British brew since 1777 / THU 2-27-20 / Ivy seen along Schulylkill River / Fearsome part of Jabberwock

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Constructor: ANDREW (24A) Kingsley and John Lieb

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (?) (untimed, on paper)

OR some combination of the two...

THEME: SCHRÖDINGER'S CAT (6D: Quantum mechanics thought experiment in which contradictory states exist simultaneously) — two-square answers contain three-letter words where the middle letter can be the second letter in the first square or the first letter in the second square. Theme is obliquely explained by two theme answers, both of which are split into two crossing answers (one in the NE, the other in the SW): CROSS / THE BORDER (14D: With 16-Across, travel internationally) and "I NEED / SOME SPACE" (42D: With 55-Across, breakup line)

Two-square answers:
  • 18A: Mantra chants => OMS (with Downs of WHOM BOOS or WHO BOOMS)
  • 39A: Zenight => TOP (with Downs of NEATO DROP or NEAT DROOP)
  • 33A: Opposite of masc. => FEM (with Downs of FEAST MAIL or FAST EMAIL)
  • 53A: A pair => TWO (with Downs of TWEEN OWS or TEEN WOWS)
Word of the Day: BASS Ale (1A: British brew since 1777) —
The Bass Brewery /ˈbæs/ was founded in 1777 by William Bass in Burton-upon-TrentStaffordshire, England. The main brand was Bass Pale Ale, once the highest-selling beer in the UK. By 1877, Bass had become the largest brewery in the world, with an annual output of one million barrels. Its pale ale was exported throughout the British Empire, and the company's distinctive red triangle became the UK's first registered trade mark. (wikipedia)

• • •

This is one of those times where I recognize that the puzzle is good even though I didn't particularly enjoy solving it. I kinda slumped and groaned when I got to SCHRÖDINGER'S CAT because it seems a tired kind of thing for the puzzle to be obsessed with. "Schrödinger"-type puzzles are stock form—these are puzzles where one of two letters can occupy a square—maybe it's one letter in the Down and another in the Across, or maybe it's like the CLINTON / BOBDOLE puzzle of election day 1996, where both answers worked. Anyway, it's a thing. So this felt very "aren't we clever?" / wink-y / insidery / meta from (close to) the start, which I just found grating. I'm fine with the two-letter answers; in fact, the whole concept is indeed very clever, and the addition of this whole other level to the theme—sort of punny references to what's going on with the two-square answers (CROSS / THE BORDER and "I NEED / SOME SPACE")—makes the theme incredibly dense. This extra level is structurally / architecturally impressive, but it didn't do much for my solving experience, since I actually was left wondering what those phrases were doing, and wondering if they weren't doing ... more. More than just commenting cleverly on the two-square action. Realizing they were just there as window dressing made them less fun. This is the second day in a row where I kept waiting for the AHA moment to drop, and it just never did. Kinda cute to "end" with the TWO-square answer TWO, though (53A: A pair).

I think I'm also just bored with the idea of more dudes doing more "architecturally impressive" mathy/sciencey tricky Thursday puzzles when the NYTXW's non-male constructor percentage still languishes at an embarrassing 17% YTD. The all-dude culture up in editing continues to ... well, just continues, I guess. But I was sincerely impressed that the grid didn't collapse under the weight of the theme density here (by which I'm surprised the fill doesn't well and truly suck). This is the kind of theme where just getting the grid out clean is a feat. Non-theme fill isn't earth-shattering or fancy, but it doesn't have to be. It just has to hold. And it does.

I didn't have much trouble with this one. The basic theme concept made itself known early. I had WHOM and BOOS alongside each other, and then when I (quickly) got SCHRÖDINGER'S CAT, I went back and looked and noticed that WHOM/BOOS could also be WHO/BOOMS ... and that was that. It was very very easy to identify where this trick was going to happen again because, well, there are only four two-letter answers. The only real trick was figuring out the descriptive themers in the NE and SW, and that wasn't too hard. One real slow down came when trying to get into the center of the grid from the north and not being able to get the BLOOD part of NEW BLOOD (nice answer, btw), I wanted NEW HIRES (20D: Recent recruits, so to speak).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Aces Papa 6:13 AM  

I think the NYT app developers were too eager to roll out their moving letters. I hadn't even solved the puzzle completely and they suddenly popped up on the screen!?!

TinPT 6:17 AM  

The letters that can bounce between words also spell MEOW. BOOM! Solve was super easy and a near PR, but deciphering the theme and all its layers of meaning after the fact was the real fun.

Lewis 6:17 AM  

@rex -- the angle you didn't mention was that the letters CROSS THE BORDER in the Schroedinger squares spell M-E-O-W.

It's a Schrebus puzzle!

Brilliant, brilliant concept and execution. Lost in the wow factor, as @rex mentioned, may be how junk free the grid is.

This was a hoot to fill out, "hoot" being appropriate for a grid with five double-o's, and the clues for MASONS, UPENN, and ELOPE were icing on the cake.

Thank you, gents, and may your creations continue!

Anonymous 6:37 AM  

I enjoyed the multiple layers of this puzzle. Note - Andrew and Jon run the Boswords tournament in Boston every summer, lots of fun!

Petsounds 6:49 AM  

Not knowing what "Schrodinger's cat-type puzzles" are, I didn't go for pre-solving sighs and eye-rolls--I just jumped in and enjoyed the heck out of the solve, the reveal, the whole ball o' wax. Nice after so many bland, boring puzzles lately.

Only one quibble: I don't think many beach bags these days contain RADIOs. That clue felt left over from 1963. Otherwise, it was the toP/TOp!

QuasiMojo 7:06 AM  

This one was just a shade too "this side of paradox" to WOW me. The MEOW was cute but none of the squeeze plays mean anything the way the Clinton/Dole one did. These are just random words that don't go BOOM when you figure it all out. At least I wasn't blown away. I moued. Perhaps if the flips were all opposites like Going to Extremes (as in the FAST vs FEAST clue) it would have been more compelling.

Hungry Mother 7:09 AM  

Half my average time, but didn’t notice the theme. Just random rebuses in my solve.

Anonymous 7:18 AM  

MEOW.... nice

kitshef 7:21 AM  

Had the entire puzzle filled in bar the flexisquares before I finally clued in. A nice trick made truly superior by the MEOW factor.

There are a couple of things that tend to happen in the NYT puzzle that NETTLE me. One is repeating words too close together (in time) – especially a marquee grid-spanner like SCHRODINGERS CAT. Another is this myth that there is a U PENN.

Yes, the grid holds up pretty well given the constraints, although we do get twenty-one answers ending in ‘s’.

nsitaram 7:27 AM  

Rex just an FYI. There is minor typo in your blog. 39A is zenith not zenight.

Jon Alexander 7:32 AM  

So many layers to the puzzle...I see other commenters have pointed out the MEOW thing too. Just brilliant.

Paul Emil 7:44 AM  

With two possibilities it was almost impossible to get the rebus answers wrong.

Crimson Devil 7:50 AM  

Very enjoyable Thurs puz, n/w/s RADIO which I doubt is found in many beach bags these days.

Suzie Q 7:50 AM  

Very well made puzzle but I agree with @Quasi that if the rebus squares had all been like fast/feast it would have been great.
Like @kitshef I think it was too soon for Schrodinger's cat to
appear again. That did help me in the solve though.
New blood was a fresh answer and the clue for elope was good too.
Mini White House theme?

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

Someone please explain the MEOW thing? I'm not seeing it.

Michael 8:07 AM  

Yeah, no connection between rebus square means this felt like a miss. Even the crossing lines had no usable connection, these sort of "post facto" required explanations leave me more annoyed than amused.

Have never seen or heard the word NERTS used, and it made an unfortunate NATICK since MASONRY seemed like a valid rebus-based entry.

TJS 8:15 AM  

I never went to deep into analyzing the difficulty of pulling this thing off. I just found it to be a bland, super easy Thursday with no areas that required extra thought. Meh.

Z 8:17 AM  

Nobody has POINTed out, yet, that the note is wrong. CROSS THE BORDER even POINTs to the additional solutions. Since each down works without the rebus, the middle letter can be CROSSing THE BORDER, not in either square. Indeed, this is how PuzzAzz displays the “explanations.” This also fits in with the whole “superposition” idea, so I actually went and counted the possible answers with the rebi (rebopodes?) in either square - 16. So a whole other set of solutions exists that they forgot were possible. Having the letters CROSSing THE BORDER be a superpositional MEOW just reinforces for me that these are legitimate solutions to the puzzle. (@anon7:54 - look at the middle letters of OMS FEM TOP TWO)

I think Rex is too harsh today. I feel like a little more distance from having SCHRŒDINGER in the puzzle would have been good, but this is a well made puzzle where the construction doesn’t get in the way of the solve. I do feel like veteran solvers will have it too easy today, but not every puzzle needs to be tailored to those of us who have seen this type of puzzle before.

@jae last night - Oops. I don’t know if that was auto-corrupt or me. Trini Lopez it was (and it didn’t just get fixed so it was me).

albatross shell 8:22 AM  

Hey folks. Are you only getting it by half? Look at the oherside, away from MEOW. The letters on the other side spell MOOT. See definition: subject to uncertainty. Also MEOW indicates the option cat is alive.

three of clubs 8:23 AM  

Because non-male people are not interested in mathy/sciencey things...perhaps some clever puzzle that knits together two squares or a patchwork of clues that comes together to make a quilt?

LeaveItToYourGoat 8:28 AM  

Totally missed the theme and just ended up putting the rebus in at the first box of each answer. Even after the solve I failed to notice the relevance of CROSS / THE BORDER, I NEED / SOME SPACE, and SCHRODINGER'S CAT until I came here.

Great trick clues for adjacent answers LASIK and ELOPE, but the trickiest one for me was "Listed" for LEANED. I couldn't get the other definition of "listed" out of my head, so the nautical (?) meaning was a big aha moment.

The clue for BASS seemed needlessly difficult when there are two other, far more common meanings. The clue for IPAD (Tablet one might take before going to bed?), while clever, will probably be lost on most people nowadays because more people are going to associate "tablet" with a tech device than a pill.

Fun puzzle that I found a lot more impressive in retrospect than I did during my solve.

SouthsideJohnny 8:31 AM  

Cute puzzle. Does anyone here actually say NERTS ? Seems like it’s close to one of those NYT made-up words or phrases. I agree, no one under the age of (probably 50) even owns a radio anymore, let alone drags it to the beach.

Is ALMAY one name or two ? I’m guessing that RIO is Spanish for “river” and Amazona is also Spanish. The Times uses way too many foreign words and phrases (I’ll concede that this one was pretty benign on a stand alone basis, however that small section also contained a fictional parrot, a Lord of the Flies reference and some GOO GOO gobbledygook).

Aeta 8:36 AM  

Bit of a mess for me, but still much faster than the average Thursday. Filled in SCHRODINGERSCAT and TOP and for some reason focused on the “quantum” in the clue rather than the answer, and wanted all the two-word fill to be types of quarks (??? No idea why I thought this would be correct). Saved by the fact that there weren’t many references lost on the younger solver, which is often my biggest problem—just Jean ALLEN, Rod CAREW, and the inexplicable-to-me RADIO. Thought the reveal with the moving squares on the app was really delightful!

Aeta 8:36 AM  

Bit of a mess for me, but still much faster than the average Thursday. Filled in SCHRODINGERSCAT and TOP and for some reason focused on the “quantum” in the clue rather than the answer, and wanted all the two-word fill to be types of quarks (??? No idea why I thought this would be correct). Saved by the fact that there weren’t many references lost on the younger solver, which is often my biggest problem—just Jean ALLEN, Rod CAREW, and the inexplicable-to-me RADIO. Thought the reveal with the moving squares on the app was really delightful!

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

@three of clubs - haha, nice to see someone not take things so seriously. It’s a puzzle, not an agenda. Enjoy them for what they are.

Joaquin 8:43 AM  

In real life, does anyone ever say NERTS? I almost said it when I realized I was (again) going to have to figure out how to spell SCHRODINGERS CAT, but I wound up using my usual word “%*%^#$@”.

Like @rex, I completely missed the very cool MEOW part of the puzzle.

I liked that this went two ways; have some friends in that category, too.

Wanderlust 8:57 AM  

Can’t believe Rex panned this one. Incredibly clever. I got the rebus thing quickly (obviously, because of the two-letter spaces) but didn’t realize the letters could move to the adjacent square until I finished solving and they started jumping. And didn’t get that CROSS THE BORDER and I NEED SOME SPACE were part of the theme until I read Rex’s writeup. And didn’t get the MEOW part until I read the comments. Agree there should be more women constructors but that isn’t a good reason to dis one done by another man. And isn’t it kind of sexist to assume only men would construct a structurally complex puzzle?

Nancy 9:15 AM  

WOW, not OW. And I'm so, so glad the note said "This puzzle has 16 solutions." That's because, once I have an answer that's correct and works, I don't look for another answer possibility. So, without the note, I would have filled in the first answer I thought of, and I would have missed the whole thing.

I remember the CLINTON/BOB DOLE puzzle -- though it was long before I was on any puzzle blogs. I had CAT, not BAT for the Halloween animal, and therefore ended up with CLINTON and never gave any other possibility a thought. I forget how and when I learned about the SCHRODINGER trick, but it couldn't have been on a puzzle blog back then. Did I find out the next day or 20 years later when I read about that famous puzzle on an xword blog? I don't remember.

Anyway this is a brilliant puzzle that I was able to fully enjoy during the actual solve. Getting SCHRODINGER'S CAT into the grid is a coup. Thanks to WS for the note and to AK and JL for a great concept and terrific execution.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

Rex, this puzzle was brilliant. No one can help that you wake up on the wrong side of the bed 9 days in 10.

RooMonster 9:28 AM  

Hey All !
Very cool puz. I had the MS, FE, OP, WO Rebus Squares, and with counting the actual two-letter answers, came up with 12 solutions. Didn't realize that Both Downs into (or from) the two-letter answers were Both rebi-able. Also didn't realize the "Revealers". There goes the ole brain refusing to work again. So, technically, the MEOW letters (which, amazingly enough, I did see) should be written (a)CROSS THE BORDER (on THE BORDER. really) of the two-letter answers. I NEED SOME SPACE seems kinda like an outlier, but I can see how the MEOW is jockeying to find SOME SPACE.

As others have noted, it's quite a clean grid considering all the hullabaloo that's happening. I'm quite impressed at the construction. This was probably a brain twister to pull off. Well done, gents.

I had NERTS as an answer in one of rejected puzs. I tried for CERTS, but the N just couldn't get to a C in that puz.

Writeovers, teenagED-MAROONED (then got to 53D, TEEN, and thought something was fishy), pOpup-HOMER, aWS-OWS WOWS.

Great puz, hopefully Jeff Chen gave it the POW. Even though I LOSE by not grokking 100% what was going on, I still finished with no wrongness, so GOOGOO to me. 😀

One F

cattywompussy 9:30 AM  

My first SCHRODINGER puzzle, but aware of the Physics concept, I had (Unlike our leader) no idea they were a "puzzle thing"

I really like the (pointed out early) M-E-O-W being the simultaneous state letters.

Rex is jaded as hell, not my problem, I enjoyed the puzzle and I haven't done 756,489,361 puzzles in my life as fast as I possibly can.

This was a really good puzzle.

As we say in golf - take two weeks off and then quit altogether.
Rex needs to CROSS BORDERS without a pen/pencil/screen and rest, then maybe throw it in.

GILL I. 9:34 AM  

I did this at 2:00 am. I kept saying to myself that this was the fastest Thursday puzzle I've ever finished. I said to myself that somehow I'd have to deal with another dead CAT (or is it alive?)....My copy said there were 16 solutions and I only had 8. @Rex hadn't posted yet so I scratched my head and went back to bed.
It's now 6:25 as I type this and I've read everyone so far....THIS IS A BRILLIANT PUZZLE. Wow, just wow. NOW I GET IT!!!! And @Z, thanks for explaining the MEOW. When @TinPT 6:17 mentioned the MEOW factor as well, I spent about a hour looking for it. OOOOOh. Now I see it. This is really the CAT's MEOW.
I'll take these types of puzzles every single Thursday.
I liked that ANDREW has his name in this; I wish John had found his way in as well. You guys are da bomb.
by the way, do babies really say GOO GOO?

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

NE killed me with NERTS. Also, RADIO at the beach? More like a bluetooth speaker these days.

Newboy 9:42 AM  

Rex said pretty much all that needed saying. Love SCHRODINGER & his feline, but having it so soon after another use seems a poor editing choice.

Gio 9:49 AM  

@Michael @Southside Johnny of course it's said. Lucy Ricardo held up a big sign that said NERTZ TO MERTZ!

webwinger 9:50 AM  

Seeing SCHRODINGERS CAT as a long down in the puzzle for the second time in a month got initial BOOS from me, but it totally won me over in the end. Very cool visual effect for the alternating TWOs in the NYT app at conclusion of solve. And I didn’t even appreciate the TWO crossing hints—perfectly symmetrical!—and the cute MEOW until I came here. Bravo Andrew and John!

@RP's endless grousing about the inadequacy of "non-male" (shouldn't that be non-cis-hetero male?) involvement in the NYTXW has gone beyond tiresome. I know this may make some here (lookin' at you, @Z) bust a gut, but I'm currently reading Charles Murray's new book Human Diversity, and the case he makes for real genetic behavioral differences between sexes is overwhelmimg, even if fault can be found with some of the data and analysis. And male preponderance in no way detracts from the contributions of the many female constructors whose work appears here on a regular basis.

Newboy 9:54 AM  

After reading @Lewis above I find myself humbled by having missed the MEOW entirely! It’s a rare day when REX & LEWIS are equally spot on—appropriate for today’s grid

Gio 10:00 AM  

I filled the SE and saw it wasn't connected to the rest of the puzzle and that's all I had for a bit. To pull this off there were 7 separate puzzle sections. I'm a beginner solver but I did this faster than Thurday average due to remembering Schroedingers Cat from 2 weeks ago. I didn't realize they would repeat a long answer like that so close so I kept re-reading the clue, thinking "it can't be..." It was the same clue to but instead of Physics experiment it was a Quantum mechanics thought experiment.
I didn't see the note and got animation post solve, which improved the puzzle by 1000%. It seemed like random 4 Rebus answers, not related to each other.
My completed puzzle is flashing EMWO EMWO!

Brian 10:04 AM  

Glad I didn’t see the note before hand. Just did the OM and a rebus in the first of the other 3 pairs thereafter. Upon completion the grid (iPhone app) turned into a moving GIF showing the supposed contradictory states. Very cool!

pmdm 10:06 AM  

Perhaps if Mr. Sharp reads the comments he did have an AHA moment: the letters that are entered twice spell out MEOW which is the sound Schrodinger's cat makes (if it is alive).

With the help of the note, the theme was very easy for me to grasp, and the two space entries were the first I filled. In my eyes, a really wonderful puzzle. Seems to me omplaining about the sex of constructors is a ridiculous way to manufacture a complaint, whether the complaint is valid or not.

albatross shell 10:18 AM  

No babies don't. Adults say it to babies.

Northwest Runner 10:19 AM  

My challenge now is to get the app to accept my rebus squares. Usually a single letter is enough, but not today. And for the Quakers out there, does anybody from the university call it UPenn?

MeowFactor 10:26 AM  

It seems unlikely that a cat, even a hypothetical one, locked in a box with a flask of poison, a Geiger counter and radioactive material is going to MEOW if it is still alive. It is going to GROWL or HISS or SPIT at being cooped up against its will.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

Rex, do you really think puzzles that are complicated and “math-science” are somehow masculine and will drive off female puzzlers? Jeez.

What? 10:34 AM  

All filled in. Got the MEOW from the 2’mers but 16 solutions? Still working on that.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

GILL I and pmdm,

The cat is alive. And dead. (not alive or dead) It exists in two states. Simultaneously. That's the entire point of Schrodinger's paradox.

Kingsley and Lieb,

Nice job. Too bad Shortz decided to run it so close to another puzzle which featured everyone's favorite Austrian physicist.

Z 10:42 AM  

@webwinger - Charles Murray has always been little more than a scam artist playing the outrage game. I’m sorry you wasted your money on his book. His game is to cherry pick data, sometimes misinterpret data, sprinkle in enough truth to be able to cite it, present everything as widely held consensus that researchers are afraid to share, then claim he’s being victimized for not being politically correct. Yawn. He’s a huckster and you’re being duped.

Masked and Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Color m&e one impressed cat. Very different, very superb ThursPuz. thUmbsUp.

fave cross-fillins: CROSS+THEBORDER. INEED+SOMESPACE. Nicely theme-related, in a raised-by-wolves way.
fave regular fillins included: NEWBLOOD. ANDREW (constructioneer "yo" word). LASIK. GOOGOO. MAROONED.
staff weeject picks: All four of the 3-letter M-E-O-W crew, each fitted into two puzsquares. Runty!

Thanx for the cool idea and execution, AK & JL. Great job. Fun solve, even tho I didn't always know what was happenin, at the time.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


David 10:52 AM  

The first across I put in was LSAT and, of course, looked at the long down, the clue, and dropped his cat in there thinking, "didn't we just have this cat a few weeks ago?". I think this was my fastest Thursday finish ever.

Slight bump at "radio" because Frankie and Annette are long gone, another bump at 42D because I wanted "it's me". Some really nifty cluing too.

Curious, did people who solved on paper see the "meow" or was it just in the app, where those letters flashed back and forth in blue upon finish?

CaryinBoulder 11:11 AM  

I enjoyed it and finished in half my normal Thursday time, although I totally missed the MEOWness of it. I’m curious to know where people saw the “16 solutions” note. It wasn’t in the NYT Crossword app

teevoz 11:12 AM  

Thanks for saying that in a more clever way than I was going to.

What? 11:15 AM  

Ok, got the 16. Pretty clever, and dense. Lots to think about which always makes a nice puzzle.

teevoz 11:16 AM  

IIRC the Times had an article about the Clinton/Dole puzzle afterwards so that's maybe how you found out.

albatross shell 11:17 AM  

Since none have commented on my MOOT observation I will assume my explanation was inadequate or everybody thinks it full of shit orunimportant. Therefore a more detailed explanation is needed to confirm I'm full of it. I will assume you have the grid that shifts letters back and forth.

Look at the shifting letters in squares 34 and 54. When there are 2 letters in those squares 34 reads EM and 54 reads WO. Read backwards together you get MEOW. So it's natural to see what is happening on the other side at squares 18 and 39. Reading the same way you get MOOT, which is defined as subject to uuncertainty. For those unfamiliar with physics, the cat was a thought experiment to illustrate Schrodinger's Principle of Uncertainty.

Too complex, more work than I want on a theme? Maybe. Just a coincidence? I do not think so.

Frantic Sloth 11:21 AM  

I don’t know if I’m more impressed with the overly clever/complex construction (alliteration anyone??) of this puzzle or my galactically stupid inability to grasp the theme - let alone the MEOW factor! Genius!

Thank goodness for Rex and the blog comments or this puzzle would have been pawing at me all day like a dead/undead cat.

And by the way, hand up for too soon for Schrodinger again. Maybe they needed two for equal representation of each cat status??

I usually can’t remember past crosswords, but the Clinton/Dole fun is indelibly etched in my alleged mind. Good times!

Apropos of nothing, does anyone else scream at CAPTCHA nonsense??

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

Webwinger made a claim (or repeated one). Your answer was an ad hominem attack on the source of that claim. the real yawn is in your direction.

What? 11:25 AM  

Re Shrodinger’s Cat. He proposed this thought experiment to point out the absurdity of trying to extrapolate the principles of quantum mechanics from the very small (atoms and parts of atoms) to the large, well, cats. Shrodinger described the idea of a cat both dead and alive as ridiculous.

Otto 11:25 AM  

The MOOT thing seems coincidental.

You already have the SCHRODINGERSCAT, the CROSS THE BORDER and NEED SOME SPACE, along with the shifting letters MEOW. That's three big themers to work around in a construction, adding in more complexity for the backwards MOOT doesn't seem like it worth be worth the effort to build around. Especially when the other side of the equation doesn't form anything in the same way.

Gio 11:27 AM  

@Cary I use the NYT app and I can see the note by clicking the "I" for Info in the top menu. I don't click on that until post-solve because there is very rarely a note. Apparently, some people get a flashing "I" when there is a note. I don't.

teevoz 11:31 AM  

Ok but what meaning is there in their having to be read backwards?

Carola 11:31 AM  

What an ingenious construct! - which I appreciated only after the fact. For most of the solve I was proceeding in the dark: having started with my first for-sure answer - ALLEN - I worked from the rebus-less SW up through the center to the NE, leaving the 2-square sections as a mop-up task. So, bottom line = admiration + regret (that the recent SCHRODINGER appearance stole some of this one's thunder; that I didn't see how the rebus boxes worked while solving; and that I didn't notice the wonderful MEOW - thanks to those who pointed it out!).

teevoz 11:32 AM  

I in a circle on the iPhone app when something's there.

Frantic Sloth 11:34 AM  

@albatross shell
Well, look at that! Thanks for the MOOT angle - very interesting.

Based on my ability for spotting the puzzle theme/MEOW elements, I would calculate the likelihood of my ever getting that hidden gem as equal odds for winning the Mega-Millions jackpot. Twice.

And here we go for yet ANOTHER CAPTCHA dance. Sheesh.

JC66 11:35 AM  

@Frantic Sloth

Since you're "blue" you should be able to skip checking the "I'm not a robot box" and just click the "Publish Your Comment" box to post your comments.

Nancy 11:40 AM  

@Frantic Sloth (12:21) -- With a "blue name", you shouldn't have to deal with Captcha ever again. Scroll right past it and click on "Publish my comment". I predict it will happen for you. When you click on "Publish my comment" the rectangle it appears in darkens to gray-ish, and when it does, your comment is accepted. A sentence atop your screen will confirm that. Good luck.

Nancy 11:41 AM  

Correction, @Frantic Sloth. It's the letters of "Publish My Comment" that darken.

Nancy 11:43 AM  

Finally -- I just duplicated JC66's comment -- but it wasn't up yet when I was typing mine.

Frantic Sloth 11:43 AM  

I’m going to try that right now - thank you in advance if/when it works! [Should it not, there will be more to this comment. ;-)]

Schuly 11:47 AM  

I recommend The Diversity Delusion by Heather MacDonald as well on this topic.

Brian 11:47 AM  

For each of the first 2 possibles you can have 2 in the second giving 4. For each of the 4 you can have 2 in the third giving 8 then ...wait for it... 16

Sir Hillary 11:54 AM  

Lots of WOWS from me. Really fun application of the Schrodinger thing, two on-POINT revealers that cross themselves and are symmetrical, the CAT's MEOW (which I didn't even notice until coming here) and maybe even @albatross shell's MOOT POINT (my guess: coincidence, but what do I know?). All that and very little junk.

And a great clue for ELOPE.

Frantic Sloth 11:58 AM  

Thank you @Nancy for all your efforts! Much appreciated - duplicate or not. :)

Ron 12:02 PM  

Likewise.. and worse, the moving keys covered a mistake! I had BOOM in 2D, and because the animation had started I couldn't tell that it was wrong.

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

I've read this blog for a few years straight, and this was the starkest contrast between my enjoyment (a 10/10) and Rex's dislike yet. The puzzle was enjoyable before I even realized that the rebus answers could move back and forth, and then when I discovered good! But Rex doesn't like it because it was made by a man creating a structurally impressive puzzle. It's just a pretty deranged obsession with gender. Especially considering that Will Shortz has said that fewer than 17% of constructors are women—which means that if the editors were gender-blind, there would probably be FEWER women constructors. So what Rex wants is an affirmative action program for women constructors, which is pretty patronizing to women and really not something crossword puzzle editors should have to be worrying about.

jae 12:15 PM  

Easy. Pretty impressive, liked it.

@Southside - Frank Burns would say NERTS every now and then on the TV show M*A*S*H.

Robt 12:19 PM  

Regarding the comments about how there was another Schrodinger's Cat answer recently, I wonder if that may have actually been intentional by Will Shortz. The puzzle today could be a little lost on people who are not familiar with Schrodinger's Cat, so using that answer recently may have been a way to prep those solvers for today's puzzle where it is essential to understanding it.

Lilibeth 12:23 PM  

@Webwinger. Looking forward to reading Charles Murray’s new book. I heard him on a podcast last week he was very interesting. Z’s dismissal of him should count as a ringing endorsement for reasonable people.

RooMonster 12:37 PM  

@David 10:52
I wrote the three letter answer for the two square spots to the left of the clue list, and that was how I saw all the middle letters, in order, mind you, spelled out MEOW.

@Cary 11:11
I have the $39/year NYT Puz Subscription, in which I go online to to either print out puz, or just do it online on off days of work, and it always has the note right there on top of the clue list.
"Oh, good for you!" I can hear you saying!

RooMonster Answers Questions That Were Never Asked Guy

Gio 12:56 PM  

The left side read backwards says POT SMO short for "pot smoke." The constructors must want to see it legal in all 50 States.

albatross shell 12:59 PM  

If you mean by other side, the right side of the puzzle, then it is what forms a MEOW. If by other side you mean the 2 pairs of letters at the end of 1 and 26 down then no. Although POSM, maybe the cat is playing POS'M. But on the other side WTEF. What The EF, I dunno. Does it have to?
The word POINT in the puzzle suggests that MOOT was intended. Coincidences add up. The best argument against that is that you get MEOW another way that uses both sides.

I suppose the alive-dead states of the cat is not normal reality, and is best represented as existing in a looking glass world until it is observed. Har.

Chip Hilton 1:04 PM  

Tuesday easy, in my (very low level) estimation. Very clever construction, although I, too, didn’t like seeing SCH...CAT so soon after a recent appearance. Rod CAREW - few HOMERs, but a .300 hitter in his sleep.

bertoray 1:04 PM  

Really enjoyed this bad boy, recent duplication notwithstanding. It was the cat's meow.
Rex has become more curmudgeonly over the years, yet I absolutely love his blog and the forum it affords.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

First I waited for the blog post to show up (I did this puzzle yesterday night) -- nothing there. Then I waited for comments to appear -- nothing there so far either. So it looks like I'm the only idiot to have a big issue with the RVER. Yes, I know, it's been in use and in dictionaries for a while now. But it's _ugly_. And let me ask you, would you say limoer? Or write SUVer? Ugly, repulsive and should never be used. *end_of_rant*

pabloinnh 1:15 PM  

Filled this in fast, noticed a couple of squares that needed two letters, the end. That's how much I missed. Ex post facto fun is better than no fun at all, so thanks everybody.

OTOH, NERTS went right in, and I take a radio to the beach. Maybe that explains something.

Ethan Taliesin 1:18 PM  

That was a pretty good one. I feel bad that I solved it without noticing the rebus squares.

Northwest Runner 1:27 PM  

Figured the rebusing out. In this case you apparently have to fill in all the rebus letters to get the app to accept the grid. I would imagine any config would be accepted, but I went with two letters in each of the first across responses.

Z 1:30 PM  

@Anon11:21 - Nope - All I said was "don't feed the trolls." Murray always manages one or two good arguments, but sorting out truth from bull isn't worth the time to read his book. I might as well read the Flat Earth Society president's book on astronomy. Or maybe I'll do the sensible thing and ignore authors known for this pattern of behavior.

@albatross shell - You're not seeing MEOW the same way everyone else, which I'm thinking is confusing to people (it was to me). You are saying TWOFEM has MEOW in it and TOPOMS has MOOT. Where everyone else is seeing MEOW is in the middle Letters so

I think you are probably being too clever by half (that is, I don't think this was by design), but it is still a neat find.

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

Great puzzle, but the technical wasn't fully worked out on line. I tried putting the missing letters in one, then in the other, then in both, then trying combos which might have helped (two V's for W? Paren's for O? I give up...). The "16 answers" kept me going, trying to find the right combo even as the timer ticked. My experienced differed from some others, which suggested it was just glitchy. In the end, I didn't get credit and found some keystrokes which finally worked after checking the puzzle, but it was a disappointing end to one of the best puzzle experiences - really well written. Better directions would've helped, I think.

Z 1:38 PM  

@Anon1:12 - You aren't alone, but I think lots of us are just resigned to RVER now. It is a real term (here's an example) but it is not liked by anyone who does crosswords.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

You may not have noticed but Rex pans every puzzle

Jess Wundrin' 1:41 PM  

Jess Wundrin how many of those who (independently????) noticed the MEOW (independently????) discovered it by going to Jeff Chen's site last night and reading the constructor's comments.

Joe Dipinto 1:47 PM  

"Filled this in fast, noticed a couple of squares that needed two letters, the end. That's how much I missed. Ex post facto fun is better than no fun at all, so thanks everybody." ← @pabloinnh

Ditto. SCHRODINGER again in less than two weeks = recipe for boring.

Anon 2:01 PM  

At the risk of feeding Webwinger's AND Murray's trolling (as noted by "Z") - but to give a head's up to those vetting this blog to avoid politicization, support RP, and call out blatant sexism:

Your actively dissing support for female constructors (let alone female solvers like myself) is highly ironic as a criticism of over-politicized blogging; and poor support for any value to Murray's dangerous claims that males (let alone "Whites") are genetically more "intelligent."

On the other hand, Z's terse dispatch of Murray was the most succinct and accurate I've seen. Borrowing. Bravo.

Anonymous 2:03 PM  


Lewis 2:07 PM  

@robt -- You echoed my thoughts precisely. I don't think it was an accident.

Kathy 2:12 PM  

Similar reaction as @petsounds. Never heard of SCHRODINGERS CAT but enjoyed the solve in blissful ignorance—and radios (transistor!) in beach bags are so 1963. Wasn’t it fun when everyone on the beach was tuned in to the same station? Most cities had only one or two stations that played rock and roll so radio listening was largely a shared experience in the Sixties.

I liked the fact that this puzzle was solvable whether or not one was familiar with the thought experiment. (I will google it later; will it make my head explode?) There were sufficient gettable crosses. And many delightful aha’s from misdirection, LASIK, ELOPE and more.

When I finished, the fancy app with the jumping letters explained what was actually happening. All I had figured out during the solve was that it involved crossing a border and likely pertained to the two letter words, so I just imagined a borrowed letter to make it a three letter word. It turned out to be much more clever and multi-layered than that.

So an A from me—it was fun and this relatively new solver actually finished a Friday without help!

Like @three of clubs and a host of others, I was insulted by Rex’s superfluous and illogical comment that seemed to imply that female constructors can’t do “mathy sciency” things. Please get off this tiresome female constructor obsession at every turn.

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

No sir. Yours was an ad hominem. As anon 2:06 notes it was a take down of Murray. And it surely was. Well done. But it didn't address Murray's claims or his arguments. And it is precisely because it was a take down of Murray (the man) as opposed to the man's argument that it is was ad hominem. As you know that phrase simply means to the man.
I understand full well that you believe Mr. Murray is, at best mistaken and possibly malign. And he may well be. But even if we credit your claim that he abuses statistics, plays fast and loose with research and data and the like, that is not an argument against his claims per se, but against him.
the only antidote to false data is correct data. No matter how loathsome the speaker it is his argument that must be defeated. Not the man. You didn't refute webwinger's claim; you merely dismissed it owing to its source. Again, that is the very definition of an ad hominem attack.

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

Loved the puzzle and not just because i came in under 10 minutes which is rare for me on a Thursday. As for Charles Murray, he is a serious scholar. Anyone who calls him a troll is a troll.

Unknown 2:43 PM  

Did anyone else have a problem with their solution not being included in their Current Streaks even though the NYT Android app accepting it as a correct solution?

Gio 2:44 PM  

@z thanks for that explanation
All this time I thought the Meow was the right 2 backwards (fEM tWO), which I didn't see why was so great. I looked at the puzzle again, after reading your post, and the MEOW lettes are in the middle of all 4 Rebus squares, are also blue in the animation! The other letters are black. Well dammit. Based on this fact, there certainly is no MOOT!

Peach 2:47 PM  

@Rex, are you saying you'd have less "architecturally impressive" mathy/sciencey tricky Thursday puzzles if you had more women" Seriously? You actually put that in writing?

This is exactly why I don't appreciate this blogger using this bulling pulp pit to advocate for women.

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

The M-E-O-W comes from the letters in the four shifting squares (18, 34, 39, and 54) rather than from 39 & 54 alone. Thus your comments about a second hidden word are ... moot.

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

The letters that sit "on the border" are m, e, o, and w.

RooMonster 3:21 PM  

@Jess Wundrin'
I found it independently! YAY ME!
As I wrote earlier, I wrote the three-letter answer next to the two-letter clue, and saw all the rebussed/missing letters spelled MEOW, in order.


What? 3:23 PM  

Can’t we just agree that Charles Murray is wrong without ascribing motives? Who knows what lurks in the minds of men? We do know his postulate that Blacks are intellectually inferior to Whites has been debunked by a preponderance of the evidence. Does he really believe IQ tests measure intelligence? This is enough to relegate him to the dustbin of discredited racists (intentional or not) who use cherry picked data and the like to warm the heart of intentional racists.

Actually Read It 3:41 PM  

Re: Charles Murray : the book launch for HUMAN DIVERSITY at the American Enterprise Institute is available on Youtube. CM provides a 12-minute summary of the book which is very helpful. He itemizes the major postulates of the book. The "10 Propositions" can also be accessed via the "Look Inside!" feature of the page. They set out the principal points which he wishes to make in the book.

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

@What: You clearly have never read him so why comment,. He never said what you said he said.

Anonymous 3:52 PM  

I urge the moderators to stop using posts which cite Murray. There is clearly a campaign of misinformation afoot (to my mind, that Murray's book should be paid any mind), and they've gone afield of the blogs subject.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  


I urge you let the free expressions of ideas proceed apace. I see no need to stifle speech. Besides, no one, nor any post has championed any idea of Murray's. Many posters have disparaged Murray, and taken issue with The Bell Curve. Any longtime reader hereabouts could've predicted that.
But isn't it the concept of moderators quashing speech infinitely more pernicious than anything anyone could say in favor of Murray?
That's flat out thought-police stuff. Nazism. Give me a robust discussion. let the words fly. Stake out a side and have at it. But squelch speech? Preemptively? No thanks.

GILL I. 4:37 PM  

Why does it feel as if this blog has been highjacked? The last few days we have 5, 6, 7 or more posts from some bloggers that veer off into la la land. Who the hell cares, or why was someone like Charles Murray, even entered into this Thursday puzzle? No one has said a thing about free speech; nothing "pernicious" from our moderators but dang....take this elsewhere. I came here to figure out the MEOW.
Thank you in advance.

JC66 4:54 PM  


Blame OFL. It's his blog and he can say what he likes, but he does invite/incite others to rant.

See @webwinger's 9:50 post (2nd paragraph).

Unknown 5:13 PM  

Re Rex and his constant harping on the lack of female constructors. Either Rex has serious issues, or he's just constantly trolling us. Ignore him. Btw, this puzzle was brilliant.

Anonymous 5:25 PM  

@JC66 - trying to use Gill I's astute post to make your point won't work. I note you say nothing about crossword puzzles at all. Here's something this puzzle: Niether it, nor anything OFL/RP has said has anything whatsoever to do with Charles Murray, despite the attempts of many people on this blog to convince the readership otherwise, and claiming violations of "free speech" when people express any disagreement with Murray. Luckily, your are not as good at Murray himself at hiding his sham trolling, thereby exposing it. Congrats.

teevoz 5:33 PM  

Not "kind of" sexist. Just sexist.

Gay Millenial 5:43 PM  

Liked the puzzle. Not sure who this Charles Murray person is but I’ll check him out. Thanks guys !

teevoz 5:44 PM  

Ha- that's some hard work to get there

nashola 6:30 PM  

I'm done w Rex, the self proclaimed king of xwords. Is there a xwp that you like? Seems all of your reviews are easy to medium difficulty, and oh so ho him. You remind me of what we used to call a scooter, which referred to an AZ nimal that whined even while having sex.

Teresa 6:54 PM  

Did nobody but me notice the cat's claw?

Joaquin 7:31 PM  

This seems like a good time to ask: Can I tell you about Jesus?

ccredux 7:49 PM  

Brilliantly constructed.

Natasha 8:20 PM  

This puzzle was incredibly clever. I like the snark of this blog, but when there’s so rarely any positivity, even for something as well-done as today’s crossword, why bother?

BarbieBarbie 8:21 PM  

Good Lord, why is everyone talking about Charles Murray? Wasn’t he that really racist Bell Curve nonsense-spewer back in the 70s? He’s not dead yet? What’s he doing, giving TED talks on profiling? Exploring cold fusion? Nominating Jared Diamond for a Nobel?

On the puzzle: no normal NYT puzzle allows 2-letter words, so the four 2-letter spots were yelling “it’s Thursday!” pretty loud. It was easy to figure out that they were allowed because they were actually 3 letters long. But the intermediate Aha was a bit later- “wait a minute, this could work either way- and so could that one- hey, check out that revealer!” Followed by “OMG it’s MEOW!” So, even though it was an easy puzzle, the hidden gems were not gimmes at all (for me, anyway), and the whole experience was so so enjoyable. More please, and don’t listen to Rex.

Randy (Boulder) 8:26 PM  

Really impressive. Fun solve.

Puzzles like this are why I love crossword puzzles!

MattL 8:33 PM  

I guess I am the only one but I thought it was one of those "drop the middle letter and it will spell something at the end". I didn't even do the rebus thing as they were all three letter words. Solved it on paper and when it spelled "meow" figured it matched with Schrodinger's Cat. Didn't even realize it was a rebus until coming here. Too funny.

Unknown 10:02 PM  

OK - so here's an issue for me (and yes, it may just be for me)

Mr. Schrödinger - an Austrian like myself - sports an "ö" i.e. "O-Umlaut" in his name - like myself. The correct transliteration for the "ö" is NOT "o" but "oe". SCHROEDINGERSCAT is correct. SCHRODINGERSCAT is not.

I've had too many issues at airports (between the spelled name in the passport and the name on the ticket) not to care about the issue. My Austrian passport has a special note saying (in english and french) that "ö" "is equal to / correspond à" "oe".

Gio 11:07 PM  

You are right it should have been oe. The last puzzle with Schroedingers Cat was spelled OE. That puzzle was just 2 weeks ago. They take liberties with transliteration in these puzzles. They don't seem to worry about it too much.

Jill 12:32 AM  

Agreed, but Bluetooth speaker didn't fit :/

Pele 8:29 AM  

Rex's need to slag this clever, fun, and well-constructed puzzle because the constructors aren't "non-male" is such an amusing self-parody of modern leftism that I almost can't believe it's not intentional.

gilly 12:28 PM  

Just brilliant. My favorite puzzle in a long time, and a rebus I'll happily share with those unaccustomed to Thursday's tricks. Kudos to the constructors for a terrific execution, and for the numerous Easter eggs.

I liked last Thursday's too, so a hat-tip to the NYT editorial team, too, who are on a roll on this front. Well done, all around.

Alina 5:33 PM  

I know this point has been made a few times in the comments already, but it bears repeating.

"Math and science-y" crosswords are my favorite type and it's ridiculous to imply that they're un-feminine, or may push away female solvers. Also, Schrodinger's Cat is far from obscure, and I don't see how this puzzle having multiple solutions makes it any less approachable — I imagine most solvers will just pick one solution and run with it.

Hugh 8:10 PM  

Completed the whole puzzle but did not get the theme until I came here and WOW! Brilliant idea and construction, so many layers, very impressive. Really liked some of the cluing - 46D - Got Off But Not Without A Hitch (ELOPE) and 51A - Sleeper Hits, Perhaps (Bsides).

Now... I can't be the only one among us who only knows Schrodinger's Cat from The Big Bang Theory....someone else please fess up....

Burma Shave 11:31 AM  


SARI MA’AM, but I RUN THE joint,
but that’s BSIDES THE POINT.


Anonymous 12:38 PM  

If Schroedinger's cat can be in two different states at the same time, why not 2 different puzzles?

spacecraft 1:16 PM  

I got almost all the levels of this trick; the two crossing phrases didn't click as a theme feature for me until reading about it here. Yeah, I can see it now, they relate--albeit tangentially. The floating letter does indeed CROSS THEBORDER yet doesn't actually have its own SPACE.

The fill does suffer somewhat: we have the RU (random university, U followed by some state) and the RRS (random record SIDE--A or B), always a bringer of frowns to this furrowed brow. And right in the middle, the nonsense GOOGOO. At least that one has rarity going for it.

The grid contains severely isolated pockets in the east and west, also MW and SE. By contrast the SW/NE corridor is wide open. Very choppy-looking and less than pleasing aesthetically. Still, I understand it has to be that way to accommodate the TWOs. An oldie but goodie wins DOD: MAE West. Par, for theme cleverness.

Joshua K. 2:03 PM  

Although the University of Pennsylvania's web site is at, they don't seem to call themselves "UPenn." They call the university just "Penn."

rondo 3:07 PM  

I picked up on the trick at the WHO/WHOM BOOM/BOOS area, so almost right away, and then the themers that CROSS. Did not even consider the MEOW meta thing. Impressive.

Rod CAREW was a longtime MN Twin before CA Angel. Not that many HOMERs, but really high average.

Joan ALLEN. Yeah baby.

Not surprised of nobody ERECTS a SHRINE to this puz, but it was WORTH 15 minutes or so.

leftcoaster 3:25 PM  

There is a FEAST of theming and revealing here that is clever, but which also clutters up the puzzle -- just a few two many moving parts, I think.

Shared use of the middle letters for OMS, FEM, TOP, and TWO, make for "16 solutions".

CROSS THE BORDER is a revealer of sorts, and I NEED SOME SPACE is another.

Most surprising is a reappearance (seen last week) of SCHRODINGER'S CAT and its M-E-O-W, which are the four shared letters constituting the principal themers. I guess that should qualify as a revealer, too.

Gathering it all together, there are three would-be revealers added to the "16 solutions" or themers, making for a gimmicky 19 features of this puzzle.

Got that?

leftcoaster 3:32 PM  

Oh, I didn't get the MEOW part until later.

rainforest 4:13 PM  

I dunno if social-distancing has brought this on, but I haven't felt moved to comment lately. I've liked all the puzzles, today's especially, but am in a state of ennui.

However, rising out of my torpor, just before I attempt a trip to the grocery store (shudder), let me say that, despite the presence of SCHRODINGER'S CAT twice in a week - wait! Is it here or was it there? - this was a cute puzzle that indeed had 16 solutions. It fell together nicely with the two revealers a bonus, and the MEOW appearing in the two-square spots icing on the cake.

Good fill, nice cluing, great construction. Very enjoyable.

Joe in Syndicationland 7:31 PM  

it's too bad that what I see now to be a very clever puzzle actually gave no indication in it that there was something more to do, after I had filled it in.

Anonymous 12:46 AM  

Pretty easy for a Thursday. Got hung up on 31A. I had *RIA*S and threw in TRIALS. Also, I was proud that I'd finally figured out how to enter rebuses on the syndicated site I play on and then it didn't accept them so that sucked.
Overall, no real complaints and I did enjoy some of the cluing but I didn't even notice the theme. Briefly attempted to figure out what MS EM OP WO meant and then gave up. Got Schrodinger's Cat early and between that and it being a crossword answer a few days ago (possibly different puzzle) I didn't even realize it was the theme answer.
Even just making 6D a starred clue or throwing in one of those (as seen in four places in this puzzle) would have tied the whole thing together much better.

J Howard 12:10 AM  

But that's where I was thrown. I knew NERTz, which is how I've always seen it. With the z in place it took me forever to suss out Layers of stone. Quartz was not working at all

J Howard 12:51 AM  

Diacritical marks are frequently ignored in xword solutions. How often do you see ñ crossing n? The French summer never crosses with other é words, just regular old e's.

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