Gemstones resembling topaz / THU 10-8-20 / Benjamin Franklin adage / Much-litigated 2010 law for short / How Lennon wrote opening lines of I am the Walrus

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Constructor: Francesca Goldston and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (high 6s?) (early morning solve)

THEME: TIME IS MONEY (56A: Benjamin Franklin adage ... or a hint to interpreting the answers to the four starred clues) — clues refer to familiar phrases that include "TIME," but in the grid, "TIME" has been replaced by some form of money, resulting in equally familiar phrases:

Theme answers:
  • SPARE CHANGE (from 'spare time') (16A: *When many people solve crosswords)
  • HARD CASH (from 'hard time) (28A: *Rough patch)
  • PASSED THE BUCK (from 'passed the time') (33A: *Occupied oneself)
  • TWO CENTS (from 'two-time') (42A: *Cheat on, say)
Word of the Day: CITRINES (37D: Gemstones resembling topaz) —
1. pale yellow variety of crystalline quartz resembling topaz.
2. light to moderate olive. (
• • •

Appreciated this one much more after the fact than I did during the solve. Never ever grasped the essential concept while I was solving, and since I (stupidly, today) worked methodically from top to bottom, I didn't hit the revealer til very late, and at first I botched *that* answer quite bad as well. I think I was able to use (half-) knowledge of the theme to get TWO CENTS, but at that point I still wasn't fully aware that all of the themers, despite the "time" change, were still genuine, in-the-language phrases—that was the part that only came into view after I was done and reviewing the grid. I should remember on Thursdays to jump straight to the revealer as soon as I have trouble grasping the theme. Might've helped. Of course, might not have helped, as I would've been jumping into total blank space (always a time killer) and in the case of today's puzzle I wouldn't have actually known the revealer. In fact, even with many crosses in place, my first stab at the revealer was hilariously wrong. I had -MEIS- and I wrote in HOMEIISHEART, thinking ... somehow ... that that answer was an expression of "Home is where the heart is" (beat *that* for epic wrongness, folks!). So the cleverness of the theme concept came to me very slowly, and never fully arrived during the solving time, which made the whole thing a bit frustrating. In retrospect, I can admire the concept.

It's weird how I fell into *perfectly* hidden traps (or "traps," I guess) over and over today. The worst was EATS IT UP for 2D: Loves every second of something (LAPS IT UP). This worked for so many of the crosses (all but two, in fact) that I didn't question it. I had tried and failed to understand 1A: Relief from the desert? (ALOE), and so I'd forgotten about it, and having STARE CHANGE in the theme answer ... well, it's a theme answer; I just figured something weird was going on that I didn't understand yet. Brutal, brutal mistake. I also wrote in (the much more appropriate) HAR HAR instead of HAH HAH at 5D: "Everybody's a comedian," resulting in yet another wrong letter in that first themer (STARE CRANGE!), as well as a wrong letter in the first position of the *second* themer. It was as if these mistakes were designed to cause maximum theme miscomprehension, though I think they were just results of bad luck and the malfunctioning of my own dumb brain. I actually wrote in PASSED THE TIME at 33A and couldn't get it to work at one point, stumbling onto the theme without even knowing it. Fun. Never heard of CITRINES (the blog software is red-underlining it right now) and couldn't parse the Beatles clue so ended up with Lennon writing the opening lines of "I Am the Walrus" ON A COD (which seems like something you might actually try to do ON ACID). Had HOOT for RIOT, yet another theme answer-wrecking mistake (52D: Thigh-slapper). Everything that could go wrong did, themewise, and yet my time was still within reasonable Thursday range, so it's possible the puzzle was actually much easier than it seemed to me. As far as the fill goes, it seemed solid enough. I thought the SHOAL was the shore and not the fish swimming off of it (48A: Group of fish), which it is—primary meaning is sandbank or sandbar, particularly one that constitutes a navigation hazard. But it can also mean a large group of something, particularly fish. You gotta go down the definition list, but it's there. 

Favorite clue today was 51A: "It" factor? (HORROR) ("It" is a HORROR novel (by Stephen King) and movie, in case you didn't know). Bye now.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Harryp 6:36 AM  

When I saw 3D, I immediately put in OBAMA ERA and started filling in the crosses. My only holdup was in the NE, where I had ONIon at 26A. Once I figured out HARD CASH, the NE fell. A veteran constructor and a Duebutette, made for an enjoyable puzzle.

Hungry Mother 6:51 AM  

I used to watch Wayne’s World, but didn’t know the classic line. The SW didn’t fall until I saw THOUGH. Nice theme and reveal. Faster than usual even with my pondering in the corner.

Lewis 7:02 AM  

Excuse me while I take a few breaths after just finishing this solve, which was very hard won. Oh, it’s the kind of hard I relish, but man, this one put me through the steps. This was a Puzzle.

Maybe a quarter of the effort was in sussing the theme, but the rest was just in filling in the squares with cluing that made me dig and scrape, made me scour my memory, often made me wrangle out a clue’s angle.

I love this type of theme, and getting it greatly helped the solve, bringing about the only place in the puzzle where I slapped in a bunch of letters. And I love the kind of labor the rest of the puzzle gave me, truly. Some hard body workouts leave me tired for the rest of the day. Others, when they are finished, seem to open the gates and release unbounding energy for hours to come.

Which is what you did for me with your hard mind workout, Jeff and Francesca (and way to go on your debut, Ms. Goldston!). Now that I’ve taken my few breaths, I am flying high, abuzz, ready to charge into my day. Thank you two for making this!

Lewis 7:09 AM  

@frantic -- Did you see the dollar sign in the middle?

Harryp 7:22 AM  

Guess I made a hash of Debutette.

kitshef 7:24 AM  

Odd week so far. Monday and Wednesday were unduly easy. Tuesday and Thursday were unduly hard.

I’ve always wanted to try LSD, but HORROR ON ACID sounds like a really bad idea.

Favorite error today. I had “Relief from the desert” using ‘relief’ in the sense of difference in elevation; hence, DUNE.

GRP YDS ACA NCR SIS TMC KEA PSP ABS BCC EPA NSA DNA. There is an art to three-letter fill. This was particularly artless.

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

There's no dollar sign. An "S"......maybe?

Jon Alexander 7:25 AM  

Arch? Playful and teasing? That was a new one for me....

JHC 7:30 AM  

I confidently threw in HAr HAr off the H, which made both the themers it intersects inscrutable to me. Feh. In my defense, "har har" googles better than "hah hah" by a factor of 6.

ChuckD 7:32 AM  

I liked this one. The theme was elegant and tightly constructed - revealer was spot on. Liked HARD CASH from the themers. There was some short glue here and there but mostly a clean grid. STASIS is a cool word - SMIRCH maybe not so much. The SE corner was interesting and fell pretty quickly.

Should the clue have been “Annual parade honoree”? Feels like the parade VIP is the grand marshal or similar.

Joaquin 7:49 AM  

Yesterday I was in Wheelhouse City; today I am stuck at the crossroads of Natick and Fugawi.

Great puzzle. Ultimately doable but required some work. Had to dig deep to find a confirmation for ARCH. That's a new one on me!

Z 8:05 AM  

@Jon Alexander - Same here. American Heritage doesn’t even have the way I’ve heard it and Merriam-Webster lists it second:
b : marked by a deliberate and often forced playfulness, irony, or impudence
known for her arch comments
… decided to answer them by being teacherly in a sort of arch, Olympian way.
— Gerald Early

Which pretty much sums up my struggle with this puzzle. I commented the other day that Chen and I just are not on the same wavelength and today is further evidence. EERINESS was a WTAF between the -NESSness of the answer and the dropping of the last E making it look wrong in an EERIe sort of way. HOWIE Mandel, okay. America’s Got Talent? Haven’t watched a single nanosecond ever. At least three options on HAH HAH (personal preference is HA Ha ha, or maybe HA Ha...ha).SHOAL as in Muscle SHOALs as in river shallows or a great recording studio, okay. A group of fish? BARONY? Cluing SPOILT as specifically British? The oddly specific BALSAM? To be clear, there’s nothing wrong, bad, or particularly unfair about any of this. Just not on my wavelength at all, making the puzzle especially challenging for me.

The theme took me forever to suss out (see previous paragraph), but it is elegant and well done. Stand alone phrases all, second words synonyms for money, second words can all be changed to TIME to make their own stand alone phrases. That’s good stuff.

Good to see our old friend Musca domestica have its day under the bright lights. I do feel a small (very very very very small) twinge of sympathy for the guy. Live and before an international audience and no matter what you do you are going to look just a little bit silly or foolish. Twitter was awash in ARCH last night.

DeeJay 8:18 AM  

That is so cool!

TTrimble 8:21 AM  

Must admit that I didn't get the theme until I read Rex's explanation.

This played tough for me. And yes, there may have been traps. For example, tried "Igor" for the Young Frankenstein role, and when it became clear that wasn't working, struggled to come up with the right one ("Ilsa"? no... finally INGA -- from memory Teri Garr and Madeline Kahn were in that movie, but I don't recall who INGA is and who played her). I do not recognize ORA. Stupidly got the tense wrong and wrote LAPpedUP. Stupidly was not cluing into "44 years?" even after painfully getting OBAMA ERA (and then came the "duh!" moment after reviewing the puzzle this morning). Did not recognize PSP. I don't think I understand HORROR for 51A. Apparently, my brain ain't working right. At least I finished!

Time posted was slightly worse than my historical average.

---[SB Alert]---

After recent successes, I feel I'm back to Dumbville. Well, to be precise I'm a pangrammatic "Genius" with 5 left, so that might sound like false modesty (not really a trait I'm renowned for). But these letters! They really don't make me feel smart, at all.

TTrimble 8:34 AM  

I think I first learned this meaning of "arch" from The Bonfire of the Vanities. There's a swell party being thrown by New York socialites and one of the British men of letters making after-dinner speeches had adopted a tone described as "very arch".

(Say what you will about Tom Wolfe -- and I'd have things to say not particularly laudatory -- but he does have an impressive command of English, and I think he's an able craftsman. TBotV may be his best novel. Perhaps Radical Chic could be described as "arch".)

ow a paper cut 8:37 AM  

Had difficulty figuring out the theme until I got to 56 across. Tough going for me but fun.

Ann Howell 8:40 AM  

A perfect Thursday - challenging, but doable with a clever theme. The NE corner was the toughest for me, mostly because the only pigs from children's literature that I could think of were Wilbur and Peppa. Nothing not to like with this one!

Lewis 8:55 AM  

So, to make this theme, the constructors had to find common phrases that do two things:
1. End with a money word.
2. Work as a common phrase when you replace that money word with TIME.

Now that is one tight theme and an impressive accomplishment.

mathgent 9:03 AM  

Grid art? Something that sorta looks like an S which sorta looks like a dollar sign. And it comes with a heavy price, creating four Terrible Threes, two in the middle top and two in the middle bottom. That makes a total of 22, a total which Jeff Chen himself considers unacceptable.

Too bad, because there’s a lot to like here. The four themers make good sense in both forms, in the clue and with “time” substituted. And the revealer is very neat.

Nice clue for OBAMAERA. I haven’t seen him referred to as 44 before. I’ve only seen the Bushes referred to by number.

I suppose WANING moons become new moons. Great clue or trying too hard?

Ellen C 9:05 AM  

Felt like a Saturday puzzle ... and not on a good way.

RooMonster 9:06 AM  

Hey All !
Thanks to those explaining ARCH. Last letter in was that A, as you probably know by now, I don't watch News (too depressing, too political) so hadn't a clue about ACA. Is it American Cares Act? I've at least heard of that!

Got a big smile at "We're not WORTHY!". Wayne's World, great fodder for an adolescent brain! (Who says part of you ever had to grow up?)

Had Santa for STPAT. I like my answer better. πŸ˜‹

A pretty neat puz. Got TWO CENTS first, scratching the head trying to figure out how that fit the clue. Figured out Revealer next (as the S of puz was easier for me than the N), and saw TWO CENTS could change to TWO TIME, said, "Huh, cool! TIME really IS MONEY." Still took time (har) to figure out the other themers. That's the mark of a good puz. Get the Revealer, but still have to figure out the themers, they're not automatic once you get the trick.

That small middle section was a bear! ACA and NCR, with that AECH clue. Dang. Thought I was gonna get my one-letter DNF, but got down to that A, put it in, and... Happy Music! WooHoo!

HAHaha-HAHHAH, noICE-ONICE, Santa(better! 😊)-STPAT.

Misspoke on YesterBlog about two days in a row QB. It was the 5th and 7th. In case anyone cares.

Thanks to @Lewis for pointing out the $ sign in the center. Meta.

No F's (HORROR!)

burtonkd 9:12 AM  

Perfect, sweet spot of a revealer. Get it too soon, and the puzzle is too easy; get it after the puzzle is over (and possibly have to come here) is too late; about 80% of the way through the solve and it helps you get the final themer? Mwah from my PURSED YAP.

DavidL 9:14 AM  

Echoing @Lewis, the construction of this puzzle is amazing. I was having trouble getting any momentum, so drifted down to the bottom and filled in the revealer relatively early, which helped me appreciate the theme while solving.

Some rough spots -- ON ACID crossing CITRINE and BALSAM, NCR crossing ARCH.

New one for me: SMIRCH without the "be"

Frantic Sloth 9:26 AM  

A tale of two puzzles for me. First half was slow and tooth-yanking, second flew by. Getting to and solving the revealer probably had everything to do with that.
Because "WOE do the clues and answers to the themers have to do with each other??" thought I.
And then...ohhhh! Duh.

THOUGH, don't they actually translate as MONEY IS TIME? Is it me? Not really a nit, but I do wonder.

Anyway, I didn't hate it. It just wasn't "Thursdee WORTHY" in my view. Maybe difficulty-wise, but the theme...not so much. Would feel more at home on a Wednesdee to me. Not the constructors' fault.

And not for nothing, but what is going on with these day late/dollar short day placements this week??

The fill didn't send me. I did like ONACID, but not ONICE.

Then again HORROR ONACID is yet another workable moniker for you know who.


pabloinnh 9:30 AM  

I made all the same mistakes that OFL did, which means I don't know what. If I start being super critical and disliking most puzzles, maybe I'll stop reading his analyses, as something seems to be having an effect.

The revealer was in exactly the right place and, guess what. revealed everything, so I was happy to stumble across it when I did, because otherwise nothing was making sense, or cents.

Grand slam, FG and JC. Thursdazo!!

Nancy 9:34 AM  

Oh, I feel so smart. I love it when a puzzle makes me feel that way. I picked up the theme, admittedly a bit slowly, at the first theme answer, SPARE CHANGE -- before going anywhere else. I then tried to guess the revealer, and my first thought was TIME FOR A CHANGE. But when I spotted Ben Franklin out of the corner of my eye, I knew the revealer would be TIME IS MONEY. I went straight down to the SE to check it out, before working on any of the other themers, but I really didn't have to because I knew.

What's so incredibly clever about this is that all the new phrases are real phrases in their own right. I can only imagine the sense of euphoria that the constructors felt in coming up with this theme and seeing how well they could make it work.

Of course, once I had figured out the theme, the puzzle became extremely easy. But that's OK. It had already succeeded in making me feel very smart. Does any puzzle ever have a higher calling than that? :)

Pamela 9:45 AM  

Talk about traps- I fell into every one, and invented a few on my own. Ouch! Last night when I started, the North wasn’t so bad. SPARECHANGE went in easily. I didn’t get it, but figured I would eventually. But PASSEDTHEtime started me on my road to utter incomprehension for the bottom half, so I decided to sleep on it.

This morning was no better. In the south, all I had was UGH, THY, and SEED. 38D, Mired in, became enmeshed, then embedded. I knew TSP was the probable answer for 65A, but it didn’t fit with the D from 38D. Finally, in complete frustration, I peeked.🀭

So DNF. Me with a very red face. Diabolical. It helped a little to know that Rex struggled, if you can even call it that since his time was still under 7 minutes.

TJS 9:46 AM  

BCC,DNA,NCR,GRP,NSA,EPA,TDS,ACA,TSPS. What a great Thursday !! Aloe, smirch,waning, "I would like that drink on ice, bartender". Yes !! Can't wait to see how @Lewis salvages this piece of dreck.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

Are you kidding? I’m still stuck on 1 across; how is aloe relief from the desert?

Frantic Sloth 9:54 AM  

@Lewis 709am Haha! Not until you pointed it out, but there it is! Baby steps...

@Joaquin 749am "crossroads of Natick and Fugawi" needs to be added to the official FAQ right stinkin' now! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

🀚 for ARCH taking a think.5 - kinda old-timey. Dare I say ARCHaic?

@Z 805am Likewise for EERINESS and its weirdiness. This wavelength took me on a Nantucket sleigh ride until I managed to skim a harpoon off of it in the second half. Lotta oof.
The Fly. Well, Wonder Woman has her tiara...

Anonymoose 9:59 AM  

ON ACID describes those who are seeing a grid dollar sign.

William of Ockham 10:02 AM  

Very very easy.

Cute but not so cute, very easy trick to figure out.

Big Nit:
1A especially because it is a 1A is a really sh*tty clue.
I despise 1A and/or the NW being the most difficult/tangential/just plain wrong part of any puzzle.

R Duke 10:03 AM  

ACA is the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare

TTrimble 10:04 AM  

@Anonymous 9:49 AM
I think because ALOE (often) grows in the desert, and its gel affords relief.

@TTrimble 8:21 AM
Try reading Rex's post all the way through. "It" is a novel by Stephen King.

Embarrassing admission: I half-wondered whether the Ben Franklin adage was going to be "An apple a daY" (not knowing the origin of that phrase). It was before I had much entered, obviously.

Lewis 10:06 AM  

@anon 9:45 -- Aloe might offer relief after you've been out on the desert.
@anonymoose -- Jeff Chen's notes seem to indicate the the dollar sign is there intentionally.

Hack mechanic 10:20 AM  

And totally lost on me even though I had the reveal early on!

Z 10:32 AM  

@Frantic Sloth - When many people solve crosswords clues SPARE [TIME] but what we enter is SPARE CHANGE, so [TIME] IS MONEY in the grid.

@mathgent - Great clue or trying too hard? I put it right on the tipping point. If I’m liking the grid it’s a great clue, but if I haven’t had my coffee or a RRN is wandering about my reaction is going to be trying too hard.

As for the dollar sign - definitely trying to hard.

@TTrimble - Wolfe is an author I missed and There's a swell party being thrown by New York socialites and one of the British men of letters making after-dinner speeches had adopted a tone described as "very arch", reassures me that I made the right choice. A scene with a “swell party” of “New York socialites” and “after-dinner speeches” sounds like a fair description of Hell to me. If I wanted a HORROR story I’d read It.

Whatsername 10:38 AM  

Well this was one of the most satisfying Thursdays in memory. Cleverness times TWO on the theme and if you get what you pay for, it certainly was WORTHY of the MONEY. It’s one of those puzzles where just getting one little breakthrough was the difference between the joy of victory and the humiliation of defeat. I love it when that happens. Many thanks to Francesca and Jeff. A bit of a workout but great fun!

I was totally stumped by the clue for OBAMA ERA but it was priceless, especially with ACA nearby. Politics aside, it makes me nostalgic for what now seems like a time of innocence compared to the HORROR show we are KNEE-DEEP in today. Better days, one of these days.

egsforbreakfast 10:41 AM  

First of all, congrats to Francesca Goldston and Jeff Chen. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the type of theme where the constructor notices an everyday phrase that, come to think of ir, contains a slight ambiguity or potential mis-applicability. Said constructor then ponders the phrase, sometimes for years, experimenting with ways to exploit something seen, but unnoticed by millions when they use said phrase. This approach makes for glorious crosswords, and today’s is a spot-on example. Wonderful work!!!

I was at first inclined to call a minor infraction on TWOTIME vs. TWOCENTS for the change from singular to plural, but then saw that it was perfectly in keeping with the “rules” of the revealer.

By the way, no more complaining about CITRINES, since we had the singular version only 18 days ago in Sam Trabucco’s puzzle on Sunday,

jberg 10:44 AM  

Me too for eAtS IT UP/stARE CHANGE. Only with the revealer did I see that LAPS would work, and ALOE was more of a relief than AeOE.

Only after I’d finished did I notice the big $ in the middle, flanked by two lazy Ts. Nice touch!

But is SMIRCH really a word? I think it needs it’s BEEN-

SBpianist 10:56 AM  

I took every single wrong turn that Rex took today, except for a lucky guess at HAH HAH. I am taking a perverse pleasure in making the same mistakes as Our Fearless Leader, and feeling less like a doofus than usual.

Z 11:07 AM  

@jberg - American Heritage’s definitions of SMIRCH and beSMIRCH are very close: To stain; sully and To soil, stain, or dirty with or as if with a smearing agent. Both have examples as in actual dirt and as in hurting someone’s reputation. I feel as though @LMS has discussed speakers’ preference for that unnecessary additional syllable.

bocamp 11:16 AM  

@Francesca & @Jeff - For my "two cents", this puzzle was "worth a mint"; just what a Thursday should be: a bit tricky and a bit more difficult. This fit the "bill" on both accounts. Thanks a "million"! 😊

Took me to Friday+ time, but every extra minute was well "worth" the fight!

Couldn't get a hold in the NW; was thinking "Charlotte's Web" for the "gallant pig", but was off the mark in more ways than one: wrong book/movie, wrong pig: "Babe" the Gallent Pig

Had 2D "eats" rather than "laps".

Didn't know the 5A "judging partner", so had to move down to Gold Beach, Oregon to see that whatever "puckered was going to be, it most likely ended with a "d". This gave me the well known (to Canadians and crossword-ese aficionados) "deke", and I was off to find the "pot of gold" at the end of the end of the rainbow. BTW, my son was/is a fine ice-hockey player and a great "deker". The granddaughters play "ringette" and are also "dekers" of note. :)

@Lewis - thx for the πŸ’²heads-up; it works for me, even if it's only a lonely "S". I appreciate how you suss out the seemingly little things. They all add up to construction feats I would probably never notice or appreciate.

@kitshef 7:24 AM wrote:

"I’ve always wanted to try LSD, but HORROR ON ACID sounds like a really bad idea."

All I can say is: AMEN to that! I know from personal experience. :(

**** SB ALERT ****

My final post last evening:

Congrats to @jae 🐝 and, of course the previously mentioned @TTrimble 🐝, @RooMonster 🐝, @Barbara S.🐝



Would that have been the "t" word? If so, it was my "tsk tsk", too! LOL

Peace Paz Salam Pace εΉ³ε’Œ Paix πŸ•Š

Peace SΓ­ochΓ‘in maluhia Frieden πŸ•Š

GILL I. 11:27 AM  

Have you ever sneezed with your mouth full? It's not really pleasant and you look rather idiotic. Then you blow your nose, clear the spume from your chin, and then all is well in Absurdistan. I finished and felt like Bandrika in The Lady Vanishes.
Oof awards abound and I earned every one of them. Thursday is my get up and dust the cobwebs off, clear the sinuses and get into Lewis Carroll's head. Never easy to do, but someone has to....
Where to start? Why not with ALOE HOWIE SIS? Sure...those are fun. If I were a lawyer, I'd name my company after them. Oh, wait...we can't forget ORA...HAHAHAHAHAHA. Am I feeling like my hero Don QUIXOTE yet and his mighty horse Rocinante? No, I'm the March hare with the mighty STEED...and so it went. Falling, falling, falling down all the rabbit holes.
Get up, dust your shabby pajamas off, make coffee, tell the pups they have to wait for their walk, and tackle this pesky thing...You can do it. YES.....I had to wait for my lightning rod moment, straighten out my bifocals and remember that our Founding Father said TIME IS MONEY..... Ah...clever. So that's why SPARE CHANGE made no sense. I needed the penny to drop. It did and I let out a woopeddedoo....
I award it puzzle of the year. Even though I disliked all the three little letter gnats, it deserves all the cheers I can muster. Just look at how clever this is. Tedious and maddening at times, but it's like one of the better meals you've ever had. You look at the escargot your waiter just presented and you say to yourself "NO WAY ON GODS GREEN EARTH ARE YOU EVER GONNA GET ME TO EAT A SLIMY SNAIL". Then you try eat under threat of death...and it's sublime. is.
Well done, Francesca and Jeff. I've left you a huge tip......and I'll have the crepes for dessert - sans ALOE.

Frantic Sloth 11:29 AM  

@TTrimble You know, they say* talking to yourself is an indicator of genius. πŸ˜‰

*The Voices

***Dead Horse Abuse Alert***

@Z 1032am Now, see...taking your example, I read it thusly: the answer to the clue is SPARE[TIME], but since CHANGE is actually in the (grid) answer, it is (substituting for/masquerading as) [TIME], giving me MONEY IS B-Fran spins in his grave.
I must be ON A CoD.

Joe Dipinto 11:36 AM  

Excellent theme today, the tightest the puzzle has had in a while.

In this 12d, 35d experiences 51a.

Carola 11:38 AM  

I'll just say, count me in on all of the accolades for this theme. Terrific. And thank you to those who pointed out the extra wit of the grid's dollar sign and accompanying Ts. I thought this puzzle was HARD. Getting no traction up top, I went to my default Plan B, which is to start at the bottom of the Downs column and work my way up. That got me the reveal before I had any of the theme answers, and, honestly, without it, I'm not sure I'd have finished. Anyway, after that, each theme TIME CHANGE was a treat.

Re: HORROR. I wasn't aware of the Stephen King novel; I was thinking in terms of 1950s HORROR movies like It Came from Outer Space, or the canonical HORROR movie line "It's alive!"

Help from previous puzzles: CITRINES, NCR. No idea: HOWIE, PSP, ORA, INGA. Do-over: PASS THE Bill.

Pete 11:47 AM  

I try to avoid politics here, but today I can't. I can't watch the debates because the rage it inspires within me is too much to bear. Part of my avoidance yesterday was solving the puzzle, and I hated the puzzle because I didn't need nonsense answers to questions - I was getting that from the debates, thank you very much. However, reading recaps today, I am much inspired and wish I had watched. See, I've always worried about the coming robot apocalypse. However, after last evening, I'm sure its further away than I feared. Humans will likely never be able to program the robots to account for any and all possibilities, and to have them behave humanly in all situations. Pence is truly state of the art, but even his model doesn't have the coding to swat away a fly. I can sleep better tonight.

Pamela 11:51 AM  

After reading all of you, I’m doubly sorry that I gave up. I would have loved this puzzle if I’d stuck it through- wonderfully clever and fun. But not for me. Sigh.

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

I posted last night, congratulating everyone including moi for QB, but my post didn’t make it. I included spoilers from the day before, must have been too much for the mods. Sorry!

Today, -2.

bocamp 12:30 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

Belated congrats @Pamela 🐝

-5 for me, to this point 🀞

Peace SΓ­ochΓ‘in maluhia Frieden πŸ•Š

Rorschach 12:46 PM  

I submit that the "dollar sign" is actually TWO CENT signs, one above the other.

Crimson Devil 12:50 PM  

As has been suggested, Big black fly on white-headed mask will be excellent Halloween costume.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

at least not another #$%#$%^^&* rebi puzzle.

Charles Emerson Winchester III 1:19 PM  

ACA = Affordable Care Act (aka Obama Care). The CARES Act is the recent economic stimulus package passed in response to the ongoing pandemic.

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

I can sleep better tonight.

I guess you don't live in Michigan?

Teedmn 1:23 PM  

What @Lewis 8:55 said! What a great theme find with the dual in-the-language phrases! Great job, Francesca and Jeff, and congratulations on your NYT debut, Ms. Goldston!

I was shocked when Rex said he had never seen CITRINES before because it was just in the, xwordinfo shows it was last in a grid in 1988. It must have been in a Saturday Stumper because I remember people complaining they hadn't seen it before. Unless I'm dreaming? Whether in dreams or other crosswords, it seemed familiar.

With only W in at 40A, I got the idea right away except I put in WAxING and had to get the rest of 36D crosses before UNIT COST was obvious. Otherwise, Uxorious? I don't think so.

I think this puzzle was a hoot, I mean RIOT, and the reveal was lovely.

Chip Hilton 1:24 PM  

Marvelous! A great Thursday theme which I figured out while doing the bottom half first. The Franklin quote came quickly and the TIME substitute fell at TWOCENTS. I struggled mightily with some of the top answers, especially BCC and INGA, which I simply assumed was Igor. I feel bad about that because Terri Garr’s delivery of, “The feeling is moochal,” is one of my favorite moments of that splendid film.
Thanks, Francesca and Jeff. Great fun.

TTrimble 1:42 PM  

It looks like a reply to @Z didn't pass muster, but not quite sure what was wrong.

Re the thing about Tom Wolfe, would it be possible to contact you off this blog? Not a long message, but I suspect there was a misunderstanding, and I don't want to bother the mods unnecessarily.

Joe Dipinto 1:48 PM  

@Teedmn – CITRINE singular was just in the puzzle on September 20th.

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

There's good reason to differentiate smirch and besmirch. It's subtle, and will get no traction here. (I'm confident after MexGirl's and my futile efforts yesterday). But, to smirch is to stain. To besmirch is to turn something into a stain. It is in fact an ontological difference. To those who will doubtless claim that is a distinction without a difference I say:
be + [quality]
and the corresponding meaning is:
to turn into + [quality].

Let's illustrate all this theory with a few simple examples:

to befriend somebody => to turn somebody into a friend.
to beget something => to make something supplied, produced.
to besot somebody (besotted) => to turn somebody into a sot (a dummy).
to bewitch somebody => to make somebody possessed by a spell.
to bedazzle somebody => to make him confused (see also bewilder)
These ones are slightly more difficult:

to behold: the original meaning of to hold (Old Engliag healdan, German halten) is to keep. But to keep by actually keeping an eye on, to watch over. So to behold is to make something watched.
to bedevil someone => to make someone feel like in Hell.
to believe something => to make something dear (loved). See also German glauben (ge + lieben) as well as Dutch geloven.
to belong to someone => to make something go along with somebody.
As usual there are a few exceptions or look-alikes that don't fit into the template

to behead => sometimes the "be" is categorised as privative but you can also interpret it as "turn into a head (and not much else)". The question being what do you sever: the head or the body ?
between. It is not a verb. The "be" is akin to "by" and the "tween" part is akin to "two".
But their existence is not sufficient to belie the general theory outlined above.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  


Dr. Franklin is almost certainly not spinning in his grave. He'd have liked this puzzle. Hell, he wrote his own epitaph when he was 22. He didn't take himself too seriously.
His grave however is serious business. And it's in poor shape. The blue marble ledger tablet under which he lay is pretty badly cracked. There's a fund to raise money to fix it. I can't in good conscience contribute because some of the muckety-mucks on the board insist that the tradition of people throwing pennies on the grave has somehow contributed to a crack in a piece of stone weighing more than half a ton. Yes, a US penny. A single sad copper damaging blue marble. Yikes. THAT asinine assertion might have the good doctor turning over down there. But this puz? Not so much.

Hurrah for the Red and the Blue ( Thanks Ben)

RooMonster 2:17 PM  


Stuck on (I believe) one word. It's maddening. If Sam were close by, I'd slap him.

RooMonster No Wonder I'm Losing My Hair Guy

Masked and Anonymous 2:18 PM  

Time warper puz! Luved it.

Sooo … $ in the middle for moneybucks, and Double big prone T's on the sides for time. Primo gridart bonus.

On the HAH HAHs: M&A is almost ashamed to admit that he didn't think of HARHAR first … Started out with HAHAHA.

staff weeject pick: PSP. Debut weeject. Admirable show of desperation. PlayStationPortable, btw. Yeah … had to look it up. Nice weeject stacks in the NE & SW, btw.

Great OBAMAERA clue. Good TRUMPERA clue: {Felt like 45 years on steroids??}. And now we have Trump for real on steroids … yeeech.

Had trouble with some of them other sneaky ?-mark clues, in this challengin solvequest. Thought {Org.? What org.?} and {"It" factor?} were kinda mysterious. But … thanx for the helpful "It" reminder, @RP.

Sparkly fillins abounded, but extra likes for: LAPSITUP. OBAMAERA. KNEEDEEP. SMIRCH. HOOPLA. IMRICH.

Thanx a lot for gangin up on us, Chenmeister & Francesca darlin. And congratz on the primo debut to Ms. Goldston. Timely, money puz.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

p.s. Everyone stay safe and wear yer masks when attendin any debates or visitin the WhiteHouse.


RooMonster 2:23 PM  

Har, but of course I just found the last word. Apparently, telling people you're one word away does wonders! QB! That's three in four days. I need to play the Lotto!

(Apologies to all non SBers for my posts!) 😎

bocamp 2:24 PM  

"Swabbed" many a deck on my ship. Fortunately, the Gunnery Office needed someone who had typing skills, and that was yours truly. The most useful class I ever took in school (aside from the basic 3 r's) was typing in grade 10. The swabbing skills did come in handy later, though. :)

"The buck stops here" - Harry S. Truman

Bach - Kantaten / Cantatas / Cantates


**** SB ALERT ****

-2 🀞

Peace SΓ­ochΓ‘in maluhia Frieden πŸ•Š

jae 2:29 PM  

Tough. I had many of the same problems as @Rex and the commentariat, and it took a long time to fix them. This was very clever and challenging , liked it a bunch!

****SB Alert Partial Spoiler for yesterday’s SB*****

@bocamp - no, I got the tsk tsk word somewhere in the middle of solve. The nonsense word I thought @Roo might have guessed was 5 letters **X**.

Aelurus 2:36 PM  

Hand up for clever, rewarding theme. Agree with @ Lewis 8:55am: It's very impressive, and thanks for pointing out what does look like a dollar sign to me.

@Z 8:05 am - Had no idea about your meaning till I Googled Musca domestica and laughed.

I never never never remember the big name in ATMs (32A). Never. I always think it'll appear hardly ever and am always proved wrong. So this morning I said UGH and came up with a mnemonic - an ATM is Not Cash Register. I'll see if I remember that when it comes around again...

Smith 2:49 PM  

@TTrimble 8:21


Hand up for pangrammatic genius (great expression) and feeling less than genius-like.

Aelurus 2:49 PM  

*****SB ALERT*****
@jae 2:29 pm - I didn't get five words from yesterday's SB and was hopeful into the evening in vain for QB. Checked the list today and knew four but not the one you alluded to. Good word to know.

Barbara S. 2:53 PM  

****SB ALERT***
@Roo 2:23 p.m. Congrats!
Before I saw your post, I'd already written this:
"I had 2 words to go this aft, and I said to my husband, 'That's it. I've had it with the SB today. No more!' And I looked down and immediately got the last two! A similar thing happened the other day when I posted a message here, whining that I was after one final word. In both cases, as soon as I'd kvetched loudly to others, I solved it. This might work for you!"

It seems @Roo had the same experience -- hmm, maybe there's something to it.

QB achievable today despite the odd consortium of letters. Open house at the palace. I'm expecting @Roo to arrive in his horse-drawn carriage any minute. Good luck to all.

Z 3:02 PM  

@TTrimble - Any time. My email is in my profile.

@Anon 1:49 - Thanks. Etymology Online has more on the be- prefix. I was trying to suss out what difference there might be. Your explanation is excellent.

Nearly 30 years ago we had the “Michigan Militia” playing at this sort of stupidity so I can’t say I was all that surprised. I listened to that news conference half expecting to hear a name I recognized.

Anonymous 3:17 PM  


of all people, you? 'playing'???? they blew up test IEDs for Christ's sake.
"Croft brought what he called a “chemistry set," which included materials to create an IED, according to authorities. He created an IED by removing the cap from a firework, adding additional black powder and wrapping it in pennies and electrical tape as shrapnel, court records show.

The group set the device in a clearing surrounded by human silhouette targets, and Croft detonated it to test its effectiveness, officials said."

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

Am I the only person who was reduced to tears, laughing at ON A COD?

bocamp 3:44 PM  

@Anonymous 1:49 PM - wrt: "smirch" vs "besmirch"

Thx for the explanation. I'd meant to look it up last night, but was remiss. I didn't really understand the difference. At least now I've got an idea. :)

Does the following make sense:?

I'll use the poor beleaguer "nameless" politician as an example:

Said "pol" may bear the stain of one or more "smirches" from the past, but their character is "besmirched" when an antagonist resorts to slanderous smear tactics.

"The Word Detective" has some interesting and informative things to say on the subject, ending with the following quote:

"So, since we already had “smirch” as a verb meaning essentially the same thing as “besmirch,” where did the “be” come from? “Be” is a very common prefix in English, meaning a variety of different things in different contexts. In the case of “besmirch,” it carries the meaning of “around or all over,” so to “besmirch” someone is not merely to “smirch” them, but to give them a full-body “smirching.”

Here's to dissolving whatever "smirches" we may be burdened with and resolve not to "besmirch" others. πŸ•Š

**** SB ALERT ****

Congrats @RooMonster; yur on a roll! 🐝 and to @Barbara S. 🐝 who seems always to be "on a roll" :)

Yours truly now at -1 πŸ™

****SB Alert Partial Spoiler for yesterday’s SB****

@jae - Roger that; I'll have to check to see what that **X** word was. LOL

BTW, I like the wording for the "partial spoiler" alert. That, and the fact that these are cryptic "spoilers" (a day or more old), may be the difference as to whether or not they get published.

Peace SΓ­ochΓ‘in maluhia Frieden πŸ•Š

bocamp 4:13 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****


Peace SΓ­ochΓ‘in maluhia Frieden πŸ•Š

Grouch 4:27 PM  

Is anybody else sick of the SB BS that is cluttering up this CROSSWORD PUZZLE blog? I like the SB but all these self-absorbed posts are really getting old.

bertoray 5:11 PM  

Nice catch. ( close enough to USD sign )

bertoray 5:15 PM  

TIME FOR A CHANGE resonates.

Unknown 5:22 PM  

So again I ask, since rex must keep track of his "average" time for each day of the week, it would shock me if he didn't, how does he truly keep a fair average of his times when on the challenging puzzles he just shrugs and says "6 something?" How does he adjust his average? Either he doesn't bother, sort of like the golfer who keeps track of his "par," but conveniently throws out the rounds that "really don't capture" his true talent, or he does in fact secretly record each time to the nanosecond, but ego prevents him from posting his true time on his blog because he is afraid of what we'll think?
In other news, never heard of SMIRCH before, and made me wonder how it differed from BESMIRCH, but intuitively it felt right. Sussed out the theme & loved it! Solid, solid puzzle, and I'm not shy to say I was way slower than rex.
OBAMAERA was priceless! How I miss him.

Dyslexic Solver 5:26 PM  

Raised in Philly?

Taffy-Kun 6:34 PM  

I don’t SB so a real clutter for me. Maybe belongs in a separate blog?

GILL I. 6:41 PM  

Where have all the blogger gone...
Long time passing...
Where have all the SB's gone..
Taken over everyone...
When will ever learn
Long time ago.

TTrimble 7:33 PM  

That's what the

***SB Alert***

is there for: to give people heads-up that here comes SB talk that many find boring/self-absorbed, and to skip right over it in that case. Part of the problem is not wanting to spoil it for others by speaking explicitly about solutions until a few days later, and so a lot of the talk comes down to just cheering each other on, and yes, taking a bow (which may goad the others). Because experience shows that these puzzles are challenging.

There should also be a

***Politics Alert***

because a lot of discussions devolve into arguing about politics, which can also be boring to others. (A lot of such comments are pretty low-level after all, as well as fruitless.) At least the SB stuff has an inherently positive vibe to it.

Graham 7:46 PM  

Made the same mistakes as Rex. The only difference is that it took my over an hour to finish, not six minutes πŸ˜…

JC66 7:51 PM  



Well said.

jae 8:24 PM  

******SB Alert *****

Two in a row for me too. Congrats to all who got there.

GILL I. 8:28 PM  

..........Song alert.......

There's a place for us
Somewhere a place for us
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us somewhere.
Hold my hand and we're halfway there
Hold my hand and I'll take you there


Anonymous 8:41 PM  

Makes perfect sense to me.
And I like the cut of your jib. Look forward to reading you tomorrow.

Anon 1:49 , 2:13

albatross shell 8:45 PM  

Nobody objected to YDS today but many objected to ACC yesterday. I think both work well enough but today's is a slightly bigger stretch. The NCAA does have Universities and Colleges in groups called conferences. The NFL has teams that have stadiums that have fields that are measured in YarDS. Both have official properly defined Divisions. Both clues work with a common definition of "division".

Pamela 8:48 PM  

@TTrimble- Ditto!

In my case, instead of being annoyed, I chose to join in. It’s been a few months now, and I’m happily hooked. Speaking of which-

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

Congrats to @Barbara S and @bocamp for QB today.

And, ahem, Moi.🐝

@jae- That ‘X’ word was not my last yesterday, but near the end. I’m getting used to being surprised by the oddity of some of what’s on the accepted list. Instead of WTF, I just go Hmmph.

Z 9:28 PM  

Regarding the Spelling Bee Posts - I can’t think of an activity that sounds less entertaining to me than the Spelling Bee. And yet I have somehow managed to never read a single post about people’s SB endeavors. I find complaints about the SB posts far more annoying because they don’t come with a ***GET OFF OF MY LAWN*** alert so I waste precious nanoseconds on the plaints. Apparently Rex and the mods don’t care, so find something important to whine about, please. Say, the satanic cluing of Rye, NY.

@Anon3:17 - In this case we have a bunch of rank amateurs playing at patriotic freedom fighters. Of course, they’re no such thing, thus playing themselves into possible life sentences.

bocamp 9:35 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@Pamela 🐝 πŸ‘

Peace SΓ­ochΓ‘in maluhia Frieden πŸ•Š

CS 9:50 PM  

Oy - I couldn't finish this morning and came back after dinner when a fresh eye helped things clicked. this was a clever enough idea ruined by a lot of annoying fill. I don't watch America's Got Talent, don't know who Rita Ora is, don't know Citrine (although happy to have learned about it, so there's that), and then lots of multi-word nonsense (ADDSIN, ONICE, ONACID, IMRICH, LAPSITUP ...).

Usually Thursdays are my faves but not this time.

-- CS

Blackhat 9:52 PM  

4 names, ZERO foreign words!

TTrimble 10:13 PM  

@Gill I.
Thanks; that's just super-sweet! Stephen Sondheim might be a bit elevated as a spokesman for us poor beleaguered SB-ers, but we'll take it! :-)

Ladies and Gentlemen, Ms. Barbra Streisand!

bocamp 11:20 PM  

Thx to those who support/tolerate the SBers. We identify the SB parts of our posts, and generally tag them on at the end. :)

**** SB ALERT ****

@jae 🐝 πŸ‘

The **x** word I actually knew (although not in that form); I was surprised that the "t" word was accepted, but the QB was a welcome sight. :)

Peace SΓ­ochΓ‘in maluhia Frieden πŸ•Š

jae 12:09 AM  

****SB Alert*****

@bocamp - I agree about the T word, I tried it on a hunch. I was happy like @Roo to get QB today for the second day in a row, probably because none of the words were on my list. Nice to join the august group once again.

rjkennedy98 8:11 AM  

Solved a day late. Really impressive puzzle. Almost no ick factor anywhere.

The theme was great with great recognizable phrases.

Loved the clues for OBAMA ERA (44 years?), ALOE (Relief from the Desert?, and HORROR ("It" factor?).

Also enjoyed ON ACID (How Lennon wrote the opening lines of "I Am the Walrus"?), We're not WORTHY from Wayne's World, and SHOUT OUT (public thanks).

Overall, a very impressive puzzle by the constructors.

Sam 8:50 AM  

In addition to entering EATSITUP and HARHAR as Rex did, I put IGOR at 8D resulting in my first themer being STARECRANOE 🀦 luckily that was so nonsensical I realized something was up!

Burma Shave 9:55 AM  


Make CHANGEs and some TIMEs ARE lost,
now one ADDSIN the UNITCOST;
CASH and BUCK and CENTS ARE funny,


thefogman 10:39 AM  

I liked this one. Lots of misdirects including Santa before STPAT, HArHAr before HAHHAH and soNnatTa before CANTATA. Difficulty was right on the MONEY for a Thursday.

spacecraft 3:02 PM  

Couple of hands up, for eAtSITUP and for HArHAr, each of which nearly caused a DNF--and both together came within an eyelash (where's my EYEDOC?) of ruining my effort. My NW looks like a disaster area. But, in the end I prevailed, scoring tons of triumph points.

Fill this time was not all that spectacular; the SW area containing


seems fixable. But I love me some Benjamin Franklin, and the theme took work to uncover. Birdie.

rondo 4:18 PM  

Had the whole east side filled in, so the MONEY part was evident. Got the revealer and finished up the west. Another hand up for HArHAr at first. Dang good puz.

Russian news agcy. in the corners - TASS.

Teri as INGA, yeah BABE.

No reason to say UGH.

leftcoaster 4:51 PM  

Any puzzle with Jeff Chen’s name on it is likely to be pretty clever and relatively tough. This one is absolutely tough, but just fair enough.

Most damaging error was hanging on to small CHANGE/small TIME instead of SPARE. Thought PASSED THE BUCK (with its “the”) was inconsistent with the other themers. An annoyance was the multiple three-letter words and names, especially ORA, PSP, GRP, and UGH. Also had a bit of a work-out in the SW.

A lot to like here as well, THOUGH.

Diana, LIW 8:03 PM  

I got all but 3 squares, got the "trick," but didn't understand the trick. I hate it when I do that - I feel like such a dolt! Especially when it is revealed and is SO obvious. Covid-fatigue brain.

All in all twas a fine Thursday puzzle.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting, still, for resolution

Art Hindle 10:47 AM  

The clue Cinemax competitor bothered me ...the answer was TMC which is a Franco–MonΓ©gasque general entertainment television channel, owned by the French media holding company TF1 Group.

I think, and thought it should be TCM ...which is Turner Classic Movies ( My muzak in my home office ! )

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