Series of documents that trace a path / WED 9-23-20 / Immunity-boosting element / Old-fashioned newsboy's assignment / Kitchen item on a roll / Flavor imparter to chardonnay / Toy with tabs and interchangeable outfits

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Constructor: Margit Christenson

Relative difficulty: Medium (4:34)

THEME: PAPER TRAIL (56A: Series of documents that trace a path, as suggested by this puzzle) — circled-square answers contain words that can follow "paper" in a familiar phrase, and those answers form a kind of winding "trail" across the grid

Paper "trail":
  • TOWEL (1A: Kitchen item on a roll)
  • BACK (15D: Lower-priced edition of a book)
  • CUT (25A: Minor injury for an office clerk)
  • CLIP (31D: Alternative to a staple)
  • TIGER (45A: One making empty threats)
  • ROUTE (27D: Old-fashioned newsboy's assignment)
  • PLANE (23A: Classroom missile that might be grounds for detention)
  • DOLL (28D: Toy with tabs and interchangeable outfits)
  • BAG (44A: Lunch carrier, often)
  • WORK (47D: Forms to process)
Word of the Day: MEZE (48D: Mediterranean appetizer) —
Meze, mezze, or mazza (/ˈmɛz/) is a selection of small dishes served as appetizers in parts of the Middle East, the BalkansGreece, and North Africa. In some Middle Eastern and African regions where it is present, especially predominantly Muslim regions where alcohol is less common, meze is often served as a part of multi-course meals, while in Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans, they function more as snacks while drinking or talking.
• • •

The concept is cute: an actual "trail" made out of "paper" (answers). Solving it was somewhat less than pleasing, though, as a. once you grok the theme you can fill in every theme answer without much thinking, bam bam bam bam etc., and b. the fill (in places), yikes. But then the longer answers are kinda nice overall (INK-STAINED LOW CEILING CAT-SITTING SLACK LINES etc.), so in the end, I think the puzzle probably comes out ahead of your average Wednesday. Wednesday was never my favorite day to begin with, but whatever, ahead is ahead. If I liked Wednesday this well every Wednesday, that would be an improvement, is what I'm saying. Just, you know, spare me garbage like -IANA (about the worst suffix answer imaginable), and maybe tone down the crosswordesey / overfamiliar short stuff (ISAK and EWOK and OCCAM, OH NO!). But I'll take a cute concept, solidly executed, with good long fill for days. Yes I will.

And now a word on Scrabble-f***ing (i.e. trying to cram a higher-value Scrabble tile into the grid just 'cause, regardless of consequences): Carolyn KEENE might be a slightly better choice than Geoffrey BEENE, but KOO is a better choice than absolutely nothing. KOO is nonsense. So the better cross here is BEENE / BOO. I mean ... KOO, come on. You could also flag the "Z" in the SW as Scrabble-f***ing, I suppose, but ... well, a few things. First, MEZE, though entirely new to me and completely new to the NYTXW, is actually a legitimate food thing. Expect to see MEZE a lot more now that someone has broken the seal on it. It seems to have pretty widespread currency, and if we can let TAPA(S) in the puzzle on a regular basis (and we do), then there's probably room for MEZE as well. Also, the "Z" from ZINC feels pretty natural in that position—certainly the best letter to fill the _INC hole. So I'm not blowing the Scrabble-f***ing whistle there. I reviewed the play. No foul. 

Weird that this one turned out to be Medium in difficulty considering how easy the theme stuff was to get. I attribute this to how hard it was to get started in the NW. For 1A: Kitchen item on a roll ([paper] TOWEL), I had SARAN, as (probably) many longtime solvers did, as the clue writer probably suspected we would. Then I "confirmed" SARAN with SIMP at 1D: Ninny (TWIT). My answers there are absolutely solid and plausible, the highest likelihood guesses, to be honest. I also used SARAN to lock in REAR at 3D: What's aft a ship's aft (WAKE), which I'll admit is less plausible than SARAN and SIMP, but once you've got things fixed in the grid, it can be a little hard to unfix them. Anyway, after some fussing about, I got unstuck, got the theme, and then filled in every themer with almost no thought. I also struggled at LADY'S / DYE LOT (not the prettiest part of the grid). Misspelled SKAT (I think of SCAT as animal droppings) (30A: Musical riffing from Ella Fitzgerald). Also struggled with BOTTLE (up) (44D: Hide, with "up"), which I guess kinda means "hide" (your feelings), but the action there feels more like one of forcing or cramming rather than merely "hiding." My brain just wasn't processing the clue right. That's it for the difficulty though: hard up front, mostly easy the rest of the way. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 6:22 AM  

Interesting coincidence. Just before downloading today’s puzzle, I had watched the World Origami Championships on tv. It was on PAPERview.

Hungry Mother 6:26 AM  

Easy one with a fun theme to trace throughout.

Harryp 6:28 AM  

A nice Wednesday puzzle, and another Debut. I realize Margit first started this 3 years ago and it was accepted before Covid, but there seems to be a spate of new crossword constructors just coming online, and I wonder if enforced idleness has something to do with that fact.

Loren Muse Smith 6:29 AM  

Once I figured out the theme, I marveled at the construction. PAPER TRAIL indeed. Very cool. I can’t imagine how tough it must have been to build this grid. Kudos to Margit!

@Joaquin - PAPER view: good one.

INK-STAINED crosses BACK. Sigh. So many weddings I did at the country club. . . so many strapless, backless bridesmaid gowns. . .so many platter-sized back tattoos lurching down the aisle atop challenging high heels.

The plural of LEXUS looks funny, right? (I mean, buses always makes me pause and wonder if I like busses better, but I guess the latter means plural kisses?) Wonder if there are any plural sticklers who would prefer Lexi. Or Lexera.

“Drat” – “darn” – DANG.

Loved the clue for LACES.

That “end of a ‘happy’ simile – CLAM? Weird choice of happy critter, so I looked into it. Seems happy as a clam is a truncation of happy as a clam at high tide.

Is an EWOK the same as a Wookiee? Like Chewbacca? I read recently that a jilted girlfriend put up those posters everywhere where you can tear off a number from the bottom. They advertised a cash prize for the best Chewbacca imitation, and the number to call was her ex-boyfriend’s cell phone number. Epic.

Every now and then I see a vintage book of paper DOLLS, and I wonder why it was so utterly compelling to punch out all the clothes and fold the little tabs around the cardboard body. But compelling it was.

VOICEBOX is so much more speller-friendly than larynx. Fitting that it’s a down answer. If the human VOICEBOX hadn’t dropped thousands of years ago, we’d all still just be shrieking and grunting at each other like chimps. And 7th-graders. Black Friday shoppers.

39D’s clue is timely. I had the vague thought that I should go out and rake all the woods surrounding my house. Those leaves are really starting to fall, and there’s no rain in the immediate forecast.

Lewis 6:35 AM  

Best part for me was the meandering trail, which I find very relaxing to look at, from beginning to end. My best days, the ones that go so fast because I’m so into them, are meanders. My best conversations, the ones that I wish could go on forever, are meanders. Meanders move on their own, prodded by curiosity and caprice, with no stress involved, and they enrich.

This puzzle morphed me into that meandering feel, a most lovely tone-setter for the day. Thank you, Margit, and congratulations on your debut!

Conrad 6:37 AM  

@LMS: Lexodes? Pronounced, of course, lex-OH-dees.

TheOmnivorousReader 6:40 AM  

I'll just point out here that the Pequod carries four whale boats (the things you go out to hunt a whale on and maybe take a Nantucket sleigh-ride if ye succeed in harpooning one), but is itself a ship. A whaler to be exact, ye lubbers.

Chris Christie 7:06 AM  

The Pequod is not a whale boat. The Pequod is a whaler, or a whale ship. On the Pequod were boats with pointed bows and sterns called whaleboats (one word). They were lowered into the sea for men to row toward the whale, whereupon they harpooned it and, after a Nantucket sleighride, brought it back to the Pequod.

mathgent 7:12 AM  

I didn’t see the gimmick until TIGER, about half-way through. Until then, I was laboring. What a delightful theme, all the shaded squares tied together with PAPERTRAIL.

The fill was fresh and smart. I enjoyed it very much.

MATEO. Spanish for Matthew. It didn’t occur to me immediately that books of the New Testament are named for Evangelists.

Out here in earthquake territory we know all about EPICENTERs. Is that word well known in other parts of the country?

I thought that Louis-iana might refer to some lore relating to a French king. But when I spelled it out for Google, the name of the state jumped out at me. Ah, yes!

kitshef 7:25 AM  

Fun and interesting. It would have been neater if 25A, 27D, and 44A had run backwards, so as to make the trail continuous.

One major nit: “Ai-yi-yi!” echoes unpleasantly yesterday’s garbage cluing.

Never heard of MEZE. Easy to avoid: MAZE/AMIN/AMID.

@Rex - SkAT is a game. SCAT is poop and singing and 'shoo'. Perhaps this will help you remember.

Queequeg 7:28 AM  

I say, tell Quohog there—what’s that you call him? tell Quohog to step along. By the great anchor, what a harpoon he’s got there! looks like good stuff that; and he handles it about right. I say, Quohog, or whatever your name is, did you ever stand in the head of a whale-boat? did you ever strike a fish?”

Without saying a word, Queequeg, in his wild sort of way, jumped upon the bulwarks, from thence into the bows of one of the whale-boats hanging to the side; and then bracing his left knee, and poising his harpoon, cried out in some such way as this:—

CHAPTER 18. His Mark.

Z 7:37 AM  

Well known fact: The Pequod docked at the Rye Marina so Ahab and Ishmael could ride the wooden roller coaster.

@Conrad & @LMS- C’mon man. Everyone knows it is Lexupodes (4 syllables).

Rock and Roll Hoochie KOO

@Joaquin 👍🏽😂😂😂👍🏽

Best Tuesday Ever. Pretty much what Rex said except for the errors in the NW and not minding KOO. Amongst rOO, bOO, cOO, wOO, tOO, pOO, gOO, hOO, lOO, mOO, and zOO, KOO isn’t that bad. Putting the puzzle on a Wednesday is Shortz’ fault. I can only assume he thought sussing out the (paper) thing would be harder than it was, but putting all those gray squares in the grid was a giant “Yoo Hoo” that meant I caught on at (paper)BACK. Also, hand up for side-eye at the WHALE BOAT clue.

pabloinnh 7:39 AM  

I put in TOWEL and TWIT instantly, so take that, OFL. BACK didn't make much sense but I thought it might be some obscure publishing term of which I was unaware, but further answers indicated a lack of paper, and the light went on, and the rest was fun. Had the same reaction to WHALEBOATS as some others, CLAM was a gimme because it's a common saying in these parts, Nice to see MATEO as I have a couple of friends by that name, and learned MEZE. Side eye to DYLELOT, and odd to see INKSTAINED without the requisite "wretches".

I'm reassured to be reminded that we have so many things requiring paper. In this digital age actually writing something on paper is becoming a lost art.

Very nice Wednesdecito, MC. Thanks for the fun.

ChuckD 7:40 AM  

Pleasant solve for the most part. Theme was fun and kept it interesting - rest of the fill was a little flat. I liked the MEZE x MATEO cross but I could see that being rough for some. WHALEBOATS was cool and LOBO over EWE was fitting. Could definitely do without IANA and KOO - both really bad.

Had the same question as @Loren regarding LEXUSES - it doesn’t look right.

Overall a decent Wednesday - weather is beautiful and whatever is churning out there has given us huge surf the past week.

Paul Statt 7:45 AM  

True. I just happen to be re-reading Moby Dick, and spotted this mistake, too.

mmorgan 7:50 AM  

I really dislike circles in puzzles and cringed at the number of them here at first sight — an assault on my delicate senses. But the puzzle was quite enjoyable, and getting the revealer allowed me to fill in the theme answers remarkably swiftly.

But I still don’t like circles in puzzles.

@LMS: I have heard the expression “happy as a clam” a thousand — no, more like a million - times, and I’ve never heard the part about high tide. Interesting. (I guess I hear it so much because people know how much I love clams.)

Joe R. 7:52 AM  

I misread 10A as “End of a ‘happy’ smilie”, and spent a lot of time trying to think of a four-letter name for a right parenthesis. :-)

Frantic Sloth 7:55 AM  

So much of this puzzle just seemed...sort to me, but I can't seem to put my finger on it. I'ma hafta wait to see if anyone else felt this way and read how they describe it because apparently it's beyond me.

My nits, big and small (and you can guess which are which):

Whoever wrote and/or accepted the clue for 25D never owned a cat. At least not for long.
35A is unequivocally wrong as we all know by now what the real plural of LEXUS is. Sounds better than LEXUSES, too.

I always thought it was paper airPLANE. Just plain paper PLANE pales more than pertains, it pains me to complain. Lame. Put the blame on Mame, boys.
(Sorry, but I just watched @GILLda the other night.)

"Whole load" = TON. Eh...if you insist.

"Something soft to sit on" = MOSS. What am I, a bear??

"Fulfill"=SATE. No. Glut, gorge, stuff, and surfeit are all better (and more accurate) than doing something with an obligation.

Still, except for the cat "faux paw" (which rankles), it was a pretty decent theme and puzzle in general. Didn't get my blood pumping or heart racing, but it did get my brain thinking...sorta...and that's always a good thing. When it's not actually dangerous, that is.

I once loaded some groceries in my EPICENTER BAG, but it proved faulty. What a disaster.


albatross shell 7:56 AM  

Yep.Sems to be a real editing error on WHALEBOATS. whalers or whaling ships or whale ships as clued. Tsk tsk.

But SLACKLINing is a now a sport. I remember it as a style of of rope-walking on TV in the 50's. Now they have straips of webbing. Origins go back to Chicago 1979. I sure missed it all. Bones are getting to brittle to take it up now I guess.

Thanks for the yuck. Glad I wasn't sipping coffee yet.

SouthsideJohnny 8:01 AM  

Seemed a little hard for a Wednesday, with just enough slop to meet the Times’ minimum threshold requirement (KOO, ISAK, RIEL, KEENE, LUEGO), MATEO crossing MEZE seems like a foreign Natick - OFL deemed it acceptable so I guess we can let that one slide. I didn’t discern the LouisIANA connection (which is actually a pretty cool clue - and state, love me some crawfish Etouffee, Jambalaya or Gumbo any day of the week). I also misspelled OCCuM, so that one got me as well. Never heard of Pequot and had Whale BOneS crossing the musical term, which I should know from CrossWorld by now - so in retrospect it seems like a surprise that I actually came within two or three squares of finishing this thing - maybe my solving skills are finally on a bit of an uptick !

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

so easy, seemed more like a Tuesday, but not complaining. Living in Greece, MEZE is a very popular snack, and that helped. Actually the connections to the work PAPER never occurred to me consciously, but must have somewhere in the depths of my brain because everything made sense. Hmm.

Pamela 8:14 AM  

I must have been really tired last night when I started this. I got about 3/4 of the way through without catching the theme, then gave up and went to sleep. I was temporarily defeated by the OCCAM/ATEMPO/(paper)BACK crossing in the north. In the mid and lower west, I had oaT for granola, thought CAT must start 25D but couldn’t be the cross too, and the two T’s in the middle didn’t occur to me. TIGER didn’t make sense without (paper), and that hadn’t occurred to me yet. I had no idea about the Spanish Bible.

This morning the Aha was sitting there with the cat, just waiting for me to open my eyes. Clever, but I feel like I missed the fun. And fun it sounds like it was for the rest of you. I would have really enjoyed it if I’d just been a little less dumb. Sigh.

Quite the debut, Margit Christenson!

Grande 8:14 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle a lot. I continue to have an issue with "ALT (Mtn. measure)." Mountain measure is elevation not altitude. Altitude is the distance above the earth.

G. Weissman 8:18 AM  

I’m surprised there’s been no mention of the LUEGO / MATEO crossing. Tennis without a net, anyone? Why accept any linguistic constraints when constructing a NYT puzzle? There are only so many EWOKs and KOOs, after all.

Rug Crazy 8:21 AM  

Took me two minutes to realize why this was easy for a Thursday puzzle. MEZE new to me, as well.

albatross shell 8:32 AM  

On that giant Yoo Hoo. This is one puzzle that not having colored squares might have changed the whole solving experience. A giant aha on the reveal and mapping trail and much less help in solving, but still doable. Better or worse? We do seem to be trained not to look for such stuff on our own these days. Also how do you fill about being the best ☆INC-hole filler around and being cleared of scrabble-$#%king?

The MAETO/MEZE crossing was a total guess. Decided to guess in order M L T F. But it did me no good because I overlooked a typo.

Martha 8:45 AM  

As a vegan I was offended by ewe’s milk. As a woman I was offended by misogynist Dr. Dre.

Nancy 8:47 AM  

Speaking as someone who likes being on terra firma and for whom balance has always been an issue -- I don't and never did ski, ice skate, rollerblade, climb precarious slopes, ride a bike or ride a horse -- I probably should know whatever those "bouncy strips" that test one's balance are. Alas, I have no idea. Couple that with the fact that I don't drive a car and I had no idea what the letters on a tire are, either. Natick time, chez Nancy. My choice was PBI/BLACKLINES and PSI/SLACKLINES and both sounded like gibberish. I chose the wrong pair and ended up with a DNF.

Other than that, easy. I saw the PAPER thing right off the bat and whizzed through everything else. Well, I did have RIAL before RIEL. There are countries that have RIALS, not RIELS, right? I always confuse the two.

pmdm 8:50 AM  

mmorgan: Maybe you should buy the PAPER edition of the NYT in which there were shaded squares instead of circles. Then again, maybe you hate shaded squares.

For one like myself who didn't both to think out the theme, the puzzle was just slightly easier for a Wednesday than usual. I consider the puzzle to be a pleasant surprise after the two earlier puzzles this week.

RooMonster 9:00 AM  

Hey All !
Fun puz. We got Green shaded squares on the NYT puz site. Much better than crazy amounts of circles.

Took me a second to grok the theme. The ole brain has lately been always looking for rebus(I)(es)(opposed). Not sure why. First time in six months I had to print out the puz and take it to work. Lost my place on the Acrosses a few times, as in reading the wrong clue as corresponding to its place in the grid, further confusing me. Gotta get back in the groove.

DANG. Har! Nice to see in a puz. Last letter in, you ask? The M of MATEO/MEZE. MEZE a WOE, but figured MATEO was Matthew in disguise. Spelled OChAM as such first. Simple. ☺️

Fun puz, nice debut. In queue waaay too long.

No F's (FOO!)
KOO KOO kachoo

Blackhat 9:02 AM  

4 names (not just real names, we now need to know pen names too... fun!), 7 foreign words (4 languages in the puzzle today, including a 5 word clue given entirely in Italian, even more fun!!)

Lewis 9:17 AM  

@kitshef -- Terrific idea about making those answers backwards! Would have been Thursday territory, and would have worked with tougher cluing.

Carola 9:22 AM  

Cute. I saw that we needed to supply PAPER when I got to PLANE, but I didn't notice the TRAIL until the reveal. Nice! I figured that online solvers would have circles instead of the newsPAPER's grayed-out squares; not quite as satisfying, perhaps.

Otherwise...I like to read about food almost as much as like to eat it, so MEZE went right in. I noticed the parallel of SCIENCE and CLEANSE: I'm skeptical. Do-overs: Loosen before LET OUT, Vein before VIAL, DArn before DANG. No idea: SLACKLINES.

@Joe R 7:52 - I, too, misread "smilie"...and actually thought, "It's called a CLAM?"

Blue Stater 9:28 AM  

Ella sang skat, not SCAT, and the Pequod was a whaling boat not a WHALEBOAT. The usual NYTXW technique of toughening a puzzle by introducing error, sigh....

Frantic Sloth 9:29 AM  

@Joaquin 622am 😂😂

Hand up for "whaling ship" or "whaler" for the Pequod. WHALEBOAT clanked.

The last chunk of Rex's write-up was nearly my exact experience (save for SCAT), so there's one way to describe my "off" feeling. I guess. But I still have most of the comments to trawl, so...
{E.L.'s voice} never mind. This cheese stands alone, I guess. 🤷‍♀️

@Z 737am And never mind the marina - you're satanic. 😂😂 Given a choice between KOO and zOO...what does the future tell you?

Oh, I forgot to say didn't know MEZE either, but happy to learn it!

@Pamela 814am You and your "Aha! Cat" made me smile remembering the head-stomping and ear-piercing "Heeeyyy!" subtlety of my dear departed Beaner. Thanks for the imagery.

Not that anyone is counting...or cares...but, for the website solve, I would have preferred circles for the visual. They're more sinewy.

And, as always, thanks to @LMS for her edifying entertainment. Who else would think to investigate CLAM mirth and report back? Not just anybody, I can tell you that.

Z 9:31 AM  

A gray cell FYI - Both the native NYTX app and PuzzAzz have gray cells, not circles. Gray cells are far more aesthetically pleasing in my humble opinion.

I caught my iPad’s auto-corrupt changing Pequod to Pequot. I see at least one person has been corrupted. I wonder why Apple hates Moby Dick so much.

@albatross shell - I’ve been called many things, but today was the first time I’ve been called a *INC-hole filler. It gave me a Rye smile.
Right with you on the training not to look for stuff for ourselves. Series of documents that trace a path, as suggested by this puzzle cluing PAPER TRAIL certainly seems like enough of a heads up to me. @Newer solvers I’m curious if you feel like the grayed/circled cells were really necessary.

I went looking for justification for the WHALEBOAT clue. All I could find was The term "whaleboat" may be used informally of larger whalers, or of a boat used for whale watching. I found this in Wikipedia and the assertion has no citation. My three most frequently used online dictionaries do not support this usage. Better would have been “The Pequod had several.”

ghkozen 9:31 AM  

What does “Kitchy-kitchy-koo!” even mean? To me that clue looks like Shortz had a stroke while typing. Only explanation for that gibberish.

Whatsername 9:31 AM  

What a neat different twist to what is usually kind of a so-so day of the week crossword wise. I loved following the trail, almost like a maze. This must have been as much fun to construct as it was to solve, and I’m not even going to complain about the Natick at 48A and D with two foreign phrases and a Mediterranean food. The rest was worth it.

If you’re CAT SITTING my kitties, there will be no bowls of milk set out. But they’d love some kibble or a can of Fancy Feast, thank you very much. They are rescues who know what a cushy deal they’ve landed in and they earn their keep as excellent mousers. I live in the country so when summer turns to fall and the nights start getting cool, those little critters start looking for a warm spot in my garage. All I have to do is open the door and they’re history. My girls are ruthless and CUT them no SLACK.

And speaking of girls - ladies, who among you didn’t love PAPER DOLLS? My cousin and I played with them for hours, changing their outfits and creating their imaginary lives. Toys in those days were definitely gender specific but DANG, we had a lot of fun.

William of Ockham 10:03 AM  

So much out of whack, I'll just leave it at that. A very lazy puzzle

RooMonster 10:06 AM  

As @Z says, I was corrupted by Auto-Corrupt. My last post should've had (opodes) as the last parenthetical aside, natch. Hate when I think I've got the correct word in, and get corrupted. See also: KOO KOO kajoo. (Even though I'm sure that's not the way it's spelled either, but pronunciation is right.)

Anyway, as aesthetically pleasing as @Z says his gray cells are (har, there's a joke there somewhere), the NYT site usually has Green Squares, as does todays. They are even more aesthetically pleasing. Plus, ties into Green Paint. Go Green!

@Joaquin 6:22
Thanks for the chuckle right out of the gate!

Ewoks are small furry creatures. Wookies are large furry creatures. *The more you know*

Also tripped up at the simile cluing. Also saw smile, and tried to jam "close parenthesis" in that spot. 😊 Well, not really.

RooMonster Is There A Reene? Cause Then You'd Get Roo Guy

Tom R 10:11 AM  

Most of the puzzle is fine. Helped that I got the theme early. I do echo the comments about the Pequod; took me a while to see the answer because it is bogus, even if inferable. But I do have strong feelings about the SW corner.

A lot of foreign words show up in puzzles and sometimes you just have to get them from crosses, but then we have a 5 word Spanish clue and a Spanish word answer that I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF and I AM NOT FLUENT IN SPANISH! I call foul. Hard to believe nobody else mentioned this.

jberg 10:20 AM  

In a perfect world the last three downs on the TRAIL would read top to bottom, the direction of travel—but then they wouldn’t look right in the grid, so ok.

However, the Pequod was a ship, not a boat!

jdonhowe 10:28 AM  

Kudos for cluing "epicenter" correctly. One of my pet peeves is the lazy inappropriate usage in journalism today. Enjoyed puzzle overall.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

@William of Ockham: Any problem with 20-A or are you ok with the variable spelling ?

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Skat is a card game. Ella sang scat. Clue is correct.

OffTheGrid 10:39 AM  


Skat is a 3-player trick-taking card game of the Ace-Ten family, devised around 1810 in Altenburg in the Duchy of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. It is the national game of Germany and, along with Doppelkopf, it is the most popular card game in Germany and Silesia and one of the most popular in the rest of Poland. Wikipedia

Sir Hillary 10:49 AM  

This was a nice Wednesday diversion.

I was surprised that the symmetrical PAPERTRAIL lacked the final step at 62D. Why not just put TRAIL there and have that be the revealer instead? I wonder if Margit Christenson tried that but couldn't make it work.

Lots of good entry groupings today -- the INKSTAINED DYELOT, the (seemingly) EAGLE SCAT my front steps seem always to be LADEN with, a CAT SITTING on MOSS. And I know many people who must have a SORENECK from all the WORK they give their VOICEBOX.

IANA, meanwhile, is so over-the-top bad that it's actually good -- almost.

I pluralize them as "Lexi" because it's more fun. Surely I cannot be alone in this silliness.

My nephews used to be great at SLACKLINES, but regarding my own prowess on said apparatus, a more apt clue would be Bouncy strips guaranteed to cause serious injury.

Anyone remember KOO Stark? That's when I first started to realize that Prince Andrew's judgment wasn't very good. Alas, that has been horrifically confirmed in recent years.

David 10:50 AM  

Pretty fun puzzle. At first I thought "paperback" because a roll of towels are paper, and the answers are arranged in a way that's seen as continuous, then I got the paper thing at "cut," so maybe 1A is a meta answer.

Same problem for the Pequod clue as others, it was a Whaler which carried whaleboats, sometimes called chase boats. If you're ever in New Bedford, go to the Whaling Museum, it's pretty interesting. Also swing by Lizzie Borden's house and remind yourself that she was acquitted.

In my neck of the woods it is, and always has been, a "Lady Slipper." So I learned it's not that everywhere.

Learned here the full saying, "happy as a clam at high tide." That's far better simile than just "happy as a clam" because in kitchens, if you're cleaning a bushel of clams and some are open, we say they're "smiling," and it means they're dead and need to be tossed rather than served.

Gotta love a Wednesday with neither Oreo nor Oboe even if it does have an Etsy and a Oh No.

Fun and breezy, thanks.

Z 10:52 AM  

You don’t really need to know Spanish to suss out Primo libro del Nuevo Testamento. Candidly, it didn’t even register as “foreign” to me until @Tom R pointed it out. Having an ultimate friend whose nickname is Tato helped (Tato from potato from MATEO from Matthew - We call him all kinds of names 😂) Crossing two foreign words at a vowel is a foul, though.

Sitting on a corn flake KOO KOO kajoo

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

The high tide part is crucial to the simile. Otherwise the simile is nonsensical. Lots of similes and phrases get butchered by boobs, then endlessly repeated so they become accepted. Consider the nonsense that "the proof is in the pudding" is. What the heck does that mean? Well, nothing. Its gibberish.
But consider the real phrase: "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." That of course makes complete sense. That is, the proof of the pudding's merit is in how it tastes which you can confirm by eating it.

Don't let folks tell you that phrases evolve or language is this or that. Use your good sense. If a phrase seems to make no sense, there's a fair chance it's been enfeebled by the feeble minded. Try to track down the correct one. No one will be confused by its unfamiliarity precisely because the true one will be immediately recognized as sensible.

Bax'N'Nex 11:08 AM  

Why is using a totally legitimate word that happens to have a "Z" in it "scrabble f***ing"? I just typed "have". Has a high value Scrabble tile in it, maybe two. Is this the same thing? Should So constructors are not allowed "Z" "Q" "J" and the like due to Mike's arbitrary ruling on very real letters and words? Which letters do you draw the line at, Mikey?

Jeez, what a tool.

jae 11:09 AM  

Easy. I caught what was going on immediately and filled in the circle answers. The rest was cake except for MEZE which was a major WOE (I would have put in @Rex tapa but I’d already filled in the crosses).

Very cute and surprisingly smooth, liked it. Nice debut.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

If anyone does go to the whaling museum in New Bedford, swing by Fall River. Lizzie Borden's house is on the market. $890,000. Not sure why David feels he has to white Knight Borden. But in any case acquittal doesn't mean she didn't do it. It only means she was convicted of doing it. I'm not a lawyer, but my pal O.J. hipped me to this useful distinction.

Frantic Sloth 11:10 AM  

CLAM hack: Always tap your "smiling" clam before tossing. If then it doesn't shut up, chuck it. They sneaky.

dadnoa 11:10 AM  

+1 for the pun......Origami is competitive? Does Rex know?

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

Isn't it quizzical that Rex abjures the Z, X and J? Its almost like he has an a... a hatchet to grind. Just zany. Inexplicable, unjust and crazy.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

I'd hate to turn out to be the only one, but... nATEO/nEZE in that the first 'sounds' like birth (of Jesus) which ought to start the NT, and the other could be any letter at all.

Newboy 11:24 AM  

Agreed with Rex’s “ If I liked Wednesday this well every Wednesday, that would be an improvement, is what I'm saying.” A nice clue trap with “simile” 🤤. The penny dropped early today at CUT after a paper TOWEL mopped up that NW corner. Paper BACK next confirmed and the all the circles filled as if by magic. Only the 32A/D gave pause (is it c?—K?) for the Nancy Drew she a new Nordic Noir I’ve missed? Add me to the crew that wanted that WAKE to truly come after the WHALEr instead of crunching the BOAT (spoiler alert) that actually is the assigned task of Moby Dick. Also thought @kitshef suggestion to reverse vertical entries for an elegant grid a delightful thought experiment. Fun day Ms Christensen and welcome aboard! And special thanks for the contributions both financial and medical for your underserved community.

Barbara S. 11:33 AM  

I liked the puzzle and the look of the sinuous grey path.

I had "lark" before CLAM, although I've heard both expressions a TON of times. I was prepared to get shirty about EWES, thinking that feta comes from goats' milk (female goats are nannies), but I looked it up and apparently it's from sheep or a mixture of the two. Kitchy-Kitchy-KOO? Shouldn't we at least spell our nonsense words correctly? Surely, "coochie coochie coo". There, I've said it. I was debating "one ply" or "two ply" for DYELOT, but the puzzle's is a better answer. Never heard of SLACKLINES and had to look it up. Yikes, I'm with @Nancy (8:47) on the balance thing.

New clue for RIEL: Métis leader in the North-West Rebellion at Batoche, Saskatchewan. (Do I hear a rumble of disapproval? OK, maybe withdraw the suggestion.)

I'm with everyone on whaling ship versus WHALEBOAT.
🎵 The lookout in the crosstrees stood
With a spyglass in his hand;
There's a whale, there's a whale,
There's a whalefish, he cried,
And she blows at every span, brave boys,
She blows at every span. 🎵
That's a good old rousing folksong and I've always been glad that the whale got away.

I'M NOT a doctor and I'M NOT HERE.

**** SB ALERT ****
On Monday I neither blogged nor got QB. But last night I had a glance at Monday's comments and saw I was congratulated (along with a bunch of other people) on my QB achievement. It was completely undeserved but thanks for thinking of me. I actually got QB yesterday and nobody said boo, but all is well because y'all congratulated me one day early!

As for today's SB, Lord have mercy (as my Baptist grandmother used to say).

oldactor 11:56 AM  

In Greece when you order an Oozo, it comes with mezes, a small snack on the side. But I was surprised to see it in the puzzle.

I bought a new Lexus last week. Fantastic car!

Pamela 12:10 PM  

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

@Barbara S- Congrats on yesterday, rescinded from the day before. Or re-sent? Anyway, good for you. I missed by 2. Although they weren’t exactly everyday words, I think I should have gotten them.

Today is another story- a loooong one. Oof.

So far I’ve passed G, still 9 words away. Seems endless.

Aelurus 12:19 PM  

First time for a Natick at the first-letter cross of two foreign terms but guessed right on the M and got the musical applause. Started in the NW as usual, didn’t like 1A right off, reversed and restarted in the SE just to be contrary, so got to the reason pretty quickly why the shaded trail answers seemed to make no sense. After that, as Rex said, easy to fill in and a fun puzzle. Liked it, thank you, Margit!

Jay 12:19 PM  

Shame on Will Shortz for perpetuating the misuse of "epicenter." The focal point of an earthquake is its CENTER, typically a few kilometers below the surface. The epicenter of the quake is the point on the SURFACE of the earth that lies directly above the center (and thus, clearly, at some distance from the center).

Until about 20 years ago, nobody but geologists ever used the word "epicenter." Then somebody who liked the sound but totally misunderstood the meaning, misappropriated it as if "epi-" were an intensive prefix rather than its proper meaning of "above" or "over," as in epidermis or episcopal.

egsforbreakfast 12:20 PM  

Some of the lesser known clam-related expressions, expanded to include their original form:

Sad as a CLAM (at her husbands WAKE).
Stinky as a CLAM (‘s SCAT)
Rich as a CLAM (who owns three LEXUSES)
CUT like a CLAM (by OCCAM’s razor)
SATEd like a CLAM (from LouisIANA)

The puzzle was quick and enjoyable with grey squares. I was horrified to see how it looked with circles. Kitchy-Kitchy-KOOs is of such common idiomatic use when tickling that I now agree that Rex is likely from Remulac, possibly an offspring of Beldar and Prymaat, but less well known than his sister Connie.

Very nice debut Margit.

mmorgan 12:26 PM  

@Anon 11:02: Nah, do Google image search of "Happy as a clam" and you'll see endless images of happy clams! That's where the expression came from -- clams are happy! Well, they make me happy...

Aelurus 12:32 PM  

@Wharsername 9:31 - Hand up here for no milk for my two kitties! Who also get a bit of Fancy Feast.

@Roomonster 10:06 - Big smile for your discriminating Ewok/Wookie definitions. :)

brendal 12:33 PM  

The "Pequod" is ship, not a boat, lubber!

jb129 12:35 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
DavidL 12:48 PM  

Like a few others, I had a surprising amount of trouble in the SE for an otherwise easy puzzle. Never heard of SLACK LINES, and even after googling it, not even the slightest ping of recognition. Weird. That, combined with RIEL (I thought it must be "rial") and the various other possibilities for DANG (Darn, Damn) and being unable to quickly see BOTTLE up, made it rough going over there.

Teedmn 1:03 PM  

Such a sweet little puzzle. I solved it as a themeless. Only TIGER really needed the PAPER in order to make sense of the clue and I just shrugged and figured I'd get it eventually. The theme reveal made it all clear.

This came in smack at my average Wednesday time. I laugh at Rex's use of OCCAM's razor to decide if his puzzle entries are sound. Sometimes those hoof beats really are from zebras.

I shouldn't talk - I had to skip to 6A to get a foothold in this puzzle and I decided a serum vessel was a Vein, confirmed by VOICE BOX. How (un)lucky was it that the V worked? But A TEMPO and LSD soon fixed that misstep.

My "kitchy-kitchy" always ends in "cOO" so Carolyn's last name needed the rest of the crosses before my memory kicked in the K.

Margit, congratulations on your debut. I really liked this.

okanaganer 1:11 PM  

Re EPICENTER: twice while living in this house I've experienced earthquakes in the wee hours. The first time it woke me up and I thought a bomb had gone off in the neighborhood. The second time I was awake and heard it coming... like the world's largest truck driving 250 mph at me, then a huge boom! as the house shook. Then the sound of the truck racing away in the other direction.

The next day I checked online and was shocked to read it had been "a small earthquake of about magnitude 2". Only 2? But then reading more, it said the EPICENTER was... only about 8 kilometers from my house! And the CENTER was only 100 m or so below ground. So: small earthquake close by, still scary!

Masked and Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Cool theme mcguffin. Different, which M&A always goes for. Fairly eazy-E for a WedPuz, altho there would be ways to toughin this rodeo up…

ThursPuz tough: Have the "paper" themer answers all re-oriented to read in the direction of the path, necessitatin that some answers run backwards. A la @kitshef's primo suggestion.

FriPuz tough: Also eliminate the circles [or gray squares, in my printed version's case]. Instead, splatz an asterisk at the front of each themer's clue. A la @mmorgan's suggestion, sorta.

SatPuz tough: Also eliminate the clue asterisks. Maybe, if wishin to be a tad less sadistic, have the revealer's clue say that the path starts at 1-A and ends at 47-D. A la Marquis de Sade. har

staff weeject picks: BAG & CUT. Honored today with the highly weeject-coveted themer status.

fave sparklers: VOICEBIX … er, BOX. EPICENTER, off center. CATSITTING.

@Muse darlin: Enjoyed yer pluralistic comments. And hang on to yer drop-jaw ... cuz the plural of MEZE is evidently MEZEDES! U can't make this stuff up.

Thanx for the fun, and congratz on a rememorable debut, Ms. Christenson darlin. 10 themers & a revealer -- day-um!

Masked & Anonymo4Us

p.s. M&A was bit by a wasp yesterday in his back yard [location in yard, not on M&A]. Was mindin my own day-um business, and felt a sting on my forehead. That hurt. Fortunately, I was wearin a mask, ball cap, and glasses, so it couldn't get me on the eyes/nose/mouth. Wished that the wasp had been wearin a mask, too, tho. Hope y'all are, too, btw.
If any of my comment today was kinda extra-weird, might be I got wasp head.
But … any SB alerts are gonna get extra snorts from m&e, today.


Z 1:26 PM  

@anon11:02 - So you like eating guts? Who knew?

@Bax’N’Nex - Your plaint would be more understandable if Rex had actually called that Z scrabble-f*cking. Also, the "Z" from ZINC feels pretty natural in that position—certainly the best letter to fill the _INC hole. So I'm not blowing the Scrabble-f***ing whistle there. (emphasis added) Also, you seem to think Rex created this term. I don’t know it’s provenance but I see it used by constructor types a lot and I think Rex got it from somewhere else. For example, it’s used here by somebody else discussing a BEQ puzzle in 2012*. While I don’t think KOO is as bad as Rex does, he does do a pretty good job of using KOO and ZINC to explain what i scrabble-f*cking is. The link also does a good job, too (and says the J,X,Z in one tiny corner isn’t, which, ... alrighty then).
*Caution - googling for this term generates a lot of porn hits, even when in quote marks which should require “scrabble” to be on the hit. I’ll let you ponder the implications of that.

@okanaganer - 8 kilometers and not 5 miles?

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

You're missing the pint. Again.Just as my comment yesterday was about women being unable to compete against men in sports was most certainly not about practice, as you erroneously asserted, so too is the fact that guts were indeed ingested is beside the point today.
One doesn't have to like the food, whether its guts a or not, to understand that the phrase was used to test the worthiness of the food. It was not a referendum on one's palate. Either you're being churlish or foolish.

bocamp 1:53 PM  

Congrats @ Margit on your debut! I found it most enjoyable; quickly sussed out the theme and filled in all the shaded squares (iPad solver). In the navy we occasionally referred to our ship as a boat; I think if your "whale boat" (rather than "whaleboat") is a short for "whaling boat", then it flies (pun intended). 😉 Obviously, as pointed out by most of the commentariat, "whaler" or "whaling ship" is far more common. Point is, the NYT puzzle makes itself more interesting by using variants and lesser-knowns. Personally, I like that; makes me have to think. I like thinking. :) Keep up the good work! :)


Whaleboat racing


@ LMS 6:29 AM
Thx for the missing part of the clam simile. Makes sense now! :)


@ Lewis 6:35 AM
love the word "meandering"; gives a sense of being unhurried, relaxing, enjoying. :)


Carolyn Keene brings back fond memories of reading Nancy Drew books. I still occasionally enjoy reading these classics from my children's book collection. (Yes, I do know that "Carolyn Keene" is is a pseudonym for numerous authors) :) here

My favorite all-time children's book is, "En Famille" , by Hector Malot (translated as:
The Adventures of Perrine or Nobody's Girl). Available for free on Project Gutenberg.


@ SouthsideJohnny 8:01 AM

Love following the progression of your crossword adventures :)


Peace 平和 paz fred 🕊

Nigel Pottle 1:57 PM  

That was one of my fastest ever and I just kept filling the words in letting the cursor jump between clues. So fast that I got lots of the answers filled in without even noticing the crossing clues - I didn’t know MEZE was in the puzzle till I read the blog, lol. Happy as a clam is a perfectly common phrase - I had no idea it had a follow-through phrase (at high tide) but it would have been funny if it had been a three letter answer - Happy as a PIG (in s**t.

Anoa Bob 1:59 PM  

My spirits were buoyed, buoyed I say, by all yous pointing out that the Pequod was a ship, not a BOAT. The general rule of thumb is that a watercraft that is large enough to carry smaller watercraft onboard is a ship and the ones being carried are BOATS.

I looked askance at the clue for 20A OCCAM "Philosopher who posited that the simplest explanation is the most likely one". If that were the case then something like "The devil did it" always would be the default explanation. What is missing from the clue is a "that correctly accounts for all the facts" type phrase after "...simplest explanation...". Yeah, that would make the already long clue even more unwieldly. So maybe just go with a "Philosopher with a razor" type clue.

The VOICE BOX isn't the only thing that can make sounds. With practice, the ventricular folds that lie alongside the vocal cords can be brought into action to produce what is variously called throat singing, overtone singing or octave singing. Examples exist in many cultures.

I first heard it on a CD with Tibetan Buddhist Monks chanting. My interest was refueled recently when I heard a group of Mongolian Tuvan throat singers on the local rock and roll radio station (of all places!). They are called "The Hu". Here's a six-minute YouTube of their Wolf Totem. And here's a compilation of Female throat singing from several cultures.

Some of the sounds they make are otherworldly. COVID isolation has given me the opportunity to practice and I'm getting pretty good at it. Don't know why, but it's fun to do. Plus I've learned how to do a pretty good Popeye the Sailor Man voice!

old timer 2:01 PM  

Pretty Easy. I put in TOWEL and didn't get it. Put in BACK and was mystified. Then the light shone and I gleefully assumed PAPER in each other shaded answer.

I have sometimes heard "Lexi" as a LEXUS plural. Only our dear @LMS could come up with the lovely "LEXera". I always knew the LEXUS was a neuter car.

OFL is a California boy. Spanish first names are something you imbibe with your mother's milk, or nearly so. El Camino Real starts in San Diego and passes through dozens of Sans on its way to San Pablo or San Rafael. San MATEO is a big town on the SF Peninsula. But there is a San Marcos, and a San Lucas, and any number of San Juans -- San Juan Bautista but surely also one named after the Evangelist. There are a number of San Luises too, the most famous being San Luis Rey (de Francia), but the most prominent being San Luis Obispo (de Tolosa, IIRC).

Now hasta LUEGO is a common phrase, meaning essentially "until next time". You learn it in your first week in Spanish class. I do understand that more solvers in the rest of the country took French, and can reasonably be expected to remember the most basic words. Since I ended up taking both, I would be happy as a CLAM to see more common words from each language. German is my downfall. Italian? If you know French and Spanish you only need to memorize a couple of dozen common Italian phrases and you can pretty much guess your way through a trip to Italia. You just summon your Spanish word for something, and if it is a diphthong, you undiphthongize it. For instance, the Spanish puente (bridge) becomes ponte.

Matt 2:08 PM  

My illustrator girlfriend (and most illustrators in 2020) uses an iPad or computer, so the "maybe" carries a lot of weight here. But she helped me with DYE LOT so I can't complain. Fun puzzle!

GILL I. 2:09 PM  

I thought this was tres sweet.... Wednesdays gear me up for devilish Thursday and favorite Friday.
I paused a few times in the east. I first read the CLAM answer as a's one of those similes. I love me a good simile and they have always made me wonder about the English language. I know I've mentioned this about a zillion times, but English was my second language. It drove my grandmother nuts and my butchering of the language drove her to drink and pray for her little heathen. I swear I kept her alive for her sole purpose in teach me this insane language. I always wondered about the happy CLAM that was about to be devoured live. I also wondered about "Blind as a bat." They aren't. Then we get "fought likes cats and dogs" and I cried foul. We've had both that played together and were inseparable. And....why, do tell, do you say "clean as a whistle?" It's full of saliva and snot.
My favorite MEZE is Skordalia. If you don't like olive oil and garlic, it's your loss. @oldactor....I hate ouzo or the other one they'd serve you...Raki. Anise and I don't go well together. I would order a glass of Agiogitko ( I probably butchered the spelling). Greek wines are so underrated but they are quite good.
I got to 39D and promptly plucked down SCIENCE. Tyson must roll his eyes to the skies every time he hears the doubting Thomases....I can name a few orange buffoons (well, only one) that pfffft's climate change etc etc etc. I don't want to cause any panic. Ooooops.....200,000 dead.
The EAGLE has landed. Oh, wait...that also a myth.
Hasta LUEGO and some ciao...I'll add auf wiedersehen but I don't sprechen sie deutsch.

Unknown 2:10 PM  

Oh, please! It’s just words in a puzzle!

tea73 2:11 PM  

Nice puzzle. I did it in underaverage time, but it didn't feel fast.

I put in TOWEL right away without particularly missing the paper. I didn't suss out the theme until I got to BAG. Then there was a nice aha moment.

I think the easiest way to remember SKAT vs SCAT is to know the card game has German origins and they never use the letter C if they can help it. In our early married life we shared an apartment with a young German woman who taught us to play. So many games are for two or four, Skat is perfect when you need three.

KnittyContessa 2:15 PM  

@LMS, never heard the High Tide part. Thanks!

When I first saw all those grey squares I thought it was going to be a annoying drag. I was so wrong. Nancy Drew made me smile, although KOO was A stretch. But a yarn reference crossing ETSY! It felt like Margit wrote it just for me.

Unknown 2:20 PM  

Hard to believe how many don’t at least know Matthew as the first book of the N.T., and can infer Mateo from some of the crosses. No foul!

Joe Dipinto 2:22 PM  

Shouldn't there be a final theme answer at 62a? The "trail" is missing that last bit of symmetry, and it looks weird. CHASE could have gone in there, with a reworked corner.

bigsteve46 2:28 PM  

I have no idea what these guys are talking about with the "scrabblef***ing" business. I don't really think crossword puzzles are designed for this kind of deep analysis. Just find the right letter for each blank square and move on to the rest of the newspaper. If you want to explore things at greater depth, try the editorial page - or better yet, the obits.

On a different note, for those few who actually buy and read the NYT newspaper, the sports section features the best sports writer since the days of Arthur Daley. He is an U.K. based soccer guy named Rory Smith. I relish his columns almost more than anything in the paper - and I'm not even that interested in soccer! He writes mostly about the English soccer scene but with such clarity, wit and eloquence that if I ever get to England again - and if they ever start letting people into the stadiums again - one of the first things I'm going to do is go to a soccer game (which I haven't been to since my son's high school games.)

chefwen 2:33 PM  

Cute, just a tad bit too easy for Wednesday. Once I got the PAPER thing after CUT I just went a filled all the other paper products.

Somewhere in this house I still have one of my dads old cigar boxes filled with childhood paper dolls. In Scotland we called them scraps. Wonder where it is, that would be fun to sort through again, of course by now they’ve probably turned into a pile of dust. Ah well.

One measly mark over, DARN before DANG.

Fun debut, congratulations.

The EconoMuse 2:40 PM  

Weirdly stunned that everyone thought MEZE was hard. I really thought it was something that you might not know immediately but get once you had a letter. Maybe it's a regional thing, but MEZE shows up on menus all the time where I am (San Francisco).

EdFromHackensack 2:46 PM  

WHALEBOATS is fine, a ship IS a boat, albeit a large one. Enjoyed the puzzle a TON. Once I got the trick I was off like a prom dress. Though IANA was sketchy

Mr. Benson 2:50 PM  

No, SARAN would not have been acceptable at 1A unless it were clued with "wrap." If that had been the answer, Rex would rightly have cried foul. I understand entering it since we all occasionally try answers that don't quite fit (though I didn't do so with that one). But I don't think the clue writer was trying to misdirect us in that way.

Cathyat40 2:57 PM  

I entered all the fill correctly but got the “something’s amiss” message. Did this happen to anyone else?

albatross shell 2:57 PM  

Kitchy Kitchy KOO is perfectly traditional.
Here is the nonsensical proof:

Whenever I am eating oysters to fulfill my desire for food or to SATE my appetite. I am happy as a CLAM appears to be no matter what the tide is.

Frantic Sloth 2:58 PM  

@Anoa Bob 159pm Whoa! Was that cool fun! Thanks for sharing! Once upon a time someone tried to teach me throat singing, but twas hopeless. 😕

Cathyat40 2:59 PM  

I entered all the fill correctly but got the “something’s amiss” message. Did this happen to anyone else?

jae 3:25 PM  

@Jay - thanks for the epicenter info.

GILL I. 3:26 PM  

@Anoa B...Good Gravy....Now you have me singing "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man" to my husband. He can'r shut me up!

Anoa Bob 4:37 PM  

Throat singing addendum: When I first heard the Tibetan Buddhist Chanting, called kargyraa, I said there's no way I could ever make that sound. The Hu Band encouraged me to give it a try. I do have a little extra time on my hands these days. There are numerous how-to's on YouTube. The one that got me going suggested I close my lips and make a clearing-my-throat sound. Then, again with lips closed, make an ommmmmmm sound. Now do both at the same time. (That's it!) Try it with mouth open and yous are off and running. There will be some soreness and tenderness at first, but with practice the ventricular folds toughen up and it gets easier.

Here's a one minute video of a very young person's first hearing kargyraa. Bet yous can't watch this without grinning like a CLAM at high tide.

Barbara S. 4:53 PM  

AI-YI-YI! After I looked at @albatross shell's Kitchy Kitchy KOO link (2:57), I did some research on the alternate spelling I'd offered at 11:33 am, only to find that coochie is slang for um, a woman's privates. I swear I didn't know that before the last 15 minutes! I must have led a sheltered, or at least relatively slang-free, life. Maybe we're all people of the world here, but I am sorry if I caused offence. You really can't take anything for granted. I'm crawling back under my rock now. Yikes!

Julian Shapiro 5:05 PM  

The Pequod is a Whaling SHIP not a boat. A whale boat is powered by oars and is the small craft where the whales are actually hunted and harpooned.
A whaling ship carries whaleboats.

Bark 5:06 PM  

Regarding 20A — The expression Occam’s Razor appears to be bogus. It’s extremely common these days to credit Occam with saying that the simplest answer is the best. (Sanjay Gupta used the phrase two days ago.) But it can’t be traced back to Occam. And it’s often been shown that the idea would not have been appreciated by Occam (William of Occam c. 1287 – 1347). There’s a great article “Did Ockham Use His Razor” by Roger Ariew. (I think the NY Times should correct this and not perpetuate it.)

Jmorgie 5:26 PM  

Rex ... you gotta throw the penalty flag twice for incorrect cluing. Epicenter, as noted several times above, is not some sort of intense or super center; its a substitute for the center when you cannot physically get to the center. And Whale Boat is a double-bowed, multi-oared boat used for, among other things, getting the harpooners to the whales. The Pequod is 'whaler' or maybe a Boston Whaler but the Pequod is NOT an example of a whaleboat.

Meow 5:27 PM  

@Bark - LOL

bocamp 5:32 PM  

@ Anoa Bob 1:59 PM

Thx for the throat singing vids: amazing stuff!


"Paper dolls" = bonding with sis on rainy days. :)


Occam's razor, Ockham's razor, Ocham's razor = "the simplest explanation is most likely the right one".


@ Lewis 9:17 AM wrote:

"@kitshef -- Terrific idea about making those answers backwards! Would have been Thursday territory, and would have worked with tougher cluing."

I had much the same thought!


@ Martha 8:45 AM wrote:

"As a vegan I was offended by ewe’s milk. As a woman I was offended by misogynist Dr. Dre."

I can't do without Henrietta's poached egg (free-range) every morning, but other dietary requirements of "veganism" have taken hold over the past year, and I'm not looking back. AFAIK, that and not replacing my leather products, e.g., shoes and belt should qualify me, at least to some degree, as a vegan. Stop killing and being cruel to animals (and while we're at it, people). The Percentage of Vegans in the US

As for being offended by "ewes" milk in the puzzle, I respect your feeling about it; for me, tho, I also respect the constructor's and the editor's judgment as to what should or shouldn't be acceptable material for the puzzle. Doesn't mean I have to like it, tho.

From what I've read about Dr. Dre, he seems to be genuinely remorseful for his past actions, and has atoned for them. How long does he have to bear the stigma? Where's the line drawn between legitimate activism and cancel-culture?

Peace 平和 paz fred 🕊

Martha 5:53 PM  

@bocamp: Funny. I log on to this blog a few times a day and the most recent post was responding to one I made several hours earlier. My complaints about ewe’s milk and Dr. Dre were meant to be read as tongue in cheek. I thought that was obvious. People who are offended by words in crosswords are pitiable.

RooMonster 5:55 PM  

I do believe @Martha 8:45 was a goof post. Sarcasm, as it seems some people in general (not on this blog [well, OFL probably]) get offended by silly things.
My take.

@Anoa Bob
Har! I tried your throat clearing thingie, and lo and behold, I sounded like "The Hu"! The radio station I listen to plays them all the time.

Does anyone know if the Pequod is a whaling boat or a ship? 🤣


Martha 6:07 PM  

@bocamp: My bad. It’s probably hard to grok the intentions of a de facto anonymous. Probably best to skip the non blue posters unless their id’s are familiar.

Frantic Sloth 6:31 PM  

@Roo 555pm 😂😂 If only someone had an opinion about that...

@Barbara S 453pm 🤣🤣🤣 You poor thing! If it's any consolation (yeah, right) I was thinking you had it right...until a few minutes ago. Tsk. The company you keep...smh. 😉

Unknown 6:35 PM  

Biology NEVER shaves with Occam's razor. Why? Because everything is built on what has previously been selected (natural selection); no complex system evolved in ONE go.

Birchbark 6:44 PM  

PAPER TIGER -- @Rex, really good call on the Beck tune. I'm adjusting to a new lap top. What a smooth way to learn it delivers warm, super clean fidelity at higher volume.

bocamp 7:33 PM  

@ Martha 6:07 PM @ RooMonster 5:55 PM

Bless your hearts! I'm hopelessly gullible. 😔

Peace 平和 paz fred 🕊

Unknown 7:55 PM  

@ bigsteve I agree. Rory Smith is the best sports writer around, and I don't even follow soccer or care about it. But I'll read his columns.

Rex never heard of meze before today? He really needs to get out more.
Has he never been to a Mediterranean restaurant?

Martha 8:22 PM  

@bocamp: Thanks for being a good sport. There’s a reason I post anonymously. If you want a full explanation email me at

bocamp 8:24 PM  

@ @ Anoa Bob 4:37 PM

Thanks for the tip, and yes it does irritate the throat; but what better to do with spare time, especially when there's no-one around to drive nuts. LOL I'm thinking this might also improve breath control for other kinds of singing. :)


How to slackline for beginners


@ Z 9:31 AM wrote:

"A gray cell FYI - Both the native NYTX app and PuzzAzz have gray cells, not circles. Gray cells are far more aesthetically pleasing in my humble opinion."

Agreed! My iPad has gray cells; like them far better than circles.


Google results: "scat singing" 278,000 hits vs "skat singing" 5,260 hits.

Ella Fitzgerald: One note Samba (scat singing) 1969


Kitchy-Kitchy Koo (Means That I Love You) performed by two skookum kids. :)

The Pop Corn Generation on (Stax '68: A Memphis Story) ‎– "Kitchy Kitchy Koo".

Phineas & Ferb Gitchee Gitchee Goo

The Hudson Brothers - Coochie Coochie Coo


Caring for the Lady's Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum). Google returns 158,000 hits for "Lady's Slipper".

How to Grow Paphiopedilum 'Lady Slipper' Orchid Growing Guide. Google returns 349,000 hits for "Lady's Slipper".


@ Barbara S. 11:33 AM

Belated congratulations for yesterday's "QB" :) I've been working on-and-off all day to get the last 6-letter word. 🙏

Peace 平和 paz fred 🕊

Martha 8:33 PM  

@bocamp: My friend told me that gullible wasn’t a real word, but I looked it up, thereby proving him wrong.

Anonymous 8:53 PM  

Mr. Sharp lives in Binghamton, Ny. And has for a good while. The closet place that serves meze is Scranton, Pa. and they ask you if you want ketchup with it?

albatross shell 9:59 PM  

I have a yellow lady's slipper in my yard. Wish I had a pink one. Found hundreds of the pink ones growing in a strip mine area. I think they must like disturbed areas. I often find them growing around ridgetop antennas.

MikeB 10:42 PM  

Sorry, make that “Classification and Rating Administration”. It is an independent division of the MPAA

bocamp 11:13 PM  

@ Martha 8:33 PM

Is that an example of 1) "begging the question" 2) "petitio principii" 3) "circular reasoning" or none of the above, or all of the above? :)


@ albatross shell 9:59 PM

Here's a whole bunch for you :)

Peace 平和 paz fred 🕊

Blackhat 7:59 AM  

12 15% of all the clues today are names. Perhaps the NYT X-Word chould start sharing puzzles with People Magazine!
No foreign words. 1 clue was substantially in a foreign language but the solver does not have to actually know the language to solve so I give it a pass.

thefogman 10:02 AM  

Easy as pie until the bottom. I did not know SLACKLINe which made it hard to solve the SE corner. The MEZE/MATEO crossing made the SW corner tricky too. Not a very enjoyable solve. I tore through the theme and felt it was lacking for a Wednesday.

Burma Shave 10:39 AM  


A DANG TIGER in the sack,
can't BEE PLANE at all
when you WORK on your BACK.


thefogman 11:35 AM  

@BlackHat MEZE/MATEO are foreign-language words, no?
A much better puzzle by Aimee Lucido is available at The New Yorker magazine today.
Check it out...

rondo 1:17 PM  

Kind of a LOWCEILING here. Even if the ROUTE of the PAPERTRAIL follows corresponding squares. No INKSTAIN here. Figured out the first two and the genie was LETOUT of the BOTTLE.
The four corners MEET TEEM METE.
ERIN, yeah baby.
Found this puz kinda PLANE. Har.

Diana, LIW 1:20 PM  

Three days in a row of success. Even the toughies. Even the guesses.

Diana, LIW

leftcoaster 2:59 PM  

Mostly easy but with some off-kilter stuff.

Is it TOWEL PAPER (who says that?) or PAPER TOWEL? Would think the latter, but the shaded 1A TOWEL doesn’t “trail” or follow the PAPER. Seems inconsistent with the rest of the themers.

A few other bothersome entries: LADY’S slipper (awkward possessive) LEXUSES (awkward plural), RIEL (instead of the ubiquitous RIAL).

Topped it off with a no-guess blank at the MEZE/MATEO cross.

Not quite as happy as a CLAM, but will survive.

rondo 3:47 PM  

The Pink LADY'S Slipper is the state flower of MN.

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