Domination in slang / THU 2-6-20 / Fragrance since 1932 / Title partner of Hobbs in hit 2019 film / In Old Mexico In Old Santa Fe / Target for holistic healing / Portmanteau fruit / Port SSE of Suez Canal / Travel for bigheaded person

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Constructor: Jake Halperin

Relative difficulty: Medium, I think (time was somewhere in the 7s, but I was going slowly, taking notes, so the clock doesn't tell me much)

THEME: a chore and more — themers are all ... kind of rhyming puns? ... which all end with some phrase meaning "and the rest" and start with a word that is a (near) homophone of some word in that final phrase. Thus:

Theme answers:
  • LIKES AND THE LIKE (15A: Reactions to social media posts?) 
  • SETTERS ET CETERA (21A: Breeds of hunting dogs?)
  • ALI ET ALII (33A: Boxing champs of the 1960s-'70s?)
  • KNOTS AND WHAT NOT (47A: Things that scouts earn badges for?)
  • UDDERS AND OTHERS (54A: Cows' various glands?)
Word of the Day: "Hobbs & Shaw" (14A: Title partner of Hobbs in a hit 2019 film) —
Hobbs & Shaw (also known as Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw or Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw) is a 2019 American action film directed by David Leitch and written by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce, from a story by Morgan. It is a spin-off of the The Fast Saga franchise set in between the events of 2017’s The Fate of the Furious and 2020’s F9. It is the ninth full-length film released overall. The film sees Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprise their roles from the main series as Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw respectively, and also stars Idris ElbaVanessa KirbyEiza Gonz├ílezCliff Curtis, and Helen Mirren. The plot follows the unlikely pairing of the titular characters as they team up with Shaw's sister (Kirby) to battle a cybernetically-enhanced terrorist (Elba) threatening the world with a deadly virus. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is obviously not good. I want to say it's a cute idea, but I'm not sure it's even that. I think the theme holds up for maybe two of the five themers (SETTERS ET CETERA, ALI ET ALII), but it really starts unraveling with the others, with other words and syllables getting in the way and making what little charm the theme might have had disappear. UDDERS is particularly bad, since it's a pun and not an attempt at an exact homonym like the others. With LIKES AND THE LIKE and especially KNOTS AND WHAT NOT you don't even feel the theme, really. That is, where ALI ET ALII announces its wordplay pretty forcefully, with those other two it's like "what ... is even happening here? What are the THE and the WHAT doing there? and ... oh, was I supposed to notice that KNOTS and NOT rhyme? Nope. Those words are too ordinary and far apart." These are five phrases that are all 15 letters long; that seems to have been a more important consideration than theme consistency or solving pleasure or anything else. Clunk clunk clunk. The grid is choppy as hell and full of staleage (TANGELO, ADEN, OATER, etc.). What is "staleage"? It's a word I made up. It means "stale stuff." Which brings me to OWNAGE (46A: Domination, in slang), which ... really should've been PWNAGE, imhop (in my humble opinion pancakes).

PROUDER (38D) / UGH (8D)
VERANDAED is so bad it's SUABLE, which is also not a word. You dig? 'Cause I DIG (13A: "Point taken," '60s-style). Did you know you build verandas with TBEAMs? Well, you probably don't, I just wanted to bring up TBEAM, yet another answer from outer space. Honestly, this puzzle lost me from the second it expected me to know anything about "a series of James Patterson novels" (1A: Employer of Detective Lindsay Boxer in a series of James Patterson novels). There was nothing very remarkable about how I solved this. I just puttered around the grid until it was done. If I got stuck, I just moved and came back and then I was unstuck. Not even an epic battle to recount. Just putt putt putt yep all the squares are filled in. I had a single moment of 'wow' and that was when my eyes WIDENed and I thought "wow ... really? VERANDAED?" Great, not my brain is singing this answer to the tune of Boston's "Amanda." And now, if I'm doing my job right, your brain is doing the same. Good day.

["You put a porch upon your house / Then sit and watch the cows / VERANDAED! It's what I did to my estate / And I just think it's great / VERANDAED!"]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


American Liberal Elite 6:00 AM  

"I think I'll go to a matinee and see an oater," said nobody in the last 50 years.

Michiganman 6:15 AM  

It wasn't a pretty puzzle but I had fun solving it. OK by me.

Anonymoose 6:25 AM  

Someone commented that Rex had lost his sense of humor. Perhaps, but his parody of the "Amanda" lyrics, VERANDAED is very funny. And why is the mic so high in the video?

Anonymous 6:41 AM  

I think I audibly groaned at VERANDAED.

Lewis 6:50 AM  

I could go on and so on about what I liked about this puzzle:
* A most original theme, ably executed.
* Made me wonder if we can start calling last night EXPM.
* PETE near RELIT and RETEST made me think of the "Pete and repeat" riddle I haven't thought about since childhood. Does anyone here remember that? (You can Google it.) Brought me right back to kid mind.
* Clues that made me dig hard to figure out.
* Clues that drew chuckles (for FAKE TAN, EGO TRIP, and RETEST).
* The lovely AE in VERANDAED, countered by the symmetrical EA in BITSTREAM, plus the freshness of those two answers.
* The optimism shining in EDEN and XANADU.
* The amazing relevance of IOWA and PETE.

Wow, Jake, Thank you. This was an upper for me, and, IMO, an upper-level Thursday.

Hungry Mother 6:50 AM  

Very blurry vision after cataract surgery yesterday, but got it done very quickly.

GILL I. 6:53 AM  

I seriously wrote in "Dear people who live in Eden, please don't let it be VERANDAED." It was...My AURA in ADEN went AWK.
One thing I liked was TABU followed by UGH. I had Dior at first because that smells soooo good. TABU is what you use in an elevator if you want to kill someone.
Let's see...I got the LIKES AND THE LIKE but it took pulling brain cells that I don't have to get there. The SETTERS ETCETERA actually got a genuine smile and then it rapidly went downhill. Why do I hate words like ALII and OWNAGE and and and the clue for OH SO? They make my teeth CURL. All you smarty T BEAM a thing. Is it SUABLE?
Thank you cyber friends from yesterday and your sweet B-day wishes. @Quasi...the last time I had Chianti, the bottle ended up on the kitchen counter with a candle in it. @JC....Talisker and some fresh oysters.
@Sanfranman. Your late post yesterday was terrific. So true. I'm glad you've come back. It's the people here that make me post on a daily basis. Plus I get to rant or rave....

Teresa 6:56 AM  

Is there a crossword puzzle Rex actually likes? I found this one great fun so I knew he would hate it. And some of us have actually read James Patterson. I'm overseas and have to suffer plenty of references I know nothing about. Note to Rex: it's a game, not a master's thesis or a great nation's constitution.

puzzlehoarder 7:10 AM  

I don't like gag/themed puzzles and this was one of the worst. A steady stream of grid spanning dad jokes held together with glue like EXPM made this solve the crossword equivalent of sitting on a whoopee cushion.

Speaking of my solving experience, one of the first things I came across was 13A. I couldn't decide what was more cringe inducing the clue or the entry itself. Either way it was a bad sign of what was to come.

Yes there was some straight up difficulty to be found. Changing BITSERIES to BITSTREAM was okay but I had to hold my nose to convert OWNING to OWNAGE.

My final distasteful act, to put this thing away, was changing MEH to HEH. It was like making a dog turd into a cat turd. When you're doing this to make UDDER match up with OTHER you know you've got rock bottom.

This puzzle made me feel like I need a crossword puzzling intervention. ET SETTER UH, ET SETTER UH...

kitshef 7:18 AM  

Cluing today was quite tough, which was probably necessary as the (wonderful) theme opened up a lot of the grid. The clue for I DIG though was too much of a stretch. And … seriously, that’s the best PETE you could come up with?

Patches for jeans: SEW-ONS AND SO ON.

Todd 7:27 AM  

Am I the only one who thought expm was awful?

Seth 7:39 AM  

So if VERANDAED is ok, can we do PORCHED and RAILINGED and SIDINGED and BATHTUBBED (Like many home restrooms)? Cause that would be great!

D Peck 7:41 AM  

Was really afraid Rex wasn’t going to hate this puzzle as much as I did. It was so bad (VERANDAED, SUABLE, OWNAGE, TBEAM) that I needed to see it taken down. Thank you for not disappointing me.

Suzie Q 7:42 AM  

While it is true that some of the answers came from outer space I still had some fun. I loved the clue for IHOP. This was a good example of fun being in the eye of the beholder. I chose to have fun and so did Rex (in his review anyway). He can be a hoot when he wants to be.

amyyanni 7:53 AM  

Got the V in VERANDAED and confidently inserted Victorian, so was slowed for a bit. Stared at SUABLE for a while. Had Owning instead of OWNAGE for some time.
It was a MEANDERED Solve.

Petsounds 7:56 AM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle and actually had fun solving the clever wordplay of its theme. It's been a few days since I could say I had fun with a NYTXW. Great job, Jake, and thanks for the early morning chuckles on this snowy day.

Joaquin 8:01 AM  

As I solved this puzzle I had several "aha moments"; that is, moments when I thought to myself, "Aha, Rex is gonna hate this entry." And I was right on all of them.

Special thanks to @Lewis for pointing out the PETE/IOWA tie-in which I would have never noticed despite being a big fan of Pete (Iowa, not so much).

fkdiver 8:05 AM  

Just a mess of obscure random junk. Like someone spilled a box of Alpha-Bits on the table.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

For those of you who insist that Rex should stop blogging if he no longer enjoys the puzzle, how can you not see the irony of coming here every day to complain? And some of you are trying too hard to be counter-contrarians. There has to be some puzzle standards. "Verandaed"??? If I built off my house in Hawaii, would it then be lanaied? Motion denied.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

I liked this puzzle, and I don’t see why OFL is so harsh about it. “Verandaed” is so blatantly a groaner that I just laughed while filling it in. I hate turning nouns into verbs and especially into adjectives, which one finds everywhere, especially in academia. “Verandaed,” however, is so egregious and odd that it does no harm whatsoever to the English language. I found so much in this puzzle that I had not seen anywhere else, both in the “theme” and in other clues–this made the whole thing thoroughly enjoyable.

I have one minor question. I thought all of the Alis after Muhammed were his daughters–two, or was there only one? If only women, then Ali et alii should be Ali et aliae. The “gender problems” in English are also problems in Latin (and Italian and surely elsewhere). “My” academic association, the American Historical Association, always fell over themselves trying to be “gender sensitive.” Their publication guidelines gave as abbreviations, in citations of works, *id.,” short for idem, meaning “the same person or same author,” used in successive citations of works by the same person. I pointed out to them that *id.* did NOT mean “the same person” but “the same man.” *Eadem* (abbreviated *ead.*) should be used if the person was a woman (I use ead. regularly in my own publications, and I’ll object strenuously if some nitwit editor tries to change this). In Italian, and in music, one learns through experience to shout “brava” to praise a woman, “brave” to praise a group of women, and “bravo” only if the singer is a man. When the whole cast shows up for bows, then, if one wants, one may yell “bravi.” Here the gender questions now under discussion in English may be apropos, since “bravi” technically refers to men, the masculine becoming a generic plural. One hears “bravo,” which is singular and wrong. I wonder if, one day, when the mixed cast come on stage for their bows, I will hear “brave,” meaning, I think, that only the women knew how to sing!

I hate the use of *they* as a singular pronoun, which I see the NY Times occasionally adopts and even right-wing media (Fox) use as well, at least on occasion. Before this became an “issue” I remember grading papers where I would circle a pronoun and write above it “antecedent?” Pronouns are complicated enough already, in all languages. Are generic masculine usages that offensive? Perhaps I would feel differently if I were a woman–but I’m not sure. In Italy the “default” pronoun for an individual person is “lei”–i.e. “she.” The waiter comes up to me and says, “lei vuole un pocchino di piu’?”–would you like a little more?–but literally “would she like a little more?” If I wanted more I never went into fits of panic over my gender being compromised. The “lei” has survived in Italian partly because those who tried to get rid of it were the Fascists.

i.e. Poggius “

Brit Solves NYT 8:18 AM  

Yes some fill is iffy and the theme doesn't quite work, but it is ambitious and different, so I still quite enjoyed most of this!

QuasiMojo 8:25 AM  

If Scarlett joined ABBA

"Can you see my house, verandaed.
I remember long ago another starry night like this
In the firelight, verandaed
You were humming to yourself and softly strumming your guitar
I could hear the distant drums
And sounds of bugle calls were coming from afar...

It looked so cute there, verandaed
Every hour every minute seemed to last eternally
I was so impressed, verandaed!
We were young and full of life and architecturally aware
And I'm not ashamed to say
The pillars and porches almost made me cry...

pabloinnh 8:28 AM  

Thought this was fine for a Thursday, as it took a while to see what was going on, but I had the same reaction to VERANDAED as OFL, and OWNAGE, you can join that list. LIABLE before SUABLE, my spell check is rejecting the latter. Liked IHOP, and OATER is for those of us who have been doing x-words for the last fifty years, my sympathies to you youngsters out there.

Snowy here in NH as well and the phone rings and rings and the candidates appear and appear on tv, nor do they cease to appear. This first-in-the-nation stuff is overrated.

@HungryMother-Good luck with your recovery. I had this done twenty years ago and kicked myself for not doing it sooner. The saying around here is -wow, they washed the windows and turned on the lights. Also reading about your running (hi @myyanni, you too) has inspired this aging runner to get back on the roads.

Thanks (mostly) for a fun Thursday, JH, it was jake with me.

mathgent 8:29 AM  

Rex often tries too hard to find bad things in a puzzle. Lewis is the opposite. Today he risked serious spinal damage trying to find good things.

I thought that it was just OK. I liked UDDERSANDOTHERS. The other themers just miss.

TABU is a great name for a perfume. My wife said it was popular when she started using perfume in the fifties or sixties. Unlike Gill I, she liked it. She says she doesn’t see it sold any more.

Mike Krukow, one of the SF Giants broadcasters, loves to say OWNAGE. If the Giant batter is 8 for 15 against the pitcher he’s facing, he’ll say that he has significant ownage on him.

I count seven junky entries. And no wordplay. I expect more on Thursday.

Rhino 8:30 AM  

I agree it should be PWNAGE. I agree VERANAED is insane. And when I saw it it was SUABLE instead of LIABLE, I audibly growled.

It was a weird puzzle and kind of clunky. Still, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

DanInDC 8:32 AM  

Wow I hated this puzzle. So many answers that were out of nowhere and really not smooth- SFPD, TABU, SUABLE, EXPM, OATER (what even is this?!), GTE, XANADUS (which is a place, so shouldn't be pluralized, am I crazy?), OWNAGE (go back to 2010), VERANDAED. This puzzle wasn't all that hard, it was just so dumb.

RooMonster 8:36 AM  

Hey All !
Rex's opening line - "This is obviously not good." - is obviously not on point. Sure, there are inconsistencies about the theme, but overall it's worplay-ey and does what it sets out to. Granted, there are troubles, VERANDAED, e.g., but I wouldn't rate puz as "Not good". It has some bright spots. See @Lewis for the highlights.

I thought it was fun. Had me stuck in a couple spots. After getting LIKESANDTHELIKE, I had an H in the second themer where the C goes, because I had T_E, and figured the themers would all follow the THE thing. (Insert game show buzzer sound here)

Some wrongness holding me up, most notably BITSTRing for BITSTREAM, causing both ETA and VEER hard to see. Other writeovers were nErd-GEEK, _rated-RETEST, GrANd-GIANT, riu-URI.

My mind boggles at how PETE Davidson keeps hooking up with these sexy women. It's definitely not his looks. Jealous? Nah...

EEKs and AWKs, oh my!


CDilly52 8:41 AM  

@hungry mother: take heart, the blurry will go away and be replaced by clarity and color! I was terrified for my first eye, but made it through and was amazed at the difference in color with the post-surgical “new” eye and the not yet corrected eye. Second eye not so scary. Best wishes!!

Nancy 8:44 AM  

If a groan is the highest compliment one can pay a pun, then I am complimenting this puzzle to death. I groaned constantly. The puzzle is absolutely wonderful in it sheer awfulness and I'm awarding it all sorts of LIKES AND THE LIKE. Such fun!

What makes the themers so good is that they are all so different in the way they incorporate their respective wordplay. The fact that I saw LIKES AND THE LIKE early on doesn't mean that I immediately spotted any of the others because I knew that one. When I saw UDDERS AND OTHERS, I laughed out loud.

And such delightful clues for non-theme answers -- like EGO TRIP, EAR, RETEST and IHOP. In fact I had so much fun that I'm forgiving the puzzle VERANDAED and OWNAGE. OWNAGE is a word???

Z 8:57 AM  

“In My Humble Opinion Pancakes” is going to be my new go to catch phrase. You just never know when OFL is going to toss off a line that makes you laugh enough to get asked “what’s so funny” and not really being able to explain why it made you laugh. (BTW - great IHOP clue, sure to make Lewis’ list).

@Anonymoose - Agreed and I was wondering the same thing. My suspicion is that the position does something to the vocal chords that helps the singer hit the high notes. I’m betting somebody here will either confirm or explain how wrong I am.

@kitshef - I had the same thought. The only thing I know about the guy is that he’s been dumped by some famous women. Joe Jackson comes to mind.

@Todd - You’re not alone.

@Anon/Poggius - The clue referenced other boxers of the 1960’s and 1970’s, not ALI’s off spring.

I didn’t hate this, but my side eye was so arched when I finished it hurt. I see many agree.

Matt Messinger 9:04 AM  

Verandaed, obviously, is crappy. However, if it paved the way for the Boston song with substitute lyrics, all is made amply amusing in my world.

G. Weissman 9:05 AM  

Clearly, there is no puzzle so poorly constructed that some commentators on this blog won’t like and defend it.

Nancy 9:10 AM  

@GILL -- I'm really, really sorry that I missed your birthday yesterday. I'll wish you a very happy belated birthday now. And I loved your comment about TABU. I probably hate it, too, only I wouldn't know. I don't know the brands of the perfumes I hate -- only that I hate them. And, yes, they always seem to be worn in the elevators where I'm unlucky enough to find myself.

@Quasi (8:25) -- One of the funniest things I've ever read on this blog. "We were young and full of life and architecturally aware..." @Quasi, you are too much! Are you really prepared to let me go to my grave without knowing who you are? Without being able to track down your Collected Works? Did Shakespeare hide his light under a bushel? Did Thurber? Please, please let me know who you are. You are such a terrific writer, truly!

JonB3 9:16 AM  

I started 10D with old oak TREE and quickly got REBUSed.

astroman 9:16 AM  

Terrible, and not helpful that I threw down the much-better COLUMNED for VERANDAED

SouthsideJohnny 9:17 AM  

Obviously the NYT staff was jonesing to satisfy their “make up words” fetish today with the obvious stinker VERANDAED and SUABLE a close second.

The real first-degree felony offense today though is the bastardization of the lowly word AWK. Seriously, that is unforgivable - and so easily rectifiable, just clue it something like “uncomfortable social situation, for short”.

I’m guessing that many (like I do) start in the NW - it seems like bad form to have the first three entries you encounter (1A, 12A and 5A all be PPP). However, the Times seems to be sparing no expense and leaving no stone unturned in their quest to solidify their position as the bronze standard of crosswords in the english speaking world.

JonB3 9:22 AM  

I started 10D with old oak TREE but got quickly REBUSed.

albatross shell 9:23 AM  

I'm must be schizophrenic or just indecisive or something, because I agree with almost everyone. Somehow either an amusing atrocity or atrocious fun. I had 75% of the grid filled in with no idea of what the theme was nor what answers were right or wrong. Spent a lot time trying to fit some combo of setters and retrievers or pointers together in an amusing way, and wondering how Aliand was ever going to form out my collection of nearly random letters, and be more than one boxer. Then I got UDDERSANDOTHERS followed by LIKESANDTHELIKE. Then I went back around deleting wrong letters, adding right ones, randomly filling up the grid correctly. Not quite the way I usually work, but easy enough if not using pen or pencil.
In this puzzle so many answers were hard to believe, and the theme obtuse to me. But each individual theme answer has its own charm. Some traditionally good stuff in the fill or had quality clues - RETEST EGOTRIP. XANADU(S) are always winners. And like Rex sorta always sez: When you go bad, go bigly bad: EXPM VERANDAED etc.
Or was that our other OFL?

The Good the Bad and the Ugly all walked into a bar...

IstudiedItalian 9:23 AM  

@Anon (Poggius) 8:16: "lei" means "she", but "Lei" means "you". Of course, they sound alike.

CDilly52 9:36 AM  

I thought this was difficult but finished in half my normal Thursday time. I guess ‘twas caused by the solve which was like my cats in the evening when they race from place to place going up and down from the chairs and bookcases.

The puzzle confused me. I knew most of the odd answers and the typical fare and had read the James Patterson “women’s murder” series thankfully. In fact, even bouncing around I got everything except the back end of the themers with no trouble. The lack of a reveal made it harder. I finally got it after RUES when I went back to look at ALIE_ALI_. Since I had just been “thinking French” I finally saw ALI ET ALII and finished in a trice.

Some cleverness as @Lewis has pointed out, and a decent Thursday theme idea. Not quite ready for prime time, maybe but certainly OK with me.

B Right There 9:41 AM  

I must have read a Patterson book or two because SFPD bubbled right up in my brain for 1A. Not sure, but I think Lindsay owned a dog? Or, maybe I'm thinking of the wrong author and character, but it still led me to the right answer. So, felt energized only to stumble again and again after that. Or so it felt. Actually came in under my average by a few minutes, but just didn't feel any 'flow' to the solve. Worked my way from the NW to SE with increasing dismay at answers and, frankly, by the time Verandaed came along I was numb enough to simply say "pfft" at Tangelo, Ownage, Retest. Will set my sights on Friday and hope.

P.S. The only go-with for Hobbs (14A) (spelled any way you want) is Calvin. Now that makes me smile, despite absolutely going gaga over Vin Diesel's voice (and looks).

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

Fire Will Shortz

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Jakew Halperin,
If you're lurking, thanks for the fun puzzle.

Last bit on rapt. You can engrossed ( a fine synonym for rapt) in something that's not all enjoyable. Were you not engrossed or rapt watching our country under attack on 9-11? I couldn't turn away from the coverage. Surely that doesn't mean I was enamored or enjoying it. No?

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

Should've said my last bit. Z will surely insist on the last word.

Sir Hillary 10:04 AM  

What a buzzkill of a Thursday. Just dreadful, for all the reasons noted by @Rex and others. The NE alone -- with CLASS[insert letter here] and [insert letter here]BEAM and SUABLE and PRE and DAS and SFPD (I hate initialisms at 1A) -- had me yelling UGH from the get-go.

@Lewis -- Your ability to always see the bright side is one of the reasons I come here. I didn't like this puzzle at all, but your post made me smile, so many thanks.

The third Boston album, released only after years of bitter fighting between Tom Scholz and the record label, was a damp squib after the brilliance of the first two. I love a good rock ballad as much as anyone, but for me "Amanda" was always schmaltz (Schmolz?). Eight years later, we named our oldest Amanda, and since then the song has taken on a kind of creepiness. All to say, @Rex's brilliant awesome parody may have me rethinking things.

QuasiMojo 10:13 AM  

@Nancy 9:10am You are too kind. The boys and girls of ABBA deserve most of the credit. I do hope to meet you in the future. But my work keeps me out of NY far too much. I work at a small non-profit and don't have a set schedule. And being of a certain age, I can't say I enjoy flying anymore. Not because I'm infirm but because it's no longer fun, what with smaller seats, emotional comfort pets and endless delays. As for who I am, I am a nobody, in the best sense as Emily Dickinson wrote about. You however are a star in my eyes with two puzzles in the NYT and more to come. Someday I hope to find a collaborator who can figure out for me how to choose a grid. I don't have a printer or the know-how how to download one even if I did. I guess that means I'm not a GEEK. Nor was I ever a TREKKIE. Does that make me Suluable? Your posts about the puzzle competition had me in stitches.

SolverinAsheville 10:21 AM  

Everyday this blog and subsequent comments bring a laugh, smile, sigh or scream.

Lewis 10:26 AM  

@sir hillary -- Thank you, sir!

Marcie 10:46 AM  

Ditto Nancy and Lewis!

Newboy 10:54 AM  

What a strange solve for today! I agree almost totally with Rex’s crabbiness, but also with the second poster Michiganman who said...
“It wasn't a pretty puzzle but I had fun solving it. OK by me.” and then I read @Lewis and find myself in total awe of his wonderful paean to Jake’s puzzlement! Can so many disparate ideas be right? Of course, the ability to hold conflicting truths in mind is better than a second graders REcess....errr....RETEST. I may never be the greatest, but today’s solve made me feel like ALIETALII.

jberg 10:57 AM  

Like Rex, I thought UDDERS AND OTHERS didn't fit the theme, since it's the only one that doesn't rhyme -- and KNOTS AND WHATNOT only works if you shift the stress in WHATNOT to the second syllable. LIKES AND THE LIKE was fine, though. I got AND THE LIKE and ET CETERA before getting the first half of either, so I was thinking maybe 'follows and the like,' or 'pointers et cetera,' but ALI ET ALII couldn't be anything else.

@Amyyanni, I had the V in 30D, so Victorian was my first thought as well -- except that those mansions are from an earlier time. I was tempted by Virginian, since many of them are, but not tempted enough to commit. So, yeah, VERANDAED.

My biggest problems were OWNing and writing in BInary at the start of 7D.

So, yeah, a few unpleasant spots -- and it would have been great if all the themers were consistent -- but still fun to solve. My only real disappointment was that the person opening the hospital bill didn't should "EEl!"

GILL I. 11:03 AM  

@Quasi...You should've seen the look on my pups after I read your ABBA ditty. Everyone says my laughter is contagious (and loud) so I'm sure my 90 year old neighbor was awakened. I can't get the picture of Cher puckering her lips singing VERANDAED.......
May I join @Nancy (thank you for the birthday wishes, amiga) and echo "terrific writer". AND FUNNY AS HELL.
Since Will seems to allow so many "new?" made up words, I want to ask this erudite crowd if a few words I've been hearing are legitimate. The other day on Judge Judy I heard someone say "Conversated" as in "He conversated with the police officer and wasn't given a citation. Judge Judy didn't bat an eye. She is the Queen of correcting grammar and speech. Not to be outdone, I heard someone on "The Doctors" use "endarkment." Can we now verbate words a little willy nilly? Just asking.
@Teresa 6:57. You might want to go back and read @Sanfranman's late post yesterday on how our OFL, @Rex has evolved over the years. It's interesting.

Amelia 11:04 AM  

@Nancy. I, too, went to one Lollapuzzoola and it might have been 2015. (I figured when you live a block away, what's the harm.) I, too, sat a table with Brad Wilbur and we did a meta together. So I'm thinking we sat together? Anyway, I had the same reaction. I have no need for speed. Everyone was certainly nice, but I didn't know them and it was kinda cliquey. (Ate lunch all by myself, no alcohol) Hard to break through and I realized that I didn't really want to do this. Funny. I went to the end of the Will Shortz thing, didn't play, I was just there to see what it was like, and to accompany my old junior high school pal, GB, back to the apartment. It looked to be about the same. I guess a certain kind of person has fun with this stuff. I am not that person.

The puzzle! It was actually bad and it was actually good and it was ridiculous and it was clever and I loved it and I hated it and this is what I have to say.

Give them credit for trying new things, whether they work or not. For going out on a veranda and jumping. Or something like that. I'd rather have a puzzle like this and groan than another goddamn Oreo clue. It reminded me of a Newsday Stumper and that's the highest compliment I got today. I have to say that when I saw the "others," I thought Ahhh! What more can you ask.

Happy belated, Gill I.

JP 11:16 AM  

I had to google PWNAGE to see what you cool kids were talking about. When I learned that it is something about video games, I resumed being happily uncool.

Swagomatic 11:26 AM  

Yeah ... no. Expm & Verandaed need to be exed. This was just ugly. I liked a couple of the jokes, but there was no consistency in the themers - and the cluing seemed off as well.

Kimber 11:34 AM  

This is one of those puzzles where I have everything except the last weird bit (A_IETALII) that I have NO IDEA what the hell it even is and I randomly hit the L figuring it seems to fit ... a pattern? And miraculously get the solve. Took me about an hour and a half (fast-ish for me).

I'm -really- not a fan of guttural verbiage like 'EEK' 'AWK' and 'UGH'.

I was PROUDER of myself for nailing EXPM than even OWNAGE (and yes, as a long-time gamer and game designer I know the proper P is appropriate, but understand that for the masses, even getting OWNAGE is acceptable).

Fun fact: The reason why it's PWNAGE is b/c when gamers would be furiously typing on their keyboards to exult in a victory the phrase OWNED would get mistyped as PWNED b/c the P is next to the O.

jb129 11:39 AM  

Dunno - I had a problem getting into & enjoying every puzzle this week. Maybe it's me but it hasn't been fun yet.

BTW - I had sex for tea 45D for the longest time.. Go figure.

dadnoa 11:45 AM  

+1.....then groaned again at expm, sueable, ihop, and threw my hands up at oater. Knew Rex was gonna flay this one. It was bad, even for a Thursday

Joaquin 11:49 AM  

@jb129 - If you had "sex" for 45*Down* there's a reason it qualifies as "bygone" for you. You're doing it wrong!

Whatsername 11:53 AM  

I didn’t hate it but have to agree it’s a tad clunky. I had written “UGH” at several of the more odious answers. My house is not antebellum and far from a mansion but VERANDAED made me think of all the possible adjectives I could use to describe it: DOORED, WINDOWED, SIDED, CHIMNEYED, YARDED, SHINGLED, PORCHED, GARAGED and DECKED, to mention a few. Got myself in a terrible bind in the NW because I had LIABLE - an actual word meaning “not legally immune” - at 26A, AGs at 4D and was reading EMT instead of ENT at 29A which made APNEA seem wrong. Also no idea who Lindsey Boxer is but finally got going with the SETTERS part of 21A. Wanted VICTORIAN at 30D which slowed me down in the lower half. On the plus side, the clues for IHOP and ETA were wonderful.

@Nancy: I agree with Quasi re your recounting of the 2015 tournament experience. As I posted yesterday, that is all I need to know about it to know it’s not for me.

Masked and Anonymous 11:55 AM  

Nutty but nice raised-by-the-wolves theme. Liked it.
suggested extra themer: NONESUCHANDSUCH.

staff weeject pick: The AWK word. Or, talk like a pirate bird word.
fave fillins included: FAKETAN (cool clue). VERANDAED [is in the official M&A Help Desk Dictionary -- passes]. XANDADUS [almost inspiration … for a set of themers like XANADUSDUES].

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Halperin.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


Karl Grouch 11:56 AM  

Flotsam and then some.

Nancy 12:00 PM  

@Amelia (11:04) -- If you were at Lolla in 2015, then we were sitting at the same table. I would not remotely remember off the top of my head that Brad Wilbur was there -- as you know, I have the world's worst memory -- but my reminiscence was written at the time, so I'm 100% sure. I'm also sure of the year, since I checked my analog datebook. I save all my old datebooks. It's what you do when you don't have a memory you can ever rely on.

If you live "a block from where the tournament was held", then we are both on the UES and no more than 11-12 blocks from each other. Too bad I can't find you -- I went to your profile and there's absolutely nothing on it at all. I was disappointed.

@Quasi (10:13) -- It's not the "choosing" of the grid that I imagine I would find daunting; it's the filling of the damn thing. All those dozens and dozens of crisscrossing letters -- often with long words attached to them. All that trial and error. I hate trial and error. Trial and error is drudgery. I hate drudgery. And I can't imagine there's an app that would do that drudgery for you.

Choosing the grid, I would imagine, would be easier -- now that the Internet has been invented. Like you, I don't have a printer and would need to buy equipment. But I have to imagine that there are apps that offer grid designs. I'm imagining that if you went to an app and said: "I need a grid that incorporates two 7-letter Across answers and two 9-letter Across answers", the app could cough one up for you. Most likely, it could come up with many possibilities -- not just one. But since I have no intention of trying to fill it, there's no need for me to go looking for a grid in the first place. Instead, I went looking for a wonderful collaborator and found one. Bet, @Quasi, if you have a nifty idea for a puzzle, you can find one, too.

NY Composer 12:05 PM  

The lamest themer I’ve seen in months., if not years. Terrible non-homonym semi rhyming theme answers. Rex is a curmudgeon, true, but in this case he let the constructor off too easily.

jb129 12:11 PM  

Thank you for your response Joaquin @ 11:49.

Not to explain but I had "Shah" first leading me to sex. Not a bad seque, Maybej move from the veranda.

I've been doing NYT puzzles for a long while but I thank you for your constructive criticism.

Leslie 12:21 PM  

Just want to ditto shade on SUABLE and VERANDAED but actually liked this puzzle a great deal. It's different; it's fun.There's definitely something about it that has inspired some of the funniest commentary in months. Spell-check does not recognize the above two words either.

What? 12:23 PM  

Some good, some bad. VERANDAED is actually a word, according to But this is no excuse for actually using it. There are lots of strange words out there (cf. Xword and Scrabble lists) that just don’t belong. Does this need explaining?

Leslie 12:28 PM  

Re @Sanfranman59 from yesterday 4:18, it's such a pity that Rex has seemingly lost his joie de vivre. What would help him get it back? Should we all send comic verse or cards or what? Seriously.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

To Z (8:57 a.m.): you must be right, and I don't know why I didn't even think of this.

To IstudiedItalian (9:23). You write as if the *lei* meaning *she* and the *lei* meaning *you* are coincidentally the same--but they are the same word. Even the capitalization is optional (according to my Garzanti, in the latter meaning "si puo' scrivere anche con la lettera maiuscula"). The dictionary goes on to explain that when addressing a male with "lei" one uses masculine adjectives (lei e' buono, signore--you are a good person, sir). I've always assumed that the reason I am addressed as "she" is because in archaic, signorial Italian a very polite form of address would be "your excellency" or "your highness" or something. Since the pronoun for the Italian excellency or highness would be feminine, the shortened address would be "she." "Would your excellency like more tea? Will she have sugar with that?"

Anon. i.e. Poggius

jae 12:40 PM  

Easy-medium? Not quite sure how tough this one was as I solved it while eating a late dinner (PB&J with Maui chips), but it seemed pretty easy.

Amusing but flawed. Liked it more than Rex did.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Rex is a professional complainer. He also wants everyone to know that if he's doing the puzzle less quickly than one might expect it's because he was distracted, or taking notes, or it's February. The clock may not tell him much but it reveals a lot about him to us. Yes, fun puzzle!

Carola 12:56 PM  

@QuasiMojo - Words fail me - because I’m laughing too hard. You and the Muse have had quite a relationship going on the last couple of days :)

I thought it was an easy puzzle, though with a few rough spots (liABLE, Victorian, BITSTRing, OWNing). I agree with @Rex about the two strong theme answers, with the others descending to the “say it isn’t so” level with UDDERS and OTHERS.

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

Are you people trying to kill me? First @Lewis's EX PM, then @kitshef's theme suggestion of SEW-ONS AND SO ON. Then @Quasi gave me the giggles to the point I had to stifle my snickers here in my open-plan office. Good stuff.

I actually liked VERANDAED but didn't care for SUABLE or OWNAGE at all. I don't know why, maybe because VERANDAED is such an outrageous coinage.

The clue for ETA (31D) was nice, as were those for IHOP (63A) and FAKE TAN (2D). I also enjoyed the clue for TEA (45A).

I struggled a lot in the central section. 39A was Dose, then DRug (which led me to try a BIT STRing at 7D) but finally VEER had to be right and ALI ET ALII led me to the STREAM and DRAM.

Jake Halperin, I really liked this puzzle, KNOTS and all, thanks.

old timer 1:21 PM  

When I finished this puzzle, I exclaimed, "This is so bad, it's good!" A meme from watching kids TV in the early 50's. Anyone know which show?

Nice to see @GILL.I channel her inner @LMS with her quip on TABU.

AWK was I think a good word for a parrot's cry.

And yeah, we SF fans know all about OWNAGE. In a few weeks my radio will be constantly tuned to Kruk and Kuyp.

Mealy M. Melly 1:42 PM  

In future puzzles, shall we be on the watch for the clue "Like many antebellum verdandas," for which the answer will be MANSIONED?

GHarris 2:16 PM  

Couldn’t finish with breakfast. Picked it up again at lunch and the theme scheme jumped out at me. Still had a dnf because I misread clue for 11d as tribute and put in ode for owe. Don’t know why answer to 2d is fake tan.

Joe Dipinto 2:16 PM  


I loved this puzzle's theme. I think Rex missed the boat. The themers' main thrust came from the final "...and more" phrases; the first parts didn't have to be exact homonyms for it to cohere.

I even liked VERANDAED – great parody, Quasi! (The inclusion of XANADUS, God of Bad Roller Disco Movies, was more troublesome.) I, like @Lewis, noticed PETE and IOWA and wished their presence had been capitalized on somehow. But overall a fun Thursday.

Take-out options may be iffy.

Bill M. 2:31 PM  

@GHarris - think of the weird looking painted on tan (I would use the word bronze instead) that people have. Similarly, just think of the way Trump always looks like an Orangutan.

sanfranman59 2:49 PM  

@Anon @ 6:25 ... That was me who lamented Rex's waning sense of humor over the years about crosswording. So I just had to post here today to say that I loved his "Amanda"/VERANDAED shtick. More of that, please Rex? ... and commensurately less hypercritical outrage over crossword answers that trigger you and vengeance-seeking for whatever mortal sin Will Shortz committed against you and/or your family

Frantic Sloth 2:58 PM  

So glad Rex hated this puzzle almost as much as I did. If the theme wasn’t sloppy enough, the fill was excruciating.

SHAW — “Fast and Furious” anything makes my teeth hurt. I realize this is a popular film franchise, but enough for common folk to get the name in the subtitle?? No.
SUABLE — I had the “BLE”, so naturally I put LIABLE, which makes more sense than a made-up word.
EXPM — @Todd, You are not the only one.
OATER — I’ve only ever seen this in crossword puzzles and it’s usually a gimme, but I’m with @American Liberal Elite on this!
OWNAGE — Another made-up word that disses another made-up word that at least has found its way into the vernacular: PWNAGE
TBEAM — If there’s gonna be a beam of any sort, it’s with an “I”.
ETA — The clue here screams for a question mark. I stared at that business a full 2 minutes trying to suss out the connection and it’s not my fault!
OHSO — Oh no. Just no.
And the winner is....
VERANDAED — Nothing new to add since it is nearly unanimous that it is a turd in the crossword punch bowl and yet another made-up word.

How many made-up words in one crossword does it take for the NYT to notice the stinkage (see? I can do it, too!) wafting from the puzzle section??

Z 3:15 PM  

@GHarris - While it could be read as a swipe at a certain individual, I took it as a play on the idea that a FAKE TAN, fools somebody into thinking one has gotten that golden tan from the sun, making it a fool’s gold.

@jb129 - I think they were just pointing out that you wrote “down” when you meant “across.”

@anon - To answer your question mark, I thought I explained the reasons pretty well last night. If you use “rapt” to describe how you watched 9/11 unfold be prepared for people to think you’re a terrorist sympathizer because that is what you are implying by using that word. That’s not what you mean to suggest? Use a different word, like “engrossed.” Synonymity does not mean interchangeability in all situations. That’s also why I initially said “not quite right” as opposed to “wrong.”

My goodness, are we at “the good ole’ days” already. I think two things are at play here. First, the more you do something and think about it the more discerning you get about what you think is good and bad. Rex has written a lot of words about the NYTX since 2006, it’s hardly surprising that his standards and expectations would be raised over that time. Second, there was a point of definitive schism between Rex and Shortz. Rex stopped submitting puzzles in order to (it seems) avoid a conflict of interest. Whether you agree with Rex’s opinions or not, he has very strong criticisms of operational aspects that clearly come across in his posts. Personally I find it all fascinating, especially since crossworld surprisingly serves as a societal microcosm. But I do understand why others don’t.

Blackbird 3:15 PM  

I truly enjoyed this puzzle. It asked to be solved, wasn't easy-peasy, wasn't impossible or difficult. I found the theme amusing. No complaints. Staleage? Overall, enough is perfectly fresh, and a few familiar clues and answers are soothing as we solve.

IstudiedItalian 3:21 PM  

Hi again Poggius (Anonymous 12:34): The origin of the word "Lei" aside, when spoken today can mean the formal form of "you" (as opposed to "tu"), depending on the context. It is why a waiter would address you that way (whether you be male or female)....with sufficient respect.

Anonymous 3:59 PM  

I post about once every two weeks but have done so twice today, and now a third time. For some reason I found this puzzle fascinating, and I am not sure why. Looking over all comments I think what I liked is that the puzzle was completely lacking in pretension. The revealers were odd--udders and others--and evoked my response: What on earth?? About this time of week puzzle constructors get clever and show off the cleverness of their themes. Unfortunately we are often left with admiration for the constructor but bewilderment over how the theme helps us solve the puzzle, or really enjoy it. This was different. I filled in crosses as best I could, pondered the "revealers" I knew, and then finally hit upon udders and others, saying, "what on earth?" Kudos to Jake Halperin.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Anonymous 4:00 PM  


Your explanation last night wasn't great. That's why I tried to help you out. But you're beyond help.
As for your gratuitous advice on what words to use: Hard pass.

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

I actually really liked the themers. I don't see Rex's problem with "Knots and what not." Oh well.

I think my biggest pet peeve is making a plural out of a word that is never, ever a plural. You get precisely one XANADU. You do not get multiple XANADUS. But maybe "XANADEUX" would be acceptable as some sort of pun-based themer. Anyway. My point is ... I don't remember.

Another friend of LMS. 4:09 PM  

I also was taken aback when Judge Judy let conversated pass. He used the word more than once, and it grated in my head.

Anonymous 4:19 PM  

Was this puzzle bad? Yes, obviously. But this review lost me when Rex pooh-poohed the idea that one should be expected to know anything about James Patterson novels. You don't get to complain about the NYT puzzle being out of touch in one breath and then in the other say it's a fault to ask about books by the world's best-selling author -- on a Thursday, no less.

There are so many legitimate faults with the puzzle on a day-to-day basis, and this isn't one of them. Let's be done with the idea that "things I don't know" = "things nobody knows" or "things that shouldn't be referenced." It's that kind of logic that's preventing the NYT puzzle from becoming anything other than overwhelmingly white, male, heteronormative, ableist, etc. etc.

Unknown 4:38 PM  

I couldn't finish this one.

Never heard of TABU. OATER? TANGELO? SUABLE? TBEAM? huh?

Cute theme I guess. I've done better on Thursday.

PapaLeroux 4:59 PM  

A fragment of a Poem

In Binghamton a grouchy Rex
a clunky crossword did decree
with Tony Blair declared an EX
Ali all tangled up with sex
and ending up Alii

Verandaed porches all around
lots of whatnots did abound
owes and awks and a pinch of Tabu
udders and others and Xanadu
we agreed with Rex - why didn’t you?

Unknown 5:22 PM  

Pete Davidsonnid adorable and if the rumors are true...

Nancy 5:23 PM  

For @Dan in DC, @M&A and @Joe Dipinto --

In Xanadus dwell Kubla Khans:
Their countless pleasure domes will please,
Where Alphs, the sacred rivers run
Through caverns (many more than one!!!)
Down to the sunless seas.

GILL I. 5:52 PM  

Best thing about this VERANDAED of a puzzle are the comments. Bring on the poets. We need more of the conversated crowd.

Jeff B. 5:55 PM  


Dan M 7:43 PM  

I actually really liked this theme. Totally disagree with Rex particularly on KNOTS AND WHATNOT, which made me think of George Wallace's twitter feed.

The fill was pretty rough, and I'm pretty forgiving of mediocre fill when the theme is good... but yeah, VERANDAED is hard to justify.

Still, had fun with this one.

Anonymous 7:55 PM  

This puzzle was great fun! Best Thursday puzzle ever! No rebus! Rex (as always) on a 42D.


Monty Boy 9:34 PM  

I liked this one just fine, warts and all. I like having a flexible language that allows odd usage that is "understandable" in the vernacular.

@HungryMother 8:50 - I had cataract surgery 15 years ago and think it's great. They asked me if I wanted my new lens to be my old glasses prescription or 20/20. I took the latter of course and use drugstore readers now.

I wear hearing aids and am eagerly awaiting "cataract" surgery for the ear. I want 20/20 hearing again.

GHarris 11:09 PM  

@Bill M
Thank you both for your takes on Fool’s gold; I still think it’s a lame answer for that clue. As to a possible reference to a certain unnamed orangutan, I’d rather not think about him.

Hartley70 12:17 AM  

I thought this was an outstanding Thursday. The theme slowed me down and made this the kind of tricky Thursday I love.

Unknown 1:47 AM  


burtonkd 9:11 AM  

Just looked up pwnage,and thought their sample sentence describing its gaming origins was fun for today:
William's pwnage in that game was complete and UTTER, (which rhymes with other and udder, apparently)

I’ve heard "Conversate" in the African American community for a quarter century, so it must not jar the ear for many people by now.

rivivieri 4:17 PM  

Sorry, there is no pocchino and never will be. And the “lei” is superfluous.

Burma Shave 10:20 AM  


“That EGOTRIP will RETEST your esteem;
it’s TABU when they’re NOT your OWNAGE!”


spacecraft 10:43 AM  

I can add little to what OFC said this time. Honestly, is this the best stuff around? I did it okay, and all that, but yikes! Had one writeover, where I finished BITSTR- off with -ing instead of -EAM.

In Syndi-time, 9d has eerie relevance. Hope everybody is staying safe and hygienic. Another double-bogey. COME ON, NYT! Get some standards!

rondo 2:18 PM  

It’s not that often that there are 6 letters in the corners, and even less frequent that they spell something. Today we have OPTICS.

I drew a square around the clue for VERANDAED figuring it would draw ire. It did.

CLARA (KLARA in Czech) Spilkova of the LPGA – best Czech woman golfer ever and definite yeah baby.

Interesting hoe OFL and @Lewis can see things OHSO differently for PETE’s sake.

Wooody2004 3:04 PM  

FAKETANned and EGOTRIPing DON(t) AND SO ON should take OWNAGE of the CHINESE virus or we'll have to to be Mirandaed.

@Spacecraft re: 9D, I always thought it was eerie or EEK-worthy when a word or words from the puzzle take on new meaning five weeks later in Syndieland. It has happened before. There should be a word for it. How about "Syndichronicity"?

rainforest 4:46 PM  

I loved the puzzle for its playfulness and ability to make me laugh. I have no idea whether there is a TBEAM, or whether OWNAGE or VERANDAED are words - they were somehow perfect in this puzzle.

All the themers were funny, and *worked*, and just kept the mirth level up. Some neato clues and decent fill throughout.

I don't know what OFA said, and I don't care. This was just a lot of fun.

leftcoaster 5:27 PM  

Lots of clever trickery here. Perfect for a Thursday with some end-of-the-week bite.

Of the themers, ALI ET ALII stands out as the center piece. NW most resistant until getting SUABLE and APNEA. Most cleverly clued: AURA, ETA, IHOP, RETEST.

Great theme and no revealer tightened the whole thing up.

Thanks for the ride, JH.

Anonymous 5:28 PM  

You probably won't see this, but the company owner told the perfumers at Dana to come up with a cologne a prostitute would wear. And that is how the forbidden fragrance was born.

Diana, LIW 8:34 PM  

Cute. A fine Thursday for me, even tho I did have to check a couple of (wrong) answers mid-way thru. Then it all fell in place.

Diana, LIW

Anonymous 11:09 PM  

Totally agree with OFL. This was a gobbledygook of made-up words and obscure clues/answers. If this is the best Will could come up with I would hate to see what was on the cutting floor.

t'Angelo 6:40 AM  

UGH. Why the cell phone love? GTE [53a. First cellular co. to offer service nationwide] Why repeat a cell phone reference for 61a. ISR? Obviously there are unlimited ways to clue ISR.

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