Ship with three banks of oars / SUN 6-28-20 / Kingdom east of Babylonia / Jocular lead-in to macation / Slacker role for Jeff Bridges in Big Lebowski / What digitigrade stands on / Foe of Morlocks in sci-fi

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Constructor: Jon Schneider and Anderson Wang

Relative difficulty: Medium (10-something)

THEME: "Power-Ups" — the theme is EXPONENTS (20A: Mathematical concepts suggested eight times in this puzzle) ... so the answers to various phrases are various "___ to the ___" phrases, but instead of "to the" being in the grid, it's represented by the post-to the" part of the phrase being (literally) raised "to the" next level in the grid, the way an exponent is written up and to the right of the number of which it is an exponent ... look, I last took math in 1987 and got a C+ in Calc II so I dunno, you get it the whole exponent business, I hope. Sorry I didn't explain it gooder:

Theme answers:
  • PLAY to the GALLERY (30A: With 25-Across, get as much approval from an audience as possible)
  • ROOTED to the SPOT (33A: With 29-Across, like a deer in headlights)
  • PREACH to the CHOIR (50A: With 47-Across, not change anyone's mind, say)
  • CUTS to the CHASE (53A: With 48-Across, stops wasting time)
  • WASATCH to the PIETA (just kidding)
  • THREW to the WOLVES (92A: With 88-Across, sacrificed)
  • CLOSE to the BONE (90A: With 85-Across, uncomfortably accurate)
  • RACE to the BOTTOM (113A: With 107-Across, bad sort of competition)
  • WELCOME to the CLUB (116A: With 112-Across, "Your misfortune is nothing special")
Word of the Day: WASATCH (42A: Utah mountain range) —
The Wasatch Range (/ˈwɑːsæ/ WAH-satch) is a mountain range in the western United States that runs about 160 miles (260 km) from the Utah-Idaho border south to central Utah. It is the western edge of the greater Rocky Mountains, and the eastern edge of the Great Basin region. The northern extension of the Wasatch Range, the Bear River Mountains, extends just into Idaho, constituting all of the Wasatch Range in that state.
In the language of the native Ute people, Wasatch means "mountain pass" or "low pass over high range." According to William Bright, the mountains were named for a Shoshoni leader who was named with the Shoshoni term wasattsi, meaning "blue heron". (wikipedia)
• • •

I am so saddened by Sundays. They don't seem to know how to be. I feel bad. It's hard to make a good Sunday, because you have to cover a lot of ground, themewise, and so your theme has to have legs. It has to go the distance. It has to be interesting conceptually, but more importantly, it's gotta have gas in the tank. Whatever your gimmick is, it's gotta hold up over 6 to 10 answers, across a 21x21 grid. This means that the individual answers have to have interest; they have to work with the theme but also have some kind of inherent interest—be amusing or cute or novel or something. Also, the non-theme fill should be delightful and occasionally surprising—you gotta get us through a long journey, and just filling the fill with fill from fillville isn't gonna cut it; The Drive Is Too Long. This is a long-winded prelude to my comments on this puzzle, which are, briefly, as follows: the concept is just fine, cute even, but I somehow enjoyed virtually none of it. Not the figuring out the themers and definitely not the filling in the rest of the grid. I just don't think the concept can endure. It's a one-note thing ... and yet there are eight notes, plus the revealer. And the non-theme fill offers virtually nothing interesting. Also, consider: literally Every Single One of your theme clues is a cross-reference—begins "With blah blah blah." That is some built-in tedium right there. Hey, look somewhere else, eight times! Have fun! So, sure, having the theme answer continue up and to the right of where it started, as a way of representing an exponent (and the phrase "to the") is, in fact, clever. But ... I got tired of actually Doing It sooooo fast. And then there's just the fill, which ... well, see below.

PLO-UGH! Is it THE L-WORD or THE L-BOMB? I guess THE L-WORD is the TV show about lesbians, but I think it's also "love," so ... that was odd. I never really got the whole "___ bomb" thing (see also "F-"). I guess I was trained / raised to just say what the f-bomb you mean. Anyway, I bombed that answer. Also bombed WASATCH. The only Utah mountain range I know is UINTA (very crosswordy), and I remember it's in Utah because of the U-thing. WASATCH ... I got no mnemonic for that. Also, I'm unlikely to see WASATCH again, whereas I will *definitely* see UINTA again (five letters, starts "UI-"—your options are pret-ty limited). Not really familiar with term CAT'S PAW either, and PLAY and YEA had tricky clues, so I weirdly struggled in the NW (tho probably not for too long). That NEST clue was weird; wanted PEST (duh) (79D: Exterminator's target). AOKAY is an abomination, never ever written that way, stop. Also stop with ART SCAMS, what? That just doesn't feel like a strong ... thing (87D: They might involve impersonating a dealer). Weird to have a plural of a thing I can't really name more than one of. Name the ART SCAMS! Uh, OK, forgery! There's one. Also ... uh ... uh ... uh ... etc. MEMORY is important for ... school? (125A: Important faculty for school). I mean, I guess. It's important for lots and lots and lots of things. Like finding your way home. I get that you are enjoying your "faculty" pun there, but worry about *others'* enjoyment, and accuracy / aptness, please. ONLAY??? (108D: Dental covering similar to a crown). I know INLAY and then I'm out of _NLAY dental answers. ELAM / ASSAM crossing is not great. I thought a [Place that processes ore] was a SMELTERY. Yes, the SMELTER is the one who dealt ... in smelting, the SMELTERY is the "place" where the smelting happened. Why is this cluing so off and botched. Hit your marks!

I loved "Parasite" but didn't know CHOI Woo-shik's name, so that was a little tough (43D: ___ woo-shik, co-star of 2019's "Parasite"). If you liked "Parasite," I recommend "The Host," a 2006 horror film also directed by Bong Joon-ho. In fact, "The Host" felt very much like a prequel to "Parasite" in many ways (or, I guess, "Parasite" was the sequel—I just didn't see them in that order). Also, if you haven't even seen "Parasite" yet, what the heck? Come on. What else? Nothing. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:00 AM  

I liked this one. A lot. It made me work in fits and starts (mostly fits) and the theme, once I grokked it, wasn't just a simple fill-in-the-blanks type. I had to think, which is a rare and wonderful thing for moi.

Some of the misdirects gave me pause and I had to really give them a wide berth, but they did a "Caution! Wide Load!" kinda way.
I don't even know what that means, but if some of those clues were close enough, so is my analogy.

As of this writing, I can honestly think of no nits. That just can't be right, but I'm going with it....for now.
I'm sure some of y'all will light a spark under my RAHRAH.

Here is a quick mnemonic device for remembering the 7 dwarfs:
Big (Bashful)
Dogs (Doc)
Dig (Dopey)
Great (Grumpy)
Holes (Happy)
So (Sleepy)
Simply (Sneezy)

I made it up because it needed doing.


Joaquin 12:05 AM  

Found this to be slightly more of a challenge than the typical Sunday puzzle. Also learned that RAWR is an actual word. Who knew? Probably everyone else. And I’m guessing DEION, with its odd spelling, will be somewhat Naticky for the non-sports fans among us.

Reminds me of this story: Years ago Deion Sanders was on the sideline of a Chiefs game dressed in street clothes. His suit was some wild, orange-colored, abomination with huge lapels. A ridiculous looking outfit. The tv announcer calling the game called attention to Deion’s attire and then opined that whoever sold him the suit should get the Salesman of the Year trophy - and then the award should be retired.

Frantic Sloth 12:25 AM  

Just read Rex's review, where he said he wasn't familiar with the term CATSPAW, so blame him for my inspiration.

And I'm probably going to regret this but...this particular CATSPAW is from the original Star Trek series, making it beyond fascinating as well as brain-numbingly tedious.

You're welcome. 🙄

Harryp 12:35 AM  

Normal Sunday, where , with the grid filled in, the clock was still ticking, so I had to go into proofread mode which I suck at. After a half dozen runs through the grid, I found I had put in OLiO at66D, making 78A OINTMiNT. I googled the word differences so I might not make the mistake again, and read that OlEO is a margarine, whereas OLIO is a stew, or a mixture. This is a DNF, because I might have missed it on the proofread, and only knew to proofread because of no happytone.

Joe Dipinto 1:00 AM  

Very amusing review, @Rex. I, too, noticed WASATCH TO THE PIETA, along with AIMEE TO THE SLAVS, ASSAM TO THE ST. PETER, and SWABS TO THE SNARE.

I agree the repetitive cross-referencing eventually wore thin, even though I liked the selection of theme answers. Jim Horne at XWord Info feels it would work better if the "exponent" answers weren't separately numbered (and hence not clued); it would have made it harder to figure out what was going on but I think I would have preferred that too.

But – ALACRITY! One of my favorite words. It hasn't been in a puzzle since 1982! It's appearance immediately brightened things up. The rest of the fill is basically fine with me, nothing spectacularly wonderful or awful. The Dude! The Fates! The L Bomb! Team O!

The upshot: this puzzle made me want to gavotte. On a yacht. While wearing an apricot scarf.

Where to, now? Why, the Cryptic, of course.

egsforbreakfast 1:28 AM  

Almost too painful to read Rex pretending not to know what most of the fill was about. He was right, OTOH, about the themers. Once you caught on, they were so routine as to become slightly boring. I liked the concept, however, and got a kick out of expanding it in my mind:

I was 3 sheets ( to the) wind when I got a jolt (to the) system. Like lambs (to the) slaughter, I was off ( to the) races. I got dressed (to the) nines, but I was never wedded (to the) concept. To get (to the) point, it was a total jolt (to the) system. It almost took me over (to the) dark side. It was down (to the) wire, but I was, by then, off (to the) races. I thought I should, perhaps, drive (to the) hoop, but in the end I just said power (to the) people!!! Right on!!!

A slight realignment of 21 A and 24 A could have resulted in another themer: SEX TO THE DUDE!

A very good first NYTXW Jon and Anderson. Thanks guys, and keep it up.

puzzlehoarder 2:04 AM  

Just got back from a few days in Door Co. with my wife. Saw a lot of cheese heads ignoring social distancing and mask wearing.

Not a bad day for solving. I just did Saturday's and Sunday's puzzles. Clean grids on both and...
***SB ALERT***
got a QB on Saturday's SB.

This puzzle was a little thorny in places. I'm not familiar with PIAVE and in the Mideast a PEST/NEST write over at 79D and another at 41D with THELWORD/THELBOMB combined with not knowing LUNT at 60D made me work a little harder there.

I still have to catch up on Thursday's and Friday's puzzles.

Monty Montague 2:41 AM  

Having "Orifices" instead of "Crevices" and having no idea on dalmatians, cost me a lot of time. But, I found the theme sufficiently cute for a Sunday.

chefwen 3:07 AM  

There is not enough time in the world (even on shut down) for this type of puzzle. I almost called it quits several ties, but I’m stubborn so I forged ahead. Ignored all the cross reference and filled in around them. Was so frustrated that there were sooo many I figured whatever I really don’t know I’m going to Google, to hell with it. Finally got CUTS to the CHASE and back tracked to all the other cross reference cues.

Enjoyed seeing our recently visited friends ASPIC (still yuck, mystery meats in jelly) and AZALEA.

Not my cuppa. Sorry guys, I’m sure there will be many who enjoyed this more than I did.

jae 3:27 AM  

Medium-tough. Clever, liked it. Nice debut guys!

Colin 6:02 AM  

Congrats to Jon and Anderson on their debut NYT puzzle.

I liked the theme, but DNF... too tired yesterday night, and I have to work today. Like many, I screwed up on PEST for NEST. Kicking myself for missing ETALIA. "MAC" Pro? I'm missing something here (isn't it MACBOOK Pro?).

Renee Arnold 6:05 AM  

Got the theme very quickly which, for me lately, was unusual and enjoyable. However, as echoed here, got a little tiresome going back and forth with the "to the[s]". Enough already! Spelman college graduate? Wanted to put something in about BLM, not just alumna. Expedition, I was looking for a journey, not speed. I originally wanted to put "equation" rather than exponent, but in all, the theme was cute if a bit repetitious. Still enjoyable, I thought.

Lewis 6:10 AM  

This was two solves for me. First, a scattershot fill-in as I waited to figure out the theme, and during this time the theme snickered as it quite successfully eluded me. The rest of the puzzle wasn't bowing easily either.

And second, after finally getting two theme answers and cracking the conceit, the mist cleared, sesame opened, and in what felt like two breaths I was done.

This had some fresh cluing, a fun theme, and had me fully engaged throughout -- thanks, guys! A duo bravo, J&A, please come again, another day!

Anonymous 6:20 AM  

Sorry, Rex, but a SMELTER is a place. Yes, the -er ending makes it sound like a person but it’s also the place where smelting takes place. I mean, you can always look these things up in a dictionary before complaining about them.

ChuckD 6:22 AM  

Nope - not for me. Theme was marginal to start with - then add boring, short theme clues, a choppy grid and lots of short fill and the result is a true slog of a Sunday. I make it a point to finish the puzzle every day - but this one tested not my mind but only my will to finish. I really can’t come up with anything I liked about it - maybe the Mae West quote?

Should have been Stiv instead of ULAN - would have given the puzzle some cred.

Anonymous 6:23 AM  

I agree with Rex. I feel like puzzles now are being made by tech guys not wordsmiths, and the joy of,discovery for me is just evaporating, so quickly. It is not ok to have the wrong word, ie smelter!

Colin 6:54 AM  

According to my trusty Webster's New World Dictionary College Edition, a smelter is 1. a person engaged in the work or business of smelting. 2. an apparatus in which, OR A PLACE WHERE, smelting is done. [Emphasis mine)

So, you call yourselves wordsmiths? As pointed out above, look it up before criticizing.

kps 7:37 AM  

Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!
Too discouraged to comment further....

Diver 7:38 AM  

Rex, thanks for the link to Amy Reynaldo's page.

pmdm 7:43 AM  

A debut puzzle by two new constructors today. For want of think of a better way to put it, the puzzle lacks the egotistical entries that seem to me to be included the the puzzles of newer constructors. That's a good thing. So I would offer some encouragement for them to keep at it. The world can use more good crossword constructors.

The comment in the write-up about SMELTER is true bizarre.

Colin: The Mac Pro is a real Apple model of a desktop computer. I own an older one when they were more affordable. Look it up on Apple's website. It is truly priced not to outsell other models.

As an aside, Doonesbury fans should be aware that the only new strips appear now on Sundays. Today's strip was not a topical commentary like so many of them but a crossword puzzle by Ross Trudeau, son of the strip's creator. If you know the names of the characters in the strip, the puzzle should be quite easy. If not, wait till Wednesday for his next NYT puzzle (so he says).

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

One minor quibble. On 37D, ETC. and 119A, ET ALIA, isn't it technically inaccurate to have the word *et* appear twice in the puzzle. Both terms can be translated "and others", although I believe et c(etera) has a sense of "more of the same," while "et alia" means "more of something different."

By the way, I wonder if any of our English teachers out there would circle each one of the "themers" and label it a cliche'?

Anon. i.e. Poggius

p.s.: thanks to Kathy D., who posted at about 6 a.m. today on yesterday's postings, clearing up a question I raised. I won't say what it is, since I see an earlier post today referred to turning now to Friday's and Saturday's puzzle, and this would be a spoiler.

Barbara S. 7:54 AM  

[Left over from yesterday]

Ode to Dario Fo

Yo, Dario Fo
Rowing on the Po
Not going slow
Opposing Silvio
Pro the working joe
Got the Big Kudo
(Found out in an auto)
Praised by U. Eco
Failed in Milano
Sometimes stooped too low
Loki Italiano

I posted this anonymously last night (didn’t mean to be anon – sleepily hit the wrong button). It’s mainly a bit of nonsense verse, based on my current mini-obsession with the letter O in crossword puzzles (and an A-x-11 rhyme scheme). But there are references to real stuff: Fo’s run-ins with the Berlusconi government, his support of labor, his winning the Nobel Prize and the funny story about how he found out while driving, Eco’s glee at his win, Fo’s unsuccessful attempt to become mayor of Milan, his skepticism about 9/11, and his trickster status among the Italian literati. The last line’s a bit problematic, but it does scan if you stress it this way:

TJS 8:18 AM  

Didn't Bart crank call Moe with "Ineeda Mann"? Maybe it was me. This puzzle sucked. Here come July...

Spatenau 8:21 AM  

I'm always so disappointed when I come here and Loren Muse Smith hasn't posted anything yet. I really wish she'd start her own blog.

Lance 8:25 AM  

Had a rough time parsing AP exam. Just sitting there with ape or apex and all the other crosses were ? Finally cracked it

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

No special mention of "gavotte" from Carly Simon's "Your So Vain"?

Brian 8:38 AM  

Challenging but clever.

Nancy 9:09 AM  

The first theme pair I ran into was CUTS/CHASE. So where was it??? The missing "TO THE", is what I'm talking about.

Was it hidden under some black squares?

Was it in a Down answer, reversed and going up? (As in the "Power-Ups" title, you see).

Obviously, I've been doing too many trick puzzles and I'm familiar with too many tricks. But none of the tricks I know was this trick.

For a while I ignored the "why" of it and simply imagined a missing "TO THE" in every pair of theme answers -- miraculously located in the same exact positions relative to each other. And then I got to EXPONENTS and said "Aha!!!"

(I pity anyone solving this puzzle who has no idea what EXPONENTS are. But when you read them aloud, you say "X to the 3rd." And, bingo, there's your missing "TO THE".)

I loved this puzzle! It left so, so much work for the solver to do. So much thinking was required. Even the backing-and-forthing of the cross-referencing -- which I normally hate -- didn't bother me because the theme answers were so interesting and the payoff was so big. I don't know what an ONLAY as opposed to an INLAY is, and that did throw me off for a bit, but I'll forgive this puzzle anything, anything at all.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

edu..macation ! are you f#king kidding me ?!

Hungry Mother 9:18 AM  

Had TeE instead of TOE and couldn’t see it. Doh! Very cute and useful theme. I liked it, except for the outcome.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

I found it cumbersome, awkward and generally unpleasant from the start. The theme was tolerable.

Maybe I'm just getting old and the puzzles aren't mine anymore.

David 9:35 AM  

etc and et alia
one fly in the ointment the other in the web

I was bored by, therefore ignored, the schtick. After the second one it was just, "oh. again. ok." Plopped in the "revealer" off the leading E and shrugged. However, the "to the" was at least clever, as Rex says.

Takes talent to rebuke erudite people, especially with alacrity. I do so miss our erudite former President, I can't tell you how much.

I think it might have amused me more if there were 8 theme answers and two cubed had been worked in, but that's me.

The seven dwarves had no names, just saying.


Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Apparently if Rex does not already know something, it has no place in the puzzle. If you watch the weather channel at all, you will hear the Wasatch mentioned quite a bit. Just look at it as a learning moment Rex. Such a bad attitude every week.

GILL I. 9:44 AM  

Good gravy.....This was probably the hardest Sunday since my math classes in high school. I don't even know what EXPONENTS means; I was looking for something like to the N power. Hah!
Boy, is it just me? I'm not the least bit crazy about a puzzle that tells me to go hither and yon. NOSIREEBOB. Just hand me my drink with no fancy umbrella. I finally figured out the TO THE thingy at CUTS (to the) CHASE.
CLOSE to the BONE is uncomfortably accurate? Didn't know that. I kept thinking about a T-bone steak. I also didn't know a CAT'S PAW was a person being used. I have some TALENTS but juggling, singing and magic aren't any of them.
Let's see what did I know without having to get up and do the laundry? Oh...I knew TE AMO. Thank you for not including the YO. I also knew ELAINE de Kooning. She was married to the better known artist, Willem. I liked her much better. She was cool beans and her self portrait is fantastic.
KORN? You call yourself KORN? Why not just throw in "Jimmy cracked."
And so it went. I was so out in left field with this one. Actually, I was sitting in the dugout on a rusted bench without even a decent hot dog in sight.

Speedweeder 9:46 AM  

Anon 9:12 - "Edumacation" is indeed a thing that people say, in a humorous way, as in "I don't need no edumacation". Google it.

BobL 9:50 AM  

Pretty enjoyable 67 minutes for me.

RooMonster 9:59 AM  

Hey All !
Dang, Rex was in rare form today! I was chuckling reading the review.

How in the known universe did you post at 12:00 when Rex's write-up was the exact same time? Living up to your First name.

I liked this puz, once I finally figured out what the Sam Hill was happening. Lots of wrong words led to a longer solve, such as THE L wOrd and FEst, leading to 85A being dONs. However, CLOSE to the doNs made zero sense, unless you were good friends with Mr. Knott's and Mr. Johnson. Broadway's LUNT Theatre was a Huh? to me, further messing up RUBOFF which I did finally see. I'm sure @Nancy knew LUNT. She is culturally in it, so to speak, whereas I'm not theater-minded. Read: couch potato.

Admit to having to look up that Italian cheese. Dang, I know lots of cheeses, but not that one. That section was where I finished, so as always, I grow impatient when I can't get a few answers to finish. As a matter of fact, my last letter in was the X of STYX/EXPONENTS, as the ole brain just refused to see the Revealer. Kept wanting EpPONENTS, which again, isn't a thing. But threw in that X and... Almost There! Ack! Turns out, 5 wrong letters! Dang! Let's see... cASTE/cOARSER (defensible), ULoN/BoSRA (defensible?), BONd,/dAVOTTE (dance defensible, but BONd not), PEaN/ISLa (defensible), PIETo/RoWR (RoWR defensible, but probably not the painting, as I see it now and know it isn't PIETo).

But still liked this one. I did forget that 10 to the whatever Power little-number-thing is called an EXPONENT. Hey, I graduated in 87, plus with my memory akin to @Nancys, what do you want from me? Har.

There F's
Is ASHY the Eighth Dwarf?

Ann Hedonia 10:29 AM  

I agree with Rex, as usual. I made the same mistakes as he did. One of these days I will quit trying. NYT puzzles are so dull!

Z 10:30 AM  

I got the conceit fairly early and was wondering where “to the” was going to turn up. Then I got EXPONENTS and thought “well, that doesn’t quite work does it because there’s no ‘power.’” Squared and cubed don’t need “power” but otherwise you read an exponent as base number to the nth power. “Power” is implied rather than stated often enough, making the theme defensible. Still, this tickled my sub-optimal nit-picking bone.

Having said that, I liked this well enough. Yeah, several of these are a tad cliché and others are getting close, but they are all things I would expect to hear or read sometime this year, if not even this week. The time lag from “fresh” to “cliché” is probably shorter than ever, so I’m just glad nothing feels dated. As for the fill, I found a chuckle here and there, starting with ASPIC since this blog has made me an ASPIC expert. PLOUGH also brought many nanoseconds of amusement as I pondered though/tough/through and then wondered about a ship’s figurehead being a poughy prough. Yes, I did pass my APE XAM.
I also gave a exclamation point to the ELAINE clue. So much better than another Seinfeld or Chao clue. On the other hand I wondered about the wasted ink in the ENT clue. Do we really need to add “in fiction” when using a fictional place to clue a fictional being?

I had to laugh at Rex’s Uinta riff. This is how I know the word and I only learned it was named for the mountain range after enjoying their beers. Unlike Rex, I have heard of the WASATCH Range, although I needed a few letters to remember that I had heard of it.

Did somebody mention Carly Simon?

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

No answer to the question about your not repudiating shyster. Amazing.Especially after your lecture on maneater.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Could not get rid of Barry Sanders for the longest time. Sigh. As to EXPONENTS, I learned them no later than Algebra I, which was junior high school, lo those many years ago. Since I know set theory is being taught to grade schoolers, I expect EXPONENTS are too. Funny thing about 'higher math' (calc, analysis, and the like): most folks who attempt it get hung up on following the algebraic manipulations in the proofs, said manipulations 'learned' years prior and never internalized. Diff Eq is different, in that lots of transformations between integral and differential are hard-wired to one another, and you just have to memorize them. A problem for those with crappy memories.

Did I mention I despise these See...With puzzles even more than rebi?

egsforbreakfast 10:45 AM  

A couple of wrong answers that I thought were pretty good until they weren’t:

86D. They have your life hanging by a thread. TWEETERS
120D. Something drawn by a jerk, maybe. POP

William of Ockham 10:45 AM  

Rex said:

"I am so saddened by Sundays. They don't seem to know how to be. I feel bad. It's hard to make a good Sunday, because you have to cover a lot of ground, themewise, and so your theme has to have legs. It has to go the distance. It has to be interesting conceptually, but more importantly, it's gotta have gas in the tank. Whatever your gimmick is, it's gotta hold up over 6 to 10 answers, across a 21x21 grid. This means that the individual answers have to have interest; they have to work with the theme but also have some kind of inherent interest—be amusing or cute or novel or something. Also, the non-theme fill should be delightful and occasionally surprising—you gotta get us through a long journey, and just filling the fill with fill from fillville isn't gonna cut it; The Drive Is Too Long. This is a long-winded prelude to my comments on this puzzle, which are, briefly, as follows: the concept is just fine, cute even, but I somehow enjoyed virtually none of it. Not the figuring out the themers and definitely not the filling in the rest of the grid. I just don't think the concept can endure. It's a one-note thing ... and yet there are eight notes, plus the revealer. And the non-theme fill offers virtually nothing interesting. Also, consider: literally Every Single One of your theme clues is a cross-reference—begins "With blah blah blah." That is some built-in tedium right there. Hey, look somewhere else, eight times! Have fun! So, sure, having the theme answer continue up and to the right of where it started, as a way of representing an exponent (and the phrase "to the") is, in fact, clever. But ... I got tired of actually Doing It sooooo fast."

I could not express it any better at all. WORD. FOR. WORD.

21x21 is its own enemy, I dread Sundays and Saturday WSJ

Thank you

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

edumacation was used, in my youth, by educated folks making fun of those who cared little or not at all about education, with a made-up quote from the uneducated like, "I gots me an edumacation". usually when the mass of the uneducated did something horrendously stupid that badly effected everybody.

amyyanni 11:00 AM  

What @chefwen opined. Realize I'm not a fan of cross references in crosswords.

Birchbark 11:09 AM  

AP EXAMS crossing THE DUDE is a good way to start in the Northwest.


Permit me to resolve a controversy. A SMELTER is a person, typically a relative or acquaintance up north. When the run is on, upstream from Lake Superior, they go out in the night with a net and return with plenty of sardine-sized fish. Lightly breaded, salted, peppered, and fried = tasty. Unless you get a fishy one. Then you wish you'd never said anything about liking smelt.

@egsforbreakfast (10:45) -- Nice, especially TWEETERS -- the modern Fates.

Pete 11:11 AM  

@Z's Troll - First of all, you're a troll and best ignored. Secondly, please explain again how calling a Muslim doctor a shyster in accordance with its primary definition can be confused with stereotyping a Jewish lawyer? I wouldn't have used it, but given the clarity of the usage in this case, you're way off base.

As I'm giving advice here, may I suggest that you redirect all the time and effort you're putting into being @Z's Troll towards gainful employment? You'd then be able to move out of you mother's basement and eventually save enough to hire a high class escort for an hour or two, and thus lose your virginity.

Whatsername 11:27 AM  

@Frantic Sloth and @Joe D: Regarding your comments yesterday about standing in line at the post office only to find out no stamps. You may already be aware, but you can order stamps online at and they will be delivered to you for the bargain price of $1.30. I’ve been doing that for years, but it’s especially convenient now when the last thing we want to be doing is standing in line with strangers.

Z 11:29 AM  

@Birchbark - Har! Now that I’m residing in NC I never see anyplace serving SMELT, and now you have me thinking I’ve never seen it on a menu outside of Michigan, not even in Wisconsin. Hey Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ontario people, how's your SMELT? @Birchbark points to a Lake Superior connection so it seems like we’d be the SMELT experts.
I also only ever order whitefish when in the upper peninsula or at least northern lower peninsula. Anywhere else always disappoints. Take that back, Ottawa Beach Inn near Holland always seems to get it in fresh so I’ll have whitefish there.

@egs 10:45 - 👍🏽😂😂😂👍🏽 Great wrong answers.

Z 11:31 AM  

@Pete - Don’t feed the trolls. Up next, they call you a sock puppet.

Carola 12:03 PM  

A mostly easy puzzle that started out toothsome with PLAY to the GALLERY but soon started to grow long in the tooth...rather wearied, I dutifully soldiered on, to be delightfully revived by the late WELOME to the CLUB. Also liked CATSPAW, the clue for HASTE, and the complementary ALACRITY.

@egsforbreakfast 1:28 - LOL to the MAX.

@Birchbark 11:09 and @Z 11:29 - The only SMELT this Wisconsinite knows are in my dad's expression "Deader than a SMELT."

@puzzlehoarder 2:04 - Yes, too many cheeseheads are also lunkheads, including the legislature and the state supreme court. Case loads are soaring again, and I'm fit to be tied.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Welcome back, Rex!

(We missed you last week.)


Norm 12:08 PM  

I thought this was a brilliant puzzle in concept and execution, and I find it very hard to believe that an English professor is unfamiliar with the concept of a cat's paw. Seriously, Rex?

Aphid Larue 12:12 PM  

Math major here. I enjoyed this.

Frantic Sloth 12:19 PM  

@Roo Oh, see when you live in the unknown universe, time-bending and well, virtually everything else is possible.
I have no earthly idea. 😉
Seriously, I'm usually anxiously awaiting Rex's post so I can paste my comment and move on to other sleep. So, to expand on your very astute observation: Frantic to post, slothy to sleep.
And ASHY the 8th dwarf! 😂
Regarding "close to the dONs"...I hear it's the catbird seat when you need, you know, protection. Or want to know WTF PIAVE is.

@Whatsername 1127am Thanks for the info, but I'm currently (and beyond) all set since I got me some "forever stamps"! 😄

@Z I think somebody's feewings arwe huwt, you big, sexy meanie!

tkincher 12:21 PM  

I got my degree in math as well (Comp. Sci.) so I don't k now if that's a prerequisite for enjoyment here, but I did like this one. It skewed easy for me for a Sunday once I got rolling, except for bits in the S/SE. The ELAM/ASSAM crossing was guesswork, and I've certainly never heard of GAVOTTE and I don't know a thing about nail polish.

Frantic Sloth 12:23 PM  

@Pete 1111am "An hour or two?" What makes you think it would take that long?

Michiganman 12:25 PM  

@Z. Have you ever been to The Bluebird in Leland? They offer (or at least used to) whitefish prepared several different ways.

Anonymoose 12:27 PM  

My junior high brain connected "SEX is an emotion in motion" with "CLOSE TO THE BONE"

Teedmn 12:29 PM  

Solving online randomly, I came to the revealer early on, tried to make sense of it along with the title, failed and moved on. So only after I finished, did I go back to the EXPONENENTS concept and see that the answers connected by "to the" looked like EXPONENTS in the grid. Realizing this sooner would have helped me look in the correct direction when searching for the cross-referenced word but otherwise made little difference in the solve.

I liked the concept. Except for PLAY to the GALLERY, which isn't something I've heard, the phrases were all good. Some nice bonuses like ALACRITY, OINTMENT with a nice clue, SCRAWLED, ERUDITE, CATSPAW. And the head-scratcher HASTE clued as "Expedition" which I finally got when I thought of expedite.

Thanks, Jon and Anderson, you did not COSSET us. Congratulations on the debut.

burtonkd 12:35 PM  

If anyone looks at the title Power-Ups, that along with the Exponents revealer was a nice pair, and I should have got the gimmick sooner.

Only in Xworld is UINTA more known than WASATCH, which borders Salt Lake City and contains the famous ski resorts, including Park City, which you would know from the film festival if not from familiarity with skiing.

Seemed like very little actual junk fill, and a wide range of topics covered, if not very many phrases in the fresh, but not trying-too-hard-to-be-fresh zone. I'm with Lewis on the experience (as usual).

Didn't we just have CATSPAW and ASPIC. Pretty sure Will does this on purpose.

He Olde Smeltery 12:36 PM  

The exponent theme of x the x power was not particularly interesting to me but I did enjoy the rest of the fill. Yes, I agree with @anonymous 6 (something ) that a plant that smelts ore is called a SMELTER. Also, like @Z, I am familiar with WASATCH but unlike Z I have not seen the Uinta beer so have never heard of that range. Rex’s take on both of these seemed bizarre to me also.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

I agree with @chefwen - not my type of puzzle. Each answer was a slog and the "to the" phrases were not so common to me. What really bothered me was Rex's comments about math. First of all, exponents are learned in Algebra, not Calc II. And, why do people have to be so disparaging about math? Is it "cool" to say, for example "I read that word incorrectly. The last time I took an English course I received a D. Who cares about English and grammar when you have auto-correct on your computer anyway?" I realize Rex is an English teacher (and at my alma mater). Is English the only important subject to him? Does he have any respect for the science, math, language, history, gym and other teachers?

Lorelei Lee 12:47 PM  

The wheelhouse of this puzzle was part of a boat on the coast opposite my boat's location.

Most importantly, I intensely dislike seeing even one cross-referenced clue in a puzzle. So this was torture, and after a while I thought, "Why am I doing this to myself?"

It's a kind of tragedy, because the grid is filled to the brim with language I love ... Crowd In, Rub Off Plough, Et Alia, Alacrity, Pieta.

And Sneezy made me think of new Dwarf, Sneaky, who lies a lot and brings toxic narcissism to the mix.

But No Lie, I was In Hell.

jberg 12:53 PM  

I'm with @Nancy -- I did enjoy the theme, because it gave me the chance to try to guess the theme answers from the crosses. I think I had two or three of them before I got EXPONENTS, so that I knew where the "to the" had gone. It was fun.

And the fill was so ERUDITE, what with ELAM, ASSAM (might have Naticked there if I hadn't just used the last of a packet of tea leaves labeled "tippy Assam"), ESSENES. And then fun words like COSSET and ALACRITY. Also COARSE and HOARSER close to each other. What is it about that OARse sound that implies roughness?

I was a little troubled by the clue for ELAINE de Kooning, wondering how an abstract painter could be known for portraits, which are figurative by definition. But Wikipedia defines her as "an Abstract Expressionist and Figurative Expressionist painter," to there you are. I guess it's like calling DEION Sanders a baseball player with the Dallas Cowboys.

And the comments! It's old home week! I grew up in Door County (@puzzlehoarder), and my Dad was once on the front page of newspapers all across the country because he went smelt fishing with some friends, waded in over the top of his hip boots, and was photographed pouring a stream of smelt out of one of the boots. Yes, when they run, they get pretty dense!

Sad to hear of the corona-carelessness in Door County, especially as my brother and his wife are there now. We noticed the same thing in Captiva (FL) in late March -- I think people feel like they're in a remote paradise, far away and immune from contagion -- not realizing that people come there from all over the country, bringing their diseases with them; with much of the population turning over once a week, the risk is fairly high.

I'm not sure why I knew WASATCH, but I have an idea that a lot of businesses are named after the range and its eponymous county.

TTrimble 1:07 PM  

My experience with the puzzle closely matches Rex's. At first I thought it was me -- I woke up with insufficient sleep and felt mentally sluggish as I worked through the puzzle with a worse-than-average time -- so I was glad to come here and find out it wasn't just me.

I liked TRIREME. Agree that ART SCAMS is a little clunky. (It reminds me of Wheel of Fortune -- yes, I admit I watch that -- and the essential clunkiness of so many of the answers. A key to success on that show is to somehow get inside the clunky brains of the puzzle creators.) ESSIE is not familiar to me, nor is CAT's PAW, nor is WASATCH. I too puzzled over "Ape" or "Apex" before seeing AP EXAM. So yeah, I'm not really saying anything new here.

Suggestion for Rex, if he should ever again feel the need to expound on exponents and their notation: a nifty word to trot out is "superscript", parallel to "subscript".

@Barbara S. Last night I was going, "who is this pleasantly creative Anonymous?" Thanks for revealing yourself.

Different topic, which might be okay since people here seem to like discussing the SB's: anyone here do the occasional NYT cryptics? I managed to fill in everything correctly, but I didn't understand the cluing for 2D and 18D. I'm sure 2D is easy, but I'm not seeing it. (Oh for heaven's sake: just got it. Paraphrasing Borat, "Very nice!") But 18D still eludes me. I see ENT makes an appearance, elsewhere.

kqrbob 1:11 PM  


Joe Dipinto 1:15 PM  

@Whatsername – thanks for the tip but I don't really use stamps all that much. And I didn't have to wait on line that day (I would never wait on line at the P.O. just to get stamps).

CDilly52 1:16 PM  

Love the mnemonic and the analysis, @Frantic!

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Except for PLAY to the GALLERY

Many variations, which are more familiar, to me:
PLAY to the groundlings (Shakespeare)
PLAY to the cheap seats (Broadway)
PLAY to the nickel seats (early cinema)
PLAY to the balcony (also, Broadway)
PLAY to the mob (politics, esp. these days)

There are more, pretty sure, just cannot dredge any more up right now.

CDilly52 1:20 PM  

@Eggs. . . LOL. For reals. Thanks!

CDilly52 1:24 PM  

Not as painful as yesterday, largely because the theme was so darn easy and, I must agree with OFL, it became just a process rather than an adventure to find and fill, find and fill, rinse, repeat. And no real zing to the revealer. Clever, but not clever enough for that many entries, IMHO.

The fill, to me was anything but unknown. Some tough for sure and some very difficult or not well known people etc, but still Sunday-fair and fun. Less painful than yesterday for me anyway.

GILL I. 1:26 PM  

@Carola. We think governator Gavin, here in California, will re-issue the stay-at-home order. We've seen a huge spike of the virus. He ordered wearing masks but you'll always have the middle finger issuers. My niece and her boyfriend in Charleston SC both came down with COVID. She's a restaurant manager and her boss didn't deem it important to wear masks. They probably infected the whole restaurant. Luckily both are OK.
I went to Marshall's the other day to buy some summer clothing...there were many without masks. I told the manager that it was now mandated. She looked at me with pity and said that they can't lawfully enforce it. Bye bye Marshall' were nice to me once but I won't be seeing you anytime soon.

pabloinnh 1:27 PM  

Oh my, it seems like a lot of folks are unfamiliar with EXPONENTS. And yet every day we hear that the C-19 virus is growing EXPONENTIALLY. Ever wonder what that might be? I wish a few high-ranking politicians had given this a little more thought.

Thought I caught on early with the PLAY/GALLERY connection, but I wanted PLAY UP TO THE GALLERY, because GALLERY was, well, up, so I kept looking for phrases with "up to the" in them. Bad idea. I suppose I could have been looking for "up to and to the right", which would have been even dumber.

You can still get fried SMELT in a lot of NE restaurants, people still go SMELTING in the spring, and "smooth as a smelt"is a descriptor I've used about certain exemplary puzzles, so The Smelt abides, you might say.

Nice to see the ESSENES are still around .I was beginning to worry.

Swell debut, JS and AW. Keep at it. I even have to admit that the "See clue # ___" turned into a feature, not a bug, at least for me.

old timer 1:33 PM  

Fans of the California Zephyr train know the WASATCH Mounains. The train tunnels through the Rockies proper. The real scenery comes as the train rumbles through the WASATCH on the way to Salt Lake. Of course the trip over the Sierra is nice, but on most trips, the WASATCH produces all the oohs and aahs.

I did find all those cross-references tiresome, but if I can complete a Sunday with no lookups, and still have time to read the rest of the paper, I'm a happy camper.

LorrieJJ 1:38 PM  

Totally agree with Rex that this was a slog ... so annoying finding one thing and then having to locate another point to complete the thought ... 8 times! Ugh.

Masked and Anonymous 1:50 PM  

RAWR … Sure had a heckuva time makin much progress early on, at our house. The nanoseconds dribbled into the lostinspace bucket relentlessly.
Never thought we'd

Bein a math whizzer of old, I always woulda said the above as "GET ENDed". Kinda like x to the two woulda been "x squared", for m&e. In that lite, my fave themer was most definitely: WELCOME CLUBBED. But honrable mention to: CLOSE BONED.

U want wrong answers? Had em in spades, for 33-D's {Playful growl} …
* First try: AARF.
* Then AARR.
* Then AARG.
* Then BARK.
* Then BARF.
* Then RARF.
* Then RAWF.
* Then HARR.
* Then RAWR.
I know, I know … but I was still fightin to figured out CROWDIN. And ROOTED SPOTted. And PREACH CHOIRed. Did have PIETA nailed, tho.

fave fillin: THEDUDE. THEFATES. SCRAWLED. THELBOMB [but only when used as a crossref to LUNT]. ETHIOPIAN [took waaay too long to get this puppy. HAWR]. ALACRITY [went with possible word CELERITY, upfront].

staff weeject pick: ARK. Playful bark?

Thanx for the fun and congratz on yer debuts, J & A dudes. GAVOTTE?!?

Masked & Anonym8Us

p.s. Quite an idea by Trump and Pence, to avoid wearin the masks durin a more-infectious-than-snot pandemic. They should probably be goin viral with it, real soon.


Anonymous 1:52 PM  

Loved this one.
But I live in Utah.
We have a SMELTER here.

mathgent 2:04 PM  

Just to try to balance the books a little, let me jump in to say that I loved it. I agree that the gimmick was easy to detect, but there were a lot of other delights here. Sorry that more of us didn’t appreciate them.

DeeJay 2:05 PM  


Z 2:06 PM  

@Michiganman - I don’t think I’ve been there but it’s been years since I’ve been to Leland. I checked out their website and it definitely looks like my kind of place. SMELT and Lake Michigan whitefish on the menu.

Greg 2:07 PM  

ASSAM crossing ELAM and ESSENES? Pick a random vowel and consonant and hope they're correct.

Also, it's okay to put THE in front of anything now? Isn't that a no-no? I know THEFATES are a thing, but so are THEMUSES, THEVALKYRIE, etc etc. Seems to me that FATES could also be an answer for that clue.

Unknown 2:07 PM  

Just wondering how many puzzles Rex has constructed himself.

TTrimble 2:14 PM  

Yes. One trouble is that in popular usage, "grows exponentially" is almost always misapplied: just about any graph which is "increasing, concave up" somehow garners the phrase. So people generally don't have a clear idea what it really means. Since Rex mentioned Calculus II, I'll mention that part of teaching the sort of baby asymptotic analysis that comes up in such a course (e.g., relative growth rates involving polynomials, exponents, and logarithms) involves getting at least the good students to try to understand and visualize just how dramatic exponential growth truly is, on a visceral, intuitive level. (L'hopital's rule doesn't really cut it in terms of conveying that deep-down-in-the-bones feeling.)

So yeah, we need more politicians with a decent scientific background who can really understand and evaluate the meaning of an assertion like, "at least in the short term, unchecked spread of COVID-19 can be expected to obey roughly exponential growth".

ghthree 2:24 PM  

The SMELT controversy reminded me of a tongue-twister I learned from (believe it or not) my favorite math professor:

One smart feller. he felt smart.
Two smart fellers. they felt smart.
Three smart fellers. They all felt smart.

My wife Jane and I print two copies and solve on paper
on separate clipboards, calling out questions and answers as we go.
Neither of us likes cross-references, but I don't see how this theme could
have been implemented without them. Rex's suggestions strike me as nit-picking.

thefogman 2:37 PM  

@unknown 2:07, Xword Info has Michael Sharp aka Rex Parker listed as having had seven published puzzles in the NYT...

Mohair Sam 2:38 PM  

So on Friday Lady Mohair and I went to Lock Ridge Park in tiny Alburtis, Pennsylvania to share a lunch and find a little peace and quiet. Lock Ridge is on the site of two large SMELTERs (blast furnaces specializing in reducing iron ore according to the part-time volunteer tour guide) shut down about 100 years ago. Our favorite picnic table there is about 100 feet from the remains of the north SMELTER. So SMELTER is a fine word @Rex. And Lock Ridge Park gets 5 out of 5 stars from the 22 Trip Advisor votes. Be sure to put Alburtis on your bucket list.

Talk about a gimme. About twice a week for the past 25 years I have looked across the breakfast table at the words WASATCH MOUNTAINS. In 1995 I traveled to the mountains for the first time, had business in Salt Lake City. Flew in at night and woke the net morning high up in the Marriott downtown. Opened the curtains and gasped at the sight of the WASATCH - breath-taking and unforgettable for this flat earth Long Island native. Brought a WASATCH sweatshirt with a sketch of that view from the Marriott home to Her Ladyship and she more or less has lived in the thing for 25 years. Her other sweatshirt has been around 25 years too, says "Loyola Tennis" - but that's another story.

Hey, great debut guys - different concept, fun. Keep 'em coming.

Crimson Devil 2:39 PM  

Kudos to constructors; I am continually amazed at such feats.
But, golly, what a slog for me.
DEION was my way in, loved PLOUGH, but not much of rest.
Highlight today, for moi, was Rex’ link to Huey an’ ‘em: sure enjoyed seein Doc Brown.
Mae West reminded of short pandemic video someone recently sent me, but I’m so techno-challenged I dunno how to add here:
He, in one room, to spouse in next: Hey, I hear that sex is equivalent exercise to runnin six miles.
She: B... S..., whoever heard of runnin six miles in 30 seconds ?!

Anonymous 2:40 PM  


What it is, exactly, is geometric progression, which is the discrete equivalent.

For those seeking an example:

okanaganer 2:42 PM  

The last time I had a math class was Theoretical Calculus in 1980, and I got an A. I've forgotten almost all of it, but as far as I can recall Rex's description of exponent is just fine in an agreeably arm-waving way.

That class was quite an eye-opener. It sounds like it should be at the hard-science end of the spectrum, but it was actually similar to philosophy. Assume something, and use it to prove something else. Or prove something by proving that the opposite is untrue.

Fishfan 2:48 PM  

Guess Rex has a good set of choppers. Have broken two teeth (frozen 'snack size' Snickers, cherry pit) and both times had to listen to long explanation re crown vs. ONLAY. Hope his luck continues.

Anyone interested in art scams other than forgeries should check out the Alec Baldwin/Mary Boone lawsuit. Very funny.

But most important -- Michigan people! Anybody know a place still serving lake perch?

TTrimble 3:12 PM  

Indeed. The type of course you're describing goes by various names (such as Introductory Real Analysis and the like), and comes closer in spirit to conveying what professional pure mathematicians actually do (you're not wrong to say it can feel almost like doing philosophy). Abstract algebra is another course that gives a first such inkling. Mathematicians play around with abstract concepts and gain a feeling for their inner reality, and eventually we communicate our discovered truths of such realities by constructing rigorous arguments that demonstrate them. In actual fact, it's hella fun, an infinite garden of delight.

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

The trouble with "exponential growth" as a term to describe natural and social phenomena is that it is never really correct. Nothing grows exponentially forever, though sometimes it may feel that way, and often exponential growth is a good approximation for what is actually going on for an extensive period of time.

So to use the term correctly, you have to be incredibly careful with what you say, which makes it very hard to use.

Z 3:37 PM  

@Fishfan - I’m pretty sure Ottawa Beach Inn in Holland still serves lake perch. Also a couple of places in Saugatuck and Grand Haven. You all are making me homesick - at least my tastebuds.

@Anon2:40 - “Geometric progression” rang a bell but I had to look it up. To @TTrimble’s comment, the whole concept of R is a geometric progression I take it. So if COVID-19 has an R of 3.0 with no interventions that means if 10 people have it, in the next generation 30 people, then 90 then 270, then 720, then 2160 and in three months that 10 has gone to 6,480. But if you get the R to 1.1 then the progression is, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, then 18 in the same time (I rounded the numbers). Both are geometric progressions, but in common parlance we tend to think of that first as “exponential” even though the actual exponential pattern would be 10, 100, 1000, 10,000, ETC. Right?

@thefogman and @unknown2:07 - Rex stopped submitting to the NYTX some time ago. I know he has puzzles published elsewhere, but I don’t know of an easy way of finding them. The xword link includes screenshots of the completed grids, so if you want to solve them just look for the dates at the top of the grids. You should be able to access all of them from the archives.

Brenton 3:42 PM  

I really enjoyed this one. Difficult for me, but never too frustrating or daunting. I loved the theme. And sure, there were a few poor crosses and clues, but overall they were difficult and fun.

Can't believe Rex hasn't heard of CATSPAW. And SMELTER? C'mon.

ALACRITY brought me joy. I have some ASSAM tea in my cupboard.

THELBOMB took me a long time, even after getting the first B. Was so proud of getting THELWORD that I didn't want it to need fixing.

TTrimble 4:08 PM  

You've more or less got it right: in a geometric progression, the ratio from an entry to its successor is always the same, be it 3 or 1.1 or 10 (as in your last example).

I was actually making a somewhat different point to the comment that exponential functions must be seen as approximations to what we see in the real world and hence the need to be careful (which is true of course). The point I was making is that in popular parlance, the phrase "exponential growth" is bandied about very casually and liberally, is typically misapplied. For example, people are apt to describe a growth rate as "exponential" whereas in reality it may only be quadratic (on the order of x^2, roughly speaking). As we are discussing now, the proper mathematical use refers to special types of functions, and these functions grow very, very quickly (provided that the base R is greater than 1).

Anonymous 4:28 PM  

@Z, et alii:

With regard to Covid, and infectious disease generally, getting to R0 isn't, in general, enough. But it might be, depending on duration of disease and duration of immunity. Geometric progression assumes (effectively) infinite lifetime of the objects under investigation, thus Unit0 still exists when unit1,000,000 (any big number) comes into existence. With Covid R0 = 1 could still be very non-linear, aka doubling, perhaps; each unit begets one more unit, so 1 (persists and infects 1), 2 (both persist and infect 1), 4 (etc.), 8... still happens at 1. R0 is used to find how long doubling takes, not whether doubling exists.

With Covid, the value of R0 matters just because we don't know what the degree of recovered immunity is nor how long it lasts. The sooner we get it below 1 the better, since current data indicate that recovered immunity is neither robust (some still get infected) nor durable (data indicate a few months). Oops.

Once again, an ounce of prevention would have been worth a ton of cure.

[c'mon Rex, with math whizzes need sub and sup on/off tags to make this kind of stuff legible. go for it!!]

Birchbark 4:37 PM  

Chores done on a hot sunny day, and all this controversy made me hungry in a very precise way.

I got in the car and drove to nearby Scandia, a two-corner town where Meister's bar serves a SMELT basket appetizer. It is always exactly what you would expect, for good or ill.

But today they didn't have any -- said they hadn't for a while. "Not sure why, COVID or something." She asked if I'd like something else.

"No thanks, I sort of had a hankering for SMELT."

A guy at the bar nodded. "Sometimes people get that way." The first time that guy has ever spoken to me, after years of mutual sitting there.

I drove back down to the General Store in my town of Marine-on-St. Croix. They don't have SMELT or whitefish, but they did have Everett's smoked lake trout from Wisconsin.

Some of that on a bagel with cream cheese and "Mrs. Dash" -- it's all ye know on Earth, and all ye need to know.

JerryH 5:12 PM  

I only know WASATCH because it is a major oil field. Amusing story. Oil is very waxy, almost half of barrel is paraffin. A tanker was hauling oil from a well during winter. Turned over. State EPA rushes out anticipating A big spill. It was so cold that the workers were literally shoveling into barrels. Environmental disaster avoided. Yeah!

Travis 5:26 PM  

Would have been a great day to mention LGBTQ Pride and Protest

pabloinnh 5:45 PM  

Oh oh. I knew that "growing exponentially" was technically inaccurate, and now I know why. Actually I can't say I "know" why, but that's not the fault of the math whizzes. Yikes.

What I do know when I hear that term used is that we have to take this thing a lot more seriously than too many people are taking it. Mother Nature doesn't give a damn about how defiant we can be, and not being seriously ill doesn't mean the person you infect will have the same good luck. I'm still hoping we can pass the marshmallow test, but if previous results are any indicator of future performance, we'd better start doing better.

JC66 5:49 PM  



Anonymous 6:27 PM  

A horse is hoarse, of course, of coarse!


Z 6:37 PM  

@Anon4:28 - regarding subscripts and superscripts, that’s Blogger not Rex.

@pabloinnh 5:45 - Amen.

Anonymous 7:23 PM  

One more picky comment on exponential growth. It doesn't have to be fast. If something grows by 1%, compounded, every year, that's exponential, but it takes 70 years to double, which is slow for most kinds of phenomena. Of course, after 7000 years, it's really, really big.

ChuckD 7:31 PM  

@pabloinnh - real world common sense - who would’ve thought. Thank you.

Pete 7:42 PM  

@pabloinnh - pass the marshmallow test as a nation? Not very likely.

Within the past 3 minutes, someone on 60 Minutes referred to sellers of invalid Covid tests as frauds, shysters & con-artists, with relationships to Jews anywhere, any time.

TTrimble 8:08 PM  

I was speaking specifically in the context of asymptotic analysis. Any exponential function a^x for a > 1, grows faster than any polynomial, as understood in that sense.

Lorelei Lee 8:25 PM  

@Pablo, Assuming your talking about the test of patience v. immediate gratification, we've failed that test. Pausing reopening at a point that was clearly too early? The marshmallow is already gone.

Anonymous 9:15 PM  

Two examples of exponential growth: 1. Global population.
2. A fictitious story about a king and a jester. The jester did something amazing and the king was very impressed. The king asked the jester "How can I pay you?". The jester says take a chess board. Put a grain of wheat on the first square. Put 2 grains on the second square, then 4 grains on the next square, and double the number of grains on each successive square. So 8, 16, 32, ... The jester asks the king if the king will agree to this plan. The king says yes. The king gets bankrupted.

albatross shell 9:55 PM  

The expedition started with expedition. What a waste.

TTrimble 10:08 PM  

Radio silence in response to my plea for help at 1:07pm, but it's okay, because returning to it now, I get it. "From the south" in 18D is a backwards thing. Making the explanation obvious.

So, never mind. G'night, all.

Anoa Bob 10:08 PM  

Anon@9:15, those are the two examples of EXPONENTial growth that I was thinking of. The first is a real-world example and probably would not fit exactly to a mathematical model due to local variations and the latter is a fictionalized picture of what the pure mathematical model would look like after 63 iterations (64 squares on the chess board).

For an amusing twist on how the king can extricate himself from this disastrous situation, check this out. Hint: It involves an exponential series.

Frantic Sloth 10:18 PM  

@pabloinnh 545pm 👍waaay⬆️ We ordered some takeout tonight and the youngster (20s maybe?) wasn't wearing a mask. The wife asked him why and he laughed at her. So I shot him.
Okay, I jest, but the longer the self-centered, empathy-deficient, ignorant masses whine about "discomfort" and being "told what to do" and behaving the same way, the longer it's gonna drag on. How deaf, dumb, blind, and reckless do you have to be to act this way??
Really. How much?? You math guys have a formula?? 😉

A Moderator 10:47 PM  

@Frantic Sloth

I inadvertently deleted your second comment.

Please post again.

Frantic Sloth 11:00 PM  

Thank you @A Moderator - your wish is my command.🙂

@Lorelei Not only is the marshmallow gone, but the chirren drinkin' our milkshakes, gnawin' on the table linens and crappin' on our collective lawn. 😕

Mohair Sam 11:19 PM  

@A Moderator (10:47) - You were right the first time.

Engine Ear 12:21 AM  

There are 5 Korean surnames which account for over 50% of the Korean population (with anglicized spelling variants): Kim, Lee, Park, CHOI, and Chong. So, I didn't actually think that was an unfair clue/answer. Something to keep in mind the next time a popular (or unknown!) Korean's name is clued.

I enjoyed the puzzle over all, and as an engineer am therefore an exponent of the theme.

Hartley70 2:20 AM  

I played around with this off and on all day then into the early hours before I plunked in the last letter before going to sleep. It wasn’t impossible, but it made me work in several spots before the light bulb lit, ARTSCAM, ETHIOPIAN, SILOS. It was definitely a welcome workout on a day when I needed a diversion.

Mr Angelis 7:23 AM  

Omg f-bomb the 7 dwarves

Travis 7:40 AM  

(Aimed at the puzzle, not Rex 😬)

Unknown 7:56 AM  

You know what also fits in the revealers place? 'NTHPOWERS'. And DOWN goes another grid because I can't let go of a good wrong answe. LOL.

kitshef 8:45 AM  

Loved it. Will surely be in the running for puzzle of the year, in the shefhouse.

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

You're so vain...and yes, someone already made that comment

Anonymous 8:42 PM  

Maybe it's just me, but this was the sloggiest Sunday puzzle I've done in a long time. Maybe it's all those "see this other clue" clues.

Anonymous 2:15 AM  

You are right about the local variations. That is why I specified "global". BTW, look at centuries, not annual rates, or decades. Thanks for your comments.

Unknown 2:40 PM  

And yet again, I have to ask have you ever met a crossword you actually liked?

Alex 9:58 PM  


Shivaun ODonnell 6:34 PM  

Totally agree.

Burma Shave 11:57 AM  


ALL THEDUDEs say she's HOARSER on balance:
during SEX PLAY she's a SCREAMER.


spacecraft 12:59 PM  

DNF; there was just Too Much I Didn't Know. Raise your hand if you have ever seen PIAVE before--or know whether you did or not. Ah, I see you. You're a chef, right? And how INHELL do we get from "Expedition" to HASTE??? These clues were beyond brutal, they were downright sadistic. I had to fight for virtually everything, save THEDUDE and DEION. I just couldn't last the course. "CLOSE to the BONE? Is that a thing? I've heard: "The nearer the bone the sweeter..." ETC. BAD to the bone. Too much like work--and today's Sunday. That is ALL.

Diana, LIW 1:27 PM  

Left me feeling like I was 59A.

Agree with @Spacey's first remarks.

Lady Di, Waiting for Monday

rondo 2:23 PM  

@spacey - something expedited is done with expedition, HASTE. But it took a while for me to 'get' that one.
Did not care for the cross referencing. Otherwise, see @D,LIW's comments about @spacey's comments.
AIMEE Mann, YEA baby.
This puz may be in the RACEtotheBOTTOM.

Anonymous 4:09 PM  

Isn't it a no-no to include a word from a crossword answer in it's clue? 21 across clue includes The (Big Lebowski), as does it's answer (THE DUDE). Two The's.

Or is that maybe a hint to the theme? Two The' in all the "to the's" are missing.

leftcoaster 7:53 PM  

Cross referenced clues are my least favorite puzzle features. Sixteen of them here, no less. A clear indication of an extra-tedious Sunday slog. No thanks.

Anonymous 11:21 PM  

I did it,bit it took until Monday !

sutchey 3:28 PM  

61A. Alacrity has nothing to do with clue Promptness. Alacrity is Latin based and means a brisk and cheerful readiness. Nothing to do with time.

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