Ph-neutral vitamin brand / THU 2-21-19 / Magical basic used to view one's memories in Harry Potter books / Chicago landmark named for its resemblance to legume / Player of V in V for Vendetta / Classic Camaro informally / Online handle for Xbox player

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Constructor: Sam Trabucco

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (with probably wide variation based on your knowledge of movie trivia) (5:09)

THEME: CHARACTER ACTOR (54A: 15-, 26-, 33- or 39-Across, punnily?) — themers are actors who played characters that were literally "characters" (i.e. letters of the alphabet):

Theme answers:
  • PATRICK STEWART (15A: Player of X in "X-Men")
  • JUDI DENCH (26A: Player of M in "GoldenEye")
  • HUGO WEAVING (33A: Player of V in "V for Vendetta")
  • WILL SMITH (39A: Player of J in "Men in Black")
Word of the Day: THE BEAN (37A: Chicago landmark nicknamed for its resemblance to a legume) —
Cloud Gate is a public sculpture by Indian-born British artist Sir Anish Kapoor, that is the centerpiece of AT&T Plaza at Millennium Park in the Loop community area of ChicagoIllinois. The sculpture and AT&T Plaza are located on top of Park Grill, between the Chase Promenade and McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink. Constructed between 2004 and 2006, the sculpture is nicknamed The Bean because of its shape. Made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together, its highly polished exterior has no visible seams. It measures 33 by 66 by 42 feet (10 by 20 by 13 m), and weighs 110 short tons (100 t; 98 long tons). (wikipedia) 

• • •

I think the theme idea is pretty good. There's one major problem, though, and that's the clue for PATRICK STEWART (15A: Player of X in "X-Men"). He's "Professor X." He is never not "Professor X." Malcolm X is more "X" than Professor X is "X."

And speaking of ANAL ... why? Why!? It's totally unnecessary. Easily replaceable with totally acceptable fill. Tiny alterations to fill down there would totally obviate the need for ANAL, which is a word you should use only when you have to (I used it once, and still regret it). I'm gonna say that ANAL is the result of Scrabble-f***ing (i.e. he wanted the "J" for some reason ... probably the "X" too, which adds absolutely nothing and probably helps make that whole little area much worse than it could be otherwise). But back to X: no. Your puzzle is kinda D.O.A. after that. Again, fine idea, but he's not X. Also, this is a little trivia-heavy, not just in the theme, but in the preponderance of proper nouns like HOWE, ESTER-C (!?), THE BEAN, ERNEST whoever, etc. I liked PENSIEVE because I like the HP books, but that's yet another bit of trivia. Your theme is already *entirely* trivia-based, maybe tone down that stuff in the rest of the grid. Also eliminate ODIC. And while you're at it, the odious TECHBRO and ... whatever DUDETTE is. Yuck and yuck.

Five things:
  • 5A: "A Farewell to Arms" subj. (WWI)— really, really flailed here because of the crosses. The (good) clue on WICKS was hard (5D: Ones going down in flames?) and the (less good) clue on WAKE was also hard (6D: Shake, maybe).
  • 35D: Online handle for an Xbox player (GAMERTAG) — if you say so. Gaming terminology is never gonna be my thing, just as gratuitous "Game of Thrones" clues are never (ever) gonna be my things. So many JONs in the world ... yet another reason to turn ANAL to ARAL and JON to, say, FOR.
  • 59A: Try to get a good look (PEER) — I had LEER
  • 57A: Answer to the old riddle ... (A TREE — honestly, the clue completely lost me at "old riddle"; I just checked out and waited for crosses to tell me what the answer was (it wasn't, uh, great)
  • 61A: A really long time (AGES) — got fooled by this one (singular clue, plural answer). Had the "A" and wrote in AEON. Sidenote: ERAS are not necessarily [Really long times]. "Really long" in relation to what? The Obama Era was eight years, right? That's not a "really long time."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Brian 12:07 AM  

Explain ONESEED please

Nolan 12:14 AM  

59 & 51 threw me for a loop because I had Brek and Peek.

Unknown 12:18 AM  

So ANAL is not acceptable but TWERK is? Give me a break.

jae 12:30 AM  

Medium. Cute but I had a dnf. I did not know HUGO WEAVING or PENSIEVE and had an R where the V was supposed to be. Maybe the fact that he played V in the movie should have helped, but no.

Liked it.

a.corn 1:09 AM  

Personal best (10:54) for a Thursday! ......but I thought it was too easy? I honestly don’t how things just started falling into place - I have NO idea what NORMARAE is. ALAMADEA is a cityname I have heard, now I know it’s in the bay- cool? I guess? Idk, felt like I cheated somehow. I was kind of expecting the always-fun text box telling me I’m “so close!” Also...was 26D offensive? Maybe I got triggered because hey it’s 2019 and the global collective consciousness is full of existential dread- but I read it with a snide voice like ohhhhh Typical Jews!” I mean, as a Jew, I think it could have been clued - Seder Atendess. The “Typical” rubbed me the wrong way ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

WeesaSuzi 1:20 AM  

Easy Thursday for me, for a change. Faster solve than usual.

Kevin 1:27 AM  

The first seed in a tournament is the favorite to win.

Harryp 1:51 AM  

I am surprised I was able to finish this with all the PPP trivia involved. It played Challenging for me.

Hilary0 2:07 AM  


Unknown 2:11 AM  

Top competitor -- number one seed at a tournament.

albatross shell 2:17 AM  

Easy Thursday, which for me means a little over an hour while I watch news and basketball.
Liked the pun theme revealer. Got lucky: knew all the actors except for Hugo's last name.
The side-by-side Remus clues were good.
I do not know why ALEUTIAN is unalaskan. I could make some guesses. Instead I'll plug my favorite Alaskan ALEUTIAN author John Strahley- writer of poems and mysteries. And he might actually be from Portland or somewhere in the NW. Give him a try.

Re Rex comments: Techbro seems ok to me. Catchy and slightly pejorative. DUDETTE is top rated. Bounces off the tongue with a positive tomboy vibe. He's absolutely right about Professor X, but for me it was just a slight demerit. But I enjoy his professional attitude.

I had WAR before WWI. Ah, subj. Is an abbreviation.
I liked the old riddle. Took 3 crosses to get it.
I think ERAs should and usually are long. It's recent stuff that have short ERAs. Our grandiose self centered view of our own times make us attach the word to our short periods of time. The Warhol 15 minute era. Pure pomposity. I'd tell you about why anal should not upset you and WWI should and both are good in crosswords, but we had enough TP talk yesterday. But in 1965 in London at the Tate or National Museum I used the loo and had to put in my last coins to buy 3 little squares of thin TP. Was that a nightmare or did that really happen?
Let me know.

Anonymous 2:48 AM  

All Harry Potter clues should be banned.

Larry Gilstrap 2:52 AM  

Not easy for this solver. Yep, a puzzle heavy with trivia that just happens to be way out of my wheelhouse results in frustration. A little more wordplay would have helped. Also, I was keeping watch for some Thursday trickery; still looking.

Who doesn't love JUDI DENCH, but crossing PENSIEVE, or since a SIEVE is a holey basin, whatever. Don't know Harry Potter, obviously. Get off my lawn!

Cluing ITALIANO in English makes me go Hmmm! No clue in the clue to the language shift.

If you ever go to ACPT, you're guaranteed to see a GridBRO or a
GridETTE. Portmanteaus?, probably technically not.

I bashed this thing around like a kitten with a moth. Tomorrow is another day.

JOHN X 3:24 AM  

This was pretty easy for a Thursday.

I saw those complaints about the first themer. So, he's "Professor X," eh? Well, before he was a professor he was just "X" because that's his name. Although it doesn't matter, because nobody really gives a shit about this point. The clue is fine.

ANAL is a great answer, but should be clued more daringly. Pair it with TWERK and let's see where we can take this here crossword puzzle.

Thank you and God bless.

Loren Muse Smith 3:25 AM  

Great reveal. But I sure missed me some Thursday chicanery. Even some wordplay, though the clue for WICKS is terrific.

I didn’t really know these characters that well, if at all. Plus, I misspelled JUDI’s first name and didn’t know HUGO WEAVING. So I gave up trying to tease out PENSIEVE (hi, @Larry). I was sure it’d end in “_ _ eye.”

NORMARAE is a dook. It looks like a fancy Latin plural of a word meaning “usual practice.” Dante eschewed the normarae of his time and wrote not in Latin but rather in the Florentine vernacular. True dat, by the way…

…my first thought for 58 across was “vernacular.” Too long. But I tell ya, man, anyone who chooses to write in language accessible to the average dude and dudette is ok by me. I’m pretty sure trekbro Chaucer was paying careful attention and followed suit with his Canterbury Tales. The idea of a thumb in the eye of the learned upper class pleases me to no end.

FWIW, on Vanderpump Rules, they regularly refer to women as “dude.” Dude, you can’t trust James. You have to move on. I’ve never heard DUDETTE. To hear it out in the wild would be jarring for me.

As regards the summer clothes riddle…

I think that I shall never see
An entry desperate as A TREE.

A choice whose clever clue is prest
To force that “a” – unwelcomed guest.

JEW/HORAS – Every time I’ve found myself in a circle doing the HORA, I’ve had a blast. What is it about such a simple dance that is just so fun? And while I’m here, I have to add that when I was the event planner at a country club, I found Jewish wedding ceremonies and receptions more enjoyable than Christian ones. The parents were more relaxed, the bride and groom were always chill, the overall feel/focus was one of celebration and joy. Maybe I just lucked in to some lovely people, but the snitty snit over-thinkers and Godzilla mothers-of-the bride were never Jewish.

Once when WILL SMITH was filming in Pittsburgh, word got out that he was nearby, so my daughter ran outside and got to see him from across the street. She reported that he seemed friendly and regular, not all stuck up and snobby. You heard it here first, folks.

@Crimson and @Airymom - very hollow victory for us Heels. Hope Zion’s knee is ok. He’s the biggest GO PRO out there this year, and any injury is scary.

Brookboy 3:51 AM  

I found this one to be a lot more challenging than OFL. I guess I’m not up to snuff on my trivia, movie and otherwise. Felt a little embarrassed to take so long to finally get Sir Patrick Stewart, given that he is a neighbor, both of us living in Park Slope, Brooklyn. When he moved to Brooklyn he tried to set up an account with Time Warner, the local cable service at the time. He quickly became acquainted with life as it is lived in Brooklyn, tweeting this: “All I wanted to do was set up a new account with @TWCable_NYC but 36hrs later I've lost the will to live.”

Didn’t know Hugo Weaving, although the name did ring a faint bell somewhere in my memory. (That seems to happen a lot more to me nowadays than when I was younger😁.)

Rex wrote that ERAs are not necessarily long times. He used the Obama Era as an example era that was not really a long time. Perhaps the Obama era wasn’t really a long time, but I wonder how he feels about the Trump era so far.

@LMS: Regarding your mention of teachers in West Virginia yesterday, my wife and I watched Michael Moore’s movie “Fahrenheit 11/9” a couple of nights ago, and the movie gives a lengthy review of the teacher’s strike as only Michael Moore does. I’m sure you would appreciate it even more than we did. I recommend the film to anyone who appreciates irony.

Chim cham 4:58 AM  

I like ANAL. It has many meanings and it’s a fun addition to puzzles when used sparingly.

Chim cham 4:59 AM  

Here, here!!!

TonySaratoga 5:28 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug 5:51 AM  

@Brian @Hilary0 ONESEED is "one seed," or #1 in a (e.g. NCAA basketball or Grand Slam tennis) sports tournament. The #1 seed is given the top seed because they are expected to win - hence, (a/the) frequent favorite.

Anon 6:13 AM  

Me too

newspaperguy 6:14 AM  

Anal is a word. Grow up.

Lewis 6:27 AM  

The theme/reveal is excellent -- never been done before, and kudos for that, Sam.

One of the great pleasures of solving for me is filling in words I've never heard of, such as THE BEAN, TECHBRO, and GAMERTAG here. But I couldn't do it at the natick of HUGO WEAVING and PENSIEVE.

Oh, I just got the clue to PORES -- hah! Double hah! That is a really good one! Therein lies, in one clue, so much of the fun of crosswords.

BarbieBarbie 6:44 AM  

What is ONESEED? I reject the tournament suggestion. That’s top seed or number-one seed, not ONESEED. So what is it?

Never heard of the vitamins. I get mine from broccoli. Mmmmmm.

Puzzle was bang on my average time, which means hard (in time), since Amy neophyte days are pretty recent.

sf27shirley 6:48 AM  

Unalaska is a town in the Aleutian Islands

TokyoRacer 6:55 AM  

A LITTLE trivia heavy? A quick count gives me 28 proper nouns, there may be more. 3 or 4 is acceptable. 28 means it's no longer a crossWORD puzzle, it's a crossname puzzle or some damn thing. I HATE these trivial pursuit puzzles.

pabloinnh 7:03 AM  

I liked the WICK clue and the misdirection of ARMADA/RAPIDO but otherwise, this was just too straightforward a Thursday for me. Filled in the actors without even thinking about the one-letter connection, but that's on me.

On to Friday.

amyyanni 7:11 AM  

Reminded me of Pete Dexter's novel. I can appreciate the work but I don't love it. And admittedly never saw the movies, didn't read Potter, and am not a gamer. Sayhey, baseball starts tomorrow!

Heather 7:13 AM  

I'm a nerd and had never heard of GAMERTAG. Nor PENSIEVE or DUDETTE. I didn't know any of the actor answers until I had a lot of crosses, esp. the V for Vendetta guy.

I have also never seen the Dept. of Agriculture abbreviated as AGR. Maybe this is crosswordese. Too many properties names for me. ALAMEDA and SUR near each other? I have heard of both, but not the first thing I would think of for "Big ___". Drew a blank on SF bay cities.

Not feeling HATETO as clued either. I finished, but it was hard and I felt more uncertain about my answers than usual,

kitshef 7:14 AM  

Undone by HUGO WEAVaNG. Never heard of the actor and DRaB works for the down, so it was a 50/50, guessed incorrectly.

We use Natick when two unknowns cross. Need a word for when an unknown crosses a clue with more than one possible answer. A dimmit?

Brief flash of rebus excitement when I thought I was going to have to fit cloud gate at 37A. Quashed quickly. Alternative clue (for those of a certain age): Freebie go-with.

Michiganman 7:24 AM  

Sure can't add to @Rex. Spot on review. Thanks for the insights.

albatross shell 7:33 AM  

Sf27shirley 6:48 Thanks. A town was not one of my guesses.

A one-seed is one of the 4 top seeds. Each quarter of the draw has a one-seed, a two-seed etc.

DeeJay 7:33 AM  

An uninteresting Thursday.

With the holiday on Monday, I'm still a little off on this week's days. That said, as I walked downstairs this morning, I had a little extra spring in my step because I belatedly realized it's THURSDAY and that means there is the potential for a mind-bending, untraditional, tricked-up puzzle.

Alas, that was not to be today.

KRMunson 7:36 AM  

I second that.

btgrover 7:36 AM  

6D is a lousy clue, and cost me a finish, as I couldn’t wrap my brain around WWI (kept wanting it to be a proper noun). Sigh.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

Stupidest theme and fill of all time. PPP must be 85℅. Sam is Will's buddy, only reason this puzzle was ever allowed to be in.

Anonymous 7:53 AM  

Odic? Brutal.

QuasiMojo 7:54 AM  

Another Natick for me and a DNF because of it. So I never read Harry Potter and don’tvwant To (please stop sending me links to Amazon) and I’m supposed to know the name of a fictional basin? What kind of basin? The geographical kind or one wear you wash your unmentionables? And who may I ask is Hugo Wea_ing? I’m sorry but that’s really an unfair crossing. Yes, I could have run the alphabet and gotten the Ding Dong you-finished-thingamajig at the end, doing it on the app. I could have googled him or her. But anyone doing this on paper, which I still often do, would not know when it was right. Unless they had an all-knowing wife or grandchild or BFF who reads comic books. I think Will Smith, I mean Shortz, has dropped the ball recently and is asleep at the wheel. And lots of other cliches.

Otherwise a credible puzzle but the themer made me scratch my head. Dame Judi Dench and Sir Patrick Stewart are much more than character actors. That usually, or most often refers to performers who make their living playing secondary or supporting roles. Burgess Meredith was a character actor. Spencer Tracy was not. Agnes Moorehead for instance was a character actress. She only got top billing in two movies, both cheesy horror flicks. Bette Davis was not. Judi Dench has starred in numerous films as has Patrick Stewart. And for all I know Hugo Wea_ing might have too. Who knows, he might even have won an Oscar.

The indignant rants yesterday from people who were clearly having their legs pulled by anonymous posters yesterday was downright hilarious.

Hungry Mother 7:54 AM  

The names just wore me down. DNF on 3 squares. Hate trivia puzzles! Make me figure things out.

Wm. C. 8:21 AM  

Terrible, terrible, terrible ... just TERRIBLE!!!

To start, I'm not a movie-watcher, so no idea on the actors. If there were just one, maybe 'I'd get it from crosses, but this was the theme, with four.

Then ... Pores, One.seed, Odic, The.Bean, Tech.Bro, Jon, Italiano, Rapido, Lochte, Norma.Rae, Wake, Dudette, Pensieve, Horas, Drib, Gamer.Tag, GoPros ...

All to play on the reveal pun???

Did I mention that this was TERRIBLE?

Z 8:34 AM  

PPP comes in at 32 of 70 for 46%, plus it is the theme, so it plays even higher. Yep, just a glorified TV Guide puzzle. Hey, some people enjoy TV Guide puzzles and I know one former frequent commenter defended them with vehemence. They were not me.

@TokyoRacer - besides proper nouns, I also include Pop Culture cluing like X-Box clues and Harry Potter clues.

No problem with ONE SEED, I hear it all the time, but the clue is wrong. Yes. You read that right. W.R.O.N.G. The ONE SEED is not a “frequent favorite,” the ONE SEED is, by definition, the favorite. Yeah, sure, people can and will argue that some other team should have been the favorite, but when you are the ONE SEED you are favored to win. I cannot believe Shortz let that one slip by.

At least part of the reason ANAL should be avoided is that it perpetuates outdated psychological mythology. Yeah, yeah, most of us don’t remember the source of this meaning of the word, but it is from a theory long left behind in the annals of science like heliocentrism and blood-letting. Also, unlike “twerking,” which is merely a vertical expression of a horizontal desire, ANAL actually is commonly used for sexual activity. It is barely not “fuck.” Personally, I’m fine with words for sexual congress, even if congress is stabbing us in the back, in crossword puzzles, but they aren’t very Gray Ladylike.*

*who you calling sophomoric?

RooMonster 8:36 AM  

Hey All !
HUGO WEAVING was also Agent Smith in The Matrix movies. Just so ya know.

Har on AGES. Had aeon, and said,"Again? Wonder how many people will complain about it again?" Then wrote over it with eonS, finally AGES. Messed myself up in the S center, put in orAL, even though I knew and wanted to write in ANAL. Never rechecked, ad I usually do, so my HATE TO was VOTE TO, complete opposite of the clue!

Also, the HP clue, I do like the movies, but not an UberFan to know basin. So failed there, too. PORES wasn't coming to the ole brain, so put in waRES. Just to fill something in. Plus OldSEED, and I was flustered. Oh well.

Revealer was pretty cool. Best part of the puz. Heavy on the PPP. I think the fill needs to lighten up some when the Theme is PPP. @Z, what's the ℅?


Nancy 8:43 AM  

The only proper name I care about in this PPP-laden horror is DEWAR'S -- but I can't avail myself of any right now because it's only 8:30 in the morning. And I would HATE TO allow a mere crossword puzzle to turn me into any more of a SOT than I already am. Bah, humbug to your X,M,V,J actors, your Harry Potter and Game of Thrones arcana, your sophomoric nicknames for cool women, your Xbox players, and your car and vitamin brand names. DNF and DNC.

Bruce R 8:51 AM  

Add me to the list that had trouble with HUGOWEAVING and PENSIEVE. I read the first Potter book. That was plenty.

Also, I don't get the confusion about ONESEED. The number one seed in any tournament is the favorite. For example, Serena Williams is usually the number one seed in whatever tournament she's in because she's the favorite.

Grann 8:56 AM  

Techbro? Who came up with this crap? Someone's millennial? Hugo Weaving? Some Gen Xer geek's idea of a great themer? Surprised that @Rex's twit friend wasn't offended by Judi Dench. Twit IS the right word for those who tweet isn't it?

SJ Austin 8:59 AM  

FWE: I had epIC instead of ODIC. Didn't know the Spanish word or the Bay Area city, and epic seemed pretty obvious once I had the IC ending. Oh well.

SethC 9:02 AM  

His name is Charles Francis Xavier... I'm not a comic book junkie but I don't think he's ever referred to as just X.

Nancy 9:02 AM  

@Quasi -- "CHARACTER ACTOR" doesn't describe the kind of actors any of these people are. It's a play on words, since, for the purposes of this puzzle, they all act the part of characters in the alphabet: X, M, J, and V. (Probably 16 other people will write to say the same thing in the next batch of comments. But just in case they don't...) In fact, the revealer pun was for me the only clever thing about the puzzle -- but it failed to compensate for what was otherwise a perfectly miserable experience.

Mark Tebeau 9:09 AM  

Amused by the ANAL conversation. Strikes me as a bit too precious. I long for the day when our culture replaced is obsession with violence with discussions about sex. But then we might become France and have to talk endlessly about cheese. But I digress.

The popular culture references are, of course, easier for me (though not because I'm young) but because I'm one of those cretins who deigns to keep up with modern popular culture: especially is film and literature, and (gap) TV. I suppose for those traditionalists (who want to make Crosswords Great Again by heading back to the 50s) it's too much to ask for a wide range of references. Harry Potter, for example. Or film characters. Though not CHARACTER ACTORS. Sir Patrick and Dame Judi are hardly obscure.

I'm amused that the crossword version of inclusiveness mostly includes outdated slurs and the random RAP artist, when rap only appears as an imprecise catchall in the minds of white folk. Of course there are endless variations on classical music but only one RAP music. Sigh.

But again I digress.

Pretty straightforward for this show solver.

Oh and one more digression, related to yesterday. If you ever wonder how to tell if someone went to Penn, it will be evident in their obsessive inferiority complex. Nitwit narcissist Wharton grad are especially emblematic of this trend.

GILL I. 9:22 AM  

I think Sam likes to give the "old" folks a good run for the money. NAMES...TRIVIA...a word like DUDETTE (which I love and have use)....You get my drift.
Lots I didn't know. Lots I guessed wrong. For 27D I had DRIp. That gave me the unknown Chicago landmark as THE PEAN. I took the time to look that up. According to Urban, it means someone with a large Richard. I left it in.
JUDI DENCH was my first entry because I love her and I wanted her to stay on as "M." Second entry was WILL SMITH because I love him as well. Then I'm wondering when the Thursday thrill will appear but it didn't. I wanted something to sneak up on me. Nah, just a lot of names; many that I didn't know.
GO PROS made me smile. I first heard of that camera when it was mounted on one of those men that go wing suit gliding through cracks in mountains. Then you have the base jumpers. I was a bit of a dare doer in my youth but dang, flying through a mountain crack? I keep imagining what you'd look like if you banged into the side of a mountain because you misjudged by a couple of inches.
Big SUR was the other smile. Folks, if you ever happen to be traveling along Hwy 1, do yourself a favor and stop at Nepenthe. It's a cliffside restaurant with views that make you want to sing. The food is ok - nothing to brag about, but the drinks are good and so is the ambience.
I guess OFL has to find something he finds offensive. Gee, we've seen ANAL lots of times. I think this is the first time he's offended? I'm glad he didn't say anything bad about DUDETTE because that's a word I'd use a lot. I'm also glad that Chicago's landmark was not THE BEANER.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

No. Sometimes the one seed is prescribed by an association's rules or a season-long accumulation of, say. points. That entity or person may be accorded the number one seed, but no longer be the strongest, and therefore favored, team ( or person) when tournament play begins. Happens all the time when a key player becomes injured (or otherwise unavailable) late in a season or even in tournament play.

oopsydeb 9:33 AM  

My brother lived in Unalaska for a while, ALEUTIAN was a gimme for me. Which gave me a false sense of confidence early in the puzzle. This was nearly a DNF for me. I had to stare at the WEAVING/PENSIEVE cross for a while to get that V. And I had lots of errors to fix.

THE BEAN is fantastic. I absolutely love it. And I've brought several folks to see it for the their first time; all have delighted in it.

TWERK and ANAL are not equivalents. One is a dance; one is sex (not as clued, obviously).

I agree with the comment about the abbreviation of agriculture. It's AG, never AGR.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

In fact, the number one seed in both the AFC this season ( The Chiefs) were not favored in the conference championship game.

Jon88 9:35 AM  

When did pH become Ph?

Sir Hillary 9:37 AM  

Didn't like this at all. HEHE, IMS, DAS, ODIC, AGR, ECO, ATREE, XES, RAPIDO (oh so desperado), BRER, INS, TIX, AHH, DRIB (is it ever not plural?), ESTERC (words fail me) and DAH all in the same puzzle? Yeah, no thanks.

Also, while trivia never bothers me personally, I understand that many people feel differently, and this one is waaaaaaaay over-reliant on it.

One the plus side...great clues for WICKS and TIX -- must be a rhyme thing. That's about all I have nice to say.

Has anyone ever referred to themselves as a DUDETTE, or is it one of those terms that is only bestowed by others (perhaps TECHBROs)?

Amazing how one term sends so many of us down a rathole. Today it's ANAL. @Z -- You have outdone yourself with a post that is both wonderfully eloquent and hilariously absurd. Great stuff.

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

Z is cracked. Highe seeded teams are not always favorites. There's a long list of home (under)dogs in professional sports. It's most apparent and common in the NFL, but it occurs in the other major sports too. All the league's seed for the post season. It's easy enough to confirm the betting lines and see for yourself.

Wow 9:52 AM  

Agree 100℅ with @Anonymous7:42. How this garbage gets in the "Best Puzzle in the World" boggles the mind.

Good ol' Joe 9:53 AM  

The theme is that they are actors who played roles with a “character” name - V, J, X, M

Any Brit in the World 9:55 AM  

@Z - Bugger your ANAL comment.

RooMonster 10:03 AM  

Came back to tell y'all two things.
1) My last ride was Craig Martelle, who is a Science Fiction author. Who lives in Alaska. Look him up online if you're into that genre. I thought it was cool.
2) It's snowing right now in Las Vegas. And the cloud cover/gray skies are so thick, I'm a mile from the Mandalay Bay and I can't see it.
I moved here from the East Coast to get away from this! Har.


pmdm 10:03 AM  

Glorified TV Guide puzzle? A bit too nice.

Terrible? Somewhat understated.

Did I hate this puzzle? You bet.

Hungry Mother 10:05 AM  

I’m reminded of Chet in “Weird Science”, Mr. Hankey in “South Park”, the Tootsie Roll in “Caddy Shack”, and other ANAL characters. I’m going to print my DNF on wax paper and have a good wipe.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

Thanks for clarifying sf27Zshirley. Is that anywhere near A Nal?

Karl Grouch 10:23 AM  

What happened to all the Thursday fun I remember having trying to find the rebus squares or deciphering the witty clues before getting the revealer and exclaiming "aha!"?

Down the drain my fun went.

Instead, I'm supposed to know pensieve and esterc and tolerate "one seed" and italiano...

Suzie Q 10:25 AM  

This puzzle deserves some sort of prize for denying me a single solitary moment of pleasure for the entire solving experience.

William Hill 10:26 AM  

@Z Beg to differ #1 seed is not always the favorite. E.g. Federer is at Roland Garros as one seed playing Nadal on clay, the BETTORs' pick would be Rafa.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

Two serious questions for you regulars here:
What is PPP?
What is "punnish" about the revealer?

ajd 10:35 AM  

Unalaska is a city in the Aleutians.

Amelia 10:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amelia 10:42 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Um hey @Z,
Duke will be the number 1 seed in the ACC tourney. But without me, they won't be the favorite.


Zion Williamson

David 10:56 AM  

Yesterday I said to give me pop culture and/or sports to trip me up. Today I got an entire puzzle load of them. I did like the misdirect for many of "Unalaskan" (it's una-las-ka, with accent on the second syllable). Patrick Stewart and Judi Dench are fine for me without seeing the movies, I think Men in Black is the only Will Smith movie I've ever seen. Hugo Weaving? Not so much.

I think two things when V is referenced: Natalie Portman. And why do these kids who want to be "anarchists" wear a cartoon mask referencing a Catholic Monarchist who fought and killed for the Inquisition in the Spanish Netherlands before returning home to try and blow up Parliament and install a Catholic King?

Heavy sighs and "ughs": techbro, hate to, "agr", dudette. Okayness: IRA in the same quadrant as ERA, "Jew" saved from ughness by being built off Judi. Best: clue for wicks.
Being an editor, I'm quite anal in the discredited diagnosis fashion; I have no problem with the word or the implication.

Speaking of Eras, I think it was sometime in the Elizabethan Era that English speakers started sticking Romance Language diminutives on perfectly good gender neutral words such as "actor" and "waiter" in order to indicate a female was doing the job. This silliness continued and expanded well into my lifetime: I remember Johnny Carson introducing an "authoress" and using the cringe inducing "comedienne". We're finally shedding this, it's been a few decades since I've heard these latter two used, waiters are waiters again in many establishments, and even old movie critics are catching on to actors being actors.
So please. "Dudette"? Just no.

TomAz 11:03 AM  

I have posted, many times in here in the past, how much I dislike puzzles that rely heavily on actors' names. But man this one takes the cake. PATRICK STEWART, JUDI DENCH, WILL SMITH.. those are all ok, I guess, familiar enough that I could get them. But who the $%^& is HUGO WEAVING? I have never even heard that name before in my life. I google him.. yeah I guess that face is vaguely familiar. Vaguely. And crossing PENSIEVE. I like HP stuff but that one was too arcane for me.

Other than that, this puzzle played pretty easy. It wasn't pretty, but the non-name stuff wasn't very hard. I did like the clue on ONE SEED, and I agree it is a thing they say on places like ESPN.

QuasiMojo 11:03 AM  

@Good Ol Joe, yes I got that but the reason things are puns is that they are funny. This pun doesn’t work because the themer means something else that is a stand alone thing, not a play on words. They are not character actors so the pun falls flat. It’s like saying that John Wayne or Gary Cooper or Clark Gable were Soldiers of Fortune because they made money playing soldiers in movies.

CDilly52 11:05 AM  

Well, this was an “outhouse” effort for me. Knew none of the movie characters, but know the actors well, so once I got a few crosses, I could finish the names. Love all the actors identified just never saw the “character” movies. So, way outside my wheelhouse. My daughter and niece (15 years apart in age) both adored all things Potter. Had they not, I might have had a dnf because there were plenty of roadblocks for me; PENSIEVE just wasn’t one of them. Twice my normal Thursday time.

The Bean fascinates me. I am frequently in Chicago and try to visit Millenium Park every time. The reflection in the shiny sculpture changes literally every second making it interactive and vibrant. In that way it is almost the antithesis of the reflection in the somber, chilling Viet Nam memorial. By making reflection part of the sculpture, both Kapoor and Lin bring new meaning to “experiencing” art. And I adore both works.

Banana Diaquiri 11:11 AM  

my (public) high school attracted nearly every Jewish kid in the city and surrounding towns; there was/is some law requiring reciprocity, so you could go to basically any school in the state. so HORA was a gimme. which reminds me of a squibb we would chant at the least provocation:

Hava nagila,
Hava nagila,
Have two nagila,
They are very small

Alicia Stetson 11:12 AM  

ANAL is fine with me.

Unknown 11:13 AM  

Here for any and all references to X the band *thumbs up emoji X2*

Logan 11:17 AM  

What does PPP mean? Thank you!

What? 11:22 AM  

And if you’re not Will’s buddy?

Chip Hilton 11:25 AM  

I’m going to go Rex-like today and say that I just didn’t enjoy this. No offense to HUGOWEAVING, I’m sure he’s a fine actor, but, unlike the other three big names, I’ve never heard of him. PENSIEVE, GOPROS, DUDETTE, ESTERC - all unfamiliar. But, the big problem for me was the theme itself. Okay, a single letter is a character and these folks could be called character actors, but, sorry, so what? Just far short of the expected, and desirable, Thursday aha moment. One thing I liked was RAPIDO. Neat how the question mark sank the ArmaDa.

Oh, well, bring on Friday.

Whatsername 11:34 AM  

I always look forward to Thursday puzzles more than the other days, as I suspect many solvers do. I’m ready for a hidden trick, a clever reveal, some challenging fill and that wonderful feeling of satisfaction when I finally figure it out. Sadly that was not the case today as I found this to be a bit of a slog since I’m not a huge fan of Harry Potter, x-box, Game of Thrones, or any of the movies clued in the theme. The revealer didn’t really help either as it already seemed obvious that identifying the “character” was the key to the answer,

Pretty much agree with Rex all around today. I could have done without ANAL. Yes I’ve heard it and probably even said it in the clued context, but it always seems mildly inappropriate as it did here. I’m not Jewish but I winced at the clue for 26D. As @a.corn said at 1:09, a simple “Seder Attendee” would have sufficed. ONESEED implies the best team so they are going to be a frequent favorite to win in any matchup. I get it but it seems awkward somehow. Finally, I checked several sources for the definition of ERA and the frequently favored result was a distinct period of time marked by a particular event. That is to say, perhaps a long time but not necessarily or typically a REALLY long time.

As always, I appreciate the achievement of any crossword worthy of publication, which this one certainly is. Thank you, Mr. Trabucco, for the effort.

Malsdemare 11:39 AM  

ODIC got me good. I had Odes at first ‘cause I was pretty sure of ALAMEDA, but it had to be ACTUAL and GETS WITH, right? So that gave me EpIC and I just assumed there was a bay city I didn’t know. And yes, the actors were an Aeon, just AGES falling, with NORMANRAE the last, because I figured the V character was HUGh. I don’t know the vitamin brand or the swimmer, but I really grinned when I finally “saw” PENSIEVE. Seriously, Rowlings playing with words and images was pretty much fun, all those Slitherins, Snapes, etc.

Very nice workout this morning. It was definitely an improvement over the discovery of Ryley’s raccoon in the bushes, quite dead. And we have sun today! Hi, Mr. Sol, we’ve missed you.

Unknown 11:40 AM  

Regarding @Z's declaration that the number one seed is "by definition" the favorite, I must disagree. In tennis, for example, seeding is often based on cumulative points over the year. The favorite might even be unseeded if they were unable to play for some portion of the year and therefore dropped in the rankings. Also, the purpose of seeding is not to designate a favorite, but to separate the contestants with the strongest resumes so they don't meet each other in the early rounds. The favorite is determined by the oddsmakers, and often does not agree with the seeding.

TJS 11:44 AM  

I HAVE HATED EVERY PUZZLE THIS WEEK ! Maybe it's me. But I started listing fill that are not words : 18.
product names:5
Proper names (not related to theme):6
And I'm sure I missed some. UGG.
@Z, How does a words' relationship to "outdated psychological mythology" have anything to do with its acceptability in a crossword? Hilariously absurd, indeed.

jberg 11:44 AM  

Big DNF due to my procrastination about reading Harry Potter. Actually, I read the first one AGES ago, but it was too juvenile for me -- but I hear she got better as she went along, so I should go back and try. It would certainly make me a better solver. Anyway, I had a bunch of crosses, and when it finally became clear that it was JUDY DENCH and not JUD somebody, and ONE SEED, I thought -- AHH, that could be a hEN'S EyE! Since you are looking through it to see the future, that seemed appropriate. I think the only HUGO I know is Mr. Gernsback of the eponymous awards.

I get my Hemingway novels mixed up, so I thought this was the one about ambulance drivers in the Spanish Civil War, and tried to rebus in an II instead of I. It didn't hold up, though. As for the vitamin, I thought it might be pH neutral for enteric reasons (like the low-dose aspiring one takes to avoid heart attacks), so I put in EnTER-C. That left me hOREn for 14A. I didn't understand it, but I don't understand PORES either. I mean holes, sure, but what's -y about them? Better clue: As detailed as an Italian river (i..e., PO-RES).

@Loren, I think DUDETTE is always facetious; I've only heard or seen it that way, at least.

@a corn, I'm not Jewish, but have attended seders on occasion -- so I thought the "typical" was appropriate.

Note for the future. There'a a town called Onalaska in Wisconsin.

Masked and Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Actually, Will Smith played **Agent** J. But, I see no prob with puttin "Professor X" and "Agent J" in the clues, if U want. Still works, either way. Theme is fine by m&e.

Hello-loo-yeah … This odic puppy was just drippin with Ow de Speration. Made the (sizable) runtpuz reject litterbox seem worth a second look …

staff weeject pick: AGR. Honrable mention to the TIX/XES combo, down there in ANALville.

fave fillins: WICKS [great clue]. ACTUAL. ATTUNED. These were nice islands of normalsea in a vast ocean of solvequest storminess. This ThursPuz had a pretty basic theme for its day-slot, but it made up for it in feisty filler-'tude.

Did survive the fight, with several erasures and a modest amount of overturned furniture. Partly thanx to an anal-sparked guess on the mysterious HUGOWEAVING/PENSIEVE crossin.

Thanx for the workout, Mr. Trabucco. Luv the jaws of themelessness and the sidebars of HE-HE-dom, in yer puzgrid design. Come on back with another fun puz, when U get yer nerve back.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

Frog Prince Kisser 12:05 PM  

@Nancy @8:43 AM
I couldn’t have said it better!
Thanks for saving me the trouble of typing it all out!

Carola 12:15 PM  

Filled the grid. Pondered what the names have in common. Re-read the reveal. Paused. Aha, that kind of character. Clever idea, and...they fit symmetrically. Neat. I knew all of the actors' names but could only have named "M" as the movie character.

I've always thought that PENSIEVE was a lovely name for this magical device - it conveys both the idea of thoughts and the feeling of melancholy the memories usually evoke.

Re: the Jelly BEAN - in trying to catch up on my daunting magazine backlog, last night I read about Anish Kapoor's kerfuffle-causing pigment hogging: Anish Kapoor Angers Artists by Seizing Exclusive Rights to ‘Blackest Black’ Pigment.

@QuasiMojo, I think Hugo Weaving is an actor worth knowing. You might give The Interview a try (warning: it's dark).

@sf27shirley, I add my thanks for explaining Unalaska.

jb129 12:16 PM  

I really wanted to like this but I couldn't. Felt cheated.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Easy, easy, easy... but fun. Thanks very much Mr. Trabucco for an enjoyable puzzle.

albatross shell 12:26 PM  

Hide-y holes
PORES are holes on skin = hide.

Wm. C. 12:29 PM  

@jberg11:44 --

I too was initially confused about PORES for "Hide-y holes." After thinking about it for a while I realized that " hide" meant skin, and of course pores are kinda holes in the skin. A stretch, but the question mark after the clue gives it the leeway.

albatross shell 12:42 PM  

PORES holes, skin = hide.

Suzie 1:08 PM  

Thank you. I came here just for that explanation. It was the only answer that made no sense to me.

Teedmn 1:09 PM  

Wah, where's my Thursday puzzle? I found this hard. I could have DNFed at the PENSIEVE-HUGO WEAVING (who?) cross but somehow PENSIEVE seemed better than my alternatives. I've read all of Harry Potter but it's been AGES and ERAS since then.

ESTER-C? LOCHTE? DUDETTE was an ick. I love TOADs but not as clued. I laughed when I got DEWARS - my Scotch brand wanted to be magic tape. Too fixated on 3M, I guess. Groan at Hide-y holes = PORES (mostly in a good way.)As Rex points out, WICKS as clued is very nice.

I'm shocked that THE BEAN is a debut answer - I swear I've seen it in a puzzle before. Must be from one of those other 8 puzzle venues I visit each week.

I liked this puzzle well enough but not for Thursday. Thanks, Sam Trabucco.

Sigmund 1:27 PM  

If ANAL is going to be in a puzzle it should be clued "having to do with the opening of the rectum". When clued as a personality trait it is just GROSS!

On y va 1:28 PM  

Whenever there is a Harry Potter clue there is such a predictable stampede of “of course I don’t know Harry Potter, and never will” comments. Enough. Nobody is going to be overly impressed by what you don’t know.

pabloinnh 1:30 PM  

Poor Hugo Weaving. I knew him from the movie version of LOTR, where he played Elrond, Lord of Rivendell. I thought it was an interesting choice because all the elves were supposed to be fairer than fair. The wig was definitely helpful and he does look, well, striking. LOTR may be as cliquish as HP, I'm thinking.

John V 1:35 PM  

Dnf. No movie trivia here

Aketi 1:37 PM  

@Nancy, had to wipe coffee off my cat who who was snuggled next to me when I read your first post.

I have my Gen Z son to thank for getting 3/4 of the CHARACTER ACTORs and a lot of the PPP fairly quickly. I’ve never heard him use DUDETTE. I wish I had his GO PRO skills. Next time he comes home from college I want him to hook it up to our cat so I can see what mischief the cat gets into when we leave.

Aketi 1:39 PM  

@Roo, snow in Vegas?

Ellen S 1:50 PM  

Not just the themes but so much of the fill was trivia I just didn’t know. Ernest Rutherford was the only one that just went right in. Isn’t one of the buildings on what they now call the UChicago Campus named for him? Maybe buildings on every campus with a physics course. Anyway, not a GOT fan, not a rap fan, missed most of the x-men movies, last time I paid attention to the Olympics was that kid who won a gold medal with her ankle broken.

I’m a little more up on pop culture than Apple’s auto-correct. When I type in celebrity names, movie titles, stuff like that, famous physicists, on my iPhone, autocorrect keeps substituting obscure common nouns. But when I had an android phone, Google would replace names of people I actually knew with names of celebrities I had never heard of. An organization I belonged to had an office manager named “Ria”, and every time I’d refer to her in an email, Google would correct it to “Rihanna.” But, and I liked this, I once made a reference to a movie nobody has watched, “Dark Side of the Moon”, and Google automatically capitalized it.

Crimson Devil 2:16 PM  

Yeah, tough loss(es). Congrats to UNCCH. Nike sure took a hit.

Anonymous 3:07 PM  

Yesterday I posted a rather snarky anonymous comment questioning the reading skills of a Penn fan. Shortly after, I regretted it and posted an apology. Oddly, my apology never appeared, and at some point my snarky post disappeared. Not sure I understand what the moderators intention was. Anyway, I still want to apologize to that anonymous person for the unwarranted snide comment. I will refrain from such snarkiness in the future.

Masked and Anonymous 3:25 PM  

Har. Dang, @Nancy 8:43am -- What did ya *really* think of the puz?

yep. I figured this here misplaced scruffy lil ThursPuz wasn't gonna have a real good day.
I'd say I learned a lotta new semi-valuable stuff, but it was mostly names -- and shoot, I had trouble just rememberin Patrick Stewart's name, one I already knew, during the solve.

Also, from msg #1 … I overlooked complimentin PORES on its funny clue.

That ANAL area of the puz kinda took a hard tannin today. @RP had primo suggestions on doin FOR/ARAL, as part of an ANAL re-build. Maybe also turn TIX/XES into TIP/PAX and HORAS/HATETO into LORAX/LATETO? [PAX has PB1 Usage Immunity, but it could also be other stuff, like MAX.]

Maybe the world has just finally gotten to that point in their ANAL history, where they just start cravin a fresh & relatively painless ANAL approach. Here's a proposed ANAL clue idea in progress, if U all promise to keep an open mind on this here whole ANAL exploration topic …

{" ___ for a Gore, and inconvenient for a truth"??} = AN AL.

The M&Anal Exploratory Committee

as sorta promised, an oldie reject litterbox specimen:

Anonymous 3:27 PM  

Nike deserves to take a hit.
Karma for supporting that kneeling guy.

Anonymous 3:32 PM  

You have written an excellent couplet!

Unknown 3:36 PM  

Coach K should sign with a better sneaker company.

RooMonster 3:47 PM  

Yep. It's been unusually cold for February out here. Normally at least 60's for high, often 70's, 40's-50's for lows. Not this year. Highs are barely breaking 40, and lows are in the upper 20's. So with the parcipatation today, it's snow.
Someone even built a mini snowman in front of the Welcome Sign!


albatross shell 4:24 PM  

Love it
A TREE , AN AL in the same puzzle.

Brian 5:04 PM  

Usually expressed as “Number one seed”. Seldom seen without the word ‘number’. Even “Seeded number one”. “One seed” is not a real thing.

Nancy 5:04 PM  

Thanks so much, @Frog Prince Kisser. Thanks so much, @Aketi.

Hartley70 5:20 PM  

Bring it on, Sam! I loved this puzzle’s PPP and poo to all who didn’t! (I got left out of the tp rants yesterday.) First of all, PATRICKSTEWART, be still my heart and “make it so”. “It” can be anything. JUDI DENCH was a breeze as was WILLSMITH. But HUGO? What a challenge. I know his face but was it an R or a V in his last name? I’ll never forget now. “Game of Thrones” and “Harry Potter”, I’m on it like white on rice. @Loren’s Vanderpump Rules, I have it covered! Great clue for LaLa, right? DUDETTE isn’t new although I don’t use it as much as @Gill and if I did it probably wouldn’t be a compliment. ESTERC and GOPROS are hanging around the house.

I always want something brand new and THEBEAN did it today.

For those who appreciate the low as well the highbrow, try the 6 episode “The Bodyguard” on Netflix. It takes thriller to a new level. Gotta love those Brits!

sanfranman59 5:26 PM  

Challenging NYT Thursday (13:03, 37% above my 6-month Thursday median, 84.1%, 2.5 Rex Parkers) ... This puzzle was out of my wheelhouse. Since I know very little Harry Potter, I really didn't think my solution would be correct with PENSIEVE (14D ...???) and I wasn't at all sure of PORES (14A) from the clue ("Hide-y holes?"). It didn't help at all that I had a typo in TOAD (16D) and therefore couldn't see ONE SEED (19A), where I originally had 'top SEED'. HUGO WEAVING (33A)? There were other tough spots as well: THE BEAN (37A ... the that was pretty inferrable), ERNEST Rutherford (28D), TECHBRO (49A) DUDETTE (23D).

I'd prefer to never think about Ryan LOCHTE (41D) ever again. I'll always associate him with the ridiculous stunt he pulled at the Rio Olympics three years ago and his doping. Jussie Smollett now seems to have joined LOCHTE's club of infamy.

(Yea! I found all the photos with fire hydrants in them! I'm not a robot!)

albatross shell 5:30 PM  

@Brian 5:04
Watch the ncaa basketball tourney. You will hear it constantly. A one-seed versus a sixteen-seed. A nine-seed playing an eight-seed. Four of each seed.

Same with tennis.

Anonymous 5:44 PM  

Anon 3:07,
Very gracious of you to apologize, but truly theres no need.
I was a little put out at first, but not for long. Rough and tumble is par for the course hereabouts. And your snark wasnt so rough, but your humility is off the charts. Thank you.

QuasiMojo 5:50 PM  

Thank you @Carola. I will look for it. And @Nancy, I too got a good chuckle from your earlier post. I wonder if these people condemning me for complaining about HP would feel the same way if I did a puzzle filled with arcana from the works of Julian Green.

Anonymous 6:08 PM  


Since you have a blue name, I think you can bypass the "I'm not a robot" box just hit "Publish Your Comment."

Lojman 6:22 PM  

Start watching college basketball in a week or two. The talking heads will go on and on about who gets the one seed in the NCAA tournament.

bauskern 7:45 PM  

Hugo Weaving was recently in "Patrick Melrose." He's brilliantly evil.
I'm not a fan of Harry Potter trivia, but the crosses helped. I thought this was cleverly constructed. Not quibbling over X versus Professor X. And I don't even mind "anal" as an occasional answer. Not sure what the prudish fuss is all about.

Marc Kwiatkowski 7:48 PM  

My first DNF in a long time thanks to ONESEED and ESTERC. The "Number One Seed" isn't typically a favorite. It's the top player or team going into a tournament or finals. It could be the team or player that everyone hates. And it's alway "No. 1 Seed". No one says "1 Seed". Bad clue bad answer. And ESTER-C!? Just gobsmacked. That is the most naticky of naticks. I really wanted tbd or tba for 24A. Probably would've got IRA with a better 11D

Harryp 8:41 PM  

I agree with @Jon88 9:33am about the Ph clue, and that it should have been pH. It is the difference between acidity and alkalinity, which is approximately 7.0. This is very important in many applications. Steam boilers must be kept in the alkaline range, otherwise there could be catastrophic failure of the metals. I am sure that swimming pools are monitored for pH also.

As to the question about PPP, that is a concept first posed by @Z, PPP means Pop Culture Product Names, and other Proper Nouns. The more of these there are, the less the puzzle rates.

Z 10:09 PM  

Thanks @Harryp - I've been busy all day and am just now seeing the questions.

To elaborate (and I will try to remember to repost this tomorrow), PPP is Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns as a percentage of a puzzle. Anything over 33% generally means we will see the "wheelhouse/outhouse" effect, that is some finding the puzzle easy because the PPP is in their wheelhouse and others finding it nearly impossible because the PPP is stuff they don't know, in their "outhouse. Anything lower than 25% is unusual, as is anything over 40%. Today's 46% is an outlier.

@Mark Tebeau - In this vein, most of the long timers will not complain about any particular PPP answer, but when it gets excessive like today's I think the complaints are fair. Personally, Rap and Hip-Hop are marginally more familiar than Opera, so I have to work a little harder whenever either appears. Anyway, welcome and I hope you comment more often.

@Sir Hilary - I can think of no higher compliment than "wonderfully eloquent and hilariously absurd." I was definitely trying for the second half, the first part was accidental.

@Various Anonymous Posters regarding ONE SEED - Yeah, no. You're arguing that there are other, better, methods of coming up with who the "favorite" is. That is certainly a debate that many have all the time. Sports Radio wouldn't exist without such disagreement. Nevertheless, the ONE SEED is always the favorite as determined by whatever method was used. That the "betting favorite" is different just means that the hive mind values a different process. There is some evidence that the hive mind is better and predicting the eventual winner, and some seeding processes are notoriously bad (looking at you NHL). In short, I get your point. BUT that doesn't change the fact that the definition of ONE SEED is "the favorite." Always. Even when the ONE SEED shouldn't be a ONE SEED. Now, if you want to really get into the seeding weeds, scroll down and check out this seeding algorithm.

@M&A - Sure, but Agent J is fairly frequent just called "J" by various characters. M is always M even when he becomes a she. I don't know about V, but Professor X is never called "X" by anyone. Definitely an outlier.

Phil 10:48 PM  

Had EONS. yes had it for a very long time, ages, but I guess eras too? I call, BS on ERAS. That's a span of time within The thing it describes Beatles era vietnam era. Has absolutely nothing to do with identifying it as long .. or short.

Tennis Fan 11:00 PM  

@Z: Do you ever get tired of being wrong ? After pregnancy leave, Serena Williams was ranked 457 in the world and was unseeded going into the French Open. She was still the favorite.

Anonymous 11:11 PM  

But why the frequent favorite? Isn’t the ONESEED *always* the favorite?

Slow Motion 11:41 PM  

“One seed” is absolutely a thing. In a week or so you’ll hear “Duke is the one seed in the East”, and “Does Kentucky as a two seed make sense?” Very, very common usage.

Clark 1:15 AM  

HUGO WEAVING seems like fair game to me. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; Lord of the Rings trilogy; Matrix trilogy. I am grateful for any Harry Potter clues. They balance out my absolute lack of knowledge of anything Game of Thrones. The Harry Potter books are a pretty good read. (I guess I'll have to binge watch Game of Thrones someday.)

Logan 6:04 AM  

@Harryp and @Z

Thanks for the explanation of PPP.

leah712 7:43 AM  

Curse you, Hugo Weaving, whoever you are, because between you, Harry Potter and Judi Dench spelling her first name with an I at the end, this puzzle killed an 82 day streak.

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

Way too trivia-laden. Way too many proper nouns. Way too much marginal cluing. Ugh.

Burma Shave 10:23 AM  


when he GETSWITH Dame JUDIDENCH to breed,
and with a WET TIER says, “I’ve only ONESEED.”?


spacecraft 11:33 AM  

DNBTF. I'm really tired of fill like this: EKE, the time I got to that one, I packed it in. Struggling with the Natick anyway--who the HELL is HUGO--what is it, WEAVING?? And that Potter thing. Had sq.14 wrong anyway, sORES instead of PORES--so I was never going to finish no matter what. I HATETO say it, but this guy just plain doesn't care. And neither, apparently, does Mr. Shortz.

rondo 12:34 PM  

I finished it, but not without an inkfest of epic proportions in the NE due to my hidey holes first as nOokS rather than PORES. Still not sure I get it. IRA was etA. Just HOWE long ARE ERAS anyway? And HEHE? Haha. And over in the west there was GETSWord/GETSWInd/GETSWITH. Fun factor severely diminished.

Poor description of ANAL, shortened from a Freudian term, so it is hogwash to start with. Psychology my @$$. HEHE.

After a hike be sure to check your partner for TIX. Best done in your tent.

Have visited THEBEAN many times, it always draws a big crowd. Veeeery cool.

The ultimate ‘Bond girl’ must be JUDIDENCH. Couldn’t we have made room for Desmond Llewellyn as Q? Damn near 40 years on the job.

At least it wasn’t a rebus.

centralscrewtinizer 1:50 PM  

What Nancy said. Had HUGO WEArING, JUDy, HaRAS, which I should have got, and went from tbA, to etA, and got to ItA and the lack of vitamins caused me to not see IRA. Just a mess.
This despite a propitious start knocking out RAPIDO, ALEUTIAN, RAGS, ALAMEDA, DEWARS, GETS WITH, SUR, etc. in short order.

rainforest 2:52 PM  

I kind of liked this despite not having seen any of the movies mentioned, and not having read any HP books. I *did* read A Farewell To Arms, though.

The crosses worked overtime here, enabling me to get several answers - PENSIEVE? - if you say so.

Ernest Rutherford is a giant in the field of atomic research. His work in discovering the nucleus and the nature of the atom was HUGE.

The NW went down quickly, but the NE was a different breed of cat. Eventually worked out that PORES is a reference to the hides of animals whence the hair/fur emanates. GOPROS, GAMER TAG, and ESTERC just had to be those answers. No problem with ANAL.

Decent theme and excellent revealer. Tonsa trivia, of which I was largely unaware.

leftcoastTAM 3:25 PM  

I'll just throw this one in the hide-y hole and try to forget about it.

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

Too many "wtfs". Rejected.

Diana, LIW 5:17 PM  

I HATETO be too ERNEST about SMOG, but that's where I had my Natick. Partly because I had "have to" vs. HATETO, and partly because of so many unknowns, ERNEST being the final one I just couldn't suss out. Oh well.

so, like @Lefty and others, off to the hide-y hole for me.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

centralscrewtinizer 11:36 AM  

Yes, finally, @Rainforest, someone who understands how important Ernest Rutherford was to atomic theory, plus he inspired many others who went on to their own discoveries.

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

Part of the month behind crowd that gets this in syndication, so not many, if any will see this, but is it just me or does Rex appear to be an bit anal about anal?

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