Philistine-fighting king / THU 8-8-19 / Tin has been in them since 1929 / Angola's northern neighbor once

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (5:24)

THEME: THINK / TWICE (60A: With 19-Across, reconsider ... or a hint to the starts of the five starred clues) — starred clues start with a word that you have to double in order to make sense of the clue:

Theme answers:
  • WILD PITCH (17A: *Boo during a baseball game)
  • COMIC STRIPS (25A: *Tin has been in them since 1929)
  • DENTAL HYGIENIST (37A: *Tar remover)
  • LOGIC PUZZLE (51A: *Ken, for one)
  • HIGH KICKS (62A: *Can components)
Word of the Day: PEPE (1A: José, to amigos) —
One story, I guess nobody can say whether this is true or not, is that Pepe comes from the initials P.P. from the Spanish term "padre putativo" (putative father) an old way of referring to Joseph, the husband of Mary from the Bible.

A more believable explanation is that José entered Spanish as Josef or Josep.From Josep to Josepe (to avoid a final /p/) to Pepe is not a big jump as it is not uncommon for names in Spanish to form nicknames from the last phonemes of the original: e.g. Felipe to Pipe, Enrique to Quique, Guillermo to Memo, Santiago to Diego (now a name of its own).  

From Pepe we have also Pepito (i.e. little Pepe), Chepe (that's how people called my father) and Chepito. (Rafael Nájera, in response to Quora question, "Why is 'Pepe' a nickname for 'Jose'?")
• • •

Bizarre solving experience, where I had no idea what the theme was and just sort of meandered around the grid is a sad, lost way, but not in a desperate Oh-God-Help way, just in a kinda "I know the light switch is here ... somewhere ..." way, and sure enough, when I'd wandered all the way to the bottom of the grid (interlocking answers the whole way down), there it was: the switch. HIGH KICKS. So "Can" is actually "can-can." And instantly, all the other themer clues made sense, and the Thursday became a Monday, and I tore this thing apart. Scorched it. But slow start meant just a somewhat better-than-average time. The theme is so-so (!). At times, the cluing was super-clever, with great misdirection (e.g. 17A: *Boo during a baseball game). At other times, the cluing was sad and weird, with terrible misdirection (e.g. 25A: *Tin has been in them since 1929—this is not a plausible clue for anything involving the element "tin"). What took this from middle-of-the-road into negative territory for me was the revealer. That's just such a godawful, puzzle-wrecking way to place your revealer—split and upside-down. Bad enough to get a [See...] clue anywhere, ever, but to have it be up top, and yet the *second* part of the revealer, with the first part down below ... it's so ugly. So inelegant. And so (seemingly) unnecessary. Build a grid where your revealer is displayed in the order that English-reading humans actually read, preferably with pride of place in your grid—central or final, or maybe symmetrical top-to-bottom ... something, anything, but this ungainly mess.

No clue, none, that PEPE was a familiar form of José. Thought a DOG or CAT made the muddy footprint. Weird to claim a PAW made a footprint. Feet make footprints. You're thinking of a paw print. But OK. POLER and POLEBEANS should not not not be in the same grid. I have real beef with the clue for COMIC STRIPS, largely because I think of "strips" as "those things in newspapers that are actually in the form of strips," and I've never seen "Tintin" presented like that. Certainly never ever ever in American COMIC STRIPS. In the U.S., those stories come exclusively in complete book form. In the most general sense of COMIC STRIPS as just ... comics (i.e. sequential art), then sigh, fine, this clue works. I teach this stuff, so I'm definitely overthinking it, but ... "Peanuts" and "Cathy" and "Curtis" and "Baby Blues" are COMIC STRIPS. "Tintin" is something else, imho. Remembered MATTBIONDI somehow, so yay me (30D: Winner of five swimming gold medals at the 1988 Olympics) ... but had ACT before OPT at 9D: Not dither despite already having ACT in the grid (6D: Be dramatic?), so boo me. Boo-boo me, in fact.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. 14A: Company with a for-profit foundation? is AVON because AVON is a make-up company and therefore a manufacturer of ... foundation. I'm assuming.

P.P.S. 13D: Hearts that don't beat very much? ... is a very good clue (the reference is to cards, in case that somehow eluded you)

P.P.P.S. Hey, next weekend (Sat. Aug. 17) is Lollapuzzoola, one of the biggest annual crossword tournaments in the country, and the only one (that I know of) in NYC. There are still some spaces left for those who want to participate in some hardcore, in-person nerddom (actually a very fun tournament with a low-key vibe and hundreds of lovely people). But if you just want to see what tournament puzzles are like without the fear of public humiliation*, then there's also the Solve At-Home Division of the tournament, which you should get in on. Lolla and Indie 500 (in DC) are my favorite tournaments, and the only ones I participate in regularly. So come solve and say hi. Or solve at home and wish you had. Whatever. Just sign up! INFORMATION HERE.

*there's no public humiliation except that which you heap on yourself, trust me

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Brian 12:08 AM  


puzzlehoarder 12:10 AM  

An easy Thursday. Especially so once the theme was revealed. Not much to this puzzle. HADIN was the low point.

Joaquin 12:13 AM  

Best part of this puzzle: Rex's posting of Anne Murray and Glen Campbell singing "Don't Think Twice". I expected to hate it; loved it!

DK 12:15 AM  

Can someone explain OPART to me?

Swagomatic 12:39 AM  

No clue what the theme was.I

John Hoffman 12:46 AM  

I had THINK Again instead of THINK TWICE. I would have clued ELLA to connect to SCAT (singing). Funny to see CONDI in the puzzle again.

Seth Romero 12:57 AM  

Had three 'huh?' moments despite finishing the puzzle fine. Rex answered two of them. Can someone explain 65D to me?

jae 1:03 AM  

Easy-medium. Cute, fun and I learned I have no idea how to spell HYGIENIST. Liked it.

chris b 1:25 AM  

I was very proud of myself for dropping JANET EVANS for 30D. D'oh!

Also, can someone explain OPART for me?

JOHN X 1:27 AM  

This was an outstanding Thursday puzzle. I miss rebuses but I'll make do.

I got the theme down at the bottom at *Can and then went back up, but I had fun doing it. Also the longer non-themes were pretty good. I suffered in the SW and NE but I fought my through and never gave up.

I somehow knew Tin-Tin even though I don't have a degree in comic books.

Favorite answers: OILPRICES and POWERLINES and HIGHKICK.

JOHN X 2:03 AM  

And Rex, I want you to remember that my offer to treat you to a weekend at a Dallas whorehouse still stands. We should split room/board, but all the coke and booze and all the nasty stuff is 100% on me. You pay your own air/car/bus fare, both ways. Z can't come along.

Let me know when you need a real vacation.

BarbieBarbie 4:55 AM  

It’s OP ART.
And I loved this puzzle, mostly because of the consistently snaky clueing. It was never boring and packed with ahas. Great puzzle. More more more.

Sam Buggeln 5:43 AM  

Op Art. Took me ages to see it too!

Loren Muse Smith 5:59 AM  

Beastly hard for me. I almost gave up with the northeast not quite finished. I was so desperate at one point that I had actually penciled in “compost tops” as the things with tin in them. I don’t compost, don’t know from composts, so I was willing to run with it.

Finally resorting to looking at the reveal spots (I agree with Rex about their placement), I was able to sort it all out and finish. Just the right kind of Thursday, imo. Well played, Timothy.

Where I live, those POWER LINES go, bam. The sky gods are just thinking about firing up the thunder and lightning, and we lose power. And we’re on a well, so that means no water, either. It can be hideous in the summer.

This theme reminds me of the kind of reduplication we do in English where we repeat a word or phrase to make it “heavier,” more meaningful...

A: So, did you talk to your sister?
B: Yeah – I saw her briefly at breakfast.
A: No – did you talk to her talk to her?
B: Oh. That. No. Not yet. I chickened out.

A: Have you eaten today?
B: Yeah – I just had a handful of pork rinds.
B: No, I mean have you eaten eaten? I brought lunch.

I noticed IDOL crossing TOP SPOT. For one day, I’d love to be an idol and have the paparazzi follow me around. It’s my plan to be approachable, kind - but also inscrutable with a hint of sadness. I already have my outfit picked out.

School starts tomorrow. Sigh. I guess I’m happy. But not happy happy.

Lewis 6:45 AM  

A lovely original theme, spot-on Thursday difficulty, four world-class clues (for OIL PRICES, TREYS, PACE, and AVON), and a palindrome (TOP SPOT) all in one grid -- a wow for me.

The theme is tight as can be, IMO, with each doubled element consisting of three letters. I tried coming up with an answer/clue for WOO, but nothing of Timothy's quality emerged. And the concept is so clever that I didn't care that TAR is an outlier (TARTAR is a single word, while KEN KEN, CAN CAN, BOO BOO, and TIN TIN are not).

Bonuses are having a backward PACER to go along with PACE, and ELLA / ANA / ASIA / AREA / LEIA / OCHOA / and SLOVAKIA.

A true Thursday treat. Thumbs up all around. Thank you for this, Timothy!

DSM 6:55 AM  

For those who asked about OPART, and a couple of posters pointed out that it is divided-op art-I still had to look that up. It's short for optical art, which are optical illusions. Some of them appear to be moving even though they are still (i.e. moving pictures).

amyyanni 7:07 AM  

@Seth Romero, when she SAT, she was no longer STANDING. Easier than most Thursdays but still challenging enough to satisfy. The revealer helped with the solve, much appreciated.

WhatDoing 7:16 AM  

Loved this one. But then I’m someone who wants to enjoy a puzzle and meander around a bit as opposed to someone who obsesses about time. Agree that Tintin is not a comic strip. Disagree about the revealer, the top part of which turned out to be my toehold into the upper right section of this puzzle. Clueing was clever and I didn’t even mind that there were two baseball themed clues,

Rev. David Gregory 7:21 AM  

I never read Rex's posts so I have no idea what the uproar is about.

But, as if to atone for his sins, he posted links to those four awesome covers of "Don't Think Twice."

What an asshole.

kitshef 7:25 AM  

pSAT before LSAT was my only overwrite.

Very nice Thursday – hard ‘til you get the theme, and clever cluing abounds.

Agree with Rex on COMIC STRIPS being slightly off, but disagree on almost everything else. Splitting the revealer was needed today- if you get it too soon, it spoils the fun.

TOPS POT dooked me.

Lobster11 7:26 AM  

It bugged me too that the revealer started in the SW and finished in the NE. But in my case it worked out nicely because I happened to finish in the NE, and once I got TWICE I saw the theme at the next-to-last moment of my solve.

Hungry Mother 7:29 AM  

Super fast today while relaxing over coffee. More names than I like, but very fair. I liked it a lot.

btgrover 7:33 AM  

Opart? I’ve never heard of optical art, and if optical is going to be abbreviated shouldn’t the clue tell us that? Sigh.

Hungry Mother 7:42 AM  

Thankfully I don’t have a video of my Can Can dancing at the trailer park Variety Show. It was awesome.

Kitty 7:45 AM  

Op Art
Like squiggly spinning shapes

Kitty 7:46 AM  

If you’re not standing then you are sitting

Kitty 7:47 AM  

Op Art
Lots of spinning squiggles

Kitty 7:50 AM  

How does Tar Tar equal dental hygienist ?

Suzie Q 7:51 AM  

This was tough getting started but once I got rolling it was fun. I wonder how many Americans have never heard of Tin Tin.
The total of my baseball knowledge is from crosswords and I appreciate some of the colorful nicknames it has. With those in mind I was shocked that boo boo was real. That's the best you can do?
I would rather have Yogi's Jellystone friend.

QuasiMojo 7:56 AM  

My App tells me I beat my average time by the same amount of time that it took Rex to do the puzzle. I may disagree with his take on a crossword but I take my SUN HAT off to his speed solving skills.

So much interesting trivia in here today about Zaire and Slovakia and even handsome Matt Biondi. I'm a bit bored with Op Art as crossword fill especially crossing OPT. Apart/Apt would have worked too without the implied redundancy.

KATE before LEIA.

From what I understand about the Can-Can, the dance was shocking because of how much was revealed by those spirited HIGH KICKS. Perhaps a few well-placed TATS.

The theme took me by surprise since I didn't know a wild pitch is a boo boo. I was thinking maybe it was that awful meme girl. And I've never done a KenKen. That too, like PEPE, is a man's nickname. And TAR seemed adequate for what a hygienist removes, from smokers alas. But when I changed Think Again to TWICE it was like winning a game of SCAT with a pair of TREYS. Aha! GEE!

Thanks Tim for a thoroughly engaging Thursday.

MexGirl 8:11 AM  

How is ALIBI “out of sorts”????

Old guy in Nampa 8:16 AM  

Very nice.

Joaquin 8:21 AM  

I'm surprised at how many here are unfamiliar with OP ART. OTOH, the only TINTIN I ever heard of is Rin. Maybe it's another generational thing.

mmorgan 8:25 AM  

I enjoyed this a lot, but was stuck forever in the very top NE when I could not make _PAR_ work with either 9A or 9D or 13D ... until I did.

Interesting how many people here today are asking, “How is _____ the answer for ____.?” It may be my imagination, but it seems far more than usual.

I don’t really disagree with Rex’s criticisms, although those issues don’t really bother me.

I saw a wonderful exhibit of Herge’ s art in Paris 2 or 3 years ago. He did amazing work (not just Tintin) though some of it may seem offensive to us today.

Mike Herlihy 8:30 AM  

@MexGirl - ALIBI is an "out" in the sense that it's a reason you couldn't be guilty. The (important) comma after "out" is qualifying the phrase.

@Kitty - "Tartar", not "tar tar". Hygienists remove tartar during cleanings.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

From Wikipedia page on Tintin: "The success of the series saw the serialised strips published in Belgium's leading newspaper Le Soir (The Evening)."

kitshef 8:48 AM  

@Suzie Q - "Boo-boo" as used here is not a baseball nickname, but the regular definition of "a mistake". A WILD PITCH in baseball is a mistake by the pitcher.

Adam12 8:58 AM  

Other outstanding covers of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” are from Eric Clapton, Joan Baez and the great Peter, Paul and Mary. Clapton’s is improvised guitar genius, of course.

Brit Solves NYT 8:58 AM  

Predominantly an enjoyable puzzle (so much better than yesterday's offering). Fortunately Tintin is well-known here in Europe, being of Belgian origin (not too many things are).

Some nice clues and trivia. Good good.

Nancy 9:02 AM  

Clever, crunchy, witty, delightful. Absolutely loved this puzzle.

Two wrong answers, confidently written in, may have made this harder for me than it was for you. Stan mETZ at 39D kept me from seeing DENTAL HYGIENIST. And TOP Seed at 49A kept me from seeing OIL PRICES, SLOVAKIA or TATS (42D). I had T-dS and was looking for some lovely "parlor" furniture.

I needed the wonderful revealer, which I stumbled across late, to understand the clues. I then re-read them all and had a huge "Aha Moment". My favorite was "tar[tar] remover".

Making this puzzle even more wonderful was the fact that there are almost no proper names at all. Fabulous job, Timothy. Thanks.

Sir Hillary 9:07 AM  

Really enjoyed this. Fun theme, some excellent long downs (MATTBIONDI, POWERLINES) and minimal junk.

Best of all, some terrific clues, notably those for PACE, TREYS, OILPRICES and ASK (the latter because of the "duh" factor). The clue for AVON was a little too cutesy for me, but a nice effort nonetheless. do you not cross-reference ELLA and SCAT?? She and GETZ are both at or near the TOPSPOT of jazz greats.

Some family history I am proud of: My law professor grandfather taught EVIDENCE to (among others) William Rehnquist, Sandra Day and Anthony Kennedy. I can claim no such feat.

@Lewis -- Nice catch on RECAP with today's PACE and after yesterday's PACERS.

@chris b -- LOL at Janet Evans. That's just unfair.

@LMS -- What an avatar! Also, I think you meant to write School starts tomorrow. PSI...

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
That's my only advice

-- "Crazy" (written by Brian Burton, Thomas Calloway and two dudes who scored a Spaghetti Western)

webwinger 9:11 AM  

Hard for me, but a real pleasure to solve. Theme was fiendishly clever. I thought splitting and placement of the revealer just right. And, as others have pointed out, terrific cluing for many fill answers as well as themers (particularly liked *Tin and *Tar). Proud of myself for managing to make sense of all the head scratching clues mentioned above, for which, of course, Google offered no help at all—a big part of the reason I don’t consider it cheating to look there when straightforward factual matters are the issue.


That made me smile as well. Glen Campbell was amazing.

Z 9:42 AM  

Because of the way I solve the puzzle I got to the second half of the revealer very early, took about 3 precious nanoseconds to ponder if it was the beginning of the clue or the beginning of the answer that would be doubled, then flew like a scarlet tanager through the rest of the puzzle. Zero writeovers.

I have to agree with Rex on the revealer placement. Running into it so early really took away much of the “Aha!” part of the Aha! moment for me. I’d have much preferred a little more struggle, and more of a chance to get the conceit on my own. Lots of clever cluing so I liked this puzzle, but the revealer placement stole some of the joy of solving from me.

To be clear, OP ART is not short for OPtical ART, it is a play off of Pop Art, so Pop Art with an optical illusion component. If memory serves (not a lot of time to look it up and verify), it was an ART movement during the whole post-modern “What is ART” era. Anyway, OP ART is a stand alone term, no need for an abbreviation indicator.

@John X - I never understood why someone would pay for something so readily gotten better and for free. Well, take that back. I have my suspicions about the kind of man who would need to pay...

@Nancy yesterday - My only fear is that you’ll use that on me.

GILL I. 9:50 AM  

Like @Rex, my start was slow. Now if @Rex would read the comments, he'd know about the PEPE padre putativo thing because @pablo and I had that same conversation on this blog. (sigh).
The only thing I disliked about the puzzle was the way the reveal was set up. Yeah, I thought it was a tad inelegant. Otherwise, what @Lobster11 said.
Had to get all the way to HIGH KICKS before the ding ding went off. Speaking of Can Can. My grandmother, who was a big fan of Ike, told me of how he invited Khrushchev (sp?) to the USofA to try and get the Premier to enjoy our country and not blow us up. He was escorted to a studio to watch the filming of CanCan starring Shirley McLane. She happened to be in the studio. Now, according to Nana, Shirley decided to do her stuff sans undies much to the gasps of the morality gods. Imagine that....What an eyeful the Russian must have had...if this is true! Maybe it worked....they never did bomb us. Yay, Shirley.
Back to the PUZZLE. When I got THINK TWICE I hauled me arse back upstairs and finished this wannabe POLE BEAN. I sat back and looked at it and thought......hmmm, this is clever and cute. My only real huh was the COMIC STRIPS. Everyone knows he needs a RIN. Wasn't he married to Lassie?
I miss PSA and the outfits the Stews wore...Remember hot pink?

pabloinnh 9:52 AM  

Well PEPE went right in, even knew its (putative) origin, and then skipped around filling in stuff I knew, ending in the SW, where THINK led to TWICE which made sense of all the one syllable clues and after that, just fun city filling in the starred clues.

Sorry about your POWERLINES, @LMS. My daddy was a lineman and every time one was a "casualty of a violent storm", the phone rang and off he went, in the middle of the night, more often than not. I understand people's frustration when the lights go out, but I tend to think of someone out there trying to turn them back on.

Baseball clues are always aces with me, although not as much fun this year as last year here in NE.

Just a great Thursday. TP. You can write me a puzzle any time.

Carola 9:56 AM  

Medium until partway into COMIC STRIPS, then a breeze. I'd have liked to have encountered more diabolical Thursday HIGH jinks, but feel I may be drifting into the Perpetually Disgruntled on Thursdays zone. Kind of think this one would have been better without the reveal, making it more of a LOGIC PUZZLE. Anyway. Nice Downs! I liked the idea of POLE BEANS as nutritional POWER LINES.

CDilly52 9:58 AM  

OP ART. Some pieces create optical illusions of “motion” when the viewer stares at the work.

JOHN X 10:00 AM  

@Z 9:42 AM

What me and Rex are gonna be gettin' can't be got for free.

You won't know, because you won't be there.

TJS 10:08 AM  

If anyone can produce one amusing example of a Tin Tin comic, I would be amazed. How senses of humor vary from country to country is a strange phenomenon. Maybe Poirot found it hilarious.

Seems like Rex had a dangerous buildup of repressed negativity during his vaca and is getting it out of his system ASAP. Personally, I thought this was one of the better Thursdays we have had in a while. Caught on to the theme with "can can" and had no issue with how the reveal was positioned in the grid. I don't get any of the complaints Rex comes up with on this one at all. Been doing these things for over 60 years.

Crimson Devil 10:15 AM  

Enjoyable Thurs; especially liked reference to KenKen puzz, part of my AM routine.

Lao Tse 10:32 AM  

@Z - You don't pay hookers for sex. You pay hookers to leave after sex.

CDilly52 10:36 AM  

Well, the joke’s on me all around on this wonderful offering! Could not get a toehold, made some really really (thanks @LMS for the reduplication for “weight” observation) ginormous mistakes and since I had no idea that TINTIN was a thing (I am so old I thought the constructor was talking about Rin TINTIN), ergo the theme didn’t make any sense because Rin TINTIN was not a comic. But COMICSTRIPS was so obviously the answer that belonged there so I let it in and just kept floundering. I also had DENiAL HYpnotIST in there for the longest time. Yes, I really did. True that. When I go awry I’m all about it! Also “believed” that a Pet not a PAW made the muddy print and that left the NW jacked up until I got PITCH and the light bulb mercifully went on. Even after I got the THINK TWICE theme and backed into completion (in typical Thursday time for me), I still didn’t completely understand the theme because I was thinking Rin TINTIN and couldn’t make any sense of doubling BOO on the WILD PITCH. My brain did not allow me to see a WILD PITCH as a BOOBOO, but rather something over which to to express displeasure at the pitcher throwing the WILD PITCH. Also had not a glimmer of what KENKEN is. Sheesh! I did THINK TWICE, but for the longest time it was decidedly not alright!

Very very clever puzzle. Loved the clues for TREYS, PACE, AVON and OPART. This is exactly what Thursdays should be. Doable but frustrating and requiring lots of thinking! Thanks Mr. Polin! And @Rex, swing and a miss today. Loved the covers though.

To all you teachers out there, thank you! The American Dream hangs by a thread and it is our teachers in our public schools who light the fire and keep it burning so that each and every child in this already great nation has an opportunity to learn anything and everything. Our teachers and our public librarians are the folks who keep the dream alive (if not truly “well”) by providing instruction and access. If you can read this (as a favorite bumper sticker says), THANK A TEACHER. If you believe in the American Dream support free public education and your local public library!!

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

@ JOHN X 10:00 Zing!

Canon Chasuble 10:43 AM  

Years and years ago I saw a television quiz program that paired as contestants Basketball great Bob Cousy and Alec Templeton, a popular and amazing musician and commenter on music. Alec’s opening remark went something like this:
“I hope the team of Templeton and Cousy
Know their basketball
And Claude Debussy.”

Typical witty Templeon

oldbizmark 10:45 AM  

Can someone please explain the TREYS answer. I got it with the crosses but have no idea what it means. Thanks.

Hack mechanic 10:46 AM  

Or laying.
I had lay at first then sat

Hack mechanic 10:49 AM  

It's punctuation. Kind of an eats shoots and leaves thing

xyz 10:50 AM  

Motion Pictures? in retrospect is perfectly good cluing for OP ART, but really surprised that this erudite NYT-reading group needs to look it up to see what it is. Usually a knee-jerk rote entry, this one was definitely one to give PAWS, errr pause. [ouch]

KYL I looked up, because it made no sense, for confidence that I was correct.

Very messy puzzle as laid out by Rex.
Not hard, per se but very clumsy and awkward, inelegant. (Split & upside-down, indeed!)

BIO as a class for a physio major? NO NO NO NO NO NO - inelegant spaghetti thrown on the wall, that's more than enough tripping on shoelaces for me.

At least CAN CAN is there as Moulin Rouge! opened last week on Broadway. My friend runs the actual Moulin Rouge - a particularly entertaining variety show, not just topless (No ink nor implants allowed) mademoiselles galore. Since the Show is based upon the movie, I assume there are no TATAs on B'way (Have not been yet, just had them over for dinner on Saturday)

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Please help. Can someone explain "Treys" as the answer for "Hearts that don't beat very much?"

Ed C 11:22 AM  

Don’t agree that THINK (lower left) and TWICE (upper right) have to be moved. Rather arbitrary expectation. We daily do puzzles with missing letters, homophones, initialization, rebuses, misdirection, backwards spelling, etc, but this has to be “as humans read”. Why?

If Rex were a Batman villain, he’d be The Quibbler.

oldbizmark 11:26 AM  

Oh, shoot. Just figured it out. TREY is a three. So a three of hearts doesn't beat very much in a game of cards. Duh!

Crimson Devil 11:32 AM  

Re trey
Lower card in card deck, heart in this case, doesn’t beat very much, say deuce.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

It's plausible that Tin Tin, here in God's Country, is the first (or nearly so?) graphic novel. Not funny in the Yellow Kid sense.

Ethan Taliesin 11:50 AM  

I misread "With 19 A, reconsider, or a hint..." as the clue for 62A. I could not figure out HIGHKICKS for the life of me.

Duh. I had been consistently reading the wrong clue, so that's on me.

It was still kind of challenging despite my spacebrain, IMO.

POLERS was lame, TREYS was cool.

Surprised we didn't get a righteous philippic from Rex about the evil Tintin and his racist, colonialist exploits. I love Tintin and always will, but I admit the Congo book was cringey. A rhino also gets shot in the head in that one, iirc. That was the exception and Tintin is generally awesome.

Was thinking about Tintin just the other day at Costco where people were picking out watermelons by thumping, holding, and looking at their spots. I wondered what people would think if I used around a little pendulum like Professor Cuthbert Calculus to find the sweetest and juiciest.

What would be even funnier would be if, when someone asked, I explained I was actually looking for money, and then uncovered a $100 bill under a melon that my confederate had placed there for me.

Malsdemare 11:54 AM  

I'm standing with all those folks who loved it. I battled for a while until I saw the trick and then battled again with those feisty clues. I too had TOPSeed, didn't know PEPE, doubted that one was taught EVIDENCE in law school (and am currently wondering if ETHICS is as well). Smiled when TREYS, OILPRICES, and SLOVAKIA appeared as gremlins in my consciousness.

Thanks, Mr. Polin. Great puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 12:06 PM  

From the Huh? Lyrics Hall Of Fame:

So take my strong advice
Just remember to always think twice
Don't think twice, don't think twice

Sure thing, Michael. This was good, if tough at first. I had a lot of blank space until I finally got the gimmick with LOGIC PUZZLE. Then I was off and running. I don't mind how the revealer is placed in the grid. ALEC Templeton is a bit offbeat. POLER is the only answer I disliked.

The best version of "Don't Think Twice" is by the Wonder Who? (in reality Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons). ←joke

Noam D. Elkies 12:09 PM  

'not a plausible clue for anything involving the element "tin"'? Sure it's plausible. I was set to enter "Coca-Cola cans" but fortunately it didn't quite fit (I hadn't yet seen the *Can clue). Could also have been a denomination of coins. I also thought that *Ken might be chicken, making 53A some kind of PIZZAS . . .

In general I enjoyed this puzzle and theme. I knew that Rex was going to kvetch about 19A:TWICE coming before 60A:TWICE but I doubt that many other people care about this kind of thing. Anyhow THINK is to the left of TWICE, and in English reading bottom to top is no worse than reading right to left.

Anybody else try ACT for 9D before seeing it in 6D?


old timer 12:30 PM  

One of those puzzles where I finished it, came here, and only then discovered I should have gone back to examine a clue and LMAO. In this case, the clue for TREYS. Well done, Mr Polin! The NE was the last to fall for me, but once I had TWICE it was not so hard to get the rest.

Thanks as always to @LMS for making this blog worth visiting every day. You may not be happy happy, but you'll have money money in the bank.

Spanish nicknames are a mystery (Paco = Francisco?). But the padre putativo for Pepe makes more sense than the other explanation for PEPE.

Masked and Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Boo tin tar ken can. psi. Took M&A way too long to start thinkin twice. Especially since I'd figured out that THINK TWICE revealer, almost from the git-go.
But, thought it was about an average difficulty ThursPuz, sooo ... don't think twice, it's alright.

(Pole pole. Almost forgot that pup. That's just Timothy polin', I reckon.)

staff weeject pick: PAW. Cuz there's also pawpaw, yknow.

Longballs were all plurals, plus a name. Did admire the law course minicurriclum of EVIDENCE & ETHICS.
Cool clues abounded all over the place. fave, for some weird reason: {One way to get help} = ASK.

"See" y'all, after a bit of vacation ...

Thanx for the fun fun, Mr. Polin'.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


Granny Smith 12:57 PM  

Lying, not laying.
You lay something down.
You lie down on a bed.
I'm sorry. I can't help myself.

Teedmn 12:57 PM  

The WILD PITCH went right over my head, theme-wise, but at 25A, with C__IC in the grid, I thought COMIC and *TinTin came to mind. I splatzed in COMIC Series and away I went, well not exactly. I found this hard even knowing the theme. The themers were the easiest part.

First, 6D, I way over-thought that one. "Be dramatic?" must be ArT (Wherefore art thou Romeo?) That left some black ink SCAT on my grid.

I haven't watched the Olympics for decades so 30D's MA___ let me to enter MArk as one of the two famous Olympic swimmers I knew of. Phelps would have fit but at least I didn't go all in on that one.

HYGeiNIST, wrong.

Clues like "Figures calculated using crude estimates" are wonderful. And hard.

Timothy Polin, I liked your Thursday offering, thanks.

Joe Dipinto 12:59 PM  

@the redanman 10:50 -- you had tatas over for dinner on Saturday?

TJS 1:00 PM  

Hey, @Z. It's never really free.

jb129 1:00 PM  

I didn't know treys but loved the puzzle all the same.

Gotta look out for "Condi" in the future.

jberg 1:00 PM  

Very challenging and enjoyable -- I could see the STRIPS in COMIC STRIPS, and was looking for some kind of electronics thing; then I got DENTAL HYGIENIST and actually asked my wife if she thought smokers got tar on their teeth, which their hygienists would then remove. But finally figured it out when COMIC fell into place from crosses - aha! Tintin! And the rest was easy -- and helped me change SLOVenIA to SLOVAKIA.

@Loren, absolutely brilliant avatar today!

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

17A is a bad clue. A wild pitch may or may not cause a boo-boo, and nobody refers to a baseball mistake as a boo-boo.

Suzy 1:37 PM  

@Granny. “Hens lay, people lie!”. (Boy do they ever!��). I don’t think anyone under the ages of 50 knows better or cares. ��

Nice puzzle, got stuck on op art, even though I knew there couldn’t be two “acts” in this drama. Thank you, Tim!

VancouverNana 1:40 PM  

“Tarter” 😇. I didn’t get it til you asked. 😎

albatross shell 1:44 PM  

Yes I had a pair of ACTs. Lost to the TREYS.
Answer: smallengine
Answer could be better, but the hyphen would taint the whole puzzle, making it unfit for human consumption according to themist extremists.
Great answers abound, but mau is not a word, maybe, so even worse for the truest cluists. I might even agree.

My first foothold was the SW, so I liked the reveal location. Changing again to TWICE did it for me too. And then PACE and then POLE led the way to fill in the remaining emptiness.
It was hard work and worth it. Gems all around.

RooMonster 1:50 PM  

Hey All !
No one's mentioned the non-rhymer outlier LOGIC PUZZLE? We have
What the hey?

This was a pretty neat puz. Not so easy for me as for some of y'all. Had won for LED for a while, messing up that AREA. And 25A, wow, really wanted COMputerchIPS, but didn't fit, then searched each crossing Down looking for a rebus insertion spot. The 28D square got overwritten about 6 times!

Also had vinEBEANS for POLEBEANS. BEANS grow on vines, I thought? Hmm. And an A in the beginning of 50D, because APEX or ACME. PEAK, harrumph.

No one's said anything about the two SATs in the SE corner, either.

*Me online? - SHORT VIDEO


albatross shell 2:00 PM  

@Anonymous. 101pm
Boo-boo is a mistake, an example of a mistake in baseball is a wild pitch, which is not an error in baseball, and which only is scored as a WP when there are men on base or it is the 3rd strike on the batter, and therefore almost never intentional. The clue is fine, and it clearly leads you to the answer.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

@Granny Smith:

I feel your pain!

xyz 2:22 PM  

@joe Dipinto


louis 2:35 PM  

The three of hearts is a low card in the deck. It only beats a 2 in most card games. Thus, the trey of hearts does not beat much.

The Good Evening Girls 3:04 PM  

We struggled with the SW corner (thanks Matt Biondi), & the answer for 69A feels off (it's more like, I HAD basil IN, so I made pesto and invited Grace over for lunch).

Anyway, stay random, ya'll.

Anoa Bob 5:07 PM  

POLE BEANS were a garden staple for us when I was a kid in rural Tennessee many moons ago. I didn't think anyone else called them that except for us local yokels, and I believe that today is the first time I've ever seen it in print. We also called them string BEANS. Most folks probably know them as just green BEANS.

The POLE part came in when planting in the spring. The plant is a vine and needs something to entwine as it grows upward. In between two rows of just-planted BEANS, at each end of the rows, were two 6-foot high posts with a wire connected to and drawn taught between their tops. We placed one end of the POLEs (thin, relatively straight sticks sourced from surrounding woods and fields)) into the ground along the row of beans and then leaned the other end over against the wire. This resulted in an inverted V shaped row of sticks that would soon be lush with POLE BEANS. We grew enough to have fresh BEANS in season and canned BEANS for most of the rest of the year.

My grandmother would slow cook them with some pieces of pork or HAM. They would often be served along with creamy mashed potatoes, fried okra, fresh sliced tomatoes, cole slaw, cornbread and fried chicken. Salivating yet? I am.

Z 5:07 PM  

And all three replies prove my suspicion.

BarbieBarbie 6:44 PM  

Someone asked about ALIBI and I apologize if it got answered and I missed it, but: the clue is “out of sorts” meaning “out, of sorts” meaning “a type of excuse.” So, ALIBI.

Sam Buggeln 10:00 PM  

What a weird post that was

Sam Buggeln 10:01 PM  


Anonymous 11:25 PM  

@Anoa Bob:

well, here in effete eastern intellectual new england, we call them pole beans and string beans. we call the yellow version wax beans. they taste like it, too. YMMV.

Hack mechanic 6:58 PM  

Oh really, bit of a past present future conujation thing going on there. Stand, sit, lie (present) Stood, sat, lay (past). To lose ones standing would be past tense hence lay. EG as I lost my standing as I sat or lay. Sorry, I can't help myself either.

Jessica 1:44 PM  

Can someone explain what “Ken” has to do with a logic puzzle? That’s the only one I still can’t grasp.

KF 2:18 PM  

If no one has already pointed it out, Tin Tin is a famous French comic strip. Has been translated into English for many years. Thus “tin” as a clue.

KF 2:20 PM  

Ken Ken is on puzzle page of NYTimes

Burma Shave 10:11 AM  


or TWICE if ONE GETZ to guzzle
and THINK of an ALIBI for


spacecraft 12:35 PM  

Tough--at least Thursday-tough. Feisty cluing, fun to fight through. Also, I do not share OFC's aversion to revealer placement; it fits where it fits. In my solving experience, I floundered around much as he did, till hitting KIN, which gave me THINK, which led to TWICE in the NE and the cracking open of an AREA--and also of the theme. It did get somewhat easier after that, but by then I had most of the grid filled in. Magunga triumph points.

This is basically what I want from a puzzle: make me think, teach me something new (Jose = PEPE, MATTBIONDI), and don't junk up the fill. Check, check and check. Mini-theme DOD ELLA + SCAT for a lagniappe. Birdie.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Best part was when the light bulb went on and the theme clues made perfect sense. Fun.

Diana, LIW 1:14 PM  

Ya THINK its easy? Well THINK AGAIN, er... Lotsa wrong first guesses (like topseat vs. TOPSPOT, pet vs. PAW), but eventually changed them for a great feeling of satisfaction on a Thursday. I'm with @Spacey - made me THINK TWICE.

Getting the theme pretty early really helped. I like that in a puzzle. Good use of LOGIC. doc basically said yesterday that my "indolent" cancer isn't going to get the best of me, and he'll be handing me off to a new doc when he retires - in 16 years. I can do lots of puzzles in 16 years. Even better than getting a Thursday puzzle (Tom said Swiftly).

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting, patient patient

leftcoast 2:34 PM  

Needed the revealer to see how this worked, and took time to get there. So the "answers" are in the five clues as well as in the grid. Liked TARTAR and DENTAL HYGIENIST the best.

NE three-stack wasn't as easy as it looked. Tried THINK "again" and "group" THINK before the THINK TWICE reveal.

Other good stuff in the long downs. Of those, SLOVAKIA and POLE BEANS were the last to go.

Some tough and tricky cluing helped make the whole thing interesting.

rainforest 4:02 PM  

A puzzle that had my attention from the get-go, and held it throughout. I floundered at first, got THINK TWICE early, and then gradually had ----PITCH, COMICS-----, and -----PUZZLE, and then got to 62A, and *aha*. Nicely done, Mr. Polin.

I thought DENTAL HYGIENIST, clue and answer, was a stroke of genius, as were several other clue/answer combos (PACE, OP ART, TATS, among others). The theme idea was novel, and its execution, perfect. Perhaps someone gets his nose out of joint re TINTIN, and the arcane distinctions around COMIC STRIPS, but that's just noise. Placement of the revealer needn't follow some made-up rule. Today's was just fine, despite the plaints of some commenters who I'd just like to pinch (no names).

In short, a great non-rebus Thursday puzzle, and there wasn't a dog in the fill.

rondo 8:00 PM  

A three-legged dog hobbles into a saloon: "I'm lookin' fer the man who shot my PAW."

I saw Lorena OCHOA play in 2006, yeah baby, just before she took over the #1 world ranking from Annika Sorenstam. Excellent golf.

This was a really nice puz.

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