Peninsula shared by Italy Slovenia and Croatia / SUN 12-6-20 / Impromptu musical get-together, informally / Spanish term of affection between young women / Fluff Yeah slipper sandals / Digital image company that used to make film / Mathematician Poincaré with a famous conjecture / Clishmaclaver or bavardage to use some fancy language

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Constructor: Tony Orbach

Relative difficulty: Easy (near-record time ... though I had to make a blind guess for the very last square) (high 7s)

THEME: "Get Out Of Here!" — phrases that go "___ OF ___" have the "OF" removed, and then are reclued, wackily:

Theme answers:
  • BONE CONTENTION (23A: Archaeologist's assertion about a finding?)
  • STROKE GENIUS (33A: Swim team guru?)
  • BOOK GENESIS (40A: Hire Phil Collins's longtime band for a gig?)
  • PRIDE PLACE (51A: The Serengeti, e.g.?)
  • STREAM CONSCIOUSNESS (63A: Knowing everything that's available to view on Netflix?)
  • FREE CHARGE (77A: Amenity offered at an internet cafe?)
  • RITE PASSAGE (84A: Bit of reading at a bar mitzvah?)
  • COMEDY ERRORS (90A: Stand-up's bombs?)
  • FRAME REFERENCE (106A: Art shop worker's manual?)
Word of the Day: ISTRIA (104A: Peninsula shared by Italy, Slovenia and Croatia) —

 (/ˈɪstriə/ ISS-tree-əCroatianSloveneIstraIstriotEîstriaIstro RomanianIstrieItalianIstriaGermanIstrien), formerly Histria (Latin), Ίστρια (Ancient Greek), is the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. The peninsula is located at the head of the Adriatic between the Gulf of Trieste and the Kvarner Gulf. It is shared by three countries: CroatiaSlovenia, and Italy. Croatia encapsulates most of the Istrian peninsula with its Istria County (Regione istriana in Italian). (wikipedia)
• • •

Literally the only thing I remember about this puzzle is ISTRIA. There was a theme, but it just involved the removal of "OF" from the middle of common phrases, and once I knew that, I didn't even have to look at the clues (which, in a theme that is Entirely about the ha-ha quality of the clues, is kind of a problem). I just got crosses, and once I could infer either the first or second word of the theme phrase, I could pretty easily guess the rest. Had some trouble with PRIDE PLACE, as I tried PRIDE LIONS before letting crosses get me to PLACE. But otherwise, FREE got me CHARGE w/ no looking, ERRORS got me COMEDY w/ no looking, etc. Absolutely blew through this, so fast that hardly any of it registered. And then there's ... well not "Maude," she came earlier (29D: "When the country was fallin' apart, Betsy Ross got it all ___ up" ("Maude" theme lyric)). No, then there's ... ISTRIA. Not just ISTRIA, but ISTRIA crossing ... AYS, was it? AYS? Wow. I have never heard of ISTRIA. I know I am not alone here, as many people are already echoing my "????" sentiments on Twitter. But I look at a map and see that ISTRIA exists, OK ... but that final "A," my god, that is such a rough crossing. Seems like OYS could very easily be [Exclamations of regret]. In fact, I'm much much much more used to hearing OY as an exclamation than I am to hearing AY, what the hell?  ISTRIA is such an incredible outlier, familiarity-wise, vis-a-vis the rest of the puzzle, that you really should redo the corner, or at the very least do better with that final "A" cross. The other crosses were all solid and unambiguous, but I flat-out guessed on the last letter of ISTRIA. It just ... seemed like a peninsula was more likely to end in an "A" than an "O." I have no data for that. Just felt that way. Maybe that's because the only peninsula I know that fits here is IBERIA, which, by the way, is the answer my brain kept wanting, even when I kept telling it "that's Spain and Portugal, shut up!" So, there was a theme, I forget what it was, and also, ISTRIA. The end.

My friend Parker improved that SW corner in virtually no time. This is just the first thing he came up with, and it's already an improvement (in that it doesn't have ISTRIA and the rest of the answers are recognizable things):

And here, he just tweeted out another:

Sooooo ... what else? I actually think MIND BLOWN is good fill. It's an annoying cliché, but it's still got real currency and if I've seen it in grids, I haven't seen it often enough to remember it. I also thought JAM SESH was clever (1A: Impromptu musical get-together, informally). I don't think SESH was ever meant to be spelled, 'cause it truly looks horrid in print, but I like the slanginess of the phrase in general. DEAR SANTA is timely. Had some trouble getting to AUGER from 78D: Helical bit, mainly because I know AUGER (vaguely) by what it does, not what it looks like. But yes, it is spiral-shaped, since it bores, so I guess that's ... helical. Sure. Yes. I don't remember slowing down really anywhere else. Oh, I did half-hope that the NYT would get the DURAG spelling right this time. But no. We're still stuck on DO. D'oh! Oh, the GOSSIP clue was hard; I have no idea what is going on there (70A: Clishmaclaver or bavardage, to use some fancy language). I don't know why "to use some fancy language" is in there. Don't try to get winky or ironic with your fancy language. You're using it, use it. Own it. Run with it. Or get another clue. Anyway, "bavardage" is vaguely familiar, though I would've defined that ... nope, I'm thinking of "badinage," never mind. Sigh. Clishmaclaver sounds like a Dickens character. Again, no idea. But like I said, otherwise, there's almost no difficulty to this one at all. The theme made it super-easy to race through the whole thing with a minimum of hesitation. Really wish I hadn't had to end this thing on a blind guess, but you get what you get. Talk to you later.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:01 AM  

Saw the byline and wondered…any relation?  Read the "print version" online which had this:
Tony Orbach, of Montclair, N.J., is a construction project
manager, saxophonist and crossword constructor. Today
(Dec 6) happens to be his 59th birthday. Tony’s love of
puzzles runs in the family. “My father was a big crossword
solver, and as a teen I would look over his shoulder and help.”
Once Tony made a Puns and Anagrams crossword for his
dad. “He loved it and made me one in return.” By “my father,”
incidentally, Tony means the actor Jerry Orbach of Broadway
and Hollywood fame. – W.S.
How cute is that??
And the cute didn't stop there!  I really enjoyed this one and not just because wavelengths were jibing. (For example, there was absolutely no reason why it should, but JAMSESH came immediately to mind when I read the clue.) The theme was fun and required some brain power (as long as I limited the crosses), and the fill was likewise with imaginative clues such as "Dubbing need" for SWORD. (sly boots!)
Could have done without SALIVA, but that's just because of my delicate sensibilities. Luckily, the breakfast test was irrelevant since I solved on Saturday evening.
Loved "Brand that comes out a head?" for PEZ.  Not just because it's, you know, PEZ, but also noticed the "of" missing from the clue - just like the theme!
Flashback Alert!
Right on, Maude!
DUI/OUI I saw this. Now what do I do with it?
Had oYS at 105D until realized ISTRIA (not ISTRIo), so AYS it is. But, I like OYS more as an answer.
Nothing like ALITTLE WEIRDO CLAMOR to file baseless lawsuits and melt your hairline by.


Joaquin 12:17 AM  

I have the feeling that AYS is a regional thing. No one in my neck of the woods says "Ay." They say, "Oy."

Just for proper context, my neck of the woods is the Milky Way.

jae 12:18 AM  

Easy. Familiar theme that was goofy and fun. Liked it.

I’m pretty sure you can’t by a fifth of liquor at any US beverage store.

Anonymous 12:44 AM  

Any suggested “improvement” in the SW that does not include Rutger HAUER is incorrect. Cluing of Blind Fury, rather than Blade Runner is also correct by the constructor/editor.

Ken Freeland 12:52 AM  

Thought the theme was adequate and well executed, but the fill was problematic. Disagree with Rex about "mind blown" being well clued. I could accept "mind-blowing!" or even "mind-blower!" here, but with mind-blown the syntax is off.
Also agree with Rex about Oy vs. Ay, but unlike him I held steadfast to the logic, and so got that one wrong. To this I say:
Not "oy " but "ay?"
No friggin' way
All I can say
Is "Hay chihuahua"

Another natick was that PPP crossover of Allen and Leks. I guessed Allan and Laks, for minus two. Who knows and who cares about answers like these? Inquiring minds want to know.
And what the H is an Ugg?? Ugggh!!

Adam12 1:44 AM  

DNF on Ay/Isteria. Oy vay.

chefwen 2:04 AM  

This was fun. I agree with Rex on the easy rating. The only problem was CArgo pants before CAPRI, that messed me up big time until puzzle partner set me straight with the correct pair of pants.

Could’ve used little more trickiness, but I’ll not complain.

Rique Beleza 4:32 AM  

I cycled from Trieste through Slovenia and down the Istrian Coast. It is a magical mix of rugged coast, ancient, walled cities, gleaming Adriatic and Roman ruins.

It is on many traveler’s bucket list, and should be on yours.

Rique Beleza 5:23 AM  

Fifth refers to a fifth of a gallon, a bit less than a quart which itself is slightly less than a liter - so those 750ml bottles in the liquor store are fifths.

Lake 5:33 AM  

I've never seen "do-rag" spelled with a "u" before; spelling it with with an "o" yields way more results on Google Search.

Ray Greenberg 6:16 AM  

Same Here!

Lewis 6:23 AM  

Tony, you fooled me a few times with some of your clues, and how I love to be fooled in crosswords! You made my heart smile with some of your theme answers. You made my brain reach for several words that have lain dormant for ages, and you taught it a couple of things it didn’t know.

You presented my brain with things that make it happy – similarities (RUR / REAR, IRON / ICON) and pattern (LATOYA / IOTA / UMBRA / ISTRIA / SALIVA / ABBA / AGFA / CHICA / EVITA / EVA / SCUBA / SANTA / MESA).

And you egged my brain to get creative (by coming up with a few more theme answers), and how it loves that (see another post below). Thus, Tony, I leave your puzzle feeling alive and enriched. Thank you!

Lewis 6:31 AM  

[Socially shunned advocate of traditional Scottish wear]
[Battle of the towers]
[Niche product that only bakers know about]

Colin 7:05 AM  

Well, once I read that our constructor Tony Orbach is the son of the late Jerry Orbach, I smiled and went on to enjoy this puzzle. The original Law & Order series are among my favorite shows, and Orbach's character Lennie Briscoe a favorite among the many I really like. For a while, I didn't even know he was a big Broadway star from The Fantastiks! (a series of stills, with Jerry Orbach singing in the background) (Jerry Orbach singing in 1982)

Nice to know that Jerry Orbach passed his love of puzzles on to Tony.

PGregory Springer 7:23 AM  

¡ay ay ay! Said in threes. Ays.

ChuckD 7:36 AM  

Breezed right thru this one. Theme was too basic and open. We did get a lot of themers - but still not fully realized. Little side eye to PRIDE PLACE but the others were cute and straightforward. Liked COMEDY ERRORS most.

Result of the dense theme was some short glue that is questionable. BCE x BTUS and MR CUB x MISS are rough as are CITIFY and AGFA. Did like MIND BLOWN and TREE TOP.

Knew ISTRIA from watching Lydia on PBS. As an Italian she is from that area and speaks of it often.

Not a bad Sunday - enjoyable solve. I thought Jerry Orbach was a guest co-constructor once but I can’t verify that.

JOHN X 7:38 AM  

Actor David Lander died yesterday. He's in the truck in this scene, which in my humble opinion I consider one of the greatest movie comedy sequences ever:

Used Cars (1980) "New Deal Used Cars: We blow the shit out of high prices!"

Rich Glauber 7:48 AM  

I've been part of hundreds if not thousands of musical jams... never once heard it referred to as a jam sesh. FWIW

Barney 7:49 AM  

Land = terraferma (I suppose), so fem. rather than masc.

Didn't get that far in my thought process, unfortunately. Never heard anyone, anywhere say AY, unless it's pronounced the same as eh, eh? so figured three countries, perhaps that's a TRIO.

@Joaquin HA!

Dan 7:57 AM  

Initially had JAZZ SET for JAM SESH which makes this two days in a row that I’ve gotten a correct “J” with the wrong answer! (Having made the same JOTS/JETS error as Rex yesterday)

bocamp 7:59 AM  

@Tony, thx for the multicultural puzzle. Much of the world represented here. A bon voyage. :)

Got a great start in the NW, despite not knowing 1A "jam sesh" (it filled itself in). This puz was very much in my wheelhouse all the way. Well under av. time (nearly 1/2).

New: "Allen" (ac); "jam sesh"; "Istria"; "Henri" (ac); "Is She"; "Eva" (ac); "sewed" (ac); "Uggs".

Hazy: "Agfa"; "Sloan"; "tes".

Sp. and/or Def.: "auger" vs "augur"; "dui" / "dwi".

Side-eye: "ay"; "pegs" ("dodgeball", especially unfair to those who are often forced to play; maybe not the case now, but definitely was back in the day).

?? "helical bit" for "auger". Ok, got it now. :)

Fav clues/answers: "jam sesh"; "Pez"; "gossip"; "treetop"; "mind-blown"; "blades"; "emoji"; "blimey"; "poetic"; "suit up"; "sword"; "scuba"; "Dear Santa"; "adrift"; "Ararat"; "morale"; "chica"; "oasis"; "mutts".

WOTD: Istria

LOTD: Albanian

SOTD: La Toya Jackson - If You Feel the Funk


ABBA - I Have a Dream

y.d. p.g. -2

Peace Pace Amani Pax Vrede Paz Mir Frieden Paix Fred Paqen ຄວາມສະຫງົບສຸກ Barış Mír صلح Woof 🕊

pabloinnh 8:09 AM  

I thought this was a nice old-fashioned Sunday puzz that went in about as fast as I could read the clue and write an answer, especially after getting the gimmick early. Nothing wrong with a little nostalgia around Christmas time.

SHINDIG and HOEDOWN both fit for impromptu musical get togethers, I discover.

OY is definitely better than AY. Ay ay ay is a better expression of "now what?" than regret, at least in my experience. Notice the lack of an H--"hay" = there is, there are. Hay hay hay would be interesting, but fairly nonsensical.

Anybody do yesterday's Saturday Stumper and notice an amazing coincidence? Doing the NYT first sure made it a lot easier.

Thanks for a nice old-fashioned Sunday, TO, in style if not in currency.

Mike AM 8:17 AM  

Literally, not 10 minutes before doing the puzzle, my wife and I watched "Finding Your Roots" on PBS featuring Lydia Bastianich. They delved deep into the history of ISTRIA.

SouthsideJohnny 8:41 AM  

Stylistically, just not my cup of tea - so it turns into a slog. I don’t believe that there is anything “informal” about JAM SESH - it’s just a made up phrase (which is valid as per the Times’ “informal” ground rules). One of my degrees is in Mathematics and I still didn’t remember the mathematician’s first name (or the MIT school - even though it appears pretty frequently). Add in the genus Lepus, the seldom used and even more infrequently occurring AIT, a Russian and Albanian entry and a dead pianist and my shoes were stuck in the mud before I even got out of the NW corner.

I may have to go back to a limited number of assists from Uncle Google in such situations. A fair number of people do seem to enjoy parsing together the trivia that is out of their wheelhouse - I guess my solving skills are not yet sufficiently developed to carry the day though.

OffTheGrid 8:45 AM  

L&O Trivia. Jerry Orbach did not appear as Lennie Briscoe until season 3. However, he played a defense attorney named Frank Lehrman in a season 2 episode. The original pair of detectives were Chris Noth (Mike Logan) and George Dzundza (Max Greevy).

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

Maybe I’m overlooking something simple here, but did anyone else have a problem with the clueing of 106 Across? If the ‘Art shop worker’ is a ‘framer’, then the answer reads ‘FRAMER (of) EFERENCE’. Shouldn’t the clue read something like ‘Art shop item’s manual’ if you want the answer to be FRAME (of) REFERENCE? Please let me know if I’m missing something. Thanks!

RooMonster 8:51 AM  

Hey All !
Writing before reading y'all, apologies yada yada...

What in tarhooties is PRIDE of PLACE?? Never heard that. Got stuck in that section because of that and having DESerTS for DESISTS. Had IRON in, but erased it, as the Downs weren't working. Finally erased the -er- of DESerTS, saw DESISTS, and viola. But still, PRIDE of PLACE?

Had a quick time myself on this one, 31 minutes. Did get stuck in a couple of spots, but seemed on the easy side.

First themer I got was STROKE GENIUS, said Hmm, wonder what the theme will be? Next git RITE PASSAGE, and the ole brain said, Aha! Take out the "of". Then continued on whilst talking to myself.

Had to Goog for HARES, as nothing was coming to mind for that. Couple of tough Downs there. Had my one-letter DNF at Rex's oYS. ISTRIo. I also thought it was better with an A ending, but OYS looked so right. 🙁

Five F's

TJS 8:52 AM  

Durag ??? Ay,Ay,Ay !!

Better than average Sunday, IMO.

So there are people out there who can rewrite a corner of a puzzle. Who cares ?

RooMonster 8:52 AM  

"Things we're thankful for"

Teachers, for adopting new ways to educate and keep kids engaged, even as they deal with their own COVID difficulties.


Hungry Mother 8:54 AM  

Tiring of names, but got all of it except for having oYS instead of AYS at first. The theme helped fill-in the themers, which is what a good theme should do. We’ve got to reduce the trivia.

mmorgan 8:57 AM  

Same problem with that damn square. ISTRIA sounded more likely to be right but so did OYS. I picked wrong.

pmdm 9:02 AM  

Very simple theme. In theory, the success of the theme should relate to how humorous the theme entries hit you. Curious that they seemed to me not so humorous, but I still liked the puzzle. Maybe that's because the puzzle seemed to me easier than normal for a Sunday puzzle even as it included some brutal crossings (based upon some of the comments). Nothing much more to say.

ncarterette 9:05 AM  

before i figured out the theme i had "Framers Almanac" and thought that was an awesome answer. oh well

Joe Welling 9:08 AM  

I think for AY, it helps to think of Shakespeare.

Lewis 9:12 AM  

@anon 8:51 -- The clue is [Art shop worker's manual?]. Maybe you missed that last word?

DeeJay 9:14 AM  

John Mullaney on Jerry Orbach:

Z 9:17 AM  

@PGregorySpringer has it. Nobody anywhere ever in the entire Milky Way ever says plural oYS. Never ¡oy oy oy! or even ¡oy oy¡ So obviously, since the clue wants a plural answer the only reasonable answer is AYS. Q.E.D. 😉

Is she really going out with him? I hadn’t realized how close in age Orbach was to me but clearly we’ve been exposed to the same classics.

I don't think SESH was ever meant to be spelled - So true. Most other words in this category are onomatopoeia, but I know there must be others.

I’m still waiting for a Zits clue for D’IJON. Seems like the perfect time for a minor character in a comic strip to appear is when she is immediately below a minor (fame wise) Jackson family member.

A fine Sunday. Better than most recent offerings.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

To the man who didn't know what Uggs is. This a brand of shoes that kids these days love.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

@Lewis - Yes, I read the entire clue correctly. What I am not getting is how 'FRAMER' is used instead of just 'FRAME' for the first part of the answer. Maybe I'm waaaaay overthinking this, but it looks like the letter R is being used twice in that answer...once in 'FRAMER', and once in 'REFERENCE'. I was thinking that 'FRAME' would work better for the front part of the answer, thus changing the clue.

EdFromHackensack 9:33 AM  


Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Duh! (Spelled with a u 😆) it's a rag that covers your [hair]do, hence it's a dorag - or do-rag.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  


kitshef 9:39 AM  

So happy to see AGFA in a crossword.

Most of the themers did not really land for me. BOOK GENESIS is great. Both “book” and “genesis” are repurposed from the original phrase. Give me nine themers like that, instead of one.

BCE right above ACE – that was neat.

Also, there is exactly one year where I know the answer to who won the Eurovision Song Contest, so I liked being able to use that knowledge. Although, technically the song wins, not the performer. I used to think I knew who won in 1959, but that turned out to be a rare example of a factual error in Monty Python. Teddy Johnson and Pearl Carr actually came in second in 1959 with “Sing, Little Birdie” (as identified by Mao Tse-tung).

oopsydeb 9:41 AM  

I lived with a jazz musician for 20 years. We hung out with other jazz musicians of the same, older, and younger generations. I have never heard JAM SESH. That's just ridiculous. Jam session, jams, hangs (sometimes used for the very very informal jams in the wee morning hours at someone's house). Not jam sesh.

The ease with which Rex's friend fixed that SW corner--twice--speaks to just how bad the editing of the puzzle has become.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

My fastest ever, until I hit that SW. Never heard of Istria (but unlike Rex, I like learning new things). Also never heard of "Ays" but willing to accept the Shakespeare angle. Do not accept that "gaze" = longing. It is a neutral viewing, which can go with many feelings.

Z 9:48 AM  

@Ken Freeland - LEKS is Crossworld money. Learn it. It will be in a puzzle near you soon. UGGS are some extremely comfortable boots.

@Rique Beleza - It’s third on my travel list right after Grocery Store and Local Hiking Trails.

@Lake - I’m mostly with you, I have seen DuRAG but laughed at the notion of a “correct” spelling.

@Anon8:51 - To expand on @Lewis’ quick answer, the clue is about the manual not the worker so the manual is the REFERENCE for the FRAME.

@Roo Monster - Not the best example, but one who sits at the head of the table has PRIDE of PLACE.

@TJS - Who cares? So far just about everybody. The NYTX employs test solvers and yet nobody seems to have cared that the ISTRIA/AYS crossing was going to be problematic for just about everybody. To have such a crossing because the theme constrains answers is one thing. But, @anon12:44 notwithstanding, are HAUER and ISTRIA such great answers to force this on us? Perhaps a less obtuse AYS clue would have been sufficient, but cluing it in a way that evokes oYS borders on Crossworld sadism. Rex’s point that such corners are easily fixed is one he has made before.

bocamp 9:55 AM  

@Rex, yes, the SW was my only real decision making spot, too. I got the "a" because I was thinking "Ostria", and was pretty sure of "chica" rather than "choca", so more or less backed into the correct solution. Definite side-eye for "ay", altho, there's this.

@Rique Beleza 4:32 AM - Thx for the visual images of the Istrian coast. Been to Zagreb, but not to the coast. (bucket list :)

@JOHN X 7:38 AM - Thx for the link; got the movie queued on CTV.

@Mike AM 8:17 AM - Gotta love those fun coincidences! :)

@RooMonster 8:52 AM 👍

"pride of place"

Will, Tony, Jeff comments at "XWord Info": here.

Amy Reynaldo comments at "Diary of a Crossword Fiend": here.

Peace Pace Amani Pax Vrede Paz Mir Frieden Paix Fred Paqen ຄວາມສະຫງົບສຸກ Barış Mír صلح Woof 🕊

Pete 10:00 AM  

As I, inexorably, slip further and further into my decline I'm amazed at how little of it I can control. I guess that's the inexorably part of it all, but I'm not trying to avoid it all together, and mostly I'm failing X to even modify. The rate at which the body is failing is appalling, eyes and ears leading the way, with stamina and memory seem to be trying to catch up to the others. The one thing I've managed to avoid is the old-age mentality of "everything new is wrong". "Kids these days" are just like kids at any time, pushing against the norms of their elders, making up a new ethos only to eventually emerge with a new one based on the best of their and previous generations. Existence is an experiment, and that's how experiments work, it's foolish to argue otherwise.

However, oh, the inevitable however, Say the whole damned word! It's JAM SESSion, so say JAM SESSion, not JAM SESH! Are you too tired to say a 3 syllable phrase, then take a nap and come back when you're refreshed. I can wait, it's not as if I give a damn about your punk-ass comment in the first place. Take a nap, block or unlike or swipe left or whatever it is Rachael Ray on your social media feed, then come back and speak to me as if you were an adult. And get off my lawn!

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

Place names tend to end in an A, so ISTRIA was much more likely than ISTRIo. I remember as a kid playing the game "Geography." Each player has to pick a place name whose first letter is the same as the last letter of the prior pick. The problem is that everyone soon runs out of place names that begin in an A.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

Let's not forget two more memorable musical roles of the great Jerry Orbach - Lumiere the Candlestick in Disney's animated "Beauty and the Beast" and Billy Flynn in the original Broadway production of "Chicago"

Nancy 10:03 AM  

The theme is cute enough, but the cluing of the theme answers could have been so much more fun. So much more playful. These were petty flat.

Once I had the theme, the answers filled in easily -- often without my having to read the clue at all. In which case I would try to guess what the clue would be.

So I had STREAM CONSCIOUSNESS (63A). My guess for the clue? Brook's sense of self?

For BOOK GENESIS (40A): Invention of the written word?
I was going to say "Invention of the printing press?", then realized that books were hand-written by scribes long before the existence of the printing press.

For BONE CONTENTION (23A): "Bet my femur's bigger than your femur!"?

For FRAME REFERENCE: "She's a little top-heavy, don't you think?"
Yes, it's politically incorrect, but so is MUTTS. MUTTS hurts dogs' feelings. The accepted term is "mixed breed".

I wish the constructor had been more playful and irreverent in his cluing of the puzzle. Playfulness is infectious.

Z 10:12 AM  

@Anon9:45 - Have you never GAZEd longingly?

@anon8:51/9:24 - see my 9:48 post

@Anon9:22 - I had UGGS back in the 90’s. I wore them all the time when tromping around the neighborhood in the winter, but they were especially perfect for ski trips. After a long exhausting day on the slopes there is no boot better to slip into after freeing yourself from your ski boot. In the late naughts my sons refused to wear them because they had become the in footwear for the cheerleader set. Based on what I saw when I went looking for a link it is now a whole Brand with a capital B.

@Musician types - Huh? I am not one who would ever sit in on a JAM SESH but it is hardly an unfamiliar term. Merriam-Webster traces it back to 1940 and there is even speaker that uses the term for its name.
@Pete - Tell us how you really feel. Are you too tired to say a 3 syllable phrase - 🤣🤣🤣 - We elide, we shorten, we abbreviate, we initialize. So, yes, as a species we are too tired to say a 3 syllable phrase when 2 will do just fine.

I am really hoping @LMS appears with an explication on the 32 Thai VOWELs.

AnnaH 10:14 AM  

I’m a native Texan. There’s no such thing as “Texan“ cuisine.

RooMonster 10:18 AM  

Two things, thanks for the PRIDE of PLACE explanation (and @bocamp, too), but I still think it's bunkum.
And OYS as a plural "many an OY" (like Grunts, many a Grunt), not oy oy oy! ala ay ay ay! ☺️ That was my leaning.

@John X
Dang, I really like the Caddy and the Lincoln! You can have the Mercedes.

RooMonster 1976 Lincoln Owner Guy

Norm 10:37 AM  

The puzzle was bland but decent enough -- except for that SW corner, which was complete BS.

Sami 10:38 AM  

Ay Curumba? You remember that from Bart a few puzz's ago? No hay Simpsons in this puzzle. Ugg. We here in PNW prefer Sorels, which are on sale right now for people who want to actually keep their feet dry.

@Rique I'd love to cycle anywhere from Trieste.

And baseball got me today with Mr. Cub, Ernie whoziewhozits. Can we go back to golf please?

When I was a kid, someone gave me a book of puzzles that was way way too hard, and I remember thinking, "Someday I'll know what assets are, and all this other grown-up stuff, and that will be a great day."

Well, folks. The day has arrived. I did this without a cheat, and within a reasonable amount of time, and without knowing all the answers, but making educated guesses.

BCE came to light, but I'm stuck on SWM as the proper dating abbr. No, I'm not L G B T or Q. But does that really make me CIS? What is CIS again?

My tiny tot once heard me saying "Dammit," and used to parrot it back to us as "Debit."That's a leftover from yesterday's puzzle.

Will have the big 5-oh of my streak on Tuesday. What should I do to celebrate that big halfway point?

100 or bust, and my subscription runs out in January, so I'll have to save my pennies to re-up.

frankbirthdaycake 10:46 AM  

I always thought that blini is the plural, and blin is the singular. I’m pretty sure that the “i” is a common plural-ending in Russian.

Teedmn 10:46 AM  

Okay, since when is AYS = "Exclamations of regret"? I had oYS. Hmmph.

Otherwise, I liked this simple but pleasing theme. BOOK GENESIS, har. STREAM CONSCIOUSNESS, it would take a GENIUS to figure out Netflix. FRAME REFERENCE was nice. BLIMEY, HYDRANT, WEIRDO, UMBRQ, SALIVA (though the clue, UGGS).

Thanks, MR. Orbach.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

I loved the AUGER clue. A helix has a constant diameter (the shape you get from wrapping something around a cylinder). A spiral has a diameter that tapers to zero (what you get when wrapping something around a cone). A spiral staircase is really helical.

ChuckD 10:54 AM  

@Z - I still wear them for the same after ski and off season surfing. Nothing more comfortable and warm - I just disregard the stares.

Unknown 11:01 AM  

Easy but I really liked it, many fresh clues.

thefogman 11:10 AM  

Will Shortz should never have given the green light to this train wreck of a puzzle. The final insult to solvers was 104A and 105D. Oy! (and vey). It’s time for a change.

GILL I. 11:15 AM  

Ay Ay AYAY...canta la CHICA. Did you know that Clishmaclaver is a single malt bavardage from the FIFTH of Clyde?
So JAM SESH looks likes something you'd find between your toes. Not that I look there all the time.
Did I gallop through this? Why no.....I want to AMUSE my PINTO PEZ and take in the POETIC BLINIS.
This silly amiga put in IBERIA with not so much as a drop of a liquor store purchase. I did! Wait....that's in Spain and Portugal....Did (gasp) Tony make a mistake? SALIVA runneth over. One day I will go to Slovenia and visit my handsome nephew in Slovenia....Beautiful land of the new free.
I had fun with this. It was my stand-in black dress hanging in my closet. I get called to go to cocktail parties all the time and since I'm so busy, I don't have time to go to my local Versace and buy a jungle print crepe dress, so I just drape my Tiffany Pink Star 20 carat necklace on the little black sheath and.... et voila....DO.....I'm wearing a RAG on my head.
Thanks for some fun, Tony....You da STROKE GENIUS?.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

I got everything quickly but had oys instead of ays. Ay vey.

Northwest Runner 11:17 AM  

I’ll second what Frank said about blini being a plural. Like biscotti though the native language plural has, to this reluctant descriptivist, become a standard English singular form.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Agreed, BLINIs is bogus.

egsforbreakfast 11:35 AM  

RooMonster - I got an email from Rex. He says that it’s actually spelled RuMonster.

Did anyone notice the title? Get Out of Here. I think it would work better with the theme if it was Get Out Here. Or perhaps, for the literal minded solver, Get Of Out of Here.

Is it a borderline violation of construction appropriateness to use “of” in a clue where the answer has a missing “of”. For example, 84A Bit of reading..... is the clue for RITEPASSAGE.

I agree that this was too easy to really even make you feel good about your very fast time, but it was still fun while it lasted. Thank you, Tony Orbach.

Stix 11:36 AM  

BRAND X crossing GENESIS was a nice touch. ( two Phil Collins bands.)

Birchbark 11:36 AM  

ISTRIA/AY = Fair game, even though I toyed for a while with a misspelled one-L version of "Illyria" (which is around those parts), wanting to make it fit. Whether you know the place or not, you can infer from decent odds that more European place names end in "IA" than "Io". As for "AY", there is probably enough mass familiarity with Spanish-derived exclamations to put it close enough to the mainstream. See @Sami's (10:38) Bart Simpson reference and @Gill I (@11:15 and often), who regularly tosses "AY" around with her characteristic delight.

STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS -- I associate Springtime with the big echoing cracks and bangs of ice floes breaking up and crashing into each other on the river down the hill. But yesterday morning, my friend, the sporting artist Bob White, and I hiked a couple miles along the St. Croix -- and the November ice, unsure of itself in fluctuating 20-degreeish weather, was crashing all over the place.

At one point, we climbed down a little bluff and just stood near the water, watched, and listened. Someone should do an ambient sound production of breaking ice on a river. They should include the trumpeter swans that flew over a couple of times, and the wind in the pine trees, which sounds like the ocean. And of course the reverb off the far bank, after the first staccato blast of ice, gentle and ghostly.

The venerable outdoor publisher, Stackpole books, has just published a quality collection of Bob's paintings and prints, "The Sporting Art of Bob White." I highly recommend it to anyone who likes to hunt or fish, or just be outside reading the water and weather. His website is

old timer 11:37 AM  

In China they rarely eat chili
So sing me another one that's worse than the other one,
And waltz me around again, Willie!

Summer of 66, when I learned that one from a TEXAN girl -- you of course sang semi-lewd limericks to the old Mexican tune.

This was the easiest Sunday in a while, and definitely one of the best, because filling it in was not the usual slog. Having been to the Serengeti I liked PRIDE PLACE, though the very best place to see lions is in the north of Kenya.

When I was younger, jazz musicians in North Beach often got together for JAM SESsions, as they did in cities all around the country. Hard to imagine it was not abbreviated to JAM SESHs.

Gotta say, "FRAME REFERENCE" came to mind immediately. It's the book or catalog where you can review your choices of FRAMEs for your little masterpiece.

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

@John X and @Roo -- Guess I'd better say this anonymously, if I know what's good for me. That car price commercial is just about the most un-funny thing I've ever seen. Sorry.

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

I am calling foul on 1a.

To me, the shortened - or "informal" - spelling
of jam session would be jam sess., not JAM SESH.

I understand that phonetically my answer is a bit
questionable, but typically in the spirit of puzzles,
when words are shortened, letters are not changed,just

I only make this complaint because the second S
made it impossible for me to complete NE corner.

Other than that, this puzzle was fun, but not overly


albatross shell 11:50 AM  

I had to guess at both ends of ISTRIA. When I got the Y in CITIFY I changed the first letter from I to A and went with AY over my preferred OY because aSTRIA looked best. Oh well.

Elsewhere, the foreign coin crossing a name, LEKS X ALLEN, seemed clearly the odds on favorite.

AIT was no problem because of the crosses, but really no idea. Is it old crosswordese that I have forgotten? The definition labels it British dialect. It is defined as a mid-channel braid bar. Braid bar? Oh that's a island in a braided river. Oh, now your talking my world. I live too near a braided river, which was far more braided for thousands of years than it is now. And those bars, or the spaces between them, filled with windblown sand, which became usually dry land as the river shifted.
It is very fertile soil and grows great asparagus and cantaloupes. And some of these soils are in my back yard. The large sand deposits, far from the ocean, have also created some marsh conditions that are home to some flora and fauna that are not to be found anywhere else for hundreds of miles.

PRIDEofPLACE? More like runofmouth.

Fun puzzle because it was easy and thus no slog. You get the theme easily and then go right to the theme answers and fill them in with as few crosses as possible, and then make up your own clues for them. Well only if you're a WEIRDO.

Z 12:10 PM  

...but other dictionaries consider this usage so rare in English that they do not mention blin at all and only record the widespread modern regular usage of blini for the singular and blinis for the plural. -Wikipedia

I urge everyone to always use their critical thinking skills when using reference works, but this particular passage is given more credence by the discovery of very few usages of “BLIN” in the other reference works I consulted. Indeed, all I saw was at Merriam-Webster. M-W had three, which is a typical number, but all three came from the same 2017 New Yorker article. Granted, us New Yorker readers are the center of the Milky Way but we are still an elite minority and can hardly expect everyone else to follow our Über correct stylings.

@AnnaH - Okay. But how do you explain all the TEXANs who, in the Rex Comments not long ago, asserted vociferously that the only way to make chili is the TEXAN way? Or my new neighbors here in North Carolina who insist that TEXAN barbeque is an affront to humanity and cattle everywhere? Or this? How do you explain this?

Anoa Bob 12:26 PM  

The American psychologist William James said the first psychology text that he ever read was one he wrote(!), the Principles of Psychology, published in two volumes 1890. It's still in print and one of the few psych books I kept after retiring.

James titled Chapter IX "The Stream of Thought" and said

Consciousness, then, does not appear to itself chopped up in bits. Such
words as 'chain' or 'train' do not describe it fitly as it presents
itself in the first instance. It is nothing jointed; it flows. A
'river' or a 'stream' are the metaphors by which it is most naturally
described. In talking of it hereafter, let us call it the stream of
thought, of consciousness, or of subjective life.

It took James over twelve years to write and it comes in two volumes of 1200+ pages. No twitter back then!

Unknown 12:29 PM  

Rex, your friend 'Parker' tweeting out hypothetical SW fill bc 'he' didn't like 'Istria' sounds a little like #WeirdoTrump (which btw, trended #1 yesterday). Just sayin'.

Joe Dipinto 12:35 PM  

Google Map directions to Istria:
1. Leave your apartment and go downstairs.
2. Go one block over to Flatbush Avenue.
3. Go one ocean and ½ a continent over to Istria.

A peninsula occupied by Slovenia, Croatia and Ital(ia) – surely it must be ISTRIO. "Ay" pronounced as in Español works as an exclamation of regret in English too. ("Aaaay" with long "a" is what Fonzie used to say, without regret.) That corner is fine, and actually interesting, as it is; @Wex's fwend didn't improve it.

I like JAM SESH, though it's true it will probably never be written anywhere ever again. The clunkiest thing is the title of the puzzle, which seems like it should really be GET OF OUT OF HERE. It does make sense in its clunky way, but, ay.

Early Jerry Orbach, accompanied by harp in the key of B minor (with some pedal maneuvering).

What? 12:38 PM  

UGG is a shoe manufacturer

Steve M 12:38 PM  


CDilly52 12:39 PM  

AMEN, @John X 7:38 am. David Lander’s passing is a real loss to comedy. Thankfully, we have many different recorded examples, including the gem for which you posted the link. Thanks!

CDilly52 12:42 PM  

Ditto. As a jazz musician part of a performing group for almost 20 year, never did I attend a JAM SESH. We jammed. Let’s jam. They are having a session today, etc but never, ever a SESH. I cry foul along with @Rich Glauber 7:48 am

jae 12:42 PM  

@Rique Beleza - Exactly, you can buy 750ml bottles of booze but you can’t buy a fifth.

Z 12:46 PM  

@unknown12:29 - Did you know that Twitter is public and you can actually find stuff on it rather than posting weird innuendo? A little more digging yielded that Parker wrote a Python program for solving .puz files, about as unRexian an endeavor as I can imagine.

CDilly52 12:47 PM  

@Roomonster: PRIDE of PLACE may be regional, and is part of my lexicon for sure. “Your trophy for the 3rd grade spelling bee deserves PRIDE of PLACE along with those of your older siblings on our mantle.” I have also heard it to describe something in a place of honor in literature. “And there, occupying PRIDE of PLACE with all the family portraits is Uncle Bert, who we later determined was the illegitimate son of the Governor.”

CDilly52 12:51 PM  

@anonymous 9:24!am. I’m with you. This one was a tad awkward. I would not have tried to clue it with art. Something with a criminal setup might have worked better. Name of the person who was set up to take the fall for the jewel heist, maybe?

JC66 12:52 PM  

Sorry guys, I can't resist:

"Mule part."

CDilly52 12:57 PM  

@Pete 10:00 am. Thank you! I, too, am getting up there, certainly past Medicare eligibility and perhaps the one thing about “misspeak” today is that annoying truncation of words. As my Gran used to say when thoroughly exasperated: “AYAYAY!” (Sounded more like “eye-yie-yie” (long I on all )

CDilly52 1:03 PM  

Again, so very NYT Sunday, old school. I liked it, I enjoy old school. I am old, and have been solving for 60 years. it is what I expect. When I want fresh and edgy, I look elsewhere. I do wish @Rex would cease his endless carping about the NYT being the NYT. I could be wrong, but I believe many subscribe because of it’s familiar daily schedule and predictability. That makes the occasional deviation that much more enjoyable as a surprise. I solve lots of puzzles and I love variety, but NYT is my favorite. Of course so much of my move for the puzzle is my familial history with it, but still, it “ain’t broke. . . “

puzzlehoarder 1:05 PM  

From smoking out gibberish like SESH to the improbability of changing OYS to AYS this puzzle sampled everything I find insufferable about solving. It was one of those solves that I slog through to a clean grid simply because I can. Excruciating from start to finish.

Do dodgeball players really PEG each other? It has a whole different meaning.

@ Frantic Sloth, per yesterday, good catch on DULLache being precluded by the word headache being in the clue. As always I'm blind to the obvious.

bennys 1:06 PM  

Can somebody explain to me how/why “saliva” is an answer to “Spit it out!”
I’ve seen this type of clue occasionally, but I don’t understand it. I get that saliva can be spit out, but how is it an answer to “Spit it out!”?

Masked and Anonymous 1:13 PM  

PIECECAKE, mostly. JAMSESH did take a few extra nanoseconds to piece together, right outta the chute, I'd grant.
Also, weren't real familiar with that PRIDEPLACE dealy.
Alsoooo …
staff weeject pick: A/O-YS. Down there in the mysterious CHICA-ISTRIA region.

BONECONTENTION was BESTSHOW … but really coulda used a doggies-related clue.

Appreciated MINDBLOWN & DEARSANTA, in the rare longball breeds. The doggies also barked luvinly at HYDRANT.

Thanx for the BARRELFUN, Mr. Orbach dude.

Masked & Anonymo9Us


Anonymous 1:16 PM  

Istria is not that much of an outlier. I sometime confuse it with Ischia.

TTrimble 1:26 PM  

Not a difficult Sunday: finished in a little over half my average. I thought that Rex was going to hate it for being thematically too simple, but most of his ink was spent on the ISTRIA + AY matter. Me, I found the theme answers kind of amusing.

Should one pronounce AY like the Fonz would? There seem to be conflicting reports. In Merriam-Webster it says it's pronounced just like "aye" ("eye"). In WordReference, it says the interjection ay is pronounced like the letter (which btw is spelled 'a'). Either way, it seems to be clued correctly, and both sources trace it to Middle English, although WordReference says it's now considered archaic. I'm not sure how the Great Vowel Shift (which radically altered the sound of English) might have affected the pronunciation.

(I put in ISTRIA + AY myself, but maybe I was under the influence of another Italian place name ISchIA, which is near Naples. I'm willing to believe place names in Italy end in -a more than they do -o, but names like Milano and Palermo give me pause.)

What I really wanted to know was how closely connected AY and oY are etymologically. I'd imagine pretty close, but I wasn't able to find out definitively.

Joaquin 1:27 PM  

@JohnX (7:48) and anyone who lived in California in the 60s/70s era. Here's the world's best Ralph Williams tv ad:

Crimson Devil 1:33 PM  

Moi aussie. SW did me in.
Otherwise pretty good Sun.

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

You added the ".....". The clue doesn't have them. The *it* in the clue is saliva.

Baby 1:47 PM  

Don't forget Jerry Orbach played my father in Dirty Dancing.

bocamp 2:02 PM  

I agree with @Joe Dipinto 12:35 PM. Leave the SW corner alone, please! Otherwise I don't learn the name of an area I've come close to while traveling thru the former Yugoslavia, and an area that I frequently revisit on "Sporcle's" European map quiz. I also don't get the chance to revisit the lovely Spanish word, "chica", to say nothing of losing "Rutger Hauer", "citify" and "adrift", all for mundanity's sake. I'd be willing to take a dnf any day to keep on learning things I don't know. "Ay" caramba! (which I linked to in my first post of the day). And, thx to Will and staff for doing what they do, i.e., excellent editing of the puz.

Off soap box and back to SB to learn more words I don't know. And thanks to @jae for the tip to make a list of said words to be studied each day before embarking on said SB. It's paying off! :)


Peace Pace Amani Pax Vrede Paz Mir Frieden Paix Fred Paqen ຄວາມສະຫງົບສຸກ Barış Mír صلح Woof 🕊

Bonnie Buratti 2:36 PM  

OK, I do get we need to have easy puzzles to attract new solvers. And this month, when we "regulars" are busy with that usual December stuff, it's OK. But this puzzle totally missed the mark. The theme - which regulars would get in 3 seconds - was OK for someone just starting on the road of crossword pleasure. The problem is the fill. It's rife with crosswordese that turns novices off. How often have we heard "I tried to do the NYTimes crossword, but it was filled with obscure stuff and words I never heard of." The new solver might get Ararat, but not Acer, ait, and probably not mesa and blinis (also, I'm pretty sure blini is already plural (my Russian is rusty)). Then of course Istria. We regulars could easily get the cross-clues, but would a novice think of oasis or know chica?

Irishmaineiac 2:58 PM  

DittO 🙃😉

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

It appears I am the sole one to have read the Theme as inserting a missing OUT rather than OF. Took a bit to switch. Sigh.

BobL 3:11 PM  

I echo @CDILLY52 1:03. Perfect!

GILL I. 3:18 PM  

Ok this is my take on 2020..... it has nothing to do with the puzzle but it's a math problem:

If you're walking on the ice cream at 5 ounces per toaster
and your bicycle loses a sock,
How much gravy will you need to repaint your hamster?

Can Jan 20th come any faster?

kitshef 3:27 PM  

@bocamp. I tried your Dec. 3 1995 recommendation. Tough, and enjoyed it for the most part, but left a bad taste in my mouth when it came down to not one but two "guess a Natick"s at the finish. "Roman household god" crossing "Westernmost of the Canaries" was particularly ugly - although I guessed that one correctly.

I think you will really enjoy the one Rex suggested - November 1 2008. It is a Saturday, not a Thursday, but it was a real treat.

Nancy 3:38 PM  

But he's not singing, @Joe Dipinto!!! Quelle disappointment!!! It's like posting a link to Fred Astaire lying in a hammock.

I was lucky enough to have seen Jerry Orbach onstage in The Fantasticks back in the '60s. His thrilling voice and charisma blew me away. To me he'll always be El Gallo.

Here's the link that I thought Joe had posted: "Try to Remember". Most of you will probably know it. But for anyone who doesn't -- it's one of the most memorable theater songs ever written. And just listen to that voice!

albatross shell 3:41 PM  

@Bonnie Buratti
I must be a real outlier AIT (see earlier comment), I had no idea. MESA and BLINIS were common usage. I do like food better than geography perhaps. Where is ait common? The dictionary did call it British dialect.

@anon 146pm reply to 106pm.
I do not think quotes were added to the clue. The clue was being quoted. I agree with your analysis, but do think there is a lack of logic to the clue. It seems to be a clue by crossword convention to a degree. Those darn unwritten rules I never get a copy of. Of ourse clue is the operative word. Not definition.

bertoray 3:43 PM  

Oy Carumeba. Ay yi yi. Six one, half dozen other.

kitshef 4:04 PM  

Just noticed that ISTRIA was Rex's word of the day on 2/12/2015.

Z 4:38 PM  

@kitshef4:04 - And back then Rex wrote, I have a hard time being happy learning new things when those things are so obviously desperation fill. I don’t think it was “desperation fill” today, but still clearly sub-optimal.

@albatross shell - Of [c]ourse clue is the operative word. Not definition. I’m pretty sure that’s Unwritten Rule #1.

The PRIDE of PLACE discussion made me do some looking. M-W says it’s from 1798. The Free Dictionary Idioms give examples involving a diploma, a Sikh household, and a flower show. Assassins Creed, a video game, has a PRIDE of PLACE riddle or some such (I immediately got lost in whatever the page was trying to explain). And there’s a movie from 1976. It certainly doesn’t seem to be all that rare. Personally, it strikes me as something more likely to be said by my mom’s generation than mine, but Assassins Creed is about as modern as you can get.

Joe Dipinto 4:49 PM  

Uh, @Nancy – I bet Fred Astaire looked pretty good lying in a hammock. And you posted the 2006 cast recording. That's not Jerry singing.

Here's Jerry on the original 1960 cast recording.

And here's Jerry again, from an album he did a few years later called "Off-Broadway", which included the following songs:

• In a Little While (from "Once Upon a Mattress")
• What Can It Be? (from "All in Love")
• I Could Be Happy with You (from "The Boy Friend")
• There's a Small Hotel (from "On Your Toes")
• Laddie (from "Ben Bagley's Shoestring Review")
• King of the World (from "King of the Whole Damn World")
• Portofino (from "Dressed to the Nines")
• Try to Remember (from "The Fantasticks")
• I'm Going to Find a Girl (from "Leave It to Jane")
• Lazy Afternoon (from "The Golden Apple")
• Once in a Blue Moon (from "Little Mary Sunshine")
• Mack the Knife (from "The Threepenny Opera")

Hmm, I may have to buy that one.

rondo 4:51 PM  


Kenny Mitts 5:05 PM  

@anon 8:51 Exactly! That’s like saying a person who works at Best Buy would consult a computer reference. Helloooo, a person is not a computer! He would obviously consult a person-who-sells-computers reference. Use your heads, NYT!

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 5:14 PM  

I gave a concert in Istria once, in an extremely old church, with Byzantine icons over the altar. I can't remember the name of the town, but it was one town over from an intact Roman Colosseum, which I was taken on a quick trip to. Much more intact than the famous one. There were beaches, some of them had been paved over with concrete for the benefit of the German tourists, who apparently did not like the feeling of sand between their toes. The other thing I remember is stopping by an outdoor restau rant to loopk at the menu at dinner time, the Maitre d. came up to me with a menu, asked 'Sind Sie Deutsch? to which I answered, for obscure reasons, 'Nein, Polnisch', whereupon he grabbed the menu had been offering me out of my hands, turned his back and walked away. I found somewhere else to eat. I had been thinking Croatian sounded a lot more like Polish than say Czech did, was thinking about trying it. But it was not to be.

A Moderator 5:18 PM  

@rondo - The comments appear for approval as they are submitted, not by the day they are submitted for. As of my typing this there are no comments waiting to be approved.

Nancy 5:57 PM  

@Joe Dipinto (4:49) -- Oops! Many thanks for correcting me and for putting the actual Jerry Orbach version up for people to listen to. Mea maxima culpa.

My excuse -- YouTube doesn't specify who's singing and it's been approx. 55 years since I saw Orbach in The Fantasticks. OTOH, I own the original cast album and it hasn't been 55 years since I listened to it. And there was something about the version I put up earlier that didn't seem...quite right. The voice didn't seem different enough for me to know for sure, but it did seem that the notes were being held a little longer and milked a little more. And then there was the abundance of all those "follows" at the end. I didn't remember that there were so many. Now that I play the original cast version, I see that I didn't remember them because they weren't there.

The J.O version is more understated, more subtle. But I must say that I also love the voice of the person singing the 2006 version.

Joe Dipinto 6:03 PM  

@DeeJay 9:14am – that John Mulaney routine is hilarious. I especially like "Guy Unloading Crates".

bocamp 6:06 PM  

@kitshef 3:27 PM

I guessed right on that one too. Aside from my careless mistakes, my downfall was "like some verse" crossing "18th Hebrew letter". Glad you enjoyed it "for the most part". :)

Just finished 9/11/14. A little over av. time, but would have quicker if I had read the note section. I didn't even see that the puz had a title (unusual for Thurs.). Anyway, no probs and an enjoyable solve.

Will tackle Rex's November 1 2008 tomorrow. Thx for the recom. I've done enough old NYT's for today (3).

On the home stretch for the SB at p.g. -4

Peace Pace Amani Pax Vrede Paz Mir Frieden Paix Fred Paqen ຄວາມສະຫງົບສຸກ Barış Mír صلح Woof 🕊

Giz 6:07 PM  

Forty years in the retail liquor biz - nobody calls a 750ml bottle anything but a fifth. Pint = 375ml,half-gallon = 1.75 liters. But a quart is now properly called a liter.

Tom Mc Laughlin 6:15 PM  

Another day Rex should have taken off.

Giz 6:16 PM  

Lifelong musician - jazz, funk, soul. Played many a jam session, but NEVER a jam "sesh" or recording "sesh." However, having just read "Andersonville" I learned Confederates were sometimes referred to as "secesh." Sheesh!

Cankee Yanuck 6:20 PM  

BLIMEY, it didn't take long to discover I'm apparently not the ABLEIST at commenting on blogs. I posted my second-ever comment here a few hours ago... on yesterday's thread. Not sure if this means I've experienced a RITEPASSAGE or COMEDYERRORS. Definitely not a STROKEGENIUS. Apologies to the moderators for making you read through this again. I appreciate your AID!

As a new solver, I don't often have a similar experience to Rex's. But I could have easily written the whole section about OYS/AYS. I had never heard of ISTRIA, and even though I thought it sounded like something that would more likely end in an A than an O, I was so sure that AYS didn't make sense that I left that cross until I had reviewed and fixed other errors. When everything else seemed fine, I threw in the A as a "might as well try" effort and was actually quite surprised when the Congratulations message appeared.

Before that I had several of the same initial errors as others have mentioned as well as CERAMIC/EARTHEN and RUDER/ICIER. And somehow I ended up with WAGS & PEAS instead of UGGS & PEGS. (PEAS???)

Overall moved through it fairly easily but added a lot of time finding and cleaning up the stragglers.

Giz 6:33 PM  

Native Texan also, 54 yrs removed. I originally had "TexaQ" to cross with Iraq. If that's not a thing, it should be!

kitshef 7:13 PM  

@bocamp 6:06 - I had the exact same error - and only that error.

jberg 7:24 PM  

@JC66-Don’t you mean donkey?

jberg 7:28 PM  

I’ve played a lot of Renaissance madrigals in recorder consorts. The lyrics frequently invv Cn Lüdemann the word “ahi,” pronounced aye. I might not have got this otherwise.

ISTRIA goes way back—Roman leaders were always wresting it from the barbarians, or vice versa. I only remember it because my first reaction is that it should be Austria.

Joe Dipinto 7:33 PM  

@Nancy – the 2006 El Gallo is an actor named Burke Moses, unfamiliar to me, but apparently he's had a lengthy theater career on-Broadway and off- as well.

JC66 7:53 PM  


Yeah, donkey works better.

bocamp 8:17 PM  

@kitshef 7:13 PM

I won't be forgetting that one soon. LOL


Peace Pace Amani Pax Vrede Paz Mir Frieden Paix Fred Paqen ຄວາມສະຫງົບສຸກ Barış Mír صلح Woof 🕊

RooMonster 10:49 PM  

Late, but

LOL at RuMonster!

Thanks. I grew up in NE PA (Scranton area, before it was "The Office" popular), and never heard the phrase.

I agree with your 2020 math/tribute!

One letter different than 11/29 Bee, so I went to my missed word list, and unashamedly cheated! And I'm still -3.


bocamp 11:18 PM  

@RooMonster 10:49 PM

Still -1 and packin' it in :(

Hope you make it 😊

Peace Pace Amani Pax Vrede Paz Mir Frieden Paix Fred Paqen ຄວາມສະຫງົບສຸກ Barış Mír صلح Woof 🕊

Amy 11:52 PM  

I adore Rex and think he is brilliant, but he is really bad at geography. I can always count on him not to know a place and then complain that it was in the puzzle. I don’t complain about medieval literature or comic books I don’t know. Istria is a real place many of us do know. No need to rebuild the puzzle to get rid of it.

Anonymous 12:08 AM  

"Bavardage" comes from "bavarder," French for "shoot the s**t," or "chat." I've never heard anyone use it to mean "gossip."

Kathy 2:57 AM  

Please don’t call Geri Allen “a dead pianist.” She is one of the most innovative and respected jazz pianists and composers of our time, and she taught me at the University of Michigan jazz school before she passed in 2017. Also, as a millennial jazz alum, I find JAM SESH perfectly fitting and funny.

isobel 2:55 PM  

Blini is the plural. Blinis is just not right! I looked it up and I suppose it’s acceptable for a puzzle but this was the only thing that bothered me. Fun puzzle Mr. Orbach!

Barbara 9:59 PM  

Istria is not so obscure to those who like geography. And has Rex heard of Trieste? I bet he has, it sits just north of Istria, which is a fairly big peninsula as European peninsulas go...

JTB 7:23 AM  

in re: 31c An apocryphal (?) story I heard in grad school: Jacques Derrida was detained by police who discovered a quantity of "blini" on his person on a visit to his mother, who made and loved blinis. Cops thot it was...well, you know.

Wendy Cutler 7:05 PM  

I need to do a test here. I'm in syndi land, think I have commented twice this week, but I don't see any of my comments here. I have not clicked the "prove you're not a robot", which at least used to not be necessary. I get the note about how my comment was received and the moderator has approved it. But I don't get the email saying I have posted, and now that I check I don't see my posts. So I will click the captcha thing this time. Oh, and now, when I click that, I have to go through all the hoops with the photos, which did not used to be the case.

Wendy Cutler 1:31 AM  

re: Unknown 7:05PM, that's me, Wendy Cutler. The link got messed up because it goes to a different google account, not the one I want as my primary one. But my post got posted, just not on the date I think I posted it. This is the December 6 blog, but as I said, I'm in syndi land, don't have December puzzles yet. Now I'm too confused to figure out anything. I'm signed into the right account, but the mail is going to the wrong account, so this will still come up as unknown, I think. Sorry.

Burma Shave 6:19 AM  





spacecraft 11:45 AM  

Okay, I got the trick early enough despite the incredibly awkward title as it applies to said trick. But PRIDE [of] PLACE?? Wha?? It makes me think of a moment during a childhood visit to New York. It was 1953. During a walking tour through the lower east side (wouldn't dare to do that now!), we saw a newish-looking apartment building, but there was laundry hanging everywhere and fully two-thirds of the windows were broken, or missing altogether. Beer cans and broken liquor bottles were strewn about. Turning the corner, we saw the date on the cornerstone: 1952. "Wow," I said, "They did all this in a year?" Yeah. Not ALOT of pride of place there. If that's what the expression means.

I overcame the double natick in the SW. Sure never heard of ISTRIA, but anything else sounded even worse. Who thinks up the names for these places, anyway? Still, other than that, it was a pretty easy solve. Fill not that bad, though the pluralized RMK (AFLATS) wasn't pretty. LATOYA Jackson is, so she wins DOD. Talented too. Par.

Uke Xensen 12:19 PM  

Istria is a perfectly common word. But the puzzle was joyless just the same.

rondo 1:34 PM  

Other than this puz being a one-trick pony, I have a BONE of CONTENTION with 31a, and it goes to the editors. Russian pancakes are BLINI. BLINI is already plural. BLINIS is a word that doesn't exist. Editors, especially at the NYT ought to know better. Lack of attention to detail is more than disappointing, it is off-putting when they don't live up to their own STD. Lack of PRIDE?I don't know how many Will has for staff, but sign me up for one of those well-paying jobs; I could do just as good. And work from here. They probably even get paid more than some of us engineers, and I'm considered a state-wide expert.

Shout out to the MN state bird, the LOON. It's on our commemorative quarter if you have one.

Another Sunday in the Pioneer Press with an incomplete clue, this time for LATOYA. She'd be a yeah baby just for the Hef thing years ago, but I don't go for made up names. Bond girl EVA Green repeats.

Not wacky enough for a one-trick pony. Did not AMUSE me.

Anonymous 5:24 PM  

@Z 4:38pm:
Screw you!!!!
Istria is the best peninsula on earth!
But, then again, I'm a Slovenian-Croat-Italian mutt.
Oops! Sorry!
Mixed breed.

Diana, LIW 8:09 PM  

Thanks, @Rondo, I wondered about those BLINI - kinda like the ABACI, yes?

And JAMSESH? Um...what can one say?

When I was a kid I wanted a PEZ container soooooooooo badly. Mom said no - they cost too much to get so little. Heart breaking. Oh those little candies jumping out of the PEZ people. Must laugh now - and I sure did learn how to save for the hard times, a really good skill for life.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 12:37 AM  


Roy Dimaggio 9:34 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Phillip Blackerby 3:15 PM  

Right. The noun is the manual, not the worker. The "worker" is part of the adjectival phrase describing to whom the manual belongs.

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