Something ancient Egyptians used for keeping time / WED 10-7-20 / queen fabulous / Jackson Jr Straight Outta Compton star / 1995 gangster comedy with John Travolta Rene Russo

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Constructor: Ross Trudeau

Relative difficulty: Easy (3:23)

THEME: "LOOK MA, NO HANDS" (51A: Cry while doing a stunt ... or a hint to 2-, 7- and 12-Down) — answers are things you could describe as having "no hands" (with a different meaning of "hands" in each instance):

Theme answers:
  • WATER CLOCK (2D: Something the ancient Egyptians used for keeping time)
  • GHOST SHIP (7D: Vessel found drifting without a crew)
  • TOUGH CROWD (12D: Audience unlikely to applaud)
Word of the Day: WATER CLOCK (2D) —

water clock or clepsydra (Greek κλεψύδρα from κλέπτειν kleptein, 'to steal'; ὕδωρhydor, 'water') is any timepiece by which time is measured by the regulated flow of liquid into (inflow type) or out from (outflow type) a vessel, and where the amount is then measured.

Water clocks are one of the oldest time-measuring instruments. The bowl-shaped outflow is the simplest form of a water clock and is known to have existed in BabylonEgypt, and Persia around the 16th century BC. Other regions of the world, including India and China, also have early evidence of water clocks, but the earliest dates are less certain. Some authors, however, claim that water clocks appeared in China as early as 4000 BC. (wikipedia)

• • •

Well Tuesday felt like Monday and today felt like Tuesday so the NYTXW appears to be on some kind of one-day difficulty lag this week, but I don't mind. It's confidence-building. Today's theme is nicely executed, but corny in a way I just don't like, as you probably could've guessed. This was a big dad-joke groan to me. No hands on two of these things, no hands ... offered by the other thing. OK. "Ma" doesn't really factor in, but she doesn't have to. She's just along for the ride. This puzzle's theme is basically an elaborate way of expressing the basic fact that "hand" can mean several different things—an unusual grid and unusual set of themers built on top of some pretty standard wordplay. This got more of an "I see what you did there" than a genuine amused response from me, but I did appreciate the grid structure—themers hanging vertically above an Across revealer is not something you see very often. The additional non-theme long answers hanging alongside the themers give the grid some color, and the fill is generally solid. The only cringey moment I had was at 9D: "___ queen!" ("Fabulous!") ("YAS!"), mostly because that phrase feels very wrong (in the sense of "culturally appropriative") coming from a puzzle made and edited overwhelmingly by straight white guys (the term comes from drag ball culture and "was likely first used by black trans women"). But the term is definitely (white, cis) mainstream now, so I guess it's fair game. I wouldn't put it in a puzzle, but I'm not outraged either. It's just a little nails + chalkboard for me. 

Never heard of a WATER CLOCK before today (I don't think). Everything else about the puzzle was very familiar. The only issues I had all related to names. I wanted Miss ELLIE (from "Dallas"?) and later put in Miss PEGGY (from ... some show I imagined) before finally (and I mean literally finally) figuring out it was Miss PIGGY. I have read and even taught Sherlock Holmes stories, and I listened to "Scandal in Bohemia" (featuring IRENE ADLER) just this summer on one of my infinite quarantine walks, but somehow still screwed up her last name and spelled it like the tree at first (ALDER). Am never sure what the second vowel in MALEK is going to be (I have similar issues with the *first* vowel in that guy's *first* name), and I turned Lisa BONET into a relative of crosswordese writer Stephen Vincent BENÉT. But that's it for trouble. My only other note on this puzzle is wow Frank GEHRY seems to be having a crossword moment (two appearances inside of four days!). Also, as someone pointed out to me on Twitter, the ACC is Duke's *conference* (so, conf.) not its division (div.) (31A: Duke's N.C.A.A. div.)

Stay safe, take care, etc. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:03 AM  

As I opened the puzzle I saw the sign: “Welcome to Wheelhouse City. Come and stay a while.”

Much as I enjoyed my visit, I didn’t need to stay long. Absolutely blew through this one; sometimes the stars just align. Highlight of the visit: The fantastic “aha” at the revealer. I didn’t see that comin’.

jae 12:06 AM  

Easy. This looked like an easy themeless until the reveal and even then I needed several nanoseconds to process it. Fun and pretty smooth. Liked it a bunch and Jeff gave it POW!

Frantic Sloth 12:22 AM  

Okay, this was pretty easy for a Wednesdee, but what fun!

I doubt Mr. Trudeau will be facing a TOUGHCROWD with this gem.

The clue for 52A (OINK) has to be one of my all-time faves. Don't ever recall seeing it before. I even might have chuckled and I rarely chuckle while solving. Seriously. And Miss PIGGY looking down...priceless!

It's highly probable that I'm imagining grid art, but even that looks like a smiling face of some kid, holding up his hands as he hollers LOOKMANOHANDS!

I could go on. I really could go on, but I don't wanna spoil the afterglow with my usual word vomit, so...the list:

Grid Art ✅
Fancy constructioneering (IMHO) ✅
Tight, fun theme...✅
...with a killer reveal...✅
...properly placed ✅
Sparkling fill ✅
Bare minimum or no dreck ✅
Fun solve? ✅✅✅


Pamela 12:23 AM  

Another easy one, but the most fun this week. I noticed the themers as I got them but couldn’t figure out what the common thread might be. The revealer, once I got it, was a nice Aha and a hoot to go with it. Corny, sure. So what?

As for the rest, I managed to work my way around the incomprehensible sports references, ditto for YAS. Had fARm before BARN. Frank GEHRY wasn’t the only over-used entry today- Beats by DRE should be a gimme by now but today I had to work for it again, and that Monopoly iron has been showing up a lot lately...

Loved hearing SADSONG in my head while Imsolved.

Fave clue: Leaves for dinner.

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

Not sure if anyone saw it, but I got QB 🐝 yesterday around 8pm. I posted, but there was a long delay before it showed up. My last word was just adding a letter to another word I already had, to make a new one with a different meaning. So simple, but took so long to see!

aeevans 12:36 AM  

Thanks for The English Beat, ska is the best.

egsforbreakfast 12:48 AM  

Thought that LOOK MANO HANDS was weird enough, but then noticed FETAL ASS RINGS starting at 20 A. This is nothing but bad, bad stuff, encouraged by Will Shortz.

In all seriousness, though, I really liked the insight of Mr. Trudeau in focusing on the absence of hands. Congrats on POW!!!

bocamp 12:51 AM  

Thank you @Ross… your puzzle evokes many fond memories, among them "the song by "Nana" below.

In my wheelhouse all the way with the exception of 15A / 9D. "A" made better sense than "E", so a lucky guess, I guess. I have to "hand" it to you, though, a most enjoyable "ride".

Well below ave. time; smooth sailing for the "ghost ship".

Unless I'm missing something, I have to agree wrt
"Duke's N.C.A.A. div." As has been pointed out by @Cody Sweet and @Rex, Duke is a "Division 1" school belonging to the A.C.C. (Atlantic Coast Conference). Not sure how it could be clued properly to arrive at "A.C.C.. I don't think "Duke's N.C.A.A. conf." works either, since "conference" is implied in the terminal "C" in the acronym. So, how to word the clue to arrive at the A.C.C. answer is the question. Maybe something like "Duke's N.C.A.A. affil." I dunno, that's for the pundits to figure. BTW, I'll be happy to eat crow, if anyone can save Will's (you know what) on this one, and prove us wrong. No, wait… I have too many friendly crows outside my front balcony; I'd have to eat my hat, I guess. LOL

"Nana" Mouskouri - Song For Liberty

Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate;
Va, ti posa sui clivi, sui colli
Ove olezzano tepide e molli
L'aure dolci del suolo natal!
Del Giordano le rive saluta,
Di Sionne le torri atterrate.
Oh, mia patria sì bella e perduta!
Oh, membranza sì cara e fatal!
Arpa d'or dei fatidici vati,
Perché muta dal salice pendi?
Le memorie nel petto raccendi,
Ci favella del tempo che fu!
O simile di Solima ai fati
Traggi un suono di crudo lamento,
O t'ispiri il Signore un concento
Che ne infonda al patire virtù!

**** SB ALERT ****

@Pamela 12;23 AM

Yes, I did see it; left a congratulatory post for @you and @Barbara S. 🐝 🐝

Peace Paz Salam Pace 平和 Paix 🕊

MexGirl 1:47 AM  

For the NTH time, “good job” in Spanish is MUY BIEN (short for ‘muy bien hecho’ which means ‘we’ll done’), or just BIEN, or BRAVO, but never BUENO. BUENO is an adjective, like “that’s a good movie / esa película es buena, or “-how are the tacos al pastor? -They’re very good! / -¿qué tal están los tacos al pastor? -¡Muy buenos!”
No Spanish speaker will ever say BUENO to mean good job. Never.

chefwen 2:06 AM  

So far I’m in the minority on this one. I gave it a MEH. Finished it rather quickly, but found little enjoyment.

TOUGH CROWD was a stretch for no hands.

O.K. I guess, it just didn’t quite do it for me.

I always grabbed the IRON in Monopoly, my favorite token.

okanaganer 2:13 AM  

I hate college sports clues, so Rex's objection to the Duke one's accuracy... I couldn't care less. At least there was no stupid team nickname involved.

On the other hand, while I generally dislike choosing to write the clue for an answer as a name rather than a word... ISLANDERS could be clued as "Stanley Cup winners in 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983". Bossy, Potvin, Smith, Trottier... a great sports dynasty.

I used to be an architect but wasn't fond of the work of Frank GEHRY (even though he grew up in Canada), finding it kind of gimmicky. But while reading another blog (the excellent Noirish LA) a particular commenter's naked hatred of him spurred me to read a biography. Suprise!... his work is much solider than I had thought.

Anonymous 4:24 AM  

Hey man, if you complain every day about the crossword, maybe you just don't like crosswords?

Banquo's Ghost 5:43 AM  

MACBETH: 'Twas a rough night.

LENNOX: My young remembrance cannot parallel
A fellow to it.

[Re-enter MACDUFF]

MACDUFF: O horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heart
Cannot conceive nor name thee!

| What's the matter.

MACDUFF: Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!
Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
The Lord's anointed temple, and stole thence
The life o' the building!

MACBETH: What is 't you say? the life?

LENNOX: Mean you his majesty?

MACDUFF: Approach the chamber, and destroy your sight
With a new Gorgon: do not bid me speak;
See, and then speak yourselves.


Awake, awake!
Ring the alarum-bell. Murder and treason!
Banquo and Donalbain! Malcolm! awake!
Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit,
And look on death itself! up, up, and see
The great doom's image! Malcolm! Banquo!
As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprites,
To countenance this horror! Ring the bell.

[Bell rings]

Macbeth, Act II, scene III

OffTheGrid 6:17 AM  

Relatively easy but fun and interesting. Solved like a themeless but with the bonus of a clever theme seen at completion.

ChuckD 6:26 AM  

Eh - not as keen on this one as Rex. Thought the theme was flat - and using IRENE ADLER as one of three is a reach. Did like the look of the grid but that’s about it. Didn’t like the random use of MA in the revealer - it should have some relevance. The adjacent long downs were fine - but the remaining fill was a lot of popish trivia - played fast but no teeth. Liked the clue for OINK.

We have been getting a lot of Frank GEHRY lately. I see his IAC Building in Chelsea often - and cringe each time.

Lewis 6:27 AM  

@frantic -- I LOVE your take on the grid art. When I looked at the grid after reading your words, there it was, that little smiling kid! Hah!

Re, the puzzle... Oh, terrific theme, and when I cracked it after the solve, I almost stood up and clapped. This is the product of “constructor’s mind” that is ever hunting for themes, here riffing off the word “hand”. I’m guessing Ross did mental cartwheels when enough connections to make this theme work – including the perfect reveal -- fell into place.

Then he added a good number of wordplay clues, such as [Bands at weddings], [Invasive plant?], and at least four more, plus a porcine mini-theme (PIGGY, OINK, BARN). I also liked that floating around in GET SHORTY is the first word of the abutting GHOST SHIP.

But my best moment was clicking off the different meanings of “hand” as the theme uncovered itself. Sterling! Thank you for this, Ross!

kitshef 7:20 AM  

Wonderful theme, expertly executed. What is so delightful is the four different meanings of the word HAND employed.

How good was this? So good that not even crossing cars could spoil it for me.

Where I thought yesterday was too hard even for a Wednesday, this was too easy even for a Tuesday.

kitshef 7:24 AM  

@Chuck D - IRENE ADLER is not part of the theme. The third themer is TOUGH CROWD. 'Hand' in this caser refers to a around of applause.

GILL I. 7:29 AM  

Will someone...preferably not a FETAL PIGGY LOO ASS.... tell me what I just did? Need mind...It's really a SAD SONG you don't wanna hear. And believe me...SALAD wasn't involved.
What a strange little puzzle. You kinda got me at OINK. You also got me at your LOOK MA NO HANDS. Ha Ha.....I can pick my nose with my toes.
I'm happy for the ancient Egyptians.

pabloinnh 7:31 AM  

I was doing the top of this (quickly, I might add) and was only thinking, "Well, this seems pretty choppy.". The vertical themers aspect escaped me totally, so seeing there was a revealer was a nice surprise. Liked the HANDS tie in just fine. Good stuff.

Which makes me wonder, does no one say "LOOKMANOHANDS" any more? It was a common saying when I was growing up, meaning something like "look how clever I am". There was even a joke, too convoluted to explain here, with the punch line "Look Hans, no Ma", after she fell off the back of a bicycle or something. Maybe this old saying has gone the way of smoking being cool and seat belts being optional.

Totally agree with MexGirl on the BUENO issue. The only thing that annoys me more is people saying "No bueno" to express disapproval. Ouch.

Really fun Wednesday, RT. You never disappoint.

Z 7:37 AM  

I had the same thought about the Duke clue, but then decided Shortz didn’t want “conference” in the clue because ACC is short for Atlantic Coast Conference. “Division” and “conference” are sort of interchangeable so I give it a pass, but certainly understand the arched eyebrows.

@MexGirl - Speakers in all languages, being the lazy sots that they are, shorten multi-word phrases all the time. So, yes, I have heard many many many Spanish speakers say BUENO to mean “good job.” A close English equivalent demonstrating the same phenomenon is the elongated “niiiice” for “nicely done” for “good job.”

Anyone else notice the irony of Rex’s “appropriative” nit immediately followed by an English Beat video? That’s a British band appropriating a Caribbean Ska beat which, itself, could be said to have been appropriated from West Africa. Alrighty then. Maybe they get a pass for being a part of the 80’s two tone movement/scene?

I liked this. As Rex said, and interesting grid. You could do this as an easy themeless and it would be fine. And I like the playing with the three different types of hands, definitely goes is the plus column for me. And, yes, the fill seems better than NYTX standard to me, too. So an above average Wednesday in my book.

@egsforbreakfast - FETAL ASS RING is my new nickname for our COVID-in-Chief. There’s nothing sadder or weaker than a weak man trying to look tough.

Hungry Mother 8:12 AM  

MUIR Woods was one of my favorite Bay Area haunts when I grew up in the Bay Area. I did a sabbatical leave at Duke in 1977. The only ACC sport I could get into was lacrosse, where I watched some great matches.

Anonymoose 8:14 AM  

@Z said, in reference to djt, "There’s nothing sadder or weaker than a weak man trying to look tough".

Z is exactly right. That little SUV tour Sunday was PATHETIC!!.

Hungry Mother 8:20 AM  

My biggest thrill in a triathlon was meeting this man and chatting with him at TriKW.

longsufferingmetsfan 8:25 AM  

Surprised no one else cried Natick at the OSHEA/YAS crossing. Oshea as someone's first name and slang Yas, Queen we're supposed to know? I'm calling an audible and labeling it unfair

RooMonster 8:25 AM  

Hey All !
Took me rereading the themers to figure out how the Revealer worked. Then the *lightbulb* * Aha!* moment. How cool. Different ways to comprehend "hands". Is English the only language that has a bunch of meanings for one word? Why isn't there a separate word for things? Why isn't it Clock Sticks instead of Clock Hands? Curiouser and curiouser...

@Anoa Bob
I noticed a non-POC. As in, Ross didn't POC GHOST SHIP. Wondering if he tried for another 10 letter Hands themer, in order to get four 10's and the 13 Revealer which would've been in the center. Then we would've gotten GHOST SHIPS to make that a 10 letterer. I guess he couldn't find another one. So left/right symmetry, without resorting to a POC.

Had my one-letter DNF. Stupidly, too. Had MALiK spelled as such, and just couldn't get the ole brain to see TEAL. Had TiAL, wondering what in blazes that was. A new printer color? Har. I thought I had the E of BLEH wrong, could've been an A.

LOOK MA, NO HANDS! to me is doing a stupid stunt unsafely. I'd like to think it originated as a bicycle riding thing. Take your hands off the handlebars type thing. No evidence to back that up, but sounds reasonable. Then you crash, and cry for your Mama!

Down off my F high from YesterPuz. 😋

Some cool clues in this one. OINK was inspired.

One F

Linda 8:32 AM  

Anyone else have Irena and blah?

longsufferingmetsfan 8:44 AM  

@Z Fetal Ass Ring is my new name for our Covid-in-Chief Hahahahahahahaha

I bet you must slay them at dinner parties with that hilarity, what a classy person you are !!!

EdFromHackensack 8:47 AM  

yes to IRENa/BLaH and longsufferingmetsfan I agree - YAS queen? what mainstream is this found in? I’m not up on cis/trans lingo

mmorgan 8:49 AM  

Easy but enjoyable for me, despite the personal Natick at OSHEA/YAS. (With very little confidence, I guessed E. ). I prefer it when the revealer helps you get the themers. In this case, it took some time to figure out what the revealer had to do with anything. My response was, Okay, cute, I get it. Having those other long downs adjacent to the themers, and not realizing they were themers, was actually a nice touch.

@egs: LOOK MANO HANDS — ha ha ha!

Andrew Heinegg 9:07 AM  

That was harsh of Z. You have to understand it is really tough to aspire to the dignified, empathetic, reasonable and logical way that the President conducts himself. Don't you think?

ow a paper cut 9:07 AM  

The puzzles and the science section are good. That’s about it.

Dhinnh 9:08 AM  

Could you mention the SB blog again Found it once but couldn’t find again

Lolcat Lisa 9:14 AM  

It’s not YAS Queen. It’s YAAAAASSS Queen.

Nancy 9:18 AM  

The two momentous and consequential decisions I needed to make today:

1. Was it OSHEA/YAS (!) or was it OSHEE/YES?


I got the first one wrong and the second one right. (As if it matters). Maybe because "YAS, queen!" for "Fabulous!" is just about the dumbest phrase I've ever heard in my life. Who comes up with such nonsensical coinages? But "YES, Queen!" would have been equally nonsensical.

I skimmed enough of the blog en route to making a comment that I see I'm a real outlier today. I see most of you liked this quite a lot. Even though I can't possibly understand why, I retain the greatest respect for all of you. But despite a cute idea for a theme, I thought this PPP-laden puzzle was pretty awful.

G. Weissman 9:18 AM  

So many proper names: OSHEA, MALEK, BONET, GEHRY, DRE ... I guess the ever-present NYE wasn’t clued with “science guy” in order to reduce the avalanche by one. Then ACURA and TAHOES, and — worst of all — the southwest corner with MMA (?) crossing MUIR crossing LUIS. All made for a typically underwhelming puzzle. Not good.

Ann Howell 9:23 AM  

Must have been doing a different puzzle as Rex and most others, as this did not feel overly easy for a Wed (just a normal amount) and I really enjoyed the revealer - for once not a groany pun!

G. Weissman 9:25 AM  

I believe a TOUGH CROWD does not laugh. It’s not about clapping. So that one’s a swing and a miss.

mathgent 9:26 AM  

Great theme, beautifully executed. That made the solve worthwhile.

Noticed the face in the grid after Lewis commented on it. Jeff Chen didn’t mention it.

Rex says that the puzzle is edited by straight white guys. Is he sure? I’ve heard some things.

The clue for BUENO doesn’t say it’s preceded by “muy.”

Get Shorty is one of my favorite movies. Terrific script from an Elmore Leonard novel. Travolta, Russo, Hackman, DeVito. BTW, Travolta’s acting is underrated. I’ve been told that professional actors put him right at the top with DeNiro, Pacino, and Hoffman.

#long... (8:25). Natick, indeed. I guessed right on OSHEA.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

Hey, he’s the best thing for America right now; his behavior will insure no re-election and we will not have to put up with his stupidity much longer!

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

No one has mentioned 49 down. WTF does this mean? It’s a quote; attributed to who or what? Someone please explain, please!

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

No doubt that 31 across is wrong. And the tweet Rex points to really says it all.
The NCAA divides schools into three divisions 1, 2,and 3. There are further distinctions for football. But conferences are simply not the same thing as divisions in NCAA parlance.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

@Z, et al:

I'm still stuck on The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave). although I heard this one after his choking display on the South Portico: Benito Trumpilini.

as to GEHRY, that's another word which doesn't translate well from phonetic to spelled, is it H first or E first? as to his 'worth', I'm reminded of various episodes of "Engineering Disasters" (various cable channels) where it is explained that architects, while they may employ or consult with structural or civil or mechanical engineers, are on the hook for any deficiencies (another ambiguous speller!) in the building. IOW, s/he has to know more about everything than the specialists. Yikes!!

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

I’ve been told that professional actors put him right at the top with DeNiro, Pacino, and Hoffman.

yeah, but... how many of those 'professional actors' are NOT Scientologists?? :):) the cult does still target Hollywood.

longsufferingmetsfan 9:49 AM  

Bombastic, blowharded, self absorbed, conceited yes, yes, yes, and yes

A roaring economy, unfortunately derailed by Covid
ISIS now a non factor, remember the almost weekly beheadings from what had been described as the "JV squad"
NAFTA scrapped for a more America friendly trade deal with Canada and Mexico
NATO deadbeats ponying up their prepledged money to help keep the free world safe
Soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan
An unheard of Arab/Israeli peace treaty which will hopefully be just the start
Jong Il no longer launching rockets over Japan
Syrian madman Assad being kept at bay sparing Chemical weapon usage on his own people

I'd much rather focus on whats being done vs whats being said

Crimson Devil 9:52 AM  

Anyone recall GALA BAND at POTUS‘ celebration in Carl Hiaasen’s new Squeeze Me ?
Good to see shoutout to Devils.

Newboy 9:56 AM  

Dad jokes indeed! Even in the cluing. I liked 42A, 52D & 4D, but the rest was rather 55A. Filled in the reveal & three themers then ditched the rest to see what others thought. Ross usually provides amusement in my day, so maybe it’s just me being a grumpy old man.

KnittyContessa 9:56 AM  

Any day a puzzle can make me smile is a good day. I thought the themers were clever. I did stumble a bit on top. No idea who Jackson Jr is. Had YeS QUEEN and to further slow me down, for some crazy reason, had InLANDERS. I needed a second cup of coffee to figure out that mess.

Crimson Devil 9:58 AM  

Great clue PEN emanations.


Totally agree on 31-Across - was trying to figure out how to fit in D-One until I got the "C" in toughcrowd.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Bleh is not a word. Sorry!

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

@Crimson Devil:

IMHO, his best since "Stormy Weather".


Voiced as such, some Borscht Belt comedian from who knows when. Long since vernacular.

Whatsername 10:02 AM  

Well this puzzle was fun fun fun as The Beach Boys sang in the TBIRD tune. It’s fascinating to me that when I hear a SAD SONG or most any from that era, I can remember every word without even trying. But if you ask me what I did yesterday I’d have to think about it.

I watched GET SHORTY once and seem to recall it wasn’t my favorite. Although I do love John Travolta, Elmore Leonard has always been a bit too zany and profane for me.

@Frantic and @Lewis: Thanks for pointing out the grid art. I would have missed it otherwise.

JBT 10:03 AM  

Just a note about "YAS queen!" That is also a very popular YouTube channel. Sadly, the cohost, Lady Red recently passed. Yes it is about the world of drag, but come on, who doesn't need more drag culture right now. I think we should be embracing this world breaking into the NYCXW world. And if it is included by creators not of that community, even better. It means we are accepting each other. I'll take that as a positive from 2020.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

The "show" E! News was cancelled in March. According to Wikipedia the news organization still functions through E!'s website so perhaps there is an online show called E! News still airing on the internet?

OffTheGrid 10:16 AM  


Hang on to your rose colored glasses. You will be needing them more and more. In fact I'd stock up. (I'm not going to make a list but do you have any inkling of the depravity of this president and all the harm he has done to the U.S. of A.?) MAGA, my 22Across! {I wanted to relate my comment to the puzzle}

Whatsername 10:25 AM  

@Crimson Devil (9:52) You’re referring to that legendary musical ensemble “The Collusionists.“ Classic Hiaasen! Did you know also notice the character Pruitt the Poacher was named for Trump’s former EPA Director? He served a little over a year before joining the ranks of his many former coworkers charged with numerous ethics violations and being forced to resign.

@Anon (10:02) Stormy Weather was my first Hiaasen novel. I was hooked for life. If only he could write faster.

jberg 10:36 AM  

I loved the theme, especially the revealer. Only 12D puts the NO HANDS in the clue, which doesn’t seem right.

No idea about Lisa BONET; and I’ve been on a lot of BARNS and seen a lot of sheep, but never seen the latter inside the former. Generally sheep graze, sleep, and are shorn out in the open; so I’d have gone with fONET/fARm if not for those helpful NINNIES.

rjkennedy98 10:36 AM  

This felt way too easy for a Wednesday. IMO easier than last Monday. The theme was the highlight for me. Working through the theme answers, I was genuinely stumped till the revealer fell. Had the prized AHA moment.

The rest of the puzzle was BLEH. Too much standard short fill clued obviously. IRON, EASE, STOW, SOSO, NEW in one corner - that's about as boring as it gets. Most of the other sections weren't much better.

Pamela 10:46 AM  

@Frantic- Thanks from me too, for noticing the grid art- and for all your lively and entertaining posts.

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

@bocamp- Thanks! I don’t know when your post was published, but it wasn’t there when I checked fairly late last night. Still appreciated, though!

Today -2🐝

Anonymous 10:51 AM  


Chip Hilton 10:54 AM  

YAS/OSHEA crossing stumped me. Made a lucky guess.
I thought the theme and its three responses were clever.
ACC clue caught my eye immediately. Wrong.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

I agree!

Eric K 10:55 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 11:05 AM  

Thank you! I didn't even know where to start.

MexGirl 11:13 AM  

This is not about shortening. As I explained before, BUENO is an adjective that expresses the level of goodness in something. To communicate that something was done well we need an adverb. The fact that you have heard people speak like such doesn't mean it's correct; a lot of times we fall into the foreigner's usage just to play along, since it's no big deal. But that doesn't mean is not wrong. Go ahead and google the difference between BUENO and BIEN. It bothers me that a puzzle based on words treats my language in such a lazy way, honestly.

TTrimble 11:28 AM  

(I haven't yet looked at other comments, but here's predicting some inevitable whining about RBG, about the terrible jurist she was, etc. etc., and maybe some generalized complaining about Rex's virtue-signaling and so forth, even if that wasn't much in evidence today.)

Meanwhile, hand up for putting down MALiK first, with an attendant brain fart of putting down "cian" (not "cyan") as a shade of blue. Actually, one of my students is named "Cian" [Irish name, pronounced "Kee-an"] and that ought to have tipped me off. But otherwise, the puzzle was pleasantly easy and whimsical, and I didn't mind the slight corniness. (Agree with @Frantic Sloth that it seems very likely that the black squares form an ideogram -- often the case when a puzzle displays left-right symmetry and not 180 degree symmetry.) As a middle-aged white dude, YAS was just barely registered, or maybe it was something of a lucky guess. Essentially the same comment applies to its cross OSHEA (certainly OSHEe would be dubious).

---[SB Alert]---

I've kept a tab open for yesterday's, hoping to get the last one, although I hate being so late to parties. Hey, by the way, what's the deal with omitting "figgy"? As in "figgy pudding", hello? It wasn't even in the unaccepted list! Help, I'm being gaslighted!

(Congratulations to all who got QB yesterday. Including @Barbara S. -- yes, I did see that, and yes there was a long hiatus before new posts went up mid-evening last night. I would have congratulated you (all) then, but got distracted by a bit of silliness elsewhere.)

Meanwhile, I'm two away for today's.

Similar to GENTLED from the other day, I was thrown for a loop by one of today's. I had to run to a dictionary before recognition finally set in.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Pediatric cancer ward.
Putting down your dog.
Unrequited love.
A mother abandoning or abusing her child.
Burying a parent.
The Phillies 2020 bullpen.

All the above are sadder than DJT's posturing. It's offensive, but more funny than sad. If you want to say pathetic, I'll hop on board. But in the world of truly sad things, a guy (badly) doing a tough guy act doesn't crack the top 1000.

Carola 11:29 AM  

An inspired crossword joke. With that array of Downs lining up across the top, I thought, "A Wednesday without a theme?" So the reveal was an especially nice treat and got a LAUGH from me. Nice how the theme answers are disguised within that 10-letter-Downs array.
Great idea, @Ross Trudeau. Loved it.

Barbara S. 11:37 AM  

This joke is only funny when you're 8. It's really a cautionary tale. You're to imagine a bicycle.

"Look, Ma, no hands!"
"Look, Ma, no feet!"
"Look, Ma, no head."

Eric K 11:56 AM  

>longsufferingmetsfan said... Surprised no one else cried Natick at the OSHEA/YAS crossing. Oshea as someone's first name and slang Yas, Queen we're supposed to know? I'm calling an audible and labeling it unfair

You’re complaining about needing to know the lead actor in a $200M-grossing movie released within the past 5 years and ubiquitous, zeitgeisty slang used in ads, in pop journalism, and by actual humans living in 2020? Do you know how many dog actors from the fucking 30s, segregation-era baseball players, and dried up old European rivers I’ve had to learn to do these fucking things? Maybe expand your cultural purview a little bit. Christ.

TTrimble 12:00 PM  

---[SB Alert]---

Put me on the board [John], put me on the Cadillac board! Got to QB, and hope to see more of you here!

Now, onto trying to complete yesterday's.

Maddiegail 12:02 PM  

Any chance we can get a PA (Politics Alert)? Oy!

White Rushin 12:07 PM  

Republicans are never going to like or understand where Democrats are coming from.
Democrats are never going to like or understand where Republicans are coming from. You think one way, they think another way. That's it. You will never, never, never, never, never agree.

So please stop arguing about it on a Crossword Blog. Go find a Political Blog.

At this rate, I'd rather read about people disparaging @Rex.

Anonymous 12:14 PM  

@Eric maybe expand your vocabulary a little bit. It's a sign of intelligence, as opposed to using profanity and blashphemy to make your point.

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Amen!!! I've been reading @z's comments for a long time, and I've come to the conclusion he knows a lot but has a poor understanding of language itself. Of course your example is dead on. But consider his rejoinder about nice. He's claiming that it's used adverbially, as in: You did the job nicely and simultaneously adjectivally as in nice job. They are two different things. A fine distinction perhaps, but critical. One describes an act; the other the thing itself.
Perhaps the most famous example of this is Thomas's poem Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night. The fact that he uses gentle and not gently is all the difference in the world.

Anyway, you're point isn't just unassailable but important. Words matter.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

White Rushin,
So argument can never be persuasive? I think your pronouncement ends philosophy, English-style jurisprudence and all sports radio in a single post. Kudos.

longsufferingmetsfan 12:38 PM  

@Eric K I count 5 other bloggers who thought it was an unfair crossing.
I guess we're all wrong and you are correct! We fossils know more about fucking 30s dog actors and fucking old European rivers than whats going on in today's real world. Thanks so much for educating us and I'll keep your suggestion in mind.

old timer 12:41 PM  

@Sharon, you will enjoy Peter Krug's great song, "Geritol Gypsy". Sadly, Peter (one of the best men I ever knew) died before he could be a full-time roamer.

I had no trouble with IRENE ADLER. To Sherlock Holmes, she would always be *the* woman. And A Scandal in Bohemia is the most memorable story Conan Doyle ever wrote.

I too almost Naticked at YAS/OSHEA, but guessed right.

I've often heard BUENO used all by itself to praise a job well done. It's an idiom, and in more exact speech would either be preceded by "muy" or be used as an adjective. We sometimes say "Good" all by itself, rather than preceding it with "very" or following it with "job".

And Mr longsuffering fan, you really should be SAD that Trump, who was given a huge opportunity to make the points you cite, instead made an ASS of himself at that first debate, which may well be the only debate.

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

@White Rushin:

well... yes OFL does trigger on Right Wing oriented material in the puzzle. now, the Right Wingnuts here in the peanut gallery could choose to let that pass, esp. considering it's been true since Hector was a pup, but they don't. they start a fight, which the Snowflakes attend.

OTOH, this election will either put the USofA into the category of elected-dictatorship, or it won't. there's a fair chance that the Supremes will have us all singing like it's 1829, which is consequential. all that's important enough to be part of any conversation. darkies stay in the fields, wimins make dinner and babies, and both of you shut your mouths.

Masked and Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Look, M&A … E-W Symmetry! Like.

Liked the puzgrid design and the fillins. Only solvequest nanosecond gobbler at our house was in the OSHEA/YAS area. Clues were pretty straight-ahead-forward, what with only one token ?-mark clue at 42-A's kinda clever {Invasive plant?} = SPY.

As some have strongly noted, the ACC clue was a smidge too misleadin. Cruised right thru it, anyhoo, tho.

And … Look, M&A … real well-hidden themers. Forgivable, since the revealer spills the beans on where the themers are stashed. GETSHORTY & IRENEADLER were fave themer camouflage entries.

staff weeject pick: YAS. Learned somethin new, from this puppy. Not in my dictionary, but it is documented in RuPaul's Drag Race terminology at Wikipedia. Alternate clue for YAS: {Say unforwardly??}.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Trudeau. Good job, trans YAS.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Coniuratos 12:49 PM  

@Anonymous (I realize I'm shouting at the wind, here) Vulgarity in a person's vocabulary has been shown to correlate with overall broader vocabulary and improved fluency. Source:

So maybe don't be a dick about it next time.

Anonymous 12:52 PM  


Please elaborate. What is bueno modifying? The act-- how it was done? If so, note your own usage "well", an adverb, modifying done. Or its describing the result of the action or the state of being? As i the results of the job are good. Modifying not how the job was done but the state of affairs as the y exist.
That's MexGirl's point. It is not idiomatic.
As she notes, no Spanish speaker would use bueno to describe how a job was done.

longsufferingstraightwhitemale 1:01 PM  

@longsufferingmetsfan YAAAASSSS, QUEEEEN!!

Teedmn 1:09 PM  

I couldn't agree with Rex less today, except on the "Easy" rating. I loved the post-solve aha and the clue for OINK. I did have a double error up top. I have no idea why I parsed the movie name as GiT SHORTY but that enabled YeS queen because OSHie looked okay. I'd like to think that OSHE_ would have led me to OSHEA and YAS, but who's to know?

I noticed the [possible] grid art when I printed it out and kept waiting for it to play a part in the puzzle. @Frantic Sloth's take on it is one I can get behind.

Nice job, Ross Trudeau.

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

I agree that it was not a wednesday puzzle. Best time ever on a wednesday, barely off of my PB for tuesdays. So it could almost have a monday.

bocamp 1:17 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@Barbara S. 🐝 @Pamela 🐝 @TTrimble 🐝 @Richardf8 🐝

Heartiest congrats to you all! 👍

The one I missed was a "doh moment" when I checked the answer key. I had used the two components of the compound word separately, but obviously, I didn't pair them up. :(

As for late night posts, my 8:00 PM (West Coast) would be fairly late for some/most of you. Since there are always a number of us posting late results, I'd suggest we all may want to have a look at the previous day's latest posts before embarking on the current day's fare. 😊

Just starting today's SB. 🤞

Peace Paz Salam Pace Paix 🕊

Frantic Sloth 1:22 PM  

@Lewis Thank you for the grid art reinforcement - you really are too kind! 😘

@pabloinnh and @ Roo -- Yes! That was me as a youngster/street urchin! Learning how to ride my bike with no hands was one of my proudest "street creed" (such as it was in white middle-class suburbia 🙄) accomplishments. And not at all embarrassing to admit that now...

@Z 737am Well, at least FETAL ASS RING has the virtue of never having been used as a nom de assholery before. Might have to retire Cheeto Mussolini.

@Anonymous 935am Probably not the best example, but it's naturally what came to my mind.

@Whatsername, @Crimson Devil and other Carl H fans To this day favorite simile is "polyester manatees" (but I couldn't tell you which book) for oversized tourists from a capsized party boat.

Already starting to skip over too many comments, which I rarely do. Getting ridiculous and nasty.

Until tomorrow, folks!

Frantic Sloth 1:39 PM  

...except for iPad auto-corrupt bullhockey!! Street CRED, not creed! ARGH.

Barbara S. 1:49 PM  

I don't look at my stats very often, but I was so speedy today that I checked. Turned out I'd tied my best-ever Wednesday time -- woo hoo!

IRENE ADLER was more than just a woman in a Sherlock Holmes story (hi @old timer). According to Conan Doyle, she was the woman Holmes admired above all others, although there was no suggestion of a romantic relationship. I also found it dismissive to call NERO Wolfe an armchair detective, although it is literally true. As presented by Rex Stout (another Rex!), Wolfe is brilliant, analytical and always solves the case, but due to his eccentricities, he seldom leaves his house. (He's also a crossworder, although he does cryptics.) Do have a look at Rami MALEK in the TV series "Mr. Robot." It's a trip. Not about robots, but about society, hackers, corruption, capitalism and so much more.

I loved seeing NINNIES. I can hear my mother's voice saying "Don't be a ninny!" when I was being one. She didn't say it meanly but with a smile, and I smiled when I saw the word today.

Unknown 1:57 PM  

While the ACC is technically a conference and not a division, I didn't have a problem with the clue.
This was a solid puz.
Re: YASQUEEN, I don't understand rex's comments about appropriation. My only nit with this clue is that I don't think this is a term or phrase that will stand the test of time. i.e., will any young person get this clue in ten year's time? Doubtful.

MofromLI 2:02 PM  

Am I the only one to love the oink clue?

Anonymous 2:09 PM  


the Google Monopoly yields "Tourist Season". also among the tops.

Whatsername 2:15 PM  

@Frantic (1:22) The book was Tourist Season where he referred to passengers who jumped overboard from a cruise ship and lolled in the waves like polyester manatees until help arrived. If you have not yet read Squeeze Me, don’t miss it.

Z 2:25 PM  

@MexGirl - To be clear, I’m not arguing against your grammar lesson. From today’s puzzle - T’WAS, BLEH, LOO, ASKS, YAS, DRAT. None of these “English” words are used or clued “correctly” by your standard. It is what puzzle clues do.

@Frantic Sloth - The number of appropriate vulgar appellations was already seemingly infinite and yet he somehow manages to increase the number. I was watching that stunt on the porch and worried he’d keel over right there.

Blackhat 2:30 PM  

12 names, 2 foreign words.....

TTrimble 2:31 PM  

Forgot to ask earlier: did anyone besides me first try NItwItS instead of NINNIES? My favorite word along these lines is "nincompoops". Examples come readily to mind.

---[SB Alert]---

And yippee ti-yi-yo, I finished yesterday's as well! What a relief. Such a simple 5-letter word I was missing, nothing outrageous.

Still can't get over "figgy".

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

@Z. Your answer of 2:225 contradicts your earlier posts. It's rubbish.

Joe Dipinto 3:30 PM  

As Mae West once said, "When I'm bueno, I'm very bueno, but when I'm malo, I'm even more bueno."

And what could be more Bueno than doing the merengue in the middle of the afternoon? ¡Ay Dio mío!

jae 3:41 PM  

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

@SBers - like @ bocamp I was -1 yesterday. Logroll is now on my list.

bocamp 3:44 PM  

Watched Rami "Malek" in the first three seasons of Mr. Robot. What a fine actor. Season 4 is on Prime Video (in Canada); not sure if I've watched it, tho. Quickly forget much of the things I watch or read, so always fun to rewatch or reread. :)

From a "sad song" to a "not so sad guitar solo"

**** Duke ACC ALERT ****

This seemingly minor hiccup could have been avoided in a couple of ways:

1) change 31A to "ACL" and 32D to "LEOS"


2) if retaining the "Duke" clue and answer is imperative, change the clue to something along this line: "Duke's N.C.A.A. div.: ___ Coastal"

NOTE: most of the major conferences have two divisions within them.

**** SB ALERT ****


Peace Paz Salam Pace 平和 Paix 🕊

bocamp 4:18 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@jae 3:41 PM

LOL - that makes two of us 😉

Having had a bite to eat, will now try to seriously reduce the -10 🤞

Peace Paz Salam Pace 平和 Paix 🕊

JHM II 4:55 PM  


Barbara S. 5:09 PM  

I saw that you got QB yesterday and I was glad for the company.

Thanks for the kudos yesterday. I'm not sure I'm going to earn them today. I'm only one word away, but I seem fatally mired. The word I almost missed yesterday was igloo, a miss that arguably would have been embarrassing for a Canadian!

🎵 Oh, bring us some figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer. 🎵

And furthermore,

🎵 We won't go until we get some, so bring it right here! 🎵

Congrats for today *and* yesterday. Go, TTiger!

Oh and thanks to @TTrimble and @Pamela for weighing in on the multiple pangram question. I don't think there's a single, consistent answer as to whether several pangrams in a puzzle make it more difficult. I agree that the particular selection of letters matters. After the first few minutes I don't tend to look for the pangram specifically. I usually just find it as a matter of course. But if I don't, then I have to do a concerted search at the end. A late search for more than one P would obviously raise the difficulty level.

Good luck to all SB word-hunters!

TTrimble 5:27 PM  

---[SB Alert]---

@Barbara S.
You don't say!? IGLOO was my last as well. (And thanks; your congratulations were very sweet.)

Keep the faith! You can get today's!

Good luck to all the SB-ers! I'd love some company.

RooMonster 5:28 PM  

**SB Boasting Alert**
Got it! QB! Yes!!
Was stuck on one word Forevvvver, typing in various nonsensical words, finally accepted an attempt, and the Queen popped up!

Two days in a row. Wow. I might be hallucinating.

RooMonster Q-Squared Guy

Crimson Devil 6:11 PM  


Anoa Bob 6:27 PM  

Roo@ 8:25, I think four 10-letter theme entries plus a 13-letter reveal would have been overload and would have exacted too high a price on the rest of the grid. We might have seen an OREO-ALOE type fill fest. Plus now at least one of the themers would have been downgraded to a POC.

A standard grid with rotational symmetry would not accommodate two 10's, one 9 and one 13 letter entries, however, so some creative grid layout design was needed and it came in the form of a mirror image symmetry grid. There's also some nice long downs to up the puzzle's interest value for me. I think the grid design MERITED praise for those efforts.

Also of special interest to me was a generous sprinkling of two-for-one-POCs, where a Down and an Across share a single POCifying S. 13 D ASP and 23A RING is one. There are at least three others and, arguably, a fourth. Yeah, I'm looking at you YAS. YA, that looks like a thinly disguised POC to me. That would make five two-for-one variety POCs, something I don't recall seeing before. Maybe October is POC month!

TTrimble 6:53 PM  

(Dumb mistake: I hit the submit button before declaring that I'm not a robot. The congrats to @Roo are undoubtedly from me.)

Barbara S. 8:30 PM  


YAY US, @Roo!

bocamp 9:31 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

Congrats to @TTrimble 🐝 & @RooMonster 🐝

I've been stuck on -1 it seems forever; another hour and a half to go. 🙏

Bonne chance to all those still in the hunt. 🤞

Peace Paz Salam Pace 平和 Paix 🕊

bocamp 10:28 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

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

Yours truly (and at least for today) 🐝 😊

Bonne chance to all those still in the hunt. 🤞

Peace Paz Salam Pace 平和 Paix 🕊

jae 1:38 AM  

****SB ALERT****

It’s late (I like @Bocamp am on the west coast) but I hope its not too late to join those who got to QB today. @Roo - I’m pretty sure I know the nonsensical word that got you there.

bocamp 9:38 AM  

**** SB ALERT ****

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


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

Peace Paz Salam Pace 平和 Paix 🕊

OkiPaul 11:50 PM  

I'm sorry I'm late to the party.
Tore through the top half. Then hit a roadblock at the bottom half. Way too many names. 20 proper nouns, or abbreviations.
Get Shorty
Irene Adler

I think that's the lot.

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thefogman 10:18 AM  

Thank god Mr. Abdullah Ibrahim commented here ↑... I was just looking for a “Hard Money Loan”...

Burma Shave 12:10 PM  


IT MERITs no LAUGH to say,
"LOOKMANOHANDS!" while in the LOO.



"Hold your WATER, POP, I AGREE, you ASS, you're proud,
but with EASE IT'LL stop, and LOOK, you've drawn a CROWD."


spacecraft 12:58 PM  

A cool themeless if I've ever seen one--and yet...when I saw a revealer-type clue I was really flummoxed. Then as I filled in crosses and the answer came to light, I was blown away! This aha! moment takes over first place among all such moments. A real sockdolager!

Companion downs and general fill were first-rate, too. DOD DEBRA Messing--or Winger--further beautifies the grid. A very rare double-eagle!

rondo 1:44 PM  

I thought it was SOSO until the revealer. Hard to get a handle on it with answers the same length as the themers. But in the end it MERITED thumbs up.

I had a '97 TBIRD. Still miss that car.

Mrs. Lenny Kravitz, Lisa BONET is deserving of a yeah baby.

Except figuring the conceit, did this with EASE.

leftcoaster 2:40 PM  

Completed the puzzle before assembling the theme, with the familiar revealer entry helping to tip it off earlier.

Liked the general execution and the bonus long downs. Stubbed my toe on the BLaH / IRENa cross. Ouch!

An interesting, relatively easy Wednesday.

Diana, LIW 3:32 PM  

Something for everyone - from Miss PIGGY to a GHOSTSHIP.

But now, we have from @Spacey, a


What, pray tell, is this strange apparition?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Definitions

rondo 5:33 PM  

I think it's something like a humdinger or a ripsnorter or a lollapalooza or crackerjack.

spacecraft 6:08 PM  

I learned the term from a chess magazine. They'd present a problem, and then say "Can you administer the sockdolager?" Chess people are weird, me included.

Diana, LIW 8:29 PM  

Well, @Spacey - thanks for getting that off your chess-t.

Lady Di

thefogman 8:46 AM  

@Spacey Have you watched The Queen’s Gambit TV series (Netflix)? It’s a pretty good chess-themed drama.

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