Ally in bygone legal drama / WED 9-25-19 / Setting for Forrest Gump movie poster / Prop for dancer Gypsy Rose Lee / Fashion trend that involves comfortable regular looking clothes

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Constructor: Natan Last, Andy Kravis and The J.A.S.A. Crossword Class

Relative difficulty: Easy (3:47) (it's undersized, so not terribly surprising my time was fast)

THEME: BREXIT (34A: Subject of a 2016 U.K. referendum ... or a hint to 16-, 25-, 41- and 55-Across) — wacky two-word phrases where second word is just the first word again, without the "BR" (which has "exited"):

Theme answers:
  • BRITCHES ITCHES (16A: Results of having ants in one's pants?)
  • BREYERS EYERS (25A: Ones considering which brand of ice cream to buy?)
  • HOMBRES' HOMES (41A: Casas?)
  • CEREBRAL CEREAL (55A: Food for thought?)
Word of the Day: NORMCORE (15A: Fashion trend that involves comfortable, regular-looking clothing) —
Normcore is a unisex fashion trend characterized by unpretentious, normal-looking clothing. Normcore fashion includes jeans, t-shirts, sweats, button-downs, underpants, socks, and sneakers. Clothing is considered to be normcore when it is both cute and comfortable, and is viewed as 'normal' by all people. // Normcore is a portmanteau of the words normal and hardcore. The word first appeared in the webcomic Templar, Arizona before 2009 and was later employed by K-HOLE, a trend forecasting group, in an October 2013 report called "Youth Mode: A Report on Freedom".
As used by K-HOLE, the word normcore referred to an attitude, not a particular code of dress. It was intended to mean "finding liberation in being nothing special." However, a piece in New York magazine that began popularizing the term in February 2014 conflated it with "Acting Basic", another K-HOLE concept which involved dressing neutrally to avoid standing out. It was this sense of normcore which gained popular usage.The characters featured on the television series Seinfeld are frequently cited as exemplifying the aesthetics and ethos of normcore fashion.
The word normcore was named runner-up for neologism of the year by the Oxford University Press in 2014. It was added to the AP Stylebook in 2016. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well, this was a nice way to wake up. You're usually in good hands when the byline includes either Andy Kravis's or Natan Last's name, and the J.A.S.A. puzzles are usually very carefully constructed, so disaster is unlikely. I found this one both simple and lively—probably more appropriate to a Tuesday than a Wednesday, but that's neither here nor there, really. Theme is very (very) straightforward, and the "singsongy phrases" route is whimsical in an old-fashioned (good old-fashioned) way. Though the theme type and execution are crossword NORMCORE, the fill is frequently flashy. You do have a lot of short fill, much of it created by the way the middle of the grid has been designed, but that very design seems to have been aimed at keeping the fill clean, and it worked, as the short stuff tends to be familiar but not gross. And the longer stuff often shines. It goes to NORMCORE, gives you a few SLY LOOKS, and then bang! It RAISES HELL with a GUITAR SOLO! It's got my favorite album from middle school ("RIO") and one of my favorite film noir actresses / directors (IDA), and, well, to be frank, this puzzle is by far the best thing to come out of the whole BREXIT debacle. Turning *that* into gold is some pretty amazing alchemy.

There's some clues I don't like (or get). [Much graffiti] is ART? What? All graffiti is ART. Or none of it is? Or ... who's to say whether it is or isn't. That's a weird judgment call, a weird, very very non-specific judgment call. And wet hair is LANK??? Who says that? Tall gaunt people are LANK. I see Merriam-Webster's got "hanging limp without spring or curl" as definition 3 (!) so OK, but I am curious if people actually use the word that way any more. I have no idea what it means to tip a DART, but I'm assuming it's some technical thing ... fine, I'll look it up ... not seeing it. Is it just that DARTs have .... tips!? What? Are there untipped DARTs? What would that even mean? Clue says it "might" be tipped. This clue is baffling. So many potentially great clues, not sure why this one went technical / confusing. My Playstation Vue kinda flattens all TV into one TVscape so I am really bad at determining what network different shows are on. Thus I wrote in SHO instead of HBO at 52A: "Big Little Lies" network (hazard of getting the "O" first). I never have any idea about the various -OHOs and where they are and what they are and what they mean, so I had to wait for the "S" to show up today (11D: Upscale London district). Favorite screw-up of the day, though, came after getting BREXIT, when I went straight to the "B" cross and, as a result of not reading the clue carefully at all, ended up adding "BILL O'Riley" to The Who's catalogue (you probably know it better as "Late Middle-Age Wasteland").

Speaking of "BABA O'Riley" aka "Teenage Wasteland" ... today is this blog's 13th birthday!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. did you know Gypsy Rose Lee (of 29D: BOA) was in a 1966 movie called "The Trouble With Angels," directed by IDA Lupino? Well now you do (I learned this just last night)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:44 AM  

@rex -- Congratulations on this your 13th. You bring insight, genuine laughs, and much discussion to Crossworld. You are priceless to me, and I'm ever grateful.

As for the puzzle, I loved this theme, with its current feel and the way it pairs a word with its BREXIT partner. Clever and vibrant. Unimpeachable.

I also enjoyed:
• Learning NORMCARE.
• Digging deep to remember this meaning of LANK.
• The answer SLY LOOKS, which has never appeared in an NYT puzzle before.
• The very well-connected grid.
• Remembering that glorious guitar solo, which shall reverberate through me all day.
• That with ROOT and ROO in the grid, we have a TEXIT.

Thank you for bringing spark and smiles to my day, JASA class and teachers!

Klazzic 6:51 AM  

Happy Thirteenth Birthday, Rex!!!! You're a good man.

Mark 7:19 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle! Appreciated the Laura Dern / Big Little Lies tie-in.

kitshef 7:19 AM  

Easier than Monday or Tuesday, despite NORMCORE?????? That was the only thing that took more than a few nanoseconds to fill in. Oh, and briefly thought Forrest Gump might be on a BEaAH, but Yoko ONO fixed that. Is there anything she can’t do?

The themers are unimpeachable and the fill is mostly very well done, but the cluing was, alas, ordinary.

Having Googled NORMCORE … I still don’t get it.

Suzie Q 7:21 AM  

Nice little Wed. from the crossword class.
Never ever heard of normcore. Interesting concept that reminded me of
teen fashion trends where striving to be original merely becomes conformity.
I did appreciate the rock and roll mini-theme.
Graffiti as art? Only if your name is Banksy.

QuasiMojo 7:33 AM  

Rex, interesting factoid about Gypsy Rose Lee being in "The Trouble with Angels." Especially since Rosalind Russell is its star. She played Lee's mother, Mama Rose, in "Gypsy."

As for the puzzle I was slightly disappointed it was just the BR that was exiting. I had hoped it was going to be BRIT. And technically speaking if a BR 'exits' wouldn't it no longer appear at the start of the answer? It can't be in two places at the same time.

Casas seemed a weak vague clue for Hombres Homes.

Anyone else pop in SHEEDY for Ally? I am still stuck in the 80s, I guess.

Hungry Mother 7:59 AM  

Got the theme after some hesitation, then it flowed quickly. More names than I like, but the crosses always helped.

mmorgan 8:20 AM  

Happy Birthday Blog! Enjoyed the puzzle, though I struggled mightily with NORMCORE.

Unknown 8:40 AM  

Happy Birthday

Off the Cuff 8:45 AM  

For some reason when I see BRITCHESITCHES I think of "Snitches get stitches." Could be I'm watching too many noir movies...

@Lewis: did you get the CUFF clue okay? Just curious, given your um...nvm.

The LOAF/HUAC/LANK crossing destroyed an otherwise fast time for me. I was chugging along quite well, minding my own business, then WHAM! I wanted LOll for idling, but I knew OFFEND was I couldn't figure out how to rework that section to make it work. LOAF appeared to me in a vision and everything finally fell into place.

I never watched Ally MCBEAL, but I thought it was a comedy?

Also discovered that I'm a fashion trend setter, having dressed NORMCORE for the last 30 years. In fairness to Lewis, I do roll up my sleeves...

SouthsideJohnny 8:50 AM  

Rex seems to be in a pretty good mood - I hope he is feeling well. I took the “might” in the dart clue as “something that might be at a bar”, as not all bars have dart boards. Not all graffiti is artistic - some may be gang-related (either as a form of communication or to lay claim to their territory) or just crude vandalism. It is interesting how consistently Rex discounts or pans things that he doesn’t understand, lol.

Nancy 8:52 AM  

One of the most sophisticated, clever, and timely puzzles of the year and this was done by a crossword class???. Will Shortz and his successors can relax: they can look forward to a steady supply of able and imaginative constructors for the next half century or longer.

Oh, yes, I do understand that Natan and Andy were involved too. Still, I'm wondering in what ways the class contributed? I'm also wondering why I didn't ever have a class like that when I was a kid? You could have placed it in my school schedule right where my hated Biology Class went. And, who knows, I might have embarked on my newfound *career* as a crossword co-constructor 60 years ago. Sigh.

But, seriously, I absolutely loved this puzzle and found it clever, clever, clever. I also learned some stuff, since I never heard of NORMCORE and had no idea that TAMARIND was an ingredient in my much-loved, often used Worcestershire sauce. Great job, class! You, too, Natan and Andy.

Sir Hillary 8:55 AM  

All in all, this is fine. Let's be honest -- it's a slightly ridiculous puzzle that would never exist if not for a massively ridiculous mess in the UK. But top marks for timeliness (especially given BoJo's setback yesterday) and for going full-goofy on the themers.

What I liked:
-- LAURA/HBO. I was thinking about "Big Little Lies" driving to work this morning, because I heard the Michael Kiwanuka theme song. I loved that show.
-- GUITARSOLO. Yeah, Jimmy Page could shred. But he's fighting a lawsuit claiming the "Stairway" intro was lifted from someone else.
-- TAMARIND. Tried TAbasco first. How dumb is that?
-- Nice clue for DART.

What I didn't:
-- Is EDGAR Wright well-known? I just looked him up on IMDb, and I guess he is, but he makes the kind of movies I don't watch, although I've heard "Baby Driver" is good. I feel old.
-- SLYLOOKS is green paint.
-- This is irrational, but just as some were complaining Monday about "-aholic" and "-gate", I cannot cannot cannot stand the proliferation of "-core" as a suffix. NORMCORE fashion and countless "-core" supposed music genres -- just stop. Like I said, it's irrational. Perhaps I am just rantcore.

pabloinnh 9:01 AM  

Well whew. I was sure OFL was going to go ballistic on how "none of these phrases is in the language!", which he often does, and just accepts them as wacky. What a nice surprise.

I see NORMCORE as "go to", as in, my go to "fashion" style.

My son and family are currently living in England, and they have no idea about what's going to happen with Brexit either.

LANK was a gimme, as I have read LOTR enough times to remember that Gollum's hair is invariably described that way.

Happy birthday blog, thanks to Rex. Can't imagine my day without the NYT XC.

davidm 9:01 AM  

I can usually predict when Rex will like a puzzle, since we seem to share roughly the same likes/dislikes. I loved this puzzle, and predicted he would like it, and sure enough …

This just works on so many levels. All the theme answers are perfectly plausible and suitably wacky iterations of the clues, especially CEREBRAL CEREAL, which I so wish would enter the lexicon as a genuine Thing. I’d love to see a book review end: “In sum, this thoughtful volume should provide its readers with plenty of cerebral cereal.” Lol.

But second, it works because you realize all this wackiness comes from repeating the same word twice, but in the second word, the letters BR have “exited” — which, of course, aligns beautifully with the revealer, which itself is a clever misdirection revealer — I kept wondering what the themers had to do with the British Exist, until the “aha!” moment came.

And that’s the third nice thing — the revealer slyly repurposes the portmanteau BREXIT to make it literally mean “BR exit.” Beautifully done, I thought.

Rex misreads the nice misdirection clue of 2 Down. What “might be tipped” in a bar are not the darts themselves, which of course are always tipped. The clue is simply suggesting that there might be darts in a bar — or there might not be, if there is no dartboard. The misdirection, of course, is that that clue makes one think the answer is some kind of gratuity.

NORMCORE is a new on one me. Nice to learn a new word of recent vintage!

I also enjoyed the opposites-attract crossing of AMBLES and RACE BY.

Nice puzzle, and thanks to all associated with it!

albatross shell 9:06 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
albatross shell 9:20 AM  

@QuasiMojo 733am
Brits seem to keep looking in the box to see if Brexit is dead or alive. Perhaps Brexit is first
cousin of Schrodinger's cat.
And in this puzzle the BR is there and not there simultaneously.

TJS 9:20 AM  

Edgar,Laura,Breyer,Ida,Ahab,Geri,Rory,Baba, McBeal,Roo,Rio.
And yet: "lively,whimsical,flashy,clean,shines". Yeah, there's some "amazing alchemy" going on here. What a dork.

OffTheGrid 9:32 AM  

41A, HOMBRESHOMES is somewhat an outlier. It works visually, but HOMBRE (I think) is pronounced with silent H and short O sound and the E is not silent as in HOMES. Not a major flaw but it's there.

Jyqm 9:33 AM  

Those of us on Greta Thunberg’s good side got a rather boring “Thumbs-up” clue for 39A, while those who throw away a massive stack of paper every week got the much more fun “What 👌 means.” (Come to think of it, I’m not sure if Blogspot comments are any more advanced than the NYT app, so if nothing shows up there: it’s the index-finger-to-thumb emoji.)

GILL I. 9:36 AM  

I can always count on the JASA group to come up with something fun.
I had the ITCHES at 16A and then sauntered on down to get BREXIT. Ooh, sez moi....I bet I have to get rid of the BR. Yes...this is going to be fun, but I kept thinking they wouldn't really say bitches get itches, would they?
Imagine sitting in a classroom and tossing out possibilities . I can't think of any right now since it's awfully early for me but still, this had to have been a hoot to construct. Can I join?
BREXIT drives my British sister-in-law, loca. Boris Johnson looks like Moe of the Three Stooges. We could have the three poster boys: Boris, Frump and blackface Trudeau. Imagine that.
NORM CORE is new. Thank you OREO and SOHO friends . BABA needs some rum and we once again have Oh No, ONO. Fun stuff here.
Wow, 13 years? I think of how young I was back when I first met you, @Rex. I love this place and I imagine most of us who keep posting here do as well. It''s on my "must do" list. I've met so many "cyber" friends and hope to continue. I don't agree with a lot of what @Rex says but he invites us to his home every day. You can like the filet mignon and hate the Mac and cheese, or you can always excuse yourself and leave. I do miss those that hated the "Mac" and wish the likes of @evil Doug, @Foodie, @joho, and, well...too many to name. Please stay around, at least another 13. And...thank you.

Rita 9:39 AM  


JASA = Jewish Association Serving the Aging


Clover 9:40 AM  

Can anyone explain 2D to me? Not understanding how "might be tipped at a bar" could mean "might be in a bar." I already assumed that the clue was not referring to "tipped" in the sense of a 20% gratuity, so I was trying to think of other uses for the word (tipped over, maybe). But I'm totally lost on how this clue means "something that might exist in a bar" ...which is what the comments have led me to believe is the case.


Carola 9:57 AM  

This one was as hard for me to understand as the Brits' vote to leave the E.U. - I struggled from top to bottom. EDGAR? NORMCORE? GERI? BABA? RORY? RIO? I don't know when I've had so many in my "No idea" column. And in my newspaper that crucial emoji was so tiny and grayed out that I couldn't tell what it was. Apart from that - nifty puzzle! As @davidm 9:01 so eloquently said.

Ethan Taliesin 9:59 AM  

Happy birthday, you're almost ready to start vaping!

It's an optimistic, innocent (if not sometimes awkward) age, so enjoy it because next comes the idealism, tempered by angst and moodiness. Maybe even nihilism.

Good puzzle. I would have gone for SNITCHESSTITCHES in a 15-box grid, but ants in the pants is fun, too.

davidm 10:01 AM  

@Clover, it means, "What might be in a bar, which -- if it is -- happens to be tipped."

Missy 10:03 AM  

@Nancy JASA is a social sevices agency serving older adults in the NY area. You still may embark on a newfound "career"!

QuasiMojo 10:04 AM  

@AlbatrossShell, I appreciate your comment. But I still feel the use of "exit" to describe what is happening in the themers makes little sense. This feels more like a "Brexit vote" theme. To stay or not to stay. To exit or not to exit. Which is why the BR is there and not there as you say. It represents both options. But the Brits have already voted to exit. It is not a choice anymore. Or at least not yet. (I hope they do reconsider.) So in my book it is a contradiction to keep the BR in the first half of the answer. If we are to claim that the BR is exiting in order to create the second half, then it can't still be present in the first since it has left the arena, so to speak. I understand it is just a silly puzzle and it doesn't require this type of picky analysis on my part. People can agree or disagree with me. I didn't like it. Sorry @Nancy et al. I beg to differ.

Unknown 10:12 AM  

I agree that the theme was fun and the puzzle well constructed overall. I think producing a puzzle as a group effort is probably a good strategy, as bad fill is generally the result of a single puzzle author not thinking of something better.

This puzzle had an unusual amount of references to things I have no experience with - at least for this early in the week. I know nothing about Big Little Lies, with two clues. Didn't even know it was an HBO property. As well as I can remember, I've never heard of EDGAR Wright, BABA O'Riley, RORY McIlroy, the fact that John Lennon was a parent, GERI Halliwell, the album RIO, or NORM CORE. (Why do golfers keep coming up in the crossword? Their names never stick in my head.) I have heard of Gypsy Rose Lee, but couldn't have told you she wore a BOA when performing.

I don't have any trouble with using LANK to describe hair, though it's not how I'd describe what the rain does to my hair.

There was nothing in here I really didn't like, as me not knowing a thing isn't an argument that it should be excluded.

GNU is a bit of a crosswordly word, but I like it because in the computer world it's also the name of an important free software collection, and a rare example of a recursive acronym, standing for "GNU's Not Unix."

Jyqm 10:20 AM  

@Quasimojo I’m with you on this. Usually with some kind of “exit” theme like this, the BR would be totally missing from the answers. And frankly, I think it would have been more fun to have a bunch of short themers where (starred) clue and answer don’t seem to match up at all. (How does HOMES mean “Caballeros”?! What do ITCHES have to do with “Trousers”?!) then the revealer would actually be revealing something. As it is, the “wackiness” of these phrases fell flat to me.

Anonymoose 10:22 AM  

It's a crossword puzzle not a crossemoji puzzle.

CDilly52 10:24 AM  

I am 100% with @Lewis on this. Have to confess, however that the HOMBRE HOMES confused me for a bit because it did not rhyme. But then. . . Aha!!! The reveal and we have a theme that works. I roused my aging brain, gave it some CEREBRAL CEREAL and really got that “now this is a puzzle with a theme” feeling. Filled in NORMCORE (or the CORE part) from crosses with note to self-look this up. Fresh and snappy yet very NYT! Thanks one and all for your constructing efforts!

davidm 10:30 AM  

HOMES = casas, per the clue. The ITCHES refer to the "ants" in the "pants" -- BRITCHES.

RooMonster 10:37 AM  

Hey All !
ROO here, and I SAY this puz did not OFFEND, BRO, maybe not the BEST, but AOK with no need for ONOs and SCOLDS. I NEVER RACE BY, prefer to AMBLE through the puz. NO LIE. Got a NOSE for the BR EXIT thingamabob, but I'DA thought they would all rhyme after the first two. But, NYET.
If your NORMCORE BRITCHES ITCHES, you might get some SLY LOOKS from DOLLS as you DART around trying to BAIL out of said BRITCHES.
Date LOAF is now IN SEASON. As ARE BABA ghanouj. Har.
Gonna grab my SAX, turn off the HBO and AOL, get EDGAR, GERI and LAURA with her BOA, put on my best CUFFlinkS, head out to a park BENCH,and play some ART that an ARMY of people can ROOT for. OLE!

That silliness aside, a fun puz, on the easy side, with a cool repurpose of BREXIT. To add to @Lewis' observation of ROOT-ROO, we have DART-ART, plus NEST-BEST. ATT and AOL.

LANK was a WOE as clued, however, apparently according to @pabloinnh, it's a thing. I've never read/watched LOTR, so I cannot confirm nor deny that use.

@Nancy, in case you didn't see some previous comments, the J.A.S.A. class are seniors. I also thought at first they were students/teens. But someone here before mentioned they were a class of seniors making puzs. Might be on Jeff Chen's write-up spot, not sure.

An overall good time, failed to notice the 14 wide grid.

ROO out.


TJS 10:38 AM  

@Clover,not sure about others' explanations, but many bars have dart games, the majority of which use darts with plastic tips because of safety concerns, rather that steel points used in tournament level contests. The plastic tips can be screwed off and replaced when they become dulled by use. Thus, something which can be tipped in a bar=dart.

Newboy 10:39 AM  

illiant J.A.S.A. Dudes! Your BREXIT had my BRITCHES in S(t)ITCHES. Thanks for a healthy serving of CEREBRAL CEREAL ; I feel fortified to AMBLE through my Wednesday now.


Cute Puzzle, from a group of kids? I am guessing???

It did have OREO, ugh. OREO the Killer.

Slowed because I thought it was Thursday and I was looking for a catch, lol

Z 11:02 AM  

I was NORMCORE before NORMCORE was. Going to college during the Preppie Era, I was aggressively white button downs from the Salvation ARMY store and blue Dickey’s. I hated jeans, Dickey’s were far more comfortable. Plus the look was just close enough to not stand out at parties or in class, while I never needed to buy anything with a Polo Player logo on the chest. One of my preppie pals introduced me to RIO my senior fall. This was still the early days of MTV, and the album didn’t actually do all that well until the videos came out and Simon LeBon became a heartthrob. We had about six months of feeling superior, and then a whole bunch of middle school girls started to love them. Ah, college, when we were certain we knew everything and were better than everyone.

All graffiti is art, not all graffiti is Art. What is art, after all, but a person’s attempt at immortality, shouting into the void, “I was here.” My middle school had this white retaining wall that was an open invitation for graffiti. I asked the art teacher to have the kids do a mural. The result was what you would expect from an 8th grade art class, and also stopped the wall from getting graffitied. I was still a little dumbfounded when I had to explain to the superintendent. A neighbor had called and complained that it made the school look like it was “in the ghetto.” My 13 year old artists were proud, the neighbor incensed.

Lewis 11:02 AM  

FYI -- The JASA class is open to those 55 and older.

Newboy 11:05 AM  

A quick second thought on 2d clueing after reading Rex: “real “ bars have darts that draw blood, but “family-friendly” establishments resort to kid safe Velcro balls which stick to a felt “board” safely. Worst pub experience ever was after a hash we were confronted by suction cup darts and Bud Lite! On On indeed.

Robyn S 11:07 AM  

Fun puzzle, and my best Wednesday time ever! :)

Joaquin 11:08 AM  

He likes it! Mikey likes it!

A great birthday celebration when Rex, his followers, and his detractors all agree on (and like) the puzzle.

David 11:11 AM  

Well I thought it was really just a bunch of groaners then I came here and read about the BR thing. Makes me like it much better. I did note there were letters missing in the second word, I just didn't connect it to Brexit at all. Still, I found it super easy.

I wouldn't say there's no junk fill however, but there's also a lot of good fill so there's that.

I do miss those old Redbirds beautifully painted all the way down their sides, I don't miss the gang tags and plain old vandalism inside them. You can take some nice graffiti tours in NYC; much even survived the Giuliani years, thankfully.

I imagine in the UK, where they take their darts very seriously, many folks come into the pub with their own darts, often carried in a special pouch which holds the shafts, tips, and wings, which one assembles to begin a game and disassembles afterwards. So they may be tipped or them may be disassembled, aka untipped.

Accrue, Tamarind, sly looks, raises hell. Nice.

I'm curious, in the class are the student constructors told the proper ratio of puzzles in which to use "oreo"? 6 out of 10 or so? Ono? HBO? AOK? etc...

Joe Dipinto 11:22 AM  

♪ Ooh, it makes me wonder... ♪

BREXIT seems tailor-made to be a theme for a clever puzzle. Unfortunately, this isn't it. Yeah, it all works, but it's just bland.

I'm liking Jim Horne's note about HUAC over at XWord Info.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

With regard to DARTs and tips: depending on how one defines 'tip', there are more than one kind of dartboard, and DARTs used with same. The archetypal Brit board is made of either cork or rolled paper (and possibly otherwise) and uses metal body darts with nasty sharp metal front ends ('tip'). In US bars, OTOH, one might also find plastic boards with holes drilled in the face. The dart has to land in a hole to count. The hole is chamfered at the front surface to, sorta kinda, guide off-center throws into the hole. The darts are (mostly) plastic, including the business end, which is quite blunt. Technically, since it's the front of the dart it is a 'tip', it's not going to pierce anything important should it go awry. Beer drinkers and such tend to throw things at each other late at night.

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

GNU and wildebeest (I forgot it's 'ee' not 'ea'; learned something today) are the same critter. someday we'll get the latter as the answer. may be for
Will I Love Debbie Eating Beets Even Extra Sweet Tangy?

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Graffiti is vandalism. It's a crime.
@z, Let me know where you live, I'll be happy to give you some art or even ART on one of your walls.

Joseph M 12:09 PM  

Happy 13, Rex!

I can’t imagine how a group of people works together to create a crossword. Bravo to whoever came up with the BR EXIT concept. Clever and timely. The themers were slightly tortured (I could hear one screaming) but delivered the goods overall. Liked CEREBRAL CEREAL the BEST.

Not as crazy about the fill. Couldn’t somebody in the class come up with something better than ELBA, OREO, EAVE, BRO, ONO, etc. and all of those @#% names?

Did like GUITAR SOLO and RAISES HELL. Also the Forrest Gump clue. Kept trying to remember what setting that bench was in until I finally realized that the settling was the BENCH itself.

But shouldn’t BABA have been clued as the Wawa character on SNL?

Whatsername 12:31 PM  

I was a little slow on the uptake this morning and it took me a while to get the whole BR EXIT connection but wow! What a brilliant and timely concept. A joy, a bit of a challenge and a lot of fun. Thanks to the entire construction team. Don’t get to say that very often.

Another thing not often said – Happy Birthday to Rex’s Blog! Like the mixed bag of crosswords I eagerly anticipate each day, it is informative, enlightening, sometimes frustrating, always entertaining and rarely disappointing. I look forward to many more years of both.

puzzlehoarder 12:49 PM  

A clever charming theme. More of a Tuesday level solve than a Wednesday.

I went from the NE straight down to the SW. This made 55A effortless and further sped the solve.

I had to look up poster images after solving to get the 25D clue. I never could understand the appeal of that movie.

Music Man 12:56 PM  

Most darts are metal-tipped

QuasiMojo 1:03 PM  

@jyqm, glad you agree. Well said.

Music Man 1:03 PM  

Many music references today:
Sean ONO Lennon (33A)
“Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin (3D)
GERI Halliwell of The Spice Girls (23D)
Charlie Parker’s SAX (26D)
“BABA O’Reilly” by The Who (34D)
“RIO” by Duran Duran (57D)

Plus musical theatre references in:
“Guys And DOLLS” (62A)
Gypsy Rose Lee’s BOA (29D)

old timer 1:13 PM  

Of course OFL liked the puzzle. He is always kind to the aspiring constructors from that xword class, and admires those who take the time to act as mentors and teachers.

I spent several months of 1966 in England and often went to London. I can tell you that SOHO was far from an upscale district. It was where the strip shows were, and adult movies of the pre-porn era, and on some streets, there were doorbells with only a female name attached, a sign that a hooker was upstairs if you were ready, willing, and able. (Prostitution was legal, but bordellos and pimping were outlawed, so the doorbell method was a legal way of doing business). As a survival of earlier days, SOHO was also where you found Italian restaurants, and a few other foreign cuisines.

On subsequent trips, it was clear that some gentrification was creeping in, but SOHO was not, and probably never will be, as upscale as Mayfair or Belgravia or even Hampstead. Where gentrification is causing some Londoners to tear their LANK hair and rend their NORMCORE clothing is in parts of the City, and especially in the close-in, once very affordable, neighborhoods north of the City, like Islington and Clerkenwell.

Michael Page 1:27 PM  

Extra credit for the Bill O'Reilly as Middle-aged Wasteland line, might be your best yet!

kitshef 1:27 PM  

Although Rex launched his blog on 9/25/06, the first blog comment did not come until three days later, on September 28.

That very first comment complained that Rex criticizes answers he doesn't know. Thank goodness we've move past that!

The first spam comment came on September 30, and was the only comment on that day.

Cineman 1:34 PM  

Because Tom Hanks. It won a lot of awards, too, including best picture. BUT awards are often not an indication of how good a movie is. There have been some real stinkers IMO. The worst being Birdman (2015) I would have left the theater mid-movie if I hadn't been there with friends. Of course there are folks who rate Birdman the best ever. So there ya go.

Shiraz 1:45 PM  

I thought NOSE was just a fancy way of saying wine smell, a feature of the wine, not the taster. (I once won a blind wine tasting party with a cheap bottle from a grocery chain)

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

I'm glad Rex enjoyed it but this puzzle actually really bummed me out. A lot of UK citizens are deeply hurt and angry about how the Brexit is changing their options for working, studying, meeting partners, etc. on the continent. To me, it feels not dissimilar to seeing TRUMP or NRA in the puzzle - "I get that this is a useful piece of fill (a theme, in this case!) but I do puzzles to get away from news that fills me with impotent rage." Admittedly, Brexit isn't straight up killing anyone, but it is doing harm, and things will probably get worse from here.

Anonymous 2:57 PM  

only the Shadow NOSE. I think the clue is deceptive, but within bounds. it says, "Wine lover's asset", as in, something the wine lover loves. although hearing NOSE used to mean the skill of a professional wine taster does strike a familiar NOtE.

Teedmn 3:01 PM  

I couldn't comment right after I solved because Rex wasn't up at 5 AM NY time. So this is my comment from this morning without having the chance to read everyone else. Apologies for repeats:

I found the theme rather confusing since the first two themers rhymed and the second two didn't. CEREBRAL CEREAL (great clue, BTW) almost rhymed but HOMBRES HOMES, not even close. I'm sure I won't be the only person to mention this.

But after finally understanding how the revealing answer, BR EXIT, worked with the theme, I liked it a lot.

I have to come up with a way to remember HUAC. HVAC with a U? Probably not going to work.

Nice job, Natan, Andy and the JASA gang.

JC66 3:24 PM  

House Un-American Activities Committee

Anonymous 3:30 PM  


They saved us from Godless Communism, you know.

jae 3:35 PM  

Easy. Clever and topical. Nicely done, liked it.

@Sir Hillary - Baby Driver is worth a look. If you want a hi-brow connection, Lily James from Downton Abbey plays the love interest.

...and @ Jim Horne’s comment at Xwordinfo, amen!

chefwen 3:43 PM  

Dear Rex, what @GILL I said 9:36. Happy Blogday!

tea73 5:04 PM  

Coming in late. Loved the theme. Somehow missed what The Who's Teenage Wasteland's real title was. Happy Blogday Rex!

Z 5:11 PM  

@Anon11:50 - I’ll just leave this here.

Nancy from Chicago 6:26 PM  

Congratulations on the anniversary! I only discovered this blog a couple of months ago, but now whenever I do an old puzzle from the archives I also look up your entry for that day.

Marc 6:49 PM  

@z-the link you published is swell but it not, by definition:”writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place”, graffiti.

Doc John 6:59 PM  

I wouldn't call any of that scratchy gang shit that defaces so many buildings and bridges ART.
I'm also surprised that Rex didn't call out the fact that two themers had the BR at the beginning, whereas the other two had the BR elsewhere. I say put that third (of four) BR elsewhere, too, or put them all at the beginning. He will call out many other constructors for this same thing. And, BRITCHES ITCHES doesn't really make sense.
I'd love to see his reviews if he could do the puzzle without knowing the constructor.
Finally- happy anniversary!

Nancy 9:17 PM  

Aha. JASA is a crossword class for older people, not school kids. Possibly I had read that at sometime in the past, but I certainly didn't remember it today. Anyway I'm relieved to hear it: it means that I shouldn't consider my own school years as having been deprived, crossword puzzle-wise. I was suffering from a bit of FO[H}MO (fear of having missed out).

Z 12:44 AM  

@Marc - The graffiti was specifically preserved when the old rail line was converted to the greenway. Shockingly, there is Art beyond the Thomas Kinkade variety.

Fred Endemann 11:09 AM  

Cannot find dates easily on RP blog

Burma Shave 11:41 AM  


“BRO, INEVER said it’s AOK,
but their SLYLOOKS ARE syndromes
of ACTS that OFFEND me so ISAY
let’s CUFF those HOMBRES,HOMES.”


spacecraft 11:56 AM  

Cute puzzle; dumb-sounding themers but tied up nicely with the centrally located revealer. I think OFC is being uncharacteristically kind; we do have those old clunkers EKE and OREO among the fill, but otherwise not bad. Never heard of that EDGAR fellow, nor of NORMCORE, and yeah, the definition of LANK caused a bit of a pause. Make it easy-medium. Did not notice that it was only 14 wide. GERI--or any Spice Girl--is a shoo-in for DOD. Birdie.

leftcoast 2:40 PM  

Nice mix of the new and old, easy and obscure, and theme cleverness.

First thought theme was based in some part on rhyming, but HOMBRE'S HOMES didn't work for that. The BR EXIT idea was clear enough Didn't pay much attention to the repeated words, though, because they were a given. But again HOMBRE'S HOMES seemed a bit awkward among the themers.

NORM CORE and TAMARIND were symmetric outliers. Elsewhere, BABA was a "huh?"

Engaging puzzle.

rainforest 4:11 PM  

I didn't know that the J.A.S.A. class was for er, older people. Still youngsters to me, ahem. Anyway, this class usually produces good puzzles and this one is no exception.

I thought the revealer was excellent, highlighting the contrast between the two words in each themer as it does. Once I got rid of the idea that the themers were rhyming, HOMBRES HOMES was a quiet aha. LANK as an adjective of lifeless, possibly damp, hair is well-known, at least to me.

I'm one of the few who didn't like Forrest Gump, and the fact it won "best picture" over The Shawshank Redemption still OFFENDs me. I had a nice bowl of CEREBRAL CEREAL this morning. Don't know if it helped, though (trenchant word there).

Diana, LIW 5:24 PM  

Anyone think BREXIT really will happen? What will we talk about if it is ever over?

Diana, Lady

leftcoast 7:16 PM  

Way above, @OffTheGrid puts his finger on what bothered me about HOMBRE'S HOMES.

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