Transitional zone between two biomes / THU 12-26-19 / Secret headquarters for Bruce Wayne / Comic strip title character who is Beetle Bailey's sister / Classic tune often played by ice cream trucks

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging?? (untimed)

THEME: BOWLING (62A: Sport that is the key to interpreting the answers to 21-, 40- and 56-Across) — you must read "/" and "X"s as bowling symbols in order to make sense of the long theme answers:

Theme answers:
  • "/ ME THE DETAILS" ("/" is the symbol for "spare" in BOWLING) (21A: "I've heard everything I need to hear")
  • X THE RIGHT BALANCE (40A: Find an ideal compromise)
  • XXX IN THE STRAW (56A: Classic tune often played by ice cream trucks)
Word of the Day: SKEG (34D: Surfboard stabilizer) —

1the stern of the keel of a ship near the sternpostespecially the part connecting the keel with the bottom of the rudderpost in a single-screw ship

2a fin situated on the rear bottom of a surfboard that is used for steering and stability (
• • •

Truly viscerally did not like this one, so not gonna spend a lot of time on it. Took one look at the grid and thought "ugh, why is it so choppy? why are there all these stupid short words everywhere? this is going to be ugly" and it was. Bad enough to have so many 3-letter words, but then when you try to clue those three-letter words (none of which are or can be good fill) at a Saturday level much of the time ... the result is fussy and annoying. And at 16-wide there was just ... more of it. More JAMERGSHYDOW and YOWFLOYESNEO and on and on. I can't even get to the theme because the rest of this thing is so painful. And then just the dumbness of RIVERSEINE, what, are you writing a poem? (5D: Subject of several Georges Seurat paintings) It's just the SEINE, we call it the SEINE. I hated that ansswer So Much, even more than when I see RIVERPO, which, yes, I have seen, and which is also bad bad bad. Is the theme cute? I don't think so, but maybe you like BOWLING? I don't like that "/" is a symbol that has to be weirdly added to the grid (i.e. you would normally just write ACDC) whereas the "X"s are just those letters (i.e. writing in EXEC here was no different than writing in EXEC any other time). I resented the revealer, because a. things would've gone faster if I'd just started there, and (related) b. by the time I got there, it was a redundant dud of an answer. Also, it's a revealer with no symmetrical theme answer (unless BATCAVE factors in somehow in a way I haven't yet figured out). But the theme isn't what's truly objectionable—the crosswordese-laden trash pile of short fill is. Oh, and ECOTONE (43A: Transitional zone between two biomes), ack, blecch, no ... and it crosses RIVERSEINE too, my god I need coffee to get the taste of this thing out of my mouth.

The only place anyone says "TGIF" is in crosswords, so much so that I now truly hate the expression (58D: "What a long week!"). Why do we pretend people say this? They do not. Do they even say it ironically. Does the restaurant chain TGIFriday's even exist anymore?? At least this grid didn't have TGI, which I have definitely seen (twice this year ... so apparently the restaurant chain *does* still exist, because that is virtually the only clue the NYTX has used for it, [___ Friday's]). What the hell is a XEROphyte? (57D: Prefix with -phyte) Maybe don't just do the dumb twin clue thing (see 72A: Prefix with -phyte) when the word you are imagining is so far out of common usage (unlike "neophyte"). Incorporate the meaning into the clue somehow, so at least the solver can learn something. A XEROphyte is a species of plant that has adapted to live in environments with very little water, which makes sense, as the only XERO- prefixed word I know is XEROscaping, where you replace your stupid thirsty lawn with plants that don't require supplemental irrigation. And LOL it's not XERO-scaping but XERIscaping, oh well. My bad. ELAL AGER NNE GTO OLE ERG (!) ENGR (!!) ERSE (!!!) ELLER (!?!) it truly is relentless, this grid. There are only three real themers here, why is this grid such a black square-ridden, short fill-infested disaster??

May this post-YULE period bring us the joyous grids we deserve! Cheers!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Dave 6:42 AM  

I thought the ice cream truck song was Turkey in the Straw

How does XXX = turkey?

vtspeedy 6:47 AM  

I blew through this with no trouble, unusual for a Thursday puzzle. I didn’t hate it as much as Rex but it didn’t leave me with the endorphin rush I like when I finally crack a Thursday (or fail to). What the heck is a turkey in bowling? Also I thought “picked locks?” Was clever cluing.

mambridge 6:50 AM  

What? No comment on REJIGGER?

Lewis 6:50 AM  

I love the word SPELUNK, and, in the spirit of this puzzle's theme, may I suggest that it's a good word for the sound of a gutter ball.

Also in the puzzle's spirit, I think that the best clues were spare: those for PETS [Vets' charges], DOW [Average name], and AMA [Residents' org.].

And may I note that the puzzle has a backward SEWA, as in "needle pulling thread".

A lovely, enjoyable solve for me (thank you, Trenton), and may everyone's day go just as well!

Anonymous 7:06 AM  

I have not done today's puzzle and (hence) have not read Rex's statement.

I am worried about the future of this site. About this time of year everyone is asking for money. I have heard so far nothing from Rex. Last year I sent him a snailmail check for a whopping $20. Perhaps this is cheap by NYC standards. I think here in the boondocks this is generous--it's what I give the mailman (sic) and the man who delivers my hard copy of the NY Times. I mention this because I think most here in the midwest give far less or nothing--even if my gift seems modest.

I worry that this site will die. So much, like this site, that is done well seems to collapse. My end-of-the-year thanks for all who contribute here and have taught me so much, which I almost never acknowledge.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Eliza 7:08 AM  

What the check is xxx in the straw? I'm thinking Turkey in the Straw. Have I got the title wrong?

JJK 7:08 AM  

I just don’t get the final theme answer. What does XXX signify in bowling? And what the heck is the first word of the stupid song? I’ve heard of the something-IN THE STRAW, but can’t remember it to save my life.

kitshef 7:14 AM  

SKEG???? There was really no way to get that out of there? Oh, sure there was. SKEE/TUE would have worked. SKEG indeed.

I’ll bet Rex has also heard of Xerox, in which the “xero” also means dry.

Loved the theme. After getting the first two themers I really wondered what the third one could possibly be. Nice.

DL 7:24 AM  

Three strikes in three straight frames = turkey in bowling.

GILL I. 7:24 AM  

I never make New Year''s resolutions but this time I'm making an exception. I'm going to toss all the junk that has accumulated this last year and toss it. That includes you: YOWFLOYESNEO. I'll add some JAM with ERG, a few of the ETALII OLETRAPORS and then, just maybe, I will feel free again. Free to enjoy an eeless puzzle that makes me jump for joy.
I got that whole [spare] ME THE DETAILS knowing that there was a blank because I know my AC DC thanks to Maleska and just kept filling in the (ahem) blanks. Immediately went looking for the reveal and knew it was the one sport I have absolutely no knowledge of - BOWLING. Couldn't remember what those ice cream trucks play. All I could think of was "Do Your Ears Hang Low. Then I kept going on with: "do they waddle to and fro." My bad. Then I went on to "Home on the Range" followed by the deer and the antelopes. I then strayed into the "Pop goes the Weasel" territory. I need another drink.
I finally got the IN THE STRAW and wondered what the hell those three XXX's meant. Is that really a TURKEY? No mind....I'm still tasting the wonderful salmon we had for breakfast.
Sorry, Trenton....this was not my favorite but I'm hoping you had a wonderful holiday.

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

Three strikes in a row in bowling is called a turkey, so XXX = Turkey.

Anonymous 7:31 AM  

@ Dave Eliza and JJK — three strikes in a row in bowling is a “Turkey” which would be scored “XXX”

Waltroze 7:31 AM  

Three strikes in a row is called a turkey.

OffTheGrid 7:31 AM  

I agree with @Rex re: the theme. It's really sloppy. As Rex points out the 21 square is / and the other symbols are just X's (BTW 3 strikes are a "turkey). And one, XXX-56A, is just three of the symbol in 40A. There was just no joy in the the theme. OTOH I enjoyed the solve and the threes don't really bother me. I found this fun video

Patty 7:33 AM  

X is a strike, three strikes in a row is a turkey.

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

To all: A "turkey" in bowling lingo is when you get three strikes in a row. Since "X" indicates a strike, "XXX" therefore indicates a turkey.

And I only know this because I took a bowling class in college to fulfill a mandatory Phys Ed credit.

Unknown 7:38 AM  

A few have asked probably at least one non-fascetiously, so may as well answer: three strikes in a row in bowling is called a “turkey.” Since X is the symbol for a strike on a bowling scorecard/scoreboard, XXX marks a turkey.

Anonymous 7:39 AM  

Three strikes in a row is called a turkey.

Birchbark 7:41 AM  

XXX = Three strikes in a row, a "turkey."

/ = "Slash," as in "Slash me the details."

amyyanni 7:44 AM  

Didn't like having to use the rebus for only /. Perhaps I'm developing OCD? While I've bowled in the past, didn't know or forgot Turkey is a term for 3 strikes. Agree with Rex on this one. Abeyant also awkward. O well.

everette 7:45 AM  

X is the symbol for a strike in bowling. In bowling, a turkey is three strikes in a row. And Rex usually makes his financial pitch after New Years.

rushscott 7:48 AM  

Bowling lingo - three strikes in a row is a turkey. If you ask Rex, he’d probably just say that this was an XXX of a puzzle. (Personally I didn’t hate it but then again I am still quite the Neophyte at solving them.)

AdamW 7:49 AM  

Three strikes in a row in bowling is called a TURKEY. I knew that, but never heard of the song title, so wasn't sure it was supposed to be that, or what to put there for the longest time.

Marcie 7:53 AM  

In bowling, XXX, three strikes in a row, means a turkey.

Crimson Devil 7:55 AM  

Liked a tad more than Rex, but thas not sayin much. As said, enjoyed AMA and PETS cluing. Had dormant for ABEYANT way too long.

RavTom 8:00 AM  

In bowling, three strikes in a row is called a TURKEY. An x is how you mark a strike on the score sheet. Hence, xxx is how you’d mark a TURKEY.

pabloinnh 8:01 AM  

Let me be among many to say that an X indicates a strike in bowling and three strikes in a row is called a TURKEY.

Thought it was fun to get the gimmick and fill in the answers, although I wasn't expecting a rebus on a Friday. The BOWLING theme felt right at home, that was Sunday after church with my parents who bowled in leagues in upstate NY, Mom the little lefty and Dad the big righty, knocking down those pins. Would have to drive thirty miles at least to find a bowling alley around here.

Yeah, lots of three-letter words. On the other hand, it's a crossword puzzle.

Thanks for the memories, TC. Didn;t see SPLIT anywhere, but splits are tough.

Suzie Q 8:07 AM  

It looks like no one, including Rex, is going to answer why the XXX means turkey. I don't know either. I understood the / and the X but was really disappointed to see the joke at the end was lost on me.
I'm thinking the Venn diagram of bowlers and the NYTX doesn't overlap very much.
My favorite thing about bowling is the funny two-toned shoes you rent.

Bob Emeritz 8:11 AM  

In bowling, three consecutive strikes is known as a turkey. The symbol for a strike on a bowling scoresheet is an X.

Unknown 8:11 AM  

Aaah! Three consecutive strikes in bowling is called a turkey! Who knew?

Merriam-Webster 8:12 AM  

Definition of turkey

1: a large North American gallinaceous bird (Meleagris gallopavo) that is domesticated in most parts of the world

2: FAILURE, FLOP especially : a theatrical production that has failed

3: three successive strikes in bowling

4: a stupid, foolish, or inept person

Schatzi 8:12 AM  

Three strikes in a row in bowling is known as a “turkey.” When keeping score in bowling (old school w/ a marker and acetate on an overhead projector) a strike is annotated w/ an X; a spare w/ a /.
So technically this puzzle doesn’t equate to a turkey because there is a spare in the first frame. I think.

Orthodox Jew Deli Counter

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

In bowling terminology X is a strike. XXX is a turkey.Voila

oopsydeb 8:13 AM  

A turkey is three consecutive strikes in bowling. I don't know why it's called that. I don't know why I have that little bit of knowledge. It didn't even help me with the puzzle because I don't know the song TURKEY IN THE STRAW. I spent time trying to remember a song called Three Strikes IN THE STRAW...

This one was really tough for me even though I figured out the theme pretty quickly.

QuasiMojo 8:14 AM  

Three Strikes XXX in a row is called a Turkey.

I enjoyed this puzzling puzzle and have heard the Seine referred to as the River Seine countless times. Maybe even in the titles of certain paintings.

BAT CAVE and ROLE PLAY next to each other got a louche chuckle out of me.

Good ole Aunt ELLER. Gotta love her.

Happy Boxing Day to my friends across the Pond. And a joyous Thursday to all of us here in the good old USA.

Chris 8:15 AM  

Three strikes in a row (XXX) is called a turkey in bowling. I have absolutely no idea why.

Tmurrell 8:22 AM  

3 strikes in a row (xxx) is called a turkey!

tim 8:23 AM  

Enjoyed the theme; AC/DC /sparemethedetails was cute
Didn't enjoy all the 3 letter words, though.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

Not only does TGI Fridays still exist but there is an outlet about 2 miles from Binghampton University

Suzie Q 8:42 AM  

If there wasn't such a long lag between submitting a comment and when it is posted we could avoid situations like this when 1,000 people respond to the same question.

mmorgan 8:42 AM  

I knew that a slash is a spare and an X is a strike but like many I was baffled by the XXX. I couldn’t imagine why getting three strikes in a row would be called a turkey in bowling (it makes more sense in baseball!), but it seems to have something to do with bowling tournament prizes in the 18th and 19th centuries. So good to know that.

mmorgan 8:48 AM  

Now remember this:

Four consecutive strikes: Hambone
Six consecutive strikes: Wild Turkey
Nine consecutive strikes: Golden Turkey
A Perfect Game, all strikes from start to finish: Dinosaur

QuasiMojo 8:54 AM  

I'm having a tryptophan overdose from all these Turkeys!! My own included. :-)

Jeremy 8:56 AM  

Can't tell if you're joking or not, but... "/" = "Spare", ergo "Spare me the details."

Teedmn 8:59 AM  

Well it certainly didn't take long for me to read the comments this morning since I skipped all of the turkey explanations. I learned how to bowl in grade school PhyEd so the terminology was a known for me.

What I didn't know was that ice cream trucks played that song! My home town, population 2800, did not have an ice cream truck.

I filled the first themer in as a rebus but got the bowling theme when EXEC filled in. I then went back and replaced "spare" with a slash. I thought that was kind of fun. I agree with Rex that the puzzle was fairly choppy but I enjoyed the harder clues. My favorite was 4A's "It's not much work" for our crosswordese friend, ERG.

ECOTONE sounds like a "green" makeup brand.

Thanks, Trenton. Nice choice of theme answers.

Crimson Devil 9:11 AM  

Amen Susie Q!
Sooo many repeat redundancies (😉)) make blog a slog.

Debra 9:15 AM  

Very suitable Thursday. I enjoyed it. Even though I was mystified how XXX made a turkey. Thanks to all for explaining.

4w5 9:23 AM  

Are there still so many people in the world that have never heard of Google? You just open up a tab on your browser, in the search bar you type in a few key words ("what is three strikes in bowling called," for example), and *poof*, like magic, your answer appears.

As for bowling, I remember the day when bowling was a thing. It was like roller skating. It was a viable and popular mode of entertainment. Now, bowling alleys are disappearing...people still play, but when my friends bowl, it's usually done ironically. We go, we throw heavy balls down an alley, and DRINK. Instead of sitting at the bar and drinking, you go bowling and drink. See also softball.

I'd be willing to bet that commenters will respond, "Hey! I bowl all the time...I just went bowling last week!" It's probably because you're old enough to remember what bowling used to be, but judging by the number of posters here who didn't know that three strikes in a row is a turkey, you would be an outlier. Bowling alleys are so hard to find where I live, someone put up a restaurant/bar/coffee shop with a bowling alley in the back, where people can bowl ironically and eat/drink for about $40 an hour.

This puzzle was indeed a turkey, btw. I agree with Rex that the fill was riddled with 3-letter xwordese. Also the use of "/" is cool, and I wish more non-letter characters were used in puzzles, but it was inconsistent with the Xs functioning as actual letters in the downs (and also made for some wretched fill).

Jesus Quintana 9:27 AM  

In bowling, three strikes in a row is a turkey XXX

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

Ditto for bowling class in college...

A couple of comments... I’m sick of “Afro” being clued by white people and the clue today was tone deaf. Can we try to be more culturally competent?
Also, if you google Turkey in the Straw to remind yourself of the tune, you will see that there were racist versions of the song which pop up right next to the YouTube video of the *classic* tune. Why do we go there?

I’m not sure what the comment above about Rex not mentioning the “rejiggered” clue was going... but if we don’t acknowledge the reason that word might be problematic, then all the most clever bowling themed Thursdays are merely white privilege on display...

My two cents here. You wanna come at me? At least consider how this puzzle may have hit you if you weren’t white.

Z 9:31 AM  

I’m confused. Anyone know why XXX = “turkey?”

Anyone else wonder what kind of wine is served in the BAT CAVE?

ABEY ANT looks like a religious pest to me.

You all know how I feel about saying a clue is wrong, but AWES and respects are in no way related. Two distinct and not intersecting concepts. One might feel both for the same person or thing, but feeling one doesn’t necessarily mean you also feel the other. I entered the “correct” answer under protest.

What Rex said about all the terrible threes. BOWLING seems like a sport that peaked in the 1960’s and 70’s, when ABC showed the finals on Saturday afternoon. By The Big Lebowski it was more metaphorical than an actual thing, and that was two decades ago. The whole endeavor just struck me as especially dated.

@Birchbark - naughty naughty.

Joaquin 9:31 AM  

Poor Rex. Must have gotten lumps of coal not just in his Christmas stocking but his gift packages, too. He was more Rexish today than ever!

SouthsideJohnny 9:40 AM  

I was able to discern the first two themers, and when I saw ice cream in the final one I tried to force (banana) SPLIT into that one. I had never heard of “Turkey in the Straw” so the SW corner was a total mess and my solving experience ended there.

I’ve heard of abeyance, but never ABEYANT - is that a real word, or just one the NYT made up ?

Trivia is not my forte - no clue on ELLER so I attempted to force “spanish” into 31D since it was clued as “Magellan”.

I must be getting better at crosswordese since it played a little easier for me today.

TD in OP 9:44 AM  

You mentioned needing to get the taste out of your mouth. Here is a quote from the book The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane.

“No“, he said. “It just tastes awful. Oily and chewy and acrid. I have no idea what all the fuss is about. I know a Lewisian crofter who, when I asked him whether he liked gannet meat, replied, “I gave a piece to the dog and it spent all week licking its arse to take away the taste.“

(Not what the book is about, but how wonderfully descriptive!)

Rainbow Warrior 9:48 AM  

Can anyone explain why “rejiggered” is triggering. That’s a new one for me.

Armagh 9:53 AM  

My God, what a train wreck.
1. Bowling is not a sport, it's a game. Any endeavor at which one improves while imbibing is not a sport.
2. To expect the solving public at large to be familiar with bowling notation is ridiculous.
3. Is there a single iota of three-letter drek the constructor left out?

Richardf8 9:55 AM  

Xerophyte was totally my word of the day. Being a paddler, I was already familiar with skeg.

AC/DC really puzzled me; I could not think of a way to enter a lightning bolt in the App

If "turkey at the bowling alley” replaces “racy film rating” as the go to clue for XXX, I don’t think I’d cry.

Nancy 9:56 AM  

Normally, I neither notice nor complain about three-letter answers. But the overabundance of them was hard to ignore in this puzzle. And the fill was so...crosswordesy. "This better be worth it," I said to myself through gritted teeth, as I waited to see what trick would justify so much ugliness.

After not being able to understand XTHERIGHTBALANCE, I got the trick at "SPARE ME THE DETAILS". "Aha!", I said, "BOWLING!" It was the theme answers that got me the Revealer -- which is, of course, bass-ackwards.

Since I always put my fingers in my ears when ice cream trucks play music (or should I say "music"), I had no idea what they played. But once I had "....IN THE STRAW", there was only one tune I knew in the entire universe that fit. I hemmed and hawed over 56A until I finally, dimly, remembered from my limited bowling experience that XXX was called a TURKEY. It was nothing I, as a bowler, would have ever had any occasion to write or say.

Would love to say that the cleverness of the theme and my genuine "Aha!" Moment made up for the unpleasant solve. In my case it didn't. Results may vary.

The Dude 9:58 AM  

@Z 9:31 AM

Bowling is incredibly popular in the big cities, and among the millennials no less! Go to Los Angeles or New York and see how many classic bowling alleys are doing banner business and new bowling alleys are opening up. Here’s some advice: move out of the sticks.

Whatsername 10:10 AM  

Not awful but wasn’t great either. It’s one of those puzzles that I was hoping would build up to a satisfying aha moment and instead it dwindled down to a thud, much like a BOWLING ball that looks like a sure X and then veers into the gutter. Oh and @Lewis, I agree that SPELUNK is the perfect onomatopoeic word for that sound.

Echoing @Anonymous at 07:06, I seldom acknowledge those on this forum - including OFL - who share their knowledge and insights daily. I continually benefit from both by coming here to read the review and comments. I’ve been doing NYT crosswords for about 20 years and I can hold my own most days, but I nearly always get something from the posters here. It is obvious many of you possess keen intellects and far superior solving skills. Seriously, some days I’m in awe at the depth of discussion - not to mention those I look forward to reading because they are just plain entertaining. I’m tempted to name names but don’t want to leave anyone out, so I will just say to all of you who take the time to leave your pearls of wisdom: Thank you and best wishes for the new year.

Jake W 10:20 AM  

YOW? Are you serious? YOW!? I give up.

puzzlehoarder 10:21 AM  

I didn't know that turkey was a bowling term and I thought the song's title was "Turkey in the Hay". The SW corner was a little harder than the rest of the puzzle. Other than that my only other slow downs were a few write overs. I had GOEST/GOETH, IBID/ISBN and ECOZONE/ECOTONE

If it weren't for that SW corner today's solve would have felt as unremarkable as those of the previous three days.

Richardf8 10:21 AM  

As for Bowling’s past and future - Bowling Alleys used to have bars. Now bars have bowling alleys.

Nancy 10:21 AM  

I can explain, @pabloinnh. Today isn't Friday. It's Thursday :)

kenji 10:25 AM  

Hahaha. Finally someone said it.

kenji 10:32 AM  

Let's just say that, minus the "re," the rest would appear among a long list of "other words/expressions for" a racial slur. Refer to the song from the musical Hair: "Colored Spade."

RooMonster 10:33 AM  

Hey All !
@pabloinnh 8:01
It's Thursday, not Friday. When Christmas falls in the middle of the week, it throws the days out of whack.

Triple X In The Straw? (Har, kidding, kidding. Please not 2,491 replies that it's Turkey).

Fun BOWLING puz, although agree about the Threes. 22 of the little buggers, with 16 in the Acrosses. YOW indeed. (Fun YOW DOW symmetry pair).

Maybe Bruce Wayne has a BOWLING alley in the BAT CAVE? Symmetrical tie-in!

Surprised I ot everything 100% correct. Had dormANT in for ABEYANT, but when SPACEPROBE finally entered the ole brain, took that out, and since all the Downs made sense, ended up with that odd word, and hoped for the best. Same with the R of XERO/ARE. Really wanted XEnO, but AnE isn't anything, especially as clued. Last letter in (and a Hail Mary), the A of HEATH/AMIS, because Holy SKEG, Batman, two very unusual answers.

At least this puz has an excuse for being 16 wide. Which, yes, I did notice.

ECOTONE seems like it'd be better named ECOzONE, no? YES. 😋


Anonymous 10:36 AM  

If people don’t know that the feat of rolling three strikes in a row (denoted as XXX on a bowling score sheet) is called a Turkey, you shouldn’t be solving the NYTXW.

TJS 10:37 AM  

Try to get a lane at any of the bowling alleys in the Chicago area on a weekend night and you will learn about the popularity of bowling. And by the way, @Armagh, athletic scholarships are offered for the "sport" of bowling at numerous colleges in the U.S.
Apparently Rex just couldn't find time to appreciate such fill as deli counter,spare me the details, orthodoxjew, spaceprobe,spelunk, etc.
Favorite quote : "I resented the revealer, because a. things would've gone faster if I'd just started there". Really ? What a concept !
Anonomous,9.29, do we really have to research the race of the constructor to see if they have the right to use certain words in the puzzle? Or should we just assume they are all white ?

Hungry Mother 10:37 AM  

DNF on the SW due to not being able to get the XXX for Turkey. Just beyond me today.

jberg 10:40 AM  

i don't know why its called a TURKEY, specifically, but the reason it's got a name comes from how bowling is scored. If you get a strike, you get 10 points for the pins you knocked down, plus the number of pins you knock down with the next two balls you bowl. So three strikes in a row gets you 30 points for the frame, the highest possible score. I suppose it's like an eagle in golf; big birds for something really desirable.

Bowling was dying out here in Boston, with a lot of lanes converted to apartment blocks, but it made something of a comeback with the invention of "cosmic" bowling -- lanes are decorated so look like a starry night, and draw a late-night crowd. You can call it ironic if you want, and I guess there are fewer leagues, but it keeps the lanes open. Unfortunately, from my parochial viewpoint as a Midwesterner, they're all candlepin lanes, which I really can't get INTO.

FWIW, the etymology of rejiggered comes from the dance, passing through fishing and machine shops -- I realize that may not make a difference in how it feels.

But as offensive comments go, "move out of the sticks" is fairly bad.

I enjoyed the puzzle despite all the 3s, but I failed -- I went with XERaphyte, which gave me YaW; I didn't check the clue, and as a nautical term it fit well with SKEG, so I let it go.

Richardf8 10:43 AM  

ANE could be clued “The Levant, in biblical times, for short.”

dadnoa 10:47 AM  

+1. Thought for sure the lame clue and the lamer answer would draw ire. Rex spared us the details. We struck out. We’re turkeys, I guess.

Z 10:49 AM  

@The Dude - Two things. First, if you’re going to go with a relevant alias you need to post in character. Your reply was more Walter Sobchak than The Dude. Second, the millennials are all bowling ironically as they quote The Big Lebowski.*

@Rainbow Warrior - I’m not certain but I think it is because of what it sounds like. Yeah, yeah, it’s probably from a sailing jig or a carpentry jig, but if you don’t know the source a double-take is hardly surprising. And it’s not as if the NYTX has earned the benefit of the doubt. But, yeah, it took me a couple of seconds to figure out why that seemed problematic to someone.

@Susie Q - That did seem a tad excessive, but the same thing happened often enough before the days of moderation that I don’t blame the time lag for the first 10.

@Teedmn - Maybe the make-up used in Wicked? Or were you thinking more of a “no testing done on animals” type brand?

*Just a reminder that tongue is firmly in cheek and that @The Dude is correct about BOWLING being popular in big cities. Within a mile of my Detroit Condo were the Garden Bowl and the Punch Bowl Social. The former has been there for a long time, but the latter is a newer place tailored to 20-somethings and 30-somethings. Make what you will of the fact that the only league either place offers specifically says “we want low-average bowlers. They’re more fun.”

Kaila 10:52 AM  

It’s XERIscape, not XERO. But I completely agree on the lack of joy in today’s puzzle, apart from SPELUNK. I enjoyed that one.

Mark 10:56 AM  

I googled (using Bing, but you can’t write “I binged”) “turkey bowling” to figure out XXX. I rebused the word “spare” which the app accepted in iPad, but of course “strike” did not work, let alone “turkey.” Southwest corner was ridiculous, even stumped ace Jeff Chen.

Malsdemare 10:59 AM  

A big "Amen" to @Whatsername and anonymous 7:06. I don't always speak up, but I read the blog daily. I learn stuff, I giggle, I have "aha" moments. There are head slaps as well when someone points out the obvious. I even enjoy the disagreements (well, many of them). And to @podius, I kick in and imagine that most folks here do as well. But it’s a good reminder of the value of the blog.

Happy Boxing day, everyone.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

I hear people say TGIF often. Maybe because, unlike Rex, I have a full time job.

Malsdemare 11:00 AM  

Sorry @poggius, for misspelling your name.

Tom R 11:04 AM  

Got the theme but was confounded by the slash/spare. My Acrosslite would not let me use the slash symbol and I had to rebus "spare" to get the solve. Kind of messes up the symmetry of the thing. I also did not know about 3 strikes being a turkey, got the XXX from the crosses. Turkey in the straw is maybe the best known old time fiddle tune - numerous examples on you tube.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

I didn’t appreciate the Turkey in the Straw clue. I know that for many it’s just a part of Americana, and it surely is. However, there is a very dark side to this song in terms of racism in America. The lyrics of this song were changed to ridicule and promote hatred towards African Americans. Turkey could have been used in so many other ways other than this. For more information, read this How did this get passed the editor, Boo.

Kathy 11:22 AM  

Fun puzzle, but I got snookered even though I totally had the theme and answers.

Wrongly assuming we were dealing with a rebus for the three bowling terms, I entered thusly:
“spare” in 21 across.
“strike” in 40 across
“turkey” in 56 across, even though that one seemed strange. (Turkey x x in the straw...I should have become suspicious at that point.)

I finally gave up and turned on auto check. Two errors—40 and 56 across. But “spare” in 21 across was accepted. whaa???

So, since those were NOT rebus squares, I concluded I should have:
/ in 21 across
X in 40 across
X in 56 across

And that makes sense!

But I have to ask, why did my iPad puzzle accept the rebus “spare” where the correct answer was a slash? I probably sound like Rex, but this doesn’t seem consistent. Maybe it’s just the programming algorithm that was off.

Despite the fact that I was looking for a non-existent rebus, as a former bowler, I enjoyed the puzzle and the theme.

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Utter DNF for me as I know less than nothing about scoring in bowling. I've been bowling about 5 times in my life, and someone else did the scoring each time.

But I do own a pair of my own bowling shoes, because the thought of putting on shoes that dozens of other people have worn makes me heave. So on the far-off chance I might go bowling again some day, I've got the most important piece of equipment.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Hear, hear, Poggius

@Rainbow Warrior:
Can anyone explain why “rejiggered” is triggering. That’s a new one for me.

Don't know, either. Perfectly good word for jury rigging; not the kind used in Russpublican voting regimes, either. Must be some white supremesist code I (and you, apparently) don't grok. A syllable within, *does* have virulent meaning, but I've never heard full words incorporating it being used. But who knows, OK signing got co-opted by the WS movement. Why not innocent words?

Jon in St Paul 11:34 AM  

Disagree with Rex on this one. Yes, clue on XEROPHYTE was bad. Otherwise, I quite enjoyed this. Enjoyed the aha of getting the theme. Enjoyed the clue for AFRO. Enjoyed seeing ELLER in the grid. Came straight here after finishing (as always) and expected a positive write-up. Was surprised to find otherwise.

SBpianist 11:34 AM  

Oy vey. Bowling Naticks. What a mess.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Teaching, even at a C-level college, entails more personal time than what's in the lecture hall. If you want the extreme example, if you've got the guts, try being a middle school teacher in a diverse city (aka, the Bad Parts). Not only do you have to spend hours of 'your own time' doing classroom related tasks, you most likely, have to spend money out of your own pocket to keep supplies that the Damn Gummint won't keep available. Healthcare and education are the two most important things a Damn Gummint can supply to its populace so that said populace can thrive. There are certain States where those things are expressly denied to the populace in order to keep them supplicant through sickness and stupidity.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.
Ernest Hemingway

jb129 11:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 11:43 AM  

@Z, second @the Dude, Bowling is back. Office holiday party was at the bowling alley this year. Youngsters, geez. What happened to cocktails and hors d'oeuvre followed by a good dinner, wine and a scandal to talk about the following work day? Turned out to be a blast.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Not cool today

CDilly52 11:54 AM  

SPELUNK as a gutter - how absolutely onomatopoeic (onomatopoeic?-I never know which is correct). LOL!

GHarris 11:56 AM  

Had the same issue you raise, why one a rebus and the other two require actual letters? Threw me off until I too sought the guidance of autocheck. Then got the confirming "congratulations ".

b-t-trips 11:56 AM  

Thought it was mostly fun - Suggested resolution for next year: less whining & negativity!!

CDilly52 11:58 AM  

OK, REJIGGER was just lame, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one and know just barely enough bowling lingo to get by. Pretty easy but some fun clues: average name; picked locks. A romp in the park and I liked it way more than @Rex. I’m open to why I’m ignorant and should hate puzzles with short fill “just because” but this one made me smile and I enjoyed it, so sue me.

jb129 12:00 PM  

@pabloinnh @ 8:01 am

Isn't today Thursday?

Doug Garr 12:00 PM  

I used to bowl, and serious bowlers no longer use the word turkey. I"m surprised Rex didn't complain about this. They say I doubled for two in a row or tripled for three in a row, or had a four-bagger or five-bagger when stringing strikes. That said, I had a feeling Rex would hate this puzzle. Bah, humbug! As a middling solver who has trouble from Thursday on I really enjoyed solving it because I knew it was hard enough for me to leave and go back to a couple of times with a fresh look. I got stuck in the SE when I tried DORMANT for ABEYANT (I had the ----ANT). And it took me awhile to guess the theme. Once I got two-thirds through I zipped across the finish line.

ghostoflectricity 12:01 PM  

This one was poor to say the least. Only got 56 and 57 down by guessing the first letters were X's- did not know that XRAY is in the NATO alphabet and, like Rex, have never heard of a XEROPHYTE, although I'm familiar with the Greek etonyms of both parts of the word. I am familiar with "Turkey in the Straw" but did not know (or care) that "turkey" is the bowling term for three consecutive strikes. I also think that it is egregious cheating on the part of the constructor to use the "strike" icon (X) twice in the puzzle- the third themer is just a very weak variation on the second one in this puzzle. If bowling does not have an abundance of icons that you can imaginatively use in the puzzle (and, again, I neither know nor care if it does; I am familiar with the spare and strike icons), then perhaps your theme is unworkable, period. Don't use the same one twice, especially in a puzzle with only three themers.

The "Lois/Skeg" cross was a near-Natick for me. Does anyone know or care that the sister of the title character of a comic strip permanently mired in 1950s sexist, racist, misogynist "humor," who I would guess has appeared in the strip no more than a handful of times, is named Lois? Does anyone not familiar with the most abstruse sailing/surfing jargon know or care what a skeg is? Finally, I guess it makes since that the noun "abeyance" has an adjectival form. I am almost 65, have the read The Times daily cover to cover since age 20 and done the crossword regularly since about age 30, read a lot in general, and I have never seen the word "abeyant" until now. Lousy, lousy Boxing Day puzzle.

Newboy 12:03 PM  

Me too. After SPELUNKing among the recesses of alternative keyboards for a / mark that would work in the AcrossLite app, I gave up and got mr. happy with just an S? Go figure . Thanks to a college PE requirement, this played pretty easy & I’m sure that the plethora of 3letter entries were gimmes as well. Still amusing as is this blog, so I also hope that $$ flood Rex’s mailbox and this minor madness continues.

Teedmn 12:13 PM  

@Z, I'll go with your take on the "Wicked" green - good one!

Truth be Told 12:24 PM  

@Anon 11:36.

In what sense is “diverse” a synonym for “bad parts”?
Could you please name one or two “C-level” colleges for us, and elaborate on the criteria that you applied to make such a distinction?
You mentioned that there are “states” (plural) where “healthcare and education” are “expressly denied to the populace”. Will you please name at least two states that have “expressly denied” the education of their constituents via legislative statute?

The floor is all yours, that is “if you've got the guts“ to reply.


pabloinnh 12:32 PM  

@jberg-My understanding is that XXX, written down, looks like turkey tracks. Not sure I agree, but there it is.

@Nancy (and uou too Roo)--thanks for pointing out my Thursday/Friday confusion. I'd like to blame it on something other than inattention, a la OFL, but I don't have any good excuses. Christmas midweek confuses me and we're not doing our big family get together until Saturday for various reasons. That's the day after tomorrow, I think.

webwinger 12:33 PM  

Maybe it’s just the Hanukkah spirit, but I really had a good time today with the puzzle, @Rex’s comments, and the bloggers’ posts.

I liked: (1) Finding a single rebus (or more accurately today, nonstandard character, which rightly functions as a bowling symbol in the across themer and a regular slash in the crossing down, just as is the case for the Xes in later themers--no problem for me entering the / in the NYT app). This happens now and then, and somehow it always seems cool to me. (2) The theme was pretty tightly configured as a progression around good things that can happen in bowling, and all 3 long answers were very much “in the language” phrases, appropriately clued. (3) The revealer was perfectly straightforward, and definitely helped with my solve. Like @Nancy, I’ve been an occasional bowler in the past (hand up for college phys ed class, but experience not limited to that), and retrieved “turkey” from a deep mental recess after getting the revealer and IN THE STRAW. The downs crossing XXX were easy to infer after that, even if XEROPHYTE was obscure on its own. I liked the suggestion that the strategically placed BATCAVE might have contained a bowling alley (though more likely it was above, in stately Wayne manor). (4) A few very good long downs, especially for my fellow Hanukkah celebrants. (5) Great cluing for some of the short fill, IMO. Especially appreciated “Average name” for DOW. Like many, I’m sure, I started with jOe, then changed it to DOe; finished the puzzle with the final W, a very satisfying moment.

Please lighten up a bit, OFL/Grinch/Scrooge, it’s Christmas as well as Hanukkah! Some of your complaints today were way over the top: The revealer could have helped with the solve? Cluing for short fill at times was Saturday level? Unprecedented hate for RIVERSEINE? And TGIF is an expression I’ve heard people say many times…

As for the @RP followers, the concatenation of explanations for XXX = turkey went from being puzzling to annoying to hilarious. Was also intrigued by the range of attitudes toward bowling. Though never an avid participant, I certainly understand its appeal, and the skill involved. There’s unquestionably cultural bias in play here, not surprising from NYT readers, as someone noted. It’s probably not coincidental that there’s a likely large overlap between Trump supporters and bowlers, with membership in either category adding to contempt for the other in some quarters. Got a kick out of the Bostonian’s remark about candlepins—I found that passion one of many puzzling features Beantown culture when I lived there for a few years.

Finally, REJIGGER… Interesting that both “jigger” and “rejigger” come up with the same definition, akin maybe to “valuable” and “invaluable”? The connection with racial slurs involving its central three letters seems so remote that only someone always on the lookout for such would find it, but unfortunately (in my view anyhow) there are many such people out there in left field. Which brings me to the comment from @Anonymous 9:29 (my fellow college bowler, maybe also at Oberlin?). Always hard to push back against anonymice, but this one placed a chip firmly on their own shoulder, so here goes: Are you African-American yourself? I’m going to guess no. The most intense hissing about racially/ethnically “insensitive” words and practices seems to come from people who are in fact white. (A favorite fact: more whites than blacks got upset over the recent revelation of a past blackface sin by the Virginia governor.) I just don’t see who benefits from this kind of thinking.

Joe Dipinto 12:37 PM  

I'll take a big plate of the paella, please. You can keep everything else. This is to annoy Rex.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

@Doug, I'm curious. Why not just say Turkey to condense all words?

What? 12:40 PM  

XXX - turkey
XXXXX (as in this puzzle) - also turkey

CDilly52 12:47 PM  

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments, and FWIW, if you think the Midwest gives in small amounts you should look at Oklahoma! Part of the giving dearth is due to the horribly depressed salaries and wages, but that doesn’t cover the gamut.

I appreciate being able to share thoughts and opinions in an open atmosphere. In my daily work life, we seem to have lost the ability not only to compromise but to participate at the front end of what a process of compromise used to be, in the discourse that acts as the catalyst for compromise. I come here each day (don’t always have time to post) to enjoy the insight, humor and variety of opinion. I say in all seriousness, this site contributes a great deal to my life and I hope we are all here for decades!! I’ll give similarly to Poggius and hope that my estimate of the number of regular readers is close in the ballpark so that my $20-25 won’t seem penurious!! Happy New Year everyone.

CDilly52 12:48 PM  

Three bowling strikes (XXX) in a row is a “Turkey””.”

Ando 12:49 PM  

I thought this themer was terrible. Rebus in one square, one square.. and across three squares, combining multiple rarely-known answers? It's not supposed to work like that.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Backlash against rejigger? When you mix drinks are you not allowed to use jigger of alcohol? If you want to buy said jigger on Amazon should you avoid searching on the name of the item? Can you use it to describe which sail you're talking about? Can you use it in the mechanical sense if you're talking about reciprocating motion?

However @Webwinger, more white than African American Virginians were most likely upset over their governor because African Americans assumed he was a nitwit from the beginning.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  


Unless your in De Nile, the way the Bad States implement servitude is through the appropriation process; no legislation necessary. Simple deny the money for healthcare (don't take more Medicaid money, fur instance) and education. I'm not going to do the walking through the Yellow Googles to show you the states which spend the least on those Damn Gummint functions (they are, ya know). You can, if yore interested, do so.

As to 'diverse', it means what it says: there are 'good parts' and 'bad parts'. The rural white populations are not diverse, but many of them are strangled by they're state's appropriation process, and have dreadful education.

The point of C-level colleges is *there isn't* a distinction with respect to instructors' time demands. All college instructors, no matter the 'quality' of the college's reputation, have much the same out-of-classroom responsibilities. The sentence I offered was a jab at those who've tossed darts at RP's school. SUNY, on the whole, is a very good state system: Forbes, of course, is the publication of the Capitalist Class.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

as to the death/dearth of Bowling, you lazy fools who can bowl well into the 200's with your big fat balls and belly pins should try that on a candle pin alley in Revere. you might break 100, or may be not.

Anonymous 1:04 PM is a very good piece on the deeply racist roots of the ice cream jingle.

Masked and Anonymous 1:07 PM  

@RP. har. Well, good mornin, Sunshine. First of all: who don't enjoy BATCAVE BOWLING? Second of all: RIVERSEINE and REJIGGER are sooo deliciously, inseinely desperate. Kick in yer robust litter of 22 weejects, and what's not to like?!?

I'd hafta say there are really *four* theme answers, not three. The BOWLING revealer is definitely part of the theme mcguffin. (Five themers, if U count the mc-rebussed AC/DC.) And since the grid is extra-wide, 22 weejects ain't overly high; I mean -- shoot -- the puz's average word length is a respectable 5.01. [Average for all ThusPuzs = 5.06, so we're quibblin here over a runty .05 of a word.]

scenic fillins included: DELICOUNTER. SPACEPROBE. AMRADIO. BATCAVE (BOWLING). ABEYANT. SPELUNK (yo, @Lewis). ROLEPLAY. Mighty nice post-Christmas list.

Has anyone explained yet why XXX translates to "TURKEY"? yep? ok, good.
M&A's dejavuosity meter registered a "have I maybe seen this theme mcguffin in a xword somwheres before?" blip. I've got to think ...

Nice weeject lines at the top and bottom. staff pick: NNE. Also admired symmetric DOW & YOW pair.

Thanx for the alley of fun, Mr. Charlson. Primo wonky notion, havin a single "rebus" square and a bunch X's.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


mathgent 1:41 PM  


old timer 1:46 PM  

I thought this was a delightful puzzle top to bottom. Just perfect for the Thursday after Xmas, when maybe you don't want too much of a challenge. It probably helped that I, like quite a few of you, took Bowling to satisfy my PE requirement in college. Why not? Everyone used to know how to bowl (though not bowl well) thanks to the birthday parties we attended. Even so, it took me a bit to remember that XXX was called a TURKEY. Probably because I never rolled a TURKEY in my life, though I could get the occasional STRIKE.

Someone beat me to it on JIGGER. If you pour yourself one shot of booze and then make the drink worthwhile by putting in a second shot you have REJIGGERED.

Turkey in the Straw is to this day a tune any fiddler will play. And how can you go wrong with a song that has the phrase, "a high tuckahoe" (or tuckahaw)? While it was done in a kind of Negro dialect, so were a great many songs in the early 19th Century. Black people were thought of as the best and most authentic singers and dancers when the dances were more lively than the English and Scottish country dances settlers brought from Britain. The variant that in my mind, and I suspect in the minds of lots of right-thinking folks back then, was really racist was called "Old Zip Coon."

Carola 1:51 PM  

Struggled (far SW, getting the first 2 Xs of the 3-X "turkey," which I didn't know as a bowling term).
DNF (had written the word "spare" in the space and didn't change it to the slash necessary for AC/DC).
Liked the cross of the not-so-often-seen and sort-of-echoing ATBAY and ABEYANT.

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

Anyone else have a problem getting Mr. Happy Pencil when putting in the symbol for a SPARE in Spare me the Details crossed with AC/DC? Mr. Happy Pencil wanted SPARE spelled out, which makes no sense.

Masked and Anonymous 2:04 PM  

Actually, the more M&A thinks about it, that buncha [corrected to "bunch" by otto-correct, in the first M&A msg] X's are one-way rebuses (as far as meaning "strike" or "turkey") ... And the "/" is sorta a semi-rebus, too: only meaning "spare" in one direction. Toss in a nice combo of letter & symbol rebus characters. That's pretty different. Like.

Compare that to the 15 Nov 2006 David Benkof NYTPuz, where the STRIKE/SPARE rebusses flow in both directions. (Probably the other dejavuosity puz M&A was thinkin about?)

Everybody good, on XXX translatin to TURKEY, as a BOWLING jargon dealy? ok? Just double-checkin ...


mathgent 2:08 PM  


mathgent 2:19 PM  


rushscott 2:33 PM  

OK - Can't make this stuff up. I have not seen an ice cream truck in I don't know how long, and today? Right in front of me - an ice cream truck!

Mel 2:47 PM  

Enjoyed this puzzle. Clever use of bowling lingo. Just the right level of difficulty for a Thursday. Well done, Trenton! Mel

Z 2:58 PM  

@Anonymous1:04pm - Your article has a companion follow-up. “As often happens with matters of race, something that is rather vanilla in origin is co-opted and sprinkled with malice along the way.” Yep. The recent kerfuffle over the cadets who claimed they were merely playing the “Circle Game” is another example. I dealt with that game as a school administrator a couple of decades ago and I’m pretty sure my own kids played it. But this juvenile game has been co-opted by white supremicists to such a degree that the cadets’ explanation is widely disbelieved.
Anyway, I did not expect to learn something new about our country’s historical racism today, but there you go.

Charles Emerson Winchester III 3:11 PM  

Technical DNF as the bowling language is utterly unfamiliar to me. I mean, bowling? Really? Given Paul Fussell’s classic class indicator of distance to a bowling alley (the further the better), this must play very tough for the NYT readership. Certainly did for me.

Ed Rorie 3:31 PM  

Beetle’s sister has her own comic strip—“Hi and Lois.”

Blue Stater 3:42 PM  

Kind of majestic in its sheer awfulness.

Chip Hilton 4:07 PM  

I know it’s late but, geez, somebody has to comment on Rex hating the RIVERSEINE combination. To say that it’s just the Seine . . . has he never been to Europe? Sorry, pal, but you hear it a lot, there, and here.

I bowled quite a bit in my youth, and a little beyond that, so the spare and strike symbols, along with the turkey designation, were no problem for me. It seems like a lot of hurt feelings among the commenters because they were ignorant of the jargon. Kind of like I feel when The Simpson’s are rolled out. Toughen up.

Fun puzzle, in my opinion. Happy Boxing Day.

Geezer 4:19 PM  

When you have to dig deep into the interweb to justify outrage you are really trying too hard. But there is a lot of bowlerphobia in today's comments. Jeez! Are New Yorkers snooty enough?

albatross shell 4:24 PM  

Why is REJIGGER lame? I can see why some may think it's racist, and even why some may want it not used because it could seem to be racist. I do not get lame. And I have heard it used often, and never with any racist context.

Most dictionaries define awe with the word respect as in reverential respect, dread and fear. Commanding respect would seem to cover that combination in many such cases. That certainly seems adequate for a cw clue.

SKEG ECOTONE new to me. Liked SPELUNK with BATCAVE. And in the SE the crossing trio of TRAP ATBAY and ABEYANT which also seemed to have overlapping sounds, meanings and clues.

Swagomatic 4:34 PM  

I got the bowling connection once "spare" appeared in the grid. I guess I lack the artistic sensibility to be too bothered by the fill. I'm not much of a bowler, but by wife is, so I knew all of the bowling references. Overall, I thought is was okay - and it was a faster than average Thursday for me (though I'm not what you could call a "fast" solver in any case)

Anonymous 5:00 PM  

The RIVER (name) seems to be a crossword thing. :)

Mike E 5:13 PM  

It should be obvious, by now, that practically nobody reads through all the blog comments. Including me. By the time I got to the 14th inquiry and 23rd answer concerning XXX, I realized that I could cite any number of inquiries and replies about XXX right now and no one will care. So: Fun puzzle, clever use of bowling symbols, some smart cluing and was happy when I finished not out of relief but out of satisfaction. Rex, as usual, is more process-oriented than results-oriented, is three sheets to the wind, croons like a jackanape and nobody will read this anyway so it's time to stop.

Unknown 6:41 PM  

How do you know that the puzzle creator was white? I actually thought 28D was clever. Does that make me a racist? I hope not.

Anonymous 7:07 PM  


haven't seen that word since reading come 19th century English lit. boy, I miss the English.

Anonymous 7:07 PM  

Great idea Z. Let the white supremacists win. I wonder sometimes if you’re Moby. Your idiocy never ceases to amaze.

Anonymous 7:09 PM  

so, I went to the on-line dictionary to confirm that it is from Olde English, which it is, but the word is really 'jackanapes'. if my memory still worked, I'd have recalled that bit too.

Anonymous 7:26 PM  

@anon 7:07- He’s not really a Moby. I think he’s the opposite in fact. A right winger who pretends to be progressive to make real progressives look ridiculous.

Unknown 8:52 PM  

x is strike the right balance not find he right balance not find it-geez- so much pompous screed lately- are you getting cranky?

Z 9:29 PM  

@albatross shell - Yeah. Dictionaries aren’t perfect. Think of phrases like “respect your elders” or “respect the office even if you don’t respect the person.” Both specifically discount the possibility of feeling any AWE. When Aretha sang R.E.S.P.E.C.T. she was not asking for “reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.” The dictionary definitions would all be improved by removing “respect,” i.e. “reverence mixed with fear or wonder.” I’m all about language evolving and how people use the words, so maybe there are people who use respect and awe interchangeably. But they are two distinct and not interchangeable concepts the way I use them. I think it especially struck me today because of the season.

Ben 9:59 AM  

Glad to see that the yuletide cheer hasn't brightened Rex's spirit..

Aalok 10:38 AM  

Do not Google 'XXX in the straw'

Ken Freeland 11:19 AM  

me three!

spacecraft 11:33 AM  

Okay, I know of the "Hi and Lois" strip, but how in the WORLD would anybody arrive at the "fact" that she's Beetle Bailey's sister??? Give me the LOIS of LOIS & Clark, sizzlingly played by DOD Teri Hatcher.

Of further woe was the Natick at 30. I guessed I correctly, but my library days featured the Dewey Decimal System. This ISBN thing is too new-tech for an old fossil like me. As for AMIS--well, he just ain't famous. Is he Kingsley's brother? Inquiring minds...wait a SEC. Nope: his son. Oh well.

This was a knotty Thursday to sniff out. I kept hitting dead ends all over the place. Wanted EXEC for 35d but, holy cow, that'd mean the gridspanner at 40 starts with an X! On I meandered.

When I finally worked out STRAW as the last word of 56a, I knew it had to be Turkey In The. So, rebusiness of some sort must exist. Then it hit me, one of the aha!est moments of the year so far. I know that three strikes in a row = TURKEY; how it got that name I can only surmise: a corruption of TROIKA? Anyway, I now had the "McGuffin," and polished off one of the more difficult Thursdays I've seen. Considerable triumph points awarded.

The grid layout did bother me a little, what with all those border black squares chopping the perimeter into "weejects," including no fewer than six "cheater squares," which OFC in his rant didn't even mention. But aside from the RCD and the tortured abbr. ENGR, there wasn't all that much in the fill to bother me. Theme and execution were fine, even if we skipped the double. We went from spare to strike straight on to turkey. Birdie.

And now I think I'll split.

thefogman 11:34 AM  

It did not bowl me over. Rex is right. This one’s a turkey.

Burma Shave 12:01 PM  


of expensive TURKEY served on ELAL.
YES, the ORTHODOXJEW said it retails


rondo 12:36 PM  

First problem: my average name was jOe before DOW.
Second issue: I put the slash in AC/DC, but everyone knows that Slash is in Guns N Roses, so I hadn’t yet worked out THEDETAILS.
Got to __XINTHESTRAW and aha! BOWLING score notation in PLAY! Much easier after that.

I have a rather large issue with the clue ‘Cornered’ meaning ATBAY. Totally incorrect. ATBAY comes from hunting. When a hunting dog finds the animal’s trail he will start to bark (or BAY) and thusly is ATBAY. If the chased animal is finally cornered or treed it will turn to confront the dogs to keep them away but the dogs will still be barking (be ATBAY). A cornered animal is not ATBAY, the dogs ARE. I used to have a coon hunting dog, so I know a thing or two about it. ATBAY means to keep something away; transfer it to your choice of idiom. WILL’S STAFF BLEW THIS ONE BIG TIME!!!!

LOIS Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny. Yeah baby.

Interesting puz, save for the ATBAY error.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

To expect the Uber sophisticated New Yorky solving public to be familiar with bowling notation is ridiculous.

Diana, LIW 2:21 PM  

I, too, did the Joe/DOW shuffle. But the downs schooled me in that error.

And curling prior to BOWLING. Got that one back out of the gutter.

I used to bowl - even took lessons. Realized soon on that sports was not my bailiwick. My two left feet and all, and then my lack of competitive spirit. (So why do you go to ACPT? you ask. To watch the competitors. And to meet other solvers and constructors. Like you. Try it - you'll like it.)

Any time I get "most" of a Thursday, including the "trick," I say I earned at least a B+. Me happy.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

JimmyBgood 2:48 PM  

I too am old fossilish, and when I saw the 30D clue, I immediately said to myself: I S B N. It became official coding in 1970,and dates back to 1966. So unless you are over 100,it's been on books for over half your lifetime(not that I ever look for said number). Therefore, your gripe strikes me as (g)utter nonsense.

JimmyBgood 3:27 PM  

I've hunted, my older brother is a regular hunter, my best friend is a regular hunter, my sister's boyfriend is an avid hunter and trapper, another close friend is a regular hunter(both gun and bow), and they all say that the animal at bay is the treed or cornered animal, precisely because it is being bayed at by the barking dogs. Are you sure you have hunted? You blew it, not the puzzle.

leftcoaster 3:31 PM  

Big "AHAs" on discovering the /, the X, and the XXX.

Rolled a gutter ball at ABEYANT; stuck with dormANT to the end. SKEG and XEROphyte were new ones, but they came with the crosses.

BOWLING theme was a bit spare, but as fun and clever as they come.

Thanks for the game, T.C.

Diana, LIW 3:41 PM  

Hey, @Lefty, I forgot that my ABEYANT was dormANT for a while. And still I hunted on.

Diana, LIW

leftcoaster 4:08 PM  

Yeah, @Diana, I just wasn't paying attention to the SE corner crosses that would have woke me up.

rondo 4:16 PM  

@JimmyBgood - Re: ATBAY. Not so fast, my friend! I'm sure I've hunted with dogs more than you. Apparently I've also studied about hunting with dogs more than you. So it pays to know what you are talking about. Just because a bunch of hillbillies all use the idiom wrongly doesn't make them right. So you and your friend are the ones who blew it, and probably enjoyed it. BTW, my dog was a pure-bred Walker Coonhound.

From The Word Detective (since you don't believe me):

To "keep or hold AT BAY" is a very common English idiom meaning "to keep something or someone away, in check, or under control." Around here, for instance, we spend every winter trying to keep colds and the flu "at bay," and, come April, we begin the annual chore of holding the IRS "AT BAY."

From the hunting usage comes the transferred sense of "final encounter," and thence, on the notion of putting up an effective defense, AT BAY. As a verb, "to bark or howl (at)," from late 14c. It's that last, "howling dog," sense of "bay" that gave us "at bay." When "bay" first appeared in this sense in English around 1300, it meant the chorus of howling barks of a pack of hunting hounds in hot pursuit of their prey. (This "bay" as "howling bark" also is used in the phrase "baying at the moon".)

In the final stage of such a grim chase, the hunted animal (fox, raccoon, etc.) will often find itself cornered and turn to face the pursuing pack. If the animal is sufficiently determined, it may be able to at least temporarily repel the dogs, rendering them able only to stand and howl, thus keeping them "AT BAY."

Thus endeth the lesson in correct usage. May ye GOETH in peace.

fakt chekker 4:41 PM  

This from may settle ATBAY:

To hold AT BAY or to keep AT BAY means to fend off, to prevent something from affecting you or to prevent something from approaching you, to maintain a distance. The word bay has many definitions, which makes the terms hold AT BAY and keep AT BAY confusing for some. The explanation is that in these phrases, the word bay refers to the sound of dogs barking, or the sound of other canines barking. For instance, when a hound has cornered a prey animal and is barking at it in order to keep it in place, the hound is said to be AT BAY.

Bob Barker 4:50 PM  

The Old French words 'abbay' or 'abai' mean 'barking'. These came into English, first as 'abay' and later as 'at bay'.

Hounds that were barking were said in the 14th century to be 'at a bay'.

This is recorded in the English romantic story Guy of Warwick, circa 1330:
Into a forest þat swine him ȝede. Into a ficke hegges he gan him hede. Þer he stod at a bay.
(A fat boar went into a forest. He hid in a thick hedge. He [the hound] stood there barking.)

leftcoaster 6:28 PM  

Has anyone mentioned yet that three strikes (XXX) in a row is called a turkey? 🤓

rainforest 6:57 PM  

Did the puzzle in the morning and liked it a lot, and then had to go babysit for several hours.

I echo @spacecraft and @rondo that the threes didn't bother me, and like @rondo, I got the theme at X THE RIGHT BALANCE. Thought it was great.

I was going to comment to @rondo that at least we are holding the misuse of "tar" AT BAY, but am now unsure as to whether that would be correct usage. Anyway, it was an educational discussion about the term.

rondo 7:07 PM  

@spacey above mentioned the three strike turkey.

I was kind of looking for the - (dash) for an "open" frame, but only a spare and strikes showed up.

leftcoaster 11:38 PM  

@rondo: My question (just above at 6:28 PM) about the "three-strike turkey" was sarcastic poke at the many who repetitively "explained" that term way up above among the non-syndies.

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