Classic comics rallying cry / WED 6-10-20 / Angrily abandon video game / Boundary marking limits of black hole / The ___ Erwin Show 1950s sitcom

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Constructor: Amanda Rafkin and Ross Trudeau

Relative difficulty: Easy (3:58 on an oversized 16x15 grid)

THEME: AVENGERS, ASSEMBLE! (62A: Classic comics rallying cry ... or a hint to 18-, 30- and 49-Across) — names of three different Avengers embedded in the themers:

Theme answers:
  • ASSISTANT MANAGER (18A: Second-in-charge, as at a restaurant)
  • EVENT HORIZON (30A: Boundary marking the limits of a black hole)
  • THROW A SPIRAL (49A: Toss the pigskin perfectly)

Word of the Day: The Avengers (62A) —
The Avengers are a fictional team of superheroes appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The team made its debut in The Avengers #1 (cover-dated Sept. 1963), created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist/co-plotter Jack Kirby. The Avengers is Lee and Kirby's renovation of a previous superhero team, All-Winners Squad, who appeared in comic books series published by Marvel Comics' predecessor Timely Comics.
Labeled "Earth's Mightiest Heroes", the Avengers originally consisted of Ant-Man, the HulkIron ManThor, and the Wasp. Ant-Man had become Giant-Man by issue #2. The original Captain America was discovered trapped in ice in issue #4, and joined the group after they revived him. A rotating roster became a hallmark of the series, although one theme remained consistent: the Avengers fight "the foes no single superhero can withstand." The team, famous for its battle cry of "Avengers Assemble!", has featured humans, mutantsInhumans, deitys, androids, aliens, legendary beings, and even former villains. (wikipedia)
• • •

This concept is cool, and the revealer is a nice touch (it's also the reason the puzzle is 16-wide). But the thing about the Avengers is that it's a rotating group of characters, so having three feels bizarre. It's a random sampling of three, meaningless as a set (i.e. there's no incarnation of Avengers that is just these three). There is the original set of five Avengers, and it would've been super-cool to see the original band get back together, but a. that would require a bigger, possibly a Sunday-sized puzzle, and b. good luck embedding either HULK or IRON-MAN inside a longer phrase. SHUL KID? HAIR ON MANDIBLE? I don't think the Ideal of this theme is attainable. So we have this, which feels light. Like a meeting with so many absentees that you don't really have a quorum so everyone goes home and you send out one of them Doodle polls to see if you can find a time slot where *everyone* can meet. Like that. Like the idea, like the revealer, saddened by the weak turnout. Also saddened by THROW A SPIRAL, which is definitely a member in good standing of the EAT A SANDWICH Society (dedicated to spreading "[blank] A [blank]" chaos throughout griddom). The fill was just fine, maybe a little above average, with RAGEQUIT (11D: Angrily abandon a video game) ("... or crossword puzzle," it might have added) and BEATBOXERS (9D: Vocal percussionists) being the real highlights.

[I know this isn't the Avengers in question, just roll with it]

First themer I got was EVENT HORIZON and immediately thought, "Oh, sh*t, I made this puzzle before!" Actually, the puzzle I made had Norse gods in it (THOR, ODIN, LOKI ... I forget the last one ... TYR? HEL?). That puzzle was rejected by Patrick Berry back when he was editing the Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle (that rejection was so thoughtful and taught me a lot about the difference between elegant and merely good). It was rejected largely on the grounds that he'd run something similar recently, but I didn't do anything with it. Then the same theme turned up in the NY Sun, in a puzzle made by Joon Pahk. I think I called it "Divine Intervention." Or maybe that's what Joon / Peter Gordon called their version. The whole reason I made my version of that theme was because I had heard that Shortz had never (at that time) heard of HELLO KITTY, that he had in fact told a veteran constructor (female) that that answer was not well known enough to be in the grid. This was in the late '00s (... ... ... ?). So I was like "Must ... Make ... HELLO KITTY ... Puzzle!" And I noticed that HELLO KITTY had LOKI embedded in it, and bam, a theme idea was born. (A NYT version of this theme eventually appeared; you can read about it here) Side note: LOKI is the antagonist in the very first Avengers story arc. Where was I? Oh, right, the THOR answer ... but then I got the ANTMAN answer and it turned out not to be a Norse gods puzzle at all. Which is probably for the best.

Trouble spots:
  • 3D: Cover, as a car (INSURE) — definitely did not grasp the idiomatic meaning of "cover" here
  • 15A: Dubliner's land (EIRE) — guessed wrong (ERIN), ugh
  • 41A: Comedian Martin (DEMETRI) — I know his name, but man do I not know how to spell it. I wanted more "I"s for sure
  • 32D: Rise from bed or drop to one's stomach (HIT THE DECK) — I absolutely do not know the meaning of this phrase as it relates to the first part of this clue. Rise from bed!? Yeesh. Also, I was somehow thinking "drop to one's stomach" had something to do with a sinking feeling *in* one's stomach ... or eating something heavy, maybe (??)
  • 38D: Affect in a distant, menacing way (LOOM OVER) — also the answer to the question, "Hey, who moved my loo?"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:12 AM  

Seemed like another Tuesday to me. My knowledge of The Avengers is just a bit less than my knowledge of quantum physics yet I blew through this in no time at all; must have been super easy.

Or, as it is said in Croswordians 3:18-19, "One man's Natick is another man's wheelhouse."

Greg 12:28 AM  

“Hit the deck” is an order by a drill sergeant to perform a number of sit-ups.

Greg 12:32 AM  

“Hit the deck” is an order from a drill instructor to perform a number of pushups, usually as punishment.

the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד 12:33 AM  

I know almost no football, but I think I recall that THROW A SPIRAL is a thing.

Frantic Sloth 12:38 AM  

If there is a dopier rallying cry than AVENGERSASSEMBLE, then I sure as cheese don't know what it is. Now that calls to mind a NERDPROM.

Obviously that's not a criticism of the puzzle itself, which was okay. This seems to be the week of appropriate-for-the-day puzzles and this one was no exception.

Never heard of RAGEQUIT. Then again, I'm not a tweenaged boy and I don't attend NERDPROMs, so I got no fomo about that.

I'm always impressed when someone finds a picture in the grid (Hi, @Lewis!) so I've decided to try make an effort to do the same.

Nuthin'. Am I blind or is there nothing to see? 😕


Alex 12:38 AM  

Probably my fastest ever Wednesday. About 8 minutes, which was lightning for me. Only thing that threw me was One Meter. Why does America have its own spelling for a unit they don't use?? Found it quite fun, but over all too quick.

Tale Told By An Idiot 1:13 AM  

Stu ambled toward Pete and began to loom over him. “Can you afford to shop here” Stu asked. “That denim jacket is made for the Malibu crowd.” Suddenly, Pete had had it with the assumptions. He rage quit the store and ran. He is fast and agile; In his mind he is in the pros, about to throw a spiral to win the super bowl. But the stupid assistant manager sees only Pete’s color and assumes that he is part of the rabble, that he is not an Izod man.

“Avengers, assemble!” Pete calls. “No more ‘cooler heads’ allowed!” Demetri and Emma join Pete, then others, and the group begins to grow. “We are almost at the event horizon” says Pete, “the very point of no return.”

And then Pete thinks of his mama and his nana and all the people who are so very tired of the constant struggle for dignity but who do not want war. He decides he will try one more time. He takes a knee.

Let us all hope that this time, at long last, it brings us all back from that point of no return.

jae 1:58 AM  

Easy-medium. My biggest nanosecond loss was guessing the wrong instrument with a sound box. Pretty smooth with a bit of zip. Liked it.

@ Rex - I knew HIT THE DECK because I spent some time in the Navy in the ‘60s.

GHarris 2:01 AM  

Frankly don't know what Rex was smoking when he constructed that theme discussion. Also found it easy having read all of the black hole descriptions so poetically written by Dennis Overby in the NYTimes and so knew all about event horizons. I've composed several cosmic poems by borrowing from Overby's graphic and lyrical language in his scientific news accounts. Also had to change "aged" to "drab" as the answer to "gray". That tells you where my head is, pun intended.

GHarris 2:06 AM  


A black hole, the corpse of a star that died and collapsed,
Becomes a gravitational pit so dense that even light
Cannot escape. It devours smaller stars pulled
Into a one-way passage to eternity. The star being fed
Upon first traverses a hot doughnut of doom that
Swirls around the hole’s edge like water circling a drain.
As it feeds the hole, like a cosmic pop gun, propels
Puffs of light across space, a brute force strewing
Wreckage and change across an unforgiving universe.

jae 2:11 AM  

...and I knew STU Erwin because I watched the show in the ‘50s.

Coniuratos 2:18 AM  

I saw ANTMAN first, so the theme fell in pretty quickly. Light and easy - maybe a little too much so for a Wednesday. Fine, though.

If HIT THE DECK means "get out of bed" anywhere, I'd think the most likely culprit is the Navy. And I can't recall ever hearing it used like that in six years in the Navy.

Seabee Pete 2:20 AM  

On a Navy ship, when you "rise from bed" you "HIT THE DECK". (Of course, you also Hit the Deck when you are topside and your ship is being strafed by enemy aircraft, but that's not the clue used in this puzzle.)

chefwen 2:41 AM  

This was a little on the tough side for me. Found the WASP and the ANT and thought we were going for bugs, had no idea how THOR fit in. Finally figured out 62A, AHA comic books! Never read any of the AVENGER books, I was more of a Archie and Jughead, Little Lulu reader.

Also ran into difficulty with the A.D.H.D drug, tried a couple that I thought were right, but it was purely a guessing game with the drug and spelling, had no idea. Finally got it right through the crosses. Thought I would have to consult Uncle Google, but preserved and finished without. Hate to cheat on a Wednesday.

ChuckD 6:09 AM  

Quick Wednesday - like Rex enjoyed the theme just thought it was incomplete. Fill was solid overall - RABBLE and AMBLED adjacent and IDLOVETO stood out for me. We seem to be seeing TAFT in various references lately. THROW A SPIRAL is a little used phrase but still valid.

Lewis 6:37 AM  

When I took a post-solve grid perusal, I felt like I hit the mother LODE:
* Very appropriate that the KNEE is dropped.
* A backward DENIM goes well with LODE.
* DENMARK reminded me of Hamlet's "Something is rotten in the state of DENMARK", and it is crossed by BARD, albeit backward.
* Right above EVENT HORIZON is TARS, that is, an already dissembling STAR.
* DENIM connects to DIEM, which connects to DEMI, the latter two being anagrams, both an N short of DENIM itself.

The grid had spark and freshness, with answers like EVENT HORIZON and LOOM OVER and the debuts BEAT BOXER and THROW A SPIRAL. Evidence of good editing: Giving DENIM, which crossed DEMETRI in fuzzy-vowel-zone, an easy clue. Don't know much about the AVENGERS but still found the theme fun. So, overall, a blast, and thank you, Amanda and Ross.

amyyanni 7:13 AM  

While I got it from the downs, never heard of an Event Horizon. Just spent some time reading about them. So I learned a lot before 7 am. Not an Avengers fan, but fun solve. Love BEATBOXERS.

Ann Howell 7:16 AM  

A rather quick Wednesday, with the only snag being 38D where I had LORD OVER, which screwed up the crosses. Also agree that the HIT THE DECK clue was a little off.

pabloinnh 7:21 AM  

I'm always amused when OFL asks the "why these and not some other ones" question about answers that are part of themers. I guess the answer is the same answer to the cosmic question Why? which is of course, Why not?

Solved this one going NE to SE for some reason and found the ASSEMBLE part of the revealer which made going back and looking for the AVENGERS a nice little treasure hunt. The Ritalin clue reminded me of a very nice young woman I had in a Spanish class who did indeed have problems with ADHD and tended to lose focus. I told her if that was happening I would use the cue word "ARDILLA!" (squirrel) to bring her back. Those of you who have seen Up! will understand that one.

I thought this was a great little Wednesday with some fresh stuff. Nice job, AR and RT. Thanks for the fun.

Hungry Mother 7:26 AM  

I don’t particularly follow the Avengers, but this one was Tuesdayish in difficulty.

kitshef 7:43 AM  

I’ve been sorting through many boxes of comics bought by my sister an me, mostly from the 1970s-1980s, so the theme was nicely timed. At the beginning of that period, WASP was married to ANT-MAN.

Having ANT MAN break at the same place as the supplying phrase is inelegant. You could say that to throw a spiral is a gridIRON MANeuver.

@Frantic Sloth - you missed THOR's lightning bolt running upper left to lower right.

kitshef 7:46 AM  

I'm the son of rage and love
The Jesus of Suburbia
The bible of
None of the above
On a steady diet of
Soda pop and RITALIN
No one ever died for my sins
In hell
As far as I can tell
At least the ones I got away with

OffTheGrid 8:17 AM  

Puzzles this week have been boring. Not necessarily easy, but just flat.

GILL I. 8:36 AM  

Oof, oof. and oof. I sound like @pablo's ARDILLA. Talk about an outhouse. I mean I had ASS MANAGER and AVENGERS ASS and could not get the rest. I mean I couldn't even figure out how you toss a poor pig.
I'm so happy DENMARK has a monarchy that has lasted for a thousand years and boy, thank you ARM and your partner for being in the supermarket.
Pitchforks are RABBLE? Couldn't you clue it with mighty Poseidon? You RAGE QUIT over a video game?I RAGE QUIT in the kitchen when I pull out the seasoning drawer and can't find the damn coriander and I have about 3 of those floating around.
BEAT BOXERS? Couldn't you clue that with some yodeling? And by the way, baby's first words are usual PAPA. Much easier to say.
So...Yikes for moi. I did get her done without my best friend, but hoo boy.....I guess I'll have to get caught up on my AVENGERS.
@GHarris...I like your cosmic poem - especially the "hot doughnut of doom." That's me to a tee......

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

Trying a little too hard on the lightning bolt thing.

LeaveItToYourGoat 8:53 AM  

I sussed out ASSISTANT MANAGER off of just A_S, and bam there's ANT MAN staring at me, so I got the theme right away. Today was one of those days where almost all of the longer entries seemed to be right in my wheelhouse. DENMARK, RITALIN, and BEAT BOXERS just fell right into place, and EVENT HORIZON was a satisfying entry to drop in there.

Excessively gory horror movies and punny visual comedy are two of my guilty pleasures, so the sight of ELI ROTH next to DEMETRI Martin convinced me that this puzzle was made for me.

I'm voting to deny THROW A SPIRAL membership in the EAT A SANDWICH Society, due to it being a theme answer in this puzzle. Plus it gives a shout-out to all of our White Anglo-Saxon Protestant friends out there.

I play lots of video games, but the last time I RAGE QUIT something was when trying to solve one of Matt Gaffney's meta puzzles. Sometimes that guy's brilliance astounds me.

Colin 8:53 AM  

The only Avengers I really knew (and loved) were John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Emma Peel (Diana Rigg). And that theme, combining harpsichord, horns, and strings!!

Nancy 9:13 AM  

Good grief. All my most favorite puzzle things -- not. Squooshed squares. Annoying tiny little embedded circles that are irrelevant to the solve. And a puzzle built around a bunch of comic strip characters I don't know and don't want to know. Not that I would have known they were there if the constructors hadn't told me. But they did tell me. Awful.

Z 9:14 AM  

I don't think it is possible to come up with a theme topic I am less interested in. I walked out of Spiderman 2 back in..what?... 2004?... and haven't watched a Marvel movie since. I'm aware of it all, pretty much impossible given the topics and modern culture I am interested in tend to overlap, but it is all derivative claptrap wrapped up in explosions. Yawn. On an objective level, the puzzle is fine. Three hidden themers broken across at least two words, decent enough theme phrases (I hear Rex's "verb A noun" plaint), and there's not a surfeit of junky short fill. If you are into the AVENGERS this is a good puzzle, just not my cuppa.

PPP is hovering right around the 33% line. If you include the three theme answers it is over, if you don't it is not. Either 24 of 78 or 27 of 78 (31% or 35%). For the newer readers around here, when the pop culture, product names, and other proper nouns in the puzzle are more than 33% of the answers we tend to see wheelhouse/outhouse comments (the puzzle will be easier than usual or harder than usual depending on the solvers familiarity with the PPP).

Two writeovers gobbled precious nanoseconds, hAtEQUIT and REtROS. If you had asked me eho ELI ROTH was I'd have stared blankly and then guessed something about IRA's. Fortunately for me I had everything but the I before I ever really read the clue. The writeovers slowed me the most, so I'd say easy-medium here. The STU clue got the "what century is this" side eye.

@Kitshef - No link?

Conrad 9:15 AM  

Wanted adderall for the ADHD medication. It doesn't fit but I didn't know the spelling and we could easily do without one of the d's or l's. I don't remember if it was EMMA or KNOX that got me on the right track.

For a puzzle like this, the NYT online Web version shouldn't have the circled squares; they should become highlighted after the puzzle is filled correctly. So you'd be going along as if it were a themeless and then when you finish the theme snaps into place. Aha!

William of Ockham 9:16 AM  

Not much of a puzzle, amazed how gentle Rex is on it. Maybe the constructors are HisFriends? WHA? (ooops, WSJ spoiler/wrong puzzle)

Three lame-a$$characters with circles crossing joined words in the long themers that are fillintheblank easy. WOW!

32D I knew the first but not the second part of the clue so Rex and me together - A-OK.
BEATBOXERS - cool beans.
RAGEQUIT (Seriously?) and RITALIN should have crossed each other, poor affluenza child is all I can think.

Not much love here today for this mongrel. Just what is up at NYT Puzzledumb? I mean Puzzledom?

QuasiMojo 9:16 AM  

We got EMMA but no PEEL.

Hohum. I noticed the theme early on but had never heard of the WASP. I also had the NORM before NOUN which slowed me way down.

I never understood the fascination with comic books and superheroes. Nor Sci-fi monsters with LASERS, for that matter. I much preferred reading about real life heroes and heroines. And reading good writers of whom I would add Tale Told by an Idiot. I hope you are penning short stories in real life, not just riffs here.

I suppose it's COOLER to have names of movie directors and comedians in a grid than actual wordplay. But not for me. These puzzles of late are namedropping bores.

Preppies wore Lacoste. Izod was a sister brand.

RooMonster 9:25 AM  

Hey All !
I'm gonna raise some ires by saying this was a TuesPuz on the wrong day. Throw away YesterPuz and plunk this one in its place. Perfect!

An AVENGERS theme puz deserves a SunPuz grid, you could conceivably put in about 8-10 AVENGERS. Just sayin'.

I know about The Avengers TV show. That was different than the AVENGERS comics. Two different things with the same name. There was even an Avengers movie made in 1998 about the TV show with Ralph Fiennes as John Steed and puz-favorite Uma Thurman as Emma Peel. Can't we live in a world where we all can enjoy both franchises?

Speaking of movies, EVENT HORIZON was also a movie, though about a spaceship (in the future, man made spaceship) disappeared for a bit, ends up being found and ends up being "alive" evilly and makes people crazy and they kill each other. Something like that anyway. ☺️

I liked this puz, noticed the 16 wide grid, so brain still functioning. Laughed at Rex's LOO MOVER joke. Took forever to parse FORESEE, I was like "What is FOR ESEE?" Good stuff.

**SB Ramblings**
YesterBee had lots of stuff. Im impressed by youse who had 48 or 49 words. I ended up with 45, and was 6 short. Should've gotten three more, possibly four more, but the ole brain was mush by 45.

**SB Over**

Double letter count? Seems high -ish.

One F (better than none!)
J and Y from pangram. (Unusual for a Y to be missing)

pmdm 9:25 AM  

Normally I am on a much different wavelength than Ross, but I quite enjoyed this puzzle. Perhaps because, based on the constructors' comments, the puzzle really came from Rafkin. Even though I never watched The Avengers and don't know anything about it.

Did anyone else notice that yesterday one of the crossword entries (OPEN A CAN OF WORDS) was a REPRO of a Jeopardy! answer? (Well, that may not be quite the word, but ...) I notice coincidences like that.

Back to today. I would have preferred posting a video of one of the movements to The Planets to the original Avengers theme (which sound datedly brassy, harsh to my ears.) Not a complaint, just a thought.

Petsounds 9:39 AM  

@Colin: I'm with you! My mind goes instantly to John Steed and Mrs. Peel whenever I hear "avengers," which I hear much too often these days.

No interest in (or knowledge of) the comic book characters who inhabit most of our movie theatres these days. Like @LeaveIttoYourGoat, I got ASSISTANTMANAGER very fast and saw ANTMAN in the circles, but unlike him/her, I still had no idea what the theme was.

I thought "throw a spiral" was how you throw a football, not a measure of how perfect the throw is.

Overall, meh.

Nancy 9:41 AM  

Wow. This (to me) clunker of a puzzle has sparked a lot of genuine creativity on today's blog -- namely from @GHarris, @kitshef and @Tale Told, who today seems to be writing from the heart rather than the funny bone. I guess if the puzzle's done all that, it can't be so bad after all. Anyway, nice work, everyone.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Tighty whities beat boxers.

bauskern 9:48 AM  

@ QuasiMojo Yes, I had the very same thought. Lacoste was the preppy (and more costly) brand. Izod was sort of a Target ripoff.
Look, you knew from the get-go that Rex was going to salivate over this puzzle. It had comic book figures as a theme, and it was easy for a Wednesday. Almost as if the constructors had designed it specifically for his approval. Rex was so pleased that he actually posted his time!
I loved the AVENGERS as a kid; I still recall the episode when Mrs. Peel left. I wound up watching the originals @ the start of the virus/shut-in, and sadly, they have not aged well!
I will never criticize the constructors who I think do an amazing job, but subject-wise I had really no interest in the theme. I think I outgrew my comic book days 50 years ago.

Ethan Taliesin 9:51 AM  

I really, really, REALLY think the whole superhero trope is dumb. I find it so bad it's offensive and cannot for the life of me understand its appeal with adults. There is something I find pathetic about being into costumed, musclebound characters with superpowers flying around, having fights, and smashing things. I wonder if it comes from a place adjacent to the impotent incel in a mobility scooter who fetishizes guns and pictures of guns and youtube videos about guns.

Anyway, this superhero stuff triggers me.

It's like how Rex might feel if a puzzle featured Trump appointees.

ZERO stars from me.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Tighty whities beat boxers.

But really, “ragequit” and “beatboxers” are not words.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

We’ve arrived. Peak Rex. Or, really, pique Rex. Most of the write up is devoted to puzzles like today’s but not actually about today’s. Best part, admitting he grudge constructed a puzzle out of well, I assume spite, jealousy and pettiness.
My favorite part is his analysis of the puzzle aBerry rejects. It was good ( he says) just not elegant.
Whatever you say Mike.

Banya 10:00 AM  

I had similar thoughts. It was nice that Antman & Wasp were both in the grid since they're partners - But Thor felt like an outlier. I feel like this might have been a good Sunday puzzle. There are tons of Avengers out there - but I agree, it'd hard to fit them into larger words/phrases.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

Sounds like your problem is maturity. And taste. There’s simply no room for either in today’s Multiplex.



Every moronic but obscenely rich movie exec in the world.

Kathy 10:03 AM  

This puzzle must have been easy because it was light years out of my wheelhouse yet I had no trouble with it. I have zero interest in action comic books or superheros, but the outhouses, even the proper names, were gettable by crosses. When I finished I exited, then quickly returned because I realized that I hadn’t bothered to suss out the themers while I was solving. I took note of the circled words and said “meh.”

@Joaquin and @Nancy summed up my sentiments perfectly.

egsforbreakfast 10:10 AM  

Hey LOO MOVER! When you shift the toilet, don’t leave a DEN MARK, for I AM BLED dry and still need to BE AT BOXERS fundraiser! I may just find myself AT A STE Jeanne d’Arc celebration instead.

Tom R 10:21 AM  

Assistant manager? What's that got to do with a restaurant. I SOO wanted Assistant Maitre'd. Wouldn't that be more eloquent? Oh well.

CaryinBoulder 10:36 AM  

First off: @Tale Told By an Idiot, you were on fire today. Beautiful and timely.

This definitely seemed like a big Tuesday. In fact, my time was five minutes better than yesterday. Like many here, i have no interest in Marvel superheroes. I may have read some comics when I was in college a couple generations ago (at least). I always thought they were pretty cheezy but they are hard to avoid in the culture at large. So little problem sussing these out.

My immediate thought at LOOM OVER was il Douché’s 2016 debate performance when he stalked Hillary around the stage. His intimidation game has become a tired trope at this point for anyone not swimming in the Koolaid, so AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! We need all of you on board between now and November.

Z 10:36 AM  

@bauskern - Did you read past the first two sentences? Nothing from I don't think the Ideal of this theme is attainable. So we have this, which feels light. on can be construed as "Rex salivating."
@bauskern & @Quasimojo - your IZOD/Lacoste comments made no sense to me, but then the last time I thought about them they were the same thing. The closest I have in my closet now is some Jack Nicklaus branded thing made with some sport-tech material. Anyway, you are correct about IZOD/Lacoste now, but back when they dominated the polo shirt/casual short sleeve shirt market they were the same thing. And, yes, IZOD/Lacoste was most definitely the "Preppy clothing brand" when "preppy" was the dominate 20-something culture.

CaryinBoulder 10:42 AM  

PS. My new Blogger image (if it shows up correctly) is something I did a couple years ago called “Shelby at the EVENT HORIZON.”

Lorelei Lee 10:42 AM  

Worked this west to east in a zigzaggy pattern that took some thought but nothing taxing. Don't know from Avengers but it did't seem to matter.

Somehow had Event Horizon in the black hole of my brain ... fun. A 2001 Swedish study suggested that humans have an innate fear of snakes. Born with it. A similar study showed that Americans have an innate knowledge of the spiral pass. So that went right in.

Always enjoy Ross Trudeau. Would like to see someone put him in a puzzle with Ross Perot.

Filling in Assistant Manager reminded me of my Mensa Genius bestie, whose genius 16-year-old was Assistant Manager of the local Subway throughout high school. She hired all her friends, including my daughter, and basically ran the place without much input from the owner. She handed her money over to her mother, my investment advisor, who put it in the boom market. Then she bought her first house at age 26.

Any Arrested Development fans here? The kid was a real life Maeby. She once bought a plane ticket, skipped school, and took a cab to the airport to visit a boyfriend who'd moved several states away. Without telling her parents. They was furious, I was impressed.

Surprised at the lack of outrage (just wanted to use the parlance of the blog) over agile and spry.

I think that agile/agility refers to the ability to move the body and spry means peppy. Gymnasts are agile, many of us on this blog may be spry. Or maybe not.

Crimson Devil 10:46 AM  

Much outta my wheelhouse/strike zone (are we ever gonna get back to baseball?), but all was gettable via crosses, thus excellent Wed puz, imo.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

"Hit the Deck" is indeed a Navy term. Cf. Johnny Horton's 1950's ballad, "Sink the Bismarck"

And we hit the decks arunnin'
And we swung those guns around.

Whatsername 10:57 AM  

@Joaquin, you said it. I’ve never opened and superhero comic book in my life, and I know as much about the AVENGERS as I do about black holes, so this might as well have been a themeless for me. That said, it wasn’t too hard or too easy, just about right for a Wednesday, I liked RAGEQUIT. Sounds like something I would do when I’ve tried to put a password in about six times and it keeps getting rejected. Or an app I’ve downloaded doesn’t work the way the instructions say it’s supposed to. In any event it’ll usually have something to do with a computer.

PETE, COEN, EMMA, STU, RON, ELI, DEMETRI, ELIE, GUSTAV, NANA, MOE, ELLE, oh and there’s TAFT back again. A lot of Propers. Just sayin.

Olivia 10:58 AM  

They could have done "Avenger assembly" for 15 and clued it in a clever way - less cute, for sure, though.

I had no issue with 'throw a spiral' (even though I can't throw one myself consistently)- it's a fairly canon phrase in football.

I wish they'd managed to throw one more Avenger in there, but I loved the fill, personally, and that made this puzzle very fun for me - I thought it had a lot of personality and it made me smile repeatedly.

Easy, for a Wednesday, sure, but very fun.

jberg 11:00 AM  

I I’d was the brand; Lacoste was a particular model endorsed by Remé Lacoste, a tennis star. Because he was known as “le crocodil,” they had that Litlle animal we all called an alligator on them.

More later, time to head for the park.

burtonkd 11:01 AM  

Unless it's a complete fail, every QB throws a spiral. The problem with the clue is that an exceptional throw is a perfect spiral and perfect was used in the clue.

@kitshef, nice find on IRONMAN.

Newboy 11:03 AM  

Place me midpoint between @Hungry Mother & @Nancy today. Stopped reading posts after Nancy , so this one didn’t engage. Sorry Amanda; thanks for your effort nonetheless.

Malsdemare 11:13 AM  

@Tale told. Just perfect. Thanks.

egsforbreakfast 11:16 AM  

@burtonkd et al. You also hear ex-qb commentators like Bradshaw and Romo talk about how one quarterback throws a very tight spiral, while another has some wobble in his. Throw a spiral is not only in the vernacular, but some variant of it used to be heard by tens of millions on every fall and winter weekend. My vote goes to Kaepernick! Best knees in the business!!!

QuasiMojo 11:18 AM  

I'm older than you @Z. When I was in prep school one wouldn't be caught dead in an Izod shirt. You wore the original Lacoste shirt which had a longer back that you tucked in your shorts so it didn't rise up your back when serving. Some were prized hand me downs. Izod bought the name Lacoste and made their own versions without the flap. But the shirts were called Lacostes. They had an Izod label too that had a monogram. Later they made cheap knockoffs that merged the two brands and according to Wiki they realized their mistake and tried to go back to the original distinctions but it was too late. Besides the Preppie craze had ended by then. And Polo had moved in on their turf.

To add to my "so bad it's good" movie list, check out "The Black Hole" starring Anthony Perkins. Streaming on Disney Plus.

Lewis 11:34 AM  

@roo -- Ish, but not unusually high, which would be more than 20. This is in the mid-teens.

mathgent 11:36 AM  

No puzzle is worthless if I learn something. EVENTHORIZON (the term, if not what it means exactly), BEATBOXERS, AVENGERSASSEMBLE.

Whenever I see Mr. Trudeau’s byline, I hope for some of his father’s brilliance. It hasn’t happened yet.

Brian 11:39 AM  

the amount of protection given by an insurance policy.

Lorelei Lee 11:48 AM  

@mathgent, With all due respect, I think that's an apples to oranges comparison.

I really enjoy Ross's puzzles. I frequent his site where he posts for free, and find that since his first NYT puzzle, he's gotten more and more agile, with a deft hand offering an interesting solving experience.

He might even plot an interesting comic for his generation, but I doubt Gary could construct a puzzle.

BTW @Frantic, your ratings are fun and the .5 just just cracks me up. Five smiley emoji!

Z 11:56 AM  

@Quasi - The 80's are pretty hazy, which is why I had to go look it up to confirm my first reaction, that there was no difference. That Wikipedia article says IZOD/Lacoste were basically the same company from 1952-1993, at least in the US. It's not at all clear from either the IZOD wiki or Lacoste Wiki if Lacoste operated independently outside the US. This makes me wonder what exactly the distinction was between the shirts in your prep school days. In my college days all the tennis players (at my college which won 7 D-III tennis championships in 18 years in that era) wore IZODs but never played tennis in them. I am 100% certain I owned neither.

William of Ockham 11:58 AM  


Izod and Chemise Lacoste are night and day quality difference wise, but once were under the same ageis no matter what Wiki says.

Chemise Lacoste is Rene Lacoste's line from France, high qualitie while Izod is a bit pedestrian, one reason for the split.

Rene was known as Le Croc and it's the quintessential "Alligator Shirt" except it is a littl crocodile

Carola 12:05 PM  

I know little of the AVENGERS other than there seem to be a slew of them, so thought the paltry turn-out here made for weak tea puzzle-wise. (perhaps the others are still sheltering in place). Redeeming feature: EVENT HORIZON.

@Tale Told By An Idiot - This tale packs a punch. Thank you.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

No. And you say it yourself in your response to burtonkd. Talking heads in football use a variation of throw a spiral. Precisely because the spiral is the starting point, implicit if you will, it is always modified. Always. The stand alone phrase throw a spiral in never used.
If you want to know the current argot, already getting hoary, they say he can really spin it. Meaning the spiral is tight with velocity.
Hate to do anything which might out me, but I’ll risk it and tell you that I’ve been employed by the NFL for 30 years 10 months and 3 days.
Go ahead, ask me about The NFL pension and what theLeague’s contribution rate is today, versus the last 30 years and 8 months. Hint. They chopped it by a third, cause you know, corona. And they furloughed, well, no one knows how many. But plenty. I assure you. Sadly.

Smith 12:45 PM  

Really enjoyed the puzzle, plus had a fun excursion on .dk where IL about the thousand year monarchy and the origin of "Bluetooth"!

KnittyContessa 1:00 PM  

@Tale Told By An Idiot Worth the puzzle.

chefwen 1:02 PM  

@GILL I - 8:36, Alphabetize them.

Teedmn 1:03 PM  

The circles were appreciated today - if I were faced with the AVENGERS ASSEMBLE reveal and asked to go find them without the graphic, I would fail utterly. THOR, maybe, but ANTMAN or WASP, no dice.

I really liked the clue for TRIG, 49D, and 3D's "Cover, as a car". Nearly splatzed in TWisted for 46D, mentally saying, "Really, most roads?" Even TWO LANE makes me wonder if "most" applies, but I can abide.

32D seemed tantalizingly familiar when I had HIT THE in place. OVOID gave me DECK immediately. Maybe too many war movies in my youth...

Thanks, Amanda and Ross, this was a fine Wednesday.

jb129 1:16 PM  

I disliked this puzzle. Mostly because I worked so hard (for a Wednesday) & didn't enjoy it.

Ilana 1:50 PM  

Re Avengers TV theme: SO much better (to me) than the other Avengers. PLUS DIANA RIGG, for cryin out loud!

egsforbreakfast 2:26 PM  

@Annonymous 12:16. I’ll defer to 30 years of NFL employment. However, here’s another example of how “throw a Spiral” has been used in real life. Tim Tebow didn’t make it in the NFL partly because he couldn’t “throw a spiral.”

burtonkd 2:41 PM  

@anon 12:16, thanks for throwing your eggs in the basket, if I may mix metaphors and puns. Good to hear from you. Despite my football career ending in 6th grade, I have a healthy respect for the intelligence involved, despite the stereotypes.

I was looking for the phrase for a pass that doesn't spiral in current argot. I'm guessing "wounded duck" is passe?

Tight spiral is another one I was looking for. Or, Pass had some zip on it. Maybe borrow frozen rope from baseball?

Regarding Kaepernick, my impression is that he has a strong arm, but his mobility was an asset that helped him rise to the top. League collusion a story for another venue. Players come and go for all kinds of reasons, tough to prove one way or another. His stock seems to be rising these days.

GILL I. 3:05 PM  

@chefwen...I actually did alphabetize my spices at one time in my life. I won't tell you where the hot pepper flakes ended up. ;-)

Masked and Anonymous 3:10 PM  

Yay! The Circles are back.
I think we saw a THOR flick and an ANTMAN flick, as part of FriNite Schlockfests with the bro-in-law. Is Green Hornet also in that vengeful Marvel group? -- We did one of them Seth Rogen Hornet flicks, one time. That was about it, for the AVENGERS ENSEMBLE. How'bout Wonder Woman? -- I'd really like to see that Wonder Woman flick, someday...

staff weeject pick: THO. Better clue: {Thor unassembled??}.
STE is {part of an office bldg. address}? Confused the M&A. Oh -- Is STE maybe an abbreve of SuiTE? Or are they elevatin a lot of office bldgs. to sainthood?

Wasn't familiar with the theme revealer 62-A punchline, altho[r] it was certainly inferable. Noticed that it had SASS imbedded in it. Is SASSMAN in that Marvel group? Kinda hard to keep track of em all.

Seemed about right for a WedPuz, at our house. Maybe slightly leanin to the easy side. Took m&e forever to recall that there NANA dog name, tho[r].

Thanx for gangin up on us, Ms. Rafkin darlin & Mr. Trudeau dude. It was Marvel-ous.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Kathy 3:22 PM  

@anonymous, league office or team?

bigsteve46 3:26 PM  

I wonder if anyone else is thinking this way? Now, I don't time how long it takes me to do the puzzle and never have - but usually do try to work through it as quickly without interruption. Except recently. Doing the puzzle is one of the little things I truly enjoy and as the shut-in days mount up, I try to extend the little pleasures a little. So if I really like an answer I might pause and admire it for a few moments, or if stumped a little - put the paper/keyboard down and go top off my cocktail or stretch my legs a little. 'Cause, when its over, its over and not another until tomorrow (Yes, I am aware there are other puzzles, but I'm a one-puzzle guy - its the NYT and the NYT alone for me.)

bauskern 3:31 PM  

@Z Clearly you have way too much free time on your hands. . . .

tea73 3:34 PM  

Although I'm not really an Avengers fan, I ended up seeing most of the movies and I think back in the day, my friends who were boys lent me some of the comic books. I pretty much read anything back then. It's the only reason I know as much about pre-1967 sports as I do - I read every single biography in our school library.

I happened to have just seen Ang Lee's version of Hulk this weekend. It is absolutely gorgeously filmed - he does all sorts of tricksy stuff with inset boxes. You almost feel like people should talk in cartoon bubbles. The story line most revolves around two people with Daddy issues.

A day earlier I watched Ang Lee's Lust, Caution. Another beautiful film, but difficult to watch - NC-17 rated for some pretty uncomfortable sex scenes.

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

Doesn’t sound like your deferring to my experience. You contract me directly and provide a quote to do it.
I’m sympathetic. Tebow’s mechanics and hence his ball (passes) were roundly criticized. And I’m sure someone somewhere said he can’t throw a spiral (which is sort of an example of what I meant by the phrase is always modified.)
But I can’t recall it actually being said per se. To my ear it sounds like folks who say Luke, I am your father comes from Empire. It rings true, because the facts support the feeling and generally the claim. But verisimilitude aside, that’s not the actual quote.

You are wise to admire the awesome physical ability of NFL players. They are nonpareil, mammothly strong, and Olympian fast. Able to withstand great pain and understand relatively complex schemes. But I am not one. And never have been.
Players are employed by NFL member clubs. Teams. The NFL? Believe it or not, it’s a trade association.
Oh and wounded duck is still used. Usually shortened to simply duck.

Lorelei Lee 4:01 PM  

@Bigsteve, yes.

john towle 4:01 PM  

Rigg & MacNee…marvelous together, and their diction & grammar impeccable. I was a Tennessee Jed, Lone Ranger, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy fan as a kid. Then Gunsmoke came along…oh, my.



JC66 7:27 PM  

****SB ALERT****

Nobody's commenting about it today. I found it unusually hard to get to genius, but I did it.

Monty Boy 8:05 PM  

I liked this one a lot. I don't know much about the Avengers but crosses were fair. I like the newspaper comics, not the magazine types. I sympathized with some of the answers. I had a trig knee years ago but it got fixed with an operation.

A coworker in the 70's had a basement full of comics. He had a subscription to just about all in print. For him, it was his retirement fund. He never took them out of the plastic bag, never read them. He had a wall of bins and dutifully sorted them out each month. He figured for the nominal investment, they would out perform the stock market. He may have had something there.

A Moderator 8:17 PM  

****SB ALERT**** only warns readers that the following comment refers to SB.

Please don't post answers to today's puzzle.

Barbara S. 9:30 PM  

****SB ALERT****

@JC66 7:27 p.m.
Completely agree. I thought today that I had moaned prematurely about yesterday -- little did I know what was coming. I got the 4-letter words really fast and then it was like pulling teeth to get the longer words. Genius sure felt good.

bulgie 2:20 AM  

Another who thought an Avengers theme needs more themers. Also agreed that the whole idea of costumed superheroes as entertainment for someone over twelve is worthy of ridicule.

****SB ALERT****
I got Queen Bee by entering a nonsense string that I was certain was not a word. Not sure how I feel about that. They don't accept chink or yoyo but they take howdah? (examples from previous puzzles, not today's.)

Steve 8:36 AM  

Throw a spiral, indeed. No such of a thang in Woody Hayes's days. Made up by some sport writer for the NY Times whose idea of football is cheering every third year when Columbia wins a game. Ohio State, 1966

spacecraft 11:07 AM  

About average difficulty here, because I never heard of the entire middle line across. Not an AVENGERS (bleedover!) fan, I didn't know about WASP, but the two who played her (Pfeiffer, Lovitt) get honorable mention to DEMI's DOD. I did some post-solve Googling.

Interesting fill, around a solid theme. I think PETE RAGEQUIT too soon...birdie.

Burma Shave 11:36 AM  


if ONE NEEDS to HITTHE theater,
carpe DIEM, how does ONEMETER?


Diana, LIW 1:15 PM  

You know how this virus time warp is. I kept thinking it was Tuesday, and this seemed hard.

Then I remembered to look at the paper - it's Wednesday. If only the AVENGERS had ASSEMBLEd to help me.

Beware, the Ides...

Then I wanted to HITTHEgroundrunning. Or just the ground. Or the dirt. floor?? Ah - DECK - fine fine.

If you watch some kind of EVENTHORIZON tonight and this week you might see the NEO comet.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the day I'm still up that late

leftcoaster 3:09 PM  

Good and gettable in both theme and fill, acrosses and downs.

Best of theme: EVENT HORIZON. Not into the comic superheroes, but they all have had enough publicity.

Wanted the WASP before the GNAT in the NE, but both found their own places soon enough. All the longer downs were good ones and mostly fresh, but it was TRIG clued as a "sin topic" and DENMARK's thousand-year monarchy(!) that got the rewarding "aha's".

Really nice work by Amanda and Ross.

thefogman 5:59 PM  

Quarantinewhile, I too am losing track of time. Pretty soon Late July crackers will be going on sale...

strayling 7:57 PM  

It's a bit of a timeless time right now, true. Fortunately, this puzzle felt about half way between a Tuesday and a Thursday, so averaging things out I'm guessing today is Wednesday.

Lots of comments about the AVENGERS up-thread by people who, IMO, are missing out. To me, they're a modern day version of classical mythology cast in a Science Fiction mould. Then again, I did read "Tales of the Greek Heroes" at an impressionable age.

rondo 10:50 PM  

If you get your PAWS on the four corners you can SWAP the letters to get another WASP, ONE of the AVENGERS. EMMA Roberts definite yeah baby. My EVENTHORIZON is closing fast. Nice ONE.

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