Glares sourly at in modern lingo / THU 12-19-19 / Longtime MLB second baseman Chase / Modern-day locale of ancient Persepolis

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Constructor: Andy Kravis and Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Medium (6:06)

THEME: STATE LINE (60A: Geographic demarcation that separates the two possible answers in this puzzle's circled squares) — one of two state codes, from abutting states, can be used in each of the circled squares (I guess you're supposed to put them both in there, next to each other)

Theme answers:
  • 1A: Club fee / "Hell no!" (COVER / NEVER) / 1D: Dale Evans, for one / Zooey Deschanel TV series (COWGIRL / "NEW GIRL") (Colorado and Nebraska)
  • 17A: Executive's perk, maybe / It might fit in a tight spot (COMPANY CAR / COMPACT CAR) / 15D: "Volunteers?" / Play's start ("ANYONE?" / ACT ONE) (New York and Connecticut)
  • 47A: Smacks hard / Types (SWATS / SORTS) / 23D: Obstructing / On paper (IN THE WAY / IN THEORY) (Washington and Oregon)
  • 49A: "Ghostbusters" director Harold / Pours (RAMIS / RAINS) / 51D: Move / Unappreciative person (MIGRATE / INGRATE) (Michigan and Indiana)
Word of the Day: Chrissy METZ (57D: "This Is Us" co-star Chrissy) —
Christine Michelle Metz (born September 29, 1980) is an American actress and singer. She is known for playing Kate Pearson in the NBC drama This Is Us, for which she has earned Best Supporting Actress nominations at the Primetime Emmy Awards (2017) and Golden Globe Awards(2017 and 2018). (wikipedia)
• • •

[There is a factual error in this puzzle. Ivan Reitman directed "Ghostbusters," not Harold RAMIS. It was co-written by RAMIS, and co-starred RAMIS, but RAMIS was absolutely positively not the "director." Between this mistake, and having FORM crossing FORMED in yesterday's grid, it has not been a banner week for editorial competence over at the NYTXW.]

[Update: I am told that the clue has been fixed in the app—I'm assuming the bad clue made it to print]

I solved this in a .puz file (downloaded onto my laptop), as I always do, and this one came with a note (which appears as a little yellow rectangle in the upper left of the interface, which you have to click on to read). I resent notes so I don't read them. Solved this one just fine without knowing the contents of the note, and in the end, the note didn't tell me anything I didn't already know: that the puzzle works better visually in the print edition, where the theme squares are slashed so you can write in the state codes of both states. I just entered the state code for one of the two and hoped that that would work. And it didn't. But then I just hit "Reveal All" and the only squares that came up "wrong" were the theme ones, where ... I don't know what you were supposed to actually put in those squares. Whatever. The point is, the note was unnecessary and distracting. Looks like the app has a similar message about the theme being better experienced in print. In the end, it didn't matter much. The thme was easy to uncover and I knew what was going on and sure it would've been aesthetically pleasing to see the two state codes abutting one another in the grid the way the states abut IRL, but I didn't miss the visual much. And the puzzle is good! I've seen state code-based puzzles a jillion times over the years, and I've seen Schrödinger puzzles before (the BOBDOLE / CLINTON one comes to mind), but this combination of these two familiar theme elements is quite original. And the quality of the fill overall is really marvelous. (Sidenote: Erik Agard is the editor of the USA Today crossword puzzle now and man you should really be doing them, they are remarkable and very much worthy of your time)
No sour faces from me while solving today, except, aptly, at MEAN MUGS (11D: Glares sourly at, in modern lingo), which sounds pretty flimsy and also like a '30s comic strip about hapless gangsters. It was inferrable, ultimately, and I'll just trust that this is (at least for now) a real thing somewhere in the universe. I can tolerate a lot of "modern lingo" that I don't know if it doesn't send my solve into a complete tailspin. Fair crossings! They're important! Nothing else bugged me. It really is a BEAUT of a grid. Speaking of BEAUT, I had the -EA--, saw the clue (28A: Humdinger) and Did Not Hesitate to write in (... drumroll ...) PEACH! As in "im_____ment." Timely!
Five things:
  • 18A: "Sh" or "wr" (DIGRAPH) — two characters, one phoneme. I wanted DIGRAM. I was happy to see that a DIGRAPH ... is a DIGRAM, they're the same thing. 
  • 53A: Mac platform (OS/X) — fully blanked on this. Wanted IOS. The fact that I'm currently working on a Mac that runs OS/X ... yes, that is humorous.
  • 67A: Owner of Words With Friends (ZYNGA) — I both resent dumb corporate names being in my puzzle aaaaaaand was really proud of my brain for remembering this one
  • 33D: Not as much (LESS SO) — this is one of those answer where I got the first part and the answer felt complete, but I still had more squares to fill. Me: "LESS ... that's it! That's the answer! What are these other squares doing here!"
  • 46D: Takes off (EXITS) — so ambiguous. So many possible meanings. I think I had OMITS in here. I must've had the -ITS. Even then, EXITS didn't occur to me.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. to all of you complaining about the METZ / ZYNGA crossing ... you are correct to complain. Two proper nouns crossing at a very-hard-to-infer letter is not a thing you ever want to have in your grid.  I'd argue that "Z" makes most sense, so it is, in some sense, inferrable, but ... it's still a very, very rough cross. If you said it was a "Natick," I would not disagree with you.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:03 AM  

It took me way too long to figure out that the rebus was a four-letter affair and never did know why. Then the reveal and … voilà. Pretty cool!

Unknown 12:05 AM  

There is an error in the clues. The director of Ghostbusters was Ivan Reitman, not Harold Ramis. The clue should have been "Animal House" Director (or National Lampoon Vacation or Groundhog Day et al.)

Brian 12:24 AM  

Entering one state in the iPhone app works

ZenMonkey 12:36 AM  

Harold RAMIS co-wrote Ghostbusters.

Ivan Reitman directed it.

Only one of the best-known movies of all time. Does Will not know about IMDB or....?

ZenMonkey 12:49 AM  

P.S. Loved the puzzle otherwise. It reminded me of a Split Decision, which I always enjoy. But that editing error is 35 feet long weighing approximately 600 pounds.

jae 12:49 AM  

Medium. Clever and delightful. A well deserved POW from Jeff.

I just ignored the slashes and kept filling in the puzzle until I hit the STATE LINES answer, and then went back and finished the theme answers...and, yeah, I too have no idea what the app I use needs to give me the “you got it” screen.

Plenty of sparkle, liked it a bunch!

puzzlehoarder 1:03 AM  

Saturday tough until I got the theme. In the NE corner CT sat by itself for awhile until I back filled the NW and the Dale Evans clue let me pair up the state symbols and catch onto the trick.

Next in went the revealer. With UTLEY, OSX and METZ for speed bumps the SW still had some resistance.

The last two theme squares were dispatched much more readily than the ones up north. I don't often end up actually using a theme to help finish a puzzle so a sign of good construction.

The clue for DIGRAPH is different in the xwordinfo clue list than it is in the printout version that I solved. In my version it's clued with that A and E mash up that we had recently. I just can't remember what it was a clue for the last time we had it.

Zach Johnson 1:09 AM  

Annoyed. Harold Ramis didn't direct Ghostbusters. Ivan Reitman did. Factual inaccuracies are one thing, but him not getting credit sours this whole puzzle for me.

a.corn 1:10 AM  

This is utterly masterful. Bravo and thank you constructors!

Solverinserbia 1:10 AM  

Absolutely loved this puzzle. Clever theme, perfectly executed, and good fill. Best one in a while.

Scoff451 2:29 AM  

Harold Ramis did not direct Ghostbusters. Ivan Reitman did.

Jyqm 2:30 AM  

In the wild, I would say that “MEAN MUGging” appears almost exclusively in its present continuous/gerund form. Still, I smiled to see it in the puzzle, even in this slightly bastardized form that no one would ever say. It’s been a fairly popular AAVE phrase going back probably twenty years now, if not longer.

I didn’t stop to notice/appreciate that all the state pairs involved do in fact share a border. That makes the already cleber theme really very elegant. I wonder what potential theme answers ended up on the scrap heap.

Sincere pro tip for your blog writing, Rex: Nobody cares about how you feel about notes on the digital versions of the puzzle. You had plenty of interesting things to say about this puzzle, and you buried it all under a full paragraph rehashing a deeply boring personal complaint.

chefwen 2:40 AM  

All I kept thinking was “OH, @Nancy is going to hate this, squishing four little letters in one square/circle. I, on the other hand loved it. Took me a long time to grok what was happening (didn’t see a note) didn’t need it as it turned out, but when I finally realized what was going on I had a great time figuring out the abutting states.

This is exactly what I look for in a tricky Thursday. Bravo, gentlemen.

Ben 4:26 AM  

RAMIS/RAINS was the point at which I finally figured out the theme, even though, apparently, as more adept movie buffs than I have already pointed out, he didn't direct Ghostbusters. Good to know!

Anonymous 4:40 AM  

Really enjoyed the puzzle overall but seriously, KAYOS? I get that it’s a tough spot but “kayos” is NOT A WORD.

Otto 5:33 AM  

In the android app, you put in the first letter of the first state. So, CVER for 1 across, for example. It'll take that. This is always the case for the NYT app.

404notfound 5:40 AM  

Strange, the clue for 18A in the app was "Æ, e.g." Did it change at some point?

Anonymous 6:19 AM  

In the android app, separating the state abbreviations with a forward slash as a rebus works: "CO/NE" for 1 across, etc. @Anon 4:40, thank you, KAYOS made me grumble too. "Mean mugs?" wtf is that

AmandaPup 6:32 AM  

Strange puzzle for me. I never did figure the theme, missing all the alternates so Rex's comments were useful there. Very little that I felt totally sure of on the first pass, but short answers led to longer answers until it came together slightly under average.

BarbieBarbie 6:39 AM  

What is hilarious (to me) is that it was RAMIS that clued me in to the rebus. Like this: oh, Ghostbusters, that was Harold RAMIS, five letters so these must be rebus squares.” Har! Two wrongs do make a right!

Unknown 6:39 AM  

Oooh...Rex likes this one!

Anonymoose 6:42 AM  

As a rebus hater, my head exploded when I saw what this was.

amyyanni 7:08 AM  


D.T. Rump 7:10 AM  

Those of you spreading the LIE that it was Ivan Reitman who directed Ghostbusters and not Harold Ramis are the same people spreading the FAKE NEWS that it was Russia that interfered in the 2016 election, and not Ukraine!

kitshef 7:30 AM  

Third Agard in a row that has been good. He seems to be improving. Although I suppose this is only a semi-Agard.

Like every Agard, it has someone I’ve never heard of (METZ). Like every Agard, it has some piece of slang that I never want to hear again (MEAN MUGS).

But today, we got a theme that’s aces – and a layered one. Plus one top-notch clue for TRACHEA.

Now I understand why Rex is so often in a sour mood – working on a Mac will do that to anyone.

Time to ban I TRY.

Norm 7:34 AM  

Fun puzzle but METZ crossing ZYNGA stunk.

bulgie 7:37 AM  

Astoundingly brilliant theme. A real "Howdy Doodat".

I might have made a MEANMUG at the crossing of METZ and ZYNGA, two things I knew not of. I guess it counts as a DNF if you enter one letter after another in that square until you get to zed and then you get the success message (android app).

But that's just my ignorance, can't blame the puz for that. And it couldn't wipe the smile off my face.


Suzie Q 7:40 AM  

Figured the theme early but if you can only make it work with this many names then it is not excellent in my book.
This seems to be typical for an Agard puzzle. I don't watch enough TV or movies to glide through his work.
There were lots of fun moments and some clever clues where actual words came into play so I did have some fun.
Off the top of my head I can't think of any other woman besides Dale Evans who is/was a cow girl.

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

Hmmm... well Ramis played a character who "directed" (i.e., gave instruction to) "Ghostbusters" (i.e., the characters in the movie who were Ghostbusters, not the movie itself)? "Don't cross the streams" and all that.

Eh, no. That's a terrible stretch. Forget I brought it up.

Anyway, I initially got the two-letter rebus thing. Later saw that they were states, which was cool. But when it finally hit me that they were states that literally were next to each other... wow! Well done.

Anonymous 7:45 AM  

12:05 - nor did Harold Ramis direct Animal House. That was John Landis. Ramis did co-write that one also, though.

Hungry Mother 8:00 AM  

Great stuff for a fun Thursday. Knowing Harold RAMIS was the key for me. Then it all fell into place until the near Natick in the mid-south.

Kevin 8:02 AM  

I liked the idea, but I really wish it were clearer how to enter the answers on the app.

I finished the puzzle with an undetectable mistake on its face. I had E - - Y for the owner of Stubhub (31D) and wrote in the wrong (but defensible) ETSY. That gave me the perfectly defensible (but wrong) “SLOE water,” which actually makes more sense than ALOE water. And I had no idea on the author’s last name, but TECHDEL was every bit as plausible as BECHDEL.

Had I gotten a normal DNF message, I’d have realized the error with a little time. But, I got frustrated because I couldn’t be sure if the DNF message was just because of the rebus answers. I had CO/NE because I thought the revealer called for the “line,” but maybe it should be CO or NE or NE/CO or CO-NE or NE-CO or N or C or something else.

I just checked the answer to see my mistake but feel cheated.

GILL I. 8:03 AM  

We all know there is rarely anything new under the sun in puzzle dome; I've done my fair share of the square/slash puzzles - this took little time in figuring out. I kept thinking cool beans. Then you give me a plethora of names and unheard of places and TV shows and, and, ALL taking up valuable real estate property and I let out my sigh. It's like eating an exquisite egg omelette only to bite into an egg shell.
Erik and I don't see eye to eye. I feel I live on an ICE PLANET when I do some of his puzzles. I know he's hep/cool, but man, he comes up with some BEAUTs at times.
The best clue for me was 50D...You bet your sweet PATOOTIE bakeries don't sell those AROMAS.... Ick face at SONNY/Boyo.

Z 8:12 AM  

First, PuzzAzz again manages to represent the puzzle as in the paper and as intended. Apparently the house App doesn’t, which just astounds me.
Second, the DIGRAPH in the paper is Æ.
Third, liked this less than Rex and others because it is, in the end, just another puzzle that finds the fact that words are made of letters and other words share some or all of those letters interesting. The STATE LINE thing makes this better than others of this ilk (and helped me see COMPA(NY) CAR, but letter play is always LESS SO fun than word play.

@Anon late yesterday - Reread the post and you have a case. But if you accept that one role of an editor is helping novitiates (a position Rex has espoused before) I think you can read the whole post as criticism of Shortz.

QuasiMojo 8:18 AM  

"Who you gonna call?" The NYT? Good luck.

I tried putting in all the letters as CO/NE for example on the app and it worked. Altho I forgot to do it on one square and it still worked. Fun puzzle but the METZ/ZYNGA thingie was a real Natick and coupled (/) with the SVU/UTLEY crossing turned me off to the whole thing. Then that RAMIS mistake. OH MAN! Embarrassing. Plus Dale Evans was really just an actress, band singer and showgirl, not a COWGIRL. Although I guess you could say she played one.

Thanks for the link to the USA Today puzzles. Does anyone have a direct link to David Sternberg's puzzles?

PS (@Nancy, Patrick Berry had a cryptic on the New Yorker page recently. Well worth doing.)

Hartley70 8:21 AM  

My phone app added an extra layer of difficulty since the rebus slash was missing. Also solving notes do not automatically appear at the top of the puzzle and I never bother to seek them out. The app considered the puzzle solved with just one state abbreviation, however, so the theme trick joy was cut in half for me.
That said, it was a super theme for print people and a slightly LESSSO one for app solvers. Every dog has his day.

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

The U in MEAN MUGS/BEAUT was my last square. I briefly thought that a "Humdinger" was a BEAST, thereby inventing the new phrase MEAN MSGS, which I think we should add to the vernacular asap.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

Didn't work for me

mathgent 8:41 AM  

Excellent in every way.

As always, did it on the printout, getting the complete experience of seeing the slash marks represent STATELINEs.

Great fun finding states which share a border. I had SORTS at 47A but SWATS didn't come to me until I thought of states bordering Oregon.

As @puzzlehoarder (1:03) noted, a rare theme that helps solving.

Liked seeing BEAUT. I haven't heard it in years. Just like "humdinger."

I'll do the USA TODAY puzzle the next few days and report on Erik Agard's editorship.

Casper 8:49 AM  

I thought Fred Peig directed Ghostbusters.

Nancy 8:57 AM  

I absolutely loved the theme -- even though geography has always been a weakness on my part. My first thought on tackling the puzzle was: go somewhere, anywhere, where you can find out what the trick is so you then come back to the NW corner. Because I couldn't remember VARGAS, had no idea what a DIGRAPH was and couldn't figure out what "share a take" meant.

I got the trick at COMPANY CAR/COMPACT CAR///ANYONE/ACT ONE. I could then go back and deal with all the bleepin' names.

It was now the SW corner that was threatening: "Natick!!!" So I closed my eyes and took some stabs at it. The Z seemed like the best bet for METZ/ZYNGA. The U and E seemed like the best bets for UTLEY. That E was going to give me EXITS for "takes off". And that X was going to give me...

OSX for the "Mac platform"???? I crossed my fingers, deciding that if I had a DNF it wasn't the end of the world. And guess what -- all my guesses were right.

The enjoyment of coming up with the themers overcame my [per usual] annoyance with all the names. I had fun with this one.

Lewis 9:14 AM  

Wit and grit, an out-of-the-park hit.

So much that I loved:
1. Original, beautifully executed theme. How did they come up with these answers?
2. Clues for side-by-side answers TRACHEA [Inspirational passage?] and AROMAS [Things that bakeries make but don't sell].
3. The double theme answer INTHEWAY/INTHEORY.
4. The image-eliciting ICE PLANET, which is a NYT debut.
5. ARGO over CORN, Argo being a brand of cornstarch.
6. Clean grid punctuated by answers with spark.

A thing of beauty and a lovely solve. More A&E productions, please!

Lewis 9:15 AM  

@gill -- Fantastic egg analogy!

Doug 9:25 AM  

I hope Rex isn’t running OS X; it’s no longer supported. If you’ve updated since 2016, it’s macOS.

Crimson Devil 9:28 AM  

Outstanding construct.

Glenn Patton 9:44 AM  

@Z, unfortunately Pizzazz is only for Apple products. Doesn't have an Android version

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

Would someone please tell me what NSFW stands for.

TJS 9:50 AM  

Did it. Hated it . Aggravating.

Bob Mills 9:55 AM  

The hardest puzzle I've ever finished, even though I finished it before I figured out the trick. I applauded for myself, anyway.

TJS 9:56 AM  

BTW. I saw Dale Evans at some kind of rodeo/circus themed show at the Chicago Stadium about 60 years ago and she fell off her horse and had to be carried off - by Gene Autry. Swear to God. I guess Roy didn't make the trip. Strange what memories stick in your head.

RooMonster 10:12 AM  

Hey All !
The ole brain sparkled to life to get the theme at the NY/CT square. Knew it had to be COMPACT CAR, so wrote it in with the (circled/slashed) square blank, then saw the COMPANY aspect, and the Aha Lightbulb moment.

NW corner was toughest for me. Had everything filled except that. Had to Goog for Zooey TV show, since I was getting blinded by stating at all that whiteness. Got the NE, and was able to wrestle the CO and the rest of that corner. Biggest hold-up was nET for LET. I couldn't see ETERNAL. Had onandon there for a bit. I thought a LET was only in Tennis. Ping pong moves to fast for a net call, right?

Was a fun puz, had a two-letter DNF today, misspelling on PATtOTIE (head slap), and sYNGA. Was wondering why the METs weren't clued as The METs. Har.

Another missed one, bMI for EMI had me get besmirCH before ENCROACH.

Funky grid, IN THE WAY/IN THEORY the neatest one for me. Overall, a nice ThursPuz.


Anonymous 10:14 AM  

Not Safe For Work

nunya 10:14 AM  

Not Safe For Work

Johnny Laguna 10:18 AM  

I thought it was terrific, though stuck briefly with BEAST (which I knew in my heart couldn’t be right) instead of BEAUT. FTR, as of 8:30 or so this morning, NYT app for iPad had NOT fixed the Ramis error.

Nancy 10:23 AM  

Thanks for the shoutout, @chefwen (2:40), but as you can see, I didn't hate the squooshed squares today. That's because instead of just being willy-nilly arbitrarily annoying, like tiny little circles usually are, this particular squooshing was done for a Real Purpose: a brain-challenging, very clever This-Can-Be-Two-Different-Answers Purpose. Therefore I found the squooshing to be a very small sacrifice. Now, mind you, had I been in a puzzle tournament where people other than me would have had to actually read my squooshed answers, it would have been a problem. But only I had to read them and I already knew what they were.

Oh those of you on gadgets -- both those who are complaining and those who are not complaining -- when will you learn that it is truly more blessed to solve on paper?

b-t-trips 10:25 AM  

Agree that that was a fun one

Big Fella 10:26 AM  

@Anon “Not Safe For Work” (in this context).

The theme/gimick was actually kind of nice. Today’s trivia seemed a little more arcane than usual - BECHDEL METZ ZYNGA BELA MEANMUGS UTLEY (maybe just not my wheelhouse).

I’m probably one of the few people on earth that doesn’t know anything about Disney, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones or Star Wars, so I’m pretty much dead in the water on things like cartoon princesses, mermaids, etc as well as “Hoth” and ICEPLANET, lol.

xyz 10:30 AM  

NSFW - letting you know MEANMUGS might be coming your way.

Rex: Re: "The Note"
No, the circle actually being a slash
A) Creates the STATELINE
B) Separates and delineates the two answers, as each state has several bordering states.

So the note is not distracting. On the NYT PUZ website, the order did make a difference and the software inserts a slash between the two letter pairs. (Zoom in if you cannot see it)

Cute puzzle, nothing special except finding state pairs that work - and there's not a slew of them. Much of the remaining fill as if often with rebuses was pretty straightforward

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

Really liked this one! New girl was obvious, and cow girl was easy, so the rebus fell into place quickly. Unlike Rex, I read the note, and was able to confidently enter each rebus as ‘xx/xx.’ Rex...just read the note. Or at least don’t complain if it contains helpful information and you’re just to stubborn to open it.

Tina 10:39 AM  

I was able to solve this puzzle correctly In NY Times app for iPad by only putting in co in the first square. I was stuck and did a check and without being told it was an error got really thrown off. The correction should have been co/ne. I couldn’t figure out the second part of the clue fitting in when the “correct” version only required the first two letters. Does someone at The NY Times app department need to look at this? Anyone else have this problem?

Northwest Runner 10:44 AM  

Maybe a repetition, on nyt iPad app I entered the first letter of the across state and was judged correct.

Marcy 10:48 AM  

Don’t get how “on paper” translates to “in theory”. Otherwise, loved the Split Decisions-style puzzle.

SouthsideJohnny 11:02 AM  

@Tina - my experience with the app was very similar to yours. I entered just two letters in each of the circled squares. I knew as I was solving that there was something that I was missing. I didn’t read the note until after I was finished and then I realized what was going on. It would have been much better if they had just put slashes in the squares instead of the circles - that may be a technical hurdle that they were not able to overcome. To their credit - they did include an explanatory note - it’s not there fault if people like me don’t read it, lol.

I think the thing that is more disconcerting is the horrible run of slipshod editing that has been slipping through of late. No excuse for factual errors at this level. It would also be nice if the NYT ever gets with the program and disallows Naticks like METZ/ZYNGA as a matter of course. That doesn’t seem like it is going to happen as long as Shortz has the final say though.

What? 11:03 AM  

I’ve seen this before more than once so even though nicely done, a bit of a bore.

Swagomatic 11:09 AM  

I use the NYT app on my tablet. It would not give me the happy tones until figured out the slash was needed. Cool puzzle - I give it two pencils up.

Rastaman Vibration 11:11 AM  

@Marcy 10:48, it is a colloquialism. For example, someone may say “On paper, the 49ers are better than the Rams this weekend” (to which someone will invariably reply “Yes, but they don’t play the games on paper.”, following which the entire room will groan, having heard that exact exchange at least a thousand times).

Masked and Anonymous 11:13 AM  

M&A has always preferred POPCORN to DIGRAPHs.
And OHMAN this musta been a bear, to come with a symmetrical set of themers on. Well done, A & E [I can't rightly draw it as a digraph, sorry.]

staff weeject pick: OSX. Better clue: {Chicago ball club error??}.

Lotsa stuff in the puz I didn't know, but did know ZYNGA, so didn't get nat-ticked where @RP thought we might. Great ThursPuz, tho. Don't change a thing. Well, maybe bump up yer U-count, tho.

Thanx for the fun, A&E. A puztheme sooo good, M&A wished he'd thought of it, and y'all had coal in yer stockins. [Just kiddin … congratz!]

Masked & AnonymoUUs

@RP and M&A think alike, here:

jberg 11:13 AM  

So many reasons it's better to solve in the printed paper:
1) The DIGRAPHs show correctly;
2) You get neat little slashes in the appropriate boxes, making it relatively simple to know what's going on;
3) You're helping to keep print journalism alive.

I saw CO/NE, then NY/CT -- ah, state names -- and adjacent states at that! So that was fun, as was almost all the fill. But I guessed wrong at SVo/oTLEY, sob.

I thought all the crime shows in crossword puzzles were some permutation or other of CSI -- what on earth is SVU?

Newboy 11:16 AM  

Liked it a bunch. TRACHEA alone was worth the COVER. Tried today’s USA puzzle suggestion, but thought it about as engaging as the Impeachment hearings. I’m sure others see both differently; time to see what more clever folk have to say.

Jyqm 11:19 AM  

@Marcy — An idea may look good “on paper,” but once you try to put it into practice, it turns out not to work so well.

@Nancy — I preferred solving on newsprint for years, but you’ll never find me paying money to the Times again for anything other than the puzzle, so it’s the app for me. As a bonus, it makes it very convenient to solve, say, on the subway or in a cab.

Z 11:19 AM  

@kitshef - Did you notice @Glenn Patton refuting your position? Microsoft and Google have spent decades imitating Apple and still can't catch up.

@Doug - I missed the change. Interestingly, Apple's marketing has played with the "official" name from the beginning. The current version is 10.15.2 so I'd argue "OS X" is defensible even if Apple has swung over to macOS. I'm guessing the lowercase "mac" is for consistency with "iOS." I'm just thankful that they don't call it OS XXV because I'm sure all 15 versions would then be making crossword appearances crossing every Pope Leo past and future.

@Lewis9:14 - Good list. I agree with all of it. Still not overly fond of the theme.

NSFW gets questioned again. It seems every time it appears someone new doesn't know what it means. Why? How sheltered are our fellow solvers? This initialism has been around since the internet was just a series of tubes. Just be careful about clicking on the links if you decide to google NSFW.

Whatsername 11:27 AM  

@Unknown at 12:05 - RAMIS did not direct Amimal House either but he was a co-writer. John Landis was the director.

@Nancy at 10:23 - Amen to solving paper! I get enough “gadget” aggravations just from trying to post my comments.

I found this very tough today even after figuring out their theme. Never heard baby’s behind called a PATOOTIE and never heard the expression MEANMUGS. I wanted and tried EVILEYES first. My print version had the note indicating there’s a slash line in the themers and I found that note helpful actually. However it was not until the revealer that I realized they were state codes. The number of proper names dampened my enthusiasm somewhat, but a rebus always makes my Thursday, so a double rebus is a real treat.

ARGO is a great movie and very deserving of the best picture award, although Ben Affleck was snubbed that year as director. Based on actual events during the IRAN hostage crisis in 1979, it is a real nail biter. Even though the ending is a matter of recorded history, the suspense will keep you on the edge of your seat. I highly recommend you add it to your Christmas movie list if you have not seen it.

Sir Hillary 11:32 AM  

Solved late today, after driving to work across the NY/CT STATELINE here in the ICEPLANET that is the Northeast. OHMAN, I liked. A lot. Clue for TRACHEA is one of the best I've seen anywhere in quite a while.

Ramis directed "Caddyshack", which is all that really matters. RIP, Harold.

Tom 11:36 AM  

A Mac hater and a rex hater? So sad. BTW, does anyone else realize that Utah is between Nevada and Colorado?

CDilly52 11:39 AM  

What fun (other than the writer/director snafu) from two of my absolutely favorite constructors!! The only thing that took me a long time was getting the app to agree to the way I entered the state answers!

I originally had them in like this (thinking it was just a twist on the Rebus): CO/NE (and I did not read the “hint”). App said no so I tried what really, really looked weird and put them in as a rebus without the slash: CONE. That was even weirder giving me in essence CONEVER/CONEWGIRL So then I thought “surely the app won’t just accept one abbreviation only?” So I had to take them all out again and I just put in the first abbreviation and . . . (as Motel the tailor would sing 🎶) “Wonder of wonders, miracle if miracles!” It worked!!!

So, I solve in the app late at night and my fat thumbs cannot hit the right letters so I have numerous typos to correct each day when I think I am finished. Probably spent a good 10 minutes taking out and replacing all the state abbreviation squares.

If this had not been the delightful puzzle it is, I might have just quit due to the solving frustration. However, since I had already solved the whole thing and I do t really care about times, my Thursday experience is a happy one (although my ego would like to know what my super fast Thursday time really was without the delay).

I’m not an INGRATE, Messrs. Agard and Kravis. Thank you for this gem. The technological problems aren’t yours!

CDilly52 11:40 AM  

Same problem. Just posted about my experience and blamed it on the NYT

Newboy 11:46 AM  

@jberg SVU is special victims spin off too many. @ Nancy: love the smell of paper books, but still read some on my Kindle app that allows some neat assistance like looking up obscure words without digging out the magnifying glass to check in the OED. A bit like large print books I suppose, another matter of choice 🥳

albatross shell 11:47 AM  

BECHDEL was a gimmie for me. I know brother John, the musician who lives 10 miles away. Have several friends from Beech Creek where the Fun(eral) Home was located. She is pretty well known from her comic strip, blog, Tony-winning play and 800,000 dollar genius award. I had no idea that John's band was a favorite of my son's at Ozfests. John was at a party of mine and my son dropped by for it, wandered in, saw John, and his jaw dropped open. He just stood there mumbling "John Bechdel is in your house" over and over. So much fun for a dad.

I apologize if I told that story here before. She did appear in a previous nytcw before, or Fun Home did.
Great puzzle despite major error and natick. Very slow getting TRACHEA and some others, but fun fun fun working it all out. Also slow getting the KAYO Kelly cross which was embarrassing since I am a off Eagles who had KELLY green uniforms. But I thought ZYNGA was going to be ZeNGA.

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

ok. that AE mashup is, in typography, a digraph. but, when in high school (or thereabouts), I recall there's a term for the 'sound type' of such mashups, but the Yellow Googles doesn't find it. anyone?

pabloinnh 11:53 AM  

Circles in my printed version, which came from the online version, so I found the note helpful. Agree with some the the paper solve is more satisfying.

The METZ/ZYNGA cross could have been fatal, but luckily there is a local architect/author named Metz, so logical guess.

The bakeries not selling AROMAS reminded me of a story I once read about a bakery that tried to charge a man for sniffing and summoned a policeman. He heard their charge, flipped a coin, and when it clinked on the sidewalk, told them that they had heard their payment. Elegant.

Terrific Thursday, guys. Pleas accept the coveted "Thursdazo" award.

SouthsideJohnny 12:08 PM  

@Anon 11:49 am - I believe that sliding vowel combination is called a “diphthong” and it refers to a situation where you “slur” two vowel sounds together (as in the first part of “aisle” for example). My memory is very hazy on this one - maybe someone more grammatically (or should that be linguistically ?) up to speed can chime in as well.

Klazzic 12:09 PM  

A+ puzzle. Clever as all get out. Rex: you blather on and on about Ramis (I mean, who really cares?) before halfway through your blog finally conceding, "It was a good puzzle!" That should have been your headline instead of this Ramis diatribe. Okay, you caught Will Shortz with an error. Do you really need to highlight it in red and gloat on Will's shortcoming? Sheesh. Shortz does his best and I salute him for that.

JC66 12:16 PM  


I don't thin @Rex saw the RAMIS error until it was pointed out to him (see numerous early posts above).

oisk17 12:19 PM  

Phooey. Loved the theme, beautifully executed, but ruined by some awful, unnecessary crosses. Zynga - Metz - others have commented. Why another POP culture reference, when Metz is a city in Lorraine, on the Moselle... And I also missed OSX, which although I own a MAC, means nothing to me, and could be ANY three letters to too many solvers. I had "edits" for "takes off," which does work, although had I gone completely through the alphabet, I would have gotten to the superior exits. Also never watched the Disney movie, so I had Ella instead of Elsa, but Vargas is so much better than Vargal (!!!) that I can't blame the constructors for that one. Great concept, well done, but unpleasant for me...

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

I saw Dale Evans at some kind of rodeo/circus themed show at the Chicago Stadium about 60 years ago and she fell off her horse

Could it be that all those shots of her riding Buttermilk were either doubled or matte?? Could it be that she couldn't ride more than a trot?? Or did Buttermilk get ornery and just buck her off?

Klazzic 12:30 PM  

I take notice that the commentariat unanimously refers to NSFW as Not Safe For Work. I always thought it stood for Not Suitable For Work. I learn something's everyday

Marcy 12:50 PM  

Thanks to all who clarified the “in theory” answer. I was taking it much too literally.

GILL I. 12:52 PM  

@Suzie Q....Annie Oakley and Calamity name a few.
Dale Evans could definitely ride a horse - that she falls off is just part of the fun. I've lost half an inch of the right finger to a horse goes with the territory.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  


Anonymous 1:00 PM  

As a parent to two middle schoolers, I can assure you that "mean mug" is very much a part of their regular vocabulary. Kids today...

Teedmn 1:02 PM  

Two personal Natick areas for me today and I guessed incorrectly at both - the Z of METZ/ZYNGA, as Rex mentions (I had S), and the U of SVU/UTLEY (I had A). I sort of recognized both when the correct answer was revealed, sigh.

After seeing CT/NY at 15D, I was able to go back to 1A/1D and add the CO, and then I looked forward to trying out the other two STATE LINEs which was fun.

But yes, IOS before OSX, hIgHLY before RICHLY and LESS of before LESS SO all contributed to a tough solve for me today, on top of the two errors. Ack!

Lots of good stuff here - I loved the 44D clue, "Inspirational passage?" for TRACHEA.

Thanks, AK and EA.

Amelia 1:04 PM  

I loved it and that's because I have the print edition. Which means I have the actual newspaper with the headline TRUMP IMPEACHED. Saving!

Easy to do in print.

Disappointing, however, was the link to the USA Puzzle, which was fine, but way too easy. If that's what he's got for a Thursday, then I'll pass.


eastcoaster 1:07 PM  

Tom 11:36 and anon 12:35: NE is the postal abbreviation for Nebraska not Nevada. It does border Colorado.

Blade 1:10 PM  

Anonymous 9:46 AM: "NSFW" stands for "Not Safe For Work."

Dan 1:12 PM  

CO and NV are not border states.

Colorado and Nebraska are border states.

Carola 1:20 PM  

Nicely done. Seeing the neighboring states after CO/NE and NY/CT was crucial to my remembing RAMIS and figuring out IN THEORY/ IN THE WAY.
I struggled in the SW and ended with a double DNF at SVa x aTLEY and METs x sYNGA.

I switched from solving in the paper to solving online after failing to crowd the CO and NE into those tiny triangles in an esthetically pleasing way. Following a long-ago tip from @Ellen S,, I use the Puzzazz app, which today reproduced the slashed squares just as in the newspaper version.

Richardf8 1:22 PM  

Solved in the App. Found it cumbersome doing rebus entries with slashes, but I went gold.

I was amused to find Bechdel at the center. Does this puzzle, written by two guys, pass the Bechdel Test?

Well, there are a few women, but the don’t talk to each other. Well, maybe Dale Evans and Elsa, this do, at least, cross.

Geezer 1:25 PM  

PATOOTIE is not specific to Babies and why the "?". What else is a baby's bottom going to be besides butt or a synonym? Is there some other meaning of Baby's bottom? Soles of the feet?

teevoz 1:27 PM  


gilly 1:29 PM  

Wonderful puzzle--just what you'd hope for when the likes of these two constructors team up. I found the conceit fresh, the fill fair (in both senses), and the clues adequately (though not impressively) sharp (more on the Ramis misfire below)

Thursdays arrive with hope and dread. When they fail, it's sadder than a dud on any other day for wasting such rich opportunity to do something novel and fun.

But like today, successes send me wishing to swap Wednesdays in to get two Thursdays a week (though the sea of flops reminds me that well-executed rebuses/twists must be in short supply). But like a kid whose Baby Yoda won't arrive til after the holidays, I suppose I should be thankful instead of greedy.

Re the error: I'm reminded of Matt Gaffney's bit about gaffes in his enjoyable book, GRID LOCK, where he stresses the need for constructors (and editors) to literally look up every movie/music/cultural-reference, even those they (think they) know for sure. It's good, simple advice to becoming a good goof-buster.

jb129 1:31 PM  

I love all Eriks's (& friends) puzzles even when I come close but have to cheat.

Rastaman Vibration 1:56 PM  

@Geezer PATOOTIE may refer to a cutesy way to refer to your your Baby’s (i.e. Girlfriend’s or Boyfriend’s) behind. I’m guessing that Rex didn’t see that way (or he was going so fast that he missed it), otherwise we would have had a two-paragraph tirade regarding the blatant sexism of the cluing, the dearth of female constructors, yada yada yada.

kitshef 2:02 PM  

Hand up for Not Suitable For Work.
@Z - Glenn Patton's comment is a slap at Puzzazz, not a compliment for Apple. Note to all developers - spend your time on products for the 75% of users on Andriod, not the 25% on iOS.

kitshef 2:03 PM  

@Geezer - well, yes, feet. Especially with OOTIE in place, I was searching for something ending in 'bootie'.

Richardf8 2:10 PM  


I enjoy a paper solve a lot more, but my options are the App or six week old puzzles in syndication.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

Another factual error: EBay doesn’t own StubHub, they sold it to Viagogo last month. And WAY too many current pop culture proper names for one grid.

Drew 2:37 PM  

This cross and the surrounding area added almost 5 minutes to my solve time. I liked the puzzle overall, but actually came to Rex's blog to see how he ripped apart KAYOS and was shocked to see he didn't even mention it!

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

Fun puzzle! But one thing: CO and NE do not share a “state line”.......

Donald J Trump 2:46 PM  

Colorado and Chihuahua are border states too. Oddly, Nebraska and Chihuahua aren't. Go figure.

Ethan Taliesin 2:56 PM  

Solid A.

Z 2:57 PM  

@kitshef - by that logic all craft brewers should just brew pilsner. Besides, 60/40 iOS in the US. Apparently Android is the preferred OS of Trump country.*

*Anyone taking this discussion of smartphone operating system superiority seriously needs to relax. I mean, a sideswipe at his im��ness should be a hint that we’re not being serious.

Suzie Q 3:16 PM  

@ GILL I., Thanks, I guess they are "Western gals" and probably rode as well as their other talents although honestly I can't think what Jane was famous for. Annie's talent I know (and admire greatly).

Paula Scheye 3:21 PM  

I took the Ramos clue to mean his character, Spengler, was director of the ghostbuster team.

scott 4:08 PM  

"I resent notes so I don't read them."
Tells everything you need to know about Rex.

RooMonster 4:18 PM  

SVU stands for Special Victims Unit. It's "Law & Order: SVU"

NV is the code for Nevada, I live here, so I know. NE is Nebraska. If you look at a map of the good ole USA, you'll see they Butt (their PATOOTIEs) against each other.

NH, as pabloinnh knows, New Hampshire
ND North Dakota
NC North Carolina
NM Nee Mexico (which also borders CO)
NY Well, you know

RooMonster STATESmsn Guy

Anonymoose 4:28 PM  

That's very charitable but the clue, "Ghostbusters"..... is in " " so a title is indicated. Hated the movie, BTW.

Anonymous 4:31 PM  

I don't think Nevada and Nebraska share a state line.

Monty Boy 6:16 PM  

I liked this one a lot. It took a while to figure out there were two entries for each rebus square, but a great AHA when I saw it. A fantastic feat of construction (IMHO).

For those who want to retire KAYO: It could be clued as Moon Mullins' little brother (old comic strip). That will generate a lot of complaints of old/obscure I'm sure.

On Dale Evans: As a kid who grew up in the 50's with a first name of Dale, I was often compared (read teased) to a COWGIRL with a horse named Buttermilk. I'd rather have been a rough, tough, six-gun slinging' cowboy named Roy who rode Trigger.

Like several others, I loved and laughed out loud at the clues/answers for baby's bottom and the inspirational passage.

Unlike others, I didn't know the director (or non-director) so got RAMIS from the crosses with no dander up.

AmyO 6:26 PM  

I did the exact same

Anonymous 6:27 PM  

I have to idly ... casually, really ... wonder how much eBay (or any other commercial enterprise whose names and brands get dropped prominently in the NYT Crossword) would have to PAY to actually get their name in the paper? It's not as if the clue ever presents the company or brand in any way other than totally on-message.

JayPeeEss 6:39 PM  

This was a slog for me. But a fun slog. My problem with the puzzle.... MN does not abut IN. To get to Indiana from Minnesota, you have to go through Illinois (IL). Or Iowa (IA). One does not just cross the border into Indiana from Minnesota.

RooMonster 6:47 PM  

@Anon 4:31
You know what I meant! ��
CO and NE, not CO and NE, and not NE and NV.
I always know what I want to say, how it comes out written here is another story!


JayPeeEss 6:51 PM  

Those two do share a border. Moving out of NV (to WI) I went through Utah into Colorado into Nebraska. Then Iowa and Wisconsin.

Lt. Kije 6:52 PM  

I wonder if the DIGRAPH clue was changed because it was also an error. In my clue in the puzzle app they give Æ as an example but I think only AE is a digraph — two characters that together make a unique sound. Once you combine them into a ligature it’s a single character and there’s nothing “di” about it anymore. Per Wikipedia: “if technological limitations make the use of æ difficult (such as in use of typewriters, telegraphs, or ASCII), the digraph ae is often used instead.”

Kathy 8:01 PM  

OMG, it took me over two hours and two sittings, but it was worth it. A rebus square containing two possibilities! Going in both directions. Diabolical! Too many proper names for my taste, but I’ll give it a pass for the sheer brilliance of a puzzle like this. It had to be difficult to create. I didn’t quite finish, four errors, nevertheless it was challenging and fun.

I glad my iPad version gave no clue that the circled squares needed two answers. (And I don’t read the notes.) It was much more rewarding to figure that out for myself. I only entered one state, not both, and that was accepted.

RooMonster 8:17 PM  

Over... but
Damn Auto correct -- ...not CO and NV...

And @JayPeeEss
It's MI and IL, not MN and IL.

Rebel Roo

Gene 8:25 PM  

I had no problem with Rex's issues with the editor this week, but I'm astonished that the editor didn't change the clue for 30A.

Unknown 8:45 PM  

Æ is a digraph in English, but in Danish. Icelandic, Norse, and Faroese is considered to be a regular letter.

albatross shell 8:52 PM  

Colorado does not border New England.

JC66 9:01 PM  


In case you're joking, NE = Nebraska.

Jake W 12:59 PM  

Why on earth they did not clue METZ with the French city is beyond me. That would have totally averted the NATICK disaster there.

LenFuego 7:45 PM  

I had the same ETSY solution as you, but fortunately Bechdel occurred to me quickly and that untangled it.

Burma Shave 8:26 AM  


that COWGIRL is a BEAUTy,
OHMAN, in NOTIME you'll see


spacecraft 12:07 PM  

A BEAUT. Landed, as did the Imperial probes, on ICEPLANET Hoth (note the paradoxical "Hot" in the name Hoth). My eyes were drawn to the slash within 15-down, to the clue/clue--and it was over. I even noticed right away that the two states border each other In Real Life, which is a touch I've come to expect from these two. This also gave away the reveal STATELINE, so it was a pretty snappy solve, for a Thursday.

The #67 thing didn't bother me, because what else could end _YNGA? And I figured the name had to be BETZ, GETZ or METZ. Let's see: NOTIbE? Nah. NOTIgE? Nope. NOTIME? Bingo! DOD of yore: Grace KELLY. Of today? KELLY Ripa. Oh yeah, she still looks good. Anyway, KELLY wins either way. Eagle.

Diana, LIW 3:14 PM  

By the time I got to the end, and was figuring out the circle guys, I was already gone for. Oh well.

And NOTNOW vs. NOTIME really goofed me up for a bit.

Hey Thursday! I gave it try - and a pretty good one!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rainforest 3:36 PM  

Great puzzle! At 1d/1a, I initially thought that single letters were required (also thinking that 1a was "dues". But, the other possibility didn't work. I got SADIE and RHEA, but the other downs were opaque. So I went to the NE which was much friendlier and 17a came easily and thus the game was up: with CO/NY I inferred two abutting states, and with the gimme ICE PLANET, the whole section fell. I then went back to the NW knowing the nature of the "_/_" themers, and it was chancing COWGIRL gave that away.

Following that beginning, the rest of the puzzle flowed smoothly, aided by the excellent fill. I actually thought that RAMIS did direct Ghostbusters, so there you go.

The letter at the cross of MET-/-YNGA had to be "Z" through the use of common sense, of which I don't have a plethora, but enough to get that one.

I really enjoyed this one.

leftcoaster 5:14 PM  

This Kravis/Agard puzzle is chock full of goodies, the outstanding feature of course being the four-way answers passing through each of the four STATELINE squares. Great construction and execution.

Last words in were the beautifully clued TRACHEA and the amusing PATOOTIE. Culled the Z in the METZ/ZYNGA cross out of a remote memory cell. There's a lot more that's good here, but no doubt all well-covered above.

Haven't had as much fun with a puzzle in some time. Thanks, Andy and Eric.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP