Zoroastrianism's sacred text / SUN 12-30-18 / Mesopotamian mother goddess / Stealth bomber familiarly / 2003 Economoics Nobelist Robert / Hybrid tourney style

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Constructor: Luke Vaughn

Relative difficulty: Medium (felt easier, but there are some patches ...)

THEME: "No Duh!" — so ... phrases with "the" have "no *the*" in them, creating ... honestly, calling these "wacky" seems generous, but OK ... wacky phrases, which are wackily clued:

Theme answers:
  • BEHIND SCENES (36A: Reason for an R rating?) (does mere naked rear end really earn an R?)
  • BEYOND PALE (6D: Really, really needing some sun?)
  • WELL-OFF MARK (45A: Cuban or Zuckerberg?)
  • SEAL DEAL (16D: Buy one circus animal, get one circus animal free?)
  • OUT OF BLUE (69A: Needing certain ink for a color printer?)
  • POP QUESTION (90A: Impetus behind a paternity test?)
  • SPARE ROD (85D: Something up for grabs on a fishing boat?)
  • SKIRT ISSUE (77D: Installment of a women's clothing catalog?)
  • AGAINST GRAIN (97A: On a paleo diet, say?)
Word of the Day: LARISSA (115A: Capital of Thessaly) —
Larissa (GreekΛάρισα [ˈlarisa]) is the capital and largest city of the Thessaly region, the fourth-most populous in Greece according to the population results of municipal units of 2011 census and capital of the Larissa regional unit. It is a principal agricultural centre and a national transport hub, linked by road and rail with the port of Volos, the cities of Thessaloniki and Athens. Larissa, within its municipality, has 162,591 inhabitants, while the regional unit of Larissa reached a population of 284,325 (in 2011).[1] The urban area of the city, although mostly contained within the Larissa municipality, also includes the communities of GiannouliPlatykamposNikaia, Terpsithea and several other suburban settlements, bringing the wider urban area population of the city to about 174,012 inhabitants and extends over an area of 572.3 km2 (221.0 sq mi).
Legend has it that Achilles was born here. Hippocrates, the "Father of Medicine", died here. Today, Larissa is an important commercial, agricultural and industrial centre of Greece. (wikipedia)
• • •

What hell? You just take out a central THE? And ... it's not even central every time, just penultimate, and ... then you want me to believe that "duh" rhymes with "THE," and then ... since the whole concept is so manifestly thin and yields very little in the way of real humor or entertainment, you want to ... really cram the grid with themers. Crossing Acrosses and Downs, whoosh and whee and what not? IESTerday ... love was such an iesy game to play ... now I (definitely) need a place to hide awaie. Good news is: if your big thing is Incredibly Obscure World Capitals (Including Regional Capitals, Dear Lord), then this is your puzzle. Or at least part of it is your puzzle. Namely the BISSAU part and the LARISSA part. BISSAU, LOL. I was like "What?" and then I was like "[West African capital]? Why not just say the country name??!" And Then ... I looked up the country. Any guess? Oh shut up, you don't know it unless you actively train for trivia contests / game shows and have memorized all world capitals. Anyway, BISSAU is the capital of [drum roll] Guinea-BISSAU, a country I am just now learning exists. I mean, cool, it's real, why not know it, I guess, but then you wanna go and throw LARISSA at me? What on god's green?! That was my last word in the grid, and it contains the very rarely seen Double Natick*.

I am not kidding when I say that I guessed at not one but two letters in LARISSA. I have no idea what a RUE is, in plant terms. I feel like it's in some "Hamlet" quote, but ... yikes. But the real Naticky cross here is with AVESTA. What Is AVESTA? I've been solving going on 30 years and .... ???????!?!?!?!?!?! And it crosses LARISSA? Everyone, from the constructor, to the editors (plural) to the proofreaders to the janitor should've flagged that crossing *immediately* as Bad. Unthinkably bad. And then taking RUE into plant (?!) territory, to boot? (116D: Medicinal plant) Bizarre. And for many solvers, absolutely harrowing. I guessed both crosses correctly, based solely on experience, but, again, yikes. See you later, puzzle. I've had enoughFOVEA nonsense! (is that how you pronounce that? I've Never Seen That Word Either ... 🎶IESTerday🎶 ...).


I suppose LARI-SA / AVE-TA is a guessable cross. I mean, I guessed it. But you have to understand that no solver wants to have a cross where they're not sure how or if either answer makes sense. This is why Obscure Proper Nouns Should Not Cross, especially when neither is a recognizable / common name. Like, you could clue BRIAN via some barely-known rock climber or something, but if I get BRIAN, at least I can go "Oh, BRIAN, that is a name I have seen that humans sometimes have, cool." With AVESTA ... you cannot do that.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. A.M.A. in the ASK clue (113D: Part of A.M.A.) is Ask Me Anything, a Reddit phenomenon (originally) where people can ask celebrities or other people prominent in their fields ... well, anything.

*Natick = blind crossing, usually of two not-well-known proper nouns (see sidebar for more details)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


OISK 12:15 AM  

I did a report of Zoroastrian religion in high school, so I knew "Avesta". But I had to guess to get the "R" in Larissa, not knowing that RUE is a "medicinal plant." Looked it up just now, it is called "The forgotten herb." Apt!
The other guess was Jafar (???) with rap. I gather that "freestyle" is a clue for "rap." OK.

No real complaints, finished it just as the Alabama-Oklahoma game finished, leaving me very grouchy. 5 bowl games, and I bet the wrong way on all five. But, I finished the Sunday puzzle, so all is well...

Bourbon Street 12:17 AM  

With all due respects to Hedy, one day I’d love to see LAMARR clued as “Hedley”. (Maybe it’s already happened, but I don’t recall if it has.)

jae 12:23 AM  

Tough. Liked the theme...the fill, not so much. Too many winces.

@Rex - The LARISSA/AVESTA cross was both a lucky guess and wince.

Anonymous 12:29 AM  

I was surprised to finish in just under my average time. Puzzles that seem harder than they turn out to be are some of the most satisfying. I very much enjoyed the theme (in spite of the silly title) and found it helpful during my solve. Lost a minute or three looking for a one word answer for 55D. And couldn’t see MERE because I thought 51D had to be STlO (St. Louis).

Brian 12:44 AM  


Anonymous 12:46 AM  

Rex, it’s called Guinea-Bissau to distinguish it from the nation of Guinea that borders it just to the south, and is often referred to as Guinea-Conakry. I guess because it’s in Africa, and is just a small country, it’s OK by you if puzzlers don’t know about it. There’s much to criticize in this puzzle, but “Bissau” is not one of them.

Harryp 12:56 AM  

Okay Sunday. I had the same issue as always on a large puzzle, which is proofreading. My holdup was VENTe, which should have been easy if SKIRTeSSUE was caught. But that said, I liked it.

TomAz 12:57 AM  

Yep, what Rex said, pretty much to a T. LARISSA/AVESTA, The Greatest Natick Of All Time. Then there's ENNEADS also crossing LARISSA.. I guess the crossing A part isn't where the problem with ENNEADS is.

I actually know of Guinea-BISSAU, and so was able to infer the capital.

But other problems: PET TAXI? These are both words, but together? Do they make sense to anyone? Does one call up the equivalent of Yellow Cab and say hey Fido needs a car at 6 to make an uptown dinner date with FiFi?

A MUST? Hey, I need an A, I can just throw a random article in there...

Didn't know RUE as clued, and, it seems pointless to clue it this way, unless you are just showing off.

IEST? This puzzle may have not only the Greatest Natick, but also the Worst Partial, of all time.

The theme was fine, or rather would have been fine (good, even) in a better puzzle.

If all puzzles were like this I would stop doing puzzles.

Robin 1:23 AM  

Wow, felt like a double-Natick coming up at the very end to mess this thing up, but I guessed at LARISSA, and oh, happy pencil noise. Maybe it helped that I know someone named Larissa, even if she is Russian rather than Greek.

Personally, no problem with the theme. And actually chuckled over couple of the themer fills.

Joe Dipinto 1:51 AM  

No sooner do I start this thing than I'm greeted by not one but two Star Wars clues. Plus a Starbucks clue, to boot. As you might guess, I was not happy.

FOVEA. Nobody move until I find my FOVEA. I dropped it on the floor somewhere...oh it's right here under the EAGERER. I wouldn't be HIRABLE without it (though I might be, oh, you know, CAPABLE).

I vaguely think there was someone with the last name MAYS that's better-known than Billy. Now *what* was his first name...?

puzzlehoarder 2:06 AM  

With the exception of FOVEA and LARISSA this felt rather mundane. The dad humor theme didn't help matters but at least they we're easy to get which helped speed up the solve.

Getting a clean grid was no problem. I didn't throw in 98D just off the initial A but as soon as the V went in the remaining -ESTA popped right up. Just before I got on this Scrabble kick I had started compiling all the obscure things I've annotated in my Webster's over the last 13 years into an easy to read list. I managed to get through all of the A section and AVESTA was part of it. After solving I didn't even bother with it's xwordinfo clue list.

The entry I checked out was RUE. I was curious as to why I initially questioned it in spite of it's familiarity. It turns out that this is the 13th time it's been clued this way under Shortz. What makes it seem obscure is the 141 other times it's been clued as either plain old regret or a French street. All the noise from those two definitions tends to drown out the third one.

Where I almost dnfed was with ETHEL at 66D. That E doesn't change the sound of the word in the least which is probably why I initially let it go. Luckily I checked over my grid after filling everything in and caught it.

David W 2:20 AM  

I think DUBLIN might beg to differ on "Only European capital on both a river and an ocean"

jae 3:52 AM  

...and I knew RUE from The Hunger Games where many characters seemed to have plant names...Katniss

everette 5:07 AM  

Hmm, six-letter West African capital? Is it NIAMEY? BAMAKO? BANJUL? BISSAU? Or if you stretch "West" Africa a bit, you can get to BANGUI and MALABO. Quite an impressively vague clue.

Patk 5:11 AM  

It's an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, but Dublin is on the Irish Sea.

'mericans in Paris 5:33 AM  

Mostly agree with @Rex on this one, especially LARISSA and RUE the way the latter was clued. BISSAU, however, is fair game, especially as the downs coming off it make it inferable.

I nominate LARISSA as the foreign equivalent of NATICK, MA. So, whenever an obscure foreign city name crosses some other unrecognizable or common name, we can invoke LARISSA. As, "I did OK on the puzzle, but got Larissa'd in the Deep South.

UTICA, on the other hand, seems to me fair for a New York Times puzzle. I have fond memories of drinking UTICA Club (UC) beer when an undergrad in Upstate New York -- my first exposure to a regional beer. Just learned, looking up to confirm that it still exists, is that UC was the first beer licensed for sale at the end of prohibition. Cool!

As for the theme, it was indeed simple, but occasionally elicited a smile. Certainly the dropped definite article helped us get some of the answers. And then there's certainly an interesting dialogue in the NW:

Setting: A HOT-TUB (UNWISE).




(Fade to BEHIND SCENES, using the SEPIAS filters.)

All in all, the puzzle could have used a lot more editing. I don't see how 32A ("To which one might respond 'Salud!' ") passed WS's nostrils. Salud is Spanish, right? So shouldn't it be used in response to estornudo. And "Snick or SNEE" is really, really obscure, unless you've read tales of knife-fighting. (On this one, I admit, I might just be naive.)

@David W: I doubt that DUBLIN would claim to be "a European capital on both a river and an ocean." It faces the Irish Sea, and to get to the Atlantic Ocean you'd have to pass first through the Celtic Sea. By contrast, if you were to sail due west of LISBON your first landfall would be the Delaware coast (if you managed to avoid one of the northern-most islands of the Azores.)

Unknown 6:17 AM  

How is ASK a part of A. M. A. ?

Loren Muse Smith 6:28 AM  

Rex, Rex, Rex. Sigh. First of all, I have to say that I learn a lot of crossword stuff from reading your write-ups, as I do without fail. And you have some wildly creative turns of phrase. You can be really, really funny and clever. It’s beyond obvious that you put a lot of thought and energy into this place, and I gratefully send you money every year.

I get that if I admonish participants here to always read Rex’s write-up and always send a donation ‘cause it’s just the Right Thing To Do, I’ll get crucified for a bajillion reasons I can’t even predict. So in my typical weenie way, I’ll just say: Michael Sharp – I so, so appreciate what you do and will donate forthwith. Following this blog, reading your takes, participating, has enriched my crossworld.

But man oh man do we see things differently. I caught on to the trick with WELL OFF MARK and laughed. And laughed at the NO DUH. It’s a perfect title if you, ahem, loosen up a bit.

Next came AGAINST GRAIN and SKIRT ISSUE. Loved’em. I am currently against grain because of this nifty grey skirt issue I’m having. (I dress up all fancy schmancy almost every day ‘cause I just feel happier. Rex – maybe if you wore skirts and panty hose, you’d like the puzzles better? Something to chew on…)

Here’s the thing, though. You said, “What hell? You just take out a central THE?...” Well, yes. You lose the THE, but finding viable possibilities is not as easy as it looks. Luke had to ferret* out phrases with THE whose meanings change dramatically without it. BEHIND (THE) SCENES, POP (THE) QUESTION, and WELL OFF (THE) MARK are startlingly redefined without that article. Wacky. A good wacky. And this is a Truth – not just my opinion just kidding not really.

Try to find more that change so completely sans THE. AIM FOR STARS, SPIN BOTTLE, BLUE IN FACE, ALL RAGE… these are not fun. The ones Luke found are the excellentiest ones out there. Maybe there’s some possibilities with NECK OF WOODS? Tell-tale lipstick mark oops? Or Steven Hawking asking WHAT’S MATTER? I’m telling ya – this set Luke came up with is terrific and thoroughly entertained me.

Ok – one last parry: “if your big thing is Incredibly Obscure World Capitals (Including Regional Capitals, Dear Lord).” This puzzle has 140 entries. Two of these 140 entries are capitals. Two. So that’s, what, one-seventieth? I’m not a good mather. After much google trouble, I found this figure - 1.428571. I need a nap now.

On EAGERER – There’s no adjective out there that I won’t slap on an er or iest to the end of. (I’ll let you read that again if haven’t dismissed me and are already moving on. Fair enough.)

Me: Let’s skip to the next part. It’s interestinger.
Students: Mrs. Smith, is that even a word?
Me: I guess so. I just said it. You understood it. C'mon, y'all! language is something to have fun with. It’s totally playwithable. Lighten up. But while I’m here, why is it “stinger” (no g sound) but “finger” (hard g sound)?

…and off we go into the wild blue yonder of useless language musings, saved from Kino’s demise-by-pearl.

Didn’t even notice the BISSAU problem ‘cause a quick glance at the downs filled that puppy right in.

*@Crimson Devil – We Tar Heels call DUKE’s coach The Ferret. Y’all may think you’re number one, but you smell like number two.

Anonymous 6:28 AM  

OTOH Gesundheit is German. I know “RUE for you...” from Ophelia's mad scene.

I am continually surprised by the number of complaints that read to me as being essentially “that wasn’t straightforward.”

Loren Muse Smith 6:30 AM  

@Unknown - I took it as the ASK from NPR's Ask Me Another, but it's probably textese for ask me anything.

Lewis 6:40 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:41 AM  

In meantime, if I may be off cuff, I’d like to shoot breeze, here at end of year. Not that I’m ready to kick bucket or buy farm, but sometimes I feel like living off grid. To point, the last two years have felt over top, anything but run of mill, due to certain parties that haven’t cut mustard, I think you get picture. When I look under hood of said wet-behind-ears party, who pretends to be salt of earth while dressing to nines and laying out law of land in an over-top and pie-in-sky manner across board – if I may be to point, I get a pain in neck and feel under weather. I am managing to bite bullet for time being, though I’m not on fence about hoping that said party is not let off hook and has to face music, paving the way for a changing of guard.

BarbieBarbie 6:45 AM  

This was Rex’s “Where’s ‘the’ “ beef.

amyyanni 7:15 AM  

A pet taxi is a small container used to transport a critter, often a cat, from the house to the car, then usually to the veterinarian. And cats don't like it either, TomAz.

American Liberal Elite 7:36 AM  

Having grown up only thirty miles from Natick, I have seen both AVESTA and RUE in NYT crosswords before. Both were needed for LARISSA.

TomAz 7:45 AM  

@Amy Yanni .. I have had cats since I was 5 (that's 50+ years of feline pet owning experience). I go to Petco several times a month. I think I have accumulated, over the years, three or four cat carriers. And I have never, ever, until this puzzle, heard anyone call that a PET TAXI.

QuasiMojo 8:08 AM  

For me the Natick was in the bottom left corner! I had no problem with Larissa or Avesta or Bissau etc. but what on earth is NWA? And LPN? I think we had these guys just the other day or a variation thereof. But those initials mean nothing to me. I had LPT and TWA hence a DNF. AMA but don’t ask me about RAP. No biggie. The only time I’ve ever been in a hospital other than as a visitor was once when I went in for an emergency, a possible fracture. I was put in a room and then either neglected or forgotten about. I was in there for well over an hour. No one came to see me. No LPNs available I guess. I got up and walked out. I was still charged $500 though. The pain went away on its own.

Otherwise I’m with LMS. I thought the themes were clever and worth the crazy fill. I chuckled more than once. I especially liked the Cuban/Zuckerberg one.

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

PET TAXI: In NYC, at least, there are car services that specifically exist to transport you & your pet (frequently to the vet's office), and they are called pet taxis.

The point is that, while a medallion taxi driver won't usually object to your bringing along Fluffy in her carrier, you'd have a much harder time getting a taxi driver to allow your greyhound, German shepherd, or Newfoundland dog to ride in the taxi! Thus, the PET TAXI, which is prepared to transport any size pet, including the oversize and/or slobbery sort. And the driver is someone who's used to hearing yowling, howling, barking and screeching from the "passengers."

Aketi 8:32 AM  

AGAINST GRAIN was my favorite. I find it hard to be AGAINST GRAIN, especially on the winter months.

@Rex, with all you efforts to foist inclusionary principles on The NY Times X crossword puzzles, you are remarkably consistent in violating your own principles when it comes to Africa. It is rare for you to not complain when an African country or capital is in the puzzle. If baby boomers like myself can learn the names of a few RAPpers, you can learn a few more countries and their capital cities in Africa. Natick has a population of about 36 thousand, whereas BISSAU has a population of about 1.8 million.

@Amy Yanni, we don’t own a car so I have always carried our cats to the nearby VET in the hard plastic box that the ASPCA gave us with our first adoption. I’ve actually never heard anyone call the box a PET TAXI. I actually would never take one of our cats in a TAXI out of pity for the driver. She yowls so loud the entire time she’s in the box that people can hear her two blocks away even with noisy NYC traffic noises. Our other cat walks right into it whenever we bring it out curls up inside and purrs. Sometimes he has to be bribed out.

Anyway, SIRI disagrees with you about what constitutes a PET TAXI, not that I trust her. It seems that there is some ambiguity in the usage of the term for the TAXI service that transports the PETs or the box that the PET is in while being transported,

Karen 8:34 AM  

I always think Hedley when I see that clue. Love Blazing Saddles!

Aketi 8:35 AM  

FYI, Goat’s RUE is commonly used as a galactogue, along with fenugreek and blessed thistle.

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

I strenuously object to this stated "theme," b/c the word "DUH" is certainly not a substitute for "THE," no matter where I look it up. "DUH" is about being disdainful or snide regarding the obvious. I sure do feel talked-down-to by this theme.

Karen 8:38 AM  

If nothing else, I learned the word Natick from this grid. Same here, I was stuck in the Larissa/Rue/Avesta mess. Didn't mind the theme although I was surprised it didn't have. New Years Eve theme/twist. Happy New Year to you all!

Karen 8:39 AM  

Licensed prectical nurse-LPN

Karen 8:46 AM  

I also would like to know! Help!

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Stands for Ask Me Anything ( as seen in Reddit)

Nancy 9:02 AM  

Who talks like dat? Since I don't know if da constructor gets to write da puzzle titles, it may be unfair to blame Luke Vaughn for dis illiterate and DUHmb title.

Since I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem, I've tried to come up with ideas for replacement titles. Here are some thoughts:


You're all welcome to try, too. Or maybe some of you already have? Going back to read y'all now. Meanwhile, the puzzle, while rather tame, is still a lot better than the title.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

How is TWITCH a response to a really bad pun? I’ve groaned...

Richard 9:11 AM  

Pet Taxi is the name of a line of carriers for small animals.

Irishman in Chinatown 9:21 AM  

@David 2:20 a.m: Dublin is on the east coast of Ireland which is on the Irish Sea not the Atlantic Ocean. I was hoping First Lady would be Melania and we would’ve had a real Rex meltdown but this one will suffice.

Z 9:23 AM  

Quick - no googling- What’s the capital of Costa Rica? Belize? Paraguay? Madagascar? Eswatini? Myanmar? Bhutan? Albania? So, yeah, it’s not that Guinea-Bissau is in Africa, it’s exactly what Rex said; unless you are boning up for Trivia Night at the bar there is no particular reason to know all the various capitals of small countries. I once dated a girl from Mbabane and I still had to look it up just now. Are these places Crossworthy? Sure. At least as crossworthy as L’il Wayne. And I reserve just as much memory for them as I do random rappers. My advice, don’t be a geography scold.

Rube 9:32 AM  

Nice puzzle . good theme with enough easy geo fill ins like BISSAU and LISBON and UTICA and BREST and LARISSA to keep things moving.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Checking Google, the slang word for "the" seems to almost universally be "da," as in "da Bronx" and "da Bears," rather than "duh." As pointed out above, dictionaries do not give "the" as a meaning for "duh."

Teedmn 9:37 AM  

Tough one for me today. Unlike most Sundays, the theme answers saved my bacon - knowing SPARE ROD and AGAINST GRAIN saved me in the lower part of the puzzle when AVESTA, LARISSA, NIELSEN, ENNEADS, wondering why an ARK was necessarily slow and thinking American Medical Assoc. instead of ASK Me Anything right up until the end all were threatening to be a show stopper. RUE, on the other hand, was no problem at all.

Gotta love BEHIND SCENES, POP QUESTION, OUT OF BLUE and AGAINST GRAIN. I disagree totally with Rex - I think there's plenty of "whacky" going on here.

Tricky cluing for BUSY, 70D, APP, 17D. And thank goodness for Thursday's puzzle (spoiler) - I would have had no idea the B-TWO was a stealth plane otherwise. And do people TWITCH at a pun? I don't think that's a good clue.

I can't say the title helps at all. In fact, I think @Nancy's MISSING THE ANSWER is better by far. But I had fun with this. Nice job, Luke Vaughn and congrats on NYT puzzle #2.

barryevans 9:40 AM  

still don't get why DUH = THE, someone help?

also, Part of AMA (Amer Medical Assoc?) = ASK?

Yeah I finished, took most of the evening, but with no real sense of victory

kitshef 9:45 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyed theme, and I like it when themers run both across and down, so more entertaining than your average Sunday.

By jove before BLIMEY, Leftist before LIBERAL, capABLE before hirable, hondaS before SEDANS, pastELS before enamELS.

There are a few unfair crosses here, but NWA/LPN really takes cake. I mean, LARISSA/AVESTA or LAMARR/MAYS or JUGHEAD/JAFAR you can guess at, but NWA/LPN could literally be any letter. Or any number, for that matter. LARISSA/RUE was never on my naughty list, as so many plants have RUE in their name, plus you have the whole Hunger Games connection.

GILL I. 9:52 AM  

@Lewis what you did was clever but then, we know you ARE clever. But @Loren is so right in that Luke was able to come up with theme answers that completely changed the meaning once the THE DUH was left out. Cleverness, indeed. And.....all the themers entertained me no end. I like being amused.
My @Rex agreement for the day: LARISSA/AVESTA > Google = Dang. Can't win them all.
Let's see... what was my favorite? I'd say BEHIND SCENES. I immediately went to the Kardashians. Then I went to the scene shown all over the place on Facebook of a plucked chicken doing that Brazilian butt dance. If you haven't seen it, count yourself lucky. I wonder how much butt implants cost and if they hurt.
I like adding er at the ends of words. I also like to add ate. You can fantasticate now and it's perfectly legal.
Nice job Luke Vaughn except I would've changed the clue for RUE and ASK. That's all.

Jake Zavracky 9:54 AM  

New York Times Crossword Puzzle answers used in sentences:

Reaction to a really bad pun - twitch - "that pun was so bad it made me TWITCH". People say that all the time.

More ready to go - eagerer - "Though he was quite eager, I daresay I was even EAGERER!"

Big Starbucks orders - ventis - "I just can't live without my VENTIS!"

Something up for grabs on a fishing boat? - spare rod - "Hey is that SPARE ROD up for grabs, I forgot mine!"

Side note: "___ Days" (1990s platinum Bon Jovi album) - "these" - Bon Jovi is the worst band of all time and should be completely forgotten.

Aketi 9:56 AM  

Hahaha @Z we all have our inner scold. I’m not exempt as evidenced by my reaction to S**** yesterday.

kitshef 10:13 AM  

Re: Dublin - it depends on whether you consider marginal seas to be part of their oceans or not. I do - so the Gulf of Mexico is part of the Atlantic, and the Sea of Japan is part of the Pacific, etc. So ... the clue is questionable at best.

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

The dreaded Double Natick! It got me too. I laugh every time Rex uses “Natick” because I’m actually from Natick!

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Rex always gets so upset that he doesn't know everything and seems insulted that he can't infer it somehow. Welcome to my world Rex, and I assume most everyone else who solves this puzzle each week. The puzzle is not bad because you have not heard of the country Guinea-Bissau or any of the others you mention. Lighten up and try to enjoy the journey even if you can't complete it easily.

Mike E 10:27 AM  

Once I laughed at BEHIND SCENES, I was more than able to guess at some of the others, and appreciated the ingenuity. Must have stared at LARISSA/AVESTA for 10 minutes before guessing right. Most things that were hard seemed fair in the end. But who the hell has ever said EAGERER in their entire life? (Hey, there's another good one: WHO HELL. Easy clue: Horton's unbelieved story?

Nancy 10:27 AM  

To all of you who protested TWITCH as the response to a bad pun, when I had ----CH, I was looking for FLINCH. Looking, but not finding. Still, it's a lot better, AMIRITE?

For the 5-letter answer to "Epitome of laziness" (71A), I really thought, deep down in my heart of hearts, that the answer should have been NANCY.

I just love your FOVEA comment, @Joe Dipinto (1:51). In fact, I enjoyed your entire post. Hurray for Willie MAYS -- the greatest baseball player of all time. Anyone who thinks differently probably never had the great good fortune to see him play. What a terrible oversight from Luke Vaughn.

My favorite theme answer is WELL OFF MARK. And I also find the comments so far today especially entertaining.

JB formerly from Natick 10:29 AM  

Historical note on Natick: At some point it was realized that signs such as the one in the sidebar photo were inaccurate, because, although the town was settled or established in 1651, it wasn’t incorporated until 1781. Today all Entering Natick signs say either “Est. 1651” (e.g. Rte. 135 eastbound from Framingham) or “Inc. 1781” (Rte. 135 westbound from Wellesley).

Carola 11:00 AM  

I thought this one was inspired, loved it. WELL OFF MARK was first, followed by SEAL DEAL, and then I couldn't have been EAGERER to tackle the rest. I also appreciated having some more difficult non-theme answers to chew on. An unusally satisfying Sunday.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

Anon 9::36 - you are so close. The “da” you cite, as in da Bears, is an at-least-near homonym for the titles “duh,” amirite? This is wordplay, if not of a stellar variety.

Wm. C. 11:24 AM  

I never had any problem with NATICK, since I've lived in the Boston area pretty much all my life; and, moreover, I was there recently with all the kids, grandkids, and in-laws for a nice Christmas brunch and gift-swap at my daughter's house.

I'm not sure that with a population of nearly 40,000 it should be called a "small suburb," even though it has a town (not city) form of government. Its most famous past (high school) and current resident is Doug Flutie, who had the phrase "Hail Mary Pass" coined when he threw a nearly-100-yard buzzer-beater pass to win a bowl game for BC (a Jesuit school, thus the holy phrase). Flutie was drafted and played for a while for the NE Patriots, but spent most of his pro career in the CFL. Out of respect for his residency, when a small bypass road was built around the local Mall, they named it "Flutie Pass."

More than you wanted to know? ;-)

David 11:27 AM  

It's spelled "da", but really, do you say "dah" Bears? Maybe in Chicago, but here in NYC we say "duh" Bronx.

This puzzle did little for me. Dropping the duhs? Meh. Super obscure city names? ick. At least Rex knows his part of NYS (or maybe just the SUNY parts?), he seemed to think "Taconic" was an obscure answer because he wasn't familiar with it. Oh! Come to think of it, Luke may have built on a topical moment: "I would ask for wall. We need wall." There, that's better.

Yes, there are pet taxis in NYC. Also pet chauffeurs, canine cars, and K9 cars. There are most likely more. Still I didn't get it even with "pett??i". Got the "x" on cross and said, "doh!". I've always used my own pet carrier.

Pure = Chaste? That's a very archaic idea. Hirable? Is that pronounced "hear-able" or "her-able"? I guess it's three syllables. That's just wrong. Eagerer? Dross.

Apparently AMA is common on Reddit. Who knew? Who cares? Looking it up, I find "Ama" is also a name for girls in West Africa. That's some good synergy Luke didn't take advantage of. Maybe he'll save that one for an answer in a Saturday puzzle.

I figured somebody would fail to properly parse the clue for 83A.

Mark N 11:36 AM  

LARISSA/RUE/AVESTA/ENNEADS is a mess, and I also apparently haven't been doing crosswords long enough to have ever seen either of SERE/ISERE. Some brutal crosses in this one.

TubaDon 11:38 AM  

Guessed right on both double naticks. Guessed wrong on JAFAL, but hey, Freestyle is one lap of a medley race, so it fit? Knew ASK had to fit but no idea where it came from. One carp Rex didn't catch: OUTOFBLUE should be OUTOFCYAN if one has a 4-color printer.

mmorgan 11:44 AM  

Liked the themers a lot (nicely praised by @LMS) but I had the same Larissa etc problems as many others. But overall, a lot to like here.

Knute 11:49 AM  

@Wm. C. 11:24AM

Actually, the "Hail Mary play" football slang originated at Notre Dame University in the 1920s. Dallas Cowboys QB Roger Staubach popularized "Hail Mary pass" term in the 1970s.

RooMonster 11:51 AM  

Hey All !
This ROO had a RUE moment in the famous Natick area of puz. Didn't help that I had latTeS first for VENTIES. Ended up with two wrong letters (my only two!) and had MaLiES for MELEES (even though that made no sense), AVaSTA/ENNiADS. EWE, er EEW.

LPN seems like it should be well known. There are RNs and LPNs. Not sure the difference, mind you, but they are Licensed Practical Nurses.

I enjoyed the "THe-less" puz. Some of the themers got a chuckle. And agree with @Loren about tough to find phrases that change meaning sans THE. Just look at @Lewis' post to see what I mean. His statements are basically the same sans the THE.

Some writeovers, myword-BLIMEY, PETcAge-PETTAXI, dulles-SEATAC.

So not much HUBBUB from me. Puz wasn't WELL OFF MARK, I LEAPT at it like an EAGERER MARTEN. 😀


nyc_lo 11:52 AM  

Wish I’d been solving on paper so I could have flung it across the room in disgust at the end. But at least Rex was hampered by the same LARISSA AVESTA RUE nonsense. I was none too happy with ASK, either. I mean, if it’s supposed to be text-speak (and rather obscure text-speak at that), then drop the periods in the clue. Are the kids all entering L.O.L. O.M.G. Y.O.L.O. I.M.O. now? I think not. ITN.

nyc_lo 12:01 PM  

Oh, and while I’m still fuming over the Southwest, how the hell does X=CHI? And something can most certainly be KNOWN without being famous. Like how the constructor apparently “knew” BISSAU was a capital. All right, that’s it. I’m going to go buy a paper now so I can shred it to bits.

Oh Please 12:02 PM  

Pet carriers really are called "pet taxis" by some manufacturers. People also offer "pet taxi" services for trips to the vet etc.

BUT that "double Natick" sent me to Mr. Google. Sigh.

And eagerer - no. No. No. NO-ONE has ever said that. Ever.

Karl Grouch 12:09 PM  

Dublin is on the Irish Sea which is connected to the Celtic Sea which meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Lisbon on the other hand, is on the Atlantic itself, albeit via the Tagus Estuary.
Geographical technicalities...

Chris 12:14 PM  

There is a brief shot of a butt in the Mr. Rogers documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor?", which is probably what caused it to be rated PG-13.

Got down to the same two squares in LARISSA at the end. I remembered the book "Rosemary and Rue" by Seanan McGuire for the R, but had to guess on the S crossing AVESTA.

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

"Duh" is not "the" except with "da Bears" and "da bomb"

Total deal killer, should not have been accepted

Z 12:24 PM  

@aketi - mine is the “correction that the commenter didn’t verify and is actually incorrect.” Drives me to shouting very time.

As for the theme - I really wish BEQ or even Birnholz over st WaPo had clued this one. BEQ could have gone blue which I would have found funnier. Birnholz just gets “wacky” better than Shortz. “Dad jokes” is an all too apt description of the clues, leading me to agree with Rex’s, “yields very little ... real humor.” So, while I see @lms’s point about the cleverness and others point about being amused, this one didn’t make me crack a smile even once. With wacky go big or go home.

As for “No Duh,” puns are built around the nearness of sounds. How a ǝ sound is represented typographically varies widely. “Th” and “D” are certainly close enough. Given all this, the title works well enough for me in its “Dad Puns” sort of way.

@kitshef - So what, exactly, is the dividing line between the Pacific, the Indian, and the Atlantic? By your logic Dublin is on the Indian Ocean, right?

Anoa Bob 12:35 PM  

If you are reading this, you can thank your FOVEA. It's in the center of the retina, densely packed with cones (ever see that in a grid?), and gives us high resolution visual acuity.

Where's the love for IEST (33A)? Look, with your FOVEA, at the Downs it enables, ISERE, ENGLE, GEISEL & BTWO. (Spellcheck doesn't recognize any of those, including FOVEA.)

Blackbird 12:49 PM  

Rex, you sure get bent out of shape when something is not in your wheelhouse. I knew Avesta because I have been interested in comparative religion. The word didn't seem "obscure" to me. Nor did Larissa. A smattering of geography and a bit of knowledge about ancient Greece helped with the cross. And I got the "s" from Avesta anyway. And rue was a gimme for me. English folklore, some folk songs -- "And every day that her garden is waste is covered all over with rue, with rue...." And Shakespeare: "Winter's Tale", Act 4, Scene 4, "There's rosemary, and rue". And "Hamlet", Act 4, Scene 5, "There's rue for you; and here's some for me", and "Richard II", Act 3, Scene 4, "Here did she fall a tear, here in this place, I'll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace". O Rex, I bet you'll rue the day you did not study your herbs through William Shakespeare's knowledge of botany. Pansies, from the French, of course, for thought. And "duh", I'm from Brooklyn, and "duh" doesn't always mean, Oh, I should have known that, duh sometimes is the way some folks pronounce "the". Duh. Fine, witty theme. I agree that Bissau is impossible, though. Nonetheless, now we've both learned something new, as have other puzzle solvers. Next time the word shows up in a puzzle, we all can say, "Duh! Bissau, of course!" And in today's puzzle, the crosses with Bissau do help. Many times your grumpy comments are amusing, Rex, but today, I'm surprised you missed the point about the theme, duh.

Joe in Newfoundland 12:52 PM  

I expect there to be things I don't know. In fact I memorized world capitals in high school for the long-gone CBC show Reach for the Top. And from the obscurity of classics, knew both LARISSA and AVESTA But. "BRA" for beach topper? To me, that's like cluing MAMMAL as "cat, e.g." Looks lazy on the part of the puzzle composer and editor. "ASK" as part of A.M.A. - I agree with the criticisms above. Puzzle-making should not give me the sense that the puzzle-maker figures anything he or she can find on the internet is a real thing cause well he or she found it there. There's a Waterloo in Iowa? So that's "Waterloo's home"? that's supposed to be clever? Because homes somewhere have loos? or just needlessly obscure?
The theme was fun, but the title ridiculous. I blame the editor for the shortfalls of this puzzle.
My own mistake - without a linguistic clue I read "salud" as "salaud" which means something very different in French. But as this is an American puzzle I know I should have assumed Spanish.
ps only had to click 15 things today to prove I'm not a robot. getting more human every week.

Greg 12:52 PM  

I have never seen AVESTA, RUE, nor ENNEAD, so for me LARISSA was a triple-Natick. Is anyone even editing this puzzle anymore?

Lynx 1:03 PM  

One more solver here who naticked at AVESTA/LARISSA and did not know RUE (if only I'd remembered Ophelia). At least I'm in good company.

Masked and Anonymous 1:07 PM  

AMA = ASK M and A? Well … Don't ASK m&e about VENTIS/AVESTA/LARISSA/RUE, tho. [All of this has been pretty well covered and well besnarked by @RP, already, tho.]

Sooo … what about that RUE clue? {Medicinal plant}? Do the French actually mass-produce all their medical drugs in the street? Is it that there Rue Morgue one? Confused the M&A. All of which certainly earns RUE the staff weeject pick of the day. Learnt somethin, there.

Fun, amazinly basic theme.
fave fillins/themer wannabes: KID the NAP. MAR the TEN. TAR the O. ISH the TAR [O's reply??]. PET the TAXI. BUS the Y. JUG the HEAD. OR the BITS. SHOW the ER. STUN the TED. LEAF the LET.
That last one desperate enough for yah? yeah … thought so.

Thanx for the SunFun, Mr. Luke the Vaughn. Congratz on yer 2nd puz and 1st SunPuz.

[Don't ASK]Masked & Anonymo12Us [DAMA]


Jill 1:13 PM  

Agree with Rex's assessment 100%...AND since the clues with question marks (seemingly) indicated a theme clue, I found it distracting to have several clues ending in a question mark which were NOT theme clues. What the heck!!?? Am I missing something?

29A - Hardly a right-minded individual? LIBERAL
60A - Show stopper? FINALE
63D - Beginnings of fame and fortune? EFS
93D - Rating somebody? NIELSEN

Jillybean 1:13 PM  

I, too, was surprised when I got the happy pencil after my initial pure guesses at the double Natick section. FWIW, I think the theme is much better when discounting the puzzle’s odd title~ as others have noted that may not have even been the constructors decision.

Unknown 1:29 PM  

I've just gotta come out of lurking mode to comment on this one. It may be that I'm just grumpy today because I'm in nicotine withdrawal, but this puzzle annoyed me.

I flat-out had to guess at the BISSAU (13A)/APP (17D) and AVESTA (98D)/LARISSA (115A)/RUE (116D) crossings. I can't believe that "most" newspapers have an APP. Almost all probably have a website. But an APP? I've seen AVESTA in crosswords before, but don't have it committed to memory. LARISSA (as a regional capital) is not in my toolbox. RUE (as a plant) is incredibly obscure to cross with LARISSA.

Apart from these Naticks, as a proud LIBERAL, I felt a little tweaked at the clue for 29A. I don't know of the connotation of TWITCH that can be a reaction to a pun. A cringe or maybe even a twinge, but a TWITCH? I guess there must be some world where AMA = 'ASK me anything'? If Will says so. And then there's IEST (33A). Unbelievably, XWordInfo says that answer has now been in 16 Shortz-era puzzles. Ugh.

There were other odd clue/answer combos that I don't care to go back and find. The theme was passable, I guess, there wasn't nearly enough juice for the squeeze.

ColoradoCog 1:39 PM  

@nyc_lo, Hint: It looks like you didn’t (mis)spend enough time in college walking down fraternity row.

Banana Diaquiri 1:55 PM  

X isn't chi, but the ASCII character set doesn't, usually, have an escape sequence to glyph a proper capital chi. which makes it wholly unfair.

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

Chi is the name for the Greek letter x.

Suzie Q 2:03 PM  

Jeez, with all of the moaning and twitching I feel almost embarrassed to say I thought this was fun.
But I did.

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

@Banana Misspell - There is no font in which the design of capital X and that of capital Chi are not identical. There is no there there. Capital X comes from capital Chi and the design is exactly the same in every font. Lower case (which is not used in this puzzle), that's a different story.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

Banana Diaquiri - what’s the difference between the shape of a capital chi and that of a capital X from the English alphabet? thanks

pabloinnh 2:26 PM  

Had a good friend from UTICA and have also drunk my share of Utica Club beer, as I too grew up and went to school in Upstate NY. If the school were any farther north, in fact, it would have been in Canada. Would only drink it today in an emergency situation, and even then it would have to be really, really cold.

There was a girl in the high school where I was teaching named Larissa, so thanks, Larissa. Originally i had Laconia, which is a town in NH and sounded about right. Nope.

I'm with the group that found the answers clever and fun to figure out. Also liked HOTTUB and HUBBUB branching out from the same H. Bien hecho, Sr. Vaughan.

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

“That was no lady: that was my rib.”

Re 59D, “first lady.” Already in the 14th century, at the time of the peasants’ revolt in England, notions that there should be a class of aristocrats were condemned as antiquated. The verse,

“When Adam delved and Eve span,
who was then the gentleman?”

recognized that distinctions such as ladies and gentlemen should be discarded. True, the verses reinforced some gender stereotypes (the man plows, the woman weaves), but at least they reflect a more progressive political consciousness than the NY Times in the 21st century.

The term “lady” still shows up, as in the Tennessee women’s basketball team being called the “Lady Vols” (oof!). I think Tennessee being so conservative feared that women actually playing basketball would lose their femininity–we can preserve it by calling the women “ladies.” But Tennessee really should be ashamed of itself.

I won’t get into the title “First Lady,” which I think will be retired after a woman becomes president and we grit our teeth in trying to use the term “First Gentleman.”

Anon. i.e. Poggius

GILL I. 2:56 PM  

@Jillybean 1:13....Are you new at commenting here? If so, I hope you come more often.
My youngest sister calls me Jillybean. The rest of call me Jilly. So..... I love your nom de plume.
Come back!

TubaDon 3:17 PM  

     By coincidence, I happened to read an article in American Scientist this afternoon which mentioned that actress HEDY LAMARR (72D) and composer George Antheil received a 1941 patent for a "frequency-hopping" method of torpedo guidance. It was apparently not used during WWII but variations of the technique are employed in modern Wi-Fi and secure communications systems.

Stanley Hudson 3:20 PM  

@Jake Zavracky, Bravo on all points you made. Extra stars for the righteous Bon Jovi dis.

Mo-T 3:35 PM  

@Lewis 6:41 A.M.

What a hoot. Thanks. I needed that.

thefogman 4:09 PM  

Tough one for me. I almost did it but for one square. I guessed wrong and went with an M instead of a T at the SEATAC/AMYTAN crossing. Pretty good puzzle in spite of my gaffe.

kitshef 4:24 PM  

@Z https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_seas#Marginal_seas

Banana Diaquiri 4:25 PM  

capital Chi, if done as a pixel glyph. will show the NW to SE (top) line at least twice the thickness of the NE to SW (rear) line. you can look it up.

Vernon'sdad 4:32 PM  

What loren said! This was fun-- a smart, satisfying puzzle. I'm going to keep reading you, rex, and following loren's nudge, donate to your site, but you gotta loosen up and enjoy life more.

Islander 4:36 PM  

@kitshef: Included in your list of marginal seas is the Long Island Sound. I grew up on the North Shore (West Egg). I didn’t grow up on the ocean side. That would be Long Beach, Wantagh, etc. The Lisbon clue was correct.

OffTheGrid 4:51 PM  

@TomAz and others.

PET TAXI is a BRAND NAME of pet carrier. Look shit up instead of bothering the blog with it. JEESH!

Jon Alexander 5:57 PM  

The only thing that saved me was remembering thinking the Larissa was a weird capital name in some mus um when I visited Greece several years ago so as the, naturally, last thing to go on the grid, I managed the bell on the first shot.

That theme should be locked in a deep dark dungeon, never to reemerge...the title pisses me off the most. In now way does "duh" imply the even in the off kilter rhyming sense....a title of "What the...?" would have been sooooo much better, not only be pause it works as a standalone phrase, but because then IT ACTUALLY MAKES SENSE VIS A VIS THE PUZZLE.

L 6:45 PM  

Agreed. That would be perfect

Irishmaineiac 7:17 PM  

Eagerer???!!! Really??? It's as grating as "efforting." I know language evolves, but couldn't it wait until my ears are no longer of this world?

Anonymous 8:35 PM  

With rue my heart is laden
For golden friends I've had,
For many a rose-lipped maiden
And many a lightfoot lad.....

Surprised no one seems to know that Houseman poem...

Hungry Mother 9:22 PM  

A late DNF. I started early (PST), but wnet for a run, ate two lunches, watched “Aquaman”, and tried to finish, but failed on 4 squares. No way I would ever know 2 of them.

Izzie 10:52 AM  

Try putting your tee shirt in the pet taxi next time. Don’t wash it first. You could also leave it open in the house when you’re not going to the vet and let her have free access.
This puzzle challenged me.

Amy 5:40 PM  

Must say Bissau is legit. If Rex claims otherwise he can no longer claim anything related to medieval lit is a gimme.

John Shelton 4:52 PM  

OK, this comment is a bit late because I make Tuesdays my Sundays (I’m retired, so I can get away with that). Color printers don’t typically use blue ink. They usually use cyan, magenta, and yellow (69A).

spacecraft 11:46 AM  

I am in full agreement with OFL on this one: what a slog! I too happened to guess the double-Natick correctly; purely by chance. BISSAU went in on crosses; OI was very doubtful I had everything right. Turns out I did, but felt little of the usual triumph. Just lucky. The fill suffers greatly from theme-cramming. Of course, there's no shortage of material for it:

Way to go below deck?
Brain shop?
One bringing news of a skeet meet?

Etc. NEARER, my God, to the finish: that I buy. EAGERER?? You gotta be kidding me. It surely went AGAINSTGRAIN for me to go through this, so despite a star-studded DOD pool, (Hedy LAMARR edges out RENEE Russo by not much), this one gets a double-bogey.



AnonymousPVX 12:52 PM  

I got the solve because, like others, I guessed correctly at the Natick crossings. 113A is one of those clues where the constructor rubs his/her hands together and sneers “They’ll never get that!”.
Not to mention eagerer, wow.
The thing is, it wasn’t a bad concept and actually could have been a much better puzzle with a few tweaks.
I usually feel some satisfaction when I get a solve, but here I just felt relieved. And a bit angry actually.

Burma Shave 1:28 PM  


like, "Which of THESE in my BRA'S a BREST or ATIT?"


rondo 2:38 PM  

Got it at SEALDEAL, which really did SEAL the DEAL. Did not care for EAGERER; even the missus, whose second language is English, knows not to tag -er onto words of more than one syllable: more EAGER is more correct.

The four corner squares often spell a word. Today: HUSK

LSATS are taken by future One-Ls, less than 50% of whom become J.D.s.


ENNEADS are too many.

LARISSA Pereira, Brazilian and Premiere League soccer star Roberto Firmino's wife, yeah baby. Together they are the "Brazilian Beckhams". I wonder who CHASTE whom.

About all this puz did was kill TIME.

rainforest 3:29 PM  

Au revoir.

I will not be commenting again - maybe never, but I know, never say never.

When I first discovered this blog I thought it was a godsend. I liked Rex/Michael and admired his witty and insightful posts. The intelligence and erudition of the commentariat was a bonus.

As with most blogs, though, negativity has crept in, led by Rex, and there has been a noticeable increase in the boastfulness and faux authority positions presented by too many of the commenters. Too much of the "only I know what a good puzzle should be" attitude.

So, I rarely read Rex anymore, and I skip over a ton of the commenters. I like LMS, Lewis, Gill I, M&A, and usually the other Syndies. However, commenting has become a chore I don't wish to complete anymore, or at least anytime soon.

So long.

Diana, LIW 5:14 PM  

@Rainy - I'll miss your comments! You bring an international aire (sic) to the Syndercate. I thought the fun and frolicsome tone of Syndieland made up for any other "Debbie Downers" that might lurk in Futureland. Why not continue to solve and just read the Synders? That's often what I do, and then I might graze thru the Future if anyone gets a proper mention. (Or I read a fav or two, like LMS, Lewis, Teed, etc.) Anyway - your post made a rainy day rainier...

Wherever you land...don't be a robot!

Thought the puz was a bit of puffy fun for a Sunday - I do like a pun or a play on words. Hope that doesn't make anyone TWITCH!

Don't you think "The Supreme Court and the Muses" sound like a great punk band? That's my Hedy subject.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for rosswords

Teedmn 11:12 PM  

@rainforest, I add my plea to @Diana's comment. I think her advice is sound - your comments are always appreciated, with the Canadian POV always welcome. As a Futurelander, I usually read 99% of the comments but I know who to avoid and when to skim @Rex. I swear sometimes Rex is just trolling us with some of his more outrageous remarks; coincidentally, the comment count usually goes up on those days of outrage. Could it be...?

If you must leave us, I wish you all the best!

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