Confucian scholar Chu / THU 5-28-20 / Yellow creature in series of hit animated films / Moor's foe in early eighth century / Flagship sch. with famed serpentine garden walls

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Constructor: Tracy Bennett

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (4:40)

THEME: wacky phrases made up of two TV show titles —

Theme answers:
  • GET SMART FRIENDS (19A: What to do if you want to win bar trivia?)
  • DOCTOR WHO CHEERS (37A: Medical professional with a passion for pep rallies?)
  • THE SOPRANOS LOST (52A: Predictable result of a choir's Barry White singing contest?)
Word of the Day: Chu HSI (46A: Confucian scholar Chu ___) —
Zhu Xi ([ʈʂú ɕí]Chinese朱熹; October 18, 1130 – April 23, 1200), also known by his courtesy name Yuanhui (or Zhonghui), and self-titled Hui'an, was a Chinese calligrapher, historian, philosopher, politician, and writer of the Song dynasty. He was a Confucian scholar who founded what later became known as the "learning of principle" or "rationalist" school (lixue 理學) and was the most influential Neo-Confucian in China. His contributions to Chinese philosophy including his editing of and commentaries to the Four Books, which later formed the curriculum of the civil service exam in Imperial China from 1313 to 1905; and his emphasis on the process of the "investigation of things" (gewu 格物) and meditation as a method for self cultivation.
Zhu has been described [as] the second most influential thinker in Chinese history, after Confucius himself. He was a scholar with a wide learning in the classics, commentaries, histories and other writings of his predecessors. In his lifetime he was able to serve multiple times as an government official, although he avoided public office for most of his adult life.[1] He also wrote, compiled and edited almost a hundred books and corresponded with dozens of other scholars. He acted as a teacher to groups of students, many who chose to study under him for years. He built upon the teachings of the Cheng brothers and others; and further developed their metaphysical theories in regards to principle (li 理) and vital force (qi 氣). His followers recorded thousands of his conversations in writing.
• • •

This felt like a Wednesday theme living in a Friday grid. I guess that averages out to a Thursday, but still this lacked the usual Thursday sass / trickery. It's just ... two TV shows pushed together and imagined as wacky phrases. Seems like something you could do and do and do and do, i.e. the themer set is pretty arbitrary. They're all 15s, so that's ... something. But one's an imperative sentence, one's a noun phrase, and one's a declarative sentence. The types (genres) of shows involved are all over the map. It all just didn't feel coherent enough. And the low word-count grid is odd. Feels like a weird way to build in some added difficulty, since the theme doesn't really offer any. But you can get difficulty just from cluing so ... not sure why the word count is way down at themeless levels (72). It doesn't allow for much exceptional fill—if anything, the grid feels strained in parts; low word counts are good for themelesses because themelesses don't have ... themes ... putting pressure on the grid. I liked BAD KARMA and the clue on MOTH (which really tricked me) (33D: Bulb circler) and not a lot else. Didn't strongly dislike much either. Just think it missed the Thursday sweet spot.

[famously deep-voiced, thus ... sopranos are gonna struggle, I guess]

Grid was more crosswordesey than I'd like (NESS ENNE ESOS EDEMA EBRO AMES ENTS RAH DAW OVO HSI NALA ADOS). Had trouble with HSI HALIDE and OSMAN, and because HSI and HALIDE were in the same corner (SW), and that corner also had the ridiculously clued ORTHODOX in it (38D: Keenly observant), that was definitely the roughest part of the grid for me. I get that "Keenly" is supposed to mean "very" here, but you'd never use "keenly observant" to describe someone's religiosity. The only reason "keenly" is there is to make you think a different type of "observant" is intended. I have no problem with that kind of head fake if the clue you offer is in fact plausible. "Keenly" is just a clunk of an adverb to use in this context. The clue feels like cheap trickery, as opposed to the good trickery of, SAY, the clue on MOTH (33D: Bulb circler). There's ambiguity as to what type of bulb is meant, as to what "circling" might mean in this context, etc. I went from "what the hell...?" to "Oh! Oh, that's good." And that is the trajectory you want on a tough / tricky clue. ASNEAT is truly gruesome fill—no AS[adjective] is ever going to be good. Ever. Ever. I've seen lots of them (ASRED, ASBAD, etc.) and ASNEAT is up there with the worst. Just not a stand-alone phrase. FREE AT LAST, on the other hand, stands alone reasonably well, despite being just a fragment—MLK repeats that phrase to great dramatic effect, so it has suitable heft.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


puzzlehoarder 12:43 AM  

This was over all a routine Thursday but it seemed harder at times. The NW and SE corners were what I recall as difficult. Usually when I get the first three downs the seven space crosses should just fill in only today they MUSTERed some resistance.

One complaint I have about the NW is that it clues EDEMA as a cause. It's not a cause it's a sign. Something causes the EDEMA. Being deliberately incorrect is a cheap way of sowing confusion.

As for the theme I figured it out after solving. It's always the least interesting aspect of a puzzle and I just get to it when there's nothing else left.

While solving I noticed that the fist portion of the first two themers were shows but then forgot about it in the south and initially entered THESOPRANOLOSES at 52A. STAYS corrected that but it didn't cause me to recall the theme.

Birchbark 12:59 AM  

I like "keenly observant" for ORTHODOX. The focus on precision rather than dogma gets it out of its shell.

"Serpentine garden" would be a nice clue for a crossword-favorite four-letter paradise. But add it instead to the "famed" walls of the "flagship" 41A UVA, and the weight of ornamental adjectives starts to topple that otherwise stalwart three-letter institution.

THE SOPRANOS LOST. I like the accidental poetry of it. Reminds me in a random way of the cover of Rush's "A Farewell to Kings." Or maybe the "other Lebowski's" admonition about the bums.

Tom R 1:21 AM  

It was overall challenging for me - long time working through. And for reasons I don't understand in retrospect, the NE was brutal. After I filled it in, looked normal enough, but I just couldn't get going. E.g., could not remember knot of toads, couldn't see enne or smarm. I just had visigoth crossing as neat and ents. But the rest went OK. I liked bad karma the most.

jae 1:34 AM  

Easy-medium. I agree with @Rex that this was more like a Wednesday puzzle. Reasonably smooth with some nice long downs. Liked it.

HSI = definition of WOE.

CDilly52 1:42 AM  

What I can say about this one was for a change, I wasn’t just in the wheelhouse, I was at the helm! The puzzle was over before I had a chance to think about the fact that it was Thursday and should have been all tricksy and clever and hard.

I enjoyed it much more than @Rex because I found that even the standard crossword vocabulary was clued a bit more originally which to me made it fresher than might have been. I also appreciate the effort it took for the constructor to go from idea, oh look if I say GET SMART and FRIENDS as a sentence, it’s kind of funny, to a full theme built on the concept. I particularly got a chuckle from THE SOPRANOS LOST.

I liked it, although it was a tad easy for Thursday.

Meeeek! 2:00 AM  

I struggled all over the place but I enjoy having to jump around until sections come together. The east EBRO and NESS crossing with ESOS was my last spot. It reminded me of an old commercial I remember that no one I know believes exists which claimed that learning Spanish was as easy as spelling words in English, like S-O-C-K-S.
My first time in Spain was with someone I called Tia Mimi. She is the person who I started doing crosswords with. Mimi was a native Spanish speaker and told me that S-O-C-K-S did not really have meaning. But I enjoyed saying it ant time we were in a shop together.
Maybe a cool theme idea; English words that when spelled make Spanish phrases.

chefwen 3:55 AM  

Yup, I’ll go with Wednesday type puzzle. I missed my Thursday trickery and cleverness. I did like GET SMART FRIENDS, that made me laugh

HALIDE, HSI and SHONDA where filled thanks to the downs. No clue.

I always wanted to be SVELTE, but I’m built too close to the ground. 5’1 doesn’t qualify, I think you have to be at least 5’8 and up. Sigh...

webwinger 4:54 AM  

What a bust of a Thursday theme! And fill did little to redeem this puzzle (though I am a big fan of the MINIONs—best enjoyed in THREED). I want my money back!

PS—I’m pretty sure it is incorrect to refer to HCl as a HALIDE. Looking for those with more chem cred to weigh in.

tompdavis 5:15 AM  

Isn't there a typo in 60a? Just desserts like strawberry shortcake not deserts like Sahara...

Did not like this puzzle. The only way I know what day it is is by the NYT puzzle and today I didn't get the Thursday vibe. DNF due to SHONDA (never heard of) below UVA crossing OVO. Ad initio I know, ad OVO nope.

DSM 6:14 AM  

I call Natick on the EBRO/ESOS cross. “Esas” also means “those” in Spanish, depending on the gender of the group of nouns. And the Ebro river does not rise to the level of importance of the Rhone/Rhine/Loire set of crosswordese, in my opinion. So I’d invite you to join me for a leisurely cruise down the EBRA.

GILL I. 6:15 AM  

And here I always thought it was PASS mustard.... or is that cut the mustard?
A Thursday I sailed through and thought I'd figure it out once I was done. Oh....TV shows. My favorite was THE SOPRANOS.
I liked thinking about an actor's asset. RANGE didn't immediately enter my mind. I thought good looks or maybe good teeth... even good breath, but it turns out to be an oven.
SMARM looks like it needs a little "Y" at its rear. Then you scoot over to TOAD and if you add a little "Y" to that one as well, you'd get a SMARMY TOADY.
UVA is grape in Spanish but here it's some kind of school with snakes on garden walls.
Why do I always confuse EDEMA with enema? I guess they both cause some sort of swelling?
I didn't think of TOES for that shoeshiner's tips. When I see TOES, I think of how much I miss my pedicurist and how well she shines my tips.
Help help me SHONDA.

ChuckD 6:16 AM  

Played easier than most Thursdays for me. I’m always looking for a rebus - so something like this is a little bit of a letdown.

Favorite part was the 2D/3D combo.

Lewis 6:40 AM  

The first lightbulb came when I realized THE SOPRANOS LOST was two TV shows. That led to the second, when I was looking for a tv show and GET SMART hit me, to open up what was a tough NW. The third lightbulb came when I tried to come up with other good quality theme answers, and realized how tight this theme set was.

Like a MOTH, I loved the shimmer of all this light. Thank you, TB!

Anonymous 6:41 AM  

blue balls. Har.

Conrad 6:42 AM  

@GILL I: "Pass the mustard" is what you do 24 hours or so after eating a ball park hot dog

remember going to ball parks?

I thought it was "AD OVa" and although I knew the name was pronounced SHONDA I was able to convince myself that it could be spelled SHaNDA. DNF :(

mathgent 6:48 AM  

I thought the three themers were very nice. The fill was sparkly and the cluing was intelligent. Excellent puzzle.

Diver 6:56 AM  

Never saw even one episode of THE SOPRANOS or DOCTOR WHO; still you'd have to be living in a cave to have never at least heard of them. I always figured LOST described the writers trying to wrap up the last season. I think they must have had a hand in cobbling this puzzle together. All in all an easy Thursday, no nits to pick except for the sign vs. symptom thing on EDEMA.

kitshef 7:09 AM  

That was just terrible. Take two random shows and cram them together? That’s it?

Plus … CLASS DAY? What on earth is that? AS NEAT?!

Three things save this puzzle from complete wretchedness. Mia HAMM, who is the best. A knot of TOADs, which is cool. And LOST, which might just be the best scripted drama TV show ever. Other contenders: Columbo, The X-Files, Buffy (if you count that as a drama) … I think that’s it.

Anonymous 7:09 AM  

The clue for ORTHODOX just shows the problems with how we lable religions. Orthodox (orthos doxa) means proper belief. It's used to describe Christians who have a certain doctrinal position. Only after the hegemony of Christianity and the German Protestant labeling of other religions in terms of Christianity can you get a keenly observant Jew being called Orthodox.

Hungry Mother 7:11 AM  

Very easy theme once I saw it. FRIENDS is the only show I’ve never seen. My misspent youth got TENS for me. A friend across the street had a full-sized pool table in the basement.

Barney 7:20 AM  

From Merriam-Webster:

Despite its pronunciation, just deserts, with one s, is the proper spelling for the phrase meaning "the punishment that one deserves." The phrase is even older than dessert, using an older noun version of desert meaning "deserved reward or punishment," which is spelled like the arid land, but pronounced like the sweet treat.

QuasiMojo 7:21 AM  

Rex is so fast! I took three times as long and got little enjoyment out of it. Why the parentheses around TO in the first clue across? Usually that means the TO applies to the answer. But it's not needed there and "Get Back To" is fine as is.

The only shows I had seen were Get Smart and one episode of Cheers (which was enough.) clues were pretty tortured.

I don't find these wacky phrase clues much fun. There's a difference between wordplay and stringing together phrases to accomplish a preconceived notion. No wit in that. Anyone can do it and the question becomes why? So we can jumble together a bunch of TV show names? Huh?

In order to get these hilarious themes we have to endure Net Sales, As Neat, the badly clued Edema, OMG, the immensely thrilling Often, half a RAH RAH, the ubiquitous college town AMES, the fascinating Others, a long-winded path down a garden to get UVA, someone not named LeAnn, an Amazin' clue for Amazon, a disappointing Class Day when it seemed perhaps a more interesting tradition was being unearthed, and gobbledygook like, Say, "I'm Next." OMG! Stop.

No wonder SB is becoming popular on here. The puzzles are not interesting enough to sustain a blog.

@Z -- I agree about Brooks Robinson!

amyyanni 7:22 AM  

Really despaired at the thought of finishing this one after the initial stroll through. Kept chipping away; first themer was the DOCTOR WHO CHEERS, which led to the others. Still thought I'd end up needing to call in my solving buddy Missy Google but nope, she got to sleep in this morning. Fun.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

@Webwinger - HCl is absolutely a halide.

@tompdavis - I'm not sure what format you are solving in. Mine says 'deserts', which is correct. Think of it as things you 'deserve' (one 's').

@ Gill I - hilarious post today - especially "an oven".

ncmathsadist 7:33 AM  

the clue for ORTHODOX should have been "strictly observant," not "keenly observant"

Susie 7:42 AM  

Just desert?? I kept trying to fit arid or like words to describe a vast, dry, hot etc.desert.

pabloinnh 7:51 AM  

Had no idea what a "snorty ride" might be, but I have to admit that some term for "horse" makes sense. Sort of. A little.

Any reference to GETSMART will make me smile. I just loved its silliness. Some of us are still saying "Not Craw! Craw!", and demanding The Cone of Silence. Classic.

@Meeeek-Not sure why your tia would say S-O-C-K-S has no meaning. Not as footwear, certainly, but Eso si que es! is the stronger form of Eso es! (That's it!) . That's really it! maybe.

Hand up for missing a rebus or other form of hocus pocus, which I really look forward to on Thursdays. I found your phrases to be suitably humorous, TB, and was not bothered by the fact that you could do the same thing with other tv shows. Thanks for the fun.

Small Town Blogger 7:54 AM  

The term is “just deserts”, as in they got what they deserved.

longsufferingmetsfan 7:54 AM  

Too much crosswordese, no Thursday gimmick, ORTHODOX clued too obscurely. I did like PASSMUSTER though. Do not agree with the Natick comment, EBRO is a river we've seen a hundred times. Pass

Larry 8:15 AM  

@Meeeek! : It wasn't your imagination. Here's the commercial on YouTube. Now you can show your friends that you're not crazy.

@tompdavis: Deserts is correct here. It means worthiness or entitlement, especially with respect to reward or punishment.

RogerW 8:16 AM  

Please explain "best" for alternative to "Yours Truly".

Laura 8:21 AM  

I missed my Thursday trickery, but some Thursdays are better than others. I appreciate that the puzzles stopped veering toward easy. Now if we could get more sneaky clues I'd be happy.

Joe Welling 8:24 AM  

tompdavis said...
"Isn't there a typo in 60a? Just desserts like strawberry shortcake not deserts like Sahara..."

No typo. It's just deserts, like what you deserve.

KnittyContessa 8:27 AM  

Themers made me laugh. I enjoyed it until it became a dnf for me. I went over it and over it. I googled EBRO and UVA and HCI to verify. I had it all correct. I could not see my mistake. Shanda/ova brought me down. My streak is broken.

Lobster11 8:29 AM  

Rex is being inexplicably gentle when he says, "Grid was more crosswordesey than I'd like (NESS ENNE ESOS EDEMA EBRO AMES ENTS RAH DAW OVO HSI NALA ADOS)." Look at that list. That's not just a little too crosswordesey for taste; it's way out of bounds. The SHONTA/UVA/OVO section was ridiculous, and crossing two Spanish words at their final letter is unfair. Total fail in my book.

NatCommSteve 8:40 AM  

I love it when I learn something: today it was that I have been spelling "just desserts" wrong all these years.

OffTheGrid 8:44 AM  

Today is an example of an occurrence I've noticed several times. There is large time gap after @Lewis post. Wondering what that's about.

JonB3 8:45 AM  

@webwinger: HCl would be considered a halide of hydrogen, just as NaCl is sodium chloride - or a halide of sodium, even though HCl is considered a strong acid. A perhaps better clue could have been "Compound like NaCl or HF" thus emphasizing the generic halide designation. I'm an organic chemist so this may not pass muster.

Petsounds 9:09 AM  

I haven't been posting comments much lately, because the puzzles have been so blah--meh-- that there really wasn't anything to say. So I was looking forward to the sass of a Thursday puzzle and the lively discussion to follow.

No sass and not much fun, and a few real stinkers--GOB for "hunk" (Brad Pitt is still a major gob! Give me a gob of the bread, would you?), a Confucian scholar I doubt more than 1 in 100 has heard of, the EBRO/ESOS cross. Credit for the MLK quote and...I got nothin'.

Maybe we all, as a group, are working through a GOB of BADKARMA. May it be over soon. It's especially cruel to deprive us of clever mindbenders during a pandemic.

Joe Dipinto 9:37 AM  

My favorite "Get Smart" episode was the one about the Tequila Mockingbird (a spoof of "The Maltese Falcon").

BobL 9:40 AM  

Man, there's a lot of wannabe Rexes here.

Nice puzzle, Tracy!

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Edema is not a "cause" of anything. It is a symptom and a synonym for swelling. Cause could be congestive heart failure, bad veins, too much salt, etc. The clue is just wrong. RSVP is an abbreviation; there was nothing in the clue to indecate that. Aren't these puzzles edited?

Colin 9:51 AM  

@RogerW (8:16) -

Some folks sign off their letters with "Best" instead of "Yours truly".


Some folks sign off their letters with "Best" instead of "Yours truly".

Yours truly,

Joe Doll 9:57 AM  

idk man rex you need to chill on the hater tots.

this was a fun puzzle.

RooMonster 9:57 AM  

Hey All !
Is it Wednesday again already?

I know Will said a while ago he was going to not stick to his previously stickiness of a trick every ThursPuz, but there's really nothing here. And only three themers? On a Thursday?

That's not to say I didn't like this puz. I did, but yesterday would've been apter (more apt?)

The theme was fun. Two TV-ers jammed together to create a wacky phrase. LOL at Rex's again "why these three when there are infinite choices" screed. Can always count on the consistency at least!

Natick Alert! The O of OVO/SHONDA. It got me as I had an A. One-letter DNF spot.

Posting before reading any comments, so curious to see if any complaints about which TV show isn't known. I'll pre-empitvely call it a tie twixt GET SMART and CHEERS, although both very popular during their times.

65A, NYT stretching their risquéness. Got a chuckle out of it.

One F

Joe Doll 9:57 AM  

idk rex man i think you need to lay off the hater tots.

this puzzle was fun, esp as someone who loves playing smash bros as ness

Colin 10:00 AM  

@Anonymous (9:43):
Beg to differ on the edema thing. Swollen hands and feet can certainly be "caused" by edema. Edema is not synonymous with swelling, not necessarily. For example, a swollen hand might also be caused by a large hematoma (collection of blood) from trauma. As another example, if you have an IV and it infiltrates (the IV is dislodged from the vein it's supposed to be in), the resultant swelling is caused by the IV fluid, not edema.

TJS 10:11 AM  

With ya all the way, @Petsounds. It has been difficult to even comment lately because the puzzles have been so depressingly bland and pro forma. But here goes: Gob does not mean hunk. "I'm next" does not mean "My turn now", it means "I'm next". And this new tendency of sneaking some emoji crap into puzzles is really getting on my nerves,and todays use to clue a texter abbreviation is just adding insult to injury. Now if I had a lawn down here I'd chase the kids off.

Never thought about it before, but are we all mis-pronouncing 34 down clue?

xyz 10:13 AM  

An exercise in awkward cluing is the difficulty

Z 10:14 AM  

A PPP based theme. Do I even need to bother writing my reaction? It could be worse, it could have been a quote puzzle.

Hand up for the EDEMA side eye. I guess you can lawyer it, but it’s like saying the cause of bad breath is halitosis.

@RogerW - I guess if one is being churlish one might sign off a letter with “BEST, Z” rather than “All the BEST, Z.” Personally, I’m a “Warmest regards” sort of guy.

@OffTheGrid - One minute doesn’t seem like a big time gap.

@Gill I - Oven! Har! I was all “chops?” “looks?” “good KARMA?”

Hand up for snickering at “Striped blue balls.” I’m surprised @John X hasn’t provided us a tale on the subject, yet.

@QuasiMojo - But not Paul Blair? I’ve always loved the shallow playing centerfielder and he was the prototype. Part of this is just the degree of difficulty in chasing down fly balls over your head, but the ability to turn singles into outs while still being able to chase down deeper flies is a wonderful thing.
(note: this is all in reference to a comment from @CaryinBoulder late yesterday)

Barbara S. 10:15 AM  

I chuckled over the themers but, like many, I missed the more intense trickery of the usual Thursday.

After the first minute or two, I thought I wasn't going to get anything but thank goodness for SMARM. I had a few ERRorS along the way like "ette" for ENNE (I hadn't yet seen VETTE) and "Ad uno" for "Ad OVO." I suppose one could complain about CLASS DAY crossing "Anita O'DAY," but I don't feel like it.

The first time I ever heard of Barry White was on yet another old TV show, "Ally McBeal." One of the characters, played by Peter MacNicol, considered Barry White to be his muse/hero/role model in all things. Here's a Barry-White-inspired clip, featuring another famous aspect of that show: the law firm's uni-sex washroom.

Dance like everyone's joining in

JP 10:18 AM  

You are incorrect. While swelling can be caused by many things, edema does not “swelling”. Saying swelling is caused by edema is like saying a broken leg is caused by a fracture.

Joaquin 10:27 AM  

I confess to being a bit disappointed to find a Wednesday puzzle on Thursday, but ...

Crosswords are an excellent way to learn the proper use of English. As a CWN (Certified Word Nerd) and a long-time patrolman for the Grammar Police I am pleased that today's puzzle was instructive to many solvers. Just DESERTS is OFTEN misspelled (as is misspelled) and PASS MUSTER is, apparently, new to many others. And, to put a finer point on it, one may "cut the mustard" but would only "cut the muster" if he went AWOL.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

while the wiki does 'support' HCl as a halide, it also makes clear that HCl is principally an acid:
"The Brønsted-Lowry definition is the most widely used definition; unless otherwise specified, acid-base reactions are assumed to involve the transfer of a proton (H+) from an acid to a base." in any case, ACID won't fit, and NaCl is obvious.

the deserts/desserts thing is just nasty.

Sir Hillary 10:30 AM  

Decent enough theme, but its lack of heft places it on Tuesday or Wednesday.

The clue for ORTHODOX didn't bother me. I liked the offbeat clues for SHORT, STAYS (both clued as nouns), OVER and TENS.

FREEATLAST, BADKARMA and VISIGOTH are great entries.

A crossword geek can navigate the EBRO/ESOS cross, but it's a horrible cross nonetheless.

Not sure "My turn now" and IMNEXT are really equivalent -- you would say the latter before the former, not interchangeably.


I want more out a Thursday than this.

Carola 10:31 AM  

Moment of grid joy: VISIGOTH. Otherwise: a dutiful solve, my not having seen any of the TV shows diminishing the delight factor, I'm sure.

Mary McCarty 10:35 AM  

Ok, I’m going to try to submit a Latin-based answer again, even though yesterday’s thoroughly brilliant analysis of ANNUS apparently didn’t PASS MUSTER. There was some confusion about the declension and gender of ANNUS and today we have it again with OVO/OVa.
OVum is 2nd decl. neuter, making OVa its plural form, in both nominative/subjective and accusative/objective cases. That’s why it’s so familiar to you as OVa, while still as confusing as other neuter plurals like medium/media and datum/data.
Also, the ending-o is used in many prepositional phrases (as in Anno “in the year..” per yesterday’s comment.)
Ergo, @RooMonster, there’s no Natick at the OVO/SHONDA cross.

Moderator: if you’re going to publish incorrect Latin (or any other non-English) explanations, you should at least publish the corrections. I think folks who are interested in words, and crosswords in particular, would gain a lot from a little Latin knowledge.
And such explanations seem to me more relevant that the ubiquitous comments about SpellingBee.

Whatsername 10:39 AM  

I’m always a bit suspicious when the word “wacky” is used to describe anything - a book, a movie, a crossword puzzle. As a general rule, I have found it does not turn out to be a good thing. In this case it could’ve been a lot worse. Rex’s description of a Wednesday theme with Friday fill was absolutely spot on. I liked the idea of combining TV shows and since all of them are well known, so that made it easier. Yes, some tough areas but there was some exceptional fill. SVELTE MINIONs, NEAT TOADs, THAI AMAZONs and best of all - FREEATLAST.

@Barney (7:20) thank you for the explanation on desert/dessert. I really didn’t know that “just deserts” was spelled with only one S. I guess that’s probably the only time it would be pronounced the same as the word with two of them.

Roger W (8:16) A person might sign off on a card or a note by saying BEST instead of saying sincerely or truly or affectionately etc.

EDEMA: “an abnormal infiltration and excess accumulation of serous fluid in connective tissue or in a serous cavity.” I questioned this because normally I think of edema as being synonymous with swelling, and I’ve heard medical professionals refer to swelling as edema. But the clue doesn’t say a sign of or a symptom of, it says “cause of” swelling, so clearly that would be correct. EDEMA is the buildup of fluid which results in the area being swollen (SWOLE?), not the swelling itself.

Lorelei Lee 10:41 AM  

I love any Thursday puzzle I can do 'cause it makes me feel smarter than I am. I also love puzzles that spark great comments here and this one fills that bill in spades.

Barney @ 7:20 - I've been roaming the earth for 65 years thinking someone got a lousy piece of pie for being a noodge.

Anon. @ 7:09 - Orthos doxa ... thanks for the expositional mini sermon. Nice.

@Kitchef, I can only pray that someday I'll have the opportunity to work this sentence into some situation, "HCl is absolutely a halide."

@JoeDepinto, Tequila Mockingbird, har. I looked it up, Season 4, 1969. I don't think I even knew was tequila was when I was 13 so I woulda missed it. Like all the Rocky & Bullwinkle humor. The good old days.

TJS 10:47 AM  

Just finihed the late comments from yesterday and had to respond to Anon. 2:50. I usually am not a fan of somewhat personal takedowns of other commenters here, but your response to another @webwinger pandemic statement was on the money in my opinion. The fact that you took the time to research the quotes is appreciated. Wish you would drop the Anon. guise so your comments wont be inadvertantly skipped over, but that's up to you. Thanks,again.

Nancy 10:49 AM  

Who on earth is Barry White?

There's an animated creature named MINION? What an unusually sophisticated name for an animated creature. Can the kids even pronounce it?

Who's SHANDA? Oh, wait, it's SHONDA. Don't know her either.

Ab ORA instead of Ab OVO. That gave me URA for the university, which I wanted to be URI, but wasn't. Don't ask.

HERDS instead of HORDE for the marauding group. Well, it could be, right? This gave me TSNS for the striped blue balls, which it couldn't be, right? Don't ask. I wanted TWOS, actually since billiard balls only go to EIGHTS, I think. But TENS?

All of this gave me THE SOPRANOS LEST. But since I had no idea who Barry White was...

DNFs all over the place. I needed to GET SMART FRIENDS. Or at least FRIENDS up on all the pop culture I don't know and don't want to know. Though, admittedly, I had other problems as well. Don't ask.

egsforbreakfast 10:51 AM  

I thought it was easy for a Thursday, but quite liked it. I’m not sure why the themers are generating such invective. It’s a simple, but cute concept, executed well in the clueing.

@Meeeek! 2:00 am. I like the S-O-C-K-S concept, although I now realize that I hate how many key presses it takes to do 5 capital letters separated by 4 hyphens on an iPad. The idea reminded me of how delighted we were in grade school, where one of our classmates was named Kay, to be able to say right in front of the teacher, “If you see Kay .....”

kfja 10:59 AM  

Where is LMS? Is anyone else worried about her?

Joaquin 11:04 AM  

Side note: There are stores all over the US selling sweets that are called "Just Desserts". I wonder how many of them use that name as a play on words and how many think it is a real expression.

webwinger 11:23 AM  

As often happens, I’ve found a few more things to like here after reading comments. Juxtaposition of Snorty ride and Sporty ride (echoing yesterday’s MIATA) was cute. Are VISIGOTH, HORDE, and ATE ALIVE sending some sort of subliminal message? TOES clue calls to mind all those Jewish mohel jokes about tips. Still, take the theme, please!

@RogerW, Z, et alia: I frequently close an email message with “—Best, ww”. Its terseness seems appropriate to the form, if it feels like there is a need for something more than just the handle.

@Mary McCarthy: So happy to know there is a Latin magistra emerita in our commentunity!

@kitshef: In the future, I will never again fail to include HCl in any discussion I have about HALIDEs (which I had been deluded in thinking were all salts—probably b/o conflating with halite).

@Nancy 10:49: You simply MUST watch Despicable Me (1, 2 or 3) and The Minion Movie, even if in TWOD. Kids love these, but so do adults. (I’ve read that one reason for their popularity with the under 10 set is that they are very easy for the littlest ones to draw.) Much of the humor is surprisingly sophisticated (keep an eye out for a small sign above the entrance to “The Bank of Evil” in the first Despicable Me). When I was seeing lots of kids with eye problems, the very best little toy I used to hold their visual attention and illuminate their corneas was a battery powered push-button Minion key chain fob with a bright light for its central eye (some have just one, others two) and a squeaky sound that could be understood as “I love you” in Minionese.

OffTheGrid 11:25 AM  

@Z. It's not the times on the posts. 2 hours passed after Lewis before any more posts appeared, at least on the platform I'm using. No biggie, just curious.

Anonymoose 11:28 AM  

@Barbara S. "I like a fresh bowl"

Newboy 11:28 AM  

VISIGOTHS surprised me as much as they did the Moors. Nice to add that historical note to the trivia file. Rex observed “ The types (genres) of shows involved are all over the map,” and saw that as a flaw; I thought that RANGE a subtle tip of the tam to Trivia Night. Truly never had any problem with GET(ting) SMART(er) FRIENDS. Don’t get out to TN or Beer Choir these days, and I do miss both. Perhaps it’s time to rejoin my local Kennel for some socially distanced hashing & down downs. Or heavens, try SB?

Puzzle itself was fun with shows that you have at least heard about and now knowing that ROZ was a critical role in FRIENDS helped Today. Maybe HSI will stick for future use as well...thanks Tracy for ORTHODOX crosses to make that name plausible. Will have to checkin at to get a grip on how you puzzle out these puzzles. Now to see others reactions.

A Moderator 11:32 AM  


When I logged on to the site around my usual time (8:45 AM, EDT), there were an unusually high number of comments (25) awaiting approval.

Maybe another moderator is ill.

11:39 AM  

Well, I’ll be. Learn something every day.

Lewis 11:41 AM  

This is not about today's puzzle, but it is about crosswords, and in specific, Patrick Berry. Some of you may have noticed that we haven't seen a NYT crossword puzzle from him for quite a long time (November of 2018 to be specific, and he only had two puzzles in that year), though he does create other types of posers for the NYT puzzle page.

I have had a crossword crush on PB for as long as I remember, for his ability to consistently make grids totally free of junky answers, to come up with brilliant themes, and especially, for his ability to devise wordplay-clever and misdirect-clever clues. His six-day meta-puzzle contest sequence in 2011 is the most brilliant crossword execution I've ever experienced (October 17-22, for those who have access to the archive).

My message today is that he is as good as ever. Last week he did a meta-puzzle for Fireball (an independent crossword site with tough tough puzzles) that was ingenious, masterly. As for his misdirect cluing, here's an example from that puzzle: [Sporting apparel that's unorthodox]. Answer below, but first try to get the answer...

jberg 11:56 AM  

I had two things to say, and @puzzlehoarder already said the one about EDEMA. But am I really the only one who put in GURUS for "Teachers of the dharma?" Then I got USED UP, and was thinking M&A would be very happy -- but it messed me up pretty badly.

Chu HSI insisted on nothing but the best.

Joe Dipinto 12:12 PM  

@Joaquin 11:04 – your post reminded me of a barber shop/hair salon not far from where I live that's called Sheer Madness. Whenever I pass it I want to go inside and say, "Shouldn't you have spelled your name Shear Madness?"

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

I don't get it.

Masked and Anonymous 12:25 PM  

yep. About a (good) Tues-WedPuz theme -- but only 72 words and with some feisty clues. Different. Has some 'tude. I'll give it a pass, but don't make us come down there, @Shortzmeister.

Lotsa great/noteworthy fillins, such as these pups: PASSMUSTER [cousin of PUZZMASTER]. ORTHODOX. VISIGOTH. USEDUP/UHHUH [yo, @jberg]. BADKARMA. FREEATLAST. ODAY/CLASSDAY. MINION [M&A fave yellow animated character of all time].

staff weeject pick: HSI. Well, that lets TuesPuz out, right away. Unless maybe U used this here clue: {Towel next to the HERS one, draped clumsily??}.

Thanx, Tracy Benneti darlin.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

[runtpuz server still broke. But, see two "roll yer own runt" projects, at]

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

As in "all the best".

A Different Moderator 12:26 PM  

@Mary McCarty - There are several of us so I can’t speak for every mod, but when we’ve discussed questions like yours in the past it has not been us. Either there is an issue with Blogger or an issue at your end. Any discussion about the Latin roots of answers would be approved.

Regarding a discussion from a few days ago: We are being alerted to an update to Blogger. It seems to be a change only on the blog administration side.

What? 12:40 PM  

What everybody said.

RooMonster 12:46 PM  

@Mary McCarthy
Har, *thanks* for clearing that up! As being just a touch too young (can't remember the last time I was a touch too young) for Latin in school, our HS didn't have Latin, ERGO (is that Latin?) your explanation just further confused me when an A or O. I'm standing by my Natick plaint as it seems many others DNF'd there also.

I had GURUS at first too!

Clue: Hawaiian detective cleans house?*

Really wanted 5D to be ROO! 😋😎


RooMonster Non-Latin Guy

jb129 12:50 PM  

Didn't like it at all - kept expecting & looking for more (even tho I used to love Barry White (sorry, Nancy!)

Smith 1:02 PM  


As a child I spent many summers on Mt. Desert, which is correctly pronounced as in 'just deserts'. Adter the bicentennial, when they spruced up the national park, I heard people saying it as in 'desert', an arid place.

@Anon 12:24 reparse the clue so that 'Sporting' is a present progressive verb, like, 'I'm wearing' and the rest is what you're wearing, 'unorthodox clothes'. Hope that helps.

Not too far from Natick 1:09 PM  

egsforbreakfast, you made my day! “If you see Kay....”. It made up for the meh. Also, I love nothing more than a pointless argument about Latin grammar. Altogether win-win. The puzzle didn’t interest me very much, but that’s ok. I’m here all week.

GILL I. 1:11 PM  

Talk about just deserts (one S, please) and BAD KARMA - or should I say "bad Karen" - it's not hard to keep from hearing about the Amy Cooper disaster at the famous Bramble in Central Park. What a shame the prominent birder, Mr. Christian Cooper, shares a last name with her. But yeah, she got her just deserts.... Fired from her job and for the rest of her life she will be known for her flagrant, racist lies. At least her dog can now find a happy home. I won't even get into the horrific Minneapolis tragedy.
Peace to all. Wear a mask.

webwinger 1:14 PM  

@TJS 10:47, @Anonymous 5/27 2:50 pm: I am flattered, Anon, that you have been reading my posts so attentively, at least until 7 weeks ago. As the pandemic has evolved, it has become apparent that specific impressions and projections from early on were inaccurate. (Dr. Fauci predicted a total of 60,000 deaths through August on April 9.) My basic question since mid-March has been, do we really have enough confidence in how bad this situation might become to justify the draconian response (widespread lockdown, with truly terrible consequences unrelated to the pandemic itself) with which it was met? My answer was and remains, no.

I was wrong about the timing and height of the peak (which I admitted in a response to OffTheGrid on May 15), but it is now clear in retrospect that Covid-19 in the US, both new cases and deaths, did peak in early-mid-April, and has been in steady decline since then, more slowly than anticipated or hoped, but with no suggestion of rebound overall, or in most individual states (despite some recent localized outbreaks) nearly a month after lockdowns started to be lifted in many places. That we would have experienced much worse without widespread lockdown has by no means been proved, and IMO not even argued convincingly. My extended comments in support of this view (which neither of you has chosen to look at before rejecting my arguments) are still available by email.

I will admit that this blog may not be the best forum for such discussion, but it has hosted conversations about a wide range of topics of significance, and with political overtones, that go well beyond x-world. The paramount importance of this topic is not in question. The blog is also frequented by many people whom I regard as very good thinkers, though sadly the responses I have received (mostly from Anonymous; no idea if one or many) have not been notable for providing either sound data (see, for example, Anon 5/15 around 2:30 pm, and my response at 10:06 pm), or sound argument (Anon 5/27’s comments about flights into SFO and LAX).

At this point, I am ready just to let the facts speak for themselves, and will not post further here on Covid after today. I will, however, if possible, leave one final “musing” later this afternoon…

Charlie 1:16 PM  

Keenly observant for ORTHODOX is the best clue in the puzzle.

Barbara S. 1:16 PM  

@Anonymoose 11:28
Har! My fave: "I like being a mess. It's who I am."

old timer 1:23 PM  

So this being Thursday I expected a rebus, and was desperately trying to find a three-letter rebus for initio, as in "ab initio" (see 39D). Didn't help that I misread "Flagship" as Flagstaff and had confidently written in UNA (University of Northern Arizona) for UVA, the school founded by Tom Jefferson, and why it is a "flagship" school is beyond me.

I loved the first two themers, and admired most of the wordplay. And as a long-time stockholder, always appreciate a plug for AMAZON.

Most of the nits were not really pickable. RSVP is often used as a verb meaning "get back to". An actor who can adapt his style to many types of characters has RANGE. The EBRO is the longest river in Spain, and is on a par with the Rhone and Loire in France, and the Po in Italy.

FREE AT LAST brought me back to the thrill we all had watching the Rev. King give that speech the first time. And I always think of Ogden Nash when I see a LAMA in the puzzle (He's a priest! The two-l llama, he's a beast, and I will bet my silk pajama, you'll never see a three-l LAMA).

TJS 1:26 PM  

@Nancy, I would guess that Barry White has the most recognizable voice in popular music. If you care to bother, check any music source on the Web. I bet you would say, "Oh, that guy." Not saying you have to like him.

Hanedawg 1:26 PM  

I agree tompdavis. Always understood the term to be spelled as “just desserts”. When spoken, it’s pronounced like the after dinner treat or reward for eating your lima beans. Had me stumped till I finally hashed out jazz vocalist Anita O’Day and “desks” for “things many people work on all day”.

TJS 1:28 PM  

@Nancy, whoops, forgot there are two of his tunes in OFLs' comments.

JC66 1:32 PM  


According to statistics compiled by the NY Times, If you take NY out, US coronavirus cases continue to rise overall and are spiking in 16 states.

I agree it would be best to let the facts speak for themselves.

Meeeek! 1:43 PM  

@pabloinnh. Tia Mimi said yes it is Spanish but no once says SOCKS. But I imagine it could be used in some places.

@Larry. thanks for the link! I thought I was losing my mind. I

@eggsforbreakfast. Thanks for adding an idea to the mix. Now I want to explore more of these.

Teedmn 1:49 PM  

Like so many here, including Rex, I really liked the clue for MOTH. Like a few others, I messed up with SHaNDA crossing OVa, though I like the idea that Latin for "from the beginning" is the idiom, "from the egg".

The top and bottom themers were fun, the middle one not as wacky.

My Jewish co-worker really enjoyed the "keenly observant" clue, so there.

Tracy Bennett, I liked your puzzle, I just wish it had been run on a Wednesday. Not your fault.

David 1:50 PM  

Seemed more of a Tuesday to me, but fun.

Thanks for clearing up the desert/dessert thing up there, and I just knew somebody would have always thought it was pass mustard.

still here doing puzzles, not much to write about these days...

Greg 2:05 PM  

EBRO/ESOS and UVA/OVO. 'nuff said.

Unknown 2:14 PM  

anyone notice the error in 60A "cause of just deserts"? SHOULD BE DESSERTS! I thought it was a trick...

bauskern 2:18 PM  

I will agree with @Greg
Those two crosses were a tad unfair. I thought it was UTA (University of Texas at Austin)/OTO.
But apart from that, this was a fun Thursday. Three very long themers, that actually made me chuckle when I got it.
I get that Rex has permanently adopted this curmudgeonly persona that he holds onto as a sort of badge of honor; that's fine. It's his blog. But the number of similarly - minded folks who have adopted his persona? Whew, let's just say I'm glad we are not all together in one big room. For a # of reasons.

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

draconian response

well, only if you're still standing. the successful countries proved that without therapy or vaccine, such measures are the only option. but it's only killing poor geezers in LTC and poor folks working so the rest of us have 'essential services'. very Darwinist. as others have pointed out, unless you restrict yourself to Faux News, the pandemic continues to increase pretty much across the country except for NYC metro. in particular in all those Red Counties in Real America that figured they'd be safe since they're Real Americans and not just Blue Coasties. Covid doesn't give a rat's sphincter. to bolster the notion that Real America remains untouched, Nebraska, Iowa, and Arizona (at least) now refuse to publish full data on infections and deaths. simple way to convince the naive` that all is well. some, perhaps you too (I don't recall), still say that it's 'just like flu', in particular that it affects geezers, who'll die anyway. the fact is, Covid has a much more age agnostic death pattern.

may be the Mods should fact check such comments as yours? :)

GHarris 3:03 PM  

Thinking a Thursday requires a rebus, I wasted a lot of time trying to fit in ab initio and make it work with the other crosses. Didn’t know ova. Needed auto check to help me out.

Rug Crazy 3:16 PM  

Had HALITE instead of HALIDE, took me forever to get ORTHODOX. Hadn't realized, until I read the blog, we were looking at two TV shows strung together

webwinger 3:22 PM  

@JC66 1:32: Well, we agree on one thing, at least!

I just looked again at the NYT stats, and made the following calculations: New cases per day in the US (7-day average) were approximately 32K on April 9 (the date the curve peaked), and in New York State 10K, difference 22 K. Deaths per day (7-day average) on April 17 (the date that curve peaked) were approximately 2.2K in the US and 0.9 K in New York. Corresponding numbers for the US and New York yesterday were 21K and 1.5K cases, 1.0K and 0.1K deaths. US minus NY: 22K cases on 4/9, 1.3K deaths on 4/17; 20K cases and 0.9K deaths on 5/27. True, much less of a downward trend, but definitely not an upward one. My analysis is not sufficiently fine grained to confirm this, but I suspect a significant portion of the troubling near-steady-state persistence of Covid in a sizable portion of the US comes from localized outbreaks (e.g. in meat-packing plants and nursing homes) that seem to be being contained, without significant associated community spread, using conventional contact tracing and isolation methods, aided by testing that is now definitely available in sufficient quantity for this purpose.

Regarding state statistics, the Times includes 18 in a group labeled “where new cases are increasing”, but it is obvious from the plots themselves (don’t take my word—look for yourself) that 6 of these (AK, FL, ID, LA, VT, and WY) are holding more or less steady at well below their April peak levels; 3 (NV, PR, SC) are pretty much flat at or slightly below their April peaks; 4 (CA, MS, NC, WI) are showing upward trends (beginning during April lockdown time and continuing through May) that have not yet clearly peaked. Five states (AL, AR, ME, ND, WV) show upward trends beginning or significantly increasing in May, and thus possibly attributable to relaxation of restrictions; the portion of US population in these smaller states is less than 12%.

Just keep watching those numbers…

@Anon 2:23: Well, the mods would at least have no trouble with posts like your latest, which contain no facts. And watch for my next (and last) Covid post—I’m sure it will tickle your fancy—but do not expect a response. I’ll be happy to dialog further on this with anyone, but via email only.

Anoa Bob 3:37 PM  

I never like wacky in a crossword puzzle. Too often the attempt at wacky strikes me as silly. So obviously today's offering was not for me.

Someone mention COVID-19? I check this graph on the online WaPo front page each day. The overall pattern shows a steady decline in national deaths for the last several weeks. There's also a mini-pattern with spiking and then declining rates every five or six days. Not sure what's going on there.

To join an earlier thread, when letters, often hand-written ones, were the norm for long-distance communicating, the standard practice was to close the letter with some expression of warmth and empathy, so phrases like "Yours Truly" or "BEST Wishes" were used. Nowadays the latter gets shortened to just "BEST". Maybe loses a little of its warmth, no?

webwinger 3:41 PM  

OK, fellow Boomers—Amid the comparative numbers being cited as Covid-19 passed the 100,000 deaths mark in the United States yesterday, one in particular stood out: The 1957-58 “Asian flu” killed 116,000 Americans (and more than 1 million worldwide, about 3 times the current Covid total), at a time when US population was about half its present size. We’ve got a considerable way to go to reach that level, which was the worst infectious disease experience in US history after the notorious 1918 “Spanish flu”.

I remember the 1957 flu (seems odd that it was closer in time to 1918 than to now), though not as an occurrence that was disruptive to my relatively idyllic 1950s Midwestern childhood. I have much more vivid recollection of other events from that year, such as the Sputnik satellite launch by Russia. A fairly serious economic recession began in 1957, but the flu epidemic is not regarded as one of its causes. What was different then from today? I’d say more than anything else it was the lack of government response to the public health threat in the form of widespread curtailment of economic activity.

It is increasingly clear that our biggest crisis now, which continues to worsen every day, even as the pandemic itself is loosening its grip on our country, is the economic devastation created by stay-home orders. With few exceptions, they all need to be lifted, ASAP, everywhere. But please, let’s keep on masking—no real economic downside, and no solid evidence that it’s less effective than other mitigation measures that preceded it. Might have been possible to avoid the whole secondary debacle if masks had been available, recommended, and accepted from the outset. (Email me for detailed heavily documented defense of this position.)

Also of interest: The flu virus was isolated in May 1957 and, remarkably, a vaccine became available to the public beginning in October of that year, at about the same time a second, deadlier wave of contagion began. (I actually remember reading about that in the old Life magazine, and how it was produced using chicken eggs—somehow fascinating to my 8-year-old mind.) This was just a few years after the triumphant development of the first polio vaccine, so biomedical science was keenly focused on vaccines; maybe also a relative dearth of regulatory hurdles in those days cleared the way for a sprint. Hopefully we can still see something similar happen in our own time.

BTW, it’s hard to imagine a starker contrast than between President Dwight Eisenhower and our current Commander-in-Chief, despite both having come relatively late in life to the Republican Party. (Makes me want to cry, seriously.) On the other hand, the Eisenhower administration’s tight fiscal and monetary policies are cited as important factors making its recession worse

Finally, for those who want to approach the pandemic armed with facts, please visit and use data from the Covid Tracking Project, and continually updated NYT compendia of statistics from the United States and the world.

Old Actor 4:01 PM  

Does everyone know the story of Anita O'Day's name? She was born Anita Colton, but at some point she said she was in it for the money and changed her name to "pig-latin" for DOUGH!

Wow 4:07 PM  

First, why can't Republicans Ever admit they are wrong. Second, why do you have blinders on, and are only seeing what you want to see? Third, why can't you expand your mind to take in all things?

I can say the Oceans are Orange, and get a bunch of like minded sheeple to agree with me so vehemently, it would never change their mind that they aren't Orange or occur to them that they are wrong.

Can you see what I'm getting at? You've been wrong since the get-go of this whole thing. Now you proport to throwing facts that you say prove you're right? What a laugh.

It's a virus, it's out there, and the only reason it hasn't killed 1 million people is because of the shutdown. I guarantee you once people start getting out and travelling, the cases will increase. And I don't need your "facts" to prove it.

JC66 4:10 PM  


To compare the 57-58 Asian Flu with today's pandemic now makes no sense.

Let's wait to see where we finally end up.

Also, it seems to me that your covid comments haven't panned out that well so far, so I hope you'll keep your word and stop posting about it.

QuasiMojo 4:27 PM  

I'm taking all my Barry White records with me to a Dessert island.

PS: QB encore!

Joe Dipinto 4:42 PM  

@GILL I – it's the famous Ramble, not Bramble. And I think this letter to the Times got it exactly right:

To the Editor:

Re “White Woman Fired After Calling Police on Black Man in Central Park” (news article, May 27):

Amy Cooper is surely a Karen (an entitled white woman), and a bad dog owner, and probably a little racist, but does she deserve to have her life ruined over this incident — and perhaps be permanently banned from the park, as the Central Park Civic Association has asked?

First, I know that racists are allowed in the park because I’ve seen Donald Trump there.

Second, the man in question, Christian Cooper (no relation), could have just reported her behavior, but instead took matters into his own hands. He told her to take her dog elsewhere, and when she refused, he said, “Look, if you’re going to do what you want, I’m going to do what I want, but you’re not going to like it,” which sounds pretty threatening. He then beckoned the dog to run away from her, using treats he carries, “for such intransigence,” as he proudly tweeted afterward. This guy is no hero.

Amy Cooper grabbed her dog to keep it from running to him, then called the police. Other than not leashing her dog, the mistake she made was unnecessarily pointing out that the man harassing her was African-American.

So two people had a fight in the park. Welcome to New York. Is she not allowed to earn a living now? And why is the mayor getting involved? This is a big deal only because the media loves a good racist Karen story, and the Twitter mobs love destroying lives.

Gary Taustine
New York

Ms. Cooper is clearly a lowlife jerk for trying to scare him away by threatening him with the presumed reaction of the cops. Now Mr. Cooper is saying she doesn't deserve the death threats she's been getting, and that "I don’t know if her life needed to be torn apart.” Well that's rather disingenuous considering he didn't have to start filming the encounter in the first place, never mind posting it online after it was over with.

I hate them both. Sorry for the puzzle-free tangent.

JC66 4:47 PM  

@Z et al

If you haven't done it yet, try today's BEQ offering.

RE MASKS 5:40 PM  

The University of Minnesota's Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy Dr. Michael Osterholm says that despite guidelines to the contrary, masks for the general public just don't help all that much.

"We know that the virus can be transmitted by what we call air assaults, its the tiniest of particles. If anything comes in along the side of the mask or escapes that way, then it really minimizes both to protection for the individual who used the mask or the protection for others so that if I'm infected, I don't transmit to them.”

GILL I. 6:13 PM  

@Joe 4:42. I brought this up because of the just deserts clue and BAD KARMA answer.
Sorry, I guess I made a mistake. I always thought of it (and apparently so did the news) that it was called the Bramble...
First: "and probably a little racist, but does she deserve to have her life ruined over this incident....." Not a little, a lot. Karen's of this world have put innocent men behind bars - not to mention a lynching or two.
Second: Had he not filmed this - which he seemed to do in a civil manner, It would've been just another day dealing with ho hum racism. I'm glad his sister posted it.
Third: She was screaming at 911 and it sounded like she was about to be slashed by some black demon that was threatening her. Not true.
Call it what you want. The video speaks mountains. Mr. Cooper said that the aim to show the video was to make some wider change and wasn't sure that having her life completely torn apart served that goal. He's a class act.
Yeah, she made her bed. The dog is in a better spot and Central Park is rid of one less idiot and so is her work place.

Graham 6:17 PM  

there is crosswordese and then there’s *crosswordese* which is a shame because I thought I had a shot at getting gold in this puzzle after a rough week. Some of these clues and their answers confirm to me why young people thing crosswords are stodgy, instead of the fun and clever puzzles we know they can be.

Lewis 6:52 PM  

@JC66 -- Thanks for the recommendation. That was fun. He is a theme machine -- I don't know how he does it!

oisk17 6:55 PM  

Three one box DNF since Sunday, and 5 since Friday...after weeks without a flaw. These things always come in waves. Yesterday, was JOST one of those things. Jost??? I had Jos_, looking for a first name (to correspond with CHE...) and finally settled on Jose.

Today? Really a Shanda!! But unfortunately it's Shonda. And AB OVO not OVA.

And a yellow minion? What's that?? A minion is what I need on Monday night, but might not be able to find due to COVID restrictions...

webwinger 7:00 PM  

I will keep my promise about no Covid posts after today*, but I still have 7 hours until 11:59 pm MDT. So...

@wow 4:07: Interesting that you make the assumption I am a Republican. I am a lifelong Democrat who thinks for himself. (First GOP vote ever last year for my incumbent county clerk and recorder, who’s been doing a great job.) I am, in other words, not one of those “sheeple” Dems who automatically believe the opposite of whatever Trump seems to be saying on a particular day. (On healthcare I am to the left of Bernie Sanders. I voted for Warren in our recent primary. And BTW, we’ve used vote-by-mail in Colorado for 6 years, and it works great!)

In earlier posts today I admitted to past errors and addressed criticisms with new data and analysis, and on April 6 I apologized for a comparison that was rightly criticized for being insensitive. Regarding the “points” in your post that are not ad hominem attacks, there’s really nothing to rebut. BTW, I think the ocean is blue-green, don’t you?

Sad to say, in our hyperpolarized society, it seems many people find it hard even to distinguish fact from reasoned argument from opinion…

@JC66: How can you simply dismiss the relevance of the closest parallel to Covid in US history? I see the 57-58 flu pandemic as extremely germane. It just seems to support my views and not yours. (I at least looked critically at the last points you raised.) Many have used data from 1918 to argue for the use of extended lockdowns against Covid. In my long essay I review some of these claims and find them poorly justified. (Spoiler alert: There were no lockdowns such as we have seen this year in 1918.)

@RE MASKS: You present one out of context quote, unsupported by data; it could be countered by many others, but at this point I just don’t want to. (You can request and read my document.) There is a great deal that needs to be better researched about masks (which are now required in many places), but even more concerning the value of 6-foot separation and sheltering-at-home (with the many holes in its shielding) for limiting the spread of Covid. While no one can confidently say what are the relative merits of these three main “social distancing” measures in protecting against the virus, there is no doubt that masking is the least damaging economically, and stay-home the most by far.

*I intend to get back on the Covid stump in a couple of months, either to gloat or eat crow, as the situation warrants. Looking forward now to a good Friday puzzle...

Joaquin 7:12 PM  

@Joe Dipinto (4:42) - Hating both the Coopers involved in the Central Park incident puts you on the wrong side of this event. Only one of the Coopers - Christian - took actions that can possibly have a positive impact on human relations. We all know how society would have reacted had there not been the video; perhaps some may learn from it.

Maybe - just maybe - a few folks will admit to themselves, "Ya know, I would have believed that white girl was being threatened by a scary black man, but now I realize that would be a racist, knee-jerk reaction so I will not do that in the future." Yes, it's a long-shot but without the video it's a non-starter.

[We really should try to keep posts like this out of this blog. There are plenty of places to post political opinion. My apologies for doing it here.]

JC66 8:02 PM  


Obviously, 1A made me think of @Z.


Totally agree.

Z 8:02 PM  

@JC66 4:47 - I had done it. 1A was smile inducing here and a total gimme.

@Joe Dipinto - What @Joaquin said.

Apparently the cure for Spelling Bee discussions is a COVID discussion. Who knew?

Z 8:34 PM  

I love this.

JC66 8:35 PM  



Joe Dipinto 9:19 PM  

@GILL et al – suuure, and I have a bridge that maybe you'd like to buy.

I'll retract one thing: I don't hate them both. I don't care enough about them for that.

JC66 9:39 PM  

@Joe D

Consider this.

Joe Dipinto 9:42 PM  

@JC66 – I already read that.

JC66 9:50 PM  

@Joe D

Well. then I guess we agree to disagree.

Nancy 10:18 PM  

@GILL, Joe D, JC66 and Joaquin -- I'm very glad that a video exists of the Cooper v Cooper Ramble incident. It makes abundantly clear that the white woman was not being threatened in any way by "a scary black man". What I saw was a black man being threatened by a scary white woman. Very sagacious of him to make that video. It makes crystal clear the complete fabrication, the utter dishonesty of her phone call.

She's being fired from her job for this? Excellent. Good decision. I applaud her employer.

Anonymous 10:37 PM  

Never heard of Karen as a descriptive until a few months ago but I’ve been hearing it a lot lately. I’d say, as I understand it, it applies to both Coopers. And yes, give Amy her job back for God’s sake. BTW, we need a name for a male Karen. I nominate Rex.

GILL I. 10:46 PM  

@Nancy...I just sent you an email....before reading your answer. We are on the same mind bend. No Karens on this thread....

TAB2TAB 10:58 PM  

For those of you who are familiar with Barry White, please explain: is there a reason that he would be partial to altos, tenors, and basses in a singing contest and turn up his nose (ears) to sopranos? Wikipedia does not offer an obvious explanation, though states he had a "distinctive bass-baritone voice". Is that the angle? I've got to think that even the most
distinctive bass-baritones might also enjoy other voice registers beside other bass-baritones. And even if they only award fellow bass-baritones as winners, why wouldn't altos be subject to a last place finish? Why did sopranos get the short stick?

My apologies in advance if I have destroyed the wacky fun of this themer.

JC66 11:14 PM  


The clue reads "Predictable result of a choir's Barry White singing contest?."

Since Barry White has a deep voice, sopranos would have the hardest time sounding like him and would, therefore, lose the contest.

Joe Dipinto 11:30 PM  

@JC66 – Okay. What exactly is it that we're disagreeing about?

JC66 11:31 PM  

@GILL I, @Nancy, @Joe D et al

Just think about how the Minneapolis PD would have handled this.

JC66 11:36 PM  

@Joe D

You said:

" Now Mr. Cooper is saying she doesn't deserve the death threats she's been getting, and that "I don’t know if her life needed to be torn apart.” Well that's rather disingenuous considering he didn't have to start filming the encounter in the first place, never mind posting it online after it was over with."

IMO, being Black is all the reason he needed to film the encounter.

Joe Dipinto 12:46 AM  

My point above was: this guy is no dope, he's Harvard-educated, he knows how the internet works. I find it hard to believe he's surprised she's getting death threats and being dumped on by the entire planet. He says that wasn't his intent in posting the video but, well, that's what happens.

And fwiw, I'd be very pissed if I were having an exchange with a stranger in the park and they suddenly started filming me without my permission. She wasn't threatening to call the cops at that point.

Penna Resident 1:27 AM  

and no one else thought "the sopranos lose"?
made that last bit tough. I feel like such an old man putting collar seays in my shirts the 4 days a year I need to use them that i thought maybe there was an old timey name for them.

Unknown 9:19 AM  

Thanks. "Best" seems like an incomplete sentiment ("all the best", "best wishes"). Doesn't sound natural. Does anybody actually use this short version?

Stix 9:56 AM  

This was the most joyless Thursday in a long time.and the first Thursday I didn’t even bother to finish in forever. Way too many proper nouns abutting each other with no Thursday fun. So bummed.

webwinger 11:52 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
webwinger 12:29 PM  

I guess it’s technically still Thursday here, so I’m back for a couple of final comments.

I’ve taken a fair amount of flak from the commentunity for my early April prediction that US Covid deaths would not exceed 20,000. I decided to travel back in time and review the basis for that error.

I made two assumptions that turned out to be incorrect: First, I expected that after deaths per day peaked, the curve would plunge symmetrically to virtually zero, as it did in China (with a cumulative total that has remained under 5,000), which would result in a US total about twice the number prior to peak. This belief was shared by nearly everyone at the time. It is still entirely unclear why instead most places in the US settled into a steady state plateau of new deaths, in some cases way below, in some not much lower than the peak.

Second, I prematurely concluded the US death rate peak had been reached on April 4, when in fact it came about 10 days later, at a level nearly twice as high. Reviewing the curve now, new deaths did appear to be flattening for a few days in the first week of April, and I allowed myself to be misled, owing largely, I admit, to an optimistic bias.

Anyhow, had these not unreasonable premises both proved correct, the cumulative US death toll would have maxed at around 20,000. So I was wrong, but not nuts. It certainly doesn’t justify summarily rejecting everything else I have to say on the subject, nearly all of which I have supported with either data from primary sources or reputable journalism.

Most of my other “musings” have centered on the effectiveness and wisdom of the various NPIs (non-pharmacological interventions) that have been mandated in effort to stem the tide of Covid. I am increasingly convinced that stay-home orders, rapidly imposed on most of the country in late March, have been a disaster. I strongly support the use of masks, and am somewhat indifferent to the 6-foot distancing rule (which actually came out originally as 1-2 meters). I have made my case in this regard at length in a document I have several times offered here to share by email; so far very few takers.

This excellent article from the NYT has been added to their other continually updated sources for Covid data. It shows the onset and ending dates for stay-home orders superimposed on the plot of new cases for all states that are now reopening. There is absolutely no evidence of a relationship between lockdown and Covid number progression.

Bottom line: Covid lockdowns have been an EPIC FAIL. The longer they remain in place the worse will be the ultimate outcome of this frightful collective experience. I predict that within a couple of months that will be seen as a matter of fact, not opinion…

thefogman 10:09 AM  

I had Ori, UrA and SHiNDA instead of OVO, UVA and SHONDA. That was the black hole of death for me. Way too much crosswordese...

spacecraft 11:28 AM  

In the dictionary under "desperation," you might find HSI. If that isn't, nothing is. At least, though, the crosses there were fair. Now we come to ES_S/EBR_. The across could be either A or O, depending on whether "those" are masculine or feminine. And when you dip your TOES into any four-letter European river, my eyes glaze. This was a literal coin flip. Heads A, tails O. It came up tails. Thank you, coin; no thanks to YOU, Tracy.

This one provided some Thursday-level resistance, due in large part to the NW. Again. OVER = "The boss of?" Wow. And of all the many ways to clue RANGE, "Actor's asset" is certainly true, but geez! That was a toughie. The letter V helped me out here and elsewhere, when I finally got VETTE and thus RSVP. It was also useful when I had enough letters for VISIGOTH, making SVELTE a must. Finally, I ended at V when running the alphabet for O_O/U_A in the center. Oh yeah, from the egg. I gotcha.

Isn't there some violation here with the DAYs of Anita O' and CLASS? Especially in the same area. Mia HAMM is a true AMAZON among soccer players, and the DOD. An awful lot of PPPs, but fun to solve and with enough teeth to earn a birdie.

Burma Shave 1:04 PM  


OTHERS have BADKARMA and will never be 'TENS'
or ASNEAT AS a DOCTORWHO drives a 'VETTE fast.


rondo 2:30 PM  

I thought it was a rather clever concept. You'd have to super-size the grid to fit in THATGIRLINTHEHEATOFTHENIGHT.

RISE, SIRE from the four corners of IRES.

SVELTE Mia HAMM, yeah baby.

Those foreign words in the mid-east presented a challenge, but not so much with the OTHERS. No BADKARMA here.

leftcoaster 4:08 PM  

Good one, about AS NEAT as it can be. Three clever grid-spanning themers helped with much of the down-crossing fill, which was also good.

STEED and VETTE stood out with their snorty and sporty rides. Puzzled over how "Just deserts" (not desserts) translated into BAD KARMA, but I can't argue with the dictionary.

Have played a lot of pool, but apparently didn't register that the 10 balls were striped blue. (Was thinking marbles or other kinds of "striped blue balls".)

My little secret: Liked SHaNDA more than SHONDA.

leftcoaster 6:55 PM  

@webwinger: Don't know why you persist, but admire your stamina.

Diana, LIW 7:25 PM it all except for the very middle - I'm not kidding. All else I could somehow suss out.

Diana, LIW

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