Seeress of ancient Greece / TUE 12-3-19 / Civil rights leader Williams who was associate of Martin Luther King Jr / Liturgical vestment / Ermine by another name

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Medium (3:43)


THEME: VOICE / ACTOR (62A: With 64-Across, performer who is like the words sounded out at the starts of the answers to the four starred clues) — "heard but not seen":

Theme answers:
  • HERD INSTINCT (20A: *Inclination to follow the majority)
  • BUTT-DIALS (32A: *Phones inadvertently)
  • KNOT-TYING (43A: *Boy Scout handbook topic)
  • SCENE STEALER (55A: *One upstaging a star, say)
Word of the Day: HOSEA Williams (14A: Civil rights leader Williams, who was an associate of Martin Luther King, Jr.) —
Hosea Lorenzo Williams (January 5, 1926 – November 16, 2000), was an American civil rightsleader, activist, ordained minister, businessman, philanthropist, scientist, and politician. He may be best known as a trusted member of fellow famed civil rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King, Jr.'s inner circle. Under the banner of their flagship organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King depended on Williams to organize and stir masses of people into nonviolent direct action in myriad protest campaigns they waged against racial, political, economic, and social injustice. King alternately referred to Williams, his chief field lieutenant, as his "bull in a china closet" and his "Castro". Vowing to continue King's work for the poor, Williams is well known in his own right as the founding president of one of the largest social services organizations in North America, Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless. His famous motto was "Unbought and Unbossed." (wikipedia)
• • •

This is some cornball stuff. The theme answers themselves are mostly fine on their own, but this kind of awful pun just does nothing for me. It's not even truly, godawfully awful. It's just a bunch of homophones. The most annoying thing is probably the clue on the revealer, which a. tells you nothing about the answer itself, and b. is worded terribly. The performer is not "like the words," they're like the *phrase* made by the words. Plus, stylistically, the revealer is just a pedantic garble of phrases: "... like the ... at the ... of the ... to the ..." Stick the landing on the revealer (and revealer clue) or absolutely do not attempt a "sound out the pun"-type theme. ARF! To make matters slightly worse, there's some truly bad fill in here. Like, retro bad. Mothball bad. ASOU!? (37A: Not worth ___ (valueless) Wow. We're really still doing that one? I feel like it's only there to make you forget about the ordinary tired crosswordese like ONEL, ALB, SRO, and ABES, which is still not a thing, no matter how much the NYTXW tries to push it. "Hey, you got any ABES on you?" asks no one. Fives are "fins" or "fivers." When it comes to bills with political nicknames, it's Benjamins and ... that's it. Collectively, you can call money "Dead Presidents" (even if that does feel a little '90s rappish, i.e. dated). But ABES, no. And crossing ABS!? No no.


The puzzle was reasonably easy but dang if I didn't get wickedly slowed down by SLASHMARK (6D: Punctuation that may mean "or"). Just no idea. I think the main reason is I would just call it a SLASH ... so weirdly even with SLASHM-R-, my brain wouldn't process it. SLASHMORE!? Also, I'm pretty sure I put in HERD INSTINCT immediately after getting the HERD part from crosses, but for Some reason I second-guessed it and removed it. Not sure what precipitated that, but stupid move, for sure. Otherwise, there were only a few other bumps along the way. Didn't know HOSEA. Thought 47A: Soak one's bib (DROOL) was some kind of idiom for drinking. Never considered that "one's" would be from the ... baby's perspective!? Very cool clue on BRIDE (61A: One of two on some wedding cakes)—so cool that I didn't read it as referring to same-sex marriage. I had trouble processing the clue, and then figured that "One of two" meant "one of the two figures, which are, of course, the bride and groom." But I'm pretty sure this one's gay, which is cool. Hooray for KNOT-TYING with whoever you love!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

"EAT ME, LESTER" is a great row. "AWAKE, KEN GOOSE!" is a close second.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

71 comments:

jae 12:39 AM  

Easy and easier than yesterday’s. Pretty smooth and pretty clever, liked it. I agree with Rex that the reveal clue was a tad tortured.

JOHN X 1:15 AM  

This was a pretty good Tuesday puzzle and I thought the theme was pretty good and pretty well done.

Rex May have seen EATME LESTER but I saw EATME! LESTER BUTTDIALS DIANA which is some kind of great tabloid headline. That’s a story I would read.

EATME is of course a world-class answer on so many different levels. I could write a ten page essay on this, single-spaced, with no padding or cheated margins or any of those tricks, and I wouldn’t repeat myself even once.

I’m convinced that LESTER Holt is actually computer generated. He just doesn’t seem completely lifelike, and he falls in that area called “the uncanny valley.” Have you ever seen him in person? No? I rest my case. Yes? That was an impostor.

KNOT TYING is pretty kick-ass too. I can me tie some knots, some bends, and some hitches too, and can tie them well. If you’re ever lost at sea or lost in the woods JOHN X is the guy you want with you, except if I was with you neither of those two things would ever happen. I used to sail a lot and would carry two 24” lengths of nylon line with me, one white and one red, and would practice elaborate knot tying. I would impress girls with them. I’d tie a knot but I’d watch the girl; if she was still interested I knew I was In Like Flynn, babe.

G. Weissman 1:26 AM  

How about that natick in the upper left? ASTRO-HOSEA. Plus two sports-related proper names in that corner as well; shocked to see the constructor is a guy. Other clues for ASTRO were available.

albatross shell 1:42 AM  

I thought the best pair of lines was:
EATS ME LESTER
BUTTDIALS DIANA
followed by
GENEVA DROOL
ADNAUSEAM BRIDE
and honorable mention to
ERS ABS TAT ARF
and
ANTED ANNOYANCE

Weird archaic puzzle.
Self aware humor, maybe.
I enjoyed the contrived pun
HERD BUTT KNOT SCENE.

JJK 2:08 AM  

I liked this puzzle, it was easy and fun. I wasn’t paying attention to the theme, but couldn’t get VOICE in the revealer until I went back and actually sounded out the phrase made by the themers and then I really had a nice aha moment. So that was fun - I think Rex should lighten up a bit, not every puzzle has to be so au courant and free of a bit of crosswordese. I do agree on ASOU - I doubt anyone has said that since about 1920 and no one under the age of 60 has probably ever heard it ever.

chefwen 2:08 AM  

When you start off with the late, great, Bart STARR at 1A, you already have a winning puzzle. The rest followed easily and I rather enjoyed the theme.

Many hours were spent watching Bart perform his magic, eating Packer dip, brats, drinking beer. Good times.

Loren Muse Smith 3:17 AM  

I liked the flipped expression, homophone puns notwithstanding. What else is heard but not seen? That &^%$ cricket somewhere in your house for three days? That freshman making a turkey call noise every time your back is turned? But you don’t know which of the fifteen SPORTSMEN is the culprit?

I don’t get all the hatred for AIN’T. I mean, we can’t say amn’t. And we’re forced to switch to the plural are in stuff like Aren’t I your best friend? At least regular speakers say this, speakers whose main concern is the communication of a thought, not the communication of their superiority. I read that AIN’T first started getting hated on in the 18th century along with contractions like won’t, but won’t somehow managed to get a pass. Me, I rather like AIN’T, especially when it expands to oust other contractions, as in I ain’t done my homework yet. So you peeves out there, go ahead and judge me. I could care less.

My husband was insisting on a Thanksgiving table wine “born in Bordeaux.” C’mon – he rarely drinks and now he’s Mr. Wine Prisspot? We live in Bum_ _ _ _ West Virginia. Ain’t no Bordeaux at our Walmart or Kroger. I asked if I could just get a good California Cab. They’re basically made from the same kinds of grapes, right? How ‘bout that Batch Number 198 Bourbon Barrell Cab? I researched it, and Kroger sells it. Nope. He says the California Cabs have gone down in quality. I bet he couldn’t tell a Pinot Noir from a Cab in a blind taste test. Meanwhile, my mom, who insists that she likes only dry whites, cheerfully sucked down the Chenin Blanc and Riesling all weekend with nary a glance at the Chardonnay.

Happy Tuesday, everyone. May your day be BUTTDIAL free.

PS - @John X – I keep a length of rope in my desk at school to demonstrate that king of knots, the bowline.

Klazzic 5:07 AM  

Yes, dear, We're Really Still Doing That One. So SOU me! Loved this puzzle. Anything that brings a smile to this mug at 2:00 am PST is worth a hug. Oh, Rexxie, I need a Starbucks coffee: can I borrow an ABE from ya? No, silly, not the copper/zinc one.
Yabba dabba doo.

My Tuesday thought: if Trump had a truthful thought in his head, it would die of loneliness.

BarbieBarbie 5:20 AM  

The theme is “heard but not seen,” and is itself heard, but not seen. Very meta. I liked it way better than OFL did. And for a great theme I’ll gladly take a couple of ELANDs. Thanks and more please.

Didn’t notice AINT until @LMS pointed it out. Shrug.

Lewis 6:10 AM  

@BarbieBarbie got it right. This is a brilliant theme, in that it demonstrates the concept it is illustrating. "Heard but not seen" ITSELF is heard but not seen, via homophones. Magnificent, and bravo, Ed. Furthermore, the theme answers are all vibrant, not to mention NYT debuts, with BUTT DIALS almost not a debut because BUTT DIAL has appeared, but only twice. IMO, some iffy fill is easily worth this theme.

I think RADIO AD could be a little theme bonus, as it too is heard but not seen.

The puzzle is rife with homophones outside of the theme, including (and there may be more): STARR, STARE, TOONS, SACK, REED, EAVE, BRAGG, NEE, and LIE.

Pay no attention to the man behind the avatar, Ed. This puzzle, IMO, is anything but "cornball" and "annoying".

American Liberal Elite 6:20 AM  

Fives are "fins" - never "abes."

Hungry Mother 6:46 AM  

Very fast without noticing a theme. I did some downs along the way, but mostly worked the rows

Hungry Mother 6:53 AM  

My favorite knot is the anchor bend.

A. Burr 7:07 AM  

"Collectively, you can call money 'Dead Presidents'..."

Gosh. Imagine that. Ben Franklin was a President. Land sakes, that's news to me. Will wonders never cease. Well, I guess you learn something new every day. Never thought I'd live long enough to learn that one, though.

kitshef 7:19 AM  

Nice Tuesday theme, alas at Monday difficulty. NO TIT and KNOTTYING were DOOKs. Good to see our old friend Sold Right Out make an appearance.

I am 100 with Rex on "abes"

GILL I. 7:24 AM  

HERD BUTT KNOT SCENE...Primo. BUTT then you start my puzzle off with an ANNOYANCE. That STARR HOSEA ASTRO made me want to shout EAT ME.
Loved the theme answers but wasn't crazy about the reveal clue. I agree with @Rex on that. Yeah, it had some oldy moldy staples but I guess we can expect that these days - especially on Tuesday.
I've never had the pleasure of a BUTT DIAL but I've been the recipient. My little sister did that once while driving with her husband to a drive-thru sushi take-out. I heard every order she placed. I was fascinated because she lives in Charleston and I didn't know they ate anything other than grits and fried okra. She ordered a California roll and I'm shouting in the phone telling her that they're icky as hell. I kept shouting at her but she never heard me. Can you imagine doing that if you're secretly having an affair? BUTT DIALS DIANA indeed.

JOHN X 7:42 AM  

My signature knot was the Zeppelin Bend.

Great success.

Anonymous 7:45 AM  

Super easy. Best part of the write up was being reminded that I haven’t heard Sturgill Simpson in a wee bit which is always a shame. Will listen to him endlessly, but not ad nauseam.

JonB3 7:49 AM  

Had 20A HERD MENTALITY before the crosses quickly dashed that thought...

Taffy-Kun 8:07 AM  

Has anyone considered making a “Little Book” of the postings of Loren Muse Smith (with her ok, of course). I like to share them with non-crosswordadores but it’s like cleaning your teeth through your ear.

Suzie Q 8:11 AM  

I thought this was plenty of fun but herd instinct felt a little off.
@ JonB3 made me realize why. If it had been herding instinct that would have felt more natural.
That did not stop me from having a good time.

Nancy 8:38 AM  

A theme that couldn't be figured out without seeing the revealer. I tried, but couldn't. (If you tell me that you could, I won't believe you).

Enormously colorful theme answers. I'm wondering if BUTT DIALS, HERD INSTINCT, KNOT TYING and SCENE STEALER have ever appeared in a puzzle before.

What's not to love about this puzzle?

I was most perplexed by KNOT TYING for the Boy Scout handbook topic. I had the "K" but nothing was coming to me. Perhaps that's because I was looking for something really useful like HELPING A LITTLE OLD LADY ACROSS THE STREET. That thought is foremost in my mind during the snow/ice season, which unfortunately is Right Now. Surefootedness on slippery surfaces not being one of my strong points, I do one of three things when my beloved terra firma is compromised:

1. I stay home.
2. I avoid crossing streets.
3. I look for a boy scout.

Please tell me, oh boy scout, that you're not home doing something ridiculously silly like TYING KNOTS.

Z 8:44 AM  

Yeah Yeah. A plethora of Ese so tired that we need to check for a pulse, but let’s talk about the real problem here. The clue for 3D is Wrong! Wrong! I say. If the answer had been ASTROs my eyebrow wouldn’t be twitching. But no ASTRO on that 2005 roster was even still in the Major Leagues in 2017. The team won the pennants, but no single ASTRO did. wrong Wrong WRONG!

@LMS - My in-laws are boxed wine drinkers. My expertise is the ability to take good advice from people who actually know something about wine. My in-laws are constantly amazed by how good the various wines I serve are. Nothing like having a low bar. They decided they needed to replace some of the wine they drank. Now I have a bottle that’s being used to sauté mushrooms. I think the technical term is “throw back wine.”

@Klazzic - How can you tell when Trump is lying? His mouth is open.

@A. Burr - Being dead and all, I guess it’s hard to keep up on slang. “Dead Presidents” as slang for money was a thing at least in the early 80’s, I think I remember it from high school in the 70’s as well but I’m not positive. Shockingly, the users of the phrase have never seemed to care about its factual basis. Oh, look, a song from 1972 using it as slang for money.

RooMonster 8:51 AM  

Hey All !
HERD INSTINCT??? What the H-E-Double hockey sticks is that? It's HERD MENTALITY. Fin.

BUTT DIALS. A bygone thing. Phones seem to not turn themselves on accidentally anymore, so your phone is safely ensconced in your pocket.

EAT ME. Har. 80's insult.

Great clue for ONE L.

What in the Great Wide World of Sports is FRERE?

GeeSE my DNF spot. Sure, Justice ALITe was a Huh?, but if the Supreme Court doesn't bother me, than I don't give A SOU about it.

Does the VOICE ACTOR DROOL doing TOONS?

BRIDE could be clued as Beatrix Kiddo.

OOH AD NAUSEAM
RooMonster
DarrinV

QuasiMojo 8:58 AM  


My STARRS, interesting theme! I know from Blaze and Brenda, and Ringo, but I had to pull BART out of some deep recess of memory. He and Unitas. I had them on my wall growing up. And not because they played football. Sandy Koufax was up there too. OOH La La!

Fun puzzle. The clue on Butt Dial left out the all important fact that you make those calls by sitting on the phone. Tapping the phone by accident is not a butt dial. A friend of mine once sat on his electronic car keys and inadvertently popped his trunk (which was a block away) and discovered later that all his stuff was stolen out of his car.

EAT ME and SCENE STEALER made me chuckle since hams are said to "eat the scenery."

The only SLASH MARKS I was familiar with are those used by editors to AXE whole sections of my manuscripts. There was no OR option, alas. "Murder your darlings" is excellent advice. Which may be why I put in MEDEA before SIBYL.

Kathy 9:00 AM  

Nice to see Rhode Island back again...maybe

I found the puzzle easy—if I didn't know a word one way, I knew it the other. Like yesterday’s puzzle, it seems apropos for the start of a week and to engage new solvers.

Picked up on the amusing theme about halfway through, but I agree that the wording in the revealer was clunky.
I didn’t pick up on the beginning words themselves being heard but not seen, even more delicious!

I rate this puzzle as very good for a Tuesday and I had fun with it.

Jay 9:01 AM  

The cluing on the top left corner is criminal for a Tuesday.
Cluing STARR (1A) as the last name of a football player from over 50 years ago on top of cluing HOSEA (14A) as the first name of a rather obscure civil rights leader is idiotic. There are definitely better clues suitable for a Tuesday - Ringo Starr or the biblical prophet.
The equally inane cluing of ASTRO (3D) did not help either. Finally, consider that RADIO AD (5D) could have been auDIO AD or even viDEO AD. All this resulted in giant natick and left me deeply disappointed. It cast a shadow on an otherwise cute theme.


Nancy 9:01 AM  

Are you my Boy Scout, @JOHN X? (1:15 a.m.) I don't especially want to watch you TYING KNOTS, (though I'm willing to make believe that I'm truly, truly riveted), but if you can keep me from being lost at sea or lost in the woods -- why you might be just the guy I'd most like to be trapped in an ice storm with. Assuming I want to be trapped in an ice storm at all.

How are you, @JOHN X, at helping slippery surface-challenged women of a certain age across icy streets?

Trouble in Wonderland 9:15 AM  

ABES could also be pennies, no? That's probably why we don't call fives, "ABES." I know the $5 as a fiver, thusly:

"All we need is a ten and a fiver, a car and a key and a sober driver, B double E double R U N, beer run!"

Because of the "On and on and on" repetition, I put in etc etc etc. I thought that made more sense with the clue than ADNAUSEAM did.

HOSEA is and always will be a book in the OT to me. DROOL does not pass the breakfast test.

I'm not a constructor, but if I were, I would see the SRO-OOH-MEH-ALB and ERS-ABS-TAT-ARF lines as some kind of opportunity. Not sure what, but they stand out as interesting features of the puzzle and probably shouldn't contain nothing but letter-strings.

Just watched a doc on Lewis Carroll...turns out he might have had a fixation on the real Alice Liddell and her older sister (Lorina). Lets just say the guy like to take pictures of young female children. A Lot, and often nude or in "adult" situations. There are few images that, if you Google them, are pretty revealing...along with his adoring letters to the children of Henry Liddell and, after having VERY close relationships with them, being suddenly forbidden to see them again...Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) was quite probably a pedophile.

I hope that passes the breakfast test.

SouthsideJohnny 9:36 AM  

Wow, compare and contrast yesterday’s stellar gem with today’s collection of “who’s who or what’s what”:

STARR HOSEA PERON ORC ASTRO LESTER DIANA AVA NIA KEN ALITO FRERE

Way, way too much trivia for my taste (although there is certainly a significant vocal and enthusiastic subset of cruciverbalists who enjoy and embrace the challenge of the infamous PPP, lol). Granted, today’s puzzle was easy enough that the trivia was by and large inferable even if you don’t know who or what NIA, ORC or FRERE are - the problem (for me at least) is that, as the week moves on and the puzzles get tougher the NYT uses the usual cast of characters (dead popes, random roman numerals, foreign words and phrases, etc,) as a crutch to fill in what are already challenging grids.

I guess I was just spoiled by yesterday’s example of what is (rarely, it appears) achievable.

What? 9:53 AM  

I live for Aha moments. Got the reveal but it wasn’t revealing. Got the fills (easy). Still nothing. Read the theme fills out loud - Aha!

chuck w 10:03 AM  

Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques, dormez vous? etc. Sang it as a round, and now it's going through my head!

Z 10:08 AM  

@RooMonster and @SouthsideJohnny - Listen to this and then I bet you will know what the H E double hockey sticks FRÈRE Jacques is. Which reminds me, Why AIN’T there diacritical outrage today? Also, you’re welcome. I eschewed the animated for children versions.

pabloinnh 10:09 AM  

Back after an injection restored some vision, yay.

Liked this fine as I'm a sucker for puns. Is this a quadruple? I know a triple, the rancher whose boys did all the work who called his spread Focus, because it is where the sons raise meet. Sorry.

I'm with LMS in being a bowline fan. Very handy knot. Also, I can tie a bowline on a bight, so there.

Thanks for the fun, ES. Had a good time, even with the need to occasionally resort to a magnifying glass, because tiny numbers.

Crimson Devil 10:10 AM  

Favorite knot= Bimini Twist. Most useful = Bowline.

Loren's Son 10:48 AM  

@LMS - Geeze Mom! How many times have I told you a bowline in a bight is the superior knot? About a thousand? Two loops, making a lounge chair, are far superior to one, two ends to tie down / pull up with are superior to one. Is that too damned hard for you? Is EATME LESTER the new Bye Felicia? EATME LESTER!

Whatsername 11:02 AM  

Well I think Rex was overly critical on this one today, except for ABES, he’s right about that. I thought it was pretty great and quite clever. A little bit of a challenge but not so much as to spoil the fun. I loved the homophones and the revealer and even the funny sentences formed in the rows which I didn’t notice until I came here to read the comments. BUTTDIALS is by far my favorite. But then I loved her so much.

EATME makes me think of the movie Animal House in the closing scenes when the Deltas got their revenge by wrecking the entire parade with their float of the same name. Poor Mrs. Wormer. I bet she never bought another cucumber again after that.

@chefwen: I watched Bart and the Pack beat my beloved Kansas City Chiefs in 1967 and ate my first brat at a Badger game at Camp Randall in 1981. Yes, good times, both times.

@Nancy: I’m with you on staying in when the snow blows. Not sure I would even trust a Boy Scout if there was one around. Seriously though, do be careful; it’s no joke. Just last winter, an old friend went out to get his mail on a day when it was icy and slick. He fell and hit his head and never came back.

Banya 11:03 AM  

Very happy about the Bride clue. Yay, Inclusiveness!

Doug Garr 11:06 AM  

Could not agree more with Rex's assessment of money nicknames. ABES? WTF? Nobody ever uses that. Ever. If you said put an Abe chip on a hard way at the crap table the stick man would laugh you out of the casino. Actually a five dollar chip is a nickel. A 25 is a quarter. Outside this arena, a ten dollar bill is a sawbuck and a 20 a double sawbuck. And yes a hundred is always a Benji or a c-note. This creepy ABE nearly ruined the puzzle for me.

RooMonster 11:07 AM  

@Z
Is that the French version of "Row Row Row Your Boat?"

😋📣

Joe Dipinto 11:11 AM  

Technically BUT is seen in BUTT and NOT is seen in KNOT, so, you know...butt I liked itt anywayy.

Watch out for that cake.

Carola 11:19 AM  

Talk about a well-hidden theme! As nicely disguised as the ACTORS hidden behind those TOONS. A clever Tuesday.

Canon Chasuble 11:35 AM  

I burst into loud laughter when I put the 4 clued words into a sentence. This was a fun and clever puzzle for me, in spite of the carping and sniping from others. My favorite “good deed” from the oldest scout “Handbook For Boys” I ever saw read “Help an old lady find her cow.”

Joseph M 11:38 AM  

I agree with those who found the theme brilliant in that it is literally heard but not seen. Also thought the fill was top quality. So MEH to Rex’s negative review. Other vertical headlines:

SHAHS BARGE AVA
ASTRO TOONS NIA
RADIO AD EVACUEE
DENIM SPORTSMEN
PSYCHED TOTEBAG

Anoa Bob 11:41 AM  

Got my first introduction to KNOT TYING in, yep, the Boy Scouts. Tied correctly, KNOTs are both useful and esthetically pleasing. One sure sign that I have tied one incorrectly is that it doesn't have symmetry and smooth flow.

All KNOTs work by friction, so if you can't tie a knot, tie a lot, i.e., just keep on wrapping, crossing and tucking.

The bowline is the Swiss Army Knife of KNOTs. It's quick and convenient but is rarely the best KNOT for any given application.

The best KNOT TYING web site I've found, and I've looked at a lot of them, is animatedknots.com.

puzzlehoarder 11:44 AM  

A Monday easy Tuesday. This was a little more than half a minute faster than yesterday's solve. The cluing for HOSEA was obscure and a debut but both 1A and 1D were gimmes so no harm done. Any further glitches were worked around just as easily. With fill this accessable trying to figure out the theme while solving would be a needless waste of time. There's always plenty of time to get the dad joke after solving.

Kathy 11:50 AM  

@canon chasuble
So I wasn't only one to call up a long ago school recitation...
Amice, alb, cincture, maniple, stole, chasuble

Unknown 12:04 PM  

Guys who fish and hunt are "sportsmen"? Sean Kemp, Gary Payton and Jay Buhner et aL are sportsmen. These hunter louts are cowardly murderers who are for some reason quite proud of their barbarism.

Music Man 12:16 PM  

4 words make their NYTXW debut today: BUTT DIALS, HERD INSTINCT, KNOT TYING, SCENE STEALER

Masked and Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Any xword that incorporates BUTTDIALS into its puztheme is A-1 on M&A's list.

Had some nice fillins, includin: PSYCHED. ANNOYANCE. ADNAUSEAM. EVACUEE. SIBYL. RADIOAD. AINT (yo, @Muse darlin).
And some nice Ow de Speration, with the luvly ASOU.

staff weeject picks: AVA & NIA, down there in that SW weeject stack, huggin Tony DOW [aka Wally Cleaver].

This here sound-alike-themer-parts-assembled-to make-a-phrase mcguffin has been SCENE before, but I thought this one was a primo version. Kinda figured it out, with an early sidewards-ish glance at the revealer's clue. Good stuff.

Thanx for a cool TuesPuz solvequest with mercifully few enroute nanosecond sinkholes, Mr. Sessa.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


**gruntz**

chasklu 12:48 PM  

Nobody mentioned ARCO?... a rather obscure musical direction.... on a Tuesday.

Andrew 12:48 PM  

Not too bad. Pretty easy for a Tuesday for me (about 2.5 Rexes). I missed a lot of the dowdy fill that Rex mentioned because I was able to get almost of them completely off of crosses (ABES I've seen enough of to know what they were looking for, ASOU held me up slightly because Tweety and Sylvester are such an iconic pair that I was trying to think of something more than just the generic "TOONS")

albatross shell 12:52 PM  

My memory tells me William Safire, in his NYT On Language column, advocated for using "ain't" as an accepted first person singular contraction for "am not". He made a very solid argument based on need and usage. Of course it was April first. I haven't found any confirmation of this.

Teedmn 1:02 PM  

Nice theme today. I'll go along with the idea that the revealer might have been worded better but I liked the multiple layers involved.

My wrong entry at 39D made filling the center a KNOTTY exercise - Sable worked with nothing after the S. D_b_L into your bib, anyone? (Dibble, dribble...) Think perhaps the Boy Scouts are kneading bread with KN_a_YING in place? A bit of body art helped me replace a bunch of ink along that corridor.

I like the symmetrically placed ANNOYANCE AD NAUSEAM.

Thanks, Ed Sessa, great Tuesday puzzle.

Mike F. 1:02 PM  

13:43. ABES and ASOUare pretty bad, agreed.

Theme was okay -- once I had 'herd...' and 'butt...' the rest of the puzzle fell easily.

Z 2:18 PM  

@Joseph M - What puzzle did you do? If you want to say the theme is worth it, okay. BUTT the fill “was top quality”? My eyebrow started twitching again:
SRO OOH MEH ALB ABS ABES AVA AVE ERS TAT NIA ARF ORC NÉE singular EAVE ONE L ARCO ETAT past tense ANTED A SOU REDOS. That’s 21 answers that are what I’m now calling crossword ETÉ™️ (Extremely Tired crosswordÉse).

Frog Prince Kisser 3:00 PM  

@albatross shell 12:52 PM

Read to end of column - I ain’t kidding 😄!

https://www.nytimes.com/1982/05/23/-by-william-safire.html

gilly 3:01 PM  

I really enjoyed the revealer (fun to be made to sound out the homophones to put it together)

...but...

it wasn't enough to make up for the boredom throughout the rest of the puzzle

...nevertheless...

great to have BUTTDIALS, which is fun and, considering the news these days, (like many products for that region) topical

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

Very enjoyable solve

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

@chasklu:
Nobody mentioned ARCO?... a rather obscure musical direction.... on a Tuesday.

not if you know anything about classical or jazz bass. that's a lot of really cool folks.

Newboy 3:17 PM  

Any day is a nice day toDROOL over puns, so thanks Ed for a solve that was well beyond MEH. Obviously wordplay for some is delight SLASHMARK for others ANNOYANCE as the commentaries above suggest .

Unknown 3:54 PM  

Great puzzle Ed! For some reason I knew Rex wouldn’t like it...surprise surprise

Unknown 4:34 PM  

I think that's rather old news.

Hartley70 5:21 PM  

I found this a much more interesting Tuesday than usual. BUTTDIAL is not predictable and the theme was fun.

Jake W 5:33 PM  

Trash. DNF in the NW – couldn't decipher the kitty clue and have never heard of the abbreviation SRO in my life.

albatross shell 6:08 PM  

@Frog Prince Kisser3:00pm
Thanks for that. It was as good as I remembered or even better. And it wasn't April 1. Still not convinced he was serious, but a wonderful argument. Knocks it out of the park.

Anonymous 6:52 PM  

Wait. Lenin gets a pass and you get upset about Trump’s cabinet members being included in the puzzle. Read some history.

Anonymous 9:47 PM  

why is singular Houston ASTRO acceptable? there's ASTRO Boy, and ASTRO Dog, and probably 20 other clues that would be more acceptable.

Billy 10:42 PM  

I entered Mob Mentality before Herd Instinct. Same number of letters, and the thing that came immediately to my mind.

Monty Boy 10:46 PM  

If you didn't look at LMS avatar, go back and chuckle.

the redanman 11:35 PM  

Awesome - no use of OREO

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