Addie's husband in As I Lay Dying / TUE 9-24-19 / Aromatic shrubs yielding an essential oil / Religious symbol resembling plus sign / Annual parade since 1890 / Playground game with teams

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Constructor: John Guzzetta

Relative difficulty: Medium (felt easy, but clock says ... 3:48, i.e. normal)


THEME: GREEK CROSS (51A: Religious symbol resembling a plus sign ... or a hint to the three groups of circled squares in this puzzle) — Greek letters (embedded inside answers in circled squares) "cross" three times in the grid:

Theme answers:
  • FINAL PHASE (18A: Project's windup) / AIRHOLES (5D: What jars with fireflies need)
  • RIOT ACT (36A: It's "read" during a reprimand) / FREEZE TAG (14D: Playground game with teams)
  • HOME GAMES (39A: About half of a regular-season schedule) / ON THE TAKE (24D: Accepting bribes)
Word of the Day: Kirk ALYN  (61A: Kirk ___, first actor to play Superman on the big screen) —
Kirk Alyn (born John Feggo Jr., October 8, 1910 – March 14, 1999) was an American actor, best known for being the first actor to play the DC Comics character Superman in live-action for the 1948 movie serial Superman and its 1950 sequel Atom Man vs. Superman, as well as Blackhawkfrom the Blackhawk movie serial in 1952, and General Sam Lane in 1978's Superman: The Movie. (wikipedia)
• • •
GREEK CROSS (n.) a cross having an upright and a transverse shaft equal in length and intersecting at their middles (merriam-webster.com)

Well, two problems here: the theme and the fill. The theme *sounds* like a good idea, and the themers yield some answers that are pretty colorful (ON THE TAKE and FREEZE TAG being the highlights of the day), but your revealer literally, explicitly describes a shape to you ("resembling a plus sign") and then gives you only one of them. Those other two crosses: Not GREEK CROSSes. Not. Not not. You point to a specific shape, and then you make three different shapes, only one of which is actually the shape you mention!?!? No. Nah naw and nope. THETA / OMEGA form an actual GREEK CROSS. You can hear the angels singing over there. But that's a non-GREEK CROSS up top (on its side), and, I don't know, scissors (?) over there in the east. Just wrong.  


And the fill, yikes. Here's a quick way to determine of the fill in your grid is bad: does it contain ANSE? (8D: Addie's husband in "As I Lay Dying") Honestly, even if the rest of your grid is pristine, the rotting stench of ANSE is so pervasive that net grid quality won't matter. Even with ANSE levels at one PPM, you're in trouble. And sadly, here, ANSE is just the worst of a whole slew of answers that need to be bounced from this particular bar. I'll mention just a couple. LIENEE (32A: Holder of a collateral loan) ... [hard sigh] ... I mean, it's not ALIENEE, but I'm not sure if that's worse or better. It's a word, but it's a tiresome word only a crossword (or banker?) could love. And then (much worse) ALYN. I mean, who? Ha ha ha what? What year is it? Who do you think is solving this? Was there no way to scrub this answer from your grid. 'Cause a conscientious constructor should've scrubbed until their fingers bled trying to get this answer (and ANSE) out. Archaic niche proper nouns are the mothballs of the puzzle world. There's lots of other icky abbrev'y SECY stuff in here, but I think I've made my point.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

64 comments:

Teedmn 5:11 AM  

LEAD APRONS, perhaps that's the feeling my niece and nephew were looking for when they each asked for a weighted blanket for Christmas. In any case, they hoped it would help them REST EASY. I can't say I yearn for that sensation.

I'm always angry on behalf of the poor fireflies trapped in a jar with AIR HOLES. There they were, just minding their own business, making the night beautiful, and some idiot needs to capture them for their own pleasure. Just stop it!!

And it has been so long since I have played FREEZE TAG or seen anyone play it, that I don't remember if there are teams or not. I can't bring it to mind at all.

I enjoyed the theme and the solve was fine for me so thanks, John Guzzetta.

Anonymoose 6:24 AM  

Here we go with ANAL again. I'm sure many of us are offended and this usage in puzzles should be investigated. Surely an anal probe is called for.

Lewis 6:32 AM  

I see the shape described (plus sign) as referring to the reveal, GREEK CROSS, and the reveal itself referring to the theme answers, crosses of Greek letters, so the theme worked fine for me.

In some places I had to dig a bit deeper than usual on a Tuesday -- which I enjoyed (and thank you John!) but which may spell some frustration for new solvers. All the Greek letters here end in A save for RHO; it would have been cool if that letter could have been gamma, delta, kappa, or sigma instead.

And speaking of answers ending in A: AGRA, VENA, CAVA, DOHA, CODA, HENNA, PASADENA, and SPCA. Plus their cousins MONO, ESSO, OHIO, and YEO.

Those Greek letters weren't the only items crossing. In the junction of ANSE and AGRA, answers which I threw in without hesitation, I found, with a smile, the joining of old friends.

amyyanni 6:34 AM  

Wishing the clue for PASADENA had referenced the little old lady. That mmight have caused me to like this one more. TIRE and FEE clues are nifty. And AKRON, OHIO getting some props, a good entry.

JJ 7:02 AM  

“ANSE levels at one PPM” was the best part of my morning.

Donkos 7:12 AM  

Would be fun to see how folks fix some of the issues @ex points out in a puzzle. Also, @Lewis makes a good point : the Greek being crossed is Greek letters, a miss by Rex?

kitshef 7:13 AM  

Top half very easy, bottom half moderately difficult, averaging out to a medium. Bottom half had some things you don’t expect on a Tuesday; ANIS, ALYN, ARTE, YEO, OLIN.

72nd time in a row I have misspelled LIEN or one of its offshoots. Always, always, always I put in LeiN.

btgrover 7:15 AM  

The theme refers to crossing two Greek words, not the shape. Not a valid criticism imo. I thought this was a solid Tuesday - my solve time beat my average yet somehow it felt more challenging than a typical early week puzzle.

Suzie Q 7:19 AM  

I'm solidly on Lewis' side of the fence today. The theme worked for me and I found plenty to like in the rest of the grid. Yes, Anse and Agra are old friends that I remember from Crosswords 101.
Enough Tuesday fun to make me happy.

Hungry Mother 7:25 AM  

Quick and easy. I had to go back and forth between acrosses and downs to get it done. Nice theme which I used a bit. As a former frat boy and mathematician, the Greek alphabet has been familiar for quite a while.

OffTheGrid 7:27 AM  

I agree with @Rex on the theme. LIENEE was for sure bad but otherwise OK puzz for me. We called FREEZE TAG "statues". I don't remember what happened after we "froze". We caught fireflies/lightning bugs in jars but always soon released them so I don't think a call to the aSPCA is needed. On that subject: According to activistfacts.com the ASPCA gives a measly 4% of its $129 million dollar budget to shelters. So SPCA is only marginally a "shelter group". I can't tell anyone where to donate but your contributions will be most effective in the hands of a local shelter. And I'm off to my local shelter to clean cat kennels.

My Little Peahen 7:31 AM  

Not knowing CAVA VENA or Kirk ALYN's name, along with having dALES (as in "Hills and **Dales?**), made that corner a giant WTF.

Agree with Rex that the revealer shouldn't have been so specific about the cross. Just "religious symbol" would have sufficed...it's a cross...Greek words crossing each other...like a "cross," get it? But to make it a "plus sign," you just dug your own grave.

Also, the clue on GROANER is a groaner on a meta-level. The pun didn't make me groan as much as the long way around to clue a pun (as a groaner) did.

Also also, if you're going to cross clue AKRON OHIO as the home of Goodyear, why not go all out and include TIRE too?

The theme did not help, nor harm, the solving the of this puzzle.

SJ Austin 7:48 AM  

I dunno man, you have Greek letters crossing each other. That's a Greek cross. The theme revealer said religious symbol OR a hint at the to the shaded/circled squares. Seems pretty fair to me. Double entendre is kinda par for the course in crosswords, right?

The fill had some weak spots, sure. But it also had some good long answers, e.g. LEAD APRONS, ON THE TAKE, FREEZE TAG… and I'm never gonna turn down PEA HEN.

Unknown 7:52 AM  

I liked this puzzle overall. Difficulty was good for a Tuesday, and while there was a fair amount of crosswordese, there were also an above average number of fairly long interesting answers. I liked PEAHEN, MYRTLES, and LEADAPRONS. I didn't get ALFIE until it was half filled. Did they remake that with Jude Law? I'm so uninformed. VENA CAVA was a new term for me. Probably wouldn't be if I watched medical dramas, but that's not going to change. STY took me longer than it should have, and I wasn't aware that YEO was a standard abbreviation for yeoman, but I'm also not convinced yet that it is.

Sam 8:23 AM  

They are all crosses of Greek letters. They are not all “Greek crosses.” I don’t see the problem; it seems pretty obviously intentional as opposed to some shocking gaffe. Not all of the fill is great, but most of it is. You can be such an uncharitable scold, Rex. Maybe that’s the schtick though. We come here to see a bitter man vent his resentments on the NYT crossword. I suppose universal praise would be worse. Such easy affirmation is patronizing, and when everything is good, nothing is good meaningfully. Mean is also, strangely, more entertaining.
Anyways, a fun solve with plenty of interesting fill. A little bit of tortured fill, but also some very fine words. Clues were just ok. I agree with Rex, it felt easier than the time suggested. Good Tuesday.

pabloinnh 8:29 AM  

(Sings)
What's it all about, Alfie?

For me it was going to be about GREEKCROSSES as soon as I got the first crossing pair, and I was not disappointed. Some of the letter crossings were asymmetrical? Eek. Did not ruin my morning.

Used to drink ANIS after a Sunday dinner in Spain. Also used to smoke a cigar with my Spanish dad and play canasta with the family. Three things I have never done since, which is good, because I quit smoking and hate licorice.

Fun enough for a Tuesday, so thanks JG. If crosswordese bothers you, I suggest number puzzles.

Nancy 8:30 AM  

What a nice Tuesday! Unusually clever and imaginative cluing for this day of the week, interesting fill and a well-constructed theme. And it looks as though Will Shortz has heeded my complaints about annoying tiny little circles: today he gave me roomy gray squares, which always makes everything SO much better.

Enjoyed the clues for RIOT ACT (36A); PEAHEN (37A); RANSOM (7D); HOME GAMES (39A) and DOTS (49D). Liked the TIRE (56A)/FEE (46A) reversal. Found the puzzle lively and fun to solve.

Zygotic 8:38 AM  

Tuesday has to tuezz I guess. Agree with @Lewis that the crossing letters are sufficient for the revealer, but also agree with Rex and @My Little Peahen that if you’re going to reference the plus sign shape maybe make the extra effort of making the resulting shapes GREEK CROSSes. And why random Greek letters? Couldn’t get Sophocles and Socrates to cross? Euripides and Aeschylus too much? Then how about Telly Savalas or Ari Onassis? Or really pushing our trivia knowledge with Prokopis Pavlopoulos (yes I looked him up, also discovering that Jennifer Aniston is of Greek descent - who knew?). And I hear Greece has a few islands. But no. Just RGL, maybe a half step less annoying in a puzzle than RRNs, for the theme.

Also sympathetic to Rex’s fill rant. If you have ANES and ALYN drinking ANIS maybe revisit the fill. PASADENA FREEZETAG while riding ATVS does bring a little LEMON ZEST to the puzzle.

Was PITA GAINST some sort of anti-gyro sarcasm?

Music Man 8:42 AM  

This felt more like a Wednesday solve to me. Otherwise, fairly solid puzzle.

Joaquin 8:53 AM  

Seems like Rex's BVDs are in a twist over the shape of the GREEK CROSSes. But ... the clue says that the answer GREEK CROSS is a "hint" to the shaded areas, not that they are actual Greek crosses. I think the constructor nailed it.

GILL I. 8:56 AM  

What a strange little puzzle. I sorta agree with @Rex in that the GREEK letters should've been made into a CROSS. That would've been awesome. So in my small world, this was something trying to be good but didn't quite make it. I also found it a bit on the hard side for a Tuesday. Haven't a clue what a shofar is. Wanted mud HEN and the only MYRTLES I know are of the crepe variety.
I always wondered how you could catch fireflies and put them in a jar. Do you catch them with a little net? I've never played nor do I know what FREEZE TAG is. The "I before E except after C" kills me every time. They lied. SKEIN proves it.
@pablo...My first and extremely drunk fall off my stool was with that disgusting ANISE. I was with the film crew of "The Valley of Gwangi" being filmed in Almeria. It was overcast and the film crew needed sun in order to properly kill the prehistoric beast. So we did what any other red blooded idiot would do, and that was to sit in a bar and drink. My first sip was delicious - the fourth was vile. I probably was smoking Ducados. By the way...@JC66 has sent me a really good article on bilingualism. Get back to me so that I can send it to you.

Sir Hillary 9:07 AM  

No issue with the shapes of the GREEKCROSSes -- @Rex whiffed on that.

But he's spot-on with his fill criticism. Please don't give me your TIREd (SPCA, AGRA, OED, ESSO, OHOK, STY, MPH, GPAS, ATVS, SEC, TET) or your poor (LIENEE, ANIS, SECY, ALYN, YEO, PPM, VENA/CAVA, ANSE). VENA/CAVA is especially egregious -- the only reason VALES isn't sALES is that CAVA is needed to justify VENA.

I do like GREEK sitting atop PITA.

I also like @Rex's "the rotting stench of ANSE", evoking as it does my favorite Faulkner novel. Definitely too many AIRHOLES in that casket.

a3jay 9:08 AM  

There seems to be a general distaste for the use of LIENEE, but my objection is that it's clued incorrectly. To me, "Holder of a collateral loan" is asking for the lender, which would be the LIENor. The LIENEE is the borrower, or the person giving the lender a lien on their property. Maybe I'm being too legally technical, but the clue is imprecise and poorly worded at best, exactly backwards at worst.

Zygotic 9:18 AM  

@Joaquin - Pontius Pilate was Roman, not Greek.

pabloinnh 9:22 AM  

@GILL I.-
My email address is on my profile, if you want to send the article or a link. Sounds interesting.

Muchas gracias.

Nancy 9:25 AM  

Re: @GILL's "disgusting ANISE" comment (and as always on food and libation, I agree with her):

There are 3 wine/liquor stores in my immediate neighborhood and two of them have multi-weekly tastings. And while I've never made a pilgrimage to either one if it isn't convenient, I have never not stopped in when I'm on that street at the appropriate hour. Nor, until last week, have I ever turned down the free wine or booze -- whatever it is. But last week they had [gasp!] aperitifs. Many different kinds, one Compari. I hesitated -- after all, it was free. And so many different things to taste. But I couldn't. "You know, I'm sorry, but I really HATE this stuff," I explained, as I turned and fled. I'm sure they weren't sorry; I've been sponging off them for years. But to me, that stuff tastes like medicine.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

A SKEIN is never a ball of yarn. It is a loose coil of yarn. SKEIN is repeatedly clued incorrectly in these puzzles. Is there an editor?

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

OH THE FILL
OH THE FILL

OH THE FILL


OH THE FILL

Newboy 9:50 AM  

OFL nails it. Sigh

Carola 10:02 AM  

After the crossing of RHO and ALPHA, the fun for me was trying to anticipate how the GREEK letters would be incorporated into the remaining theme entries (I guessed wrong on FREEZEtte, those square plastic containers from days of yore). I thought the constructor did a stellar job in finding lively phrases and in having the letters span two words. I also noticed the culinary CROSS of ONION and LEMON ZEST, which led me to online recipes for GREEK LEMON rice - sounds good.

Help from previous puzzles: ANSE. Do-over: i see before OH OK. No idea: ALYN, ANIS.

Pete 10:11 AM  

I'm glad Claire took the last Tuezz off, as this puzzle deserved a proper evisceration. Solved in the app, with shading rather than circles, makes the visual aspect of the theme more obvious, and the fail more jarring. If your reveal is GREEKCROSS and visually highlight the greek crosses, they had better be greek crosses. I can't believe it was the first time someone thought of this, but all the previous constructors realized that the crossings had to be of equal length and cross in the middle. When they realized it couldn't be done, they dropped it. This is just the first time everyone involved said "eh, close enough".

I'm ambivalent about catching fireflies in jars with AIRHOLES. I live at the edge of a hay field and a woods dark and deep, and this year we had a bumper crop of fireflies. Walking the dogs in the evening and watching them emerge always made me wish we had the grand nieces and nephews there, they would have had a ball staying up past their bedtime trying to catch them. Then a few weeks later, on a moonless night around 1AM I was walking in the newly mown hayfield, obsessing about something, paying no attention to anything when I looked up from the ground. All the fireflies had moved into the woods - tens, maybe hundreds, of thousand fireflies just inside the woods, up to the top of the trees, flashing away. It was as if an entire galaxy as wondrous as the Milky Way had spontaneously popped up in the woods next to my house. And would do so the next day, and the day after that.

Watching the kids catch them would have saved my soul for an evening. The firefly event changed me.

jberg 10:40 AM  

Yeah, the theme was fine -- different meanings of Greek cross were a feature, not a bug. But it did make the puzzle awfully easy -- once you see what's going on, you can fill in the other crosses from only a few, er, crosses. The only hard part for me was reading the number for 28 as 38, and putting in "night." That took some recovering.

@Gill, the poem goes on...

Or when sounded like A
As in neighbor and weigh

I'd add 'or like long I' but I can't make that rhyme.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

i before e except after c,
or when pronounced a as in neighbor or weigh.

David 10:42 AM  

Put in Final Phase and brain said, "oh, Greek letters. OK" and didn't think about it again, just filled out the puzzle. I thought it was an okay Tuesday overall, no big complaints.

Had GREs right up to the final moments. Did not like "secy" at all.

Had no time yesterday, did anyone else find the clue for "ogle" a bit strange?

RooMonster 10:52 AM  

Hey All !
Passage to the heart. A MANS STOMACH. Not a VENA CAVA, or, as my spot for my one-letter DNF, VENA CAdA. Who knows a CAVA from a CAdA? Har. dALES, and never even thought there'd be another Hollow between hills with the same last four letters. Whoever changed DALES to VALES or vice versa should be slapped.

On a lighter note, kinda sorta see Rexs complaint on the not-equal-length cross crosses. But also see the point of GREEK letters being CROSSed, so it's a wash.

ens for YEO neatly mucking up that section for a while. MYRTLES and VENA not doing much to help me out there. Otherwise a fairly easyish puz.

Normal dreck for a TuesPuz. Did enjoy the embedded GREEK letter phrases.

Three F's. OH, OK. :-)

LEMON ZEST TESTS
RooMonster
DarrinV

jae 11:09 AM  

Easy. The LATimes just did this theme in a Sun. puzzle with same letter crossing so you got an actual + sign. Plus, the fill was better in that one.

kitshef 11:14 AM  

E before I, as in: seize leisure foreign
Except after C, as in: deficient conscience glacier

Joe Dipinto 11:27 AM  

In the majority here. The revealer does not promise that the intersecting words all look like actual Greek crosses. It's a hint, just like it says. No problems with this puzzle.

♪ Well, she's gonna get a ticket now sooner or later
'Cause she can't keep her foot off the accelerator
And everybody's sayin' that there's nobody meaner
Than the little old lady from Pasadena ♪

Alex M 11:28 AM  

The revealer doesn't say "religious symbol depicted in the three sets of circled letters", it is three sets of Greek words that cross, one of which has the bonus of ALSO resembling a physical Greek cross. The theme does NOT fail over this.

Bourbon Street 11:33 AM  

I lived in Chicago for many years so ON THE TAKE was a no-brainer for me.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Anan 10:41am: that’s weird.

What? 12:24 PM  

Zipped through it. I don’t time but must have been low minutes. Probably helped because I’m a scientist and familiar with Greek letters.
I mention the time because it’s unusual. Why different this time? The mystery of crosswords. Keeps me coming back.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Pam Amick Klawiiter's puzzle appearing in the September 15, 2019 Sunday LA Times. The reveal is Greek Cross and her theme entries are all three letters: Eta, Chi, Phi, Tau, Psi, and Rho. Wonder what Rex would say about this execution?

Whatsername 12:47 PM  

I thought this was fun and I was fine with the crosses being just crosses and not Crosses. Still it would have been a thing of beauty if each theme answer had been in the symmetrical form of the Greek shape specifically named in the revealer. It would have required each answer to be five letters but it would have been doable.

I agree that a SKEIN of yarn is not a ball; it is a uniquely shaped coil. Thought LIENEEat 32A was oddly clued to say the least. The “holder” of a loan is generally considered the lender, and the borrower is the lendee - as in mortgagor/mortgagee. Therein lies the logic that the answer here would be LIENOR which Merriam-Webster defines as “one HOLDING a lien against the property of another” (emphasis added).

Joseph M 12:48 PM  

Fowl Play

Alfie, Alyn, and Anse went into a bar in Akron, Ohio, and were greeted by a pea hen wearing a lead apron with a Greek cross.
“Yeo, said Alfie. "Are you for rial?”
“Who arte thou?" asked Alyn in a phony Shakespearean accent.
"This is Agra-vating," said Anse, when the pea hen would not reply. "Someone should give her a lessen in manners."
“Oh, ok, I get it,” said Alfie. "She must be the bartender.”
“Dots what I thought, too," said Alyn.
“Three glasses of anise with a lemon zest," ordered Alfie, "and a slice on onion on the side."
Instead of fixing their drinks, however, the pea hen took out a ram’s horn and began to play an elegy while the never-relaxed Anse, an ex-Marine, suddenly began to rest easy.
“What’s it all about, Alfie?” asked Alyn as he wept to the music.
“If only I knew,” replied Alfie.
“Is there anything stranger than this?" asked Alyn.
"Yes, replied their host, at last. "Three airholes who think they’re talking to a pea hen in Akron, Ohio.”

Coniuratos 1:14 PM  

Since I've seen this one a couple times: constructors really need to stop thinking that YEO is an abbreviation for "navy petty officer". It's an abbreviation for "Yeoman", which is one individual rating/job out of dozens for enlisted folk in the Navy. Specifically, they're administrative specialists. YEO isn't even the standard abbreviation for the rating, YN is. A Yeoman isn't even necessarily a petty officer - a seaman (E-3) or below can be rated as a Yeoman.

Beth A 1:22 PM  

Thanks to those who identified the puzzle I had done VERY recently, with the same theme (LA TIMES, Sep 15). At first I wondered if I had somehow done today’s earlier and it didn’t get saved or something! That earlier puzzle caused me look up the definition of Greek Cross, so I had the same gripe as Rex about the irregular cross shapes in this one. I guess it can’t be helped, but it just feels wrong to be doing a crossword with the same theme as one so recently published! Makes it seem like a ripoff, even if it wasn’t!

Ciclista21 1:47 PM  

Poor Will Shortz, the boy who never grew up, still snickering like an eighth-grader every time he allows ASS or ANAL into a puzzle. Does no one at NYT realize the puzzle needs an adult editor?

Cassieopia 2:09 PM  

@joseph m 12:38 I really enjoyed your comment to the point of an LOL that startled nearby folks. Thank you for the best thing about this Tuesday puzzle.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

the usefulness of a SKEIN of yarn: it is wound from the outside in, such that the knitter finds the end buried in the SKEIN, pulls it out as needed. doesn't, if used as designed, all unwound in a mess on the floor. far easier to knit from a SKEIN than a ball. about the only thing a ball of yarn is good for is to keep a kitten amused.

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

I liked the PEAHEN fill. Then again, I like telling small children that all Peacocks are boys.

mathgent 5:00 PM  

It doesn't seem right. Lewis thanks all the constructors, but he doesn't get thanked back.

Thank you, Lewis.

Wordsmith 5:06 PM  

This is a brilliant and thoughtful puzzle and theme. Challenging and enjoyable. Shows the durability of language.

Solverinserbia 1:42 AM  

Way too hard. VENA and CAVA as two answers on a Tuesday? Crossing ALYN, YEO, and MYRTLES?

Dnf for me, and in two places

Anonymous 6:04 AM  

I liked the Greek LETTER crosses, but what I really liked was your Paul Kelly video. I’ve been lucky enough to see him a few times. He’s wonderful, and if you happen to be in an audience of Australians it’s a really great evening!

Jon 8:27 AM  

Seen Paul Kelly a number of times in NYC. He is an Australian beloved icon, unknown in the US. As much an layperson's poet as a song writer. And I grew up in St Kilda, in the song title! Thanks, Rex, for the inclusion.

spacecraft 12:28 PM  

I solved with shading, not circles, so the visual impact was better. Didn't take long to spot the theme; now I know the GREEKCROSS is a specific shape and two of these aren't it, but that can slide. They're all crosses of Greek letters. Imagine what the fill would look like if he had to make them all come out proper Greek crosses!

Was I ever a child? A few years ago I was watching an old (Regis) "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" show when this opening (giveaway) question appeared asking for the finish of "Duck Duck _____." I was glad I wasn't the contestant because I'd have been forced to burn a lifeline. Now today I come across FREEZETAG: never heard of it! It does, however, contain the only candidate for DOD: Catherine ZETA-Jones. The rest of the grid is heavily male-weighted: ANSE, ALYN, SON (those first two were WOEs).

OH, OK, there's some icky fill here, but it's not as awful as OFC says, and neither is the theme. Par.

P.S. I have no idea why there seems to be a garbage can icon next to my SN. This just started last week. Is somebody trying to tell me something??

leftcoast 3:49 PM  

Greek letters gimmick showed up late, but did what they were supposed to do. One cross was not precisely of GREEK CROSS dimensions, but all qualify as crossings. So, OH, OK.

Is it VENA CAVA? or CAVA VENA? I think the former, but not sure. And was it bETA or ZETA. FREEZE TAG settled that, although didn't know the playground game, with teams no less.

A couple of obscure strays, ANSE and ALYN, could have done some damage, but fortunately didn't.

On the tough side today, I think.

leftcoast 3:56 PM  

Oh, didn't read @spacecraft first, and started my comments much as he did. Didn't mean to steal any of your stuff, spacey.

leftcoast 4:36 PM  

Meant to say, "Only one cross WAS precisely of....".

Diana, LIW 5:04 PM  

got it and, yeah, easyish. But...I MUST learn the Greek Alphabet - 'twood come in handy!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting

Burma Shave 5:54 PM  

GILT ONTHETAKE

Pay RANSOM to bet on HOMEGAMES? NEVER.
SON, your FATE is PITAGAINST THE boss.
The LIENEE collects his FEE forever,
IFONLY you make Jimmy THE GREEKCROSS.

--- VENA CODA CAVA

Michael Leddy 10:05 PM  

Solving in syndication — maybe no one will read it — but I have to say it — it should really be the rotting stench of Addie, Anse’s wife.

Anonymous 4:49 PM  

I agree with the other comments about the LA Times puzzle with the same theme a few weeks ago - the LA Times was a better puzzle. I've noticed that both puzzles have similar clues (more than the obvious ones like Oreo and Erie).

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