Former Houston hockey team / TUE 10-6-20 / Green-skinned variety of pear / Element extracted from kelp

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Constructor: Alan Massengill and Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Easy (very, 2:50)

THEME: Frazzle dazzle — just put an "F" in front of phrases where the first word starts with "R," then clue it wackily, tada:

Theme answers:
  • FRIGHTFUL OWNER (19A: Scary landlord?)
  • FRACK AND RUIN (24A: Anti-fuel extraction slogan?)
  • FRANK AMATEUR (48A: One who freely admits not being any good?)
  • FRISKY BUSINESS (55A: What Fancy Feast and Meow Mix compete in?)
Word of the Day: ANJOU pear (64A: Green-skinned variety of pear) —
The D'Anjou pear, sometimes referred to as the Beurré d'Anjou or simply Anjou, is a short-necked cultivar of European pear. The variety was originally named 'Nec Plus Meuris' in Europe and the name 'Anjou' or 'd'Anjou' was erroneously applied to the variety when introduced to America and England. It is thought to have originated in the mid-19th century, in Belgium or France. // The two cultivars that comprise d'Anjou pears are the 'Green Anjou' pear and the 'Red Anjou' pear. The 'Green Anjou' pear has a pale green skin that does not change color as the pear ripens, unlike most other cultivars of green pears, which turn yellow as they ripen. The 'Red Anjou' pear originated as a naturally occurring bud sport found on 'Green Anjou' trees. 'Red Anjou' pears are very similar to the original Anjou other than color. (wikipedia)
• • •

There's really not much to say about this one. It feels extremely last-century, in every way. There's a corny one-note theme, with answers that aren't terribly funny, and a grid overloaded with overfamiliar fill of the mostly 4- and 5-letter variety. If you like the theme, you like the theme, I guess, that's a matter of taste, but the grid is truly bottom 10% when it comes to fill. A grid this undemanding, theme-wise, should not have so much tedious old common fill and absolutely nothing snazzy or even interesting going on. "YES WE DO" is, by a mile, the best non-theme answer in the grid (8D: Possible response to "You take credit cards?"), and, well ... that is saying something. This feels like it was written for a lesser paper. It would truly be right at home in any far less prestigious outlet. It's dime a dozen. It works fine, for what it is, but there's just nothing special about what it is. It's filler. It's bygone. I don't get it. And ICERS UIES AEROS SSGTS SSS is a lot to take in a puzzle that isn't offering you anything by way of compensation. So many listless four-letter answers. When your theme has no heft, your grid Needs to be interesting. And today, it definitely is not.

I never saw the theme clues. Can't remember them. I must've looked at the first one, initially, but after that I solved all of them from the back end, based on crosses I had in place, and I honestly didn't even need to look at the clues. I could infer the base phrase, and thus its wacky version, pretty easily from the tail ends of all the answers. -TEUR got me all of FRANK AMATEUR, no sweat. I'm glad I was able to work around those clues, because they are painfully straightforward "?" clues. Not inherently funny, not made funny by the clues. HAHA. Seems like you could've found funnier answers. I wanna say FROTH IRA or FRAILROAD, but then actually don't want to say those things because even an optimal expression of this thing isn't going to be very satisfying. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:00 AM  

A whole eFFin’ puzzle! Has RooMonster died and gone to heaven?

Blackhat 12:11 AM  

12 names, 2 foreign words...,

Azzurro 12:16 AM  

I love how KE$HA crosses U$C in the center. Brilliant!

jae 12:18 AM  

Medium. Fun theme but there were a number of winces in the fill. Still, liked it more than Rex did.

I wonder if ACME reads Roo’s blog comments? That’s a boatload of Fs!

Pamela 12:21 AM  

Lots of F words here, heh heh. The first one was my favorite, FRIGHTFULOWNER. I thought maybe it was meant to be Halloween-y, and got a little excited for that kind of puzzle, but nope. Oh well.

Laughed at YADDA- popped it right in there and knew it was right.

What kind of plural is INXS? How is that possible?!

Nothing else got my attention, no problems anywhere, but took me slightly longer than yesterday. Maybe because I’m tired. I know, I know, no excuses... but I don’t care about times, I’ve never wanted to be a speed solver. I only know because the app keeps track and it’s hard to miss.

And oh yeah, I made it into the puzzle. Cool.

Frantic Sloth 1:00 AM  

Either this theme needs a title or a revealer or I'm missing the whole "F" at the front of a common phrase to get the punny clue pun. There's gotta be a better way to say that! 😂 I'm sure someone with "the gift" can come up with one. I keep thinking "F Troop", but that's dumb and makes no sense, so there's my gift....🙄

Aside from that, I thought the theme was cute and worked very well - just perfect for an early week puzzle. Might have been more Mondee-ish IMHO, but that's just a big steaming vat of so what? No lawsuits forthcoming.

2 foot parts placed in anatomically correct positions: ARCH over FOOT was noticed by me. This was a thrill since I notice n.o.t.h.i.n.g. e.v.e.r.!

According to a quick Google, both YADDA and YADA are correct/used, but the more common is YADA, which I also happen to prefer.

Hate all things 180°: UIES, UEYS, UEES, but necessary evils and all that.

One nit I couldn't overlook was the 1A "Radiator sound" (HISS) and 47A "Sound of 1-across" (SSS). What the what?? That just seems all kinds of wrong or sloppy or lazy or all three editing. Just a stench-soaked affront to my delicate sensibilities.
Wait a minute. Affront. Could that be worked into a theme title...A F front... ugh! Blech! No. Better not quit my day job...which is retirement...and therefore, apt.

Anyway...I enjoyed this one overall and hope the week continues this way. Now to read Rex and youz.


SaltySolver 1:23 AM  

" It feels extremely last-century, in every way"

Couldn't agree more! And maybe that's why this is a solid medium for me today. Just not my wavelength. SINGOF as a tribute? Makes me think of some sort of court musician in medieval times.

YESWEDO is literally the answer to any "Do you...?" question in a shop. Might as well have been a clue saying "Answer to question of 'do you carry fresh produce?' at a grocery store" -- I mean to call that the highlight of the puzzle from Rex is... I mean, yeesh. It's not exactly green paint levels of unnecessary, but totally useless clue to answer tie-in.

Hated the theme, and the other fill felt totally unremarkable, and the whole musty grid made this a longer than usual and unpleasant solve.

andrea carla michaels 2:19 AM  

What the fruck???!!!

Unknown 2:23 AM  

Not too big on the protest scene but "Frack and Ruin"? Even Google didn't have much for that one. Other than that decent solve. Enjoyed it overall.

chefwen 3:19 AM  

I think 19A was the seed entry for this puzzle, I’ll leave it to ACME to explain.

Really enjoyed this, loved 24A and being the crazy cat lady that I am 55A and 39D brought on a smile and a laugh.

Good one Andrea and Alan, liked it a lot.

Dick Clark 3:19 AM  

@Pamela: INXS ("in excess") is the name of an Australian rock band from last century...

TTrimble 4:05 AM  

Isn't it originally "wrack and ruin", not "rack and ruin"? Oh, I suppose if enough people misspell/mishear it, then they are the ones who are right in the end, and the ones who rewright the language -- hey, wait, I like that, actually.

("Tow the line" -- as a tugboat would. "He's a real trooper" -- yeah, he can really hand out those speeding tickets. Etc. "He welched on the deal" -- figures, just like those duplicitous grape juice producers.)

Puzzle was friggin' easy. I incorrectly predicted that Rex would laud it for its "smooth solve" (well, it is a Tuesday, after all).

INXS is not a plural; it should be sounded out as "in excess". Band from Australia, IIRC, that was very popular in the 80's. Actually I thought they were pretty good. Of course what obtrudes on my memory is the unfortunate end of the lead singer, and I'll just leave that at that.

Hungry Mother 5:56 AM  

Very easy here as well. I’m still smarting over a word in the mini, but this one helped sooth the HURT.

ChuckD 6:12 AM  

Second consecutive day where the theme outshined the fill. Cute idea and well constructed - liked FRANK AMATEUR best. The remaining fill just didn’t keep me that interested. The foot stuff and the HISS/SSS are bad as are RDS, UIES and especially SSGTS.

Decent enough for a Tuesday - but not overly enjoyable.

Lewis 6:24 AM  

Much catness today, with CAT itself, plus HISS, FRISKY, DIVA and A STRAY. And may I add that our cat Wiley firmly believes he is the RIGHTFUL OWNER of our house.

It was a nice touch that there were no Fs outside of theme answers, and a treat to have a bit of resistance here and there on a Tuesday, though nothing that should discourage new solvers. Because the theme was apparent after getting my first theme answer, it was fun guessing at the remaining three with as few letters filled in. And there was that rare and wonderful palindromic cross of DIVA and AVID.

So much joy in Mudville this morning, and thank you so much for that, A&A!

Geezer 7:04 AM  

FRISKY BUSINESS doesn't work. Meow Mix and Fancy Feast compete in the cat food business. What the hell is Frisky business??? Hint: There's no such thing. And to make it worse, FRISKIES is another brand name of cat food.

kitshef 7:19 AM  

Part of the foot. Four letters. Let’s see … TOES, HEEL, INCH, ARCH, NAIL, SOLE, BALL. At a stretch, BONE, CORN, HOOF.

Harder than a typical Wednesday, let alone Tuesday.

When did D'ANJOU morph into ANJOU? @TTrimble?

I wonder if FROCK AND ROLL was the first choice for 24A but they couldn’t make it work.

Karl Grouch 7:30 AM  

Is there a freason?

thfenn 7:32 AM  

I thought there was plenty like here. Cute theme and didn't think the fill was so bad. Learned iodine comes from kelp, which maybe I knew once but had long since forgotten. Think I'll watch Thelma and Louise again. FRISKYBUSINESS crossing HEISTS, AEROS, MAYTAG, UFOS, even SOHO and DARK, offers something to at least nibble on. Agree I would have said it was "wrack and ruin" not "rack and ruin", but apparently the latter is OK. Thought it was a fun Tuesday.

Pamela 7:51 AM  

Here’s me with a red face 🤭. I knew INXS, but in my tired state I misremembered the spelling as INX, forgot the way it’s pronounced and thought the ‘extra’ S was a particularly egregious POC. Oops!🙄

Thanks to @TTrimble and @Dick Clark for the corrections. I wonder how many more there will be...

Unknown 8:04 AM  

Org defending free speech = ACLU? Try 40 years ago

JJK 8:06 AM  

SSGTS? Ugh. Maybe referring to Staff Sargents? But how tortured is that??

pabloinnh 8:10 AM  

OK Tuesday here, as the themers were fun enough to outweigh the dreck, of which there was an abundance, as has been pointed out. Always nice to see cat stuff, our two (brothers) have a birthday coming up soon and we will always know how old they are, since they're World Series cats, born the same year Boston won its first series in forever (2004).

Some pop culture escaped me but crosses to the recue.

My earworm from this one is due to SINGOF, since I've sung Britten's Ceremony of Carols more than once which contains "I SING OF a maiden that is makeles, King of all kings, to her son she ches", which also allows me to write "makeles" and "ches", which I don't get to do very oftern. Lovely piece.

FWRACKANDRUIN might have been fun in an Elmer Fudd kind of way.

Nice job, you AM's. I had fun.

SouthsideJohnny 8:13 AM  

I think of “rack and run” as a billiards term (has Jeanette Lee ever made an appearance in the NYT Xword ?). Never heard of “rack and ruin” - Uncle Google proved inconclusive. Maybe it is from a famous novel or something. Mostly Monday-easy today. Rex pointed out most of the dreck - which should include SSS. Oh, and btw - Trotsky, yes, Eliot, yes, Amos Oz, no, no, no !

Pamela 8:19 AM  

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


Z 8:31 AM  

@Pamela - Don’t listen to all those posters and their facts. It is IN X’S because those Australian lads don’t know they’re s’posed to use random Greek pluralfications. Besides, it’s hard to fit IN XOPODES into a grid.

I like the themers fine, although the cluing struck me as NYTX tepid. Go big or go home if you’re going to go wacky. The whole point is to get a chuckle, or at least a smirk. In that regard, FRISKY BUSINESS is screaming for a SEXTing clue and the fact that Will rejected FROCK CONCERT makes me sad.

@TTrimble - re: Rack and ruin or wrack and ruin. What I found is that “wrack and ruin” is the original, but that “wrack” is a basically defunct variant of “wreck” and “rack and ruin” has been around a long time (I saw an example from 1782). Adding to the confusion seems to be some false etymologies linking the “rack” in rack and ruin to the torture device, which isn’t the source of the phrase at all. American Heritage has the applicable definition listed second of the three verb definitions. I’d argue that to actually get the original intent of the phrase in 2020 one should probably use “wreck and ruin,” but I imagine a great deal of consternation and puzzlement would follow.

TTrimble 8:47 AM  

@Z 8:31 AM
Heh, I knew I'd be hearing from you. :-) Yes, all that is true, and it's also true that "wrack" is essentially obsolete except for its presence in this phrase. "Not my coinage, but I cleave."

Speaking of autoantonyms: "cleave" is another which for some reason I find particularly delightful.

@kitshef 7:19 AM
I dunno. Or perhaps that should be, I 'unno.

Sir Hillary 8:55 AM  


Not familiar with (w)R(A/e)CKANDRUIN, so that was lost on my. Remaining themers work well enough, although FROTHIRA is better than any of them.

Freddie Freeman -- LOL.

Liberated a 1066 battle site?*


Unknown 9:10 AM  

While I thought today's puz was fine for a Tuesday (i.e., not really geared for the likes of rex & his ilk),I really come to this blog at this point just to watch rex spew his vitriol at the constructors & to take his not so subtle digs @ Will Shortz. He takes 2 minutes plus to solve the puz, which is highly impressive in my book, & then probably another 20 minutes or so to ink his disdain for the constructor/editor. What a sorry, unhappy life he must lead. Then again, I took 18 minutes for today's puz, and a minute to gently chastise rex, so what does that say about me?? LOL

GILL I. 9:11 AM  

Gee, about a frump roast. This was just a fine wacky Tuesday - the way god intended.
My favorite was FRIGHTFUL OWNER. I bet we all know one of those. Landlords trying to evict people who have been unemployed for months and can't get any help. You know the TYPE...YES WE DO.
I also like MYTAG. The newest Maytag man is Colin Ferguson and he's pretty cute and made tough as steel.
If your shrimp smells like IODINE, I suggest you INXS it.

pmdm 9:22 AM  

Thought it was more of a Monday puzzle than yesterdays' but that's just my reaction.

Today's write up demonstrates to me that Mr. Sharp refuses to acknowledge the purpose of a Tuesday puzzle: to be quite simple for a new solver. That's the point of having a lot of "overfamiliar fill" in the grid. Yes, to someone like Sharp the fill is over familiar. To a new solver (whom this puzzle is really aimed at) that cannot be true.

And sorry Z, to me the point of a Tuesday puzzle is the difficulty level, not the chuckly level. Sure, it's better to have both. But if one characteristic has to be thrown away on a Tuesday puzzle, that would be humor rather than ease. That said, I think everyone, us included, would prefer to have both. But I, for one, would make allowances for ACME. She used to be published more frequently (and have wonderful comments on this blog - not to everyone's delight). I'm always happy when I notice ACME's byline as a constructor.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

This is Andrea's third collaboration with Alan, so apparently she doesn't think of him as of the disposable variety.

Pamela 9:38 AM  

@Z 🤣 And thanks!

Jumbo Shrimp 9:38 AM  

@ Unknown 9:10 - boy oh boy do you ever have Rex pegged, and all that is on a good day. Heaven help him if there is an NRA sighting, a foreign despot is invited to the party, or perhaps we go 48 hours without a female constructor - then his blood pressure elevates to the “burst a gasket” level. He doesn’t realize that his credibility is shot and he has deteriorated to the point of self-parody.

RooMonster 9:42 AM  

Hey All !
It happened.
It's amazing.
I'm all verklempt.
The lonely, lovely, oft-unused F has finally earned Theme Status!!! Celebrate good times, come on!

Wow. Har. :-P

LOLed at @Joaquin 12:00, and thanks for the thought! And jae @12:18, I could only dream ACME would care that much about me!!

Did like this puz, F predisposition aside. (If that's actually the correct wording!) I say "Bah" to Rex's "tired theme", or whatever he said. This is a fun theme! It's wordplay, changing a word to another word to get a punny meaning. On a Tuesday! What could be better?

Sure, some iffiness in fill, but again, every puz has some sort of dreck. Some people pick up on it, some don't. So there!

Nit time! (Sorry ACME!) Black squares. 44 of "em. Seems a tad excessive. Just sayin'. :-) Get rid of a couple, might've improve some fill. (Just contradicted myself on the fill!)

@Southside Johnny 8:13
I had a friend in Connecticut who loved Jeanette Lee! I like(d) Allison Fisher. She was my girl! I actually met her once at a SEMA show out here in Las Vegas! (SEMA is Specialty Equipment Marketing Assoc., aftermarket stuff for cars, basically. Big show for car-nuts, unfortunately cancelled this year because of the Vid.) Hated Karen Corr! Har. It seemed Allison and Karen were always 1 or 2. Ms. Lee did finish first a few times. Then there was that one whose name escapes me at the moment, who would aim just twice, and then shoot. I always thought that was amazing!

Anyway, gonna finish my pedestal to put a big F atop it! Thank you Alan and Andrea for the F love! Will still count 'em up daily, but my opinion of their use has been satiated. What a world. :-)

Six F's (Of which Five are the vaunted Themers!)

mathgent 9:46 AM  

I liked the four themers.

We sometimes say that a puzzle isn’t very good but that a new solver would like it. That’s like saying Friskies isn’t good food but my cat likes it.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

so AHL teams are fair game now? cool, cool

JC66 10:04 AM  

@Geezer said...
FRISKY BUSINESS doesn't work. Meow Mix and Fancy Feast compete in the cat food business. What the hell is Frisky business??? Hint: There's no such thing. And to make it worse, FRISKIES is another brand name of cat food.

That's the point; Fancy Feast & Meow Mix are in the same business as Friskies, which gets you FRISKY'S BUSINESS.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

SSGTS aren't particular to the Air Force. memory tells me that the services have swapped over to E-this or -that.

is it Cape COD or ANN? always a potshot.

is it SCrUb or SCOUR? another potshot.

at least AMOS wasn't the totally rad cookie guy.

wasn't/isn't IODINE a cartoon naughty girl?

is the poet ELIOT or YEATS?

if I never see another EKE.... answer again, it won't be too soon.

why is HEISTS pronounced as EYE, not as (long) A, given the I before E rule? Joe Theisman was Joe ThEEEsman until the trophy became a possibility.

how many had Ford before TAFT? Ford wasn't elected, so that's a problem.

William of Ockham 10:14 AM  

Not much to see here, move along, not much to look at ...

Anonymous 10:15 AM  


Just a guess, but because it *is* Friskies, i.e. plural as in "we make FRISKY by the box load", then the business must be FRISKY? It's not a cat food business, but a frisky business. your cavil, OTOH, is well founded.

Carola 10:21 AM  

Easy and delightful. The FRIGHTFUL OWNER remained hidden from me for a while, because my 1D "Half of a pair" was "Hers," in the towel category. Then, once that was corrected, I thought, like @Pamela 12:21, that we might be heading into a Halloween theme. No tricks of that variety, as it turned out, but three additional treats of theme answers. I loved FRISKY BUSINESS, especially since I'd guessed it might be "FRISK management," and the actual answer is obviously so much better. Definitely ended this one with a smile.

Nancy 10:25 AM  

Easy, but lots of fun. Why are there added "F"s in this puzzle? Well, why not? The constructors did it because they could and they don't need any justification from a revealer, thank you very much. In a 15x15, it's all a matter of grid real estate, and to trade off a revealer for a 4th cute themer (they were all quite cute) makes perfect sense to me.

I was, however, looking for a revealer early on and trying to guess what it might be. I was thinking that the clue might be "Failing" and the answer would be GETTING AN F. But it wasn't there. And I didn't miss it. Would I have given up FRIGHTFUL OWNER to make room for it? Of course not. Very enjoyable.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

INXS has nothing to do with a plural. It is the name of a band, pronounced IN EXCESS.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

That doesn't "make it worse." That's the point. You just don't get it.

Frantic Sloth 10:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Whatsername 10:43 AM  

Nice Tuesday but more like a Monday difficulty level and like yesterday’s, especially appealing for beginners. I don’t count that as a downside though; it was still cute and entertaining. I tried to think of some other themers and it wasn’t that easy.

Dress up the ship? FROCK THE BOAT
Dowdy entree? FRUMP ROAST (but that’s probably too short to count)

@GILL, great minds 😉

Hey @Crimson Devil: Congrats on practically being featured in the clues today. Anyone with that handle is synonymous with BAMA if you ask me.

Newboy 10:46 AM  

On any given Tuesday, I’m willing to settle for FRISKY BUSINESS. Thanks to today’s collaborative team for mild amusement which is enough to keep Rex and @Lewis among my morning agenda items for the day. This blog’s commentariat double my dose of amusement/delight as I wait socially distanced from Thursday.

Mailed my ballot 😷.

Z 10:47 AM  

@TT - Just the sort of word/phrase question I find fascinating. I usually find good stuff at etymology online or Merriam-Webster, but today took a little extra digging through the google results. Agree on “cleave” but I have to wonder why “cleaver” isn’t an autoantonym.

@Anon9:49 - Not that this is any better, but I think it is the WHA team. Being a Red Wings fan makes knowing about the AEROS more likely. In the clue’s defense, “Houston” in the clue is meant to suggest AEROSpace. Yeah, I think that’s kinda weak, too.

@10:10 - is it SCrUb or SCOUR? another potshot. - 🤣👍🏽
@Gill I - frump roast 🤣🤣

bocamp 10:53 AM  

@ Alan & ACME - Delightfully "frisky", nothing "ruinous" or "amateurish" about this offering. Thank you!

Fun solve; ave. time, but the post-game analysis of the themers resulted in every possible rationale but the correct one, doh!

Dream a Little Dream of Me - Mama Cass Elliot

Love a mix of old-time-ish and new, unless esoteric and Mensan, as with many of the puzzles from Will's early days.


@ Joaquin 12:00 AM - you did it again! 😂

Billy Joel - Piano Man

Peace Filemu Mir Frieden 🕊

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

No, it WAS a Tuesday, not a Monday. My time was spot on my unimpressive Tuesday average of a smidgen over 5 minutes. Just because some smarty pants can do them in under 3 minutes (because they don't have to read most of the clues) doesn't change the real-world difficulty level. It was fine for me as well. I didn't love it, but I didn't dislike it as much as some. FRISKY BUSINESS was nice. Yes, there is another brand, Friskies, but regardless of that, cats are FRISKY in general. It didn't seem like that much of a stretch. Also, unlike Rex, I thought "Yes We Do" was nothing but lame-o. There you have it, all in MHO.

Michael Page 11:10 AM  

Amateur doesn’t mean bad, it means unpaid. Jesse Owens, (then) Bruce Jenner, the 1980 U.S. hockey team, Nadia Comenici . . . . And that’s just a sampling of Wheaties boxes . . .
And can we get a moratorium on “eke”? It feels like it’s been promoted to almost every other day.
But the misdirection of using FRIGHTFUL in the first themer, close to Halloween, was a great head fake.

egsforbreakfast 11:13 AM  

Personally, I’m so worried about the choppy returns from my froth IRA that I think I’ll spend the day drinking Fretsina.

Frantic Sloth 11:18 AM  

@Lewis 624am DIVA (cat) - LOL! You got that right! Wiley has some indoctrinatin' to do if you say he only "believes he is the RIGHTFUL OWNER" of your house. Seems you didn't get the memo. 😉

@Pamela 751am 😆 I'ma go ahead a push INXS up a level (or 5) to POWTF. But maybe that's just me. It often is.

@pabloinnh 810am FwRACKANDRUIN + Elmer Fudd = my day. 😂

@GILL 911am Likewise "frump roast"😂 I'm picturing Rex on a platter with an apple in his mouth. And now you are, too. 😁 You're welcome.

@pmdm Hear! Hear! Your various defenses of new solvers please me no end. Oh, and right on about ACME, natch!

@Oxymoron (you know who I mean) 938am "doesn't realize" or doesn't care? I know what I believe, but the truth is, I just wanted to use "oxymoron".

jberg 11:33 AM  

I loved the theme, and I agree with @Gill (and the constructors) that no revealer is needed. The theme was obvious once I got two of them, and as @Nancy said, you'd have to cut one of those beautiful theme answers to put one in.

@SallySolver, way earlier than medieval times; it's the first line of Vergil's Aeneid. (I mean, everything is backward in Latin, so it's "of arms and the man I sing," but if you English it it comes out right.)

@Acme, nice puzzle, and thanks for dropping by! Hope to hear more from you.

@TTrimble, I'm keeping my fingers tightly crossed; the last time someone brought up the trooper/trouper thing it turned into a brawl.

Joaquin 11:51 AM  

@Michael Page (11:10) - Although you are correct when you say, "Amateur doesn’t mean bad, it means unpaid," the expression "rank amateur" does mean inept. Therefore, the clue is correct.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

I dunno. The clues says not being very good. Some rank amateurs are in fact, naturals. Babe Didrikson was a scratch golfer within a couple of weeks of picking up a golf club.
But more to the point, amateurs are often derided. Hell, the phrase " what is this, amateur hour?" was a punchline in one of Seinfeld's most beloved episodes.

That amateurs are scorned isn't surprising. Experts control most conversations about their area. Toadies in the media and lap dogs in academia nod along, not knowledgeable enough to challenge the experts.

I offer you the man who discovered Uranus as a rejoinder to expert astronomers. Or Faraday, Ramanujan, Ainning, Mendel. Even Jared Kushner scored one for the amatuers by brokering the Israeli/UAE deal. All after all the experts said his way couldn't work. Google John Kerry condescendingly and flatly sayin many times that all such deals had to include the Palestinians. Go ahead I'll wait.

Not that I'm a fan of examples Mr. Page cited. Comaneci ( no chance on this amateur using that diacritical mark over the A in her name) was a de facto employee of the state. and Mr. Jenner didn't make a lot of money, and none from our gov., he nevertheless wasn't a true amateur.
You want a true amateur? Bobby Jones. A better golfer and man than that guy Tiger.

Masked and Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Enjoyed how they F-ed with the theme answers. Ffave was: FRACKANDRUIN. And I imagine @Roo really enjoyed this theme mcguFFin even more than m&e.

Lost non-themer opportunities: FRENAME. FRAJA. FRDS.

staff weeject pick: SSS. Yo, @Anoa Bob: POC on steroids. Timely … reminisssent of POTUS on steroids.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Alan dude and ACME darlin. har. Luved yer lil comment, here -- frantastic.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Barbara S. 12:22 PM  

Because the puzzle mentions CATs and the CAT-related, here’s a random feline story. In the late afternoon every day, my husband does 45 minutes of back exercises, which he calls “baxercises.” He’s utterly faithful to this regimen and if he has to miss for some reason, he does two sets the next day. Baxercises are all done on the floor (the realm of the prowling feline), and every cat we’ve ever had has thought this activity was devised especially for them. Julie used to crawl underneath my husband’s roomy winter sweatshirt and would often find her way into one sleeve. Maxx used to stretch out and hog the exercise mat or settle down on my husband’s back just as he was preparing to do push-ups. Lex used to think it was time for a love-in and would position herself for patting close by my husband’s outstretched hand. This was her idea but if he didn’t pat her in just the right way, he might get a scratch, hiss or dirty look. Those cats are all gone now, but we still have Spike, who has found a new kind of amusement from baxercises. As my husband lies on the floor and moves this way and that, light from the chandelier refracts through the lenses of his glasses and lands in small, faint patterns on the rug. Spike is completely mesmerized by these, and stares, stalks and pounces at will. It never seems to occur to him that they’re uncatchable – or, on the other hand, maybe that’s their charm. My husband isn’t crazy about claws being deployed so close to his face and he often takes his glasses off. But then Spike looks so crestfallen as he searches in vain for the vanished lights, that he’s been known to put them right back on!

JC66 12:34 PM  

@Anon 12:20

See definition of RANK AMATEUR here.

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Thanks for the gratuitous vocabulary lesson.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

Even Jared Kushner scored one for the amatuers by brokering the Israeli/UAE deal.

time will tell whether it's only just another reality show episode. nothing else JK has done amounted to anything. it was never proposed by The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) that JK would make a 'deal' with an Arab non-entity in the region; it was promoted as the True Solution to the Entire Middle East. not so much. hell, not even in the same zip code. just more propaganda from the Dear Leader.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

Anon 12:20

Teedmn 1:08 PM  

My vote for a theme revealer for this puzzle would be EFFRONTERY.

I went ASTRAY in a couple of places here, SCrUb and stROS at 22A and 53D respectively. (Yes, I remember the Houston ASTROS are not a hockey team; I guess I was conflating them with the STARS which team they lured away from MN, the old Northstars.)

I liked this puzzle though I agree with Rex and Jeff Chen that the fill suffers a tad, but the theme was fun and fresh, in my opinion.

Thanks, Alan and ACME.

@Gill I, nice Frump roast!

Unknown 1:11 PM  

I’ve heard of “wrack and ruin” or “rank file” but “rack and ruin?” Meh—not so much.
“I need you tonight, cos I’m not sleeping. There’s something about you girl, that makes me sweat.” The INXS clue made me smile. My mom will be mystified!

Anoa Bob 1:38 PM  

Four longish themers and 44 (!) black squares means there isn't much room left in the grid for anything other than some "glue", i.e., lots of three- and four-letter entries, to hold it all together. When stuff like EKES OUT and YES WE DO are some of the best of the longer fill, then it's totally left to the theme to carry the day, or not.

After last week's POC fest I was afraid I would have to go cold turkey this week, so I was relieved that this grid helped me taper off with the likes of ICERS, RDS, HEISTS, AEROS, SSGTS, UFOS, etc. And that SSS at 47A is a wonderful POC enabler for UIES and NETS and almost for INXS. (I nominate UIES as the ugliest word ever to appear in a crossword grid.)

The mother of all S strings is SSSSS that appeared in a NYT puzzle once and was clued as the sound of steam escaping, a drawn out HISS I guess. The four letter SSSS has appeared several times, usually clued as the sound of a tire going flat. I think the letter S is the "super glue" of crossword grid fill.

bocamp 2:17 PM  

My 2 cents' worth re: "rank amateur" vs "amateur":

"amateur" = mostly positive vibes
"rank amateur" = mostly negative vibes; derogative (unless one is making light of oneself)

"Diva" Maria Callas - O Mio Babbino Caro

**** SB ALERT ****

-2, w/5 (should be 6) scrabble friendly words discovered, so far.

Peace Filemu Mir Frieden 🕊

okanaganer 2:52 PM  

Just wanted to say it was so nice to see Andrea's name again. Her profile is the only place I've ever seen anyone specify their occupation as "namer". And her company made all that fun stuff for Wile E. Coyote.

And the puzzle was fun too!

TTrimble 3:05 PM  

@jberg 11:33 AM
That must have been before my time here. But you're probably right that I'd better watch out. Likely as not, if I use a slightly mocking tone, as I did earlier, the mockery is half-directed at me, or at a former version of me anyway, who used to think, e.g., it's "trooper" and "welch", before more information came my way. I don't know if such a confession would help to lower any hackles though.

(Moreover, I get the point that language changes, and that "correctness" in language is chimerical, and that the language is embodied in how actual people use it, however it may come out. So I'm not really taking a hard line: if people want to write "trooper" and "welch", then peace be to them. However, like Brother @Z, I like knowing where words come from, and I'll just continue writing to my own taste and according to my background knowledge. I could hardly do otherwise!)

@Anonymous 9:31 AM
Oh, I get it now. But don't you imagine he's suffered enough already?

Some other anonymous: the thought of grouping Kushner in the company of Faraday, Ramanujan, and Mendel doth amuse. Who is Ainning? Was that a typo? Google didn't seem to help here.

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

One to go for me. Don't know if I'll get there. Right now I'm goofing off and avoiding work I should be doing.

So often this puzzle makes me feel as if I've been living under a rock. The answer GENTLED from the other day was a fluke -- "well, let's see if this works" -- word floats on air to heaven and the clarion blast proclaiming my QB status commences. I'm like, "who, what, huh?" So I looked it up, and okaaay, if you say so. "Gentle" is a verb then.

@Barbara S., you asked something to the effect of whether multiple pangrams make it harder? I guess maybe sometimes for me, but not to the point that I notice it more than anything else that makes the puzzle hard. The other day when there were three -- that particular day it wasn't a problem.

TTrimble 3:09 PM  

Sorry, forgot the other thing I was going to say. Has it been pointed out yet in comments that "amateur" is rooted in the Latin noun amor and verb amare, to love?

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

That you're amused by including Kushner underscores my point. You're dissing the amateur, simply because you don't like him instead of evaluating his work.
I make no claims about his ability. Or even the worth of his particular contribution for that matter. But many, many people do think Middle East geopolitics is important. And this guy, an amateur, succeeded where god knows how many pros failed. Some of them swanning around in striped pants, so pleased to be working for the Sate department. Or the Foreign office.

Yes, Ainning is a typo. It's Anning. Mary Anning. She of the Jurassic Coast fame.
I could make a pretty convincing case that LeMaitre was an amateur given the fact that he received the sacrament of Holy Orders. But I'll let it slide.

Pamela 3:57 PM  

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

@TTrimble- I’m down to -1, too. But it’s early yet, and I have some time...

As for the multiple pangrams, they were pretty accessible the other day. But sometimes I have to work really hard just to get one, so I guess it just depends on the combo of letters, like all the other word lengths. Personally, I seem to have the hardest time when there are a lot of 5 letter words.

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

And this guy, an amateur, succeeded where god knows how many pros failed.

only to extent that he bunted against the shift and just beat the throw to first. this isn't even righteous double. not what The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) promised he would do back in 2017. yes, that long ago. go look it up. also, it's easy to make a 'deal' if you give away the farm.

bocamp 4:21 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****


Bonne chance to all! 🤞🐝

TTrimble 4:47 PM  

"You're dissing the amateur, simply because you don't like him"

No, what amuses me is that you place Kushner in the company of geniuses.

Jeremy Schwartz 4:51 PM  

I feel like Rex should change the name of this blog to "Rex Parker Hates the NYTimes Crossword Puzzle".

I'm with him on this one though - at least regarding the fill. Both HISS and SSS for basically the same clue? Come on.

Barbara S. 5:19 PM  

*****SB ALERT*****
@TTrimble, @Pamela, @bocamp
I'm looking for one last word, too! What are the chances we're all after the same #$%&@ word!

Anonymous 5:37 PM  

I understand. But you’ve made a category error. I’ll concede—- a million men working for a thousand years couldn’t build a latter that would allow Mr. Kushner to reach Fradaday’s boots. But the question at hand wasn’t intellectual heft, but status.
Specifically professionals and amateurs. And in that regard, I’m afraid, Kushner and Farady are exactly alike. Neither has credentials in the field of his achievement. Each was an amateur who made a significant contribution to a field not his own.
That you are focused on intellect rather than the argument at hand says more about you than Faraday or Kushner.

Anonymous 5:43 PM  

Before the flames. Category error is a term in philosophy. It has a a very specific meaning. I used it advisedly.
Done for the night, will fight, a surely losing fight, tomorrow.
Good night guys.

bocamp 5:52 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@Barbara S. @TTrimble, @Pamela

Hey @ jae, could we all have a peek at your list? LOL

Peace Filemu Mir Frieden 🕊

Barbara S. 5:55 PM  

*****SB ALERT*****
Hah! All I needed to do was come and swear on the blog. I just found that last blinking word for QB! I have faith in you all and have lit the torches along the ceremonial approach to the palace. Welcome all!

TTrimble 7:36 PM  

"category error" Beep! 42xp9*

In case any of you don't get humor, it may be impossible to explain, but it often involves looking at something from an angle that wasn't originally intended. So in the present case, to me the juxtaposition was funny. It might not have been what poor Anonymous wanted us to look at, but it's what struck me anyhow and brought a wry smile to my lips. Sorry, it's just really hard explaining humor.

G'night, Anonymous! Sweet dreams.

bocamp 7:43 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@ Barbara S.

You: 😂 👍 🐝

Me: 😔 🤔 🙏

The rest: 🤞 🤞 🤞

Peace Filemu Mir Frieden 🕊

Pamela 8:15 PM  

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

Me too! 🐝. Yay!

Turns out I already had the base word, just needed to add an ending. Whew!

bocamp 11:14 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@Barbara S. 🐝 & @Pamela 🐝

Roll out the Royal Carpet for the twin QBs of the Day!! Well done! 😊

As for me, I am your humble drone wanna-bee, retired for the evening at -1. Tomorrow's a new day. :)

Peace Filemu Mir Frieden 🕊

Richardf8 11:56 PM  

1. You are describing the path to expertise.
2. Kushner is not an amateur, but was acting as an agent of the administration.
3. Kerry is not an expert, but was acting as an agent of the administration.
4. Kerry was asserting policy, not necessity.

Richardf8 12:32 AM  

*** SB Alert ***

My final word came at around 10:30 CDT. It wasn’t one of the ones withe a suffix.

Mr Abdullah Ibrahim 6:10 PM  

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Burma Shave 9:22 AM  


It's almost FRIGHTFUL to ACT this way,
and MEANT to lead you HALF ASTRAY:
to see a SEXT from a FRANKAMATEUR.


rondo 10:34 AM  

Thought for sure OFL would say F this puzzle; in a way I guess he did. I understand his reasoning. My dad joined the Army for WWII and ended up in the Army Air Force before it was just the Air Force; he discharged as a SSGT and I still have his uniform. Otherwise I say SSGTS is pretty weak. The $-less KESHA gets a yeah baby. I have no praises to SINGOF here.

Diana, LIW 11:47 AM  

Plenty of F bomb jokes already. Looks like Mon and Tues were flipped this week.


Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

wcutler 9:33 PM  

This is the puzzle with the F's theme.
@RooMonster 9:42 AM, I was excited for you the whole (short) time it took to do the puzzle.

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