Alternative to ChapStick / THU 11-21-19 / Channing with 14-year NBA career / Alki for Washington State / Peak in Thessaly / Sound recording copyright symbols

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Constructor: Aimee Lucido

Relative difficulty: Challenging (8:48 on an oversized 16-wide grid)

THEME: MIND THE GAP (39A: Underground warning ... or a warning about four squares in this grid) — four squares have "GAP" in them going Across, but represent an actual gap (i.e. an empty space) going Down:

Theme answers:
  • THE BI(G AP)PLE (25A: New York City) / "REPO [gap] MAN"(5D: Car tower)
  • TO(GA P)ARTY (23A: Classic fraternity bash) / BAD [gap] IDEA (10D: "Uh-oh! Don't do that!")
  • SIN(GAP)OREAN (57A: Native of the Lion City) / GYM [gap] SHOE (41D: Bit of workout gear)
  • YO(GA P)ANTS (60A: Activewear akin to leggings) / ICE [gap] AGE (44D: Long cold spell)
Word of the Day: Rob ESTES (37A: "Melrose Place" actor Rob) —
Robert Estes (born July 22, 1963) is an American actor. He is known for his roles as Harry Wilsonon the teen drama series 90210, as Sgt. Chris Lorenzo on the crime drama series Silk Stalkings, and as Kyle McBride on the primetime soap opera Melrose Place. (wikipedia)
• • •

I guess the NYT has decided that if you can't beat The New Yorker (the superior crossword at the moment), then just join The New Yorker ... by publishing The New Yorker's regular contributors. Yesterday, Erik Agard. Today, Aimee Lucido. Fine by me. The New Yorker constructor team is ridiculously good. This puzzle played *so* hard for me, and only partly because of the theme. I did kind of fake fall asleep there for a bit, thinking I'd solve in the morning, but instead I got up to solve now (the nighttime), so mayyyybe I'm a little groggy, but I think the clues were just hard, or hard for me to grasp, anyway, I had virtually nothing on my first pass through the entire top half. I think I had, let's see ... EARN, TIE and TOIL, IRE, OPA (wrong), and CLE. That is absolutely it. Finally went SPEAR ESCS (oof, one of the rare ugly bits) CLARITY SPF and got some traction, but even then—blanked on Channing FRYE (73A: Channing with a 14-year N.B.A. career (2005-19), had SLIT at 67A: Cut (SKIP) ... and couldn't get out of that corner. And so the struggle continued...

Eventually stumbled into the center and got the revealer Easy (mayyyybe shoulda found the revealer earlier: note to self!), and so realized that there would be GAPs ... then after getting SNEAKER, figured out one of the GAPs had to be in GYM [space] SHOE, and it was around there that I got SIN(GAP)OREAN, and the full meaning of the theme became clear. But even then, finding those gaps, and just getting all the regular fill, proved slow-going. Everywhere I turned, I just shrugged. Forgot that "Melrose Place" actor ESTES. No idea re: ROSIE the picture book engineer (5A: "___ Revere, Engineer" (best-selling picture book)). Proper nouns are nice when you know them, but brutal when you don't. I don't know how PEES factor into sound recording copyright info or even what the "P" might stand for (31D: Sound recording copyright symbols) (short answer: phonogram). Not expecting SIMP, which feels pejorative, even if it's not, exactly (I briefly thought it was gonna be GIMP, which, yikes) (61D: Fool). I had AIR for ACT (52D: Pretense) and an IMAC Pro, is that a thing? (30A: ___ Pro (IPAD)). [Alternative to ChapStick]??? No clue (EOS). Wanted to SHIR (?) my eggs (10A: Mix, as eggs (BEAT)). TADAS was rough. Had to navigate the horrid EVADE/ELUDE dilemma (64A: Get around). It was a struggle. And extra-wide, so a slightly longer struggle than a normally sized 15x15 might've been. I found some of the fill not great, and it was very much Not on my wavelength in many parts, but the theme is fantastic, and really nicely executed. A very nice puzzle that I wish I'd had a smoother / more pleasant time with.

Helpful proper noun gimmes: MAYA, REGAN, CLE, OSSA, ROO
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:15 AM  

This theme has definitely appeared in the NYT crossword before. I believe it was a two-way rebus, rather than rebus across and actual gap down, but I believe even the themer cluing was roughly the same.

I remember this puzzle because I solved it in London (it was part of an NYT collection) and I thought to myself, I might never have gotten the 'Mind the Gap' reference if I hadn't been riding the underground all day.

Just wanted to throw that out there, given the discussion from this week's first two puzzles.

jae 12:20 AM  

Mostly easy-medium except for the SE. Had SnIP before SKIP and SINGAPOREAN was not easy to see, nor was SIMP, NESS, and MOTTO.

Fun Thursday, liked it.

CDilly52 1:04 AM  

I loved every minute of this solve! Couldn’t get a toehold and wandered from the NW where all I had was SSE in a counter clockwise manner around the outside of the grid. At 60A I just knew the answer had to be YOGA PANTS, but where would the rebus be? Hmmmmmm. . . Moving on.

Made no significant progress until back at the center top. Incorrectly entered ulTRA then PLIES across and STILL, IRE and EAST down. Left the ulTRA there.

Dead center and bingo. ADAGE, DDAY, ATRAS, PEES (I used to teach copyright to library students.). That gave me —-DTHE at the reveal and suddenly, the sun shone and the unicorns and rainbows filled the sky and those YOGAPANTS knew exactly what to do!! MIND THE GAP!!

At the reveal, the remainder of the solve was an absolute whirlwind-Monday fast, filling in squares as fast as my fat thumbs can tap, tap, tap. My total time was typical Thursday but I easily spent three times as long getting to the “aha!” moment as I did finishing the puzzle once I got the trick.

Expertly crafted with the rebus and the “GAP” being used as a non black “gap!” What fun. Possibly the best Thursday offering in at least a year. We

Jyqm 1:05 AM  

I’ll note since I don’t think Rex explicitly mentioned it: the GAPs in the down answers all represent the space between two words, and those four are the only multi-word down answers, which is a very elegant touch on already great theme concept. The GAPs themselves are all very nicely hidden, too — split either between two words or, in one case, two syllables. Definitely some rough spots in the fill, but well worth it for a tight Thursday theme that works so well on multiple levels.

Daniel 1:21 AM  

eos is a brand of lip balms, maybe theoretically a competitor of ChapStick as much as the Orioles were competitive in the AL East. EoS = “Evolution of Smooth”. They come in little plastic eggs, I guess I’ve seen them before but it’s hardly common enough to be considered adequate fill

chefwen 1:43 AM  

Absolutely loved this one. Got the trick almost immediately with 39A. Remembered it from a previous puzzle not long ago and from many times traveling on The Tube in London. Took a little longer to ignore the GAP on the downs, but finally figured it out.

Similar idea but with a twist.

okanaganer 1:46 AM  

@anonymous 12:15, I have also definitely seen this theme, at least 2 times previously.
I think once with a 'GAP' rebus; can't find that one.
(2018 oct 7, not what I'm thinking of; looks like something different?)

And once where the gap was just a gap, eg black squares:
2013 jan 17

That notwithstanding, thanks Aimee, or as I like to call her, Our Lady of the Vowels.

chris b 2:29 AM  

Theme was super obvious to me for whatever reason and everything went smoothly. If not for going with TULIP for 6D I would have had a chance to finish before Rex for the first time ever.

Loren Muse Smith 2:36 AM  

Love this theme!

I had an easier time than Rex. My only hiccup was paying attention and ignoring the GAP coming down. I was being dense and distracted by CNN.

I first had “ten pm” for prime time, so I thought maybe those theater kids may be “armed.” We live in scary times.

For me, ABASH isn’t as strong as “humiliate.” But then I think of the things I’m an unabashed fan of, and, yeah, I guess it should be “humiliate.” Bravo tv, Rice Krispy treats, Bachelor in Paradise, Big Macs, and my newest discovery. . . Hallmark Christmas movies, especially the ones that involve a dog or a soldier. Jeez Louise, they’re good. I recently saw one that involved a shelter dog adopted by a mentally-challenged kid but only for the holidays but then the dog saved this dachshund Lucy and her just-born puppies from a cougar, I swear, and the kid’s parents decided he could keep the dog but they had already returned the dog to the shelter, but he had escaped but then he showed up at their house. And then the shelter called and offered the kid a job. I was bawling.

CLARITY is a big word on Bachelor in Paradise. Like, even though we just met like yesterday he’s like amazing and I feel safe like opening up with him and he’s like so hot and I think I want to be like engaged but I need some like one-on-one time for like CLARITY. I’m powerless not to watch this crap. Create a spinoff called Bachelor in Paradise with Dogs and Soldiers, and Oh. My. God.

I don’t own YOGA PANTS, but I do own leggings. Three pairs. If I wear them in public I wear all three at the same time ‘cause I’m so self-conscious. And even then, I make sure my sweatshirt is really long to, well, cover that fine line.

“How [Rexworld] trolls often comment” – from a place of yellow-bellied anonymity. SKIP them.

SSGT Gary Johnson and Trixie, Dog First Class 5:29 AM  

Well I just loved this here puzzle!

I did it here in my tent at the front, and I'm so happy because today's the last day of my enlistment. I'm going home! I'm in the K-9 Corps, 1st Battalion, and I've got my trusty pup Trixie with me. She's just the greatest pal a G.I. could ever have! She's a four year old shepherd and today's her last day too! And you know what? They said I could keep her and she can come home with me!

We only have one more routine patrol to make, no problem. We're just going to sniff for some land mines over in that last sector we ain't checked yet. Most of the snipers are gone and there ain't been a poison gas attack in weeks, so we'll be back in a jiffy. They're already setting up for our farewell party!

Gosh, me and Trixie are looking forward to the rest of our lives. What fun we'll have!

Back in a few!

Lewis 6:12 AM  

This was one skillfully made puzzle, what with big ol' clumps of letters throughout yet light on the junk, with vague cluing and calls for out-of-wheelhouse knowledge on my part, which caused hesitation through the journey, plus a well-executed theme that kept me alertly on the hunt.

All of which had me leaving the puzzle beaming at a well-earned victory and the joy that comes from experiencing a thing of beauty. Thank you, Aimee, and please, don't be a stranger!

Geezer 6:44 AM  

Hate the rebus and this puzzle is a good example of why.

Jules 7:25 AM  

I hate rebuses anyway (if you can't fit your answers into the number of squares, make up a different puzzle), but this one was exceptionally bad.

kitshef 7:30 AM  

Had to chip away, chip away. Never got easy for me. I knew something was up when SINGAPOREAN wouldn’t fit, but it still took a while to figure out why.

Guessed correctly at PEES/IPAD/OMA area. Never heard of PEES or OMA. I figured it had to be IPAD or IPoD, although the "pro" meant nothing to me. Since Spanish feminine words often end in "A", I hoped that German was similar and went with OMA over OMo. Rest of the puzzle was dandy, but that area left a bitter taste.

EOS was also unknown, but crosses were easier there.

ncmathsadist 7:37 AM  

Cluing error: Mass is a Catholic service. And Amazing Grace is never heard in Catholic churches.

QuasiMojo 7:39 AM  

It seems like just yesterday that we were all talking about "mind the gap" in a different puzzle. It had to be the NYT because I don't follow or comment on the other blogs. Aimee clued it as "underground" which made me think of London, but it's a very common phrase in the Big Apple subway and LIRR. The familiarity caused me to be slightly bored with this puzzle. But looking at it again there's little that I find egregious, except Repo Man not clued as that iconic 80s flick. :) I liked the clue for prism.

7 1/2 year old kid 7:45 AM  

God Bless and thank you for your service.

Hungry Mother 7:59 AM  

Loved the rebus, but it was a long slog, especially in the NE. Much slower than usual.

Patri15 8:00 AM  

Almost never... its origin is Protestant.

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

This is Aimee Lucido’ fifth NYT crossword. The first one in 2010. Erik Agard has done forty two Times puzzles since 2012. But yeah, they’re really New Yorker constructors. Whatever dude.

chefbea 8:10 AM  

why is eos an alternative to chapstick??? Don't get it.

Elle 54 8:25 AM  

I thought Rex wasn’t gonna like it because the “gap” placements weren’t symmetrical!

American Liberal Elite 8:27 AM  

Buchanan and Jackson were not Irish. They were Scots-Irish.

SouthsideJohnny 8:33 AM  

Wow, tough one for me - I’m one of (apparently a small minority) who have never heard of “mind the gap” - still have no clue what it means. Something related to subways ? Was able to discern the rebus when I realized that BIG APPLE was needed and made a bit of progress.

IPAD crossing PEES was very tough. Lots of tricky wordplay as well - seems like the constructor is pretty highly regarded.

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

@ncmathsadist - Gotta love Roman Catholics - No other church exists. The Eastern & Russian Orthodox Churches, the Lutherans and Episcopalians at the very least all have Masses. I know I've heard Amazing Grace at a Funeral Mass in several of them.

Suzie Q 8:38 AM  

Great puzzle that felt very satisfying to solve. Loved it.

That wonderful feeling has now been replaced by the post by SSGT Gary
and Trixie as they embark on their mission that most certainly will be their last. @ LMS is being trolled in the most hilarious way. I'm sure she is enjoying it too. Could that creative troll be our own @JOHN X? It must be one of our regulars. What a fun day in Crossworld!

mmorgan 8:39 AM  

High praise from Rex! I found this really tough but very clever and fun and satisfying. A few clues/answers seemed a bit off, but I can live with that — it’s a puzzle, and a mighty fine one.

Irene 8:40 AM  

Great puzzle. Took me forever but it was worth it: enjoyable almost all the way.

GILL I. 8:46 AM  

I didn't like it, then I did. I didn't like it again but I changed my mind. Oof and some more. Had the same struggles as @Rex.
I stared at this baby for an ICE [GAP] AGE. Is that where the theme came together? Not sure. I did my normal "get up and move around, water the plants, fold laundry, check in on my elderly neighbor" before any light bulb ever came on. I think PLIES was my first.
So I'm staring at 25A and screaming ITS THE BIG APPLE but where do I put it? ITS TOGA PARTY but how does it fit? I get to 39A and MIND THE GAP shows its pretty head. My first love of the puzzle. Clever, Aimee.
The parts I wasn't crazy about were on me. Out of my knowledge sphere. I had no idea who a native of the Lion city is. Thanks to the GAP, I managed to get it. I kept thinking Selassie and Ethiopia. No idea who OMA is nor did I know ESTES or ROSIE or MAYA or that an occasion to speak up is a PRAYER...By the way @ncmath 7:37...I beg to differ. I'm an Episcopalian and we celebrate High MASS and we sing Amazing Grace.
Who in the world would ever even think to have a black widow spider as a PET....!!! I know some have tarantulas as pets but they don't eat their mates after they've had some sex.
Loved the GYM SHOES SNEAKERS YOGA PANTS. When you get older you sorta begin to sag and YOGA PANTS pull all that sag into a smooth line. Try it.
I think I need clarification as to why many theatre kids are ARTSY....Why just the kids?

OffTheGrid 8:59 AM  

I surely do not understand the generally high praise for this theme. We have MINDTHEGAP, a reference to the underground warning in a subway. Then there are 4 acrosses with the G A P sequence. Then there are 4 "gaps" in 4 of the downs which are answers that I'm sure have occurred in other puzzles more than once, BADIDEA, REPOMAN, etc. What's the point of gapping them? Nothing is related to anything else in any way. There's no wordplay or fun. We're left with just watching out for (minding) the rebus GAP. The rebus answer is even in the revealer clue.

Dorothy Biggs 9:10 AM  

I agree with ncmathsadist, I don't believe Amazing Grace is (very often) sung in either a RC Eucharist or an Episcopalian/Anglican Mass.

Those denominations hold to "incarnation theology" rather than "atonement theology." The former focuses on redemption through the incarnation of Jesus while the latter focuses on atonement through the shedding of blood. You won't find many "bloody" hymns (Amazing Grace, Power in the Blood, Nothing but the Blood, etc) in those denominations, if at all. Their hymns tend to be more about the body of Christ. In the myriad of atonement-type churches I've been to, they don't seem to have the same aversions to "body" hymns...they just prefer the bloody ones.

Christianity is a pretty gory religion, and whatever theology a church chooses, it all centers around a gruesome many cases, the more gruesome the better. And don't get me started on the cannibalistic underpinnings of the Eucharist...

I seem to recall the GAP puzzle not too long ago because there was a question between "Mind the Gap" or "Watch your step." Most trains/buses in NYC are of the "Mind the Gap" variety, IIRC.

BobL 9:18 AM  

Amazing puzzle! And Amazing Grace is often sung in my Catholic church.

Debra 9:24 AM  

A struggle.

Northwest Runner 9:40 AM  

Hold on. You mean Robert Estes played different roles on 90210 and Melrose Place? What was Aaron Spelling thinking? MP is a spinoff on 90210, so how can the same guy play different roles?

JC66 9:41 AM  

Agree with those who found this tough but enjoyable.


Speaking up = PRAYER. Think talking to God.

Music Man 9:49 AM  

See @Daniel 1:21am posted earlier. EOS is another brand of lip balms.

Granny Smith 9:53 AM  

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Nancy 10:00 AM  

Brilliantly fiendish. Puzzles in which the Across rebuses work differently than the Down rebuses are always much, much tougher. On the threshold of crashing and burning, I finally gave in and looked up the Lion City. SIN[GAP]OREAN enabled me to figure out the rebus and finish.

(I only cheat, btw, when a puzzle is really great and not to be able to continue with it would be to deprive myself of pleasure and intrigue.)

Some puzzles I feel I have nothing to say about. This one is so interesting that I could talk about it forever. But I'd better not. Here are just some of my observations.

*The revealer is incredibly well disguised. Even though I live in NYC, I was thinking of a warning in a MINe, not in a subway, and so I had MINe THE ? for the longest time.

*My "over the top" was OUTRE, not EXTRA, giving me TULIP, not OXLIP.

*My FDR exhibit was DEAL before DDAY, leading me to think that "NEW" would be the rebus.

*My "cut" was SNIP before SKIP, so that I couldn't see SNEAKER. Anyone else?

WHO IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE WORLD HAS EVER KEPT A BLACK WIDOW SPIDER AS A PET?????? (70A)* I kept thinking: "Oh, no, please don't be PETS. Please don't!!!"*

To sum up -- a wonderful and crunchy puzzle that drove me to cheat on one answer.

(*This is for the full caps hater of a few days ago. Just to show you how full caps can be used properly and judiciously, for emphasis. Do you find them "rude" in this context, too? You can't, can you????? Btw, I'm making this case for the benefit of all writers, past and present, who want to be able to use any kind of typography and punctuation they please -- without fear of censure and scorn.)

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

I had an unfair advantage today. Was riding the Long Island Rail Road this morning while doing the puzzle and they are always announcing "...step over the gap". Had wisk and stir before beat in the northeast.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

I agree that the _New Yorker_ crossword is great ... but I wish there hadn't been a silly error in 40A in this past Monday's puzzle.

Sally Jeanne 10:22 AM  

Hurry home my love��������. Daddy's finally come around to our getting married and taking over the farm! Trixie will just love chasing rabbits, without a care in the world. Who knows, maybe she'll have a baby to look after in a year.

Joe Dipinto 10:23 AM  

@ncmathsadist – Nope. I sing at Mass in a Catholic church choir and we've done "Amazing Grace" – it was our entrance hymn on a recent Sunday, in fact.

Does any underground rail system in the US have "mind the gap" warnings? It's never used in the NYC subway and I don't recall hearing it on my few excursions to Boston. I think of it as exclusively British (in which case it should be identified as such).

Anyway, Anon 12:15 is correct that this theme has appeared at least once before, including in a 1/17/2013 puzzle by Milo Beckman where it was utilized in a more imaginative fashion. Oh, and it had *two* of the same theme answers as today's. (Search MINDTHEGAP at X-Word Info to view it.)

Which version do you prefer – Dionne? or Aretha?

Blue Stater 10:33 AM  

Brutally hard, pointlessly so. "Cortege" = POSSE? "Mix, as eggs" = BEAT? MISAIM? Not in my world. And the gimmick itself was just bizarre. This hot mess was a complete waste of time.

A Fan 10:33 AM  

Sorry you are having trouble getting over this.

Missy 10:34 AM  

The Anglican Church celebrates Mass -

pabloinnh 10:36 AM  

I'm sincerely glad I asked for a thorny puzzle for today, because, mirabile dictu, this was it. This is the kind of puzzle where I start filling in answers I know and get lots of partials and corners filled in and then catch on to the theme and finally go back and read clues for answers that I knew but hadn't done because skipping around. The GAP trick was a lot of fun, but I had to give up on the idea that it would work both vertically and horizontally.

Like @Nancy, SNIP before SKIP and too much time spent thinking about a place underground and not The Underground. And just got back from England too, although not London.

Don't know a thing about Melrose Place, but ESTES is a common last name in our little town. Helpful.

All in all, a proper Thursday, for which many thanks, AL.

Petsounds 10:42 AM  

Another voice joins the chorus of "tough but satisfying." The double "gap" trick threw me for a while; I'd gotten two of the rebus clues, and I was sure about one of the downs (BAD IDEA) but couldn't figure out how it could possibly be BAD GAP IDEA. When it hit me, I was thrilled and more or less sailed through the rest of the theme answers.

But like Rex, I found it intimidating at first and couldn't really get much of a foothold. Loved the clues for SYNAPSE and MEANLY and found very little annoying in the fill. But, boy--there were many clues I just didn't know at all (FRYE, ROSIE, OSSA), and my time was well above my Thursday average as a result. When I managed to finish, I felt positively jubilant!

Ethan Taliesin 10:49 AM  

Yes, it was hard, and for a while I thought I was doomed.

Then I got MINDTHEGAP which gave me THEBIGAPPLE. Eureka in the bathtub.

For "Groans and moans" I had WHYMES, you know like WHY MEs, which I thought was weird but legit enough, though the clue I thought could have benefited from a question mark at the end! Then I realized it was RHYMES. Ooohhhhkaaay then.

I guess that's better.

Z 10:59 AM  

I was going to suggest that “grace” is a synonym for PRAYER, but the clue puts Amazing Grace in quotes, so it has to be a reference to the song. But, yeah, lots of denominations have MASS and lots of Catholic services are freer with the liturgy, so it works as is. STILL, I’d have preferred the subtle shading of that “maybe” suggesting some priest’s PRAYERs can evoke the feelings of Hallmark Christmas movie and others only evoke the feelings of, well, a Hallmark Christmas movie.

Pretty sure this is the 3rd NYTX with a MIND THE GAP theme, but all were different takes on the idea of GAP so are very different from our previous discussion this week. Rex wrote on Monday, “ If you're gonna do something that someone else has already done, at least improve it, modernize it, Something.” Yep, and Lucido did that. I saw TOGA PARTY wasn’t going to fit (I knew 9D was either EAST or weST so had the T in place), then immediately saw that THE BIG APPLE also had GAP, so got the rebus early. Had that, “What, another day discussing plagiarism” feeling. I couldn’t quite work out the downs for awhile, so a nice mini-Aha moment. I like this version. I think I’ve liked all three versions.

IMMINENT and emanate always feel like Whac-a-Vowel to me. A, E, I... any of the vowels could be any of those three. ACETIC or ACETeC or ACETaC wasted many precious nanoseconds.

@LMS - I left a Tweet link late yesterday that made me laugh and reminded me of some of your posts. Glad to see that others can turn on the debate and ponder what really matters.

nyc_lo 11:01 AM  

Played Saturday-tough for me, but very satisfying. Clueing seemed solid with hardly any groaners. Although I’m not sure why “Pit boss?” warranted a question mark (it does) but “Car tower” didn’t (it should have). Other than that, felt like a good workout.

pmdm 11:04 AM  

I've been a [non-professional but paid] organist, usually in Roman Catholic churches, for many decades. The hymn Amazing Grace has always been sung often in Roman Catholic churches, and is included in every Roman Catholic missalette I have seen. At least those used in parish churches. Extremely frequent at funerals, but often enough during Sunday services. And it seems to be a favorite with congregations (using a different melody from the one Judy Collins sang). There may be ultra conservative priests who forbid singing it because they consider it "Protestant') like A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, but at least in the NYC area it is an oft-selected hymn.

Oh, and the puzzle. I though it was very tough, but I kept on plugging and with some help from Google managed to finish the puzzle with the help of the theme entries. Thumbs up.

JOHN X 11:16 AM  

Gary and Trixie not only survived their last patrol, they were both awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor!

They returned home to a hero's welcome and were celebrated throughout the land. Shortly thereafter, Trixie gave birth to a wonderful litter of puppies who all bore a striking resemblance to Gary's commanding officer, Colonel Nevins.

Z 11:17 AM  

@Joe Dipinto. Surprised you didn’t go with Amazing Grace. I may be a tad biased but in these sort of questions the answer is always Aretha. Always.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

almost entirely DNF, but, oddly, still got (and didn't kvetch) the themers. and, yes, there is an IMAC Pro. didn't even know there's a PRO version of iPad. why would there be?

Petsounds 11:26 AM  

@Ethan Taliesin: I love your WHYMES answer--'way than RHYMES. Some constructor will be stealing that one, mark my words!

RooMonster 11:29 AM  

Hey All !
Very interesting idea, here. Figured out the sneakiness when I'd gotten GYM SHOE, already having the Revealer MIND THE GAP. But, didn't know who or where the Lion City is/was. Had to Goog that, then though the GA PO might be put into two squares. Slid over to the SW, and saw YO__NTS, with ICE_AGE already in, then the Aha! of the GAP being, well, in the GAP.

This theme was givin(GAP)puzzlement to me for a bit. :-)

Did notice the 16 wider today, Hooray for ROO!

Did think at first it would have something to do with the black squares coming into play, but couldn't see any logical connectors to separated words.

Liked puz. ThursRebus like we all like. Light dreck. Not a MISAIM. :-)


oldbizmark 11:33 AM  

We just had this conversation about MINDing THE GAP. This was in another puzzle recently, as others have said. I figured Will Shortz was just trolling you at this point, Rex. Puzzle was decent once I got over the fact that I just did the same one. Not too hard, not too easy. Some junky fill but not as bad as earlier this week.

Suzie Q 11:39 AM  

I'm so relieved that our intrepid duo survived their Hallmark movie.
Although it sounds like Col. Nevins has some 'splaining to do! Ha!

@ Nancy, I knew a photographer who kept a black widow as a pet. He used her in his work and she actually seemed tame. In a short time she relaxed and allowed being handled. He released her back to her home in his back yard in Vegas. She was a beautiful spider and not aggressive at all.

Newboy 11:49 AM  

“ once you get the reveal, the whole puzzle will open up” said Aimee and that was my solve exactly. Great entertainment that’s maybe a bit harder for non-subway riders who have to mind where they step in rural environments like Idaho! Even us SIMPs have on occasion made it to London on those lovely Rick Steves adventures, so a fair and telling reveal clue. 42D was a holy terror but worth the aha it evoked. The only thing better than Aimee’s fine Thursday puzzle was @LMS story juxtaposition with @SSGT Johnson’s response & @John X’s plus @SuzieQ.....Indeed the little flashes of sanity needed to start the day 🤣

puzzlehoarder 12:00 PM  

I'm not a theme person but I really enjoyed this puzzle. There were enough unknowns in the fill to create some tough points to work around. PEES and EOS required all of the crosses and those crosses took some work.

My biggest write over was putting a PART rebus in TOGAPARTY instead of the correct GAP rebus. BADGIDEA at 10D made no sense but I thought the "missing PART" rebus in 12D could be a phonetic "R" sound. I corrected this only after finishing the rest of the puzzle.

In that NE section I also had to change OPA to OMA. I've only recently learned those words from Scrabble and they're easy to confuse.

Breaking open the SE was my favorite part. SIMP makes an obscure answer for "Fool". I initially went with the vowel reading of "Fool" and tried SCAM. I briefly wondered if those president's could have been CAJUN until ROO cleared things up. I had never heard of the term "Lion City" but once NESTS went in the 57A themer fell.

Enough tmi, when I really like a puzzle I become insufferably effusive. This one gave me a Saturdays worth of solving.

Jyqm 12:13 PM  

@SouthsideJohnny -- "Mind the gap" (most famously used in the context of the London Underground) refers to the gap between the edge of the subway platform and the door of the subway car. Gotta watch your step to avoid twisting an ankle or worse.

jb129 12:14 PM  

I guess you just can't please me. I complain when they're too easy & I complain when they're too hard (which I usually enjoy).

I struggled with this then gave up & went to Rex.

Guess I'll stay away from the New Yorker.

oisk17 12:15 PM  

Liked this one despite meaningless (to me) answers like Maya , Frye, Estes, and especially Eos. Caught the "gaps" very early on, which made the solve pleasurable. Very apt Thursday, as far as I am concerned.

Joe Dipinto 12:20 PM  

@Z – the rule is that Rex is supposed to provide links for actual song titles that appear as such in the clues or answers. I may have covered for him once or twice in the past, but generally I don't consider it part of my job description. I was hired to ferret out the less obvious song and lyric connections and bring them to the commentariat's attention.

I think I prefer Dionne on that particular song. Aretha is great, but the lyrics describe things that are too mundane for her Queen Of Soul-ness. I don't believe, for example, that Aretha ever wondered what dress to wear. She just opened the closet door and grabbed the perfect one without thinking about it. Then she slipped into her fur coat and was out the door.

TJS 12:54 PM  

Whew ! I was dreading that report on that last patrol. And I have to say this was the best laugh-out-loud moment I have had reading the comments for the past three years or so. Great work.
Oh, and I hated every minute of this puzzle.

Anonymoose 12:57 PM  

If the square is occupied by a word(rebus) then it is not a gap, even if the word is "GAP". You can't just ignore letters that are there. This was dumb.

Carola 1:01 PM  

Remembering a GAP rebus from a previous puzzle made the solve go faster but also made the puzzle less engaging, with an "Again?" replacing the aha of delight. Certainly not the constructor's fault! I see how nicely the puzzle is constructed and especially appreciated SINGAPOREAN.

Teedmn 1:11 PM  

I had a similar difficulty to entering this puzzle as Rex did. PLIES crossing IRE, but then down to TO[GAP]ARTY and there the theme was. I wondered if the GAP would be jumped going down or not, and BAD[GAP]IDEA gave the answer, yes.

Most of this was pretty easy but the SE held me up. I had GYM SHOES in at 41D but that made 62A an ugly __H_ so I changed 41D to GYMnSHOE. I had no idea on 54D so when I ended up with SINn_REAN at 57A, I started thinking IRISH, as in Sinn Fein (Lion City?) and decided it was Ed'S LIP balm. I eventually worked in my GAP and saw SINGAPOREAN, yay.

Meanwhile, I was convinced that I had seen a MIND THE GAP puzzle before so over at, I clicked on that answer and was led to the Thursday, January 17, 2013 puzzle by Milo Beckman. It was far from an exact copy of Aimee's puzzle but THE BIG APPLE and SINGAPOREAN were both themers, so it had its similarities.

I don't know if I've run into the "retinue" meaning of "cortège" before - I was surprised that POSSEs had anything to do with funeral processions! :-)

Thanks, Aimee, this was a fun Thursday.

jberg 1:33 PM  

I had the same thought about 1A initially, but then changed my mind. The Catholic Church has always tried to be open, as a way of recruiting more members. I once heard a concert of Baroque music from Mexico, which featured some parody masses -- (not in the sense of making fun of them, but in the sense of basing a mass on a tune from another context) based on either indigenous Mexican songs, or songs brought in by African slaves. And currently I live near a Catholic church with an electronic carillon that frequently plays "Ein Feste Burg," a hymn written by Martin Luther.

I enjoyed it a lot; somehow of knew of ROSIE Revere, Engineer, and luckily I knew that a tuLIP was not a primrose, so I waited patiently for OXLIP to come into view. Hardest part for me wias thinking that ABASHES should be ABASES, so that I spent too much time trying to figue out how to put the GAP into that word.

I wish I knew the difference between leggings and YOGA PANTS; I've often asked, but never received an informative answer.

Daniel 1:37 PM  

In the canon of crossword clues, eos is so rarely a chapstick alternative.

albatross shell 1:43 PM  

Did not know EOS or PEE as clued. No idea that alki was a MOTTO. It means by and by or bye and bye or hope for the future as in the great by(e) and by(e) however that is spelled. Above average motto to be sure. ALKI would be the answer to the clue "Shortest state motto". Or am I wrong about that?

I guess kids in the theater are ARTSY by being in the theater arts, but is the normally pejorative sense of the word are most of them?

No problem with BEAT or MISAIM or SKIP.

Many spiders are kept as pets. Tarantula more common than black widows. Why is it worth yelling about?

Too tough for me to finish without and barely with cheats. But fun and clever from beginning to end.

Late yesterday I made a comment that toe the line is the correct form but I liked the parallel imagery of tow the line too, but apparently made a hash of my explanation to the extent that I was charged with not knowing the correct definition of toe the line. Several posters also expressed confusion at what tow the line would even mean. Imagine a group of men pulling a disabled car uphill by use of a rope. The men tow the wagon. The rope is a straight line. The men are in a straight line. They are all working pulling in precisely the same way and as one to keep to the same goal. This image seems to me to generally suggest both common meanings of toe the line.

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

Now that I recall it, there was a GAP puzzle recently because I noted then, as now, that Vincent D'Onofrio won (but only really, nominated) an Emmy for playing a guy caught between the subway car and platform on "Homicide". If WS can repeat a theme, I can repeat collateral.

Frantic Sloth 3:05 PM  

@Daniel Loved your EOS/Orioles analogy.

@Loren Muse Smith Stop! (or DON'T stop) You slay me! I'll see your Hallmark Christmas Movie/Bachelor in Paradise humiliation and raise you a 90-day Fiance.
I stopped reading comments after your post because what could possibly top winning the interwebseriesoftubes?

I really enjoyed this puzzle and the theme - though, like Rex, it took some first. Then, revealer = zipping along! But, I must say for the record that I swear that I will never, ever, as long as I live, in the name of God, the saints, and all that is holy, master the ELUDE/EVADE conundrum. I can't decide if it's a mental block or just cruel and unusual xword punishment.

Maybe somebody out there has a trick?

DigitalDan 3:18 PM  

First time I ever finished in less than 2X Rex's time (11 something). I call that progress.

RooMonster 3:57 PM  

@Frantuc Sloth
One thing you can do is right in E__DE and wait on crosses. I do stuff like that all the time, ala, __ST for EAST WEST, ALI_ for ALII ALIA, A_H for AAH AHH, etc.

Saves hair tearing and ink spots.

RooMonster Bit Of Advice Guy

Elisabeth 4:07 PM  

Fun theme, and if you have kids in your life, I'd highly recommend Rosie Revere, Engineer and the rest of the books in that series (Iggy Peck, Architect and Ada Twist, Scientist). They are some of my daughter's favorites.

Frantic Sloth 4:53 PM  

@ RooMonster, BOAG -

Thanks for the tip. That's what I usually do - only took me {mumble mumble} years of doing crosswords to figure that out! Guess I'm looking for a cheap "fix" that will never exist.

Frantic Sloth, frantically slothing

Joe Dipinto 4:59 PM  

@Frantic Sloth – once you've mastered the ELUDE/EVADE/sometimesAVOID Conundrum, you can tackle the AVER/AVOW Mystification.

Frantic Sloth 5:35 PM  

@Joe Dipinto, Bringer of Bugaboos


Too true - there are many of these rascally crossword fraternal twins, which nettle me like so many gnats. I've been known to utter a clearly audible "ugh!" here and there whenever they raise their ugly, evil heads.

Then again, just accepting their inevitability and moving on to more important things like what's trending on Facebook and the wisdom of 3am tweets would probably be the way to go.

Kathy 5:53 PM  

I got about three quarters through before I had to ask for help. I did get off to a fast start because, as a former commuter, I was familiar with Mind the Gap. So, the puzzle was fun, but I haven't finished a Thursday perfectly yet. And that’s ok, Thursdays begin the days for the experts to frolic, and it sounds like it was a blast for them. And I have something to aspire to.

@Joe dipinto. I commuted on the Long Island Railroad for many years. A number of years ago they started a campaign to Watch the Gap—signs, announcements, the works. There had been an inexplicable number of persons falling into the gap between the car and the platform, especially when the platform was curved. There were all sorts of gory stories in the newspaper of people falling down to the tracks below; I’m sure it was a legal nightmare. The campaign was based on its British counterpart, Mind the Gap.

Speaking of gory @Dorothy Biggs. ROFL...cannabilistic underpinnings...

Misaim, is that a word?
Alki. A motto. Can anyone explain this to me?
Cortège, a posse?

Joe Dipinto 6:09 PM  

@Kathy – I don't ride the LIRR very often but I think I have seen the signs. I don't remember ever hearing an announcement though. And I've ridden the subway almost daily since I was 14 and I've definitely *never* heard such an announcement. I'm surprised Quasimojo said it was common.

Giskarrrd 7:46 PM  

You don’t beat eggs?

Richardf8 8:14 PM  

The NW was what killed me on this. I had a couple of GAP rebuses before I sorted the revealer. YOGA PANTS got me. This was a nice tough Thursday. Gave me many hours of enjoyment.

Z 8:57 PM  

Cortège and POSSE

AVER/AVOW Mystification is Enya’s latest album. Yoko Ono does vocals and Brian Eno is on the Moog.

GILL I. 9:06 PM  

@JC, amigo.....AHA (accent on the last A)...Knew you'd come through...I send you a PRAYER
@Kathy 5:53... I thought MISAIM needed another S. Looks all sorts or wrong, doesn't it?
@Giskarrd.....I know. I whip mine.

Kathy 10:20 PM  

@joe dipinto 6:09. It was a huge LIRR campaign, maybe 15 years ago or so. I’m not sure the subways were part of it, although even if they had had announcements on the subway platforms, who could have possibly heard them, ha ha! The subways don’t have wide gaps though, and the platforms tend to be straight so I don’t think anyone could fall through. In addition to the public awareness campaign, the LIRR also added boards to the platforms to bring them closer to the train, and retrofitted the train doorways with a floorplate that extends further out. It must have worked, because the incidents seemed to stop. That’s all behind me now, I’m retired and living in the “country” up in Rhode Island!

Mikey 1:39 PM  

It's just the "Medal of Honor".

spacecraft 12:41 PM  

You see there, Will? "Pretense," a perfectly good Thursday clue for ACT. See how easy that was?

And that's almost the last time the word "easy" will apply to this thorny puzzle.* I had a very similar INIT. pass over the clue list to OFC's. Trusty old REGAN, the good one, got me started in the SW, where I stumbled across YOGAPANTS crossing ICE [space] AGE, and so immediately grasped both ways of the "McGuffin." That turned the revealer into a *gimme (we just recently had a discussion about MINDTHEGAP), and then of course, *25-across, duh.

STILL, really, it felt like a hard solve. I'd have to say, medium-challenging, mainly because of some MEANLY cluing, meant to make us MISAIM. But hey, it ain't Monday. Had SnIP instead of SKIP, a rare single-letter alternative that makes sense. This clue could be inserted into a Brit-style contest crossword, where you have no cross for the second letter and have to guess.

DOD is the fetching ROSIE Perez, as seen in "White Men Can't Jump." Above-average effort, even with the RCD and our favorite crutch, SSN. Birdie, with CLARITY.

Burma Shave 2:07 PM  


to ATTRACT some TACTILE romance,
but it’s a BADIDEA to ACT too ARTSY,
she MISAIMs and he PEES on his PANTS.


Diana, LIW 2:12 PM  

Any time I "get" a rebus correctly I count that as a prize-winning finish.

But I must admit that the SE corner flummoxed me. I've lived in Washington (the big one) for almost 30 years, and never, ever heard of the "MOTTO" alki. Alki. Whatev...

Lion City? EWOS? FRYE? I've heard of SIMP, but not o often. And shouldn't tat have gotten a "?" or "briefly" in the clue?

that's all I've got...

Diana, Lady-i9n-Waiting for Crosswords
Still working off yesterday's wonderful holiday meal

rondo 2:41 PM  

I have a MINDTHEGAP baseball cap from my ’07 London trip. Probably means nothing if you haven’t been there. MAYA Rudolph can’t EVADE a yeah baby today. That’s enough rebus puzzles for me this year.

BS2 5:47 PM  

For CLARITY: ever had EXTRA 'help' writing your name in the snow?

Wooody2004 6:02 PM  

I live in Seattle. Our most popular beach park is Alki Point. The plaque there says the settlement was named New York, Alki, which means New York, Bye and Bye (not BYE, BYE, BYE!). But I never knew that was the state motto until today.

Happy Boxing Day, Syndicats! (Don't see Cats! The Movie)

leftcoaster 6:52 PM  

Tough if not the toughest Thursday I've encountered in a long time. Yet, also one of the the most interesting and tricky to deal with.

Got three of the GAPs, but that was it. The GAP in SINGAPOREANS EVADEd me, causing collateral damage

Some tough fill, too. "Alki" is MOTTO for Washington State? What?? I've lived in Oregon for many years and never heard that. What does it mean, anyway?

Conflicting feelings about this one, but basically like it.

leftcoaster 9:13 PM  

This is also one of the best reviews I've seen by Rex of a tough puzzle for some time.

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