Daily run for short / WED 2-5-20 / Something seismograph detects / Impulse transmitter / Infotainment show with exclamation point in its name

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Constructor: Ross Trudeau

Relative difficulty: Mediumish (untimed, clipboard solve)

THEME: USED FURNITURE (52A: Some garage sale goods ... or what the answers at 15-, 19-, 33-, 41- and 62-Across have done) — circled squares inside each theme answers contain (or "use," I guess) pieces of furniture:

Theme answers:
  • CATCH AIR (15A: Get some major hang time, in snowboarding lingo)
  • ONE NIGHT STAND (19A: Brief hookup)
  • WORKS OF ART (33A: "The Scream" and "The Kiss," for two)
  • DO-BE-DO-BE-DO (41A: Nonsense line sung by Frank Sinatra in "Strangers in the Night")
  • SLAM POET (62A: Verses-vs.-verses competitor)
Word of the Day: P-WAVE (24D: Something a seismograph detects) —
P-wave is one of the two main types of elastic body waves, called seismic waves in seismology. P-waves travel faster than other seismic waves and hence are the first signal from an earthquake to arrive at any affected location or at a seismograph. P-waves may be transmitted through gases, liquids, or solids. // The name P-wave can stand for either pressure wave (as it is formed from alternating compressions and rarefactions) or primary wave (as it has high velocity and is therefore the first wave to be recorded by a seismograph). (wikipedia)
• • •

one angry sagehen
I do not understand the decision even to have AL COWLINGS in your wordlist, let alone put him in a puzzle. Here's something I never want to see in my crosswords: a white Bronco clue. I don't want to be reminded of the brutal murders, or, rather, I don't want to have the clue just drive by those murders as if they didn't happen, as if "white Bronco" were just some random part of our historical memories and didn't evoke a whole scene of extreme violence and domestic abuse. I mean, dear lord, even if you (somehow) actually believe "OJ is innocent!" ... the physical and mental abuse of his wife was real enough. And you want to put his pal's full name in my grid? Pass. Hard pass. Like, f*** allllll of this. Once you've dropped the white Bronco in my puzzle, I'm not gonna enjoy another second. All I am thinking now is "What the hell were *you* thinking?" Too sensitive? Too bad. You're not gonna casually evoke extreme violence (esp. toward women) and not hear about it. I don't care if I am the only one standing here shouting that friends of extreme domestic abusers can all stay the **** out of my puzzles, thank you very much. Just me? Fine. Just me. Now you know. "Famously" drove a white Bronco?! That is some kind of whitewashing. That corner was already kinda ugly, with the stupid weekday letter-string MTWTF (9D: Daily run, for short?), but that white Bronco clue is its own special brand of ugly.

Didn't care for the theme. NIGHTSTAND is hilariously not hiding in its answer. I mean, technically none of the furniture is hiding, because the circled squares flag their positions, but at least all the other furniture is pretty discreetly buried inside their respective theme answers. But with poor NIGHTSTAND ... All those circled squares ... it's like watching a bear trying to hide behind a tricycle. "DO-BE-DO-BE-DO" was spelled weird, to my ear (eye?). But mainly I just didn't care. Here's some furniture. Shrug. Fill-wise, things were a little rough. ALL RED feels ... odd. Off. Antiquated? Not sure. I get it, you're blushing, you're ALL RED. But I've never heard someone actually say it (66A: Totally embarrassed). P-WAVE is the kind of thing you put in your grid because you really want to debut an answer, but you've mistaken firstness for goodness. P-WAVE isn't good for a host of reasons, not least of which is that, once you get it, if you've never heard of it (and that's gonna be a lot of you–it was definitely me), you have no idea what the "P" even means. Like, it's a useless fact that's not graspable in any way without looking it up. Not everything new is good. P-WAVE seems fine if you're desperate on a Saturday, say, but just dropping it in a Wednesday is some ostentatious "look-at-my-wordlist!" nonsense. Fair hiring is good, but [Fair-hiring initials] will always be bad fill, not just because EEO is ugly desperate all-vowel fill, but because EOE also fits the clue. Same clue can be used for two equally uninspiring initialisms. Blargh. I will never not mention that TMC is not a channel anyone cares about and is nowhere near HBO *or* SHO in its importance or fame. Also, The Movie Channel *is owned by* Showtime Networks, sooooo ..... "alternative" is true only insofar as yes, TMC and Showtime are different channels, technically. The point is, TCM yes, TMC no. This is my one true prejudice. Sorry not sorry.

SLAM POET is a nice answer. HOTFOOT as well (20D: Hurry, with "it"). And my alma mater is in the grid, which is fun. So it wasn't all low points. But that first low point was So Low.

That's all.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 6:09 AM  

Hey Rex, you never post your 'clipboard' solve times....they are always listed as untimed. Why not glance at your watch and then give us regular paper solvers something to compare vis a vis the keyboard times you publish.

Lewis 6:14 AM  
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Lewis 6:15 AM  
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Lewis 6:29 AM  

@rex -- You are not alone. I did flinch and I experienced a mental shudder at the White Bronco.

I liked the first two theme answers best because you could re-parse them: CAT CHAIR and ONE NIGHTSTAND. WORKSOFART is showing up for the first time in 60 years in a NYT puzzle, and maybe it's avoided because of its last four letters, which I just can't unsee as I look at the grid (you're welcome, all).

The cluing was mostly direct, and sometimes that just happens because a huge portion of the answers simply lend themselves to direct cluing rather than wordplay cluing. That direct cluing led to an on-RT's-wavelength fairly quick finish, keeping my solving chops in shape (and thank you for that, Ross), and hungry for diabolical tangles and tussles the next few days.

BarbieBarbie 6:30 AM  

Think this one was created by Ross Trudeau’s doppelgänger. The themers are inconsistent in my book; even if NIGHTSTAND can be viewed as a single word breaking across the answer words... it actually smells like the same two words. And clueing IDAHO with ID is some kind of violation.
So, I want more Ross Trudeau puzzles, but fewer of this kind, please.
Thus ends my rant, a noun which used to be a verb.

Klazzic 6:34 AM  

Like Speaker Nancy, I ripped this piece of crap in two after completion. For a Wednesday, this is the best you've got? Shameful.

mathgent 6:35 AM  

Some nice stuff here. MTWTF. Two BEDs in DOBEDIBEDO — twin beds! IOLANI. CATCHAIR.

But PWAVE is kinda junky and I always want more wit from Mr. Trudeau, but a good piece of work.

My favorite CD is Sinatra singing the Cole Porter classics. One of about a dozen Sinatra CDs in my collection. My favorite singer. The Talese piece originally ran in Esquire. They reprinted it in miniature book form a few years ago. That’s where I read it.

Suzie Q 6:43 AM  

No fun and harder than the usual Wed. but that's not why I didn't enjoy it. The whole thing felt "off" to me. There were several painful areas with such a mediocre theme.
I go to a lot of garage sales and used furniture is such a small part of what I see there that I don't think it deserves the spotlight.
The only TV show I could think of that has an exclamation point is

OffTheGrid 6:44 AM  

This would have been ATON more fun without the circles. The revealer would have been a revealer instead of a superfluous afterthought. Then I could have looked for the FURNITURE. Even better, just say "what five of the answers have done" and not identify them. My hand got sweaty from being held.

Hungry Mother 7:01 AM  

Nice Wednesday challenge. I thought I was slogging, but my time was faster than average. “Daily run” was the best. I’ll miss mine today because of cataract surgery this morning.

JHC 7:05 AM  

I accept the Sinatra spelling, due to a t-shirt I used to find hilarious:

"To do is to be" - Nietzche
"To be is to do" - Sartre
"DO BE DO BE DO" - Sinatra

Also, the "one night stand" thing is a joke from Avenue Q.

kitshef 7:15 AM  

Easier than Monday or Tuesday, with only PWAVE (huh?) IOLANI (what?) and ENEWS (eh?) giving resistance. Mostly because the theme gave away so much real estate.

Oh, and I never saw the clue for CLARO, but if I had that would have been another unknown.

Like TAR HEELS crossing SHEEP. And a nice Kobe tribute smack in the middle.

Anonymous 7:19 AM  

Rex, you are not alone. Putting abusers, putting violent people in puzzles is just wrong. These people should only ever be mentioned in the context of completely unacceptable behavior.

Small Town Blogger 7:20 AM  

I naticked at the Cowlings-Claro cross.

newspaperguy 7:23 AM  

“My one true prejudice.” That’s rich. You mean besides all the other things you arbitrarily take offence at?

GILL I. 7:28 AM  

Today is my birthday and I wanted a ROSE. Instead, I got a @Lewis WORKS o FART. Thanks.
What happened, Ross? Who stole your name? @Barbie has it under authority? WHAM bam thank you for the ONE NIGHT STAND. Throw in COWLINGS and the fat rat DOBEDOBEDO and I'm an UBER WHINER.
I so rarely get upset by any entry but @Rex is right about COWLINGS and the white Bronco. Only because it makes you conjure up that horrible image. Then you have FREED and HANDED OVER all in that same little corner. Yeah, FREED to savor his golden years playing golf in Florida. Bah.
Not my favorite Wed. I think the only thing that was sorta cute was the clue for IDAHO. Oh....and I liked seeing TAOS. I would've preferred you cluing it as "America's foremost, bona fide Art Colonies."

Z 7:29 AM  

11:05, which is more towards challenging on a Wednesday for me, but I did it after another long day of “jury selection”* and then a Board meeting for my sports league, so probably more medium in reality. It certainly didn’t seem especially challenging except for that MTWTF/minor figure from a [checks google] 26 year old murder case crossing.

Man oh man, Rex barely touched on it. First, do we not know the difference between “famously” and “infamously?” Second, we don’t see Lance Ito in puzzles anymore because the whole thing is dated, why would you think this guy is infamous enough to be remembered? And then there’s all the baggage attached to OJ Simpson. Besides all the stuff Rex already discussed at length, there’s the NFL head trauma thing, the what money buys one in a courtroom thing, and the “a large segment of our society distrusts our system of justice so much they’ll cheer the acquittal of a guilty man” thing. I can imagine studying this case in a law school or a media studies class or a political science class. I can’t imagine anyone wanting this guy in their puzzle.

@anon asking about the presidents, I provided a quick recap late yesterday.

amyyanni 7:36 AM  

In 1994, I was running a program assisting victims of domestic violence. The OJ related clue actually made me queasy. Thought it was an overreaction until coming here. Thank you Rex.

Kid Phoneme 7:38 AM  

I know what a bed is. Is a bed bed a thing? And if an answer is going to be as generic as Works of Art wouldn't it be better to name a couple famous pieces made in different mediums? Or clue it something like "Songs from a Garfunkel solo album, perhaps?"

Danny 7:47 AM  

For those of you commenting on how this puzzle does not seem to be up to Ross's typically high standards of constructing: I learned from his Instagram that, while this puzzle is his 24th in the NYT, it was the 3rd puzzle that Shortz accepted, holding onto it for some years.

Joaquin 7:56 AM  

It is almost always written as “doo-be-doo-be-doo” (sometimes as “dooby-dooby-doo) but never as DOBEDOBEDO except as the answer to the question, “What should you look for when hunting for dobedobes?”

jae 8:00 AM  

Easy-medium with the PWAVE area a tad tougher than the rest. The theme was a bit ho-hum, but the fill was interesting...Rex’s alma mater, a Kobe reference, a shout out to a #metoo attorney (see Ross’s comments at Xwordinfo), LMS’s alma mater (if I’m remembering correctly), a famous pop duo, the “father” of Rock and Roll, and no baseball. Liked it more than Rex did.

Laura 8:01 AM  

White Bronco is also an very challenging clue since I've blocked that whole fiasco from memory. Though it did provoke a discussion of discrimination in law enforcement that is always good.

TJS 8:11 AM  

@newspaperguy beat me to it, "My one true prejudice". Hilarious self-awareness issue.

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

Great idea. Should only have pleasant memories in the puzzle.

Paul Emil 8:31 AM  

Anyone who has done more than a dozen crosswords would know Claro. It is ubiquitous crosswordese.

Anyone who has done more than a dozen crosswords would know claro;it's ubiquitous.

David in Brevard 8:33 AM  

This was a horrible solve for me. Wednesday is my sweet spot, Monday and Tuesday sweep by and later weeks puzzles can take me all day, on and off. But Wednesday is my half hour of uninterrupted pleasure.

But not today. I fell asleep with this half filled and then ground to a halt this morning on waking. Several WOEs and some errors…. HOMER for ROMEO, ADON for AXON (EDITED seemed fair).
But POMONA, PWAVE, IOLANI, COWLINGS, TALESE, TOD (as clued) were all strangers and uneven bumps for me.

Why? Why so uneven? Wednesday for the most part with a hint of weekend.

Nope… just nope. A bad crossword and its raining here in the mountains of WNC.

Now I’m really grumpy!

David in the rain in Brevard

Sgreennyc 8:34 AM  

If Rex is such a delicate flower who wilts at the mere mention of Al Cowlings, he should stick to the Tv Guide crossword. Nothing that could possibly offend him there.. So tired of this ultra-sensitive a-hole.

Françoise Brasier 8:44 AM  

Can I add how much I hate “the Mrs” !

QuasiMojo 8:45 AM  

Do Be a Do Bee. Flashback to my childhood watching Romper Room.

Here are some alternative AS IS items for sale.


oBI DETritus


WorST OO La la


RiTA BLEeping Moreno

PS @Nancy someone here said you don't like going to crossword tournaments. Just curious, why not?

Nancy 8:51 AM  

I just lost a long comment on my new laptop -- which was acting with a mind of its own -- and I can't be bothered trying to reproduce it. A short summary: I found this hard for a Wednesday and I needed the theme to help me solve in some places. I didn't remember AL COWLINGS and therefore didn't connect him to OJ's white Bronco. Lots of people can drive a white Bronco, right? Therefore I didn't take umbrage. In fact I wanted his name to be AL COWhINGS so that the mild cigar could be a ChARO. Which sounded right to me. I corrected to CLARO only reluctantly.

Thought of the day: One of the great benefits of a really bad, always fuzzy memory is that there's less occasion to take umbrage.

Anonymoose 8:54 AM  

The Kobe "tribute":

First, the puzzle is old, way before his death, and Second, MAMBA is not for Kobe if clued as a deadly African snake. The clue would have to be Kobe related.

Paul Emil 8:54 AM  

Claro appears several times a year in the NY Times crossword puzzle.

GHarris 9:09 AM  

Got it all except for a one letter cheat. Never saw that daily run crap ( maybe it's standard crosswordese) and didn't realize the crossing clue referred to that infamous motorcade. I won't be caught napping again.

rageismycaffeine 9:15 AM  

I genuinely had forgotten Al COWLINGS's name and didn't want to be reminded of it, thanks. What an incredibly bizarre choice for a crossword.

This was an ugly, ugly puzzle. Thanks @Danny for the tidbit about this being an old puzzle of Ross's - I think it shows. Crikey.

CDilly52 9:15 AM  

I was really disheartened to have to recall the events symbolized and forever in our memories associated with that white Bronco. No idea why it didn’t get edited out.

As for things the eye sees, I actually thought CAT CHAIR was the right answer! I don’t know snow boarding from bowling or a CAT CHAIR from a PIN SETTER (from yesterday) so just left it as an odd thing I learned today - after all CHAIR could be part of the USED FURNITURE. Thanks @Rex for putting the theme answers in red. I am waiting to have retina surgery (yikes!) and the circles are very blurry and distracting. Didn’t notice that there wasn’t one around the “R”.

I also did not have the front end of 33A and again with the blurry circles. I was flummoxed to see
. . . FART wondering how that could possibly be sold at a garage sale?

Odd solve for the old gal this morning! But a snow day in Oklahoma! Everyone is paralyzed with the pathetic 2” that fell starting about 2 am. Everybody had already closed everything by 10 last night! I’ll just enjoy another coffee on the couch thank you!

pabloinnh 9:16 AM  

After a couple of answers-with-circles filled in, I thought we were headed for some kind of "bedroom furniture" revealer. When I finally got to 52A, all I could think was, wow, that's a big garage.

Our house is mostly full of CAT CHAIRS.

Do I wish @GILL I a feliz cumpleanos? CLARO que si.

Hope all you Californians enjoy Mookie. I'll be in mourning for a while.

jberg 9:20 AM  

I had no idea who COWLINGS was. Now I know, and kind of wish I didn’t.

But why is that ICEBOX not part of the garage sale?

JOHN X 9:20 AM  

I agree 100% with Rex here. Domestic violence is bad, but it’s even worse if you cut your spouse’s head off. That’s crossing a line, especially if it’s a woman. I will not tolerate that in my crossword puzzle.

Anyways, my favorite answer was COWLINGS. Hey remember that whole O.J. thing? I actually saw the slow-speed chase go up the 405! I was on the Palms Ave overpass, waving at the helicopters. Yeah that was me! It was a simpler, more innocent time in America, when we all watched the same TV shows and our government figures were sober and responsible.

Crimson Devil 9:31 AM  

Excellent cluing for IDAHO.
DNK PWAVE, Honolulu palace, SLAMPOET, ENEWS or Police show. Tough Wed.

Z 9:33 AM  

@Fellow Aimee Mann lover from the other day - Had Bachelor No. 2 playing as I drove in today. Every time I hear this song opening ... Just great song writing:

Now that I've met you
Would you object to
Never seeing each other again
'Cause I can't afford to
Climb aboard you
No one's got that much ego to spend


@Danny - Well that explains A TON.

@Kobe Tribute speculators - My understanding of how far ahead publish dates are set would suggest not.

I don’t know what Rex meant, but if I ever write something like “My one true X” I am almost certainly being ironic or sarcastic.

@Sgreennyc - Thanks for your input. One is forced to wonder if you need help with your masochism? Seems like your last/every post is how much you hate reading what you keep reading.

Nancy 9:37 AM  

@Quasi (8:45) -- It's taken me 15 minutes to track down the long, long appraisal I wrote about my experience at the 2015 Lollapuzzoola tournament. First I had to go to my analog datebooks to figure out what year it was, then what day and finally when I had recovered enough from the trauma to write it all up on the Rexblog.

My account is incomplete, however. I didn't yet know that I was about to come down with an upper respiratory infection that would turn bronchial and that would last eight bleeping months and badly affect my ability to breathe. Which made me even more determined to never enter another puzzle tournament. Who catches an upper respiratory infection in August, for heaven's sake? But you're sitting at a small round table with 8 people crowded together cheek to jowl in a stuffy, airless room with a zillion such tables and no windows. And high stress levels -- at least for me.

Go to the Rexblog for Tuesday, August 11 2015, and read my two very long comments at 9:22 and 9:45 respectively to find out what I was feeling about the tournament "in the moment". It explains -- in perhaps more detail than you want to know -- exactly what I found stressful and why I had no desire to ever do it again -- even if I hadn't gotten so sick.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

Never sure why a crossword puzzle has to evoke social commentary. Dictionaries are full of words that represent unpleasant and even terrible things. Encyclopedias contain names of horrible people and events. We don’t tear out those pages. Well, some folks do. Rex surely knows Thomas Bowdler. Why he would want to emulate him is speculation at best.

kitshef 9:49 AM  

Here is the New York Times CLARO count for the last five years:
2015 - one appearance
2016 - no appearances
2017 - no appearances
2018 - no appearances
2019 - one appearance

It does appear to have been very common in the late '90s - nine appearances from 1995-1999.

Missy 9:51 AM  

Please someone help me with 56D. Thanks!

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Agree with Sgreennyc. Debate all you like whether this guy merits inclusion based on his fame, but the idea that he shouldn’t be in there because he evokes unpleasant memories is pretty pathetic.

Glenn Patton 9:56 AM  

According to lyrics.com,it's "doo-bee-doo-bee-doo" followed by "doo-doo-dee-dah, dah-dah-dah-dah-dah".

Escalator 10:01 AM  

But Rex.....what do you REALLY think about the Al Cowlings answer?

SouthsideJohnny 10:12 AM  

I actually may be getting better at solving these things, as I also agree that it would have been more enjoyable without the circles. It was so obvious that I dropped in the word FURNITURE off of one letter in the revealer (which revealed nothing for most of us).

I had American sLOE instead of ALOE leaving me with PWSVE and scratching my head (thought the random string might somehow be related to the MT WTF ?).

I’m just a casual poker player and have never heard the word TELL used in that context - I don’t know if it is common poker vernacular or just a “stretch” clue.

I agree that anything even tangentially related to the murderer who used to play football should be an OBVIOUS and COMMON SENSE prohibition. I don’t know if there will be any significant backlash in the rest of CrossWorld. Unfortunately, Rex’s constant kvetching and whining about every little thing (except vulgar, misogynistic rap artists and LENIN and other mass murderers for example, which is not only ironic but hypocritical - whining about the unfair treatment of female constructors and then posting videos of rap songs on his blog page) has resulted in a “boy who cried wolf” situation in that now that there is something really worth pushing back against, his words will be discounted and interpreted as just so much more claptrap.

We could also have done without the german word for “death” in the same neighborhood as MAMBA and in the same puzzle as the infamous murderer’s bestie (I understand that it is an old puzzle - but don’t they pay editors to pay attention to this kind of stuff?).

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

The comment about TV Guide made me wonder whether it still exists. Apparently it does. Why would anyone buy it ? Maybe for the crossword puzzle.

Joaquin 10:26 AM  

I was not offended by the COWLINGS entry ... but if the editor was concerned about it he could have clued it as "Auto engine coverings."

Geezer 10:41 AM  

I was unfamiliar with NWA but got it from crosses. Then, an hour later NWA appeared in a book review I was reading in "The Humanist". The book is "Slanted" by Simon Tam. It's about disparaging words in trademark names. A supreme court decision resulted in his being able to trademark "The Slants" as a band name. But the same decision dealt a blow to the suit against the Washington Redskins involving the use of their mascot name. NWA is trademarked despite the "N".

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Its a double bed

? 10:42 AM  

Surprising that Professor Sharp didn’t acknowledge the shout out to his Alma Mater.

JC66 10:52 AM  

Re: Blue Devils vs TARHEELS

While watching ESPN last night, they promoted the upcoming Saturday matchup by pointing out that over the last 100 games, the teams ar 50/50 and have scored the exact same number of points. Amazing!

JC66 10:54 AM  



I'll toast you tonight with a Chivas.

Barbara S. 10:55 AM  

I don't know if this was in Rex's mind or not, but isn't "my one true prejudice/favorite/happiness/bugbear" a literary allusion? There was a TV series many years ago called "Lark Rise to Candleford," based on a trilogy of 19th-century English novels by Flora Thompson. The main character was Dorcas Lane, postmistress in the town of Candleford. She went around all the time saying, "My one true joy is flowers" or "My one true hatred is cruelty" or whatever. But she displayed a certain amount of inconsistency because what was her one true love on Monday might easily have been replaced by something else on Tuesday. In other words, there's a certain amount of embedded irony in using that expression if you're familiar with Dorcas! And don't forget Rex is a literature prof. And, yes, I'm a geek.

David 10:58 AM  

Missy, before Uber ushered us into a new debt/slave economy, the word was often used to describe something fabulous.

If the puzzle weren't so old, I'd suggest the Cowlings answer was to remind us about the fella who stood in the Senate this past week explaining that when the President does it, it's not against the law. Same fella helped get the murderer off and, as an added bonus, helped get the child sex trafficker Epstein a slap on the wrist. Friends gotta stick together. Wait. There was another famous chase involving a White Bronco?

Yes, "dooby dooby do" it is, but whatever.

Repo and Redo in the same puzzle? That doesn't seem kosher.

Is the used furniture painted green?

This fell too fast for me on a Wednesday, and mostly pretty good clue/answer. Nothing really stood out for me but the quick solve.

Unknown 10:59 AM  

Very awkward puzzle for me, too.

'What an ID might substitute for" ... the use of the word 'an' threw me off. Not exactly wrong, but awkwardly phrased.

COWLINGS is totally unknown to me. I get the Bronco reference and raised an eyebrow. SIM... SiMP... uhhh...

"Really" being UBER never crossed my mind. Really as in 'very?' or 'seriously?' or 'yes, really.' Too many connotations.

Deleted is EXED? No, no no no no. EX-ing usually means closing a window on the computer. I actually preferred AXED but it didn't work.

Clever clue 'vein' for ORE.

I thought the poker giveaway was ANTE for a second, but TELL makes sense. ALLRED seems antiquated - just something nobody has said in my lifetime to me - but your mileage may vary.

-Novice solver

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

@? He did.

Newboy 11:08 AM  

Maybe I’ve been in IDAHO so long that I block all SoCal memories? Thanks for sharing MAMBA, COWLINGS and other PWAVEs from the past that totally soared over my head during the solve; POMONA was my last entry & I spent a year on a NEH/Mellon fellowship at Claremont Graduate School. Wasn’t sure whether that was a double BED for sale or a pair of twin BEDs. Easy even for mid-week, but I did learn PWAVEs that replaced my initial SoCal nightmare entry: quake. Didn’t find the outrage others did, but there are a number of other blogs linked from xwordinfo which some commentators might enjoy more? Any morning working crossword puzzles is better than waxing the snow shovel yet again 🤡

jb129 11:14 AM  

Who's Al Cowlings?

I haven't disliked a Wednesday puzzle or one by Ross T. in a long time.

Carola 11:15 AM  

@QuasiMojo - Thank you for that hilarious list - much more fun than the puzzle. Still laughing at waDI VANdal, notorious menace of the Sahara.

I found the puzzle on the hard side, despite the easy-to-see theme: I had no idea about COWLINGS (which sounds like that’s just as well) or P-WAVE, stared dumbly at MT?TF for too long, went wrong on Tcm x cobrA (thought maybe some had slithered over onto the neighboring continent).

What? 11:15 AM  

Didn’t we just have a puzzle with hidden furniture? It was CHAIRS.

jb129 11:24 AM  


Just went to Rex's page to see wtf Al Cowlings is.

Thanks for the UNpleasant memory Ross.

albatross shell 11:26 AM  

@GIll I
Happy Birthday, and hope I don,t make it any worse,but my parsing was WORK SO FART. I was going to say B-Day but I thought it might remind you of the above suggestion of the BIDET yard sale item. Always wanted one of them. It would be a great find.

Yes TELL as clued is in common usage.
I dunno about COWLINGS being so horrid. Maybe just trying to keep a friend from committing suicide? Generally a good thing to do. What did he really do or know? At the time I admit I just wanted to see the end of game 5 of the NBA finals. Rooting for the Rockets in that one. I think they lost the game but took the series. Like Nancy I got COWhINGS before it hit me.

If Shortz thought it was long enough, I guess he was wrong, and at the same time it seems to be too long.

So calm today. Drug shortage? Yesterday I was sure you were lying about your church key collection. The rest seemed believable. PINmonkeys indeed. I'm sure in some places it was black pinsetters and white bowlers. Any connection? Or just how they moved around? I remember Jean Shepherd telling a story about a setter getting abused and intentionally hit, and nobody getting many strikes the rest of the night because if you just mis-spot pins a few iotas strikes can disappear.

I thought MTWTF was pretty good.
TOD MAMBO good combo except for recent events. MAMBO is a Kobe tribute now even if not intended.

And since nobody asked I must be really UBER dense, but why is UBER or U BE R really, informally?

Bourbon Street 11:41 AM  

@Southside Johnny, Watch “Casino Royale” with Daniel Craig. TELLS are a big part of the Poker strategy in the games Bond has with the villain—I won’t say anymore so as not to spoil the movie. I can’t recall if Bond uses the word TELL when talking to Eva or Felix, but I think he (or another character) does.

I thought the puzzle was a mixture of easy clues and hard ones which (in my humble opinion) is about right for a Wednesday. I did have an “Ugh” reaction to COWLINGS name, but I do not believe that crossword puzzles should contain only happy clues. I can tolerate all manner of historical people so long as the answer is appropriately clued. As Z noted above, changing “famous” to “infamous” would have made the answer a little easier to swallow.

CT2Napa 11:46 AM  

Maybe Will changed the clue to irk Rex. From recent news -- "Boeing is also looking at a manufacturing issue with some engine covers that involves possible damage to a coating that insulates the engine cowlings from lighting strikes."

michnu 11:56 AM  

i got Uber - and it’s right, but I don’t know why!!!

albatross shell 12:02 PM  

Ok, answered my own question. Just german used as slang with UBER to over to really.

Kimber 12:02 PM  

This was going pretty good until I got hung up on _OBE_OBEDO. I thought about the 'doo-be-doo' combo but it sounded like 'doh-bee-doh' and I wasn't making the connection. Had no idea what the German word for death was either so that didn't help.

Frustratingly, I've traveled through ORD a lot, but wasn't seeing it in the grid. I kept thinking 'O'Hare', so... OHR? OHA? And thought ROMEO was HOMER b/c I had no idea what the answer for the clue was anyway, haha."

Also, I'm well old enough to remember the whole white bronco fiasco, but had ZERO idea who Al Cowlings was.

Feels like there's been a run on ATMs in puzzles lately. Must be some zeitgeist since the commenter above mentioned that this is likely a very old puzzle that hasn't been published until now.

I grinned at FART in the grid. I always will at that word. :)

Tony Zito 12:07 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 12:08 PM  

I find it ironic that someone would berate someone for a clue in a crossword puzzle and then claim that the reader of said criticism is “too sensitive”.

BobL 12:14 PM  

I didn't like Al either, cuz I spelled it COLLINGS. Then couldn't make sense of MTLTF.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

since surfers HANGTEN, that earworm caused CATCHten to hang around far longer than needed.

Lewis 12:52 PM  

@gill I -- Happy birthday, and may it be a great year for you!

Teedmn 1:05 PM  

I can hardly believe Rex didn't end his write-up with SOFA King low, which has become a CATCH phrase at my house. Luckily, I had no idea who Al COWLINGS is/was (though I know what the "white bronco" referred to). In fact, I DNF'd on that one - my 16D mild cigar was saying "cuchi cuchi", as I had entered ChARO there.

Many pieces of furniture in my house were USED. I got a lot of very nice hand-me-downs from my parents as they upgraded to newer styles. Since I love the faux-French Provincial style they favored in the 70s, it was a win-win for all of us. I am not of the IKEA throw-away mindset in the least.

QuasiMojo 1:07 PM  

@Carola, many thanks. I learned the word WADI from doing puzzles, maybe in the Weng era. I think I cheated a bit on the Rita Moreno one. Ran out of steam.

@David, don't forget he also got Von Bulow off.

@GILL, oops, happy birthday! How bout "a nice Chianti"?

@Nancy, wow. Sounds like Legionnaires disease. I think I'll pass this year. But I will go read your write-ups. Thanks.

Nancy 1:10 PM  


Anonymous 1:14 PM  

The crosses of TMC and MAMBA, and of NWA and USTA are totally unguessable.

If you don't know those obscurities exactly, they could just as well be TnC (network as opposed to movie) and nAMBA*, and NWf and USTf (federation as opposed to association).

* After all, and not totally irrelevantly, there's a Nampa, Idaho.

tkincher 1:33 PM  

I went to Cal Poly POMONA, so my alma mater is almost in here! The Claremont colleges were close enough that this one went down quick.

The puzzle played fairly easy for me except for that COWLINGS/MTWTF cross, ugh.

RooMonster 1:52 PM  

Hey All !
@Gill I - Happy Birthday!

Liked the Revealer, and the themers, except that NIGHT STAND seems an outlier. Too long for this theme, and not embedded twixt one or more words like the others. Maybe throw in a TABLE? How about "Couldn't make it" for a clue, and answer could've been "wasnTABLEtogo". My two cents.

Never knew Kobe was called MAMBA, don't follow BBall that close.

When I had PIPER and WORKS, thought I messed something up, as it left me PW___ for 24D. But, no.

Rex slams the COWLINGS clue/answer, and I would agree, though i never knew who the driver was (had COlLINGS, even though didn't know what MTlTF was), but then in his SJW role, doesn't say a peep about NWA. I guess if "they" call themselves N's, then it's OK. Just sayin'.

Speaking of "the chase", I can never understand why police don't just put a car in front of the car they are "chasing" at 20 MPH.

Sorry if this is negative sounding.

Why is there no Mountain named What The F@$#. Then it would be MT WTF. That'd be awesome!


Another Anon 1:53 PM  

@Anon 1:14. Hope you didn't hurt yourself with all that over-stretching.

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

The only holdup was COWLINGS crossing MTWTF. I could not figure out what could possibly start with MT and end in TF for about a whole minute there. I didn't mind PWAVE since I got the P and immediately filled in WAVE (the only other possibility being SWAVE; learn your seismology, people!).

But I still didn't think this was good. The revealer fell flat, and the theme was barely perceptible, even with the circles. And ONENIGHTSTAND feels wrong since it isn't buried in another word, although it does at least change meanings. I found the theme to be of no help during the solve since the clues on the themers were so easy anyway. Plus MTWTF is just awful.

Also, you'd think that I'd remember COWLINGS since I just watched The People vs. OJ Simpson last weekend, but even having just watched it, the guy's name is not that memorable to me, apparently. But that was 26 years ago now, and he was not that important a person, so it seems a bit unfair as well as unpleasant.

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

I like the Al Cowlings answer. The white Ford Bronco being pursued by scores of cop cars as news helicopters flew overhead had the nation rapt. All three major networks and the news channels covered it unceasingly for hours. Seinfeld riffed on it for God's sake. If anything is crossword-worthy it's that. Cowling didn't hurt anybody. This clue and answer harms no one.

One might stands on the other hand frequently hurt people. For my money, that's the offensive answer in today's puzzle/

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

You oddly seem to be under the impression that Al Cowlings' first name appeared in the grid.

I parsed 9D as Mt. WTF. That's a better answer.

Whatsername 2:32 PM  

@GILL: Happy birthday! Sitting in my house watching the snow fall, I hope it’s warm and sunny where you are and you have a day filled with all your favorite things.

@Nancy at 9:37: I went back and read your August 2015 posts regarding the puzzle tournament. OMG! I probably would’ve run shrieking in horror long before you made your exit. I don’t do well in confined spaces or in noisy crowds or under the pressure of time to complete a task. So as much as I might like to someday visit your fascinating city, it will not be for a tournament event. I would be much more likely to seek out the shade of that elm tree with the breeze and blessed solitude.

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

Anon 2:30.

If you'r referring to me (anon 2:10), allow me to disabuse you of the notion that I believe Cowling's first name is in the grid.
What makes you think I would think something so bizarre? Cowling is in the grid, and the Cowling in question is Al. Ergo, it's perfectly reasonable to include his first name in any discussion. Rex did iso in the firts sentence of his critique.

Mt. WTF is, in fact, not a better answer either.

Quisp Versus Quake 2:54 PM  

Maybe cowlings could have been clued as Baby Cows? Or not. P Wave was a slam dunk if you're from California. There are P Waves and S Waves and it's worth looking up the animation. That's interesting stuff.

"The two main types of (earthquake) waves are body waves and surface waves. Body waves can travel through the earth's inner layers, but surface waves can only move along the surface of the planet like ripples on water. ... The P wave can move through solid rock and fluids, like water or the liquid layers of the earth."

Anonymous 3:10 PM  

COWLINGS - what baby friars use to cover their bald heads?

Z 3:44 PM  

@albatross shell12:02 - I was wondering what to make of your last line at 11:26. If anyone is still wondering about how you get from “really” to UBER just replace the first UBER with “really” in the last line of that 11:26 post.

@anon2:10 - I don’t think “rapt” is quite the right word. Whatever a gawker feels as they inch past a fatal accident on the freeway, that’s what we were feeling on a national level. “Rapt” suggests some degree of joy to me.

@Barbara S. - Rex has a well known gap in his literary knowledge from that era, so I doubt if he knows the specific source. I am unfamiliar with the source, too, but understood Rex’s use of “my one true...” to imply at least some irony. Thanks for the information.

sanfranman59 4:18 PM  

Oh, Rex ... I know you generally don't read the comments, but on the off chance that you do today ... I didn't care much for this puzzle either, so I'm generally in agreement with your review, but I wish you could rediscover the lightness and joy of your early blogging days. I've worked my way through the NYT archives to the point where you started blogging. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed those early reviews. In that first month of reviews, I've gotten at least one honest-to-goodness belly-laugh out of all but a couple of them. That only rarely happens nowadays. You still had an edge to you back then, but you didn't take it all so seriously. You were so much more humble and accepted that stuff you don't know or have to work for might have a place in a crossword puzzle.

To the commenters here .. If you haven't already, I highly recommend doing some of the archived puzzles from late-2006 and reading his commentary in those early days. He really can be quite entertaining as a writer. And you can tell how much he enjoyed solving.

I'd hate to see him give this up because I still occasionally enjoy reading his take on the puzzle. But what I'd miss most is coming here to read what the folks on this message board have to say. Thank you for enhancing my puzzling hobby.

Anonymous 4:54 PM  

Would have preferred COWLINGS clue in reference to engines, and would have liked to see its proper noun quota transferred to ALLRED, as in Gloria.

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

Last December 17th (my birthday), I made a resolution to not read this blog anymore; I began reading it since September, 3-4 times a week. Today was the first time in the year 2020 that I read it, just to see whether it had improved. Big disappointment. By the way, MTWTF is clever.

Anonymous 6:27 PM  

@Anon 5:29 -- Easy come, easy go. Bye.

emily 7:21 PM  

I thought that was Santa Fe....😳

Anonymous 7:46 PM  

@sanfranman: Agreed. It’s kind of sad that that Rex’s hatred of Will Shortz has taken away from his joie de vivre as far as the (NYT) puzzles are concerned. Anyway, like you, I’m thankful to him for providing this forum. Unfortunately, we have to read his review to fully grok the . comments.

Anonymous 8:08 PM  

Nah. Rapt is the right word. There's no value judgment involved. It simply means fascination. And surely the country was fascinated by that chase.

Anonymous 9:15 PM  

Oh my god, if Rex gets so little pleasure fom the NYT, why does he continue to blog about it? I too come here for the comments of others, not for his almost daily rants. I'm not a fan of OJ, but i don't lose sleep because of the white Bronco clue.

Alison 9:25 PM  


Z 9:54 PM  

@Anon8:08 - Maybe that’s the denotation you meant, but the connotation I took is definitely pleasurable, I’d use “rapt” for a speaker I find interesting, a good game I’m watching, a particularly challenging puzzle with lots of Aha moments. Merriam-Webster lists the following synonyms: ecstatic, elated, elevated, enrapt, enraptured, entranced, euphoric, exhilarated, giddy, heady, intoxicated, rapturous, rhapsodic. I don’t think that list represents the emotional weight you were looking for. If “rapt” doesn’t carry that emotional weight for you please recognize that for your listener and readers it very likely will.

SP 9:54 PM  

Thank you for calling out the “White Bronco” clue. I also recoiled at the idea that the murder was just a bit of pop culture. Thank you!

Anonymous 10:15 PM  

I agree with the comment that Cowlings seemed to be helping a suicidal friend. The assumptions made here that he knew what OJ did are unfounded. Give the guy a break. Ask yourself what you would’ve done had you been in his situation.

kitshef 7:24 AM  

@Gill I - a belated Happy Birthday and hoping you got that rose.

Tyrone Tiews 9:57 AM  

First time I've been here (there was a link to this slog of a blog in my newsfeed), and I'm trying to process the fact that anyone could work up so much self-righteous indignation over something as (quite literally) trivial as a crossword clue. He does this every day??

Anonymous 9:03 PM  

To: Tyrone Tiews

Yes. He does this every day. He is on a major ego trip.


spacecraft 11:18 AM  

Wishing to waste as little time as possible on this, I have one word to say about it: the first word in the clue for 41a. Man, Will, you must really be scraping the bottom. "Other." That's worse than double-bogey. Next!

Burma Shave 11:45 AM  


That ROMEO’s in the NEWS, as we’ve ALLRED,
his WORK’S PROCEDURAL, give him a HAND.
He’s an AVID CREEPER from BED to BED:


thefogman 2:23 PM  

This garbage sale puzzle should have a cardboard sign on it that says FREE.

rainforest 3:17 PM  

I don't understand, really, the mentality of people who would be put off by the phrase "white Ford Bronco", or the name Al COWLINGS. What if the word "glove" appeared in the puzzle? Anyway, my breakfast (and lunch) went down nicely.

DOBEDOBEDO has appeared at least once previously in the NYTX. To me, it's no different from "slithy", "toves" or "slithy toves" which have also previously appeared.

The theme and revealer were fine, if a little too straight-forward because of the circles. Not having circles might have been better.
But, nothing here to dislike.

leftcoaster 3:43 PM  

On the tough side for Wednesday. Not so much the theme (except for Sinatra's DOBE, DOBE.... spelling and CATCH AIR), which was fine, but some of the more elusive fill:

COWLINGS, MTWTF, P WAVE, TOD (German "death"), ROMEO (didn't remember he was a killer), and UBER (more German). Needed crosses and inferences to finish them off.

But not really finish. Had an M instead of an N in the ODEON/NWA crossing.

Diana, LIW 7:28 PM  

IOLANI/ALOE was my guess area of the day. (And, like @Lefty, I was a tad unsure of the N vs. M in ADEON/NWA. But I got it.)

@Foggy - I'm shocked at your sad-face comment - you're usually not so negative!

Debated on how to spell DOBEDOBEDO - wanted double O's somewhere in there. O well.

I knew someone would say something about the Bronco - which I understand is coming back on the market.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords
Don't touch your face!

rondo 7:59 PM  

@teedmn - I'd have been disappointed if you *hadn't* brought up SOFA King low.

White Bronco should not auto-trigger that kind of response, however, COWLINGS coulda been certain airplane parts, so there are options. It didn't bother me, I don't think Al was particularly criminal? Is Kato Kaelin off-limits? I'm kinda tired of the TMC rant as well; not a third world problem.

If it wasn't for girl-friends and the current MRS, I'd probably still have all USEDFURNITURE.

PIPER Perabo is a SLAM dunk yeah baby.

@Diana, LIW - does Lambo have a CATCHAIR?

This puz may have its own private IDAHO.

Diana, LIW 9:04 PM  

Just an addendum to Syndiecats - the ACPT tourney (that's redundant, I know) has just been cancelled. Will is working on alternate dates.

Too bad.

Diana, Lady of the Viral News

Anonymous 4:26 AM  
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BitSourceIT 5:42 AM  
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