Swabbie's liquor allotment once / TUE 5-5-20 / Purveyor of drug paraphernalia / Galena sphalerite / Buckwheat porridge

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Constructor: Lee Taylor

Relative difficulty: Medium (3:52)

THEME: Riddles — riddles ... I guess all the riddles make the answer seem like a paradox of some kind, but ... I dunno, just looks like riddles to me:

Theme answers:
  • FOOTSTEPS (17A: Riddle-de-dee: What is it that the more you take, the more you leave behind?)
  • YOUR BREATH (11D: Riddle-de-dee: What's light as a feather but can't be held for long?)
  • CHALKBOARD (30D: Riddle-de-dee: What's clean when black and dirty when white?)
  • TELEPHONE (62A: Riddle-de-dee: What asks no questions but must be answered) (this isn't even true—you never *have* to answer your phone)
Word of the Day: KASHA (28D: Buckwheat porridge) —
In the English language, kasha is a term for the pseudocereal buckwheat. In Central and Eastern Europe, especially in Belarus, the Czech RepublicPolandRussiaSlovakia and Ukraine, kasha is a dish made of any kind of grains boiled in water or milk, i.e. a porridge.
The largest gross consumption per capita is in Russia, with 15 kg (33 lb) per year followed by Ukraine, with 12 kg (26 lb) per year. The share of buckwheat in the total consumption of cereals in Russia is 20%.
This English-language usage probably originated with Jewish immigrants, as did the form קאַשי‎ kashi(technically plural, literally translated as "porridges"). (wikipedia)
• • •

Not much time for this one tonight, both because I need to get to bed early (early-morning Zoom meeting) and because I have nothing much to say about this theme, which is as corny and dull a theme as I can remember seeing. It's old-fashioned. Who actually enjoys riddles? Children in the '50s? And "Riddle-de-dee"!?!?! What is that even a reference to? The second I read that first theme clue, I was out. Just, out. The same way I would be if anyone in any context said "Riddle-de-dee" to me in real life. "Riddle-de-d—" [sound of my footsteps, sound of door opening, sound of door slamming behind me]. It's like an eight-year-old's fun-time activity book decided to play dress-up. I'm sure there's a website somewhere w/ a bajillion of these kinds of riddles, all with answers about as exciting as, uh, TELEPHONE. Or YOUR BREATH (LOL, "YOUR," that one is at least amusingly bad, in that it stands on its own about as sturdily as YOUR HAT, i.e. not at all sturdily. I don't understand why this theme would provide anyone any amusement at all (unless, again, you are eight), and I superduper don't understand how it's an adequate basis for a crossword theme. "Riddle-de-dee" tries to bring it all together, but all it does (besides grate) is highlight the fact that there is no there there. Yeah, the riddles all offer apparent paradoxes. Riddles are like that.

The fill offers not a lot to allay the irksomeness of the theme. SHUT-EYE (43D: Sleep, informally) and HEAD SHOP (46A: Purveyor of drug paraphernalia) and KICKBALL (28A: Activity on a school playground) are nice entries, GAMESTER (?) and AITCH and PETERI are not. Everything else just sort of sits there. Your usual cast of 3-, 4-, and 5-letter characters. I was a little slow today because, well, ugh, riddles. They don't even have the virtue of being easily gettable! So I had to hack at crosses before I got most of them. And I forgot KASHA. Had the "K" but my brains just kept going "KAFIR!," which I think is a type of fermented milk product??? Whoops, nope, that's KEFIR. OK, moving on ... nope, not really moving on. Nothing left to say. That area in the west between (and including) KASHA and GAMESTER was definitely a trouble spot for me, but aside from the themers, nothing else gave me much pause.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Hungry Mother 8:03 AM  

A bit on the slow side, but a nice solve.

Lewis 8:06 AM  

A simple enjoyable theme that got me thinking about riddles, which start simply, like those in this puzzle.

Then one day, maybe, you graduate to lateral thinking riddles, such as: "A man walks into a bar and asks the barman for a glass of water. The barman pulls out a gun and points it at the man. The man says ‘Thank you’ and walks out." *

From there, perhaps, you graduate into crosswords, where themes become riddles, and, in Friday and Saturday puzzles, where so many clues/answers are riddles in their own right.

Eventually you come to the Great Conundrum, as exemplified in the lyrics to "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" -- "Life ain't nothin' but a funny funny riddle..."

Lewis 8:07 AM  

* When the man asked for water, the bartender realized he had hiccups, pulled out the gun, and scared the hiccups away.

Kathy 8:12 AM  

So easy that when I took a peek last night, I ended up whizzing right through the whole thing. Now what am I going to do this morning? And what day is it? ;) @Frantic Sloth.

I chuckled at HEADSHOP, wondering if it is now a geezer term.

@Gill I. I have baked bread in the past and actually had a knack for the kneading part so that doesn’t faze me. I avoided it mainly for lack of time. When the flour and yeast come back to the store shelves, I’m going to make some loaves of love! Now that I’m retired I have no time excuses—especially since I’m not rushing back into public social situations any time soon, no matter what others do. Thanks for the inspiration!

Joaquin 8:12 AM  

I’m familiar with Dad jokes but these riddles would qualify as great-grandpa jokes.

Re: 62A … I wonder what percentage of telephone calls actually get answered these days. I know at my house it’s in the single digits.

OffTheGrid 8:13 AM  

I didn't mind the puzzle at all. It was pretty easy. For me the problem with the riddle theme is that, unless you focus on just the riddles and solve them first, there is little challenge. Getting a few crosses gives big hints to the riddle answers.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  


kitshef 8:26 AM  

Much, much easier than yesterday’s.

Pleasantly low on proper names, and could have been even lower with different clues for MAY and TEDDY.

I enjoyed this a lot, but based on the theme I predicted a bashing by Rex and was not disappointed.

Suzie Q 8:49 AM  

Well, some days you just have to let yourself be eight again.
I remember seeing a head shop for the first time. It smelled of incense and was full of fascinating things. It felt so exotic.

Petsounds 8:49 AM  

When I was about, oh, eight years old, someone gave me a book of riddles as a gift. This was in the 1950s, and even then the book didn't include anything as goofy as "Riddle-dee-dee." Probably something more like "Riddle me this." Because I kept it instead of burning it with fire.

I'm completely with Rex on this one.

Z 8:51 AM  

What have I got in my pocket?

MarthaCatherine 8:52 AM  

A fun, fast puzzle. The only thing that slowed me down is that I entered SOLOisTS without a thought that it could be possibly be anything else. This made me plunk down DNAkit for 26A
Anyone else?

Glenn Patton 8:54 AM  

22D: Of course, the Tampa Bay Rays aren't playing anywhere right now, but when they do play home games, they don't play in Tampa Bay. Baseball is not a water sport! They play in St. Petersburg.

amyyanni 8:56 AM  

Maybe it's the times, but this one amused me this morning. An innocent, sweet distraction from the dire news. Riddle de dee indeed. Off to try and scrounge what vegetables I can at weekly farmers' market.

Z 8:57 AM  

riddle-de-dee indeedy

Michael 8:59 AM  

Almost record time done solo, very easy going. Not a lot of cleverness or interest, maybe CYAN and CASSATT for interesting clues along with YEWS.

TokyoRacer 9:04 AM  

As usual, Rex hits the nails on the head. If you liked this, well, I guess kiddy crosswords are your thing.

webwinger 9:05 AM  

Can’t recall hearing these specific riddles before, but they nevertheless felt very stale. Two answers seemed to require a leading A that wasn’t there. Blargh.

@Joaquin: I’m with you on answering the TELEPHONE. (That very word has an old-timey feel now.) Almost never take a call from an unknown number any more, nor do I expect an unsolicited call to be accepted. Seems to me proper phone etiquette now demands that a text be sent requesting a call back or a suggested time to call. BTW, one small benefit from stay-home policy is that calls to landlines (I no longer use one, but still carry in my memory numbers for some old friends who have stayed put for decades) do tend to be picked up...

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

AITCH is just a lazy crossword answer

Nancy 9:09 AM  

A twofer. A chance to exercise the little gray cells of the brain twice -- once for the riddles and once for the crossword. What's not to like?

Are they great riddles? Not really, but they're riddles. And each one made me think at least a little.

So I say HURRAY. (Not BOOYA. Who on earth says BOOYA when they're feeling "exuberant"? Surely not me. Do you?)

And a thought on Riddle #62A: "Must be answered"??? If only. Who feels obligated to answer their TELEPHONE anymore? Who these days ever does, actually, answer it? Possibly only me.

At any rate, a cute and entertaining puzzle.

puzzlehoarder 9:09 AM  

A Monday easy Tuesday. Not exactly a child's puzzle. It's made for an older person with the mind of a child.

Today's SB looks to be as tough as yesterday's.

Debbie from HR 9:11 AM  

@Z, I don't know. Is that a flash light or are you just glad to see me?

mathgent 9:17 AM  

Riddles. I guess that I used to hear them in the playground or in the schoolyard. Nice to be reminded of those days.

Just a little sparkle like SASHAY and ZOOT.

Mary Cassatt is one of my favorite impressionists, up there with Van Gogh and Gauguin, ahead of Monet and Renoir.

Only 28% of the entries are six letters or more, 21 out of 76. Lightweight. But maybe average for a Tuesday.

burtonkd 9:26 AM  

@Nancy, Booya is not a synonym for Boo.
This video doesn’t look like what I imagine your demographic to be like, but have Fun! Sorry Z et Alia, I haven’t mastered the HTML link despite your kind assistance. Yet.


Puzzle fine for a Tuesday. G in Grog Slough crossing looks like it was Rex’s last letter also.

KnittyContessa 9:37 AM  

This was a fun lighthearted Tuesday. The riddles made me smile. HEADSHOP made me chuckle. Breezed right through it. @Nancy I have never BOOYAd either. I'm more of a straightforward Yeah! type.

pabloinnh 9:52 AM  

These kinds of riddles crack my granddaughter up, or they used to when she was seven. She turned eight last month so I don't know if that still obtains, as I haven't tried one on her yet.

Puzzle too easy, riddles too easy,see the clue, write in the answer. Still too much of the day left, and it's cold and windy. Yuchh.

We still talk on the phone two or three times a day to friends or family. Not sure where we went wrong, but that's the way it is.

Thanks for the puzz, LT. At least you inspired some excellent grouchiness from OFL.

And now back to the SB. Couple more for the G thing.

Dan 9:57 AM  

I've been doing puzzles for 20 years and I can not recall having ever seen AITCH. That could be the worst answer I've ever seen. Holy cow

RooMonster 9:59 AM  

Hey All !
Ah, the good ole days, when companies/bots weren't allowed to call your cell phone, and you could go out to the mall, even if you only wanted to window shop.

Rex missed an opportunity to somehow make a riddle to describe the puz. I don't know, maybe something like, "What's 15² and dull?"

I liked the corny riddles. They were fun and easy. Too much usage of the ole brain to solve some riddles (even some of the first 10 from @Z's link) is no bueno. It just makes me feel stupid. Once you see the answer, it's like, "Of course! I should've known that!", but I don't have the patience to figure it out.

Liked the two Across-two Down theme layout. Too bad we couldn't get two more riddles for the other two longest Downs. Has there ever been a puz with all riddle clues? That would be something. Maybe Patrick Berry or one of those type expert constructors made one once? @M&A? @Lewis?

Missed 4 words in YesterBee, embarrassingly missed a crossword staple that had me thinking how-in-the-hell-I-missed-it, EPEE. Seriously? The other three I never would've gotten. But EPEE? Wow.

Finished today's puz 4 seconds slower than the MonPuz, further proving yesterday was a toughie. Not, back to the Bee, addictive little game.

Two F's

Barbara S. 10:03 AM  

@Z 8:51
@Debbie 9:11

Loved the literary riddle (LOTR) and Debbie's answer (better than Gollum's).
The other famous one is, of course:

What creature walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?

rosebud 10:06 AM  

Perfect pandemic puzzle with lots of smiles. I need new riddles every day to send to my granddaughter, these are fun! And I love Mary Cassatt’s paintings and slurping soup.

bigsteve46 10:09 AM  

I know I'm missing something obvious - but, "puzzlehoarder," what's SB?

Lewis 10:14 AM  

@roo -- That would be tough to do, and probably awesome. I don't recall ever seeing it.

JC66 10:15 AM  


I emailed you an Embedding Cheat Sheet.

ghkozen 10:16 AM  

This might literally be the worst “theme” I have ever seen in a crossword puzzle. Absolutely nothing enjoyable about this puzzle at all, just a complete disgrace. It’s well past time to unceremoniously fire Shortz.

Jeff B. 10:17 AM  

Agree with @kitshef that this was easier than yesterday's. A few points of interest as Rex pointed out, but several questionable entries, especially AITCH.

Z 10:18 AM  

@bigsteve46 - SB is shorthand for the Spelling Bee.

GILL I. 10:18 AM  

Ay...the great conundrum.....I was never good at riddles even though I've been told my infantile imagination should. I'm more of the queen of malaprop. You look at 20A and my first thought was FEEBLE.
My first favorite entry was KICKBALL. Strange, you say? I was the captain of our team in Havana. I wore # 12 and I still have those numbers somewhere. Our coach, "Profe" told me once that I had the kick of a mule. I'm not sure how it's played here in the USofA but in Cuba it was like baseball with feet.
My second was seeing Mary CASSATT. @Mathgent, I LOVE her paintings as well. Sometime ago, I bought a box of greeting cards with her paintings. My favorite was "Children Playing on the Beach." I would have them framed and give them to my family and friends as gifts. She captures the faces of children so beautifully.
@Kathy 8:12....With the no knead trend, I use my hands to mix all the ingredients together and plunk the covered dough in the microwave for 24 hours. The rest is the fun part of using your hands and, in my case, making little designs on the bread. I hope you find flour and yeast soon.....You can always freeze bread.
Do HEADS HOP when you run out of drugs?

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

I think it's metaphorically the worst theme ever.

57stratocaster 10:24 AM  

Record Tuesday time. Either I'm getting faster or the puzzles are getting easier... My wife tries the Monday, and says they are getting harder..hmmm.
I like a riddle here and there. Now and then. Not too many.

Barbara S. 10:26 AM  

Mary Cassatt was a free spirit. Against all social norms of the day (1860s), she decided to take herself off the marriage market, move to Paris (from Pittsburgh) and become an independent professional artist. Which she did, never married, proceeded to paint for a living for the next 60 years. She chafed against the prevailing norms in the art world too, and was discovered by Edgar Degas, who invited her to exhibit with the Impressionists. Revolutionary in her political views and as a painter and printmaker, she was personally quite conservative, so could never join in the cafe culture of her male colleagues, arguing about art and sloshing absinthe on the tabletops. But she had a successful career, mainly depicting women, and mothers interacting with children in domestic interiors. Her work share some similarities in subject matter with Renoir's, but I think she largely avoids the cloying sentimentality that I often find in his.

Whew, that was way too Art History 101, but it took me back to a previous career and was hard to stop!

xyz 10:30 AM  

rubbish puzzle and so nice to see a murderer included on a Tuesday

finally, a telephone does not need to be answered. That's so not happening.

Nancy 10:31 AM  

@Z -- Thanks for the riddle link. They're fun. Some I got, but for most I clicked on "show answer", being too lazy to spend a lot of time trying to figure it out. The best ones are at the beginning; I think they get weaker as they go on.

@Roo and @Lewis -- Z's link has so many potential riddle answers that you probably could create an entire crossword out of them. Easy for me to say, though, since I don't construct the grid. But it seems to me that more difficult obstacles have been overcome in grids when dealing with rebuses and other highly tricky themes. When all is said and done, the fill here would be just ordinary words. Worth a try, guys?

John R 10:34 AM  

I used my cell phone app for the first time to work this puzzle. I'm glad it was an easy one. The fill went quickly even on the small screen.

I have a Cassatt poster of "The Boating Party" that I bought at a garage sale about 30 years ago. It was printed for an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art (Sept 27th - Nov 8th, 1970). The Cassatt reference in the puzzle inspired me to search for the image on-line. I found one that looks identical to mine. It sold in 2017 for $15. Oh well, I love the picture anyway. It is still hanging in my house.

The Boating Party

Whitey 10:35 AM  

...I like riddles, Rex

Greg 10:38 AM  

The Tampa Bay Rays' Stadium (Tropicana Field) is located in the municipality of St. Petersburg. "Tampa Bay" refers loosely to the geographic area comprising the cities of Tampa, St Petersburg and Clearwater. While not technically incorrect to say TAMPABAY is "where the Rays play", it's a bit broad.

egsforbreakfast 10:43 AM  

I guess no one else noticed, or perhaps you are too polite to point out, that 17 A (what is it that rhe more you take, the more you leave behind?) might be a good clue for laxatives. Right number of letters.

@Z 8:51. Precious.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Lots of complaints about aitch but how else would you spell out the letter H?

Frantic Sloth 10:59 AM  

Well, I'm not an eight-year-old, but I play one in real life. And since that is stipulated, I can say that I liked this puzzle.

I also like riddles. They are a type of puzzle after all, so I find it strange that if one enjoys crosswords, one wouldn't also like a good riddle now and again.

Granted, the riddles in the grid aren't exactly the mind-bending kind, but I don't mind that - maybe because I "eight" so convincingly or maybe I haven't lost my sense of whimsy as poor Rex so clearly has.

Sure YOURBREATH as a stand-alone term is covered in GREEN PAINT, but it doesn't stand alone because, in this instance anyway, it's an answer to a riddle-de-dee.

Whatever. I enjoyed it.

Also liked seeing YEWS crossing YENS - only because I never seem to notice the Easter eggs so many here are adept at spotting. Here's hoping I can learn to do the same someday...

Riddle-me-this: What is fed up but never satisfied?* Right.

*Hint: the initials are R.E.X.

Frantic Sloth 11:03 AM  

@Z 851am. A heaping handfuls of comments? ;)

NB 11:04 AM  

This seemed fairly straightforward for a Tuesday... if I was American.

These words that made it more difficult than it should be: BOOYA, BUREAU, GROG and KICKBALL are easy enough to fill and guess, but HEADSHOP, neatnik, ORTHO, SASHAY and YENS were tough!

Frantic Sloth 11:11 AM  

@Debbie from HR 911am - Seems you worked in our HR dept. And my, you're generous - I used to say "roll of dimes" to a former co-worker.

ghthree 11:14 AM  

A shoutout to Joaquin at 9:05 and Nancy at 9:09:
Apparently, you both are pioneers.
I Binged "telephone etiquette"
(I don't Google any more.
I trust Microsoft marginally more than Google.
Your experience may be different.)
I have found almost nothing about "telephone etiquette"
applying to personal calls. It's practically all business.
I have often felt guilty not answering unsolicited business calls.
Now, thanks to the two of you, I feel better.
Maybe we should form a lobby. Any ideas?

Frantic Sloth 11:19 AM  

@GILL I. 1018am. HEADS HOP when they suffer from SLOP ITCH.

ghthree 11:20 AM  

I was just reminded of a classic limerick:
A divinity student named Fiddle
Refused to accept his degree.
He declared "Bad enough being Fiddle
without being Fiddle-DD!"

Ethan Taliesin 11:21 AM  

I like riddles.
A lot of the best misdirection-type crossword clues employ the same principle.
What's not to like?

webwinger 11:27 AM  

@Nancy 9:09 and @KittyContessa: For a fun take on BOOYA, check out the animated movie Minions. (Not to be confused with the very serious Minyan, about Jews in NYC.) Sort of a prequel to the excellent Despicable Me series, but can be appreciated on its own. Little seen by kid-free adults, it’s extremely clever and enjoyable for all ages. (I’d say watch in ThreeD if you can, but I know you can’t.)

@burtonkd et alii: Hopefully you’ve got this down by now, but if it’s still causing trouble, take a look at my profile, where, at the bottom (under the “random question”) I’ve placed a string of characters that can be copied and pasted into a post, containing the proper symbols and syntax for creating a live link. Then just select the word LINK and replace (Ctrl-V) with the url copied from your browser, and select the work TEXT and replace with the words you want to appear in blue as the clickable entry to the chosen website.

Carola 11:28 AM  

I'd always read "Riddle-me-ree...." This is one of my favorites:

In marble walls as white as milk,
Lined with a skin as soft as silk;
Within a fountain crystal clear,
A golden apple doth appear.
No doors there are to this stronghold,
Yet thieves break in and steal the gold.

Frantic Sloth 11:29 AM  

*handful. Nothing like an error to ruin a mediocre joke.

@Barbara S. 1026am. I enjoyed your art history piece. Never had absinthe - always wanted to try it.

@egsforbreakfast 1043am. Good one. Breakfast test? Pooh pooh.

I always thought BOOYA was a thing US Marines say --- at least, in the movies.

SB Clan - YesterBee (Hi, Roo!) was annoying. Missed QB by 2 - and what obnoxious words they were, too! Going to today's now...

jberg 11:33 AM  

I thought the theme was OK, except for TELEPHONE, for the reasons others have pointed out. But the fill, the fill! Not just crosswordese, but crosswordese with super-literal clues. Also, I've only seen BOOYA used ironically, but maybe that's just me.

I did like ASAP crossing RAPIDLY.

@Z @Debbie -- Mae West said pickle, but flashlight is good, too!

@Z and thanks for the link! My 8-year old grandson just got a Messenger-for-kids account, and has mostly been sending me snapchat-type distortions of his face. These will be useful.

albatross shell 11:39 AM  

One knows Rex does not like anagrams and riddles, so give him a pass there. Of course many crossword clues are riddles too, and I would say, most of them on Lewis's delightful Monday lists are riddles. Riddle de dee indeed is silly. And silliness is silly, but why is it bad? And the riddles were easy. Is Rex saying he would enjoy them more if they were harder?

What do you call it when a member of the Hebrew Faith who is born again?*

One place I think Rex was flat-out wrong was about the YOUR in YOURBREATH. Maybe the way the riddle was phrased "onesBREATH" would have been better, but something has to be there. BREATH by itself just doesn't make it as a good riddle answer.

NOAHS TELEPHONE, a John Prine song, maybe?
YOURBREATHSOME, a personal insult?
ZOOT CHALKBOARD, a hepcat's classroom?
FOOTSTEP SLURP, sound made by walking on a soaked shag carpet?
RAPIDLY SHUTEYE, conked out?
GAFF KASHA GNAT, truly weird gobbledygook.


rextorturer 11:45 AM  

Zoom meetings are passe now, are you not aware?

Masked and Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Liked the two-way themers. Don't see that too often, so a refreshin change-up.

@Roo: I pubbed a runtpuz a little like that a couple days ago on the runtpuz blog thingy. Not aware of any other all-questions clue puzs. [Anyhoo … see runtpuz linkage below.]

staff weeject pick: THU. Singular of thus.

The CHALKBOARD riddle was definitely my fave. Not familiar with "Riddle-de-dee". Puz was by Lee Taylor, so maybe it shoulda been "Riddle-de-Lee" … possibly a cluin change made by the editor, tho. At least it weren't "Riddle-de-Shortz".

Didn't know: CASSATT.

Thanx for the fun, Ms. Taylor darlin.

Masked & Anonym007Us

Not quite all riddles, but still …

Anonymous 11:56 AM  


skinheads, many ex-Marine, love to yell it. they live in Red states, don't social distance, carry AR-15s, and generally have no value. thankfully, their behavior will kill off a considerable number of them. who, then, can't vote for The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave).

Teedmn 12:10 PM  

I can't do riddles. As a kid, reading them, I would be in awe of the answers. I guess I don't do outside-the-box thinking. The Sphinx would have had me for lunch.

BUREAU - I used to remind myself how to spell that by mentally saying "Eat, ate, ut" for the last part (before I knew any French). But only today does it strike me as odd that that sound needs three vowels that have nothing to do with an "O" sound. Odd.

GAFF - If anyone else is exposed to the reality show, "Wicked Tuna" (my husband watches), please help me understand how the huge fish are killed by a single stab. Granted, they've been tired out by fighting the line and being reeled in, but they still look like they have so much energy, and then, bam, one slam of the gaff/harpoon, and they're being hauled into the boat tail-wise. Is it all in the show's editing, or is that kind of wound extremely FaTAL in fish?

Lee Taylor, thanks for the riddles.

JC66 12:34 PM  


The New York Yankees play in the Bronx & the New York Mets play in Queens.

Z 12:42 PM  

I’m more of a plantain sort of guy.

@albatross shell - wouldn’t that be “dejuvenation?”

As has been pointed out, wordplay is very closely related to riddles, so making the themes “riddles” seems incredibly thin to me. And then this set seems especially tired. So basically this is a Tuesday themeless with “?” clues for the long answers, and not the best possible set of clues for those “?” clues. And I’m with Rex, YOUR BREATH is green paint.

jae 12:58 PM  

Easy, just about as fast as yesterday’s which was a little on the tough side for a Mon. Grade school riddles can be fun if you haven’t heard them before, but these seemed familiar. Didn’t hate it.

Re: Phone answering. If your land line is provided by your cable company try installing nomorobo. The calls go away after one ring.

Re: SB - @Roo & Frantic - I missed it by 4 (I did get EPEE) and I pretty sure I only would have come up with one of the words I missed.

JC66 1:03 PM  

Hand up for missing EPEE, and two others I never heard of.

Malsdemare 1:11 PM  

I keep coming to the blog too late to add anything of significance. But I did try do SB and obviously my IQ has plunged to execrable levels. I can, on a good day, get maybe 15 words. Please tell me there's a trick I'm missing. I know, or at least hope, my vocabulary hasn't diminished. What the hell?

I'm going to have to look at @Z's riddles. I think they're a hoot and would like to share with my granddaughter.

GILL I. 1:23 PM  

@Z...Just curious. What made you show the plantains? I love them to death. I fry the green ones up at least once a month. "Platanos verde." I just made a batch of black beans and some Spanish pinchos morunos to go with my Cuban maduros....and bread - olive bread, to be exact....I like to go international!

Joaquin 1:26 PM  

@jae (12:58) has recommended "nomorobo" as a solution to unwanted robocalls. As a public service, I will second that recommendation. I have no association with this company except I have used their free service since it arrived a few years ago and it is superb. At least 90% of nuisance calls are blocked.

GILL I. 1:35 PM  

@Anony 11:56. I wish you hadn't included Marine's in your Red states, don't social distance and carry AR-15's. My son was in the Marine Corp for 20 years. He was deployed FIVE TIMES. He lives in red/blue New Mexico, doesn't carry any weapons and practices social distancing.
I realize you said some....be careful with your words.

albatross shell 1:47 PM  

@Z 1242pm
I would not presume to make a joke about Jews converting to Christianity. Well, I probably do not believe that either. But I would take care on a public forum. I did have a friend who resented Enangelicals always trying to convert him. He looked very much Jewish but when he wore his crescent moon and star earring he always got special attention from airport security and that was before 9/11. He told me a "completed Jews" were a highly prized by Evangelicals.. So to me the joke works better by using born again in a misleading way. Why shouldn't a Jew be reborn a Jew? Or just re-energized? An audio pun.
I use to tell my Jewish friends that I'd believe they were the superior race, if it wasn't for the Chinese. They laughed. Later I learned the Chinese were sometimes called the Jews of the Orient. I suppose one or both groups could take offense there. Better quit before I get in trouble.

I agree that in the grid YOURBREATH looks like green paint. In the context of a humorous answer to a riddle, it is not. To me, context matters in cases like this. Yes dull in the grid, not in the solve.

Richardf8 1:52 PM  

The Gamester is a trans dimensional omnipotent being in the Web Comic General Protection Fault who I would expect to say something like riddle-de-dee.

Pamela 2:14 PM  

So I’m 8. I think it was cute. Definitely a throwback to another time- when I was young, maybe? Or centuries or however long ago, when riddles were an adult pastime. Easy and pleasant. And it’s only Tuesday, after all.

Growing up in my house, I kept my clothes in a BUREAU, and I knew how to spell it. My father used a CHIFFONIER.* It’s only years later, in NY, that dresser became my default.

A couple of slowdowns: TAMPAfla, crossing aye instead of YEA, kept HEADSHOP from appearing a soon as it should have. A couple of years on Beacon Hill in the 60’s made that a familiar reference. Even though I think they came into existence a few years after I left, that’s where I tuned in and turned on, even though I never even considered dropping out.

Also, my SLOB was so sloppy that B looked like P, so for what seemed like the longest time I pondered over KICKp__L. paiL? pooL? Far-fetched, even for an 8 year-old.

@burtonkd, thanks for the link. I know Kramer, but must have missed the BOOYA episodes. Never heard of it.

* A chiffonier, also chiffonnier, may be used to describe at least two types of furniture. Its name comes directly from a French piece of furniture, the chiffonier. The French name, which comes from the French for a rag-picker, suggests that it was originally intended as a receptacle for odds and ends which had no place elsewhere.
In British usage, a chiffonier is similar to a sideboard, but differentiated by its smaller size and by the enclosure of the whole of the front by doors. Wikipedia

jae 2:20 PM  

@Mals - No trick that I know of. I find that putting it down for a while helps...that plus lots of staring.

Richardf8 2:29 PM  

I’ve run into it a few times in just the past few years. Quite understandable if you’ve repressed it, though. It’s not the sort of thing one would walt to remember.

Barbara S. 2:36 PM  

I did manage EPEE yesterday but missed a couple of long words that ended in double E that I wouldn't have got if I'd stared at the letters for a month. But I also missed APEX -- yikes! No excuse. Don't you find that it's very useful to remember words from previous puzzles, if you can. Otherwise they come back to haunt you.

Richardf8 2:36 PM  

My first thought was less polite than yours, but also only five letters.

Pamela 2:53 PM  

Now I see that I missed much more than Kramer. Oh, well. Can’t get to everything.

Swagomatic 2:53 PM  

Yeah, maybe a little corny, but I like corn. Two pencils up.

I solved on my phone, because our wifi was out, and it was much easier/faster than my Kindle. Who knew?

OffTheGrid 2:54 PM  

@Malsdemare. RE: SB, I don't know that there's any trick. Do you use the shuffle function? That helps me sometimes.

Pamela 3:03 PM  

How odd. I just spent far too long finding, editing and adding a profile photo so that I can turn blue, and came back to see that it had already happened! I have no idea when or how. I’ve had a gmail account for years, but when I came here I still had to jump the Captcha hurdle to post more often than not- including for my earlier entry, which is now the proper color. Hmmm...

Bill L. 3:35 PM  

Just sharing an observation here: I've been working from home for about a year now, so well before the lock down started. Work related calls are always to my cell phone. My land line (not provided by the cable company) used to ring often throughout the day with robocalls. Since the lock down began I haven't received a single robocall. I find this odd but welcome. The worst one was the Red Cross asking for blood donations. I donate a pint regularly but they called every single day and it was maddening.

egsforbreakfast 3:36 PM  

Anyone notice that there are 2 mistakes today on nytbee.com in the Length of Words chart?

I’m amazed how many times in SB I’ll be into the Amazing category, or even Genius before noticing a straightforward 4 letter word like epee or apex.

Ernonymous 3:43 PM  

@bill i got 15 spammer calls to my cell phone yesterday. One of the things I've been saying is Covid hasn't stopped the phone spanners. Maybe they lost your number, let's hope so!

Anonymous 4:00 PM  

I thought this was a Dell puzzle, it was so easy. I did Dell puzzles when I was a teenager and moved on to NYT puzzles when I was 20 years old, so I didn’t enjoy this puzzle very much.

Malsdemare 4:07 PM  

@JAE, offthe grid. Thanks for answering. I didn't know there was a shiffle function, but now I do and that helped a little. I used to GOOD at Scrabble; guess that ship has sailed.

Anonymous 4:19 PM  

I've seen "AITCH" in print as a Britishism.

He has a Cockney accent - he drops his aitches.

Z 4:29 PM  

I'd wear these.

@albatross shell - One of those "I hope they laugh but I'm ducking in case somebody throws a rotten tomato at my head" lines.

Old Actor 4:47 PM  

SB report: I've only played 3 days and hit GENIUS today! Scored 93, 88 was genius.
What a day. I ordered a $50 face mask on Face Book a month ago and it didn't come. Thought I'd been screwed so I ordered 50 masks from Amazon. They arrived today along with, guess what? The FB mask and it's a piece of crap! So I guess I WAS screwed after all.

RooMonster 4:52 PM  

Uh-oh. I checked on nytbee.com and am three words short. What was the error @egs? Not that it would matter. I doubt I'll get those last three.
Embarrassing to say, though, I got a word by looking at a part of that site. #cheat 😀

RooMonster Inadvertent Cheating Guy

JC66 5:06 PM  


If you want to cheat, you can use this.

Just make sure to enter all the letters twice and put the middle letter in the "contains" box.

Z 5:27 PM  

@Giovanni - There is probably some sort of call blocking functionality on your cell phone. It took about 2 months of blocking numbers but now I almost never get spam calls on my cell phone. I see some others recommending specific apps - just google your OS and call blocking and you will find something that works. You may have something that came on your phone already, too.

@Gill I 1:23 - See @Debbie in HR and @jberg. I will let you ponder how we got from a Lord of the Rings allusion to a "the guy in white pants on the back cover of the first platinum Journey album" allusion.

Barbara S. 6:09 PM  

This is an attempt to post a link based on @webwinger's instructions. If it fails -- ignore.


JC66 6:25 PM  

@Barbara S

Mazel Tov!

Ernonymous 6:28 PM  

@z thanks I will look into that. Most of the calls are marked as
"spam caller" by the phone but it still rings. I've been blocking numbers too, but there are millions of them. I just got a new phone and twice while I was on the phone, spam calls came in, and I kept pressing the Hangup button and it didn't work. I was on the phone with the vet and during that she couldn't hear me! But I couldn't hang it up. Maybe I can find a more useful app than what came with the phone.

Barbara S. 6:41 PM  

Thanks @JC66 and @webwinger! I'll never answer to the name "Luddite" again!

I think that line, "Do you have a [whatever] in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" originated with Mae West and I was hoping it might be on this highlight reel. It isn't, but she says so many other hilarious things that I thought it was worth posting anyway. And now I can!

pabloinnh 6:45 PM  

@SBPlayers-I think I started playing this when they closed everything, which was, I think, a year ago. Anyway, I got to the Genius level on my first try and stopped looking for words after that, because I had no desire to be smarter than a genius, and I had pegged the counting thing. Also, probably couldn't think of any more words. I have managed the G ever since and always stop there, although the QB prize is enticing, and I may hit it some day. I've gotten to within one.

This is a long way of asking, is the SB more fun than the XW? Oh oh.

egsforbreakfast 7:33 PM  

@Roo Monster 4:52. The nytbee mistakes are that they say there are two 8 letter words and three 7s. In fairness, the numbers are flipped, but the correct words show up in their official answers section.

Monty Boy 9:43 PM  

I liked this one a lot. I like riddles, but then I'm 8 years old going on 75.

Several comments:
Mary Cassatt is included among the artists in David McCullough's book "The Greater Journey, Americans in Paris" as well as a lot of other interesting people (e.g. Samuel F. B. Morse). A great read.

Sheldon in "Big Bang Theory" uses Booya a lot.

My iPhone lets me send all calls not in my contact list to voice mail. I tell my students to send me a text and I'll call them back. You get some interesting voice mails, or you can just ignore them. About 1 in 50 are from legit callers and I can reply quickly.

Frantic Sloth 9:44 PM  

@Bill L 335pm. I've noticed the same thing and can only hope it will last!

@jae 1258 I tried signing up with nomorobo and never received the confirmation email (checked all filters, too), so who knows? I'll probably try again when the calls return to haunt me. Thanks for the tip!
Thanks to @Joaquin 126pm for the additional endorsement.

@Roo 452pm and other SBers I wouldn't feel too bad about "cheating" -- I do it regularly! Only twice (and in the past week) have I attained QB without some form of "assistance" and today I got the last 2 words by reading "Doug" (1 from 1st letter counts and 1 from word lengths). I don't believe in self-imposed guilt - I had nuns for that. ;)

Z 10:00 PM  

@Giovanni - I will bet there’s a setting that will send a “spam caller” straight to voicemail.

FearlessKim 10:36 AM  

I’m astonished that Rex didn’t mention the racist implications of the CHALKBOARD riddle; ie, black is dirty and white is clean, so the chalkboard is somehow an oddity? Ugh.

AmyCrawfish 1:32 PM  

Fun, some answers made me smile when I got them after a second of thinking. Finished with my morning coffee. Glad to see I wasn't the only one who had fun (except Rex lol)

rondo 9:45 AM  

Monday called and wants its degree of difficulty back. Completed this puz RAPIDLY. So did YEWS.

In this neck of the woods BOOYA is a hearty stew found in church basements and VFW halls each fall. Right before the lutefisk dinners start.

Used to love me the random HEADSHOP/record store.

What more to say? The END.

Burma Shave 10:29 AM  


Each HOUR I feel YOURBREATH so steady,
a YEW LIE, awaiting my ATTACK,
it MAY prevent ANEW SOLOACT.


spacecraft 10:33 AM  

THAT's what's wrong with OFC: he needs to reconnect with his inner child! These are not Earth-shatteringly clever riddles, but they'll do. It's an extraneous bit of fun outside of the actual puzzle-solve. We're getting more of this lately--and it's most welcome at our apartment.

This puzzle has been brought to you by the letters AITCH and Y (WHY? WYE?)--8 times each. I knew you'd want to know. ASAP crosses RAPIDLY. And we have a visitor from the planet Triskelion: 25 down. It is from there that I pluck my DOD: Angelique Pettijohn as the Kirk girl of the piece. I bet 100 quatloos @rondo would agree.

Nice fill, if you look past the RRNT (random Roman-numeraled tsar). Birdie.

Diana, LIW 12:14 PM  

OK OK - I'm sure you know this. But...

Q - Why was 6 afraid of 7?

A - Because he heard that 7 8 9.

Get it - huh? - get it?

This was easier (for me) than Tuesday. Then again, I'm still recovering from Crazy Sunday. And haven't come near to recovering from crazy reality.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for

WYE? Because we LIKE you! (Hi Mouseketeers)

Music Fan 1:11 PM  

Thanks for the link to the 1989 song My Telephone from Coldcut. Pretty cool tune from a band I've never heard of. And they've been creating albums as recently as 2017!

rondo 1:18 PM  

Wow @spacey, I coulda never reached that far. Triskelion, eh?

leftcoaster 3:05 PM  

Not spectacular, but a solid and workmanlike Tuesday.

The riddle theme is a simple one that does its assigned duty.

KASHA and CASSATT were unknowns needing crosses.

Not bad at all.

rainforest 3:24 PM  

Possibly Monday and Tuesday got switched this week, but this one did just fine. The riddles riddled and the fill filled. What more could you ask for? I appreciated the different sort of theme, and the decent construction here.

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