2012 time travel thriller / THU 7-25-19 / Los Angeles neighborhood that includes Dodger Stadium / 1990s antidiscrimination law for short / New Hampshire academy locale / Edible algae used to wrap sushi

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Constructor: Erik Agard and Andy Kravis

Relative difficulty: Medium (5:29)

THEME: JUMPERS (25D: Some basketball shots ... and the theme of this puzzle) — theme answers are two-word phrases that "jump" an answer *and* contain (in circled squares) a word that means "jump"; *that* word, the "jump" synonym in the circled squares, is required to make sense of the jumped answer; so:

Theme answers:
  • MOBILE APP (17A: iPhone download) "leaps" over (LEAP) YEAR (18A: 2020, but not 2019 or 20121)
  • ECHO PARK (40A: Los Angeles neighborhood that includes Dodger Stadium) "hops" over (HOP) ON POP (41A: Classic Dr. Seuss book)
  • SKI PATROL "skips" over (SKIP) TOWN (63A: Flee to avoid obligations, say)
Word of the Day: 'AS I AM" (4D: 2007 #1 Alicia Keys album) —
As I Am is the third studio album by American singer and songwriter Alicia Keys. It was released on November 9, 2007, by J Records. Recording sessions for the album took place at various recording studios during 2005 to 2007. Production was handled primarily by Keys, Kerry "Krucial" BrothersJack Splash, and Linda Perry, with a guest contribution from musician John Mayer.
The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 742,000 copies in its first week, highest ever for a female R&B artist and eventually earned a triple platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It became an international commercial success and produced four singles that achieved chart success, including "No One", which became the song most listened to of 2007 in the United States. Despite some criticism towards Keys' songwriting, As I Am received positive reviews from most music critics and earned Keys several accolades, including three Grammy Awards. It has sold over five million copies worldwide. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was nifty. Might've helped me a little if I'd managed to fully process what was going on while I was solving—I saw that the answers were "jumping" other answers, but I kept having to infer what the verb involved was because I Somehow Didn't Notice The Circled Squares Spelled It Out. Sigh. I think my initial impression—that there was some kind of "missing letter" thing going on with those jumped answers (see circled "LE" preceding YEAR, which made me think "AP" were somehow buried in the black square???)—got dispelled but never fully replaced, i.e. I never mentally revisited those circled squares after I figured out "jumping" was involved. It's continually amazing to me what my brain will and won't do. So I probably lost some time trying to figure out what "jump" synonym was in play with the "jumped" answers, but still the puzzle was pretty doable. And enjoyable. There's an impressive complexity to the theme even though it feels and looks so simple. This is highly accomplished and *very* polished work. The fact that they were able to stick a revealer in there, in the damn middle of the grid, going Down *through* a theme answer—well, that's just showing off is what that is.

No major sticking points today. Had DOPA and then SOPA (?) before SOMA at 1D: "Brave New World" drug. Seen it many times, couldn't call it up today. Had trouble with BAY because I forget that's a type of horse *and* I hadn't fully worked out the theme at that point, and YEAR seemed definitely wrong for 18A: 2020, but not 2019 or 2021. Took me a while to put "hotel room" and ARMOIRE together (not that it's wrong, just ... if I had to name ten things in a hotel room, that's not one of them). TARPS has one of those cutesy "?" clues that play way too fast and loose with grammar for my taste, so that took some work (48D: Sheets of rain?) ("of"? sideeye). My biggest holdup, though, was pretty funny in retrospect, in that I ran through all the different plausible *wrong* answers you could get from 23D: Aquarium attractions with a --T--- letter pattern in place. First stop, TETRAS. Then I got the initial "O" from TVMOVIE (22A: Film not seen in theaters), and thought, "Oh, I see now: OTTERS." Eventually the OCTOPI showed up and ate the OTTERS, as often happens in (my very limited understanding of) nature.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Z 12:09 AM  

OCTOPODES, damn it. Total failure.*

*He He. Loved this.

jae 12:14 AM  

Easy, faster than yesterday’s. Clever and kinda tricky, but not hard. Liked it.

Anonymous 12:23 AM  

For those interested in ice skating, hell is officially frozen over. "This is highly accomplished and *very* impressive work."

I agree. Loved it. Seemingly simple gimmick but could not explain it to my significant other. Such fun.

dmw 12:39 AM  

Nice, consistent cluing difficulty. As usual with me, didn't get the theme until I read Rex.

puzzlehoarder 1:02 AM  

Seeing the names of the constructors I expected a difficult solve. This lived up to it with a Saturday level time. The NW was the last section to go down. Maybe if I had seen how MOBILE and APP were connected while I was solving it wouldn't have held out so long. That and just how long it took me to spot RIBS. I actually considered RUBS and RYES first. Of all things that turned out to be what I needed to get that last section to crack.

A fun solve and one of your better Thursdays.

Lee Coller 1:06 AM  

Is 60d really a popular streaming device?

Anonymous 2:02 AM  

Liked it. Pretty easy. I also had OtTers before OCTOPI. Very clean and a fun one.

Sgt. Rock 2:25 AM  

This was just too easy. It was a Thursday theme with Tuesday difficulty. I guess that’s because it was a millennial puzzle.

Rex liked it because it was an Agard puzzle; anybody else he would have ripped it up, particularly ESP.

smoss11 2:28 AM  

I am not a californian but isnt Dodger Stadium in the Elysian Park neighborhood (according to Google)?

chefwen 2:40 AM  

Caught on fairly early with HOP ON POP, the rest was not so easy. My downfall was in the NE. Had bbqs at 3D which really messed me up.
Had the whole thing done except that little damn corner and ended up Googling 1D. I did read Brave New World many moons ago, but didn’t remember a drug called SOMA. Oh well, one little cheat, I’ll take it.

Didn’t care for the clue at 48D, should have been Sheets for rain, me thinks.

Anyhoo, fun, fun puzzle.

Farmer John 2:52 AM  

@smoss11 2:28AM

One side is Elysian Park, the other side is Echo Park. The actual stadium site is Chavez Ravine.

jae 3:08 AM  

@Lee Coller - ROKU has over 25 M users or around 20% of US households, so yeah, fairly popular.

@chefwen - SOMA was a gimme, but then my bride has been prescribed a muscle relaxant with the same name which has reinforced my BNW memories.

Loren Muse Smith 5:00 AM  

Like Rex, I wanted a little AD in the black square after MOBILE, but I was wobbly since the thing you buy is an APP. It all quickly sorted out, though, and I loved the trick. HOP ON POP was a bit of an outlier for me since HOP’s use here doesn’t really mean “jump over” something. It means launch yourself on your dad’s stomach so he goes oof.

“Stand” before STRAW.

Loved thinking about ESQUE. Pick a noun, any noun, and make it an adjective. So many choices for that suffix that betray your personality.

strawesque – you have dream catchers in each room
strawian – you read The Economist and throw around the word hegemony
strawistic – you secretly believe in time travel
strawous – you’re a scientist with several pocket protectors
strawy – you don’t give a damn about sounding smart
strawlike - you’re too lazy to have fun with the formation of adjectives
strawic – you’re a student of Jeremy Bentham
strawful – you’re a Greener who wants to ban straws.

Until a few months ago, an A STUDENT in WV had to have a 93 or above. So a student in the 90s wasn’t necessarily an A STUDENT. In a similar vein, I’m pretty sure that the passing grades for the Praxis tests in WV are higher than a lot of other states. I’ve said it before, somehow this is like Walmart not carrying screw-top wine because it has to show that it’s not as troglodytesome as everyone thinks. (A Praxis test is like the SAT for would-be teachers.)

TV MOVIE. I cheerfully own that I like low-brow crap on TV and figured I had hit rock bottom with Bachelor in Paradise. But then I happened upon the LMN and Hallmark movies, and I just started digging. Sheesh, they’re formulaic and dumb. Happily, I’m over them now and am back to just the Bravo reality train wrecks.

@Z – Yeah. OCTOPI has gotten a lot of press here. For anyone new to this place, you have to know that octopus is Greek, so if you’re gonna be all foreign plural fancy schmancy, you should use octopodes. The delicious part of this is that it’s pronounced /oc TAH puh deez/. If found a lamp and got a genie, my first wish would be that the plural of Greek hippopotamus be changed to, brace yourself, hippopotamopodes /hi puh pah tuh MAHH puh deez/. C’mon. Say it. It’s a hoot. FWIW, you foreign plural people – the plural syllabi is problematic since apparently it stems from a misreading of the original Greek word sillybos. Chew on that for a while. Anyhoo, as for me, if it’s a word that is fully assimilated into English, I’ma just add an S and call it a day.

Speaking of genies, I have seen both remakes of Aladdin and The Lion King. I’m such a sucker for those stories. The Lion King is in 3D, so it was really cool. I ate an entire snuck-in box of Sugar Babies and sure wish I had also brought in a few kleenices.

Klazzic 5:19 AM  

Easy solve but left me non-plussed. I found the cluing boring and a little of a stretch. For all you OTTERS fans, really? When is the last time you saw this "playful mammal" in an aquarium? C'mon folks. Question: Why the ubiquitous use of rap music artists in nearly every puzzle? I say "artists" very very loosely. It's dreck (to be kind). With all the aversion by the commentariat to NRA, CHE, TSA and other seemingly innocuous answers, where is the outrage for this misogynistic, hateful and vile music (?) genre? Hey, Will: ENOUGH!! Thank you, I feel better now. Hey, honey, where the hell did you put my SOMA?

Anonymous 5:32 AM  

@Loren, they actually have students in WV? My only knowledge of WV is that it invented the toothbrush. Any other place would have called it a teethbrush.

Anonymous 6:03 AM  


BarbieBarbie 6:12 AM  

Great. Just great. A self-imposed Hard, since I misread the theme as basketball shorts and put in JaMmERS off the J, knowing that wasn’t quite right...
So glad I read all the way through today’s @LMS comment. If you didn’t, go back and check out hippoppotamopodes. I’m going to be muttering that all day.

Anonymous 6:15 AM  

@Klaz: Alicia Keys isn’t a rap artist, and there are otters in the iconic Monterey Aquarium.

Aketi 6:33 AM  

Got the theme with the LEAP across the YEAR which lead me to see OR I SIT instead of OR IS IT.

I knew the OCTOP-I would bring the ODES out but didn’t consider the possibility of swapping it out for hippopotam-I. @lms isn’t it simply hippopotamodes? OR IS IT truely hippopotamapodes? Those two ear worms are going to stick with me all day, repeating one after the other in my head.

Lewis 6:39 AM  

@lms -- I loved "strawful" and "hippopotamopodes". I'm so glad you've returned.

The theme idea is brilliant. I wanted to know which of the constructors thought of it and how it came to him, but no constructor notes, alas (can one of you chime in here?). And the theme, as it was yesterday, is super tight, IMO. Try to come up with another theme answer that would work in this puzzle, and if you succeed, please report on it here!

Not to mention that each theme answer yields a double aha. Sheesh! To which you layer a jank-lite grid and some lovely answers like OR IS IT, TORRENT, GERMANE, and ARMOIRE. I would have liked the cluing to be a touch tougher -- I'm guessing Will lightened it because of the complicated theme.

And I loved the Puzzle Palindrome, with the metal word and seaweed word.

A quality solve and a quality piece of work. Thank you for this, gentlemen.

amyyanni 6:51 AM  


Suzie Q 6:58 AM  

I really wanted the popular streaming device to be a canoe or kayak.

Puzzle was OK but I wish it could have been done with less names and more word play or vocabulary knowledge.

kitshef 6:58 AM  

ECHO PARK is, admittedly, obscure. But for such an amazing theme, a lot can be forgiven.

SwAnk before SMART and tRIaL before DRILL set me back a bit, but overall pretty easy.

Just missing an F for the pangram. Some strain on the fill already with ORISIT ASIAM ESQUE, so a wise decision not to stress it more for a parlor trick.

QuasiMojo 7:06 AM  

DOPA for me too then SOBA (druggy noodles?) but that was soon fixed. Typing in JUMP UPS (I was thinking the circled indicated turns) didn't help but the puzzle led me along by the hand until I had it all aligned. Great clue for ERIE. Finished rather quickly. Thank you AMIS. Well done!

kitshef 7:15 AM  

ECHO PARK is, admittedly, obscure. But for such an amazing theme, a lot can be forgiven. Excellent puzzle.

SwAnk before SMART and tRIaL before DRILL set me back a bit, but overall pretty easy.

Just missing an F for the pangram. Some strain on the fill already with ORISIT ASIAM ESQUE, so a wise decision not to stress it more for a parlor trick.

Small Town Blogger 7:16 AM  

The standard English plural of octopus is octopuses. In Greek it would be octopodes. But octopi is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Joe R. 7:34 AM  

I still don’t get the clue for 35A. Is Nancy a French name? I’ve never thought of it as such, and can’t name any famous French Nancys. Am I missing something here?

David in Brevard 7:37 AM  

Great Thursday Themer. Scored a fastest time for a Thursday at just 1 minute slower than yesterday’s monster and down here near the bottom thats significant (lets just say in the Rex X 10s).

I couldn’t break into it in the NW but was able to get started with NOKIA and INDEX. That ‘bled’ me into the central area where AWARD (Tony 53A) held me up for a while. TARPS and GERMANE both confirmed my choice of AWARD and the plural revealer ending in A didn’t seem too unreasonable.

Getting the theme at SKI P Town was fun and I was then able to back track up the grid and fathom the other JUMPERS.

I had STAND for STRAW, ZEROS for TEENS and as above AWARD for SMART (I still don’t get SMART).

A great and satisfying start to the day.

Anonymous 7:45 AM  

Nancy is a town in France

Anonymous 7:56 AM  

Nancy est une cité en France.

7 1/2 year old kid 8:01 AM  

Town in France

Z 8:11 AM  

I used to be STRAWESQUE. Today, not so much.

I started trying to decline STRAWs several years ago (harder to do then you’d imagine). Out of some ecological consciousness? Nope. Because I’m a grown-ass man and I can drink from a glass without spilling my beverage, thank you very much. After not using STRAWs in restaurants for a couple years I started getting compliments from the occasional ecowaiter. Whatevs. Now it’s a thing to the point that Trump’s campaign is selling plastic STRAWs because “liberal paper STRAWs don’t work.” The moment of schadenfreude is, of course, that using a reusable STRAW is a very “green” thing to do. So, by all means, “own the libs” and spend $15 on some reusable STRAWs. STRAWian politics is the best politics.

@LMS - Have you no shame? People are going to be getting odd stares all over America as they go around muttering hippopotamopodes. Just to be absolutely descriptivist, though, OCTOpuses, OCTOpodes, and OCTOPI are all acceptable in English although OCTOPI has been around the longest (in English), apparently. Despite my initial joke, I’m an OCTOPIer simply because the “correctest” is too many syllables and ending a word with two S sounds is too spitesque for my taste.

@Suzie Q - Great wrong answers again.

@klazzic - This is an Arby’s, sir.

Bernie 8:33 AM  

Tons of fun! Feels like, in terms of difficulty, this should have switched places with yesterday's puzzle.

MissScarlet 8:42 AM  

I’m hoping someone will explain 18a year 2020. I just don’t see it.

Suzy 8:46 AM  

@LMS— OFL should surely pay you for bringing life, wit and good cheer to his daily rants.

@Anonymous— OFL surely must pay you: why would anyone be so snarky or snobby by nature.

Thank you, Erik and Andy, and Mr. Shortz, for a very crunchy and satisfying Thursday puzzle!

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

Otters are a popular aquarium animal. I have seen them at multiple different ones. Google it and you will get many hits.

Gretchen 8:50 AM  


Mike Herlihy 8:51 AM  

@Klazzic Rap is crap. I'm with you all the way on this!

Mike Herlihy 8:58 AM  

@MissScarlet You have to include LEAP from the circled letters on either side of the YEAR. 2020 is a Leap year.

GILL I. 9:01 AM  

Got the trick at ON POP. Clever. Good Thursday for the first timers who think this day of the week may be impossible. You have to take the LEAP sometime; today is a good start.....
Niki MINAJ is ubiquitous . @Anony 6:15, I think @Klazzic was referring to her and not to the soulful, jazzy, Alicia Keys. I only know MINAJ because every time she utters a simple word like hippopotamopodes, it sounds like she needs her adenoids removed.
I liked the cluing: Friends of Nancy is usually clued as Nice friend. Kylo REN instead of the usual REN and Stimpi. Algae as NORI instead of the usual formal refusal. I like different.
TOTES and SNEAK are so colloquiumESQUE...NEZ pas?

Dr. Haber 9:03 AM  

Interesting how the phrase mobile app has disappeared from the daily lexicon. Just apps now.

Nancy 9:35 AM  

A very, very clever gimmick that I only was able to see -- and appreciate-- after I'd finished solving the entire puzzle. If only I'd seen it earlier I wouldn't have suffered so much. And why did I suffer? Once again, it was the pop culture we always get from Erik Agard -- ABETted by Andy Kravis. The rappers and the thrillers and the downloads and the streaming devices and the albums. Yecchhh. Too bad, because the theme was original and praiseworthy.

Re 23D: OCTOPI are "aquarium attractions"?? Attractive to whom? Not to me. Maybe to other OCTOPI.

How I wish this puzzle hadn't been marred by the constructors' seeming fixation on the sort of stuff you find on gadgets and screens. It could have been really great. Sigh.

pabloinnh 9:38 AM  

MINAJ>JUMPERS>H0PONPOP. Let the games begin! Great fun puzzle.

Hey @JoeD--it's another lyrics day!

Now I don't claim to be an ASTUDENT/But I'm trying to be...

And the more helpful, from Warren Zevon-

And I'm there with her in Ensenanda/And I'm here in ECHOPARK

and I'm glad I remembered that, because even though I've been to Dodger Stadium, would have put it in Chavez Ravine, not doing any good whatsoever.

Slight hangup with not knowing KAL Penn, trying KAY, and wondering how DRILY could be an answer with "Dry" in the clue, which is just not done, and wasn't.

Let me heap on more kudos and bouquets on you both and also award the coveted "Thursdazo" to y'all. Thanks for so much fun.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Never heard of it.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Aquarium=sea creatures, not land mammals.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Too far!

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

@pabloinnh - I live right next to Echo Park and walk my dog in Elysian Park (the actual park that holds Dodger Stadium) and still wanted to cram Chavez Ravine into the puzzle somehow!

Actually, it's cool to see that the name Chavez Ravine has not faded from memory, given it's history.

Meanwhile... Dodger Stadium is actually in the Elysian Park neighborhood, which is right next to Echo Park. It's a tiny neighborhood and I see why people would think it was part of Echo Park.


gfrpeace 10:09 AM  

Liked the puzzle pretty well; but before I did it I read the obit of Chaos Theoretician Mitchell Feigenbaum, and found that in his postgrad years he went through a very unproductive period, when practically all he was accomplishing was the New York Times Crossword Puzzle every morning. Then suddenly after letting things percolate he came out with the Feigenbaum Constant. After enough aimless percolating perhaps we will all do something great!

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Excuse me, but, when have you ever seen an armoire in a hotel room? In a movie depicting the old West, maybe, or old European settings? I guess I’m not rich and I don’t travel much.

God 10:32 AM  

@Nancy - Sorry for this whole pesky 21st Century. There are parts of it which I too am not fond, but that's the problem with free will. Do try to bear with it though, aspects of it are good. For instance, had you a ROKU and internet, you could stream movies from the early and mid 20th Century. For free. So, not all bad, K? Oops sorry there, OK?

xyz 10:32 AM  

Very simplistic. Not at all Thursday-worthy. Awesome considering it required two constructors ...

LE AP lead me directly to filling in JUMPERS although I never in all my years playing the game (formerly played but still called) Basketball - I never took a H OP or SKI P shot - although I did hop on a ball pile and even tripped but not skipped an opponent.I knew Echo Park and Ski Patrol dead cold and almost as almost apparent as the NYTAPPLE symbiosis led me to MOBILEAPP. HOP SKIP JUMP is now in ATHLETICS called Triple Jump (silly me hoping for an Olympics puzzle?). One year from now in Tokyo - someone will earn a Gold Silver and Bronze in Triple Jump, , unlike this puzzle which earns a LEAD (Pb) Medal from this judge's seat. Perhaps Thursday's least resistant Thursday Trick of all time. I not Type A enough any longer to time but it felt like Tuesday. It was however pretty clean

I guess I am disappointed that any of this crowd didn't know SOMA, ROKU, and struggled with OCTOPI(pl.). DIORAMA was probably toughest for me as it's been a while since I helped make one.

Fill was pretty clean of real clunkers and nearly so for crossword hamburger helpers as well. (To end on a positive note)

jberg 10:54 AM  

I got curious, so I did a quick search to see if there was a town called Sluggo anywhere. I got excited when one of the five hits was Sluggo Sound, but that turned out to be an audio store, not a place. Too bad, great opportunity for confusing clues lost.

Yeah, I'm sticking with the added S for English plurals (except for men and women, etc.).

I figured out the trick early on, and it went pretty smoothly after that. I do admire the clue for ERIE. Too bad there isn't an important court case in which somebody sued an eel.

I've got a strong suspicion that those complaining about rap have not listened too much of it. With the possible exception of Mike Pence, I think everyone who has gone to see Hamilton has enjoyed and admired the music, for example. Anyway, the quality of a work does not determine how well known it is, which is what is important for a puzzle.

Carola 11:03 AM  

Cute, super easy. After LEAP and HOP, it wasn't hard to guess that the third JUMPER was going to be SKIP.

Thanks to H.S. English + still functional long-term memory for SOMA, to Michael Connelly for ECHO PARK, and my best friend, who keeps trying to get me to sign up for ROKU.

Ethan Taliesin 11:04 AM  

Not a fun puzzle.

@Small Town Blogger 7:16 said it best. Octopuses. It's not Latin, and maybe hardly anyone cares, but I like to at least TRY to preserve things in language that make sense--no matter how futile that may be. People pronouncing forte (like someone's strength) as "fort" is another thing that rubs me the wrong way. Forté is something else.

The fill was terribly uninteresting--except for SOMA. Erik Agard can do better.

RooMonster 11:10 AM  

Hey All !
Was there ever a SMAET GIJOE TVMOVIE? Filmed in ECHO PARK or the BAY TOWN RITZ?

Pretty cool puz. For some reason, the HOP ON POP themer was giving me a tough time. Wanted to continue it straight, as in first letter P (after circled HO), which got me PONPO, but was quite sure of ESP and JUMPERS, so then changed it to POPON, messing up my ESP, then wondering why it was a real word like the other two, and finally sitting back to study the other two and see how they worked, when ONPOP finally clicking in the ole brain.

Parlor trick?? Throw an F in there! Har. Poor F's, no respect. The only missing letter.

Troubles in South Center, had PoTCRATE, thinking food the whole time for that clue, which got me oXEbow (?) for EXETER, ohIo for ERIE, and then complete stop. Finally just put in letters to make gibberish words, got the So Close message, and when I saw my wrongness, changed the O to E in PETCRATE, and the rest fell in about 8 seconds.

Who knew GIJOE has 21 moving parts?


Anonymous 11:10 AM  

The pedant in me really can't handle that OCTOPI isn't marked as "Var." I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one thrown by this.

TJS 11:17 AM  

Classic BEQ puzzle today, people. "Lake guaranteed to make you giggle"- 8 letters.

Joe Dipinto 11:21 AM  

Well, mon Ami @Nancy, we belatedly got the LE__AP you suggested for the moon landing puzzle.

I don't quite see the "impressive complexity" in the theme that Rex does, but it certainly works. The fill otoh seems mostly recycled: ERIE, GI JOE, DECO, AAHS, SEPIA. TORRENT and GERMANE were good uncommon entries.

@Pablo, get out your top hat and tails, we're going in style. (You be Gene Wilder, I'll be Peter Boyle):

If you're blue and you don't know where to go to
Why don't you go where fashion sits?
Poot-mmm anngh ma Ritz!

Nate 11:22 AM  

Does the NYT App show as unfinished for anybody else, or just me?
It looks like a partial fill, with the middle empty- it didn't turn gold with a star.

One one hand, it kind of looks like a bug, but on the other... it might just be another call-out to the theme, which I really really like.

I got afinishing time. If I go into the puzzle itself, there's a letter in every box, and the time has stopped. But the puzzle icon shows just the border filled all the way around, indicating that it's half done. It looks like the icon has jumped over the star.

I want to believe it's a really cute nod to the theme, but that seems excessive.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

The SEA otter is a MARINE mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 14 and 45 kg, making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest MARINE mammals.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

@Ethan The last two sentences of your second paragraph make no sense. First, forte is pronounced fȯrt when referring to one's strong point. This usage comes from the French, and has no accent on the e. The Forté is an absurd and incorrect foreignification of the word.

John Hoffman 11:38 AM  

Great puzzle! I found that today’s Thursday was much easier than yesterday’s Wednesday puzzle.

Hack mechanic 11:41 AM  

My downfall there was MDMA for 1d crossed with DOES IT for 13a.
Took forever to get it straight

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

WV invented the opiate addict. more per capita than any other place on the planet. the Menlo Park of narc. explains how they vote. out of their minds. :)

Malsdemare 11:59 AM  

Holy moly! I just came here and realized that while I caught some of the trick, I missed the genuinely impressive piece: MOBILE APP, and SKI PATROL. Which just demonstrates my lame-brainedness, since I was completely flummoxed by how MOBILE all by itself was a download, and put in SKI because I thought I was being smart and was completing SKIP TOWN. What an awesome feat all the way around.

ROKU is an awesome streaming device, dead east to use and incredibly portable. I know firesticks and such are good, but I loves me my Roku.

I honestly thought this would be my doom, did NOT expect to finish. Wild-ass guess on MINAJ; I know her name, no idea of her genre. Had STand for 1A for forever which gave me duchess; you can imagine how that held me up. Yikes! And when I got the congrats, I was stunned. So, wow! Thanks, boys. That was awesome.

PSA for the day. My sister had cervical surgery a month ago and started having horrible headaches about two weeks ago. Doctor after doctor assumed it was a consequence of the surgery and treated her with nerve blocks, which did not help. It turns out it was temporal arteritis and she is now blind. I'l spare you my fury, fear, and sorrow. Just know, headaches that make your hair hurt are not to be fooled with.

Now to finish reading the blog.

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

@Small Town Blogger:
The standard English plural of octopus is octopuses. In Greek it would be octopodes. But octopi is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Well, then I guess you say radiuses, while the rest of the math community says radii. As you likely know, the standard plural ending of a word derived (or taken whole) from a latin masculine noun (aka, ending in -us) is -i.

Masked and Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Mixed feelins, about this puppy…

* Theme mcguffin idea is extra, extra cool. Flat-out brillianter than snot.

* One of the themers is not only obscure, but wrong. As previously mentioned, Dodger Stadium is in the Elysian Park neighborhood, not ECHO-PARK. The wrongness part could be remedied, with another clue. Not sure what U do about the obscureness part.

* Some good semi-longball fiilins, such as: TVMOVIE. ARMOIRE. Nuthin real looong, tho … which is kinda surprsin, with just three themers (and a 7-long revealer). Did admire ROKU, tho.

* Some sorta desperate fiilins (which M&A savors, but it's sorta an acquired taste): ORISIT. AMIS [primo clue, tho]. NORI. NEZ. Did have @RP's fave ESP, tho.

* Learned lotsa new stuff: ASIAM. ADA. That the Dodger Stadium had hopped to a new neighborhood. PET-CRATE. KAL. SOMA [more of a re-learn, along with how to spell MINAJ, actually]. LOOPER. NORI. TOTES (as clued). Last STRAW is ok without a "THE". HOPONPOP [does have a vague ring to it, I'd grant].

* Learnin new stuff is always interestin. In this case, the sheer numbers of em stampeded the precious nano-second herd, a bit.

* Primo ASTUDENT clue. Nice ahar moment.

staff weeject pick: HOP in The Circles. Nice weeject stacks, in the NE & SW.

Thanx for gangin up on us, EA & AK. ECHO POEM, maybe? (It's in yer same theme neighborhood, at least.)

Masked & AnonymoUUs


Anonymous 12:08 PM  

I started trying to decline STRAWs several years ago (harder to do then you’d imagine). Out of some ecological consciousness? Nope. Because I’m a grown-ass man and I can drink from a glass without spilling my beverage, thank you very much.

There's a very good reason for a grown-ass man to use a straw (I know from experience): if you had little to no dentist visits until you got a real job in your x0s, then you'll likely have some yuge white fillings in your fronts. What a recent dentist finally told me: be careful with cold in your fronts, because the coefficient of expansion (look it up) of tooth and filling are very different. You'll pop those fillings like a ripe pimple. Which I had been doing for some years and didn't know why.

Joseph M 12:19 PM  

50A had me thinking about body parts before I finally got to book parts. And my ventilated container was a cat crate before it became a PET CRATE. Meanwhile my stand turned into a STRAW and my dolt became a TWIT.

Otherwise this was a fairly easy puzzle. Figured out the theme almost immediately with LEAP YEAR and it was a simple HOP, SKIP, and a JUMP after that.

My favorite moment was the discovery that a GI JOE doll has 21 moving parts. Very androidesque.

Unknown 12:43 PM  

Octopuses is the plural of octopus not octopi, which is not a word.

Bill L. 12:45 PM  

Kudos to the constructors! I enjoyed this one even if it was pretty easy for a Thursday.

Enjoyed the added bonus of 50D paired (in my mind) with 13A. IT'S OK. OR IS IT?

Pickle 12:59 PM  

@lms After chuckling at “troglodytesome” I quickly scrolled back up to see what that betrays about YOUR personality. Alas, no info on “strawsome.” If I may, you’re in your late 30s and still talk about your fraternity days...

Thanks as always for your contribution to this blog.

albatross shell 1:06 PM  

STand, Otter, tRIal, awARd caTCRATE plus hulU before ROKU. Some for less tnan 30 seconds, some for much longer. Not getting PATROL MOBILE until late in the game and not knowing ECHO PARK combined to keep the theme hidden while it might have been useful.

But I TROD and slogged on. The JUMPS, SKIPs, LEAPs and HOPs were in slo-mo. A finely- crafted theme. Good clue for ERIE. Even better for A STUDENT with a necessary A. I'll assume that is an A that won't be a nit. ORISIT?


Teedmn 1:18 PM  

Is there a reason these "vault" words all end in P? JUMP, HOP, SKIP, and LEAP. The only explanation I could come up with is that P "pops" in the mouth, so it is semi-onomatopoeic? When I used to sing in a band, I would always try to sing a word like "people" with a sound closer to B than P because the P didn't come out well through the microphone. We did a cover of the Beatles' "All the Lonely Beoble".

I got the trick quite early, with my LEAP into 2020's LEAP YEAR. This gave me more time to puzzle out the rather tricky clues. Looking back, none of them seem all that hard except for A STUDENT. I got ESP and TARPS right off. My big write-over was IN ink at 12D, a sweet bit of IRONy, looking at the black ink splotch that engendered.

Nice Thursday trick, EA and AK.

pabloinnh 1:21 PM  

Hey @JoeD-Truly excellent get on the Ritz nugget. Maybe be the funniest scene in a hilarious movie.

Fred Romagnolo 1:39 PM  

Octopus isn't Latin, so the "i" plural is wrong. "Forte" is an Italian word, meaning loud. The French meaning is comparable: strength. The WI in 5D led me to Windsor, which made things awkward for a while. I'm not into rappers (24A), or album titles (4D), so Agard's stuff is hard for me. He doesn't know Greek, but he does know French, apparently (64D). I have a gay friend who thinks G I Joe is missing a part.

nyc_lo 1:45 PM  

This one felt like having to pat my head and rub my belly at the same time. Didn’t see the connection of the “-“ clues, so just had to bull my way through with crosses. Have to applaud the trick, now that I see it.

Birchbark 3:21 PM  

My vote for puzzle of the year -- it has an almost steam-punk mechanical complexity. And it's ridiculously fun.

"Stop! You must not HOP ON POP!" -- one of the finest illustrated lines in all of literature. I still bellow it when there is a need for mock outrage, and it still works. I love it in the middle of this puzzle.

@LMS (5:00) -- I believe the Benthamite (or Foucauldian, for that matter) noun form would be "strawicon."

Newboy 3:38 PM  

No mr happy pencil with IRAn and forgetting to check the across clue which would have made the Q obvious added angst to my day. Unlike Rex, I focused on the circles and reveal that made it a bit too easy. Would this have been more fun without circles? Just ASIAM? I often miss some of the multiple layers of theme clueing until posters here enlighten me to those subtle connections.

DrBB 3:58 PM  

I came over just to see if Rex had managed to eke out some way to diss this delightful puzzle and was pleased to see we agreed for once.

BTW, as someone who actually works in a public aquarium of some note, I can assure everyone that our house style specifies "octopuses" as the plural. "Octopi" is of course based on a false (Latin) etymology, and "octopudes" while etymologically correct (Greek) is just too fussy for a word that is, after all, English.

Davis 4:28 PM  

"As you likely know, the standard plural ending of a word derived (or taken whole) from a latin masculine noun (aka, ending in -us) is -i."

In addition to the already-noted error that "octopus" isn't of Latin origin, this is also wrong about Latin grammar. First, it only applies to second declension Latin nouns (and only in the Nominative case); fourth declension masculine nouns also end in '-us", and the Nominative plural for a fourth declension masculine noun is... '-us'. Second, loads of masculine Latin nouns don't end in '-us'--the Nominative singular ending for third declension masculine nouns (which there are a lot of) is '-s' (and the Nominative plural is '-es').

And with that, I finally feel like all those years of middle school and high school Latin are vindicated...

albatross shell 4:28 PM  

I found this from infoplease for what it's worth.
We would go with "octopuses," a perfectly legitimate English plural, and the oldest attested to. "Octopi" is also an acceptable choice, and one in wide use, but you run the risk of being informed that it's incorrect. Well-meaning people may tell you that -i is a Latin plural, but "octopus" comes from the Greek. While this is true, the word in fact went from Greek to Latin, and only then to English. While the plural is irregular, it's hardly out of bounds.
Those who don't like "octopi" sometimes suggest that the correct term is "octopodes." Nobody ever uses "octopodes" outside of arguments about the plural of "octopus." Nor should you.
In short, stick with "octopuses" unless you really prefer the sound of "octopi."

-The Editors

I also found a list that calls a group of octopusesipodes (to combine all the plural forms for equal offense to all sides in honor of the death of Paul Krassner) a rally. I was hoping for a blot.

I also checked on platypus. Same fake Latin stuff. No platypodes or whatever real Latin would be. Sa.e choices as octopus plurals depending on your source with the addition of platypus being it's own plural.

Which suggests why not a 4 th plural form for octopus: octopus. I like it.

Ted McCombs 4:38 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kitshef 5:05 PM  

One of the things I like to do as I go through the archives is solve puzzles that fell on the same date and day in a prior year. So it is that I just solved the Thursday, July 25 2013 puzzle.

If you have access to the archives, go solve it now. It's splendid.

Joe Dipinto 5:12 PM  

[checking in after five hours, annnnnd... yep, we're still on Octopussy. Will check back in another five]

Anonymous 5:19 PM  

Hey Rex, BAY refers to a horses color, its not a type of horse.

RooMonster 5:30 PM  

Found a simple "F" fix -
27D to FRED, which would make 27A FDA, and 43A DO SO.

Viola! Give the F some love!


Birchbark 6:04 PM  

@kitshef (5:05) -- I second your recommendation for working the 7/25/13 puzzle. I did it last year in my own ongoing backwards-through-the-archives trek. It's one of those where when you look at it, you just say "how do they possibly make that work?" Fun.

Birchbark 6:29 PM  

And if you wonder what @Rex thought of it, here's how his review of the 7/25/13 puzzle begins: "Astonishing. I don't think I've solved a better puzzle this year. Imaginative concept, perfect execution. "

Runs with Scissors 7:55 PM  

I liked today's puzzle. A lot.

It was pretty easy for the most part since I got the gimmick on MOBILE YEAR APP. Easiness did not detract from the fun.

Most of what I thought has already been said, so I'll just add my kudos to the rest of you.

The only eyeroller was TVMOVIE. Green paint-ish, that.

@LMS - priceless.

@kitshef 5:05

You nailed it. That one left my brain sweaty and the rest of me in awe.

Mark, in Mickey's North 40

Anonymous 8:46 PM  

Hey,anonymous nit-picker,you study English punctuation in college or somethin'?

Bond Girl 8:50 PM  

All the panties in a wad over OCTOPI, my goodness!

Nancy 10:00 PM  

Great LE AP observation, @Joe Dipinto (11:21)! It never occurred to me, but you're right.

I also enjoyed your droll 5:12 comment. But I have to admit I missed every single one of the OCTOPI comments and therefore if the dead horse has been beaten to a fare-thee-well, I didn't notice. My eyes just skip past what they skip past and the correct pluralization of the octopus is one of those things they skip past. Apologies to all who discussed the pluralization of the octopus today and whom I didn't read.

Monty Boy 10:44 PM  

I read almost all the comments and didn't see a reference to @LMS avatar. It took a while to see the different patterns are for dresses called 25D. Her avatars are always worth a peek.

Anonymous 11:39 PM  

Sea otters certainly are sea creatures, and often are seen in aquariums. Any other otters are river otters and spend most of their time in rivers, and still might not count as land mammals.

a.corn 1:54 AM  

This might be my favorite puzzle of the year; I had an absolute blast with it! I was feeling some kind of “hop, skip, and a jump away” theme early on, so felt confident plugging skip in at the south - confirmed it with 62A. When I saw the dash for 65A I went “aha! Got it!” A few short minutes later, I made my way to the NE corner, found LEAPYEAR and went “ohhhhhh shit this is dope!!” Erik Agard is the truth, and I’m super stoked to do his puzzles for many years to come.

rondo 9:17 AM  

Everyone knows that a LOOPER is a pro jock, you know, a caddie. So this puz has that going for it, which is nice.

Nicki MINAJ is a tasteless, talentless, ignorant excuse for an ‘entertainer’. Forget it.

Better than a rebus, I guess ITSOK.

Burma Shave 10:31 AM  


TVMOVIE on ROKU about an ASTUDENT’s momma,


spacecraft 11:26 AM  

Some absolutely SATANIC clues made for a Thursday-tough outing. Luckily, that useless-fact retainer I call a brain remembered Huxley's SOMA, or I might never have gotten out of the NW.

The old u-f retainer had to wear gym SNEAKS today; the guys gave it a good workout. I liked unearthing several aha!'s along the way, like when it dawned on me that the WHOLE LINE was involved in the theme. Fun to do--and even the ASTUDENT didn't bother me (another aha!). Triumph points not a record, though; I'd put it at medium with a side of challenging. Great fill. Sorry, @rondo, but sometimes the DOD is just there for the, uh, yeah, you know. MINAJ gets the nod. ITSOK; we'll return to talent tomorrow. Birdie--nah, what the heck. Eagle.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

The word “sneakers” (“sneaks” in the puzzle) for tennis shoes ends at the Mississippi River, maybe even at the Delaware! Certainly don’t find it out here in Tejas.

Diana, LIW 3:21 PM  

To get the theme, in all of its forms, and answer them all correctly. To do that. And then to have ROK? mess you up. That's not a puzzle. What the fork is roku. And IRAn is just as close to Turkey, making the last row, the very last row, a non-puzzle "guess what I'm thinking" letdown.

Boo hoo. Or maybe just boo?

Diana, LIWFC, not a roku

leftcoast 3:26 PM  

Lots of trickiness here. To be expected of Erik A. and Andy K., and they delivered.

Got several AAHS while uncovering the triple-duty(!) theme and single-duty JUMPER revealer (the latter after a quick but late check)

Three complete lines producing, e.g., HOP, HOP ON POP, and ECHO PARK. The other two were just as good, if not better. Hard to beat that.

Alas, was tripped up by NORI (unknown) and IN PEN (it's in pen and ink, please, not just pen). The three dashed "clues" weren't any help.

But again, close enough for leisure work.

tingod 1:38 PM  

Yes. rocky TV box. Many smart TVs come with it built in.

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