Memorable launch of April 11, 1970 / THU 12-3-20 / College named after a Scottish island / 2007 heist film sequel / Parenthetical comment after an ambiguous witticism

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Constructor: Jake Halperin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (untimed)

THEME: UNLUCKY BREAK (57A: Bad fortune ... as suggested by 19-, 30- and 47-Across?) — the number "13," which is (to some) "unlucky," is represented in the theme answers by the letter "B," which, if "broken" into two pieces, kinda resembles the number "13" — so ""13" looks like "B" broken or, to put it another way, "B" looks like "13" if its two numerals were pushed together:

Theme answers:
  • FRIDAY THE BTH (19A: This occurs at least once - and never more than three times - in a year)
  • APOLLO B (30A: Memorable launch of April 11, 1970)
  • OCEAN'S B (47A: 2007 heist film sequel)
Word of the Day: EZER Weizman (67A: Weizman who once headed the Israeli Air Force) —
Ezer Weizman (Hebrewעֵזֶר וַיצְמָן‎ Ezer Vaytsman; 15 June 1924 – 24 April 2005) was the seventh President of Israel, first elected in 1993 and re-elected in 1998. Before the presidency, Weizman was commander of the Israeli Air Force and Minister of Defense. (wikipedia)
• • •

One of those themes that probably seemed like a good idea initially. But in practice, it's a thud for two reasons. First, the themers, which are not at all interesting. Two of them are just items in a numerical sequence. Bunch of Apollos. Bunch of Oceans. Here's "13." Pfft. It's a simple number swap, but the number doesn't feel particularly special. It's just one of the numbers of that thing. At least FRIDAY THE BTH is a unique thing (yes, there is a "Friday the 12th" at least once a year, but no one ever talks about that). So the number thing is just blah. Further, one of the themers *involves* the number 13's unluckiness (again, the good themer, the first themer). The others ... don't. So you've got inconsistency and wonkiness. And then the phrasing on the revealer (and its clue) doesn't quite make sense, doesn't really land. The "as suggested" by" is odd. So if I "break" the "B" in two I get an ("unlucky") "13"? But if I solved the puzzle correctly, then it's kind of hard to think of that move as "unlucky." Is it my "Bad fortune" to solve this puzzle? I mean, maybe, but that's no way to talk about your own puzzle. And again, with "13" being "unlucky" in only one of the themers, the revealer really lacks punch. "Unlucky" to whom? How? Not with a bang but a fizzle, this one.

PUN INTENDED is, by far, the best thing in this grid (3D: Parenthetical comment after an ambiguous witticism). I got thrown off the (theme) scent a little bit early on because I assumed that the answer was a themer, being so long and unusual. After I got FRIDAY THE BTH (having had at that point no idea how to get from "B" to "13") I thought maybe PUN INTENDED was going to have some weird aspect to it as well, but then all the crosses checked out and all I had to do was find a couple more "B" / "13" squares, it turns out. The grid seems solid for the most part, though the Scrabble-f'ing in the SW and SE is pretty glaring, although I guess the "Z" in the SE is from a long (good) answer, FLASH FREEZE, so it's not really gratuitous the way the "J" is. And the "J" is handled well enough. Just seeing that "J" crammed into a tiny space where it's functioning initially in both directions is triggering for me. Makes me think someone's priorities aren't straight. Or someone's idea of a good time is different from mine. But in the end, EZER is the only thing that feels truly unfortunate / crosswordesey (I couldn't name a single person who ever headed the *U.S.* Air Force, so ... yeah, no hope here. Also, Israeli prime ministers seem like very fair game; presidents (as Weizman once was), much less so). Oh, I almost forgot the absolute thing in the grid, which is POT TOP, which looks more like a typo of POP-TOP (or "pop-pop," I guess (see 63A)) than anything else (15D: Palindromic kitchen item). I think those are just called ... lids? Never heard POT TOP. I know y'all like palindromes, but know when to say when.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Dave 6:08 AM  

Again, I had to rely on Rex/Michael to explain the theme to me

sf27shirley 6:11 AM  

Why is PIANO the answer to softly?

ChuckD 6:19 AM  

Ho hum solve today. Got the theme with the APOLLO 13 x ABETS cross - but mainly finished as a themeless. Really didn’t care for any of the fill - PUN INTENDED, IONA and BLUNTS were nice. Didn’t know PIET or EZER. Always hate the bra size clues and didn’t like seeing BIPOLAR crossing OPIATE.

Not a great Thursday puzzle.

Conrad 6:33 AM  

For all you rebus lovers (of which I am not one), the puzzle accepted a "13" rebus in lieu of "B".

Mickey Bell 6:36 AM  

The northeast corner was a s**t-show for me. High-G.D.P., to me, an Econ degree-holder, does not connote RICH-ness. Lots of non-wealthy nations have high-G.D.P.’s. And softly/PIANO totally stumped me. Other than that it was an enjoyable solve.

Frantic Sloth 6:50 AM  


I'll remember this day for all eternity. Because this was the day that the secret of life was revealed to all the world: "Hey! Lookie here! If'n ya squish th' 3 right up-cheer agin th' 1, it look like a big B!"

I cherish the good fortune that allowed me to witness such an earth-shattering, life-altering breakthrough during my lifetime.
Ya gotcher moon landing, yer birth o' th' internet, and this boon to mankind.
Yay, science!

Bad enough that the number 13 barely resembles the letter "B" in my grid, but I was willing to accept it and move on.

Then came the revealer and what the hell was that??
No 13 at all and "B" both ways? What am I missing here?? Is the word BREAK supposed to hint at the mysterious disappearance of the 13? What? Please - what?

I just hope this frustrating experience all boils down to my inadequacies and not just another "cue Peggy Lee" scenario.

Otherwise, the solve was pleasant enough if done while ignoring the theme. At least there's that.


Lewis 6:56 AM  

Hah! Great revealer in this clean and clever Baker’s Dozen puzzle, and kudos to Jake for seeing the B/13 connection and playing it out.

Oblique and vague cluing kept me tripping along, leaving much white in my path for a while, but then, when things started filling in, suddenly it was a rush in both senses of the word. PUN INTENDED and FLASH FREEZE are two terrific answers – NYT debuts – and what allowed for them was the low number of theme squares, 38, less than half of Tuesday’s 78. I’m all for light theme space when it results in great answers like these and a clean grid, as it did today.

My POTTOP gradually grew, thanks to “palindromic” in the clue (and @rex, that word has been used often in our house). I like the SETS down, the ROOT up, and having ICE and FLASH FREEZE share the grid. I also like having a backwards OMEN echo the “unlucky” theme.

Jake, you gave me what I look for on Thursday. Bravo for this, and a most happy thank you!

SouthsideJohnny 6:58 AM  

Quite possibly the worst (alleged) theme so far this century. Just, really, really stupid.

Count me among those who believe that POT TOP is another of the NYT-invented “quasi-words” or phrases. Does PIANO really mean slowly ? A Thursday puzzle could, and should be so much better.

Anonymous 7:03 AM  

I'm sure one of the music folks will write 150 words about this. Stay tuned.

Sioux Falls 7:03 AM  

@sf27shirley: piano refers to a musical passage meant to be played softly. The antonym of forte.

Lewis 7:08 AM  

For those wondering, one who adds up is a TOTTER, and one who totals double letters is an alphadoppeltotter.

Anonymous 7:12 AM  

Piano is a musical notation indicating the musician should play softly. Very softly = pianissimo.

kitshef 7:16 AM  

Kinda easy for a Thursday. Felt like a Wednesday, even with the twist.

I often go back and do puzzles that fell on the same date and day from previous years. Now if you want to see a tough Thursday, check out December 3, 2009.

OffTheGrid 7:16 AM  

@Rex. 47A is not a bunch of oceans. It's Ocean's, possessive, not plural. It refers to the heist movies starring George Clooney as Danny Ocean, the ringleader. Ocean's 11, Ocean's 12, Ocean's 13. The numbers refer the number of participants in the heist. Ocean's 8 was a 2018 movie with a female cast.

Small Town Blogger 7:24 AM  

Piano, abbreviated as “p”, is used in musical scores to indicate playing (or singing) softly.

pabloinnh 7:31 AM  

Did I miss the B=13 squished together? Why yes I did. Had everything filled in but wound up putting a B/13 in one square and said the hell with it. That whooshing sound you hear is the trick going right over my head.

So, solved as a themeless/trickless, I thought this was OK. Odd to see DIAL clued as something TV's no longer have and then see the same TV's referred to as SETS, which I haven't heard in a long time.

Softly=PIANO makes sense to me, and perhaps "very, very, softly" will show up as PPP sometime and @Z can just count up to 1.

Too tricky for me, JH, but three squares slammed on the brakes for me, PUNINTENDED.

Unknown 7:31 AM  

For the record both Apollo 13 and Oceans 13 were disasters.

Kenji 7:37 AM  

Uh, Rex, of the "bunch of Apollo's," 13 was kinda memorable, kinda unlucky, kinda a demonstration of ingenius problem solving, which all made for a kinda gripping depiction at the box office. Maybe you had to be there.

Carter 7:37 AM  

In music, piano can mean the instrument OR an instruction to play softly (the opposite would be forte, which means loud).
Kept this at 27 words. Boom.

Hungry Mother 7:38 AM  

I just put 13 in as a rebus and it was accepted. Very fast time for me today. Also whizzed through SB (to Genius) and the mini. Maybe LAT is lying in wait.

TTrimble 7:39 AM  

PIANO is hardly going to merit 150 words of explanation. @Sioux Falls 7:03 already explained it.

PR for this day.

@Anoa Bob has a theory about the number of blocks needed to hit a sweet spot in 15 x 15 puzzle construction (he says 34 to 36). I counted 38. He says: too many and you're likely to have a lot of short fill. That seems to fit today's, perhaps others here will go into more statistical depth.

I can't get too excited about today's. The theme seems too simple, and there wasn't enough satisfying crunch. I agree with Rex's analysis.

Anonymous 7:44 AM  

Interesting reactions. I liked this one quite a lot. Solved with "13" rather than "B" - so UNLUCKYBREAK made more sense with the broken "B"s. And I like a rebus Thu.

POTTOP and EZER are questionable - altho EZER has appeared 22 times before.

Joaquin 7:48 AM  

@Rex - Really? The use of the letter "J" in very common ways is "gratuitous"? C'mon, man!

I liked this puzzle. Perhaps solving on paper gave me an edge as the theme becomes evident. Writing the letter "B" makes it more obvious than typing a "B".

Twangster 7:54 AM  

I made an embarrassing faux pas when solving this. I don't know my Apollos and Ocean movies that well, so I guessed it was looking for the number eight. There is a Friday the 8th, and 8s kind of look like Bs. The puzzle accepted Bs as correct, and also converted them to 13s upon completion (when I finally understood the theme).

Teresa 7:58 AM  

Piano is the Italian word for softly. The instrument was originally called a pianoforte, which means it could play both loudly and softly, unlike its predecessor the harpsichord (and variations of it).

Teresa 8:02 AM  

@Anonymous 7:03, If you feel the need to be sarcastic about other people's knowledge and their willingness to share, maybe you shouldn't hide behind anonymity.

mmorgan 8:13 AM  

Rex trashed a puzzle I enjoyed. The world is back to normal.

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

Not slowly, softly.

bocamp 8:15 AM  

Thank you @Jake for a most enjoyable Thurs. "unlucky" offering. I guess I was just "lucky" to have finished it successfully. :)

Got an excellent start in the NW and only had a slight holdup at the end in the NE. Under av. time.

Write-overs: 42A "medium"; 58D "knot".

New: "doom"; "grief" (as clued); "Red" (as clued); "trip" (as clued); "Ezer"; "Idaho" (as clued).

Hazy: "rich"; "blunts"; "J.Crew"; "Emmy".

Side-eye: "sci-fi"; "pot top".

Fav clues/answers: "doom"; "Nana"; "pun intended"; "bipolar": "flash-freeze"; "abets"; "mud" "and now"; "blunts"; "tames"; "skort"; "knit".

WOTD: "doomscrolling

LOTD: Dutch

SOTD: Private "Idaho" - B'52

FOTD: How to eat "acorns"

- 7

Peace Shalom Pace Vrede 🕊

JJK 8:16 AM  

In musical notation, PIANO means softly.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  


Anonymous 8:17 AM  


burtonkd 8:18 AM  

@Teresa, perhaps Anon 7:03 was referencing 3 Down PUNINTENDED by saying "stay tuned" for the piano?

Is IONA well known outside the NYC area? Nothing against homer clues, just asking.

albatross shell 8:22 AM  


Anonymous 8:25 AM  

Just a harmless lampoon. BTW, My name is Frank.

barbara 8:27 AM  

The original, full name for the instrument we know as a piano was fortepiano, or “loud soft,” to mark its ability to be played at different volumes depending on how hard one struck the keys. It’s predecessor, the harpsichord, could only be played at one volume level.

CDilly52 8:40 AM  

Well, lookie here at me! I have been solving for sixty years and the benefit of all that time paid off today. Somewhere in my life, I have solved another puzzle in which the number was “assumed” from a letter that looks like a number. I think it might have been a B for 8 but that little nugget escapes me. Whatever, I nailed this from FRIDAY THE BTH/BIPOLAR, and the remainder was easy. Probably too easy for a true quality Thursday, but what the heck, I get to feel clever this morning!!

Can’t bring myself to dislike a Thursday with a legit gimmick simply because this is the day for it (along with Sundays, of course). Wasn’t much to write home about. I’m with @Rex, PUN INTENDED was probably the best entry. That’s all I have. Work beckons.

Teresa 8:40 AM  

@burtonkd, Thanks for the thought but it was the first sentence I was referring to (150 words), not the second.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

51A nit: The river border between Oklahoma and Texas was established as the southern bank of the river, so technically, where the river forms the border, it is in Oklahoma. Since the border was established in the 19th century, however, the river's course has changed, so the surveyed border diverges a bit from the river bank in places.

International and state disputes on the border's location date back to the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819 when the U.S. and Spain established the border between the two countries. The border dispute went to the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1920s, but the final border as it exists today wasn't established until 2000, after the Red River Boundary Commission settled the border once and for all.

Moxer 8:48 AM  

Though I completed the puzzle, I didn’t understand it until I read Rex’s commentary. Bottom line: It landed with a thud.

Z 8:50 AM  

An Ode to Bad Penmanship

I mean, seriously, I caved to the inevitability of 13 being in the puzzle and immediately wondered if the down was going to be 13 or B. To go from one to the other is a minor kerning adjustment. I thought Rex might like this more because he is at least a little infamous for poor penmanship, but that’s lost when solving online. I discerned what was going on early and thought it cute.

My favorite entry today was also my last completed word, DOOM-Scrolling. Who needs horror movies when you got the news? That was my last letter because “Droughty” sounded in my head like what windows can be in the winter if you don’t have proper weather stripping until after I put that D in and I finally understood drought-y to be “like a drought.” D’oh.

@Anon7:03 - Right?! But, hey, there are tomes written on PIANO, the invention of the pedal, and the impact that has had on music, so a mere 150 word synopsis here would be pithy.

@Joaquin - D.J.S and J.CREW? Look at all the periods required and tell me again that Rex was wrong. Oooohhhh, looky here, playground retort in the same corner to make it all work. Hand up for that corner making me go “13lrrrrgh.” I got the tense right on the Z, but even that is a little scrabble-fuckly because FLASH FROzen is what sounds in the language to me. FLASH FREEZE is fine, just forced.

@OffTheGrid - I thought Rex was referencing that there are lots of OCEAN movies just like there were lots of APOLLO missions.

@Mickey Bell - What? GDP is a basic measure of a country’s wealth so what do you mean? The best hypothesis I have is that a nation’s wealth doesn’t necessarily translate to its citizens sharing in that wealth.

Ram Fan 8:50 AM  

Iona is in New Rochelle. Rick Pitino is the men’s basketball coach. IONA is an acronym for Idiots on North Avenue.

Barb 9:00 AM  

Can someone please explain the answer, “seed” to the 68A clue, “bracket position “

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

Disagree, Rex. It wasn’t just “a bunch” of Apollos. Apollo 13 was a VERY unlucky flight.

Nancy 9:20 AM  

So once I had figured out the reason that 13 = B (more about that later), I Googled BLUNTS before coming here. I knew by then it had to be right. But how could it be? I was thinking "big joints" as in either KNEES or SHOULDERS. Or as in "of all the gin joints in the world, she had to walk it mine."

Never once did I think about marijuana. Done in once again by a recreational drug-related clue. OTOH, you'll never stump me on wine or booze.

Back to 13 = B. I was bummed out that the revealer didn't explain it. Then, thanks to somewhat watery eyes this morning plus one bulb that needs to be replaced, I managed to figure it out on my own. Damned if that 13 I'd written in didn't look exactly like a B!

Can someone please explain DOOM to me (34A). Nice clues for GRIEF, ABETS and MUD.

I'm so proud that non-visual me actually "saw" the trick on my own. Or to be more precise, "saw" the trick by not seeing trick -- i.e. not seeing my handwriting clearly. A wee bit of irony, yes?

Loved this puzzle!

Rube 9:24 AM  

Completely agree on GDP. No relationship to richness and so unnecessary given the plethora of better clues .... Little. Or Filling...or like Mr. Monopoly...or crook pardonrd by Clinton....or Alternative to Krupa and on and on

Nancy 9:28 AM  

@Barb -- Think tennis SEEDS. A seeding chart in tennis has brackets that display which players will play each other in which rounds.

I imagine, if you've never seen a seeding chart, you can probably find one by Googling.

You're welcome. Now if you can just explain DOOM to me...

Rube 9:28 AM  

Sorry. Peggy Lee it is. I needed to come here to find out that a B looks like 13. Who knew. I thought maybe it was a Bingo reference.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

@Nancy - Congrats to me for not saying "you have more than one bulb that needs to be replaced" because I wouldn't really mean it and only say it because I thought it would be funny.

Das EFX 9:33 AM  

Forty & a Blunt...I’d add a link but NSFW

Rug Crazy 9:37 AM  

I disagree with Rex - BLUNTS from Big joints (48D) was the best thing in the puzzle

kitshef 9:41 AM  

@burtonkd - for college basketball fans, Iona is pretty well known. One extremely famous former coach (Jim Valvano) and one extremely famous current coach (Rick Pitino). And another former coach, Jeff Ruland, who is pretty famous in the DC area though maybe not elsewhere.

MarthaCatherine 9:43 AM  

I'm a middling solver. Takes me uncounted minutes--or hours, later in the week--to solve a given puzzle, partly because I solve while I'm watching the morning news or getting my family ready for the day or answering emails or am otherwise distracted, and also cuz I'm just not that good). But I thought this themer was a fun trick. How many times have you looked sideways at a label or a caption and read it wrong because some letters and or numbers can look like something else? Like when there's a lower-case "r" next to a lower-case "n" and you might momentarily see an "m." And of course, on those old stencil thingies we had to use in grade school to make signs or projects, the letter B IS a 13!

My own personal favorite mixup: the first time I ever saw a Popeye's chicken place when we were traveling (they didn't have them in my corner of the world), the letters in the logo were a little bouncier or more unevenly placed than they are now, I saw POPE YES Chicken.

So of course, the whole fam rolls there eyes at me whenever I excitedly point out another POPE YES Chicken restaurant.

Anyway, I like this one.

Speaking of FLA (24A), a funny quote from some very witty person back in about 1800 or some far-off time: It appears there is a trend for some people in southern Georgia to move to northern Florida. The intelligence level in both states is improving as a result. (Hey, he said it, not me!)

Hobbyist 9:51 AM  

What are thirteen lunts? Low joints?

RooMonster 9:53 AM  

Hey All !
Took until the very end for me to see what in tarhooties the puz wanted. Had an inkling that it was "13" that was needed after getting APOLLO and OCEANS, but couldn't figure out the Downs. It finally clicked at FRIDAY THE 13TH (with a pretty interesting clue), since I had BIPOLAR already in, and saw that ABETS and BLUNTS would work. So just put in B's in my last two empty spots, and got the Happy Music. Went back to puz, all the B's became 13's. Neat.

Kind of unfair that the first themer didn't have the 13 at the end. Got the other two first, so was looking for an ending of BT(13). Inconsistency?

Disagree about Rex's Scrabble Twerking in SE. The Z works fine in its environs. The SW could've possibly been reworked, though.

"Things we're thankful for"
Grocery store workers, for risking their own health every day to make sure we all have food to eat. (And Toilet paper for after!)

Three F's

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Never heard of the term "doomscrolling" even though I apparently do it every day. Hoping that bad habit will be broken beginning January 20th.

KRMunson 9:58 AM  

I’ve not seen DOOMSCROLLING before. I Googled it so I know what it means. Is this common parlance?

Newboy 10:01 AM  

Another day of responses predicted on one’s wheelhouse/outhouse perspective. Having tootled through Gabrielle with my Roseburg High brass sextet, I found PIANO a gimme—others who pursued different interests might well be mystified. @Joaquin commented early that a paper solve probably made seeing the sight gag easier and so it proved in this household where Mrs Newboy clings to her #2 with a calligraphic passion. Her upper case l3 works perfectly while my iPad’s b takes a bit of mental gymnastics. Either way, we enjoyed Jake’s puzzle. Never heard of DOOM scrolling? Only one WTF on a Thursday offsets a questionable POTTOP, so yah it’s not perfect, but I’ll settle 🤛🏻

Faith 10:06 AM  

@Nancy "Doomscrolling" is a relatively new slang term to mean scrolling endlessly through depressing news without being able to tear yourself away. It's seen great use this year in reference to COVID related news, as well as the run up to the election.

Westword 10:17 AM  

Glad once again to be an amateur solver so I could feel the zing of discovery, enjoy ‘blunts’ and ‘doom scroll’, and just have fun with a decent puzzle.

TTrimble 10:20 AM  

Time for a chat with Uncle Google.

Doomscrolling. I hadn't heard of it either. It's a pretty new coinage that's beginning to take off in these COVID times.

The fortepiano and pianoforte are both versions of a PIANO, but they're really different things. The fortepiano is older and smaller and had become obsolete, although it's been brought back due to increased interest in historically informed performance. [Yes, I'm reading Wikipedia.] It has leather-covered hammers that strike thin, harpsichord-like strings, with a lighter action, and a tonal range less than that of an ordinary modern-day piano (short for pianoforte).

mathgent 10:21 AM  

I like seeing 13 squeezed together to make a B, but I was disappointed in the revealer. UNLUCKYBREAK. Is it supposed to be read as "unlucky B-break" to mean that B can be broken to form 13, an unlucky number? If so, the B is used twice. Clumsy.

I liked the clue for FRIDAYTHEBTH. I didn't know that every year had at least one. It's probably true but I'm too lazy to prove it.

@barbara (8:27). Thanks for explaining why they were originally called fortepianos.

@Martha... (9:43) Max Rafferty was the Superintendent of Schools in California back when I was working in the schools. We didn't think he was very good. He left to become the head of education in Alabama. We said that his move raised the average IQ of both states.

Happy to see EGOT. My dreamboat Cher is one of the few to have won them all.

As Trimble noted, too many black squares, stifling long entries. Only four eight-or-mores.

Z 10:32 AM  

The earliest definition for DOOMscrolling over at Urban Dictionary is from March 24, 2020. I thought maybe it was an older term made fresh by the wonders of 2020, but it does seem to be purely 2020. The date of the first entry makes me think it is directly COVID induced. Also, I often complain about the NYTX being locked in 1993, so I feel obligated to compliment the puzzle for this very current clue. That’s at least twice this week where the NYTX has been especially current. Here’s hoping the positive trend continues.

@KRMunson - Is this common parlance? I’ve only ever seen the term used in regard to Twitter and Facebook and not necessarily broadly there. My guess is that it is still fairly niche. My hope is that 2021 makes it disappear from the lexicon.

pmdm 10:32 AM  

Pleasant puzzle for me. Enough said.

I won't explain piano. Enough is enough. But I will note that, like most organs, some harpsichords can join sounds coming from more than one keyboard on the instrument. And the plucked strings can be damped. So while all the notes of on a particular keyboard tend to be of the same loudness, the sound on a single instruments can shift from forte to piano. So knew Bach, who called for this effect in his Italian Concerto.

Taffy-Kun 10:35 AM  

Good folk! If you answer a posted question using the REPLY button, we are less likely to get (and waste time reading) multiple repetitive answers e.g. today’s “piano” and “bracket”

Andy S 10:37 AM  

In that case would looking at a list of potential surrogate mothers be wombscrolling?
Looking at your feed be groomscrolling?
Shopping at a mortuary, tombscrolling?

thfenn 10:41 AM  

Definitely agree the NE was rough, nearly a DNF for me as it just became a random effort to try stuff and see what stuck. At least I've learned that PIANO isn't just a musical instrument. TOT for add (up) just got an 'ugh'.

Got the theme (well, the idea that 13 was a rebus) with APOLLO_ and OCEAN_ - can't say I got the theme because I then sat there thinking Monday the 13th? Sunday the 13th? What?, but then it clicked). Still not sure what was unlucky about Ocean's 13, but Apollo 13 and Friday, sure. The Usual Suspects, along with Apollo 13, FWIW, are both great CINEMA I'd watch over and over again, so that was a fun addition.

IDAHO, because I first thought of Maine and then Texas, sent me down an interesting road checking out how much land within each state is owned by the Feds. That list seems to run from Connecticut (0.3%) to Nevada (80.1%).

Bipolar crossing opiate and grief, along with doom-scrolling (@nancy, if you're still not sure how 34A works, that's how) gave this solve a darker theme than 'unlucky' would merit, but one that certainly reflects the times. Still, I get a kick out of just solving a Thursday without much googling, so I enjoyed this one.

Tom R 10:42 AM  

My first thought on completing was "Pretty thin." Did not care for B standing for 13, and if you are going to use letters to be numbers they look like, isn't B closer to 8 than 13?

The other is that 13 is not an unlucky number except for a small number of superstitious folks. Any triskaidekaphobes in the audience? But if it really is unlucky, then Apollo 13 qualifies.

BTW, the identifiy I am not a robot that also requires a sign-in to my google account is getting tiresome.

Nancy 10:44 AM  

Thanks for the explanations of DOOMscrolling.

I didn't know DOOMscrolling and I didn't know BLUNTS. Here's my Thought for the Day: If you don't do any DOOMscrolling, you're much less likely to need BLUNTS.*

*Actually, I get plenty of DOOM-laden news from both the NYT and from television. And I often can't turn away from all that gloomy news, either. But here's the difference: in the NYT and on TV, the gloomy news finds you. Online, you have to go looking for it. And I never go looking for it.

DrBB 10:49 AM  

Still, it provided an excuse to link up an absolutely FAVE Pixies tune, so at least there's that.

Z 10:53 AM  

@TTrimble 10:20 - Thanks for the link. I didn’t expect to find a wikipedia entry so didn’t even check. D’Oh.

andy 10:53 AM  

i feel like i would have loved this theme if i had solved in paper, because my Bs absolutely break apart, but even with 57-across i couldn't figure this out.

i've never heard "busts" as "tames," but rather "breaks," like breaking a wild stallion.

Malsdemare 11:09 AM  

Tom R. You have a blue name; you don't have to check the "I am not a robot" box. Just hit Publish.

For those of us who haven't seen OCEANS 13, could someone explain how it’s unlucky? Bad reviews?

I had fun with this puzzle. It’s reassuring when I catch the trick early, tells me I'm it someone who will raise the IQ of Illinois and neighboring Indiana should I move to Indy.

GILL I. 11:11 AM  

Solving this puzzle felt like the first time my mom bought me Neapolitan ice cream. She knew I only liked chocolate. Well, I licked all the chocolate here. But....she told me to try mixing the vanilla and strawberry in with my chocolate and see if I liked it better. I did...
Like my friend @pablito,.I missed all the squishing together, but after I made myself a little ice cream goodie last night, @Nancy's light bulb went off. Boy did I stare at darkness for a good long while. Oh, I knew all about the 13 but dang, how does it fit in? BINGO . Why lookie here.....the B is really a 13.
The puzzle wasn't that difficult and I actually thought it clever. Hey we have NANA again. Never heard of DOOM as clued and TOT looks like it needs another T. (Hah @Lewis)....Other than the two little oops, the rest was fairly easy. Has anyone seen "The Thirteenth Floor" or maybe "The 13th Chair". or perhaps "Thirteen at Dinner" ????? Jake could've made a movie out of this...Oh, wait...he did.
If you have any CCUP's hanging around your dresser, do as @Nancy suggested back in March....put them to good use and use them as face masks. Much better than holding up sagging boobs.

Whatsername 11:14 AM  

This is one of those themes that’s really clever if you get it while solving. But if you have to study it to see it or worse, seek an explanation well, as Rex said - it kinda lands with a thud. I was thinking in terms of a BREAK in the grid, a skip over the space, etc. and took forever to see the B thing, followed by a “you’ve got to be kidding me” moment. To borrow an expression from yesterday, SHEESH!

Second time this week for NANA whom we now know is the partner of Pop Pop - not to be confused with POT TOP, a Palindrome Of Convenience if I ever saw one. It’s possible but not a common usage. I’m betting that DOOM scrolling will subside considerably after the inauguration when we no longer go to the newsfeed thinking “Wonder what’s he done now.”

@Roo (9:53) I love your idea of naming something we’re thankful for each day, and I wholeheartedly applaud both your nominees from yesterday and today. Our healthcare professionals deserve far more than thanks for the staggering burden they continue to carry every day. And I’m deeply grateful for all those folks who keep the grocery shelves stocked with what we need.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

the only thing that's unambiguously true about high GDP countries is that *some* people are RICH; generally a small minority, unless it's a Scandinavian country. not even the USofA has a broad middle class any more.

we in the Northern states routinely say north Fla. is Southern and south Fla. is Northern.

pmdm 11:32 AM  

Taffy-Kun: I may be stupid, but I see no Reply button.

bocamp 11:33 AM  

Partially grokked the theme at 30A with what I thought was "Apollo 8", and was confident that the remaining themers would reveal themselves via the down crosses, which turned out to be the case. Didn't fully grasp the full beauty of the theme until post-solve analysis, when I saw that the "B"s could all be split (broken) to reveal the number "13". Btw, didn't require the rebus, just the (B) worked fine on my iPad.

@Kitshef 7:16 AM - Thx for the Dec. 3, 2009 puzzle challenge; love these older ones. :)

@pabloinnh 7:31 AM - Agreed on "sets"; I'll add that to my side-eye list. LOL

@Hungry Mother 7:38 AM - 👍 for g.

@Z 8:50 AM - Same take on "droughty", which caused a slight hesitation on the "d" for "doom".

@Taffy-Kun 10:35 AM - Good point, but can someone please explain "REPLY" button. (I'm on a MacBook Air, Brave browser)

Too funny! Just got's WOTD email: "doomscrolling". 😂

"the practice of obsessively checking online news for updates, especially on social media feeds, with the expectation that the news will be bad, such that the feeling of dread from this negative expectation fuels a compulsion to continue looking for updates in a self-perpetuating cycle."

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

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

Peace Shalom Pace Vrede 🕊

egsforbreakfast 11:36 AM  


What? 11:44 AM  

Just unlucky

bocamp 11:45 AM  

A refreshing counter to "doomscrolling": 50 Countries Affected By COVID-19 Sing Amazing Grace

Peace Shalom Pace Vrede 🕊

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

I’m sorry, but I just can’t figure out ‘BLUNTS’ as "Big Joints." Could someone explain?

What? 11:47 AM  

Patrick Berry’s For Dummies book claims 38 is the “standard”, whatever that means.

sixtyni yogini 11:53 AM  

Enjoyed it all. Nyt crossword 🧩 on a roll this week.

Doug Garr 11:53 AM  

I picked up the theme immediately, and thought it was pretty easy for a Thursday, where I only complete it about half the time.

KRMunson 12:00 PM  

Thank you for the explanation!

Anonymous 12:05 PM  


no real explanation, it's just a synonym used by tokers.

Seth 12:09 PM  

I'm surprised Rex didn't comment on the fact that "Unlucky break" is not a common phrase at all. It's just not. The phrase is "lucky break." No one says "unlucky break."

Google it. "Unlucky break (with quotation marks) gets about 64000 hits, and the first results are all titles of games or books or something. "Lucky break" (with quotation marks) gets 2 million hits, and the first results are all definitions of the well-known phrase.

TedNugent 12:10 PM  

Can someone explain why PIANO means softly?

Paul Rippey 12:10 PM  

I always thought it was a “pianoforte”. Whatevs.

What? 12:12 PM  

Meh for a Thursday. I was a little put off by having two of the largest entries non-theme related but what the hell - the vaccine is coming.

GILL I. 12:23 PM  

@Roo and @whatsername...Marvel Comics has just come out with a new comic book called "The Vitals: True Nurse Stories." It features stories of AHN nurses and their patient care experiences during this pandemic. Maybe @Rex will teach it sometime. beans to Marvel Comics and their accolades to the hero's putting their lives on the line.

TTrimble 12:34 PM  

Well, clearly tastes differ, but I land (with a thud?) over on @Frantic Sloth's side: I clearly saw the gimmick while solving but... clever? Eh. 13ig deal. :-)

Interesting tidbit. Would also be interesting to get stats in Mr. Berry's case.

Xcentric 12:42 PM  

Got that one square had a 13 in it at Friday the 13th. Took a while to see that the B could be a squished 13.
Left those blank until the end and tried a rebus 13 - no happy tune. Then B - no happy tune.
Came here, checked, all looked perfect. Finally used check (which broke my streak.)
Turns out I had accidentally keyed in a zero instead of an O in Doom. Arghh!
Can’t figure out how I did that, except maybe early on when I had played with the idea of putting in the 13 before realizing that the crosses required a B.
Oh well, I guess that’s what happens when you solve in the app and have to toggle the keyboard from alpha to numeric and back.
What I can’t figure out is how I hit 0 instead of O, because the O position corresponds to 9 on the numeric keyboard.
Other than that, a relatively easy Thursday, sort of OK theme, but would have been better just before an actual Friday the 13th.

people50 12:43 PM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle and theme.

DOOM as clues was great for 2020.

Apollo 13 wasn't just a random Apollo mission, it famously had a very serious, very unlucky accident from which the crew recovered. The unluckiness makes it fit in very well with the theme. And the event then became the subject of a very famous, very-well received Tom Hanks movie. If Rex is unaware of both the space mission and the resulting movie, that's on him, not the puzzle constructor.

Chim cham 12:54 PM  

Thank you. I thought the uniquely unlucky Apollo 13 thing was obvious.

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

This was the first Thursday I've ever completed without cheating and I'm really proud of myself. Reading the blog/comments have really helped me out. Thanks guys

jae 1:03 PM  

Easy-medium. I needed Jeff’s help at Xwordinfo to see what was going on. Clever and smooth and Jeff gave it POW. Liked it a bunch.

Taffy-Kun 1:14 PM  

OK blue “Reply” tag

Andy 1:44 PM  

@Anonymous a blunt is a cigar or cigarillo with the tobacco replaced with marijuana, as opposed to a joint, which is marijuana wrapped with cigarette paper. cigar is to cigarette as blunt is to joint.

@TedNugent "piano" means "softly" in musical notation. the name of the instrument is actually a shortening of "pianoforte," a name that described that the instrument could be played both quietly and loudly.

Joely 1:45 PM  

Yes it it horrible!! Worst puzzle in my puzzling career. PIANO!! I had it and kept erasing it, I had Oceans 13 but kept erasing it. Ugh

Andy 1:46 PM  

@Anonymous a blunt is a cigar or cigarillo with the tobacco replaced with marijuana, while a joint is marijuana wrapped in a cigarette rolling paper. cigar is to cigarette as blunt is to joint.

@TedNugent "piano" means "quiet" as a musical dynamic. the instrument name is a shortening of "pianoforte," which was a name that described that the instrument could be played both loudly and quietly.

albatross shell 1:46 PM  

@bocamp 815am
I guess people must be skipping over your posts?
Thanks for your doomsrolling link.
I had not searched for an explanation and with the DO- in I tried DOwn until the crosses corrected me.

Crimson Devil 2:00 PM  

Much agree re RICH and PIANO; didn’t much care for POTTOP either.
Otherwise enjoyable Thurs.

okanaganer 2:04 PM  

Re PIANO's other meaning...

One of the fun things about visiting Italy is seeing some recognizable words used for very common things:
CAMERA = room, eg in a hotel
PIANO = floor, eg the floor your room is on
OPERA = construction work, eg road work
PICCOLO = small

Photomatte 2:06 PM  

Reading the comments, I've learned that 'piano' can mean 'to play softly' or 'play softly' or 'playing softly.' The problem with the clue, however (15 Across: softly) is it was missing the verb To Play. Softly in and of itself, even in arcane musical reference, means nothing without a verb. Musicians may very well see the word 'piano' or even just the letter P, and know that means to 'play softly.' The lack of a verb in the clue totally negates the clue. It'd be like reducing the phrase "Do not pass Go, Do not collect $200" to, simply, "Go," and expecting we'd all feel an aha-moment when the Monopoly reference was explained to us. Not sure if this was the fault of the editor or the constructor, or both, but it needed to be fixed before it was printed.

Joe Dipinto 2:07 PM  

Scrolling my spade with his fingers
Freezing my flash with his words
Punning me piano with his song
Punning me piano with his song
Dooming my pot-top with his words
Punning me piano...
...with his song

In the above example, piano means "softly". The term first came into use when– OWWWW!!

(@Andy – it's a good thing you repeated your post for @TedNugent. He's quite deaf, you know.)

kitshef 2:07 PM  

@Taffy-kun, @pmdm. Depending on your device/interface, you might or might not have a Reply button. If you have a Reply button, replies are grouped with the comment to which you replied. If not, replies are not grouped with the original - they just appear chronologically.

So for me - without a Reply button, the first reply on the Piano question appears about eight comments farther down.

Add to that the delay caused by moderation, and you get the multiple-reply effect you see today.

The reason some of us use the @Taffy-kun convention is so that the people without a Reply button know to whom we are replying.

albatross shell 2:09 PM  

@Andy 144pm or 146pm
Yes and Phillies Blunts were initially a favorite choice, hence blunts.

ow a paper cut 2:11 PM  


Unknown 2:13 PM  

Nobody else was bothered by "skirt" in the clues and SKORT as an answer?

Matt 2:17 PM  

As much as I enjoy a nice CCUP (or any other size), I always find it off putting in the puzzle. And no, I am not conservative in the least.

Masked and Anonymous 2:21 PM  

The UNLUCKYBREAK revealer's clue sorta makes sense, to m&e: BREAK a certain letter in the three theme answers to get an unlucky number.
Figured out the B/13 mcguffin pretty early in the solvequest, thanx to BIPOLAR's help.
Sounds like @RP kinda gave the theme a squishy 1300, tho.

POTTOP. Excellent answer/clue desperation combo. M&A is easily pleased, tho.

Didn't know: BLUNTS (as mysteriously clued). EZER (well, maybe real vaguely). GIA. DOOM(scrollin).
soft M&A spot for: PUNINTENDED. Best thing since doomscrollin on blunts.
staff weeject pick: MUD. Places its U in the honorary center square of the puzgrid. Nice weeject stacks in the NE & SW, btw.

Thanx and B lucky, Mr. Halperin.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


bocamp 2:25 PM  

@andy 10:53 AM - I thought the same re: "busts" / "tames", then thought of bronco buster.

@Anonymous 1:00 PM 👍

@Taffy-Kun 1:14 PM - It's probably a question of what platform people are using for this blog. I don't see any "Reply" tag or button. What platform are you on? Have you replied to a comment using that function, and if so, how does it work? The "Publish Your Comment" button in the "Leave your comment" section is the only one I'm aware of. (I'm on a MacBook Air, Brave browser)

@albatross shell 1:46 PM - yw 😊 and thx for not skipping over my post. 😉

p.g. -2

Peace Shalom Pace Vrede 🕊

Z 2:41 PM  

@Taffy- Kun - 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 - I see you thumb type on your phone. Go to the very bottom, click on “web version,” and then go to the comments. Notice anything missing? The mobile version has had the reply function I think since it was rolled out, but for whatever reason Google has not seen fit to add it to the web version of Blogger. Blogger is basically still 2006 software, which is to software what a Nash Rambler is to cars (look it up).

Crimson Devil 2:46 PM  

Pitino now guards in-bound court-length pass!!

Unknown 2:51 PM  

In tennis, at any rate, players are “seeded” according to their level of play, and are thus bracketed in the lineup of who plays whom in tournaments.

Maddiegail 2:54 PM  

MANY years ago (I think the '70's) there was a NYT Sunday puzzle that had numbers as answers ... the only one I remember is "1492." A great puzzle and I had hopes for today's. Alas!

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

Both synonyms for marijuana cigarettes. Already explained multiple times.

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

Really??? It's been explained a dozen times already. Read the earlier comments.

Taffy-Kun 3:22 PM  

I use the NYT app on an iPhone- didn’t realize the Reply tag wasn’t universal. I meant well but will now commit virtual Seppuko

bocamp 3:22 PM  

Thx to @kitshef 2:07 PM / @Z 2:41 PM re: the "Reply" button issue. :) Takeaway: the world doesn't look the same to all of us. 🤔

Peace Shalom Pace Vrede 🕊

Monty Boy 3:27 PM  

I liked this one a lot. I thought I’d 13e the first 13log entry to mess with the 13's, 13ut @egsforbreakfast 13unch 13eat me to it.

Our house number growing up was 713. My birthday is on the 7th and my brother’s the 13th. The house was on two lots, 711 and 713 and I always thought birthday’s were the reason my Dad picked that number.

About the puzzle: Must be an easy one, my time was well under average. I got the “13” rebus early, but it took a while to figure out how the down crossing would work. Breaking B into 13, must be unlucky. That was an aha moment for me.

I liked the clue for 26D, Runs interference for the offence. We had a TV with a 44A as recently as 10 years ago. Women’s wear mini theme with 13A, 14A and 56D and 65A.

I had to Google DOOM scrolling after I got it from the crosses. I look at Facebook about twice a year, so DOOM scrolling is new to me, and another reason to keep to that Facebook frequency.

Z 3:33 PM  

@Taffy-Kun 3:22 - No worries. It is perfectly reasonable to expect Blogger to have a feature that is pretty common everywhere else including its own mobile version. Diary of a Crossword Fiend migrated to WordPress eons ago and I like to believe it was purely for the reply button. Rex has threatened to migrate once or twice, but I suspect he discovered the difficulty of taking 15 years of daily posts along with him. Besides, you are hardly the first to bay at the moon of multiple replies to simple questions.

NYTapp user 3:38 PM  

but only on the themed answers, not for UNLUCKY13REAK, so the app told me i had an error somewhere.

sanfranman59 3:42 PM  

After the fact, I'm a little surprised that there's no reference in the puzzle to all three themers being movie titles and that Rex missed that in his review. They're not just a random set of 13s.

cindylkaplan 3:44 PM  


RooMonster 3:52 PM  

I read once (but with a sieve memory akin to @Nancys) that the OG FRIDAY THE 13TH was a mass killing thing. Maybe? Someone can Google it, I suppose. (I suppose I can, but I'm not going to! 😁)

Hence, it became an UNLUCKY day, which carried over to 13 in general being UNLUCKY. That's why there's no 13th Floor in buildings.

I also read somewhere that 4 is considered UNLUCKY in Asian culture. Same with 666 as UNLUCKY/evil.

RooMonster Never Had Much Luck Anyway Guy

pmdm 3:56 PM  

Z, Taffy-Kun and kitshef: Thanks for the discussion. I no longer feel like I'm an idiot for not seeing something that doesn't exist on my platform. At least the discussion induced a smile on my face.

I guess there is no free lunch. If you don't pay for the software, you shouldn't complain about something that's missing. On the other hand, if you do pay ...

Anonymous 4:14 PM  

@Unknown 2:13. In the e-edition version the clue for 56D was "Hybrid tennis attire"

bocamp 4:25 PM  

SB Stuff

y.d. -7 / t.d. 0 - What a difference a day makes! - Dinah Washington

Peace Shalom Pace Vrede 🕊

Anonymous 4:30 PM  


IONA Ford.

OPIATE when Aunt Bea said to.

I hope it doesn't cost an ARMOR a leg.

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

@sanfranman59. And 8D is CINEMA, a hidden revealer.

RooMonster 5:02 PM  

YesterBee pissed me off! When I saw the words I missed, I doubted they were real! Hit the wall today, but had to go to work anyway, so calling it done around -2 or 3.

Oh, by the way, does anyone know why piano means softly?



sanfranman59 5:05 PM  

@kitshef & @bocamp ... yup, I've now at least attempted to solve every puzzle from the Shortz era and that 12/3/2009 stands as my slowest ever NYT Thursday solve of 1,372 completed puzzles (though I've also had 39 DNFs). Robert Wolfe's 9/17/1998 puzzle, Jeremy Newton's 11/6/2008 puzzle, Peter Gordon's 5/31/2002 and Wolfe's 9/12/1999 puzzles were tougher for me compared to my average Thursday solve time at the time I did those puzzles.

Malsdemare 5:31 PM  

@ Z from yesterday. I’ve been giving your point about the equivalency of you not wishing to watch violent movies because you hate blood and gore and someone else not wanting to watch LGBTQ movies because they hate gays. The difference is that you know, and express, the reason you will avoid violent movies but you are guessing about why my MIL doesn’t want to watch “Philadelphia.” The flaw in your argument is that we don’t know what someone’s reasons are for a choice they make. And I don’t really think we want to be limiting people’s decision-making based on the motives we think they may have. And to remove the category deprives those who are actively seeking a particular genre the opportunity to easily locate it.

My two cents.

oceanjeremy 5:45 PM  

The "B" "13" thing reminded me of the Blur album titled 13. Google the cover art if you're curious.

I *love* *love* *love* palindromes, but POTTOP pissed me off! I have never said "pot top" in my life. I have said "the top for the pot." "Lid for the pot" and probably even "pot lid," yes. Never "pot top."

I feel like this clue gives palindromes a bad name. It saddened me.

How much do I love palindromes? Today (before I did the crossword even!) I randomly put on "I Palindrome I" by They Might Be Giants. Good song. Give it a listen if you've got a few minutes.

chinch 5:47 PM  

@Andy S 10.37am

chinch 6:06 PM  

Good catch!

albatross shell 6:28 PM  

Does the reply button help or hurt?
People with the reply button make comments without knowing people without the button will not know for whom the reply is meant. So add name and time of the post you are replying to for maximum conveinence of others.

If you hit reply and post people who have read that post and beyond, and have a reply button will likely not notice a reply has been made.

One needs a new message system that tells you of new replies in a conversation.

So I tend to not use the reply unless I think my reply will appear relatively quickly after the statement I am replying to. or its early in the morning. Who will see it otherwise? (People with no reply button and late comers ) Or if its mainly for the person posting. Egos suggest people will look for replies to their own posts.

cristiline 6:35 PM  

I'm a bit lost BUSTS / TAMES. Like an animal? Do circuses that don't care about animal rights BUST a lion?

Z 7:04 PM  

@Malsdemare - I didn’t ever advocate removing the category. If we eliminated every useful thing in the world because some people misuse it there’d be nothing left. But I do appreciate it when someone comes along and says, “hey that good thing there gets misused by people this way.” What we do with that insight is up to each of us.

@cristiline - I’m thinking horses, not zoos.

@albatross shell - If we all had the reply button it would help because the answers would appear. We’d still suffer from moderator lag, but that seems to be rarely more than 30 minutes except maybe at the end of the day.

@oceanjeremy - Or you could post a link.

Unknown 7:15 PM  

There were 13 at dinner at the Last Supper, which was on a Friday (the eve of the Sabbath).

bocamp 7:23 PM  

@kitshef 7:16 AM / @sanfranman59 5:05 PM - re: Thurs., Dec. 3, 2009 NYT x-word - It was all you touted it to be; worth every minute of labor (3x my Thurs. av.). Success both with the solve and grokking the theme. Thank you for this recommendation! :)

Peace Shalom Pace Vrede 🕊

Anonymous 8:14 PM  

Love the end of that Pixies' song, Rex. Excellent choice. And totally agreew with you on the puzzle.

Anonymous 8:36 PM  

Whoops. The Sabbath was on a Friday. The Last Supper was the night before. That’s Thursday.
Look up Maundy Thursday. Or The Last Supper.
But the number of attendees is far less important than what Christ instituted at that meal: The Eucharist.

Crimson Devil 8:57 PM  

Why were they all seated on the same side of the table?

bocamp 9:22 PM  

@kitshef 7:16 AM / @sanfranman59 5:05 PM - And, in return, I'll recommend the Sunday, Dec. 3, 1995 puzzle. I didn't fare so well. :(

Peace Shalom Pace Vrede 🕊

Sami 9:26 PM  

OMG,I had one of these days where nothing came to me and none of these clues led anywhere at all. Launch? This puzzle ate my lunch. Then it was done, suddenly. I almost forgot to keep my streak going, after dinner I was like OH NO, I'm going to eff it up. And I don't know the darned 6th amendment, so it was a cheat and I feel like a heel.

Kathy 1:47 AM  

as a millennial musician I enjoyed Beatles ONE, PIANO as in pianoforte, DOOM scroll, PUN INTENDED, go APE, BLUNTS for blunt reasons, Finding NEMO and SKORTS. easy, fun solve.

Mr. Alarm 1:30 PM  

Was constructor Jake inspired by Mitch Hedberg’s joke that if the number “13” is unlucky, than the letter “B” must be unlucky too, ‘cause a “B” is just a “13” too close together?

Mom 5:11 PM  

A modern piano is really a pianoforte which means soft-loud in Italian. Piano is Italian for soft.

I caught on to the theme quickly but tried a rebus with 18 which didn't work for the downs but saw that B did.

Roy Dimaggio 9:36 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
thefogman 10:23 AM  

If you solve a puzzle but you don’t understand the gimmick, did you REALLY solve it? If a tree falls in the forest....
The editor should have given this one the RED light.

spacecraft 11:21 AM  

Well, it's different, and different is good (sometimes). Got the TRICK with APOLLO13/ABETS. That flight was indeed UNLUCKY--and then, thanks to teamwork, very lucky. So, mixed message there. Again, OCEANS13 was extremely UNLUCKY for the casino owner--but lucky for a few patrons, and for Danny and his crew. I know a guy who said that everything good in his life happened on a FRIDAYTHE13TH, so he celebrates all of them as they come around. That, though, is the exception.

I expected the B of LIMB to be broken as well, and was disappointed when it remained solid in both directions. Also would've liked to see TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA as a revealer, but at 17 letters it would have to be a Sunday. The revealer we got was right on point, IMHO. BREAK indeed.

And what of the number 13 in the grid? CCUP. Perfect segue into DOD GIA Scala. All right, don't scold me. Sorry. Honorable mention to NANA Visitor of Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Didn't like? POTTOP. They're called "lids." You know: "There's a lid for every pot." Lucky are we few who found ours.

I'm surprised that anybody within these blog walls wouldn't know that PIANO is the musical direction for "Softly." The instrument itself is actually a PIANOFORTE, meaning softly-loudly. The -FORTE was dropped over time.

Busts for TAMES was a head-scratcher until I remembered the term "bronco-busting." It's a stretch, but OK. I enjoyed the solve. Birdie.

Diana, LIW 1:16 PM  

I knew a gimmick was going on - and I could easily (w/o the clue) see where. And then...I FIGURED IT ALL OUT ALL ON MY OWN. A Thursday Rebusishly puzzle. I'm not saying I liked it per se, but figure out I did. And I was=nt lots of triumph points.

Diana, you know who

Diana, LIW 3:13 PM  

OK OK - here's my PIANO story.

Ever see the movie, Moonstruck? Well, the "old man" is walking his (many) dogs one day, they get a tiny bit rambunctious, and he calls to them, "Piano, piano." Meaning "say it softly," (in dog). Piano.

Lady Di

leftcoaster 5:24 PM  

Spent most time trying to make sense of the gimmick.

Didn’t get it until seeing that B “translated" to 13 -- only after coming here. (Didn’t help that the B/13 was embedded in one case and not the other two.)

A bit too suBtle, maybe?

Burma Shave 6:14 PM  


I MEAN for THE ONE thing to take,
there’s not ONE quiet PIANO THIEF,


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