Forward in Florence / THU 4-18-19 / Anago at japanese restaurant / Hand-held console introduced in 1989 / People whose political views are Communist lite / Indian state whose largest city is Vasco da Gama

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Easy-Mediumish (5:19, first thing in the morning)

THEME: BUTTERFLY (23A: Image formed by connecting this puzzle's circled letters from A to N and then back to A) — also contains earlier stage of BUTTERFLY development (CATERPILLAR) (17D), and the place where the change to BUTTERFLY happens (CHRYSALIS) (51A)

Word of the Day: BONTON (3D: Fashionable society) —

1afashionable manner or style

bthe fashionable or proper thing

2high society (
• • •

If you like doing child's-place-mat connect-the-dots after solving your puzzle, well it's a good day for you. If you're like me, and don't like that your puzzle's fill has been mediocritized to enable a child's-place-mat connect-the-dots drawing, then the day is not so bright. That little BUTTERFLY-drawing trip through the alphabet puts more stress on the grid that you probably think, and so we're left with lots of yawner fill and not much else, honestly. Without the drawing, this puzzle is nothing. I mean, CATERPILLAR / CHRYSALIS / BUTTERFLY? Those are your themers? No. That might pass muster in a child's crossword, or [redacted lesser crossword publication], but it's not nearly enough to carry a NYT Thursday. So the drawing is the thing. And I don't come here for drawing. Now there were individual clues along the way that I enjoyed cracking, so it was not a total loss. There's nothing dreadful about this. It's just a puzzle that seems designed to impress, well, children, and people who don't solve often. It's a cheap magic trick that guts the puzzle of it's true pleasures. For me. You are of course free to love it like crazy. I see that people are solving it very quickly, so that always engenders good will. And it is timely (spring!!).

Crashed out on 1A for the second day in a row, but I prefer crashing out to a wrong answer (today) than to a I-have-no-idea answer (yesterday). Faced with [Head on a plate?] I wrote in LETTUCE! Yes, it's absurd that there would be an entire head of LETTUCE on your plate, but that absurdity applies to CABBAGE too. I went through my entire rolodex of egg-shape answers and couldn't find a one that was long enough to fit in 14A: Egg-shaped. OVAL? OVATE? OVOID? OVOID already exists, you see, so why would I or anyone expect that the word OVOIDAL existed or was necessary?? Please "OVOID AL" uses of that "word" in the future, thanks. What the hell is PRE????  (31D: Air traveler's convenience, informally). Pre-what? Pre-boarding??? I know there is that shorter security line that you can either register for or get randomly chosen for. I think it's called TSA PreCheck? Is that PRE? I fly not infrequently, and "PRE" as a thing that anyone says "informally" is a mysssstery to me. It's truly terrible as a clue, because as fill it's already bad, and then you go and make it inscrutable? Bizarre. Clue on PINKOES is absurd, in that it seems to be endorsing the validity of a pejorative that rarely gets used in any credible way nowadays (if it ever did) (64A: People whose political views are "Communist lite"). Hilariously, I had no idea that "PINK" was part of that word because it was RED "lite"? And now I do. So I learned something. One more check in the Asset column for this thing. Still not enough checks.

Hey here's a cool thing that happened to me while I was solving yesterday, courtesy of the legendary Liz Gorski:


Thank you, Liz!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. RHYME is correct for 52D: Pay for play because "pay" and "play" .... RHYME :/
P.P.S. ARS is correct for 58D: Married couple? because there are two R's (ARS!?!!) in "married" :(

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:28 AM  

AAH, this one gave me the resistance I love to grapple with; it passed the tussle test.

There was great effort put into making it, as Alex describes in his notes, and great skill in interlinking the theme answers while getting the right letters into the butterfly image squares. Alex is a pro when it comes to the nuts and bolts.

What this puzzle also demonstrates, IMO, is that Alex is an artist as well as a pro when it comes to cluing, nailing vague and wordplaying clues again and again to spur this solver’s brain into actually thinking – facing mini-problems and working out satisfying solutions to them, and I’m grateful for it. Clues that made me smile were those for STENOS, FRAT, RHYME, SIN, STABLE, SALAAM, BOB, and ARS.

The NW island was tough for me, not knowing AVANTI right off or BON TON at all. It was the last to fall, and the butterfly image letters helped break it open.

I see you almost snuck the middle of your full name in the puzzle at 22A, Alex, but this whole puzzle shone with your signature. Nice one!

DeeJay 6:55 AM  

Good puz, lots a fun. Tho I misread something and thought the connect the dots was going to be an image related to GAMEBOY.

Reading is fundamental.

kodak jenkins 7:07 AM  

I love it like crazy. Thank you, Rex, for allowing me to do so.

Seriously, it's an ok puzzle. A bit too easy for a Thursday except that I actually figured out the theme/drawing early and filling in all those little circle helped increase my time quite a bit. I think the Tuesday was the hardest one so far this week.

Nice to see SALAAM instead of SHALOM, though both are pleasant thoughts. Also glad there wasn't much crap fill except ATL and UGG. I really cannot get down with PRE or ARS, however.

amyyanni 7:08 AM  

Caused myself no end of trouble by blithely throwing Costas instead of Cosell. Agree with Rex on pinkoes, pre, and the whole drawing on a puzzle gimmick. On the other hand, new and innovative themes based upon strict word play are not easy to create, or so it seems to me. There's a lot to like here and I did. Like it.

KRMunson 7:12 AM  

Found this puz to be difficult but ultimately doable. Not at all “easy” as per Rex.

70 in Nampa 7:17 AM  

I don't think so.
Easy, but some pretty lame fill.

Clay 7:17 AM  

If you are lucky enough to skip the main line, your boarding pass reads ‘PRE’ — happened to me once unexpectedly, but sadly never again.

RickBoardman 7:17 AM  

PRE is what gets printed on your boarding pass if you are, indeed, eligible for the TSA "keep your shoes and belt on" line. Thus, many times my son and I carefully scan our passes for those precious letters on our passes as soon as they are issued. Now we don't print passes but rather "send" them to our phones. Ah the wonders of the modern age. But is the flying experience actually improved since I first flew in the 1950s?

QuasiMojo 7:23 AM  

Highlights Magazine. Rex nailed it.

kitshef 7:25 AM  

It irritates me to a completely unreasonable irrational degree that the NYT continues to clue SNARF with (down), rather than (up).

Major kudos, though for getting CHRYSALIS right. I was just telling the gals in the STENO pool the other day how I hear more and more people saying ‘cocoon’ when they mean CHRYSALIS. Then we complained about those PINKOES for a while 'til it was time to go home and watch the Howard COSELL show.

Runs with Scissors 7:39 AM  

Butterflies and their associated stages of life. They’ve been migrating through here (SoCal) with all the rain-besotted poppies and other flora. Folks with whip antennas have new decorations, so perhaps it’s topical.

I EASED IN to this one and found much to like! Anytime you can get a STABLE PANDEMIC amongst the GASBAGs it’s a win.

ECLAIR , CABBAGE, CHRYSALIS, ARGYLE. And PINKOES!!!! It’s like getting rewards in the supermarket checkout line. Maybe better.

I’m pretty sure the PINKOES in the FRAT are going to be PAYERS later on. Some may even wear ARGYLE socks.

The GOSPELS of BOB. RHYME that, if you can.


And then there’s OVOIDAL. Quite the flailing stretch, there. I’ll say no more about that.

Almost forgot COSELL hidden there in the middle. Had to have the sports clue, didn’t we? But on the positive side for all y’all anti-SW people – and you know who you are – there wasn’t a clue or answer from it, unless I wasn’t paying close enough attention. So there’s that.

Finally, not one but TWO – count ‘em, TWO – French bakeries, where you can apparently obtain GATEAUx, and ECLAIRs without the accent aigu (√©).

Staying with the food-related arcana, I’ve never SNARFed. Scarfed, yes. Must be a regionalismistic thang. Or maybe abject desperation. You pick.

On the plus side, another puzzle without a tilde on the lam.

Overall enjoyable, although no rebusness occurred on this Thursday.

Ever wonder why we never see “whom” in a puzzle? I’ll tell ya why – it’s the least needed, most irrelevant hanger-on grammar ort in English. Totally unnecessary and not conducive to effective communication in any way, shape or form.

On to Friday!

Mark, in Mickey’s North 40.

Hungry Mother 8:06 AM  

Lovely Thursday, although the circles went ignored. Some devious cluing made it fun.

webwinger 8:13 AM  

Can I be the only one who was expecting 1A to be John the Baptist, courtesy of a Thursday rebus?

Found this slightly easier than average for Thursday. My only real hang-up came over PRE (which I usually seem to get when I fly Southwest, but not today for some reason—grr!). I filled in MRE (Meal-Ready-to-Eat, assuming that’s still the preferred term for military rations), thinking it could apply also to the boxes of unappetizing food people buy at airport concourse shops if they need to consume something more substantial than peanuts on a long flight; figured the crossing Mayer might have something to do with some kind of bill (maybe an obscure bird species).

I quite liked the puzzle overall; both answers and clues had a lot of sparkle. Got nice aha!’s from sussing out ARS and RHYME. Found the theme pleasant, including the drawing. Got nice aha!’s from sussing out ARS and RHYME. Agree with @Rex about OVOIDAL. Thought he would be more upset than he appeared to be over PINKOES (which mainly caused me hesitation because of spelling). I can only recall the word being used ironically in reference to political liberals. Now that they’ve been replaced by progressives who don’t hesitate to self-apply the label socialist, I’m not sure where PINKOES lies on the pejorative scale.

ROOMIE saddened me. It was the affectionate way my college roommate Mike and I continued to greet each other over more than 40 years of close friendship, until he was cut down by dementia in his early 60s—body now still alive, mind dead.

Other causes for sadness this week: the Notre Dame fire, of course, and also, I think, the story of the young woman (!) who destroyed herself in Colorado, having mundanely purchased a legal firearm but not, thankfully, having used it on anyone else. From the glimpses of her on-line presence we’ve been shown by the media, it sounds like she was an intelligent and creative person hounded by inner demons.

It’s interesting to me that all three of these stories bring out sadness without anger, an increasingly rare occurrence in our age of blaming and shaming. The future for Notre Dame blessedly looks like it will be restoration to better shape than it’s had in centuries. Could the tale of the would-be school shooter lead to better understanding and maybe better success in defusing future situations?

One last thing (going on way too long today, I know): I recall that after the Columbine massacre, a survey asked high school students if they believed it was really possible for teens to have planned and executed that abomination without their parents’ having any advance knowledge. Amazingly IMO, 100% responded yes!

mmorgan 8:17 AM  

I hadn’t realized it, but my wife and I often use “Pre” on its own to mean TSA PreCheck.

Scene: Printing or downloading boarding passes
Me: Did we get Pre this time?
Her: Yes! We got Pre!
Me: I love Pre!

I don’t quite get Rex’s objection to PINKOES although, a la Dan Quayle, I would have left out the E.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

As I recall, the great Liz Gorski created a few connect the dot puzzles for the NYT. They were fun and so was this. An amazing theme and some solid fill. Eclair, Gateau, better than burnt toast and a mealy apple! And at the end, a Butterfly.

Thank you Alex Eaton-Salners. Nice job.

SouthsideJohnny 8:30 AM  

Someone please correct me if I am mistaken, but isn’t UGG an American company ? EMU boots are from Australia.

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

PRE is clued reasonably in the newspaper version as "____[checkmark symbol] (traveler's convenience)."

gregg 8:36 AM  

The clue for 31 across clearly says "___ checkmark" in the print version. So the answer clearly is Pre. Is the checkmark not visible in other versions? Seemed straightforward to us.

FrankStein 8:40 AM  

@webwinger, Baptist was my first thought too. Salome is one of my favorite operas.

RavTom 8:41 AM  

In the paper version, the clue yielding PRE is a blank followed by the distinctive TSA PreCheck check mark. Therefore the blank is a perfectly reasonable partial (pre + check). Does this symbol not show up in the electronic version?

Z 8:46 AM  

In the paper the clue for 31D is “________ ✔️“ {check mark symbol}. So a little less annoying for us dead-tree solvers. Although the very notion of the TSA and paying not to be unconstitutionally searched chafes my britches.

DNF at AVANTe/SeN. C’mon man, is the notion of SeN. Lust really that unlikely? Gary Hart. Wilbur Mills. Ted Kennedy. Newt Gingrich (although more of “what an incredible asshole” scandal than a sex scandal), Mark Sanford. Senator Lust hiking the Appalachian Trail is almost as American as baseball and apple pie.

LOL at the “Communist Lite” clue. So slimming and now with half the sugar.

I like grid art more than Rex, but let’s not miss the essential point, the connect-the-dots thing strains the fill, so OVOIDAL. What is remarkable to me is that the fill is as strong as it is. AFTER OVOIDAL nothing really grates (well, PRE-✔️) so I think this is nicely done. And BUTTERFLYs.

Canon Chasuble 8:50 AM  

Had "sweeps" for stenos -- too much NCAA basketball, maybe. "Pinkoes" was a much-used term of opprobrium, left over from the 1950s.

Hartley70 9:01 AM  

I love a pulsing PINK BUTTERFLY!! That’s an awesome special effect today.

I guess Rex didn’t see that on his placemat.

Harryp 9:07 AM  

I am glad the online butterfly drew itself, because my drawing wouldn't have looked as nice. I have never heard of 52D FLAKE in that context, but I suppose it must be so. My first thought for 61A was RED CLOUD, but I new he was much later (1860's), and left that open. Altogether a Medium solving experience, and I wish Thursdays would be Rebus days.

Piano Person 9:10 AM  

Just got back from running down the Elton John rabbit hole...then the Phil Donahue rabbit hole (there was a Donahue interview with EJ that, yes, I watched). I have the day off, so sue me. Also, I miss Donahue's "Is the caller there?" And Elton John is, well, probably one of the top influences of R&R for piano players...ever. Billy Joel is up there (and Freddie Mercury too)...but Sir Elton is amazing in that he came up with that sound all on his own. We all sound like him now. It was a quantum leap difference from Jerry Lee Lewis and those keyboard players in the late 60s that were more country than R&R.

As for the puzzle, I didn't like a lot of the cluing. 18A Place to go off track? 19A Speak at a level pitch, 35A Modern line at an airport (the line is usually just "ground transportation," and at LGA there might be a different name for where non-taxi companies, Uber and Lyft, pick you up...but UBERS without Lyfts does not accurately answer the clue. UBERS are not lined up like taxis), 54A Same sex union? (Ugh) etc.

S-ARF...I've learned my lesson to wait until I get a cross to see if it's an N or C.

I recall saying "commie pinkoes" in the early 70s when I was a kid. That might have been an All In The Family thing.

And I agree with Rex that PRE is not a thing, at least not one that you say non-ironically. You may call it PRE in a Seinfeldian kind of way...but it's not like PreCheck takes all that long to say that you'd need to abbreviate it. Sure, you may not say TSA PreCheck...but "pre-check" rolls out of the mouth with little or no effort. If you say you stop in the terminal and get some "cof" at Bucks? Yeah, didn't think so.

54A was probably the biggest problem I had with the grid. Same sex union? FRAT? Technically true, I guess, but there is something extremely wonky about it...not quite tone deaf, but pretty damn close. Is a FRAT a union? Is it?? No...not really. That is, any more than any other organization is a "union"...which is to say none of them. Does Religious Union? = Church? Does Civil Union? = Police department? A fraternity is a club, an organization with members...not a union. To try to bend Same Sex in there makes it pretty lame. An ill attempt at being edgy.

Finally, I agree with Rex on connecting the dots. I'm glad the applet on the site did it for me...otherwise I wouldn't have cared to even visualize it. I applaud the ingenuity to line up the alphabet (only to letter N, randomly??) in the approximated shape of a butterfly, but that didn't entice me to draw it or care what it looked like. I don't think butterflies are hard to draw anyway, so it's kinda cheating...come back to be with a puzzle that draws a Cutty Sark or the Last Supper and we'll talk.

webwinger 9:25 AM  

In the NYT app version I solved, 31D is clued "Air traveler's convenience, informally".

Agree with above comments about the self-drawing BUTTERFLY on-line--quite snazzy!

albatross shell 9:28 AM  

Thanks for the explanation for PRE. I rarely fly anywhere anymore, but one of the times I did, I did get into that advantaged line. Completely forgot how it was signified on the ticket. It was the first or second time I flew post-9/11.

I think you can SNARF or scarf food up or down, but you can only SNARF or scarf up highly desired cheaply priced items from a yard sale table. Actually I never use SNARF myself. I do hear it.

I am not familiar with FLAKE as clued.

I filled in but did not understand ARS.

Had sex not SIN, until I had BONTO_, and realized BON TON was not just a store.

It must be an easy Thursday because except for a few places filled in pretty quickly and I managed to finish. Getting FRAT keyed solving the SE. The last to go was the ARS SEAEEL cross.
COSEll was a gimmee and a GASBAG. Often wrong about football and boxing, but he was not a network or sports establishment toadies like so many of today's announcers.

Nancy 9:31 AM  

If I wanted to draw, I'd be in Art Class. What I wanted on this Thursday morning was a crunchy, tricky puzzle worthy of the Day -- and this wasn't it. But I don't blame Alex; you go where you're told when you submit a puzzle, and this should have been run on Wednesday.

Still, there were some lovely clues for STABLE (18A); BOB (11D); and RHYME (52D). Why does this RHYME mislead get me every single time? It shouldn't, but it always does -- especially when it's done as cleverly as it is here.

This puzzle is very well-crafted for the kind of puzzle it is. I just don't especially like the kind of puzzle it is. And, sorry, constructors, you can't make me draw -- no matter how hard you try. I never have, and I never will.

Unknown 9:37 AM  

ICEIN crosses with EASEDIN?? Two IN's in the same puzzle???

Sir Hillary 9:46 AM  

This did nothing for me. One look at the revealer clue and the grid, and the jig was up. From there, it was just a fill-in-the-blanks exercise. The drawing looks to me more like a fancy bowtie than a BUTTERFLY, although I do like that the CATERPILLAR forms the body. Grid strain is not the issue -- as others have noted, it's quite clean -- but the fill is pretty boring.

Shared clue opportunity: 1996 NLCS participant, on scoreboards for STL and ATL.

Cross-referenced clue opportunity: Where 47D is often heard and Comment often heard at a 38A.

Top-row truism: Too much CABBAGE will make anyone a GASBAG.

Top marks to @Rex for the videos. Lloyd Cole's "Don't Get Weird on Me Babe" is one of my favorite LPs of the '90s, and "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy" is Elton's best-ever album IMO.

gfrpeace 9:58 AM  

Could someone explain 13D, Thousand bucks GEE ?

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

LOL. Rex doesnt did a great puzzle with some nifty fill: gateau, salaam,and pinkoes. And even better themers; chrysalis alone is worth the price of admission.

Indulge this lat bit, because I'm not on twitter.
No Rex, Lent is not over. Yes, there's a very excellent case to be made for saying it ends on Maundy Thursday. BUT only after mass. Tonight. You know, because it's a commemoration of the last supper. Not breakfast, lunch, brunch or tea. Supper. At night. Lent ends tonight. This holy night. Good grief.

Dick Veit 10:05 AM  

In the 50s and 60s "pinkos" was a common slur used by the right against the left, usually spelled without an e.

Jen Brooks 10:13 AM  

Lloyd Cole! Thank you for that.

GILL I. 10:23 AM  

CABBAGE? Holy tamale...I had CARNAGE for the longest. I start visualizing things. I'm not a violent person but I can think of several heads I'd like to see on a plate and they don't involve GAS BAG CABBAGE.
I had trouble every which way. I knew it was COSELL because I did. I couldn't remember how to spell his name. I enjoyed the man - toupee and all - because he adored ALI and so did I - even though I hate boxing.
Wanted BINGO for 40A, wanted FOUL for 25D and had the same ScARF as everyone with any sense. We had SNARF not too long ago and it caused a beef.
AAH....BUTTERFLY. So this is what it's about. Love them little critters. We have a bunch of them now and they seem to FRAT with the Azaleas.
Loved the clue for CASA, learned BONTON and saw my grandmother's favorite PINKOES. She called everyone who wasn't a Republican a PINKO. She graduated from SMITH so there you have it.
I didn't bother to draw on my child's placemat - I knew @Rex would do it for me. If it were a horse's head, I would've.
@RickBoardman 7:17....You mean back in the day when you dressed in your Sunday best? When the people on board your flight were actually pleasant? When the stewardess was actually a trained nurse? When the food wasn't just canned peas? When no one on this planet though to blow up the plane? NO. I spent too many years flying and now I won't if at all possible. I can fly free (stand-by) now but I hate it so much that I would rather take a train or drive. But I love butterflies!
I liked this puzzle. Alex obviously had to work hard to get his image in place and I think he did a good job of it.

albatross shell 10:38 AM  

Agree - PINKOES was almost and maybe always spelled without the E.

FRAT seems properly clued to me. ? clearly indicating misdirection. Hazing, oaths, secret handshakes, drinking, membership, selection process all typical of unions of various kinds. I enjoyed the irony because in my day fraternities were marginally more anti-gay than the rest of the population except for the one gay fraternity which was always someone elses.
The butterfly helped get me the A in the CASA GATEAU cross.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

I find it odd though perhaps not surprising that Rex praises the Gorski puzzle that mentions his name, but disses the connect-the-dots form that she invented. Her grid-drawing puzzles are among the most memorable for me.

David 10:42 AM  

Pinko is about as relevant today as hippy is. And, since it's a made up word, it doesn't rate "proper" pluralization, just "pinkos". One may hear it used by a certain type of angry old white man, who also are the only people who use "hippy" without any apparent irony. Were Howard Cosell alive today, he'd likely be one of them.

Let's see, is it "aah" or "ahh" at the spa today? What's the latest made up abbreviation of a place name? Is the same person serving me a head of cabbage the one who uses the variant spelling of ovoid? Why oh why do they allow answers as letters within the key? I truly hate that.

I get the pool of stenos. Where's the party? Which of the hundreds of sea eels am I being fed? I do like a nice gateau, and Eclairs need no accent on a leading cap, I'll snarf one up (not down) in a nanosecond. Here in the Northeast, a scarf is something we wear in winter, afaik.

I'm triggered by Uber, the first successful tool of the new debt economy. I'm always bleakly amused at how many of my "progressive" friends use it. Y'all should read David Graeber's book on the history of such economies.

What did I like about this puzzle? The stages of life was neat trick.

ranman 10:59 AM  

Wish I Had more of a life to I didn't feel so compelled to weigh in, but as a Delta Million Miler and Diamond flier (i.e. a lot!), not to mention a charter member of TSA Precheck, I've never once referred to it as "Pre" alone. TSA Pre or Pre-check but never "pre".

Nonetheless very inferrable so unlikely to Natick.

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

Could someone explain 13D, Thousand bucks GEE ?

Because it's wrong. The actual usage is just G, as in "I won 10Gs at the race track".

Ellen S 11:04 AM  

Puzzazz showed _____ followed by a checkmark. It always matches the print version. I don’t know why people are still using anything else.

Other than PREcheck, I thought a lot of the fill was weak, as complained by @Rex. OVOIDAL indeed.

Oh, on the subject of PREcheck, I and my family were randomly chosen for it one time flying out of San Diego. In that line we were told to remove our shoes, take our computers and liquids out of our carry-on bags, the whole useless humiliating mess. The only thing different was that there were fewer people in that line. But there was only one such “privileged” line, and there were several of the other, so it wasn’t any faster. Just more stupid.

What? 11:05 AM  

Yes, American

What? 11:07 AM  

A G is short for a thousand, as in “10 G’s”, gangster talk

Thor 11:11 AM  

@David10:42 AM: All words are made up.

Newboy 11:11 AM  

It’s spring even in Idaho, so I’ll give this one a flutter of praise. Mostly I agree with OFL’s curmudgeonly assessment though I did learn BON TON to file away for the future.

Nancy 11:13 AM  

@GILL (10:23) -- FOUL (as opposed to Fair) is what you say in baseball or softball. In tennis, a ball is OUT (as opposed to In). OUT is what the line judge says. But if you're playing a social game and calling the lines yourself, you'll often want to let your opponent know how the ball was OUT. If it's past the baseline (as in the clue) it's LONG. If it's in the alley (or beyond the alley in doubles) it's WIDE.

Also, @GILL, I went to Smith, but two generations later than your grandmother, and I can assure you there were plenty of liberals there by then.

Re: PINKOS (which is how you spell it), I think it's derived from the phrase "Parlor Pink". And I'm pretty sure that the phrase was coined by left-leaning people themselves to indicate how genteel, classy, and completely unthreatening their left-leaning really was. It only became a pejorative when it was seized upon by the RIGHT and morphed into the epithet PINKOS.

albatross shell 11:15 AM  

Party at least informally may be used to mean person or group of persons with particular characteristics or a member of a crew. Maybe pool parties would be correct?

Whatsername 11:16 AM  

On my hard copy printout, the clue for 31D reads: “Air traveler’s convenience, informally.” No checkmark, so not much help, especially for someone who avoids commercial air travel like the plague.

I was not a fan of much today other than a couple of killer clues; see STENOS, FRAT (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Didn’t know BONTON but it falls under the heading of learned something new for the day and that’s always an accomplishment OFNOTE.

I appreciate the effort of construction here but the theme is painfully simple for a Thursday and @Nancy is right that it seems better suited for a Wednesday. I also agree with Rex that the entire solving experience is further degraded by the act of drawing a picture connected by letters which might as well be dots. I have not heard the term “PINKO“ since Archie Bunker went off the air but if I had to make it plural I’d simply add an S, no E. Never heard FLAKE used in that context - flake out maybe but not just flake alone. Married couple equals ARS seemed odd to me. Finally, I object to the clue for 11D “it’s always cut short.” No, it is not. The BOB is a very popular ladies’ hairstyle which can be worn at any length - short, medium or shoulder level/long.

JC66 11:18 AM  

SCARF down, SNARF up, FLAKE out.

@GILL I. I initially thought COSELL might be part of the theme because of his relationship with Ali (float like a BUTTERFLY, sting like a bee).

@Piano Person. the "modern line at the airport" (35A) are the UBERS waiting to pick up passengers, not the people who ordered them.

jberg 11:21 AM  

I liked the butterfly and its stages, along with the illustration. Since I could see what it was going to be, I failed to notice the alphabetical order, which makes it even neater. Of course, it also means that once you get to 23A with a B from GAMEBOY already there, the puzzle is basically over -- you put in the three crossing (!) theme answers and you've got almost everything. Again, if I'd thought about the alphabetical circles I could have filled them all in, as well -- so pretty easy. Especially since there was an upscale women's clothing store in Milwaukee called the BONTON, the occasional destination of a shopping excursion from my small town two hours away.

I've heard FLAKE out used to mean failing to do what you've promised, such as showing up --but never without the out, as the clue implies.

I was once married to a printmaker, and I have to point out that engrave and ETCH are not synonyms. In etching you paint acid-resist onto a plate, then run it into an acid bath. In engraving you carve the image into the plate directly.

@Rex, thanks for explaining ARS, I hadn't understood it. Quite a stretch.

jberg 11:22 AM  

@piano person -- I think cluing FRAT as a union is one of those paraprosdokian thingies @Loren likes so much.

jae 11:22 AM  

Medium. Pretty smooth with some fun entries, however, I’m not that fond of “connect the dots” themes. That said, this wasn’t too bad. Sorta liked it.

Newt Gingrich 11:26 AM  

@Z - True, I am REPrehensible in all possible ways, but I an not, nor was I ever, a SeNner.

I just learned a mnemonic device for spelling my last name - it's Gin - G - Rich. Which borders on the ironic, for where I not both rich and a whiskey man, I would be Gin -G - Poor as the size of my nose and my general pallor will truly and fully attest.

Malsdemare 11:42 AM  

Fine, fun puzzle. It took me forever (like until just this minute) to see that the butterfly circles are a-n. On my ipad, the app continuously draws the butterfly, making it hard to see all the circles. So I was scratching my head a long time on that one. I liked the clever clueing; I don't mind slight "inaccuracies"; they're hints, not synonyms. So the clues for FRAT, PRE, and others were fine for me.

Yup, wanted John the Baptist's head on that plate and struggled with lots of clues before I finally got on the constructor's wavelength. Then it was pretty speedy. I, too, had Sex before SIN and waa rather put out by the notion that sex isn't about love so the fix was a relief.

We have three acres we don't use so a neighbor in the past has cut the grass for his cattle. He's an irresponsible cattleman so when I was told this year he might not cut, I was thrilled. We have milkweed in the acres and last year we had a lot of butterflies, Monarchs among them. When I mentioned to a "friend" that I preferred using the land for the monarchs, he scoffed and said those few butterflies wouldn't save the population. I'm a conflict avoider so I was silent but thinking, "I'm saving them for ME, you twit." And maybe if more of us do that, we'll save them for the future. So as soon as it stops raining, I'm going to go check for CHRYSALIS (es? ai? i?)

gfrpeace 11:59 AM  

OK, I C. G is short for Grand. GEE is not short for Grand.

Carola 12:08 PM  

With C, D, F, and G in place, I drew the rest of the BUTTERFLY, filling in the circles along the way, and that definitely helped me get COSELL, DJS, PINKOES, SALAAM, UBERS. Found it satifying to write in CHRYSALIS, having little opportunity to do so otherwise. Re: letters as words: placed in opposite corn, they make a pair and a phrase: GEE, ARS! Followed maybe by UGG,

Z 12:19 PM  

@Newt - Correct about Gin-Grinch never being a senator. He reminds me of that great Joe Jackson line:
"They say that looks don't count for much
If so, there goes your proof."

Mostly, though, I was just riffing on political sex scandals to lamely justify my DNF. Like I said, arguing with wife #1 about the divorce while #1 is in the hospital recovering and still out of it from a surgery to remove a tumor is more assholery than sex scandal - so really a bad example on two counts. I wonder if he handled divorce #2 any better.

Masked and Anonymous 12:34 PM  

1. Cool puz. Hidden puzgrid art, even without yer EW-gridsymmetry. Smooth-ish fill. Sneaky clues. Good stuff.
2. Theme itself is not quite up to ThursPuz snuff. Connect the dots to get a butterfly sounds like an early week theme mcguffin. Just sayin.
3. Connectin the U's generates a real pretty triangle.

staff weeject pick: BOB. Of the 19 choices, it's the weeject that looks the most like a butterfly. Weeject stacks: NE & SW; always welcome. Whence honorable mention to ARS (yo, @RP).

fave fillins: PANDEMIC. REDEAGLE. Not real excitin letters, but at least they're 8-long. OVOIDAL is quite nice, in a sorta raised-by-wolves way. Luved the DJS clue, which totally ignores lettin U know it's gonna be an abbrev. CABBAGE clue is primo schlocky, as an openin salvo from the OVOIDAL zone. PINKOES is agreeably different. RHYME clue fights hard to help conceal a butterfly winglet. BONTON sounds like a half wonton, half bonbon brand name idea.


Thanx for the lepidopterous bughunt, Mr. E-S. Did the Shortzmeister ever threaten to throw a net over U? har

Masked & Anonymo3Us


pmdm 12:46 PM  

People who I consider truly great tend not to condescend. For example, Leonard Bernstein. So look at this quote, for example.

"It's just a puzzle that seems designed to impress, well, children, and people who don't solve often. It's a cheap magic trick that guts the puzzle of it's true pleasures. For me. You are of course free to love it like crazy. I see that people are solving it very quickly, so that always engenders good will."

After visiting XWordInfo and reading the constructors comments, I am not so sure the construct was trying to create a "cheap magic trick."

Children tend to be eogistical. (I'll leave it at that.) If you display things like birthday tribules often enough, that might betray an attempt to promote self importance, which partners with condescension. Hmm. If you do it once, no. If you keep doing that type of thing, maybe no but appearances count.

Anyway, I don't draw. I go to blogs to view the artwork. I very much enjoyed the puzzle without doing the artwork. I wish the boxer Ali were in the puzzle. And why doesn't a major league team very butterfly as a nickname? Not violent enough?

John J A 1:14 PM  

@Mals - If you're letting your field go to weeds for the sake of the local fauna, throw around some thistle seeds for good measure. You'll be inundated with Gold Finches and Honey Bees.

Teedmn 1:15 PM  

This puzzle speaks to me of the upcoming holiday this weekend - the metamorphosis of a BUTTERFLY leads me to analogies of Easter. What with the GOSPELS, ELI, Our Lady of ETON, and the head of John the Baptist (thanks, @webwinger 8:13, for that image), there are more than a couple biblical references.

My crossword brain was working overtime with ___P_L_ in the grid - I had apostles and disciples dancing in my head before GASBAG brought the GOSPELS to mind.

And then there's the shoot-myself-in-the-foot entry of Eco 62D. Was I thinking Ego-centric and just went with everyone's favorite "green" prefix instead?

AES, this is some nice grid art, thanks.

CDilly52 1:19 PM  

Do you SNARF up but SCARF down? Out here in middle America, that seems to be the norm. I do not recall hearing “scarf up” ever and rarely SNARF with either.

Newt Gingrich 1:20 PM  

@Z Well, I was having an affair with Wife #3 at the time when, 6 months after Wife #2 as diagnosed with MS, I asked Wife #2 for a divorce. So, no, not really differently.

CDilly52 1:30 PM  

I agree, and in fact think that ending “after supper” (or at least close to supper in most time zones) on Maundy Thursday may have been the reason God helped us Catholics create 5:00pm mass! Thankfully!

Hodor 1:34 PM  

The common use of the word "epicenter" is a pet peeve of mine. It does not mean "the exact center" of something. It has one meaning - the point on the surface of the earth under which, sometimes miles away, an earthquake took place.

So, by definition, it is never the exact center of anything. It is an approximation in two dimensions of something that happened in three dimensions.

Please, please stop using it to try to emphasize the word "center". Center is the correct word. Epicenter should only be used in reference to an earthquake and absolutely nothing else.

Gary H 1:35 PM  

It’s actually PreCheck and there’s a check in the clue.

GILL I. 1:37 PM  

@Nancy...Hah! I thought I might ruffle your BUTTERFLY wings with both tennis and Smith.
I absolutely stink at tennis. I hit the ball so damn hard my partners would get disgusted at always having to look for balls in a field somewhere. Tether ball...on the other hand. NOBODY could beat me. Not even the PINKO boys who tried in vain.
I knew you had attended Smith. Nana went to Smith only because her mother went to Bryn Mawr and believed all her daughters needed to be well educated - especially in an all women's college. Bryn Mawr was too Quakerish for her liking (what a surprise) so she opted to go far away. Massachusetts it was. My grandmother was far ahead of her time. She drove by herself all over the country; rode horses everywhere, bought her own house, taught English to Mexican migrant children - in other words nothing held her back...except she hated PINKOES......or anything closely related to communism. I hate it too. Thank you Fidel and Che.
@JC66 11:18. Of course! I'm glad you reminded me. As I mentioned, I don't like boxing but boy did I love watching Ali. His ego was matched by none and COSELL was a master at getting him to talk flamboyantly about his own greatness. LOVED IT..

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

@pmdm - Leaving the "I don't like the reviewer saying what he thought about the puzzle" aside, It was a tribute puzzle to Charlie Chaplin that you're referencing which had Rex in a clue for "Parker". Not that making sense around here seems to matter.

Everyone 1:47 PM  

@Hodor - Every dictionary in the world disagrees with you.

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

I haven't heard the expression "Pinko" since Archie Bunker on "All in the Family!"

CDilly52 2:12 PM  

Whether or not one enjoyed this puzzle, the level of skill required to bring it about impressed me. So many different parts to having this very fully developed theme, and so little gunk!

STENO made me think of my dear assistant and friend, Pat S. Originally a “shorthand reporter” in the courtroom, and tired of that frenetic pace and the transcription deadlines, she went to work in a silk stocking law firm and was assigned to me in my second five years of practice. She could write her secret code faster than most folks with whom I have worked are able to type, and could transcribe at lightening speed. Old enough to be my mother, she knew more about the law, the lawyers in town, the judges and the people in the firm than anyone, and was such a mentor to me. Fortunate enough to have been raised in a strict German family, respect for one’s elders was one verse of the family theme song, and it stood me in good stead. I knew from the first that I had loads to learn and was (and remain) grateful for her patience and generosity. Woe betide the know-it-all young Associate fresh from the Ivy League trying to lord it over Miss Pat. She had such clever, subtle yet painful-on-the-receiving-end “lessons” for them. And having someone who could “take a letter” (or phone messages or anything else) was such a blessing-one that I missed from the day my first Dictaphone arrived on my desk to today. Funny how these puzzles can send one way down Memory Lane with the odd clue. In the last decade of her life, dementia took our dear Pat from us, but left her body functioning. @webwinger, 8:13, my heart hurts for you and your ROOMIE. I will light an extra candle this evening as the Lenten season ends.

Apologies to one and all for whom this was entirely TMI.

So, after I figured out that Baptist wouldn’t do for the head on the plate, I thought that being Thursday neither lettuce nor CABBAGE was clever enough and threw down iceberg, still thinking some kind of veg. Sheesh. Messed me up for quite a while.

Looks like the clue for PINKOES came directly from Wiki. . . “Pink could describe a ‘lighter form of Communism.’” This term was used often during the Cold War era, and I believe that it’s plural is PINKO(e)S but can forgive and forget since the puzzle was overall well done. I ScARF not SNARF but have learned. It to be too hasty with the “c” as apparently more constructors are SNARFers.

I mourn the devastation visited upon Notre Dame. Thankful, though for all who have come forward to repair “The Forest” as the rafters have been called for ages, and equally thankful for all of the engineers, craftspeople and artists who will lend their hearts and hands to restoration. Today’s metamorphosis theme reminds me that spring is the time to be hopeful. Let’s; shall we?

puzzlehoarder 2:16 PM  

I never gave much thought to CABBAGE and lettuce having the same number of letters before. Today it slowed down the NW section but just momentarily. Oddly it was thinking 2D could be ANDALE that straightened that out. When faced with Italian I usually think of the closest comparable Spanish word and hope for the best. That first A was all that was needed. AVANTI was then easy to recognize as I'm familiar with it as a car.

The theme gave itself up quickly and only the SE section gave me any trouble.

@malsdemare, kudos to you for supporting the monarch population. We have lots of milkweed in our garden hear in Chicago. My wife brings in the leaves that have eggs on them and feeds them milkweed when they hatch. Last year we released over 20 monarchs. Don't listen to your idiot neighbor. Continue to think globally and act locally.

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

UGG (note all caps) is an American brand manufacturing a version of ugg (note lower case) boots, which originated in Australia.

Z 3:09 PM  

@Everyone - “Every dictionary?” Surely you hyperbolate. Nevertheless, you beat me to it.

@John the Baptists - Dark. So So Dark.

@pmdm - What’s confusing to me is I seem to recall OFL loving grid art. Not to mention that he uses drawing as an instructional device in his classes. Oh well, intellectual consistency is over-rated anyway. What’s disappointing to me after reading xword info is that the intended representation (the central CATERPILLAR in gray) was not made available because of software limitations. I bet PuzzAzz could have done circles and gray squares. Just saying.

GILL I. 3:40 PM  

@CDilly52 2:12. I'm up here in God's country (Auburn, California) house sitting a standard poodle along with my husband and our two doxipoos and I have some time on my hands. I just want to say how much I enjoy reading your stories. We have something in common in that I pick out something in the puzzle that brings on a smile and I tell a story. Sorry if I bore. You don't.
My grandmother (the PINKO hater above mentioned) was a proud amanuensis. Her first job after leaving Smith was said position in a law firm in Boston. She would never say the word STENO nor secretary! Good lord she was a snob. But....she was a VERY smart one.
Happy up-coming Easter and long live the Monarchs.....

albatross shell 4:45 PM  

I was in error - pool parties is the clue, and thus correct. I know there is no I in error.
There was an objection to STABLE. Why? They are off the race track.

In one dictionary gee is defined as a thousand dollars. In Merriam-webster gee is defined as the letter g. Either way all is good.

PINKO apparently originated in Time magazine in 1925 as a pejorative for leftist views. Pink had previously been used for socialist and parlor PINK to emphasize a presumption of effeteness.

The spire on Notre Dame was added to Notre Dame because Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame created lots of money for a refurbishing effort that, until the novel, was failing. The current refurbishing effort was lagging in funding until it caused (apparently) the fire. Money, if not the Lord, moves in mysterious ways. Laughton or Quinn or Chaney? Ohara or Lollobrigida? Gina and Charles. Chaney and Maureen close seconds.

Nancy 6:08 PM  

@CDilly52 (2:12) -- I'll second what @GILL said. I thought you wrote a beautiful tribute to your late assistant and friend. Far from being TMI, it was an interesting and revealing portrait that I enjoyed reading. In fact, I enjoy everything you write.

I've also enjoyed all your various accounts of your grandmother, @GILL, who sounds like quite a memorable character. While neither of my own grandmothers resembled her in the least, she seems in some ways like my grandmother's first cousin Florence, whom everyone in the family called "Aunt Flossie". I can only describe Aunt Flossie as a Grande Dame. Think Maggie Smith, but not nearly as funny. Now you might think that there's no such thing as a Jewish Grande Dame, but you'd be wrong.

CDilly52 6:13 PM  

My daughter and Son-in-Law lived in Auburn until last year when they moved to Santa Rosa. They are both teachers. I would live in either place. God’s country for sure! Small world. And to ever have called any one of the many people who have done the boring endless dogsbody work that supports the practice of law a STENO or mere Secretary is not rude and demeaning, it is unthinkable. Sounds like your grandmother raised you well, as mine did me.

Runs with Scissors 9:47 PM  

@Sir Hillary 9:46 AM.

"Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy" is Elton's best-ever album IMO.

Couldn't agree more.

Malsdemare 10:25 PM  

@John JA. Trust me; we have thistles, honey bees and goldfinches galore. Hate the thistles, love what they attract. Fauna win!

Ah, grandmothers! G'ma on my mom's side was born into a wealthy family and lived that way until she died of Tb at 35. But my Irish grandmother started life in the Irish ghetto, worked as a cigarpacker (maybe the worst job possible; done in the home with tobacco iinfiltrating every nook and cranny, paid a pittance), and rose to teaching techs at Cincinnati General Hospital. Her two sons, abandoned by their father as toddlers, became, respectfullu, a lawyer and a doctor. She's a real hero in our family

Unknown 2:16 PM  

Check out 'butterfly' by oh my girl

Burma Shave 9:48 AM  


GEE, BOB Costas’ STENOS wrote,
INTONEd with STRESS and feigned joy,
GOA head, play the GAME,BOY!”


spacecraft 10:42 AM  

It's a good thing the theme was such a gimme, because the clues for the fill are really opaque. I wouldn't call this easy-medium, but having so many letters to work from, AFTER inserting the big three, helped knock it down to doable.

I have never, in all my almost-79 years, heard FLAKE used as clued. Also, knowing RED Cloud but not REDEAGLE, I had quite a time in the SE. Yeah, a FRAT is a "same-sex union" all RIGHT, but you see what I mean about the clues. Luckily, those downs pretty much locked it up.

I learned new stuff today, so there's that: OVOID is actually a noun, an egg-shaped body, and its adjective form is OVOIDAL. Who knew? I'm reminded of the late great George Carlin, who complained:

"Flammable, inflammable, non-flammable. Don't you think that two words should cover it? I mean, either a thing flams or it doesn't."

I'm with OFC on this one: let's retire weird OVOID-AL.

Finishing up in the NW--again--I had an almost fatal hiccup. Having misspelled AVANTe, I natiurally assumed that "Lust, but not love" was SEX. But what was BONTOx? Sounds like a benign Botox. Then I dimly recalled a store from my childhood days, you know, when Mom dragged you around shopping because she couldn't afford a babysitter? Yeah, it was called The Bon-Ton. Funny how these LONG-ago things stick with you. So: SeN; nonsense--but then, change the E to an I and we have SIN! AAH!

Mini-theme: ELI/YALIE. DOD: Michelle YEOH. Score: Well, before coming here I ignored the circles and, like many, don't draw on puzzle grids. This would have been just fine without that. But come to discover that the circles contain the first fourteen letters of the alphabet--IN ORDER--and I have new-found admiration for it all. Thus: birdie.

rondo 11:51 AM  

I didn’t draw the BUTTERFLY, but OFL did a nice job of it. PINKOES a gimme, but I think I’ve only seen it sans the E. Ask Dan Quail.

Not many car buffs in the crowd (none?), otherwise we surely woulda heard about the Studebaker AVANTI by now. Cool looking car for the early 1960s. Fiberglass sport coupe made in the last two years before Studebaker folded. Speaking of folding, BONTON along with Carson Pirie Scott and Herberger’s and others under the same umbrella went out of business last year.

Howard COSELL’s memoirs: “I Never Played the Game”.

Any former Bond girl, including Michelle YEOH, is a shoo-in yeah baby.

Better than a rebus. Did you draw in your BUTTERFLY?

leftcoastTAM 2:15 PM  

Child's play?

Maybe so, but a nice, eclectic mix of entomology, languages, simple art, and clever sticklers in the fill. Seems good enough for crossword work, fun and on the easy side for a Thursday.

Among those sticklers (or stickers) are BONTON, YEOH, GATEAU, and PINKOES (a barbed entry on its own).

Smooth solve moving from bottom to top. Even sketched in the BUTTERFLY, just for the helluvit.

rainforest 2:16 PM  

I actually visualized the butterfly - didn't need to physically draw it in. Admire the feat, though.
I parsed OVOIDAL as an adjective, which though redundant makes sense.

I learned in Grade 4 or 5 that a butterfly emerged from a "cocoon". Later on I found that it is a CHRYSALIS, which is maybe too hard to spell for someone in Grade 4.

For CATERPILL_R, I hesitated at the last vowel (e or a?), but HATHA sounded right for a yoga thing.

Quite a few tricky clues which added to the general fun. I don't care what day the puzzle is published on. It was a good one, whenever it runs.

Unknown 2:52 PM  

Newt Gingrich and Mark Sanford were never senators. Gingrich was a representative, and Sanford was a governor at the time of his scandal and later a representative.

Wooody2004 3:06 PM  

What's new syndicats?

For some reason I thought GATEAU was French for cat.

I had to comment today because my Mom's last name is in the puzzle at 61A. She would have enjoyed seeing it.

Rex should have posted the "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida video by Iron Butterfly.

Married (pirate) couple = ARS.

At least no one mentioned the unSTABLE GASBAG OFNOTE today. Communist sympathizers used to be called PINKOS. Today, people who love Russia should be called Orange-Os.

Tricky Dick 4:26 AM  

Republican, Richard Nixon, the sweetheart of anti-Communist America. He ran for Senate in 1950. During the race, he accused his opponent, Helen Gahagan Douglas, of being a Commie, calling her "PINK right down to her underwear." His supporters mailed out postcards reading, "Vote for our Helen for Senator. We are with you 100%." It was signed "The Communist League of Negro Women Voters." —apparently the Communists weren't "scary" enough, they had to remind (white) people that they were "Negro voters." Nixon won the senate seat. In the end it's racism that seals the deal with Republican voters.

Vanda 11:11 AM  

Speaking of Helen Gahagan Douglas: She was married to actor Melvyn Douglas (Ninotchka; That Uncertain Feeling -- very funny Lubitsch film, free on YT; I Never Sang for My Father), who had -- from his first, brief marriage -- a son, whose daughter is the actor Illeana Douglas. (Step-granddaughter of HGD.)

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