Altiplano locale / THU 9-24-20 / Supermodel born Melissa Miller / Enthusiastic flamenco cry

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Medium (6:43, first thing in the a.m.) (grid is oversized, 16x)

THEME: SPELLED OUT (63A: Explained in great detail ... or what four of this puzzle's clues are?) — if you *sound* out the the clue, it spells a word ... and *that* is your clue. Thus:

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Kay, e.g. = K, E, G = [Keg] = BEER BARREL
  • 22A: Elle, e.g. = L, E, G = [Leg] = DRUMSTICK
  • 38A: Pea, e.g. = P, E, G = [Peg] = CRIBBAGE MARKER
  • 57A: Bee, e.g. = B, E, G = [Beg] = PANHANDLE
Word of the Day: Roger TANEY (66A: Roger ___, second-longest-serving chief justice of the Supreme Court) —
Roger Brooke Taney (/ˈtɔːni/; March 17, 1777 – October 12, 1864) was the fifth Chief Justice of the United States, holding that office from 1836 until his death in 1864. He delivered the majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), ruling that African-Americans could not be considered citizens and that Congress could not prohibit slavery in the territories of the United States. Prior to joining the Supreme Court, Taney served as the United States Attorney General and United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Andrew Jackson. (wikipedia) (emph. mine)
• • •

We really got the Dred Scott guy (TANEY) in the puzzle the day after the Breonna Taylor decision? I mean, on any day he's unwelcome, but today, especially, yikes. 

This is a perfectly acceptable Thursday puzzle that left me perfectly cold. Well, not cold, exactly. Just unmoved. Unexcited. Felt like work. Not much to fault in the concept though. Gotta do some word / letter-play to reimagine the clue, and then it's just straightforward from there. The whole set-up has a very familiar, very traditional "punny" vibe to it. I definitely had an "aha" moment at some point, though I don't remember when it came. I could see that the clue words sounded like letters very early on, but I didn't put it all together until ... actually, probably CRIBBAGE MARKER. I reasoned backward to [Peg] and then saw what was going on with all the theme clues. By that point I had most of three themers filled in. And then I got PANHANDLE without really thinking about the clue (crosses took care of things). Something about the revealer seems off to me. The clues are only SPELLED OUT if you *sound* them out. You have to say them. There's just ... a step left off. I see that there's a "?" on all the themers, so maybe that's the "we left a step off" indicator today, and it's not too hard to figure out what you had to do to make the clues work, but something about sound / speaking being left out of the explanation made it seem inadequate. Definitely contributed to a feeling of anticlimax. But, again, this is very much in keeping, quality-wise and excitement-wise, with the long history of NYTXW Thursdays that have come before it. Right over the plate.

Had a bunch of missteps today. Blanked completely on GAUSS, even with -USS in place (53D: Magnetic induction unit). I knew I'd seen it, but it was getting mixed up in my head with, I don't know, GNEISS, maybe? SCHUSS? Just couldn't find the handle (ironic, as the answer literally crosses "-HANDLE"). Wrote O'BRIEN before O'BRIAN (35D: Novelist Patrick who wrote "Master and Commander"). Spelled LOUIE like that (15A: One whose charges are sarges). No idea who DEB Fischer is (25A: Nebraska senator Fischer). Probably some horrible (R) ... oh yeah, a Kavanaugh-supporting woman, super. Most of the other names were pretty crosswordesey, so I didn't have as much trouble. EDIE, EMME, EVA ... even PROKEDS and LESPAUL felt straight out of crossword central casting. That TANEY / LEN cross was potentially Natick territory for people. I couldn't be less interested in "Dancing with the Stars" if I tried (64D: "Dancing With the Stars" judge Goodman), and that's probably true of lots of NYTXW solvers, and then TANEY ... he's not exactly current. I think "E" is the only good guess there, but still, crossing non-household names at vowel, not normally advised. Embarrassed it took me as long as it did to get MARS (4D: Land of Opportunity?), CHASE (9D: Go after) (I had ENSUE!?), and ADIEU (62A: Closing bid?), which, weirdly, is probably my favorite clue in the puzzle. The misdirection phrase is perfect, and the wordplay all seems exactly right (you "bid" someone ADIEU when you "close" the conversation with them. Nice. The rest, as I say, was just OK for me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


ncmathsadist 6:36 AM  

Where does the 'G' come from in the theme? I don't get it at all. Theme answers were just "letter eaters."

Harryp 6:37 AM  

I got the grid filled out, and new KEG, LEG, PEG, AND BEG, but still didn't see that the e.g. was used to get those finished, so DNF on the Theme! Very devious!

Dave 6:42 AM  

One of those times where I solved it then went to Rex to have it explained to me

Mr. Cheese 6:44 AM  

Please explain: MARS = Land of Opportunity

Colin 6:57 AM  

Definitely got Natick'd on TANEY/LEN. It didn't help that I had another cross spelled as CALIX.

Lewis 7:02 AM  

A bit of a different experience than Rex had...

Yesterday was a meander, today was a crawl. Just filling in the grid, with vague and devilish cluing combined with things I didn’t know, not to mention facing theme answers whose clues were opaque -- that is, throwing guesses at the wall to see if they stick (some did, some didn’t), waiting for memory to retrieve bits lying in fallow, revisiting clues in hopes of a aha flash.

Then, finally, after filling the whole thing out, working to crack the theme. I knew right from the start that the theme clues were letters spelled out, so the reveal didn’t tell me anything new. Then, after much face and brain scrunching, I got a big aha, seeing KEG, LEG, PEG, and BEG, but there was a nagging wondering, “Is that it? Is that the whole thing? Am I missing something? And why the “e.g.?” Then, finally, finally, the scales fell off my eyes and I fully saw the “e.g.”, and what was a growing irritation turned into an “oh”, followed by an “ooh”, then a “wow!”, then a “WOW!”

This was, from beginning to end, a multi-level, slow-to-open uncovering, leading to a grok-splosion. All in all, one of those super-figuring-out solves that I call a CRACKEN.

That is, the perfect Thursday. Trenton – bravo, whew, and a huge thank you!

Hungry Mother 7:05 AM  

Couldn’t get TANEY, even with several guesses. My bad. I did figure out the theme, but failed the puzzle.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

I had no idea what the theme was while solving ... absolutely none. It took a good five minutes after the fact to get there. Really fun idea, and I feel like I should have loved this puzzle for the trick.

But …

I hate it when every time I start to gain traction, I run into an unknown name. DEB, EMME, OBRIAN (Oh! I’m just now seeing that’s probably O’BRIAN. I was pronouncing to rhyme with Adrian), LEN, MAYA. Not one of those is remotely familiar, so needed basically every cross.

For reasons I can’t explain, I’m OK when that happens with new vocabulary words. But not names.

Unknown 7:22 AM  

Second day in a row I had to work hard until I figured out the theme, then got a terrific AHA. Clues were fine but nothing exciting but really enjoyed the puzzle.

Hoboken Mike 7:22 AM  

Unless you just want to be mad don't think of Roger as the Dred Scott guy today. Think of him as the In Re Merriman guy where he ruled the president could not suspend the rid of habeas corpus without Congressional approval. To put it in English no detentions without cause or explanation.

Lincoln was such a great president that we forget that sometimes even he overreached. I just hope John Roberts does as well as Roger did that one time when the situation called for it.

Unknown 7:22 AM  

"Opportunity" was the name of a Mars rover, defunct since 2018

TokyoRacer 7:22 AM  

Mr. Cheese: Opportunity was a Mars rover.

The problem with the theme, which I didn't understand at all, even after finishing the whole thing, is that "e.g." means "for example." So you've got Kay, for example, etc. I couldn't get beyond that, even with the "spelled out" hint. There's tricky, and then there's too tricky for its own good.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

@MR. Cheese - 'Opportunity' is the name of one of the rovers sent to Mars by NASA.

Hoboken Mike 7:26 AM  

Sorry my memory failed me at this hour. Just checked. It was actually Ex Parte Marryman.

The Ex Parte is crucial. It signifies a hearing where the person being heard isn't even there. the federal government couldn't be made to bring him to his hearing.

We should be remembering this right about now.

oceanjeremy 7:27 AM  

Total slog. The “Aha!” moment was ruined by the LEN / TANEY / LYNX frustration.

My fiancée finished the puzzle right before I started it and still hadn’t figured out what the theme was referring to. The most fun I had solving was when I SPELLED (it) OUT to her and saw how the genuine appreciation of the wordplay flash across her face.

She’s a quicker solver than myself, she usually knocks out a Thursday in well under 10, but clocked in at 30 minutes for this one.

I clocked in at... much longer. Embarrassingly longer.

Bill Hood 7:29 AM  

Opportunity was one of two Mars landers or rovers launched in 2003.

Joaquin 7:29 AM  

I came here intending to discuss at length this puzzle, but it turns out the best thing so far is Lewis' newly coined word - "grok-splosion". Love it!

Mike Herlihy 7:32 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gopman 7:33 AM  

Opportunity is the Mars NASA rover.

Jeff 7:34 AM  

The name of the river on Mars

ChuckD 7:34 AM  

I liked this one and agree with @Lewis - it’s the Thursday puzzle I look forward to. Did take me a lot of surrounding fill to figure out the theme but I did get the aha when I did. Contrary to Rex - thought the fill was pretty solid. Loved the Aristotle quote and the clues for MARS, ADIEU and AMOEBA. CRIBBAGE MARKER was a little odd - my mother used to play with her friends once a week but that was in the 60s so not sure today’s solver will be as familiar. COMPADRE and INK SAC are solid.

Very pleasant start to the day.

Kevin C. 7:36 AM  

@Mr Cheese: Mars is where the Opportunity Rover was sent to.

BR 7:37 AM  

@Dave Opportunity is a rover that landed on the planet Mars.
All, is the clue for “Midst” correct/complete.

razerx 7:40 AM  

Finished the puzzle and still didn’t get the theme.

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

That entire south central area naticked me: LEN, TANEY, LYNX CALYX. Sheesh, easy enough to fix.

jmiz 7:46 AM  

Isn’t that the Mars rover?

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

@Mr. Cheese:
Opportunity is the name of the Mars rover that cost the US taxpayer $400 million and traveled a mere 28 miles before it stopped sending data to NASA in 2018. Meanwhile, on Venus...

Wendy D 7:47 AM  

Finished the puzzle and I STILL do not understand the theme. came here to see if you would have an explanation but it eludes me. How is kay keg?

Jgrubb 7:51 AM  

That's referencing the Opportunity Rover ("Oppy") that was put on Mars.

Brian 7:53 AM  

Rover sent to the planet by NASA.

Jgrubb 7:54 AM  

Read the WHOLE clue out loud. I didn't get it until I came here, and even then it took a second. Include the "e.g." that you normally breeze right past.

Charles Flaster 7:59 AM  

Agree with Rex— had to work backwards to realize theme
and ADIEU was a fabulous mislead.
My father built CRIBBAGE boards in the early sixties but I never played.
Thanks TC

Beth77 8:01 AM  

It refers to the rover named Opportunity that explored Mars

Badria 8:05 AM  

Thank you for explaining the theme Rex, and thanks for being a social justice warrior. I appreciate you.

Small Town Blogger 8:11 AM  

The NASA Mars rover is called Opportunity.

mmorgan 8:13 AM  

I sorta kinda finished this (not counting a three-way Natick for me on LY—/TAN-/CAL—) but had absolutely no idea how the theme answers were connected to the clues. Now I see, thanks Rex. Okay, cool, that’s clever, but I wish I’d understood what was going on while I was solving.

SethC 8:14 AM

Dan Felsenheld 8:14 AM  

@Mr Cheese - Opportunity is the name of one of the Mars Rovers that NASA sent.

David Fabish 8:17 AM  

@Mr. Cheese: Mars is the land of Opportunity because the Opportunity rover explored Mars. 😊

I completely agree with Rex on this one. Perfectly fine, but not really a fun solve.

Frantic Sloth 8:18 AM  

I saw the clue for 1A and the highlighted boxes and my heart sank. Then I said to myself "now, hold on a don't know this going to be [my worst Xword nightmare] a looky-loo quote puzzle. Cool your jets and chillax."

And you know? It worked! But not because of some masterly mind control techniques. This puzzle grabbed my attention with gusto and held it all the way through.

Even though I caught on at BEERBARREL, the rest of the themers were so sharp and fresh it didn't matter that it was easy. DRUMSTICK, CRIBBAGEMARKER, PANHANDLE (Hi, @Z!), and all SPELLEDOUT.

And look! There's my favorite spelling of AMOEBA! Is there anything (other than the sullen otter) sadder than the O-less ameba? Well, probably, but so what? It's a pathetic little spelling. IMHOPancakes.

I still needed crosses for some of the fill, like TANEY and GAUSS, and to a lesser degree RIOJA. But, nothing groan-inducing or even side-eye worthy. I might even say it sparkled here and there.

Well, except maybe one question: Do people still say WORD?

Oh! And I loved the clue for ADIEU (Closing bid?) and the aforementioned AMOEBA (blob on a slide).
Although the same could be said of me on a poolside water chute.

But I digress.

Auntie's reaction to my "gobsmacking" news:


Some recent SNL skits (for the doubters):
Dem. debates feat. Maya as Kamala


Moxer 8:21 AM  

I knew O’Brian but — like Rex — spelled it with an “e,” which resulted in “Geia,” which, obviously was wrong. I completed the puzzle but didn’t understand it until Rex explained the significance of the “eg.” Bottom line: Not much fun for me.

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

The capitalization of Opportunity is the key.

Josie Owens 8:22 AM  

The rover there is name Opportunity.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

Nine names (first or last) of people--ugh.

Pamela 8:26 AM  

Same here- long slow trudge, with many a misstep along the way:

Poof before PFFT
ADIos before ADIEU
kEpt , HoLD before HELD
GASSS before GAUSS?- Dang!

Loved the clue for 16D-makes obvious sense once I see the whole thing, but made me laugh when I got it.

Quite the misdirect, though. I immediately thought of the new Shih-Poo puppy my granddaughter and her husband just adopted-he’s tiny, only 3 or 4 pounds, a little shaggy, and looks like a gently used stuffed toy. His whole body shakes when he wags his tail, the cutest thing I ever saw.

Huge payoff at the end, when I finally got the e.g. part, after saying it out loud. Clev-ver!

Thanks, Trenton Charlson, I’ll remember you!

MRGold 8:27 AM  

Now that my daughter has moved to Cambridge, I have become quite familiar with Natick as I drive along I95 in MA. Still chuckle seeing it used as a verb. I remember the first time I got Naticked trying to come up with Natick way back when.

JennG 8:30 AM  

I solved it much faster than my usual time, but I had to come here to have the theme explained to me.

Adam Cooperman 8:33 AM  

The Opportunity rover is on Mars.

Adam Cooperman 8:34 AM  

I'm also not a fan of "eeny" clued with the rhyme given what the original version of the rhyme is. I'll let you Google it for yourself.

8:46 AM  

Me too.

8:47 AM  

The NASA rover named Opportunity is there

Swimmom190 8:50 AM  

Same here!

KnittyContessa 8:55 AM  

I don't know how I finished this so quickly. I had absolutely no idea what the theme was. I had to read Rex's explanation 3 times before I understood it.

GAIA, OBRIAN, GAUSS was tough. I knew GAIA from the exercise videos or I would have been running the alphabet. Thought that entire section was the toughest.

Dr. Haber 8:55 AM  

Yes , but since when do you refer to an entire planet as a land? Is this the land called Earth? I don’t think so.

TJS 9:01 AM  

Deb,Edie Emme,Gaia,Taney,OBrian,Eva,Gauss,Len,Les Paul. Blah.

Rube 9:17 AM  

Elegant thurs. Solid challenge. Fun trick that was not obvious but actually quite straightforward. If you didn't like this puzzle then you should find another pastime.

Ernonymous 9:21 AM  

I didn't finish in 2 places. While I know Len Goodman, the crusty old crank on Dancing With The Stars, CALYX, LYNX, TANEY screwed me up. I also had written in ADIEX for some insane reason which made GAUSS end in AXIS so I thought the magnet was like the X AXIS or any letter AXIS because another weak area for me is Greek, Roman and Egyptian gods and goddesses. GAIA could have easily been RAIA or NAIA or MAIA-which goes with the M (magnet) AXIS!

I'm starting to recognize constructors, and this is the guy who enjoys Scrabble letters. When I was stuck on LYNX, CALYX I should have remembered it was Scrabble Dude and tried a Z,X,Q,K,J in that spot. One of his puzzles messed me up previously in the same way, it was an X, and I made a mental note when I saw SD's name again to consider the X. Crossword Puzzle Rule #412: when running the alphabet, don't neglect poor old X.
But, alas, egad, throw me over a beer barrel, I forgot.

Sixthstone 9:25 AM  

Solid Thursday. Having BEER in the first themer always is a nice start. After BEERBARREL and DRUMSTICK, I grokked that the themers were letter+"eg" but didn't get the e.g. connection until very late. Nicely conceived and well-executed. Even if the fill is replete with crosswordese, there is very little bad stuff and some fun answers (COMPADRE, SORCERER, INKSAC). Tiny bit of scrabble f***ing with LYNX/CALYX, but offest by the fantastic clue (as Rex noted) for ADIEU!

Sixthstone 9:26 AM  

Everyone rejoice! No Sports and no superheros today!

pmdm 9:38 AM  

As usual with a Trenton puzzle, the PPP stopped me dead cold. As did the theme clues, although amazingly that did not stop me from getting the theme entries. Clues such as 33A really turn me off. This puzzle was aimed at a different type of solver than myself (and from some of the comments, I would guess it aimed away from a number of others who comment here). But why should I rant about a puzzle that is aimed at and liked by others (as indicated by some of the other comments)?

After understanding the gimmick (that, as I have said, I never figured out), I would say the construction is clever. Without the rest of the stuff that turned me off, I think I would have liked the puzzle quite a bit. But Trenton seemingly always wants to cram into the grid stuff I don't really like. To each, one's own. C'est le vie.

And please no more Opportunity comments.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

Theme was way too convoluted. Ridiculous.

Pete 9:44 AM  

@Mods - How about if someone asks a simple question (What does Opportunity have to do with Mars), you post the answer right away, so that the answer is there at the same time the question appears (at least in the same batch of approvals). That way we won't have 30 replies to a simple question.

57stratocaster 9:50 AM  

Not as fun a Thursday as I always hope for. But I agree with Lewis, as usual.

Not a big deal, but re the Mars Rover clue, if someone asks for an explanation and 10 people give it, I probably don't need to be the eleventh. Just sayin'.

Great clue "Shake a tail".

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

boy, beating MARS to death in the comments! and I automagically put in Moon first. and I just loved "The Martian". saw it in an unheated theater on Block Island in late October.

does anyone play CRIBBAGE any more? last one I knew was my Grand Pappy decades ago.

the traditional spelling is GAeA

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

The clue is Kay, e.g.
Just read (sound out) the letters

Canon Chasuble 10:02 AM  

Well, at least in the days of Maleska one didn’t have to crawl through a thicket of proper names of a dozen nonentities to solve a puzzle.
Oh, and Roger Taney was the brother-in-law of Francis Scott Key. But thereby hangs another, and slightly more sordid tale.

EdFromHackensack 10:05 AM  

No idea what the theme was. Finished with one error CALeX/TANEe. I’ll take it as I was confused the whole way.

Z 10:08 AM  

This one landed right in my GetOffaMyLawn sweet spot. The whole “letters spelt out” thing is a trite crossword trope that’s clever for a little bit, and then gets just a little wearisome. Add to that that the clue punctuation fails the theme and my inner old man just sat here and grumbled at the entire enterprise. DEE and EMME were bonus GOML moments. Where @Lewis had a grokspolsion I just heaved a mighty meh. I can see why people like this puzzle, but just a cuppa lukewarm joe here.

@Hoboken Mike - Talk about putting lipstick on a pig. I grant that doing the right thing for the wrong reason is still doing the right thing, but that hardly absolves TANEY.

@Sixthstone 9:26 - Maybe you missed the clues for LYNX and PLACE?

@ncmathsadist - I don’t think anyone has explicitly answered your question yet. The “G” comes from the “e.g.” in the clue. So “Kay, e.g.” is meant to be understood as “k-e-g” and SPELLED OUT clue BEER BARREL.

Anyone know anything about Opportunity?

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Mr. Cheese-Opportunity was the name of NASA's rover which tooled around the Red Planet. A nifty vehicle.

Carola 10:11 AM  

Clue of the Day for me: 46D: "Thick," with the answer being "dense," as in thick-headed. Even though I guessed right away that we were talking about K, L, P, and B, I overlooked the "e.g." so spent a lo-o-o-ng time brain-racking after the grid was filled until I got it. How hard was it to find 4 alphabet letters that can be rendered as words and that can also work as the first letter in "_eg"? No idea, but I'm agog.

Loved: the parallel BAD VIBE and "TRUST ME!" Do-overs due to vowel trouble: O'BRIeN, GAeA, MISSeL. Tip of the hat to whatever mysterious forces allowed me to come come up with TANEY x CALYX.

@Trenton Charlson, I thought this was a terrific puzzler. Thanks for an invigorating start to my Thursday.

mathgent 10:16 AM  

I was almost finished. I had the four themers, noticing that an EG had been added to the pronounced letter in the clues. 63A promised to be the revealer but it didn’t seem to be a word containing EG. It wasn’t. It was SPELLEDOUT. What?

So then it became a meta. Where are we told that EG has been added to the four clues? It didn’t hit me right away, but then I saw the four “e.g.”‘ ‘s in the clues. Right under my nose. Brilliant!

I found it wildly entertaining. 18 red plus signs in the margin, very high for a Thursday. Very clever cluing for LIE, STATES, ADIEU, MARS, MIDST. Excellent variety of entries. No real junk.

LESPAUL reminded me of the wonderful records he did with Mary Ford. I’m guessing they were done in the fifties. He would layer several tracks of his guitar playing over her vocals in his studio. I think that this technique has been used a lot since then. The Beatles? Certainly ABBA.

Have I made it clear that it blew me away?

Ernonymous 10:20 AM  

@pete only 2 hours went by from when the question was asked to the last answer. It was around the time of day for sleeping/getting ready for work/driving to work hours so it can happen that mods were busy for those 2 hours. I can understand this can happen occasionally.

Z 10:22 AM  

@9:53 - The traditional spelling is Γαῖα. In English I think GAIA is still the more common transliteration, but you see GAeA quite a bit, which is why MIDST was one of my last answers in. Side-eye for that clue, too.

@Pete - Well, obviously, the mods hate us and are probably responsible for half the Opportunity comments themselves. 😱
Seriously, the multiple replies to a question phenomenon precedes the mods and is only mildly worsened by the approval delay. I mean, @10:08 answered the question even with eleventeen previous answers and multiple requests to stop already already posted.

Anyone else arch an eyebrow at the FORD clue. I know GM isn’t as big as it once was, but I still was a little surprised.

Joaquin 10:24 AM  

@Z asks, "Anyone know anything about Opportunity?"

Yes. It's a new candy bar from M&M Mars and it knocks twice - once on your gums and again on your colon.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Once again your profound ignorance of the law is on full display. You are simply out of your depth.
A grand jury is a prosecutorial tool, nothing more. It is not in any way a judicial decision. As for Roger Taney, actual legal scholars hold him in pretty high esteem. Check out James O'Hara's piece on the most respected jurists in SCOTUS history. Journal Of The Supreme Court History. 18 July, 2011.

JC66 10:26 AM  

I must take this Opportunity to point out that TANEY was all over the news this past weekend as the recently deceased Supreme Court Justice whom Lincoln wouldn't nominate a replacement for until after the upcoming presidential election.

Frantic Sloth 10:30 AM  

Question asked at 644am
18 answers by 817am
From 821am to 847am 4 more answers
Plus 4 call-outs at 938, 944, 950, and 953am
All capped at 1008am by yet another answer and @Z's wise-assery (of which I've been known to be a fan). Consider "heaved a mighty meh" stolen, dude.😉

I'll stop now.

Nancy 10:31 AM  

This is exactly the sort of puzzle that, many years ago, first sent me -- baffled beyond comprehension -- straight to this blog for an explanation. And now that I have that explanation today, I'm saying to myself: "Absolutely brilliant! Absolutely fiendish and absolutely brilliant!"

That is not, however, what I was saying to myself as I was filling in theme answers -- every one of which I found completely incomprehensible. What I was saying to myself cannot be printed on a Family Blog.

My experience of solving, therefore, was not much fun. More like an exercise in frustration, I'd say. But if I'd seen the trick early -- or even seen it at all -- oh, what terrific fun I would have had!

ulysses 10:33 AM  

I haven’t hated a puzzle this much in a long time. Had to come here to understand what was going on. Got Naticked at the 64D/66A. Got a DNF because of the GAEA vs GAIA. Really an unpleasant solve.

Frantic Sloth 10:41 AM  

@Joaquin 1024am The MARS Opportunity Bar wins the comments today! Although, it's early...
There is also a completely tasteless joke hidden in your response that even I wouldn't attempt.

Frantic Sloth 10:42 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
David 10:44 AM  

Being a history geek with a focus on our own history and, especially, our governance and constitution, I plopped in (Roger) Taney without hesitation. He wrote the 2nd worst, politically motivated, majority opinion in our history. The worst, most politically motivated decision was in 2000, Bush v Gore. But not to worry, there's even worse to come soon, thanks to our 40+ years of collectively ignoring our Constitutional duty to remain informed and active members of our community. Yay us!

I didn't get the theme after reading Rex' explanation of it 3 or 4 times. Then I finally figured out, "Oh, it's not sounding out the words, "k a y," it's using the clue word as the first letter and then adding the "e g" to it. That's mighty convoluted.

But, I finished in any case. When I had enough crosses I just shrugged my shoulders and filled in what, to me, were senseless answers. My only write over today was I had "close" for go after. That didn't last long. There seemed to be a largish amount of people and products I've never heard of in this one too. But, overall, it was solvable and kind of fun. I really liked the clue for, and answer to, Romanian; it's one of the Romance languages ignored in the States.


Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Easy, transparent theme and an alphabet run justice of the supreme court
Oh Joy

Z 10:46 AM  

@10:26 - Ah yes, the Ted Bundy was a quiet neighbor defense.

Whatsername 10:50 AM  

Very lukewarm on this. I spent about 15 minutes solving and another 15 minutes staring and trying to figure out WOE the theme was. Gave up to be dazzled and amazed by the revelation here and was quite miffed to see that the answer involved sounding out the clue. “Why was I quite miffed?” you might ask. Why because I had actually tried that very thing and here’s what I got:.

Kay, e.g. = Cagey (Clever, e.g.)
Elle, e.g = Elegy (Lament, e.g.)
Pea, e.g. = Peachy (Excellent, e.g.)
Bee, e.g. = Bee Gee (Trio, e.g.)

Not sure what Rex means by “I see that there's a "?" on all the themers, so maybe that's the ‘we left a step off’ indicator,” but there were no questions marks in either my printed copy or the app. A perfectly nice Thursday but might as well have been themeless. Oh well, good practice for tomorrow I suppose.


jberg 10:50 AM  

My wife and I stayed up late last night listening to jazz drummers, ending with the “Rich vs. Roach” album. I blame that as the reason it took me forever to realize that a DRUMSTICK could be a leg, rather than a piece of wood. I didn’t understand the theme until I got to CRIBBAGE MARKER— but had a great feeling of satisfaction when I did.

pabloinnh 10:57 AM  

I didn't think I was getting here that late and then I saw the number of comments, which seemed abnormally high, and then I found out about Mars, which I already knew, and pf which I am now thoroughly sick. There have been some suggestions to eliminate this particular annoyance and I sincerely hope one or more of them are followed. I mean, really.

As for the puzzle, it's my favorite kind, when I have everything filled in correctly and it still makes no sense and then you stop and think about it for a while and there's the aha! and you feel all clever and self-satisfied. This doesn't always happen--occasionally I get everything and still don't see what's going on, but today was not that day.

Also, cribbage is still played in these parts, and it's a wicked fun game. Used to play it during breaks when I had a summer job with the power company. Good times.

Thanks for the fun TC. Always enjoy your stuff.

Newboy 11:02 AM  

Today found me found me much like @frantic at the poolside: glaringly out of place though I should be enjoying this more. So many names filled with crosses, cryptic clues and other issues noted above. Any Thursday teaching humility is good, so a grudging thanks for this morning Mr. Charlson.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

What are you on about? Have you read the article? Are you an attorney as well? In what way was O'Hara's article akin to the madman described as a quite neighbor concept?

JOHN X 11:11 AM  

@Mr. Cheese 6:44 AM

"Opportunity" is the name of a robotic wheeled vehicle, called a "rover," that was sent to MARS some years back.

It's not as good as an aircraft carrier or a nuclear submarine, but I guess it's something.

RooMonster 11:11 AM  

Hey All !
Too many posts already to read before commenting. I do think @Mr Cheese 6:44 wins the "Most Replied To" Award. Opportunity, indeed.

So, apparently, Trenton isn't a Rex friend. Only reason why he took a dump on this puz. I thought it rather clever. First themer I figured out was PANHANDLE, and said, "Huh? How in blazes does that equal Bee, e.g.?" Kept solving, and eventually was able to twist the ole brain into seeing that they were all letters if read, ala Bee=B, then the Angelic-singing *Ahhhhhhhhh*, then Bam! Smacked in the head that the e.g. was part of the clue, equalling B-E-G, which equals PANHANDLE. Quickly checked the others themers, and then let out a hearty "Cool beans!"

So what started as a head scratcher, ended with neatness. Kudos, Trenton.

CRIBBAGE MARKER fun to see. Used to play CRIBBAGE quite a bit with a buddy at the bar we hung out at. Drinks and CRIBBAGE and a friend. Doesn't get much better than that. He's gone now, taken too young at 53. Miss ya, Big Nick!

A few writeovers, notably TonKa-TRIKE. Forgivable, that. LoveS-LENDS, too. Maybe that one not so forgivable!

Two F's (in a 16x15 grid)(At least I noticed that!)
LOOIE LOOIE, whoa oh, say we gotta go now

GILL I. 11:13 AM  

This didn't fancy my tickle. I wanted my ivories to shine; they did for a while but then you piled on too much tartar.
It wasn't that hard to see what Trenton was up to. The theme conceit was clever but like @kitshef, I come screaming to a pile-up of names - all in important spots - and I halt. Sometimes I don't mind since I can get up and water my plants. I suppose I should know my sepals and CALYX...that GAUSS is magnetic and that Aristotle ever uttered ANTIDOTE or that LYNX is a team somewhere in Minnesota. I didn't, I don't and I will never remember them again.
My one confusion of the theme answers was Elle. My understanding was that you take the first letter and then add the e.g. I wrote in KEG, PEG, BEG in my margin but when I got to Elle, e.g. I wrote in EEG. I couldn't figure the LEG part of that. Nevertheless, I was able to finally get the one part of the turkey I hate the most....DRUMSTICK.
Two nice smiles today: being reminded of how delicious a RIOJA is, how beautiful the region is as well. If you ever go, stop at Haro and visit some of the wineries and then go to Las Duelas for a delicious dinner.
My other smile was just a little one. I still have my Anglican MISSAL that my Godmother gave me just before my confirmation. It's small and has gold leaves. When I want to pray for this country, I'll open it up and try to find a little prayer that brings me some sort of hope...... One can always dream.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Mr. Cheese,

NASA loves to name their toys. Opportunity was one of the names of one of things they send to Mars. Those wags at the agency called it Oppy. In some internal ( maybe even external ) documents it's called MER-1 Or MER-B.
They lost her on SOL 511 (June 10, 2018) amid a massive Martian dust storm.

Malsdemare 11:29 AM  

Yeah, I'm just not up on any current names but!!! Last week, Kamala Harris did a fun online Interview with Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph. If you made a donation to the campaign, you got to sit in while the two comediennes threw questions to Harris and Hilary Clinton. The hour was fun, informative, and impressive. Harris will make mincemeat of Pence. But the eye opener was Hilary. She is damn funny, I mean standup comic funny. My daughters, grandaughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. And THAT'S why I knew MAYA Rudolph.

I fought for every single name but impressed myself with TANEY and OBRIAN. Of course, I had to read Rex to get the trick. Once I've done the puzzle, I don't have a lot of patience figuring out what fiendish device the puzzler was wielding. But I like it! Fun puzzle.

Now to see what y'all have to say.

egsforbreakfast 11:45 AM  

@Lewis exactly captured my experience with this puzzle. I have a friend who is a decent solver, but frequently stares at his completed grid and can’t figure out how the theme works. I haven’t had that experience in a long while, but I did today for about 10 minutes after I finished. I cycled through some pretty stupid explanations of how it might be working, all of which led to a “Shortz must go” type conclusion. Finally aha-ed and all was good again between Will and me.

@Nancy 10:31. Didn’t know this was a family blog. No more Scrabble f***ing I guess.

Speaking of Ares, there’s a Netflix series available called Away, wherein Hillary Swank commands earth’s first human Mars mission. They are forced to stretch the science a bit in places, but it’s terrifically entertaining and well worth watching.

Thanks for a tremendous Thursday Trenton Charlson.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  


It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.
-- Ben Franklin

A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity.
-- Baltasar Gracian

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.
-- Warren Buffett

my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.
-- The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave)

I guess he doesn't read up on the quality of reputation.

Seth 11:55 AM  

Well, I guess I'm weird because I got the theme pretty quickly and found it kind of boring.

Two things where the cluing was nonsense: PFFT is the sound of something deflating (as I think it was on Sunday) not disappearing. And OLEOLE is not a thing, unless you're talking about the opening of "feeling hot hot hot." NAG isn't riding hard, it's riding relentlessly, more like water torture than the rack.

Just a lot of extremely questionable cluing today.

PhiskPhan 11:57 AM  

"All, is the clue for “Midst” correct/complete."

If you think of the phrase "in the thick of it" = "in the midst of it."

Sir Hillary 12:03 PM  

Didn't love it. Theme feels old, and the revealer feels off. But I learned some ROMANIAN and a sorta-cool Aristotle quote, so there's that.

New grid-spanning clue/answer possibility for constructors:
Land of Opportunity? >>> REXBLOGCOMMENTS

. 12:04 PM  

And me!

jb129 12:09 PM  

I enjoy a hard puzzle - but shouldn't they be fun too?

Masked and Anonymous 12:11 PM  

M&A musta lucked out. I got most of the letters of BEERBARREL early on. It looked like it was gonna hafta be BEERBARREL -- or somethin else awful close that I'd never heard of. So I just stared at that sneaky old {Kay, e.g.} clue until I finally got it. Knowin the theme mcguffin was very friendly, in solvin the rest of the puz. Sorta like an upfront nanosecond investment.

staff weeject pick: LIE. Better clue, today: {Elle, i.e.}.
fave fillins, mainly due to wonky letter combos: CALYX. RIOJA. INKSAC. BADVIBE. COMPADRE.

har. Opportunity sure knocked a lot in the Comment Gallery, for some reason.

Thanx for the 1/3-dozen eg hunt, Mr. Charlson dude. Glad U could drop by for a spell.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


jb129 12:19 PM  

Adding to Sixthstone @ 9::28 - YES! No sports or superheros today! And no Harry Potter, Star Wars or Game of Thrones either - how refreshing!

Todd 12:27 PM  

Solved in a little better than my average thursday time without understanding the theme. And after Rex explained it I still don't reall get it. So I guess the non theme fill must have been pretty easy. And once again need to remind Rex that being a historical figure does not require that they comport to his hard left 2020 sensibilities. Maybe the magazine Jacobin can start a puzzle to meet his needs. Maybe he should propose it to them.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

The sad truth for Rex is that to legal historians like me Roger Taney was one of the greatest jurors in the history of the United States, and by the same scale Ruth Bader Ginsburg sucked. Good thing Rex doesn't teach American history at Binghamton...

jae 12:34 PM  

Medium. I needed the reveal to see what was going on, plus like others I found the CALYX/TANEY/LEN/LYNX area a tad dicey.

Tricky and fun, liked it.

Joe Dipinto 12:35 PM  

Trenton Charlson is the constructor who makes guy puzzles about guy things, for guys who like the kind of stuff that appeals to guys. To wit: GERMS (real men like them), BEER BARREL (you have to ask?), DRUMSTICKS (cave men ate them exclusively), SNORING (the louder the better), LES PAUL (electric guitar is a phallic symbol), Patrick O'BRIAN (sailing and the Navy are guy activities...), G.I. BILL ( is the Army), COMPADRE (bromance possibility), I'M GAY (after guy-on-guy action with your compadre).

So as to not totally alienate the ladies, GAL PALs GAIA and MAYA are tossed into the proceedings.

Whatsername 12:37 PM  

@TokyoTCer (7:22) “The problem with the theme ... is that e.g. means for example." Precisely what I was trying to express in my first comment.

@Frantic (8:18) Your Auntie EMME sounds awesome. And I enjoyed the SNL clips. MAYA is spot-on with Kamala but Kate McKinnon can do just about anyone, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg who reportedly loved her RBG sendups.

@Anonymous (11:46) Speaking of catchy coinage, a recent WORD of the Day from was ... Blatherskite: a person given to voluble, empty talk; nonsense; blather. Remind you of anyone?

Z 12:38 PM  

@11:05 - See @11:46 (who is being too kind IMHO). And what is it with you and snark? The Ted Bundy reference seemed so heavy handed that I almost went with “the old ‘he was nice to his mother’ defense” but worried it would be too subtle. I guess I was right since you didn’t get the implication of what I did use.
Also, shockingly, I’m well aware of TANEY’s career despite not being a lawyer. Try this on for size. Or, to quote another non-lawyer, “The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.”

Mr. Alarm 12:42 PM  

I agree with Dr. Haber. “World of opportunity” or “World for opportunity” would still be ambiguous enough. Even if Opportunity is called a “Land Rover” (is it?)

Mr. Alarm 12:44 PM  

Thank you for explaining this, Rex, literally spelling it out, for lame-brains like me. Sometimes, I think the clues get too cute for their own good. (The only “?” Was on the revealer. That’s just my opinion. Very unsatisfying puzzle to me, for some of the reasons you stated as well.

bigsteve46 12:47 PM  

Didn't think too much of this one - a little top heavy with obscure proper names. The definition of an "obscure proper name," by the way, is a name I don't know. Being on the far side of 70, the obscurity ratio is getting higher every day. I think I attended what might have been one of the last appearances by Les Paul, at a no-longer-there club around 3d Avenue in the low 20's in Manhattan. As far as the puzzle, not bad, I guess for a guy named after one of the dingiest cities in New Jersey

What? 12:53 PM  

Finished but had to read Rex to get the theme. Clever but ruined my day, not only because I slapped myself up the head. Ow.

Teedmn 12:54 PM  

Count me in @mathgent's corner. I enjoyed the tricksy cluing and had a similar aha moment on the theme. I got the "add eg to a letter" after I wrote PEG next to the 38A clue, but had to read the reveal twice before I saw the e.g. in each clue. Neat!

Otherwise, this was fairly easy for a Thursday for me because I knew almost all of the PPP. LYNX, definitely!

Trenton, thanks ever so much for this clever puzzle.

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

Apparently you aren't very aware of Taney's career. If you were you would know that despite Dred Scott v Sanford, Taney is immensely respected for his work on the high court.
I recognized your snark. It wasn't funny. and remains both unfunny an inapt. Even if i were to grant your silly claim about Taney not being an excellent jurist, that would no way liken him to the killer described as shy or quiet by neighbors. In that case neighbors are expressing surprise. But your case against Taney isn't that no one knew what he was doing, only that he was doing it wrong. Do you see why your analogy is bankrupt?

600 12:58 PM  

I very much enjoyed this puzzle--but never came close to understanding the theme. I got every theme answer from crosses. (Those crosses were much fairer than TANEY LEN which was a pure guess.) After straining my brain for way too long to figure out what the hell the themers meant, I gave up and came here. Therefore, I was deprived of the "grok-splosion" I craved.

The best thing about today? Grok-splosion. An excellent new word which I will surely steal! Thank you, @Lewis!

emily 1:25 PM  

Still don’t get it, & I think 28across is stupid.

albatross shell 1:26 PM  

*0pportunity alert*
I thought MARS was the answer because MARS is the New Frontier, Virgin Territory: The Land of Opportunity. If anyone has a better explanation I wish they would post it.

I solved the puzzle thinking the theme was some kind of K is for keg, B is for Beg thing going on. Initially had SingLEDOUT for the revealer. The clues were single letters, but got me nowhere. GALPAL and playing the odds of LEN over gEN Goodman, got me to SPELLEDOUT and that filled in my last area to fall. Then, too late to help with solve, I thought of the _eg's in the real clues, and saw the e.g.'s in the written clues. A big AHA. Fine Thursday trickery.

Agree with M&A on those entertainingly odd looking letter combos.

It was a slow solve with a lot of "Now if I get this next word all will be good, only to find a foreign word or proper name I did not know" moments. But it all worked out nicely in the end.

emily 1:28 PM  

Should try it, good game.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

Last shot, I think, on Taney and reputation (the wiki)

"I speak what cannot be denied when I declare that the opinion of the Chief Justice in the case of Dred Scott was more thoroughly abominable than anything of the kind in the history of courts. Judicial baseness reached its lowest point on that occasion. You have not forgotten that terrible decision where a most unrighteous judgment was sustained by a falsification of history. Of course, the Constitution of the United States and every principle of Liberty was falsified, but historical truth was falsified also."
-- Sen. Charles Sumner

Taney was appointed by Jackson, first Elected Dictator, asserted populist, and corrupt beyond words. Sound familiar.

Ernonymous 1:57 PM  

@errnon What's a legal historian? A designared hobbyist certification or an actual title you give yourself because it interests you? I consider myself a Canine Historian, a Bicycle Historian, a Spades Historian, a Wines of Spain Historian (RIOJA was a gimme) a Horseracing historian and a Photography Scholar and a Roman History Buff, although not yet a rank of historian, I'm close but still more of a buff.

As much as I hate to brag, many consider me to be the top Inline Skating Historian in the Southeast. My treatise on the transition in speed rollerblading from the 90mm to 100mm wheel is a must-read!

Pamela 2:04 PM  

@Joaquin 10:24- 🤣🤣🤣. Best laugh I’ve had all day.

Even with all the PPP’s, and although I didn’t get @Lewis grok-splosion but had to settle after the fact for a much less spectacular Aha, I do think this was a terrific puzzle. I’ll take this kind of convoluted brain teaser any time over a similarly complex theme based on math or chemistry or the like.

Crosswords. Word-play. That’s what I like.

Newboy 2:05 PM  

Just dropping back to recommend the Puns and Anagram puzzle from last Sunday (9/20) for anyone who enjoyed today’s workout—it kept me up well past my bedtime last night. If you felt cheated today, don’t wanna go there as it seemed close to a British cryptic.

Pete 2:23 PM  

@Giovanni, @Z - If the Mods see a question in the queue to be approved, and then add their response with the answer to the said queue, how is anyone other than the mod going to see the question as being un-answered? The answer may be 5 posts down from the question, and people my still rush to respond without reading the remainder of the posts in that batch, but it could cut 30 responses down to a mere few.

It's got to be better than having a question hanging there, unanswered, for half an hour or so.

Frantic Sloth 2:30 PM  

Idle musing:
If I never hear the words "MARS" or "opportunity" again, it will still be too soon.

And it's looking like "TANEY" wants in on that company as well...

Frantic Sloth 2:39 PM  

@Newboy 205pm I love the Puns and Anagrams puzzles! Sunday's joyride and every last one in the entire archives: Done! I only wish they came around more often than 4 times/year. 😕

bocamp 3:10 PM  

@ Trenton Charlson - You had me working overtime on this one, but what a "pearl"!

I'm a bit disappointed with myself for not giving it more of an effort at the finish, tho. Threw in the towel down in Texas. :( Did, however "grok" the "spelled out" scheme. :)

Wanted Tesla at 53D; didn't know "Maya" or "Len"; "Taney" seemed right; how could I not grok the "nx" below?? :( I don't recall having taken a class called "thinking" in school. For me, it's the "school of hard knocks" and I got "knocked" today. Really need to brush up on my botony. LOL

Les Paul & Mary Ford are among my favorites. Here's Tiger Rag (Hold that Tiger). You can see them performing at the 49 second mark.

The "Mars Observer".

Thank goodness for the "GI Bill"; It saw me through to the final day of my five year trip through college. The Navy didn't pay much, but the "GI Bill" was a Godsend. 🙏

Peace Paz Pace ειρήνη 🕊

Anonymous 3:10 PM  

I make, nor have ever made, a claim to be a scholar on the Supremes. That's why I pointed Z to people who are. They even have a periodical: The Journal of Supreme Court History. Theirs is the expertise. And in their expert opinion Taney was quite a good Chief Justice.

Anon 1:42,

Yes. Everyone agrees, including me, that D Scott v Sanford was wrongly decided. And that's all the Wiki article you pasted relates to: one decision. If you want to make the claim that particular decision is so egregious that it nullifies all else, well, make that argument. Or link to someone who does. But what you provided does not refute my claim.

As athought experiment, ask yourself was Lincoln a bad president because he suspended the Writ of Habeus Corpus? Or was he a superb president who made an error? A very bad one in fact.

Z 3:15 PM  

@Frantic Sloth - Are you implying that we all need a kick in the TANEY?

Z 3:26 PM  

@Albie - Well actually... Oh! You're kidding.

For those on Twitter, you can follow the Curiosity Rover.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

If you want to make the claim that particular decision is so egregious that it nullifies all else, well, make that argument. Or link to someone who does.

I already did.

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

As athought experiment, ask yourself was Lincoln a bad president because he suspended the Writ of Habeus Corpus? Or was he a superb president who made an error? A very bad one in fact.

Try this: Taney made no 'error' of judgment, rather simply implemented what he, and the rest of, slave holding, racist, white supremacists wanted. He did it on purpose, with no other greater purpose, just evil intent.

Lincoln was fighting a war with traitorous Southerners, abetted, in no small degree, by Taney's decision. Which the Supremes ruled against, and Lincoln acceded. If you disagree, then state for the record what Taney's other greater purpose was? If you can.

I'll grant the obvious: at the time of the Constitution the South had the North over an economic barrel, in that the Western World ran on specie money, and the Colonies had none in the ground. So to get it, they had to trade with those that did, Europe in the main. And 99.44% of that trade came from Southern plantations, so those Colonies got concessions. In the main, it would have been better to have two countries from the beginning, so that the industrializing North could dominate the plantation South forever by the mid 1800s. Mercantilism at work. Didn't work out that way.

Paul Statt 4:03 PM  

The complaints about Justice Taney rebind me of the old joke that ends with the peasant's lament: "But you f**k _one_ goat"

Richardf8 4:09 PM  

Air, land, sea; Dry land. In the beginning God created the heavens and the land. (I know we usually render it Earth, but the word there is ארץ which means land.

Anonymous 4:21 PM  

Bizarre "theme" if you can call it that. I don't have a mind that thinks in terms of "K, e.g." = KEG, and I'm very glad I don't!

Ernonymous 4:53 PM  

@anon you did call yourself a "legal historian" in your post above. True, you never called yourself a "Scholar on the Supremes". Like law, you know nothing about Diana Ross.
What do you call a person who thinks he knows more than someone he calls a know-it-all? A knows-more-than-the-know-it-all-all?

Anonymous 5:15 PM  

It’s true. I inadvertently left out the word no in the first sentence of my post. But I think you knew that. After all, the rest of the sentence makes my intention clear.
In any event , I don’t recall calling anyone a know it all. I’m guilty of many things, the typo you so graciously noted is just one of my many failings. But is it possible we’re sidetracked? I thought the issue was Taney’s worthiness or at least his reputation as a jurist. Or have I got that wrong too. If so, it shouldn’t be surprising given my thick skull.

Anonymous 5:17 PM  

In the beginning was the word. The most important sentence in eternity.

LonMan 5:17 PM  

Hey Rex, love your work, except wish you would eschew the aggressive political commentary - we do the crossword and have fun blogging to get away from all that

kitshef 5:21 PM  

Ah, how fondly I remember the time when this comments section was all about the Mars rover. Before TANEY came along and pushed all else aside.

And on that subject, I have to correct Anon 11:17am. Opportunity made it to Sol 5111, not 511. Fourteen of your earth years, rather than a year-and-a-half.

Barbara S. 6:10 PM  

The Sherborne Missal

If you want to look at something beautiful, click on the above, scroll to the bottom of the page where it says "How can I see more of this book?" and then click on Turning the Pages. It takes a minute to load and then you can leaf through this gorgeous 15th-century manuscript, one of whose claims to fame is the large number of lovely illustrations of birds. You can zoom in and out to look at the paintings and, if you click on "audio", a spiffing chap with a plummy accent will tell you about what you're looking at. Enjoy.

Unknown 6:43 PM  

I'm waiting for one more person to explain again what Opportunity is.

I solved the puzzle even though I couldn't suss out the theme, although it was clear it had to do with letters.
even though I'm not a fan of Rex's holier than thou virtue sharing, I did appreciate his explanation. So thank you Rex.

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

It’s telling that Rex was more upset by due process than by two police officers being shot in the Louisville riots.

Maddie 6:54 PM  

Hated it.

Started with IMGAY crossed by GALPAL clued by a Ladies Night and I knew this one was not written for me. For all you non LGBTQA+ folx, a "Gal Pal" is what the media call queer women when they don't want to *actually* acknowledge that they're gay. "Janelle Monae and Gal Pal Seen at Beach" is a typical headline. It's kind of become a meme in the Lesbian community. And while I suppose one could go to a ladies night with her partner, I'm guessing that's not what's intended here.

Too many names, solved it without getting the theme, even though I got SPELLEDOUT fairly early on in the solving.

Dave S 7:03 PM  

Have to admit, I solved the whole thing but had zero "aha" moments. didn't figure out the them until I got to Rex's blog. Guess I should shell out again to support it, huh?

Anonymous 7:09 PM  

@anon 6:48- obviously Rex knows more than the grand jurors who have actually seen the evidence. Of course he has no idea of the racial makeup of the grand jury. Sometimes you have to wonder who’s the bigot.

bocamp 7:19 PM  

@ Barbara S. 6:10 PM

Thank you Barbara; it's beautiful! :)

Peace Paz Pace ειρήνη 🕊

albatross shell 7:30 PM  

There once was a justice named Taney

That many consdered quite brainy

his slaves he let go

But others not so

May the future declare him him insane-y

TTrimble 7:32 PM  

It was a good crossword! The thinking required to get the theme is similar to the kind of lateral thinking required to solve British-style crosswords, which is quite all right in my book. There should be more Thursday puzzles like this.

I'll take this Opportunity to say that TANEY was not a familiar name to me, but by now seems a little overfamiliar. And also that putting in LYNX felt strange because one expects to hear a plural form for a team name, until it occurred to me that it (like many animal names) might serve as its own plural. "We spotted several lynx on our hike." Still sounds strange! CALYX: another very cool word.

---[SB Alert]---

Got to QB today! Over time, some of these teeth-gnashing stinkers sink in. Hope to see some of you joining me!

Pdxrains 7:38 PM  

Wow, hard theme even for a Thursday. DNF and looking at the answer I still don't even get it. Oof

Anonymous 7:42 PM  

Barbara S,
Yes the Sherborne Missal is resplendent beyond reckoning.
That it is so rare an example of the phenomenon is another indictment of the reformation. A spasm of evil where evil and error destroyed much beauty. The nice thing is that 500 years hence, the error is clear and almost all main line Protestant sects are dead or dying on the vine.

Anonymous 7:50 PM  

Anon 6:48, 7:09,
How dare you! Why would you presume to know Rex’s pronouns! Maybe it’s they or air , or swkjnedn, not he/him.
Check your privilege!

Pamela 7:51 PM  

****SB ALERT*****

@Ttrimble- Hooray! Hoorah! To you- and me, too! Yes, there were some stinkers today and I despaired for quite a while, but got there just a few minutes ago. The last two were the worst.

albatross shell 8:02 PM  

@ TTrimble
Yes I like that X-crossing too. The almost non-plural team name. Because of plant books I knew CALYX which gave me LYNX which was very convenient because I had no idea of the team name. Two short words with Y and X (and L) and not cw-dese.

I did have a senior moment on LES PAUL. Saw the clue. Knew the answer. Thought yeah Mary Ford, name on a guitar, that commercial about the name, music, songs, stories. Everything but his name. Had to work another corner before it came to me. Of course hendrix also has 7 letters.

Barbara S. 8:17 PM  


@TTrimble and @Pamela
Hooray cubed! Congrats to you guys and I'm Queen no.3. I feel like we're slowly getting familiar with a stable of "SB words" or should I say SBese.

Regarding yesterday, I was so surprised they accepted TORAH. Isn't the consensus that they don't deal in proper nouns except when it's something like China meaning dishes or Panama meaning hat?

bocamp 8:26 PM  

***SB Alert***

@ TTrimble 7:32 PM & @Pamela 7:51 PM

Congratulations on your "QB"s!! :)

I'm stilling trying to conjure the final word from Tuesday. LOL

Peace Paz Pace ειρήνη 🕊

SHbookworm 9:08 PM  


Anonymous 9:49 PM  

theme was totally lost on me, and in seeing Rex explain I'm like, "REally?" Not impressed.

TTrimble 10:59 PM  

---[SB Alert]---
-->>spoiler of a recent puzzle<<--

Congrats, Pamela and Barbara! You two have hosted at your palaces recently; I'd be much honored if you would be my guests this time. We have fine food, spirits, music, entertainment... [hearing clamor from a distance] Silence! Guests will be arriving! We will hear nae mair of Taney!

Barbara, in some recess of my mind I wondered the same about TORAH, but in the flurry of trying to come up with words, the wonder receded back into the subconscious. Anyway, apparently "torah" (lower-case) can apparently mean "a leather or parchment scroll of the Pentateuch used in a synagogue for liturgical purposes". The more you know...

Fight the good fight! There's a seat of honor that awaits your imminent arrival. Frieden...

Frantic Sloth 11:18 PM  

@Z 315pm I would never imply such a thing...😎

@Barbara S 610pm What an exquisite tome (and website!) - truly amazing. Thank you for sharing!

bocamp 11:58 PM  

@ TTrimble 10:59 PM


Frieden 🕊

Charles 12:23 AM  

Finished this puzzle but did not figure out or like the theme. "E.g." is spelled out, but the clue is really more "sounded out."

jae 12:45 AM  

*****SB Alert****

I got back to the SB on the late side, but am pleased to join TTrimble, Pamala, and Barbara at the QB soirée. I never would have made it a month ago but keeping tract of words missed/unknown has been extremely helpful.

jae 2:30 AM  

....that should be track...

Jim 12:30 PM  

Aside from being flummoxed by the theme, this tripped me: 2D Edenic is not "Heavenly." Albeit a paradise, Eden was distinctly a non-heaven in my understanding. Notwithstanding that I’ll not have first-hand knowledge of either.

old timer 12:53 PM  

Easy at the top, harder at the bottom for me.

Too many comments to read, but I did look for something by @LMS. A day she is silent comes pretty close to being a Day of Infamy, for me. And she did not disappoint. You know, I remember her earliest posts, only due to the intriguing name, including "Muse". I probably didn't have much to say about them, and it took a while for her to become such a great storyteller, and observer of the vagaries of our language. Glad she persisted.

Anne 9:01 PM  


Jonathan Hoefler 6:39 AM  


thefogman 10:33 AM  

Didn’t like this one at all. The theme is annoying and unrewarding for all the effort. And once again there is a cluster of Natick crossings that ruin the solve, at least for me.I am talking about 66A, 69A, 64D and 55A. Seems to happen a lot lately (it happened yesterday). A good editor would fix this...

Burma Shave 1:09 PM  


He STATES that the BEERBARREL leaked,
his BADVIBE I can't HANDLE and doubt.


ANTIDOTE FOR this stream of unconsciousness is one RIOJA, one Scotch, and one BEER.

Jody L. 1:28 PM  

Exactly! I had an actual blank on gauss, but all the others I eventually got. Not the Theme until here.

Jody L. 1:29 PM  


rondo 2:25 PM  

The BEERBARREL and DRUMSTICK showed up soon enough even though the PFFT was at first a Poof and the CLASP was a ChAin. A bit more ink spilled in the MIDST of the South which was at first denSe. And the closing bid was Allin before ADIEU. So even though it was all SPELLEDOUT, this puz took more time than it should have.

COMPADRE, EVA Mendes is the yeah baby today.

Can't say it REEKED, more of a SNORE. Still better than a rebus.

Diana, LIW 2:37 PM  

Of course the PPP were my bane. Then, after looking some up, I finished. Still didn't get it.

Oh now I see.

Diana, e.g.

BS2 2:59 PM  

Did you ever DEE GAUSS your monitor?

rainforest 3:31 PM  

Really liked this one. It put up some resistance, and the theme was fun to get. The revealer SPELLED it OUT perfectly. Nice Thursday.

leftcoaster 4:08 PM  

Got the K, L, P, B parts but the e.g.’s. simply didn’t register.

So, blindly assumed the “theme” words were used to show that the clues did indeed have SPELLED OUT words as “answers" even if they didn’t make any sense as themers.

Left me with a BAD VIBE about a tricky, clever puzzle.

Thanks for the ride, TC.

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