Optimistic maxim from Virgil / WED 2-12-20 / Lorena who was #1 female golfer for 158 consecutive weeks / parents grandparents in teen lingo / Overly optimistic 1910's appellation / Team sharing arena with Flyers informally

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Constructor: Rich Proulx

Relative difficulty: Easy (3:23, first thing in the morning)

THEME: GOD (62A: What each set of circled letters is, relative to the first word in its answer) — non-consecutive circled letters contain name of the god of [first word in the answer]. Thus

Theme answers:
  • LOVE CONQUERS ALL (17A: Optimistic maxim from Virgil) contains VENUS
  • DEATH AND TAXES (27A: Reliable things, to Ben Franklin) contains HADES 
  • THUNDERSTORMS (43A: They make loud noises during showers) contains THOR
  • WAR TO END ALL WARS (54A: Overly optimistic 1910s appellation) contains ARES 
Word of the Day: TENT SHOW (6D: Circus) —


an exhibition or performance, especially a circus, presented in a tent. (dictionary.com)
• • •

Definitely a step up from most non-consecutive-circled-letter puzzles, because of the added first-word element, but those ragged circles are still ragged circles, and finding words like that inside of long phrases just has never impressed me very much. I think the theme is good enough, but the execution has some bumpiness. You've got a very Eurocentric GOD assortment, with the Norse god really standing out like an odd duck among the Greek/Romans. Also, your revealer is just .... GOD? That's it? There has to be a better way to do this. This is one of those days when having a *title* on weekday puzzles would really really help. Then you can suggest the whole GOD thing in the title without having to spoil everything with a painfully straightforward revealer and its clunky clue. Or ... maybe this one would still need a revealer, even with a title ... but if so, it needs something better than what it's got. Also, smaller issue, but it's *THE* WAR TO END ALL WARS, and the clue for it should definitely have "with 'The'" tacked on to the end. And speaking of clunky clues—that one (54A: Overly optimistic 1910s appellation). The word "appellation" would like to object to being used in this vague, absurd way. So would "1910s." I'm sure it's hard to clue this answer without using the word "WAR," but try harder. Oh, and one more thing about themer clues: DEATH AND TAXES are "certain" (in the Ben Franklin quotation), not merely "reliable." Also also, "Ben." Why the informality. Just say "Franklin" or use his full first name, unless the shortening has something to do with the answer. Pay more attention to cluing!

Clue on TENT SHOW is bad, in that a [Circus] is a *kind* of TENT SHOW. [Circus, for one] would work. The editing has not been tight at all lately. Not that big a fan of a single ALTOID, but I guess it's fair. Better than CERT (is that the singular of CERTS?), and definitely better than, say, ARREAR. Fill gets a little ragged in places, esp. the SW (EPI ALLA ATAD REA AMO), but I very much liked BAT GUANO and SIDELONG. I guess I've heard THE OLDS before (8D: Parents and grandparents, in teen lingo), but thankfully my own teen daughter (who is, let's be clear, a big fan of giving me s***t for all kinds of reasons) has never used that horrible condescending phrase. Well, not around me, anyway :) Lost time trying to parse that phrase, and also writing in ETNA instead of OSSA (26D: Mount near Olympus) (nice sort-of GOD tie-in!). Not much else to slow me down here. Struggled most with the last answer (why does this always happen!?), which was "I MEANT" (59A: "Let me try that again ..."). Nothing in the clue suggested the act of speaking, so I had to run all the short Downs in that SW corner to finally put the final nail in this one. Overall, a qualified thumbs-up.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 6:35 AM  

Is 1910 the right date for “war to end all wars?”

Lewis 6:40 AM  

Simple, brilliant, never-before-done theme, to continue what has been a terrific theme week, with Monday's movie puns, and yesterday's flying color circus.

Embedding the god's name in a phrase or term whose opening is that god's domain? Wow.

Today, Rich, to me, you are both a backward KNOW (2D) and RATS (33D).

Hungry Mother 6:47 AM  

Very fast here also. I liked the theme and noticed it, but it didn’t help or hinder the solve. As one of the olds, I resemble that.

Suzie Q 6:55 AM  

I really enjoyed solving this. The theme answers were fun to discover.
There were plenty of things I didn't know to keep things interesting.
A few non-theme words kept me on my toes like hermetic and bat guano.
I can't see hermetic without thinking of The Great Karnak.

My only nit was mercs. How would you pronounce that and who would know what you were talking about? Brits refer to Mercedes-Benz autos as Mercs with a hard C. Yanks call a Mercury a Merc again with a hard C. Mercs for mercenaries doesn't work for me.

Now we have to put Eurocentric on the hit list? Geez, Rex.

All in all a good Wednesday.

GILL I. 6:58 AM  

WOW...Cool Beans. The GODs hiding in their apt phrases. I had to wait till the very end to appreciate the incredible conceit. All I could think of was this had to be a beast to construct. Can you find the ASS? Ha ha. I know, it's 16 letters - still.
Rich, too bad @Rex did't solve this last night after a Manhattan or two; I'm sure he would've enjoyed this a lot more. I started this last night after having a few friends over and drinking tequila sunrises but I had to go to bed and re-start this morning. I really loved your puzzle.
Since I always start at 1A, I loudly groaned at your OKRA. At least you used the word slimy. Dear Father who does art in HEAVEN. Every morning before starting Cathedral School---the Lord's Prayer.
BAT GUANA is good for your poppies.

Small Town Blogger 7:04 AM  

It’s “1910s” with an “s”

smalltowndoc 7:09 AM  

I like a theme that actually helps me with some of the fill, which was the case with this puzzle. Meaning, I got the GODs before the phrases in two cases and the additional letters made filling in the phrases that much easier.

Dave 7:11 AM  

Funny that you give it a thumbs up after all that squawking. :)

Nicole 7:13 AM  

Still disappointed 6D was not SHITSHOW

RavTom 7:30 AM  

I’m less troubled by Eurocentrism than by the lack of a cool finish. Going down, you have a Roman, a Greek, and a Norse deity. It would have been nice to have had a fourth from someplace else rather than being in another Greek. Osiris or Anubis would have worked, for instance.

kitshef 7:32 AM  

Nits today are very minor (clue for TENT SHOW, who is this RIAN person, OTS), and there are lots of positives (the theme, of course; clue for SNL; BAT GUANO, SNO CONES, NOODGE, HERMETIC).

Interesting that Rex considers THE OLDS to be a "horrible, condescending phrase". I've always felt he is very much an ageist, the way he piles on the venom when a puzzle skews older. Anyway, "old" is not an insult. Old implies experience and wisdom, and more importantly the only alternative is "dead".

pabloinnh 7:33 AM  

Got the LOVECONQUERSALL (nice to see that in its English iteration, BTW) and thought we were in for a pre-Valentine's Day theme, what with VENUS and all. Wrong again, member of THEOLDS, which, happily, was new to me.

The singular ALTOID was very familiar, since I always have them when I go to singing rehearsals ("Altoids, the tenor's best friend"), and someone invariably asks me if I have an ALTOID, which of course I do. I'm dependable.

I'm with @SuzieQ on MERCS, and for the same reasons. Also don't think of a SNOCONE as "frozen", they seem a little sloppier than that.

Very nice Wednesday, RP. Thanks for the fun.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

I loved the reference to my fav pasta.

Anonymous 7:57 AM  

I laughed as I wrote in BATGUANO, thinking of Keenan Wynn and being answerable to the Coca-Cola company.

Anonymous 8:04 AM  

Hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnall's front porch.

mathgent 8:06 AM  

Wonderful! Really enjoyed discovering the gods and their domains. A lot of admiration for the constructor in finding the four themers.

Even though the grid was clogged with 25 Terrible Threes, there was a bit of sparkle besides the themers. NOODGE, for example.

Unknown 8:36 AM  

Not sure you can whine at the Western god focus but not at the frequent biblical references we get. At least Venus is a common cultural reference. Lakshmi not so much.

I found the theme great fun but didn't use it to solve the puzzle. Just pretty.

Good words, no drek. Good puzzle.

three of clubs 8:37 AM  

Major Mayan Gods and Goddesses

Itzamna – The Ruler of the Heavens.
Ix Chel – The Mayan Moon Goddess.
Kinich Ahau – The Yucatec Mayan Sun God.
Chaac – The Mayan Rain God.
Yumil Kaxob – The Mayan God of Flora.
Yum Cimil – The Yucatec Mayan God of Death.
Yum Kaax – The Mayan God of Forests.

Might be a problem for some Eurocentric solvers

SethC 8:39 AM  

I had ***tshow, that was definitely the first thing that came to mind

JC66 8:43 AM  

Thanks @Z, because of you I plunked in SIDEeyed at 34D before SIDELONG.

Ω 8:47 AM  

Start me off with an OKRA SNOCONE and it’s going to be a climb to get to “liked it.” I loved the theme, but boy howdy, some of that fill makes me feel young. And let me suggest that SNO CONES is not worth keeping if 1A/1D has to be OKRA/OSLO. Getting the SIDELONG side eye to start is not a good idea.

Besides Isis the Egyptians are going to be hard to fit into a 15 letter phrase. Kali might work from the Hindu pantheon. I’m not familiar enough with African gods to make a suggestion. So all the plaints about this particular set of deities is unreasonable in my book. It’s a great set of theme answers.

Two thirds of the X answers are fine, but SOX/AXELS has a faint whiff of scrabblef$@¥ing.

@kitshef - “Old” may not be condescending, THE OLDS most certainly always is.

@Anonymous8:04 - My first thought. And quite possibly the only time I ever heard HERMETICally used.

CanaDON 8:54 AM  

I MEANT was my big problem as well . And totally forgot about the REO Speedwagon . Fun fact , REO was not pronounced as an initialism (as with the rock band ) but as a single word for the original car.

Nancy 8:54 AM  

This must have been a real "Eureka" moment for the constructor -- finding wonderfully strong and important phrases like LOVE CONQUERS ALL, DEATH AND TAXES and WAR TO END ALL WARS into which the GODS of the first word could all be embedded. (THUNDERSTORMS, not so much. Maybe he even said RATS to that one.)

Unfortunately, this is another example of a puzzle in which the constructor's "Eureka" moment doesn't necessarily translate into the solver's "Aha" moment. Randomly placed tiny little circles embedded in long answers have never much interested me. They're both arbitrary and oh-so-easy to ignore completely. I paid them no mind until after I'd finished solving.

Once I had finished solving I did, like @Lewis, admire the clever relationship between the first word and the embedded GOD. But while I was solving, I regret to say that that construction feat did nothing for me at all.

OldCarFudd 9:09 AM  

I enjoyed this. One observation from a car guy, that I wonder if the constructor realized: THE OLDS could refer to Ransom Eli Olds, who built the REO in 56D.

SouthsideJohnny 9:12 AM  

Wow, a (qualified) “thumbs-up” from OFl. There’s something that you don’t see every day. Remarkably gunk-free for a change. I wish we could say that more often. A bit of a nit with the clue for “EPI” (which references nurses) - isn’t an epipen generally carried by someone with severe allergies in case of an emergency ? I wonder what percentage of epipen doses are administered by nurses.

The RIAN and ROALD dudes seem a little “out of the mainstream” for my tastes, but maybe that is just a wheelhouse thing.

Didn’t care for today’s foreign entry (AMO) - although it appears in the Times with sufficient frequency that it is now at least recognizable.

Note - potential retro spoiler alert. One of yesterday’s constructors indicated that they originally had a perfectly acceptable clue for DEBIT before the NYT editors bastardized it.

webwinger 9:22 AM  

Very fast and easy for a Wednesday, but I completely overlooked the 3-letter revealer, and did not appreciate the specific first word / god name connection. Somehow I did not know that HADES was a god’s name; only associated that word with the underworld itself, so the circled letters references seemed very loose until I came here. Like the theme much more now, actually seems pretty tight.

No idea what Z 8:47 and Anonymous 8:04 are talking about re HERMETIC mayo, but like Anonymous 7:57, I instantly recalled Col. BAT GUANO from Dr. Strangelove, a truly brilliant cameo performance in a truly brilliant movie. (BTW, Anonymice, how about trying a little harder and coming up with real fake noms-de-blog? Would be very helpful in recognizing the voices of some apparently regular contributors.)

Could Amy Klobuchar be the great woman hope?

QuasiMojo 9:27 AM  

For me the circus was Madison Square Garden. No tents. We went every year although I went for the acrobats not for the clowns. No complaints today even if I have no idea who Eva is nor Rian. And Gawk before Gaze slowed me down. It was all gettable and I liked the semi-invisible gods. And olden tone. I'm one of the OLDS (but not a REO.) Does anyone know how to pronounce the constructor's last name? You may recall Annie Proulx who write "Brokeback Mountain." I could never figure out how to say it properly.

Pablo 9:28 AM  

I enjoyed this, but of course I have some bones to pick. For one, I'm less impressed with mythology themes and clues in general. When a particular topic comes up this much you start wondering if you should study up on it. Then you realize you'd be studying for crosswords, which is absurd. Then you go back to wondering why they reuse topics to the point of making people think they should study up on them.

"The Olds" is definitely a condescension, and more a Gen Z thing than a millenial thing. Blame it on teenage angst and don't get too fussy about it. The things I thought about my own parents even 6 years ago at age 20... don't take it personally they'll come back around.

Overall I liked solving this. Very doable. Just a little bland imo because I'm just not that excited by a random assortment of Gods in my puzzle.

Bones to pick:
-EMO, Fall Out Boy as a clue for this entry is a bit of an eye roll. More apt choices are Hawthorne Heights, AFI, My Chemical Romance. Fall Out Boy is first and foremost alternative or pop punk.
-DEATHANDTAXES are certain, and I think the distinction matters
-SIDELONG is valid but definitely outside of my normal vernacular
-AMO and REO next to each other was tough for me at least, but the crosses were more than fair so no foul

Really enjoyed SNOCONES, SOX, and BATGUANO. Nice puzzle overall.

Nancy 9:30 AM  

Re: "THE OLDS". I don't remember the circumstances, but I do remember my mother, perhaps when she was in her 70s, suddenly (and uncharacteristically) venting her spleen: "I HATE the term 'Senior Citizen'!!! I just hate it!!! Call me "old", but don't call me that!!!

I was completely taken aback by her vehemence. "Senior Citizen" seemed perfectly fine to me. But she found it patronizing and euphemistic.

Now that I'm around the age that she was then, maybe older, Senior Citizen has become ubiquitous as a term and I find it a pleasant enough euphemism. But 'old" is fine with me, too. And, as @kitshef so trenchantly reminds us, the alternative to "old" is "dead".

Still, I don't like "THE OLDS". It seems snarky. A put-down. The kind of thing a superior-feeling younger person would say. I wouldn't kick it out of the puzzle -- I don't believe in censoring any words or names in a puzzle -- but I would clue it in a way that indicates it's a denigrating term.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

i assure you in Philadelphia. Franklin is always Ben. From the Ben Franklin Bridge in the east to the statue of Ben in front of College Hall in West Philly, he is always called Ben. Why? Dunno. Maybe it's his avuncular visage. Maybe because he so clearly loved life. Whatever the reason. The informality fits. It's stuck for over 250 years. You should;d keep your trap shut about things you clearly don't anything about.

Yesterday I invited mathgent to the Rodin museum in the city of brotherly love. I'll extend the same offer to you today; I can show you a dozen or more sites where Franklin is called Ben. .

Proud Alumnus of that little school Ben founded in 1740*

Crimson Devil 9:41 AM  

Very enjoyable puz.
Love NOODGE, a great word.
Attagal SuzieQ, loved reference to the great Karnak, all-seeing character.

Colby 9:43 AM  

Has anyone used NOODGE or THE OLDS in the 21st century outside of crossword puzzles? Also, MERCS is terrible-- literally no one uses this abbreviation. The THUNDERSTORMS answer bothers me as well-- thunder makes noises during thunderstorms-- a thunderstorm is, by definition, showers with thunder. As a younger solver, this puzzle felt very dated.

Canon Chasuble 9:48 AM  

This puzzle was nothing but a pleasure from start to finish. Eurocentric Gods? Why not? References to The classics? Great. No garbage clues? Terrific. It proves the puzzle can be on a higher level than usual: no junk clues, no junk answers. Thank you, thank you.

jberg 9:57 AM  

My trouble with circles (Hi, @Nancy!) is that I tend not to notice them -- this time, I was about 1/3 of the way down when I did, and had to go back to LOVE CONQUERS ALL and try to figure out where they were, since my lettering tends to cover them up. (Time for cataract surgery, maybe?) Once I did, I was annoyed by the presence of THOR among all those Greco-Romans, but then I got the revealer and was willing to excuseit. (BTW, as I read @Rex, that was his point -- that they didn't come from the same mythology, so the only thing uniting them was Eurocentrism.) Also, as Nancy said, we have three quotations that have become sayings, and one weather phenomenon.

Then in the non-themers we have HEAVEN, an Asian Zodiac animal (RATs) and Venus's son -- that's A MORAY. Could be neater.

All those Xs, a Q, a Z -- I was really hoping for a pangram (unlike Rex, I admire them), but no F, no J - I stopped looking after that.

The hardest part for me was trying to fit in the initial THE at 54A; second hardest was guessing the meaningless name of a long-defunct Pontiac.

Gio 10:06 AM  

We used to call my dog The NOODGE,because he would keep pushing your hand with his nose to get you to pet him. RIP Andy AKA The NOODGE.

Carola 10:12 AM  

Very nice - and even more so after reading @Rex: I’d only associated the GODs with their complete phrases and hadn’t seen the first-word connection (the reveal had been filled in by Downs). After detecting VENUS, I wasn’t sure if we’d be proceeding with planets or gods, but HADES quickly settled that question, making THOR and ARES and their phrases very easy to write in. The reminder of Hermes in HERMETIC was nice, too,

CDilly52 10:12 AM  

What fun!! The only down side to this puzzle today was that it was so dang easy that I was finished and didn’t have time to savor the solve. Good thing was that my cats and I overslept so I was in a hurry slurping my (not yet sufficient) coffee and the quick solve got me to work not hideously late. Clever and well executed theme. Seems like @Rex was struggling a bit to find things to criticize. And he somewhat grudgingly praised (or damned with faint praise? I can’t tell sometimes) it.

Super fast Wednesday for me - less than a minute more than my average Monday (admittedly not even close to competition times, but I don’t compete.

This has been a good week so far.

pmdm 10:14 AM  

I thought this puzzle was pretty much on the level of Tuesday difficulty, for various reasons. Perhaps mostly because the theme answers were (for me) all easy to guess.

Most, like myself, seemed to have liked the puzzle. The criticisms expressed here and there seem to me more like nits than anything. I neither notice or care whether a set of gods has some consistent quality. For me, looking for that quality would only ruin the fun of solving (I emphasize for me). If I don't stop at this point, I may write something that could seem snarky, which I don't mean to do.

Casual Observer 10:15 AM  

How is it possible to find an answer with the god known to most, not euro-centric, and still lfit the theme? That would be way too hard. Nigh impossible? How could anyone be so arrogant to even suggest it? How, I ask you, How?

Well, you try. You use the tools available. You think of SHIVA, the leader of evil devils. You puy *S*H*I*V*A* into Word Finder and it spews out SCHEMING VILLAIN. And you're done. SHIVA is the god of scheming. Takes about a minute, start to finish.

Oh, you didn't know that about SHIVA? I thought you liked to learn things, new things. That's what you're always encouraging @Rex to do, isn't it?

@Colby - Everyone who's ever used the phrase "THE OLDS" has used it in the 21st century. And they do use it. Mercenaries are called MERCS. IRL.

@Anon 9:38 as someone who's visited Philadelphia, I'm happy to report that Philadelphia is but a small part of this country. What happens there is not what happens everywhere else. Most of us don't boo Santa Clause.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

@Ravtom, what would be a saying that would contain both the god and realm with Osiris or Anubis?

Suzie Q 10:17 AM  

@ webwinger, Back at 6:55 I hinted at an old Johnny Carson skit where a hermetically sealed mayo jar was part of his intro. Sorry if that was too obscure but I see a few folks got the joke. Loved that character.

Paul Harrington 10:18 AM  

THE OLDS is a phrase the olds think young people use.

OffTheGrid 10:19 AM  

@Nancy. I totally share your mother's opinion about "senior citizen".

MERCS. How did that clue even get considered, let alone used. It's a non-thing. How about "Former Ford products, briefly"? It works and meshes with REO and GTOS in the puzzle. Mercury also a god.

(Note for non-car people. Mercuries were made for many years by the Ford Motor Co. and were often referred to as MERCS.)

Ω 10:27 AM  

@JC66 - You’re welcome.

@webwinger and other non-senior citizens - It’s from an old Johnny Carson Skit, Carnac the Magnificent. I just picked the first one to come up, watch two or three more to get a real sense of what’s going on. Part of the humor is in both the repetition of elements and in the groan-inducing quality of the jokes.

@Pablo - If you read any literature whatsoever a firm grounding in mythology is useful. In movies, Marvel movies, Harry Potter, and Star Wars all have fairly well established basis in mythology. But the classicists I follow on Twitter spent days comparing The Irishman to the Iliad. I picked movies because they are more widely known, but everything from Where the Wild Things Are to The Old Man and the Sea to probably half of this week’s best seller list echo mythological themes and motifs. Besides, lots of the tales are just fun in their own right. Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf and Emily Watson’s translation of The Odyssey are just plain old good reads. So don’t do it for crosswords. Do it for the love of reading.

@Colby - NOODGE is firmly lodged in The Three Stooges region of my brain. THE OLDS is pretty current, though.

RooMonster 10:34 AM  

Hey All !
Alas, as @jberg 9:57 points out, no F's! Poor little guys. Also, @jberg, GTOS made a bit of a comeback, 2004-2006, which I guess still makes them sorta-long-defunct. But not as long as the 1964-1974 ones. How is 2006 14 years ago? Oof.

Anyway, liked this GODs hidden in the phrases that starts with what they're GODs of. Pretty neat. No objections to THUNDERSTORMS as an outlier for me.

NOODGE is a fun word. For the eggs clue, wanted AA GRADE or somesuch. ONE DOZEN, OK, unless you're buying a pack of 18. 😀

Maybe I watch too many movies (probably), but MERCS was a known thing to me. (And it is a Hard C.) BAT GUANO funny, as I just watch the second Ace Ventura movie yesterday, which deals with such things. KNOW as a radio station? OK, didn't KNOW that. DO IT UP, six ketter partial. Usually frowned upon by Will. At least for me. 😋

Funny how RIAN is clued as if we all just said, "Of course, Director Johnson. Who else could it be?"

___TSHOW, har.

Happy Year of the RAT.


Newboy 10:37 AM  

Skipped early puz as too easy after mentally filling in random longish gaps this week, but OKRA sucked me right on in today. I see OFL’s quibbles & and accurate assessment as “ Overall, a qualified thumbs-up.” I loved VENUS, was killed by HADES, warred against ARES and of course thundered at THOR! I really wanted a killer KRISHNA or something as others have posted above. I can’t gripe too much about a Eurocentric grid since that is my 23&me certified 99.7% heritage, but GOD how I wanted A TAD more subtlety than the 3 letter stacks top and bottom provided. Anyhoo, thanks Mr. Proux for intriguing me enough to head on over to xwordinfo for constructor notes—hope to see your byline again soon.

What? 10:46 AM  

Nice and pretty easy.’After 27A and 43A , the circles were filled easily and then the rest just rolled along. My only objection is that I finished it during breakfast and had nothing to do during morning coffee. I resorted to reading the news which ruined my day - it takes me awhile to steel myself, usually by 4 or so, after a stiff drink.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

casual observer,
Yeah, Eagles fans booed Santa. And he deserved it. Traditionally, The Eagles paraded Santa around Franklin Field ( yeah the stadium at the school founded by Ben Franklin)at their last home game of the season. That year, (I believe it was `68) The Santa they hired was a no-show. So the Eagles brass pulled a guy out of the stand who was wearing a rather shabby Santa outfit. Mind you the 68 eagles were grotesque and this two-bit third rate St. Nick was the last straw. The boos were the least of it, the fans pleted the old elf with snowballs.
So, if you're going to condemn the city, at least know what you're talking about.

As for Philly being but a small part of the world. Well, yes. So what? It's Franklin's town, through and through. And the people here rightfully claim him as theirs. And they call him Ben.

Amelia 10:51 AM  


Noodge is from the Yiddish. Jews like me (and not like me) use it ALL the time.

Rastaman Vibration 11:00 AM  

I don’t understand the whole “euro-centric” discussion. Is the issue really that all of the theme entries are mythological figures that originated somewhere in Europe?

Are we really calling for “diversity” in the inclusion of the fictional characters in the crossword puzzle? There are only four of them - even if we tried to include one from every CONTINENT - at least three continents would feel discriminated against.

Hopefully I am missing something.

xyz 11:04 AM  

Awkward and inconsistent, not the most fun I'm shocked Rex liked it, he must have just written in the quotes.

Fund of knowledge sync does not excuse the crummy fill nor make a good puzzle.

Wharton Grad 11:20 AM  

Sounds like the Casual Observer got up on the wrong side of the bed today. Doesn’t seem very casual either.

Love Philly CheeseSteaks, the Monet collection at the museum, and the short drive to the Jersey Shore. Detest the Phillies, Eagles and Fliers. Did enjoy going to the Sixers games just to see how many the DOCTOR had.

It seems like a bit of an atrocity that three of the four theme entries are male. The fact that they are so tone deaf that they didn’t think to include 50% mythology goddesses empirically demonstrates just how rigged, prejudiced and unfair our society continues to be.

Ω 11:34 AM  

@Rastaman Vibration - When does an observation (all Rex did today) become a call for change? Your question made me reread Rex and all he did today was say the theme was “bumpy” and then point out that the GODs were euro-centric and one of the four was from a different tradition. Given Rex’s repeated calls for more diversity, it is certainly fair to read these observations as a criticism, but today that criticism is just implied, not explicit. I think that three are Greek/Roman and one is Norse is a bigger issue than that they are all from Europe. I’d also enjoy a theme set that got Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas involved, but that doesn’t make this set bad. If someone managed to include an Antarctic GOD... well, that would be amazing.

@Colby9:43 - Had the same thought. If there is THUNDER with no rain is it a THUNDERSTORM? “Showers” with THUNDER are not always THUNDERSTORMS. If the weatherman predicts THUNDERSTORMS I am expecting more than just showers. I cannot quite wrap my head around that clue/answer pair. I’m usually pretty good at seeing how the stretched meaning makes a clue work, this one just seems off.

Joe Dipinto 11:39 AM  

@pabloinnh 7:33 – please return the Alto I.D.'s to the members of the alto section, they're looking for them. And don't steal them again in the future.

Like @Colby 9:43 said, what's up with that idiotic THUNDERSTORMS clue? The storm *is* the shower. The clue would be fine if "thunderclaps" were the answer, but as it is, no.

All I'm sayin's I'm not ready
For any person place or thing
To try and pull the reins in on me

rextorturer 11:46 AM  

What's wrong with "Eurocentric"? Does everything have to be super inclusive these days?

Music Man 11:52 AM  

Me too!

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

@Wharton 11:20. Nice satire.

BFP 12:01 PM  

I agree that WWI was THE war to end all wars (WWII - THE BIG ONE, was the war after that). I didn’t think to count the countries or the genders of the theme entries - it does seem like a blatant disrespect to the roughly 2 or 3 billion people for whom their gods, goddesses and other (made-up) quasi-historical figures are underrepresented due to their gender identity or country of origin.

Was REO Speedwagon really a car? If so, that would be so cool.

NOODGE sounds like something one of THE OLDS would call you when you don’t want to take out the trash.

jb129 12:10 PM  

Liked this a lot :)

Malsdemare 12:11 PM  

Nice one! Pretty much Wednesday hard and the theme was fun. Complaining about Eurocentrism is a reach. Yeah, it’s possible to find gods in Asia, Africa, South America, but find phrases that work with the theme can't be easy. Solid, unqualified thumbs up from me.

I call my in-their-forties children and grands 'the kids." Why would THE OLDS be worse? I can see where in the right context it’s condescending, but then we hear "kid… used in a patronizing manner all the time. I just can't get worked up about it.

jae 12:41 PM  

Easy. Pretty darn clever with some fine theme answers, liked it. Jeff gave it POW.

SIDELOok before LONG was my only erasure.

Masked and Anonymous 12:42 PM  

yep. Works good for m&e. This puppy almost had me, at The Circles.
Another possible themer: GODINCHARGE. Could use instead of the revealer somehow, maybe, I dunno.

Most interestin fillins [in various ways]: BATGUANO. THEOLDS. DOITUP. NOODGE. MERCS. HERMETIC [Ooh, day-um … almost made it, Hermes!].

staff weeject pick: ESQ. Like @Roo, this raised the hope for an all-out scrabble-twerkfest, but … nope. Better ESQ = {What you can sorta see coming next, with ESP??}.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Proulx.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


gilly 1:04 PM  

Liked this puzzle a lot: straightforward idea pretty cleanly executed, with some fun slightly misdirectional clues appropriate to have to hurdle on a hump day.

But how can the clue for REO include “Old” when THEOLDS is in the puzzle as an answer? I get the play on “Old” in the REO clue, and sort of like REO in a puzzle that also has THEOLDS. But, by god, why not clue REO as [Bygone auto with its founder's monogram]?

Rex is right: more attention to clues, please.

Teedmn 1:09 PM  

A very nice puzzle today, with CIRCAles! I liked that DOG crossed GOD in the bottom, perhaps a tie-in with the Westminster Dog Show?

KNOW is the Minnesota Public Radio station located in St. Paul. My husband listens to it non-stop so it made me chuckle that I didn't realize it was our station until I read it out as call-letters. Oh, K-N-O-W, hah!

Nice job, Rich Proulx.

McArdle 1:20 PM  

Agreed completely. It should have been four from one pantheon or four different panthea. Suddenly going back to Greece felt wrong. If Osiris is just too hard to fit, how about Ra? Surely you can get an R and an A. SUN UMBRELLA?

McArdle 1:24 PM  

Merc for mercenary seems pretty common to me. Hard C. There used to be a guy in my neighborhood who drove a Mercedes sedan with a Blackwater sticker on the back. Never met him in person , but we called him the Merc in the Merc.

old timer 1:26 PM  

I'm with the Rev. Chasuble on this one. A delightful puzzle, with outstanding themers, and a joy to solve. @Rex is a poopyhead, as this OLD used to hear from some of his (very) young.

But I have to respond to @pabloinnh. Surely he knows that fine song from The Fantastix about ALTOIDs:

They're dependable
They're befriendable
They're the best pal a singer's ever had

But with progeny
It's hodgepodgeny
Just as soon as you think you know the kind you've got
That's what they're not.

(You know, those two dads in The Fantastix are perfect examples of THEOLDS, aren't they?)

McArdle 1:30 PM  

My mom says NOODGE all the time, but she is, after all, one of THE OLDS.

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

BPF - The REO Motor Car Company built cars and trucks from 1905 to 1936, and just trucks for many decades afterward. The Speedwagon was a popular REO truck.

Joaquin 1:49 PM  

@Malsdemare (12:11) mentioning using "kids" for 40-year-olds reminds me of the time my father told me, "The kids are coming over later." I assumed he was speaking of his great-grandchildren who lived close by. Nope. He was talking about his daughter and son-in-law, both in their 70s at the time.

And it seems like only yesterday we were told, "Don't trust anyone over 30." Now, the man who coined that phrase (Jack Weinberg) is 79; definitely one of THE OLDS.

oldactor 2:04 PM  

What really bugs me is when someone refers to me as 87 years young.
I always protest. NO, it's OLD! I"m 87 years OLD. I'm damned proud of those years!
Maybe if you'e lucky you'll get here.

Joe Dipinto 2:07 PM  

@old timer –

Children, I guess, must get their own way
The minute the Olds say "no"

Ω 2:23 PM  

Pictures of a 1923 REO Speedwagon along with an article with more information than I wanted.
Speaking of which, @gilly - I missed that clue/answer dupe. Definitely sub-optimal.

@malsdemare - I don’t think anyone is all that worked up about THE OLDS. My usual (silent) reaction to some noob being condescending is “I was once naive like you.”
BTW - yes, “noob” used condescendingly. We OLDS still hold the World Condescension Title.

@Casual Observer 10:15 - Seems like everyone missed you showing how to come up with themers that include other GODs.

Over my limit, but I thought a picture of a REO was worth it.

Klazzic 2:41 PM  

Rexie, "old" boy: after reading your nit-picky and sometimes blistering critique, I spit out my coffee when you concluded, "Overall, a qualified thumbs up." I'd hate like hell to read a review that was thumbs down. LOL

Casual Observer 2:48 PM  

@Z - When it doesn't fit with your narrative, it doesn't exist.

wrivz 2:56 PM  

Thrown off on most of the early ones - had FED (up) instead of ATE for 5A, CUSTARDS instead of SNOCONES for 14A, and, because I imagine I'm closer to teen years than the constructor, had BOOMERS instead of THEOLDS for 8D. Both now-less-common teen parlance, but at least BOOMERS (as in OK Boomer) had a more recent shelf life.

pabloinnh 3:02 PM  

Hey @old timer-Nice work, and glad the Altoids inspired such a fine tribute. Love The Fantastics, especially since it contains one of my theme songs "Try to remember.... (everything)".

@JoeD-Good call on the Alto I.D.'s, but since I keep these in the tenor section, we refer to them as "Tenoids". Problem evaded/eluded, which reminds me I'm still looking for a rehearsal time. I'll bring the Tenoids.

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

@casual observer
Har!! Didn't you ignore my post which schooled you on the Santa episode and why Ben is the proper way to refer to Franklin? talk about lack of appreciating a narrative. Sheesh.

Casual Observer 4:03 PM  

@Anon 3:09 - You're the guy show said " Eagles fans booed Santa. And he deserved it."? You're the guy who defended booing Santa? After you explained that the Eagles management screwed up in hiring a pro Santa who never showed up, then forced some schlub who actually paid to watch the game to step in for the guy who didn't show up? You defended booing that guy? You defended throwing snowballs at the guy who was forced to filled in for the guy who didn't show up? That's how you schooled me? Man, am I embarrassed.

So you're say that it's Ben, it's always Ben. Not as an informality, which is what you railed against Rex saying, but Ben. The formal name is Ben. The actual name of the bridge is the Ben Franklin Bridge. Screw everyone who thinks its actual name is the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. That including the Delaware River Port Authority, which operates it. They know everyone refers to it casually as the Ben Franklin, they just don't know that you changed its name officially. Also, do you remember that song, "It's all about the Bens" by Puff Daddy? Man, that was some great stuff. And the movie, "It's all about the Bens"? Ice Cube at his best. And Eva Mendes, damn!

Anoa Bob 4:34 PM  

After getting slimed once again on these pages, I must come to the defense of one of my favorite veggies, OKRA. We grew it in our garden when I was a kid. It was a staple at our table and we all loved it, even THE OLDS. Garden fresh slices dipped in an egg wash, rolled in seasoned corn meal and fried in a skillet with about 1/4 inch pig fat until crispy, are heavenly, food for the GODs and GODesses.

I'll take OKRA over SNO CONE and BAT GUANO any day.

Ω 7:15 PM  

@Anoa Bob - But would you want an OKRA SNO CONE in OSLO?

@Casual Observer 4:03 - Mercy Rule after the first paragraph. Second was just piling on.

Kathy 8:12 PM  

Today’s comments were a hoot!

Alto IDs
Carnac the Magnificent
World Condescension Title
But the best....boomer (as in OK boomer)

CDilly52 9:24 PM  


Anonymous 9:36 PM  

Yeah. The Eagles were one of the wirst teams in the NFL that year. The Santa they picked was their repsentative.
I fully know the formal name of the bridge. The issue is usage. And it is always Ben not benjamin.
You should br chagrinned. You dont know what youre talking about

Monty Boy 12:19 AM  

I'll chime in as the last comment (maybe). Like most, I enjoyed this one a lot. My only nit:

Rasp to me is a coarse file and does not scrape, like a putty knife would. Scrape isn't the word for what a rasp does.

Regarding THEOLDS: When I got my flu shot this year, the nurse told me they have a special version for the "elderly." I'm 75 and didn't know I am elderly. It's not an insult, but I think that term is for old people and I'm not old yet. Maybe 80 or 85?

Uncle Poodle 1:13 AM  

Now that’s comedy!

Vic 6:34 AM  

The intersection of GOD and DOG was pretty amusing. Pretty fun Wednesday.

spacecraft 10:53 AM  

Things are looking up. A nice theme, fairly dense, that works on two levels--and filled better than can be expected. I don't even mind the circles! And what better DOD than the circled VENUS, as in Williams? Birdie. No wait: there are my SIXERS: make it an eagle!

Burma Shave 11:27 AM  


IMEANT if VENUS enthralls, then HADES ain’t your GOD.


rondo 12:22 PM  

Now the selection of GODs isn’t diverse and inclusive enough? When will such nonsense end?

OLE and no Sven. The four corners today gets us SONS.

I saw Lorena OCHOA play in person when at the peak of her career, CIRCA 2006. Yeah baby.

Kind of excessive with the THREES (25?), still good.

Diana, LIW 1:24 PM  

My study of Greek deities is paying off. Can the Periodic Table be far behind? You decide.

As I asked the other day - is anyone else planning on flying in the next month or so?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting on the tarmac of life

rainforest 2:31 PM  

@Lady Di - earlier this week I cancelled a trip to Mexico. In about a month I'm thinking of flying to Toronto (from Vancouver) to see my grand kids, but I'll hold on to see whether it is a good idea for me and for them, re COVID 19.

I liked this puzzle just fine with the theme of circled GODs referenced to what they are GODs of, although the revealer was a bit of a let-down.

I think you'd have to be very careful if you want to harvest BAT GUANO to use as fertilizer, but you do you (to quote @Z).

Good theme, decent fill, good clues and interesting entries. Third pretty good puzze to get us into the end of the week.

leftcoaster 3:19 PM  

I think Rex makes some good points about the clueing here, and I also found the SW corner to hold things up a bit. But I like the puzzle and its theme, which made it easier than expected, and enjoyed it.

But...must confess to a one-square error, and say only that it was a dumb one.

strayling 11:04 PM  

Loved it. The theme took me on a fun deduction ride (I generally start at the top-left, and I expect most people do, so was this intentional? If so, Bravo! to the compiler)

Anyway, here's how it went.

17ac: VENUS ... Easy, it's planets
27ac: HADES ... Ok, maybe deities, then? No you never cross the Pantheons.
43ac: THOR ... Or maybe that's the theme?
54ac: ARES ... Nope, back to Greek. Oh well, it was fun anyway.

I see that Rex misunderstood a clue in an amusing way. He complained about 54ac, saying that it should be THE WAR ..., and also that "appellation" was an odd word to use.

Appellation literally means dropping the THE.


The appellation is the part in all-caps.

Pedantic and easily amused, that's me.

Stay well, all you Syndicats.

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