Young hare / WED 4-22-20 / Greatest Snow on Earth sloganeer / Location where Italy's capital is said to have been founded / Location in New World until 1776 / Kind of order on Wall Street / Head of government between Eshkol Rabin

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Constructor: Jules Markey

Relative difficulty: Medium (4:44, sleepily)

THEME: PRIME REAL ESTATE (54A: Asset that's all about "location, location, location" ... with a hint to the starts of 21-, 26- and 49-Across) — places that start with a prime number:

Theme answers:
  • THREE MILE ISLAND (21A: Location of 1979 accident)
  • SEVEN HILLS OF ROME (26A: Location where Italy's capital is said to have been founded)
  • THIRTEEN COLONIES (49A: Location in the New World until 1776)
Word of the Day: Geico (52A: The "G" of Geico: Abbr.) —
The Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO /ˈɡk/) is an American auto insurance company with headquarters in Maryland. It is the second largest auto insurer in the United States, after State Farm. GEICO is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway that provides coverage for more than 24 million motor vehicles owned by more than 15 million policy holders as of 2017. GEICO writes private passenger automobile insurance in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The insurance agency sells policies through local agents, called GEICO Field Representatives, over the phone directly to the consumer via licensed insurance agents, and through their website. Its mascot is a gold dust day gecko with a Cockney accent, voiced by English actor Jake Wood from 2005 until his termination due to a pay dispute in 2015. GEICO is well known in popular culture for its advertising, having made numerous commercials intended to entertain viewers. (wikipedia)
• • •

Not sure I think much of these "locations"—a nuclear disaster site (thanks, I'm all set for apocalyptic scenarios right now), a place that's more famous because *another* place was founded there, and then a place that doesn't exist anymore. Wish this were a tighter and more solid collection of "location"s. But I do like that the revealer not only unites all the themers by the "prime" in its answer but by the "location, location, location" in its clue. That is, all the numbers are PRIME, yes, but the themers also act out the expression "location, location, location" (there are three locations, each of their clues starts with "Location"). So that's cute. Oh, look, yet another oversized grid. Huh. Interesting. You gotta find some use for those 16-letter phrases. Seems kinda unfair that they don't fit in regular grids. I wonder what kind of enormous 16-letter phrase stockpile someone's sitting on out there... the Strategic 16 Reserves. I'm sure there's all kinds of great stuff that's 16 letters long, though I don't think either SEVEN HILLS OF ROME or THIRTEEN COLONIES is particularly great. But they'll do. Just like this puzzle, they'll do.

The only thing I remember about this solve was the part where I got exceedingly stuck. The center of the mess was GOVT, which ... what??? I know Geico as the gecko insurance company and that is it. I have no other frame of reference. I assumed it was a private insurance company and that the name was just a name, like any dumb corporate name. I had *no* idea it was an acronym, and the way the NYT style guide works, with long acronyms written out with lower-case letters like that (i.e. Geico instead of GEICO), the clue made the acronym thing even harder to see (on its website and its wikipedia page, it's ALL CAPS). So I wrote in LOGO, thinking the actual "G" didn't stand for a word. What a horrible, bizarre clue for GOVT. Always horrible to clue an abbr. as an acronym part, so that one shortening ends up cluing yet another shortening. This is that thing I talk about a lot that you absolutely should Not do, which is get fancy and complicated with your Not-Good fill. Anyway, I had no idea it was common knowledge that "Geico" was an acronym. Without the "G" or "V," I was really hurting. Also *really* hurting because I had ACT- and wrote in ACTING at 42A: De facto (ACTUAL). That was a brutal mistake. ACTING plus mystery-Geico clue = total shutdown. Could not see SURGICAL at all. Still don't really get the clue on ATOM (43D: Little wonder?). Am I supposed to find the ATOM "wondrous"? Do I "wonder" what it is? Yeesh. And then LEVERET, hoo boy (44D: Young hare). Weirdly, I have seen that word and know what it is (from medieval literature, primarily, I think), but with the first letter wrong and no help from GOVT's "V," I was in the dark. This puzzle is probably actually Easy if not for this section (for me).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:22 AM  

The star of this puzzle is the theme, which (as Rex nicely points out) is clever and cute. It's not easy to come up with theme answers with matching numbers of letters, all starting with prime numbers, and all being well-known locations. Bravo on that, Jules! Bits of bite in a couple of places, for which I'm grateful, and a lovely diversion overall.

Prime number well-known non-location phrases, well, let me start the list: 7-UP, 101 DALMATIONS.

Mr. Markey is a mail carrier, and sir, thank you for your service during this tricky and perilous time!

Loren Muse Smith 6:30 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 6:32 AM  

I was thinking that it was going to be places with numbers. Period. So I was pleasantly surprised when the reveal had me go back and notice that the numbers are all prime! Hah! Rex – good catch on the “location, location, location” triple to match the number of locations in the grid.

We have a Five Forks area in Calhoun County. Actually, and I’m just guessing here, after the word “creek” in WV place names, “fork” just might be second. Maybe they’re related, like you can’t have a fork unless you have a creek – I dunno. Anyhoo, our school has two distinct populations: the Townies and the “Forkers.” The Forkers live on the West Fork and are fiercely proud of their country-ish lifestyle. It’s their kind of area that some movie producer would want to film during the opening credits to establish that it’s set in a stereotypical backwards place. A lot of my smartest and most delightful students have been Forkers, so don’t fall for the stereotype.

Rex – I know, right? Who knew that Geico was an acronym? I sure didn’t. But I have to disagree that it’s a “horrible, bizarre clue.” I can understand if your goal is speed, then, yeah – it’s a tough clue. My goal is just to spend my coffee time immersed in language, so I was happy to learn that Geico stands for GOVT Employees Insurance Company. Our fubar GOVT with its spectacular snafu. DUMB and DAFTer. (So my contribution to @Lewis's list is three ring circus.)

Favorite mondegreen is the one where the girl asked John Prine to sing his “happy enchilada” song. He was baffled until she clarified, You know – ‘it’s a happy enchilada and you think you’re gonna drown.’ Uh. Half an inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown. Oops.

SOISEE is a dook. Like some kind of nouvelle cuisine. I think I’ll do the LEVERET SOISÉE. Can I substitute the locally-foraged pinecone purée with the mildly chastised middle fingerling potatoes? That comes with the sweet-pepper curdled béchamel, right?

AINT – Oh how the kids crow that the word is in the dictionary and hence a “real word.” I don’t mind the word at all in spoken English, but I do have to remind them that they’ll be judged (harshly) for using it. I like that people look to the dictionary as some kind of language authority, when all it’s doing is its level best to scurry behind us speakers and document how we actually use language. According to the dictionary, infer can now mean imply, and the second pronunciation of nuclear is /noo * kyoo * lur/. Oh, and definition 1b of themselves in Merriam Webster is:

:himself or herself – used with an indefinite third person singular antecedent // nobody can call themselves oppressed.

Love it.

Jules – always a pleasure!

Joaquin 7:01 AM  

Despite the fact (or maybe "because") I am not a numbers guy, I thought the reveal was sensational. PRIME, indeed.

And as @LMS (6:32) said: "I like that people look to the dictionary as some kind of language authority, when all it’s doing is its level best to scurry behind us speakers and document how we actually use language." This has driven me nuts for years as I fight an uphill (and losing) battle to keep from reducing the English language to its lowest common denominator. My current least-favorite misused word is "unique". And how long will it be until "your" is a valid substitution for "you're"? Not too long, I fear.

kitshef 7:13 AM  

I figured Rex would pillory this with the “why these primes” plaint. In this case, he would have had a point (unlike most of his “why these xxxx”s).

Clue for 9D was cute in concept.

NW corner was unduly hard. Never heard the UTAH slogan, and I don’t think of BITE ME as being equal to “Buzz off”. Of course, I can’t picture any scenario when I would say either one. But “BITE ME” seems like the middle of a conversation, while “Buzz off” ends it.
And neither BABE nor PET feels equivalent to “Dearie”.

“In the language” phrases fall particularly flat when they are not actually in the language.

JJK 7:18 AM  

I agree with Rex that this was relatively easy (or Wednesday-appropriate) except for the NW, which I thought was just awful, I had trouble with every single clue. And may I say that I hate both the phrases ATEIT and BITEME - they’re stupid and disgusting, respectively. I’m probably showing my age and occasional prudishness, but I’ve always thought BITEME was in the class of swear words/phrases containing the f word and a few other “really bad” swears. It seems to me it doesn’t belong in the NYT crossword.

Anonymous 7:20 AM  

Bite Me? I'm the NYT, really? Yikes ...

pabloinnh 7:24 AM  

I was looking for some kind of Earth Day theme and when THREEMILEISLAND showed up I thought, well, that's hardly worth celebrating. Then I wanted GREENHILLSOF somewhere which turned out to be wrong but at least had GREEn in it. Finally gave up on any sort of date connection, sadly.

I liked learning the Geico trivia. Who knew?

LEVERET went in instantly. Starting to think I do too many crosswords.

My favorite mondegreen is still "..there's a bathroom on the right" from the CCR song.

Nice job, JM, in a couple of senses. Thanks for the fun. Let's all remember we've only got ONEWORLD, even if it's not a prime location right now.

Travis 7:30 AM  

When I thought things couldn’t get worse than the golf puzzle on Sunday. This was a slog. GOVT was about the only thing that came easily to me. 🤷🏻‍♂️

albatross shell 7:35 AM  

You're complaint about "unique" is less unique than you imagine.
Soiree, couldn't resist.

The puzzle is one I would rather forget. Not because of the puzzle, because of me. Stuff I knew easily but couldn't recall until I had several crosses. Wrong thoughts everywhere. Tipi and yErT before TENT. RATTLE before NETTLE. My brain was pickled in molasses, off on vacation. Took forever, Slo-mo slog. Went back, looked at the clues and answers. Looks completely simple and straight forward except for LEVERET. Ugh, me.

Hungry Mother 7:51 AM  

Sleepy here too this morning. I awoke at 2:30am so I could run a half marathon virtual race while it was still 66 degrees in Naples ere the sun rose. I was slower than average, but thought I was ripping through the grid. We lived down the valley from THREEMILEISLAND in 1979 and wouldn’t allow our kids to drink milk from the Harrisburg dairies during the crisis. We have lived in four of the THIRTEENCOLONIES.

Suzie Q 7:56 AM  

My local NBC channel runs syndicated Jeopardy! reruns and by chance just yesterday had a Geico ad that looks like a Jeopardy! question.
The question/answer was the G stands for government! That was news to me and I can't believe it was in this puzzle.
We just had the coffee discussion but I still couldn't remember if it was vente or venti.
Loved the steep clue for tea shop.
Mondegreen is a great word.
Three Mile Island crossing The End was a little grim.
The NW was too crude with Ate It and Bite Me.
Overall fun grid with a nicely done theme.

Joaquin 7:58 AM  

@ albatross shell - Thanks for the fingernails on the blackboard!

George 8:02 AM  

Gee Rex, just because you don't know something doesn't mean you have to rake the puzzle over the coals. I thought this was a nice puzzle. Grooved on the prime numbers early on, cluing was appropriate for a Wed and I got a kick out of THREEMILEISLAND which I got immediately off the 1979 part of the clue. By the way, THREEMILEISLAND wasn't much of a disaster since no one was injured or hurt, more of an expensive incident really. The average exposure to the few million people in the surrounding area was 1.2 mrem, which is negligible, about the same as you would have received from a dental X-ray in 1979 had you been wearing a lead apron.

Frantic Sloth 8:04 AM  

Forthcoming nits aside, I had fun and thought the theme was fresh and tight with a legitimate "ah!" (if not "aha!") moment at the revealer.

Nit Area ahead...

I don't get how "Buzz off!" = BITEME. Beat it, scram, shoo, drag yer nose, etc. - Yes.

CORALRED. Two colors as defined by yet another color. Yeah. It's a thing, but it's annoying.

Ah, the good ol' mondegreen - best friend to drunken belters in bars everywhere who sing there's a bathroom on the right to those looking to relieve themselves.

Also, dopey kids. True story: I used to thinkThe Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Mr. Bojangles had a dog named "Yuppin'":

The dog, Yuppin', died.
Yuppin' died.

Somewhere in the darkest recesses of my brain I knew about the GEICO acronym thing, because if there is anything that is of absolutely no use to anybody to know, you can bet your "vivacity" I'm gonna know it.

@Nancy from yesterday - I completely agree with your Bob Ross (art-wise) assessment, but I'll enthusiastically sing his praises as a cure for insomnia. As for creating anything even remotely recognizable on an Etch-A-Sketch, I'd have better luck dipping my earlobe in an inkwell and drawing on burlap. And just that entire process! It's a little known fact that pre-Geneva Convention POWs we're forced to do quality control on the little white-knobbed, red box bastards until torture was finally outlawed.

Off to read Rex, et. al.

Diver 8:06 AM  

Those are the 3rd, 5th and 7th primes. All ordinal primes themselves.

George 8:07 AM  

Speaking of the wondrous ATOM, in Brussels there is a giant steel model of an ATOM, called the ATOMium, that you can go up into. Built in 1958, it is a wonderfully kitchy modernist tribute to the exciting future of ATOMic energy. Haven't been there in 40 years, but I loved it back then as a teenager.

David Stehle 8:09 AM  


SouthsideJohnny 8:11 AM  

Quite a few of the clues are “stretches” today - CORAL RED isn’t “Orangish”, it’s Reddish. BITE ME is borderline crude/vulgar. DAFT from BATS - ok, one can make a case for it. Not all I.R.S. workers are CPAs - there should be a “some” or “e.g.” in the clue (why have conventions regarding clueing if they are optional?). BABE and PET also seem like square pegs in round holes. Nothing terrible, it just seems choppy (like the editors are not very adept or cohesive).

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

I have a problem with 12/31 being "ratio." The misdirection as a date is cute but a ration should be 12:31 and misdirect as a time.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

NW was the last to fall here too.

File away for future reference, in case we get a flurry of insurance company acronyms:

AFLAC : American Family Life Assurance Company

CNA Financial : (originally) Continental National American Group

ING : Internationale Nederlanden Groep (International Netherlands Group)

PEMCO : Public Employees Mutual Insurance Company

TIAA-CREF : Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund

USAA: United Services Automobile Association

Aetna may look like an acronym, but it is the Latin spelling for Etna.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

I grew up in the Washington DC area, where it seemed everybody worked for Uncle Sam. And everybody was insured by GEICO. And everybody knew what it stood for. There was a building right at the intersection of Gallows Rd and Rt. 50 on the way into downtown DC with a huge GEICO sign along the top, in all caps. Don't know if it's still there. I know the intersection of Gallows Rd. and Rt. 50 AIN'T what it used to be.

GILL I. 8:18 AM  

Yow...what happened to my Wednesday hump? You start me with DUMB, BITE ME, ATE IT, A Three Mile Island clue, MELEE, POLITICO...Oh, wait.... What are you wearing, Jake? Love me some Gecko, though.
The ants are my friend, they're blowin in the wind. I'm already in a mood and we get to 10A and the home to The Bay of Pigs. WARNING: screed about to begin....feel free to skip...
My dad wasn't CIA nor was he particularly fond of JFK, he was, though, quietly involved. All of us were dancing the salsa and timba when Castro and his army entered Havana in January of 1959. The American backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista, had finally fled. Don't get me started on this despot and what he did to the poor in this beautiful island. We were elated that Castro was going to "save" all of us. The US was happy, the poor were happy, everyone breathed a sigh of relief....for a short while.
Castro and his young murderous minion, Che, soon showed their real colors....Massive shootings, round-ups, take-overs, imprisonments, fear and chaos ensued. Every single company was overtaken. I remember when the guerrilleros marched in and told my dad that he no longer owned his. All of his employees were Cubans but it didn't matter. They hauled out his sweet accountant, beat him to a pulp and later had him beheaded. They delivered his head to his wife and children. This was Che.
I could go on about the atrocities but I won't....I'll save it for another time.......
Anyway, we were able to leave around 1961. We didn't have much we could take with us. My dad had a good friend who was a pilot for Cubana Air and he flew us out along with our boxer, Voltan, some horse saddles and a suitcase each of clothing. My mom was already in Miami looking for a place to stay. Dad kept going back to Cuba and we never understood why. He said he had business to attend to....
It wasn't until years later that mom told me that he was involved in trying to smuggle arms into Cuba. He and his Cuban friends were trying everything they could to rid the island of Castro. Evidently he was almost caught but managed to get on another flight home - never to return again. I thought that was the most romantic thing I had ever heard....I wanted him to star in a movie.....
End of screed.
I love mondegreens....
"I don't know why we had a divorce: we'd roll and fall in brie."

Lewis 8:35 AM  

@gill -- Amazing post everyone should read. Thank you.
@loren -- "Middle fingerling potatoes" -- Double HAH!

Ernonymous 8:39 AM  

I've always known GEICO was an acronym, but I've spent my whole life thinking it stood for General Electric Insurance Company so that threw me. I put the abbreviation for General in which is GENR? I also had a boat load of trouble in that section.
In college I spent literally my last $7 to get on a bus to go to Harrisburg PA to protest nuclear power plants after 3 Mile Island. I was mad that I was born too late to be a hippie in the 60s and I wanted to go to a protest. I still have the button from that rally and also an Energia Nucleare No Grazie Button. Who remembers those? They were in every language, I had several.
I also hate the dictionary because it includes the incorrect definition of AGITA, which gives me so much agita you have no idea. I've been schooled that Shortz is right on his clue because " it's in the dictionary." Supposedly it tracks usage, or common usage, but I honestly think they look to some dumbass headline that one misinformed writer came up with, as proof of common usage.

Nancy 8:41 AM  

Clever idea for a theme and very well executed. I found the puzzle enjoyable -- and an interesting 1A that makes you search your brain always helps. I love that kind of clue and, since I couldn't come up with DUMB or much of anything else in the NW, I had to go elsewhere.

Funny I didn't think of DAFT. I've been watching the British TV series "Last Tango in Halifax" and was thinking just last night how often they say "DAFT" or "crackers" when we Yanks would say "nuts" or "crazy". (They seem to say them every other minute.) But being a true Yank, I did want NUTS there initially.

SURGICAL and EMTS are such sad, sad entries under our present circumstances.

Finally -- 4D seems both very weird and very unpleasant to me. A word to the wise: If you want me to "buzz off", that's exactly what you should say. If you say BITE ME and I have no idea what on earth you're talking about, I won't be held responsible for what I might do :)

Joaquin 8:42 AM  

@Anonymous (8:15) - You neglected to list the insurance giant that handles all my insurance needs: CFI Care.

webwinger 8:45 AM  

Found this solve about average for Wednesday. Theme was just OK. I’ve always assumed Geico was an acronym—what other kind of word ends in “co”?—but was surprised about the GOVT involvement.

Favorite thing today was learning mondegreen from the clue for 30D. How could I not have known about this? Given my always problematic and now just plain inadequate hearing, my brain is full of them. One that came quickly to mind: “Little David was small but alive”, instead of “but oh my”, from It AIN’T Necessarily So in Porgy and Bess. (Saw the recent Met production at Lincoln Center in February, on my last trip to NYC before all this happened. A wonderful show and now a bittersweet memory. BTW, my 3-word argument against nearly all cries of “cultural appropriation” is Porgy and Bess—the essence of CA, but the world is so much better in so many ways because it happened!)

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

Never mind GEICO--a puzzle is supposed to be a break from our dull lives, and I don't want government in my puzzle any more than I want the government in my life. How about great band "____ Mule" That I could have lived with. Or, "a necessary evil according to Locke, but not libertarians." that would have been good to. Pity that 26 was sad at rather than nobody, and, oh by the way, Rabin was prime minister, not the head of govt. Here's that word again.

Petsounds 8:48 AM  

Since several of my comments over the past week haven't seen the light of day here, I'm testing before opining. This is a test. This is only a test.

kitshef 8:57 AM  

@Diver - they are the 2nd, 4th, and 6th primes. But even if you consider 1 to be prime (which it AINT), then why the 3rd, 5th and 7th, rather than, say, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd or 1st, 3rd and 5th?

Yosemite Sam 9:06 AM  

Before you take away my guns please read @ GILL I.'s comment and remember what her father nearly died for. That drama could easily replay here.

Preferred Customer 9:07 AM  


I hope the dictionary will change that to themself. "Nobody [singular] can call themself [kind of singular, maybe pluringular?] oppressed."

Looks horrible, sounds correct to me.

That's what I would say.

If I had to write it I would resort to "one cannot call oneself oppressed."

Stay singular everyone,

Petsounds 9:11 AM  

Forget the puzzle--which was easy to do, given that it was not memorable in any way. I want to go to the streets, join the non-social-distancing MELEE, hold up a sign that says LIBERATE ENGLISH!, and act DAFT in support of @Loren Muse Smith's take on how dictionaries follow, rather than lead. I have no problem with the addition of new words--or even words like AINT, but accepting simple mistakes as legitimate usages dilutes the ability of language to be precise or poetic or both.

The puzzle. I got all three locations first, and the fourth theme clue then came easily. No problems anywhere except in the NW corner, thanks to my misreading of "The Greatest Snow on Earth" as "The Greatest Show on Earth." So UTAH eluded me and even made no sense once I got it from the acrosses. Obviously, I should increase my screen resolution. Otherwise, a near-record for a Wednesday, but not much fun, except for TEASHOP and the mondegreen clue. Someone I knew many years ago heard the Marvin Gaye line in "Sexual Healing" as "Oh, baby, I can't wait for you to ovulate."

MR. Cheese 9:13 AM  

I knew GOVT but haven’t the foggiest idea why.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

@Anon. 8:45

In Israel, the prime minister is head of government. The president is head of state.

Frantic Sloth 9:17 AM  

@GILL I 818am - Screed schmeed. Your first-person account of that pivotal time is illuminating and heartbreaking. Thank goodness your family was able to escape. Your father sounds like a deeply principled and very brave man. Thank you for sharing something so intensely personal.

Loving some of these mondegreens!

@pabloinnh 724am Great minds! BTW, I, too, am a fan of Spelling Bee. Do you also do Letter Boxed?

@GILL I "The ants are my friend..." cracked me up, but can you please enlighten music-stupid me on "I don't know why we had a divorce: we'd roll and fall in brie."? (It'll probably be a forehead-slapper, but fortunately I'm well-calloused there.)

Teedmn 9:18 AM  

That SW section with LEVERET, SURGICAL, and GOVT and ATOM as clued made this tough for a Wednesday. Like many here, I had no idea that Geico was an acronym. Once I got ETRADE, I tried to fit CAPT (for capitalized, ugh, I know) there. It made LEpERET look fine. But once I got SURGICAL, I had to look again.

I see that Rex had most of the same problems as I did (except for CAPT). ATOM = "Little wonder?" I spent a lot of time repeating the word "wonder" post-solve, trying to figure out if there was an alternative pronunciation a la number and flower and tower that would make 43D's clue sensical, but it appears there is no explaining that clue.

I'm with @pabloinnh in thinking this was going to be a really depressing Earth Day "tribute" after seeing THREE MILE ISLAND, perhaps due to watching some of Google's tribute to the bee before I solved.

I liked the theme and some of the BITE in the cluing. 1A was nice, and hard to see given that I misread the "snow" in 2D's clue as the obvious "show". And I'm still trying to figure out what kind of symmetry the grid has. Interesting looking.

Jules Markey, nice Wednesday, thanks.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Kinda liked it. If Jules is a woman B+. If Jules is a man C.

JVal 9:28 AM  

@Diver — I’m with @kitshef. 1 is not a prime number. 2 is the lowest (first) prime number. Thus, 3 is the 2nd, 7 is the 4th, and 13 is the 6th.

Nancy 9:31 AM  

@GILL (8:18)-- What an awful, incredible, heroic and inspiring story. Not a screed at all, but a slice of history from someone who experienced it firsthand. Everyone should read it.

So, with all my prodigious knowledge of and writing of LYRICs, I have never in my life heard of a "mondegreen". (Google is not accepting, btw.) And, people, you didn't help me out here a bit. You all cited the misheard lyric without letting me know what it was supposed to be. I couldn't figure it out in a single case.

I found out, 60 years after the fact, that I had had a childhood mishearing of a lyric. I was probably 6 or 7 when I first heard "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun" from "Annie Get Your Gun". I heard the lyric thusly:

If I shot a rabbit,
Some furry little rabbit
For a coat that would warm someone..."

I sang it that way for the next 60 years in blissful ignorance. But the actual lyric is:

If I shot a rabbit,
Some furrier would grab it
For a coat that would warm someone..."

I suppose at that very young age, I had no idea what a furrier was.

Granny Smith 9:32 AM  

Just want to say thank you, @gill. So many people like to romanticize what they've never experienced. Everyone should read this.
And, I did like this puzzle a lot.

b-t-trips 9:34 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Rug Crazy 9:36 AM  

Government Employee Insurance COmpany.
I liked this as much as I disliked yesterday's puzzle. Very Clever.

TJS 9:37 AM  

Well, I thought this was one of our better Wednesdays in quite a while. Lots of areas where I had to stop, think about possibilities, and decide to move on and return to the scene of the crime later in the solve. How Rex can have so many unknown areas and finish in "4:44" is a mystery to me.

I agree that the cluing is questionable in many areas. "dearie" = "babe" ? Clues for "nettle" and "soisee" ? Buzz off= Bite me.?

Never heard of "mondegreen". Cool. Should be an interesting one to research.

Stay safe, y'all.

TJS 9:43 AM  

Oh, by the way, on one of our road trips, my mother-in-law joined the Beach Boys on the radio singing "Happy farmer, hap happy farmer". Go figure.

KnittyContessa 9:53 AM  

@GILL I. Thank you for sharing. How terrifying. Thank God you were all able to get out safely. What a strong heroic man your father was.

@Nancy Last Tango in Halifax is one of my favorites! Wish they made more.

Never knew that GEICO was a acronym. Never knew leveret. Still finished in about 12 minutes so pretty good for a Wednesday. It is Wednesday, isn't it? I can't tell any more.

Jimi 9:58 AM  

‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy.

JC66 10:00 AM  


You outdid yourselves today.

Sir Hillary 10:08 AM  

Aw, come on, this puzzle had to have Twentynine Palms in it!

Companies with two well-known "spokespersons" are featured today. My verdict: the GEICO gecko is more iconic, but the ETRADE BABE(y) is way more funny.

Barbara S. 10:11 AM  

I couldn't much warm up to this puzzle and I too found the NW a bear (lumbering around on the snowy slopes of Utah, apparently).

I had no idea about Geico either. I found it amusing in the Wikipedia entry Rex posted that the spokesgecko was so precisely identified as a "gold dust day gecko," as if exact zoological classification was necessary in discussing an advertising avatar.

"BITE ME" is a phrase that I'll forever associate with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (She was often quite snarky with the demons she dispatched.)

35A DICEY "Touch-and-go." I use "touch-and-go" like this sometimes (does everybody?). "I don't have time to clean the kitchen thoroughly. I'll just give it a touch-and-go before I leave for work."

15D I didn't think "Apocalypse Now" was a paradoxical use of The Doors' "The End," even if it was played at the beginning. Think larger context.

Thanks to Sunday's puzzle (PISCES), I was ready at 19A "Sign of autumn" with LIBRA.

Mondegreen contribution:
Petula Clark's "Downtown": "Listen to the rhythm of the crackers in the city."
(Original: "Listen to the rhythm of the traffic in the city.")

Prime number phrase contribution:
23 skidoo
I think this is the name of a band (that I know nothing about) but also in the early 20th century it was a phrase that I believe meant "Buzz off" or something close.

Greg Charles 10:13 AM  

It’s possible you know "leveret" from medieval literature, but it was also in the NYT crossword just last month, and also the month before that. Weirdly, I couldn’t coax it out of the dusty attic that is my brain, but did find the original meaning of GEICO hiding there in a dark corner. Natick dodged.

Frantic Sloth 10:14 AM  

@Nancy 931am and whoever
There's a bathroom on the right should be There's a bad moon on the rise. from CCR's Bad Moon Rising.
The dog, Yuppin', died. Yuppin' died should be The dog up and died. He up and died. from NGDB's Mr. Bojangles.

Z 10:22 AM  

@TJS - Rex AIN’T that fast. The video quality isn’t that good on my iPad, but you’ll get the idea. For those who don’t know, Feyer is one of the top 5 (3?) fastest solvers.

That’s the Way the World Goes Round, since @LMS left us hanging.

@Joaquin - This has driven me nuts for years as I fight an uphill (and losing) battle to keep from reducing the English language to its lowest common denominator. I would, well actually, I argue that it is a slavish dedication to an arbitrary standard of “correctness” that reduces language to its lowest common denominator. Indeed, a certain writer you may have heard of was notorious for doing to language all kinds of annoying and novel things.

@Barbara S - “paradoxically” got the arched eyebrow here. “Pointedly” seems more accurate to me.

Birchbark 10:28 AM  

@LMS (6:32) re GOVT and "infer = imply" -- I too like the clue for GOVT and agree about dictionaries rushing to keep up with the vernacular word trends, sometimes to the point of shortening their shelf life. (If shelf life is still a "thing" outside the confines of my own library.)

But rightly or wrongly, "infer = imply" has had Webster's blessing for almost sixty years. A great opening scene in Rex Stout's "Gambit" (1962) has the corpulent detective Nero Wolfe tearing pages from Webster's Third International Dictionary and throwing them into a fireplace he otherwise never uses. He has lit the fire because the "subversive" dictionary "threatens the integrity of the English language." And he would rather do that than take on a new case. So when the phone rings, Wolfe asks the client:

"Do you use 'infer' and 'imply' interchangeably, Miss Blount?"
She did fine. She said simply, "No."
"This book says you may. Pfui. I prefer not to interrupt this auto-de-fé."

The prescriptive/descriptive problem for lexicographers, and Wolfe's reaction to it, is much older than Webster's Third. Samuel Johnson recognized it in the Preface to his 1755 Dictionary: "Those who have been persuaded to think well of my design, will require that it should fix our language, and put a stop to those alterations which time and chance have hitherto suffered to make in it without opposition. With this consequence I will confess that I flattered myself for a while; but now begin to fear that I have indulged expectation which neither reason nor experience can justify." (as quoted in Reddick, "The Making of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary 1746-1773" p. 46 (1990)).

The Geico "G" is a good clue for GOVT if for no other reason than that.

RooMonster 10:29 AM  

Hey All !
Posting before reading y'all...

Noticed grid was 16 wide right away today, so goodie for me.

Some of the clues didn't ring correct to me. Example: BITEME as Buzz off? Not the same to my ears. Bats for DAFT, too. Shouldn't it be Batty? Couple others I don't feel like going back to find!

Theme was good. Like some, thought it would just be numbers, but got Revealer PRIME, so got that aspect. Got a chuckle when Rex pointed out the "location x3" thing. Missed that.

SADAT's partner as Begin. Don't recall a Begin as a leader. Of course, I don't watch news, either, so there's that. I'm blissfully ignorant and love it! See also why I didn't know MEIR. Don't get me wrong, I'm not some DUMB schmuck, I just choose not to fill my head with stuff that doesn't matter a whit to me. Take that as you will. 😉

@Z late Yesterday
That Dan Feyer is amazing! And he uses capital letters! Like E, for instance. Imagine how much faster he'd be if he wrote e instead of E. (And a for A, for that matter.)

Two F's

Nancy 10:30 AM  

@Frantic (10:14) -- So much funnier when you know the original! Thank you!

Newboy 10:30 AM  

Ohhh my! That clue for 2D was a killer today. Only looking over Mrs Newboy’s shoulder to see her paper version of the grid got me to see “snow” not “show” finally in all its misdirection beauty. So I certainly was DAFT and blind (though not DUMB....errrr, make that MUTE) in that NW corner.

Interesting how dictionaries have come to be seen as prescriptions for talkin gooder when in actuality they have always been as @LMS observed early mere descriptions of how real people speak. Thanks Mr Webster. Even the Bard couldn’t get his name correctly spelt much of the time and he coined many a phrase worth repeating.

Sorry to have THREE MILE ISLAND pop up on earth day’s 50th birthday 🎂 which should be a prime number though not a prime mathematically. Thanks for sharing this great grid Mr. Markey; may your route be sunny and bright with your mask firmly in place. Be well out there. Off to see above reactions. And then to Costco masked & gloved for senior shoppers hour.

pabloinnh 10:30 AM  

@GILL I-Yikes. You've shared some of this before, but the more you tell, the worse it gets. My one and only Spanish teacher in college got out of Cuba with his parents too, and took almost nothing with him. He said they smuggled some valuables-jewelry and such -in the spare tire of the car they got away with. Scary times. I didn't realize he could speak English until my parents showed up for Parents' Weekend. He's also the guy that sent me to Spain for my junior year, so I owe him big time.

@Frantic Sloth (love your nom de blog, BTW)-haven't tried Letter Boxed, I'll give it a whirl. Today's Spelling Bee seemed easier than usual to get to the Genius level, which is where I stop. My other favorite (and very popular) mondegreen is "Scuse me while I kiss this guy". Har, as we say around here.

John R 10:35 AM  

I liked the theme today. Some of the fill was tough for me though, especially the NW. Three Mile Island was the first answer I got and it reminded me of an old SNL sketch where a cola is spilled on a control panel.

Mondegreen reminded me of a Forrest Gump joke - you can google Forrest Gump in Heaven if you are interested. I won't include any more spoilers.

What? 10:44 AM  

Clever theme but a Monday. As soon as I got REALESTATE, ISLAND, and ROME, filled in the rest as fast as I could write.
Only minor nit. TEASHOP sells tea, not steeping, unless there are tea shops that steep for you and charge exorbitant prices.

OffTheGrid 10:45 AM  

I'm with Z and Joaquin on the language issue. I know you'd like to hear all my peeves but I'll use one example. Gift as a verb. WHY? It's GIVE! Gift just sounds stupid. Nothing is gained.

FYI- GEICO is a private company having nothing to do with the government.

Here's my mondegreen confession. Living in the midwest and never having heard of the Berkshires, I heard James Taylor sing, "Now the first of December was covered with snow
So was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston
The "BIRCHES" seemed dream-like on account of that frosting

xyz 10:47 AM  

PRIME, the true revealer was the only part of the themes not fill-in-the-blank, but somewhat clever.

LEVERET and ARIL are week-end words so I'll characterize this as a Tuesday with two Saturday words, still pretty quick. GOVT was easy-peasy write-in stuff.

LADY MONDEGREEN comes right up with a BING search, LYRIC from crosses but I was ASEA to understand it.

Enjoyable, if easy

From Wikipedia 10:50 AM  

American writer Sylvia Wright coined the term in 1954.

When I was a child, my mother used to read aloud to me from Percy's Reliques, and one of my favorite poems began, as I remember:

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl o' Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.
The correct fourth line is, "And laid him on the green". Wright explained the need for a new term:

"The point about what I shall hereafter call mondegreens, since no one else has thought up a word for them, is that they are better than the original."

Laurie 10:51 AM  

I’ve been looking for this comment. 😊

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

I know this is a minor nitpick and the clue wasn't difficult for me, but THE END also plays during the final scenes of Apocalypse Now. The clue made it seem like it was odd that this played in the opening scenes, but it actually bookends the movie.

Karl Grouch 11:04 AM  

Made the mistake to read all posts before writing mine.
After readind @lms and listening to @z's clip I'm too sad and angered to comment on the puzzle.
Here's to John Prine. One of the grestest.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

the thing about GEICO, side from the fact that standard American pronunciation makes it GEEKO, is that for the first 50 or so years, you actually had to be a Government Employee to get the insurance.

TJS 11:06 AM  

@Birchbark, always love a Nero Wolfe reference. I remember well the scene you described. I re-read the entire canon about every 5 years or so, and would do so now but my entire collection is in Wisconsin and I am in the D.R. Can't get into reading novels on the lap top, I need the actual feel of the book in my hands and a comfortable chair.
@Z, My first take on your speed-solving comment was "Wow, Z is calling Rex a liar!" I now see that the emphasis is on "that fast". LOL.

@GILL I, let me join the chorus in thanking you for sharing your story.

Richard 11:09 AM  

My personal favorite mondegreen by Johnny Rivers:

Secret Asian man, secret Asian man...
They've given you a number and taken 'way your name.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

GEICO should be fairly widely known. It's often in the news kwong to The Oracle of Omaha's huge stake on it.
I believe Bershire Hathaway controls 50% of its stock.
Using imply and infer interchangeably is one of the easiest ways to mark youtself as a moron.

clk 11:18 AM  

I enjoyed this one. How are SEVENHILLSOFROME no longer a place?

I was also surprised to learn the GOVT origin of GEICO, but learning these little tidbits is one of the joys of crossword puzzles. I despise the NYT style of writing it as Geico though. Just no.

Canon Chasuble 11:18 AM  

Mondegreen: what a great word, and now I know what to call two of the mondegreens from earliest childhood. First, in the carol Silent Night: a character called "Round John Virgin" and then the priest mumbling "We always pick out the moonbeams" which I later discovered was "qui tollis peccata mundi." Well, well, well.

Loren Muse Smith 11:22 AM  

@Gill I – Wow. I have no words. Thanks for writing that.

@Birchbark – Exactly!

@Frantic Sloth – totally agree on the clue for BITE ME.

@Joaquin - Consider the following:

A.Thanks! You’re the best!
B.Thanks! Your the best!

With regard to pure linguistic communication, A is not superior to B. It’s not more precise (Sorry, @Petsounds). It’s not more elegant. What it is, is more “educated.” So the “lowest common denominator” reads to me as “the least conventionally educated.” Some of the smartest people in my life have cheerfully and unapologetically used a form of English that would have Joe Pedant thinking they’re stupid.

@ OffTheGrid - I have to disagree on gift as a verb. I feel a ginormous difference between:

He gave her his jacket. (She was cold; it was on loan. Probably a romcom.)
He gifted her his jacket. (She gets to keep it; it’s a present.)

That we can take words from one part of speech and use them as other parts of speech is a good thing. (Not to mention the thousands of run-of-the-mill verbs we have now that started off as nouns: voice, intern, medal, author, chair, table.)

Preposition to verb: You should up the ante.
Interjection to verb: Let’s cheers Michelle on her best seller!
Adjective to verb: She busied herself with the task of separating out the red M&Ms.

English is wildly playwithable, and to insist that speakers not enjoy it, well, that’s a big ask.

ghthree 11:22 AM  

One of my favorite mondegreens from Bil Keane's cartoon Family Circus:
"And lead us not into Penn Station
But deliver us some email."

egsforbreakfast 11:24 AM  

Just heard from a boyhood friend yesterday, letting me know of a mutual pal who died. We got to talking and I reminded him that he was the source, at age 12, of my favorite mondegreen. “She’s got a chicken giraffe” instead of “She’s got a ticket to ride” Beatles 1965. I particularly like the fact that “she don’t care”.

Puzzle played easy-peasy for me, but I knew the Utah thing right off from having been through the Salt Lake City airport about 10,000 times. I also somehow knew the Geico thing.

Tom R 11:28 AM  

I found this puzzle very easy except for the NE corner. I was blocked until the very end. Why? Bad eyes. I REPEATEDLY read 2D as the "Greatest SHOW on Earth" and just could not get by that, and without Utah to help, could not see the crosses either. Dumb. Anybody else get hung up on that? [sigh]

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Anonymous 11:12 a.m: I work with a guy who says infer when he means imply a lot. He is one of the smartest people I know. Mathematical genius. He, like the rest of us, has gaps in his knowledge.

CaryinBoulder 11:34 AM  

Per @LMS: My years as an editor leave me with no option but to be annoyed at certain “common” usages. My pet peeve these days is interchanging “lead” for “led.” I see it most days that I read the newspaper, never mind Facebook.

Average Wednesday time, but that includes having to look for that final mistake of AnIL for ARIL. My wife the plant lady had never heard of this one, but then we don’t have many yew trees out West. Other bugaboos were ELise for ELENA. I must have know an Elise Kagen in elementary school, because I always mess this one up. Also NEedLE for NETTLE. Saw the trick and got the locations pretty easily but the revealer was made harder because Elise led me to CASE as an answer for “mobile home.” So with the letters I had I was looking for some kind of PRIMARY PRESENCE. Took a while to get that sorted.

Fave mondegreens: The one @Pablo gave was used by Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers, the honky took alter egos of the super bluegrass band, Hot Rize. They would do an ad for their (nonexistent) album, “Red Remembers the ‘60s.” Then Red (Tim O’Brien) would sing his version of “Purple Haze” with the “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy” lyric. My other is a bit more obscure. On the 1985 blues album, “Showdown,” Robert Cray, Johnny Copeland and Albert Collins did an old Hop Wilson tune, “My Baby’s Got a Black Cat Bone.” My wife always insisted it was “my baby’s got a black cap on.” I guess you had to be there.

Ethan Taliesin 11:40 AM  

Thought it was a fine puzzle. Very consistent in difficulty with the exception of the GOVT and LEVERET crossing. Interesting and broad.

I enjoyed today more than I usually do

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Using imply and infer interchangeably is one of the easiest ways to mark youtself as a moron.

that's a bit harsh for you to infer that.

Masked and Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Didn't know/remember LEVERET. hare

Only 4 choices for staff weeject pick, soooo … M&A pick = AND. It had OPEN ROAD in it.

The fun with Number Theory theme was just fine, by m&e. Like how "Location" started each themer clue. And PRIMEREALESTATE is somewhat apt, for Earth Day, I reckon. [Y'all have a happy one.]

AIN'T about has to be in the dictionary. If somethin like it is used a lot in speech/texts/TV ads/runtpuzs, that needs to be covered in a go-to reference book, so folks new to our lingo can figure out what's bein said/written. How else are they gonna have a prayer understandin anythin M&A writes?!?

My fave source for them song mondegreens: "Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen. Almost every word of it qualifies. They oughta maybe have a whole special section in the dictionary to explain each word of "Louie, Louie". Also, looks like someone needs to teach mondegreen to Otto Correct. Mondegreen *is* in the dictionary, at least.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Markey. Prime-o good job. Still swirlin TEASHOP around on the M&A palate, tho...

Masked & Anonymo3Us


CDilly52 11:46 AM  

The stars must have aligned in some odd fashion this morning because I had precisely the same trouble spots as OFL. Go figure. I disagree mightily, however with him on LEVERET.

I consider that entry stock crossword material with pretty high word value (to borrow from Scrabble). For me, the nearly ten years of my childhood spent sitting next to my Grandmother’s chair going through our daily NYTXW solving ritual were among the best educational experiences I had in my life. That’s saying something for this hyper-schooled, double graduate degree learning-geek. Gran was without a doubt one of the most curious and well-read individuals I have ever known. And through crosswords she introduced me to history, literature, language, and art and made me hungry to learn more. That woman could tell a story about a word in a way that would cement it into your personal lexicon. Leveret is among those words. So, perhaps I have a higher regard for that particular stumper than I ought but so be it. I do puzzles for enjoyment and to learn. Also, didn’t we just see the baby hare recently?

I applaud our constructor for the crunchy spots this morning, and particularly appreciated the tough (yet obvious, once I got the AHA) clue for SURGICAL. Best moment of the solve for me. Took a bit longer than the usual Wednesday but credit to the constructor for that! Thank you Mr. Makley- job well done.

Whatsername 12:00 PM  

Not cutesy or clever but just a rock solid Wednesday. A bit of 70s nostalgia with The Godfather, The Doors, and Three Mile Island. Interesting too that GEICO is the hot topic for discussion, since it was during the mid 70s that they first expanded their business from federal employees to the general public. As a retired Fed, I remember Geico from when I first hired on, so GOVT was a gimme for me. Of course that was in the days before the gecko and back when a Civil Service career was looked upon with respect and not disdain as it so often is nowadays.

Thank you Jules. This was a a real pleasure. @Lewis mentioned that besides being an ace puzzle maker, you are also a U.S. mail carrier and out there in harm’s way each day, so thanks to you for that as well. As a member of the at-risk group, I will be forever grateful for the dedication of all the delivery personnel like you who have made it so much easier for me to shelter in place.

My favorite mondegreen : “Sleep in heavenly peas.”

@Loren (6:32) It’s appalling to me that mispronunciations and malapropisms have not only become accepted usage but are also being added to dictionaries as being right and proper. Besides Nucular, Jewlary and Relator are two more that set my teeth on edge. And don’t get me started on supposably, irregardless, prolly, Ima, gonna, could of, and I “seen” in place of saw.

@GILL (8:18) I knew you had lived part of your life in Cuba but had no idea it was during an era of such horrendous violence. I well remember that chapter in history but your personal recounting makes it far more meaningful. Thank goodness you and your family were able to escape safely. Sounds as though there are a lot of people who owe your father a big debt of gratitude.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Best one yet!

Teedmn 12:20 PM  

My husband came up behind me while I was watching Dan Feyer's solve-fest (thanks, @Z). I pointed out what an time advantage a right-handed solver had, being able to see all of the clues and not needing to raise one's arm when solving the puzzle on paper. He suggested that I hone my upside-down reading skills and turn the paper that way so I would have the same access. A brilliant solution, if probably not helpful to my time. :-)

OffTheGrid 12:23 PM  

Sheldon knows. PLEASE WATCH THIS

Steve M 12:28 PM  

As a newbie to posting here but a long time fan and follower, I hope you’ll pardon this moment of clear ignorance. I’ve been doing the NYT crossword for years and have gotten to a point where an solve all 7 days now, and am working on my speed. Is the common way to do this via the old school pencil and paper? Even if I had every answer how can you input an entire puzzle in 4:44. That’s amazing. Is it like no hesitation, no spelling mistakes? Does the community recommend digital (tablet or mobile?) Is there a great resource for speed techniques? Sorry, again for the ignorance. I really love solving, and want to be a respectful part of the community.

Swagomatic 12:32 PM  

I liked it, I've been a Geico customer forever, so I knew that one, and leveret was fresh in my mind, so I was way below my my Wed. average (which is still Rex x3). I give it two pencils up.

Travelbum 12:38 PM  

Many years ago I thought that the Buckingham’s “Kind of a Drag” was a ginger ale commercial.

JC66 12:43 PM  

@Steve M

See the first link in @Z's 10:22 post to see someone really fast.

I think you're speed can improve with practice, but remember, not every major league baseball player hits 300.

Z 12:44 PM  

Just to be clear, GEICO was for GOV’T employees, not a part of the GOV’T. Right now the two ads I keep getting on YouTube are for Liberty Mutual and the EPOCH Times. I wonder what kind of data they have on me that makes either think I would ever give them a sou.

@TJS - Yeah, Rex is that fast, but he AIN’T all that fast.

Just re-upping from late last night that Sir Patrick Stewart is posting a Sonnet-A-Day. Also, a reminder that sonnets really are meant to be heard, not read. Or is it “red?”

The irony of infer being synonymous with imply is as old as the distinction does suggest its time to get off your high horse.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

back when a Civil Service career was looked upon with respect and not disdain as it so often is nowadays.


and a factoid not widely understood. most date the assault on 'labor' to Reagan firing PATCO workers, but actually started with Carter. I was their, working at CSC. We were all 'fired' and forced to 're-apply' for our positions. I, and everyone I knew, got 're-hired'. CSC was dissolved, replaced by OPM, and the denigration of Federal employment was well on its way. the major changed, which The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) has been exploiting, is that top level civil servants (GS-15 to GS-18, IIRC) can be canned for, essentially, corrupt reasons. if you watch Dr. Birx in recent days, you see the result of implied coercion from The Orange Sh!tgibbon and his operatives.

Pamela 12:47 PM  


Thank you, from Wikipedia, for the origin, and all the rest of you-so many of you- for the best laughs I’ve had in a long time!

@GILL- Thank you, too, for sharing. As has been said, not a screed at all, and very moving.

Also, @LMS, middle fingerling was the first chuckle of the day.

Teedmn 12:50 PM  

@M&A's reference to "Louie, Louie" reminded me of this Bloom County strip from 1988. I cut out the actual lyrics and I have had them in my wallet since 1988, just in case I needed them to, what, prove something? I've only needed them once.

I used to have trouble deciphering Elton John's lyrics. I stumbled upon a book of them and memorized the lyrics to "Bennie & the Jets". If you know the real lyrics, it makes this scene from "27 Dresses" hilarious.

I defy anyone to listen to this song and come up with the correct lyrics right away. I've been listening to this song for nearly 50 years and just read the lyrics today to find that I only understood perhaps one line per verse.

jae 12:50 PM  

Mostly easy-medium. Like many others I got hung up the NW where BITE ME and DUMB weren’t particularly obvious and I misread the clue for 2d (apparently I’m not alone on that one). Also, having pEAs before MEAT didn’t help. Clever and fun with some nice long downs, liked it a bunch.

Haven’t seen ARIL in a while, but VENTI and OKAPI linger in recent memory.

Arnie 12:51 PM  

Learned about the mondegreen from the great William Safire. Adopted it for use at golf. When I (rarely) hit a good iron from the fairway,it’s “Laid him on de green!”

kitshef 12:54 PM  

I am curious how the more prescriptive in our group feel about "forte", meaning something you are good at, being pronounced "fortay" instead of "fort".

Or "flaccid" as "flassid", instead of "flaksid".

Or Dr. Jekyll as "jekil" rather than "jeekil".

"Fort", "flaksid" and "jeekil" were once the only pronunciations listed. Now they are rarely heard.

Personally, all of the "modern" pronunciations grate on my ears, but I also know those battles were lost long ago.

Carola 12:55 PM  

This was one of the puzzles that leave me wondering, "How do they do it?" I thought this one was a marvel: the double meaning of prime, the three famous parcels of real estate, and the crowning wit of the tripled "location" -- and, of course, the demands of grid symmetry.

Many thanks to those who pointed me to the "mondegreen" clue - my LYRIC had filled itself in from crosses. I've been in stitches over the examples. My contribution: decades ago, one of my cousins understood a line from "Onward, Christian Soldiers" as "Christ the royal master leans against the phone" (from the days of on-the-kitchen-wall-mounted devices). "...leads against the foe."

Joe Dipinto 1:02 PM  

When the landlord's a woman
...You sleep out in the rain
If she says that's the way it ought to be

A mondegreen festival on Earth Day! Perfect timing.

This puzzle seemed old school to me. Lots of answers we've been seeing lots of. ORATE, VENTI, ELENA... CORAL is just coral, don't be attachin' no red on there. DEAD MEAT would have been a fun answer for the "Godfather" clue.

Keep goin'
To the post office
Don't stop 'til you get enough

One of my pet peeves is on display today: the clue that has pointless extra information or cutesy nudge-nudging. To wit: 41a – why is it necessary to say "32-year-old"? Is that really going to help anyone? And 15d – "paradoxically"? Let the "paradox" reveal itself to the solver upon filling it in. Sheesh.

The ROSE clue is hilarious. It's like "If this answer is a wine it has an é. But if it doesn't have an é it's not a wine. You decide which it is, we don't care."

A present. For you.

albatross shell 1:02 PM  

"I just choose not to fill my head with stuff that doesn't matter a whit to me."

Was that some kinda joke?
I thought that was the definition of doing crosswords.

One from the Lovin Spoonful:
"We've taken sides in England
And we won't back down"

Anger not England.7

I actually got TEASHOP with just S and P. One of my few bright spots of the solve.
More typical: the G in Geico. Ha. 4 letters. For the first time I am getting this immediately. hard. ETRADE. But that G is not sofT.

BABE and PET both used like dearie, but more like dear. BABE the only one of the 3 I have ever used that way.

Thanks for the personal history. Such hope. Such tragedy. Such butchery.

Barbara S. 1:05 PM  

I was talking to a friend this morning who told me about her childhood mondegreen. In Sunday school she sang a hymn with the line

"The stern disciples drove them back and bade them depart."

But she always heard

"The sturdy cycles drove them back..."

Some have expressed skepticism about the TEASHOP clue. Don't forget that you can go into a TEASHOP and drink tea there, so you are in a sense paying a "steep price."

Z 1:13 PM  

@Steve M - I’m a piker (My personal best Monday time is a late week time for the real speed solvers) so take my advice with a grain of salt.
1. Digital and paper solving are very different. Being a touch typist with a real keyboard helps online. I think everyone is faster on line because you can type an answer while reading the next clue.
2. Learn your crosswordese
3. Which means doing lots of puzzles.
4. Don’t stay stuck - that is, if you don’t get something immediately work the crosses and if that doesn’t give you an answer be willing to keep plowing ahead somewhere else.
5. Doing easier puzzles helps. When I played around with getting my Monday time below 6:00 what seemed to help the most was doing the easier Newsday Monday puzzles. I’m a full minute faster on those puzzles and it feels like doing a Newsday warm-up helps with the NYTX.

Also, doing lots of puzzles means you start to recognize constructors. Each has a definite voice, so being familiar with a constructor can help you.

Finally, what @JC66 said. Watching that Dan Feyer video, he solves a lot like I do, just 3 to 5 times faster. I can imagine doing a Monday in 4:30. I cannot imagine ever doing it in 2:00.

Smith 1:15 PM  

@GILL I 8:18

Thank you for that family history. Very interesting.

old timer 1:16 PM  

Hands up for misreading show for snow. And somehow finding the NW so hard that I thought I would DNF. But I wanted THREE MILE ISLAND from the get-go. Hands up too, of course, for being delighted and charmed by our hillbilly schoolmarm, @LMS. And annoyed by OFL's petulance, which spoiled for me an otherwise excellent blog post.

I wondered when someone would come up with the origin story of Mondegreen. We long-time residents of Northern California know all about Mondegreens, thanks to long-time columnist Jon Carroll. They provided him with acres of material, and when he started, he needed acres -- five columns a week plus Sunday. Jon retired some time ago, and seldom writes for the public. His clipbook is still worth reading, once you have a library out of which you can check it.

Sam Adams 1:31 PM  

Thank you @ GILL.I for the very moving recount. No one has responded to @ Yosemite Sam but he is right. "They" want you to believe that "they" will protect you. But who will protect you from "them"?

tea73 1:32 PM  

Even though I had already recognized that the numbers were odd, I didn't think about them also being PRIME so I had PRIzE REAL ESTATE for way too long.

egsforbreakfast 1:46 PM  

LEMONDE + MONDEGREE = a mishearing of a fruit topping, or LEMONDEGREEN

AW 1:47 PM  

My favorite mondegreen (new word!):
Growing up in Peru, I went to a lot of birthday parties where the Americans sang "Happy Birthday to you" while the Peruvians sang "Sapo verde a ti" to the same tune. To their ears, "happy" sounded like sapo (frog) and "birthday" like "bersde" which they translated to verde (green). So Green Frogs, to you! My sisters and I still sing it to each other on our birthdays.

Whatsername 2:01 PM  

@SteveM (12:28) I’m no expert but just to answer your question, I’m of the old school and prefer pencil and paper. I’ve tried the app and usually use it on Mondays just for fun and practice. I’ll never set any speed records, but that’s fine because I thoroughly enjoy sitting down with my clipboard and a cup of coffee. I liken it to using an E-reader versus an actual book. Curling up in front of the fire with one just isn’t the same. Doesn’t give me the experience I’m looking for. Whatever you preference, glad you decided to join the conversation.

@Anon (12:45) I did not know that about the CSC/OPM transition, but I was at FAA for a while and heard many horror stories about the strike. And I agree completely re Dr. Birx, one can almost see the puppet strings.

jae 2:23 PM  

@GIL I - Thanks.

Joe Dipinto 2:26 PM  

For anyone new to mondegreens, you can find numerous lists of them online.

The worst is when professional singers actually get the words wrong (this will happen in cover versions). Two instances I can think of:

Jazz singer Annie Ross's lyrics to "Twisted" has the line

They all laughed at Al Graham Bell
They all laughed at Edison
And also at Einstein

Poor Joni Mitchell misheard, and sang, the first part as They all laughed at angry young men. It's even printed on the album sleeve.

And Joan Baez covering "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" sang

Till so much cavalry came
And tore up the tracks again

instead of

Till Stoneman's cavalry came
And tore up the tracks again

referring to Union General George Stoneman (Apparently she sings the correct lyric now.)

If you're gonna cover a song, contact the publisher for a lyric sheet, they'll be happy to oblige, especially if you are a name artist.

SeabeePete 2:44 PM  

Rex says,"Anyway, I had no idea it was common knowledge that "Geico" was an acronym." . . . so, because he had "no idea' of something that is apparently "common knowledge" (to at least 24 million folks insured by GEICO), it's the contructors' fault for making it difficult for him and get "*really* bogged down in that section on his way to a sub 5 minute solve. Way to foist your shortcomings on to someone else.

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

Rex used many words to tell us he did not know what GEICO was. Many, many of us just wrote GOVT in immediately.

GILL I. 3:15 PM  

Thanks, guys....I didn't mean to put a damper on being Earth Day and all. I'm glad that Mondegreens are taking center stage. They are tons of fun - especially when you are known to massacre the English language (which I tend to do)...
@Frantic....It's the opening line of "Wuthering Heights."...
"Out of the Wiley, windy moors, we'd roll and fall in green."
"I don't know why we had a divorce, we'd roll and fall in brie."

Kathy 3:15 PM  

I surprised myself and polished off this (easy for me) puzzle last night but I just now sat down to read the blog. So glad I waited all day because it has been both entertaining (mondegreens) and moving @GILL I and CDilly52. As the wind howls outside, this has been a most pleasant afternoon interlude.

Who knew that there is a term for the song lyric affliction I have in spades?! I tend to get really into melodies to the detriment of lyrics, and would wager that I don’t actually know the full lyrics to most of the songs I listen to and sing with abandon. (But I revel in every note of every chord!) I comprehended especially few of the words to “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads and just last week I heard it and decided to google the lyrics once and for all. What a revelation—I thought they were saying “and when you taste the wine”.

Joe Dipinto 3:25 PM  

@travelbum 12:38 – Good one! That's new to me, I'll have to remember it.

Also from 1967, this notorious menage a trois:

Life will be ecstasy
You and me and Leslie,

(Although it doesn't *really* sound like that's what he's saying)

@CaryinBoulder 11:34 – I have that "Showdown" album. I'll listen for the mondegreen.

Ernonymous 3:25 PM  

@anon 2:48 going by comments here and on Wordplay just as many, if not more, had no idea GEICO was an acronym, let alone the answer was GOVT.

Frantic Sloth 3:28 PM  

@pabloinnh 1030am I’m with you on trying to attain “genius” on SB. Once in a blue moon, I get there surprisingly quickly which is always shocking to me. More often, considerable effort is required - sometimes I get stuck only halfway and have to slog forever to reach my goal.
Letter Boxed is a star pupil in the Etch-A-Sketch college of cruel and unusual punishment, IMHOpancakes, and yet…I can’t resist; however, unlike SB I’m not beyond just giving up on the 2-word objective.
Thank you for the nom compliment. It’s nothing more than a description of both my personalities. :)
@From Wiki 1050am Beautiful! Thank you.
@Teedmn 1250pm Touche’. No can do!
@egsforbreakfast 1124am Bonus points for “she’s got a chicken giraffe.”
@egsforbreakfast 146pm Equal amount of demerits for saying fruit topping! ;)
@Joe Dipinto (throughout) Very interesting fun facts (though I feel a modicum of disappointment in Joan and Joni) – thanks for sharing. I see your avatar is the B61 bus. When we were living in PS, ours was the partial-route-sharing B67. Petit monde (pas vert).
@ GILL I. Thank you for elaborating. Definitely was not thinking literature!

Nancy 3:36 PM  

@From Wikipedia (10:50) -- Why on earth did you post anonymously? That's the most interesting Mondegreen comment by far on the blog today! Thanks you for it -- it explains everything.

@Kathy (3:15) -- "I really tend to get into melodies to the detriment of lyrics." Aw, Kathy, you do know you've cut me to the quick, don't you? :)

In case you've never heard this, Oscar Hammerstein's wife was at a party where someone said that Jerome Kern had written "Ol' Man River." She stepped in and said:

"No, he didn't. Jerome Kern wrote "Dah, dah, dum, dum.' My husband wrote 'Ol' Man River.'"

Frantic Sloth 3:45 PM  

Almost forgot! @KnittyContessa 953am and @Nancy – We’re desperately trying to milk the 3rd (and final available) season of Last Tango in Halifax for all it's worth. It seems there are actually 5 seasons (the 5th is currently airing on one of the BBC channels), but season 4 is unavailable for streaming – and has been since at least 2018 – anywhere. I found the “4th season” available for purchase on Google Play for $2.99 and got excited until I realized what they call a season is 2 episodes. :(

Z 3:49 PM  

@SeabeePete - 15 million folks.

Mondegreens are one thing. What about the mondegreen squared, like when your write vicious lyrics and people think it’s a love song. @teedmn - with all due respect to The Hollies, we all know what the “all” is that the woman had*.You don’t especially need all the lyrics to know what Allan Clarke is feeling. With the R.E.M. song everyone understands the words but lots of people misunderstand the song. Stipe actually thought it was too vicious to record, and then people play it at their wedding receptions.

*Gotta love the videos that show the lyrics for you.

Joe Dipinto 3:55 PM  

@Frantic Sloth – The B61 figures into "The Green Paint Mystery" so it seemed appropriate. But I could have used a pic of the B67. Or the B41 Flatbush bus. Not the B69 however.

So you lived in PS? I am in Prospect Heights.

Geezer 4:01 PM  

@Sam Adams.
There's a reason Yosemite Sam was ignored. He represents DAFT ideas.

RooMonster 4:33 PM  

@albatross shell 1:02
Har. Touché.

@Joe D 1:02
Mine is "Keep on going postal, don't stop til you get it all." Remember when all postal employees seemed to go crazy?

@Frantic Sloth -
Letter Boxed is silly, as in the puzzle that's in the NYT. You can come up with multiple answers, but their answers are always just two words. I find it frustrating. But Spelling Bee is fun! Yesterdays I only missed three words!

Loved all the Mondegreen-ies. "Excuse me while I kiss this guy" is my fave. There are a lot of songs out there where you have no clue of the lyrics. Long Cool Women-esque ones. Of course, can't think of any at the moment!

RooMonster Incomprehensible Guy

Aelurus 4:35 PM  

@Gill I 8:18 am – I agree with everyone about your post. Thank you.

Liked the theme a lot and got it pretty quickly except needed a few crosses for the start of 26A because I forgot how many hills there were.

Loved learning mondegreen (30D) and enjoyed the shared favorites. The one I remember is from the Rascals song Groovin’:
We’ll keep on spending sunny days this way
We’re gonna talk and laugh our time away
I feel it comin’ closer day by day
Life would be ecstasy, you and me and Leslie
[you and me endlessly]

Could only think of Florence for the city on the Arno, so needed crosses there too. Years ago our Italy trip in October was Venice, Florence, San Gimignano, Villa Guila near Fano on the Adriatic coast, San Marino (a separate, almost subATOMic mountaintop country nestled right inside Italy), and back to Venice. We drove. Friends thought we were crazy. They said the drivers were awful, and they were right, but we loved having a car. The semi trucks tended to be speed demons, okay, sure, like the cars, but the trucks had a habit of drifting into the left lane where the speedier cars hung out, even if there was a car already occupying that space. Once we observed a Ferrari move to the left lane to pass a truck and actually hang there for several long seconds, checking out the truck’s intentions, before flat-out going from 125 to 160 (kph) in 6 extremely short seconds to rocket past. In Florence, the hotel had a picture of the Leaning Tower of PISA (64A) so we were, in a way, able to get the iconic photo of an outstretched finger appearing to hold up the structure. It’s all in the perspective, right?

Spent a bit of time at 24A, potpie ingredient, where I had _ _ A T and mentally went through seven (PRIME NUMBER) veggies before I figured out chicken, so “meat.”

Fun start to the lovely birdsong morning.

I don’t always get to the blog every day but like to catch up. I appreciate learning so many things and the many laughs and am grateful for this “commentunity” (coined by @LMS). From my look back at Monday and a bit earlier:

@LMS – and the magnifying glass tends not to get lost, right? Because where else would you put it? Laughed out loud at your development of the “nuthatch” etymology and its use in a sentence.

@Z – laughed too at your definition of SCOL syndrome.

@Lewis – Always appreciate your list of favorite clues from the week before. My favorites there are TOUCH TYPE and ROE.

@Joe Dipinto from Sunday 2:34 pm by way of my seeing the Monday 11:24 am post from @Petsounds – I thank you too for the “Little pointer” explanation, which I didn’t get.

@JC66 also from Sunday – No, but I had a friend who lived in Stuyvesant Town for a while. Combined with its neighbor Peter Cooper Village it’s truly a complex.

Nancy 4:59 PM  

Aha! PS must equal Park Slope, yes? I had no idea where @Frantic Sloth lived and originally thought PS = Palm Springs :)

What's with Leslie grooving??? I have no idea what that's supposed to be. Will people PLEASE supply the original lyric -- PLEASE!!! This is all so frustrating @Joe, @Z and others.

Z 5:14 PM  

Groovin’ with lyrics. Endlessly.

Kathy 6:48 PM  

@Nancy, Oh, no, I must stop the bleeding! I hope you, our resident lyricist, will forgive me because I have a deep appreciation for lyrics. As I mull this over, it would be more accurate to say that my brain hears melody over lyrics when I’m listening to BAND music. I just let the melody and percussion wash over me. Now Sinatra, Streisand,’s all about the lyrics!

Wanderlust 7:07 PM  

My stepson’s T-shirt (which apparently I can’t post a picture of here) reads “your wrong!” Every time I see it, I want to scream - and then remember it’s intentionally goading me.

Joe Dipinto 7:58 PM  

@Nancy – I'll try to fill in some of the real lyrics.

TJS's "Happy farmer, Hap Happy farmer" is really:
"Help me Rhonda, help, help me Rhonda"
-The Beach Boys

"Scuse me while I kiss this guy" is really:
"Scuse me while I kiss the sky"
-Jimi Hendrix
This probably the most quoted mondegreen

Then you have the counterpoint:
"You see the sky,
The sky's in love with you" – in this case it's really "This guy"
-Herb Alpert

"When the landlord's a woman" is really:
"When a man loves a woman"
-- the rest of the song's lyrics actually work very well with the mondegreen
-Percy Sledge

"Kind of a Drag" (song title and lyric, by the Buckinghams)
Travelbum hears this as "Canada Dry", hence, ginger ale commercial

The Michael Jackson lyric that RooMonster and I hear as containing "postal" or "post office" is showing up on lyric sites as

"Keep on with the force don't stop
Don't stop 'til you get enough"

but that doesn't even seem to scan correctly. So I don't know what the hell he's saying. But then, Michael Jackson also sang "The chair is not my son" (really "the kid is not my son" but you could never convince anyone of that).

RooMonster 8:21 PM  

Ooh, ooh, got one...
Alainis Morisette's You Ought Know

The crossed-eyed bear that you gave to me -
The cross I bear that you gave to me


CDilly52 9:04 PM  

Had a ridiculously busy work day today (despite being at home) and I posted without reading anything exceltn@Rex. What fascinating takes in then”prime” theme. But I just had to drop in again after reading everything and say Thank you to @Gill for sharing that story. The Bay of Pigs was one of the world issues that made me aware of the world as a much larger place with many different people and an awful lot of suffering. My Grandmother and I followed the story daily. I became so grateful for her subscription to the NYT beyond the crossword and it became my major news source. I remember so vividly my Grandmother explaining to me how dangerous it is to assume that we as the US automatically know what is “good for” any other country or its people and that we should jut hope that the people of Cuba would be able to live their lives as they chose and that we might be of help if needed.

@Gil, thank you so very much for sharing that story.

Frantic Sloth 9:11 PM  

@Joe Dipinto 355pm Looks like we were on opposite sides of Flatbush, then. We were in PS (south end at 12th st and 7th ave) for about 22 years. Very strange neighborhood, but I won’t bore anyone with those tales. I always thought it would have been nice to live in Prospect Heights.
@Nancy 459pm Yes, Park Slope is correct. Unfortunately no longer there as I had to move back “home” in 2017 to be near aging parents. I really miss it most days, but it’s been lovely to reconnect with old friends, too. I see that @Z has already supplied the correct lyrics for Groovin’, so I’ll just add that whoever came up with “you and me and Leslie” being ecstasy was probably on Ecstasy.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Nancy 9:12 PM  

Thanks, Joe. Much appreciated.

I thought that one of the most quoted and well-known mondegreens was what someone referred to as "The Tornado Song" from "Annie Get Your Gun". When asked what tornado song, the answer was:

"Mighty Fences Are Down."

("My Defenses Are Down.")

Supposedly this was a lyric that Sondheim himself misheard for quite a long time.

Nancy 9:21 PM  

"...and Leslie" = "endlessly. Got it!!!

Joe Dipinto 9:49 PM  

@Frantic Sloth – I used to stop in at a coffee place down there called Naidre's once in awhile. My friends used to like to go to Fonda for the happy hour but I never checked it out. I mostly hung out at the Santa Fe Grill on 7th Ave & Lincoln Place.

Monty Boy 10:08 PM  

I like this one a lot - except for the NW. DNF. could not get it.

On mondegreen: If you like these, Listen to a lot of loud music, stand next to machinery and have a parent hard of hearing. Then get yourself a pair of hearing aids. My wife walked into my office and asked if I'd seen her Light Saber. I didn't know she was a Jedi Knight. I don't remember what she was after, but I heard Light Saber.

Frantic Sloth 11:51 PM  

@Joe Dipinto Naidre's was about 1/2 block from our apartment and was actually bought by some friends of mine several years after it opened. Never got to Fonda myself, but people raved about it. Santa Fe was North Slope and we rarely ventured that far unfortunately. Dang. Now I'm homesick again! ;)

spacecraft 10:03 AM  

Hand up for the misuse of "unique." I have ACTUALly heard people say the phrase "very unique!" Love all the musical malapropisms--or mondegreens (learn a new word every day!)--you guys have offered. The Hendrix one, I guess, is the most popular. For a long, long time I couldn't make out a LYRIC from Croce's "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown:"

He cast his eyes upon her, and the trouble soon began:
Leroy [unintelligible] with the wife of a jealous man!"

I finally, just this year, was able to make it out: Leroy learned a lesson 'bout messin' with the wife, etc. At last it made sense.

There was another one, in "I really want to see you tonight."

I'm not talkin' 'bout [unintelligible], finally scoped out to be "movin' in."

These weren't really the same thing, as I hadn't subbed a wrong phrase in there; I just wished I could HEAR the damn words.

Digression over. The puzzle was easy-peasy on my porch; didn't even last to the bottom of my coffee cup (you can keep your TEASHOP). GEICO was no sweat here; they started out insuring GOVT employees, duh. Pretty solid, straightforward theme, with the nice PRIME lagniappe thrown in, and good fill, including TESTS without any damn extra letters. Nothing to NETTLE the old spacecraft. ELLE MacPherson reprises as DOD. Birdie.

thefogman 12:42 PM  

I won’t dilly DALÍ. This one was like a cold PISA MEATless pizza AND a flat PABST. Not enough to PHIL me up. It AINT great but I ATEIT anyway,

rainforest 2:17 PM  

Short comment today.

Liked the puzzle; liked the theme and its revealer; liked the fill; liked the Geico thing.

Gotta go see a guy about a fence.

Diana, LIW 2:24 PM  

Sixteen tons, and whdda ya get?
A PRIME example of a number that isn't one.
But @Spacey - you know that every snowflake is unique, yes?

Diana, LIW

leftcoaster 5:06 PM  

Nicely done double-theme and revealer. Another good one in the M-W sequence this week.

Anwers taking some extra memory testing: LEVERET and OKAPI (finally sure that the K and the P should not be transposed.)

wcutler 3:06 AM  

I'm sure I learned the word mondegreen one year right here on this blog, from @LMS. Am I misremembering that?
Joe Dipinto 7:58 PM, thanks for the compiled list.

Burma Shave 8:29 AM  


ELENA’s lips were CORALRED,
AND how PHIL LEARNed to hate it.
“BITEME, BABE”, is what PHIL said,


rainforest 4:53 PM  

Well, heh heh, I started the puzzle with hope in my heart by plunking down ETTA, EBB, Blue, and of course Breaking bAD. Then obviously, progress was IMPEDED. So, I did what I rarely do; I went to the revealer and worked like the devil on it with as many crosses as I could get. Aha! RELOCATIONS. It took too long to work out what than meant, but when I did, the puzzle became, if not easy, at least do-able.

I don't know TEA LEONI, though I've heard the name; I'd hardly call a tube of lip gloss a WAND, but WAGNER convinced me. The cute mistake was either bOo boo, or OOPSIE, which of course it turned out to be. Anyway, the other three themers were pretty easy to work out, although INTHREED took a while to parse. A bit iffy, that one.

Nevertheless, I thought it was a clever theme with a perfect revealer, and overall the puzzle was of good quality. Liked it.

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