Surfboard kayak hybrid / WED 5-22-19 / Religion with apostrophe in its name / Redhead on kids tv / Pioneering computer operating system / Ancient land conquered by Caesar

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Easy (3:32)

THEME: "one for the money etc." — I guess this is a counting rhyme? I know it only as the opening to "Blue Suede Shoes"; anyway, the theme clues are "One for the money" "Two for the show" "Three to get ready" and "Four to go" (not "Go cat go," sadly):

Theme answers:
  • LEATHER WALLET (19A: One for the money)
  • BROADWAY TICKETS (24A: Two for the show)
  • STOP DROP AND ROLL (43A: Three to get ready)
  • ALL-WHEEL DRIVE (50: Four to go)
Word of the Day: WAVESKI (9D: Surfboard/kayak hybrid) —
  1. Short water craft seating one rider, propelled by a two-ended paddle, designed for surfing waves. ( (I wanted to use wikipedia, but the entry was "written like an advertisement")
• • •

This is an "F" right out of the gate. Well, not right out ... but once you get to that third themer, yeah, fail. How did STOP DROP AND ROLL get by the constructor himself, the editor, proofreaders, etc. Already a bunch of solvers are remarking publicly on how it doesn't work. We saw it instantly—how do the people making these things not see it? The *&$^ing complacency of this old boys' network, I swear to *&$^! Hey, fellas, you have confused STOP DROP AND ROLL (which you do after you are already on fire) with DUCK AND COVER, which is what you do "to get ready" for, let's say, a nuclear attack.

So the theme is DOA. There's not much reason to go on about it, but I will say it's not that interesting to begin with, in that it puts all the theme "interest" in the clue, and the answers just end up being pretty tortured examples. The LEATHER in LEATHER WALLET is a million percent arbitrary. And then the grid today, again, is just chop chop choppy, with lots of unfortunate short stuff, and almost nothing of note in the longer answers. The one answer that actually *tries* to be of note is WAVESKI, which is ... I don't know. Not interesting to me at all. Not even known to me. If you want to be original, why not do it ... in some more satisfying way. "Oh, some arcane 'sport' ... how fun!" Bleh.

IN IT, CAB IT, RAP AT, OCTANT ... where is the good here? The NYT's themed puzzles really, really should not be this miserably mediocre. LAI BAHAI KAUAI goodbye.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:06 AM  

Any regulars here who didn't figure that Rex would despise this effort, please raise your hand. Seeing none, let's move on.

I kinda liked it, but I just do 'em for fun.

Runs with Scissors 12:07 AM  

This was over pretty quickly. All of it was fun to write in; my inner 13-year-old kinda chortled as the BOOBS fell.

Does the wallet have to be leather? Asking for a PETA friend.

Two BROADWAY tickets would mean I’d have to go to New York. There ain’t a show worth that.

Living in the southern portion of the western part of the middle nation of the northern piece of the Americas as I do, the STOP DROP AND ROLL was easy to get, BUT - STOP DROP AND ROLL is in the aftermath of that massive, raging, moron-induced fire in the hills and not in the getting ready. But that’s just a nit. It still worked for me.

When I had my ALL WHEEL DRIVE CJ-5, I could go almost anywhere. It was too expensive to maintain. Now I use a mountain bike for that.

Fun little theme-ish thingiewhopper there.

ERATO. Know this from crosswords, and that’s about it.

COLICKY babies next to you on the airplane (or train, or any other conveyance), or even on the JETWAYS, can make you ICY. There’s a reason I don’t use public transportation.

We took a family vacation to KAUAI for a week. I rented a car, and used exactly one tank of gas the whole week. The island ain’t that big. Waimea Canyon – also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific - was worth seeing, though.

I’ve never gone swimming in the INDUS.

The WAVESKI – Coming to a Polish stadium near you.

KIRIN is kinda tasty, but doesn’t stand up to an IPA.

Fun puzzle. No dreck.

Mark, in Mickey’s North 40

Anonymous 12:11 AM  

Great fun! Especially liked the old stop, drop, and roll. Cab it is kind of a stretch but really, no junk.

puzzlehoarder 12:37 AM  

Much closer to Tuesday time than Wednesday. Those first two blocks were very easy to get into. From the first half of the 19A theme I had no idea where it was going or what LEATHER could have to do with ones. The solve just randomly followed the path of least resistance through the early week fill.

50A was the first theme to go in. No idea of what it had to do with the theme. Next was 43A. I had so many downs already I just filled it in without reading the clue.

With BROADWAY in place at 24A TICKETS crossed my mind but I let the fill put in a few crosses before that went in. Still no idea on the theme.

When WALLET went in it finally dawned on me what the theme was. This puzzle is a perfect example of why I used to think only Thursday and Sunday puzzles consistently had themes. With most early week fare you can just burn through the fill without noticing a theme and I wouldn't.

Footfleet 1:12 AM  

The center north area killed me. I was stuck thinking it was WAGESWAR and couldn't imagine what would replace RUNWAYS if AVEC was correct.

Agreed that the third themer was utter nonsense. I wrote it in fairly early on but was sure it would end up being wrong because it didn't make any sense.

albatross shell 2:13 AM  

Yesterday I wrote about the puzzle,but inadvertently dumped it, and had no time for a redo. It included something like:

Yesterday I mentioned HI TIT, today it's
A TIT. Will the streak continue?

It has kinda. BOOBS nicely paired with Rubes. And there was a MOONS yesterday, but we can't count everything. Maybe tomorrow a titular head?

This puzzle had a ton of ins and its, but I'll give it papal dispensation for having BOOBS and RUBEs.

jae 2:28 AM  

Easy-medium. Pretty smooth @Joaquin I kinda liked it too, but @Footfleet STOP DROP AND ROLL didn’t make much sense.

Speaking of Korean surnames “Kim’s Convenience” currently available on Netflix is worth a look.

Outside The Box 2:59 AM  

Love the potential for “Blue Suede Shoes.”

But why show us Elvis? The song was written and performed (dozens of times) by Carl Perkins, who wrote the lyrics on a brown paper bag after a night out with Johnny Cash.

Perkins gave Sam Phillips of Sun Records his first smash hit, and the song topped 3 different charts at the same time-a first.

Yet Presley is always mistakenly given credit for the song.

chefwen 3:32 AM  

Nice to see my little corner of paradise again at 55A, also fun to see CAB IT followed by UBER.
Did a HUH at 43A, I guess that’s something you have to learn and get ready for, just in case. So Im buying into that now that I’ve thought about it.

I also raised an eyebrow over ALL WHEEL DRIVE, I’ve always heard four wheel drive, so I Googled it after the fact and it is in the lingo. I know a little more than @Nancy about cars, but not by much.

Franck Hanselman 4:29 AM  


Anonymous 4:40 AM  

While I agree that stop, drop and roll doesn't exactly fit, duck and cover doesn't fit at all because it's only two things. Perhaps ready, set, go? I guess then the answer is in the clue...and on your marks is too long...okay, so stop, drop and roll isn't looking so bad in hindsight.

Anonymous 4:47 AM  

Whoops, after rereading I see you weren't advocating duck and cover as a better answer, apologies.

Brookboy 5:32 AM  

Puzzle was OK, nothing to write home about. I rarely agree with Rex, but this time I do. Stop, drop and roll didn’t make any sense to me when I finally got it, and it still doesn’t make any sense to me.

If you’ve never seen a Broadway show, you owe it to yourself to try to get to one. For me, a rousing Broadway musical is on a par with a stirring philharmonic performance. It always stirs my emotions when a symphony orchestra enters the hall, begins tuning up, and then, when the conductor enters, becomes a team of dedicated musicians (is there a higher calling?) from whom those extraordinary sounds flow. In those few moments we are treated to observing individual musicians issuing random notes transform into a body that produces such wondrous sounds that can and do reach into our very souls.

I admit that there really isn’t anything quite the equal of a good symphony orchestra, but I do think that some Broadway musicals come close. One of my favorite Broadway shows is Chicago. I’ve seen it at least five times, four times on Broadway and once in London. I am always impressed, happy and more than a little amazed that there are so many humans who spend significant money and time learning and honing their stage talents in order to endure cattle calls when they are not working as bartenders and waiters. Through this difficult winnowing process, the best (usually) are selected to be singers and dancers in such a show as Chicago. If you are lucky enough to have a seat near the stage, you will see the effort and the sweat and the spittle that fly every night, six nights a week and two matinees, all for our entertainment.

Between the New York Philharmonic and all the Broadway shows and all the Off-Broadway shows, New York City is truly worth a visit. (Just don’t forget to bring a suitcase full of cash.)

Dr. Gary Johnson 5:40 AM  

If you STOP DROP AND ROLL before you catch fire you will not catch fire at all. This is basic fire safety practice.

Lewis 6:00 AM  

Hah! As soon as I saw [One to get ready] I lit up with a smile, thinking, "Great theme!" Put me in a bouncy mood right from the start, echoing Monday's HIT IT! theme. The theme answers were spot on and all brought me very nice "Aha!"s because try as I might, I couldn't guess them in advance. Part of a puzzle is the nitty gritty details, and part is the feeling it gives you, and the latter was so bright and cheerful, I didn't even think to look for nits. And now that I just have, I don't have any! Well, the cluing was a little easy for Wednesday, but I don't care! I got me a great ear worm that's going to propel me through the day.

Lewis 6:04 AM  

@rex -- Regarding STOP DROP AND ROLL, I'm with @Chefwen. It's something kids are taught to get ready for a future emergency. The phrase has a bounce to it so that kids will remember it and be prepared should the unfortunate event ever happen up the road. The answer, by the way, came from Shortz & Company, who didn't like Alex's original answer (see his notes on Xwordinfo), and he gave his permission for that answer to be used.

Matthew G. 6:24 AM  

CAB IT is definitely something we New Yorkers say, usually after a long night when trying to rationalize the cost instead of a long subway ride. But I have no idea if the phrase is in the language anywhere else.

Anonymous 6:55 AM  

I was in a bad mood before this puzzle started, because in the national (?) edition of the NY Times this puzzle was printed right on the paper's natural fold, in my copy at 43A. For a long time the international or at least European, edition of the puzzle was printed on the fold as well, which is especially complicated if one is solving while sitting in an outdoor cafe. Also, the Sunday KenKen puzzles are published right next to the answers to one of the puzzles a few pages earlier. Is anyone at the NY Times paying attention?

Anon. i.e. Poggius

QuasiMojo 6:59 AM  

Never heard the expression “Stop Drop and Roll.” I guess I had a deprived childhood. I remember “Stop Look and Listen” which I still use everyday after having been hit while stepping off a curb once by someone in a UTE making a right turn without doing any of the three things. I filled in the grid, smiled at MOJO, winced at ANAIS (queen of crosswordese) and raced through to the end. No complaints. Except with myself. I can never remember how to spell OCHER.

@BrookBoy, I agree about symphonies, musicals and the like. I would add the Opera. The Met now has a policy offering tickets for $25 on the day of the show. That’s a steal compared to Broadway shows and very often a better evening in the theater.

Karl Grouch 7:00 AM  

I find myself agreeing with Rex a lot lately.

Sign of the ny times or am losing my Sharpness?

In any case, way too many PROPER nouns in this puz:

The Gram brothers, Jessica Cabit, Deborah Kett, Kauai Leonard, Erik Sate, Piotr Kolicky and Tadeusz Waveski, Abet and Costello, Fidelis Castro,
you NAME it..

Hungry Mother 7:08 AM  

Seemed slower than it was, as I struggled with some easy stuff. Nice cluing and a worthy challenge.

H. Mann 7:09 AM  

I also found STOP DROP AND ROLL to be a problem, but for a different reason than the one I've read here.

The other three theme answers are things (I think we used to call them "noun phrases" before STEM took over the schools), while 43A comprises a sequence of actions (what we used to call verbs, if I recall correctly).

This seems inconsistent to me (I suspect a STEM curriculum would return an error message here).

kitshef 7:22 AM  

Odd theme. I wouldn’t want something like that every day, but as a change of pace I liked it.

I do believe KAUAI is the hardest-to-spell five-letter word/name there is.


With WAVES_I in place, plus the C from COLICKY, I’d have bet (and lost) the farm that missing letter would be an H.

Am I really the only one who had to practice STOP, DROP AND ROLL to be prepared for the day when I would need it?

Joe Dipinto 7:24 AM  

Vould you like to have a roll in ze hay? It's fun! Roll, roll...

I have to agree with Rex that STOP, DROP AND ROLL doesn't really cut it -- even if, as @Lewis and @Dr. Gary Johnson suggest, it's something you can practice (i.e. get ready) for when you might need to do it. Jeff Chen at X-Word Info offers the perfect 15-letter answer for "three to get ready"; unfortunately, it would be unprintable.

The constructor feels badly about the clue for OPHELIA. I hope he realizes she's a fictional character.

Additional playlist: "Three To Get Ready" by Dave Brubeck. "Everybody Ought To Have A Maid" from "...Forum". "Martha My Dear" by the Beatles. "You're So Vine" by Carly Simon. And most importantly: "Don't Smoke In Bed" by Nina Simone.

ghthree 7:29 AM  

If 43 Across had been clued
"Three to put flames out" it would have
1: been functionally accurate, and
2: scanned beautifully.

Of course, it wouldn't have had anything to do with either Elvis Presley
or Blue Suede Shoes. But since neither of these was mentioned anywhere else in the puzzle, that doesn't seem a big fault.

That said, I'll now follow Lewis's suggestion. (PAUSE)
OK, I get the point. But since I'm not a big Elvis fan, and never heard of "Blue Suede Shoes," I still don't consider the clue as given a big fault. My wife Jane and I solve on paper over breakfast, and she got the answer even without knowing what it meant. I guessed (wrongly) that it was a military term. We both enjoyed it. Reasonable Wednesday.

OffTheGrid 7:29 AM  

@albatross shell. Please keep us abreast of your observations. Can you, please?

70 in nampa 7:35 AM  

"Dreck" comes to mind...
Oddly unsatisying solve. Monday easy.

Birchbark 7:44 AM  

@kitshef (7:22), very good rescue of STOP DROP AND ROLL. The action is after-the-fact, but the phrase itself is practically synonymous with getting ready. We hear it over and over, and so are prepared if need be.

A nice example of the technique is found in the Jack Black film, "Nacho Libre," after his "I smell cookies" observation. Of course, he runs around in a panic first but eventually gets it right.

Suzie Q 7:51 AM  

This one had a strange vibe for me. Most of it seemed just a little off the mark.
Leather wallet was so odd that I was certain there was some sort of wordplay that would justify it. But, no.
Stop, drop, and roll is not getting ready. You do that after you are already on fire. If you do it before you are blazing you look sort of crazy, don't you. Sadly I always think of Richard Pryor when I see the phrase.
I was disappointed today. All the way to the finish I looked for something more interesting to tie all of this weirdness together.

LaurieG in Connecticut 7:52 AM  

Amen. If I were still commuting to NYC (where I did my xword every single weekday), this would have made me livid and unpopular with seatmates as the effort to fold the paper would have taken twice as long. As it was I am still PO'd.

pabloinnh 8:02 AM  

Jeez, "I guess this is a counting rhyme?". Way to start the day feeling ancient, since this is something we said as kids to start lots and lots of games. Is this regional (way upstate NY)?I assume games start today with kids assembling in front of a screen, no silly rhymes needed.

Thought this was fine, but like @Joaquin, I'm in it for the fun.

Thanks AE-S. Good way to start my day.

mmorgan 8:17 AM  

It all just felt a bit off to me, though I finished it rather quickly (with a lucky guess for KAUAI, which was unknown to me, and INDUS, which I kinda sorta knew). STOP DROP AND ROLL was completely unknown to me and I assumed it had to be wrong. The LEATHER WALLET felt like green paint and BROADWAY TICKETS bothered me because, well, why does it have to be two? Why not one or five or whatever?

After reading the constructor’s notes on Xwordinfo, I think I would have liked the original version much more.

GILL I. 8:17 AM  

KIN KIM ANA ADA ADS. What a nice little boring puzzle.
Let's see....what did I like. Not much. Although I'm thinking that if I win the lottery, I'd fly to NYC and buy BROADWAY TICKETS for The Book of Mormon. I'd stay at the Baccarat Hotel. I'd eat at Jean George but its housed in the Trump Tower so I'd opt for Per Se. A girl can dream.
I must have been deprived as well since STOP DROP AND ROLL is new for moi. I guess my parents and my teachers never thought I'd catch on fire. Is that good?
ALL WHEEL DRIVE? No sparkle. COLICKY....Sad thoughts; poor suffering child. BOOBS and RUBEs. And so it went.
So HIS is a casual greeting?

MichGirl 8:52 AM  

THANK YOU! It might seem like a small thing but this sucked the joy out of my morning solve. I can only assume it was done by someone who's never done a crossword puzzle in a coffee shop.

Canon Chasuble 8:54 AM  

14a was a terrific clue, because both the clue itself AND the answer were across the Pyrenees from each other.

And having the Times print its puzzle as it did (as anonymous pointed out) made it Awkward to do on the train.

Fountains of Golden Fluids 9:08 AM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

RooMonster 9:09 AM  

Hey All !
YesterPuz's comment was wiped out by an ill-timed phone refresh. Let's see what happens today.

Well, Rex had been off his rocker these past two puzs. Especially this one. Who gives a flying fig that STOP DROP AND ROLL isn't the "correct" Three to Get Ready. Who's to say it isn't? I think it works fine.

His criticism s of choppy grids, short fill, is really getting tiresome. Find one of Rex's themed puzs and guess what, it'll probably be choppy, -ese-y, and contain short fill!

Anyway, I thought this (and YesterPuz) were good. This was a clever clues-theme idea.

Puzs are minor distractors from the daily grind that (supposedly) gives you joy for a limited amount of time before (or after) work ruins your day. If every puz pisses you off, time to stop doing them.


Nancy 9:15 AM  

I have a question for everyone who solves on paper: Was the most puzzling thing about this puzzle how to fold the damn thing so you could write on it? Normally the entire puzzle is below the fold; today it was 1/3 above and 2/3 below. It took me longer to fold the damn thing than to solve it.

As for the puzzle itself: This is what happens when the need for a theme is mandated for five out of seven days a week. There are only so many good theme ideas in the world. Many more will be weak ideas. Today's theme is an eloquent argument for more themeless days per week to be allowed.

It reminds me of the critique of a newspaper columnist many years ago: "[X] didn't have an idea for a column today, but he wrote it anyway."

Also, re 43A -- What exactly are we getting ready for? The only time I've heard of the instruction to STOP, DROP AND ROLL is when you're on fire. Sure hope that's not the case here.

Very meh.

Z 9:24 AM  

@Outside the Box - “Cover versions better than the original” is an entire genre out there. Carl Perkins may have been a better musician and song writer than Elvis. But only Elvis was Elvis.

@Poggius/anon6:55 - A true WTF moment. I just hope whoever laid out the page is a rookie who is being soundly corrected and will never make this mistake again.

@Karl Grouch - Nice. I enjoyed your PPP candidates.

@H. Mann - Yep. Once again Shortz er alii failed at “One of these things is not like the others.”

HI’S? Seriously? Sure, the broken theme is a much worse faux pas, but going plural greeting over singular possessive pronoun just rankled. I was ired by that cluing choice.

Had a writeover at “Be decisive.” I’m almost positive that I just saw that clue elsewhere for “acT.”

@defenders of STOP DROP AND ROLL - Okay, not “wrong.” It still doesn’t work. That is such a stretch that the rubber-band snapped.

Manny 9:25 AM  

having "WAGES WAR" damn murdered my time

Nancy 9:44 AM  

AHA! I see that @Poggius (6:55) and @MichGirl (8:52) had the same problem with the damn fold as I did! And they had it earlier this morning. But I will point out that you don't have to be in a coffee shop to struggle with the damn fold. I was at home. It is guaranteed to be a problem in any and every venue.

gfrpeace 9:52 AM  

I notice an anonymous person has already complained about it being printed on the fold. Annoying. If I counted my times like Rex, and solved as fast, the amount of time spent folding in order to get started would have about doubled the time.

Just for the record I am playing the ERATO Suite from the Musicalischer Parnassus of Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer at a fringe event of the Boston Early Music Festival next month, on triple-fretted clavichord. Seeing it made me happy, and reminded me that I sould be practicing, and not wasting my time on crud like this. It did, however, have the educational value of causing me to get out my globe and confirm that the INDUS river is not in India, but entirely in Pakistan.

BarbieBarbie 9:53 AM  

Yep, leather wallet is green paint and s d & r is a verb command to a person on fire, not something to do to get ready (practicing just does not count, sorry, unless the clue makes that clear). If you get ready by rollingyourself up in a rug you can't run, so how ready is that?? This puzzle was OK but the clues were subpar. Bad week so far.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Here in NM the grid was bisected by the fold. A first for the Times, and something even our little local paper tries to avoid, except on Sunday.
JE in Rio Rancho

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Well, why else would anyone “do ‘em”?

JeffE 10:09 AM  

Rex, have you tried a new hobby? Perhaps gardening

Tom R 10:14 AM  

Rex, what do you mean, let Baha'i go? I'm a Baha'i and its nice to see it in a puzzle. Admittedly, its a very lame clue but that doesn't mean you should drop the word. Any constructors who need a clue, let me know -

RooMonster 10:29 AM  

@Runs with Scissors
Har. Great minds, and all that.
I actually thought I was reading myself when you first started posting. We are eerily similar in our vernacular.
Not that that's a bad thing. :-)


pabloinnh 10:30 AM  

@Nancy and other solvers on paper experiencing difficulties--

My solution to this is to open my laptop, get the puzzle up, print it, retrieve it from the printer, fold up my laptop, and put the puzzle printed on paper on top and away I go. Works nicely, and no folding required.

Glad I didn't see the actual newspaper version of this one, as it sounds like a real pain in the culo.

Newboy 10:41 AM  

Seemed Monday level difficulty here out in the Idaho wilds. Didn’t share the chagrin against STOP, DROP Rex & many others expressed. Since I enjoy almost any puzzle, I was pleased by Jeff Chen’s laudatory comments on xwordinfo. His reaction was a nice counterbalance to Rex and his get ready triad was a wonderful (if unacceptable) answer suggestion that made my morning.

Joaquin 10:43 AM  

Anonymous @ 10:08 - I assume your question is directed to me. And I agree - most of us "do 'em" for fun. But why does Rex? He seems to get no joy from 90% of all the puzzles he reviews. Strikes me as a bum way to go through life, blogging about something you dislike.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

Even when I finished today's puzzle, I didn't get it. For that reason, I sadly agree with Rex's appraisal. I write "sadly" because I do the NYT puzzle solely for enjoyment -- not to critique the skill of the puzzle maker. But in this case because the enjoyment was nil, I feel the need to say so.

With regrets,


jb129 11:05 AM  

I'm never fond of this constructor's puzzles, but this one? I don't know how it got published.

jb129 11:20 AM  

and yes, the damn fold annoyed me too - are we all getting crabbier?

Emil 11:23 AM  

Stop, drop, and roll. How some get ready for a rave?

Tim Aurthur 11:26 AM  

I'm delighted to see there's a new POP SENSATION post after 6 months of silence. I like the humor there more than here, but that's probably a function of the greater ridiculousness of the subject matter.

Uncle Alvarez 11:31 AM  

Now that’s comedy!

Unknown 11:39 AM  

First, if you don't build them don't complain about them. enjoy these puzzles for what they are. Kvetching about them all the time seems jaded to me.
Second, I had heard about these duck and cover videos but never realized how much fear was a component of daily life back then. But then again so it is now with different fears being foisted upon us by our leaders. Truly the song remains the same...
Somehow the preview shows anonymous. Don't know why.

Unknown 11:41 AM  

I'm used to seeing antagonistic comments on this blog whenever Rex is negative about a puzzle. I agree he's sometimes a bit cynical, but I don't get the argument of "You should spend your time doing something else." From people who are spending their time reading someone else's personal crossword blog and commenting on it. Disagree, sure, but when you tell hm he shouldn't even be expressing his opinions, you just sound silly.

But anyway, to back Rex up, this was the first NYT puzzle in a while where my wife and I both independently thought the puzzle was substandard and the theme made no sense. If anything, Rex's "duck and cover" theory is the most insightful proposal I've seen as to how that third entry made it through postproduction.

Just because you enjoy crosswords doesn't mean it's impossible that some of them might be worse than others. This one definitely was.

David 11:47 AM  

Only rubes don't know Uber wages war on their "independent contractors'" wages, driving them into debt slavery. I'm surprised they don't have to buy gas at Uber stations. Talk about loading sixteen tons (folks who used to start games with this rhyme will get the reference).

Stop Drop and Roll is how you get ready for the paramedics and the burn unit, so it works for me.

Had "Skyways" and for the longest time was thinking of "con" as either a convict or a con game. Dang foreign words. And really, has anyone ever rapped at a door? How do you even do that? I always rap on them, it's much more efficient.

Come to think of it, probably every romcom has a scene where the lovesick guy stands outside a door rapping at it, then sighing and walking away. Will she have been watching through the peephole and open it before he gets to the elevator? Guess.

"Wanna cab it?" is something I've heard so often in my life it just dropped right in without any thought at all.

And, by the way, Martha Washington died 217 years ago on May 22.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

For those wanting Elvis to return, the grammarist says:
"One for the money, two for the show is half of a rhyme used as a countdown to begin a task. The entire rhyme is: one for the money, two for the show, three to make ready and four to go. Children have used this little poem since the mid-1800s as a countdown to starting a race or competition."

It's deader than Elvis, or Perkins.

Tim Aurthur 11:50 AM  

Since Ophelia is already in the puzzle, I wish MAID had been clued with reference to Hamlet rather than Hyatt.

Sgreennyc 12:00 PM  

Rex. Is there no end to your Shortz-envy?

Aketi 12:32 PM  

@RooMonster, there literally is a company that combined BOOB and UBER to make BOOBER. It’s literally one woman with a phone number that promises to hook parents up with a lactation consultant the next day. Unfortunately she charges the lactation consultants a 30% commission so while the service is popular with parents, lactation consultants hate it. I’m sure the taxi drivers in NYC who paid for overpriced Medallions feel the same way about UBER.

Emily 12:49 PM  

Thank you for pointing out my family’s biggest pet peeve! We do the spelling bee together but we have to make sure to fold the magazine quickly first and NOT to do the Ken Ken earlier so as not to see the answers. Hello is anyone awake at NY Times? It’s the only reason we even suscribe to the hard copy on Sunday any more!

Teedmn 1:10 PM  

Like so many Alex Eaton-Salners puzzles, I found this a bit TAR-ish. I'm not sure why; I didn't have a lot of write-overs. MAKES WAR started out as tAKES aim. And 34A was acT before OPT. So what was the big hold-up?

A better answer for 43A, albeit a 17-letter answer, would be STOP, Look and Listen. However, I splatzed the whole thing in just off STOPD so STOP, DROP AND ROLL couldn't have been so unreasonable to my brain.

I had a little tehee at 57A, realizing that just because ELMO is red all over doesn't change the fact that he has a red head. (I was looking for OPIE there, not really kids' TV).

Part of a musical note is, maybe, an overtone? Ah, the actual on-the-staff note has a STEM. Just like a rose or a pipe or a certain educational sySTEM.

Thanks, AES, you "go cat go".

Bax'N'Nex 1:11 PM  

You think Rex does ‘e-mail for fun??

Bax'N'Nex 1:12 PM  

You think Rex does ‘em for fun??? Pretty miserable, seems to me

Masked and Anonymous 1:41 PM  

Well … It's one for the money
Two for the show
Three to snuff fires
Now go, cat, go.

I'm here kinda late, due to takin the M&A road rocket to the local auto-garage for repairs this mornin. Did not involve the FOURWHEELDRIVE. And, got off cheap -- easy on the old LEATHERWALLET.
Anyhoo …
Looks like about everything has already been real well-covered here, except for a little dab of cleanup …

* Nice central weeject Across row. Scores a rare center puzgrid black square, too boot.

* staff weeject pick: IRA. Three letters for the money, if U will.

* CABIT and UBER was a cool pair.

* CANTWIN with @RP, on the short stuff: Had an average word length today of 4.92, which is prexactly the WedPuz overall NYTPuz average. And the puz gets a "chop chop choppy" & "lots of unfortunate short stuff" homage.

Thanx, Mr. E-S. I liked it.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Joe Dipinto 1:45 PM  

Was the paper really that hard to manage? I just folded it in half vertically, then folded the top under about 1/3 of the way down, then folded the bottom up under at the KenKen border. Worked perfectly well.

Rainbow 1:50 PM  

I have decided to give up my work with the homeless, abused animals, and hunger so I can devote all my time to the newspaper fold atrocity.

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

Ah, the ad hominem attacks on the fold complainers!!! Thing is, if you use a fountain pen or some gel pens, you really, really need a flat surface to avoid random cobweb artefacts. Sensitive pens for sensitive snowflakes. Have a little merci on us. Every other paper's puzzle does, in my experience. The Failing New York Times shows, yet again, that it has no clue.

Ben 2:28 PM  

I was a big fan of ADA crossing a Lord Byron clue, and was kind of surprised Rex didn't point it out -- ADA Lovelace (not the Nabokov character) was, of course, a founder of Computer Science, the namesake of the ADA programming language, and Lord Byron's daughter! What a fun little Easter egg in an otherwise unremarkable puzzle.

jb129 2:41 PM  

Emily @ 12:49

We the LOVE LOVE LOVE the "Spelling Bee (Frank Longo?) in Sundays's Times - even more than the puzzles. Wish they would publish in daily.

I'm not constructor - nor could I ever be - so I rarely post negatively. Sorry....

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

Did any of you experience what we commuting cruciverbalists had to suffer this morning in Seattle? The puzzle, for reasons known only to God, straddled the fold and sat atop the Ken Ken which could easily have been placed above the fold.

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

sooooo funny to use a phrase that indicates someone has caught fire and needs to smother the flames as his skin begins to burn. funny. not

webwinger 4:15 PM  

Not thrilled but not highly negative in my response to today’s puzzle. Easier than average Wednesday.

Not having lived recently in a wildfire-prone area (though Chicago has certainly had its share of conflagrations in the distant past), STOP DROP AND ROLL was new to me. Filled it in from crosses but had to google to get the meaning and significance. I’m inclined to agree with those who see it as an advance warning, and so appropriately clued. But I give it the ROY G BIV award for useless mnemonic—how does the full advisory help more than just knowing you should roll on the ground if you find yourself aflame?

I’m in NYC now on a short vacation, replete with BROADWAY TICKETS—delightful Avenue Q (nearing the end of its long run) on Monday, not-so-hot-despite-starring-Nathan-Lane Gary (“a sequel to Titus Andronicus”) yesterday, and tonight looking forward to Fiddler on the Roof performed in Yiddish, which I don’t speak but understand there will be supertitles a la opera in foreign tongues, and the idea of it is enormously appealing.

OffTheGrid 4:16 PM  

Are you people serious about your paper fold complaints? Cause it sounds so petty and vacuous.

Anonymous 4:26 PM  

Stop, drop, and roll is what kids are--or used to be--taught to do in case their clothes caught on fire. Is it really that out of date?

The puzzle was easy, but I enjoyed it.

Joe Dipinto 4:45 PM  

@Anonymous 3:11 -- Why, no -- that's very strange. No one else here had thatproblem.

JC66 5:10 PM  

@Joe D

Good one!

Roseanne Roseannadanna 5:29 PM  

"A Mr. Richard Feder of Fort Lee, New Jersey, wrote in to say 'Hey! Roseanne! Today when I got the Times, I couldn't find the puzzle anywhere cause guess what they put it in the middle of the page! Then I had to fold it all different, and it got all wrinkled so I had to iron it. Why they gotta do stuff like that? And then it had a stupid theme that didn't make any sense. Is it too much to ask Will Shortz to put the puzzle back?'"

Paul Statt 10:43 PM  

That was deeply annoying. Thanks for commenting on it

Runs with Scissors 10:57 PM  


Great minds, yes!

Someone has to maintain a modicum of lightheartedness 'round these parts. Might as well be us. :-)

Mark, in Mickey's North 40

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Is "make war" a thing people say? I know there's "make love, not war," but make war??? "In 1939, Germany made war against Poland." Clunk!

I put in WAGES WAR. The G had The misfortune to cross an unheard-of comic character, and the W literally killed my MOJO!

Unknown 5:34 PM  

So where does your “very, very old” horizon begin - 1998? Whadda putz.

Yam Erez 3:02 PM  

Mojo is vibes, e.g., Sending you winning mojo! Moxie, however, is confidence.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

I didn't see anyone else note it, but the clue for 50 Down is wrong. The headquarters of Audi is not in Bavaria (that is BMW). Audi HQ is in Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony.

Burma Shave 10:11 AM  


she’ll OPT to show BOOBS in the RAW,
no LAI, she just CAN’TLOSE ABET.


spacecraft 10:19 AM  

I too thought the third leg of this theme didn't work, until I was reminded of the drills we used to do in, of all places, gym class. Part of How To Fall Without Hurting Yourself. Yeah, we had a very practical gym teacher. So in that sense, it works.

The rest does too, so I'm inclined to give thumbs-up to the theme, stopping short of "CANTLOSE." Nor do I think the fill is as bad as OFC opines. CABIT is a stretch, and so easily fixed with CABIN/ENS, but I suspect that looked too dull to our hyphenated constructor.

[aside] What is with that? Mr. Smith marries Ms. Jones, so now they're Smith-Jones. Over here, Mr. Johnson marries Ms. Williams, so now they're the Johnson-Williamses. What if their kids marry? Will they be the Smith-Jones-Johnson-Williamses??? Where does it end?

Anyway, I liked it enough to at least give it a par.

Diana,LIW 1:05 PM  

My Cordelia/Othello/OPHELIA ladder slowed, (tho 'tis true I'm never in any kind of a rush or timing), me down a bit.

Clever enuf - as I've oft mentioned, I'm Gobsmacked by anyone who can construct one of these creatures.

'Tis lovely here right now. But all the weathermongers warn that thunderstorms are coming our way today. I do not like those lightning thingies, nae nae.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, but not the upcoming storms 'Praps I'll CAB IT out of town. I used to live in NYC, and shall have to listen for that parlance next time I'm in the big city.

rondo 2:34 PM  

Well, I had only ever heard the being-on-fire version of STOPDROPANDROLL, so I was not getting that one at all. Have not read other comments but LEATTHERWALLET has to be classic green paint; I actually put GP in the margin.

This puz has OAR ORA AURA IRA ADA ANA ANAIS the KAUAI BAHAI LAI trio OFL mentioned and the UBER/OVER (do we know our German?) INIT, unstellar yet acceptable, as is this use of TAR, indeed sticky stuff.

Imagine an eastern European guy pointing at the sea when the surf’s up: “WAVESKI!”

CANTLOSE with NINA Simone as yeah baby.

This RUBE would love to see a PB1 puz soon.

rondo 3:08 PM  

@D,LIW - a few of the local radio personalities in the Twin Cities call the TV weatherfolks here "weather terrorists". You can only imagine how they go on about the MN winter. But last night the chucklehead with the perma-grin on channel 4 was warning us about how it was going to be 90 degrees for a few days (finally!) and basically telling us not to go outdoors or we're all gonna die. What a RUBE!

Anyway, I'm vacating to Chicago for 10 days or so, so my comments may be few and far between for a time.

rainforest 3:36 PM  

So, there are earthquakes, nuclear attacks, fires, and possibly other threats you might have to be prepared (ready) for (sniper fire, water balloons, sassy kids). You must be able to select the appropriate readiness for each, or else just use one for all, to save time. STOP DROP AND ROLL is as good as any, I figure. Certainly nothing to blow a gasket over. By the way, if you blow a gasket, STOP DROP AND ROLL, I say. Har.

@rondo - please tell me that TAR is sticky.

Anyway, I sorta liked this puzzle. Neatish theme, some newer words (COLICKY, APPLAUD, OCTANT, maybe WAVE SKI), evidence of crossword competence, stupid rant by Parker. What more could one ask for?

Diana,LIW 5:29 PM  

@Rondo - have a great time in Chi Town.

We had lovely weather in Roma, but now - when our neighbors are there! - it's in the high 90s to low 100s. Lots of gelato eating. I never did get to watch the European Weather spellcasters. But I may have to STOP/DROP/ROLL my way under the waterbed today if the lightning strikes close by. I do believe I was a collie in a previous life. Timmy's in the well, and I'm jumping in too!

Lady Di of SyndieCatLand

leftcoast 5:54 PM  

STOP, DROP and ROLL as part of the theme didn't make much sense, except that it was three of something, but "three to get ready" and Elvis's Blue Suede Shoes don't cut it. There appears to be a consensus about this. Otherwise, I was a pretty good puzzle.,

Anonymous 11:03 PM  

Nice Wednesday puzzle. The theme worked for me. Nothing wrong with leather wallets, or eating meat, if that is what you are into. And nothing wrong with being a vegetarian or having wallets of man-made material as long as you don't force others to do the same. And thank the lord for Uber and Jump Bikes and all the other modern day innovations. Nothing wrong with saving people time and money and filling a niche. And Kauai is such a beautiful, [mostly]green island. Never seen the Indus River though so can't comment on that. Thank you Mr. Eaton-Salners for an enjoyable puzzle solve.

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