1933 Erskine Caldwell novel about a wealth-obsessed farm family / TUE 8-4-20 / Supporting timber in home construction / Notorious cinematic flop of 1980 / Certain Olympic athletes since 1900

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Constructor: Jacob Stulberg

Relative difficulty: Medium (actually Easy-Medium, but a couple of those themers seem like they might give people trouble)

THEME: FORSAKE (37A: Abandon ... or two words often seen next to the starts of 17-, 27-, 47- and 60-Across) — first words of themers can all fit into the blank space in "FOR ___ SAKE!"

Theme answers:
  • "PETE'S DRAGON" (17A: 2016 live-action Disney film with an animated title character)
  • CHRIST'S COLLEGE (27A: Where John Milton and John Oliver studied at Cambridge)
  • "GOD'S LITTLE ACRE" (47A: 1933 Erskine Caldwell novel about a wealth-obsessed farm family)
  • "HEAVEN'S GATE" (60A: Notorious cinematic flop of 1980)
Word of the Day: ALEK Wek (26D: Supermodel Wek) —
Alek Wek (born 16 April 1977) is a South Sudanese-British model and designer who began her fashion career at the age of 18 in 1995. She has been hailed for her influence on the perception of beauty in the fashion industry. She is from the Dinka ethnic group in South Sudan but fled to Britain in 1991 to escape the civil war in Sudan. In 2015, she was listed as one of BBC's 100 Women. (wikipedia)
• • •

This played like an easy themeless, in that it had some cool longer answers and I, uh, saw no theme at all. I blew right through FORSAKE ... I could see that its clue was trying to tell me something about the theme, but it didn't seem worth slowing down to sort it all out. The themer clues were clearly just going to be straightforward, so whatever the trick or gimmick was, it wasn't necessary to my finishing the puzzle. So I read [Abandon], got FORSAKE, moved along. After I was done, I came back and figured out what was going on and, sure, that seems like a fine idea for a theme. Quirky, slightly profane ... I like it. The non-theme fill isn't particularly showy, but it's largely clean, and the themers are really original and interesting. I had no idea "PETE'S DRAGON" was remade in 2016. The version I know came out in the late '70s. I guess with advances in animation, it seemed ripe for remaking, but looking at the obviously impressive and undoubtedly expensive dragon from the 2016 version ... I dunno. I have a soft spot for the 2D animation and general late '70s wackiness of the original. I mean, come on: "Helen Reddy, in her first movie musical!" And she's dressed as the Gorton's Fisherman. What's not to love?

As for "GOD'S LITTLE ACRE," talk about Up My Alley. I am almost finished cataloguing my entire vintage paperback collection (my big summer project). This meant organizing the books in physical space, according to publisher, and building a master database. Erskine Caldwell was a major author in mid-century paperback publishing—smutty (or, uh, "earthy," I guess you'd call it) but vaguely literary enough that highbrows wouldn't be too embarrassed to buy it. Anyway, it hit some kind of sweet spot because his books went through printing after printing after printing in the '40s and '50s. I must have a dozen or more Caldwells in my collection, and probably at least three different versions of "GOD'S LITTLE ACRE" alone. It strikes me, though, that Caldwell's fame fell off fast and hard after the '50s, as tastes changed and more sexually explicit fare became more mainstream. His once-controversial stuff probably quickly came to seem tame and quaint. Anyway, if you're under 60, it seems at least a little likely that you've never even heard of "GOD'S LITTLE ACRE." I can't remember the last time I saw it mentioned ... anywhere ... ever. But in my little niche world of paperback collecting—legendary.

I was very slow to start this, with first three Acrosses being "dunno" "got it!" and "wrong!" (BLT instead of PBJ) (11A: Popular sandwich, for short). First three clues I looked at in NW drew blanks. No idea on JOIST or JAPE or OPEN at first glances. Really left me spinning around—of course there are a bunch of gimmes up there, too, but somehow I saw them late and generally felt like I had to Work to get that corner. But once I did that, and then eventually fixed my BLT error, things evened out, and once I hit the middle of the grid, I really took off. Fast-Monday speed for the latter half of the solve ("GOD'S LITTLE ACRE" and "HEAVEN'S GATE" both being very very well known titles to me). Someday I will remember ALEK Wek. She is crosswordese that I keep letting slide out of my head. Weird to me that she's totally acceptable as a four-letter answer and yet WEK has never ever been in the NYTXW (11 ALEKs, 9 of them Wek ... and yet no WEK in the grid, ever ... curious!).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:08 AM  

Kinda edgy for the NYT. I wonder how many outraged subscribers will have a hissy fit and cancel their subscriptions.

The puzzle did, however, omit the most commonly used version of FOR__SAKE. Probably for the best!

Patrick O'Connor 12:10 AM  

All I know about Erskine Caldwell is a phrase I (unaccountably) memorized from an essay in a Jean Kerr collection when I was a teenager: "I'm an unfit mother and a rotten housekeeper, as shiftless and improvident as a character out of God's Little Acre." But you are correct, Rex, I am over sixty.

StephenIsMad 12:31 AM  

Rex, are you serious? I have been reading your blog for a few months now (since the start of the pandemic) and I have always found it funny that you get so enraged by crossword puzzles. Today, I finally felt like I understood where you were coming from. At least 5 or 6 proper nouns that no one under the age of 60 could possibly have any excuse for knowing. Even as I worked my way through this, hating every moment of it, I consoled myself with the knowledge that Rex Parker -- who I have witnessed griping over the inclusion of obscure pop culture figures that only young people would know -- would at least be able to tear the constructor of this puzzle a new one, and I would get the pleasure of witnessing it. Instead, I come here to find that you liked it?

You liked:
TERI (Crossed by TVAD and LORN? Doesn't TVAD qualify as one of your famed "GREENPAINT" clues?)
GODSLITTLEACRE (I give you a pass on this one because you own the book and I admit that must have been pretty cool to see)
EDNA (there's not a better clue for Edna than "Dame of Fame"? Are you serious?? And crossed by "CYTE"(?!?) and "HARD G"(?!?!?))

WIE! I almost forgot WIE! Crossed by RIIS (arguably fine, I guess, but in a puzzle with so many obscure names I could have done without it) and COSET (WHAT IS A COSET???? WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS PUZZLE?)

So all this is to say that after months of reading you, I finally understand why these things get you so worked up. I am now also worked up. This puzzle was TERRIBLE.

jae 12:35 AM  

Medium-tough. Didn’t know how to spell ALEK and I’m always iffy on spelling RHINOCEROS. Plus COSET did not leap to mind, so the middle took some extra time.

I had no idea what the theme was while I was solving but it gave me a chuckle when I went back over the grid. Pretty smooth and fun, liked it.

people50 12:56 AM  

So many proper nouns and cultural references outside of my wheelhouse on this one, including all of the themers: PETESDRAGON / ENO / EDNA / WIE / GODSLITTLEACRE / THEDA / TERI / HEAVENSGATE / ARNAZ / ALEK / SEAHAG.

Throw in some COSET, RIIS (I tried several incorrect spellings), EPEEISTS (somehow more annoying than the ubiquitous epee) and I had a miserable time solving this puzzle.

This may be my least favorite NYT crossword that I've ever solved. It's sad because I actually would have liked the theme if the answers were at all relevant for me.

woodmanzee 12:59 AM  

As someone fairly young trying to get into crosswords, this puzzle made me rethink my decision. Hated how many old references there were.

Ernonymous 1:13 AM  

I never use Check Puzzle anymore but I was very naticked and pizzed off, so after an hour and 10 minutes I gave in and checked it. I'll spend 2 hours and up on a Friday or Saturday but over an hour on a Tuesday?
I knew it would be a parsing problem, that I just couldn't see, like LALAW on Saturday that held me up. HardG for the Big finish, yeehaa I mean YAHOO. Dame EDNA I should have figured out but I had CYTO as the "cell" suffix. HAR_G was really the big hold up. I thought of HA something? I tried to break down the word. I plugged in every letter and still didn't see it. I will take that as a learning experience on parsing by breaking it down multiple ways. Ow my brain.. I probably should have slept on it.
I then had ANNA for the Dame, but CYTA seemed wrong but not impossible. Before checking puzzle looked up Dame Anna, and there was Dame Anna Wintour.
The other natick was WIE crossing RIIS. Really? Terrible! I had WOO as a guess, then ROIS. COSET also confounded me.
I don't know THEDA either.
All in all, it sucked for me with these obscure names and the HARDG answer. I don't mind being aggravated like this on a Saturday.
I think I just lost my patience.

Defender 1:29 AM  

Crossword Champs please help me understand why “HARDG” is an answer to “big finish?”

Anonymous 1:49 AM  

this puzzle seems like it was written for people 6 times my age. to a 25 year old the themers were all obscure and boring. By far the least enjoyable puzzle of the year for me. Kind of surprised Rex liked this.

km3t 1:49 AM  

LOL... well just goes to show, different strokes for different folks. I have never heard of any of the 4 themers. None of 'em. Add to that a bunch of proper name/ 1950's fill which aren't exactly common (THEDA SEAHAG JAPE RIIS LORN and COSET) and this was a total slog. Slowest Tuesday I can remember having... well... ever. Nearly 15 minutes.

Anyway, the theme's somewhat clever in retrospect and if the revealer wasn't crossed with RIIS COSET and ALEK, maybe it could've helped...

Thanks as always for your comments Rex.

chefwen 2:25 AM  

Out of my first three answers two of them were wrong. I beam at 1A and BLT at 11A, that’s a pretty poor start. Fixed those up with JAPE and JEER. Not up with Disney anything but PETES DRAGON filled in nicely with the downs. FORSAKE showed up and the light flicked on. AHA, for Pete’s sake, I get it, cute.

My Mother in Law was very Catholic and didn’t allow any swear words in her house, so Father in Law used to substitute words like “Oh for the Cripes sake” which over timed turned into “Oh for da Cripes”. And Cheese and Rice for Jesus Christ. Or maybe it’s just a midwestern thing.

Let the party begin, today was the first time I spelled ARNAZ correctly right off, I usually have to change the E to an A. Woo Hoo!

Taffy-Kun 3:34 AM  

The final “g” in “big” is a hard g

NB 4:03 AM  

Could not get close to finishing. Had no idea about the 4 theme answers and absolutely no chance of even guessing THEDA, TERI, ARNAZ, RIIS, COSET.

Ashtar94 4:06 AM  

Defender-- The word "big" ends with a hard G sound; ergo, "HARD G."

Like StephenIsMad, I also disliked this puzzle and was surprised to discover that Rex actually liked it. I admit that I was a little disappointed that I could not get some joy from some griping from Rex.

Igneous 4:18 AM  

^^ This bigtime.

Ann Howell 4:57 AM  

Just to put Defender out of his/her misery, the word "Big" ends with a Hard G. It was a groaner for me, too...

Kind of liked this one, though had to do trial and error with the WIE/RIIS cross before I got the solve jingle. It helped that I had at least heard of all of the theme answers and now after reading Rex's description, it might be time to try some Caldwell!

JOHN X 5:14 AM  

@ StephenIsMad 12:31 AM

Stephen, you got it all wrong!

The puzzle wasn't terrible; you were terrible at the puzzle.

Have a blessed day.

BarbieBarbie 5:54 AM  

Had SUB for the “for short” sandwich, which has to be a distant third.

amyyanni 6:20 AM  

Like Rex's bottle of sake. The puzzle was entertaining and different. No complaints, but I do see all the names could cause it to play forced. Clever theme, but my mom, who taught me to do xwords, probably would have frowned.

Lewis 6:24 AM  

Whoa -- clever theme! It brought a gasp and a wow out of me. And it was tight tight tight.

And whoa again, a big step up in difficulty from Monday, which is as it should be, but isn't always. It seemed, however, like there were a fair number of answers that veteran solvers would plop in but newer solvers might struggle at, and I wondered if this might be a bit frustrating for those who Tuesday puzzles are slated for.

I learned LORN, and it was cemented in my memory when I realized that one may become LORN after being FORSAKEn. I liked the new ONO clue, always a challenge, and I loved the JJ sandwich in the top row. JJacob, it was a jjoy to see you again -- thank you for making this!

Hungry Mother 6:29 AM  

On the easy side here. In the Mid-Atlantic, waiting for a storm I can’t pronounce.

Pamela 6:39 AM  

BLT for me, along with a lot of other goofs. I fell into all the rabbit holes and nearly drowned in the swamp. Must be my slowest time ever for a Tuesday. I did get a kick out of the theme once I finally figured it out, so I can’t say I hated it.

*****SB ALERT*****

After getting a word I wouldn’t have otherwise known from a hint here, I quit yesterday with 3 to go. I should have gotten one of them, but the other two were as obscure to me as the one I shouldn’t have known. On to today’s...

And please, no more specifities on the current day’s Bee.


Ernonymous 7:11 AM  

@StephenIsMad I was also mad that Rex liked this. I'm sure he'll see a lot of complaining about it on Twitter.

Anonymous 7:12 AM  


Anonymous 7:17 AM  

Hi Rex, I only knew God's Little Acre because of the movie made out of it:

mmorgan 7:18 AM  

Wow, that trailer for Pete’s Dragon was a gem. Thanks for that, Rex!

Easy fun puzzle but I’m over 60. But even if I weren’t, what’s wrong with learning some new stuff?

Petsounds 7:21 AM  

@JOHNX. Dunno about that. I'm in complete agreement with @StephenIsMad and I wasn't terrible at the puzzle--I just hated it and was stunned to see that Rex didn't.

The theme was fine. It was the fill. The GODSLITTLESCRE-awful fill. I'm old, and this seemed dusty even to me. Too heavy with names and pop culture, and the HARDG alone puts this one at C-. Clues like that are signs of laziness and lack of imagination. My time was fine. My enjoyment level was not.

kitshef 7:22 AM  

Complete opposite of yesterday. Yesterday, the easy-peasy themers made the whole solve much easier than the cluing would indicate. Today, all the themers needed at least five crosses – often many more – to see, so that meant large dead zones that made the puzzle harder than the cluing.

Really wanted to get the Cambridge COLLEGE without crosses, but for no good reason CHRISTS eluded me. Hand up for @chefwen ibeam and blt.

Love those long downs, and yes, RHINOCEROS are very PHOTOGENIC.

Joaquin 7:23 AM  

RIIS is always a gimme for me as there was a Jacob RIIS High School in the Los Angeles system back in my day. The school was essentially a reform school where the district sent a variety of troublemakers and class clowns. My high school (Los Angeles HS) occasionally faced RIIS in an athletic event. We used to say, "LA won the game; Riis won the fight afterwards."

ChuckD 7:32 AM  

Theme was tight and well constructed. The fill wasn’t bad either - just too many names and as @Z rightfully opines - too many dead names. The youngish commenters here should know RIIS and ARNAZ from a historical standpoint - but the others are bad fill. Liked the long downs except for EPEEISTS which should have been edited out. Didn’t know TCBY still exists. Liked the SEAHAG/CHESS cross. I do remember COSET in reference to the Lagrange proof but never really continued in set theory - I wouldn’t expect most solvers to know it.

Overall a decent but flawed puzzle - it went quick and gave some enjoyment waiting for the storm.

Small Town Blogger 7:37 AM  

Mostly easy for me since I majored in Math (knew coset) and minored in Sociology (read Riis). But I always fill in Wiu for Wie and did it again this time until coset set me straight.

Geezer 7:42 AM  

I liked that that this Tuesday had more crunch than usual. Theme was solid as was almost everything else.


I was thinkin'. Is it really a QB if one just throws letter groups at the wall until they stick?

OffTheGrid 8:00 AM  

@Petsounds. I second your assessment of the hard G type clues. My other wince was at EPEEIST. It's legit but still.....

Jofried 8:00 AM  

Ugh, didn’t like this puzzle. Never heard of most of the proper nouns. I’m under 60 so I guess that was the issue.

As for SB...I almost never make it to QB because I never know how many more words I need so it gets too frustrating!

toddh 8:07 AM  

I can always tell I’m younger than Rex because:
Dame of Fame
1933 Erskine Caldwell novel...
Actress Bara of 1917’s “Cleopatra”
Notorious cinematic flop of 1980
Desi of old tv

Are all stacked on top of each other and they all meant nothing to me. This was one of the more challenging tuesdays for me because it’s somewhere between 40 and 100 years old. Stuffy fill on stuffy fill

toddh 8:08 AM  

I totally agree! So much dust on this outdated puzzle

George 8:09 AM  

Who knew that GODSLITTLEACRE was just a plot of smut? Makes me shudder to think of what is going on behind the walls of CHRISTSCOLLEGE, which made me nostalgic for the pre-Covid days of yore when I would travel to Cambridge several times a year.

OffTheGrid 8:13 AM  

@Jofried. Check out NYTBEE.COM. It tells # of words, # of pangrams, total possible points. You can also click to see the answers.

Todd F. 8:15 AM  

The other night on the Mets broadcast, it was discovered that Keith Hernandez didn’t know what a PBJ sandwich was, much to everyone’s amusement. (Search Twitter). Among other things, he claimed PBJ didn’t show up in NYT crosswords. Well.....

rjkennedy98 8:22 AM  

Wow I really struggled with this one. Only Christ’s Church I was familiar with. The others I needed tons of crosses for. I don’t get having a bunch of themers that are names, when the rest of the puzzle is also names. And how does a movie that flopped in the 1980s count as a theme answer? This was just not fun for me. The only perverse joy was remembering the Heavens Gate cult which committed mass suicide near my home in San Diego when I was a kid. Shows how much I liked this puzzle.

Sgreennyc 8:25 AM  

The complaints about so-called old references are amusing. I’ve been doing the puzzle since the days of Margaret Farrah and have often encountered words from way before my time. But these were opportunities to learn. If I was unfamiliar with a reference to a person, place or thing, I made it a point to learn what it was about. Doing the puzzle over the years has broadened my knowledge as it still does today as I’m exposed to new things all the time. (For example, I’d never heard the term “drop the mic” until it appeared in a NYT puzzle.) So whether a puzzle skews old or young, it’s an opportunity to add to one’s knowledge base and vocabulary. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Tim Aurthur 8:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eddie 8:40 AM  

My guess, none.

Ted 8:45 AM  

Easy/Medium my butt.

CYTE crossing YAHOO and EDNA, with HARDG too-cleverly clued next to it? Ugh.

COSET? THEDA? LORN through TERI? I had name problems all over here and needed too many crosses. Did NOT help having never, ever heard of GODS LITTLE ACRE. That whole West and Southwest was a problem.

Joaquin 8:49 AM  

@Sgreennyc (8:25) - I 100% agree with you that crosswords are "an opportunity to add to one’s knowledge base and vocabulary," and I would add that they provide some fun while doing so.

But ... some solvers prefer the competitive aspect and care more about beating the clock (and other solvers) than learning new stuff.

To each his own ...

Adam 8:49 AM  


mathgent 8:53 AM  

I haven’t read God’s Little Acre. I’m guessing that it was popular with teens in the thirties and forties because it had some good sex scenes. I remember seeing it on the paperback rack when I was a teen in the fifties, but we read the Mickey Spillane novels. We thought that they were pretty hot. I tried to get my teenage grandson to do some reading this summer and bought him “I, the Jury,” the Spillane classic. It bored him. We didn’t have internet porn.

The way you get good at crosswords is by doing crosswords. I’m old but not old enough to have seen THEDA Bara. I learned her name from crosswords. I’ve also never seen TERI Polo except in puzzles.

I thought that it was crunchier than the average Tuesday even though it was almost all little words.

Dylan 8:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nancy 8:58 AM  

Quite absorbing -- an adjective I possibly have never before used for a Tuesday puzzle.

First of all, how refreshing to have a supporting timber that's not an IBEAM. I, construction ignoramus that I am, never even heard of a JOIST and wanted JOINT. (As in join together -- oh, I don't know.)

Re 10D. PENCIL. How generous. Can they afford it?

What, exactly, is an "ambient musician"? Today it's ENO, but ONO's in the grid too, so the constructor had a weighty cluing choice.

Once upon a time, a breezy and irreverent puzzle such as this would have been considered blasphemous. Why, the constructor might even have been burned at the stake. So, even though the time we're living through is unremittingly awful, thank HEAVENS it's not that awful!

Unknown 8:58 AM  

Completely agree!

Z 9:01 AM  

I don’t get fooled (much) by the Big finish style clue anymore. It only took about 9,867 stumbles, but it doesn’t fool me anymore. HARD letters, soft letters, long letters, short letters, and (everyone’s favorite) schwa are all ripe for this cluing trope. It will return.

I really liked this theme but boy howdy the fill and cluing needs some modernizing. Popeye, I Love Lucy, a 1917 film reference, both Yoko and Brian (but hey, no Oreo). Egads. And then EPEEISTS. If you resort to EPEEISTS and it’s a POC (at least it isn’t a POWTF) let me suggest it’s time to rework the short fill. Other crossword venues are coming for NYTX’s stuff and they don’t seem to care. They just keep churning out Prince Valiant quality puzzles. Theme - A-/B+ || Fill - D

@Chuck D - I agree on RIIS, not so sure about ARNAZ. I think SEAHAG is fine, the Popeye clue not so much. In my memory the SEAHAG is black and white, not even the “more recent” color version of Popeye. That’s probably not 100% accurate, but that’s the image I thought of.

@ForsakeMeNot - First, Sex ≠ Sexism. Maybe you didn’t mean to say that, but it certainly seemed like you were equating the two. Second, I also read a fair amount of “classic” science fiction. Some of it is classically sexist. Some of it tries to be not sexist and fails in interesting ways. Some of it pushes against the conventions of its era and sometimes even ours. Unsurprisingly, even the incredibly sexist books have interesting ideas, can be written well, and can entertain. That doesn’t make them not sexist. And being sexist doesn’t mean they should never be read (or collected - although I’m personally not much into collecting). If you click through to Rex’s other blog (which he hasn’t updated in nearly a year) you will see some interesting writing on books in his collection, almost exclusively about the cover art.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Usually I enjoy the puzzles and then read what Rex had to say and sit bewildered at his strong hatred for something I found fun. But this puzzle, I hated--one of the few ones I've hated. No fun to solve. I thought, "OK, here we go. Rex is going to hate this too." And you liked it??

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

@SGreenNYC I couldn't agree more!. NYTC is part of my daily constitutional, and while many seem so eager to finish puzzles with fantastic speed, I prefer not to devour them, rather to savor them, taking time to dig into an unknown author, or obscure reference that may add to my knowledge of a subject otherwise off my radar. Case in point: Caldwell reference today- just not an author that was ever on any reading list of mine... til now. As a fairly young man, and very new to this blog, I find the overall tone to be sour, as though the aim is to have the best worst experience. Good or bad, I find there is always something to learn and enjoy about each puzzle, whether suited to my interests or not.

RooMonster 9:09 AM  

Hey All !
Weird how FOR CHRISTS SAKE seems more blasphemous than FOR GODS SAKE. Shouldn't it be the other way around? GOD as being the all-powerful being that ultimately decides your fate, CHRIST being the Son who is the moral compass. Then there are those who think GOD and CHRIST are the same being. I don't want to start a biblical controversy, just thinking aloud.

Was thinking Rex would trash this puz. Har, he liked it. Jacob must be a friend.

Kind of a slippery slope type theme, bordering on offending some people.

Agree with some about the iffy fill. Thought for a second that WIE was WII, but really hoping it wasn't, as it crossed RIIS. And lots of short fill.

Lost original post which I believe was better than this one! πŸ˜€

One F (Revealer)

TTrimble 9:11 AM  

The very first thing I wanted to see after completing this puzzle (pretty decent time for me) was how many people knew COSET. That would be the kind of answer you'd either love or hate -- love it if you know it, because it's a bit on the esoteric side. It's a pretty basic term as it turns out -- if you're a mathematician.

The theme was very easy to get once PETE'S DRAGON and CHRIST'S COLLEGE are in place.

Even without COSET, I liked this puzzle a lot, even though it was probably harder than most Tuesdays and had a fair amount of PPP. It had a lot of satisfying crunch to it.

---[SB Alert]---

-->> spoiler from yesterday <<--

I was hopeful that some hours of sleep would enable me to find the one missing word from yesterday, but alas not. And the word turned out to be MONONYM, a word I know perfectly well, and it's a bit hard to believe I missed it. However, the last word I got was ETYMON, pleasing as punch. So, silver linings.

Did it not seem to you, fellow SB-ers, that yesterday's answers were a bit heavy on the Greek? METONYM, ETYMON, MONONYM, MONO, and, I think, NEON, MONOTONE, MONTONY. The last two might be considered Greek-Latin hybrids, but actually I think not -- the Latin tonus goes back to the Greek tonos. I had a little bit of private amusement thinking up other such made-up words such as "ototomy" (cutting off the ear?). I thought there might be a -tomy word in there. And "neoteny" has already been discussed. As has "metonymy", whose absence is completely inexplicable and inexcusable.

Oh, and today's. Oy vey. There are a lot of answers. I don't think I have time for this.

bauskern 9:18 AM  

Sometimes I think that no one would remember Brian ENO or the movie TRON were it not for crossword puzzles. I thought this one had teeth to it. Thought Rex would absolutely love this one b/c it pointed out the relative lack of male secretaries of state.
@Z Don't worry, I absolutely won't point out that once again, on a puzzle where Rex lost some traction and was probably quite a bit slower than he wanted to be, that he ignores or refuses to post his finish time for all to see! I'll keep that thought to myself.
To those of you who play SB, I totally don't get the appeal of the game. When you start randomly clicking on letters to "create" a word, where is the appeal to that?

Z 9:20 AM  

@Joaquin and @Sgreennyc - There’s a difference between “stuff I don’t know” and “dated.” A movie star whose 15 minutes of fame expired a century ago? This is the general issue with PPP. There’s nothing “puzzling” about these entries, no word play, zero interest. Either you know the answer or you don’t. An excess of these entries transmogrify the crossword puzzle into a trivia contest. And today the trivia is of the meatcake variety. This has nothing to do with speed solving, and everything to do with being able to solve the puzzle fairly.

JD 9:25 AM  

Haven't seen Riis in such a long, thought it was Reis and that was my demise. So youngsters, take comfort. Sometimes geezers struggle with the old stuff because it's soooo old we can't even remember it.

Did love Joist though. I knew it because we had a roof leak. The roofer told us it was hard to pinpoint the location of it because the water was running along the Joist. True story. The Joist was moist.

Unknown 9:34 AM  


clk 9:35 AM  

I had the exact same reaction. I was looking forward to how much Rex would hate it.

Josh 9:39 AM  

When I got stuck, I checked—10 of my remaining 13 unsolved clues were outdated proper nouns in the SW corner. Lame.

goldbug 9:52 AM  

100%. Except you forgot ARNAZ,SEAHAG, TCBY, TERI and EPEEISTS. Joyless for me.

goldbug 9:53 AM  

What, young whippersnappers these days don't remember 1917's "Cleopatra"?!

Ann 9:56 AM  

But he did get it in via Milton and Oliver...

Eric 9:57 AM  

@StephenIsMad - I came here to say something along these lines, but you did it better than I would have.

A lot of crosswordese nonsense in this puzzle, and I was sure Rex was going to pop a blood vessel on EPEEISTS. Wow. It felt kind of gross writing that one in.

I think maintaining consistent difficulty between days of the week is important for the NYTXW. Especially keeping the Mon / Tues on the easy side helps bring newer solvers in. This was way off for Tues difficulty - the cluing of CAIRO and CHESS was ridiculous, the existence of COSET crossing with three themers and WEI is absurd, just to name a few. This is twice in the last week (last Thurs was way too easy) where they have missed the mark by miles on difficulty; seems like something is going on.

pmdm 9:59 AM  

I usually like Jacob's puzzle a lot, but boy, this one had way too much PPP for me. It doesn't matter to me how contemporary the PPP is. As Z said, it just become a trivia puzzle, and I don't like them. A shame, because with the help of the revealer and the crosses, I did get all the theme entries without resorting to research.

I recognize HARDG clues and entries for the most part now. Yes that type of clue will return. And even if I get it immediately, I still will wince.

When I drive across country and come upon a beautiful view, I slow the car down to admire the view. I don't see the point of speeding by and missing something worthwhile. I suppose that's why I shanke my head when a speed solver says "I missed that." But that's only me. Whatever gives you pleasure is fine by me.

GILL I. 10:10 AM  

Wow, I thought this was a great puzzle. A little dusty and musty in some places, a little difficult in others, but I loved the theme.
Yeah, there were a lot of names - all have been in other crosswords before, so for once, I wasn't bothered. The hardest answer for me was that PENCIL thing for 10D. I thought maybe a miniature golf freebie would be that little golf ball or maybe a gnome.
FORSAKE right in the middle and I knew the jig was up. The only hard one for me was not knowing where Milton and John went to college. I thought "who cares?" But I knew the rest of the theme answers.
I never read much smut growing up - other than Lady Chatterly's Lover - and only because my grandmother told me it was smutty. Tame by today's standards I'd think. Any way,
I never read GOD'S LITTLE ACRE but I saw the film. I love old Black and White's and Tina Louise was a hoot to watch. Her huge tatas were flung all over the place in the film and eyeballs would pop out of sockets every time she bent over. 12 year old boys loved her. I also watched HEAVEN'S GATE and didn't realize it was a flop. I'm a sucker for Western's. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that a lot of stuff Kris Kristofferson does, seems to go pffft.
I wish a GOODNESS had been included followed by some gracious.

JBolt 10:15 AM  

I had the exact same thought! Rex will hate this one as much as I do, for sure. This was a massive slog for a Tuesday.

Mary in NE 10:22 AM  

After I got 1A and later 11A, I started wondering if the theme would involve J's in the corners.

jberg 10:29 AM  

I’m 76; that THEDA Bara movie was made before my parents were born. Very few now alive were her contemporaries. But— she is famous in Hollywood history, so I’m surprised so many don’t know her.

@Roo- yeah, Rex and Mr. Rios go way back.

@Nancy, Brian ENO had some pop hits and then announced he wanted to write music to be played in elevators, ie. that you could start or stop listening at any point. He calls it “ambient music;” I think he’s still at it.

I did like this one and the revealer was brilliant.

Advice columns used to be characterized as being for the love-LORN. I guess that’s gone out of style.

egsforbreakfast 10:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
William of Ockham 10:38 AM  

Calling it a Bloody Mess is a High Compliment.

Lotsa relative Natick-y going on.


Whatsername 10:39 AM  

This was a good solid effort, but when I have to google on a Tuesday I’m not having much fun. Could’ve been so much better without the obscure Propers. If I was a newbie this would have been very discouraging.

Didn’t help that I was way out of the ballpark in a couple of places with BAE at 64A for “my man,” then realized it was not Lucy’s man but Fred’s BRO as played by Desi ARNAZ. Same with COSET, as the only “subdivision” I was thinking of was the housing kind, which left me wondering WTH is that.

As for the theme, I won’t throw a hissy fit and cancel my subscription (hi @Joaquin), and I don’t think the constructor should be burned at the stake (hey @Nancy), but I do agree with @Roo that it’s a bit of a slippery slope. Sitting in my subdivision squarely in the middle of the Bible belt, it was a LITTLE cringeworthy. To me it seems like just another lowering of accepted standards, like profanity on network TV or wearing pajamas in public. Ever see someone wearing fuzzy ones and bunny slippers shuffling through Walmart? Oh FOR PETE’S SAKE! Not that I’m so pious, but do we really need to go there? That’s not intended as a criticism of this puzzle per se, just a personal observation FWIW. That and $1.85 will get you a tall one at Starbucks. $2.85 if you’re wearing a onesie.

@Hungry Mother: Looks like the worst is almost over. Hope all is well where you are.

ACatholic 10:46 AM  

Do not take the Lord's name in vain. 27A should not haver gotten past Shortz

Kathy 10:48 AM  

I agree w all the youngsters in that I came here at 5 am for Rex’s consolatory complaint— only to find a positive review?!?!? Though I dig the trivia on the dirty old paperbacks.

JC66 10:51 AM  

@Todd F

Glad you mentioned it. I immediately thought to Keith Hernandez when I filled in PBJ (11A).

Hey @Roo

You hit the nail on the head. This young constructor must be one of @Rex'd BROs.

****SB ALERT****


Second time in the past few days we reversed rolls. I got MONONYM but didn't get ETYMON.

Barbara S. 10:53 AM  

Wow, this is one of the most divisive Wheelhouse Days I can remember in a long time. I liked the puzzle, the theme and the fill, and (I admit) most of it was familiar to me.

The trouble I have with people trashing clues/answers like THEDA Bara is that steamy THEDA is now part of film *history*. So is HEAVEN'S GATE, a 40-year-old movie. GOD'S LITTLE ACRE (1933) and author Erskine Caldwell are part of the history of American popular fiction. Of course, they're not current -- neither is Napoleon. History (political, intellectual, social, cultural) is an area of human knowledge that is a rich repository for crossword puzzles, and I revel in it. But I feel that charging such references with not being current is crazily irrelevant/redundant. History is a record of past events. End of rant.

Some short snappers (as I'm obviously kinda snappy today):

* Most of THEDA Bara's silent film performances have actually been lost to history thanks to a fire in the Fox storage vault in the 1930s. Only about 20 seconds of her turn as Cleopatra survive, but they're pretty memorable as the film was shot before the censoring restrictions of the Hays Production Code came in.

* I think I'd automatically like any puzzle that includes the University of Cambridge, one of my favorite places on earth. CHRIST'S COLLEGE has a bunch of other famous alumni, too, including Darwin, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Sacha BARON Cohen and Colin Dexter (of Inspector Morse fame).

* SEAHAG?? I've never read Popeye comics, but I watched a heck of a number of Popeye cartoons when I was a kid and I thought Popeye's great enemy was Bluto. Must be a selective memory phenomenon.

* LORN: I know forlorn and lovelorn, but not LORN ALONE.

* I know I'm in a minority of one, but I liked EPEEISTS. I felt it gave one of our old friends some gravitas to be incorporated into a longer word. I do agree it would have been better in the singular.

* I think BONE EAGER should become an expression, as in "I'm BONE EAGER to get back to regular swimming" or "I'm BONE EAGER to try my sister's new brownie recipe." (See 12D directly on top of 31D.)

I'm coming back to talk about SB.

RooMonster 10:54 AM  

@TTrimble 9:11
Today's Bee is crazy! Agree with the tons of words. I have a high word and point amount,cand still haven't found the pangram!

@bauskern 9:18
SB - Not sure the pull, but when you first start, it's fun to see how many words you can sniff out. Comparable to the Jumble. It gets old for a bit, but then you level out and find it interesting. If that makes sense.

@JD 9:25
LOL! A moist JOIST.

Speaking of JOIST, if there was a religion called JO, you'd be a JO-IST.
(Whah whah)

RooMonster Not A Comedian Guy

Newboy 10:59 AM  


It’s early week for sure

Gimme on HEAVEN’S GATE filmed up I90 in Wallace, tho so bad it probably is obcurata of the first order for many. But LORN as in forLORN was a teachable moment for this ole dog—never heard of “The Fosters “ so only an alphabet run saved an embarrassing Tuesday DNF.

Still a strangely fun puzzle, so thanks Jacob. Hope y’all liked it. Gotta read Rex and previous posts to confirm.

Ethan Taliesin 11:01 AM  

I spent an inordinate amount of time on this Tuesday for some reason, probably because I couldn't remember the golf lady or the actress and had to rely on the crosses. I'm embarrassed to also say I did not know JOIST, which seems like a word that should know regardless of whether I solve xwords.

HEAVEN'S GATE was a UFO death cult whose adherents teleported onto a spaceship that was following the comet Hale-Bop as it passed by in '97.

Hartley70 11:02 AM  

I wonder if there was any editorial debate on whether to use CHRISTS as a FORSAKE theme revealer. I would have voted no, just as I wouldn’t use it in conversation. I’m not overly religious but as often used in anger, I find it gratuitously offensive. If we’re talking about Lent, it gets a pass.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

wasn't THEDA Bara the 'It Girl'? let's see... nope, 'The Vamp'. the 'It Girl' was Clara Bow.

as to Mr. Lucille Ball, I always drop in ARNeZ because that's how I've heard it said on the teeVee, and do a mental correction from the cross. speak United States fur cryin out loud.

didn't get, or need, the revealer, since FORSAKE is a Real Single Word and didn't make much sense 'next to', i.e. in front of, the first word of the themers. Grammarians of the World Unite!! You have only your similes to lose!!

Ernonymous 11:14 AM  

@egsforB As a complainer about HardG, it was hard for me but I think it is fair. It is one of those things that practice and experience helps a lot with. I'm a newbie so it really stumped me, but I know for next time. I didn't look up HardC but HardG has not been in any of the puzzles I've done since January. I did probably see it in an archived puzzle, but I cheat in those so probably it didn't seer into my brain enough. It by itself would have been OK if it didn't have EDNA and CYTE involved. That section would have all been okay if there wasn't the WIE and RIIS and THEDA in the same Tuesday puzzle.
I just got utterly frustrated with this thing and I usually don't mind being challenged. I think I'm edgy these days..who isn't?

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

@JD. Did the repairman have to hoist the moist joist to fix it?

egsforbreakfast 11:26 AM  

I liked the slight “crunchiness” of this puzzle. And if you suppose that Mr. Stulburg started by placing his themers and filled in from there, I can imagine his relief at seeing that HARDG would not only work, but that it has been used 14 times in the Shortz era, making it obviously acceptable. Combine this with the 12 times that HARDC has been used, and I think that the protests today might be a tad louder than are justified.

I thought there was an obvious dramatic play (not really), with FORSAKE falling directly between the originator of its best known use (My God, why have you FORSAKEn me?) and the being to whom it was addressed. With HEAVEN on God’s side, and (St.) PETEr on CHRISTS, I was just waiting for the resurrection, but got only a PHOTOGENIC RHINOCEROS.

Z 11:26 AM  

@Anon11:20 - The repairman hoisting a moist JOIST sounds like a ‘70’s porno flick.

DevoutAtheist 11:29 AM  

@Acatholic. We are free to believe what we choose in matters religious. What many don't understand is that religious freedom does NOT include imposing your beliefs and standards on others. If a puzzle offends you it is your duty to deal with it, not the duty of the puzzle to meet your beliefs.

Randy 11:36 AM  

I like your BONE EAGER but it gave me naughty thoughts.

Banya 11:42 AM  

SO MUCH natick in this puzzle

Barbara S. 11:44 AM  


"Etymon" was the word that gave me QB. It wasn't a complete crapshoot, I guess, in that I had "etymology" in mind and I wondered if I could find a letter to complete that root that would actually be a word.

@TTrimble 9:11
Greek-heavy indeed. Inevitable with that selection of letters.

@Geezer 7:42 and @bauskern 9:18
You make a good point, and @pabloinnh has made it too, with his "throwing darts blindfolded" remark. Has an SBer accomplished anything if they've achieved QB through wild stabs? First off, I think it's in the eye of the player-beholder. We all have our own rules about how we play the game. Some people don't want to know how many words the game wants you to find, let alone the number of words of each of the different lengths. Some people feel that getting assistance from the daily help post on Wordplay is just fine and that goes so far as to give you the number of words beginning with various single letters and combinations of letters.

I don't use help from Wordplay, but I always want to know how many words I'm shooting for. If I have only 2 or 3 words left to find (when my lexical brain is pretty much tapped out), I usually start playing with likely combinations of letters, partly because of natural obsessive tendencies and partly because I think it's fun. And, really, except in extreme cases, these aren't completely wild stabs -- I'm looking for possible combinations based on words I already know or on what I know about how words are constructed. This usually results in absolutely nothing, but from time to time I get QB. Maybe QB with an asterisk, but I'll take it! And I've learned something. I'd like to say that I'll never forget "etymon" now, but learning and retaining seem to be two separate processes. But, hey, that's a whole nother issue.

Cristi 11:45 AM  

Yes!!!!!! Bb

Newboy 11:46 AM  

Thanks Barbara S (10:53) I for one am BONE EAGER to add that neologism to my canon....wishing I could work LORN into this construction with or without an I beam or JOIST. For the many above who had a hard time with HARD G always pay attention to that question mark on a clue and in a decade or two, you’ll be spelling ARNeZ as ARNAZ just like @Chefwen (2:25). Today I got both and feel pretty smugπŸ₯΄

Leslie 11:54 AM  

I really liked the theme. It actually helped me with the fill (I didn't know which college at Cambridge). Some of the fill was annoying for sure (EPEEISTS????) but now I understand what Rex means when he says a really good theme makes one forgive some poor fill. Another way to look at it is some sacrifice is made FOR the theme's SAKE. But it needs to be a good one.

McKay Hinckley 12:04 PM  

I spent a minute looking for “goodness.” I was a little surprised as well.

TTrimble 12:17 PM  

@Gill I.
You really seem like you were a fun GAL growing up. Re Lady Chatterley's Lover: I've never actually read it, but I'm pretty sure it's one of the novels Kate Millett chose to analyze in Sexual Politics, which I found in my mom's library when I was about 12 and scanned purely for the smutty excerpts. It's a sure bet that Millett's message was completely lost on me at the time. :-)

You've now got me curious about Tina Louise -- who's still alive, I didn't know! -- in God's Little Acre.

---[SB Again]---

I'm 55 words in for today's and a recent genius, and I think I shall call it quits. I feel sure I'd never catch all of them and it would eat up too much time. But good luck to everyone else! I'll be impressed if anyone gets the crown.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

what you don't seem to believe in are manners. or proportion. No one is asking you to believe anything. But it's a fact that for Christ's sake is considered by an enormous number of people for close to thousand years to be deeply offensive. Why include something like that in a puzzle? Of course The Times has the right, but its boorish. Goodness, Rex has a conniption over all sorts of what he calls slights: chink, spade, etc and those are clearly invoking the non offensive meaning. 27 Across clearly invoke the offending meaning. Why the double standard?

Jared 12:31 PM  

This was one of the most unenjoyable solves I've ever had on the NYT, and on a Tuesday yet. Incredibly dated and stale content, I'm really surprised that Rex liked this one.

gifcan 12:39 PM  

Thank you. I agree, it's deeply offensive.

gifcan 12:43 PM  

I agree.

Teedmn 12:46 PM  

I tore through this like I was solving in molasses and I blame the RHINOCEROS in the room. I always want the word to end in OuS, which had me gingerly filling in the west side, looking at the letter count.

Can we assume tht 17A is referring to St. Peter since the other three all had HEAVENly references?

I'm not sure why but my favorite clue/answer pair today was 68A.

Jacob Stulberg, I liked your theme, thanks.

The Guess Professor 12:47 PM  

Gee. I can't be 100% certain about this, but anecdotal evidence indicates that @StephenIsMad.

jb129 12:55 PM  

Took me way too long for a Tuesday to get it - thinking maybe a Wednesday puzzle. But when I finally did (DUH) I had to smile.

gifcan 12:58 PM  

Like if you think homosexuality is natural and not intrinsically disordered then keep it to yourself?

What? 1:01 PM  

I don’t understand the complaints that this puzzle is only for old folks. I mean I finished the puzzle and I’m 83. Oh, wait.

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Wowie wow. I'm 33 and this was brutal. My average Tuesday time is ~6 mins. and this came in over 10.

An unbelievable amount of old proper nouns. Yes, learning a new thing or two is great and expands the mind. Learning 8 new things at once, on a Tuesday, is brutal.

1/5 stars - would not recommend for a friend.

(Clever/cute revealer though)

Frantic Sloth 1:32 PM  

@Z from yesterday - Agreed on 18A from that other puzzle. Talk about POWTF! And I knew this would be true: the Sinatra reference was just another reason to slap my uber-abused forehead. πŸ™„

@Lewis Why did your intro remind me of this? The rest of you review was pretty much what I was thinking, too.

@Hungry Mother LOL, in that ironic tragicomedy kinda way.

Other than that...

Hand up for BLT before PBJ. On that note, an aside:

I've spent most of my life feeling like an ET for never liking the for-reasons-passing-my-understanding-ubiquitous PBJ sammich. PB - yes. PBJ - blech! Might have something to do with the ridiculous fact that I don't like J. Period. Never have and probably never will.
Call me Succubus if you mustubus, but there it is.

Any way you look at this puzzle, it was much more difficult - for most people, it would seem - than your average Tuesdee. New solvers, especially younger than (I'll say) 50 would certainly give it the stank-eye, and the comments thus far bear this out.

I kinda liked it for this same reason. My planet calls... πŸ‘½

plus one sti/ank-eye

Now to finish reading y'all. Can't read that fast and wanted to say something before midnight.

Patrica Ann 1:33 PM  

I’ve been doing the Times puzzle for thirty years and it’s always skewed old. Now I’m in my fifties and the puzzle is more in my wheelhouse this is somehow now a problem. πŸ˜‚

JD 1:42 PM  

@Roo, Anon 11:20, and Z, I think Hoist the Moist Joist was actually Salinger's foist choice of title for Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters. That might be an urban legend though

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

@11:29 am DevoutAtheist said...If a puzzle offends you it is your duty to deal with it, not the duty of the puzzle to meet your beliefs..
.Hey DA can you please pass this on to RP. I’ve been saying this for years. Thanks.

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

Read it as co-set.

KM 2:03 PM  

Couldn’t agree more! I hated every minute of this puzzle and couldn’t believe how many obscure proper nouns it was looking for. This puzzle is proof that Rex is insane. Of all puzzles to finally get upset about this would be the one.

Masked and Anonymous 2:08 PM  

No U's at all? Well -- for pity's sake …

Themers leaned a bit cleric(al), what with CHRISTS, GODS, & HEAVENS. And I'm thinkin PETES might be a St. Peter reference, right?
Had heard of all the themers, so that helped out, at our house. Also we have been re-watchin "The West Wing" show [wanted to be reminded what a real president acted like]; this came in handy, as TERI Polo played the wife of Jimmy Smits's Presidential candidate Santos.

staff weeject pick: NGO. About as feisty as that recent LCD abbreve meat. Primo weeject stacks, in the NE & SW, btw.

fave fillins included: TWEEZE [Better clue: {In between a nose twitch and a sneeze??}]. PHOTOGENIC. PENCIL. RHINOCEROS.

Best U opportunity that M&A can think of in 30 nanoseconds: Re-do the SW weeject stack, to be:

Thanx for all yer sakes, Stulberg dude.

Masked & Anonymo_s


Pamela 2:18 PM  


@Barbara S described perfectly the not-quite-randomness of putting unfamiliar words together. Not quite the same as throwing them at a wall and seeing what sticks. And as @TTrimble said, this is usually done when the brain has been thoroughly massaged, most words have been found, and the last couple or few feel maddeningly nearly within reach.

I wish I were in that position today. Alas, I’m only at 52 words, no pangram, not even Genius, and I’ve spent way too much time on this already. Yesterday’s Greek left me short, but today is worse.

Frantic Sloth 2:29 PM  

After further perusal of the comments:

Hand up for EPEEIST being legit, yet leshit.

Hand up for those idiotic "hah! Gotcha!" soft/hard beginning/end-of-word letter clues being skeighty-eight kinds of more obnoxious than me! Throw them all in a burlap bag with a concrete block and drop 'em in da drink!

Is it me or is TRON the new OREO? Seems so, lately anyway.

@Sgreennyc 825am Preach!! Couldn't agree more! (Still, it was kinda sneaky for a Tuesdee.) πŸ˜‰

@mathgent 853am Ditto! See above.

But, IMHO @Barbara S 1053am said it best!

@Z 901am I get your point about learning from the 9,867 stumbles. I'm getting there, but my point is I shouldn't have to.

@TTrimble 911am I'm not a mathematician, but I play one nowhere. πŸ˜‰ Turns out I did know COSET. How? No bloody idea. Probably from crossword puzzles.

Lookie! There's that there learnin' thing again!

@bauskern 918am Wholly agree about ENO and TRON. One of the unhappy by-products of crossword construction crutches (CCCs?) is the unfortunate longevity of mediocrity.

With @Nancy and @JD about JOIST. Great word and IBEAM conqueror. Also @JD "The joist was moist" could be an adult version of "The Cat in the Hat" in my mind. Well, you started it!

@GILL I 1010AM "I thought maybe a miniature golf freebie would be that little golf ball or maybe a gnome." This cracked me up. Also anticipated a GOODNESS, but nobody thinks like us...to their detriment, natch.

@jberg 1028am Thanks for solving the Pod-Rex Riddle for me and @Roo, and (to a lesser degree because he's wiser) @JC66. It should be obvi by now, but a lotta obvi escapes me.

@Z 1126am (& anon 1120) And if said repairman tried to unload that damaged part on some unsuspecting schmuck, would he foist the hoist(ed) moist joist on him/her?

Am deftly avoiding the "for CHRIST'S SAKE" argument because ugh.

πŸ¦₯ out

Anonymous 3:18 PM  


Well, there is this. If you and I ended as roomies, it would work out fine. I can marginally stand PB, so a PB&J (the correct name), for me, is 99% J and 1% PB. About a micron deep.

Unknown 3:19 PM  

THANK YOU. I’m 36 and I’ve been doing the NYT crossword for years and this is the kind of puzzle that makes me *sure* they’re trying to get me to quit!

JC66 3:21 PM  


Thanks...I think. ;-)

David 3:45 PM  

I also solved it as a themeless, but when I looked back and saw the theme I thought it was pretty nifty.

But the fill had *everything* I dislike in puzzles with the exception of oreo and oboe, so I really didn't enjoy it until I was done.

There ya go

Pdxrains 3:51 PM  

Same here. I'm 37 and been doing NYT for a few years and this was insanely hard for a wed for me. I've never heard of these movies or books. Even figuring out the theme I was basically DNF. Brutal.

RooMonster 3:57 PM  

Ok I know some of y'all don't care... but some of us like it. πŸ˜‹

***SB Stuff***

Gonna try to not give spoilers for for today. Let's just say Lots of words. I haven't looked at NYT.BEE to see how many, but it's the highest I've seen since I started doing the Bee. I Finally found the pangram, by I think sheer luck and determination, it was unusual. And i believe I'm still about 60 or so points away from Q. The ole brain is getting fried, I running out of letter combos to try.

***SB over***

Sorry about that to those who don't give a crap!


Anonymous 3:59 PM  

My Pappy seldom, if ever, said it. And he was reared a Congregationalist! Which is one baby step removed from Methodist and two giant steps from Unitarian, they may or may not be Christians anyway.

His oath of choice: Jesus H. CHRIST!!!!!

GHarris 4:17 PM  

N Ow obvious to me that Rex doesn’t read the comments on his blog. He says he hasn’t seen God’s Little Acre mentioned anywhere yet I cited it here a couple of weeks ago in mentioning that the last time I saw the expression “naked as a jay bird “ was a reference to Darlin Jill in God’s Little Acre. Only hard part of puzzle was NW where cyte and hard g lurked. Getting the theme helped me to suss Christ College.

egsforbreakfast 4:21 PM  

@Pdxrains 3:51. Think how bad you’d have felt if you’d known this was a Tuesday puzzle!

Frantic Sloth 4:50 PM  

@egs 421pm LOL!
Internet gone for the foreseeable future so toodles, folks. Not gonna keep trying to do this on my bleeping phone. Don't know how y'all do it!
Guess none of you have ham hands.

Anoa Bob 4:52 PM  

For those thinking this puzzle skews old, yous never know how long it was in the to-be-published queue. I'm joking of course, but when a puzzle comes out it's not uncommon for its constructor to say they put it together so long ago that they have forgotten some of the details of how it was made. Such a lengthy delay could be a reason new, talented constructors are seeking other venues for their puzzles.

Whatever else your thoughts are about 40D EPEEISTS, you got to be impressed with its 100% increase in grid filling power over the base word EPEE. Does EPEEISTS have 100% more interest or value than EPEE? Not to me so I'm thinking that's some serious letter count inflation (LCI) there.

Wasn't it one of our crossword grid regulars Ogden NASH who said that he had never met an animal as preposterous as a RHINOCEROS?

Frantic Sloth 5:14 PM  

@Anoa Bob 452pm. Prepoceros, to be exact.πŸ˜‰

Guess I lied.

Nancy 5:19 PM  

Re the handling of today's theme: As a nonreligious, agnostic sort of person, I have always felt a moral obligation to tread extremely carefully insofar as the feelings and beliefs of highly religious people are concerned. OTOH, I have never expected any of them to return the favor when dealing with me and my skepticism. Nor have I much cared. Nothing anyone says to me on the subject of religion can upset me, anger me, fluster me or disturb me in any way. It probably won't convince me either, though if you're smart and educated and kind and decent and caring, you're always welcome to try.

It's a question of vulnerability. You can be hurt if you believe and feel something deeply. But how can you be hurt by someone attacking what you don't feel or believe? On the subject of religion I know myself to be absolutely invulnerable. I would expect other agnostics -- and even more so Atheists -- to feel equally invulnerable and am baffled when they get upset and/or irate over such things as religious sayings and symbols in the public square. How can any of that affect a non-believer's ideas, opinions and feelings one way or the other?

All this is a long-winded way of saying that, had I constructed this puzzle, I would have omitted FOR CHRIST'S SAKE. I would have respected the fact that, for those to whom this matters, it matters a lot. And I just wouldn't have done it.

GaryMac 5:23 PM  

*** SB ***

I'm at 69 words and 289 points and have just about run out of ideas. I'll give it one more shot before giving up. I'm just stubborn enough to think I can still get there. There are at least four somewhat oddball words that I put in by remembering them from past misses, including one that was very recent. Other than those four, everything else has been pretty straightforward. There is just a lot of words.

jae 6:21 PM  

SEA HAG is currently being featured in the syndicated comic strip Mutts.

The Fosters is excellent and is streaming on Hulu, YouTube TV and Amazon Prime.

GHarris 6:25 PM  

Sorry, Nancy. Usually find myself in wholehearted agreement with your posts and positions but must take issue with your latest. Embroidering public spaces with religious symbols is often a reflection of religious intrusion on governmental function. Religion has its place but not in the halls of political power. Further, the public display of religious symbols, particularly in governmental spaces has the ill effect of making many citizens feel as though they are seen as "others". There is enough divisiveness in our country (world) without exacerbating our differences.

Petsounds 6:27 PM  

@Nancy: Like you, I am not religious (any longer), but I agree that FOR CHRIST SAKE should not be in this puzzle. Geez, people get upset when they see the word NIP in a puzzle--and "nip" is a perfectly acceptable word. It's what one of my dachshunds does when he wants me to pet him! Why would you offend the legitimate Christians (as opposed to Trump "Christians") in this country?

Also, in case anyone was ever in doubt about how lousy the fill was in this one, I give you EPEEIST. The argument that a word shows up in some dictionary or other (and, boy--are there a lot of "other" these days!) doesn't work. You could trawl the OED and fill a puzzle with words no one in 2020 USA would know. What's the point?

And for those who think that speed is all that those of us who didn't like this puzzle care about, I'll just say that I'd rather have a long solve on a Robyn Weintraub puzzle than an average Tuesday time on a joyless effort like this one. I do the puzzle online, and the NYT tells me my solve time, whether I want to know it or not. Solve time takes a back seat to enjoyment for me, and there was very little enjoyment in this one.

Sank 6:28 PM  

Awful puzzel. Lots of obscure references, especially for a Tuesday. Hated this one.

GaryMac 6:43 PM  

*** SB ***
Well, no QB today. That's three days in a row. I finally gave up with two words to go after spending way too much time looking for them. The missing two were words I know, but just could not see them - not even close. This whole thing is becoming more of an obsession that an enjoyment.

Betty 8:06 PM  

Thank you

Z 8:14 PM  

@Petsounds - Geez? Sorta defeated your point, there.


Well, shut the front door. It’s almost as if “taking the Lord’s name in vain” is considered a mild oath at best in modern society. Scatological references, especially with words of Anglo-Saxon origin, are generally considered worse in my experience. Hell, even that most common of profanity, “fuck,” usually gets the *$#& treatment in the comments (one of my great amusements in pro sports being played in empty arenas is the number of times the announcers have to apologize for the the mics picking up an f-bomb - HighLarious). Personally, I find race and ethnicity based pejoratives far worse (and less “Christian”) than a “Golly” or a “For CHRISTS sake” or a “piss off.” {deleted another point sure to pi... Uh... anger people. You’re welcome}

Barbara S. 8:38 PM  

****SB ALERT****
Wow, you got 71 words -- that's fantastic! I'm prepared to give you an honorary QB right now. I'm at 66/73 and I'm just about ready to drop -- I mean, stop. It's been fun, though, in a live-fire exercise sort of way.

JC66 8:39 PM  

****SB ALERT****

I'm watching the Mets game, and just got the pangram.

I call BS!!!

JC66 8:44 PM  

****SB ALERT****

62 words, 257 points.

Not optimistic for QB, I'll give it another few minutes.

Nancy 8:54 PM  

@GHarris -- I should let you know that I was in 5th Grade at P.S.6 when one day, boom, we're told that the Pledge of Allegiance has been changed. For five years we had been saying "One nation, indivisible" and now we were to say: "One nation, under God, indivisible". I was only, what? 11?, and I'm wondering who had changed the Real Pledge, the True Pledge? I mean it was a sort of sacredly patriotic Pledge and now it was...different. I thought changing it was terrible. In fact, I can point to the wanton Changing of the Pledge as perhaps my first experience of government overreach -- though I wouldn't have called it that at the time.

But here's what it didn't do. It didn't make me religious. It didn't make me think about God more. It didn't make me think about God at all, in fact. It had absolutely no effect whatsoever on my religiosity or lack thereof. And this is why I don't worry about government trying to shove religion down non-religious people's throats in whatever ham-handed way they choose to do it. It simply doesn't work. It never will.

JMajers 9:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pamela 9:06 PM  

****SB ALERT****

@GaryMac- You have my vote, too, for honorary QB.

I quit too. 62 words, and way too much time. How is it that I’m giving so much more attention to this silly game than the puzzle that got me here?! How will I manage all this- daily puzzles AND the SB -if I ever get a real schedule back? Yikes!

END SB****

*****only for tonightπŸ™„

RooMonster 9:08 PM  

I finally gave up at 68 words. I can almost guarantee I missed an easy/ordinary word that when I look tomorrow, I'll give myself a D'oh slap. One of the last ones I got was a common word. I think your brain gets all squirrelly after a while. (Look for squirrelly in a SB coming soon.) (Well, no, as I don't think Q's ate allowed.)

Rebel Roo

GILL I. 9:20 PM  

@Z...religion is such a personal experience. I suppose using fuck in proper company is as well. We wince when something uncomfortable hits the proverbial fan. That some people don't care is fine with me but when I sense visible uncomfortableness, I take a breath and might apologize. Several people here were uncomfortable with FOR CHRIST SAKE. @Nancy has a great response to that.
I personally love all religions. Give me the atheism, agnosticism, theism and add all others. The history behind each is worth a good read. Our world has been ruled by these beliefs and shoved down the throats of every civilization....God in every form rules the day. May I suggest Buddhism and their belief in enlightenment and avoidance of suffering as well as a side dish of Jainism and their love of ecology.
If you sense discomfort....do the proper thing and avoid it.
Wear a mask.

JC66 9:26 PM  

IMHO, it's not important whether or not it disturbs me (it doesn't).

For Christ Sake is obviously offensive to many. Therefore, it shouldn't have passed muster.

Anoa Bob 9:28 PM  

@Frantic, thanks for the correct Ogden Nash spin on the "prepoceros RHINOCEROS". I should have known that "preposterous RHINOCEROS" was too mundane for the never mundane Mr. Nash.

With so much obvious interest in the ****SB**** on display here every day, I think one of yous smart cookies out there should start a blog dedicated to it.

Fish 9:40 PM  

This was not Tuesday difficulty at all. Never heard of God’s Little Acre. Sea Hag is lousy crosswordese, particularly crossed with Theda. Pete’s Dragon? Christ College? This is a Wednesday at least. Average time for Tuesday is 7 minutes, this one took me over 15.

dusky 10:24 PM  

Ah yes, the age thing. I am in my Seventies, didn't get into puzzles until my husband, frustrated by all the pop answers of the day, gave it up a year ago. So...I totally thought this puzzle was a gas and fun, even if I didn't know CYTE but took a chance on EDNA, which I was familiar with, WEK was a puzzlement but now I know, never heard of Pete's Dragon but and yes I have heard of all these phrases knew Caldwell's book even though I never read it and filled that in quickly with only a few letters. Ah Age. it's nice to have THEDA and RIIS to listen to some BEBOP with. WEI is so common that it's like using Golfer Tiger as a clue. So, hmmm...it's nice to have something thrown to us oldsters once in a blue moon. Oh, SNAP. I suppose I'd dating myself right there.

Emil 10:37 PM  

A little late, blame it on Isiasis, but yes 100%.

GHarris 11:22 PM  

Had the same experience with the pledge. As a kid I resented and resisted the change, often stumbled over it when reciting. Later, in high school joined with other editors in writing an editorial for the school paper objecting to the requirement of reciting the pledge every morning. When the powers that be vetoed the column we ran a blank space surrounded by a wreathe and the caption “In Memory of Freedom of the Press”. Almost got us expelled. So I just don’t accept mixing religiosity with secular matters. But I respect your feelings and may I say, Amen.

Mr. Alarm 12:31 AM  

Thanks for clearing that up for novices like me. Boy, I know it’s hard to construct a puzzle- I’ve “built” a few - but this “hard ___” approach seems so random, I guess the real clue is knowing what “hard” is referring to. Jeesh, why not “banana end” for SOFTA while we’re at it?!

assignmenthelp 6:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wayne 7:12 AM  


Music Man 8:00 AM  

Glad to see I wasn’t the only one who didn’t like it.

Anonymous 8:50 PM  

I blew through the top third and then was completely stumped for a Tuesday. Didn't know Christs College, Edna, Wie, God's Little Acre, Theda, Teri, Sea Hag, or Riis.

Glad to see other people felt the same way about this puzzle that I did.

spacecraft 11:09 AM  

First of all, this is no Tuesday puzzle. Thursday, maybe. EPEEISTS, are you kidding me? Well, whaddya know: it's a WORD! Can you imagine anyone actually speaking "EPEEISTS?"

"What're you watching?" "Fencing. Those EPEEISTS are really good."

Sure. But leave that aside. We come to one of my most hated constructor devices: the RPG. No, that's not role-playing game, it's Random Pronunciation Guide (HARD, SOFT or SILENT followed by some letter). Those absolutely infuriate me. Not only does it feel like cheating, it throws me off every time.

There are other fill WOES too, but let's move on to the theme: swearing. Doesn't do a whole lot for me. Bottom line? It Just. Doesn't. Work. Double bogey.

Don 12:03 PM  

Im betting God's Little Acre put Rex in his happy place and he overlooked the MANY little achers the rest of us saw.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

"The best Tuesday puzzle in history." Found it tricky fun, with bits of memories thrown in with the answers. No more picking on Tuesday puzzles.

rainforest 1:48 PM  

I loved this puzzle. The theme was unique and captivating, and the fill was just fine. Sure, for a Tuesday offering this was somewhat more challenging than your usual Tuesday, but that is good for many solvers.

The use of FOR ----- SAKE might have bothered some, but I thought it too was unique.

Good one!

leftcoaster 3:27 PM  

FOR____SAKE definitely nails it down before and after PETE'S and HEAVEN'S, and no question that GOD'S and CHRIST'S sakes are in common use too. So speak the language that suits you, but be aware of the sensibilities of others around you. That would be my sage advice for the day.

Apart from the theme, was stopped once again by the HARDG-type clue/answer, but it finally popped into my head. EDNA (Dame of fame?) came in with it, as did the E in CYTE.

Enjoyable puzzle with a bit of sass.

Waxy in Montreal 4:42 PM  

May JOIST be me but have to get it off my CHEST: if all Tuesday puzzles were as crunchy (PBJ?) as this one, life would be so much more HEAVENly. Even contained a quasi-wordladder: OLE, ONE, ONO, ENO (with honourable mentions to candidates BOG, NGO, HOE and BRO). And ANA to constructor Jacob Stulberg for having enough respect for NYT X-word solvers to include THEDA Bara, CYTE and COSET.

OLÉ, for ____'s sake!

Burma Shave 9:43 PM  


FOR PETE'S SAKE they're MAD at the pandemic,
WIE should JEER and JAPE at those two HOEs,
FOR with a mask, the SEAHAG's PHOTOGENIC.


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