Vocalist Gorme / THU 11-12-20 / Alexander historical mystery novelist / Shelley ode that begins Hail to thee blithe spirit / Unknown people slangily / Famous question first asked around 1600 / Baseball strategy that starts with a stolen base attempt

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Constructor: Kristian House

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (untimed)

THEME: "To" => "Two" — familiar phrases that contain "to ___," where the blank is a homophone of a letter of the English alphabet; in the grid, the "to ___" phrase is represented as two (2) letters:

Theme answers:
  • "To a Skylark" => AA SKYLARK (so, "'two-A" SKYLARK) (17A: Shelley ode that begins "Hail to thee, blithe spirit!")
  • "Talk to you later" => TALK UU LATER (28A: "Bye for now")
  • Floats out to sea => FLOATS OUT CC (45A: Gently leaves shore)
  • "To be or not to be..." => BB OR NOT BB (61A: Famous question first asked around 1600)
Word of the Day: TASHA Alexander, historical mystery novelist (33A) —
Tasha Alexander (born 1969) is an American author who writes New York Times bestselling historical mystery fiction. [...] In 2002, while living in New Haven, Connecticut, she started work on her first novel, after being inspired by a passage in Dorothy L. Sayers's Gaudy Night. Carolyn Marino at William Morrow acquired the book, And Only to Deceive, which was published in 2005 as the first installment of the Lady Emily series. Following a move to Franklin, Tennessee, where Alexander wrote her second novel in a local Starbucks, she eventually relocated to Chicago, where she married British novelist Andrew Grant (brother of bestselling author Lee Child) in 2010.[...] The Lady Emily series, set in a time between the 1890s and 1900s and spanning across cities throughout Europe, follow the adventures of Lady Emily and her husband Colin Hargreaves. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well there's one main problem with the theme and it's so obvious that maybe I'm the only one who actually found it a problem. Always possible. The problem is, There are two letters ... lettersssssss ... Two As, two Us, etc. So what I'm looking at is "Two 'A's Skylark," not "Two A Skylark." It's two As ... then SKYLARK. It's not a compound adjective (i.e. a two-A skylark), because that makes no sense unless the answer were SKYLAARK (now *that* is a two-A skylark!). Unless you are thinking mathematically (which, ugh, I guess is what half of you all do), then the whole AA = 2A feels off. It's two "A"s, not two A. "TWO Bs OR NOT TWO Bs!, that is what I'm looking at!" If you can overlook this massive conceptual ... let's say, issue ... then you've got a pretty straightforward, basic, kinda old-fashioned Thursday on your hands. The grid is definitely a little heavy on the overfamiliar short fill, which often happens when the grid is built with massive amounts of 3-, 4-, and 5-letter answers—not much room for sparkle, lots of room for AÇAI and ALAI and etc. PLUGS AWAY and HIT AND RUN are just fine, "SIR DUKE" is always welcome, and I have an odd fondness for I.T. BANDS (perhaps because they are a constant concern in my own life). So, the theme is conceptually flawed, from where I stand, and the fill is a bit on the tepid side, but I did not have a bad time.

There are an awful lot of names in this puzzle, which is the one aspect of the puzzle that I can see moving the difficulty level much further up for some people. The names also skew older. It's at least a little dangerous to cross TANDY (30D: Jessica who was the original Blanche DuBois on Broadway) and EYDIE (44A: Vocalist Gorme), as neither of those names is particularly common / obvious / inferrable, and there's a good chance that people under 40, and especially under 30, would never have heard of either of them. I don't know any other TANDYs or EYDIEs *besides* these two, so if I didn't know them ... I'd have no way to get to them by analogy. Most of the other names seem like they wouldn't present too much problem *except* that KAROL / TASHA crossing, yikes. TASHA was the real yikes, actually. I feel very lucky that kinda sorta knew KAROL (26D: Pope John Paul II's first name) (wrote it in when I got the "K" from SKA), because the only TASHA I know is TASHA Yar from "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and I didn't even actually watch that show (my wife did). Needed every cross for TASHA, and KAROL was by faaaar the diciest of those crosses. It's really really really best to avoid crossing not-universally known names, especially at letters that can't be easily inferred (this is what the term "Natick" was created to describe). And such crossings arguably happened twice today—though "A" is probably the only good guess at TASHA / KAROL, as KIROL seems pretty implausible... but if I'd never seen EYDIE, I'd think that was implausible too. Be careful with crossing names, please. Thank you. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 6:38 AM  

doesn't a hit and run start with the hit, and a run and hit start with the stolen base?

Unknown 6:53 AM  

Sorry but 34D is completely wrong. A baseball play that starts with a stolen base attempt is a "Run and Hit"...

Unknown 6:56 AM  

Thought the same about 2 letters, even after "Talk to yous (guys) later." But didn't Ogden Nash write about the "two L llama" (cf. 1A), not the "two Ls llama"?

OffTheGrid 7:00 AM  

Ditto @Rex.

ChuckD 7:01 AM  

Just thought this was too easy and not tricky enough to satisfy my Thursday wants. I think Rex’s take on it is off - we’re not counting letters here - they’re letter homophones as they visually appear in the grid. Liked FLOATS OUT TO SEA best. Overall fill is fine - PLUGS AWAY and HIT AND RUN are nice longs and there’s limited glue. Couple hiccups - second SERE sighting in a week for a word no one uses and the EDDIE x EYDIE cross is bad.

Semi fond memories of reading Shelly in school. I like Rex’s Buick more than the ode. As we get deeper into November I’ll take the more comfortable West Wind - thou breath of Autumn’s being.

kitshef 7:07 AM  

Great fun.

Probably a quarter of my time today was spent in that NE corner. Only outright error was findS A WAY before PLUGS AWAY. But combine that with some vague clues and the vaguely known (but only from crosswords and not sure on the if it is UDON or UBON or ODON or whatever) UDON, and that section was rough for me.

In addition to Rex's proper noun crosses, MOAB crosses DEBS, and MALALA parallels OMAR, so I can see where those could give some problems.

Out hiking a few years ago and one of my knees began absolutely screaming at me. We were about halfway through a seven-mile circuit, so no choice but to keep going. It hurt less if I walked with my foot turned out, but I was afraid that would damage something permanently so I tried to keep it straight. Got through it, but continued to experience a lot of pain any time biking or hiking. It turned out, I needed to stretch my IT BANDS. Found a set of stretches in a book at my sister’s house (she used to marathon), and started doing them after every exercise session. Never had more than a twinge since. So what I'm saying is: look after your IT BANDS.

Michael A Macdonald 7:11 AM  

Hit and run is the idiomatic phrase

PB 7:18 AM  

The plural of Ulna is not Ulnas. I got the confuse.

dotcom 7:31 AM  

No, a hit and run starts with the runner stealing on the pitch. A 'run and hit' does not exist in baseball. It is not a thing.

SouthsideJohnny 7:33 AM  

Started out in the N/NW and noticed the five trivia questions (LIAM, MALALA, OMAR, SIR DUKE, AA SKY LARK) and lost most of my enthusiasm. Putzed around a bit looking for crossword clues, bumped into more esoterica (KAROL, TANDY, EYDIE, TASHA, ASTRO . . .), got bored, gave up and looked for a word puzzle instead of a trivia quiz and settled on spelling bee.

Z 7:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
GILL I. 7:34 AM  

So unknown people are RANDOS? Your spiritual leader isn't a GURU? That girl with colitis isn't a Mondegreen? IT BANDS? LIAM who? TASHA KAROL and SIR DUKE wander into a bar...DEBS served them MOAB on the rocks. ACAI and ALAI were on the house. They paid through the nose but at least one of them had a VISA.
This gets my D Minus oof award...especially for people who say IT IS what IT IS. Stink eye in the mail.

Z 7:41 AM  

I agree with Rex’s plaint now that he has mentioned it, but I was busy pondering the first themer and why the subtleties of schwa made it so hard for me to suss it out. Ode TO A SKYLARK is pronounced as “to uh” not “to ā.” Even with “ode” waving a giant flag at me in the clue I just could not wrap my head around what was happening. I had AA SKYLARK in the grid and still took many nanoseconds to figure out why/if I was done. Honestly, I still don’t understand how ANKHS are key symbols (that K was the last letter I entered).

I also have PPP complaints about that corner. Overall the puzzle is high but not excessive (23/74 for 31%). But that corner? AA SKYLARK, SNL, LIAM, MALALA, OMAR, SIR DUKE. That’s a lot PPP taking up a lot of grid squares in that corner, one of which is foreign. I guess we are supposed to be thankful that we didn’t also get a Kate MOSS and Kingsley AMIS clue up there. And what’s with the second most famous Hemsworth clue (or is Luke second most famous?)? If you’re going Hemsworth for your LIAM clue why not go full YENTA with “Miley’s ex-husband?”

In short, combine a PoPPP (that’s Plethora of Pop Culture, Product Names and other Proper Nouns) with a themer that doesn’t quite sound right and that NW corner sucked the joy out of this puzzle and replaced it with Rye.

Regarding HIT AND RUN, that is what the play is called even though the RUNning precedes the HITting in the play. Why? Hey, baseball has always loved malaprops (Yogi Berra’s are the stuff of legend) so why be surprised that jargon isn’t scientifically precise.

Frantic Sloth 7:51 AM  

This theme? What to say except:

YY U R, YY U B, I C U R, YY 4 me



And besides that, the dang thing doesn't even work. Yeah, visually it's clever, but how one would actually say what's written makes no sense.
2 As Skylark?
TALK 2 Us LATER? (Actually, I've been know to say that, but do you really wanna be like me?)
2 Bs ORNOT 2 Bs??

RANDOS was new to me and totes magotes too cool for the room. 🙄

Don't mind me and my cranky. Somebody ate my Post Toasties.

Couple of temporary Naticks for me so...


kitshef 7:52 AM  

My take on hit-and-run. A hit-and-run doesn't really start with a stolen base attempt at all. It starts with the runner going, with the idea being that the fielders are pulled out of position, making it easier for the batter to get a hit. In a successful hit-and-run, there is no stolen base attempt.

And yes, it makes more sense to say run-and-hit, and over the last forty years that has slowly taken over, but before that it was always hit-and-run, and you still hear that a lot today. I have an idea that Earl Weaver was behind the name change in some way, but I can't prove that. He hated the play, by the way.

Michiganman 7:53 AM  

The baseball clue/answer is clumsy. If one is attempting to steal (s)he is attempting to steal. A hit and run is dependent on the batter swinging. They are 2 separate plays. In decades of watching and listening to baseball games I have never heard the term "run and hit".

ChuckD 7:56 AM  

@dotcom - the run and hit is actually a thing. The issue here is that the stolen base occurs first for both hit and run and run and hit. The difference being on a hit and run - the batter always attempts to hit the ball - there’s always a swing to protect the runner. When I played in college - our coach would only give the run and hit to guys who could actually steal the base on their own. 3-2 counts are typical - which allows the batter to take ball 4.

TTrimble 7:59 AM  

Finished this in well under my average time. Agree with ChuckD that it wasn't much of a Thursday challenge.

Besides Jessica TANDY, there's the TANDY Corporation, of which RadioShack was a part before going under (a little sad for all those nerds who used to tinker around with electronic parts or do science experiments). When I was young, I was a "YMCA Indian Guide", which obliged me to become familiar with leather products and hence with the TANDY Corporation (being best known for their leather goods). My name was "Running Bull". My younger brother was "Charging Bull", and my dad was "Sitting Bull". Rhymes with Trimble.

Speaking of nerds and science: watching the news this morning and thinking sadly on how things have changed in this country, particularly with regard to the pandemic and how so many people nowadays disrespect science and think they know better, it saddens me too to read Rex declare his disgust with "mathematical thinking" (and I suppose with people who engage in it). I mean, on one level, I can't take it seriously since he doesn't know what mathematical thinking is. But on another level, he is an academic, and I find it a little bit disgraceful that any academic would register such a hostile attitude toward a sphere of intellectual activity of recognized depth and achievement. It's all part of a spectrum of disrespect toward math and science that is encouraged in some corners of academe (seeing it as a province of old/dead white dudes) and which has seeped into a cynical populace, thereby exacerbating this coronavirus mess, and shutting people's eyes to the looming threat of climate change.

In simplest terms: it's the scientists who are going to save your sorry asses. Show a little respect. Or at least keep your disrespect to yourself.

Joaquin 8:00 AM  

I can not only "overlook this massive conceptual ... let's say, issue." it would never in a million years have occurred to me that it was an issue at all. Just seemed like a fun theme, though a bit on the easy side once you are able cc it.

Maybe when the pandemic wanes I will be able to get out more; clearly, that's something I need to do as I never heard the term RANDOS. Now I want to get out there and see some of 'em!

John H 8:13 AM  

The puzzle works better if the first letter of the pair becomes a rebus "to." Then it becomes a legitimate across and a direction to where to begin that down. Then you don't have that "two b's" problem. Surprised Rex didn't think of that. But then, neither did the constructor or the editor.

Hungry Mother 8:13 AM  

A bit eey 4 a Thursday, but quite amusing solve. Great clue for DERMAL and nice cross of EDDIE with EYDIE.

Joaquin 8:14 AM  

The baseball play's name simply describes the two activities that happen, not the order in which they occur. It's not a "hit THEN run"; it's a "hit AND run".

Virtual Rando 8:21 AM  

Liked the theme answers esp. the Hamlet but the rest of the puzzle was awful.
The only clue that was almost clever was the one for dermal.

bocamp 8:21 AM  

@Kristian, lovely Thurs. puz with a clever theme, thx! :)

Redeemed from yesterday's fiasco, I am. A bit of trouble in the NW, but got "acai" and "icon"; came back for the rest later.

Smooth sailing the rest of the way, with no significant holdups.

Well under ave. time.

Ended up at the "Tasha" / "Karol" cross with a whack-a-vowel for the "a", which had more resonance than the second choice, (i). Had omitted the (a) from "Yent-s, just in case it needed an (e).

New (or kinda) to me: ode "to a skylark"; "Tasha Alexander"; "randos"; "Debs" (kinda); "Liam" (kinda); "Karol" (kinda); "Sir Duke".

Fav. clues/answers: 9A "d plus"; 15A "amis"; 16A "elide"; 35A "Yeti"; "floats out cc"; 64A "visa"; 4D "ankhs"; 9D "dermal"; 25D "staff"; 34D "hit and run"; 40D "beckon"; 43D "audible"; 52D "rare".

Not grokking: 59A site of some "sniping". (use eBay occasionally, but don't get "sniping"). Is that akin to a last second bit? Ok, looked it up; it is.

Do-overs: none

Stevie Wonder "Sir Duke"

"Eydie" Gormé and Trio Los Panchos - Piel Canela, Sabor A Mi, Granada

Peace Śānti امن Paix ཞི་བདེ Pax שלום Pokój Saimaqatigiiniq 🕊

Teresa 8:30 AM  

@TTrimble: That was eloquent. Thank you.

RooMonster 8:33 AM  

Hey All !
Overanalyzing by Rex at its finest! Geez Louise, it's twoA=TO A, twoU=TO U, etc. Stop reading so deeply into these things, and enjoy the solve!

I caught the theme at TALK UU LATER, after having AASKY____ at 17A, and then the Aha moment of two letters together to get TO (letter)(something). Neat concept. Favorite was BBORNOTBB. Good stuff. TwoB=TO B. Easy.

A cluster of PPP (Hey, @Z) in the North Center area. Holy ANKHS! Even the themer there (17A) is a PPP. Tough little section. Last to fill. Thankfully guessed MALALA off ___ALA, say MOST off the M, and was able to finish correctly. Non-cultured me didn't know the Shelley ode. I know, I know. I do know RANDOS, however. 😊

Other possible themers, STA FF, E DD IE, T OO TED. I'll let @M&A come up with the clues for those!

Liked it.


pdevlinmath268 8:34 AM  

As one of those mathematicians you allude to, I don’t know if “2A = A + A” is how I’m parsing “to a...”. I definitely didn’t notice it should be “2 A’s” but when you bring it up, I agree. I feel like “BB” being read as “2 B” is super weird. But for some reason, I feel like converting “2 B” into “BB” looks fine.

Blackhat 8:48 AM  

13 names, 1 foreign word....

Cristi 9:09 AM  

Agreed. All those RANDO people crossing. And I really wanted mondegreen to fit. All that clueing for MISHEARD—what a shame.

Z 9:16 AM  

@TTrimble - I agree with your main point but that mini-rant bothered me not at all, partially because Rex on Twitter is clear about following the science, but also because I have heard these kinds of rants often. Take this HIT AND RUN discussion as an example. To someone thinking scientifically the phrase has to be RUN AND HIT because that is what happens temporally. But that’s not the phrase and the physicist is missing an important aspect of the game.* Any academic is very aware of these different thinking/seeing styles (CP Snow wrote a book about it - so did Robert Pirsig) because it leads to conflict all the time in academic settings. Frustration and conflict does not have to equal disrespect. Frustration does not even mean discounting what they say or think. But it also is not respectful to allow them to continue to misapprehend the world unchallenged. When it comes to COVID I listen to epidemiologists, not poets or LAMAs. When it comes to, say, poetry, not so much.

*The pitcher commits to throwing home, the base runner begins running to the next base causing an infielder to move to cover the base, the hitter slaps the ball to where the infielder was. In slow motion these events are sequential. If you are a spectator at the game all these events happen practically simultaneously. It is that synchronicity that the phrase captures.

@Michiganman &@kitshef - I think you’re splitting hairs a little too finely. If the batter doesn’t hit the ball either a stolen base or caught stealing results. I suppose the clue could have been written more precisely, but I feel like it was long enough already.

@bocamp - I’ve been meaning to ask you... I would use “avg.” and have to pause a nanosecond every time you use “ave.” to remember that you’re not writing about roads. Why “ave?”

Unknown 9:18 AM  

There are two distinct plays in today's baseball world: "hit and run" in which the stolen base attempt is predicated on the batter swinging first, and "run and hit" in which the stolen base attempt precedes the batter's swing decision. Listen to any current broadcast and you will see that this distinction is in use. I agree that the historical lexicon is "hit and run" but this is mis-clued and easily fixed in the clue if not the grid.

Carola 9:18 AM  

For me, this was tough until the UUs explained the AAs and made the two remaining them answers easy to get. Cute, but would have liked the puzzle to have required more of a PLUGS AWAY sort of effort.

Agree: Terrific clue for DERMAL. Help from previous puzzles: ASTRO. Help from pile of books on husband's nightstand: TASHA. Didn't know: SIR DUKE, IT BANDS, HIT AND RUN, RANDOS. Do-over: my terrarium had MOld, which probably says something about my housekeeping habits.

Giovanni 9:19 AM  

I struggled in 3 separate areas so it took me a bit over an hour. I was sure DERMAL was wrong because the way Skinny was clued with the question mark, I thought they wanted the slang as in What's the Skinny? As in gossip or the latest info, not Thin. Why the question mark? Oh, I guess as in Skin. Oy vey iz mir! Now I get it.
I then moved on to my 2 other problem areas, I had EMO not SKA. I was shocked when I got the music when trying RARE for still mooing because I thought I needed to run around the grid and fix things, so that was a thrill! That rarely happens when you are sure you have a few errors and the music just plays. I stared at the screen in shock! Ok now I get the "still mooing" - Good Lord. That's one Oy Vey and one Good Lord.

pabloinnh 9:19 AM  

Caught on immediately with the AASKYLARK but wanted Rex's two A's because I was familiar with @Frantics YY rebus, which of course must be pronounced "too wise". After the skylark I was waiting for "BBetc". It took a while but eventually appeared and I was not disappointed.

I have heard both "hit and run" and "run and hit". This has been discussed to death so I'm just acknowledging the existence of both.

Have had ITBAND problems due to running and they are no fun at all. Also had recurring calf problems which heel lifts remediated and I wish I'd found them years before I did.

Some day I will look up the pronunciation of ACAI. I fear I've been writing it in crosswords for a long time and still have no idea of how to say it. Soft C? Three syllables? Really?

Fun enough Thursday, KH, but foreknowledge of the gimmick subtracted from the fun. Not your fault, just me being YY.

Frantic Sloth 9:21 AM  

So...I guess I wasn't the only one who was bothered by the 'S'ssss.

@GILL I. 734am "Stink eye in the mail." Too funny and too kind. Why wait? 😂

@Z 741am I would like to cast my vote in favor of lowering the PPP threshold to 30% please. Are you taking votes?? Even Rye is too good for here.

Speaking of the hit and run, @kitshef 752am has me wondering...does anyone know or is anyone willing to look up what percentage of success this play has earned over the years? I would do the research myself but I am, after all, me.
Always seems to me that it fails more often than not. And hey - if that turns out to be true, what is it with baseball and its fondness for failure? 7 out of 10 unsuccessful at bats and you're golden.

Also never heard of "run and hit" being a thing. It may be what actually happens, but it ain't what it's called. If it changes over time, so be it. But it ain't what it's

I feel more than one battle coming on...

TJS 9:21 AM  

There is no room in baseball for language purists. I would refer you all to the descriptions of Dizzy Dean as the Cardinal announcer.Batters “swang.” Pitchers “throwed” the ball with “spart.” Runners returned to “their respectable bases”s . An easy fly was a "can a'corn ". Of course, as a sharecroppers son, his education unfortunately stopped at second grade. But as he later related, "I wasn't so good at first neither".

Loved that Rex was timeless today, but, "I didn't have a bad time". Me either, Rex. I quit after "lutist".

Nancy 9:22 AM  

I consider this puzzle the story of A House Divided:

There's the good Kristian -- indeed the wonderful Kristian who gave me a clever, tricky, baffling wordplay theme that wowed me even as it damn near killed me...

And then there's the bad Kristian who gave me TASHA, KAROL and ASTRO crammed into the same section. Not to mention SKA, as clued, which could have been EMO or RAP or any 3-letter genre. Not fair, Kristian. Why muck up such a beautiful theme with so much ephemeral trivia fill?

As for my discovery of the theme: I couldn't remember whether the poem was ODE TO A SKYLARK or TO A SKYLARK, so I had no idea what sort of rebus I was looking for. I picked up the theme -- finally, finally -- all the way down at BB OR NOT BB. (Not a rebus at all!) I then figured out that ACAI was the three-syllable fruit (who knew? I've never heard the word said). And changing ON END to NO END (49A) finally gave me TOOTED. And TOOTED finally gave me FLOATS (instead of WASHES) OUT CC.

So clever, Kristian, but way too many names. Please, please try to avoid them next time. This could have so easily been a truly great puzzle.

MarthaCatherine 9:32 AM  

Not sure I get Rex's complaint. If you just say two A or two B or two U, without adding an S, the theme works and it works for all of the theme clues. Too much analysis for a small matter.

It's cute and I had a true aha moment when I caught on at 28A. I nearly broke my ULNAS patting myself on the back with both arms.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

OK but what do you do with the Downs? LITOM, LTOTIST, TOAPRIS, TOAD(well that works), TTOSP

George 9:37 AM  

The best thing about this puzzle was opening Rex's blog and seeing a sweet photo of a Buick SKYLARK, which is the only context in which I have ever heard of a SKYLARK. Oh yeah, briefly in the late 50's/early 60's Cessna made a Cessna SKYLARK, which was a Skyhawk with a geared Continental engine. Not a huge success.

Steve M 9:38 AM  

Thanks Sloth sill gimmick puzzle but at least a nod to us folk over 60 with Tandy and Gorme

KnittyContessa 9:39 AM  

Agree 100% with Rex today. The lack of "s' really bothered me.

I have never heard anyone use the term RANDOS so I googled it. A bit more nuanced than I thought.

"a person one does not know, especially one regarded as odd, suspicious, or engaging in socially inappropriate behavior."

Sami 9:40 AM  

No one mentioned the amusing clue for misheard. That was my favorite part. I used to mishear my mom's yiddish as "Oy vay shmear," and wondered why she was always complaining about bagels.

I think Randos has come and gone as a thing, because Emma Chamberlain never says that, even when they are chasing her around LA. She is really depressing to watch, but I can't look away. Thanks a lot NYTXW. She dropped out of high school and makes more money in a year than I ever will, while living in a huge empty gray house in LA and unboxing things on video for a living. I keep hoping she'll decide to go to college or make an art film. She has a good eye.

And thanks Rex for calling out Tasha Alexander. She seems to be living my best life.

Finally, thanks Rex, @kitshef and @pabloinnh for sharing about your IT bands. I feel fortunate not to have to worry about mine, but I know they can tend to need TLC. As an avid cyclist, I roll mine out with the foam roller. Sometimes, when it is not snowing.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

@TT. I think @Rex's comments about mathematical thinking are very specific to his discussion of the double letter theme. I did not take his comments as an indictment of science or scientists in general.

Unknown 9:58 AM  

A little trivia about The Jestson's dog Astro. He was originally the pet of Mr Gottrockets and was named Tralfaz. Gottrockets won Tralfaz back in the courts, but Tralfaz was only happy when the Jestsons came to visit, so Gottrockets gave him back to the Jetsons and he once again became Astro.

Yo Rick 10:01 AM  

Re the two identical letters comprising a plural noun and not a compound adjective, here's a little know fact that might help...

Immediately before Hamlet began his soliloquy in Act II, Scene 1, he noticed a fresh insect bite on each of his arms. Distracted by these, he first mused aloud about the source of the bites before launching into his consideration of the choices confronting him.

You can look it up in your Funk & Wagnalls.

mathgent 10:05 AM  

The gimmick is flawed as Rex clearly points out, but that didn’t spoil it for me. I liked it a lot.

Happy to see only six Terrible Threes in the grid.

Loved “It’s not C-worthy” for DPLUS. And it’s in sync with the theme.

Surprised that there are so many different understandings of HITANDRUN. Mine is a little different from the ones in the comments and the one in the clue.

I like the expression “It is what it is” in certain contexts. I think that it became popular and is often used where it doesn’t make sense. To me it means, “That’s the way things are. Stop whining about it.”

Burma Shave 10:13 AM  

From 5 weeks ago, yet it's today, in Syndie-land:


Make CHANGEs and some TIMEs ARE lost,
now one ADDSIN the UNITCOST;
CASH and BUCK and CENTS ARE funny,


Something (less appropriate) every day, slowly approaching 6 years.

Whatsername 10:21 AM  

Absolutely delightful! Definitely on the easy side but just what I needed as a distraction from the increasingly ridiculous goings-on in the world of politics.** Or maybe I should just stop listening to all the YENTAS discussing the ridiculous goings-on in the world of politics. Anyway, thank you Kristian, what a fun Thursday!

I have to agree that the SKYLARK answer seemed a little TSK worthy. I would have used one of my favorites - ODE AA LOUSE - by Robert Burns.

“Oh would some Power the Giftie give us

To see ourselves as others see us!”

** Those currently involved would be well advised to heed these words of wisdom.

Art 10:26 AM  

I believe a hit and run starts with the runner running at the crack of the bat. It is a risk because the batted ball might be a line drive and result in a double play. I’ve heard it called a run and hit when the start is a stolen base attempt

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

The pitch is thrown. Simultaneously, the runner takes off to steal and the batter tries to hit the ball. There's no such thing as a run and hit.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

Rex's math is wrong: AA does not equal 2A. A + A = 2A. If you imagine a plus sign between the doubled letters it is fine with the mathies.

linac800 10:38 AM  

In agreement with John H: since TO is always to the left of the duplicated letter, one could infer that the down answer in which TO was embedded simply utilized the letter to the right of the rebus to read correctly! Made a lot of sense to me and cost me a lot of time to disentangle and revert to pairs of identical letters to get the happy jingle. Ah well....

linac800 10:41 AM  

@TTrimble: Well said!

Malsdemare 10:42 AM  

I haven’t read the whole blog yet so maybe someone else had this problem. I treated the “TO” thing as a rebus and before you say that gives you gibberish for the downs, it doesn’t if you’re willing to torture the grid. It means that the TO points you TO the letter to the right to complete the down. However, the puzzle didn’t accept my clever approach. The only way I got the happy music was by a) reading Rex and b) changing the rebus TO to that duplicate letter. And I agree; that’s gives you nonsense.

And here I was so proud of myself that I GOT it! Yay, me! Well, no, Mare, you didn’t. Also I had BATANDRUN, which made perfect sense to me the non-baseball person and why not TASbA whoever?

J2P2’s been in the news lately. It’s horrible to realize that despite the warning from O’Connor, an honorable man, he chose to believe McCarrick, the accused, without any investigation. I’ve just started reading “A Thief in the Night” about the investigation into the death of Pope Paul V just 39 days after his election and that, on top of Daniel Silva’s excellent “The Order” (which explores the role of the Catholic Church in the persecution of the Jews; a sub-theme of the novel), has me even more disgusted with the Church that was part of my childhood.

So much evil in the world . . . .

My dog and I are doing a virtual read to the dog today with a couple of first-graders.I’m looking forward to something positive.

Newboy 10:43 AM  

Perfect Thursday puzzle in this camp. Thanks Kristian for making a grid that was tricky enough to amuse and delight without being so cryptic that it was mere mystery. When Mrs got the double U in TALK TO UU LATER, we were on our way trading names for sports references —just what AMIS around the world are doing during the lockdown for we of a mature vintage. A bit heavy on names, yes, but except for the adjacent 5 & 6 D reasonable for a later week puzzle. Now back to see how others respond

GILL I. 10:44 AM  

Oh good gravy....Now we're talking math and baseball's HIT AND RUN and RUN AND HIT.

Eldreth 10:50 AM  

can someone explain to me why “rare” is the answer to the clue “still mooing” - I just don’t get it.

What? 10:52 AM  

It starts with the runner trying to steal second. To cover, the second baseman or shortstop runs to second base, leaving a hole in the infield where the batter attempts to hit the ball. A thing of beauty when it works.

jberg 10:53 AM  

I’ve been playing early music for 30 years, and I’ve met a lutenist from time to time, but never seen the word stripped bare of its en. But maybe that’s just me. VISA is a stretch too, as it’s usually your passport that Gert’s stamped. OTOH, I’m old enough that both EYDIE and TANDY were gimmes—but I agree they might be tough for the youngsters.

I loved the theme, though! I had to get all the way down to Hamlet to really understand it, but then, wow.

I guess I’d better look up ITBANDS.

TTrimble 10:55 AM  

@Z and Anonymous 9:44AM
It's not the first time Rex has been observed dissing mathematicians: I've seen it a number of times in the short time I've been commenting here. (Along the lines of, e.g., "these mathematician types -- they expect you to know all the items in their little world".) I would say to Rex: it's not really a good or honorable look to maintain. I'm glad Rex respects the epidemiologists. But we mathematicians are part of this matrix of science after all (small example: knot theory, a branch of topology, has found recent application to the study of protein folding).

Based on my limited observations, it seems Rex rarely or never passes on an opportunity to say something pejorative about mathematicians, and so I figure he has some kind of animus. In the reverse direction, despite C.P. Snow and the two cultures, I don't think I've ever heard people in my circles rag on other people for studying literature or history. (Yes, I can hear people say I'm making too much of this. Maybe so, but these micro-aggressions do have a way of accumulating, and seen in the context of a widespread animus against math and science noted earlier, they are tiresome to me, and generally speaking they're not healthy.)

oisk17 10:56 AM  

Loved this one. And I don't share the view that "AASKYLARK" has to be "Two A's," not "two A." Didn't even occur to me. " Big D, little A double L A, Big D, little A double L a s..." (From "Most Happy Fella," I think...) It's not "double Ls." Yes, I know that the usage after "two" differs from the usage after "double," but that just did not bother me at all here. And as others suggested, many of the clues skewed "old," (not that I have ever heard of the group "Sublime," or the expression "Rando," -(a symphonic movement in a John Cage symphony??)). but I will be 75 tomorrow, so a little Eydie Gorme is welcome...

What? 10:56 AM  

How many started with NNTENDRE for 20A?

Giovanni 11:09 AM  

@sami I'm an avid cyclist too. I've been racing cyclocross since 2012. This year the Georgia Cyclocross Series was cancelled. There are some rando races here and there but I'm not going out near people. It concerns me that our large group rides here are still going on. There are around 30-40 riders attending these group rides,
same as pre-Covid. They party in the parking lot after. I know how cyclists blow snot rockets on each other so I'm not interested. I see the photos of these guys on Strava and I'm appalled. I'm only riding solo, so I have lost a lot of fitness. Nothing like trying not to get dropped. My IT band is fine. The rest of my body, not so much. I'm going to invest in electronic shifting because the arthritis in my fingers, that joint closest to the fingernails is horrid. They are all spurs and crooked and twisted. I have SRAM and the shifting is killing me.

oisk17 11:11 AM  

@What? NNTENDRE?? That is GREAT!!

pmdm 11:15 AM  

Seems to me Mike Sharp has been voicing his displeasure much more tactfully than in the past. I don't know if it is intentional, but I approve. Not that my judgment is correct.

Yes, the PPP at the top was a bummer. 'Nuff said.

I also was thrown when parsing the 17A entry. But since I had entered 61A first, it fell into place. The constructor said Mr. Shortz made him chanage some of the theme entries. If this was one of the substitutions, I would cry "Boo; hiss." If not, I would say it should have been.

A physical chemistry professor used to say many things are done "to keep the field from becoming overcrowded." He had many examples. One that sticks in my mind is the RMS value. First you square a set of numbers, then you take the mean, then you calculate the square root of the mean. Then why isn't it called the SMR value which would reflect the order of the calculations? Why, to keep the field from becoming overcrowded. (Does this playfully anser your question, Z.) The phrase "hit and run" has been discussed here with Monty Python exaggeration. I have heard the term "run and hit" used, but rarely, to express a play in which the runner tries to steal a base even though the "hit and run" sign was not on, and the batter gets a hit. Why the confusion. Well, to avoid overcrowding.

sixtyni yogini 11:16 AM  

Noticed the 2AS skylark also. Bothered me also.
But enjoyed this one’ s easy-hard quality. Haha ITIS what ITIS.

Ditch 11:17 AM  

a run and hit? no such thing. unless this is a berenstein/barenstein bears moment. did the red sox win the 86 world series in this reality???

Jesse 11:17 AM  

My biggest issue is cluing Sublime as a ska band. I'm no fan but they're definitely not a ska band. They were a pop band that had some punk and reggae influences but ska? Seriously?

David 11:23 AM  

The word is "lutenist." Sure, you can find "lutist" on google, that doesn't make it correct.

Way too many people for me today, and no clue why "2A" etc would throw folks. Really, even after reading all these fine explanations of why it's "wrong."

I can never remember if the latest magic berry is acai or acia, and "randos?" Reducing people to non-beings described by a cutesy diminutive really makes me cringe.

Played more like a Tuesday for me, even with all the people.

Neil 11:23 AM  

The sequence is run and hit. The baseball lingo is hit and run. Only Red Barber called it run and hit.

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

My ESP helped me today with MOAB, PLUGS AWAY and a few others, as well as the theme itself - have no idea how they came to me. I plugged away and got the other unknowns from crosses. So happy to get this on a Thursday! Since this just doesn't happen to me, I assume it must be an easier-than-usual puzzle. Love it! - newbie

eddy 11:38 AM  

Please, will somebody explain RARE as the answer for "still mooing"?
As Eldreth asked above. It must be obvious to all you other commenters and to Rex, who didn't even mention it. Combined with RANDOS, which was a complete mystery to me, it was the Natick that did in a long win streak for me.

eddy 11:41 AM  

OH! "Still mooing" like STEAK!!!

JC66 11:44 AM  

To me, on a hit and run, the batter has to swing. On a run and hit, he doesn't.

@Eldreth & @eddy

When a steak is cooked RARE, the cow's still mooing.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

@Z I am so happy to find another person bothered by "a" pronounced as a long-A instead of a short-A! No one else seems to notice and it drives me wild. First noticed it with news anchors and talking heads on TV, then traced it to Obama but later realized George W. was doing it before him. Why? Why? Why? Occasionally, I notice they slip into a short-A, especially when there are two As in a sentence. Another pet peeve is that the same people pronounce "the" as "thee" - which the good sisters taught us was only done when "the" occurs before a vowel. They seem to think it makes them sound more intelligent or something. It doesn't. Chuck Todd even says "ayenother" instead of another! Good grief! Enough of my crazy rant but it feels good to get that out - this must be how Rex feels every day! Have a great day. 😎 - newbie

What? 11:46 AM  

A stolen base comes into play if the batter swings and misses, a not uncommon situation. So the run towards second is played as an attempt at a steal.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

what? OFL didn't get exercised over The Pope finally being outed for protecting a molester? has no business being in the NYTXW!!

Masked and Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Cool theme mcguffin. I can sure see @RP's looong point about it, but shoot, it's a puzzle … it gets to make U puzzle all that stu2f out.
The M&A approach while solvequestin was to write in (on paper) them themers as: 2ASKYLARK, TALK2ULATER, etc. This made stuff like LI2M and L2TIST look a little wonky, but I personally reassured them that they was just usin one of the 2 vowels, so it was 1A-ok.

@Roo issues T2O stiff a challenge, on the RANDO-themer wannabes STA2F & T2OTED. E2DIE does look somewhat more do-clue-able, tho. H2OTED would be easier. E2DIE sounds kinda grim, so I'm gonna leave E be.

staff weeject pick, of only 6 candidates: TSK. Also known as: T0ASK. [0 = zero.]

Lotsa names in this puppy, some of which M&A actually sorta knew: MALALA. OMAR. EYDIE. EDDIE. ASTRO. TANDY. ABEL. SIRDUKE. LYNDON. MOAB, faintly.
And some I didn't know: LI2M. KAROL. TASHA. DEBS. Also don't recognize ITBANDS … sounds like musical groups made up of shlock movie critters.

Thanx for the f7Un, Mr. House.

Masked & Anonym007Us


kitshef 12:02 PM  

@Z9:16 -- or a balk, or a walk, or a passed ball, or a hit batsman, or a wild pitch, or a catcher interference. Probably missed a few. Someone call Elias and find out what percentage of hit-and-run plays result in a steal or a caught stealing. My over-under is 25%.

fuzzle47 12:02 PM  

The primary goal of a hit-and-run is to have the runner on first successfully reach – i.e., "run" to – third base on the play. In order for that to happen, the batter must successfully "hit" the ball through the hole in the defense created by the runner when he first sets out for second base. I mean, to be precise, one might actually call this play a run-hit-run. Whatever. There is a distinct "run" to third base after the "hit" in a successful hit and run!

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

So many names and so many PLURALS. I thought yesterday's was harder but my god were all the puzzles this week awful

Richardf8 12:09 PM  

Jai-Alai. The first piece of Crosswordese I learned. That was back in the Maleska era, and people thought that Jai-Alai would actually become a sport that people played. Now I think it’s JUST Crosswordese. But I will always have a certain affection for it.

yesgrrl 12:10 PM  

Happy birthday @oisk17 — I had a birthday this week, too. Four years ago, my birthday fell on Election Day and it was the worst one I ever had. This year, I literally danced in the streets with randos and cannot remember feeling more elated.

@TTrimble — us lit majors and editor types have joked about being bad at math and have dismissed those skills for way too long now. You’re right, that needs to stop and I will do my part toward that end. I not only Trimble in awe at your knowledge of whatever you were trying to describe up there (sorry) but that you can do that *and* the puzzle, which is way more than I could ever hope for myself. The truth is, we’re jealous. Thanks for what you do for all of us, moving civilization forward and literally saving all of us. Cheers UU!

Chip Hilton 12:14 PM  

Allow me to take part in the baseball frenzy!! HITANDRUN was the first thing I entered. But then I thought of scrub instead of ABORT and that got me thinking: Could runANDhit be needed (not that that would’ve worked with scrub)? I ended up returning to the correct fill and, as I did so, tried to imagine the scores of comments this topic would yield. I’ve not been disappointed. I’m with @Neil. Other than The Old Redhead, it’s always been called the hit and run and, when perfectly executed, is as lovely as a slick twin killing.

Not my favorite Thursday, but kinda cute and quite doable.

haari 12:14 PM  

I know I have commented on this issue before, though no one else seems to care. But INUIT is a plural in Inuktitut, and 21D asks for a “Native”, so that would be singular, which is INUK.

bocamp 12:14 PM  

My 2nd post of the day must not have passed muster, but did want to include these excerpts. :)

@Z 9:16 AM

Good point! one more thing learned today; avg. or av. it shall be. :)

@Frantic 9:21 AM wrote:

"...does anyone know or is anyone willing to look up what percentage of success this play has earned over the years? I would do the research myself but I am, after all, me."

Haha, you knew I'd bite, didn't you. As the following article points out, this subject is tough to qualify and quantify, but the author has a good go at it: Spinning Yarn: Hit-and-Run Success is No Accident.

Oops… forgot to imbed the URLs for these two songs in previous post:

Stevie Wonder "Sir Duke"

"Eydie" Gormé and Trio Los Panchos - Piel Canela, Sabor A Mi, Granada

Peace Śānti امن Paix ཞི་བདེ Pax שלום Pokój Saimaqatigiiniq 🕊

ghkozen 12:17 PM  

Eydie/Tandy cross was both a Natick (34 and never heard of either) and an abomination. What the what is Shortz possibly thinking? Does his continued execrable employment, by itself, disprove the myth of the meritocracy?

fiddleneck 12:28 PM  

:Eddy: A steak might be ordered RARE, but not bloody. If the cow is still mooing, the steak is too rare.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Well, old is a relative term. I originally had Jessica LANGE, then realized she's not *old* enough to have originated Blanche DuBois on Broadway, although she DID play the role in a 1992 revival. Fortunately, I am old enough to know Jessica TANDY, too, so that's two Jessicas, one dead, and one merely old. Loved how each surname is five letters long and shares the same second and third characters. Oh, and "It is what it is." Really? Have we not had enough?

Oldactor 12:34 PM  

@eddy: I once was in line at a buffet in TX watching a chef carve a beautiful rare roast beef. The cowboy ahead of me said, "I've seen steers hurt worse'n that and get well". Better than "Still mooing". IMO

jb129 12:41 PM  

I didn't enjoy this

jae 12:41 PM  

Easy-medium. Took a while to catch the theme but it went fairly quickly after that.

Liked it.

ChuckD 12:44 PM  

@pmdm and others so we can end this discussion. When I was playing college ball - we had distinct play calls for hit and run and run and hit. For each - the runner breaks on the pitch. The primary goal of a hit and run is to have the runner’s action move the infielders to open up additional holes for the batter with the ultimate goal of advancing the runner to 3b. If we got the hit and run sign and didn’t offer at the pitch there was a consequence - using getting pulled from the game. This is because the runner in many cases was a marginal base stealer and needed any protection the batter could give him. That’s why the safest hit and run counts are 2-0 and 2-1. The run and hit was a separate play call but always with a legitimate base stealer on 1b. We would typically get that sign on a 3 ball count and had the option to take the pitch for the walk or swing given the probability it was going to be a strike.

So they are in fact two different things and actually the puzzle clue allows for both as answers. Why they’ve called it hit and run over the years - I don’t know - @Zs take regarding the baseball vernacular is probably correct.

Michael Page 12:56 PM  

Except for the plague year, I attend roughly 50 baseball games a year. Hit and run and run and hit are two different plays. Period. Really. Both are things, and different things. In a hit and run, the runner starts with the pitch, only when the pitcher has committed to home, and the batter MUST swing (unless it’s a three ball count and a really easy take), and if he doesn’t, the runner is dead meat. On a run and hit, the runner commits to a steal, trying to get a jump on the pitch, and if the batter chooses not to swing, the runner still has a legitimate shot at a straight steal.

bocamp 1:03 PM  

No problem at all with the execution of the theme. Got it at "talk uu later". It may have initially come across as "two u's", but subconsciously switched over to "to you" without realizing it. In any event, it certainly didn't detract from the freshness and cleverness of the themers, either at the time, or in the post solve analysis. Nor, did Rex's erudite reasoning (correct as it may or may not be) change my take.

@ChuckD 7:01 AM

Same here re: "sere". However, seeing old-timey crosswordese, doesn't really bother me much. Provided there isn't a plethora of it, it takes me back to my early crossword days of the early '70s.

"Ankh" or "key" of life

Did have one write-over, contrary to what I said in a previous post: had ulnae before ulnas. It doesn't matter to me which plural constructors use out of necessity or preference. I usually leave the cell blank when in doubt, but not in this case; just plunked the "e" in out of habit, I guess.

Oyakodon used to be my favorite Japanese dish. Not the same as "udon" noodles, but in the "ball park". 😉

@ChuckD 12:44 PM

Backing up your take: "Hit and run" or run and hit: Reading the comments, this one really got me thinking; I've always known it as, "hit and run", and never gave the sequence or execution much thought. Apparently, there is such a thing as the "run and hit". I know there are situations where the batter has the choice to swing or not, but thought the terminology was always, "hit and run." Just one more great thing about the x-word; opens the mind to new ideas, interpretations and learning opportunities.

Peace Śānti امن Paix ཞི་བདེ Pax שלום Pokój Saimaqatigiiniq 🕊

Michael Page 1:09 PM  

Tomorrow, we'll move on to the common law origins of the infield fly rule (an actual, serious, and brilliant law review article from U. Penn in the 60s or so). For today, a mystery to which I have no answer: there is a rule that players and umpires are considered part of the field, so if a line drive strikes a player in fair territory and then bounces foul, it is a fair ball in play. So, for those who recall the classic home run that bounced off José Canseco's head and over the wall, https://youtu.be/QixQMUu4CKI, why wasn’t it a ground rule double instead of a home run?

Z 1:09 PM  

@TTrimble - I don't think I've ever heard people in my circles rag on other people for studying literature or history. This got a hearty guffaw from me. Let me assure you that math and science types can be every bit as condescending and obnoxious as Humanities types. In my experience the question of who is worse is wholly dependent on who lost the last funding fight - although even the winners sometimes have a hard time being gracious. I see the Erdos comment stuck. Rex has said similar things about 19th century literature, pop culture of a certain era, LOTR deep cuts,... basically anything that is niche. I'd argue that today's mini-rant is just one in a long theme of Rex rants. Indeed, the rants have spawned a whole genre of "Rex doesn't like the puzzle because he didn't know X" comments. I don't agree with those comments but they certainly can make a case for their point of view.

@Frantic Sloth - it's based more on observation than voting. My system of counting doesn't weight for obscurity or length, so Eno and AA SKYLARK count the same. I know this is a flaw that makes 30% effectively equal to 33% in terms of grid space sometimes. The other thing to remember is that there is a twin effect that usually happens, tons of outhouse comments combined with lots of "easiest puzzle ever" wheelhouse comments. It still seems to me that 33% is the excessive line where we get both the outhouse and the wheelhouse comments, but 30% is making an argument. For most puzzles the difference between 30% and 33% is only two more PPP answers. I also have a hard time with PPP themes, which can be lower than 30% put play like they are 40%.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

@Michael Page - Sounds like you use “run and hit” and “straight steal” interchangeably. If not what’s the difference?

Frantic Sloth 1:17 PM  

@TTrimble Your point is valid and understandable. It's not a little thing if it affects you personally and it's definitely not a little thing if it trickles into a world-wide disdain for knowledge. We've already seen that happen in this country - at least for decades now. But, if I might offer a cosmetic remedy for the nonce...I prefer to think of all of Rex's criticisms the same way Mrs. Sloth reacts to my occasional ranting: "Sounds like a personal problem." (This has an unnerving, yet illuminating effect on me and makes me shut up and think - not my usual M.O....in case that has escaped your notice.)This is not to say you should clam - it's about how Rex's dissing is more about the math than the mathematicians. He's not good at it, so "ugh" is his dismissal of defense. Unfortunately, many people react similarly when confronted with having to think about something new or difficult or just different. Is it a human character trait or does it spawn from something more insidious? Like an anti-education/knowledge zeitgeist? Maybe neither...or both, but I know which one to believe in order to make my life a little easier.
Obviously, just a suggestion I make in the interest of calming the waters. You can tell me to go jump in those waters, if you'd like. As our friend @bocamp says, peace.

@GILL In case you want the briefest respite from today's menu, you can take a tiny gander at my reply to you late last night. 😉

Kasi 1:23 PM  

Do themes like this always apply to horizontal entries only?
I was thrown off a bit when I filled in STAFF and thought that this violated the theme. But then I saw that EDDIE and MOSS were on the board too - so yeah, horizontal only.

I recall days though where the theme would apply universally even if it's by virtue of having none of the vertical entries satisfy the theme requirements.

Teedmn 1:23 PM  

I get Rex's complaint about the unspoken plural in the doubled letters. It didn't really bother me in 17A, 28A (where I figured the theme out) or 61A but for some reason, I kept mentally hearing "seas" when entering CC and nothing FLOATS OUT TO SEAS so I found that one instance very jarring. Why? Don't know.

I read "terrarium" in 3D's clue, thought "aquarium" and wrote in alga. It made a bit of a MOSS in the NW.

No idea why, but I noticed a few ON endings: ICON, BECKON, UDON. I don't usually see such things in grids - I must be missing @Lewis!

I'll agree that the clue for DERMAL is pretty nice. That D was my last entry into the grid.

Thanks, Kristian House.

Tom R 1:30 PM  

Disagree you found a flaw with 1A. Its not "two As as in AA" - in terms of the theme answer the second A takes the place of the A - it just happens to be the same letter. So it sounds out "To A" just like 45A where its not "Two Cs" its just Two C to sound out "to sea." Anyway, that's how I read it.

Frantic Sloth 1:32 PM  

@bocamp 1214pm Thanks for digging that up, but you don't actually expect me to read that, do you?? I'd appreciate either a synopsis or better yet, a cartoon.

@ChuckD 1244pm It's so cute how you think anything you (or frankly, anyone) can say will "end this discussion." Thanks - a good laugh is always appreciated! 😉
Still, would that were the actual end of this discussion....

@Michael sado-masochist Page 109pm Did you actually just expand this controversy??? 🤣🤣🤣

This all just too hilarious!

@Z 109pm So that's a no? 😘

okanaganer 1:36 PM  

Sometimes one wrong answer can really bog you down. I was so sure that they had to SCRUB the mission, which was confirmed by ORBS being sighted in a telescope.

For some reason, most of the icons are missing today. (Latest Firefox on Windows 10).

bocamp 1:42 PM  

@Michael Page 1:09 PM

Thx for the link; enjoyed seeing that again. As for the rule: MLB rules, 5.05(a)(9):

"Any fair fly ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over the fence into foul territory, in which case the batter shall be entitled to advance to second base; but if deflected into the stands or over the fence in fair territory, the batter shall be entitled to a home run. However, should such a fair fly be deflected at a point less than 250 feet from home plate, the batter shall be entitled to two bases only."

Peace Śānti امن Paix ཞི་བདེ Pax שלום Pokój Saimaqatigiiniq 🕊

Oscar, but not a grouch. 1:49 PM  

The whole baseball discussion is just crazy - they are both valid and correct, so there is no “right answer”. After about 15 people chiming in, the rest are just regurgitating opinions that have already been expressed. It’s personal preference, and for taste there is no argument. It’s funny to see how vested people get in something so trivial. Fortunately, it all seems quite hysterical to me - so at least I am getting some entertainment value from all of the hot air being disseminated.

bocamp 2:01 PM  

@Frantic 1:32 PM

Just like dogs and otters, baseball always attracts me. Here's your "cartoon". 😂

Peace Śānti امن Paix ཞི་བདེ Pax שלום Pokój Saimaqatigiiniq 🕊

Michael Page 2:25 PM  

Love the cartoon. And thanks for the rule, knew it was there, but never understood the logic. And the rule appears to contemplate a ball hitting a player less than 250 ft from home and yet clearing a fence in fair territory; tough to imagine that, not even Jose's head is that hard!

Anoa Bob 2:29 PM  

The most chilling quote that I ever heard from LYNDON Baines Johnson, and I can still see him in my mind's eye as he was saying it in a T.V. video clip---it may have been in a State of the Union Address---was "We will not be deterred by Communist aggression in Southeast Asia." [Said with a pronounced Texas drawl where "deterred" sounds like "dee turd"]. Wonder how that worked out?

Do RANDOS have IMPOLITE lapses in APSES? Don't we have enough "R AND ___"s in the vernacular already? With well-established, perfectly good words for this sort of thing such as "creep", "weirdo", "pig", "sleazeball", etc, etc., why another? Enough of these neologisms just for the sake of coming up with a novelty expression that will be unfamiliar to most folks. Enough I say! ¡Ya basta!

I dislike stuff like SERE (13D) as much as the next solver but I try to temper my appraisal by looking at the surrounding fill such "glue" supports. Here it isn't exactly scintillating but maybe that was the best option overall.

Let me say again that in my experience looking for the best fill possible, a point is reached where eliminating stuff like SERE means that other, possibly worse stuff will pop up elsewhere.

sanfranman59 2:42 PM  

As a 50+-year baseball fanatic, I can't resist engaging in some dead-horse beating ... The clue for HIT AND RUN {34D: Baseball strategy that starts with a stolen base attempt} is off-base (sorry). IMHO, the strategy is most clearly described in this discussion by ChuckD. The strategy is three-pronged: (a) decrease the likelihood of a double play, (b) open a hole in the defense for the batter to hit the ball through and (c) allow the base-runner(s) to move up an extra base if the batter reaches safely on a ball hit to the outfield. If the play results in either a stolen base or a caught-stealing, the strategy was foiled, because (a) the pitcher picks the runner off base before throwing home, (b) there's a pitch-out (i.e. the pitcher intentionally throws a ball out of the strike zone so the hitter can't make contact and the catcher can pretty easily throw out the baserunner), (c) the batter swings at and misses the pitch or (d) the batter misses the HIT AND RUN sign and doesn't swing.

Nancy 2:42 PM  

I'm posing a blog history question/quiz/contest that I hope dozens of you with excellent memories will want to enter. Alas, I won't be able to answer the question myself, not having anything resembling a memory, but I have high hopes for you all.

Name one or more [not terribly germane to the puzzle] subjects that became the object of a rabid, endless blog obsession on any given day -- in the manner of today's extraordinary hit-and-run/run-and-hit baseball discussion. To win, you must be able to provide a Rex Parker link to the puzzle in question -- showing that there were more comments* on that subject on that day than on this subject on this day. Also, to win the Grand First Prize, that subject must prove to be at least as pointless as today's baseball argument(s).

*Do remember, please, that it's a moving target. By the time you sniff out the competition, who knows how many more baseball posts there will be.

dadnoa 2:45 PM  

Amused that the first two comments today are baseball related. Rex is proud of us! And.....courtesy of the Eastern Baseball Academy..... https://secure.easternbaseballacademy.com/difference-between-hit-and-run

Jerry 3:08 PM  

What of 52A randos? I thought it might be "SO AND SOS" BUT ....

burtonkd 3:28 PM  

@sami and giovanni - nice to see some others in the Venn diagram overlap of xword puzzles and cycling. Covid has been a boon to my fitness as it has given me more time to do longer rides. Did mostly solo rides for a long time, then joined club rides that go out with 5 or so. I haven't heard of any clusters of cases, although I do instinctively shudder when I see large group still out there. The amount of wind that you encounter and naturally being at least 6 feet apart even when drafting seems to keep spreading from happening.
Go for it with the electronic shifting. My bike came with Shimano Di2 and it is so effortless.

Anonymous 3:41 PM  

Run, Forrest, Run! Hit, Forrest, Hit!

GILL I. 3:48 PM  

@Frantic....So Cohn & Cohan did some romping in the alleys of lust? Well dang, that got my attention......
@Nancy...I don't know how to search that sort of thing but I will tell you I was guilty of going on and on and on about Pinot Noir. We had a poster here who gave up on people telling him to shut up (before our sweet mods time)...I really liked him. ANYWAY....I think I was mentioning Napa Valley and red wines and such and he started posting about the differences in grapes. Several other chimed in. It went back and forth with several bloggers ad naseum. Our friend @evil Doug chimed in and so did LMS telling us (basically) to shut the effing up. My feelings were hurt; I did a little cry and promptly went to Bev More and ordered a case of Pinto Noir. Happy ending for moi. Baseball...on the other hand can...can take a flying leap into left field.
Thank you for asking...Do I win anything?

Anonymous 3:52 PM  


Almost perfect. But not quite. All the perils you mention--pitch outs, swings and misses etc are part of the cost of the hit and run strategy. But the idea that it removes the danger of the double play isn't quite right. It (largely) removes the danger of the most common kind of double play: the ground ball twin killing. But of course it does expose the batting team to another problem: the line drive double play. Obviously that danger is far less common, but still extant.

That is a quibble, obviously. Both you and Chuck D are quite correct. The run and hit and the hit and run are two distinct baseball maneuvers. As Z says so often, just google it. This isn't opinion. This is fact.

Here is some opinion for the many folks who seem to be baseball fans.

The team at the plate, that is, the team batting is playing defense.
And the team in the field, the team pitching, is on offense.

I can hear the rage now, echoing to every corner of the web. But consider a few things. First, the fielding team has control of the ball. That sounds like offense. Second, and really more important, is that the pitching team is amassing outs. If they get 27, before the other team, they win. Period. They're not defending against runs, they're hunting outs. That's why the sacrifice bunt (with a runner on first) is moronic, and been proven ( many times) to be a negative run producing strategy.

The team at bat is actually defending against outs. If they don't make an out, they win. Period. They don't have to ever hit the ball, they simply have to defend against making an out. Which again is why sac. bunts and stolen bases are a mug's game.

Oh, one more thing. The idea that teams lost ag game because it left so many runners on base is ludicrous. The more base runners you have, the more likely you are to score. Run down the box scores next season. After a few weeks you'll note that the winning team actually leaves more men on base than the losing team on average. That's because, despite what you've heard for a century plus, is that there is no such thing as clutch hitting.

I look forward to the vitriol, misunderstanding and flat out lunacy this is sure to provoke.

Frantic Sloth 3:57 PM  

Just in case any of you were anticipating a lull in the discussion, along comes @Nancy 242pm with a can of gasoline and a lit match. I'm dying here!! Guffaw!

Frantic Sloth 4:00 PM  

Oh, sorry @bocamp 201pm Thank you for the cartoons!! I gotta get outta here before I see a man about a horse in my pants!

Whatsername 4:07 PM  

@Nancy: I’d enter your contest because I really would like to win that Grand First Prize. But it would mean I first would have to go back and count the number of baseball comments on today’s blog, and the thought of that is simply exhausting. Plus as you say, who knows how many more posts there might be just by the time I got done counting the ones that are already there. I don’t doubt there actually was such a lengthy discussion of something equally mundane and meaningless at some point in time, but I think the chances of finding it are about as good as trump getting the election overturned. And if I did manage to find it and post it before they beat anyone else to the punch and getting it posted, @Z or some baseball/blog expert or an Anonymouse would more than likely point out some obscure inaccuracy that would disqualify me. So since I don’t know a hit and run from rock and roll anyway, I’ma have to pass. Good luck to everyone else though. 😄

TTrimble 4:44 PM  

Glad to have given you a chuckle -- excuse me, a hearty guffaw -- but I'm more careful than you give me credit for: I said *my* circles. People known to me personally. People I hang out with. You don't know who they are. Of course I am aware that a lot of science-oriented types are dismissive about literature, history, etc, regarding them as inferior pursuits. And a lot of them think they're better at say philosophy than the philosophers. But such people tend to be pretty boorish creatures, IMO, and I wouldn't seek their company. The ones I like hanging out with have pretty catholic interests, well beyond what they do professionally.

All of which is to say: thanks for your assurances. But I didn't actually need 'em. Funny you think I did.

@Frantic Sloth
Thanks. Of course you're right. It seems there's nothing quite like math to make people feel dumb, and I have the utmost compassion for them when they feel this way. Truth be told, dumbness is just the human condition and the mathematicians also feel it constantly, even in their own areas of expertise. The good ones learn to make their peace with it and continue learning in spite of it, or maybe because of it.

Hugo Kno 4:59 PM  

If you’d like to see another version of this constructing trick, see the July 20, 2000 puzzle

bocamp 5:01 PM  

Does America have a culture beyond baseball, mom, apple pie, and Chevrolet?

Peace Śānti امن Paix ཞི་བདེ Pax שלום Pokój Saimaqatigiiniq 🕊

Nancy 5:21 PM  

Alas, @GILL, you do not win anything, even though, as you know, I love you very much. You have not provided a link, you have not identified the puzzle in question, you have not provided us with a comparative head count. But since you have identified the discussion you have in mind as pertaining to red wine, in lieu of the Grand First Prize, I do have a small gift for you. A tip on the best $10 Cabernet (yes, I know you prefer Pinot Noir) I have ever tasted and that has just become my house wine. (I just had a case delivered at 3 p.m. today). Its Wellsley Farms, from CA (not spelled like the college) and it's smooth and rich and delicious.

@Whatsername -- I empathize. I'm lazy too. It's always more blessed to propose a research project for others than to have to carry it out yourself.

@Frantic -- Glad you had a good laugh.

pabloinnh 5:42 PM  

One thing I love about baseball is that it generates so many arguments, oops, I mean, discussions. Yeah, that's the ticket. It seems to me that men are way more passionate about this than women. So does the wise Dave Barry, who said:

If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there are men on base.

And that's today's comic relief, along with Jose Canseco, who as far as I know has never teamed up with Dave Barry before.

As you were.

Z 5:54 PM  

The @Nancy Challenge - The Margaret Court discussion. Last night’s odd Cohn Discussion (part of which apparently got deleted and - I agree with the mod - seems to have all started from a the misreading of a comment or two). The designer dog discussion. The spelling bee discussion and whether or not SBers should post here. And, oh yeah, that Erdös fight in August was almost ugly. That’s off the top of my head without checking and all from the recent past. The HIT AND RUN discussion is a piker compared to some tangential kerfuffles that have occurred here. I seem to recall a lively piker discussion once, even.

A Grimwade 5:59 PM  

Too many first names and/or last names.

Also, was anyone else bothered by TOOTED? If you follow the logic of this puzzle it would be parsed as TtoOTED.

Graham 6:06 PM  

Under 30 solver here. Rex is right.

Had “small ball” for 34D at first...which is right, but still wrong.

bocamp 6:16 PM  

@Z 5:54 PM

I even remember a guy called Bob "Kerfuffle". Not sure if he was "tangential", tho. 🤔


Peace Śānti امن Paix ཞི་བདེ Pax שלום Pokój Saimaqatigiiniq 🕊

kitshef 6:26 PM  

The wine discussion was December 15, 2016.

And here is LMS's contribution that day:
I recently had a 2008 Antica Terra Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills. Man, oh man - beautiful deep crimson and cranberry color. Pretty yet powerful impression on the nose with floral spices and flower garden sensations. But there was this wild berry, dark cherry bouquet with earth and forest elements. So good. AND the juicy berry flavors were really enhanced by leather, a kind of minerality and a tallow-like richness. The cool thing was that its overall balanced subtlety belied its richness, (which we all know is a real coup. For a moment I thought I was drinking a Gevrey-Chambertain!

You have to have read a fair amount of LMS to know why this is, as Gill says, telling everyone to shut up.

Giovanni 6:30 PM  

@burtonkd I've seen some studies showing how cyclists drafting they are actually sitting in their exhaled aerosols for several hours, which shoots straight back- was a Dutch study that showed group rides and drafting was a bad idea. Also they stop at stop lights etc and are closer then 6 feet. Then the before and after unmasked socialization. Im living with 2 high risk people so I can't take any chances. Anyway I heard the Di2 was great. Soon I'll get a new bike!

Charles Emerson Winchester III 6:35 PM  

Well said, TTrimble. Couldn’t agree more with your elegantly made point (although Rex’s apparent field of low-brow cultural phenomena hardly merits the label “academic”)

GILL I. 6:54 PM  

WOW....@kitshef....How did you do that? Yeah it was NCA Prez who was the wine pro. @Dorothy Briggs did a fine job as well. LOOK....even @Nancy got involved. I guess @evil wasn't around that day but I know he use to tell @NCA that he talked too much. THOSE WERE THE DAYS MY FRIEND.
Thanks for that fun day.......
Now do I get a prize....@Nancy?

Newboy 7:04 PM  

@Gill at 3:48 responding to @Nancy certainly deserves a modest Malbec for that reaction! I too mourn @Evil whose snark was often enough to make Rex seem a Pollyanna. Clearly I missed whatever has taken @LMS from the fold; her linguistic insights we’re almost as entertaining as were her daily avatar choices.

Coudal 7:54 PM  

Best daily of 2020. Thanks Kristian!

Georgia 9:33 PM  

A faux witty reply to the waiter's question "rare, medium or well done?" Means you want your beef super rare.

J 2:11 PM  

Not to be the music police here, but whatever music Sublime made was certainly not SKA.

Charles Young 8:13 PM  

A+A =2A. AA=A^2

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