Opera style using everyday events rather than myth / FRI 3-13-20 / Jousting venue informally / Aromatic flower from China / Situated away from point of origin / League standings format

Friday, March 13, 2020

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Medium (5:50 I think, somewhere in there) 

THEME: National PANDA Day (17A: National ___ Day (March 16 observance, appropriate to this puzzle) — grid looks like a panda, I guess. Plus there are two panda-related answers, both huge reaches:

Theme answers:
  • 10D: Like 17-Across (BLACK AND WHITE)
  • 11D: Home for some famous 17-Acrosses (WASHINGTON ZOO)
Word of the Day: VERISMO (1A: Opera style using everyday events rather than myth) —


the use of everyday life and actions in artistic works: introduced into opera in the early 1900s in reaction to contemporary conventions, which were seen as artificial and untruthful. (dictionary.com)
• • •

I don't have time for this. I don't have time for bad Fridays. I especially don't have time for bad *themed* Fridays. I don't have time for puzzles that try so hard to be cutesy and miss the mark this bad. There is no such thing as National PANDA Day, or, if there is, it is no more an "observance" than National Artichoke Day (also March 16). And anyway, today is not March 16. It is, however, Friday the 13th, and yet we somehow *dont* have a Friday the 13th-themed puzzle (unless the badness of this puzzle ... is the point? Is it all of our bad fortune to have to do this puzzle? If that is the point, then kudos, man, that is some Jedi mind stuff). OR WORSE is awful fill. INDENTER is awful fill. VERISMO crossing MUR at the "M" is dicey and bad. AT NINE, bad. DISTAL crossing NSC, ugh. SOLD AS IS, genuine woof material. Are the unchecked "P" and "A" supposed to be cute. "Look at me, I'm breaking rules!" This puzzle is not good enough—not nearly good enough—to break the rules. But in the end, the worst rule it broke was "Where Is My Bouncy *Themeless* Friday!!?!?"

Crossword Twitter hates it too. Half of poster are mad because SPIRIT ANIMAL is some culturally appropriative new-agey borderline-racist junk, and the other half are mad because apparently no one says "The WASHINGTON ZOO." Looks like all humans except the people responsible for this puzzle call it the National Zoo. Ugh, SPIRIT ANIMAL. The clue is tin-eared (15D: Representation of one's personality in the natural world). The concept of the SPIRIT ANIMAL has its roots in Native American spirituality, but then the phrase became an internet meme of sorts where people would claim "so and so is my SPIRIT ANIMAL" and often the "animals" weren't even animals. They'd be celebrities, sports stars, whatever.  Anyway, as clued, SPIRIT ANIMAL made me wince. It is the Washington Redskins of crossword answers. It is the Atlanta Braves Tomahawk Chop of answers. It's gross. Do better, NYTXW.

Wadding this one up and throwing it in the garbage. We're in a time of national crisis; crosswords are gonna have to step up! This one promised good times, with its silly panda-looking black square arrangement, but it was all horrible after that. I think my favorite thing about the puzzle, besides the great and (unlike this puzzle) entertaining Allen IVERSON, is OREOS, because that answer runs right across the pictorial panda's nose and, like PANDAs, is BLACK AND WHITE. Look at me, ending on a positive note!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. David Kwong reminded me that *he* did a puzzle a few years back (Nov. 2015) that ... well, just look:

I mean ... look at that. A less PANDA-like black square design, perhaps, but still. Black squares make panda face, and PANDA is handled is that same very unusual manner, with the "P" and "A" unchecked. David's puzzle is infinitely superior, not least because he actually makes that "P" and "A" part of the theme gimmick. But wow. Today's puzzle wasn't just rubbish, it was knock-off rubbish. Really bad form by both Alex Eaton-Salners and (esp.) Will Shortz, who should keep better track of the puzzles he runs and not let constructors rip each other off.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Richardf8 12:10 AM  

This was good, lighthearted fun. Not Friday challenging, but the difference between yesterday’s puzzle and this one was BLACK AND WHITE. The cluing was snappy and the fill interesting. As tired as OREOS may be in a puzzle, even it leaned into the theme. And good to hear that PANDA populations are strong enough to support a BOW AND ARROW season.

Joaquin 12:12 AM  

Does this mean Rex will not be my spirit animal?

CDilly52 12:46 AM  

All I can say is that I am confused. Friday on Thursday and Thursday on Friday and a sort of cute panda face on grid hut nothing humorous, clever or endearing in the puzzle. But I have been to the National (WASHINGTON) ZOO several times, the first not long after the pandas arrived and all of the US was enthralled with a “PandaCam”. Both the zoo and Wild Animal Park are excellent venues and such exciting, fun and don’t leave out educational places for children.

Finished. Not memorable but my streak continues.

Z 12:49 AM  

I thought maybe it was National Clown Day and the grid art was supposed to be the clown from It.That seems more Friday the 13th appropriate. No way to make this into a Monday puzzle, so maybe set it aside until March 16 falls on a Wednesday and clean up the cluing?

I know romaine is susceptible to E. COLi, but apparently it gets into TEA ROSE as well!

@Richardf8 - INDENTER and REN FAIRE (is that some Star Wars™️ thing?) are a couple of SO AND SOS, The JOAN and IRA clues are too cute by half as are the “Pro”/“Not pro” clues, and the French answers are usually a little more 1st semesterish than MUR and NOIRE. Hard pressed to see anything light-hearted here.

Christmastopher Ford 12:52 AM  

Ugh MUR crossing VERSIMO added thirty seconds to my time. Which was the best part of this puzzle -- how easy it was. I guess there's no glory in getting a record time on an easy puzzle though.

Anoa Bob 1:16 AM  

OK, I've counted three times and I still don't believe it. Fifty-eight black squares!? That must be a record. Must count again.

I'll go stand in the corner with @Z. Looks like a CLOWN face to me.

I would have bet big bucks that 12D is spelled PESCATARIANS. And NEOPOLITAN for 19D.

"Hey, you wanta renta short terma? Nah, I want a LEASA LONGA."

okanaganer 1:17 AM  

OMG lighten up Rex and other folks. This was fun, who bloody cares what day of the week it is.

I Naticked at square 23; I had LEISA LONGA crossing ICK. Pretty forgivable, I submit.

I also iMMEDIATEly saw the panda!! And when that was confirmed I had the thought: I've heard of a 'one trick pony', but this image is a 'one bit panda'.

jae 1:47 AM  

Medium. Me too for wanting National. Kinda liked it, although the VERISMO/MUR cross is a tad evil and I agree with Rex about the new-agey borderline racist junk. That said, Jeff gave it POW. It seems he really likes PANDAS.

CDilly52 1:57 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin 3:49 AM  

This had lots of problems. But the way PANDA was laid out with the no-cross end, I thought maybe there was some sort of “P and A” thing going on. I could find anything. Alas. At the very least, all the clues could have easily written to start with a P or A.

Seth 4:09 AM  

No way to make this into a Monday puzzle? Just...make a panda themed Monday. That sounds like an extremely reasonable thing to do. Yes, the puzzle would probably have to be a different layout, but so what?

Seth 4:12 AM  

Because it would have been SO EASY to run a panda-themed puzzle on Monday the actual 16th. There is absolutely nothing preventing them from doing that. If you're gonna pick a random observance to celebrate, do it on the actual day! Not hard.

Alexandra M 5:35 AM  

Did anyone else see a clown in the empty grid? Also has five letters, threw me off for quite a while...

Unknown 6:05 AM  

I find that if I let go of provincial “rules”, life is more enjoyable.

Anonymous 6:22 AM  

I don't care about rules, just about having a puzzle that's relaxing and enjoyable with my morning coffee. This wasn't it.

Teresa 6:36 AM  

I hated it on sight, and I'm not a clownophobe. I too thought that's what that creature was at first. It's creepy, and worse, it reminds me of those supermarket xword puzzle books I might have splurged on when I was ten and even then found unsatisfying. And what has happened to the NYT rules established 100 years ago, e.g., diagonal mirror image? This isn't the first time it's gone off the rails lately. Say what you want, standards are what make the NYT worth doing.

Lance 6:39 AM  

43 across is no longer an accurate clue. Both the NIT and the NCAA tournament used to happen every year. I’m suffering from March Sadness

webwinger 6:49 AM  

Another fine review from OFL, just what we need in these dark times. Agree that the best thing about this puzzle was the cutesy grid, and that it’s always called the National ZOO. My dismaydar completely missed the offensiveness of SPIRIT ANIMAL, but I guess it has sort of morphed into something yucky. Solve started out hard but finished (still avoiding Google) in slightly less than average time. Getting the two long down themers, and remembering PESCETARIANS, about halfway through definitely helped.

Having lived through the blizzard of 1979 in Chicago, I can’t help recalling now how the city’s then mayor, a Democratic “machine” guy elevated to office following the death of all-powerful Richard J. Daley, boasted that snow removal efforts had been highly successful when in fact everyone could see that most streets remained a total mess. He was defeated in his bid for re-election a couple months later. Our president’s mishandling of the current crisis, particularly his insistence that testing for the virus would not be a problem, could be what finally breaks his hold on the national electorate.

Lewis 6:53 AM  

Some observations:
* I took one look at the terrific grid art, thought "panda", and when I came to 17A, I slapped that word right in.
* ITS -- I'm terribly guilty of putting that apostrophe in when I shouldn't. I see it all the time in re-reads of my writing.
* PESCETARIAN appears to be a legitimate spelling, but PESCATARIAN is far more common, as a Google search shows.
* Words I once knew but forgot until one or two crosses retrieved them: OZMA, IVERSON, VERISMO.

Pandas, cuddly beings that they are, make me smile, and it sure is a good time for anything smile producing. There was also grit overcome and memories re-awakened in this one, so I left it in a very nice place, and thank you very much for that, Alex!

sf27shirley 6:53 AM  

Hemingway two days in a row, is that a first? If anyone besides me is interested in him, I've written an essay on his politics (more radical than is commonly believed) and death (after involuntarily given electric shock that destroyed his ability to write). It can be read at www.necessarystorms.com

Unknown 7:23 AM  

Pandas make me smile. I thought OfL might like the cheer but it wasn't perfect so he couldn't smile... The wrong name for the zoo was tricky but the right name didn't fit so we got it.

I'm just going to enjoy the puzzle. Shme no one else does.

Spirit Animal 7:27 AM  

As the great Tom Lehrer song goes, "When correctly viewed/Everything is lewd!"

Hungry Mother 7:32 AM  

I wrote iCK instead of ACK and got a reasonable name for someone I had never heard of. So DNF. Nice picture. I saw a PANDA at the San Diego Zoo, which I tried to squeeze in at first.

J. Smithson 7:41 AM  

Live in DC. Started in northeast and worked down. Had WASHINGTON_OO. Stared at it for what seemed like forever, scratching head while having breakfast in my home off of Connecticut Ave in NW DC within one half mile of the National Zoo. Left it and went elsewhere. After getting PANDA, had my OMFG moment. Really? WASHINGTON ZOO?!?!?!?

No such animal (or place to house them) around here.

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

@J. Smithson, I’m also a DC native. And I too stared at WASHINGTON_OO. Everyone here calls it the National Zoo. Everyone.

And I’m ashamed to admit this is my first DNF in as long as I can remember. My husband is French - like, really French. Born and raised in Paris. Has been trying to get me to learn the language for years. And I could not get 6D.

@Hungry Mother, I also had “ICK”.

Moving on to the acrostic now. Hope it’s a better puzzle!

GILL I. 7:58 AM  

I downloaded my puzzle and saw a PANDA immediately because I'm good at those things.
Evidently I don't know LEASALO whatever nor the NIH from Bethesda nor that soap GAIN nor what DISTAL means. I had three holes that were never filled in.
I got WASHINGTON ZOO because I knew it was a zoo in Washington. I don't really like zoos. The only one I enjoyed was the Sand Diego one. They let a lot of their animals roam in their somewhat environment. Plus, you get to ride in a cart. ZOOs are they way of the future because we tend to kill off exotic animals - especially if you're an albino giraffe with a baby.
I'm not ANTI SEX...just ANTI stupidity. I love PANDAS, though. The Chinese know how to care for them in a bodacious way.
Well I misspelled those non eating meat people just like the rest of you. I could become one. I have to ask you PESCETARIANS something. I know some vegetarians and they always say that they can't stand how animals are killed and all that so they go the vegetable route. But many of them say they will eat fish because IT'S good for you. HAVE YOU SEEN HOW THOSE FISH ARE CAPTURED? They haul them in flapping till they die or maybe you thrust a BOW AND ARROW through ITS body.....ACK. I sometime wonder if plants have feelings, too.
I missed my Thursday fun - and now I've missed my Friday hoo-boy. You gave me a cute PANDA and a TEA ROSE. Oh and I miss JOAN Rivers. Boy could she make me laugh......

LeaveItToYourGoat 8:42 AM  

Naticks were everywhere. VERISMO/MUR is criminal. LEA SALONGA crossing ACK and NIH is gross. NOIRE and NSC // DISTAL and MARCONI was Natick City. I had the M and I in place for MARCONI, and all I could think of was "Antonio Meucci invented the telephone and he got robbed!"

I've never heard of a REN FAIRE, but I'm well aware of the concept of a Renaissance Fair without the E or a Renaissance Festival. I had PESCaTARIAN for way too long.

It felt like a cruel joke to have NIT clued as it was after the NCAA cancellations announced yesterday.

Lastly, how can you put NIP, NIT, NIH, and NIX all in the same puzzle?

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

I liked it. That there really is no such thing as National Panda Day doesn’t bother me. Crossword Twitter thinks Spirit Animal is racist. Too funny,

JJK 8:52 AM  

I love pandas but thought this puzzle was awful. National Panda Day? Never heard of it and could not fill the answer in for a long time. The blog is confusing because Rex seems to have forgotten to change the heading from Thursday to Friday (maybe it’s just my browser) and since I already have some trouble keeping the days of the week straight, this had me a bit flummoxed.

I agree with Rex’s review and missed having a nice themeless Friday.

Also, the grid did not look like either a panda or a clown to me, more like a jack-o-lantern, adding to my disoriented feeling.

I’m sure PESCETARIANS should be PESCATARIANS, A ridiculous made-up word as it is.

mmorgan 9:05 AM  

I also had clown for awhile, but couldn’t figure out why they might be BLACKANDWHITE. This was the kind of puzzle I stared and stared and stared at and then it just got filled in with a whoosh. Lots of answers were satisfying to get. I knew neither VERISMO nor MUR but I found that M easy to infer. Crossword Twitter notwithstanding, I liked this!

Rube 9:05 AM  

Add me to the chorus. I stared at WASH..._OO , pesce...cannot be pronounced with the hard C, the picture is a clown, I don't know how pro means plus, and on and on.

We know that three letter words are necessary evils. Why construct a puzzle that needs so many?

The last letters I filled in were the P and the A. That can't be what the constructor had in mind but thats what (s)he produced

QuasiMojo 9:06 AM  

What isn't racist??

I may be arch at times but I'm no archer but I need to ask, does one actually DRAW the arrow in the sport? You draw the bow, for sure but the arrow just kind of follows along.

Cutesy puzzles bring down the quality of the old NYT but frankly folks it hasn't been like that for years.

Having once appeared in a VERISMO opera (I was a supernumerary, and was super at it) I got that without even skipping a beat.

My heart did stop momentarily when I got to JOAN Rivers. I hope the constructor knows she's dead. Odd clue. Although all of you Manhattanites will recall her voice in taxi cabs for years. It made one want to walk in a hail storm.

P and A according to the Urban Dictionary means Passive/Aggressive. Chew on that eucalyptus.

Suzie Q 9:11 AM  

Pretty meh today. Ripped off two days in a row? Discouraging.
I'm surprised no one has objected to 3, possibly 4, ANDs in the grid.
So and sos.
Black and white.
Bow and arrow.

When I saw the clue "Bad place for a long run" my first thought was
"Long pier"?

pabloinnh 9:14 AM  

Now that the ICK crowd is growing, I feel better. Should have remembered Bill the Cat, which would have led to ACK almost immediately. The actress was a complete unknown and I'm still having trouble seeing where her first name ends and her last name begins.

MUR I knew and VERISMO looked vaguely familiar, eventually. San Diego has a fine zoo with pandas, but I couldn't make it fit.

I didn't have a SPIRITANIMAL, and after getting the clue realized I really wanted an otter for such a thing, and then read OFL, and now I'm sad because my otter went away before he got here.

The grid looked very much like a panda, which is about the nicest thing I have to say about this disappointing Friday.

Frantic Sloth 9:17 AM  

Like some others, it was the clown that jumped out at me...as is their wont, the creepy SOANDSOS. And so I plunked that sucker right into 17A. Took several minutes before I could redeem myself, but I was much happier and that's all that counts.

Did anyone else read the Atlantic article that Rex cited and think "Geico camel"????

Thanks to Rex, I am now woke about "spirit animal", (which would have been sort of obvious with any amount of actual thought) it saddens me to realize that I can no longer claim Fredo Corleone as mine.
(Apologies for the rerun)

PANDA ITS OREOS sounds like something a Hamburglar-type Cookie Monster might do in an utterly adorable way.

Z 9:28 AM  

I guess you can lawyer it out of being a crime (IT’S a ZOO in WASHINGTON so it is a WASHINGTON ZOO), but it is The National Zoological Park or just The National Zoo. I don’t live in DC, so that didn’t really register, but that seems beyond “cute misdirect” and into egregious “not a thingness.”

@Anon8:46 reminds me, when every day is “special” no day is special. And now every day is “National x thing we want to sell Day.”

For those who dislike VERISMO/MUR, things could have been different (I don’t know if “worse” or “better” would apply). From the constructor notes at xwordinfo.com:
The only difference was at the top of the grid, where I had HARISSA at 1-Across. Will didn't like HARISSA in that slot and suggested some alternate fill headed by VERISMO. That left the VERISMO/MUR crossing, which I find less elegant than HARISSA/SUR. But, I trust Will to know his audience!

PapaLeRoux 9:29 AM  

Julie and I had fun once we got going. What okanaganer said. Stay well, people.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

Does crossword Twitter have a problem with Nip clued as small drink ? I know you can’t say Chink in the armor anymore. It’s all so confusing.

T. Edison 9:31 AM  

If I can't have a spirit animal then Native Americans can't use electricity.

Sir Hillary 9:36 AM  

Disappointing for sure. When a puzzle only has 60 words, and they include ESAS, ESC, ITS, HIE, ACK, ATNINE, NIH, NIT, OZMA, SOL, RENFAIRE, INDENTER, ROO, MUR and OJS -- well, that's a quarter of your entries right there. "ACK" is right!

The VERISMO/MUR crossing isn't "dicey and bad" -- ITS absolutely horrible and should never have been allowed to happen.

Maybe I'm easily triggered by current events, but ECOLI and ORWORSE took on sad appropriateness, as did the unintentional irony/incorrectness of ESPN and NIT.

I'm a sports nut, and have never heard the format of league standings referred to as a LADDER. Maybe that's just me.

Didn't mind the clues for IRA and JOAN, but the one for NOUN annoyed me.

Hope everyone out there is doing OK. I feel like this was the wrong week for subpar puzzles, especially the last two days.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Yes, absolutely! And I figured (VERY wrongly) that their home (11D) must end in BOO. Big DNF for me.

Anonymoose 9:39 AM  

Baby shoes, worn, SOLD AS IS

Nancy 9:42 AM  

My NYT is late. Very late. Don't know when -- or even if -- it will get here and don't know when or if I'll be able to comment. Skimmed past y'all with my eyes closed so as not to spoil it for myself. Anyway, don't worry about me if I'm not around until later or not at all.

This better not happen tomorrow, New York Times, when the Saturday and advanced Sunday (including the Magazine) are delivered. This better not happen tomorrow!!!

Lewis 9:46 AM  

@quasi -- Laughed at your hailstorm comment!

Ronnie Ray 10:03 AM  

I had CANDY. National Candy Day seemed like a thing. Of course it threw my south-east corner way off.

8th grade boy 10:07 AM  

@Anonymous 9:29. I related "NIP" to the 39D clue.

Joaquin 10:14 AM  

National Panda Day Pro Tip: Skillet braise the panda and then roast at 350° for an hour. Pairs well with a nice merlot.

Exception: If your spirit animal is a panda, get some Chinese take-out.

David 10:22 AM  

So SPIRIT ANIMAL, a phrase I never use, is somehow racist. ACK, just when I think I’m sufficiently outraged I learn I need to be more so.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Crossword Twitter is comprised of privileged white people. Who cares what they think ?

jberg 10:31 AM  

@webwinger -- wasn't that "Democratic machine guy" Jane Byrne?

Me too for iCK/LEi; seemed a bit more Yikes!-like than ACK. And me too for thinking you draw the bow, not the arrow (you notch an arrow). But aside from that, I did enjoy the puzzle, with its share of tricky clues.

Btw, if 49A, SHOES, had been clued as "saddle, e.g." we'd have another central Black and white.

The uncrossed P and A, though -- that was going to far. If you do it, you have to do something with it.

TJS 10:31 AM  

In the minority again. I enjoyed this one. Quite a few places where I had to actually stop and try to rev up my brain to remember/figure out something, which I know is anathema to ol' speedsolver Rex. Love how he cherry-picks the twits to support his rants, btw. And just because some super-wokes have shanghied a term from Native Americans doesn't mean we all have to be appalled.
@Z, I would think "noire" is about as 1st semesterish as it gets.
Adding zoo to washington was one of the last entries,only after finally getting the p and a for our theme entry. Right in line with @Lewis on this one.
First reaction to 9 down was definitely "short pier" before seeing only 4 boxes.
One more month in the D.R. before flying home to Chicago, assuming anyone is allowed to fly anywhere by then. Strange times. Good luck to all.

Petsounds 10:39 AM  

I'm amazed at how many people looked at the grid and saw a clown. I saw a panda right away, and if I hadn't been able to fill in a few clues on that basis, I think I might have scrapped this one, and streaks be damned.

Also amazed that some found the puzzle easy; I really struggled and Naticked with LEASOLANGA because in what world does GAIN mean "put on?" JOAN Rivers lived primarily in California for years before her death, so "Rivers of New York City" did not ring the JOAN bell and led me first to "Jerry" (as in Geraldo Rivera), which didn't fit, and then to just...Huh? Too big a stretch to get dopey geographical misdirect. And I didn't have the J because... is OJ a brunch drink--or is a mimosa, which contains OJ? OJ may be a breakfast drink, but if you're at a brunch where the beverage being served is OJ without champagne, I'm sorry for you.

"Pro" means PLUS? So I'm a PLUS at my job? I'm PLUS-Medicare for all? I checked a thesaurus; no sign of PRO = PLUS. And "You name it" means NOUN? On what planet? Spelling PESCATARIAN correctly gave me "The SAA" as a Hemingway novel.

And finally, 'way too many shorties and abbrevs.

Sloppy, uninspired (the panda theme didn't go anywhere), and wrong in so many ways. Hated it.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:43 AM  

I bet they're planning an artichoke-themed puzzle for Monday.

burtonkd 10:43 AM  

@Quasi, terrific post. Supernumerary reminds me of the probably racist term for that role: spear chucker, a relative of an archer, perhaps? Times are slowly changing for the better.
I was wondering the same about the JOAN Rivers clue. Who knows how long this puzzle has been in queue?
I guess the PANDA can be the SPIRITANIMAL for all those passive/aggressive types:)

Interesting that in wokeworld, putting a dictator in is a form of tribute, but putting a native american tradition in is a form of denigration.

The overall puzzle shape scares me because you feel like you can't get a foothold into all those long answers with short crosses, but after chipping away, it all falls into place - satisfying to complete something you feel you won't.

I saw a jack-o-lantern.

@T.Edison - there's an interesting discussion to be had in your jokey post. People sharing ideas and cross cultural borrowing has always been a thing that led to greater outcomes all around.(Watch Ken Burns Country Music doc as an example of ideas flowing every direction). Yes, there are peoples who have been subjugated and their work stolen and monetized, and this shouldn't be trivialized, but the trend toward absolute siloism frequently seems to throw the baby out with the bathwater, shoes or not. Now I'll go read the Atlantic to find out what a SOANDSO I've just been...

When Rex opened with BLACKANDWHITE and WASHINGTONZOO being a "huge reach" for a PANDA theme, I knew what kind of writeup I was in for...

Nancy 10:50 AM  

Paper finally got here. Not to my door, but left with the doorman. Anyway, because I looked at the clock to see when it arrived (10:08!!!!), I have a rough idea for once approximately how long the puzzle took me. Somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes.

A mix of somewhat hard and very easy, with crosses that helped immeasurably with the harder answers. I love PANDAs, so I found this puzzle quite adorable. And I haven't read y'all yet, nor am I good with grid art, but could that be a PANDA face staring up at me?

I had no idea while solving if the unchecked 17A would be a word such as, say, HANDS or something more like A AND P. Who knew that today was National PANDA Day? Certainly not me. But if anyone deserves a Day, they do. And, between WASHINGTON ZOO and BLACK AND WHITE, PANDA soon became obvious. One of the better tribute puzzles, I'd say -- really cute.

Dan 11:03 AM  

If you are listing the pros and cons of something, you could also call them PLUSses and minuses.

If you GAIN weight, you have put on weight.

For me PANDA was the first word I entered, having seen it in the grid art immediately upon opening the puzzle. What's really cool is that when you finish and the grid goes blurry in the background, it looks even more like a panda. Like, amazingly so.

What? 11:04 AM  

Bad stuff from Shortz lately. First we have a dead baby and now a PANDA with uncrossed Pand A. Never mind it looks like a clown, whoever heard of panda day? Anybody? If you did, you’re weird.
And 57 black squares?
“Something’s Coming, Something Bad”, from “Eastside Story”.

WA 11:04 AM  

Ren Faire? Panda Day?

If this was was my first puzzle, I would take up boxing instead.

JC66 11:05 AM  

@Susie Q

Short pier?


I thought I had GAINed weight, and when I weighed myself I had, in fact, PUT ON a few pounds.

Pete 11:10 AM  

@Greater.... inspired me to look up what other "days" we had awaiting us. Turns out, Mar 16-22 is Introverts Week. Didn't know we had one. Upon further research, the celebrations will take place in your respective man-caves (sorry for the gendered term there) when everyone else has gone to bed. Same as always. Good times.

PS I had GHOSTS. If I had thought of CLOWNS I would have quit.
PPS PANDAs have only barely visible lips, not that monstrosity shown in the puzzle.
PPPS I regularly get photos of my nephew's kids, all of whom live in DC, from the National Zoo. Never heard of that Washington one.

pmdm 11:13 AM  

I must admit to missing the artwork until having it pointed out to me. An amazing number of cheater squares in the puzzle.Could it be a record for the Friday? I guess I'm on the fence on how to rate this puzzle.

Nancy: It happened to me seven weeks in a row. Until I figured out how to access the Sunday Magazine via the replica edition, it was very irritating.

Z: In NYC, I think the official name of the organization that runs the zoo was changed from the Bronx Zoo to the Wildlife Conservation Society, but they still seem to embrace the name of the Bronx Zoo.

Joachim: I think my point yesterday was that there are valid and invalid reasons for abolishing certain entries. Sometimes it can be problematic to figure out which box fits. Obviously, not so for my example - which you pointed out.

Nancy 11:15 AM  

I forgot to mention my one big NIT, which seems not to dovetail with anyone else's NITS. Can anyone show me in a sentence how "Possibly not even that" = OR WORSE? That flummoxed me. "Possibly not even that" means OR LESS SERIOUS[LY]. Doesn't it?

@Quasi -- I laughed at your JOAN Rivers quip about walking in a hailstorm. But I'm actually much closer to @GILL -- JOAN was one of my favorite comedians. And I must say, I've never heard her voice in a taxi since I almost never take cabs. Only when I'm sick, when the weather is really ghastly or when I have luggage. When I have luggage, I become an absolute Princess. OZMA has nothing on me.

jb129 11:16 AM  

Salners on Friday :(

webwinger 11:18 AM  

@jberg 10:31: Jane Byrne, somewhat a political outsider who became Chicago’s first woman mayor, was the one who defeated machine guy Michael Bilandic. BTW, her name was affixed a while back to a notorious highway interchange near the Loop that has been undergoing reconstruction for about 7 years and won’t be done for at least 5 more.

Like your "saddle" clue!

Todd 11:22 AM  

Spirit animal is an idiotic thing. But not everything idiotic is racist. It must be tiring being Rex and having to be on duty 24/7 watching out for racism, sexism, etc in crosswords. But I guess he bears this cross so the rest of us don't have to. LOL.

Whatsername 11:25 AM  

I found this downright hard and freely admit to having no idea on the opera term, the physics Nobelist or the fish eaters. Anyway a few little cheats here and there finally got me going. Did not recognize the PANDA face but smiled once I saw it and loved the OREO in the middle. To me it looks incredibly similar to a panda but I could also see a clown or a Jack-o-lantern, as someone else mentioned. I agree with RP that IT’S odd to run a puzzle featuring March 16 on the 13th. And I was disappointed not to see at least a Friday the 13th mention, even though I know according to the rules of the Crossword gods that Fridays must be themeless.

Interesting to see Hemingway again, downgraded from six words to two. This puzzle brought to mind Eats, Shoots and Leaves which has a PANDA on the cover. Speaking of books, I’m wondering if others have heard the buzz about Dean Koontz’s 1981 novel “The Eyes of Darkness.” I’m not a fan of the horror genre, but it refers to a killer virus called Wuhan-400 which originates in China and was predicted to hit the world in the year 2020. Obviously a creepy coincidence but still, more than a little eerie.

@Nancy at 9:42 - I cant wait!

Rug Crazy 11:42 AM  

ACK!! totally sucked. Should have been clouded as "Half of an anti-artillery gun" - would have been slightly better . Guessed wrong on Verismo and Our - had Veristo and Tur. Worked for me

OffTheGrid 11:43 AM  

@Pete. The other location to celebrate introverts week would be a she-shed.

@Nancy. I had the same thought about OR WORSE.

I saw the clown at first look.

Thought the puzzle was fun.

If you have someone obligated to press your tab key would they be an INDENTERed servant?

The Clerk 11:46 AM  

The O in MOLE is perfectly placed on the panda’s face, a la Marilyn.

Carola 11:47 AM  

I thought it was cute, and it was Friday-level tough for me. I started out strong (I thought) with VERISMO but the 4 Downs it yielded me weren't enough to get the long Acrosses below, so it became a skip-around solve. Like @Ronnie Ray 10:03, I guessed "cANDy." with the grid art showing a smile of post-candy-consumption contentment; WASHINGTON ZOO corrected that error. I was bemused that I had no trouble remembering LEA SALONGA, despite never having seen the show; no idea why my memory filed that under Do Not Ever Forget. Small pleasure: MARCONI paired with Marilyn Monroe's MOLE.

RooMonster 11:47 AM  

Hey All !
Jack-o'-lantern here when first looked at it. Though I'm biased, in the fact that I made a Jack-o'-lantern themed puz once. Which, naturally, was rejected. Mine was Halloween themed, with the requisite 37 black squares, not 163 like in this puz. 😋

I too, had clown in first, and once I finally figured out BLACK AND WHITE, Sai T myself, "Clowns are usually multi-color, no? Unless you're talking jugalos (sp?). But then, they ain't clowns". After figuring out SO AND SOS, changed it to PriDe, but then that clashed with 11D's clue. Finally got PANDA.

Agree with whoever said too many ANDs. What's funny, is here in Las Vegas, there is an attorney company called Peter And Associates, and their commercials are constantly on the radio where they refer to themselves as P and A.

Writeovers aplenty, alt-ESC, niNeam-ATNINE, apop-EACH, TapROot-TEAROSE, idos-VOWS, eeK-eCK, nO_____-SOLDASIS, sIP-NIP, ESta-ESAS. Plus a DNF at 1A, VERaSsO, 19D, NEoPOLITAN, 16D/23A, LEeSALONGA. Ouch.

So a bizarre puz today. Also wondered why WASHINGTON ZOO had "informally" in the clue, but after reading y'all, I now know it's really the National ZOO.

OR WORSE it might not have been able to. Should've NIXed it, no matter how cute PANDAs are.

One F

Karl Grouch 11:49 AM  

That's exacctly what the constructor had in mind and then Shortz stepped in..
(If you're interested in more on that and the exact opposite of Rex's review go check Xword Info.)
That said, even if the original version had made the cut, the puzzle wouldn't. And that's only my opinion.

Geezer 11:50 AM  

The complete Hemingway title is, of course, The Old Man and the SEA.

Erik T. 11:50 AM  

Amen, Rex. This post alone guarantees another end-of-year donation.

TJS 11:51 AM  

@Nancy...I can't come up with an example for the "Or worse" issue but somehow I think their in the same ballpark. It's kinda tortured, tho. There are a lot of stretches in this one, "plus" mur crossing verismo" "ladder" etc. but I still found the challenge out-weighed the questionable. Thinking your plan of commenting prior to reading other opinions might be the way to go but it's hard to put off reading OFLs daily appalled reaction.

BigJ 11:54 AM  


If you Google March 16, The first "Day" that pops up is "NATIONAL CROSSWORD DAY"! I'd call that Ironic!

George 12:00 PM  

Yeah, I think the concept of SPIRITANIMAL is just plain ridiculous, so I'm not gonna worry about the racist implications. However, along those lines I can pretty much guess that all those people with dream catchers hanging from their rear view mirrors are probably racist SPIRITANIMAL people.

Took me forever to get PANDA, and yeah the concept of PANDA day is as hokey as SPIRITANIMALs, so I agree with Rex, this puzzle sux.

Frantic Sloth 12:01 PM  

Oh, dear @Whatsername - gird your loins, girl. The inevitable onslaught of truth-sayers is a-coming atcha.

Sgreennyc 12:05 PM  

I read Rex for the same reason I’ll watch a Trump rally: to see what crazy shit he’s going to say or write today. The two of them are flip sides of the same coin. Rex’s political correctness has gone beyond the border of parody so that now it’s just sad.

Masked and Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Sooo … nobody went with National M AND A Day, as their first choice? Well, a lotta folks guessed CLOWN first [includin m&e], so that was pretty close.

Had a buncha trouble avoidin precious nanosecond sinkholes, uptop. I blame the feisty & mysterious RENFAIRE + VERISMO + MUR + INDENTER + shy PANDA mix.

staff weeject pick: MUR. Somewhat better clue: {Mixed drink??}. Honrable mention (and yo) to ROO.

Finally figured out the PANDA theme mcguffin, when I got WASHINGTONZOO. Great E-W symmetry puzgrid pic of the critter in question. Also thoroughly enjoyed the giant Jaws of Themelessness PANDA ears.

Thanx, Mr. E-S. Happy Friday the 13th. {March 16 honoree that eats, shoots and leaves?}, or somesuch, woulda been an interestin revealer clue. Just sayin.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


Ernonymous 12:27 PM  

I could not figure out what the grid art and 5 letter word was supposed to be. I knew once I got it, I'd want to bite myself with my Spirit Animal. I thought SMILE at first and I wrote that in. When I saw the clue "where it lives" I took SMILE out since they only live on your face. Following that I had: emoji, clown, doggy, Goofy, Pluto, lovable dog everyone knows but I can't recall? Then I squinted my eyes and stared at it and thought really hard and I got: SNOOPY, SpongeBob, Clifford, Arthur, Raggedy Andy, The JOKER! Eventually I got BLACK AND WHITE so it hit me! PIXEL! National Pixel Day and they live in CYBERSPACE or on OURSCREENS.

Eventually I had the OO, which led me to ZOO and immediately I knew PANDA. Here at ZOO Atlanta we have baby twin pandas and I just saw them. I am sorry but this does not look like a Panda. The mouth is wrong. It looks like a creepy clown troubadour doll.

I'm an opera nut and know lots of languages so VERISMO and MUR was okay for me but the rest of the puzzle was very hard for me. It seemed to not be very connected. Usually I struggle with Fridays but after entering a word, I get another word from that, and slowly bang it out. This was not smooth at all.


Barbara S. 12:31 PM  

I fell heavily into the clown camp from the get-go and completed a surprising amount of the puzzle before tumbling to PANDA. I even filled in BLACKANDWHITE thinking that in this grid the clown is black and white. Brain not properly plugged in, I guess. It was only when I got WASHINGTONZOO that something started to seem seriously fishy. (And I didn't even know the name was wrong.)

I thought the noted MM feature (39D) was moue -- I'm sure there are any number of famous clips of Marilyn air-kissing the camera. The correct answer, MOLE, crossed 46A ECOLI (strain to recall?), which also gave me trouble for a while. But wait, I've just looked up "moue" and it's said to convey "annoyance or distaste," so off-track again.

As an erstwhile editor I was gratified to see 21A ITS (common recipient of an erroneous apostrophe). And how!

** QuasiMojo 9:06
"Cupid, draw back your bow
And let your arrow go
Straight to my lover's heart for me..."

Sam Cooke knew. Mind you, he does say "draw back" rather than simply "draw."

** Nancy 11:15
How about: "With the weather this bad, I can only think we'll have a cloudy day OR WORSE (or not even that, i.e. it'll rain).

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

You'd have to search really really really hard to find some new agey type person who selected a spirit animal because they're also racist. Oh they might be out there, but as one of racism's bigger evils (like voting rights), some guy sitting in his house thinking, "I'm a panda," this ranks impossibly low.

@M&A, thanks for eats shoots and leaves and giant Jaws of Themelessness PANDA ears! Hilarious and memorable.

Suzie Q 12:47 PM  

I meant my first thought about long run was Short pier.

albatross shell 12:48 PM  

I guess fish-eaters have two spellings they can use. SEA was definitely correct so I gave in. I googled NEO V. NEA for politan. Learned little, but acquired a higher state of confusion-ment.

You draw the bow by pulling the string. Occasionally hear drawing the bowstring. And when you do the arrow is drawn back. So common definition works, but the technical language does not. The "notch" in an arrow is properly called a nock. And to put the nock on the bowstring is to nock the arrow. The bow also has nocks that the bowstring loops fit in.

LADDER is most often used in tennis to rank players in a club, possibly a league. In my experience anyhoo.

I saw an open mouth with uvula. Was expecting a dentist theme. Rex's complaints had more validity today than yesterday. I do not get that upset at day of the week exceptions though. If the weekly structure were completely abandoned I would object.

GAIN and OREOS good clues. Haven't quite figured out pro for PLUS.

I got home late last night and did not get to comment on yesterday's puzzle. I posted there this morning because I disagreed with the general opinion. My comments may not pass the breakfast test. If you want to reply do it there. I'll check it out. Not talking song lyrics. Those I typed up as a passenger.

Z 12:49 PM  

Wondering what was “border-line racist” about SPIRIT ANIMAL, I read the link. Huh, Not fully convinced but “border-line” seems pretty accurate.

@burtonkd - I despise the term “cultural appropriation” because it misuses two concepts and thus hides the actual issues. “Plagiarism and monetizing oppressed people’s art” is very different than, say, buying a dream catcher from a Native American artist. Anyway, from the article it seems the issue is people being more insensitive and ignorant than anything else. My son who studies Eastern Religions often discusses parallels between Native American religions and Eastern Religions. He, too, gets irked by how things like yoga get divorced from the cultural roots.

Dave S 12:52 PM  

Yeesh, I though I was in tune with Rex's proclivities but the vehemence of his dismissal of this puzzle caught me by surprise. Only thing I thought that could cause dismay was the easiness and maybe the slight nudge-nudge of the Marilyn Monroe clue. I flew through this one despite having to assemble Lea Salonga entirely through crosses before it finally clicked. Wasn't my favorite, but only because I thought the rigidity of the panda grid required too many short, quick answers. I guess I'll have to check out twitter to find out why the rather generic clue for the commonly used spirit animal is so offensive. Or not.

Knitwit 1:03 PM  

I saw a ghost, so that was not a good start for me... Took forever to get Washington Zoo. RENFAIRE was the last to go in-not familiar with that term even though my son wanted to grow up to BE a knight so we attended quite a few of those back in the day.
This was kind of cute and was a good diversion from everything else here in Westchester, NY. Keep washing those hands everyone!

Parenthetically Sppeaking 1:19 PM  

Omg - zoo!! Whether Washington or national (hey - isn’t that a team? You know there’s no I in team but there is a me) a zoo is a place where real animals (not spirit ones but real, live flesh and blood ((a little redundant perhaps but for emphasis, some kind of rhetorical device and hey, aren’t we all wordies here?)) ones) are caged up! And Pandas! The baseball team zoo has appropriated them (which is more offensive, actual appropriation or cultural appropriation? Well, OK, the zoo didn’t actually appropriate the pandas; they were appropriately acquired) from China! (Well, it’s ((or its? Or maybe it is to be safe)) red China so maybe the cute “bears” ((you know they are not bears, right)) are better off here, unless of course they get the novel new virus ((but they won’t because America has the best response and anyway it’s (((omg, that again))) gonna be gone by April.))).

Teedmn 1:29 PM  

"Well I've been around the world
And I've been to the Washington Zoo
And in all my travels
As the facts unravel
I've found this to be true"

So am I the only one who got 11D thanks to Steely Dan?

When I saw this grid, I groaned and said to my co-worker, "Dead babies yesterday and today we have a clown" (hi @M&A). Co-worker said, "Looks like a panda to me". That helped a tad with this puzzle. (Ironically, co-worker then put in "clown" due to my mistake).

Meanwhile, I took a long time to solve this, only to end up with 3 errors. Like @Gill I, I don't know LEASALONGA. I figured the S could be an L, an F or an S. My co-worker (who is a fellow pescAtarian, we both spell it that way) went with the E version of the word because he recognized that 27A was referring to "The Old Man and the SEA". This went over my head so I actually had 4 errors. NSC crossing DISTAL was another. Now I remember the DISTAL fin on a fish but the NSC acronym ESC'ed me.

My final error was classic. 44A was _AIN and I ran the alphabet, got to fAIN, thought "feign" = "put on" and stopped. FAIN is a (Shakespeare-esque) word but not equal to "put on". Mental homophone error.

At long last, I FWE'd and looked at the constructor. I should have known - AES gets me almost every time. I never get him.

burtonkd 1:30 PM  

If you turn on your SAT brain, the "m" in VERISMO is inferrable if you think of the related term for art that reflects reality VERISIMILITUDE. You're welcome, I'll see myself out...

QuasiMojo 1:33 PM  

Thank you @ Barbara S -- gotta love Sam Cooke.

Frog Prince Kisser 1:38 PM  

@Nancy 11:15 AM
Re: “JOAN was one of my favorite comedians.”
Do you know that she graduated from your (our) alma mater in 1954?

Anonymous 1:49 PM  


RooMonster 1:52 PM  

My brain hurts after reading @Parenthetically Speaking.

Meant to say in my last post, the P and A attorneys have a jingle that goes, 🎵Call PANDA Law, 818-xxx-xxxx🎵

Pro, as in Pros and Cons.

Best thing about this puz? Why, ROO, of course.

RooMonster OREOS Eater Guy

old timer 1:53 PM  

The puzzle was Fridayish in one respect: Lots of white space to stare at before a few short answers cued the longer ones. Way too hard to run on a Monday. But yeah, this belonged on a Thursday, and I wanted a traditional difficult themeless today.

Now if my formerly vegan daughter were a carnivore rather than a vegetarian, she still wouldn't eat meat. (Where we live, our milk comes from local, well-treated cows, though our Clover brand is now so popular they have to also buy milk from elsewhere in the state, but for the most part, dairy is a respected and beloved part of the local scene, so no one feels they are supporting some huge corporate agribusiness), No, this daughter has hated fish in all forms since she was little. But I think the reason some vegetarians choose to add fish to their diet is that for the most part, fish is not raised for the purpose of killing it, unlike sheep, pigs and cattle. Indeed the tribes that have SPIRIT ANIMALs on the West Coast are I think without exception happy to catch and eat salmon and other fish.

GHarris 1:53 PM  

@ Nancy
I’ll take a swing at it.
If this market continues its descent I may be left with a sou or worse (ie “possibly not even that “)

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

Count me in with the “liked it a lot” crowd! I am usually a lost cause in figuring out grid art, but when I was forced to look, I immediately saw PANDA! Also, I think the “isolated” p and a serve to make it look more like a PANDA!
Hmmm. The NYT needs to step up its puzzles during the Co-Vid 19 crisis. Who thinks like that!? Well, other than Rex.

DigitalDan 2:33 PM  

It's a CLOWN. It's in no way a PandA.
It's a CLOWN. And Washington is filled with them, the Zoo having failed to contain.

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

no chance. that 'graphic' in the middle looks, to my eye, just like the cover of "It", thus that blocked across was CLOWN and wouldn't change. bah.

albatross shell 2:46 PM  

I was part of a group where we were suppose to find our spirit animal. After the night on the mountain the only animal I saw was human. I was cursed and kicked out of the group. I was hoping for a bat or a chimney swift. Gregor Samsa did OK with a cockroach. No appropriation involved. No money anyway. If you write haiku are you a racist? And other pared boxes of our era.
Hey I am making fun of me and that group, but is not either idiotic or ridiculous. It is a method for coming to terms with your existence and can be very productive and beneficial.

@Nancy 1115am
I got only five answers right, possibly not even that.

Jason 2:51 PM  

This puzzle is worse than a virus.

Arra 3:05 PM  

I struggled with this but enjoyed the last half as everything came together. My only guess was the verismo/mur cross. (Got it wrong)

albatross shell 3:13 PM  

@Roo the problem solver
I was thinking of plus being add one to pro vote, which doesn't quite work. Pros and cons, pluses and minuses does nicely.

Now explain Joaquin's joke from yesterday and I'll be caught up. Travel is bad for the mind.

Ernonymous 3:20 PM  

@albatross I think Joaquinn was named for his uncle with no car cause he's a joaquinn everywhere

Joaquin 3:44 PM  

@Giovanni (3:20) - BINGO!

Joaquin 3:47 PM  

@albatross shell (3:13) - Giovanni's explanation is correct. However, as I frequently say: "If ya gotta diagram yer jokes, maybe they ain't that good." Perhaps that applies here!

Honey 3:54 PM  

PANDA made today's Spelling Bee.

Hungry Mother 4:19 PM  

I’m a vegan who eats some fish, especially when in the Keys or after a long race or when I feel like it. I eschew all other animal products except for honey. How do you know when someone is a vegan? They’ll tell you.

Doc John 4:34 PM  

@Teedmn- nope! And you beat me to the comment!
And now that song will be going thru my head for the rest of the day. Not a bad earworm, actually.

BobL 4:35 PM  

Giovanni - hilarious!

Z 5:31 PM  

@HungryMother - I thought it was: How do you know when someone is a vegan? They won’t stop telling you.

CaryInBoulder 6:10 PM  

When I stopped eating red meat for a while I considered myself a SUSHITARIAN, which I dropped in right away. Rex lives in a different universe than I do, but then he’s been doing these puzzles a lot longer than me, Never heard of Lea Salonga, FWIW.

Swede 6:38 PM  

@teedmn: me again. Distal is commonly used in science, particularly anatomy, to mean “away from” some referenced point. The fish fin you’re referring to is the dorsal fin. Another anatomical term meaning above or back, and is the opposite of ventral, below or front. Spine is dorsal, belly button is ventral. Geeky, I know.

Burt Offerings 7:17 PM  

So I should be pissed at this puzzle, considering I had a 38 day streak going and flubbed it in multiple spots, but instead I am amazed yet again by the phony liberal outrage spouted by Rex and his team of minions. But I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm a very liberal guy. And people like Rex are the reason why people hate liberals.

RIP ACPT 2020!

Z 7:56 PM  

@Everyone - Rex added a pretty significant update at some point.

JC66 8:14 PM  


Very interesting. Thanks for the heads-up. Just curious, how did you know to look? Did @Rex clue you in?

Whether he did or not, I wonder why he didn't alert us in the comments section himself.

JC66 8:16 PM  

We don't all follow him on Twitter.

Teedmn 8:48 PM  

@OffTheGrid, re: INDENTERed servant - do you write the horrible puns for the cryptoquip that shows up in my paper? Yesterday's was "If somebody's life is flourishing but he makes very rash decisions, is that reckless thriving?" Today's answer was even groanier.

@Swede, I Googled DISTAL fin after I saw my DIcTAL error in the puzzle. Google asked me if I wanted DISTAL fib (what?) but then gave this hit, out of Wikipedia:

"Dorsal fins are located on the back. Most fishes have one dorsal fin, but some fishes have two or three . The dorsal fins serve to protect the fish against rolling, and assists in sudden turns and stops. In anglerfish, the anterior of the dorsal fin is modified into an illicium and esca, a biological equivalent to a fishing rod and lure. The bones that support the dorsal fin are called Pterygiophore. There are two to three of them: "proximal", "middle", and "distal". In spinous fins the distal is often fused to the middle, or not present at all."

So it's kind of a thing and you're correct about the dorsal. And to satisfy my curiosity, DISTAL fib is short for DISTAL fibula fracture.

Anonymous 8:52 PM  

ATARI DAY!!!!! thought the panda was a space invader

albatross shell 9:02 PM  

No it's a good joke. No diagramming necessary. Just a pronunciation guide. I did not know how to pronounce your name. O the shame.

Nancy 9:17 PM  

Yes. Those sentences work. Thanks @GHarris and @albatross shell.

P.S. -- You were the final Jeopardy question today, @albatross. Alas, I didn't get you. I thought the Latin word for "white" was "blanca". I guess it must be "alba".

(Of all the courses I took in all the schools I ever went to, my two years of [exceptionally badly taught] Latin in high school was far and away the most useless.

David 9:26 PM  

Good thing Rex doesn't seem to have any tats. I love being lectured on "cultural appropriation" by little white kids covered in tattoos. Even tattoos of spirit catchers; how meta is that? Homer Simpson ate the world's hottest pepper and went on a trip where he found his spirit animal, a space coyote. Think the writers were referencing peyote there? I do. Art wouldn't exist without cross-cultural pollination, and that's very different from appropriation.

I got 52A last because I'm sitting here thinking, some ersatz abbreviation for "dominant"? Maybe "Vth"? For many many of us sol is always sol and we don't write in keys (full disclosure, I once wrote a short piece in Eb major, but the G was still "sol" to me [oh my, an inadvertent pun!]). And it has nothing to do with needle and thread, despite that horrid song.

I saw a panda and thought it was National but whatever. Also why did it run on the 13th? It was far too easy for a Friday, at least to me it was. But too difficult for Monday.

They told Marconi, wireless was a phony. That's how people are.

Overall I thought it was kind of fun.

Anonymous 9:27 PM  


and I could remember the nickname, Gooney Bird. wonder if they'd given me a correct??

Z 9:33 PM  

@JC66 - I emailed Rex this morning about the day thing mentioned by @CDilly and was wondering if he ever fixed it. When I refreshed the page the day thing was fixed and the P.S. had been added. If it weren’t for the earlier formatting issue being pointed out by @CDilly I’d have never have noticed. I don’t buy the “bad-form” accusation against today’s constructor, I’m willing to assume the idea was arrived at independently, but I do think it is the sort of duplication of ideas the editor should have caught.

Dexter Green 9:45 PM  

Not everyone takes offense at the Washington Zoo as opposed to the National Zoo. A very fine poet by the name of Randall Jarrell wrote a wonderful poem titled "The Woman at the Washington Zoo." I believe it was in the early 1960's. My students loved it, difficult though it was.

JC66 9:50 PM  


Funny, I emailed @Rex about the Thursday/Friday snafu, too, but I forgot to go back to see if it was changed.

Anonymous 10:43 PM  

it's the National Zoo. it's never been named Washington Zoo. making up some other name to fit your grid is, or at least ought to be, agin the rules. following the rules should be expected, dontcha know. I mean, I call it the New York Trade Center. and the Missouri Arch. and the East River Bridge. which I'll sell to you for a minor fee.

Steve 9:29 AM  

Mur? Not dicey at all. The very first clue I got. It's the first word in one of my favorite poems: Les Djinns by Victor Hugo. (Well, plural in the poem, but so what?)

Capn Charlie 9:09 AM  

Rex I love you guy. Don’t ever change.

Thanks for the commentary. Regards. Phil

Jack Lee 4:54 PM  

I thought it was cute. But was I the only one who thought it was a CLOWN and wondered why they are found in the WASHINGTON ZOO? Oops, DNF.

kitshef 9:19 PM  

Maybe one person in a thousand will know VERISMO, so you are putting an awful lot of stock in people knowing what "wall" is in French.

And the WASHINGTON ZOO (sic) thing is inexcusable.

Other than that, a decent puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:21 PM  

(This looks like the right place for a comment, and for once I have done the puzzle soon enough that someone might see it. Hi, Sydilanders!)

I'm surprised no one clarified a remark made by burtonkd at 10:43 AM:

@Quasi, terrific post. Supernumerary reminds me of the probably racist term for that role: spear chucker, a relative of an archer, perhaps? Times are slowly changing for the better.

"Spear chucker" is almost always a racist term, despite its use in the name of a M*A*S*H character, or sometimes a pre-Columbian Andean warrior.

But a supernumerary is also known as a "spear carrier," an operatic or theatrical term for a minor, non-speaking chorus or crowd member on stage.

Keep Safe!

Diana, LIW 10:28 AM  

Here I am, bright and early. Didn't solve yet - but did get yesterday's (Thursday, for those of you who lost track like many, many folks these days) puzzle in record "something" since time is never of the essence in my living room. And it was memorable as I used to teach a lit course about the author in question, who most likely did not write the quote.

So...I have been dealing with 2 (two) health issues and corresponding tests/evaluations. I see the final so-far scheduled doc (an oncologist, draw your own conclusions) on Monday. He is a cheery type who says I'll live to 100, or at least until he retires in 16 years. So far so good - saw one doc yesterday and felt much, much better with his news.

Anyway, I've had a bit on my mind and thusly forgot how to type a blog post for a while.

Lady Di

thefogman 10:42 AM  

Liked it. Rex should chill, or rename his blog: Rage Against the Theme.

thefogman 10:44 AM  

Good to hear the good news D,LIW...

rondo 11:02 AM  

Oh, now ITS cultural appropriation that offends? Please do not let OFL and/or @Z draw you into that game. Next time I see something about Thor’s hammer, or the Kraken, or Ragnarok, or one of the variant spellings of Frea *I* will be sure to take offense. Stop it already. What *does* this blog look like 5 more weeks in? Still afraid to look. @Burt offering is right on.

I must say that those quad Utahs in the upper corners take up a lot of space. But my problems were bog before FEN, alt before ESC, nineam before ATNINE, and sIP before NIP; that’s a bunch of extra ink and not helpful with the long down answers. Good thing Alan IVERSON was a gimme.

Tony winner LEASALONGA yeah baby for sure.

Didn’t like it too much at first, but the uber-left commentary made me like it more.

@D,LIW – I’m glad you’re getting good news.

fakt chekker 11:13 AM  

Looks like 12d and 15d are potential theme answers. From wikipedia:

Giant pandas in the wild will occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in the form of . . . fish . . .

. . . the panda as a spirit animal symbolizes peace and gentle strength . . .

Burma Shave 12:00 PM  


PLUS she OVERSEES kinky stuff,


spacecraft 12:39 PM  

@ROO (and congrats for the puzzle shout-out): We have a P&A law firm in Vegas as well, Peters and Associates. They do use the ANIMAL widely in their ads/billboards.

I am surprised at OFC's hating on SPIRITANIMAL. I don't see anything wrong with it, if you're into that. Sometimes it can help you through a rough emotional stretch--such as we are all experiencing right now. The lizard, basking in the warm sun for hours, comes to mind.

In fact, I don't see much of anything wrong with the whole puzzle. What law decrees that Friday puzzles MUST be themeless? Maybe OFC thinks he has the "final authority," like another "leader" (quote marks emphasized!) who shall remain nameless here. We have twin 10/12/13 stacks, not to mention the 7/9/11 at the top. PLUS (from "Pro," pretty close to unfair), the 13's are in-theme! Awesome to pull off. Besides, my favorite "Answer" is 76er Allen IVERSON; I can't dis a grid with him in it.

In addition to the ANDs, there are two LONGs, LONGTO and LEASALONGA. But that's okay--the latter serves nicely as DOD. Birdie.

Good news @Diana; when you hit 100 there will be SUCH a party!

Diana, LIW 2:56 PM  

Tho fraught with an unknown or three, this puzzle succumbed to a perfectly completed finish. For a Friday, that's not bad at all. As usual, the actress was the unknown, but good guesses at correct acrosses helpt. (sic) (but I'm not too sic, I think)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rainforest 4:55 PM  

Commenting late because the puzzle was delivered late. Anyway, once I got away from thinking the face was that of a "clown", I found this puzzle very enjoyable, medium for the most part with nothing that bugged me. I *could* be annoyed at IVERSON ("practice? Who me? Practice"?, but he opened up the centre and then I saw the PANDA! IVERSON, the Answer!

Flipped a coin for ACK over iCK, wrote over sIP with NIP, and was overjoyed, or at least joyed. Liked this a lot.

@Ladi Di -- way to go.

El Dingo 5:04 PM  

If I embrace my kikituk (sort of a spirit animal to the Inuit—that’s what a few decades in Alaska will teach you) of a coyote (the trickster of Southwest legend), which culture am I appropriating?

BS2 5:45 PM  

Maybe a new one; shaman-daemon-hobo-lobo?

leftcoaster 6:01 PM  

PANDA had me at first sight. Good fun here.

Needed crosses for LEASALONGA and wanted realism instead of VERISMO.

"Pro" for PLUS? Still wondering about that.

In how many ways can OREO(S) be clued?

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