Chubby mouse in Disney's Cinderella / WED 12-30-20 / Ocher-like hue / corridor Northeast transportation route / Alternative to Lowe's

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Constructor: Kate Hawkins

Relative difficulty: Easyish (untimed)


THEME: BILLY CLUB (66A: Nightstick ... or what might form if the beginnings of 14-, 20-, 37- and 58-Across started paying dues?) — first part of each theme answer is also the last name of a famous BILLY: 

Theme answers:
  • OCEAN VIEW (14A: It might cost extra at a beach resort)
  • CRYSTAL BALL (20A: Clairvoyant's accessory)
  • GRAHAM CRACKER (37A: Key lime pie crust ingredient)
  • PORTERHOUSE (58A: Cut above the rest?)
Word of the Day: Billy Porter (see final theme answer at 58A) —


Billy Porter
 (born September 21, 1969) is an American actor and singer. He attended the Musical Theater program at Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School's School of Drama, graduated from Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, and achieved fame performing on Broadway before starting a solo career as a singer and actor.

Porter won the 2013 Best Actor in a Musical for his role as Lola in Kinky Boots at the 67th Tony Awards. He credits the part for "cracking open" his feminine side to confront toxic masculinity. For the role, Porter also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical. In 2014 Porter won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album for Kinky Boots. He currently stars in the television series Pose for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won the 2019 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, becoming the first openly gay black man to be nominated and win in any lead acting category at the Primetime Emmys.

Porter is included in Time magazine 's 100 Most Influential People of 2020. (wikipedia)

• • •

Can't quibble with the core idea here. It works. Take a [blank] CLUB phrase, then make your themers' first words (or word parts) all types of [blank]. It's cookie-cutter, but cookie cutters make very neat shapes, so conceptually, this is fine. What made this puzzle completely off-putting for me was the revealer. I'll be blunt: I wring an enthusiastic "aha!" from an instrument of police brutality, especially not at the end of a year dominated by said brutality and the vocal, world-changing resistance thereto. I wouldn't want to see BILLY CLUB in any puzzle, in any position, and I especially don't want it posing for cute pictures in the revealer position. Themes are hard, so if you find one that works, I applaud you, but with some themes ... just because you can doesn't mean you should. 


My other substantial objection to the puzzle has nothing to do with the theme; it's the PINYON (?) / ESO crossing. That is a horrendous crossing. If you have never heard of the PINYON tree (raises hand) then that vowel in ESO is a complete and utter guess. Hell, even if you *have* heard of the PINYON tree, there's a reasonable chance that you're not certain how to spell it. The only way I guessed "O" correctly there was by "knowing" (erroneously, it turns out) that PINYAN was already a thing—the romanization system for Chinese. Turns out that's PINYIN, but whatever, I made the right choice, which is what counts, and yet ... that is not how anyone should have to make a choice on the final letter. 23A: That: Sp. can be ESO or ESA, so the cross for that last letter has to be crystal (!) clear and undeniable. I submit that the last vowel in a regional tree, in this case, is not clear and undeniable. I mean, if you tried to analogize from other trees that end -Y-blank-N, you probably *would* have gone with the "A," since the BANYAN tree exists (and is the national tree of India, in fact). All the editor had to do here is clue ESO in a way where grammatical gender was a given (I've never prayed for "ESO Beso" before, but Oh, Lord Anka, hear my plea!). But no. We get ambigu-clue. :/


Not a lot else to say here. The fill seems fine. I forgot that MAISIE was the title character in those detective novels, but I'm happy to be reminded. They're very popular (24A: ___ Dobbs, title detective in Jacqueline Winspear books). I don't think AFTRA is particularly great fill (9A: SAG-___ (media labor union)). If you wanna clue SAG as a union, that's fine, any time: the SAG Awards make that particular acronym well known and thus fair game. But AFTRA is just the butt-end of a hyphenated name. Not great stand-alone material. It sounds like an off-brand aftershave. Oh my god, "Afta"  ... "after" ... is AFTA aftershave an aural pun? Wow, I just got that. Sorry I have no similar revelations about ATRA or AFLAC at this time. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. just found out AFTA makes something called a "pre-shave" lotion, and now I don't know what to think

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

147 comments:

Loren Muse Smith 6:32 AM  

Perfect reveal. BILLY PORTER was new for me, and I naticked at the soon-to-be-massively-maligned ESO/PINYON cross, but I’m not all upset and stuff. Funny how few famous BILLYs there are. I get that my avatar doesn’t follow the pattern, but I’m just messin’ witcha.

The clue for ARTLESS threw me. I guess you can make a “clumsy” statement to people - suggest they eat cake, say – so I get it. [Yeah, yeah, maybe Marie never told’em to eat brioche, but still.]

Ok. I recently thumbed my nose at all the fancy interior designers and bought me a RECLINER. I don’t care that it’s considered in poor taste, tacky. It’s a helluva chair and even has a massage/heat dealie. I. Love. It.

I recently lost my MSN email account and switched to Gmail. What a disaster. Hate it hate it hate it. My new emails show up way at the bottom of the inbox and then if someone replies to one of those, things get all stacked and lost, and I just despise even trying to check my email.

Hard not to notice KGB crossing the Twitter BIRD. The Orange Horror tweeted last night that he (realizing that he’ll be a pariah pretty much anywhere) is considering moving to “NORwegia.” Just kidding, But. . . the fact that this is actually believable is beyond So Sad.

Man oh man, someone suddenly reciting PSALM 23 will flat wake you up. Can you imagine being half asleep on a transatlantic flight and hearing the pilot come on the loud-speaker intoning, The Lord is my shepherd. . . Oops.

I love the INDIGO Girls’ “Closer to Fine.” There’s a line that always gets me: Darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable; lightness has a call that’s hard to hear. I wish I heard that lightness call more, even though it’s probably screaming at me as I frown into my half-empty glass. Sigh.

Back to PINYON – there’s also a pinion, the outermost flying feather on a bird wing. A raven has 17 pinion feathers, but a crow has only 16. So finally we have the answer: the difference between a raven and a crow is just a matter of a pinion. (Can’t take credit; saw it on a meme.)

Lewis 6:34 AM  

Some random observations:
• FORAGE and BAUBLE are such lovely words. They beautify this puzzle!
• OCEAN VIEW is one terrific answer, and it’s a NYY debut.
• Had Billy Carter for a bit, which made me think of Billy Beer, and, for a moment, shot me right back into the ‘70s. I love when I get transported to how it felt to be at an earlier time.
• Learned PINYON, and that pinyon pines are the source of pine nuts, which I adore, and now I’m hungering for some pesto.
• ARTLESS – Is this what Paul became after his breakup with Garfunkle?

Thus this offering brought smiles, for which I’m extremely grateful. Thank you, Kate!

smalltowndoc 6:44 AM  

Didn’t have an issue with the PINYON/ESO cross since it takes less than a second to change an incorrect "a" for the correct "O" and get the confirmation in the NYTXW App.

Speaking of app, why the awkward abbreviation clues for APPS and NOR, when there are obvious good alternative clues that don’t require said abbreviations for answers (yes, I realize my preferred choice of APPS is also an abbreviation, but, c’mon, literally no one refers to them as "application software").

Anonymous 6:50 AM  

The tree is called a piñon, not a pinyon.

Anonymous 7:00 AM  

You're thinking of Jackie Gleason after his split with Carney.

Joaquin 7:14 AM  

If you’re going to complain about the brutality inflicted by BILLYCLUBs, why no outrage over all the AMORAL KGB HITMEN?

Words do have power, but context matters. And this is a crossword puzzle fercrissakes, not a call to arms.

kitshef 7:19 AM  

What made this puzzle for me was not the theme, which was OK, but some of the mid-lenght stuff. FORAGE, ICARUS, ARTLESS, BAUBLE, GRENOBLE ... even the way HARBOR was clued.

My initial guess was right on both CORER/paRER and AVERS/AVowS, which ought to happen 25% of the time but it sure feels like less.

ESa/ESe/ESO ... I was pretty sure the tree was PINYON, but there was a whisper of doubt there.

Are there a lot of AMORAL PSALMs?

SouthsideJohnny 7:34 AM  

A tale of two puzzles for me today - the entire south, which was nice and breezy, and actually quite enjoyable to solve.

The north, however was just a mess. Never heard of the PINYON tree and I don’t speak Spanish, so the O in that cross was a sinkhole. Similarly, I never heard of MAISIE - and btw, DUNS may be one of the five worst entries of 2020 - talk about Trivia. And while piling it on with trivia - the AFTRA/ACELA cross is a typical NYT black hole. You know there are two answers there but have no information other than crosses upon which to pretty much take a wild stab at it. I do frequently try to slog my way through each and every cross, however today that whole concept lost its luster since that entire NE section was just a vast wasteland that only an extremely enthusiastic crossword enthusiast (or a masochist) could learn to love.

Thus, not an atypical solving experience for me - I enjoyed the wordplay and more standard type clues and answers, - the “either you know it or you don’t“ type trivia and esoterica like DUNS - not so much.

KRMunson 7:37 AM  

Anybody else think this puz was too easy for a Wednesday?

ChuckD 7:39 AM  

Elegant theme idea - but not great execution and I thought the overall fill was off. Revealer was spot on but - know Billy OCEAN as an 80s one hit wonder, won’t comment on Billy GRAHAM and have never heard of Billy PORTER. That’s a tough way to push your theme. Side eye to the ARTLESS clue - don’t like it. I know PINYON as Piñon. Bad gluey stuff - ESO, RAH, OSE etc. Backed into MAISIE.

Did like GRENOBLE - as it reminds me of the great Killy.

This was a quick solve. If you are going to buy into clumsy - it was truly ARTLESS.

Joaquin 7:41 AM  

AFTRA - The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists - was a stand-alone union until 2012 when they merged with SAG. Sorta like the AFL-CIO, of which SAG-AFTRA is a part.

Hungry Mother 7:50 AM  

Nice to have a BILLY puzzle. We used to have three of them in out family until Covid cut one down. Quick solve, about 40% of usual time.

pabloinnh 7:55 AM  

The only PINYON I know is the Spanish kind with a tilde and an accent on the O, but the English equivalent was obvious (see also, "canyon"). MAISIE was new and I remember the color of my crayon as "burnt" SIENNA, but otherwise this was a smooth fill in with some nice stuff. Had no idea where the theme was going until the dreaded BILLYCLUB (eek!) showed up which bothered me not at all.

No BILLY Bruton. Funny how I can name the starting lineup for the '57 Milwaukee Braves but am currently looking for two pairs of glasses, among other things I have lost or forgotten. Also no BILLY Budd. I'm sure there are others.

Very nice Wednesday, KH. Well done you.

mmorgan 7:56 AM  

Never heard of Billy Ocean or Billy Porter but the puzzle was fine.

GILL I. 8:24 AM  

Well I don't know....this had a little scent of some doom and gloom. I started with gloomy GUS and got to SWAT. I thought of ARTLESS and wondered why it meant clumsy? I looked at SORE and NONO and thought of Putin and the KGB HIT MEN. I wandered around and thought about ICARUS and how he flew too near to the sun causing his wax wings to melt and plunge into the sea and die. Do TEENS get an ULCER? Using a BILLY CLUB might be AMORAL? Especially using it on your head?
Can someone please explain DUNS for demand for payment....Only one per person, please.
PINYON needs a tilde if you're going to get all Spanish. The nuts from the trees are pretty good. That's about all.

Mike Herlihy 8:32 AM  

@Joaquin - Amen!

erika 8:35 AM  

From the constructor, on Xwordinfo: “That being said, words, even when twisted to find new meanings, aren't neutral. I probably wouldn't write this same puzzle today: I'm not sure whether the delight of being able to feature Mr. Ocean and Mr. Porter in the grid outweighs the fact that the revealer makes light of a weapon that has been used to cause great harm.

I'll be donating the payment I receive for this puzzle to The Bail Project.“

Moxer 8:38 AM  

As a former “Billy,” I enjoyed this puzzle, but — sadly — I was stumped on the southwest tree even though I took Spanish in high school and knew both eso and esa. Otherwise, pretty easy for a Wednesday.

derek_knitter 8:44 AM  

Thank you - this was my quibble as well!

TTrimble 8:48 AM  

@ChuckD
Billy Ocean had a number of chart-topping hits. Wikipedia (which someone yesterday called "the wiki", as if it's the only one) has the goods.

I liked the puzzle fine (and finished in well-below average time), but agree with Rex about the annoyingly tricky PINYON-ESO cross. There's also DUNS Scotus, whence the term "dunce cap", although DUNS was no dummy. Nice try, Protestants.

RAW SIENNA: is that a Crayola color? Have to admit: I haven't heard of it.

Frayed Knot 8:50 AM  

I love the word artless and its meaning. It also reminds me of the opposite as in the Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist.

Virtual Rando 8:54 AM  

I have lived my life until now blissfully ignorant of Billy Porter.
An awful lot of boys sure get a kick out of playing dress-up.

Bubbabythebay 9:02 AM  

I'm calling Natick on AFTRA/ACELA. I only got it because I guessed there was a good chance first word in the _FTRA acronym was Association or America. No idea on ACELA

Smith 9:04 AM  

Easy, more Mon time. Only write over: COREl before CORER. There was (is?) Corel draw but idk if it was an apple product.

CDilly52 9:10 AM  

@LMS-AMEN to gmail. It is about the only “convenient” source for me personally but it takes way too much time to try to manage. I’ve taken to urging friends just to text me or for heaven’s sake call me like in the “olden days!”

Newboy 9:13 AM  

Piñon o PINYON? There’s the rub! A double dose of second language confusion for us monolingual ‘Mericans.

My Chinese born rheumatologist speaks five languages I discovered during yesterday’s appointment and I flail at Duolingo Spanish. Ethnocentrism lives—even in Crossworld.

I’m with “Words do have power, but context matters. And this is a crossword puzzle fercrissakes, not a call to arms.” @Joaquin is indeed a wise soul.

Probably too easy for a Wednesday Kate, but I can accept small favors as 2020 drags its sorry ass toward the exit. Thanks for an excuse to keep me warm before I reach for the snowblower.

Andrea 9:14 AM  

I stared at PINYION crossing APPS and ESO for the longest time and couldn’t see it at all. In the end I just guessed right, but that is never satisfying.
Alternate spellings for not using the beautiful letter EÑE, to me make the word become something else altogether.
A Piñón is a tree from where we use their tiny nuts (called piñones) in different delicacies, such as moles (pipián, nogada) in México and the ubiquitous pesto in Italy.

TJS 9:14 AM  

Is it too much to ask of our resident PHD of English to write a coherent sentence ? "I'll be blunt: I wring an enthusiastic "aha!" from an instrument of police brutality, especially not at the end of a year...". What ??

Liked the puzzle, decent challenge for a Wednesday.

"It's cookie-cutter, but cookie-cutters make very neat shapes, so conceptually, this is fine." Geez Loueeze.

pmdm 9:18 AM  

I would agree with those who found the puzzle easier than normal for a Wednesday. In no way should that be taken as a complaint.

Since I am not up on tree names, I would agree with those who complain about the Spanish word and the tree name crossing. Kind of unfair if you don't know the name of the tree.

It must be hard enough to construct a crossword puzzle without having to worry that all the entries are politically correct when applied to every single person. Given how many people have died, should VIRUS be banned? Should every single thing that killed people be banned? I guess there is a line that should not be crossed. Would BILLY CLUB fall into that category? I guess I would give it a borderline pass. It's a lot different than a CHOKE HOLD which I would not give a pass.

bocamp 9:28 AM  

@Kate, thanks for the effort, but alas, no kudos for this puzzle. :(

Just too much violence and negativity in this one, and IMO, cluing needed editing at the "eso" / "pinyon" cross.

I went with the "a" for "eso" because of the "banyan" tree", so dnf on an otherwise very easy, but hugely disappointing Wed. puz.

The takeaway for me is the 23rd "Psalm" and the message that it sends in relation to all the bad vibes this puzzle emitted.

"Psalm" 23, The Lord is my Shepherd - Ingrid DuMosch


Peace 🕊

Badria 9:29 AM  

Thank you for addressing police militarization and brutality. The inability to safely protest in this nation is a critical and frankly terrifying issue.

Nancy 9:33 AM  

So here's what almost happened. I write heavily in pen and my letters are big and the "R" of RAW SIENNA covered up the "7" of 17A, making 17A sort of looked like 14A, and so I was coming here to say:

Who the hell is BILLY RAW???

I never noticed OCEAN as a themer because I'm not quite sure who BILLY OCEAN is. Nor am I sure who BILLY PORTER is, either, though there must be 17,000 of them in the Manhattan phone book alone. Not exactly an uncommon name. I did know BILLY CRYSTAL and BILLY GRAHAM, so when I got to the revealer, I had half an "AHA". And, as the old adage goes, half an AHA is better than none.

A pleasant enough puzzle that I solved as a themeless -- with not a clue as to what the theme would turn out to be. It contained my favorite blue, INDIGO, my favorite steak, PORTERHOUSE, and a nice clue for BARB. So what's not to like?

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Kudos to the constructor for acknowledging the BILLY CLUB issue and making that donation.
I enjoyed this puzzle. My nit to pick, you don't make key lime pie crust with one graham cracker, you make it with the plural, graham crackers.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

@Gill. There is a neat thing called Google where you can look stuff up. Google.com

DevoutAtheist 9:43 AM  

@ChuckD. I'll comment on Billy GRAHAM. Like all the high profile preachers he was just a con man exploiting people's belief in superstition, which is what all religion is.

Birchbark 9:47 AM  

Four BILLYs = Judge Smails's putter in "Caddyshack."

I'm going to go plow the driveway after another healthy snow last night. A friend, former boss, past mentor of sorts is making the drive out, and we're going to walk in the woods this morning. We were talking on the phone Monday, first time in a year or so, and now this.

Q. What is a hue like ochre? A. RAW SIENNA. This is the true revealer today.

Mr. Cheese 9:49 AM  

“BILLYCLUB” is a word (2words?) and this is a crossWORD puzzle.
Get off your high horse Rex!

Save your phony rants for things that matter.... oh, I don’t know ..... maybe Mitch McConnell.

Nancy 9:54 AM  

@Loren and @CDilly -- I have a Yahoo email account that I love and a Gmail account that I absolutely can't master. And don't use. My composer/collaborator set up the Gmail account because music files weren't going through on Yahoo and he was sure they would on Gmail. And they do. As do some photos and videos that also don't go through on Yahoo. But with those exceptions, I never use Gmail. Almost no one even knows that I have this account.

I can't find anything. I can't figure out where the reply button is. I don't know what any of the icons mean. Received emails and sent emails are smooshed together in one big smoosh. It's the most user-unfriendly, unintuitive abomination that could possibly be created.

Switch to Yahoo! Don't worry your pretty little heads about it, just do it! Just say to yourselves: "If Nancy can master it, anyone can master it!" Actually, there's pretty much nothing to master.

I was terrified that when the Google woman took over the reins at Yahoo, she'd switch Yahoo to the Gmail format. Thank God she hasn't!!! Whew!!! A narrow escape.

Make this switch, and the two of you will be sending cards and maybe even presents to me on holidays for years to come. I promise you'll be so much happier!

Keith D 9:55 AM  

I don’t understand this at all. A billy club is an important tool for police. So we can’t even use the word anymore? Cancel culture at its finest.

JD 9:57 AM  

Pinyon, the Nyala of Wednesday. For Crayola fans, I found this:

"Often one pigment is heated to create the other so the lighter neutral orange Raw Sienna becomes the richer, darker Burnt Sienna when heated. Equally, the cool brown Raw Umber becomes the rich deep brown Burnt Umber, but all these pigments are PBr7."

A nice Wednesday with flashbacks to coloring books and Graham Crackers. Til I was whacked in the head with the Billy Club. @Gill, I was oblivious to the other stuff ... 2020 impervious to bad new, woo!

But here's the real issue. Why the stupid clue (again) for App? What's the point? Go with the obvious. Does App precede the MaCou, itself being before Des? Is it that that they think us geezers don't know what an App is (I Mold)? Is App shaping up to be the Spa of '21? Sigh again.

(@Z, @Frantic, Typed calmly so it's not a rant.)

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

My brain keeps trying to work CLUB into the latter half of the theme answers as well, but it doesn't quite work. I wonder if this was part of the original intent, but was later abandoned?

BALL CLUB
CLUB CRACKER
CLUB HOUSE

VIEW?

burtonkd 9:58 AM  

@LMS - I sympathize with you on the frustrations of being forced to use a new email system, but the problem you describe is entirely fixable. New emails always come to the top on Gmail for me, so it is just a setting preference. I find it much easier to use than my old hotmail account and the search function is unparalleled to help you find and organize emails. I was going crazy having to use hotmail for certain things, but dug around for a while and got it to do what I needed. PS - the pinion joke is one of the few I ever remember, I thought I heard it from you.

ACELA/AFTRA may be a Natick in that they are both proper acronyms. Yet, Acela is the only high speed rail in the USofA, greatest country on earth. SAG-AFTRA awards make this a memorable, pronounceable acronym. Rex, they are separate unions that have joined together, like AFL-CIO. Seems fair game.

Hands up for Pinyon/ESO, but I blame myself for not thinking of the pine nut pinon (with a tilde).

Carola 10:01 AM  

I was thinking, "Cute idea for a theme!", and then I read @Rex's take. @erika 8:35, thanks for letting us know about the constructor's VIEW.

Anyway, I enjoyed solving this one, even though I knew only 50% of the BILLYs (CRYSTAL and GRAHAM). I agree with @kitshef 7:19 about the grid's pleasures. Also am with those who previously knew only "pinon" with a tilde. And was delighted to encounter MAISIE Dobbs.

CDilly52 10:02 AM  

Perhaps I am in the extreme minority of readers here familiar with the height desert in the 4 Corners area, especially in Nee Mexico’s quarter. One cannot possibly spend time there without learning about the ancient and endangered PIñ_ON (piñon) tree. It is home to at least one small sparrow-sized bird the name of which escapes me at the moment. They are such cheerful little workhorses and make mornings in the high desert so pleasant with their song and their flitting from place to place. Anyway, while I do loathe the use of words in crosswords that omit the enya Inwould much rather see “pinon” than an absolute (in my humble opinion) misspelling.

As for the archaic BILLY CLUB, now not even called a night stick (which was silly and not descriptive) but a baton in most places, I didn’t find it offensive, just out of date. Overall though the theme worked, just not for my coffee-less early morning brain.

Finished the entire puzzle in half. Irma Wednesday time was rewarded with the happy music and then sat for a good couple of minutes trying ti make sense of the theme. Because the little analytical guy back in the archives above my ears wasn’t up yet, all my brain without his help could do is out BILLY after rather than before the first word which is - obviously meaningless! So, gave a snort of frustration and said to self, “Go check Rex,” and while Google was warming up, BILLY CRYSTAL, one of my all time favorite comics popped into my consciousness and bingo! Sheesh.

Love homage to my favorite Cinderella mouse GUS-gus, and have a nit to pick about truncating his name. But perhaps only those of us who were youngsters and saw the movie on the big screen and then produced progeny obsessed with Disney’s princesses and fairy tales (as was my daughter) who wore out a Betamax version videotape of the Disney Cinderella and Snow White, wore a VHS version nearly to ruin and insisted on owning the DVDs for her own kids who, having seen or heard the movies played repeatedly for years might actually know and care that the chubby, gravelly-voiced mouse was named GUS-Gus. But the delight at seeing a favorite character recognized in the puzzle made me happy regardless of the error. Overall a fun Wednesday with very little about which to complain. But I complained anyway. Must
be the dreary rain-sleet that threatens yet another ice storm here in Jokelahoma. Sick of the weather (and other things) in this place.

Peter P 10:05 AM  

For the DUNS folks: I've come across it several times (both written and in casual conversation) in the word "dunning" as a "dunning letter." I was able to infer DUN from there. I didn't find that particular clue that esoteric, especially for a Wednesday. The ACELA/AFTRA cross, though, was annoying. It was a breezy Wednesday -- not my fastest by a good bit, but faster than my Tuesday average. That said, the easiness made the fill a bit unentertaining.I want a little bit more chew on my Wednesday.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

@Nancy - you seem like a lovely person, but not exactly tech-literate, so should probably steer clear of advice on these topics. The reply button on gmail is the arrow on the top left OR the giant button on the bottom left that says REPLY. You're welcome. I don't really need to defend gmail, but the millions of people that switched to gmail from yahoo, msn, and aol 15 years ago can't all be wrong.

Eldreth 10:09 AM  

Rex - the fact that you don’t know something is only horrifying to you - get over yourself.

MissScarlet 10:11 AM  

If you live in LA, you know AFTRA.

Jim Lemire 10:15 AM  

A couple of questions...

1) 30A - DUNS ...can anyone explain? The clue is “Demands for payment”

2) 21D - AMORAL ...I feel like the correct answer to the clue, “Lacking scruples, say”, should be immoral. No? AMORAL to me implies that a particular person/concept/event is not subject to a moral judgement. For example, that bird at my feeder outside is an amoral creature. It doesn’t lack scruples. Scruples don’t apply here. Or am
I overthinking this?

Andrew Heinegg 10:16 AM  

I will say something sort of nice about Billy Graham. He was much better person than his son Franklin turned out to be. You know Franklin, right? He's the man of towering integrity that is currently insisting that God wants the U.S. Election overturned and another term given to Trump. I only wonder whether Franklin speaks to God on a party line with Mike Pence. Inquiring minds want to know.

N.V. Peale 10:19 AM  

Another Rex Parker critique where pretty much all he does is tell what is wrong with the puzzle and what annoys him. Such skewed criticism isn't really legitimate criticism at all.

Anyone who reads him regularly can pretty much spout out a long list of all the things that make for a bad puzzle.

It is far far less often that you hear much at all about things in a puzzle that make it good.

But its his blog, so he can do what he wants.

RooMonster 10:19 AM  

Hey Al !
Couple things to start with which might piss people off, but...
ALL Lives Matter!!
There are some good Police out there. We need the police. Period. All these "Defund the Police" people, if they were robbed or attacked, guess who they'd call? Just sayin'.

That politicalness aside (I hate letting political stuff into my posts, but occasionally, I have to speak how I feel!), did like this puz. A "Billy Club" ala a CLUB for BILLYs, shouldn't have triggered anything. It's a play on words. Let it go.

Dang, Stop this Politics stuff, Roo!

In place of BILLY PORTER, could have been BILLY MARTIN. This is the NYT, no? How about a BILLY Yankees manager? This BILLY PORTER is just another 10 second star who no one will remember after 2021.

How I know ESO is That in Spanish. For some unknown reason, as y'all know my ole brain doesn't like retaining anything, I remember that THAT is ESO and THIS is ETO because the S and T are switched. It seems like THAT should be ETO and THIS should be ESO, but that's not it. The S and T are switched. So now you know for future reference!

One writeover I can think of, dESist-RESCUE. Biggest Huh? was DUNS. "Demands for payment". Really wanted DUeS there, but that N was solid. Someone explain DUNS, please?

Sorry about the negative feel of mt post. I will be posting my final "Thankful" post shortly, hopefully it's more positive. :-)

Four F's
RooMonster
DarrinV

GILL I. 10:21 AM  

@Anony 9:35. I did. When I don't know something, I look it up. Here's what I found for DUNS: Nine digit identifier for businesses. Now please tell me how that fits in with the clue: Demand for payment...????

I don't care about politically correct in a puzzle. I don't tippy toe or tip toe through tulips, but words do conjure up images. I'm glad Kate Hawkins is donating to the Bail Project.... I'm donating to Shrines.

jae 10:23 AM  

Easy. Fun off the wall theme. I had no clue what was going on during the solve. No WOEs and no erasures, more like an easy-medium Tuesday.

Liked it.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

@CDilly52: I just watched the movie the other day on Disney+. When Cinderella names him, she calls him Octavius, which she somehow shortens to Gus.

Although the mouse is often referred to as Gus-Gus because of a vocal affection of the other mouse characters that randomly repeat words while speaking, his name was just Gus, and the credits in IMDb refer to the character as Gus.

Gus was voiced by the same man who gave Mickey Mouse his voice for so many years: James MacDonald.

Blue Ghost's Beard 10:29 AM  

I enjoy the way Rex sets the tone with his daily pontifications and then the virtue-signaling starts to percolate up through the comments as well. It's almost like a mini-competition to establish who is the most woke amongst us. I generally don't participate (It strikes me as an unproductive expenditure of energy - similar to 60+ posts opining on the frequency of use of the term Cali). Billy Club is offensive - oh my? It's no more lethal than a pistol, or a revolver - are they banned ? How about a rifle (or Bruce Lee's hands)- banished forever by the thought-police ?

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Definition from looking it up with Google. The second definition listed states:

verb: make persistent demands on (someone), especially for payment of a debt.
noun (archaic) : a debt collector or an insistent creditor; a demand for payment

Origin: Dunkirk -> Dunkirk privateer -> dun (early 17th century)

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

is "few" actually an adjective as used in the marine ads... or ever? If someone handed me a list of words and told me to circle all the adjectives or they'd cut off my pinkie I'd lose a pinkie if the word "few" was on there.

RooMonster 10:36 AM  

And now, the Final
"Things we're thankful for"

For staying safe and healthy and making it (somehow) through another Year. Say Goodbye to 2020 (thank All Dieties!) and Hello to the promise of a New Year! (Hopefully during the course of which this Pandemic will stop.) Be nice to each other, treat others as you yourself would want to be treated. Smile, laugh, enjoy! Try not to take life so Dang serious!

And Thanks to Everyone here for all the enjoyable posts, and for putting up with my (often) inanity. ☺️

Have an Awesome 2021!

RooMonster

GILL I. 10:38 AM  

Make that Shriners Hospital. By the way....I have Gmail and I have absolutely no problemo with it. I don't know why @Loren, @CDilly or @Nancy have a reply problem or emails showing up at the bottom of the inbox. Maybe Larry Page liked a painting I sent him. Now if only he would find a way to fix my MacBook Air so that I can type without someone correcting me EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

could do without BILLYPORTER his claim to fame seems to be he is flamboyantly out of the closet and likes to play dress up. Agree Billy Martin would have been a better choice.

tkincher 10:39 AM  

I think BILLY CLUB by itself is a bit innocuous. Personally, I associate it more with Marvel's Daredevil more than policemen. We see some form of TASER or TASE in crosswords regularly, and that's a weapon that's far more specifically associated with police brutality.

JBH 10:40 AM  

I did. Thought most of the fill was stuff we’ve all seen before. (Knew about pinyon trees.)

Nancy 10:41 AM  

@Anon (10:07) -- But that's the whole point: that I may be the most tech-illiterate person who ever lived. And yet I can use Yahoo's email with no difficulty at all.

My brother, SIL and niece all use Gmail. They have no problems with it. They all think it's quite wonderful. But they are also all highly tech-literate.

Gmail evidently isn't working for @Loren and @CDilly. Yahoo could make their lives much easier and much more pleasant. So they should listen not to you, O' tech-proficient Anon 10:07, but to me -- the person my brother has described as "my Luddite sister". I'm exactly the person they should listen to!

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

if you go to the wiki, and search for 'the wiki', here's what you get:
"Wikipedia, a wiki encyclopedia sometimes referred to as "wiki" "

so, self-referential acknowledged.

DUN(S) is the root meaning, and means exactly what the clue says.

Smith 10:45 AM  

Another thought, not that it matters. It's definitely the *northeast* corridor, not the Acela corridor, but easy enough to figure out. Like I've been on a train lately... and was so looking forward to my reduced price senior fare! I'll be able to get to my son in BK for $5.50, train and subway total. Maybe next year.

Charo 10:46 AM  

@anonymous 6:50 am: In English the word is spelled pinyon. There is no ñ in English.

Nancy 10:47 AM  

DUN means "to demand payment from". See the 3rd entry HERE (under "as a Verb").

mathgent 10:51 AM  

I'd like to learn more about how dyes for fabrics are produced. Today I learned that the dye called sienna was originally taken from the soil at Siena, the Rennaisance city-state. In its natural state, it's raw sienna. When it's heated it changes color and becomes burnt sienna. In Hawaii, they sell tees dyed using local soil.

Pleasant puzzle.

Whatsername 10:58 AM  

A good Wednesday that I enjoyed from start to finish. The punny theme was a bit on the corny side but that’s no great offense. I did wonder about the clue for 57A. Seems to me “The FEW” in the Marine Corps ad is a noun used as a synonym for Marine, not an adjective modifying Marine. But either way it’s pretty easy to figure out the answer.

I’ve learned not to RELY on the promise of an on-line photo when booking a room with an OCEAN VIEW. And not to FLIP OUT when it ends up being nothing more than a glimpse of water between the palm trees waving to and FRO.

President OBAMA is a man with a lot to say. His White HOUSE memoir is a whopping 768 pages weighing in at 2.44 pounds ... and that’s just the first volume. Here’s one of his more memorable quotes: “I would never fully rid myself of the sense of reverence I felt whenever I walked into the Oval Office, the feeling that I had entered not an office, but a sanctum of democracy.”

A President with a reverence and respect for democracy. What a NICE concept.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

IIRC, before the world was made better through chemistry, dyes were derived from plant matter. some still are, if you look far enough. I suspect that the majority these days, by production quantity, are synthetic soups.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

Whatsername,
I dunno. Mr. Obama sure signed an awful lot of executive orders which were designed specifically to skirt congress. Those orders are de facto laws and its not the Prez's job to make laws. Obama has a lot of respect for himself.
A lot of the people who make up the democracy in this country he holds in contempt. You know all those rotten folks who cling to religion and guns.
Give me the bald buffoonery of Trump over the slick and unctuousness of Obama any day.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

it's called the Acela Corridor just because that's the only place in the USofA that has some form of high-speed train service. in typical USofA fashion, an existing infrastructure was exploited to do something it has no real capacity to handle: rail lines through crowded cities, with tight curves, sidings every 50 feet, and co-mingled with crawling freight traffic. kind of like using the internet to 'stream' your porn.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Anonymous said...
The tree is called a piñon, not a pinyon
That’s akin to saying the country that borders Portugal is España not Spain. Support your local police.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

@Whatsername:

not to worry, Pence will execute the putsch on 6 January. a double Epiphany.

JC66 11:31 AM  

@Anon 10:35

The FEW, the proud, the Marines.

Masked and Anonymous 11:32 AM  

This was kinda hard to get goin on, at our house -- especially in that upper puzgrid part. I mostly blame ICARUS, PINYON, and MAISIE.

Too bad there ain't some well-known themer answers that could start with CRUDUP.
That BILLYCLUB revealer was a bit unfortunate, brutality-wise, I'd hafta grant. Maybe somethin like SUPPERCLUB woulda been less controversial, as the mcguffin. Definitely like the -CLUB theme motif idea, tho.

staff weeject pick: OSE. Which @RP will surely be pleased to hear is ESO, backwards. Sooo … better OSE clue: {.pS: tahT ??}.

TREASURE, RECLINER, BAUBLE. FORBID. INDIGO. PSALM. FLIPOUT. HARBOR. FORAGE. yep.
UNBALANCE. nope.

Thanx for introducin us to yer BILLYCLUB, Ms. Hawkins darlin. It only hurts, when I look at MAISIE or PINYON.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


**gruntz**

GHarris 11:32 AM  

Thought there were many more worthy (and gettable) Billys than a couple of those used in the puzzle. How about the following:
Billy Dee Williams
Billy Martin
Billy (sic) Holiday
Billy Bean
Billy the Kid
Billy Goat Gruff
Cherry pie- baking Billy Boy
Billy Doo sp?

GILL I. 11:53 AM  

Thanks, @Nancy. I now know what DUNS means; I will promptly forget it and will never use it when someone owes me money. I will nwo go take my shower and sing some punkabilly.

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) has more EOs, by term, by year, and first year than the Kenyan President by a country mile. also more time on golf courses, esp. his own which your tax dollars are funnelled into. (I know, never end a sentence a preposition with.)

gpm 11:58 AM  

It's also called a cañon, not a canyon, and yet...

I'd bet a lot of money that the official consensus (if there is one) is that both spellings are acceptable.

Another Anon 12:18 PM  

Eeeeewwww!

Nancy from Chicago 12:25 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith: I miss Outlook too, but one way to make Gmail a bit easier to work with is to turn off "Conversation View" (that's the feature that clumps all your emails on the same topic together). Go to Settings (the little gear symbol at the top right), click on All Settings, scroll down about a page, and under "Conversation View" click on "Conversation view off."

Nancy 12:26 PM  

Agree with “Anonymous. I lived in New Mexico for a short time and the Piñon tree was new and delightful discovery for me- the smell of Piñon tree logs on a fire is a heavenly scent!

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

anon 11:55
So what? The question--prompted by whatsername''=s post was whether Obama had a healthy respect for democracy.

I say he didn't as proof i pointed to his large number of executive orders. and his is a big number. 276 in his 8 years. Compare that to 118 for W. Bush in his 8 years or Clinton's 164 in his 8 years. Mr. Trump's number--204--is a non starter. Sure, he's signed plenty of EOs but his 52 per year isn't outlandishly more than Obama's 32 per year. And no one, no one in the press uttered a peep about Obama employing a patently anti-democratic tool. executive orders are used by tyrants who cant get the law they want passed legally by Congress as our democracy demands, and instead circumvent the legislature for their own ends. That's tyrannical. If you like, I'll stipulate that Trump is anti democratic but only if you concede that Obama is too. and for the same reason.
And I stand by my preference. Trump is a clown but Obama is an elitist. I'll take the clown over the guy who sniffs at more than half the country.

Ethan Taliesin 12:46 PM  

Thought it was "piñon" tree. That's what I always heard growing up in the southwest anyway. Te nuts are a bit pricier than I would imagine but sooo good.

I love pesto and was unaware there were so many different pines that produce the nuts-- though I should have figured.

Mr. Cheese 12:48 PM  

Anonymous - Winston Churchill once rebuked a snooty grammar corrector by saying,
“ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.

Large Reverend 12:50 PM  

What’s the big deal about executive orders, I ask somewhat naively? It’s the law of the land and a tool granted to the president by the congress. If Congress had job responsibilities in addition to just pretty much permanently running for election, we might not need to be governed by, nor would federal agencies need to be instructed via presidential edict. Don’t understand what all of the complaining is about.

Richard 12:59 PM  

Gotta take exception to PINYON (as many have already). Just as there's no crying in baseball, there's no Y in piñon. And it's "ñ" not "n." Next thing you know the answer to "Tijuana baby" will be NINYO.

The piñon is my state tree (so I'm the expert, right?). When I was a kid our dad would take us out to "pick" piñons. Actually, we didn't pick them; we'd lay a tarp around the trunk and then shake the tree so the piñons would fall out. Then we'd gather them up and roast them in the oven. Shelling the piñon was an art (kind of like sunflower seeds, but much more difficult): you'd pop the tiny nut in your mouth and gently crack it, then prise out the meat with your fingernails. I never mastered the technique of shelling the piñon completely in my mouth and spitting out the shell. Needless to say, this labor-intensive method produced but a tiny reward, one to be savored. I'd extract one nut and chew it - s l o w l y; my sister would crack several, say ten, and then gobble down the bunch. Nowadays, you can go to Costco and get a whole big bag - they call 'em "pine nuts" - from China already shelled. A bit of a disappointment IMO -- not having to work for the treat. I still have this image in my head (one I just can't shake) of this huge factory in Wuhan or somewhere with thousands of Chinese workers shelling piñons with their teeth. Somehow they just don't taste the same as when we had to work our asses off for a miniscule morsel.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

I think Hillary used a term that may apply to those sharing your point of view.

Barbara S. 1:05 PM  

Hi You Beautiful People,

That "BARB", front and center in this puzzle, felt like a summons so I've popped back to wish you all a Happy New Year one day early.

The comments section of this blog is a TREASURE, with FEW AMORAL HITMEN or ARTLESS DWEEBS. There's the odd ICARUS who might serve to UNBALANCE us and the occasional CRACKER who might FLIP OUT. But mostly it's a NICE HARBOR on a CRYSTAL OCEAN, a sight for SORE EYES, a BAUBLE, a PSALM, a RESCUE on which one can RELY. Always good readin' even when one isn't writin'. Thanks to you, Rex Parker, our host.

Cheers, my dears.

jberg 1:06 PM  

we use a lot of pine nuts in our household. They're essential for making pesto genovese, and excellent in salads; plus my former brother-in-law married a Navajo woman, lived on the reservation for years, and taught us all how to harvest them from the pinyon trees--so that helped a lot.

I got CRYSTAL and GRAHAM, and knew we were looking at a BILLY theme. I half expected a revealer from Waltzing Matilda, where the swagman by the billabong waits while his billy boils -- but the actual revealer is more apt, if also more jarring. Once I knew what we were looking for, I did notice Billy OCEAN. Never heard of Billy PORTER, but it was a surname so I figured he must exist. I'm kind of embarrasses, apparently he's quite famous. He is 3/4 of the way to EGOT.

Back when it was warm enough to eat outside, I've been to more than one restaurant that had an APPS section, so labeled, on its menu -- so I think the word is a coming thing. Probably a back formation from the phone apps.

All you folks who have never been dunned must have really great credit ratings!

I've ridden the ACELA several times, but the route it follows is called the Northeast Corridor. It was called that before there was an Acela, and is still called that today. Since it's hard to get money for public transit here in the US, the Acela does not have its own dedicated tracks. They did have to straighten out some of the curves, but they share the tracks with slower trains, and the Acela can attain its top speed only in a few small segments.

To me ARTLESS means the same thing as guileless--honest, straightforward. Not clumsy, as clued.

tea73 1:07 PM  

@KRMunson I think this was my second fastest ever. I don't really race the clock, but the fill just filled itself.

No problem with PINYON even if it's not really the correct spelling. Lived in LA in the 80s and did a lot of desert traveling back then.

I'd heard of all the BILLY's, but that didn't actually help my solve, just with the AHA moment.

pabloinnh 1:14 PM  

@Roo-Gentle reminder--it's ESTO and ESO, otherwise your mnemonic works fine. (These are the neutral forms, there are masculine and feminine plurals for both, which is why those of us who know these too have to wait for crosses.)

Thankful for your thankfulness.

Abrazos,

pablo

Blackhat 1:21 PM  

I am absolutely giddy over all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over ESO....so it's an obscure spelling of a Spanish word and everyone cries foul and Natick? I personally deal with this for EVERY puzzle that has any foreign words. Welcome to the club folks. If foreign words are allowed I say make them as obscure as possible so even the vaulted (in his own head) Rex can't figure them out. Then maybe everyone would complain and editors would remove such nonsense from all X-words.
Let's face it.....the reason most of you like simple foreign words and othernPPP in the puzzle is because they are stone-cold locks for you and allow you to sidestep the other traps laid by the constructor (nothing like a stone-cold lock to sniff out a rebus or other 'trick').
If all foreign words and other PPP were obscure and unknown at least it would level the playing field.
(If you doubt this.....watch any of the videos of Rex solving.. if/when he gets locked up he immediately uses a PPP solve to get back on track. I bet you do too).

Happy New Year Everyone.....let's hope 2021 is better than 2020.

Whatsername 1:26 PM  

Regarding the email debate, I agree with @Nancy that Yahoo! is much easier to manage than Gmail. I have both but seldom use the Gmail account if I can avoid it.

@Andrew (10:16) I completely agree about Franklin GRAHAM. The apple fell a long way from the tree there.

@Roo: Occasional political eruptions happen. Sometimes the cup runneth over. And amen to your thankful post.

I won’t bore the commentariat by perpetuating a debate but since I seem to have triggered one, I will just offer documented statistics on number of executive orders signed by each president:

Trump in 4 years = 203
Obama in 8 years = 276.
Bush in 8 years = 291
Clinton in 8 years = 364
Bush in 4 years = 166

Source for those figures is Wikipedia.




JD 1:26 PM  

@Nancy from Chicago, Thank You!!! @Ms. Amuse Smith, et al, let me count the ways I HATE gmail. This is the solution.

Unknown 1:32 PM  

@ Nancy Gmail is very easy to master once you get the hang of it. And it has some nice features.

Re: the pinyon pine, anybody who has spent time in the southwest or the 4 corners region of our country, and has paid attention to the local flora, would know that the pinyon pine is the ubiquitous evergreen of that region. When people burn it for heat, it has a distinctive, evocative aroma.

I liked BILLYCLUB as a theme, and can only think that rex gets triggered way too easily. I'm not one to use the term "snowflake," but I now see where it comes from.

Diane Joan 1:34 PM  

My brother lives in Texas and I have seen "pinyon" also spelled pinion in correspondence from there. Personally I prefer the spelling with the tilde. I originally put in "pinion" which threw me for a nanosecond but the crosses were easy and so pinyon it was.

old timer 1:35 PM  

I am in the too easy camp. Didn't know PINYON but certainly know PIñON. We have them in CALI too.

You know, the BILLY CLUB is the symbol, maybe the avatar, of good policing that doesn't kill people. To this day, most police in Britain do not carry guns. They carry BILLY CLUBs, because they have to have some weapon to enforce order and resist physical attacks on them, and of course they wear those hats that provide some protection against other people carrying sticks or clubs. You will never de-fund the police entirely, but it would be nice if it took a special order from the Chief for them to carry firearms.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

@12:35
I'll take the clown over the guy who sniffs at more than half the country.

see, now the problem is that the Clown does only what's in his short term interest, well except that the only way he stays out of prison is by staying in the White House, not in the interests of the 99%. anyone who really, truly believes that the Clown has the best interest of the working stiffs at heart needs to seek professional help.

The Kenyan President faced the same problem that Sleepy Joe will in a few weeks: the Red state idiots still believe that demagogues like the Clown are on their side, when the historical fact is that Snowflake Democrats have been the force for betterment of the working stiff since FDR. these same idiots continue to infect the country with Covid because they assert the right to do so as 'personal freedom'. some people are just too stupid and self-absorbed for words.

some people really are smarter than the rest of us and have the brains to make better decisions. would you have your neighborhood handyman fix your ruptured gall bladder, or a board certified surgeon? The Kenyan President, on the whole, sought to make life better for all of us, not just the 1%. the fact that Red state voters keep electing those who seek to treat voters like cattle, is why The Kenyan President resorted to EOs. stupid people tend to vote for Clowns who reflect their most deep seated prejudice(s). that's not a way to run a successful democracy. or even a republic. that's how you run a minority supporting dictatorship. the demand for a Pence putsch is just the most recent example.

"52 per year isn't outlandishly more than Obama's 32 per year"

my arithmetic says that 20/32 is 57% more. I'd say that's outlandish.

go to the wiki (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_federal_executive_orders) and sort on per year. you'll see that the top offenders are, except FDR for obvious reasons, republicans: of the top 23 (FDR to The Kenyan President) 14 are republican.

TTrimble 1:49 PM  

Yay! Welcome back, @Barbara S.! A sight for SORE EYES indeed!

albatross shell 1:51 PM  

@anon1112am
Sometime you should go read the context of the Obama quote on clinging to Guns and their religion. It was not insulting and you might say it was the precise analysis that Trump based his campaign on. Gingrich to Trump have been sniffing and more at the half of the country they despise. Cowards terrorists traitors communists murders baby-killers anti-american. You here a despicable and clinging to guns and religion and you run around with crocodile tears about how much it hurts. Wah wah.

A 1:52 PM  

Happy Sixth Geese-a-laying Day!

I enjoyed the puzzle, enjoyed Rex’s writeup (though for me BILLYCLUB brought to mind Keystone cops), super enjoyed @LMS - so much so that my spouse was looking askance at my guffaws and grumbles. Rex's "pre-shave" confusion gave me chuckle too.

AFTRA went right in, but I’m in the biz. Lots of fellow musicians and entertainers are in bad shape right now. If you’re looking for a worthy cause, look no farther than your local symphony or theater. Please. But only if they are, like my major employer, still at least trying to pay their performers. You New Yorkers could check out the MET Orchestra Musicians . Or Save NYC Musicians which helps a variety of out of work performers, like Broadway musicians. Many more options out there could be found by contacting SAG-AFTRA or the AFM (American Federation of Musicians).

Guess I needed a lift bc BAUBLE made me smile. The OCEANVIEW was pleasant too, and if I had a CRYSTALBALL I’d use it to hunt for TREASURE so I could save all the poor musicians (then buy a PORTERHOUSE to savor while watching the waves).

Things went quickly but I did have to skip a bit. Working my way back NW, I saw my choice of rEcEnT for top emails would not work when the mouse was GUn. Now, that’s an example of an unacceptable entry. Come to think of it, whilst I sure don’t want to be on either end of a BILLYCLUB, it does harken back to the days when police weren’t issued guns. @Lewis, I don’t actually remember that time but it is nice to imagine.

Huh, according to this British police history site as of 2005, [only] around seven per cent of officers in London are trained in the use of firearms. And they give a history of why, some of which strongly relates to current times.

Got lucky with the PINYON/ESO cross. And, I, for one, was thankful for the clue for APPS being about food instead of tech! So there.

Peace,
Mimi

Doc John 1:59 PM  

Ah, Rex, always butthurt about something.
Conversely, what butthurt me was that MAISIE was not clued in the context of the wonderful actor Maisie Williams, portrayer of my fave (and frankly the most kick-ass) character, Arya, in GoT.

Whatsername 2:32 PM  

@Barbara S (1:05) So good to see you here again!! And believe it or not, I thought of you when I saw that entry this morning. Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

I couldn’t help but notice the absence of @Z the last few days. Hopefully all is well and he’s just on a holiday hiatus.

Graham 2:43 PM  

My quibble is with 57A: in “The few, the proud, the Marines,” ‘few’ is a noun, not an adjective.

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

Thank you. Lived in AZ many winters. Pinyon-kept thinking why is that Not right?

Anonymous 2:59 PM  

Billy porter claiming to fight toxic masculinity doesn't pass the breakfast test.

Nigel Pottle 3:01 PM  

One of the things I find quite irritating about many of the people who post here is their statement that they’ve never heard of a particular word or that the word shouldn’t be there because hey “Billy Ocean” was a one hit wonder, so why include him. Really just because you’ve never heard of it doesn’t mean you get to bitch about the puzzle. Rex with Pinyon is an example. It’s a tree, it exists, and lots of people know the word. I had no idea what ACELA was but I don’t feel I need to complain because I didn’t. This is what makes a crossword puzzle - I can wiggle out the answer with crosses, and add to my store of words. And Billy Porter is not a one-hit wonder (as one person suggested. That person also sed the abhorrent phrase “All lives matter” to defend BILLYCLUB. I’m guessing that person is anti-gay as well as pro-police. And dun is a fine word, it’s not used much these days but when the credit card people dun you for your non-payment you’ll get how the word seems right. Oh also the person who explained the ESO using the example ETO as meaning “this”. It’s not ETO it’s ESTO/A just like ESO/A.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

Here's the quote?

How in the world is this not insulting?

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years, and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate, and they have not.

"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or antitrade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

pmdm 3:15 PM  

Seems that somehow EOs [Executive Orders] have reader there heads in the comments here, even there they are a bit off topic. But let me try to clarify in an unpartisan manner.

Bush I signed an EO that mandated unions and management in the Federal Government resolve issues in partnership mode. Bush II signed an EO undoing the first EO. So I would say it's not how many EOs were signed that is important, but how many substantive EOs were signed.

Congressed authorized various agencies (OSHA and EPA are two) to issue regulations that have the force of law (although, as with OSHA's Ergonomics regulation, Congress can rescind what an agency might promulgate. Congress recognizes that there simply would not be enough time to pass every law through the two houses of Confress. Hence, Congress recognized the EOs do serve a needed function in this country.

If Congress refuses to do its job (such as voting on Supreme Court nominees), the President has no option sometimes to enact laws through EOs when it would be preferable if the EO passed though Congress as a law.

It's easy to hide behind and/or misuse statistics when you are trying to prove your point. And an EO or law is not bad based on a subjective partisan's judgment. So if you want to discuss things like EOs, please try to discuss specific ones. But please, not here.

Rocco’s delight 3:42 PM  

Haha - @pmdm writes a five paragraph essay on executive orders and finishes by insisting that people don’t discuss it here. There is a lot of hypocrisy here - not dissimilar to the general population at large (note that it begins right at the top with OFL). We definitely could do better, but it wouldn’t be as interesting without people telling each other what topics can’t be discussed while they are in the process of discussing them at length.

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

rather than take the time to concoct my own verbiage:
"executive orders are subject to judicial review and may be overturned if the orders lack support by statute or the Constitution."
the wiki

IOW, EOs must implement the law and are not an end-around Congress. it's easy enough to challenge an EO in court, and if it's found in violation, it disappears. don't forget that the Clown has spent his 4 years reversing many Kenyan President's EOs.

here's ( https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/climate/trump-environment-rollbacks-list.html ) just the environmental tally. I haven't the time to search for the grand total. I'll bet it's bigly.

Graham 4:06 PM  

Few is usually an adjective, yes. In the Marine ads, it’s a noun. Most grammarians would call it “an adjective acting as a noun,” like in “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

pmdm 4:22 PM  

Rocco: You would seem to have inadequate reading skills. I did not insist on anything. I made a suggestion and said please. Complain if you like about how long my comment turned out. But please don't inaccurately claim I insist on something I merely would prefer to be the case.

RooMonster 5:28 PM  

@Nigle Pottle 3:01
Hello. I didn't use All Lives Matter as a defense against BILLY CLUBs. I pointed out there are good police out there. I just think it shouldn't trigger a defense mechanism. However, I respect others'opinions, so I'll retract that. I used All Lives Matter, because there are other people who get abused by the police. We still need the police, however.

And I'm perfectly fine if you are gay/LGBTQA. I know it's not a choice, you are innately born with it.

And thanks for pointing out my bonehead ETO. Spanish (as you can see), is not my forte. ☺️ @pabloinnh beat you to it. So a head slap for me!

RooMonster Just Trying To Set Things Straight Guy

Rocco’s delight 5:43 PM  

@pmdm - Wow, another one here who relishes in giving advice but buckles when they are called out on it. Most bullies (and hypocrites are similar in my opinion - notice the PC qualification there - I’m a quick study). No doubt in my mind that you have all of the characteristics of a Trump supporter and/or one of those conservative right wing nuts who cannot contain the unasked for and unwanted decrees spewing out of their cake-hole.

Anoa Bob 6:22 PM  

If you want the best car for a ROAD RACE, make sure it has rack and PINYON steering.

In May, 1970, BILLY GRAHAM held a 10-day crusade in the University of Tennessee football stadium. I had already wandered away from the flock so I had no interest in attending until I heard that President Richard Nixon would join Reverend GRAHAM on May 28. This was during the height of anti-Vietnam war protests and the word was that there would be some fireworks when Nixon showed up. So I went.

Sure enough, when Nixon came to the podium to speak, a great chorus went up from the crowd "One, two, three, four, we don't want your fucking war". This was repeated over and over with each repetition seemingly louder than the previous one. Nixon was drowned out and was unable to complete his speech. Then the police, many of whom were carrying BILLY CLUBs, came to break up the protests and all hell broke loose. Fun times.

Unknown 6:22 PM  

How do all the Billies relate to paying dues? Don't get it.

Caitlin J. 6:24 PM  

So...Rachel Dolezal pretending to be black is a problem. Hilaria Baldwin pretending to be Spanish is a problem. But grown men pretending to be female and destroying women in physical sports competitions is “stunning and brave”. Makes sense to me. #2020 LOL

Eniale 6:31 PM  

@jberg: 100% agreement on connotations of ARTLESS!

And everyone, wouldn't it be great if people who don't know the meaning of a word would go to a dictionary before cluttering up the blog with repetitive questions saying they don't know this word!

and *SB* alert:



Yesterday I made QB for the second time in 6 months and it made my day.

Anonymous 6:46 PM  

I can't believe we have to do this on 12/30/2020, but here we go:

Roo, say you just sat down to Thanksgiving and everyone gets a plate of food but you. You might respond by saying "I should get a fair share!" The host replies, "Everyone should get a fair share!" He not only ignored the problem, but he purposely belittled your point. You didn't mean "ONLY I should get a fair share," you clearly meant, "I should get a fair share TOO."

The phrase "Black Lives Matter" has an implicit "TOO" at the end: it's saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying "all lives matter" is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It's a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means "only black lives matter," when that is obviously not the case. And so saying "all lives matter" as a direct response to "Black Lives Matter" is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem.

Unknown 6:57 PM  

Loved your crow/raven pun. First time I've laughed in weeks

GILL I. 7:01 PM  

OH DEAR LORD.....Save me from this.......
Hey @Barbara S...don't be a stranger. We need @Pamela back as well as @Suzie Q and some @Quasi fun.
Kumbaya my lord...kumbaya.

Anonymous 7:17 PM  

@Anoa:
This was during the height of anti-Vietnam war protests and the word was that there would be some fireworks when Nixon showed up. So I went.

could have been worse. you could have been in Chicago (I seem to remember a song that mentioned it) or Kent State (ditto).

Unknown 7:38 PM  

Regarding the ESO/ESA issue: Actually it's even worse. ESE is also Spanish for "that". In fact, that's the correct word when saying "that kiss", not ESO as Rex thinks. "Ese beso", not "eso beso".

TTrimble 7:41 PM  

---[SB Alert]---

Congratulations, Eniale! I also got QB yesterday.

Hope you are well, Barbara S. We've missed having you and Pamela around.

---[End of Alert]---

I think it's okay to admit not knowing a word. That's just being honest about the particular difficulties a person had solving the puzzle. But yes: I agree with looking up words after you're done.

Thanks to @LMS for "a pinion" -- even if she can't take credit.











(So much judging, so much projection, so much name-calling to be found in today's commentary.)

JC66 8:01 PM  

@Unknown 7:38

Blame Paul Anka.

RooMonster 8:09 PM  

@Anon 6:46
Ah, thanks for the explanation. And thanks for explaining it like I'm a five year old! 😁 Cause the ole brain sure seems like it is sometimes.

Roo

Hanedawg 8:17 PM  

Loved this puzzle as I have a good friend named Billy. And a club where you have to be named Billy to join, just struck me as funny. Would he be more well known I would have clued “Nostalgic candy bar wrapped in red with bold blue letters and consisting of a crispy peanut butter core and coated in milk chocolate.... 8 letters. Begins with a “C”...

Anonymous 8:36 PM  

Caitlin J,
Why do hate? 🙄

Anonymous 8:55 PM  

Anon6:46,
You’ve made the most embarrassing mistake in logic. I feel bad for you. Re-examine your post. You’ve asserted that an implicit statement is contradicted by a fact. That is faulty.
There are arguments to be made for the Black Lives Matter. Yours is not one of them.

Ernonymous 10:04 PM  

@anonymous 8:55
Huh? What? Why? How? Describe in no less than 600 words your point. You need a project. No one cares but it will keep you busy.

sanfranman59 12:13 AM  

This was one of those rare days when I enjoyed doing the puzzle and even reading Rex's review more than reading the message board. What a slog that was! Here's hoping tomorrow's comments are more directly related to the puzzle. Happy New Year all ... and good riddance 2020.

albatross shell 12:51 AM  

I do not understand the ARTLESS hatred here for, not politics, but the word ARTLESS, meaning clumsy.
Did anyone use a dictionary? Clumsy is used in M-W. But the following is typical:


art•less ärt′lĭs►
adj. Having or displaying no guile or deceit; honest or sincere: synonym: naive.
adj. Free of artificiality; natural.
adj. Lacking art, knowledge, or skill; uncultured and ignorant.

So people's general understanding of the word is correct. But being clumsy is not contradicted by any of the definitions. Clumsy can be honest sincere yet inartful by lack of skill or knowledge, or too much naivety . A clumsy speech, a clumsy attempt to win votes. ARTLESS works just fine. See the final definition.

Does anyone remember the last time Z took a vacation?

Anonymous 1:16 AM  


Hate to reveal my ignorance, but please what is the "QB" in your comments. Though Google and other searches can't get past football quarterback, I suspect that's not what you're discussing.

linac800 5:59 AM  

QB is short for Queen Bee, which is the designation given for finding all allowable words in the daily Spelling Bee puzzle.

JBH 8:21 AM  

Doesn’t mean it wasn’t a nice puzzle.

jgkramerdc 1:19 PM  

Didn't anyone care that Illya Kuryakin, though Russian, worked for U.N.C.L.E., NOT the KGB (Which, btw, was not even an entity in that show...the enemy organization was T.H.R.U.S.H.)!

thefogman 9:48 AM  

The four corners form FAST, which describes my solving experience. The theme was ARTLESS. Not sure it was AMORAL. Nothing to FLIPOUT over,, even if it grinds Rex’s GEARS.

spacecraft 11:29 AM  

First thought on seeing the grid: Look at those wide open corners! And it's only Wednesday!

First thought on completion: Okay, fine, good puzzle...maybe even great. But who in tarnation is BILLY PORTER??

Your WOD answered that. First I'm hearing about this person. As to the natick, Something clicked about "pinon," so I guessed O. Turns out the Y-spelling is just a variant--an Americanization I suppose. Reeks of desperation. So, maybe not great.

And here we go again about BILLYCLUB. It's a thing. It exists. Sometimes, unfortunately, it is misused, but other times it is a necessary protection for the officer. Actually, the instrument is seldom ever used at all. But regardless, it's just an entry in a puzzle! Surely it doesn't automatically carry the constructor's endorsement. Please get that through your head, Fearless One.

I will fudge the spelling to declare (AVER) BILLie Holliday to be the DOD. Today's offering is not great, but good enough for a BIRDie.

Burma Shave 2:15 PM  

AMORAL PSALM

I VIEW LEAH as a TREASURE,
ONLY CRYSTAL could be finer,
she EYES your ERECT measure
and AVERS you should RECLINER.

--- OSCAR "GUS" GRAHAM

Diana, LIW 2:48 PM  

Didn't get the theme at first. Then I did. Welcome to the club. Reading @Spacey's review, I'm glad I didn't read OFL's. Sigh.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the Mickey Mouse Club (Because we LIKE you)

leftcoaster 2:56 PM  

So the four BILLYs formed a CLUB and started paying dues. Hmm. Got their names but GRAHAM and CRYSTAL were the only familiars.

Paused at the FRO as a “Do with a pick”. Got a NICE “aha” out of that one.

Had an A instead of an O in PINYON/ESO. MEA culpa.

Not dazzling but quite okay.

rondo 3:43 PM  

I vaguely remember BILLY OCEAN having a hit or two, but BILLY PORTER means nothing to me, at least less than BILLY Beer. Remember that? Only trouble was my first courses started out as AbcS before APPS.

BILLYCLUB does not offend me. In fact, I have one which I burned my name and a design into c. 1974. It's a partial length of a shovel handle.

Yes, the corners filled in FAST.

Ah, LEAH. (Donnie Iris) Yeah baby. Those were the days.

NICE puz.

Anonymous 7:23 AM  

There is no such thing as the "acela corridor". The acela train operates on the northeast corridor.

Yes, I'm 3 months late.

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