Founder of the Sikh religion / THU 10-22-20 / Woos outside one's league so to speak / Many a 4WD ride

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Constructor: Sid Sivakumar

Relative difficulty: Challenging


THEME: RUNS ON EMPTY (61A: Keeps going despite fatigue ... or a hint to three features of this puzzle) — letter string "RUN" appears three times, and each time the squares underneath it are EMPTY

Theme answers:
  • 17A: They put in long hours to get better hours (LABOR UNIONS)
  • 21A: What's theorized to have preceded the Big Bang ([nothing])
  • 30A: Telephone when all lit up? (DRUNK DIAL)
  • 36A: What polar opposites have in common ([nothing])
  • 46A: Founder of the Sikh religion (GURU NANAK)
  • 50A: What's uttered by a mime ([nothing])
Word of the Day: GURU NANAK (46A) —

Guru Nanak (Punjabiਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ (Gurmukhi)گرو نانک (Shahmukhi)Gurū Nānak[gʊɾuː naːnəkᵊ]About this soundpronunciation; born as Nanak on 15 April 1469 – 22 September 1539), also referred to as Baba Nanak ('father Nanak'), was the founder of Sikhism and is the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. His birth is celebrated worldwide as Guru Nanak Gurpurab on Katak Pooranmashi('full-moon of the Katak'), i.e. October–November.

Nanak is said to have travelled far and wide across Asia teaching people the message of ik onkar (, 'one God'), who dwells in every one of his creations and constitutes the eternal Truth. With this concept, he would set up a unique spiritual, social, and political platform based on equality, fraternal love, goodness, and virtue.

Nanak's words are registered in the form of 974 poetic hymns, or shabda, in the holy text of Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib, with some of the major prayers being the Japji Sahib (jap, 'to recite'; ji and sahib are suffixes signifying respect); the Asa di Var ('ballad of hope'); and the Sidh Gohst ('discussion with the Siddhas'). It is part of Sikh religious belief that the spirit of Nanak's sanctity, divinity, and religious authority had descended upon each of the nine subsequent Gurus when the Guruship was devolved on to them. (wikipedia)

• • •

Ha ha, yeah, not a puzzle I should've been doing at 4:30am, straight out of bed, probably. All the non-theme parts were easy, but literally everything between the first EMPTY and the last EMPTY (so, everything in the center and center-west) was a mess. Spent tons of time just flat-out stuck, which virtually never happens. I'd even jumped ahead to the revealer clue to see if I could get some help and, well, not really. Even with the RUNS part in place, I couldn't figure out the rest of the phrase (RUNS ON AND ON came to me before RUNS ON EMPTY); and then, even after I completely understood the theme ... still stuck. Three major contributing factors to this. One, I needed literally every cross for GURU NANAK. Most of those letters could have been anything from my perspective (although I was able to put together the "RUN" part from knowing the theme). Two, ATONE, wow (39A: When some people break for lunch). I have to say that cluing a perfectly good English word as a phrase is a generally awful choice, and here it was really irksome because it came right in the heart of theme-impacted country, and so after I put in what seemed like the obvious ONEPM, I had no way of getting rid of that wrong answer with any certainty (not for a while, anyway). Which brings me to three: I just completely forgot the word DUVETS (24A: Down-hearted softies?). The "?" clue didn't help, but there was honestly one point at which I was staring at DUVE- and thinking, "well, no words start that way so I must have an error." Oof. Throw in, in that same center section, a non-S-ending plural in DATA (35D: Figures, e.g.) and a really hard clue on theme-affected TROJAN (25D: Misleading malware), and it meant total catastrophe for me, solving-speed-wise. 

The west was also rough, as I forgot there were ever WHIGs in the U.S., and because of that could not come up with the very basic WANTED (34A: Word seen above a mug shot). And before I got HYPE (which took time) (38A: It may lead up to a letdown), I had no real hope of seeing BAYOU (28D: Place to catch shrimp)—that clue was not quite geographically specific enough for me (in that it was not geographically specific at all). So, tale of two puzzles today, as far as difficulty goes—that left/center chunk (yikes), and then everything else (fine). The only issues I had outside the Danger Zone was in the JUG / UTAH area. Hard clue on UTAH, no chance there (58D: Its name is said to mean "people of the mountains"), and I wrote in "ALL ears" before "JUG ears" (?) (57A: ___ ears). I know jugs have ears, but I don't know about the phrase "JUG ears" as a stand-alone thing. I've heard "JUG-eared" to describe someone with ears that stick out, but just "JUG ears," I dunno. 

Really liked the clue on DRUNK DIAL (30A: Telephone when all lit up?). Really didn't like the clue on KILO, which lacked any indication that the answer was an abbr. (48D: Approximate weight of a liter of water). Always feels like cheating on the cluer's part when abbrs. are not signaled some way in the clue. OK, that's all, bye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 5:58 AM  

But that last RUN(SONEMPTY) just sitting there over filled squares kinda sticks out like a sore thumb. I realize it's a revealer and maybe there are some allowances made for these situations, but it looks negligent to me.

In the past this constructor has given me both fits and thrills (his puzzle in this year's Lollapuzzoola was terrific!). This one is somewhere in no man's land.
I was proud of myself for figuring out the theme (which only took me to the bottom of a grid full of all the "extra squares" left after trying to enter answers I just knew had to be correct); however that feeling faded almost immediately into "...and then what?"
Three themers and one themer/revealer hybrid seems like a gyp. Partial refund, please.

OTOH, the fill with some sneaky cluing went a long way to almost making amends for the "themelet". Almost.
Really liked the clues for DRUNKDIAL, BADJOKES, WHIG and there wasn't a lot of gunk otherwise.

Useless tidbit: Malapop at 1D and 38A - HYPE

Question for online solvers:
Did anyone else have a hiccup with getting the final grid accepted? It wasn't until I went back after believing I was done and noticed the timer still running. Figured I had to enter something (but what exactly??) into the empty squares, so I tried some dashes. I was only about halfway through that process when I got the "Congratulations" banner. What the what??

Aaaanyway....It was okay if a bit paltry for a Thursdee.


Dale Gribble 6:02 AM  

What do I put into the blank spots on the online puzzle? I've done the whole thing, left the blanks blank, but the timer is still rolling.

Also, I hated this puzzle. Leaving blanks is so counter-intuitive and wasteful.

Anonymous 6:18 AM  

"Challenging"---what was your time?

Turned out you could put anything in the "empty" squares.

ChuckD 6:25 AM  

For me a difficult puzzle - it took me some time to figure it out. But - after the first themer I went to the revealer and parsed that - the rest was pretty smooth. Knew something was up with PERUSE and SUV. I can remember a few empty space puzzles in the past - I don’t really like the trick - the grid looks incomplete - the app does not require any input in the empty squares. Learned GURUNANAK the hard way - needed everything around him. Liked DRUNK DIAL x WOULD I EVER. Not a fan of John CUSACK or Laura DERN.

Surprising Rex didn’t get his panties bunched over NIP - I thought that was on the no fly list currently. While KILO is technically an abbreviation - it’s used colloquially in lieu of kilogram so I had no issue with it.

Not my favorite puzzle - but definitely a work out which is always welcome.

Hungry Mother 6:31 AM  

Faster than usual. Just leaving blanks worked for me online. I tried mirroring RUN, but that didn’t do it. Not my favorite.

Lobster11 6:33 AM  

If you could put anything in the "empty" squares.... that's kind of ironic, huh?

nevercared 6:34 AM  

What a nuisance puzzle. Why leave blanks in a crossword? If you take this literally or actually wrote in "empty" it's a SINGULAR "run" on multiple "empties"....
Run on empties? Stupid. Just stupid.

This constant urge for "clever" themers is killing my love of crosswords.

Jeff Toobin 7:00 AM  

Another constructor self-pleasuring.

Lewis 7:10 AM  

Sid has the ability to make not only the theme entertaining, but also the rest of the puzzle. This may be why three of his four NYT puzzles have been Puzzle of the Week on Jeff Chen’s site. Sid’s wordplay cluing – and that clue for DUVETS is world class, by the way [Down-hearted softies?] – and interesting answers, in addition to clever themes, have placed him right up there with Robyn Weintraub at the top of my Pantheon of Entertaining Constructors.

Part of the entertainment today was that the puzzle put up a fabulous-to-engage-in fight, to make completion all the sweeter.

Sometimes crosswords just make me sit back for a moment, and dwell in that moment, thinking, “Ain’t life grand?” And that’s just what yours did today, Sid. Thank you, and more please!

dfan 7:18 AM  

KILO is a colloquial shortening and not an abbr., per Wikipedia: "[The kilogram] is a widely used measure in science, engineering and commerce worldwide, and is often simply called a kilo in everyday speech." No period needed.

I thought this was grand. It's fine not to like puzzles like this but in that case it is probably safest to skip Thursdays.

Greg 7:20 AM  

I was able to get the puzzle to complete by entering dashes in the "empty" squares.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

A good, tough puzzle that took me a looong time to catch on to.

See, unlike the last three days, ACDC is legitimately famous and worth of inclusion in a crossword. Of course, I still had Asia and ABBA there before finding ACDC.

Lots of wrong turns today, in addition to the aforementioned ACDC forerunners;
Height before WANTED
Walk with me before WHOS with me
HoPE before HYPE
pres before WHIG
ONE PM before AT ONE
bear IT before TAKE IT
toTs before DATA
SaveS before SIGNS

The only two Whigs elected as president of the US died in office after serving less than two years. John Tyler, a Whig who became president when WH Harrison died, was kicked out of the Whig party five months after becoming president. So the longest-serving Whig president was Millard Fillmore, who became president when Zachary Taylor died and served for less than three years.

Z 7:29 AM  

Being and nothingness. You gotta love a puzzle with a smidge of existential angst.

I had dAD JOKES before BAD JOKES.

Saw the GURU NANAK clue and wished my middle child was around. He would have given me the answer and a 33 minute explanation of how GURU NANAK fits into the history and lineages of Indian religions.

My first thought on the Big Bang clue was “nil.” My first thought on the polar opposite clue was “nil.” My first thought on the mime clue was “nil.” My second thought on the mime clue was “wait a minute... nothing nothing nothing... I see a pattern in the emptiness,” and caught on before seeing the RUNS ON EMPTY revealer. The frisson of Aha is always a good feeling. Since the empty spaces were three letters long I put in “nil” but then decided to just leave them empty and went about finishing up. Blank squares worked for me.

I don’t know what the complainers are using but you should solve online using PuzzAzz. That’s what I used and my empty cells are empty, zilch, nada, blank. I know the NYTX App has gotten better, but PuzzAzz is still the only app that faithfully recreates the intended printed solution of every non-standard solution. And it’s a bit unfair that the tech doesn’t work right. People will be frustrated because their timers are running even though they have the correct solution, marring their appreciation of this puzzle.

And this is a good puzzle. Besides the clever nothingness, the fill is pretty clean. The little 3x3 corners are kinda annoying, but only in the most modest of ways. Getting rid of the most annoying answer, UZO Aduba, would cost us WOULD I EVER which I rather like. I don’t know how GURU NANAK would feel about being symmetrically paired with DRUNK DIAL but they’re both great answers. In case you wondering, full names of significant historical religious figures are more interesting to me than three letter names of actors. Fortunately, that Z means Aduba will not become the new Yoko Eno or Brian Ono.

kitshef 7:33 AM  

@Dale Gribble - I entered 'quantum foam' in the empty squares.

ez 7:34 AM  

Leaving them blank worked for me.

Z 7:39 AM  

@Jeff Toobin - 🤣🤣🤣 What a week in men behaving badly. First Zoom Dick becomes a thing and now “tucking my shirt” is a thing.🤣🤣🤣 Seriously fellow males - zip it up and assume the camera is on.

ncmathsadist 7:39 AM  

After I deduced the existence of the blank squares,it was annoying I had to put a rebus in all of them to get the puzzle SW to acknowledge solution. grrrrr.

Ohsusanah 7:42 AM  

Okay actually thought I was losing my mind...or yes that 6:00 am was just too early but that felt more like an excuse than a reason why my brain wouldn't work... I had to do the "let's try every letter" dance and ended up with blank equals X. Too damn early! Should have stuck with the Mini 😁

Harryp 7:46 AM  

Even after quitting and looking at the answer in blank squares, the puzzle required me to put in the rebus EMPTY in all the blank squares to give a happy tone. Pissed me off!

Anonymous 8:00 AM  

Leaving all the empty squares blank worked for me— I got the congrats message before I thought I was done. That was on the iOS app. Maybe people who had the timer still running had something else wrong? There certainly were lots of places to mess up.

Joaquin 8:01 AM  

What a great Thursday puzzle. I started out by questioning if I have for all my years been misspelling PERUSE. I then proceeded to pull out the few remaining hairs I have. And then - finally - got the “aha” of my crossword life when I hit the revealer clue.

Blackhat 8:05 AM  

9 names, 3 foreign words (although it was hard to count today because after completing the grid the cursor won't scroll through the puzzle in order due to the three blank answers, which is how I get my count...)

froggiemeanie 8:06 AM  

I had to rebus in the word EMPTY

Twangster 8:16 AM  

According to Wordplay: "For the answers in Across Lite, the cells will each accept the rebus EMPTY or the letter E. For online and mobile formats, any of the following will work in each square: NOTHING, EMPTY, BLANK, X, ?, or -"

I had tried putting in zeroes, which didn't work.

Marc 8:18 AM  

Ha. Meta.

Pamela 8:18 AM  

I had NIL for the first one, then Hmmmm... at the second, finally left all three blank. At the end, when the timer kept going, I went back and started Re-entering NIL- halfway through that music came on and I was done.

I liked it, in spite of GURUNANAK. At least I learned something, and so many of the other clues were a hoot.

Rug Crazy 8:18 AM  

The whole puzzle left me feeling MT

feinstee 8:19 AM  

Had DAD JOKES 23D) for a while which kept me from completing NW..and RUNS ON FUMES first came to mind as well.

G. Weissman 8:22 AM  

CUSACK, GURU NANAK, UZO, DERN, ALI ... not enough proper names. Did the random interruption of the down words by empty squares strike anyone else as a problem?

Ed 8:28 AM  

This isn't the most egregious example, but as an app solver I must say I dislike it when *how* you enter things into the app determines whether or not you've "solved" it. Initially, I just put E's in the EMPTY squares - you know, like "E" on a car fuel gauge. Valid enough, I think, but not good enough for the app (gotta maintain that streak!) ... again, not the most egregious offender today, but ... ugh.

G. 8:32 AM  

What a fun ride.

Unknown 8:34 AM  

Pretty easy but I left the blank spaces empty. I'm going to let the clock run forever.

Joe Welling 8:37 AM  

For me, solving online, it wouldn't accept leaving them empty, so I began to type in dashes, but before I got beyond the second empty, it accepted as solved and displayed empty boxes.

RooMonster 8:38 AM  

Hey All !
Interesting idea. Messed with me until I figured out the "nothings". But, full disclosure, never noticed that RUN was on the "EMPTYs". The ole brain decided to shirk that.

Finished with the three blank answers, no Happy Music. Looked at Rex, his puz had EMPTY in each square. Tried that, no Happy Music. Clicked on "Check Puzzle", found two wrong squares! Aha, my fault. Had WHIp for WHIG, and TROgAN/TAg. Fixed them, finally got the Happy Music, and the app changed my rebussed "EMPTY"s back to blank squares. So needlessly put in nine "EMPTY"S. Dang.

On the fence on this puz, liking wise. Cool idea, iffy execution. Although now knowing RUN is ON the EMPTYs notches it up a bit. I'll TAKE IT as it is.


One F

Marc 8:40 AM  

I really liked this puzzle. I started it last night, got nowhere, and finally caught the trick this AM. Since I managed to finish without any cheats, it left me with a sense of accomplishment - and, it was especially enjoyable since it had (empty) references to Harry Potter or Tweet semi-illiterate abbreviations. Also, I fortunately found that on my computer the online entry form accepted blank spaces as correct - phew. As to those who are carping about this gem - well, as usual, Shakespeare has the last word: "full of sound & fury, signifying ."

mathgent 8:42 AM  

I was blown away. Twice. First, when I found the three trios of blanks. Second, when I saw the three RUNs sitting on top of them. What a great puzzle!

On Jeff Chen, I was told that this blank-square gimmick has been used before. I don’t recall.

Most of the commenters so far seem to be more interested in how they represented blank squares in solving online than in the genius of the work. Another reason I’m glad to solve on paper.

Also on Jeff Chen, the constructor said that after his puzzle was accepted he became aware that NIP was offensive to some. He sent in a fix, but Will went with the original version.

I learned that CIO is Chief Information Officer. Do most big corporations have one these days? I’m still getting used to CFOs.

Liked seeing BAYOU. Fun to say. Fun for Linda Ronstadt to sing.

Lots of smart cluing. Plenty of sparkle. Crunchy. Does it sound like I’m doing a Lewis impression?

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

We all have gaps in our knowledge but Rex’s not remembering there were Whigs in the U.S. is surprising. Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress as a Whig a few years before he helped found the Republican Party in Illinois.

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

In my version of Across Lite (on Windows 7) I had to put EEE in each of the three blanks. Checking the rebus of "empty" that works too. Any other letter, blank, or dash that I know of will awaken Mr. Happy Eraser Head.

pabloinnh 9:00 AM  

Looks more and more like solving on paper is the way to go. I left the blanks empty and got to sing the little happy tune of my own choosing.

Started going down the east coast, got RUNSONEMPTY, thought EMPTY meant EMPTY squares, i.e. nothing in them, saw that "nothing" would be a good answer for each clue, and hey presto, a major aha! moment, which makes a Thursday a good Thursday. Thought the concept was just great, and the empty squares bother me about as much as KILO, or, not at all.

33D was a gimme as "cuaresma" is the Spanish word (hola GILL I) for Lent, and now I know why.

A new TAJ, a new ALI, and now an UZO to go with "uzi". My crossword cup starteth to run over.

Thanks for the fun, SS. Thanks also for the introduction to GURUNANAK, although I doubt I'll ever see him again.

MarthaCatherine 9:05 AM  

Well I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. I got it. Early. Knowing it was Thursday and that there was some sort of fill trick, I was confused at first when so many of the downs had one too many spaces for the obvious answers. Usually there are too FEW spaces on a Thursday in order to allow for rebuses.

So I says to myself, I says: "if you can have more than one letter in a given square, can't there be NO letters in a given square?" (I solve on paper, so there was no issue for me with leaving them blank). And Bob's your uncle (love that phrase, which I learned here, from you guys, even thought this might not be exaaaaaaactly the correct usage), I had it!

I am NOT proud, however, of the fact that I did not notice until I came here the "RUN" above every empty answer. Didn't matter in the solve, though.

Got a bit slowed down with the GURU answer. but loved, loved, loved 30A and 24A. And I did enter UTes before UTAH. My only write over.

Tomorrow I'll be back to my normal humbling struggle. But today, I'm feelin' all right!

George Dies 9:05 AM  

Not sure kilo is an abbreviation, Rex. More like shorthand. Same for Trojan, which I usually saw as Trojan horse, back when antivirus sw was a hot seller.

Devo 9:06 AM  

I entered X’s, just as placeholders, planning to remove them at the end. Didn’t have to, though. It went through as was.

sidneyellenwade 9:13 AM  

Under the "run" in 61A, there's no empty space, but "veil." What's up with that? Also, I correctly filled the puzzle with the empty spots, but the puzzle wouldn't allow it. I put in all "e"s, and when the answer was "revealed," it reverted to all empty spaces where I had originally had them. Ugh.

Ernonymous 9:20 AM  

@frantic I put the word RUN into all those blank slots and that worked to get the grid accepted. But I thought that was what we were supposed to do!. I thought it was to replace the empty answers with RUN. As in Runs IN empty I guess, which now I realize makes no sense. That way the word RUN was right underneath the other RUNs. Shocked to see it was supposed to be empty!

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

What seven letters would one say upon solving this puzzle? “O I C U R M T”!

Paul Rippey 9:40 AM  

Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle. Hard, but I still beat my embarrassingly slow average time. And, delighted to have an impetus to read up on the Sikhs.

If it has been an athlete or movie star that I’d never heard of, I might have had a different reaction, but as they French say, “Chacun à son wheelhouse”.

Sami 9:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 9:42 AM  

@sidneyellenwade - Har! Timely nom de blog. Anyway, the clue for 61 A says it is a hint to “three features,” implicitly excluding itself from being like the others. Pragmatically, we have RUN, not RUNS, over empty squares, so to have this answer also have empty squares there would need to be three-letter words rather than four-letter words below it (and also symmetrically at the top). I prefer as is, so the infelicity doesn’t bother me.

Andrew Hazlitt 9:44 AM  

Grew up in Louisiana. Caught shrimp offshore, never on a bayou.

Steve M 9:45 AM  

Another gimmick puzzle yuck

Joe Dipinto 9:46 AM  

So Empty preceded the Big Bang, polar opposites have Empty in common, and a mime utters Empty.

It's kind of a problem that the revealer thinks this puzzle depicts "runs on empty" when what it depicts is "runs on nothing". Why aren't 21, 36 and 50a clued so that EMPTY is the correct answer? "Like some promises" or "Like some threats" or "Like some vessels, figuratively" or "Like some suits, figuratively" or "Like a hobo's pockets, maybe" or "You might take one back to the store"...

I get that you think your NOTHING clues are ultra-clever, but the result is that your theme shoots itself in the foot. And not with blanks. (rimshot)

That clue for SLY just makes me shake my head sadly. Here's 1986 one-hit wonder Sly Fox singing its sort-of "I Am The Walrus" imitation.

pmdm 9:49 AM  

Got the empty part of the theme but totally missed the run part. Thrumbs up on the empty part. For me, that was enough to make the puzzle a positive experience.

As pointed out above, the constructor wrote a lot of self-loathing test about his aversion to 62D. Based on the lack of complaints, his aggravation is not justified. Over at XWordInfo he also oints out a mini theme in today's puzzle. Don't think it's been mentioned yet, but I sped read through this blog. Did you catch it? I did not.

Z: The example I used yesterday perhaps was not the best in the world, although looking at the various definitions for the word suggests your point might be relevant to it. Anyway, the examples that came to my mind would be too technical for inclusion here. And maybe if they are that technical, they should be forgotten. I have learned early on in my solving career that one has to consider ALL definitions of a word, not just the one you prefer, before complaining about a mistake in cluing. And since English is a living language, one has to be very up on recent changes to word usages. I find it interesting how you can quote support for your arguments and some others completely ignore your evidence. You can lead a horse to water but ...

DavidL 9:51 AM  

Clue on DRUNK DIAL is worth the price of admission.

My time was in the Saturday range.

webwinger 10:16 AM  

Interesting puzzle, interesting comments.

My experience (using the NYT app) was similar to @Roo’s—I tried several things in the “empty” squares, including 0 and E. Considered the rebus approach but didn’t want to waste time entering EMPTY times nine, so I used Check Puzzle and found that I had an error at dAD JOKES. (It had seemed so right I didn’t even bother checking the cross.) That fixed I got the happy tune with the “empty” boxes empty, more satisfying than alternatives for compatibility with the crossing downs, and for existential reasons (yo @Z!), but also way cool that with at least some apps any fill worked, in some cases apparently accepted mid-entry.

Hand up for not noticing the RUNs over the [empty]s. Made the already impressive theme shine even brighter. As others have noted, a number of outstanding clues. Nice work, SS!

What? 10:29 AM  

Couldn’t believe I found it a lot easier than Rex. All the crosses were easy.
I have a dictum I follow that (almost) never fails me - if it don’t fit, it’s a rebus and in this case, I got it before the reveal. The first was PERUSE, then SUV. Time for the reveal. Ok, EMPTY. Aha. Zip zip
My only complaint is when Shortz and company decide they have to make a Thursday difficult, they simply use an obscurity (46A). No offense but not many Westerners would know the fill. It can be a learning experience but this is a crossword, not a dictionary or Wikipedia.

Nancy 10:30 AM  

I don't know. Maybe if you have a trick puzzle that's this fiendish, you shouldn't surround it with obscure fill like GURU NANAK and eROJAN.

Okay -- that's the opening sentence I was planning to write. I had already cheated on GURU NANAK to finish the puzzle off (I had to) and was "checking" EROJAN at 25D. But when I typed it in, it wasn't there. So I came here.

Oh dear. I had DUVEeS for the "down-hearted softies." (And to think -- we were just discussing the French language yesterday.) I guess the sound of the word threw me off. Anyway, a DNF -- and for a really dumb reason.

I did manage a big AHA when I figured out that all three letters in a row were EMPTY and that that was the pattern. Nothing had fallen into place and now everything finally did. I solve on paper and I just put a big black dark horizontal line through the three squares and thought of the answer to each clue as "Nothing". I thought of "Nothing" as equal to EMPTY. Don't know if the puzzle app would have liked that approach, but apps are not my problem, thank heaven. I had enough other problems. Clever, fiendish puzzle that provided a lot of suffering and a big "Aha!"

TJS 10:32 AM  

@Joe D., check out Spooky Tooth' "I Am the Walrus", if you get a chance. Sorry, I don't know how to provide more info.

Wouldn't it be cool to have a Navajo constructor create a puzzle filled with clues referring to Navajo culture and have all the answers be in the Navajo language?

Does anyone get the feeling that OFL's "Challenging" means "I DNF'd" ?

@Lewis, how can you have a Pantheon when you love every puzzle and every constructor?

Sorry, I think this puzzle just pissed me off.

bocamp 10:39 AM  

Nothing empty about this puzzle, @Sid; what a marvelous adventure! :)

One of these days, I may jump down South to see if I can suss out the theme more quickly, instead of always starting in the NW. It would have been a great advantage in this solve.

Was only slightly over Thurs. ave., but floundered due to the empty cells.

Made some laughable mistakes, which also cost precious seconds. Had "odor" in lieu of "oven" "cfo" in place of "cio" and "ad agent" instead of "ad execs" (obviously wasn't paying attention to the plural clue. :(

New to me: "Aduba Uzo" and "Taj Bengal"

Knew William Henry "Harrison", but not that he was a "whig". His grandson, Benjamin "Harrison", was also a "whig", then a republican.

Had misremembered "Guru Nanak", although each year I took my class on a field trip to the "Sikh" Temple in Vancouver, BC

Did ballet at community college; no "graceful leaps" for me. LOL Did enjoy it immensely, tho.

Peace শান্তি Paix ਸ਼ਾਂਤੀ 🕊

jberg 10:41 AM  

I just left the squares empty and the Arts section of the NYT lit up like a drunken phone. Good puzzle IMO. No idea about the founder of Sikhism, I’m embarrassed to say. And I never noticed that RUN was over every blank until I came here.

I’m not much on actresses’ names, but at least I resisted the temptation to write in UZi before reading the clue.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Another garbage "rebus" solve. How many letters can we squeeze into one square?? Not my cup of (weak) tea.

Joaquin 10:53 AM  

The constructor, Sid Sivakumar, does terrific work and this puzzle is no exception. However, I take issue with his sincere apology for including the word NIP at 62D. Context matters, and if we eliminate all words that *could* be offensive we'd be doing a disservice to the language.

You can add your own, but these words come to mind as racially offensive when used in a bigoted context, yet are perfectly acceptable in most conversations: bean, colored, slant, slope, Jew, coon, spook, chink, ape, monkey, Ann, cracker, Oreo, redskin ... and hundreds more.

Can we be polite and considerate without being so PC that we are constantly walking on eggshells?

Carola 10:55 AM  

I thought was a terrific Thursday puzzle - tricky and witty. I enjoyed the challenge of working out the blank squares and was delighted at the extra surprise of the RUNS actually being on EMPTY. I solved in the newspaper, and instead of writing anything in the 3-space theme squares I drew a circle around them to represent a zero = nothing.
Help from previous puzzles: ACDC, NED. No idea: GURU NANAK.

@Sid Sivakumar, an OXO to you for this one.

GILL I. 10:57 AM  

I was able to get myself up from that little corner where I was sitting with my dunce cap on since Tuesday and shout OH WHAT A GOOD GIRL AM I.....Yep. My teachers were proud.
How did I love thee? From the moment I saw the EMPTY spaces to just about every entry. Where to start?
First, I wish Sid had more than three of these gems....but no matter. I smelled my first little mouse at PER USE. My second was that little rubber TR OJAN. I get to the reveal and let out my squeak. YOW OOH, RUN sits on top of the mountain...but I sit and admire this tricky, lovely puzzle. No self pleasuring involved - just some LABOR of love draped with BOAS as I DRUNK DIAL a JUG of wine.
Then, then, then, Sid gives me GURU NANAK. I'm no religious scholar but I'm fascinated by all religions. I became interested in Sikhism after reading up on Jainism. The Sikhs believe that God is gender neutral, they also are committed to the equality of women, freedom and justice. I go to a little Indian grocery store to buy my spices and have befriended the owner. His name is Harpreet Singh but everybody calls him "preet." He got me into reading some of the "Life Stories" and NANAKs visit to Land Ruled By Women." He also makes fried chakli in the back of his store so I stay and visit with him and eat and drink his tea.
On a very sad note, we've had some Sikhs murdered all because of mistaken identity. Cretins, believing they were evil muslims, just thought it would be fun to shoot and kill. What a world we live in.
I really liked your puzzle, Sid. thanks for allowing my to dust off the cobwebs and reminisce. My JETE runneth over.

Mr. Cheese 10:57 AM  

Never noticed the RUNs so I was lost.

Whatsername 10:58 AM  

This wasn’t difficult at all aside from figuring out where to leave the empty squares which I found very frustrating. Kept waiting for a rebus to appear before finally getting the revealer and figuring out the rest. Even then, lots of squinting and alphabet running to decipher the trick. And speaking of, if you’re going to have an answer like GURU NANIK it’s kind of a dirty one to cross it with four of the skip-a-space themers. I didn’t like JUG ears either but thought the clue for WHIG was brilliant. Certainly won’t make my list of greatest hits, but props to the constructor for the effort.

Canon Chasuble 11:09 AM  

Figured out the empty spaces in about a minute (though at first was going to write in “NIL” in the 3 blank spots), then took another 45 minutes to actually finish the puzzle. Laughed out loud when I got duvets, but still don’t understand “drunkdial.” Who dials a phone anymore anyway?

Crimson Devil 11:18 AM  

Fished much in Gulf waters, no shrimp in BAYOUs.
Nice Thurs, took forever.

Swagomatic 11:22 AM  

I was frustrated. I had he whole grid filled in and I just could not get the happy tones. I went to bed and this morning, after trying zeros, e's, blank squares, etc., I finally tumbled to the rebus. I'd like to say I enjoyed it, but it felt like homework.

harveywine 11:23 AM  

Me too. The NYTimes app never accepted the empty squares. I even tried zeroes.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

I'm constructing a puzzle that will have blank squares and require mentally placing letters in black squares and outside the grid.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

What's theorized to have preceded the Big Bang? "KA-".

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Oh what to do about Nabisco's Cheese Nip crackers or the Lance knockoff, Nip Chee!!

Nancy 11:43 AM  

Would you believe -- I completely missed that all the EMPTY squares were under the letters RUN? My admiration for this wicked puzzle has now grown even greater and I applaud you, Sid, for a really clever idea and job of construction.

Z 11:49 AM  

@Joaquin - How about rather than “walking on eggshells” you think about it as “treating others as you would like to be treated.” I think Sivakumar does it exactly right, he learned something has offensive connotations and he stopped using it. Really not that hard. That Shortz et al. didn’t make such a simple change (NIP VEIL —> NAP VEAL) speaks volumes about them and why they deserve the criticism they receive.

@Joe Dipinto - Nah. No foot shooting going on. There’s “nothing” in those nine squares resulting in RUNS ON EMPTY squares. This playing around with nothingness works fine in print, in PuzzAzz, and in mid-20th century philosophy. Some apps ruin it but that’s on the apps, not the construction.

Anonymoose 11:51 AM  

I confidently entered "ice" for What polar opposites have in common. Oh well.

Xcentric 11:53 AM  

OK, the revealer is “RUNS” on empty, but the puzzle has “RUN” on each empty. Am I correct in the the “RUNS” are the. three iterations of the sequence “R U N”?
A twist even in the theme. Arghh.
Head slaps:
Guru Nanak was a guru Natick for me. Got Guru from the g, but Nanak all on crosses.
I don’t know about anyone else, but this puzzle was really tough for me. Almost gave up several times, but “would I ever” just “take it?“
Too obsessive to “nip” a puzzle til I get the “sigh”.

Newboy 11:58 AM  

dAD JOKE & HoPE were the kind of misdirection that makes Thursday morning special! Toss in a mime’s most famous quote and today became a true delight.

Like @frantic I spent way too long staring at a trick grid with nine white squares waiting for the music from my iPad speaker, but like the mime it had become......(the rest is silence).

Brilliant cluing for OXO & DRUNK DIAL, etc. etc. and so forth. Loved also a GURU/BABA in the grid for two days in a row. S(empty)ID outdid himself today!

Back now to enjoy a second serving of commentariat...Ms. N just pointed @mathgent’s RUN over the emptiness comment that adds to the delight &totally escaped me.

Joaquin 12:00 PM  

@Z - Yes, I am thinking about how I prefer to be treated. My ethnicity opens me to certain offensive words; however, when those words are used in a non-bigoted context I am not offended, nor should I be.

jae 12:12 PM  

Tough. I bounced around this one until I uncovered the reveal. I then went back and didn’t fill in the holes. Fun and tricky, liked it.

Masked and Anonymous 12:14 PM  

har. Tougher than snot. Luved it.
It ain't every Thursday, that U find yerself battlin a puz with lotsa 'tude -- firin off blanks until U get the RUNs.

No blanks under the revealer's RUN. That was evidently a RUN-off situation.

Didn't know GURUNANAK. Thought DRUNKDIAL had a primo clue. LABORUNIONS clue mighta been just a tad too desperate to measure up to DRUNKDIAL's clue.

staff weeject picks: [empty] & RUN. Neat, that the weejects got to have such a featured role. Also, nice weeject stacks, in the NE & SW.


Thanx for the runfun fun run, Mr. Sivakumar. Tough, but cleansin.

Masked & Anonymo10Us !


Nancy from Chicago 12:22 PM  

I loved the theme once I got it, which took me a while (I could tell that many of the answers didn't fit in the space provided, but didn't see how to address that until I got the revealer).

The toughest spot for me was the top middle, because I had confidently put in "CFO" because of the cross-referenced "numbers" clue, before I had seen that the "numbers" clue resulted in a "DATA" answer. So without knowing the actor, I was staring at "_FEU" for some time before recognizing the problem.

BarbieBarbie 12:40 PM  

“Drunken phone,” good one, @jberg! Har!

I loved this puzzle. I wish Thursdays came more often.

Joe Dipinto 12:47 PM  



Frantic Sloth 12:48 PM  

So I guess I have my answer. Always reassuring to learn I have company in my hour of WTFity.

BTW, I suppose it's too much to hope someone else had eidErS in the DUVETS spot...? Yeah?
In my defense, only had _ _ _E_S and thought I'd miraculously tapped into some deeper recess of Sid Sivakumar's twisted mind. "A-ha!" says I. "You're not too smart for me!"
*sigh* Will I never learn? (A meta question if ever there be one)

And I'm actually a little put out that I didn't think of dADJOKES. 😕

@Z 729am I still remember the video of your "middle child" that you posted several months back. Well, "remember" might be too strong a word. (He both impressed me and lost me right off the bat.) I actually love PuzzAzz (for diagramless - which I just recently learned one can do using the app! You're right about the irritating techlessness. Grr.) but I need to do the puzzle on the NYT website for that ridiculous streak I started a while ago. (New aspiration after reading this dang commentariat, thank you very much.) ELSE, I forget to go back to fill in the grid. I hate the NYTXW app.

@Joaquin 801am Exactly! Ditto that for all the other skip-blank words! And 1053am 👍

@signeyellenwade Love your moniker!

@Giovanni 920am Actually, your solution makes perfect sense to me! In an eidErS sort of way. 😉 Were the additional RUNs accepted??

@Anon 939am 👍

@J-Dip 946am Brilliant analysis...and pun!

@Gill I 1057am As usual, I love your whole post.

Sorry - gotta run. Will have to finish reading later. Apologies for any duplicate yada yada yada...

Frantic Sloth 12:52 PM  

@sidneyellenwade Please forgive my obnoxious misspelling of your name. I plead Stupid iPad auto-corrupt.

Chip Hilton 12:53 PM  

@Nancy - Thanks for making me feel better, knowing I’m not the only one using DUVEeS. Totally killed the center for me.
Some wonderfully clever clues today. Truly Thursday-worthy.

Vicki Winston 1:01 PM  

I use the app and it accepted by blanks.

Vicki Winston 1:02 PM  

I had no problem with leaving blanks on the NYT Puzzle App.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

you should have entered Fs !

10 F s roo the day.

sharon ak 1:12 PM  

@Joaquin 10:53 BRAVO I was wondering what on earth made "nip" offensive. Stlll have no idea.
But your comment succinctly pointed out the stupidity of disallowing perfectly good, common words because in some context they could be offensive.

Teedmn 1:20 PM  

DUVETS - very, very clever. I had "eiders" in there and thought I was the clever one. DUVETS is so much better.

Yes, I wanted to turn the TAdLES up at 22A for a while. I thought about "non" for 50A (isn't that what Marcel Marceau says in "Silent Movie"). I had to look up NED in South Park post-solve, a character I haven't seen for a while, not that I'm a regular SP viewer. I had CUSACK in place so a four letter word ending in U meaning place was briefly sitU.

But until I finally finagled my way into the revealer, my brain was definitely running on EMPTY for most of this solve. What a relief to finally get why my crosswordese wasn't working.

Thanks, Sid, great Thursday workout!

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

Easy for me....but then again, being of the area, GURUNANAK was a gimme. The clue for DRUNKDIAL was a highlight and the only write over was dADJOKES. Delightful puzzle.

chance2travel 1:48 PM  

Did anyone else think that the wacky ? clues for 17A and 30A were the theme?

Once I got to it, I filled in RUNSONEMPTY pretty quick, and then sat there asking myself what to put in the empty squares. I wrote nil (not rebus) for each of the 3 occurences, but that didn't get me the finish screen.

As it is, now my grid looks like RUN is on EMPTYEMPTYEMPTY - yuk.

Overall - I like the concept in theory, though I find it a bit soft. What I don't like is that it seems like a cop-out; like 21A 36A and 50A are just black squares that happened to get clued.

From now on I'm going to put clues to all the black squares in a puzzle and just imagine whacky clues for synonyms of emptiness. So there.

albatross shell 2:10 PM  

A fine and dandy Thursday. Hooray for Nothing:

The puzzle did cause a couple of "Get off my lawn" reactions, but no discredit to the puzzle. First: DUVET. Sometime in the last 20 or thirty years every new novel I read seemed to have that word in it. I mean what happened to comforters? Why import a non-English word to replace a perfectly fine English word? OK for Canadian novels French and other translated European novels and maybe books with coastal elites, but when it began showing up in Midwestern, New England, and Southern novels even in redneck areas, I mean really? But it was a great clue that I got with no problem.
The second BADJOKES: I do not like the dADJOKES terminology at all, but it's always dADJOKES in the NYTCW, so I put it in, only to have to change it. Then did not like BADJOKES because of the clue. Loud with many groans men's it is a good joke, right? Don't answer that. I prefer living in bliss. Also was slow to see TABLES.

The RUNS ON EMPTY reveal was wonderful. More "perfect" would have been if it was a two clue answer that appeared in the puzzle as:


But I try not make unreasonable demands on themes and revealers.

Some PPP I did not know made for a sticky solve, but WOW and OOH anyhoo.

RooMonster 2:17 PM  

@Anon 1:09
Dang! Missed opportunity.
Although I believe the app would've made them blank regardless.
Still, good looking out!

RooMonster RUES Guy

Lewis 2:19 PM  

@anonymoose 11:51 -- I initially wrote CAP, thinking it was a brilliant clue/answer by Sid.

emily 2:22 PM  

So did my APP

aslightrain 2:27 PM  

This was one of my favorite puzzles ever. The clues were clever, but not so much that they made the twist too challenging to discover. The perfect Thursday treat.

Anoa Bob 2:34 PM  

JUG ear (57A) reminds me of some TV scenes of coaches on the side lines wearing ear-loop masks that don't quite go completely behind their ears and as a result pulls them forward into what I call DOOFUS ear, kind of like the pictured Alfred E. Neuman.

(And as much as I admire and respect KC Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, I got to say "Dude, ditch the face shield!". Its vision clouding condensation does illustrate, however, the constant stream of aerosolize water droplets that is broadcast when we vocalize, or even just breath.)

Don't know if they still do it but I think USOFA car makers used to purposefully designed the dashboard gas gage so that you would still have a few miles left when the needle hit EMPTY. So the phrase I've always heard is "RUNNING ON EMPTY", as when the needle reaches the "E" yet you push your luck and keep on going as happens in this Seinfeld episode.

I had done the RUNNING ON EMPTY a few times and got away with it but learned it might be unique to American automobiles when I got a 1968 Volvo 144. I was cruising down the freeway, almost home, and the gas gage needle was hovering just above E. I thought "no problem", I'll make it, but the very instant the needle touched E the engine quit, and this at around 65 mph. I got lucky and was able coast off on an exit right up to the pump at a gas station, but that was the last RUNNING ON EMPTY for me.

Having GURUNANAK as a themer suggest to me that this must have been a bear to construct. Another indicator is the reliance on the letter S to get the grid filled. Even two of the themers, LABOR UNION and RUN ON EMPTY needed a POC letter boost to fill their slot.

Along with the two themers, here are the other entries that needed help: ERODE, TABLE, DUVET, BOA, IOU, SNIPE, OP, SIGH, DATEUP, RUE, TAN, PAN, ADEXEC, BADJOKE, WHO and GYM. I think that qualifies this puzzle as POC assisted if not POC marked.

Anoa Bob 2:58 PM  

Apologies for multiple posts, but I meant to open the first one with a comment regarding the clue for 21 Across "What's theorized to have preceded the Big Bang". I seem to recall the late Carl Sagan of "Cosmos" fame saying that pre-Big Bang there was only a "Singularity", a non-dimensional point that, rather than being "empty", i.e., containing nothing, contained EVERYTHING, all the energy, space and time that ever would be. How cool is that? I miss Sagan.

sixtyni yogini 3:13 PM  

Loved it.... after I figured it out. 🤗❤️🤗

burtonkd 3:14 PM  

@Z - following up on the week of men behaving badly, apparently Rudy Giuliani is featured in a very compromising situation in the upcoming Borat movie.

David 3:20 PM  

I’m afraid much more needs to be done to clean up this puzzle than simply remove “nip”. Just checking a few entries in the Urban Dictionary, poof (homosexual), tans (insult to those of British descent) and Ali (when doubled, an offensive term for people of indigenous descent) all need to go. Then we should get rid of boa, jug and taj (all of which have crude sexual connotations), and duvet and lye (both related to drug use), and probably much more—I gave up on checking at this point.

Overall, a complete rewrite is needed. A pity, because I quite enjoyed the puzzle otherwise.

Unknown 3:22 PM  

That rex completely left out his finish time tells you all you need to know about the extreme difficulty of the puz.

So clever, so challenging! Loved it, now that I'm done. Friday-level difficulty.

Ando 3:49 PM  

To me the sin in KILO was not that it was an abbreviation without that being indicated but that it was a unit of measure while the clue suggested a quantity ("Approximate weight of a liter of water"). KILO is not a weight.

Ando 3:50 PM  

Anyone else have trouble finishing this on the NYTimes website? It didn't register that I was done so I put hyphens in all the blank spots which worked, but I don't know if I could have put just anything in there.

bocamp 3:57 PM  

Belonged to the Retail Clerks "Union" in the '60s-'70s and CUPE from '70s on.

Ran on "empty" and "runs" out of gas twice on the same day; don't ask. 😂

Recently did a "butt dial" or two, but no "drunk dials", at least not since the '60s.

Good fun having the campers go "snipe" hunting. Here snipe, here snipe.

The granddaughters always enjoy my amateurish coin tricks, "poof", gone.

Use "kilo" here (no longer considered an abbrev.), both for weight and distance (sometimes just "k's" or "clicks"). Used it in the '60s for something else.


Peace শান্তি Paix ਸ਼ਾਂਤੀ 🕊

Z 4:06 PM  

@Joaquin - when those words are used in a non-bigoted context I am not offended, Ditto. I don’t get much tossed my way but being a school administrator necessitated developing a thick skin. Being offended is a certain path to being ineffective. nor should I be. That’s where you lose me. To be a wee bit sarcastic, have you tried the “I’m not upset nor should you be” line on a significant other? How’d that go? More seriously, I think it best to just accept that when someone says something bothers them they are being truthful.

@burtonkd - What’s really embarrassing is being bamboozled by Borat. I would think every public figure would have Borat’s picture on the wall with a warning by now.

@Frantic Sloth - Yep on getting lost. Between the topic being completely out of my ken and the depth of what he knows it’s hard to have a conversation at times. Funny how someone raised steeped in Calvinism raised such an individual, ain’t it?

@pmdm - I always wonder if people notice that the anonymouse makes all kinds of claims without ever offering a shred of support. I also wonder if people realize that they frequently just miss the points being discussed. I’m working on recognizing the person and just minimizing rather than wasting my time reading whatever they post. Lots of anonymous posts are worth the time, so I haven’t quite resorted to just skipping all of them.

GILL I. 4:12 PM  

I see JETE and I think of our friend @Leapfinger who no longer posts here. I miss her and I miss our banterings. Maybe she'll peek in. If you do.....happy leaps, old friend.

Tallulah 4:13 PM  

So excited that Rex calls it challenging. I feel like I've joined the Big Kids. Did it pretty fast, for me, with no looking anything up. Loved the quirkiness of the cluing. Pure fun.

Z 4:37 PM  

More men behaving badly online - The US Army edition. If you really need to see the tweets rather than just read about them here you go. Not Toobin bad and funny in a “what the hell were you thinking” sort of way.

manitou 4:54 PM  

I always thought that a kilo (a very common shortening for kilogram, just as gym is a shortening of gymnasium) is EXACTLY the weight of a liter of water — that it's actually the basis of the metric system in terms of length, volume, and mass.

1,000 cubic centimeters = 1 liter = 1 kilogram of water

Apparently, that is the original defining principle but it has been adjusted since.

albatross shell 5:22 PM  

@ me
Somehow "means" became "men's. And I mis-membered the clue for bad BADJOKES. I will pretend groans are the verbal equivalent of eyerolls and let that stand.

I am missing @Joe Dipinto's point about empty v. nothing, and puzzle shooting itself in the foot. First just blank squares work best. New and fun. Much better than 3 clues for empty. Next, an empty square has nothing in it and a square with nothing in it is empty, so a difference eithout a distinction and no gun is fired. The theme works.

If some group is offended, I do believe one should try to avoid certain usages, but come on. Nips for what a dog does to a postman's ankle, slope as a math definition? With Chuck D. and Joaquin on this one. Unless it's all too common or multiples in one puzzle. Enough to be suspect. But I'm willing to change my mind if I see some outrage. Has rex mellowed on this lately it did he just tire of repeating himself? I am not sure.

Mme Laffargue 5:41 PM  

Ando. Yes it is a kilo or kilogram is a unit of weight, 1000 grams = 1kg. Voila.

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

I loved this puzzle, and blitzed through it faster than most Thursdays... This was closer to my Tuesday times, and significantly more fun.

There are c.25 million Sikhs worldwide. It bothers me so much to read comments like "many Westerners wouldn't know" or "it's an obscurity" about GURU NANAK. Wake up people.

David 6:14 PM  

We had to put in dashes in order for it to work.

Me Toobin 6:25 PM  

Wait. I’m not allowed to say “chink in the armor” or “nip it in the bud” ? I hope y’all are joking.

Ti OverNamed 6:40 PM  

It didn't accept the solution in the app until I typed the word EMPTY in every space I left empty.

Ethan Taliesin 7:19 PM  

This thing pissed me off. I got the dumb trick after getting RUNSONEMPTY fairly early on. Finished, but the puzzle didn't accept it until I typed EMPTY in six or seven of the nine EMPTY zones. WTF? So I didn't need to fill in all the empty boxes, just most of them??

Kenny Mitts 7:56 PM  

I find it interesting that there’s so much discussion about the word “nip”, but @frantic can use the word “gyp”, which has no definition other than a racial slur, and no one comments.

Unknown 8:25 PM  

It’s ridiculous to disqualify “nip”: nip it in the bud; I’ll have a nip of of that chocolate bar; your dog took a nip of my ankle; etc.,etc.,etc. Come on, people! Nobody’s ever called me or anyone I know on the use of the word as we know it.

chefwen 8:42 PM  

Two major AHA moments made me a very happy solver.

I have a dear friend who occasionally DRUNK DIALS me, all I have to do is calculate what time it is in Wisconsin and I’ll know in which direction the conversation will go.

Loved this puzzle!

Anonymous 9:26 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 9:28 PM  

Not interesting at all. Frantic is favored around here. She and z can do whatever they want. Nancy Gill and other too.

Anonymous 10:01 PM  

Huh?. Why did you pull my hunting story?

GILL I. 10:02 PM  

Anonymizes 9:28...Did my dog shit on your lawn? If so, mea culpa.

JOHN X 10:45 PM  

Hitler used the metric system. So did Stalin and Pol Pot.

TAB2TAB 11:47 PM  

Very tricky since the downs were impacted by the themers, but a bit annoyed that the EMPTY squares could not be left empty on my version (NYT website).

Unknown 8:34 PM  

What was your time Rex?

Jonathan Tomer 2:24 AM  

Weird, my NYTXW app was perfectly happy with me leaving the empty squares actually blank.

Anonymous 5:02 AM  

We loved it....

Jeff510 4:29 PM  

Guess you aren't a drug dealer @Rex. Any dealer would say that kilo is a full word.

Fang 3:56 PM  

Yo Rex
ain't no shrimp in no bayou . Plenty of Bayous near by to shrimper boat docks - bayous are fresh water swamps, sometimes? salt marshes ? not sure about that. There are brine shrimp in the Great Salt Lake but no body harvests them for human consumption.
Bayous, Louisiana and Shrimp are very much associated though.
Like I have often said: "hey Louisiana Man1 how's bayou?"

Burma Shave 10:52 AM  


WHO'S got the NERVE to SCREAM out LYEs?
If she WANTED to TAKEIT for a whirl
in LIEU of BADJOKES about my SIGHS.


rondo 11:10 AM  

In a way this points to genius! To create the perfect puzzle with no black squares all you have to do is come up with 30 clues for 'nothing'; you don't even have to fill it in.

In reality, I'm with @Joe Dipinto. 'Nothing' does not equal 'EMPTY'. Yes, those squares are EMPTY, but the clues' answers were 'nothing'. So the revealer should have to be RUNSONNOTHING, which doesn't fit nor make a common phrase. So for me the theme falls flat. Shouldn't have to make that transference.

One square write-over at the popular (not popular) dADJOKES.

Laura DERN for a syndi Thanksgiving yeah baby.

This theme makes me want to SCREAM!

spacecraft 12:10 PM  

Man, that GURU was something else! Talk about crosses!

I had two trouble spots, once I had the trick. One was (hand up) the dad joke--a phrase I learned here in xword heaven--for BADJOKES; the other was HoPE for HYPE. Suddenly found myself with too many vowels for 28d! Once I saw BAYOU it was all over.

I have to admit, till coming here I never noticed the word RUN sitting atop each blank row. Now that I see that it all makes much more sense than it did for me before. I was all set to decide between par and bogey, but no, this one earns a birdie. Second the motion for Laura DERN as DOD.

thefogman 2:50 PM  

I loved this one. Can we have more like this one please? PS. The lack of an abbreviation signal for the 48D is an unforced error on the part of the editor NOT the constructor.

Diana, LIW 2:51 PM  


(worse than a rebus for me)

Lady Di


Diana, LIW 2:52 PM  

Oh yeah - @Rondo - I'm with you on the DADJOKES

Diana, LIW

Diana, LIW 2:57 PM  


Enough with the DOD. I name GURUNANAK as Natick of the Year, 2020. (May it rest in peace.)

Diana, Waiting

leftcoaster 4:12 PM  

Very clever, challenging theme. (Have the NYTx-words gotten tougher recently? Seems so.)

Got the three sets of EMPTY [“nothings"] early enough, but missed seeing the RUNs above them despite the literal revealer. Troubles elsewhere....

Tripped over TROJAN, TAJ, and especially GURUNANAK.

SIGHS ensued, but not much relief.

leftcoaster 7:00 PM  

@Anoa Bob 2:58 pm --

Very cool. I miss Sagan, too, but I still don’t know what “Singularity” means. Maybe once in all possiblities, if any?

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