Telecom of old / TUE 3-24-20 / Palindromic bird

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Constructor: Olivia Mitra Framke

Relative difficulty: Easy (3:15)

THEME: imagined meetings — themers are familiar two-word phrases clued as if they referred to some kind of gathering:

Theme answers:
  • TV RECEPTION (17A: The sitcom writers met at a ...)
  • TRIG FUNCTION (28A: The mathematicians met at a ...)
  • MEDICINE BALL (46A: The pharmacists met at a ...)
  • SEARCH PARTY (58A: The Google employees met at a ...)
Word of the Day: MARC Jacobs (68A: Designer Jacobs) —
Marc Jacobs (born April 9, 1963) is an American fashion designer. He is the head designer for his own fashion label, Marc Jacobs, and formerly Marc by Marc Jacobs, a diffusion line, which was produced for approximately 15 years having been discontinued after the 2015 fall/winter collection. At one point there were over 200 retail stores in 80 countries. He was the creative director of the French design house Louis Vuitton from 1997 to 2014. Jacobs was on Time magazine's "2010 Time 100" list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and was #14 on Out magazine's 2012 list of "50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America". He got married on 7 April 2019, to his long time boyfriend Charly Defrancesco. (wikipedia)
• • •

Another puzzle about which there is very little to say. Words that can mean "gathering" appear in phrases where they don't actually mean "gathering," but then those phrases are clued as if they *do* have something to do with a gathering. Or so I gather, gather ye rosebuds, etc. The ellipsis-style theme clues are slightly unusual, but basically you've got a wacky last-words-type puzzle, and today, the wackiness just wasn't big enough. Very bland, very straightforward. The whole thing felt ... workmanlike. Pro forma. Programmatic. This feels like a kind of sample puzzle, one that would've been just at home in the NYTXW in 1995 as in 2020. GENDER GAP is a highlight, obviously (34D: Male-female pay differential, e.g.) ... and maybe it's the obviousness that's the problem—literally nothing else stands out or seems the least bit noteworthy. Meanwhile, there's this low-level hum of sub-optimal crosswordese running through the grid, from EEG to ENT to ETH INE INGE TOI IMO GTE REL RRR and esp. ENTR. This phenomenon is probably not much more on display here than it is in your average easy crossword, but I'm not sure that should be a source of consolation. Even the clues don't offer much in the way of cleverness of funniness. It's all very serviceable. The one actual criticism I have is that the clues are phrased weirdly, in a way that doesn't really convey the party-ness of it all. That is, "met" just doesn't describe what happens at fetes or bashes. You "meet" for tea, or coffee, or maybe a ... let's say, meeting. But there's a huge gap between the ordinary word "met" and the fancy event that is a BALL. Something's just off or discordant about the clue phrasing.

I like the clue on WINE. I actually never saw the clue on WINE when I was solving, but I like that, in looking at the clue just now, without looking up at the grid, I guessed that the answer was WINE (37D: "A constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy," per Benjamin Franklin).  For a puzzle with BRO in it, it's decidedly less BRO-y than your average NYTXW puzzle, with women (and women's concerns and women's clothing) in prominent places. And now, in conclusion, here are some thoughts on OTTERs (51D: River frolicker):

Enjoy your social distance as much as humanly possible, people! Mwah!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:15 AM  

Once upon a time, there were two pharmacists - Homer Boogerfoot of Oshkosh, WI and Irving Schmuhuckbuckle of Olathe, KS. These two gentlemen were the leading druggists in their respective home towns but for some reason were not acquainted with one another.

But fate intervened and at the 1992 annual pharmacists gathering held in Natick, Massachusetts they were seated at the same table for the opening dinner. Yes, "the pharmacists met at" the MEDICINE BALL

And we all know that the rest is history.

Anonymous 12:18 AM  

What's the deal with the clue on 13D?

thfenn 12:28 AM  

A bit of an ORDEAL, as I had DRY humor and just couldn't figure out why I couldn't finish. Nothing wrong with DINE until you actually focus on the clue and not go looking for typos. Feline before BIGCAT held me up a bit. Love otters.

Maybe I've had too much WINE, but OMG IRECKON Sex and the city, brassiere, tit, jeans, and lubricated got me thinking all kinds of things, but alas it's only time to SLEEP (he SIGHED).

thfenn 12:34 AM  

@anon 12:18 I think it's something like I was shy $10 for the bar tab so you had to loan me...

jae 1:04 AM  

Medium. Cute theme with some nice long downs, liked it. Jeff gave it POW, even though he had a problem with TV RECEPTION...something about being outdated.

jae 1:11 AM  

@anon 12:18 - “ I’d like to pay you back the $20 I owe you but I’m about $5 shy.”

Unknown 1:39 AM  

If you’re shy, you’re short on the amount owed.

Mr. Alarm 2:00 AM  

That bothered me, too. Then I looked up both “owes” and “ shy”. “Shy” as “deficient”: “I’m 10¢ shy, I owe you- pay you tomorrow, okay”?

Casimir 2:10 AM  

"What becomes of the sullen otter?" OFL truly made me smile with this witty, whimsical question. Thanks Rex, and I'm glad to see those wonderful qualities of yours coming to the fore in this difficult time!

JJK 2:58 AM  

I’m usually with Rex but today I have to say “lighten up, Rex!” This was just a fun easy Tuesday puzzle. I liked the theme, the answers made me smile. Smiles being sorely needed right now.

chefwen 3:16 AM  

@thfenn 12:28 - I also had dry/dine and thought , that’s odd. Didn’t try to think it through and just went on and finished. Oopsie.

Other than that, pretty easy. Easier than Monday’s, for me.

I liked all the theme answers and 58A brought forth a little TEE HEE.

Anonymous 4:00 AM  

Placement of RACK next to BRASSIERE was a nice touch.

Coniuratos 4:49 AM  

I'd only ever heard the Ben Franklin quote as being about beer - apparently a common mistake. So at least I learned something.

Frog Prince Kisser 5:10 AM  

Lots of funny and clever clues = lots of smiles! Thanks!

Loren Muse Smith 5:48 AM  

I have to disagree with Rex. I got a kick out of revisiting the phrases as though they were meetings. And the “meeting” part of the phrase is completely separate from its other meaning. Rex – you had it right when you started your write-up: they’re all gatherings of a sort. I don’t understand why the reception or the function is required to connote any sort of party-ness. Maybe someone can explain what I missed.

I kept going back and looking at BRO and its clue. “Dude” is really spreading its semantic wings and is now used among women, too. Two women could absolutely have the following exchange:

Woman A: I broke down and bought a Christmas sweater, but this one’s tasteful, I swear.
Woman B: Dude, you’re delusional. Take it back.

It’s almost like “dude” can sometimes be an interjection or even exclamation:

Woman A: So I insulted our host; he deserved it.
Woman B: Dude! Not cool!

Most of you probably don’t deign to watch Bravo TV, but I can attest to the fact that the women on Vanderpump Rules regularly use “dude” this way.

I guess it’s following in the footsteps of other male terms that have been repurposed to refer to women, too?

Hey guys – can we get started? (Spoken to a group of women)
Man! You’re really serious, aren’t you? (Spoken to a woman)

@Casimir – I agree about the sullen OTTER. I find a great deal of what Michael writes delightful, both in the amusing content and the deft delivery.

@Coniuratos – I always thought that quote was about beer, too.

Someone already pointed out RACK next to BRASSIERE. And don’t forget that palindromic bird in the grid, too. Oh, brother.

GILL I. 6:58 AM  

So I get to 11D and I'm thinking I know what this is. I'm not sure I can spell it but I remember it was something my Mom wore and it almost took my Dad's eye out several times. Dear God, who invented these things. Certainly not Ben Franklin. Well, maybe he did. No. Anyone smart enough to say that God loves us with WINE could never possibly invent the one thing on this EARTH that made women look like the TIT fairy made sure boobs looked like projectile missiles.
Well, this was different Tuesday. Not as easy as some. Seeing TiK Tok and TEEN and loving how they dance. I dressed as a belly dancer one Halloween and did the Tok Tok thing before it was even invented. Those were the days, my friend.
I'm not an AGNOSTIC. I am truly a believer. In humankind. @Rex cautions about social distance. Yes. We need to be careful. But. There are many seniors who are lonely and don't have family close by to check in on them. Case in point....My elderly neighbor doesn't have a computer and only has a land line. She can't get through to any of the stores for food delivery. I do it for her because the thought of her going without, drives me crazy. All of you might know someone in that same circumstance. If you're healthy and can help someone in need, please consider it. I wear a mask and gloves and wipe everything down. I leave her food at her doorstep. Although she always invites me in for tea, I decline. I give her a big mwah and tell her I'll call. I do.
Make someone happy.

Lewis 6:59 AM  

The Loyal Opposition met at an...

GILL I. 7:00 AM  

Oh...@jae from yesterday. Thanks on the Michael Keaton.....I looked at a trailer. I guess Kroc was sumpin else? Always love your recommendations.

amyyanni 7:01 AM  

Had a lot of fun doing this one. Olivia posted on the NYT blog that she has COVID-19 and a temp over 102. Sending her some feel well greetings.

Hungry Mother 7:10 AM  

Nice one today. Fun theme which was helpful in the solve.

Lewis 7:16 AM  

Now that's a fun theme with a wordplay gimmick I've never seen before. The kind that makes you want to figure out theme answers with as little filled in as possible, then think of more afterward (at which point you realize how tight the theme is, because they are hard to come by).

This whole puzzle had, IMO, an aura of spark, and it's an art to make that happen. Even OMG (57A) is only a sliver away from the constructor's initials. Thank you, Olivia Mitre Framke.

kitshef 7:24 AM  

Loved this for the theme, although the difficulty definitely needed to be upped.

Themers are all things we are a not allowed to do for a while. Maybe the bombardment of sexy fill is an enticement to stay home?

@LMS - wonderful avatar today.

pabloinnh 8:13 AM  

Hand up for the WRY/DRY confusion, and for having always heard the Franklin quote as referring to beer. Everything else was fine, liked the themers, and finished too soon.

I've quoted my otter book before, but I like it enough to repeat it. The book begins "If an otter cannot have fun doing something, he simply will not do it.". Reading this revealed the meaning of "epiphany" to me. My motto instantly became "Emulate the otter!" and I went out and had a t-shirt made that said "Otter Power".

I really like otters.

Thanks for a nice Tuesdecito, OMF. Aces with me.

Suzie Q 8:25 AM  

Good fun for our Tuesday fare.
Enough of the Twitter garbage please Rex. "Otter is my new safe word"? Don't make me gag.
Hmm, I thought it was beer as well. Either way it is a delightful saying and quite funny.
I know a few people named Ari but not this one.
Enjoyable diversion, thanks Olivia.
Good advice from @ GILL I. We always need kindness but never more than now.
What about washable reusable personal facemasks? Save the disposable ones for the medical professionals who need them.
Now what we need is advice and an update from @ JOHN X.

Debra 8:26 AM  

Very cute (meet) Tuesday. Enjoyed it!

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

I'm convinced Rex rations his compliments. He's not allowed to say but so many nice things in a given week. For this one, it's as if he struggled and struggled to find something that made him not like the puzzle. People don't meet at gatherings????? It's like "meet" has only one meaning for Rex and he can't allow that there are many words that have more than one meaning.

The theme was clever. It must be so hard to be Rex.

xyz 8:45 AM  

Most anti-inflammatories are NSAIDS, not steroids

Puzzle was otherwise inoffensive and a reasonable Tuesday

LeaveItToYourGoat 8:48 AM  

@Loren, my wife and her best friend refer to each other as "dude" and "bro" all the time!



tegel 8:54 AM  


Anonymous 8:56 AM  

See what happens when women create puzzles.

KnittyContessa 8:56 AM  

I really enjoyed the theme. Made me smile and that's never a bad thing.

Dine/wine for me , too

Leslie 9:09 AM  

@LMS 5:48 great avatar
I also thought it was beer. I wonder who's responsible for the misquoting--T-shirt companies?

Frantic Sloth 9:11 AM  

"What becomes of the sullen otter?" is the best part of Rex's review. Otherwise it's as meh as he thinks the puzzle is.

I kind of enjoyed this puzzle. It was a tad corny, but just quirky enough and easy enough to be a Tuesday star.

Nothing terribly good or...terrible stands out to me, although GENDERGAP nudged my outragedfeministical bone just a skosh. (For the anatomically-challenged, unlike the humorous HUMERI, this is not a specific bone, but is that part of the skull covering the frontal lobe of the brain. Often its "activation" creates a bulging blood vessel to appear in the forehead.)

But I digress.

Never mind. I'm done.

TJS 9:12 AM  

Ofl is losing coherency by the day. This quarantine deal is not going well for him. Drink more, Rex ! Start pounden 'em! Read a book in the original French. But not Camus.

Nancy 9:15 AM  

I thought it was cute, amusing, and very, very smooth. In addition to the theme, I liked the cross reference of TRIED ON/JEANS; the clue for SLEEP (44D); and the terrific clue for WINE (37D). Good old Ben Franklin -- he really nailed it, didn't he?

The only place I had any trouble was at the "billiards accessory" (12D). It ended in "K" and I really, really wanted CHALK. But it was too long. The crosses were easy-peasy and I had RACK in a nonce. But it didn't come to me on its own.

A nice, playful Tuesday with no junk.

BarbieBarbie 9:17 AM  

I have never disagreed with @Rex so completely. I thought the theme was fun, the mid length fill totally sparkled, and the clueing was fresh and very un-Shortzian, so had to be @Olivia’s voice. Plenty of short fill to give Tuesday-strugglers a toehold. What a great puzzle. Thanks! More, when you get better!

I don’t get it about the JEANS though. Is that because I’m at that COVID-susceptibility threshold?

Z 9:24 AM  

Ben was a real “sex, drugs, and rock & roll” sort of guy, but I think the WINE/beer quote is apocryphal. I may be back with some sourcing later.

@LMS - RECEPTIONs, BALLs, and PARTies would all typically involve some amount of celebration and often more than a little beer, booze and WINE. I’ve had to attend a FUNCTION or two and they are most definitely improved by an open bar, but a cash bar will do. So, I see Rex’s point about the clues eschewing the festive possibilities. The clues are fine as is, but a little more OTTERness would have been welcomed.

I found myself enjoying pondering the across pairings. TRIED ON JEANS almost seemed like it should be thematic. Not this theme, but some theme. SIGHED ALTER EGO seems like a short recap of every super hero origin story ever. ELITE I RECKON, on the other hand, is 95% of ESPN and sport talk radio. Finally there is AGNOSTIC ESTEEM. If ever there were a phrase that describes how we should always always always regard politicians, it is AGNOSTIC ESTEEM. I get Rex’s plaint about the short fill, but I think the medium fill is wonderful and more than makes up for it.

@redanman - Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are anti-inflammatory, but then so are the steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The clue said “many” not “most” so I think it is okay.

@Lewis 6:59 - Tee Hee. Good one.

@Gill I - Thank you.

QuasiMojo 9:30 AM  

I guess Ben Franklin never tasted Boone's Farm Apple Wine.

Frantic Sloth 9:31 AM  

@GILL I love everything about your comment. Everything.
@LMS Avatar=priceless

Hand up for the beer Benjamin. Maybe if enough of us keep saying that, it will make it so. Hell, it works for the party of the Bumble Bee.

Best wishes for a swift recovery, Olivia. We need more puzzles from you!

Azzurro 9:35 AM  

Fun Tuesday. I liked it, especially ACE as the point of no return.

Here’s an interesting discussion of the beer/wine quotation from Ben Franklin.

Nancy 9:36 AM  

@pabloinnh (8:13) -- I left this site to go Google "book about otters by Pablo..." I thought: maybe you're an author? Alas, nothing came up. But the otter quote is delightful at any rate.

@GILL (6:58) -- Your definition of the BRASSIERE as "that was something my mother wore and that almost took my Dad's eye out several times" is the best definition of the BRASSIERE that I've ever read. It made me laugh out loud and explains why I read you religiously (not AGNOSTICally) every day.

Z 9:36 AM  

Voilà l’eau qui tombe des cieux sur nos vignobles, et alors elle entre dans les racines des vignes pour-être changée en vin. Preuve constante que Dieu nous aime, et qu’il aime à nous voir heureux.

Oh, you wanted the translation?
Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy!

I found the same info on a couple of sites, and took the quotes from here.

Barbara S. 9:37 AM  

I also had the dine/WINE problem and the only reason I mention it is because when I realized my mistake, my first thought was "@GILL I. would be so disappointed in me!"

I find myself worried about @whatsername. Are you there? She has posted regularly during my admittedly short time on the blog but we haven't heard from her in several days. I apologize if it's inappropriate to single someone out like this. I'm just hoping she's doing well somewhere if not here.

burtonkd 9:48 AM  

So after yesterday, I have to amend my take on twitter to say I've now read one worthwhile things - the otter quote, although it could have been easily just included here.

I wonder what it means that OFL reputedly doesn't read comments here, but follows this twitter crowd. I guess we all need an Amen chorus, agnostics be damned.

(admittedly somewhat weak) themer we definitely want to avoid today: ET abduction: CLOSE ENCOUNTER
Stick with: appointment with the messiah: AUDIENCE OF ONE

I see that the old xwordese standby Pope LEOXII was chosen in the CONCLAVE OF MDCCCXXIX. Am working on the wording for the worst Xword clue ever.

Petsounds 9:57 AM  

@Lewis: Bravo!

Enjoyed this puzzle right from the git-go: OCTET for "Maids a-milking, e.g." Loved TRIEDON JEANS and was happy to see CANDACE Bushnell. I don't understand Rex's 1995-vs-2020 comment at all. If the fill had been loaded with mid-90s proper names--TV shows, movies, singers, etc.--it would have made sense. But no. So...huh?

@theredanman: The clue said "Many an anti-inflammatory...," not "Most anti-inflammatories," so STEROID is a medically sound answer.

I hope you're all remaining medically sound.

burtonkd 10:00 AM  

@Z, we don't need the translation, we are NYT crossword solvers; ergo, we are all fluent in French:)

@jae from yesterday in San Diego inre McDonalds philanthropy: Growing up in the arts in NC, all of our orchestras, conservatories, etc were sponsored by BIG tobacco. Definitely became tricky to know how to feel about it.

@Lewis, I guess I was thinking of nouns and adjectives becoming interchangeable with SCAM yesterday. You are right and eloquent as always!

Sir Hillary 10:16 AM  

Nice, smooth Tuesday. Yeah, the 3's are not good, but definitely more to like than to dislike, IRECKON.

I liked the clue for SLEEP. Alas, I had a SLEEP ORDEAL last night -- our dog (not a CORGI and not named ROVER) was unsettled by something, and the only thing she wanted to do was sit at our feet and whine. Brought me back to the days of waking babies, and I don't recover as well as I used to.

RooMonster 10:27 AM  

Hey All !
Feel better about my one-letter DNF today at dRY/dINE, even though dINE doesn't work, but WRY humor seems further down on the list than dRY humor. IMO, natch.

I thought the themers were chuckle worthy. Phrases reimagined to mean where people meet. Straightforward, again without needing a Revealer.

My NIT, gotta have one, lots o' threes. 25. If the grid was redesigned to get rid of the black square after EEG, that would get rid of 8 three's, which includes its symmetric square. Plus, alot of those threes are Abbrs. Good for @M&A, as I know he enjoys his weejects. ☺️

Where did RRR come from? @LMS, do you know? Reading, Writing, Arithmetic. If you're trying to learn those three, you'll be stumped as to way the W and A are just lost in the wind.

@Another Friend of LMS from YesterPuz
You have to @ the person you're referring to, because if you don't, those who read the comments on a computer see your posts in the time order you post them, so your "So do I!" or whatever post you do looks silly all by itself. Example, if you respond to me, first use @RooMonster, then write your post, that way, computer readers can go back to see what your talkin' 'bout. COOL?

Hope y'all get through this ORDEAL intact. Stay home! Start a hobby, clean the house, learn to dance, something! 😀

One F (in themer)

Karl Grouch 10:28 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 10:33 AM  

Really nice! I thought the repurposing of the "meetings" was clever andwitty, especially the MEDICINE BALL. I also liked the parallel BRASSIERE and GENDER GAP (remember "Lifts and separates"?)

Story of my life, in brief: ORDEAL = TRIED ON JEANS. SIGHED.

xyz 10:37 AM  

@Z - Shorts gets much orthopedics/medical science wrong. I used to practice such, but your comment is very well taken.

The overwhelming majority of anti-inflammatory drug prescriptions are NSAIDS. Ironically NSAIDS are used for mostly minor arthritic complaints and if one incudes OTC use, steroids as anti-inflammatories are a very minor use. Steroids are Hormone analogues, very powerful drugs with many unintended consequences.

So - Using steroids, one can create AVN avascular necrosis of bone leading to structural collapse and end stage joint destruction, the ball of the hip joint is a great example, therein lies the irony - creating a much greater problem. The clue isn't bad, I'm just pointing out a nit. Steroids for arthritis (And that wasn't part of the clue) is a sledgehammer for a fly, out-dated and probably inappropriate (Especially given that Biologics have supplanted steroids for Primary Arthridities [RA being the prototypic disease]), but I don't want to give :20 presentation on Steroids especially since no one wants it.


Karl Grouch 10:41 AM  

The sex chromosomes met at a...


Owen Notshy Atall 10:51 AM  

Shy doesn't mean owe. It just doesn't. It can relate to an owing situation, but alone it means "less than; short of."


I wanted to super size it but I was shy a buck.

Franz was shy of win by a point. Poor bastard.

Hey, I'm shy can you lend me a tenner. I'll pay you back.

I owe you that tenner, but I'm shy of $5 of it, so I'll give you five now and five later.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Ah! Straightforward response to a question. How refreshing. Thank you.

Frantic Sloth 11:10 AM  

Can't get that damned otter out of my mind.

What Becomes of the Sullen Otter?*

As I swim this sea of choppy waves
Yummy fish in underwater caves
Elude my grasp despite my fervent trying
Leading me to a binge of hopeless crying
What becomes of the sullen otter?
What could ever make him want to bother?
He knows he's got to find
Some fish or he'll go blind...maybe

His friends all love frolicking like fools
And he knows it's never ever cool
To shirk this fun and mope around like death
Might as well get hooked on crystal meth
He's so alone - but won't go on a date
"It's a scam - there's nothing more I hate"
Always blue, not able to grow browner
Such a drag - a real Debbie Downer
What becomes of the sullen otter?
Loved a female, but never even got her
He knows it's all unfair
Nothing but pure

*Sung to the tune of What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

@ Roo, Readin', Ritin', and Rithmatic. RRR.

Robert A. Simon 11:15 AM  

Yeah, I had DRY at first, which of course gave me DOGS as the proof that God loves us. But AGNOSTIC proved that wrong. I still like DOGS better. SEARCH PARTY is a gem.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

@ Roo, Readin', Ritin', and Rithmatic. RRR

Whatsername 11:21 AM  

Have not done posted for several days and haven’t the puzzle yet today but just a coupla notes.

@GILL: I am in awe of your generosity in helping out your neighbors. It is times like this that bring out the true character in people. And I know from reading previous comments, that you also help others in need, You set a shining example for the rest of us to follow. God bless.

@Lorraine from Green Bay: Welcome! I’m a former Wisconsin resident and a big Badgers and Packers fan. Well, I should say a Packer fan except when they’re playing the Kansas City Chiefs. Glad you decided to join the conversation.

tea73 11:30 AM  

I always think of Billiards as the British game with only three balls and no rack, but the dictionary tells me it can also be the collective term for all games played on what my family always called "the pool table". I wish my basement were big enough for one, a very soothing game, good for only two people. Anyway, between that and it taking forever for me to remember the alternative meaning of shy I was considerably slowed down in the Northeast.

I thought the wordplay was fine and dandy.

I loved Rex's musical selection, but it made me sad too.

pabloinnh 11:36 AM  

@Nancy-I can see how "my otter book" would make you think I wrote it, but I just meant "a book about otters that I really like". I think it was probably written for middle schoolers, but that doesn't make its opening quote any less true (or wonderful).

@Z-I'm with @burtonkd in not needing the translation, but I would appreciate a source. Auteur?

Masked and Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Wishin constructioneer Olivia darlin a speedy and full recovery. Meantime, everyone should please limit them RECEPTIONs, FUNCTIONs, BALLs, and PARTYs to crossword themers & SELF-ASSEMBLYs.

Lotsa cool fillins, not to mention lotsa primo weejects. fave stuff included: SCISSOR. IRECKON. GENDERGAP. BRASSIERE. AGNOSTIC. BIGCAT.
staff weeject pick: Sooo many great choices, but let's go with RRR. M&A admires its consistency. Its purity of essence.

The Alpine lake lovers met at a … *

@RP: OTTERs sure are cute. But -- M&A also has concerns for an OGRE that's actually a real nice dude, like Shrek or somesuch. He has to struggle all his life to overcome such a bad rep, thanx to all them fairy tales and weird-ball board games and whatnot. [Hey! WEIRDBALL! … another cool themer possibility ...!]

Thanx for the fun, Ms. Framke darlin. Again, get better real soon. And make more of these neat puzs for us.

Masked & AnonymoU



CT2Napa 11:55 AM  

7 things Benjamin Franklin never said

Nancy from Chicago 12:09 PM  

I thought this was a fun Tuesday puzzle. Enjoyed the clue for WINE. And now I am pondering the fate of the poor sullen otter. Hopefully the frolicking and gamboling of his fellows will cheer him up.

Also, Loren Muse Smith, there is at least one other Bravo watcher here!

CT2Napa 12:24 PM  

The otter was happy and frolicking. But after more than a decade of reviewing NYT xword puzzles he became quite sullen.

albatross shell 12:30 PM  

I wasn't on this puzzles wave length at all. Steady progress but not an straightline solve. Lotsa circling around and returning from another direction, and using the themes to get areas filled. Was thinking MEDICINE show before BALL. I wonder which is older?

Liked MEDICINE BALL and TRIG FUNCTION. I'm not sure what @LMS didn't get about RECEPTION and FUNCTION. Wedding RECEPTIONs and certainly some social FUNCTIONs are definitely party-ish and gatherings in my experience. Maybe I was missing the point.

To be a wee bit Rexy, SEARCH PARTY is the one that doesn't fit with the others and is not as zippy. SEARCH Party still means a gathering of people while with the others there is no gathering in the full phrase. So the zaniness factor drops.

Despite this and a minor solving ORDEAL, I found it above average, worthy of some ESTEEM, but not ELITE. Some humor in the clues, theme, and fill. And remember when it comes to _RY humor, always keep your powder dry. Not your answer.

albatross shell 12:35 PM  

About the sullen OTTER. Reminds me of FERINAND the bull. Any children's book authors out there?

Joaquin 12:41 PM  

speaking of otters ...

RooMonster 12:42 PM  

@Anon 11:15 11:16 (figure you're the same)
Har. I know that that's what RRR means. What I meant, is how it came to be that. Why not RAW? It seems like it would be confusing to be learning them or things to learn something wrong like them all starting with R's. See what I mean?

Where Frankenstein and Dracula had a blast?

RooMonster Bad Theme Guy

Crimson Devil 12:45 PM  

Point of no return: good clue, huh Nanc?

Teedmn 1:15 PM  

I felt sluggish while solving this but I definitely enjoyed the theme. As 17A filled in, I got to TVRE and thought it would be TVREmotesite, rethinking the word remote. The actual answer was so much better.

@Lewis, love ANTISOCIAL.

@albatross shell's observation that the PARTY of 58A doesn't repurpose the word as a gathering reminded me of this SEARCH PARTY story that turned out well. The last line tells it all.

Olivia Mitra Framke, nice puzzle, and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Anoa Bob 1:16 PM  

I'm sure others have said it, but the first time I remember hearing it was on an episode of "Seinfeld" where George Costanza says "If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth." So I say we continue to "quote" ole Ben's beer-as-proof-God-loves-us loudly and often until it becomes gospel truth.

@tea 11:30, life-long billiards fan here. I once bought a house mainly because it had a room that was big enough for a pool table, a beautiful Brunswick 4X8.

Yes, usually the game is for two people, but there are also three and four person versions. I once saw a game with only one person! It was nine ball and the player, nicknamed Gravy, RACKed the balls, broke and then tried to run the table without missing a shot. If he did, he scored a plus one, if he didn't he got a minus one.

A large amount of money was wagered. If Gravy reached a score of plus five, he won the cash. If he got to minus five, he lost and had to pay up. It was a real ORDEAL with the game lasting over an hour with Gravy getting to minus four on a couple of occasions, but he finally pulled it off and got to plus five. Gravy took home the gravy.

puzzlehoarder 1:25 PM  

An easy Tuesday. Just over Monday time. My only missteps were EKG/EEG, BRASIERRE/BRASSIRRE (always with the bad spelling), IRECALL/IREKON and MORE/MOST. All were easily fixed and barely caused delay.

A good reason to bother with these early week puzzles is that it gives me a piece of paper to write out my "Spelling Bee" answers on. My wife plays it much slower so I have to wait till the late evening to put in what she hasn't found. Otherwise I'd spoil it for her.

One other write over today was CANDICE/CANDACE. Once again very easy to fix and it segued with fixing 11D.

QuasiMojo 1:26 PM  

Great job with the lyrics @Frantic Loth. Funnily enough, I didn't know otters were supposedly frolicsome until I started doing the NYT crossword again after a lull of many years. Would love to see one in the flesh.

Barbara S. 1:27 PM  

Here's one:
The team's top scorers met twice a month at BEST PRACTICES.

@Whatsername -- Glad to hear from you. No, I'm not a stalker but I had noticed your absence (my post at 9:37).

The whole prove-you're-not-a-robot process is very funny. If you successfully prove it and then, for some reason, delay in hitting the submit button, you have to prove it all over again. Your non-robot status expires. What?? The system thinks you're going to become a robot or revert to robotism after 10 seconds??

Unknown 1:56 PM  

I first entered "wife" for wine, then looked at Ben's name and thought better of it.

webwinger 2:14 PM  

Today’s puzzle was pretty good by Tuesday standards, but for me more fun than the puzzle’s themers were the cool juxtapositions and other potential crowd sources pointed out in these comments.

Somehow I’d never heard the Ben F. attributed quote; guessed WINE correctly with a couple crosses in place and never had to consider dRY humor. I would certainly not have declined the Happy Music salute if I’d had to replace that “d” to get it.

Should there be a support group for non-frolicking otters and non-sexy rock band frontmen?

@the redanman: Absolutely true that NSAID drugs now far outnumber anti-inflammatory steroids, which are no longer much used (except by local injection) for disorders that don’t carry significant risk of serious health impact. However, the discovery that cortisone, previously known only as a regulatory hormone, was a potent agent against inflammation, specifically rheumatoid arthritis, received the Nobel Prize in 1950.

Distressed to learn that today’s constructor is ill with COVID-19. Thus far I, like I imagine most people outside of NYC and Seattle, have not personally known any afflicted individual. Having just completed this puzzle definitely makes me feel connected to OMF. Best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery!

Swede 2:26 PM  

@the redanman: I don’t know your background but sounds like orthopedics. I did research on anti-inflammatories, basic and clinical, NSAIDs and biologics, and can’t agree with many of your conclusions. NSAIDs are widely prescribed but primarily for minor pain (osteoarthritis, back pain, sprains and strains, etc), for fever, and for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Biologics are not first line for RA, way too expensive. For RA the progression is: first NSAIDs, failing that methotrexate, failing those low dose steroid (prednisone). Patients who fail all those are then eligible for biologics. NSAIDs are not used or are contraindicated in many other inflammatory diseases, such as asthma, lupus, IBD, psoriasis, MS, etc. Steroids are fairly safe at low doses such as are used in RA and asthma. High doses can have severe side effects with prolonged use but are used for acute episodes e.g. in lupus. The clue as written is fine.

I liked the puzzle, thanks OMF. Always good to see pharmaceuticals in the grid. Rx of course.

Whatsername 3:10 PM  

@Loren (5:48) Another side-splitting avatar today. I don’t know how you do it but please, keep them coming.

@Barbara S (9:27 and 1:27) so very sweet of you to be concerned and really nice to know, now more than ever. I’m fine but unfortunately part of the ultra high risk group and not just social distancing, but being an absolute hermit. Woe be to the stranger who might darken my door right now. I hope you and all our cyber friends here are safe and healthy as well.

@Anoa Bob (1:16) “Repetition does not transform a lie into the truth.” (Franklin D Roosevelt) But I think George Costanza was closer to being right in today’s society. I would have bought the house with the billiards room too. What a great way that would be to spend the lockdown time. I do have a fun little app on my iPad with both 8 ball and 9 ball. Not the same but it’ll do in these desperate times.

GILL I. 4:20 PM  

@Suzie Q, @Z, @Frantic Sloth and @Whatsername...Thank you. Just so you know, I'm not likely to get the goody two shoes award. I swear a lot, I drink too much and I tell dirty jokes.
What we're all going through now is scary - especially for the (mostly) elderly. I just think about our country after 9/11 and how many lived in a walking zombie state. Now it is total fear of touching, reaching out, interacting and....well, just being humans. We've been asked to stay inside; isolate ourselves, binge watch tv and just keep a huge distance between our fellow friends. We're not wired to do this. Yes, we have to be safe. And I am.
People who have 2 months worth of toilet paper, Kleenex, water and tin goods, can happily sit back and wait till this blows over. Not everyone has that luxury. If you can possibly help someone out, then do. You can be careful and still make a lonely human a bit more comfortable. Remember, you could be in this situation.
Oh....haha. I went to Safeway today and waited 2 hours for check-out. They only had two check-out people. BUT GUESS WHAT?.....I did the WSJ puzzle on my iPhone and it was fun!!!!!
Be safe; don't hoard and pray for the toiled paper fairy.

jberg 5:09 PM  

What's wrong with Bravo? I haven't watched it in maybe 20 years, since I quit watching TV, but they had some great opera performances. Isn't it like that anymore?

Anyway, hi, everybody! We survived our three day drive home from Florida (Captiva) with the help of a) lots of disinfectant and paper towels, and b) a manual transmission which helped me drive on the ice-crusted highways of northern CT/central MA, where it had apparently snowed and was still sleeting. Also c) packing sandwich lunches we could eat in our car. It's great to be back to the puzzle, and to all of you.

I liked the theme fine -- contrary to @Z and Rex, I like a theme where the words don't share any other meanings with the way they were used originally. The important thing about the BALL is not that it was festive, but that the pharmacists met there.

Medium tough for me, due to my difficulty in reading the clue numbers correctly. I misread the clue for an exclamation as being for 37A, and had the W already, so I wrote in WTF. I did wonder.

Captiva is a small island with few permanent residents, mostly vacationers who come for periods of one week to 3 months. They come from all over and there is a big turnover every week, so there is high potential for Covid19; but it feels like a remote island, so people feel safe and there wasn't a whole lot of social distancing until our last 2 days or so, when the county government first closed all the restaurants and bars, and then closed the beaches. Since the beaches, restaurants, and bars are why people come, it was quite a shock - I felt like we were getting out just in time.

Massachusetts is a hot spot of the disease, but the state government and the city of Boston are taking strong action, so I hope we'll get it under control. Meanwhile, we're hunkering down at home.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone!

Z 5:10 PM  

@Joaquin12:41 - The spelling Is Otstanding.

@pabloinnh - I linked to the source, just click on the blue “here” in my 9:36 post. They also provide original sources. Unfortunately I do not own a copy of the 1818 edition of Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin.

@burtonkd9:48 - Rex follows 341 people on Twitter while 8,649 accounts follow him (I say accounts because it is easy to pick up bot followers). Of the people Rex posted yesterday I’m guessing only one is somebody he follows. For comparison, I follow 431 while currently having 101 followers. David Mariniss (a journalist and author) follows 874 and has 25.4K followers, BoschBot (tweeting images from The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych) follows 16.9k and is followed by 47.6K, and Whores of Yore (British historian focusing on history of sex and sexism) follows 8,312 and is followed by 362.9K. I take nothing of note from the random group beyond what I mentioned yesterday.

@burton10:00 - Tee Hee. My long dormant college French only stumbled over three or six words.

@Frantic Sloth - We need a youtube video of the Commentariat Choir singing that now.

pabloinnh 5:24 PM  

@Z-yep, the "here" is blue, but without someone (you in this case) pointing it out to me, I never would see it.


Richardf8 5:52 PM  

I want to see ETH clued as “Voiced Dental in Old English.”

CDilly52 6:38 PM  

Maybe the sullen otter, ostracized because she does not delight in gamboling, turns instead to gambling. Who knows? I liked the puzzle just fine as a Tuesday effort. I thought the best one of the themers was the SEARCH PARTY. If I were a gambling otter (or human come to that), I would almost bet the farm that SEARCH PARTY was the catalyst for this theme and puzzle. I have a crossword/coffee group and in discussion, someone is always coming up with word play or puns and someone says “that’s the start of a great crossword theme.” Then we all start to figure out additional similar theme members and they often fall short of the original.

Fun breezy Tuesday. Stay healthy everyone!

RooMonster 6:46 PM  

Speaking of pool tables, I have one! Nothing extravagant, mind you. I'm not made of money!

I bought it used, locally. It's the 3.5 X 7 footer, Put in what's supposed to be my dining room, which is *just this* too small. And it's taken a bit to get it about as level as it's gonna get. But, I have been playing a bit this sequestration. Even if my cue stick is crap.

I seem never to get anything absolutely correct or 100% nice. I know, first world problems, but I don't have anywhere else to complain! 😁


Joe Dipinto 7:42 PM  

Maybe the otter isn't sullen. Maybe she'd just like to find a new situation.

On the other hand, these guys live to frolic and gambol and par-tay. (Trigger warning for the occasional language lapse.)

Newboy 9:37 PM  

Another day; another reason to rejoice (a nice title for a book on James)—but Anthony Burgess got there first as did all the posters above for today’s puzzle. Easy, but it’s Tuesday. dRY before WRY didn’t really slow the solve, but humbled the arrogance factor of entering the answer before reading the clue, so that made up for ORCA, INGE, AGNOSTIC that seemed as obvious as Rex made them sound. Thanks Olivia for providing a 15 minute break from TV coverage of the only topic of the day. For those who missed it this weekend’s alt-tournament grids are accessible at and provide a good deal more challenge. Hope the commentariat are safely hunkered down for the evening; I’m off for my daily dose of your insight & delight🥴

Wanderlust 9:43 PM  

My teenage stepson uses “dude” and “bruh” (never “bro”) with all his friends, male or female. When I said how strange that sounded to me, he didn’t get it at all. Doesn’t think of those terms as gendered.

CDilly52 10:53 PM  

Maybe the sullen otter, ostracized because she does not delight in gamboling, turns instead to gambling. Who knows? I liked the puzzle just fine as a Tuesday effort. I thought the best one of the themers was the SEARCH PARTY. If I were a gambling otter (or human come to that), I would almost bet the farm that SEARCH PARTY was the catalyst for this theme and puzzle. I have a crossword/coffee group and in discussion, someone is always coming up with word play or puns and someone says “that’s the start of a great crossword theme.” Then we all start to figure out additional similar theme members and they often fall short of the original.

Fun breezy Tuesday. Stay healthy everyone!

Frantic Sloth 12:26 AM  

@Quasi Thanks for the compliment. Otters, cats, birds dogs, pandas, and baby goats - can't get enough of them. But, alas, only cats, dogs, and birds IRL, so I feel your pain. 😉
@Z I whole-heatedly second the idea of a Commentariat Choir. Not so sure about the song selection though. ;)

burtonkd 9:14 AM  

@frantic sloth, could you write another one about the passive/aggressive panda? We could get a song cycle going

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Johns Hopkins lists over 100 steroid anti-inflammatories. another source (didn't keep track) lists 13 unique NSAIDs, multiple names for some.

doghairstew 1:06 PM  

I'm feeling quite clever to have sussed out the dry vs wry (In a fit of optimal brain function, I left that square open for a "d" or a "w" pending the down clue), as well as the "owe" clue for "shy." But feeling very thick because I cannot for the life of me figure out why "ace" is "the point of no return."

Ace of Ace the Ace Can someone please enlighten me!!

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

a tennis serve, unreturned, is called an ACE. sometimes a baseball pitch missed by batter.

doghairstew 2:10 PM  

Thank you, anonymous! YOu've saved me from a lifetime of wondering....

SBpianist 2:28 PM  

Anyone else notice the proximity of BRASSIERE and RACK? Not to mention 42D....

Burma Shave 9:26 AM  


At the GAP, CANDACE stood at the RACK,
and IRECKON her GENDER became clear,
MOST things she TRIEDON she put back,


rondo 10:13 AM  

The gamblers met at CHANCEENCOUNTERS. Where does it end? But I did think it was ‘wackier’ than OFL gives credit.

Margo Price has a great song re: GENDERGAP entitled Pay GAP:


It took a SEARCH, but CANDACE Bushnell is on the yeah baby train.

I thought this puz was pretty decent.

spacecraft 10:56 AM  

Well, our constructor today helps to close the GENDERGAP, and nicely. Fun theme, IMO, and a bit of WRY humor from good old Ben. A plethora of threes begets a little desperate at times; If you ever have to include the letter string RWA in your grid, you could always clue it "What the three R's really stand for, initially." So strange that a common educational acronym should misspell two out of three.

Overall, though, an EARTHLY delight. CANDACE Bushnell gets the DOD. Gotta love the rare full word we almost never hear any more: BRASSEIRE. Birdie.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

17A, 19A, and 44A were happy treats. Bravo! And a risqué element running throughout.
An absolute delight! I'll be waiting for more from Olivia.

leftcoaster 2:13 PM  

Well-made, like a pair of COOL JEANS. Neat and clean, like the theme.

Like the symmetrical pairs too: CANDACE/BRASSIERE and GENDERGAP/SCISSOR. Not because they're related, they aren't, but just because I like them. And Ol' Ben's trust in God's WINE is reassuring.

Two trios: the three Rs and my three write-over ICU tests: MRI>EKG>>EEG.

diana, 3:28 PM  

I think I remember gatherings. Of people. Maybe it was a dream. At these gatherings, people of like minds or interests would, what is the phrase? Get together. Yes. In one room - maybe two if the gathering was large enough. I even dreamt of a crossword tournament where over 700 people gathered at a hotel ballroom - no, that would never happen. Ha ha.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the Gathering

strayling 7:40 PM  

What a delightful puzzle. The themers were clever and funny, or at least that's how I found them. Solved with a smile on my face, which is a welcome gift at the moment.

fakt chekker 7:44 PM  


  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP