Savings bank informally / THU 9-17-20 / Superfan of certain 2010s pop star / Food item whose name is derived from comic strip / Gluten-free noodle variety / Thoughtless sender of emails

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Constructor: Simeon Seigel

Relative difficulty: Medium (6:07) (felt easier, but it's Very early in the morning, so I must be running slow)

THEME: AND (39A: + ... with a hint to four pairs of answers in this puzzle) — the black-square formations that look like "+" stand for the letter string "AND" in the answers that run directly into and out of them. So:

Theme answers:
  • THE GRAND OLE OPRY (6D: Major Nashville landmark)
  • GOLDEN HANDCUFFS (9D: Financial incentive for an executive to stay at a company)
  • SHENANDOAH RIVER (34A: Tributary of the Potomac)
  • DAGWOOD SANDWICH (41A: Food item whose name is derived from a comic strip)
Word of the Day: APOLLO XI (15A: About 600 million viewers watched its pilot in 1969) —
Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin formed the American crew that landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC. Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface six hours and 39 minutes later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC; Aldrin joined him 19 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and they collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth. Command module pilot Michael Collins flew the Command Module Columbia alone in lunar orbit while they were on the Moon's surface. Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 hours, 36 minutes on the lunar surface at a site they named Tranquility Base before lifting off to rejoin Columbia in lunar orbit. (wikipedia)
• • •

Quick write-up today. The theme concept was MEH (easy to ferret out, repetitive) but the actual theme answers are all really colorful and interesting, so the monotony of all the AND AND AND business was made up in large part by the AND answers themselves. This looks like an architectural feat—finding words with "AND" strings that line up at just the write places to make the little "+" signs, but honestly there's probably some pretty easy computer hack that lets you search all the 15s in some database and for answers with "AND" strings, and then you can just pick and choose from there. Still, the concept is cute, even if the "black squares-represent-letters" thing isn't particularly original. So I'm more warm than cold on the overall theme. The fill was just middling. Felt weirdly dated. Like, I'm 50 and have never heard THRIFT used this way (1A: Savings bank, informally). I was born the year of APOLLO XI, which I think is normally written with Arabic numerals, not Roman. There are no BELIEBERs any more. They all restocked their CD STANDs long ago, and then threw out their CD STANDs because they either stream their music or have gotten really into vinyl. Only someone Dagwood's age says "YESSIREE" unironically. Or HOORAH instead of "hooray!" Etc. But there's nothing particularly groan-y about the fill. Except BRAHS, wow, no (33D: Guy friends, in slang). That is not a plural noun. At best (very best), "brah" is something you'd use as a form of "bro" when speaking to some guy. But even that is usually "bruh." Your guy friends are not your BRAHS, and if they are, what are you even doing? Get help. 

"FEEL ME?" still feels current, so that was a nice little colloquial flourish. Otherwise, the fill just sat there, mostly unobtrusively, holding the marquee theme answers in place. Today, that was probably enough. OK, gotta go. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:23 AM  

No. A debut? This? Interlocking theme answers, six excellent NYT answer debuts, junk-free grid, first-rate cluing? What great promise is evident here, for crossword entertainment ahead. I am wowed and thrilled.

There was so much crackle in this grid that the theme simply fit in, rather than drive the puzzle, for me. The theme reminded me of a David Steinberg puzzle that had “plus sign blocks” and was brilliant and memorable. I knew Jeff Chen would bring it up in his review (and he did). David’s theme was not exactly like today’s, more a cousin, but if you’ve never done his puzzle (a Thursday), I highly recommend that you do – 6/8/17.

But back to this puzzle. I laughed out loud at the clues for AIDES, APB, and APOLLO XI, when a single LOL is rare and wonderful for me. I learned GOLDEN HANDCUFFS, Elizabeth Warren’s fun maiden name, and DALI’s derisive nickname. The puzzle let me use the theme to help with the solve, so the whole experience felt unified.

Can’t say enough about this puzzle. You have a gift, SS, and have found it and employed it, and it was my gift today, and please, may there be more to come. Thank you!

Loren Muse Smith 6:35 AM  

Always a great day when Rex doesn’t tear it apart! And there I was dreading a complaint about the extraneous AND in STAND.

@Lewis – wonderful post.

Not the wordplay that I prefer, but what a satisfying aha moment. Well, it was at once satisfying and embarrassing; I can’t believe how long it took to tease out. I finally considered the grid art and bam. Got it.

46D, SAY, took a minute. Love that clue. SAY you’re tooling along, filling in answers and get stuck on a particularly sneaky synonymsome clue . . .

I guess there’s a difference between SCHISM and CHASM? A SCHISM is a little rift between two entities, but a chasm is a huge gulf between them? Over the summer as I spent more and more time with Mom, the chasm between her fascism delight and my fascism horror – a kind of faschism if you will – grew every day.

Peer, Peep, PEEK. Hmm.

No matter how many times I go and try to figure it out, I never know if it’s BORNE or born. I mean I guess it’s a transitive/intransitive thing, but man you can overthink it.

He’d amount to a man full of scorn
(With a side little interest in porn.)
Throughout his gestation
He’d target our nation,
Biding his time to be borne.

Loved the clue for TEEM. The party was lousy with accordion players.

Happy Thursday, everyone. May your SCHISMs not become chasms.

Michiganman 6:47 AM  

I usually don't enjoy this sort of use of the black squares. But I had a good time with this anyway.

Anonymous 6:54 AM  


Born is the past participle of the verb bear only when it's used in the sense of birth. ... Borne is the past participle of the verb bear in all senses except the one related to birth.

Hungry Mother 7:02 AM  

Fun with the black squares. I love a puzzle. I lived in central PA for 27 years, but still struggled with the spelling of SHENANDOAH for some reason. I thought that it flowed into the Chesapeake Bay, but what do I know My wife and I enjoyed a 3 day adventure riding our bikes on the C&O Canal tow path along the Potomac some years ago.

OffTheGrid 7:07 AM  

Other links in the grid reading across, HOORAH APOLLOXI, EAT TACOS (with YUM below)

Is GOLDENH a product of Prep.H for seniors?

kitshef 7:19 AM  

Fun fact: the inspiration for Take Me Home, Country Roads was a country road in Maryland.

What an excellent week of puzzles this has been.

@Hungry Mother - the SHENANDOAH flows into the Potomac, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay, so you were sorta right.

CDilly52 7:19 AM  

Amen and AMEN @Leeis and @LMS. Thank you both for such clever and thorough reviews. I just happened to get the trick right away on the iconic Nashville GR(and)OLEOPRY, simply because that was the first thing that popped into my head when I read the clue and I had finished all of the NW segment so had THEGR.

What really wowed me wfe clever and very amusing clues, as I enjoyed Identical chuckles to those @Lewis pointed out. I have heard of GOLDEN parachutes but never GOLDEN H(and)CUFFS.

Things to learn, clever and well executed theme, fun all the way through. Gotta run this morning.

Z 7:57 AM  

Another, “yeah, that does work” reaction. I sussed it our fairly early, so the “aha moment” was muted. I don’t know how else you would do it, but the “—“ clues really give the game away, now. I started in the NE and got the GOLDEN part easily. I’m not really familiar with GOLDEN HANDCUFFS, but easy enough to infer, and then I worked around and saw DAGWOOD SANDWICH and the rest was a challenging Tuesday. With these kinds of grid games there is a sweet spot between too easy to be much fun and too challenging to be much fun. This fell slightly on the “too easy” side of the scale for me, but it does work, the themers are all god answers, and I know for others this will hit that sweet spot.

Anyone who has been reading the commentariat for awhile will know what got the side eye from me. When did we start random roman numeralizing APOLLO missions? Huh? When?!? A pox of OXEN TEEMing in your living room for that. Blrrrgh and getoffamylawn.

I’m 60 and have heard THRIFT used this way, but it’s been awhile. Seems like the S and L scandal of the 80’s pretty much scrubbed clean the language of that term.

@Anon6:54 - Not to disagree with you because you’re probably absolutely correct, but what a gawdawful arbitrary rule. This is why I hate spelling. I always prefer my explanation for the reason something is spelt the way it is spelt. “English.”

@Albie - First, blame @JC66, but “Albie” is so much easier to type out than “albatross shell” so expect to see it more, especially from me. Second, that was a pretty funny response late last night.

Also, Saw this job posting on Twitter last night. The person from the NYTs who posted it made it clear that this is not Shortz’s job. It seems like they are adding an editor above Shortz to deal with all the various games. It sounds like this will be Shortz’s boss.

ChuckD 7:58 AM  

Pleasant and enjoyable Thursday. Decent theme and highly elegant construction. The long themers were all solid especially the OPRY and no real gluey stuff in the overall fill. Liked TACOS over YUM. The FEMALE, FEELME stack was interesting and MOONSET is great.

@Loren - I experienced the same faschism with my father towards the end - it’s an odd dynamic but it sadly appears as if our great country is split one for one the same way.

Birchbark 7:59 AM  

For breakfast today, I will have a SOFT BOILed egg on an English muffin.

DAGWOOD S[AND]WICH -- There is a good Italian delicatessen in St. Paul called Cosetta's. When in the neighborhood, I find an excuse to stop in and stock up. Once home, no matter the time, I slice the crusty bread, add hot capicolla, thin sliced mortadella with pepper and pistachios, turkey, hot giardinera, and mayo. HOORAH!

JD 8:04 AM  

I knew what was going on here - easy - and Could. Not. Finish.

MCS before MGS gave me The Creole. Then, when I splashed down into that SW corner, Ke_ _ pen just toyed with my brain. Never thought of Opry ... and (sound of a 25 lb. bag of talc hitting the floor) done in. Red faced stoopid. Easy stuff I should know.

But do disagree with every single Rexword - especially Belieber, Millennial nostalgia - except Apolloxi. Looks like a city in Mississippi.

mmorgan 8:06 AM  

Started this last night, got almost nowhere with it. Opened it up this morning and the first thing I noticed were those plus signs and before I knew it everything came together. But it was fun, and the revealer helped a ton. Never heard of GOLDEN HANDCUFFS but I got it just from UFFS once I saw how the trick worked. I know this general sort of thing has been done but this was crisp and fun and thank you Simeon Siegel!

albatross shell 8:10 AM  

Can't say I've ever noticed it before but SHEN and DOAH sound like they are a biblical Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

jberg 8:12 AM  

I don’t think Rex noticed that the black-squares-as-letters were + signs, reflected in the clue for 39A AND.

I was willing to think THE GR might be a famous Nashville hotel or something, but when I saw myself looking at OPRY down below the scales fell from my eyes. The rest was easy— except the NE, where I was completely fooled by the “pilot” misdirect in the clue for 15A, anc was trying to think of a TV show about biLOXI, and hoping Sally didn’t hit them too bad.

I loved having both TEEM and DEEM, and SOB crossing SOBA!

Welcome back, @Loren!

Pamela 8:18 AM  

I went to bed last night completely frustrated, then woke up this morning and voila- I got it.

I knew DAGWOOD from the beginning but couldn’t put it together. Realized at some point that there was an extra letter at the end of some words, even had the AND... but still had to sleep on it to put it together. Hated it last night, love it today.

I hated HOMEEC. My mother taught me much more, and the boys were learning stuff in shop I was curious about. Woodworking, oil changing, all that stuff. I got pretty good with power tools, but I still don’t know anything about fixing cars all these years later. Cost me a fortune!

Loren Muse Smith 8:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
TTrimble 8:39 AM  

My experience matches @mmorgan's and @Pamela's. Actually, I was dozing off in the wee hours while solving, then closed the laptop and went to bed. When I woke up, I saw (a) a godawful time, due to said dozing I guess, and (b) the theme almost instantly, whence I wrapped up the puzzle in a jiffy.

---[SB Alert]---

It's been quite a long dry spell (ha, spell, get it) but finally I ascended to the throne today. (Have been coming close but no cigar recently.) And if I can do it...

pabloinnh 8:49 AM  

So, being very smart and good at trivia, I had the Y from HOORAY and plunked in RYMAN for the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, where I think some Prairie Home Companion programs came from, and I thought, hah, not too many people are going to know that one! Well, that did not turn out well, but I still feel good about remembering it.

Took forever to see XI as a Roman numeral and BELIEBER was a WOE, as were GOLDEN HANDCUFFS. Ditto for BRAHS. Huh?

Two smiles today, my hometown is here, although we are not the home of the disease, and SHENANDOAH is a go-to song for my singing partner and me. Well, he plays and I sing, and if you don't like to sing SHENANDOAH, you just don't like to sing.

Very impressive debut, SS. i think you made the all-star Thursday team already.

Wi-Fi 8:50 AM  

Hi Hungry Mother. I think you might be thinking of the "Susquehanna" River which does flow into the Chesapeake Bay.

algiardello 8:51 AM  

Let me begin by saying that I’ve been doing the New York Times crossword puzzle only since March (and, no, it has nothing to do with COVID), so my experience is limited. But I found this perhaps the most satisfying puzzle I’ve seen in six months. Learning Dali’s real name and Warren’s maiden name? Being reminded of what a RAD is? The clue for AIDES? Fantastic. Rex may be a crossword god, but his nit-picking here is extraordinarily churlish even by his standards. Apollo XI is usually written with Arabic numerals? Sheesh.

Frantic Sloth 8:55 AM  

Allow me to be blunt:

I loved this!!

Brilliant constructioneering? ✅
Original and entertaining fill? ✅✅
Enjoyable, crunchy solve? ✅✅✅➕(see what I did there?)

GOLDENH➕CUFFS is a new term to me, but I like it. I liked a lot of the fill. And while I'm usually a stickler for wanting the revealer at the end, the positioning of this one was not only acceptable, it was the perfect exception because of that brilliant constructioneering you've heard tell of.

Thank you, Simeon Seigel, for a wonderful start to my day!


Harryp 9:01 AM  

I got the theme at THEGRANDOLEOPRY and saw the grid art ANDS, and raced through most of this puzzle, but that doesn't mean I didn't like it. Some of the cluing and fill was excellent. The aforementioned APB, AIDE, and APOLLOXI (@Lewis), among them. This from a debut effort gives us someone to look forward to. Good Job Mr. Seigel!

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

I think Rex got it. He wrote, "AND" strings that line up at just the write places to make the little "+" signs,"

gerry w 9:09 AM  

If I were giving out awards, I'd give this the Puzzle of the Year award. The theme was just tricky enough to provide some fun untangling the answers. The whole puzzle was filled with great entries. Lastly, the construction feat was impressive. In short, I LOVED this puzzle.

Minor nit: The 39-Across revealer could have just been clued "+". That would have been more subtle.

Nancy 9:12 AM  

Wonderfully tricky and crunchy puzzle! And I didn't need to cheat on HODA. I DIDN'T NEED TO CHEAT ON HODA!!!!! I had already figured out that the ANDs were under the black squares in GOLDEN HANDCUFFS, DAGWOOD SANDWICH and SHENANDOAH RIVER, so why, why, why did I continue to want GRAND where THEGR was (6D)??? Why did I continue to have such trouble in the NW? Maybe because I've never called a savings bank a THRIFT (though when it came in I surely recognized it) and also because I couldn't come up with FARMED out for "subcontracted". (I wanted LEASED out, which didn't work).

Anyway I cheated. On the pop culture, natch. And, natch, it was the pop culture that I was cursing. But that's not what got me. It was the very clever and well disguised theme that got me. And I say Bravo! Everything a Thursday puzzle should be.

Alex S. 9:15 AM  

Brah is very much a plurable noun in Hawaii where it is common usage, especially when speaking pidgin.

(I don't speak pidgin but lived in Hawaii long enough that I never batted an eye.)

Blue Stater 9:18 AM  

Ugly, ugly, ugly, nasty, no-fun puzzle. I just hate gimmicks for gimmicks' sake.

Anonymous 9:19 AM  

“Feel me” is Tommy (The Who) age, not current.

Steamed Female 9:20 AM  

Housekeeping 101 doesn't even begin to describe what HOMEEC is. Without apologies, bringing back home ec to schools - and as a mandatory subject - is my hot button issue. And BTW thanks for the DALI clue.

Sixthstone 9:26 AM  

You'd think with the two giant black plus signs, I'd have grokked the theme pretty quickly, but maybe tackled this too early in the morning. Nice puzzle with good level of challenge and some fun answers.

Now I'm craving a DAGWOOD!

Pamela 9:34 AM  

Having TYEER, because of HOORAH and MED, as the Nashville landmark didn’t help at all even after OLDOPRY showed up. Not noticing the + signs in the grid, I looked all over for words starting with GR something. Amazing how stupid that seems now!

@Lewis- Thank you!
@LMS- I’m so glad you’re back!
@Z- I followed the link to the job offering last night- I wonder if that will change anything here?

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

@TTrimble- Congrats! Aren’t you the speedy one today! And before I’ve even had breakfast, don’t know about you.
Today I’m not even up to G yet. Yesterday I quit still short 5 words. Today I see they were all gettable. I guess I just ran out of steam.

RooMonster 9:36 AM  

Hey All !
Nice puz, but a bit Sneaky at 6D. I had GRAND, with OLE OPRY below the +, and was perfectly content with it. Once I got the "Aha, the +'s are ANDs" moment, saw it was THE GRAND. Again, sneaky.

GOLDEN HANDCUFFS new to me also. Sounds oxymoronic. "I want to leave, but the incentive to stay is so good." *Insert rattling handcuff sound here*

@Lewis, saw a bunch of EE's in here, 8 to be exact, all below Row 10. Neat. Do you log individual letters? Just curious where this falls in the E category.

Enjoyed this puz, but of course I gotta have nits. Lots of (or so it seemed) two word or longer entries. Think that's it, actually. NW corner oddly tough. Why? No idea.

MGS could've been an auto clue. As in one I've used in one of my many un-published puzs (poor me!), "A, B, or TC."

An overall fun puz. The PLUSES as ANDs was cool.

Four F's (HOORAH!)

Z 9:45 AM  

@jberg - I think you must have skimmed past Rex’s theme explanation: the black-square formations that look like "+" stand for the letter string "AND" in the answers that run directly into and out of them.

@pabloinnh - I was saved the Ryman error by not thinking of it right away, and then knowing the theme when I circled back. I could actually see the Band of Horses album cover in my head but Ryman was not coming through the fog and I moved on. Lucky me.

@Anon9:19 - “The feels” “FEEL ME” and “I feel seen” are all pretty current, mostly by the 25 and under crowd. I just did a Twitter search and there were 220 Tweets in the past hour using FEEL ME. “Do you FEEL ME now?” “i want this as a tattoo ... y’all FEEL ME” et cetera. Basically shorthand for “are you empathetic with me.”

@Steamed Female - Last I looked HOME EC was being called “Family Science” and I think there was discussion about changing that at the time. But, ditto. One of the results of the over-emphasis on STEM in the curriculum is the loss of space for courses like this.

Sir Hillary 9:50 AM  

I worked the NW first, and was so proud of myself for dropping Ryman at 5D as proof that my Nashville knowledge is sooooo much deeper than just knowing THEGR+OLEOPRY, which -- duh! -- everyone knows. HOORAy confirmed my acumen.

What an ass I can be.

Anyhoo, the theme became apparent with GOLDENH+CUFFS, although my first inclination was GOLDENparachute, which of course encourages executives to leave, not stay, so WTF was I thinking.

For some reason, the fill grated today. BRAHS -- huh? MOONSET -- really? APOLLOXI -- sorry, no. KEPTOPEN -- paint of the Kelly-est green variety. MGS, ETS, ALE/ATE/ADE, EKE, APSE, IRA, AMTS, NEE, RAD, ALMS -- MEH.

I did like SOFTBOIL, HOMEEC and SCHISM. Some fun cluing as well.

Prominent singing Ontarians from the 2010s: The idol of BELIEBERS and AVRIL Lavigne.

Mr. Cheese 9:54 AM  

I’m one who never looks at the puzzle construct so I didn’t have plus signs associated with the clues. Makes for tough solving.
Had to come here to see what I was missing.
A great construction feat! Enjoyed it even with all the help I needed to finish.
I’ll look more closely from now on.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Steamed Female: So you want HomeEc brought back or not? Bringing it back is a hot button issue for you because you want it back or don't? I'm not being snarky.

If it is brought back, and it is mandatory, it of course should be mandatory for girls AND boys.

Whatsername 9:59 AM  

While fill in the black squares isn’t anything new, this had a nice clever twist with the plus signs. The revealer was not much help in seeing the trick, but it was helpful in getting the remaining themers once I did see it. Great clue for APOLLO XI, and I liked MOONSET slipped in there with it. Really an excellent debut! Looking forward to more from Simeon.

This puzzle made me SORTA hungry. DAGWOODS, SUBS, TACOS, SPAM, SOBA noodles and SOFT BOILed eggs. Which reminds me . . .

Do they still teach HOME EC in school? Seems to me that learning the basics necessities of life is just as important as studying ancient history. Of course when I took it, if someone said “BRAH,” the girls would’ve blushed and the boys would’ve snickered. And where I took it, Home Ec was for girls and Vocational Agriculture for the boys. Nowadays I suppose that would be considered gender inhibiting or something equally horrifying. It certainly never seemed so at the time but then no one thought any different. One thing’s for sure, we’ve all come a long way since then baby.

Nancy 10:08 AM  

@pabloinnh (8:49)-- "If you don't like to sing SHENANDOAH, you just don't like to sing." Oh, how true, how true! I just love to sing SHENANDOAH! And you have a singing partner to sing it with you! How I envy you!

Maybe we can do a virtual Zoom trio rendition?? I've already chosen my ideal key. I can't identify that key, mind you, but I just tried out the notes on my piano. The first note is the A below middle C and the second, third and fourth notes are middle C. Does that work for you and your singing partner?

If it doesn't, you and your singing partner can always sing harmony :)

William of Ockham 10:08 AM  

Extremely easy. Even if speed-solvers aren't super fast. Plus signs immediately apparent in their function right from 34A x 6D

Rather transparent trick and easily clued fill.


pmdm 10:14 AM  

I thought this was a good mix of easy and hard. Figuring out the theme was surprising easy for me. But the NE corner defeated me.

Z: Sometimes a new position may be created with a particular person in mind. It's a sneaky way to give someone a raise. So the position may have been created with Shortz in mind. Of course, if someone else who is better applies, they may beat Shortz out. If the position is intended for Shortz, his current position might be abolished if he gets the promotion. I witnessed this type of subterfuge a number of times when I worked in USDOL. Either way, I would assume Shortz is able to apply for the position. Time will tell.

Joaquin 10:14 AM  

This puzzle was great. Lots of fun cluing; clever use of the plus signs; and I learned several new (albeit useless!) facts.

Would any of us come here on a regular basis if Rex DIDN'T nit-pick, complain, and act grouchy? That's part of the fun.

Carola 10:14 AM  

Mostly easy, entirely delightful. Tentative steps up top eventually led me down to the beautiful SHEN-AND-OAH RIVER, where the floodgates to the remainder of the gird opened up. Loved DAGWOODS-AND-WICH!, nicely complemented by the ATE TACOS YUM cluster. And BORNE, because it reminded me of learning the word in childhood from Stephen Foster's "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair" ("Borne like a vapor on the summer air"). Spent lots of time racking my brain over a 1969 TV show ending in LOXI, making the laugh at the answer that much more satisfying.
Help from previous puzzles: HODA, BELIEBER. Do-overs: CD tower, GOLDEN HANDshake. Dunce-cap moment: measuring my meds in MmS.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

"There was a..." Isn't "was" the SECOND word of most limericks? Yeah, so I figured out "was" anyway, scratching my head and talking to myself. That pretty much sums it up for me (get it, sums/add? - or, I should say, you feel me, sums/add? ). Whew, another Thursday. - newbie

mathgent 10:35 AM  

What a great one! Sixteen red plus signs in the margins, way above average. Smart cluing, especially “No-fault rulings at court?” for LETS. Terrific gimmick.

I’m a great admirer of Dali but I hadn’t seen that anagram of his name. I don’t know what “avida” has to do with him. If it’s a Spanish word, it shouldn’t be next to “dollars.”

Thinking now about my favorite painters, I put Dali at number two, just behind Van Gogh, a little ahead of Rembrandt and Picasso. The Dali museum in Tampa is very good but it doesn’t have many of his great canvases. The museum in Figueres, where he was born, has more, I understand.

Rex isn’t giving enough credit to the intricacy of the construction. Each of the themers crosses two other themers, all fifteens.

The clue for SOBA should reflect the fact that many (most?) of these noodles are not gluten-free.

Many of us may not have noticed RAD in the grid. It’s a rare three. Short for “radian.”

EdFromHackensack 10:41 AM  

Hand up for RYMAN/HOORAy,,,, until nothing but THRIFT would work for 1A. I thought this more difficult than Rex, though I completed it error free. Just didn’t get the trick early enough. BRAHS is garbage... never heard of that and I have a ton of guy friends.
** Can someone please explain AIDES as the answer to Starts to de-camp? I am assuming it is something political but I cant see it.

Great puzzle otherwise! and a debut at that... congratulations Simeon. took me 2 cups of coffee, very enjoyable

Reno retired 10:44 AM  

I think we need to take a cue from the Academy Awards and insist on a diversity standard for new contributors. Merely being good at what you do is no longer of any value. So Simon myst go. Need all new contributors to submit to a diversity test. Should makeRex and the Uber liberals happy.

bocamp 10:46 AM  

What a glorious way to start the day! A wonderfully challenging puzzle by @ Simeon Seigel, an upbeat analysis by @ Rex, and out-of-the-gate comments by two of my favorite contributors, @ Lewis and @ LMS; thank you all! :)

Country Roads rates right up there on my list of favorite songs, as does John Denver as an artist. I understand there's controversy as to which state Denver was thinking of when he had Taffy Nifert & Bill Danoff write the lyrics to his tune. I've visited both states; they're both skookumly beautiful. I think the song is a tribute to the whole Shenandoah valley area. Here are a few pins related to "Shenandoah" that turned up on a search of my Pinterest boards. Happy "Shenandoah" day! :)

Peace in the Valley 🕊

Lewis 10:47 AM  

@roo -- I had in my margin notes those 8 double EEs, and meant to put it in my comment, but it just slipped by. I realized it a bit later but didn't feel worth a comment on its own. I'm not surprised you caught it, because you notice these things too. Anyway, no, I don't track double letter records, but I do believe the high double letter counts happen more with vowels than consonants.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

"but honestly there's probably some pretty easy computer hack that lets you search all the 15s in some database and for answers with "AND" strings, and then you can just pick and choose from there."

And where would be this database with all the words or phrases of 15 letters in the English language be?? Would be useful to have for writing algorithms (but, no, I don't think its would be "pretty easy" to do, unless the database is all the answers in previous crosswords - which would be "pretty unoriginal"

Z 10:54 AM  

@pmdm - Here’s the original tweet. If you go down through the replies you will see that Shortz is mentioned several times and essentially ruled out.
Idle Speculation
Don’t forget that Shortz is 68, so quite possibly not interested in taking on new responsibilities. I can even imagine him saying “enough with all these added responsibilities.” Crosswords have morphed into crosswords and variety puzzles and kenken and minis and and and..., and Shortz may want some else to deal with it all so he can enjoy more table tennis.
OTOH - Someone pointed out that the posting asked for someone with “high emotional intelligence.” That isn’t all that unusual these days, but it’s hard not to read that as just a teensy bit of a swipe at Shortz. Probably not, but he has stepped into it unnecessarily a few times and I wouldn’t be the least surprised if “the old gray lady” wanted someone who didn’t step into such messes. Or maybe they just want somebody who will expand the game subscription gravy train and this has nothing to do with Shortz at all.
/Idle Speculation

@Pamela - I doubt much would change here. Let’s imagine the most radical of changes occur, A new games editor is hired and immediately replaces Shortz with Patrick Berry or Erik Agard. Does anyone really think Rex’s tone would soften? I don’t.

Another “Ryman” error. I’m feeling more and more blessed for not thinking of the name right away.

@anon10:28 - “There once WAS a girl from Nantucket” Somebody who understands anapestic meter better than I can probably explain why the “once” is needed.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

to follow up about ease of a computer "hack" version using human intelligence: 3/4 themers were original, so not much database help there. Also, from

"Limiting the set to 15-letter phrases with the string /AND/ but not the word "AND" yields plenty of colorful options… but combinations of four such which can intersect each other are scant, which makes for a tighter theme."

Kudos to the constructor.

Whatsername 11:01 AM  

@LMS: (6:35) You really nailed it with your avatar. I don’t know how you do it, but I love it. And faschism is real. Sadly a lot of that going around these days.

@kitchef (7:19) I loved Country Roads as I did most of John Denver’s music but never knew that about the origin of it. And interestingly, it also features the SHENANDOAH RIVER.

@Pamela (8:18) When I was in my early 20s I took a powder puff mechanic class and learned, among other things, how to change the oil and change a tire. Thankfully I’ve never had to do either one.

bocamp 11:02 AM  

***SB Alert***

@ TTrimble 8:39 AM

Congrats! I'm always amazed when someone gets all the words. Way to go!!

I'm still 4 shy on yesterday's; will work on it some this a.m., then pack it in at noon, and switch to today's.

Peace in the Valley 🕊

The Clerk 11:04 AM  

Very enjoyable. Thank you for constructing.

JD 11:05 AM  

@pmdm, @Z, Another common scenario. Current employee could claim age discrimination on a separation and is told, "We're bringing in someone to do X (the existing employee's job description). This will give you time to focus on the things you do best. Could we get a list of everything you do?” More subtle than immediately eliminating a position and creating new one. Nudge nudge nudge. Employee figures out what’s going, takes the retirement party and leaves.

There will be no raise for anyone. “This is a vital moment in the life of The New York Times.” Here they mean they want someone young. The new person's title won't carry with it the boom times pre-2008 wage they were paying under the told title (that job's now eliminated), even though they'll tack on new responsibilities.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

Thanks Z. The limericks I remembered didn't use "once" and when I looked up Limericks those also didn't use it. But now that you mention it, it clicks! Don't know why it didn't sooner. I can stop grinding my teeth now. 😀 - newbie

Loren Muse Smith 11:06 AM  


Hack mechanic 11:08 AM  

To me schisms always had a religious shading, chasms a geologic one

bocamp 11:11 AM  

@ pabloinnh 8:49 AM wrote:

"Two smiles today, my hometown is here, although we are not the home of the disease, and SHENANDOAH is a go-to song for my singing partner and me. Well, he plays and I sing, and if you don't like to sing SHENANDOAH, you just don't like to sing."

Amen to that! it's always been a favorite of mine, too :) Paul Robeson version here.

Peace in the Valley 🕊

pmdm 11:14 AM  

Z: Sadly, all we have now is idle speculation. As a person a few years older than Sortz, I would say that not all people that old want to throw in the towel. Especially if it involves doing something you enjoy. Different stroke for different folks.

What bothers me is that I can't see someone Shortz's age sliding into the position of answering to someone else when you have been top banana for so long.

The expansion of the NYT puzzle universe seems to have been pushed by Shortz, who apparently was responsible for the NYT is spending more money on the puzzles. And the expansion of the Sunday magazine puzzles seems to have been a Shortz project. (Maybe not.) I am unfamiliar what's been happening with the online puzzles.

With the expansion of the NYT puzzle universe, there certainly is more work for the editors. Enough to justify an upgrade of positions and salaries. With Joel's expansion of duties (one daily puzzles and four Sunday puzzles), I could see Shortz becoming "chief" editor and Joel the crossword editor.

What would be most humorous is the situation where if Shortz became chief editor and Sharp crossword editor. Now there would be a good soap opera thread.

Joseph Michael 11:14 AM  

A brilliant puzzle worthy of every bit of praise it receives. And on top of all the other construction feats cited here, if you highlight the four intersecting themers, you’ll see that they form a giant plus sign!

bocamp 11:21 AM  

***SB Alert***

@ Pamela 9:34 AM wrote:

"…Yesterday I quit still short 5 words. Today I see they were all gettable. I guess I just ran out of steam."

Thank you for this; you've given me hope. I'm still working on yesterday's (4 to go), and to know that the words are not outliers is encouraging. I'll give it til noon, then … LOL

Peace in the Valley 🕊

Nancy 11:30 AM  

Boy, does that new NYT "games coordinator" (or whatever the hell the title is) sound dreary. Written in the most turgid of present-day corporate-speak, it makes the job sound like one big management headache -- from the moment you start in the morning to the moment you collapse bed at night. WS would be wiser than wise to avoid it. This is a man who I suspect has many of the same hedonistic impulses that I do. He likes the "fun" parts of jobs and has managed to carve out for himself a quite fun-filled workday -- without even the need (long before Covid) to ever venture to the NYT offices. And, yes, it would steal time from his table tennis, just the same way if I'd ever gotten a promotion to a top management job in publishing, it would have stolen precious time from my tennis-playing.

I'm a big Shortz fan and so I do hope that this is the explanation. If, however, it's a way to put Shortz in [non-golden] HANDCUFFS and force him to choose and edit puzzles based on the "wokeness" and youthiness currently in fashion, I think it's rather a bad thing -- one that could well force WS to quit. I'd be beside myself with worry over the possibility if all my worrying muscles weren't already being deployed in my concern over whether, on Nov 4, we will all find ourselves living in an autocratic, authoritarian, despotic, martial law-controlled Banana Republic.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

when I was in HS, lo those many years ago, only those with no hope of making it into college had HOME EC (girls) or shop (boys). those who did, got science club or an AP language or some such. who said sorting by smarts is a new form of discrimination? now that we have a dim bulb in the WH, all those HOME EC and shop folks finally have one of their own ru(i)nning the country. I guess they're delighted. it will just disappear, like a miracle.

EdFromHackensack 11:32 AM  

Can someone please explain AIDES as the answer to Starts to de-camp? I am assuming it is something political but I cant see it.

bocamp 11:34 AM  

@ Mr. Cheese 9:54 AM wrote:

"I’m one who never looks at the puzzle construct so I didn’t have plus signs associated with the clues."

"I’ll look more closely from now on."

I love your positive attitude; I have exactly the same issue, and have been (when I can remember) taking a few precious seconds to look over the grid before embarking on the adventure. For me it's (as in all things) about inuring oneself to new ways of doing things (easier said than done LOL). :)

Peace in the Valley 🕊

Frantic Sloth 11:37 AM  

@albatross shell 810am 🤣

@JD 804am Ap-puh-LUCK-see Mississippi. 🤣

@TTrimble 839am Huh. Almost my exact solving experience, except for the "jiffy" part.

@EdFromHackensack 1041am Someone probably already answered this, but AIDES-de-camp. AIDES "starts" that term.

@Loren 1106am 👍

Masked and Anonymous 11:41 AM  

@Muse: Nice avatar today. Also, nice emoji.

The puztheme was a definite "plus", here. Each themer intersects another themer, too boot -- that setup cannot be an easy constructioneerin rodeo. Would this be considered a sorta rebus theme? A rebus in the dark theme, at least? Anyhoo … M+A liked it.

Only 74 words, but the puzgrid looked real constricted, for some reason. Looks can be deceivin, I reckon. Becuz it's got 6 nice 8-letter longballs, and 3 7's. fave: APOLLOXI … sounds like the kind of brain condition M+A suffered from, while tryin to figure out the APB/BRAHS zone.

Also liked seein HOMEEC … M+A almost just had that word in his 15x15 (kinda desperate) themed puz, which he finished yesterday. It ended up bein ONESEC instead, tho. Not many constructioneer-friendly stuff+EC words, btw. But, I digress.

staff weeject pick: APB. Great ?-mark clue, on this lil pup. Honrable mention to AND, as it got to be the puz revealer. Looks like about four ?-mark clues, today -- sooo … medium good+feisty.

Thanx for the fun, and congratz on yer primo debut, Mr. Seigel brah. [Did Tycho Brahe have lotsa brahs? Just askin for a brah.]

Masked + AnonymoUUs


bocamp 11:53 AM  

@ Carola 10:14 AM

John McCormack sings Stephen Foster's "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair," (1934)

Peace in the Valley 🕊

Wm. C. 11:54 AM  

Sheesh! I read the clue for 15A "About 600 Million viewers watched its pilot in 1969" as referring to a TV Series, and otherwise had difficulty with other fill in the NE.

The sad thing is that I worked on the Apollo Guidance Navigation and Control System software for the Apollo Command and Lunar Modules at MIT Instrumentation Laboratory where it was developed, and met and had dinner with most of the Astronauts when they would come up north to "fly" our simulators before our software was released to Houston. They all were "Pilots," each with their own T-36 jet aircraft for the trip. The other reason they would come north is that they needed to get their monthly flying hours quota to get their flight pay.

Lewis 12:03 PM  

@anon 10:48 -- A good database would be a word list, like Jeff Chen's, which not only has all the past crossword answers, but many words and phrases that have never been in the NYT crossword.

bocamp 12:04 PM  

@ Anonymous 10:28 AM wrote:

""There was a..." Isn't "was" the SECOND word of most limericks?"

Exactly, I had the same issue and same result: "I met a…" or "there was a…" or "I knew a…", so just left it alone, figuring someone here would suss it out for me. LOL

Well, wouldn't you know, just as I was writing that last line, this popped into mind: "There once was a…" :)

Gotta love the way the mind works (sometimes) LOL

Peace in the Valley 🕊

Mr. Cheese 12:06 PM  

@LMS, just noticed your avatar. Thumbs up!

GILL I. 12:10 PM  

Wow....This gets my cool beans award.
I looked at my puzzle when it spit out of my printer and I immediately saw the two crosses and thought: Hmmmmmm, I bet those little things have something up their sleeves...Yep.
The yippee ki yay came flowing out of the SHEN(AND)OAH RIVER. Memories of canoeing on it and the Potomac for a month long respite. I didn't wash my hair the entire time because I forgot shampoo but I had soap and it floated down the beautiful waters. The view of the Massanutten (sp?) Mountain and my dirty feet will remain inside my brain forever.
@Rex....I don't know...but why do you assume a computer hack may have come up with these answers? This was clever and I always want to believe that an actual clever human could actually come up with these clever gems all on his own. I know sometimes we need a recipe for a noodle soup, but sometimes we just use our noodle and add the necessary ingredients all on our Speaking of.....@Birchbark....can I come over for some of your vittles? I can bring the vino.
I had some moments of huffing and puffing. I've never ever heard of BRAHS. I'm glad I'm not a guy. Is that guy thing a gay thing? I also thought it might be a GOLDEN H(AND) shake. What if the executive is a woman. You couldn't really give her CUFFS. Well, maybe if she wears a Luigi Borrelli. I'm betting a Mansur Gavriel handbag might do the trick for the ladies of the execs.
I took HOME EC when I was at Pali High. I had to because it was required. All we did was cook. I remember we had to make a favorite dish. I made my favorite black beans and rice. The only one who ate it was my teacher and she loved it. Everybody else brought in things like hot dogs on beans, tuna casseroles and one girl even brought in a frozen Swanson. Thank you Julia Child for letting us finally grow up.
My avatar is me and my little fur ball, Moe. It's also the one I use on FB because it depicts the three things I love. My husband and I only go to restaurants that allow furry 4 leggers (Thank you Jerry Brown), I'm siping my favorite Sunday Mimosa and Moe is on my lap which he pretty much does 24/7....
I will now go and sing Country Road...Take me home at the top of my lungs like I use to. I hope I still have the pipes.

bocamp 12:15 PM  

@ EdFromHackensack 11:32 AM


Peace in the Valley 🕊

bocamp 12:27 PM  

@ Z 10:54 AM wrote:

"@anon10:28 - “There once WAS a girl from Nantucket” Somebody who understands anapestic meter better than I can probably explain why the “once” is needed."

Mea culpa; apologies for duplicating your clarification to @anon10:28, i.e., my post from 12:04 "Well, wouldn't you know, just as I was writing that last line, this popped into mind: "There once was a…" :)"

I hadn't scrolled down past 10:28 when I responded to @anon10:28.

Gotta keep reminding myself to read all the comments before replying to one. 🤞

Peace in the Valley 🕊

bocamp 12:31 PM  

@ Mr. Cheese 12:06 PM wrote:

"@LMS, just noticed your avatar. Thumbs up!"

I hadn't noticed, either; what a classic! LOL

Peace in the Valley 🕊

Frantic Sloth 12:43 PM  

@GILL I. 1219pm That Moe (Meau?) is quite the beau (Boe?), you know? So adorbs. I wondered the same thing about Rex's software claim and thought it sounded rather sour grapes-y, though it probably wasn't. Gimme your "cool beans" analysis any day!

old timer 12:46 PM  

I may be an old white guy, but as a lawyer I worked with a lot of Black clients, and I can assure you that as of 8 years ago, "Ya FEEL ME" was the Black English equivalent of "capisce" in Mafia-speak.

My puzzle is Writeover City today. I think I fell for every trap @Nancy and others have written about, including confidently writing in "Ryman" at 6D. Plus when I got the gimmick, confidently writing in "shake" instead of CUFFS. What makes this an especially well-crafted puzzle is that GOLDEN H(and)CUFFS is a far better answer to Mr. Siegel'a clue.

My oldest daughter wore boys' clothes all the way through school, and took Woodshop and other useful things instead of HOME EC. She is the mother of two of my adorable grandchildren and a Nurse Practitioner, and married a guy whose idea of a good vacation is to hike up to the John Muir Trail, with the whole family (her idea too -- she once tried to hike solo from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail, though she had to bail after a week). She didn't take Auto Repair, but her youngest sister did.

I am trying to remember the name of the deep-voiced woman who sang the best version of Shen(and)oah I've ever heard. As I recall, her version of "wide Missouri" was "Wide World of Misery".

I still have a couple of CD STANDS, but no player other than my desktop computers. And I love that TACOS is right over YUM. Para mí, un taco de lengua, por favor!

jae 12:53 PM  

Easy-medium. The two things that were problems for me were MdS (short for medications) before MGS and trying briefly to make GOLDEN parachute work. The rest was pretty easy. I know I’ve seen plus signs used before but this one was fun. Liked it, nice debut!

Michiganman 1:03 PM  

@Z. I know about the man from Nantucket but not the girl.

Arden 1:11 PM  

Loved it!

Teedmn 1:19 PM  

@Nancy, I want to join you on the rendition of SHENANDOAH. Whenever my mp3 player gets around to playing Harry Belafonte singing it live, I join in on the harmony. Also, it was one of my Dad's favorite songs to sing so it has a lot of sentimental value.

And 34A is where I got the theme. I had SHEN, knew what it must STAND for, and just needed 39A to confirm. But I had to reverse-engineer 6D because of the popular HOORAy. When I first had GOLDEN_, I was looking for "parachute" but thought that made for a mighty long rebus.

With the audience size mentioned in 15A's clue, I knew we were looking for a moon landing reference but wanted an Eagle something.

Simeon, congratulations on your debut. My coworker thought this was the perfect puzzle and when he found out this was a debut, he thought you should just quit now at the high(est) point. I don't agree with him - more please!

JC66 1:23 PM  


The person in the Nantucket limerick has to be male (hi @Michiganman).

Joe Dipinto 1:24 PM  

@Nancy 10:08 – Suggestion: unless you're singing a higher harmony part, either drop your first note to G or raise the other three notes up to D. Otherwise what you plinked out is not the opening of "Shenandoah". (You want the same tune as "Here Comes The Bride".)

This has been a PSA.

bocamp 1:30 PM  

***SB Alert***

Still working on yesterday's "SB" (giving myself til noon, so 90 minutes to go); just got a fairly common nine-letter word, so down to 3 words to go. :)

Peace in the Valley 🕊

jb129 1:31 PM  

I wouldn't give up "Golden Parachute" even tho it didn't fit. Never heard of golden handcuffs but I was stuck on parachutes so I didn't enjoy it

Never got into the rest of this puzzle & spent to much too trying to.

Richmond singer 1:32 PM  

Listen to the James Erb choral arrangement of Shenandoah and you'll be utterly transported.

Anoa Bob 1:38 PM  

Yous don't need no stinking program to generate phrases with an embedded AND strategically located within said phrases. Just use your imagination! Take 9 down for instance. It has a _ _ _ _ _ AND _ _ _ _ _ _ _ format. Piece of cake! Some candidates that immediately spring to mind are


I could go on but I think yous get the point. Just visualize AND, then imagine various combinations of letters fore and aft of it. Nothing to it!

Like to stay longer but I've got a virtual workshop in folding fitted sheets coming up in a few, so gotta run.

*British philosopher who said, if I remember correctly, that the biggest mystery of all was why there is something rather than nothing.

Unknown 1:56 PM  

I’d love to sing Shenandoah with you, Nancy, but it has to start on the G (not the A) below middle C because that first interval is a fourth, not a third ( try singing it again!). Liked the puzzle once I got the reveal but took me far too long. Partly fun, partly slog. But yes - I’ve got Hoda in my head now!

Unknown 2:04 PM  

“Aide-de-camp” - once a well- known descriptive title in the army ( possibly at the time of the American Revolution? LOL).

old timer 2:17 PM  

My guess for what it's worth is the NYT crafted the Games position for Patrick Berry. He already does a game every Sunday. Could be they have someone in mind who mainly does crosswords for a lot of other papers. But PB strikes me as the ideal candidate.

Schisms are a big deal in the history of Western religion. As a Catholic, I was taught to regret the great schism between the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox Greeks, and to make fun of the constant schisms in Protestant churches that have resulted in a plethora of competing sects.

My favorite relatively clean dirty limerick is the one about the young man from Khartoum.

bocamp 2:57 PM  

@ Anoa Bob 1:38 PM

Wow, that's pretty skookum! I wouldn't be coming up with a list of nine phrases like that any time soon. LOL

Nevertheless, point well made! :)

As for Bertrand, he responded to Leibniz's question, "why is there something rather than nothing?" as follows: "Another response to Leibniz’s great question is simply to deny that it has an answer. The philosopher Bertrand Russell took this line in a famous radio debate in 1948. He was asked why he thought the universe exists, and responded “I should say that the universe is just there, and that’s all”."

The article goes on to say, "On this account, the universe would be what philosophers call a brute fact – something that does not have an explanation. Russell’s point was not that humans hadn’t yet explained why there is something rather than nothing but that there is no possible explanation. Those who believe that our universe is part of the larger multiverse also take this line, suggesting that the multiverse – and hence our universe – has no ultimate explanation. Although it is now a popular response to Leibniz’s great question to say the universe is ultimately inexplicable, it does have the drawback of being intellectually unsatisfying (though of course that does not mean the response is false)."

I agree with Bertrand's point, "that there is no possible explanation" and believe that the task of the physical sciences should (and will eventually be) to "prove" that no "rational," "definitive" explanation exists (or ever will exist) for the creation of a material universe. The logical progression of scientific studies will lead us to slowly, but surely, come to understand that this so-called material universe is a temporal phenomenon, having no absolute basis in reality. The outcome is axiomatic: there has to be an absolute, real spiritual universe, and it has to exist the higher plane of spiritual thinking.

Ok, packing up the "soap box" (for now). LOL

Always enjoy your posts, Anoa :)

Peace in the Valley 🕊

Smith 4:03 PM  

@LMS this morning, sorry

I think of schism as being between groups of people and a chasm as being a landform...

Joaquin 4:24 PM  

Some blogging/commenting today!

We have the start of a couple of filthy limericks and a discussion of whether the universe actually exists for any reason (or at all). And even a few comments about today's puzzle.

Despite all of Rex's nit-picking, PC promoting, NRA hating, craziness he does provide a forum for some interesting ideas!

pabloinnh 4:24 PM  

@Nancy (and Teedmn and Unknown)-While it's true I have a singing partner, he doesn't sing on Shenandoah, but he does play some nice guitar. As for the key, we do it in F, which gives me a chance to sing a nice loud show off tenor F on the "Far away..." part. Of course, some folks think using "show off" and "tenor" together is redundant.

Anyway, I've tried singing with other folks on Zoom and I have to say it just doesn't work for me. Mostly you can hear yourself and that's it. So as much as I appreciate your generous offer and share your love for this song I'm afraid I'll have to take a pass. If you get the trio together somehow, please post a result

FWIW, and speaking of the Shenandoah River, we generally open our sets with "Country Road", which I also do as a solo. I sing a lot of John Denver because that's my range, and I think he writes great songs.

Good luck with everything, and don't forget to sing loud.

bocamp 4:52 PM  

@ Joaquin 4:24 PM

You did it again… made me laugh aloud! :)

BTW, "Bertr-"AND" is germane to the puzzle; @Anoa Bob's 1:38 PM "list of 9" is in response to @ Rex's comment about today's (+ AND) theme: to quote Rex: "finding words with "AND" strings that line up at just the write places to make the little "+" signs, but honestly there's probably some pretty easy computer hack that lets you search all the 15s in some database and for answers with "AND" strings, and then you can just pick and choose from there."

Yes, I'll admit that going off on a philosophical bender is a stretch, but… just sayin' :)

Peace in the Valley 🕊

Newboy 5:01 PM  

Sneaky cluing + brilliant commentariat = 😃

bocamp 5:03 PM  

Just got totally destroyed by the Sunday, Oct. 15, 1995 NYT puzzle. Can't recall that happening (to this extent) for a long, long time.

***SB Alert***

Threw in the towel on yesterday's "SB". Got within 3 words; haven't checked to see what I missed yet. On to today "SB".

Peace in the Valley 🕊

Joe Dipinto 5:14 PM  

Just scanned the comments briefly – re Will Shortz: he said in his interview with Gary Cee last October that when he was hired he was offered the choice of being on staff or being a freelancer. He chose the latter, and is happy with it. He does not receive standard employee benefits, etc., from the Times.

The new position sounds like it's definitely on staff.

Anoa Bob 5:24 PM  

@bocamp thanks for that trip down the something vs nothing memory lane. I would bring in Wittgenstein's angle on this issue, but I fear we are already too close to the edge of the bottomless pit of philosophical speculation!

When I decided to try xword constructing, I combed the internet for any sites that I could use in that endeavor and, yes, you are right, there are several that I found that were/are very helpful. Full disclosure, I peeked at one before coming up with that list. But that was my point---you don't need no stinking program---the web sites are already there!

Nancy 5:54 PM  

@Joe D and @Unknown -- I haven't played the piano since I was maybe 15. Do the math. Or, actually, please don't do the math.:) Anyway, right after I found the starting note on my electronic Roland piano, which I thought looked like an A, and then went to the three Cs (C being a note I'm really sure of) and then posted my comment, I thought to myself: Was that really an A? Could it possibly have been a G?" "Oh, well," I thought, "no use worrying about it. If I'm wrong, someone will correct me." And two someones have. So, since I know the Cs were correct, the first note must then be a G.

Would either of you (and @Teedmn will also be able to) like to tell me what key I would be singing in if it's G,C,C,C? I assume it's either the key of G or the key of C. But I'm not sure.

But it doesn't really matter. @pabloinnh doesn't want to sing with me. (Sob). @Teedmn-- you and I will have a date instead. You should know, everyone, that Teedmn and I have sung together in person on more than one occasion. She's terrific to sing with -- very musical, able to find a harmonic line of her own to any song she knows and sing it, thereby gracing you with the melody. And she even lets you pick the key. Boy, will you be sorry, @pabloinnh!!! Fair warning.:)

jae 6:11 PM  

****SB Alert****

@bocamp - I just bailed on yesterday’s with 1 left to go and would only have gotten it by running through a ton of possible combos of 4 letter words.

Unknown 6:13 PM  

Why would rex assume that the constructor used some sort of computer generator to find the 15-letter answers with AND embedded in them? That comes across as a cheap, low shot. Makes me think rex is a bit of a twit.

bocamp 6:15 PM  

@ Anoa Bob 5:24 PM

Ok, gotcha... you just did some hard-nosed investigative digging. Still, well done :)

I'll have a look at Wittgenstein.

Peace in the Valley 🕊

Anonymous 6:50 PM  

It’s cute how Z and michiganman pretend to be different people and have conversations with himself (themselves) ? Deny it Z. Let’s check your integrity.

Anonymous 7:17 PM  

Kay: [asking about Carlo's murder] Michael, is it true?
Michael: Don't ask me about my business, Kay.
Kay: Is it true?
Michael: Don't ask me about my business...
Kay: No.
Michael: [slamming his hand on the desk] Enough! All right. This one time, this one time I'll let you ask me about my affairs.
Kay: Is it true? Is it?
Michael: No.
Kay: [sighing relief] I guess we both need a drink, huh?

Barbara S. 7:24 PM  

***SB ALERT***
Sounds like you and I had the same experience yesterday. The one 8-letter word I didn't get was a term I didn't know at all. I had to look up the meaning.

Had no stick-to-it-iveness today and packed it in with 2 to go, both of which I should have found. Grrr on me.

pabloinnh 7:31 PM  

@Nancy-Oh oh. I'll be sorry? And I've been warned? This indeed sounds ominous.

When we're all able to travel again we'll do an in-person chorus. Suggested name, "The Rexites". Until then, the virtual version just doesn't work for me.

Hoping that any retribution is mild and painless.

Yr. obdt. svt.,


Joe Dipinto 7:50 PM  

@Nancy – Key of C Major.

bocamp 8:04 PM  

@ jae 6:11 PM

Yup, I hear ya; I missed one simple four letter word and two of ilk you described. Back to today's, two points shy of wanna-bee :)

Are you one who likes to go back and solve the old puzzles? If so, I got totally thrashed by a Sunday: Oct. 15, 1995. :( Your mileage may vary. :)

Peace in the Valley 🕊

Okoume 8:15 PM  

Yay! I'm so glad you're back on the blog. I've missed your posts.

bocamp 8:18 PM  

RE: Home-ec

The secondary school I was employed at (starting in the '70s) had co-ed home-ec and shop courses, both of which were mandatory. My grade 8 alternative school students would take a few courses in the main school to facilitate their re-entry into the regular system for grade 9. I would often accompany them (on request from the teachers) to provide some TLC and encouragement. Sometimes the teachers would ask me to help out with their own students, as well. I really enjoyed getting out of our portable and into the main school on these occasions. :)

Peace in the Valley 🕊

Barbara S. 8:47 PM  

Hah! I never would have pegged the premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, as a NYTXW solver. But here's today's news:

"The premier said the province is also instituting a minimum fine of $10,000 for the organizers of illegal social gatherings, as well as a $750 fine for people who show up to them.

"'We will throw the book at you if you break the rules,' Ford said.

"'They must be a few fries short of a happy meal, these people.'"

albatross shell 9:04 PM  

@Z 757am
Funny. Hmm. How + what.
You can call me al (alb, albie, tross),

bocamp 9:08 PM  

***SB Alert***

Made it to the penultimate level; took an hour to come up with the final word. 9 more to go for "QB"; Just missing some patterns and combos. Will keep at it. One of the side benefits of this blog and of "SB" is cutting TV time down to virtually nil. :)

I appreciate you all!

Peace in the Valley 🕊

jae 9:29 PM  

***SB Alert***
@bocamp - I'm 3 away from QB on today's but the only reason I'm that close is that I started keeping a list of SB words I didn't know/missed about a month ago and I go over it probably every day (I really don't have a lot to to). There are quite a few of those in today's SB.

... and yes I'm working my way through the NYT puzzle archive. I've done all the Sats. and am currently doing Fri. puzzles from 1995. I'll get to Sun. eventually.

bocamp 9:59 PM  

***SB Alert***

@ jae 9:29 PM

Great idea! Just watching (belatedly) the Apple event, and they're touting the new iPads, and the Apple Pencil right now. I'll use your idea of writing down the words and studying them on my iPad Pro. Love these coincidences!

I'm doing all the old puzzles; have worked up from '93 to '95 and backwards from now through to '12; I'll meet somewhere around 2004, then rinse and repeat. :)

Peace in the Valley 🕊

GHarris 12:51 AM  

My fastest time ever for a Friday.Probably why I liked it so much.Im posting this on the Thursday blog because Rex is not up yet.

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Burma Shave 9:59 AM  




APOLLOIX Unconsciousness ADWARE sponsored by GRAND MOONSET.
(It WAS SORTA late AND, YES, I'd had a couple.)

Diana, LIW 2:22 PM  

Ha! Got the Thursday "trick" w/o any problem. And...had fun at the same time. (tho for a while I had yODA instead of HODA - thought that sounded wrong...)

Diana, Lady in Waiting for Friday to be fun too

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

Belieber? BELIEBER!? Really?

rondo 3:45 PM  

Pop music fan groups have their own names:
•Justin Bieber Fans: Beliebers. ...
•Taylor Swift Fans: Swifties. ...
•One Direction Fans: Directioners. ...
•Big Time Rush Fans: Rushers. ...
•Cody Simpson Fans: Angels/Simpsonizers. ...
•Selena Gomez Fans: Selenators. ...
•Demi Lovato Fans: Lovatics

BELIEBER was a gimme for this off and on Rolling Stone subscriber.

rondo 4:05 PM  

AND . . . I forgot yeah baby AVRIL Lavigne, don't know her fan group's name.

leftcoaster 5:14 PM  

Took a while to see the “four pairs”, especially to get the unknown GOLDEN HANDCUFFS. (Gee, have to feel sorry for those execs.)

“Hold ups” before and after BORNE: APPOLO XI, ASADA, and BRAS, er... no, I mean BRAHS.

AND FEMALE FEEL ME? Really? Um... okay.

leftcoaster 7:36 PM  

Correction: “Held up”, not “Hold ups”.

MrDave 7:05 PM  

180° / π is not a radian. It's the constant to convert radians to degrees.

mukwonago 9:57 AM  


You misread the clue. It says "Meas. equal to 180°/pi".

If you divide 180 degrees by pi you get 57.3 degrees, which is the measure of one radian.

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