N.W.A member known as Godfather of Gangsta Rap / WED 11-4-20 / Change from Gojira to Godzilla say / TV personality who once said in an ad The only thing bolder than Fuze Iced Tea is ME!"

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Constructor: Jack Murtagh

Relative difficulty: Medium (4:17)

THEME: Norite, Dolerite (INDIE ROCK) (my weak fake example that I came up with at 4:30am) — which is to say, words in theme clues must be sounded out by their initial letters to the first word in the answer (N, D, => INDIE); the second word in the answer is the type of thing those clue words are (Norite, like Dolerite, is a type of ROCK). Theme answer result is a familiar phrase (INDIE ROCK): 

Theme answers:
  • EASY MONEY (17A: Euro, Zloty) (clue words start with E & Z, i.e. "EASY," and both are types of MONEY)
  • ICY BLUE (26A: Indigo, Cerulean)
  • EMPTY NESTER (40A: Macaw, Tern)
  • ANY TIME (54A: Noon, Eleven)
  • ESPY AWARD (66A: Satellite, Pulitzer)
Word of the Day: EAZY-E (25D: N.W.A member known as "The Godfather of Gangsta Rap")
Eric Lynn Wright (September 7, 1964 – March 26, 1995), known professionally as Eazy-E, was an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, and entrepreneur who propelled West Coast rap and gangsta rap by leading the group N.W.A and its label, Ruthless Records, pushing the boundaries of lyrical content. [...] During N.W.A's splintering, largely by disputes over money, Eazy-E became embroiled in bitter rivalries with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, who had departed for solo careers in 1989 and 1991, respectively. Resuming his solo career, Eazy-E released two EPs. Yet he remained more significant behind the scenes, signing and nationally debuting the rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony from 1993 to 1994. // In 1995, Eazy-E was suddenly hospitalized and diagnosed with AIDS, and died due to its complications. He is often referred to as the godfather of gangsta rap. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hey. How are you? Doing OK? Great. I went to bed around 10pm and woke up before 4am. Not completely atypical, these days. Got a pretty monastic lifestyle going over here. Lots of quiet. Lots of routine. More than you need to know, I'm sure. So, this puzzle ... was good. I enjoyed it. The concept is so simple, if weirdly hard to explain succinctly, but it yields some pretty nifty results. I will say that once you grasp the theme, the themers become Very easy to get, but that's not so terrible. I was slow to start, so being fast to finish means things even out nicely in the end. I thought the grid was pretty flashy too, for a themed grid that wasn't trying exceedingly hard for flash. BASTILLE DAY and LIBRARY CARD are very nice, and when you can land an occasional snappy mid-length answer, like "WHO'S IN?," you're doing alright. I think EMPTY NESTER was my favorite of the bunch, and so I like that it's in the marquee (i.e. center) position. Fitting. My only issue today was that having EASY and EAZY in the same grid feels a little iffy. Also, the clue on ACCTS felt, well, defensible, but not really apt. "What do you offer?" "Accounts." "Ah ... I ... see." The answer is so broad as to be meaningless. But this is a trivial matter. My overall impression of the puzzle was: nice. "It's a BOP," as they say (about music ... but I'm gonna borrow it for puzzles today).

I really struggled to get DUB (1A: Change from "Gojira" to "Godzilla," say), and when I struggle to get the 1-Across clue, things often don't go well for me. It's a very good clue, but I thought the answer would have to do with writing, somehow, not sound. Needed "D" and "B" to see it. Also had DIE OUT before DIE OFF and no idea what the three letters after "I" would be at (13A: Jobs creation). Apple ambiguity like this is probably my very least form of routine short-answer ambiguity. Worse that ALOT vs. ATON vs. TONS, you ask? Let's call it a tie. Really wanted to put EURO MONEY in that first themer slot, but "Euro" is in the clue and then the "Y" from DYE made EURO impossible. Also struggled with ION / WIGS, and (somewhat less) with ACCTS / CHAINS. This is all to say that the first third of this puzzle felt toughish for a Wednesday. But then knowing the theme really opened things up quickly, and, well, there's very little green ink on the bottom half of my grid. No real trouble down there. 

At 69A: Singer, I had SEAR before CHAR (SEAR vs. CHAR probably takes the bronze in the Routine Short-Answer Ambiguity Olympics). I tried to write SPILL ... something before I wrote SPIT IT OUT (I really do have an aversion to "SPIT") (36D: "Tell me already!"). My favorite wrong answer today, and one of my favorite wrong answers of all time, came when I hastily read the clue at 48A: Subject of many articles in Allure and Seventeen (BEAUTY) and, with BEA-TY in place, I wrote in ... BEATTY. Now, when you see BEATTY, your brain may go to Warren, but mine went instantly to Ned. I really, really like the idea of Allure and Seventeen readers being obsessed with Ned Beatty ... I mean, why not? He's a fantastic answer. He was in "The Rockford Files" once, for pete's sake. That puts him in Hall-Of-Fame territory with the likes of Joseph Cotten and, uh, let's say, Linda Evans. Anyway, these things I believe: teenage girls love '70s-era Ned Beatty (if they have any taste at all), and this puzzle was enjoyable.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


American Liberal Elite 5:31 AM  

Having STYLI in the exact same spot two days in a row?

T. Cook 5:56 AM  

Steve Jobs was so virulently and famously opposed to the the use of a stylus with the iPad that he was admamant that the only way it could ever be introduced was over his dead body.


Gio 6:18 AM  

Nice write up. I like when Rex likes a puzzle that I predicted he would bash. I like when he describes a theme as "nifty". I'm not sure why I thought he would bash this but he's like Mikey in the old Life Cereal commercials: he hates everything! Part of his charm!

I hope the constructor reads this review. It is a debut. Most constructors should not read Rex's thoughts but Jack should!

ChuckD 6:24 AM  

Liked this one - pretty unique play on the homophone theme with solid overall fill. Didn’t catch on until ANYTIME - so the top half of the puzzle was basically a themeless. The NW corner was cool - UP A TREE adjacent to BASTILLE DAY crossing OTTERS was nice. Also thought LIBRARY CARD x PLACID was well done and fitting.

A little side eye to: the use of STYLI and PAPYRI, including both Yale and Tufts is a little uppity and the too closeness of EAZY E to EASY MONEY.

Nice for a beautiful, cold Wednesday morning. Let’s hope the rest of the day follows suit.

Todd 6:26 AM  

I natticked on EazyE v Zesta. Never heard of either

bocamp 7:10 AM  

Wow, what a clever puzzle! Thx for the Wednes. challenge, @Jack :) Great write-up @Rex :)

Seems like it took forever to sort out the upper-right quad, but still managed and average time. Go figure. LOL

Tricky, fresh clueing; thank goodness for fair crosses, or I wouldn't have finished. Overall, liked this one a lot. :)

New to me: "Roach Motel"; "Salon/Slate"; "Zesta"; "Eazy-E".

Side eyes: "Roach"; "accts".

Most apropos: "who's in".

Not having "Roach", "party hats", "ice blue", "Slate", "Eazy-E", "accts" or "Zesta" caused my only real holdup. Finally, dropped the side-eyed "Roach" in, sussed out "party hats", got "icy" from the "y" and the rest of the quad fell. The only guess was "z" over "s" for "Eazy-E".

"Motel" being capitalized, caused me to want something other than "Roach"; thought a cheap motel wouldn't be clued with an upper case "M". Looked it up later and discovered that it's a brand name.

Yup, got a "library card" in my wallet; never use it, as I get all my library stuff at their on-line site.

Simon & Garfunkel - Scarborough Fair

Peace Pax שָׁלוֹם Paz Paix 🕊

Hungry Mother 7:13 AM  

I did one (defense), and I have one (PHD), but I stuck in an “a” instead of a “p” for some reason. I liked the theme and it was very helpful in a quick solve.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Odd little theme. I was not able to come up with a slew of additions, but here are two:
Cheers, Dukes
Quiche, Tart

I like the latter particularly.

It says a lot about the difference between me and Rex that he thinks WHOS IN is a highlight. But his take on Ned Beatty was priceless.

Pamela 7:36 AM  

@American 5:31- I thought the same thing!

Took a while to get the trick, but then mostly easy sailing. Still ended up DNF because I forgot to correct daYTIME to (NE) TIME, and the crosses were useless. But that’s OK, not the worst thing that’s going on right now. 😥

SouthsideJohnny 7:44 AM  

I’m a little perplexed about the clue for THYME - as I don’t consider it “minty” at all. Thyme is a staple in Cajun classics like Jambalaya and Etouffee, as well as dishes like Jamaican Jerk Chicken - I don’t think anyone would ever substitute mint in those dishes.

Two of my biggest beefs with the Times’ editors actually intersect today, which is an interesting exacta - first, I find it distasteful that they so frequently feature rap artists, which as a group usually spew racism and vulgar epithets, and promote violence and misogyny. Additionally, I think it is really unfortunate when they have two trivia entries crossing each other so that you can slog your way through the entire puzzle and it all comes down to whether you either know or don’t know some particular piece of esoterica (a Natick as coined by OFL). Such was the case today with EAZYE crossing ZESTA - no wordplay or logic involved - you just have a 1 out of 26 chance of being successful, which is kind of a downer.

RooMonster 7:51 AM  

Hey All !
Dang, tough concept to grasp. Even after reading Rex, I had to go back to see what the dealio was. Aha, theme clues take the first letter of both words, and transmogrify them into a real word. As in, 17A clue is Euro, Zloty, for which you take the EZ and make it EASY, and they're both types of money. Ergo, EZMONEY, EASYMONEY.

Anyway, theme silliness aside, decent puz. Has this week been tougher for some of y'all than most? Or is my ole brain on the downside? Because I'm over my average time by a noticeable amount for this week. Although i don't go for speed, that clock keeps ticking away online, and doing the puzs for a while, you get an average time, and a good sense of how fast you are just by looking at the time when done.

Wondering if Jack is a Rex Friend, because he just pooh-poohed the EAZYE answer, even though we have EZ=EASY as a themer. Imagine if Bruce Haight did that. Rex would take up pitchforks and torches and head into the streets demanding Will's and Bruce's heads.

Anyway, even though it irks some here, I believe YesterPuz and today's should've been swapped.

Three F's

chefbea 8:10 AM  

made no sense to me!!!!!

burtonkd 8:15 AM  

Rex really turned it around from worst review ever to yesterday to one of his most enjoyable, IMHO. I love the Ned Beatty bit - brought a much needed laugh to this rough morning.

Boo to me: an unpaid fine, and much easier access to info, has kept me from using my LIBRARYCARD for more years than I care to admit...

Would there be a place for Mr T or Ned Beatty on TV today? Watching old shows with that thought is fun. Don Knotts, WHOSIN? Old actors and athletes look more like regular people who happened to make it, as opposed to the seemingly unattainable standards of BEAUTY or athleticism we see now.

Joaquin 8:16 AM  

Who spiked @Rex's Bosco? Considering the state of the world, he seems to be in an awfully good mood. Plus, he awards the godfather of gangsta rap his place of honor as the "Word of the Day".

Well, gotta run. I'm off to watch the sun as it rises over the western horizon.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

They’re both members of the plant family Lamiaceae (along with basil and oregano and rosemary). True that they aren’t substitutes—no thanks, please, to the Thyme Julep—but technically an accurate crossword clue.

Klazzic 8:36 AM  

Finished the puzzle but never caught on to the theme. Thanks for the heads up, Rex.

Unknown 8:40 AM  

I found this to be easy for a Wednesday (which translates to < 15 minutes for me), and the theme was pretty easy to grok. And there are days when I didn't even realize that there was a theme, like this past Monday.
I think you'd have to be pretty steeped in rap culture to get EAZYE. I was a fan of NWA back in the day, and I'm going, "Hmmm . . . IceCube? No. Dr. Dre? Nah. Yellowboy???!!!"

FWIW, I've noticed that the SB comments on this site seem to have disappeared or migrated elsewhere? Thank you to whoever made that call!

Now let's hold our collective breath . . . . and cross our fingers . . . .

Jmorgie 8:47 AM  

Dead Sea scrolls are all on lambskin ... no papyrus. another false fact the editors missed

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

Too much for me. Obscure, unpleasant theme with esoteric answers.
I still don’t understand the theme. I don’t care about it, either.

MarthaCatherine 8:55 AM  

I'm a soda cracker (saltine) snob. The only brand I will buy is Zesta. If they're out of Zesta, I do without. And I never heard of EAZYE, so I'm glad I'm a Zesta fan.

DNF because I had ABA for 43D. Figured I'd come here to find out what AHD could possibly have to do with a successful defense. It wasn't until I saw @Hungry Mother's comment that I got what was going on.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny re: "minty" thyme. I believe the clue could be referring to its place in its taxonomic family. Thyme is part of the mint family Lamiaceae.

Some people do detect a slightly minty flavor in thyme, but I find it too pungent to be considered what I'd call "minty."

Ann Howell 9:07 AM  

Count me in as another one who slogged through the puzzle without ever grasping the theme! It is cute once explained. Mind you my brain is severely preoccupied with other things this morning, like a lot of us...

Wendy D 9:15 AM  

Not enjoyable at all.

A magician conjures awe? Lame.

kitshef 9:19 AM  

@Jmorgie- check again. Some are on papyrus or copper.

bocamp 9:23 AM  

@Unknown 8:40 AM 🤐🤞

y.d. 0

Peace Pax שָׁלוֹם Paz Paix 🕊

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

@T. Cook:

there are so many things Apple that the Black Turtle Neck simply wouldn't permit that, in and of themselves, and eventually came to be (some while he still lived), kept the company from going under. I leave the list making as a student exercise.

Z 9:46 AM  

I will never understand people who make accusations of a clue’s wrongness without make the least effort to find out if what they heard was true. I also don’t understand why Wikipedia article sent me to an article in The Guardian rather than, you know, the site for the people digitizing the scrolls.

iPad, STYLI, Steve Jobs... What I really want to know is why Jobs dressed like Dieter.

Nancy 9:51 AM  

The most baffling clue for DUB (1A) that I have ever seen. In fact, the most baffling clue for just about anything that I have ever seen. I have no idea what the constructor is talking about. I expected to have it all answered here, but no such luck. Maybe later. Maybe on another blog.

That said, I enjoyed the lively, breezy wordplay of the theme -- which I saw immediately. That made the puzzle pretty easy, but did not take away from the enjoyment. It didn't take my mind off the news for very long, no more than 5-10 minutes, but while I was working on it, it was a most welcome diversion. Escape, even.

I do think the EAZYE/ZESTA cross was completely unfair. I had no idea and guessed EASYA/SESTA. But I never call such a Natick on pop culture a "DNF" in my own mind. I pronounce the puzzle "Solved!!" and go on cheerfully with my day. Or at least I would if it were a more cheerful day. Sigh.

pmdm 10:00 AM  

I am rarely amused after perusing the write-up (which I tend to only skim through), but not so today. How pleasant to anticipate another puzzle (one is in the queue) that probably won't showcase a new constructor's prejudices.

I may not like all the puzzles, but I find the puzzles less annoying than waiting for election results.

pabloinnh 10:04 AM  

No idea what was going on theme-wise until NE/ANYTIME, when I realized what was up right in the middle of a Zoom meeting. I resisted the urge to shout Aha! or even write anything until the meeting ended, which happened long after I wished it had. ZESTA seemed right because "zesty", no?

Any puzzle with OTTERS is a great puzzle. No, really, it is.

A debut? I'm more than a little impressed. Nice work, JM, and keep 'em coming.

William of Ockham 10:07 AM  

fugly little excuse for a puzzle

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

ummm... producing a film for another language market is either 1) subtitled or 2)DUBbed by voices speaking the language of the market.

Suzy 10:17 AM  

Had no idea what the theme was, but it fell pretty easily, except for 1A. Just crunchy enough to occupy
my mind on an otherwise miserable morning. Thanks, Red, for going easy on us this morning.—

DavidL 10:23 AM  

Add me to the list of solvers who were naticked by EAZY E / ZESTA.

I don't recall ever having to run the alphabet on a bad cross, and the crossing letter being a Z! I was glad when I finally heard the "solved" jingle from the app.

All that aside, I agree with Rex and others that this was a clever puzzle theme, and well-executed.

pmdm 10:25 AM  

Nancy: I've just finished watching the Criterion Collection blu-ray release of the original Godzilla movies, about 15 of them I think. The set includes an extra that tries to explain why the Japanese pronounce the monsters name GOjira which turned into godZILla when the original Japanese movies were edited and dubbed for release in America. Had the movies never been dubbed into English, Americans would only have heard the Japanese pronunciation. The dubbed version of the movie caused what the clue for 1A refers to. Like ourself, I never knew that. At least until watching the originals. While you may still be annoyed, I hope at least you understand.

GILL I. 10:27 AM  

I feel like my acini needs some PAPYRI with a bit of STYLI and I want to tote them all up in an abaci. Oh, wait....ICY BLUE...do you?
Can someone please tell me why SLATE is a salon competitor?
I need a ROACH.
I FELT ANGST til I got to EASY MONEY; a big BOP and a HOOT in the SODDEN PRAIRIE. OK...so this is kinda cute in a THYMEly way. Can I put on my PARTY HAT yet?
I don't like seeing TIE in the middle of this crazy puzzle. Will the CHAINS come OFF of the SPIT?
I need a NAP.
PAX to all and to all I bid an adios.

Nancy 10:28 AM  

@MarthaCatherine (8:55) -- Aha! Thank you. That's why I didn't know ZESTA. A saltine-style cracker. Meaning there's a lot of salt. I hate salt. There's too much salt in the world. It's not just that it's bad for me -- which, because I'm on medication for high blood pressure, it is -- but it makes me unpleasantly thirsty. And it also makes me...you know! Incessantly. Finding low-salt or no-salt foods is no easy task.

Let me recommend the best not-salty-at-all cracker in the world to all you ZESTA fans. Carr's Water Crackers. Unlike salted crackers, they won't disguise or change the flavor of what you're putting on them. The cheese will be cheesier; the chopped liver will be liver-ier; the garlic hummus will be garlic-ier. They're completely neutral, yet they don't taste like sawdust like some of the "health" crackers. Not cheap, but worth every penny. And, no, I don't own any Carr's stock.

mathgent 10:32 AM  

Nice and zippy. I can almost forgive the 28 (!) Terrible Threes. Jeff Chen used to tut-tut there being over 20 of those pests, but he didn’t even mention it today. Four threes can be fit into a row or column, so a theoretical maximum in a 15x15 is 60.

We get Keebler products out here but I don’t think we get ZESTAs. Nabisco and a Safeway brand are all I see on the shelves.

I’m with Nancy in looking for an explanation of DUB. To begin with, I just read that a band changed its name from Godzilla to Gojira, so the clue seems backward. But also, DUB means to give something or someone a fresh new name.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Happily, I’d just like to note that Linda Evans was in “The Rockford Files” not once, but twice.

Barbara S. 10:40 AM  

Last night I made a stab at a couple of additions to the theme (neither particularly brilliant):

Cantina, Dive*

Blinkers, Daylights**

I liked the theme. Figured it out in mid-solve. I came in at my usual Wed. time but the first pass through was brutal -- thank heavens for ROACH Motel, I HEAR and KEANU Reeves.

"High and dry" is an interesting idiom. It seems to mean both "being in a helpless or abandoned position" i.e. UP A TREE, or "safe; unbothered by difficulties; unscathed". These two definitions are taken from MW and the Free Dictionary respectively, and both sources acknowledge the other meaning.

I had trouble with two crosses: EAZYE/ZESTA and TIM/ELIS, but both eventually fell.

* seedy bars (hi @kitshef, 7:17)
** beady eyes

S.B. 0

DavidL 10:41 AM  

I worked at the polls yesterday (5am to 9:30pm) and so I only got to yesterday's puzzles this morning.

CHANTEY was both an answer in the crossword AND the 7-letter word in the Spelling Bee (causing a fail in the Spelling Bee because I never saw that spelling before). Weird. It doesn't look like anyone else noted that curious coincidence.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

A lot of things I hold dear get bashed around here. But I'll be darned if I let salt be demeaned. Salt is sublime. It's one of the five basic tastes. It's so great it's where the word salary comes from. The Massachusetts militia fought the Red Coats to the death over salt. Don't get enough sodium in your diet, you die.
Low-salt potato chips? An abomination. A margarita without salt on the rim? Puhlease. Google a list of the saltiest foods then do the same with the best foods. It's the same list:
Bread, pizza, sandwiches, cure meats.
I may not be a salt of the earth guy, but you can take my bacon when you pry it from my cold, dead, salivating tongue.

Newboy 10:48 AM  

Bravo Jack! What a stunning effort for your debut, so I’m waiting for your next with anticipation almost equal to that for getting PA final results. I finished the grid still scratching my head as I listened to Mr HP. Thankfully Rex had a succinct and easily accessible cure for my itch. Any grid that has LIBRARY CARD , the Dead Sea Scrolls & SPIT IT OUT is testimony to a sensibility worthy of that Pax et Lux degree. Now we return to Nate Silver.

mathgent 10:49 AM  

The theoretical maximum number of threes in a 15x15 is 120. Sorry.

Whatsername 10:59 AM  

Finished without having the slightest idea what the theme was and when I saw the explanation it seemed clunky to me because it really doesn’t work. Indigo and cerulean are deep BLUEs, not ICY. Eleven and noon are not just ANY TIME; they’re specific times. Neither a Satellite nor Pulitzer is an ESPY AWARD. I know how the clues work and I understand the theme, I just didn’t particularly like it. But that should not detract from an otherwise perfectly good and well thought out puzzle. Congrats to the constructor on a successful debut.

The “ruminating” clue for EWE reminded me of an old poem one of my teachers would use to shame the gum chewers in his class:

"The gum-chewing student
And cud-chewing cow
Look quite alike
But they're different, somehow,
And what is the difference?
I see it all now ----
It's the intelligent look
On the face of the cow!"

Unknown 11:02 AM  

Lol, me too! This was my last fill. My first guess was a Z and it worked!

Tom R 11:04 AM  

I know nothing of Rap (except I don't consider it music and I don't like it) except learning names from crossword. EazyE? Sounds like a college course description. But, overall, IMO, the theme sucked and I still didn't get it after I had completed the grid. I just threw theme answers in from crosses and from completing phases. Not a fan.

bocamp 11:06 AM  

"Die out" before "die off".

Struggling with an x-word on iPod touch, I commented to a friend that Apple might want to produce something with more screen space. Can't recall all the reasons, but there were a number of things I thought would benefit from such a device. A short time thereafter, they came out with the "iPad". Not normally being an early adopter, the iPad was an exception.

Was not an early adopter of the Apple Pencil, altho, I finally came up with enough reasons to update to an iPad Pro, and the "stylus" was a no-brainer. I use it every day for various tasks.

"Empty nester" since '94.

"Taxi" TV Show - A Full House for Christmas (aired 12 December 1978)

Lived at the edge of a forest; was quite often "up a tree", to Mom's never-ending disquiet. Did provide family and friends with mistletoe, tho.

No dogs today, but an "otter" oughta do.

@Z 9:46 AM

Great vid, thx :) and further to your research re: Dead Sea Scrolls:

Dead Sea Scrolls - mostly parchment with "some" papyrus

"Dated to between 408BC and 318AD, they are written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean, mostly on parchment, but with "some" written on papyrus and bronze."

• The scrolls are a collection of some 25,000 fragments of ancient manuscript

• Among their texts are the earliest-known copies of books of the Hebrew Bible

• They were first unearthed in the Qumran Caves, near the Dead Sea, in 1946

• Piecing the texts together from fragments like a jigsaw has been challenging

• DNA analysis can help and revealed that "most" scrolls are made of sheep skin

Bottom line: the clue holds up: "some" were "papyri".

non p.g. -5

Peace Pax שָׁלוֹם Paz Paix 🕊

Joe Dipinto 11:09 AM  

Haven't you people ever heard of a foreign film being DUBbed into English?

An inventive theme, by a debuting constructor – color me impressed! I think "ice blue" is the more usual color name, though that may depend on whether you're buying house paint or an evening gown. Snazzy entries: WHO'S IN, PARTY HATS, SPIT IT OUT, BASTILLE DAY.

A humpday hit, in my book.

Hey wait, what are we doing in Frisco? Let me out!...

Whaddya mean, you won't go to Brooklyn? Fangool!...

Finally. Just take Flatbush straight down...

jae 11:09 AM  

Medium. Caught the theme towards the end of my solve and it cleared up my confusion. Cute, clever, and pretty smooth. Liked it.

Babz 11:10 AM  

Please explain 21 across ...slate?

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

Joe Dipinto,

And a strong case could be made that Japanese monster movies with English dubbed in are the most famous examples of dubbing in moviedom. Unreal that this has tripped people up imho.

Swagomatic 11:19 AM  

When I finished, I was amazed at my time. Since I was distracted by the election drama on my TV, I fully expected to be over my average, but I came in way below. I enjoyed the solve - it was a nice break from the sturm and drang of the election.

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

Salon and Slate are competing e-mags

mbr 11:41 AM  

@GILL.I and @Babz: SLATE and SALON are both e-magazines

Lindsay 11:56 AM  

SLATE is usually under the layer of pool table FELT. Anyone else think that?

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

Some in the commentariat are fussing that the theme answers don't *exactly* correspond to one or both (as some's stated preference) of the clue words. Folks, the answer isn't intended to, only to be an archetype of the reversed mnemonic. So turquoise, liberty == teal blue (https://cssgradient.io/shades-of-blue/)

CT2Napa 12:02 PM  

@mathgent actually 96

you would have 16 3x3 minis each of which would have 6 threes - three across and 3 down

if you had 60 across threes you would have 12 fifteens going down

Anonymous 12:06 PM  


good quality ones. most home tables (< $3,000 or so) have MDF beds.

The Joker 12:08 PM  

ROACH Motel is a good nickname for the White House these days. I think maybe the roach is DT's spirit animal.

GILL I. 12:13 PM  

@Whatsername. HAH!...My grandfather was a knight.....His name was Sir Loin.....
@mbr. Oh....but muchas thank you.

Masked and Anonymous 12:18 PM  

Re: Puztheme: Different. Clever idea. Well executed. thUmbsUp.
Caught onto the theme mcguffin pretty quick at EZ/EASYMONEY, due to I just had made a runtpuz a few days ago with a (somewhat) similar theme.

staff weeject pick: SEN. May be about an equal no. of dem and rep material in the SEN after this elec.? Nice weeject stacks, in the NE & SW. Hefty overall weeject count, today -- not sure what an acceptable max should be for the lil darlins. The most three-letter answers ever in a 15x15 NYTPuz was 44 [most recent example was a themeless on 24 May 2013].

faves: BASTILLEDAY. PARTYHATS. PAPYRI. UTURNS. WHOSIN. The whole EAZYE/EASYMONEY thing, already well-blog-covered here.

OK. I sorta got an extra themer pup …
{Yes, Undecided} = ? *

[answer below]
M&A really needs a nap now.

Thanx for all the fun, Mr. Murtagh. And congratz on yer excellent debut puz.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

p.s. Primo blog write-up, @RP.

* {Yes, Undecided} = WHY YOU VOTE.


Mr. Alarm 12:20 PM  

Good puzzle, but I would say ROACH motel doesn’t pass the old Breakfast Test! Yuk! Too many unpleasant memories of disgusting, decomposing roaches stuck in RMs in my Hell’s Kitchen apartment!

Nancy 12:22 PM  

Yes, Anon (11:19), but there actually are people who never, not even once, have seen a "Japanese monster movie" and who plan to keep it that way.

@Anon 10:47 -- I adore bacon, too, and I should have made myself clearer. While I can't understand or explain exactly why, I love plenty of salty foods in which the salt content "belongs" or at least seems to. This includes many of my faves: smoked salmon (but definitely NOT lox!); blue cheeses -- especially dolce gorgonzola -- along with other cheeses such as parmesan; sardines; anchovies in a Caesar Salad. It's the added, unnecessary salt that I truly hate: salted nuts (nuts are SO much better without salt!); soups (ridiculous salt levels; all you taste is the salt); pretzels; salted crackers; salted potato chips. Also canned vegetables. I can add any salt that's required myself, thank you very much. And I do adore pizza -- although the best pizzas are not over-salty. But I would never bad-mouth bacon. Never. Who would?

oisk17 12:23 PM  

Felt similarly to many others who got up earlier...Never heard of Zesta. But Ea_ye and _esta. Decided it was "Easy e," but rappers use abnormal spelling..and Zesta looked better for a cracker than Sesta, so I got it.

Otherwise, clever cluing, nice theme. I approve.

DigitalDan 12:32 PM  

I thought this was nice. I'm too white ever to grasp the joy of hip-hop or rap music, so I have zero familiarity with any artist thereof who does not also star on police procedurals. EasyE, EazyE, would never have got it without Google, since Zesta could be Sesta as far as I'm concerned. Oh, well, not the biggest problem in the world today.

Sir Hillary 12:32 PM  

Theme felt fresh, so top marks for that.

Seeing STYLI, PAPYRI and a Facebook clue had me thinking of the Winklevi.

Speaking of the Facebook clue, I agree with Rex that it's a weird way to clue ACCTS. I also don't find THYME minty in the least, but that may just be me.

CJ 12:33 PM  

"Cheers" "The Drunken Clam" (Seedy Bars)

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

@Sir Hillary:
I also don't find THYME minty in the least,

the bottled dry stuff in your local megamart, likely so. we were on the island a few weeks ago, and the building management had put out some herb pots, including, of course, thyme. totally different stuff pungent and 'minty'

bocamp 12:55 PM  

@Barbara S. 10:40 AM 👍

@DavidL 10:41 AM

Bless you for your extra-civic service. 🇺🇸

No offense intended, but SB "spoilers" (even a day after) are probably not a good idea. There are those who keep multiple tabs open, with previous days' puzzles not yet sussed out.

There were three posts yesterday related to the topic. Search for "Spelling Bee" and "SB". Also, in a general sense, most SBers are striving to maintain a much lower profile, out of respect for the the commentariat. :)

@oisk17 12:23 PM

My thinking too :)

"slate" vs MDF pool table beds


Peace Pax שָׁלוֹם Paz Paix 🕊

RAD2626 1:02 PM  

Thought it was a really well built puzzle with a different and clever theme. For me, it was a tale of two halves. The bottom half went easily while the top half was end of week hard, particularly the NE. Our playful friends the OTTERS (apparently the only playful wild animal) and oddly enough the two theme answers were my footholds. Did not know the AMISH ritual, and PAVES needed the crosses to figure out. My biggest mistake was sticking in Bates and then Notel for the motel. Stubbornly stuck with Bates until almost the bitter end. PARTY HATS finally sorted it all out for me.

Terrific debut. Made me work. Liked the offbeat cluing.

Unknown 1:07 PM  

Right on!

Unknown 1:09 PM  

I’m old enough to remember this one!

sara 1:11 PM  

where DID the SB posts go? I miss them!! Struggling daily to get
from Amazing up to Genius, once in a while a bit further -- it heartens
me to hear how others are doing and to share frustration re those disallowed perfectly good words...

Teedmn 1:17 PM  

What a ZESTA little puzzle! I loved the theme and had three clues circled for cleverness. 8D's "Top choices for one's birthday" (all I could think of was cake frosting, har), 8A's "Covers a lot, in a way" for PAVES and 29D's "Medium strength" for ESP. LIBRARY CARD: What's in your wallet, book lover?


@kitshef, kudos for Quiche, Tart!

Jack Murtagh, what a great debut, congratulations. I'm so glad we have another from you to look forward to.

GILL I. 1:26 PM  

@Nancy...we're on the same salt length. EXCEPT....salted potato chips. You haven't lived until you've sat in front of the TV watching re-runs of "I Love Lucy" and eating a bag of Kettle Sea Salt & Vinegar potato chips. Trust me. You might gain a few pounds, your teeth might need extra cleaning, but the sublime taste of those chips will make you a happier person......

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Hey. Don't knock Ned Beatty.

Sir Hillary 1:31 PM  

@Anon 12:50 -- Maybe we have experience with different varieties of THYME, or perhaps different palates. The THYME I grow in my garden is never minty. I wouldn't know about the bottled variety in my local megamart.

Babe 1:31 PM  

Not a fan of bacon. 😥

jberg 2:08 PM  

I wrote a longer post from my phone, but it wouldn't let me log in, and I lost it. So now I'll just say that I thought the theme was cute. At first it bothered me that in some cases two birds, for example, were used to clue a singular answer. But since a Pulitzer is not an ESPY AWARD, I realize that I was being too literal.

I remembered EAZY E after a couple of crosses, but spelled it with an S. Then I realized that there was a type of cracker called ZESTA (being expected to know not just the brand name of the cracker but the name of the maker seems a bit much, though).

Fun puzzle, keep 'em coming!

Greg 3:07 PM  


bocamp 3:37 PM  

@sara 1:11 PM

See my post from today at 12:55 PM for a partial answer to your question. You'll see a (0) just above my tag line near the bottom of the post. That's my progress for today's Bee. In this case (0) represents the number of words yet to be discovered.

It appears that there are still a number of SBers not aware of the dissatisfaction and frustration that many of the commentariat were increasingly expressing last month re: the clutter of non-x-word related SB posts.

In a nutshell: most SBers are respecting the commentariat's request for less SB stuff from us. It's recommended that discussion of the day's Bee should be taken elsewhere.

Here are a couple of alternatives:

Reddit SB Discussion Group

The Genius of Spelling Bee - Click on the bubble with the number of comments, then click on "all"; the most recent comment was Nov. 1.

I offered to organize an email Bee digest for SBers on this blog; no takers, as yet.

Hope this helps to clear up why you don't see many SB alerts or comments any more. 😊


Peace Pax שָׁלוֹם Paz Paix 🕊

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

Some of you didn't really understand the theme, did you? It's apparent in some of the comments.

Kenny Mitts 5:36 PM  

Can anyone explain how “it must do it” = TAG?

F The Police 5:37 PM  

Eazy E . LOL Anybody know what NWA is an initialism ( I’d say acronym but I’m a purist who thinks acronym should be reserved for initialisms that spell out words) for ?

JC66 5:52 PM  

@Kenny Mitts

When kids play TAG, the one that's IT must TAG one of the others kids so their IT.

Kenny Mitts 6:20 PM  

@JC66 Thank you! I could not make sense of it.

Birchbark 7:07 PM  

A real pleasure to read @Rex's review today. All of his intelligence and wit in play, zero ANGST. If you've ever gone back and read his early reviews, today's is very much in line with that voice. Thanks, @Rex, and may we see you again soon.

"BEAUTY is truth, truth BEAUTY."

CS 7:21 PM  

Yuck, really did NOT like this one. I finished but didn't get the gist. I see now, but it was not fun.

Oh well tomorrow is another day.

- CS

Joe Dipinto 8:05 PM  

@F The Police – Gee, no, I have no idea what it stands for. Naticks With Allergies?

Anonymous 8:09 PM  

Rex taking a whiz on The Rockford Files. Spare me. That program was genius. The creation of a genius. Roy Huggins. And in a terrific coincidence, one of The films he wrote- Too Late for Tears—is on TCM right now

Z 8:18 PM  

Nabob Witch Alliance

Nanook With ANGST

Nuns With Altitude (starring Sally Fields)

Naan With Aloo

Z 8:21 PM  

Ooh Ooh I know - Nasally Whining Anonymice

TTrimble 8:51 PM  


Coming briefly out of hiding, with regard to SB.

I will consider being part of an email list.

However, my own feeling is that much if not most of the outcry against SB posts has been much too strident. The complaint that it's off-topic doesn't hold water -- so many conversations here splinter off into off-topic and are of limited interest to most of the commentariat. So what? That's how conversations go. People involved in them are enjoying them.

And so it is with SB-ers, who now seem to feel themselves ghettoized and cowed, and now communicate with each other furtively and through an argot.

What unites the commentariat is a shared love and delight in words and puzzles, and reviews of such where we agree and disagree and argue good-naturedly. And perhaps that should be the focus of SB discussions as well. There really are some extraordinary words there, to savor and let dwindle under the tongue.

bocamp 9:19 PM  

@TTrimble 8:51 PM

Good to hear from you. Looking forward to your permanent return. 😊

Let me digest your ideas tonight and reply tomorrow. It would give others a better chance to chime in, as well. 🤔

Peace Pax שָׁלוֹם Paz Paix 🕊

JC66 10:45 PM  

****SB ALERT****


FWIW, I vote for continuing to comment here (appropriately).

bocamp 11:08 PM  

@JC66 10:45 PM

Thx for your input; much appreciated! The key would be to define "appropriately". I hope the commentariat will understand that we're trying to do the right thing and be patient with us as we discuss the issue tomorrow. 🤞

Almost bedtime for Bonzo 😴

Peace Pax שָׁלוֹם Paz Paix 🕊

Anoa Bob 11:19 PM  

I think crashing this crossword puzzle comment board with stuff about some spelling bee is like interrupting a chess comment board with stuff about checkers.

JC66 11:57 PM  


Couldn't you find an analogy with more S's? ;-)

Pdxrains 2:12 AM  

THYME is not minty. Nobody uses STYLI on an ipad. If they do, Jobs rolls over in his grave.

Taxed Too Much in NJ 9:44 AM  

Never got the theme but fun overall and I love Zesta crackers—better than Nabisco’s Saltines!

Nancy 9:59 AM  

Didn't see this yesterday, @Anoa Bob. Excellent analogy. Amen, amen!

Joe in Newfoundland 9:00 AM  

Syndicationland here. ACCTS? nope, not even near. Since I didn't know ZESTA crackers couldn't think of an ACC-S word. Ridiculous clue.
THYME doesn't taste like mint but it related. As is basil.
ps love the new captcha - just click the button. no more trying to figure out what it thinks a fire hydrant is.

spacecraft 10:44 AM  

Well, Ned was in "Files" ALOT (ATON, TONS) more than once. As Jim Rockford's dad, he was considered a regular. This one felt like an easy puzzle that W.S. was trying to turn into a tougher one with edgy clues.

No DOD, ALAS. But we have a true bleedover--occurring at the exact same position as yesterday: STYLI. (Mini- I-plural theme with PAPYRI). Not sure what the connection between Salon and SLATE is, but it worked. Hand up for seAR before CHAR. All things considered, a good one. Birdie.

thefogman 11:30 AM  

Got it. But I had to guess for the 35A-31D crossing (ELIS, TIM). I’m a bit surprized this wasn’t flagged as a Natick by OFL. The theme was okay but there was way too much junk fill for my liking.

EDIT - I got burned at the 43D-43A crossing. I had aBA for 43D thinking it must stand for American Bowling Association. Wrong. And now I understand what the obtuse clue for 43A was getting at. What a HOOT! Now I’m UPATREE and beaten by some junk fill.

thefogman 11:49 AM  

PS - I just found out what the meaning of 21A is. SLATE and Salon are both online magazines. One more reason to file this one and forget it...

Burma Shave 1:53 PM  


That AMISH girl, CHAR, is a BEAUTY,
IHEAR she’s EASY and, no doubt,
ANYTIME we PARTY IT’s her duty
to get IT UP and SPITITOUT.


rondo 2:34 PM  

EASY EAZY EZ. 28 threes is a bit much don'tcha think?

Medal, Endowment = Emmy Award

At the four corners of the beach don't get SAND in your NADS, no ifs ANDS or butts.

I do the puz using STYLI on PAPYRI. PAX OUT.

leftcoaster 3:42 PM  

Got all the right words, but didn’t sound out the phonics of the five pairs of clues and answers, EZ/EASY, etc....

Light gloss on just one LIP? Nah, just one lip at a time.

Last words in were EAZY E (stray themer?) with ZESTA cross.

Clever puzzle; sounded pretty good to me.

leftcoaster 3:45 PM  

@Burma Shave -- PENAL indeed.

Diana, LIW 4:19 PM  

Started out tough, but soon it was all filled in.

I wondered about the bowling group, too.

Lady Di

spacecraft 7:40 PM  

PBA = Professional Bowlers' Association

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