Bygone smartphone / TUE 4-7-20 / Breakout role for Robin Williams / Classic catalog for air passengers

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Constructor: Trent H. Evans

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium? (had a conversation while solving ... see below)

THEME: [body part, kinda] IN (or ON) THE [some place] — idioms describing various "state"s

Theme answers:
  • HEAD IN THE CLOUDS (20A: Dreaming state)
  • FEET ON THE GROUND (36A: Practical state)
  • MIND IN THE GUTTER (49A: Crass state)
Word of the Day: TWERK (26D: Bring up the rear?) —
TWERKING: sexually suggestive dancing characterized by rapid, repeated hip thrusts and shaking of the buttocks especially while squatting (merriam-webster)
• • •

Just gonna give you the highlights today, since I expended most of my energy analyzing energy in the making of this solving video (with my friend and occasional guest blogger Rachel Fabi):

At 25+ minutes, it's about ten minutes longer than I'd like these videos to be on average, but it's a pretty tight 25. If you just want to see the actual solve and solving discussion, you can skip to about the 5:30 mark and start there. Rachel was very kind to just hop onto Zoom last night and do this "live" solve with me. Definitely the most fun I've had solving a Tuesday puzzle.

Here's a quick summary of my thoughts about this puzzle:

The theme is light, but in a good way. Just three themers, all the same grid-spanning length, all following the same basic phrasing pattern, fine. Just fine. Didn't have a revealer, didn't need a revealer. I do think the whole business with cluing each answer as some kind of "state" was a uniformity the theme actually did not need. The thing that keeps it hanging together is just the rhythm of the phrasing ("blank in/on the blank") and the fact that the first word in every phrase is a body part. That in/on inconsistency didn't really bother me. What did bother me was having the third "body part" be "MIND," both because it isn't a body part at all, and because it basically duplicates "HEAD" (unless your mind is located in some other part of *your* body, in which case ... well, you can keep that to yourself). Would've been nice to start with the HEAD phrase and end with the FEET phrase, with some kind of middle-of-the-body part (HEART? BELLY?) in the middle slot. It's an unassuming, airy, lilting little theme, no great shakes, but charming in its way. And the fill holds up OK, even if it is a little overly familiar (ALOU LAILA ONEL OMANI etc.). Only TREO made me wince a little (52D: Bygone smartphone) (soon it will not be reasonable to expect anyone to remember that bygone product name for a M or T puzzle ... by "soon" I might mean "now").

A few more things!:
  • 26D: Bring up the rear? (TWERK) — this is gonna be one of those answers where constructors / editors are gonna have a Real hard time laying off the "?" clues. Butt stuff is just too tempting, I guess. Speaking of butt stuff:
  • 47A: It ends with diciembre (ANO) — in the video, Rachel and I have brief but in-depth discussion about the importance (or lack thereof) of diacritical marks (like the tilde!), and why their absence only seems to rankle in this specific case (i.e. the case where "year" turns into "anus" without the diacritical mark.
  • 39D: DeLorean license plate in "Back to the Future" (OUTATIME) — I balked at this because of the spelling of OUT(T)A, which I would instinctively spell with two "T"s, but the spelling of the license plate is the spelling of the license plate. It does not admit of debate. Here's proof that the clue is in fact correct:

I just remembered that I have seen that car. I've stood next to that car. Hang on ... tracking down old vacation photos ... here we go

(Bandon, OR, June 2013)
Have a nice Tuesday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:40 AM  

This landed perfectly for a Tuesday puzzle (for me, an experienced solver), falling in a swoosh, but a slower swoosh than a Monday. The cluing was just a touch less obvious than we get on Monday, and there were answers that were Tuesday perfect, that is, not residing in that always-available, easy-to-pluck-from brain territory, but from that layer just below it. For me, that means answers like ODWALLA, SKYMALL, METEOR (as clued), MADLIB, TREO, and OUTATIME.

Later in the week is when we see answers that are way deep down in the memory, or not there at all, and there were no such answers today for me. Thus the puzzle felt perfectly placed.

Two side points. One, I wondered why OAR wasn't cross-referenced with CANOE, and have found out that oars are for rowboats, and paddles for canoes (and kayaks). Two, I smiled at the cross of GROWN and NO LONGER, because when a person is grown, they have reached their full height and will become no longer!

Lots to love here, and thank you so much, the T.H.E.!

Kevin C. 6:55 AM  

In this case I would argue that the tilde is not merely a diacritical mark; in Spanish, the letter ñ is distinct from the letter n! In other words, it is not just an "accented" n. And, uh, also the butthole thing...

amyyanni 7:00 AM  

Good Tuesday puzzle and kind words of support in constructor's notes. Sad because Mr. Tiger, Al Kaline died. He was my first favorite baseball player. Turned down a $100,000 salary one year because he said he hadn't played well enough that year to warrant it. True class.

Loren Muse Smith 7:06 AM  

Enjoyed the video, but I ended up abandoning it because my $#*&^ HughesNet is so slow. FWIW, I always jump around and do all the fill-in-the-blanks first and then work around those crosses.

Very nice that Trent found three 15-letter body part idioms describing a person’s situation. There are other expressions – skin in the game, ear to the ground, eye on the prize – but they don’t work here as well semantically imo.

HEART IN THE RIGHT PLACE matches the others, but it’s too long.

@Lewis - I never knew there was a difference between an OAR and a paddle. Seems if you’re using an OAR, you’re using an implement that is attached to the boat, and you’re propelling yourself backwards. If you’re paddling, your paddles are not attached, and you’re moving forward.

Why does a ROAST have to be televised? A couple of years ago, a few teachers had the magnificently bad idea to hold a roast for the seniors. It was not televised, so their humiliation was more private. A teacher ended up being fired, and I’m not making that up. In addition to making fun of a girl’s weight gain, he implied that a student’s mustache indicated he was a pedophile. Rumor has it the teacher had been school-day-drinking.

I would love to have seen the clue for YORE be “back in the day” – kind of a nod to the theme. Hah.

FETE crosses FEST. Hmm. Same word, really. If you’re so inclined (I am), you can spell it with a circumflex - fête. Here’s the cool thing: A circumflex is like an apostrophe cousin in that it indicates a letter has been dropped, in this case, an S.

île /isle

My ACER is dying a slow death. And now my msn email is locked. Totally locked ‘cause they’re saying they have noticed some kind of suspicious activity. I cannot seem to fix it, no matter how many times I jump through their little hoops. So if you’re waiting for a response for me, there it is. I’m trying. . .

TASTE. Recently I’ve been noticing all kinds of stuff in Hallmark movies besides the town name “Such and Such Falls,” the immaculate coffee shop, the clothes and wall colors matching the season, and the feisty female protagonist. I’m noticing that the pictures on the walls are all hung too high. In my opinion, the single biggest indicator of TASTE and refinement is that the stuff on your walls is hung way down away from the ceiling, closer to the SOFAS. Now *that’s* good taste, buddy, and you better believe all my pictures are eye-level.

Ok. One more thing about the circumflex. Since we all have a lot of time, right? Flex is a term I’m hearing, and I’m thinking it means kind of to show off, but maybe not in a bad way. I was telling my son that I’m doing a YouTube exercise video every day during this shut-down, and he was like That’s some serious flexing, Mom. He’s my biggest fan, so I’m pretty sure this was a compliment, that I wasn’t being called out for showing off. And that’s how you go from the FETE/FEST cross to flexing.

On to another day of watching CNN clips childish, defensive, petulant, belligerent behavior on the part of a monster with his BACK AGAINST THE WALL. Or his ANO in a sling.

Aketi 7:24 AM  

@Webwinger from your continued insistence on explaining your armchair statistics last night, I have no words for my disgust of your repeated minimization of what is going on in NYC, while you stay in your safe little bubble and play around with statistics to convince yourself that it’s no big deal if more than double the number of people that died on 911 will die in NYC. It was bad enough that we crossed the line of 911 deaths in less than 3 weeks. Your words are of no comfort whatsoever and decidedly unempathetic. AGE MAY BE JUST A NUMBER but deaths are not a number to those who lost a loved one.

If you don’t cut it out I will put up the details of what is happening to people I know who have to treat, have been sick, and/or have died. The symptoms are NOT like a normal flu and the deaths are gruesome enough that I’m sure no one here want to read the details. Your comments are not pertinent to the crossword puzzles. I come her for distraction from what is going on in my area and I don’t need your ‘splainin’ to me about how what is going on here is no big deal because you think it might only be 6 to 7000 deaths. Please stick to the crossword puzzle comments which is what I intend to do unless you continue down the path of inserting your stats into the discussions.

kitshef 7:26 AM  

Very enjoyable and a bit unusual. I like that the places the body part go are in the correct order: CLOUDS and the top, GROUND under that, and GUTTER under that.

We had a puzzle a while back that had OUTTA in it, and it made me think of Back to the Future's one-t version. Nice to see that today.

@LMS - more Hallmark, less CNN = serenity now.

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

There's a Natick in this puzzle at 28 across and 30 down, IMO.

Aketi 7:34 AM  

Alternate clues
20a Covid 19 deniers
36a Andrew Cuomo
49a 45

Anonymous 7:45 AM  

As is his nature, once again Will Shortz has his head up his ANO.

Lance 7:50 AM  

My fastest Tuesday ever. Almost as fast as my best Monday.

Hungry Mother 7:53 AM  

Finished before Rex’s blog was ready. Super easy today.

mooretep 7:53 AM  

The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground, head in the sky
It's okay, I know nothing's wrong, nothing.

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

@ moderators, Please delete comments that are a personal attack.

SouthsideJohnny 8:02 AM  

ODWALLA crossing LANDO is a bit much on a Tuesday, and lands us in an icky spot. Surprised Rex let the dis of about 125 Million peeps (5 down) slide - maybe he out of energy for faux outrage today. I don’t understand the clue for NERDFEST - what is a “Comic con”? Maybe a comic book convention - is NERDFEST an abbreviation for festival ? Maybe it has something to do with comic strips or cartoons, lol. Just not registering for me today.

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

Oh dear. I seriously missed the body parts completely (had a cranial/rectal inversion, I guess). I thought it was clouds-->ground-->gutter. Y'know, a trend downwards. I suspect I might be alone in this.

mmorgan 8:12 AM  


Puzzle was fine but the IN/ON inconsistency bothered me a lot. And LANDO threw me for a LOUPE.

Suzie Q 8:13 AM  

This will do for a Tuesday.
If I never see or hear about twerking for the rest of my life I would be happy. Disgusting.

14A and 41A got me thinking about Aesop and Shakespeare. Between those two guys just about everything you need to know about human nature seems to be covered.

Z 8:18 AM  

Pretty much what Rex said, just in less than 25 minutes. A fine example of why I wouldn’t want a video every day; I found the whole conversation interesting, but the time investment is a little high (also why I don’t listen to many podcasts). I hope people caught the “idiot” discussion, since it gave some nuance that isn’t always evident from the write-ups.

@LMS - One comment I saw about the great Al Kaline last night was something to the effect of, “retiring with 399 homer runs was a serious flex.” Implying that he was so good that he didn’t need the round “400” to prove it. Definitely a compliment as long as it’s done without trying to impress. If you flex to show off then it’s just preening.

Regarding ANO/AÑO, can’t we all just snicker and move along? Please.

@LMS - take my email before the @ then append @aol, @gmail, @outlook, and it will reach me. My @yahoo email doesn’t follow the pattern for some reason lost to the mists of time, nor does my wowway email (which, seriously, I haven’t had wowway in 7 years and I still get email through that account - why?). What I’m saying is maybe it’s time to get a free gmail or yahoo account.

CDilly52 8:20 AM  

I went down the OAR/paddle rabbit hole as well as @Lewis because of the way it was clued, “relative” of a paddle. It brought to mind the old crosswordese favorite “thole” which I remember by thinking of it as an apostrophe-less contraction meaning “the hole” (see, t’hole!) where the OAR fits through so as to attach it to the rowboat and thereby distinguish the implement from a paddle. I am guessing I have beat that poor horse to a fare thee well, I may also have let some moor Soule onto my thought process which I am told can be a very scary thing to see up close.

As much as I usually find “butt” entries to be things that probably Lt should have been edited out, the clue for TWERK was undeniably clever. And I learned how to spell TWERK.

All of the things our experts, @Lewis and @LMS and even @Rex have mentioned are also high points for me. While very Tuesday accessible, this puzzle had more clever clues even for the old saws. I found this opus tight, light and fun. @Lewis, Inreally enjoyed your description of weekday accessibility based upon where the answers reside in the layers of one’s mind.

Onward. More coffee first.

Z 8:23 AM  

@anon8:10 - Nice catch, I didn’t notice that, but now that you pointed it out it I see it as a nice little bonus to the theme order.

Another Anon 8:23 AM  

Absolutely. ODWALLA/LANDO. I didn't know ONEL or LOUPE either so I DNF'd.

Another Anon 8:25 AM  

Second that!

webwinger 8:25 AM  

I was expecting a pan from @Rex today because of the odd not-quite parallelism between the head, feet, and mind answers anatomically. I was also put off by the theme because the first two answers described traits that are considered admirable (or at least get a pass from others), while the third is used only disapprovingly or ironically. Solved this in almost exactly the same time as yesterday’s puzzle, and only a bit more than a minute off from my Tuesday best.

Getting a bit tired of the obsession over absent diacritical marks. This is an English language puzzle even when foreign words appear in the grid. There’s no way to enter non-English characters if you solve on-line. I can’t imagine any solver really gets confused by the omissions, any more than by the lack of spaces in multi-word answers.

@amyyanni 7:00: I remember seeing Al Kaline play at the old Briggs Field in the 1950s. All the kids in my neighborhood idolized him. Didn’t know the salary story you mention. A real prince...

@Aketi 7:24: This is not a good time for us to be angry with each other over differences of opinion (though unfortunately that is increasingly the norm). We all want to find the find the best way out, and that will come from sober consideration of facts. (Along that line, I suggest reading my posts from yesterday at 2:20 and 9:39 if anyone wants to know what I actually said. You might also check my post from 4/2 3:11 pm.) I worked alongside ICU docs and nurses for more than 40 years, and well know how much stress they experience even in normal times, and how much their patients and families suffer. The current situation is awful. It could be much worse. Wrong decisions based on ill-informed judgement will not help matters.

QuasiMojo 8:33 AM  

I found this to be a weak puzzle full of tired TV trivia and dull crosswordese. OLAY, ACER, YORE, FEST crossing FETE, UPDO, ANO, ORAL, UPDO etc. Even LAMA feels stale. Plus product placement: ODWALLA? Too much pop sci/fi like Star Trek, MORK and Back to the Future. This felt as if it had fallen through a time warp. Finally the MIND is a terrible thing to waste but it is not a body part. The puzzle needed a HEART. And a BRAIN. And COURAGE to think outside the box.

pabloinnh 8:34 AM  

Well, like @LMS I gave up on the video too. Interesting for a while, and then it turned, ironically enough, into a NERDFEST, at least for me.

Today I learned TREO, too late it seems, and ODWALLA, which was a complete WOE. Is this regional? TREO may show up again, as it looks like a handy combination of letters, but I'd be surprised, again, to see ODWALLA, again. And speaking of again, there was CTRL, again.

I bet OUTAHERE with a single T is a function of the number of letters allowed on a license plate. Zany things you see on license plates would make a good theme.

Anyone who tries to paddle a CANOE with an OAR will quickly discover the difference (and wish they had a paddle). This also applies to trying to row with a paddle.

Nice Tuesdecito, THE. You're the genuine article.

Aketi 8:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sluggo 8:56 AM  

It looks like Rex and @Kevin C. Beat me to it, but as a continuation of my KOLN/Köln frustration yesterday, we now have today's ANO/año conundrum.

Like others have pointed out, ANO means "anus."

This could have easily been fixed by making the clue "It ends with dezembro." By using the Portuguese spelling of December, you would get the correct answer "ANO" since in Portuguese there is no tilde in use there, and you won't have anymore anuses in your puzzle.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Please remember the blog courtesy of 3 and out.

Aketi 9:04 AM  

@webwinger, you are not presenting facts, you are presenting opinions to justify the minimization of the severity of what is happening in New York City at this moment,

The average death rate is 158 a day and the current rate of death is hovering around 600/day.

Your words from yesterday minimizing the losses NYC and NYS are experiencing:
The national total will probably be no more than twice what was recorded in the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. The NYC total will probably be less than twice the loss of life on 9/11. The NYS total will be considerably less than the usual number of lives lost to all causes in the state during an average month. And the national death count from COVID may be not much more than the total number of KIA and MIA in the 1863 battle of Gettysburg (about 18,500 including both sides—Confederate losses do count here—which was more than 0.05% of the US population at the time).

You have no right to tell me how I should feel about that. I can be as angry as I want to be about the fact that you are pontificating about something that not even the best epidemiologists can adequately predict (and you most decidedly aren’t one) in a crossword puzzle blog. I can perfectly well read the statistics and models from real epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins and come to my own conclusions.

Ernonymous 9:05 AM  

@aketi thank you, great post! Yesterday I posted some info on some gruesome stuff going on at the Bronx hospital where my sister works but it was completely ignored with more statistics being posted about how it's not that bad. She's got a 12 hour shift today, again, with uncomfortable mask, no supplies, dead bodies out back and codes being called all day long. Enough with minimizing this with curves and stats and models.

Petsounds 9:24 AM  

Would it be at all possible to confine the arguing over COVID-19 to blogs more appropriate to that kind of discussion? Asking for a friend.

This blog is my daily happy place and I'm sure that's true for most of us.

I enjoyed this puzzle, maybe because my one and only falter was TREO, a brand I have never heard of, probably because I never had any interest in smart phones. I thought the difficulty level was just right for a Tuesday, and I enjoyed most of the fill. The clue for CANOE reminded me of 8th grade American history, taught by Mrs. Gilfillan, a DAR member who absolutely adored her subject. In that class we learned all about "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," which I remember to this day while much more important things have vanished from the memory cells.

Nice job, Trent!

TJS 9:31 AM  

Why can't commenters obsessed with non-crossword issues just make their point and not feel as if they have to counter each additional response ? Or perhaps exchange e-mail addresses and spend all day on the subject. This is as annoying as the inability to just ignore the trolls who only exist to rile people up and then pretend that their views were mis-construed (and you know who you are).

On a different note, just noticed that @Z corrected my attempt at sharing the McCartny video yesterday. Many thanks.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Nope. Flex is the wrong word. Flexing is posing. It is a display. The idea that he was so good he didnt nerd yo notch a number is correct. The fescription of his attude and hence behavior is a tad off.
Kaline did the opposite of flex. He just retired.

Anyone else notice the photo on the front page of today's paper. It's a woman being disinfected in Albania's capital. It sure aint spelled with an E.

xyz 9:34 AM  


Why were you in Bandon, OR? No way you play golf.

Your talking while solving took basically my solve time, Cheers

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Lol. Rex is producing the content. And now reviiewing it himself.
Wow. That is one ego run amok.
Mr. Sharp, I've been priducing videos for 31 years. That was not a tight 25.

Nancy 9:37 AM  

Forgive me if I muttah
And excuse me if I holla,
'Cause I never heard of LANDO
And I didn't know ODWALLA.

I thought I would have a Tuesday Natick at the crossing of these two proper names, but I guessed right, so all is well. Or at least wellish.

I thought the theme was cute. I was less taken with the fill (I'm also looking at you, SKYMALL and MADLIB). All of them gimmes, I imagine, for many solvers, but not for me.

Karl Grouch 9:43 AM  

Can we please leave poor "ano" alone?
It's just a dative (or ablative) case of a medical term in a dead language for chrissesakes!

Kathy 9:49 AM  

Big name in smoothies and juices...where??
Crossing a Star Trek reference, which is never in my wheelhouse. I see I’m not alone.
Cute theme though.
I’m not much of a baseball fan, but the Alou brothers have become a running joke between sports fan hubby (who doesn’t do the crossword but sometimes helps from the sidelines) and clueless me. So I’m always ready for this bit of four letter baseball crosswordese.

RooMonster 10:07 AM  

Hey All !
Posting with my ANO in the SOFA. 😆 How did año and ano get into Spanish meaning two totally different things? And who decided ñ to be a different letter than n? Dang, could've just made a different letter. Any Languisticians out there know?

Put naan in first for RONI, because Tuesday. Thanks to previous puzs for knowing that.

SKYMALL mags are awesome! Don't travel much, but every time I fly and peruse that mag, I want to but all the neat things in there you never seem to find in any other place.

Lots of NERDs lately. I was considering a NERD in HS before it was cool. Sympathies are accepted. 😋

TWERK could've been clued - Dance with your 47A in the air.

Thinking about starting to wear an ASCOT.

LEWIS is popular lately. No ROO or BARB (Hi @Barbara S!) though. Speaking of @Barbara S, LOLed at your rhubarb the other day!

Did like the puz, easy, Tuesday, simple theme. Fun but weird clue on EYES.

Two F's

Nancy 10:09 AM  

Great pun, @pabloinnh!!! (8:34, last sentence). Absolutely inspired!!!

I also really like your wry oar/paddle observation. The only thing you didn't address: Is it worse to paddle a rowboat with an oar or oar a rowboat with a paddle?

Frantic Sloth 10:16 AM  

Almost gave up on the video, but then the solve started and I was glad I stuck with it.
TOYOff?? That cracked me up - especially since TOYOTA slogans have been hanging around of late.

And BTW how many slogans does TOYOTA have??

I also questioned using MIND in one of the answers, but decided it didn't bother me enough to care.

Those here who pointed out the levels (HEAD, FEET, GUTTER) had a better idea for the theme, IMHOpancakes.

@kitshef 7:26am Wise words regarding "serenity now!"

Frank Costanza montage

TJS 10:18 AM  

Seems to me that "crass" is more associated with "indifference" or "cpmmercialism" than any "gutter".

@Lewis getting another shout-out today. All those cpmpliments are really paying off.

Felipe, Matty, Moises ! Enough with the Alous, already ! Jesus !

pabloinnh 10:22 AM  

@Nancy-glad you liked my stab at humor. We pun lovers need to stick together.

As for the row/paddle with the wrong implement, I have tried both, as our summer place had both rowboats and canoes for our guests to use. I'd probably have to flip a coin, as both are awful and one is worse than the other.

Carola 10:29 AM  

A fun one. HEAD IN THE CLOUDS brought a "NIce!" and FEET ON THE GROUND a smile...and then my MIND went straight to THE GUTTER (where it doesn't usually hang out). Terrific theme idea and such serendipity to the equal-length answers.

Also liked OUTATIME + NO LONGER and the little plays on THE CLOUDS: where you might find a SKY MALL + the reminder that LANDO Calrissian lives in CLOUD City.

kitshef 10:30 AM  

The irritating thing about the ANO kerfuffle is it is so easily avoided. Change the clue to "It ends with dezembro". (Portuguese).

Bax'N'Nex 10:36 AM  

Didn't watch the video. After taking an 25 minutes to read LMS's manifesto, who has that kind of time for another 25 minutes.

Was wondering if Rachel complained about "personal interest"-ism for NERDFEST. Why should we be calling them nerds just because they like Comicon? Nerd was a perjorative when I was growing up, now totally acceptable. Moron and idiot are (were?)legitimate (at the time) classifications. C'mon missed a soapbox of absurdity there.

thfenn 10:38 AM  

ODWALLA crossing LOUPE and LANDO definitely stumped me, felt like a DNF even if running the alphabet got the chimes to ring. BELLYOFTHEBEAST wooda fit, which is where it feels like I am sometimes.

Z 10:51 AM  

@anon9:34 - You are describing how I always knew the term, but language users have zero regard for what words meant and are constantly giving them new nuance. So “flex” in the preening sense is still out there. But flex in the “so good they don’t need to preen because how good they are is just so obvious” can be found more and more.

@mooretep - Great video. I tend to think of David Byrne as the walking embodiment of alpha nerd. Here’s another from the same performance.

@SouthsideJohnny - You got it, a Comic Con is a comic book convention, “con” being a widely used shortening for “convention.” And ComicCon participants might well identify it as a festival of nerds, or NERDFEST.
OTOH, Despite the Star Wars disdain sometimes found here, I don’t think anything Star Wars can ever be a true natick. ODWALLA has appeared before, meaning I’ve seen it more in puzzles than in the wild. I do seem to recall looking for it at the grocer the last time it appeared and it was on the shelf. So, at least twice in puzzles but no more than once in the wild.

@anon9:36 - Agreed. Really felt like it needed some paring down.

@Roo - Ñ and N are different letters representing different sounds. In English we would write “canon” and “canyon” to represent the two different words, but in Spanish it would be “canon” and “cañon.” (@Gill I - you might have better examples). Who decided? I’m pretty sure Loki is also the God of Spelling.

@TJS10:18 - That made me laugh.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

RIP David Berman

Malsdemare 11:01 AM  

@webwinger and Aketi. I wasn't going to comment but: Weeks ago, when flattening the curve was just starting out, pundits said that if we managed to contain this with stringent measures, we'd be accused of "over-reacting." Well, the populous states did take stringent measures; I've been in lockdown for three weeks. And there's some evidence it’s working. And, webwinger, forgive me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be implying that we are over-reacting. All I can say is, thank god for those over-reactors. Please keep it up.

I thought this was a lovely, light-hearted puzzle. I wanted TAliA for LAILA because I had Stance for SLANTS. That messed me up for a bit. I enjoyed the anonymous assignment of the themers to politicians. So what can we say about these idiots who think in-person voting during a pandemic is an okay thing? @LMS? Anybody? Bueller?

My pandemic task today is to bathe my "please don't get me wet I may drown" dog. My sister suggested I get my husband to help and what immediately hit my brain was an image of hubby and me naked in the shower with this dirty, wet, soapy dog and now I need to wash my brain. And my dog. Without a naked husband.

Anonymoose 11:04 AM  

Yes, weird 13D. Pretty sure "EYES" is not anagram for "They see". "The EYES" is but clue is badly written.

GILL I. 11:06 AM  

Nice tuesdaycito (hi @pablo)... MIND IN THE GUTTER was my favorite. But doesn't it need GET YOUR and OUT? I guess not. I always wonder how and when people come up with these phrases. Our gutter was always full of leaves. Why wold you let your mind wander in one of those? And then my MIND went wandering to the SKYMALL magazine. I think they went bankrupt or something. Everything in that magazine cost a fortune. I almost bought a bug vacuum but I think it was about $100. I'll just stick to rolled up newspaper. Well, actually I don't use that anymore because you never know if you might come back as a black widow.
Speaking of license plates....When those personalized plates came out, I wanted one so badly. All the clever things I wanted to say were taken. The one I remember the most was on a VW and the plates said EEW A BUG.
I buy ODWALLA all the time. My favorite is a green one called SMOOBUCHA.
Let's see...what else can I bore you with today...Oh, I found a way to make a mask with old socks. I was watching a YouTube something or other and they show you how to cut them up and make a breathable mask. My old one needs washing but the socks ones can be thrown in the washing machine after each use. I have some newborn baby diapers from when my granddaughter came for visits and they fit nicely over your nose.
I have to go out again soon and try to find basic food items. I used the last of my precious rye flour and made a delicious pumpernickel loaf. I gave half of it away to neighbors who can't go out and they keep asking for more. Maybe I'll get lucky.
Isn't it RICH....HEAD IN THE CLOUDS lalalalalalalalalala.

Malsdemare 11:09 AM  

@thfenn. BELLY OF THE BEAST! Fantastic!

Riverman 11:10 AM  

Kayaking once, I was without my double blade kayak paddle. Luckily a friend had a spare canoe paddle for me to use. It worked but was inefficient and awkward. Better than an oar, I guess.

Crimson Devil 11:13 AM  

TWERK best thing ‘bout this Tues.
N/H/O LANDO or ODWALLA; must be regional.

dadnoa 11:20 AM  

+1 for this entire comment. Writing Spanish words without appropriate letters is just culturally insensitive. Do we have any statistics around constructor gender and butt related fill?

bigsteve46 11:21 AM  

I'm not getting any younger and I accept the consequences of having no interest in or knowledge of Star Wars stuff and never heard of Odwalla or worked with a "loupe" - but will somebody please explain 28 Down? I am a lawyer and passed my Contracts class somewhere in the mid 1970's - but I just don't get it.

egsforbreakfast 11:32 AM  

Phrases that don’t work (usually for more than one reason)

Nose to the grindstone
Eye on the prize
Ear to the ground
Hand in the cookie jar
Foot in mouth
Hair on fire
Thumb on the scale
Mouth of the south

Very easy, but enjoyable Tuesday.

Whatsername 11:35 AM  

Puzzle was fun, seemed even easier than yesterday. I like the CLOUDS, GROUND, GUTTER sequence, a pleasant visual. Saw a Maxine cartoon of her getting out of bed with the caption “It’s time to get up. I’m late for the SOFA.” Pretty much a picture of my life these days.

I join @Petsounds and @TJS in the desire to preserve this blog as happy place. We all have opinions and they’re bound to be different, but one thing I’ve always liked about this group is the propensity to disagree respectfully.

@Giovanni (9:05) I read your post yesterday and I was appalled. People like your sister who are on the front lines of this horror – seeing it and living it every day, putting their own lives in peril – they are angels on earth. When this is over, they should all receive the Medal of Freedom, but they won’t. They’ll go back to work and continue to do what they do - care and comfort and heal - until the next time.

@Nancy (9:37) Nice rhyme! Maybe you could do one each week, like Rex’s videos. We need all the entertainment we can get right now.

@GILL from late yesterday: Coconut oil is great moisturizer, the kind you buy for cooking. You can also get it in the cosmetic aisle but it will be twice the price, and it’s the same thing. “Raw” or “unrefined” is best but any kind will do. I’ve developed such bad allergies that I had to stop the cosmetic creams that I had used for years, and a doctor suggested coconut oil. I use it on my face, hands, feet, all over. It takes a little time for your skin to absorb it though, so when you first apply it, be careful about touching anything that might stain.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Fact based, and puzzle based too, question. I suspect that when I first saw the movie, I had it too.

Are there any states where you can get a plate with 8 characters? In my home state of Transylvania, vanity plates were (haven't been there in decades!) available at a price, but they couldn't be more than the 6 letters/digits of regular ones. And yes, it should be OUTTATIME.

jberg 11:43 AM  

The MIND thing was more jarring for me than, apparently, for most.

I knew LANDO and ODWALLA, but I can see that others may not have. I've only seen the first three Star Wars movies (i.e., parts 4, 5, and 6), and I don't think he's part of the rebel alliance in them -- but Calrissian in the clue was enough to go on.

Yeah, everybody, keep overreacting! Here in Boston, the social distancing and staying at home has pretty well taken hold, but not nearly enough people are wearing masks, despite strong suggestions from the mayor. And making them at home has become a cottage industry -- a friend sent us two. They work, except that if there's any humidity at all they fog up my glasses. My stepdaughter is mailing us some more (she makes them, too), so maybe they'll solve that problem. Meanwhile my daughter, an MD in critical care and pulmonology, is spending her long days in the ICU at her hospital. Take a look at the cover of the New Yorker on April 6 (I think that's the date, it's set in a hospital). I can't look at it without tearing up.

astrotrav 11:44 AM  

In modern gaming slang, to 'pwn' (no typo) an opponent means to dominate them, so that was my initial guess for 32A. I always get a giggle whenever I see ANO in a crossword because of its Spanish meaning (without the ñ).

Lee Gerston 11:47 AM  

BELLYOFTHEBEAST would be a good midsection for the puzzle, but gets away from the IN/ON matter

Anonymous 11:48 AM  


That class is, according to the clue, had in first year law school (I didn't go; tried to get into Wharton, but had to go to Fordham for a while until my drunk brother finagled a transfer), thus ONE L? Wasn't there a movie by that name, or close to it?

albatross shell 11:56 AM  

EMU crossing ONE L LAMA
but not EWES 2






No yeas?

31D Agita? Chili?

Had glass before LOUPE cause I could think of LOUPE. The OUPE filled in. Then aha L. Then last square in the ANDO/ODWAL-A cross the L was clearly the likely choice.
It ain't a Natick just cause ya don't know it.

Nose to the grindstone
Toe in the water
Eyes on the prize
Ear to the ground
Length is a problem.

I like the 4,2,THE,6 pattern.
And the last theme answer come across as punchline for the first two.

Nice L words too.

Be safe be kind. Yay hospitals docs nurses staff and all the grunts that are part of the team. Luv ya.

Aketi 12:08 PM  

@Giovanni, sending hugs and love to your sister for her work and @Jberg to your daughter for hers.

JC66 12:18 PM  

@Aketi & @webwinger

FYI, Governor Cuomo just announced that deaths in NY spiked to 731 yesterday.



Newboy 12:21 PM  

Thanks @Akita for your engagement on Rex’s blog; I especially enjoyed your alternative cluing of today’s themers.

Back to yesterday’s Virus statistics issues—I find Hans Rosling a very comforting source. Check out his YouTube video “Hans Rosling 200 Years in 4 Minutes.” And recalling that all statistics are lies consider this for counterpoint:

David 12:22 PM  

theme needed no reveal
themers needed no clues and, that being the case, I'll accept Aketi's

blew through this one and as for diacritics, boy did Loki go to camp with ecclesiastical Greek! I once had to create my own font set to include all the dang things. Česko's pretty good too with what?, 13 vowels and 25 consonants?

Even if you backpaddle in a rowboat you're using oars. Tippicanoe and Tyler too! I know that but it took me about 30 seconds to remember it's Lewis, Shari Lewis and lambchop.

Oral roti knob sounds kind of pornographic, no?

Had fun with this one, thanks.

CaryInBoulder 12:24 PM  

@Z: Sorry the YouTube link didn't work, but glad you got to hear the song. BTW, maybe you can explain to me how to embed a clickable link here. I know it can't be that hard. (If you want you can email me: cary [at] bluesaccess [dot] com. Thx.)

The puzzle was ... a Tuesday. The fill seemed pretty hackneyed, the theme OK. Finished in Monday time. So let me instead pivot to baseball again.

ALOU is a frequent go-to for constructors, but there's an interesting story behind the name. Elder brother Felipe Rojas ALOU was born in 1935 and in 1958 he became the 2nd player from the Dominican Republic to play Major League baseball. (Ozzie Virgil was the first in 1956.) People in Latin American countries use the father's (patronymic) and mother's (matronymic) as their full surnames, but are actually known by the patronymic. At home in the DR the Alous were known as the Rojas brothers.

Felipe hoped to become a doctor and had enrolled in a pre-med university program. His prowess in track and field got him onto the DR team for the Pan-American Games before being eclipsed by his talent for baseball. He gave up his medical dream when financial calamity befell his family. He signed with the Giants and came to the U.S. with no knowledge of English and no friends. At his first minor league stop in Louisiana he was introduced to racism, playing in the Evangeline League. Soon after he arrived, the league voted to expel Lake Charles and Lafayette, the only integrated teams.) He eventually became a star player in the majors and a successful and highly respected manager with the Montreal Expos and later the SF Giants. He is a member of both the Caribbean and Canadian baseball halls of fame.

Since the Giants' organization insisted on referring to him as ALOU rather than Rojas, he finally accepted the name. When his brothers Mateo and Jesus came to play in the U.S. they followed suit. They became the only trio of brothers to play the outfield for the same team in the same game. Felipe fathered 10 children, one of whom, Moises, also became a major leaguer. He also adopted the surname ALOU, even though it was not at all part of his name.

Felipe ALOU, who is still alive and works as a part-time consultant for the Giants, is considered a national hero in the Dominican Republic. So there's some meat for the dry bones of a recurring NYTXW fill answer.

Masked and Anonymous 12:40 PM  

Hard to beat a theme made up solely of grid-spanners. Just has such a nice crisp, clean look to it.
And only 74 words, so lotsa space left open for extra longball answers.

Only 7 weejects (3-letter Rodney Dangerfields of the xword fill community), tho. staff pick: IED. Always kinda shiver when I see this pup pop up in a puz. Mighta gone with IAL, instead. Coulda clued it up as {Suffix with president} = IAL, if U still wanted a shiver.
Harder to get as many weejects, when U place two of yer grid spanners in the 4th and 12th rows, btw. An old Manny Nosowsky move.

Some of the glittery stuff: WATCHDOG. ODWALLA. SKYMALL. NOLONGER. OUTATIME. METEOR. Didn't strongly know half of em, which made em kinda interestin. Had to grunt and invoke the "c'mon, brain!" plea, to recall such pesky things.
But -- Shoot, every once in a while anymore, I have trouble rememberin trivia that I thought I had permanently nailed down. Took m&e 2/3 minutes yesterday to remember Bill Murray's name, f'rinstance. I just stubbornly sat there (gruntin) until I could cough him up.
OTOH, M&A coughed up LANDO today, without even a nano-grunt … go figure.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Evans. Good job.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


JC66 12:59 PM  


I emailed you a cheat sheet for embedding.

chasklu 1:00 PM  

urban dictionary defines 1L as a first year law student. Had me stumped but had heard of ODWALLA, so got the O.

jae 1:07 PM  

Easy- medium. Pretty darn smooth with some fine long downs, liked it a bunch.

The theme was kinda arbitrary, but the last one gave me a chuckle.

@astrotrav - pwn was my first thought too.

Anoa Bob 1:11 PM  

Got the [body part][preposition][physical place] pattern from HEAD IN THE CLOUDS and FEET ON THE GROUND and then did a double-take "Huh?" when it jumped from body to MIND in the final themer. So, like some earlier commenters, I tried to think of an alternative phrase that maintained the pattern of the first two themers. Yeah, there are several candidates, but, BUT, none that I have seen or can think of that meet the sine qua non requirement of being 15 letters long.

I've seen this regularly in past comments. Several other possible theme entries will be mentioned, sometimes being suggested as a better option to the ones actually in the grid, without paying due homage to that sternest of taskmasters, letter-count symmetry.

I think eliminating any other body parts from the grid would make the theme tighter. I'm looking at 13D EYES and 40A ARM. In the latter case, the change would also likely get rid of the 26D TWERK, and that would be a welcomed improvement, right?

My take on the ANO/AÑO flap is that it would be very easy to clue it so as to avoid the flap in the first place. AS kitshef@10:30 suggests, using a Portuguese month in the clue would do the trick, since ANO is year (and only year) in that language. Or how about "Is that ___?" or "Request on Wheel Of Fortune".

I no longer have a CANOE but still have a row boat and a kayak. The OARs and the paddle I bought from a company in Maine that has been making them since the 1850s. They are things of beauty and a joy to use---light weight, strong and with just the right amount of flexibility. The company is Shaw & Tenney.

Unknown 1:31 PM  

What the hell is onel?

Smith 2:19 PM  

The theme reminded me of the old Prairie Home Companion, Powder Milk Biscuits "ad"...I know GK should not be named, but I did like those little words of wisdom...

Keep your feet on the ground
Your head held high
Pray for rain
And keep the humor dry.

Anonymous 2:23 PM  


it's in the comments above. more than once.

Newboy 2:28 PM  

@unknown (1:31) onel is apparently the first year of law school that according to a recent TV drama is sheer hell. Better legal minds will no doubt chime in with clarifying horror stories.

Leo 2:38 PM  

First tear law student

GILL I. 2:41 PM  

@Z 10:51. I can't think of one off the top of my hat (HEAD?)...But this ano thing is ridiculous . The letter ñ is part of the Spanish alphabet for goodness sake. If Will hasn't figured this out yet, then he should. Yeah, it's ano in Portuguese so clue it that way.
Thank you @Whatsername for the coconut oil suggestion. I tried @Albatross suggestion from yesterday about using petroleum jelly with gloves. That lasted about 3 seconds....I. Cannot. Wear. Gloves. To Bed.
I went to the store today and went to the baby aisle. I found some baby lotion for the baby's bum. It has chamomile and lavender in it and it was on sale! It works. It's amazing what you can make do with or without. It's also amazing the things the stores have run out of. Today there was no whole milk nor butter.
@Aketi, @Nancy, JC66, @Giovani and all of you in the NYC area....prayers going out to all of you. everybody.
If you have flour and yeast in your pantry, make some's truly cathartic. You can Google no knead bread recipes. Try it and if you make a big batch, share it with someone who can't go out.

CaryinBoulder 2:46 PM  

@JC66 Thanks, but I haven’t seen the email yet. Maybe it’ll eventually show up in my spam filter.

Anonymous 2:52 PM  

What app does Rex use to solve his crosswords?? Looks fancy.

JC66 2:59 PM  

@Anon 2:52

I think it's AcrossLite.

JC66 3:01 PM  


If you can't find it, email me & I'll resend it.

Z 3:05 PM  

@Anon2:52 - Rex uses Black Ink, a mac only app I believe.

Lewis 3:06 PM  

@CaryinBoulder -- Wow, thank you for that Alou backstory. It did indeed flesh out that crosswords stalwart, and was well told.

Anonymous 4:14 PM  

How is ALOU pronounced?

Is it EYE-YOO.

jae 4:37 PM  

@CaryinBoulder - I’ll second @Lewis’s thank you for the Allou info. It’s nice to have some context for an answer I’ve put in more times than I can remember.

Anonymous 4:55 PM  


bertoray 5:08 PM  

@CaryinBoulder I'll third @Lewis's thank you for Alou backstory. I'm now looking forward to seeing this crossword staple crop up.

pabloinnh 5:22 PM  

@Anon 4:14-
A lot of people are going to tell you that it's AH-LOO, no double l to produce a Y sound.

@CaryinBoulder-Nice info on the eldest Alou. I remember a story about a minister in SF who during an exciting pennant run for the Giants made some reference to Mary and her son HAY-SOOSE.

Actually, it's a very common Hispanic first name (c.f. Mohammed). We don't do that in English, of course, unless you remember college basketball player God Shamgod. If you did hear that one, it's pretty hard to forget.

jae 6:05 PM  

Dang, that should have been ALOU (ONE L not 2).

Anonymous 6:11 PM  


(From pronunciation Anon.)

Nancy 6:16 PM  

@Newboy (2:28) -- Scott Turow is best known for his novels, especially "Presumed Innocent", but my favorite of all his books is "ONE L" -- the sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious story of his first year at Harvard Law School. As with all the truly great memoirs (Moss Hart's "Act One": Agassi's "Open"), this one is written with great immediacy and with no 20-20 hindsight. You are there -- worrying and cramming and suffering and thinking you're not going to make it right along with Turow. Why, it was enough to make me thrilled that I didn't choose to go to law school. If this is a subject that interests you, @Newboy, it's really a must read. You'll close your door and you won't answer your phone, I guarantee.

Z 6:24 PM  

The beginning of wisdom is knowing what you don’t know. Warning: lots of numbers and no answers.

Anonymous 6:46 PM  

This is pronunciation Anon. again.

Did one of those Alous get called Junior a lot by sportscasters and such?

Jeff 7:03 PM  

Milk through the nose moment: "WAR CRIME?"

Also, anyone else think Rec/Michael sounds an awful lot like Will Shortz?

Anonymous 7:16 PM  

Thank you everyone. In case you’re not on Twitter, I have a defense for the ANO entry. What if my original clue was [Cuarenta y cinco]? :)


Anonymous 7:36 PM  

I really need to see Back to the Future one of these days! I love Rex in front of the car. Funny video too.
I filled in ANO and thought, as I am sure a lot of you did, "oh boy here we go!" One of first comments on Wordplay is someone pointing out that Year and Anus are 2 different things! LMAO!
730 dead in New York today. After a few days in the death rate moving down, it is back up to 730. This is about 2300 dead in New York the past 4 days. God help us! Stay Inside! It is possible they are putting the bodies in a trench in Central Park? This has to be fake news.

pabloinnh 8:18 PM  

Hey Trent-

Cuarenta y cinco=ANO=PERFECTO!

Z 8:45 PM  

@Trent - I can’t believe Shortz didn’t go with your clue.

GILL I. 8:52 PM  

I'm watching Judge Judy but it's a commercial. TRENT....Oh happy days...That made my day. Yes, @pablo ANO PERFECTO.

JC66 9:16 PM  

I received an email from someone (George, think) requesting that I send them the Embedding Cheat Sheet that I sent to @caryinboulder.

Just wanted to let you know that your email mysteriously disappeared, so please email me again so I can forward the cheat sheet to you.

BTW, were you able to find my email @caryinboulder?

webwinger 12:32 AM  

I can’t respond individually to all who have commented today, but offer the following:

It’s not easy for me to admit I’m wrong (ask my wife), but I now have to agree the comparisons I made concerning loss of life were crass. I certainly had no intention of belittling the terrible toll this crisis, or the others I cited, have taken on many individuals and communities, and I apologize to those who were offended.

I continue to think there is good reason to believe the worst of this experience will soon be over, without its reaching widely predicted levels. I cannot convince myself that the only factor responsible for this is the success of our efforts to turn the tide, even though I fully support those efforts, and have been scrupulous in adhering to federal, state, and local social distancing recommendations myself, including masking. (I have no power over anyone else in this regard.) I hope evidence that accumulates over the coming weeks and months will be interpreted with clarity and without bias.

I sincerely want what is best for all, with safety the highest priority, but the economic well-being of impacted workers also of paramount importance, and I do not want to see their hardship prolonged without solid evidence of necessity.

Finally, I must say that I have no desire to see our president’s carelessness and ignorance in this situation vindicated or rewarded, and in particular do not in any way want to see it increase his chances for re-election. That has been an important part of the reason I fear the consequences of well-intended actions that may unintentionally play into his hand.

Anonymous 5:40 AM  

I’m kidding of course. That wasn’t actually my submitted clue. But I wish it could have been! Stay safe puzzle peeps.


kitshef 7:48 AM  

Aketi had suggested a similar clue for ANO (45). I'm not getting it. Why is 45 (or cuarenta y cinco) a clue for ANO?

Z 7:52 AM  

@kitshef - Obama was our 44th president.

thefogman 9:54 AM  

Had to guess for the O in ODWALLA/ONEL but guessed right. Same for the M in SKYMALL/MADLIB. What is ONEL?

thefogman 10:13 AM  

PS - For further clarity Trump (Pres. #45) is an ANO. Spanish for A—hole.

Burma Shave 12:29 PM  


YORE OUTATIME to mutter,


spacecraft 12:55 PM  

1-L = 1st-year Law student. As a letter-add, it grates against my MIND. Leave those to Prof. Kingsfield.

Otherwise, a pretty breezy Tuesday piece. 15ers usually lay great weight on the fill; not so much here. ODWALLA forced in by crosses; how "big" a name can it be if I never heard of it? LANDO: gimme. TREO was the only other WOE. Once again, LAILA Ali walks off with the DOD sash. Loved NERDFEST. Birdie.

rondo 1:15 PM  

@foggy - a ONEL is a first year law school student; ONE-L or 1-L. Contracts and Torts are invariably ONEL classes. Been there, done that.

I'll put my toeinthewater and perhaps not get a footinthemouth and say this puz was OK. Don't know if it's a national brand, but LANDO Lakes will NOLONGER use their Indian maiden logo.

If one EKES out enough money they could SEEK out some SKEE Ball in the Four Corner Arcade.

I loved Shari LEWIS when I was a kid. HOT?

Gott go, OUTATIME.

Diana, LIW 1:52 PM  

I'll never figure out why and/or which puzzles our leader will dislike. Thought for sure these themers would find some argument.

Not here. Found it a fine Tuesday - good for a beginner and youngish solver like moi.

@Rondo - caught your foot-in-water remarks. Reminds one of some of B Franklin's oft-quoted sayings.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 2:57 PM  

Solid Tuesday with some bite.

HEAD in the sand, EYES in the sky, and ARM in a cast might have given the theme more heft.

Good to see LAILA Ali and Shari LEWIS make their appearances.

The old TREO smartphone needed a couple of crosses, as did LOUPE and OUTATIME.

Enjoyed it.

rainforest 3:45 PM  

Fine Tuesday. Nice theme progression: CLOUDS->GROUND->GUTTER. Pretty good fill, and I liked TWERK, clue and answer.

The only problem with ANO is the resulting "discussion" about whether the tilde should or needn't be there. How many times do commenters need to mention this. Probably best to not have it in a puzzle just so other commenters don't have to think about it.

Wierd that I got ODWALLA right off and I don't even know what it is. Power of advertising I guess. MADLIB?

leftcoaster 5:16 PM  

Oops, absentmindedly borrowed the HEAD in the sand from the one in the clouds.

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