Synagogue singer with hokey humor / THU 1-10-19 / Japanese box meal / Oklahoma's Air Force Base

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Constructor: Jeff Slutzky and Derek Bowman

Relative difficulty: Easy to Easy-Medium (the latter for me, but I solved very ploddingly, with sleep in my eyes, so...) (AH ... wait, it's oversized? OK, then def Easy) (5:10)


THEME: TOR! AH ... (68A: Sacred text ... or your reaction upon figuring out this puzzle's theme?) — "TOR" is added to familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, clued wackily:

Theme answers:
  • CAPTOR IN HAND (21A: Kidnapper who gets arrested?)
  • BEAT THE RAPTOR (29A: Win a one-on-one game against a Toronto hoops player?)
  • "KEEP IT, REALTOR!" (45A: "I don't want this house after all"?)
  • CANTOR OF CORN (55A: Synagogue singer with hokey humor?)
Word of the Day: SANDRA Oh (10D: Oh, what an actress!) —
Sandra Miju Oh (born July 20, 1971) is a Canadian actress. She is known for her role as Cristina Yang on the ABC medical drama series Grey's Anatomy, set in the United States, which she played from 2005 to 2014. For her role, she earned a Golden Globe Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and five nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She also had a supporting role on the HBO drama series Arliss. In 2018, Oh began starring as Eve Polastri in BBC America's murder-mystery series Killing Eve; for her performance, she became the first actress of Asian descent to be nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama, becoming the first Asian woman to win two Golden Globes. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hello! It's the first full week after New Year's Day and that means it's time for my annual pitch for financial contributions to the blog, during which I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. As you know, I write this blog every. Single. Day. OK, two days a month I pay young people to write it, but every other day, all me. OK sometimes I take vacations and generous friends of mine sit in, but otherwise, I'm a non-stop blogging machine. Seriously, it's a lot of work. It's at least as much work as my day job, and unlike my day job, the hours *kinda* suck—I typically solve and write between 10pm and midnight, or in the early hours of the morning, so that the blog can be up and ready for you to read with your breakfast or on the train or in a forest or wherever it is you enjoy the internet. I have no major expenses, just my time. As I've said before, I have no interest in "monetizing" the blog in any way beyond simply asking for money once a year. I hate ads in real life, so why would I subject you all to them. I actually considered redesigning the site earlier this year, making it slicker or fancier somehow. I even got the process partly underway, but then when I let slip that I was considering it, feedback was brisk and clear: don't change. Turns out people don't really want whistles and bells. Just the plain, internet-retro style of a blogger blog. So that's what you're getting. No amount of technical tinkering is gonna change the blog, which is essentially just my voice. My ridiculous opinionated voice yelling at you, cheerfully and angrily, about how much I love / hate crosswords. I hope that this site has made you laugh or taught you things or given you a feeling of shared joy, or anger, or failure, or even given you someone to yell at. I'm fine with that. I also hope I've introduced some of you to the Wider World of Crosswords, beyond the NYT. I am passionate about puzzles and I (mostly) adore the people who solve them—so many of my friends, and the thousands of you I've never met. I can't stop, and I won't stop, and I hope you find that effort worth supporting.

Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address:

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
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All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions (I. Love. Snail mail!) will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. This year's cards are illustrations from "Alice in Wonderland"—all kinds of illustrations from throughout the book's publication history. Who will get the coveted, crosswordesey "EATME!" card!? Someone, I'm sure. You, I hope. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support.

Now on to the puzzle!
• • •

Let me start with the sorry-to-be-annoying bad news, which is that the revealer is just wrong. It's a very nice thought, a nice try, an interesting way to try to repurpose TORAH, but when you discover something or have a revelation, you either say OHO or AHA, orrrrrrrrr (and this is the crucial part) the "AH" comes first. It does. It just does. Always.





I supposed you can contrive a scenario where the solver says the the three-letter string out loud first and then settles back in her chair and goes "Ah," but that's, well, contrived. It's always "Ah, [thing you discovered / remembered / are surprised by." So the revealer, while amusing in its aspirational wackiness, just doesn't land. I'd sooner by "TOR! AHA!" than "TOR, AH." That said, the themers are amusing enough, and the grid is pretty clean, so solving this was definitely not an unpleasant experience. I just think revealers should work. Perfectly. Actually, the more you ham it up, the more plausible "TOR! AH!" starts to seem. You have to really exclaim them and draw them out. Like, the revelation is so startling that the letter string comes before the Actual Exclamation. Defensible, maybe. Still, not right to my ear.


All of the difficulty was in parsing the themers, which first involved figuring out what the theme was. I had to drop down to BEAT THE RAPTOR before getting it (had BEAT in place, read the clue, knew a Toronto hoops player was a RAPTOR, and just shoved RAPTOR on the tail end of the answer, and then reasoned the middle of the answer from there). Parsing nonsense phrases can add considerable time to your solve, even after you know what the deal is with the theme. Because ... well, nonsense is not something your solving brain toggles to easily, and the longer the nonsense, the harder it is to parse it, understand its syntax, etc. For me the hardest answer by far was "KEEP IT, REALTOR," largely because there's nothing in the clue to suggest that the phrase is meant to be said With The Interlocutor's Name In It, i.e., there is no indicator of "realtor" in the clue. None. I could easily be saying "I don't want this house after all" to my wife or self anyone, really. So even knowing that TOR had to go in there, even having TOR wedged at the end of the answer, without the "L" (from the toughly clued LARYNX47D: Need to speak) or the "R" (from the "I did not know that" BARONESS40D: Margaret Thatcher, e.g., in her later years), the only word my brain could see was REACTOR. The fact that there is an implied comma in the answer made things nuts. But most of the rest of this grid was pretty straightforward 4- and 5-letter stuff, so no problem. Best thing about this puzzle for me was the cheeky (and timely) clue on SANDRA Oh (10D: Oh, what an actress!) (she co-hosted the Golden Globes just a few days ago).
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

    85 comments:

    Loren Muse Smith 6:34 AM  

    Hah. I guess I’m more willing to play along and go with a reveal that’s a bit of a stretch. I had the same reaction as Rex to TOR – AH! But I just shrugged and ran with it. Fun to try to come up with others. I bet @’merican will. Fred Flintstone was a ROCK OPERATOR? That whatever thingy that (ya gotta work with me here) the Mexican space program is sending to Mars would be LA VIDA LOCATOR?

    A nifty BENTO just captivates me the way an airplane meal and a hospital meal do. And a Lunchables©. I’m so drawn to the neatness and the little compartments. Everything tastes more delicious when it’s all in carefully separated and gimmicky. Come to think of it, I like composed salads, too.

    At first I gave the side-eye to AW COME ON since it’s usually c’mon. But the clue actually saves this long-version spelling. If someone tells me an obvious lie, 6420 outrageous lies, I’m gonna say the phrase with the full pronunciation of the word COME.

    What a photocopier does – well, it jams. It continues to copy the entire 245-page pdf when you forget to ask for only pages 3-7 and hides its icon or any other way to find it on your laptop as you try to cancel the printing. Basically, my classroom is the Discovery One of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and my printer is Hal. And it’s low on ink.

    “FaceTime alternative” – just don’t answer the &%$# thing ‘cause you ate a ton of salty chili yesterday and your face is blown up like a tick. Plus you haven’t showered yet or dealt with that truly heroic chin hair. I. Despise. FaceTime.

    CANTOR OF CORN was my favorite. But I adored (the arguably very CORNy 1980) The Jazz Singer. When Neil Diamond shows up to do the Kol Nidre and his CANTOR father (Laurence Olivier) realizes it’s his son, I cry every time. Cool that the TORAH is so close to CANTOR in the grid.

    Stalking Sarah 6:36 AM  

    Three cheers for Sandra Oh! She is the best.

    BarbieBarbie 6:42 AM  

    That REALTOR objection is pretty contrived. It’s a house, Rex. A house. Get it?
    Yup, JAMS for me too, but I got over it. Fun puzzle and great revealer. Because, here’s the thing: I got the TOR connection, but still needed letters to figure out TORAH, since it’s so out there as a revealer. And that made me go AH. Just exactly the response in the revealer. You don’t get it, you stare, you stare, TOR, TOR, TOR....AH!
    Morah, please!

    Lewis 6:50 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Lewis 6:52 AM  

    Gentlemen, just because Rex doesn't call this a tor de force doesn't mean he didn't like it. This review is a relative rave.

    The theme was fun to figure out and helped me on two answers. The reveal keeps growing on me, and I believe that very soon I'll be calling it brilliant. I loved the clues for TWICE, AMENS, and LARYNX, and especially OH. In several areas my brain had to shift into working-hard mode, its favorite place. So this puzzle gave me a grand old time.

    Leon 6:53 AM  

    All you wanted to know about Vespas.

    Love the correction at the bottom.

    Joe R. 7:17 AM  

    I’m always fascinated by how differently I see the puzzle than Rex. For me, KEEP IT REALTOR was the easy one, when I had KEEP filled in, and that gave away the theme, but I had no idea what the Toronto sportsing team was, and needed some extra letters to figure that one out.

    Amy Yanni 7:24 AM  

    Jodi, my wise-cracking, Harley riding friend, had two sisters who were not quite as bold. After considerable consideration, they approached her and confided they might be open to riding a Vespa. Jodi squinted an eye, tilted her head and replied: "What the hell is a Vespa?"
    Loved the puzzle. It was an interesting struggle.

    kitshef 7:26 AM  

    I feel for anyone who is not 100% sure of MIA Hamm, as RIAN is unguessable.

    BENTO is another of those "words I've never seen outside a crossword" words.

    Wildlife-watch in Florida? Stop for gators.

    Hungry Mother 7:31 AM  

    A slogfest for me. I missread FaceTime as FaceBook and wanted SNAP[CHAT] as a rebus for a while until I figured out the theme.

    pabloinnh 7:51 AM  

    Got it at BEATTHERAPTOR, saw the +TOR thing, and waltzed home from there. Fun theme but a little easy for a Thursday.

    And now off to child care for our one year old granddaughter, who is proving the observation that the world's fastest land animal is a toddler with something in her mouth.

    nitram lepok 8:06 AM  

    Jeff Slutzky is one of the puzzle creators and 51- down answer is Irina Slutskaya. Hmmm

    GHarris 8:06 AM  

    Really liked this one, no quibbles, oohs or aahs. While I got it from crosses and the answer is probably embarrassingly obvious, I don’t see how the answer to 30d is “twice”. Anyone?

    Michael 8:16 AM  

    I haven’t used a Mac desktop in years but I’m pretty sure their ON BUTTONS are on the front. And I’m pretty sure they’re not called that... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Crimson Devil 8:26 AM  

    Enjoyed ATF, synagogue singer, amen chorus and larynx.
    I kept looking for rebus. This is Thursday, n’est ce pas?

    Matthew G. 8:39 AM  

    Not bad. The revealer's forced nature almost made it funnier. A little awkwardness can work here.

    I was slowed down in grokking the theme because I know the expression in the first themer as HAT IN HAND, not CAP IN HAND. And Google ngrams confirms that HAT IN HAND is much, much more common. But apparently the Proclaimers (most famous for 90s hit "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)") had a song called "Cap in Hand," so there's that.

    CT2Napa 8:42 AM  

    30D in the paper (my wife's option) was "How this clue appears" and was repeated. In the NYT app the clue was "Prudent way to think".

    Unknown 8:43 AM  

    Perhaps this is implied, but it wasn’t called out in the review, so I just wanted to add that the theme goes one step beyond just “wacky phrases with TOR in them” to being actual phrases when the TOR portion is removed:

    - Cap in hand
    - Beat the rap
    - Keep it real

    For that, I thought it was extra clever and made the reveal that much more interesting. Enjoyed it!

    Boxer 8:48 AM  

    @Kitshef, Visit Sacramento (or lots of other California towns) where you will see bento box restaurants or bento box menu items at Japanese restaurants, and enjoy the great food!
    .

    QuasiMojo 8:53 AM  

    This strikes me as a puzzle only a puzzle constructor’s mother could love. Or perhaps Jackie Mason. Oy, the Borscht Belt humor of it all. Plus never having heard of Sandra Oh (sounds like a cereal or a type of cookie) I struggled mightily. Nor did I chuckle once. The whole schmear was from hunger.

    Odd Sock 8:55 AM  

    Why a can of corn? Why not a can of baked beans? Or a can of soup?
    Can of worms might have been fun to work with.
    As it stands I didn't think any of these were particularly clever.
    If you don't know what FaceTime is you sure don't know the alternative.
    The name in the clue for Irina made me glance up to the constructors.
    A clue about eagles or hawks would have given you better material to work with for the raptor theme answer.
    Arnie? Has anyone ever actually called him that?
    Meh. On to Friday.

    Nancy 9:02 AM  

    I really enjoyed this one. Because I didn't know any of the proper names in the NW, I couldn't enter there, and kept my fingers crossed that I would get in somewhere. Then the middle of the top presented its own problems: I had RAvE instead of RATE at 19A, giving me GOv- for the "dark look." Misinterpreting the clue as some sort of GLARE or EVIL EYE, I was completely baffled and assumed the puzzle had to be a rebus. It's Thursday, after all. So I did something I seldom do; I jumped to the revealer section to find out what the rebus was. But instead the rebus wasn't -- and this was a vitally important thing to know.

    The TOR thing helped me solve in places I wouldn't have -- and that's my favorite kind of theme. CAPTOR IN HAND opened up the pesky NW for me and enabled me to finish. By now, I had changed RAVE TO RATE, gotten GOTH and said "Aha" as the play on words belatedly dawned on me. I liked all the theme puns and thought they were well and fairly clued. TORAH seemed like sort of a meh revealer, but it didn't matter. I was challenged and entertained by the puzzle.

    Hartley70 9:32 AM  

    I really liked this one. I started at the bottom this morning because after VESPA nothing came to me up top. VESPAs were all the rage in my mid 1960 high school years. Sadly for some, helmets were not. We have a VESPA dealer here in town but I have never seen a single one on the road, not in 39 years. Maybe the sign is a remnant of bygone days.

    CANTOR and TORAH close together had me looking for a theme in the wrong direction and I didn’t want to give it up. I love it when that happens because the AH/AHa moment is so sweet. I can go either way, but Oprah is the gal who gave the advantage to ”AHa moment”.

    I just spent 3 hours looking at SANDRA Oh on Sunday and I had to come here to understand why SANDRA was the answer. I’m not firing on all cylinders today.

    @pabloinnh you gave me a good laugh in your second paragraph. It’s so true when ours is heading for the stairs.

    GILL I. 9:37 AM  

    TOR que fun. An amusing Thursday with really nice cluing....SANDRA Oh being my favorite.
    One of those days where you have all the letters filled in and you stare. With me it was staring at CAPTOR IN HAND which sent me off looking for CUFFS. BEAT THE RAPTOR was another stare fest. Ooh...TOR is the something something. Yep...gotta remove you, TOR. AH so that's the conceit. Loved it!
    CANTOR OF CORN was just plain ol' fun. Sure, I was looking for worms - who wasn't? Speaking of CANTOR....they finally allow women to lead prayer in music. Finally - don't you think? Listen to Barbra Streisand sing Avinu Malkeinu and that should knock your socks off.
    We SKYPE all the time. My and my husband's family live all over the place. Of course it's planned so I do my facial and chin hair removal before we go on stage. The grandkids love it. I'm called Noni and the eldest always tells me I have too much makeup on.....
    I think the only huh today was the ON BUTTON answer for things in the back. How old was this Mac? All the BUTTONS I've ever met were in the front.
    GIG economy? What dat? I'll have to look it up. So Maggies became a BARONESS? Didn't know that. I know she and her family suffered greatly with Alzheimer's but I like that she became better known in the House of Lords.
    Thank you Jeff and Derek for an enjoyable TOR day.

    Earth Girl 9:56 AM  

    I can’t believe it’s a Monday already where did the weekend go ?

    Amelia 10:02 AM  
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    Mr. Benson 10:04 AM  

    I enjoy checking out didrexparkerlikethepuzzle.com for the hot-take version. Today's string of backhanded compliments is scored as a thumbs-up ("this was definitely not an unpleasant experience"). Agreed, that's as good as it gets. Thanks to whoever runs that site -- it's always good for a laugh.

    Music Man 10:07 AM  

    Sandra Oh also was great in the film “Sideways” (2004)

    Z 10:09 AM  

    After the holidays in Michigan and then 9 days in Florida to recover from the holidays I'm finally back to solving in the paper. So much better. Hence, I was predisposed to love this puzzle and it didn't disappoint. I'm with @Matthew G. I had the same initial response as Rex but then went, "Nah - backwards is even better - go big wacky or go home." I imagine it being said with that same intonation one makes while getting into a hot tub, "TOR, AHhhhhh."

    @Michael - I currently own three Macs. The Air has the power button on the keyboard, but the Mini and the iMac both have the ON BUTTONS in the back.

    @LMS - OMG how I hated every teacher having their own printer. Way to wreck a building's budget. If I remember correctly, the cost per page was something like nine or ten times greater than using the laser printer in the main office. That doesn't include the extra tech support and frustration inspired by the damn things. The cost thing really adds up the bigger the building. 15 teacher elementary school the added cost barely causes a wrinkle. 150 teacher high school, on the other hand, means the added cost can really dent a building's budget. It is this sort of seemingly innocuous thing that can cause administrator meetings to get ugly and teachers wonder why their principals come back from them surly. The HS principal wants to spend $ on other things while the elementary principal wants the convenience for their staff. But then the elementary principal is all pissed off because the tech person is tied up all day at the HS making sure all the printers are working right and can't get over to the elementary to solve their server issue. Rah! Just thinking about it makes me want to head back to Key Largo.

    Z 10:15 AM  

    @Amelia - Where did Rex make fun of Jews? I see a lot of discussion about the revealer, TORAH, in relation to it's punniness and accuracy of how speech works. Did I miss something?

    JC66 10:22 AM  

    @Old Sock

    In baseball, CAN(TOR) OF CORN is fly ball that's easy to catch.

    Amelia 10:23 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Roo Monster 10:27 AM  

    Hey All !
    Not a TOR-ible puz, but doesn't it seem it should've been switched with Yesterday's?
    No? I guess it's just me.

    SE corner was my flailing spot. Didn't know IRINA, or SOFIA (wanted SOchi) and GIG oddly clued. Had to look up the skater's name, and then finished without an error. A cheat, so a technical DNF, although I got the rest of puz correct.

    Not entirely sure why it had to be 16 wide. There's not a center answer that had to be even lettered. That's usually why you go to 16. Fuzzy on the CAP IN HAND phrase. So that held me up a tad in the NW. Weird clue for ESSAY, also.

    Overall, not too bad. TOR! AH! That's close enough to what I said when I figured out the theme. TOR! OUT! AH! is a bit closer. Har.

    Odd to see AMENS on top of TORAH.

    GNASH OOMPH
    RooMonster
    DarrinV

    pwoodfin 10:30 AM  

    Better think twice before... pick your warning... going in there. Jumping off that cliff. Stealing that gum.

    Rob 10:34 AM  

    Good puzzle. 10D was inspired.

    Molasses 10:49 AM  

    @GHarris Did your question get answered? The clue I saw was "prudent way to think." You'd better think twice. Now I have Aretha in my head. Not a bad way to start the day.

    I liked this puzzle, found it impossible last night, but with all remaining brain cells coming to the party, was able to finish it this morning. Not 100% Google-free (Vance AFB and Irina Slutskaya) but pretty good for me.

    mmorgan 10:52 AM  

    First themer I got was KEEP IT REALTOR though I had to get one or two more before seeing the added TOR pattern. The last thing I filled in was the TORAH revealer and it was just wacky, forced, and groany enough to give me a nice big smile. Fun puzzle!

    I know we all have different wheelhouses, but I find it interesting (no judgment implied) that some have never heard of BENTO boxes (I guess I go to a lot of Japanese restaurants) or SANDRA Oh or the GIG economy. But I had never heard of Howard Elston the other day, and some found it incomprehensible that anyone wouldn’t know him (and of course there are many oceans worth of stuff that I don’t know). So there you go.

    Banana Diaquiri 11:15 AM  

    the only show I've seen Oh in is "Killing Eve", which, given its origins, looked to be a good show. then I watched it, and then... the plot and acting are over the top preposterous. nobody in the real world behaves the way those bunch of hams did. yeow. I was expecting "True Detective", first series. what we got was the spawn of Joyce Kilmer and WWE.

    Suzie Q 11:27 AM  

    I suppose it's a "wave length" sort of thing that kept me from feeling any momentum.
    A can of corn is a baseball term? I guess with a game as slow as baseball you have plenty of time to come up with that kind of silliness.
    Another Thursday that made me feel cheated out of some Thursday fun.

    My desk top Mac had a power button on the back. As if that wasn't awkward enough, that is where the USB ports and microphone jack were.
    The front of the computer looked sleek but having to turn the whole darned thing so I could find those jacks was bad design.

    Tom 11:29 AM  

    Just ordered a Bento box yesterday at the food court in a Westfield mall. Don’t have Japanese food much Kitshef? Pretty standard offering at most sushi places.

    jae 11:36 AM  

    Easy-medium. No real problems with this one. Amusing with a cute/clever kicker, which worked for me. Liked it.

    Masked and Anonymous 11:40 AM  

    TOR - AH! … har. Probably better than GA! … TOR! Certainly better than AGITA TOR, anyhow. TOR ONTO might worked, tho.

    Nice puz with primo fillins and clues. Theme mcguffin is maybe a dash too easy for a ThursPuz, but that's ok by m&e. It's a matter of nanometers, from bein within range of yer typical Thursday feist.

    fave clue was the one in the newspaper version, for TWICE:
    DOWN
    ...
    30. How this clue appears
    30. How this clue appears


    fave fillins, of many good ones: AWCOMEON. LARYNX. ONBUTTONS. BARONESS. INCHED. GNASH.

    staff weeject pick: URL. Has the token puz U in it. Honrable mention & an ah to TOR -- and an ever-luvin ooh to the feisty ATF's clue; it has some of that there OOMPH.

    Thanx for gangin up on us, Jeff & Derek. Man … kinda a torough shut-down week for U's, tho ...

    Masked & AnonymoUs


    hadta do it:
    **gruntz**

    Anonymous 11:45 AM  

    Thank you very much Mr. Slutzky and Mr. Bowman for a fairly challenging and very enjoyable puzzle.

    ArtO 11:57 AM  

    Any time you get a CANTOR and a TORAH in a crossword puzzle it's worthy of celebration.

    Crimson Devil 12:03 PM  

    Can of Corn is, indeed, a baseball term for fly ball usually higher than “pop up” and easily caught.
    Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in about a month.

    JC66 12:11 PM  

    Don't Think TWICE is classic Bob Dylan.

    Calman Snoffelevich 12:27 PM  

    CAP IN HAND is a familiar phrase? GTFO.

    CDilly52 12:40 PM  

    @Quasi, I am with you 100%. That said, I truly enjoy the puzzles that folks either love or hate. While I thought that the theme was forced and boring and the puzzle itself overall not a bit interesting or clever, many adored and chuckled.

    This sort of experience illustrates that we will never, ever truly understand the human brain. My daughter is making a literal “college try” at research and a dissertation on the human need for creativity and the positive effects of one’s creative activities on the limbic brain. My fascination is boundless, as is her frustration at this point.

    A slogfest for me but fortunately, a shorter than usual Thursday effort.

    Teedmn 1:13 PM  

    I'm with @Hartley70 with the brain skipping and pinging a bit today. This took much longer than the clue-answer pairs or the 16X15 grid indicate it should have but perhaps it is due to the "nonsense phrase" facTOR Rex mentions. I started at BEAT THE RAPTOR (not because I have any idea what the Toronto bball team is called) and that helped me go back to 21A. But for 45A, I had ____TREALTOR and couldn't get past a phrase that would be ___geT REALTOR.

    Similarly, I couldn't get CANTOR OF worms out of my head, but re-reading the clue and seeing CORN = hokey humor got me through that one. Why is CAN OF CORN more in the language than CAN OF peas?

    BARONESS, nothing to do with Alzheimer's, which is all I knew about Margaret Thatcher's later days. Guess I have to watch the Meryl Streep movie.

    Nice job guys, and congrats to Jeff Slutzky on his debut puzzle. I had to laugh, reading xwordinfo comments, that Jeff Slutzky knew the theme to Dear EVAN Hansen when it was parodied at the ACPT - that's when I first heard of the musical. The guy next to me asked me what that song was from. I had no idea but the one line (can't remember it now) was recognizable enough that when I Googled it on my handy iPad, it came right up with Dear EVAN Hansen and I was able to give some ALOE to my and my seatmate's curiosity. And today, except for thinking it was Eric at first, that helped me at 7D.

    JC66 1:26 PM  

    @Teedmn

    Re: CAN(TOR) OF CORN

    I don't feel so bad that you missed my 10:22 comment since you also missed @Crimson Devil's 12:03. ;-)

    Z 1:35 PM  

    @Calman Snoffelevich - I'm more familiar with "hat in hand," but Uncle Google turned up song lyrics, multiple dictionary citations, and an article on salary caps in sports using CAP IN HAND in the title. So crossworthy enough apparently.

    I never saw a BENTO Box until I moved south. I wonder if it is a regional thing in it's frequency.

    @Suzie Q - Or excellent design if you think turning your computer around once so that nobody ever has to see all those cords a worthwhile trade-off.

    @amelia - I see what you meant now. I think the difference is quite clear, which is probably why I mistook your meaning.

    Interesting that the website couldn't replicate the TWICE clue from the paper. I thought it was too cute by half as a clue yet I continue to be bemused by NYTX Tech's limitations.

    Teedmn 2:23 PM  

    @JC66 and others, yeah, sorry about the repeats. I usually write my comment and get it in before reading everyone else because I want to get it done during my lunch hour. Then I can read the comments at my leisure. When I think of it, I hit Ctrl-F to see if others had the same idea but I failed to do so today.


    RE: CAP IN HAND, see Pibroch Cap in Hand

    QuasiMojo 2:57 PM  

    @CDilly52, thanks for sharing your comment. I was beginning to think I’d done a different puzzle from everyone else. What an intriguing study your daughter is making. And a worthy one. I wish her all the best in her endeavor.

    Doug Garr 3:07 PM  

    The theme made no sense to me. I had the two in the middle first, which seemed like nice puns. The other two, WTF? Not even close to being in the same ball park as those. So it took me forever to get finished, stumbling in the NW and SE.

    Anonymous 3:18 PM  

    Jews said AMEN in the Old Testament and say it nowadays in their services. Why is it odd to see it near TORAH in the puzzle?

    Joe Dipinto 3:26 PM  

    Rian Johnson on Twitter is gobsmacked at being in the NYT puzzle. He's changing his name to 22 Down.

    Anonymous 4:29 PM  

    Peter, Paul and Mary did a nice version too. I’ll post a link if folks can’t find it.

    Monty Boy 5:23 PM  

    I liked the puzzle because I got all of it without a lookup. Got the PPP from crosses. I usually have to look up several.

    Most of my comments have been covered above. Others: I had to relearn how to spell the voice box thing. I had BIGoaf at first, but crosses changed that. I got the theme answers before the reveal as it seems several others did.

    A while back we had the BEANER discussion. I offered that it may be a local or regional thing like "can of corn" with the Pirate announcers. Several cited other announcers using the term. And here we have it as part of the answer to a themer. Go figure.

    From yesterday with the I as only vowel, and TMI as the reveal (Too Many Is). For it's other meaning (too much information), I first heard TMI from my kids who then offered other phrases: Ovesharing, roughing the listener. There are referee signals to use in conversation. Passing your hand over your head for the first, and boxing an ear for the second. Maybe those are also repeats, but were new (and hilarious) for me. I still use them.

    SJ Austin 5:58 PM  

    COMO - SOFIA - IRINA oof. I didn't know Natick had an 8-corner intersection.

    Anonymous 6:33 PM  

    Who decided TMI means too many i's? The clue was "Didn't need to know that!"

    Harryp 8:22 PM  

    This was an easy week so far, hoping tomorrow will be a challenge.

    Z 8:48 PM  

    @anon6:33 - Wrong day. And the idea is “too many I’s” would have been a good revealer yesterday, so not doing so was a missed opportunity.

    Nancy 8:51 PM  

    @CDilly52 (12:40) -- What an interesting-sounding dissertation. It sounds like something really original -- something that maybe has never been studied before. (Though I suppose just about everything has been studied by someone.) I assume her field is Psychology? Or maybe pre-Med? Anyway, your daughter sounds brilliant.

    Adam Frank 9:57 PM  

    I loved the revealer on this - it made me laugh out loud. And I thought it was perfect, and the themers all worked. I agree that KEEP IT REALTOR, was the hardest to parse. I also had SPIES for SPOTS, which hurt me in the NE. I liked all the themers, but CANTOR OF CORN was great - it hit on all cylinders. I found it harder than @Rex did, but I *really* enjoyed the theme.

    Tita A 11:16 PM  

    @pablo, @hartley - amen to that toddler!!

    @lms & @gill...yes, we skype or whatsapp lots. I always go into panic not only about that mammoth chin hair, but also about what a mess the house is, in case we have to walk around to show how much snow we've gotten or show off the Presépio (Christmas Village) or otherwise wander about the house where everyone can SPOT the laundry scattered on the couch waiting
    to be folded or the cat hairs that miraculously coalesce into animated objects at alarming rates, etc., etc..

    But its all worth it when 2-year old granddaughter turns to her momma and shouts with unabashed delight "It's Titi!!" I'm starting to tear up just writing about it...
    (Even if her next words are "Where's Marz?" (Our cat.). Hey - the pecking order could be the other way around.)

    Sorry, but this puzzle did very little for me. Not what I consider a Thursday theme. I had great hopes with an awesome 1A VESPA. I've always wanted one. It will be red. But before I get my dream motorbike I have to get my dream car - a red 2CV.

    Joe Dipinto 12:05 AM  

    @JC66 & Anonymous -- and then there was the version of "Don't Think Twice" by the "Wonder Who":

    Brrrt, brrrrrrr -- why babe, why babe?
    Brrrt, brrrrrrr -- why babe, why babe?

    Andrea Ojeda 12:43 AM  

    Nope, they’re on the back. Nothing will tarnish the sleek, clean look of an iMac face.

    cordwainer 1:54 AM  

    The theme is properly expressed as "Tor?...Ah!"
    :-)

    Burma Shave 10:33 AM  

    OLDE PRO

    AW,COMEON, THE BARONESS is calmer
    than to BEATTHERAPTOR or THE band,
    THO SOFIA just SCOFFSAT ROSY Palmer,
    who HATHA CAPTORIN EACH HAND.

    --- VANCE O’CASEY

    this stream of unconsciousness does not RATE a NOBEL prize

    spacecraft 11:08 AM  

    I'm in the "Huh??" crowd for cap in hand. Never heard of it. Hat, maybe, but not cap. To lead off with that themer is to cost me many nanoseconds. I filled it in but did not know what was going on. Fortunately, I knew about the Toronto RAPTORs, and by the next one I had the trick. Squirreling away the revealer on the last line adds to the difficulty factor, as do several of the clues. I make it medium, perhaps leaning toward the challenging end, for a Thursday.

    It is raining cats and dogs--not your usual Vegas weather--here on this soggy Valentine's Day; nonetheless, have a happy one, y'all.

    Please do not push the ONBUTTONS on your TIMEBOMBS!! Some good fill here, including a cleverly-clued crossing of STYX/LARYNX. The DOD competition is fierce today; I would have gone with MIA Hamm for the LEGS, but then SOFIA Vergara APPEARed and the contest was over. Birdie.

    thefogman 11:31 AM  

    Meh! I RATE this one EASY THO it wasn't much fun. The theme lacked OOMPH and not enough enjoyable BITS. That really STYX in my craw. After I solved the reveal my reaction was AWCOMEON - not TORAH. Nothing to GNASH my teeth over but I'm feeling like a cranky old TOAD so it APPEARS I'm with Rex today.

    Anonymous 12:26 PM  

    Anon 6:33 & Z -- Back to Tuesday. I thought that "Didn't need to know that" was a perfect clue for both Too Much Information and for Too Many I's. To solve the puzzle, I did not need to know that there were "too many I's". In fact, I didn't notice "all I's" until I read blog. But on xword, neither Chen nor constructor mentioned the double meaning - unintended?

    Diana, LIW 1:14 PM  

    For me? On Valentine's Day? Oh thanks! It's perfect

    A Thursday w/o a rebus!!! TOR me up!

    Not too hard, maybe too easy for a Thursday, but grand fun since it was an actual crossword and not one of those mystery puzzles. I know, some of you love them, and I'm working on getting better with those rebi.

    Yesterday my comments were cut short by our power outages - one 2-hour and one 5-hour - winds knocking over trees and all that. Mr. W and I went out for an early Val Dal din din.

    @Strayling gave a brilliant response yesterday to the puzzle I purloined from Will (see Tuesday's post if you don't know what's going on.) Think DOOK.

    Diana, Lady in Waiting

    rondo 2:51 PM  

    Cry to a lonely blackjack dealer: You wanna betTOR?
    I got the CANTOROFCORN first and worked my way up. Didn’t think it particularly EASY. But NARY a write-over, so there’s that. I’ve only known hat INHAND. St. Paul, MN also has a Lake COMO, so gimme there.

    I had ABBIE Hoffman’s ‘Steal This Book’ and fittingly, someone stole it from my car.

    ARNIE is Mr. Palmer, the other guy is Ahnold.

    Didn’t they add Explosives to ATF?

    Killer Queen by Queen: In conversation, she spoke just like a BARONESS . . .

    In OFL’s Word of the Day write-up about yeah baby SANDRA Oh, it tells us that she has two Golden Globes; I coulda told ya that beforehand. Obvious, no?

    I’m finished guys: That’s all for now menTOR.

    rainforest 2:59 PM  

    I'm going to comment without reading @Rex or any of the other commenters just to see how much out of the mainstream I am.

    I really liked this puzzle. The theme was creative and consistent - four in-the-language three-word phrases which with the addition of TOR become new three-word phrases that make sense. Plus a good revealer. Plus good fill. If anyone has a snit about ON BUTTONS, they just don't appreciate a decent Thursday which is sort of like a rebus, but isn't. Another plus. Also SANDRA Oh (Canadian). Hard to beat that.

    Now let's go se what others have said.

    Diana, LIW 3:37 PM  

    Sorry - it's a nine-letter word for "left"

    Lady Di

    rondo 3:57 PM  

    Hint: Just like a cryptic clue from a harper's puz.

    leftcoastTAM 4:08 PM  

    TOR opened up this tough and clever puzzle, which required some LEGS to finish. Might have have been happier with an AHA instead of just an AH, but found the AH sufficient.

    The CAN[TOR]OFCORN came first, CAP[TOR]INHAND showed up last, and enjoyed them all.

    The NW was the toughest part. The V in VESPA/VANCE was the last letter in, but wanted OH before AW in AWCOMEON. NSYNC didn't help in that corner either. (Are they really all bassi?)

    My last response was a relieved AHHH.

    rondo 7:34 PM  

    @lefty - Lance Bass is/was one of the guys in NSYNC.

    strayling 7:51 PM  

    Hard work but fair, apart from that RIAN/MIA cross. It's like flipping a coin to decide who spelled their name wrong if you haven't heard of either.

    @Diana -- a cryptic answer for a fun cryptic puzzle

    Diana, LIW 9:29 PM  

    @Strayling - kudos to our winner

    @Rondo - I'm sure you got it, too. Or you heard it on the radio last month. Is it a cryptic? I'm still trying to figure them out - just bought a "how to" book.

    Anyone else who's still curious...make a 9-letter word meaning "left" out of:

    A B AND ONE D (abandoned)

    See?

    Lady Di

    leftcoastTAM 12:32 AM  

    @rondo -- Aha, so it's Lance Bass, thanks. Misdirection of "Bass group" proper name clue was of no help here.

    tingod 1:42 PM  

    Makes it difficult for those of us who don’t like sushi. 😊

    tingod 1:46 PM  

    I only get to do one crossword a week and I get it a month late. Loved this one except for Bento and while I got “Sandra”, I didn’t connect it to Sandra Oh until I came to the blog. Got the “tor” words fairly quickly, had problems with some of the shorter words.

    tingod 1:56 PM  

    I’m always a month behind and only get one NYT puzzle per week. I solved all of this except for “bento” never heard of it despite frequently eating Japanese food with my fellow dojo members. Still do not get “bigape “. Can someone explain that please?

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