Potent strain of marijuana / WED 10-14-20 / Soap that comes in blue-green bars / Low creaky speaking register / Biblical kingdom in modern day Jordan

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Constructor: Rich Proulx

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (~5 min.)

THEME: hand jive — the meanings of hand gestured, clued using ordinal numbers to describe what the various DIGITs do in each gesture (66A: What each number in the starred clues represents):

Theme answers:
  • HANG LOOSE (18A: *1st and 5th)
  • VULCAN SALUTE (24A: *1st separate, 2nd and 3rd together, and 4th and 5th together)
  • VICTORY (39A: *2nd and 3rd separated)
  • "CAN I GET A LIFT?" (49A: *1st)
  • "HOPEFULLY..." (60A: *2nd and 3rd crossed)
Word of the Day: VOCAL FRY (39D: Low, creaky speaking register) —
The vocal fry register (also known as pulse registerlaryngealizationpulse phonationcreakcroakpopcorningglottal fryglottal rattleglottal scrape, or strohbass) is the lowest vocal register and is produced through a loose glottal closure that permits air to bubble through slowly with a popping or rattling sound of a very low frequency. During this phonation, the arytenoid cartilages in the larynx are drawn together, which causes the vocal folds to compress rather tightly and become relatively slack and compact. This process forms a large and irregularly vibrating mass within the vocal folds that produces the characteristic low popping or rattling sound when air passes through the glottal closure. The register (if well controlled) can extend far below the modal voice register, in some cases up to 8 octaves lower, such as in the case of Tim Storms who holds the world record for lowest frequency note ever produced by a human, a G−7, which is only 0.189 Hz, inaudible to the human ear. (wikipedia)
• • •

The theme is fine but getting through this felt like running a punishing gauntlet, where lots and lots of tired fill just kinda shove you around and poke you in your ears and stuff. The problem started at 1-Across, to be honest (1A: Lab test) (ASSAY). Fine word, you might say, and, uh, OK, yeah, it's a word, but it is crosswordy, in that I only ever see it there, and I see it not infrequently; and when words like that pile up, yikes. And it's not just the repeaters, it's the rando stuff like ACTIV and the crosswordese place names like LHASA and LOIRE and then LAO ATOP ASEA PTA SARI GRU etc. on full blast for the whole 15x15 experience. HORAE!? GELID!? Also, there's this ultra-annoying little tendency toward Scrabble-f*cking, with the X and Z and multiple Ks shoved into the grid to either no good or very bad effect. None of these letters are giving you much bang for your buck, and the sections they're in aren't exactly pretty, so what the heck is even happening? AKNOT? Is your "K" worth that? Letters aren't interesting—good fill is interesting. Clean grids are pleasant. That's the direction you want to go in. If you go in that direction, then people can focus on the theme you came up with, which is presumably where you want them to focus.

I've got green ink alllllll over my puzzle print-out. A lot of it is just flagging the tiresome fill, but some if it indicates trouble spots. I can never process [Word that does this if you do this thing to it]-type clues, so SHE (15A: Word that becomes its own opposite if its first letter is removed), crossing a "?" clue in ASH (6D: Outcome of being fired?), crossing LHASA (which I wanted to be either LAPAZ or SUCRE), that whole area caused a bit of a slow-down. Also totally blanked on HORAE, a term I know because I teach classical literature sometimes but omg there are so many groups of goddesses and my brain apparently just can't keep them all sorted (36D: Goddesses of the seasons). Went for ICEIN before FOGIN, of course (53D: Strand at an airport, maybe). I think that's it for genuine sticking points. Except, no, I had trouble with the FRY part of VOCAL FRY, a phenomenon which is somehow both a widespread scourge and a thing I've never heard of, or ... possibly have heard of but have never properly understood. I thought it was just the rasp you get after yelling at, say, a concert or sporting event. It seems like such a slangy recent coinage that the simple word "register" didn't clue me in. 

I will close by displaying contempt for 59A: Display contempt for, in a way (SPIT ON), but I'm just gonna sneer at it because spitting in general is repulsive and spitting *on* someone is beyond the pale. Even as a metaphor, gross. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. Happy birthday to my wife, who is the best

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:02 AM  

I suspect I will not be the only one who did a spit-take at 59A. The clue says, “Display contempt for, in a way,” and I already had in place S_IT ON.

Harryp 12:16 AM  

Certainly more involved than the usual Wednesday puzzle, which is a plus for me, and one of the few that the theme helped in the solve. Thank you Mr. Proulx for an interesting construct.

JBT 12:17 AM  

Two uses of ok??? That seems an obvious fail

jae 12:19 AM  

Medium-tough. This was clever and fun despite some iffy fill. Liked it and Jeff gave it POW.

JOHN X 12:41 AM  

This puzzle was great. I loved it. Everything about it was terrific.

Rex, nobody gives a shit about “scrabble f*cking” except you.

Anoa Bob 1:11 AM  

I count my digits by using my thumb to touch my little finger for one and the ring finger for two and so on until my thumb touches my palm for five. Very useful if I think of a potential puzzle entry and want to know the letter count. If it continues, then it's thumb to my little finger again for six, ring finger for seven, et sequentes. I don't think that was the way the themed counted digits so that greatly hindered my making sense out of it as clued. That along with some fill like HORAE crossing KYRA and with a MOAB here and an IMAGO there had me thinking about another digital signal.

I thought the logical answer to 62D "This puzzle's solver" would be ME. I mean I looked around and there was no one else here solving this puzzle, just ME. YOU? YOU are solving my puzzle? How can that be?

The Gridians 1:22 AM  

The “AHOK” alongside “OKS” is also poor fill paired with poor editing.

Roberto 1:30 AM  

Didn't have any idea about marsjuana.. Is that well known!? Thought ahok and OKs should not appear in the same puzzle eso. In nyt


Roberto 1:32 AM  

Ahok and OKs in same puzzle. Very poor

okanaganer 1:59 AM  

Funny story... for most of my solve, for 60 across I had HOPE TO DIE. You know, "cross my heart and...", with the fingers crossed. Leaving that little isolated BIO EDU niche where nothing made sense.

I was in about grade 4 when Star Trek appeared. We didn't pay much attention to the VULCAN SALUTE, but we sure fell in love with the Vulcan Nerve Pinch! I remember spending most of my non class time avoiding it. We just called it a "Spock". Dang, it hurt!

Also Star Trek wise, for 5 down I had ENSIGN at first. The one appearance guys in the red shirts who often got killed.

Unknown 2:05 AM  

I feel like I should have figured this out after years of occasionally popping in to read Rex's thoughts, but... Is there a pattern to the clues that Rex puts in the title? Are they just ones that are fairly unique? The last ones he filled out?

chefwen 3:18 AM  

It took an embarrassing amount of time for me to grasp the theme. Finally got it at VULCAN SALUTE. Aha, hand things, I’m on it.

18A is a SHAKA around these parts.

Cute one, liked it.

Loren Muse Smith 3:36 AM  

Ok. So I’m underwater right now trying to learn to “teach” remotely using $%#$ Microsoft Teams. Everything I used to do now takes at least three times longer because we’ve had no training and are left to stumble along, figure it out on our own. I’m too old to take easily to new online platforms. Pfft.

Anyhooo, I had to forgo my usual predawn scramble to ready my lesson plans to speak up that several of Rex’s bugaboos were gimmes for me. LAO – yup. I mean, I knew it was a vowel-some language, but 30? Sheesh. English has around 15, so I’m jealous. LOIRE- no prob. Did the whole chateaux tour one summer. ASSAY – my husband was a lab tech, regularly did assays, and used the word all the time. VOCAL FRY – Once you know what it is, you can’t unhear it happening, can’t pay attention to the words themselves ‘cause you’re just focused on that damn fry. (See also uptalking.)

I love it when the fourth wall, as it were, is breeched in a puzzle. (See 62D and 25D). I also love it when BEQ writes a clue that references his daughter, Tabitha.

HOPEFULLY – c’mon, people. If you can begin a sentence with stuff like sadly or happily, you can begin one with HOPEFULLY. Hopefully, this ridiculous little fake stricture will fall to the wayside. Happily, it does seem to be. Sadly, there will always be show-offs who’ll wow the crowd with their grammatical prowess and adverb-shaming.

Gotta go figure out how to do my first FORMS test.

Charles Flaster 3:47 AM  

Finished without understanding the theme. I was thinking numerals/ numbers and nothing made sense.
One sticking point was LHASA crossing SARI.
Agree with Rex that some clues were obtuse but I marvel at the construction.
Thanks RP

Frantic Sloth 5:21 AM  

This one gave me a few fits. Maybe that's because I fell dead asleep in the big fat middle of it (exhaustion, not boredom), or maybe it's another wavelength thing because it could never just be me, of course...

But my solving pony definitely had a burr under the saddle for some reason.

The theme took me waaay too long to grok, especially for what it was - distinctly unrocketsciency.
And it's probably just me, but I've always started with the index finger as no. 1...you know...like the chant. And the thumb has always been its own special animal of "4 fingers and a..." fame. Anyway, 'tis a long way to go to justify my ignorance, but there it is.

As a whole to me this was much more difficult than a usual Wednesdee, though I kinda liked that about it. Definitely no pushover. Plus these additional nits 'n' bits didn't help:

Kept wanting CANIGETAnamen, but didn't fit and made no sense. Not a saying associated with the universal signal of hitchhikers.

Also couldn't unsee/unhear "AKNOT what your country can do for you..." as if JFK suffered severe nasal congestion.

To my eye ARESO is a DOOK for a kind of queso.

Wouldn't the answer to 62D (This puzzle's solver) be "me" or "myself" or even "moi" before YOU? Who's doing the talking here?? Asking for an idiot.

There's no such thing as a VULCANSALUTE. It is a greeting.

Also, I doubt YEOMAN Rand would appreciate being called an "extra" on Star Trek.

Or does that clue refer to the trope of the redshirt characters who were usually not YEOMeN. (The two notable redshirt exceptions: Uhura and Scotty.)

And now that you can easily track me by following the nerd droppings, I bid you good day.


Conrad 5:32 AM  

@Unknown 02:05 -- Rex echoes clues at the top of the blog page to make it more likely that a solver who Googles for a clue will find this blog.

Anonymous 5:46 AM  

Aida dies? How about a spoiler alert.

ChuckD 6:13 AM  

This one can go *3rd itself. I don’t agree with Rex much - but the fill here was brutal and overshadowed any cuteness the theme may have. ATOP adjacent to ASEA is bad - at least split them up if you’re going to use both. OKS, AHOK, ARESO, ILL BE etc - if this stuff is the result of the theme - change the theme.

There’s a middle aged guy at the beach who blows the kush after he surfs every day. He seems quite happy.

Lewis 6:32 AM  

After all these years of crosswords, coming up with a never-done-before theme, as Rich has done here, gets more and more impressive. Brilliant idea, sir, and very well executed.

Having [Strand at an airport, maybe] for FOG IN after yesterday’s [Strand during a winter trip, say] for ICE IN, was particularly devious, by Will. (I threw the latter in immediately, as did Rex, I see.) This little grift is an endearing Shortzian motif, IMO, happening sporadically, but steadily over time.

I counted a sizeable number of answers ending in O (9), one of them GIVES IT A GO, and with this puzzle’s memorable theme and delicious bite, I’m glad you did, Rich!

OffTheGrid 6:44 AM  

I enjoyed this. It helped that I got the theme early and plunked in VULCANSALUTE. That didn't make the solve all that easy but I knew which direction to take.


GHarris 6:53 AM  

*The third straight up. Answer: How I felt about this puzzle.

Hungry Mother 6:58 AM  

What a great puzzle! I should have had it on the first themer because I used to use Spock’s gesture to quiet my college classroom when I was ready to start class, but it took Churchill’s gesture to light the bulb. I ended up with a slightly faster than usual time and lots of fun.

Dave 7:07 AM  

Listen to the end of any report by Washington newswoman Sally Kidd for a good example of vocal frying

mathgent 7:09 AM  

What a great puzzle! Fresh theme, beautifully executed.

AHOK is bad, but it is totally outweighed by a host of good stuff elsewhere.

I suppose that the HANGLOOSE sign originated in Hawaii. That’s where I have seen it almost exclusively.

Whatever I know about Star Trek I learned doing the puzzle and I can’t remember VULCANSALUTE coming up before. So it was fun getting it from the crosses.

@Anonymous (5:46. Good one!

I feel sorry for those of us who don’t feel the joy of this puzzle because it has some technical defects.


kitshef 7:14 AM  

Wonderful theme, so full credit to the constructor. But Will is on a particularly bad run. Today, it’s AH OK that I hate, with KUSH and KYRA as honorable mentions. Crossing KUSH with ENOKI and HORAE is exceptionally bad.

I count on my fingers in binary, using the thumb as the ones place. So HANG LOOSE is 17, VICTORY is six, etc.

@Frantic Sloth – I tried mightily to cram redshirt in at 5D.

Frantic Sloth 7:20 AM  

Happy Birthday to Mrs. Rex!

How did I not see AHOK and OKS?? Perhaps I blocked it out because that is just utterly unforgivable.

@Anoa Bob 111am Aha!! Thank you for your it's-not-YOU-it's-ME comment. Comforting to know I wasn't alone. (Kept looking over my shoulder for that one.)

@LMS Between VOCALFRY and uptalk/upspeak, it's a tossup for a winner in the race to get me to stab myself in the ear with an ice pick.

Joe Welling 7:32 AM  

The pinky is 5? So the thumb is 4? That doesn't make any sense.

JOHN X 7:41 AM  

A little more finger-number lore:

You probably were traditionally taught to count to 10 using the fingers of both hands. But did you know you can also easily count to 12 using only one hand? This technique is often attributed back to the ancient Sumerians.

This dovetails with why the “base 60” system is superior to the “base 10” system. 60 has more whole integer divisors than 100 does.

That’s why a minute has 60 seconds, an hour has 60 minutes, a circle has 360 degrees, there are 12 signs of the zodiac, etc., because 60 is a much more magic number than dumb old 100.

pabloinnh 7:45 AM  

I thought this was a fun theme and well done (hi @Lewis). Thought we were getting a Star Trek theme originally, but that didn't last.

One thing I found interesting when living in Spain was how an upraised thumb meant "one" and two was not the v sign but your thumb and your index finger, more fingers added for higher numbers. I used to point this out to kids in my classes who typically found it far less fascinating than I did.

Best illustration of HOPEFULLY that I've seen--
Father, shaving-"I've cut my nose!"
Son, hopefully-"Off?

Is there anything more annoying than vocal fry? No, no there is not.

Good luck to LMS and all teachers. This strikes me as just plain nightmarish.

Thanks for an entertaining Wednesday, RP. I applaud your originality.

JOHN X 7:47 AM  

Oops! I forgot to add:

In the Sumerian technique you can count to 12 with the fingers of one hand, and up to 60 using both hands.

Rug Crazy 7:55 AM  

I'm with GHarris

Debra 7:56 AM  

Delightful puzzle, a breath of fresh air.

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

What's wrong with ASSAY? It's a commonly used word in the sciences. It's not really crosswordese.

SouthsideJohnny 8:02 AM  

Wow, way, way too much stuff that is just out there in left field. If you don’t solve a lot of puzzles, you really don’t have much of a chance with this one. It really gets boring when it seems like most of the answers are not even real words - ASSAY, LHASA, AHOK, APU, LOIRE, KUSH, GELID, TANTO . . . It really is a puzzle just filled with nonsense. And SPIT ON is crude, gross and definitely flunks the breakfast test.

It seems like the NYT puzzle team just gets into a rut where they will go a week or two where they publish a high percentage of absolute clunkers - sort of like a batting slump to use a baseball analogy. I think we are in one of those streaks currently. This puzzle just seemed completely disjointed.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

That “Vocal Fry Epidemic” video at the end of the post? Uh-MAZE-ing!

Moxer 8:08 AM  

Wow, I completed the puzzle, but even after finishing, it took me some time to comprehend the theme. I’d never heard of the “Vulcan Salute.” So I can now understand why so many of Rex’s followers liked this one, but for me, it was a downer. I guess I need some kush!

Z 8:09 AM  

Letters aren't interesting—good fill is interesting. Yep. The V’s are mostly okay (I grudgingly grant that the RRN ACT is necessary for VULCAN SALUTE) but the K’s are a master class on why constructors should wear a scrabble condom. ENOKI/KUSH, AH OK, OKOPODES, and the esey EKE are not worth having those 5-pointers in the grid. KUSH might be interesting if it weren’t so “they get high in natick, too.” Besides, I’m still wondering why “sinsemilla” didn’t fit.

Needed DIGIT to figure out why all the theme clues had ordinal numbers. Up until that point I didn’t waste a nanosecond pondering them, just basically ignoring the theme clues completely and getting as many crosses as I could. The theme answers are pretty interesting, although not having a middle finger salute makes the set seem incomplete.

@Anon5:46 - Laugh out loud funny.

@Frantic Sloth - John Scalzi’s Red Shirts is a funny riff on, well, Red Shirts.

The playground exchange we’ve been missing:

Todd 8:24 AM  

I thought AHOK was particularly horrible.

three of clubs 8:24 AM  

Surprised to see a gender binary clue in the modern Times. The opposite of a dog is not a cat.

Ernonymous 8:35 AM  

@lms I agree with you that once you are aware of vocal fry, you cannot unhear it. There is a lot of The Bachelor viewing in my household and having severe vocal fry is a requirement to be selected to the cast. These women are excruciating to listen to.
Since I'm old now I'm worried I'm going to soon have a doctor who talks like this.

Pamela 8:55 AM  

I thought it was about fingers from the get-go, but never heard of the VULCAN SALUTE. HANGLOOSE didn’t connect here either. After that I didn’t bother with the theme, just tried to get through Natick City to the end. Eventually I did.

VOCALFRY was new to me, too- but not the sound, only the word. Now I know what to call that nails-on-the-chalkboard rasp that all those young’ uns affect these days. Whose idea was that, d’ya think?

For me, the best thing about this puzzle was the last video on Rex’s post.

Unknown 9:10 AM  

Perhaps the toughest/most fun puz I've seen on a Wednesday.
My geography let me down. I had QUITO as my capital, then LAPAZ, finally had to turn to Dr. Google for LHASA, so a DNF, but tons of fun nevertheless.

The overall level of carping on this thread makes me think you folks have too much time on your hands, or have been drinking too much KoolAid with rex. What a bunch of nit pickers. It's just a puz. Trust me, we'll have much bigger things to fret about come November 3. If my math is correct.

Z 9:13 AM  

Nit Alert : Doesn’t HANG LOOSE require a waggle? Or am I making that up?

Also, related to a previous discussion where some of my friends alleged that nobody uses that X neologism, here’s a new cookbook project that caught my eye.

Chris 9:17 AM  

Absolutely hated this enough to post on here for the second time in a week. All the fill is super lame and then it throws in KUSH to try to seem cool. But it's not cool. It's not hip. It's the same creaking crosswordese clued somehow more annoyingly than ever before. Love me a morning xword that mainly wakes me up through anger.

Was happy to see LYLE Lovett, but just because _I_ enjoy a proper noun doesn't mean it's good fill.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

I knew the word ASSAY from watching Gold Rush. You never know where you will learn a new word.

EdFromHackensack 9:37 AM  

KUSH??? Guessed wrong on that one. We just voted in NJ and they had a ballot question about the legalization of marijuana. We voted YES. My wife wants to try it for the first time at age 55. I have not smoked it since 1980. Was curious whether YOUR state has legalized pot? If so, where can you buy it? Are there Pot Stores?

GILL I. 9:49 AM  

Other than a good cup of coffee first thing in the morning, nothing is more fun or funnier than a @Frantic "AKNOT what your country can do for you," @Anony 5:46..."Aida dies? How about a spoiler," and @ChuckD..."This one can go *3rd itself." I actually have tears running down my face.
So @Jeff gave this POW? Wow. Why? I think I want to join @Chuck. I guess I'm not up on my finger digits. I know the middle one real well, but CANIGETALIFT might as well be Little Jack Horner sitting in a corner pulling out his plum for all I know.
HANG LOOSE is 1st and 5th? Yikes.
About the only thing I understood here was that VOCAL FRY thing. It's like listening to Nicki Minaj sing in the shower.

Mary Sofia 9:55 AM  

I found this extremely frustrating.

Nancy 9:55 AM  

Don't even get me started. I threw it against the wall. Not a Nancy puzzle. Not even close. And, anyway, I've got some Kabuki Theater to watch -- otherwise known as the Senate Judiciary Committee Supreme Court nominee hearing.

Ethan Taliesin 9:57 AM  

The R at the intersection of KYRA and HORAE was unknown to me, so basically I failed a Wednesday.

I liked the theme a whole bunch.

Richard 9:59 AM  

Naticked at the ENOKI/RUSH cross. So I give this puzzle a 3rd.

Nancy 10:01 AM  

@GHarris (6:53)-- I've been on this site for about 6 or 7 years, and your post is the best I've ever seen for an apt, trenchant, pithy and really funny put-down. Priceless. And, of course, the fact that I so totally agree with your opinion of the puzzle makes it even funnier.

RooMonster 10:03 AM  

Hey All !
OK, fess up, who did the physical gestures with the DIGITs after grokking the theme? *Hands up*

Wanted HANGLOOSE for 18A, but couldn't see how it jived with the clue. Took me until I had _ULCA_SALUTE (lots of letters on a themer!) to see it. Had ACTI_ waiting on either I, V, or X. Got VULCAN, and the "Aha!" to see it was the DIGITs in effect. Let out a "Neat!", and promptly filled in the rest of the themers. Then redid all the gestures! :-P

For a bit, after getting ARESO, and AKNOT, conflated them in the old brain, so tried to change AKNOT to AmNOT, ending up with ATTACmS for 4D. Luckily caught it in time. Had CANIGETArIde until the end. Couldn't get 53, 54D to make sense, though. Found that mistake, too.

So a pretty cool puz. AOK in my book.

**SB Stuff**
It was one I missed YesterBee. Dang. I guess I need to sail more.

Three F's

Tim Aurthur 10:06 AM  

Learning about VOCAL FRY was worth the price of admission, plus watching that great video by Abby Normal, who just acquired a fan.

I had a boss who did that. His normal voice was Woody Allen, but when he wanted to sound sophisticated and nonchalant it would drop several octaves and become Henry Kissinger without the German accent. It drove me up the wall.

Unknown 10:09 AM  

"Spitting at" is showing contempt for, "spitting on" is assault, brother.

Ellen S 10:13 AM  

@LMS, it makes me weep, thinking what teachers and students are going through right now. There’s so much that could have been done last spring to stem the spread of this virus, but, never mind, here we are. So, distance learning. As if teachers don’t have a hard enough job. I have a nice cable internet plan (nice for Comcast, that is, but decent speed, most of the time, and a brand new router that should deliver a lot of that speed wirelessly. And it might be doing that, because the Roku in the family room doesn’t have any problems delivering movies, but my laptop in the same room stutters and freezes on Zoom calls. “Your Internet connection is unstable” might as well be written in Presidential Sharpie across the screen. Even with a boost to its built in networking capability. So what are the half the kids in this country whose parents can’t afford to buy a computer for every child supposed to do? And you teachers, I can’t even imagine the frustration of trying to teach by Zoom or Teams. Except the alternative is even worse, trying to keep kids from infecting you and each other.

My daughter, formerly a Special Ed teacher, got beaten severely by one of her students in the spring of 2019. Traumatic brain injury that Workers Comp felt the best approach to was wait and then force her to retire. Proper therapy wasn’t even on the agenda. Lucky her, after a year and a half she is able to fill in forms to apply for jobs. So, teachers out there: hard as distance learning is, if you get infected on the job, you will be abandoned by your employer, your union, and most of all by your employers workers comp insurance company. Daughter just got a job as some kind of therapy consultant, she’ll travel to peoples’ houses and GO INTO THEIR HOUSE to have these therapy sessions. Yipes? This job pays about half what the working remotely ones do, proving once again that “essential workers” are essential to the economy because they cost less.

I liked the puzzle a lot more than I like real life.

Unknown 10:16 AM  

Sorry, make that "spit at" as showing contempt for, and "spit on" as being assault. I suppose you could argue that you could spit on the ground without hitting an actual person, but the clue implies that you are "showing contempt" for the thing you are spitting on, so I say no.

jberg 10:17 AM  

Running late. I was afraid the theme clues were going to be ASL, which I should know but don’t, so was relieved when it wasn’t. Also, welcome back, playground retorts! It’s been too long.

I know about VOCAL FRY only because there was a long discussion thereof in these comments awhile back. I guess it’s true that Rex doesn’t read them.

Back later, I hope.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Me to this puzzle: 3rd

Whatsername 10:30 AM  

AH, OK (1st and 2nd touching), I got it. Kind of a KOOKY theme but I fingered it out and VICTORY is mine. Didn’t really think I was going to like it at first but it grew on me, sorta like the first time I tried OKRA. As Rex said, it was like an obstacle course at first but then eventually it began to fall into place. I suppose when you think about it that’s a classic sign of a very well constructed crossword puzzle.

KUSH? I’m aware that as a cutting-edge crossword solver, I’m supposed to keep up with the latest pop culture but I’m kinda out of touch with the marijuana market. HOPEFULLY it’s for medicinal purposes.

DavidL 10:36 AM  

@ChuckD, laughed out loud at your comment, although I actually think it was worth putting up with some rough fill for this clever theme.

albatross shell 10:37 AM  

ASSAY is a real word and one that is actually used. Assayer as in assayer office is more common. Guess what assayers do: They assay.

The double OK was a bit much.

I fell into a few traps: intro for basic, corn for MOSS, thinking of every bathing suit in the world before SUNGLASSES.

LOVED the clues for the 3 letter answers ASH SHE YOU.

I sussed the numbers were fingers before getting any of the theme answers. That helped alot. Thumb equals one.

Theme was clever and tight.

VICTORY with a little sweat.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

What he said. Plus, love Abby the Normal lady's video - I try not to wish polyps on young women, especially because they'll probably get them without my input, but those vocal graters are the worst! - newbie

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Ellen S,
You left out the most critical element of your daughter's story as it relates to workman's comp. Was she in fact compensated? And if she is dissatisfied with the amount of her compensation there are avenues of redress.

oisk17 10:45 AM  

Awful in so many ways, and not just because I Naticked twice. Others have already spit on one of the answers. Hang loose? There is a hand gesture for that? Crossing something from "Despicable Me"? Despicable cluing, or should I say "Gru-some"? I had "Dru." Worse was enoki-kush-horae. I guessed the "H" but had no shot at "kush" once I forgot the mushroom, which at least I had seen before. Ah OK - no, ah phooey!

Wondered how the gender police reacted to "Yeoman." Yeoperson? Is the feminine form "Yeo-mama"?

egsforbreakfast 10:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Newboy 10:50 AM  

I saw A SEA right away—not a lovely ending for the first line and sighed. Glanced at ole friend UP DO at the bottom and almost closed the iPad cover. But then Rich flipped me the bird with a VULCAN SALUTE and the fun began. I had stars in my eyes for the rest of the grid. The fact that gold and silver have OnE l was I thought a brilliant misdirection clue—until it wasn’t. That and VOCAL FRY to mystify???, so off to read REX & previous posts.

All in all a lovely Wednesday.

Z 10:51 AM  
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Whatsername 10:53 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 10:55 AM  

Let me just SPIT ON the idea that SPIT ON as clued is meant literally. I mean, Rex SPITs ON puzzles all the time but does so electronically, nothing moist is ever involved.

Carola 11:02 AM  

A satisfyingly tough Wednesday for me. I enjoyed the challenge and give two thumbs up for the theme. Loved HANG LOOSE and the VULCAN SALUTE (@Hungry Mother, how awesome you used it in class!).

Help from previous puzzles: APU, GRU; help from opera: in "La Boheme," Mimi's hand is "GELIDa"; rescued by grad school: a literary journal put out by Friedrich Schiller between 1795 and 1797 was named after the HORAE; no idea: KUSH. Do-over: the llamas on the llano misled me to Llasa.

@Anonymous 5:46 - LOL! And sorry if you were serious.

@Ellen S 10:13 - I'm so sorry, for the terrible assault and the equally terrible aftermath.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

HOPEFULLY, sadly and happily are not equivalent. I can say "I hope..."; I can't say "I sad..." or I happy..." because hope is something I "do" and sad or happy is something I "am". That said, HOPEFULLY we can agree that grammar is important for universal understanding.

albatross shell 11:13 AM  

Forgot to mention: considered YEsMAN, before thinking of YEOMAN. Aren't they always saying yes sir or its equivalent?

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

60 is a much more magic number than dumb old 100

Yikes!!! Who's going to come up with 50 unique digit names, that aren't variations on the 10 we already have?

What's wrong with ASSAY? It's a commonly used word in the sciences. It's not really crosswordese.

I guess OFL is just as anti-science as The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave)?? Oh, The Horror!!

Now I know what to call that nails-on-the-chalkboard rasp that all those young’ uns affect these days. Whose idea was that, d’ya think?

More to the point, who/when/where did tweenage (and up) girls devise the Up Talking??? Gad.

In all, a fine example of obvious (once you get it, not so much before) misdirection. Liked it.

Diane Joan 11:18 AM  

Happy Birthday to your wife!

@Ellen S : I sympathize with your daughter's plight. I worked as a teacher in a high school with some tough kids and teachers often got in between them when they fought. A coworker suffered a head injury leading to neurological problems that took over a year to resolve. I'm retired now but I see the difficult times teachers, counselors, and social workers are having these days. I wish your daughter the best.

I enjoyed the puzzle although I felt number 49 across should be "Can I get a like" , more appropriate these days but obviously not in keeping with the theme.

Z 11:22 AM  

***Hopefully Spoiler Free Rant on a Different Puzzle***

The normally outstanding Byron Walden made me scowl with the totally made up answer at 83A (AVCX Puzzle) which then made me scowl more by leading me to this “news”. “This” almost made me want to scream Don’t Speak.


Bax'N'Nex 11:24 AM  

Mike: In an upcoming rant, could you PLEASE explain your obsession with "Scrabble f*cking" (so eloquently stated, BTW)?

Do you avoid using those words in real life? Did I just Scrabble-f*ck by using a "v" in "avoid"? My apologies...not.

It is just such a bizarre (damn...a "Z") pet peeve you and (as stated by John X, 12:41 above) ONLY you care about. BTW...John X, can you please change you handle John E? John T?

So please enlighten us mentally challenged out here as to why using a valid word is taboo in your insular world.


p.s. And while you're at it, can you explain why it's wrong for a puzzle to "skew old"? There are "old" people doing these puzzles too. Us oldsters don't deserve a puzzle for us every once in a while? (Of course, I AM talking to you, who desperately wants to be young and hip but are, in fact, more crotchety than my Grandpa ever was).

And last...(I know, you're welcome) If there are any psychotherapists out there, can you tell me why I feel compelled to even read this vitriol every morning? It just ends up being a crappy start to my day. Yet, here I am, EVERY morning. I need help!

But if that's the worst thing that happens to me today, I should consider myself very fortunate.

Thank you, Rich Proulx (with the Scrabble-f*cking name) for my morning's entertainment. Really appreciate what you do.

Peace and love, peace and love

Bax'N'Nex 11:28 AM  

Roberto @1:30 am: I used to know A LOT about marijuana, so I can't remember anything now...lol.

Let's just say the clue was accurate...(damn, now I can't wait to get home tonight and forget some more stuff!)

Mary McCarty 11:30 AM  

@LMS as a retired high school teacher (great timing!) I have the deepest sympathy and greatest admiration for you and the thousands of teacher like you who continue to teach from a distance; it’s a shame your district didn’t spend the summer training you all in the new platforms (wishful thinking gone awry,) When I was teaching, I found a very useful and very easy-to-use program for recording A & V content lessons (helpful for the kids who slept through class, didn’t take notes, or otherwise needed a refresher.) It’s called ShowMe, requires a touch screen for creation, and just a link for the viewer (they don’t need the app). You can set up courses. Check out what’s there already, or make your own. https://www.showme.com/learn Seriously, easy to learn the basics. Good luck! You’re my hero!

Igneous 11:33 AM  

Would've been great if author used flipthebird as one of thematic answers

sixtyni yogini 11:41 AM  


BobL 11:51 AM  

Amazing so many know the "rules". Ahok and oks in the same puzzle! Horrors!

Talk about nit-picking.

O’Gie 11:55 AM  

The clueing was weak - and many inapt

jb129 12:20 PM  

I liked it altho I was stuck on "Spit on" for the longest time.

bocamp 12:27 PM  

Thank you @Rich for a clever puzzle and enjoyable solve! :)

Didn't grok the theme until post-game analysis, but what an exhilarating feeling when it all came together.

*1st = "right on" for me. 👍

When I recorded my time, I thought, wow, fast for a Thursday! Didn't realize that it was Wed. until looking at Rex's writeup this a.m. Guess that sums up how much I pay attention to the days of the week. LOL

SW - ?? moment; didn't know "fry"; wasn't sure about "-ook-"; "ohok" was a tough parse.

Didn't appreciate 59A

@RooMonster 10:03 AM - yes for the gestures. LOL


• tanto

• kush

• Kyra

• vocal fry - thx @Rex for the vid :)

"fourth wall" - thx @Loren Muse Smith 3:36 AM

• Sumerian "base 60" system - thx @JOHN X 7:41 AM

Plain ol' two-handed, "thumb to pinkie" counter here.

Was a "yeoman" in the ship's gunnery office.

Water slides evoke especially good memories. :)

@Frantic Sloth - re: the "Babe" - still no luck re: the adoption issue :( I'm guessing it may have had to do with both her's and George's hectic schedules/life styles, perhaps. The S.I. article linked below is skookum to the max.

Sports Illustrated archived "very long" article re: the "Babe"

@Ellen S 10:13 AM - My heart goes out to your daughter; and to all the teachers, God Bless you! 🙏

**** SB ALERT ****

-2 yesterday; may work on it this morning 🤞

ཞི་བདེ Peace ຄວາມສະຫງົບສຸກ Frieden शांति 🕊

Harryp 12:31 PM  

Too bad HANG TEN (toes) wasn't used, since Duke Boyd, original owner of the brand, just died on Sept. 21st. I doubt he had anything to do with coining the phrase, but he did spread it beyond Hawaii shores.

Masked and Anonymous 12:39 PM  

Well, as someone Anonymous (but not wearin their mask) has already mentioned, M&A was really missin the universally recognized essential puzthemer here of *3rd.
However, @RP kinda made up for this, by bestowin it on all this nice puz's fillins and scrabble-twerks. ASSAY gets a #1 down? TALKTOTHEHAND, @RP. [har]
BTW @RP: Sure glad U all survived the gas leak incident, and hope yer wife's b-day was a gas … er … real good time.

staff weeject pick: SHE. Cool clue. Reminds M&A of a some of the weekly puzzlers on the Shortzmeister's NPR Sunday Puzzle Show.

Extra themer idea: *6th. [answer below]

Extra neat Ow de Speration moment: AHOK.

Thanx for a pleasantly different theme mcguffin and yer KUSHy fillins, Mr. Proulx.

Masked & Anonym007Us


S of a B alert:

olfactory 12:42 PM  

@franticsloth: Look up salute. It's a greeting and a greeting is a salute.

Whatsername 12:47 PM  

@G Harris: What @Nancy said 10:01. 👍

Anoa Bob 12:58 PM  

OffTheGrid @6:44 thanks for that little George Costanza vignette. Classic! I've seen all the Seinfeld episodes, most of them multiple times, and I never get tired of them.

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

I had fun with this puzzle. Getting the theme when VULCAN filled in, I followed @Roo's footsteps and used my hands to make the gestures and felt no need to do *3rd.

At 18A, I thought *1st and 5th meant "fins up", based on my husband's usage. I Googled "fins up" post-solve and saw a completely different gesture that indicated "landsharks" and has a football tie-in. Then I hit Google images and on that page was an image of Hang Loose. I clicked on it, eager to hear how it ties in with "fins up" but Ctrl-F found no mention. Can Google read my mind? Now I have to remember to ask husband about his usage.

I saw the OKS and AH OK (mentally pronounced as A-HOK) and said, "Ah, okay?!"

I have a friend who tends to VOCAL FRY. I think she picked it up from her daughters. I try to tune it out.

I read, a long time ago, a time-travel series (I quit after about 5 of the books) by Leo Frankowski. The premise is that an engineer gets sent by accident to 13th century Poland. Realizing that the Mongol invasion is imminent, he works to bring their technology up to modern standards in order to combat the hordes. One of the first things he does is create a mathematical (and monetary system?) in Base 12 because the increased number of divisors is more convenient than Base 10. The Poles take to it easily but he ends up having to rework all of his science knowledge from Base 10 to 12. I may have some of the details wrong here but I do remember the Base 12 part. @Z? Anyone?

Rich Proulx, thanks for the interesting Wednesday.

old timer 1:32 PM  

I ended up liking this puzzle, which seemed hard but in the end wasn't. I haven't had pot in a long time, either, so KUSH (from the Hindu Kush I assume) is new to me. Acapulco Gold, Maui Zowie are from my generation, as is the Panama Red that was turned into a catchy tune. OTOH, cannabis may be in my future. Sonoma County is just crawling with pot shops, who not only sell you the smokables, but all sorts of pills and nostra featuring CBD, which in some cases don't get you high at all but cure all your ills, or so they say.

No trouble with the dupe OKs, because one was a verb, the other not. Which is OK in my book.

I am glad but also sad to see our @LMS make a long-delayed appearance. Glad because a day without her observations is like a day without sunshine. But sad, because of all the caca she has to go through, just to do her job. Better times acoming, but I don't know when.

SPIT ON is just what I would like to do to a lot of people these days who refuse to wear their face coverings. Of course the result might be the spittee demanding a pound of your flesh, cut closest to the heart. Thank God Antonio had a great lawyer -- or more accurately a great female judge.

MarthaCatherine 1:39 PM  

I've toked a few in my day. Never heard of KUSH. I confidently entered haSH. And because I had no clue who newswoman Phillips is, I was out of luck. couldn't guess what STa could mean for 25D. Finally got 39A and
was able to get unSTUCK, but still had to say the hell with it and google Ms. Phillips and so was able to grok HORAE.

Did no one else have trouble in this spot?

bocamp 2:16 PM  
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GHarris 2:17 PM  

Coming from you high praise! I am humbled and grateful.

CT2Napa 2:38 PM  

nobody from Texas here wanting 2nd and 5th -- "hook em horns"

DigitalDan 2:40 PM  

Rex, come and pan for gold in CA and you'll hear the word ASSAY often enough. I'm glad there's a term for VOCAL FRY, because I need it to grumble about people who over-employ it.

Anonymous 3:18 PM  


Base 12 is common. We still use it. Think `12 inches in a foot. Or the concept of a dozen.
Dunno anything about your series of books, but when i hear time travel and base 12 i automatically go to ancient Egypt. Their sun dials were divided in 12 section, for obvious reasons.

Hope this doesn't get Giovanni too upset, but base 12 is more properly known as duo decimal, or dozenal.

Hey Gio,
I saw you spouting off about me yesterday, but you haven't refuted my assertion that Iceland generated plenty of non recyclable refuse. Any thoughts on the matter today?

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

Base 12 is common. We still use it.

think EBCDIC. IBM punch cards (the mainframe still uses the coding) have 12 positions/data point.

bocamp 3:41 PM  

@Teedmn 1:18PM - thx for the "Leo Frankowski" reference; will give "The Cross-Time Engineer" a read. :)

**** SB ALERT ****

Done w/yesterday's at -2; one I knew, but w/incorrect sp.; one I'd probably never get, but a practical word that makes sense.

On to today's marathon 🤞

ཞི་བདེ Peace ຄວາມສະຫງົບສຸກ Frieden शांति 🕊

Frantic Sloth 3:48 PM  

It's a shame (or is it?) that I couldn't listen to the video in Rex's post before. Other people sleeping and whatnot. But, man that was dead-on and torturous!

@pabloinnh 745am I think counting that way might be a European thing. Have you ever seen Inglourious Basterds? I'll say no more to avoid possible spoilage.

@Z 809am Funny "haha" or funny "peculiar"? Because I looked up the book and humor was not mentioned; however, I trust your sense of it, so…perhaps I'll splurge. Although, I freely admit you lost me on HORAE/HOR YOU…

@GILL I Based on what I've heard of Nicki Minaj lyrics, it's a wonder she finds any time for a shower.

@Ellen S 1013am Your post is heartbreaking on so many levels. So sorry for all of it!

@Z 1122am Well, now I have to wait for the AVCX to send me the freakin' crossword because I wanna see what you're on about. 🙄

@bocamp 1227pm Thanks for the article! Hey, don't make yourself nuts trying to dig up more info for me…unless you're just loving the challenge! 😉

Pdxrains 3:59 PM  

Holy heck this puzzle felt like the hall of fame of bad fill. I knew it was gonna be bad when the first corner had ASSAY crossing ACTIV. Woof.

Mr. Benson 4:01 PM  

VOCAL FRY was in a New Yorker crossword not long ago, maybe a month or two back, and the clue strongly insinuated that it's a sexist term. Something like "phrase used by men telling women how to talk." That one caught me off guard. I don't see any of the comments here characterizing it that way.

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

Anon 3:39,

Or the 12 months of the year, 12 signs of the Zodiac or 12 ounces in a Troy pound, or (old school) 12 pence ina shilling.

signed Anon 3:18

PS please don't take my citing Egyptian sundials as the earliest use of base 12. Obviously The Babylonians were using base 12 for astronomy earlier than them, and the Sumerians earlier still. It's just that Egyptian sundials are, or at least once were, a common thing in schools, pop culture ( sword and sandal movies e.g.).

bocamp 4:28 PM  

@Frantic Sloth 3:48 PM - re: the "Babe"

LOL - You piqued my interest by mentioning her biography, and because I've always admired her sports prowess, I wanted to learn more about her personal life.

I'm just a natural "digger". Once I get my teeth into something, I don't let go. WRT the "adoption", I've probably exhausted the resources at hand.

Now, on to reading what I've amassed, which includes part 2 of the S.I. article. :)

ཞི་བདེ Peace ຄວາມສະຫງົບສຸກ Frieden शांति 🕊

KRMunson 4:57 PM  


Ernonymous 6:08 PM  

@anon No, thanks. I've been on virtual message boards for years, and I've "met" a lot of different personality types, but you take the prize for the most vile, obnoxious, holier-than-thou, rude poster I've ever run across.
A normal person who disagrees here with someone would write "I saw your post and that isn't correct, my research shows that this is true". This is what a grounded, polite, normal person would do when wanting to have a discussion on a message board. But rather, your style is to write "boy, are you a total idiot, your post was wrong, you really are a jerk, you don't know anything, I know everything"
Tragically, you have some kind of inner need to pick a daily fight here. You never mention the puzzle. You hang out, praying, hoping, for someone to say something that you can refute and tell then how stupid they are. This seems to be your only purpose here and your only joy in life. You seem to be pretty bored that you hang out here waiting for your big opening, to let a poster here know that your knowledge is much superior to theirs. And you do it in such a vile, nasty way, that the only thing I can conclude is that you have massive emotional issues and nothing better to do. People come here to discuss many interesting topics, but you don't have basic courtesy like everything else.
In short, don't respond to my posts or address me ever again. I find you repulsive.

Z 6:23 PM  

@Teedmn - I missed Frankowski, but you’re remembering The High Tech Knight. Based on the Wikipedia entry I think I’ll pass on him.

@Frantic Sloth - Funny satirical. And now I’m wondering why you hadn’t gotten this week’s AVCX, yet. Mine always arrives on Tuesday. Anyway, I was googling to see if that answer was a thing and the only usage that came up was a Good Housekeeping article about that duet. I don’t mind country music if it’s in the Lucinda Williams or White Stripes vein, but that duet struck me as pablum and that entry struck me as the most not a thing I’ve ever seen in a Walden puzzle.
Finally, say HORAE out loud, making sure to rhyme it with VOCAL FRY, and maybe being said with VOCAL FRY on The Bachelor.

@Bax - I dunno man, Rex seems pretty explicit on why scrabble-f*cking is bad and his examples from today seem pretty hard to disagree with. AKNOT is bad, but the dupe OKS, one of which grosses OKRA, seems especially in need of some editing. If you think OKS/AH OK/OKRA is good let me share a nice Blake Shelton/Gwen Stefani duet with you. It was nominated for an award so it must be good.

Z 6:28 PM  

“grosses?” - It’s a typo but I like it.

Bax'N'Nex 6:48 PM  

Guess I'm not as sophisticated as the rest. Why is "AKNOT" bad when it completes the clue givev when OLDER for "____ and wiser" is fine when completing the clue?

Who has time to over-think this (very) trivial diversion from real life each day?

I just like figuring out what word was meant to be there, not ponder the relevance of any of it. It's my own little (very little) battle of wits against the constructor

Oh, well. Back to real life.

Betty 7:37 PM  

Right. It was me, so I put moi

BobL 8:00 PM  

More John X and a lot less of Z

chinch 8:00 PM  

I really liked the puzzle, in no small part because it played hard (for a Wednesday). I did think the Vulcan Salute was different in kind from the rest of the theme answers. No?

Bertie 11:08 PM  


Eejit 11:32 PM  

Top notch puzzle. That was fun.

RooMonster 12:03 AM  

**SB Late Post**
**With Point Spoilers**

Started this morning, then 10 hours work, finally just now got to Genius. Man, kept getting words little by little and the Point Thingie wasn't moving! I think it took close to 10 words to finally get the G. Now I'm at 236 points, and did my ÷.7, and I need 100 more points for Q!! Holy smokes. Will pick at it some more, but geez Louise. 😊

RooMonster Bee Been A Bear Lately Guy

bocamp 12:11 AM  

**** SB ALERT ****

-11 and done for the evening 😴

ཞི་བདེ Peace ຄວາມສະຫງົບສຸກ Frieden शांति 🕊

Orovalaz 12:29 PM  

I do the puzzles for the second puzzle. I also do them with my husband, so I didn't understand the theme until after we completed it. Too bad, it was fun!

thefogman 9:24 AM  

Rex is right about this one having lots of glue holding it together. But the theme was fun so I liked it anyways.

Burma Shave 10:41 AM  


but if SHE ATTACKS me I’LL just CHUTE.


spacecraft 11:14 AM  

I don't mind saying I was STUCK in the middle ("with YOU!"), as I had no idea about KUSH--nor would I admit it if I did--or about KYRA what's-her-name. If the clue referred to Sedgwick, SHE might have made DOD, except for Sharon, who I'm guessing weighs about nine STONE. At any rate, I was left with a double-natick going down, _OR_E, and made a flat out guess with HORAE. Just lucky, I guess.

This one put up some resistance at first, theme clues offering no clue, until I uncovered VULCAN. Then I reread the clue, and the light dawned. Nice little mini-theme there with YEOMAN, BTW.

Never heard of VOCALFRY. Some third-rate fill: AHOK is bad enough, but after OKS...no. And yet again we find ourselves ASEA. Could we dock already? Geez!

Overall a clever theme, and I liked CANIGATALIFT. Fill drags it down to a par.

Michael Fleming 1:56 PM  

Yeoman Rand was hardly an extra in Star Trek (original). I’m sure she decorated the imaginations of many a young person of the day.

leftcoaster 3:24 PM  

Didn’t discover the theme until the DIGIT revealer, but by then I had given up on the finger language and dropped out. Adding a bit of insult to injury were TANTO, VOCALFRY, and the KUSH/HORAE/KYRA cluster. Not much fun today.

rondo 4:15 PM  

Took me a while to get the number thing. At first thinking maybe it was vowels instead of DIGITs. So there was plenty of blank space before getting my fingers crossed. But I never really got STUCK.

Saw Hall and OATES c.2002 ( Todd Rundgren opened, and sucked) and they were pretty good; saw them 2 or 3 years ago and had to walk out (Tears for Fears opend and was pretty good). Not much left in the Hall and OATES tank.

Any KYRA will POLITELY get a yeah baby from me.

Live long and prosper.

Diana, LIW 6:24 PM  

3 blank squares. Goddesses (as usual), marijuana (the same cluster as @Lefty), and a box I forgot to fill in. oops

Sometimes the way I solve is funnier than the puzzle itself. Tho I gave myself a "high five" for getting the theme. OK?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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