Projecting rim of metal beam / TUE 12-22-20 / Field of mathematics pioneered by John von Neumann / Greek tourist destination / Italian name of six popes / Equine animal in rural dialect

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Constructor: Any Yanni and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: untimed, but felt much slower than a typical Tuesday

THEME: CLOUD "nine" (24A: With this puzzle's central black squares, ecstasy) — black squares in and around the center of the grid form the number "9"; other themers (I think) include:

Theme answers:
  • SHEER BLISS (18A: Rapture)
  • HAPPY PLACE (59A: Comforting mental state)
  • SHANGRI-LA (4D: Heaven)
  • WONDERLAND (31D: Realm of marvels)
Word of the Day: CORFU (9D: Greek tourist destination) —
Corfu (/kɔːrˈf(j)/US also /ˈkɔːrf(j)/) or Kerkyra (GreekΚέρκυραromanizedKérkyrapronounced [ˈcercira]) is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. of the Ionian Islands, and, including its small satellite islands, forms the margin of the northwestern frontier of Greece. The island is part of the Corfu regional unit, and is administered by three municipalities with the islands of OthonoiEreikoussa and Mathraki. The principal city of the island (pop. 32,095) is also named Corfu. Corfu is home to the Ionian University. (wikipedia)

• • •
It's my favorite number, but that didn't help enjoyment much here. It's an interesting idea that gets weirdly executed. HALF of me is happy that I got a Tuesday grid that is at least interesting—with a bunch of (eight!) longer (9+) answers that allowed for more interesting fill than you usually encounter on a Tuesday. But that happiness was offset considerably by two things—grid structure and theme execution. I don't know what CLOUD is where it is. Why isn't it at the top of the grid? The top is where a CLOUD should be. Plus, in that position, the whole grid would read "CLOUD 9" much more naturally. Here, the CLOUD is just sort of awkwardly jutting out of the top of the "9"; it looks sloppy. Further, the list of themers ... are they not really signaled as themers for a reason? As with yesterday's puzzle, this set seems very ragged and not consistently synonymous with each other, let alone with "CLOUD 9." SHEER BLISS feels right, but the list drifts away from the theme from there, with WONDERLAND being the farthest afield. WONDERLAND is a place (a literal physical space) filled with, well, wonders, and while a WONDERLAND might put you on CLOUD 9 (which is strictly a metaphorical emotional state), it does not necessarily do that. If you've read "Alice in WONDERLAND," you know that frequently she was nowhere near CLOUD 9. SHANGRI-LA is an ideal (if imaginary) *place* (again, not a state of being). HAPPY PLACE is close, but also suggests a state of denial, a place you retreat to comfort yourself when you are decidedly *not* on CLOUD 9. 

The grid structure, necessitated by the whole "9" construction, also leads to some unpleasantness. I don't care for the long non-themers right along themers of the same length. Confusing. I thought IN A GOOD WAY was theme material for a bit, but ... I guess not. Not a fan of these false themers, which are as long as themers and in theme-seeming positions but are not, ultimately, themers. Bigger issue with the grid structure is the horrendous lack of flow. That is, it's a super-segmented grid, with both fussy little crannies in the middle and then isolated grid pockets literally everywhere, with the worst being the giant NW / SE corners, which are accessible from the rest of the grid only via the narrowest of apertures. May as well be separate puzzles. It was fiddly and annoying to solve this one. Very ragged / start-and-stop. Oh, and lots and lots of short fill (again, necessitated by the whole "9" thing), which ended up being less than entertaining to fill in. But again, I will say that the longer answers go a long way toward keeping this thing interesting. I just wish the execution of the theme here had been (much) more elegant. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:12 AM  

That 9 was obvious from the outset. I can’t imagine the work it took to get this grid with its 9 and the CLOUD at the top. Kudos to Amy and Jeff. Rex – I get what you’re saying about WONDERLAND drifting from the theme. I would argue that SHEER BLISS is the outlier because it’s the only one that’s not a location, a HAPPY PLACE.

First entry was ILE, and I felt well-cultured and well-traveled. Then I considered “Crete” for the Greek tourist destination. But seeing that the R couldn’t follow the L of ILE, I thought it must be “Capri” instead. Oops. I’ll just see myself out.

“Ice skating maneuver” – APSE in crosswords. STUMBLE INTO THE ARMS OF THE LEAD SO THAT YOUR EYES MEET AND YOU GET THAT FIRST FRISSON OF PASSION in a Hallmark Christmas movie.

“Church recess” – Covid was one letter too long.

Loved the clue for TOE. Speaking of shoes. . . if you’ve donned your tony little pencil skirt and blouse and are considering the right shoe, a flat one is best to skip. Follow me for more fashion tips.
Fun to have SAM sharing the grid with CHEERS. I’ll remind you all (and gleefully remind the pedants here) that to CHEERS has become a full-on inflected regular verb that is a synonym for the verb to toast. About once a month I check Meriam Webster to see if they’ve added it. Not yet. (I was also checking to see when they’d acknowledge that batshit is an adverb and am happy to report this copied from its page:

batshit adverb
Joey is aware that there are a lot of people, … who are just batshit crazy.
… over the years he's been called everything from ruthless to batshit insane …”

FLANGE feels anatomical, but I can’t put my finger on it.

We’re supposed to go to our HAPPY PLACE to relax, right? After much thought, I’ve decided that my HAPPY PLACE is Ely, Minnesota.

NANA is what my kids call my mother-in-law. Bigmama is what they call my mom (as I did her mom). So when my son and his fiancée have a kid, my mom will be a Great Bigmama. I love telling her that.

Happy Tuesday, y’all. I would like to cheers to Amy and Jeff.

OffTheGrid 6:24 AM  

Agree that this was pretty bad. The black square "9" was immediately obvious. I went straight to 24A (CLOUD). With one entry I was done with this puzzle's gimmick. Just an ordinary solve from that point. Grid structure was indeed unpleasant. Theme?????

Hungry Mother 6:40 AM  

Quick one, alternating acrosses with downs as I went. I didn’t notice any theme until now as I write. I remember riding the subway with my brother during the summer of 1952. Coney Island was one of our destinations. We had a month of days exploring the whole subway system. I was 12 and my brother was 14.

BarbieBarbie 6:42 AM  

Never heard of CHEERS as a verb, but it’s a good one.

Hooray to @AmyYanni for the whole feat including getting to work with Jeff Chen! All of it is so impressive.

I’ve stared and stared but still can’t figure out why the CLOUD is circled. So it will look cumulonimbus-y? Very cute if so. Or so people can fill it in with no crosses, making this a Tuesday? Hope that wasn’t it. I like my “extra-cool grid art” theory better.

I really admired how even though the 9 made little quasi-isolated patches, they were all fair and non-junky. Good puzzle! Here’s to many more!

Dogfish 6:49 AM  

Mostly a relaxed stroll - I think CLOUD could've stood without circles, but it's not egregious.

Biggest stumbling block was in the NE - FALSIE's a new one to me (You'd think someone on Drag Race would've said it...), and I managed to read "coding conditional" as "coding convention" at least three times - it was only when WADE went in that I realised I'd goofed on something that I... uh... did a whole degree on. Ho hum. At least from my degree I did remember 21D, which I think was my favourite entry on the board.

Not SHEER BLISS, but not a bad way to wake up, really. Hope y'all enjoy your Tuesday!

ChuckD 6:49 AM  

Congratulations @amyyanni - what an enjoyable solve. The graphic really did pop - I have no problem with the CLOUD placement. SHEER BLISS and HAPPY PLACE are fantastic themers. As Rex notes - non-theme longs can be cumbersome to track but I’ll never have an issue including David Hilbert’s most famous assistant in a puzzle.

Working on the Stilwell Ave station I learned that CONEY Island was originally an island and only made peninsular with fill in the early 20th century.

A gladdening puzzle for dreary times.

Z 6:59 AM  

I dunno, @Muse - looks more like a small g to me. Also, you see Uncle SAM tending his bar, I notice Popes PAOLO and LEO and the absence of their RRNs put me in my HAPPY PLACE.

I know this is the NYTX, but I still guffaw every time they clue FALSIE. I’m sure it’s accurate but that is not the way I’ve ever heard it used. My other HAPPY PLACE moment was imagining PAPA HAYDN as PAPA Smurf.

One other early morning meandering... LARA Flynn Boyle playing LARA Croft in a Tomb Raider/Dr. Zhivago mash-up. In my version LARA Antipova-Croft is a scientist working with the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI). In the mash-up Zhivago is actually a Cuban-American spy named DESI sent to blow up DESI. All the action takes place in CORFU and Sao PAOLO.

Oh... the puzzle? Best Tuesday Ever.

CDilly52 7:03 AM  

Oh good grief and thank you @LMS! I was still scratching my head wondering how TOE was the correct answer. Knew early on that was correct and just took the proverbial leap of faith and moved on.

I’m always a sucker for a gimmick like the 9, and honestly don’t care much that it by it’s very presence necessitating the creaky short fill. And any time I can pay homage to one of my all time fave books, Dr. Zhivago, I am on CLOUD 9! My sophomore (HS) year boyfriend/best friend/compadre (along with Phil, the third of our “Musketeers) and I probably saw that movie a dozen times or more. Those were the days.

Fill certainly didn’t sparkle but either did it just clunk along making me hope the end was near either. I think perhaps the length and somewhat funky syntax slowed the solve a bit, but it was a fine Tuesday over all.

pabloinnh 7:04 AM  

This one was almost ruined for me, as it was for OFL, because the CLOUD was NOT on the top of the grid. I was able to calm down and continue, thank goodness.

Two words I loved seeing here, FLANGE and NENE, FLANGE is one of those things I learned from a long stint as a maintenance type around our place in NH, and NENE just says crossword! to me in the same way that OPAH did recently. Hello old friends. Nice to see you.

I called one grandmother NANA, and her husband was POP. NANA and POP. Never knew why, never asked. We have a friend whose grandchildren call her "Gigi". Origin again uncertain. Our granddaughter Emma, now confined to VT (so near, yet so far away, sigh), came up with the wonderful "Gramgrampa" when she was two,as a way to refer to both of us at the same time, as "I'm going Gramgrampa's !". Miss her like crazy.

Thanks for the fun, Amy and Jeff. Hard for me to see how a puzzle full of HAPPYPLACEs could so annoy OFL, but Rex gonna Rex, I guess.

Joaquin 7:05 AM  

My German neighbor rescued a pure white Samoyed dog. The dog’s fluffy white coat inspired my neighbor to name the dog “Cloud”. Now every time that dog does something wrong he yells, “Cloud, nein!”

I’ll show myself out.

SouthsideJohnny 7:11 AM  

Fun to solve today. I definitely got tripped up in the North by CORFU, PAOLO, ILE and even felt that ANTIC is a bit of a stretch for “Caper”. The rest of it was pretty smooth sailing. I’ve never been charged (to the best of my knowledge) for THERMs on my electric or gas bills. Is that a real thing (like ohms, ergs, BTUs, etc) ? Is it an abbreviation for something like THERMal units - if so, shouldn’t there be an abbreviation in the clue ? Maybe I’m just BAD at SCIENCE today.

Isn’t it a lot more enjoyable to read REX’s blog post when he confines his observations to the quality and craftsmanship of the puzzle itself instead of some tangential Lear-like rant about an insignificant entry (NRA comes quickly to mind, lol).

Happy Holiday season to all !

kitshef 7:29 AM  

Is there any reason this was not saved for a Monday? Just about every clue is straightforward, other than the failed humor at PGA and the one good clue, for HALF.

Are CHEERS and IN A GOOD WAY part of the theme? I don’t know, but I think CHEERS is and IN A GOOD WAY is not.

Paternals were NANA and Grand-dad. Maternals were Granny and Grandpa.

Okoume 7:47 AM  

So nice to have you back on the blog Loren! You were really missed. Big Bigmama is a perfect grandma name

W. Alexander 7:47 AM  

Bit where are the happy trees?

Joaquin 7:51 AM  

@kitshef (7:29) - I agree that most of the clues were quite straightforward. However, I disagree that this was Monday fare. IMO some of the fill was too hard/esoteric for a Monday, e.g.: FLANGE, GAMETHEORY, PAPAHAYDN.

GILL I. 7:58 AM  

@Joaquin 7:05...Can I have some of whatever you're drinking? Good morning laugh.
Ahhhh. If only Amy and Jeff could've snuck in ON TOP OF THE WORLD just above the 9. A woman can dream, right?
This was a HAPPY Tuesday puzzle. You give me PAPA and NANA and I'll CHEERS to you. I'm a Nonie but you gave me my NANA. My mother was a Tati. I love how the grandkids find ways to name us.
Did you hear about the HOSS, SWINE and CONEY? They walk into a bar. They say to the bartender: "We'll have a Gin and......Tonic." The bartender asks, "Why the big pause?" They reply: "I don't know, we've always had them."
You can draw on my puzzle any day.

DAE 8:01 AM  

It’s not a verb. You need to watch the reruns. Brilliant cast including Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, and Woody Harrelson.

Karen 8:05 AM  

HOSS as clued was a rough start but generally smooth sailing, nice themers, and interesting grid shape.

My complaint is that the 9 is filled with unhappiness, as is much of the grid: LIE, OIL, cash COW, OLD ( and WED depending on who you ask. ;) Several of the long non-themers were similarly not happy or heavenly: BAD SCIENCE, SCRAPES UP, Also downers were AWOL, INANE, CROSS and YOYO (as clued) SWINE, NAH, ORAL exam,. Seemed like a lot of downer clues for a happy theme.

On the other hand, my HAPPY PLACE certainly includes OREOS, CHEERS, NANA, and skipping STONES.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

Welcome home, LMS

Rug Crazy 8:30 AM  

The top central section had me going through the alphabet more than once. Sheer crap

Mr. Cheese 8:30 AM  

@LMS - how often you brighten my day! Thx.

janet 8:37 AM  

Oh my. This seldom replier has missed you SO much, LMS. Always scan the contacts for your name. Keep dipping in!

Coniuratos 8:48 AM  

Pushes up glasses and recalls undergrad Archaeology courses

Well actually, I think you'll find that a pottery fragment is more properly a "sherd", not a SHARD. (Note: much like pronouncing Neanderthal in the German way, as "Neandertal", the word "sherd" exists almost entirely so archaeologists can correct laypeople)

Tori Sandifer 9:02 AM  

I opened the puzzle today and thought "I'm gonna hate this" and I was not wrong. Both yesterday and today I had a corner I just could not crack for no reason other than I just...had no clue. They were just words or phrases (or movie references) that I simply did not know about. But, c'est la vie. Maybe 2021 will bring with it some delightful puzzles

feinstee 9:04 AM  

A bit underwhelming. The 9 was neat to see, but everything fell I to place so easily, it lost all pizzazz after that. CLOUD was immediately obvious and maybe the rest were theme-related...bit with way...

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

Yada, yada, yada.

Nancy 9:26 AM  

First of all, this was much harder than the average Tuesday. But for me, that's a feature, not a bug.

GAMETHEORY was a really DOOKie answer that I couldn't see at all until only the "G" was left to fill in. That was my last letter in, in fact. Because I didn't know FLAN?E. Should I have? Beats me.

I was sure this would be even more un-Tuesdayish when I saw the 24A clue. Something was going to be hidden in the black squares? On a Tuesday? Really??!! I was in my HAPPY PLACE. This is going to be SHEER BLISS, I thought. But, no, it's just boring old grid art. And nothing interests me less than grid art in a puzzle.

Also, I'm a literalist. If you say you're drawing me a 9, then draw me a 9, for heaven's sake! Close the damn thing! Finish your art work! Get rid of those white squares holding the E,F,U,H,S, and S. Then you'll have a really good-looking 9 that both Leonardo and Euclid would be proud of.

But in the end, it really didn't matter. The puzzle was quite enjoyable if you just ignore the 9. Which is exactly what I did.

Frantic Sloth 9:29 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 9:30 AM  

A super easy Tuesday, with lots of uplifting good-spirited thematic clues.
During a very dark season (both celestially, emotionally and politically).
What's not to like?
Oh yeah, rex will tell us . . . .

The Joker 9:36 AM  

and hang your head

TJS 9:42 AM  

Well, yesterday being a Monday, I returned to the archive, where I am working my way through Friday and Saturday puzzles of 2013.And what to my wondering eyes did appear ? A puzzle from the mind of OFL ! Friday, 6/21/13.

Maybe you veterans remember it but it was new to me and I was interested to see how he avoided all the mistakes he finds in his reviews. I won't be specific, but...8 of the first 9 crosses are PPP, if I understand @Zs definition. This makes up the entire NW, NCentral, and NE sections. There are 37 Across entries, of which 18 are PPP, including 7 3-letter abbreviations. I'll leave the rest to those who want to pursue it.

I would be interested in reactions from anyone who has access to the archive and time on their hands. I notice that @Z commented "Great puzzle in my book."

sixtyni yogini 9:47 AM  

Understand the beefs, but just can’t be unhappy while on CLOUD ☁️ 9.
(And the day after solstice and big 🪐 conjunction.j
Cheer all! 🤗🤸🏽‍♀️🤗

Newboy 9:50 AM  

Oh @LMS !! “FLANGE feels anatomical, but I can’t put my finger on it.” Gracias sakes how I miss you when you’re off visiting Great Big Mama.

Liked the solve, but not the grid design....maybe have that central center middle of the 9 be five by five and truly enclose the 9 so it doesn’t look like a g? Always fun to see either Amy or Jeff as commenters, and even better when they tag team as constructors.

Couple second thoughts:

Atypical mentioned by @Z yesterday enjoys a third season on Netflix is pretty well done. At times a bit cringe-worthy & stereotyping in it’s presentation, but better than I had expected.

@Elizabeth (late yesterday) great suggestion to clue TLC as "What a good father provides.”

burtonkd 9:54 AM  

@southsidejohnny - I am definitely charged by the THERM for the gas line to my oven here in NYC. They charge for a minimum of 1 or 2 Therms, but if you look at your usage, it is something like 4% of a therm in a month of regular cooking. The INANE ANTICS of NY ConEd do not leave me in a happy place.

Where exactly is Boogie WONDERLAND if not in our collective imaginations?

The singular Yo Yo playing PAPAHAYDN. Some gifted Flanges. Hi @LMS

It has been worth my brain space to remember Hoda Kotb.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

I'm Grandma and my husband is Pop Pop (granddaughter named him when she was 1-1/2). Other grandparents are Nana (her name is Nanci) and Grandpa. Great grandmother is Nanny, as was her English mother.

Richard 10:03 AM  

This was one of the strangest solving experiences I've ever had (and I do a lotta xwords -- NYT, New Yorker, NY Magazine, Wash. Post). As Rex pointed out, the grid is quite segmented, which led to my filling out the entire left half of the puzzle, top to bottom, before I even looked at a clue on the right. As it turned out, the left half was easy; the right, easy-medium. Oddly satisfying because of this different vibe.

My normal approach, as I suspect is that of most solvers, is to move across the top line and then work down off the initial letters. For some reason, I began the downs after my first entry, HOSS, and thus began the avalanche all the way to the bottom. Fun, fun, fun.

pmdm 10:05 AM  

Seems that when I see "I think" in the write-up the puzzle is going to be panned.

Even though I did not at first recognize the nine (which properly displayed probably would have needed too many black squares) I enjoyed the puzzle.

There are such things as low flying clouds.

I've been listening to The Seasons and The Creation recently. While the performance doesn't send me to CLOUD NINE with SHEER BLISS, at least the music puts me in a HAPPY PLACE.

mathgent 10:14 AM  

Grid art. Right up there with jumbo shrimp and business ethics.

I guess because it is fun to say. Nine is in a lot of expressions like the whole nine yards, dressed to the nines, possession is nine points of the law, a cat has nine lives, a stitch in time saves nine.

I love all numbers and naming a favorite might hurt some of their feelings, but I love nine dearly. It's a "perfect" square, of course, and it's the basis of a delightful quirk of our number system. A number is divisible by nine if and only if the sum of its digits is divisible by nine.

Thanks to Loren for reminding me of that great adverb and adjective. Batshit.

The best part of today's puzzle for me. "A flat one is the best to skip."

bocamp 10:14 AM  

@Amy & @Jeff, thank you both for the "uplifting" Tues. creation. Very grateful for this "wonderful" puzzle! ☃️

Slightly under av. time.

Petit "Papa" Noël - "Nana" Mouskouri

To the grandkids, I'm "Papa"; "grandma" is "Grandma B", and "Nana" is The Darling's St. Bernard nursemaid. I'm also quite fond of "Nana" Mouskouri.

Peace 🕊

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

I wonder how many know von Neumann more as the 'inventor' of the digital computer? What's more, his book has an off-putting title "Theory of Games and Economic Behavior", which was another text, along with Samuelson about the same time, that plunged economics down an algebra rabbit hole. by the way, he only lived to 53; much speculation that the cancer that killed him was the result of his work with atomic weapons.

RooMonster 10:20 AM  

Hey All !
Well, maybe because I sit too close to the screen whilst solving, but I didn't see the Great Big (Hi @LMS!) 9 staring me in the face. It looked like an S with a couple extra blocks. I know there's not a good way to completely put a 9 in a grid, as in enclosing the upper part, but still... If you look at it from a distance, the 9 becomes pretty clear. It took a while (close to the end of the solve) for me to get CLOUD, had the CLO__, and kept thinking, "What could go with S?" Good stuff.

Had a buddy in the Army who was nicknamed HOSS. When I got to my regular unit, I was put in a room with a guy nicknamed Slim, who was friends with HOSS. Slim and I hit it off real well, used to hang out a lot with both Slim and HOSS, although HOSS and I never really bonded as well. They both re-upped, while I left. Hindsight, should've stayed in. That was where I got my nickname of Rooster. *Side story, skip if you'd like.* While in the Army, I had the flattop haircut that I let go for a while, and it stood probably more than an inch straight up, with the shaven lower portion of the head, and Slim said one day, "You look like a Rooster!", and started calling me that after that. When I moved to CT in 1994, I started introducing myself as Rooster. I had a good friend then change it RooMonster, as it sounded more menacing? I guess. But, now you know! I use RooMonster for all my computer related stuff.

LOL!! Stay, please, and tell more zingers!

I called my Grandparents, Gramma and Papa. Gramma was really Grandma, but the D got elided.
Did like this puz. I'll go with Rex about the themers, beside the 9. 31D's clue, "Realm of marvels" had me searching for something from The Marvel Universe. Ya got me on that one, Amy and Jeff. Marvel wasn't capitalized.

Always want ACHOO spelled AHCHOO, but last time AHCHOO was in a puz, a big foofaraw was made how the first H shouldn't be there. And that close to TEPEE, agree with @Frantic, what happened to TEEPEE? and TEEHEE? Is TEPE far behind?

Two F's

JD 10:23 AM  

Filled in this little guy lickety-split. It Cheers me immensely to see the theme carried off so well, especially that big ol' nine.

Flange is right up there with joist in fun words to say that I desperately wish I'll have the opportunity to work into a conversation someday, especially in the same sentence.

As long as we're still pretending that Falsies are eyelashes, it reminds me that some of the originals would've made dandy masks, what with the addition of some string.

Speaking of masks, the Washington Post reports this morning that some YoYos in California shot up a stripper bar with an AK47 because they were thrown out for refusing to wear masks.

Miraculously, no one died. A commenter in the Post said a solution to the problem would be to permit open carry for strippers. Sheer Bliss. What a perfect way to close out 2020.

Birchbark 10:24 AM  

The places in this puzzle are not places. Breathe through it in steady measures: every themer emerges connected and transitory, like a cloud. IN A GOOD WAY.

Back to the ground safely, @TJS (9:42) re @Rex puzzle 6/21/13 (hopefully no spoilers, but specific entries discussed, be warned): I noted a few answers that play to the @Rex theme of old vs. young. In the "Really, Rex?" department, I see an investment bank, a four letter answer clued "Eye lasciviously", and right there in the center a three-letter blotch of fill, just asking for it -- any of these would invite the Rexonian critical ire. But lots of good stuff in there too, like the clue to 28A. The puzzle has its moments and reminds us we are human.

RooMonster 10:26 AM  

"Things we're thankful for"

Santa Claus. And all the Santas in all the stores having all those kids gleefully and wondrously telling them what they want. They keep the magic alive.


jae 10:28 AM  

Medium. Pretty smooth and edenic. Made me smile. Liked it. A fine debut for Amy Yanni.

ghthree 10:42 AM  

From some book I remember the following two-liner:
Answer: Game, Set, and Match. What's the question?
Question: Name two theories developed by John Von Neumann and an incendiary device.

Which reminds me of another answer:question pair:
Answer: Nein, W
Question: Do you spell your name with a V, Herr Wagner?

Today is my wife Jane's birthday. As patients in a Continuing Care Retirement Community, we're unable to get out and celebrate. The upside is that we're getting vaccinated soon. First shot in December, booster shot in February. With luck, we'll be able to celebrate properly next year.

Stay well, everybody.

TJS 10:42 AM  

@Birchbark, Yeah, that "eye lasciviously" is just the tip of the iceberg as far as an unintentional theme of that puzzle, which Ol'Rexie would be deploring in anyone else's work. Pretty amusing.
Cheers for the mods.

Frantic Sloth 10:44 AM  

Later that same day...
(I hope I was able to delete my original post before too many [or any] people saw my stunning ignorance on display in actual print.)

...and after reading Rex & youz...

I was right about one thing(I think): Our own @amyyanni was the constructor (along with Jeff Chen), and making her NYTXW debut - congratulations!
***Note to @Rex: I believe "Amy" is the name. You should correct that.

I liked this more than Rex did - surprise! - but I see his point. (Maybe if he wears a hat, no one will notice, nyuck nyuck!)
Absolutely cannot speak about the nuances or even the oldances of constructioneering, but I know what impresses me.
This impressed me.
However, I was disappointed in the actual themers and their positions alongside interlopers. Plus, perhaps idiotically, I wanted the squares occupied by PAPAHAYDN to be included.
I did appreciate all the long entries, especially on the Tuesdee. The "flow" did feel jerky-jerky at times, but who cares? Oh...speed solvers, I suppose. Too bad, so sad. 😥

Nit? The circles were totally unnecessary. I'm getting a whiff of editor. Or what @BarbieBarbie 642am said. Can't decide.

Coupla, two, tree tings:

Always considered FALSIES to be fake TATAS. Then again, fake lashes and I don't really see...ahem...eye to eye.

So, I guess it's time I just accept the fact that crossworld has obliterated TEePEE as even an optional spelling anymore. Beh. 😕

@LMS As usual, brilliant post. Reading your words is my HAPPYPLACE. I'ma throw you a finger bone and let "FLANGE feels anatomical, but I can’t put my finger on it" go...for now. 😉🤣🤣

@Z 659am I'd love to take a stroll through your head sometime. Properly armored, of course. "Excuse me, sir. Can you direct me to the satanic marina section?"

@GILL 758am 🤣🤣 I'll see your pause and raise you a point!

Did someone say "phaLANGE"?


Nancy 10:46 AM  

Love @mathgent's 10:15 observation about "grid art". Very witty, and I agree 100%.

His musings on the special properties of the number 9 remind me of the math class where I learned that every time you multiply 9 by something, the digits of the product add up to 9: 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90. I was simply enchanted by that. It seemed sort of magical.

I was most hesitant to disagree with @mathgent on anything mathematical (what chutzpa that would be!) until I realized that the quote he cites is a legal concept, not a mathematical one. The correct quote, I think, is "Possession is nine tenths of the law." That's what you meant to say, right, @mathgent?

Z 10:47 AM  

I know I should eschew schadenfreude but somebody “correcting” a linguist CHEERS me.

@TJS - That was a long time ago, so long ago that I’m pretty sure that is before PPP became a “thing.” Looking just at those long answers, every corner has one or two long PPP answer, so I’m mildly surprised that more people didn’t mention struggling in the comments. This might be because the PPP comes from all over the pop culture landscape and/or that the crosses are fair. Still, I doubt I’d give that puzzle a “great” now.
I’ve told the story many times, but seeing @OISK in those comments reminded me of why it did become a thing. Some Saturday I was spouting off about how great a puzzle was and how pop culture free it was. Later that same day @OISK was complaining how difficult the puzzle was because there was so much pop culture in it. I went back and counted and discovered that it was indeed high in PPP. That led me to counting and posting the PPP count for several weeks and determining that somewhere around 33% is where a puzzle would be especially difficult for some subset of solvers.

@Coniuratos - my two most frequently consulted dictionaries both say sherd is a variant of SHARD.

bertoray 10:47 AM  

Not gonna touch that anatomical FLANGE wittisim with a ten foot pole.

Lewis 10:52 AM  

@amyyanni -- Congratulations on your debut! What a joy when a regular commenter here shows up above the puzzle. Enjoy this day, let no balderdash from anyone dim it! Which turns out to have been more exciting -- your first 5K or this?

MarthaCatherine 10:53 AM  

I thought I'd come here and see a dozen comments about FALSIE. Thought falsies were fake boobs. Rubbery things girls put in their bras to look more well-endowed. Thought Rex would have a bit to say about it. Shows what I know.

Never, ever heard of false eyelashes called falsies. Maybe it's a regional thing.

Carola 11:02 AM  

I thought this was an exceptionally fine, dare I say multi-layered, Tuesday puzzle: the puffy cloud atop its nine and four more lovely theme answers, along with the through-the-looking-glass pair of equally unreal-in-their-own-way counterparts BAD SCIENCE and GAME THEORY.

In real life I have trouble connecting the dots in a metaphoric sense, and it seems that in crosswords I'm equally bad at connecting squares, as it took me a good while to see the 9. At first I thought we were supposed to tot up those chunks of three squares in the C shape around the CLOUD. For15A, I'd have guessed LEO if the square count had worked out, so I was glad to see him appear at the bottom of the grid.

TTrimble 11:17 AM  

Cool to see the origin of your name!

Inevitably, though, I'm reminded of that Alice in Chains song, Rooster. About a soldier in Vietnam (semi-biographical, after Jerry Cantrell's dad).

Anonymous 11:18 AM  


last time I checked, most bras these days come with falsies pre-installed. they're called 'padded'. some even push up the assets for better display.

Frantic Sloth 11:37 AM  

@Newboy 950am Thanks for the Atypical review. Without seeing any of it, I imagined the same.'s dang near impossible to deny the hypnotic powers of The Z, so I'll give it a gander anyway. 😉

Big Mama, Great Big Mama, and the incomparable Yo Yo Ma (thanks to @burtonkd 954am): a trifecta of delight!

Not for nuthin', but I'm giddy with smugitude that some missed the giant 9 (little g) in the grid and for once, I saw it! Only wish @Lewis was here to bear witness. 😕 Oh, wait - there he is! (1052am) @Lewis! Come back! 🤣🤣

@Roo 1020am Thank you for the "side story" because, you know, "inquiring minds"...and mine. So sorry you caught my original post. 🤷‍♀️

@JD 1023am and yesterday Welcome back! Where in tarnation, girl?? And why are you so familiar with the FALSIE family of fauxery? Funny!
And thanks for the cheery news item, Chuckles. 😉

@TJS and @Birchbark I guess the thought for the day is:
"Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can do neither... Rexicate?"

@ghthree 1042am Happy birthday to Mrs. Three! Love that you'll both be vaccinated soon and your upbeat take on it all! Yay, you!

@Z 1047am Unlike you, I'm just petty enough to chew on schadenfreude and savor it! Is that so wrong? I noticed that, too and will wait...but, might never happen.

@MarthaCatherine 1053am You're not alone. There are a few comments, but not as many as I expected either. What is wrong with people???😉

Oh, and damn you, autocorrect!! It was supposed to be herky-jerky. Honestly, jerky-jerky?? C'mon!!

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

LMS, you almost got me with that flange/finger bit :)

TJS 12:04 PM  

@Z, thanks for the response. That puzzle had some good stuff too. I didn't really mind the solve, just taken by the comparison to the complaints Rex constantly refers to. I do admire the fact that he has been doing this for so long, and for giving us our soap box.

What? 12:08 PM  

If you don’t stop to pick the nits, very enjoyable - and clever. So there are over 40 blacks, so the grid is segmented, it still sent me to a happy place.

Frantic Sloth 12:12 PM  

Excuse me.

Full disclosure: Just in case...I don't subscribe to the "those who" adage because it's ridiculous. There are many of us who can do anything. There are probably many more of us who cannot do anything.
I am their Queen.

Nancy 12:17 PM  

Has very recently changed its format? Today I tried to find the 6/21/13 puzzle that TJS mentions and couldn't access it. Yesterday I tried to access another puzzle from the past and couldn't get that one either. Yet last week I found an old puzzle with no difficulty. Has anyone else had the same problem recently?

Masked and Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Kinda different overall feel. Liked it. Plus, has yer asymmetric puzgrid art.
I vote for keepin the cloud peekin out from (or maybe kinda driftin in front of) the Big 9. Interconnection of theme parts is almost always a plus.

Lotsa cool weeject stacks ensued. Ironically, nine weejects are housed inside the Big 9. [An extra SAM weeject is also in the neighborhood, too boot.] staff pick: COW. Becuz of its semi-moo-cow eazy-E clue.

sparkliest of the sparklers: GAMETHEORY. INAGOODWAY (debut).
Also interestin, tho ...

* PAPAHAYDN. Weird. A debut entry, which comes as no surprise, at our house. Is this a desperate offerin? -- or have I just completely missed out on some whole composer-fandom thing?

* YOYOS. M&A was left reflectin on why this particular POC was chosen to inhabit the south-central puzsector. Surely they could have chosen some non-plural stuff, there? But, hey -- I got nuthin against YOYOS. Somethin about CAT LIVES woulda been most primo, tho...

@Muse: Congratz on yer batshit adverb watch finally comin to a successful fruitionation. Way to hang in there, darlin.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Amy darlin and Chenmeister dude. Congratz on yer half-debut, Amy Yanni.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

xmas fix:

Nancy 12:27 PM  

OMG, it's Amy Yanni, our Rexblog runner! I knew your name sounded familiar, Amy, but I didn't connect it with you -- maybe because I think of you primarily as a runner, rather than as a constructor -- not that they're mutually exclusive, of course. It took @Lewis to draw my attention to the fact that you're a "regular" on the blog. Let me join him in [belatedly] congratulating you on having your debut puzzle in the NYT. Sorry I didn't pick up on it earlier.

Joaquin 12:31 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JD 12:43 PM  

@Frantic! Been slaving in the salt mines of investment bankers. They unlocked the door this week and sent me home. I think they use this time to count the money.

I'm familiar with falsies for the same reason I wasn't more gainfully employed in that ill-fated stripper bar at the time of the attack. Which reminds, this may be a milestone in constitutional law when they argue the right of boobs to bare arms vs. the right of boobs to be bared safely. I can't stop myself.

PS, You n me were on the same page with Blather Plaza on Sunday (aka Blather Plaza and Speedway, specializing in stockcars, BB&Q, and political rallies). Woo, I've missed this space.

Some people are just on fire here today (you know who you are people)!

Joaquin 12:55 PM  

@RooMonster - Thanks for explaining your most unusual handle. I had incorrectly assumed that you were large and from Australia.

Myself, I was named for my Mexican uncle who had neither a car nor bus fare.

newbie 1:04 PM  

What Sixtyni said.

It's all good. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Remind me not to learn too much about constructing puzzles.

Frantic - I text "stupid autocorrect!" so much that my cell gives it to me as a suggestion when I type "stu" ��! I used to disable it on my PC and laptop because it was so annoying.

I like the Rooster/RooMonster story. May we call you Rooster? Or Roo?

ghthree - Celebrating inside,together, is great! We did (that just got autocorrected to "dud!" �� ) it, too. Like everything else this year, you just have to go with the flow. Enjoy it. Happy Birthday, Jane! ����☕����������

newbie 1:14 PM  

Only my coffee cup emoji came through. What's up with that? Anyway, they were: laughing with tear faces, then lots of celebratory things including, but not limited to: sunshine, a birthday cake, a heart box of chocolates, a rainbow, an ice cream sundae, etc. I guess coffee IS the most important.

Teedmn 1:15 PM  

@amyyanni, congratulations on your constructing debut!

I understand what Rex is getting at when he picks apart the theme answers but while I was solving, I saw no problem with SHEER BLISS connecting with any of the others.IN A GOOD WAY did briefly confuse me as a theme answer but I somehow recovered from that.

@joaquin, @Gill I and @M&A hit my funny bone today with the cloud, nein, big paws, and batshit congrats. LOL.

I must have been in my HAPPY PLACE today because this went Monday fast for me today. Perhaps the fact that I used to work as a purchasing agent buying flanged metal parts helped me turn the NW corner easily. My only pause was at 10A/10D. 10A's clue wasn't obvious and 10D, I know nothing about squash, the game. But yum, love the veggie.

newbie 1:20 PM  

...and a vaccine emoji!

jberg 1:32 PM  

Is my face red! I picked NAw instead of NAH, which resulted in SwEEt BLISS. Not as idiomatic as the correct answer, but it still fit. I wondered about the tourist destination starting with COt, but just let the crosses fill themselves in -- maybe my unconscious had noticed "Kotb" in the clues, and decided this was the day for C/K-OT thins. Then I forgot about, it, and never looked back.

Um, @Rex, are you saying that WONDERLAND is a "a place (a literal physical space)" while SHANGRI-LA is not? I hate to break it to you, but "Alice in Wonderland" is fiction; Lewis Carroll made it up, the same way James Hilton made up Shangri-La in "Lost Horizon." We did have a dog track named Wonderland near here until the voters (me included) banned that particular form of animal abuse.

I find myself bothered by the "rural dialect" part of the clue for HOSS. That's just an accent rendered phonetically. Most rural people speak English, but pronunciation varies (as it does in cities).

I did like seeing HALF of the yin-yang symbol crossing half of the golden arches, as well as the climate debate between OIL and SOLAR power.

@SSouthside Johnny -- my last gas bill says I used 253 CCF which amounted to 260 THERMS.

Frantic Sloth 1:34 PM  

@JD 1243pm LOL! Now there's my girl! For once, greed really is good if it affords you the time to join us!

@newbie 104pm LOL! I suppose if "stupid" were the only consistent adjective (let your mind wander) I used for autocorrect, I might be helped out suggestion-wise, too. 😉
BTW, the black question marks happen if you "preview" your post. Only a leap of faith "publish your comment" will allow emojis. Don't ask me why - just one of several petty annoyances courtesy of Blogger.

Elizabeth Sandifer 2:12 PM  

Man, I usually get to justify my curmudgeonry with the comforting knowledge that I’m less so than Rex, but he’s way more charitable to this than I would have been. Theme answers *right next to* identically-lengthed non-themers, one of which (INAGOODWAY) is clearly similar to the theme? Vaguely coherent and largely bland theme? That godawful center of the 9, which, while all gimme three-letters, was still an isolated puzzle with only one cross out? And just a lot of tedious fill all clued like a Wednesday? Nah, I spent the last three minutes of this wishing it was over.

Z 2:12 PM  

I believe the legal term is “auto-corrupt.”

@newbie - Not sure what happened but for me emojis show up as long as I don’t preview. If I do preview the emojis turn into those black question mark thingies. No idea why the coffee would make it through in that situation, though.

@Frantic Sloth - “You can check out any time you want but you can never leave.” And, yes, the Hotel California is in Rye. The Yelp! reviews for the wooden rollercoaster are all about the unHAPPY PLACE.

GILL I. 2:17 PM  

Yay @JD is back and in true form. I can't wait for more banter betwixt two of my favorite banters. You know who you are, @Frantic.... FALSIE story......At the age of 12 I was tall but I was also flat as a pancake. No one dared make fun of me because I could pound the hamburger out of the boys and the girls....EXCEPT...this one girl. She had the biggest tatas this side of the Mississippi. Her dad was also a sumo wrestler so I left her alone. Anyway, for some reason I wanted her to be my friend. She told me to just stuff my bra with tissues and no one would know the difference. Well, as luck would have it, I forgot to take the tissues out of my bathing suit. We were all swimming in my friends swimming pool and out pops and floats my yellow Kleenex. It's not like they were small pieces just floating...oh no, I had a wad in their that could have blown an elephants nose.
Moral of the story: Save your Kleenex for a blow job.

Douglas 2:37 PM  

Why is it that everyone complains about a difficult solve. Just because it’s hard doesn’t make it a bad puzzle. Isn’t a struggle that makes us rack our brains what makes this a fun venture?

JD 3:06 PM  

Oh @Gill, I missed you!

Anonymous 4:02 PM  


Kleenex? We don't need no stinkin Kleenex? It's just a jello shot.

blinker474 5:26 PM  

When I looked at the puzzle and saw the 9, I knew that it would be themed around Ted Williams. Alas.

Anonymous 5:52 PM  

Ah yes, fellatio jokes. Stay classy board.

Anonymous 6:09 PM  

No one here thought sixty?

Frantic Sloth 6:19 PM  

@GILL I. 217pm (What is that "I." for?? Do I type it? Do I not type it? Whaaat??)

Coupla thoughts on the FALSIE story:
1. 🤣🤣🤣
2. You might have done better wearing the Kleenex on your eyelids.
3. If I were to save my Kleenex according to your moral, it would never see the light of day. 😳
4. Again, 🤣🤣🤣

@Anonymous 552pm I know I can speak for @GILL, when I say "you're welcome." 😉

Joaquin 6:31 PM  

@Anonymous (5:52) - Why so cirrus?

Anonymous 7:02 PM  

That’s funny, and proof there’s no need to descend into the gutter to get a laugh.
But to answer the question ( and surely become the object of ridicule), I think the inclination to tell the blow job joke is indicative of a certain licentiousness when it comes to sexual mores. Setting aside that the act itself is disordered, it doesn’t pass the polite society test.
That joke wouldn’t make it past and of the major network’s standards and practices. Here, it’s celebrated as a bon mot. I say that’s a pity not a cause for laughter.

Anonymous 7:39 PM  


alas, Boston is not really the Hub of the Universe. :)

Jim Lemire 8:49 PM  

@LMS My grandmother was “Nonna”. When my daughter was born, my mom became “Nonna” and my grandmother became “Super Nonna”. She enjoyed that.

GILL I. 9:11 PM  

For those of you offended by my blowing my nose with a Kleenex , may I offer a thousand pardons to your sensitive nasal passages. I mean no offense. You may now go back to clutching your pearls.

jaymar 12:24 AM  

Cheers— the bar on TV show with Great characters including Rhea Perlman —
Enjoyed this Tuesday

WinthorpeIII 2:18 AM  

I enjoyed that!

thefogman 11:05 AM  

Here’s what Rex made me think of after reading his review. (Copy and paste in address bar)

spacecraft 1:00 PM  

Didn't feel like a Tuesday, off the get-go. And yet there were these gimmes thrown in. This time it seemed like "OK, I know I was asking a lot with that down clue, so here are a couple of auto-fills across to help you out."

These days many of us need a HAPPYPLACE, so INAGOODWAY this theme was welcome. We're ALL "Masked and Anonymous" now, aren't we? @M&A, you were ahead of your time. ROSIE Perez reprises as DOD. Welcome to a Tuesday that burns a few gray cells for a change. Birdie.

Oh, and--again--would somebody wake up the syndilinker? Thank you.

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

From Syndication Land

So nice when Loren Muse Smith shows up here. Makes this my happy place!

Burma Shave 4:58 PM  


OLD folks ROSIE and AXEL played HALF the day,
WONDERLAND GAMEs, mostly law abidin’,
but where were NANA and PAPAHAYDN?


leftcoaster 5:30 PM  

You gotta add @Gill I. to your list of must-read commenters, if you haven’t already. She’s a hoot, like today on her FALSIEs story.

As for the puzzle, it’s good but not that good.

Diana, LIW 5:38 PM  

I agree with @Spacey about the puzzle difficulty and about the SyndiLink!!

But, in the end, a heavenly way to spend another Tuesday in Puzzledom.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 8:49 PM  

The corners were a HERO.

Whatever happened to CBS correspondent and yeah baby LARA Logan?

Pretty good for a Tues-puz.

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