, glad you enjoyed it!

JC66 3:57 PM  


The ADs aren't entered into the grid. They're the black squares in the upper right and lower left hand corners, and the black squares preceding and following OPRARO.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

I thought it might be a gay reference, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Shackfu 4:34 PM  

Ugh...Dnf. ADORKABLE? MANSPREAD? ADBLOCK? ADOPTAROAD? ADULTING? MEGAMAN? NERDSROPE? So many answers and clues were very obscure, forced or shortened to fit the puzzle. Yucky puzzle. Nice write up though.

Joe Bleaux 4:36 PM  

I guess some sub it as a polite version of the common "assload," but I haven't heard it.

Preferred Customer 4:42 PM  

@Pete Might I recommend a local coffee shop in lieu of the Goliath you currently appear to frequent? When you find a good one you'll never go back. Coffee is the most important event of the day.

Joe Bleaux 4:45 PM  

Hi, @Nancy -- Glad it wasn't just me ... that HEAL clue struck me as gratuitous youthiness.

Rachel 5:20 PM  

Thank you for the kind responses, everyone! Apologies for the MEGAMAN gif for those who find him off-putting (and you're welcome for the MEGAMAN gif to those who, like me, find him adorable).

Rachel 5:26 PM  


Anonymous 5:42 PM  

The ADs did not show up for me after I finished. I updated to latest iPhone app 2.15 and then the ADs appeared.

Anonymous 5:46 PM  

The cluing for AREOLA was some white people nonsense. That's the only "Colored body part"? Really? Otherwise enjoyed this one.

Nancy 6:09 PM  

"Gratuitous youthiness". Wonderful!! My nomination for the best coinage since Colbert's "truthiness". [See @Joe Bleaux, 4:45 p.m.]

Anonymous 6:20 PM  

"Colored body part" is the clue. Nothing about being the only one. Nothing racist there...

j-vt 9:12 PM  

ACLU crossing with LIBS (actually ADLIBS, with the theme, but still). True nowadays that they are connected, but one time ACLU had a fair amount of conservative support. True conservatives back then.

Azzurro 10:36 PM  

Liked the puzzle and the write up. I’m glad someone explained [AD]AMS for me.

Girish 11:26 PM  

@Vincent Foti 2:48 PM Thanks for cleaning the terminology up. 😀 Obvioudly, it’s not always wise to jump to judgement, if ever. And thanks to Rachel for a wonderful write-up. Anyone up for a round of seensay? 🤔

a.corn 12:03 AM  

Great write up! What the hell is BMOC??? Oh nvm google exists. Acronym for “big man on campus” how about GTFO...... will go search the comments for ADAMS explaination - didn’t give me any issues, and managed to finish ~30 mins (just slightly over) but still don’t know wtf it means. 🙃

a.corn 12:06 AM  

Thaaaaaank you!!!

a.corn 12:09 AM  

Ditto. Big time. Loved this puz for exact same reasons - had the same snag w/ willly wonkas S

a.corn 12:11 AM  

This entire write up reminds me of the antagonist in “Up”

Speedypaper 6:59 AM  

Great! Thanks!

Anonymous 12:05 AM  

It's just rangetop, as in stove, with a pilot light.

Burma Shave 9:30 AM  


ALL EDIE could do was ELONGATE with some TASTY HOTHEAD.


spacecraft 11:05 AM  

DNF: a RARER quadruple-Natick in the--guess where?--you GETS it: NW!

I do not video-game, at ALL, so 1-a is unknown. And 18-a? WEBINAR? Like a seminar, I guess, but too mod for me to know. And what could 5-d be? Something-SPREAD, yeah, but what? MAP, as in somebody unfolding a big subway map? No, there are no physical maps any more. How about a LAPSPREAD? I could see that...though I'd rather not. The actual answer, MANSPREAD?? Now wait a minute. Now I'm offended! I have seen bodies take up two, even three seats on the bus--and they aren't men!! What is up with that?

As for the final Natick, NERDSROPE, I simply never heard of it.

I got the BLOCKAD parts, but once again it resulted in a torturous fill. Even if I had finished, this would have been a bogey or worse. ATONESPEAK? Hardly.

centralscrewtinizer 1:02 PM  

Lovely writeup. Tough crossword for me with lots of obscure items. Still, knocked em dead except for the naticky K of Kasem/Adorkable, so a proud dnf.

rondo 1:24 PM  

Well I did finish, but that NW corner was ALL kinds of trouble. Tried lApSPREAD (unisex you know). Didn’t know NERDS came on a ROPE. Didn’t know MEGAMAN. Only when the WEBINAR light came on could I get the rest. I’ve done WEBINARs; why it took so long beats me. One other write-over was fSTOPS on a camera; I guess video is different.

If TILAPIA is farmed I may have had my last of it.

As Tony Soprano’s long suffering wife Carmela, yeah baby EDIE Falco was great.

I usually don’t like to see ADs, but not seeing a few ADs here is a whole different story.

rainforest 2:08 PM  

I guess I'm not modern enough, (sigh), as I crashed and burned in the NW. MEGAMAN, MANSPREAD, NERDSROPE. What are those? (another sigh).

I have to say I felt quite clever finding all the AD blocks, as well as ADBLOCK, and working out ADULTING and ADORKABLE. Got ADAMS, but didn't know what the heck that meant. Sometimes being a Canadian doesn't help, but after observing the gong show around the Kavanaugh nomination, I feel smugly superior.

If I were 30 years younger, I might have zipped through it, but as it is I begrudgingly must say I admire the feat, but its not in my wheelhouse, whatever that is.

Must read some plays written by the famous KYD THOMAS, har.

thefogman 3:03 PM  

Never mind SKIPIT. I'm old enough to remember Footsie the skipping toy which was made by Reliable Toys. Pretty much every girl had one in the '60s. Just a plastic hoop that slipped over the ankle and a 2' string with a plastic cup at the end. They sold millions of the things. The puzzle was fine but I was foiled by BUTTLOAD - I had BoaTLOAD like probably a few others did here. I also had SLAg instead of SLAM, KASig instead of KASEM and BEDi instead of BEDE. So yes, a BUTTLOAD of mistakes.

thefogman 3:04 PM  

PS - Although I got it, I did not like the appearance of ADORKABLE for the same reasons I did not like BUTTLOAD (which I did not get).

Diana,LIW 3:22 PM  

Don't you just want to pat this puzzle on it's ADORKABLE lil BUTT? Shur…

I, too, feel like the Ancient Marinar, who never played video games. Even with getting the (*^ rebus, I didn't know some PPP, so dnf.

Lady Di, or Dying

leftcoastTAM 4:35 PM  

I got a BUTTLOAD of pain out of this one.

thefogman 5:47 PM  

@D,LIW: Why does the phrase ADORKABLE lil BUTT make me think of Miley Cyrus? Maybe I've been twerking too hard...

Lori B. 3:31 PM  

Proud to be a Baby Boomer who must be ATONESPEAK because I made only one letter mistake (I had NERO instead of NERD). I'm not quite old (or smart) enough to have known about KYD, but I got it right anyway and learned something in the process, even at my age. And I still don't get ESTD. Maybe that's a good thing?

Anonymous 8:44 PM  

A new low for the NYT crossword. BUTTLOAD is indeed offensive. MANSPREAD is both sexist, and to use a trendy term, "fat-shaming." I would give a pass to ADORKABLE (maybe), but not ADULTING. MEGAMAN? NERDSROPE? SEENSAY? New terms for the crossword, perhaps, but not in a good way. Thomas KYD and FTSUMTER were the only bright spots in a dismal puzzle.

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