German appliance brand / WED 3-4-20 / Dweller along Bering Sea / Major city of west central Syria / Hartz collar tag

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Constructor: Tracy Gray

Relative difficulty: Challenging (over 5?)

THEME: ONE UP (69A: Outdo ... or a hint to entering four answers in this puzzle) — themers look like nonsense in the grid because the letters "NE" aren't there. Turns out this is because the letter string "ONE" in each themer is actually turned "UP" ... so the "NE" extends upward from the "O" and then, back at themer level, the answer continues as usual...

Theme answers:
  • ZO(NE)DEFENSE (the "NE" are part of ENOLA) (18A: Strategy used in basketball and football)
  • HOW O(N E)ARTH (the "NE" are part of ENOUGH) (33A: Exclamation of surprise)
  • TATUM O'(NE)AL (the "NE" are part of ENOCH) (45A: "Paper Moon" Oscar winner)
  • CLAUDE MO(NE)T (the "NE" are part of ENOKI) (60A: "Water Lilies" painter)
Word of the Day: HAMA (47A: Major city of west-central Syria) —
Hama (Arabicحماة‎ Ḥamāh[ħaˈmaː]Syriacܚܡܬ‎ Ḥmṭ"fortress"Biblical HebrewחֲמָתḤamāth) is a city on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria. It is located 213 km (132 mi) north of Damascus and 46 kilometres (29 mi) north of Homs. It is the provincial capital of the Hama Governorate. With a population of 854,000 (2009 census), Hama is the fourth-largest city in Syria after Damascus, Aleppo and Homs. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one was unpleasant from beginning to end, for a host of reasons. The worst thing about it, though, was not the puzzle's fault—because the worst thing about it was that it's a Thursday puzzle posing as a Wednesday. This level of trickiness, where solvers get answers that look like garbage until they realize "oh, there's this bizarre trick," that's Thursday territory. No way am I looking for something this rule-breaking on a Wednesday. I lost so much time not understanding why the themers were gibberish—time I *never* would've lost on a Thursday, when I would have been *expecting* some kind of gibberish-explaining trickery. Don't slot Thursday puzzles on Wednesday; it's annoying, and kind of a violation of a tacit agreement between solver and puzzle, i.e. you can come at me with trickery all you want on Thursdays and Sundays. But on Wednesdays ... well, there better be good, clear reason for the trickery. Expecting me to make sense of gibberish is really too much to ask. And that's where this puzzle loses me entirely, actually: the gibberish. Even if this puzzle *had* run on a Thursday, I just can't get happy about having had to stare at HOWOARTH for literally any amount of time. It's so awful. It's such a not-good puzzle feeling. Finally (and I mean almost literally "finally") getting ONE UP did not make me think "oh, that was worth it." Not even close. Your tricks should delight. Even if they frustrate at various points along the way, there should be a playfulness that makes one happy to be along for the ride. Having a puzzle where you go from "that's nonsense" to "why in the world are they just removing NE from these answers?" to "that's it?!" ... I don't understand what's fun about any of that. HOWOARTH. That is my takeaway from this experience. HOWOARTH. I like the puzzle about as much as I like the fact that HOWOARTH is somehow a correctly entered answer in this grid. You gotta stick that revealer landing way, way, way better if you want to pull off grid gibberish, is what I'm saying.

Dislike the highly sequestered NW / SE corners, and especially the SE, where the revealer is, and where the other Acrosses were not exactly easy, and where I had OAT instead of NUT at 65D: Trail mix bit. When the corners are so cut off ... there's no air. Nowhere to go. It's claustrophobic and aesthetically unpleasing. Also aesthetically unpleasing: MISACTS (?), a word said by no one. Also FB STATUS, what? That is a stretch. Really dislike it. But then I really dislike "FB" in general, and all answers associated with it, so that answer never really had a chance with me. I've never heard of MIELE (20A: German appliance brand), a "brand" which appeared in the NYTXW once in 2013 but then you gotta go back literally 50 years before you find its next previous appearance. When I saw this clue, I wanted ... what's that brand? ... KRUPS, maybe? I don't know, but it sure wasn't MIELE. Also never heard of HAMA (47A: Major city of west-central Syria). Maybe because it's been 34 years (!) since the city of HAMA was last in a NYTXW grid. I had HOMS written in there and was *very* happy with it. HOMS is (or was, as of 2004) nearly twice as populous. And look how dang close the two cities are to each other:

How is your "HAMILTON" clue this boring? (41D: Winner of 11 Tonys in 2016). Such a dynamic and entertaining musical, and *this* is the clue you give it? I like SWOLE (23D: Extremely muscular, in slang) and WEDGIE (43A: Prank involving yanking underwear) alright, but honestly nothing else even came close to making me smile today.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:04 AM  

There must be ten million ways to clue ANDY and Tracy chose "Coach Reid of the 2020 Super Bowl-winning Chiefs." I have just one thing to say about that clue: Yeeeeeeeeeessssss!

Scrub 12:15 AM  

I'm with Rex. This was bad. Leaving aside the fact that HAMA and MIELE and Ken OLIN were in a Wednesday, the NYT website wouldn't accept the rebuses, so I had to go back and change them to Os to satisfy it. Not sure how this one slipped through the cracks.

Jyqm 12:45 AM  

I couldn’t care less if speed solvers lose precious seconds because they weren’t expecting a certain kind of theme on a certain day of the week (really?); for someone who constantly professes to care about the “solver experience,” Rex sure seems to only have one particular kind of pseudo-professional solver in mind with these rants.That said, while I’m normally not a fan of Rex’s nitpicking about “nonsense” answers in the grid when some kind of trickery going on, he’s right that this puzzle doesn’t leave a terribly pleasant aftertaste. ENO in the crosses just isn’t ENOUGH of a letter string to make this particularly enjoyable. An [ONE] rebus would have been more interesting and produced better cross-fill than the painful crosswordese triple threat of ENOLA, ENOCH, and ENOKI.

The only answer I really enjoyed seeing here was SWOLE, with minor runner-up awards for WEDGIE and HAMILTON. FBSTATUS is indeed super lame, and there’s little else worth even mentioning. Monday’s charmer is easily the winner of the week thus far.

webwinger 12:47 AM  

Very much in agreement with @Rex today. Definitely a Thursday puzzle, I said to myself upon finishing in slightly more than average Thursday time. Took forever, it seemed, to figure out the gimmick even after getting the revealer: Went from rebus ONEs to numeral 1s to Os before spotting the overlying NEs, after hearing the happy tune. Finally made sense, but without much joy.

JOHN X 1:05 AM  

Well I just plum loved this puzzle and thought it was a pretty neat trick for a Wednesday. Of course, unlike Rex I wasn’t completely fooled by the very clever gimmick, so I was able to finish in slightly under six seconds (on clipboard, in pen, extremely high) which is about average for me.

And some of these answers were pretty awesome! My goodness, ENOLA Gay, the most famous B-29 ever! Nobody cares about Bock’s Car. (Did you know that the same factory that made B-29 engines later made Tucker automobiles and currently makes Tootsie Rolls? Crazy but true!) There was also ZONEDEFENSE and GEAR and TONKA and WEDGIE and SWOLE and SAWED. This is great stuff! And to think this was made by a girl!

Hey speaking of atomic bomber engines, I learned a bit more about my new job yesterday. I thought I was senior vice-president in charge of making some kind of medical imaging crap, but turns out my division actually makes jet engines! I have no idea how I got those two things confused but there you go. But the best part is that they gave me an expense account and a company credit card and I can buy stuff and General Electric will pay for it! So I went down to the liquor store and bought like four cases of beer and a bottle of Crown Royal, paid with the card and it totally went through! Sweet! I think I’m gonna buy an X-Box for my office next; there’s already a pretty big TV set in there.

It’s “Chili Day” in the executive dining room so I gotta go. Ciao!

Aaron Riccio 1:40 AM  

I'm 95% in agreement with you. Same trouble spots and same irritation at the Thursday-ness (and slim payoff). We only differ on the appreciation of 43a: I really don't understand why we'd want to write off something that is almost always an act of bullying as a prank.

Anonymous 1:40 AM  

I used the rebus button and put ONE in each of those 4 squares, so it read correctly across but not down. I am laughing at myself because I thought it was Thursday.

JMS 1:48 AM  

I rebused the “one”s, and couldn’t figure out what I was getting wrong. Even with the revealer, I still didn’t get it. Why didn’t the puzzle close.
The rebus made no sense, “o” down, “one” across?
Then out of desperation I changed the rebus “one” to “o” and voila.
That really made me cranky, as I lost minutes.
Now I see the “one” up, and I’m still cranky.

jae 2:30 AM  

Medium-tough. I needed the reveal to finish this one. Clever, fun, with a nice aha moment, so, unlike Rex, “that was worth it” and actually delightful.

As for MIELE, my sister and her husband recently moved into Manhattan apt. with MIELE appliances. She found the refrigerator on the small side.

Seth 3:46 AM  

How are you questioning FB STATUS? It's a wildly common phrase used by every human who uses the internet, except you apparently.

Also, ONE-UP seems like a pretty spot-on non-clunky revealer to me. A fine tricky puzzle.

Anonymous 3:51 AM  

In a week meant to highlight female constructors, running this puzzle is NOT the way to about doing it. It was painful on multiple fronts without ever really offering a satisfying payoff.

Loren Muse Smith 4:01 AM  

Ok. So I’m not an elite solver by any stretch of the imagination. But I caught on to the conceit very early and had absolutely no problem dispatching this delightful puzzle lickety-split. I briefly glanced up to make sure it was Wednesday, sure, but decided since it wasn’t a rebus, the trick is fine for today.

A while back, Rex eviscerated one of Tracy’s Sunday puzzles, and it weren’t pretty. As I solved this one, I was awash with relief that he wouldn’t be so hard on this one. So I was truly surprised by the write-up.

I. Loved. This.

Full disclosure – Tracy and I are friends and co-constructors. But I hadn’t planned to comment today because of a crap ton of work to do before a couple of morning meetings, lesson plan tweaks, copying. . . I’ve reconfigured my schedule so I could speak up on this puzzle’s behalf.

I don’t give a rap about HOWOARTH appearing in the grid. Seeing that ONE going up makes me smile. This is so simple, so clever. If we didn’t allow nonsense answers sometimes, we’d never get to enjoy tricks like this. Rex said, “Your tricks should delight. Even if they frustrate at various points along the way, there should be a playfulness that makes one happy to be along for the ride.” Uh. . . this did delight with Very little frustration. The playfulness made this solver quite happy to be along for the ride.

I try to avoid frustration with Rex’s pans by understanding that what shares is his own subjective reaction and not a blanket pronouncement, an objective Truth, that everyone should recognize. Obviously I never have the same opinions about puzzles, and I’ve been here long enough to be brave about *completely disagreeing* with him.

Tracy – this was fun, playful, clever. The reveal is spot-on. Bravo!

@JOHNX, @jae, @Seth, and I are gonna go grab a coffee now.

ps - I totally knew MIELE.

WinthorpeIII 4:25 AM  

Fewer and fewer people use FB, especially young people. More and more people are dropping it and happier because of that decision. If Zuckerberg doesn't care if what they post is true, I don't care to use it anymore.

WinthorpeIII 4:27 AM  

I'm with you. Luckily, on Hump Days, the NYT crossword is not my sole source of enjoyment.

Anonymous 4:48 AM  

Not realizing there are 'rules' about what kind of puzzle is shown on certain days of the week, I just enjoyed it very much. My dishwasher is a Miele but mostly I enjoyed the 'one' answers, led by Claude Monet and followed by Tatum; when you know very well what the answer should be, the gimmick just gets happier. Sorry Rex, but I enjoyed this one very much.
Mary in Greece

Alexandra M 5:18 AM  

It's not a rebus puzzle, the ONEs are running UP through the other answers stacked atop the themers, hence the revealer. The website wouldn't "accept" the rebuses because they were wrong.

Rique Beleza 5:20 AM  

Including WEDGIE is a microagression towards all the 99 pound weaklings out there.

bulgie 6:07 AM  

Enjoyed this much more than ofl et al., in no small part because I just did one from almost exactly a year ago in the archives, that used almost the exact same theme. Only the revealer was STICK EM UP, and you entered the E, with the M supplied by the square above the E.

Certain people didn't like it last year either! At least last year's was on a Thursday (March 7), as ordained by God for trickies.

If WS was trying to wait a year before recycling the theme, he missed it by a couple days. HANG 'EM HIGH... was in that grid -- not me suggesting anything, honest.

pabloinnh 6:12 AM  

Tricky Wednesday for sure, but I like Thursdays, so two in a week is OK with me. Stuck right off the bat until I saw AGAME, which I clearly failed to bring. Otherwise plenty smooth, once I saw what was going on.

In Natick news, Kelly's Roast Beef is planning to open a franchise there. Famous mini chain in New England. I'll keep you posted.

Hey @John X-are they still hiring? Say hi to Dos.

Fun Wednesday TG, you prankster you.

JJ 6:14 AM  

A minute faster than average for me, and I caught on with what had to be ZONE DEFENSE. I own a MIELE VACuum, but never knew it was German—now I know.
That closed off NW corner did give me pause at the start, but it eventually fell, and I enjoyed the solve.

Lewis 6:28 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
tavara 6:30 AM  

Never heard of Hama? It was the site of a brutal massacre in 1982

Lewis 6:31 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karl Grouch 6:37 AM  

I've been on Vac a few times in Tonka so Emu was a gimme.
Couldn't Caress if people are Wedgy about that.
I remember noting in my addenda that at Howoarth's End people had Zodiac fences to help Enokis produce their famous Tatum Oil, what do you Mako'that?
Ha! Milton was Aleut of breath when he Shaw this, he Swole it was true but then had Enoch and had to Torn away and Flea.
Olin all, a very nice Clue Demo.
Grazie Miele!

Lewis 6:41 AM  

I like having a Thursday-tricky puzzle on Wednesdays every once in a while, to keep me on my toes. I seem to recall there being a rebus on a Wednesday last year. I also don't mind having a theme on Fridays every once in a while for the same reason. Different strokes.

Because there have been themes like this before, today's didn't strike me as particularly novel, but it was still fun. Fun to find and figure out the theme answers. And when I discovered the first theme answer, my brain let out a "hah!" because it figured out the reveal and went right to the SE looking for where the reveal went and filled it right in -- that was fun too.

Then there was the mini-theme with its own reveal: ANIMALS. It's answers were WRENS / MAKO / EMU / FLEA / EEL, and the porcine pair of STY and OINKS.

Plus the little tale beginning with the cross of OOH and HOT, and moving into CARESS and MISACTS, and ending with AGLOW.

Quite a bit of fun packed into a 15 x 15 -- thank you for this, Tracy!

OffTheGrid 6:52 AM  

I knew one answer was TATUM ONEAL and I knew it wasn't a rebus. So I just kept plodding along, got to the revealer and yada yada yada. There was definitely some crunch (NUT). I was unfamiliar with OLIN, HAMA, MIELE, should have known ONEKI. I wanted something more specific for profile posting. FBSTATUS? It might as well have been "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine" A letdown. MISACTS is really the only bad answer in the puzzle. It was fun. Go Women!!

BobL 6:58 AM  

@Loren - your avatar is ?

Hungry Mother 6:58 AM  

No challenge here; very fast. I’m very accepting of weirdness in puzzles and don’t overthink things. Fun way to get back to solving after a 3 day break from crosswords due to a destination race over the long weekend.

Anonymous 7:02 AM  

Please explain FB status to this 87 year old.

Another_Sam 7:03 AM  

Contrarian view here. I liked this one even though it was very easy. Nice symmetry on the rebus squares.

Unknown 7:18 AM  

جلب الحبيب

Music Man 7:20 AM  

My sentiments exactly!

WhatDoing 7:23 AM  

Who knew there’d be so much love for SWOLE? Always hated that word and it’s already three years or so out of common(ish) use. Did enjoy the puzzle though. I’m all for scrapping the “can only be tricky on certain days” nonsense ... fine with increasing difficulty over the week but couldn’t care less about someone’s precious solve time. So good puzzle today. And good Rex rant too!

tinbox 7:40 AM  

Nicely done.

tinbox 7:49 AM  

Unusually, the revealer was crucial for many solvers. It seems to have pushed up solving times and people who are speed-oriented are sad. Maybe go do a Word Search with stopwatch?

Peter P 7:55 AM  

This one finished a good bit faster than an average Wednesday for me but, like @JJ 6:14 AM, I glommed on to the gimmick right away with ZO(NE)DEFENSE, confirmed by CALAUDEMO(NE)T (which couldn't be anything else.) At first, I just thought the NE was left off for some reason on a few answers until I found the revealer and realized the NE just snakes up in the answer. There've been a number of these snaking/branching type puzzles in NYT so it was a gimmick I was aware of, though unusual to find on a Wednesday.

The main sticking point for me was the west, with SWANSON, SHAW, SWOLE, ALEUT. I had inuiT initially for ALEUT. I didn't know the play "Major Barbara" nor Barbara Swanson from "Sunset Boulevard," and SWOLE is only a word I am at best vaguely aware of, but I wasn't confident putting it down. So that side took me a good bit longer to work out. Oh, and I lost time hunting for my error: I had MIELa/ADDaND as the cross. That said, having lived in Europe, MIELE was pronounced like "meal-uh" and ADDEND has one of those end/and endings that usually require a quick double-check for me in the dictionary. I mean "multiplicand" gets an -and, but ADDEND gets an -end.

That said, the cluing and fill didn't really feel sparkly to me.

GILL I. 8:03 AM  

Some people only eat chips and a fried egg on Thursdays....I don't mind eating them on a Wednesday.
Had to get to TATUM (ONE)AL before that silly light bulb moment. Didn't even see that the ONE went up; in my mind the ONE fit in the acrosses . Such is life.
I kinda winced at the LIME in the Corona clue. And then it crosses OINKS and for the life of me I couldn't get swine flu out of my mind. I need to get a life.
Thanks, JOHN for the laugh of the day.

Z 8:07 AM  

I am more team Rex than just about anyone else, but on one thing we completely disagree - the whole “Thursday is the day for tricks” thing. What? Monday solvers don’t ever get to be stretched? What? Experienced solvers get a half step up on tricky puzzle day? No. No. No. If we accept that having puzzle conventions tweaked a little from time to time is okay because these are crossword puzzles, then every day of the week is fair game.

As a general rule, sections like the NW and SE, dangling by a single square, are suboptimal. I also get the attraction of the ONE UP concept, but it resulted in too many esey answers; ENOLA, ENOKI, and ENOCH are a steep price to pay for a bunch of ONEs. ENOUGH is not frequent crosswordese, making it the best of those four by far.

FB STATUS - As in Facebook, where people are encouraged to document their every move so that Facebook can sell the data to advertisers.

I posted last night because there were questions, here is that info again.

Re:PPP - Here's the full story:
First there was Lewis providing Post-Puzzle Puzzlers (PPP). He'd find something in the puzzle and create a little brain teaser. Shockingly - someone(s) complained to Rex and Lewis stopped. What is wrong with people? If you didn't want to do the little brain exercises nobody was making you. I'm still pissed at Rex over this.

Some Saturday after this I was spouting off about how great a puzzle was and how little pop culture was in the puzzle. Later, @OISK complained about the excessive level of pop culture. Huh? So I went through the puzzle and counted and it was actually quite high - just in my wheelhouse. I then spent some weeks counting the Pop Culture references everyday. It was pretty obvious after about a month that somewhere right around 33% was the line. More than 33% and we'd see comments from some subset of solvers about really struggling with the puzzle. That's when I coined PPP, meaning "Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns." There are other factors involved, but if you ever see lots of comments about how hard a puzzle was and lots of comments that the same puzzle was easy you can be assured that the PPP is >33%.

Loren Muse Smith 8:27 AM  

@BobL – nothing to read into the avatar. That’s just me. I didn’t have time to think of anything else.

Randy (Boulder) 8:41 AM  

Generally, I liked it. Understood quickly that NE was missing from some answers. Revealer, ONE UP, helped me figure it all out. Slick. Was probably tough to construct.

One quibble: the crossing of MIELE with REAM was reaally rough, as I had never heard of "quire" - I had to look that one up after. Learned a new word. I thought quire might be some fractional unit of currency, so I wanted REAL (maybe a variant spelling of RIAL?). Is quire a word that everybody else in solver land just knows? Maybe the modern equivalent should be EQUIRE, for 20 emails in an inbox or something?

Is there a version of a Natick in which the answer itself is a common word but the clue is so obsolete like this? If so, this was it for me. I had to run the alphabet for that square. Because M is lower-right on the keyboard, it was the last letter I reached, and I was beginning to despair....

wilsch 8:50 AM  

I knew MIELE off the bat, because I just bought A Miele dishwasher. It's a quality appliance.

Unknown 8:55 AM  

FB is Facebook. People on Facebook post various comments, about themselves, observations, which are then seen by the poster's Facebook friends.

Steph 8:56 AM  

@loren muse smith - I agree. This was a fun puzzle. Who cares if it’s Wednesday?!

QuasiMojo 8:57 AM  

"Effervescent voices" made me think of Billie Burke. I got a WEDGIE once in junior high. It fits the ONE UP theme perfectly! OOH! Fun puzzle but FB STATUS brought it down a notch. If you google the term, it doesn't bring up much except Facebook Status, rarely abbreviated as such. What's next, Brian ENO DOWN?

Suzie Q 9:00 AM  

I don't mind some extra trickiness on Wed.
@ GILL.I, I wonder what the folks at Corona are feeling? Unfortunate naming of that virus.
Misacts was the only real stinker today.
I've never heard swole. Short for swollen?

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Amen to everything that Rex said. That’s the first time I haven’t self-finished a Wednesday puzzle in years, probably more out of frustration and impatience at staring at HOWOARTH for so long than sheer difficulty. Now I need to go meditate away my frustration so I can be productive today, but fear that HOWOARTH will force its way into my consciousness, and deny me the inner peace that I crave. Sigh...

bagelboy 9:02 AM  

I passed on the MIELE dshwasher, and bought a BOSCH, which was my first guess.

RooMonster 9:23 AM  

Hey All !
Great pic! I actually knew it was you, I've seen that somewhere before. That must've been an off-work-time pic, as you'd probably look more frazzled at work!

So, first themer I got was CLAUDE MONET, but after getting the Revealer of ONEUP. (Had lox for EEL messing me up for a bit.) So when I saw that MONET ended at the N (I had MOn instead of MOT), I also saw the ET of INLET, so I thought the ONE UP was a diagonal up one row. So that royally messed me up for the other themers. When I got to ZONE DEFENSE, I had ZO_E_ENSE, I was looking for a diagonal something, only to find LIME. ZONE ELIME? What the what? Then I spied the ONE going up, so was able to figure that out, but the actualness of the theme never clicked in the ole brain. Managed to get the other two, as them going UP and continuing on the themer line, but never figured out they were all ONE. Big Duh moment.

So not grokking the complete theme, ended up with a DNF at fAMILnON for the musical. Har. OOf just as good, if not better, than OOH. As clued, anyway.

Was surprised myself to find a tricky puz on a Wednesday, but didn't flip my lid like OFL, just said, "Huh, neat!" and plodded on. The closed off NW/SE weren't optimal, but sometimes you end up without a viable option as you make the grid to be able to fit in themers comfortably. Ideally, Tracy could've (which I'm sure she tried) moved the black square after 58A up one row, and getting rid of the black square after 55A, thereby opening up those corners a bit more, but then she probably ran into impossible fill, as the themers were in proximity to those squares. My two cents. (two sense?)

Is SHE-crab soup a thing? Seems sexist. Har!

Two F's

Asaris 9:33 AM  

MIELE crossing REAM and ADDEND was a nasty trick

Teresa 9:36 AM  

Miele was easy if you live in Germany :-) Rex is a sore loser and this proves it. My gripe is that it was too easy for a Wednesday. I saw very soon that something funny was going on, and my inner rule-maker didn't protest that heavens, it daren't be a trick puzzle because today's not Thursday! Where is it written? However, I agree that some words were questionable (misacts??). And did we really need 'corona' at a time like this?

WordyGurdy 9:41 AM  

I've been wondering about this one for years -- why is the "Wis-to-Ga. direction" SSE, and not ESE? What's the difference between the two?

The Compassionate Misanthrope 9:49 AM  

My own great irritation surrounding "HOWOARTH", and subsequent googling for an explanation for today's puzzle, led me to your blog. Agreed! Wha the heck was that?!

Nancy 9:50 AM  

Finally -- a puzzle that required me to think. After a dreary two days, this ONE hit the spot. I got the theme early on at ZO DEFENSE. After looking down for an NE and seeing nothing, I looked up and saw the NE I was seeking. At which point I said: "Aha! The revealer will be ONE UP." And so it was.

Still, I had a real tussle in the middle of the West, where it was impossible to see -- or guess -- HOW ON EARTH without some crosses. And I didn't have ENOUGH crosses. I never heard of SWOLE and I wanted BUILT there. I didn't know HAMA and I couldn't remember WEDGIE. I had to go all the way down to CLAUDE and come back up in order to finish that section.

A lot of fun and a welcome treat after the "do-them-in-your-sleep"-ness of the last two days.

Ahab 9:53 AM  


SSE is 157.5° (south and then halfway to southeast) Slightly east of south OR heading mostly downwards on a map
ESE is 112.5° (east and then halfway to southeast) Slightly south of east OR heading mostly to the right on a map

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

@WordyGurdy SSE is closer to south than east (about 67 deg south of east)
ESE is closer to east than south (about 22 deg south of east)

TJS 10:14 AM  

What is likable about "swole"?

So there are people out there that want a whole month of this stuff ?

@John X, You saved my morning. Great stuff.

GHarris 10:15 AM  

Used the rebus to insert ones and then ran the alphabet on miele but couldn't get the congratulatory fanfare. Finally started looking up for one and that's when things began looking up. Join the chorus of those expressing surprise at Wednesday trickery. Nevertheless, a good challenge.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Mods Z posted the same self-congratulatory drivel yesterday regarding his bogus claim that he invented PPP. Can you limit his silliness to at least not assaulting us with duplicate posts?

Anyone else bet Michael Sharp was subjected to more than a few wedgies groeing up?

Loved the puzzle Tracy gray. Wrens do have effervescent voices.Thanks.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Hama imho is a prefect example of why Asia/Asians is silly. Hama is in the Levant. It's residents Levantine. No doubt if geography were taught in schools rather than grievance studies, a lot of folks would know it.
But if school isn't your thing maybe a blood-curdling horror show like the Syrian war is. That obscenity has seen the most horrible atrocities. Including osme in the fierce battle of ham less than two years go.

Whatsername 10:23 AM  

@Z: That YouTube link you posted late last night was amazing! I will never again roll my eyes at the claims of any of our speed solvers. I don’t think on my best day I could ever do that, even in twice the time. Thank you for sharing. Quite the eye-opener for me.

GILL I. 10:29 AM  

@BobL...That's a picture of @Loren. Not only is she funny and smart as hell but she's also very pretty. Think Grace Kelly.

pmdm 10:30 AM  

Yes, this was an unpleasant sovle for me also. But the reasoning given in the write-up is for me just gibberish. Not because, like some others, I thought "ONE" had to be entered as a rebus and never thought to travel up the UP-DOWN entries. There was just too much PPP that I did not know.b(and care about).

Z demonstrates today he is anything but a "twin" of Mr.Sharp. And I thank him and other(s) for answering the PPP question my comment yesterday incited. I am often too busy to reread the comments after I post. For instance, today I have to be off to the Bronx Botanical Garden orchid show, a magnificent display. With the equinox only 15 days away, it should be nice walking the grounds. Hopefully, I will come upon many crocuses as well as orchids.

Newboy 10:30 AM  

Curious to see how others respond, but first I wanted to say thanks for a SWOLE puzzle. I will accept a heavy lifting muscular Thursday even on a Wednesday over the dreck of early week puzzles that range from meh to boring. Saw the trick at ZONE DEFENSE and raced through the grid; I had three themers filled before I discovered the 69A clue hidden in the SE corner. Definitely in my wheelhouse so it seemed easy though I understand Rex’s feeling “cheated” by the Wednesday placement. Never heard of SHE-CRAB soup or SWOLE in the gym & cafes I visit, but crosses made them gettable—ditto for HAMA for that matter. Thanks Tracy & Will for a unique midweek surprise! Now back to read above😷

Unknown 10:37 AM  

"Misacts?" Holy crap.

Ethan Taliesin 10:40 AM  

Ha ha. My only snag was MISA_TS, thinking the vertically ascending "ONE" was part of it (numb to the fact I had already filled in for that gimmick directly above.)

I ignored (the easy answer) ENOCH for some reason and instead became determined to figure out what in the hell fit into MISAONE_TS to make it a word. Doh!

Swagomatic 10:43 AM  

I dunno, I liked it. The fill was iffy, but I got a kick out of the gimmick.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

Thank you from another with the same inquiry.
Plain, simple answers are appreciated.

Kimber 10:53 AM  

This was another of my classic '80/20' puzzles, in that I spent 20% of the time getting 80% of it, and 80% of the time getting the last 20%. That middle east section threw me big time, but primarily because of a huge gaff on my part.

For some reason, even though the themer was RIGHT ON TOP OF IT ALREADY, I kept trying to theme 'MISACTS' in some way. I sat staring at my notepad with 'MISA_ONE_S forever, cycling through the alphabet and coming up blank. I think a primary reason for this (in addition to me being tunnelvisioned on it) was that the word 'MISACTS' is dumb and never occurred to me as a real word.

Oh well, upward and onward!

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

Sooooo, what WILL tomorrow bring?

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Good puzzle. Rex never heard of Miele!!??

Z 11:06 AM  

@Whatsername - Yep. Somewhere there's a clip of Feyer trying to break the 1:00 minute barrier on a Monday Newsday. He failed but wow, he got close. I assume it's a combination of touch-typing, mastering the directional keys, lots of practice, and simple solving skill. I think they are all slower with pen and paper because you have to look at what you are typing, not filling in as you look at the next clue. I think Rex's top ACPT finish was 39th, so really good but still distinctly slower than the very best (which is sort of like saying "Major League pitcher but not Major League All-Star") still way faster than most of us can ever dream of being. After years of never breaking 6:00 I can now usually do a Monday NYTX in the 5:00-5:30 range and a Newsday Monday in sub-5:00.

@anon10:15 - You do realize that when you see the blue Z you could just skip the comment, don't you?

Ernonymous 11:11 AM  

50 years ago Maleska clued MIELE as Honey(Italian.). Well that would have been in my wheelhouse!

I cheat so I don't get my blood pressure up as high as Rex does. I was done and I got the error message. I had ONE written like a rebus. I then checked the answer key and saw it just needs to be an O. Therefore I maintained my CFS (Cheater Fake Streak) of 27 days! And I kept calm and carried on.

Schuly 11:13 AM  

Makes more sense than Rex!

Whatsername 11:13 AM  

Like my fellow Chiefs fan @Joaquin, I was pleased to see Andy REID prominently featured this morning. Not only a Super Bowl winning coach but from what I understand, also a very decent human being and great all-around guy. I had some trouble with this at first and after finishing wished I had looked at the revealer to begin with. Would have made it a lot easier to figure out what was going on. Yes, MISACTS was a stinker and yes it was frustrating to look at HOWOARTH and wonder what was going on. Still, the end result made me smile bigly. Tricky but satisfying. Nice one Tracy!

@Suzie Q and @GILL: Believe it or not, I read yesterday that there are actually people refusing to drink CORONA because of the virus. But in the interest of full disclosure, I saw it on Facebook so there’s that.

xyz 11:23 AM  

Challenging and unpleasantly so.

It was annoying and I couldn't wait to drown this one.

jb129 11:23 AM  

So what that it's not Thursday?? What a nice surprise.

I'll admit this puzzle bugged me at first but I stuck with it & wound up enjoying it.

What's up with you speed solvers? Don't you have enough anxiety these days than to beat the clock?

And @ Rique Beleza - are you still in the Jack LaLanne era?

Good job, Tracy.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Anyone else bet Michael Sharp was subjected to more than a few wedgies groeing up?

may be. in my day this was done to runts, irregardless of Nerd or Geek status. not that those terms were yet in use. ya didn't wedge a 200 lb. footballer.

amyyanni 11:30 AM  

Atlanta? I volunteered at the trials the 29th and ran the regular marathon the 1st

Skeptic 11:35 AM  

I watched the youtube speed solve. I can't believe it. I mean that. I don't believe it.

Masked and Anonymous 11:42 AM  

ONE UPs would be a fairly straightforward theme for a ThursPuz. Sooo … I reckon I'd call this a WedPuz and a half … sorta an in-betweener, theme difficulty-wise. OK by m&e, as I usually enjoy a puzzlin solvequest. Did lose some precious nanoseconds on HOWOARTH, I'd grant.

Learned some new stuff: MIELE. FBSTATUS. SWOLE [which woulda been more inferable, if it weren't crossin that frisky HOWOARTH themer].

fave fillins included: ENOUGH. SATIATED. ADDEND. HAMILTON.
best raised-by-wolves desperation: MISACTS. Thought maybe it was also usin TATUMOAL's ONE dealy someways, for a wee bit.

staff weeject picks: EMO & EMU. EMU definitely one-ups EMO in the puzgrid, IM&AO.

Thanx for the tough fun, Tracy Gray darlin.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

Barbara S. 11:50 AM  

@Z 11:05 last night and again 8:07 this morning

And others

Thanks again to everyone who joined in the PPP conversation in answer to my question of yesterday.

I'm very new to online discussion and I find it fascinating that a forum like this, which has an ever-changing daily focus (so ephemeral!) -- itself has a history, which I guess only the veterans know. It's clear that over time, major participants have come and gone and sometimes come back, and different activities like @Lewis's PPP quiz have been a feature of daily discussion and then weren't (for whatever simple or complex reasons). And I'm sure there are a lot of other evolutionary aspects of this colloquium that I know nothing about. I find the development/transformation of such a group through time very interesting indeed.

OK, enough eggheaded musings.

I think SHE-crab soup uses the roe. And I have a hard time looking at HOWOARTH in the grid and not seeing some distorted Harry Potter reference.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

I almost completely agree. Great puzzle. No difficulties once I figured out it was a Th (I even flipped over the page to check that it really was Wed.) Miele is hardly obscure. I agree that FB is a nightmare as a company. (I split with many friends over my refusal to join during its rise.) But, the clue and answer are certainly fair game. Much more so than random rap stars where spelling cannot be inferred.

Anyway, excellent puzzle. Now I really look forward to the real Th puzzle.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

the reason no one's heard of MIELE (I recognized it after the crosses filled it in) is that these are two or three times the price of commodity appliances. just go to amazon and enter some familiar names, then MIELE. sell your first born male child for a dishwasher.

What? 12:12 PM  

Great puzzle and fun (I always say that when I ace it ).
Don’t understand the day of the week argument. My only problems are ones that are too easy because of slavish adherence to the weak week rule. Monday puzzles are a waste of time.

Frantic Sloth 12:35 PM  

I haven’t even finished reading Rex’s write up, let alone others’ comments, so forgive me if something is redundant, BUT I just had to jump right in and say I couldn’t disagree more with OFL.

Speaking from personal experience, it helps if you already think today is Thursday; however, I LOOOOOVED this puzzle!

Wheelhouse, wavelength, cup of tea, etc. — whichever description you choose — theme-wise and fill-wise, that’s how it was for me.

So much so that I’m going to pretend that MISACTS never happened. Delusional thinking is my forte, so no hardship there.

Oh, I know it’s a word. It’s just ugly and doesn’t belong in *MY* grid.

Starting from ZONEDEFENSE onward, the “one up” was clear and just a matter of filling in the rest. The fact that this made it a lot easier didn’t even faze me.

Great fun until I ran into that word which shall not be named and never happened anyway.

Brava, Tracy! And thanks for the ride!

Ed Rorie 12:42 PM  

I am finally going to stop reading Rex, deleting his bookmark. He hates crossword puzzles.

GILL I. 12:54 PM  

@Barbara S. 11:50...Welcome to our ever evolving/revolving Rex familia. Would you consider getting a little avatar so we know you better? Look at @Whatsername and @webwinger...they finally took the plunge. Now...if only @pabloinnh would do the same!
Yes...major participants have indeed come and gone. I've been on the blog for about 10 years now. (very early retirement and time on my hands!).... And there are some from the past that I truly miss. In no particular order of importance but @Leapfinger, @Foodie, @Tita, @MAS, @evil Doug, @Two Ponies, @Mohair Sam, Aketi and of course, ACME. There are others as well but my hand is getting tired of typing. I must have a virus.
I hope you keep posting. There are some very interesting people on this blog and every one has a story....

Unknown 12:56 PM  

Once again Rex has convinced me to never give him money for his rants. He sucks all the fun out of a clever puzzle. This one rocked.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

The SE corner was too cut off for me, but mostly because I kept trying to think of biblical numerical units for 59D [Numbers for Noah]. TWOS legitimately made me smile when I got it.

Masked and Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Oops … Almost forgot HAMA. Didn't know HAMA, either. But all its crosses were more than fair. Woulda been askin way way too much, to have em reparse it as "HA, M&A" in the clue somehow … but I can dream, I reckon. But it sure would be swoll … [har -- Otto Correct just tried to change that to "swill"!]

So far, M&A is *really* enjoyin this here Estrogen-Laced Week at the NYTPuz. Shoot … ACMe+Lempel+Gray darlins … hard to get a better lineup, as far as constructioneerin credentials. U go, gals.
Shortzmeister: Feel free to keep splatzin out these gals' great puzs next week, too boot. Keep doin it, until the fat PEWIT sings, I say. Maybe slip the luvly Ms. Gorski an extra thou under the table, to get her to do one more here. She often draws cool pics in her puzgrids.


Teedmn 1:08 PM  

My theme discovery experience today was very much like @Nancy's - early and the theme revealer was obvious at that point. However, every single one of the ONEs snuck up on me and added some fun in the discovery. My favorite was HOWO[NE]RTH which made me think of Hogwarts when viewed straight on.

Yes, I circled the clue for MISACTS as "How on earth did anyone okay that in the puzzle" but post-Googling does find it in the dictionary. But, "OOH, that's going to leave a [black] mark" on this puzzle is what I posit.

I do agree with Rex on the two corners feeling claustrophobic - I was very relieved to get out of both with my fingers all intact.

Tracy Gray, thanks for the Wednesday surprise, which I quite enjoyed.

Peter P 1:10 PM  

@WordyGurdy - The way my brain parses it is as E(SE) and S(SE). The first letter is your principal direction, and the next two are the compass direction it's situated in between. So ESE is halfway between east and southeast, SSE is halfway between south and southeast.

(Then if you're using a 32-point compass, you have "by" constructions like "south by east" which is the point between S and SSE; note that "north by northwest" does not exist as a standard direction. You're not likely to find references to that level of directional granularity in almost all but the most specialized of situations. Eight points is usually enough for most of us, though I will dip into 16 points, as it is often useful.)

It may help to see a labeled illustration of a compass:

Frantic Sloth 1:22 PM  

After reading Rex’s entire review, all I want to do is yell HOWOARTH ZODEFENSE CLAUDEMOT at him until the words fall to the ground and I make him vacuum them up with my friend’s MIELE which I’d have to borrow because I could never afford one, but I digress...

And speaking as a reformed anally-retentive “speed” solver, (the reformed ones of anything are usually the worst) I had to laugh at his “I lost so much time not understanding why the themers were gibberish—time I *never* would've lost on a Thursday...” tantrum and breathe a sigh of relief that I’m not *that* person anymore. Since I gave up the ghost on that unattainable prize (because, really — are speed solvers *ever* truly satisfied??) I enjoy every puzzle much more — even the “bad” ones. Just sayin’.

@JOHN X Can’t believe it took you so long to complete. Perhaps not high enough? Thanks for the factory fun facts!
@LMS Would love to do a puzzle co-constructed by you and Tracy! Maybe someone out there can steer me toward one?
@Z Thanks for the PPP history. WhyOARTH would someone complain about @Lewis and what I know would be wonderful puzzlers?! Idiots. And Rex is a spineless worm for caving.

albatross shell 1:26 PM  

Well it was a pretty tough day for me. For some reason WEDGIE decided to camp out on the edge of recall for the longest time. I had no idea that SWOLE had migrated from being the former past tense of swell to meaning a well-muscled body. Did not know the fractions of a REAM. MIELE looked vaguely familiar after the fact.
SWOLE feels a little ugly on the tongue just as MISACT does to the eye. MIS-ACT slightly less so. But being ugly often comes across as character in humans, so I am in no hurry to ban ugly words from the crossword lexicon. And even though HOWOARTH looks ugly in the grid it is actually a very good answer when one looks at the theme structure. And despite my troubles today I enjoyed the not difficult to find ONEUPs. It was amusing that on NYT Woman's Crossword Week, to find these wee erections in the grid. I thought women appreciated size to some extent anyway.

I do like the weekly progression in the Times puzzles, but do not object to the occasional mis-dayed puzzle.

I am hoping that Nancy will be honored as this Week's Topper.

I wrote something like this post around the 11am time frame. If anyone finds it, let me know.

Frantic Sloth 1:27 PM  

@Barbara S Soooo ditto on the Harry Potter “trompe l’oeil” (and I *still* need to look up the spelling)!

Frantic Sloth 1:41 PM  

Now when I see FBSTATUS written horizontally, all I see is “festivus”.

Honestly, I’m starting to experience eye worms everywhere these days. *sigh*

Anonymous 1:50 PM  

@Z no he isn't going to skip over blue Z posts because @TrollANON actually has his profile set to alert him when you post so he can tell you that you are wrong. He sits waiting all day for you to say something, anything, so that he can start an argument.

Unknown 2:49 PM  

Sue me: I don't have the patience to read all 96 comments, so maybe this has been said. AcrossLite accepts rebuses and I filled in ONE in those four crappy answers and got an AOK, YOU DID IT, or whatever.

Perry 2:50 PM  

So, Rex, you're saying you didn't like it? I am sure that you enjoyed the XWord at some poit, but when was the last time you actually enjoyed it?

As for me, the puzzle was fine and the theme was easy enough to spot. I have a slight beef with the fact that they decided to run a Thursday on a Wednesday, but maybe that means that tomorrow's will be a gimme

Barbara S. 2:52 PM  

@ GILL.I. 12:54

So kind and so welcoming, thanks. And I'm glad you have that historical perspective on this forum.

I'll consider your avatar suggestion, but I guess -- technically -- I'd have to become "blue"? Seems like a giant step in my first week of posting!

@ Frantic Sloth 1:27 and 1:41

I wasn't going to mention this but when I see TATUMOAL, my brain gives me Tattoo Mole.

ComicSans 2:53 PM  

I should have hit the revealer corner already at ZONE DEFENSE and certainly by TATUM ONEAL, instead of trying to force a rebus or create a new way to spell ENOUGH. (As if ’ENOUGH’ needs a more tortured letter combination.)

Anonymous 2:57 PM  

anon 1:50.
Nah. Not only do I not have a profile, I also don't have any animus toward anyone including Z. That said, I have no tolerance for nonsense or blowhards. And in mys estimation there's a lot of both hereabouts. Your post for example is utter rot.

Wundrin' 3:07 PM  

What does it mean to become blue?

Anonymous 3:30 PM  

@anontroll Instead you just stare at the comments all day looking for something you can argue with. That indicates a pathetic and boring life. What a great hobby you have! Arguing with posters on a crossword blog! It seems this way you have people to interact with because your actual life is lonely and sucks. I know you need to believe that you are morally and intellectually superior to everyone here. I'll give you that since you obviously have nothing else.

chefwen 3:49 PM  

I’ll take a trick puzzle any ‘ol day of the week. Unfortunately, like @GILL and others I just filled it in like a ONE rebus and called it a day. Wondered why the reveal was one UP but lazy me didn’t go back to root it out. DOH! Had fun anyway.

Alphonse P. 3:50 PM  

I threw the paper down in total disgust at this one!

Bea 3:54 PM  

I did fairly well for someone who usually has a hard time with anything after Tuesday.

'Misacts' is not a word. -never will be.

Bea 3:54 PM  


Anonymous 4:05 PM  

Anon 3:30,
Your analysis intrigues me. perhaps you have a newsletter i could subscribe to. Or maybe some kind of manifesto. Either way, I look forward to more of your keen insight.

Anonymous 4:07 PM  

Anonymous 3:330's comments are nothing but sarcasm and an ad hominem attack. Why are they are permitted?

Leapfinger 4:53 PM  

@Mark Bulgier, nice to meet you! Are you telling us that you're SWOLE?
@tavara, name me the Syrian city that hasn't had a brutal massacre
@redanman, don't know if it was your intent, but your 'couldn't wait to drown this ONE' made me howl

Nice to see @Z is still raking 'em in, and that @@s jae, Teedmn and m'darlin Gillyflower are still bloomin', along with pillars LMS 'n' M&A. Guess we've lost JFC/Da Bears, but how about Numinous? r.alphbunker? Evil D? Keeping a tenuous connection via a coupla doughty trans bloggers, neither of whom have mentioned the new madman John in all y'all's midst

Just came for a look-see as word got out that Fearless Leader's mood seemed to be affected by a persistent WEDGIE, consequent to some horrendously premature trickery. Whereas "some" Thursday-lovers would hail an early Wednesday or a delayed Friday with an evil twist, FL seems to have been caught fat-fluted, and resentful about it. I'll just say that in today's fast-moving world, if you insist on sticking with yer old 'this is how we've always done it', some juggernaut's gonna leap out of the bushes and crunch you up and spit out whatever's left of indigestible bits. Even the grid recommends going for AGILE, and I'll just say you don't gotta be an OB to know some deliveries arrive early.

Lighten up, darlin' man! You'll live longer, and enjoy it more.

Hedy La Knish 5:07 PM  

You are a babe Loren. So nice to see what you look like after all this time.

Whatsername 5:09 PM  

@Wundrin: to become blue is to set up a profile on this blog site with a distinct screen name ... like “Wundrin.” One nice advantage is it allows you to skip the dreaded I’m-not-a-robot process when posting your comments.

@Barbara S: Allow me to join in welcoming you to the blog. I have been on here for a little over a year after lurking in the shadows for several months before actually posting. As she did with you, @GILL very thoughtfully extended a warm welcome to me at the time and encouraged me to set up a profile on the blog. Like you, I found it a little intimidating at first, but you can set it up without any personal info if you’re more comfortable with that. There are some extremely interesting people on here, and I am often amazed at the intellectual level of some of the debates that have taken place among them. Reading the comments really adds to the experience of solving the daily crossword for me, and I almost always learn something in the process. Glad you are here and I look forward to getting to know you better.

GILL I. 5:10 PM  

Ahhhh. My favorite leap frog leapster jete @Leapfinger appears again. What can we do to make you keep coming back and making us laugh. Do we need to ask @Alias Z as well? xo.

jfc 5:11 PM  

wow @johnx wasn't kidding about tootsie rolls i just googled it

"dodge chicago plant" on wikipedia

RAD2626 6:00 PM  

I thought 49A was a cute twist. “Acts improperly” MISBEHAVES. “Behaves improperly”. MISACTS. Clever, like the rest of the puzzle.
My problem was I got that there was a letters missing gimmick right away but typed in ZONE, not remembering ADDEND, so I had DEF typed in the Facebook answer which bogged me down longer than Rex took on the entire puzzle. Liked puzzle a lot notwithstanding my clumsiness. @GILL I. Great list of former posters. Also miss @Professor George Barany who was both kind and insightful.

Frantic Sloth 6:20 PM  

@Barbara S I would like to welcome you as well, but I haven't been here any longer than you. Seems it would be presumptuous of me.

In any case, at least you've been the happy recipient of multiple welcomes -- I don't recall receiving any, but perhaps they were lost in the mail...

...and the alternative is too terrible to contemplate, but not enough to stop me. Sorry 'bout it. Not. ;-)

Z 6:21 PM  

Dammit @MightyMaskedOne - Now I have an image of a fat pewit singing Wagner, but for some reason the pewit sounds like Elmer Fudd.

Mr. Cheese 6:29 PM  

I’m a very long time internet user but don’t use Facebook. What does one report as status? “Going to the store”, “sitting on the can”, “ got a headache
“, etc.

JC66 6:30 PM  

@Frantic Sloth

A belated welcome. You seemed like a veteran from the get-go.

Teedmn 6:41 PM  

Like @Gill I, I couldn’t be more thrilled to see @Leapy back, hopefully for more than a cameo walk-on?! @Alias Z is also greatly missed for his clever plays on puzzles.

GILL I. 6:45 PM  

@Frantic Sloth...I'm pulling a @Z and going over my allotment. Welcome, amigo/amiga. You have a very nice avatar... :-)

CDilly52 6:53 PM  

Color me flummoxed everybody! Could be that I have been trying to solve all day during court recesses (never optimal), and I fell right into the “it must be a rebus on Wednesday” trap. Al in all this ticked all the “challenge my brain” boxes. Even when I knew the answer (ZONE DEFENSE”) I couldn’t figure out the trick. Great work Ms. Gray!!

As for HOWARTH, I kept going back before I knew what was up trying to make that a proper name, specifically the evil Headmaster of the boys’ school in the BBC adaptation of the Delderfield novel “To Serve Them All My Days.” Such a well done miniseries. Misdirected me all over the place. I adore a good struggle and finishing this (finally) made my day!

Frantic Sloth 6:54 PM  

@JC66 Haha! Thank you. Must be my china shop bull type persona. I’ll just barge in any old where and spew my inanities.

@Z KILL DA WABBIT has suctioned the Liberty jingle from my inner ear and will be staking a claim there for the foreseeable future. This is the second time in as many days you’ve dropped a worm on me and I’m lovin’ it!

All the dares for bringing a third round tomorrow. :)

Anonymous 6:58 PM  

Point of order.
An @z is bloviating. Not a fourth or fortieth post. Fixed it for you. No charge.

Frantic Sloth 6:58 PM  

@GILL I Thanks for the kind words! You can call me “amigi”, that Latin/Spanish hybrid I just now coined.

Wait... allotment? There’s an allotment??


Another friend of LMS. 7:09 PM  


Whatsername 7:14 PM  

@Frantic Sloth: Apologies for not welcoming you sooner but as @JC said, you seem like a veteran. I don’t normally do multiple comments in a day but didn’t want to miss the opportunity to extend a greeting and let you know you really were not being ignored. Also wanted to say your post about Festivus made me laugh. Oh, and your cat is pretty, looks a little bit like one of mine.

@Mr. Cheese: Unfortunately yes, some people do report such things. Those are the ones it doesn’t take me long to UNFOLLOW. Facebook can be a colossal time waster but it’s also a nice way to keep in touch with people you don’t see often. I resisted it for a long time until my nieces and nephews told me I needed to get with the program. It isn’t so bad.

albatross shell 7:27 PM  

What's blue? I dunno. It over my head. I chose a name used it for awhile, became blue. Did I register. Don't remember. Blue meant never having to say your not a robot and your name appeared in blue. But you often did not have to anyway if you just pushed publish. But then I signed in on a different site and it wanted or suggested a google identity. So I made a google identity of my name here and signed in. Did I change a capital letter? Don't know. But it worked but I am no longer in blue and no longer have to deny my robotness. And I forget if I do appear in blue when I post from my tablet instead of a phone. Now @wondrin, if I have confused you half much as I myself am confused I apologize.

And dictionaries and scrabble seem to recognize MISACT. With 2 definitions. Some only call it British English for screwing up a play. So there is that.

Barbara S. 7:33 PM  

@Whatsername and @Frantic Sloth

And kind of everybody.

I feel hugged.

Nancy 7:35 PM  

@albatross shell -- So sweet of you. But it's the week after.

Ernonymous 8:00 PM  

Hi, I'm new here.

My name is Giovanni.

I'm tall, dark and handsome. I have loads and loads of money. All my appliances are none other than MIELE. My manor is full of CLAUDEMON paintings and TATUMOAL movies (arranged by date of purchase in my sunken VHS study.) HOWOARTH do I do it?
I eat only SALTY ENOKI mushrooms. Before I went on the SALTY ENOKI mushroom diet, I was a mere ENOCH, a lowly ENOCH in a sea full of MAKO. Now I'm a SWOLE ENOCH.

Nice to meet everyone.

Anonymous 8:00 PM  

In all fairness the overlap with @Z between bloviating and more than three
posts is so great it's pretty easy to make the mistake, but earlier anonymous is right in this case.

BobL 8:03 PM  

Moderator - just noticed that Anonymous has more than the allotted posts. Whats with that?

Frantic Sloth 8:19 PM  

Allotment schlallotment.

I gotta thank @Whatsername for the very sweet welcome and cat compliment - my animal soulmate who is no longer with us, alas.

We named him Kenny because when we adopted him as a teenager, we wanted to kill him at least once a day. (Obviously watched a lot of South Park back then.)

Z 8:20 PM  

@Frantic Sloth - Today @M&A has to get at least half the credit/blame for your ear worm.
And yes, Rex laid out 3 as a max number of posts in a day way way way back. How far back? The captcha then was some weirdly distorted random letters that would sometimes suggest interesting words or phrases that the commentariat would share. Oh, also, spell casters. The sheer joy of getting email follow-ups and getting swamped with twenty posts explaining how Dr. Ngubotu was the best spellcaster and would get your ex husband/wife back for you. Everyone misses those spell casters. Anyway, the limit was primarily to stop long tangential debates and keep the focus on the puzzle. Rex would visit and enforce things then. That was before the age of moderators. Now, get too far off topic and the mods might delete your posts. But they don’t seem overly concerned with the three rule.

@albatross shell - you are blue, and you have had this google account since May 2010.

webwinger 8:21 PM  

Posted quite early today (actually last night, on TUESDAY, before any others had shown up). After browsing the long list of comments above, I have to say I now view the puzzle in a considerably more favorable light. My initial negativism resulted largely, I think, from (1) annoyance at taking too long to grok the theme (my bad) and (2) having just read OFL’s comments and none else. Seems actually to be a pretty nifty Thursday, not that there’s anything wrong with that. (Though I wish I was still innocent of MISACTS. And HOWOARTH does have a decidedly Harry Potterish ring.)

Feel like I need to hide behind @GILL’s skirts to say this, but I have to agree that @LMS looks as good as she writes (almost). If I were still in HS, she would definitely be the teacher I had a crush on.

I’ll probably be away for a while as I’m having surgery tomorrow to fix a fracture of my right hand (sustained last week when I fell chasing avatar pooch, who managed to slip out of his collar on a walk). Should be fine ultimately, but may not be in condition to do much typing near term.

Anonymous 8:38 PM  

Z has gone over the allotted number of posts as well. I'm curious. Why not adk the mids to police him too?

Whatsername 8:43 PM  

@Nancy at 7:35 - Good to know because I was also hoping to see an appearance from you this week. At least now I won’t get all indignant when we don’t. But looking forward to next week.

@webwinger: Sorry to hear about your accident. Seems there’s no end to the lengths we will go to for our pets. Hope all goes well with the surgery.

Andrew Heinegg 8:44 PM  


Joe Dipinto 8:53 PM  

A miscast actor misacts.

(That is all. Continue what you were doing.)

albatross shell 9:21 PM  

Thanks for the info. Thought it would have been neat for one of our own to be the Week's grand finale. I've enjoyed your puzzles in the past and have been anticpating the coming one. Congratulations in advance.

I checked and I do show up in blue here on my tablet. On my phone my name appears in black. I might be using instead of I'll have to check.

Eric 9:49 PM  

It depends on whether the vector is closer to south or east. If you’re looking at a compass with east and south 90 degrees apart and you bisect them at 45 degrees between the two; if the vector of the direction from Wisconsin to Georgia is closer to south then it’s labeled SSE, but if it’s closer to east, it would be ESE.

Leapfinger 10:10 PM  

Hi @Joe!
Nell blu Dipinto de blu... True?

I see @Andrew Heinegg still answers in brief cryptics without indicating who he's answering about what or why. Luvly to know some things don't change.

@webwinger, was going to treat you to a brief treatise on surgical indications for hand fxs but then saw that you're an ophthalmologist so eye am sure you'll do well.

@Frantic Sloth (2-toed or 3-toed?) -- Too coincidental about your Kenny (a calico?)
When I was about 8yo, someone gave me a B&W kitten which I took home but my mother said I couldn't keep it, and it had to stay in the bathtub while it was in our apartment. So I named it Kenny though this was decades before South Park and spent the night in the bathroom with Kenny till he returned to kitten limbo in the morning.

@my lovely Gilly-fleur, we see @AliasZ only rarely at WPlay, and since I've not been back to NYC for a few years haven't had the pleasure of seeing him in the so-to-speak flesh. Personally, I blame Trump for coming between me and one of the most inventively original people I've met, ruddy Hungarian though he be. With luck, some things will prove reversible.

Keeping my leapfingers crossed for many happy returns

Joe Dipinto 10:24 PM  

@Leapfinger – certo! Nice to see you.

beam aims north 10:44 PM  

I loved, loved, loved the Miele dishwasher that came with a previous house.

That did not stop me from dropping in BOSCH right there. But when I figured out that was wrong, I knew it had to be my beloved MIELE.

That's about the only part of this puzzle I will wholeheartedly stand behind.

Anonymous 10:57 PM  

Moderator - just noticed that Anonymous has more than the allotted posts. Whats with that?

because we're a hoard.

Monty Boy 12:17 AM  

As usual, I liked this one a lot. To save you reading a long post, I agree with @LMS, @LEWIS and @NANCY. And the other positive comments. OFL's rant is silly.

Jill 1:11 AM  

I had a DNF because I figured one was in a rebus for those answers. I was so dang proud of myself for figuring out a rebus on my own too :( I was confused why one didn't fit in the down clues, though. Bummer of a solve for me.

Ho 2:15 AM  

I liked this one. Sorry it's not the general vibe.

jae 4:03 AM  

@leapy - nice to hear from you again. I’ve missed your wordwomenship....and hi @Frantic Sloth & Barbara S. new voices are always welcome

Frantic Sloth 7:29 AM  

Well, at the risk of angering the mod gods, I’ve got to make my replies.

@Z You can try throwing @M&A under the bus all you want, but the actual ear worm was all you, dude. I must thank you for the background on the rule of three. Unfortunate for me that I arrived too late to enjoy the spell caster era.

@Leapfinger What a bittersweet story of you and your Kenny. I’m hoping “kitten limbo” sounds worse than it was - please don’t feel the need to elaborate! Not a calico - mostly white with brindle-y markings. And finally, 2-toed some days, 3 on race days, but usually just under-toed.

@jae Thank you for your welcoming and this particular new voice is going to make a real effort (after today) to not monopolize the comments!

Cheers, all!

Mike T 6:09 PM  

This was extremely validating and I thank you for it

kitshef 9:02 PM  

Great theme, terrible fill (MISACTS, HAMA, FB STATUS, OLIN, VAC, SWOLE).

spacecraft 11:40 AM  

Very close to what OFC said, except I'm not as hung up on the Wed. vs. Thu. thing. After not being able to make sense in the NE--knowing there was a rebus-like trick somewhere, I cut to the revealer clue and worked that claustrophobic corner. Yeah, okay. But then the across entry is...gobbledygook. What a great trick it would be to have that be a real thing--even a PPP. Better would be to cram the ONE into a square, rebus-style, and have real entries both directions.

And there's a random one: SSE! And still more letter add-ons: AGAME (actually passable), FBSTATUS (not!). SWOLE not known to me but inferable; also in by crosses. The feature that bans this from Wednesday, if anything, is the extreme outlying stuff: MIELE, HAMA, MISACTS. But those would ban the puzzle period, were I editor. Linda HAMILTON, in her Terminator days, gets DOD. Easy enough, once I got the McGuffin, but joyless. Bogey.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

Actually quite easy on the whole, but burdened with a cumbersome "trick". Kept seeing "hogsworth" for one answer, and confused Tatum with Drew Barrymore. Not a clue what fbstatus was supposed to be, not being a moron.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

From Syndication Land

I solve on paper and in a puzzle like this when some answer doesn't make sense, I immediately look for the revealer clue. I got ONEUP very quickly then proceeded to enjoy the theme answers. I imagine that if you're solving online with an app, it's harder to see the revealer without it right in front of you. And it you're solving for speed you might lose a few seconds looking for it. Sigh...

rainforest 3:54 PM  

Fun puzzle which was gratifying to solve. I didn't care that it was "Thursday-like" on a Wednesday. Who says, anyway? Nice theme and revealer.

Seemingly a lot of PPP in there, but that never bothers me anyway. Sometimes you learn stuff. Actually, I liked having a tricky puzzle on Wednesday.

Lots to like in this one, even if for some there nits to pick, but what is the point?

Burma Shave 5:42 PM  


SHE’s the HOT DATA guy wants to CARESS,
GAZEINTO her eyes ENOUGH, more or less,
OOH, SHE just can’t be SATIATED.


leftcoaster 6:02 PM  

Wanted this to work as a rebus, but didn't figure out to make the extra letters work in the themers. Although getting all the words that *should* have worked, didn't get the upside-down ONEs and how *they* worked.

Sticky, tricky, gimmicky, but pretty clever too.

leftcoaster 7:40 PM  

Actually, forgot to post on this one. Was fixed on what a tangled web this was, for a Wednesday.

Anonymous 3:37 AM  

Really disliked this one. Blew through the upper left corner but it's so secluded that it was no help on the rest of the puzzle. 18A is very poorly executed. Assuming, like me, you don't remember elementary school math terms, it's very easy to end up with ZO*EFENSE and a word you know is supposed to be ZONEDEFENSE. Until I got to 69A, I assumed the theme was dropping DE from things.

Felt way too obscure for a Wednesday between Mieles, Quires, Addend, Misacts, lady from a 70-year-old movie, Hama, lady from a 47-year-old movie, Enoki, and whoever Ken Olin is.

Big thumbs down to this one.

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