Actress Ramirez Grey's Anatomy / WED 2-13-19 / Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer-winning graphic novel / Onetime Volvo alternative / Rhyming description for IHOP's Fresh N Fruity pancakes

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Constructor: Ross Trudeau

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: PLANETARY / ALIGNMENT (2D: With 36-Down, astronomical rarity ... or a hint to the circled letters) — the SUN and the names of four (?) planets can be found in circled squares in the grid; I guess the planets are "aligned," in that you can draw a straight line from the SUN through all the planet names to SATURN ... pretty ragged "alignment," but defensible, I guess:

Theme answers:
  • GESUNDHEIT (15A: Common blessing)
  • NO OVEN USE (19A: Safety warning for some kitchenware)
  • HEARTHS (39A: Warm and cozy spots)
  • MARSUPIUM (56A: Kangaroo's pouch)
  • TAKES A TURN (64A: Rolls the dice and moves one's token)
Word of the Day: SARA Ramirez (57D: Actress Ramirez of "Grey's Anatomy") —
Sara Elena Ramírez (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈsaɾa eˈlena raˈmiɾes]; born August 31, 1975) is a Mexican American actress, singer, and songwriter. Born in MazatlánSinaloa, she graduated with a fine arts degree from the Juilliard School. She began acting in Broadway productions, making her debut with Paul Simon's The Capeman, and later ventured into film and television roles. Ramirez is a recipient of a Tony Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a Satellite Award, among other accolades.
Ramirez's portrayal of the original Lady of the Lake in the 2005 Broadway musical Spamalot won her acclaim and the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She gained wider recognition for her role as Dr. Callie Torres in Grey's Anatomy. She made her debut as a voice artist with the 1999 video game entitled UmJammer Lammy, and has voiced Queen Miranda in the animated series Sofia the First (2012–present).
Ramirez released her first single "Silent Night" in 2009. Her self titled extended play debuted at no. 37 at the Billboard 200 in 2011. Ramirez is also an activist and extensively campaigns for LGBT rights. She was awarded the Ally for Equality Award by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in 2015. (wikipedia)
• • •

Kind of an inverted Tuesday puzzle—yesterday's puzzle was OK theme, rough grid. Today's: OK grid, rough theme. By "rough" I mean I don't get it. I don't get how these are "aligned" or why these planets or if this is some astrological phenomenon that's in the news or what (quick Google does not suggest a PLANETARY / ALIGNMENT is imminent).  Some of the planetary bodies do the (good) thing where they run across the various words of the phrase they're embedded in, but then SUN and EARTH and MARS are just sitting inside words—not as interesting. Grid has a cool shape and the long answers (all over the place) give the grid real interest, though, so I actually liked solving this much better than I liked solving yesterday's. I solved this one even faster than I solved yesterday's, so that too was enjoyable. All I can say was that getting PLANETARY / ALIGNMENT left me shrugging, not OHO'ing.

Puzzle was easy to start because SPAN x SAN had that whole 3x4 area sorted in no time, and the long Downs followed. Parsing NO OVEN USE was very hard for me (the USE part, specifically), and IS OUT was a harsh speed bump as well, but after that I was just flying (until MARSUPIUM, that is, which caused forward momentum to come to a near HALT). Some issues with the latter part of SEA ROUTES, but other than that, everything seemed to go right in. The clue on BARISTA is wrong, as anyone who has had totally ordinary coffee at, say, Starbucks, can testify (45D: One who won't serve the average joe). No idea who SARA Ramirez is, but happy to learn. NICOLAS Maduro is a corrupt homophobic would-be dictator who is in a *bit* of trouble right now (see, for instance, here). Could've done without him, tbh. I.T. BANDS is a nice answer (they can get tight if you run, and are hard to stretch) ("I.T." stands for "iliotibial"). Always happy to see "MAUS," which is legendary (it's on my comics syllabus yet again this semester; daughter had to read it in high school) ("graphic novel" is a misnomer ... it's a biography / memoir, not a "novel" ... but I'll spare you the comics terminology lecture). Bouncy grid, shruggy theme. I've been happier, but I've definitely been madder.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Is NO OVEN USE really a common or known "warning"? Google is not taking kindly to my inquiries. Googling ["no oven use" warning] is giving me as a first hit the NYTXW's house blog :/

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


TomAz 12:21 AM  

NO OVEN USE is not a common warning. Cooking is my #1 hobby (sorry, xwords; sorry, SXSW) and I know kitchenware quite well. I do not recall having once seen NO OVEN USE in that exact phrasing. Or anything close to it, for that matter.

I tore through this thing in 7 1/2 minutes, a good 40% below my average time for a Wednesday, but I got lucky. I was sort-of Naticked at the MAUS/NICHOLAS cross. Never heard of the graphic novel, and MAUi is a thing, and NICHOLAi initially seemed more plausible than MAUS. But NICHOLAi doesn't work for a Latin name, I decided, and dropped in S and hoped for the best. (I know he's been in the news a lot lately, but was blanking on his first name).

I don't worry about themes nearly as much as Rex does. I got PLANETARY ALIGNMENT pretty easily, cuz I've heard of it, and then saw there was the SUN and various planets. I didn't worry if the theme worked or not. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

This is one theme, though, where the circled letters really did help a lot. I figured out the planet thing and dropped them in and it sped up my solve considerably.

I saw Spamalot in its original run years ago (loved it), and thought Sara Ramirez stole the show, and yet needed all the crosses to guess her name. Such is the way with me and actors' names.

jp flanigan 12:37 AM  

Had MAUI crossing NICOLAI...didn't know either MAUS or NICOLAS. Figuring that doubled what would have been an easy time for me.

puzzlehoarder 12:39 AM  

I was surprised to finish this thing in only seconds over Tuesday time. There was some odd stuff in it. I've never heard of ITBANDS or MARSUPIUM. The latter had me thinking the theme had something to do with portmamteau puns.

I filled in the revealers without much thought. The fill was generally so easy I just randomly followed the path of least resistance and had the bottom three planets filled in before noticing what was going on.

This did allow me to fill in VENUS off the V. The SUN is not a planet but it was a forgone conclusion. I hate to admit it but for the rest of 15A I was all set to go with TIGHT. I actually wrote the T in when the intelligent half of my brain suggested I check the crosses. It was good old easy fill to the rescue. I love it when puzzles correct my bad spelling and stifle my lame brained ideas.

TITTLES was an unknown to me while solving. This made little difference and it was only after solving that I checked my notes and realized I'd actually seen it before (more than once.) Brain like a rubber trap.

thfenn 12:48 AM  

I enjoyed it. I suppose, in part, because it was easy, and sometimes Wednesdays aren't. Got held up with Maui/Nicolai, but resolved pretty quickly. Never heard of ITBANDS and don't really get how TITTLES works for 'Jots', but anything with a baseball reference (ISOUT), a fly fishing reference (bug on a hook), and a SAAB (I grew up loving my parents' 3 cylinder 1963 wagon with a lifetime guarantee on the engine - we put in 5, I think) gets a thumbs up from me.

Larry Gilstrap 12:49 AM  

I'm no scientist, but I often have access to a dark sky and balked at the randomness of the themers. The SUN is not a PLANET and we are stuck on EARTH which I can see by peering out my window. So could VENUS, MARS,and SATURN line up? gut tells me yes definitely, as they have for eons and will continue to do from time to time. Never heard it called a MARSUPIUM, but what else would it be called?

Jai ALAI gets a mention. There's a gem from my early solving days.

MIMES result in awkwardness, MeMES in tedium, but I.T. BANDS are just another nameless body part that aches from time to time. Come to think of it, ET body parts would fit the theme.

Nice solve!

jae 12:52 AM  

Easy. Reasonably clever with out as much ese as you might expect given the constraints, liked it.

I do not know what IT BANDS are or why my outer thighs need stabilizing.

chefwen 2:41 AM  

Like @Tom Az, Have never seen the term NO OVEN USE, microwave only yes. Reminded me of Dear Old Dad, while in assisted living he
tried to heat up a microwave dinner on the stovetop and nearly burned the place down. He wasn’t left unsupervised after that. It also reminded me of the time we put a trash can out to the curb, it had some chunks of cement in it and was pretty heavy, the next day it had a note on it, NO CAN TAKE CAN.

Very easy puzzle with only one write over, IRONS over clubs at 54A.

Loren Muse Smith 2:54 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 2:55 AM  

So several thoughts here. I don’t know from PLANETARY anything, so at first I was thinking that when the alignment happens, it just involves these guys. I tried to look into this but lost patience. Then I realized, duh, that the planets featured today are there ‘cause they can be disguised within other words/phrases. Ain’t no way to embed, say, Uranus. Man, you ran us ragged! Nope. Jupiter? Fugetaboutit. Secondly – I bet it was an Ursa Major to get the planets lined up neatly in the middle like this *and* have NO OVEN USE and MARSUPIUM crossing the down themers. Third – the spectacular, desperate MARSUPIUM is the grid standout today. What a terrific word to learn.

I dunno – maybe something like GRAMMAR SCHOOL would’ve been safer, but given the grid constraints… And Ross had to have that entry last since the planets are in order.

@jp flanigan, @TomAz, @thfenn – I had a dnf ‘cause I went with “Maui/Nicolai” – oops. MAUS is not on my radar screen. Graphic novels aren’t on my radar screen; I glance at one and immediately decide I won’t be able to understand it. I feel intimidated, stupid, not hip.

Speaking of uncool, I’d be far more likely to play the game and actually say “I’ll have the ROOTY TOOTY Fresh ‘N Fruity pancakes” than “I’ll have a venti nonfat two pump soy latte. Upside down.” Those fancy coffees with their fancy sizes and fancy foams are my liquid version of graphic novels. I’m an uncool outsider, and everyone in there knows it. The last time I was in a Starbucks, I ordered something and told the BARISTA to add three espresso shots, feeling proud that I even knew you could add shots. (I was en route to NC and was tired.) She said, You realize that means you’ll have a total of five shots, right? It felt like all eyes were on me as I did the back-pedal of shame. Oh. Ok – no extra shots. Thanks. Busted.

Loved that CONTACT is a periphery themer. From time to time I imagine that I’m one of the people chosen to Go Meet the Guys in that Spaceship. What will I wear? Say? Will my teeth be threatening if I smile?

Ross – I think this is pretty cool and that it must’ve been really hard to pull off. And now I’m obsessed with the word MARSUPIUM. Can’t wait to toss that one out at some point with my vet school daughter. It’s my plan to use it casually, like it’s been part of my lexicon all along.

I close with another celestial puzzle – a tour de force Sunday by Patrick Berry. It’s a YouTube clip but well worth the watch if you’ve never seen it.

CDilly52 4:04 AM  

I can just hear the mother kangaroo, “Kiddo, one more try at jumping over the hyenas and I’m sending you straight to the MARSUPIUM for a long time out!”

Hand up for what @tomaz says about NO OVEN USE. As a fellow cook/chef wannabe who never passes up a new kitchen supply store, it. Is. Not. A. Thing. And not familiar with the graphic novel genre, I did have to untangle Maui/Nicolai. Other than that, this just sped along and I’m done.

Anonymous 5:29 AM  

All of you who’ve never heard of Maus should run to your nearest library and check it out. It’s moving and brilliant, and you don’t have to be a fan of graphic novels to appreciate it.

BarbieBarbie 5:30 AM  

LOVED Sara Ramírez in Spamalot, never heard of Maus. The Wheelhouse Gods are laughing.
Easy in general, but trouble in the same corner as everyone, also because Nicolai, but beyond that I had a MUTE doing the silent acting, so not knowing MAUS really handicapped me. I call technical DNF on myself since I wouldn’t have known to fix that area if the app hadn’t made fun of me.
A lot of this puzzle played like an easy themeless. I enjoyed that. I always enjoy Ross T’s puzzles.
No, the SUN isn’t a planet, but that’s irrelevant. It’s part of the ALIGNMENT, not one of the PLANETs. Yes, several planets can align. Several years ago there was a big alignment of a whole lot of planets and I was lucky enough to be traveling in clear-skied Utah, so I parked in a dark place, let my eyes adjust, and... nothing. Looked again. It took me forever to find them and realize that I was looking from a different latitude than my normal Delaware, so of course they were all aligned in a different part of the sky from where I was looking. Really gave me an off-balance feeling to see for sure I was standing on the surface of a ball. It’s such a cool universe.

Anonymous 5:32 AM  

Larry Gilstrap: The sun is there because the planets align along a radius that terminates at the sun.

I liked it, mostly. The theme is a bit wobbly, but I like the concept and it's nice that the geometry of an alignment is approximately represented, with the planets in the right order. Skipping Mercury and Jupiter makes sense since it'd be really hard to embed those. But you don't need every planet to line up to have an alignment.

John H 6:18 AM  

Surprised that Rex didn't balk at "nyets". The only burp in an otherwise enjoyable solve. Not taking Rex's word for it I googled it and nothing comes up with this particular set of planets or any other alignment within a reasonable span of time from today. And yes, the sun is not a planet, but any alignment at will will necessarily center on it.

DeeJay 6:23 AM  

Where were you people in the 80's?

Spiegelman's Maus was frequently lauded as a mind-blowing memoir that redefined what a comic book could be. It won the Pulitzer...

Hungry Mother 6:51 AM  

DNF on MAUS. No joy in Mudville. Hungry Mother has struck out.

BarbieBarbie 6:58 AM  

@DeeJay, that explains it. Grad school, then new job plus new infant. Missed the Maus Era entirely.

Karl Grouch 7:28 AM  

Fugetaboutit not!
Times for hiding a pearl shop?

OffTheGrid 7:35 AM  

Tutti frutti, oh Rudy, ROOTY TOOTY
A whop bop-a-lu a whop bam boo

Lewis 7:37 AM  

Zippy pleasurable solve, good for a M/TU solver looking to edge into Wednesday. I always love a puzzle's inclusion of a dook (NOOVENUSE), and who can not enjoy a puzzle that has in its cast NICOLAS VON ROOTY TOOTY MARSUPIUM?

amyyanni 7:45 AM  

Agree w/ all who are recommending MAUS. While I too am not a graphic novel fan, MAUS and FUN HOME are truly worth reading. Really liked this "Rossword" as it had a flow to it, w/ HEARTHS there in the center for all enduring winter storms.

SJ Austin 7:49 AM  

Add me to the NICOLAi/MAUi list, bummer.

PS: It's not a DNF (did not finish); it's a FWE (finished with an error).

Anonymous 8:00 AM  

Maduro may be evil but he’s topical so good fill. Rex’s penchant for wishing away all unpleasant things from the puzzle is kinda weird.

QuasiMojo 8:05 AM  

MAUS is so much more than a graphic novel or memoir or comic. It is very much its own singular creation. A true work of art. This puzzle didn’t grab me. I felt like I was in astronomy class back in high school being taught about the movement of the stars. But we were stuck in the classroom not in a planetarium. No music of the spheres. The only time I recall seeing “No Oven Use” was on some cheap bowl I bought at the 69 Cent store. Yes we used to have those. I disagree with Rex today about “ordinary Joe.” Starbucks made its name by not selling rotgut coffee. You may not like it but it is hardly the stuff we used to get at Greek diners all over town where it sat from morning to night in giant URNS or worse the taupe-colored (and flavored) watery liquid one’s grandma served after dinner on holidays.

@Nancy, strictly entre-nous, I am speechless. I spent a good deal of time enjoying that website you linked. G&S move over! Clever and enchanting. That “Robert” kid is blessed with a splendid voice. And you’ve got a killer smile. Bravi tutti.

orangeblossomspecial 8:05 AM  

Here is a link to PLANETARY ALIGNMENT in which they align in the sky at night:

Jude 8:28 AM  

If to be Naticked is to be undone by two obscure names then you can’t be Naticked by Nicolas Maduro. The guy’s been front page news every day for the last month.

Spatenau 8:45 AM  

I've never seen "no oven use," but have seen "not for oven use" plenty of times.

Nancy 8:57 AM  

Another hand up for MAUi/NICOLAi. Oh, the ignominy of DNFing on a Wednesday puzzle that really should have been a Tuesday. There were all those annoying tiny little circles, too, and not in a good or interesting cause. But I did learn the word MARSUPIUM, so there's that. Don't know why bugs are found in BETA. Have no interest in stabilizing my outer thighs with the peculiar-sounding IT BANDS, whatever they are. Other than that, I found this an incredibly dull puzzle, by Jupiter!

GILL I. 8:58 AM  

Well I enjoyed yesterday's a bit more. Haven't we had planets used in phrases in the past? Other than trying to remember how to spell GESUNDHEIT ( I always say Salud?) and learning all about ROOT TOOTY pancakes, nothing really tickled the fancy.
I did notice Ross has a flair for our EARTH's diversity in his puzzle. Why here we have S. America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and a little CARTE Blanche from France.
Speaking of Venezuela...NICOLAS has been all over the news. I think NICOL(I) is more of a Russian name. NICOLAS is a common Spanish name. Maduro won't be around much longer. Venezuela has such a history of brutal military dictatorship and the people of Venezuela can use social media to further its cause for a democracy. The whole world can now watch. It's such a beautiful country and the people are wonderful. Not to mention their delicious food. I'm crossing fingers for their freedom from military thievery; it can happen.
And speaking of food, I'll voice all the foodies on the blog and say that I've never heard a NO OVEN USE phrase before. Maybe "Not safe for oven use" but that's another story.
MARSUPIUM looks a bit made up just so that MARS can fit. HEARTH is ho hum as is TAKES A TURN. I did like the German sneeze, though.
TITTLES? ok, if you say so. I didn't.

James F 9:00 AM  

In my experience at Starbucks the cashier gets you your “ordinary “ coffee/joe while the barista is left to create the fancier drinks.
Liked the puzzle but had a ho-hum reaction to the theme.

Sir Hillary 9:06 AM  

Nope, this one wasn't for me. If you're trying for PLANETARY ALIGNMENT, include them all and really align them. And I have no effin use for NOOVENUSE, which is made up.

ROOTYTOOTY apparently isn't made up, but it may as well be. And raise your hand if you've use the word TITTLES this millennium. Seeing none, I'll move on.

I had never heard of ITBANDS or MAUS, but they seem to be pretty well-known so I can't get INANUPROAR over them.

One positive: MARSUPIUM is fantastic. I know kangaroos and koalas are marsupials, but I had no idea of the term's derivation. Best part of the puzzle by a mile.

Ilana Hardesty 9:13 AM  

Re NO OVEN USE: Agree with folks above. Generally cookware that can't go in an oven gets a much wordier caution "Not for use in oven".

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

No need for your snotty faux graciousness where you grudgingly find the theme defensible. You're merely exposing your ignorance. Look up syzgy. You'll note that astronomers use alignment pretty much the way this puzzle does. Learn something for a change instead of your petty and ignorant carping.

Nice puzzle Mr. Trudeau. Thanks.

Dorothy Biggs 9:27 AM  

A jot is not a TITTLE. A jot is a letter, a tittle is akin to a serif. "Not one jot or tittle" is something some religious figure is quoted as saying. He was not being redundant...they are two separate things. To clue "jot" and then expect you to get "tittle" is like cluing "bedknobs" and expecting you to get "broom sticks."

The mini puzzle had several spoilers in it for today's puzzle...which kinda made it even easier than it already was.

Hartley70 9:30 AM  

SARA Ramirez doesn’t get a nod for her role in CBS’s “Madame Secretary” in Rex’s post. She’s cutting edge.

I like that the revealer isn’t stuck at the bottom. I ignore circles when I solve so I get a pleasant surprise when I look at the finished grid. This was a modest zing but I take my thrills where I can find them. I’m a fan of anything astronomical.

I’m not into graphic novels, but MAUS has transcended the genre.

I agree this “shoulda been a contender” for Tuesday and flipped with yesterday’s puzzle.

Rug Crazy 9:31 AM  

Easy - never saw MAUS, although I know it. Got the theme early, which made the rest faster. Not too much to complain about in the "anything goes" days of xwords.

Mark Tebeau 9:34 AM  

@LMS. Have had same experience at starbucks with its ordinary coffee (right on that Rex) and snooty BARISTAs. However, I usually ask for a sixth shot, as in, "only five. I'm sorry. Make that six." Sites wonders for my mood.

So did this puzzle. I too wondered if a PLANETARY ALIGNMENT was imminent. But figured it out very quickly and blew through in near record time of 13 minutes. I'm slow. What can I say.

ITBANDS are indeed a thing and if irritated a very painful one. Note to beginning runners who take downhills too fast when building their base.

And, I had MeMES and not MIMES, until my illiotibial band needed to be stretched for my morning run.

Nancy 9:50 AM  

@Thanks so much, @Quasi!!!!

Z 9:58 AM  

I’m thinking PLANETARY ALIGNMENTs are never actually completely aligned, so I think the slight skew around the edges is actually apt. Not real fond of finding the SUN here, though. Ahem, it is not a PLANET.

I.T. BANDS are something most people learn about when they have knee pain. IT BANDS aren’t muscles so they don’t ache after a hard work out, Then you get mysterious knee pain and find out you haven’t been properly stretching your IT BANDS. Some yoga positions are great for stretching your IT BANDS, but I think lotus position is implicated in causing IT BAND Syndrome, along with high impact exercises. And, yes, IT BANDS and how to stretch them to prevent injury is something Ultimate players discuss.

No problem with NO OVEN USE. I use cast iron, which is perfectly okay on the stove top or in the oven, but I’ve definitely seen pots and pans that are only useable on the stove top. I think the NO OVEN USE can be found on the box and in the excessive paperwork included.

@LMS - I’m the ultimate coffee snob. Dark roast or medium roast served black. Adding anything else to your coffee is proof you don’t actually like coffee. So, just remember that the proper attitude towards all those fancy “coffee” orders is snobbish disdain.*

@LMS and others - Do not be intimidated by MAUS. Do be prepared to smacked upside the head. It is not a hard read, but it is work one can chew on endlessly. It is also unfailingly candid, which is why it forces a reader to reconsider. If I were having a HS class read this I’d just start each day with one word on the board, “Why?”

Which reminds me of a comment I saw yesterday: If you use a pejorative based on who someone is (for example) I have no problem calling you an ass. The difference is that pejoratives based on who people are is bigotry, pejoratives based on what people do is a form of accountability.

*C’mon man, do not take everything so seriously. Order your coffee any way you want. Anyone who actually cares how you like your coffee is an ass.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

You're missing the point. The puzzle is an example of syzygy. The sun is sine qua non. Just because Rex doesn't know what the puzzle was representing doesn't mean the rest of us have to wallow in ignorance.

Pete 10:13 AM  

I bought MAUS within the past two weeks because someone, I don't know whom, has mentioned it frequently as a modern-day masterpiece. I bought it on the same day that I used the word CANOODLing in a semi-non-ironic manner. It was a brutally cold day and some youngsters were cannodling in a park on iron benches. It was to cold for such things, but then I'm old, and all the stars have to be aligned for me to even dream of canoodling. It was on the same day that I realized how much I missed being absolutely sure that people who were walking around, talking to themselves were actually crazy. In Princeton, they still have crazy people walking around ranting to themselves. They are reminders of the good old days, when you could reliably adjudge the people walking around ranting to no one to be crazy, not just someone arguing with their mother on the blue-tooth. Simpler times, better times if you ask me. Which no one did, except that one voice in my head.

RooMonster 10:14 AM  

Hey All !
As one who doesn't watch News of any kind, (because I'm trying to stay positive, and the news is mostly negative) NICHOLAS ended up like many others as NICHOLAi. And had ITBoNDS, so a two letter DNF. Or as @SJ Austin 7:49 said, FWE. I like that.

This was a good puz. There's only so many PLANETS you can get into a 15x15 grid. They were in order as they are in the Milky Way, they weren't just strewn about. Wasn't the PLANETARY ALIGNMENT the gist of the Mayan Calendar 2012 End-of-the-World thing?

@LMS, that was a cool link. Leave it up to Berry to be able to create a puz like that. The music was kinda cool, too.

Got Revealer first, then went back and filled in all the circles with the missing letters. Like it when a puz helps me out like that! Spelled the Blessing as GEShUNDHEIT first, but ran out of room, so went back after getting SUN, and saw I added that H.

ROOTY TOOTY also reminded me of this Classic Cartoon. Good times. And good pancakes, if ya never had 'em.

NO F USE today. I'm IN AN UPROAR. Get ON IT constructors! Har.


Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Re 23A and @Dorothy Biggs, 9:27. The "some religious figure" who spoke of jots and tittles is Jesus of Nazareth, as quoted in the Gospel According to Matthew (5:18). You are correct that a jot is not a tittle. Jesus is here saying that the letter of the law should not be edited or glossed away. Here and elsewhere the bible is pretty clear that those who do edit out sections of the law will suffer eternal damnation. Thus those who truncate whole sections of the law in representations of the Ten Commandments, as is always the case in monuments now being constructed, are damned by their own efforts. Frankly I'd like to see the whole thing. Many say we fail to follow the commandments. If we had the whole thing, we could congratulate ourselves on our successes. Here in the state of Indiana, for instance, the coveting of our neighbors' oxen has pretty much been eliminated. The oxen part is always left out in the monuments, along with other things much more significant than mere jots and tittles. Of course those who insist on these monuments consider themselves much better theologians than God, who wrote out the commandments in his own hand, and these theologians can tell us what part of the law is still relevant.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Suzie Q 10:29 AM  

Wow, crazy clue for ricer yesterday and now No Oven Use. It seems the NYT could use a little culinary education.
Marsupium sounds like a special part of the zoo just for kangaroos and opossums.
It is easy to think of brown bears eating migratory salmon but trout?
Porch chairs seemed like an odd way to clue slats.
This was not one of Mr. Trudeau's finest.

Unknown 10:36 AM  

FWIW, the planets are placed in order of distance from the Sun: Venus closest, Saturn farthest. Liked it.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

OK with NOOVENUSE since clue was kitchenware rather than cookware. I've definitely seen that on some plastic storage, take-out containers.

Hadn't set any time records in ages but now have two personal bests this week - both today and yesterday. OHO!

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

hey Poggius,

You're citing the wrong gospel. Try Mark chapter 7. especially verses 1 through 7.
Christ is pretty clear about the spirit of the law and the letter of the law; He kind of takes the Phariseees to task for just the sort of understanding of God's law that you seem to have.
As for Hoosiers coveting their neighbor's oxen, you realize that oxen doesn't simply mean oxen but rather possessions in general. Indianans, like everybody else, are as covetous as anyone.

Banana Diaquiri 10:47 AM  

NO OVEN USE, as one or two have already mentioned, is on nearly every plastic cookware and non-pyrex glassware. but not always, or even often, on said object, but packaging. I have perfectly nice set of stainless steel colanders, and they came with a paper tag saying, no dishwasher. nothing stamped on them. 99.44% of folks will put SS items in the dishwasher, of course.

Amelia 10:48 AM  
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jberg 10:48 AM  

It's a beautiful theme, but a little on the easy side. If, like me, you start with 1A and then work the crosses, the third clue you read is for 2D, with the PL in place already -- so it's gotta be about PLANETs (well, maybe the PLeiades, but c'mon), and what else could the rarity be but an ALIGNMENT? Syzygy and conjunction don't fit. Then you look at the circles, and can put in SUN and MARS just from the number of letters, and can guess VENUS and EARTH by their distance from the sun. Then you just have to wait for a cross to see if it's SATURN or Uranus. With all those crosses in hand, you've got a hell of a head start.

I guess you could clue Freddie MERCURY, but hajJ UP ITERation would be harder.

Everybody who has read MAUS is raving about it, but no one is saying what it is -- the author's retelling of his father's experience in the Nazi death camps (which he survived), with all the characters portrayed as animals, interspersed with portrayals of his interviews with his father -- who doesn't want to talk about this stuff at all. Not light reading, but very powerful.

I know who Maduro is, but couldn't remember his first name - but, like @Gill, I figured it would most likely have a Spanish ending, like Alberto Fujimori.

The same principle helped me decide between ETAS and ETDs -- SARd isn't a common Spanish name.

They missed a chance for a politically topical clue with those steel SLATS at 66A.

@Loren, I don't know how you do it -- I actually googled that guy in your avatar. Couldn't find him, though.

@Z you brought back a fond memory. When I was maybe 12 I went to a regional conference of my church youth group, where I had a cup of coffee. I boasted about it to my mother, who asked me if I'd put milk or cream in it. When I said I had she told me that I didn't really like coffee then; drunk it black ever since.

mmorgan 10:51 AM  

Unlike Rex, I tend to like most of the puzzles I do -- or, at the least, I enjoy doing them. Maybe I'm just in a bad mood from some other distractions (flooded basement, ripped up walls and floors by Roto-Rooter and a very expensive 8-foot deep trench in my yard to replace some sewer line), but this kept pushing my buttons in not a good way. So many words are almost a stereotyped caricature of a crossword puzzle -- ALAI, NARC, SAN, ASTI, MENLO, ERR, NEE, URNS... I guess there was a good bit of less ordinary stuff as well, but I didn't love this. Oh, now I remember that I almost always dislike puzzles with circles. There, I feel better now.

Carola 10:53 AM  

Add me to the MARSUPIUM fan club. @CDilly52 4:04, I loved your example.
Also loved seeing TITTLES, which I knew from the phrase "not a jot or tittle," akin to "not one iota." Some web digging yielded not only the religious connection but also the grammatical meanings; see here.

@Loren, I'd missed CONTACT. NIce that it crosses one of MARS's CANALs.

Pete 10:55 AM  

Oh, forgot - NO OVEN USE is not a thing. "Not Dishwasher Safe" and "Not Microwave Safe" are, "No Oven Use" isn't. I only am joining in on the piling on here as "Not Microwave Safe" always reminds me of the best 5 pages in all of 20th century literature, the part in Infinite Jest where Hal is on the phone with his brother, finally telling him how his father died lo those many years ago. 5 pages of perfectly nuanced, cadenced, interweaving of 3 separate narratives culminating in the best punchline ever.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

@LMS - I am not going to read one more comment before I post this:
go to the liberry
get a copy of Maus
read it

get back to me

PS - you're the reason I come here - please please please follow those steps outlined above

QuasiMojo 11:14 AM  

@Nancy, you had me at “Grips/Lips.” :)

mmorgan 11:19 AM  

Oh, and I meant to say I found this way too easy for a Wednesday.

Also, I find it interesting that so many have not heard of MAUS (and I say that in a non-judgmental way).

GILL I. 11:34 AM  

Here's my coffee/BARISTA/Starbucks take: Feel free to skip over but It's raining gatos y perros outside so I have nothing better to do:
@Z, I only drank black coffee until I went to Spain. See, in Cuba you drink a "cafecito" that is made with mud. VERY strong - maybe 5 shots of espresso rammed into a little demi tasse with 2 cucharadas de azucar. It's delicious and will keep you awake for 90 days.
In Spain I was introduced to "Cafe con leche" which, to this day, no one can quite imitate. It's the milk and the hot froth that makes it delicious.
I come back to the States and switch back to black. I'm introduced to Peet's and its wonderful Italian roast. I miss my "cafe con leche" so I go to Starbucks.
@James F 9:00 is right. You order your plain olde Joe from the cashier and the you wait and wait and wait for the fancy BARISTA to whip up a latte. Damn, Not worth the $6.00 in even a New York second. Bah.
Speaking of New York. Our very own @Nancy is a WONDERFUL lyricist and to prove me right, go to Google and type in "Dowager Heights." Open the video that says "Demo Recording Session NY Video David Delaney. @Nancy wrote the lyrics!!! Fun, fun fun. A true talent.....

Aphid Larue 11:35 AM  

I like that the planets are in order but feel surprised that mercury wasn’t there.

Juniors FC 11:40 AM  

Anyone else getting supremely tired of OGRE as throwaway filler? It seems like every third puzzle I do uses it these days. It guess it's the latest ARLO Guthrie, which about 15 years ago was getting flogged to death too.

Contructors, find some other filler!!!

oldactor 12:24 PM  

How about THIS. Just yesterday I bought a plastic tray containing meat loaf and mashed potatoes at Sam's.
On the clear lid was embossed in large letters: NON OVENABLE AND NON MICROWAVEABLE. How' that for an outlier. And the meatloaf sucked!

Nancy 12:30 PM  

That's so sweet, GILL!!!!! I really appreciate it and, as you know, love you very much! But now that I've been "outed", let me provide a link that will give you (and everyone else who's interested) the entire package. Googling DOWAGER HEIGHTS alone, as I've been told by @Quasi and @Hartley, only gives you the video. Here's a link to all of the songs in their entirety.

Masked and Anonymous 12:54 PM  

Luved it, even tho VENUS didn't quiiite get the ALIGNMENT memo yet. Anything with planetary and comic-book stuff in it is A-O-K-primo by m&e.

Somehow avoided nanosecond armageddon in the NICOLAS VON NOOVENUSE homelands (har & yo, @muse). Didn't know (but want to know, now) MAUS, but managed to dredge up the crossin NICOLAS from somewheres. ITBANDS was the toughest new learnin experience in the rodeo, at our corral. NOOVENUSE can sorta be reasoned out of thin air, as can MARSUPIUM [especially when the MARS part is a theme-induced gimme, by then] -- but if U ain't never heard of ITBANDS, it can at least slow U down a MAUS-trap's worth.

The Kinks, The Seeds, and Love … now, them's M&A's "IT" BANDS.
Also, The Fugs were hard to beat, for some real change of pace raised-by-wolves soundz.
Ooooh … and can't leave out MC-5, or Baby Huey & The Babysitters … But, I digress.

staff weeject pick: SUN. It's a themerette, plus it crosses ISOUT.

This puz was darn-near all theme material. 63 squares-worth, sports fans! [yo, @RP: Yesterday's had just 55, by comparison.] What an epic constructioneerin project, just to pull this space-puppy off. Trudeau, dude. U suffered.
Woulda been kinda cool if PLUTO had been in there, kinda discardedly off to the grid sidelines somewheres, tho ...

fave fillins: TITTLES. CONTACT [great clue, considerin the puztheme]. ROOTYTOOTY.

Thanx for makin CONTACT with all us spacey puznuts, Mr. Trudeau. I wanted ONME, before ONIT -- did the Shortzmeister mean to set up that lil maus-trap? Hey, don't make M&A come down there ...

Masked & Anonym8Us

Teedmn 1:02 PM  

With PLA in place at 2D, I splatzed in PLANETARY and filled in all of the PLANETs and when I got to 36D, ALIGNMENT went right in also, so that explains my Tuesday time. Certainly it wasn't that the fill was in my wheelhouse - I have not one TITTLE of knowledge about MARSUPIUM or TITTLES. In fact, I checked the crosses on both of those several times before concluding they had to be right and had to Google tittle post-solve.

I remember seeing an alignment of five planets last summer (I had to confirm with Google, but I remember I couldn't wait for the 5th one to appear due to being eaten alive by mosquitos). Apparently there was another one last October but I missed that one, sadly - there wouldn't have been any mosquitos.

I have a night-sky viewing app on my iPad and I love trying it out when I'm somewhere new, away from the city lights, but it sure doesn't work as well as I would like. It is supposed to orient itself to whatever view I'm looking at but it seems like it does what it pleases. And I think I paid for the premium version, rats. I did some on-line research looking for an answer to the problem and some SITE said that if I was using a non-Apple cover, it might not work properly. This seems bogus. Anyone else have a suggestion?

Nice job, Ross Trudeau, thanks for the ROOTY-TOOTY Wednesday.

Masked and Anonymous 1:04 PM  

Is it just m&e, or would this theme idea also (in another life) have made a cute rebus puz, where each aligned space orb was spelled out within a single circled square? Might even fit into a runtpuz, then ...

"Stick That In Yer Marsupium"

Geneva IL 1:05 PM  

Maduro is a brutal socialist dictator who uses hunger as a weapon. I suppose after that he could be homophobic too but that wouldn’t be the first adjective I’d use.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

Does 18-A remind anyone else of the Ole Miss chant?

Hotty Toddy, Gosh almighty
Who the hell are we, Hey!
Flim Flam, Bim Bam
Ole Miss, by damn!

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

According to this page, good planetary alignments are quite rare. A pretty good one is coming up in 2040!

BarbieBarbie 1:27 PM  

@Aphid, Mercury was in fact there, but it is not visible to the naked eye.

James K. Lowden 2:20 PM  

Right. No oven use is me at home alone for lunch. Cookware that can’t stand the heat says it’s Not Oven Safe or Not Ovenproof.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Very, very easy puzzle. Thanks very much, Mr. Trudeau, for a nice respite from the typical mid-week grind.

Rainbow 2:31 PM  


noun: tittle

a tiny amount or part of something.

noun: jot

a very small amount

You could have checked this yourself.

RUNNER 2:34 PM  

You could probably have your IT BANDS surgically removed.

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

Marsupium is from classical Latin, taken from the Greek, and meaning *purse* or *bag* as in money-purse (sometimes spelled with two p's). The term *marsup(p)ium* shows up all over the place in the middle ages, usually not in the context of the money-purse but the political purse. In many places some officers were chosen by lot, drawn from the marsupium. Thus if you were in the marsupium, you would have sufficient status to be eligible. If your name was drawn, you could hold office, if you were up-to-date in having paid taxes! (There were some other prohibitions as well.) I do not know if in some towns purse-makers or purse-vendors had their own guild--I suspect the purse-makers would usually be in a leather-worker or cloth-worker guild.

Anon. i.e. Poggius
(Memo to anon. 10:44: I chose the passage from Matthew, not Mark, because that is where the term "jot and tittle" appears, in the King James' version.)

albatross shell 3:20 PM  

MAUS, ROOTYTOOTY, ITBANDS, PLANETARY ALIGNMENT (Correctly clued and represented - planets may be in a line but not in line with the sun. That would not be considdred planetary alignment as normally used. I believe there was an alignment of 5 or more planets a decade or so ago.) MARUPIUM,AARONBURR, GESUNDHEIT, TITTLES. All good stuff. Fill a little easy and traditional - better than obscure and twitterese?
Also let me second Fun Home. Brother John Bechdel's home and studio is a few miles away from me. Beech Creek is a little farther down the road. Know many Beech Creekians (One who stole my car). Beech Creek is one of the few local Creeks that is seldom "pronouced "crick".

Also glad to see the fugs mentioned. Jealous of you NYC folk that can get out and see ex-fug Peter Stampfel.

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

I know. Had you left the comment simply at that it would've been fine. But you proceeded to misinterpret Christ's words on what laws to keep and how to judge laws. And the money exegesis of that theology is in Mark.

Further I prefer the NIV translation of Matthew 5:18: For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Anonymous 3:55 PM  

Clue for 54A is misleading as a caddy might suggest a particular club but never a group of clubs.

Old Monarch Jimmy 4:03 PM  

@Anon 3:21 -- I've always thought that the King James Version was the most literary, the most poetic edition of the Bible, but comparing the jots and tittles passage of the KJ version with the very poetic NIV passage you cite -- well, there's no comparison. Time to rethink this, methinks. Thank you.

tea73 5:00 PM  

I don't think I heard of MAUS until 1992 when it one the Pulitzer Prize. I hadn't realized it had been serialized before that. I put off reading it for years, because it was going to be depressing, but it was worth the wait. I agree NO OVEN USE is not a thing. Oven safe, Microwave safe, do not use in microwave - those are things. I got rid of the non-microwave safe mugs. Who's stupid idea was that?

Rooty-tooty and tittles slowed me down a bit, but not too much.

kitshef 5:02 PM  

I really liked the theme, and PLANETERY ALIGNMENT gave me joy, as did MARSUPIUM and GESUNDHEIT (remember when Jerry Seinfeld tried to get “You are so good looking” to be the designated post-sneeze phrase?). Oh, and IT BANDS. Good them good fill good Wednesday.

Anonymous 5:06 PM  

OH NO! A misleading Xword clue.

kitshef 5:21 PM  

I have ordered coffee in a Starbucks once in my life. I was on my way to the hospice and my then step-mother asked me to stop and get her a coffee. I walked in an there were all these people, all of whom seemed to know exactly what they were doing, and a bunch of signs that meant nothing to me. When I got up I asked for a large coffee. I am eternally grateful that rather than try to get any more information out of me the cashier got a cup and filled it with something and let me go on my way.

kitshef 5:29 PM  

Back in 1974 some quacks predicted massive earthquakes and other catastrophes based on an upcoming planetary alignment in 1982. Didn't pan out.

Doc John 5:41 PM  

I will also add that a planetary alignment does not have to be a perfectly straight line. I think that if they're all in a 5-degree arc, that counts. (But someone might correct me on the number of degrees).

I'm surprised that Rex did not mention ROOTY TOOTY, seeing as how he is such an IHOP fanboy.

Dorothy Biggs 6:06 PM  


A jot is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. A tittle is a small stroke in Hebrew calligraphy.

I did look it up.

albatross shell 6:21 PM  

IRONS cluing is perhaps not misleading. Two plurals in the clue- caddies' and suggestions. Answer was going to be plural.
Woods, clubs, IRONS, beers.

David 7:01 PM  

I distinctly remembered a previous "hidden planets" theme, but was having trouble tracking it down, so thank you to Loren Muse Smith for posting the link to Patrick Berry's fantastic example.

Wordsmith 10:42 PM  

Clever both structurally and conceptually, dipping into the vernacular as well as the scientific.

Joe Dipinto 11:44 PM  

"NO OVEN USE!" Is that anything like "NO WIRE HANGERS!"? I can picture Joan Crawford refusing to let Christina heat up her day-old meat.

Anyway, I've never seen that particular instruction on any piece of crockery. Puzzle didn't knock my socks off, all in all.

Monty Boy 12:20 AM  

My natick came in having MutES for silent ones. That gave me uTBANDS (sounded plausible since I don't know my thigh words) and tAUS (a story about Greek letters). I didn't fall for the NICOLAS error.

The rest of the puzzle was easy for me. Probably one-third of my time was figuring the error above.

If you don't check @LMS avatar daily, you're missing out. I'm convinced she has an avatar making app, or is incredibly patient in searching the Internet. Her MOLASSES yesterday was classic. Reminded me of the joke about the three moles. Coming out of their mole-hole, mamma and papa say "Ah, the fresh morning air" and baby mole trailing behind says "I only smell _______"

Clark 12:50 AM  

As long as we're sharing coffee stories: I always drank my coffee black until I spent a summer living in Germany in a place where I got to know the cows whose milk and cream were on the dining table every day. Coffee with the fresh cream provided by those ladies was so delicious I never went back to black.

spacecraft 10:36 AM  

Poor Mercury! The Rodney Dangerfield of planets, it gets no respect. Oh well, c'est la guerre.

This one was rife with "do I really HAVE to write this in?" answers. ROOTYTOOTY TITTLES?? MARSUPIUM?? But really: NOOVENUSE?? That dog just won't hunt. Closest I can come might be "not for oven use," though more likely "not for use in ovens."

Since SARA Ramirez is the WOD, let's make her the DOD as well.

GESUNDHEIT makes up for a lot of fill nonsense, but despite one of my favorite subjects as a theme, I have to give this a bogey.

Burma Shave 11:35 AM  


SUE was INANUPROAR in fact,
and TAKESATURN of RAGE to belittle
MENLO enough to make CONTACT
after gazing ATLARGE TITTLES.


Diana, LIW 12:49 PM  

@Spacey said it all...oh my.

I'm off to ACPT tomorrow - probably off the blog for 6 days. See ya!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 2:24 PM  

Not as easy as it was tricky, making it interesting and fun, with an "OHO" exclamation.

Paid too little attention to the circles, which made the PLANETARY ALIGNMENT theme less visible than it should have been. (The SUN of course is the point from which to align the four planets, and well-aligned they are.)

The NE was tricky enough, from GESUNDHEIT, ROOTY TOOTY, and TITTLES, overlapped by NO OVEN USE and the barely visible IS OUT. Didn't help either to try Madre before LEONE.

IT BANDS (?) and MARSUPIUM were outliers.

Yes, more to think about than meets the eye, at least for me, and fun to do.

rondo 3:51 PM  

And ROOTYTOOTY TUTSI to you Mr. TITTLES. Aren’t those fun words?
No write-overs made for a swift solve.

Do they still make MARS candy bars?

Of all the yeah baby SUEs and SARAs who are real DOLLS, I haven’t any idea under the SUN who that one is.

This puz was alright even if it wasn’t one of the top TENS.

leftcoastTAM 8:48 PM  

@rondo -- TUTSI is not one of the "fun" words, even in this particular alliteration.

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