French department that borders Switzerland / THU 7-30-20 / Appropriate ratio for this puzzle

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Easy (?) (very easy for most of you, but not for me; I was so confused by the way the puzzle came across in my software and by having to navigate the grid in an unnatural way that my time came out very normal)

THEME: TWO / TO ONE (51- and 54-Across: Appropriate ratio for this puzzle?) — every across answer comes in two successive parts, so TWO parts TO every ONE answer, I guess

Word of the Day: FALL / LINE (17A & 18A: It's all downhill from here) —
• • •

This is one of those "feats of construction" that you can shoot into the sun, please and thank you. I'm sure it was a challenge to make, but that absolutely does not translate into "pleasure to solve." It's not even that the gimmick is hard to grasp—it's not. It's ultimately very simple. It's straightforward. But imagine ... you know how annoying it is when you encounter one too many cross-reference clues, one too many [With 14-Across, blah blah blah]-type of clue, where you have to look in a different section of the grid for whatever the back end of some answer is? OK, yes, annoying, agreed; now imagine ALL the Acrosses are like that. All of them. ALL of them force you into another section of the grid in order to finish them off. And sometimes, a lot of the time, that means your first part is in the east and your second part is Back In The West. And why? The payoff? Ha ha, joke's on you, there is none. None. It just goes on like that. With no interesting fill, no good answers, hardly any longer answers at all, literally every single damned across entry is made up of 3- 4- or 5-letter bits. Nothing longer. Only (2) answers in the Downs longer than five (5!!!). Absolute drudgery. I guess the easiness is going to make people feel ... successful or good, I don't know. Most people will certainly finish faster than usual, perhaps faster than they've ever finished a Thursday puzzle. But this theme ... I can see how as a constructor you might have the idea and try it out, but once you saw that even if you *could* do it, it would be dreary at best, you'd think ... you wouldn't ... do it. It's not like anyone's going to get to TWO / TO ONE and go "Ohhhh!" or "Aha!" or anything. All in all it's just one more split-answer brick in the wall.

So a brief explanation of why my time was totally average while the rest of you were going very fast. First, I'm tired. Second, I move through puzzles section by section, as a rule. Work the crosses on answers I've already got. When I have to jump sections for every single Across, it's like being forced out of my normal puzzle rhythm at every turn. Just feels yuck. Also, my software was presenting the clues in a weird way. Like this:

I looked at "1a. & 5." and honestly didn't know what it meant. In normal newspaper layout, there's just "1. & 5." under the normal "Across" heading, so the meaning is something closer to transparent. With the "a." part attached to just the first number, I thought, I don't know, maybe math or some other weird thing was involved. It's Thursday, after all, so who knows? The worst part of the solve for me was actually realizing I have no idea what a FALL LINE is. Unless it's a fashion thing. Otherwise, no idea. None. Just none. Tree line, sure. Fall guy, yep. Fault line, definitely. But FALL LINE, wow, made it to 50 without experiencing this one. This is obviously a problem with me, not the puzzle, but it certainly didn't help my mood (which even by then was already pretty foul).

I had OMAN before IRAN (2D: Charter member of OPEC). I don't really know the term LAND / USERS. I laughed out loud at ASPEN / TREE, which is the HAIKU / POEM of this puzzle. I also laughed at MADE / ABID, which feels very "green paint"-y.* At least WAITA / SEC, as a whole, feels like a solid, stand-alone expression. MADE / ABID is just a mini ATEASANDWICH. I think the past tense here is just ... BID. And omg I struggled with the GOOD in GOOD / TONE. GOOD? Just ... GOOD? "Even," "measured," ok, but just GOOD felt vague and confusing. I've heard $100 bills called "C-NOTES" and "Benjamins," for sure, but BENS?? Sigh. That would have people wondering if you weren't talking about a Mercedes. Bizarre. LRON is always awful as fill and AIN is pAINful. With your whole grid made up of 3-to-5 letter bits, those bits could At Least be clean. But no, LRON AIN. That is some 1980s-normal fill right there. And even the two longer answers don't really do much. They're completely acceptable—hell, compared to the rest of the fill, they're two big breaths of fresh air. But your FOLK MUSIC TOILET BAG can't make up for THE slash AISLE (wow) or the rest of it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*"green paint" = phrase that, sure, one might say, but that doesn't really hold up as a stand-alone crossword answer

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Melrose 12:02 AM  

A joyless, uninteresting slog. Too easy for a Thursday.

km3t 12:03 AM  

First reaction: kinda like the idea. At least we're striving for something fresh, even if it's a bit gimmicky.
Second reaction: Oof. The fill sure suffers.

Joaquin 12:06 AM  

For the constructor of this puzzle, there must have been a high degree of satisfaction and a good deal of fun.

For this solver, not so much.

Harryp 12:06 AM  

I quickly got the NW and NE filled in and working out the top middle gave me an insight as to what was ahead. Down at the bottom I knew what raising the paddle meant, so that helped a lot. Fast solve, then went to Mr. Fagliano's regular gig. He's on a roll too!

jae 12:08 AM  

Easy. Easier than yesterday’s. No erasures and the only thing that gave me pause was “Like a BOSS!”. I’m I missing some Gen Z slang? I just checked the print version and the clues there are more straightforward than the clues in the app I used on my iPad which are identical to @Rex’s.

At Xwordinfo Joel says this took a long time to construct because of the constraints. I appreciate the effort but the solve was at first irritating and then kinda meh. I mean for every BEES KNEES you have a MEAT PIE, THE AISLE, PULL SHUT, GOOD TONE..., or what @Rex said. I didn’t hate it.

mathgent 12:14 AM  

Everything Rex said about it is true and yet it is even worse. Shortz should be ashamed.

egsforbreakfast 12:14 AM  

Agree with the gist of what Rex says, if not the tone or the details. I, like nearly all other sentient beings other than Rex, know the term “fall line”. However, it is definitely a constructors challenge and not much of one for a solver. It did bug me that 29D TOILETBAG could have been better clued as a colostomy need, and that this was one of only two answers longer than five letters.

Roberto 12:16 AM  

Why??? No fun to solve. Surely there must be someone
out there who can provide a better Thursday puzzle to us.

Rob Rushing 12:20 AM  

I normally am irked by Rex’s curmudgeon take, but I can’t disagree here at all. Super fast, super easy, largely annoying.

manitou 12:21 AM  

Another reason why the puzzle was so easy is that it's only 15 by 14.

Richardf8 12:24 AM  

My god. It feels like I’ve already worked three days this week, but if this puzzle is any indicator, I’ve got four more to go. Still, not a bad theme for a Monday, and I definitely got a Monday time.

Wait? This was a Thursday puzzle? Really?


Seriously this only works if the phrases are hyphenated and they aren’t.

A rebus? A bit of ourobouros shenanigans? A little something to push back on? Nope, just a 1040EZ of a form to fill out.

pyroclasts 12:24 AM  

Wow, 20 minutes for me, less than half my average time!

No clue really stood out to me, but neither did I dislike any of them, and the relative lack of 3-letter crosswordese always help

As a zoomer, I certainly never heard of the Opie, but crosswords sure have beat that one into my brain over the last year

Alex M 12:29 AM  

As soon as I grasped the gimmick I knew Rex would hate this with a burning passion... Definitely a slog, though a quick one.

Anonymous 12:30 AM  

I feel I’ve seen a lot of 14x16 and 15x16 grids but never 14x15. Even as a nonconstructor, I see the need for an even number of across clues for this theme (which I agree wasn’t much fun) but don’t see the need for an even number of rows.

Anon 12:30 AM  

I'm pretty sure OFL is being trolled.

Randy (Boulder) 12:32 AM  

Each answer spans two clue numbers? That's TWO TO ONE? That's the theme? There has to be more to it than that... right?

Anonymous 12:34 AM  

I am commenting here because I usually comment on the NYT website and generally subscribe to the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all” school of internet commenting. All that said...

Good lord. I absolutely hated this puzzle. It was totally pointless. The theme answers had nothing redeeming about them. They weren’t tricky. The fill was insipid. I think the editorial staff just wanted to do a solid for a long-time contributor who had been working on a puzzle for a long time and wanted to reward his efforts. If not for those factors I can’t imagine how this merited publication.

JD 12:41 AM  

Wife To Be, Pull Shut, Meat Pies, Scrap Iron, The Aisle, Land User. Something ties these answers together as a genre … words fail me.

William of Ockham 12:44 AM  

Rather easy, I look forward to the comments and NYT comments from Deb. Going to bed.

Joe Dipinto 12:47 AM  

John and Michie were gettin' kind of itchy
Just to leave the folk music behind

Take your WiFi ass and your rude toilet bag out of here this second.

Bourbon Street 12:48 AM  

I took one look at the across clues and quickly decided to start solving using down clues. The puzzle was so much easier to solve after filling in as many down answers as I could, but I like a challenge on Thursdays so I was a little disappointed.

Thank heavens for some originality for the clue for ETA. The “pilot’s announcement” or “abbr. in an airport” clueing gets tiring.

Has anyone who is alive today ever said or heard anyone else use the expression BEES KNEES? Didn’t think so.

It’s always good to see the great Jesse OWENS in the puzzle.

TTrimble 1:06 AM  

Well, I'm up and just finished about 10 minutes ago, so I'll be (one of) the first.

First, why yes Rex, you're right: it kind of played easy for me. I almost broke my record for a Thursday, except that I got a bit hung up in the S to SE. I still don't understand MADE A BID for "raised one's paddle", making that hard to guess, and I first had "IPA" instead of the correct answer ALE, and I thought maybe "TOILET kit?" instead of TOILET BAG, and finally I interpreted the "extolling" in "extolling poems" as a gerund instead of an adjective. So the whole area confused me for a while.

I can understand the general annoyance of going back and forth over the clues like that (only on the acrosses,of course), so I figure the best strategy for those who want an awesome time would be to focus more on the down clues. (But what do I know.) But Rex would probably be wrong to think that most of us don't proceed section by section as he describes himself doing. I prefer doing this myself. On the other hand, I know nothing of his software.

Has the tone of Rex's reviews mellowed slightly? He seems somewhat less irascible recently, and maybe this disposes me to read him rather more sympathetically. Anyway, I agree with most of his complaints after the embedded video The Fall Guy. My own association with FALL LINE is something like the point at which many river cities are built, like my birth town of Richmond, VA, where heading any more inland, the river narrows and becomes shallower and thus less navigable. Head east on the James down river (i.e., "falling") toward the Chesapeake and the ships have no problem. So Richmond, like many cities, was naturally built on the fall line.

---[SB Alert]---

Wednesday's solutions: oh for crying out loud. I'll wait a few hours to say more, but give me a frickin' break. I suppose one that I missed must be native to Australian English, hence I might have known since I lived there for a few years. But another longish one: my lord, I had to spend about three minutes just imagining how to pronounce it. There were two others I missed for similarly explicable reasons, but I'll leave it at that. I'll suppose I was not alone in all this.

CuppaJoe 1:17 AM  

I agree with Rex’s rant but it had me at BEES KNEES. Had a sense of going cross-eyed as it went along but it’s got the BEES KNEES.

okanaganer 1:18 AM  

Again I agree with Rex's assessment tonight. Why should I even comment? Only to say that for 24 down "shape of the British pound sign" with E-- I confidently put in EAR.

[SB alert - Spelling Bee...
today really irked me; four very obscure words that I never would have gotten. What is going on here? So arbitrary.

To bolster my argument, have a look at this (SPOILER ALERT!! if clicked, this graph shows 3 "correct" words for today's --Wednesday-- Spelling Bee): Google ngram showing the rate of usage of 5 words. Note the three totally obscure words huddling at the bottom of the graph are "acceptable" today, while the two other words, which I use in everyday speech, are always "unacceptable".

LinusH 1:24 AM  

Do you enjoy crossword puzzles, as a genre? From the last ~two weeks of posts, I'm guessing no.

Cliff 1:37 AM  

Yes, super easy. My best time ever for a Thursday (23 minutes). But it would have been much faster were it not for the unusual navigating of the online version.

goldbug 2:02 AM  

Had almost nothing for the Acrosses on my first pass and thought this was going to be a tough nut to crack. Then the Downs were Monday Mini-level easy. Almost certainly a Thursday record for me, but - crucially - not an achievement that made me feel particularly clever.

Coniuratos 2:26 AM  

Really didn't expect my fastest Thursday ever to also be that annoying to solve.

Frantic Sloth 2:27 AM  

Oh goody - it's looky-loo clues! And not just looky-loo clues, but a whole theme of looky-loo clues! No - wait!! Even more - an entire puzzle of looky-loo clues! What the hell just happened here? Because I'd really like to know.

Every entry in this grid is ridiculously simple. Did someone leak the Circus Peanut's "intelligence" test in crossword form?

Oh. I forgot the one exception:
What the hell is a FALL LINE?

Gonna check Rex.

Well, see now? Reading Rex I learned the meaning of the 2 to 1 ratio in the theme and the definition of FALL LINE. In the case of the latter, my reaction was of the "Hmph. Interesting tidbit of knowledge" variety, while the former left me longing for the return of blissful ignorance. *sigh*

If ever a puzzle belonged on a Mondee... Honestly, what were you thinking, Mr. Shortz? There is no way this interloper puzzle belongs on a Thursdee. Or just belongs...period.

Come to think of it, except for that business about timing himself (which 😴💤), I'm in complete agreement with OFL on this one. KoolAid toasted with and gulped with glee.

Ugh. Just...ugh. What a stinker!


Karl 3:12 AM  

I did not find this puzzle to be very fun, either. It just felt like a chore.

chefwen 3:13 AM  

Coming out of my printer I looked at the across clues and thought that’s really odd, this ones going to be tricky. Figured solving the downs first would be the way to go. Turned out the the across clues were the easy ones, switched sides and voila, I was done. So easy I printed out a copy for puzzle partner who has never ventured solo beyond Wednesday. He finished with only one little assist from me when he came across 49D he said “I’ve ever played a sleep over game, help me out here”.

Fun puzzle but too easy for Thursday’.

Anonymous 5:46 AM  

The FALL LINE is the path of the maximum gradient of gravitational force, usually in connection with a ski slope. It is approximately the path a ball would follow if set down on a slope.

ChuckD 6:16 AM  

I usually don’t like cross reference clues - but after realizing the entire puzzle was that way and got into a rhythm the solve went quick. No real ugly stuff- but nothing that shines either. As a skier - FALL LINE was pretty easy and liked the connection later on to SKI SLOPE. I love trees - especially the quaking or trembling aspen - and can field identify most in the NE but have never referred to an aspen as an ASPEN TREE - I guess it’s today’s Haiku Poem. Not a Joni or Joan fan - but FOLK SINGER is a nice entry.

Highly impressive construction - but just like the web earlier in the week created mainly for the constructor’s benefit. I really was hoping for a tough rebus today.

Lewis 6:38 AM  

Oh, man. What a remarkable concept and finished grid, from one constructor to another, Joel. What an amazing accomplishment -- how did you fill this grid in?

But dang, dang, dang -- it was too easy! No resistance anywhere, IMO, like gliding down from the FALL LINE. Splat -- done!

In my opinion, this would have been one of those never-ever-to-forget puzzles, with more rub. As it is, it is never-forget. How DID you construct this?

Tougher cluing overall, including a few masterly clues (like the one you made for COUNT in the Mini) would have made this iconic, for me.

Still, I feel privileged to have done this puzzle, able to appreciate the brilliance of what you pulled off. Thank you greatly -- truly -- Joel, for one of my wows of the year.

kitshef 7:12 AM  

It happens very rarely – once a year or so – but occasionally one clue/answer pair basically spoils the entire puzzle. This is one of those days. Like a BOSS = ridiculous.

Other than that, this was a Monday or Tuesday posing as a Thursday. Once you get the trick, which takes about three seconds, there is no challenge at all.

Give a real clue for BOSS and run on a Tuesday, and I’d say this is fine. So – blame mostly goes to Will for this one.

Anonymous 7:14 AM  

This belongs on Monday. Tuesday, if you want to be kind. But not Thursday.

Hungry Mother 7:14 AM  

Very, very easy. Not a fan of knowing French departments, but no sweat.

j. 7:19 AM  

Like Rex, I really dislike clues split across two grid answers. This one drove me up the wall. And yet, seems like this was my fastest Thursday solve. Meh.

EJames 7:26 AM  

Thankfully, I got enough of the downs that I was able to fill in a lot of the crosses without reading the clue. In retrospect, you're right...a lot of cringe-worthy stuff here.

As for FALL LINE, however,it set this playing in my mind for the rest of the solve. So, I couldn't be too angry:

Leslie 7:26 AM  

My eyes actually hurt.

rjkennedy98 7:27 AM  

Once I figured out how to navigate this properly in the app this was record time for me for a Thursday. The aha moment for me was figuring out how to navigate through the clues in the app. Every time you hit a "-" just look back. Maybe the instructions should've been the revealer instead of the joyless TWO TO ONE.
Totally agree with Rex about some of the fill being pretty awful. GOOD TONE to me was so cringy. ASPEN TREE doesn't need commentary. I guess theyhad to live with some questionable phrases to make the puzzle work (sigh).
Still, I more or less enjoyed the puzzle - at least for giving me a new high for Thursday.

Petsounds 7:33 AM  

Best time ever for a Thursday. But I feel almost ashamed--as if I'd cheated or something. No need for that, though, because the puzzle turned out to be so easy. When I saw that every Across clue was what @Frantic Sloth delightfully calls a "looky-loo," I didn't even want to bother. I hate those clues! As Rex says, they throw your rhythm off, as you scroll up, scroll down, click the mouse to rock back and forth between two clues.

But doing all the Downs first made it incredibly easy. Even for someone who is completely lacking in sentience, according to @egsforbreakfast, and has never heard the term FALL LINE before.

Agree with @Lewis: I admire the work that went into the construction, but I wish it had been more challenging.

Anonymous 8:06 AM  

Monday easy for me. Did the downs first, and then the acrosses came super easy leaving just a few empty squares across the puzzle. Super boring.

CDilly52 8:09 AM  

This seems to be one of those interesting to the constructor-not so much for the silver days. I liked it more than others, but it was awfully easy for Thursday and, at least for me, not any marquee “payoff” or even a small chuckle. That’s it for me. Have a good day everybody and stay healthy!

mmorgan 8:12 AM  


ow a paper cut 8:21 AM  

I liked it because it gave me the illusion of being smart.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

Easier than Wednesday and about as bad. Worst Thursday in a long time. Joel and Will should be ashamed to publish this. Full of junk and green paint. Not a clever clue to be found.


Annette 8:27 AM  

Rex was too gentle.

JEPlanet 8:28 AM  

I'm with @Petsounds - Best time ever on a Thursday, but so easy I felt like it didn't count. I like a bit of a challenge on Thursdays, and I flew through this one. Impressed by the construction, but did not enjoy.

Mireille 8:31 AM  

Fastest Thursday ever by a wiiiide margin, less than 1/3 my average time. Faster than my Monday average. So easy. I ignored the acrosseses completely for the first half because the down clues had no challenge. Then when I started looking at the across clues, the only challenge was that the answers were so generic and simple I momentarily thought there had to be a trick... but no. I may as well give up on Thursdays forever because I'll never beat this time.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

I thought that this puzzle was easy and boring. But I thought that your blog was hilarious. You often remind me of one of my brothers. When we play golf together he always has an excuse when he hits a poor shot. ie. "My shoe was untied, the sun got in my eyes, I was distracted by a bird, somebody coughed, my phone vibrated." You are like ie. I had a drink, I was tired, my software messed me up, it was too late, it was too early. You get the picture 😁

Pamela 8:38 AM  

Me too for finding this puzzle completely annoying. And way to easy, especially for a Thursday. From the get-go, I saw that working the downs would be the way to go- but then the acrosses were so obvious, even from just one letter, that I went back and forth and was done in less than half my regular time. Not that I usually notice or care, but the app keeps track and tells me.

So now we’ve had 4 days of ridiculously easy puzzles, no real crunch anywhere. After that one absolutely brilliant one last Thursday, I suppose nothing could come close... but do they have to be so completely uninspiring?


I’m glad I didn’t keep beating my head in over this one. That FOOF word, I actually think I’ve seen before. No idea where or when, but I’ve been an avid reader ever since Dick and Jane- I’d read cereal boxes at the breakfast table if there was nothing else. At one point, my mother limited me to one book a day. We would take out 7 books a week from the library, and every day I’d have to bring her the one I’d finished and choose the next one. But I would sneak downstairs at night and switch them out, so I was done within a few days. Then I was stuck with all the books in Dad’s library, which seemed immense to a little girl. I read whatever I could begin to comprehend- novels, literature, even Shakespeare. And mysteries and science fiction, which were in his closet, and supposedly off limits. Hah!

But what is WALLAROO? Humph!

Greg Miller 8:48 AM  

Thursday puzzles are what I most look forward to each week. This puzzle was a let down. Too easy, and the gimmick was lame. What a week so far. Tuesday and Wednesday were harder than Thursday for me. What do Friday and Saturday have in store for us?

Greg Miller 8:58 AM  

Oh, and regarding Fall Line, as an avid outdoorsman my whole life, that one was a bit of a gimme. That's my payback for all those Oscars winning film from 1937 clues that you sickos have memorized and find easy lol

Kathy 8:59 AM  

Maybe the joke is on us courtesy of the King of the Mini. Who would have more short words and clues in his quiver than Joel?

I grimaced when I saw that all the a crosses were cross-referential but, once I got going, I found it very easy. Way too easy for a Thursday—like many others I broke my record.

I didn’t understand the 2:1 ratio either. I kept looking at the relative letter counts of word pairs and obviously that didn’t work, so I just waited for Rex to ‘splain it to me. Glad I didn’t try to dig any further because the THUD was deafening. I also thought that LAND USERS was weak.

But I must admit that I enjoyed the puzzle anyway. The word pairs were fun because they were a departure from the usual.

I do think it would have made an entertaining Tuesday. But the seasoned solvers wait all week for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so I can see where its appearance today was a huge disappointment for them.

Ernonymous 8:59 AM  

Put me down in the hated it column. I always called that a Toilet KIT so that slowed me some.

I hate split clues, they make me dizzy. I was very happy when I saw the Downs were not split. Now, that would be a feat: Make a puzzle where the across and downs are both split.

Did this happen to anyone else or am I a complete idiot? (don't answer that!):
The first time I saw the DASH-- as the clue, I thought maybe that is the trick to this puzzle. Then I saw another DASH and I thought "cool" this is going to lead to something. These DASHES are the Thursday trick. Then I saw another DASH and I thought this is really going to be tricky. Then it dawned on me the DASH was just the other part of the clue. DOH!

Then when I got to the revealer I thought maybe it had to do with the length of the answers or their order or the number of letters could be divided into each other or they had a ratio like 6:3 or 8:4. When I was done I checked Word Play to see if there was something I missed. The big payoff. Nope.

I don't know why on a puzzle like this people would be happy that it is their best Thursday time. I think it was my best Thursday time, but that's depressing not something to be proud of. It means there was no challenge and it sucked.

Pamela 9:04 AM  


Today’s BEE is a hoot! I laughed out loud at a couple, and made Genius in record time. One more to go...

Nancy 9:04 AM  

Not a hard puzzle in any way, just an unusually annoying one. Each Across word, taken by itself, is a really dull word. And when you put the two words together (a real pain in the neck while solving, btw) what you get then is...a really dull phrase. Or else you get Green Paint, as in: GOOD TONE. LAND USERS. THE AISLE. And the truly baffling FALL LINE. I have no idea what that is.

A real dud of a Thursday and a complete disappointment. And it's a shame when I know there's a Thursday waiting (and waiting and waiting) in that endless queue that I truly believe will knock your socks off.

Kathy 9:07 AM  

Like a BOSS was actually the only fun clue for me who, as a millennial, grew up on Andy Samberg’s The Lonely Island YouTube skits. Also, FOLK is a genre of MUSIC.

TTrimble 9:11 AM  

---[SB Alert]---

-->> Spoilers from yesterday's <<--

I'm gonna shoot first and ask questions later: my guess is that WALLAROO is an Australian English portmanteau for a baby wallaby. Even if that's wrong, I'd wager that it is derived from an Aborigine language.

It's ridiculous nonetheless.

FALLOFF as one word didn't occur to me. And no way would I have gotten -- what the hell was it? -- FOOFERAW? Again shooting first, just by the sound I would think it means either "nonsense" or "ado".

I kick myself for overlooking FARRO, and I could kick Sam Ezersky for omitting "faro". I think for me the second is responsible for the first.

Ooh, today's is a weird one.

KnittyContessa 9:20 AM  

I can usually find something good to say about a puzzle. Not today. For the first time in memory I almost walked away without attempting to solve. Not that it was difficult - it was incredibly easy - but it was sooooo annoying.

Does anyone use the term TOILET BAG? It's toiletry bag, maybe toilet kit.

Ugh Nothing good to say.

JD 9:23 AM  

Told the wife to be I was thinking of a small affair, drag it down the aisle, scrap all the fancy, just have an open house, beer and meat pies, pull the door shut after that and take off. She wanted an ashram honeymoon in India. I’m thinking, yeah right, that’d be the bee’s knees.

So I said Rose honey, wait a sec, maybe Aspen instead of the ashram. We’ll just throw some shit in a toilet bag, put some air in the tires, check the oil, and hit the road. Betcha two to one, we’ll have a better time and protect the old nest egg. It’ll set a good tone for the future.

And I still can’t believe it, but she says, “It’s a TOILETRY bag, there’ll be no meat pies, it’s the vegan brunch for 100 at the Fairmont that my mother planned, and you won’t be there. It’s off. I can’t deal with your back and forth.”

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

I thought this puzzle was fine, much better than the usual rebus. But I still don't understand how ENL is an abbreviation for a photo lab request, any help?

pmdm 9:30 AM  

First, my reaction to the puzzle.

Solving on paper, I could care less if there are two sequential entries for a clue. What I do care about is a puzzle that crams in a wealth of PPP unknown to me. And this puzzle avoided that in spades. At least for me, this was why the puzzle seemed easy for a Thursday. Not even one web search. No problem with that.

About the reactions of others.

I expected many to absolutely loath this puzzle, and I am not disappointed. I accept that. But what strikes me is how east it is to slide into selfishness. (One only need to count those who don't mind murdering others by failure to wear a face mask.) Perhaps that seems a bit over the top, but if I'm the one who dies because a person didn't wear a mask and infected me, yes, I would consider that person as having murdered me. Anyway, it's one thing to hate a puzzle. It's another to say Shortz should not have published the puzzle because I hated it and to hell with all those who actually liked the puzzle. Perhaps they are in the minority. Even the great minority. But they deserve puzzles now and then which they like and you don't.

Too tough for newbies to be published on a Monday or Tuesday. Seems more apt to me for a Wednesday date. Thursday? Maybe a little two easy for most. And maybe too easy a gimmick to figure out. But, to my way of thinking, a Thursday puzzle that will undoubtedly anger most expert solvers but appeal to the less experienced. I don't have a problem with that.

Junief 9:32 AM  

Agree about “like a boss!” What’s up with that? Anybody?

GILL I. 9:33 AM  

Well bravo, Joel, for pulling this stunt puzzle off. I'll go into my flapper talk and say this was the BEES KNEES - if only it ran on a Monday. I felt like I had ant's in my pants - this went so fast - but seeing your little wordplay, I wanted to say "you're the cat's miaow."
I'm not piling on any meh's or ugh's because I thought this different and playful. Yes, it was easy and yes, Will should've run this on either Monday or Thursday. You see....most of us want difficult, fiendish Thursdays to pop. This was Jonathan Swift easy peasy with a little lemony squeezy
@chefwen. Hah! So...your husband has never had a sleepover??? What a surprise. That was such a girlie, young adolescent - only the fun, popular girls get invited to - event. I went to exactly one. During the night when we finally went to sleep, some peanut butter brained cheerleader thought it would be hilarious to put my bra in the freezer. Ooooh, isn't that hysterically funny? I thawed it in hot water, wrung that little sucker to death, rolled it up in some toilet paper, put it in my bag, went braless and bid every one a fond adieu.
I liked you little wordplay schtick, Joel. Now, give us something a bit more grownup to chew on.

EdFromHackensack 9:36 AM  

surprised Rex didn't comment on BEES KNEES. who says that anymore? Someone in a time warp. Like a BOSS is a ridiculous expression. Should have clued that one with a Springsteen reference

Amy 9:40 AM  

Yes, my British friend says “Bees knees”.

Whatsername 9:40 AM  

When I first looked at the printout last night, I thought oh boy, this one’s going to be tough. I’d better get up early in the morning to start working on it. My goodness what a let down. It’s a perfectly nice puzzle for say, Tuesday but certainly not what I expect or want on a Thursday. As @Richardf8 said, it felt like I’d just filled out a 1040-EZ when I was prepared for a full blown itemization with all the schedules attached. Success didn’t make me feel either successful or good, just done and stunned at how easy it was.

I don’t know about anyone else but as far as I’m concerned a container which holds toiletries is called a toiletry bag. I don’t even wanna think about what might be contained inside of a TOILET BAG. The ASPEN TREE is one of Nature’s most beautiful entries in the artistic show of autumn, and they’ll be starting to turn before very long. If you’ve never gazed upon a mountain side dotted with their brilliant golden TONEs, put it on your bucket list for a post Covid excursion.

I had to smile at @pyroclast’s comment (12:24) that as a zoomer he had never heard of “the Opie.” I must’ve missed it, but apparently we’ve gone way beyond millennials now.

FYI for those interested, President Obama will be delivering the eulogy at services for Congressman Lewis this morning. TV coverage begins at 11:00 eastern time.

Z 9:43 AM  

Does anyone doubt that if this submission had come from outside the inner circle it would have been rejected?

If you’re looking for an interesting Thursday level puzzle maybe try this week’s AVCX by Aimee Lucido. It has everything this puzzle lacks.

@JD9:23 - Before the wedding?

Minnesota Jake 9:45 AM  

I have been doing NYTIMES puzzles since 1956. This is unquestionably the worst excuse for a puzzle in history.

Rug Crazy 9:45 AM  


Giskarrrd 9:48 AM  

I don’t disagree entirely with Rex’ analysis, to make this work, some of the answers were pretty iffy, and the solving experience wasn’t always great due to landing on a lot of squares with “-“ as the clue, so then having to backtrack. But I can admire the concertant there were fun parts too.

I improved my Thursday time from 15 minutes to just a few seconds over 10, which means it’s now faster than my Wednesday record, but it doesn’t quite feel like the accomplishment it could’ve been on an actual “Thursday level” puzzle.

(Incidentally, I managed to take a minute off my Wednesday record yesterday too, and was surprised to see Rex mark it as challenging.)

Eric 9:50 AM  

This puzzle would've been fine as a Tuesday. Maybe even a little better than average because it had more going on than an average Tuesday, and I think you can appreciate the construction.

But a Thursday?? It's not even close. Doesn't the NYT have testers that solve puzzles in order to level set the difficulty? This thing is so obviously not close to Thursday difficulty that for the first time I'm starting to wonder if there is some truth to the NYT nonsense / corruption that Rex is always going on about. I just don't see how you can miss the mark by this much without some kind of agenda.

Sir Hillary 9:54 AM  

What a waste. @Rex's second sentence -- and all the comments that echo it -- say it all.

27 & 29 & 51 & 49 -- What Will should have done to Joel and his idea

Ferguson 9:54 AM  

It’s a popular expression in the U K along with many other strange ones.

RooMonster 9:58 AM  

Hey All !
I rule! Got my Record Fastness for a ThursPuz! Wait... So did y'all? Aww, easy puz. *balloon deflate sound*

If ever there was a day where the auto-cursor-move-to-next-clue thingie needed to work, it was today. But, of course, it didn't.

Construction: impressive - Solving: Brain hurting.

44 blocks in a 15x14 grid=Ouch!

TOILET BAG reminds me of "Die Hard With a Vengeance" when the Captain calls McLean a "TOILET bug".

Joel is a big pal of Will. Ergo, puz in. This definitely should've been YesterPuz.

Clean enough fill for the concept. I know it was tough to construct. But let this one be the only one of its kind. Thanks.

Two F's

Z 10:01 AM  

Like a BOSS - A man who's confident in his skin. Knows his shit. Gives a shit if others have a problem. The shit. The man. {Top definition at Urban Dictionary}
Some other definitions there cite a song. As currently used the phrase assumes a high level of competence, so Trump (for an easy example) could never do anything like a BOSS. This doesn’t strike me as particularly new slang, and even when it was newish it didn’t feel all that new. I mean, Bruce Springsteen has been “The BOSS” since the mid-1970’s, with a similar meaning. Funny how it’s okay to act like a BOSS, slightly less okay to be the BOSS, and not okay at all to be BOSSy. I’ll let others point out how gendered this all is. I’m going to go get myself emBOSSed instead.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

I also request an full explanation.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

What about referencing a real dictionary?

Jay 10:19 AM  

So annoying that I refuse to continue the solve. One cross-reference is one too many.
Agree with Rex

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Liked it. Got the weird ones from the crosses (see, I'm learning the jargon!). If you're not racing for time, you don't get upset by little things that bog you down, app glitches, etc. Was almost dreading this one after yesterday's gruesome slog. But found it kind of fun. But then, I'm a - newbie

Newboy 10:22 AM  

Melrose said it succinctly 😴 in the initial post.

Skiers will, of course, follow the FALL LINE down today’s SKI SLOPE grid. As Rex astutely opines, “ Most people will certainly finish faster than usual, perhaps faster than they've ever finished a Thursday puzzle.“ After that first “Oh, Shite!” there wasn’t much here here.

jberg 10:24 AM  

Drive-by comment. This was awful. Only two long answers, and one is TOILET BAG— I wanted kit, which I actually say. I’ll come back later to see what everyone else thought.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

What the HELL does “shoot into the sun” mean? Can you be literal please?

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Really never heard of fall line? Totally mainstream ..........but that's the problem with x-word's too personal.

OffTheGrid 10:28 AM  

Even if I had hated this puzzle it would have been worth it for TOILETBAG (I'm adding it to my list of insulting terms for Republicans-HA). But I far from hated it. I liked it just for being novel and upsetting the Thursday apple cart. You the BOSS, Joel.

Whatsername 10:30 AM  

@Nancy (9:04) Looking forward to having my socks knocked off. And I know it’ll be worth the wait.

@JD (9:23) Nice!

@Anonymous (9:24) ENL is short for Enlargement of a photo.

@pmdm (9:30) “a Thursday puzzle that will anger most expert solvers but appeal to the less experienced.” Good point, and I don't have a problem with that either. Thanks for the reminder to occasionally consider the view from the other side of the fence.

Alex M 10:33 AM  

It's millenial haha, best encapsulated by the excellent Lonely Island SNL sketch of the same name featuring Seth Rogen. I highly recommend checking it out on YouTube, catchy as hell!

Ellen S 10:37 AM  

I thought it was a pretty good Monday puzzle. The split answers didn’t bother me as much as they did Rex (I doubt they bothered ANYBODY as much as they did Rex), and I mostly went through filling them in without having to refer to the Down clues. Except for the fact that today is Thursday, I liked it okay.

Mark 10:40 AM  

Agree with Rex. I got TONE and OO and thougt, no, it can't be just GOOD TONE. The whole thing was like that. But worst for me: TOILET BAG! How about "toiletry bag." Toilet bag is disgusting. You go into a store and try asking for one. "Yeah, hi, can you show me your toilet bags?"

William of Ockham 10:42 AM  

Final Deep Thoughts

Far too easy to solve from the downs

Leslie 10:52 AM  

Anyone who has driven to the Atlantic coast (south of NYC) has crossed a fall line. When you go from the rocky to the sandy--all the way from Philadelphia to Birmingham. For example, coming down from the mountains in NC, into the miles and miles of flat, scrubby pine, you cross it. Caused by African plate crashing into American plate. I like to learn new stuff from crossword puzzles, generally, although the fall line wasn't new because my husband is a big John McPhee reader/lover/endless-talker-about. (PS there are two Leslies on this site)

Barbara S. 11:03 AM  

@Joe Dipinto 12:47 a.m.

"This was back in the days
Of the folk music craze
Lenny & poetry & jazz
Cats and chicks snappin' their fingers
To Lord Buckley doing The Nazz."

The Ballad of Elizabeth Dark
Michael Smith

Z 11:07 AM  

@cell phone commenters - On anything but a phone your “replies” appear in time order, not underneath the original comment. As a result your comment looks like nonsense. I almost feel like the mods should go delete anything posted as a reply just because they’re so annoyingly irrelevant looking (although I’m guessing the “real dictionary” comment is about the Urban Dictionary being cited).

Regarding FALL LINE - No, skiers don’t follow the FALL LINE, unless maybe they’re out of control schussing DOWN the hill. It’s bad enough to tsk tsk someone else for not knowing a term, quite another to do it while displaying that you don’t understand it either. @anon5:46 and @TTrimble got it right.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

Z- the definition you provide is for a noun. At least the critical first sentence is.
Like a boss is purely adjectival (yes, I see that the def. you cite provides that as well) It's not gendered. At all. It just means doing something with impunity and doing it well.

As a boy I thought my father was torturing me with the phrase fall line. He ascribed all sorts of things to it. Of course, little shit that I was, I never appreciated what is now obviously true and just how critical a fall line can be.
I grew up at the Delaware river's fall line---which is just below Trenton, NJ. (Morrisville/ Falls Township, Pa on the other side)
Trust me the river above the fall line doesn't bear any resemblance to the one below.
Men call 29 down a dopp kit. Or should.

johnk 11:21 AM  

Fagliano should stick with his little 5x5 appetizers, which I solve in my head while paging through the paper.

dadnoa 11:24 AM  

+1 for joyless. Agree with Rex’s confusion. Was so confused by the acrosses that I just solved the downs. Brain appreciates simplicity.....even on a Thursday.

Ethan Taliesin 11:36 AM  

I liked it. Yeah it was too easy, but I also found the concept interesting. I just wish the words had been a little more unusual.

It would have also like it if each "-" cited its partner for quicker identification.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  


Carola 11:40 AM  

I was surprised we got this kiddie puzzle on a Thursday.
For a bit, I thought there might be a hidden code with a letter change in the crosses (WIFE-WIFI, IRON-IRAN), but that idea soon petered out.
One do-over: GOOD nOtE. New to me AIN.

MarthaCatherine 11:40 AM  

Does "It's all downhill from here" mean it's going to be good or bad?

As in, it will all be a nice, easy, downhill ride from here on out.

or as in, it's only going to keep getting worse and worse.

I've seen it used both ways. Better to say which one you mean that to use the phrase at all.

RooMonster 11:54 AM  

***SB stuff*** (I know, only a select few of us care!)

Finally, finally got the QB today. I left the screenshot of it on my computer, because I almost forgot what it looked like. 😁
Must be easy today if I got the Q. Har. Embarrassingly, last time I was even close (missed 2) was 7/21. Oof.

***SB over***

***COVID stuff***

They cancelled CES 2021 here in Las Vegas. It's our biggest show of the year. 175,000ish people. Big hit. Like the cancelled NFL Draft earlier in the year. Millions of $ lost. COVID can kiss my ass. What befuddles me is the morons (should be more-offs, because one-way thinking ass-hats are more-off than on) who don't think it's real. Sure, the Whole Entire Earth is in on this "conspiracy". Wow, get a brain.

***COVID stop***
***Aggravated Rant Over***

RooMonster Feeling Less Jovial Lately Guy

Patricia Hughes 11:55 AM  

Interesting concept - did the downs first because following the clues and grid was making me crazy.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

When you go to an auction you are given a paddle with a number on it. When you raise your paddle you are making a bid.

Swagomatic 11:58 AM  

I finished in half my Thurs. average. I solved mostly with the downs (I hate cross reference clues). I guess it was okay? Oh, and, crossword constructors, stop trying to make BENS happen.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

@Bourbon Street
You said “ Has anyone who is alive today ever said or heard anyone else use the expression BEES KNEES? Didn’t think so. ”. You’re timing is off. Up until a couple of weeks ago I would have agreed but I’ve heard the phrase used several times on television recently, including this morning on The Today Show. Seems like the phrase is being resurrected...

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

"Like a boss" is a quote from an SNL sketch that became an internet meme in the early 10s. It's definitely more familiar to millenials/Gen Z-ers, but it's not really a current term. More reading:

rosebud 12:08 PM  

We loved it! Lots of clues and answers that made us smile; BEES KNEES, INDIA INK both remind me of growing up and covering a big India Ink spill in our bedroom, where we also got stung by bees. Tomorrow is WING day at the grocery store, and all the ROSEs are in full bloom. And I love Joni Mitchell, at an outdoor party last night we all got to sing 500 Miles together! Thanks for the Thursday fun & smiles.

Lewis 12:08 PM  

Why did this take Joel five years to make, you may ask? Well, it's easy to make two-word phrases going horizontally across a grid, with black blocks between them, from the top row to the bottom, sometimes both words in the same line, and sometimes going from the end of one line to the beginning of the next.

But, of course, the trick is to make the DOWN words be actual words. Each horizontal word has to relate to another horizontal word AND every down word has to be a word -- that is so daunting, that if someone were brilliant enough to come up with the idea for this in the first place, I'm guessing that they would simply shrug it off as being if not impossible, then only possibly doable with endless trial and error. But not Joel.

There may never be another iteration of this theme, because it is so difficult to pull off -- you may be seeing a one-off piece of crossword history here today, folks.

It takes a very special person to take the leap to attempt this concept in the first place, then continue to stick with it through myriad trials and errors. That very special person is Joel Fagliano, and we are extremely lucky to have him in Crossworld.

ChuckD 12:16 PM  

@Z - Many skiers establish the fall line of a slope and use it to determine their turning path down. These are generally more experienced skiers who make short, quick turns close to the grade line as opposed to skiers who use the entire width of the trail to turn on. It’s a very common term in ski schools and with serious skiers.

What? 12:18 PM  

Has anybody counted the black squares? No? About as much fun as doing the puzzle. 44. Recount (often wrong on first try) - 44. Next time Shortz rejects your puzzle for going over 38, save a reference to this one. Oh, I forgot, your not a Shortz buddy.

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Like Rex (a phrase I thought I’d never use!) I usually hate referenced clues like these, because they make me scroll all over the puzzle. But these are RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER!!! GOOD (hater that pair) grief, Rex, et al. I just did as many downs as I could (and these were way too easy for a Thursday) and then breezed through the acrosses in order in less that half my usual Thursday time. I expect some kind of trickery on Thursday’s, but not this kind! I wonder if the fact that Joel makes all the mini puzzles has something to do with the extreme number of short and easy words.

Masked and Anonymous 12:25 PM  

yep. Stunt puz. Hard to construct, easy to solve. Pretty much what most everybody has mentioned.

fave fillins: TONE and TOONE pair.
staff weeject pick: AIN. Better clue: {Ain't before any punctuation??}.

I have heard of the FALL LINE, before. "Like a BOSS" is a 2020 comedy flick, but I don't think its title has the exclamation mark.

fave unintentional &-pairs:
* SLOPE WAITA. = {Mountain bistro patron's serva??}.
* TOBE SCRAP. = {Argument over Hamlet's big question??}.
* HOUSE FALL. = {It's all downed digs from here??}.
* TONE BLOWN. = {Sour note??}.
* KNEES MEAT. = {Natural joint pads??}.

Thanx for yer epic struggles to make a fairly decent TuesPuz, Mr, Fagliano. This does look like it was hard than snot to build. U clearly suffered. (That's good for U.)

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Unknown 12:28 PM  

The only possible explanation for the the very short answers in this puzzle is that Joel Fagliano has become addicted to them from constructing the Mini Crossword on page 3 of the NY Times. I agree with Rex - absolute drudgery and zero fun for the solver.

Frantic Sloth 12:29 PM  

@Nancy 904am What @Whatsername 1030am said! Are you being coy about an upcoming puzzle about which you might have personal knowledge and/or "input", shall we say? If so, today's offense is even more egregious, but never mind that - my breath is so bated right now!

@Z 1001am Almost took that low-hanging-fruit bait, but I'm gonna don (donna) my big girl pants and consider the source. The actual source - not you.

@Z 1107 *sigh* You know? It's as if they just don't want to learn.
Cell phone commenters: the looky-loo-clues of the commentariat. 😉

@Lewis and other "defenders" of this puzzle. Fair enough to marvel at the level of genius the construction required and its historical significance; however, this raises the question of which is more big-picture important: feats of construction or solving pleasure? Personally, I actually appreciate both - the lack of either would be detrimental, but the over-emphasis on one to the diminishment of the other is problematic at best, and maddening at worst. On exceedingly (unfortunately) rare occasions some creators manage to excel at both aspects.
This is just not one of those puzzles. Clearly the brilliant construction managed to practically kill the solve dead. 😵

Again, personally, if one were to err on one side, make mine the solve because that's why I'm here in the first place.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  


JC66 12:44 PM  


Agree that phone commenters should indicated what posts they're referring to.

Disagree about skiers/FALL LINE.

I first heard the term when leaning how to ski using the "snow plow" and being told to try to ski directly across the FALL LINE because it's the easiest way down. . The better a skier gets, the closer they follow the FALL LINE,

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

Way easy for Thursday. The regular ugly gimmick just wasn't there. About as fast as I could enter words.

bauskern 12:57 PM  

I thought this was actually fun. The crosses stumped me for a minute, but then I attacked via the downs, and that gave me enough traction that the crosses became fun. And there were some clever clues, to wit, ETA (31D), and the paired Sierra Nevada[s] clues. Re 55D, my only quibble is there should not be an "s" after Nevada, but I think we saw that same thing a week or so ago.

As to Rex's explanation for why he was so "slow" on the puz, I think that really only matters to him. But hey, it's his theme park.

Teedmn 1:01 PM  

Um, I liked this puzzle a lot more after I read Joel's comments over at but while solving, I was thinking, "This had better have a real kickASS reveal!" (Which it didn't.)

I didn't find 55 & 56A to be green-painty at all. Raising a paddle meant only canoeing or kayaking to me so I was avidly awaiting what 56A would be, paired with MADE. Ah, an auction paddle, nice.

I think GOOD TONE could have been clued as what a guitar or violin might have. The clue for 44 & 46A made it green-painty to me.

And I'll chime in with BOSS and FALL LINE being WOEs. But it was a puzzle that broke new ground, so I'll say thanks, Joel Fagliano.

Lewis 1:06 PM  

@frantic -- Easy question for me -- the solve is far more important than the stunt. See my first comment, where I decried the easiness of the puzzle. But that doesn't take away from the perseverance and talent that went into the making of this.

Masked and Anonymous 1:23 PM  

M&A msg#1 correction: "harder than snot to build", not "hard than snot to build".

I suspect this puz was much easier to solve with the paper version. In the paper version, you'd get clues like this here:
1 & 5 Fiancee
9 & 14 Recyclable metal

… as opposed to the endless cross-referencin clues that had to be used in some other (yo, @AcrossLite) puz versions. That much cross-referencin can no doubt wear a body down.

It woulda been extra cool, if 1 & 5 Across was a thing, then 5 & 9 Across was also a thing, … etc. Then M&A woulda been truly impressed. Get to work on that for a few years, young Faglianomeister. har


Richard 1:26 PM  

The conceit was pretty obvious from the outset, but I wasn't getting any traction with the double acrosses. So I just started with the downs and the grid pretty much filled itself in. Pretty easy for a Thursday. Pasties: MEATPIES?! Really?! If you say so.

Barbara S. 1:29 PM  

Congrats to @RooMonster -- yay!

RE: Yesterday
I really wanted the word FRILLOW. Definition: "overly ruffled bed cushion". A number of my female friends have heaps of frillows on their beds. Such decor is not to my taste, but as long as the practitioners are happy...

I too was annoyed about FARO not being accepted, and also ROLF as in massage. Hmm, I've just looked this up and it seems that the word is ROLFING. AND in the wiki article, it's spelled with a capital R every time (named after Ida Rolf), so maybe it's not an SB candidate after all.

As soon as I realized one could make WALLAROO, my heart went out to you guys. I was brought low by that word in a previous puzzle but remembered it yesterday. I looked it up the first time and, as I recall, Ws are their own species.

And then there was FOOFARAW. I love that word -- it's a word my mother often used to mean a schmozzle (another great word). I didn't think of it yesterday, didn't get QB (in spite of my stellar performance with the W-word). In fact, I don't think I've ever seen FOOFARAW written down. It's completely in the realm of spoken language for me (until now?).

I often think Spelling Bee is inaptly named because it isn't usually the spelling that trips you up, it's dredging up these words from memory banks or deducing them from related words you already know. But I ran into an actual spelling problem in relation to AIOLI. I knew there was an oil and garlic sauce with such a name but it took a lot of trial and error to marshal all those vowels in the correct order.

Fascinating graph posted by @okanaganer (1:18 a.m.). Wouldn't you just love to sit Sam E. down in front of it?

Nancy 1:34 PM  

"Worth the wait"? Speak for yourself, @Whatsername :) For me the wait has been interminable.

Better unbate your breath, @Frantic, or you may not survive until this puzzle finally appears. I unbated mine at least nine months ago.

Pamela 1:38 PM  

@M&A- If your entries had actually been in the grid today, I would not have complained- I’d be laughing out loud! Opportunity missed :/


@Roo- Congrats on QB! Me too, actually. The last word made me smile. Bigly.

old timer 1:39 PM  

Not being quite as smart as many of you, I felt the puzzle put up a good challenge. Because a lot of those two-word answers were far from obvious. I got OPEN HOUSE and BLOWN DOWN without help from the Downs, and certainly thought WIFE TOBE was likely, but did not put it in without Down confirmation.

And the Downs were not all Easy, without confirmation from the Acrosses. In fact, the only long Down that went right in was FOLK MUSIC. Because I am a long time folkie, and the Folk Music Craze ended up changing the course of popular music. Without Folk, we would not have had two memorable albums from the Grateful Dead, and three (at least) from The Band, and maybe the best Neil Young song, After the Gold Rush, a folk song in disguise. Not to mention Dylan.

The paint was a little green on some of the phrases, like LAND USERS and PULL SHUT, but others were pretty clever.

I think FALL LINE is a perfect answer for "it's all downhill from here", in the geographic sense of the line marked by the final falls of major rivers, especially those that flow into the Atlantic. The SKI SLOPE definition doesn't fit as well. And you wouldn't accomplish much tracing the FALL LINE of major Western rivers, as their final FALLs don't give a coherent picture of much of anything. They are hundreds of miles apart.

JD 2:08 PM  

@RooMonster, Read today in the NYT that Swifts never leave the sky, "Swifts are magical in the manner of all things that exist just a little beyond understanding."

Here in what is now looking like retirement instead of layoff, I've learned that sometimes it helps to just stay above it all for a while.

@Z, Before. I wonder how they even got that far. Must've been his dopey charm. And @Whatsername, Thanks!

@M&A, Ya had to say the Knees Meat! I'll never be able to say it the other way again.

@ChuckD, What's wrong with this sentence? Irregardless of Timmy's original desire to paint a pitcher of an Aspen tree while vacationing in California, he assumed they weren't native to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and decided instead to write a Haiku poem.


There are Aspen Trees in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

Enjoyed it immensely. It was the BEES KNEES.

Z 2:11 PM  

@Frantic Sloth - Enlargement looks like an Ypsilanti Water Tower comment a day late when it appears without context today. To be fair to the cell phone posters, it's pretty inane that Blogger can't do in-line replies anywhere but the mobile version. says Like a BOSS is at least from 1993. There is also a TV show, movie, Like a BOSS video compilations, and a management seminar. My googling yielded that BOSS is from the Dutch for "master" from older Dutch words for "uncle" and "aunt." So even though Like a Boss might be more widely used by younger people, it has been around with this meaning for 25+ years. (@FS - I do think it is mostly used in highly gendered and sexist ways so the UD top definition probably accurately describes how is is actually used).

@Chuck D and @JC66 - So what it looks like you both said is that unless they are schussing (and probably out of control) skiers are not following the FALL LINE. It's as if I already said that. Yes, the quicker the turns the closer to the FALL LINE the skier will go, and the FALL LINE might be their reference (although even this moderate skier never needs to think about it - but then again maybe if I skied faster...) but you don't ski down the FALL LINE.

Patricia Markert 2:13 PM  

Omg can’t believe you guys didn’t love the ease with which Thursday is dealt with by brilliant Fogliano who gives us easy mini puzzles daily. Thank you Joel for making me feel like a genius today! I loved this puzzle but think I will stop reading this blog because it is too whiny.

Lindsay 2:25 PM  

@Lewis - don't ever change. No matter the puzzle, you have the gift - like a good food writer - of finding something positive to say even if it's just a nugget. Your gracious treatment of the constructors is something I've come to look forward to every day, and especially on the days Rex doesn't offer a picture of his kitten.

Ellen 2:36 PM  

I loved it. But that may have been helped by it being my first sub-10 Thursday!

Newboy 2:37 PM  

Thanks @JD (9:23) you made my day! I almost missed your brilliant spoof among all the whining.

I’m usually swayed by @Lewis who sees so much that I miss, but today’s one trick pony is still a one trick pony—even though Jeff Chen says it’s “Sisyphean.”

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

An insult to Thursday, very often the most fun puzzle of the week. This would have made a challenging Monday or an average Tuesday. Thursday? No way.

xraydoc 3:17 PM  

I liked this one. So I’ll be the contrarian. I enjoyed the construction with every across having 2 parts.

Never heard of Like a Boss. It just fit.

If you are a skier, you always know where the fall line is.

sixtyni yogini 3:17 PM  

Annoying. Just so annoying. 😠😒😒😒😠 So not 😎.

Anonymous 3:28 PM  

LOL. the movie Like a Boss is from 2020. Pretty current, no? And its about and stars three women. So much for it's out of date and broey. But yeah otherwise your analysis is spot on. You do you Z.

Chip Hilton 3:36 PM  

I had to take my wife to a doctor’s office for a surgical procedure today. I was happy that it was a Thursday because I knew the puzzle would help me occupy my time. Well. Luckily, the office had WiFi so I could listen to great music while I read a book on my iPad after breezing through this puzzle in under 15 minutes. Tuesday easy, no challenge in figuring out the “theme”. Hate to pile it on, but this was really disappointing. My wife did fine, thanks for wondering.

bauskern 4:01 PM  

@ Chip Hilton [3:36] Your wife had surgery & did fine! Mazel tov! That's great. We should all focus on the positives that are around us. The nit-picking and groaning about today's puzzle, in the midst of a pandemic, just shows how skewed our collective perception is. We're healthy enough to attack a puzzle? Life is good. Let's let go of some of the kvetching.

GILL I. 4:03 PM  

@Lewis....Terrific comment. Thank you.

Pablo 4:19 PM  

I'm 27 and like a BOSS feels dated. Definitely fair game if you'd like to keep this puzzle in the 21st century.

Anonymous 4:32 PM  

Amen to your C-19 thoughts, brother!

Anonymous 4:42 PM  

A cruciform belly flop. Even the Edsel had more pizzazz.

CaribbeanCarrie 4:55 PM  

Why is everyone complaining? If the puzzle is too easy for a Thursday, the blame should not be on Joel. Will Shortz should have put this in earlier in the week. Plus, in the newspaper version there were no problems at all. With all of the insanity that's going on in the world now, you have to say to yourself, it's only a puzzle.

Mohair Sam 5:08 PM  

Love the term BEES KNEES, hear it and use it all the time. Little kids just light up when told they are the BEES KNEES.

"The BEES KNEES" is the Cat's Pajamas.

Mary Ann 5:43 PM  

This was a great puzzle thanks Joel and Will. All of you smug haters should heed Lewis, an actual constructor. Maybe it should have been published earlier in the week due to degree of difficulty but otherwise 👍🏽

Anoa Bob 5:44 PM  

With 44 black squares in a 15X14 grid, there's not a lot of open squares, 166, left to work with. A standard 15X15 grid with 36 black squares, for example, has 189 open squares. So today's smaller grid has around 12% fewer open squares for the solver to fill.

The under-sized, high black square count grid necessarily has a slew of short entries and it's next to impossible to make those consistently interesting, even with clever clueing.

I think those are the two main reasons why so many of yous are rating this as super fast, easy and uninteresting.

Have you ever seen one of those devices that attaches to the side of a wheel/tire of a camper or RV that has a TOILET seat that drops down into position so that USERS can sit on it and do their business? It has a plastic BAG attached to catch and contain and that's what I think a TOILET BAG is.

jae 6:04 PM  

Thanks for all the “Like a BOSS” help. The Seth Rogen SNL clip was very funny in a grotesque sort of way.

***SB Spoiler alert *****
I also missed the WALLA one yesterday plus 2 others (farro @TTrimble). I did hit QB today and it was definitely more fun than usual. @Pamala - I suspect I know what your last word was.

Marie’s the Name 6:20 PM  

I have a toiletry bag. A toilet bag sounds like a colostomy bag and does not pass the breakfast test.

Liz 6:20 PM  

Cute idea; poor execution. I just worked on the down answers and moved on.

Space Is Deep 6:54 PM  

Fun, but too easy for a Thursday. Never heard of LIKE A BOSS.

Prof Karl 8:44 PM  

Saw all the acrosses were “with” questions so went right to the Monday-clued downs. Then easily filled in the across. Then thought “wow. All that time to construct an super easy puzzle, dum.

Anonymous 8:45 PM  

Wonderful puzzle. Slight challenge and fun. But overall too easy for a Thursday. Wednesday maybe?

TTrimble 10:23 PM  

---[SB Alert]---

Whew, made QB. However, aside from that, I was not as delighted with some of the curated words as some of you seemed to be! :-)

@Pamela, you do seem quite the formidable SB-er! Just breezing through like that. This took me some time. And I'm in sympathy with... well for some reason I no longer see the comment, but said person complained about the saucy word. There were a few today that made my nose wrinkle a bit.

Anonymous 11:56 PM  

yes, made a bid is used in the auction and art world.

Anonymous 1:38 AM  

As a mediocre solver, I’m just happy to have finished a Thursday! Probably only the third or fourth Thursday I’ve ever finished. Three for four on the week. Tuesday completely stumped me and when I looked up the answers I didn’t feel bad. Bring in Friday!

Unknown 4:00 PM  

The "fall line_"is a ski term for the line a ball would follow if you rolled it down the hill. It is the fastest way down.

StellaBlue 8:19 PM  

Lol ... Agreed!

StellaBlue 8:21 PM  

Thank you. Excellent explanation.

Unknown 3:09 PM  

enough with your anti male rants vis a vis constructors.

thefogman 9:25 AM  

A bit easy for a Thursday. Maybe a misfiled Tuesday? Even so, I found it enjoyable to solve.

spacecraft 10:55 AM  

More proof of the adage: just because you CAN do something doesn't always mean you SHOULD. As OFC noted, there are just two nines; the rest 3, 4 or 5. Makes for a slog--a non-Sunday one!

The phrases were fine till I hit what I thought must be a misprint in the clue: "Pasties, e.g." No R. I know what pasties are, but they have more to do with DOD Gypsy ROSE Lee than with food. That's when things began to degenerate. THE AISLE is familiar, but having to stick THE article in there to conform to the theme is weak. Yes, it's known as THE AISLE, so maybe not an actual penalty stroke. Just...weak. Then we come to GOOD TONE; not sure that's a thing, but I get the drift. But then ASPEN TREE? Green paint. And LAND USERS?? O-kay, these are people who use land, but did anyone ever say LAND USERS?? I doubt it. FOLKs, do not try this at home. Or even away. Bogey.

rondo 11:31 AM  

Well, it must be low in PPP with all those short words. Acrosses were getting me nowhere, so 5,6,7,8d cracked it open. Cakewalk thereafter. FOLKMUSIC's Joan and Joni each a yeah baby. Joni is on the cover of this year's musicdirect catalog; how can you get along without it? Like a BOSS? No idea; sometimes like a BOSS. Don't care for it when RON is combined with L. I dunno, somewhere between OUT HOUSE and GOOD ASIS.

Burma Shave 12:01 PM  


THE WIFE-TO-BE's TONE is found
TOBE like GOOD MUSIC from her lips:
around THE ASS or KNEES or HIPS.


Thursday googler 12:48 PM  

I'm an "older" solver and knew that one from my childhood. Used to hear it a lot then.... probably would use the term "awesome " now. It meant something was the coolest! And fall line is definitely used when skiing.

Thursday googler 12:51 PM  

fall line refers to the fastest way down when skiing, or the path water could go down fastest. Think of standing on a hill and how the land falls away from you.

Anonymous 1:19 PM  

This was a lot of fun, after the initial "Huh?". A Thursday puzzle because of the gimmick, not the difficulty - better than any rebus.

leftcoaster 3:21 PM  

Gimmick looked a bit weird at first, but focusing on the downs and then getting the swing of the acrosses, it all seemed pretty easy.

Nonetheless ended up naticking at the LRON/GOOD crossing, and sticking for no good reason with LorN/wOrD.


strayling 6:22 PM  

This one went down like a tequila slammer: a delicious shot of frothy nothingness.

A bit more of a challenge would have been nice, but I enjoyed it for what it is.

leftcoaster 7:07 PM  

Still puzzling over TWO TO ONE: Is it one answer to two clues or two clues to one answer?


Diana, LIW 8:37 PM  

So here I was thinking this was a very Thursdayish puzzle for a Wednesday. Ha ha - joke's on me. Covid/time strikes again.

But for a Thursday, is was easyish. (of course, as long as you what little PPP was in it)

@Lefty - you can rationalize the ratio clue and answer any way you wish - ODDS are you'll get it right.

Diana, LIW

wcutler 10:49 PM  

@Bourbon Street 12:48 AM, re BEES KNEES
Sorry, I haven't died yet. I say that all the time. I'm not sure how you get to speak to whether I use that phrase.

ramroot 1:24 PM  

Real disappointment for a Thursday

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