Drum used in Indian music / WED 9-16-20 / Country from which name Buttigieg comes / Number written in parentheses on income statement / Archipelago that's part of Portugal

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Constructor: Paul Coulter

Relative difficulty: Easy (3:56)

THEME: HAPPY MEAL (64A: Certain fast-food offering ... or what 17-, 27- and 47-Across certainly don't add up to?) — themers are phrases that sound kinda like "negative fast-food reviews" (allegedly):

Theme answers:
  • WEAK SAUCE (17A: Negative fast-food review?)
  • NOTHING BURGER (27A: Negative fast-food review?)
  • NO GREAT SHAKES (48A: Negative fast-food review?)
Word of the Day: mulligan (9D: Do-over) —
a free shot sometimes given a golfer in informal play when the previous shot was poorly played (merriam-webster.com)
• • •

is in no way a plausible "fast-food review," negative or otherwise. "Sauce" is not a fast-food item, the way that BURGERs and SHAKES are. I just don't understand how this isn't totally and completely obvious to everyone involved in the making of this puzzle. Sometimes you have a theme that you think would be a really good idea, and you want it to work out, but you Just Don't Have The Right Themers to pull it off. The great constructors don't force it. Others ... do, I guess. Yeah, yeah, there's "sauce" on a Big Mac or whatever, stop your lawyering. That answer is so much of an outlier it ruins the whole shebang. With HAPPY MEAL as your revealer, I don't think you have to be *perfect* (i.e. you don't need the three themers all to be the exact elements of a HAPPY MEAL), but since you've already got two themers that land very cleanly and solidly in the "fast food" column, you need your third to do so as well. Here, watch. "Is a burger fast food?" "Yes." "Is a milkshake fast food?" "Yes." "Is sauce fast food?" "What?" End scene. You see how this doesn't work, right? It's fine if you like the concept—so do I—but execution matters and bad execution just ruins everything. This thing isn't a full-on TRAIN WRECK, but it's definitely some kind of train malfunction where you have to detrain and get on a different train or maybe get bused to the next train station ... something non-fatal but incredibly annoying like that.

In fairly typical fashion, I started slowish and then really sped up. Under 4 is pretty fast for me on a Wednesday, and honestly I thought I was much faster. I must've been much slower to start than I imagined, because by about 1/3 of the way in I was flying, writing answers in as fast as I could look at the clues. I didn't even see many of the clues—for MALTA, for instance (52D: Country from which the name "Buttigieg" comes) (such a weird clue). I like the symmetry of RUBBERNECK and TRAIN WRECK since you might do one while driving by the other. Fill seems mostly OK, though there were moments (GRU SOLI CIE SRO AMS) that were slightly rough, and man could I do without horrid (criminal!) right-wing idiots in my puzzle. Again. Editor really loves to plug those guys. Not sure what's going on there. Didn't have many outright mistakes. Wrote in OMSK (!?) before OSLO (28D: City called a "kommune" by its inhabitants). Oh, and I wrote in CARTS for MARTS because I didn't read the clue accurately (9A: Shoppers' stops). Had a lot of trouble getting to COAL from 3D: Rock around the Christmas tree? I get it, you get COAL in your stocking if you're bad ... by legend ... though no one solving this puzzle has actually ever gotten COAL, and if they had it would've been in their stocking, not "around the tree," and COAL just isn't exactly iconically Christmasy. Sigh. I hate when try-hard "?" clues don't land. I also like when they do land, as is the case with the clue on ASIA (10D: Polo grounds?) (Marco Polo, that is). Looking forward to tomorrow's puzzle shenanigans. Have a nice day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:01 AM  

I found this more of a Mondee/Tuesdee difficulty level. Not much more I can say, except -

The theme wa...πŸ˜΄πŸ’€

πŸ’₯⏰πŸ’₯ 😡πŸ₯±πŸ˜² Sorry. Where was I?

Oh, yes - the theme. Only the 3 themers, (well, more like 2.5) and at least the reveal was placed properly, but this one didn't send me. Except to sleep as has already been demonstrated.

Furthermore, NOTHINGBURGER and NOGREATSHAKES are okay as stand-alone terms, but WEAKSAUCE?
Green paint much? Did you eat a sandwich with that WEAKSAUCE? And this is supposed to be one of the highlights of the puzz?

Nopeville beckons. Pray, SCAT!

Query: Are we just gonna keep seeing RENO in the puzzles now? Is this the "new" Oreo?


Joaquin 12:05 AM  

“Welcome to KFC. I’ll take your order.”
“I’ll have the all drumstick dinner for two.”
“What side?”
“Eh, right side, I guess. What’s the difference?”
“I meant coleslaw or fries.”

jae 12:07 AM  

Medium. This was fun with a very clever revealer and a couple of fine long downs. Liked it, but I have to agree with @Rex about the status of SAUCE as a “fast food”.

Harryp 12:08 AM  

Bad Happy Meal had a mistake in cluing, picking 47A instead of 48A, but that was a minor glitch in a nice puzzle. The Proper Names skew old, like Scooter LIBBY, and I had to get 31D for the V in KAVNER, but it was done in average Wednesday time. I liked the clue for 10D, and wondered if Marco Polo himself had ever been clued as Pool Party, or Pool Game?

Seneca Spurling 1:01 AM  

I had coal in my stocking growing up. Several times. Our house had an old coal cellar in the basement, and my parents delighted in digging up coal to put in our stockings every xmas. This was northern New Jersey, and I'm currently 50.

Anonymous 1:05 AM  

Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. Passes mustard

Ellen Leinwand 1:09 AM  

I filled in ED KOCH and then immediately erased it once I noticed that the clue contained the abbreviation N.Y.C., which led me to think that it was looking for a mayor with initials, like, I don't know who, DNDINKINS. Isn't the rule that abbreviations in the clue must correspond to abbreviations in the answer? Is the rule more nuanced or more lax than this? All previous cluings of ED KOCH contain the full "New York City," and today's clue just struck me as so jarring that I would think that it is a rare occurrence.

egsforbreakfast 1:26 AM  

I’m writing this in real sadness, at 11:00 pm EDT, as I feel like I need to get it down before the NYTXW realizes their error and corrects it. Yesterday I jokingly professed to have been drawn over to the “Shortz must go” side. I didn’t really mean it. Around 90% of the criticism of the editors is really just a display of commenter ignorance, and most of the rest is at least arguable. However, fouling up a revealer by not proofreading the clue is an astounding abdication of leadership. Sure, you could argue that Will and co. were still pumped about the pantsless animals from yesterday. But still, to have WEAKSAUCE NOTHINGBURGER CIE standing in place of WEAKSAUCE NOTHINGBURGER NOGREAT SHAKES is either too subtle for me, or smacks of aimless and uncaring helmsmanship. Rex certainly has his weaknesses, as I have perhaps too avidly pointed out. But he cares deeply about the art form and would never have let something like this happen.

I’ve now seen Res’s write up and he didn’t pick up on the big gaffe. Maybe it’s not such a big deal, but it seems like it to me.

Decent puzzle, ruined by non-existent editorship.

bocamp 1:30 AM  

@ Paul – Good puz, thx! πŸ‘ On my wavelength with the exception of the NW.; ave. time; enjoyed the ride. 😊 @ Rex – nice write-up; fair take on the "sauce". Twas, indeed, an "outlier" πŸ˜‰

Saved my money and bought into a Mini-"Mart" franchise in the '60s. Worked long hours; partied way too much after hours. Lasted about a year before selling and heading off to Europe. Ah, youth! ✈️

"Arod" = more baseball discussion coming up. πŸ˜‰

Had "Kasner" before "Kavner"; took a minute to sort out "N.Y.E."; New York "ese" πŸ˜‚

There was so much press re: "Buddha Judge" and where the name comes from that I was able to drop it right in; yay press! πŸ€“

Dad was such a sport when it came to doling out "mulligans"; I always accepted; didn't want to argue with Dad. 🏌🏻‍♂️

Time for 😴

Kalmte πŸ¦‹

Pamela 1:32 AM  

Lots of toughies for me in this one. I had lAnE LAPS for warm-ups, and aren’t there rock versions of nOeL? But then jErKSAUCE looked so right I realized the rock had to be something else.

In the end, I cheated by looking at Rex to put that corner right- and still no joy. I had to fix TACiT, EyE- how could I miss New Years Eve? All I could think of was New York, hmmm.... That gave me KRAyNER, which seemed Ok to me. So a DNF today, but the app doesn’t know it.

I had a NOTHINGBURGER once- pretty good, except that I like my burgers rare and it just isn’t the same.


I had another long day today, so although I enjoyed catching up with your comments, it was too late to respond. I also got pretty close to QB, but missed BOOGALOO, GLIAL. I’m starting a list of impossible acceptable words- I’ll never remember them all.
In Tuesday’s Bee, I’m only one word away, but think it’s not going to happen. Oh well.

Losing Faith 1:36 AM  

Great puzzle. The review of the puzzle? Weak sauce.

The clue on MALTA is interesting. The only thing that's "weird" is your complaint.

okanaganer 1:50 AM  

Julie KAVNER fun fact: before voicing Marge Simpson, she played Rhoda Morgenstern's sister on the Mary Tyler Moore TV spinoff Rhoda in the 1970s. A favorite show of my teenage years.

Rex said "This thing isn't a full-on TRAIN WRECK, but it's definitely some kind of train malfunction where you have to detrain and get on a different train or maybe get bused to the next train station..." Yes he's preachy and often annoying, but often just plain funny.

Coincidentally... there was a pretty big TRAIN WRECK yesterday here in BC: news site with video. What a mess!

albatross shell 3:14 AM  

Since HAPPYMEAL IS A MickeyD thing, sauce seems proper beyond mere lawyering, but opinions, elbows etc. WEAK is a bit...nondescript to be...
zingy. But WEAK SAUCE is a thing just like NOTHING BURGER and NO GREAT SHAKES. So I think Rex is in the high weeds there. Not in high cotton. BTW I am growing a couple of cotton plants in the garden this year. I am hoping the bolls will pop open before the frost hits.

Did not know GRU KAVNER MALTA TACET but got them. Thought COAL was funny clever. That and MEGABYTE were minor slow downs. And when no music played I noticed I still had PAdS for my print source. Well dEAK SAUCE doesn't sound too appetizing. Oh W. It was not an overeasy Wednesday here.

I got SLOT but only understood half the clue. I was reading it:
(Opening for a time) or (a dime)
Instead of
(Opening for a time) or (opening for a dime).

Now is that a mongrel cousin of the Oxford comma?
Could millions of dollars be at stake?

Joe Dipinto 3:25 AM  

After the successful debut of "Catch Phrase–Not!" on 9/2, Shortz & Co. roll out the second model in the new Antithetical Reveal line of puzzles, "Happy Meal–Not!"

I can hardly wait for the third one. Not. Let's groove to "Carioca".

Loren Muse Smith 3:40 AM  

This set and reveal worked just fine for me; WEAK SAUCE, NOTHING BURGER, NO GREAT SHAKES, HAPPY MEAL all on the surface could describe a fast food experience, but (at least for me), they can all be then teased out of their fastfoodness and viewed simply as parts of any unHAPPY MEAL.

Rex – I loved the COAL clue. I just coΓΆperatively expanded the definition of “around” to mean “in the vicinity of. No prob.

The clues for SLOT and SALOON are terrific.

MULLIGAN – Last year Mr. Walker (health/PE teacher) was jawing with a couple of other younger PE teacher/coach guys about his inaugural golf tournament fundraiser for his fledgling golf team. He was lamenting that the event didn’t look like it was gonna make a lot of money. I asked, Are you selling MULLIGANs? They all looked over at me with what I’ma maintain was naked albeit newfound admiration. Ok. Maybe not admiration, but I did get their attention. And he did take my advice and sell MULLIGANS.

SOIREE crossing TRAIN WRECK reminds of an ultra-formal dinner party my mother-in-law threw where some ingredient had gone bad, and the powder room was suddenly THE place to “go.” Hah. Powder room-cum-powder keg.

I didn’t know that MOE is a nickname for Maurice. (Maureen, yes.) A nickname for Maurice should reflect its Frenchness better. Like Meau. Little known fact: Mr. Bridges of The Fabulous Baker Boys is by birth Baurice Bridges just kiddin’ love ya mwah.

chefwen 3:42 AM  

I have no problem with WEAK SAUCE, a great sauce makes a meal HAPPY, it doesn’t have to be about burgers, it’s all about the sauce. Right @GILL?

Had a wee bit of a problem in the NE corner, like Rex I had cARTS at 5A and wondered what CULLIGEN was, some sort of new face lift?
Husband is an avid golfer and when MULLIGEN finally arrived in my feeble brain it was a head slap moment. Too embarrassed to tell him.

Fun puzzle, now I want a Big Mac.

DavidP 3:44 AM  

It’s obvious that Rex isn’t aware of the whole McDonald’s/Rick and Morty Szechuan dipping SAUCE fracas from a couple of years ago.

You can get chicken nuggets with your HAPPY MEAL and guess what those come with? Dipping sauce.

jae 3:51 AM  

@egs - totally missed it because I mostly don’t pay that much attention. Nice catch, now I wonder what’s in the newsprint version?

jae 3:55 AM  

...my previous post should have included an @Harryp

η΅Ήγ‚ΉγƒŸγƒ¬ 6:02 AM  

I’ve actually heard the expression weak sauce way more than the others.
Never heard of ‘no great shakes’ before ever

Hungry Mother 6:06 AM  

Fast solve, but seemed to play hard in spots. Slow moving through the proper names.

ChuckD 6:19 AM  

Pretty easy solve today. Theme was fine and I thought well constructed and tight. McDs has been touting their special sauce for years so I’ll disagree with Rex there - I think they’re all trying to sell the next big sauce. Liked the double LL cross of SYLLABLE/MULLIGAN and the clue for RYES. Very sad to see the atrocities occurring in Burma - military backed ethnic cleansing that goes highly uncovered here.

How am I doing? Hizzoner would always ask. Not bad for a Wednesday - nice, clean puzzle.

Lewis 6:52 AM  

@loren -- Meau -- Hah!

KAVNER, KOCH, LIBBY, OREL were all in my wheelhouse -- because age -- so this solve slapped down fairly quickly, though there were some spots where I had to unpack my brain. With some lovely answers, a tight and clever theme that no one has come up with before, the rhyming TRAINWRECK and RUBBERNECK, a non-Bombeck ERMA clue, and a LAPS up, this was a riches-with-some-delightful-hitches solve, a very nice journey, and thank you for that, PC.

And I did see the canine mini-theme, with NIPS, LAPS, PAWS, and the references to cocker spaniel (EAR) and another breed (ROTS). May I add that my dog Chester is an EVERYTHING BURGER, GREAT SHAKES, and HOT SAUCE. Forgive me, but I'm in love.

Another Anon 6:54 AM  

It's mustER, but nice try.

kitshef 7:08 AM  

Another opposite-land clue. Which for the record, I’m OK with but I thought Rex would trash again.

There is just a ton of good stuff in here. It is far too good (but alas also too easy) for a Wednesday.

A double-Simpson day. 45A begged for Simpson clue, too.

Michiganman 7:22 AM  

More on Julie Kavner. She was also on the Tracey Ullman show which aired '87-'90. And, The Simpsons first ran as shorts as part of the Ullman show. Watch this sample

David Fabish 7:31 AM  

I gotta disagree with Rex on this one. WEAK SAUCE is a perfectly decent fast food review. No, the sauce isn't a standalone item, but if you're reviewing a fast food burger, that could be the core of the review. Heck, I could even see it as the title of a review. In fact, it's actually a more useful review than the other two, because it tells you what exactly the reviewer didn't like about the burger (or chicken nuggets, or whatever).

Sometimes I think Rex just spends time hunting for things to dislike about the puzzle.

And @frantic sloth, WEAK SAUCE is definitely a thing, just as much as NO GREAT SHAKES.

Teresa 7:39 AM  

The puzzle was fun but I found two errors in the cluing. Burma is not the former name of Myanmar, it's another name for it. And a PSA isn't a free ad, it's a public service announcement not selling anything at all. (I worked in broadcast news so I gots the cred.)

Joaquin 7:39 AM  

@Lewis (6:52) raves about his dog Chester being "an EVERYTHING BURGER, GREAT SHAKES, and HOT SAUCE."

But here's the reality:
Everyone thinks their dog is the best dog ever.
Everyone is right.

Dogs are, without a doubt, the world's best creatures.

Anon 7:46 AM  

Passes Mustard LOL....

BarryH 7:53 AM  

It was a pun, silly.

Keith D 8:18 AM  

What also really irks me is Rex’s “gatekeeping” of the types of clues that are acceptable. I view xwords as a trivia challenge as much as anything, and Scooter LIBBY is a legitimate piece of trivia. Doesn’t mean we have to like him...

Joaquin 8:45 AM  

I agree with @Rex about LIBBY but for a different reason: In my opinion, a grown man who calls himself "Scooter" needs to be banned everywhere.

Ed C 8:53 AM  

Why do we get chronic lectures about why “chink in the armor“ is awful and hateful because of alternate use of chink as an insult, but not even a mention of NIPS in this puzzle? It’s this randomness of word outrage and finger-wagging from Rex and others that makes all such criticism suspect. Words are words. If they have multiple uses and are used appropriately as NIPS is here, they obviously then don’t have to be defined solely by their one pejorative use.

Unknown 8:54 AM  

I'd never heard of Julie KAVNER, and NYE was a mystery for me, so that cross felt a little unfair, but apparently many of you knew Julie. Since I never watched the Simpsons, I'm at a disadvantage w/ these puzzles. Wasn't there also an APU, and a NED from yesterday?

I don't get Rex's problem with Scooter Libby, or a host of other folks. Does he really only want his puzzles to include those folks on the right side of history, or who fit in with his politically correct worldview? You know that Trump capitalized on that sort of PC, cancel culture thinking. Let's hope we don't get another four years of this disaster.

MEGABYTE really slowed me down, but the more I think about it, the more I love it.

Ed C 9:02 AM  

Re: Scooter Libby. I know we all know this, but I guess it needs to be said for emphasis: a constructor or editor using someone’s name in a xword puzzle is not “plugging” them. If so, then it seems every constructor in the world is a huge Yoko Ono fan. Ditto Alan Alda, Ava Gardner, Teri Garr, etc. It fits. It’s a person. The end. On to the next clue.

Ed C 9:03 AM  

Heartily agree.

barbara 9:08 AM  

His full name was Edward—does that count?

Nancy 9:17 AM  

A cute theme, and I'm imagining that NOTHINGBURGER was the original impulse behind it. Unlike others here, I've heard WEAK SAUCE used as a non-food related phrase. As in "That argument is pretty weak sauce." I haven't heard it often, mind you, but I've heard it. And therefore I don't think WEAK SAUCE is green paint. I also think that a SAUCE can be an important part of a MEAL -- especially in high end restaurants. A great bearnaise...a great almondine...a great a l'orange -- at least as important to me as what goes inside those sauces. And you needn't go to a high end restaurant for a truly transcendent hot fudge -- you once could get it at the late, great Schrafft's.

I'm not as crazy about the revealer as some. To clue themers by what they're not rather than what they are doesn't seem ideal to me. I would have preferred the revealer clue to have been "Strictly_________" and the revealer to have been FROM HUNGER.

But still -- a nice puzzle with the added pleasures of the two colorful non-theme long Downs: RUBBERNECK and TRAINWRECK.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:23 AM  

I left the far upper left corner blank, originally, although I thought P was the most likely guess; then I thought of PAWprints. OK. Nothing much to say, but I did want to mention that I saw a lawn sign the other day,

DOGS 2020

The sense of alienation is palpable.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

Complaining about WEAK SAUCE? The puzzle maybe isn’t the item that’s a TRAIN WRECK.

Z 9:25 AM  

You’re all lawyering. BURGER, SHAKE, and fries. Where are the fries? WEAK SAUCE is the WEAK SAUCE in this group, since it goes on a Big Mac so it’s already on the NOTHING BURGER. I was a little disappointed in Rex for not giving us a full on where’s my damn fries rant, but all y’all WEAK SAUCE defenders? SMDH.

Speaking of fries, why is WNC so bad at them? Our favorite burger joint gets them right about 25% of the time, and that’s more than most places around here. The worst greasy spoon in metro Detroit has better fries than anywhere we’ve found in WNC, which is truly odd because the food options here are otherwise great.

I agree with Rex on the MALTA clue. It’s almost as if the clue writer had a twinge of guilt over the LIBBY inclusion so decided they needed to balance it out by getting Buttigieg in somehow. Seems to me figuring out how to get Blagojevich into the cluing would have been better.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  


Regarding your bogus claim that the coronation of Mary is not in the bible (7:47 PM)

Mary as the Queen of Heaven is tied in with the Old Testament concept of the royal household. Because the King had many wives it was impossible for one to be Queen. Therefore the King’s mother served in the role. The Queen Mother sat on a throne at the King’s right hand and helped rule the kingdom. Access to the King would often be through the Queen Mother and she would ask favors from the King for those who asked her. You can see an example of this in I Kings 2: 17-25 where Solomon is on the throne next to his mother Bathsheba.
Solomon is David’s son so, this establishes the analogy of the Queen Mother in the Kingdom of David. We know that Jesus is the Son of David and that he inherits the throne of his father David. His role as such is announced by the angel Gabriel from God Most High. So in Luke chapter one:
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.
So the “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of Heaven” which Jesus talks about all the time is also the Kingdom of his father David. Jesus is the King whose kingdom will never end, and who is his mother? Mary. If Jesus is the King of the Kingdom of David–the Kingdom of God–also called the Kingdom of Heaven, then she is the Queen Mother of the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of David, the Kingdom of Heaven, and thus the Queen of Heaven–furthermore, if her son the King’s kingdom will never end we must conclude that her reign as Queen Mother at his right hand will also never end. It is an eternal kingdom.
It’s confirmed in Revelation 12 where “a great sign is given” — we see the woman who is the mother of the child who will rule the whole earth with a rod of iron. She is crowned with stars and with the moon under her feet.
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant…She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”
Who else could this be–clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head–than the Queen of Heaven? That she is the Virgin Mary is clear as she gives birth to the male child who is the King of Kings. Another take on this here.
So Catholics venerate Mary as the Queen of Heaven. It’s there in the Bible…if you have eyes to see.

Mr. Cheese 9:33 AM  

@Ed C - if Rex didn’t have things like this to rant about his post would be half the length
and his self-imposed word count wouldn’t make it.

@LMS - “Meau” Another winner

Z 9:36 AM  

@egs and @jae - Is there a typo somewhere? In the paper 47A is Inc., in France and 48A is the repeated themer clue. I’m not seeing anything amiss.

Z 9:43 AM  

@Anon9:26 - This is an Arby’s.

duceman33 9:45 AM  

I have no problem with weak sauce but maybe “small fries” would have made Rex enjoy a “happier meal” 🍟

Frantic Sloth 9:47 AM  

@Greater Fall River 923am 😁They've got my vote! That's my general opinion on other animals vs. humans anyway.

As some have pointed out here, WEAKSAUCE is a saying. It's a stupid saying, but it is a saying. Also, an excellent example of itself.

I still maintain that it's nowhere on the same level as NOTHINGBURGER or NOGREATSHAKES and maybe that's a generational or regional or just a megional thing, but there. I said it.

@Z Dad 925am Right? SAUCE schmauce - Where's m'damn fries??
936am The error is the clue for 64A, which reads "Certain fast-food offering ... or what 17-, 27- and 47- Across certainly don't add up to?" It should be 48A. Also, on the site, even 47A is highlighted as if it's part of the theme. Really sloppy.

Nancy 9:48 AM  

On another subject: Would you consider it a HAPPY MEAL if there were a plate piled full of kidney stones sitting next to your scrambled eggs? Or a bunch of cockroaches crawling across your toast?

This is how I feel about having to navigate through the exceedingly unsightly blitz of emojis that have suddenly proliferated all over this blog exactly like cockroaches. Where did they come from? Why are they here? I've been on this blog for 6 or 7 years and there weren't any of these blog blemishes in the past. And you can't avoid them. Even though I scroll quickly past every comment that contains even one emoji, my eyes still see them. It makes me want to skip all the comments -- even the emoji-less ones. It makes me want to go somewhere, anywhere, with squeaky clean copy.

I don't want to hurt or upset anyone. But you've all made your point. Emojis exist. You've learned how to find them on your computer and lovingly impart them to the Rexblog. You know how to sprinkle them liberally into every single sentence you write. You've shown us all their great and endless variety -- whether we wanted to see it or not. And now, please, please, please, can we mercifully go back to a pristine and un-pockmarked blog?

57stratocaster 9:53 AM  

We have a chain of fast thai restaurants here with a menu a choice of weak sauce (v. hot sauce), so I was ok with weak sauce as a themer.

Cristi 9:54 AM  

Sauce-mania—as in “dipping sauce”—is a genuine thing among millennials and a subject of furious debate for fast foodies.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

@ Z - WNC = Western North Carolina?

Newboy 10:02 AM  

Wanted fries with my HAPPY MEAL.

@CDilly52 yesterday’s reminiscing was a delightful capper for my afternoon.

“Powder room-cum-powder keg.” Gosh it’s nice to have @LMS back on the fairways!

@Ed C (8:53) gets my vote on this charged political kerfuffle.

Nuff said

Cristi 10:05 AM  

See “Rick and Morty” and McDonald’s Mulan Szechuan dipping sauce. Dipping sauce is a cultural touchstone for a generation.

RooMonster 10:10 AM  

Hey All !
SPECIAL SAUCE on a Big Mac, dipping SAUCE for your fast-food Nuggets. SAUCE exists! It's not as prolific as Fries, sure, but you cannot discount it as a legitimate themer. So there. It works as a "Negative Review" and as a saying away from food. So says I. Besides, there aren't any good sayings including Fries. I'll recind that if someone comes up with any.

**Error Alert!**
47A? Holy smokes. Even on the online version, 47A gets highlighted! A slip of the finger, sure (we all have typos we miss, me especially), but how didn't editing find that? One demerit.

That yelling and nitting aside, a pretty good puz. Themers were chuckle worthy. HAPPY MEAL as an opposite Revealer nice, too. Low dreck, some, but every puz has some.

Misread 15A as "award", so has Espy. Wondering why Downs didn't work. Shoo-SCAT, laughed at myself for thinking AmORES for AZORES first.

**SB Stuff **with YesterBee spoilers****
Missed 5 for Q, which I should've gotten 4 of them. I missed, of all things, OKRA! Crossword staple that gets discussed (and disgusted) every time here when it appears. Never would've gotten the 10 letterer. Also missed TROT. Amazing how the ole brain just refuses to see simple words.

**SB Yammering over**

What ELSE? Doubles @Lewis? And might change my name to Reaux on @LMS's behalf. Har. (That was for @Nancy, was gonna insurance emoji, but Har works and is less irritating!)

NOTHING F'S! Two days in a row! Poor little F'S.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

Will Shortz is the Hitler of the NYTimes crossword as trump is the Hitler of the USA.

Crimson Devil 10:10 AM  

Scooter was early L’Orange pardonee. Many others followed, incl Ariz Joe, Stone (commutee), Navy Seal, Flynn comin up....
Nice Wed puz.

bigsteve46 10:26 AM  

re: Z (9:25 A.M.) - What does WNC mean or refer to? Just curious ...

jberg 10:30 AM  

I haven’t read the commenter, but in case it hasn’t been said yet—

Two all-beef patties, special SAUCE, lettuce, fries, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

So sick of SRO. There's been no SRO for nearly a year and I can't say I've ever seen a sign that said this in the last 20 years. Also there's other type of Whiskey than RYE NYTs

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

Why on earth is appropriate for you to respond to something erroneous the next day (which you do with some frequency), but not me?
Poggius made a claim. I'm countering it. Your snark is unbecoming but sadly predictable. And of course, you fail to address the issue at hand which is whether the Coronation of The Virgin Mary is in the bible. Laugh and smirk, sneer and belittle as is your prerogative and wont. But you're not the king of this blog. And your high-handed contempt for views in conflict with your own is tiresome.

What? 10:37 AM  

But does the station charge for it? I think not, ergo “free”, yes?

William of Ockham 10:39 AM  

This was an awful, weak, unappetizing, poor excuse for a puzzle. Hideous.

I loathed the poor attempts at 'clever' cluing, the solve and then ... the reveal - after three (Negative FF reviews) dreadful themers - (requiring a negative to get it) is HAPPY MEAL?

mathgent 10:47 AM  

I like chicken nuggets. Get a bag from Safeway, spread them out on a cookie sheet, bake at 450 for a few minutes. Very good. But the quality of the bags has dropped the last couple of times I’ve gotten them, so I picked up some at Burger King the other night. I had heard they were good. But they were poker chip-thin and didn’t have much chicken in them. Dipping them in the little plastic cups of BBQ, Ranch, and sweet and sour, though, made them eatable. Strong sauce.

East-coast Nancy has heard the expression “weak sauce,” west-coast mathgent has not. He has heard “weak tea.”

I love saying “No great shakes” but have no idea where it came from. Nothing definitive I could find looking for its origin.

The theme fits into the PBI box, Partially Baked Idea.

I don’t watch The Simpsons, but I remember KAVNER well from Rhoda. Thanks @okanaganer (1:50) for reminding me.

What? 10:51 AM  

My handwriting is so bad I mistook the K in EDKOCH for a U and read 17A as__EAUSAUCE. So 1D is PAN, some sort of printer jargon and 17A is NEAUSAU CE. Strange spelling for nausea but it fits the theme and the CE will be explained later.
Wait, I got it. Keeps my record of aces for Monday through Thursday intact. I’m not bragging, just compensating for those Friday and Saturday blanks.
What’s with the non-theme 10’mers? Shouldn’t the theme answers be the longest? Does anybody care?

I remember Julie Kavner from “Rhoda”. She has one of those voices that are inexplicably funny, no matter what she’s saying. She’s in her 70’s now. Sigh.

R. Kroc 10:59 AM  

@ Anonymous 10:36am

I think we can all agree that Z is not the king of this blog. A ridiculous idea on the face of it.

He is, however, the self-appointed Mayor, Pope, Grand Inquisitor and the Arbiter of All Truth.

So watch yourself....

JD 11:04 AM  

First the theme, then some bitterness and sarcasm, then theme reprise.

To the theme. As Anon @1:05am points out, the annoyingly memorable ditty included Special Sauce. However, your Honor, that description refers to the Big Mac and you will not find sauce in the subject Happy Meal.

DNF because of Julie Kavner. It's news to me that New Years Eve is now known as N.Y.E., so thinking ESE must be something leaves a bitterness that may never pass.

In N.Y.E.'s of the future, when the kids are propping me up against the wall and praying for my own sake that I don't make it to the next morning, I'll be fuming.

Scooter Libby? Sure, he blew Valerie Plame's cover, risking her death by enemy agents. But that all looks so innocent in light of the entire country being put at risk of death by the president himself. Pfft, what's one woman?

Back to the theme. Acrobats, Syllables, Soiree, nice and with the revealer UN-Happy Meal would've made this really fun.

But your honor, as @Joe D points out, this is the "second model in the new Antithetical Reveal line of puzzles."

This trend means that the definition of a revealer is now, "Something described by the preceding answers or actually not." And that puts us back to the Trust Issue for solvers.

@Z, I can live with that usage of "all y'all" cause it's funny.

Masked and Anonymous 11:04 AM  

PANFRIES? … yeah … didn't think so.

staff weeject pick: CIE. [Short for Marcie, @Muse?] Kinda neat when a weeject erroneously participates in the revealer's clue. Kinda surprised the test solvers didn't complain about that typo.

Man, this puz had a *lotta* great fillins! A few faves: SYLLABLE. MULLIGAN. TRAINWRECK. RUBBERNECK. SALOON. MEGABYTE. ACROBATS. HAZY. LURK. etc.

Vaguely remembered Julie KAVNER. Knew TABLA, cuz it was "graced" a runtpuz lately.

Lotsa fast-food places have special SAUCEs. No big problemo there, at our house. I know a story about what some young fast-food workers did to their place's "special sauce" … they'd then snicker, whenever someone ordered it. TMI? … yeah … thought so.

Thanx for the WedPuz sustenance, Mr. Coulter.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


CT2Napa 11:10 AM  

TACO BELL = fast food

might have weak sauce

bocamp 11:11 AM  

@ okanaganer 1:50 AM wrote:

"Coincidentally... there was a pretty big TRAIN WRECK yesterday here in BC: news site with video. What a mess!"

Thank you for the video.

I usually love coincidences, but not this one; thank God no-one was injured. The cars were loaded with potash, so no dangerous contaminants to contend with.

The video shows the smoky skies from the wildfires in the Spokane area ; here in Vancouver I could see hints of blue sky late yesterday afternoon, but this morning it's smoky again.

Prayers go out to all the workers dealing with the train wreck near Hope, BC and to all those affected by the wildfires in California, Oregon, Idaho, Washington and BC., and to the people of Alabama, as Hurricane Sally makes landfall. πŸ™

Stay safe and peace be with you πŸ•Š

Mark 11:18 AM  

Here's a problem everyone (I think) missed:
The "SAUCE" in WEAK SAUCE is actually sauce, its meaning expanded.
The "BURGER" in NOTHINGBURGER riffs off an actual burger.
The "SHAKES" in the saying NO GREAT SHAKES does NOT refer to a milkshake.
Nothing special; ordinary. There are several theories as to the origin of this term, which dates from the early nineteenth century. One holds that it comes from sailors shaking a cask, that is, dismantling it and picking up the staves, or shakes, which then had little value. Another believes it comes from shaking dice with only a poor result. Whichever is true, it was transferred to anything deemed mediocre by about 1800, as in, “I’m no great shakes at braggin” (John Neal, Brother Jonathan, 1825).

bocamp 11:21 AM  

Rhoda (S1) - "Chest Pains" pt.1/3: Jack Tripper serenades Marge Simpson accordion-style ❤️

Kalmte πŸ¦‹

GILL I. 11:25 AM  

Q: What did the frog order at McDonald's?
A: French flies and a diet croak.
Feel free to get up and ribbit.
Well it does say fast food offering and we all know the SAUCE is in the offering. I like burgers....the absolute best ones are made with bison meat. They are delish and you can actually eat them with NOTHING else. Just be sure the buns are firm. Hah!
Well as cuteness goes, this sure had an OCEAN of places. We had ASIA, OSLO, ISR, MALTA, RENO, BURMA and the AZORES. All is forgiven because you also included EDIE Falco and I just finished re-watching Nurse Jackie. Man can that women act. I cried at the last episode.
Still can't see a yellow sun. Is the sky really blue? Or is that my imagination.......

Karl Grouch 11:43 AM  


JD 11:45 AM  

@ Nancy, I'm almost tempted to give you Paul McCartney's advice, "But if this ever changin' world in which we live in
makes you give in and cry, say live and let die.

But I'm still bitter over the bizarre double preposition "in" so I won't.

Whatsername 11:48 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
bocamp 11:48 AM  

Maurice "Moe" Williams: one classy individual! Moe was Commissioner of the BC School Curling Association when I was the curling coach at Tupper Secondary School back in the '90s. Looks like as of 2015 he was still on the board. Fond memories; God bless you Moe! πŸ™

An aside: my son was the "skip" for the Van Tech curling team; we had a friendly rivalry. πŸ₯Œ

Kalmte πŸ¦‹

Lewis 11:59 AM  

@bigsteve46 -- Western North Carolina.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Confused by everyone's dislike of WEAK SAUCE. Sauce is a common fast food item (special sauce on a Big Mac, anyone? Dipping sauces for nuggets, anyone?). And "weak sauce" is a not-uncommon slang term (not a green paint answer like some have claimed).

Perhaps some of our more experienced solvers could do with some open-mindedness about pop culture? ;)

retired guy 12:02 PM  

47A is a mess. Inc., in France would be SA (for SociΓ©tΓ© Anonyme). Co. in France would be Cie (for Compagnie). The difference is that Inc. and SA imply a limited liability corporation; co. and cie don't necessarily imply that.

johnk 12:03 PM  

A distinctly unHAPPYMEAL.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

finally some RnM up in this thing !!

but yes, rex is right. weak sauce is obviously a phrase. lets consider.. CANT CATCHUP.
that would just as 'weaksauce' for the theme.

Hoopla 12:09 PM  

The unhappy meal could have been completed with OFF SIDES.

Whatsername 12:10 PM  

Yesterday’s jewel was a tough act to follow so in fairness, I allowed for a letdown today. Strong theme and clever revealer but I did quibble on a couple of the clues. The first was 52A. You might RUN (through) something or RAM it (through), but when you MOW something, you mow it down. The other one of course was COAL which is a lump in your stocking, not a rock around the tree. That one just didn’t work.

I love NOTHING BURGER and the image it evokes, an empty bun. WEAK SAUCE was an expression I hadn’t ever head but I think is perfectly acceptable as a themer. I tried to think of something else which would’ve worked: cut the mustard, flat as a pancake, fly in my soup, tough cookie, rotten potato, bad egg, cheesy joke. Close but nothing that really worked. Which is why I’m not and probably never will be a constructor.

Swagomatic 12:11 PM  

Um, I'd like to review that review review above...awww, nevermind.

I thought the puzz was okay. About average for me.

Blackhat 12:16 PM  

10 names, 3 foreign words.....

Deb Sweeney 12:24 PM  

I mean, the Scooter Libby clue specifically calls him out as a convicted felon, so not sure how that's conservative fanboying on the crossword's part? Would Rex prefer Blagojevich in his puzzle?

bocamp 12:30 PM  

@ Joaquin 8:45 AM wrote:

"I agree with @Rex about LIBBY but for a different reason: In my opinion, a grown man who calls himself "Scooter" needs to be banned everywhere."

Your "pithy witticisms" light up my day! 😊

Scooter Libby's full name & nickname

Kalmte πŸ¦‹

bigsteve46 12:30 PM  

To Louis 11:59 AM - Many thanks from SNYS (South New York State.)

Carola 12:42 PM  

I enjoyed this HAPPY MEAL of a puzzle, with its smile-inducing colloquial theme phrases and their witty association with Yelp-worthy fast food restaurant reviews. Thanks to @Rex for pointing out the parallel TRAIN WRECK and (rhyming) RUBBERNECK.

kitshef 1:01 PM  

@Ed C - 'chronic lectures about why “chink in the armor“ is awful and hateful'. Can you cite even one instance where Rex did this? Then find, say, ten more, justifying 'chronic'?

Anoa Bob 1:02 PM  

The 46 black square grid on Monday had a dark and stormy look while today's 34 black square grid has a sunny and breezy feel to it. It means that after the three theme entries and a reveal are in place, there is still plenty of open space for some nifty stuff such as TRAIN WRECK, RUBBERNECK, SYLLABLE, MEGABYTE, ACROBATS, et al., to go along with the theme. Strikes me as an exemplary balance twixt theme and fill. Monday was pretty much theme only with mostly perfunctory fill.

The clue for the reveal HAPPY MEAL seemed awkwardly worded. Maybe "CERTAIN fast-food offering...or what 17-, 27- and 47- Across certainly don't add up to?" would be a good test item for anyone applying for a crossword puzzle editor position: "Rewrite the reveal so that 1) there is no Certain/certainly repeat, 2) it isn't stated in the negative---there are an endless number of things that 17-, 27- and 47- Across "don't add up to", and 3) and without having it end with a preposition."

pabloinnh 1:07 PM  

@ED C-If you think NIPS is an offensive answer, I read the clue as "Chinese snacks", making the answer at least tangentially doubly offensive. Just when I think I can do these things without reading glasses....

@LMS-With all due respect to "Meau", which I loved, the proper nickname for Maurice is "Rocket". That's it, that's the list.

I'm with @Joaquin with the "Scooter" appellation. I knew a grown man who went by "Fluff". True story. Could I ever take him seriously? No. No I could not.

OK Wed. by me, cheese snacks things notwithstanding.

bocamp 1:16 PM  

@ Nancy 9:48 AM

I'll cease and desist.


JD 1:26 PM  

@pabloinnh, Never underestimate the power of nickname like Scooter to push you through the ranks of a power structure that likes ruthlessness disguised.

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

You're darn tootin! Who ever heard using the word around to mean near. As in the stocking was near the Christmas tree. I mean, it's ludicrous! I feel nothing for piyt for the poor misinformed and clumsy constructor. Poor soul. Trying so hard and simply over-matched when it comes to language and usage. Mr. Coulter is blessed to have access to a keen mind like yours to show him the light.

Z 1:31 PM  

Regarding WNC- the western part of the state with mountains and forests is as distinctly different from the rest of NC as the upper peninsula of Michigan is distinct from the trolls (i.e. everyone living below the bridge). WNC is as culturally different as any region in the US can be from any other region. I have had good fries when visiting the triangle.

Again, “Sauce" is not a fast-food item, the way that BURGERs and SHAKES are. Neither are ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, nor mayo. Fries, Coke, chicken nuggets, heck, even a salad, fit the unHAPPY MEAL group better. Sauce is a condiment. You can lawyer it into acceptability, but it will always be sub-optimal.

@Frantic Sloth, @egs, & @jae - Har! I only ever read the entire revealer clue when absolutely necessary. They could but any random numbers there for all I would notice. Yep, it says 47 in my paper, too.

@Anon - If you don’t want snarky replies maybe don’t post. And, as fascinated as you are with this topic, you didn’t even make the faintest of effort to comment on the puzzle. If you want to discuss religion why don’t you find a blog on that topic. Or start your own.

Z- Dad and Arbiter of Truth

Teedmn 1:31 PM  

I had a bit of a TRAINWRECK in the SW. Cheese NIbS went in (with a cautionary thought that "it might be NIPS"). That made 37A a cytobLASt and 39D a tErABYTE. This made NO GREAT SHAKES mighty hard to see so I had to work backwards once I got the 48A catch phrase, MEGABYTE to protoPLASM (I was wondering what protobLASt was but shrugged it off.)

My other misstep was at 11D. I was parsing "gawk" as an adjective (he's a big gawk) because I thought the French Inc. was sIE so ____ERNEss seemed reasonable. Once again NO GREAT SHAKES rode to my rescue.

I liked the theme - the reveal made me smile. I found the cluing rather vague so it gave me a bit of a Wednesday workout. Nice one, Paul Coulter.

Gene 1:35 PM  

It's silly to waste time on Rex's hard-working carps, but if I found a Big Mac tasteless because of a Special Sauce deficiency, that would certainly be a valid "negative fast food review"

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

what makes you think I don't have a blog, by the way?

JC66 1:46 PM  


Don't feed 'em.

Joe Bleaux 1:49 PM  

@LMS ... meau! Love it. Good to see you here again.

Z 1:50 PM  

@bocamp - Personally, I enjoy your posts. @Nancy has the same option as the rest of us to skip commenters she finds annoying or less than edifying. I think your distinct voice has been a welcome addition to the commentariat, and I will bet good money I’m not alone.

TJS 1:57 PM  

Wow ! @pablo, I knew a guy named Fluff too ! Bartender in a weird dive west of Chicago.

Years ago people used a bucket of coal around the base of a Christman tree to add stability. So the clue fits.

Loved the extended Bible lesson. Now I have to go back and find that deal about people dancing on the head of a pin.

@Nancy, with you all the way on the emogi addiction. No need to be clever. Just stick an emoji in there, or five or six.

TJS 1:59 PM  

Wait, I think it's angels doing the dancing. Whatever.

katherine catmull 1:59 PM  

"Sauce" is a crucial component of the whole chicken mcnugget experience y'all. There's a whole choice of sauces--bbq, buffalo, ranch, honey mustard -- that's just a few. I have never ordered chicken nuggets in my life and yet I know this.

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

I don't each much fast food, but I thought Sauce was fine. I get that it isn't as traditional as burgers, shakes, and fries, but what would nuggets be without sauce (I can really see a complaint about the weak sauce). What would the big mac be without special sauce.

bocamp 2:03 PM  

@Ed C 8:53 AM wrote:

"Why do we get chronic lectures about why “chink in the armor“ is awful and hateful because of alternate use of chink as an insult, but not even a mention of NIPS in this puzzle? It’s this randomness of word outrage and finger-wagging from Rex and others that makes all such criticism suspect. Words are words. If they have multiple uses and are used appropriately as NIPS is here, they obviously then don’t have to be defined solely by their one pejorative use."

I agree with you. I guess there's some "arbitrary line" re: what should or should not be used in the NYT puzzle. For me, the word "nips" didn't evoke a negative reaction, whereas, "chink" did. That doesn't make it unacceptable for the puzzle, but, personally, I would no longer feel comfortable using "a chink in the armor" whereas, in the past I probably wouldn't have given it a second thought. OTOH, "nips" is a much more common word in every days usage, and I wouldn't hesitate to use it, given the context.

Bottom line for me: we all need to inculcate more empathy for others, and that entails being more sensitive to the words we choose to employ. IMO, the NYT crossword clues and answers are not meant have a judgmental implication; the judgment is for us to decide how they're used in our lives; they are food for thought!


Barbara S. 2:13 PM  

Five Guys Named Moe

I swear there are also another Five Guys Named Moe, white musicians who have a tribute/cover rock band, but I didn't find them in a 60-second search. I presume they took their name fom the original incarnation of the musical, which dates back to the '40s.

Scooter LIBBY's name I didn't know, although I do remember the Valerie Plame affair. When I saw his name in the completed grid, I immediately thought of the actor, Scoot McNairy, who says that his father started calling him Scooter when he was a toddler because "I used to scoot around on my butt." I guess we'll never know if it was the same for LIBBY.

I thought Julie's name was KAVanaugh and wondered if we were being treated to a rebus on a Wednesday, but alas.

I knew TABLA and TACET from recent Spelling Bees! (Just sayin'...)

Loren Muse Smith 2:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 2:22 PM  

@bocamp - What. @Z. Said.

I like the emojis and only wish I could use them, too! I've never managed to figure it out.

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

@ Pabloinnh I thought of NIPS in an entirely different way. Teehee.

bocamp 2:37 PM  

@ Z 1:50 PM wrote:

"Personally, I enjoy your posts. @Nancy has the same option as the rest of us to skip commenters she finds annoying or less than edifying. I think your distinct voice has been a welcome addition to the commentariat, and I will bet good money I’m not alone."

I appreciate your warm words. I do think that @Nancy makes a point, and I'm willing to back off on my use of emojis. Obviously, others who use them will come to their own conclusions.

It's just not a big enough deal, for me anyway, one way or the other, so I will desist (or least try to) LOL

An aside: all of my family (to the last person) have been digitally inclined (some going back to the 80's), and have more or less kept up with chatroom/texting lingo (going back to "usenet," etc.). Hardly an email or text is exchanged w/o an emoji or two, or three. LOL Every morning I use Siri on my iPad (via the "Shortcut" app) to invoke a message (containing solely a heart) to my granddaughters. They respond sometime during the day with one or more emojis of their own choosing. These emojis truly do convey the love that we hold for each other.

Nevertheless, I shall (more or less) go emoji-less here; I think I can live with it. LOL

Thanks, again, for your kind words :)


Z 2:43 PM  

Has Spectrum ever not had long wait times? Anyway, stuck waiting so reading comments as the get approved.

@bocamp and @Ed C - I always think of it as advice on avoiding unintentionally insulting/offending someone. Why is “chink” worse than”nip” when both have perfectly okay non pejorative uses? I really don’t know. What I do know is people have viscerally reacted to “chink” and I take them at their word. The language is rich, vibrant, and ever evolving. I’ll happily use a different metaphor if doing so makes someone feel a little bit more welcomed.

@JC66 - So “arbiter of truth” was a step too far?

@TJS - And then when the tree caught fire there was a ready fuel source. Did people really do that or is my leg being pulled?

@PabloinNH - “Rocket” !πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½!

@Hoopla - Nice.

@Deb Sweeney - Great minds and all that.

BobL 2:43 PM  

For what its worth -- I dislike emojis, cuz I can't tell what they're supposed to mean

Frantic Sloth 2:56 PM  

@Z Dad Here's a shocker: I agree with everything you said; however, you might wanna avoid throwing water on the gremlin(s).
Then again, perhaps we're being too old and close-minded...

@bocamp You coached curling?? I'm green with envy. I've never experienced the thrill of playing, but every Winter Olympics I try to see every curling event they air. Unfortunately, I retain little if any knowledge by time it rolls around again, but I enjoy it just the same. I liken it to chess on ice.
And obviously, you can assume what my position on emoji-gate is. πŸ˜‰

bocamp 2:57 PM  

@ Loren Muse Smith 2:22 PM wrote:

"I like the emojis and only wish I could use them, too! I've never managed to figure it out."

What platform are you on, i.e., device/s, etc.? There's got to be a reasonable solution for you, me thinks. LOL

@Z was very helpful in tutoring me on how to embed URLs, but with emojis (I'm on a MacBook Air), I just use the Edit Menu, which contains ("Emoji & Symbols); I'm a "macro guy" so I use the shortcut (ctrl + cmd + space bar) to invoke the emojis window, then click on the desired emoji/symbol to enter it into the line of text. :)


pabloinnh 2:57 PM  


Well, it took 60+ years but I finally learn that there is another Fluff out there. Mine was in way upstate NY, so pretty sure they're not the same guy.

Not sure if I'm happy or sad to discover this.

JC66 3:10 PM  


I agree with @Z and @LMS. Keep up the great posting...emojis included.

bocamp 3:17 PM  

Unknown 2:43 PM wrote:

"For what its worth -- I dislike emojis, cuz I can't tell what they're supposed to mean"

πŸ˜ƒ Smileys & People; what the emojis depict

Dear Unknown 2:43 PM, I'd love to wax philosophical, using your sentence (above) as an example of something I hold near and dear, to wit: "likes" and "dislikes" based on understanding or lack thereof. However, I won't "wax" unless you'd be comfortable with the use of your "sentence" as the basis.

Best regards,



bocamp 3:28 PM  

****SB ALERT****

If you haven't finished working on yesterdays "SB" don't scroll down.


Four scrabble approved words from yesterday that "SB" didn't like :(



Four words that I'm sure would be accepted: :)


Acronym = KUTE

GILL I. 4:04 PM  

@Nancy....I'm pretty sure emojis are here to stay. I use the heart one all the time because I'm just that kind of person. You're not on Facebook (be thankful - especially if you hate these little critters) but everyone uses them all the time. They come in handy....especially when you want to cry!
@Z....I just read Janis Tomlinson's review on Goya. Thank you, amigo. She pretty much said it for me...and....I love "His nearest avatar is Andy Warhol."

bocamp 4:28 PM  

@Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:23 AM wrote:

"left the far upper left corner blank, originally, although I thought P was the most likely guess; then I thought of PAWprints. OK. Nothing much to say, but I did want to mention that I saw a lawn sign the other day,"

DOGS 2020

The sense of alienation is palpable.

The helping "paw" I got in Afghanistan in 1970 may have saved my life. I was suffering the throes of a bad acid trip and seeking some kind of solace. I was suffering intense paranoia, afraid of everyone. I actually believed my Mom and Dad were behind this and I was definitely on my way to hell (which I hadn't believed in up to that point) to be punished for all the bad things I had ever done. Long story, short, I forced myself to go out from our hotel to seek some kind of counsel. Along the way I encountered a dog, and immediately felt the only love I had experienced since the dropping of that acid a couple of days earlier. I just sat down by the dog and threw my arms around it. I could palpably feel the love. Right then I knew there was hope for me; there wouldn't, couldn't be that kind of love on the way to hell. (to be continued at an appropriate time). Bottom line: God bless dogs and their paws. :)

BTW, I don't believe people suck, we're all in this together and what we need is love and understanding, i.e., empathy.

K.U.T.E. (Kindness, Understanding, Tolerance, Empathy

bocamp 4:44 PM  

@Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:23 AM

Just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your website (blog) (accessed via your profile page). What you folks are doing is pretty skookum, IMO.

I was especially taken by the absolutely heartfelt, loving poem by Andrew Pratt. I wish everyone could read this short poem and understand the power that Love has in all circumstances, bar none.

I'll add the essence of the poem here: "do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice". Proverbs 24:17

And, for those who have no use for the Bible, "resist schadenfreude".

Thank you for this website. :)


Anonymous 4:48 PM  

You believe that everyone should understand things like you understand them. Guess what? Everyone is different. Everyone has their own beliefs. That's the trouble with this country. People believe something and think others should believe what they believe because that's it, and there's nothing else. Open up your minds, sheeple, everyone had their own beliefs, and as much as your brain can't comprehend that someone believes/doesn't believes what you do, it's true. SAUCE, E.g. @Z, you vehemently argue it doesn't fit the theme, because that's what you think. Others have written here that SAUCE does fit the theme, but you have such a closed mind, the mere possibility that it, in the world of puzzledom, can't be is your only thought.
Hence: Republicans, Democrats. Which equals a f$@#ed up country.

bocamp 5:22 PM  

"pace laps" reminds me of the bike racing we did as kids. There was a good-sized vacant lot nearby on which the owner allowed us to create a bike racing oval. We didn't need no stinkin' "pace laps", we got right at it. Man, we used to go and go and go. I can't believe the energy and endurance I had as a kid. I had this beat up old "Schwinn". Man, I loved that bike! We used to attach playing cards to the bike frames with clothespins , which provided a really neato effect when the spokes activated them! Ah, to be a kid!

Kalmte πŸ¦‹

Anonymous 5:36 PM  

I'm surprised at all the people unfamiliar with the expression WEAk SAUCE. I got it right away but I don't think I've ever heard NO GREAT SHAKES or NOTHING BURGER in the wild, so it took time to get both of those. WEAK SAUCE out-Googles both of those by a factor of 4.

A few opportunities for Naticks: EDIE crossing KAVNER and CIE, OREL crossing TACET. The latter got me and I DNFed by one letter.

long.gone.lonesome 5:55 PM  


And I’m quite familiar with the phrase weak sauce

Nancy 6:09 PM  


@bocamp (2:37) -- I am touched and gratified by your willingness to eschew emojis in the future when you're obviously under no obligation whatsoever to do so. I now look forward to reading every single one of your emoji-free future posts, and am extremely relieved that you appear to understand that my emoji aversion is a matter of esthetics only. It has nothing to do with either who is posting or what the content is of their posts. The writing can be brilliant...the wit can be scintillating...the insights can be penetrating... but if I have to thread my way through a visual landscape I find distasteful, I just don't want to go there. This isn't a putdown of any particular commenters; it's merely a visceral need of mine to look at visually pleasing things. Where those feelings come from or why I experience them so strongly, I don't even know.

To my good friend GILL -- I didn't know there were lots of emojis to be seen on Facebook. I imagine that's a relatively recent development; that Facebook existed long before emojis were invented. I have a zillion reasons for not being on Facebook, including not needing Mark Zuckerberg to mediate my friendships, thank you very much, and you've now given me another one, @GILL. Because wading through a blitz of emojis on Facebook is happily somebody else's problem! :)

GILL I. 6:17 PM  

@bocamp 4:28....Your PAW story is endearing. It brings to mind one of my dearest friends and her deathly fear of animals. As a young girl she was mauled by a mix breed dog. It practically tore her arm off as she was trying to feed it. At her aunts house, she was sitting on the couch minding her business when the family cat practically scratched her to death. She was convinced that every animal on this earth would kill her somehow; a horse would kick her to death, a cow would gore her, a pig would eat her alive.....
I love her to tears and I love animals and my mission was to get her to love a puppy or kitten. It took a bunch of wine, music and laughter to convince her to come to a "No Kill" shelter with me. I told her that these little critters were all behind bars and wouldn't harm her. Well...a little beagle/mix breed pup looked at her longingly and lovingly and let out a little AHOOOO as they do. Talena looked at her for about 5 minutes. They stared at each other; Talena asked if the pup could come out on a leash. They brought the pup out (named Bosco)....Bosco jumped on her lap and wagged her tail so hard, I thought it would fall off. Instant love. Talena took him home; she won't go anywhere without him.
She's been divorced from her husband for about 10 years and she told me that if her ex had been anything like Bosco, she would've forgiven his infidelities. Dogs and most little critters, are heaven sent. Thank God (Dog backwards) he/she put them on this earth.

JC66 6:24 PM  

@bocamp &GILL I

Great stories. That's why I love this blog...and my late brother's nickname was Bosco.

Philip 6:35 PM  

McDonald’s Big Mac has a “special sauce”

bocamp 6:48 PM  

@ Nancy 6:09 PM

Bless you! I kind of thought that was where you were coming from and how an irritant can spoil one's serenity. I never thought for a minute that there was anything but good intentions on your part.

I may still use an emoji on occasion (when appropriate), as well as on my "tag line" at the bottom of the comment, as can be seen on my most recent posts.

K.U.T.E. = Kindness, Understanding, Tolerance and Empathy πŸ•Š

Z 6:50 PM  

@Gill I - I’m still pondering that Warhol comparison. Everything “better” I come up with is music, not visual arts. And the musical ones don’t work because they’re sly winks like Devo or only raging anger like lots of punk. So Warhol it is.

@bocamp4:28 - So more Siddhartha and less Nietzsche?

GILL I. 6:50 PM  

@Nancy....ahhhh, my friend, I can always count on you and your eloquent responses. I wish I could do poetry....Insert idiot emoji here....(kidding)....Heart - instead :-)

bocamp 7:09 PM  

GILL I. 6:17 PM

Your anecdote about Talena and Bosco made my eyes tear up. There've been many things today that have "made my day" and this story was one of them. Thank you!

I agree about the semordnilap dog/god, and I've never forgotten how much "good" there is in both a dog and God. :)

BTW, my handle on Pinterest is "diggerdawwwg". The reason for the extra double-u's is that when I was applying for a Yahoo mail account, "diggerdawg" and "diggerdawwg" were taken. How I even arrived at the idea for the handle is a story for another day. Woof

K.U.T.E. = Kindness, Understanding, Tolerance and Empathy πŸ•Š

bocamp 7:11 PM  

@JC66 6:24 PM

Now that's the kind of coincidence I love. :)

K.U.T.E. = Kindness, Understanding, Tolerance and Empathy πŸ•Š

LenFuego 7:15 PM  

So here is the score:

1) Perhaps the most famous jingle ever in the fast food industry notes that a Big Mac includes "special sauce".

2) Taco Bell has rotated through numerous sauce flavors such as Fire, Hot, Mild, Verde, Diablo, Baja, Chipotle and Medium that are used on all of its products in an attempt to appeal to the public's tastes.

3) Arby's sauce is such a thing that a Google of that phrase shows numerous efforts to provide "Copycat" recipes of it.

4) Sauces are such a key component to Chicken McNuggets and other menu items that McDonald's has offered at least 8 different sauces over the years (Sweet and Sour, Honey Mustard, Chipotle BBQ, Tangy BBQ, Spicy Buffalo, Sweet Chili, Hot Mustard, and Creamy Ranch), Burger King has a similar list including its own Zesty sauce, and every other fast-food place has a smattering of similar unique sauces that they provide for their customers in their efforts to win the fast-food dollar race.

But some of the losers here, including Rex, insist on criticizing this puzzle based on the notion that WEAKSAUCE does not fit the theme -- which theme, fairly understood, is unfavorable reviews of fast-food restaurants, NOT menu items at fast-food restaurants -- because "sauce" is not an actual menu item at a fast-food restaurant, per se, but is merely provided by every single fast-food restaurant in their own unique flavors in an effort to provide customer satisfaction. Oooooooo-kay.

Honestly, get a life, you freakin' losers.

bocamp 7:26 PM  

@ Z 6:50 PM

Indubitably :)

albatross shell 7:35 PM  

@Z 131pm
You define the terms to make WEAK SAUCE weak. And then make the case based on your own definitions. Very lawyerly, I'd say.

Look instead at the terms as given in the puzzle itself.

Clue for HAPPY MEAL:
1.Certain fast-food offering
Check. Absolutely dead on.
OR (That is not to say and.
And it is not to say that the HAPPYMEAL is the offering being reviewed)
2.what the answers 17, 27, and 48 (the puzzle mistakenly says 47)certainly do not add up to.

do not add up to a HAPPY (As in enjoyable, not as in the trademarked product) MEAL. Absolutely dead on.

And look at the clues for the 3 answers:
Negative fast-food review?
All negative reviews of things in a fast-food review- MickeyDs or not. Would you review a sauce a restaurant makes itself and advertises? Yes. Would you review salt or pepper or ketchup or mustard? Very unlikely.

Now you may wish they were all main course items. You may think it would become a puzzle to rave about if they had. Fine. But they made what they made. Consistent and accurate.

So please, Dad, do not make me work so hard to make the obvious obvious.
Your loving son

JC66 7:42 PM  



Whatsername 7:57 PM  

@GILL: I absolutely loved your Bosco story. Never underestimate the powers of wine and a wagging tail. I love it when a human and animal make that magical connection that bonds them for life. Good on you for making that happen.

Brett 8:29 PM  

My take has always been that if the clue contains an initialism for a thing that is very frequently abbreviated colloquially (like NYC) that the answer doesn't necessarily need to have an initialism or abbreviation. It is only a hard and fast rule when the initialism for the thing is NOT commonly used.

RooMonster 8:38 PM  

@Len Fuego 7:15
Har! Arby Sauce! How in the world could I have forgotten that? I love Arby's. Yes, yes, Arby Sauce. And their Horsey Sauce.

Of course, if anyone have a bad review of Arby Sauce, they're Un-American!

RooMonster Gotta Get My Derriere To Arby's Soon Guy

JD 8:51 PM  

@Roo, In ill-spent youth, used Arby's Horsy sauce to sub for horse radish in a Blood Mary. No particularly great going in, worse heaving out.

Z 9:16 PM  

Anybody looking for a new job?
This looks like the person would be Shortz’ boss, but that’s not entirely clear.

Z 9:28 PM  

@albatross shell 7:35 - To belabor the obvious, son, it was the marketers at McDonalds that decided what was in a Happy Meal, not me. All I ask is if you’re going to riff on a Happy Meal you better include my fries, not some WEAK SAUCE condiment. 🎢🎢One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn’t belong.🎢🎢

Monty Boy 10:15 PM  

I liked this one a lot. Any time I can put the last letter and get the happy tone is a big win for me. I dislike looking through to find the one wrong letter and it takes as much time as the puzzle.

@Nancy (6:09). I have a Facebook account and look at it about once a year. I agree with Betty White. On a talk show she was asked if she was on FB. She said she didn't know about it so there was an extensive explanation to which she replied: "My that sounds like a wonderful way to waste time." Couldn't say it better myself.

TAB2TAB 10:43 PM  

NOTHINGBURGER, NOGREATSHAKES, and *SMALLFRIES* with your HAPPYMEAL is immeasurably better than WEAKSAUCE. (credit to Duceman33)

Why do the mental gymnastics to defend the mediocre? The constructor had the opportunity to stick the landing but didn't.

Paloma Vita 11:55 PM  

And all they had to do was change the clue for the first themer ever so slightly: "Negative fast-food condiment review?" and instead they ended up with weak sauce indeed.

albatross shell 12:03 AM  

No mental gymnastics. You wanted a happy meal. Puzzle gave you sauce on a burger washed down with a shake. A popular and believable progression and a punny review in the proper order with a fine ending with an (un)happy meal. A happy meal was not ordered
Small fries is not a negative review.
Taste the sauce, chew the burger, wash it down with a shake. A standard fastfood offering. You are just imagining something is weak because you wanted something different. They are all items likely to be mentioned in a review just like the puzzle claimed. It is fine not to like it. It is not fine to put it down by creating fictional rules about what it may have never wanted to be. In any case weak sauce was not the ending.

Anonymous 2:35 AM  

Okay, so now I have learned that chink in the armor is racist, but nip is acceptable. How about a nip in the armor? As long as the answer to that clue is anything but Samurai.

thefogman 9:57 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefogman 10:13 AM  

Boo on the editor for giving the green light to this TRAINWRECK. The reveal should have been unHAPPYMEAL instead of the convoluted clue for 64A. The editor also messed up on the list of themers in 64A. My paper had 17 -27 and 47 across. 47A is wrong. It should have listed 48A instead. That’s all on the editor. There was plenty of time to correct this mistake before the syndicated edition went out. Time for a change.

Diana, LIW 12:25 PM  

I could really go for a NOTHINGBURGER right about now. Any meal out would be a HAPPYMEAL, but only in a post-c-19-pandemic world.

Thanks for the grand FINNISH to the Syndie comments yesterday - the Finns come out of the closet again.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for a Burger

BURMA Shave 12:58 PM  


or ELSE OUI with just a RUBBERNECK.



rondo 1:45 PM  

My paper had the same numbering ERRor as @foggy’s, not that it was of consequence. And there’s @BURMA dead-center. You’re apt to find PATS SPAT TAPS in the corners. And oft time yeah baby EDIE Falco. Don’t know what ELSE to READ INTO this.

leftcoaster 3:38 PM  

Yeah, numbering error here, too, but NO GREAT SHAKES.

So Pete Buttigieg’s family name came from MALTA? Read and heard a lot about "Mayor Pete" during his national campaign, but didn’t connect the name to the country.

Paused over COAL, TABLA, GRU, CIE, and TACET.

Good Wednesday work by Mr. Coulter.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP