Bean popular in East Asia / THU 8-29-19 / Biblical figure who walked with God / Teacher in une école / Cause for combatants confusion / Protein found in muscles

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (4:53)

THEME: blank OR blank — themers are familiar phrases following the pattern "___ OR ___"; clues all take the form of [Word that can complete (some all-caps word that is missing consecutive letters)]:

Theme answers:
  • GIVE OR TAKE (17A: Word that can complete CARE___R)
  • IN OR OUT (27A: Word that can complete SH___ED)
  • FRIEND OR FOE (38A: Word that can complete DE___)
  • DO OR DIE (49A: Word that can complete ___TING)
  • BOOM OR BUST (61A: Word that can complete ___ER)
Word of the Day: ENOCH (50D: Biblical figure who "walked with God") —
Enoch (/ˈnək/ (About this soundlisten)EE-nuhk) is of the Antediluvian period in the Hebrew Bible. Enoch was son of Jared and fathered Methuselah. This Enoch is not to be confused with Cain's son Enoch(Genesis 4:17). 
The text of the Book of Genesis says Enoch lived 365 years before he was taken by God. The text reads that Enoch "walked with God: and he was no more; for God took him" (Gen 5:21–24), which some Christians interpret as Enoch's entering Heaven alive
Enoch is the subject of many Jewish and Christian traditions. He was considered the author of the Book of Enoch and also called Enoch the scribe of judgment. The New Testament has three references to Enoch from the lineage of Seth (Luke 3:37, Hebrews 11:5, Jude 1:14–15). (wikipedia)
• • •

Felt like I flew through this, and my time was certainly on the fast side for me, but weirdly my Thursday times have been remarkably consistent over the past four months: all timed solves between 4:24 and 6:02. Only reason I find this weird is that I think of Thursday having a very wide-ranging level of difficulty, in that it's the gimmicky puzzle of the week and those gimmicks can sometimes be very hard to discover. Usually, once you discover them, the puzzle gets real easy, but the discovering can take an awful lot of time. Only Monday and Tuesday solving times have a narrower range—not surprising, as those are uniformly easy. OK, back to this specific puzzle. The theme answers are pretty dull, but the cluing provides an interesting twist. Narrows the field of acceptable answers considerably. Still, not sure those clues can be considered flashy or even interesting. Once you tumble to the concept here (that the "Word" is actually a pair of options), then for the rest of the themers, you don't really need the clues—just use pattern recognition from crosses to figure out common ___ OR ___ answers. I certainly never did the word math (until after I was done). Theme seems like something a constructor's gonna like more than a solver.

The fill is mostly reasonable, but it's got some subpar moments. I know the [Fittings under the sink] as traps, not U-BENDS, which is totally new to me. MAITRE is kind of a long foreign word. Had POSH for PISH because why wouldn't I? (10A: "Nonsense!") SW corner is chock full o' crosswordese. GAWP at it, why don't you? Rest of the grid has its fair share, but that corner, yikes. Starts with PRO RATA and just ... keeps going. The ENOCH / ACTIN / SOTO / SSNS area isn't terribly lovely either. My favorite answers of the day were ADZUKI (delicious), FOG OF WAR (38D: Cause for combatants' confusion), and POP OFF. I thought the [Raiders' org.] might be AFC or NFL, but having EATS in place already meant that the "F" in both those options would've resulted in a word starting TF- for 47D: Service easy to break? (TEASET), so I scrapped those and tried DEA. Bingo. Besides the PISH, U-BENDS, and ENOCH areas, I didn't have much trouble at all. Do people know SPERRY? Top-Siders were a huge fashion trend when I was in middle school. Had to have the real thing or you'd get teased. My god middle school in the '80s was a classist hellhole of viciousness. I've never been more miserable. Luckily I had MTV. A boy's best friend is his MTV. Anyway, good day.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. my wife notes (correctly, I think) that DEFRIEND (!?!) (see 38A) is not a thing people actually say. I gotta believe "unfriend" beats DEFRIEND by an enormous margin, ordinary usage-wise. As far as I can recall, I've heard "unfriend" nearly exclusively (as a term meaning "to drop someone as a Friend, particularly on the social media platform called Facebook"). Anyway, this is all to say that if you found the clue on FRIEND OR FOE confusing, you're certainly not alone.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:02 AM  

I’m always glad to learn a new word but must admit I GAWPed at 59A for a long time before deciding to google it to try to figure out where I was wrong. When I found out it was, in fact, GAWP I immediately applied for membership in the Georgia Association of Water Professionals so I can say “GAWP” as often as I like.

RAD2626 12:20 AM  

Clever theme and concept. Took me what seemed forever to get. The “OR”s were the golden gate. Lots of writeovers: GApe before GAWP, Vice before VEEP, PoSH before PISH, and U-riNgS before U-BENDS. And embarrassed to admit, I did not know ADZUKI and had to guess at the D since I also thought NFL made sense. With all that, thought the puzzle was great fun and like all of Jeff Chen’s in my view clean and eminently fair. Nice Thursday.

puzzlehoarder 12:30 AM  

A tougher than average Thursday. This came across as convoluted just for the sake of it. UBEND is a debut because it came from somewhere other than under a sink and the constructor should grease it up and put it right back. ADZUKI had to be worked around even more but at least it's something I'd like to learn.

The theme did little for me but I did get in my share of puzzling to get a clean grid.

Jonathan Tomer 12:31 AM  

This one was mostly pretty good, but I'm surprised you didn't have anything unpleasant to say about I BEFORE E. I certainly did.

jae 12:57 AM  

On the tough side. I usually like Jeff’s work, but this one didn’t really do it for me. There were some fine long downs but the theme seems a tad off in places...DEFOE..kind of an outlier.

Famous Mortimer 1:32 AM  

Anybody else as confused as me about DEFOE? I can accept DEFRIEND (though I think “unfriend” is more common these days). But I’m not aware of DEFOE as anything other than a surname.

Greg Charles 1:38 AM  

Pish and bosh could be synonymous, but not posh.

albatross shell 2:25 AM  

Fun puzzle and plenty difficult by my standards. Mostly filled stuff in all around the themes until OR DIE showed up. By then I had enough TO get the rest of the theme answers and the remaining fill around them, except for the Southern corners where I finally got TARZAN to complete the ADZUKI bean, delicious or not, I did not know it. And in the other corner got the wonderful phrase for the horrid, FOGOFWAR, which solved the neither agog nor gape problem with the unknown GAWP, which certainly looks and sounds like it would fill the bill. The theme answers individually may not flash, but they sure do as a group. Pairs of common no nonsense stark single-syllable opposites. Done well.

SINKORSWIM WINORLOSE LOVEORHATE but they do not clue very well. Hmmmm.

Yes doffer is a word.

chefwen 2:44 AM  

The word easy didn’t figure into our solve at all. I had so many incorrect answers starting off, I was amazed that we were able to finish without a cheat, it started with RAni at 1A, PoSH 10A, Utraps 34A, yip before ARF, GApe before GAWP and arrs before ETAS. This was a two glasses of wine solve, but we had fun and that’s the whole idea, right?

Still waiting for my Rebus Thursday. Maybe next week.

Travel Bum 3:30 AM  

I’m sure this has been discussed at some point in the past, but RBI is a plural (RunS Batted In). RBIS is simply redundant. And yes, I do tend to be excessively picky.

Phil 3:32 AM  

So the theme (I didn’t catch this from Rex’s explanation) Word, not words that would have to include both, that can fill in the gap. The resultant words have absolutely no relationship, correct? @albatross 2:25 example would but these don’t.

I must be missing something...why are they all Caps. Why is it pretty much arbitrary and without any relationship. they aren’t choices or alternatives. pretty much a nahunh not aha theme. But rex seems to have no problem with it. Must be soft spot for JeffChen or more likely I just didn’t get it.

Simon David Sassoon 6:03 AM  

No fun at all! Dreadful theme and definitely no cleverness here.

mmorgan 6:13 AM  

I liked this — it was challenging and fun — but I Naticked on A_ZUKI/_EA. Never heard of the former (strange but true) and I figured the latter was some sports league. But otherwise, I enjoyed this and thought the theme answers were very clever — and interesting in the way that familiar basic phrases could fit with the letters given in the clues.

Lewis 6:13 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:15 AM  

Jeff nicely balanced the common-sounding theme answers with interesting downs: MURMUR, POPOFF, REPOSE, SOJOURN, FOG OF WAR, and I even liked the playful I BEFORE E (which I was surprised to learn has been a NYT answer three times before). Then there was some smile-producing cluing (ARGUED, TARZAN, TEA, RINGTONE). On top of that was the clever not-done-before theme -- and constructors need to be given great credit coming up with such themes, IMO -- taking common _____ or _____ phrases to another level.

So, for me, there was a lot to like here and plenty of grit to satisfy my love of figuring things out. That grit ended after I filled out a theme answer, but it took me a very likable while to get to that point. Thank you, Jeff!

Sam Buggeln 6:31 AM  

For once I agree with Rex that those word-structures, though clearly rare, are not particularly chuckleworty in that Sunday-puzzle way. Though they did deliver the nice “aha” moment where I got the gimmick midway and could fill them all in (with help from crosses). Did anyone else stall both on ENOCH/ACTIN, both quite obscure, *and* ADZUKI/DEA? If you don’t know the bean, the acronym could be a lot of things. In the end I ran the alphabet— at least D comes early! When Jeff Chen writes a puzzle, where do we turn for the balanced and mild-mannered critique of it? He should sub someone into his blog.

Brett 6:50 AM  

Can someone explain 23 and 24 across to me? Thanks!

Paul Emil 6:53 AM  

If you had seen the film Dead Poets Society....

Hungry Mother 7:11 AM  

Super quick this morning. I didn’t even finish my first cup of coffee. Nice and easy theme helped.

kitshef 7:19 AM  

Certainly enjoyed the theme, but expect more of a struggle on a Thursday. Not a single over-write today.

SPERRY was a complete unknown. Ditto for ADZUKI. Although I had no trouble with it, ADZUKI crossing DEA seems a bit unfair – weird foreign word crossing an initialism.

For whatever reason could not get Admiral Halsey out of my brain for SGT. Wrong band.

Bonus themers: IBEF OR EE, S OR ES, PR OR ATA.

Old guy in Nampa 7:41 AM  


Suzie Q 7:57 AM  

I needed to do quite a bit of hop-scotching before seeing the theme and then enjoyed trying to fill in the blanks. Fun enough.
Liked the clue for Santas and the trickiness of ringtone.
Pish reminded me of a quirky imaginative book that used to be on my shelf, Pish Posh Said Hieronymus Bosch.
BFF is one of those texting things I really don't like. This one seems particularly shallow because I think the second F is supposed to be Forever. Yeah, right.
I did not know the bean either.
I don't get the "friend or foe" answer.
Hey, isn't friend a repeated word because of BFF? I guess that's being too picky.

Luther Kinney 8:23 AM  

My 15 year old daughter wore Sperry's last year. I think they are back out now, not sure.

Lewis 8:39 AM  

Here is one of my periodic PBS's (puzzle-based stumper):

40D, PRORATA, looks like a theme answer in that it takes the "_____ or _____" form. Of course, it could not be a theme answer because it is not a common phrase, but let's pretend, for the purposes of this problem, that PR OR ATA is. What is a clue you could give for it, like one of Jeff's "Word that can complete..." clues?

If you get the answer, don't spoil it for others by writing it down, but you can post the parts of speech of the two words formed. As an example, the two words formed from 38A are DEFRIEND and DEFOE, which are a verb and a noun.

Answer coming later this afternoon.

GILL I. 8:41 AM  

Oh how did I love thee? Let me count the ways....zippadeedoodaded through this and smiled.....
GIVE OR TAKE gave me the Thursday squeak I look for. FRIEND OR FOE, second squeak. Do you suppose Jeff is referring to Daniel DE FOE? You know...from Robinson Crusoe fame?
I thought I knew my cool beans. ADZUKI yaki? No it's the same as the English mung bean. Yes, delicious but I like beans. They are, after all, the magical fruit.
I really didn't have any hang-ups other than my beans. Didn't want it to end. I love Jeff Chen.
I won't tell another TARZAN joke...if @Mohair Sam sees it, he'd probably PISH me.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

Clue is Namely and answer is "For One" meaning as an example

jau 8:53 AM  

What do defriend and defoe mean?

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

I found one possible answer that forms an adjective and a noun.


Z 9:04 AM  

Chen is one of those constructors who never manages to interest me. It’s a taste thing, he looks at these OR phrases and notices that each half can be part of a longer word with common letters and goes “cool.” My reaction on the other hand is *yawn*. Ooh, looky, words are made up of letters. B.F.D. (no, that F does not stand for “friend”) So, if you like this, good for you. The theme just does nothing for me.

Hand up for not knowing ADZUKI, so I had to run all 26 letters to get to the Z in TARZAN and finish the puzzle. Not a single writeover, so not hard in that respect, but it felt like it took me forever to get a foothold and finally get IN OR OUT and suss the theme. Hand up for looking at the singular “Word” in the clues and still not understanding why it isn’t plural.

@Famous Mortimer - I think the surname is the answer.

@Greg Charles - It seems to me that “PISH posh” or just PISH work. Not PoSH and not boSH. But they are sort of nonsense words so I’m not sure there is a definitive correct usage.

@Travel Bum - It is common to pluralize initialisms with the terminal S. So Runs Batted In becomes RBIS and Attorneys General becomes AGS. No one ever says R’sBI or A’sG nor does anyone treat them like “sheep.” And, yes, this fight has been had here before.

@Phil - I think that’s it and I agree with you. I will note that Rex most definitely does not have a soft spot for Chen. In the desktop version of the blog at the very bottom are always a couple of “labels.” Click on the constructor’s name and the ten most recent posts about that constructor’s puzzles will appear. Read a couple and you’ll quickly see that “soft spot” does not apply.

pmdm 9:13 AM  

I could only solve the puzzle after a pleasant AHA moment. Actually I had two AHA moments: the first (entries in ____ or ____ format) helped me solve the puzzle. The second (the two words both fit into the clue) didn't really help me solve the puzzle since the entry answers were obvious to me from the visible letters. But the second AHA moment did result in some admiration for Chen's efforts. (In actuality, his computer programming efforts.)

Sharp's write up is quite good. Proof that he is able to comment on a Chen puzzle without rage. Please remember that.

Nothing special but a welcome challenge. Can't complain. On to yard work.

QuasiMojo 9:16 AM  

I had no idea what was going on and screwed up "royally" by putting in RANI up top which became RANA (I never looked at it again) and kept getting the DNF "ringtone." Eventually the J appeared magically after coming here.

The abbreviation for French in the "Deja" clue had me looking for an abbreviated French term for already. Lost a lot of time playing around with that. Merde alors!

GAWP is oldtime crosswordese. Don't any of you who find it ODDER than "Gape" remember it?

Nice to wake up to visions of canker SORES. Thanks for the Balmy clue.

I wanted CANNED laughs and stew. Hearty? PISH!

Can't say that I've ever eaten an ADZUKI bean. I'm still the guy who removes garbanzo beans from his salads.

I did appreciate the IKEA clue. I went to one for the first time just to buy some Swedish meatballs and couldn't find my way out! I almost needed a panic button. Luckily a friendly staff member showed me the secret passage that bypasses the endless labyrinths of displays for things I would never want or need. My motto that day was SHOP FREE OR DIE.

Nancy 9:24 AM  

UBENDS and ADZUKI were great big "Huhs?" for me and I have no idea who ARIANA Grande is.
Otherwise I found the puzzle on the easyish side for a Thursday. I also thought it was clever and imaginative and fun. Yes, deFOE is a proper name and not a word and is therefore a bit of a cheat, but if it's in the service of greater theme density, I'd give it a pass.

Some nice clues for SANTAS, SERIFS, TARZAN, BIPEDS, RINGTONE, ARGUED and TEA SET. Think the ARF clue (54A) is a bit of a stretch. If you've ever been the captive audience of a small dog who's ARFing, you won't think the bark is "thin" at all. You'll think it's loud as hell and extremely annoying. I much prefer the full-throated, good-natured bark of, say, a Golden Retriever.

Enjoyed the puzzle a lot.

Sir Hillary 9:26 AM  

Overall, this works pretty well. Novel theme. Some interesting fill -- FOGOFWAR, IBEFOREE, POPOFF, ADZUKI (totally new to me). Some good clues -- for DISBAR, TEASET (another tennis reference!) and SANTAS.

Unfortunately, the central themer is by far the weakest. OK, I get that DEFRIEND is a social media thing, even though it only gets 393K hits when I Google it (that's not a lot, right?). But DEFOE? Ya mean Daniel? Come on, that's no good.

Special kudos to @Rex for embedding a great song from one of the most underrated bands of the '80s, leaving unsaid that its title is a Word that can complete ___OUT.

Joe Dipinto 9:40 AM  

@Lewis -- adjective and noun. There's an answer in the puzzle that has the extra letters situated identically to where they would be in your answer(s).

This was kind of a fun theme idea. The non-theme fill isn't too exciting but there's been worse. I like I BEFORE E and FOG OF WAR. I hate PARM as a shortening of parmigiana. And I don't like the dish with chicken. Veal or eggplant only.

I say R-A
Rag Mop!

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

RBI can be used in a singular manner, as in: "Sacrifice fly to right field, that will score the runner on third---give Smith an RBI" (run) batted in.

RooMonster 9:50 AM  

Hey All !
Word that can complete _ING (Hint: Holiday) **

Liked this puz from Jeff. Seems like not his best polished work, but there is a lot of theme crammed in here, so he'll get a slight pass. :-)

Took me a minute to grok the theme wanting two words, got it at GIVE OR TAKE, then went looking for the other ORs to make solving easier. The outlier for me is FRIEND OR FOE. DEFRIEND is a word? It gets the red squiggly line as I type it. For DEFOE, I was thinking Willem, the actor. You know who he is.

Had some pretty cool wrongness in the SE. dINGdONg, which got me dARwin for TARZAN. I think I like dARwin better! That freaking bean, wha? Never heard of an ADZUKI bean. Same as others, nfl, afc, DEA. Alphabet run on that till the D clicked.

Final letter in was the I of ACTIN/MIN. Haven't heard ACTIN as a muscle protein before. So that square was a @Z's whack-a-vowel moment. Decided MIN made the most sense for the calculus calculation, and got the Happy Music. And another arms in the air with a "Yes" yell for good measure!

UBENDS are fittings? OK. wanted UpipeS. Wanted elbows at first.

Seven F's! Wow. I'm aGAWP at that! :-)



Carola 9:57 AM  

Easy here. A tentative RAJA was confimed by its Downs, yielding me GIVE, and the neighboring ORB showed me the this-OR-that theme. I enjoyed trying to get the rest with as few crosses as possible.

Because CAREFREE crossed GIVE OR TAKE, I thought there was going to be another level to the theme, as in the grid GIVE and TAKE had been stripped of the CARE in the clue and were thus CARE-FREE. But IN OR OUT soon disabused me of that notion.

Do-over: GApe; new to me: ACTIN; nicest surprise: TARZAN (with just the Z in place, I'd feared "geeZer" and was going to get irate about ageist stereotypes.

The barbaric YAWP 10:06 AM  

SPERRYs are indeed a thing and have been as recently as the mid-2010s. My kids were in a Catholic middle school with uniforms (of course). And while I appreciate the uniform as a way to "equalize" everyone and diminish any kind of separation due to what a family can afford for clothes, what really happens is that those things that students CAN choose to wear (shoes, mostly) become the focal point of "status." Where a bystander might see a sea of plaid skirts and white shirts, a Catholic student will see only shoes. By the time you get to HS, it's less about the shoes and more about the car you drive.

I'm with Z on this puzzle. JC's puzzles just fall flat to me, like they are trying too hard or something. I really can't put my finger on it except that usually (mostly), after I'm done, I don't remember too much about it and don't care to. It's a personal thing and to each his/her own, but you know...comments section.

I had Amino before ACTIN, which obscured ENOCH and RINGTONE...those two answers forced me to abandon Amino and see the light.

GAWP is awful. That may be an example of JC trying too hard. I suppose GAWP is a "word," like "PISH" is a word, but I can think of a few times where PISH was used in movies or friends would say it ironically...but GAWP? There's Whitman's "barbaric YAWP," but seriously, gawp is just too too.

OBOE used as a phonetic letter seems redundant...why not just say "O?" I would have said, "O, as in ROUE," or "O, as in COULD." But "O, as in OBOE" is like saying, "O, as in O."

TJS 10:22 AM  

Rex has a soft spot for Jeff Chen ??? Har de har har!!

Hard to believe there's not a better puzzle sitting in storage than this one for a Thursday. I guess "Defoe" got a pass because you would have to scrap the whole puzzle rather than fix it.

Newboy 10:34 AM  

Nancy said it already, so just me too. Gotta love any puzzle that balances the FOGOFWAR with SANTA and TARZAN.

pabloinnh 10:56 AM  

@Quasi--Loved the idea of RANA for 1A, Spanish for "frog",being an "Indian royal", maybe some "kiss me I'm really a RAJA" involved. Also, "Shop Free or Die" is practically our state motto, no sales tax. No income tax either, but the state finds ways to pay for things (coughpropertytaxcough).

As a plumber of necessity, I am familiar with UBEND. Also found GAWP to be close enough to the barbaric yawp to make sense. Less fun with the PISH/POSH conundrum, as I spent too much time trying to make OBE turn into something to do with British rule.

Liked this one, in that it took some doing to find what was going on and doing that helped to finish the solve, which for me makes a good puzzle.

Thanks JC, nice work. And like others I'm still waiting for the next Thursday rebus.

jberg 10:57 AM  

It's good to be back! My son had a sudden child-care emergency yesterday, and I spent the morning playing Clue with his kids. Lots of fun, but no time to come here.

OK, today-- I liked it, though I agree that DEFRIEND is off (and DEFOE is an outlier, the only proper name).

When I used to visit my son in Japan, if you wanted ice cream you generally got two choiced: green tea or adzuki (often called "red bean" instead). So I knew it pretty well -- but what I didn't know was that it has that D in it, needed the crosses for that.

"I did not have sex with that monkey."


Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Never got the theme. Seemed complete nonsense to me. I THINK I get it now, but it's pretty obscure, as themes go.

Lewis 11:05 AM  

@joeD -- Great catch on that puzzle answer with the same extra letters!

SethC 11:13 AM  

I don't think that is necessarily true.

Sir Hillary 11:32 AM  

@Lewis -- If I'm correct, there's also a clue containing geography closely approximating that of one of your completed words.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

couldn't get past the 'theme' stated in the singular. thus, who cares about the puzzle?

QuasiMojo 11:53 AM  

@Pablo I'm glad my gaffe got a chuckle from you. Do you live in NH? Or OR? I could do with no sales tax. Sadly the no
Income tax is irrelevant these days. Unless I finally sell one of my puzzles!

MJB 11:56 AM  

We always called beans the musical fruit, not magical.

Frog Prince Kisser 12:02 PM  

@ pabloinnh 10:56 AM

Thanks for the mention!!! 😄

Bryan 12:02 PM  

The problem with "defoe" referring to the actor Willem is that his last name is actually spelled Dafoe, with an A. I have never heard or seen the word "defoe" in my life. And I definitely agree that "unfriend" is more in-the-language than "defriend."

Joseph M 12:06 PM  

Primo puzzle which was *more or less* fun to solve. Theme had me stumped for quite a while. Finally got it with FRIEND OR FOE.

Liked I BEFORE E, which I’ve never seen before in a crossword, and the two types of GRANDE preceders. Also enjoyed much of the tricky cluing, particularly that for SERIFS, TARZAN, and SANTAS.

However, what I have under my sink is a P trap not a U BEND. Never heard of SPERRY shoes but I guess some BIPEDS must wear them. Not sure if I *love or hate* GAWP. Ditto for PISH. I have never referred to any *chicken or veal* dish as PARM. And I thought ACT IN was something you do with a play.

kitshef 12:06 PM  

@Lewis - I've taken a different route on your stumper by emailing you solutions for PR OR ATA and for S OR ES. I'm struggling a bit with IBEF OR EE, though.

jb129 12:07 PM  

Tough for me - but rewarding (for me) once I got it.

Phil 12:08 PM  

@barbaric 10:06.
today's phonetic alphabet uses OSCAR. Both are used as replacements not a comparison helper “as in”. e.g. airpilot speak. Going to Sierra Foxtrot Oscar. SFO.

Doc John 12:08 PM  

Maryanne, the character that the amazing Christine Baranski played on the sitcom "Cybill," would say "Oh PISH" frequently. So I enjoyed that clue.

CDilly52 12:51 PM  

@unknown 6:53 am replying to @Joaquin 12:02. Isn’t the Dead Poets phrase “barbaric yAWP??”

Fred Romagnolo 12:51 PM  

Hands up for dARwiN instead of tARzaN. Cute comment,@jberg. I still prefer RAJAh. My ultimate DNF was ADZUKI, DEA. UBENDS works, but like most people, I say traps.

Masked and Anonymous 12:54 PM  

If I'da had to guess who made this ThursPuz, I wouldn't have guessed the Chenmeister. He seems to be doin a lotta weird stuff in this puz that he tells other constructioneers they shoulda backed off on, in his daily write-ups. I [GAWP OR ARF]-ed at this puppy a lot, in disbelief.

Cool theme idea, but with a sprinklin of raised-by-wolves themer choices. No problem with the theme OR-answers themselves, but then there were some of those accompanyin clues …

* CARE___R. An OK choice, here. Nuthin flashy, since stuff like CARETAKE CAREGIVE each is just another word tacked onto CARE. Addin -R on at the end is kinda yawny, but at least U are tackin letters on at both ends.
* SH___ED. Good one. SHINED. SHOUTED. Adds stuff at both ends that changes the seed words -- but again, addin -ED on at the end is sorta an anticlimactic eazy-ender. Enjoyed that he dredged stuff outta the shed, tho.
* DE___. Not impressed at all, here. Ow de Speration themer of the litter. DEMORE OR DELESS.
* ___TING. If you're gonna suddenly bail & start addin stuff at just one end, this is much better than the DE___ one, at least. DOTING & DIETING. Solid find.
* ___ER. Moo-cow pick of the themer litter, at first gawp. What a surprise, that U can add -ER onto an OR-pair of words. Like TRICK OR TREAT, say (yo, @Roo). PUSH OR PULL. MOO OR COW, etc. [Actually there ain't many good OR-pairs, to tack yer -ERs onto, I'll hafta grant. Who knew.]

Learned new stuff, with SPERRY and ADSUKI. They were nice & gettable from crosses, with the usual necessary extra-nanoseconds price.

fave fillins: Any puzgrid with UBENDS, MURMUR & TAR/TARZAN in it qualifies as acceptable. [But gotta har, GAWP.]
staff weeject picks: FOR & ONE. Weeject tag team! Like.

Clues today were a bit anemic. U did have yer "Grande preceder" deja-pair, I guess. Nuthin wrong with any of em, but it just seemed like the ThursJoint needed goosin up, a little. Example: {Local dive where you can bump into de friend or de foe??} = DIS BAR.

Thanx for this hearty ThursPuz mixture, JC. Led m&e to laugh & stew, a smidge more than regular; always a good sign. Enjoyed the unexpected Jaws of Themelessness, btw. Keep up the weird work, dude.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Z 1:05 PM  

The AVCX puzzle today is the kind of theme that makes me smile. Actual word play and all the themers are related. I’m pretty sure 59A refers to my beloved baseball team. AVCX Spoiler.

Teedmn 1:12 PM  

A fun Thursday with a little spice added by my printo (typo in longhand?) of AbAB in the NW. This had me speculating that 2D ____ Grande might be ABuelA Grande (great-grandmother in Spanish?) That it didn't fit well with GIVE OR TAKE was one thing that ARGUED against it. Finally getting 23A and thus 24A led me to see my error.

And seeing I BEFORE E in 11D with _BEFO_EE, while thinking of rules for those folks who live in England was a major aha for me. Otherwise, the minor Trig substitute for Calc briefly giving me sIN at 62D was the only other writeover.

I thought the theme answers became harder as one descended in the puzzle. There are a lot more things that fit ___TING or ____ER than fit CARE___R or SH___ED. This was a plus for me.

Jeff Chen, nice job on the unique puzzle trick.

Lewis 1:42 PM  

@sirhillary -- I don't see it, but that doesn't mean it isn't there! Also, there could be more than one solution.

Wanderlust 2:14 PM  

There was some good stuff here, but DEFOE kind of ruined it. The clue says “word” not “name.” I looked up DEFOE to see if I was missing something but all it had was the author Daniel (not the actor Willem, who is Dafoe). Then I thought about whether this could be a new expression playing off DEFRIEND, as in “I used to hate him but now I kind of like him, so I have defoed him.” Anyway, I can’t believe that was accepted and that Rex didn’t mention it. Some clever cluing though!

Masked and Anonymous 2:35 PM  

For any DEFOE nay-sayers:
The sneaky Shortzmeister did, legally-speakin, cover all the customary slippery escape-clauses, in FRIENDORFOE's clue.
{Word that can complete DE___} is FOE. FOE is a word. FOE can complete DE___, givin us DEFOE. QED.
OR, FRIEND is a word that can sorta complete DE___, givin us DE-FRIEND [shudder].

M&Also, for the de-fense.

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

You are right. "Magical" makes no sense.

OffTheGrid 2:50 PM  

I don't get all the fuss about DEFOE. Are not names words? If not, then every crossWORD puzzle is crap because many answers are names. (Jermaine Defoe, soccer player)

PhilM 3:14 PM  

Writing as a Brit, gawp and U-bend were gimmes. Some dictionary definitions mention gawp as U.K. slang. U-bends were developed by Brit Thomas Crapper of lavatorial fame in 1880, being an improvement on the previous S-bend invented by Scot Alexander Cumming in 1775.

Not sure about the uproar about Defoe: aren't proper nouns a subset of words, not a separate class?

Harryp 3:14 PM  

I call the fittings under a sink a Ptraps, though they are Ubends. That slowed the solve considerably, but O.K.

xitixen 3:21 PM  

Random thoughts re. 46D ADZUKI:

Growing up there was a Saturday morning cartoon featuring the biggest star to ever hit the streets of Tokyo. And its buildings, come to think of it.

Each episode opened with a theme sung in increasingly bombastic bass tones:
"... forty stories high! Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah His head in the sky! Godzilla! Godzilla! Godzilla! Godzilla!..."

Then wafting in from the left like a cherry blossom on a gentle breeze... "and Godzoooookey...."

Godzilla had a little Pete's-Dragon-looking nephew or something who played Scrappy Do to Godzilla's Scoob. Together with some disposable human crew they fought crime or conducted building inspections or something that let the Big Guy breathe fire and the Little Imp to snort out wisps of smoke in an adorably punchable way. There wasn't a lot of plot to get in the way of the "humor" and looped destruction footage. Never was a sidekick more hated yet forgettable. Godzuki now and forever.

I may have that all mixed up by now. Such is my drift down memory lane. Your mileage may vary.


So there we SITS absentmindedly spooning our bowls of sugary EATS while waiting for cartoon monsters to BOOMORBUST some generic city like a pale blue TEASET. The military was there in the form of some SGT who may have been FRIENDORFOE - I don't recall. Bunch o' BIPEDS ACTIN like the lumbering green giant was a grumpy neighbor just waitin to POPOFF some fiery tirade. The ol' POMP-n-stomp with his lil' BFF that we all wanted to swat to his own spinoff we could ignore.


pabloinnh 3:54 PM  

@Quasi-I'm in NH, and the lack of an income tax doesn't mean much to retired me either. Do have some acres and a cabin with a waterfront, which is where the property taxes kick in. Ouch.

@Frog Prince Kisser-You're certainly welcome. Wasn't there an old saying about the number of frogs you have to kiss before you get a prince? Was it zillions?

Lewis 5:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 5:20 PM  

Solution to my 8:39 a.m. PBS (puzzle-based stumper):

There may be other answers, but the one I came up with was --

[Word that complete S_____Y]

Thus, PR OR ATA makes either SPRY or SATAY.

@joeD and @kitshef got it. @Sir Hillary -- I'm not sure if you got it. Did you?

John Hoffman 6:03 PM  

I don’t understand this theme answers. Among others, is “BOOMER OR BUSTER” a thing? Or I s it just that they’re words?

Monty Boy 6:13 PM  

I liked this one a lot, though it took me a while to see the theme.

Am I the only one who entered POOP for 21A - Number two? Thinking about the clue "Number two graphic on your phone" from a couple weeks ago: POOPEMOJI. Crosses fixed this one for me. The answers could be considered synonyms by some folks.

Anonymous 6:22 PM  

WTF is satay?

RooMonster 6:29 PM  

@John Hoffman
The theme is common ___ or ___ phrases. So your example is BOOM OR BUST which is a common phrase. The clues required the theme to be tied together by something, so the clues were made to be able to add letters to either word to come up with words that are real words. They don't have to make sense with the attached letters. So, BOOMER OR BUSTER isn't the thing.

Hopefully you understood that! :-)


Space Is Deep 7:22 PM  

I found this challenging and loved it! Many aha moments. A very slow Thursday for me. Started at work over lunch. Finished at home, sipping on a martini.

xyz 8:02 PM  

I just found this as uninteresting and basically the blanks made me lose interest. No pop, no sizzle no point to it at all.

I'm certain some loved it.

My life has had minutes stolen from it.

Z 9:40 PM  

@Philm and @OfftheGrid - I don’t know if it’s an uproar, but as the only surname DEFOE sticks out. I’d categorize it as suboptimal.

Faceliftdr 10:50 PM  

RBI is a singular entity so RBIS is correct. It is an entity separate from the abbreviation.

Truthfully this puzzle sucked. Beyond contrived The fill was mediocre and just so awkward

Faceliftdr 11:03 PM  

RBI is an entity separate from the abbreviation. So 4 of them are 4 runs batted in but in baseball parlance they are 4 RBIs. So the plural if RBI is RBIs with small s if you really want to nit pick. Like a BB is a base on balls but it is singular. 4 walks or 4 base on balls is nit referred to as 4 bases in ball but 4 base on balls so its BBs not BsB.

Finally this puzzle just sucked. So poorly contrived. Ich. The fill was just as contrived. Fog of War. Yuck. Even after I figured it out I felt deceived.

Seeg 11:13 PM  

Yes, me too.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Beck - "Defriended"

Link to image:

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Burma Shave 10:41 AM  


We ARGUED on ABET, “What FOR?”
Neither FRIENDORFOE will MURMUR, “Why?”,


spacecraft 12:25 PM  

Oh no, the spellcasters are back! Save us!! To the puz: this one doesn't get the "easy" rate, not even close. WOEs (for me) abound. FOGOFWAR is a thing?? Yeah, I looked it up, post solve, and it's a real expression. Ne. Vah. Heardofit. Don't know SPERRY at all. ADZUKI?? Suzuki's brother? No, it's a vegetable. who knew? UBENDS also new to me but inferable.

Then there are the clues. Mr. Chen tries really hard to keep this out of M-T-W range--and succeeds admirably. The standout example: "Thin bark" for ARF. what in the world does "thin" mean here?? What would a "fat" bark be--"Woof?" This adjective makes not one iota of sense here. I don't know where his head was at when he used that word.

Major misdirect: Five-letter Star Trek cast member, middle K = RiKer. Of course, "cast" can refer either to the actor or the character, a fair enough clue, but it caused me a writeover. Apologies, George.

I had that K in place because the first themer occurred to me right away--possibly because it was the best and tightest of the lot. The clue said "Word..." not "Words," so I needed six more spaces after GIVE. The light bulb was lit. Even so, I would not rate this easier than medium-challenging, because of the rest of them. SHINED?? Is that even a word? Isn't it supposed to be "SHONE?" Oh wait: "He SHINED his shoes." O-kay. Bottom line: the first one works; the others, not so much.

I like most Chen puzzles better than this. DOD is, of course, ARIANA Grande. Let's call it a par.

rondo 2:46 PM  

ThisORthat was OK. GingerORMaryann would span the grid, pick your own word as to what either would finish. Agree with OFL that it’s probably more interesting for a constructor, but it’s fine for a Thurs-puz. Better than a rebus. Pop tart ARIANA Grande, of course.

leftcoast 3:40 PM  

Just a brief rant to start: So Rex wants to tell us that this puzzle is "Easy-Medium". Yes, FOR HIM, it seems. For most of us? I doubt it. His ratings are HIS ratings of his own prowess apparently, and not really meant for us. How many of us are anywhere near his level of solving? Very, very few, I'm sure.... Okay, got that off my chest.

Here we have a potpourri of the clever, tricky, obscure, and more -- the whole kitchen sink (or what's under it) approach. Good, figured it out. And I like the puzzle and figuring it out, mostly because of that.

Theme was okay. Had some doubts about FOE (Daniel DEfoe?) and BUST (BustER Brown? BustER Keaton? BustER Crabbe?) Also about the non-theme SOJOURN clued as "stopover". Thought SOJOURN was more like the trip or travel itself.

GAWP (after gape, gawk, gasp, gaze) is covered with ink blotches. Elsewhere, It took extra time to parse and see IBEFOREE. Tested my limited French with MAITRE and DEJA, though both are pretty common. ACTIN, PARM, and MIN needed crosses.

Despite my bit of a cranky beginning, enjoyed Jeff Chen's challenging mix of stuff today.

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