Instrument played using circular breathing / THU 10-15-20 / Language that gave us spunk slogan / Rebellion 1808 uprising in New South Wales / Autobahn hazard

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Constructor: Lindsey Hobbs

Relative difficulty: Medium (high 5s)

THEME: DOWN UNDER (55A: Nickname for 18-Across, and a hint to how four answers in this puzzle are to be entered) — themers are all associated with AUSTRALIA (18A: Locale suggested by this puzzle's theme) and are entered in such a way that the answer turns first "down" then "under" (i.e. the answers fold back underneath themselves):

Theme answers:
  • PLATY / SESUP (i.e. "platypuses")
  • KANG / OORA (i.e. "kangaroo")
  • VEGE / ETIM (i.e. "Vegemite")
  • DIDGE / OODIR (i.e. "didgeridoo")
Word of the Day: Novelist Santha Rama RAU (47D) —
Santha Rama Rau (24 January 1923 – 21 April 2009) was an Indian-born American writer. [...] When India won its independence in 1947, Rama Rau's father was appointed as his nation's first ambassador to Japan. While in Tokyo, Japan, she met her future husband, an American, Faubion Bowers. After extensive traveling through Asia and a bit of Africa and Europe, the couple settled in New York City, New York. Rama Rau became an instructor in the English language faculty of Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York, in 1971, also working as a freelance writer. // She adapted the novel A Passage to India, with author E. M. Forster’s approval, for the theater. The play of the same name was produced for the Oxford Playhouse, Oxford, United Kingdom, moved to the West End in London, United Kingdom, in 1960 for 261 performances, and then on to Broadway in New York City where it was staged 109 times. It was adapted by John Maynard and directed by Waris Husseinfor BBC television's Play of the Month in 1965. Although the film rights originally required Rama Rau to write the screenplay, director David Lean found her draft unsatisfactory and was able to reject it, although she is still credited in the titles because he still used some of her dialogue. // Rama Rau is the author of Home to India, East of Home, This is India, Remember the House (a novel), My Russian Journey, Gifts of Passage, The Adventuress, (a novel),  View to the Southeast, and An Inheritance, as well as co-author (with Gayatri Devi) of A Princess Remembers: the memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur. (wikipedia)
• • •

And a KOALA for good measure (31D: Dweller in a eucalyptus forest). Here's a Thursday where looking DOWN UNDER (i.e. looking at the revealer clue first) wouldn't have helped a damn bit, as the revealer points you to 18-Across and the 18-Across clue tells you nothing. So you've gotta get answers into the grid before you can begin to have even an inkling of what's going on, which is fine by me as I tend to plunge right into every puzzle, hacking away at what I can get until the theme just ... sort of ... shows itself. Today, it took a weird lot of time to do that. I made good progress, but for a long time just didn't know how to enter those themers. Would've picked it up much quicker, probably, if I just could've gotten TYPIFIED (5D: Embodied). Clue had me thinking of something much more ... corporeal, and without the "Y" or "P" I couldn't see it ... and without the "Y" or "P" I also couldn't see PLATY/PUSES, though, honestly I didn't stop to think about it too much. Again, I tend to plow ahead. It's not clear to me if stopping to think about PLATY/PUSES would've paid off or just been a time suck. My general philosophy is if you get stuck, even a little, and you can move on, move on. I think the first themer I tumbled to was VEGE/MITE, which was hard because there was no reference to AUSTRALIA in the clue, and nothing at all referring to VEGE/MITE's unique look / texture / taste. Just "brand of sandwich spread" ... yikes. And we not only eat VEGE/MITE in this household, we once stockpiled it when we learned our grocery store was going to stop carrying it (they've since reversed course on this decision, thank god). Anyway, once you get the trick, the puzzle is not hard—typical Thursday, in that regard. And, much to my surprise and delight, getting the theme today made me feel like the struggle was worth it—a simple and very elegant expression of the revealer phrase. A "Huh, cool" rather than [shrug] or "ugh, really?"

Aptly snared by SNARE today (6D: Catch). I had the "R" and wrote in LEARN (?). Like "catch" as in "hear of" or "pick up," as when someone doesn't hear something and says "Sorry, I didn't catch that, what did you say?," which, now that I write it out, really isn't a good substitute for LEARN, but Thursdays can be wacky, so ... yeah. Had a lot of trouble with TRAMPOLINE, as I took "bouncer" in the club / bar security sense and not in the "literally someone bouncing" sense (41A: Bouncer's equipment). And REPO MEN, also very hard, as I couldn't remember the very crosswordesey (and yet still not automatic) RAU. Did not enjoy seeing RAU (a name that is crossword-famous all out of proportion to its actual famousness), but the clue on REPO MEN was really good (47A: Ones coming for a ride?). As with RAU, I had trouble retrieving ATUL's name, but ATUL's book I have laid eyes on many many many times, which means that even though I've seen his name in crosswords far less often than I've seen RAU's name, I resent it much less (i.e. not at all). 

Had RANKS before MARKS, that hurt (48D: Grades). Couldn't remember if it was FEY or FAY (30A: Eliflike). Since FEY can mean "marked by an otherworldly air or attitude" (, you can see how one might get confused. Found "A WORD ..." very hard but ... it was one of those perfect hard answers where when you first get it you're mad but then after you sit with it you have to acknowledge that it is very much a real expression, clued accurately (37A: "I need to speak with you," briefly). Worst mistake today was a mistake combo. Went with OPAL (AUSTRALIA!) / HEEL, which I felt pretty good about, until none of the crosses worked and I quickly realized it was ONYX / STYX (52D: Traditional gemstone for a seventh wedding anniversary / 63A: Where Achilles took a dip?).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. only just now seeing the Australian clue on RUM (19D: ___ Rebellion, 1808 uprising in New South Wales). That may be a bit of trying too hard with the theme stuff. Know when to say when.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Michael Hanko 6:32 AM  

Meta theme: the Aussie answers boomerang in the grid.

Loren Muse Smith 6:34 AM  

Man oh man did it take forever to see the trick! I agree with Rex - nice little aha moment when it clicked. I’m reminded of Patrick Berry’s December 2, 2004 puzzle. (Spoiler alert: the link shows the filled grid.)

Two early goofs mucked up my progress for a bit: “Top” for TAP (“Select” meant “choice” for me.) “Ponds” for PIERS. Both defensible.

I kept thinking about the word TUB. When does a container graduate from a reasonably sized vessel to a TUB? Obviously, the caldron-size popcorn bucket you lug to your seat at the movies is a tub. And that 64-ounce Double Gulp of Mountain Dew from 7-11 is a tub; it needs its own seatbelt. Sheesh.

Ok. So. PLATYPUSES. Hmm. I’ve looked into this quite a bit and am happy to report that this is the only other common word I could find of Greek origin whose plural is so deliciously pretentious. Like octopodes, the Greek plural for platypus is, drum roll please, platypodes - /plah TIP uh deez/. Your day is now complete.

OffTheGrid 6:37 AM  

4 things ruin this puzzle, SESUP, ETIM, OORA, RIDOO. I get the theme but big thumbs down (or 1st down).

Anonymous 6:39 AM  

I liked that the four theme words, entered going down and under, sort of boomeranged...

Harryp 6:44 AM  

DIDGERIDOO and VEGEMITE were tough to parse, but I got the Theme at PLATYPUSES, and finished with no problems. I had 9D peTTOYS before CAT, but that was a simple fix. Liked the clues for 41A and 47A, and also 32A. After the solve, I thought that the Debut constructor might have chosen BOOMERANG for the reveal, since a sport boomerang also goes out and back.

Harryp 6:47 AM  

Wow, everyone was on the same page!

JOHN X 6:47 AM  

Dang this was an easy puzzle.

I got AUSTRALIA at 18A almost right away from its last letters, then I just scrolled down to the revealer and of course that was obvious, which led to the themers dropping and the puzzle collapsing like the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1944.

The NYT Thursday puzzle is supposed to be gimmicky and difficult; it’s supposed to be a challenge. This was People Magazine/USA Today level easy.

Lewis 7:11 AM  

I loved the solve. I especially loved the clues for TRAMPOLINE, REPOMEN, and TORNADOS. And I loved the surprise that came when the revealer, instead of what I was expecting -- having something to do with “boomerang” (since the second half of the theme answer pairs came back toward the place where they started) -- was the terrific DOWN UNDER. Furthermore, overall, the puzzle’s answers and clues exuded sparkle and verve, like the Sydney Opera House.

All of this love reduces to a nit my complaint that there is no explanation in the puzzle for the boomerang effect, and let me say, Lindsey, thank you for the fun, thank you for your persistence in constructing (and you are now on my list of crossword makers to watch), happy Debut Day, and congratulations.

Lewis 7:15 AM  

@loren -- The puzzle that this puzzle reminds me of is one by Peter A. Collins from 10/24/13 with the reveal BOOMERANG EFFECT. (Anyone can find the completed grid by punching this date into .)

kitshef 7:28 AM  

DNF at EFRaM/VEGaMITE. I wanted the “e” for the across but the “a” for the down, and lost the coin flip.

Other than that one square, much much too easy for a Thursday. Played easier than a lot of Tuesdays. There were a couple of clever clues, but no challenging ones.

17A: Eat dinner in Fla. or Ga.
36A: "Neat! It's the sun God!"
43A: What I done to dat crawdad.
62A: Where you put a Doctor Who alien with an ACL tear

ChuckD 7:41 AM  

I liked the puzzle - fun solve but I’m not sure there was an intended boomerang effect - possibly just a very loose revealer. Love the long center down PAUSE FOR A MOMENT - placid phrase to start the day off nicely. A little glue here and there but mostly decent fill. TRAMPOLINE and REPO MEN stood out for me and liked the Achilles clue for STYX.

Always heard great things about surfing Byron Bay and the Sunshine Coast but overall don’t really have an interest in the land DOWN UNDER. Enjoyable solve though for a Thursday.

Frantic Sloth 7:43 AM  

A-HA! and well met, but I had you at PLATYPUSES, you fiend!


I rather liked this one. Nothing awe-inspiring or the opposite, but some effort required on the mostly nit-free fill. It did its job and that's really all I can ask for.

Also, I'm particularly grateful for the lack of shading or circles or giant, flappy balloon people pointing to the theme squares. The dashes were more than adequate to hint-hint, nudge-nudge, and wink-wink me in the right direction. (That and knowing PLATYPUSES had to work their little freaky-faced way in somehow.)

I would have liked to see that center vertical grid spanner relate to the theme, but I'll leave that to OFL to carp about.

Overall much better than I expected given yesterday's was supposedly POW.


Karl Grouch 8:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hungry Mother 8:08 AM  

VEGEMITE made me think of Soylent Green when I tried it on our trip DOWNUNDER. I thought “outback” might have been part of the theme as I was filling in. I have lots of fine memories of the land and its people. I did my first bungee jump there.

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

lovely theme. anyone else struggle with EFREM crossing EIS crossing ERSE?? i said, "surely the hazard on the autobahn is not the dreaded UIE!!!" but EIS is new to my solving.

ow a paper cut 8:15 AM  

This was good fun. I think Thursday puzzles are my favorite.

Pamela 8:17 AM  

This was another one I had to sleep on. Last night, the misdirects were just too much, along with ETIM, which meant nothing at all to me. This morning, ToP became TAP, PAUSE showed up, leading me to AUSTRALIA, and the rest fell in.

The theme, though, was still a mystery. I knew it had to be a good one, because everything else, though tricky, was challenging in a way that felt perfectly fair. I tried connecting the included squares to the word before-but LIME SESUP, TRAMPOLINE ETIM, etc led nowhere.

In the end I had to get it spoonfed by Rex, and my Aha of appreciation was touched by regret for not sussing it out for myself.

TokyoRacer 8:23 AM  

ERSE? And it crosses EIS - foreign word crossing foreign word - that's a no-no, editors. Why don't they know that?
Of course, I don't think foreign words should be allowed at all.

Vegemite is the worst tasting glop I've ever put in my mouth (for about three seconds). You have to be an Aussie, or I guess from upstate NY, to like it.

Karl Grouch 8:35 AM  

Hey, Will
Next time try this:
Strand at a German airport, maybe: eis in

TexCyclist 8:43 AM  

TOTALLY Naticked on EIS/ERSE crossing. Aside from that, a fun solve.

Anon 8:44 AM  

same: DNF at EFRaM/VEGaMITE. EIS/ERSE another bad cross.

mmorgan 8:46 AM  

Really nice puzzle. We spent five weeks in Australia last Jan-Feb, so of course we’re experts on the country and know absolutely everything about it. One thing we determined without a doubt is that nobody but nobody there calls the place Down Under. And koalas are really cute but very sad creatures. VEGEMITE is quite a thing. Really nice puzzle!

pabloinnh 8:48 AM  

Nice to see a puzzle about the land where the women glow and the men plunder. Which reminds me that there's a local Chinese restaurant called "Men at Wok". The Brits have Marmite, the Aussies have Vegemite, and they both can keep them.

Liked the concept, liked the gimmick, some good fill, but overall too easy for a Thursday. I need something that takes up more time and distracts me more from reality, so a slight disappointment there.

On to the SB, which generally will take me as long as I can keep at it.

Congrats to Lindsey on a promising debut.

Unknown 8:55 AM  

An easy Thursday, quite well done, with 'Australia" "Down Under" and the four theme answers, and 'koala' thrown in for fun. Easy/trite theme answers that were too plainly clued. Would have liked to have seen something more along the lines of clue "Slammer", answer

Nancy 9:13 AM  

You might have heard a lot of baffled cusses,
Without those lovely backward PLATYPUSES.

Yes, PLATYPUSES revealed their gawky, web-footed selves to me immediately, and therefore I knew the trick from the outset. I'm not sure the revealer is completely on-target: the DOWN UNDER answers aren't only below, but go backwards as well. But it didn't matter to me: this was crunchy, playful, and a great deal of fun. And the fact that all the theme answers are found in AUSTRALIA is nothing short of brilliant.

I had a DNF because I couldn't remember the instrument at 59A and I didn't know the Rolling Stones song. FWIW, I had DIDDEREDOO crossing ANDEE. They both seemed entirely plausible. But who cares. This isn't a tournament and I didn't lose out on the $100,000 first prize. This was an amusement and it amused splendidly. Thanks, Lindsey.

RooMonster 9:29 AM  

Hey All !
I guess I'm the only one who doesn't know German. Not an inkling on EIS. My one-letter DNF spot. Wanted an N (which is what it should've been, EIN/ERNE. Natchmusik anyone?) So thanks to those here who told me it is ICE in German. ERSE can go the way of the dodo, too. (AUSTRALIAn tie-in!)

A Rex Rave Review (RRR for short?). A rarity in these here parts. Good on ya, Lindsey (Dang! Another reference!)

Amazingly junk-light, seeing as how there are iffy-type places to fill. SW corner is a example. Plus a 15 Downer. Kudos on getting the fill this clean. And a big Congrats on your debut!

Five F's

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

For shame NYT, having DIO as an answer and not cluing it with Ronnie James? Also isn't this the second occurrence of FOGIN this week, which is something I've never heard. The obscure authors tripped me up today. Theme was fine, but not the easiest to parse

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

You tried “Soylent Green”, or Vegemite?

Barbara S. 9:43 AM  

I can't stand either VEGEMITE or Marmite, the British equivalent, but my husband is an addict. (In fact, I think we get only Marmite here -- colonial ties must be holding). BUT Mr. S is currently struggling, because there's an international Marmite shortage due to COVID-19! This is because brewer's yeast is in short supply in the U.K. due to the widespread closure of pubs (and the consequent slowdown in the brewing industry). He's been begging the local food shop to find an alternate source of supply but they can't seem to. Poor chap.

I don't think VEGEMITE has been negatively impacted so I suppose if it were available here, there wouldn't be a problem. Perhaps byzantine rules of trade keep it out.

In our experience, cats love the stuff. I wonder if Rex has ever put Alfie and VEGEMITE together.

Z 9:45 AM  

I had a feeling from the spots that gave me pause so I toted up the PPP* and I was correct, 34%. EFREM crossing VEGEMITE is the worst offender, since its whack-a-vowel at two proper names neither of which are all that common in the US (The only two EFREMs I know of are this guy and his SON and I know his SON only because I’m old), but RAU and ATUL aren’t exactly household names either. ATUL also crosses OUTLIERS, just at the easier to infer L. I increasingly snarl at unnecessary PPP like OUTLIERS, it’s a perfectly clueable word without going the PPP route. I especially snarl in puzzles that are already skewing high with the PPP.

Overall, I enjoyed the puzzle. I thought the dash clues were a big red flag warning me that the dashed clues were connected to some other clue, but it still took a little bit to suss out exactly how. The only way around the dash clues would be if the bottom half were A WORD themselves, but that’s not possible with this theme set. I was mildly amused at the EIS/FOG IN shout out to things that might strand one in an airport.

Anyone surprised that this wasn’t one of the videos Rex posted? I also would have liked a little Midnight Oil (since he’s doing Aussie performers) or some ANGIE since I immediately had Mick’s voice in my head as I entered the answer.

PLATYPODES for the win.

*PPP - Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns. Anything over 33% will cause some subset of solvers to find the puzzle especially hard and often another subset will find it easy (the wheelhouse/outhouse effect)

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

What gives? why'd you pull my post responding to LMS? It was up n ow its gone. Why the memory hole?

Z 9:53 AM  

@pabloinnh - I see you had the same musical thought.

Carola 9:56 AM  

Easy and fun. With PLATY going in from the first Downs, I knew the PUSES had to be lurking somewhere, and presto, there they were, backed into place. So, the rest of the theme answers came quickly. I thought OUTLIERS could qualify as a bonus one: the egg-laying mammal and the two marsupials as oddities of the animal kingdom, a DIDGERIDOO in its cultural significance, and VEGEMITE (to non-AUSTRALIAns) as entirely a culinary bridge too far. I also liked the neighboring MAORI, and the CAT TOYS, COFFEE POTS, and TRAMPOLINE offered more pleasures...even the X-Y sequence of the mirroring STYX and STYES. Lots of fun to be had with A WORD in this puzzle..

Do-overs: FeY, RAo, DIgeri@#$%?. Malapop: "opt" before TAP.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Will S: Hmm, FOG IN two days in a row???

Richard Stanford 10:00 AM  

I got most of it very quickly but was then completely baffled by the North, because I had UTRAP instead of PTRAP (I really wanted UBEND but that obviously didn't work) and thus COFFEEurnS instead of COFFEEpotS, which still made sense to me. Once I freed that up the rest fell into place easily enough.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Hope this passes mods's muster

Australia is part of the Antipodes ( along with New Zealand).

There's nothing pretentious about podes. Its simply the Greek plural of pous. I'll grant it's pedantic, but that's slightly different than pretense.

That's as anodyne, and innocuous as I can make the post.

GILL I. 10:02 AM  

Well this puzzle gets my cool beans award. The little dashes spell out SESUPOORAETIMOODIR and if that ain't Mad Max then we have the Tasmanian devil PLATYKANGVEGEDIDGE. See? Cool beans....
Anything AUSTRALIA is all right by me - even that disgusting VEGE ETIM. My husband eats Marmite by the bucketload and it's the same thing. If you have warts, smear it will clear them up.
@mmorgan...You were there during the horrible fire? For my birthday, I asked my friends to donate to the KOALA wildlife foundation. I love those little critters and we raised over $2,000. I reached out to Bezos but he was too busy wrapping packages.
Did you know that the official name of the PLATYPUS is Ornithorhynchus anatinus? No? now you do. I'm not so sure about the anatinus thing.... I would've added large billed proboscis.
In my second life, I want to go on an Outback Safari, pet a Hunstman spider and slip a shrimp on the barbie with Hugh Jackman.
If this is a debut, Ms Hobbs....then a big congratulations. I had loads of fun with this and hope you do many more. This was fair dinkum.....G'Day.

pmdm 10:09 AM  

picked up (see his first paragraph) on what I did not like about the puzzle. I did like the theme. I did like that my paper was delivered today (as opposed to yesterday).

Nancy 10:18 AM  

Why are koalas "sad creatures", @mmorgan? It makes me really sad to think of them as sad, and until this very minute I never have. I sure hope you're wrong. :)

And @pabloinnh -- I had no idea what you were talking about in AUSTRALIA as the land where "women glow and men plunder", so I plunked the phrase into Google and some sort of animated song came up. Or rather I should say "song". I couldn't listen; I had to turn it off. It wasn't so much that the harsh and extremely loud electronic din that arose from my computer seemed non-musical. It's that it seemed anti-musical. This from a man who loves to sing "Shenandoah". I couldn't believe it. How did you stick around long enough to even know what the lyrics were?

jberg 10:28 AM  

Rex, you definitely should have thought about PLATYPUSES. I mean that has to be the answer, you’ve got that _ clue under it, and you have the S from EPSOM, so Bob’s your uncle. After that the hardest part was spelling DIDGERIDOO.

I was hoping EFREM and Ms. RAU would turn out to be Australian, but no. So RUM and KOALA are out of balance.

I did kind of like the ridiculous clues for COFFEE POTS and TRAMPOLINE. And for a deep dive into the song, look up “MACARONI men.”

Whatsername 10:42 AM  

Challenging and different, not your same old Thursday for sure. I like that and appreciate the effort. I loved that all the theme answers “boomeranged” and were all uniquely native to the subject. Really well put together and a delightfully satisfying solve. Well done Lindsey!

I knew @GILL would get the Cuban sandwich ingredient without even thinking, but I had NADA clue. FOGged IN at the airport two days in a row. Superb clue for THE KNOT. The plural spelling of PLATYPUS is as odd looking as the creature itself. The pony MACARONI always makes me think of sweet Caroline Kennedy who had one so named when she was a child.

Nice to be reminded that the statue atop the Capitol depicts FREEDOM, not tyranny. I pray it stays that way.

TJS 10:52 AM  

Totally amazed that this is first published effort. Wow. Can't wait to see where Ms. Hobbs goes from here. My solve went from total aggravation approaching the walk away level to total enjoyment of the conceit and the fill. I can think of atleast two clue/answers that qualify for @Lewis top 5 list, but I will let him tell me if I'm right.

@LMS, LOLed at your seatbelt comment, and your plah-tip-uh-dees may very well complete my day. Now to check out the archive for the two puzzle references.

KnittyContessa 10:54 AM  

I need to start doing all the puzzles at night. Did this before I went to sleep last night and zipped right through. I knew it had to be PLATYPUSES and when I saw the clue under it was a dash it was easy to figure out. The only resistance was in the SE. I had PondS for 51D and thought DIDGERIDOO was spelled DIDGaRIDOO but I eventually put it together.

Unknown 11:03 AM  

@Lewis 7:15 I wish you hadn't given the reveal to that puz.

@ Tokyoracer 8:23 Never a foreign word? That, to me, betrays a level of provincialism and narrow-mindedness. While I, among many, had difficulty w/ the EIS/ERSE cross (I'd literally never heard of ERSE, although I probably should have sussed out EIS), but I'm fine w/ foreign words scattered throughout. As long as they are not so esoteric that only a handful would know. And maybe even that's ok for a Saturday.

While perhaps on the easy side for a Thursday NYT, this was brilliantly constructed. Well done, & thank you to the puz maker.

egsforbreakfast 11:29 AM  

Took me a while (not to mention a culpa), to remember the obscure PLATYSESUP, KANGOORA, DIDGEOODIR and the forgotten, but delicious, VEGEETIM. Best of all, catching on to these archaic, but fairly crossed, antipodal phenomena led me immediately to the more familiar BOASLIME at 10A and OINKTOTS aT 61A.

Liked the conceit just fine, though a tad easy for a Thursday. Nonetheless, an excellent debut for Lindsey Hobbs. Keep it up..

mmorgan 11:30 AM  

@Gil -- Yes, we were there during the fires... which were then put out by floods (also fun)... and then we returned to the plague. Afraid to think what's coming next.

@Nancy -- yes, unfortunately, they're very sad. Many suffer from blindness and chlamydia, many were badly injured or killed in the fires. Their main sustenance is eucalyptus, which has essentially zero nutritional value, so they have no energy. It's a myth that it makes them high, but basically they have no energy to anything besides sit in a tree and sleep. Went to a Koala Hospital in Port Macqaurie, which was quite an eye-opener.

We did love the country and the people, despite the fires and floods. And the food was amazing!!

Newboy 11:33 AM  

Great fun solving today & a debut grid from Lindsey—bravo!

Exactly what I expect &enjoy on a Thursday to complement a cuppa drip dark roast and a sourdough scone. No VEGEMITE, please.

@kitschef great alternative gniulc 🤡

JC66 11:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 11:43 AM  


I thin this is what @pabloinnh is referring to.

mathgent 11:44 AM  

Sparkly and a lot of fun. Fifteen red plus signs in the margins. “Bouncer’s equipment” ! “Whirled powers”!

DIDGERIDOO was the last themer I entered. By that time I knew the gimmick and I had D?D?ER?D?O. Ah, yes DIDGERIDOO! How do I know that word? I don’t remember it being in the puzzle before. I saw a picture of one on Wiki, never seen one before.

I also looked up circular breathing. I tried but my inadequate nose can’t do it. I can’t remember the song with the line “Like breathing out and breathing in,” but circular breathers do both at the same time.

Joe Dipinto 12:03 PM  

@Mathgent – "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face" from "My Fair Lady".

jb129 12:07 PM  

I got the theme but never got the fill - I thought this was HARD!

Nancy 12:09 PM  

mathgent -- It's from "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" from My Fair Lady.

@mmorgan -- Now I really AM sad!!!!!!!!!!

Molson 12:12 PM  

Was 100% expecting the giveaway to be "Boomerang."

Sacgurl 12:12 PM  

I’m coming back to puzzles after a hiatus and I don’t have a clue what SI means in 8D. I got it because I got the squares around it. A web search of every possible SI meaning pulls up everything from “stress incontinence” to “sexually inactive” but nothing fits the bill. Can someone please explain this seemingly simple clue and its answer?

TTrimble 12:21 PM  


I don't imagine anyone can circularly breathe while singing for example. But for people who play a reed or brass instrument, air is forced out through a small aperture between the lips, and air can otherwise be "pocketed" in the mouth and cheeks. With such a reservoir of air held in place, it's possible to take "sips" of air through the nostrils, as needed as air is expelled through the lips, and that's circular breathing. With practice it's possible to keep this going for some time, and Kenny G holds a record for doing this (something like 45 minutes? maybe longer).

And yes, DIDGERIDOO players can do this as well.

I can circularly breathe while doing something I call "playing the lips". It's an ability I discovered when I was about 10 or 11: air is forced out between a small aperture formed between the lips as they are held close to the teeth but the rest of the mouth and cheeks are puffed out by a sac of air. If you know the squeaky sound that's made by a balloon as the neck isn't tied off but is reasonably tight, but not so tight that air can't escape, then playing the lips is similar. In this fashion it's possible to make music, and thus I call it playing the lips.

(I've never met anyone else who can do it like I can, although I'm sure they exist. It's a lifelong dream of mine to meet such a person and make music together.)

Ellen S 12:31 PM  

@mmorgan, how do you know koalas are sad? High suicide rate? Most frequent contributors to the agony columns? Consume a lot of Foster’s?

Only thing that bothered me was the MAORI entry, since New Zealand isn’t the same as Australia. I figured out the theme with the second theme entry, so fairly proud of myself. I thought the Brits eat Vegemite and, well, I wouldn’t want to eat anything the Brits eat.

Nice debut, Lindsey!

First Name Last Name 12:33 PM  

I've returned to puzzles after a hiatus - perhaps that's why I'm clueless about the seemingly simple "SI VIP" in 8D. I Googled every possible meaning of SI and got a wide range of possibilities, from "stress incontinence" to "systeme internationale" to "stop it" to "sexually inactive" - but nothing that would yield "ed" as a response. Can someone please explain this clue and its answer? (I got it because I got the surrounding squares but I never "got it.")

JC66 12:38 PM  


Sports Illustrated has EDitorS.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

At long last, I've sufficiently internalized those - clues, so figured out PLATYPUSES long before the theme, although by itself lent some clue to what the theme had to be.

JOHN X 12:46 PM  

@ TTrimble 12:21 PM

Johnny Mathis was well known for singing using circular breathing. Frank Sinatra did it as well.

bocamp 12:50 PM  

@Lindsey - I'm "down" with this puz "mate". Thanks for the trip "Down Under". Always wanted to go there, but this may be as close as I get. LOL

Always begin w/NW, so "flat" got plunked, then "lasts", "Epsom" and that was it. Moved over to the Great Lakes with "spec" (thought "sand" for a moment, but it wouldn't work with "eds"); the remainder of that area came together quickly, giving me "Australia", and the rest of the puz was my "mate".

Got the "double back" idea with "kang" (but didn't grok the "Down Under" until the post-game analysis). Even then, didn't twig on the "boomerang" idea, until reading the blog comments. Looks like Rex may have missed that, as well.

Two somewhat tricky spots to end on: 1) not knowing the "Stones ballad" nor the correct spelling of "didgeridoo" , "Angie" was the only name that made sense. 🤞 2) not knowing "Vegemite" (maybe heard of it, not sure), nor the correct spelling of "Efrem" (watched him years ago, but never paid much attention to how names were spelled) was left with "mental-whack-a-vowel". Who knows how the spelling of "vegetable" might be truncated in a portmanteau name. Almost any vowel could have been a candidate. Settled on "e" only due to the correct sp. of "vegetable". Again, another 🤞 and was awarded a "1st up 👍" for the win. :)

Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport - Rolf Harris

There's an old Australian stockman lying, dying
He gets himself up onto one elbow and he turns to his mates
Who are all gathered around and he says:

Watch me wallabies feed, mate
Watch me wallabies feed
They're a dangerous breed, mate
So watch me wallabies feed

Altogether now! [Chorus]

Tie me kangaroo down, sport
Tie me kangaroo down
Tie me kangaroo down, sport
Tie me kangaroo down

Keep me cockatoo cool, Curl
Keep me cockatoo cool
Ah, don't go acting the fool, Curl
Just keep me cockatoo cool

Altogether now!

'n' take me koala back, Jack
Take me koala back
He lives somewhere out on the track, Mac
So take me koala back

Altogether now!

Let me abos go loose, Lou
Let me abos go loose
They're of no further use, Lou
So let me abos go loose

Altogether now!

And mind me platypus duck, Bill
Mind me platypus duck
Ah, don't let 'im go running amok, Bill
Just mind me platypus duck

Altogether now!

Play your didgeridoo, Blue
Play your didgeridoo
Ah, like, keep playin' 'til I shoot through, Blue
Play your didgeridoo

Altogether now!

Tan me hide when I'm dead, Fred
Tan me hide when I'm dead
So we tanned his hide when he died, Clyde
And that's it hangin' on the shed!!

Altogether now! [Chorus]

Tie me kangaroo down, sport
Tie me kangaroo down
Tie me kangaroo down, sport
Tie me kangaroo down

Peace ειρήνη Paz शांति Pace Frieden Paix Rangimarie Síocháin 🕊

Masked and Anonymous 12:51 PM  


Lotsa great Across and Down longballs swirlin around in this here puzgrid. Cool bonuses, galore. Like.
Theme mcguffin is also nicely done, what with the all-in AUSTRALIA connection. Like2.

staff weeject pick: RUM. Weeject gets an AUSTRALIA-related clue. Kinda hard to wrap RUM around like a D.U.-themer, tho. Also true of KOALA, unless U go with KOALA+SRAEB or somesuch.
Primo weeject stacks in the NE & SW, btw.

Unlike @RP, M&A spent numerous precious PSECs in the NW corner, tryin to figure out the first D.U.-themer. The mysterious ATUL/OUTLIERS crossin there'bouts was not helpful. But I saw that 17-A clue of {--} and just knew its answer was somehow gonna be part of some other nearby answer. Got EPSOM & LASTS pretty quick, so 20-A kinda looked like it was gonna start with OUT- and 23-A was probably MRS … which led to (desperately with a slightly French accented cuss) tryin out FLEUR at 2-D. Then the Ahar Moment flashed all over the M&A FREEDOM-from-smarts Dome.

@Muse darlin: Cool TUB discussion. Did U know that ice cream sometimes also comes in KEGs? Ironically, that there TUB dealy can also be a runty butter container. Sooo … sheesh, indeed.

@Muse darlin2: Sorry U are losin so many extra precious puz nanosecs, in figurin out yer distance-learnin setup. I think it unfortunately requires a lot of work, to successfully impart artificial intelligence.
Now to figure out yer (zucker-backed?) avatar … ???

Thanx for all the outback back-outers, Ms. Hobbs darlin. And congratz on yer magnificent debut. Hop back in here, any old time.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


GILL I. 12:53 PM  

@mmorgan...."Afraid to think what's coming next."...How about our election?
@Ellen S...WHAT????? You don't like peas? Peas in your salad? Peas in your haggis? Peas in jellied eels? Have you ever even tried Stargazey Pie without peas? How could you not want to eat anything the Brits eat?

pabloinnh 1:00 PM  

@Nancy-Wow, I don't know what you ran into, but @JC66 to the rescue. I find the Men at Work version to be bouncy and fun. Any song that rhymes "Brussels" with "muscles" and "speak-a-my language" with "Vegemite sandwich" will make me smile.

Apologies for any distress, and thanks to @JC66.

I still like to sing "Shenadoah". Also, the sound track from "West Side Story", a lot of John Denver and James Taylor and Paul Simon and many other things.

Teedmn 1:07 PM  

What a fun debut puzzle, Lindsey Hobbs! I got the theme, mostly, at PLATY-SESUP but got a tad confused on how the rest worked (for some reason, I thought 43A's - clue was attached to 41A, the one directly above it in the list, rather than the one directly above it in the grid.) VEGE-ETIM set me straight.

CedES at 32D and Rex's mArKS at 48D interrupted my solve slightly. I'm surprised, with _EPOrEN in place at 47A that I was able to parse correctly REPOMEN from its very clever clue but I did, which was fun.

I hope to see more puzzles from you, thanks Lindsey!

Grown-Up Autistic Kid 1:11 PM  

Immediately transparent at PLATYPUS

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

@First Name Last Name

The magazine Sports Illustrated is often, I'd go so far as saying usually, abbreviated to its Initials: S I.
I'm sure you can fill in the rest but just in case, magazines have editors, often abbreviate to Eds.

Barbara S. 1:17 PM  

I did the puzzle last night and immediately wrote this poem (sorry, Ogden). I read it this morning and thought it was better left on the cutting-room floor. But the talk of sad KOALAs has made me decide to post it after all.


In the town of Walla Walla
I had a handsome pet koala,
And when I went off to my work,
Like Mary’s lamb, he’d folla.
He didn’t like the ‘lyptus;
He went for lemon Joll-a.
The way he liked it very best
Was garnished with marshmalla.
One day I rang the local vet
“My koala looks off-colla!”*
She had a pouch of joeys, so
I changed her name to Paula!


Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Loved this one. Sussed out the theme right away with PLATYPUS and AUSTRALIA and it was a breeze from then on. My fastest Thursday finish ever (15 min) Bonus theme points for the throw-ins of KOALA and MAORI

What? 1:23 PM  

Re EIS. To do puzzles from the Times, solvers are assumed to be well read, educated, and a bit of a polymath (but light on the obscurities). This implies a certain minimal knowledge of foreign languages, especially French, Italian, Spanish, Latin and yes, German, even words not days of the week or months or numbers, etc, (Latin). Phonetic identity also helps.

old timer 1:27 PM  

Big fat DNF here. Didn't see SPEC, and rejected CAT TOYS for pet TOYS as a result. Therefore put in "none" for NADA and ended up with the illogical "house" FOR A MOMENT instead of PAUSE. I think one excuse is, I think of "take five" in the military sense, where you get to totally relax (and smoke 'em if you got 'em)-- not just take a quick break from some everyday task. My bad.

I had "uTRAP before P and thought of the ubiquitous COFFEE urns, but put in POT all the same.

All in all a good puzzle, even if I was stymied at the top. I loved MACARONI. I love Yankee Doodle almost as much as George M Cohan, and it was the first song I ever learned from a book ("Father and I went down to camp along with Captain Good'n, and there we saw the men and boys as thick as hasty pudding". The song was actually made up by the Brits to make fun of the Continental soldiers, but the Americans adopted the song and the tune. We rebels were insouciant as can be, which is a trait that has lasted. (A macaroni in that era was a FOP, and I think MACARONI has been used as a definition for FOP in previous puzzles).

Frantic Sloth 1:28 PM  

@Carola 956am Thanks. STYX and STYES sounds like the beginning of a playground retort. STYX and STYES may hurt my eyes, but....I got nuthin. 🤷‍♀️

@GILL I 1002am LOL! On behalf of the 'MITEs, I can imagine no higher culinary praise than "If you have warts, smear it will clear them up." Yummy!

@mmorgan Grateful for the knowledge, but definitely not happy about learning of the poor, sad KOALA situation. 💔

@egs 1129am Great. Now I want some OINK TOTS. But I'll take 'em sans BOA SLIME, please.

@TTrimble 1221pm "In this fashion it's possible to make music..." And also do elephant impressions! So I've heard.

@Ellen S 1231pm How to know KOALAs are sad.

@M&A 1251pm Glad I'm not alone in wondering what @LMS's avatar means...something to tie in the Cuban sandwich??

@Barbara S 117pm Well, I for one am thrrrrilled you decided to post your charming creation! What a wonderful, Nashy mind you have!

@Z I got the crossword late yesterday, so haven't done it yet...(BTW, it was an individual purchase because I never subscribed)

Karl 1:30 PM  

This was a fun but challenging puzzle in all of the right ways. Two thumbs up!

SteveHikes 1:32 PM  

Maybe the solver has to pause for a moment in order go down under four times??

Anoa Bob 1:38 PM  

I don't know if it's still there but the San Diego Zoo once had a KOALA exhibit. It was an enclosure with a single, large eucalyptus tree in the middle and one KOALA resident. I decided they were like pandas, cute as could be but with their very limited activity level, not very interesting to watch.

It's unusual to see a themed puzzle with a grid-spanning entry (7 Down) that is unrelated to the theme, no?

What caught this old POC watcher's attention was that PLATYPUS doesn't have the same number of letters as its symmetrical theme mates KANGAROO, VEGEMITE and DIDGERDOO. There is a shortcut to get around that little infelicity, just tack on an -ES and hardly anyone will notice the letter count inflation (LCI). There are also several two-for-one POCs, the kind where a Down and an Across share a final POCifying S that could be changed to a black square, the clues tweaked, and, other than symmetry and black square count, little or nothing of interest would be lost. Overall, this puzzle continues the "October is POC Month" tribute in fine form.

Swagomatic 1:51 PM  

Hard pass on the Vegemite. I have an Aussie neighbor, and he "let" me taste it. It's basically very thick, spreadable brown salt.

Nice puzz, though.

Joe Dipinto 2:19 PM  

@Nancy must have come across this. Some YouTube poster named Rayrei seems to have superimposed snippets of "Down Under" onto various cartoon scenes. Maybe as an in-joke of some sort.

Sharon AK 2:32 PM  

I thought the long down in the center was fun - putting" pause for a moment" down the in the very middle of the puzzle amused me.
Though admittedly in retrospect as I certainly didn't get it half way thru the puzzle.

jae 2:44 PM  

Medium. Delightful. Nice Debut. Liked it a bunch!

mathgent 2:45 PM  

@bocamp (12:50). Thanks. That song was big here around 1963. It was fun to sing. I had completely forgotten it.

sixtyni yogini 2:51 PM  

Hated it until🤯
I groked it😎
Then loved it.😍


LMS whisperer 3:00 PM  

@M&A and @Frantic: I took LMS's avatar to depict Marks (48D). POC Marky bros.

chefwen 3:24 PM  

Loved this one. Caught the theme very early with VEGE etim (nasty stuff), followed quickly with KANG oora. @Carola already mentioned all my other favorites.

My sticking point was in the NW, unknown, to me, author and book. Luckily, Puzzle Guy knew the book so I was able to pull it off.

Love me a good CUBANo sandwich.

Great debut Ms Hobbs, looking forward to the next one.

TTrimble 4:14 PM  

@John X

Re Johnny Mathis's and Frank Sinatra's circular breathing: I am very, very impressed. Circular breathing while playing an instrument like a trumpet is fairly commonplace, but for singing: it seems to me that would require enormous skill and practice, and it must be very rare. But thanks for mentioning this.

Anonymous 4:19 PM  

I hate it when people brag about how easy a Thursday puzzle is. I am almost always baffled by the obscure clues, such as today's dashes. I solved the puzzle but failed to see the words curling around down under. Maybe I will get smarter.

bocamp 4:29 PM  

@mathgent 2:45 PM - yw, mate! :)

The Rolling Stones - "Angie"

@Barbara S. 1:17 PM - Loved the "koala" poem; and, and the shout-out to my former home, "Walla Walla" :)

Traditional Didgeridoo Rhythms by Lewis Burns, Aboriginal Australian Artist

More re: "Didgeridoo"

Checked out "Vegemite" on Amazon; not the place to buy, me thinks. Better, head "Down Under" to Costco for a 950 g. "tub" @ $8.42 USD.

Gaither Vocal Band - Let "Freedom" Ring (Live)

Barry Manilow - Let "Freedom" Ring (Live)

Women's Trampoline Individual Final | Rio 2016

Tribute to Efrem Zimbalist Jr – The FBI TV Series Enhanced Opening and Credits

Peace ειρήνη Paz शांति Pace Frieden Paix Rangimarie Síocháin 🕊

Photomatte 4:40 PM  

30 Across ("Elflike") is FAY? Whoever heard of FAE being spelled with a Y? Not this guy. I've seen the word fae in print hundreds of times (I read a lot of Patrick Rothfuss), and it's never, ever, been spelled with a Y.

GHarris 4:40 PM  

The platypi??? led me to the light. Had Annie before Angie, not digging the damned circle breathing instrument. Lots of aha moments, especially trampoline and repomen. Overall, a nice workout.

RooMonster 5:19 PM  

I guess Americans can't bounce.
Never knew Trampolining was an Olympic Sport.
The things one learns from this blog. 🤔☺️👍

RooMonster I Bet I Can Do That Guy

Colin Hay 5:57 PM  

Nailed it with pltypuses, and breezed though in about 15 minutes, a great Thursday for me.
Forgive me if someone else posted this (busy week and can't read them all) but how did Rex miss Men at Work??

chinch 6:20 PM  

Nice catch

chinch 6:24 PM  

Glad you’re still alive @JOHN X 6.47 a.m.

Unknown 6:26 PM  

And Efram. I was stuck there for a good long while.

Bax'N'Nex 6:48 PM  

Z: so yesterday, “AKnot” was anathema, but today “THEKNOT” is fine???

Lewis 6:52 PM  

@unknown 11:03 -- [head slap!] I am really sorry about that -- my bad. Thank you for pointing it out so that I will be extra alert about that up the road.

bocamp 7:54 PM  

@RooMonster 5:19 PM - 👍

@Lewis 6:52 PM / @unknown 11:03 – Classy interaction between the two of you. Kudos! 🕊

More "trampoline" stuff for us duffers: 21 EASY and Basic TRAMPOLINE Jumps with PROGRESSION | TUTORIAL for BEGINNERS

Did "trampoline" in high school; could do a few of the basics.

Why aren't Americans a factor at the Olympics? Here's one take.

My thoughts: 1) so many other sports to choose from 2) perhaps a lack of accessible facilities 3) booking costs 4) training costs 5) need for spotters 6) risk of serious injury 7) too quiet/isolated 8) not glamorous enough.

Peace ειρήνη Paz शांति Pace Frieden Paix Rangimarie Síocháin 🕊

Z 8:00 PM  

*Wednesday Spoilers ahead***
@Bax’N’Nex - Articles are always suboptimal, so not loving the THE, but no, KNOT by itself, nor OAK are troublesome. To be clear, it wasn’t A KNOT that was the problem yesterday. It was AKNOTENOKIKUSHAHOKOKSKOOKYEEK that was the problem.

/***End Spoiler Alert

So let’s see, two Men at Work and one Stones link after I posted them initially at 9:45 a.m. Still no Midnight Oil relinks, though.

@Frantic Sloth - I thought I replied earlier but I must have botched it before taking the dogs on a walk. Anyway, it is an otherwise typical Walden, although oversized at 17x17, 83A notwithstanding. I may be repeating myself, but I was willing to accept it was a term I was not familiar with until I googled it and the only real usage I could find was in Good Housekeeping. That is not the place I go for music info, nor the place I expected to find out about Gwen Stefani’s domesticity.

ChuckD 8:29 PM  

@Z - Midnight Oil?? As an REM aficionado - you should be looking for The Triffids or Paul Kelly links.

TTrimble 8:52 PM  

I like your taste in song. I was taking voice lessons for a while, and Shenandoah was one of those songs whose emotional power would just hit me unexpectedly and cause me to choke up. Hard to explain.

John Denver and James Taylor are both very special. There's this short but very sweet duet between John Denver and Julie Andrews where he begins to sing, and as soon as she recognizes it she looks on the verge of saying, "Oh, you dear" before joining him singing Edelweiss. Their vibratos are synced in the loveliest way.

@Frantic Sloth
Oh, you've heard, have you? Yes, wailing out the elephant notes is a lot of fun. Say, you don't play the lips and aren't just holding back on me, are you?

Today's puzzle was very enjoyable. I don't know about those people who declare the puzzle trivial, but it was very doable, and brought back memories of life in Australia (lived in Sydney for two years). Would love to get back some time.

JC66 10:04 PM  


Obviously, @Nancy didn't see your link, so I thought I'd help.

Anonymous 10:40 PM  

Disagree. For once I saw the revealer early and it helped enormously. One of my fastest Thursdays. Fun!

Z 11:03 PM  

@Chuck D - The Triffids I have heard of, but I have totally missed Paul Kelly. I was tweeting last night that Torn is about as perfect a match between video and song as I have ever seen, and that was before doing the Aussie themed puzzle.

@JC66 - I was so gruntled that it took me a good 45 minutes to write that first comment because I was watching so many videos. The funniest thing is it took me several precious nanoseconds to figure out why Rex posted random Grease and INXS videos. D’Oh.

Jeff Ford 11:58 PM  

Guessed them but had no idea if they were right.

ASW-20 9:19 PM  


Anonymous 2:11 PM  

@photomatte 4:40 - I was so pleased that somebody picked up that fey FAY, but I must say I'd entirely disregarded FAE, the front half of Faerie. I was ungruntled that the puz wanted the obscure noun FAY for Elflike instead of the adjective FEY that doesn't work where it crosses DATUM. I wonder if Tina was irritated, too. I'm gonna vote for Anyone But Shortz.


rondo 10:32 AM  

Got the gimmick right off since the NW almost filled itself in. Thought the clue for REPOMEN was very clever. AWORD makes a big difference, going from the recent AKNOT to THEKNOT.

Dickinson, Everhart, Harmon, a list: ANGIE, baby, I still love ya, remember all those nights we cried? She just smiled and gave me a VEGEMITE sandwich.

Even with repeat answers, I liked this FOGIN puzzle.

thefogman 10:46 AM  

G’day mates! Liked this one a lot. In addition to the bonus themer KOALA there is 52D ONYX which is mined in AUSTRALIa.

Burma Shave 11:02 AM  


and MAORI MEN from near DOWNUNDER will regale ya,
‘cuz it’s TRU, they play THE DIDGERIDOO.


Michael Fleming 11:49 AM  

For a bit I thought those going along for the ride was kEPtMEN...

Diana, LIW 12:01 PM  

REPOMEN saved the day for me. A lot of smiles and a lot of triumph points as @Spacey would say. Did not think I could finish.

:-) :-)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, not DOUBLEingBACK

spacecraft 3:03 PM  

Stumbled onto the trick almost by accident, doing the downs in the NW. I could see PLATY emerging, but where were the -PUSES? Why, DOWNUNDER, of course! This was a marvelous theme, with all AUSTRALIAn things as themers, and even KOALA for good measure.

I shuddered when I met the RMK at 1-across, but the fill never got worse than that. Wasn't sure of the spelling of VEGEMITE (really, an actual brand name?), but knew EFREM was EFREM, junior or senior. Cool puzzle. Birdie.

leftcoaster 4:13 PM  

Took a while to uncover the theme and longer to come up with DIDGERIDOO, thanks to the crossing ANGIE and PIERS.

In some contrast, the gentle misdirection of "Bouncer’s equipment” for TRAMPOLINE was refreshing.

Thanks to Lindsey Hobbs for the clever Aussie challenge.

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