Series seen on many planner or pill container / THU 6-20-19 / Friend for un muchacho / Chocolaty spread since 1964 / Maritime hazard

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Easyish (5:15 in early-a.m. / non-speed mode)

THEME: CONSONANT (53A: Something each of this puzzle's answers begins with) — sigh, just what it says. That is it:

Theme answers:
  • all of them
Word of the Day: BEALE Street (31A: Music festival street in Memphis) —
Beale Street is a street in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee, which runs from the Mississippi River to East Street, a distance of approximately 1.8 miles (2.9 km). It is a significant location in the city's history, as well as in the history of the blues. Today, the blues clubs and restaurants that line Beale Street are major tourist attractions in Memphis. Festivals and outdoor concerts periodically bring large crowds to the street and its surrounding areas. (wikipedia)
• • •

Speaking of consonants (and letters notably absent from this grid): Y!!?? As in "Y did you do this?" "Y should anyone be happy to see jumbles of consonants strung all along the western and northern borders of the grid?" "Y did anyone think CONSONANT (tada!?) would be a compelling revealer?" "Y on god's green earth did you extend the conceit Into The Clues, making clue phrasing occasionally stupid and awkward?" So many Ys. I am trying very hard to understand a puzzlemaker sitting there and thinking "What if every answer began with a CONSONANT?" Where does the interest lie in that, exactly? Where's the joy? The wordplay? The Anything related to the reasons puzzles are fun? Sincerely thought, about halfway through, that I was solving a Friday, i.e. a themeless. Then the consonants piled up (NBC, BBQ) and I snapped back to reality: "Oh, there a theme ... some kind of abbr. theme?" Didn't matter. You didn't need to know there was a theme. You didn't need to figure anything out. This is a themeless with a ridiculous constraint most people would never see without the revealer, and most people (don't lie) aren't going to care about. Go ahead and be "impressed with the construction" or whatever, but pffft. It's a mediocre themeless (72 words! It qualifies!), and that's that.

Here's an early sampling of Twitter reaction:

Other reactions include a general consensus that it's an Easy puzzle, and (to be fair) a couple tweets expressing at least mild admiration, though even the person who gave the puzzle a "B" spent most of the tweet telling you the "trick" wasn't worth it:

As a themeless, this was cleanish (minus the obv. xwordy abbr. stuff) and dull. LITMUSTESTS and FIREWALL and STPAULIGIRL are kinda fun, but not enough to be build a quality themeless around. Did the constructor just have SMTWTFS sitting in his wordlist and think "what the hell am I gonna do with that?" and bam, here we are? It's all so bizarre. I probably should've been much faster, but I was lolling, and I kept mistyping and misreading (I'm blaming 5am). Read [Music festival in Memphis], for instance, completely missing the (crucial) "street" part. I had AMIGA at 38A: Friend for un muchacho (CHICA) and SINE (!?!?!) at 34A: Hypotenuse, e.g. (SIDE). Actually, to be honest, my first thought was that the clue at 34-Across, was [Hypnoteuese, e.g.] ... like, a woman who performs hypnosis? Strange. 

Guessed correctly at the [Davis of film] clue (four possible answers there, with BETTE actually being one of the *less* likely answers, but I guessed it anyway) (see also OSSIE, GEENA, VIOLA). Could not figure out what the last letter of PROTOZOA- was supposed to be (16A: Single-celled organism). I find all stock clues exceedingly dull and painful, though I guess I have heard of STOPLOSS (40A: Kind of liability-limiting stock order). Had PHI for PSI briefly (37A: Penultimate letter). Not sure why "Safe" is in quotation marks in 25D: "Safe" kind of film? (HEIST). You've got your "?" to do the work of telling the solver there's wordplay involved. No Need for quot. marks. Strange. Oh, and finally, the clue on RADIO can f&!^ right off (26D: Rush job?). White supremacists do not deserve your cutesy *$&%&ing wordplay (clue is referring to this guy, in case it wasn't clear). Or I guess we can all just pretend the clue refers to this band, heard frequently on the RADIO (esp. in Canada):

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:38 AM  

I have to admit that I was disappointed not to have a typical Thursday tricky trick puzzle, but I already had noticed a few things, fodder, even before I realized there was no wordplay. Letter play, yeah. Kudos to Trenton for pulling this off.

I loved 1A, actually. I resist buying one of those pill thingies in the same spirit I resist buying a reading glasses chain. (I wear one of these at school, and it’s beastly effective.) But every Sunday night, I line up my vitamins and stuff on the window sill in seven piles. Pfft. And M-F I get in the car before 5am and drive the 45 minutes on a country road to school, slow, leaned way forward, both hands squeezing the steering wheel, constantly squinting out the windshield looking for deer. I’m pretty sure my mouth is open. So I guess I’m way in the pill container/reading glasses chain stage of life.

Didn’t realize that a LITMUS TEST was a Question. Maybe more a question and answer journey? You could argue that a breathalyzer is the must-be-lit test.

RESENTS had me pause and stare out. What kinds of things do you resent? Some people resent stuff all the time and make it their job to carry a grudge. Me, not so much. I don’t resent it when people come at me for TMI or writing too much since it’s so easy just to skip my blah-blahing. My style is just not everyone’s cuppa. A couple of things I can't forget, though. I did resent it when someone accused me of being an uppity transplant to WV who looks down my nose at the wonderful people here. And I was also accused of being a teacher who has given up on my students from the get-go; I agonize, cry, toss and turn sick with worry, labor over lesson plans, research, study master teachers on YouTube. . . to manage to forget that one.

Loved the clue for 53A with its stranded preposition. Finally, finally, we’re letting go of this ridiculous idea that you can’t end a sentence with a preposition. Those of you who thrive on the “gotcha game” (read: I just caught you using lay instead of lie so you’re not as smart as I am na na na na na na) probably won't want to consider this article by linguist Geoffrey Pullum, but more open-minded people might give it a quick read. He discusses this “rule” that . . .still wastes the time of authors, editors, writing instructors, examiners, and printers — and squanders paper, ink, and money.

Jokes abound about the [insert stereotype] who saw the sign that said WET paint, so he did.

Jokes abound, too, about all the apt names for people, so I liked the clue for MATT. (Hey, @Monty Boy!). What do you call a guy who has just finished the enormous hole for his transplanted tree? Doug. And his neighbor who didn’t manage to accomplish such a deep hole? Douglas.

Klazzic 6:39 AM  

Rex: The happy pills are in the cabinet. Puzzle was extraordinaire, Quite a feat with SMTWTFS. Never have seen that before. Tres bien!
Had a little problem with CHICA (had amiga) but once I blew that up, it was clear sailing.Magnifique.

mooretep 6:40 AM  

When I saw SMTWTFS, I was pleased.

I liked this puzzle. I like most every puzzle.

The internet is a garden for pessimists.

An easy way to feed ones ego is to trample on the work of others.

Suzie Q 6:42 AM  

I had a pleasant solve noticing some nice vocabulary and not too many proper nouns. Going back to admire the puzzle after the revealer was an extra kick. I won't apologize for being easily amused. I had fun and thought SMTWTFS was a cool way to start. It reminded me of PRNDL.

QuasiMojo 6:47 AM  

I come not to PRAISE this puzzle, but to bury NBC TV. There is no such thing as NBC TV. The network is called NBC.

Bette Davis, "least likely"? It's gonna be a bumpy PAN. (I mostly liked it.)

Why do millennials like NUTELLA so much? Is it because it is so obviously self-indulgent?

ZESTA? Aisle skip it.

TALCS are worth almost as much as QATAR at least in courtrooms lately.

STDS does not pass the breakfast-in-bed test.

Hungry Mother 7:09 AM  

Not bad, once I changed STePLOSS.

amyyanni 7:24 AM  

Re @LMS comments: I generally abhor those snotty advice cliches, e.g., when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Why? Maybe it would make you feel better to go outside and fling those lemons all over. Or give them to a tea drinking person who eats a lot of fish. There is an exception to my rule, however, and that is: Expectations are resentments waiting to happen. This little warning has served me well over the years.
Bette Davis! One of my favorites. "The Petrified Forest" (starring Leslie Howard with big breakthrough for Humphrey Bogart), "Jezebel" and so many more.
Themeless puzzles are fine and that's mostly how I solved this, so the reveal was icing (not really fond of icing, but nevermind).
Have a good day, all.

John H 7:26 AM  

"Safe" because a heist can involve opening a safe. Get it. Although I don't believe that "Heist" qualifies as its own category of film.

I, too enjoyed SMTWTFS. Ands while "consonant" isn't much of a revealer or a theme, I got that very quickly, which made the SE a breeze leading to the solution of 45A.

All in all an easy but mostly enjoyable puzzle.

Christy 7:41 AM  

Oh man this shows the liberal bubble I live in that I never considered Rush could be anyone other than the band. (So much so that I immediately got upset that Rush the band was populated by white supremacists. Thank goodness that’s not true.)

mmorgan 8:02 AM  

I found this very much on the challenging side but I enjoyed it a lot. Many things I didn’t know that I knew gradually filled themselves in, and solving this felt like watching a lovely painting slowly appear and take shape and become whole. I didn’t take CONSONANTS as much as a theme as a kind of, oh, hey, this is a cute feature of this puzzle kind of thing. Liked it!

Joe Dipinto 8:14 AM  

Unfamiliar with Zesta, but that's okay. It must be a minor cracker brand.

Why so peeved about the consonants? It's not a "theme", it's just a little bonus for you to notice after the fact. It's not really gonna help you solve the damn thing. I found this to be a very fine themeless Thursday grid. SOLID as a rock, in the words of Ashford & Simpson.

Kitty 8:15 AM  

Why does alcohol appear in almost every puzzle?

Odd Sock 8:21 AM  

If you didn't like the theme you could at least appreciate that it wasn't one where all of the clues adhere to some restriction like all starting with the letter B or some such thing. The resulting strained
wording of the clues has made for some unpleasant puzzling. We've seen it before and it painful.
So it could have been worse.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

This was a bad puzzle and the constructor should feel bad. It's also a Tuesday puzzle, where most of the bad puzzles live.

OffTheGrid 8:48 AM  

I was fervently hoping that 56A would not be what it is. I can't even type it here. AWFUL!

TJS 8:52 AM  

@Kitty : "Alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all of lifes' problems." Homer Simpson.
Can't understand it when people complain about a puzzle being "too hard for a Wednesday", like yesterday, but I personally hate it when a puzzle is as ridiculously easy as todays. Different strokes, I guess.

WhatDoing 8:58 AM  

Somehow got the revealer clue early on and it absolutely helped in solving the border clues. Nice puzzle and I’m loving the extended break from clues related to that boring game some like to call a sport. (If you can snack while actively playing, it’s a game).

OffTheGrid 9:02 AM  

Two things would have made this a decent puzzle.

1. Run it on Tuesday.

2. Scrap the concept of a theme and clue 53A "not a,e,i,o,u"

RooMonster 9:03 AM  

Hey All !
Didn't notice that All the Clues also start only with CONSONANTS, so thanks for that Rex.
OTOH, Rex points out there's no Y. However, there's also no J or K. Was the no Y purposeful? All the vowels are here. So why no Y? Probably just worked out that way, like no J or K.

Anyway, I got SMTWTFS fairly quickly, and 1) thought it was an odd fill (before knowing theme), and 2) thought Rex's brain would explode about it (again, before the theme). There's also Rex again telling us that we shouldn't be impressed by the feat. Well, it actually is impressive to pull off. Mind you, Abbrs. abound on the Top Row, and First Downs Column, but that seems a forgivable thing once the theme becomes apparent. Plus there's BBQ and MCS, but we've seen these in puzs before, yes?

So a pretty cool Trick puz. Naturally, had my one-letter DNF, SInE/RAnIO, even though I don't know what RANIO is. But that was an obscure clue for RADIO anyway.

Writeovers, amigo-CHICA, NFrTEAM-NFLTEAM ( thinking National Finals Rodeo, nice misdirect.)


RnRGhost 9:06 AM  

The hours drift away . . .

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

Could it be because almost every one drinks it?

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

Will someone please explain simply and clearly why 37 across (Penultimate letter) is “psi”?

Nancy 9:17 AM  

Wow!!! Every answer begins with a CONSONANT!!! What a mind-bending trick!!! What a thrill to finally discover!!!

(I'm sure just about all of you have said something of the sort by now. I'll go back and look as soon as I finish typing.)

But where were you, @GILL when I needed you? This very, very easy Thursday puzzle was made harder than hard for me in one section where I had AMICA instead of CHICA. It never crossed my mind (pun intended) that AMICA could be wrong. And so it sat there, lousing up my ability to see SHOAL, until I got around to putting in enough answers that CLOUDED came in.

Other than that -- the easiest puzzle of the week. It could/should have been switched with yesterday's puzzle or even with Tuesday's. I'd be more disappointed if the rest of the week hadn't been so enjoyable.

QuasiMojo 9:21 AM  

P.S. @Lewis, mega-fine puzzle yesterday by you in the LATX. Keep 'em coming.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

It’s the second to last letter in the Greek alphabet

GILL I. 9:28 AM  

Without even blinking I had ONE WEEK at 1A. Just like that.....The W gave me WET and the K gave me KENOS. Major wrongness. Boy did I stare at that for the longest. So I did what I always do when my very first answer is wrong. I RESENT THE HELL OUT OF THE PUZZLE. When that happens, I have to go out for a walk...Come back and then remember that the Dirty Harry org was SFPD. and then TRON and then TWO LANE and then a loud AHA...Every day of the week. I have one of those weekly pill things. I take a ton of vitamins. Have you seen the size of the Omega and Magnesium pills? Even a horse would have trouble swallowing them.
OK, back to the puzzle. Yeah....I want a fun wordplay Thursday. But then, I'd love to own a green Jag. I didn't find it at all easy, though. Some parts made me smile. Thinking of NUTELLA and how much I can't stand that stuff. Wondering why COBS are cookout discards. Is that the leftover corn? Learning that QATAR is the richest country in the world and not caring one wit. Remembering BEALE Street and thinking about the witch hunts in SALEM. Thinking of RADIO head Rush and knowing OFL would explode but then I get to BETTE Davis and think about her eyes. That upper section was fairly easy...but then I get to the middle. AMIGA. Hooboy you did me in for a very long time. Why couldn't I see CHICA? TALCS had to be right...what ends with CA? Ouch. I'm still wondering where all of this is going. Went on down to the DEN area and that took me the longest. Isn't ST PAULI GIRL a beer that a TOOT wouldn't touch with a long POLE? I'm still scratching my head until I GOT CONSONANT. Ok says I. That's it...goody goody. Hohum.
No real SEISMIC boom emiting from the pie hole.
So I finish and go back and looking at how Trenton constructed this. I know it must've been hard for him. He's got a lot of nice words. I like FAZING and ZEALOTS. I like TOOT crossing NOISE and I love PEWTER.
It's a beautiful day so I'm going out to play by myself. My enormous family is flying in this coming week and they'll expect me to be their companion. At least they are fun. Wedding plans and menu...floating in my head.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Thank you!

Peter P 9:34 AM  

I very much enjoyed this puzzle, but I do tend to agree that Thursday wouldn't have been my first choice as the date to run it on. Time-wise, it finished as a Wednesday (and 3/4 of my usual Thursday time), but feels somewhat between a Tuesday and Wednesday to me in retrospect.

I did get a smile as I finally figured out 1A (of course, I already had 6 of the 7 letters there, so not much to figure out.)

I'm surprised at the comment that BETTE Davis would be the least likely of the three. Maybe in crosswords, but for me, it's either Geena or Bette. I don't even know who Ossie Davis is (but will look it up anon.) Perhaps Bette's name has just been engrained in my head from Madonna's "Vogue" ("Bette Davis, we love you.") Only problem was trying to remember what vowel finished off her name.

Had the same problem putting in amIgA for CHICA initially, but CHICA does fit better, given the colloquial nature of the world "muchacho" in the clue. I had "line" for hypotenuse, then scribbled in "sine," but thought, wait, that doesn't make any sense, a sine is a ratio of the opposite side over the hypotenuse (SOHCAHTOA, kids) and then it clicked, oh, "SIDE"!

So, very enjoyable puzzle again. I've really liked the last two, but perhaps they should have been switched around day-wise (though I did finish yesterday's very slightly faster than today's).

puzzlehoarder 9:35 AM  

This started very easily thanks to 1A being a gimme and all its downs dropping right in. Some subsequent tricky spots slowed things down so the solve wound up being average.

No idea as to the theme until seeing the revealer. Not a very interesting theme but still a decent solve.

Peter P 9:36 AM  

^ Oh, duh, and how can I forget "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes. *smack my head*.

pmdm 9:37 AM  

The penultimate letter of the Greek alphabet is PSI. Not the first time I've seen that clue, and it always bothers me.

I found the puzzle easier than usual for a Thursday puzzle, but I really don't care.

A recent Sunday themeless and now a Thursday themeless (by my rules). I really don't care as long as the puzzles are good.

So far, the comments suggest a positive response to the puzzle, unlike Mike's (who has to copy a few negative responses - to justify his own?). I was very happy with the puzzle (disregarding the day of the week). I hope Mr. Shortz publishes more puzzles like this.

Crimson Devil 9:40 AM  

Great clue SAFE for HEIST.
Also liked SMTWFS, not seen before by moi, and SIXES.

nyc_lo 9:40 AM  

Was cruising toward an average, if not easy, Thursday time, until running aground on the SHOALs of the southwest corner. I guess I should have paid more attention in geometry class for “pyramid” to register as a SOLID. And I had at least 50 percent of the crosses, but my brain refused to see STPAULIGIRL. Just not a beer I’ve ever included in any of my TOOTs (which is just too cute of a word for a really bad life choice that hurts like hell in the morning).

Sgreennyc 9:42 AM  

I read this blog for the readers' comments. Plowing through the witless negativity of its author is becoming a drag, like watching a Trump rally on TV.

Sir Hillary 9:47 AM  

The "theme" is weak, but it's fine as a themeless. Aside from NBCTV, which I believe to be a made-up term, all the CONSONANT-only answers are fine, and SMTWTFS is a lot of fun. Good mix of relatively uncommon letters, perhaps the one upside of the theme. And I noticed the CONSONANT-leading clues not at all, so don't understand the complaints about those.

STPAULIGIRL is a great entry, clued with interesting trivia. I've never drunk it with a ZESTA cracker, probably because I've never heard of a ZESTA cracker.

I was ready to come here and rail on the clue for RADIO because, like some others, all I could think of was the band Rush. What a letdown to realize who the clue was really referring to. It's rare that I feel the same way as @Rex about someone who triggers him but, yeah, Limbaugh can fuck off.

For some reason, many entries struck a musical note with me:
-- "FLORA Songs" is a great EP by The Decemberists.
-- Simon LEBON was a staple on my Walkman in the '80s.
-- BEALE Street, for obvious reasons.
-- LEA Salonga was amazing in "Miss Saigon".
-- MATT Johnson's The The did one of my favorite 80's tunes, "Uncertain Smile". Killer jazzy piano outro from Jools Holland.
-- "ROAM if you want to, ROAM around the world..."
-- Stereo MCS had a very annoying hit called "Connected".
-- Rush (the good kind) on the RADIO.
-- "PRAISE You", an earworm from Fatboy Slim.
-- "Now Muscle SHOALs has got the swampers…"
-- The great Aimee MANN.
-- "BETTE Davis Eyes".

jberg 9:49 AM  

I could see that 1A was going to be the initials of the days of the week -- but where to start? Some calendars start with Monday -- and I didn't remember that Dirty Harry was a SF cop; so I just went on. (also Amoeba was too short, so i left the whole corner alone; fortunately I didn't put in 'car' as a place to play board games! We only played them there or in the dining room, around the table).

Once I got it, I did like SMTWTFS, and once I got the theme it helped a lot with 8A, 24D, etc. Especially the latter, which is more often TBPS. I didn't get it in time to save me from writing in barbecue instead of TEXAS BBQ (which I always thought was a kind of sauce or rub, not a kind of meat, but what do I know?)

@John H, Rex got that -- his point was that it would be better to end the clue with a ? rather than putting "s around safe. I don't necessarily agree, just clarifying what he said.

Just think: if you did this stunt with vowels rather than consonants, the revealer would have to be "a vowel," or (a tougher constraint) "one vowel."

OK, time to go try @Lewis's LAT from yesterday. I was able to print it out this time, but the squares are really tiny -- anyone know a way to fix that?

jberg 9:52 AM  

@Nancy from yesterday -- thanks for the kind words! I have to admit I'm not a big Wagner fan myself -- though ever since seeing Simon Gray's play "Otherwise Engaged" I figure I must be missing something.

P. Kael 9:52 AM  

@John H. 7:26

Surprising though it is, "heist" films do comprise their own category. Two classics from the 1950's, "The Lavender Hill Mob" (1951) and "Rififi" (1955) (the former comedic and the latter dramatic) set the standard and the model for every heist film since - of which there are many - creating a clearly distinguishable genre.

Indeed, there are those who would contend that every heist film since is a remake of those two, distinguished primarily by the relative mix of the comedic and dramatic from the two analogs.

When you have a few spare days, watch in succession "The Lavender Hill Mob," "Rififi," "The Italian Job" (1969 version), "Oceans 11" (both 196o and 2001 versions) and "Logan Lucky" and you'll get a good sense of why heist films are their own genre.

Amelia 10:03 AM  

I have to say that I ran to my computer after doing this ridiculously easy Thursday with a ridiculous theme to see where Rex stood. He didn't disappoint. For once, I agree with him and his Twitterers. Although once, I would like him to use US as evidence. Cmon, Rex. Do it. Use LMS, Nancy, Gill, QuaiMojo, etc. We're cool!

I thought it would be a fun puzzle with 1A, which took me a little bit to get, because I wasn't expecting it. And then it died. The puzzle died. Over and over again. And when the answer was fun, like LITMUS TESTS, the clue was tortured. Decisively indicative questions? Yikes. Sci-Film etc. Four letters? Let me think. Let me think. Star Wars? Alien? If you've done any crossword puzzle in the last 15 years, you know the answer without the rest. Every clue seems to be over-explained. World's richest country wasn't enough? Chocolaty spread had to give you a start date? Dead. Dead. Dead.

I'm with @QuasiMojo. NBCTV? Is MSNBC really MSNBCTV? Or maybe it's MSNBCCABLETV?

The consonant thing was a joke, I'm sure. I can see them all laughing at the paper. Or in Will Shortz' house or at the ping-pong parlor. Bet someone did a Rex impersonation!

Zwhatever 10:09 AM  

Had the top line filled in and said to myself, “well that’s a ‘bold’ choice. Let’s start our puzzle without any actual words.” Themes based on letter-play are somewhere around #97 on my Top Ten List of Favorite Xword Tropes. What next, a puzzle of only Random Roman Numerals? In short, what Rex said.

@amyyanni - I like it. Has a very Zen quality to it.

@anon9:16 - In case you don’t see the @anon9:25 is a reply to your question, PSI is the next to last letter in the Greek Alphabet.

Regarding the vacationing @Lewis’ LATX yesterday - I don’t love word ladders, but that was a very well done twist on the genre.

@Unknown late yesterday - Yep. Sometimes I wonder if the argument is with something not said or meant. My favorite rock artists include R.E.M., who are widely considered to have made consistently better music before they became “major” artists, and Elvis Costello, who will never reach Beyoncé or Dylan levels of cultural saturation.

@LMS - Yeah, I sort of remember that one comment. One of the best models I ever got was the notion of “emotional bank accounts.” Each of us has an emotional bank account. Compliments, successes, good days, things like that are all deposits. Criticisms, failures, mistakes, someone getting mad at you, are all withdrawals. The thing is, every criticism is equal to 10 or 20 compliments. A perfect little explanation why criticisms get stuck in our craw.

Karl Grouch 10:14 AM  

I'm afraid Rex is spot on, once again.

I, too, like my puzzles funny and entertaining, clever and challenging and on Thursdays I must get my fix, a rebus, a nice trick, a good revealer, some oohs and aahs, you know, all the stuff missing from today's experience.

Disappointment is the word, although I realise how hard the construction must have been.
Recognition which doesn't make up for an unexciting but not unpleasant solve.

Joaquin 10:16 AM  

@jberg - Re: fixing the tiny squares. Print the puzzle at 135%. Works for me.

Whatsername 10:16 AM  

@Loren: Read the Pullum article and enjoyed it. It was a good lesson for me as I am one of those people who gets apoplectic over a sentence ended with a preposition. Credit for that level of dedication goes to my high school English teacher, Mrs. Malone, who made quite an impression with the story of Churchill and his impertinent speech writer. In high school I excelled in two areas: English/Literature and business courses. Both of those teachers were wonderful dedicated ladies such as yourself who had a lasting and profound impact on my life. They didn’t just recite knowledge; they taught, and I am eternally grateful. All these years later, I can honestly say that this morning I’m still learning - thanks to a teacher. So remember that on those days when someone else’s expectations threaten to turn into your resentments.

@GILL: I share your horror at the size of some of those supplements, yet I doggedly swallow them for fear I’m missing out on something if I don’t. CHICA made me wonder if you would make any NOISE about that. Ah, the joy of an enormous and fun family! Sounds like a weekend filled with much love and laughter. I wish you sunny skies and bountiful blessings.

Can’t say this was one of my favorites. Every word starting with a consonant seems like a pretty weak basis for a theme. A vowel starting every answer would be much more of a challenge. As someone else said, seems like we swapped Wednesday and Thursday again this week. I certainly don’t share Rex’s opinion that it resembles a Friday although I wholeheartedly agree with him that RL can FO.

Newboy 10:24 AM  

Sigh, indeed Rex is right. Too easy and literal for my Thursday morning, but an impressive feat nonetheless. I vaguely recall a puzzle (maybe just a paragraph?) done without a single E; hard to achieve of course.

Casarussell 10:35 AM  

I'm not as down on this puzzle as others, mainly because the revealer (CONSONANTS) helped me out in the SW corner, which for no particular reason gave me a little trouble.

Growing up a HUGE Rush fan, I would like to pretend with Rex that 26D (Rush job?) was about the Canadian prog-rock band.

Being a native Texan 27A (Smoked beef brisket, pork ribs, etc.) makes me hungry! I think I'll fire up the smoker this weekend!!!!

Speedweeder 10:46 AM  

@Sir Hilary 9:47 - Thanks for bringing "Uncertain Smile" to my attention. Loved the piano. Thanks also for introducing me to the term "outro", hadn't heard that before either.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

Haven't read through the comments, so I suspect this isn't the first time: RUSH hour job??? It wasn't until OFL's rant that this other possibility came up. But, then, I don't truck with the guy.

David 11:10 AM  

I put LAPD at 1D because, you know, violent out of control cops back in the day. Then remembered about Alcatraz and really wanted "mire" at 2D. From there it was a really simple Thursday with neither rebus nor theme worth mentioning.

Lots of nice fill. Yes, NBC TV distinguishes it from NBC Radio. I can live with that.

Fake, made-up abbreviations, on the other hand... 20 years a chef in professional kitchens married to a woman who was a pastry chef in such for as long working with people and in restaurants people now know thanks to the Food Network. When we blew out the back quarter of our first floor a few years ago to finally get the kitchen we deserve--big, open solid counters, professional 36" stove (not an architects stove, no computer junk just twist the knob and cook), solid cabinets which stand daily use, separate prep area, and a built in bookshelf stuffed with cookbooks--and never in any place have either of us seen "tbsps". The abbreviation is "tbs." "1 tbs." or "4 tbs.", it doesn't matter.<\rant>

Other than that trigger (hey! Rex wasn't triggered by the drunk word today!) I thought it was a fine puzzle, just not really for a Thursday.

I totally forgot there was an "n" on the end of protozoan and had "esta" until I dropped in Zealots. I've got to look up this cracker thing; as you may infer, we don't spend much time in the prepared food sections.

@lms, Even I agree that, these days, ending a sentence with a preposition is where it's at.

Fred Romagnolo 11:11 AM  

Seems to me, somebody wrote an entire novel without an E, anybody?

Whatsername 11:18 AM  

@Z: Agree with your theory on how every criticism is worth 10 or 20 compliments and why they rankle so much, Where I worked many years in the federal government, we had a saying about that: It only takes one aw-shit to wipe out 10,000 attaboys.

@mericans in Paris 11:20 AM  

Did this one on paper. Started off quickly in the NW, but then things slowed down for me. Took me longer than my slow lunch (cous-cous, not TEXAS BBQ, in case you were curious), and finally had to take a peak on Google to fill in the answer to 31A, which enabled me to then finish that corner quickly.

While I was eating, a THRONG of protesters passed down the street, in blue vests (les gilets bleus), on behalf of "Sourds en Colère" (angry deaf people) They were students and adults demanding equal protection for the hard-of-hearing in the French Constitution. No shouts, just lots of whistles being blown.

I am impressed at Mr.. Charlson's ability to pull off constructing a puzzle in which all the words start with CONSONANTs. Knowing that, after completing half the puzzle, helped me fill in the remaining half. Now let's see if the same trick can be done using only vowels. I suppose that would require answers like EIEIO and perhaps more than a handful of Hawaiian place names.

@Z from Monday -- You made a comment to the effect that Phnom Penh was OK as an answer but not Penh by itself. Why? I don't see a lot of complaints when clues such as "Santa ___ " are used and we have to decide whether to fill in ANNA or CRUZ or ROSA or something else.

ojairanchgirl 11:26 AM  

I assumed 26D referred to "rush" hour as opposed to talk show hosts or bands.

jae 11:30 AM  

Yep, too easy for a Thursday. Not bad for a stunt puzzle. Liked it.

jb129 11:35 AM  

Nice to see Bette instead of Geena (Davis) for a change.

Otherwise, I miss my rebus.

Wm. C. 11:41 AM  

@Loren, @Whatsername --

Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I cannot put!


Canis Nebula 11:43 AM  

Feeling pretty Natick'd by NFcTEAM/cEBON instead of NFLTEAM/LEBON...

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Having toiled in more than one seat of government, I can attest to the truth of the ancient adage
Q: Why are bureaucrats so nasty?
A: There's so little at stake.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

I love hypotenuse as a female hypnotist. I must find a way to work that into conversation.

Zwhatever 12:02 PM  

@mericans - Santa _______ Is the worst. Somebody just recently was complaining about the seemingly endless options for that clue (actually only 10 in California and three in New Mexico). I think full city names are always better than fill-in-the blank partial city names. I don’t think I’m alone, or even a minority, in feeling this way.

Anyone else amused at the distress some seem to feel when they find themselves agreeing with Rex?

Malsdemare 12:06 PM  

As a theme, this one was so-so. But I really enjoy my quiet mornings with a puzzle, and one that goes by in five minutes does not spark the joy that a longer one will. So I'm good.

@kitty, I get that if alcohol has upended your life, seeing it daily in a puzzle is discomforting. But it’s ubiquitous in our culture and hoping that crossword constructors would eschew any mention at all is unrealistic. I'm vegetarian and TEXASBBQ brings to mind those huge trucks packed with pigs heading to the stockyard; not an image I relish, but that is my problem. I would never dream of asking constructors to limit their vocabularies to suit the peculiarities of some. And this goes for mentions of historical figures we loathe. I don't like being reminded of loathsome people like Idi Amin and his ilk, and maybe that's good; a nudge to remind us not to get complacent. (I'm reading "A world lit only by fire" and it sure does put our modern culture in perspective. Even white supremicists would have to seriously up their game to compete with some of the dudes in medieval times. That is NOT a dare.)

Boy, bit of a ramble for me today.

So here's a question about that bank account: does it work in reverse for our own behavior? So you earn some points when you do good, but then screw up, even mildly, and you're suddenly drowning in debt. I know My horrible regret about the homeless guy on the curb that I didn't give $5 Sticks with me far more than the 10 charities that I gave huge wads of money to yesterday (our biannual charity dole out).

Waxing a tad philosophical today. Apologies to those who wish I'd stick to the puzzle, which I pronounce just fine.

Joseph M 12:07 PM  

Consonants? That's a theme?

How about a grid that consists of nothing but letters and black squares?

Runs with Scissors 12:13 PM  

Busiet'n a one legged man in a butt-kicking contest. Just stopping by to say I enjoyed the solve, liked the puzz.

In the NW I tried to start the week on Mon. Oops.

Mark, in Mickey's North 40

old timer 12:15 PM  

This was a puzzle up with which I was quite willing to put. (Hands up for confidently writing in "Amiga" before CHICA, which is just Wrong. A muchacho's friend, if a girl, would be a muchacha if not an amiga).

Learn something every day, in this case that STPAULIGIRL is not sold in Germany. I'm tempted to say it is because of a law that requires beer to have enough alcohol to produce at least a little buzz. But it could be because the STPAULI district (in Hamburg, not so far from Bremen) is one of the best-known red light districts in Europe, and though Germans are pretty tolerant of brothels and strip clubs, the image might not appeal to the hausfrau in the bier aisle of the supermarkt.

thfenn 12:20 PM  

And jokes abound about ending sentences with prepositions. A freshman at Harvard from (your pick) is having trouble finding his way around campus. He stops two preppy upperclassmen nearby and says "hey (y'all), can you tell me where (Widenah liberry)'s at?. One tells him that "at (Hahvud) we do NOT end our sentences with prepositions". "OK (y'all), can you tell me where (Widenah liberry)'s at, a#@*ole".

Crimson Devil 12:21 PM  

To: 11:45 and Whatsername: sorta reminds of adage as to academic politics, wouldn’t be so bitter if didn’t matter so little.

Zesta is hurt 12:31 PM  

@Joe Dipinto and @Sir Hillary. You must not eat saltine crackers. Zesta is now made by Keebler and is one of the original brands of saltines.
I thought this puzzle was fun but possibly not run on the “right” weekday which is trolling for trouble with many that contribute to this blog.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  


It sounds kinda familiar, and I suspected because it's not made by German ingredient standards. The wiki confirms, sort of
"St Pauli Girl, like many German breweries, advertises that they brew all of their beers according to the Reinheitsgebot (German purity law) of 1516, even though they use culture yeast, which is not allowed by the 1516 law."

Further research indicates that the "German pure beer law" sorta, kinda doesn't exist anymore. Likely the brewer knows no German would drink such swill. Red blooded American shitkickers would love the stuff.

Masked and Anonymous 1:02 PM  

Like some others, this puztheme mcguffin kinda reminded m&e of Patrick Berry's stuntNYTPuz, which had every letter except an "E" (yo, @Newboy) … or a follow-up puz by some nut, where every letter was an "E", and there was even a ginormous black "E" splatzed into the grid art. … Or Mr. Charlson's past NYTPuz, where every vowel was an "I".

Lotsa fun fillins in here today, includin: SMTWTFS. FIREWALL. PROTOZOAN. LITMUSTESTS. TEXASBBQ [fave]. STPAULIGIRL. NUTELLA. ZEALOTS. Not bad, considerin **every** answer is a themer, in this puppy.

Best desperation: STDS. Only vowelless abbrev meat not used to start a buncha words with. See also the other spawn of MCS.
staff weeject pick: MCS. Abbrev meat used to start a buncha desperate words with.

Like @Canis Nebula, lost some precious nano-seconds contemplatin that there frisky NF(C or L)TEAM/(C or L)EBON crossin. Guessed it right. Just couldn't buy a name of CEBON. [MOON UNIT, yes … CEBON, nah].

Note the heavily steps-oriented puzgrid design. Wily use of black squares, to facilitate the theme mcguffin.
Did M&A's printed-puz version miss out on the revealer also mentionin that every clue starts with a CONSONANT? You'da thought they mighta mentioned that, if they'd on purposely went to the trouble to do that … ? Confuses the M&A.

Thanx for the "dffrnt" ThursPuz, Mr. Charlson. Good job. And congratz on bein the xwordinfo.chen Puz O the Week.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

(*not* a DIVORCEDMEN runt):

Teedmn 1:12 PM  

I had fun admiring the consonant pile-ups in the tops of the puzzle, left side and the BBQ, STP, MCS areas. So while it was in no way a "Thursday" puzzle, it was well-made and enjoyable.

I put in @Amelia's MSNBC first at 8A and I went with the 38A "amiga" until I hit the SHOAL in 35D. Is TALCS a new verb? Or is it an awkward plural noun in this grid?

I liked the clue for SEISMIC - Huge and abrupt. Not always literally correct but as used metaphorically, yup.

I don't get the NUTELLA craze - I know 20-somethings who expect it to be available at all times (camping out, for instance) but it's not for me.

Trenton, I usually like your puzzles and this one is no exception. Thanks.

Rob 1:54 PM  

Can anyone explain why 52A is SOLID? I got it from crosses, but I don't understand it.

Clrd2Land 2:03 PM  

I'm with those who enjoyed seeing a reference to the band Rush in the puzzle, never thinking to associate the clue with the idiotic gas bag. (Hadn't even thought of him in years, it seems. Is he even broadcasting anything anymore? Does anyone still listen to him? If so, why?) Thanks for ruining my blissful walk down Classic Rock Boulevard, Rex.

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

@ Sgreennyc.

Don't read Rex.

Don't watch Trump rallies.

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

Set a personal Thursday record on this one, and I still only thought it was meh.

@merican in Paris 2:26 PM  

@Rob at 1:54 PM -- A pyramid is the solid (i.e., three-dimensional) form of a triangle.

GILL I. 2:27 PM  

I'm back from a long, lovely walk with our two pups. Just now reading the comments...
@Whatsername 11:18. What a very sweet post; gave me a big smile. I think we're in for good weather. I've been doing good deeds all week hoping God will reward me with it since both the rehearsal and the wedding will take place outdoors. @Mals...I'm a sucker for the homeless - don't care. I buy and decorate dog and cat collars with jewelry and carry them in my car. We have many homeless in Sacramento and I see so many of them with their beloved pets. When I do, I offer them a free dog collar. It makes my day just to see the enormous gratitude on their faces. At least I feel as if I'm doing something. Do you hear that God? :-)
@Old timer 12:15. I think the clue for 38A should have said friend for un chico. You're right about the muchacha. In Spain and in other parts of Latin America, a muchacha is used to refer to a maid. He pedido la muchacha que me limpie el piso. CHICA also mean little.
David 11:10. I'm not a chef but I agree that I've never seen TBSPS...Ever... I do envy your new kitchen, though. In my dreams, I buy a new house with two things. A huge bedroom with a fireplace and a kitchen the size of where the living room should go. I'd bring a little cot to sleep in.
@Loren...I've had caca slung my way. I always picture the toad sitting on a toilet works for me. Your compliment meter usually reaches 100% every time you post. Boy, I'd run with that. You're very much beloved on this blog.....

John 3:27 PM  

He's smart. He understands the double meaning of safe. But the wordplay is already indicated by the question mark. The quotes indicating wordplay are redundant.

btgrover 3:33 PM  

Jay Gatsby called to tell the constructor that no one has used the word TOOT to signify a drinking spree in a solid century or so.

Bill T 3:43 PM  

If I were constructing this puzzle, I'd just go to my word list, delete all entries starting with a vowel, put in the revealer, and use auto fill from there.

Zwhatever 4:16 PM  

@Clrd2Land - Yep, he’s still out there spewing his racist unamerican misogynistic drivel. The AM radio dial is hardly the powerhouse it used to be, and so lots of AM stations still carry him. Being primarily on the AM dial renders him mostly irrelevant and hidden to most of America, but his platform is widespread enough that his special form of delusion still creeps into our public discourse.

Malsdemare 4:31 PM  

@Gill, I buy meals for the hungry at fast food joints, hand out fives to street corner beggers. I paid for a woman's Christmas toys when her cards were declined at Kmart. But there are those moments when the light turns green, the guy's on the other side of the road and I drive on—that's when the guilt hits. Love the idea of collars but I rarely see the homeless with pets, not sure why. Pets would surely both complicate and improve their lives, but a social safety net would be better.

Joe Dipinto 4:49 PM  

@Zesta -- it was really a joke referring to Rex's uninformed dismissal of "Lohengrin" as a "minor opera" yesterday. But as a matter of fact I almost never eat saltines, so I've never seen the Zesta brand. I remember Premium brand saltines from back when.

@P. Kael 9:52 -- There's also "Topkapi", also directed by Jules Dassin, in the trove of enjoyable heist films. Nice to see you posting here, though I'm not much of a fan of your film criticism. :-)

@Fred Romagnolo -- the E-less book rang a faint bell so I searched it: it was called "Gadsby", by Ernest Vincent Wright, published in 1939.

Anonymous 4:54 PM  

slightly <100%

Alex M 5:18 PM  

I'm Canadian, I ONLY thought of Rush the band for that clue and was somewhat confused haha, both by the clue and the accusations of white supremacy... XD

JOHN X 5:39 PM  

@P. Kael: let’s not forget John Huston’s classic heist film The Asphalt Jungle (1950).

Honorable mention in the category should include Bad Santa (2003) even though it’s more about the joys of alcoholism and midgets. The scene with John Ritter attempting to describe his suspicions about Santa to Bernie Mac is . . . priceless.

GILL I. 6:12 PM  

Mals...Kindred spirit.
I remember when I arrived in San Francisco with the proverbial "didn't have a pot to piss in." I didn't know a soul and I had exactly $52.00 in my pocket. I lugged my one piece luggage up Union Square and turned left at Post Street and found the Ansonia Residence Club. I had prepaid for two weeks. No job, no nada. I had typing skills so I knew I could find a temp job with "Kelly Girl." Took me two weeks to find one and I had to wait one week to get paid. I starved. I had no money left. I will never forget this woman who was also at the residence. She was living on food stamps and working about 3 temp jobs herself. Her children were staying with her mother and she was doing everything she could to make ends meet. Breakfast was included in the $50 week cost and so I would eat everything in sight and steal the bread for dinner. She saw me. We became friends. She took me across the street to a Deli and bought me a ham sandwich. You weren't supposed to use food stamps for pre-made food but the owner closed his eyes.
I will never, ever, forget.... ever.... that moment.
I try my best for the homeless. They love my deviled eggs at Easter and at Christmas. I do what I can. You do, too.

john towle 7:33 PM  

To Catch A Thief with Grace Kelly &Cary Grant is my favorite heist movie. The Côte d’Azur is the true star of that one.



Moderate Democrat 8:04 PM  

Easy Peasy. The consonant thing left me with a sense of, whatever. I can’t stand Rush Limbaugh. I listen to his shows occasionally on days off from work when I’m in my car just to hear the other side. It’s mostly right wing BS and Trump cheerleading, with a heavy dose of commercials. That said, there’s no indication that he’s a white supremacist. I assume Rex doesn’t listen to Limbaugh so I don’t where he gets the idea that Limbaugh is a white supremacist.. Rex and the rest of the crazy left are Trump’s best friends and I predict will help him get re-elected.

Fearless Spectator 8:13 PM  

Don't know why all the bellyaching. Finally, a puzzle for adults -- no rappers, rockers, stoners (all right, one Duran Duran). No sitcom stuff. A little literature, science, history, even an old German Bier. What's not to like. I've started to hate the NYTimes pandering to Xers and Millenials who don't buy the paper anyway. Why not recognize that some cruciferians are over fifty.

Puzzled 8:51 PM  

I did not read the word "hypotenuse" correctly, I heard it in my head as HYpoTENuse, like HYpoDERmic, and had no clue what an HYpoTENuse was. I thought the puzzle was an easy themeless and was very disappointed when I solved the theme answer. Sometimes I am so in awe of the construction of a puzzle, even if it's easy to solve, but I agree with Rex on this one.

doghairstew 2:19 PM  

It's probably too late to ask... But if anyone sees this please don't leave me wondering for the rest of my life! Why is the answer to 51 down "STDS"?
The clue is "regs" (possibly short for regulations?). The only reading I have for STDs is sexually transmitted diseases.

What is the connection? The worms... The spice....

Anonymous 11:17 AM  


And this on my birthday. Too dull.

Abc3643 6:11 PM  

I just wanted to mention one minor thing:

About "Radio" being a "Rush job", that was cute and I did suspect that Rush was the answer once I had the R. Yes, Rush was on the radio considerably, but their first breakout hit came in 1980. The song was "Spirit of Radio" off their 1980 album "Permanent Waves".

kitshef 10:54 PM  

I'll join in with the thumbs partway down crowd. I didn't particularly object to the theme; it's just that I would rather have had a better one.

Burma Shave 10:33 AM  


BETTE dresses like ST.PAULIGIRL,
MANN, that crowd of ZEALOTS can’t be wrong –
that CHICA gives that POLE a SOLID whirl;
a BLAST mostly when she’s GOT no THRONG.


Waxy in Montreal 10:46 AM  

Guess it's a very Canadian thing, eh? but no RUSH other than the band occurred to me. Very easy Thursday puz even though STPAULIGIRL, CHICA, BEALE, LEBON and ZESTA were complete unknowns. Loved SMTWTFS, especially as this senior can relate well to the pill container clue, and LITMUSTESTS. Had LINE before SIDE at 34A which was FAZING for a while. Overall a BLAST.

spacecraft 11:13 AM  

Really? NUTELLA has been around since 1964??? How could they stay in business for 50+ years without my knowledge? Amazing.

I knew right off the bat there was some vowelless chicanery going on, and checking all the way across the top and down the left confirmed it. I'll give it this much: it'd different, and as Bill Murray said at the end of "Groundhog Day," different is good. Well...most of the time. I had to overcome my natural aversion to non-words in order to get this one done. It does have some neat fill, and presented a few sticky spots. The NW and SE big corners were easy, while the NE/SW corridor had a few pauses. Of all the ways to clue TOOT, you come up with yet another slang for drinking spree? I guess I have heard that one, but man, that was hard to come by. Same with runs/BLEEDS. Hand up for amIga before CHICA (and yeah, our muchacho is getting busy early on, isn't he?).

I make it easy-medium for a Thursday. BETTE is one of the Davises who deserve the DOD sash; see also Midler. I'm not among the ZEALOTS who adore this offering, but not one who PANS it either. Props for the different: birdie.

rainforest 2:09 PM  

Cute puzzle. I look at it as a themeless though, with the consonant thing being more of a "feature". I was quite proud of myself getting 1A until I saw that just about everyone called it a gimme.

Is it NBC or NBCTV? This might bother some, but not I, er, me.

Do Texans ever barbecue lamb? It's tricky.

I'm among those who thought the cluing was just fine, perhaps on the easy side in places, but there were some dandies in there, and the longer answers were great.

Off-topic: Robert Mueller clearly said that Trump engaged in criminal behaviour (still does). What is stopping the Republicans from getting that. All they seem to be able to do is criticize the manner in which he stated his findings. Go with the facts, and not the performance. Jeez.

Diana,LIW 2:17 PM  

Easy? Really? Could be, since I've been brain dead for a couple of days.

BUT - I did finish it, and felt triumph. Really was blanked out for quite a while.

@Spacey - I thought NUTELLA was older than Ovaltine - here forever, along with Saltine Crackers that didn't fit into another spot in the puzzle.

Now, off to drink some ice cream, as my freezer decided to die during a hot spell...

Lady Diana, Crossword Waiter

leftcoast 3:12 PM  

The CONSONANTs helped a lot in avoiding errors, opening it up, and finishing it off with SMTWTFS.


As smooth and SOLID as it could be.

P.S. Didn't notice that clues begin with CONSONANTs, too. Pretty neat. (Note this line, not hard to do.)

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

STDS = Standards

Anonymous 3:31 PM  

Agree with Peter - a very enjoyable puzzle. Easy in parts, but fun to work out the unknowns.
Any Thursday puzzle without a rebus is a giant plus.

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