French conductor Boulez / TUE 12-8-20 / Where the sheep is in Little Boy Blue / Gare de l' Paris railway station / Complete stranger slangily / Bird whose beak inspired Darwin's theory of evolution / Venomous snakes with zigzag patterns on their backs / Fancy notebook brand

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Constructor: Enrique Henestroza Anguiano

Relative difficulty: Medium to slightly harder than Medium (high 3s?)

THEME: POLAR OPPOSITE (37A: One totally unlike another ... or what each answer on the edge of this puzzle has?) — pairs of edge answers are opposites in terms of meaning *and* are physically opposite one another in the grid 

Theme answers:
  • WORK / PLAY (1A: 9-to-5 activity / 69A: Off-hours activity)
  • ABOVE / BELOW (5A: In heaven, say / 68A: In hell, say)
  • HARD / EASY (10A: Like a Saturday crossword / 67A: Like a Monday crossword)
  • OLD / NEW (23D: Like the year you ring out on December 31 / 43D: Like the year you ring in on January 1)
  • DEPART / ARRIVE (13D: Take off, as a plane / 44D: Land, as a plane)
Word of the Day: BEERY (6D: Drunken, in a way) —
1affected or caused by beer beery voices
2smelling or tasting of beerbeery tavern  (
• • •

***HELLO, READERS AND FELLOW SOLVERS IN SYNDICATIONLAND (if the date is Tuesday, January 12, 2021, that's YOU!)!***. The calendar has turned on another year (thank God), and while that might mean a lot of things to a lot of people, for me it means it's time for my annual week-long pitch for financial contributions to the blog. Every year I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. Last year at this time, I wrote about what a melancholy year 2019 was; my oldest dog had died and the world was kind of a wreck. And then 2020 happened, and I learned what a real wreck looks like. In February, my other dog died (R.I.P. Gabby). And then, well, COVID. And let's be honest, even with a new president, 2021 is going to be, uh, challenging as well. But I hope that the regular ritual of solving crosswords brought some solace and stability to your lives this past year, and I hope that my blog added to your enjoyment of the solving experience in some way. This year my blog will celebrate its 15th anniversary! I feel so proud! And old! A lot of labor goes into producing this blog every day (Every. Day.) and the hours are, let's say, less than ideal (I'm either solving and writing at night, after 10pm, or in the morning, before 6am). Most days, I really do love the writing, but it is work, and once a year (right now!) I acknowledge that fact. As I've said before, I have no interest in "monetizing" the blog beyond a simple, direct contribution request once a year. No ads, no gimmicks. Just here for you, every day, rain or shine, whether you like it or, perhaps, on occasion, not :) It's just me and my laptop and some free blogging software and, you know, a lot of rage, but hopefully some insight and levity along the way. I do genuinely love this gig, and whether you're an everyday reader or a Sunday-only reader or a flat-out hatereader, I appreciate you more than you'll ever know.

How much should you give? Whatever you think the blog is worth to you on a yearly basis. Whatever that amount is is fantastic. Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address (checks should be made out to "Rex Parker"):

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

And heck, why don't I throw my Venmo handle in here too, just in case that's your preferred way of moving money around; it's @MichaelDavidSharp (the last four digits of my phone are 4878, in case Venmo asks you, which they did that one time someone contributed that way—but it worked!)

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. I. Love. Snail Mail. I love seeing your gorgeous handwriting and then sending you my awful handwriting. It's all so wonderful. And my thank-you postcards this year are really special. They are portraits of my new cat Alfie (a bright spot of 2020), designed by artist Ella Egan, a.k.a. my daughter. And they look like this:

He's eating kale in that middle one, in case you're wondering. Anyway, these cards are personally meaningful to me, and also, I believe, objectively lovely. I can't wait to share them with the snail-mailers. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just indicate "NO CARD."  Again, as ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support. Now on to today's puzzle...

* * *

Conceptually interesting, in that "opposite" plays out in two ways. I do object to POLAR, in that only ABOVE and BELOW are truly polar opposites, positionally. I also don't really like the winky crossword clues on HARD and EASY. Getting in your little self-congratulatory meta-cluing isn't worth sacrificing the clue phrasing pattern you've got going on: on hours, off hours; heaven, hell; ring out, ring in; take off, land ... but then Monday, Saturday? Those aren't "opposites." Yes, Monday *NYTXW* tend to be (relatively) easy and Saturday *NYTXW* tend to be (relatively) hard, but that pair needed a better set of clues more in keeping with the others. More oppositey. The fill is iffy in places, but mainly it's just very PLAIN. A few long Downs give it a little zazz, but those highly, highly segmented areas, yikes, it's just a bunch of sequestered short stuff. The grid shape is the easily the most irritating thing about the puzzle. Having only the tiniest of passages into the corners, particularly the NW / SE, makes the puzzle lose its sense of flow; it's no fun to have to dive into a corner that is wholly cut off and where nothing more interesting than 3- and 4-letter words are happening. But everything is the way it is to accommodate a pretty elaborate theme, and I think the thematic payoff warrants the cost in dull short fill / grid segmentation. 

Having DEVIL in the grid made me want ANGEL in the grid. Also weird that DEVIL is up next to ABOVE consider ABOVE is clued as [In heaven, say] (hell, where you might expect to find the DEVIL, is down BELOW). PLAIN makes me want  FANCY. MICRO, MACRO. Etc. Can of worms, this theme. Not sure why this played a little slow, but it did. Part of that was grid segmentation (really is a speed-killer for me). Part of it was theme cluing—because the clues had to follow this kind of singsongy oppositey phrasing pattern in every case, they were not always as direct or straightforward as you'd expect short answers in a puzzle to be. Then there's the clue on ITERATION, which makes no sense to me (21D: Method of successive improvement). I guess in math (?) there's some def of ITERATION that involves a sense of "improvement," but the basic def of ITERATION has zero to do with "improvement." It's just a repetition, or a (new) version or incarnation. Improvement not implied. So, yuck. Also, I had ITERATING at first, which made the SW corner icky to get into. Took me a bit to get SOTOSPEAK because I didn't have the first letters, because (again) of the grid segmentation. I could've just jumped up into the NE corner and tried to solve my way back out, but, again, I like flow. I hate just jumping into a corner where I've got nothing if I don't have to. Clue on EST was baffling to me (32A: Gare de l'___, Paris railway station). Spelled DITZY with a (correct) "Z" and not the much dumber "S" (50D: Bubbleheaded). No major trouble. A very plausible Tuesday experience overall.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:04 AM  

Couldn’t be more than a few weeks ago that I learned - from the NYTXW - the term RANDO. And now, here it is again.

**Spoiler Alert**: Rando is not in today’s SB.

As a side note, and stop me if this is TMI - recently I’ve been poorly hydrated so all I do is 20A.

jae 12:05 AM  

Easy. Pretty good Tues. given the constraints. MOLESKINE was a WOE and crossing it with STELAE and SAMSA could be a problem for beginners.

Clever the with some nice long downs, liked it. Nice debut!

Karl 12:26 AM  

I thought this one was clever and entertaining.

Anonymous 12:27 AM  

Video tape is a medium, not a format. Formats would be VHS or Betamax, for example.

chefwen 1:10 AM  

A wee bit more tricky for me than your usual Tuesday. Had STELes before STELAE. No idea at 51A. Made a deal with puzzle partner, if he gave me 56A I’d give him the beginning to 37A. MOLESKIN with an E at the end was news to me. Finally got ‘er wrapped up.

Rex was kinder than I thought he would be.


Anonymous 1:31 AM  

Really nice puzzle! Only write-over for me was vALS-->SALS (I thought maybe leaves in tables got "broken" to move them), but eventually found that mistake. GREAT PUZZLE. --Rick

Toberts 2:25 AM  

I understood POLAR opposite to mean diametrically across, like the North and South Poles. So I thought the theme answers were positioned just right. The inaccurate clue for ITERATION, on the other hand, had me stumped.

TTrimble 3:58 AM  

I'm torn on ITERATION. I see Rex's point. But, since he does bring up math, there are senses in which iterative procedures produce successive approximations that converge to a solution. (What we call Newton's method is a good example of such.) And I think I've heard similar applications used in more colloquial speech. So I personally lean toward leniency.

I also see Rex's point about grid design. Tight little corners in which escape is only possible through one letter. Woe betide the solver who finds himself/herself stuck in one of those.

And, ooh yes, DITSY is absolutely a nose-wrinkler.

With DAKAR crossing MAKO and STELAE crossing MOLESKINE, I agree this might have been slightly harder than a regular Tuesday.

I couldn't figure out what you meant by: all you do is 20A. I have PIERRE there. Oh, duh. I get it now. Har! And yet... what a bizarre thought! :-)

Anonymous 4:55 AM  

The clue on "iteration" is not inaccurate, though the usage might be specific to computer science and product development. Go look up the constructor's very impressive educational background on linkedin. The cluing might make a little more sense with that context. (I don't know the constructor, but I am a data scientist by profession and looked him up because I had a feeling he might also be one based on that clue ...)

Anonymous 5:11 AM  

I agree with Rex that it was very plain. The theme lends itself to banality with stuff HARD/EASY, WET/DRY, etc. Felt a bit childish. There were no marquee answers or clever clues for any of the answers.

Rich Glauber 5:19 AM  

Crossing moleskine with samsa and stelae is Friday/Saturday worthy, certainly not something one would expect on a Tuesday. Never thought I'd blow a long streak on a Tuesday puzzle, but I didn't have the patience to plug in a bunch of guesses in a double Natick Tuesday aberration. And no, I'm not a beginner

David Sinclair 5:42 AM  

I’m pretty sure that *iteration* comes from the tech *agile* development approach. Get the minimum viable product (mvp) to market quickly, then keep iterating to improve it. That’s the reason why the buttons on the screen seem to move just when I figured out where they are and what they do...

Lobster11 6:11 AM  

@jas: One doesn't have to be a beginner to be stymied by MOLESKINE crossing STELAE and SAMSA. Don't ask how I know.

ChuckD 6:25 AM  

Awkward puzzle - theme ends up being a bunch of gimmes and the overall fill was inconsistent. The solve was fine I guess - just odd. Had no issue with the revealer and placement of the themers. Side eye to MOLESKINE and PIERRE Boulez early week. Liked SO TO SPEAK and ESCHEW.

Was it Brando who yelled STELLAE STELLAE? The goal of most ITERATive processes is to find improvement. The clue is clunky because it doesn’t refer to repetition, circular, loops etc. I think Morose may be a little excessive in describing EEYORE.

Decent solve with a few head scratches.

Lewis 6:26 AM  

Well, that was refreshing. Wrapped within the circumference of well-used everyday words (and their opposites) was a scattering of less common words – STELAE, INURE, INTERATION, ESCHEW, ASTUTE, ANNUL, DAKAR, SAMSA – something not often seen on Tuesdays. I am all for this. New solvers are new to the mechanics of solving, yes, but they come with a vocabulary. So let the cluing be direct to get these solvers used to filling in a grid, and do shun Naticks, but let the answers for the NYT puzzle reflect a more-than-simple vocabulary. More Tuesdays like this, please!

As soon as I filled in the reveal, with half the edge words filled in, I swooshed in the rest of the circumference, thinking, “Ah, this is what it must feel like to be a speed solver!”

I love having the reveal POLAR OPPOSITE rather than simply OPPOSITE, because the former also indicates the location of the opposite words on top of their opposite-ness. (@rex -- Wiki says that the polar opposite is "the diametrically opposite point of a circle or sphere", nothing about it having to be just North and South.) Also, I learned that BEERY is indeed a word, one I think I’ll use up the road.

A nice mix of highbrow and lowbrow (such as the lovely abutting INNIES and DITSY), and a promising debut. I’m eager for that next one, Enrique. Thank you for this one!

Anonymous 6:42 AM  

Learn to pronounce
noun: iteration

the repetition of a process or utterance.
repetition of a mathematical or computational procedure applied to the result of a previous application, typically as a means of obtaining successively closer approximations to the solution of a problem.
a new version of a piece of computer hardware or software.
plural noun: iterations

You're just plain dead wrong, "Rex"

Rug Crazy 6:59 AM  


SouthsideJohnny 6:59 AM  

I’m with those who feel that on balance, ITERATION gets a pass as it is “a” method of improvement (especially in math and computer situations). It is certainly not the only method (nor does the clue imply that it is). I also understand that “improvement” is not always the motivation for an iterative process - however it is true that many, many times when someone or some organization is taking the time and effort to come up with successive versions, releases, attempts at something - that improvement is the objective.

Now, having MOLESKINE cross the other esoterica is certainly an exercise in cruciverbal obscurantism.

One positive offshoot relating to the presence of SAMSA is that it gives me the chance to use the term Kafkaesque.

Hungry Mother 7:04 AM  

I just quit in disgust with all of the names.

kitshef 7:29 AM  

Much too easy for a Tuesday, which may be why we were subjected to decidedly un-Tuesday fare like PIERRE Boulez and KCUP and MOLESKINE(????).

And yes, I kept expecting to see other opposites: DEVIL/angel, OVERT/tacit, KNICKS/lakers, and so on.

Karl Grouch 7:30 AM  

Mine is the antipodal point.

Play is wet and work is dry.
To depart is easy and to arrive is hard.

This puzzle has got it all above below.

pabloinnh 7:44 AM  

So we're in the process of downsizing and looking for a new place. Yesterday we visited a house that looked promising from the outside but turned out to be chopped up into a series of spaces with no flow whatsoever, which I hated instantly, and it was all I could think of when I got started on this one. I sometimes enjoy these four-corner exercises but today was not that day. Not the constructor's fault, just an unhappy coincidence.

Saving graces: BEERY, which made me think of better times, SAMSA, which I haven't thought of in a long time, but there it was, EAH's surnames, neither of which I have ever seen, EEYORE, which is what I call a certain sour alto in our choral group, and of course OTTER, because otters.

Nice feat of construction EAH, but reading the revealer clue turned it into a fill-in-the-blanks exercise for too many answers for me.

PS-@Joaquin-I've heard this in another ITERATION, but it's still funny.

bocamp 8:08 AM  

Thank you @Enrique for the Tues. challenge. 'Twas a fine puz, but for me, would have been better run on Wed. (and even then would have been tough).

Got a great start in the NW, and thought I was going to sail through this one; not so, tough everywhere but the NW. Came to more dead standstills on a Tues. than in recent memory. The only semi-Natick (for me) was "Samsa/micro", but what else but an "m" could have fit, so …

Write-overs: "steles".

New: "micro (ac); "finch" (ac); "adders" (ac); "Samsa" "Pierre" (ac); "Est".

Hazy: "Moleskine"; "video tape"; "Rhones"; "beery"; "Kcup"; "Sals"; "Dakar"; "rando"; "meadow"; "iteration".

Sp./parsing/choices: "so to speak"; "Eire" vs "Erin"; "has at"; "eschew"; "Maco".

Fav clues/answers: "above"; "devil"; "otter"; "leases"; "tat"; "Eeyore"; "rando"; "play"; "beery"; "astute"; "iteration"; "so to speak"; "old"; "heap"; "wily"; "new"; "eschew"; "ditsy".

WOTD: "Samsa"

LOTD: "Finnish"

SOTD: Thunder Road

FOTD: "tofu"

Arthur "Ashe" v Jimmy Connors: Wimbledon Final 1975

Yay "otters" 😊

y.d. 0

Peace Rauhaa Paix 平和 Mír Frieden 和平 Pax Jàmm Bark 🕊

Todd 8:27 AM  

Never seen or heard the word Beery before. The Y was the last letter I filled in and was a little surrprised the puzzle solved. Didn't like Rando the first time it appeared either, still don't.

pdevlinmath268 9:05 AM  

Yes. This. They are polar opposites for sure.

RooMonster 9:05 AM  

Hey All !
Agree with the Yeesh on the closed corners. After getting theme, I can sorta kinda see the need, but still think it could've been opened up a bit.

Anyway, the theme was cool. He even had a pair of six letterers. Fill decent, 40 blocks, a tiny bit more (2) than max.

Laughed at RANDO. Just had it, but still will be people who say they've never heard of it. Agree with the Holy Moly-ness of MOLESKINE crossing STELAE and SAMSA. That was a drive through Natick. (Beautiful fall colors!)

Nice debut. Cull back on the closed-ness next time. 😋

Two F's

RooMonster 9:07 AM  

"Things we're thankful for"

Postal service workers, and other delivery drivers, who didn't stop amid a pandemic getting us our packages, food, necessities (and bills!)


Frayed Knot 9:09 AM  

I can't see Dakar without hearing that woman on NPR signing off. She always makes it sound scary.

Wallace 9:10 AM  

You can be Beery without being drunk.

albatross shell 9:16 AM  

Milne and Kafka and maybe their most interesting characters. EEYORE and Gregor would be friends I think. One of my first usernames that I used to use on a couple sights was gSAMSAbug.

Why do I like HAD AT and RUN IN but not TRY TO, IS IT, RAN DO and BE LOW?

ASTUTE SOTOSPEAK NAUSEA INNIES and other goodies, but somehow just a little PLAIN for all the stuff I really like. Maybe Rex is right: It's the grid.
But he's wrong about POLAROPPOSITES.

But he's right about looking for opposite stuff. I want to twist SOTOSPEAK and ITERATION into opposites.

Should the clue for OTTER be "Mel, um"?

No Fred said.

orangeblossomspecial 9:18 AM  

Gare de l'est was easy. If you want to go to Antwerp, you leave from that station in Paris. If you want to go a different direction, you leave from one of the other stations -- Austerlitz, Nord, Montparnasse, Saint-Lazare, Lyon, etc.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

Yeah, the fourth iteration of the Die Hard series as an improvement. Just like the 8th iteration of Star Wars.

There's nothing intrinsically "improvement" about iteration. True, no one but a psychopath would repeat something with the intention of making it worse, but the intent to improve doesn't change the nature of repetition.

MarthaCatherine 9:27 AM  

Y'know how some people are just skeeved out by odd, RANDO words? Lots of people are put off by the word "moist," for instance. The word "mole" does it to me. Not sure why. I don't like them on my skin or others'(I know, I know, very intolerant of me...). I could never eat mole sauce (I know, I know, it's pronounced differently and not actually made with moles...). Countless times I have heard of MOLESKINE notebooks, although I didn't know the word had an "E" on the end, and I thought it was a type of notebook, not a brand, which I never checked out because mole. I'll buy a different brand (I know, I know, very silly of me...).

Now I must go to a quiet place and try not to think of moles. Ew.

Nancy 9:35 AM  

Was there a "fancy notebook brand" back in my day? Or were they all just...notebooks? In any event, I'm pretty sure there wasn't one named MOLESKINE and so I had to guess at the S in the SAMSA cross. (Never read "The Metamorphosis.") Luckily, I guessed right.

I bet all the "fancy" notebooks were "narrow-ruled", though. And I only use "wide-ruled" -- even though you get less bang for the buck. Don't like to have to squoosh my handwriting any more then I like having to fill squooshed squares in a 16x15 NYT puzzle. Just a gentle reminder, Will Shortz, just a gentle reminder.

Anyway, back to today's puzzle. The theme made it much easier than it would have been otherwise. Not that it was hard. But it did have some un-Tuesday-ish fill like ESCHEW, ITERATION and STELAE. I appreciated that. And the best thing I learned today? That the FINCH's beak inspired Darwin's Theory of Evolution. I wonder why?

Perhaps I'll go to Google right now and find out. Perhaps not.

Unknown 9:36 AM  

To me, polar opposites are positional opposites. The south pole is the polar opposite of the north pole. In many ways, though, the two areas are similar.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:56 AM  

I was annoyed about the closed-off corners until I got to the revealer. Then they all opened up because I filled i the whole border instantly.

Z 9:59 AM  

I like this a lot more than Rex did. That the earth wobbles a great deal on its magnetic poles is well established, so I think of having the POLAR OPPOSITES reflect this was a feature, not a bug. I did chuckle at the “French composer Boulez” clue. New solver Z went “WTF how am I supposed to know that?” Experienced solver Z goes “French first name six letters.” SAMSA/STELAE was no problem here because I have writers in the family so have spent time amongst the fancy notebook brands. MOLESKINE notebooks are available at Target and Barnes & Noble I see. I know my local bookstores have all carried them as well. The hardest letter of the lot was the M in SAMSA because Game of Thrones was so ubiquitous that even though I didn’t watch it SAnSA Stark was running interference.

Regarding the VIDEO TAPE clue, it is a format just like Reel-to-Reel and DVD are formats. No problem here with that clue.

As for the Great ITERATION Kerfuffle, Rex is exactly right. There is one group who uses the word as defined so the clue isn’t “wrong” in the technical sense. But even the people who use it to mean “improvement” are showing their bias more than understanding. That is, a new ITERATION is never certain to be an “improvement,” even when improvement is the goal. Indeed, we have all lived through software “upgrades” that were really downgrades. And, of course, I had to laugh at @anon6:42 posting a definition that doesn’t actually support their argument. “Closer approximation” may feel like an improvement, but is not inherently so. Again, there are plenty of situations where insisting on a closer approximation is a delaying tactic to avoid actual improvement (just read the news - there’s a pretty obvious example going on right now). I’m more in line with @Southside Johnny, it gets a pass but it takes some lawyering.

Leslie 10:00 AM  

yes @Frayed Knot 9:09 I thought the same. Looked her up--would never have guessed her name is spelled Ofeibia Quist-Arcton! Impressive person.

sixtyni yogini 10:12 AM  

Loved this one and always appreciate Rex’s ASTUTE 🎯 critiques.

tea73 10:13 AM  

I found this slightly easier than average.

I've been surrounded by computer programmers ,most of my life so iteration didn't surprise me. Didn't remember either PIERRE (easy crosses and common French name) or SAMSA (straightforward crosses).

I thought the diagonal nature of some of the POLAR OPPOSITES worked just fine if you remember that earth (most planets too?) is tilted on its axis.

CDilly52 10:15 AM  

@Joaquin 12:04 am. Good one - (20A) - took me a second, but I almost snorted coffee through my nose!

Joe Dipinto 10:16 AM  

I like this. Pierre Boulez was the sh!t back when I was in college, you don't read much about him anymore. Smooth, succinct themers, nicely positioned. I for one did not find the layout nauseating.

Nice debut, Enrique. May I say you are really stylin' the headwear and facial hair. :-)

Speaking of "Hair"...

Desire 10:18 AM  

There's THIS

CDilly52 10:19 AM  

@chefwen-I am a fountain pen/notebook/stationery/quality paper junkie and MOLESKINE notebooks really are top notch. Lovely feeling paper and the ink from a fountain pen just skates so smoothly across the pages without bleeding through or feathering. I am sure (not unlike @joaquin earlier) that this is tmi.

JMo 10:26 AM  

Critics pick is a rec? More like wreck! Speaking of wrecks, painful to watch Gary Oldman’s Mank figuratively and literally using Willy Hearst’s San Simeon as an emesis basin.

albatross shell 10:28 AM  

I knew Pierre. I did not know Days of Grace, but crossword Arthur? Filled in ASHE with no crosses.
Were you really thinking nICRO aggression?

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

last time I checked, the proper usage is ITERATive method, not ITERATION method. a noun, in normal usage, is not an adjective.

ITERATION, as a naked noun, does not connote 'improvement' only repetition. witness the witless repetition of lies and incompetence of The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave). or the construction of Fibonacci numbers; each is in no way an 'improvement' on the predecessor.

Carola 10:32 AM  

Because of its position, I interpreted PIERRE as the first theme answer and wondered, "Now, what's he going to do with that?" I smiled when I realized, "Nothing," - for me, getting faked-out (occasionally :) ) is part of the enjoyment of doing crosswords. I liked this not-your-typical-early-week theme and how POLAR OPPOSITES was positioned contrariwise, so to speak, at the equator.

Whatsername 10:38 AM  

First of all, congrats to Mr. Anguiano on an unusual but solid NYT debut. I can see where the construction of this was probably fun, but the solve was a bit lackluster. Difficulty level on the high side for a Tuesday with a French conductor, French railway, African capital, Kafka character and STLAE, which is not only uncommon but also an odd form of pluralization.

I confidently put down AMP as the electrical unit in 23A and was annoyed to see it turn out to be OHM which I thought was something chanted in yoga. After looking up the definition of both I decided it’s a good thing I never aspired to be an electrical engineer.

Do people ever actually order a PLAIN pizza? No toppings. What’s the point? has a fascinating Word of the Day I thought worth sharing. Infodemic: A massive amount of widely and rapidly circulating information about a particular crisis or controversial issue, consisting of a confusing combination of fact, falsehood, rumor, and opinion . It struck me as the perfect description of our newsfeeds these days.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Rex teaches Paradise Lost and thinks devil is the opposite of angel? Oh my.
Don't tell the SUNY Binghamton administration. Or the University of Michigan. That nonsense is so fundamentally wrong it ought to disqualifies him from teaching, and should be enough to rescind his diploma. Yikes.

Sir Hillary 10:48 AM  

Impressive that he made this work. Getting all the corner entries must have taken some doing, but the result is not at all forced. Very well done, and properly pitched to a Tuesday (MOLESKINE, STELAE and SAMSA notwithstanding).

SALS is also a great pizzeria in Mamaroneck, NY. Not too far from the Rye marina. And to my knowledge, it's never been the site of a race riot, a police murder or a garbage can through the window.

Z 10:51 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Newboy 10:54 AM  

Gregor’ s last name bugged me momentarily, but the solve went Tuesday smooth here. I didn’t notice the mini-grids in the four corners, yet see the potential for problems they might create. As is so often the case, @Lewis said my piece for me and noting the time did so before I had the iPad warmed up for the morning commute to puzzleland....just over the county line from Natick apparently.

Frantic Sloth 10:56 AM  

I found this WORK ABOVE HARD for a Tuesdee, but what a nice chew! And it's a debut!
Clever theme, seems like solid construction, and with minimal dreck. Huzzah!

Biggest plus? Found my new mantra when'er I lose my playful attitude and sense of whimsy:
(not the sullen one)

Thank you.


Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Do people ever actually order a PLAIN pizza? No toppings. What’s the point?

I guess your not of one of the USofA's great Italianate cities, where plain pizza is how one inhales gobs of red sauce without the complication of pasta. like wise for white pizza and cheese.

Z 11:06 AM  

@Albie - I changed that sentence to reflect that I am pretty much ignorant of all conductors not named Leonard Bernstein but others might actually know the guy. And, no, I did not consider nICRO. I actually realized that SAnSA was wrong before I wrote anything in, but SAnSA was my first thought. Blrrgh.

@Whatsername - I take it you’ve never ordered pizza for a bunch of middle school students.

@Sir Hillary - 🤣🤣 👍🏽

Whatsername 11:09 AM  

@Southside Johnny (6:59) Obscurantism: opposition to the spread of knowledge, deliberate obscurity or evasion of clarity. Another word which quite accurately describes recent news reports, at least those involving certain political players in certain current events.

@Roo (9:07) Yes! By all means, let’s hear it for those delivery folks. I’ve done a HEAP more online shopping than usual this year. Don’t know what I’d do without them.

burtonkd 11:10 AM  

@Joe, yes Pierre Boulez was everywhere as a conductor, composer, founder of IRCAM at the Pompidou Center in Paris and Music Director of the NY Philharmonic.

Someone just asked about Franz Kafka and the Metamorphosis on this blog about a week ago: "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into an enormous insect." Probably not Samsa's favorite ITERATION of himself.

I have to agree with the earlier poster that the VIDEOTAPE is a medium, Beta or VHS would be the format. Would be an easy fix.

If you've walked into a coffeeshop at any time in the last 20 years, you've seen someone scribbling down their brilliant magnum opus on a MOLESKINE. Also on prominent display in bookstores everywhere. I think the cover may have a feel of moleskin leather, itself named after feeling like the skin of moles.

@ Nancy, as I remember it, Darwin was amazed that the beaks of the finches were exactly the right shape and size to eat the local food source, and he theorized that they must have developed or evolved simultaneously.

Happy thought for the day: Otters in Saunas

EFB 11:10 AM  


Domino 11:11 AM  

@Whatsername. I think of plain pizza as just having sauce & cheese with no meat, mushrooms, pineapple, or anything else.

egsforbreakfast 11:23 AM  

A couple of the many interesting things about Moleskine:

1. There is no official pronunciation, because, as the Moleskine brand reports, it is a “brand name with undefined national identity.” But if you want to be in line with the Italian maker of Moleskine, the Italian pronunciation is “mole’ski:ne.”

2. The Moleskine notebooks users enjoy today are fashioned after notebooks described in Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines. In this novel, Chatwin discusses the discontinued production of notebooks after the death of the notebook manufacturer. The name specifically comes from a line spoken by the owner of a stationery shop informing Chatswin of the death: Le vrai Moleskine n’est plus (“The real Moleskine is no more”).

A surprise between 2 slices of bread = RANDO Sando.

I thought this was a good execution of a clever theme. The narrow escape routes are well worth how they enabled a 15 x 15 with 12 themers plus a revealer. Great debut, Enrique Henestroza Anguiano.

Laertes 11:25 AM  

Format-versus-medium issues aside, my first thought on obsolescent home movie format was "super eight." Now I feel old.

mathgent 11:29 AM  

Some of you may have learned an ITERATION for finding the square root of a number. It used to be taught in the seventh grade. It's called "Guess, divide, average," which actually defines it.

To find the square root of 500, begin by taking a guess, say 20. Then divide 20 into 500 giving 25. Then average 20 and 25 giving 22.500.

Make 22.500 the new guess and do it again. 500 divided by 22.500 is 22.222. Their average is 22.361. That's the actual square root to three decimals.

It's an excellent algorithm, each successive average closer to the correct answer.

Anybody remember doing arithmetic by hand?

Hack mechanic 11:34 AM  

Certainly was

Nancy 11:36 AM  

Since this blog "skews old", many of you will remember the ubiquitous school notebook of our collective youths. Here's a photo. Remember?

You're welcome.

Richard 11:36 AM  

Penultimate Supreme Court appointee: BEERY

bocamp 11:38 AM  

@RooMonster 9:07 AM - "Amen" 🙏

@Whatsername 10:38 AM

plain pizza - 2:18 into the vid.

Got's "Infodemic" wotd via email this a.m. and totally agree with your assessment. :)

Imo, "polar opposite" connotes "diametrically opposed", and its common usage likely has nothing to do with physical location. Today's puzzle takes advantage of both geometrical and figurative definitions, and as @Lewis 6:26 AM points out, even the mathematical def. doesn't pin it down to the "Poles".

"A polar opposite is the diametrically opposite point of a circle or sphere. It is mathematically known as an antipodal point, or antipode when referring to the Earth. It is also an idiom often used to describe people and ideas that are opposites." - Wikipedia

Liked "iteration" in the sense that each new "iteration" of a product is (usually) an improvement: the newest iPad Air. I'm also liking "iteration" as a replacement for "version", e.g., a new and better "iteration" of myself, connoting an ongoing process of improvement.

"The 4th generation iPad Air is the newest svelte tablet from Apple. Released in 2020, it builds on previous 'iterations' with the now classic edge-to-edge screen that minimizes the bezels." - Lifewire

Jake & Jeff comments at "XWord Info": here.

Ben Smith comments at "Diary of a Crossword Fiend": here.

"Otters" Pumpkin and Harris at SEA LIFE Scarborough

Video: How Real Vermont Maple Syrup Is Made

p.g. -2

Peace Rauhaa Paix 平和 Mír Frieden 和平 Pax Jàmm Bark 🕊

Masked and Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Different kinda theme idea. Like.
The M&A version of this puz mighta gone for a few themers such as: RAEB. XETROV. SETANIDROOC. Cuz it'da been more beerier.

staff weeject picks: Stubby themer honorees OLD, NEW, WET, DRY. Congratz, lil ones.

fave bonus sparkler: SOTOSPEAK.

Clues stayed pretty non-feisty; only ?-marked clue I noticed was the revealer's clue.
Fillins got feisty, at times. Didn't know: SAMSA. STELAE. MOLESKINE. PIERRE (as clued).
I kinda enjoyed the semi-closed off puz corners, tho -- made m&e WORK HARDer for it.

Thanx for all the polar critters this puz could bear, Mr. Anguiano dude. And congratz on yer very nice debut.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


burtonkd 11:49 AM  

@whatsername - In NYC, asking for a plain slice gets you the crust, tomato sauce and cheese, plus however much oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and parmesan you want to shake onto it.

Which reminds me that someone made it a year long project to taste a plain slice from every pizzeria in the 5 boroughs and determined that the best one was a tiny place on Dyckman Avenue in Washington Heights/Inwood.

Frantic Sloth 11:52 AM  

According to Rex, I don't know what I'm talking about. But, according to me, I don't know what I'm talking about. Guess I'll leave the constructioneering assessments to the experts.🤷‍♀️

@Joaquin 1204am Dude. Laugher or groaner? I'ma go with both!

@TTrimble 358am I found myself quasi-woe-betided (betade?) in some places that weren't even corners. 😕

BEERY: One example where (for me) a PPP clue would have been more helpful/fun. Noah Jr. or Wallace, please. 😉 (Hi, @Wallace 910am!)

@ChuckD 625am No, I think it was Arlon RANDO.

(1) Did someone mention (2) Kafkaesque?

@albatross shell 916am See my note to @Joaquin

@MarthaCatherine 927am No MOLES in MOLE sauce? Where does the fur come from then? @GILL? (not questioning if you're the source, just asking for your input)

@Sir Hillary 1048am 🤣 I believe the "activities" you mention only occur at the Rye marina (and movies) It's a wooden rollercoaster ride of emotions out there.

Frantic Sloth 12:01 PM  

@Nancy 1136am Thanks for the memory. Is that picture of the latest ITERATION?

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Anybody remember doing arithmetic by hand?

well, long division and its little brother short division. I'll go back to doing math when diff eq can be done by clicking a mouse. or has that already happened?

Z 12:04 PM  

Saw complaints about all the names so I did my thing. PPP* is 21 of 78, for 27%.
I do think that lots of the PPP is not typical for a Tuesday. ASHE as clued, PIERRE as clued, going to “Little Boy Blue” for the MEADOW clue (#25 on my top ten list of nursery rhymes), and Kafka all seem more late week than Tuesday. And MOLESKINE is not a very Tuesday brand name either. So, in this case, even though the PPP is not excessive, it does seem that a hefty percentage is heftier than we normally get on a Tuesday.

*PPP are Pop Culture, Product Names, and Other Proper nouns as a percentage of the puzzle. 33% is the excessive line.

TTrimble 12:06 PM  

Hmm. Isn't it a truism in crossword solving that a clue is fair game if an answer fits a possible meaning of the clue? This seems so obvious, and examples spring so readily to mind, that it's superfluous to ask.

In particular, an answer doesn't have to fit a primary or basic meaning (however that basic meaning may be construed by the solver).

I also recall that in most cases, the parts of speech (including number, tense, etc.) of the clue and the answer should match. Thus, if the clue reads "method of successive improvement", a noun (phrase), then the expectation is that the answer will also be a noun (phrase). Not an adjective like "iterative".

jberg 12:15 PM  

I loved this puzzle. From my point of view, it was pretty easy because you got half of the perimeter free. You didn't even have to read the clues (although I did), just find an opposite with the same number of letters. Sure, we got some isolated corners, but also some beautiful long downs, and then RANDO! That gives it a nice contemporary touch, a much better choice than a laborious ampersandwich for relaxation and oblivion.

I've never read "The Metamorphosis," but even I knew that Gregor SAMSA turned into a cockroach in it.

As for MOLESKINE -- they have lots of ads in the New Yorker, if you read that (highly advisable), and lately they have little specialty outlets in malls. I've never used one because I could never find a reason to spend the extra money (but thanks for explaining it, @CDilly), but always remember the word because it looks so much like moleskin -- which is a kind of cloth (when it's not being the skin of a mole).

Boulez is pretty famous, but only among the concert-going public, I guess. He conducted the New York Philharmonic for 6 years, but more importanly was one of the principal advocates of 20th century music. He also composed some really important works, but of course the clue doesn't refer to them. We get Bernstein, Solti, Ozawa, Toscanini in puzzles, so Boulez seems oK to me.

@Wallace, I thought of that too, but you made the point superbly.

I knew it was a FINCH only because of Stephen Jay Gould's book The Beak of the Finch.

And finally, STELAE. I knew it was the plural of stele, but why? My dictionary says it's a Greek wor -- is that a Greek plural? Not stelepodes?

TTrimble 12:23 PM  

Not only do I remember doing arithmetic by hand, I still do. In fact I'm so old school that I as an instructor disallow calculators for taking in-class tests (mainly because it's possible for students to store cheat sheets in their TI-85's or whatnot).

Although most of the arithmetic I nowadays do in my head. This can lead to fun little parlor games, at home and on the job.

I doubt they still teach how to take square roots by hand. Another general loss is how to use logarithm tables and slide rules. More generally still, I sense a decline in numeracy and number sense relative to where we used to be.

Again with the old school -- we still buy those notebooks. They're still readily available, and cheap.

TTrimble 12:33 PM  

I just looked it up. "Stele" goes back to the Greek, yes, but was imported into Latin in the form "stela", and that does pluralize to STELAE. "Steles" is another acceptable plural in English.

["Stelepodes" -- ha! I was also thinking stelata (parallel to lemmata).]

bocamp 12:35 PM  

@RooMonster 9:07 AM - "Amen" 🙏

@Whatsername 10:38 AM

plain pizza - 2:18 into the vid.

Got's "Infodemic" wotd via email this a.m. and totally agree with your assessment. :)

Imo, "polar opposite" connotes "diametrically opposed", and its common usage likely has nothing to do with physical location. Today's puzzle takes advantage of both geometrical and figurative definitions, and as @Lewis 6:26 AM points out, even the mathematical def. doesn't pin it down to the "Poles".

"A polar opposite is the diametrically opposite point of a circle or sphere. It is mathematically known as an antipodal point, or antipode when referring to the Earth. It is also an idiom often used to describe people and ideas that are opposites." - Wikipedia

Liked "iteration" in the sense that each new "iteration" of a product is (usually) an improvement, e.g., the newest iPad Air.

"The 4th generation iPad Air is the newest svelte tablet from Apple. Released in 2020, it builds on previous 'iterations' with the now classic edge-to-edge screen that minimizes the bezels." - Lifewire

Jake & Jeff comments at "XWord Info": here.

Ben Smith comments at "Diary of a Crossword Fiend": here.

"Otters" Pumpkin and Harris at SEA LIFE Scarborough

Video: How Real Vermont Maple Syrup Is Made

p.g. -2

Peace Rauhaa Paix 平和 Mír Frieden 和平 Pax Jàmm Bark 🕊

Teedmn 12:41 PM  

What a bleeping mess I made for myself by reading the 34A clue as belonging to 34D. Reciting the Little Boy Blue nursery rhyme to myself, I first tried "in the MEADOW" at 34D - too long. Oh, just "the MEADOW" fits. But surely 41A is STELAE, 47A is ICE, where the *hell* are those sheep? The cow's in the corn so, oh, the sheep are in 34Across. Rats.

Other than all of that black ink making it hard to read my other entries down in the south central, this puzzle was nice and breezy. I did make a moue at the clue for 20A but with P___RE in place, PIERRE was pretty easy to guess.

I'm still coming to grips with RANDO as a random, complete stranger, but I'm sure in time it will feel totally natural...naw.

Enrique, congratulations on your NYTimes debut. The theme, once I noticed it, did help me fill in the grid sides, which was nice.

old timer 12:49 PM  

I thought the puzzle was pretty easy, and the revealer is what made it easy -- PLAY gave me WORK, DEPART ARRIVE, etc.

Correction: Trains to Antwerpen/Anvers DEPART from the Gare du Nord, as does virtually all service to Belgium, Holland, and the Channel ports. I have tried to review in my mind what stations I have used in Paris. Nord, of course, and Lyon, which takes you to the Riviera. By the time I took a train between NW Spain and Paris, the main services used Montparnasse instead of Austerlitz. So I have used Nord, Lyon, and Montparnasse, and have not used Austerlitz, Est, and St-Lazare. Though if I had taken a train to Burgundy or Germany, I would have used Est. St-Lazare is actually the oldest station, but is more for suburban trains these days. I think Orsay was the next oldest, but it is now a delightful museum.

Est and Nord are close to each other, and like many American train stations are (or used to be) located in the seediest of neighborhoods. Montparnasse is not seedy at all these days, though it certainly was in the 1920's.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

The ITERATION clue is 100% correct and not problematic at all. It clearly works in the mathematical sense. Also in the non-mathematical sense in this sentence: "After some iteration by email, my co-author and I were both satisfied with the final draft of our report." The implication is that we took turns editing the report and emailing it back and forth, successively improving it each time.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

Podes isn't a punchline. It's simply a plural. why on earth would you apply the word feet to a stele?

As for stele's Greek origin, yes, that's word come from. But not the thing itself.
Like most things mistaken for Greek, Roman or Egyptian, it comes from Mesopotamia. There are fragments of stelae from UR dating to 3500 BC just below my office in this very museum. Nice work by Woolley and the boys.

Samuel Noah Kramer

PS. No stelae from anywhere in the ancient Levant that I've ever seen or heard tell of depicts homosexuality or "modern attitudes toward gender"

albatross shell 1:25 PM  

I wasn't criticizing you for not knowing PIERRE. I was saying I filled in ASHE in the same way I thought you described filling in Pierre.

The otter or another?
Actually as far as jokes go, and especially puns, groans equate with laughs. No difference. The louder the better.

Why is there any problem with ITERATION. See definition m-w:
2 : the action or a process of iterating or repeating: such as. a : a procedure in which repetition of a sequence of operations yields results successively closer to a desired result.

Unknown 1:27 PM  

EFB @ 11:10 Get used to it.

I thought the theme was clever, with only two very minor nits :
The grid was choppy, with a lot of 3 letter words.
And I'm not sure STELAE is really a Tuesday-level answer.
But given the cleverness of the theme and the constraints it imposed on the constructor, these are silly quibbles on my part. I must be absorbing some of rex's negativity by osmosis. Ugh, I apologize.

While rex found the Gare de l'EST "baffling," anyone who has been to Paris would suss it out pretty quickly (assuming that they did more than just tromp from one "check off" site to another). The train system in Europe (at least France and Italy) is pretty amazing: clean, fast, on time, and very fairly priced.

Whatsername 1:45 PM  

@Anonymous (11:04), @Z, @Domino, @burtonkd crust, tomato sauce and cheese, plus however much oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and parmesan: From the 42A clue “having NO toppings,” I took that to mean nothing but sauce, not even cheese. To me, a pizza with sauce and cheese is a cheese pizza, not PLAIN. In other words, I consider cheese to be “a topping.” Maybe that’s a regional thing or maybe I’m just pizza deprived from not having had a single decent slice of one since the pandemic began. A thick crust, tomato sauce and cheese, plus however much oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and parmesan I want sounds absolutely delicious right now.

bocamp 1:53 PM  

@RooMonster 9:07 AM - "Amen" 🙏

@Whatsername 10:38 AM

plain pizza - 2:18 into the vid.

Got's "Infodemic" wotd via email this a.m. and totally agree with your assessment. :)

Imo, "polar opposite" connotes "diametrically opposed", and its common usage likely has nothing to do with physical location. Today's puzzle takes advantage of both geometrical and figurative definitions, and as @Lewis 6:26 AM points out, even the mathematical def. doesn't limit it to the "Poles".

"A polar opposite is the diametrically opposite point of a circle or sphere. It is mathematically known as an antipodal point, or antipode when referring to the Earth. It is also an idiom often used to describe people and ideas that are opposites." - Wikipedia

Liked "iteration" in the sense that each new "iteration" of a product is (usually) an improvement, e.g., the newest iPad Air. I'm also liking "iteration" as a replacement for "version", e.g., a new and better "iteration" of myself, connoting an ongoing process of improvement.

"The 4th generation iPad Air is the newest svelte tablet from Apple. Released in 2020, it builds on previous 'iterations' with the now classic edge-to-edge screen that minimizes the bezels." - Lifewire

p.g. -2

Peace Rauhaa Paix 平和 Mír Frieden 和平 Pax Jàmm Bark 🕊

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

In South Dakota, for those that still haven't got Covid, the capitol city is called Peer.

it's what kind of method? thus an adjective, thus ITERATive. parse.

Maddiegail 2:18 PM  

Was so sure 23 Down was BAD. (Well, it is!)

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

Anon 2:05,

Nice dig at the finer Dakota. But your snark is misplaced. SDAK's numbers are better than most. OPED in today's WSJ to suppor that claim.

Anne H 2:21 PM  

I’m grateful to you, RooMonster, for your daily “thank you” posts, esp. today. I’ve been
sequestered in my house for almost ten months (with my doggy) and have had many deliveries with no slip-ups👍 I’m ever so grateful to all of the drivers and my letter carrier‼️
P.S. I love your posts on this blog😉

TTrimble 2:31 PM  

I'm sure I'll be hearing an update later. Until then, -0.

Dear Samuel --
Why do Greek nouns always take -podes as the plural?........ Dat's de joke.

Z 2:32 PM  

@Albie 1:25 - I didn’t feel criticized. I was just observing that I wrote the comment one way and then had to stop and rewrite because, of course, some don’t have the same ignorances as I.* I got the ASHE answer the same way you did.

@Anon/Samuel Noah Kramer - New around here? The real question is why wouldn’t you use -opodes as the plural.

@Teedmn - 🤣😂🤣😂🤣 - I hate when that happens. Also, just in case you ever deign to use it, RANDO has a certain skeevy connotation to it. So, not the guy who helps you load your groceries but the guy who helps you load your groceries and asks for your number.

@TTrimble 12:06 - Just in case I haven’t been clear, I agree with you; Definitely not “wrong” as clued. There are people who use the term in just this way so the clue is fine. Now, using ITERATION in just this way is another matter altogether but I already beat that dead octopus.

@Frantic Sloth responding to @joaquin - I think Frank has a question.

@Anon2:20 - I’m not sure having the most deaths per million residents qualifies as “better than most.” Personally, I feel like facts are a better gauge than opinions for coming to conclusions on how various states are doing.

*I’m not in court so I feel free to imply do. So get outta here with your shouldn’t it be me.

bocamp 2:53 PM  

"Otters" Pumpkin and Harris at SEA LIFE Scarborough

Jake & Jeff comments at "XWord Info": here.

Ben Smith comments at "Diary of a Crossword Fiend": here.

@TTrimble 2:31 PM 👍 for 0

Good link!


Peace Rauhaa Paix 平和 Mír Frieden 和平 Pax Jàmm Bark 🕊

thfenn 2:54 PM  

Enjoyed this one. Am going to join Anonymous (1:31AM) in that I actually had a table leaf broken in a move and went with LEAvES/vALS and actually couldn't find the cause of my DNF until coming here.

I thought it was kind of cool how SOTOSPEAK paired with ITERATION, in that "so to speak" requires a somewhat opposite interpretive iteration of what you just heard. Thought that was quite elegant.

And love finches, being fascinated with birds, evolution, and books like Gould's that @jberg mentioned. Fun Tuesday.

Frantic Sloth 3:03 PM  

@albatross shell 125pm Why, both, of course! Reluctantly agree about puns/jokes/sadomasochism. 😆

Great. Now I'm craving pizza.
This community is not for the weak-minded. I'm a goner.

@Z 232pm Not to be a jerk, but I think the answer is prostate cancer. Okay, to be a jerk.

TTrimble 3:33 PM  

(Perhaps best to leave various anonymopodes to their circular firing squad, but 2:05, the imperative you were fumbling for is "interpolate", since that is what you did by adding "what kind". Pro tip: stick to the clue as written. Or, interpolate to suit your fancy and then get the answer wrong. Your choice.)

What was that sweet little mathy dad joke -- was it Barbara S. (whom we miss! hope to see you soon!) who told it? Ah, found it (comments, September 28):

Noah released all the animals from the Ark and told them to go forth and multiply. Two snakes looked up at him and said, “We can’t multiply, we’re ADDERS.” Noah looked upon them with compassion and said, ”Fear not! I will build you a log table!”

Whatsername 3:47 PM  

@bocamp (1:53) Thanks for the clip. I noticed he said “plain cheese,” not just “plain.” That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

@Frantic (3:03) Craving pizza. Same here - even a PLAIN cheese would do nicely. 😂

GILL I. 3:57 PM  

Solved this while WAITING at the DMV to renew my driver's license. Took me two Frickin days on my computer and on the phone just to make an appointment. So I get there for my 9AM appointment only to be told they never heard of me. Sat on a chair filled with what felt like pine cones for 3 hours. I'm finally called and they tell me I don't need to take the written exam I studies for for two week. I almost cried. WHY NOT says I....." have a perfect driver's record....we just need a new picture." I wore make-up for the first time since last March and if my picture looks like hell, I'm moving back to Spain.
Oh....the puzzle. THIS WAS TUESDAY? I mean it was cool beans and all but dang, needed this in another slot.
OK, I'll start with BEERY. I've only been drunk once - and that was on anise. Should I call that aniseeery? I hate beer and I hate pizza. I love a SAUNA and an OTTER and TAOS and POLAR bears are cute. I like ABOVE/BELOW and I always knew how to WORK and PLAY.
ANNUL always reminds me of toilet paper.
Oye, Enrique....vale tu rompecabezas.....

Joe Dipinto 3:57 PM  

Pizza Crawl! NYC Edition

I remember the thing @burtonkd is talking about at 11:49. This isn't that —I think that one may have been in TimeOut Magazine— but it's another hunt for the perfect NYC slice. I don't personally have a favorite pizza joint, and I've never heard of Scarr's, the winner here.

Anonymous 4:28 PM  


and, of course, @Z

prove it! not one reputable source shows anything but the Northern Plains states being in the lead of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths on a per capita basis. like all the Red states, the Dakotans convinced themselves that Covid was only going to strike down Big Blue Coastal Cities. Cuomo warned y'all that, if you ignored what was learned in March and April in those Big Blue Coastal Cities (who had no warning, by the way), that you would have to pay the piper. you are.

if your neighbor's dog shits on your lawn, that's justification to shot the bastard (not the dog, of course). but you've the right to go around, infect as many neighbors as you want, kill a few in the process, in the furtherance of 'personal freedom'.

albatross shell 4:38 PM  

@bocamp said
"A polar opposite is the diametrically opposite point of a circle or sphere. It is mathematically known as an antipodal point, or antipode when referring to the Earth."

I suppose the antipodes are the ones who prefer plain octopi. No toppings.

Plain pizza is one with no extra toppings. This usually means with sauce and some cheese. The toppings can make up for a bad pizza. The more topplings you need to make it taste good the worse the pizza is. A plain slice should be delicious.

Earlier I joked about twisting ITERATION and SOTOSPEAK into POLAR OPPOSITES. It was not entirely a joke. Iterate means to utter repeatedly. SO TO SPEAK means you have described something in a new or or unusual way. Definitely some opposing action going on there.

chinch 5:48 PM  

That is so cool @mathgent 11.29am!

bocamp 5:51 PM  

@Whatsername 3:47 PM

Point taken! A "plain pizza" may be like the proverbial "box of chocolates": you never know what you're going to get. :) My Xmas wish list: that we all work to become more tolerant, starting with x-word clues/answers. There might just be more than one right interpretation. 😉

@albatross shell 4:38 PM

Ha ha; I don't have the math smarts to make such a statement. I was clever enough to quote it from Wikipedia, tho. LOL

Peace Rauhaa Paix 平和 Mír Frieden 和平 Pax Jàmm Bark 🕊

chinch 5:52 PM  

Di Fara Avenue J Brooklyn, hands down @burtonkd 11.49am

bocamp 7:05 PM  


Fri, Dec. 8, 1995

Peace Rauhaa Paix 平和 Mír Frieden 和平 Pax Jàmm Bark 🕊

Anonymous 8:18 PM  

Burtonkd.and chinch
The quest to eat a slice from every pizzeria in all five boroughs might just be the most noble pursuit a man can undertake (outside walking Camino de Santiago).
A couple of guys have done it. The pizza place on the Washington Heights/ Inwood border might be Pizza Palace. It’s at 121 Dyckman. Their slices are in fact good. The guys that man the counters always pleasant. It is a quintessential Big Apple neighborhood pizza place.
Difara is too, in its way. It is of course a victim of its own success. (Google their having to close for failing to pay taxes).
Their pies are great. Truly. But.... they can be a bit precious with toppings. And the attitude. At this point I’m not sure they’re the best pizza in Midwood, let alone Brooklyn.
Owing to the fact that there’s no chance this crowd can spoil it, the best slice in Brooklyn might be Lenny & John’s on Flatbush. Near avenue P. Just north of St Thomas’s.

Nancy 8:45 PM  

@Joe Dipinto 3:57 -- I started watching that mouth-watering pizza comparison video before dinner, but I got too hungry. So I finished watching it after dinner.

(Dinner was not pizza.)

Three complaints: 1) There wasn't a single pizza place on the UES sampled. Nor for that matter, on the UWS, which is my 2nd neighborhood. The closest place to where I live was on West 102nd St -- not exactly a stone's throw away.

Second complaint: The pizza reviewer likes the bottom of his pizza "crisp". I don't like crisp, because crisp too often means singed. Or even scorched. When a slice is re-heated for me, I always ask them to put it on foil and implore them NOT TO BURN THE CRUST. I don't want to see any black on the bottom at all. I hate a burnt taste. The reviewer complains when the crust is underdone. I prefer the crust underdone.

Three: The reviewer complains when there's too much cheese. The concept of too much cheese is to me like the concept of too much happiness.

Still, I had a wonderful time. Turns out I can look at pizza slices all day long.

Anoa Bob 9:11 PM  

Yesterday we had 34,black squares, today we get 40. That increase has a noticeable impact the solving experience, right?

No one thing was the inspiration for Darwin's theory of evolution. There were many things that led to his theory, some of them discoveries that he made himself during his voyage on the HMS Beagle and many of them ideas and discoveries of other scientists/naturalist.

Most of the samples that Darwin collected were sent back to Europe to be examined and cataloged there by experts in their respective fields. This included the finches from the Galápagos Islands. I don't think Darwin heard of them in detail until quite a while after the voyage was over and he had returned to England. I think Stephen J. Gould chose "The Beak of the Finch" as a good example of adaptation, a central idea of evolution.

Darwin kept a journal of his five-year circumnavigation and published them in The Voyage of the Beagle. Great travelogue, nothing technical at all, just an incredible adventure. Highly recommended.

GILL I. 9:36 PM  

Why am I the only person on this blog who doesn't like pizza? Is it because it's always greasy? Is it because the tomato sauce or whatever you call it comes out of a jar? Is it greasy pepperoni ? Is it because it gives me heartburn? What in the DEVILs name makes you like it? Even the cheese is greasy.....

Joe Dipinto 9:54 PM  

@Nancy – when I was in high school my friends and I *always* stopped at Tony's Pizzeria on E. 86th St. near the Lex Ave. subway entrance on the way home. The pizza probably wasn't anything special but we devoured it. I'm sure Tony's must be gone now.

Then at NYU it was Stromboli's on University Place and 12th St. Their slices were the best. I don't like a super-crispy crust but as the reviewer here said some crunch on the bottom is desirable. And I do *not* want too much cheese on a plain slice. That's what the "Extra Cheese" topping was invented for. Cheese/sauce ratio must be in balance.

Nancy 10:13 PM  

@Joe D -- When I was in grade school at PS 6, we always stopped in at what we called "the pizza place" on 86th near the subway. I don't know if it was Tony's back then -- probably not. Later on, but still many years ago, I did stop in at what was now called "Tony's." It was fine for schoolkids. But great it wasn't.

My favorite place was Original Ray's on, I think E. 76th and 2nd, but I had to already be in that neighborhood. Anyway, it's been gone for quite a while. Now, I usually order from Famiglia on 97th and Madison. They don't burn the crust; they don't use tomato sauce from a can, and they're generous with the cheese.

There was an overpriced place on a side street off Madison in the 90s for a while. It was said to be "gourmet". The crust was thin and crisp, tending towards scorched, the ingredients were sparse and the amount of cheese was Spartan. My comment about their pizza: "Not sinful enough." Pizza shouldn't be Spartan; it should be sinful.

@GILL -- Don't worry about it for a minute. You don't have to like pizza. You have other terrific qualities.

albatross shell 10:20 PM  

I think we have the same taste in pizza. Too much cheese on a plain slice can ruin it.
Also thanks for all your music links. Nausea was a song and video I did not know. Made my morning.

RooMonster 10:39 PM  

@Gill 9:36
The grease is what makes it good!

@Nancy 8:45
LOL! at your "never can be too much cheese".

Re: PLAiN pizza
No such animal, to me. It is a Cheese Slice if you just want a PLAIN slice of cheese pizza.

RooMonster Cheesey Guy

albatross shell 1:19 AM  

Cheese pizza is redundant.
What's next?
Sauce pizza??

Well maybe your from Chicago???

Unknown 6:36 AM  

Agreed iteration is a pure huh??!! right in the meat of puzzle yet.

cute border theme though.

Burma Shave 10:57 AM  


ASTUTE enough TO put PIERRE off guard.


thefogman 11:16 AM  

I had ANGEL for 5A and DEVIL for 68A until I solved 15A. Hell of a misdirect there. Not too HARD or EASY. ABOVE-average quality. Good work EHA.

rondo 12:17 PM  

SoOFL picks a nit with POLAROPPOSITE; well, diametricallyopposed doesn't fit, and for either one the grid isn't round. Close enough, since those phrases have come to mean as far apart as possible.

I agree with those (not OFL) who believe that the ITERATION clue is correct. Otherwise why bother??

The corners are WET, even DEWY.

One of my faves, Righteous Babe ANI DiFranco returns.

Not terribly EASY, ABOVE average for Tuesday.

spacecraft 12:41 PM  

As soon as I read the revealer clue I had the edges. That oughta make this one 67a, right? Not so fast (slow!). The INNIES gave me more trouble than I usually find on a Tuesday. I too was confused by the "definition" of ITERATION, plus having __TOSPE__ wasn't much help in parsing SOTOSPEAK. SW & NE were my last areas. So I agree with OFC's rating of medium-10a.

DOD is my heartthrob Sela WARD, honorable mention to @Rondo's: ANI DiFranco. What I learned: that the FINCH got OLD Charlie started on evolution, and that there actually exists a manufacturer "famous" for making...notebooks? Really?

"Hi there, Frosh. How can I help you?"
"I'd like a MOLESKINE notebook, please."
"Oh, sorry, we just sold the last one. But I have a lovely OTTERSKINE one."

Puh-leeze. Does it have paper in it? Gimme. Agree on the spelling of DITSY. All in all an impressive debut. Birdie.

leftcoaster 3:46 PM  

A four-star puzzle for sure (five would be off the charts).

POLAROPPOSITES may be the official revealer, but the grid’s word-edges really made it work

Had DAccA before DAKAR and MAKO, and RHiNE before RHONE. The S in the MOLESKIN-SAMSA cross was the last letter in.

A bit tough for a Tuesday, making it more interesting and enjoyable.

Anonymous 4:55 PM  

I find it fascinating (others on this blog might not) that there is no official pronunciation for Moleskine. In English it is two syllables, in French it is three syllables, in Italian it is four syllables.
Fun with words!

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

Also, I have notebooks in which the "paper" is made from stone.
It is called repap.

Diana, LIW 9:15 PM  

Almost had a random @Rondo ala RANDO. Are they polar opposites? I think not.

Lady Di

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