Vain queen who boasted she was more powerful than / WED 10-3-18 / Presidential perk until 1977 / Where river meets sea / She responds to voice commands / Where Cassiopeia rules prior to her banishment / Rank for Jay Landsman on The Wire

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Constructor: Jennifer Nutt

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (maybe easy, but I just woke up...) (4:10)

THEME: POSEIDON (41D: God who banished 63-Across to the sky, as depicted by the constellation formed by the X's in this puzzle's finished grid) — theme answers are basic mythology trivia, and then there are five Xs that I guess look like the constellation CASSIOPEIA —since it's completely non-iconic, I googled it, and yeah, it checks out:

Theme answers:
  • CASSIOPEIA (63A: Vain queen who boasted that she was more beautiful than 18-Across)
  • THE NEREIDS (18A: Sea nymphs, in Greek mythology) 
  • ETHIOPIA (3D: Where 63-Across ruled prior to her banishment)
Word of the Day: BRYCE (48A: Utah's ___ Canyon) —
Bryce Canyon National Park (/brs/) is an American national park located in southwestern Utah. The major feature of the park is Bryce Canyon, which despite its name, is not a canyon, but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views for park visitors. Bryce Canyon National Park is much smaller, and sits at a much higher elevation than nearby Zion National Park. The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,400 to 2,700 m). (wikipedia)

• • •

[N.B.: I did this write-up under the impression that the constellation in question was POSEIDON—please see POSEIDON clue to try to understand my confusion; anyway, my bad, the constellation is CASSIOPEIA, sometimes 5am blogging goes wrong, sometimes blogging goes wrong period. Good day] I have never heard of the constellation POSEIDON. Never thought out it. I mean, why not, there are scads of constellations, but it's not like the guy comes up as a constellation in regular conversation or (before today) crosswords or anything. I vaguely knew the story of CASSIOPEIA but honestly I mostly relied on the fact that I've been soaking in the world of literature and mythology for decades and all the names (like THE NEREIDS) are super-familiar to me, even when I can't exactly remember why. ETHIOPIA is a new bit of trivia to me. I clearly must not have paid much attention to the CASSIOPEIA myth before. When I finished this puzzle, I thought it was just an assortment of mythical answers, ho-hum. Then I connected the Xs. Still ho-hum, as that constellation pattern means nothing to me. Do other people really know off the top of their heads what the constellation POSEIDON looks like. Good for you, I guess. But it's less than satisfying to finish with what looks like an arbitrary shape drawn on your grid. Google image search confirms the shape's accuracy. But it's just five Xs. Kind of a shrug. But puzzle-wise, this one's still light years better than yesterday's monstrosity. This grid is much cleaner, and at least this grid *has* a revealer. Yesterday's not only lacked one, but couldn't have found one if it tried because the concept was meaningless. Sorry, still not over it. Go ahead and love Broadway all you want, but as a *puzzle*, that was junk. This one, tolerable.

I flew through this one, with hardly any answers slowing me down (weird moment where I wanted Snowden (20A: EXILED) to be EX-PAT and then ran into that same answer later in the grid) (40A: An American abroad). But it wasn't til I tried to get to the SW that I had any trouble, and then I had a bunch of it. It was all concentrated around BRYCE, which I completely forgot. I kept thinking of AYERS Rock, for some reason (better known now as ULURU), and then even after getting BRY- I was thinking BRYER, which is absurd. Didn't help that AUSTERE was very slow to fill in (44A: Like Brutalist architecture)—needed half the crosses easy before I could see it. And then I had an opposite-of-fortuitous mistake that really caused things to seize up: had -EM at 58A: Nonhumanities subjects, for short and wrote in CHEM. Stupid brain processed the clue wrong—it's "subjects," plural!!! Ugh. Anyway, CHEM messed me up good, especially because it added a seemingly plausible "C" to the already impossible-to-spell FUCHSIAS (38D: Purplish-red flowers). Rounding out the trouble was 45D: Handle (SEE TO), which could've been a verb or a noun and could've had a million meanings, so pfft. Changing CHEM to STEM was my final move.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 6:06 AM  

It's the constellation CASSIOPEIA, not POSEIDON. But it's one of the less interesting looking northern constellations, and the Xs don't even really look that much like it (the right end is really cramped and at too wide an angle).

This one went fast for me (3:21) despite solving it first thing in the morning, but I also kept zoning out while I was doing it. Finished at the R in OVER/REND, and got briefly slowed down because I could have sworn I'd already done 7D (almost the same clue as 5D).

Lewis 6:17 AM  

The puzzle is very clean, even with the rendering of the constellation on top of the theme. I would have liked some trickiness/wordplay in the cluing, as I've grown to look forward to on Wednesday. My favorite clue was for KNEE, where I was looking for a location rather than body part.

And what are the chances? Last week, one of the Jeopardy answers was Pleiades, and I incorrectly called out "Casseopeia!" And here she is again, twice in less than two weeks, after being EXILED from my consciousness for many a decade.

John 6:17 AM  

Just a note that the constellation represented is Cassiopeia, not Poseidon.

puzzlehoarder 6:33 AM  

A little on the easy side for a Wednesday. Under what I think is my average time and if I remember correctly still a little slower than yesterday.

Issues with the theme were, not being sure of spelling such as with NEREIDS or a combination of spelling and not recognizing a word off a partial as with CASSIOPEA. POSEIDON I had no issues with.

The fill today was much more user friendly than yesterday. The NW corner where I started was about as tricky as it got. Wether the A or the H of DAHL comes first is something I apparently still haven't resolved. Plain old MALL gave me THEM and HOAX to quickly settle that but it's still the slow way to sort out a section.

With the easy fill hopefully there won't be so much whining today.

marty 6:56 AM  

My sole error was the pick-a-vowel lottery where thenErieds crossed Enoki. Two foreign I'm just not familiar with.

Suzie Q 7:01 AM  

Yes, a rather boring cluster of stars but then I have always had trouble seeing the images of constellations. I still love them though.
I hope commenters read before they post or we are in for a million people rushing to try to be the first to correct Rex.
It seems like we have been seeing "the" in the grid a lot lately. When is it OK and when is it not?
Nice fill today with estuary, fuchsias, austere, and solaces.
Snarf was scarf at first. Both kinda bug me.

BarbieBarbie 7:01 AM  

CASSIOPEIA is the most easily recognizable constellation in the northern night sky, after the Big Dipper. It’s how you know where the Milky Way is. People in light-polluted cities can see it. @Rex is showing his age. Too much Nintendo, not enough real-world as a kid.
That said- I don’t like paragraph-long clues, so I buzz over them unless I need them, so I didn’t see the X connections until going to the NYT website. Stupid, because I did notice there were a lot of Xs. Missed the Aha, DNF. nice idea for a puzzle.

td 7:06 AM  

And it's a good constellation—simple, elegant, easy to find. Though, agreed, it may not look like much overlaid on a crossword puzzle . . .

clk 7:14 AM  

Hey Rex, please correct the blog. Even your picture shows that the name of the constellation is Cassiopeia.

kitshef 7:20 AM  

Nice, educational midweek puzzle. Nothing I’ll remember for very long, but entertaining for the day.

Definitely could have lived without the grid art, which added nothing to the solve for me.

Nice to see EVITA as a little bonus carryover.

Rex says he just woke up, but I think he may still be asleep. Not only is POSEIDON not the constellation represented, but there is no constellation called POSEIDON.

SJ Austin 7:32 AM  

Ah, so here's the Tuesday puzzle for this week.

QuasiMojo 7:32 AM  

CASSIE is the star of “A Chorus Line” so the carryOVER is deeply embedded. :) as for the puzzle, classic.

Hungry Mother 7:36 AM  

Impressed myself how fast I flew through this one. The many Xes helped the journey. Second time I’ve seen SXSW and remembered that Southwest was part of it and had the X.

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

But I just woke up, but I had a few glasses of wine. Face it, by definition no one can be at peak performance everyday.

Rainbow 7:51 AM  

Mine, too. I guessed wrong, twice!

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

This is the most blatant example yet of Rex not liking a puzzle simply because he’s never heard of something. Just because you’ve never heard of it does not mean it’s irrelevant, if not wildly popular or well-known. I’m not knowing the constellation is actually Cassiopeia, he’s really showing his cards

michiganman 8:07 AM  

I liked this. ScARF before SNARF, fOol before HOAX, both easily fixed. Naticked at ENOKI/THENEREIDS. SOLACE as a verb is real but I don't think I've seen it used as such. Same with HOAX. The clue for 41D could have been more clearly written. I was confused like Rex. Without knowledge of the constellations or mythology I just figured "OK". ALEXA sounds like a car name or a drug. I took ALEXA for my anxiety so I could drive to the concert in my KIA ALEXA.

Andy Updegrove 8:07 AM  

Lest it go unnoted, kudos to the constructor for coming up with a gimmick that I (at least) have never seen before - a constellation represented in a puzzle. And the theme clues are interesting, spot on, and not so easy to fit into a grid given their length. Nice.

mmorgan 8:12 AM  

Pretty good overall, if a bit easy for a Wednesday. But the X's... neat construction trick, I guess, but did they really help anybody solve the puzzle?

GILL I. 8:15 AM  

An adult Wed. that taxed my spelling abilities...nevertheless, I enjoyed this hump day puzzle and actually didn't want it to end.
Love me some mythology and love me constellations. Like @Barbie B, I noticed the x's but unlike her, I love to draw and immediately knew it was one of the most widely known (to me) constellations. CASSIOPEIA. Look for it if you ever go to Tahoe in the winter. The sky is lit up with twinkles everywhere. I'll show you the Milky Way a well.
I know I'm full of the love word today but I'm going to add FUCHSIAS to the list. Although I can't seem to spell them, they are so beautiful. Hummingbirds (my other favorite little critter) pollinate them.
I was hoping @Rex would explain why STEM or what STEM at 58A means. Why is STEM...nonhumanities subjects?
My other smile, but wrong answer, was wanting the 53A to be FROLICS. Our pups are always LEASHED but one you rattle the little chain, they frolic like mad.
Enjoyable puzzle, Jennifer Nutt. Thanks for some nice images in my head to start what is promising to be our first rainy day.

GILL I. 8:18 AM  

I meant to add:
@Roo late yesterday....Thanks for the cocktail hour giggle. Wheelhouse and all...;-)

TomAz 8:29 AM  

Constellations aren't my thing -- after the Dippers and Orion, I can never see any of them. But they are a thing nonetheless and hence valid xword stuff. Didn't know CASSIOPEIA but the fill was pretty easy and this didn't take me long.

Monday 8:20, Tuesday 8:23, Wednesday 8:17 -- a weird puzzle week for me so far.

Shafty 8:31 AM  

I’m familiar with the story of Cassiopeia from Clash of the Titans. The old one, with Harry Hamlin, Burgess Meredith, Maggie Smith, Laurence Olivier.

Oh, and Judi Bowker as Andromeda. Man, I sure had a crush on her for years....

Lewis 8:34 AM  

@andy -- There have been a couple of Big Dippers represented in NYT puzzles: 1/7/96 and 5/22/18.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

Well, he wasn't excited but he seemed to like it OK, no big rant.

David 8:44 AM  

Love this puzzle. Love the concept and the references. Blew right through it.

Rex, H.A. Rey (of Curious George fame) published a wonderful book of constellations, still available. You may want to avail yourself of a copy.

pmdm 8:55 AM  

Today's puzzle left me with neutral feelings, better thanegg on the face which is what Mr. Sharp has. We all make mistakes, so no big deal.

Andy Updegrove: Go to There's a link to another puzzle with the same gimmick (the Big Dipper). Surprised the duplication did not beget a rant in the write-up. Published so close together, it does seem a bit odd. Will Shortz, were you sleeping when you choose the publication date of this puzzle?

Cassieopia 8:57 AM  

Yes, yes, yes, I know what you are thinking, crossword humans behave in such a predictable manner. Only one of the ten fingers need slip, and the magical cobwebs will see to it that my screen name is misspelled in perpetuity.

I am Cassiopeia, idol of the heavens, ruler over stars, despite the fact that Poseidon leashed me to this cursed throne. ‘Tis not a hoax; despite my age, I remain more beautiful than the Nereids, as is my daughter, who inherited my genes. Poor girl, I had to fasten her to a rock with laces, else Ethiopia would suffer high tides, be transformed into an estuary, and we would be forced to travel its environs via yacht.

But my enemies won, and by trick exiled me to the celestial sphere, presumably so that I could examine and reflect upon my hubris in an austere surrounding, with no solaces and no hope of exit.

However, I remain an unrepentant expat, suspended in the gap between galaxies, looking down upon them without one iota of remorse or regret. It is beautiful here, I sit on my throne, reveling in the unripe tests of time, a beautiful bouquet of fuchsiasresting on my knee (thank you, Orion), and daintily sipping my grog. It is a fabulous existence, would you not agree?

mbr 9:00 AM  

science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (as an educational category): the academy is seeking to appoint a Teaching and Learning Coordinator for STEM subjects.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), previously Science, Math, Engineering and Technology (SMET), is a term used to group together these academic disciplines.[1] This term is typically used when addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools to improve competitiveness in science and technology development. It has implications for workforce development, national security concerns and immigration policy.

pabloinnh 9:15 AM  

I looked at the grid and thought, wow, if we just had an x here, here, here, here, and here, and I drew a line connecting them, we'd have a neat representation of a famous constellation. Hope there's some Greek mythology in there to tie things together. Hope FUCHSIA doesn't show up, I can never spell it. So mostly good news. Bonus:SNARF. Great word.

Hoping our own Cassiopeia comments. I bet she had less trouble spelling that than I did.

Unknown 9:20 AM  

I like the idea of creating a constellation on the grid. Would have been more clever if instead of an “X, the constructor used an “*” for a “STAR” rebus. Any constructors out there feel free to use the idea. BTW, I taught my kids at an early age to identify Cassiopeia as the big W in the sky. Rex is knowledgeable in so many areas, it surprises me when he shows a huge gap in what I consider basic knowledge. We need more focus on STEM learning in our schools.

Crimson Devil 9:22 AM  

STEM=Science,Technology, Engineering and Math.
I actually guessed right re “e” in mushroom x nymphs; not my habit.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

I’m pretty sure Rex is being sarcastic about the name of the constellation. It’s clued under 41D, not 63A.

Brian 9:52 AM

Z 9:54 AM  

Fine, if slightly esoteric, theme. It’s hard to not consider the myth of a vain leader damned to being chained to her chair for eternity as a sub-tweet.

PPP Analysis
Pop culture, Product names, and other Proper nouns as a percentage of the puzzle. Anything over 33% typically will give some subset of solvers problems with the solve.

Today’s puzzle has a couple of interesting PPP features. First, some answers that aren’t necessarily PPP are made PPP by their clues (SGT, S.T.E.M, and AUSTERE). Second, there is a huge difference between the across and down answers. Given the PPP nature of the theme, having so little PPP in the downs helps this be a fair puzzle. The total is 22/78, 28%.

The List

Ronald DAHL
EXILED Edward Snowden
SGT. Jay Landsman
IDA Tarbell
AUSTERE Brutilist Architecture
BRYCE Canyon
Prince William’s SON Prince George

GUS Van Sant
ANN Beattie
Alexander POPE
IAN McEwan

Dawn Urban 9:59 AM  

Austin's SXSW is one to commit to memory, as is the spelling of FUCHSIAS, though it is rarely used in puzzles. Excited to learn about Presidential YACHTs, prior to 1977!

Tuesday's puzzle took double of today's time to solve!

TSG 9:59 AM  

Blatant? Thought he sorta liked the puzzle. Seems that this reaction is the most blatant example yet of Rex bashing.

Z 10:02 AM  

@anon9:35 - I often chide people for taking Rex too literally, but this morning he just whiffed. It happens.

NeilD 10:05 AM  

The constellation is Cassiopeia, not Poseidon, and it is incredibly iconic. It spends half its time as a W and half as M; the mythological interpretation is that the constellation is her throne and Cassiopeia spends half her time upside down as Poseidon's punishment for her boasting.

pabloinnh 10:10 AM  

@Cassiopeia-I should have known. Thanks, now my day is complete.

Peter P 10:23 AM  

Yay. Finally finished one cleanly this week, at my usual Wednesday time. I know something like five constellations (in terms of finding them and pointing them out in the sky), and CASSIOPEIA is one of them. It's the big W in the sky. I'd certainly call it one of the iconic constellations in the Northern Hemisphere. Of course, here in Chicago, we probably only can see about five constellations due to all the light pollution. (Orion, Cassiopeia, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor [harder to see completely, and maybe just the "dipper" subsets of the last two], and, well, maybe it's only just those four that I know. I feel like I should know Scorpius, too, but I can't quite remember it now.)

Preferred Customer 10:33 AM  

@suzieq I'm with you. Scarf to snarf and unhappy with both.

GHarris 10:38 AM  

I always scarfed down my food. Never heard of snarf and had to resort to check puzzle feature to find out where I had gone wrong. Otherwise quite doable.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

There is no SNARF used in the world we inhabit. We scarf things down... sure. No one snarfed last night's dinner. It sounds like a term Kavanaugh would have used in high school for something obscene that he would now swear under oath was part of yet another drinking game. Boo!

Hartley70 10:52 AM  

I didn’t know a single thing about CASSIOPEIA, THENEREIDS, or what POSEIDON had to do with the story. My sack of knowledge has a mythological hole! I tried Cleopatra first. ETHIOPIA thrown into the mix is just too strange. Luckily my ignorance made this an interesting and surprising Wednesday, although I finished in a usual Wednesday time.

I was surprised to see SOLACE used as a verb. SOLACES just sounds wrong.

Didn’t we just learn that a group of ELK is a GANG? I think we should save our herds for the elephants.

Joseph Michael 10:54 AM  

I prefer wordplay over trivia, so this puzzle did not AGREE with me, though it is well constructed.

Had a hell of a time spelling FUCHSIAS and failed to get the correct spelling of THE NEREIDS since my mushroom was an anoki.

Given the clue for 60A, would it be accurate to say that Mr. Trump is an UNRIPE President?

Banana Diaquiri 10:58 AM  

any liberally educated person knows BRYCE canyon, esp. anyone interested in color landscape photos. they dominate mall knick-knack shops. calendars and framed photos and framed velvet paintings. outside of B/W Ansel Adams, likely the most sold landscape object there is.

Nancy 10:59 AM  

Why are you asking me to draw again? I've already told you I don't draw or connect dots on puzzles. And even if I had drawn the whatever-it-is, I wouldn't recognize that constellation if I fell over it.

Very, very boring clues. Ho-hum fill. A few hard-to-spell answers were the only thing that gave this puzzle any interest at all. Well, OK, I did wonder what the Presidential perk that was ended in 1977 was. Forgot that there used to be a YACHT. Why was it taken away, I wonder? Couldn't cost more than Air Force One being flown all over the country for a different rally every night of the week, could it? Or does he travel on his own private plane? Anyway, a boring puzzle, livened up by a blood test, sans breakfast and coffee, mid-solve. I'm awake now.

emily 11:00 AM  

And STEM is pretty common now a days, in its campaign to engage girls. I finished this before bed (PST) & was disappointed there wasn’t a post up yet...took a while for it to come up this am. Also couldn’t spell fushsias but liked the puzzle.

jberg 11:06 AM  

Since @Rex searched for the image of the constellation, and came up with the right one, I'm pretty sure hew knows it's CASSIOPEIA, and pretending to think it was POSEIDON is one of his jokes. Only I can't figure out what's funny about it -- maybe he means that the whole constellation thing is too obscure for a puzzle, but that's ridiculous.

That said, now that we have her image, I really don't think Cassie was right to claim that she's more beautiful than the Nereids. Unless you've got some sort of W fetish.

Also, is SOLACES really a verb? Other than that, I thought it was a great puzzle.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

How many minutes/hours until you realized that the theme is Cassiopeia and not Poseidon? smh

Kath320 11:17 AM  

I refuse to accept SNARF for 37A. A hamburger joint where I grew up had the nickname "Scarf and Barf," so there.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Cassiopea is one of the most iconic constellations. And the five x's are actually a fantastic representation. Dismissing them with he feigned generosity of, " ...five Xs that I guess look like the constellation CASSIOPEIA..." just makes you look petty.

Malsdemare 11:28 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Banana Diaquiri 11:37 AM  

well... I remembered Carter, he of the warming cardigan, dumping the yacht. I guess it didn't fit his frugal persona. at the time, I didn't know that it wasn't the first and only US Presidential yacht. the wiki has the full story. this last one had a depressing history. MAGA, and bring back a yacht for the President!!! he deserves one.

Sir Hillary 11:40 AM  

Snoozer. Would have been a cool Thursday had the X's been [STAR]s in a rebus format.

However, it was interesting to learn (a) that CASSIOPEIA ruled ETHIOPIA and (b) that there used to be a Presidential YACHT.

SOLACES? Not good. Even worse when sharing a grid with LACES.

TJS 11:43 AM  

I have to stop in the first paragraph of Rex' review. The Lit Doc, "soaking in the world of literature and mythology for decades", who read The Great Gatsby for the first time two years ago. I know I keep bringing this up, but I just cant get over it.
Now, back to his comments.

RooMonster 11:51 AM  

Hey All !
Seemed I got all the X words first, and thinking, "Boy, there are sure a lot of X'S". Then saw 42D clue, and said, "Ah, so that's why".
I say alot to myself. :-)

Decent puz, if a tad easy for Wednesday. Actually liked the constellation representation in the grid. But I wasn't sure whether to connect the two upper X's or not, so I did, and now it looks like upside down mountains. AH ME. AH I? A ONE. :-)

26D, what an odd name, ANC. Or is it initials, like JRR Tolkien? Don't know that writer. But y'all KNEW I COPS to not being well read. I'm OVER it. THEMs the breaks.
OK, I'll GET DONE with the quote-answers-reply. AGREE? 😀

Not too much dreck. Good puz filler till Tricksy Thursday. Hopefully it's crunchy. Har.


gfrpeace 11:58 AM  

I learned stargazing from my father, Walter, who never failed to point out the great double-u up in the sky.

Malsdemare 12:08 PM  

Can I comment here about complaints about the limits of Rex's literature knowledge? Getting a PhD means you learn one thing really, really well. My degree is in Speech Communication, which encompasses rhetoric, philosophy of language, public relations, political campaigns, public speaking, organizational communication and more, about which I know zilch. But ask me about communication and dementia or personal relationships and then sit yourself down for an hour or two. I know Rex doesn't need any defense, but it’s useful to at least put his knowledge gaps in context.

I think I need to put Bryce Canyon on my bucket list. I've done lots of travel in the SW, but it’s rough getting to all of Utah's amazing spots. And for those who've never seen the night sky as it’s meant to be seen, spend a night at Chaco Culture National Monument. 70 miles from the nearest lights, it can seem like you can see, not just our very own Milky Way, but distant galaxies as well. Glorious.

Amelia 12:14 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 12:17 PM  

For you early commenters, Rex has posted an update.

Amelia 12:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 12:40 PM  

Congratz to our own Comment Gallery @Cassieopia [aka Cassiopeia, aka Poseidon]. Cool to be the starrin role in a puztheme.

Big W constellation is memorable, if U ever took a star-gazin class like M&A once did. Seems like we had some minor trouble spottin it, becuz it was pretty low in the sky, when the class took place. Don't believe I ever knew about the ETHIOPIA connection or her workplace mistreatment by POSEIDON, so sorta learned new stuff, there.

Solid fillins in this puz ... with faves: FUCHSIAS. ESTUARY. SNARF.
staff weeject picks: ANN & ANO, symmetrically placed.

Thanx for the theme spellin challenges & the fun, Jennifer Nutt darlin.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


TJS 12:44 PM  

@Malsdemare, I agree that having a doctorate in a particular subject does not mean that you are familiar with every aspect of a particular field. But I think it is fair to assume that having that degree implies that you have atleast a passing familiarity with the classic standards and studies in the field. I would assume that there are such classic texts in your field.
Having a doctorate in Literature implies that, you know, you have read a lot of books, like one universally considered to be the following : " The Great Gatsby is widely considered to be a literary classic and a contender for the title "Great American Novel". In 1998, the Modern Library editorial board voted it the 20th century's best American novel and second best English-language novel of the same time period."
OK, I'm done and I'm going to try to stop freaking out about it.

Warren Howie Hughes 12:47 PM  

Rex, So what, pray tell me, does Nonhumanities subjects @ 58A stand for, for short? Please 'splain...

Banana Diaquiri 12:48 PM  

Forgot to mention that there are two identical clues. 5Down and 7Down. Really? What's up with that?

not unusual. usually threads theme answers together.

Malsdemare 12:51 PM  

updated to correct errors.
Here's your Navajo lesson of the day. In the Navajo creation story, First Man carefully tried to place all the stars in the sky, but was thwarted when Coyote, the trickster, got impatient and shook the rug on which she had laid them all carefully, tossing everything willy-nilly into the night. But before her handiwork was destroyed, she had placed Whirling woman (CASSIOPEIA) amd Whirling Man (Ursa Major) in the sky where they revolved slowly around the Hearth (North Star). The lesson was that man and woman shoukd stay together tending the home fires. I've wrecked the poetry of the tale, and perhaps the seriousness of the message, but you get the idea. (From "Diné Bahanè" by my dear friend, Paul Zolbrod.)

I love having my early lessons in mythology resurrected so this one was just wonderful. I finished it way too quickly, but enjoyed every minute. I did not recall that POSEIDON was involved in CASSIOPEIA's banishment, and ETHIOPIA was really hard to recall. But wow! Our constructor today really got some great stuff into this one.

Warren Howie Hughes 12:52 PM  

Rex, I did just espy that you're still raking poor Paul Coulter over the coals for his Tuesday Xword offering...Cut the man some slack, will ya?

Teedmn 12:57 PM  

CASSIOPEIA is one of the constellations I use to locate Polaris so I am well acquainted with that one and it is usually visible in my night sky, in spite of the encroaching light pollution as the Twin Cities expands. I didn't know the legend though so that was fun.

I am somewhat chagrined that I didn't see the visual part of this puzzle - while solving, I noticed the unusual number of Xs but forgot to check them out afterwards so I was reduced to circling all the interesting vowel combos in the theme words IO, EI and IA in CASSIOPEIA, EI in POSEIDON, EI in the NEREIDS and IO and IA in ETHIOPIA which was a tad interesting but not particularly rewarding.

@Lewis, as I filled in 72A, I thought "Lisdoonvarna" because I saw an excellent spoon player slap his KNEE with his "instruments" in that small town in Ireland.

@Cassieopeia, nice riff!

Thanks, Jennifer Nutt, nice puzzle.

JC66 1:00 PM  

@WH Hughes

If you read @mbr's 9 am comment (the first of many), you'd know STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (as an educational category.

@Banana Diaquiri & @Amelia

And they're not identical.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

I'm curious If Rex doesn't read the comments, how on earth did he know to update the blog?

Marc Kwiatkowski 1:33 PM  

For the spelling of fuchsia, knowing that the flower is named in honor of German botanist Leonhart Fuchs is a good mnemonic.

JC66 1:45 PM  

@Anon 1:26

I'm not sure, but maybe one of the moderators or commenters gave him a heads-up.

Warren Howie Hughes 1:47 PM  

JC66, Thanks awfully for pointing out my oversight of earlier comments on the blog that amply explained what STEM stands for...Perhaps had I attended College I wouldn't have required assistance with 58A...:-(

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Could be. Perfectly plausible. Is it also possible that Rex does read the comments though he has frequently denied doing so? I mention it not only because it would explain today's update, but would also explain how he has responded to comments here before. Why, he once responded to one of mine by insulting me here. And he was so pleased with his insult, he posted it on twitter too.

Warren Howie Hughes 1:58 PM  

Marc Kwiatkowski, When Leonhart Fuchs was asked if would be honored to have another flower named after him at some time in the Fuchsia, he replied "Nein, Das ist alles, Fuchs!" ;-)

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

One last question. Why would the moderators tell Rex about his error? Isn't their job to patrol the comments? Rex's mistake hardly falls under that purview. And if they did tell Rex, might that suggest the mods are really friends of Rex's who have his interests at heart, not keeping he commentary civil?

JC66 2:02 PM  

@Anon 1:56

Sorry, I didn't realize you were trying to be facetious.

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

Huh? I'm not following you. My question was, and remains, genuine.

File as fog 2:22 PM  

Yesterday’s puzzle took me a painfully long 17 minutes, today, a wickedly brief 7. For once I didn’t even notice the theme, everything just fell into place. But what is up with the editing this week? Am I going to finish tomorrow’s puzzle in 5?

JC66 2:25 PM  


1. It seems to me that asking a question you (think you) know the answer to isn't being straight forward.

2. @Rex lists his email address in his blog. Why wouldn't someone (moderator or otherwise, friend or foe) point out his mistake.

Surely 2:34 PM  

He deserves something that floats, but not a yacht.

Are you serious about MAGA? Can't believe you're serious. You had me goin' tho'.

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

JC 66,
Huh? I do have a thought on how Rex got the info, that's hardly the same as certitude. There's been nothing dishonest about my behavior. I was being straightforward when I asked the question. I'm being straight forward now. I don't appreciate you impugning my integrity. There's no cause for that. I was genuinely looking for other thoughts. Yours, I think now, I can do without

OffTheGrid 2:38 PM  

I doubt anyone is forcing the NYT on you. If so, call 911.

Rorschach 2:41 PM  

I'm sure you meant "similar". Identical means same, with no differences.

Andrea 2:58 PM  

Funny how “Americans abroad” are EXPATS, while everyone else is an immigrant, an exile, an illegal/legal alien...

Banana Diaquiri 3:00 PM  

don't call me @Surely!!

uh, serious?? you must be newer here than I. my reputation among the anonyMice is virulently anti-Orange Julius. well deserved. his display yesterday among The Deplorables in MS makes my case. so, no.

Malsdemare 3:02 PM  

I do agree with you about Gatsby, but . . . I was an English major for undergrad; that's where these huge surveys of lit occur. I would hate to list all the great books I haven't read, including, gulp, most of Dickens, only one Austen, one James. Two semesters of Shakespeare and I still didn't read all the great plays. I cut Rex some slack because I need others to cut me some. Although I think missing out on Hamilton's "Mythology" is a crying shame.

Three and out. I liked this puzzle a lot!

Peter P 3:09 PM  

@ Marc Kwiatkowski (quite appropriate to talk about flowers, given the surname—kwiat means flower in Polish for those reading along) That’s how I remember the spelling. I divide the word mentally into FUCHS + IA. If anyone wants a more memorable mnemonic, I’m sure they can find a certain four-letter word for fornication to help them I remembering. Actually, the be more accurate, I say the word to myself as fook-see-uh to keep the order of the CH and S straight.

Fashionista 3:22 PM  

I love the Navajo myths. Thank you Tony Hillerman.

TJS 3:42 PM  

@Malsdemare, and I agree with you, you cant read'em all. Just something about the whole doctor in lit. teaching comics, ignoring Gatsby, has always hit my hot button. But I am swearing off this issue. Moving on to a new, as yet unknown aggravation...probably something @Z posts in the next few days.

BarbieBarbie 3:58 PM  

@jberg, it's actually "Cassiopeia's Chair" that's the W and the Cassiopeia is harder to see. So who knows, maybe she's as beautiful as she says.

Most people I know learned anything they know about constellations as a kid, long before any kind of academic specialization came into the picture. Think Brownies. (mmmmmm... brownies...)

Malsdemare 4:13 PM  

@Fashionista, The Navajo are pleased that Hillerman was respectful, but they told me he got a lot wrong. Zolbrod's Diné Bahanè, The Navajo Creation Story, is much more accurate, and a gorgeous read. I highly recommend it. Btw, these are myths only if you believe the Christian bible, the Hebrew Torah, and other essential cultural texts are myths. For the Navajo, it’s their origin story; call it a myth and they will be insulted (though they are too polite to show it).

Music Man 5:46 PM  

That’s hilarious! Really???

GILL I. 7:16 PM  

@mbr...Thank you and the other Mensa's here for the STEM information. I actually was thinking Stem Cell something or other. Ask me about constellations... ;-)
Hey @JC66....You and @Banana have the same obnoxious troll. Congratulations!

chefwen 7:24 PM  

Dogs SNARF people ScARF.

Sherm Reinhardt 8:02 PM  

Woohoo. 8:22 left me within 4 minutes of Rex. I impress myself.

I appreciate Rex's no-filter reviews of the puzzle. In this topsy-turvy world, it's good to know you can rely on something to be consistent. Rex Parker will always give his unvarnished opinion about the NYT crossword puzzle. RAH.

Johncape 8:03 PM  

8 Down clue is fatally flawed. Ironically, it was the N.Y. Times that reported years ago that your genes are NOT a key to your longevity. Age is only 2% inherited - Way below factors like eye color and height.

Unknown 8:14 PM  

Also. I entered also for besides. The answer was else. Is that correct?

Unknown 8:16 PM  

Why isn't besides ALSO instead of -the answer - ELSE?

retired guy 9:02 PM  

Some who is EXILED is someone whom his or her government has expelled from his or her home country. Snowden is not EXILED -- he is perfectly free, as far as the US Government is concerned, to return home; however, he chooses not to for fear of being prosecuted for what he did.

Saying that Snowden has been EXILED tells us about the NYT's views (i.e., its sympathy for Snowden), but doesn't have anything to do with the facts of the matter.

Fashionista 9:06 PM  

As soon as I typed “myth” I knew it was wrong but “story” seemed weak. As I am an atheist I do sorta think those other religious texts are myths also!

Banana Diaquiri 9:51 PM  

the STEM information

one of the few things one can count on, so far, is that acronyms are in all Caps. of course, having typed that, something contradictory will show up tomorrow.

Malsdemare 10:39 PM  

@fashionista, I'm with you on that. They are all humanity's attempt to explain the inexplicable. But to those that believe, they are truth.

Azzurro 11:02 PM  

Weird, I took a class from the constructor, Jennifer Nutt, years ago. I never realized this was her hobby!

Z 11:15 PM  

@retired guy - Note definition 1.1. Since the US doesn’t actually EXILE anyone, 1.1 is the only usage applicable to any US citizen.

@JC66 - Sorry. You gotta love the taking umbrage schtick, though.

@TJS - Working on it. Although maybe I’ll cheat and post something critical of Fitzgerald and critics who thought his work was anything more than florid navel gazing.

Rita 11:30 PM  

@mmorgan, just so you know there’s at least one, the constellation did help me with the solve. I love that the constellation in the puzzle, like the one in the sky, is a bit askew. And as summer fades I love a puzzle that triggers memories of star gazing with my mom on summer nights.

JC66 11:38 PM  


That's what I get for sticking up for you. ;-)

kitshef 1:36 PM  

@Retired Guy:
exile, Merriam-Webster definition 2: a person who is in exlie
Definition 1b: The state or a period of voluntary absence from one's country or home (emphasis mine).

thefogman 10:31 AM  

I too thought the constellation's name was POSEIDON at first. A google search did not match up then I re-read the clue and, like Rex, realized it was CASSIOPEIA, which is such an unremarkable constellation depicting what was once a stunning beauty. This is a really well-constructed puzzle with a clever and original theme. Hats off to Jennifer Nutt!

spacecraft 10:55 AM  

In "The Green Mile," John Coffey ("Like the drink, but not spelled the same") immediately identifies the star group: "That's Cassie." By which we're led to believe he knows a LOT more than he lets on. In a 15X15 crossword grid, to pull off a reasonably accurate picture of a constellation with X's, no less, is a marvelous feat, IMO.

Add to that, this one was actually easier than the two before. Did Will shuffle the puzzle deck for the week? Well, maybe it's just better DONE. The few nits I have--not knowing that SOLACES is also a verb, and UNRIPE (?)--don't amount to more than an IOTA. ESTUARY is great fill.

DOD is Madonna as EVITA, unless we count CASSIOPEIA herself--though I have no idea what she really looked like. Anybody can call herself "beautiful." An A-ONE effort. Eagle.

Burma Shave 11:31 AM  


CASSIOPEIA was EXILED while THENERIEDS were decidin’
to BEHAVE or ELSE SEETO a wild adventure for POSEIDON.


Diana, LIW 11:33 AM  

How many others, reading OFL's comments, wondered why he disliked yesterday's CONSTRUCTOR so much and liked todays CONSTRUCTOR? The puzzle today, for me, was less "rewarding" than yesterdays - not much more or less difficult, though. Myths vs. Shows/Musicals? I guess I'll take the musicals for 400.

And the X's meant naught to me, except to make me note that the generation was a GAP whilst I'm used to using XER 'cause it's a way of getting an X in a puzzle. The architecture of this puzzle was neither Brutalist nor AUSTERE.

Did lots of folks still claim to never have heard of SXSW? I'll have to read and see.

And the YACHT answer made me think of who was president back then - not a blowhard, IMHO.

Car story? Yes, Mr. W traveled (by plane and car) to the 150-mile away dealer to pick up my auto. After an exchange of paperwork via FedEx. It came with a one-day ticket to drive, so sat in the driveway awaiting the final (plating) episode.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, just noticing my dnf since I didn't know the mushroom or mythical nymphs

leftcoastTAM 2:43 PM  

Thought this was Monday easy until coming to the theme, which made it Wednesday medium.

So that's what CASSIOPEIA's constellation (Xs) looks like in the sky? I'll look for it someday, maybe. That's where vanity will get ya, I guess.

Remembered President Carter's AUSTERE sensitivities and that he EXILED the presidential YACHT from the Potomac.

The ENOKI E crossed by THE NEREIDS was the last letter in.

Got up feeling a little GROG[gy], like Rex. Can't say it slowed me down, though.

rainforest 3:00 PM  

Perfectly acceptable theme. Better than add-a-letter, drop-a-letter, or a rebus, plus it tested your spelling cojones. I KNEW that FUCHSIA was spelled that way, but forgot and had to correct it, and I vaguely remember the story of CASSIOPEIA from Grade school, even the ETHIOPIA part which was the first themer I got.

Besides the theme, there were some nice downs (for some reason I liked BEHAVE, as well as ESTUARY, POSEIDON, YARDLINE, etc.) and pristine fill.

I liked it a lot.

rondo 3:57 PM  

Well, I learned about constellations and Greek mythology all at once and AGREE with all those who liked this puz. Pretty good TRICK with the Xs.

Haven’t yet been to BRYCE, but have visited other Utah canyons, etc. Good stuff.

Hope everybody knows South By SouthWest – SXSW – by now.

I still remember my one and only date with Judy. Started with the POSEIDON Adventure and ended in disaster. Guess I didn’t BEHAVE.

How about a literery yeah baby for ANN Beattie?

Maybe not a TEN, but a good puz.

centralscrewtinizer 10:49 AM  

CASSIOPEIA is a favorite constellation because she is a naughty lady. She starts out the night demurely shaped like a W, but late at night is shaped like an M, which looks like a lady in bed on her back with knees in the air.

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