Banned supplement / THU 5-7-20 / French city that was objective for capture on D-Day / Argus-eyed / Seafood staple of New England / Advertising icon with horns / Diggory student at Hogwarts

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Constructor: Bruce Haight and Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (2/3 finished before I "got" a theme answer)

THEME: W/M spoonerisms — phrases where initial "W" and initial "M" sounds of words are switched, creating wacky phrases, clued wackily ("?"-style)

Theme answers:
  • "BUT MATE, THERE'S WAR" (18A: Australian's caution against entering a battlefield?) (original phrase: "But wait, there's more!")
  • MEN'S DAY WARNING (36A: "Just a reminder: the golf course is reserved for the guys tomorrow," e.g.?) (original phrase: Wednesday morning) (??)
  • "CARE TO WAKE A MAJOR?" (58A: "Would you mind getting that officer out of bed?") (original phrase: "Care to make a wager?")
Word of the Day: Betty HUTTON (3D: Actress Betty of old Hollywood) —
Betty Hutton (born Elizabeth June Thornburg; February 26, 1921 – March 12, 2007) was an American stage, film, and television actress, comedian, dancer, and singer. // In 1942, writer-director  Preston Sturges cast Betty as the dopey but endearing small-town girl who gives local troops a happy send-off and wakes up married and pregnant, but with no memory of who her husband is, except that a few "z's" were in his name. This film, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, was delayed by Hays Office objections and Sturges' prolific output and was finally released early in 1944.
The film made Hutton a major star; Sturges was nominated for a Best Writing Oscar, the film was named to the National Film Board's Top Ten films for the year, and the National Board of Review nominated the film for Best Picture of 1944, and awarded Betty Hutton the award for Best Acting for her performance. The New York Times named it as one of the 10 Best Films of 1942–1944. [...] 
Hutton's next screen triumph came in Annie Get Your Gun (1950) for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which hired her to replace an exhausted Judy Garland in the role of Annie Oakley. The film, with the leading role retooled for Hutton, was a smash hit, with the biggest critical praise going to Hutton. (wikipedia)
• • •

Cronyism? I can't really explain how else this thing gets published. I enjoy a good spoonerism, so as a thing you might do in your puzzle, I am in no way inherently opposed to the ploy. But ... there's virtually no concept here. You're spoonerizing? To what end? Why M/W? Is this some kind of weird, veiled gender commentary? M/W, Men/Women? The whole concept needs an explanation and Does Not Have One. What the hell is "Wednesday Morning"? How is that—How Is That—an acceptable base phrase. Is that the name of some lesser Betty HUTTON movie? Did she co-star with Victor Mature in "Wednesday Morning"? I love (Love) that the dead center of this puzzle is an exclusionary golf course clue. That is ... very, very on the nose. Emblematic. Fitting. This puzzle never should've seen the light of day. They moved the Thursday to Wednesday to make room for ... this? Wow. Editing!

The fill is crusty and stale all over. The clue on AVE is a crime—that's a common abbr. and you make it a Sp. bird??? (6D: Bird: Sp.) Yeesh. Own your mediocre fill! You can clue "avenue" in all kinds of ways. Or just go with ["___ Maria"] and be done with it. ETERNE, ugh. Also, ETNA AMIE POR CAEN HEEP ETTU TTOP APR ... ACH! ... YIPE! Etc. My great joy this morning was, after finishing this puzzle, heading to Twitter to see the #NYTXW hashtag lit up with "hell no" sentiment. I am not afraid to take an unpopular stance (my feelings are my feelings and I don't fake them for anyone) but it's nice, when you're so put off by a puzzle, to know that you weren't alone. Again, I am a spoonerism fan. But you gotta give me a reason to care. And you gotta give me a grid more polished than this.

I had real trouble getting started in the NW, which is full of things I normally love (old movies! baseball! 17th-century literature), but clued in ways that made none of it very gettable or fun. Don't really know HUTTON despite being Literally Immersed in movies from the '30s to the '60s since the Quarantine started. Not as much of a musical fan, I guess. Hate the clue for ATBATS because it doesn't even try to be specific (1D: Baseball statistic). Didn't really see the "?" on the end of the Friday clue so CRUSOE (which I teach regularly) never occurred to me (2D: One who might say "Thank God it's Friday"?). I think the quotation mark at the end of that clue somehow blinded me to the "?" that followed. Or maybe I mentally put the "?" inside the quotation marks? Not sure. Anyway, had to move far away to get started. Didn't really get a grip until ELSIE / ETTU (olden fill is good for something, I guess). Then went all the way down the grid into the SW before getting that first (in this case, the last) themer. I needed every single cross. Then I had to say it out loud to see the trick. Sigh. That NW was the place I finished up, and was the hardest part of the puzzle by far. I guess the theme helped me get it. MATE ... WAR ... wait more. Anyway, corny doesn't begin to describe it. But worse, it's arbitrary and pointless. If you turn an "M" upside-down, it's a "W" ... is that it? Who knows? (or cares?)

I CAN'T say any more about this one. Or, I won't. I've had enough. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. someone suggested that the black-square configurations are supposed to represent "M"s and/or "W"s. LOL. I think that actually makes this puzzle worse. Talk about misguided. Maybe put more effort into delivering an enjoyable puzzle and less into self-indulgent frippery that most people are never gonna see without "Puzzle Notes"; awful.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:18 AM  

Ok. I may be the one person on the planet who smelled a rat before I even printed out the puzzle. My routine is to start my coffee and then go to XWord Info to click on the Across lite version to print out. So I always see the picture of the constructor. Peter and Bruce had changed their regular pictures to show that each was wearing a college jersey – Bruce with a W and Pete with an M. As a creepy stalker wanna-be constructor, I have been known to study the constructors’ pictures, longing to join this esteemed group, not with my one or two collaborations, but with a bajillion sparkling solo publications. I’ve all but given up, and I tell myself it’s just ‘cause I’m female. JUST KIDDING. Anyhoo, only a creepy picture stalker would notice their picture changes. So I says to myself, Hmm. Bet there’s something up with the W and the M.

Regardless, it took a minute to understand how each spoonerism worked. I had Betty “Huston” forever, and I couldn’t figure out BUS MATE, THERE’S WAR. Oops. And even after I sorted that out, it took a bit for MENS DAY WARNING to come clear. I enjoyed the conceit slowly materializing into the triumphant aha moment. Sometimes I question my positive reaction to a puzzle that Rex excoriates, but in the end I have to be honest about my feelings. They’re my feelings and I don't fake them for anyone.

I could have thought about the M/W forever and never inferred some kind of man/woman deal. But I’m not primed to be Argus-eyed for veiled sexism.

I appreciated EMITTING/TOOT. And vaguely wondered what the side effects of EPHEDRA are.

Had a dumb “axeloop” before TOE LOOP. I sat staring off wondering about that shared L. Sheesh.

Loved GET NASTY. Wanna GET NASTY in the war to prevent verbs from being used as nouns? Take a verb and its auxiliary to make a compound noun. MUST-HAVE. This is my MUST-HAVE. I use it pretty much every day.. My might-oughta-have is an instant pot.

BAD PR – in a few days go from demagogue to has-been. If only.

Bruce, Pete – fun puzzle. Hard to think of other W/M spoonerisms. Lye me, Ward (June Cleaver ups her freak number.) Moe is we (All of us are sporting unfortunate hairstyles right now.)

Lewis 6:38 AM  

@lms -- Love your avatar and "Moe is we" with its parenthetical explanation.

Oh, by the way, those black squiggles in the grid are supposed to be M's and W's.

Between three long answers that required many crosses, and a trove of vague cluing, I got my brainwork fix. And between BUT MATE THERE'S WAR and CARE TO WAKE A MAJOR I got my wordplay pleasure fix. These two fixes were strong enough to counter any nits that might flit my way. Thank you, gentemen, I left this puzzle happy and satisfied!

David Sinclair 6:43 AM  


amyyanni 6:49 AM  

[What's wrong about including the unctuous Uriah Heep in a puzzle?] Overall, a little light for Thursday but not unpleasant. Lots to like in the long answers and smiled at the CRUSOE clue. 8>)

George 6:50 AM  

Well, the only highlight was laughing at BUTMATE... starting off the first themer. Not exactly sure that passes the NYT Sunday morning breakfast conversation test.

Anonymous 7:05 AM  

CAEN crossing CANA got me. Had the last three letters of each and then it was a guessing game for the "C."

Guessed right, but are these two common nouns common enough to cross like that?

kitshef 7:20 AM  

Has Will lost track of the days? Or is the M/W switch a clue that he’s shaking things up?

U.P.S. U.S.S. C.S.U. O.S.U. A.P.R. U.S.C.



Also, it’s Lady VOLunteerS. Need to indicated an abbreviation to go Lady VOLS.

Suzie Q 7:22 AM  

I thought the theme answers were funny and enjoyed trying to guess the phrases as I solved.
I struggled a bit at the geography in the center because I blanked on the water-to-wine place.
I liked thinking about flan (yum!) and Betty Hutton (funny lady).
I nearly laughed out loud at Rex's attempt to turn this theme into a gender issue. Some days reading Rex is a glimpse into an alien universe.

Hungry Mother 7:24 AM  

Super fast today, too fast to notice a theme. Not a PR but about half my average for a Thursday.

SouthsideJohnny 7:25 AM  

Just a complete snoozefest today - so, so boring. The theme entries stink, so they were not even worth struggling with. HUTTON and ASTIN refer to obscure nobodies. I guess Hogwarts is a Harry Potter thing, so some people will think it’s cool, CAEN crossing CANA helps up the obscurity factor - it’s just limp. It felt like taking a high school exam in a subject that you couldn’t care less about.

It was at least nice to see Yoko clued non pejoratively.

Lorelei Lee 7:40 AM  

There are three tools that I find indispensable for surviving in a world that has grown small and tight while at war with an infinitesimally tiny, invisible-to-the-naked-eye enemy, in a country led by a Circus Peanut in an impossibly large necktie. They are wit, crudeness, and absurdity.

This puzzle rings two of those three bells for big time fun. A little filth would've made a trifecta, but then offensive to some, so it's really all I could ask for in a puzzle right now.

To any myopic whose contribution to the day is a little jab from the medium that so perfectly arms the small, including the myopic in chief, all I can say now is, "But mate, there's war."

pabloinnh 7:47 AM  

I like spoonerisms, ergo, I liked this. Took me MENSDAYWARNING to see what was going on. I'm no movie freak, as OFL claims to be, but after GRABLE was obviously wrong the next Betty had to be HUTTON. Probably an age thing. Also read the Spanish bird clue and couldn't find enough spaces for pajaro, hence AVE. Could have clued POR as "___favor" and angered a few more solvers, I guess. Also, didn't pay attention to the M/W thing until I read the review. OFL seems fixated on deeper themes than I am. Why this? Why on this day? What does it all mean? I think it just means they work OK and it's a crossword, so thanks guys, I had fun.

As for yesterday's SB, GUAR and FUGU. See? These are not words, and if they "are", they shouldn't be. If you can't argue the fact, argue the concept.

QuasiMojo 7:49 AM  

I was sure the themer was going to be about WAR because of the WARs in the first two and especially after reading the ONO clue. But it was just a Wacky Meaningless spoonerism thing? ACH!

I could have had more fun reading Anthony Burgess's novel "M/W."

I must be a secret vegan or a glutton for punishment because I put in ROAST POI.

It galls me however when people say it's not fair to use old movie stars such as Betty HUTTON simply because they have never heard of them. Well I've never heard of countless people used in puzzles including Sean ASTIN and CEDRIC whoever. But it rarely stops me from filling in a puzzle. Besides Rex, et al, Betty Hutton was a big band singer before becoming a movie star. I'd think a jazz enthusiast would know her. She also had a hard luck end of career story that was well/covered in the media when she died in 2007.

I loved the clue for CRUSOE. If only the spoonerisms has been that clever.

Geezer 7:54 AM  

@SuzieQ. Here's what Rex wrote. "Why M/W? Is this some kind of weird, veiled gender commentary? M/W, Men/Women?" This is not an "attempt to turn this theme into a gender issue" You are way too eager to bash him.

OffTheGrid 8:03 AM  

In addition to the weaknesses pointed out by @Rex, there is a technical problem. After each letter swap you have new words that keep the sound but are "misspelled". For example WAR becomes MAR (more). Except for WAKE to MAKE. The theme is bad enough without this defect.

thfenn 8:12 AM  

I'm pretty sure that refusing to fake one's feelings, and feeling compelled to express them, is pretty much what's wrong with most of what's wrong these days, and basically inclines people to GETNASTY. In fact, I've got a lot of feelings I work pretty hard to mask, and routinely wish others (notably our president), would do the same. Struggled with this puzzle all the way through, didn't get what was going on until the very very end, couldn't even get started without looking up ASTIN and HUTTON. But it was a puzzle I had to work to solve, and a pleasant 35 minute start to the day. So, well, thanks for that.

webwinger 8:22 AM  

I give the theme high marks for wackiness, with MEN’S DAY WARNING definitely at the apex. Otherwise not a stellar Thursday.

@Rex: How can a fan of classic American cinema be unaware of Betty Hutton? (Her name was just completed by autocorrect!) Annie Get Your Gun is now perhaps the most neglected of the great musicals of the mid-twentieth century. Many terrific songs by Irving Berlin. My parents owned an LP recording of the Mary Martin / John Raitt Broadway revival, which I played endlessly as a lad.

puzzlehoarder 8:23 AM  

The editor pulled a switcheroo between Wednesday and Thursday this week. I think the WEDNESDAYMORNING in the middle of the puzzle gives it away. Maybe WS thought it was a way to up the dad joke nature of todays' puzzle by putting the rebus puzzle on Thursday and then running this one in it's its place.

While I don't care for lame humor what really struck me about this puzzle was how Wednesday level the fill was. My time was a bit above my Wednesday average but it is 16 wide.

Spoiler alert if you're still working on yesterdays' SB. It really galled me to see that GUAR was one of the two words I missed. How is that any less obscure than GAUR? GAUR was part of my "why don't they take this?" complaint list yesterday. FUGU was the other one I couldn't get. It would be a good way to dump Us in Scrabble and I just like learning obscure words anyway.

Speaking of the obscure , I'm surprised that people find CAEN crossing CANA to be unfair. CANA maybe but I think of CAEN as being up there with STLO for common WWII crosswordese.

QuasiMojo 8:28 AM  

Coffee Correction: Burgess wrote M/F not M/W. Thank you caffeine for helping me see my mistake, before getting roundly chastised for it.

mmorgan 8:30 AM  

Well, I liked it!

Lara 8:30 AM  

Best puzzle in along time IMO.

GILL I. 8:34 AM  

Aw, gee.... have we gotten so snooty that we don't laugh a bit at spoonerisms? I want to say don't wet the meaty things.
I saw both constructors and immediately thought i'd go into song: Ooh ee oh ah ah...ting tang Rex will throw a walla walla bing bang. I has nothing to do with the WM change. I just thought I'd throw that in.
I had fun. My only's pajaro....not AVE (Hi @pablo) and then thinking of sadness with EPHEDRA. I knew a lovely travel agent who was terribly obese who used this stuff. She lost over 150 lbs. Saved every penny she had to have the surgery required to get rid of her excess skin. I'll admit she looked gorgeous. Shortly after that she had a stroke that left her unable to talk....she was only 22.
On to happier thing. I'd love to WAKE A MAJOR. But then I'm thinking MAJOR what? TRUE LOVE maybe? Mine never gave me PEARSL for our 30th but we did go to Carmel.
Bruce, Peter, I thought this was fun. You had Frans HALS and "The merry Drinker"...what could go wrong?

Jack T 9:04 AM  

I enjoyed this one. I didn’t have trouble with AVE. Because of “avian” I figured the first two letters were AV, and that left what could only be an i or an e because — Spanish. I laughed at the spoonerisms. I must be old.

Nancy 9:10 AM  

Look, I enjoy a good FERN OF TRAYS as much as the next person, and this puzzle has some very nice ones. But taken as a whole, it's just much too easy for a Thursday. And then there's the short fill. OMG. All those school abbrevs. USC and CSU and OSU. Add to the mix VOLS and IONA -- not abbrevs, but schools. Then add USS and UPS and APR and POR -- not schools, but abbrevs. And finally ACH and ONO -- neither schools NOR abbrevs, but equally ugly. Does the cleverness of the theme justify such ghastly fill? LOT ON YOUR KNIFE.

Frantic Sloth 9:11 AM  

A revealer would have been nice.

Maybe some kind of punny joke having to do with why the Ms and Ws are switched. Can't for the life of me think of one, but that's one of the many many many reasons I can never construct a crossword puzzle.

I've seen Rex complain about this before and I'd also like to go on the record for hating the "look there for here and here for there" clues and answers.
Can I please not have to wander all over hell and tarnation to enter an answer??
And this one takes it a step beyond the pale with the cutesy "reverse the letters" gimmick.
What is this - daycare??

The fill was adequate-ish with the occasional narcolepsy-inducing crosswordese and at least one standout for gold-medal annoying:

It is YIKES or if you must have to "P", YIPES. There is not one YIPE or one YIKE - there are always two or more. Hell, the clue was "JeeperS", not "Jeeper". Even the clue knew it shouldn't be singular. Sheesh.

I did sort of enjoy figuring out the letter switcheroo while solving; however, once finished, the theme left me hangin'. It needed to be all wrapped up and tied with a revealer bow and....nothing. Theme crickets.

Where's my bow??

I want my bow!!

Norm 9:14 AM  

This was hilarious. Much fun.

James F 9:16 AM  

I’d just like to point out that the last TTOP car was made in 2002.

Z 9:23 AM  

I liked the spoonerisms, especially MEN’S DAY WARNING (sort of feels like NOW could make that into a shirt), and I like the cute M/W grid art, But oof on some of the fill and cluing. EPHEDRA (significant gastrointestinal, psychiatric, and autonomic side effects. - Wikipedia), got the arched eyebrow. Banned by who? Sports orgs ban all sorts of performance enhancing supplements, but this time we’re going with an FDA ban. Alrighty then. And what Rex said about the AT BAT clue. I get that sometimes difficulty can only be gotten through lack of specificity, but I don’t have to like it. Short fill didn’t bother me while solving. I see Rex’s point there, but the only one that really stood out to me during the solve was that CAEN wasn’t St. Lô. Thanks for that.

I also just learned that I need to be upset with my spouse. Last year was our 30th and I didn’t get any PEARLS. The very notion of “traditional anniversary gift” feels dated and more than a little like prostitution. “For 30 years of services rendered you get PEARLS. Ten more years and you get rubys.” Ugh. 31 is almost here and I’m giving a FitBit. Why? Because, you know, we talk and I listen well enough to get a hint as to what she might like.

@thefenn - I agree in general, but both Rex and @LMS have been accused of faking it. I could be wrong, but I think we are getting each person’s actual reaction, which is preferred when assessing the quality of something. But, yeah, a little more stoicism wouldn’t be a bad thing IRL.

@QuasiMojo - You know where I stand. PPP is generally suboptimal whether it’s 1950 movie stars or 1990’s literary characters or 1840’s literary characters or 1970’s rock bands (OMG - Uriah HEEP is still performing!?!?! Who knew?) I had only minimal trouble with HUTTON but would think that in 2020 she is far less crossworthy than CEDRIC Diggory.

@Albatross shell late yesterday - Identical triplets.

DavidP 9:34 AM  

Mediocre puzzle, but I don’t mind seeing Betty HUTTON. She was a bona fide star. Maybe it was originally clued as Timothy Hutton, until the sexual assault allegations came out last week and forced WS to clue it differently.

Also, according to Jeff Chen, there’s grid art: Ms and Ws made out of black squares. Never saw them myself.

RooMonster 9:42 AM  

Hey All !
Well, here we get a cranially ramped up puz for those who complain (*ahemRex*) that the NYT puzs are dull and not up to standard. Then they complain it was too obscure!

This puz killed me. It was too obscure for me. The ole brain don't bend that way. Apparently losing all those brain cells from being young and getting drunk has proven true.

Never got the theme, and probably never would've if this blog didn't exist. Switching M and W sounds? Twice in each themer? Yowza. If any puz needed a Revealer, this was it. Not sure what it could've been, but dang.

I did notice the 16 wide grid, so I have a few cells left. I didn't notice (I did, but not for this reason) what @Lewis pointed out about the squiggly black blocks being M's and W's. Um, sure.

Agree on the Natick CANA/CAEN. Oof. And having to be College Proficient today, OSU, CSU, USC, IONA. Whew!

Writeovers, HOse-HOES (is there a name for homonym writeovers?), IwoNT-ICANT, HUsTON-HUTTON, sts-RDS.

ONO once more clued musically threw me off. 😁

Automatically knew Rex would hate it once I saw Haights name. Today he might be qualified about it. Like I said, (did I?) didn't hate it, but was over my head. I have to say it, if these two weren't seasoned/oft published constructors, this would've been in the scrap heap.

One F
TTOP (does anyone under 30 know what they are?)

xyz 9:45 AM  

Extremely easy.

Wednesday wants its puzzle back. 1976 (T-TOP), too.

THE Ohio State University 9:50 AM  

Ugh. I don't like Bartok, but I'm sure he's pretty good. I don't like abstract art, but I'm sure some people do. I don't like Neil Diamond, but I understand the attraction. I don't like lobster, but people pay a lot of money to eat it at fancy restaurants.

I don't like Bruce Haight puzzles. Nothing personal, but I don't like them. They are consistently off-putting an the groans they provoke are not good ones. That's it.

OSU ("The Buckeyes of the Big Ten, in brief") is really kinda weirdly wrong. Ohio State University is really known (and ask any fan, they'll tell you) as THE Ohio State University...or tOSU "in brief." OSU is more Oklahoma State University "in brief." It may be a small nit, but it just shows how little they really know about Ohio State, the B1G and college football in general. Buckeye fan would probably agree that it's a small nit to pick, but it is an annoyance which is the sum of my problems with Haight's puzzles. They're an attempt at humor for the sake of humor itself...the try too hard, in other words.

"Ones playing things low-key" is another example of tortured "trying to be clever" cluing. BASSES (are these electric basses? Uprights? singers?) play in a low register. There is no such thing as a "low key" in music (unless you've transposed a piece of music from one key to a "lower key" for a singer who can't hit the high notes) much less something that is adjectively described as "low-key." And "things??" They play "THINGS??"

I rarely look at who constructed the puzzle before I start, but it was that clue that made me look because I suspected it was a Haight puzzle.

Mr. Haight, if you happen to read this, I'm sure your friends really like you and your family probably adores your wit. But damn, man...these puzzles, just because WS seems to like them, are objectively terrible.

albatross shell 9:52 AM  

How many ATBATS did Millie Ways have?

Davis, Grable, Hutton. 1 2 3.
CAEN CANA both miseries to me.
Thursday puzzle with a Good Friday clue.

Pluses: HEEP ALLINALL GETNASTY. The Ms and Ws in the grid.

The spoonerisms were better,IMO, than in Rex's opinion. I agree with much of what he says, just not his mostly total dismissal. Certainly not the puzzle of the week.

ELSIE DIET PLAN, no dairy?

TRUELOVE TOELOOP, new age engagement ring?


BESTBUD, primo weed?

Lady VOLS is the powerhouse. The team. Lady VOL is a single player.

Take care.

57strat 9:57 AM  

Years ago we had a friend who had graduated from Tennessee. We liked to ask him how his Voles were doing, just to hear him say loudly "IT'S VOLS, NOT VOLES, DAMMIT!" Worked every time.

I love spoonerisms, but this puzzle kicked my butt, resulting in my worst thurs time in months.

John R 9:57 AM  

I automatically typed in STEROID for banned supplement, which really slowed me down in the NE corner. ELSIE helped me clean up the mess.

After all the comments here, I tried SB yesterday for the first time. From the many posts, I knew that I should continue after the Genius pop-up. I never got to the QB though. I was blocked by two four letter words. One was a simple word that I really should have filled in quickly. The other was new to me, so I would never have gotten to QB anyway. It is in my scrabble dictionary, so I'll keep it in mind - it might come in handy some day (like all the stuff I should be cleaning out of my garage and basement).

bauskern 9:57 AM  

I thought this one had teeth to it, but I agree that some sort of revealer clue might have been helpful. I thought the theme had something to do with WAR.
Re: the Twitter universe, it's where everyone goes to complain about something. SO I thought it only fitting that when Rex wanted to confirm his feelings for this puzzle, that he immediately headed to Twitter to find confirmation. Dude, just trust your gut! ! ! No need to hang with the haters.

mathgent 9:59 AM  

Two of my favorite constructors but no magic today. The Spoonerisms were just OK.

Since I don’t read Rex’s rubbish, I’m disappointed when the postings are more about his critique than about the puzzle, like today.

JUNGFRAU. Young wife, I suppose. I enjoy German names that come from jobs. There is a famous family here in San Francisco named Fleishacker. They were butchers, I guess. Flesh hackers. How many of The Alps have names? I can only think of Eiger and Mont Blanc.

I learned Argus-eyed for alert. Love it. Did he have a hundred eyes?

Ernonymous 10:01 AM  

I thought I knew Spanish. I'm not fluent but I know a good deal more than crossword Spanish. My stupidity was I saw One and Only and had LO_E and was sure that was LONE. I then had TRUE LONE and the bird was ANE. I thought true lone sucked, but there has been worse crap in these puzzles.

Joaquin 10:08 AM  

Knew that Rex would Haight this one from the get-go. I, OTOH, spiked the Loonerisms.

Kathy 10:11 AM  

TGIF! OK, it’s Thursday, it’s been that kind of week, but what a great clue!
A lot of trial and error in the NE then I finally got lucky. A plethora of unfamiliar answers.

I didn’t get the theme while solving, and since it looked lame, I just soldiered on knowing Rex and the commentariat would explain. And they did not disappoint! (I should have been alerted by BUT, MATE...). Now that I get it, I must admit that it’s clever if not dense. Overall the puzzle is drecky to me.

I had a Betty Hutton paper doll when I was very young. I used to try to conjure up an image of “Hollywood”. Is it a real place? Does Betty LIVE in Hollywood? What’s it like out there? Are there actual streets and houses and stores? Although I never had any aspirations toward stardom, something about California itself intrigued me even then. I later had a pen pal from Burbank; she sent me a sunshiny photo of her sitting by her POOL! I did realize my California dream a couple of decades later! And it did not disappoint!

@Frantic, I’m solidly with you on those pesky jumping bean clues.

Brian 10:12 AM  

Mayor of Yew Nork? — Bla de Bilsio

Brit Solves NYT 10:14 AM  

The spoonerisms felt very weak and arbitrary... some OK fill, some patchy. Not the best crossword by some margin - still, it's just a puzzle, hoping for better tomorrow.

Whatsername 10:16 AM  

This was a fun puzzle to solve although I agree a bit corny, but hey - sometimes corn is good - and the grid art is a very nice touch, I really have no complaints but I can’t for the life of me understand why it was run on a Thursday when “Wednesday morning“ is smack dab in the middle of it as a theme answer. Had it run yesterday there would’ve at least been some significance to the M’s and W’s. And especially since yesterday had a “Thursday” rebus. I can only conclude that either WS is as confused as the rest of us and doesn’t know what day it is or he’s trying to keep us on our toes by switching things up. For my part, not helping.

Yesterday was a red letter day for me because - tada - I got a haircut! My stylist and I wore face masks, and since mine was the type that fits behind the ears, I was able to keep it on the entire time. State reopening guidelines mandated the masks for both salon employees and customers as well as disinfecting the work area after each client. As I was leaving, I noticed two customers had taken off their masks and although I resisted the urge to GETNASTY about it, I was surprised at the intensity of my hostility toward them. As @Be Considerate said here yesterday, it felt like they were flipping a giant middle finger at the rest of us who were respectfully following the rules.

@thefenn (8:13) “Refusing to fake one's feelings, and feeling compelled to express them, is pretty much what's wrong with most of what's wrong these days.” I couldn’t agree more. For me, it’s not the refusing to fake the feelings but the insistence on expressing them. Everyone has thoughts/opinions but it’s not always necessary or appropriate to share them with others. Discretion is much appreciated, especially in these stressful times.

Sir Hillary 10:16 AM  

WELLOKEY, ALLINALL we MUSTHAVE known @Rex would GETNASTY about this one -- and indeed, he got HUNGUP and RAILED.

Thing is, he's right -- ICANT see enough here to warrant Thursday publication. The fill and cluing are fine, but the theme is merely weak (or wearily meek -- take your pick).

Thought first of Betty Grable, but G didn't seem right to end 1A, so I left that corner for last.

Not much else to say today.

Typo in a script typed by Mr. Disney? WALTMISKEY

TJS 10:26 AM  

This absolutely sucked on so many levels. Let's start off the puzzle with a German phrase. Fun! Putting in Grable for the Betty clue doomed my first pass at the NW, and by the time I worked my way back to it I just wanted this thing to be over. I usually complain about late week puzzles being too easy, but this one was just butt ugly.

I was hoping that the intriguing picture for "bleeding all over you" might somehow redeem the morning, but Good God ! Lasted 40 seconds listening to that annoying whine and still trying to get it out of my head. Heading for the roof, but not to jump. Be safe.

Joe Dipinto 10:31 AM  

Your expert witnesses' testimony is kind of hazy.

The thing with spoonerisms is that they can be breezily enjoyable in and of themselves, but when you shoehorn them into a puzzle and have to weigh them down with "clues", the amusement factor can drop considerably. That clue for MEN'S DAY WARNING is particularly tortured.

And you have quote clues for two of them but not for the third. Should have been consistent down the line.

I'm taking the TIP JAR with me. Bye, bye.

Barbara S. 10:37 AM  

I like spoonerisms and I thought this was a solid effort, although possibly lacking some heartiness in the guffaws. Amusing, but not knee-slapping.

I feel like I'm turning into a deranged purveyor of the arcane, but I think everyone should know how the peacock got eyes in its feathers. It's basic zoology. A guy called Argus (who, crucially, had 100 eyes -- hi, @mathgent, 9:59) was guarding a cow. Oh, but this wasn't just any cow: it was Io, Jupiter's latest conquest, who the god had turned into a heifer to hide her from Juno, his (justifiably) wrathful queen and wife. Juno was highly suspicious of said cow so set Argus to watch over her in case of possible godly incursions. Long story short, Jupiter sends Mercury to kill Argus in order to liberate Io, Mercury does so, and Juno decorates her sacred bird, the peacock, with Argus's eyes. Now you know.



pmdm 10:47 AM  

The PPP took me down. After completing about half the puzzle, there was no going further. Not a good experience. Not at all. My usual reaction to a Bruce puzzle. At least I have Andy's conference to amuse me. Not the the subject is amusing.

Richardf8 10:47 AM  

Ran the alphabet there myself. Fortunately it wasn’t a very long run.

Gentleman Farmer 10:53 AM  

I thought it was a clever, fun puzzle. Easy-medium. Time for Rex to let the missus fill in for a while while he gets back on his meds...way too much vitriol for an unassuming little Thursday play on words.

Newboy 10:59 AM  

Started at bottom & got 58A. Then worked up into NE corner to find what I thought to be the reveal at DOWN TURN where M becomes W. As a retired academic it’s great to see the shoutout to several institutions of note who get their moments of glory in Crossworld....wish they could have Pomp & C as it should be. Thought Rex’s ire entirely misplaced—someone needs to check his temperature? I’m 100% pleased by this tag team effort for Thursday; thanks Peter and Bruce . Off to read others & constructors commentary.

CaryinBoulder 11:08 AM  

This truly did play like a Wednesday for me — knocked 40% off my average Thursday. At least we got the rebuses yesterday. Nearly all my guesses turned out to be right, even another grating Harry Potter clue. CEDRIC was intuitable with the ___RIC in place, although I kept expecting something totally made up like, say, FENRIC. Figured the German starter word must be ACH and Betty HUTTON dropped right in from there. I was thinking that she was the movie store who was discovered working in a Five & Dime, but I guess not. Maybe somebody knows who I mean.

Not too many AT BATS on the horizon. MLB keeps throwing out possible scenarios to play this year, but all have some serious drawbacks. But that league in Taiwan is supposedly going to start letting fans in again.

I filled in the top themer first but couldn’t make any sense of it until I saw MENSDAY WARNING, which helped me get that officer out of bed. The toughest ones for me were ETERNE and, not being of the Jesoid persuasion, CANA, which came totally from crosses (no pun intended).

In the early ‘90s Baltimore Orioles’ pitcher Steve Bechler died from heat stroke after taking EPHEDRA, which had become popular with some athletes for its speed-like properties. A related chemical, pseudoephedrine, has been restricted (although not banned) by the FDA, which is why you can’t buy Sudafed right off the shelf anymore.

Crimson Devil 11:15 AM  

Took the Grable fork ab initio, then sailed; never noticed, sought, or cared re gimmick. Good to be reminded of classic character HEEP, and CRUSOE brought a smile.
No barber for me, am striving for Boris Johnson look.

Swagomatic 11:22 AM  

I'm not a fan of this puzzle. I started it late last night, and could not get started for about 5 minutes. I went to bed without finishing. I wound it up this morning, and finished in almost exactly my Thurs. average time. There was no joy in Mudville, though. It fell flat.

Barbara S. 11:30 AM  

@Quasi 7:49 Hear! Hear! (Your fourth paragraph) One of the things I love most about these puzzles is the richness of allusion. We get a window on everything from ancient civilizations to today's news. It's a chance to think and learn, and yes, sometimes remember. I love the eclectic mixture and where it leads the mind. So, constructors, if you're giving us PPP, then toss in Betty HUTTON *and* toss in Drake. I want it all.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

surprised by the number of people calling Sean Astin "obscure" or a "nobody". Yea I guess if you've never seen The Goonies, Rudy, or Lord of the Rings he might be a nobody to *you* and only you.

David 11:51 AM  

Yeah. No. Way too easy for a Thursday, which was lucky for me because I couldn't see the spoonerisms until I had gotten all but 1, 2, or 3 squares on crosses.

Oh, it's a college. Oh look, another college. What the heck? Another one!?, I railed. What's this Arizona thing? A fourth college? Oh, no, it's a sunken battleship that got no men's day warning.

Crusoe, Betty Hutton, Roast Pig. These got a smile from me. I think that was it.

I'll reiterate from above, there's no such thing as a low key in music. WS seems wrong on music clues about 90% of the time, it's a surprise when he gets one correct.

Masked and Anonymous 11:58 AM  

@RP: NW was eazy-E, if U knew ACH/HUTTON off nuthin, like M&A did. Had much more trouble with EPHEDRA/POR and CANA/CAEN, at our house. Sooo … the nanosecond gobbler still got his due.

I am astonished … astonished, I say… to learn that MENSDAYWARNING is a NYTPuz debut entry! [WEDNESDAYMORNING also would be, btw.]

OK, OK -- I sorta got a themer idea, here:
Clue could be: {Bomb squad robot?}
Answer would be: * [see below]

staff weeject pick: USC/CSU college flippers. Sorta like the W(isconsin)/M(ichigan) college flippers, in the theme mcguffin, I reckon. Applause for the puzgrid art M's and W's in mid-flip.


Thanx for gangin up on us, Haight & Collins dudes. Any puz with this many U's and no PEWITs scores an honorary "W", in M&A's book.

Masked & Anonymo9Us

* {Bomb squad robot?} = MINE WAKER MACHINE. [16 long, btw. Just sayin]


egsforbreakfast 12:13 PM  

@THE Ohio State University 9:50 points out that the abbreviation should be tOSU. This strikes me as a little nit-picky for a school that plays in a 14 team conference known as the Big Ten.

Anonymous 12:14 PM  


CT2Napa 12:15 PM  

@THE ohio state university -- oddly the web address (url) is

sb 12:16 PM  

To answer Rex's query:

"What the hell is "Wednesday Morning"? How is that—How Is That—an acceptable base

Wednesday is historically "Men's Day" at golf courses. Tuesday is typically "Ladies' Day".

jberg 12:17 PM  

I liked the Spoonerisms just fine, although I agree that Wednesday morning isn't much of a phrase, and that it would have been more fitting as a Wednesday puzzle.

Speaking Wednesday -- I am married to a woman who thinks it horrible that I don't pronounce "February" the way it is spelled. She claims to pronounce Wednesday as spelled, too -- well, I guess she claims she's saying "Wendsday," but I can't hear it. If you could hear it, it would ruin the spoonerism.

Not knowing sports, I had the LS and was really hoping they would turn out to be the Lady EeLS. Alas, it was not to be.

So I'm an atheist, but even I know about the wedding feast at CANA. I'm kind of surprised so many find it obscure.

@offthegrid - I think that's a feature, not a bug.

Clue: college attended by the painter of "The Merry Drinker"
Answer: The Ivy of Hals

Bruce Haight 12:31 PM  

Rex, I think you are taking this stuff too seriously - The Reverend Spooner intended for puns to be fun. May the Ghouls of Enragement visit you, and may you Catch Warty Finks!

jae 12:35 PM  

Medium. Liked it slightly more than Rex did, but I mostly agree with his “feelings” on this one.

Add me to those who missed the “grid art”.

Private golf courses typically have both men only days and women only days. A male friend of mine got yelled at for trying to play on the empty back nine on women’s day.

EdFromHackensack 12:37 PM  

Betty Grable was first. then Harlow. But it was Jean Harlow. so NW was a mess... I do hard copy in pen. I do NOT mind at all that I did not know Betty Hutton and had to suss it out. That is part of the beauty of crosswords, I feel. None of us know everything and to learn something new is nothing but a positive. Loved the puzzle, it was not that easy for me

Ethan Taliesin 12:38 PM  

Hard enough that the grid filled up pretty evenly in patches, as opposed to just bleeding out from the NE corner. I liked it overall.

For a brief period I was into CRYPTIC CROSSWORDS, which are a bigger thing in UK and Australia. They employ all sorts of tricky conventions like spoonerisms and the like, and can be verified from at least two different angles. Each cryptic clue is a neat little puzzle unto itself, however the grid is the British, which I don't care for. Inelegant, IMO.

Re today's grid...yesterday's "Green Paint" is today's "Wednesday Morning." No bueno.

Ethan Taliesin 12:39 PM  

NW corner I meant. I'm in the NE

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

@rex, if you truly can't see that letter W is a flipped letter M and vice versa then I can only commiserate with you and remember not to read your comments on anything literally graphical.

Chip Hilton 1:04 PM  

Dear Rex,
Gosh, you’re a sour soul.

Easiest Thursday in months, for me. I cracked up at the first Spoonerism and just flew through the rest. I guess I’m just a lowly buffoon who doesn’t need much to make him happy, but I liked it. Could’ve been tougher, but the concept itself (and, yes, those black squares) made me smile. Thanks, Bruce & Peter.

mathgent 1:05 PM  

Wikipedia lists names for 537 of The Alps, including Matterhorn.

ghostoflectricity 1:25 PM  

Agree 100% with Rex today? How on Earth?????

In what universe is AVE the Spanish word for bird? My spouse is a native speaker and I've struggled to learn some Spanish in my old age, and the usual word for bird in that language is "pajaro" (masculine). Ave isn't even the LATIN word for bird- that's AVIS. In Latin "ave" (pronounced "AH-way") means "hello" (its counterpart, meaning "good bye," is VALE- pronounced WAH-lay, whence we get the word valedictorian).

Not being a devotee of Potterverse, I'm not familiar with Cedric Diggory, so I had a near-natick since it could be almost any -SU or US- in the cross. I guessed and got it right.

Even after I completed the puzzle, I didn't realize the theme until I checked Rex's blog. A really strained bunch (and only three) of spoonerisms.

I agree with Rex about Wednesday morning. Unless you're referring to the first two words in the lyrics of The Beatles' "She's Leaving Home," or the debut (1964) album by the folk duo Simon and Garfunkel ("Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m."), which featured a beautiful photo on the front of the jacket of the pair busking in subway station in Midtown Manhattan, "Wednesday Morning" is NOT a "thing." Especially on a Thursday morning.

One of the worst and most unrewarding NYT puzzles in recent years, and that's saying something; there have been a LOT of duds in recent years.

ghthree 1:46 PM  

Two observations:
1: Rex objected to the clue for 6D (AVE), and suggested ___ Maria instead. The last time I saw saw ___ Maria in a NYTimes puzzle, I confidently wrote in "AVE." The "right" answer turned out to be "TIA."

2: 36A reminded me of a classic "warning" joke. A man was emerging from the men's shower when he heard women's voices approaching. He had forgotten that this was "Ladies' Day" at the Country Club. With no place to retreat and only a small towel in his hands, he quickly laid down on a chaise longue and pretended to be asleep. With the towel covering his face. The following conversation ensued:
Lady 1: "That's not my husband."
Lady 2: "You're right. That's not your husband.
Lady 3: "Why, he's not even a member of the club!"

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

Bruce Haight is a great cruciverbalist and a very good sport. Thanks guys.

bigsteve46 2:08 PM  

Re - 11:32 Anonymous:

As a matter of fact, I have never seen The Goonies, Rudy, or Lord of the Rings, hence Sean Astin (?) is, in fact, nobody personified to me - but somehow I kind of doubt that its "only me." Whoever this guy is, I don't think he is a must-know celebrity (I'll take Betty Hutton any day!)

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

Letters, you say??? Only if your head is on crooked. Otherwise, those are B-2 Bombers in formation, ready to nuke the Blue States.

kitshef 2:53 PM  

@bigsteve46 - Also note that Anon 11:32 was 'surprised by the number of people calling Sean Astin "obscure" or a "nobody".' As of 2:00pm, that number is exactly one - SouthsideJohnny. You were the 2nd, but that was only after Anon 11:32's remark.

Personally, I only know him from the episode of Monk where he killed his step-mother.

Lorelei Lee 2:58 PM  

For anyone who doesn't like to see unpleasant things in a puzzle, here are a few clues from the Sunday, January 2, 1944 NYT puzzle titled Happy News Year! Found this at the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project and it's a fascinating site

Site of notorious Nazi concentration camp : DACHAU
Slowed-up lightning war : BLITZKRIEG
Nazi dive-bombers : STUKAS
German sociopolitical philosopher, whose writings greatly influenced Hitler: SPENGLER
Continued endeavor to gain possession : SIEGE
One of the Fascisti in Mussolini's day : BLACKSHIRT
Pacific island taken by Marines : TARAWA
Germany's desuperized war machine : WEHRMACHT

Pamela 3:06 PM  

@Brian 10:12- Oh yeah! I won’t forget that one! Best laugh of the day.

For once, I did the puzzle early this morning- or rather, struggled through it, but found it so unsatisfying that I had nothing to say. I eventually got the third themer, but it wasn’t much help with the other two. Definitely not fun enough to be worth the effort. I just came back to see what you all said, and find that I have lots of company.

Anonymoose 3:13 PM  

Just for the record-After swapping M&W 36A is not WEdNeSDAY. It's WENSDAY!! Many, and Rex did it too, keep writing WEDNESDAY.

YouJustGotSpoonerized 3:21 PM  

"What the hell is "Wednesday Morning"?"

Hahahaha Rex is literally out here pretending he doesn't know what Wednesday morning is. I think that says it all. My fun side-game for the NYTXW is trying to guess what ridiculous beef this guy will come up with. I never would have predicted this one.

I loved this puzzle and its them. I agree that it would've been even better with a clever revealer, though.

john towle 3:21 PM  

You curmudgeonly lot would “go from Dan to Beersheba and say ‘tis all barren.” Put Caen on your bucket list: it’s the site of the Bayeux Tapestry, the world’s first comic strip. If you haven’t, read Tristram Shandy & A Sentimental Journey. Joys & delights.

Keep smiling, you’ll drive ‘em crazy,


Lorelei Lee 3:26 PM  

Oh! And this from Sunday, September 16, 1945: His eyes decorate peacock's tail: ARGUS

Argus-eyed was the one clue that really threw me in today's puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 3:33 PM  

@ghostoflectricity 1:25 → Simon and Garfunkel ("Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m."), which featured a beautiful photo on the front of the jacket of the pair busking in subway station in Midtown Manhattan

Well, they're not exactly busking. It was a staged photoshoot.

webwinger 3:37 PM  

You know you’re hangin’ with the right crowd when you find yourself smiling all day over a remark you’ve heard. Moe is we—tehee! Thanks, @LMS...

@CaryinBoulder 11:08: Lana Turner was “discovered” at age 15 in a Hollywood soda shop, supposedly.

@Bruce Haight 12:31: Thanks for stopping by, and being a good sport.

@Lorelei Lee 2:58 pm: Very interesting! Folks who won WWII certainly weren’t snowflaky…

Finally googled Sean Astin and realized I know the name because of his famous (for my generation) parents Patty Duke and John Astin.

Whatsername 3:46 PM  

Sean ASTIN is the son of the late actress Patty Duke. He also starred in the 1993 film “Rudy,” based on the real life experience of Daniel Eugene "Rudy" Ruettiger, who was a walk-on football player at Notre Dame and the first player in ND history ever to be carried off the field after a game.

Roberta 3:57 PM  

The rare puzzle that I just felt like no. I don't want to waste my time. Wednesday morning? What the ???
Just no.

Speedweeder 4:06 PM  

@ghostofelectricity 1:25

If you Google "AVE spanish", you'll find that AVE is indeed Spanish for bird, as is pajaro. Ave is evidently used for birds of prey.

I'll admit that it's a bit obscure, as I don't remember seeing it in any of my my beginning and intermediate Spanish courses. But that doesn't make it wrong.

Rug Crazy 4:09 PM  

Am I the only one who enjoyed it? Had to finish it to parse out the theme

GILL I. 4:23 PM  

@Whatsername 10:16. I think I'm jealous of your haircut. Just the other day Yuba City in Sacramento gave the proverbially middle finger to our governor and opened up the Yuba Sutter Mall. They showed people shopping with no masks - very little social distancing and generally acting like life is normal. We still have people coming down with the infection and dying - on a daily basis. My hair grows very fast and I can at least wear it in a pony tail. I'd love to get a haircut. My huge fear is getting this ugly thing and giving it to my husband. I could probably survive because I'm pretty strong and husband - I'm very sure - would not. This too, shall pass. I just wish people would be more careful.
@Bruce Haight 12:31....PLEASE...keep up you wonderful sense of humor. Catch Warty Finks indeed. Did your dog poop on @Rex's lawn one day?

Teedmn 5:36 PM  

Tough one today. I blame it all on Betty Grable.

I got 18A as the first themer but it took a few seconds more for the Spoonerism to strike. Never saw the M-Ws in the grid so that was no help in letting me in on the M-W swap.

Thanks, Bruce Haight and Peter A Collins, for ganging up on us, as M&A says.

albatross shell 5:40 PM  

@Webwinger 337pm

Joaquin 5:42 PM  

Bruce Haight is obviously a gentleman and scholar. And nicer to Rex than he needs to be. Good for Bruce! I like his puzzles even more now.

Runs with Scissors 6:01 PM  

I'm standing in @LMS's corner, because this was just flat-out fun. I dont' care what some crusty ol' naysayer says about it.

"But, Mate, there's war" was worth the price of admission all by its lonesome.

The rest were fun, but not up to that level.

I enjoyed every second of solving this last night after 1900 PST. I always do them the night before, because telecommuting - I will not ever use the term "telework" because it is just stupid - means I'm still logging in at zero dark thirty and doing a full day's work.

The SB today was fun, too. I've never hit QB status, prolly 'cause I'm satisfied with genius.


Mark, socially distant in Mickey's back yard.

albatross shell 6:11 PM  

@me 540pm @webwnger 337pm
Curses be. You apparently have dumbed down the bluelink directions to such a low level even I can do it. Thanks to JC66 who tried and maybe it was Z or franticsloth who also tried.

Z 6:17 PM  

@egsforbreakfast 12:13 - And has a logo that tries to imagine a G as a 0.

@TJS - Whiny? Well, okay, I love MW but I can hear it. Here’s an ode to her father. And people say Rex is harsh.

@CaryInBoulder - The reason you have to get pseudoephedrine from the pharmacist is two-fold, first because it is an ingredient in meth and second because item one resulted in it being especially prone to get shoplifted.

@sb - Is that really universally true of golf courses? I’ve heard of “Ladies Day,” but didn’t know it was like Taco Tuesday.

@Everyone making some sort of snark about Rex writing, “ What the hell is ‘Wednesday Morning’?” - Are you just ignoring, “How is that—How Is That—an acceptable base phrase.”? @sb points out how it could be an acceptable base phrase, but the rest of you seem to be missing Rex’s point.

@Gill I - Ugh. There are only two strategies that will prevent us from getting to 2.000.000 dead, universal precaution (what we’re doing now, acting as though everyone has it), or the containment strategy (test/contract trace/isolate). The second would allow for a safe re-opening, but as far as I can tell the U.S. is nowhere near being able to implement it. I know locally we’ve been fortunate because the local government was ahead of even the state. But we are so close to SC, GA, and TN and so tourism driven that a big worry is that those regions opening could exacerbate the problem here. Stay safe.

Anonymous 6:34 PM  


The next step is for The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) to exempt any business from liability for the death of employees. So, if your a bidnezz man, you can kill as many workers as need be to make your profits. It's the American way. Well, in 1850. Make America Great Again.

Anonymous 6:46 PM  

"But we are so close to SC, GA, and TN and so tourism driven that a big worry is that those regions opening could exacerbate the problem here."

Here's an exercise to illustrate:
1 - go to and click through to the current map, which is data from yesterday or so.
2 - open another tab and go to (or any of many sites with the image)

Now, go back to 1 and show only the 3 groups from 5 to 99. Next, ctrl-tab between the two displays. If your eyes are like mine, it's pretty obvious that the Spring Break idiots seeded the Eastern USofA (and there's a big landing spot within spittin' distance of SD's meat plant, to boot) with bunches of them wee little critters; how else would all those meat plants end up in Covid-19 Sh!t all at once? They would all have to been seeded at the same time. I've been following for a few weeks, and yes, the two smaller group sizes are pushing up to the 25 to 99 cohort. In due time, these will bubble up to the Red Zone.

Anonymous 7:00 PM  

Ni Rex, you're figuratively immersed. Not literally. Binghamton's scholar. Ugh.

Hoop Fan 7:07 PM  

Was watching The Last Dance about the Bulls’ run in the 90’s with MJ and Pippin and I remembered on this site some guy said Michael Jordan was overrated. Here’s Larry Bird : “I would never have called him the greatest player I’d ever seen if I didn’t mean it,” Bird told The Boston Globe. “It’s just God disguised as Michael Jordan.” Who you gonna believe ? Larry Bird or some self proclaimed know it all on a crossword blog. I think all of Z’s pronouncements should be read in that context.
(If this is a re-post please delete one not sure if the first one went through be well wear a mask to protect your neighbors God bless)

Anonymous 7:07 PM  

Don't know your wife of course, but all the wives I polled today would prefer pearls to a fitbit. But by all means, you do you.

Z 7:12 PM  

It’s usually best to be correct when trying to correct somebody else.

@anon 6:46 - I’ve seen similar comparisons. I tried on my iPad and got redirected to a site devoted to hiking trails. Did you get auto-corrupted?

Z 7:19 PM  

@anon 7:07 - “Not even my mom would wear PEARLS.” (Yes, that is a suggestion that PEARLs are dowdy - and while the women you know may not feel that way, I’m not married to those women)

Bill W. 7:26 PM  

Z’s lack of response to Hoop Fan is a first step in admitting he was wrong. It’s a twelve step program. Good luck guy.

Anonymous 7:26 PM  

Now I know where your poor taste comes from. And I got news for you, yiur wife is an old lady if shes anywhere near your age.
Pearls aren't dowdy, they're miraculous. And coveted. That explains the price they command.

JC66 7:27 PM  

@Anon 6:46

Looks likeNew York probably was the US's version of Wuhan and Milan.

Anonymous 7:36 PM  

Hoop fan,
Thank you!!!!

Anonymous 7:39 PM  


try Sometimes I forget. What was your question?


There's never been a question about that. The only issue was where the wee little critters came from since they aren't native to Manhattan, and the first instance increasingly comes to Europe. And the Spring Break idiots, as well. Wouldn't want to shut flights from a Caucasian region, now would we? Yellow Peril is Coming!!!!!

Joe Dipinto 7:42 PM  

If you're going to defend "Wednesday Morning" as a legitimate "thing" on the basis that Wednesdays are often reserved for men at the golf course, we're back in Ned Flanders territory.

The base phrase can't also figure, content-wise, into the clue and spoonerized answer. It doesn't on the other two.

JC66 8:22 PM  

@Anon 7:39

You may be right, but I've numerous studies citing that New York's infection came from Europe...none from "Spring Break."

Joe 8:23 PM  

I thought this was a terrible puzzle: snobby, antiquated, obscure. (And I’m an English prof in his 60s.) I’ve been doing these for a while, and so will give it a pass. But if I ran into this in my first year of doing crosswords, I’d stop.

JC66 8:29 PM  

@GILL I and @Other Bakers

You might fine this interesting.

josh mishell 8:46 PM  

CANA and CAEN are awful crosses. 2 places that nobody knows about. I just had to guess to get that right. Otherwise a pain in the keester, but I finished it.

Anonymous 9:33 PM  


just go look at the Tectonix map. lots of places have it. you'll see NYC lit up like a super nova. not to say that the first Covid came from there, it clearly didn't since the disease was already well on its way by then. but all those asymps mixing in the city surely exacerbated the disease.

webwinger 10:22 PM  

@Z 6:17 pm: Testing all contacts of all new cases of COVID in the US (now about 25,000 per day) would be an enormous undertaking that is almost impossible to imagine being accomplished at any time in the foreseeable future. This kind of containment effort is most appropriate when dealing with an outbreak originating from a single source. That is more or less what the situation was in South Korea when the virus took hold there in February (see this article from journal Science): A large portion of early cases, numbering in the hundreds, were linked to a religious group that met in a single location. Korea was primed to get case tracking and testing up and running quickly, having prepared well after being caught off-guard a few years ago by an outbreak of MERS infections. All-told about 300,000 people (from a population of over 50 million) were tested in the course of their successful effort, which resulted in a total of just over 10,000 COVID cases and about 250 deaths.

We are hearing that applying such an approach to the US today would require testing as many as 900,000 people per day, about three times current capacity. There is no evidence that can be achieved within even a matter of months. (It should, of course, be possible to apply contact tracing and testing in localized outbreaks such as have continued to occur in factories and prisons, a significant component of the pandemic’s continuing impact in the US.)

Insisting that the only alternative is continued stay-home requirement ignores the fact that stay-home has not been proved to be a highly effective containment strategy. I posted at length on this late evening May 2. Briefly, US states that were aggressive in restricting activity (earlier and more intense effort, including stay-home) do not appear to have done much better than those that were much less so. Internationally, Sweden, with a very lenient policy, has seen more confirmed COVID cases per capita than its Scandinavian neighbors, but by a factor less than 2, and far fewer than the UK or the US. Just yesterday it was reported that about 2/3 of New York’s recent new COVID hospitalizations occurred in people who were staying home, which Governor Cuomo acknowledged came as a surprise.

Given the massive economic harm that we are now seeing, due more to stay-home requirements than any other single factor, it seems folly to insist on continuing that policy, particularly because it was instituted before universal masking, and because its stated justification was to “flatten the curve” in an effort to avoid overwhelming the capacity of healthcare systems to meet demand, and specifically not to reduce cumulative morbidity and mortality. US healthcare facilities are nowhere near capacity now, and we are finally seeing effective widespread counting of hospitalized patients. It’s time to let people out. We will soon learn whether there is need to reintroduce stay-home policies, and can act accordingly.

JC66 10:31 PM  


The NY stats don't factor in who, if any people the "stay at homes" had contact with.

Anonymous 10:41 PM  

Full moon tonite. Try to catch.
Fifty odd years ago.
My mother was in the hospital waiting to have my baby brother.
Back then didn't want so many people at hospital.
She called that night to say hi to me.
This was back when phone calls were kind nod of a big deal.

She asked where I was in the house.
Upstairs in play room.
"Look out at the beautiful full moon" she said.
She could see it from her hospital room.
And I saw fr m the house a few miles away.

Next day came home with my baby brother .
Every time I see a full moon I think of her and him.
I told my nephews he's part werewolf. Born under a full moon.
BTW. love a god lunar eclipse.
Easy to see. You can look at them.
And usually not too crowded.

spacecraft 11:17 AM  

I don't mean to GETNASTY, but YIPE! This one's gonna get some BADPR right here. No fewer than three (!) cases of RU (random university), with the Lady VOLS thrown in! A TRUE Natick at sq. 24, albeit guessed correctly--and then I stumble across yet another TTOP. All this is evidence that these constructors simply Do Not Care. Put any old thing in there and it'll be--WELL, OKAY. No.

We have seen care taken, so we know it's possible. There's no excuse for this. And then the clues get messed up as well. Of all the ELIs, you pick some general at the Battle of--wait, there was a Battle of Selma???

I did notice the M's and W's in the grid, which would have impressed under better circumstances. But I agree with OFC about the central entry. The other two at least spoonerize familiar phrases, so they pass. But just a random part of a random day? I'm channeling "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes."

Will you come see me
Thursdays and Saturdays;
What've you got to lose?

You could do this puzzle, that's what. Double bogey.

rondo 1:34 PM  

Not sure that I’d turn to Twitter for the straight scoop on anything, including puzzles. Is there ever anything positive there? About as often as in OFL’s commentary. ACH so! And let’s get all bent out of shape over MENSDAY at the golf course. Doubly pre-offended.

I used a different Frans HALS painting for the background of an Art Appreciation paper. Liberal Arts to the rescue; or at least handy.

Betty HUTTON? How about Lauren HUTTON? Yeah baby.

The four corners make me SAAB. So does OFL.

Burma Shave 1:54 PM  




Diana, LIW 3:42 PM  

When's day mourning? When, I ask you?

sorry, but it beats Wednesday Morning.

Good day sunshine.

I did think of Caruso right away - nyah nyah! But had to look up Betty and Sean - once again, done in by PPP.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 3:55 PM  

This seemed medium, maybe even easy-medium for tricky Thursday, perhaps because of ignoring the M-W switch. A bit too hidden in the odd, off-beat phrases to care about anyhow.

As for the reversed initials of USC and CSU, add the Tennessee Lady VOLS, OSU Buckeyes, IONA College, and Yale ELI's, and you come close making up a college conference of their own--or at least a mini-theme.

Dickens' Uriah HEEP is an unforgettable model of smarmy obsequiousness, a despicable character who's left his indelible mark on nineteen century English literature. (How's that for boringly excessive prosiness?)


Anonymous 4:47 PM  

A hater is gonna hate, hate, hate!
And as all you regulars know:
Rex hates, hates Haight!

rondo 10:27 PM  

Worth the time Uriah HEEP Easy Livin':

rondo 10:30 PM  

Also Stealin' by Uriah HEEP:

Anonymous 10:19 AM  
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Unknown 3:59 PM  
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