Horse with evenly mixed black white hairs / WED 9-26-18 / Ghost psychic Oda Brown / Gang pistol in old slang / Quahog geoduck / Island group in Aegean sea / liberal arts school in st petersburg fla

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Constructor: Melinda Gates and Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (4:00)

THEME: doubling of first letters — familiar phrases that start with a single letter have that letter doubled ... and then the whole thing is wackily clued:

Theme answers:
  • XX FACTOR (17A: Part played by women and girls?)
  • CC SECTION (29A: Area below To:" in an email?)
  • JJ CREW (37A: Ones on set with 2009's "Star Trek" director?)
  • AA LINE (40A: Any one of the 12 steps?)
  • BB COMPLEX (46A: Group of buildings housing a King?)
  • EE READER (64A: Lover of Cummings's poetry?)
Word of the Day: BLUE ROAN (12D: Horse with evenly mixed black-and-white hairs) —
  1. 1. 
    denoting an animal's coat consisting of black-and-white hairs evenly mixed, giving it a blue-gray hue.
  1. 1. 
    an animal with blue roan coat. (google)
• • •

Oh, we're still doing the whole "celebrity" co-constructor thing? Really thought that fad was finished, but I should've known better. This is the kind of theme that could've been good if there had been some Reason for the doubled letters. Seems like the potential basis for an interesting meta-puzzle, if you could get the letters to spell something or otherwise work in concert, and the puzzle had a snappy revealer or something. Here, it's just a bunch of double letters. Now, to be fair, most letters of the alphabet don't provide very good answer options when doubled up at the front. Not a lot of TTs out there, for instance. So maybe the list of viable letters for a theme like this is too restricted to do anything Extra. But there was still something slightly unsatisfying about the arbitrariness of the letter choices and answers. Why not AA TEAM or AA LIST—AA LINE is just bizarre. I mean, calling "any one of the 12 steps" a "line" is bizarre. Also, I really wish the NYTX would avoid chromosome clues altogether, largely because they are oversimplistic and essentialist and blargh.

Mainly I just thought the theme clues were far more boring than they ought to have been. [Area below "To:" in an email?]?? Snore. If you ditched the XX answer and replaced it with some initials (LL COOL J? HH MUNRO? WW NORTON?) and then changed the CC one to a clue about pitcher C.C. Sabathia and the AA one to something about Milne, then they would all be about people ... so there'd be some consistency. And maybe there's a phrase out there that would make a nice revealer, I don't know. But there has to be something Extra that could be done to make this pop.

Longer weird answers made this slightly tough in parts. The CYCLADES aren't exactly a household island group name, and I've never heard of either ECKERD College (?) or a BLUE ROAN. The latter created the toughest part of the puzzle by far. I needed almost every cross, especially considering that even black-and-whiteness does not suggest BLUE to me. Yeesh. But most of the rest of the fill was OK. Weakest in the whole ONME / OXO / ECOLI / ECKERD region, but much more solid elsewhere. I probably would've tried to avoid all double letters altogether in a puzzle like this, especially in the Acrosses, just so the theme can, you know, pop. But this puzzle did what it did, and except for that XX clue, the results were largely unobjectionable.

Five things:
  • 7D: Irony? (FERRIC)OK, FINE, that's cute.
  • 42A: Grant with the 1991 #1 hit "Baby Baby" (AMY) — this is such a weird, weird place to go for your AMY. I mean, I knew this because I had a secret affection for this song when I was in my early 20s. But still, of all the AMY clues in the world, you're going with a Christian crossover singer who had a hit 27 years ago?
  • 1D: Freight train part (BOX CAR) — Had this as MOXCAR at first, for obvious reasons
  • 18A: Have hot cocoa on a winter day, say (WARM UP) — before or after you BONE UP? (51D: Study, informally)
  • 24D: Obsolescent TV attachment (VCR) — "attachment" threw me. I was thinking something like "rabbit EARs"—but yeah, I guess you did have to "attach" the VCR to the TV, so, fine.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


puzzlehoarder 12:20 AM  

I solved this with extra thick stupid goggles on. The clues were not clicking half the time. I had trouble coming up with CARTER off the C. It could have just been a random mental block but it was in keeping with the rest of my performance.

In the south EE for Cummings was easy. JM for Barrie not so much. It really didn't help that I'd written SALT in as SATT. I didn't even notice until I teased AMY out of my brain and then had to make sense of 39D.

An even bigger mess was the north center. INSPIRE at 20A and EAR at 24D (like the antennas) had me flummoxed for a bit. I fixed that when I remembered that Duke's players are DEVILs.

I got a clean grid but I stumbled on the way. This was a good puzzle and our resident alphadopterwhatever should be very happy.

jae 12:38 AM  

Medium. Pretty good Wed., liked it.


OK by mE before OK FINE.

chefwen 2:28 AM  

Had BarCAR in a 1D, that’s where I spend my time on a train, until I reread the clue. OOPS, I guess freight trains don’t have that little extra luxury.

Got a little hung up in the NE with E SCALE and WARM UP mixed with BLUE ROAN, finally pulled it together.

Fun theme that I appreciated more after I finished.

Brookboy 2:37 AM  

Puzzle was OK. I didn’t get the double letter theme until I had nearly finished. Like Rex I had mOXCAR at first. I wasn’t sure about the double X answer at first, which didn’t help. Interesting that 45 D was OXO instead of OOX or (instead of XXFACTOR) maybe XXO. Agreed with Rex that the clues could have been more interesting, but, all in all, I enjoyed it.

Nice write-up from Rex.

Sue T. 2:44 AM  

I love it when a rather obscure answer turns out to be right in my wheelhouse. In this case, my parents live literally across the street from ECKERD College.

Marc 3:07 AM  

This one played like a Friday or Saturday for me. I was all over the grid and never got traction. Knew double letters was a theme but didn't help me early on. And there were, as Rex wrote, some horrible fill.

Never played bridge, but my great grandmother was a master or some such thing. Had trophies all over the house. But no one else in the family played that often or at all, and certainly not with passion.

So do crosswords fall in the same manner? I do not see young people do them.

Lewis 5:56 AM  

@marc -- Same here. My dad was a national bridge champion; his team played in the World Championships. But no one else in the family played that often or at all.
@puzzlehoarder -- Your resident alphadoppeltotter got excited at seeing all those double letters, but even with the help of the theme, the puzzle didn't have an unusually high number of double letters (20 or more); it fell three short.

Lewis 6:19 AM  

This puzzle had a very tight theme, and that plus the going from terms that start with a single letter to playing with doubling that letter was easily plenty to qualify as a theme, IMO. And it was one of the best kinds of themes for me, the kind that makes me think, "Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?"

I like FIXATE and OUTRE, and BONE by STERNA. That big plus in the middle reminds me of the effect Bill and Melinda's foundation has had on the world. Just thinking and reading about the foundation's work after solving this puzzle made this puzzle more than just a lovely solve; it warmed my heart.

kodak jenkins 6:50 AM  

A nice little puzzle that felt easy but the clock says it's an average Wednesday. I was initially wincing at all those ? clues but when the theme became apparent it wasn't so bad. I agree with previous commenters and hypercritical bloggers that the theme answers could have had more pizzazz. Looking back, the whole puzzle is rather tame but thankfully scandal-free, despite certain people's umbrage at the chromosome clue.

FERRIC was a rare answer that made me laugh out loud.

'merican in Paris 6:53 AM  

Just returned from a conference in Oxford (UK, not Mississippi), which is more famous for its association with the Clinton than the CARTER family. I always liked Jimmy and Rosalynn; still do.

My completion time was a bit below my average for a Wednesday, so I liked that. A good WARM UP for tomorrow's. One thing that slowed me down was being prepared for a Rebus, as I wanted BBCOMPound before the crosses gave me BBCOMPLEX. Had to REDO the NE, also, as I had mFA before BFA, and Odometer before OIL GAUGE.

My one cavil is that I would have worded the clue to 70A as "Org. that was formerly green-minded"; I think it's stretching things to call it now a "Green-minded org."

Interesting to see DEVIL in the puzzle, just as people are starting to ask about Brett Kavanaugh's high-school yearbook entry, which refers to DEVIL's and a particular geometric formation. Pretty SALTy.

Question for other solvers: Does E.COLI PASS the breakfast test?

kitshef 7:14 AM  

Nifty idea, nicely executed. The long downs are mostly great, and while SAM RAIMI wasn’t, he sliced open the grid for me nicely (big fan of the RAIMI Spiderman movies).

Only flaw was AAA. Double letters outside the themers are fine by me, but not at the beginning of a word. Of course, sandwiched between two themers means there is not a lot of room to play.

We still have a VCR, but it says obsolescent, not obsolete, so that’s OK.

Spectacular clue for FERRIC.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

Wasn’t “irony?” used this past weekend in the Puns and Anagrams puzzle?

Dawn Urban 7:44 AM  

AALINE probably refers to A-line skirts.

NE corner was awful..."A horse is a BLUEROAN, of corse, of course..."

But this puzzle was a fun way to begin a rainy day! Thank you to the constructors!

Hungry Mother 7:55 AM  

Fun theme, but quite a slogfest due to all of the names. Glacial speed today, similar to my running times lately.

mmorgan 7:56 AM  

I'm never surprised when Rex bashes a puzzle I enjoyed, and I often even find some humor in his fiercest pans. But today I just think he's being too hard on this. I found the theme answers to be very clever -- doubling the first letter of a familar term to change the meaning in a plausible and amusing way. A very pleasant diversion and a nice bit of word play (and I don't really care if the co-constructor is a celebrity or not).

Music Man 8:16 AM  

Wow! Many music references in today’s puzzle.
32A: “Back In The USSR” by the Beatles (“White Album” track, 1968).
42A: “Baby Baby” by Amy Grant (#1, 1991).
66A: Sasha Fierce, Beyonce’s alter ego.
6D: “Million Years Ago” by Adele (unreleased track from the album “25”, 2015)
28D: “Our House” by CSNY (#30, 1970).

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

Hey Austin, here's an idea. Let's tax all the creators to the hilt. I haven't really thought it through, but it makes me feel good to say it, so I'm sure it will work out ok.

Darwin 8:25 AM  

100% of green organizations are not the EPA. Carter is not 100% of US Presidential Nobelists. 100% of dashboard lights are not oil gauges. I could go on and on.17 A. Is an accurate clue/answer.

pabloinnh 8:29 AM  

I was in the MOXCAR camp for way too long, didn't have the X, and was wondering mop car? mob car? mom car? and so on, which was at least entertaining. I thought the theme was fine because it took an answer or two to see what was going on, which leads to at least a mini aha! moment.

Agree with 'mericans that the EPA has ceased to resemble anything like a "green-minded organization.

Mostly I was delighted to see old friend "geoduck" in a clue again. I was afraid they might have become extinct. How are the anoas? Maybe AnoaBob knows.

FrankStein 8:35 AM  

@Anon 7:42, no the same “irony/ferric” clue was in the New Yorker puzzle from this Monday.

Johnny Whirlwind 8:41 AM  

Are we not going to talk about how terrible it was for LOAF (which I still don't get, and I'm one of those millennial-types) to cross OUTRE?

Suzie Q 8:55 AM  

I was hoping Rex would use a video of Our House in his review.
Lovely song.
I'm going to say I loved this puzzle just in case Bill is reading.
I don't want a curse put on my computer.

oldbizmark 9:13 AM  

this puzzle sucked in so many ways. i don't care to explain. i wasted enough time doing the stupid thing.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

It was easy to PASSBY this one, couldn't WARMUP to it. It was a FIERCE ORDEAL. A DEVIL, it was. I guess that's
enough. It's probably ONME but I disliked this puzzle. BTW: ASAP does not mean "NOW!". Solvers were expected to enter STAT, which I dutifully did.

GILL I. 9:20 AM  

I saw Melinda Gate's name and went yay...she's one of my all-time favorite, classy women.
Now that I've gushed, I will say that this brought very little satisfaction to me. I caught on to the double letters after working so damn hard. I wasn't getting on the gravy train. Sat in the BOX CAR looking for @chefwen's BAR. I do a RESPITE when taking a breath and so that "T" gave me the unknown SAM TRAIMI. Who dat? Didn't know the feminist writer LORDE nor JM BARRIE forgot ALFRED didn't know ECKERED or ELSA Peretti. Please don't tell me that these are all famous names and anybody with an IQ of 80 knows them. Plain old UGH for me. Eventually, I was able to suss them out but it wasn't fun.
So for all my efforts, I only get one smile: EE READER. Well, I guess, CC SECTION was kinda cute as well. That's about it.
Maybe seeing CARTER up there put me in a grumpy mood. Peace prize....yeah, I watched a ton of friends practically go bankrupt under his watch. I bought my first house under is reign. Interest rates were at a whopping 22%. Because builders were screaming for people to buy, they would offer enticing rates for first time buyers. Don't even get me started on the energy crisis and the around-the-block waiting for gas LINE. He's a much better human being now that he builds homes. I've never liked peanuts.
I wish I had enjoyed this more. I'm afraid @Rex is right. It lacked pop. Didn't have any crackle or snap either.

Colby 9:39 AM  

I hate that OXO is clued as a tic tac toe loser. A string of OOO or XXX (three in a row) means someone wins (or alternatively, someone loses). A string of any other letter combos does not in itself imply winning or losing (unless bisected by another string of Xs and Os). IMO, these sorts of answers are just junky place-fillers, and I wish the NYT would move away from them.

Odd Sock 9:48 AM  

Avoid chromosome clues?
You're kidding I hope.

Tim Aurthur 9:57 AM  

Couple of quibbles: 1. Isn't it a no-no to have a word in a clue that's also in one of the answers (BLUE)? 2. I don't think a musician would ever say ESCALE. It's an E major scale.

Z 10:02 AM  

I did the same thing as Rex, finished the puzzle and then looked for a reason for this particular group of doubled-letters. OK, FINE, there is no extra pattern. This puzzle is decent for what it attempts to do, but lacks either the ambition or ability to be actually great. Did I just recap the whole Microsoft/Apple war? Why, yes, yes I did.

Hand up for mOXCAR. First, how many colleges award BFA's? Second, How many people with just a Bachelors do museums employ? Technically correct, but I am not surprised at the number of us who wanted MFA there.

@Darwin - Rex did not say it was "inaccurate." He said it was "oversimplistic and essentialist." If you are going to disagree, try disagreeing with what was actually said.

@Marc3:07a.m. - Well, that's the worry, isn't it. If you keep publishing puzzles where your marquee answers are once famous writers who died 60 years ago and exhibiting the cultural sensitivity and awareness of a Senate Republican then you are putting up barriers to the next generation of solvers. Thinking you are elite when you are really just stodgy is a recipe for failure.
BTW - I asked my trivia teammates (all originally from New Jersey or New York and between the ages of 61 and 77) If they knew Weill, Brecht, or yesterday's answer. Yes to Weill and Brecht and a chorus of "Why are you asking" on the third. You all wildly overstated the gentleman's level of fame yesterday.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Since Gill opined on Mrs. Gates, I will too. She's a huge, and I mean enormous problem in the world. The Gates foundation is the biggest charity in the world, and they've gone down a dark path. M. Gates was eduacated by the sisters at Ursuline Academy of Dallas. She claims to be grateful for her education there, but has broken with the Church on several key points. She is in fact cooperating with evil. She doesn't pass the breakfast test.

One last bit--oil gauge is pretty creaky. I can't recall one. I've seen oil pressure gauges--though they're getting rarer too-- but all the gauges in cars and bikes I know, measure the oil pressure. Not the oil (as in amount, like a gas gauge, or the amperage in amp gauge etc). Yes, it's a fine distinction, but we've cut things much finer around here many times.

Flame away friends. I know many here, probably most, think abortion and contraception aren't just ok, but desirable. I think they're grotesque. Melinda Gates should too. She learned better and turned her back on truth. I pity and pray for her.

Nancy 10:08 AM  

When XX FACTOR came in ahead of all the other theme answers, I was expecting a Year of the Woman-type theme -- one offering timely solidarity and support to the women about to face the hostility and skepticism of the GOP (Guardians of Predators?). So when the theme turned out to instead be a lot of CCs and BBs and EEs and AAs, I was disappointed. Not that there's anything wrong with this theme. It just isn't what I was expecting. Warning to self and others: Never prejudge.

The puzzle was OK FINE with me but nothing more. The worst thing about it was OK FINE. As it was coming in, I said to myself: "Please tell me you're not going to be OK FINE." But OK FINE, it was. And IKEAS is ridiculous. Talk about your POCs, (a term I learned here, btw.) A perfectly serviceable puzzle that I will have forgotten by 11 a.m.

Re yesterday's "grid art" -- which as usual I missed entirely. I went to Jeff Chen, who, according to someone yesterday, had mentioned it too. And he had. My only comment about said grid art: As if!

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Great puzzle. XX factor was my favorite answer. Well played.

Peter P 10:28 AM  

Some questionable cluing already mentioned, but I loved this puzzle for EEREADER. I don't think I've ever actually chuckled at a crossword before. Loved that clue/answer.

Doug Garr 10:28 AM  

Agreed with every single ding that Rex mentioned. That in itself is a miracle. The theme answers were not consistent. Got stuck with MFA instead of BFA. All through solving I kept wondering whether it was Melissa's clue or Joe's clue. AALINE was ridiculous. I had AALIST right away and that stumped me. As Rex said this puzzle could have been improved a lot by having people theme answers.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

My wife went to Eckerd when it was still Florida Presbyterian College. Her conservative parents gave her the choice of FPC (near an aunt) or the small religious college in her Missouri town. She had decided on Carlton but the school ill-advisedly sent her a copy of the student newspaper which was full of anti-vietnam war protest rallies and similar "hippie" stuff.

relicofthe60s 10:38 AM  

Why is the word celebrity in quotation marks in the review? Is it that Melinda Gates doesn’t qualify because she’s not on a sit com and she doesn’t rap?

As for the person who thinks Melinda Gates is an “enormous problem,” I think you’re the problem.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Not to mention ESCALE. I liked the puzzle.

JC66 10:54 AM  


Love "Guardians of Predators."

Teresa 10:56 AM  

What is it about crosswords that bring out some of the most crochety (and shallow) extremism out of people?

We have a fundie in these comments, so enough freaking said on that front.

Re: the tweet talking about taxing the Gates 75%: I agree, and so do the Gates. That said, I don't want this administration to have another damn penny to throw at separating children and putting up curtains. It's a stupid, flippant remark that undeservedly diminishes the work of an organization that is attempting to do good. I'm no wealth apologist, and higher taxes ARE the answer (at least part of the answer, and assuming they are used to public benefit), but we have a serious problem with holding people to an impossible standard. And not in a constructive way. That tweet isn't saying "do better" it's saying "butt out."

Chromosomes is a tough one. On the one hand chromosome clues contribute to trans and intersex erasure. On the other hand it's a term that resonates with some AFAB women (see twox communities online). Don't have an answer here, but don't think never using chromosomes is the right answer either.

RooMonster 10:59 AM  

Hey All!
Thought it a good puz, Jeff Chen usually cleans up a puz as good as can be, though this one seems like he might've been able to pare down the non theme doubles. Just an observation, as Chen always seems to get his puzs published, me, no. ALL ROT ON ME. :-)

POC IKEAS rankled (sp?) a bit. I guess if you're talking about two IKEAS? Would USSRS be acceptable? OK, I'll CLAM UP.

Best themer was EE READER, though slight nit, doesn't EE spell his name non-capital? ee cummings. Like kd lang. OXO is and has been clued as a "Kitchen apparatus" or somesuch, the reasoning behind naming it that, was because it reads the same vertically and horizontally. Fun fact.

Another fun fact, 6 F's today! Lots of F's lately. Getting some respect!


Hungry Mother 11:00 AM  

Anonymity is its own punishment.

Peter P 11:13 AM  

@Roo Monster - Actually, e.e. cumming/E.E. Cummings was fine with his name in caps. He usually signed his name the normal way, as E. E. Cummings.

Note from here:

"Cummings’s name is often styled “e.e. cummings” in the mistaken belief that the poet legally changed his name to lowercase letters only. Cummings used capital letters only irregularly in his verse and did not object when publishers began lowercasing his name, but he himself capitalized his name in his signature and in the title pages of original editions of his books."

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

Calling someone a name is sufficient conversation on a subject?

Big Steve 46 11:24 AM  

IMHO one of the worst puzzles in recent memory. Overloaded with obscure proper names: Spider-Man-2002 and Horse-wit-mixed-hair as side by side 8-letter downers one of the worst. I would think that the richest woman in the world could have paid a little more to have someone write a crossword puzzle for her.

jberg 11:24 AM  

I guess you can say that water "is found in" a river, but it's weird. Oh well, puzzles.

@Gill, the way I always think of it is that Jimmy Carter has been a great EX-president.

I'm in the OK, FINE camp on this one.

Joseph Michael 11:32 AM  

I had MOE CAR for a while, though I did wonder why they would name a freight train part after one of the Three Stooges.

Found this puzzle somewhat challenging overall since there were a number of names I didn't know (hello, ELSA and AMY) and the theme didn’t quite click for much too long due to the fact I thought the first themer was EX FACTOR.

However, I did manage to solve it all in the end and felt a little smarter for having done so, so thanks for that, Melinda and Joel. I also really liked Melinda’s comments about puzzles on Jeff Chen’s site.

Not sure why a black-and-white horse would be called a BLUE ROAN, never heard of ECKERD College, and thought that IKEAS as a plural was a stretch.

Liked the clue for FERRIC and the concept of a BB COMPLEX and was proud of myself for remembering SAM RAIMI even though I never saw “Spider-Man.”

RooMonster 11:42 AM  

@Peter P 11:13
Cool! Thanks for another fun fact!

roomonster. Har.

Ellen S 11:43 AM  

@anonymous 10:07 — I can’t remember the last time I was in a car that had an oil “anything” gauge. Warning lights only. Maybe if I hung out with the Gateses I would see some cars with Oil Pressure gauges or tachometers.
Cuz, funny about rich folks. Over at xwordinfo, Joel Fagliano says, “One final shoutout to Melinda's indispensable aide Beth Giudicessi, who helped immensely with putting this together. Hope solvers enjoy the final product!” WTF? She had JOEL to indispensably put the puzzle together, that’s why they team a “clueless” celebrity with someone who knows how to construct a crossword puzzle.

And even with three of them working on it, they had to stick AAA practically in the middle. Couldn’t that have been clued as “the same letter three times in a row because that’s all that fits in this leftover space”? I do like JMBARRIE but didn’t like his name initialized where the theme was double letter initials.

I did like the irony (FERRIC) clue. And I like @Rex for calling out the constructors and Will on the XX problem. The cars-with-oil gauges crowd seems to have missed the whole transgender bathroom issue. Not only do your chromosomes not totally determine your plumbing, but who you are doesn’t necessarily match either your chromosomes or your plumbing.

Oh - hand up for mOXCAR.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

Such a cute crossword! What TV show does this Melinda Gates celeb person star in?

RLZ 12:06 PM  

I agree with Rex about the puzzle. Celebs were good as solvers in Wordplay, less good as constructors. But that's not why I write.

If you do not know Eckerd, you should. My daughter went there. It has a Southern hippie vibe, faculty who actually know their students names, and not one, but two beaches on campus. It's listed in "40 Colleges that Will Change Your Life." It's about a mile up (down?) a causeway from the wonderfully garish Art Deco pink hotel, the Don Cesar, with an equally wonderful old Florida town about another half mile down the beach at Passe-a-Grille. I visited on a February weekend several years ago and could not believe I had had the bad sense to live my whole life in the Northeast.

Fashionista 12:07 PM  

The bacteria name itself isn’t so bad. It’s what it does to you that’s literally stomach-churning.

Fashionista 12:10 PM  

Can you get a job at a museum or gallery with only a BFA? That’s why I too started with MFA.

old timer 12:12 PM  

A BFA won't get you squat, IMO. You need an MFA for a curator's job at a museum. So I had MFA and had to change it because most freight trains have BOXCARs.

It was on OKFINE puzzle but just barely. I agree with most of OFL's criticisms.

sanfranman59 12:12 PM  

I'm not taking the time right now to read through all of the comments here, so forgive me if this has already been mentioned, but Rex's suggestions for alternate themers don't work. Each of the themers here stands alone when you drop one of the doubled letters ... X-factor, C-section, J Crew, A-line (skirt), B-complex, E-reader.

I thought it was a fun puzzle and a solid theme with the exception of AA LINE (40A). Like Rex, I have no idea how LINE corresponds to the AA steps. I wouldn't be surprised if the original construction had AA List, which at least makes some sense. Also, it doesn't seem to me that E COLI (54A) should be in an answer in a puzzle with this theme.

ECKERD (48D) and BLUE ROAN (12D) stuck out for me in a puzzle that was otherwise pretty straight-forward.

jb129 12:29 PM  

Gotta say, not much fun (I obviously don't over-analyze).

Banana Diaquiri 12:46 PM  

another mFA er. the catch was the word "worker". you can have a BA/S in, say, maths and have a job as a "worker" doing something math-y, like filling in spreadsheets. a BFA might be a gofer for a curator. not much more.

Masked and Anonymous 12:54 PM  

Cool giant "+" sign in the central gridart. Kinda applies to the puztheme mcguffin. Plus-one-letters spell out XCJABE, btw -- good to know, for some reason.

Many great extra fillins in this puppy, such as: OILGAUGE. M&A has a permanent mental block, on how to spell GAUGE. Keep second-guessin if it's GUAGE, every day-um time it pops up. I blame GUARD for this.
Other primo fillins samples: CYCLADES. RADARGUN. SCRIPT. BOXCAR [Did not contemplate MOXCAR]. FIXATE.

staff weejectpack pick: AAA. Clearly doesn't work as a themer, but still gives off a slight theme AAROMA.

In a similar lite, ESCALE maybe comes off as slightly desperate, since the theme machine should automatically convert it to EESCALE = {Skin condition on a circuitry expert??}, or somesuch.

Agree with everybuddy here, that the FERRIC clue is a masterpiece of short-and-sweet-ness. Seems like I just saw its {Irony?} clue in a somewhere-else puz -- sooo … clever puzminds think in similar devious ways.

Thanx for the fun and the guage/gauge workout, MG & JF.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

Normal Norm 1:13 PM  

Keep harping on chromosomes and how only women can be telling the truth and soon all you women (either by birth or by choice) are going to find out that men will be avoiding any contact with you. You are not worth the risk.
If I had money to invest I would go with sex robots as the relationships of the future.

Now I have to prove I am not a robot to Blogger. How ferric.

Teedmn 1:15 PM  

For me, as for many, 1D had moxie before the BOX CAR took its place. And I was FIXATEd on not coming up with a F__ATE word. The clue for XX FACTOR did not help. Nor did my idea that the "Irony?" clue would be associated with pressing clothes, not the FE element. That was a nice aha when I got it.

I can't remember directors and once SAM filled in, I couldn't remember how to spell his last name but Oda MAE and the AALINE rescued me from my original RAIne.

OK FINE has a negative connotation to me - something that's said when angrily ceding an argument, possibly accompanied by a slammed door. The clue, to me, says OK let's or OK sure (which is in the clue, I know). I wonder why an angry person would be more likely to say OK FINE than OK sure? Or maybe that's just me. OK FINE, fer sure, fer sure, she's a valley girl and there is no cure (though I'm not).

Tough for a Wednesday for me, but thanks, Melinda and Joel.

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

Someone please tell me what the Hell Rex is talking about... "I probably would've tried to avoid all double letters altogether in a puzzle like this, especially in the Acrosses, just so the theme can, you know, pop." Huh? Isn't that the theme? What? ? ?

noparking 1:58 PM  

The clue is museum worker, not curator. Maybe with a BFA u can assist the curator. Or be an overqualified security guard.

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

today is a perfect day for testing the "review without knowing the constructor name" concept. I rarely dislike puzzles and didn't really like this one, and for all the reasons that would normally be viciously maligned here.

the kid gloves today likely result from a certain intellectual elite not wanting to be seen as attacking melinda gates (saving criticism for the editor).

Debra 2:13 PM  

I liked it.

Banana Diaquiri 2:20 PM  

@Normal Norm

perhaps you are old enough to have seen t-shirts, at least, emblazoned

"A Woman Needs a Man As Much As a Fish Needs a Bicycle"

how true.

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

A MOXCAR is a tanker car with Mixed Oxide Fuel.
We're both correct!

Shafty 2:29 PM  

Believe Rex means double letters in non-theme entries. The theme entries would “pop” more if there were no other words with double letters in them. It’s a fair comment, I think.

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

Anonymous 2:00

Intellectual elite? Not around these parts. Or Binghamton.
Though I agree, Rex treats distaff constructors with a light touch.

burtonkd 3:00 PM  

Nothing wrong with ESCALE. If a scale or chord is not otherwise indicated, it is understood to be major. A run with 4 sharps could be any of 7 modes, plus any number of more unusual scales, but clue is fine.

XX males are 1:20,000th of the xx population according to Wikipedia. Kudos to people being aware of and sensitive to this and other variants, but does that really rule out an XX or XY clue?

Oil gauge is something I have had in the past. If oil pressure or levels are low, the error will certainly be noted on the dashboard in modern cars.

Amiee 3:06 PM  

@Normal Norm - As a woman, I would gladly contribute to an Go Fund Me campaign for you to buy one of those sex robots for yourself. You'll clearly be happier, I know all of us women will be too.

Anonymous 3:22 PM  

I hope @austinburns, he of twitter via tis blog fame, knows that Bill and Melinda Gtes aren't taxed. Nor is he. Income is taxed, not people. What's more the rates are the same for all people. It's true marginal rates increase as income rise, but only income within the bracket is taxed at the higher rate.
So last year they paid what we all paid for up to $19050 (10%)
And the same as us up to $77,400 (12%), the same as us for $165,000 (22%) etc. The highest marginal rate begins at $600,001 it's 37%.

I have no idea what the Gates's income is. But whatever it is its taxed the same as yours. That your income stops before theirs , well, probably does, doesn't mean "they" should be taxed more than you.

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

Not quite. Oil pressure is what the dash board light is telling you. It's true a low amount of oil COULD trigger the warning but only because it's detecting low pressure. Which is to say, you could have very low oil level but it could be near a pickup/ sensor and the oil light won't go on.
Think of it like a glass with a little bit of liquid. If you put a straw into the last little bit of liquid and suck you'll get the same pressure as you do when you have a full glass. But you're actually at full pressure, despite having near nil volume. Surely you've experienced this with a fountain soda, no?

Pdxrains 3:31 PM  

THANK YOU! ALL what I was thinking too! Horrible/inaccurate clues

Banana Diaquiri 3:32 PM  

18A: Have hot cocoa on a winter day, say (WARM UP) — before or after you BONE UP? (51D: Study, informally)

reminds me of a legendary incident from a local TeeVee station's kids' show. such actually existed in the 50s and 60s before cable and syndicated time filling drivel.

Kid: "how is a woman like a frying pan?"
Ranger Andy: umm, I don't know
Kid: you have to heat them up before you put the meat in

now, I didn't see this, but it was widely believed to have happened. back then, such TeeVee was live, and when Ranger Andy lost it, the screen went black. true or not, it has to be believed.

Blue Stater 4:10 PM  

OFL is right as usual. This was a piece of junk.

Normal Norm 4:26 PM  

I have seen the t-shirts, posters, etc. Silly and clueless.
Now, have you seen the man v woman survival show with Bear Gryllis?

@ Aimee, Thanks for the warning.

Ed C 5:19 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
OffTheGrid 5:33 PM  

I heard this same story ages ago but it was Art Linkletter's program.
Most likely not true and certainly does not have to be believed.

Music Man 5:36 PM  

Surprised Rex didn’t mention those...I was expecting to see it in his write-up.

Rainbow 5:37 PM  

The last few days have shown that there are several commenters on this blog who do not understand male against female sexual violence.

burtonkd 6:12 PM  

Clue never mentioned whether oil gauge measures pressure or level, so moot as far as clue is concerned.
Good explanation of how level/pressure can be independent. Yet this from
Most cars already have an oil pressure gauge built-in to the onboard diagnostic system. If oil levels drop to the point where there’s a serious problem, pressure will drop in kind and a telltale light will alert the driver. Conversely, if oil levels are too high pressure will rise and put strain on rings and gaskets, in addition to posing a fire hazard.

Because oil level is most important in terms of too much/not enough, the pressure sensors most drivers are already familiar with make more sense than a more precise level sensor.

victim 6:15 PM  

You are disgusting!

Unknown 6:18 PM  

Quite certain that folks at Eckerd have never heard of SUNY Binghamton.

Unknown 6:24 PM  

Also, the double initials work as things without the first initial. Anyone make sense of Lcool or csabathia or hmunro?

Anonymous 7:35 PM  

Youre correct on all counts. My point was only that so called oil gauges are very different than the other gauges on dashboards. All the others measure amount; the oil gauge measures an amount of someting other than its eponym.
Its a curiosity, a tidbit, something I thought our august company might enjoy knowing.
Thanks for explaining the importance of oil in an internal combustion engine by the way. Much appreciated!

Music Man 10:02 PM  

Thanks - any puzzle with 6 music clues/references is ok in my book!

Banana Diaquiri 10:44 PM  

ya know, I think OFL didn't get it, re-reading his writeup and these comments. the gimmick is that the "extra" letter refers to the ?, while the base answer (one leading letter) is a real word having nothing to do with it, e.g. AALINE is AA 12 steps, but ALINE is a dress or a NYC subway.

Sian 11:46 PM  

Great start, with JM Barrie and Jabs and BB King giving me the theme from the get-go. Then slowing to my usual plodding pace. Overall I really enjoyed this puzzle. Satisfying to finish, and some great clues. I don't understand why some people thought the theme needed to be more than it was. Perfect after dinner entertainment for a chilly San Diego evening.

Pete 12:36 AM  

@Banana Go back and read Rex, specifically where he explicitly wrote "Theme:...". Then tell us how he didn't get the theme.

Banana Diaquiri 8:08 AM  

Then tell us how he didn't get the theme.

I don't think so. he complains about the theme, but he never says, "I don't get it". his complaints make it clear that he doesn't get it because he's trying to make sense of them in a way that's got nothing to do with the actual structure. he says things like:
" Why not AA TEAM or AA LIST—AA LINE is just bizarre. I mean, calling "any one of the 12 steps" a "line" is bizarre."

the problem, of course, is that there's a typo in the clue 'steps' should be 'stops'. but the same is true of the rest explains: he doesn't get that the double letters alone are unrelated to single letter + rest, except through the ?

try this one: XXFACTOR
XX is girl
XFACTOR is a UK talent show with 'parts' played by contestants

and so on

Anonymous 10:38 PM  

Worst-post-of-the-day: @Nancy's 10:08 reference to "GOP", with a worst-possible-assist-post by JC66. (I immediately thought, et tu, Nancy? I mean, you're old enough to remember Teddy Kennedy and the Chappaquiddick incident.) Everyone is familiar with the Bill Clinton incidents (plural), and how the Clinton's conspired to cover it up by ruining the lives of all the female victims. Well, maybe that isn't true for leftist activists. They seem to be too myopic to be interested in equal rights/equal measures across party lines. I didn't realize this level of hypocrisy was even possible.

I bid you adieu, and good luck at those Pearly Gates!

p.s. Is "Banana Diaquiri" [SIC] that odd Barany chap, by chance?

Kelly 1:53 PM  

Most people I know who work in museums have an MMS... just sayin'.

spacecraft 10:18 AM  

If the clue for BRIDGE is true, then shame on the NYT for stopping it. Shame on them anyway for allowing this piece of crappola to appear. Melanie, sweetie, stick to philanthropy, and leave puzzle constructing to the pros. Hard to believe that a pro helped out here. I can't list ALL of what's awful here; this is FAR OFF from par: "other."

thefogman 11:18 AM  

I agree with Rex. The theme didn't have enough punch to make it worthwhile. I finished in about average time with a couple of erasures. OKFINE. It wasn't horrible, just lacking a little something extra to elevate it to the next level.

Burma Shave 12:30 PM  

(ALL commas are missing)


LORDE so STERNA gal ain’t ALL grown UP
she’s a FIERCE DEVIL don’t blame ME


rondo 12:46 PM  


LORDE not clued as the singer.

And I warned the constructors, next time “haha” comes up it will be EX-Packer Clinton-Dix.

All I have circled is yeah Baby Baby AMY Grant.

This ORDEAL SEAMed kind OFF.

rainforest 2:06 PM  

This was a decent puzzle I thought, although the inclusion of ECOLI and ESCALE kind of messed up the theme. I actually went looking for a revealer - maybe "double up" as the answer (ride two on a bike?). But the number of themers made that impossible, I think.

In my opinion, the themers used were excellent. Liked the long downs as well.

I found this somewhat more challenging than did many others, but I *can* be obtuse.

Found this kinda fun.

Thursday googler 2:21 PM  


Diana, LIW 4:44 PM  

Due to the cute "double" or nothing theme, it seemed more like a Thursday. At least to me.

Enjoyable. This week seems a tad more difficult than most. Probably user errors.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 4:50 PM  

Hard to like this one. Thought at first it might be a rebus, which I generally find more likable.

The XXFACTOR was confusing, and knew CREW but not the JJ "Star Trek" director. Wondered if the A in AALINE referred to by-gone style of womens' dresses. Dutifully but reluctantly put them all in anyway.

Didn't OILGAUGES on a car's dashboard go out of style some time ago? (Still want to spell it GUAGE.) And is the EPA still considered a "Green-minded org." in the age of Trump?(Never mind.)

Thought the long downs in the NE and SW were pretty good.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP