Scarecrow portrayer / SUN 10-25-20 / Citrus fruit with portmanteau name /No-go area in brief / Indiana city that's 100 miles west of Lima Ohio / Capone contemporary

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Challenging (north of 13 minutes???)

THEME: "At the Halloween play ..." — I don't even know ... themers are completions of sentences that are allegedly related to a Halloween play, whatever that is:

Theme answers:
  • AUDIENCE HISSED (23A: At the Halloween play, when the black cat appeared, the ___)
  • BAREBONES RENDITION (36A: ... the skeleton gave a ___)
  • A VARIETY OF PARTS (48A: ... Frankenstein had ___)
  • WARTS AND ALL (68A: ... the critics loved the witch's performance, ___)
  • NOBODY TO ACT WITH (85A: ... the ghost had ___)
  • REFLECTED ON HIS ROLE (92A: ... the vampire never ___)
  • AT THE WRAP PARTY (117A: ... the mummy was a hit ___)
Word of the Day: TORO (80D: Fatty tuna, in Japanese cuisine) —

Toro (toh-roh) is the term for the fatty part of the tuna, found in the belly portion of the fish. Toro is further broken up into two distinct subtypes, and they are more expensive due to their relative scarcity as a proportion of the entire fish. The two types of toro are:

Chutoro (choo-toh-roh), which is sometimes labeled chu-toro, is the belly area of the tuna along the side of the fish between the akami and the otoro. It is often preferred because it is fatty but not as fatty as otoro. 

Otoro (oh-toh-roh), which is sometimes labeled o-toro, is the fattiest portion of the tuna, found on the very underside of the fish. This cut is fatty almost to the point of falling apart and can literally melt in your mouth. (
• • •

What the hell is a "Halloween play"? The very premise is ridiculous, and most of the answer are torture. Painful, forced puns, phrases that aren't even stand-alone phrases. Genuinely awful. There was not one moment during this solve when I was having fun. The theme is garbage, and there are no (zero) really good answers outside the theme. Stunningly awful, all the way around. I love Halloween, but this ... what is this? What a horrible way to end an otherwise lovely day—first day of early voting in New York. I stood on line for what is, for me, a ridiculous amount of time (something over an hour), just to make sure that my vote would be counted—not a given. My wife is currently in quarantine, which she learned about only yesterday, and even though it only lasts until Tuesday (and she's in no real danger, honestly, don't worry), it seems quite possible, with community transmission as high as it currently is in my county, that she could get quarantined again, for longer, through election day, and all of a sudden I'm thinking "what if I'm quarantined? And I am not allowed to leave the house? Is that possible? Because that is not acceptable." So I panicked today and just went and stood in line and did the thing. And I'm picking up an absentee ballot for my wife on Monday, Just In Case. She'll probably emerge from quarantine on Wednesday and be able to vote just fine, but neither of us is willing to take any chances. We both have a visceral need to be part of the event that puts a stake through the heart of the current administration. So please vote. Unless you're a f***ing Trumpist, in which case, please go jump in a lake. Where was I? Oh, yeah, riding high on my feeling of community and civic responsibility ... until this stupid puzzle came along. 

The worst, the absolute worst thing about this puzzle is ASHOE (21D: Apt thing to wear during allergy season?). Whose idea was that clue? The fill is bad, enough, but fine, you need a partial like that, give me the Old Woman Who Lives In ___ and fine, it's done, moving on. But no, you gotta get cute with this awful, awful, inaccurate joke clue. It's apt to wear ... A SHOE? During allergy season? Let's start with the literal level here, as clearly nearly everyone wears A SHOE (two, even) every day, in every season. It's not an unusual, seasonal, or even very optional article of clothing, so the whole "apt thing to wear" is dumb on its face. Second, the "A" part ... is so awful. Why would anyone be looking for an indefinite article here? Why? I had --HOE and literally no idea. Thought I had an error (because I also couldn't get MY HERO! and had some other stupid name where stupid ancient crosswordese ANSE was supposed to be (9D: "As I Lay Dying" father), and thus also couldn't see MYLANTA, a brand I haven't even thought about in decades) (20A: Heartburn relief brand). But the very very worst thing about this whole A SHOE business is that It Doesn't Even Sound Like A Sneeze. It's "achoo," not "ashoo." This single clue / answer just makes me desperately wish for new leadership at the editorship position. Please. My kingdom for a different sensibility, with a decent sense of humor. Someone not living in Corny Punville circa 1975. 

There was a host of stuff that made it hard, stuff I just didn't know. TORO, for instance (as clued). and LIVE OAKS (108A: Southern shade trees). But mostly the reason it was hard was that so many of the themers were impossible for me to figure out because they weren't really plays on familiar phrases. For ever WARTS AND ALL (fine), there was a BAREBONES RENDITION (the "RENDITION" part, brutal ... what?). Or REFLECTED ON HIS ROLE (dear lord, the ON HIS ROLE part, just gibberish to me). One of your themers is AUDIENCE HISSED. Please, I know it's a cliché statement, but please let that sink in. AUDIENCE HISSED. How in the world is NOBODY TO ACT WITH a phrase ... anywhere ... at all ... ever? I gotta quit. Can someone who is actually funny or clever please, I beg you, submit a Sunday puzzle? Because it has been a *Painful* last few weeks. Phew. Monday can't come soon enough. Good day. And vote!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Harryp 12:11 AM  

I found what was required to finish the puzzle and liked it much more than OFL, less than 3 rexes to complete. That is a good day for me, since I am nowhere near a speed solver.

Kasi 12:12 AM  

After reading this post I feel better because I felt exactly the same way about the supposed theme in this puzzle.

astrotrav 12:13 AM  

Good god the fill in this was awful. MMS, IRV, GENL (no one EVER has abbreviated general is this way), SPEX, etc, etc. High points include EPHEMERA, TANGELO, ANORAK, ELEVEN (nice clueing). But the theme is stupid and doesn't make the sheer pain of the fill worth it. ODL hates everything, but in this case it is completely justified.

Jay Bee Singapore 12:19 AM  

Sorry about your voting delay (voters in Georgia enduring 10-hour waits to have their say), but boy are you grumpy today!

Some execrable fill as you mentioned, but I would hazard (despite a "Halloween play" not being a thing) most solvers enjoyed today's theme. I found three of the themer answers to be genuinely charming.

Some good fill too. For sure my Word of the Day was "EPHEMERA", but also loved "CRINKLE", "ERITREA", and "MOTETS".

Hope you get a better night's sleep tonight!

Joaquin 12:37 AM  

A harder than average Sunday with a less than average payoff.

And speaking of voting (as Rex was), how in the world can anyone still be undecided? The choice could not be more clear!

Ann Northrop 12:47 AM  

Couldn't agree more with every word of this -- puzzle and politics.

Anonymous 12:56 AM  

Wow! Sorry you didn't have fun - but I had a delightful time. I actually liked (for example) "the audience hissed." - for me a delightful pun on cats. And the same thing about - reflected on his role; vampires don't reflect etc. etc.

And a Halloween play - I've been to lots of them. Usually ghosts or goblins or the like - fun for all (especially if there are little kids involved.

I think you just woke up in a grumpy mood - and interestingly, because I had fun with it - this was the quickest Sunday solve I have had in many a month.

But - on another note - thanks for you daily analysis too.

N 12:57 AM  

yeah these theme answers were really poor. i thought the witch and frankenstein ones were fine, and maybe the skeleton one too. honestly i was filling out the vampire one, after getting reflected, truly hoping it wasn't "on his role" because of how flat that would be. no dice. also, is it audience "hissed" because cats hiss? that is very weak; if there's some superstition about hissing at a black cat (maybe there is) then that's a bit better.

i don't know how to describe what i dislike about it. normally i like theme puns more than rex. there's just something about the "depth" of these that felt very shallow

trebore 12:58 AM  

Completely agree. A miserable slog. I print the puzzle when it comes online (7 PM PDT) and did it after dinner. Took me almost an hour. Paper is smudged from multiple erasures. Only real happiness was Ray Bolger, 58A. On to the LA Times puz.

Bruce Fieggen 12:58 AM  

I wasn’t offended.
Seven puns.
All related to a play.
All using Halloween icons.
Can’t have been that easy to construct.
Brought a few smiles.

Joe Dipinto 1:09 AM  

First things first – @Rex, thanks for regaling us with your boring voting story. I fail to see what part of your day qualified as "lovely". On to the puzzle:

I don't think you have a wrap party after a play. It's a film thing. Cast party sure. But, not too big a deal. Obviously we're not going for pinpoint accuracy with this puzzle. @Rex, the theme answers were clearly not intended to be in-the-language phrases. Just plausibly silly sentence completers. I like [NOBODY/NO BODY] TO ACT WITH, myself. I did hiss at A SHOE at first, but even that started to seem endearingly silly.

So, I rather enjoyed it, in spite of its "stunningly awful all the way around"-ness.

This goes with 45d.

This goes with 93d.

Interesting acrostic today. Made me curious about the book from whence the quotation.

egsforbreakfast 1:24 AM  

Rex, though perhaps a tad overly-demonstrative, is right on. Some of the themers, like NOBODYTOACTWITH, are not known phrases or inferable substitutes for known phrases. Some, like WARTSANDALL, are known phrases. This is a total miss of a theme, and it seems like Mr. Collins’ 113 previous acceptances must have just given him a free pass here. I’m generally of the persuasion that any crossword is at least somewhat fun, so they’re all good. This was a glaring exception.

okanaganer 1:28 AM  

Yeah, just weird theme answers. For 85 across had NOBODYTO------- and just could only think of --BLAME ON(?!). Which is actually almost as common a phrase as the real answer. Meaning not common. For 92 across, "the vampire never", I stared at REFLECTED-N------- and went... REFLECTED IN MIRRORS?.

But I am most vexed by yet another stupidly wrong clue, today for MMS. The plural of millimeter is millimeters, but the plural of mm (the abbrev.) is mm. Not mms. It simply is not allowed to be used; the abbrev's are NEVER EVER pluralized by adding an S. Ever. It's the law.

Well, at least tonight no stupid college mascot/nickname clues. Thanks for that!

PS-- re election stuff; here in British Columbia we had a provincial election today. Big victory for the incumbent NDP party (which was actually in a tie in the previous election and only held power due to an alliance with the Green party). Sounds like there was very heavy advance voting, and light election day voting.

jae 1:35 AM  

Easy-medium. Liked this more than @Rex did, but had some of the same issues with the fill...A SHOE???

We voted a week ago and hand delivered our mail-in ballots to the Registrar of Voters office. It’s a sad day in America when you doubt the Postal Service.

Babz 1:48 AM  

The best part of doing this puzzle was reading your review, especially your comments about voting. A stake through the heart of the current administration sounds lovely. Vote blue everyone!

chefwen 2:33 AM  

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m easily pleased and this one brought forth a few chuckles. I’m a crazy cat lady, so the AUDIENCE HISSED was fun, AT THE WRAP PARTY was also a giggle. I kinda liked all the theme answers, WARTS AND ALL.

I started the puzzle at noon and had to set it aside so I’d have something to work on at wine thirty. Fun puzzle.

Mr. Alarm 2:42 AM  

I’m glad I didn’t waste much time on this puzzle. I gave up quickly and hit the “reveal puzzle” button.

I used to put on monster plays for my family, but not just at Halloween. Aurora used to make model kits of the Universal monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula, Mummy, Phantom of the Opera, etc.) and I would just improvise a play on them. Voicing banter between Dracula and Frankenstein etc. My very patient and generous family sat through these comedic Grand Guignols with aplomb.

I actually enjoyed the theme puns - I don’t know what that says about me - thought they were pretty funny. I say that as one who didn’t have to struggle to figure them out, though!

ghkozen 2:43 AM  

Couldn’t agree more about it being time for Will Shortz to go. An absolute disgrace to crosswords. Years and years beyond time to put a stake through the heart of his career. Good riddance.

SharonAK 2:49 AM  

This was FUN. And no harder than average for me.

I did grimace at the answer to 21 d I like puns generally. but this was a groaner.

Of course there are Halloween plays
And since it came out the Sunday before Halloween, fun fun.

What made ao many you early commenters so grouchy?

EricStratton 3:03 AM  

Unlike you, Rex, my vote will count as I live in South Carolina. And I will be voting for Trump. You are free to jump off my dock in Skaneateles if you need a lake into which to jump. But your vote won’t matter. Mine will. Yay.

ZenMonkey 3:35 AM  

A movie has a WRAP PARTY. Plays have cast parties, or cast and crew parties, etc. You do not “wrap” a play, except perhaps as a gift.

Halloween is cheesy by nature, so a cheesy Sunday wasn’t unlikable for me.

Washington state has only mail-in or ballot box voting, nothing in person, particularly appreciated at this time. Ballot boxes are *everywhere*; we live in an unincorporated area of King County (where Seattle is) and there’s a box within a five minute drive. Our ballots have long since been counted. It’s a great system and we’ve had enormous turnout so far, hugely more than 2016.

mkyritsis 4:07 AM  

Very hard, and not much joy at the end. Enjoyed the HISSing but little else. I voted absentee from Greece about a month ago (blue of course) and received word from my county in FL that it had been received, so nothing to do but wait. So worried am I that I forgot the clocks went back today in Europe, and missed having my lovely free hour in bed! Grrr.

Anonymous 5:58 AM  

It's amazing how things remain somewhere in the back of the brain. Once I had a few letters, I got NITTI, a name I don't remember encountering for 40 or 50 years. I don't even know whether the is fictional or real, or on the side of the law or of crime. But suddenly there it was. Similarly with APIA.

I didn't have the clues in front of me; just Rex's page, so I Googled GNAWAT. All 10 results say "Crossword puzzle answer." I think that means it's a terrible answer. Only got it through getting every single down. Anyone care to explain?

Took a long time to accept that it had to be LIVE OAK. Every tree is live, so it just didn't seem like that could be a thing. But it is.

Strictly non-partisan comment here: your vote for President will not count unless you live in PA.

There is virtually no road for Trump to win without PA, and ditto for Biden. Sure there are scenarios like Trump winning NV or WI but not PA, or Biden winning FL but not PA, but they are all highly unlikely.

This is not meant as a discouragement to voting; just stating a basic fact.

Lewis 6:19 AM  

This was a cozy TREK, with warm smiles at the cute theme answers, and a relaxed filling in of the grid – the kind of puzzle that would go well with a fireplace.

My favorite theme answer was NO BODY TO ACT WITH because of its play on the first two words; that drew a “Hah!”. I also liked CRINKLE, EPHEMERAL, SERAPE, ANORAK, AVIARY, EN GARDE, ACOLYTE – words that I don’t often hear, and that evoke pleasing sounds and images. My warm smiles continued with PAIGE and BOLGER, two who I could place under the category MY HERO. And I liked the cross of EVE with SECOND.

When I tried to think of another theme clue/answer, the following popped up: [For the bat, acting was never _____].

We’re not doing Halloween at our house this year, so thank you for at least supplying a shot of its fun spooky vibe Peter!

Lewis 6:20 AM  


Anonymous 6:49 AM  

Rex hated the puzzle, @Lewis loved it, oblah di, oblah dah, life’s goes on.


Dave 7:02 AM  

Yes, weak Sunday puzzle with bad, bad unfun puns.

But Rex, you're better than telling everyone who will vote for Trump to "jump in a lake" instead. Of course he's abhorrent on every level and will go down as easily the worst president in our history -- just wait at how quickly GOP leaders will disavow him after he loses -- but come on, man.

Colin 7:24 AM  

The NJ Turnpike provided the setting for this week's solve, as we were driving to my in-laws for a visit. (My wife drives.) I'm a little surprised OFL found this challenging, as I finished in nearly record time. For once, I have to agree with Rex: I cannot understand the theme. I mean, I get it but all this is, is a bunch a sentences that sort of play on the Hallloween character's role with some mildly amusing puns. Fill was bumpy for the reasons cited, plus: never seen GENL for a General ("GEN", maybe); DOT for the Morse code for letter E would've been better as "DIT" (dots and dashes in Morse code are "DIT"s and "DAH"s, to us ham operators); OSSE for bone:prefix ("OSTEO" is better; I've never seen any word starting with OSSE). ASHOE was just... a head-shaker.

I did appreciate some of the "old timer" clues - KHZ, RPM, BOLGER and PAIGE - as well as the sushi / sashimi / roll allusions. My wife and I go for Japanese food at least once a week.

Mr. Collins, congratulations on your 114th crossword for the NYT! Despite my critiques, I always enjoy the puzzles and appreciate the effort put into each one.

JenPo 7:34 AM  

People like Rex are still allowed to teach in our universities / imagine the constant indoctrination and inability to engage in respectful debate.

Lolcat Lisa 7:55 AM  


Anonymous 7:57 AM  


Anonymous 8:01 AM  

Interestingly, if Philadelphians had turned out to vote last election (only a small percentage did) it would have turned Pennsylvania against trump and the country wouldn’t be in such a mess.

mmorgan 8:07 AM  

Sometimes I am quite surprised when Rex likes or dislikes a given puzzle. Not today.

ChuckD 8:11 AM  

For me a typical Sunday of late - fill in the grid and groan at the theme. The idea of a pun is to be funny - these themers were not. I disagree with Rex regarding the overall fill - thought it was decent. The A SHOE/Achoo play was brutal and MOTETS and all the short glue - GENL, MMS, MRE etc were rough but there were some moments CRINKLE, ENGARDE and the beautiful LIVE OAKS to name a few. LIVE differentiates them from other oaks due to the strength of the wood and that they don’t drop their leaves. They are truly majestic trees.

This will be filed as another Sunday slog for my records - but didn’t hate it as much as Rex and others above. My presidential vote in NY hasn’t been relevant since the Reagan years. Rex should know - although I agree with his discourse- that every polling place in the state is required to post a No Electioneering sign.

Diver51 8:11 AM  

Hey Rex: It's a crossword blog. If one of your students turned in a paper that far off topic you'd fail her. Today, sonny boy, you fail. You want to comment on other stuff? Then start another blog.

Lewis 8:15 AM  

I loved this comment from @Puzzlemucker on WordPlay: "My suggestion is that we all come up with a better clue for ASHOE. I’ll start: RDY GLNI"

Barney 8:16 AM  

@Anonymous (PA): nah, dude, sharpen your pencil. Biden can lose PA and FL and still end up with more than 270 electoral college votes:

VT (3), NH (4), NY (29), MA (11), RI (4), CT (7), NJ (14), DE (3), MD (10), DC (3), VA (13), NC (15), MI (16), WI (10), IL (20), MN (10), CO (9), NM (5), AZ (11), NV (6), CA (55), OR (7), WA (12) = 277.

Also, arguably, control of the Senate and House is at least as important as winning the White House.

Karen 8:18 AM  

Just my 2 cents...i got hung up on sarape vs serape...duh!! I hate when my completion hinges on a foreign word that has alternate spellings. The down error didn't pop out at me since it was also a foreign word. That shouldn't be allowed, argh! Guess this puzzle had more tricks than treats! Happy Halloween everyone 🎃

Rachel LS 8:19 AM  

Yeah, for once I came to hear the grumping rather than to peek at the solve.

The truly undecided are on the verge of "he stinks" and "but we can't give things to THOSE people."

Then there are the liberals who are (justly) disappointed in Biden and are deciding whether to go to the polls. Come on, people, our lives depend on it!

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Thanks for making the early voting line even longer for people who have no choice but to vote on the weekend.

Unknown 8:44 AM  

That is true only if the margin of victory in South Carolina is one vote.

Ernonymous 8:47 AM  

I'm glad I watched the Bill Barr hearing, as disgusting as it was listening to that lying sack of shyte. I was so impressed by Hakeem Jeffries, the way he destroyed that smug creep, that entry was a gimme.
Who else knew while solving this exactly what Rex was gonna say about it? Probably before I used to read his blog, I would have thought it was fine. Now I'm thinking hasn't this been done 1000 times? Is this theme stale and old-timey?

RooMonster 8:47 AM  

Hey All !
I think I was at that Halloween Play! I remember HISSing.

Fun SunPuz that Rex and others are taking way too seriously. Maybe after all this politics/voting kerfuffle is over, people will relax. Well, half the people, anyways.

I liked this one. The puns were corny enough to elicit a sneer here and there. I do agree some fill was iffy, but in a Sunday size puz, that'll happen more than not. Also agree PACman gets more lenience for his puzs. Two cents...

Had a three-letter DNF today. cMS/cME for MMS/MME, even though no idea what cME was supposed to be, IPaD/MaTETS for IPOD/MOTETS, sorta kinda should've known MOTETS rather than MaTETS, but, unsophistication rears it's ugly head again, and IRa/aILLES for IRV/VILLES, Defensible! aILLES sounds Frenchy, no? And whose first thought for IR_ is IRV? Just sayin'.

But an overall nice puz. Stuck in East-Center area, last area to go, so broke down and Googed for Samoas Capital. Hmm, seems like it should be filed away in the crosswordese section of the ole brain. Guaranteed I don't remember it next time I see it!

Happy Halloween, if it exists this year. Man, 2020, put this year in hindsight!

Two F's

Ernonymous 8:49 AM  

@diver51 it's his blog, he can write about whatever he wants. We are at a moment in history where most Americans have nothing else on their minds.

Joaquin 8:53 AM  

@Diver51 (8:11) - Nope. It's Rex's blog so he has the absolute right to include whatever he wants to include. He has written about his family, his dogs, his cat, his vacations, and now politics.

He has no obligation to stick strictly to crosswords (though crossword commentary does account for at least 90% of his blog) just as you have no obligation to read his blog.

kitshef 8:54 AM  

Overwhelmingly meh. Quite a bit of work for not a lot of fun.

Tip for you constructors out there. If you have a really bad entry in your grid, but one that you just can't get rid of, clue it as simply and straightforwardly as you possibly can. People will see it, enter it, and move on. Do NOT call attention to your bad entry with an elaborate or tricky clue. Exhibit A: A SHOE.

Maddiegail 8:59 AM  

ASHOE??? Wha???
@Mathgent 6:23 pm yesterday Sorry ... saw your post too late last night. "Age to age" is from one of the Eucharistic Prayers.

pmdm 9:19 AM  

This is certainly a puzzle most will either extremely like or extremely dislike. The theme answers might be an acquired taste that many have not acquired. That said, I must say that there will be a tremendous number of solvers who love this puzzle. But certainly enough to justify its being published. Halloween is a day that, while it can be a lot of fun for children, can be a mean day if you are a victim of egg throwing. So I guess I find it appropriate for a this puzzle to include the very good and the awful. Depending on your outlook.

If you can't laugh at ASHOE, even in a wincing way, retreat.

Frayed Knot 9:19 AM  

I like Halloween and I was amused by this one. My favorite themer was about the ghost who had " No body to act with".
Over here in the lake with @EricStratton 3:30 a.m. the water is fine. People are friendly and polite. You can wear any hat you want and not be afraid of getting beat up or screamed at.

Smith 9:22 AM  

@Joe 1:09

I've had some interesting reading by finding the books from which the acrostic quotes are taken! Recently The Poisoner's Handbook (well, um, that was January). Looking forward to today's.

Schuly 9:30 AM  

No, it is true if there is a nonzero likekihood that the margin is one vote. My vote in PA counts approximately one million times more than Rex's (thank G_d).

Z 9:35 AM  


A SHOE - If you’re going to do groan-worthy dad jokes it is always best to go big or go home. This is so bad it is good.

Halloween doesn’t make my top ten holidays, but as a timely theme this is fine. The total separation from in the language phrases is a feature, not a bug. My biggest issue with the puzzle are all the IN/AT/TO/SO two word answers. Two IN answers in the north stood out early in the solve and it seemed like every section has one.

How long before the Mods have to delete? I can only assume that Rex starting it is resulting in some leeway, but several seem to be getting too personal already.

pabloinnh 9:36 AM  

I liked this more than OFL, as usual, which is to say, a little bit. The time involved to fun derived ratio just skewed the wrong way. My favorite wrong first take was ENGAGEME for ENGARDE. Sort of like mine better. Also had a hard time connecting Frank NITTI to Mr. Capote, but that's a reading glasses thing, again.

Nice to see Peru IN and its relation to Lima. I started my Spanish teaching career in Peru NY and when people asked me what I did, I could say I teach Spanish in Peru, which amused me, at least.

Today I learned that Casandra=TROJAN. Not a connection I made instantly.

Most of our town has voted already, safely and easily. Town officials work hard to make sure that all our votes are legitimate and counted and deserve our thanks, not any insulting insinuations of massive fraud, especially without any evidence. Come on.

Thanks for the distraction, PC. Not on your wavelength today, but at least this took a while.

JOHN X 9:41 AM  

Ha ha what is this, National Cranky Day?

It is? Well I can play that game too . . .

I thought this Sunday puzzle was pretty good and I liked it. Sunday's are not my favorite days because I solve on an iPad and the text is actually pretty tiny. Many years ago, when I was a co-tenant in a group summer house in Bethany Beach DE way before "The Internet" and I would solve the puzzle in the NYT Sunday magazine while watching tennis on TV before we would all go to the shore under the big old World War II concrete coastal watch towers. Many beautiful ladies. Young JOHN X got laid like a rabbit.

I live in Los Angeles County, and voting here is so easy that I've actually voted four times already. For President I always write in myself for the top slot and Dick Nixon as my VP. I might vote again today.

Remember earlier this week? I could have given you a lecture on superchargers that you would not soon forget. Also, my favorite war criminal is Nipponese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, who, after the Nipponese surrender, when the first American MPs came to arrest him for the ghastly Nipponese war crimes that were committed under his command, he shot himself in the chest and missed his heart even though he had a doctor mark where he should shoot. Fortunately for him, he was hanged about a year later.

Last night I had a very lucid dream about a great dog of mine who died ten years ago. We were just hanging out together. He lived a long happy life and died of old age. He was the best friend I ever had. I don't know what the afterlife is but if it's like that dream I'm not afraid to die.

That is all. As you were.

DeeJay 9:44 AM  

Well said, Giovanni, thank you.

EdFromHackesack 9:46 AM  

ugh finished with an error OStE/REFLECTEDONHItROLE. I do hard copy so there’s never a Happy Pencil for me. Agree with Rex about ASHOE. just clumsy. But, other than that the puzzle was a lot of fun and challenging.

Hungry Mother 9:50 AM  

Not so bad today. TORO didn’t float my boat and made the ON/iN choice a bit difficult. Maybe clueing, “the other one in a pair with 109D.” Anyhoo, I got through it.

biltmb48 9:58 AM  

I thought the puzzle was mildly amusing and a pretty easy solve. I’m really surprised that everyone disliked the “ASHOE” clue/answer. It may have been my favorite answer! I have two young grandchildren, and I can’t wait to use it as a joke for them. They’re going to love it! Try to conjure up your inner child once in a while everyone, and try not to be so judgmental. Life these days is serious enough.

Unknown 10:01 AM  

When I struggle with a puzzle I love that I can check your blog to see if it's me or the puzzle that's stupid. I didn't think it was me that and you seem to back it up

Blue Stater 10:01 AM  


bocamp 10:08 AM  

A perfect Sunday puzzle to get us into the Halloween spirit. Silly, lighthearted, creepy and just plain fun. Also tossing in the right amount of challenging fill to make the effort well worthwhile. Thank you! @Peter. :)

Got off to a good start in the NW, and struggled a bit only with the Great Lakes and the central Atlantic coast.

3D: Had "end at" before "end in"; wasn't sure of the terminal vowel for "Nitt_", "y" or "i"; "otra/otro" always a prob.; same reaction to "a shoe" as @Joe 1:09 AM (just part of the zaniness of the puz :)

Slightly under ave. but 3 1/2 x faster than the Patrick Berry puzzle I did yesterday aft. (Sun., Aug. 24, 2003). What a fine puzzle that was; I just wasn't anywhere near his wave length, but sure did appreciate the challenge.

New to me: "Irv" Gotti; "live oaks"; "Tara" (as clued); "toro" (as clued).

Seen before, but hazy: "vaca"; "Anse" (got the audiobook on hold at my local library); "roux"; "Oates"; "Hakeem" Jeffries; "villes"; "arret"; "Mylanta".

Prefixes: "osse" vs "osteo"; "acro/a". For some reason, I have difficulty remembering the "o".

Took fencing at community college: "en garde" is "spoken at outset to alert fencers to take defensive positions. Full commencing phrase is "En garde! Prêts? Allez!" (For two female fencers, 'prêts' becomes 'prêtes.')" (Wikipedia)

Satchel "Paige" - maybe the greatest pitcher of all time.

"Monster Mash" - Bobby Pickett

Peace ειρήνη Selam Frieden Paz 平和 Paix 🕊

Z 10:08 AM  

Also, Sorry Rex, but we will worry. Quarantine means exposure means risk of having caught it which means we have no idea what the course of infection might be. Age and gender are pluses for your wife, but we still don’t understand why some become severely ill and others don’t. I live in a tourist mecca and I drive through our quaint downtown on a beautiful autumn Saturday and just shake my head. Seriously people, dining out by dining inside is still a really really bad idea. I do lots of take-out these days and tip heavily. People need to work, but they are quite literally risking their lives for $10/hour.


Anonymous 10:15 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot - Halloween plays are quite common. Im always surprised when folks complain about common answers like Live Oak trees. I'm also shocked that an English professor in NY is a liberal! Put me in the lake in a state that counts - Florida.

John 10:23 AM  

In a word, boo. Not enjoyable. ASHOE caused me actual pain. Blech.

Nancy 10:37 AM  

Awful. It felt as though the theme answers could be anything at all, so unless I had pretty much all the crosses, I couldn't figure them out. Only WARTS AND ALL is in the language; the last word of all the other themers seemed arbitrary.

For example, even in the ones I got: It could have been a BARE BONES SPEECH or PLOT or PERFORMANCE or...anything. Why RENDITION? BARE BONES RENDITION is not an oft-heard phrase. Neither is A VARIETY OF PARTS. And the audience could have BOOED the black cat. Or GASPED at it. Or anything at all.

Moving right along to the theme answers I didn't get: Can you Natick on two crossing answers -- neither of which is a proper noun? In this case, I SAYSO that you can. I had no idea what (that was HIS) the vampire REFLECTED ON. And I had no idea what the ghost needed to do with someone but had no one to do it with. I thought the verb began with "M", since I had a midSEA rescue instead of an AIRSEA rescue. When I came here and saw ACT... Do ghosts really want to ACT with people? Is that their raison d'etre?

A slow, sloggy, deeply frustrating solve that turned out to be a non-solve. I thought it was completely nonsensical, as well as no fun and unfair.

Unknown 10:41 AM  

Laughed all the way through! But must agree about "a shoe." Rex, maybe you need a vacation.

GILL I. 10:42 AM  

Well I'm glad some of you got MYLANTA....Without so much as a reach for the TP, I put in IMODIUM and was so proud of myself. Speaking of TP and Halloween.....@Z WHAAAAT? Halloween is not in your top ten holidays? You have three boys, right? They were young once, right? Did you not have fun with the trick and treats? Dressing them up as vampires? Letting them egg your least favorite neighbor? I have wonderful memories.....My Cuban one was a favorite. We'd go to expensive MANORS in Biltmore and tell them that it was customary to give us money.
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Peter has given us a BARE BONES RENDITION and you made @Rex mad. All's well with the WARTS AND ALL.
I would've preferred seeing more trickery; some candy and perhaps a horror movie or two - but this was fine for some diversion.
I voted. I will always vote. If only people that don't had lived in countries that keep others from the privilege we have, then perhaps they'd rethink staying at home and not caring.
Wear your, and do a little praying. It might work.

Rube 10:42 AM  

A sneeze.. ??!!!!!????.That's it? A sneeze????. The letters had to be right given the crosses but wtf is ASHOE. I needed to come here to get the explanation. Rex is absolutely right. This is unquestionably the worst clue/answer I have ever seen in more than a half century of NYT puzzling.

Andrew Heinegg 10:48 AM  

Um, we need only about 335 million people or so to have your attitude and approach if we are going to live through this.

The pandemic and the possibility of Trump getting re-elected are a lovely combination to add to the mix, don't you think?

Frantic Sloth 10:51 AM  

Idle ponderment: Why LIVEOAKS? Specifically, why LIVE? Are there such things as deadOAKS? At least ones that are living? I suppose I could look it up, but then I couldn't idly ponder the issue. Anyone can learn facts. But can they just sit and wonder about [fill in the triviality]? I think not.

I can't look at ASHOE without seeing the (obviously) missing letters. Probably why I didn't get the "joke" until I read Rex. Then I got it, but didn't care for it. Bleh.

Struggling for anything to say (clearly?) and after reading Rex's evisceration of this puzzle, naturally I was curious about other write-ups of this constructor - including my own.
I guess it's safe to say he's not one of OFL's favorites.
More illuminating to me was this, the entirety of my review for his last creation before today's:

It seems the "I really can't be bothered" bug is contagious. And I've got it.

Let's just go with that. I wanna get to the comments...


SouthsideJohnny 10:57 AM  

I just bobbed and weaved my way thru the English wordplay clues (you know - the actual crossword stuff) and didn’t bother much with the nonsense (what the hell is a CRINKLE ?), the trivia and the foreign contingent - probably solved about 60% of it before giving up.

I wonder what percentage of today’s solvers have ever even heard of NITTI - maybe one in 20 max ? Probably closer to one in a hundred or maybe even one in a thousand. It seems like there should be some threshold (which could be relaxed on Fridays and Saturdays). Seems like “Have a minimum of 5% of the solving population at least heard of this answer ?” Would be a valid (and valuable) constraint. We all know that Dark Matter exists in the universe and is not discernible with current theory and technology - which is cool if astrophysics is your cup of tea. I would suggest that it’s not appropriate to include it on Sundays when a wider audience may want to participate as well.

Reno retired 11:06 AM  

I’m an independent and do not vote on party lines. So in Rex view if I ever said Biden voters should go jump in a lake I’d be labeled a stupid white supremist subject to execution by drowning. The uber liberals however are free to kill and denegrate those who don’t agree with them. Forgot Rex was a Che lover.

thefogman 11:11 AM  

If Rex is residing in the same house as his wife he should also be under quarantine and stay inside. The puzzle was crappy. Top and middle portion easy. Bottom tier annoyingly hard because of bad cluing. Why is Will Shortz giving the green light to such junk?

rjkennedy98 11:13 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Cheese 11:15 AM  

@Lewis 8:15
I’ll smile the rest of the day thx to your post.
Amen Brother! Rudy went to the dark side.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Still no takers on what GNAWAT might mean?

Barney at 8:16:

My pencil is pretty sharp. You have Biden winning NC and AZ and losing PA. Yes, that's possible. But it's extremely unlikely.

thefogman 11:19 AM  

PS - Vote and Tuck Frump!

Rug Crazy 11:19 AM  


Anonymous 11:24 AM  

You’re the totalitarian. You’re the danger to Democracy. Only Biden voters should exercise their franchise? Trump voters should jump in a lake? Got it. Nothing anti-democratic about that.No siree.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Anon 11:18
Forget Barney’s bizarre idea about how the states will fall. His arithmetic is wrong. The states he invokes, tediously, don’t add up to 270.

Yes Barney, I know you didn’t include each state Biden will win. Nevertheless, your equation, that you penned, is incorrect.

I hope you are part of the Biden team and bring the same acumen to his campaign

AnneHH 11:40 AM  

Just had to come to say how much I am with you on the stake int he heart of the current administration even though I think you are too harsh about today's puzzle. 1000% agree with you about the only way to vote. Thanks!

oliar 11:41 AM  

Can we please disallow mathematicians from doing NYT crossword puzzles?
I'm sorry, but inventing words to fill your grid may seem like a "creative" solution to someone with a love for numbers and a hatred for words...but math folks have been responsible for so much dreck in these puzzles recently it can't be a coincidence.

Frantic Sloth 11:43 AM  

@Lewis 815am (and Puzzlemucker) 👍😂

And that is the end of the joy for me here today. My stomach hurts already and who needs that?

AnneHH 11:43 AM  

Just want to say how right you are about putting a stake in the heart of the current administration even though I think you are too harsh about today's puzzle. Yes, your critique is completely valid but my husband and I enjoyed solving it very much.

maki-girl 11:47 AM  

Yikes! I hardly ever comment so I will not be missed, but I made a mental note today to skip this blog in the future! So many weeks of crankiness! You know what? I loved this puzzle! It was fun to guess at how each character (black cat, skeleton etc) would appear in a Halloween/play mash-up. And Halloween plays are totally a thing in schools—I once played an alien in a bathrobe in one! I also don’t mind if there are answers I haven't heard of because ... it’s fun to learn? I always box the trivia-ish clues to ask my Mom when we have Sunday dinner and this week 57A, 112A, 24D and 93D went in the box. Maybe everyone will think I’m simple-minded if I enjoyed this, but that’s ok ... Onward to less cranky places!

Z 12:06 PM  

@Anonymous 11:18 - I’m guessing you’re on a cellphone and looking for a “reply.” I explained at 9:35.

@thefogman - Now that you mention it, yep. Also, the whole Tuck Frump thing takes on another shade of titter post-Borat.

@Frantic Sloth - Did you figure out the LIVE OAK thing, yet?

@Gill I - Dress up has never been my thing. The boys liked it fine for about five years each. Most of those years we lived on a street with two men who were really into decorating their houses. We were on the block in between so we typically got over a thousand trick or treaters every year. That was kind of fun. But most of it, the ghouls and horror movies and such, gets a giant “meh” from me. If I want a good scare I can just pick up a newspaper.

I forgot to mention the memory MYLANTA sparked. After teaching for six years in a small district in west Michigan I took a job as an assistant principal at a large high school in Dearborn, right outside of Detroit. My previous high school was 8-12 and had ~550 students. The 9th grade class I was now responsible for had 600. I walk in on my first day to the 9th grade office (2 weeks before the students start) underneath the main stairs (really, underneath) meet my secretary, and start putting my stuff on my desk. I open a drawer and find an industrial sized bottle of MYLANTA. Alrighty then. What have I walked into?

Electoral College Math based on, you know, facts. Nothing better than arguing politics on a crossword blog, is there? Thanks Rex.

Unknown 12:08 PM  

I love Rex's rants

bocamp 12:09 PM  

@maki-girl 11:47 AM

You're a bright and shining light. Share more of it with us! 😊


Peace ειρήνη Selam Frieden Paz 平和 Paix 🕊

people50 12:11 PM  

Usually when I hate a puzzle I come here and see one of the rare positive reviews. I was happy to see a review that matched my opinion in this case.

Two missed cluing opportunities ABED should have referenced the community character. I have literally never heard ABED used in the way it was clued.

ELEVEN would have been a nice callback to clue as "One of the kids on Stranger Things" to call back to the LUCAS clue.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Sorry, Z, missed your post, because I did a search for GNAWAT and found nothing. Thanks for the explanation. Duh!

kitshef 12:16 PM  

@Reno retired - can you cite even a single instance where Rex has indicated a love for Che? Or are just making that up, too?

TJS 12:21 PM  

"Have the final word" implies the answer will be a verb, no? "Sayso" is a noun. Oddly enough, "Say no" would be more apt.

I enjoyed this for the most part. DNFed on "Hazers" rather than "Haters" which left me with "Zoro" rather than "Toro". Japanese. Whatever.

When I struggle to find something to say, I say nothing. It won't killya.

Carola 12:22 PM  

I was going to say, "Worth it for WARTS AND ALL," until @Joe Dipinto 1:09 unmasked the word play of NOBODY = NO BODY for the ghost. That joke redeems the puzzle for me. Wish I'd gotten it at the time. For me, the Halloween treats were more in the non-theme entries: EPHEMERA, SERAPE, CRINKLE, and being reminded of the delightful Ray Bolger and of days of yore, watching "The Untouchables" on b&w TV, with steel-jawed Robert Stack's Eliot Ness taking on Bruce Gordon as Frank NITTI.

Help from previous crosswords: ANSE, APIA; chagrined not to know: HAKEEM.

G money 12:24 PM  

Just got out of the lake and dried off.
Do U ever notice this VOTE message that all the libs are pushing?
What they really mean is VOTE FOR BIDEN
Because Let’s face it,
Your LIFE depends on it!
Good God people, my life depends on it?
How about getting a life?
I’m going to finish the crossword,
Go out to a delightful lunch with wine whilst sitting outside WITH OTHER PEOPLE GOD FORBID!,take a nap, watch football or golf, have dinner,
Make love to my beautiful, intelligent wife and get up tomorrow, go to work where I employ 48 people and then do it all over.
And next Tuesday I’m going to cast a vote for someone who has common sense about the issues of most Americans and not worry about his delivery or whether I like him or whether he hurts my feelings boo hoo.
So loosen up Rex and all you elitist followers.
The puzzle was light-hearted.
Take a cue!!

Tom R 12:34 PM  

I dunno - I kind of liked the theme. Took some time to suss out the answers, but they made a cogent theme. I actually smiled when I figured out "warts and all." It was a tough Sunday with a considerably longer solve time than usual, but I was satisfied at the end.

Barney 12:37 PM  

Appreciating that it's tedious and not wanting to put too fine of a point on the (apparently) bizarre idea of addition, but...

3 + 4 + 29 + 11 + 4 + 7 + 14 + 3 + 10 + 3 + 13 + 15 + 16 + 10 + 20 + 10 + 9 + 5 + 11 + 6 + 55 + 7 + 12 = 277 (as I noted previously).

And, um, 277 > 270.

As the saying goes, everyone is entitled to his or her (or their) opinion, but not everyone is entitled to his or her (or their) set of facts.

Re: PA, AZ, NC, yes, I would agree that if Biden wins NC and AZ, he's likely also going to take PA. However, that's not a given.

NC and AZ have two of the most competitive Senate seats. It's possible (even likely) that the opportunity to flip those seats will increase voter turnout among Democrats in those states relative to PA. In all likelihood, it won't make a difference, but it could in a close race.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

G money,

Colin 12:46 PM  

I'm coming 'round to the Halloween play thing... The only one I ever saw was in the movie "Love, Actually", and there is this funny scene about the lobsters - yes, lobsters - in the Nativity scene:
Karen (mother, played by Emma Thompson): So what's this big news, then?
Daisy (daughter): [excited] We've been given our parts in the Nativity play. And I'm the lobster.
Karen: The lobster?
Daisy: Yeah!
Karen: In the Nativity play?
Daisy: [beaming] Yeah, first lobster.
Karen: There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?
Daisy: Duh.

Z 12:51 PM  

@Anon12:15 - 👍🏽 - We’ve all been there. cf Dook, Toat, and Goat - all infamous Dooks.

What? 12:57 PM  

Really difficult. Why? Because it’s awful! The puns are not even groaners. When you have fills that make no sense, it makes things hard but for the wrong reason.
I hear Shortz is just now working on June submissions so you’d think he would have plenty to choose from. Maybe not Sundays.

Hack mechanic 1:13 PM  

Misread the clue as Capote.
Frank Nitro ran the mob after Capone, easy once I read it correctly.

Unknown 1:17 PM  

Have you ever liked a puzzle?Like to see one. Anyway love your politics.

Miranda 1:23 PM  

Agree with Rex today, on the puzzle and the politics. I voted on the first day. My daughter is a first-time voter, she’s planning to go to early voting with friends soon, but every day that passes I get more anxious. “What if you get hit by a meteor?” I ask her. “Mom, I’m going to go, I promise.”

Voting for the guy who won’t pledge to accept the election results is plain un-American, the end. And it’s just one of the many disqualifying traits of the current occupant.

It is obvious from the comments here that it is equally urgent to get rid of electoral collage. It’s not quaint or outdated, it was never a good idea and it’s indefensible now. If you want everyone’s vote to count, it needs to go, and if you don’t, I invite you to jump in a lake.

Cookie 1:29 PM  

I’d say one in 20 Sunday puzzles are clever and fun. The bar has become so low over the years - people who haven’t been solving them for several years have no clue! The dumbing down of the puzzles correlates with dumbing down of the Republican Party.

Masked and Anonymous 1:45 PM  

yep. This SundayPup had a few kinks in it that ain't gonna please everybody.

First we have the ultra-out-there premise of a "Halloween Play". Why not go with somethin everyone can get on the hayride with, like a Halloween/Horror Movie, instead? Somethin they've heard tell of before, so it'll have heard immunity. Themers could pretty much stay as they are, with some very slight twerkin of their clue texts.

Say … Halloween Party might also work. Those do exist … M&A has actually attended a coupla them rodeos, over his many years on the loose. Best M&A costume: Once came as a prophylactic dispenser machine. [Wore a large white box, with various words/art drawn on it. Coin slot had the requisite "No Refunds" message in red nearby. Dispensed real teeny balloons with holes punched in em by a paper punch. PuzEatinSpouse wore a "I'm not with him" nametage. Great times.] But, I kinda approach the digression line, I reckon.

Next, we have the short answers, which GENLy leaned heavy on the abbreve meat. Pick of the weeject litter: MMS. The longer answers were GENLy pretty good, tho. Really liked: EPHEMERA. MY(HERO)LANTA. TANGELO. BACHELOR. CALLERID. ACOLYTE. ENGARDE. etc. etc.

OK -- and then there's that one big-ass Gorilla in the Yurt: ASHOE. har. Sorry, but I gotta agree here with the folks who said that this clue/answer combo was sooo groany, it was good. Mighta been the best ahar moment in the whole day-um puz. The NO BODY TOACTWITH ghost themer was also primo, tho.

Better ASHOE clue coulda maybe have been {Outburst deserving a "Kedsundheit" response??}, if the Shortzmeister would just get on board with them double-?-mark clues.

M&A was kinda sad that the Wolfman got left out of the Halloween Play cast. M&A can especially identify with that schlock flick character, after six months+ now without a haircut.

Did learn somethin new: that Toro sells fatty tuna. Diversification.

Thanx for the borderline spooky puz, Mr. Collins dude. Althooo … Mighty BAREBONES on the U's, dude.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


KnittyContessa 1:53 PM  

Did not enjoy this one little bit. I don't speak Spanish. I don't speak French. I don't watch Stranger Things. I have never heard of ANSE or LIVEOAKS or IRV or HAKEEM. Oh, the list goes on. Resorted to google to finish. I was so hopeful when I saw the title. (Sigh)

jberg 1:59 PM  

I just let myself get into the spirit of strained puns; then it was fun to try to suss them out. Even A SHOE. (And since "achoo" is only an attempt to represent a noise with letters, it's hard to say that one is right and one is wrong.) And seeing NO BODY and WRAP made me willing to take the rest of the phrase. Of course, a truly great puzzle would have done better in this area.

Also, TORO. Wonderful to eat, almost impossible to get here in Boston; so just seeing it in the puzzle gave me pleasure. Sadly, it comes from the severely endangered bluefin tuna, so it's probably a sin to eat it.

I've never heard a LIVE OAK called anything but that, while black, pin, red, and other oaks are frequently called just "oak." I've no idea why.

old timer 2:04 PM  

Gosh, OFL must have left California at a very young age and never returned, for LIVE OAKS are a very common tree in the Coast Range and in the hills of Southern California. They are likely to burn in our fires, but the acorns survive and before you know it: New LIVE OAKS!

And really, isn't it the duty of every Dad to show up for every Halloween play in elementary school? Actually our local school tended to have plays for the younger kids, and a big outdoor party on the weekend before Halloween. Ghosts and goblins and witches, oh my!

The puzzle was a slog, and we have been blessed with more satisfying solves in the last few weeks, and I'd be grumpy too if I had to go vote in person. I'll vote for Shamala, but reluctantly, and for Biden enthusiastically, but will never call her comma-la. The person I voted for years ago for California AG rhymed with Pamela. OFL, in his day job, knows and has read Shamela, Fielding's early parody. As the Victorians used to say about "loose" women, she was no better than she should be.

If I decide to mail my ballot, it will be counted. California gives the Postal Service weeks to deliver ballots mailed as late as Election Day. Of course the Republicans don't even pretend to have a hope of winning our trove of electoral votes.

Merry 2:06 PM  

G money....smug much?

sixtyni yogini 2:13 PM  

🎯 Rex nailed it for me. 🎯
So wanted this 🧩 to be over —🔚🔜
And that’s not all I want to be over.
Thanks to Rex and everyone who makes the special effort to vote.
(It was fast and easy here, but was prepared to wait for evaaah‼️.)
Stay well! ❤️🙏🏽❤️

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

Rex, I'm sorry for the stressful time that you and your wife are going through. Reading your blog has been a major stress-reliever for me during this awful (and seemingly endless) era. I thank you for that. Wishing you and yours well-being and a blue wave.

LegWork 2:29 PM  

This puzzle ruined my bath!

Ernonymous 2:32 PM  

@g money do you understand why "libs are pushing the Vote message"? It's the same reason Republicans suppress the vote. If 100% of Americans voted, the Republicans would never win a seat anywhere.
The Democrats aren't saying "everyone vote but vote for Biden". They are saying Everyone Vote, for whoever you want to vote for, because if everyone votes, we will win!
Republicans only represent about 32% of the country, they can only be a majority in an election if the turnout is low. They are acutely aware of this so they work as hard as possible to make sure it's hard to vote. Look at Greg Abbott of Texas, declaring only one drop box per county, where in one county that's one box for 2.4 million people. He's making it hard to make sure your vote is counted by making elderly people drive 1000 miles to deliver their ballot. Well you could always mail it, but the mail has been very slow this year, but that's a whole other topic. They try to make laws where a ballot that is
postmarked by election day, but shows up 2 days late isn't counted. They've spent millions of dollars on fighting any law that makes more votes count.

Anonymous 2:52 PM  

I thought that Rex would scoff at the puzzle as too easy.

Ditch 3:16 PM  

first time commenter, long time reader, just posting to acknowledge the relief i felt when you hated this puzzle as much as i did. my house is fully decorated with ghosts and skeletons and bats and now this puzzle is trying to ruin halloween and this won't stand!

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

Yeah, it was frustrating because I was trying to "get" the theme, and then I realized there wasn't one. Just random phrases, loosely tied to theater themes.....

Swampgal81 3:25 PM  

@Frantic Sloth I pondered “Live Oaks” similarly years ago. I eventually learned. Here’s why “Live Oaks.” Live Oaks are deciduous trees - they have leaves 12 months a year.

They don’t look dead in the winter like trees that lose their leaves - their leaves remain green. And, they live a long time. We have one here I Charleston, SC that is 1000 years old.

Thank you for making me remember pondering, “Live.? ” and musing about the concept of “Live Oaks.”

Ken Freeland 3:36 PM  

Not a good Sunday.. A cheesy puzzle follwed here by gratuitous advocacy for the most corrupt politician ever to come down the pike. Better luck next week, I guess, or more likely, two weeks from now.

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

Does anybody else think that it is time for Rex to pursue other opportunities?

Smith 4:45 PM  

@Joe 1:09 again

Interesting about the acrostic. I've never heard of the author. DH and I have an indoor walk planned for tomorrow at the Short Hills Mall, in part because it has an Indigo book store. So guess what I found when I googled the author? The book from which the quotation is taken was... Indigo's pick for best book of 2019.

Yes, mall walking. We did 5 lovely outdoor miles today and have been doing pretty well most days. But rain...

I miss New York.

Hungry Mother 5:00 PM  

Please don’t diss the many mathematicians aboard. We don’t like to crow about our superior intelligence and general likability, but it’s there anyway. We are also mostly harmless except when we’re proving a sticky theorem. Not to hurt any feelings, but many mathematicians score higher on the verbal parts of SATs. Don’t poke our hives.

Casimir 5:02 PM  

Right, because republican smugness is the overwhelming position of comments on this blog! Thanks for calling out the true problem!

Anonymous 6:36 PM  

I enjoyed it. rex, thou doest protest TOO MUCH!

Diane Joan 6:39 PM  

I liked the puzzle except for "what to wear in allergy season". I'm glad I read the blog because although I got ASHOE from the crosses, I didn't get the pun. Maybe it's because we have poison ivy in our yard and always fear ticks so we have to wear ASHOE or preferably two at all times. Now AMASK on the other hand would be dandy during allergy season but I guess we've all had enough of that!

Rex, I hope your wife is okay and wish her well. My children have had to go back to work in person and it's been a very difficult thing for them. If only everyone could be tested like a professional sports team...

jonkotaco 7:10 PM  


Anonymous 7:21 PM  

So @Reno retired how many Democratic presidential nominees have you voted for? Maybe Carter? If that’s it in the last 50 years, you’re just kidding yourself.

Anonymous 7:23 PM  

You mean that live oaks are evergreen, not deciduous.

chefwen 8:48 PM  

@G money, Right on!

RPCV Cameroon 9:00 PM  

My 17 year-old daughter told us at the dinner table that supporting DJT doesn’t mean you are a racist. But it does mean you are ok with racism. Thought I’m a Democrat I’ve voted for Republicans when I thought they were the best candidate. I didn’t agree with many of George W Bush’s positions but I believe he is a decent human being who respects our fundamental institutions of democracy. The same cannot be said of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

CDilly52 9:45 PM  

OOF!! Two days in a row of flying through a bunch of the puzzle only to have the wheels come off the bus in the SW and screeeeeech. . . dead stop. I usually start my Sunday puzz by noon at the latest and today was no exception. Had record time down to the SW and then nothing, crickets - with intermittent “AHAs” and I actually did not finish until about an hour ago.

Started with a good chuckle over the first two themers. The hissing reminded me of a specific hissing story.

OC, my avatar, had a special game with her Cat Daddy, my husband, Larry. The first theme answer reminded me of one specific “hissing foul” and a demonstration of the depth of human bonding with animals.

She has this ancient fuzzy “tail” that at one time was filled with catnip, but has been hunted and “killed” so many times it is essentially shredded strips of fake fur now. And the game authorizes human hissing at the cat only upon very specific circumstances. Hisses are the person calling a “kitty foul.”

OC was Larry’s nurse and constant companion. She never left his side except for trips to the litter box which she timed when he slept.

He invented a game for them in his last weeks at home. One Saturday he asked me to find and bring him a long length of sturdy string, and asked that I bring that with “the tail” back to the bedroom. He tied the butcher’s twine to the loop on the end of “the tail” and somehow, OC had figured out the game along with her Cat Daddy before the first move. That was the way with those two. They operated on their own plane.

She knew exactly what to do. Larry shook “the tail” at her (as usual) to gauge her interest and immediately she grabbed it and shot off the bed with it in her jaws as if all the dogs in the neighborhood were after her! She went so fast that Larry missed his end of the string and the whole thing went down the hall at warp speed. I retrieved “his end” and brought it back. He had enough strength to “reel it in” and jerk it when OC would catch up to it. They played that game daily in between their respective naps, and it gave them both so much joy.

Occasionally, OC would get a bit overzealous and bound up on top of him, especially in his good days when they played the advanced levels. One of those included hiding “the tail” under the covers and watching her go spelunking for it, only to have it slip by her with a quick tug from Larry.

That advanced level took lots of training because OC had to learn to be mindful of her claws and not accidentally scratch him. That sort of transgression would earn her a hiss from him and would send “the tail” into lockup, and she would be so remorseful!

One day during one of the last games they were able to play before Larry’s last hospitalization, he was experiencing one of those “good days” folks often seem to have toward the end of life. They both were pretty rambunctious and OC had stolen “the tail” and as Larry reeled it in, she just raced at the bed and took a flying leap, landing smack dab on his chest and digging in with her claws a bit to steady herself. Larry, too weak to yell at her or toss her off him, just scowled and hissed loudly-easily the equivalent of intentional targeting in NCAA football! She immediately looked absolutely crestfallen and ashamed, hunkered down and bowed her head apologetically and plunked herself down on his chest purring so loudly it sounded like the massage beds in a cheap motel!

She still has “the tail” and keeps it somewhere special but it isn’t really a toy any more. Every once in a while, I will find it on his side of the bed up by the pillow along with a “kitty dent” that lets me know she’s been curled up with “the tail” thinking of him while I have been busy at something else.

So, as you can see, there might indeed be an occasion for one to be hissing at a cat, but only if you are fortunate enough to have one as a close and trusted friend.

Sami 10:23 PM  

All I have to reflect on with this puzzle was my Lol at myself when I figured out MY HERO!

(Not "Moheto!)

I'm definitely hurting for entertainment these days. I should probably rewatch the United whatsis of Tara. Again.

Joe Dipinto 10:30 PM  

@Smith 4:45 – I didn't know the author either, and I saw the accolade from Indigo too. So I may look around for it this week...

bocamp 11:07 PM  

-2 non-pangrammatic

Peace ειρήνη Selam Frieden Paz 平和 Paix 🕊

12345 11:17 PM  

After I finished this puzzle last night, I told my husband, “Rex Parker is going to hate this puzzle.”

Azzurro 11:42 PM  

As soon as I figured out the theme, I started wondering just how much Rex would hate it. I wasn’t too far off.

“Corny Punville circa 1975” was the best part of this experience.

Anonymous 1:41 AM  

I for one say bring on more wince inducing puzzles like these if only so we can get more hilarious rants like this. I was laughing out loud reading the treatise on ASHOE.

Anonymous 1:49 AM  

Agree completely with diver51- no need to insert politics into the puzzle.
Rex- lost all respect for you on this one

Anonymous 2:01 AM  

Yes or else keep to himself about politics. Most of us do not appreciate having others opinions shoved down our face

Luckycat 1:14 PM  

Actually Rex and I vote in upstate NY, which is slightly Republican, so our down ballot votes are important

Jen 3:03 PM  

Hilarious recap. i felt the same. Ashoe? for f&*# sake!

NCollins 10:04 PM  

Hey! Leave my dad alone or you’ll be receiving ASHOE up your butt Lil’ Rexy Boy!

Burma Shave 10:33 AM  


Shy TARA wept when NOBODY WANTED her again,


Koop 11:23 AM  

Well didn’t get past rex’s first statements. I’m a Trump supporter so I guess I will never look at this blog again. Rex just told me to f*^k off......

rondo 11:29 AM  

Ugh. Slog city, WARTSANDALL. Clues for 101a and 122a were incomplete in my paper. Not PLEASED. The corners also had the bone prefix OSSE. Music Appreciation 101 came through for MOTETS; college ed good for something. LAURA Dern. SAYSOmething good? KANT.

spacecraft 12:49 PM  

Agree with ASHOE; ridiculous. ALSO ruler divisions = MMS? Impossible; you couldn't even see them without a microscope. You can barely see the cms. I "knew" it couldn't be MMS, and that nearly scuttled the whole operation. A most thoroughly unfair clue. But, got it straightened out in the end--with a mountain of triumph points, I might add. DOD? None FOXIER than TARA Reid. Birdie.

And now, let the divisiveness end, let the haters go back to their lairs, and let's be a country again.

Jokr22 3:09 PM  

Appreciate your call for unity. Sincerely, a f***ing Trumpist.

Diana, LIW 5:26 PM  

I agree with @Rondo - Slog City. Plus a dozen or so errors on my part. Guess my brain has been fried. Think I need a good dose of jigsaw-puzzle-therapy.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Dude 10:50 PM  

Your Trump votes were wasted, serves you right.

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