2002 basketball movie starring Lil Bow Wow / WED 8-5-20 / Major oenotourism destination / Believer in Five Thieves / Big draw for Icelandic tourism

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Constructor: Michael Paleos

Relative difficulty: Medium (Easy except for the west, which, yeesh)

THEME: EVERYTHING BAGEL (39A: Breakfast order suggested by the answers to the starred clues) — answers to starred clues either begin or end with an ingredient in the seasoning for said bagel:

Theme answers:
  • POPPY FIELD (17A: *Wicked Witch's trap for Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz")
  • OPEN SESAME (10D: *Storybook password)
  • VERUCA SALT (29D: *Bratty girl in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory")
  • ONION DOMES (60A: *Colorful architectural features of Moscow's St. Basil Cathedral)
Word of the Day: GANYMEDE (42A: Largest moon in the solar system) —
Ganymede /ˈɡænɪmd/, a satellite of Jupiter (Jupiter III), is the largest and most massive of the Solar System's moons. The ninth-largest object in the Solar System, it is the largest without a substantial atmosphere. It has a diameter of 5,268 km (3,273 mi), making it 26% larger than the planet Mercury by volume, although it is only 45% as massive. Possessing a metallic core, it has the lowest moment of inertia factor of any solid body in the Solar System and is the only moon known to have a magnetic field. Outward from Jupiter, it is the seventh satellite and the third of the Galilean moons, the first group of objects discovered orbiting another planet. Ganymede orbits Jupiter in roughly seven days and is in a 1:2:4 orbital resonance with the moons Europa and Io, respectively. [...] In Greek mythologyGanymede /ˈɡænɪmd/ or Ganymedes /ɡænɪˈmdz/ (Ancient Greek: Γανυμήδης Ganymēdēs) is a divine hero whose homeland was TroyHomer describes Ganymede as the most beautiful of mortals, and in one version of the myth, Zeus falls in love with his beauty and abducts him in the form of an eagle to serve as cup-bearer in Olympus. (wikipedia)
• • •

Getting kind of tired of seeing men's names in the by-lines. Been almost two weeks since we've seen a solo woman constructor. Still can't believe that the inequity is this bad, this late in the game. Oh, hey, in totally unrelated news, did you see the Time article about the editor of the USA Today crossword, a certain Mr. (checks notes) Erik Agard? It's worth reading (and the USA Today crossword is now very much worth doing).  But on to this puzzle, which ... Shrug, I guess, is my main feeling. Those are definitely things that can be on an EVERYTHING BAGEL, though the seasoning mixture is in no way standardized or uniform, and seems very frequently to include garlic, so ... I dunno. I think you are supposed to be impressed that two of the themers actually cross the revealer. That's one of those "feats of construction" that just don't matter that much to me. Cool if you can pull it off, but if the core concept isn't great, then I just don't care how many themers you cram in there or whether they cross or not. So this theme is fine—some of the theme answers are nice in their own right—but not particularly innovative or clever.

Fill is decent if uninspired, until you get to the west, where it is inspired ... but not by any force of good. It's always a bad sign when my printed-out / marked-up puzzle has all the green ink in one section of the grid (green pen is what I use to highlight trouble spots). EKE BY is awful in its quaintness and MY GOSH is equally quaint but much more frustratingly vague (lots of stuff could've gone after the initial "MY";  I first had "MY OH MY") (36D: "Goodness me!"). "LIKE MIKE" is a minor movie from 18 years ago, and since it stars the former Lil' Bow Wow (now just Bow Wow, I think), I wanna say ... woof! And yet when I looked the movie up just now the cast list was kind of amazing—Fred Armisen, Crispin Glover, Jimmy Kimmel, Eugene Levy (!), Vanessa Williams, Robert Forster (!!), and, best of all, the legendary Anne Meara (!!!). I didn't like seeing the title while solving, but now I'm starting to come around on it. One answer I will never come around on, however, is PREV (26A: <<< button: Abbr.). Let's start with the fact that PREV under any circumstances, with any clue, is a horrible abbr. Now throw in the fact that three (3) (???) left-facing arrows is not a thing. When I googled "prev button" and did an image search, there were lots of single arrows, some double arrows, and precisely no triple arrows. Also, I've never seen a PREV button in my life. Unless you count this — |< —that is, vertical line followed by left arrow, which I think of as "go back to the PREVious track or PREVious chapter in your Blu-Ray or DVD." Constructors used to just cop to the fact that they were using a bad abbr. for "Before," but the last two clues have tried to work this remote button angle, and it's terrible. A garbage answer in an already half-garbagey section of the grid. Again, I say, woof.

  • 6D: Portuguese king (REI) — botched this one (REY)
  • 12D: Leader of Kappa Lambda Mu? (IOTA) — "Leader" here = letter of Greek alphabet that precedes the sequence in the clue (that is, Kappa Lambda Mu is not, not my knowledge, a sorority)
  • 43A: Tickle Me Elmo toymaker (TYCO) — me: "it's TYCO ... wait, that's the astronomer ... no, wait, that TYCHO Brahe ..."; also me: "They still make ... this toy??"
  • 19A: This, in Spanish (ESTO) — absolutely my least favorite commonly accepted crossword answers are the one where the language being clued has gender but since ours doesn't, there's no way to tell which letter to put in the final slot. OTR-? EST-? Blargh. Not Spanish's fault. Just one of those ambiguous moments that always makes me sigh and makes my shoulders collapse a little in sadness while I'm solving. See also AM-M, which today I guessed very much wrong (4D: Switch on a clock radio). Nobody likes your little "radio" misdirection!!!!
  • 62A: Pop sensation (IDOL) — hey, there's this great site dedicated to vintage paperback books called "Pop Sensation"; dude hasn't updated it in nearly a year but I hear he might be starting up again soon ... 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Tim 12:26 AM  

Long time Rex reader, first time commenter. My friend Morgan (also a Rex reader) is a crossword fiend and just launched a crossword blog where he reviews every NYT and New Yorker puzzle (and some WSJ and LATimes puzzles as well). Hope you check it out!


jae 12:55 AM  

Medium. No idea about VERUCA SALT so I spend a fair number of nanoseconds checking the crosses. Pretty smooth with a fun theme, although Jeff points out that Andrea did the same theme a decade ago. Liked it.

mathgent 1:06 AM  

SALT seems not to fit as a feature of an EVERYTHINGBAGEL. All bagels have salt. Unless the EVERYTHINGBAGEL has big grains studded on its outside.

The article Rex keyed about Eric Agard and his editing of the USA Today crossword says that 70% of the constructors he publishes are women compared to something like 23% for the NYT. What do you suppose Agard’s point is? Presuming that the quality of the USA Today puzzle is significantly below that of the NYT.

ONIONDOMES is new to me but it’s a great way to describe those cupolas on the Orthodox cathedrals.

I Naticked on PREV/VERDUCASALT. No other comments have been posted yet but I’ll bet I’m not alone.

Only six Terrible Threes. Bravo, Michael Paleos!

GHarris 1:23 AM  

Had this one easy over for breakfast though I ‘m strictly a sesame guy. Btw Nancy, I responded to your last post late last night.

Hank Seldom 1:35 AM  

EKE BY, WENT BY, bye-bye.

Ben 2:16 AM  

"ESTO -absolutely my least favorite commonly accepted crossword answers are the one where the language being clued has gender but since ours doesn't, there's no way to tell which letter to put in the final slot. OTR-? EST-? Blargh"

Oh no! you have to look at the cross clue?? In a crossword puzzle???

Frantic Sloth 2:22 AM  

I found this much easier than yesterday's. Cute theme even though it was grokked early on - probably by the second themer, which then ended up revealing the revealer.
Isn't that backwards?
Who cares?
Clever clueing, fun fill, tight theme - what's not to like? Here's where I usually go off on a dislike rampage, but not today, Satan!

Waaaaay more likes:

CLOWNCAR (a fave)
IGNORANCE (inexplicable, particular fondness for this one)

Than dislikes:

PREV (lame clue, lamer answer)
NESS (see above)
VERUCASALT (ok this on is on me because book. I have no idea where the first name ends and the surname begins or if the entire word is one or the other. No matter - the crosses did it for me.)
YES (especially as clued. What are we - 4?? Could there be a "How one spells 'cat'," with the answer CAT in our future?? Okay - blatant hyperbole, but geeez.)

Overall, suitably enjoyable for me - a fun little puppy that just dug its way under the Tuesdee backyard fence.


chefwen 2:55 AM  

Other than VERUCASALT ??? Had no difficulties with this one, had to check after I was done to make sure that was/she was a thing. Surprised I guessed right.

Loved the clue for CLOWN CAR and I love EVERYTHING BAGELS. two thumbs up for this one.

Ben 3:32 AM  

@mathgent I personally dislike them passionately, but there are indeed "salt bagels" whose outsides are peppered with large crystals of salt, and many everything bagels also include them.

Ann Howell 3:37 AM  

Thought the theme was cute - was particularly pleased to be able to fill in the long revealer straight away without any crosses. Like many, flubbed VERUCA SALT (was sure her surname was PLUM). And also had CODEC instead of RELIC at 63a, which slowed things down a bit. CLOWNCAR was worth a chuckle, or at least a half smile. Pretty solid for a Wednesday!

Joaquin 3:42 AM  

Yes, @mathgent (1:06), the EVERYTHINGBAGEL does have big grains of salt studded on its outside.

mbr 3:48 AM  

@Ben: I've always thought that a better way to clue words like esto & otra would be something like : "this, to Pablo" or "other, to Juanita".

Lewis 6:25 AM  

My third favorite part of this puzzle was its oral nature, with answers that use speaking (ORATE, PLED, ASKS, OPINED), and answers that are or can be spoken (OPEN SESAME, MY GOSH, POOH).

My second favorite part was vibrant images that five of the answers elicited: POPPY FIELD, CLOWN CAR, EVERYTHING BAGEL, ONION DOMES, and ROME.

My favorite part was the playful cluing for ENAMEL, ORATE, LAVA, OBIT, NEIGH, and CLOWN CAR.

Thank you for starting my day with this charming goody-bag, Michael!

Hungry Mother 6:51 AM  

Super fast, super easy, alternating downs with acrosses until it was done. DEBUG brought back many unpleasant memories. One summer I flew from the Boston area to Chicago to beta test a program for speeding up a line printer that I had toiled over for a couple of months. During the testing, printer paper started to spew out of the printer. A bug in the operating system, where a warning was issued in the form of an error caused the problem and my embarrassment.

ChuckD 6:58 AM  

Tight theme + ok fill = a pleasant and quick solve for me. Although a native New Yorker I don’t eat bagels - but buy them for my family every Sunday morning and can attest that our shop puts salt on their everything’s. I think Rex tends to reach for any criticism on days when he is pushing his gender narrative. I have to hand it to him for catching himself with LIKE MIKE - very popular movie with my kids when it came out so that was easy for me as was the majority of this puzzle. I would have clued POPPY FIELD with Flanders in lieu of that movie. Liked the GANYMEDE/NANO and the AHORA/ASAP crosses. Agree with Rex on that center west block - I thought you “eke out” a win for example not EKE BY and didn’t like WENT BY with it anyway.

Saw VERUCA SALT open for The Pixies and Sonic Youth in early 90s. Not a fan but they did have a little run of success there.

kitshef 7:18 AM  

Four very strong themers, a perfect revealer, little junk, only four three-letter answers. Excellent puzzle. Agree that the clue (and answer) for PREV suck.

Knew the Dahl character, but this is my VERUCA SALT of choice.

SouthsideJohnny 7:26 AM  

I had hoped to finish this one without assistance but got Naticked by the PPP - GANYMaDE and SEGaL seemed equally plausible so all I could do was chuck a Hail Mary. Never heard of VERUCASALT or the old movie, so that section was a slog as well. The good news is that the “actual” crossword clues and answers are coming easier for me - however, I’m just not up on trivia and popular culture so I frequently find myself fighting from behind the curve.

BZZZ 7:33 AM  

SB not a spoiler alert

A frequent answer in the xword (though not today) is possible in the SB but isn't on the list.

amyyanni 7:35 AM  

Thanks for the Oz page, Rex. That's special. Open Sesame! Just wanted to 'say' that. Cheery Wednesday solve. Deb ran a still from Mr. Ed (probably for the NEIGH answer so I am happy. (NYTxword Blog) Loved that show as a kid. Off to climb the hump!

J.M. Bergoglio 7:38 AM  

Maybe it's just me (probably is just me), but the "foreign" in 55D indicted to me that the answer would be ROMA, not ROME. Otherwise, why not just clue it "city that surrounds a country?" Or, if Wednesday cluing demands a bit more help to the solver, why not "international" or "European" rather than "foreign." Foreign signals "otherness" - as well as being closely linked in our minds with the phrase "foreign language."

But, yes, it's probably just me.

GILL I. 8:04 AM  

I suppose only Dahl could come up with a name like VERUCA. The name is very close to the Spanish "verruga" which means wart.
I read 1A and wanted the deep-sea catch to be the bends. We get a little bit of ahi instead.
The puzzle was of the lemony squeezy easy cool beans category. It didn't have the three-ers all over the place and the cluing was cute in a CLOWN CAR way. Why do children fear clowns? I can't remember how old I was when my parents first took me to Ringling Bros. in Havana. I remember what I wore, though. It was some frilly "Sunday best" dress. Dad got us front row tickets and two things scared the frills off of me. The elephants pooping in front and Emmett Kelly looking like he lost his favorite puppy.
@mathgent....I too thought "wait a minute...all BAGELS have salt in them" but then I remembered some of them have sea salt on top. I'm not restricted by SALT but I can imagine those following a low-sodium diet opting for the herbaceous variety.
Interesting article about Erik Agard and his USA Today crosswords. I always knew he was different than main stream constructors and now I know for sure. Anybody who puts mustard on an Oreo cookie is definitely off the beaten path.

Unknown 8:08 AM  

Why enamel for canine coat?

Drill Sergeant 8:21 AM  

@Unknown (8:08 am) Canines=teeth. Enamel covers teeth.

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

A “canine” is a kind of tooth.

Wi-Fi 8:27 AM  

Canine tooth.

pmdm 8:38 AM  

Do I care about sexist discrimination? Yes. Do I care about the sex of a constructor of a crossword? How silly that seems to me.

Do I think that any part of a crossword that I struggle with is bad? I'm not that egotistical. Of course, I do complain when I slam into a wealth of obscure PPP.

Did I like this puzzle. Definitely yes. But I did like ACME's puzzle with the same theme better. Jeff Chen posted a link to it on XWordInfo.

Am I looking forward to picking up all the branches that fell down yesterday? No way. Hope all of you in the NE stayed safe and were spared the wrath of the strom.

Ernonymous 8:46 AM  

But it could be "esta" to Pablo, it's the gender of the noun not the gender of the person it belongs to.

RooMonster 8:50 AM  

Hey All !
Add me to the musical VERUCA SALT group rather than the book/movie group.

As many don't like to hear it, should've swapped this one for YesterPuz.

A Rare Two-Across/Two-Down themer placement puz. This type grid used to be fairly common. With a 15 Letter Across Revealer.

Decent fill. The two "BY"s kinda grated a bit.

Overall a nice WedsPuz, makes we want to grab a BAGEL! Cinnamon Raisin my fave. Toasted. With either butter or plain cream cheese.

Missed five, should've gotten two more. Oh well, happy I did as good as I did do. Do be do be do.

Recycling day today, gotta get my stuff out. ENDS.

Three F's
SMASHHIT looks like a curse.

Smith 8:51 AM  


With 2Rs it also means wart in English. I'm sure Roald Dahl did that intentionally, as the character was horrible.

Oh, POOH, still haven't changed my avatar.

Easy puzzle. Getting better at solving on phone since nyt still hasn't fixed pdf issue. Wish it would not jump to next clue it thinks I want because it never is...

Ernonymous 8:55 AM  

I'm surprised how many people didn't know VERUCA SALT. That's always interesting when you find something easy and a lot of solvers struggle with it. Yesterday I was made to feel dumb for not knowing Theda Bara.
I love EVERYTHING Bagels, I eat one every day. I recently failed a drug screening. They said I was on Codeine and Morphine. I was very baffled so I did some googling. The poppy seeds on the bagel give this result if they use the shitty cheap pee test. I had blood drawn again last week, so I avoided the bagels the week before (it was torture) and I passed. I always thought that was an urban legend from a Seinfeld episode but it's true. The poppy seed stays in your body for up to 60 hours.

lukiegrifpa 8:56 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy 9:05 AM  

Well, I guess you can learn stuff even from a puerile puzzle filled with utter drivel like LIL BOW WOW and VERUCASALT crossing LIKE MIKE and the Tickle Me Elmo toymaker. Ugh. So completely juvenile and mindless. But I did find out some not completely drivel-ly things I didn't know:

The TUNA is a deep-sea fish. For all I knew, it was caught close to shore by fly fishermen.

Since I don't read or watch Mafia books and movies, I'd often heard the term "made man" without having any idea what it meant. But now I find out after all this time that it means "inducted".

Those striking architectural features on St. Basil's are called ONION DOMES. Who knew? Very cute. Was it Muscovites who gave it the nickname or did we?

The Wicked Witch may have been setting a trap for Dorothy but she almost killed The Cowardly Lion. I was much too young for that movie when I saw it and that was the scene that gave me nightmares. To this day, I've never watched it again -- though I've seen clips of Judy singing "Rainbow" hundreds of times.

By far my least favorite puzzle of the week -- which up to today has been a pretty good week.

webwinger 9:18 AM  

Sweet (or maybe better, savory) puzzle! Played easy for me. I thought the theme was excellent in both concept and execution; would have liked seeing garlic included, but you can’t always have EVERYTHING. Fill was fine; 20A and 21A were standouts.

If you know your medicalese, you know VERUCA (spelled with a double R) means wart, which for me made 29D barely able to pass the breakfast test, though mainlyt because of the breakfast-specific theme. (It was a perfect name for the repulsive Dahl book character.)

bauskern 9:29 AM  

@ Tim, 12:26
http://crossboss.blog/ does not apparently exist. I went to look for it since Rex's rants about male constructors have gotten way too old. Just like my tedious comments about how he refuses to reveal his finish times on those so-called easy puzzles that are actually not as easy as he thinks they should be.
[ @Z No need to comment; just skip my posts! :) ]

re: the puzzle: a themer that spans the grid; and the fill was pretty clean. I'd say this puz had "everything" ! While I wasn't a fan of the TYCO VERUCA cross, I don't expect every puz to be perfect.

Andrew 9:52 AM  

DNF because I made the same mistake. The ol’ proper name crossing another proper name. Blech!

Smith 9:57 AM  


Easily found crossboss blog...?

Todd 9:59 AM  

I truly wonder what percentage of puzzle solvers actually start out checking whether a man or a women created the puzzle. And then are angry when it's a man.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

It's unseemly for a native Californian now living in Binghamton to speak authoritatively on anything bagel. Let alone about an everything bagel.
Though your preference for everything yonic ( see your first sentence today) may trick you into thinking you actually know what you're talking about. Don't be fooled. Garlic is sine qua non for an everything bagel

Banya 10:18 AM  

I actually really liked this one. I figured out the theme easily from POPPYFIELD. I thought the themers were all great. And it was easier than Monday/Tuesday's. It felt like a Monday to me.

Unknown 10:19 AM  

I thought for sure Rex would harpoon "eke BY" and "went BY", crossword 101 "no-no" as I understand it. I guess there were more glaring issues. . .

Mike 10:20 AM  

I liked a lot of these clues and fills. Surprised so many of you didn't know VERUCASALT.

Maybe I just watched "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Wizard of Oz" so many times as a kid, both of those clues felt for me.

I remember watching "Like Mike" as a kid as well. Don't really remember much about it, and probably the only thing in the Lil Bow Wow filmography I could name.

Also I was an Astronomer, but still I learned that GANYMEDE is the largest moon. For some reason I thought it was Titan, Europa, Io, or others.

PREV didn't make sense to me. The clue looked much more like "Rewind" so I was confused before filling everything else around it in.

jberg 10:20 AM  

I’m embarrassed. I didn’t recognize the 5 Thieves as a Sikh thing—I took “believe in” as worship, and who would that? Well, maybe those shady Star Wars folks I parsed the cross S “LIKE ‘MITE,” as in dynamite. Sigh.

In the language of oaths, goodness and GOSH are both euphemisms for God, whose name you shouldn’t take in vain, so it’s not all that random.

I don’t think ORATE and OPINE should both be allowed in the same puzzle.

Whatsername 10:24 AM  

Easyish with a few little snags here and there. I wanted an EVERYTHING omelet instead of the bagel which I dislike intensely. Give me a nice fresh sesame one, toasted, with some Panera honey walnut cream cheese. Yum. That little section with PREV and VERA crossing was a stinker made worse because I had DEBUTS for DEBUGS at 41A, was guessing at TYCO, and knew nada about either movie. Nice clues for ORATE and ENAMEL.

I could not care less whether the constructor’s name is Michael or Michelle and I don’t get the continual fixation on that “issue.” It was an enjoyable solve with the right amount of mid-week challenge and that’s what matters to me.

@Todd (9:59) I wonder as well. I actually make it a point to never look at the name until I’m finished. And even then, the only time it really matters much is if it happens to be a debut or if it’s @Nancy or @Lewis or someone who is a regular on this blog.

sara 10:32 AM  

SB -- not a spoiler...
I am NOT GOOD at the SB but i love it, and the saving grace for me is a site I haven't heard mentioned here: spelling bee solver, william shunn (google it). he specifies how many words with each initial... then how many words of each length... then if you want it you can scroll a little further and see a chart, e.g. for the A's, how many of each length etc.
I struggle till I'm stuck, then consult the chart... which really helps me find More, and even QB a couple of times. It's cheating but I accept humbly my need. For the crosswords I used to use crossword dictionaries, the big dictionary, atlas, Bible and almanac (never the internet)..but over the years all those have fallen away and i can solve all week without them. Maybe the SB too some day??? But in the meantime it is a blessing.
I never could find the other SB sites you guys mentioned. Also want to say, my achievement on SB really varies from day to day .. a string of "Genius" and then a day where I can't get past "Great" even with the chart...
Love the posts about yesterday's SBs..

Z 10:36 AM  

Theme okay. Fill mostly okay. Decent Wednesday. I’d say “only similar” to the ACME puzzle from August 29, 2011. Anyway, liked it more than Rex, although I agree about PREV.

The new blog is a .blog, not a .com. I made the same initial error.

@mathgent 1:06 - Why would you presume that? Under the old editor it was definitely lower quality. I’d say that right now it is consistently as good or better than the NYTX. My only issue with it is that it stops somewhere around Wednesday/Thursday difficulty. Oh, and it’s interface. I hate that interface. If the NYT had any sort of future looking sense they would convince Shortz to retire throw a huge celebration of his contributions, and hire Agard.

@kitshef - You beat me to it.

@bauskern - Gee Whiz, you’re no fun.

@SouthsideJohnny - Decades of reading science fiction gave me GANYMEDE which was good because SEG-L was going to be a coin flip. Proper nouns crossing at a vowel is definitely sub-optimal.

MY GOSH, no complaints about MY GOSH? It’s as bad as yesterday’s puzzle swearing.

@Everyone sick of Rex complaining about the NYTX being sexist - You know what would stop that? If the NYTX stopped being sexist. It’s not the complaining that’s the problem.

Paul & Kathy 10:39 AM  

The thing about having a theme answer cross the revealer is that it made the revealer obvious to me. OPENSESAME was one of my first answers, and then when I saw that A where it was, BAGEL filled itself in, and then there were just enough squares left over for EVERYTHING. Really helped with the other four themers.

Z 10:41 AM  

Why we never see a Gorski byline anymore.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

The big shake out in Crossword land is a tempest in a teapot at best,and more likely an illusion. Gorski's claims regarding the crossword world being roiled and seeing big changes haven' aged well in the four months since she published her petty tantrum.

egsforbreakfast 10:50 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
rjkennedy98 10:56 AM  

Surprised this was a medium for Rex because this was easy for me and much easier than yesterday's puzzle. I had almost no resistance, except for a few misspellings that were easily fixed by the crosses. Maybe I'm getting decent at these things!

Perhaps my ease is because the puzzle is juvenile as one poster commented, but at least I felt most of the fill is relevant, and it didn't include a movie that made less than 4 million dollars and came out 40 years ago.

Anyways, a few of the answers in the puzzle really had my imagination. VERUCA SALT had me singing the Oompa Loompa song. POPPY FIELD had me signing Follow the Yellow Brick Road. Onion Domes had me looking at beautiful Russian architecture. They really do look like onions!

Lastly, enjoyed the link the link that Rex Parker posted about Erik. I'm generally extremely distrustful of people that tell me how great their motives are - especially people that tell me they are doing it for my own good. That being said, I've always enjoyed Erik's puzzles and one of these days I may take a peak at the USA Today (its been a while since I've done any).

superboom 10:58 AM  

The reed is not an 'accessory' of a saxophone. It's an essential part of a functioning instrument. Just sayin...

DanGolder 11:04 AM  

Usually everything Bagels do have big grains of salt as part of the seasoning mix

sinjinerd 11:11 AM  

It seems there's little crossover between crossword people and Borderlands gamers. There's a very popular assault weapon in the game called the Veruc:

From that page:"The name and flavor text are a reference to Veruca Salt, one of the children from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Veruca has a line in the movie adaptation similar to the flavor text where she says "Daddy, I want a squirrel". Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was written by Roald Dahl, who shares his surname with the Veruc's manufacturer. The name and class of the weapon, (Veruc assault rifle), is also a homonymic pun.

egsforbreakfast 11:13 AM  

I was initially certain that 55D had to be ROMa, due to the “foreign” cluing. Maybe it was just to avoid the obvious confusion with the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone surrounded by Seattle.

I can barely get out each month on what i make, but somehow I EKEBY. Someone might want to broom up on his idiomatic English.

Cute puzzle, but easier than yesterday’s.

Ernonymous 11:14 AM  


5 across and 3 across: words that should sound alike but don't? I got the answers but I don't get it. Thank you.

ChuckD 11:15 AM  

@ Nancy - I’m with you. I probably saw that movie when I was 6 or 8 years old - hated everything about it and haven’t watched it again in 50 years. I grumble and snicker at those who tell me what a classic it is.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

any coder who waits for Beta to DEBUG the application will be fired. Beta is about finding out whether the application does what the spec said it would and what the user expected it to do, not whether it's chock full of coding errors.

Beta is about spec and use errors.

Nancy 11:20 AM  

I had missed your post late yesterday, @GHarris. Thanks for alerting me to it. I should remember to always check the previous day's late comments, but being me, I usually forget to.

Joe Dipinto 11:20 AM  

A better way to clue ESTO vs. ESTA:

1. Spanish pronoun that becomes a green sauce if you add the letter that alphabetically follows the last letter in the answer to the beginning of the answer;


2. Spanish pronoun that becomes a Portuguese or Italian holiday if you add the letter that alphabetically follows the first letter in the answer to the beginning of the answer.

Obviously, answer #1 *has* to be (P)ESTO, whereas answer #2 *has* to be (F)ESTA. I'm shocked —shocked!— that Will Shortz hasn't come up with this.

Masked and Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Ironically, the U's BAGEL-ed yesterday, but not today. Liked this puz's theme, even tho I'm not a big bagelin fan.

@Frantic Sloth has already covered my fave fillins list.
@Lewis has already covered my fave clues.
@mathgent has already correctly counted the six 3-letter entries.
My work here is darn near done. Real good job, U three clever commentors.

staff weeject pick: REI. One-time Portuguese King Rei Gully. Kinda obscure, but always good to mis-learn somethin new, right?

Eazy-E overall solvequest, other than for that little nanosecond gully in the PREV/LIKEMIKE/VERUCASALT area. Didn't know that there stuff, at our house.

Thanx for everything, Mr. Paleos. thUmbsUp job.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Swagomatic 11:39 AM  

I liked it more than Rex did. It played easier than yesterday's for me.

JD 11:40 AM  

Super easy and sussable. Having kids who watched kid movies in the '90s helped. Pulled Veruca Salt from the very depths of memory. Jordan was THE MAN to my son and his school friends back then. The story of a kid who found his shoes and got super powers would've been their version of the Wizard of Oz. Good for L'il Bow Wow.

Realized that I've confounded Onion Domes with Minarets my entire adult life. Glad to be disabused. Salt bagels are good in the summer with cream cheese and a garden tomato, little fresh dill, but you have to brush off the salt rocks. Still plenty enough sodium to raise your blood pressure, yum!

Tim 11:46 AM  

Try pasting http://crossboss.blog/ into your browser. It should work!

jb129 11:48 AM  

Easy & enjoyable.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Chuck D,
Wait. You saw a work of art when you were at the oldest eight years old and you had the maturity, insight and sophistication to judge it correctly? Wow!!! you musta been some kind of kid. Grumble at whoever you want, but I'm guessing 8-year old Chuck didn't know his arse from his elbow. And if you're grumbling about it today, neither does grown up chuck.

mbr 11:53 AM  

@Giovanni: If you were commenting on my comment, then yes, I am well aware of the fact that the gender belongs only to the object of "otro". My suggestion was just for cluing purposes, to help us solvers decide which gender to apply to an unknown object.

egsforbreakfast 12:06 PM  

@Joe DiPinto 11:20. A snappier version of tour suggestion:

A green sauce with no P in it. ESTO

No F in Italian holiday. ESTA

They work better orally than visually.

old timer 12:10 PM  

The puzzle was Unacceptable. Oh, TYCO is guessable, no problem there. But VERUCA I never heard of, nor PREV, so a Weds. DNF. With a name like VERUCA, it is fair to expect that the crosses will be obvious, not dead wrong like PREV.

I have no problem with men outnumbering women constructors, since men vastly outnumber women in submissions. But haven't you noticed that those women who do often get published make far better puzzles, as a rule? The most delightful week for this solver was that week when all the constructors were female.

I don't like EVERYTHING bagels. But I do like onion and POPPYseed. And plain -- but finding really great plain bagels outside New York are hard to find. Our local bagelry made great ones for a while, then closed, then re-opened and somehow lost their bagelmojo. A few decades ago, there was a bagel heaven in San Francisco's Richmond District. First-rate plain (and onion) bagels, across the street from a deli that sold real lox, and if you didn't need the lox, you could get the same handmade cream cheese at either establishment. The bagels there still exist, though the deli, if it still exists is no longer amazing.

albatross shell 12:10 PM  

No criticism, just curiosity. Why should OPINE AND ORATE not be allowed in the same puzzle. Meanings too similar? The O start too much? Mini-themes (ORATE OPINE ASKS PLED) distasteful? I don't mind duplicate clues either. Maybe you do? Anyway, what is the general principle or aesthetic behind this jugement?

Anyway I thought this was not quite as hard as yesterday, and a lot more fun. PREV was complete yuck as clued. Has anyone seen a triple < on any remote by any company on any remote, app, or game? Another curiosity qestion. Maybe in writing code?
But even so the PRE_ was good enough to get me the V. Another Natick: I thought the A was much more likely in SEGaL, but thought the E was correct in GANYMEDE.

Thought I was being clever when I looked at 5D with all blanks to not put in OFF LIMITS right off because top secret also fit.

Unusual but excellent symmetrical pairing award (Except for the plural):

DOMES of another color?

Carola 12:22 PM  

Nice one! I thought the masquerading of the BAGEL seasonings in a field of flowers, a magic word, an architectural feature, and a name was enchanting, and I admired the balance of 2 first-half and 2 second-half ingredients in the phases. POPPY and SESAME led me directly to the reveal with just the A cross; ONION DOMES also went right in, but I had to wait for VERUCA SALT to emerge from the memory crevice storing data about movies I was persuaded to take the kids to. Extra treats: GANYMEDE and CLOWN CAR. Area of IGNORANCE: LIKE MIKE. Dopey do-over: AM/fM.

Speaking of kids, now decades beyond Willy Wonka and TYCO years, they've both started making BAGELS at home...and torment me by texting me photos. Time to see if our neighborhood bagel shop is offering curbside pickup.

OffTheGrid 12:45 PM  


***Mini spoiler alert***


An eye rhyme, also called a visual rhyme or a sight rhyme, is a rhyme in which two words are spelled similarly but pronounced differently.

Joe Dipinto 12:53 PM  

@egs – Yes, I see. Or rather hear. I like those, but I think they are too concise for WS, whose credo seems to be "Never use a clue that's 5 words long when you can use one that's 29 words long."

Ernonymous 12:55 PM  

@mbr but that still doesn't make any sense. Why would "this: to Pablo" make it male? Pablo's "this" could be female. Unless I don't understand what you mean.

jberg 1:12 PM  

@albatross shell--I wasn't entirely serious, but my case, were I to make one, is that they both are words rarely used in conversation or writing -- even though they have been around since the late 16th century. Orator/ oration and opinion are much more common; and then they both start with O! Sometimes constructors have to resort to that sort of thing, but less is better (note that @Lewis thought the opposite, however!)

I love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, along with the sequels -- but I always have trouble remembering character names. Right now, as a test, I tried to come up with the leading characters in Gone with the Wind and got Rhett Butler, Melanie something, and whoever Vivienne Leigh played. So I needed all the crosses for Veruca.

In 1979 the International Political Science Association held its triennial world congress is Moscow, so I went. The highlight of the trip was going to be seeing St. Basil's with its ONION DOMES. Unfortunately, they were covered in scaffolding and tarps as they were being prepared for the Moscow Olympics the next summer. A big disappointment (still a great trip), but it did fix the architectural term in my mind.

Aside from basic fairness, not to mention complying with the laws against sex discrimination, I would guess Erik Agard is publishing more women constructors because he want to make his puzzles better than those in the NY Times. I think someone has already linked that recent profile of him, so I won't repeat it.

Teedmn 1:20 PM  

Like @jberg, I decided the SItH, those dark force users, were believers in the Five Thieves. I also stared for the longest time at 26D __ED, my last entry, because _REV and _IKEMItE provided no help in the least. PLED finally dropped and LIKEMItE was obviously LIKE MIKE so I was saved from a DNF.

29D went in off of just __RU_A____. I adored the original Willy Wonka movie (never read the book) and VERUCA SALT was a gimme, especially since I knew of the band which took the name (hi @Roo).

I circled the clues for 5A and 21A as clever.

OPEN SESAME, I remember reading the phrase in my "Ali Baba" stories and having no idea how to say it. And I didn't understand what was meant when he couldn't remember the phrase and was panicking, "I know it is some sort of grain" because I'd never heard of a sesame seed. Instead, brought up on cartoons, I remembered Popeye saying, "Open sez me". When I was old enough to sort all of this out, I found it very clever.

Michael Paleos, nice job, thanks.

ChuckD 1:27 PM  

@ Anon (11:52a) - work of art har! But I wholeheartedly agree - you know the color makes it so special and the fact that it’s been the most widely syndicated film from that era mindlessly available and overplayed to all the sophisticates who don’t know any better. So great.

mbr 1:38 PM  

@ Giovanni: All I am trying to say is that using a feminine name for the clue for "otra" or "esta" could simply be a hint for the person doing the crossword, not that it is grammatically correct. It's no different than a clue for an international city where that clue has a foreign word ("city in Italia" when the answer would be Roma and not Rome). After all, using Pablo for "otra" leaves you with a choice that has a 50% chance of being wrong, unless you've already figured out the word that crosses that answer. Sorry if my thinking is still not clear.

Ernonymous 1:42 PM  

@old timer I read that the ratio of male to female submissions is much greater than the ratio of male to female published puzzles at the NYT.

JC66 1:49 PM  


****MINI ALERT****

Just to clarify, it's 5A & 3D.

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

Chuck D,
The fact that is widely and frequently screened is a non starter, after all, you said flatly that you haven't seen the movie in 50 years. More important, the color you so blithely dismiss is the result of one of cinema's greatest technical achievements: Technicolor. that's not a film type or a color, it's a process. And the Technicolor DF-24 beam Splitter was revolutionary. and so was the production of The Wizard of Oz. You clearly know little about film, cameras, or production techniques. But the rest of the world was gobs smacked, and rightly so, by what the producers put on the screen. It was a herculean achievement. Hell, the lighting for the technicolor set up exceeded a million dollars. In 1939. But by all means, piss all over the color.
Also, I don't you know what syndication means either. Other than those two or three points yours is a spectacular argument.

oldactor 2:36 PM  

@Nancy: I clearly remember seeing Wizard of Oz the year it came out (1939) I was 6 or 7 and I went with my big sister. When the flying monkeys took off, I was on the filthy floor under my seat. It's still a horrifying moment when they disembowel the dear Scarecrow. That being said, I have the DVD and have watched it many times. The moment that it transitions from black and white to Technicolor is one of the greatest moments in film history, especially at that time when we weren't used to COLOR!

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

the thing about Technicolor, circa 1939. It was the second or third version, dating back to the 19teen teens which were 2 color in various incarnations. There was nothing innovative about beam splitting, the physics of beam splitting goes back, at least, to Newton. Technicolor existed for the same reason Kodachrome did: stable, in-emulsion dyes, didn't yet exist. The requirement of beam splitting existed just because the camera had to expose three b/w emulsions, suitably filtered. The reason it cost so much to light Technicolor movies is because the light loss through the filters, and the splitting, required ridiculous amounts of light. Technicolor sets routinely got over 100 degrees F.

further, what makes Technicolor prints valuable is the same that made some, but not all, Kodachrome prints valuable: dye-transfer printing. in-emulsion dye film doesn't require that, although it can be done. since both Technicolor and Kodachrome process film contains no dyes, dye transfer was the best option to print. such dyes can be very long-term stable; there are Kodachrome slides from the early 1950s that haven't shifted. in-emulsion dye film stock might last a few years without breakdown.

DigitalDan 2:49 PM  

Argh! Agree about <<<, never seen it.
Two answers ending in "BY".
Many clocks have AM/FM button or switch.
Few if any have AM/PM buttons or switches. Usually PM times follow AM times while one is setting hours. Very sloppy and cost me many minutes; somehow I missed being concerned about POPFYFIELDS, as one would.

E 2:53 PM  

Any fisher(wo)men in here that can comment on the accuracy of 1A? To my knowledge, tuna are caught with purse seines and pelagic long lines, so while they may dive deep occasionally, I wouldn't say they're ever caught in deeper waters.

Joe Dipinto 2:56 PM  

"Wizard Of Oz" musing: I always thought Miss Gulch's first name was Elvira (Aunt Em addresses her by her first name when she comes to take Toto away). I only found out fairly recently that Aunt Em is actually saying "Almira". Her name is Almira Gulch, not Elvira Gulch.


It really is a brilliant film, imo. It did scare me as a kid, and watching it years later I can still see why. But there's so much great stuff in it.

Anonymous 3:21 PM  


All true. But precisely because of the cost what MGM did with wizard was miraculous.
As for the klieg lights, right again. some of the cast and crew on the set claimed to have suffered permanent vision damage from the intensity of the light. But you're not telling the whole story about cost. Three strip film added to the cost ( and trouble) of the earlier processes.

Ernonymous 3:26 PM  

Thank you. I never heard this expression.

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

Anybody been checking in on Sweden these days? You know everybody's favorite whipping boy for not shutting everything down and destroying its economy in the face of a virus? Check out Newsweek--its news not opinion Z.

Unknown 3:45 PM  

Thought this was a really easy Wednesday. Yesterday’s took me longer. Luckily Veruca filled in.

Photomatte 3:51 PM  

4-Down could've been clued a little better (switch on a clock radio). I've owned many clock radios and have never, ever, seen an AM/PM switch. They've all started at 12:00 AM and I had to run through 14 hours if I wanted to set it for 2 PM, for example. Plenty of AM/FM switches, zero AM/PM switches...

Crimson Devil 4:15 PM  

Re: tuna. Yes, Yellow fin and Black fin, excellent eating both, are caught in deep waters. Dunno about Blue fin, never caught them, but I would think same of them.

JD 4:24 PM  

@sinjinerd, Veruca Assault Rifle. Genius!

@M&A, Ya know mister, yer a hOOt!

RooMonster 4:32 PM  

Not puz related, but very important. Mods please don't erase.

***For anyone on Unemployment***
Here in Nevada, they give you a Debit Card that all your funds go to. No paper checks. If you're on Unemployment and your state has it on a Debit Card, go right now and check your balance. My card got hacked. There are two charges from the UK of $100 each, and one from Bogota for $20. I didn't make either one. So I've taken all my money out of the card in cash. Just happened this past week.

RooMonster Check That Card Now Guy

Pamela 4:36 PM  

@E- I had a friend who fished for TUNA off of Montauk, on the east end of LI. He had a commercial boat and his crew was a mix of friends and pro fishermen. Although he was a respected artist and the fishing was mainly for fun, they sold most of the catch. I knew they went to the Canyon, but checked with Google to get the facts straight:

‘The Montauk tuna fishing season begins in July. Tuna fish are the dream catch of deep sea sport fishing with the chance to catch Giant Blue Fin Tuna that can run up to 1,000lbs off Montauk. Montauk deep sea charter fishing usually takes place about 25 to 35 miles from Montauk Point. Most times, however, a Canyon run about 60 miles offshore is necessary to find these fish.’

So you don’t find TUNA unless you’re out where the water is deep, but you don’t have to be in the water yourself.

I mostly liked the puzzle today. The mid-west was the biggest battle. VERUCASALT was a big learning experience. I’ve heard of Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but never saw the movie or read the book, and didn’t know the current pop group either. EKEBY doesn’t sound right, MY____ could have been so many things, wasn’t sure of ASAP because I didn’t know AHORA. Eventually PLED and RIVET worked some magic and all was well.

On the plus side, BAGELs are occasional treats, and I had one just yesterday with my daughter, who was in the city for a small medical procedure and was recuperating for a while with me before going home to NJ. Her favorite source is a stone’s throw from my apartment, so of course we had to stop there. As I was working on the puzzle I could almost still taste mine, SESAME, toasted, with cream cheese and lox. Yummmmm...

****SB ALERT*****

I think I’m losing my SB mojo! I can’t blame the editor, I missed so many normal words yesterday. And today, I’ve run dry, dryer, dryest, at 11 words away from SB. No pangram, no Genius. Ouch!

Frantic Sloth 4:36 PM  

Re: Wizard of Oz nuggets. Everyone know about the birds (can't remember if they're peacocks or flamingoes - guess I could look it up, but that's just too difficult.) in the background when they enter to forest, right?

Frantic Sloth 4:44 PM  

Okay, so I was wrong, but I was also right!

Anonymous 4:47 PM  

Re: Wizard of Oz nuggets. (via @Frantic)

bonus question: who played the Tin Man, but had to quit?

Richardf8 5:06 PM  

Now that’s a mistake that shows familiarity with the source material!

jd 5:06 PM  

No surprise Rex takes the affirmative action approach to choosing constructors. And thanks Tim for the new blog webpage, hoping Morgan isn't in it to campaign for WS's job at NYT. This blog is tedious, predictable and way too far left.

Frantic Sloth 5:14 PM  

@Anon 447pm I believe it was Buddy Ebsen.

tea73 5:19 PM  

Garlic is definitely the best part of an EVERYTHING BAGEL.

I had DEBUt instead of DEBUG and thought it was a cute answer sadly MY tOSH did not compute.

Nancy 6:09 PM  

@oldactor (2:36) (and Chuck D.)-- You could attribute it to my always fuzzy memory, but I think it's much more likely that I've successfully repressed those scenes you mention. Mercifully, I don't remember the flying monkeys and even more mercifully, I don't remember the disemboweling of the Scarecrow. I know the movie creeped me out and gave me nightmares, but the only upsetting scene I actually remember is when the Cowardly Lion was lying comatose in the poppy field. And now, knowing there are other upsetting scenes that I've managed to block out over the course of a lifetime, it makes me even more determined never to see that movie again.

My younger brother never saw The Wizard of Oz as a child. By then they had stopped bringing it back every year. The movie that gave him nightmares was "Snow White" -- the scene where the beautiful woman's hand, holding the apple, changes to a claw as she becomes a witch. The age when you see these things really does matter. That scene gave me the creeps, too, but I was older then and at least it didn't give me nightmares.

Anonymous 6:17 PM  


And the winner is!!! the prize is an EVERYTHING BAGEL.

jaymar 6:29 PM  

I too had debut before debug. Got the Sikh answer but didn’t know about their beliefs

P. Francis 7:22 PM  

@Anonynmous (3:39PM)

Are you not aware that EVERY post on here is opinion, and that many of them, upon review, are then judged to be incorrect?

The self-evident exception to this, of course, are Z's posts - which are infallible.

Joe Dipinto 7:40 PM  

Re: Buddy Ebsen in "The Wizard Of Oz" – ironically, he was first cast as the Scarecrow and Ray Bolger as the Tin Man, but supposedly Bolger really wanted to be the Scarecrow, and so talked Ebsen into switching roles (presumably the studio was okay with this). Then Ebsen had an adverse reaction to the Tin Man's make-up, so he ended up not being in the film at all, though his voice remains on the soundtrack in spots. There are some stills of him in make-up as the Tin Man.

Also, Gale Sondergaard was originally going to play a glamorous Wicked Witch, until the studio decided the character should look more traditionally repulsive, upon which Gale said "no thanks" and Margaret Hamilton got the gig.

JC66 7:56 PM  

@Joe D

Thanks for the inside info.

Xcentric 8:49 PM  


TAB2TAB 9:59 PM  

Really surprised to find this puzzle where nearly everything was in my wheelhouse. Much easier to me than yesterday's or Monday's, and about a 1/4th my average Wed time. This helps make up for all the times that it seems everyone knows the third largest river in India but me.

Z 10:16 PM  

@P. Francis - Well, it helps that I know how to check on alleged facts.

Greg 5:50 AM  

Finished this in a Monday-esque time. As others have previously OPINEd, I like Wednesday to have at least a little bite.

Unknown 10:42 AM  

enough with the wimmen constrictors. Robyn had one recently an it failed!

rondo 10:30 AM  

As @superboom notes above: a REED is not a sax ‘accessory’; it’s a necessity. No playing without it. A strap could be an accessory. Bad clue there. SALT seems a bit generic for an EVERYTHINGBAGEL. Isn’t there SALT in all of ‘em? ADELE’s got the pipes; yeah baby. Constructor gender not relevant; quotas don’t work. Not great, didn’t MIND it.

thefogman 10:37 AM  

DNF. Had SEGaL/GANY/MeDE and VERUcASALT/TYcO. I thought it was easy until I discovered my errors....

spacecraft 10:54 AM  

Almost exactly the same result as OFC's. I too forgot the forgettable movie, but the title at least is a familiar phrase tied to, IMHO, the GOAT of ballers. This was also the site of my only writeover: SItH instead of SIKH. My IGNORANCE is revealed. Always try Star Wars stuff, if Star Trek doesn't work.

I wouldn't call this a SMASHHIT, but it serves adequately for our Wednesday. DOD is POPPY Montgomery. Par.

rainforest 1:45 PM  

I'm one of the few who do not like bagels. I do like the stuff you can put on them, and that is the one reason that they become edible in my opinion. Nevertheless, an M&A cinnamon roll is vastly superior. QED.

The puzzle was OK with only the middle western section offering resistance, though that was quite a lot. Maybe some TV remotes use <<< to mean PREV, but I wouldn't know. My remote just says PREV as it should.

Decent theme, decent fill, decent Wednesday.

leftcoaster 3:21 PM  

Only one answer to note here: VERUCA SALT. The V and C were the last letters in. All the rest was easy by comparison. Good to finish cleanly, but wonder if it was worth the effort in that one instance.

Diana, LIW 3:52 PM  

A one letter oops. Ha on me! And I finally finished yesterday's puzzle this morning. So much for speed.

And yes, I did get VERUCASALT, but not because I knew the answer.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 3:23 AM  


ASKS EWE not to inhibit,
but she PLED IGNORANCE, and nothing ELSE


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