Wild Asian equines / SUN 8-30-20 / Soleus muscle locale / Pitch Perfect a cappella group / Pop singer known for wearing face-covering wigs / Magical resource in Magic the Gathering

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Constructor: Olivia Mitra Framke

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (9:45)

THEME: "All Aflutter" — a puzzle about the BUTTERFLY EFFECT (81A: Subject of this puzzle, as suggested visually by its central black squares), which is apparently a concept in CHAOS THEORY (24A: Mathematical field that includes the 81-Across); the grid includes a "definition" of the concept (ONE SMALL THING / CAN MAKE ALL THE / DIFFERENCE / IN THE WORLD) (3D: Start of a definition of the 81-Across) and then for some reason you have to add the letter "N" (?) to a "shaded square" (not depicted, but visible in the paper and on the app), which turns TOR and ADO into TORNADO (62A: A.L. East team ... or, using the shaded square, what a little movement by this puzzle's subject might cause), which I guess illustrates the idea of a "small change" making... "all the difference in the world???" I don't know. Black squares near the middle of the grid also kinda depict a butterfly 

Word of the Day: MANA (????) (35A: Magical resource in Magic: The Gathering) —

Magic or mana is an attribute assigned to characters within a role-playing or video game that indicates their power to use special magical abilities or "spells". Magic is usually measured in magic points or mana points, shortened as MP. Different abilities will use up different amounts of MP.[1] When the MP of a character reaches zero, the character will not be able to use special abilities until some of their MP is recovered.

Much like health, magic might be displayed as a numeric value, such as "50/100". Here, the first number indicates the current amount of MP a character has whereas the second number indicates the character's maximum MP. In video games, magic can also be displayed visually, such as with a gauge that empties itself as a character uses their abilities. [...] 

"Mana" is a word that comes from Polynesian languages meaning something along the lines of "supernatural power". The concept of mana was introduced in Europe by missionary Robert Henry Codrington in 1891 and was popularized by Mircea Eliade in the 1950s. It was first introduced as a magical fuel used to cast spells in the 1969 short story, "Not Long Before the End", by Larry Niven, which is part of and later popularized by his The Magic Goes Away setting. It has since become a common staple in both role-playing and video games.
• • •

That "definition" is such an awful clichΓ©. And it's not even a "definition," it's a dumb saying. If you were truly dealing CHAOS THEORY, my guess is you'd provide a proper definition, but instead we get this mushy pop mumbo jumbo, "ONE SMALL THING / CAN MAKE ALL THE / DIFFERENCE / IN THE WORLD"; like, if someone said that to me, I'd slowly or possibly quickly just find somewhere else to be. Also the whole butterfly flapping its wings and causing a TOR(N)ADO ... somewhere, anywhere, is another bit of nonsense. Again, I believe that there is a thing in CHAOS THEORY called the BUTTERFLY EFFECT, but the pop understanding of it flaunted here is just garbage. Weirdly, I think I first understood the BUTTERFLY effect as an effect through *time*, not *weather*, i.e. I thought it was the idea that if you went back in time and killed a single butterfly (why you would do that, I don't know, you cruel bastard) then the "effects" across large amounts of time could be world-alteringly significant. But sure, no, butterfly flaps cause tor(n)ados, that works too. Seriously, the wording on the "definition" is the Main Thing making me not like this puzzle at all. I kept thinking it was going to be something specific or at least snappy, but ... no. Also, why ... what is the rationale for entering the letter "N," specifically, in that "shaded square" (between TOR and ADO)? "Using the shaded square"?? Does "using" mean "putting an 'N' in there for some reason." I hate stuff like this because I feel like "ugh do I have to read every clue again to see if *somewhere* the 'N' rationale is explained!?" But I don't think it is. Just ... arbitrary. Put an 'N' in there. TOR(N)ADO. Whoopee.

Theme is so elaborate (by which I mean space-consuming) that there's not much room for interesting longer fill, though I did enjoy COCOAPUFFS. Baffled by BELLAS and MANA. I feel like I used to see ONAGER(S) a lot but since I haven't in a while, I totally blanked on the name (28D: Wild Asian equines). Had the "O" and wanted only OKAPIS, obviously wrong. Had a lot of trouble with the short Acrosses in the west, where SCHISM had a vague clue (60A: Split), "I'M IN" felt like it really wanted to be "C'MON!" (66A: "Let's do this!"), "CAN DO!" was really really not how I was hearing "You got it!" (72A), and ANNOY seemed just as good as ANGER for 77A: Tick off. I don't seem to have any significant trouble otherwise. I like this puzzle's thematic ambition, but like lots of puzzles that try to do grid artwork *and* have thematic content *and* have some weird (here, extra-square) trick, it felt shaky. Showy, but not precise or elegant. But again, the thing that really turned me off the whole enterprise was the whole "definition"—a forced, trite, made-up, for-symmetry's-sake expression that isn't even a specific quotation. I so badly wanted it to be an actual thing that in the beginning I was mad that ONE SMALL wasn't followed by STEP FOR MAN etc.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:00 AM  

Well, that was fun!  If @Rex calls this a male-centric puzzle because of all its mathiness, I’m gonna spit. Besides, there’s a pwetty wittle buttewfwy fow the wady-types.

Furthermore, I’m begging the universe to stifle his “math guys” terminology so we can (hopefully) styptic the boiled blood of those who are more arithmegifted than the rest of us schlubs. 

Yes, I just made “styptic” a verb because who’s gonna stop me?  You?  Ha!

Frankly, I always thought CHAOSTHEORY had more to do with astrophysics or the cosmos or something kinda other-sciency than mathematics.

So, guess I was wrong. Isn’t that not interesting?

Nit: I really could have done without the GECKO’s eye-licking trick and the ensuing cringeworthy and nauseating visuals.  Couldn’t the clue just have been about car insurance or something?

At least I didn’t fall for that stupid “7/” trick again.  Large wonder.

Yet another little morsel of entertainment was the sudden appearance of the white “N” in the center black square upon completion of the puzzle. Unfortunately for me, and my troglodyte-y ways, I totally missed “the happening” of it - didn’t even notice it until way after the fact. Boo.

If it’s all right with you, I’m just gonna pronounce it HECk ATE.

Fun factoid:  TWOACT and “boring” have the same amount of letters.

Congrats to @okanaganer for a near-appearance! Annearance?

Clever cluing, cute gimmick, solid theme, very little – if any – dreck, and grid art that was IDIOTPROOF (reaching back for that one) because even I could see it!





Harryp 12:04 AM  

Got all the white squares filled in correctly, and got the happy tone along with the filled in black square N! DNF? OK.

EdFromHackensack 12:07 AM  


Unknown 12:09 AM  

I don't see any butterfly, but maybe if a tornado hit the puzzle it would change to a better picture of one. I just can't see it yet.

jae 12:11 AM  

Medium. I have mixed feelings about this one. I like the ambitious idea but quote/dubious definition puzzles are not my favorites. Plus, I got hung up in a couple of places...entry before DIARY, oneACT before TWO and BESPOKE was a WOE given the clue. I agree with some of @Rex points, but In the end the theme/grid trumped the drawbacks, liked it.

Jeff gave it POW.

daveyhead 12:12 AM  

15 Across: WORD aptly contained in “price control” answer is ECON. Is ECON a word? Webster says no, I think. Am I wrong?

I liked the puzzle otherwise.

Z 12:42 AM  

It’s a quote puzzle. I may have mentioned before that quote puzzles are somewhere below sudoku on my list of favorite crossword puzzle types. Ugh. And MANA crossing ONAGERS at a vowel is about as naticky as a constructor can get. Two strikes and I wasn’t even out of the NW corner yet.

“Remains here?” Huh? Another clue which makes me think I might have to sleep on it.

I have some pretty strong negative opinions around the entire misapprehension about the BUTTERFLY EFFECT. Strike three. I suspect others will like this puzzle, because as quote puzzles go, this is pretty good. But that’s sort of like saying that for losing seasons, Tigers 2019 wasn’t as bad as Tigers 2003 (most losses in AL history) or Lions 2008 (0-16). If you liked it that’s good, but most definitely not my cuppa.

JayPeeEss 12:45 AM  

I finished in a record time on a Sunday. 17 minutes.... a little under *half* my average Sun time. About my Average Friday time and well ahead of a Saturday.
Too much easy short old crosswordese fill to make the definition segments fit. I never saw the clue setting up TORNADO. Looks nice, but I was not a fan.

JD 12:48 AM  

This was the kind of Sunday I can stick with, giant sussfest. Letters here and there, dab, dab, dab, bang. But it took about forever. Good clean fun. Liked it.

BTW, In the Ray Bradbury story A Sound of Thunder, a tour company takes hunters back to the Cretaceous period to bag a T Rex that's going to die anyway. But a hunter falls off the roped-off path and steps on a butterfly. When they get back to the present a Communist has won the presidency. That's the memory from back in the day to my current Crusty era.

So there's that to think about.

Elizabeth Sandifer 1:01 AM  

The invocation of the butterfly effect is pretty ham-fisted and ghastly, yes. The actual concept does come from chaos theory, and extends from an incident in which meteorologist and mathematician Edward Lorenz attempted to re-run a weather simulation on a computer by typing in data from a printout. The printoff rounded off the data slightly, using three decimal places where the internal calculations used six, and the resulting simulation was wildly different than the one Lorenz was trying to re-run. The difference between the numbers was so small that, as one of Lorenz’s friends put it, it could have been caused by a seagull, although the more poetic butterfly eventually took hold as the dominant explanation.

So it’s a real thing, and the idea of a small shift revealing a TORNADO is clever. The problem is that the definition completely fails to capture what’s actually going on by phrasing the butterfly effect as inspirational glurge instead of as a weird and slightly spooky effect. The result is two parts of the puzzle-CHAOS THEORY and the (poorly executed) TORNADO are pointing in one direction while the quote points in another.

Meanwhile, a grid with lots of ugly tight corners and desperate fill. A few answers made me smile - STREAMERS felt fresh. But mostly this was a puzzle that was heavily constrained by its own bad idea.

Anonymous 1:13 AM  

I really enjoyed parts of today's theme, mostly because it felt gratifying to start off by entering four themers, whereas I usually struggle with Sundays. I liked the grid art. I was falsely under the impression that the flap of a butterfly's wing was canonically said to influence a *hurricane*, not that this caused any difficulty since "hurricane" didn't fit but "tor _ ado" did.

W and NW were my pain points because I got hung up on trying to get the plural "the small things" to fit somehow. Fully agree on the specifics Rex mentions there. I ended up having to look up MUSICMAN and then JESSICA to fix all the mistakes I had.

I was a little disappointed that even for a puzzle with a science-adjacent theme it was still spattered with plenty of singers, actors, and sports teams I hadn't heard of.

(The butterfly effect was originally said in reference to weather; the Earth's atmosphere is chaotic on a time scale of a few weeks or so, i.e., it takes that long for the tiniest perturbation to amplify to the scale of the whole Earth.)


Pamela 1:14 AM  

Not fun for me.

Anonymous 1:17 AM  

Butterfly effect: a very small change in initial conditions creates a significantly different outcome. Rex, I think Olivia's lay definition works just fine! Also, the flapping of a butterfly's wings affecting a tornado is the classic metaphor for this phenomenon. And I totally dig the grid butterfly!

km3t 1:19 AM  

Did we really need ELVES, ORCS and ENTS in the same puzzle? And if we have this many fantasy creatures did we really need more crosswordese fantasy stuff in HECATE and EROS? And then ORTS (because ORCS wasnt enough) and ONHER and ONAGERS and EARPS plural? Ye gads.

I do enjoy a good themer and the butterfly is nice but I'd say when the fill suffers this much it's time to go back to the drawing board. The only things missing from making this a crosswordese party were ERA and JAI ALAI.

N 1:21 AM  

The mathematical concept of chaos is very cool (and a deep personal fascination) so I'd encourage you all to look it up. I studied this a bit in college, but you can find all the information I'm about to dump on you on Wikipedia.

It (and specifically, "butterfly effect") refers to a system (anything: a swinging pendulum, species of animals that prey on one another, a circuit, growth and decay of languages) for which an immeasurably small difference in initial conditions eventually leads to very different outcomes. Even though the system is not random, it is impossible to predict because even the smallest initial difference will "blow up."

Think about a basic pendulum: if you let it go from one point, then again from a slightly higher point, the motions won't be very different until they eventually come to rest. Now imagine attaching another pendulum to the bottom of that one. If you let it go from one point, then again from a slightly higher point, you will start to get two completely different motions over time. The second system is chaotic. The weather is another chaotic system: a difference in temperature, or humidity, or another factor that we can't measure will lead to large differences over time.

The definition in the puzzle does technically make some sense, but I agree that it is trite. For a crossword, though, whatever. I'm more annoyed that seemingly 80% of the time there are concepts from Eastern cultures, we get some alternate spelling that I guess can be correct but makes it clear the constructor just had to grab whatever the hell they could find to make the puzzle work. HADJ, SAREE, and others that don't immediately come to mind. Just a gripe of mine. Liked it otherwise!

Anonymous 1:43 AM  

Whoa, JD explained Rex's association!

Agree that ECON is not a word. Also, apparently ORU is Oral Roberts University. Was I the only one who saw Tulsa and was sure it had to be OSU, for Oklahoma State U?

Ellen S 1:47 AM  

@JD, 12:48, is that what we needed to do to get Bernie Sanders nominated so he could get elected? Dang. So, if I could travel back to the Cretaceous and step on a butterfly (Sorry @Rex, but it’s for the greater good), I’d come back to find two geriatric New Yorkers duking it out for the presidency? Hm. Can’t get away from the geriatric white guys though. Reminds me of the time my ancient Dalmatian got in a fight with an even more ancient pit bull. I thought, good grief, the one who doesn’t have a heart attack will be the winner. (They both had sense enough to quit before anybody had a heart attack, and no blood was shed, possibly thanks to lack of teeth.)

So, I liked this puzzle a whole lot more than @Rex did, but that’s kind of a low bar. But my main complaint wasn’t about Ms. Framke misrepresenting the Butterfly Effect, about which I am not qualified to quibble (Jeff Chen liked it a bunch, and he’s several different kinds of science guy, unlike OFL). But ODIE, the comics dog who walks on two feet. Um. I don’t think so. I’m embarrassed to admit to reading two of the dumbest strips to grace our nation’s newspapers, but ODIE is the dog in Garfield, isn’t he? And he is a four footed animal. Doesn’t even talk, really, just pants and drools. I believe it’s OTTO who stands upright, in Beetle Bailey, Sarge’s dog, wears a little uiniform.

Anonymous 2:02 AM  

I wasn't too excited about the theme, but I really enjoyed the nods to popular nerd culture and more recent pop culture in general- it made the puzzle feel younger and fresher to me. Seeing MANA, BELLAS, GOTTA (catch em all), ENDOR, the PCGAMES nod the the Sims, etc was a nice change of pace from my usual struggle trying to guess at the names of athletes and coaches of yore & tv characters from the 70's

astrotrav 2:07 AM  

When I read Rex I'm often reminded of my "British Masters" class from college. I took it in my last year, out of a need to finish my common curriculum requirements. One day the professor read a poem by Keats or Wordsworth about his garden. At the end of the poem I look up and her face is streaming with tears. She blurts out, "If you weren't moved by that poem you must be a >physicist<." That's when I was 100% sure I chose the right major.

Rex's disdain for STEM (science, math, etc.) is rarely hidden. I'm expected to know every random poet or writer from the last 400 years, but when it comes to one of the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century he can't be bothered to even go look at the Wikipedia page. Which, BTW, points out that Edward Lorenz (one of the pioneers of chaos theory) gave a talk in 1972 titled "Does the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?" So there's your TORNADO. Chaos theory is really fascinating, so it's worth taking the time to learn about.

TTrimble 2:38 AM  

@Frantic Sloth
I didn't see you yesterday; glad you're here. You make me giggle. I wike de buttahfwy too.

Actually, I do agree with Rex that "definition" is pretty inept. Just pick a diffewent word. The "butterlfy effect: it's a metaphor. As for the truth or falsity of the metaphor: look, mathematical modeling is a tricky business. For the moment, let's just agree that positively *ascribing* a hurricane or TOR[ ]ADO to a BUTTERFLY would be silly, but that "sensitive dependence on initial conditions" (which gets closer to an actual definition) is a real thing in chaos theory -- which is to say, in terms of the weather model, that the assertion that a butterfly's motion might have large effects if sufficiently extrapolated to the future can't be ruled out. (As pure mathematics goes, all this can be made super-precise.)

Getting back to @Frantic Sloth: I think I unconsciously think the same thing every time I see the the Canadian commenter's name: ONAGER, a wild ass. (Kidding. I was glad to drink from some of his wisdom yesterday, on Chinook words.)

Just the other day I had to explain the meaning of "nonce", as in "nonce expression", to someone who had only certain British associations in mind. And after he understood, he wrote back, "oh, like BESPOKE. Gotcha!" I had no idea what he was talking about. I do now. The meaning of the word has changed rather dramatically over time. (Weird thing is, the guy's from New Jersey. But I think he's rapidly becoming Britishized.)

I wasn't crazy about the puzzle. When the puzzle promised mathematics, I thought "goody goody gumdrops! I'm going to romp all over this!" When that was clearly not to be, I got a little sour. My solve time wasn't great. But hey -- that's me.

---[SB Alert]---
-->> spoilers from yesterday <<--

Well, I was proud in the end to announce my ascension to the throne (and thanks to @Barbara S. and @JC66 for encouragement). My last word was YENTE. I simply did not know that, as a synonym of YENTA which I do know. (Is there a sex difference? I didn't see Wikipedia telling me so.)

All that said, I have some nits to pick. The word I got before YENTE was NETTY. Hmmm. Okay, both were guesses. YENTE -- not being familiar with that is on me. But NETTY? In the first place, if you type that into Google, you get a whole bunch of hits that are very technical, e.g., "an asynchronous event-driven network application framework. for rapid development of maintainable high performance protocol servers & clients". Something apparently proprietary. If you Google "netty definition", what comes up is "(Tyneside) An outhouse: an outbuilding used as a lavatory."

Tyneside, eh? Ezersky: are you f***ing kidding me.

Okay, as my "royal" prerogative, I'm going to vent my spleen some more. Whatever happened to "yean"? Yes, YEAN: that was acceptable on July 4, 2020. And so it's no longer acceptable? You just, on some whim, make old words that were acceptable now unacceptable? And words that were unacceptable now suddenly acceptable? (As I pointed out elsewhere recently.) How are we poor schlubs supposed to learn?

I cry foul. A word that was acceptable once should henceforth be acceptable. Have some consistency, for heaven's sake.

Charles Flaster 2:53 AM  

Do not see the butterfly.

cseft 3:29 AM  

Actually, the original conceptual example of “The Butterfly Effect” was the influence of a butterfly’s wings on the formation and path of a tornado:


(Although I didn’t realize that the flap of the wings occurred weeks before the formation of the tornado). So the framework that the puzzle was constructed on was much more coherent than Rex gave the constructor credit for and, I think, she should therefore be given much more credit (although I agree, the definition was pretty weak).

Anonymous 3:40 AM  

Finished this, but spent far too long after I was done trying to figure out the torNado connection. Finally, I gave up and Googled it ... and there it was in the definition of butterfly effect, tied to chaos theory ... the notion that one small thing, like a butterfly flapping its wings, could cause something major like a typhoon (or tornado). It’s all spelled out in the grid. This was one of those themers that left me feeling like a moron: Solving it was a breeze, but it took a tornado to make me understand it. Just like my old high school math classes ...

Ann Howell 4:01 AM  

It was a bit quick for a Sunday (I like to linger over at least two cups of coffee) - the only thing that slowed me down was having TUXEDO at 87D ("Black suit") for way too long... The theme was a bit 'meh'.

Anonymous 4:04 AM  

Not sure how, but BUTTERFLY EFFECT ended up Tse tse fly insect, and pfft, there went my attempt at the puzzle. Well, it fit ...

jae 4:06 AM  

@JD - Thanks for conjuring up a Bradbury story I read over 60 years ago. Spooky!

Joe Dipinto 4:09 AM  

Mana Mana, doo doo da-doo doo.

Anonymous 5:20 AM  

My on call theoretical physicist (my wife) says the butterfly effect has been disproven at the quantum particle level.

Conrad 5:47 AM  

To all the MANA haters: Would you have preferred if Olivia had replaced it with an instantly recognizable entry like MAGA?

Colin 6:07 AM  

This one took me a while. (It didn't help that I was watching Law & Order at the same time, instead of sitting at the dining room table, which is my usual habit.) I got stuck on ONAGERS, and had TORONTO instead of TORNADO for the AL East team forever. This, even though I saw the butterfly in the grid from the start.

Is it just me, or is there something clever about including ORCS, ORTS, and ORR; SERA, SORTA, and SRTA? I agree that ODIE can be both bipedal and quadrupedal, and so may not be the best answer here.

Still, I enjoyed this as I do all the NYT Sundays. OFL's kvetching will give him an ULCER.
I've started doing Adrian Powell's puzzles on Vox, and find those very difficult. Simply lots of trivia. But I'll keep trying.

JD 6:08 AM  

@Frantic, TWOACT and “boring” have the same amount of letters. Oh welcome back!

@Elizabeth Sandifier, I'll never forget this, "heavily constrained by its own bad idea."

@Ellen S, More hilarity! In all my years of reading Beetle Bailey, he's never been deployed.

(@jae, Almost 50 years for me but casually didn't admit it :)

Lewis 6:17 AM  

I saw the butterfly right away, and after reading the reveal and CHAOS THEORY clues I knew that the puzzle was about the wing-flapping-changing-the-world concept I’ve heard about seemingly all my life. And I’ve got to tell you, coming up with a puzzle about THAT took chutzpah.

And here Olivia pulled it off, IMO, not just as a puzzle to solve that plays around with words, but one that, for me, had an afterglow. It left me sitting and quietly thinking about that butterfly flapping its wings and the idea that one small thing can make all the difference in the world, and it brought me to a mellow place that I didn’t want to leave.

I don’t ever remember a puzzle doing that before, and Ms. Framke, I don’t think I’ll ever think of your name again without the qualifier “talented”.

sf27shirley 6:34 AM  

Terrific Sunday puzzle. Challenging and clever. Thanks Olivia.

mmorgan 6:42 AM  

I like NYT puzzles. Almost always, no matter what Rex says. Every now and then comes one I really don’t like. But rarely. This was one of them.

ChuckD 7:48 AM  

I’m in the @Z group with quote puzzles - once I see “start of a quote” or similar the solving experience goes downhill - even for an otherwise good puzzle. Saw the butterfly graphic quick - and don’t hate the overall theme but it took a lot of the grid and didn’t leave much room for good stuff. I like the fill in the left wing - SLOT CAR and BEST FRIEND etc but there’s a lot of short glue that is a direct result of the theme.

I appreciate the construction chops here - but not an overly enjoyable solve.

Note that it’s been recently proven that open, quantum systems when modeled do not follow the initial condition theory of the butterfly effect.

Hungry Mother 8:20 AM  

DNFed in an area that I didn’t expect. I put ObIE in for ODIE by accident, but had taken a STAB correctly in the Natick area.

BarbieBarbie 8:20 AM  

Have you ever harked to the jackass wild
Which scientists call the ONAGER?
It sounds like the laugh of an idiot child,
Or a hepcat on a harmonager.

Ogden Nash
I don’t know the date but “hepcat” probably narrows it down. Anyway, having it jumbled into my long-term memory Junk Section was very helpful.

First I was irritated by, then laughed at and loved the audacity of, SRTA and her neighbor SORTA.

This was a great puzzle. For those objecting to the Hallmarkiness of the definition: okay, propose a better one and re-construct this puzzle. Let us all know when you’re done. Or, lighten up and admire this gem. A complicated distributed theme, grid art, and an Easter egg. Wow! I haven’t enjoyed a puzzle this much in a long time. Thanks, thanks, thanks Olivia Framke!!

Spatenau 8:21 AM  

@km3t, actually you can add 102 across (ERA)to your crosswordese party.

pmdm 8:37 AM  

While I don't hate quote puzzles by a long run, they don't turn me on. Except if something exists which ties in with the quote. The grid art today at least for me justifies the quote. And, with a little imagination, the artwork is quite good. In my opinion, but then I can see the butterfly in the grid quite easily.

For different reasons mostly Jeff Chen and Mike Sharp pick on the puzzle. (Even though Jeff awards it a POW.) Somehow, I read his complaints but they never seem sour. Not so here. And any acidity is not necessarily limited to what's in the write-up. It is possible to express distaste succinctly and fairly while allowing for opposing reactions. Z's comments today demonstrate that. Sometimes I get the impression that some comments reflect the attitude of "that's the way I fell and that's that." Thank heavens many of the comments here do make me smile.

On to the very strange Tour de France.

Unknown 8:49 AM  

TOR = Toronto, no Tornado

kaoconno 8:58 AM  

Yeah, I was just going to make a comment about The Sound of Thunder for the butterfly-time travel link.

kitshef 9:15 AM  

Got the chaos theory angle early, but with shaded square I kept thinking that when I finally figured out the twist, it was going to be awesome. Either it is, and I missed it, or it’s just a bad theme.

Okay, went and checked out Wordplay. Nope, I didn’t miss anything. It’s just bad. I’m sure the grid art fan out there will be very happy today.

Barbara S. 9:25 AM  

I remember my 13-year-old self being utterly blown out the door by that Ray Bradbury story. The thought of it still gives me a shiver. It's fascinating that the story came out about 10 years BEFORE Lorenz did the work that gave rise to the theory. I assumed Bradbury wrote it under the influence of Lorenz, but no. However I've seen the Bradbury tale get credit for giving the BUTTERFLY EFFECT its name.

Ah, @Ellen S. (1:47). I loved your take on cartoon dogs. I, too, couldn't remember ever seeing ODIE walk bipedally. But I didn't know about Otto. However -- horrors! -- I made the near-fatal error of mixing up my cartoon *rabbits*. For JESSICA Rabbit (of the film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"), I merrily popped in rEbecCA Rabbit (of the TV series "Peppa Pig" {hi @Gill I.}). Yikes, did that ever mess me up in the central West coast but, as you can see, some of the letters were right, so it took me a while to tumble to my gaffe. [Insert small rabbit noise, if there is such a thing.]

@TTrimble and @jae
Wonderful that you made it to the feast last night. I hope we can all (and more!) do it again soon. (Haven't yet looked at today's SB.)

I completely agree about YEAN. I kept stubbornly entering it, willing it to be accepted (didn't work). I believe NETTY can be an adjective to describe something with a net-like texture, but I, too, saw the Tyneside loo definition and thought ????

kitshef 9:33 AM  

@EllenS 1:47 - I think you are a little behind in your Garfield reading. And I am sure better off for that. Odie has been primarily on two legs since the turn of the century.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

Nope, you're not. Also had OSU

Wi-Fi 9:39 AM  

ERA is there at 102 Across.

pabloinnh 9:48 AM  

Thanks to @JD for bringing up the Bradbury story (in the read it 60+ years ago club), as it is also where I first heard of the butterfly effect and didn't discover until much later the idea of the flapping wing connection to a tornado. First thing I thought of when I finally caught on to the puzzle.

There may be some who dislike quote puzzles, but I am not one of them. Always do the Sunday acrostics, and I have to say that guessing words in the quote were very helpful in getting me through some of the pop culture references today. Never thought "What's he to HECATE" would come in handy, but it did, because it steered me away from FROOTLOOPS and towards COCOAPUFFS, either of which will certainly discolor (and sweeten) the milk in your cereal bowl.

Also think that the TOR(N)ADO problem is a tempest in a teapot, if a tornado may be said to be overblown.

Nice to see JESSICA Rabbit today, as ROGER was in the Saturday Stumper yesterday.

All in all a Sunday with some crunch, at least for me. Thanks for the fun, OMF.

Nancy 10:15 AM  

"Oh, please don't be ECON, oh, please don't be ECON", I said to myself as I read the clue for 15A. Because the definition of ECON is "word aptly found in..." And ECON is not a word!!! No, it isn't!!! It's an abbreviation!!!

In this time of techspeak and textspeak and IMing and all the rest of it, have we truly created a generation that thinks all abbreviations are words? You might infer that this sort of thing bothers me a little, but you'd be wrong. It bothers me a lot!

This is the reason that I don't play Scrabble anymore. Everything's a word now, and permissible. There are no non-words.

This is only the beginning of my displeasure with a puzzle I ended up throwing across the room and not attempting to finish. It's not so much that the constructor is on an entirely different wavelength from me; at times she seemed to be on an entirely different planet. From the Sims...to twitch.tv...to the a capella group...to the Croft of Tomb Raider...to Magic: the Gathering...to the pop singer with the wigs -- this puzzle was chock-full of pop culture references that will be forgotten in five years or maybe in five months or maybe in five minutes. Perhaps the failure of the meeting of our minds is because the constructor describes herself as "an all around gaming nerd" and I'm not an all around gaming nerd. Nor do I want to be.

Teedmn 10:17 AM  

I'm SADDENed that I couldn't see the butterfly in the grid when instructed to look, at 81A. But when I went to xwordinfo.com and saw the smaller version of the grid, it seemed so obvious. Smaller meant denser meant more pattern-like?

I saw the movie, "The Butterfly Effect" way back when, on cable. All I remembered about it was that Ashton Kutcher was in it. I just read the plot premise on Wikipedia and, nothing, no memory of any of it. So...

I like the idea of the butterfly effect, that the flap of a butterfly's wings in China will cause a storm in the US three days later or something like that. Whether this is a mathematically sound concept or not, I have no idea.

I agree with Rex that the central N seemed arbitrary and I pondered its use myself, looking for significance, but perhaps I'm trying too hard to make sense of something that is chaotic?

Olivia, I appreciate your grid artwork and the effort it must have taken to include all that theme acreage. And GECKOs can lick their own eyes! The longer entries in the bottom, THRIVES, AIRFARE (nice clue), REPRISE and TRELLIS, were well-done. And I have to admit I repeated, "I'm cuckoo for COCOA _ums_" more than once, trying to dredge up the PUFFS. Always fun to remember old commercials from back when we all watched the same thing on TV.

RooMonster 10:23 AM  

Hey All !
"Im not bad, I'm just drawn that way" - JESSICA Rabbit. Rowr!

@km3t 1:19
ERA is actually in the puz! Har. But no ONO, OREO, or OTT.

OFL trashed OMF. Screams to the sky for more female constructors, trashes them. What a world. Wants his cake and eat it, too. Trouble with this country, but that's a subject for another blog.

I liked this neat puz. Pretty cool to get a big BUTTERFLY in the middle of a grid. Too bad someone didn't think to colorize the squares. Could've used orange, green, blue, yellow. That'd been fun. Quote puzs don't get me panties in a bunch, like them, as the answer doesn't come automatically. You have to suss it out using other themers. Thought the mystery N to get TORNADO was s bit weird, but after being enlightened by reading y'all, now I think it's great!

Nits (gotta have 'em), lots of threes, 29. I think that's it for my nits! πŸ˜€

Nine F's (of which 5 are in themers, so not too shabby!)

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

Armstrong said one small step for a man.... The debate about whether or not he actually uttered the indefinite article was settled a couple of years ago with an exhaustive analysis,

Anon 9:18 from last night. You might want to check your history books. George Wallace was not part of the right wing bogeymen you seem to fear. He was a bad guy. Worse than Nixon by a country mile, but alas he want a Republican. George Wallace was a Democrat.

Richardf8 10:47 AM  

Oddly enough I do not come to the Sunday puzzle for explanations of chaos theory anymore than I go to Slylock Fox for explanations of quantum mechanics.

That being said, I thought this was a fun puzzle, and this weeks group, as a whole, had some interesting intertextuality. Today’s Mana bounces nicely off of yesterday’s Mahna Mahna. More darkly we had Wednesday’s Usury following up Tuesday’s Pound of Flesh, and other links from day to day I cannot bring to mind right now.

Sixthstone 10:48 AM  

Pretty easy and fun. At least Rex can't call this one an old white male puzzle. Lots of youngster stuff, including fantasy* (orcs, elves, ents, mana), video games (lara croft, pokemon theme, nes console, Sims), and GenZ stuff (streamers, Bellas). Throw in a reefer and some Ben (& Jerrys) for a good time.

* Yes, I'm aware that Tolkien is old, but still teen-friendly and current

Birchbark 10:49 AM  

MANA MANA REPRISE. More gifts from on high.

BUTTERFLY EFFECT has the same number of letters as "Lorenz attractor", a graphic representation of the structures hidden in a disorderly stream of data. It was an early emblem of chaos theorists, or so says my book for the lay reader, "CHAOS," by James Glieck (1987). A Lorenz attractor looks like a graceful, complicated butterfly.

Others have noted that it all began in an effort to understand the weather. I will only add that yesterday was the best day of summer to work outside, last evening the best dusk to walk barefoot around the new-mown yard, just inspecting things. Today seems modeled after it, the DIFFERENCE measured in remote decimals. Graph them if you wish, but please include me pulling nettles out of the meadow as a variable.

Z 10:59 AM  

Bipedal ODIE.
@kitshef - I’m not going to subject myself to more Garfield, but quadrupedal ODIE or bipedal ODIE seem to appear at the creator’s whim or the needs of the joke. I saw a couple QP ODIEs before I got to a BP ODIE.

@anon5:20 and @Chuck D - Yep. BUTTERFLies don’t cause TORNADOs either.

@astrotrav - but the pop understanding of it flaunted here is just garbage. Seems like Rex knows quite a bit about it without needing to look it up.

Sign you might be doing too many puzzles - Popping in ORU without wasting even a single precious nanosecond. OSU is in Stillwater, or Columbus, or Corvallis, depending on the O.

Since I’m just 60, it hasn’t been 60 years since I read the Bradbury. It was probably the late 70’s, so 40-45 years ago.

@pmdm - thanks for the shoutout. I always feel that way, but because I know my distaste for quote puzzles is so strong that I can sound especially absolutist I try to make sure I add the disclaimer.

Why do I hate quote puzzles so much? I’m glad you asked. I accept trivia and PPP as necessary in a crossword, but I always prefer wordplay. A quote puzzle takes the least interesting element of a crossword, trivia, and makes it central to the solve. There’s no wordplay. If you know the quote the puzzle is easy. If not, what you have is a jigsaw puzzle made with letters. Figuring out the quote yields no “aha moment” here. More wordplay, less trivia, please.

Norm 11:07 AM  

What a tedious, boring, stupid puzzle. And I speak as a former math major.

JayPeeEss 11:23 AM  

I struggled with that last night too. This morning, I see the legal suit, not the fabric suit. Still seems wonky, but closer to acceptable.

oliar 11:24 AM  

Here's my tribute/fond wish for 51 across:
The Fall- Elves

When will the good Scotch return?
In all its scarred splendor
When will the price of Scotch come down?

Here's him in nearly '85
Hanging around with pop scum
It's not the business I despise
On this train, extended ride
It's the Scotch end of the market now

And steel glasses
And bad music corpses
Cannot hide the new rock scum
Spitting on what's good and gone
Spitting on what's good and gone
When will the price of Scotch come down?

Arrangement before job done
Alignment before job done
Assignment before song sung
Alignment before job done

All of this fantastic league's against me
The Fantastic is in league against me

Tin-can rattle on the path
The [bestial greed] is on the attack
The cat black runs round the tree

No never, no never no more
will I trust the elves of Dunsimore (repeated)

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

@Nancy - Lara Croft has been around since 1996 (including two feature films). The SIMS has been around since 2000 (with dozens of spin offs. The Bellas since 2012 (three feature films). Your sense of time is way off.

William of Ockham 11:30 AM  


What? 11:40 AM  

The term, closely associated with the work of Edward Lorenz, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a tornado (the exact time of formation, the exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier.
From Wikipedia. I don’t get the criticisms.

Swagomatic 11:43 AM  

I liked the puzzle. I finished in below average time. The theme is just fine. You can't exactly have a nuanced discussion of a complex mathematical concept in a crossword puzzle, now can you?

JD 11:46 AM  

Amending one of the now Six Stages Of Rex that many of us (myself included) experience (Happy to be Here; Questioning; Troll Responding; Bitterness; Acceptance; Covid Shut-in Syndrome). It's possible to jump randomly through the stages and to repeat them.

4. Bitterness. Complaining that, or asking if, anyone knows why Rex doesn’t post completion times; noting that he is depressing and will now be skipped; hating the puzzle and calling for Will Shortz’s head; saying Rex pushes for women constructors and then trashes them or gives women constructors a pass because they're women.

Pamela 11:50 AM  

@N1:21am- What with your explanation and many other comments, I’m finding the blog to be much more interesting and enjoyable than the puzzle. Thank You!

Talking about wheelhouse- Jessica Rabbit has always been in mine, ever since I saw her. I wanted to be her! She was drawn by someone who loved women and wasn’t afraid to show it. One of the few Gimmes for me today.

@BarbieBarbie- Always happy to see Ogden Nash. Thanks!

@Z- I’m with you about wordplay. That’s the main thing I look for in a crossWORD puzzle, not a math or science lesson.


I raced nearly to the finish yesterday, then ran out of steam. CAYENNE was my undoing. Ah, if I’d only hung in a little longer...

Now off to see what today brings.

What? 11:51 AM  

Nothing really to carp about because I finished with just one exception 6D. I thought of four of the five Great Lakes. Half of that is what? I put down OTHER. Never heard of 20A. Aside from that, pretty easy and kind of fun, nothing to get upset about.

paige worthy 11:53 AM  

Just smiling because we re-watched Jurassic Park last night, and I was treated to this today.

johnk 11:54 AM  

Ms. Framke and the editor both need access to a dictionary so they don't make ignorant, unprofessional, errors like calling ECON a "word."

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Also NATICKed at the MAN*/ON*GERS cross. Didn't even bother guessing at the vowel. Overall, however, I didn't mind this one as much as Rex did.

CDilly52 11:59 AM  

Had a great laugh at self over this one! First of all, my vision is currently impaired by a case of iritis, so I have been solving by expanding portions of the grid on my phone. When I saw the clue about the “grid art” (thank you @Frantic) at 81A, all I could make out was a giant capital “I” so I thought ions? Anyway, that sent me down a big OFL’ rabbit hole. Actually more like a gopher hole.

Gophers, for those who live in areas not plagued by the little rascals, tunnel all over your yard (given the opportunity). Occasionally, the hole can be large enough to catch the heel of a shoe or is soft enough that one’s entire foot can sink through causing a fall. And they tunnel in all directions given time.

Anyway, once started looking for scientific things related to atoms and compounds and such, I was toast as to the theme. Had I not gone down the gopher hole, I would have scoffed at the theme “constrained by its own bad idea” as @Elizabeth Sandifer 1:01AM so aptly commented.

My husband, mathematician and musician studied the BUTTERFLY EFFECT, and on more than one occasion, became a bit curmudgeonly over the pop theory as proffered by today’s constructor. I heard a great deal about Lorenz and the theory, and so enjoyed my husband’s fascination with CHAOS THEORY, string theory and all of this complex ideas that in his opinion could be the foundation for truly great science fiction. He eschewed any popular sci-do books or films that lacked solid science as their foundation. This mad me remember so fondly arguments between him and best friend Tim over “good” sci-fi.

Once I figures out that the puzzle was not science-based, it became easier, and overall was just fine for a Sunday morning solve. Thank you to@Elizabeth Sandifer for her excellent explanation.

Z 12:02 PM  

I’m always bemused by people so certain that they know the definition of a word that they don’t bother to look it up before telling somebody else to use a dictionary.

sixtyni yogini 12:16 PM  

Haha I too saw the I before the butterfly and thought I/eye of the storm - tornado.

I also saw the grey square as holding it together and if removed would cause...chaos, collapse, yes, the butterfly πŸ¦‹ effect.

This was an arty, poetic puzzle in that all our interpretations are within the zone of the metaphor. πŸ¦‹❤️πŸ¦‹

Love the idea—brilliant! (but oddly didn’t really get any enjoyable kicks out of doing it. πŸ€” Why, not sure.)

Newboy 12:21 PM  

As is often the case, I enjoyed the blog more than the solve. Good to see the intersection of humanities and stem interests juggling for space in the responses. Not hard to find a nit to pick (OFL does it daily) or a spot of cruciverbal merit ( see @Lewis or @LMS) on any puzzle. Perspective & temperament & SCHISM oh my! Thanks Olivia for today’s nice grid and even more successful discussion prompt.

What? 12:22 PM  

You don’t have to be an all-around gaming nerd to get the pop culture references. You just have to be young.

600 12:42 PM  

Is O. H. M. S. really a thing for On His/Her Majesty's Service? Not Secret Service, not the movie. Where is O. H. M. S. a thing? What am I missing?

chance2travel 12:50 PM  

The theme made this puzzle much easier than average for me, given that I took courses in CHAOS THEORY and Topology as part of my Math degree. At the same time, I kept saying "that's not what it means" and rolling my eyes.

Not happy with ECON being a "word"

Is the clue for RASSLE (scrap, slangily) using the word "scrap" to mean "engage in a minor fight"? RASSLE being a variant of wrestle? I kept thinking I'd missed out on the youths new word for discarding something.

Never heard of a SLOTCAR, kept trying to get the Mattel cars to fit.

I'm glad I recently added the following to my vocab: BESPOKE, ONAGERS, and HECATE

With so much short fill, there's tons of clues I never read because I got all the letters from the crosses.

chance2travel 1:00 PM  

@600 apparently On His/Her Majesty's Service predates the Bond movies. And the movie title added Secret as a play on words. OHMS is used to mark official letters and even obviate the need for paid postage.


Dave S 1:11 PM  

I really enjoyed the puzzle except for the central revealer which left me thinking that there was somehow an alternate answer for 63 across (and thus for all the crosses), so I was left staring into space for ten minutes not wanting to look at the answers in case i'd screwed it up somehow. I can manage to do THAT plenty on my own time.

Had absolutely no problem with the "definition.' Add me to the people who wonder how on earth Rex could talk about the theme without referencing Bradbury's sound of Thunder, sinc ehe seems to dance all around the plot.

AW 1:11 PM  

My DNF started with looking at the middle of the puzzle and seeing an I-bar. After I got 24A CHAOS THEORY I thought, Aha! One thing connects to another. Now I learn that's a butterfly in the middle of the puzzle!? Um, if you say so.

Stupid grid art aside, the contents were way out of my wheelhouse. As others have pointed out, 15A ECON is not a word. Never heard of 78A SIA and his/her/their/its wigs. Don't know the names, never mind the shortened names, never mind the uniform colors of any sports teams (and don't care to). Don't know what a 52D SLOT CAR is, or that the Sims and their ilk are/were 30A PC GAMES since my kids played the Mac version. Lots of cereals color the milk (45D) so that's a fairly useless clue too. After 40-odd minutes I just gave up and used the "reveal word" cheat on the app to finish with this unpleasant slog.

Carola 1:12 PM  

I liked it. I admired the grid layout, the way the definition framed the BUTTERFLY, and the EFFECT crossing the insect itself; and enjoyed filling in the rest. Fun to be reminded of JESSICA Rabbit, The MUSIC MAN, COCO PUFFS, and, believe it or not, ORTS, learned at my dad's knee when he was introducing me to Sunday Times puzzles as one of the words I had to learn.

Looking over the grid again, I also noticed that the crucial N is centered over FLY, which, if you remove it (as you can remove the N from TORNADO leaving TOR and ADO), you get the BUTTER EFFECT - i.e. pandemic-induced weight gain due to increased baking projects.

Help from previous puzzles: SIA, SADE, DEY. Do-over: one-ACT (that'll slow you down).

bocamp 1:14 PM  

Another enjoyable Sunday puz; thank you Olivia Mitra Framke πŸ¦‹

Chaos theory and the butterfly effect notwithstanding, "one small thing" IMO, has a great mental significance, in that every kind, loving thought and action adds to ones own well-being, and by extension, the betterment of the world; it's almost impossible to quantify, but I believe it to be axiomatic.

Have a great day! πŸ¦‹

thefogman 1:23 PM  

Somehow unsatisfying in spite of all its theme content.
PS - Can someone fill me in on the coded language used by Spelling Bee fans?

johnk 1:27 PM  

Did I bemuse Z by suggesting that ECON is not a word without having first looked it up? Try to get away with using it in Scrabble. You might win if you're playing against Will Shortz. (Or perhaps Z is referring to some other comment that has since been deleted.)

600 1:32 PM  

Thank you, @Chance2Travel. Guess I could have looked that up myself . . . I tried Google, but didn't think of Wikipedia. I guess this proves you learn something every day.

You don't have to be young to get the pop-culture references, @What?. I'm 74, and I got most of them. I don't much like it when Rex or anyone else references age--young or old--as a reason not to get certain citations. Aren't we all doing crosswords as a way to exercise our brains, learning new things and new ways of looking at old things?

Masked and Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Not exactly the kinda humor-filled SunPuz that M&A personally prefers. But, but …

* Primo E-w symmetry, with the butterfly puzgridart. I tried takin the center gray "N" out, but still can't quite see the tornado pic. Does turn an "I" into a coupla T's, tho.

* Nice schlock flick subject. Many years ago, my bro-in-law and I watched a primo time travel FriNite schlockfest flick, based on changin the future through time travel. It was based on a 1952 short story by Ray Bradbury. Some klutz goes back in time and steps on a butterfly, which ends up pretty much changin all the earth's animal and plant life back in the present…

* …They even had a picture of a butterfly on the front of the DVD box. M&A coulda sworn that the flick was entitled "The Butterfly Effect". Wrong again, M&A breath. This flick we saw had Ben Kingsley in it, not Ashton Kushner … or Jared Kutcher … or whatevs.

Staff weeject pick: TOR. Themer respect for the little ones. Like.

Thanx for yer superb efforts, Ms. Framke darlin. Congratz on gettin Puz of the Week, over at xwordinfo.chen.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

p.s. After real extensive thrashin thru my ginormous pile of schlock DVD's (lil darlins), I found that there "Butterfly Effect"-based flick of which I BESPOKE [var. def.]. It was called "A Sound of Thunder".

p.p.s.s. M&A has long embraced CHAOS THEORY as the basis for his DVD filin system. Sooo … took m&e a while to come up with the DVD, which delayed my postin. But, I mostly digress.


Speedweeder 1:45 PM  

@Z from 10:36pm yesterday - Regarding Glen Campbell's session work, there's an excellent documentary called The Wrecking Crew that showcases the studio musicians that made all those hits from the 60s and 70s so memorable.

Unknown 1:57 PM  

Rabbit in a red dress made me smile.

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

I know little about chaos theory. I thought it allowed us to speculate on the notion that if a cat had sneezed in Paraguay, in July 1910, there would have been no Hitler. I think this is true. But of course there might have been a smarter Hitler, who would have won the war for Germany.

Chaos theory also, I think, tells me that if I scratch myself inappropriately in a subway, every single person in the 22nd century, if we make it that far, will be owed to my scratch. I will eliminate billions, and other billions will be beholden to me. Now there is an invitation to hubris! Or humility!

Chaos theory should at least let us see the inanity of films where someone time-travels to the past to avert some catastrophe. Within seconds or his or her arrival, he or she will have to disappear.

This “gaming” of fate, and the past, seems to be a preoccupation for many. Decades ago I saw on television something by anti-abortion evangelicals, which had scenes in heaven where Jesus presents boys and girls aborted–all of course are very photogenic and many would have invented cures for cancer, etc., had their earthly life been permitted. The obvious response was that they could have as easily become wicked. But I would have preferred a less obvious response. I would have brought forth my son John, beautiful, charming, and a real gift to the world. Then I would have had a magician come on stage and make John disappear. Why was there no John? Well, on a fateful day, August 3, 1965, in the back seat of my Chevy, Wanda said no.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Barbara S. 2:07 PM  

***SB ALERT***
@thefogman (1:23)
SB = Spelling Bee
QB = Queen Bee
We always start our messages with a warning, so they're easy for non-SBers to skip and to alert SB players about spoilers. Not sure what else you're asking about, since we dropped ROT-13 quite a while ago.

Ferguson 2:08 PM  

Absolutely correct on the dog clue.

GILL I. 2:14 PM  

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I felt it was going to be one of those puzzles that I'd have to figure out using some sort of Einstein theory or regress to my getting a C- in Biology. No...it was the crazy BUTTERFLY EFFECT and its metaphorical silly TORNADO. I'd rather be singing some Glen.
I suppose that little insignificant events can eventually lead to a catastrophe over time. With me, it started with getting a little splinter in my fat thumb and eventually almost needing it to be amputated. Kidding...but it did get mighty infected. If only we could go back in time when Trump was born.....?
When I finished the puzzle - and it took a LOOoooonG time, I did see the grid art. I like grid art. The main entree was the TOR___ADO. I wondered about that. I saw it, it needed something more exciting. Maybe a little Bearnaise. No....all that was missing was the lonely N...
This was ambitious - no doubt. Clever in many ways - too clever for simpleton moi.
@Giovanni from yesterday. If I had 10 thumbs I'd raise them to you. Agreed with your late post.
@Z...Ah, yes. Galveston. That may've been where my sister and I got our 4 used tires and some free Johnny Walker.
@Frantic....Resident humorists are not allowed to skip town. (insert smiley face emoji).....

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

From memory, The Butterfly Effect predates chaos theory by a lot. In fact, one might say that the idea of a Butterfly Effect is what motivated the math folks to create chaos theory. See here: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/butterfly-effect?s=t and click down at "Where does butterfly effect come from?"

Moreover, this is just a RESTATEment (not REPRISE) of an ancient precept in differential equations: small differences in initial conditions may lead to large differences in final results. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initial_condition The reason is that diff EQ is about iterative execution of a known (set of) equation(s), which leads to amplification. This lay notion of butterflies elides the demand for some deterministic iteration. Butterflies don't iterate into low pressure systems. They just don't.

No one in maths has ever taken seriously the notion that as small an initial condition as a butterfly flapping its wings, for however long, could induce a tornado (deterministically) in the future.

Roubini (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nouriel_Roubini) OTOH, has made a career out of spotting weak spots in political economics, which others considered of no or benign importance, that might (and did, in some cases) lead to great damage. He's some times included with Butterfly arguments. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nouriel_Roubini

jberg 2:39 PM  

First of all, this is NOT a quote puzzle. It is not quoting anything, so you do not have to come up with a phrase someone else used --- just come up with a phrase that will define the (popular understanding of) BUTTERFLY EFFECT. To put it differently, as with any other clue, you have to find an answer that fits its meaning -- and this is a pretty good one. As always, you need to rely on crosses to see if your choices were correct.

Second, now we know why anyone would want to go back in time to kill a butterfly: to eliminate TOR(N)ADOs.

I liked the theme, but it made the puzzle boring; 24A gives you 81A as well, so getting the fill is much easier, and a bit tedious. I did like The MUSIC MAN, and the song from The Sound of Music.

One final small gripe: people who are "regal" do not live in MANORs. They live in palaces.

sharonak 2:40 PM  

THIS WAS NOT A QUOTE PUZZLWith quote puzzled you have to know, or somehow come up with the exact words some used who got quoted.
This definition once it became clear was fun because it was an in the language phrase which served a s good enough definition of the theory.

And the butterfly art was delightful tho I didn't see it at first.

Z 2:42 PM  

@poggius - Help me Wanda!

@Speedweeder - I’ve heard of the documentary but haven’t seen it. I think I will go looking for it. It’s probably streaming somewhere.

@johnk - It was you and at least one other today, but you are hardly alone. My frequent reminder for clue complaints is that it is almost always we solvers, not the clue, that is in error. Rex even has a FAQ about the phenomenon. And I’m guessing you cited Scrabble innocently, not as an attempt to incite yet another Scrabble rant from me. Regarding ECON, I’d go even further and assert that ECON is now more of a “word” in the usage sense than some things found acceptable in Scrabble.

@chance2travel -That’s how I read the “scrap” -> RASSLE clue. Also, thanks for the O.H.M.S. info. I wasted many precious nanoseconds wondering why H.O.M.E.S. was being reordered and why Lake Erie was missing. I missed that it wasn’t a James Bond thing until it was pointed out today.

@thefogman - If you don’t get an answer today try emailing an SBer. They’re friendly folk who answer emails. I’d help but I have no idea.

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

there was a time, late 60s, when there existed in the US an organized tour of professional (at least in the sense of prize money) slot car races, using the big cars 1:24 scale. mostly held in smoke filled venues. the most famous went by just his last name, which I'll have to look up to spell... Cukras, but called out as Soooooooookris!! during races according to slot car mags of the time, again from faded memory. here's all you would ever need to know about the era: http://www.slotcarhistory.com/slot_car_history5.htm

TTrimble 3:02 PM  

Usage note:
"Bemuse" in the sense of "wryly amuse" has been gaining in popularity for awhile, but just to note that this wasn't at all what it meant originally. Aware of the call to look stuff up in dictionaries, here's a convenient link. You're welcome.

---[SB Alert]---

You may be wondering what QB means. "Queen Bee", which is when you find all the words on the list of accepted words for that day. Which by the way, for today, doesn't include "niblet". Why? Well, the terse explanation given by nytbee.com is that "the New York Times considers it obscure or offensive". Okay, then. I'll let you ponder that in bemusement.

It might be self-explanatory, but in case not, a "pangram" is a word that uses all seven letters in the puzzle. By getting a pangram, an extra free 7 points is added to the score.

As one works through the puzzle, one passes through designated stages of accomplishment, like "getting started", "good", "solid" (for some reason I hate being in "solid"), "nice", "great", "amazing", and "genius". For aficionados of the puzzle, it's probably safe to say that anything less than "genius" is annoying and a goad to keep going. Well, it is for me.

The abovementioned nytbee.com is a resource with information on the puzzle of the day, and something a lot of us here consult, to see how many words we have left to go until QB. It's not however under the auspices of the NYT; it's a fan site.

(FWIW: I have two to go before I get today's Bee.)

Joaquin 3:19 PM  

Does anybody track this stat? I suspect that today's puzzle has generated more incorrect complaints than any in recent memory. From ECON (yep, it's a word) to the lack of understanding of all the nuances of the butterfly grid, the "N", and the "definition", it strikes me as a lot of unwarranted criticism.

Hack mechanic 3:38 PM  

How the hell is ORTS
Table scraps 93A ??

MarthaCatherine 3:43 PM  

Perhaps Rex wouldn't have been so put out (it's a crossword puzzle, Rex, not a science textbook) if, instead of the "mushy pop mumbo jumbo" definition, the four-part answer had been: "an interdisciplinary theory stating that, within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns, interconnectedness, constant feedback loops, repetition, self-similarity, fractals, and self-organization."

Lynnatny 4:03 PM  

I loved that Bradbury story. I reread it recently and it really does take on a different flavor in the current climate. The Ashton Kutcher movie was very disturbing. Both are why I didn’t realize the phrase was related to weather. Learned something today.

Cyclist227 4:07 PM  

Sorta did this out of the corner of my eye while watching an old film noir on Youtube. It was fine. Unexciting. Kind of typical of the Will Shortz Era.

Jeff 4:40 PM  

Re TORNADO, can someone explain like I'm five? TORonto is an AL east team but not Tornado with or without the N. And so where does the ADO part come in/from?

Ernonymous 4:47 PM  

There are words that I've never heard anyone say, nor have I ever read anywhere. I suppose that is the only way one can know about a word, hearing it or reading it. And then there is crosswordese. And a certain category of crosswordese are words you never see or hear anywhere except for in crossword puzzles. I am talking about the word JAPE. I should know it, since this is the 4th time it has been in the crossword in 2020 from when I began doing them. But I didn't.

I was naticked at JAPE, HADJ, HECATE. I have heard of HADJ but with _AD_ filled it was not coming to me, as I thought it was spelled HAAJ. If I had had the "H" or the "J" I may have figured it out. I really did not like this 3-way natick, but I think most of you know JAPE. I needed 2 consonants so running the alphabet was not an option. Can you please use JAPE in a sentence?

Anonymous 4:51 PM  

Kind of typical of the Will Shortz Era.

I'm here to attest that there's definitely at least 2 eras. Got one of the NYT 200 Sunday puzzle books, 1997-2001 puzzles, and they are, boy howdy, an altogether different beast. And I do mean beast.

Sydney 4:57 PM  

Finally. Someone explained O.H.M.S. Thank you. I knew onager, though....if I knew it, it’s not a natick.

Ernonymous 5:14 PM  

I'm glad that the year and a half I spent playing a war game on my phone wasn't a total waste: MANA was a gimme. See you never know when wasting time might pay off!

Barbara S. 5:17 PM  


JAPE as both verb and noun:

"Sitting at a crowded table with men who did not share a common language with you, listening to them talk and jape whilst understanding none of it, had quickly grown wearisome. Particularly since he always found himself wondering if the japes and laughter were directed at him." - Author: George R R Martin

Frantic Sloth 5:20 PM  

@GILL 214pm To expound just a tad on your thought - Trump is a walking advertisement for pro-abortion. Well, he would be if not for the "pro-life"/MAGAt Venn diagram overlap.

To those complaining about Rex complaining about the definition/explanation about CHAOSTHEORY and the BUTTERFLY EFFECT: I think he was just looking for more character development.

@Poggius 159pm I love everything about your post, with @Z's 242pm link supplying the cherry on top. Bravo, you two!

FWIW I'm with @Z, @jae and everyone else who hates quote puzzles; however, in this particular case, I'm more of the opinion expressed by @jberg 239pm and @sharonak 240pm. In fact, I never noticed the "quote" aspect of the whole thing until coming here. Weird, isn't it?

@BarbieBarbie 820am Allow me to add my voice to that of @Pamela 1150am in thanking you for the Ogden Nash and your review.

@Elizabeth Sandifer 101am Thanks for your explanatory, interesting post and I'm with @JD on "constrained by its own bad idea."

@JD 1146am I don't know. Your call of course, but I think maybe "bitterness" is nigh on a bear poke. Just my unrequested 2¢.

@Z 1059am Thanks for the proof of bipedal ODIE. I completely forgot he was represented both ways. The horror! πŸ˜‰

@600 132pm Hear!Hear!

Thanks to those of you welcoming me back. It was only a couple, two, tree days, but your sentiments warmed the cackles of my heart. πŸ˜‰

Anonymous 5:30 PM  

@Sydney: O.H.M.S., an initialism for On Her Majesty's Service or On His Majesty's Service (depending on the sex of the reigning monarch
@Rex and the rest of the PC crowd. Was just watching a golf tournament and the announcer described a golfer’s flaw as another kink in his armor. He knows not to say the Ch word because he doesn’t want to be canceled. Thanks for your contribution in killing the English language.

Frantic Sloth 5:47 PM  

@Giovanni 447pm I think sometimes it's helpful to check out synonyms for a given word in order to fully understand its meaning. There are a few sentences provided on that page as well - JAPE is one of those words used mostly by the same people who brought you CACCHINNATE. πŸ˜‰
BTW - I'm with @GILL's πŸ‘x10 review about your post late yesterday, but I also agree that arguing politics anywhere, let alone here, is largely a no-win situation these days.

Eniale 5:49 PM  

**SB spoiler alert**

@ttrimble, @barbara s, @pamela - I'm wondering why nobody doing yesterday's SB complained about itty. In my usage, itty isn't a word by itself, is only used along with bitty. And that's borne out by my Merriam-Webster.

I refuse to complain about today but I cant get the PG and I'm stuck one word before Genius. Boo.

Tigg 6:41 PM  

[Adding a bit to Elizabeth Sandifer's comment]
Ed Lorenz gave a AAAS talk in 1972 entitled "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas". That title provides the link from chaos theory to TORNADO. It was also a play on both the extreme sensitivity of some dynamical systems to small perturbations and that a graph of some of the related mathematical functions had two big lobes looking like butterfly wings. (I was fortunate to have the office next to Ed while I was in graduate school.)

Barbara S. 7:10 PM  

Your point is well taken about ITTY. In fact, looking around a few dictionary sites, I kept finding itty-bitty hyphenated -- I'm not sure I ever found itty as a stand-alone word. It's possible to imagine someone using it on its own for effect in casual speech, but I'm not sure that justifies its inclusion in the SB. Along the same lines, MARM is a word accepted by the SB. But would anyone use it alone rather than saying "schoolmarm"?

No riotous feasts at my palace tonight. I'm 3 away from QB and I despair of ever getting that pangram. But as Scarlett O'Hara said (and she's certainly someone to emulate), tomorrow's another day.

kitshef 7:20 PM  


The reason I like Scrabble is that there is a BOOK that can be consulted on any arguments. I may not agree with everything that is in the BOOK, but that's OK. I could, in theory, study it enough to know what is acceptable and what is not. And after I've lost a challenge on, say, BO, I at least know not to challenge that again (and to start using it).

The reason I always give up on Spelling Bee after trying it for a week or so is that six days in seven, it will not accept a word that is clearly acceptable in any dictionary you might look at. But Spelling Bee does not have a BOOK you can use to settle things; it is the arbitrary likes of one person. The don't like ARIARY or GAUR, so those are not accepted. But a million arbitrary sushi words are fine.

The NY Times crossword puzzle is sort of removed from the question of what is a word. It doesn't really matter if it is a word or not, so long as you can clue it fairly. So EEE and LMNO and JUL can appear, so long as the constructor has sufficient ingenuity to clue it so what we can solve it.

TTrimble 7:53 PM  

Curiously, "itty" is listed in Your Dictionary.com, along with "ittier" and "ittiest" (!). But you have a point: it's not acceptable in Scrabble.

I think the explanation for why you don't hear complaining is that "itty" easily resides within memory and is easily visible, so one tries it and if it's accepted, great, move on to the next thing without hesitation.

The things I complain about are (1) words like "niblet" that really, clearly ought to be there but aren't; (2) words that seem ridiculously obscure, especially when they displace words of type (1); (3) inconsistencies in word lists: words that are suddenly acceptable that weren't acceptable before, or words that were once acceptable but are no longer. For me, "itty" is neither of those three. (Well, maybe it was once part of an unaccepted list. I don't know.)

(Aside: is there a term for words that are practically never heard in isolation? For example, "crannies". I can't think of whether I've ever heard that outside of "nooks and crannies".)

JC66 8:24 PM  

****SB ALERT****

2 short of QB (I did get the pangram) and I'm going to watch the NBA playoff game. I'll peek in during the commercials, but I'm not optimistic.


Agree on NIBLET, but, FWIW, although a number of dictionaries have it, M-W doesn't.

bocamp 8:30 PM  

Read Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder" here

"A Sound of Thunder" Goodreads comments here

RooMonster 9:11 PM  

Adding to the annoying πŸ˜‹
**SB Stuff**
Normally, I don't look at nytbee.com, I just get words till I get sick of it that day, but today I did, and see I'm 5 away from Q. But I've stopped for the day. Happy when I got the pangram, am at 106 points. Good enough!

Haven't had a Q in some time. Oh well, still like getting to Genius when I think I'll never get there, like today! Who needs the tiara?

RooMonster No Queen Guy

TTrimble 9:28 PM  

It gets curiouser and curiouser. It does appear in The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, put out by Merriam-Webster!

Cyrus 9:38 PM  

Rex, way harsh in your critique. I thought it was a charming concept, and "one small thing..." describes the theory simply and clearly. I too thought of the Ray Bradbury short story. My wife got the orcs clue, and she's never read Lord of the Rings. It was nice to honor Sade. Pitch Perfect is a terrific movie with great roles for Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Ester Dean. You should watch it. Bespoke made me curious about the word's orgins ("past-participle adjective from bespeak in its sense of 'speak for, arrange beforehand,'"*). We finished in about 3 hours -- which is speedy for us.

Runs with Scissors 9:38 PM  

Morr SB Stuff...

I keep entering tappet, as the lifter is known, and when the letters exist, but it is steadfastly refused.

Yet popoet is acccepted.

Barbara S. 9:47 PM  

****SB ALERT****
Against all expectations I just got QB! I was mulling it over while watching TV (a detective show, maybe that helped). And gradually I TROOPED through the pangram and then my last 2 missing words. The very last one I got was so simple I couldn't believe I didn't see it practically first thing!

@TTrimble. We can almost spell your nom-de-blog today -- just missing the R! I'm glad I did OK with this one. I like the letter B.

Aelurus 9:53 PM  

Fun puzzle but DNF at ONAGERS/MANA/RASSLE though guessed right on BELLAS/STREAMER. Am in the like-quote-puzzles camp (and the acrostics, and I can’t find who mentioned them). Didn’t mind that it’s not a real quote.

@kitshef 7:20 pm - Agree with all three comments re Scrabble, NYTXW, SB but I do go back to SB just not daily. Am intrigued by Vertex these days. Gotta get the other side of the brain.

@JD 12:48 am - That’s how I enjoyed solving it too, here and there. Read a lot of Bradbury novels as a kid but the eerie “Sound of Thunder” not till my twenties.

@paige worthy - Thought of Jurassic Park too, Jeff Goldblum explaining it to Laura Dern before all dinosaur hell breaks loose.

@Elizabeth Sandifer 1:01 am and many others - Thanks for all the explications of butterfly effect.

@Frantic midnight - Apparently not completely idiot proof. When I got to 81A suggesting I look at the central black squares (I started at the bottom today), I saw a puppy face. Eyes on either side of DEY (44A), cute surprised ears on either side of those, A long nose centered beneath these attributes. Wasn’t sure that was right so looked some more and saw it—a martini glass! Might that work? With designer handles on either side? Those could come in handy. Didn’t see the butterfly till reading the blog - kinda sorta does look idiot proof now!

Unknown 10:00 PM  

Jeff, "ado" is on the other side (to the east) of the gray block that's the N substitute. TOR-N-ADO.

Jeff 10:50 PM  

@Unknown 10:00pm That explanation helps not at all. I understand the answer is tornado. The clue was "A.L. East team ... or, using the shaded square, what a little movement by this puzzle's subject might cause". That implies that TOR-ADO with or without the the N ought to resolve to an AL East team, and as far as I can tell, it does not.

JC66 10:59 PM  

****SB ALERT****

Not easy for me, but with 5:17 left in the 4th quarter, I got QB.

TTrimble 11:31 PM  

---[SB Alert]---
-->> possible spoilers <<--

I threw in the towel. One of them -- now what were we recently discussing, @Barbara? Ugh! And I knew the other one -- double ugh!!

Ernonymous 11:33 PM  

@anonymous 5:30 for fucks sake

JC66 11:39 PM  

****SB ALERT****


I wouldn't have gotten QB today, if not for that recent discussion.

Pamela 11:48 PM  

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

WHEW! Got QB just now! Barely under the wire, after being out most of the day.

Greg 2:41 PM  

Hilariously, FRUITLOOPS also colors your cereal milk, and fits in the same space as COCOAPUFFS. That threw me off for a while...

gdorner 2:58 PM  

Too late for anyone to read it and maybe said explicitly in the above:

When chaos theory was young and probably before that term was applied to nonlinear math, it went something like “If a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, that may cause a hurricane in Texas.” Or, words to that effect and entirely appropriate for doers od crossword puzzles. That encompasses why weather prediction is so iffy.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Hi Rex

always read your Sunday puzzle comments. thanks a million for all of them

Surprised that more did not immediately think of the
Ray Bradbury sci-fi sort story.
One of the few of thousands of Sci-fi stuff I read in the '50s, '60s, and '70s, that has stayed lodged
in my mind.
Did Lorenz steal this from Bradbury? Guess I'll have to research this.
After all, many early sci-fi writers from HG Wells up through A C Clarke dreamed up lots of ideas before they were turned into inventions and theories in the real world.
Approaching 82 my puzzle solving has become less compete over time :
so am glad to be able to fill in my gaps and corners with your help. Thanks again

siddy 38

Unknown 8:43 PM  

A theme that returns in a symphony is a recapitulation, or a recap. A reprise is when a song returns later in a musical.

Unknown 8:46 PM  

A theme that returns in a symphony is a recapitulation, or recap. A reprise is a song that returns later in a musical.

Unknown 10:53 PM  

We had "I'm on" for 66A IMON, so when we got the rest of description it read "one small thong can make all the difference..."

Mark Newstetter 12:23 AM  

I’ll weigh in on the meaning of the “N” ….

I believe it refers to the Nth Degree.

Junief 9:59 AM  

Great story. A brutal tyrant wins the presidency rather than the smart likable guy who was ahead when they left on their tour. Chilling. Bradbury was never an optimist.

Matt 3:16 PM  

You literally have to flap the paper to see the tornado - it's a persistence of vision trick. Since tornadoes are the subject of this branch of mathematics it's triply clever. You have to stare at the gray N for best effect.

It's cool and my favorite payoff - a puzzle that becomes a toy.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

@JayPeeEss(11:23)and others:
A bespoke suit is a tailor-made suit. My brother had 3 made while he was in London in the early seventies. A British term.

Burma Shave 3:58 PM  


it SORTA SADDENs what he CANDO when


rondo 4:35 PM  

A crossword blogger and comic book teacher believes himself too deep for this example of CHAOSTHEORY? What INTHEWORLD?

Another clue (117 a) missing in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Time to give them hell. Although they may have finally fixed the ellipses showing as ampersands.

TONI, SADE, SIA, AVA, JESSICA, Mmes. CHO and DEY; pick one and good ONHER.

SORTA tolerable, even with a quote floating like a BUTTERFLY all through it.

Diana, LIW 8:23 PM  

The best I can say is that I got most of it.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 9:49 PM  

Great book about chaos theory in the real world is "Calculated Chaos" by Butler Shaffer.

As for the puzzle IMO too many obscure proper nouns. Took a helluva long time to figure out from the crosses. But that is the problem with many NYT puzzles.

spacecraft 12:58 AM  

Reminds me of Donne:

If a clod be washed away, Europe is the less.

Another female-authored puzzle gets trashed. Unclear on the concept, Fearless One? I thought it was rather good; not much to complain about despite huge theme density. Of the many deserving DOD's today, we award a posthumous one to the great TONI Morrison. Honorable mention to our constructor. Birdie.

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

A few poor babies put themselves in a snit when a female constructor is criticized. Even if the criticism is not harsh. We all experience puzzles differently whether they are female or male constructed. No need to sweat about it.

wcutler 2:57 AM  

@Hack mechanic 3:38 PM "How the hell is ORTS Table scraps 93A ??"
Because ORTS means table scraps.

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