Lover of Giorgetta in Puccini's Il Tabarro / THU 12-24-20 / What benchwarmers ride with the / High-quality French vineyard / Poker slang for three of a kind / Tract of low-growing vegetation

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Constructor: Billy Ouska

Relative difficulty: Medium (untimed)

THEME: CAN'T FIND THE TIME (52A: Is unable to get away, say ... or a hint to 17-, 24- and 40-Across?) — familiar phrases with "TIME" in them have "TIME" pulled out of them, creating wacky phrases, clued wackily (i.e. "?"-style):

Theme answers:
  • LET THE GOODS ROLL (17A: Spill a shipment of bowling balls?)
  • WAITS FOR NO ONE (24A: Works during a slow day at the restaurant?)
  • TAKE ONE'S SWEET (40A: Go on a date with a honeybun?)
Word of the Day: "Il Tabarro" (56A: French setting for Puccini's "Il Tabarro") —
Il tabarro (The Cloak) is an opera in one act by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Giuseppe Adami, based on Didier Gold [nl]'s play La houppelande. It is the first of the trio of operas known as Il trittico. The first performance was given on 14 December 1918 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. (wikipedia) 
The scene is Michele's barge on the Seine, in a corner of Paris. Giorgetta, Michele's young wife, is in love with Luigi, a longshoreman hired by her husband during the loading of the barge. Michele, by mere accident, guesses the truth. Having overheard his wife giving a rendezvous to Luigi by night, Michele waits for the man, surprises him as he jumps on the barge, seizes him by the neck, compels him to admit he is his wife's lover and strangles him. Then he hides the body under his cloak, and when Giorgetta, in mortal fear, comes on deck and asks Michele if he does not wish her to come and rest near him under his cloak—for, according to the text, “every man carries a cloak, hiding sometimes a great joy, sometimes a terrible sorrow”—her wronged husband throws it open and Giorgetta utters a shriek of horror as her lover's body rolls at her feet. (
• • •

Not for me at all. This is the kind of theme where the wackiness really has to land perfectly, and this one only does that once (WAITS FOR NO ONE, that's good). And with only two other examples of the theme, there's no way to recover. It's an OK concept, but the execution was a let-down. The grid overall was pretty dull, and the cluing was just my bad luck, i.e. nothing that seemed very interesting to me, and a lot that didn't. I do want to single out the clue on HAT TRICK as particularly good (4D: Series of goals). A HAT TRICK is when you score three goals in a game (typically in hockey ... at least that's the context in which I've heard the term). But the clue is worded in such a way that makes you think of tasks or life goals, so when I couldn't make BUCKET LIST fit, I was stumped. Always nice to be mad at a clue only to have it turn out to be clever in an undeniable way. But most of this grid is just filler. Short dull stuff. Hard even to find a suitable Word of the Day today. AMBER / ALERTS was way too grim for me, to be honest. Something about the playfulness of the whole split-answer thing ([With 5-Down, etc.]) is really really really at odds with the answer itself. If you clued AMBER as [___ Alerts] or ALERTS as [Amber ___] I would wonder why, why in the world you were dragging child abduction into the grid for absolutely no reason. And in a grid with PREDATOR? Yeesh. 

Some of the clues just seemed obnoxious to me. The one on BRIDES, for instance (23D: There are more of these in the U.S. in October than any other month, surprisingly). First, ugh, trivia. Second, what's "surprising" is that "October" gives you absolutely zero information. I was expecting something ironic due to the Octoberness of it all. That wouldn't made sense, just as it would've made sense if the clue had actually included "not June"—then yes, that would've been surprising, and there would've been *some* hint (but not too obvious a hint) as to what the clue was getting at. You need the "surprising" part, the part that touches the point of it all, in the clue. Without "not June," this clue flops. I am terrible at [Word with X or Y]-type clues. Just awful. Today, no different. SLIDE?? LOL sure. Couldn't think of a single word that would go with "tackle," but SLIDE, sure, soccer, OK. I honestly thought SLIDE rule here referred to the rule in baseball about what defines a legal slide (nothing that could seriously harm a fielder, essentially). But of course a SLIDE rule is a ye olden measurement thing I've actually never seen. Like an abacus, as I understand it.

One last thing re: yesterday's puzzle. I have heard from a couple people that the DQS clue (26A: Blizzards are produced in them, familiarly) was OK because the theme was "weather." I cannot stress enough how wrong this is. The point is, you can't have an initial in your answer that stands for a word that appears elsewhere in the grid, and you *especially* can't do that when the initial *crosses* said word (as DQS, meaning Dairy QUEENs, was crossing QUEEN yesterday). The weatherness of the DQS clue is totally beside the point. First of all, DQS wasn't a themer. Second, sure, you can weather up all the non-theme clues you like in your weather puzzle, go to town, but you can't dupe a word like that. Cannot. I'm not making this up. I've seen editors scrub far less obvious dupes than this one. If they are careful, they pay close attention to these things. The idea that "Q" can't both stand for "queen" and *cross* QUEEN, that is not some random opinion. Here's a random opinion: poker clues suck (see 39A: Poker slang for three of a kind = TRIPS). That one's all mine. Precisely zero editors are gonna care about that opinion. But the duping thing, that's careless / bad editing. If you watched the solving video, you saw how fast Rachel reacted to the DQS / QUEEN crossing. No hesitation. Because everyone who works in the world of crosswords knows you can't do that. The fact that the theme was weather-related couldn't be less relevant. Doesn't justify the dupe at all. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk. Merry Christmas Eve.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


JOHN X 6:54 AM  

I really liked this puzzle. It wasn't the hardest Thursday (my favorite day)but it was a good Thursday puzzle.

I haven't commented here in a few days because I felt under the weather and I was scared. Finally I went to the doctor and good news! I don't have the Covid, I only have syphilis.

So even though I'm a day late and a dollar short, I'd like to share something with you. Two days ago the word FLANGE appeared in the NYTX puzzle and made a small splash in the comments here.

Here's Dr. Richard Feynman (Nobel Prize in Physics, 1965) explaining how flanged railroad wheels work.

Railroad Wheels Explained

Happy Festivus!

Anonymous 6:58 AM  

Issue an AMBER ALERT(s) to CATCH the PREDATOR and make him a FELON, complete with MUGShot. Take no RISK that he'll be one who ESCAPES. And good RIDDANCE!

RTWhite 6:59 AM  

CANTFINDTIME a much better (and more accurate) revealer. Too bad MORRIS DAY couldn't have made an apapearance in this crossword!

Z 7:00 AM  

One more themer complaint, it’s always your own sweet time that you take. As in “Rex is taking his own sweet time to get the blog posted this morning.” I see the dictionaries accept both phrases, but my ears sure don’t so that was a hard one for me. How is “own” operating in that sentence? No idea, is “emphatic possessive” a thing? But that’s the phrase I know.

Anyone else wonder why Giorgetta was lovers with a plumber? Donkey Kong as a basso makes sense, though.

Break dancing is going to be an Olympic sport. Ultimate has sporadically tried to be an Olympic sport for decades. There are parts of the Ultimate community SPINning and spitting about Break Dancing beating us to it.

Let them brush your rock and roll hair.

Dogfish 7:04 AM  

Enjoyed this one - and not just because I was substantially (13m) faster at my first Thursday puzzle than yesterday's! Perhaps in several years I'd MOAN at this grid, but it was a nice one to SPIN around.

All three themers and the revealer worked for me, and the fill didn't provide too many walls (was able to guess LUIGI/SEINE, did originally have ROMP/READ in the North-West but that got fixed pretty swiftly).

NULL reminds me, I'm overdue for having a read through The Codeless Code - I think that'll make for a wonderful use of Christmas Eve. That, and perhaps a tipple or two...

Teedmn 7:10 AM  

Billy Ouska, this was a fine puzzle for a debut. Congratulations!

I got the theme at 17A but that didn't make the other two easy to suss out. It did make it easy to fill in TIME in the revealer but I still had the rest of the phrase to figure out.

Some nice cluing, especially for 23A's BALD and 45A's STATIC.

I liked this, thanks!

Everybody’s Token Black Friend 7:15 AM  

An abacus bears little resemblance to a slide rule. Engineers could not have used one to send astronauts to the moon.

Anonymous 7:17 AM  

Thanks. That was interesting.

Geezer 7:31 AM  

@Rex is right that only one theme answer works. WAITS FOR NO ONE makes wacky sense for the clue. "Find" Time and you have Time WAITS FOR NO ONE. But TAKE ONES SWEET makes no sense at all. "Find" Time and you have TAKE ONES SWEET Time, so just that part works. 17 A "Finds" Time in the middle of the phrase and makes it plural, making it an outlier.

The Joker 7:39 AM  

Who's Noone and why should I wait for him/her?

ChuckD 8:06 AM  

A little light in the theme for a Thursday - I dropped down to the revealer early and got that quickly. The cut up grid created some choppy corners with meh fill. I’ll pass on the ARIA x AREA cross and the top and bottom center blocks with BIO, EGO and NEA were rough. Liked HAT TRICK and actually thought the GOOD x RIDDANCE cross was cool even with the clue dupe.

Overall a decent solve - but was looking for a little more sparkle on this Christmas Eve.

amyyanni 8:07 AM  

"Can't Find the Time" is a song by Orpheus and the local band that played at high school dances in my youth closed with it. (It's a slow song.) So now I have that little tune as my companion today. And it beats both Blue and Holly Jolly Christmas!

TJS 8:11 AM  

@JohnX, congratulations on your syphillis diagnosis. Good to hear from you again.

My personal favorite Feynman story is attendance at a panel on the space shuttle disaster. While all the attendant Nsas experts were theorizing on the cause of the explosion, he quietly slipped one of the rubber seals, that had been dismissed as a possible cause of failure, into his glass of ice water. When it became his turn to offer an opinion, he took the seal out of the glass, tapped it wit a spoon, and it broke into pieces. Problem solved.

The puzzle ? Way to easy for a Thursday and no pizzazz to the cluing or fill. Is the cupboard that empty that Will can find no challenging entry by Thursday?

Enjoy the Holiday,y'all, as best as you are able.

mmorgan 8:17 AM  

I may be wrong, but I think the expression is more commonly TIME WAITS FOR NO man. I have zero problem with them making it gender neutral but I did have man, so for 10D I had SURE am. So it all made perfect sense except for the part about getting all the nearby relevant crosses to work.

SouthsideJohnny 8:34 AM  

Couldn’t get into any sort of a flow today, even after I (sort of) discerned the theme - which wasn’t so much an “aha” as it was a shrug. Had NiLL instead of NULL which gave me a plausible URDi for the foreign language - so a DNF there as well.

I never heard SILO used as a verb before, so that was pretty cool - as was the clue for HAT TRICK. Since the theme was kind of a dud, the rest of it just seemed like an appropriate Thursday-level slog without much payoff. Not terrible, just solidly in the “meh” category today.

pabloinnh 8:35 AM  

Saying I enjoyed this more than OFL is becoming as predictable as an OFL negative review, so I think I'll stop doing that unless the opposite happens. Unlikely.

As it turned out I solved this one from the bottom up and knew I was looking for a missing TIME in the answers, and that was fun enough for me. Especially liked the dangling S in 17A. Also I found the BRIDES in October "trivia" to be more interesting than trivial. Who knew? HATTRICK was my first guess when I had the CK on the end, so that made me feel smart. URDU is a fun word and I could sing you a lot of the MAMAS and he Papas.

All in all a fun Thursday, so thanks BO of the unfortunate initials. Very nice debut.

Merry Christmas tomorrow to all who celebrate and Happy Holidays to all. May your friends be merry and bright.

Also 2020-don't go away with the idea you're going to be missed.

RooMonster 8:37 AM  

Hey All !
I'm gonna say it, even though it gets the Heebie-Jeebies from some - This puz should've been switched with Yeterdays! *Ducks*

Perfect WedsPuz. Did someone's signals get crossed? And another debut. Congrats! Still living vicariously through debuters! (Since my "debutters"/"debuters" query went unanswered YesterComment, gonna decide myself that "debuter" is correct :-))

Anyway, decent puz for what it was. Took a minute to figure out where the TIME went (har) in WAITS FOR NO ONE. Sounded perfectly like a stand alone phrase. Eventually, I heard a rustling in the ole brain, and saw it goes on the front of the phrase. *Nit-pick Alert*, if you accidentally spill your Bowling Balls, are you really LETting them ROLL? Let here seems intentional, not accidental. *Ducks again*

Got a chuckle on the BALD clue. I'm sliding into the BALD range, as my hair has a Great Big Bald Patch at the back, plus inching towards connecting to the front/top. There are still a few hairs hanging on for dear life. It's a shame getting a hair cut! I feel like they are screaming to live!

Had my one-letter DNF (haven't had one in a while, am I getting better? Nah, probably just lucky), at ScONES/ScOICISM,. Har. What in tarhooties is ScOICISM? And overthought the STONES clue to thinking they must be called something more colorful than just plain STONES. But, when I got the Almost There!, I went back and actually found my mistake! Yay Me!

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! Leave out those milk and cookies, cause Santa isn't missing this Christmas. Y'all know Santa is magical, right? Ergo, he's immune to COVID.

Two F's

feinstee 8:38 AM  

Nice shout out to The Roches. Was just listening to that album the other day.
And oh yeah..the puzzle was just ok...and too mulany opera references.

frankbirthdaycake 8:46 AM  

Not a bad puzzle. Not my favorite either. It was easier for me than yesterday’s puzzle. It seems break-dancing moves are going to be part of our Olympic future, so we’d best familiarize ourselves with the terminologies. I think it will be more interesting than some of the recent winter-events, some of which, in my opinion – “Hey, instead of skateboarding down a bannister outside a public library in SoCal, let’s mount a bannister on a ski run and snowboard down it!” – are more Jackass than sport. Break dancers, in my experience, seem to take their art very seriously, and they work hard at it. Many years ago I saw break dancers compete (I believe) to save a shopping mall; so, I’m very happy to hear they’ll be competing (for real) for an Olympic medal.

@Z 0700: If the Ultimate folks contact the people who concocted the downhill-Jackass events, made up the rules, and got them into the Winter Olympics, all in the space of an hour and a half, I’m sure Ultimate will find its way in, at least in some form. It might involve someone snowboarding down a bannister and catching a frisbee while touching a giant iron-ball and chugging Mega Monster Energy, and it might be called “Extreme Ultimate!”, but it will be there.

Happy Holidays to all, Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and a happy and healthy new year to all. Be safe; be happy; be healthy!

bocamp 8:49 AM  

@Billy, very nicely put together; really liked the theme!

Very quick Thurs. solve.

"Twelve Thirty" - The Mamas & The Papas

@A Moderator 9:49 PM (last evening) - Thank you for your thoughtfulness! 😊

Peace πŸ•Š

Joe Dipinto 8:56 AM  

@amyyanni – I didn't think anyone else would remember that song. It got some airplay in the northeast mainly, I think (Orpheus was out of Boston), in the spring of 1968, but it didn't do well nationally. Always liked it. ba da da da dah dah dah...

KRMunson 8:58 AM  

Too easy for a Thursday. Took me half the time of Wednesday’s puz.

KRMunson 9:00 AM  

Too easy for a Thursday. Took me half the time of Wednesday’s puz.

Z 9:17 AM  

@The Joker - Everyone who is anyone knows who NOONE is.*

@TJS - Nice story but the truth is actually a bit more mundane. It’s actually worse because Feynman was after the fact and NASA had already been warned before the disaster. The link provides a fine example of the dangers associated with SILOing (“take off their engineering hats and put on their management hats”).

@frankbirthdaycake - 🀣🀣🀣 - Maybe if we found a role for a Russian Judge it would help, too. Personally, the entire endeavor reminds me of the old saw, “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.”

*B&W Ed Sullivan video for the win!

Barsk 9:19 AM  

I know you don't love poker clues, Rex, but pls hear me out. Forget, for a moment, the tough-guy, booze-drinking, old west stereotype. In reality, poker and crosswords share many qualities. Both are highly deductive - one must act/reason with imperfect information. Both, oddly enough, are mathematical, but not in the traditional sense. I know many poker players who love crosswords, and vice versa.

chuck w 9:20 AM  

Could someone explain 19 down:"silos" for "separates"?
I thought the puzzle was cute. And I thought "Let the goods roll" was pretty funny.

The Joker 9:28 AM  

Totally Awesome!

Anonymoose 9:32 AM  

@chuck w. This is my take. Silos stand separately from barns. Not that confident but it's good enough for me.

RooMonster 9:48 AM  

"Things we're thankful"

Well, small amounts, anyway. (Sorry to those offended)
(But if addiction is not factored in, it does help some people cope)
Like today/tonight, take it easy! If you're going to imbibe, Don't Drive!! Keep your wits up! Don't piss off family members!


kitshef 9:52 AM  

I can’t actually come up with a way that AREA = concentration.

Last time duck face appeared in a puzzle, I had not idea what it meant. This time … the same.

HAT TRICK has taking on a general meeting of three scores in a single game, but it used to be reserved for three consecutive scores in a single game.

ColoradoCog 9:58 AM  

Anybody else cringe at NULL being clued as “Zero”?

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Silos usually refer to organizations. In large corporations, or other large organizations, such as the US Intelligence Community (16! different agencies, 8 within the DoD), silos refer to groups who are isolated from each other, not communicating or consulting with each other, and coming to potentially disastrous conclusions or taking unwise action. Somewhat related to ivory towers.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

@RTWhite Totally agree! If the revealer says "Can't find THE time" then the words "THE time" should be included in each themed answer.

Large Ruby 10:08 AM  

@kits - think of an AREA of expertise (something you would have to concentrate on to become efficient).

SILO would be to separate something due to similar qualities or characteristics - say putting all of the red, white and blue marbles into different piles.

As for me, I have no idea what “break dancing” is, but it does seem like the Olympics are becoming the X-games.

Sports Guy 10:09 AM  

HAT TRICK means 3 scores by the same player in one game, mainly in hockey and soccer.

Hungry Mother 10:16 AM  

I found this one harder than it should have been. The themers were easy and there weren’t so many names, but the clues were tricky. Very nice challenge, but no rebus because we had that yesterday.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

Area of study (like your "major" in college).

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

Make a face (for the camera) = mugs.

Joaquin 10:20 AM  

Liked this one a lot more than @Rex.

I enjoy learning new words from solving crosswords and today I learned that SILOS can be a verb. For learning that bit of info I celebrated by stretching a quadricep and awarding the puzzle an EGOT.

Nancy 10:22 AM  

Wonder how many of you had the idee fixe that I had when I hit 17A? I was sure that the 19 square would be an "X" as in X for TIMES. But what are XILOS?

I didn't write it in; I just left the square blank.

I couldn't see any missing Xs in WAITS FOR NO ONE or TAKE ONE'S SWEET either.

When I got to the revealer and all was made clear, I was charmed.

Other nice stuff: I learned that most weddings are held in October in what was a great clue for BRIDES. The best clue for BALD (23A) that has ever been or probably ever will be. Fabulous clue for STATIC (45A). Bet you were thinking OHM, right?

"Rides the PINE" is new to me. Will I ever remember that a baby rabbit is a KITTEN?
And that must be one very wet Puccini opera (56A).

This one was a lot of fun.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

HAT TRICK is cute, but there's no requirement that they be in *series*, i.e. a team's three goals all in a row by the same player, can, and usually are, interspersed with goals from other players. One could look up how many HAT TRICKs (4 or 5 or... goals as well) constituted the team's score.

STATIC, could be, not resistance, but electric discharge, of course.

URDU is mainly a Pakistani language, and nearly exclusive to Muslims. Fun fact: the Taj Mahal is a Muslim temple.

Molasses 10:23 AM  

@chuckw - Silos keep one type of grain separate from another; in management-speak, silos keep information separate in a bad, inefficient way.

@kitshef - Area of study = concentration. Ditto on duck face last time but I discovered a slew of images online (maybe Kardashians were involved) and now I can't unsee them. You have been warned.

emily 10:26 AM  

Thank you.

Hungry Mother 10:28 AM  

Just the other day I reminded my forty-something daughter that we used to leave a glass of red wine and a Christmas cookie for Santa. After the kids went to bed, I sat among the presents for my annual Christmas picture wearing a red shirt and drinking the wine. I always ate half of the cookie. If I were doing that today, I’d be drinking oat milk. Things change.

JD 10:28 AM  

@Chuck W. and Anonymoose, I remember "siloed" being a business consultant term back in the 90s or there abouts during the teamwork-solves-all-problems mania.

If people were "siloed" they weren't working in teams, and lost an opportunity to have endless meetings where the team argued about what needed to be done.

There are no photos from that period because they all turned out to be so grainy.

I cry foul on theme inconsistency once again today. In step with the rest of the themers, 17A reads Lets The Goods Time Roll. Otherwise, you have to lop off the S nudge it to the side and insert Time.

You can Take Your Own Sweet Time to think about that but I'm moving on (@Z, that's how I've always interpreted the Own ... the situation calls for expediency and umma do it if quickly even if you aren't).

mathgent 10:29 AM  

TIME bomb.

Most of the themers are duds, with without TIME.


Surely Will had something better in his Thursday pile.

jae 10:33 AM  

Medium. Cute and just about right for a Thursday. My only real problem was SortS > SiftS > SILOS. The rest of the crunch came from trying to make sense of the theme answers. Liked it. Another fine debut!

Richard 10:38 AM  

I gulped when Rex said that he'd never seen a slide rule. Just makes me feel old. Back in the day those of us in high school calculus used to ostentatiously walk around with a slide rule case on our belts (a pocket-protector, too). Many of us didn't really know how to use them very well, but it sent some sort of sick message. We boys were the equivalent of mean girls. And no, Rex, they're not really like abacuses (abaci?). Nowadays, high-schoolers (lots more girls than in olden times) take their graphing calculators into their SAT exams. I suspect that neither of my grandsons knows the times tables. Times have changed, sometimes even for the better.

Liked the puzzle, but still don't get the "S" at square 19; I had "X" -- for the missing TIMES.

57stratocaster 10:40 AM  

I remember it as "riding the pineS".
No problem with "time waits for no one" v "no man", it's a Rolling Stones song to me more than a literary quote.

MarthaCatherine 10:43 AM  

With one or two letters in place, I decided 23D was cRImES. Yep, that's surprising for October all right. Thought maybe criminals revved it up when the whether cooled but wasn't too cold for wrongdoing and malfeasance.

And then I had SUREam for 10D, which gave me WAITSFORNOman for 24A--which didn't for 1 nanosecond seem wrong--and SLImE for 35A, which seemed all kinds of silly, but what the hell, maybe there are things called slime rules and slime tackles. All of this made 23A read "I knew I was getting cALa..." which is just absurd and which made the whole middle of the right side impossible. Had to come here to see how many ways I'd messed up.

Big DNF for me but not a waste of TIME.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

silo wasn't just a 90s idea. it got most of the blame for 9/11. DHS/DNI was supposed to cure the problem. not so much. where are the NSA tapes of The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) and his minions chatting with Russians? :)

Nancy 10:54 AM  

@Hungry Mother (10:28) -- Your Santa/wine/you story is hilarious. Good excuse for a most pleasant Christmas eve, HM.

Newboy 10:57 AM  

Nice to see the parade of new constructor names as the debuts continue. Exactly what we needed for our Covid Christmas.

Clues for 8D & 19D were a stretch and an S instead of the O to finish the TRIPS theme phrasing I had expected after TIMES and TAKES above used the S....too much to quibble? Having been separated from the ivory tower for a couple decades, I truly needed the SILOS explained as it would have bugged me all dayπŸ₯΄

Thanks @JohnX for another great video series connection—more fun than the spat of Christmas specials that it’s difficult to avoid this season.

Whatsername 11:05 AM  

First of all, compliments to Mr. Ouska on his NYT debut!

This was a well done Thursday and I always enjoy the missing word themes. The bowling ball clue was my favorite. Maybe I’m just cranky from travel but a few entries bruised my crossword EGO a bit. I’ve played poker and heard threes called treys but never TRIPS. Apparently SLIDE tackle is a soccer thing which is completely foreign to me. And I thought benchwarmers rode the bench but didn’t know it was made of PINE. Oh well. LET THE GOOD X ROLL anyway.

@amyyanni: I’ve been off blog for several days but wanted to say congrats on your debut puzzle. I enjoyed it immensely.

I’ve done my downsized family thing and am thankful to be back home again. It was four of us in a rural community where the infection level is extremely low, but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that everyone stays well. My niece out of state is dealing with Covid and will be having a FaceTime Christmas with her kids. So count your blessings and have a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.

Nancy 11:09 AM  

So today, quite concerned about his syphilis, I was inspired to click on @JOHN X's blog profile. He may call himself John X, but he's made it pretty easy for us to find out eXactly who he is. I did a little bit of not-very-difficult sleuthing (not for nothing did I once run Mystery Guild, but any of you could do this very easily too) and, presto, his CV came right up, complete with a photo. Very impressive, John X!! And nice photo too!

Frantic Sloth 11:14 AM  

Thanks for the Roches, Rex. Such memories! A little taste for the holidays
And for anyone curious, the Wiki

I liked the puzzle and the theme a little more than Rex, but not much.

The whole AMBER ALERT "flourish" made my skin crawl. And here came that giant cosmic vacuum to suck all the joy out of the solve. Seriously. Ew.

Still there was curling to be had (which is always fun for me!) with STONE.

And the quip by Harry Hill was fun-ny.

Not bad for a NYTXW debut, but maybe a little less morbid next time.

Here's hoping the comments provide some cheer.


Frantic Sloth 11:16 AM  

(Looks like I had to re-post my original comment because of a "tag issue" I missed. Classic.)

Thanks @John X I'll never ride a train again. πŸ˜† However, your mention of Festivus makes it all jinky!

@Anon 658am And a delightful grid-sourced story to raise my spirits to new, dizzying heights! Thank you, too! πŸ˜‰

These are the comments to cheer me up?? 🀣🀣🀣 (Oddly enough, they do.)

@Z 700am Plumbers make the coin, baby! And at least LUIGI is the taller one. (You should like that. 😘)

@Joker 739am. No no. Time waits for noone. You are free to roam and crack wise. Thankfully. πŸ˜‰

@pabloinnh 835am πŸ‘πŸ‘ Especially your closing statements. Thank you. 😊

@Roo, hair murderer guy 837am Happy to see that you've got all your *ducks* in a row. πŸ˜‰ Excuse me - my ride's here.

@amyanni and @J-Dip, Wow! I remember that song (thanks for the reminder link, Joe)! Did I recognized its name or that of the band? Of course not. πŸ™„

@kitshef 952am If you never trust another soul about anything in your life, you must trust me on this: you do *not* want to know what "duck face" (or "duck lips") is.

@JD 1028am Bu-dum-tss! Now get outta here! 🀣🀣

Judy Collins 11:20 AM  

I'm happy to have "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" as my earworm.

pmdm 11:23 AM  

kitshef is quite correct. I suppose fans wanted more opportunity to throw their hats onto the ice, so by fan consent the original definition of a hat trick morphed into something easier to accomplish. I think the original meaning of hat trick is now referred to as a "natural hat trick."

There is a difference between a rule and a convention that's been generally agreed upon. Mike apparently confuses the difference or refuses to acknowledge it. The clue yesterday may have not observed a convention but it did not break a universal rule, only conventions enforced by crossword editors. And conventions are meant to be broken in my opinion.

I responded quite positively to today's puzzle. As is often the case, I find it a bit sad that so many fine solvers are more particular about the puzzles than they are. While I don't expect everyone to be as upbeat as Lewis, I'm sorry that so many seem to react irately to a puzzle whose job essentially is to entertain a broad swath of solvers. No matter, if I don't come back here till next week I offer sincere wishes of happiness during this holiday season to all who come here. And holiness to those who are religious observants.

TTrimble 11:28 AM  

Agree with @feinstee about the shout-out to The Roches -- I'd been revisiting them a lot recently. (Rex does seem to have a lot of music at his fingertips -- or is it mainly the magic of Google?) Here's one I like: Losing True. With Robert Fripp accompanying, as he does on many of their tracks.

***Off-topic about Feynman; cf. posts by @John X, @TJS, @Z***

Feynman [pronounced like Fine-man, not Fain-man], the legendary physicist, tells the story of the Challenger disaster in considerable detail in his book What Do You Care What Other People Think? He had picked up the scent about the o-ring almost immediately after being tapped for the investigative committee (although he credits General Zumwalt, also on the committee, for planting the idea in his head). Here's a brief clip of Feynman before the cameras with the o-ring sample. He doesn't tap it with a spoon and have it shatter; he'd just bent it a little, after having dunked it in ice water, to show how at a certain temperature it won't bend back right away to maintain a seal, thus enabling gas to leak. But he did pick the right moment in the hearings (again with some coaching from Zumwalt) to stage his simple physical demonstration, and his execution had to be precise to be effective. It was a turning point in the public understanding.

***End off-topic***

SLIDE rule like an abacus -- hee! No, abaci have been around much, much longer. Slide rules are based on logarithms, which have been around since the 1600's. They're sort of unpowered analog instruments that you can use to multiply and divide quickly. It's too bad they're obsolescent, because they help instill great number sense (often lacking in today's students). I used to have some, and wish I still did. There's no way in hell I could ever get Rex to be interested. (Poor guy.)

About the puzzle: not much to add to comments by others. I will note that the actress who plays EMMA in the 2020 film is the same one who plays Beth Harmon in The Queen's Gambit.

Birchbark 11:28 AM  

SLIDE rules are fun.

DQ dogma -- DQS actually can cross QUEEN. People who know say you can't, but you can. Galileo proved the corollary with a telescope, on discovering the moons of Jupiter and concluding that the earth orbits the sun. Twas house arrest for him after that, of course -- and so might it be in CrossWorld for the hapless DQ-QUEEN crosser. Take courage, constructors, and know you have friends who will support you when the need arises.

TAKE ONE'S SWEET [...] -- is what I'm doing now. Because hitting the "Publish" button it means piling on extra layers and out into the sub-zero (sub-sub-zero wind chill) to plow the big snowdrifts off of the driveway. Watching the vortices of howling snow blast around last night and listening to the house withstand it was rare. I like the cold, and I like plowing snow, so why am I putting it off?

@John X (6:54) -- Thank you for the FLANGE report.

Nice Roches tune, @Rex. And so enough -- now to the fun.

GILL I. 11:32 AM  

I had a devil of a TIME getting into the right place at the right TIME with this Thursday crunch TIME. Did I mention essence?
So TRIPS is poker slang? A HAT TRICK isn't a little KITTEN being pulled out by its ears? A SILO doesn't hold grain? And lookeehere....Bette Davis won Best Actress TWICE....Wow. I can't help but wonder how you make a duck face. Do you quack into the camera? Do you waddle to and fro? Zero is NULL? as in null and void?
I wasn't on Billy's PINE either. Ooof de ooof.
When I finally got to the reveal, I wanted to have the TiME of my life by shouting a big AHA. I sorta did because then I could go back and fill in the blanks.
I am now pressed for TIME since the kids are coming over and I need to get the bread and the cherry pie out of the oven. Stay safe everyone......Merry Merry to all of you.

Crimson Devil 11:32 AM  

Certainly was. Thanks.

bigsteve46 11:33 AM  

Well, I really liked this one. A little easy, but what the heck, its Christmas and we can all use a little gift. Also - no rap groups, Game of Thrones crap, Tolkien, Star Wars - right down my boring, grumpy-old-man alley. I'm sure there will be plenty on Friday and Saturday to offend my sensibilities. Right now, wife and I, in compliance with good public health and common sense, face an Xmas alone; alas, i.e., facing only each other which, trust me on this - from her viewpoint, is not a pleasant sight. But (although this would work better for Easter) we all have our crosses to bear. Merry Christmas to one and all!!

TTrimble 11:34 AM  

Oh yeah, sorry, I was also going to say that this also could have been an appropriate song to link to for the puzzle.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

Anon 10:23
On the contrary, a Hat trick properly understood is in series. The term comes from cricket, and it refers exclusively to taking three wickets on three successive deliveries.
It has been corrupted by other sports to include any trio of successes. But that’s a back formation. Meaning it’s just a corruption used by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

kitshef 11:41 AM  

@Large Ruby 10:08 - I did think of that, but it didn't work for me. You would say "AREA of expertise", but you would never say "concentration of expertise".

@Anonymous 10:17 - I did think of that, but it didn't work for me. You would say "AREA of study", but you would never say "concentration of study".

@Molasses 10:23 - "AREA of study" = "concentration", but "AREA of study" does not equal "concentration of study".

Z 11:43 AM  


The problem is that this is unlike the other themers because the other TIMEs don’t have an S in the original phrase.

@JD - lost an opportunity to have endless meetings where the team argued about what needed to be done. πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

@Barsk - I don’t suppose this is the origin of your nom de blog.?

mathgent 11:48 AM  

The excellent SF Giant broadcaster Mike Krukow uses this line when one of the other team strikes out. "Grab some pine, Meat!"

Z 12:09 PM  

HAT TRICK and even more about HAT TRICK. Red Wing fans are familiar with the Gordie Howe HAT TRICK (a goal, an assist, and a fight).

@kitshef - My AREA was comparative governments - my concentration was comparative governments.

@TTrimble - Great minds (I linked to the Cars in my first post).

Gene 12:11 PM  

Fully agreeabout Q/QUEEN, shocked that anyone could disagree. But the quote is "Time and tide wait for no man", regardless of hiw much we would like to update it. And adding "not June" to the clue would be a complete giveaway, IMO.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

@Whatsername. You are right that a 3 is often called a trey but the clue refers to 3 of a kind, meaning 3 of any card. A triple, or "TRIPS"

Chip Hilton 12:33 PM  

@amyyanni and @Joe Dipinto: I, too, immediately thought of the beautiful Orpheus track. I was in a rock group in the late ‘60’s and we did a cover of it, easily our favorite song upon which to harmonize. We could have used the Orpheus’ orchestral performers to juice our version up.
The last time we sang it? At my wedding reception, with my bride beaming in a front row seat.

Fun puzzle which provided little resistance once 52A. fell. MAMAS stumped me for a bit as I was running duos of the period through my head. Anybody remember Joe & Eddie? Loved them.

Congrats, Billy Ouska.

Stay safe everybody in the northeast! Crazy timing for a real nasty wind and rain storm!

Unknown 12:37 PM  

I remember seeing old 1930s photos of Maple Leaf Gardens of a large ad from a local milliner offering a free hat to any player scoring 3 goals. Hence the origin of the term. All gentlemen wore hats back then until president Kennedy made them obsolete by not wearing one. My father had a closet full of hat boxes!

Malsdemare 12:46 PM  

It appears that by the time I get here, I have little to add to the discussion about the puzzle, but lots to say to fellow bloggers. @roo, thank you for your daily tributes to all the things that are good these days. They are a great reminder that all is not lost and life as we know it is not over. At least not yet.

@JohnX, my engineer partner and I love the Feyman train explanation (and the story of the infamous O-rings). I’m going to follow @Nancy’s example and do some sleuthing on you. And I may have to explore Feyman’s YouTube series some more.

To all of you who’ve brightened my day and added to my knowledge (even though it flees my brain as soon as it flits in, rather like a boomerang) for the past year, I hope you have a peaceful holiday filled with love, laughs, good food, and, if you so choose, good spirits—wine or otherwise.

Carola 12:49 PM  

An appropriate theme for this "What day is it again?" Covid TIME. A "medium" for me, and engaging to solve, albeit with a couple twinges of crankiness at ONE instead of "man" in 24A (hi, @mmorgan) and the missing "own" before SWEET (hi, @Z) and some dismay at what seemed like an overload on the criminality front (see @Anonymous 6:58). I took refuge in STOICISM and KITTEN.

Unknown 12:53 PM  

Yes. Ugh. Null is the absence of a value, Zero is itself a value. Sloppy to use them interchangeably.

Joe Dipinto 1:01 PM  

Looks like I got stuck in 1968. Some psychedelia (the short version).

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Null is the absence of a value, Zero is itself a value. explicitly includes 0 in the definition, in particular for maths.
the wiki agrees

the only context where NULL is 'no value' is in some versions of SQL; not every RDBMS guru agrees that NULL belongs in the RM.

burtonkd 1:21 PM  

Since Rex brought it up again: Sure, everyone in Xworld knows that you don't duplicate words. That Rachel also spotted it and reacted strongly is immaterial since she has been well coached from being around Rex to jump all over this. It is also a rule that rules are made to be broken. (It is also a rule not to follow that last one haphazardly). Hence the argument that the blizzard clue on a weather day might justify breaking the rule.

I will not go down comparing the quality of yesterday's puzzle to the works of J.S. Bach, yet: Every composer in his time knew not to have separate voices move in parallel fifths or octaves, yet he found justification to do just that in many of his masterworks.

If you only adhere to a rule, and refuse any deviation, then sure throw Bach to the wolves.

Jonathan Brown 1:45 PM  


frankbirthdaycake 1:47 PM  

Rumor has it the Olympic committee plans to install an East German judge – don’t ask how – for Extreme Ultimate!, when it becomes official in 2024. It will serve to educate millennials in one of America’s proudest Olympic traditions: muttering “We got screwed by the East German judge!”

Guilherme Gama 1:48 PM  

It occurred to me that Luigi would be the patter baritone from a Gilbert and Sullivan opera and I can't get that image out of my head.

MarthaCatherine 1:50 PM  

Every time that Orpheus song is mentioned, I am nagged and nagged by some other song that it reminds me of. I finally remembered:

Cherish by The Association, circa 1966.

O’Gie 2:01 PM  

Run over - read? Cmon

Masked and Anonymous 2:03 PM  

Hardly a WAIST of TIME. More of a TIME-warp type of puztheme experience. Schlocky … Like.
Thought @Nancy had a cool idea-fixer-upper with X = TIMES … I think I've actually seen that sorta X mcguffin used once in a puz, somewhere someTIME.

staff weeject pick: ESS. This just screams plural all over the place, without exactly bein plural. Nice ESS clue selfie-ref, btw.

Stuff M&A had to tussle with an extra might: Duck face. LUIGI. AREA clue. SILOS clue. SLIDE tackle [did know SLIDE rule, no problemo, tho]. Settins for most operas [yo, 56-Across].
Sparkly puz ornaments: KITTEN. RIDDANCE [did sport that "Good" word in its clue, while at the same TIME crossin GOOD in a themer answer, tho]. HATTRICK. URDU.

Thanx for yer TIME and energy, Billy Ouska dude. We enjoyed bein Ouskateers for a day. And congratz on this here NYTPuz debut.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

Merry Christmas Eve & Happy Holidays to all the Comment Gallery folks and @RP plus anyone out there wearin a mask. Especially a mask while makin a duck face.


jberg 2:20 PM  

I thought the theme was fine. I would have preferred something about calling TIME OUT or taking TIME OFF, but they would be too short, padding them to get more length would be inelegant.

OK, SLIDE rules: it's true that an abacus is not exactly like a slide rule, just as the latter is not exactly like an electronic calculator. But all three are alike if that they are calculating devices. (Similarly, a ferry is like a subway as being a means of urban transit.) But people are missing the real howler in @Rex's writeup:"But of course a SLIDE rule is a ye olden measurement thing ..." He thinks they are for measuring, rather than calculating. I mean, why shouldn't he? But still -- I've still got one in my drawer, in case we ever have a power failure. But I drive a stick shift, too, so that's just me.

I've seen and heard a lot of operas, but never 'Il Tabarro," and two different clues from it seems a bit much to me. Fortunately, I worked down from the top, so when I got AMBER ALERTS I "knew" I was looking for a 5-letter Itlian man's name starting with L, and LUIGI was all that I could think of. Thank the gods that he put "French" in the clue for 56A, so I didn't put in Milan. Then I got STOICISM, which ruled our Paris (and Loire, but I didn't think of that at the time), and all that was left was SEINE.

Putting the lost TIME (Hey! You could use Proust for the revealer!) in the middle of GOODS was a feature, not a bug, IMO.

old timer 2:24 PM  

I thought this was a lovely puzzle, and OFL's comments today were more than usually jejune. It took some TIME to figure out the theme, but when I did, the themers were all admirable.

Now, the HAT TRICK is an old cricket term, referring to a bowler who puts three consecutive batsmen out in an innings. Predates the use of the term in ice hockey, and apparently the bowler who performed the HAT TRICK was awarded a new hat by the team management, or, for amateur cricket, the Committee in charge. However, the hat awarded was not necessarily a bowler! One of those words with vastly disparate meanings: A bowler hat was originally made by a firm of hatters called Bowler. The cricket equivalent of a baseball pitcher is a "bowler" because he bowls the ball at the opponent's wicket (hopefully not a sticky one). The ball must bounce on its way to the wicket. Yet the same term is also used in lawn bowling, at pins, which became alley bowling, an indoor sport. Nine pins in New England, ten somewhat different pins in the rest of the USA.

And of course, bowl itself has the meaning of a container, including a punch bowl, and a fancy bowl for drinks is awarded (and seldom used for drinks) to the winners of some athletic contests. In football, Auburn and Clemson and USC might be said to be teams that go bowling almost every year.

I natter on, but don't we all, in these times.

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

Old timer,
No. There’s no rule that a ball must bounce for it to be a legal delivery. In fact, there’s a term for a delivery which doesn’t : full toss.
The reason bowlers bounce the ball, usually, is to impart spin making the batsman’s task more difficult.
Every once in a while you bowl short, purposefully bouncing the ball well before the batsman in order to have the ball rear up near the batsman’s head. Kind of like a brushback in baseball.

Whatsername 2:56 PM  

@Anon (12:33) Oh a triple! Well now it makes sense. Thanks!

Kathy 3:00 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle but found it pretty easy for a Thursday, so I’ll consider it a Christmas gift!

@JohnX, Lifelong railroad geek here. Thank you for the You Tube link! I guess it was only right that I ended up commuting three hours a day to NYC on the Long Island Railroad for almost 25 years. I used to puzzle over how the wheels managed to stay on the tracks when crossing through switches. As my train moved slowly through the complex interlockings outside the city I would study the groove pattern on the tracks trying to figure out this mystery. I doubt that any of my fellow commuters ever noticed or cared.

You gotta love the smorgasbord of interesting minds on this blog. Truly something for everyone!

Peace, love and health on this Christmas Eve. Hubby and I will be spending the holidays alone this year. Our kids and grandkids lead active lives in distant cities from us in Rhode Island and we just can’t take a chance at our ages. Alas, it’s been a year since we have seen our family but there will be more holidays ahead. And our oldest granddaughter’s wedding next September! Meanwhile we are just staying cozy. Today we took a drive to the beach along scenic country roads and stopped at a favorite farm stand. A few baskets of vegetables were left out...Honor System, said the sign...something about that tugged at our hearts. So we brought home an assortment of rustic potatoes. Sometimes it’s just the little things...

JD 3:18 PM  

@Frantic, Thank you folks I'll be here all week!

Anonymous 4:12 PM  

And our oldest granddaughter’s wedding next September!

Might I suggest any of the finer lodging establishments on Block Island? If the nuptials are scheduled past Labor Day, it won't cost an arm and a leg, just an arm. A wonderful place to spend a little time.

if HAT TRICK is from cricket and so is Baseball, then why is there no HAT TRICK for baseball pitchers? "He struck out the side!", yes, but sometimes that's said when the 3 outs were Ks, yet more than 3 batters came up. And how many "He struck out the side!" were on just 9 pitches; no balls, no fouls, no hit-by-pitch, etc.? Is that the true HAT TRICK?

A 4:18 PM  

Well, I took my own (Hi @Z) SWEET TIME but I couldn’t lurk any longer. Years of enjoyment at what rex-n-friends post on a daily basis have made my life richer. I’ve had too much fun chasing you lovely people down various KITTEN holes not to pay you back. I plan to contribute to OFL also.

Posting late because I had to learn how to create links. The link on Rex’s home page was not on my level, so I googled and included the word dummies, et voila! I hope.

Liked the puzzle more than I didn’t. Painfully interesting to learn this meaning for SILOS (almost changed to SoLOS but the DIESEL was too strong) and also the technical definition of HEATH, which I had seen in many a Sherlock Holmes tale but was always too busy trying to solve the mystery (Hi @Nancy) to stop and look it up. Starting to learn the strange baby animal terminology along with the rule ‘when in doubt, fill in AREA.”

Appreciated the Nashville PREDATOR mirroring HATTRICK. I’m a southerner but I’ve seen the Predators when they play the Sabres, my husbands home team. He’s really good at telling me what’s happening.

I’m a professional musician but today I learned about this dark opera by Puccini, whose orchestrations are THE GOODS. Lots of good music referenced in this puzzle. Thanks to @amyyanni and @Joe Dipinto for the Orpheus song, and @bocamp for the MAMAS and the Papas link. Still have to check out the others. Now for my selections. I apparently failed my coding lesson so you'll need to cut and paste. Sorry.

I saw WAITSFORNOONE and went immediately to the Beatles’ For No One with the ridiculously high horn solo by Alan Civil. Funny story behind that taping.

Then went poking around and found Sweet Time by REO Speedwagon:

Then, since my concentration is orchestral/chamber music, I wanted to share this lovely arrangement. It’s the horns of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Gewandhausorchester: Humperdinck Hansel & Gretel Prelude-Chorale

Which led to this perfect Christmas Eve offering (bring a tissue):
Bielefelder Kinderchor: Abendsegen 1986

Sorry this is so long but the music made me do it. If I post again I’ll try to be succinct. Thanks and Happy Christmas Eve!


Unknown 4:27 PM  

That rex is still ranting about yesterday's puzzle tells you more about him than you'd learn during an hour of a therapy session.

Fred Trueman 4:42 PM  

Anon at 2.56 knows of what they speak, but beware of the Beamer as it'll get you penalised. Yorkers are a tough pill to throw and a Googly can be sublime. Roll on Summer.

kitshef 4:45 PM  

@Z 12:09 Close, but I think what someone would say is "my area was ..." or "my concentration was IN ...". As an aside, take a look at a Google Ngram for "my concentration was". I found it quite surprising.

Jenskis70 4:58 PM  

It’s Admiral Zumwalt. His first name was Elmo if anyone is tired of using the Sesame Street character.

chinch 5:04 PM  

@John X Feynman’s use of chess rules to illustrate how scientific explanation works is also brilliant. And congrats on your great health news!

JC66 5:11 PM  

Welcome @Mimi

Why not get a Google account (if you don't already have one) and go blue?

Also, email me and I'll send you my Embedding Cheat Sheet.

TTrimble 5:43 PM  

Thanks! Actually, I was wrong for a different reason: Feynman's ally on the Rogers Commission wasn't Zumwalt, but rather General (Donald) Kutyna.

The name Zumwalt inserted itself because Feynman interacted with him during the Los Alamos years. Feynman had to go to Oak Ridge and Zumwalt (then a lieutenant) was his escort. There are some funny stories about Feynman's visit there, but they are told in a different book, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! You can read them here.

Newboy 5:43 PM  

Old timer (2: 20+) bowled me over with his delightful riff linking sports trivia.

And welcome Mimi (at 4ish) liked your recommendations as good choices for expanding musical horizons. Like you, “ I couldn’t lurk any longer. Years of enjoyment at what rex-n-friends post on a daily basis have made my life richer. I’ve had too much fun chasing you lovely people down various KITTEN holes not to pay you back. I plan to contribute to OFL also.” time and money both well spent, especially in this winter of our discontent. Wanted to see your profile, but will respect your privacy in keeping it closely guarded 🀫 But I will second @JC (5:11) whose suggestion is a good one.

sanfranman59 5:48 PM  

With apologies to those out here who bristle at sports talk ...

@pmdm (11:23am) ... re "natural hat trick" as the hockey term for three successive goals by the same player ... right you are ... Trivia courtesy of the Wikipedia article on this topic: "The NHL record for the fastest natural hat trick is 21 seconds, set by Bill Mosienko in 1952 for the Chicago Blackhawks." Wow.

@Anon (4:12pm) ... You can't leave a hanging curve ball out over the plate and not expect this baseball nut to take a swing at it ... Three strike-outs on nine pitches is referred to as an "immaculate inning". Wikipedia says that only 94 pitchers in the history of baseball have accomplished this feat and 7 have done it more than once. The great Sandy Koufax is the only one to do it three times.

I wonder what happened to my earlier off-topic post seeking an explanation for the theme and one of the answers in today's USA Today puzzle by Erik Agard? Mods: Is talk of other puzzles verboten here? Just wondering ...

A Moderator 5:57 PM  


Talk of other puzzles is not verboten here.

Including spoilers is.

Anonymous 6:04 PM  


your welcome! never heard 'immaculate inning', but fits the bill.

sanfranman59 6:09 PM  

@A Moderator (5:57pm) ... ahhh ... Alas, ignorance of the law is no excuse, but I'll certainly try to keep it in mind for future reference. Sorry about that!

CS 6:15 PM  

I loved this puzzle - and I literally laughed out loud, which is rare these days and I can't remember doing that with a puzzle. It was fun that "time" was left out in a different order in each theme answer (middle, beginning, end). It took a little doing to get into it for me but then flowed pretty well. Got stuck for a moment wanting "leveret" for the young rabbit but realized it didn't work.

LOVE The Cars, whom I saw in person before they were famous and have a soft spot for. But this is what got stuck in my head all day:

(Cyndi Lauper, Time after Time)

Hoping for more BASH(es), TRIPS, and GOOD(Times) and fewer RISKS and reasons to ERUPT in 2021

Happy holiday season


bocamp 7:25 PM  

@Mimi 4:18 PM - Yw for the link. 😊

And, welcome to the blog! Enjoyed your post and thx for your URLs. The children were truly inspiring! πŸ™

Peace πŸ•Š

Z 7:26 PM  

@sanfranman59 - I saw your question during the brief time it was up. Absolutely no idea. The clue is in quotation marks so maybe it’s from some movie or tv show or meme. I also had no luck googling. I even looked at Agard’s Twitter feed but nothing but crickets. @everyone else - The clue is “Too big is a _____” - and the answer is not something that would have occurred to me. I was surprised when I filled in the cross and got the happy music. In fact, the only place I found the answer on the internet was on websites providing answers to the USA Today puzzle.

I hope everyone is having a safe xmas eve. We’re doing the Zoom Call thing tomorrow, so a very quiet evening tonight. Happy Healthy Holidays to all.

Z 7:31 PM  

Found it on Twitter.

sanfranman59 12:01 AM  

Thanks for the reply, Z. I'm familiar with the concept, but sure don't associate it with the phrase. I'm likely to be at sea with any clue/answer combo that involves children or fashion and this one seems to meet smack dab at the intersection of the two.

IMHO, EA gets a tad over-creative with his cluing sometimes, but I suppose that's the price we pay for his fun (mostly) puzzles. His style definitely exercises a puzzle-solving muscle that isn't often exercised with other puzzles ... precisely why I added the USA Today to my habit a year ago.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Area of study = concentration.
Area of expertise= concentration.
Just concentration.
Not concentration of study or concentration of expertise.

JK 1:24 AM  

The "King of Crosswords" doesn't much like the use of QUEEN, or much at all the past week or so. I don't disagree, but have to wonder if the normal NYTCWP editors are on holiday. We should know by early January, eh?

janet schulman 4:42 PM  

Freddie Mercurys TIME would have been a much better song to put in there.

thefogman 10:38 AM  

Easy. The theme was pretty meh, but I did enjoy 23A. I READ Rex’s comment and was surprised to see him ERUPT like ETNA over a detail in yesterday’s puzzle - on Xmas eve no less... Nobody can accuse him of holding back,

spacecraft 11:13 AM  

Funny: "Poker clues suck." What's the matter, Fearless One, did you try it and get taken? Look around the table trying to find the fish? (If you can't, it's you.) Well, this poker clue was my way in, thankyouverymuch. 5 letters: TRIPS. 3 letters: set. In holdem, if a board card matches your pocket pair it's a set, while if a board pair matches your single hole card it's trips.

Anyway, like others, I worked south to north, getting the revealer first and then adapting the other long answers to fit. It helped. Finished in the--of course--NW.

Loved GOOD running into RIDDANCE. ANNA Kendrick has worn several DOD SASHES; there's room for one more. Overall HGOOD puzzle and nice debut. Birdie.

Burma Shave 1:17 PM  


CATCH is, she’s a DIM and slow ONE,
so USE the TRICK unwritten,


leftcoaster 3:46 PM  

Time WAITS FOR NO ONE. In this case I was a bit too late.

Wasted time with "lip read" instead of lip BALM and “sifts” instead of SILOS.

That’s the long and the short of it.

rondo 4:18 PM  

Hates poker terms; anything Marvel or DC thumbs up; consider the source.

ANNA Kendrick, every ____.

Wish it were true that ____isonmyside.

Wooody2004 6:54 PM  


Diana, LIW 7:54 PM  

Wait...where am I? What day is it?

Yesterday was like Thursday, but today was Tuesday. Ish. I thinkish.

So - was this a Christmas Eve present from the past? Dunno. Liked it tho.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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