Kid-lit character who travels via envelope /TUE 10-23-18 / Western ravines

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Constructor: Kathy Wienberg

Relative difficulty: Challenging (for a Tuesday) (4:07)

THEME: ATHLETIC CUP (60A: Protective sportswear ... or a hint to the ends of 17-, 24-, 36- and 51-Across) — ends of themers are all words that can proceed "Cup," each cup being a sports championship of some kind:

Theme answers:
  • FLAT STANLEY (17A: Kid-lit characgter who travels via envelope)
  • GEENA DAVIS (24A: Thelma's portrayer in "Thelma & Louise")
  • WINONA RYDER (36A: Co-star of "Stranger Things")
  • SMALL WORLD (51A: "I can't believe we both know him")
Word of the Day: FLAT STANLEY (17A) —
Flat Stanley is an American children's book series written by Jeff Brown (January 1, 1926 – December 3, 2003). // Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures is an American children's book series written by different authors such as Sara Pennypacker, Josh Greenhut, and David Ross. The summary is about Stanley traveling the world in some places. // The [original] book recounts the adventures of Stanley Lambchop after surviving being crushed while sleeping by a falling bulletin board. He survives and makes the best of his altered state, and soon he is entering locked rooms by sliding under the door, being rolled up to go out to the park and playing with his younger brother by being used as a kite. One special advantage is that Flat Stanley can now visit his friends in California by being mailed in an envelope. Stanley even helps catch some art museumthieves by posing as a painting on the wall. Eventually, Stanley wearies of flatness and Arthur restores his proper shape with a bicycle pump. (wikipedia)
• • •

"Beetlejuice" coulda gotten you GEENA DAVIS *and* WINONA RYDER.

Wow, nowhere near my wheelhouse, despite having a couple of '80s movie stars in it. I do not mind the theme at all, despite its groin-oriented revealer, but the fill and clues, oof. So many issues, both with my ignorance and the puzzle's own awkwardness / ugliness. So I don't really know FLAT STANLEY. At all. Maybe I've seen it referred to somewhere, but ??? So I had FLAT STEPHEN. Which fit perfectly with RTE for 6D: GPS display. ETA!? OK, but ugh. Ugh for a Tuesday. [Band at a royal wedding] is a TIARA!? Oh, *that* kind of band. Not musical. Not a sash or a ring. I can't really connect "band" and TIARA. At all. And I own a TIARA that I got once as a Worst Handwriting award in a crossword tournament. Not seeing how it's a "band." And then RAYED!?!?! Jeez (thelma &) louise! What a dumb word and dumber clue. If I'd had all day to come up with words to describe Lady Liberty's crown, I'd never hit RAYED. And what is with the simplistic and stupid clue on ENEMIES (21A: Communists and capitalists, e.g.). There is No Necessary Reason those two groups should be ENEMIES. That's a war term. We (nominally "capitalist" USA) are often friendly with countries that have very different economic and political systems from our own. Take the SAUDIS, for instance (seriously, please take them, far far away—super bad timing on that clue, man):

And we normalized relations with Vietnam decades ago, and they're still technically a communist country, right? ENEMIES is some jingoistic bullshit.

More trouble in the SW, where I couldn't get RED despite having one and then two letters (59A: What might bring you to a screeching halt). Letting RED stand on its own, with no mention of "light," is not inaccurate (we certainly use it as a substantive adjective all the time), but also Not Tuesday. See also COULEES, yikes. WE TRY is ridiculously contrived—not hard, as it was my first guess, but absurd, which caused me not to trust it. Then there was [Tops] for ACMES, when [Tops] can mean roughly a million things and ACMES is a plural you'd only ever see in crosswords. Very rough.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Lewis 6:41 AM  

    As always with Kathy, a scrubbed-clean grid, and the stamp of quality. A terrific Tuesday with a bit of grit, and a great aha and smile at filling in the reveal.

    That reveal helped me too. I wasn't sure about the third letter of GALENA (though my intuition told me to go to L, as it were), but the reveal gave me STANLEY, and there was the confirmation.

    My favorite clue -- one never used before in the NYT -- was "His and her" for THEIR, which flummoxed me for a bit. The puzzle has a mini-theme of words ending with A (10!). Also, 27a clue/answer gave me a wry smile.

    Kathy and Roger are friends of my wife Susan and I (we met through crosswords!), and they are, as we speak, in the process of moving to my hometown Asheville after visiting here extensively for many moons, a very happy event. Could it be the first step toward our town becoming a noted construction site?

    OffTheGrid 6:48 AM  

    Wanted STRIPPERS for 4D.

    Dawn Urban 6:58 AM  

    Great blog, Rex! It was too early to make the Beetlejuice connection, so thank you!

    Galena, IL, formerly a great lead-mining distributor, is the place General Grant lived prior to, and after, the Civil War. It is a Midwest historical and shopping destination, if you should ever be in the northwest corner of Illinois.

    kitshef 7:13 AM  

    I like the theme but it’s just a hair off. STANLEY CUP is specific to the NHL; DAVIS CUP to men’s tennis; RYDER CUP to men’s golf. But WORLD CUP could be baseball, basketball, rugby, soccer, cricket, or any of a host of others, including Women’s laCROSSE.

    Never heard either dude up or TOG up.

    If you are screeching to a halt at a RED, put the damn phone away and pay attention.

    Kiki 7:14 AM  

    I liked this one--thought it a very fun theme. But I also didn't care for ENEMIES.

    michiganman 7:23 AM  

    I totally agree with Rex's critique. Really ugly fill. TIARA is not only not equivalent to Band, it's far from exclusive to royal weddings. I don't think he mentioned Dude(up)/TOG. What the hell is that? I know tog up could mean dress up so I get that. But does anyone Dude up? I don't care that I didn't know FLATSTANLEY or that I had trouble spelling CRECHE, but the crappy fill is just that.

    QuasiMojo 7:33 AM  

    Surely the NYT and its puzzle constructors can come up with some other clue for RASTA than Bob Marley. Over and over again. Or not use it if THEIR imaginations have run that dry.

    Rex, it was communists like Marx and Lenin who used the phrase “enemies of the state” and “enemies of the people” to describe the battle between the workers and capitalists. So no problem in my book with the clue today. Seems rather obvious.

    Thanks for the Holst vid. I missed it yesterday.

    GALENA is also a town in Ohio.

    The theme today made me chuckle since it gave new meaning to the expression “in his CUPS.”

    Speaking of odd things to wear, I wonder if Prince Albert wore a wedding BAND?

    michiganman 7:47 AM  

    Yes, 27A is awesome. His very name means LIE!

    JOHN X 7:49 AM  

    Ha ha this puzzle was great!

    It was basically a nut-shot joke of a theme, and there is nothing funnier than a good nut-shot. This is an established, undisputed fact. Take everyone who loves a nut-shot and you will find all the great artists, thinkers, and philosophers in human history, such as Aristotle, Picasso, Shakespeare, etc; take everyone who hates nut-shots and those are the people who brought us Prohibition, curfews, and McCarthyism, among other similar evils. You know who hated a good nut-shot? Hitler. They say that Himmler was somewhat similar.

    GHarris 8:00 AM  

    This was going to be my fastest and easiest exercise ever until I got mired briefly in the north middle. Coming up with Stanley broke the logjam and enabled me to get a character I did not know (Flat Stanley) and an ore I never heard of as well as the answers to the poorly clued rayed and troublesome tiara.

    amyyanni 8:01 AM  

    Runners often post pics of their race day togs laid out like a Flat Stanley, complete with race number bib. Lewis, the Asheville Marathon is a favorite of mine, along with your fabulous bookstore, Malaprops. This puzzle made me smile, though agree with Saudis and Rasta comments.

    Hoosier 8:03 AM  

    Galena is a city in Illinois where US Grant lived before ascending to the Presidency and is home of the US Grant museum.

    Amy 8:03 AM  

    For moms, dads and distant relatives of kids in the late 90s/early 2000, there was NO escaping Flat Stanley. Our kids read the book. Then they brought home a cute little paper facsimile of Flat Stanley. Then the kids had to mail Flat Stanley to unsuspecting relatives or friends in far off places, who as I recall were supposed to take a picture or otherwise document Flat's continuing trips around the world. Epic stuff, occasionally as competitive as a World Cup, and I laughed to see it in the puzzle.

    Suzie Q 8:05 AM  

    Completely agree with Rex today but I might dislike it even more than he does.
    The only bright spot for me was memories of helping a nephew with his Flat Stanley project.
    Excuse me but I have some fish to wrap.

    ArtO 8:16 AM  

    Gotta agree with much of Rex's critique. Definitely tough for Tuesday....FLATSTANLEY (???), COULEE (made sense when realized it's the name of a western dam), RED (clued brutally), EMEMIES (as clued), CROSSE (never knew the lacrosse stick was so named).

    How about Erik Agard on Jeopardy!

    GILL I. 8:19 AM  

    Yeah, that clue for ENEMIES was kinda strange. Since we see so many Marvel Comics, why not clue it as "Ant-Man's" villains...No?
    RAYED also looked so wrong. I wanted SPIKY at first. Did you know that Lady Liberty wears a size 879 shoe? She does have seven rays on her crown, though.
    I had to get to the ROMANCES THEIR ATHLETIC CUP area before figuring out FLATS last name. It wasn't really that hard since I knew the CUP names. Even so, like many, I've never seen TOG up in the wild.
    I liked this theme and thought it was pretty good for dreadful Tuesday. I would've liked a few more smiles. I got one with SAUDIS because I pictured heads exploding [ the comments...not in the real world]. You never know when your puzzle will get published so I guess you have to cross your fingers an answer you have won't make the PC gurus go ballistic. I want to see Fidel Castro in print so that I can have a field day.
    Kinda like ARC sitting on CAR and I like GALENA crossing GEENA.

    kitshef 8:23 AM  

    Partial retraction. Still not familiar with TOG up, but I have heard of dude up, or rather duded up - though without knowing what it means.

    Crazy Janey and her mission man
    Were back in the alley tradin' hands
    Along came Wild Billy with his friend G-Man
    All duded up for Saturday night

    Bruce Springsteen, Spirit in the Night

    Anonymous 8:36 AM  

    Agree with Rex on this one - tough for a Tuesday, and some poor-quality fill. Not a good puzzle.

    Hungry Mother 8:41 AM  

    Very easy, but took crosses to get KOSHER for some reason. I had ear surgery yesterday and have on a contraption that looks like an ATHLETICCUP. I’m trying to hide until tomorrow when the dressing comes off.

    clk 8:47 AM  

    FLATSTANLEY was a joy to see. Finally something completely in my wheelhouse, instead of the endless litany of retired sportsball players that these puzzles are usually crammed with.
    I’ve visited GALENA, Illinois, which is a charming town and helped me with that answer despite not knowing its relation to lead-bearing ore.

    Anonymous 8:47 AM  

    Rex Parker: “Take the SAUDIS, for instance (seriously, please take them, far far away—super bad timing on that clue, man):” What does this even mean ? The clue referenced the Gulf War, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant answer and not clue. We all read the news and know what’s going on in the world. Sharp needs to comparmentalize . That has nothing to do with the puzzle. Get over yourself dude.

    Sir Hillary 9:06 AM  

    Plenty of fill beyond usual Tuesday difficulty, but I'll forgive this puzzle's faults because I really like the theme. And because of the clues for 21A, 27A and 47D -- guaranteed to stir the pot!

    Sgreennyc 9:08 AM  

    Enjoyed the Rex parody today. When is he returning?

    Hungry Mother 9:09 AM  

    The comments mentioning Ashville and FLATSTANLEY reminded me of an RV excursion in 2009 when one of our granddaughter’s Flat Stephanie traveled with us to the Biltmore Estate. It was November 4, my wife’s birthday; she was thrilled that the Biltmore Estate had decorated early for Christmas.

    Anonymous 9:22 AM  

    Ahh, hence Grand COULEE Dam.

    Mr. Big 9:32 AM  

    We took our neighbor's Flat Stanley with us to Vegas. Besides photos with the usual iconic spots, Stanley's fame got us behind the ropes at a Nascar event for a shot of him behind the wheel of a real Indy car. I was amazed at how many people knew who he was.

    Anonymous 9:44 AM  

    Rex, it is time you stop caveating your "challengings" with (for a Tuesday) (for a Wednesday) etc... We all know how great you are. We all know a Tuesday is not a real challenge for you. We all get that your ratings are day of the week referential. We also all know that you shave minutes like NBA refs shave points and that when you're in a tournament you don't use either your real name or your alias so none of us can ever see what your real times are, but that's okay, we like you anyway. But please, please stop the (for a Tuesday.

    Nancy 9:46 AM  

    What a nice double entendre, NYT! Quite naughty for you, no? I didn't see it coming, and the revealer brought a chuckle. Until then, I was finding the puzzle less-than-memorable. Perfectly okay, but not great. Now, I think it's quite a fun theme.

    I never heard of FLAT STANLEY, but what an ADORBS concept. A character who travels in an envelope! Tell me, those of you who know of him -- is he drawn?

    I had TOt up before TOG up at 18D, so that GEENA DAVIS initially seemed to begin with a "T". She had a co-star, but I couldn't for the life of me remember who it was. When the G-less GEENA began to come in, I changed TOt to TOG and breathed a sigh of relief. Now I didn't have to remember her co-star.

    Had the same reaction Rex had to TIARA. It's certainly not a band. It's an ARC.

    The revealer made this quite ordinary puzzle sing.

    Linda Vale 9:49 AM  

    Another woman constructor. Another bash from Rex. Misogyny much?
    pleas from Rex for more inclusion of woman constructors only results in more bashing.
    Hypocrisaurus Rex

    Odd Sock 10:05 AM  

    @ Linda Vale, Do you want a puzzle praised only because a woman made it? They can't all be Liz Gorski. Comments like yours show a glaring lack of self awareness.
    I didn't like the puzzle because it is substandard no matter who wrote it.
    As for the theme, World Cup seems like an outlier because the others are named for people.

    Anonymous 10:13 AM  

    I don't get the AMOEBA clue at all - can someone clue me in? How is it Slide presentation?

    Also, COULEE, GALENA, TOG - tough clues for a Tuesday. Grew up in the 90s and have never heard of FLAT STANLEY at all. Also agree that TIARA makes no sense as clued.

    Blue Stater 10:20 AM  

    Dreadful, for all the reasons pointed out by OFL and more. Full of stretchers and mistakes. As usual. One pass through a competent copyeditor would have consigned this wreck to the flames.

    Z 10:31 AM  

    I don’t quite know how I feel about the PPP today. Overall it is low, even very low, at 14 out of 76. But the theme answers are 60% PPP, making it seem much higher. I do think the crosses are mostly fair (TOG?) so I can’t do much more than arch an eyebrow at having 3 of 5 answers be Pop Culture.

    @Lewis - Are they building a hotel?*

    @QuasiMojo - It is as if you think the US has cornered the market on jingos. The conflating of economic systems and political systems is so complete that the ENEMIES clue only got a slightly arched eyebrow here, but I don’t disagree with Rex.

    @Anon9:44 - Rex explains this in the FAQ page. Since people making this complaint never seem to have read the FAQ page, here is what he says:
    6. Why do you talk about your solving times? You must think you are So Superior. I think I enjoy the puzzle more than you because I savor it blah blah blah x infinity...

    I like to time myself on occasion, especially on early-week puzzles. I'm always in a kind of low-level training for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (again, above link). I don't care if you are faster / slower than I am, or if you don't care about timing at all. More power to you. Everyone does the puzzle differently. There are solvers of all different speeds who read this site. There's no reason for anyone to feel defensive / self-conscious.

    *Thats an inside Asheville joke

    Z 10:33 AM  

    @anon10:13 - In order to see an AMOEBA one needs a slide and a microscope.

    jberg 10:51 AM  

    @ACME is back, and in the plural! Always good to see her.

    @John X -- I could tell you were quoting a poem in your last line (since "somewhat" is there to fit the meter), but was guessing Ogden Nash. So it was really a pleasure to see that it was doubly theme-related: to the theme of the puzzle, and the theme of The Bridge on the River Kwai!

    I don't know that a band has to be a complete loop, so I was okay with TIARA. However, it took some crosses to get that -- I started with PIPES, thinking of musicians in kilts.

    @Z, three of the cups are named for people, so they pretty much have to be PPP. But I was wondering how you count Dapper DAN? I'd say no, but am sincerely curious.

    @Anonymous 10:13 -- in high school biology, you're likely to put an AMOEBA on a slide to look at through a microscope.

    KBF 11:07 AM  

    OK, Saudis was painful. But I liked this puzzle. "Rough"? Isn't "rough" what makes it fun? Who wants to slide through at top speed without having to figure things out?!

    Anonymous 11:18 AM  

    Before fully reading the reavealer, I looked up and saw ‘NAD’ inside GEENADAVIS. I briefly checked the other themers before going back and re-reading the revealer.

    Bagelboy 11:21 AM  

    Galena and Leadville both towns in Colorado. Tough Tuesday a few minutes longer than average. Got held up by a typo, but otherwise just plowed through it, COULEES/IDYLL cross tough, but figured the dam(n) thing out first try.

    Proud Mamma 11:25 AM  


    Brookboy 11:30 AM  

    I thought the puzzle was more difficult than the usual Tuesday puzzle, but I don’t think it warranted the scathing review that Rex gave it. It wasn’t in my wheelhouse either, but so many clues and answers aren’t in my wheelhouse (which must be quite a bit smaller than other wheelhouses) that I tend to be more forgiving of puzzles and clues that are obscure to me.

    “ENEMIES is some jingoistic bullshit.” What? Am I missing something here? The answer was “enemies”. The clue was “Communists and Capitalists, e.g.”). I assume OFL knows that “e.g.” means, in essence, “for example”. I will admit that there could be better examples of real enemies, but where does “‘jingoistic bullshit” come into play here? Or is the word “Enemies” itself somehow jingoistic?

    Oh well. Wasn’t my favorite Tuesday puzzle, but I felt that thrill of victory when I managed to finish it.

    clayplay 11:33 AM  

    I think tiara is clued band as in headband. They don't usually circle the whole head - shaped just like a tiara except stuff doesn't usually stick up from the band like a tiara. I didn't have any problem with that clue.

    Anonymous 11:42 AM  

    Z 10:31
    This is Anon previously at 9:44. Your quote from Rex didn't respond to my post. Did you read it? Of course I understand why Rex times his puzzles. I do too. My points are that he is not always honest about his time - as evidinced by his hiding of his identity at ACPT, which would be the place where we could actually be able to verify the times he claims. Additionally - my main point is that we all get that his ratings are based on the day. He does not need to keep stating that challenging (for a Tuesday) is not really challenging. It highlights his insecurity and brings further scrutiny to his supposed times, though granted, not as much scrutiny as his identity hiding does. Please read more carefully.

    chasklu 11:46 AM  

    Maybe I'm just starting to get better at crossword puzzles but this seemed like an easy Tuesday for me. Tuesday is usually my limit, and Wednesday usually impossible.

    pabloinnh 11:53 AM  

    All I could think when I finished this was that it was the complete opposite/flip side of the "no bra day" that we had a while ago. Looked at the revealer before I had finished and that turned out to be helpful, especially with RYDER, as I wasn't familiar with the reference.

    I agree that there are other "World Cups" but THE World Cup will always be futbol.

    Good Tuesday.

    Also, Go Sox.

    Harry 12:00 PM  

    I agree with your assessment of the puzzle, I'm just surprised you didn't comment on one of the best political digs that has made it into a NYT puzzle in a long time.

    27A: Trumped-up - false

    I mean, c'mon, that is awesome.

    Anonymous 12:19 PM  

    As far as I know, "capitalists" paired with any other word in the lexicon = "enemies." "Capitalists" hate everything except their own freaking money.
    "oh, sorry, I have to fire you all and move the plant to [name another place] - because money."
    Capitalism in one sentence.
    Trump's ties are made in JINA. Capitalism in one more sentence.

    Anonymous 12:22 PM  

    I liked this puzzle. But, I agree that RAYED is not a word anyone would use and also the clue for ENEMIES was bad. A TIARA is a headband.

    Malsdemare 12:24 PM  

    I thought this was easy peasy, blew through it in record time. I chuckled at "trumped up," (Hi. @Harry), did a silly teenage girl giggle at the revealer, and smiled to see ACMEs again. I really try to keep my hair from bursting into flames so SAUDIS and ENEMIES were fine, though a tad depressing to see. @Nancy, GEENA’s costar was the glorious Susan Sarandon, she of smokin' hot Bull Durham fame. And @ Lewis, the mere mention of Asheville makes me ready to pack up and move there.

    Nice Tuesday, Kathy. Thanks!

    kitshef 12:28 PM  

    Forgot to mention: neat that the CUPs are in chronological order:
    STANLEY 1892
    DAVIS 1900
    RYDER 1927
    WORLD (assuming FIFA) 1930

    JC66 12:29 PM  


    If you think Susan Sarandon was hot in Bull Durham. watch Atlantic City, where she co-stars with Burt Lancaster.

    Mike Rees 12:35 PM  

    I needed the revealer to finish the puzzle, as I didn’t know TOG, GALENA or RAYED, but as an avid hockey fan I certainly know Lord Stanley’s Mug. Came in a minute under my usual time, and that’s after spending a solid 45 seconds trying to get that last cup. They say it’s the hardest trophy to win in professional sports, so it’s fitting it was the last entry for me.

    Anonymous 12:39 PM  

    Not really my CUP of tea, but it’s an OK puzzle. I did like the revealer and got a chuckle out of the name FLAT STANLEY (whom I have never heard of.)

    SMALL WORLD. After seeing NAE NAE twice recently, we today get NE NE, a Hawaiian hip hop avian?

    However, the highlight of the puzzle for me was writing FALSE for “Trumped-up.” Can’t wait for the mid-terms.

    Jonah 12:58 PM  

    @Anomymous 12:19 PM: Until capitalism poverty was normal all around the world except for a thin layer of aristocrats who, in modern material terms, still lived in poverty compared to a middle class person today.

    Teedmn 1:04 PM  

    I'm with Anon 11:18 on finding "nad" in GEENA DAVIS and thinking, "That's the theme? Egad." And then I re-read the revealer clue. Do I fail to read long clues because they are too columnar and I can't do my usual "skim" read? I do know I should try to break that habit if I want to improve my solving times - it has bitten me in the grid more than once.

    I circled the "Slide presentation?" clue for AMOEBA as a favorite. And the answer RED for 59A had me checking all of the crosses and letting it stand, only to get it later. That it brought my solve to a screeching halt is funny.

    I have been to Galena, IL twice. Wikipedia says that yes, the town was named for the lead-containing ore and was the site of the first major mineral rush in the US. The first time I visited, I was 10 years old and we toured Ulysses S Grant's home there - all I remember is the spiral staircase which was the first time I had encountered one. And the miniature glass mug I bought as a souvenir which I still own.

    Thanks, Ms. Weinberg, it was a fun puzzle.

    Texcritic 1:06 PM  

    Capitalists and communists ONCE. Will fix it.

    Loved Flat Stanley. Any one with a child born around 1990 probably knows it. The deal is, that the class reads about Flat Stanley and gives a colored version to parent's friends or relatives who take flat stanley far away and photo graph him at some landmark which the kids put on a bulletin board.

    Suppose its not fair to the childless or those even older but such is the way with crosswords.

    Texcritic 1:12 PM  

    Watch Susan Sarandon in her first major role: JOE (1970) Here she shows her old pre rhinoplasty nose which got her cast because it matched the honker on Dennis Patrick the actor playing her father. A hot scene early on in the film with Miss Sarandon exhibiting early 70s starlet lack of clothing.

    Anonymous 1:52 PM  

    Peter Boyle played the bigoted title character.

    TJS 1:53 PM  

    Rex, almost every negative reaction you have to this puzzle refers to the fact that you couldn't unthinkingly slap in an answer without slowing down to think about it. Couldn't picture the Statue of Liberty and see rays? Couldn't "connect band and tiara. At all."? And yes, Enemies is a "War term". It was called "The Cold War." Some of us can still remember Kruschev at the U.N. banging his shoe on the table and yelling "We will bury you!" Sounds like an enemy to me.
    I understand that for some a crossword is more enjoyable as a time challenge than as an opportunity to solve the traps presented by a constructor, but I don't think puzzles should be savaged solely on this bias.
    Question for any responders in the know : Does Rex really enter crossword contests without revealing his identity ? Has he ever commented on this ?

    Anoa Bob 1:56 PM  

    Not being familiar with FLAT STANLEY got this one of to a shaky start. I do remember reading Edwin Abbott Abbott's (that's not a typo) Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, not too long after it was published in 1884. It's about a two-dimensional world where they briefly visit a one-dimensional world and even a singularity world.

    It's a very strange and at the same time memorable book, whose popularity got a boost when Einstein theory of relativity was published, and talk of a fourth dimension became fashionable.

    So I am wondering if FLAT STANLEY can trace its lineage to Flatland.

    It's all very fanciful thinking and good fodder for science fiction but the bottom line, so to speak, is that there are only two dimensions, spatial extension and temporal extension. That is all.

    JC66 2:07 PM  


    I can't speak for other tournaments, but I saw/met @REX at this past Spring's Lollapuzzoola and neither Rex Parker nor Michael Sharp appears on the score sheet.

    Teedmn 2:21 PM  

    I don't usually spend time defending @Rex, but...he didn't attend the last two ACPTs. If you look at the results alphabetically for 2016, 2014, and 2013, he was 52, 63 and 41 (if I am remembering correctly.)

    As for Lollapuzzoola, he was at the last two, and he solved with his wife in the pairs division so you have to go to the pairs sheet of the results to see their scores.

    GILL I. 2:25 PM  

    @Lawrence Dickerson 1:12. She DIDN'T have a big honker before rhino. Why she even had a nose job is beyond me. Maybe she had a little tweak or two, but certainly nothing major.
    You want a BIG HONKER before and after, look at the darling poster boy, Tom Cruise. Now THAT was a biggie

    JC66 2:27 PM  


    Thanks for clearing that up.

    FLAC 2:28 PM  

    But Goebbels had....

    jae 2:33 PM  

    Easy-medium. Smooth,clever, and the reveal gave me a chuckle. Liked it!

    Z 2:37 PM  

    @Anon9:44/11:42 - Well, how wrong do you want to be? Rex enters puzzle tournaments under his real name and his results there are verifiable. He even mentions on Twitter when he goes to one and how he does. As for his times published here, they aren’t that impressive. Truly fast solvers are considerably faster. Like most of us, the only person he’s competing with is himself. To sum up, you’re wrong about why Rex puts caveats, you’re wrong about him hiding at tournaments, you’re wrong about how good his times are, you’re wrong about his honesty, and you’re wrong about his insecurities (I thinks that’s called “projection”). TL;DR? You are wrong.

    @JC66 - If you know where to look you’ll find Rex finished fourth at Lollapuzzoola. Took me at least 17 nanoseconds to find him. BTW - Did you know he is married and his wife also solves? (that’s known as a hint)

    Z 2:41 PM  

    Jeez Louise @Teedmn - Go ahead and just give people the answer while I’m busy typing. 😉

    The NSA 3:09 PM  

    @Anon 9:44 - Keep it up dude - don't let anyone get you down. I know Z is gonna jump ugly on you, but we know exactly how many emails @Rex gets on the average Monday and Tuesday (142.7 and 86.2 respectively) essentially saying "how can you say this was challenging when it was so easy!?. We know because we read them, we read them all. What's a hundred or so emails per day from people who don't know about the increasing difficulty through the week? What's that when compared to your profound understanding of each of the 10k+ people per day who read the blog, how much each of them knows of the ins and outs of the NYTimes xword puzzle!?

    I tell you, don't let Z get you down. He'll probably show how @Rex does compete at the tournaments. He may even tell you that sometimes he goes just to schmooze and not to compete. Wait, we can hear him typing now. Told you so.

    TJS 3:29 PM  

    Thanks @Teedmn and @Z for the information, appreciate it.

    Crimson Devil 3:32 PM  

    Sarandon indeed excellent in Bull Durham and, as Annie, delivered wonderful soliquoy to Religion of Baseball. Annie taught Nuke much about life. Classic movie.
    Galena is also a town/community in Black Hills of S.D., near, predictably, to town/community of Lead.

    JJ 3:39 PM  

    I often disagree with Rex, and I'm usually offended by his virtue signalling. Today his critique is fair, and in my opinion, spot on. Most of us don't solve for speed, but those who do should have no problem saying "This was bad for a Tuesday".
    RAYED is in the running for worst of 2018.

    Z 4:00 PM  

    @The NSA - Nice. Just wondering, does anyone ever “jump pretty” on anyone?

    Anonymous 4:14 PM  

    Re: 21A. Calling communists and capitalists “enemies” is for some of us an odd expression, and not for the reasons Rex states. Marx is clear that communism can come about only after capitalism reaches a significant level of development, and that communism is a product of capitalism. Communism for Marx is not inherently a “better” system than capitalism, as if these are two systems that can be weighed against each other, with capitalism better because it is more moral or fulfils human needs. (This sort of “idealistic” or utopian communism was something he rejected consistently–this the sort of socialism espoused or described almost always today, as in the portrait in today’s NY Times, in Maine: p. A9 of the national edition, entitled “In Maine, Capitalism Hits a Bump.”) For a communist a capitalist is not so much an enemy as an ancestor, one whose organization of society it is time to leave behind.

    If the constructor meant communism to be with capital C (we don’t know, since it the first word of the clue), then a Communist would mean someone who is a member of a Communist party, and if this party was in Western Europe I suppose we could say it was an enemy of capitalism. Where Communists actually took power, as in the Soviet Union and China, they ran into the obvious problem of not taking over from capitalists, and having somehow to try to find a way to let capitalism develop under a Communist umbrella.

    Anon. i.e. Poggius

    Anonymous 4:39 PM  

    oops. in 4:14 post, middle of first paragraph, for "with capitalism better" read: "with communism better"
    anon. i.e. Poggius

    Anonymous 4:51 PM  

    @JC66 2:07
    Michael Sharp is Number 4 on that list. Plain as the nose on your face.

    Jessica Evans 4:55 PM  

    Well, since everyone else is doing it, so will I. GALENA is also a community in Alaska, which is also connected to the outside only by airplane, boat and sled. A few years ago there was an ice jam on the Yukon River and the entire town flooded. This is not unusual, but this flood in particular was bad. The pictures are pretty intense. FEMA did their best, but, well, FEMA.

    This puzzle was a mix of hard for a Tuesday and waaaaaaay out of my wheelhouse. But enjoyable nonetheless.

    TJS 4:59 PM  

    Interesting perspective in your post, especially the last sentence. Does it follow, then, that there has never been a true test of the communist (small c) system, or would South American countries attempts at a Marxist system count ?

    Nancy 6:19 PM  

    Thanks, Mals. How in the world could I have forgotten that Susan Sarandon -- one of my all-time faves because of "Bull Durham", was GEENA DAVIS's co-star in "Thelma and Louise"? And that's an interesting bit of trivia for me -- one that I hadn't thought about before. I can never make up my mind whether "Bull Durham" or "A League of Their Own" is my favorite sports movie of all time. And "Thelma" co-stars Susan starred in the former and GEENA in the latter. And each performance was one of the most compelling and charismatic film performances by an actress I've ever seen.

    Sorry, @JC66, but I agree with @Malsdemare. I saw "Atlantic City" and I thought Susan was much hotter in "Bull Durham". As far as "Thelma and Louise" is concerned, I thought both Susan and GEENA were wasted in it. They're both women of great spirit, exuberance, and independence, and there has to be a better way of expressing it than driving off a cliff. Not one of my favorite movies.

    Anonymous 6:29 PM  

    This blog has devolved into 2 lines of thought(?) since noon. There's the "I'm smarter than you" crowd arguing about economic theory and the crowd that is creepily obsessed with Rex.

    SweetCaroline 6:57 PM  

    Galena is also a town in Maryland.

    JC66 8:01 PM  

    @Nancy & @Mals

    Compare the two: action vs words

    Nancy 10:03 PM  

    @JC66 (8:01) -- On the other hand...

    Hungry Mother 10:04 PM  

    @anoa bob: nice citation of Flatland. My Ph.D. Thesis was in point set topology (Hewitt Realcompactifications of Product Spaces), so Flatland was on my bookshelf for many years and on my night table many times.

    CS 11:02 PM  

    Smooth solve for me. Got the theme after filling in Stanley and Davis

    @kitshef @12:28 - nice note regarding the proper chronological order! I would not have know and what a clever touch

    It always cracks me up that Rex revels in knowing the most arcane trivia but mainstream pop culture not so much (that's OK, just that he shouldn't get annoyed at others because of his own gaps). I knew who Flat Stanley was even before having kids. It's an adorable concept by the way and a fun way of getting kids interesting in other places and excited about traveling.

    - CS

    Syndicate Bob 8:54 AM  

    SMALLWORLD is not a character or actor. This bothered me, albeit I can’t think of anyone with that surname. World B. Free was a basketball player, but that won’t work.

    Burma Shave 9:36 AM  


    DAN and EDGAR have DIRE chances
    with THEIR “EASY” IDEA they gave us;


    As required by STATELAW: This IDYLL sponsored by the WETSUIT ATHLETICCUP from CRECHE-CROSSE, it’s how WETRY to DRESS you for the GYM.

    rondo 10:28 AM  

    Want another personage for a cup? That fits? “Mr. Bojangles” songwriter Jerry JEFFWALKER. But then you have two golf CUPs. My 8 man golf team has a foursome that hoofs it and a foursome that takes carts. I have dubbed the groups as the Walker Cup and the Rider[sic] Cup. Lotsa laughs about that in the clubhouse.

    I have also been to GALENA, IL and have seen U.S. Grants home. Recommended.

    Duelling fully spelled out yeah babies GEENADAVIS and WINONARYDER.

    EASY puz with a good IDEA. Are Tuesdays getting better?

    spacecraft 12:04 PM  

    Yeah, I truly don't know what all OF's fuss is about. I did this over a bowl of cereal: EASY peasy (Thelma &) Louise-y. Okay, maybe RAYED is a bit out there, but I get the "point(s)."

    And speaking of Thelma, Ms. DAVIS is one of my ALLSTAR all-time DODs. The expert archer shot an arrow into my heart the first time I saw her. I enjoyed this, till I got to the revelation. Could that have been handled better? Maybe, but I still liked it. Some ZESTY fill, and GEENA points add up fast. Birdie.

    thefogman 12:47 PM  

    The first ATHLETICCUP was used in hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974.

    That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

    Great puzzle. And for that I raise my cup to Kathy Wienberg!

    Diana, LIW 2:46 PM  

    Neither "Teu" challenging nor easy. Tutu many chances for cup jokes. Always reminds me of a karate story a friend told me - but I'll spare you the painful details.

    The long names threw me at first - then, of course, they helped. Even our FLAT little friend in an envelope.

    Remember WINONA and GEENA together in Michael K's SMALL beetalian WORLD? Now I'm singin' "Dayo." Don't be KOI ALTOS, sing along.

    Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

    rain forest 3:33 PM  

    Hard to argue with either Thelma or Louise today. Sorry, WINONA.

    I only found out about FLAT STANLEY after the bona fide shrunken head a Social Studies teacher kept on his desk was swiped on the day before suymmer break. Throughout the summer photos of "Ernie" were mailed to the teacher from all over the world: Paris, Istanbul, Reykjavik, Sydney, etc. Magically, Ernie reappeared on the desk on the first day back in September. I think it was then that the librarian told me about FLAT STANLEY and his adventures. Junior High School hijinks. 1997, I think.

    The Grey Cup (50 shades of Grey) could have been a themer in another nod to Canada. After all the most recent edition occurred just two days ago.

    Just checked on Google Images: that crown is definitely RAYED. It's arRAYED with RAYs. HurRAY.

    Good theme, good revealer, good puzzle.

    leftcoastTAM 8:45 PM  

    Who in heck is FLAT STANLEY? (I did find out.) Went with FLATS heNLEY, you know, for the Henley Regatta. Seems there is a CUP for some part of the competition.

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