Rabbit's Tail / THU 10-25-18 / Dutch Artist Jan van der ___ / Stage name of rapper Sandra Denton / Muslim ascetic

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Constructor: Neville Fogarty

Relative difficulty: Medium (4:38)

THEME: "SEE"  — the "See" of a cross-referenced clue is combined with the relevant fill to provide a clue for the corresponding longer theme material

Theme answers:
  • LOST LIQUID (18A: See 17-Across / "See PAGE" [17A: Footnote info])  
  • DO A SLOW BURN (16A: See 29-Across / "See THE" [29A: Common article])
  • GO UP AND DOWN (46A: See 45-Across / "See SAW" [45A: Oft-repeated words])
  • IN SEARCH OF (59A: See 61-Across / "See KING" [61A: Bed selection])
Word of the Day: MEER (4D: Dutch artist Jan van der ___) —
Jan Vermeer van Haarlem, or Jan van der Meer II (1656 – May 28, 1705[1]) was a Dutch Golden Age painter from Haarlem. A landscape painter primarily, he ... signed his works "J v der meer de jonge" (Jan van der Meer the Younger). (Wikipedia)
• • •
Guest blogger Matt (of the triple-stack Saturday back in July) back today, as Rex is grading papers.

I had a feeling we'd have a feistier Thursday when I saw the byline; Neville is one of the organizers and constructors of the excellent Indie 500 tournament, held in June in Washington, DC. What we've got here is a fun subversion of cross-referencing conventions, as the "See" part of theme clues isn't setting up a two-part answer, but a combination of "see" with the answer to generate a new clue. Without rehashing each, I'll highlight GO UP AND DOWN, which we get from see-SAW (45A: Oft-repeated words).

All that explained, I didn't get the theme at all while solving, and just decided to brute-force through it. LIAM (though I couldn't remember all three Hemsworths and worried I was picking the wrong non-Chris brother) TETES FRAT FAQIR were quick entries across the top, and I had to chuckle at ROULETTE (11D: Rigged game in "Casablanca"), which would have stumped me for a while had it not come up with the same reference at either the Indie 500 or Lollapuzzoola this summer. At that time, I tried to piece together a card game from about half the letters for a while. Casablanca is one of those movies I know I should see, but in my life it only comes up in crosswords and by now I've ironed out the difference between Casablanca's ILSA and Young Frankenstein's INGA so I keep kicking the can down the road.

Everything is pretty straightforward (upon review, dare I say 'bland'?) through the top half or so -- I enjoyed TELECOM and ECOLAW (6D: Anti-fracking legislation, e.g.) because I dropped them in off their initial letters, but they're not terribly snappy, and MEER feels like a stretch, relevance-wise -- but I needed NUDGED, MORITA, and NOCARBS (42D: One dieting strategy) to get me into the short stuff and make sense of the bottom two themers, where I ended.

The more I look at this, the more I see rough fill, but figuring out the theme after the fact was a great AHA moment that I figure would have been even better mid-solve, literally every down entry intersects with theme material, and I'd rather have more creativity on Thursdays than less. The clear highlight for me is 40A: What may blossom from buds? for BROMANCE. A little twisted without being tortured, a little corny, but gettable without too much pause and it brought me a smirk in a puzzle that had a good amount of straightforward cluing for the back half of the week.

  • SCUT (38D: Rabbit's tail) — You can see above that this is where I finished, having never seen the word before. Of course, I had no sense of the theme to lean on the crossing until near the end. 
  • SNARFED (43D: Gobbled up) — SNARFED seems to be much more common than SCARFED in puzzles, but that doesn't stop me from putting the -C- in every dang time. 
  • ANGOLA (3D: African country that's a member of OPEC) — Just once or twice I'd like to see this clued as the notorious Louisiana prison built on a former plantation, its attached museum and yearly rodeo inches away from creating exhibits out of people in cages, but I'll save my energy and look for that in some other outlet's puzzle.   
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Graham 12:23 AM  

You know this already, but you really should see Casablanca. It stands the test.

Trombone Tom 12:35 AM  

Hand up for staring at the completed puzzle for several minutes before the penny dropped, allowing me to SEE the theme. Also for ScARFING as my default gobble.

Kudos to Mr. Fogarty for a clever Thursday

Anon 12:48 AM  

This theme was really clever.

Will 12:57 AM  

ECOLAW seems like a bit of green pain to me

chris b 1:43 AM  

Didn't care for this one AT ALL. Theme was uninteresting and didn't even help me solve the remaining theme answers after I figured it out. Lots of fill I had never heard of before: Scut, Faqir, Akon. And Snarfed? Nope.

Anonymous 1:48 AM  

Did we have identical solve experiences? I had to come here to discern the theme. Which upon explanation, I appreciate. I also ended on the "u" in scut, being entirely unfamiliar with the word. And the cluing for bromance brought a smile to my face as well.

Other than wishing I had been able to crack the theme, I enjoyed the puzzle.

TomAz 1:56 AM  

The second puzzle this month where I wonder if the constructor and I share a common tongue. The gimmick/trick was clever, yes. But the rest of the puzzle, sheesh.

It's the cluing, really. I mean, sorry but #$%^ some of these clues, they are just plain bad/wrong/false/dumb:

SLUG -- SLUG is a legit word, yes.. but SLUGs don't crawl. You need limbs to crawl. In my world, in my language, crawling implies extremities. Spiders, centipedes, cute babies, they crawl. SLUGs? No.

SCREAMED. Screaming and venting are two different, granted overlapping, things. You can scream without venting ("Go team!") and you can vent without screaming (this post). Some screaming is venting, yes. But this is not a valid cluing mechanism. It's like cluing "European phenomenon" for "WEATHER". Yes, there is weather in Europe, but not all weather is European.

SOWED. I can disseminate all the seed I want in the middle of the street and I'm not gonna get any corn out of it. "SOW" implies disseminating with the intent to grow something. Either literally or figuratively. Mere dissemination is not per se sowing.

OKIE. "Jayhawker", wikipedia tells me, was a word in common use during and just after the Civil War. Since then, though -- since any of us have been alive, since any of our parents were alive, since any of our grandparents were alive -- we say Jayhawk, without the -er. Adding the -er may have been the constructor's attempt at a misdirect -- was "neighbor of a Jayhawk" deemed too easy? -- but it's such a lame little trick that it feels like a desperate, uncreative reach.

ON MIKE. First, it's spelled "mic". Second, I can't even begin to fathom this level of stupidity in a clue. Recorded, not live, radio announcers also speak into a microphone. As do lots and lots of other people. Let's try this: I write a clue, "Like a 13th century pope" and the answer is "HUMAN BEING." See what I mean?

WEENIE. Is he getting at a nerd thing here, or a sausage? Neither work, in my world. Nerds are WEENIEs but not dogs. Dogs (hot) are sausages but not WEENIEs. I have no idea what the connection here is supposed to be.

Worst puzzle of the week, by far.

Larry Gilstrap 2:01 AM  

Sometimes, usually Thursday, a theme escapes me, even after reading Matt's nice review. Ok! I got it, I'm adding SEE to another word. Anyway, I floundered down South. I used more rubber than in a Hankook commercial.

KALE in a smoothie? I'm sleeping in a place that features ECONO in the name? TELECOM is still a word people use? Glad to hear it!

I have taught English language learners for years and have never used ESL to describe what I do. but it's pretty accurate and folks understand what it is, so be it.

CA is full of places that begin with San or Santa, and most of them are nice places. I went to school in San DIEGO, and back in the day, nobody left the area because they really wanted to leave; they left because they had to.

jae 2:04 AM  

Medium not counting the multitude of nanoseconds (@m&a) I spent figuring out what the “theme” was. Clever and just tricky enough, liked it!

Dolgo 2:05 AM  

No, I didn't get the theme at all, either (still don't!). Further, I thought I knew a lot about Dutch painting, and Vermeer in particular, but I can't say I've ever heard him called JAN VAN DER MEER. Some of the other clues are pretty off the wall as well. EVONO Lodge, ACNE, WEENIE, BROMANCE, etc. I'm pretty tolerant, but this was a bad one!

chefwen 2:16 AM  

Other than SNORKELS it took a lot of downs to get the other long theme answers.

Wanted hang over or beer gut for 40A thinking Budweiser, way off base there. I guess Buds would have be capitalized. BROMANCE was pretty cutesy.

Can never remember if the bunnies tail is a scud or a SCUT so I just left the last letter off until I got EDICT.

I also didn’t SEE the trick until all was said and done at which timr I let out a big WHOOP. That was fun.

Anonymous 5:02 AM  

I have no idea why TYPO is the answer to Tears for Fears... I've tried googling but it makes no sense. Because you can type fears instead of tears? That makes 0 sense. The NYTimes blog suggests "Rocks for Jocks" as the original clue but I'm even more confused. Awful puzzle.

Tarnation 6:07 AM  

Like Rex I didn’t get the theme until I was done. My last fill was “go up and down.” That did it for me and I finally saw see. What a great theme. I don’t care that the aha came at the end. LOVED it. Took a while for “typo” to make sense. I’m just “Head over Heels” for this one.

Lewis 6:17 AM  

So... I solved the grid without understanding the grid. That is, I got it but I didn't get it. I refused to leave the puzzle until I figured it out, and then I got the first glimmer at (SEE)SAW, a continuation of said glimmer at (SEE)KING, and then, when I remembered the clues for SAW and KING, it was one of the best "Aha!"s I can remember from a puzzle, with a genuine shout of joy. This, on top of overcoming some wheelhouse deficits and vague/tricky cluing, made for a most satisfying solving experience.

This is not only a clever theme, but a tight one as well -- what other possibilities are there besides, maybe, (SEE)MING? Anyone?

Neville, you must have chuckled bigly when you thought of this theme and worked hard on making this puzzle work because you knew down deep that the theme was so good. Your effort certainly paid off, at least for me, and thank you. This brought a wow and was a wow that will be remembered.

Rainbow 6:21 AM  

OK for a Thurs. Liked the theme. My time was about average.

Erik, sorry, it was fun to watch you.

Anonymous 6:22 AM  

With regard to SOW, I was reminded of the "Parable of the Sower" (found three times in the Christian New Testament - Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8), which is in fact about someone who "disseminates" seed indiscriminately.

kitshef 7:11 AM  

Normally I’d say take your AKON and your ECOLAW and your NEU and get lost. But I liked the theme, so all is forgiven.

Also love the fun pairing of PEPA and SEL.

Better to BURN yourself with SOLDER or a LASER? Dunno, but either is better than NO CARBS or a ‘popular’ KALE smoothie.

Trey 7:29 AM  

Spongebob Squarepants - Super Weenie Hut Jr is a hot dog restaurant.

JOHN X 7:29 AM  

This was a pretty weird puzzle. I finished it and got the "Congratulations!" on my iPad and I had absolutely no idea what I had just done.

I solved this more through pattern recognition and guessing. I guessed at INSEARCHOF based on the first few letters because what else could it be, and I guessed at KALE because it sounded just stupid enough to fit the clue. I've always seen it spelled as FAKIR but I got the Q filling in LOSTLIQUID which made absolutely no sense to me. Last was SCUT, because I had SCAT figuring that rabbits leave rabbit shit behind them wherever they go; I put in the "U" and *bingo* I was a winner.

I went to Xword Info to find out what was going on, and I get it now. I guess it's a pretty cool trick, but I noticed I had no interest in figuring the gimmick out on my own. Why? I had already solved the puzzle. I'm not interested in themes after the fact. Even though I had stumbled blindly into victory I was still victorious, and I like to leave the playing field immediately and head out for celebratory hookers and blow, which I'm doing right now. Thank you and God Bless.

Joe R. 7:36 AM  

I hated this puzzle more than I have hated any in a long time. The theme escaped me even after finishing, until I came here to read it, and it's just trying to be too clever. I essentially had to solve the themes with no clues. And as people have noted, a lot of the clues are quite tortured.

On a lighter note, after the clue for Bill & TED'S earlier in the puzzle, I really wanted San DI---, Calif, to be San Dimas, but I figured that probably wasn't what they were going for.

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

A weenie dog is slang for dachshund. Or maybe it's just the hot dog=weenie thing.

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

You answered your own question. "Because you can type fears instead of tears". I think that makes sense.
F and T are right together on keyboard.

Harryp 7:42 AM  

I couldn;t grok the Theme, but managed to finish anyway. Had to go to xword info to see the SEE. Pretty clever. Good job Neville.

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

It took me three minutes to get the theme from your explanation; never got it completing the puzzle, but it is clever
If you haven’t seen Casablanca, despite everything you have heard, you are a knucklehead, and I would question the legitimacy of any institution of higher education that would employ you.

amyyanni 7:47 AM  

Puzzle: what Lewis wrote, including the seesaw clue. Matt: what graham advised. Really.

kitshef 7:50 AM  

@Anon 5:02. If I try to type "the sum of fears", but instead type "the sum of all tears", I have made a typo, resulting in tears for fears.

@TomAz - I had the same thought at first about 'crawl', but every dictionary I own has either a definition involving moving on the belly or moving very slowly, or both. Also, WEENIE is a common alternative name for a hot dog. And would you complain that "John who founded a Fortune 500 company" and "DEERE" are two different, granted overlapping, things? There are other DEERE's, and there are other John's who founded a Fortune 500 company. Half the clues in every crossword are different, overlapping things. There are other parts of a tennis serve than a TOSS, and other TOSSES than part of a tennis serve (and so on)

@Dolgo - ECONO lodges are common in the the US. According to Wikipedia, there is oen in every US state, so not a regional thing either. Was EVONO a typo?

michiganman 7:50 AM  

I liked this a lot and enjoyed a satisfying solve. I tried to get the theme as I worked and it became clear at seeSAW. Can't help noticing the Cape Town clue in reference to Final Jeopardy last night (Erik's "answer"). BROMANCE was fun to get. I looked at that several times before getting it.

Z 7:52 AM  

FAQIR? WTF? FAQIR? I think I might have gotten the theme a lot sooner if it weren’t for FAQIR? I had the NE done and done correctly but could not figure out what the heck LOST LIkUID could be. I finally sussed out the theme at see-SAW, flew through the rest of the puzzle. I checked and rechecked all the crosses, tried sounding it out (went with a long I or maybe that would have worked) and finally caved. Seeing FAQIR was a big “Huh?” followed by a trip to the google machine. Having the top hits be FAkIR did not make me gruntled.

I disagree with the fill plaints. We have a few frequent flyers, but for the most part the short fill is not filled with Eno eating Oreos while watching erns with King Olaf, so the fill plaints strike me as sour grapes. @TomAZ - chill. “Crawl” has a worm as one example in the dictionary I checked. That “say” in the clue for SCREAMED is there specifically for wiggle room, you obviously forgot your parables on sowing, we all knew the reference on “Jayhawker,” we’ve already established that mic and mike are interchangeable, and I just can’t help you with WEENIE, a common variant of “wiener” a type of sausage more commonly referred to as a “hot dog.” In short, all those clues a perfectly cromulent.

@anon5:02 - You got it it. The T and F are near each other on the keyboard so if I mean “Fears” but type “Tears” it is a TYPO.

gcedwards10 8:16 AM  

Getting tired of this notion that has appeared to take hold among crossword constructors that you can stick “ECO” in front of any noun and clue it as “Green ——“. I’ve been practicing law for over 20 years and never once have heard or seen that “word” used. It’s just not a thing.

RavTom 8:24 AM  

I’m going to channel OFL. SeeSAW doesn’t fit the theme. In the other three themers, “see” isn’t a separate syllable.

@TomAz: ONMIKE is fine. “Mike” is a perfectly legitimate alternative spelling of “mic” according to most dictionaries, and I remember when it was the more standard spelling.

QuasiMojo 8:37 AM  

Very clever and challenging. Fascinating theme. I’m amazed Matt that you did this one in less than five minutes! Took me 23 and only because I got stuck in bottom right corner. My knowledge of German is non-existent and I thought ALT meant tall. Lol. But I managed to SLUG it out. @TomAZ, you never heard of a Weenie Roast?

I went with an old school friend once to see “Casablanca” at a revival house and halfway through he NUDGED me and asked “Which one is Humphrey Bogart?”

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

Ugh. I struggled mightily and not only on the very tricky reveal.

I'd rather SLUG a BRAVE OKIE than try to solve this sort of nonsense again.


GILL I. 8:48 AM  

Hi @Matt...Thanks for filling in but I had to pop over and read @Deb for an explanation of this head scratching puzzle.
Oh, for sure, I saw SEE SAW but that didn't help one single bit. That's a stand alone word. I go back upstairs and see PAGE and it didn't occur to me to figure out SEEPAGE. Don't even get me started on THE.
Solved this as a themeless and boy, do I hate that - especially when you know it's out in the wild waiting for you to snap it up. Ha Ha...catch me if you can.
I started off the bat thinking I was not going to like this. LIAM Hemsworth? 1A? 3D is a pretty big place. I needed to Google LIAM just to get started. Then Neville goes and throws in another PEPA in a crucial area - not to mention AKON. Fuming and huffing and puffing.
Of course I had the K in FAKIR but I also had the UID from 18A. Remembered somewhere that it could also be spelled with a Q. So I'm looking at the QUID and thought SQUID? Continuation of not enjoying the puzzle.
Finished it. Two Googles: LIAM and PEPA. Took another sip of latte. Looked at it and looked and looked. Said to myself there are some good entries here but I don't have a friggin clue what the damn theme is.
Don't you hate when that happens?

John Child 8:49 AM  

Fakir, the only term I recognize as a resident of the subcontinent for half my life, is more than twice as common as FAQIR according to google. But that’s the only complaint I have about this clever and well made puzzle. Well done Mr Fogarty. The TYPO TriO trap was especially exquisite.

Hungry Mother 8:52 AM  

Didn’t SEE the theme until I had GOUPANDDOWN. The other theme entries were just guesses at words that made sense together. On the one hand, I feel bad for not recognizing the theme earlier; on the other hand, I feel good that I got it done.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Can someone please explain in simple, direct words, the theme.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

So constructors use something like "Ecolaw" and someone Googles it and says "It's a thing." Google gnathion. It's a thing. Does that mean it belongs in a crossword puzzle?

You can get 20,000 hits on Google on a great many "things" that most people have never encountered or have heard about. Like gnathion. Google it. It's a thing in your body.

Odd Sock 9:04 AM  

Nothing exciting here. Fill in the missing "see". So what?
Gotta agree with the way @ TomAz 1:56 feels except the disseminating seeds in the middle of the street. I think doing that can get you arrested.
@ Rainbow 6:21, I thought we made it clear yesterday about Jeopardy spoilers. Thanks a lot, jerk.
Re: Casablanca, I'm not so sure any more about that movie. No one seems to want to point out that Ilsa was a faithless slut. Rick should have told her to f@%# off when she showed up as the damsel in distress after dumping him. She cheated on her husband so why trust her now?

Carola 9:22 AM  

Terrific theme. Loved it - once I SAW it. Me, too, for wondering about a "missing" SEE for the SAW of GO UP AND DOWN and then the penny dropping. Also had to change FAkIR and ScARFED, as well as I CAN dO.

@Will 12:57, I loved your "green pain" TYPO, as the answer does lead one to wince.

@Larry Gilstrap, yes, KALE will be going in my smoothie as soon as my husband wakes up and I can run our world's loudest blender. The trick is to mask it with a ton of fruit. Banana, pineapple, and strawberry are particularly effective.

Sir Hillary 9:26 AM  

More Thursdays like this, please. The challenge was wonderful. First time I have ever had to come here to figure out the theme of a puzzle I finished. Maybe it would have come to me if I stared a bit longer, but I doubt it.


Not only is the puzzle excellent, but the OTT vitriol in the comments is also quite fun. Nothing like a polarizing puzzle to keep the entertainment value high!

Nancy 9:26 AM  

And as my computer was slowly -- very slowly -- POWERing UP, I got it! Was coming here to find out what on earth was going on, and then I managed to SEE it. Whew! Sometimes having an old, slow computer can be a good thing. Because I was completely baffled during my entire, and very difficult solve. Would have helped immeasurably if I'd known the PEPA, MORITA, AKON PPP, but I knew none of them. Was tempted to cheat, but I didn't. Instead, I almost SCREAMED in frustration.

A really clever concept. Marred by the proper names. But some great clues -- BROMANCE being my favorite. Like Matt, I would have preferred my "Aha" Moment to have been mid-solve rather than after the fact. But at least I had an Aha Moment. Good, crunchy, imaginative Thursday.

Suzie Q 9:31 AM  

I don't know if I got the theme or not. I figured out where see should go but is there something that ties them together?
If there is I guess I'm too dense to get it.
The clue for snorkels was good but not much else I'm afraid.
I feel a bit cheated since I always have high hopes for Thursday.

PhiskPhan 9:36 AM  

I finished it without ever getting the theme. Then I read this column for an explanation -- which it took me a while to understand. So I didn't enjoy doing this at all.

Chloe Lambertin 9:38 AM  

The theme was one too twee for me.

Z 9:39 AM  

@Unknown8:55 - Take the word “See” and add it to the beginning of the referenced clue. The new word becomes the clue for the seemingly unclued answer. So, for 18 across you add “see” to the answer at 17 across, PAGE. The clue is now “seepage,” for which LOST LIQUID is the answer. THE becomes SEETHE, SAW becomes SEE-SAW, and KING becomes SEEKING.

@Anon8:56 - The crossworthiness of answers are debatable. Hence my pewit reference. I’d say multinational examples justify ECOLAW’s appearance. And stop giving constructors ideas. If gnathion appears in a puzzle now we’re all blaming you.

@Odd Sock - I could be wrong, but I think that while Rick and Ilsa were in Paris she thought her husband was dead. Besides, the whole self-sacrifice thing pointedly mitigates the adulterous undertones. Does she love Rick or was he just the rebound guy. Does she love Laszlo or does she go with him for the cause? And that whole subplot with the young wife asking Rick if it’s okay to screw Renault as a bribe to get the proper papers seems like a little foreshadowing, don’t you think? There’s a lot to chew on and the problematic elements seem to be there for a reason.

Dr. Haber 9:41 AM  

Thought the theme had to be a hidden article “the” when I saw In search of followed by king. In Search if the King is a book title. But did a slow burn when I saw the see theme.

crabsofsteel 9:47 AM  

BROMANCE was pretty good, but a lot of the cluing was too obscure ("ICANSO" is one example) so it did not sit well with me.

Nate C 9:53 AM  

Why is SAW "oft-repeated words." Am I just having a brain fart here?

GILL I. 10:02 AM  

@Odd Sock. Ilsa thought her husband was dead. She then fell in love with Rick while in Paris. When she discovered her husband Laszlo was still alive she did the honorable thing and left Rick. She never had the opportunity to tell Rick why. Slut? Never!
@Z....The letters of transit! Everything revolved around getting the visas to get to America. The romance circling the stolen visas is magnificent. And...of course Ilsa loved Rick!

Someone 10:02 AM  


Nancy 10:09 AM  

@RavTom (8:24) -- I also remember when MIKE was the preferred spelling -- indeed the only spelling -- and I continue to resist "MIC" every time it rears its ugly head.

Matt -- I thought everyone on the planet would have seen Casablanca at least once. It's on so many people's lists as Best Movie Ever and it's been popping up on TV screens ever since there were TV screens. Personally, I can easily name 30 movies I like more -- I've always thought it's way overpraised -- but certainly it's well worth seeing. Why not rent it, Matt? Do it now while you're thinking about it. To procrastinate is to forget :)

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Any erstwhile medical student is familiar with scut work: any "procedure" assignment which trickles down from resident to intern to student, such as collecting and testing bodily fluids and semisolids.

pabloinnh 10:20 AM  

The best part of tricky puzzles is that aha! moment when you SEE a wonderful trick like today's. Unfortunately, that never happened for me today, even after I had everything filled in correctly with no cheating. So now I have a doh! moment. There's nothing as annoying as an obvious truth.

At least I felt proud for knowing SCUT, not a word I use often.

Great puzzle.

Also, Red Sox.

Peter P 10:23 AM  

This puzzle destroyed me. I just got no traction with the theme, and even when I finally had the grid filled in after Googling several answers to help me along (I needed AKON and PEPA to unstick me), I still didn't get it. Had to go to the NYTimes blog to suss it out, and, even after the explanation, I don't really I like it. Usually, my reaction upon missing a theme is to smack myself in the head and go "oh, duh! How did I miss that" but this one I just groaned. Also stared at TYPO for Tears for Fears for the longest time and had to look that one up, too, afterwards on the blog. "Tears" for "Fears" seems like it would be a fairer clue, at least to me. I also didn't like ONMIKE, not because of the spelling ("mike" is perfectly fine and I thought preferred by style guides, although I spell it "mic" myself), but I didn't think being "on mike" had anything to do with whether a broadcast was live or not.

@Nate C - I missed that one, too, having SAy in there for some reason. After it properly filled itself in, I realized it's "saw" as in an "old saw," or an old saying/proverb. As in, "oh, not that old saw!"

wgh 10:34 AM  

This puz is what I love about Thursdays. Great job

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

The clue to 66 across could just as well have been "inseminated" as "disseminated".

lynx 10:56 AM  

Maybe it's just because I'm using an older iPad with an older OS, but am I the only one where the puzzle title is not shown on the app? Not that I would have caught on to the theme, anyway, but without having the title as a clue it was impossible!!

jau 11:07 AM  

If "tears" is a typo for "fears" then why the initial cap on Fears? Is the clue meant to be a dig at the pop rock group or a once-removed comment about wanting to rule the world? (Ha)

Agree with @TomAz about most of it although mike is ok for mic, as people have pointed out. Totally agree about slugs, having battled them myself.

I miss the precision and top-notch-ness that used to be the NYT puzzle. It's still better than most but it's going to h* in a handbasket along with so much else at the moment. :(

Karl Grouch 11:13 AM  


RooMonster 11:14 AM  

Hey All !
Another PuzDay, another Not-Grok-The-Theme day. Either constructors are getting ethereal, or the ole brain has decided not to bother with its job.

SEE. Well, I didn't. But now that I do, it does make for a cool theme. SCUT new here, too. Crossed with SEL a little unfair. Liked the DOOK GOUP.

Actual had a Triple DNF today, Not getting theme, Revealing Word for SCUT, and wrong letter, C for H at ScAM/cEM. Even though had no idea what a cEM was. HAR. Not SCREAMED I CAN SO, BRAVEly.

FAQIR faked me out at first, with a K for the Q. ACNE back, but with a different type clue. TYPO had a neat clue. KALE in a smoothie? Cookie TOSS. :-)

Eat dinner quickly? POWER SUP


Karl Grouch 11:15 AM  


Unknown 11:17 AM  

Saw = adage

JC66 11:18 AM  

@Old Sock

I think it's funny that you bemoan the Jeopardy spoiler (rightfully so) and then open up a big discussion of Casablanca, which @Matt will probably read.


Nothing wrong with your device. Only the Sunday NYT Xword has a title. One must figure out the gimmick for one's self,


You'd type Tears for Fears because you'd hold down the shift key when mistyping the "T" for the "F"

CDilly52 11:27 AM  

This was just a theme that I did not get. Eventually saw “seeTHE” (after the fact) and “seePAGE” but the theme breaks down at “seeSAW” first because it is hyphenated, but more importantly because SAW by itself can refer to “oft-repeated words” (as in “oh, that old SAW?”). Consequently, I am still somewhat confused. And I agree with one and all who have opined that some of the cluing was just poor. Hand up, TomAz wondering if the constructor and I share a common tongue! Whew, what a workout! Not a favorite for me.

Bob 11:29 AM  

No excuse for not having seen one of the all time greats-"Casablanca" so Matt, "This won't be the beginning of a beautiful friendship"

Rob 11:34 AM  

I hated everything about this puzzle, theme to fill. FAQIR is a bizarre variant of the standard transliteration. I understand the theme, but... why? Why are we prepending these clues with SEE? Theres neither an explicit hint nor a contextual reason for it. The topmost themer, impressively, combines both the bad theme and the bad fill. DO A SLOW BURN? That is word salad.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

@Odd Sock, Ilsa was told her husband had been killed. She turned to Rick out of a mix of emotions, which were not uncommon in wartime. I wouldn’t call her a “slut.” Grow up.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

@Nancy - my exact feelings about MIC. I would wager that this inferior spelling superseded the correct one because of its use as an abbreviation for MICrophone on electronic devices.

Happy that @Z took on @TomAZ's musings. Surely the phrase WEENIE roast is still in use?

Mr. Benson 11:44 AM  

How refreshing when there's a guest blogger. Rex would have complained that LOST LIQUID isn't an "in-the-language" phrase, been triggered by the toxic masculinity of FRAT and BROMANCE, and taken a swipe at Will Shortz. I like this better.

OffTheGrid 11:55 AM  

I submit that if one has all the right letters in all the right squares but has not and does not grok the theme theirself, that a solve has not occurred.

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

Wow, chock-full of personalized "my language" complaint. You've certainly found the blog for you. Your language, not the language. Go to Santa Cruz, slugs crawl - as do weenies, in The World, if not in your world.

Nate C 12:15 PM  

Wow. I'm shocked I've never ever used "saw" this way in my 37 years. Then again, I had also never heard the word "agita." Never mind, I don't know jack.

Bob Mills 12:15 PM  

Finished it without understanding the theme. I guess I'm good at crosswords but bad at puzzles.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

@TomAz - Agree with all your comments. Has the person who does the Pop Culture index posted yet?

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Actually, it is a thing. Used frequently in fact. It's likely who you're hanging out with. Check out #ecolaw. Also, your aggressive ignorance is one of the many things that unfortunately give "lawyers" a bad name.

pabloinnh 12:40 PM  

Re the mike/mic controversy: I see mic often enough as an abbreviation to finally acknowledge its legitimacy. However, if someone is wearing a mic, or mike, I have trouble thinking of it as being "miced up". Pretty sure the correct form would be "moused up", but neither image is pleasant.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Are you afraid you might learn something you don't already know? Google Google.

GHarris 12:56 PM  

Challenging but wonderfully entertaining. Got the theme toward the end of the solve and derived much satisfaction. Had to take it on faith that fakir could be spelled with a q. Feel quite proud of myself today.

Teedmn 1:10 PM  

I did very poorly on this puzzle. I love the theme, too bad I needed help to get it. And the middle west section did me in. I didn't get POWERS UP for "Boots" because PEPA was an unknown and SAW was about a mile over my head, as clued. I didn't get the "old SAW" reference until well after I finished.

I even wrote the non-cross-referenced answers in my margin to try and make sense of them. PAGE THE SAW KING! (Except I had a mistake in SAW and I'm not going to tell you about it, too embarrassing.)

FAkIR faked me out at first. Tears for Fears had me put int TriO first. My rabbit had a StUb of a tail for a while.

I loved the BROMANCE clue. And I just found another mistake - I looked at 54A when it was __U in the grid. I later filled that area in with the downs and had WiENIE in at 49A. NiU doesn't look very German, but one has to look first...

Great puzzle, Neville!

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

Peter P,
On mic is in fact used all the time in TV. ( I assume in radio too, though cant vouch). Im sure youve heard hot mic. That is also commonly used, but the difference is that hot mics pic up whoever or whatever makes a soumd. On mic is used specifically for purposeful ready to speak occassions.

jberg 1:55 PM  

I came here early (I'm walking my grandson to his school bus for the next two weeks, which involved getting to his house by 6:30. Makes for an early solve!) with only 17 comments, but didn't have time to post. Now I'm back and just read the other 58 (so far). What a clear demarcation between Group A) those who love figuring out a tough theme, and Group B) those who want the theme to be obvious, so that it will be an aid in solving. We Group Aers loved it, Group B not so much.

@Nancy, I'm with you on MIKE. No one said "mic" until much later; I mean you have to violate the rules of English pronunciation to get a long I there. (Similarly, I don't think anyone called the first line of a news story a "leed" until recently. I once had a very part-time job as a stringer for a weekly, and the style sheet had two paragraphs on how to write a lead, spelled that way.)

On the other hand, I'm getting to the age where I don't want to look dated, so I would probably write "mic" if the occasion arose. And you have to spell it that way if you want to say (mic drop).

Speaking of dated, the whole premise of "Casablanca" is that Nazis are bad. Isn't that rather 20th Century? (Hope not, really).

Lewis 1:56 PM  

Going on a little trip, by the way, back on Tuesday. Have a terrific weekend, all!

TJS 2:02 PM  

There is nothing wrong with misdirection in clues. For the record, I didnt get the theme until I had it explained here, but after running through the clues the first time, I knew I was in for a struggle, square by square, until somehow acheiving that "mind-meld" with the constructor. Got a few corners, re-filled the coffee cup, got a new take on a few of the clues,and finally got some momentum going. For me, this is the fun of solving, the challenge of finding what you didnt even think you knew.
@TomAz...In my opinion...All your objections are quibbles resulting from the fact that you didnt like the puzzle or get the theme. This is pretty much a pattern observed by Rex, so it's easy to contract. If he cant rip through the puzzle with no delays, he comes up with tortuous explanations for why the clues are "dumb, simplistic and stupid" etc. (See the past tuesday review.) I have enjoyed most of your contributions, so dont go "Full Rex" on us.

TJS 2:12 PM  

@OffTheGrid, Couldn't disagree more. Solving is having all the right letters in the right squares, without using the google, IMO. No theme solving required. Maybe its a bias of mine, but I never even look for theme until the puzzle is complete, or I'm totally flummoxed.

Anonymous 2:36 PM  


Let's start from the beginning.

SLUGs crawl. See Websters 1B:: to move slowly in a prone position without or as if without the use of limbs
The snake crawled into its hole.
The soldiers crawled forward on their bellies.

You're just flat out wrong.

SOWN - You do know that disseminate comes from latin "to scatter seed", right? Websters, 1A : to spread abroad as though sowing seed
disseminate ideas

You couldn't be more wrong.

SCREAMED - You're right, up til you get to "it's not a valid cluing mechanism". Maybe not on Monday, but later week it absolutely is. Just because you can come up with an analogous but ridiculous example you haven't made your case.

OKIE - you're mad that they clued a late 19th century term with an early 20th century term? You don't know that an out of date clue signals an out of date answer?

ON MIKE - As others have pointed out, ON MIC would be the current more common version. That doesn't make ON MIKE wrong.

WEENIE Weenie = weiner = hot dog = dog.

Syndicate Bob 3:37 PM  

As an aficionado of the movie Casablanca I recommend the commentary (alternative soundtrack) by Roger Ebert. In the final scene, the airplane in the background is just a painted piece of plywood. To make it appear larger the director used very small extras who had appeared in the Wizard of Oz carry luggage in front of it. Add a little fog and no one is the wiser.

Hungry Mother 3:57 PM  

I remember gathering night crawlers early in the morning on the first day of trout season.

Doug Garr 4:26 PM  

Matt, just effin go see Casablanca already. It is in the top 10 of all time American movies. And it has the most quotable and memorable screenplay. Very hard to find it at a revival house on the big screen. But see it anyway. I hated this puzzle because I couldn't figure out the theme while I was solving it. In fact, I still didn't get it until you explained it.

Anonymous 4:42 PM  

“Muslim” is spelled incorrectly in the blog post title FYI

lynx 5:31 PM  

@JC66: thanks for the explanation! Clearly, I'm new to non-Sunday puzzles!

Anonymous 6:56 PM  

@Anonymous 4:42 - Thanks. Hopefully I don't get fired for fixing that since Rex only really gave us mods permission to screen out the commentaritrolls.

Anonymous 7:52 PM  

***** best thursday in some time

sara 8:50 PM  

doesnt anyone mind the clue for 63A -- brave = not yellow? seems racist to me (and i'm not usually triggered by this stuff)

JC66 9:30 PM  


Please read this,

Nancy 9:47 PM  

@jberg 1:55 -- Actually, the new atrocity is LEDE, not LEED. And, of course, through most of my lifetime and yours, it was LEAD. A fine, accurate, uncomplicated and completely descriptive word. Why LEDE, of all peculiar concoctions? It's not descriptive of anything. Who changed it? Who had the authority to change it? Is it somehow related to Reddi-Whip, Bud Lite and other deliberate product misspellings? Is anyone monitoring the dictionary? Where's Noah when we need him?

T Man 9:54 PM  

I have been reading this blog for years and feel that many of you are friends. I have never posted because I always did puzzles long after the published date. But now I have caught up, having completed this puzzle AND got the theme. That doesn’t happen too often. I enjoyed the puz, thought the theme was very clever, so thank you Mr Fogarty. I’ll try and be more original on my next post.

Adam 10:03 PM  

I solve on paper. FAKIR is the correct spelling. Never saw FAQIR before today. Totally didn’t get the theme until I came here; wish I had gotten it without having to look, but it was lost on me. The puzzle felt harder than it was, mostly because the theme answers didn’t make any sense. Ah well. This got a big “Meh” from me - glad I finished (except for the Q) and glad it’s over, but I didn’t really enjoy it.

Peter P 10:52 PM  

@Nancy - I don't know how recent for you is "new," but I went to J-School in the early-mid 90s, and it was "lede" back then. So it's at least 25 years old.

GILL I. 10:58 PM  

@JC66 9:30...Gracias amigo... I'm, so tired of using the [sigh]...
@T Man. Give yourself a little blue name, or better yet, an avatar. It's free with a Google account. We need some new blood and you don't have to be original ... ;-)

Greg 12:03 AM  

I am so sick of all the rappers "names" in crosswords now. I do not follow the genre, I do not enjoy it, and I do not know the "artists". There is no inferring a "name" like PEPA or AKON. And rappers specifically mis-spell or alternate-spell their names for style or effect, so it could literally be any combination of vowels and consonants. I suppose someday a rap "artist" will call themselves ASONOAN, or some such, and then we'll be expected to know that as well.

CDilly52 1:55 AM  

I disagree with your groupings. That one does not immediately understand a theme does not necessarily equate with also disliking the puzzle (at least for me). I think most of the posts about not grokking the theme connect that thought to the specific weakness of this particular theme. For others, @Bib Mills (12:15pm) sums it up nicely by opining that one may be good st crosswords and bad at puzzles.

Anonymous 2:38 AM  

@Nancy - I’m sure someone here could weigh in more definitively, but it’s my understanding that some journalistic authority deliberately sanctioned the misspelling of “lead” to forestall the potential for ambiguity.

David G. 3:17 AM  

According to my dictionary, MIC was first used for microphone in 1961, so it’s hardly a new usage. My dad was a recording engineer in the 1960s, and when I first saw someone spell it MIKE, I thought they were completely ignorant. Funny how people mask their own ignorance by assuming that others are...

@Peter, Thank you.I went to journalism school in the 1980s, and the top of a story was always the LEDE.

Anonymous 3:37 AM  

"The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out." Worms--and slugs--definitely crawl. Heck, even cars and traffic crawl. The "limb" claim is silly.

Crosswords, by their nature, use secondary and tertiary meanings and tangential definitions. It's what makes them fun. To borrow your phrase, your comment makes me wonder if we share a common past-time...

Anonymous 3:43 AM  

Then you know it's Johannes Vermeer. Different artist than Jan van der Meer, who is mostly known for his landscapes.

Anonymous 3:53 AM  

What's the point of verifying comments if ones like this are approved?

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

Per Oxford English Dictionary: Origin
1950s: alteration of lead, first used in instructions to printers, in order to distinguish the word from text to be printed.

Anonymous 7:39 PM  

I loved it. But still don't understand how SAW is an oftrepeated word?????

Is it bc of the SAW movies?

joebloggs 7:47 PM  

No one uses snarfed down except once or twice a year in NYT xword puzzles. It’s SCARFED down. And Tears for Fears as typo is incredibly misleading. Just stop it.

joebloggs 7:49 PM  

Yes but incredibly misleading. If you aren’t thinking of the pop duo you’re just wrong. End of.

spacecraft 11:54 AM  

Not medium, not challenging: IMPOSSIBLE! There was no way I was going to get this if I stared at it for a hundred years. Perhaps I might have gotten it in fifty if I hadn't been locked into Pink and fake. Like I said before, once you say "rapper" my eyes glaze over. I got the Dutch guy wrong too; I was thinking Mies for some dumb reason. It just wasn't gonna happen for me today.

Burma Shave 12:12 PM  


while INSEARCHOF a WEENIE she’d like,
but she SCREAMED (BLEEP) about a MIST turn


rondo 12:32 PM  

ONLY one write-over square at THE middle of FAkIR. Damned Q. ONLY one other commenter noticed SEL and PEPA on the same line? C’mon.

@joebloggs – You are THE one who’s wrong. First of all it’s either ScARFED or SNARFED (latter preferred in these parts). Secondly, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith are THE main guys, but Tears for Fears is a typical four-piece band that more often than not includes additional musicians. I’ve seen them. So there. Common mis-direct with TYPO as Mr. Fogarty is wont to do. SEE SEE.

Dominatrix IRENE Adler as portrayed by Lara Pulver = yeah baby.

Fun puz if you could SEE through the trick.

Diana, LIW 1:28 PM  

After some help with the PPP, I finished this last night. Then, stared for a while this morning until I could "see" the issue. Ha ha.

I too wanted FAkIR. What the Q?

Agree with @Spacey on the rapper/eye blur issue. How many rapper-savvy folks do the NYTCP? How many non-rapper folks? Huh? Huh? Yeah, that's right.

Lady Di

rainforest 1:55 PM  

Hardly "medium" here. I thought I was doomed for a long time, but I entered everything I "knew" (later having to over-write ScAM and FAkIR), and whaddayaknow? I had enough of 26A to "see" DO A SLOW BURN, and then seeTHE, and I got it. That let me parse seePAGE and thus LOST LIQUID. Bye-bye K. The last two were a little harder but at least I knew what I was looking for.

I actually got GO UP AND DOWN before seeSAW, so there's that, too.

The SE was very hard to see because of ON MIKE (weird), and AKON (who dat?), but it all came together. Very proud here. Nice gimmick.

thefogman 6:44 PM  

It took me while but I finally got the gimmick. But only after completing the whole puzzle. And with a fair bit of difficulty. Very enjoyable aha! moment. Great puzzle.

leftcoastTAM 8:23 PM  

Most annoying puzzle features in my book: Cross-references, plethora of PPPs, especially rappers, and today's hidden theme. Put them all together, and you've (I've) got a loser.


Unknown 9:45 PM  

Never seen Casablanca? You’re not even alive

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