Rapper who forms one half of duo Black Star / WED 12-2-20 / Channel that became Spike TV / Film auteur Miyazaki / Classic 1960 platinum-selling Miles Davis album

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Constructor: Will Nediger

Relative difficulty: Medium (well under 5 to finish, but then another two point five minutes finding the bad square ... that's two complete checks of the Acrosses and Downs before I noticed the screw-up, bah)

THEME: FRUIT (60A: Type of food whose outsides are suggested by the outsides of 17-, 29-, 43- and 55-Across) — "outsides" of the themers are letters that spell out "outsides" of FRUIT:

Theme answers:
  • "SKETCHES OF SPAIN" (17A: Classic 1960 platinum-selling Miles Davis album)
  • PEA GRAVEL (29A: Small stones used for driveways)
  • ZEITGEIST (43A: Spirit of the age)
  • RIGHT THIS SECOND (55A: "Like ... now!")
Word of the Day: HAYAO Miyazaki (14A: Film auteur Miyazaki) —

Hayao Miyazaki
 (宮崎 駿Miyazaki Hayao[mijaꜜzaki hajaꜜo]; born 5 January 1941) is a Japanese animator, director, producer, screenwriter, author, and manga artist. A co-founder of Studio Ghibli, a film and animation studio, he has attained international acclaim as a masterful storyteller and as a maker of animated feature films, and is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished filmmakers in the history of animation. [...] Miyazaki co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985. He directed numerous films with Ghibli, including Castle in the Sky (1986), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki's Delivery Service(1989), and Porco Rosso (1992). The films were met with critical and commercial success in Japan. Miyazaki's film Princess Mononoke was the first animated film ever to win the Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year, and briefly became the highest-grossing film in Japan following its release in 1997; its distribution to the Western world greatly increased Ghibli's popularity and influence outside Japan. His 2001 film Spirited Awaybecame the highest-grossing film in Japanese history, winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards and is frequently ranked among the greatest films of the 2000s. Miyazaki's later films—Howl's Moving Castle (2004), Ponyo(2008), and The Wind Rises (2013)—also enjoyed critical and commercial success. Following the release of The Wind Rises, Miyazaki announced his retirement from feature films, though he returned to work on a new feature film in 2016. (wikipedia)
• • •

We'll start with the one significant problem with this theme, which is one of these four is not like the others, and that one is "zest." There's no doubt that "zest" does indeed come from the outside of a FRUIT (commonly, a lemon or lime), but zest the other three (peel rind skin) are complete outer coverings, whereas "zest" is only the very outer layer of that covering. It's not akin to peel, it is, in fact, a subset of peel. It's part of the peel. Again, a lawyer for this puzzle will tell you that the clue only says "outside" and you can't deny blah blah blah but this is the outside of something you have already labeled as an outside and so "zest" suffers from non-equivalency, boo. Luckily, this is really the only complaint I have about this theme, which is nicely executed. Really feels like I've seen it before, but when the execution (that is to say, the actual answers you use for your FRUIT outsides) is so colorful and vivid, that's really all that matters. You can take a basic, even a fairly tired, theme-type and execute it so originally and neatly that no one will care about theme originality. If the execution's original, there you go. And every one of these themers is a shiny little answer in its own right, theme or no theme. It's always nice to have the revealer produce a genuine "aha," as this one did, but it's also important that the solving experience was enjoyable on the way to that "aha," and today, for me, for the most part, it was.

Felt bad that I got very badly crushed by HAYAO. I know Miyazaki's work reasonably well. I watched "Spirited Away" (not for the first time) just a few months ago. But it turns out I know him *only* by his last name. I knew his first name started with "H" and ended in "O," but after that I was lost. Kept wanting HIDEO, which I knew was wrong (HIDEO Nomo is a former baseball pitcher of some note ... pitched a couple no-hitters, I think). So I really struggled in NW, far more than anywhere else. Found "OH, SNAP!" (1D: Comment after a zinger) and "MAKE ME!" (2D: "You and whose army?!") pretty hard too, and EYEWEAR, oof, that's where I had my wrong square (3D: Shades and such). Before I got the EYE part, I had -EAR and decided the "and such" of the clue indicated some kind of GEAR. And then I never checked the cross. Big mistake. Ended with NEG at 20A: Green (NEW). And because NEG is a not-uncommon xword answer, I didn't register it as wrong the first time I scanned the grid for my error. None of this is the puzzle's fault. I'm just glad I knew what PEA GRAVEL was, because without that PEA, the NW would've been truly harrowing. 

Really dislike the clue on OMENS, which, again, you gotta get the puzzle's lawyer involved to justify that clue. "Breaking" is singular. It refers to a singular event or to a general practice. Either way, pluralizing "mirrors" doesn't get you to OMENS. Still a singular "omen." This is an exceedingly cheap way to create confusion. It's literally a singular noun phrase, and the answer is plural. Nope. No. "Broken mirrors" = OMENS? Sure. "Breaking of mirrors" = OMENS? Extremely not. Beyond that, I had my usual "A" / "E" hesitation with DEFOE (9D: "Robinson Crusoe" novelist) despite the fact that I regularly teach "Robinson Crusoe," and I had a ton of trouble coming up with WRITHES (wanted only WRIGGLES, and as the first few letters fell into place, well, I still wanted WRIGGLES, despite the fact that it obviously didn't fit) (33D: Squirms). Most of the rest of the solve went much more smoothly. I love the expression "NO SOAP!" I've decided (50A: "Not gonna happen"). It's old-timey in a way I enjoy. Reminds me of Edward G. Robinson exclaiming "NO SOAP!" in "Double Indemnity" (1944) during his explanation of why his insurance company boss's suicide theory in the Dietrichson case is complete hogwash. Please enjoy one of the greatest monologues in movie history:

And good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 6:37 AM  

Finally! A crossword homage to fruit coverings. It’s about damn time!

Lewis 6:38 AM  

Will N, you had me at the abutting ZEITGEIST and ZEPHYR, two most lovely words, whose ethereal beauty is so beautifully balanced by the down-to-earth SHEESH and GEE, which both cross the two. You continued to charm me with the pair of KEW as in Kew Gardens and HYDE as in Hyde Park, the abutting RED and DYED, the backward DEF supporting MOS DEF, and the crossing of NO SOAP and COLOGNE, because the latter may be the solution to the former.

Your theme helped my solve; after figuring it out, I got RIGHT THIS SECOND with just the final ND.

I loved the six answers you added to the NYT canon: BAITING, GRAUMAN, GRINDR, THE WAVES, XFINITY, and HAYAO. The Wiki article on Grauman is a fun read, by the way.

So, on top of a smooth clean grid – one of your hallmarks – you brought a satisfying solve, mixed with bits of beauty and learning. An overall terrific experience, Sir Will, for which I’m very grateful.

kitshef 7:18 AM  

Three puzzles this week so far – all solved as themelesses.

I’m guessing this played a lot easier for anyone who has heard of SKETCHES OF SPAIN, HAYAO(?), and/or GRINDR(??). I feel I was lucky to know who MOS DEF is, or that cross with GRINDR would have been impossible.

KEW Gardens are an absolutely lovely place to spend a day or ten. Plus they sell their own gin, made from plants grown there.

SouthsideJohnny 7:29 AM  

It sounds like Rex breezed through this one pretty effortlessly (except for his one mistake), but boy did it play Friday tough for me. Never heard of the film director, the Virginia Woolf novel, the Chinese theater or the record album from like 80 years ago. Also never heard of the LGBT movies or the Cambodian or Spanish stuff so everything north of the equator turned into pretty much a complete wasteland for me. Just not enough crosses to parse together the Dark Matter entries. Definitely a not in my wheelhouse day.

I wonder how many people will actually grok the theme - I sure didn’t. Rex liked it though and he can be pretty tough when he doesn’t think it holds up (or if he doesn’t like the constructor). Sometimes the theme is so convoluted that it is nearly indiscernible - this one certainly comes close. I suspect it will me warmly received by many of the veteran solvers who post here though.

drubytue 7:30 AM  

Ugh, I had NOSOUP and could not find the error.

Doug Garr 8:09 AM  

I loved this puzzle, and even though it was a tough solve for a mid-level x-worder like me, I smiled at so many answers. As a jazz buff I knew Sketches of Spain right away, which gave me a great start. The NW was last and I was as confounded as Rex by it. Zephyr and zeitgeist was great, and I even got Mos Def, though I know next to nothing about hip-hop and rap. Glad someone thought it was Friday hard -- I thought it was just right for Wednesday.

Chris 8:11 AM  

I'd never heard "NOSOAP" but somehow solved this one four minutes faster than yesterday's. No real complaints or fun moments to raise, it was a fine puzzle for what I hope will be a fine day for us all.

thfenn 8:14 AM  

Not as elegant as yesterday but close. And had a nice tilt towards Europe after Monday's nod to Canada (Kew, Hyde, Etna, Irish Sea, Rafael, zeitgeist, cologne, heralds, and that Mile's Davis album).

My own "zest doesn't work" sentiment came from my understanding, or lack thereof, that zest isn't zest until you scrape it off the peel. I didn't realize it was actually the outer layer of the peel, I thought, oddly enough, it became zest when you scraped it off and spread it on something.

Held on to NOSOuP for too long but the typo that took me forever to see was XFINITi crossing DiED, which I thought was kind of fun. Also think "you and whose army" is more fun than "make me" as far as retorts go. Fun Wednesday.

N.O. Clue 8:20 AM  

I found the clueing a bit off in a few cases. For example...

While OAS is concerned with the security of the Western Hemisphere, one would hardly call it a defense group (as compared to, say, NATO). Its focus is much more on political, economic, and social cooperation among the member states- with attention to mutual security. But that is hardly a defense alliance. Just one look at the its lovely headquarters building on 17th and Constitution in DC and you will instantly be disavowed of any notion that there are generals running around inside. Heck, the headquarters campus includes an Art Museum of the Americas building. Don't think you'll find anything like that at NATO headquarters.

While Call Me By My Name and Moonlight both have gay protagonists and deal with themes of same sex relationships and love, categorizing the genre as LGBT strikes me as rather narrow and, even, ghettoizing. These are coming of age movies - and that, i think, is the genre. if you want to specify further and call them coming of age movies with LGBT themes, fine. But I would not consider LGBT in and of itself as a genre.

Otherwise, fine puzzle.

Rug Crazy 8:20 AM  

Enjoyed Rex's entry today. Pretty much ignored the theme, myself. Love the Edward G. Video in post

pabloinnh 8:21 AM  

HAYAO, eh? Talk about your NOC's. Hooray for crosses or I'd still be trying random letters there.

The best part of this puzzle was deciphering the "outsides" factor and finally seeing that they were the first two and last two letters of the answers. AHA! I cried, feeling all smart, which makes this a good puzzle.

If I wanted to pick nits a la OFL, I would point out that a ZEPHYR is specifically a west wind, although usage seems to make it allowable to call a "gentle breeze" a ZEPHYR as well. Of course IMHO, "zest" is part of the outside of a fruit, which is good enough for me. Alas, nit pickers gonna pick.

Learned a thing or two, found some esoteric stuff that I knew, which is always fun, and this one had both ZEITGEIST and SHEESH, which makes it an enjoyable solve as well as a nice feat of construction. Kudos to WN, and thanks for a nice start to the day.

Z 8:25 AM  

Because someone said the New Yorker puzzle skewed heavily PPP I decided to a little comparison today (it’s the only day the purported difficulty levels are roughly similar). As a result I reversed my usual pattern and did the New Yorker puzzle first. Midway through my solving of today’s NYTX I had to double check because Nediger captures the New Yorker feel. From LGBT and GRINDR to HATHA Yoga and ZEITGEIST this puzzle really popped a lot more than a typical NYTX. Even when we get our required 1990’s reference it is for COLOGNE. Based on absolutely nothing, I would have guessed that the editorial team would have used Old Spice or English Leather for their COLOGNE clue, so I was as pleased as I could ever be with them going with Eternity.

The theme is cute, but this puzzle is just as good as a themeless. The grid spanners are nice, lots of fresh fill of medium length, and the gluey 3-letter fill was mostly okay (SNL, IDI Amin, ECO and SOT are all tired, but didn’t rankle because everything else is pretty good).

My only complaint is that the PPP is high, and that’s compounded by unnecessary PPP answers. 29 of 74 (39%) of the answers are Pop Culture, Product Names, or other Proper Nouns. So why go to Monopoly to clue RED and The Hobbit to clue RING. Totally unnecessary PPP cluing in an already PPP heavy puzzle. Bah!

Oh, the New Yorker puzzle? 21 of 70 for 30% and 3 unnecessary PPP clues. Also, the cultural center of that PPP seems only slightly fresher than typical NYTX, with it being more 1998-2002 rather than 1990-1995. It was an interesting day to pick to compare because it really felt like the puzzles swapped places. Nevertheless, on the PPP question, they vary from puzzle to puzzle, but the range is about the same.

bocamp 8:43 AM  

@Will, thx for the challenge; not anywhere near my wheelhouse, but not your fault. I'll try to learn from the experience! :)

This one was a battle all the way. Good theme, tho; not that it helped the solve. Needless to say, over av. time. LOL

Write-overs: 25A "Raffie"; 49A "faci"; 55A "right this minute"; 63A "Sytco".

New: "LGBT" (as clued); "Hayao"; "Sketches of Spain"; "Grindr"; "Aria" (as clued; sooree @Roo, haven't been to Vegas since '60); "Sysco"; "Xfinity"; "haṭha"; "The Waves"; "SNL (as clued); "Mos Def" (as clued); "cologne" (as clued).

Hazy: "Kew"; "foci"; "oh snap"; "OAS".

Sp.: "avowel"; "Defoe vs Dafoe".

Fav clues/answers: "pea gravel"; "excels"; "CFOs"; "zeitgeist"; "sheesh"; "no soap"; "right this second"; "oh snap"; "make me" (or as @Frantic might say: "and you can't "make me"); "eye wear"; "baiting"; "heralds"; "X games"; "writhes"; "riotous"; "zephyr"; "scenic"; "cry".

WOTD: haṭha

LOTD: Kymer

SOTD: Galway Bay

And if there's going to be be a life here after,
and something tells me sure there's going to be
I will ask my God to let me make my Heaven,
In that dear land across the "Irish Sea".

FOTD: Most Popular "Fruit"s In The World

Novelty: Over the "Irish Sea" by The Singing Kettle

"Cologne": Old Spice in jr. hi.; English Leather in h.s and thereafter.

Peace 平和 Paz Frieden Pace Shanti صلح Pax Santiphap Amani 🕊

ChuckD 8:45 AM  

Didn’t have an issue with the theme construct like Rex did - but just thought it was flat and boring. The remaining fill was nice though and resulted in an enjoyable solve. Liked ZEPHYR x ZEITGEIST and IRISH SEA. MOS DEF is cool but a side eye to the crossing FOCI.

THE WAVES is a tough one to get thru - structurally and emotionally. So many distinct characters in different voice and like most of her work - an overwhelming melancholy. I would consider it borderline obscure for a Wednesday.

Theme was blah - but the overall puzzle fine. I liked it.

Z 8:48 AM  

@N.O. Clue - Regarding OAS, Fair point. In defense of the clue the US clearly saw it as a bulwark against the spread of communism when it was founded. Also, I don’t quite know how to reduce your nuanced and better take into a pithy crossword clue.
I also agree with your take on the LGBT clue, it is otherizing. It bothers me less than it seems to bother you only because it seems like acknowledging the LGBT characters are the central characters is a necessary step in our society at the moment. But that Netflix has a whole LGBT category so that people can know what not to watch because it will make them uncomfortable is problematic. I’m curious, now, if they also put these films in their other categories. Will I find Call Me By My Name with the other “coming-of-age” films? I don’t know.

Seth 8:53 AM  

As an LGBT person myself, seeing GRINDR on the New York Times crossword felt a bit scandalous, though I figure this puzzle's just more in tune with the ZEITGEIST than the usual fare.

I first thought the theme was kind of unnecessary, but it did actually help because I've never heard of SKETCHES OF SPAIN or PEA GRAVEL, and while I had SPAIN and GRAVEL in, it gave me the clues needed to fill in the rest. Really happy to see HAYAO in there, and although I've never heard of NO SOAP before I was able to guess it because that sounds like a sufficiently old-timey and dated crossword answer. Really nice puzzle all around.

Unknown 9:00 AM  

Great theme; i really don't understand rex's issue with "zest," unless he was just looking for something to find fault with.
Re: Z's pronouncement that "Netflix has a whole LGBT category so that people can know what not to watch because it will make them uncomfortable," that is a very interesting take. I assume that "genre" is listed so that those folks who want to watch a gay-themed movie will know where to look.

Re: Z's comment on the New Yorker puz (not to pick on Z), there is a tired old saw that the New Yorker is somehow fresher. I challenge *anyone* in this group to look at the puzzles as a blind test, and to be able to discern which puzzle came from which source. The puzzles are virtually interchangeable, and indeed, many of the constructors are the same. It's a false comparison, and Z has swallowed rex's Kool Aid on this one.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

(PSST! SSH, I think @Rex was so distracted by his error that he didn't see IDI & SOT, 2 of his favorites.)

John 9:05 AM  

BLACK STAR???? Really, I will bet 99.9999% of crossword solvers could care less and find zero interest in rappers and the utter destruction of our language. Art? Please...don't.

RooMonster 9:06 AM  

Hey All !
As your resident Las Vegas, well, resident, the ARIA clue is absolutely wrong. The Cosmopolitan is twixt the Bellagio and the ARIA. Quite a large Hotel/Casino to just completely overlook. So, it goes from North to South on the West side of The Strip, Bellagio, Cosmopolitan, ARIA.

Aside from that, this was a nice WedsPuz. Got SHEESH for @LMS, I always get a good chuckle when she uses it. And a ZEITGEIST for @Nancy and @Z. And NO SOAP which is a funny saying. We had that in a puz not too long ago, no?

Did figure out the theme, so Yay me! Wondering about FRUITs symmetric word, though. Why not part of theme? Like LEMON or another FRUIT? Asking for a friend.

Two-letter DNF today. EXCEsS/REIs, KEh/THEhAVES. You know I don't know novels et. al., So THE hAVES sounded logical, even if KEh made no sense!

Had noir for LGBT first, as hadn't heard of those films.

Five F's

Nancy 9:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Neil 9:22 AM  


Ironically to 10A, watched Philadelphia (1993) last night for the first time.

Crosswords are great because this one reminded me that I need to watch the Miyazaki movies and add Double Indemnity to the queue, but also made someone mad who had never heard of BlackStar even though he will not listen to them. The BlackStar album is a legitimate triumph of the form, true poetry. Respiration is my favorite track on there.

Frantic Sloth 9:31 AM  

Saw the byline, cringed, donned my armor, climbed into the concrete pillbox and dug in.

Huh. Wasn't nearly as difficult as I feared. No Naticks crouching in the bushes or stalking me from the duck blind. Just some good, honest thinking that didn't hurt as much as it usually does.
What gives?

I wonder if what looks like a mini theme of "green" (clues for 30A, 40A, 37D) is TIEDTO the FRUIT whatsitz.
I mean as a side dish to the themer fruit wrappings:
SK _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _IN
PE _ _ _ _ _ EL
ZE _ _ _ _ _ST
RI _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ND

Probably not, but the "greens" were noticeable to me, which takes some doing.
And then there was that wee little RED all by its lonesome in the SW corner with no hope of overcoming all the green on behalf of ripening.

It seems I'm just not letting go of this. Is that so WRONGS?

Sword of Stoopit Merit Badge Winning Entry: Always like the word ZEPHYR and yet had some inexplicable struggles with its spelling. ZEffiR (WTF??) to ZEPHiR (still not awake) to ZEPHYR (finally!) I can't even with this. But, there it was.

Upshot: Surprisingly enjoyable!


Xcentric 9:36 AM  

Played harder than a typical Wednesday, but enjoyed the challenge. @southsidejohnny - played like a Friday to me too.
Enjoyed the new answers, as pointed out by @lewis
Liked the clue for CFOS
Agree with Rex that zest is basically rind, and so an outlier.
No soap, radio. Anyone remember that one?
Enjoyed seeing sheesh in a puzzle. Sums up how I felt when finally getting the happy music.

bagelboy 9:37 AM  

I fell into the SOUP also

Nancy 9:40 AM  

I saw @Joaquin's hilarious comment at the top of the blog on my way to the comment box and completely cracked up. Nothing I can possibly say could top it.

A cute theme that I completely missed until I got to THE clue for FRUIT. Then, because it helped me get FRUIT, I appreciated it.

Oh, look, @Z!!! ZEITGEIST!!! Our favorite word is here!

It's hard to believe that SKETCHES OF PAIN, a title I didn't know, went platinum. I must remember to call my next album "Suffering, The Likes Of Which You Won't Believe!"

I was awfully slow at getting KEW. I kept thinking that I'd been in London and I couldn't remember a district called KAY.

This is a pretty easy puzzle by the usual standards of my oft-collaborator Will Nediger. I think he's being nice to us. Enjoy it, everyone, because next time he may require us to work harder. In fact, next time it might be "Suffering, The Likes of Which You Won't Believe!"

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

@Z. I am curious about your statement that the reason for Netflix having an LGBTQ category is to trigger warn certain viewers. What more do you know about that?

KnittyContessa 9:44 AM  

Saw the S in 17a and immediately put in sessions, that slowed me down.
Stumbled again in the NE. I was reluctant to put in LIPO at 10D. I never thought of it as surgery so spent a minute trying to think of an abbreviation for gastric bypass.

Pretty easy but fun Wednesday. Zs always make me smile.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Pretty good puzz. Green suits/CFOS was a reach. Hope Mr Nediger didn't hurt his arm.

57stratocaster 9:57 AM  

Love to hear that Mr. smarty pants left eargear in there during "two complete checks of the Acrosses and Downs." Which makes Skrtches of Spain a "new" classic Miles Davis album....

The future's so loud, I gotta wear earshades.

Nancy 9:58 AM  

I was just corrected on the Wordplay Blog, where I learned that I had misread SKETCHES OF SPAIN as SKETCHES OF PAIN. Oops. Sorry. Should I apologize to Miles or to Will?

sixtyni yogini 9:59 AM  

Loved it. Fast and enjoyable.
Good week for the puzz.

Sami 10:09 AM  


"This ghetto-fabulous life look pretty. What a pity."

Joaquin 10:16 AM  

@Nancy - You may be on to something. "Sketches of Pain" would be the ideal album as a tribute (paean?) to the Trump years.

TJS 10:16 AM  

Rex' comments today are so revealingly weird, but in my mind, all is forgiven by the great Edward G. snip he has provided.

Way to easy for a Wednesday, and I can't keep track of all the possible letters following LGB...

Carola 10:17 AM  

Put me in the "loved it" group - I couldn't believe the way the lovely entries just kept on coming: SKETCHES OF SPAIN (happen to own it), THE WAVES, HERALDS, ZEITGEIST, ZEPHYR, WRITHES, COLOGNE, IRISH SEA...GEE, even PEA GRAVEL. Also liked the detail of RAILED against WRONGS. I thought the theme was terrific - clever idea and such juicy theme answers. This one ranks very high on the pleasure charts for me.

pmdm 10:21 AM  

In my own world, I would rate this as a vanity puzzle. I think Will tends to jam in as many entires as he identifies with as he can. Perhaps that accounts for the high PPP count. But if these entries don't interest me, the puzzle lands flat with me. I wouldn't call it cutsy, and I am not offended by anything in it, but it hardly enthralls me. So this puzzle is aimed at a certain audience, but not me. And if I don't complain when a puzzle is not aimed at me (and I am not complaining here, just trying to make an observation), I dislike when I read damning comments aimed at puzzles I do identify with.

CDilly52 10:22 AM  

A wheelhouse bullseye (didn’t no need for any special EYEWEAR) for me today and an absolute sparkling gem of a puzzle, in my opinion. Solved like a themeless and then the wow!

Earlier I went on and on about the genius of construction, and am right there again today. The fact that the reveal was placed at the very end gave me a double-AHA! Not only is there a theme, but the sparkly, stand-alone long across answers are the clues. And the solver needs to mentally manipulate the clues to find the reveal answer. Tight!

@Lewis usually (OK, almost always) highlights many of the high points I also enjoy, and today is no exception. In fact, I really needn’t comment except to write, “What he said.”

Got a chuckle at PEA GRAVEL. I work with the elected County Commissioners in my three counties. They are sort of the equivalent of a city council, but for a district in their home county. In addition to administration of all county facilities, each is responsible for keeping the roads repaired in their respective districts. To do so, each has a budget with which to purchase emulsion, sand, gravel of various sizes and rock for erosion control. I have learned more about these things than I could ever imagine-which is part of why I love my job. A never ending banquet of new stuff to learn.

Anyway, even after all these years as a transplanted Okie, my rural folks get a chuckle at what one of my clients calls my “Yankee-ness.” One day a several years ago, when evaluating the six month bids for fungible goods such as road emulsion, sand, gravel, rock for rip-rap, (one of my very favorite “roadwork words”), etc, I noted that it appeared that one of our main vendors had not included the size of small rock I call PEA GRAVEL in his usual bid, so I asked whether the Commissioners thought he had omitted PEA GRAVEL on purpose. I got blank stares.

One of my guys with a very quick, dry wit asked “PEA GRAVEL,” (with his voice raising as a question on the word gravel) “Is that what you lawyers do when you are only moderately angry?” (Laughter from those assembled-which when we open bids tends to be lots more than usual-so those assembled got a good chuckle)

“No,” I answered, giving the assembled masses a good natured chuckle, “You know, the littlest rocks that you use for driveways and as part of the roadbed when you are doing the emulsion overlays. You know PEA GRAVEL.” Whereupon “Buzz,” one of our primary vendors for these kinds of fungible goods, and a down home Oklahoma “good ol’ boy’ chimes in in his soft drawl, from the audience, “I think that’s Yankee for crusher run-and she’s right, looks like old Vince left it off. Good news for me.”

Oh the intricacies if regionalisms. Anyway, I adored this puzzle and look forward to more from Mr. N.

RooMonster 10:24 AM  

As a tribute to this ridiculous, horrible year, I'm going to post "Things we're thankful for" once a day all December. Yes, there were some!

"Things we're thankful for"
Health care workers, who do their jobs with a smile (even if you can't see it) despite the long hours and daily risks they face.

RooMonster Thanks Guy

Sami 10:35 AM  

"So much on my mind. I just can't recline."

OMG, thank you @Neil, this BLACK STAR track is mind-blowing.

@John I don't know why so many people feel the need to take something that someone else obviously reveres or practices as a lifestyle, like homosexuality and rap, and surround it with hate. I think that "Who hurt you?" is a legit response to your outburst, showing an empathy -- however disingenuous -- which is clearly lacking in your life.

Black Star's "Respiration" as the soundtrack to my puzzle solving makes perfect sense. When Miles Davis is featured and an obvious connection to modern-day rap is acknowledged, we can move on. One person's Aria is another person's Bellagio. There are things in the puzzle that rankle me and seem unworthy every day. I wouldn't declare, "99.9% of you puzzle people don't care about Emma Chamberlain! Off with her head!" That's what you sound like, @Z when you write a gaffe that comes off like, "LGBT genre - good way to avoid the gays on film!"

I also find it ironic that a person would to try to defend the integrity of "The" language in a crossword puzzle blog. I know we put words and letters into little boxes, for fun. However, if you think about it, we are here because of our common need for elasticity, novelty and challenge - the "sparkle" that everyone speaks of is generally the twist, pun or deformation of our modes of communication. The nuance, the foreign word. The way everyone is gushing about "Zeitgeist," you'd think we were all fans of goose stepping. If you love 'Zeitgeist," and hate "Mos Def," and are ignorant of "Sketches of Spain" --- I truly think it is time you realign your cultural priorities.

burtonkd 10:36 AM  

I seem to recall Sketches of Spain coming up on the blog before. If you haven't done this before, listen to Concierto de Aranjuez, both as the original guitar concerto and Miles' take on it. Amazing to think this sold Platinum.

@ Anon 9:43 - pretty sure Z was ironically lamenting the state of mind of many people. Since Grauman was unknown to me and TNN is alphabet soup (not soap), LGBT finally coming to me saved the NE. Agreed that it would be better not to ghetto-ize movies with LGBT characters.

Have seen the complete canon of Miyazaki, but that is tough to remember the spelling of his first name. The English dubbing is generally fantastic.

Is there a more beautiful word than ZEPHYR?

jae 10:44 AM  

Medium-tough. Smooth with a couple of sparkly theme answers and some fun/interesting fill. Liked it.

HAYAO was a WOE and I always have trouble spelling SYSCO even though I see their trucks fairly frequently. There’s also the confusion with the tech company.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

saw the '1960' and the middle-ish F, and wanted 'Kind of Blue', rather more well known than 'SKETCHES OF SPAIN' and not much alike.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Black Star doesn't pass the breakfast test. The group is named for Marcus Garveys's shipping line. Mr. Garvey held some pretty repulsive views.

Frantic Sloth 10:55 AM  

Really enjoyed Rex's whole ZEST as outlier nit, but it didn't bother me while solving...and still doesn't.

@Joaquin 637am 🤣🤣🤣 Wonderful start to the comments!

@N.O.Clue 820am You described my thoughts about the LGBT "genre" beautifully and much more eloquently than I ever could. Thank you.

And then there are @Z 848am and @Unknown 900am who both make valid points, but like @Unknown I found @Z's take on the Netflix LGBT category alien to mine, but quite interesting. (He does that often-like)

Speaking of "Double Indemnity", I've always been kinda partial to what I call "the suppose scene".

@Joaquin 1016am Rim shot!

@CDilly52 1022am So happy you're here with another anecdote of hilarity! PEAGRAVEL, indeed!

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

I think it's LGBTJS. Har!

John 11:04 AM  

Here's some ammo..."What a pity" is right. LONG LIVE VICTIMHOOD for without it who would buy our music?

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

As a gay man, delighted to see GRINDR in there, but I think we can all agree it's not *really* a dating app...

Meanwhile, any puzzle with ZEITGEIST is a winner for me.

mathgent 11:12 AM  

Wonderful. Everything I like in a crossword

Happy to be reminded of the geometric definition of hyperbola. Of the three conic sections, the hyperbola and the ellipse can be defined in terms of two foci. The parabola can be defined in terms of one focus point.

I was reminded yesterday of an intriguing line I heard decades ago and never since. I was told that it was from Kafka but I haven't been able to find it among his famous quotes. "Last night I dreamt that I was a cockroach. Perhaps I am a cockroach dreaming that I am a man." Anyone know where it came from?

Banya 11:21 AM  

GRINDR is not a dating app. It's a hook-up app.

tea73 11:22 AM  

Major hiccup cause by the fact that perfumE and COLOGNE have the same number of letters. I also got hug up on EYEgEAR for far too long.

I don't like most jazz so did not immediately recognize the title, though it sounds familiar.

Sad that I did not know Miyazaki's first name since I liked the movies I've seen of his and have always meant to see more of them. Like Rex I consider HideO, but was pretty sure that was sports not anime.

I put in THEhourS, even though the movie had no beach scenes. I have never been able to read Virginia Woolf - she puts me to sleep.

Did not like LGBT in this context. I just didn't think that was the main point of Moonlight at least. I actually think Z is probably correct about why Netflix has that category. I know someone who is fine with LGBT as a concept, has many friends who are gay, but just doesn't want to see gay sex on screen. He misses some great movies due to that reluctance. He saw Moonlight and liked it.

I'm not a big fan of rap music, but it's definitely art and many of the lyrics are very clever and artful.

As for the theme, I had no problem that ZEST is pretty much the same thing as RIND, PEEL and SKIN, just a little thinner. Actually I think of it more like the SKIN of citrus fruit. You can't have a ZEST of any other kind of fruit can you?

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

'The Metamorphosis'

jberg 11:24 AM  

Like most here, I loved the theme and the fill. What a nice way to get in that Z! And I was glad of the ZEST, or I’d have been looking for cheeses. Also like many, no idea what Miyazaki’s first name was, though I love his movies.

Great uze, though not really bewildering.

bocamp 11:28 AM  

@Rex, wow, thx for the shout-out to "Hayao Miyazaki". I had no idea he was responsible for all those great films, many of which I've enjoyed. Also, had a bit of the side-eye for "omens", altho I dropped it in right off the bat. Agreed, "zest" is an outlier compared to the others, but not enough to be an issue for me. I do, however agree with @thfenn 8:14 AM's assessment.

Thx, "Mos Def" for allowing me to use your "d" for "Grindr"; might have been able to intuit the "d", but …

"No soap" may be old-timey, but it comes naturally to me, whereas, "no soup" is an unknown in my vocab.

@Joaquin 6:37 AM 😂

@Lewis 6:38 AM - Thank you, so much to chew on from your enlightened perspective. :)

@CDilly52 10:22 AM - Enjoyed your anecdote, as always, and learned about "crusher run".

@RooMonster 10:24 AM 👍

@Sami 10:35 AM - Some good points for all to consider. :)

Just checked out "The Waves" audiobook on RBdigital via my library. (thx to @Will at XWord Info).

Will & Jeff comments at XWord Info: here.

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

Peace 平和 Paz Frieden Pace Shanti صلح Pax Santiphap Amani 🕊

TTrimble 11:34 AM  

I think you misread what Rex wrote. He's saying that he had EYE?EAR and put in EYEgEAR instead of EYEWEAR. Of course EYEGEAR (EYE GEAR) is not unreasonable since "shades" can be interpreted as sunglasses. But it doesn't work for the across, as he already mentioned.

I agree with others that there's a very nice parade on display for word lovers. I don't really agree that the theme is convoluted or hard to understand. The puzzle felt like Wednesday-hard to me. (Or easy: I had a good time seen against my average.)

With the X's and Z's, almost a pangram. Missing are Q and J, unless I missed something.

It seems to me there was a some discussion about SKETCHES OF SPAIN last summer. Oh, here it is, as the marquis answer for a Saturday. I remember a certain Anonymous grumpily complaining about "woke" radio channels and the music of Miles Davis ("caterwauling"). I think it was that very day that the same Anonymous really threw down the gauntlet and made a certain regular here his permanent sniping target, which continues to this day. Me, I was relatively new to the commentariat section.

Recognize Will Nediger as a collaborator of Nancy's. Nice job, Will.

Z 11:38 AM  

@Several People - What @burtonkd said, i.e. ironically lamenting the state of mind of many people. Yes, Netflix’s good intentions is to market to people who are interested in the topic and people who want to see art that reflects their own experiences. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. @N.O. Clue’s categorizing the genre as LGBT strikes me as rather narrow and, even, ghettoizing, is on point. Netflix’s intent is positive, but some people will use a LGBT “genre” to exclude. People do the same thing to HAYAO Miyazaki (it’s just comics) and MOS DEF (rap ain’t art).

@Neil - C’mon Man. Don’t leave us hanging with no link.

@burtonkd C’mon Man. Don’t leave us hanging with no link.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

The Metamorphosis

Anoa Bob 11:39 AM  

The last three days have provided a tutorial of sorts on the optimum number of black squares, a.k.a. blocks, for a themed puzzle. Monday's puzzle had 44 blocks which severely constricted the grid and resulted in way too many 3- and 4-letter entries. Not much fun to be had with those.

Yesterday there were only 32 blocks (which is more typical of a themeless puzzle) but after the theme entries were in place, an excessive number of pluralizing Ss were needed to fill all that remaining open space. Three of those were of the two POCs with one S type and those are equivalent to cheater/helper squares. They could be change to black squares, the clues tweaked, and nothing of interest or value (other than symmetry) would be lost. Then the number of actual plus virtual blocks would be a 35. Seemed inelegant to me.

Which brings us to today's offering with 35 actual blocks. This seems to be close to the optimum number of blocks that allows both room for the themers and doesn't require too many crossword fill stratagems (POCs, partials, abbreviations, random Roman numerals, etc.) that would degrade the quality of the fill.

I believe that 34-36 blocks for a themed puzzle hits the sweet spot---plenty of space for themers, not too many short entries and not too many crosswordese gyrations needed to get the remaining open space filled in.

I join with those who were delighted by the ZEITGEIST and ZEPHYR combination. The former took me back to grad school days and talk of ZEITGEISTs and paradigms and paradigm shifts.. The latter is still part of my life. When I bought my sailboat in '99 I was looking for a proper name for her. I was doing an xword puzzle, don't recall which one, and I came across the clue "Gentle breeze". When the answer turned out to be ZEPHYR I knew I had found the name I was looking for. I even have an artist's rendering of the Greek god of the west wind, Zephyrus, on display down in the cabin.

Whatsername 11:45 AM  

I agree with @Nancy that nothing I say could possibly top @Joaquin’s first comment of the day. OH SNAP! Wish I’d said that. However, I won’t let that stop me from saying nothing I could say.

Had a terrible time with this, couldn’t get going in the NW corner. I disliked the clues for 1D and 1A both. After a zinger you say GOTCHA or even SHEESH! The weird name didn’t help and the album was before my time. Then over in the southeastish area had a big snarly mess with WIGGLES for WRITHES and absolutely no idea on the dating app, the rapper or which SEA. NO SOAP is an expression I’ve never heard in all my decades of hearing expressions, and the only variety of herring I know is pickled.

I know yesterday was a tough act to follow, maybe partly why I didn’t enjoy this one much. But on a happy note, it made ME think of a funny line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding: “We are all different but in the end we are all FRUIT.”

egsforbreakfast 11:52 AM  

Miles Davis: Hey, Degas. I like your engravings of nudes at the bathing resort. What do you call them?
Degas: Etches of Spa Skin
Miles: Mind of I rework that and hide the skin a bit for my next album?
Degas: Bien sur!

And thus .....

Another very fun puzzle. No noteworthy complaints from me for 6 or so days in a row now. Maybe it’s something in the air, when even Bill Barr is singing a happy tune.

GILL I. 11:57 AM  

NOSIREEBOB(Will?) this wasn't a hump day. Although I loved it to bits and pieces, I think it belonged in a Thursday slot. And I had the Nazi Seinfeld's NO SOUP. BUT........and I'm sad..... some of you haven't heard of SKETCHES OF SPAIN. Oh bring tears to my eyes hearing the finest guitarist on this earth, Narciso Yepes, playing the rendition of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranuez. Maybe @Frantic or @bocamp or @Joe D can get you to hear it...? Miles does a beautiful, longing, soulful rendition as well. I heard it at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Talk about wonderment...
OK...on to the puzzle. So I finished it and stood staring. I mean it took a loooong time to finish, what with all the Z's and such. I forget how to spell GRAUMAN, I've never seen Moonlight and now you're going to get me to go visit GRINDR. Doesn't LIPO have two TEE's? I once saw a TV thing where they show you how they remove the fat. The surgeon looks like he's shoving and pulling out the intestines of a pig...Perhaps to make sausage?
@Joaquin....Hah!....Damn tootin!
So my new avatar is paying homage to my NANA TRYST. The picture is me an my NANA on her 80th birthday. She was one fine smart lady and I miss her to bits.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

yeah, what exactly is the difference betwixt perfumE and COLOGNE? other than one being a town?

old timer 12:20 PM  

I thought it was Tuesday easy, almost easier, and was a little disappointed it did not put up more of a challenge. HAYAO and THE WAVES were the only things I did not know right off. The latter is easily inferable from the clue.

It helped a lot being old enough to know about things like PEAGRAVEL, to be a Comcast customer, and to have grown up in LA. And to know where Man is, and to have crossed the (duh!) IRISH SEA my first trip to Ireland (so easy to fly these days, but the boat from Dublin to Liverpool was a hoot, and way cheaper than flying, back in the day).

Also helped to be a fan of the old Daily Show. Jon Stewart was always saying "OH SNAP!" a phrase I have almost never heard anyone else use.

Malsdemare 12:31 PM  

I have to get to work so I’ll be brief. I really liked the puzzle. No coplaint about ZEST or Virginia Woolf novels or rappers or an obscure to me Miles Davis album.

One quibble with Rex. I read “breaking mirrors as “mirrors that are breaking.” So the clue worked just fine.

I guess I don’t get Z’s negative assumption to LGBT as a category on Netflix. There are all sorts of movie genres that I prefer not to watch (LGBT not being one of them). I’ll admit it’s sad that some would avoid them because of their content, but they have a right to that. So many movies, so little time, and all that. Years ago when I was still teaching about stereotypes and discrimination, I showed Lily Tomlin’s “The Celluloid Closet” to my class. In it Tomlin talks about how lesbians and gays were (at that time, maybe still) starved for mainstream media that reflected the lives of the LGBT community, and how they examined movies for any hint of the kind of romance THEY experienced, looking for those iconic romantic scenes—the soulful looks, the first kiss, the hero and heroine tumbling blissfully into bed—with two men or two women. It was a challenge, at the very least, leading to some pretty fanciful re-envisioning of scenes (one involving Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur). There’s an ad on TV for some HIV drug that features a gorgeous kiss between two Black men at the end. I LOVE that scene. So I think it’s great if someone can locate a movie that’s going to make the heart soar.

This is really long and ramble-y. Sorry. And I really DO have to work. Yikes!

Fun puzzle.

Frantic Sloth 12:46 PM  

@Z 1138am Just to clarify...my comment about your comment about @N.O. Clue's comment just assumed @burtonkd's 1036am comment was the case. I just never thought of it that way and your statement made me realize that "Huh. There probably are those who would use the LGBT category like that." And then @tea73 122am offers an example of same.
Just so's ya know.

@egs 1152am 🤣🤣🤣

TTrimble 12:56 PM  

Speaking of FOCI, the book Geometry and the Imagination by Hilbert (yes, that Hilbert) and Cohn-Vossen has a glorious proof of the characteristic property of the foci for ellipses and hyperbolas. Maybe you know this book, but if not, I recommend to your attention their section 2 near the beginning of the book. Beautiful!

(For readers who think of themselves as math-phobic, the characteristic property for ellipses can be easily described with the help of a length of string, two push-pins, and a piece of paper, and follow Figure 3 here. The foci of the ellipse are where the push-pins are at.

I went to undergraduate school at Johns Hopkins where they had a reading room (was it Gilman Hall?) with a whispering chamber. See also Figure 13. If two people place themselves at the FOCI, then even though they are placed far apart, each can hear the other's whispers, because the sound waves from one focal point reflect off the elliptical wall and then come together at the other focal point. Hey, why do you think they call it a focal point?)

Masked and Anonymous 1:07 PM  

Another example of a theme mcguffin that's been done before -- but a primo puz, in its own right.

staff weeject pick: KEW. KEWt weeject.

fave fillins: SHEESH. COLOGNE. ZEPHYR. NOSOAP. THEWAVES (learned somethin new, there).
fave themer: ZEITGEIST. (Literally: time ghost, I think.)

Thanx for the zesty puz, Mr. Nediger. Good job.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

@JC66 -- re: yer POC-runtpuz request from yesterday: @AnoaBob is sorta correct. M&A did issue a runt called "Plurals of Inconvenience" a while back. Altho ... it wasn't quite like the one U suggested. The one U requested has some interestin repetition "challenges" … See example of that, below (and early Merry Xmas, to @AnoaBob & @JC66). Thanx.


StraightGuyWillingToLearn 1:07 PM  

Can someone explain what GRINDR is if not a gay dating app?

Tori Sandifer 1:11 PM  

This was going great for me until I got to NO SOAP crossed with SOT and SHEESH. That's just a lot of phrases I'm not familiar with. I enjoyed ZEITGEIST/ZEPHYR and XFINITY and XGAMES existing. LGBT crossing with a proper name could have been a Natick for me, but I'm just prickly about names in general

Nigel Pottle 1:12 PM  

Loved this puzzle - it makes up for the blah one of yesterday which so many were impressed with. But such great words -ZEPHYR and ZEITGEIST as many have pointed out. To the person who described gay as a lifestyle: being gay is not like choosing what you’ll wear to work, or what kind of furniture you have in your home, or what car you drive. It’s a deep part of a person’s existence. It is. It is not chosen. I recognize the sense that you were attempting to be tolerant. Thank you. However you would be better to think of gayness as innate, not something taken on as a disguise.

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

I’m an Atheist who realizes that there are probably plenty of fundamentalist Muslims and Christians who appreciate the heads up that Netflix gives to them. I don’t know why so many here are troubled by this.

bocamp 1:38 PM  

@Z 11:38 AM - Well said, and thx for the links on behalf of @Neil & @burtonkd. 👍

@Anoa Bob 11:39 AM - Enjoyed your "Zephyr" anecdote. :)

@GILL I. 11:57 AM 👍 - Joaquín Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez" - Narciso Yepes

@TTrimble 12:56 PM - thx for the "foci" related links :)

Peace 平和 Paz Frieden Pace Shanti صلح Pax Santiphap Amani 🕊

Graham 1:40 PM  

I wonder how Rex feels about the word “pith”

Jeff B. 1:58 PM  

Thanks to Rex for the awesome E.G.Robinson monologue for NOSOAP.

Hungry Mother 2:08 PM  

A sloggy solve after spending a half day off and on with SB. Lots of names, showing laziness of construction. Am I BAITING?

ow a paper cut 2:13 PM  

I’m with those happy to see zeitgeist and zephyr

Hungry Mother 2:22 PM  

Nice to see David Hilbert mention in the comments. I owe my career to his work.

JC66 2:24 PM  

Surprised no one has mentioned NO SOAP, Radio.

GILL I. 2:40 PM  

@bocamp...Oh...thank you so much. Every time I hear Yepes play Concierto de Aranjuez it brings tears to my eyes. Perhaps only John Williams can play it as well. You haven't lived till you've gone to the Alhambra in Granada and listened to it play in its full regalia.

TTrimble 2:54 PM  

@Hungry Mother 2:22 PM
Care to elaborate? I'm listening...

In some way or other, many of us are in his debt. For me it feels more indirect: the mathematics in Göttingen in the first few decades of the 20th century, and its promotion of axiom-based abstraction typified by Hilbert and Emmy Noether, inaugurated a revolution in how we think of mathematics. I get the sense, for example, that the French became a little envious by the fact that the center of the mathematical world had arguably passed on from Paris to Göttingen, and of the fantastic advances being made there in algebra and number theory. Perhaps this fact had much to do with the creation of Bourbaki (although I'm not prepared to argue this point on a thoroughly scholarly level).

My mathematical great uncle Saunders Mac Lane earned his doctorate in Göttingen. I'm not sure he had much contact with Hilbert himself -- he was more a protégé of Hermann Weyl who was a protégé of Hilbert. But he was certainly immersed in its intellectual traditions.

JC66 2:59 PM  


Thanks. Great puz. What took you so long. ;-)

Z 3:03 PM  

@JC66 - @Xcentric asked about it at 9:36. Thanks for the link, though. Somehow I had never heard of it enough for me to remember it.

@StraightGuyWillingToLearn - I believe both Tinder and GRINDR have reputations as more “one night stand” sites as opposed to dating sites.

@TTrimble - I quietly whispered to myself “hyperbolae but it really should be hyperbolopodes.” 🧐

@Frantic Sloth 12:46 - 👍🏽 - Enough people misunderstood my original intent I thought it best to give a less cheeky explication.

@Malsdemare - I don’t watch blood and gore horror. Just not my thing. I find gore disgusting not entertaining. Is that really equivalent to someone who says “I find gay romance disgusting not entertaining?”

GHarris 3:05 PM  

Wait! What! Rex says he finished in under 5 minutes but had to spend another 2 minutes searching for the word he’d gotten wrong. So I don’t think he “finished “ until he finished which was more like 7 minutes. At least that’s how the world would calculate my time (if it cared).

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

Someone did. See Xcentric 9:36 AM

bocamp 3:15 PM  

@JC66 2:24 PM - I see @Z 3:03 PM already mentioned @Xcentric 9:36 AM, but I too, thank you for the link. I don't recall ever having heard of "No soap radio". I certainly do recall "no soap" being a thing back in the day, pretty much as clued. As the article attests, peer pressure is a very insidious influence.

"No-Soap" Radio! - Homer singing in the shower

No Soap Radio rock band - The Sopranos

@GILL I. 2:40 PM - yw, and I'll put it on my bucket list. :)

- 13

Peace 平和 Paz Frieden Pace Shanti صلح Pax Santiphap Amani 🕊

Doc John 3:43 PM  

When I was a kid, there was a joke whose punchline was “No soap, radio.” Although we’d tell it over and over, we really had no clue as to what it meant. At least it came in handy here.
@RooMonster- as a frequent visitor to Vegas I was also put off by the Aria clue. I always recalled that the Jockey Club condo was immediately adjacent to Bellagio. But, since Aria was the only four-letter hotel in the vicinity, in it went.

John Waters 5:31 PM  

Anon 1:28 PM: The secular fundamentalists are the doppelgängers of Muslim and Christian fundamentalists. Neither group has a live and let live philosophy.

burtonkd 5:35 PM  

@Z - since you linked the other, here is another jazz standard based on the same guitar concerto. Chick Corea's Spain intro - here with Bobby McFerrin and Corea.

And here is the original guitar concerto. The 2nd movement that inspired the other works starts at 7:28, but the whole thing is a good listen.

Anoa Bob 5:48 PM  

Thanks to @M&A for giving that gruntz puzz gem another outing. It brought out some visceral laughing the first time around and it didn't lose any of its guffaw inducing power the second time around.

Joe 6:11 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle. And the Edward G. Robinson monologue. Thanks Rex!

Anonymous 6:20 PM  

Of course they’re equivalent. Each statement is a judgment of what appears on screen.
You’ll cry foul, no doubt. But you’re on shaky ground. This is the problem of relativism. Without something called(absolute or objective) truth, everything, ultimately, becomes a referendum on taste.
In the above example, it’s fair to all you a gore bigot.

Z 8:29 PM  

Reductio ad absurdum!

albatross shell 8:49 PM  

The Orlando movie I mentioned yesterday was based on a. Virginia Woolf novel written for her lover. A 1600's Elizabethan court dandy becomes immortal and ageless and eventually awakes one morning to find he is a woman. Swinton plays the title role in both sexes.

Finished this puzzle despite Natick crossings and unknowns. The H in HAYAO and OHSNAP. The M in MANO and MOSDEF (knew him but not the duo). The O in MANO and DOS. I thought DOS was 2, hence 20% for some reason. MANO is hand with fingers? Or hand as in hired hand as in man? No idea, but my best guess possible, and the music played.

SHEESH, at some point beach in the clue gives you THEWAVES.

DYED dead RED: mouth bow instrumental by Buffy Saint Marie on the exceptional Performance Soundtrack album. Ry Cooper, Randy Newman singing Gone Dead Train, Jagger doing Memo from Turner. Here's Jagger:

Here's Newman:

Happy Happy Joy Joy.
Didn't anybody notice Rex's mood changed as Trump's defeat sank in?

Anonymous 8:53 PM  

Where’s the reduction?

Kathy 11:35 AM  

Yes, enjoyed the smooth and peppy solve, except, as others have noted, the clueing of “Moonlight” and “Call Me By Your Name,” two Best Picture-caliber films and two of the best films of the last few years, as “LGBT.” A completely out-of-touch and dismissive “genre” assignation, IMO.

Roy Dimaggio 9:37 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
thefogman 9:46 AM  

With so many puzzles in the KEW why print one lacking ZEST and aPEEL?

spacecraft 10:53 AM  

I must be getting better at the new language. Though I still don't understand it, OHSNAP has become familiar--thanks only to the puzzles I do; I've still never *heard* anyone say it. Also, as much as I try to ignore rap, MOSDEF became apparent after only a few crosses. Kinda like DRDRE or NAS/LILNAS. XFINITY has seeped into the old brain finally, but GRINDR? That baby needed all the crosses. However I will say that I was more ready to accept the no-vowel ending than in prior days. Site titles often drop vowels, it seems.

What a beautiful use of Z! A challenge to other constructors to top ZEPHYR/ZEITGEIST--and a challenge to this one to see if he can do it with a Q, J, or X. No DOD today, but that's okay, it's still a solid birdie.

Burma Shave 2:35 PM  


GEE, THEWAVES are waiting,
and with HER mailman some RIOTOUS neckin’,
with HER postmaster BAITING.


Diana, LIW 3:04 PM  

Don't watch much TV, and misspelled GRAUMAN, so had a 2-letter dnf. Which didn't surprise me. All the rest was fairly Mon/Tues easy. For me. That's all.

Diana, Lady in Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 3:04 PM  

Liked this puzzler a lot.

Rex takes issue, and he knows his stuff, but ZEST works for me as part of the outside of a FRUIT along with the SKIN, etc.

Hesitated on KEW, RIEL (instead of RIaL), and the GRINDR dating app.

ZIETGEIST is a nifty word.

NW corner was last to go, and the Y in the HAYAO/EYEWEAR cross was last letter in, concluding with a pleasureful sigh.

leftcoaster 10:32 PM  


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