Woman's name that means violet / THU 8-6-20 / Political party founded in 1966 / TV host with memoir born a crime / Container brand that lost its trademark status in 1963

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Constructor: Derek Allen and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy (5-ish)

THEME: GRAY / AREA (28D: With 32-Down, ambiguity ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) — there are four "gray" squares, where a "BLACK"-containing square crosses a "WHITE"-containing square (black + white = gray, and in print and in the app, I'm told, those rebus squares are actually gray):

Theme answers:
  • THE BLACK PANTHERS (19A: Political party founded in 1966) / RED WHITE AND BLUE (3D: Old Glory)
  • EGG WHITE (9A: Ingredient separated and whipped in meringue) / BLACK HOLE (12D: Outer space phenomenon photographed for the first time in 2019)
  • TELLING A WHITE LIE (56A: Saying "You've never looked better," maybe) / ROLLING BLACKOUT (25D: It might prevent an overload of the power grid)
  • BLACKTOP (67A: Many a country road) / SNOW WHITE (52D: "Grimms' Fairy Tales" heroine)
See also OTHELLO (43D: Game whose dual-colored pieces are apt for this puzzle's theme)

Word of the Day: Judith IVEY (57D: Two-time Tony-winning actress Judith) —

Judith Lee Ivey (born September 4, 1951) is an American actress and theatre director. She twice won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performances in Steaming (1981) and Hurlyburly (1984).

Ivey also appeared in several films and television series. For her role in What the Deaf Man Heard (1997), she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. (wikipedia)

• • •

This whole thing was pretty straightforward. Took me almost no time to figure out the gimmick, and ... I mean, it's just "black" one way, "white" the other, the end. Not too exciting. The GRAY / AREA bit is kind of a clever twist (black and white do technically make gray), but then that little bit didn't show up in my software, so I had to read about it in a note. I thought the revealer was oddly placed—it seemed off-center—but then I realized this was a sixteen-wide grid, and thus there is no central Down column and the two-part revealer does in fact sit in the center, with the two parts of the answer rotationally symmetrical to one another. With the theme being a kind of non-event (containing no revelations and causing no struggles), the fill became more important, or I noticed it more, and was bothered by it somewhat more than I would've been (probably) if the theme had been captivating. I got real mad at SML, which is horrible fill to begin with, and then the way it's clued seems to ask for a plural, so I thought the answer would have to be SMS (like ... "smalls"?) ... but it's SML as in "small, medium, large," which, if you've bought any article of clothing with that sizing system, you know is an incomplete list of options (things go to XL at a minimum, and often many Xs higher). I'm not sure how you can justify (any more?) SML as a stand-alone answer. Retire it, please. Thank you. Anyway, SML and IONE (as clued) (46A: Woman's name that means "violet") and ANA (which I can never remember, as clued) (40D: Carrier to Tokyo) slowed me down a bit there in the east. Nothing else proved very difficult at all, except TREPID, which I kind of refuse to accept as a word without its IN- lead in (4D: Hesitant to act). Literally never seen anyone described as TREPID. TREPID is like "choate" or "gruntled"—not buying it.

BLIND PIG was cool (26A: Speakeasy, by another name), but in general I expected the fill to be nicer, given the wider grid and the way two of the theme squares are buried in the corners, leaving the grid as a whole without a ton of thematic pressure on it. Or maybe there actually *was* a lot of thematic pressure on the grid from those longer crossing themers and I should be impressed the grid is as clean as it is. I can't really tell. I just know that I kept running into not-great overfamiliar stuff like ELIHU and AANDE and ONEBC. I think STET is better than STES (69A: Fr. religious figures). "IS IT?" you might ask. Yes. Yes it is. In all, I think this puzzle is fine, if bland. I mean, GRAY ... it fits. It's apt. It's not sunny, it's not dark, or stormy, it's just ... gray. Gray can be nice. I sometimes like a gray day. But it doesn't crackle and you're not apt to remember it. Oh, and before I forget, TELLING A (WHITE) LIE is inching toward EATING A (BIG) SANDWICH territory. I'll give you TELL A LIE, and, *maybe*, past tense (TOLD) or 3rd-person (TELLS) variations. Make it a participle phrase, and I start to balk. Add (WHITE) and I very much balk. You have entered the realm of green paint. It stands out because all the other themers (to their credit) are tight (and ROLLING BLACKOUT, btw, is the best thing in the grid, imho).

Take care. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. I am having the MOST annoying problem with tags in Blogger so if you have good computer skills and think you can help me figure out how to deal with deleting ALL tags that aren't days of the week or constructor names, please shoot me an email at rexparker at icloud dot com, many thanks

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:00 AM  

I’m guessing I won’t be the only one who had S _ _ T in place for 5D and then read the clue, “What a foul mouth is full of?”.

It was one of those “No, It can’t be” moments for me. And, of course, it wasn’t!

Harryp 12:06 AM  

There is a group named the Gray Panthers.

August West 12:14 AM  

Question re: yesterday’s Mini: 3D: “With 5-Across, word that looks like it would sound similarly but doesn’t.” 3D = EYE, 5A = RHYME.

Wife and I have puzzled and puzzed over this for 24 hours and both remain stumped. Would someone please give us the V-8 head slaps we deserve?

mathgent 12:38 AM  

Technically perfect. Only12 Terrible Threes, zero junk, a goodly number of longish entries. A little on the “gray” side, but being a rebus redeems it. Excellent!

I love words like TREPID. Rex mentioned a couple of them. “Ruth” comes to mind. Is there a name for them?

Our family loved games but Othello never caught on. My wife and I have rediscovered Pente during our confinement. I think that it is similar.

THERMOS reminds me of the joke about the kid who learns about them. “How does it know?”

Jeff Chen seldom disappoints.

JOHN X 12:42 AM  

Finally a rebus puzzle! It wasn’t a very hard rebus, but at least it was made by male constructors.

Myuen88 12:44 AM  

In the NYT puzzle online, the gray squares killed me because I didn't know what to put there. No fair.

okanaganer 1:06 AM  

On the left side, BLACK is across and WHITE is the down; on the right it's the opposite. I didn't know what to type into Across Lite so I just put B or W and when the happy pencil didn't appear, that was fine, I had it correct.

I tried LITTLE WHITE LIE for 56 across, didn't fit, tried A LITTLE WHITE LIE, still didn't fit. Too bad, it would have been a cooler answer. Note: sometimes a white lie is kind and the truth is just plain sadistic. "Actually, lady, your baby is pretty homely."

Our library re-opened this week and I went today. I have been looking forward to it: browsing the stacks as opposed to filling out an online hold and picking it up in the parking lot. But in fact it was awful. All those one way arrows; hardly any people inside; if you touch a book and don't want to take it, you have to discard it in a bin; plexiglass barriers and face masks on the staff. Magazines: you ask for a title, they bring you a bunch and you point to the ones you want. In the end I couldn't wait to leave. So sad, quite aside from the very real illness and death, this virus makes so many things just so damned un-fun.

Then I went to the beach. People having fun, behaving like there was no pandemic. Fortunately in our town we have tons of beach frontage so even on this very busy week (we are a huge beach vacation destination for Canada) no trouble keeping 2 meters separation most of the time. And the infection rate has spiked a bit but, considering the hordes of tourists flocking here, the experts are saying don't panic. So on balance a good day.

(Note: I saw a New York State license plate today, for pity's sake! How on earth did they drive 4000 km and get across the border? Evidently they just say they are driving to Alaska, which customs are obliged to allow, then they go party!)

jae 1:34 AM  

Easy-medium. Pretty smooth with a fun theme, liked it.

Apparently we have moved beyond “Say Anything” for IONE.

pyroclasts 1:54 AM  

Didn’t really care for this puzzle when it was TICK/BOX a month ago nor do I much care for it now

AANDE, SML are weak, not sure who in the universe is supposed to know a random Purina subsidiary ALPO or female name IONE which literally only has three hits on Wikipedia.

Hadn’t ever heard of Marines being called Devil Dogs, or speakeasies BLIND PIGs, but those were the lone bright spots

AANDE also left me wondering if NYT has ever had a puzzle where a box contained a symbol or number rather than a letter. Would be a cool take, methinks.

Alyssa 1:57 AM  

I just filled the usual rebus way in the nytxw app, i.e., BLACK/WHITE or WHITE/BLACK, the acrosses being first and the downs after, and that worked fine.

Mychal 2:11 AM  

Wow, not having a Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever song on this post is a huge missed opportunity.

chefwen 3:04 AM  

Got it right away with EGG W and SNOW W, took a tad bit longer to get the Black bit.

I love Strawberry Meringues but haven’t made them here. Meringue doesn’t do well with humidity, they turn out all chewy, not crisp and crunchy like they should be.

BLIND PIG was new to me. I haven’t been to too many Speakeasies, a little before my time. There is an old bar in Milwaukee that was a pseudo Speakeasy Called the Safe House where you had to supply the secret word or saying to enter. If I remember correctly it was “I need a safe house”. That was many moons ago. If I know Milwaukee it’s probably still there.

Fun puzzle but a little too easy for my Thursday satisfaction.

ZenMonkey 3:10 AM  

In the app I entered WHITE/BLACK in the rebus squares. Unreadably small as they were, I did get the happy solver music. I was expecting to have to look up the correct way to enter it.

Frantic Sloth 4:24 AM  

"TREPID is like "choate" or "gruntled"—not buying it." Haha! Amen to that,Rex!

This was fun and very gruntle-y, so I came away completely gruntled.

Had to futz around with the gray squares - first rebussing BW, then BLACKWHITE, and finally GRAY which worked, but...

Did the boxes really need to be gray?? For me, that just made typing GRAY in a gray box eerily close to my hyperbolic "how do you spell CAT?" clue from the other day.
I thought I was being facetious, not prescient!

Still, it was fun and would have been funner without the gray/GRAY sitch.

In any case, there was a lot to like here with some sneaky-but-you-didn't-fool-me misdirects and my fave new term: BLINDPIG.

The etymology on that one must be a hoot... @Z? 😉


Anonymous 5:29 AM  

@pyroclasts I remember to have solved where A&E appears as an answer. Doing a search n xwordinfo.com, gives the following four puzzles where A&E (symbol & appears in the answer) Thursday Feb 7, 2013, Sunday Mar 18, 2007 Thursday Sep 22, 2005 and Thursday Jan 28, 1999. The one I solved has A&E and H&RBLOCk as intersecting words

Anonymous 5:52 AM  

Why is SEAT clued “Run for it!”? I get that a candidate seeking election runs for a seat. But that’s a stretch to begin with and why does the exclamation point help? Is it an exhortation to a reluctant candidate? Or just enthusiasm? It’s Friday I know but this seems very and unreasonably oblique.

amyyanni 6:07 AM  

Love the Roarin' Twenties. Not that I remember them, but was a history major and favored that era. There's a Blind Pig in Kentucky. "I'm sure there is," you say. No, really, it's an existing establishment- or was, before Covid.
Pleasing puzzle, happy to greet Lois Lane.

Tom Taylor 6:19 AM  

It’s a poetic device *sort of* ...
An “EYE RHYME” is a pair of words that are spelled similarly and thus look close to each other, but that don’t actually sound the same. The example in this mini was SHE and CHE.

Anonymous 6:29 AM  

An eye rhyme is two words that look like they should rhyme but do not bc of pronunciation. Examples could be: cough and dough or love and move.

Lewis 6:42 AM  

There were tiny pleasurable things all over this solve:

The word FILCH. The image of Gene SHALIT. Learning BLIND PIG and thinking without guile that my life is better for knowing this. The "Hah!" that came with getting LOIS LANE for [DC reporter], then, for a moment, returning to my childhood brain and what it actually felt like being enthralled by all things Superman. The comfort/joy the thought of Trevor NOAH always elicits in me. Thinking of GOONIN' as a verb meaning to act goofy. The aha at sussing TREPID from "intrepid". And just a good feeling that came from seeing OLES and OLAY within orbit of each other.

Thus solving felt like sipping at something delicious from beginning to end, and I'm abundantly grateful for this lovely voyage, Derek and Jeff!

kitshef 7:20 AM  

Ways you can lose my interest:

1) Overdo your clues.
Exhibit A: What a foul mouth is full of?
Exhibit B: Chick magnet? [Note: this specifically is where the puzzle lost me.]
Exhibit C: Oh, it’s nothing
Exhibit D: Starter course?
Exhibit E: Run for it!

2) Anything Kardashian

Hungry Mother 7:34 AM  

Fast time, but some tough spots. Married 54 years today to my life PARTNER and pandemic buddy.

ChuckD 7:44 AM  

Liked it for the most part. Simple, straightforward rebus with a tight theme that could have benefited from snappier fill. The long themers were fine - but the shorter ones in the SW/NE not so much. Like the LOIS LANE/IONE crossing and the clue for SILT. There used to be a BLIND PIG at the 3rd Ave stop on the L train but closed as far as I know - much like so many other bars in the city.

Mikey from El Prado 8:32 AM  

So I’m down to “ASMA_INE.” My 59 year-old mind (thus growing up in 60’s and 70’s) is thinking of the Drake’s snack. I’m plugging in different letters in my head, but nothing makes sense, until two things come through: the clue isn’t Devil Dog, it’s Devil dog, a significant difference. And 6 down wasn’t ELIHA as I’m sorta thinking ELIJA. That name would have ended in an “H.” Sooooooo.... those two epiphanies couple in the brain, and tada... USMARINE! Damn process cost me over two minutes and a decent time. I’m clearly not MENSA material. And no excuse.... no Rex evening cocktail (or morning Bloody Mary). Nope, it’s 6 AM in NM, and I’m just getting ready for another work-from-home day.
Funny how the mind works, but one of the beauties of crosswords is their ability to force one to think differently. Thanks for that.
May you all be safe and sound, and.... happy.

William of Ockham 8:39 AM  


JD 8:41 AM  

Loved it. Good clean fun, a Thursday I could do with no resistence. A whole week like that in fact.

No gripe on tepid. Trepidation ... Intrepid ... Trepid. Nice boxed set. What's always confused me is underwhelmed / overwhelmed. If you're fine with something do you say, "Don't worry about me, I'm whelmed."

I even liked SML. Great sizing system, simple, no numbers involved. Here, you're little, buy this one.

Totally loved Gray Area theme. Lawyer land, "The answer is yes and no." That could be good news or bad news.

Yep, a lot of fun in this tiny little playground.

Pamela 8:42 AM  

Well, I liked it. I was completely stymied at 1A because I blithely put in LMNO. It wasn’t until I’d solved the lower half of the puzzle, complete with theme and revealer, that I came back to the top and broke a sweat trying to figure it out. Eventually I remembered ANNRICE and began to recover.
The theme showed itself at 9D. I removed the S from EGG and realized that it was 2 words, not just one. Clever. Took longer to get the revealer, but EARP and YEAS helped. Loved 52A, sole proprietor, also 39D, DC reporter- I kept looking for something political.

As for S—T...🤣🤣🤣🤣

RooMonster 8:44 AM  

Hey All !
The NYT.com site has Green Squares, as per usual. Meta Green Paint?

I put in WHITE in all four after figuring out two of them. Ended up with WHITE HOLE, and thought, Huh, I didn't know there was such a thing. The ole brain finally figured it out at BLACK TOP, but only after thinking that WHITE TOP was an alternate "country-bumpkin" name for concrete. Har. So I wrote in WHITE/BLACK in each Green Square. After completion, the App changed them to GRAY. (Which I get the concept, but tis silly, as GRAY when read in the answers makes no sense.)

Puz tried real hard to give me my famous one-letter DNF, but I thwarted it at the last second! Had StAT for SEAT, ended up with t_IHU, thought 14A was FILCH (could've been FInCH, but was 90% it was FILCH), saw it would've been TLIHU, which is nonsense, even though it's a Biblical name (some of them are kinda wacky), relooked at 5A clue, took out the T, saw the E, plugged it in, Happy Music! That's three days in a row of correctness without haven't to go back to find a mistake. But, now here comes Fri and Sat.

Sad I knew the Kardashians are ARMENIAN (off just the M.) Even if you don't care, the ephemera is in your head. Yeesh.

Saw the 16 wide, so brain cells still firing. Interesting to expand the grid to get a two-four-letter-Revealer instead of putting it elsewhere.

Wanted (something)bar for the speakeasy clue.

Overall a decent puz. Better than Jeff's MonPuz POW, but he can't give his own puzs the POW. IMHO.

One F

Anonymoose 8:51 AM  

Nice of you, Tom, to answer this. BTW, it was answered in yesterday's posts, @AW, and there is always Google to try. That's what I did and it popped right up.

OffTheGrid 8:53 AM  

It has been done, with mixed reviews.

chuck w 9:08 AM  

Why is a "foul mouth" full of "silt"?

Amie Devero 9:15 AM  

Totally agree. It was so off to me that I DNF because I thought the S was wrong.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  


the mouth of a river, oft times called delta, is where the fine dirt, aka silt, is pushed/pulled by the streaming water. it builds up, and needs to be dredged out to keep the ship lanes open. so, 'fouled'.

Katzzz 9:28 AM  

Filch. Great word.

Georgia 9:28 AM  

The mouth of a river ...

Joe Welling 9:30 AM  

I don't think there is such a thing as a singular ROLLING BLACKOUT. What makes them "rolling" is that there's more than one.

chuck w wrote:
"Why is a "foul mouth" full of "silt"?"

The mouth of a river is fouled with silt.

tonicrossblog7e@gmail.com 9:32 AM  

Entered black + white. No indication I needed to change it to Gray!

Z 9:33 AM  

Jeff Chen usually isn’t on the same funny/interesting wave length as I am, but this puzzle is pretty good. Of course, maybe it’s the subtle prodding of crossing THE BLACK PANTHERS with RED WHITE AND BLUE that pushed me solidly into the Like column. My one real nit is the crossing/cluing of IONE/ANA. I had it right but still had to waste precious nanoseconds running the alphabet to make sure something else didn’t work.

Hand up for liking TREPID.

My Personal Ranking of STE- Answers
3. (tie) STES
3. (tie) STET
27. STEN

@August West - You weren’t tagged in the answer, so just in case you missed it, “Eye Rhyme” as in “dough” and “cough.”

@Anon5:52 - I think you got it. I think the “!” is meant to indicate it is an exhortation and also a little bit of a misdirection as it could be two tweens playing ding-dong-ditchit, too.

@Frantic Sloth - I thought BLIND PIG was a prohibition era term, but it seems to be from the 1800’s. The basic idea seems to have been a way to avoid laws against the sale of alcohol. The establishment would sell tickets to an attraction, say a striped pig, and provide a drink “for free.” What I found had fairly scant sourcing, so take this with a grain of salt.

Eric 9:33 AM  

I don't understand Rex's complaint about TELLING A WHITE LIE. A white lie is a specific thing, and I thought the clue for that answer was great.

emcl 9:39 AM  

I’m surprised that no one else found the clue “Run for it!” incredibly confusing if the answer was “SEAT.” I had SCAT or SKAT but it didn’t feel right, which left me with CLIHU as a figure in Job, which didn’t make sense. But that clue was totally illegitimate, it seemed to me, “Run for it?” I could have tolerated, but with the exclamation point? What the what? How am I the only one who was really irritated by that?

burtonkd 9:39 AM  

@Roo - was thinking the same about white top roads. Pretty sure I remember correctly that crossing the border into Minnesota from the east, you are all of a sudden on pinktop with beautiful green rolling hills.

Surprised nobody else has called Rex for White Lies being Green Paint. White Lies definitely a thing, unless his complaint was it being in a sentence. Like others, I initially thought Little White Lies, a more complete expression.

FILCH is one of the most fun words to say.

Is RECD a standard abbreviation (makes me think "recommended"), I could swear it should have a V, i.e.RCVD

In a COVID appropriate theme, our church just did the whole book of Job in June. I might have been thinking about the upcoming anthem during the reading and sermon, so needed a couple of crosses to get ELIHU.

river rat 9:41 AM  

Chuck W....the mouth of a dirty river is full of------

pmdm 9:49 AM  

August West: Beats me, and it seems to beat everyone else. If nobody provides the answer, send an email to Shortz and he will answer you. He's very good (and patient) that way. His email is easy to find. (However he might be to female constructors, he seems nice to solvers.)

About today's puzzle. Easy rebus to figure out. Liked the puzzle, but I would prefer less PPP. And perhaps a little less moaning about things like STET STES and SML. Gee, if I complain about moaning, am I moaning myself?

Tina 9:53 AM  

I have a problem with SEAT too. I put in elihu and finished but I-still don’t get it.

Barbara S. 9:54 AM  

The app's getting lazy -- well, I am, too -- but I'd rather blame the app. While I was solving, I first grokked that "white" was a rebus and ended up filling it in all the gray squares. By the end, I knew it was "white" in one direction and "black" in the other (and the two together made "gray"), but I didn't go back and fill in anything else -- I just left "white" in all 4 places. And I got the happy music. AND the app didn't change my "white"s to "gray." Lazy.

I didn't know about RAILS and billiards tables. Is the RAIL just that raised strip?

SOLONG in the grid looks like some alternate-style "sarong." Hemlines are dropping?

I know ancient Romans wore TUNICs, but how strange to see that word rather than "toga" as clued. Hemlines are rising?

I've used OLAY products for decades and yes, it's true -- I look a mere fraction of my age. (And who among you can dispute it?)

I thought there was going to be a different sort of rebus (gray squares or no gray squares) when I got to 11D "Main Las Vegas industry." I was sure they were looking for GAMblING, which could only happen with a rebus. But GAMING's good, too.

I missed by three words yesterday. One word I didn't know at all (gene-related), and two headbangers (ALOE and EMBALM). But, wow, get a load of this week on the SB. No more Mr. Nice-Puzzle. Such large numbers of words they want us to find every single day!

albatross shell 9:55 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sir Hillary 10:12 AM  

Feels like the "one word across, another word down" thing is so played out. I guess the GRAY squares in the paper are a nice touch, but the revealer doesn't add much. So, not too exciting overall.

BLINDPIG feels like something I should have heard of but haven't. It's my favorite entry today.

GOONIN is hilariously DOOKish.

@kitshef 7:20am -- Clues struck me as overdone, as they did you. Your Exhibits are mostly spot-on. I say "mostly" because I think Starter course? for PLAN A is quite good. The others you cite are terrible, especially Chick magnet?

@Mychal 2:11am -- Hear, hear. Very good band.

JC66 10:17 AM  

@albatross shell


****SB ALERT****

@Barbara S

Missed by three. I really have to try to remember LAMELLA & LAMELLAE. No idea on ALLELE.

Whatsername 10:20 AM  

I wouldn’t call it Easy, but I liked it a lot. Pretty quick to pick up the theme with 9A/12D there in the northeast corner, not much else to infer from that other than white and black. I loved MWAH and hope to see it again. Disagree with Rex about the clue for SML as the answer could have also be XXL if that would make him happy. Do agree with him about TREPID though; that’s a stretch.

I’m TREPID to tell IONE she’s never looked better when her hair looks like it was cut with TONGS. That would be TELLINGAWHITELIE. Even a BLINDPIG could see that.

“The world is black, the world is white. It turns by day and then by night.” A little trip back to the 1970s with the
Three Dog Night.


Nancy 10:20 AM  

Yes, I get it. Giving a puzzle with a GRAY AREA theme actual gray areas is visually clever. But, alas, it took the "crunch" right out of a puzzle that could have been much crunchier -- turning it into one of the easiest rebuses I've ever done. Since I much prefer challenge to grid design, I feel it was a mistake and am wondering if it was Derek and Jeff's decision or Will's?

But easy as the rebus part was for me, I had some trouble elsewhere, since I didn't know the answer to the MuggleNet clue (natch; no apologies) and I didn't know Job's counselor either (mea culpa.) And I've never once heard a speakeasy referred to as a BLIND PIG. Have any of you?

Many of you will know the "Gene with the large 'stache of films", but how many of y'all worked with him? I actually knew Gene SHALIT back in the days before he was "Gene SHALIT!" When we were both at the Literary Guild. He was "Gene with the large 'stache of books" then. The 'stache was every bit as big and he was a real character. Didn't know him very well. Certainly didn't know he'd go on to be famous.

An enjoyable puzzle that could have -- and should have -- been harder.

Sixthstone 10:27 AM  

Decent puzzle, but "Run for it!/seat" still has me fuming. I had it filled in correctly and just stared at it for 5 minutes like "really?" WTF

Jeffrey H. Kahn 10:27 AM  

Agree. Stared at that one forever thinking it must be wrong.

GHarris 10:29 AM  

I must be working on a fussy IPad. Although I put black white in each rebus I got the error message. When, in exasperation , I resorted to "reveal square" I learned the required answer was gray. I was not too happy, felt cheated out of my victory. I agree with emcl the clue for seat is terrible. Should have read " something you run for" or "something you stand for".

albatross shell 10:29 AM  

Yeah. I finished the puzzle this morning at the tough places (with cheats) and then got all confused about which clues were which. Deleted the mess. Maybe try again after coffee.

Newboy 10:31 AM  

Attitude is everything! Today I wholeheartedly agree with both Rex and @Lewis—does that make me wishy-washy? Does that sentence reflecting on a Allen/Chen grid make me racist/TREPID...get me outta this GRAY AREA. Some great misdirection cluing, especially at 5D/A where both answers obviously took some mental gymnastics. That exclamation mark really caused me grief. Jeff & Derek had me feeling like a BLIND PIG in a SHOE SHOP in closing out that top center section. Maybe I just need a NAP? Gotta LEAVE. SO LONG!

tkincher 10:34 AM  

"Mis"-spelled it as GREY at first, which it didn't accept. I liked the theme, otherwise.

JD 10:38 AM  

@Barbara S. Har! on the Olay. I too look a fraction of my age after years of use, no more than 5% older than I actually am.

@JohnX, You're seriously hilarious. Daughter's significant other is extremely liberal (moderate here), and can't help saying things like that around him with a straight face. Daughter isn't amused.

@Myuen, For future reference, I put W or B in as it came up and that worked.

@okanaganer, A friend told me she's no longer asking "how are you" when she calls friends. She says "what are you grateful for?" Sometimes it helps to think that way, but yeah, sometimes it's just sad.

*SB Alert*
I've decided I hate the SB and won't do it anymore. It's upped the level of Genius to actual Genius and that just annoys me.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

thought 5A SEAT (Run for it!) was the worst fill.

Palette Station 10:47 AM  


Banya 10:48 AM  

I hate the entire grid filled in with White Black in the rebus section. Took me an extra 5 or so minutes to figure out that I was supposed to type in Gray.

Ernonymous 10:48 AM  

@emcl I also found it irritating. The exclamation point makes it seem like a command. The exclamation makes it seem like someone is speaking and ordering someone else to do something. I think without the exclamation mark it would have made more sense. I got stuck there because I don't know my Bible relatives.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

@Z For the record, I've never thought you were on a funny or interesting wavelength. If, as a generous reading might allow, you're saying that what you and Jeff find interesting or funny are on different wavelengths, I'd say fair enough. But why bother the board with it?

egsforbreakfast 10:51 AM  

@ Barbara S, 9:54. I hope and trust that the fraction of your age that has resulted from decades of applying Olay products is < 1.

I can’t talk SILT about this puzzle, although I don’t think the theme works perfectly, particularly in this BLM reappraisal passage that I hope most of us are thinking deeply about. The theme didn’t need to use gray at all, and it doesn’t even really make sense when the App substitutes it in. If the revealer had been something more akin to “Unequivocal” or “Well-defined”, the rebus squares would have made sense both in terms of the revealer and in the context of their individual clues. This is probably gibberish, but it’s my gibberish.

Nancy 10:51 AM  

@Myuen88 (12:44)-- I assume you understood and solved the black/white/gray rebus but then didn't know what exactly to put in the squares. So what if you didn't get the Happy Music or the Happy Pencil or whatever the heck it is that online solving apps provide to indicate success? You solved the puzzle and you know that you solved the puzzle. That's all that matters. If you're nurturing a streak, consider it unbroken.

(I solve on paper and never have to deal with such nonsense.)

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

And it's Thursday

Crimson Devil 11:05 AM  

Quite agree.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

I agree. Bad clues result in disappointment, to say the least.
But what does “plane” have to do with “starter course”?
Please, please explain it clearly.

RexNotRex 11:14 AM  

One of the best parts of a rebus is to hunt them down, so seeing the grayed out squares made this far too easy. I get that the gray squares represent black and white, but it takes all the challenge out of the puzzle. Boo. Looking forward to the days when I can visit a blind pig again.

Unknown 11:17 AM  

Agreed. How is this clue legit. I think its a typo. A ? might have been proper.

JC66 11:20 AM  

@Anon 11:06

53D Starter course = PLAN A

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Dismayed. Finally got all the rebus answers on a Thursday but put "white black" in the square. Put "gray" in a gray square? Not fair! - newbie
P.S. Eye and rhyme took me forever to puzzle out but I finally understood it. Don't feel bad, August West and spouse - today I had to figure it out all over again!

GILL I. 11:33 AM  

Well this was kinda easy. I know my EGG [whites] and I've heard of the [black] PANTHERS so lookit that...it's a black and white thing. I wasn't around the USofA during the Panthers beginnings but I do remember that Huey Newton fled to Cuba after he was accused of murdering a young prostitute. He finally got tired of eating black beans and came back. Can't remember what happened to him then.
I think I may have heard the word BLIND PIG in "Once Upon a Time in America." I loved that movie. I think there's a tiger as well.
My only (flinch) was finding a SEAT and I really wanted a foul mouth to be smut. ALICE took care of that.
TELLING A [WHITE] LIE is sweet. You never want to tell someone they look fat. Much better to ask if they've lost weight.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  


@Anon 11:06

53D Starter course = PLAN A

I always thought it was SALAD. except, from what I here, in Europe where it's traditionally last.

JC66 11:43 AM  

@Anon 11:38

Yeah, just one of many of this puzzle's misdirects.

Whatsername 11:57 AM  

@okanaganer (1:06) Same here with my public library. One day when picking up reserved items at the drive-up window, I realized I had mistakenly requested an audiobook instead of the print version and tried to hand it back to the attendant but he wouldn’t take it. Even though I had barely touched it and was wearing disposable gloves, it had to go back in the returns bin to be disinfected again. If we ever get back to normal life, I don’t think I’ll ever take such simple things for granted again.

@Hungry Mother (7:34) Happy anniversary! Wishing you many more happy years together.

@Barbara S (9:54) Yes, the RAIL is the raised edge around the billiard table. And I totally believe you about the benefits of OLAY. You’ve never looked better. 😉

@Nancy (10:20) Nope, never heard of blind pig/speakeasy either. Cool story about Gene SHALIT. I can still see the dazzling smile under that ‘stache.

Steve 11:58 AM  

Same boat. Horrid clue.

sixtyni yogini 12:07 PM  

I liked it. 😎
Haha but didn’t get to hear the happy finish music b/c I left the black/white squares blank... and they had even turned grey!! Boohoo.

bauskern 12:13 PM  

Any puz that mentions the BLACKPANTHERPARTY is a winner in my book. Where are they today?

ghkozen 12:19 PM  

The type of exhortation clue used on SEAT makes me fantasize about someday going to Will Shortz’s funeral and desecrating his remains.

Unknown 12:28 PM  

Long time lurker that had to comment after a DNF because the app did not recognize four WHITEs or four BLACKs in the theme squares as completing the puzzle. I had to go back and enter four GRAYs.

How is that acceptable?

jberg 12:28 PM  

It was fine, the theme was fun. I started off with EGGs, figuring maybe that S would come back out at 67. But that gave me s-HOLE, and the penny dropped.

52A is also an either/or: fish or SHOE SHOP?

According to Dictionary.com, TREPID was first used in 1640. My guess is that it was last used in 1650, but hey, it's a crossword.

I'll be back, gotta go get a shingles shot.

What? 12:33 PM  

A bit better without the ! but not much

What? 12:34 PM  

It’s PLAN A , not PLANE

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

I filled in all as BLACK/WHITE and it accepted it. So apparently it doesn’t matter.

Swagomatic 1:09 PM  

I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what to type in the rebus squares. I enjoyed the puzzle, but fussing with the app was pretty frustrating.

Teedmn 1:26 PM  

PLAN A, har, I was wondering why the word PLANA (flat in Spanish) was the answer to "Starter course?" The clue definitely deserved its ?.

Silly writeovers today - I have purple Irises in my yard so that went in at 46A first. My sister-in-law's sister is named IONE, now I know what it means.

And I can't think of white lies unless you call them LITTLE so I tried fitting that in at 56A, to no avail.

I liked this puzzle and the rebus is a sweet little birthday present to me! Thanks, Derek and Jeff.

Ethan Taliesin 1:28 PM  

Good thing 5D was SILT not SELT.

Donna 1:31 PM  

On January 8, 2020, I posted a blog on the word, "gruntled." (I do not know how to make the link hot in this comment section.) https://donnadprescott.blogspot.com/2020/01/gruntled.html.

jazzmanchgo 1:50 PM  

@Harryp -- There was also a group called the White Panthers, an anti-racist street radical organization founded in Detroit by John Sinclair in 1968, two years after the Black Panthers were formed.

mathgent 2:00 PM  

@jberg (12:28) Loved your line about TREPID.

I don’t like the clue for SEAT either but it’s equivalent to “Something you run for“ so it’s fair.

I would have enjoyed it more without the gray squares. Then GRAY/AREA would have been a kick. I think that Nancy has already said the same thing.

Masked and Anonymous 2:03 PM  

This ThursPuz was plumb full of good S??T.

Cute (symmetric(al)!) rebus mcguffin, lotsa feisty clues, and some new stuff like BLINDPIG to learn. There's yer rodeo.

Mighty interestin, that all the official M&A Help Desk dictionary says about BLINDPIG is: "another term for BLIND TIGER". I guess it's kinda a gray area …

Liked seein LOISLANE and also her clue [referencin DC Comics, I reckon]. Super, man.
And ANNERICE is always nice, too boot. Gives yer puz some extra bite.

SHOESHOP? har. Desperation! Sweet. Bring it, Shortzmeister.

staff weeject pick: SML. Clearly standin for: Sweat/Muscle/Long-sleeved.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Derek and Xwordinfo dudes. Luved yer all-goth color scheme.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Ernonymous 2:08 PM  

@unknown I had the same thought after I typed my response. Run for it? Makes more sense with SEAT answer than Run For It!

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

also agree,, it is thursday.

Geezer 2:12 PM  

For all of the above reasons and more I don't want to waste time typing, this was really a horrid crossword.

Ernonymous 2:14 PM  

@anonymous 10:51 For the record, I've never thought your obsession with everything Z posts is interesting to anyone. Why bother the board with it?

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

Just for Jberg

Sacred Principles, Services, and Soliloquies, a 1650 book of devotions by William Brough: “Trembling, and chilnesse, and confusion in the powers of action … a stupid, trepid, troubled motion.”

Unknown 2:34 PM  


Lewis 2:48 PM  

@teedmn -- Happy birthday!

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

You dint think z's clumsy sentence was worthy of comment? You sound fun.

JC66 3:08 PM  


What @Lewis said -- Happy birthday!

jberg 3:28 PM  

Thanks, @anon 2:14 PM. The 17th Century seems to have been big on that type of thing. Milton's Lycidas contains both

"Where thou perhaps under the WHELMING tide
Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world,"


"Look homeward Angel now, and melt with RUTH;
And, O ye dolphins, waft the hapless youth."

Both terms mentioned in today's comments.

@Nancy, I don't use many of the apps, but many of those who do want to build up their statistics, so they care about the happy pencil. I won't give a name, but a constructor once admitted to me that they had solved their own puzzle, because they had a streak going. (Using the singular they to preserve anonymity.) It seems silly at first; but I felt that way when my nutritionist suggested I put a check mark on my wall calendar every day I walked 10,000 steps. It's surprisingly motivating.

I took Run for it! in the spirit of the aftermath of the Women's March of 2017, where activists unhappy with the 2016 results were encouraged to run for it themselves. Many did, to great effect.

okanaganer 3:31 PM  

[SB alert -- Spelling Bee

Okay NYT, you need to get your data straight. Today, you refuse to accept ALOP as a word. According to xwordinfo.com, your Crossword has used it in the grid... get this... 239 times!!!

Usmcrgreg 3:42 PM  

I think you could put anything in the gray squares on the app and you’re good. I had BLACK/WHITE for most and only WHITE for one and it accepted it.

JC66 3:44 PM  

****SB ALERT****


If you expect the inclusions and/or the exclusions will make sense, you'll be disappointed most every day.

pmdm 3:48 PM  

Donna: As Z has previously explained (I think a number of times), you use the same syntax as you do in HTML [I'm not chiding you, just highlighting that the meaning and execution of the sentence just below the "Leave your comment" box is not obvious to many.)

So you would enter thus.

If you can read this you've made an error.

A bit more time consuming. I hope I typed it correctly.

iis called a tag in HTML and each tag must be closed with a corresponding close tag, in this case . In the above The text between the and tags is arbitrary. If it displays after clicking the link normally there is an error.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

You run for a seat. You don't run for a seat!!!!!! (unless you're playing musical chairs)

Kickin' Some Ass & Takin' Some Names 3:59 PM  

Okay. I say let's get the exclamation point at the end of that clue for SEAT, take it out back, and beat the snot out of it.

Who's with me?

Carola 4:08 PM  

A fun one to solve. I enjoyed the solid theme answers and the bonus of the BLIND PIG and nice nod to Harry Potter with the crossing of Argus FILCH (Hogwarts caretaker) with the Muggles FANSITE. I'd have said that the rebus was too easy, except that coming here I see that I had a conceptual DNF, having failed to recognize the GRAY squares that were staring me in the face and instead drawing a diagonal line and coloring in BLACK and WHITE AREAS.

Re: "Run for it!" = SEAT - As I was reading the comments objecting to this clue-and-answer pair, I was wondering if there were a term for this sort of misdirection, so a tip of the hat to @ghkozen 12:19 for "exhortation clue." I wish I had the right linguistic tools to talk about this, but I think the clue depends on having the exclamation mark, so that the solver reads it as meaning, "Danger! We've got to get out of here fast!" - there's no actual "it" being referred to. The trick in the clue relies on changing the meaning of both "run" and "it," which becomes an actual thing. I remember my first encounter with this sort of clue: "Beat it!" - 4 letters. Well, "Beat it!" means "Get out of here!", so you might think, "Shoo!" or "Scat," but the answer was "drum."

kitshef 4:10 PM  

@Teedmn - Many happy returns of the day.

@Kickin&#39 - I'm with you, but why stop at the '!'? Let's rough up the whole clue.

JC66 4:30 PM  


Email me and I'll send you my Embedding Cheat Sheet.

Z 4:38 PM  

That poor !, friendless and alone. Personally, I think it perfectly apt. Running for a SEAT always involves hyperbole so, of course, it should be, “Run for it!”

@burtonkd - I’m not with Rex on this, but it seems to me that he’s complaining about the “TELLING A” part of the answer.

@Sir Hillary - I had the same thought. Add an apostrophe and make it GOONIN’ and I think it might be the longest dook.

I solved in the paper, so had no “what’s the ‘right’ thing to enter” problem, but I can think of no good reason to require GRAY in the rebus square. That WHITE and BLACK make GRAY is a visual pun of sorts, I guess, but I wouldn’t call that a “good” reason. That the revealer is GRAY AREA is a hint, I guess, but those squares are already GRAY in the puzzle, so leaving them blank( what I did) makes as much sense as entering GRAY. I did the AVCX meta this week, and it makes much better use of the gray (foggy) squares in my humble opinion.

@giovanni - Please don’t leave out any 🧀.

pmdm 4:38 PM  

OK. I botched it above. With typos also. Sorry, Donna. Here is what you need to enter.

First enter the "a tag" and include the reference to the URL of the site you want to link to. Observe the space after the "a" character.

<a href="https://donnadprescott.blogspot.com/2020/01/gruntled.html.>

Then enter whatever text you want . Normally you write a description of what you will visit.

Then finish the line with a "close a tag" (same as the "a tag" but a "/" character precedes the letter "a".)

Perhaps it's easier to search for "a tag html" and find an example.

By the way, your link seems to point to nowhere.

Kickin' Some Ass & Takin' Some Names 4:47 PM  

@kitshef Sure. Why not? Meet you by the tool shed.

We won't wait for @Z. 😉

Xcentric 4:51 PM  

Ditto what Lewis (6:42) said.
Add me to those with rebus woes on the app - 4 tries and finally got it right by putting across first and then a slash - gee whiz NYT, publish a style manual for the darned rebuses already.
Add me to the ruth and gruntle crowd. Should make a list of these hardly ever used words.
Really liked run for it - seat in this election season. I would be gruntled if more folks with ruth would be less trepid and run for it.
A fun solve with some nice ahas.

Anonymous 5:06 PM  

Musical chairs?

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

35D: "Is allowed to, quaintly." No. (You) are allowed to = (Thou) CANST. If you're going to show off your archaic English, get it right.

Ernonymous 5:11 PM  

@anonymous 2:58 No, I dint.
In your obsessive daily ritual/hobby to find something in Z's posts, anything, to troll over, that sentence really wasn't worthy of your time. When going through his comments with a fine tooth comb to see if you can make an issue out of something, you need to have more patience. Wait for a real gaffe, so it doesn't seem so obvious that you have nothing better to do with your life.

Ernonymous 5:13 PM  

@Z what is that, cheese? Cake? You're no Frantic Sloth!

Linguista 5:50 PM  

Love rebus puzzles. Favorite, LoisLane

Anoa Bob 5:53 PM  

There are lots of ways to clue 43D OTHELLO, so when I saw that its clue was connected to the theme I checked out how its symmetrical partner 8D THERMOS would also be given a theme related clue. It wasn't. Makes me think that OTHELLO was already in place and not originally part of the theme and was clued as black and white game pieces as an after thought. Has kind of a thrown-in-at-the-last-moment feel to it. Since THERMOS is clued in a non-theme way, I think it would have been WISE to clue OTHELLO in a non-theme way also.

One of the more flamboyant modern professional poker players is Phil IVEY (57D). At one time he had his own private jet that he would use to fly pretty much anywhere in the world to play in super high stakes poker games. Last I heard, he busted the bank at a Las Vegas casino but was later charged with some game irregularities. He may have used one of the oldest cheats in poker, a marked deck. Don't know how that turned out.

I nominate 10 Down GOONIN for today's DOOK award.

Pdxrains 6:18 PM  

Purloin / filch. Yeesh, really stretching my vocab of archeaic English.

Pamela 6:20 PM  

@Z FWIW, I enjoy reading your posts. I don’t often have anything specific to say about them, but just thought I’d like to let you know they are appreciated.

I solve on the iPad too, using the NYT Crossword app. When I got the first set of themers, I entered WHITE/BLACK in the grey square. For the rest, I got lazier and put in W/B or B/W, with the first letter whichever one was appropriate for the Across answer. When done I got the happy music, but the letters didn’t turn to GRAY.


Not so much fun when there are so many words to get. I lose interest after a while. Today is like that too. Not surprised that I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Frantic Sloth 6:37 PM  

@Z Thank you for your efforts. Knew I could count on you! ☺️

@Giovanni 513pm I think it's cheese...as in for the trap. Like a rat trap.
And 'tis true - @Z is no Frantic Sloth (for which he should [probably does] give boundless thanks) and I am certainly no @Z!

Vote way up for GOONIN' for DOOK o' the Day!

Did I tell y'all that I won the lottery? Nah! Just GOONIN' ya!

SBpianist 6:59 PM  

You are not alone.

Frantic Sloth 7:08 PM  

**SB Alert**

For those of you who are starting the smell the putrid odor of disenchantment, feel free to join the Shun Club with me and @JD.
We also offer playing without investment for those who need to wean.

All are welcome!

Why does this post smack of a "want some candy, little girl?" vibe to me??

Frantic Sloth 7:17 PM  

Dang it! Forgot to wish some pleasantries!

Happy Anni to @Hungry Mother and your lucky partner! 👰 🎩 💒 🥂

Happy Birthday to @Teedmn! 🎂🎈🎊 🎉

sasses 8:11 PM  

Enjoyed a crossword puzzle with only two vaguely sports-related clues!

MartyS 8:27 PM  

Covering “black” in Black Panthers with “white” just struck me as a little tone deaf right now...

JD 8:59 PM  

@Frantic, Good to know I'm in pleasant company. SBShunners Anon will meet in the church basement sometime in the distant future.

Azzurro 9:01 PM  

I guessed right but came here looking for N explanation. I get it now, sort of, but can’t say I like it.

RooMonster 9:21 PM  

@Frantic & @JD
I just try for Genius now, and see if I can get more words without shooting for QB. If it happens, Yay! If not, no biggie.

RooMonster In The Fourth Or Fifth Stage Of SB Guy

Linda Newman 11:07 PM  

I entered the rebus squares as white/black or black/white (across then down) as called for by the clues and that seemed to work.

Hartley70 11:40 PM  

Happy Birthday, @Teedman!

and Happy Anniversary to @HungryMother and partner!

Pamela 11:46 PM  


@Roo. I’m doing the same thing. Getting to Genius is interesting, beyond that a slog. Especially lately.

As for you SBSHUNNERS, to each his own.

CVB 11:59 PM  

I like little white lies as clued

Dave S 3:45 AM  

Useful, since I'm new to online entering and had to figure out how to put rebuses in. Maddening, because I had seat for "run for it!" and for some reason couldn't see how it was right. And I was getting an incomplete message because I actually hadn't yet figured out how to put rebuses into the squares online, so i figured it had to be wrong somehow.

Glad it's Friday now and the actual paper will show up on my doorstep.

Dave S 3:48 AM  

Oh, yeah, and I hope "trepid' forgets to be chalant sometime and falls off a cliff.

Declanmcman 6:40 AM  

What do you all think the root word of trepidation is?

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

And yeah, how about that BOCC"I"? There was a BOCCE just last week too I think.

Burma Shave 10:49 AM  


Perry WHITE was SO shaming, “ONE acorn for a BLINDPIG.”


spacecraft 11:38 AM  

The ink is black, the page is white;
Together we learn to read and write:
A beautiful sight!

I thought that was a bit of 3 Dog Night lyric we could all use about now.

On to the puzzle. The solve wasn't terribly easy because there was a lot I never heard of. I know many sobriquets for the USMARINES, but "Devil dogs" was not among them. And "BLINDPIG??" That's a strange one. I'd love to know the etymology of that puppy. Sounds like meaningless code--like these new ads for Fruit Bowls. "What the fruit bowl?!"

The theme provided a medium-strength aha! moment, and things eased up after that. The fill is Chen-level tricky in spots, one of which held me up quite a bit. I had TireS for the things that might help you get a grip.

Yes, the ampersandwich--the most often used one, so it suffers doubly: on its own [de]merit and for overuse--bothered me, but not much else did. DOD candidates abound, though I will never crown any Kardashian. (Knew that one, only because virtually all ARMENIAN names END in -ian). IONE Skye and of course, Teri Hatcher as LOISLANE deserve very honorable mention, but in keeping with today's theme, I nominate ALICE Walker. Birdie.

Anonymous 1:50 PM  

Easy enough puzzle, ruined by a rebus that stunk.

thefogman 3:25 PM  

Cool gimmick. Almost got stumped at the SILT/SEAT crossing. That really gave the GRAY matter a work out...

rondo 4:26 PM  

Other than the BLACK/WHITE thing not being consistent with across/down it was pretty easy to figure out. ONE shade of GRAY. I could be wrong, but doesn't SALMA Hayek have a couple of Golden Globes? Time for me to LEAVE.

leftcoaster 4:56 PM  

Got the gimmick at EGG WHITE and BLACK HOLE. Had trouble with BLIND PIG and FAN SITE. Thought Jeff and Derek played a bit fast and loose with the PPPs. So GRAY AREA is the revealer? Okay, I guess so.

Diana, LIW 8:19 PM  

After all that - after getting the "trick" right away - after getting the puzzle., ha ha ha ha ha on me. My GRAY AREA was a TRAY OREA - not to be confused with an OREO. As I said. ha ha ha ha ha

Diana, The laughing Lady-in-Waiting

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