Headwear in Prince hit / THU 10-11-18 / Annual event to support breast cancer awareness / Car named after automotive competition

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Constructor: Johanna Fenimore and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy (4:27)

THEME: NO BRA DAY (61A: Annual event to support breast cancer awareness ... or a hint to answering 16-, 22-, 24-, 35-, 53- and 55-Across) — theme answers have letter string "BRA" in them, which you must remove for the answer to make any sense vis-a-vis the clue:

Theme answers:
  • BRAIDING (16A: Picking out of a lineup, e.g.)
  • LAB RATS (22A: Upper body muscles, for short)
  • BRAVERY (24A: Extremely)
  • LEFT BRAIN (35A: Didn't delete)
  • VIBRATO (53A: First name in "The Godfather")
  • BRAKING (55A: Chess piece)
Word of the Day: CINERAMA (7D: Precursor to IMAX) —
Cinerama is a widescreen process that originally projected images simultaneously from three synchronized 35 mm projectors onto a huge, deeply curved screen, subtending 146° of arc. The trademarked process was marketed by the Cinerama corporation. It was the first of a number of novel processes introduced during the 1950s, when the movie industry was reacting to competition from television. Cinerama was presented to the public as a theatrical event, with reserved seating and printed programs, and audience members often dressed in their best attire for the evening. [...] The word "Cinerama" combines cinema with panorama, the origin of all the "-orama" neologisms (the word "panorama" comes from the Greek words "pan", meaning all, and "orama", which translates into that which is seen, a sight, or a spectacle). It has been suggested that Cineramacould have been an intentional anagram of the word American; but an online posting by Dick Babish, describing the meeting at which it was named, says that this is "purely accidental, however delightful."
• • •

Where to start? First, what is ... this? Is this "day" really a well-known thing? I've never heard of it until just now. Looking it up online, it does appear to be real—so I'll give it that—but it also appears to date from 2011 (!) and also to have been spun off of (!?) BRA Day, which was a Breast Reconstruction Awareness day started by a plastic surgeon. Wikipedia notes: "The day is controversial as some see it as sexualizing and exploiting women's bodies while at the same time belittling a serious disease." Also, well, here's my other favorite tidbit from the wikipedia entry on this alleged "day":

I don't think this "day" is sufficiently well known to be a viable theme answer. It's Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I am all in favor of drawing attention to that in crossword form, but this cutesy use of a not-famous "day" feels a little off. Also off—the date. I mean, if you're going to use a "day" as the basis for your puzzle theme, maybe run the puzzle on the actual day. NO BRA DAY is, technically, Saturday (Oct. 13). Lastly, I get that you have to take the BRAs out to make the clues make sense, but visually it just looks like you've put a bunch of bras *in* to your puzzle. So it's more SIX BRAS DAY than NO BRA DAY.

[15% of respondents are serious "The Good Place" fans]

LAB crossing LAB? NO, DOG(S). No. Just no. I mean, you cross a couple of "UP"s, something small like that, no one's really gonna care. But you can't cross LAB with LAB. They aren't even different meanings of the word LAB, really. I get that the *actual* "no-bra" answer doesn't have LAB in it, but the grid does, so ... no. LABRATS was interesting, though, as it was the answer that tipped me to the theme (I already had BRAIDING but didn't really get it), and the clue sent me into some weird wrong-answer territory. I had LABRUMS in there at one point. Are those muscles? No, it's cartilage. Well ... it was anatomical, anyway, so I'm gonna give my wrong answer partial credit. The hardest part of this puzzle for me was, weirdly, IROC (47A: Car named after an automotive competition). I had the "I" and then the "O" and thought "I know four-letter car names, what the hell?!" Ugh. IROC. Do they even make those any more? Also, how in the world is that clue supposed to be useful??? There's nothing helpful about it, nothing competition-y about its name. Nothing. Bizarre clue choice. The fill on this one is clean enough. No serious complaints. And it's nice to crush an easy puzzle every once in a while. But the theme just came up short on multiple levels.

Five things:
  • 26A: Pulitzer Prize winner for "A Death in the Family" (AGEE) — ok maybe I spoke too soon about fill quality, as the grid is a bit heavy on the crosswordese, at least up top. Near AGEE is ISM and ELIA (which, like yesterday's BRAE, has been largely absent from grids for a while). Crosswordese makes me solving life easier, as I am, uh, fairly fluent, but it's not particularly enjoyable.
  • 42A: One choice in a party game (DARE) — first thought: SKINS. Weird.
  • 18A: Sign at some beaches (NO DOGS) — booooooooo! Beach near my parents' home is very dog-friendly and if you've ever seen a dog on a beach, you'd never deprive a dog of a beach again. It's basically like dog heaven.
  • 44D: She helped Theseus navigate the Labyrinth (ARIADNE) — ... and then he promptly ditched her on some island. Ovid has all the juicy deets on these jackass womanizing heroes. Oh, and you'll want to confuse her with ARACHNE. Don't.
  • 2D: Scale awkwardly, with "up" (CLAMBER) — Not sure why, but I find this word adorable. This may be my favorite thing in the grid.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 1:00 AM  

IROC is an acronym for International Race of Champions, so the clue helped me tremendously

puzzlehoarder 1:09 AM  

My willful ignorance of themes out does itself sometimes and this is a perfect example. I filled in the reveal as I was getting ready to mop up (after much puzzling) and didn't really pay attention to all the numbers. Even with a clean grid I didn't realize that 53A was just VITO. The lightbulb eventually went off.

Even after reading that reveal I found it counter intuitive that the BRAS were not coming out but rather staying in and you just ignore them. With the debut clued IROC on top of VIBRATO this was a slow section. Everything involving the theme was.

ETS was a mystery inspite of the crosses confirming it. I've only noted this definition ONCE before. Dry as dust once you know it.

For 13D, I was thinking DNA then CSI before FBI. It didn't help that I initially confused Quantico with Gitmo and tried to think of something military.

A Saturday's worth of puzzling on a Thursday. Not a bad deal even if it was mostly self generated

jae 1:29 AM  

Easy-medium. I sorta got the theme before I hit the reveal so it went pretty smoothly.

Clean grid, PSA theme, liked it.

@puzhoarder - ETS = Educational Testing Sevice generator of the SATs.

Dolgo 1:47 AM  


Okay. I finally figured out the Thursday gimmick after getting NO BRA DAY. Not because I ever heard of it, buy just assuming it was as dumb as the rest of the puzzle.

I know I'm older than most of you when CINERAMA is the word of the day. I certainly vividly remember viewing all those prodigious flicks when I was a kid. They were pretty hokey--with the all-too-visible breaks between the cameras and the obvious drop-off.on one end or other unless you sat in the exact center of the theater. By the time I saw the last one, "The Song of Norway," they had ironed out most of the flaws. But it was too late. The aidiences had gotten tired of cutsey technology with very little substance. Cinemascope, it turned out, had gone far enough.

JOHN X 1:47 AM  

Well this puzzle happened. Pretty easy I guess. Jesus.

JMS 1:55 AM  

No bra day? No, never heard of it related to breast cancer awareness, and I was too young for the 60s connotation.

And totally agree with the "no dogs" comment. I chafed at that clue/answer.

Anonymous 1:57 AM  

I tried to explain the theme to my son (an adult), who should have explained it to me: He said, "So let me see, you take [the band] Bratmobile and remove BRA, and you've got TMobile?"

Larry Gilstrap 2:35 AM  

Look at the time! This took a while to solve with that whole Thursday trepidation what to expect thing. So we are going BRA-less to raise recognition of breast cancer? I, like OFL, had not heard of NO BRA DAY, which for me personally, is pretty much everyday.

The theme was very CLEVER, I mean we have two things that make sense, but only one is clued. The gambit baffled me until the squares began to fill.

Essayist Lamb comes out of exile as ELIA pops up after a long absence.

The Beatles' "Help!" had a B SIDE, that's what folks called it when they bought singles on 45 rpm vinyl.

On the West Coast, EL NINO predictions would send people scurrying to prepare for excess rainfall. Now, does anybody really know what's going on with weather predictions based upon established models?

chefwen 2:42 AM  

Every day is a NO BRA DAY here unless I’m going out or having guests in, then I begrudgingly put one of those God awful harnesses on. Ugh!

Don’t think I ever heard of NO BRA DAY, it I had it didn’t stick with me so I was thinking walk or march, the lightbulb finally clicked on and the rest of those crazy answers finally made some sense.

Good one JOHO, we miss you here.

Harryp 3:36 AM  

Not that easy for me, but stumbled into the solve somehow. My last fill was EMBED instead of iMBED, which I had changed earlier to accommodate SHiRA for 27Across. Don't know why, just happy to finish.

Loren Muse Smith 4:34 AM  

Our own @Joho! If you miss her insightful comments, she’s over at Wordplay now.

NO BRA DAY is vaguely familiar, but even if it weren’t, no biggie. It’s the perfect reveal.

My mo is to avoid looking at the reveal for as long as I can, see if I can get it without that hint. Today – nope. But when I saw it, I whooped. This kind of trick is right up my alley, and I got a kick out of removing all the bras.

I had VIBRATO early on and bit hard, marveling that that is an Italian name for a guy and that I had forgotten about his character. Being had like that, really, was almost worth the price of admission.

I see the point about the presence of BRA in the grid, but c’mon – just look at it backwards: in order to understand, take it out. It’s in the spirit of that scathing childhood riposte, Today’s opposite day ha ha.

[Speaking of ripostes, living up to my ramblin’ man rep, I have to share the mother of all ripostes I discovered recently -
Person A: I’m not as dumb as I look.
Riposter: (Pauses, looks Person A over) Oh. You couldn’t possibly be that dumb.]

JOB HUNT. I went straight to aarp senior and was considering “key” HUNT.

This theme is timely because our dress code is really being challenged this year. I was walking past the principal’s office a couple of weeks ago and overheard Resident Mean Girl A. Bailey snarling I don’t have to wear a bra and you can’t make me. I didn’t hear the principal’s response. I was just happy not to be a principal. A few days later, I passed AB in the hall, braless again, but I said nothing ‘cause she scares the bejeezus out of me. I just wondered how she could be so cold when I was burning up.

Johanna, Jeff – terrific, tricky Thursday puzzle. I loved going around avoiding the boobytraps.

Cmdr. Crankypants 5:43 AM  

Anastasia Doughnuts anagrams to USA hunts toads again. Seeing that was more fun than the puzzle.

Lewis 6:25 AM  

Johanna's comments (On WordPlay and previously here) always have a witty bit that makes me think, "Dang, I wish I thought of that." That wit is evident in the perfectly-pitched vague clues as well as the playful ones.

I clambered through this until the sweet rush of getting the clever theme, and then it was a jaunt to the finish, which is a template for a terrific solving journey, and this one was spiced up with yummy resistance and a pair of especially lovely answers (CLAMBERED, BRISTLE).

Both Johanna and Jeff -- the J-Crew? -- the former, who I sporadically communicate with, and the latter, who is always so quick and helpful in response to questions and requests of mine, are kind, giving, and nourishing souls, so this collaboration, in addition to giving me an entertaining solve, also warmed my heart.

Anonymous 7:12 AM  

International Race of Champions was a North American auto racing competition, created by Les Richter, Roger Penske and Mike Phelps, promoted as an equivalent of an American All-Star Game or The Masters. Despite its name, the IROC was primarily associated with North American oval-racing culture.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

I don’t like to be a GGART, but I only had to use about half my IN cells to solve this puzzle. Really only had to RECALITE once, (at cumulO before ELNINO).
So, VO to me and I’m off to CELETE.

More seriously, I liked the theme but was a little surprised that with Mr. Chen involved we got stuck with the likes of CCS, QBS, ETS, DEA, AER and IROC

L. Wittgenstein 7:49 AM  

What if...

---the Pulitzer Prize committee had agreed with the National Book Foundation in awarding John Cheever's "The Wapshot Chronicle" its top honor for fiction in 1958?

---a shy young boy growing up in Parry Sound, Ontario, in the 1950's and early 1960's eschewed ice hockey in favor of chess?

---if Jonas Salk had chosen to use his great gifts to develop a vaccine to eradicate that scourge of adolescence, the dreaded pimple?

...if John Lennon had remained faithful to Cynthia?

...if William Powell and Myrna Loy had never made movie together... or, at least, one with a dog?

Would the crossword puzzle as we now know it have survived? Would it even be recognizable? Or would it have taken on a whole other form and shape? Would it even exist?

These are the questions that keep me awake at night.

Hungry Mother 7:58 AM  

Hard, then easy when I saw the light. Very CLEVER theme, nicely done.

QuasiMojo 8:01 AM  

Well down here where I live everyday appears to be No Bra Day. And no reduction in sight. Perhaps they don’t make brassieres large enough for the present population. Or is there a shortage of elastic? The guys are no better! Retired sumo wrestlers in golf carts.

My “wrong answer territory” was that clue for the shower sponge. I thought Loofa was spelled with an U so I had loufa which then led to NUDIST for the beach sign. Plenty of those around here too alas. I stumbled into one by accident once in Lucerne of all places. A bit chilly for lounging au naturel, I thought. But no, dozens of Swiss baring it all lakeside. Even the dogs refrained from wearing leashes.

Never heard of IROC. And IMAX is nothing like Cinerama. @Dolgo, I recently watched “Song of Norway,” which lives up to its reputation as the worst movie musical ever made. Astonishingly bad. Pauline Kael said it was so awful that it seemed to have been made by trolls. She added however that to criticize it was the equivalent of “tripping a dwarf.”

Theseus may have been a cad, Rex, but his behavior gave us “Ariadne auf Naxos” one of the best operas ever.

amyyanni 8:09 AM  

Loving the Bratmobile to T-Mobile comment, anonymous. Jeff Cohen's puzzles are favorites of mine. Part of my 'wheelhouse' must intersect his. Always appreciate a Prince clue, too. -15 yr BC survivor here.

GHarris 8:18 AM  

Fun puzzle with just the right amount of challenge for a Thursday. Found Rex’s critique totally weird.Put in Ets but have no idea what it,eans.

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

Some beaches near me allow dogs and some don’t. It’s nice to have that choice.

Passing Shot 8:25 AM  

Didn’t we have NO BRA DAY in another recent puzzle? That’s the only reason I was able to figure out what was going on; prior to that, I had never heard if it. I’m with @chefwen 2:42 — unless I’m going out and it’s too warm for a baggy sweater, it’s going to be a NO BRA DAY.

Mordechai 8:36 AM  

I found the LIV/VIBRATO crossing troublesome. Had LI and IBRAT and had not yet realized the theme so I was racking my brain - LIV, LIZ, LIB, LIL. Nothing helped.

Ginny 8:46 AM  

Rex, you have heard of No Bra Day- the last time Jeff Chen used it in a puzzle, which was last month on September 6.

mmorgan 8:58 AM  

Mostly very easy but the entire SW was a mystery, even when -- eventually -- I had it correctly filled in. IROC? I was also confused because I forgot to take the BRA out of VIBRATO for it to make sense.

I successfully predicted Rex's take on the theme. Yay!

I loved CINERAMA, especially that opening roller coaster sequence. Wow!

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

'No Bra Day' is not a thing.

But NYTIMES puzzle fixation on terms such as bra, Acup, Bcup, Ccup, Dcup, Loni Anderson & Jayne Mansfield makes it pretty clear there is an perpetually adolescent male doing the editing.

So today we saw the word bra 6 times. Snicker snicker.

When's the jock strap puzzle coming out? Theme answer: banana hammock, etc
What - mentioning men's underwear isn't funny?

Suzie Q 9:26 AM  

Like @LMS and probably lots of other folks I avoid the revealer until the end but today I had to change my MO before anything made sense.
Still, it wasn't that clever or fun esp. when the theme revolves around a serious, usually fatal, disease. I don't need that sort of serious bummer with my coffee. Congrats to all you survivors out there but I don't need a reminder of the fate of all the others.

That No Dogs sign is sure to generate lots of objections from this dog-loving crowd, myself included. I can't help but grin thinking of my happy dogs digging in the soft damp sand with nothing but a rear end and wagging tail visible.
Speaking of beaches, doesn't ebb out seem like an oxymoron?

Nancy 9:32 AM  

[BRA]VERY CLEVER and lots and lots of fun! I almost never jump to the revealer, and I didn't today, either, so that when it became obvious that there was no way to avoid LAB RATS and LEFT BRAIN, I was truly baffled. Real phrases that didn't fit the clues. What on earth would the revealer be??? And the revealer was great.

What makes the puzzle so good is that when you remove the BRA, you have a real word or phrase, and a pretty interesting one at that. My one query:

I have seen hundreds and hundreds of breast cancer awareness marchers in Central Park over the years and was not aware that many, if any, were going BRAless. (Maybe I would have noticed if I were a guy?) Or maybe they just weren't BRAless. I thought that a NO BRA DAY was a 1970s Feminist invention done just for the hell of it and to upset traditionalists. I might have clued the revealer differently. But all in all a terrific puzzle!

Suzie Q 9:43 AM  

Oh dear. I'm the moron, oxy- or any other kind.
I meant ebb out seems redundant.

pabloinnh 9:43 AM  

I used my familiar method of going over and down and over and down with obvious answers, wound up in the SE corner where NOBRADAY became apparent, realized the gimmick, saw which other clues it applied to, and all was made clear. Sometimes getting the revealer in early is an enormous help. I really don't mind spatterings of crosswordese in these things, because it's a, you know, crossword puzzle.

Hi @LMS-boy, do I remember discussions about dress codes. Even in a very liberal school, some folks were, uh, disturbed by what was being worn. My problem as a male teacher was possibly having to suggest to a young lady that her fashion statement for that day was a little too exciting. Also some students were apparently wearing one thing out the door and changing before classes started. There are parts of that job that I definitely do not miss.

Sir Hillary 9:45 AM  

Very nice puzzle. Took me a long time to figure out what was going on, and putting rOcK at 13A certainly didn't help. I finally sussed the theme with VIBRATO, and from there it was pretty smooth sailing.

High marks for the theme itself, the theme answers, the non-BRA "Bee Are" TRIO (BRER, BRIBES, BRISTLE), CINERAMA FASTFOOD (popcorn?) and CORSAGE VIOLETS.

Dings for the FBILAB/LABRATS crossing, SIDEB (isn't it B-side?) and the green-paintish beach TRIO (NODOGS, EBBOUT, SANDART).

Finally, I am totally lost at how Letters for college applicants are ETS. I'm sure I'll do the forehead slap when it comes to me, but I don't think it will without some help, so...help?

GILL I. 9:47 AM  

This was very CLEVER and to have the theme mean something made it even more so.
I'm not sure where it was that I figured out the conceit . I was bouncing all over the place. I think it might have been at VI[BRA]TO. Still, I wasn't 100% because his name could have been Vitorrio or some such. [BRA]VERY - yeah, that's the NO BRA. I'm not sure I've heard of a NO BRA DAY; I'm more familiar with Breast Cancer Awareness Month but It's definitely a movement for both women and men.
Yes....BOO on NO DOGS. I don't think I've ever seen that sign on any beach in California. Guv. Moonbeam believes in equal rights for the 4 legged ilks. I remember when we took Curly and Moe to the beach for the first time. Curly smelled something far away and took off like a bat out of hell. She was jumping up and down and frolicking all over this blob on the beach. Turned out to be a very dead and very smelly seal. Tomato juice doesn't work.
Hey, I just noticed EL NINO sitting on top of WETTED. I'd try to weave a story here but I'd fail. @joho was one of the first (if not the first) to take just about every clue answer from a puzzle and make up the funniest story I had ever read on this blog. I still remember it involving this dude in a saloon. He wore and jangled his spurs and had a mighty fine sombrero.... ;-). COME BACK...We miss you!
I don't think there is anybody around that doesn't know someone who has had or has breast cancer. I liked that Johanna and Jeff made a great Thursday puzzle commemorating this day. I'm going to my closet and pick out something pink to wear.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

@Anon 9:24,
All that vitriol and underwear talk. No need to get your panties in a twist, just `cause you don't know something. Because I assure, No Bra Day is a thing. A red letter day in this survivor's house.

Ruth 10:20 AM  

Educational Testing Service, I assume

RooMonster 10:29 AM  

Hey All !
NO BRA DAY. Hubba-Hubba. (JK, don't # me)

Have heard of this, even before, as @Ginny 8:46 pointed out, the other recent puz it was in. That's like saying you haven't heard of No-Shave November. You've heard of that, right?

Puz was interesting, only I think kinda backwards. Revealer says NO, but the BRAs are in, not out. Clue does clarify a bit, though still seems a tad off to me. Did figure it out when I only had the R left in CINERAMA/BRAVERY, and having LEFTBRA__, and thinking, "If the BRAs are removed... Oh, I get it! NO BRAs." Talk about BRAIDING the LEFT BRAIN.

NW caused me a DNF. For FoLK, had rOcK, then FunK. Couldn't see CCS at all, so one of those days that I just filled in letters to finish! Checked where my wrongness was, and was able to change it to CCS, and AbiE to AGEE.

So a sort of CLEVER puz. Had some CRAGs, but it earns a LET.


Anonymous 10:31 AM  

Also adorable, a CLuMBER spaniel named IROCky


Amelia 10:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph Michael 10:35 AM  

I figured out the theme early on with BRAVERY and that helped me nail the other themers. An enjoyable solve overall.

But the theme doesn’t hold up, so to speak, since iit seems like we’re putting BRAS on rather than taking them off.

Rainbow 10:44 AM  

I think EBBOUT is more of a redundancy than an oxymoron.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Shouldn’t we be taking off BRAs instead of adding them everywhere? I mean yes you can argue that the clues make sense if you remove the BRAs from the answers but as you’re solving you are literally PUTTING BRAS ON. Why even put them on in the first place? Okay now I’m over it. Have a nice day. 😀

jberg 10:59 AM  

An obscure theme, the wrong day, so it's not perfect -- but fun to solve, especially if you remember CINERAMA. And old movies are all on the Internet, so it doesn't make any difference when they were made (though I'll admit that Cinerama on the small screen would be kind of pointless.)

EIS was lame, though, if that's really all it means. No one cares about its letters the way they care about the letters of its products, such as the SAT.

@Loren and others -- I never look for the revealer, but I never thought of avoiding. Good idea, I'll try it next time. I don't think it would have worked for me with this one.

Am I the only one to have rOcK before FOLK?

Speaking of breast cancer, our dog Allegra's pathology report came back clean -- and she gets her stitches taken out today, so she won't have to wear the surgical suit and will be able to go upstairs with us at night. It has been heartbreaking to make her sleep in the kitchen instead of in our second floor bedroom; but worth it, for her recovery.

Masked and Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Hey, the theme seems to mean a lot to the gal who co-wrote the puz [see her comment at xwordinfo.chen], so I'll go along happily with her on that. My luvly spouse is a breast cancer survivor, btw. This sure was a tricky solvequest, at my house. Nice little challenge, for a ThursPuz.

For those who care, this puz may not have gone BRA-less, but it did go BRAE-less. Had a near-scare, with BRER, tho.

@RP: yep. CLAMBER is a mighty fine word. Also enjoyed CINERAMA with some FASTFOOD. And my luvly spouse really enjoyed the QUILTS.

staff weeject pick: AER. Has been used about a jillion times, but does not yet have the coveted Patrick Berry Usage Immunity. Clue really needs to freshen itself up a bit, and lose the Lingus. How'bout …
{One acing all their exams??} = AER.

Thanx for the brafun challenge, Fenimore & Chen.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

Glad the path came back clean. Hope Allegra is her old self soon.
What's better than heading upstairs with your dog to hit the hay? Glad you'll have that joy back.

Banana Diaquiri 11:41 AM  

IROC, was a retail version of the Camaro. the original IROC NASCAR cars (prepared by one team) were "identical" camaros (mostly) run in a few races by a few drivers as a sort of match race. what with the increasing restrictions on engine building, in particular, these days there's nearly no difference among the various labelled manufacturers any more. IROC across the board. and the rightwingnuts wonder why NASCAR and such is dying?? there's no point in being a Ford or Chevy guy. were you around when Toyota invaded?? the rednecks weren't happy. NASCAR intended to personalize the sport through the drivers (rather than the "better engineered" cars), and even they've turned into 1% milk.

the more common dog heaven is a car window at 40 mph.

Linda Newman 11:42 AM  

Ets= educational testing service= Sats, etc.

Chip Hilton 11:59 AM  

I really liked the “I’m Down” and “Help!” clue. Took me a long time to get the Fab Four connection.

@L. Wittgenstein - Don’t forget that New York Giants slugger from Polo Grounds days.

jb129 12:39 PM  

Hey constructors - what are you going to do for prostate awareness month?

PJ 12:42 PM  

The beach i live on has a ton of sand fleas. There is a part of it that volunteers clean of seaweed dedicated for dogs. This is why (at least some) beaches have no dogs signs.

Carola 12:45 PM  

@joho, it was so nice to see your name at the top of the puzzle - wish you were still here, too!

I'm usually in the avoid-looking-at-the-reveal group, as I enjoy trying to figure out the theme on my own. But today, after having no idea of how to squeeze in "identifyING" on the left or understand why BRAVERY meant "extremely" on the right, I headed right down for 61A. Then the enjoyment came from seeing how many of the remaining theme answers I could get with as as few crosses as possible. I "helped" myself by first writing in BRA as the first three letters in all of them, so I did have a sort of reveal in realizing that the BRA could move around. Favorites were VIBRATO, LAB RATS, LEFT BRAIN.

Pam Fletcher 12:56 PM  

He's baaack - grumpy pants

Masked and Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Say what U will about the puz's overall fill quality, but M&A commends it bigtime, for keepin the pop-culture name usages within reason. All I recall havin to cope with was the mysterious SHERA.

Pop-culture names are startin to have the effect of becomin mostly obscure puz entries, IMA&O. Maybe that's becuz there is so many cultural outlets for actors/actresses/toons anymore, that no one can afford [money-wise or lifetime-wise] to take it all in. 300+ cable channels. HBO. SHOWTIME. Netflix. Hulu. Amazon. CBSN. etc. on end. And don't get m&e started, on Bravo.

Too much stuff. If U know it all, how on earth do U have time left over to work a crossword? Scares the M&A. Can barely remember all the Andy Griffith Show characters/actors, anymore.

But, I digress again.


L. Wittgenstein 1:07 PM  

@ Chip Hilton (11:59). Thanks!!! I ought not have forgotten him.

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

I was out to sea in the aegeAN in the NE for a while and momentarily had Tom rather than TED working with the MTM crowd but otherwise this went pretty smoothly if slowly.

NO BRA DAY seems vaguely familiar as a breast cancer awareness event but I couldn't have told you what day it was. I think I've probably only worn a bra twice since the mid-80s and good riddance. I'm lucky so far to have no close friends or relatives who have had breast cancer but I know many people who aren't that lucky.

I really liked the clue for QUILTS. But for 11D, I was expecting something more informal than EAGER TO for the clue "Enthusiastically gonna". I understand they needed to avoid "to" in the clue so it couldn't be "going to" but it seems it could have been restated. A minor nit for me.

Nice job, Johanna and Jeff.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

Vibrato? What sort of Mafia name is that? Like Soprano?
Oh, then the theme light bulb came on above my head.
Move over She Ra.
Around here I am the Princess of Power but real, not animated.

joho 1:30 PM  

Ha ha, Rex didn't disappoint!

Hello to my dear friends here and thanks to all of you who expressed your enjoyment of our puzzle.

I learned about NO BRA DAY recently and thought it would be a great reveal for a puzzle as well as a great vehicle to help bring awareness to this month's important cause.

It's nice to learn new things. It's also nice to be back here among you, as brief as it is!

Take care, everybody!

Anoa Bob 1:39 PM  

Was I the only one who saw the 41D clue "Activity for many seniors" and immediately thought of DROOLING? But with too many letters for that slot, I wiped off my chin and moved on.

The Viet Nam war played out on television every single night, usually with an us-vs-them body count for the day. The journalist and war correspondents had free range and their constant reporting was one of the reasons why there was so much public outcry about and demonstrations against the war.

Things have changed now that we are in the era of perpetual war. They EMBED the reporters inside combat units and we never hear from them again. Out of sight, out of mind.

Yo Ludwig @7:49, looks like the fly has once again become trapped in the bottle and is buzzing, buzzing, buzzing around making a furious but meaningless sound.

GILL I. 1:49 PM  

@joho....Rex liked CLAMBER... Yay! 1 out of 76 ain't so bad.... ;-)

L. Wittgenstein 1:58 PM  

@Anoa Bob: (1:39); Yes, exactly. But I do wish there were someone to show that fly the way out.....

chefwen 2:01 PM  

@joho, I’ll say it again, we miss you.

@jberg, Great news on Allegra.

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

You always manage to get it ever so slightly wrong. The original car used for the IROC series was the terrific Porsche Carrera RSR. (I;m actually a stone's throw a way from where Mark Donahue was born)
It's true the series has used Camaros plenty of times. But they've also used Trans Ams, Dodge Daytonas,and Avengers.
As for NASCAR affiliation, well... the cars were sometimes set up by people within the NASCAR ambit, but there was no NASCAR sanction or imprimatur. Of course the series devolved badly and NASCAR drivers eventually dominated. A true pity, because as conceived and originally run, the series was excellent. At least when guys like Hulme, Revson, Follmer and the like were at the wheel.

Z 2:39 PM  

I got to the puzzle late because, well, Life. Was not in a particularly good mood (power outage, Tropical Storm and Flood warnings, dogs getting a little cabin feverish, Condo Association arguments over $) so was very pleased to have this ray of sunshine brighten my day. Got about halfway through wondering what the theme answers had to do with the theme clues before the I pulled on the chain and the light bulb went on. Hand up for every day being NO BRA DAY here.

I think the theme works fine conceptually. Here are all these real words wearing a BRA, and you take the BRA off on NO BRA DAY to get the clue answer. Yeah, Yeah, titilation. If a little titilation bothers you get thee to the nunnery. I’m reading Sex and the Constitution, with its reminders of just how much Augustine, Aquinas, and the Puritans warped society. Anyway, I appreciate the “I’m beautiful the way I am” sentiment behind the day.

Chen obviously does not lose sleep over the language like @L. Wittgenstein. I do feel as if he should. However nice he is as a person, his willingness to let ese slide keeps puzzles he does and puzzles he collaborates on from being truly great. Ese happens, and sometimes it is the clue needed to hold a puzzle theme together. Too often, though, it seems like there is just a wee bit too much glue showing.

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

Augustine and Aquinas-two doctors of the Church, two of the most brilliant minds in history- warped society? You're nuts.

Cynthia Nixon 3:36 PM  

@Z - I didn't know Candace Bushnell had a new book out - any good? Are the main characters such that we could get the gang back together and maybe do a movie based on it? I seem to have some free time available for, oh, the next four years or so!

Anonymous 4:07 PM  

One more time:

The BRA is removed from the entry to make the answer fit the clue. Why is that not clear?

For example, 35A Didn't delete/LEFTBRAIN--nonsense, so remove BRA to leave LEFT IN. Get it?

Larry Levinson 5:48 PM  

Central NJ always gets ETS. And IROC too, but that's from mu Michigan days.

Banana Diaquiri 6:59 PM  

The original car used for the IROC series was the terrific Porsche Carrera RSR.

I never said that the Camaro was first, only "most". and it was. and they were run on NASCAR tracks. yes, there were non-NASCAR drivers invited in at first, but for most of the years it was a NASCAR event. you can find all the details in the wiki. which I had to reference, since I was young and foolish at the time and I felt it worthwhile to check my memory. FWIW, the IROC was officially a mod to the Camaro Z28, and officially monikered as IROC-Z, but nobody bothered with the Z.

Anonymous 8:26 PM  

Please, someone or anyone, enlighten me, b/c I absolutely do NOT get "result of imperfect service" being LET. Have cudgeled what's left of my brain, and still cannot figure this out.

Z 9:40 PM  

@Anon8:26 - LET is a tennis term. When a “serve” hits the net but still lands appropriately the Umpire will call “LET” and the server gets a do-over. This is different from a “fault” or a “double fault,” where the ball lands outside the service zone (which probably has a name I’m not recalling).

@Anon3:01 - Let me suggest that you start with the book I referenced. Be sure to then check the author’s citations. Then get back to us on the difference between “influential” and “brilliant.” You might also want to do a little research on how much of their “brilliance” has been repudiated by the church.

@Cynthia Nixon - Har. I’d love to see how the section on Greek Pæderasty would play on HBO. GoT proves we’re fine with men raping women on the screen, but I bet consensual man/teen love scenes would cause an ADO.

Unknown 10:22 PM  

Love this. And would like expanded.

Music Man 7:30 AM  

Loved the pop music references in Thursday’s puzzle.
30A: Headwear in Prince’s hit “Raspberry BERET”. The lead off single from the 1985 LP “Around The World In A Day” hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July, 1985.
49A: “I’m Down”, the B-SIDE of “Help” was released as a single in the US in July 1965. The A-side, “Help”, reached #1 five weeks later in September, and remained at #1 for 3 consecutive weeks.

Dawn Urban 8:55 AM  

BRAKING? A chess piece? We do not know that. Although it is Friday, just hoping someone might read this and explain. Thanks!

Peter P 12:38 PM  

@Dawn Urban - To get the themed answers to correctly correspond with the clue, you need to remove the BRA part, (which is the clue given in the revealer NO BRA DAY). So BRAKING becomes KING (chess piece), BRAVERY becomes VERY (extremely), LAB RATS becomes LATS (upper body muscles, for short), BRAIDING becomes ID ING (picking out of a lineup, e.g.), LEFT BRAIN becomes LEFT IN (didn't delete) and VIBRATO becomes VITO (first name in "The Godfather.")

stwidgie 7:59 AM  

Somewhat hard and not fun for me. Never did catch onto the theme (maybe the breast cancer walk was being recast as a PARADE??). Not sure what ETS is. And envisioned "flow away from the shore" as movement inland (like the Chicago River). Hmph.

Yam Erez 3:58 PM  

No. No. I'm mad.

1. There's NOTHING awkward about "clambering". Mountain goats do it daily, all day. It's almost as not-awkward as scampering.
2. What seniors job hunt? No. Just. No.
3. What chess piece is a braking?

Don't care that it's No Bra Day. No excuses. How come Rex was so "blah" about this one?

Burma Shave 10:32 AM  


“LET BRAVERY get CREDIT!”: it’s ALINE we heard SHE-RA say.
On CUE her shirt gets WETTED; a CLEVER DARE on NOBRADAY.


thefogman 10:36 AM  

Good but not great. After solving the gimmick things moved pretty fast. The word created by the addition of the letters BRA had no connection to the word sans-BRA. Consequently, the theme needed an extra dimension to elevate it into POW! territory. CREDIT goes out to the constructors for promoting such a worthy event as NOBRADAY. Some FOLKs might BRISTLE at the thought, but DARE I say I was EAGERTO remove six bras this morning? SEW YAY! IROC!

rondo 11:54 AM  

Perhaps the BEATLES said it best, “Ob-La-Di, NOBRADAY, why throw on a BRA . . .” The revealer did help clear up the nonsense ala @LMS’ booby-traps being removed.

Isn’t LABRATS a Canadian beer?

You probably know that it was a raspberry BERET. At the same time around here Dairy Queen was promoting a Raspberry Parfait, so you know how FOLKs sang Prince’s song.

I hope that LIV Tyler celebrated NOBRADAY in the traditional religious manner. Yeah baby.

Silly puz, but we’re all interested in saving second base. CREDIT for that.

spacecraft 12:17 PM  

Not easy by any means, since the theme clues referred to the BRA-less entries rather than to the entries themselves. Did most of the NW but couldn't make sense of 13-down. The themer at 22 seemed to be a mix of two of the clue things: ABS and LATS, with, I guess, an R just stuck in there. But the one at 16?? A mystery.

Hopping around, I landed in the SE and tried to mesh the "castle" of chess with the one of SAND going down. No go. Now that I'm done (successfully, so huge triumph points), I don't quite remember where I caught on to the trick. Yet even with that it was no picnic. We're supposed to know that SIDEB (another letter-added thing I despise) of Help! was I'm Down!?? Who would know that except the winner of a Beatles trivia contest? Not even the runner-up! And that car? IROC?? Crosses, baby, 100% crosses. I LEFT(BRA)IN that name and was surprised to see it was right. Who knew? Never heard of it.

Other clues, too, sought to obfuscate. This was all you want for a Thursday. Doable? Just. Easy? No way. Spotty fill but a good, well-disguised theme with a great revealer. LIV Tyler takes a curtain call as DOD. Then there's those triumph points: birdie.

thefogman 12:25 PM  

PS - I just read on Jeff Chen's site (Xword Info) how Johanne Fenimore tried to construct the puzzle with a multi-layered theme - having a double meaning with and without the BRA element, but had to ditch the idea:

It's too bad Johanna's original concept didn't work out: kooky phrases resulting from BRA removals. I mean, BRAHMS LULLABY to the HMS LULLABY = a ship of peace? That's awesome!

leftcoastTAM 2:00 PM  

A good mix of stuff: easy, not as easy, quirky, and a bit clumsy. Also, CLEVER and fun.

Easy because of the NOBRADAY theme
Quirky clue/answer: SIDEB, LEASE, LOOFA
Clumsy: EBBOUT
Not as easy: SHERA, IROC

Overall, Jeff and Johanna let us off easy today.

Diana, LIW 3:31 PM  

Worse than a rebus. Just because I like some of the clues/answers doesn't mean I have to put up with this nonsense. No no no no.

Lady Di

Wooody2004 5:23 PM  

TRIO reminded me of the three-breasted hooker in Total Recall (1990).

It played at the CINERAMA Theater in Seattle.

Has anyone every clued SOY as I am overseas

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