Link letters / TUES 10-27-20 / Candy heart sentiment / Hershey's foiled collection / Madre's hermana

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Hi, all!

Hope everyone has been doing well and staying healthy, as we seem to be getting a third (fourth? fifth?) wave of COVID right now. I've been just staying cooped up in my apartment still, dealing with online classes and work and distracting myself with sports. But sports have been so weird during the pandemic that it's hard to know how seriously to take them or how much credence to give the season. Obviously, football counts on every front — my Steelers are the only undefeated team left in the NFL. Soccer counts, too — Liverpool is currently tied at the top of the English Premier League table and seems to be in pretty good form. But baseball? The Dodgers look like they may very well win the World Series; so, as a SF Giants fan, I decree that this 2020 season is null and void.

Now on to the puzzle!

Constructor: Luci Bresette and David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Pretty easy

THEME: Phrases that are aptly clued by using the same letters from certain words and phrases

Theme answers:
  • POLITICS AS USUAL (15A: Apt phrase that uses just the letters of U.S. CAPITOL)
  • TREASURE HUNTER (25A: Apt phrase that uses just the letters of UNEARTHS)
  • GETTING MARRIED (42A: Apt phrase that uses just the letters of GRAND TIME)
  • TRAINING SEMINAR (56A: Apt phrase that uses just the letters of MASTERING)
Word of the Day: ESME (32A: "__ & Roy" (children's TV series)) —

Esme & Roy is an American/Canadian animated children's television series created by Dustin Ferrer and Amy Steinberg… The show follows a little girl named Esme and her best friend, a monster named Roy, who take care of all kinds of creatures when their regular guardians need aid. Esme and Roy was broadcast simultaneously on HBO in the United States and Treehouse TV in Canada on August 18, 2018… (Wiki)

• • •
Overall, this puzzle was just fine, The fill was almost all classic crosswordese, and the theme was a bit of a poor man's anagram. But, the theme did at least have some pop to it. POLITICS AS USUAL was definitely my favorite of the theme answers — it felt different and interesting (even though things are decidedly not politics as usual right now...). But then it's like the theme answers just got less and less interesting as they went down. TREASURE HUNTER had a bit of flair. GETTING MARRIED didn't entirely work — that seems like a very specific way of having the "grand time" specified in the clue. And then it's hard to get excited about a TRAINING SEMINAR.

As meh as the three-letter fill was, I did like some of the four-letter fill. I loved: 12A: Chaotic way to run as AMOK; 36D: Safe space? as BANK (even if I did try to put in "base" first); 51D: Link letters as HTTP; 62A: Things you might open with a click as PENS; and 64A: Hitch, say as KNOT. But my favorite word of the puzzle was the five-letter word: KAPUT (1D). How great a word is that?

There was some repetition in the clues/answers with PLUS (5A: Grade upgrade) and MINUS (13D: Grade downgrade) and with RAT (30D: 2020 Chinese zodiac animal) and PIG (34D: 2019 Chinese zodiac animal), but it didn't really bother me, even though I know it bothers some people. In this case, playing the clues off each other was pretty harmless. And, if you have to find a way to clue some ugly-ish words, you might as well have a bit of fun with it.

Some other nits... I generally don't like answers like I'M ON IT (2D: "Consider that done!") or ALL SET (44D: "Ready!") that could really be any number of things. I thought TABLE LINEN (28D) should have been plural as "table linens" — and it seems Google generally agrees with me. Also, TIDAL pools (16D) don't really seem to be what they're called at all (again, according to my very reliable source called Google) — they're "tide" pools. For 6D: Mascara target as LASH... You don't put mascara on just one LASH — you put it on lashes! Seriously — try putting mascara on just a single lash... you can't! SOLO ARTISTS (3D: Ones who play alone) don't always play alone... You can be a soloist, but you're usually still going to need a band to back you up or dancers or something! And, finally, I didn't know ESME & Roy (32A). It's apparently an American/Canadian animated kids TV show that's been around for just two seasons, so that feels pretty obscure, no?

  • I clearly remember finishing JODI Picoult’s “My Sister’s Keeper” — I decided to read the final 20 pages or so during science class in 8th grade, and *slight spoiler alert* the ending is verrryy sad. So I was on the verge of bawling in class while my teacher went on and on about how the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell or something like that! (If you can’t tell, I wasn’t exactly paying attention.) 
  • I figured out EGGO was the answer for 54D: Pop-up breakfast brand and immediately thought, “L’eggo my eggo,” despite not having heard that phrase in years, so I’d say that was some successful marketing on EGGO’s part! 
  • TILT at windmills (60A) is just a lovely phrase! 
  • PICCHU in the puzzle (5D) reminded me of this heart-warming story where Peru opened up Machu PICCHU for just one day so a 26-year-old Japanese tourist who’d waited for seven months in Peru could finally go in and see it! 
  • I dunno if anyone here does the mini crossword puzzle, as well… but this feels wayyy too soon. There are so many other Amys out there — pick literally any of them to clue to!!
Have a great week!

Signed, Clare Carroll, fan of the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:54 AM  

Easy. A Spelling Beeish theme which I didn’t really need. The phrases became obvious from the downs so the puzzle went pretty quickly.

Odd clue for ESME. Where’s Salinger when you need him?

Very smooth but a tad wonky. Liked it and Jeff at Xwordinfo gave it POW. Nice debut for Luci.

Joe Dipinto 1:24 AM  

Yes, people here do the Mini. And those people will not be happy that you spoiled it for them.

bocamp 1:27 AM  

Thank you, @Luci & David for the "anagrammatic" adventure. Lots of fun, for sure. :)

@Claire, always enjoy your write ups! Thank you, and stay safe. :)

Immediate success in the NW with "I'm on it", and the rest fell with just the slightest bit of resistance. No holdups worth noting. Smack dab ave. time.

New to me: "Jodi" Picoult; "Esme" (as clued)

"Politics as usual" is apropos.

Lots of "Uno" at our house.

Created lots of "treasure hunts" for my grade 8s (academic skills built in, of course); always a fun time for the kids and staff.

Many "training seminars" through the years. Enjoyed and benefited from most of them.

"Long Way Up" on Apple TV+ had "Machu Picchu" as one of its featured stopovers; there's some great video footage of Ewan McGregor and his friend Charley Boorman touring the site.

"Usain Bolt" has got to be in the running for the most aptly named athlete ever.

Peace Frieden Paz 平和 🕊

Frantic Sloth 2:27 AM  

I liked the clue for USAIN (Lightning) Bolt, though I wonder if it's been used before now. I'd be surprised if it hasn't been, but I don't recall.

The theme was clever and easy enough for a Tuesdee. But, I flew through this entire puzzle like I was smart or somethin'. What's that about?? (Oops - forgot to post my ***Rhetorical Question Warning***)

Once again, not a lot to say, so I'll just ask a stupid question:

Was Circe a TIDAL SIREN?

Tol' ya it was stoopit.


chefwen 2:46 AM  

I used the word KAPUT just two days ago when I informed my husband that the water heater was KAPUT. And it was, he spent the entire day installing a new one, he was nor pleased.

15A made me cringe. I’ve had enough POLITICS talk to last me a lifetime. I’m over it.

Time to go on a TREASURE HUNT, drink a little wine and GET MERRy.

Anonymous 4:07 AM  

Why would clues or answers have to conform with the solvers views and opinions? This is a word game, and today's Amy was particularly timely, no matter what we think of her views and opinions (if we only knew what they were).

Conrad 6:12 AM  

I see that a Steinberg (David) is a co-constructor and a Steinberg (Amy) is a co-creator of Esme & Roy. Coincidence? Perhaps not.

@Frantic: No, she wasn't. She couldn't even use the TITLE "SIREN"

ChuckD 6:18 AM  

Liked this one today - smooth solve. Theme was akin to the spelling bee - POLITICS AS USUAL and TREASURE HUNTER are really solid. You’ll have some who feel that GETTING MARRIED was not a grand time and TRAINING SEMINAR is boring. Overall fill clean and pleasant. Liked the KISS x KAPUT to start. I’m with @jae - when I see ESME I think of Salinger and yes @Clare TILT at windmills is lovely.

Very comfortable Tuesday puzzle - this week has some promise.

Dave 6:23 AM  

Very cheerful and intelligent write-up. Thanks!

Lewis 6:53 AM  

Sometimes learning the story behind a puzzle adds so much to its enjoyment. Here we have a puzzle with a theme that’s never been done before, for one thing, never (read Jeff Chen on XwordInfo today)! Then you see that the constructors found their theme answers among 11,000 possibilities (generated by a David-made computer program)! After which they make a Sunday puzzle – Do you know how much time it takes to fill one of those in, not to mention write 140 clues for!? – only to have it rejected, with the suggestion of turning it into a daily puzzle. So they make ANOTHER puzzle, which does get accepted. All this effort went into today’s puzzle, not to mention the backstory of an uber-experienced constructor mentoring one for whom this becomes a first NYT publication.

Plus, this grid is a thing of beauty, so lacking in junky answers, and including a double palindromic cross (AVA and EVE), a KISS up, RAT out, and PIG out, as well as the pair of ANTE and A BET.

Thus a lovely puzzle to solve, enhanced by its history.

One more thing. If you shift LUCI and DAVID’s names one letter, you get two descriptors that I believe fit this offering: LUCID and AVID.

jsloate 6:54 AM  

Clare, for sure n the 5 x 5 I felt the same........way to soon!

mathgent 7:06 AM  

Another example of a puzzle that Jeff Chen names his POW but which isn’t much fun to solve. Jeff cares about the novelty of the theme and how well the constructor carries it off.

There was a bit of fun in figuring out the four long acrosses. Knowing that the letters were from the capitalized phrase in the clue didn’t help much. It was about guessing the phrase from the crosses.

The cluing was straightforward and the entries commonplace. Twenty four of them were Terrible Threes. This crabgrass didn’t leave much room for long entries, only two besides the four themers.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

No disrespect to Clare, but I was sooooo looking forward to reading Rex's review today. So often his scorn is misdirected at perfectly enjoyable puzzles. But today really called for his brand of unfettered ire.

BEE-ER 7:39 AM  


@Z. I don't recall you ever mentioning the BEE but today's is in your honor.

Hungry Mother 8:13 AM  

Agree with the SBishness of the themers. BTW, today’s is a real treat. Did the themers on the downs. Very easy, but a medium time.

Joaquin 8:44 AM  

My initial thought on getting to the first theme clue was, "This will be duck soup for all those SB fans." Then I wondered why "duck soup"? Seems there is no clear evidence for why "duck soup" means "easy". And, IMO, it is a rather weird expression unless someone is throwing a can of Campbell's at your head.

In that case, you should definitely yell a warning: "Duck. Soup!"

pabloinnh 8:52 AM  

So how far did everyone get into the review before deciding OFL had a day off? I think it was the first sentence that did it for me.

I was humming along until I got stuck in the SE by filling in IDEAL for DREAM, then thinking of the wrong Kevin-Garnett instead of Durant, and I spelled Garnet wrong too, which made the long themers very mysterious. Finally got it straightened out, eliciting the "Obvs."/DUH Daily Double.

Otherwise smelt-smooth and enjoyable enough for a Tuesday, so thanks to LB, aided by the veteran DS, for the fun.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

Surprised that Clare is unaware of the spoiler ban on this blog. Disappointing.

TJS 8:54 AM  

If this is the POW, what kind of trash are we in for?

Z 9:13 AM  



Why am I not surprised that a computer was used to come up with the theme? Computers are really good at sifting and sorting so we don’t have to subject ourselves to such drudgery. If I ever needed any justification for disliking most of the puzzles Chen creates the fact that he thinks this deserves his POW is proof that we just don’t agree on what is interesting in puzzling. So, yes, hand-up for ignoring the “clues” and getting the themers from pattern recognition. This might have been a decent themeless, but who knows?

I feel like we got this ESME clue once before. I’m as removed from pre-schoolers as possible, so I have no idea if it’s culturally relevant to merit being a NYTX clue, or if Shortz just got bored with Salinger clues and ESME & Roy was the most likely candidate he could find at Wikipedia.

@Frantic Sloth - This is the go to USAIN clue, you have definitely seen it before.

@Conrad - Not every “SIREN” has to be an actual, mythological SIREN. I think TIDAL SIREN is the perfect lol funny descriptor of Circe. Besides, I got to write “ actual, mythological” and chortle.

@BEE -ER - I don't recall you ever mentioning the BEE - Does my intro today suggest to you why that might be? I’m much more of a Beer-er than a Bee-er. I have made two BEE related comments here, having made both several times; I can’t imagine an activity more boring and if people who do enjoy it want to comment here with their SB Alerts - just skip them, don’t complain about the SB comments.

Unknown 9:14 AM  

I think any ecologist or marine biologist would use TIDAL pools over tide pools (which is what a 10 year old might use).
I liked this puz simply because there was no ETTA or ENO or EKE or hint of Harry Potter. So I give it a thumbs up, on an otherwise sad day, with COVID cases continuing to rise and a crazy, science-denier voted onto the SCOTUS. Ugh. Just ugh.

EdFromHackensack 9:15 AM  

dont spoil the Mini!!!

Anonymous 9:23 AM  


Circe was an enchantress not a siren.

Z 9:28 AM  

@Joaquin - HAR! I think all puzzles of this ilk should henceforth be called “Duck! Soup” puzzles.

@TJS - There’s hope. Chen really likes this kind of letter-play so over-values this kind of dreck.

Didn’t the mods delete a Mini-spoiler just yesterday? I only rarely bother with them, but still.

@pabloinnh - I realize it’s a typo, but I still really like the notion of “smelt-smooth.” My medium roast coffees are smelt-smooth while my dark roast are more smelt-rough. I imagine the marina in Rye is smelt-smelt.

Sybil DiScourse 9:32 AM  

@frantic....maybe she was a TACIT siren....nodding and shrugging her shoulders as she beckoned them to their doom

RooMonster 9:38 AM  

Hey All !
Puz gets a Meh from me. As much as I like Jumbles and such, this one didn't seem to light a fire under my ass. Part of it is the grid. As @mathgent (usually) points out the Less-Than-6-Letter-Fill (today he only did his Terrible Threes), today's puz is mostly small words. Was looking for a Rex explosion (Rexplosion?) on the shortiness. We get 24 3's, 28 4's, 16 5's. Only 4 6's, and two long 10 Downs, plus the obligatory long Themers, 2 14's and 2 15's. So (not good at percentage math, help on that @mathgent?) that's 68 5's or less words compared to 6 longer plus the 4 themers.

Or am I being too nitpicky? :-)

Steelers Baby! From Scranton area of PA originally, (gonna age myself...) grew up watching the Super Bowl frenzy 70's team, became a fan for life. Even through the dark times of the 80's and 90's! (Well, we did get into Super Bowl XXX, lost to Dallas.)

Flew through puz til came to a jarring stop in the center section. Name troubles. JONI and ESME didn't welcome me into their fold. Plus to me, tough clues on UNDUE, JEST, REALM, SIREN, TACIT. But stuck it out, and persevered with no cheats! And got the Happy Tune! (Literally today, forgot my speaker was plugged in, and actually heard the Happy Music!) [Aside on speaker, got my computer updated to Windows10, waited until the free upload ended (figures... didn't know about the freeness) so had to go to Office Depot and get it installed, but ever since, the internal speaker won't Speak. So a buddy gave me some plug-in speakers, and I usually have them off, but had it plugged in today from being on Facebook.]
Aren't you glad you read all that?

Anyway, a nice theme idea that seemed to fizzle a bit. One man's opinion. :-)

And No F's! (MINUS)

Nancy 9:47 AM  

Clever, playful, original, fun to solve. This puzzle would be welcome on any day, but on a Tuesday, it's a godsend. Congrats on the debut, Luci. And as for you, David, you can do my early week puzzles for me every single week, as far as I'm concerned. My favorite themer is POLITICS AS USUAL -- a perfect epithet for the U.S. CAPITAL, especially now.

In addition to the theme, some lovely clues for BANK; PENS and HENCE. And I liked the answers KAPUT for its playfulness and TABLE LINEN for its evocation of elegance from an earlier era. It sounds so "Downton Abbey". Today we'd just say "tablecloth", right? Assuming the restaurant even gave us one.

I'm glad this got the POW. I enjoyed it a lot.

Sir Hillary 9:53 AM  

Rex would have shredded this, with a much harsher version of @Z's oft-used news flash.

As for me, I found it so easy that I solved almost exclusively via downs. Never came close to reading any of the theme clues until the end, which is definitely for the better.

Solving top to bottom, when I had POLITICSASUSUAL and TREASUREHUNTER, I thought for a fleeting minute we might have a provocative puzzle with entries like IVANKARAMAZOV, MICHAELLANDONJR, WHITERICE and LAURAASHLEY. Alas, no. Then again, there is too much tragedy on the Biden side of that equation to make it palatable.

@Clare -- I am bought-in on your Stillers.

pmdm 9:54 AM  

Don't know if its been mentioned that none of the theme entries contain letters that are duplicated. In the clue, not the answer. Can't say I'm impressed. Can't say knowing that resulted in my enjoying the puzzle.

I tend to enjoy a Chen puzzle much more than Z, but I would join him in looking sideway at Jeff today for awarding this puzzle a POW. For whatever reason, too many of Steinberg entries seem to rub me the wrong way. I hope I will resond more positively to Bresette's efforts as a SOLO ARTIST.

Azzurro 9:55 AM  

Well said, Clare. Beat LA!

Sami 10:01 AM  

Here's what I think. I was enjoying the World Series until you spoilered it by telling me the Rays are somehow not going to win. And I don't know a single person in the world who watched the scramble to stay in it that happened a couple of games ago. Not one, other than my husband. I actually slept thru it.

Bottom of the 9th with 2 outs and the Tampa Bay Rays Bret Phillips gets up to bat with 2 dudes on base, a score of 7 to 6 Dodgers. A full count so one more pitch and the Dodgers win. Phillips hits a single. Something in space/time is awry, and a Ray named Arozarena, (who was a Royal up until a few weeks ago) decides it's time to score, even though he's the trailing runner at first base, and a Dodger bobbles the ball, and Arozarena decides to stick around for Inning #10, and then another Dodger fumbles and Arozarena turns around to go the other way (!), dives headfirst into home with the go-ahead run and the Rays celebrate in the last inning of game 4 -- declared the wildest win ever. I know. How boring is baseball? How can you not pay attention when every puzzle has a clue related to baseball? Doesn't anyone but me like baseball, for this very reason? I have no one to talk about it with - and I work in an engineering firm full of dudes.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

i come here for commentary on the crosswords, not to hear some fairweather fan praise a football team with a quarterback who has a history of sexual assault

Sami 10:08 AM  

Oops, I lied about there being a full count when Phillips hit. You can watch the play and its many Dodger errors here:

pabloinnh 10:16 AM  

@Z-Actually not a typo, at least from my end. "Smooth as a smelt" is something I got from the "Bert and I" recordings and I just tweaked that to save space and time, I guess. Not sure why, as I have plenty of both.

Also, I have seen fistfights break out along one of our local creeks during smelt season, when some of the boys take these things very seriously.

GILL I. 10:32 AM  

You must remember this
A KISS is just a KISS
Philadelphia running AMOK...POLITICS AS USUAL...I JEST not.
RAT BRATS and PIGs SPUN out of control. A SIREN here and there... Don't worry....I"M ON IT.
It see that only David could DREAM up GETTING MARRIED tying the KNOT for a LUV fest Tuesday puzzle on a miserable day. And Luci helped or he helped her with an interesting Tuesday that did very little for me. conjured up images. My LASH runneth over.
Now to go find a PEA to disrupt my sleep.......

Z 10:51 AM  

@pabloinnh - Ah. I assumed you meant “felt smooth.” By the time a smelt gets to me it has been breaded and deep fried, so “smooth as smelt” is a new one to me. Still, pondering “smelt-smooth” was more amusing than this theme. Hey - is that a NE play on “smooth as felt?”

@Sami - My favorite teams not from Detroit are Tampa and San Diego. The pure joie de baseball they both exhibit is fantastic. Did you see this? It made me think they’d be great teammates on any Ultimate team. A perfect outcome to me would be 3 Kershaw wins and Rays in 7 (I know - not possible). I hate the entire “Kershaw chokes” sports talk show BS, but want the Rays to win. Although Mookie making a game saving catch wouldn’t be the worst thing, either. That Mookie doesn’t play for Boston or the Yankees also makes me happy.

@Anon late yesterday- No, I really don’t. Try google and include the word “critique” or “criticism.”

Carola 11:05 AM  

I'm with @kitshef and @Sir Hilary in having looked forward to an excoriation by @Rex. As a Jumble-phobe, I reacted to the theme with an "Ugh." In the past, when commenters have written that they solved an early-week puzzle as a themeless, I've thought, "Why would you do that?" Well, I take it all back; now I understand.
I liked the clue for PAIL and the fact that GETTING MARRIED is based at least partly on LUV.

Whatsername 11:08 AM  

Really liked it and thought it was fun while still mildly challenging, a great Tuesday for someone in crossword TRAINING. I titled it “anagrams on steroids” and kept thinking all the SBers would probably SAIL through this one. I liked all the theme answers but POLITICS AS USUAL is especially timely and apropos. Congratulations to Luci on a stellar debut and to both constructors on Puzzle of the Week. Well done!

Hello Clare, fan of the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, from a fan of the World Champion Kansas City Chiefs. Enjoyed your writeup today, as always. Glad you’re staying safe and relishing your team’s outstanding season so far. And how about Big Ben? What a comeback he’s having!! Don’t forget to stock up on the BRATS and IPA for game day.

Barbara S. 11:10 AM  

My fellow Rexites, I don’t want to fight about the presence of Spelling Bee comments on this blog, and anyway, it’s a fight that cannot be won by the SB group. This is a NYTXW blog and its mandate is to discuss that puzzle and air all issues and stories that may arise from it. But I’m torn between two views. On the one hand, if Rex and the Mods are willing to permit SB comments, I feel they should be permitted and tolerated. But there’s another hand. If it’s the will of the commentariat to ban these comments, I feel there’s no real choice. Over the past week, there have been very few “SB Alerts” (some days have had none, others 1 or 2). Because of this relative scarcity, I thought yesterday we could post a few more (by my count, a total of 5 SB Alerts starting at 2:12 p.m.). But it seems that the use of the SB warning, designed to allow the majority to pass over these comments with ease, now annoys rather than ameliorates. And maybe there are concerns about the thin edge of the wedge leading to a proliferation of SB posts.

It’s been suggested that the SBers here transfer their discussion to the SB thread on the NYT Wordplay blog. I’ve had a look there and find that, for myself, there are too many spoilers to read those comments while still in the process of solving.

I don’t know whether the feeling of this body is to eliminate all SB posts now and forever, or if some modest level of discussion can be tolerated. Could a compromise be forged based, for example, on a maximum number of posts per day (policed by either the SBers themselves or the Mods) and/or a time-of-day proscription (no SB comments until, say, after 5 p.m., when XW commentary normally thins out)? Obviously, we’d need Mod input here along with the views of the commentariat.

We are the Rex Familia. I have a warm feeling about this group and I don’t want us to fracture. If you want SB commentary to go, I think I can speak for others when I say we’ll subside. But is there any room for further discussion? I leave it to you.

Frantic Sloth 11:17 AM  

Thanks @Conrad 612am (and TITLE SIREN - good one!) What do I know from Greek (or any) mythology? The sleeves on all my clothing are worn thin from carting my ignorance around. 😕
After looking it up (hmmm. Coulda done that before, but whatever) I learned there were only 2 or 3 (it varies) of them, which surprised me. I always pictured about a dozen of them, lying around on the rocks like seals. All slovenly and slutty and stuff.

@Lewis 653am Well, golly. When you put it like that...👍

@Z 928am Funny. I always thought the Rye marina was "smelt dealt" as in "he who smelt it..."

aeevans 11:53 AM  

I am barely keeping my head above the swamp in DC. I did not need the Mini to throw more in my face. Shame on the NYT.

foxaroni 11:57 AM  

My brain simply was not working today. I found the puzzle to be Very Hard. Couldn't come up with "pea" as a sleep disrupter, wanted "beginning to a logical conclusion" to be SINCE rather than "hence," which meant I was getting nowhere on "link letters." My only guess was BOTH, as in "both Amy and Clarence..."

Always loved the Steelers' Mean Joe Green Coke commercial, so a fondness for the team. But my allegiance will always be with the Chiefs. YMMV.

Z 12:05 PM  

@Barbra S - Such a very kind and thoughtful comment. I’m still ticked off that people complained about @Lewis’ PPPs way back when and he stopped doing them.* As a result I’m a bit more hard-assed about it. The SBers post alerts.** Don’t want to read it, then don’t. Don’t like @Nancy’s writing style or my liberal views or @M&A’s folksy writing style? Just skip our comments and go on. Nobody is forcing anyone to read anything here. Nobody is forcing you to read Rex. There are three other daily blogs if you don’t like what you’re seeing here. Don’t bitch, go away. You’ll be happier and so will we.***

*My PPP is a small tip of my cap to @Lewis’ Post Puzzle Puzzlers. Yes, people actually complained to Rex. I’m still mad about it and irked that Rex told @Lewis rather than tell the complainers to take a long walk off the short pier in Rye.****

**Note - I’d rather take a wooden rollercoaster ride in January in Rye than do the Spelling Bee.

*** Or just stop bitching and learn to ignore the comments like most of us non-interested people do.

**** For people wondering about all the references to Rye, NY - Rye was clued on some Saturday as a town with a marina. The clue would have been just as informative if it had said “three letter word,” and thus resulted in much venting. Rye is now synonymous with the Hotel California for some of us. You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.

Masked and Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Different theme idea. Sorta a "Spelling Beast" dealy. M&A likes different.

Crucial theme-related BTWs:
1. SOLOARTIST uses just the letters of IT'S ORAL.
2. TABLELINEN uses just the letters of ANT BILE.

Admired the PLUS/MINUS co-op cluefest. Someone is kinda concerned about their grades.

@Roo spotted that the average word length sags a tad bit, in this puz. Probably cuz it hits the 78 max on words, plus has a generous 42 black square count. Without the six black "cheater squares", U would get quite a few more 6-long entries. A couple of them cheaters were needed to accommodate 14-long themers, tho.

staff weeject pick: LUV. As in: Gotta LUV that LUV uses just its own letters.

Liked the way the grid fired up with a KAPUT and a KISS, right outta the chute. Found the solvequest fairly smoooth, other than spendin a few extra nanoseconds tryin to crack open the theme answers.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Luci darlin and Steinberg dude. And congratz to Ms. Bresette on her half-debut.

Masked & Anonymo10Us


egsforbreakfast 12:17 PM  

Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!!!! That’s how I feel when I see teenagers writing code to generate a POW from Jeff Chen, who could undoubtedly add some additional code to eliminate the need for humans to sort through the 11,000 ostensibly valid results to find four or five that might seem apt for human consumption.. if you like this approach to crosswords (programmable concept refined by massive sifting of data output) you might also like watching high-speed machine chess. This feels like early and gloomy days of what may become an interesting sub-genre of cruciverbalism, but right now it’s 90% constructor joy and 10%solver. (or 9.2% if Lewis is out of commission that day).. how about we program for words that when intertwined letter-by letter with other words form recognizable phrases or geographical names? Or how about taking long quotations that contain the letters that spell out their mothers maiden name? This could be done. It’s just a matter of programming plus tedium. Like today’s puzzle, no one would think it was especially clever. Just an executed concept.

Sorry for the rant. Maybe I’ll shut up until Election Day.

johnk 12:20 PM  
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johnk 12:21 PM  

Already spoiled, out of the gate.

johnk 12:22 PM  


johnk 12:30 PM  
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What? 12:37 PM  

Too easy. Got fills without even “deciphering”’ theme.
Easy and not interesting. I just don’t like anagrams, especially in crosswords - the two don’t mix.
Another example of difficult to construct but no fun to solve.

Whatsername 12:47 PM  

@Roo (9:38) Aging myself along with you, but I also have fond memories of the Steelers of that era and their glory years with Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Joe Greene et al. These days I’m mostly a closet fan, well at least so long as they’re not head to head with my beloved Chiefs.

@Barbara S (11:10) Since you asked, I don’t mind the SB comments and often take the time to read them, but I also appreciate the “spoiler alerts” for those days when I’d rather not. I do notice that some days there can be quite a few of them so if it’s bugging others, I think the suggestion of holding off until later in the day is a good solution.

@foxaroni (11:57) Good to know there is a fellow Chiefs fan on here. There may be others, but @Joaquin is the only one I know of besides me. I’ve already outed myself as an oldie (see above), so I have no qualms about admitting that I’ve been watching them since Super Bowl One.

Richardf8 12:52 PM  

Why would you come here before you did your puzzles?

Charley 12:53 PM  


Newboy 1:16 PM  

Thanks Clare for subbing again. Congrats Luce for your debut grid with the double play Cardinal assist from David. Any minor distraction from the insistent onslaught of POLITICS AS USUAL with the texting added to clotted TV airwaves is truly appreciated. This was one of those days when I read @Lewis & saw Chen’s POW selection and could see why they appreciate the grid more than I. Still not convinced, however, that today’s offering was a superior effort....probably just my grumpy ole man gene raising its ugly DNA again. Somehow using a database to generate possibilities seems like a cheat, but I do realize it’s just another tool for the crafting artist’s use.

Richardf8 1:24 PM  

Enjoyed this puzzle. The theme was useful to the solve, most of the fill was clued interestingly.

Anoa Bob 1:27 PM  

As a regular reader of these pages for over a decade, the increasing number of SB comments over the past few months has me wondering "If there is so much interest in the SB, why doesn't someone start a dedicated SB blog site?"

The off topic comments on this board would be a minor and understandable bump in the road if this were the only option, the only place to make them. But that isn't the case and that turns a minor annoyance into a pesky nuisance.

Here are some options:

1) Get in touch with the NYT puzzle people---Sam Ezersky is the SB editor---and suggest a dedicated SB comment page similar to Deb Amlen's Wordplay. Who knows, maybe one of yous could become the editor and bring in some extra $!

2) Start your own SB blog. The basic package at is free and posts can be made and readers respond. Grow and develop from there.

3) Use social media. There has to be options on Face Plate or Snatch Chat or some such site where that could happen.

4) Use emails. Develop a list of SBers who could exchange comments.

5) Get in touch with one of the Spell Casters and see what it would take to make an SB blog site happen.

6) Excahnge cards and letters. Sure, it's a bit slow but the Post Office could use the business!

7)If all else fails, just continue to hitch a ride on this blog and tell the regulars who come here for crossword puzzle comments that if they don't like it, they can trump it. Go somewhere else. That kind of attitude seems to be prevalent these days, right?

bocamp 1:32 PM  

A "kiss" is still a kiss - Sammy Davis Jr - As Time Goes By (Live in Germany 1985)

"Nala" and Dean on the road.

"On this episode of Soulmates, meet Dean and "Nala". Dean found Nala on the side of the road while he was biking his way through Bosnia. Now, these two best friends are biking across the world together."

@Charley 12:53 PM - thx for the "Ray" Bolger vid :)


-1 pangrammatic

Peace Frieden Paz 平和 🕊

Tom Wieder 1:33 PM  

Rex- You're obviously not a classical music fan, where concerts can be, or include, an artist performing totally alone (e.g. Itzhak Perlman, Yoyo Mah, Vladimir Horowitz and many others.

Frantic Sloth 1:42 PM  

@Barbara S 1110am I knew if I waited long enough, someone would answer for me - what @Z 1205pm said.

Speaking of...

@Z 1205pm What were the Post Puzzle Puzzlers that evil @Lewis did? Can you give an example that doesn't cause a nuclear holocaust?
I mean really! I'm pissed and I wasn't even here!

Speaking of the Eagles, who can forget this gem?
No disrespect, but it do take talent to lose an election to a dead guy.

Mark Rosenfield 2:36 PM  
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Anonymous 2:52 PM  

i come here for commentary on the crosswords, not to hear some fairweather fan praise a football team with a quarterback who has a history of sexual assault


i come here for commentary on the crosswords, not to hear some fairweather zealot praise a Political Party with a Dear Leader who has a history of sexual assault

The current judge has said to let the trial go forward. Good on him!

Maddiegail 2:58 PM  

Thanks, foxroni (@11:57). Was beginning to think I was out here all alone in my "Good Gawd, Maud, are you sure this is a Tuesday?" puzzle world!

Frantic Sloth 3:12 PM  

Dontcha just hate it when a video jumps to the next one before you can copy the link? 🙄

Speaking of the Eagles, who can forget this gem?


johnk 3:22 PM  

I do the mini daily, in my head. Today I got a headache! Plenty of others out there: Klobuchar, Winehouse, McGrath, ice cream, organic foods ...

Joe Dipinto 4:15 PM  

@Richardf8 12:52 – I should have said *some* people. I suppose some solvers do the X-word first and save the Mini for later, and come to read Rex in between? In any case, there have been occasional complaints when the Mini got spoiled in the comments.

Ernonymous 4:22 PM  

Spelling Ber Question- not spoiler - Question:
If you get Genius, does that mean you found all the words? How do you know how many words there are? Is that the Queen Bee when you get all of them? I've heard people say that but it's not listed in the scoring. Grazie!

Ernonymous 6:03 PM  

Oh crap, well what do you know? The first and only time Ive posted an SB post happens to be today. I don't see it posted yet, I posted it and then read the comments. Probably best to read then post!
I'm sorry. I'm not an SBer and I relate to the annoyance at all the SB posts. I usually just skip them though.

I tried the SB the past few days, after being very against it since I got this app in February. One thing I can say, it can kill a ton of time and get your mind off the election and other nagging issues. It's not the world's most fun, but one of the best time wasters and mind clearers out there.

When my post comes thru about the SB, don't blow your tops. I didn't realize all the bad vibes. I won't do it again.

BarbieBarbie 6:38 PM  

I think the Mini was a wink from Joel F, since he and a couple of others are the only people who could have made the deadline with a puzzle written after the *confirmation.
Not a PR but close to it, and I’m not an SB-er either. (FWIW, go ahead, @Barbara! The SB Alert clues us in to buzz to the next comment if we don’t like it. It’s no different from skipping or looking for particular commenters).
@Lewis, I can’t believe Mr. Sharp asked you to knock off the PPP and you DID. I would have just signed on as a different commenter, maybe @ThisIsNotLewis, and made my point. Unless it violates blog rules, it’s fair,. Maybe in the comics it’s ok to censor people’s opinions and then express shock, shock! when it happens to famous people. Not here, though, or it shouldn’t be.

bocamp 7:32 PM  


Peace Frieden Paz 平和 🕊

Anonymous 8:09 PM  

What the F is wrong with you people?

Anonymous 8:15 PM  

Re: Rye marina
In all fairness, it’s z who incessantly posts about the marina. In fact, I know of kno questions regarding its appearance in the comments.
Of course, z was the party who beefed the clue in the first place. So, he’s not only pointing to but laughing at his own, ahem, joke.
If you’re reading z, and you are, the horse is dead. You can stop beating it.
And if you ever leave the hustings, be sure to drop by my childhood home. It’s gorgeous.

—John Jay ( Rye resident)

Lewis 9:40 PM  

@barbiebarbie -- I'm sorry to say, I have no idea what you're talking about! Can you explain, or email me???

dadnoa 9:42 PM  

+1 for Richard’s comment. I totally agree with Clare, thought exactly the same thing, and am glad she called it out!

Monty Boy 10:07 PM  

I liked this one a lot. Don't mind the mixed up answers. I fall into the category of doing the downs until the answer appeared.

We lived in Pittsburgh 1970 to 1980 so got all the Stiller mania, terrible towel, Myron Cope excitement. I still like the Steelers, but I've decided I root for the uniforms as much as the players - I don't know them as well and the Steel Curtain, et. al. My favorite was Rocky Blier - unlikely pro football player, lotsa class.

Nancy 10:18 PM  

Well, at least I haven't lost my own everlovin' mind. I read BarbieBarbie's post, thought: "What did Lewis say today that I completely missed?", went back to read your comment from early this morning, and whatever she's alluding to simply wasn't there. So, FWIW, I'm just as baffled as you are, Lewis.:)

Z 10:43 PM  

@Lewis & @Nancy - See my 12:05 rant.

Lewis 8:54 AM  

@Z and @Barbiebarbie -- Aha, now I understand...

thefogman 10:10 AM  

Meh... The first themer nailed it. The second one was okay. But the last two were clunkers that had little to do with their clues. Because you had to use some of the letters more than once, these were not true anagrams and that bummed me out because I LUV anagrams. I can KNOT TEL a LIE. This one gets a C MINUS

spacecraft 11:17 AM  

Can't go too far wrong with a DS, although the long downs, SOLO[ART]IST and TABLELINENS don't exactly thrill one to the marrow, and there's a ton of threes. The theme is good; I suspect there's a really rich source for more of the same. As has been said, they lead with their best shot, POLITICSASUSUAL. Right away I knew @M&A would like the double-digit U's.

Amongst all those "weejects" are UMA, AVA and EVE, but today let's go with JODI Picoult for DOD. This one holds Tuesday's slot just fine; par.

Burma Shave 11:25 AM  


While in TRAINING for LUV
HENCE IT'S just KNOT enough


rondo 11:39 AM  

Wow. 14 and 15 letter phrases using *ONLY* 8 or 9 letters. Amazing feat. PLUS a couple dozen threes. And the east half is full of SIRENs: UMA AVA EVE JODI ESME ELSA, take that, SIS. NUN in the west.

The corners will get you a SLO POKE.

Did not LUV it.

Diana, LIW 12:28 PM  

Today (and yesterday, I may have been remiss in posting) were fine and dandy Monday and Tuesday puzzles. Good ole DS (who is not so old, but no longer so very young) and Luci, too.

Hey @Foggy - at least GETTINGMARRIED was a grand time and not a "mastering" event. Yes?

Not a lot else to say. It's still 2020.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

thefogman 1:14 PM  

Good one Burma. You really ought to put out a book.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

The Kansas City Star edition published 12/1/20 did NOT have a clue for 40 Across. This is strange because it was not at the bottom where it might be cut off but instead should have been about 4.5 in. down the 9 in column of clues. Any other editions experience this? The NY Times commenters said nothing so I assume their edition was correct.

leftcoaster 3:13 PM  

Unrelated themers based on selected letters? Doesn’t sound like a winner, but they’re all interesting phrases, and it works well enough for me at least.

LUV and KISSes to the ladies from UMA to ELSA and several others along the way.

Oh, and Luci, too. (Hi, David.)

Diana, LIW 3:15 PM  

@Anon 2:02 - 40A Breeze (through) - does show up in my Syndie paper.

Lady Di

leftcoaster 3:28 PM  

DUH! Missed the theme. Very clever of Luci and David.

rondo 3:55 PM  

@anon 2:02 both the Mpls and St. Paul papers had the 40a clue as @D,LIW noted. The last 2 Sundays the St. Paul paper has had several missing and incomplete clues. Frustrating, no?

leftcoaster 5:45 PM  

...but as @mathgent 7:06 AM said way above:

"There was a bit of fun in figuring out the four long acrosses. Knowing that the letters were from the capitalized phrase in the clue didn’t help much. It was about guessing the phrase from the crosses.”

Trying to cover my tracks (and his?).

rondo 6:11 PM  

That was the gist of my comment:
Wow. 14 and 15 letter phrases using *ONLY* 8 or 9 letters. Amazing feat.

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